THE REDUCTION OF EPISCOPACY Unto the Form of Synodical Government, Received in the ANCIENT CHURCH: By the most Reverend and learned Father of our Church Dr. JAMES USHER, late Arch-Bishop of Armagh, and Primate of all Ireland.

Proposed in the year 1641. as an Expe­dient for the prevention of those Troubles, which afterwards did arise about the matter of Church-Government.

Published by NICHOLAS BERNARD. D. D. Preacher to the Honourable Society of Grayes-Inne, London.

LONDON, Printed, Anno Domini, 1658.


THE Originall of this was given me by the most Reverend Primate, some few years before his death, wrote throughout with his own hand, and of late I have found it subscribed by himself, and Doctor Holseworth, and with a Mar­ginal Note at the first Proposition, which I have also added. If it may now answer the expectation of many pious, and prudent Persons, who have desired the publishing of it, as a seasonable preparative to some mode­ration in the midst of those extreams, which this Age abounds with, it [Page 150] will attain the end intended by the Authour: And it is likely to be more operative, by the great reputa­tion he had, and hath in the hearts of all good men, being far from the least suspicion to be byassed by any privivate ends, but onely ayming at the reducing of Order, Peace, and Unity, which God is the Authour of, and not of confusion. For the reco­very of which, it were to be wish­ed, that such as do consent in Sub­stantials, for matter of Doctrine, would consider of some conjunction in point of Discipline, that private interest and circumstantials, might not keep them thus far asunder.


The Reduction of Episco­pacy unto the form of Synodi­cal Government, received in the ancient Church; proposed in the year 1641, as an Expedi­dient for the prevention of those troubles, which after­wards did arise about the mat­ter of Church-Government.

Episcopal and Presbyterial Government conjoyned.

BY Order of the Church of England, all Presbyters are charged The book of Ordination. to administer the Do­ctrine and Sacraments, and the Disci­pline [Page 152] of Christ, as the Lord hath com­manded, and as this Realme hath re­ceived the same; And that they might the better understand what the Lord had commanded therein, [...]id, ex Act. 20, 27, 28. the exhortation of Saint Paul, to the Elders of the Church of Ephe­sus is appointed to be read unto them at the time of their Ordination; Take heed unto your selves, and to all the flock among whom the Holy Ghost hath made you Overseers to [...]. So taken in Mat. 2. 6. and Rev. 12. 5. and 19. 15. Rule the Con­gregation of God, which he hath pur­chased with his blood.

Of the many Elders, who in common thus ruled the Church of Ephesus, there was one Presi­dent, whom our Saviour in his Epistle unto this Church in a peculiar manner stileth Rev. 2. 1. the Angell of the Church of Ephesus: and Ignatius in another Epistle written about twelve yeares after unto the same Church, calleth the Bishop thereof. Betwixt the Bishop and the Presbytery of that Church, what an harmonius consent there was in the ordering of the Church-Government, the same [Page 153] Ignatius doth fully there declare, by the Presbytery, with 1 Tim. 4. 14. Saint Paul, understanding the Commu­nity of the rest of the Presbyters, or Elders, who then had a hand not onely in the delivery of the Do­ctrine and Sacraments, but also in the Administration of the Discipline of Christ: for further proof of which, we have that known testimony of Tertullian in his general Apology for Christians. Ibidem etiam exhortationes, castigationes & censura divina; nam & judica­tur magno cum p [...]dere ut apud cert [...]s de Dei conspectu, sum­mú nque futuri judicii p [...]aeiudi­cium est. si quis ita deli [...], ut à commu [...]ca­tione. o [...]ationis & conventus, & omnis sancti commecii rele­getur presi­dent proba [...] quique seniores, honorem istum non pretio, sed Testimonio adepti. T [...] tul. Apologet. cap. 39. In the Church are used exhortations, chastisements, and divine censure; for judgement is gi­ven with great advice as among those, who are certain they are in the sight of God, and in it is the chiefest fore­shewing of the judgement which is to come, if any man have so offended, that he be banished from the commu­nion of prayer, and of the Assembly, and of all holy fellowship. The Presi­dents that bear rule therein are cer­tain approved Elders, who have ob­tained this honour not by reward, but [Page 154] by good report, who were no other (as he himself intimates) elsewhere but [...] de [...] manibus [...] praesiden­tium s [...]m [...]mus, [...] de coro [...] [...], cap. 3. those from whose hands they used to receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

