7. Clemens
A Vindication by Edward Gibbon

I had cautiously observed (for I was apprised of the obscurity of the subject) that the Epistle of Clemens does not lead us to discover any traces of Episcopacy either at Corinth or Rome. (41) In this observation I particularly alluded to the republican form of salutation, "The Church of God inhabiting Rome, to the Church of God inhabiting Corinth;" without the least mention of a Bishop or President in either of those ecclesiastical assemblies.

Yet the piercing eye of Mr. Davis (42) can discover not only traces, but evident proofs, of Episcopacy, in this Epistle of Clemens; and he actually quotes two passages, in which he distinguishes by capital letters the word BISHOPS, whose institution Clemens refers to the Apostles themselves. But can Mr. Davis hope to gain credit by such egregious trifling? While we are searching for the origin of Bishops, not merely as an ecclesiastical title, but as the peculiar name of an order distinct from that of Presbyters, he idly produces a passage, which, by declaring that the Apostles established in every place Bishops and Deacons, evidently confounds the Presbyters with one or other of those two ranks. I have neither inclination nor interest to engage in a controversy which I had considered only in an historical light; but I have already said enough to shew, that there are more traces of a disingenuous mind in Mr. Davis, than of an Episcopal Order in the Epistle of Clemens.

« NEXT » « A Vindication » « Decline & Fall » « Library »