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sers of his holy word and sacraments, the messengers and embassadors of Heaven. These characters ascribed to them in holy Scripture, sufficiently demonstrate the dignity of their function, and are a plain argument, that pone but God himself can give them their commission.
Q. State another argument to prove the necessity of a divine comınission, drawn from the constant practice among the Jews.
A. The apostle makes the calling of Aaron the pattern of all other ministers in the Jewish and Christian Church. No man taketh this honour to himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. Aaron and his sons, and the Levites, were consecrated by the express command of God to Moses, and they had all of them their distinct commission from Heaven, and no less than death was the penalty of invading their office. Christian niinisters must also have an external commission. They must be appointed by God as those were, and therefore it can be no less sacrilege to usurp
th office. Q. Does not the example of our Saviour also prove that no one ought to exercise the office of a minister in the Church of God without a divine commission ?
A. Our Saviour glorified not himself to be made an high priest, but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten thee. Though our Saviour wanted no gift to qualify him for this office, as having the divine nature inseparably united to his human, yet he would not enter upon his office till he was externally commissioned thereunto by the visible descent of the Holy Ghost upon him, and an audible voice from heaven, proclaiming him to be the Messiah. From all which it is evident, that no one ought to exercise the office of a minister in the Church of God without a divine commission : and that as the officers of the Christian Church, Bishops, Priests, and Deaeons, were appointed by God, this, like every other divine institution, must remain in the same state till it shall please God to change or wholly lay it aside; for men may with the same reason abolish the sacraments of the Church, and all other Christian institutions, as pretend that the functions of Church officers are mutable and temporary.
Q. Is there not a subordination among the officers of the Christian Church?
A. That there is a subordination among the officers of the Christian Church, is evident from Scripture. For the commission of the seventy was more limited than that of the twelve. And as the apostles and disciples were subject to Christ, so were the elders and deacons to the apostles. St. Paul sends to Miletus, and calls thither the elders of Ephesus, to whom he gives a most solemn charge; which is a manifest sign that they were under his government.z And at Corinth, where several prophets and evangelists were then present, the same apostle, being absent, both excommunicates, and absolves, and enacts laws. Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the rest judge.a If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge, that the things which I write unto you are the commandnients of the Lord. And, in like manner, Timothy, by virtue of the authority conferred on himn by the imposition of St. Paul's hands, ruled the whole Church of Ephesus, officers as well as privalc Christians. Whence it is manifest, that as the Christian Church was governed by the. three orders of apostles or bishops, priests, and deacons, so the supreme authority was lodged in the superior order of the apostles or bishops, from whom the priests and deacons derived their power, and without whose consent they could not lawfully perform any religious act.
Q. From whom is all authority in the Church originally. derived ?
A. The original of all ecclesiastical authority is from God the Father, by whom our Lord was sent into the world to. mediate between God and man, as he himself witnesseth. As thou hast sent me into the world, saith be to the Father, even so have I also sent them into the world ;C and to his apostles, As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.d God the Father hath given unto the Son, in the capacity of mediator, all power in heaven and earth, and hath constituted him the head of the body, the Church. Jesus Christ the Son is now the source of all authority in the Church, and will continue its supreme head until the final consummation of the work of redemption.
Q. By whom is this ecclesiastical authority immediately conferred ?
A. The person by whom ecclesiastical power is imme
à 1 Cor, xiv. 291
b 1 Cor. xiv. 37.
2 Acts xx. 17, &c. d John XX. 2:
John xvii. 18.
diately conferred, is the Holy Spirit, the third person in the blessed and undivided Trinity. He it was, by whose anointing our Lord was invested with his mediatorial office. Whence he is said to have preached by the Spirit;e through the Holy Spirit he gave commandments to the apostles whom he had chosen. By the Spirit of God he cast out devils. Through the eternal Spirit he offered himself to God. And the authority and special grace, whereby the apostles and all church-officers execute their respective functions, are in the same manner ascribed to the Spirit. This was expressed in the very form of the apostles' ordination, Receive ye 'the Holy Ghost : whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted ; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained :h where the authority to remit and retain sins is made a consequence of their receiving the Holy Ghost. And St. Paul ascribes to the same Spirit both the offices of the apostles and other ministers, and their abilities to discharge those offices. So that all ecclesiastical authority is the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Q. Since God does not now give any miraculous call to the ministerial office, what persons has he intrusted with authority to ordain ministers in his Church?
