Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  Titus 2:13

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Thus on all sides they have applied this doctrine to the correction of misconduct, and in so doing they have offered their antitypical charger.

 

(16) In offering their bowl—refutations—the crown-lost leaders of the Lutheran Church have had to meet the ablest and subtlest attacks that Romanist controversialists could make. And some of these were men of great talent, learning and dialectic skill. Cardinal Bellarmine in the field of dogmatics, Cardinal Baronius in the field of Church History and Bishop Bossuet in the field of elegant authorship have been Rome's chief champions, Bellarmine being easily the ablest of these three. Bellarmine made as good a showing for the bad cause that he had to champion as perhaps could have been done by any human being. Unlike most Catholic controversialists he clearly, copiously and truly stated all the Protestant arguments and then sought to refute them. This fair course of his was one of the two reasons that moved Pope Sextus VI to put Bellarmine's greatest controversial work, his Disputations, on the Index of Expurgated Books, fearing that such statements of the Protestant arguments would injure the Catholic cause. Later this work was taken off of the Index and is and has for centuries been considered by Romanists and Protestants as the ablest anti-Protestant work. It is a four-volumed quarto work. The fact that the Lutherans were in error on the point that one's faith justification admitted him to heaven, and their not seeing that carrying out one's consecration—a matter of good works—was the condition of his entering heaven, gave Roman controversialists a certain vantage point, which they improved to the utmost against the pertinent erroneous view of the Lutherans. But on the subject of justification by faith alone, which relates to the humanity, not to the New Creature, the Lutherans had the Truth and triumphantly refuted every argument against it advanced by their papal opponents.

 

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(17) When the papists argued that justification means to make right, and that therefore it is by good works, antitypical Elishama replied that on this subject the word justification suggests a court scene and is used in a judicial sense, and therefore means to declare or reckon right, not to make right (Prov. 17: 15; Ex. 23: 7; Deut. 25: 1; Is. 5: 23; Rom. 4: 3-8, 11, 22-24). When the papists argued that by the works of the law, through which one is not justified, St. Paul meant the ceremonial law as distinct from the ten commandments, antitypical Elishama answered that the ceremonial law in its sacrifices typically justified and did not condemn. Moreover he proved that the moral law—the law of love—set forth in the ten commandments was the law that St. Paul meant when he showed that by the works of the law man could not be justified (Rom. 7: 5-8; 3: 1020; the examples of acts here cited come under the ten commandments, not under the ceremonial law). When the papists argued that the very nature of good works is to justify, antitypical Elishama answered: (1) that the religious works of the heathen—supposedly good works—provoked God's wrath and effected not His justifying but His condemning them (Rom. 1: 19-25, 32); (2) that the man-made so-called good works of God's nominal people do not bring justification, but disapproval from God (Matt. 15: 9; Is. 1: 12); (3) that living according to the law of nature on the part of the unjustified does not justify before God, it being imperfect (Rom. 2: 14, 15; 3: 9, 19); and (4) that the best efforts of those under the law failed to justify them (Matt. 5: 20; Acts 13: 39; Rom. 3: 19, 20; Gal. 3: 10-12). When the papists asserted that God would not have given the law as a means of gaining life, if man could not keep it, antitypical Elishama answered that God Himself said that imperfect man could not keep the perfect law and by it gain life (Rom. 3: 19, 20; 8: 68; Gal. 3: 10-12, 21; Acts 13: 39), because the perfect

 

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law is the full measure of a perfect man's ability, and therefore is beyond the ability of one less than perfect, and that God gave the law for other reasons, especially that man might come to a knowledge of sin and his inability to save himself (Rom. 3: 20; 7: 7-13), feel the need of a Savior (Rom. 7: 15-24) and have the law lead him to the Savior (Gal. 3: 24). When the papists objected that faith, which they defined as belief, could not justify, antitypical Elishama proved that their definition of faith was false, since Scripturally faith is mental appreciation and heart's reliance (Heb. 11: 1), and proved that God asserted that such a faith does justify (Rom. 3: 21—5: 1). When the papists objected that righteousness of one could not justify another, antitypical Elishama proved that it could (Rom. 3: 25-28; 4: 3-8, 11, 22-24; 10: 4; 1 Cor. 1: 30; Phil. 3: 9), and that as logically as the sin of one could condemn another (Rom. 5: 12-19; 1 Cor. 15: 21, 22).