For with the Bishop, who was the chiefe President (and there­fore stiled by the same Tertullia [...] in another place, Dan [...] quidem [...] ha­b [...] [...] sum [...] [...]; qui [...] Episcopus: [...] Pres [...] [...]i & [...] [...] de Bapt, cap. 17. Summus Sacer­dos for distinction sake) the rest of the dispensers of the Word and Sacraments joyned in the com­mon Government of the Church; and therefore, where in matters of Ecclesiasticall Judicature, Cor­netius Bishop of Rome used the received forme of Omni actu ad [...] perlate [...]la­ [...] contra [...] [...], [...] apud [...] epi [...]. 46. gathering toge­ther the Presbytery; of what per­sons that did consist, Cyprian suf­ficiently declareth, when he wish­eth him to read his Letters Florenti [...] [...] [...]cum [...] Cy­ [...] epist. [...]. [...] Cornel. to the flourishing Clergy: which there did preside, or rule with him: The presence of the Clergy be­ing thought to bee so requisite in matters of Episcopall audi­ence, that in the fourth Coun­c [...]ll of C [...]ge it was concluded, [Page 155] Ut Episcopu [...] nullius causam audiet absque praesentia Cleri­corum suoram, alioquin irrita erit sententia Episcopi nise Clericorum prae­sentiâ confirme­tur, Concil. Carthag. IV. cap. 23. That the Bishop might hear no mans cause without the presence of [...] Cler­gy: and that otherwise the [...]ops sentence should be void, unlesse it were confirmed by the presence of the Clergy: which we find also to be in­serted into the Canons of Excerption. Egberti, c. 43. Egbert, who was Arch-Bishop of York in the Saxon times, and afterwards into the body of the 15. q. 7. cap. Nullus. Cannon Law it self.

True it is, that in our Church this kinde of Presbyterial Govern­ment hath been long disused, yet seeing it still professeth that every Pastor hath a right to rule the Church (from whence the mame of Rector also was given at first unto him) and to administer the Discipline of Christ, as well as to dispense the Doctrine and Sacraments, and the restraint of the exercise of that right proceedeth onely from the custome now recei­ved in this Realm; no man can doubt, but by another Law of the Land, this hinderance may be well removed. And how easily this an­cient form of Government by the [Page 156] united suffrages of the Clergy might be [...]ved again, and with what lit [...] [...]ew of alteration the Synodi­cal conventions of the Pasters of every Parish might be accorded with the Presidency of the Bishops of each Diocese and Province, the in­different Reader may quickly per­ceive by the perusal of the ensuing Propositions.


In every Parish the Rector, or In­cumbent Pastor, together with the How the Church might Syn [...]di­cally be Go­verned, Arch-Bishops and [...]i­sh [...]ps being still retained, Church-Wardens and Sides-men, may every week take notice of such as live scandalously in that Cougregati­on, who are to receive such several admonitions and reproofs, as the quality of their offence shall deserve▪ And if by this means they cannot be reclaimed, they may be presented to the next monethly Synod; and in the mean time debarred by the Pastor from accesse unto the Lords Table.


Whereas by a Statute in the six and twentieth year of King Henry the eighth (revived in the first year of Queen Elizabeth) Suffragans are appointed to be erected in 26 several places of this Kingdom; the number of them might very well be con­formed unto the number of the seve­ral Rural Deanries into which every Diocese is subdivided; which being done, the Suffragan supplying the place of those, who in the anci­ent Church were called Chorepiscopi, might every moneth assemble a Sy­nod of all the Rectors, or Incumbent Pastors within the Precinct, and ac­cording to the major part of their voyces, coclude all matters that shall be brought into debate before them.

