The Clerical Hierarchy


1. EMPHASIZING THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN CLERGY AND LAITY. -- While the Church had its special officers from the outset, these were not at first, with the exception of the apostles, widely distinguished from the general body of believers. A priesthood in the more emphatic sense was not congenial to the thought of the first generations of Christians. The ministry were not set up as the sole dispensers of grace, over against whom all other Christians must take the place of children still in their minority and incapable of any independent agency. "The distinction," says Ritschl, "between the active and the passive members of the congregation,--in dther words, the Catholic conception of priesthood,--is foreign to the first two centuries." [Albrecht Ritschl, Die Entstehung der altkatholischen Kirche.] The fact that a majority of ecclesiastical officers continued, after their election, to pursue their worldly callings, was adverse to very wide distinctions in the Church. Still more adverse was the high conception taken of the common privilege of believers. All were regarded as partakers of the Spirit. Post-apostolic writers evince something of the same consciousness of the high privilege pertaining to the ordinary Christian standing as appears in the writings of Peter, John, and Paul. The Apostolic Constitutions, notwithstanding their hierarchical tone, use this language: "Though a man be a layman, if skilful in the word and grave in his manners, let him teach." [viii. 32.] That this principle was sometimes acted upon, we know from the Palestinian bishops who employed Origen to interpret the Scriptures before their congregations, and defended themselves against the objections of the Bishop of Alexandria by affirming that they were guilty of no innovation, that "wheresoever there are found those qualified to benefit the brethren, these are exhorted by the holy bishops to address the people." [Hist. Eccl., vi. 19.] Tertullian declares, in very plain and emphatic terms, that all Christians are priests by inherent right; though, for the sake of order and convenience, certain ones are, under ordinary circumstances, to be set apart for the administration of ordinances and for directing in government and discipline. He asks, "Are not even we laics priests?" "Where three are," he says, "a church is, albeit they be laics. For each individual lives by his own faith, nor is there exception of persons with God." [De Exhort. Cast., vii.] While he protests, in the name of the peace and unity of the Church, against a layman's assuming to baptize in a case where a clergyman is accessible, he says with equal positiveness, "Even laymen have the right; for what is equally received can be equally given. Unless bishops or priests or deacons be on the spot, disciples are called. The word of the Lord ought not to be hidden by any; in like manner, too, baptism, which is equally God's property, can be administered by all." [De Bapt., xvii. See also De Monog., vii., xii.] Irenæus says in one place, "All the righteous possess the sacerdotal rank." [Cont. Hær., iv. 8. 3.] The same representation appears with Origen. [Hom. in Lev., ix. 1. 9; Tom. in Joan., i. 3.] "All Christians," as he teaches, "are priests, not merely or preeminently the office-bearers, but all according to the measure of their knowledge and their services in the kingdom of the Lord." [Redepenning, Origenes, ii. 436, 437.] In practice, also, the right and power of the laity were recognized. It was the general custom that the selection of the bishops should be submitted to their approval. [Cons. Apost., viii. 4.] Even Cyprian, the vigorous champion of order and authority, did not think it fitting to exclude the laity from a share in the management of the Church. He speaks of himself as having made up his mind from the commencement of his episcopacy to take no important step without asking the consent of the people as well as the advice of his clergy. [Epist., v. 4, in Ante-Nicene Lib., in Oxford ed., epist. xiv.] There is abundant evidence, therefore, that the more radical idea of priesthood did not dominate the Church in the first stages of its history.

Still, from the apostolic age onwards, there was an increasing tendency to widen the distance between clergy and laity. It was felt necessary to guard against the growing dangers of heresy and schism by emphasizing the dignity of the standing officers and leaders of the Church. As numbers and wealth increased, there was both more occasion and more opportunity for the ministry to abandon secular callings, and to give themselves wholly to their sacred vocation. Jewish ideas upon the subject of the priesthood unduly colored the thinking of some minds. As the heathen world had also its sacrificing priesthood, converts from within its borders not unnaturally were inclined to seek in Christianity for a counterpart to their old system of altars and officiating priests. From these several causes, there resulted a positive growth of priestly ideas and customs. As early as the closing part of the second century, there was a noticeable drift towards sacerdotalism, or the high-church theory of Christ's kingdom on earth. The freer stand-point was not yet forgotten, as appears from the statements which have been quoted from leading writers. The Church remained still, in the main, at no small distance from the full Romish conception of priestly rank and mediation. Nevertheless, the more liberal position was not maintained with clear understanding and entire consistency. Some of the writers who strongly asserted the common priesthood of believers employed also at times a phraseology which might be interpreted in favor of sacerdotalism. The convenience of a high ecclesiastical power, as a safeguard against the forces of disorder and anarchy, began so to engross the vision of many Christians, that they gave no proper attention to the dangers to personal freedom which such a power, unchecked, would be sure to involve. [The second book of the Apostolic Constitutions contains some statements well suited to serve as a basis of hierarchical pride and theocratic rule. Such, for example, is the declaration that the priestly office excels the kingly by as much as the soul is more excellent than the body (ii. 34).]