 

(18) When the papists argued that God would not allow the Church to err on justification or on any other subject, antitypical Elishama answered that God had never promised to keep even the true Church, let alone the Romish Church, free from error, but that He had foretold that under Antichrist's manipulations the Roman Church would greatly err (2 Thes. 2: 4-11; Rev. 13: 1-10; 17: 3-6; 18: 2-24; 19: 2, 3). When the papists quoted those passages that show good works must be performed, if one would obtain the kingdom, antitypical Elishama answered that they belonged, not to justification, but to sanctification, which was true, but which did not explain these passages in harmony with his thought that justification entitles one to a heavenly inheritance apart from good works, which he insisted resulted from a true justifying faith and which evidenced it as such. While this answer vindicated justification by faith, it did not vindicate their view that faith justification, which pertains to the humanity,

 

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entitles one to the eternal heavenly inheritance, a thing of the New Creature. When the papists claimed that Christ's merit does not in justification secure for us the satisfaction of God's justice, and thus the forgiveness of sins from God, but that it secures for us the infusion of charity by which we are made just, antitypical Elishama showed that the infusion of charity belongs to sanctification which comes after justification (Rom. 12: 1, 2; 6: 7, 3-16, 13-22; Gal. 5: 22-25; Eph. 5: 9; Col. 3: 1, 12-14), and showed that Christ's merit satisfies God's justice and thus secures forgiveness for us (Matt. 20: 28; 1 Tim. 2: 5, 6; 2 Cor. 5: 18, 19; Eph. 1: 7; 2: 13-16; Col. 1: 14, 20-22; 2 14; Rom. 3: 22-26; 4: 6-8, 25; 5: 8-11; Heb. 7: 27; 9: 11-15, 22, 24, 26; 10: 12, 18, 19; 13: 12; 1 John 1: 7—2: 2; 4: 10). When Catholic theologians insisted that the Catholic doctrine on this subject be accepted, as being the doctrine of God's infallible "channel," antitypical Elishama declared that that "channel" not getting its waters from the reservoir of Truth—the Bible—must be getting them from the swamp of error, and therefore could not be the channel whose teachings are pure and therefore should be accepted (Gal. 1: 6-9; Is. 8: 20; Acts 5: 29; John 17: 17; 2 Tim. 3: 15-17). From these standpoints and from every other standpoint unanswerably did antitypical Elishama refute every argument that was urged against the doctrine of justification by faith, and thus he offered the antitypical bowl.

 

(19) Finally, he offered the antitypical spoon filled with incense—instructions in righteousness: He used this doctrine to incite his hearers to honor God for His grace to man and to honor Christ for His ministry for man. He used it to reveal God's wisdom, justice, love and power, and thus sought to arouse his hearers to the faith that implicitly trusts God, to the hope that desires and expects blessings from Him, to the love that thanks and appreciates Him for the good He does

 

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and is, and to the obedience that delights to serve Him as the one who deserves their obedience. He used it to comfort the distressed and believing sinner. He applied it to stimulate self-control in temptation and patience amid obstacles to well doing. He made it the basis of exhortations to consecration. He preached it to strengthen the weak and faint. He held it up as the foundation of peace with God and the peace of faith. He presented it as the source and stimulus to joy. He based upon it exhortations to forgive as freely as God forgives. He used it to stimulate parents to greater kindness and longsuffering toward their children, especially to wayward ones, and to stimulate laborers for others' salvation to more compassion. He formed from it the ground of many an exhortation to longsuffering and forbearance. It was used by him to influence people to greater love for sinners, as being such as God loves, and as Christ died for, and thus to greater evangelistic efforts. The fact that it implies man's inability to make himself acceptable to God antitypical Elishama used to incite to humility on the part of his hearers. He used it, as revealing God's liberality, as an incitement to greater liberality for others. He employed it as an exhortation to practice righteousness, inasmuch as that would make one more in harmony with the righteousness imputed to him. He utilized it to incite to courage manward, inasmuch as in its possessors all was confidence Godward. He applied it to give courage in the face of death, since Christ's merit would free them' in due time from death. He used it to enkindle love for the brotherhood, similarly blessed by justification. He utilized it to incite to hatred of sin, since it slew the Lord, whose grace so greatly blesses. Thus he applied this doctrine as a powerful instruction in righteousness.

