A Dictionary of All Religions and Religious Denominations/Episcopalians

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EPISCOPALIANS, an appellation given to those who assert, that episcopacy is of divine right, and was the constitution of the primitive church. They maintain that bishops, [] presbyters, (or priests) and deacons, are three distinct orders in the church; and that the bishops have a superiority over both the others directly from God; in proof of this they allege; that during our Saviour's stay upon earth, he had under him two distinct orders of ministers -the twelve, and the seventy; and after his ascension, we read of apostles, presbyters, and deacons in the church. That the apostolic, or highest order, is designed to be permanent, they thing, is evident from bishops being instituted by the apostles themselves, to succeed them in great cities, as Timothy at Ephesus, Titus at Crete, &c. It appears that Timothy and Titus were superiour to modern presbyters, from the offices assigned them. Timothy was by Paul empowered to preside over presbyters of Ephesus, to receive accusations against them, (1 Tim. v.19.) to exhort, to charge and even to rebuke them; and Titus was, by the same apostle, left in Crete for the express purpose of setting things in order, and ordaining presbyters in every city.

The contend that bishops, in the sense in which they use the term, certainly existed in the churches as early as A. D. 160. Thy lay great stress on the writings of the Christian Fathers on this point, and in particular on Clement, on the Epistles of St. Ignatius.[1] The Roman and English are principal episcopal churches in the west of Europe.

Original footnotes[edit]

  1. Dr. Edwards' Remains, p. 229. Ency. vol. vi. p. 689-692. Adam's Religious World displayed, vol. ii. p. 275, &c.