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the cassock, the cloak, and the band, all of which distinctions he thought tended to confirm the errohe represents them as “ licentious
who hate a dis“ tinct order of men, whose duty it is to reprove their flagiti
ous conduct ;" he must bear to be told the awful truth, that there are few persons, who have displayed more arrogance, more malignity, more attachment to the pleasures and the luxuries of life, whose conduct has been more “flagi“ tious," or who have afforded greater triumph to infidelity, than those priests who have all their lives had the highest ideas of their own sanctity of character and office ! Thus it was in the Jewish church in our Saviour's time; and thus it has been in a greater or less degree in the christian church" from " the beginning" down to the present day. Well might the preacher add that there is much less danger in placing “ an ignorant rustic in an apothecary's shop, than in sanction“ ing the entrance of a person into the ministry without “ knowledge, faithfulness, and prudence.” See-A charge delivered at the ordination of the Rev. George Clayton, at Walworth, by the Rev. John Clayton, sen. June 7, 1904. Printed for Williams, & Co.
In another charge the preacher (a Mr. Cuckin) sets out by informing the person ordained" That he addresses him with “ all the authority of a minister !" The nature of the ministerial office, as described by this Reverend gentleman, is curious: the following extract will doubtless amuse the reader.
“ The Hebrew word translated preacher signifies a Collector, " or one that gathers together.- -Seize all you can find " in the writings of the ancients or the improvements of the “ moderns : gather ideas from travellers, historians, philoso
phers, and divines :--the whole is lawful game! In s the new Testament the word used for a preacher seems to be 6 taken from the business of a public crier, or one whose busi
ness it is to commend the different articles he has to shew. “ No idea could be more analogous to the nature of this sa• s cred work. We are ambassadors for Christ. The pulpit is
neous opinions which people in general have of the nature of the ministerial office. He had no objec
a minister's throne, on which he appears with heavenly ma" jesty--to this sacred spot he ascends with trembling steps. “He is an ecclesiastical officer; a steward of the mysteries
of God, who partakes of the honour of his Lord !--As an ec“ clesiastical officer, we distinguish the christian preacher from " all other officers whatever. The authority of his instalment, “ the nature of the work, and the eminence of his station, are “ all of a peculiar kind. This is the most sacred and honour“ able office any man can hold: it elevates to a character su
perior to any that angels ever bore! We have the distin"guished honour of bringing messages from heaven to our fel“ low men.-Well might the Apostle magnify such an office.
You have the honour Sir, “ (addressing the young gentleman just come from an academy]” of being appointed keeper
of the archives, the sacred records of the state : you are be
come master of the rolls, you are warden the tower, in “ which is deposited the king's armoury, and all the precious
things of inestimable value," (the preacher, who, it is evident had visited the Tower of London, forgot to add, master of the mint, and keeper of the wild beasts,] “ the crown, and “ the sceptre, the sword of state, and whatever belongs to the “ honour of the king of saints. Be ready to shew these, (walk in gentlemen, &c.] on all proper occasions to his majesty's " loyal subjects. As a preacher, you are the Speaker of “ the assembly. You have been chosen to this office in a
way the most flattering to the feelings of man, by the una“ nimous vote of the whole house : We are come here to intro“ duce you into the chair ; you are the representative of the
king ; nothing can be done till you are there, and therefore
always be in your place at the time : maintain the order of “ the house, &c. &c.” The preacher gives a variety of dircctions respecting the style of a discourse, recommending the “ graces of speech," remarking however," that style is not “ the primary object, as it is the cloth that warms, and not
tion to an academic appearing in the habit to which his degree entitled him; but a dissenting
“the elegancy with which it is mounted !" -But I have already quoted too much from such a discourse !
If any thing can add to the disgust of the reader, it must be the intolerable self-conceit with which the preacher represents himself as a man of singular talents and learning, and which is further exemplified in his recommendation, “ that no one “ should be allowed to exercise in the public offices of reli
gion, but such as had received proper testimonials from
competent judges of their abilities to edify the church of “ God.” Had however, this custom prevailed, the preacher himself, judging from this discourse, would never have been suffered to enter the pulpit. See-A Charge delivered at the ordination of the Rev. Charles Dewhirst, at Bury, May 28, 1801. By Joseph Cockin. Printed for Conder, &c.”