 

(20) Fittingly did this doctrine give the Lutheran Church the chief place in the camp to the West of the antitypical Tabernacle—the direction of justice; for the

 

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doctrine of faith justification, more effectively than all other teachings, harmonizes with, clarifies and glorifies God's justice, as it also remarkably exhibits His wondrous wisdom and love. And let us rejoice that the crown-lost leaders of the Lutheran Church have so ably, continually and fruitfully set forth the corrections of misconduct, refutations of error and instructions in righteousness pertinent to the glorious doctrine of justification by faith.

 

(21) The next set of princely offerings that we are to consider is that of the Congregational crown-lost leaders— typed by Gamaliel, the son of Pedahzur, the prince of Manasseh. The significance of his name and his father's name shows his office. The word, Gamaliel, means the recompense of God, indicative of the fact that an advocate of a right order of church government will not get a reward from the clericalists, but will from God, while at the same time his teachings will be God's recompense—spiritual punishment—on clericalists. The word, Pedahzur, means the deliverer is a rock—strong, indicative of the strength of the Scripture arguments that the Congregational crown-lost leaders used in delivering saints from all clerical bondage into the Divine order of church government. In studying the Jacob type in the generating of his sons, we noted the fact that Manasseh being a son of Joseph and not of Jacob, the Congregational Church is not represented by a particular son of Jacob, but comes under the type of Judah—the type of the Calvinistic churches. This is appropriate, because apart from church government the Congregationalists have been thoroughly Calvinistic in their doctrines and practices. Moreover, their church government principle has been accepted by the Baptists, Unitarians, Christians, Adventists and by large sections of the Lutheran Church, as we have shown above. But in the tabernacle picture the Lord has used Manasseh to type the Congregational Church.

 

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(22) The Church is organized. Yea, according to the Scriptural figure of a human body as illustrating its organization, we are warranted in calling it an organism. In this organism the Lord Jesus is Head and the rest of the Faithful are the Body. But the figure is much more detailed, the general outlines of which are given in the spine. The spine consists of (1) the seven cervicals, (2) the twelve dorsals and (3) five lumbars, one sacrum and one coccyx. We understand the seven cervicals, which connect the head and body, to represent the seven angels of the seven churches, the seven connecting links between the Lord and the Church in its seven stages. We understand the twelve dorsals and their twelve sets of ribs to represent the twelve Apostles and the twelve tribes of which the Church consists, each tribe being in the Lord led by an Apostle. We understand the five lumbars, the one sacrum and the one coccyx to represent the Church in its seven stages: the five lumbars, the Church in the five stages between the two harvests; the sacrum, the Ephesus stage; and the coccyx, the Laodicean stage; and the five features of the one sacrum and of the one coccyx to symbolize that these two churches consist largely of the five groups united in one, called in the five call periods of the Jewish and Gospel Harvests, and tested by the five harvest siftings. The right arm and hand represent respectively the Christ's members in their power of expounding and defending the Truth and of serving in such work. The left arm and hand represent respectively the Christ's members in their power of refuting error and of serving in such work. The right leg and foot represent respectively the Christ's members in their power of right living and in their practice of right living. The left leg and foot represent respectively the Christ's members in their power of overcoming wrong conduct and in their practice of such overcoming. The feet considered apart

 

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from the legs picture the last members. These are the generalities of this organism.

