An assertion of the government of the Church of Scotland in the points of ruling-elders and of the authority of presbyteries and synods with a postscript in answer to a treatise lately published against presbyteriall government.
Gillespie, George, 1613-1648.

CHAP. VIII. The testimony of Ambrose for ruling El∣ders vindicated.

IF wee looke backe beyond the times of declining unto the first and purest times of the Church, wee shall finde ruling Elders to be no new fangled device at Geneva; but that the primitive government and policy of the Church hath beene in them restored. There is one place of Ambrose which clee∣reth it sufficiently. He writing on 1 Tim. 5.1. Rebuke not an Elder, saith, Vnde & Synagoga, &c. Wherefore both the Iewish Synagogue, and after the Church had Senior or Elders, without whose counsell nothing was done in the Church: which by what negligence it grew out of use, I know not, except perhaps by the sloth, or rather by the pride of the teachers, whies they alone will seeme to be something. This sentence is also cited in Glossa ordinar. And it sheweth Page  58 plainely that as the Jewish, so the Christian Church had some Elders, who though they were not Teachers of the Word, yet had a part of the government of the Church upon their shoulders. But that this came into desue∣tude, partly through the sloth of the teachers and Ministers of the Word, whiles they were not carefull to preserve the ordinances of God, and the right way of governing the Church; and partly through their pride whilst they would doe all by themselves, and have no consorts,

Vtinam modo nostra redirent
In mores tempora priscos.

But let us heare a triple divination which the non-friends of ruling Elders give forth upon this testimony.* First, Bishop Hall tel∣leth us that it is not Ambrose, but a counter∣feit who wrote that Commentary upon the Epistles, and for this he alledgeth our owne Parker against us. The truth is, Bellamine and Scultingius taught him this answer: The place of Parker he citeth no in the Margine; but I believe the place he meaneth of is de polit. Eccles. lib. 2. cap. 13. where he holdeth indeed, that the author of these Commenta∣ries was not Ambrose, Bishop of Millaine; Page  59 but sheweth withall, that he nothing doub∣teth of the Catholike authority of the Com∣mentaries themselves; Hoc vero, &c. This saith he, may befall the best Author whosoever he be, that some may ascribe his workes to ano∣ther. But that hee lived before the Councell of Nice, this addeth weight to his testimony of the Seniors. These Commentaries are common∣ly cited by our Divines, as Ambrose's. I finde them in Erasmus his edition, both at Collen, 1532. and at Paris, 1551. acknowledged to bee the genuine workes of Ambrose, only the Prefaces before the Epistles are called in question. They are also acknowledged in the edition of Costerius at Basile, 1555. Six∣tu Senensis ascribeth them to Ambrose in like manner. The edition of Collen, 1616. hath an observation prefixed, which repudiateth many of his workes, and these Commenta∣ries among the rest. Yet the last edition at Paris, 1632. hath expunged that observation, which they had not done if they had appro∣ved the same: Howsoever that same obser∣vation maketh those Commentaries to bee as old as 372. or 373. Perkins in his prepara∣tive before his demonstration of the pro∣bleme, calleth in question the Commentary upon the Hebrewes,* but no more. Rivet sheweth that these who reject them, doe nei∣ther Page  60 give good reasons for their opinion; neither yet doe agree among themselves. Bellarmine ascribing them to Hilarius Dia∣conus, Maldonat to Remigius Lugdunensis, the Censors of Lovaine to the Author of the questions of the old and new Testament. I beleeve that Cooke in his Censura Scriptorum veterum,* hath touched the true cause why these Commentaries are so much called in question, which is the perfidiousnesse of Pa∣pists, who when they finde any thing therein which they imagine to bee for their advan∣tage, then they cry, Saint Ambrose saith thus, but when they finde any thing therein which maketh against them, then they say as Hall doth, It is not Ambrose, but a counterseit; I must confesse that Hall is wiser in disclai∣ming the same, then his fellowes in acknow∣ledging them: yet because he found that the Testimony may bee of force, though not Ambrose's, and beside had no proofe for this alledgeance, he durst not trust to it, but thought upon another answer.

*To proceed then to their next conjecture. Bilson, Sutcliffe, and Doctor Field, tell us that Ambrose meant of Bishops, who exclu∣ded other Clergy men from their consultati∣ons, and that by the name of Teachers hee might fitly understand the Bishops, seeing Page  61 none but they have power to preach in their owne right, & others but onely by permission from them. This is a most desperate shift for a bad cause. For first, there is no warrant nei∣ther from Scripture nor Antiquity to distin∣guish Bishops from other Ministers of the Word by the name of Teachers. Secondly, as for that reason alledged that none but Bi∣shops have power to preach in their owne right, it is contrary to that which Field him∣selfe saith in the very next Chapter, where he holdeth that Presbyters are equall with Bishops in the power of order, and that they may preach and minister the Sacraments by vertue of their order, as well as Bishops. Thirdly, neither did the advising of Bishops with Presbyters cease in Ambrose his time.* For as Field himself noteth out of the fourth Councell of Carthage (which was holden shortly after Ambrose his writing hereof) all sentences of Bishops were declared to bee void, which were not confirmed by the presence of their Clergy. Let us also heare Hierome and Chrysostome, (who lived both in the same age with Ambrose) what doth a Bi∣shop,* saith Hierome, ordination excepted, which a Presbyter may not doe? By ordination alone, saith Chrysostome,*are the Bishops higher, and this onely they seem to have more then Prebyters.Page  62 Which were not true if Bishops had then go∣verned the Churches by themselves, exclu∣ding the counsell and advice of Presbyters: Yea, though ordination was the only one thing which made the difference▪*Ambrose himself sheweth that Presbyters in Egypt did also ordain when the Bishop was not present.

We have heard Sutcliffe and Doctor Field, but Saravia,* and after him Tilen, and after them both Hall, hath forged another glosse upon the place of Ambrose. They boldly a∣verre that the Elders without whose coun∣sell Ambrose saith nothing was done in the Church, were Elders by age and not by office. We reply. First, falshood can∣not keepe its feet. Before we heard Saravia maintaine that the Seniors among the Jewes, who sate in Ecclesiasticall Assemblies with the Priests, and had equall suffrages therein with the Priests, were their Rulers and their Magistrates, now he telleth us they were old men, Elders by age only, not by office. Se∣condly, in his defence of that same twelveth Chapter against Beza, hee acknowledgeth that the Christian Church had other Elders by office, besides the Ministers of the Word. The Church saith hee, hath had Elders some by divine institution, as the Pastors of Churches, and Ministers of the Word of God. Page  63 Others by condition of age or office▪ or estimation, or learning and experience. How could hee then astrict the words of Ambrose to Elders by age onely? 3. Where was it ever read or heard, that old men, who had no Ecclesia∣sticall office, were taken into the assemblies of the Church, so that nothing was done with∣out their counsell? 4. The Elders of whom Ambrose speaketh, are opposed to the Tea∣chers, therefore they are not Elders by age: for such are some of the Teachers themselves. 5. Ambrose indeed in his preceding words had expounded the place of the Apostle, 1 Tim. 5.1. of Elders by age: but thereupon he tooke occasion to speake of Elders by of∣fice also. 6. That the Elders which wee read to have been in the Jewish Church, were not Elders by age▪ Basil sheweth plainly, whose testimony we shall heare by and by.