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the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds." Acts, xix. 6. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied."The apostles too had the gift of prophecy, of discerning spirits, and of inflicting remarkable judgments. And they had authority to fix permanent officers in the church. Eph. iv. 8. and 11."When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. ."-" And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers."1 Pet. v. 1—4. “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock: and when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away." Finally, all had authority to complete the canon of the New Testament, and lay down the whole system of christian doctrine, discipline, and government. Such are the points of peculiarity and pre-eminence by which the apostles were distinguished. The partisans of a certain form of church order have insisted that the apostles were a superior order of officers to the seventy disciples, but without the least foundation for it; compare the history of their appointments in Matt. ix. 37. x. 16, with that of the seventy in Luke x. 1 -16, and you will find their commissions the same, both in form and substance, the same powers, the same instructions, the same cautions, the same support. The truth is, that the ministry of the Baptist, of Christ himself, of the twelve, and of the seventy, was, in all these four instances, preparative to the organization and full settlement of the New Testament church, after Christ's death and resurrection. None succeeded the twelve in the apostleship. Their great powers ceased with themselves. They were instruments clothed with vast powers for certain purposes, and when these were effected, the instruments were laid aside.
Prophets. This class of primitive ministers are ranked next after the apostles. "He hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets." &c. No doubt the apostles possessed this gift in the highest degree, whilst yet it was a gift by which those of the second class of ministers were particularly and chiefly characterised. The strict and precise meaning of the word prophecy is to foretell future events, an ability to do which was one of the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, at the commencement
of the new dispensation. There was a superior and a lower order of these New Testament prophets. As "the word of wisdom," which holds the first place in the catalogue of spiritual gifts, has been interpreted—of every clear and comprehensive view of the whole compass of christian doctrine which the Spirit imparted to the apostles, so "the word of knowledge by the same Spirit”has in much probability been referred to the explanation and application of the Old Testament types and prophecies, which was the distinguishing characteristic trait of the New Testament superior prophets. "For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;" &c. A class of men expressly inspired to give an interpretation of the law and the prophets, binding on the conscience, appears to have been in all ages highly necessary, since the old prophets themselves were not let into the meaning of their own revelations. Of this class of men the spirit seems to speak expressly when he says, "that the mystery of Christ which was hid from former ages and generations, is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets." Eph. iii. 5. From his speech to the Jewish council, the proto-martyr Stephen evidently belonged to this order of spiritual men. (Acts vii.) So likewise were the prophets of Antioch, (Acts xiii. 1.) particularly Barnabas and Saul. How often do we find Saul by virtue of the gift of the" word of knowledge," dipping deeply into the secrets contained in the ancient oracles, such as the call of the Gentiles, the rejection of the Jews, and their future restoration. (Rom. xvi.) The lower order of prophets engaged in an exercise much the same as that now called preaching; their gift was confined to speaking in a plain, intelligible way on some point of doctrine or duty so as to edify, or exhort the church. The word prophecy is often used in this lax sense. (1 Cor. xiv. 3. xxix. 31.) Judas and Silas had this gift. (Acts xv. 36.) Some of the lower prophets foretold particular events-as Agabus did the famine at Jerusalem, andPaul's being bound there. (Acts xi. 27. xxviii. 21. x. 11.) After observing that no part of the New Testament was written till some time after the Redeemer's ascension-hat many years elapsed before the whole was penned, and that the apostles were few in number, compared with the vast field of their labours-we need say nothing more to demonstrate the urgent necessity and great beauty of appointing a distinct order of men infallibly to interpret the scriptures of the Old Testament, and to make known to particular churches "the riches of the glory of the mystery of Christ hid from ages and generations." But when the canon of the New Testament was completed, and the apostles in the ex
ercise of the gift of "the word of wisdom" had given the church in writing, an infallible and complete standard of truth and duty, the office of the prophets became superceded and suspended, and the prophets themselves, like their elder brethren the apostles had no successors.
Evangelists. They constitute a third order in the catalogue.— (Eph. iv 11.) "He gave some evangelists." &c. The third class. mentioned in 1 Cor. xii. 28, are called " teachers," which may include evangelists, as well as the ordinary pastors and teachers. Evangelist was the name of certain extarordinary officers in the primitive church, who were employed as travelling companions and assistants of the apostles in propagating the gospel. The apostles themselves having laid the foundations of the faith, the evangelists travelled round the country without any settled charge of their own, to complete the organization of the churches by consigning them to the care of the ordinary and stated ministry. Of this order of spiritual ministers were Philip, Silas, Timothy, and Titus; Luke and Mark, and perhaps many others, who accompanied and assisted Paul. That they led an itinerant life without any fixed charges, may be easily gathered, from their history. The friends of Diocesan Episcopacy have, indeed, laboured to show, that Timothy was bishop of Ephesus, and Titus of Crete, over which they presided, as their fixed charges: but such an idea is wholly incompatible with their itinerant mode of life, and the nature of their official employments; and of the whole tenor of Paul's addresses to them, in the epistles which he sent to the one and to the other. The apostle expressly denominates Timothy an evangelist. (2 Tim. iv. 5.) He mentions the express purpose for which he loft Titus in Crete, (Titus i. 5.) viz: to do the work of an evangelist there; and when the exigency was answered, Titus returned to Paul as directed, having done all that was assigned him in that station. That an evangelist had extraordinary powers, is evident from the history of Philip the evangelist, Acts viii. 6-13. The gift of faith, of miracles, and of tongues, mentioned immediately after the "word of wisdom and of knowledge," may intimate them to have been the appropriate gifts of the evangelists, the third order of ministers. Their work, like that of the apostles, was in its nature extraordinary and temporary. After constituting regular and fixed pastors, and committing to them the cultivation of these new plantations, they passed on to preach the gospel, and organize churches in other countries and nations.