 

(23) Dropping the figure, we might say that Jesus governs the Church as its Monarch; and that He uses as His servants to minister to the Church: (1) apostles, (2) prophets, (3) evangelists and (4) pastors or teachers. But these servants are not the lords of the general Church, nor of particular ecclesias. Accordingly, the apostles and prophets are not lords over the general Church, nor lords over local churches, as the evangelists are not lords of the babes that they beget, and as pastors or teachers are not lords over a local church. These brethren, instead of being lords, are servants of the Church, the former two sets, of the general Church; of the latter two sets, the first, of the babes that they beget, and the second, of the local churches. On invitation from a local church the former two sets could minister to it. The second class of the latter two sets are limited in their service to local churches, while the evangelists work on outsiders to bring them into the body. Thus the Lord Jesus alone is the Lord of the Church, the Head of the Body, the general Church, as He alone is also the Head of the local churches. Apart from His use of the Apostles and that Servant in a ruling capacity as His special representatives, His use of representatives is for servant and not rulership purposes, both in the general Church and in local churches. He has not given the general Church the rulership over local churches, nor has He given any local church the rulership over other local churches or over the general Church. Apart from the thirteen persons above-mentioned, who had certain delegated ruling powers under Christ in the general Church, Jesus made each church free from the rulership of every other church, and free under His headship to manage all its own affairs according to its understanding of His will. This makes each ecclesia mistress in its own midst, subject to its understanding

 

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of the Lord's will. This makes Christ the monarch of each ecclesia in its relation to Him and makes each ecclesia a democracy as respects itself and other persons, ecclesias or ecclesiastical organizations. According to the above, the Lord used the twelve Apostles to bind and loose as to all churches and the general Church and to manage the work toward and of the general Church. And He used that Servant to interpret all things so bound and loosed and to manage the work of and toward the general Church. This they severally did in their respective Harvests as antitypical Eleazar. The Lord has used other specially authorized servants to give the meat in due season, but not to manage the work toward and of the Little Flock, though they have by Him been used with pertinent authority in the work toward the justified, the Great Company and the Youthful Worthies.

 

(24) In the two foregoing paragraphs we have given a brief description of the organization of the Church, general and local, and have explained briefly the polity or church government that is of Divine authority for the general Church and for local churches. In so doing we have, among other things, touched on the things that constitute the stewardship doctrine of the Congregational Church. That stewardship doctrine may be defined as follows: Each ecclesia of the Lord's people is, under Christ's Headship, the mistress of its own affairs, in complete independence of all other persons; ecclesias and ecclesiastical organizations, but acknowledges its ties with others in Christ for Christian fellowship and helpfulness. This doctrine we consider to be a Scriptural truth. It acknowledges that in a sense each ecclesia is an absolute monarchy—Christ being its absolute Ruler. It acknowledges in another sense—in the mutual relations of its constituent members as a company of saints—that it is under Christ a pure democracy, ruling its affairs by the unanimity or majority of its members. It rejects all external parties, be they

 

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individuals, churches or a combination of churches or leaders, from the right and practice of dictation or rulership in its affairs, though it welcomes other Christian individuals and churches in Christian fellowship and oneness with them in Christ and stands ready to help them in the Lord. This doctrine is briefly comprehended in the expression, Congregationalism or Ecclesiaism, one a Latin, the other a Greek derivative.

 

(25) This doctrine is capable of Scripture proof. It is an undoubted fact that the ecclesias formed by the Apostles managed their own affairs and that at the direction of Jesus and the Apostles who, among other things, were obligated to "bind" a proper church government on the ecclesias. The Apostles in exercising this binding power advised and sanctioned their electing their own officers: (1) the deacons-the seven deacons (Acts 6: 1-6) and the deacons of the churches to collect and carry their contributions to the poor saints at Jerusalem (2 Cor. 8: 19, 23; cheirotoneo, here translated "chosen," means elected by stretching forth the hand); and (2) elders (Acts 14: 23; here cheirotoneo is mistranslated "ordained"). The churches, under St. Paul's advice, decided matters of business, i.e., to contribute to the poor saints and to appoint the agents to administer the collection and delivery of the money (2 Cor. 8: 1-24). Hence under apostolic sanction the churches decided their business matters. Again, at Christ's charge (Matt. 18: 15-17) the administration of discipline is in the hands of the ecclesia, and St. Paul's accepted exhortation to the Corinthians unanimously to apply discipline to the incestuous brother (1 Cor. 5: 1-13) proves that that Church exercised discipline. Its later receiving by vote this brother when repentant (2 Cor. 2: 5-10) proves that the Church decided whether it should fellowship people or not. The ecclesias also sent out missionaries (Acts 13: 1-3). These five facts—(1) the churches' electing their elders and deacons, (2) transacting business, (3)