2. GROWTH OF EPISCOPACY.-- Five different stages in the growth of the episcopal system may be noticed: (1) the establishment of the distinction between presbyters and bishops; (2) the emphasizing of the bishop's importance; (3) the rise of metropolitans, or archbishops; (4) the rise of patriarchs, or bishops having jurisdiction over important divisions of the Empire; (5) a striving after a common episcopal centre, a bishop of all bishops. These different stages were not successive in the sense that one was fully completed before another was begun: they were in part contemporaneous. Still, the order given expresses the logical succession of developments within the episcopacy.

As regards the first stage, there is much obscurity. It was probably accomplished in some regions earlier than in others. Clement of Rome, whose writings cannot well be placed earlier than the closing years of the first century, indicates no consciousness of any distinction between bishops and presbyters in the Corinthian church. He speaks of sedition, not against the authority of a bishop, but against the presbyters, and exhorts to submission to the presbyters. [Epist. ad Corinth., xlvii., lvii.] The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles in like manner implies but two orders in the ministry. One of its directions is this, "Appoint for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord." [Chapter xv. This is regarded as one of the evidences in favor of the early origin of this document.] The epistles of Ignatius, on the other hand, show that in the early part of the second century, a considerable portion of the Church, especially that in Asia Minor, recognized a clear distinction between bishops and presbyters, and regarded the former as individual heads of the different churches. How much of the Church had adopted this régime at that time, cannot be determined. Certainly, it was soon thereafter the common régime of the Church. The adoption of the new system, however, did not abolish all traces of the original identity of bishops and presbyters. Later writers now and then used terms not accurately descriptive of the ecclesiastical constitution of their own times, terms indicative of a different and more primitive order. Irenæus, for example, calls those who possessed "the succession from the apostles" presbyters in some instances, [Cont. Hær., iii. 2. 2; iv. 26. 2.] while in other connections he names them bishops. Even Cyprian, in one of his epistles, names the presbyters under him compresbyteros; and the Ambrosian Hilary in the fourth century wrote, "He is bishop, qui inter presbyteros primus est."

By what authority was this change, which elevated one man in each local church above the board of presbyters, and caused him to be known distinctively as the bishop, effected? Was it the product of a positive apostolic appointment, or was it simply a natural outcome from the conditions, and finding its principal sanction in general consent? It would be difficult to prove that no one of the apostles, especially the Apostle John, whose administration of the churches of Asia Minor extended nearly to the close of the first century, had any thing to do with the change. On the other hand, the proof of any apostolic supervision of the matter is equally wanting. To be sure, ill the time of Irenæus, it was somewhat customary to speak of a regular succession of bishops from the apostles onwards; but this habit may have resulted in large part from a disposition to judge past by existing conditions, and might very naturally have been indulged if the connecting links with the great majority of the apostles were not bishops proper, but only leading and influential presbyters. In fact, the language of Irenæus, as cited above, suggests that the connection may have been made in this way.

It is easily conceivable that the office of bishop grew up by a gradual development, which had its starting-point in the board of presbyters. This board in the several churches would naturally come to have its presiding otlicer. Men of the greatest energy and ability would be called to fill this position. The interests of unity and efficient management would cause more and more power to be delegated to them, until they should become really the chiefs of the churches, or bishops proper. Analogy also may be quoted in favor of this theory. Other stages in the growth of the hierarchy were effected much in the manner here indicated for the first stage. By gradual advances, one bishop overtopped the other bishops in his neighborhood, and finally assumed toward them the relation of archbishop. Even among the deacons distinctions grew up, and one of the body in the different churches became known as the archdeacon. Surely it is no far-fetched suggestion, that a similar development raised one of the early presbyters in the various congregations to the rank of archpresbyter, and then carried him over the short interval between that and the primitive bishop. That episcopacy originated in this way, is the conclusion of not a few scholars, even in a Church which has made much of apostolic succession. Bishop Lightfoot says of the evidences in the case, "They show that the episcopate was created out of the presbytery. They show that this creation was not so much an isolated act as a progressive development, not advancing everywhere at a uniform rate, but exhibiting at one and the same time different stages of growth in different churches. [Paul's Epistle to the Philippians, Dissertation I.] Dean Stanley indorses the same view. The exigencies of the times, as he teaches, gave origin to the episcopal system by re-enforcing "the almost universal law, which, even in republics, engenders a monarchical element." Christian Institutions.

