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chapter of the second, concerning the religious care and caution, with which that business should be conducted. Similar to the designation of Timothy, was that of Titus; as appears in the fifth verse of the epistle to him; in which the apostle says "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee."
These seem very express authorities; especially when it is considered, that throughout the whole gospel narrative, there is not a single instance of any person's taking on himself the ministerial character, on the mere ground of the weight of any sentiment on his mind, which he supposed to be the call of God. So far as the practice of early Churches is concerned, it goes directly to the same point: There not having been any such Church, in which the ministry was not supposed to be fenced round by divine appointment, and to have been handed in succession from the apostles. The evidences of the designation of the Christian ministry, are thus as clearly recorded, as were those of the Jewish priesthood. And if under the legal economy, "no man took this honour to himself, but he that was called of God, as was Aaron"*-called of God, not by an inward voice, but by the ministry of Moseswhich was the medium of call on Aaron and all his sons-so neither can any man take to himself the character of a pastor of the Christian Church, but through the door of entry which has been opened by her divine head.
This would be entirely misunderstood; if it should be construed to confine to the clergy the office of imparting spiritual benefit, as God may have given ability to any one; and as there may be a readiness in others to receive instruction or consolation or excitement. Christians of every description are encouraged to "exhort one another
• Heb. v. 4.
daily, while it is called to day, lest any be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."* And St. James says-without any regard to a peculiar order"Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth a sinner from the errour of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins." In fact, here is a duty lying more or less on all; and especially on parents towards their children, and on superiours to their dependents ge nerally.
But while the doctrines of the gospel are not more or less true, or its duties more or less obliga. tory, according to the mouths from which they come, there is an order of persons, who are espe cially commissioned to declare them; and to preside in all transactions, the object of which is to sustain the system, especially in such as are prescribed by its divine ordainer: among which, must be reckoned occasions of assembling in his name, to be rightly instructed in his holy word; and to join in acts of worship, through his merits and mediation. It is thus, that there is drawn the line of distinction between the duties which lie on Christians generally; and those attached to the ministry in particular.
It falls within the design, to point out wherein our system differs from the sentiments of other professing Christians: A part of the duty, which is here wished to be performed, in a spirit equally distant from uncharitableness and intolerance on the one hand, and from the want of confidence in the integrity of our ecclesiastical system, on the other.
It is in direct contrariety to the systems of those denominations of professing Christians, who ground the right of exercising the ministry, on an incitement, or what is supposed to be a call, in the mind of the party to that effect. Thus far we agree with
*Heb. iii. 13. t Ch. v. 19, 20.
them, that where there is a tendency of inclination to the work of the gospel, having for its object the glory of God and the good of men; the sufficiency of the party appearing to those who have authority to judge thereof; the said favourable inclination may be considered as one of those fruits of the Spirit, which are said to be "in all goodness, and righteousness and truth."* And hence it is, that in our Ordinal, the person to be admitted to the first grade of the ministry is asked-not whether he knows, by a revelation to his mind, but-whether he trusts, that he is called by the Holy Ghost to this office and ministry: a species of call, no otherwise to be felt, than from the holy intentions entertained. But this is very different from referring, for a standard of the right to minister, to a persuasion existing or said to exist in the party's mind.
There cannot be a more decisive proof of the untenable nature of this ground, than the fact, that the communions adopting it are compelled by imperious necessity, to devise provisions against the extravagances growing out of the principle. This is a circumstance, which should be especially noticed by some persons of our own communion. For there are occasionally those, who forward the pretensions of persons, wishing for an access to the ministry, without the requisite qualifications; but actuated by an earnest desire of serving God in this way: The mere desire being construed into evidence, that there will be future usefulness. Independently on the proofs which we possess, of the insufficiency of such a test; it ought to weigh much, that in proportion to its having been relied on among other people, to justify a voluntary assumption of the ministry; there has appeared a call for some strong bar against the continuance of such ministry, when it is unwelcome.
Besides the plea of an incitement in the mind,
Eph. v. 9.
there is that set up by some, of a right of every independent congregation to ordain. But there is so very little even of allegation of Scripture warrant for the theory; that, as the ground here taken militates as well against it, as against the other; the brevity consulted may excuse from adding any thing concerning a scheme of discipline, which, besides its contrariety to the gospel, is a precedent operating generally to the setting up of human will, as a test of the requisitions of revelation.
The result is this: Jesus Christ instituted the ministry of his apostles, as is not denied by any: The apostles admitted others to a participation with them, as is evident from the documents recited: That this order, once taken, was to be continued beyond them, is evident in the nature of the case; and is particularly recognized in what St. Paul says to Timothy in his second epistle" The things thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also."* St. Peter too, after discoursing of the exercise of his own ministry, tells those whom he addresses-" Moreover, I will endeavour, that ye may be able after my decease, to have these things always in remembrance:" Which supposes a continuance of the same ministry, after that he should have put off his earthly tabernacle, which was to be " shortly;" as, he says, "the Lord Jesus Christ had showed him." But while we contend for this order, on the ground of divine institution; let it not be inferred, that the exclusive possession of an ecclesiastical succession, involves an arbitrary power in the administration of the attendant rite. There can be no doubt, that the exercise of it is a subject of ecclesiastical legislation. Independently on this, the great object of the whole, which is the edification of the Church, should legislate to the consciences of all concerned. St. Paul,
⚫ Ch. ii. 2. tii. 1. 15.
in laying downregulations, applying alike to a bishop and to a presbyter, makes it necessary that he "have a good report of them that are without:"* And if so, still more necessary is it, that he have a good report of them that are within. On these considerations is grounded the solemn calls made on the congregation, in our services of ordination. And as to any other provisions, having a regard to popular satisfaction in this department, they harmonize with the institutions of our Church; which know no other end than the good of the flock, while yet she does not profess to deduce the rights of her ministry from their will, or from any other source than apostolical appointment.
The second stated principle of our communion, is that in every local Church, the ministry is independent on all foreign authority and jurisdiction: The position being principally intended to deny the supremacy of the bishop of Rome, or his claim to the submission and the obedience of all the Churches of Christendom. We deny not, that all these constitute one whole or Catholick Church; being bound together by the same constituent principles in faith, in worship, and in discipline; and being under the obligation of the same law of charity. But we say, that whereas there is the material difference between the Jewish Church and the Christian, of the restriction of the former to a single nation, and of the suiting of the latter to all the local eircumstances to which the glad tidings of salvation might extend; it was essential to such a design, that, agreeably to one of the Articles already quoted, every particular or national Church should have within itself, all power necessary to its good government. Otherwise, Christians generally will be under such a subjection in spirituals, as must necessarily be liable to be abused; to the withdrawing of them from their civil allegiance, with its * 1 Tim. iii, 7.