 

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exercising discipline, (4) receiving people into fellowship and (5) sending out missionaries, all under the Lord's and the Apostles' sanction—prove that under the Lord each ecclesia is the manager of its own affairs. This doctrine is also proven by the doctrine of the priesthood of consecrated believers (1 Pet. 2: 5, 9), which implies the equal priestly rights of the individual members of an ecclesia, and the consequent right of their settling their common interests by unanimity or majority, i.e., congregational rule. This doctrine is also true because it leads better than any other method of church government to the Divinely sanctioned development of the Christlike qualities required in the Lord's people in their relations to one another (Rom. 8: 29; 12: 2-8). Thus each ecclesia is by Divine institution a democracy in its government, yielding equal rights to all its members before the bar of church law, which facts are thoroughly compatible with the diversity in talent, attainment, function, etc., had by the various members of an ecclesia; even as the democracy of America is compatible with the diversity of talent, attainment, function, etc., in the American citizens, all of whom have, theoretically at least, equal rights before the law. It is this theoretical and practical recognition of the equal rights of the members of an ecclesia in church government, on the basis of the priesthood of its consecrated members, for which the Congregational Church stands, that has given it a standing at the antitypical West of the antitypical Tabernacle—it stands for Justice as its central doctrinal thought.

 

(26) The Little Flock brother through whom the Lord restored the Truth on each ecclesia's being under Christ's headship the manager of its own affairs in entire independence of outside persons, ecclesias or ecclesiastical bodies and leaders, and thus initiated the movement that was perverted into the Congregational Church, was Robert Browne. He was born three miles

 

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north of Stamford, Rutlandshire, England, about 1550, and died at Northampton in 1631. He came from a good family, which included such relations as the great Chancellor, Lord Burghley. He entered Corpus Christi College, a part of the Cambridge University, about 1568, and became B.A. in 1572. He taught school for three years, and made enemies by pointing out the fallen state of the Anglican Church. In 1578 he returned to Cambridge for further study and became a member of Richard Greenham's family, an eminently devout Puritan minister, who taught theology to him and encouraged him to preach. As a preacher he soon became eminent and was invited to accept one of the Cambridge pulpits. This he declined on the ground that he did not believe in Episcopal ordination and therefore would not submit to it. His pertinent mental conflicts broke down his weak bodily health. The religious formalism of his day distressed him and he greatly desired fellowship with truly consecrated people. He said of himself: "He had no rest what he might do for the name and kingdom of God. He often complained of these evil days, and with many tears sought where to find the righteous who glorify God, with whom he might live and rejoice together that they put away abomination." After his recovery he heard that there were such believers in Norfolk. Thither he went and remained some months, all the while studying the Bible and praying for light as to the way out of the formalism of the Church of England. These studies and prayers were blessed with the light that a true church consisted of consecrated believers, that its governmental powers were those of a democracy free from the dictation of outside persons, churches or groups of churches or leaders. This led him with some kindred spirits to form such a church at Norwich in 1580. He unfolded his views along the lines of what we gave above as the Bible teachings on the governmental powers of an ecclesia. With the thought of mutual help on the part of

 

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the brethren he made the mistake of introducing the custom of having regular ecclesia meetings for the members to criticize one another's faults; but this custom greatly injured all concerned. Had he introduced testimony meetings, the reverse effect would have set in.