To this Synod the Rector and Church-wardens might present such impenitent persons, as by admoniti­ons and suspension from the Sacra­ment would not be reformed; who if they should still remain contumaci­ous and incorrigible, the sentence of [Page 158] Excommunication might be decreed against them by the Synod, and ac­cordingly be executed in the Parish where they lived. Hitherto also all things that concerned the Parochial Ministers might be referred, whe­ther they did touch their Doctrine, or their conversation 'as also the censure of all new Opiuions, Heresies, and Schismes, which did arise with­in that Circuit; with liberty of Ap­peal, if need so require, unto the Diocesan Synod.


The Diocesan Synod might be held, once, or twice in the year, as it should be thought most convenient: Therein all the Suffragans, and the rest of the Rectors, or Incumbent Pasters (or a certain select number of of every Deanry) within the Dio [...]ese might meet, with whose consent, or the major part of them, all things might be concluded by the Bishop, or [...], id est, super­intendentes; unde & nomen Episcopi tra­stum est, Hi [...] ­ron, epist. 86. ad Evagrium. Saperintendent (call him whe­ther you will) or in his absence, by one of the Suffragans; whom he shall [Page 159] depute in his stead to be Moderator of that Assembly.

Here all matters of greater mo­ment might be taken into conside­ration, and the Orders of the month­ly Synodes revised, and (if need be) reformed: and if here also any ma [...] ­ter of difficulty could not receive a full determination: it might be re­ferred to the next Provincial, or Na­tional Synod.


The Provincial Synod might con­sist of all the Bishops and Suffragans, and such other of the Clergy as should be elected out of every Dio­cese within the Province, the Arch-Bishop of either Province, might be the Moderator of this meeting, (or in his room some one of the Bishops appointed by him) and all mat [...]ers be ordered therein by common con­sent as in the former Assemblies.

This Synod might be held every third year, and if the Parliament do then sit (according to the Act [Page 160] of a Triennial Parliament) both the Arch-Bishops and Provincial Synods of the Land might joyn together, and make up a National Councel: wherein all Appeals from infer [...]ur Synods might be received, all their Acts examined, and all Ecclesiastical Constitutions which concerne the state of the Church of the whole Nation established.

WE are of the judgement That the form of Government here proposed is not in any point repugnant to the Scripture; and that the Suffragans mentioned in the se­cond Proposition, may lawfully use the power both of Jurisdiction and Ordi­nation, according to the Word of God, and the practice of the anci­ent Church.

  • Ja. Armachanus.
  • Rich. Holdsworth.

AFter the proposal of this, An. 1641. Many Quaeries were made, and doubts in point of conscience resolved by the Pri­mate, divers passages of which he heth left under his own hand, shew­ing his pious endeavours to peace and unity, which how far it then prevailed, is out of season now to relate, only I wish it might yet be thought of to the repairing of the breach, which this division hath made, and that those, who are by their Office Messengers of Peace, and whose first word to cach house should be peace, would earnestly promote it, within the walls of their Mother-Church, wherein they were educa­ted, and not thus by contending about circumstantials lose the sub­stance, and make our selves a prey to the adversary of both, who re­joyce in their hearts, saying, So would we have it.

Which are the Primates works, and which not.

A Catalogue of the Works already printed of Doctor James Usher, late Arch-Bishop of Armagh, and Primate of all Ireland, which are owned by him.