The first bishops were generally bishops of individual churches. Tn the larger cities, a number of congregations my have been under a single bishop, but these congregations were regarded as branches of the one city church. Each separate community had, as a rule, its own bishop. This is sufficiently proved by the great number of bishops found within a given territory. "From the small province of proconsular Asia, forty-two bishops were present at an early council; in the only half-converted province of North Africa, four hundred and seventy episcopal towns are known by name." [Edwin Hatch, Organization of Early Christian Churches. In the view of Hatch, management of the finances was a large part of the function of the primitive bishop.] "Sometimes a bishopric," says Pressensé "comprised only a hamlet. We read in the Coptic Constitution: 'Is there a spot where the little company of believers, competent to elect a bishop, does not amount to twelve, lee them write to the neighboring churches, if these are populous, andlet three delegates be sent to ascertain with care who is worthy to undertake this oflice.'" [Christian Life and Practice, Book I., chap, ii.]

Already, in the infancy of the episcopate, began the second stage of development, that of express emphasis upon its importance. Ignatius of Antioch was the first to represent this stage. Again and again, in his epistles, he urges obedience to the bishop, warns against doing any thing without the bishop, represents the bishop as standing to the congregation as the vicegerent of Christ. At the same time, he regarded each bishop as limited to his own congregation, and recognized no essential distinctions within the episcopal body. Ignatius, however, appears to have been an exception to his age, in the degree of emphasis which he put upon the episcopal dignity. He stands so nearly alone in this respect, that some have been disposed to question the genuineness of the epistles attributed to him. Baur declares it impossible that any writer of so early an age could have uttered such high episcopal notions as appear in the so-called Ignatian Epistles. But this is extreme. Ignatius, though not a representative of his age as a whole in this matter, was no impossible phenomenon for that era. He was a man of vigorous personality, naturally in favor of strong rule and centralized power. The churches in his region were threatened, to an alarming degree, by the spirit of heresy and schism. No better antidote against this spirit seemed to him available, than an obedient temper toward that central authority which in each church was vested in the bishop. Where all the members of a congregation obey one person, there is little chance for schism in that congregation Church unity was his great motive in emphasizing the importance of the bishop. He was not interested to disparage the presbyters, and, indeed, speaks of the honor due to them in conjunction with the bishop. "Do nothing," he writes, "without the bishop and presbyters." [Epist. ad Magnes., vii.] Among Inter writers, Irensus and Cyprian, the latter in particular, were conspicuous for the advocacy of the episcopal dignity. The motives with them were the same as with Ignatius. They were lovers of law and order. Disrupting forces were at work in the Church. By a natural reaction, they emphasized the elements of central control. To this they were, to a degree, exponents of the tendencies of their times. The reaction awakened by Gnosticism and Montanism contributed much to the growth of the hierarchy.

The third stage, the rise of archbishops, was effected by obvious causes, but required a considerable time for its completion. Since the gospel was first preached in the large cities, these became centers of evangelization for the surrounding districts. Naturally, a very close relation subsisted between the mother church and the congregations organized by her missionary efforts. The high responsibilities of the episcopal office in the great cities tended to bring to such positions men of stamp and reputation. Apart from their personal qualities, their very position would give them a certain authority. Nothing was more natural, then, than to appeal to them in case of dispute. Prerogatives, awarded in the first instance by mere custom, could easily acquire in time a constitutional force. Hence, a kind of jurisdiction over the surrounding territory became attached to the bishops of large cities, and the rank of archbishop more or less definitely established.

The patriarchal system was only a further illustration of the tendencies just described. Among the large cities, a few held by far the superiority, and their bishops were able to claim in course of time a corresponding importance and breadth of jurisdiction. Of the five patriarchates that were ultimately acknowledged, three had become established by the year 325; namely, those of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch.