 

(27) Naturally, such a theory of church government meant separation from the State-Church. Elizabeth was then on England's throne. As we saw above, she did not require as the law of the land uniformity of belief and teaching, but did require uniformity of church membership and worship, enforced by civil penalties. This law led to the persecution of Bro. Browne and his associates, who separated themselves from the State-Church and did not use the book of Common Prayer, the service which was and is in use in the Episcopal Church. Browne was penalized in no less than 32 prisons, in some of which he could not see his hand held before his face at noonday. These persecutions drove the little church to emigrate in a body to Holland, where they settled at Middelberg. Here they had freedom of faith and practice, so far as the State was concerned; and all went well with them for a time. Here Browne wrote several treatises strongly expounding and proving his doctrine on Church Democracy under Christ as Head. The pressure of hard times and the mutual criticism meetings by and by wrecked the congregation. Browne resigned his pastorate, and with a handful of followers returned to England by way of Scotland, in 1583. Soon afterward Browne ruined his Truth influence and compromised his movement by rejoining the Episcopal Church, which he did without Episcopal ordination and without repudiation of his principles, in some manner allowed this freedom through the influence of his uncle, Lord Burghley. There seems to be some reason to think that years of ill health, rigorous imprisonments, troubles in his Holland Church and the outbreak of fresh persecutions in England weakened his mind and made him "practically

 

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to a degree insane and sometimes wholly irresponsible." His writings on his special truth before this had been widely circulated in England, and when as many of them as could be found were in 1583 collected and burned at the hanging of two of his associates, Copping and Thacker, the authorities thereby indicated their belief that there was a considerable response to them on the part of the people. And persecution followed every revival of this movement for nearly a century.

 

(28) In ultimate analysis, Bro. Browne's teachings were a setting forth of the Truth on church government in opposition to papal error on that subject; but it was more than this. It was a protest against all the clericalistic forms of church government that have prevailed during the Gospel Age. It was a restoration of the original Apostolic form of church government to the Lord's people, so long lost to them. Thus it struck at the great apostasy's first wrong step with its further developments; for let us not forget that clericalism in the form of what later was called Presbyterianism and Episcopalianism were the first external workings of the great apostacy in church government, as its first secret working was the unholy ambition of certain leaders to become great among the brethren (2 Thes. 2: 7). It will help us to a better appreciation of the offerings of the Congregational Church's crown-lost leaders, if we consider step by step the apostacy in church government—the tree— trunk of all other branches of the great apostacy, the roots being the unholy ambition of certain leaders to become "somebodies." The constitution of the local churches in that they had elders as leaders became the point of departure for this apostasy's start. The Scriptural ideal is that these local elders are servants of the Lord and of the ecclesia, chosen by the Lord through the ecclesia's vote, not to lord it over, but to serve the ecclesia. During most of the Ephesian period of the Church, the

 

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warm love of the brethren for the Lord, the Truth and one another, expressing itself in much missionary activity, mutual upbuilding and relief of one another's earthly needs, and the faithful oversight of the Apostles, confined the ambition of the power-hungry leaders to the secret recesses of their own hearts. The Apostles forecast and warned against the great apostacy itself, e.g., St. Paul in Acts 20: 28-31, which, however, did not begin to show itself externally until after all the Apostles except St. John had passed away. St. John recounts some of the first external acts of this apostacy in connection with Diotrephes' [foster child of Jupiter—Satan] power-grasping activities (3 John 9, 10). Of course, during the five siftings of the Jewish Harvest there were more or less power-grasping acts committed by the sifters; but these were as sifters separated from the brethren, and are not included in the apostolically predicted great apostacy, which St. Paul foretold would come after his departure, which presumably occurred in 66 or 67 A. D., after the five siftings were over.