Some apology is due to the reader for swelling this note with so much bombastic nonsense as I have quoted. Had it proceeded' from some obscure methodist village preachers, I should not have noticed it; but Mr. Cockin is pastor of a large congregation in a populous town in the North ; and Mr. Clayton of a large and opulent congregation in the Metropelis, whose immediate predecessors were eminently distintinguished for their talents, learning, piety, and candour! That such opinions should be endured by protestant dissenting congregations, affords melancholy evidence, how little they understand their own principles, and the danger they are in of becoming equally priest-ridden with the members of the church of England, and the church of Rome.
Such opinions, however, of the dignity of the dissenting priesthood, are so contrary both to Scripture and to common sense, as to be reprobated, even by some of the ministers who assisted in the ordinations alluded to ; and this accounts for the confused and contradictory sentiments which are not unfrequently apparent in services of this kind. In the introduce tory discourse delivered at the ordination of the Rev. George
minister, who aped the dress of the established clergy, was always the subject of his ridicule. Clayton, Mr. Kingsbury, represents the service of the day “ as
a public attestation to, and confirmation of a mutual choice " between minister and people;”—and adds che dare not as
sert that the rite of laying on of hands is essential to ordina" tion."-If so, the pastor must have been previously, ordained by the people, who afterwards invite others before whom they “ publicly declare, and solemnly ratify the contract.” The Rev. John Clayton, sen. is, however, positive (and I confess I partly agree with him) that“ if presbyters," (himself and his reverend brethren) do not possess the sole RIGHT of communicating the pastoral office, such an ordination as that in which he was engaging, and “ all similar ordi
nations, are to be condemned as solemn impertinencies !” It is likewise well known, that at the ordination of the Rev. John Clayton, jun. the discordance of opinion, on this subject, as expressed by Mr. Humphries, who delivered the introductory discourse, and by the father of the young gentleman ordained, who
gave the charge, was so great, that it was with difficulty they were persuaded to join in the publication of the service. At Mr. Dewhirst's ordination, after the high church claims advanced on the part of the dissenting priesthood, by the Rev. Joseph Cockin ; Mr. John Mead Ray, in his discourse addressed to the people, cautioned them against“ calling any man “ master upon earth, or bowing to any authority but that of “ their master in heaven.” He adds" I am sensible these
are not the times in which any person will be likely to succeed “in claiming superstitious or extravagant respect for the pas“ tors of the christian church, nor am I disposed to advance " claims of this nature, as the evidence of your love to them.” What a satire was such language on the preceding charge! This confusion of opinions may with great good humour, be buried, during the festivities which, so contrary to the universal practice recorded in the new Testament, always accompany a modern ordination; but the parties, should be
Although he so far accommodated himself to the prejudices of christians, as commonly to appear in
careful of afterwards exposing this confusion to the world; more especially as it tends to confirm many in the opinion, not only—that such ordination is totally unnecessary to the scriptural exercise of the pastoral office,-but that some of the ministers who are engaged in the service are of the same opinion, and that they can only justify their conduct on the plea of expediency.
Whilst writing this note I am happy to find similar sentiments to those I have expressed, in the writings of that respectable minister of the Baptist denomination--the late Mr. ABRAHAM Booth, who amongst a variety of excellent observations on the pride, &c. of ecclesiastics, remarks as follows. " I will add, whatever kind of succession to the “ apostles may be claimed by diocesan bishops, yet let not
protestant dissenting ministers arrogate an apostolic mis“ siun, powers and authority by calling themselves AMBAS
SADORS OF CHRIST : for that character seems to have “ been peculiar to the first-rate messengers of our divine “ Sovereign : or, if any of those who publish the gospel of
peace consider a title of that high importance, as quite “ suitable to the dignity of their station, they might with
propriety be requested to shew their credentials.” After expressing his dislike of titles. “ devised by ecclesiastics to “ render themselves respectable,” he subjoins the following anecdote from the pen of the learned Dr. John Owen respecting himself. “ For the title of Reverend, I do give [Mr. • Cawdrey] notice that I very little value it ever since I have • considered the saying of Luther : Nunquam periclitatur " religio nisi inter REVERENDISSIMOS ; so that he may, as “ to me, forbear it for the future, and call me as the qua“ kers do, and it shall suffice.”-See Mr. Booth's Essay on the kingdom of Christ. 2d. edition, price 1s. 6d. After reading this tract it need not excite surprise that one of Mr. Booth's friends, and brethren in the ministry, the late Mr.