To complete the hierarchical scheme, it only remained to fix upon an episcopal centre, to assign to one bishop a constitutional supremacy over all the rest. This result was riot reached in the first centuries, and, indeed, has never been reached. While the theory of such a supremacy wits finally worked out, and asserted in behalf of the Roman bishop, Christendom has at no time been united in its acceptance. As regards the first three centuries, we have to deal only with tendencies toward this species of episcopal supremacy. We shall find here no pope, in the Inter sense of that term. The claim for that dignity, and the acknowledgment of it. are both wanting.

By the close of the second century, the Roman bishops began to magnify their position. An endeavor was made, in case of controverted questions, to force their preferences upon the Church at large. [It is quite obvious that this might transpire apart from any theory of constitutional prerogatives. Even were the bishops constitutionally on a precise equality, one favored with outward means of superior influence would be very likely, especially if he were by nature of an aggessive temper, to press his views upon his colleagues. Indeed, no more instances of this kind are on reoord for the Roman bishops of the second and third centuries than might have been expected on any view of their constitutional powers.] Somewhat later, there are indications that they took pride in calling themselves the successors of Peter. [Epist., lxxiv. (in works of Cyprian), by Firmilian.] All this, however, was far from a claim to universal sovereignty of a constitutional sort. To be a successor of Peter in that age, by no means implied a constitutional supremacy over the whole Church. As applied to the Roman bishop, it ascribed to him a peculiar prestige in virtue of his following the great apostle in the government of the church of the imperial city. The language of Chrysostom at a later day, when he spoke of the Bishop of Antioch as possessing the chair of Peter, is not a little significant of the sense in which similar terms were primarily applied to the Bishops of Rome. Even in their highest assumptions in the first centuries, they confessed, in effect, their lack of constitutional sovereignty over Christendom. For example, Victor, in contrast with the moderation of his predecessors, assumed to excommunicate the churches of proconsular Asia and its neighborhood, on account of their position on the Easter question. He "endeavored," says Eusebius, " to cut off the churches of all Asia, together with the neighboring churches, as heterodox, from the common unity. And he publishes abroad by letters, and proclaims, that all the brethren there are wholly excommunicated." [Hist. Eccl., v. 24.] But what did this excommunication imply? In the absence of the acquiescence and corroboration of other churches, it simply denied to the churches of Asia Minor communion with the local church of Rome. Victor may have presumed upon the acquiescence of the other churches, whose views were like his upon the Easter question. If so, he presumed wrongly. Other churches felt free to maintain communion with those from whom Victor had withdrawn. When matters were brought to the test, the Roman bishop found that he could decide only for himself on the policy of excommunication, and, so far as can be judged, ceased to press the case. The outcome indicates that he was by no means assured of his right and competency to exercise sovereign authority over the whole Church.

While some concessions were made to the dignity of the Roman bishop, none of these, when taken in their connections, reveal a conviction that any constitutional supremacy was inherent in him. Among the early writers, Irensus and Cyprian used the terms most flattering to Rome. Tertullian, to be sure, in one instance applied to the Roman bishop higher epithets than are anywhere else found in the literature of the first three centuries, calling him the "sovereign pontiff, the bishop of bishops." But he used these terms in bitter irony, and with reference to a decree of the Roman prelate which he declared could not be posted with propriety, except "on the very gates of the sensual appetites." [De Pudicitia, i.]