 

(29) Now to a description of the unfolding of the apostacy in church government: The apostolic churches as a rule had more than one elder or bishop—names Biblically interchangeable for the same persons (Acts 13: 1; 14: 23; 15: 2, 22; 20: 17, 28; Tit. 1: 5-7; also seen from the fact that bishops and deacons were the two kinds of church servants, Phil. 1: 1; 1 Tim. 3: 1, 10, 12, 13). These elders or bishops differed in talent, devotion and usefulness (Rom. 12: 6-8), and thus in the esteem in which they were held, and in the influence that they exerted (1 Tim. 5: 17). This is in perfect harmony with the Lord's will; for He so ordained matters both as to the local elders in a local ecclesia and as to the general elders in the general Church. Moreover, the body of elders in their meetings for counseling over church matters, because of such superior talents, devotion and usefulness, gave greater esteem to

 

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their possessor than to the other elders, and this again was proper. And thus gradually this particular elder began to be regarded as the first one among equals, and this, too, was proper and good, as implied by the principle contained in 1 Tim. 5: 17 and expressed in the greater uses the Lord makes of some than of others. This led as a rule to this particular elder being elected to the chairmanship of the elders' business meetings and the congregational business meetings. As such he was still only considered as the first among equals; and but little can be said against this, though it became the point of departure for later abuses. It would, however, have been better to have rotated alphabetically the chairmanship of the elders' meetings, as the Philadelphia Ecclesia's elders do, and to have elected for a period of time to the chairmanship of congregational meetings a less prominent elder, as the Philadelphia Ecclesia does. Soon, in the early part of the Smyrna Church, this most prominent elder or bishop began to be called by way of emphasis, the elder or the bishop, as distinct from other elders or bishops. In the New Testament the latter name, which refers to the burden of the service, and the former name, which refers to the honor of the service, apply to one and the same office incumbents (Acts 20: 17, 28, the Greek for "overseers" being the word for bishops). The word bishop, however, began to be used increasingly and finally exclusively of the most prominent elder. Henceforth he alone was the bishop and was considered in office function over the other elders. This change of view, of course, was not made everywhere at one and the same time, nor without much opposition of the elders; but before the end of the second century it was practically general among the churches; for it was thought necessary, in order better to edify the church, to present a stronger front to the world and more powerfully to refute errorists, thus to put forward the ablest and most influential elder. If we should consider

 

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some of the better attested epistles of Ignatius of Antioch genuine, this distinction was advocated by Ignatius for the church at Antioch, Smyrna and some other Asiatic places by 108 or 116 A. D., when Ignatius is said to have written these epistles on his way to Rome for martyrdom. But the so-called Ignatian epistles come to us in larger (15) and smaller (7) and smallest (3) numbers, the seven in longer and shorter forms, and the three in still shorter forms, and all of them with such greatly variant readings, that if any of them are genuine, their numerous interpolations greatly reduce their credibility, as witness on the subject before us, as well as on numerous other subjects. The pros and cons among devout scholars are nearly even on the genuineness of the better attested of these epistles—the shorter seven and the three. Hence they are not of certain weight as evidence of the condition of pertinent matters in 108 or 116 A. D. According to the better attested of these epistles (which are likely genuine), by 108 or 116 A. D. the viewpoint that Ignatius is alleged to have advocated was that the bishop was Christ's representative and the elders were the Apostles' representatives; and he especially emphasizes the necessity of obeying the bishop. But the progress of this error on the interrelation of elders and bishops was quite varied at different times and in different localities at the same time. In 251 A. D. Cyprian, in his book on the Unity of the Church, began to teach the doctrine that the bishops are successors of the Apostles, and that each one is a ruler over the presbyters in his Church; but as yet he did not exercise full power over the ecclesia. And this view gradually spread, and as it spread, increased the powers of the bishops, until in the fourth century the bishops were regarded not only as the ruler of the presbyters, but also largely of the ecclesias which elected him.

 

(30) But side by side with the misdevelopment just described was another misgrowth, which, indeed, began

 