In Latine.
  • DE Ecclesiarum Christianarum successione & Statu. Quarto, Londini, 1613.
  • Epistolarum Hibernicarum Sylloge, 4o. Dublinii 1630.
  • Historia Goteschalci, 4o. Dublinii 1631.
  • [Page 163] De Primordiis Ecclesiarum Britani­carum, 4o. Dublinii 1639.
  • Ignatii Epistolae cum annotationibus, 4o. Oxoniae 1645.
  • De Anno Solari Macedonum, 8o. Lon­dini 1648.
  • Annales Veteris Testamenti, Fol. Londini 1650.
  • Annales Novi Testamenti usque ad ex­tremum Templi & Reipublicae Ju­daicae excidium, &c. Fol. Londini 2654.
  • Epistola ad Capellum de Variantibus textus Hebraici Lectionibus, 4o. Londinii 1652.
  • De Graeca Septuaginta Interpretum versione Syntagma 4o. Londini 1655.
  • These four last are sold by John Crook, at the Ship in St. Paul's Church-yard.
In English.
  • [Page 164]AN Answer to a challènge made by the Jesuite Malone in Ire­land, Anno 1631.
  • A Sermon preached before the House of Commons, Febr. 18. 1618.
  • A Declaration of the visibility of the Church, preached in a Ser­mon before King James, June 20. 1624.
  • A Speech delivered in the Castle-Chamber in Dublin, the 22. of November, 1622.
  • The Religion profest by the ancient Irish and Brittains, 4o. 1631.
  • These five are bound together in Quarto.
  • Immanuel, or the Incarnation of the Son of God, 4o. Dublin. 1639.
  • A Geographical Description of the Lesser Asia, 4o. Oxford, 1644.
  • The judgement of Doctor Reynolds, touching the Original of Episco­pacy more largely confirmed out of Antiquity, An. 1641.
  • [Page 165] His Discourse of the Original of Bishops and Metropolitanes, in 4o. Oxford, 1644.
  • His small Catechisme re-viewed, 12o. London, 1654.
  • ☞His aforesaid Annals of the Old and New Testament; with the Synchronismus of Heathen Story to the destruction of Jerusalem, translated out of Latin into Eng­lish now at the Presse, Fol. to be sold by John Crook, at the Ship in St. Pauls Church-yard.

In regard there have been, and are divers books printed, which go un­der the name of the late Arch-Bishop of Armagh, but are not his, and more may be obtruded to the injury of him, I have thought fit, at the request of the Printer, to give the Reader this adver­tisement following.

IN Anno [...] 1640. There was a book printed, entitled the Bi­shop of Armaghs direction to the house of Parliament, con­cerning the Liturgy and Epi­scopal Government, and Anno 1641. Another book entitled Vox Hiberniae, being some pretended notes of his, at a publick fas [...]. Both these at his Pe­tition [Page 167] were suppressed by order from the House of Lords and Commons, 11. Feb. 1641. and I hope will not be revived.

In Anno 1651. A book called (A Method for Meditation, or a manual of Divine duties, which most inju­riously is printed in his name, but is none of his, which he directed me then to declare publickly as from him, yet in 1657. It is again reprin­ted to his great dishonour.

For his small Catechisme the Rea­der is to take notice, that there was a false one Printed without his know­ledge, and is still sold for his. The injury he received by it compel­led him to review it, with an Epi­stle of his own before it, which is the mark to know the right Edition, though being framed for his private use in his younger yeares, (about 23.) he had no intention of it for the publick.

If any Sermon-Notes taken from him have been Printed in his life­time under his name, or shall be hereafter) which divers have of [Page 168] late attempted) The Reader is to take notice that it was against his minde, and that they are disowned, by him, which as he endeavoured to his utmost to suppresse, while he was living, so it was his fear to be injured in it after his death.

For a further confirmation of which, I shall give you part of a Letter of his, while he was Bishop of Meath, (upon the like intention of a Printer, who had gotten into his hands some Notes of his Ser­mons, said to be preached by him in London, and was about to pub­lish them) which he wrote to Do­ctor Featly, Chaplain to the then Arch-Bishop of Canterbury for the stopping of them, in these words.

