THE REDUCTION OF EPISCOPACIE Unto the Form of Synodical Government Received in the ANCIENT CHURCH:

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

By the most Reverend and learned Father of our Church. Dr. JAMES ƲSHER late Arch-Bishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland.

A true Copy set forth by NICOLAS BERNARD, D. D. Preacher to the Honourable Society of Grayes Inne occasioned by an imperfect Copy lately Printed.

⟨Decemb: 17⟩ LONDON, Printed by E.C. for R. Royston at the Angel in Ivie-lane, 1656.

To the Reader.

THE late publishing of this Treatise from some different Copy, hath compelled me thus to hasten out a more Perfect one, according to the Original given me of late years by this Most Reverend Person under his own hand, which I had a long time in my custody; These de­fects or mistakes following were in the former im­pression, and are amended in this.

1. The not mentioning the time of the Pro­posal, and intimating as if it had been late­ly composed by him for the compremising of the now differences, and the preventing of those troubles that may arise, &c. Whereas it was first proposed in the year 1641. by way of [Page] accommodation then, and as an Expedient for the prevention of what fell out afterwards about the matter of Church-Government.

2. The printing of the Marginal notes in the I, II, III, IV, Propositions, Parallelling them with the then customes of Scotland; these by his orders to me were to be wholly left out, if ever they should be thought fit to be publish­ed.

3. The omission of the Marginal note out of St. Jerome in the third Proposition, which is here supplied.

4. Some different words, (as company for com­munity, Primate for Archbishop, forme of ordaining Ministers for the Book of Ordina­tion, &c.) as the neglect of that distinction of Characters for the quotations in English, and other passages which were designed by his own hand.

5. The Postscript is set forth so defective, that the Reader might interpret it to be his own attesta­tion, whereas it was the draught of an approba­tion of it by some others of eminency both for learning and piety, then living, who were ready to have subscribed it. The Original given to me, [Page] having this Introduction (which was notin the former impression) viz. We are of the Judgement that the Forme of Government here proposed, &c. I suppose Doctor Holdsworth was one, by what I found under his hand annexed.

Thus much I have thought fit to advertise, as the causes necessitating me to the reprinting of it, and to desire the Reader upon this occasion, not to give credit hereafter to things of this nature, which shall be published in this most Reverend Primates name, without the Approbation of such as are ap­pointed for that end.

And now if this (which is a Copy according to his own last correction) may answer the expecta­tion of many pious and prudent persons, to be a seasonable preparative to some moderation in the midst of those extreams which this Age abounds with, it will attain the end intended by the Au­thor: And it is likely to be the 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 private ends, but only aiming at the reducing of Order, Peace, and Unity, which God is the Author of, and not of confusion. For the recovery of which, [Page] 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 interests and circumstan­tials, might not keep them thus far asun­der.

N. Bernard.

The Reduction of Episcopacy unto the forme of Synodical Government received in the ancient Church; proposed in the year 1641. as an Ex­pedient 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 chargedThe book of Ordination. to administer the Doctrine and Sacraments, and the Discipline of Christ as the Lord hath commanded, and as this Realm hath received the same; And that they might the better understand what the Lord had commanded therein,Ibid. ex Act. 20.27, 28. the exhortation of St. Paul [Page 2] 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. & Rev. 12.5. & 19.15. Rule the Congregation of God which he hath purchased with his Bloud.

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 stilethRev. 2.1. the Angel of the Church of Ephe­sus: and Ignatius in another Epistle written about twelve years after unto the same Church, calleth the Bishop thereof. Betwixt the Bishop and the Presbytery of that Church, what an harmonious consent there was in the ordering of the Church Government, the same Ignatius doth fully there declare, by the Presbytery, with1 Tim. 4.14. St. Paul, under­standing the community of the rest of the Presbyters or Elders, who then had a hand not only 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 the known testimony of Tertullian in his general A­pology for Christians.Ibidem etiam exhortationes, castigationes & censura divina; nam & judicatur magno cum pondere ut apud certos de Dei censpectu, summum (que) futuri judicii praejudicium est, si quis ita deliquerit, ut à communicatione orationis, & cenventus, & om­nis sancti commercii relegetur: praesident probati quique seniores, honorem istum non pretio, sed Testi­monio adepti. Tertul. 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 it is the chiefest foreshewing of the Judgement which is to come, if any man have so offended, that he be banish­ed [Page 3] 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 by good report, who were no other (as he himself intimates) elsewhere, butNec de alio­rum manibus quam praesiden­tium sumimus, Id. de corona militis, cap. 3. those from whose hands they used to re­ceive the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

For with the Bishop who was the chief Presi­dent (and therefore stiled by the same Tertullian in another placeDandi quidem Baptismi habet jus sumus sacerdes qui est Episcopus, de­hinc Presbyteri & Diaconi, Id. de Baps. capt. 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 Ecclesiastical Judicature, Cornelius Bishop of Rome used the received forme ofOmni actu ad me perlato placuit contrahi Presbyterium, Cornel. apud Cyp. epist. 46. gathering together the Presby­tery; of what persons that did con­sist, Cyprian sufficiently declareth, when he wisheth him to read his LettersFlorentissimo illic clero tecum prae­sidenti. Cyprian epist. 55. ad Cornel. to the flourishing Clergy which there did preside or rule with him: The Presence of the Clergy being thought to be so requisite in matters of Episcopal audience, that in the fourth Councel of Carthage it was concluded,Ut Episcopus nullius causam audiat absque praesentia Clericorum suorum, alioquin irrita erit sententia Episcopi nisi Clericorum praesentiá confirmetur, Concil. Carthag. IIII. cap. 23. That the Bishop might hear no mans cause without the presence of the Clergy: and that otherwise the Bishops sentence should be void, unlesse it were confirmed by the presence of the Clergy: which we finde also to be inserted into the Ca­nons ofExcerption. Egberti cap. 43. Egbert, who was Arch-bishop of York in [Page 4] the Saxon times, and afterwards into the body of the15. q. 7. cap. Nullus. Canon Law it self.

True it is, that in our Church this kinde of Presby­terial Government-hath been long dis-used, yet seeing it still professeth that every Pastor hath a right to rule the church (from whence the name 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 only 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 united suffrages of the Clergy might be revived again, and with what little shew of alteration the Sy­nodical conventions of the Pastors 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 Churchwardens and Sidesmen, may every week take notice of such as live scandalously in that Congregation, 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 access unto the Lords Table.


Whereas by a Statute in the 26 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 voices, conclude all matters that shall be brought into debate before them.

To this Synod the Rector and Churchwardens 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 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 Opi­nions, Heresies, and Schisms, 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 Pastors (or a certain select number, of every Deanry) within the Diocese 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 tra­ctum est. Hie­ron. epist. 85. ad Evagrium. Superinten­dent (call him whether you will) or in his absence, by one of the Suffragans; whom he shall 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 monethly Sy­nods revised, and (if need be) reformed: and if here also any matter 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 Archbishop of either Province might be the Moderator of this meeting (or in his room some one of the Bishops appointed by him) and all matters be ordered therein by common consent as in the former Assemblies.

[Page 7] This Synod might be held every third year, and if the Parliament do then sit (according to the Act of a Triennial Parliament) both the Archbishops and Pro­vincial Synods of the Land might joyn together, and make up a National Councel: Wherein all Appeals from inferior Synods might be received, all their Acts examined and all Ecclesiastical constitutions which concern 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 practise of the ancient Church.

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