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even a little earlier than the one just described. The one just outlined is the Episcopal development in the separate ecclesias as distinct from one another; for the bishops in Cyprian's time and previously were not diocesan, but local church bishops, because in Cyprian's time the apostacy in church government had not yet developed the diocesan bishop, who arose, however, very shortly afterward. Thus we see that the bishops robbed the elders of certain of their rights; but previous to the bishop's advancing spoliation of the elders, the elders were making spoil of the congregation's rights (3 John 9, 10), by establishing slowly and by degrees the rulership of the elders over the church, and thus gradually transacting the business that the churches formerly transacted. Thus the resolutions of the board of elders became more and more encroachments on the church's prerogatives, and were acted on as decisions to be executed, whereas they should at most have been used as recommendations to the ecclesia for acceptance or rejection, as might seem good to the church. They also spread the view that as elders they were in a different class—a ruling, "ruling elders," instead of a serving class— from the other brethren, and hence slowly and by degrees they took to themselves one prerogative after another from the ecclesia until by the time the diocesan bishop began to function, the presbyters, now called priests, ruled the ecclesia as formerly the local bishop had done. After they had begun partially to deprive the churches of their rights, Episcopal usurpations began to deprive them of their proper and their usurped ecclesial powers, which later were relinquished to the elders when the ecclesial bishops became diocesan bishops.

 

(31) Astonished, we ask, What opiate did they use on the ecclesias that enabled them to quiet these while they usurped their rights? We reply, They used a variety of means to this end. First and worst, after introducing an unbiblical distinction between the elders

 

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and the ecclesias, they gradually set aside the doctrine of the priesthood of all the consecrated and substituted in its stead the doctrine of the clergy, quasi-clergy [deacons and the incumbents of many newly made offices] and laity, by which they meant, and deceived the brethren into believing, that only the clergy were priests, the quasi-clergy were Levites and the laity were antitypical Israelites as distinct from antitypical priests and Levites. To quiet the objections of more or less subordinately prominent brethren, they called the deacons and a host of incumbents of many subordinate offices that they invented, "Levites," thus counterfeiting the real antitypical Priests, Levites and Israelites. This led to the exaltation of the clergy to power and influence, to the measurable exaltation of the quasi-clergy over the laity and to their measurable degradation under the clergy, and to the complete degradation of the laity under the clergy and quasi-clergy. Again, we remark, this misdevelopment was not everywhere contemporaneous and equal. It was in some places more advanced than in other places. While it began in the latter part of the second century, it was not general nor was it complete anywhere until just after the middle of the third century, i.e., after the phenomenon of diocesan bishops as distinct from congregational bishops began to make its appearance.

 

(32) This brings us to discuss very briefly another misdevelopment: The bringing of the churches into the union of an external body, first in the districts, then in the provinces, then in pluro-provinces—prefectures—of the Roman Empire, resulting finally in an externally organized Catholic Church, world-wide, under the pope. The point of departure for this error was the common need of help from one another on the part of various churches under the stress of doctrinal and practical difficulties. Such doctrinal and practical difficulties, e.g., led the Antioch Ecclesia to send delegates to Jerusalem to confer on the subject with the

 

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Apostles, the elders and other brethren of the Jerusalem Church (Acts 15). This was perfectly proper; for sister churches in Christian fellowship should be willing to give help on request from a church in difficulties. Nor could there be any objection to the post-apostolic churches individually in their doctrinal and practical difficulties giving help on the request of one another. But where these occasions were seized upon by one church, or a number of churches, to force upon an ecclesia, and that at times on pain of disfellowshipment, their ideas, whether they had been asked for them or not, they could not plead the example of the Antioch and Jerusalem churches, where no such thing occurred. In justification of organizing the churches in a body the bishops argued that in an external union there is strength, and that such a union was necessary to combat error, defend truth and promote growth; and therefore they formed the churches of a district into an external body. They impinged against the Lord's order of the independence of each local ecclesia from all others, especially when all of these so-united churches, through their bishops in synods and councils assembled, passed doctrinal decrees and practical laws, binding on all the churches in the district. No such union of congregations existed in the Apostolic days and no such synodical or conciliar assemblies of bishops took place in the primitive Church. About 170 the first synod of this character was held in Asia Minor to dogmatize and legislate on the Montanists' teachings and practices, which were disturbing the churches there. These synods or councils gradually increased and spread everywhere, from district to provincial, from provincial to a pluro-provincial and finally to ecumenical or universal councils, dogmatizing and legislating, even as in 325 A. D. at Nice, the first so-called ecumenical council was held and, among other things, decreed the Son's co-eternity, co-equality and consubstantiality with the Father, as doctrines that