Such, and such only, were the extraordinary ministers given to the infant church. You will find an enumeration of the mighty
powers with which they were clothed, in 2 Cor. xii. To investigate the special nature of these powers might be necessary in order fully to perceive what sort of instruments the apostles, prophets, and evangelists were. But the subject is difficult, and it would not be easy to cast a clear light upon it. The order of the offices does not, as some suppose, exactly suit the arrangement of the gifts. It is not easy to determine absolutely the meaning of some of the gifts. Yet the gifts and offices were all distinct.Perhaps the same persons might sustain several of the characters, and exercise many of the gifts, and perhaps the apostles possessed, and exercised them all. But we cannot with great accuracy and minuteness say, which belonged to one class, and which to another; yet all the offices and gifts existed in the primitive church, and this shows us by what a wonderful instrumentality, God founded and organized, and settled the primitive church. But a ministry altogether extraordinary and temporary, affords no rule, and constitutes no precedent for a ministry which is ordinary and permanent. The measures adopted by invaders for conquering a country, authorize no inference as to the form of government which may be prescribed for it when conquered. The powers of those who first set up a civil constitution, warrant no inference as to the powers and jurisdiction of the different departments of a fully organized government. What the apostles, and evangelists did, in executing their peculiar and extraordinary trust, exhibits the method appointed by Christ for founding churches, but nothing more. The officers and orders permanently fixed in the churches planted by their care, is quite another subject. The same extraordinary instrumentality was not required, and we know, has not been continued, after the foundations were faid. Therefore, we now notice
Pastors and Teachers—the ordinary and permanent instrumentality appointed by positive statute for gathering in sinners, and building up saints. Some suppose distinct offices are here meant -that the pastors had fixed charges, called their flocks, to which they statedly administered all divine ordinances, and that the teachers were employed in instructing the young and ignorant, and occasionally preaching; and that they were to the pastors,what the evangelists were to the apostles. But it is not said distinctly in the text, 6c some pastors and some teachers," as in the case of the other orders; and to us, they seem to express one and the same thing, only the one word is figurative, and the other is not. A pastor feeds the flock in "the words of faith and sound doctrine," and a teacher, teaches them the way of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ; and where is the difference? what the one
name expresses figuratively, the other does literally. These pastors and teachers are called bishops and elders, and in the New Testament; these two names, bishop and elder, are perfectly identified. Thus Paul enjoins the presbyters or elders of Ephesus, "to feed the church of God over which the Holy Ghost had made them bishops." Acts xx. 17–28. The office of a presbyter and bishop, is one and the same office. Titus i. 5. Hence Titus is directed to "ordain in every city presbyters who were to be blameless," for says he, "a bishop must be blameless." 1 Pet. v. 1-2, is equally conclusive "the elders which are among you, I exhort-feed the flock of God-taking the oversight thereof," literally exercising the office, and performing the duties of a bishop over them. Paul and Barnabas made a circuit in company among the churches, ordaining presbyters in the churches they had founded. Acts xiv. 23. Scriptural bishops, therefore, were elders appointed to the pastoral oversight of single congregations; and in the history of the proceedings of the apostles and evangelists, we do not find an instance of a fixed charge assigned to any officer above a presbyter, who was called pastor or teacher merely from the nature of his employments. Pastor and teacher, are so connected with the "work of the ministry," (Eph. iv. 11.) which is to be continued in the church to the end of the world, for the perfecting of the body of Christ, that it is. evident, that they, and they only, were to constitute the ordinary and permanent ministry of the church. These the apostles invested not with their own extraordinary official powers, but with the ordinary powers of dispensing the word and sacraments, and exercising acts of government and discipline, and which ordinary powers were to be transmitted in constant succession. Pastors, associated with a class of elders who do not "labour in word and doctrine," but only rule, constitute tribunals of different grades, which have cognisance of all the spiritual affairs of churches, relating to matters of discipline and government, whilst the pastors themselves, are separated to the work of publicly expounding the word of God, dispensing all ordinances, catechising and pastoral visitation.
As to the qualifications requisite for this permanent ministry, Paul, in the epistles to Timothy and Titus, has furnished them with written instructions both for their ministerial and personal conduct. And what a rich manual of instructions is contained in those apostolical directions! What a great compass of matter is compressed into a few lines! And with what plainness, deep earnestness, and solemnity does he speak to ministers of their duty! Any comments of ours, would but weaken their force, by injur