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The subject of Ordaining Ministers is mentioned nine times : four in the phrascology of laying on hands; and live in other, varying terms.
And he, that is, Christ, ordained twelte, that they should be with him. Mark iii. 14. The Greek word here is £romos, constituted. Wherefore, of these men, says St. Peter, must one be Ordained to be a witness with us of his Resurrection. Acts i. 21, 22. The Greek word is here yeveodan, become.
And when they, (the Apostles) had ordained them Elders in every Church. Acts xiv. 23. Here the Greek word is, XEIPOTONTOAUTés, originally signifying to stretch out the hand; then to elect with uplified hands; and afterwards to appoint, or constitute to an office. Whereunto, says St. Paul, I am ordained a Preacher, and an Apostle. 1 Tim. ii. 7. 'The Greek word here is €5edru, I was appointed.
For this cause left I thee in Crete; that thou shouldst set in order the things that are wanting, and Orduin Elders in every City. Here the Greek word is XATACTnons, constitule. It is doubtful whether Ordaining, in the Ecclesiastical sensc, is intended in either of these passages, except the third ; Acts xiv. 23: And even this will admit of serious debate.
In the last, to wit, Tit. i. 5, the power of Ordaining has been supposed to be attributed to a Bishop. The justice of this supposition must be determined by answers to two questions. The first is, whether xaracsniera signifies Ordination in the appropriate sense; or to constitute Elders, already Ordained Ministers of parlicular Churches: or in other words, to appoint them their particular places of administration.
The second is, whether Titus was a Bishop in the Prelatical sense. This subject will be examined in its proper place.
The four remaining instances are mentioned in the appropriate language of laying on hands; Emiti0nuo meigas ; phrascology, which usually denotes Ecclesiastical Ordination in the proper sense. They are the following: Whom, that is, the seven Deacons first chosen, they set before the Apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. Acts vi. 6. And when they, that is, the Apostles, had fasted, and prayed, and laid hands on them, viz. Paul and Barnabas, they sent them away. Acts xiii. 3.
Lay hands suddenly on no man. 1 Tim. i. 22.
Neglect not the gift, that is in thee, which was given thee by prophesy, and the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery; or body of Elders. 1 Tim. iv. 14.
In all these instances Ordination, in the appropriate sense, is undoubtedly intended. As the Apostles laid hands on those, to whom they communicated the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost, the same phraseology is used twice with reference to this subject. Acts viji. 17, 19; both but one instance; and 1 Tim. i. 6. It is also used to denote the laying on of the hands of him, who offered a sin-offering, Heb, vi, 2,
Of the four instances, in which this phraseology denoies Ecclesiastical Ordination, it is, in two, attributed to the Apostles generally. In the third, Timothy is commanded to lay hands suddenly on no man. That is, not liastily to Ordain, or be concerned in Ordaining, any man ; lest he should prove an unsuitable person for the Ministry. In the fourth, the Ordination of Timothy is attributed to the whole body of Presbyters, or Elders, who united in his Ordination. Of these instances, the only ones of this nature in the Bible, it is perfectly plain, that there is but one in which Ordination can possibly be ascribed by any construction to persons, who were Bishops in the modern sense: viz. the passage, in which Timothy is commanded to lay hands suddenly on no man.' Here -the ascription depends wholly on the fact, that Timothy was scoh. a Bishop, and Bishop of Ephesus: a fact, which it is presurned cannot be established. Leaving this, however, for the present, I observe, that, were it to be granted, still, as Timothy's owo Oidi-.. nation is directly ascribed to the Presbytery only, the Scriptures : attribute Ordination, at least as evidenily, and as extensively, to? ·Presbyters, as to Bishops.
Of ihis power, also, as well as that of ruling, it is to be observed, when compared with preaching, very little stress is laid on it in the Scriptures. It is mentioned but nine times, even if we adopt the utmost latitude of .'struction; and in all these, except two, is mentioned incidenti .'. In one of these two, St. Paul commands Timothy to lay hunus suddenly on no man. 1 Tim. vi. 16. In the other, he mentions, that he had left Tilus in Crele, to ordain Elders in every City. Preaching the Gospel on the contrary, is, throughout the New Testament, and often in the Old, ex. hibited as the great duty of a Christian Minister; as his chief, most useful, and most honourable, destination. From this state of the subject the conclusion is, therefore, warrantably drawn, that, in the view of the Scriptures, Ordaining is an employment, wholly inferior in its nature and importance. Of course, the powers, claimed by the Bishop as peculiar to his office, are inferior to those, confessedly attributed to the Elder, and can, in no Scriptura: sense, become means of raising the former above the latter,
THE EXTRAORDINARY MEANS OF GRACE.-OFFICERS OF THE
CHURCH.MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL.WHO ARE MIN-
1 PETER V. 1–3.- The Elders, which are among you, I exhort, who am also an El
der, and a wilness of the suj'erings of Christ, and a parlaker of the glory that shall be rerenled. Feed the flock of God, which is among you; laking the oversight thereof, not by; constraint, but willingly; nol for filiny lucre, bul of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's herilage, bui being ensamples to the flock.
In the preceding discourse, I mentioned it as being, in my own opinion, the doctrine of the Scriptures,
That there are but Two kinds of permanent Officers in the Church of Christ.
Ja support of this doctrine, I allege the following things.