I beseech you to use all your power to save me from that disgrace, which undiscreet and covetons men go about to fasten upon me, or else I must be driven to protest against their injuri­ous dealings with me, and say as Do­natus once did, Mala illis sit, qui me [...] festinant edere ante me.

[Page 169] But I repose cenfidence in you, that you will take order that so great a wrong as this may not be done unto me. Remember me to worthy Do­ctor Goad, and forget not in your prayers.

Your most assured loving friend, and fellow labourer JA. MEDENSIS.

[Page 170] THat book entitled the summe and substance of Christian re­ligion, some of the materials with the Method are his, collected by him in his yonger years, for his own private use: but, being so un­polished, defective, and full of mistakes, he was much displeased at the publishing of it in his name. And though it be much commended at home, and by Ludovicus Crocius a­broad, yet that he did disown it as it is now set forth, this Let­ter following, wrote to Mr. John Downham, (who caused it to be printed) doth sufficiently confirm, as followeth.


YOu may be pleased to take notice, that the Catechisme you write of is none of mine, but transcribed out of Mr, Cart­wrights Catechisme, and Mr. Crooks, and some other English Divines, but drawn together in one Method, as a kind of Common-place-book, where other mens judgements and reasons are simply laid down, though not approved in all points by the Colle­ctor; besides that the Collection (such as it is) being lent abroad to divers in scattered sheets, hath for a great part of it miscarried, the one half of it as I suppose (well nigh) be­ing no way to be recovered, so that so imperfect a thing Copied verbatim out of others, and in divers places dissonant from mine own judgement, may not by any meanes be owned by me; But if it shall seem good to any industrious person to cut off [Page 172] what is weak and superfluous there­in, and supply the wants thereof, and cast it into a new mould of his own framing, I shall be very well content that he make what use he pleaseth of any the materials therein, and set out the whole in his own name: and this is the re­solution of

Your most assured loving friend JA. ARMACHANUS.

[Page 173] A Book entituled Confessions and Proofs of Protestant Divines of Reformed Churches for Episco­pacy, &c. though it be a very Learn­ed one, yet it is not his; Onely that of the Original of Bishops and Me­tropolitans (Frequently bound up with the former) is owned by him. unto which he was earnestly mo­ved by a Letter from Doctor Hall, the late Reverend and Learned Bi­shop of Norwich, then Bishop of Exe­ter; which, shewing the great e­steem he had of him, is annexed as followeth.

To the most Reverend Father in God, and my most Honoured Lord, the Lord Arch-Bishop of Armagh, and Primate of Ireland.

Most Reverend, and my most wor­thily Honoured, Lord.

THat which fell from me yesterday, suddenly and transcursively, hath since taken up my after-mid­night thoughts, and I must crave leave, what I then moved, to importune, that your Grace would be pleased to bestow one sheet of paper upon these distracted times, in the subject of Episcopacy, shew­ing [Page 175] the Apostolical Original of it, and the grounds of it from Scripture, and the immediately succeeding anti­quity; Every line of it coming from your Graces hand, would be super rotas suas: as Solomons expression is, very Apples of Gold, with Pictures of Silver, and more worth than vo­lumes from us: Think, that I stand before you like the Man of Macedon, and that you hear me say, Come and help us: And as your Grace is whol­ly given up to the common good of the Church, say, whether you can deny it? and if please your Grace to take your rise from my humble mo­tion to expresse your self in this que­stion, wherein I am publickly inte­rested, or otherwise, to professe your voluntary resolutions for the setling of many, either misled, or doubting Soules, it will be the most acceptable, and (I hope) the most successefull work that your Grace hath ever undertaken; It was my ear­nest motion long ago to ( [...]) to intreat this labour from your Grace; which now comes from my mean­nesse; [Page 176] your Gracious humility will not even from so low hands disregard it; with my zealous suit, and hope­full expectation of a yeilding an­swer, I humbly take leave, and am

Your Graces humbly, and heartily devoted JOS. EXON.

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