A. If we may be allowed to reason from the constitution and universal practice of civil societies, we must conclude, that the power of ordaining ministers belongs to the Bishops, who are the chief governors of the Church, because the power of constituting subordinate magistrates belongs to the supreme governors of all civil societies : and it is contradictory to reason, that they who exercise any authority, whether in the church or in the state, should derive their authority from any but those in whom the supreme authority is lodged. Accordingly, we find in the Gospel, that whilst our Lord lived on earth, he reserved the power of ordaining ministers to himself. He gave the apostles and the seventy disciples a commission to preach, but never allowed them, while he continued among them, to communicate that commission to any other. Afterwards, when the apostles were the chief visible governors of the Church, they ordained Ministers. All the Apostles together ordained the seven Deacons in the Church of Jerusalem.j Paul and Barnabas ordained Elders in every Church which they
o Luke iv. 18,
f Acts i, 2. il Cor. xii, 1,31; Eph. iv. 7, 8, 11.
visited. In the same age, this authority was exercised by others whom the apostles had ordained to be chief governors of churches. Timothy and Titus ordained ministers in their respective dioceses of Ephesus and Crete. That no inferior order had this power is evident. St. Paul tells Titus, that for this cause he left him in Crete, that he might ordain Elders in every city. But this could be no cause of leaving him there, if the Presbyters or Elders had the power of ordination lodged in them : for that island had been converted to Christianity long before this cpistle was written, and before Titus came thither; and no doubt there were many Presbyters among them. The same may be said of Timothy's being sent to Ephesus. He would not certainly have been sent thither to ordain persons to the ministry, if the Presbyters there before bad possessed that power.
Q. But do not the words Bishop and Presbyter in the New Testament sometimes denote the same office?
A. On the subject of the officers of the Church the ques. tion is not so much in regard to the names of these officers, as to the distinction and subordination among the officers themselves. It is granted that Bishop and Presbyter in the New Testament were used as names for the same.office, generally that which we now call the order of priests. But it has been proved, that in the days of the apostles there were three orders in the Church, with distinct powers For example, in the Church at Ephesus, there were.
Timothy the superior, Bishops or Presbyters subject to his superintendence, and the order of Deacons. There were Bishops or Presbyters in it before Timothy was fixed there, as we learn from Acts xx. If those Bishops or Presbyters had the power of ordination or government in their hands, it would not have been necessary to set Timothy over that Church, in order to exercise these very powers. The fact is, that, during the lives of the apostles, the three orders of the ministry were distinguished by the names of Apostles, Bishops, Presbyters or Elders, and Deacons. After the death of the apostles, their successors in the first order of the ministry, not choosing to retain the name which, by way of eminence, had been applied to the twelve, took the name of Bishops, which was never afterwards applied to the second order of the ministry, but was considered as the
appropriate name of the first order. Theodoret says expressly, “ that in process of time, those who succeeded to the apostolic office, left the name of Apostle to the Apostles, strictly so called, and gave the name of Bishop to those who succeeded to the apostolic office.” Thus the name of Bishop, and that of Elder or Presbyter, which were promiscuously used for the same office in Scripture, came to be distinct in the ecclesiastical use of words, as the offices were from the beginning. Bishops, as they are distinct from Presbyters, do not derive their succession from those who are promiscuously called in the New Testament, Bishops or Elders, but from the Apostles themselves, and their successors, such as Timothy, Titus, Sylvanus, Epaphroditus, and others.
Q. But is there not a passage in St. Paul's charge to Timothy, which implies that Presbyters had the power of ordination ?
A. It is true that St. Paul charges Timothy (1 Tim. iv. 14.) “ Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery." But in his second episile (2 Tim. i. 6.) St. Paul charges him, “ Wherefore I put thee in remembrance, that thou stir up the gift of God which is in thee, by the putting on of my hands.” It appears, therefore, that St. Paul ordained Timothy with the concurrence of the Presbytery. By the Presbytery may be understood a number of Apostles, who laid their hands on_Timothy, since the Apostles, though certainly superior to Presbyters, style themselves - Elders”m or Presbyters. The Greek exposi. tors understood the passage in this sense as well as the Greek Church, both ancient and modern: for in the ordinations of this Church, the Presbyters do not lay on their hands with the Bishop. Nor was it the custom in the Western Church, until the fourth century. But, allowing that by the Presbytery is meant a number of Presbyters, it is evident, from a comparison of the two texts, that the Presbyters imposed hands not to convey authority, but merely to express approbation.“ By the putting on of my hands," " with the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery." In the Church of England, and in the Protestant Episcopal Church, the Presbyters lay on their hands with the Bishops in ordination, not to convey authority, but merely to denote concurrence.
m 1 Peter v, 1; 3 John i. 1.
n Chrysostom Theophylactt