The most emphatic concession from Irenæus is expressed in the following language: Ad hanc enim ecclesiam propter potiorem principalitatem necesse est omnem convenire ecclesiam. [Cont Hær., iii, 3. 2.] The proper translation of the phrase, propter potiorem principalitatem, is rendered very doubtful by the difficulty of conjecturing what was the Greek original. Gieseler thinks the sentence should read, "For with this Church [at Rome], on account of its superior originality, or primitiveness, [, vorzüglicher Ursprünglichkeit. (Kirchengeschichte, § 49.)] every Church must agree." This looks like a very strong statement. But observe the wording of the sentence, and especially its connections. Irenæus does not say that it is necessary to agree with the Roman bishop, but with the Roman Church. Very likely he had the bishop in mind more than any single officer beside; there is nothing, however, to enforce the conclusion that he would have attached more weight to his decision than to a decision generally agreed upon by the board of presbyters. Even if it be granted that he spoke with special reference to the bishop, the connection shows that he had no reference at all to his official prerogatives. The reference is solely to the precedence which came from superior means of correct information upon the doctrinal contents of Christianity. Irenæus was arguing against the Gnostic heretics. He wished to set forth a corrective to their arbitrary interpretations. He, therefore, pointed to the fact that there were numerous churches in which the apostles had labored, and in which the truths which they had preached had been handed down by a continuous line of successors. Since it would be tedious to mention all these churches, and prove a continuous succession in each of them, he said that he would fix upon one that had enjoyed special advantages for understanding and perpetuating Christian doctrine,--"the very great, the very ancient, and universally known church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul." He mentioned this church as an eminent example of a class, not as one occupying a wholly exceptional position. He assumed that other apostolic churches were, as a matter of fact, in doctrinal agreement with this. For churches less favored, he indicated that the surest and most convenient way to arrive at pure traditions was to appeal to Rome. Very likely he fixed upon Rome in particular because he wrote in the West, and Rome was the only apostolic church in the West. The animus of his language is indicated by the parallel passage from Tertullian, who asserts that the final appeal, outside of the Scriptures, must be to the churches of apostolic origin and associations; Christians in the East appealing to Smyrna,Corinth, Philippi, and Ephesus, while Christians in Italy could most conveniently refer to Rome. [De Præscript Hærat., xxxii., xxxvi.] By the obligation to agree with Rome, Irenæus meant, as is shown by his whole line of thought, not a constitutional, but a moral, obligation. The obligation which he affirms was simply the duty to seek for truth at a source where it was most likely to be found, at least infinitely more likely to be found than in the chaotic domain of the Gnostics. Irenaeus nowhere concedes a constitutional supremacy to the Roman bishop. He does not even call him the successor of Peter. "The blessed apostles," he says, "having founded and built up the church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy." [Cont. Hær., iii 3, 3.] In one instance he applies the very modest title of presbyters to the succession of Roman bishops. [Euseb., v. 24.] Finally he gave evidence by his conduct that he acknowledged no constitutional supremacy in the Roman prelate, writing a letter of rebuke to the headstrong and intolerant Victor, assuming the same right as he to address the churches, and addressing them counter to his policy. "Not only to Victor," says Eusebius, "but likewise to most of the other rulers of the churches, he sent letters of exhortation on the agitated question." [Ibid.]

As the most flattering tribute from Cyprian to Roman dignity, the following expression may be cited: Petri cathedra atque ecclesia principalis unde unitas sacerdotalis exorta est ("the throne of Peter and the chief church, whence sacerdotal unity has arisen"). [Epist. liv., Ad Cornelium.] A commentary on the meaning of this sentence is provided for us in a more extended passage, which, omitting the fraudulent items interpolated near the end of the sixth century, reads as follows (the reference being to Matt. xvi. 18-19; John xxi. 15, xx. 21): "Although to all the apostles, after His resurrection, He gives an equal power, and says, 'As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you: Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whosesoever sins ye remit, they shall be remitted unto him; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they shall be retained;'yet that He might set forth unity, He arranged by His authority the origin of that unity, as beginning from one. Assuredly the rest of the apostles were also the same as was Peter, endowed with a like partnership both of honor and power; but the beginning proceeds from unity, which one Church, also, the Holy Spirit in the Song of Songs designated in the person of our Lord, and says,'My dove, my spotless one, is but one." [De Unitat. Ecclesiæ.] Had we only these passages before us, the intelligent conclusion would be, that Cyprian was dealing in types and figures when he connected the idea of ecclesiastical unity with Peter and the Roman Church; that he was speaking of them, not as factors in the actual constitution and government of the Church, but as the chosen means of a symbolical representation of Church unity. His line of thought amounts to this: Peter received no more authority than the other apostles, but Christ made an earlier mention of his authority in order that he might serve as an image of ecclesiastical unity. The worth of the whole representation is well expressed by Barrow, who says, "I can discern little solidity in this conceit, and as little harm." [Treatise of the Pope's Supremacy.] But if the passages in Cyprian which lean most toward Rome are thus void of any real acknowledgment of a constitutional supremacy in the Roman bishop or Church, the unimpaired force of other passages must convince a candid mind, beyond all shadow of doubt, that Cyprian did not even dream of such a supremacy. He plainly regarded the bishops as one great fraternity, appointed to conserve the unity of the Church; each, while having his own more definite sphere of labor, inhering in the whole body, and all standing upon a substantial equality. His language in immediate connection with that quoted above is suggestive of this standpoint. "This unity," he says, "we ought firmly to hold and assert, especially those of us that are bishops who preside in the Church, that we may also prove the episcopate itself to be one and undivided. The episcopate is one, each part of which is held by each one for the whole." The statement, however, most clearly setting forth the equality of bishops, is found in his address to a council convened at Carthage to consider the question of the re-baptism of heretics. In this he says to his brother bishops: "It remains, that upon this same matter each one of us should bring forward what we think, judging no man, nor rejecting any one from the right of communion, if he should think differently from us. For neither does any of us set himself up as a bishop of bishops, nor by tyrannical terror does any compel his colleague to the necessity of obedience ; since every bishop, according to the allowance of his liberty and power, has his own proper right of judgment, and can no more be judged by another than he himself'can judge another.'' This language, since it was uttered with special reference to the attempts of the Roman bishop Stephen [Hefele is forced to suspect here an "Anspielung auf Papst Stephan." (Conciliengeschichte, § 6.)] to force his views upon the North African Church, is a clear and absolute denial of any constitutional supremacy in the Roman bishop over the Church at large. And Cyprian's conduct throughout was in harmony with his address to the council. On the question of re-baptism, he refused to yield an iota to the demands of Stephen. In connection with another matter, also, he denied ally superior jurisdiction in the Roman bishop, and counselled the Spanish Church not to reverse their action and restore some unworthy bishops (Basilides and Martialis) who had betrayed the authorities at Rome into espousing their cause. "Neither can it rescind," he wrote, "an ordination rightly perfected, that Basilides, after the detection of his crimes, and the baring of his conscience even by his own confession, went to Rome and deceived Stephen our colleague, placed at a distance, and ignorant of what had been done, and of the truth, to canvas that he might be replaced unjustly in the episcopate from which he had been righteously deposed." [Epist., lxvii.] Evidently the Bishop of Rome was to Cyprian only that which he names him in the above communication,--a colleague; a colleague possessing high honor on account of his eminent position, but nothing more than a colleague.