4. The fact, that, except in this passage, no mention is made of Bishops by way of address, direction, or salutation.
5. The Commission, originally given to Ministers of the Gospel.
6. The fact, that the same duties are assigned to all such Ministers.
I shall now proceed to support the same doctrine by exhibiting, at some length, the manner in which Ministers are spoken of in the Gospel. This very general head, which I could not conveniently make less general, I shall illustrate from the following sources.
1. The address of Christ to his Apostles, Mark X. 42—45, with the parallel passage. Luke xxii. 25.
Ye know, ihat They, who are accounted to rule over the Gentiles, exercise lordship over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them: but it shall not be so among you. For whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister; and whosoever will be the chiefest shall be servant of all. For the son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.
The Apostles, James and John, as we are informed in the context, had solicited Christ, that they might be exalted to peculiar distinction and authority in his kingdom. The other Apostles 'were offended at this scheme of ambition on the part of their companions, as being themselves desirous of the same elevation. To Vol. IV.
Things the minpport the
repress every such feeling in them all, Christ utters the words, which have been quoted. These words certainly discouraged all wishes for peculiar authority in the minds of the Apostles, as Ministers of Christ; and informed them, that the proper destination of the ambitious among them was the place of a servant, or minister, to the rest. In other words, Christ required them to be, and to feel themselves to be, equals ; and forbade them to assume any authority over each other. The conduct, which Christ required of them, must, it would seem, be the proper conduct of all succeeding ministers. An absolute equality is plainly here commanded, so far as the Apostles were concerned. It ought to be shown, that the case is not directly, and entirely, applicable to their followers in the sacred office. Let us suppose, ihat Christ had given the converse directions. Let us suppose, that he had directed James and Peter to be rulers over their brethren. Would not this fact have been pleaded, as decisive authority for the same distinction among succecding ministers? The mere shadow of such a distinction in favour of Peter, easily shown to have no substance, has actually been relied on by the Church of Rome, as a solid foundation of the high pre-eminence, assumed by the bishop of that city over all other ministers of the Gospel.
Correspondent with this adelress, and pointing to the same object, is the instruction given by Christ in Matt. xxiii. 6--12; while observing the conduct of the Scribes and Pharisees. Concerning these men our Saviour observes, They love greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But, he adds, be ye not called rabbi: for one is your Muster, even Christ. And call no man father upon the earth: for one is your father, who is in Heaven. Neither be ye called masters : for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is great'st among you shall be your servant : and whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abused : and whosoever shall humble himself shall be exulted.
The Scribes and Pharisees loved, and sought, external distinctions, uppermost rooms, chief seats in the Synagogues, greetings in the markets, and titles of honour. Against this spirit, and its consequences, Christ here warns his Apostles. As their only final securily against the disposition, he forbids The Distinctions, and Titles, io the acquisition of which its efforts were peculiarly directed. · Succeeding ministers are certainly no less interested in being secured against this temptation, danger and sin, than the Apostles were : and what was the means of their safety must be equally necessary, and equally useful, to their followers. Had the assumption of these titles and distinctions been enjoined upon the Apostles; the injunction would have been pleaded by succeeding ministers, as an ample warrant to themselves for assuming the samc lidles, and aiining at the same distinctions. To the Apostles they were prohibited. Why, according to the same mode of infer:
ence, they are not prohibited to succeeding ministers, I confess mysilf unable to explain.
2. The fact, that, wherever the Officers of the Church are mentioned together, no more than two classes are ever mentioned. .
In the former discourse, I made several observations concerning the actress of the Epistle to the Philippians, which, as specified in the first chapter and first verse, is to all the Saints, that are in Philipri, with the Bishops und Deucons. It will be unnecessary to add any thing, here, to what was then observed concerning this passage.
In i Tim. iji.; St. Paul instructs him, at large, in the qualifications of Ecclesiastical Officers ; and discusses this subject in form, and more extensively, than we find done in any other part of the Scriptures. But even here we find no other officers mentioned, beside the &TIOXOTOS; Bishop, or Overseer; and the diaxovas, Deacon. Is it not strange, if there had been an intermediate Officer, distinguished both from the Bishop and the Deacon, and known by the utle of Elder, that there should be here no mention of such an Officer? The character and duties of an Elder are on all hands acknowledged to be more important than those of a Deacon. Yet these are particularly pointed out; while of those not a hint is given. It is further to be remarked, that the office and duties of an Elder, as distinguished from a Bishop, are no where exhibited to us, in the New Testament. The text, certainly, is not such an exhibition. The Elders, here mentioned, were, plainly, all such, as of right, and by divine authority, exercised the office of a Bishop. For this silence on a subject, confessedly of serious importance to the Church, it is believed, no reason can be given.
When certain men came down from Judea to Antioch, and distresse: ed the church in that city, by teaching, that the Gentiles ought to be circumcised in order to their salvation; Paul and Barnabas, with certain others, were sent up to Jerusalem unto the Apostles and Elders, about this question. And when they were come lo Jerusalem, they were received of the Church, and of the Apostles and Elders. And they declared all things, which God had done with them. And the Apostles and Elders came together, for to consider of this matter. After the deliberation was ended, we are told, that it pleased the Apostles and Elders, with the whole Church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch, with Paul and Barnabas. They wrote letters by them after this manner: The Apostles, Elders, and Brethren, send greeting unto the Brethren, who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, and Syria, and Cilicia. See Acst xv. particularly verses 3, 4, 6, 22, 23.
Concerning this interesting recital I observe,
First, Thal the Church of Antioch sent their messengers to Jernia salem, lo obtain a decision concerning a question, incomparably more important than any other, which agilated the Christian world during the first century.