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SUBJECT

OF

THE

TREATISE.

XIII

the

Christian ministry into

a

privileged order, superior in spiritual

dignity to

the

Christian

people,

and

to

exalt the

church

above

the

gospel.

When

we

hear

Cyprian

affirming

that

every bishop

is

in his

own church, for

the

present,

judge

in

Christ's

stead;

and

that

our

Lord

Jesus

Christ,

one

and

only,

has power to prefer us to

the

go-

vernment of

his church

and to

judge

of

our actings

;1when

we

hear

Basil

asserting

that

a

church governor

(xcanyóv¡kevos)

is

neither

more

nor

less

than

one

sustaining

the

person

of

Christ

(öuóev

Ërepov

;ens,

ñ

t

nu

eoirijpos

sareyav

orp6oaorov);5

or

Chrysostom saying,

"

We

have received

the

commission of ambassadors,

and

are

come from

God;

for

this

is

the

dignity of

the

episcopate;

"$

such

magnilo-

quence, however

its terms may

be

interpreted,

too surely indicates

the

direction which

the

stream

was

taking.

A

vague notion,

apparently

countenanced by

some expressions

of

the

early

fathers,' though plainly

at

variance with

the

doctrine of

the

New Testament,

that

the

Christian ministry

was

formed on

the

model

of

the

Aaronic priesthood, may have induced

some,

in

that

infantine

age,

to

yield more

readily

to

these

assumptions.

It

is

needless

to

show

that the

ancient priesthood

was

emblematical,

not

of

the

Christian ministry,

but

of

the

priesthood of

Christ in present-

ing

the

great

oblation by which all

the

sacrificial

types of

the

temple

were fulfilled;

and

of

the

priesthood of

the Christian

people, who

are

enjoined to

"present

their

bodies

a

living

sacrifice,

holy

and

accept-

able

to

God."

But

how sorely

the

advocates

of sacerdotal

power were

put

to

their

shifts

in

attempting

to

bolster

up

their title

is

apparent

from

the

fictions

and

forgeries,

unparalleled in audacity and in

num-

ber, which

they

invented.

We

instance

only

the

counterfeit

epistles

of

the

apostolic

Ignatius,

the

interpolated

works of

Cyprian,

the

ficti-

tious

councils

of

the

church,

and

the

fabulous Apostolical Canons

and

Institutions,

all

of

them

more or

less

tending to

invest

the "clergy"

as

the

officers

or

servants

of

the

church began

to

call themselves)

with

a

power

equivalent to

that

of

their

divine

Master

himself.

The

neces-

sary consequence

of all

this

was

the gradual

depression

of

the

" laity,".

that

is,

the

people

(xaós)

of Christ,

and

the

exclusive claim of

the

clergy

to represent

the church. One

thing

only

was

wanting

to

com-

plete

this

strange perversion

of

Christianity. A priesthood required

some

instrument of mediation; an altar, a

victim,

a

sacrifice,

must

be

found or invented. This

was

done

by converting

the

simple feast of

1

Cypr.,

F.p.

lv.

8

Basil. Const.

Mon., cap.

xxii.

a

Chrysost.

in

Coloss.

Orat. iii.

4

The allusion of

Clemens Romanus,

in his only genuine epistle

to the

Corinthians,

to

the Jewish hierarchy, is

susceptible of

a

sense

very different

from

that

afterwards

as-

signed to

it.