Some of the contemporaries of Cyprian gave as conspicuous a denial of the authority of the Roman bishop as that which we have from him. For example, Firmilian, Bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia, in a letter written to Cyprian, charged Stephen with pride and audacity, accused him of rebelling against the sacrament and the faith with the madness of contumacious discord, and declared that he had cut himself off from the unity of love, and made himself a stranger in all respects from his brethren. [Epist., lxxiv., in Works of Cyprian.]

A very decisive example of denial of universal jurisdiction in the Roman bishop occurred also in connection with the Easter controversy already mentioned. Polycrates, the venerable Bishop of Ephesus, replying to the demands of Victor, in the name of a synod of bishops, declared plainly that he was not at all alarmed by the things threatened against him, and had no intention whatever of departing from the custom which bad been handed down by his predecessors. [Euseb., v. 24.]

Taking the Church at large, the only primacy accorded to the Roman bishop in the first three centuries was a primacy of honor, or a certain precedence as regards the respect rendered. This was due in some degree to the fact that the Roman was an apostolic church, founded, according to current belief, by the two eminent apostles Peter and Paul. It was due in a much larger degree to the political pre-eminence of Rome. It is no exaggeration to say, that the political importance, the grandeur, and the imperial associations of the city of Rome were the pre-eminent factors in giving origin to the papacy. In the race for episcopal honor and power, the political importance of the various cities outweighed by far every other factor. Jerusalem, the mother of all churches, was for a long time the seat of a subordinate bishopric. The bishop there was of small account because the city was of small account, and rose to importance only as the city rose to importance, and became a favorite pilgrim resort. Antioch, though the first Christian centre after Jerusalem, and the scene of the labors of the very chief of apostles, was compelled to yield the palm to Alexandria. The importance of the see of Antioch became second to that of Alexandria because the city was second. Constantinople, built on the site of an obscure bishopric, overtopped both Antioch and Alexandria in episcopal honor; and her patriarch became well-nigh a rival for the Bishop of Rome, simply because Constantinople rose to the greatest political importance of any city in the East. There is no mystery, therefore, about the genesis of the papacy. Before the building of Constantinople, Rome was what no city has been since, -- the capital of the civilized world. From her prestige the Roman bishop derived prestige. In the midst of tendencies toward ecclesiastical monarchy, he had a start and an advantage enjoyed by no other. The first three centuries, however, witnessed only growing ambition and pretension: they did not witness the beginning of the papacy in the sense of any acknowledgment of a constitutional supremacy in the Roman bishop over the Church at large.