Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Clergy-Laity distinction

George Gillespie shows that this distinction is not biblical.
"the distinction of the clergy and laity is popish and antichristian; and they who have narrowly considered the records of ancient times, have noted this distinction as one of the grounds whence the mystery of iniquity had the beginning of it. The name of clergy appropriate to ministers, is full of pride and vain-glory, and hath made the holy people of God to be despised, as if they were profane and unclean in comparison of their ministers. Gerhard likeneth those who take to themselves the name of clergy, to the Pharisees, who called themselves by that name: for that their holiness did separate them from the rest of the Jews: for this etymology of the name Pharisee, he citeth Tertullian, Origen, Epiphanius, Ambrose, and confirmeth it from Luke 18.10. Hence was it that some councils discharged the laity from presuming to enter within the choir, or to stand among the clergy near the altar. Two reasons are alleged why the ministers of the church should be called klhroV. First, Because the Lord is their inheritance: Secondly, Because they are the Lord's inheritance. Now, both these reasons do agree to all the faithful people of God; for there is none of the faithful who may not say with David, Psalm 16.5, "The Lord is the portion of my inheritance;" and of whom also it may be said, that they are the Lord's inheritance, or lot; for Peter giveth this name to the whole church, 1 Pet. 5.3. Where (if it were needful) we might challenge Bishop Hall [Of Episcop. by Divine Right, p. 212.], who borroweth a gloss from Bellarmine and Gregorious de Valentia, telling us, that Peter chargeth his fellow-bishops not to domineer over their clergy, so shutting out of the text, both the duty of pastors (because the bishops only are meant by elders), and the benefit of the people, because the inferior pastors are the bishop's flock, according to this gloss; for Peter opposeth the lording over the klhroV, to "being ensamples to the flock." Surely, if this popish gloss be true, Protestants, in their commentaries and sermons, have gone wide from that text. But Matthias, the apostle, was chosen by lot, Acts 1.26. What then? By what reason doth the canon law draw from hence a name common to all the ministers of the gospel? [D. 21, ca. Cleros.] Let us then banish from us such popish names, and send them home to Rome. Bellarmine [De Cleric. lib. 1., cap. 1.] thought we had done so long ere now, for he maketh this one of his controverted heads, Whether we may rightly call some Christians the clergy, and others the laity, or not, ascribing the negative to Protestants, the affirmative to the Church of Rome."

George Gillespie, Assertion of the Kirk of Scotland