Form Of Presbyterial Church-Government
Touching The Doctrine Of Ordination.
No man ought to take upon him the office of a minister of the word without a lawful calling. Ordination is always to be continued in the church. Ordination is the solemn setting apart of a person to some publick church office. Every minister of the word is to be ordained by imposition of hands, and prayer, with fasting, by those preaching presbyters to whom it doth belong. It is agreeable to the word of God, and very expedient, that such as are to be ordained ministers, be designed to some particular church, or other ministerial charge. He that is to be ordained minister, must be duly qualified, both for life and ministerial abilities, according to the rules of the apostle. He is to be examined and approved by those by whom he is to be ordained. No man is to be ordained a minister for a particular congregation, if they of that congregation can shew just cause of exception against him.
Question 1.—May a man take upon him the office of a minister of the word without a lawful calling? Answer.—No. John 3:27; Rom. 10:14, 15; Jer. 14:14; Heb. 5:4. Thus do the Fanatics and others err who maintain that a man might take upon himself the office of minister of the word without a lawful calling. In the sacred assembly all things ought to be done decently and in order, 1 Cor. 14:40, there is nothing in which this ought to be more carefully observed than in settling government, irregularity in any respect being nowhere more perilous. It was expressly provided that no one should assume a public office in the Church without a call, Heb. 5:4; Jer. 17:16. Therefore, if any one would be deemed a true minister of the Church, he must first be duly called; and, secondly, he must answer to his calling; that is, undertake and execute the office assigned to him. Question 2.—Is ordination always to be continued in the church? Answer.—Yes. Tit. 1:5; 1 Tim. 5:21, 22. Thus do the Quakers and other heretics err maintaining that ordination is not always to be continued in the church. They are confuted for the following reasons: 1.) The doctrine of ordination is listed amongst the first principles of the faith, Heb. 6:1, 2. And which of these other doctrines has been made obsolete? 2.) The apostolic admonition concerning the transmission of the ministry to faithful and able men implies that ordination is to be continued, 2 Tim. 2:2. Question 3.—Is ordination the solemn setting apart of a person to some public church office? 1John 3:27; Rom. 10:14, 15; Jer. 14:14; Heb. 5:4. 2Tit. 1:5; 1 Tim. 5:21 ,22. 3Num. 8:10, 11, 14, 19, 22; Acts 6:3, 5, 6. 41 Tim. 5:22; Acts 14:23; Acts 13:3. 5Acts 14:23; Tit. 1:5; Acts 20:17, 28. 61 Tim. 3:2-6; Tit. 1:5-9. 71 Tim. 3:7, 10; 1 Tim. 5:22. 81 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:7.
Answer.—Yes. Num. 8:10, 11, 14, 19, 22; Acts 6:3, 5, 6. The act of ordaining is a setting apart to office. This is seen in the case of Joseph, Acts 7:10; Pharaoh did not confer on him that which he had before but an office he never had. Thus did it connote from the earliest times, Deut. 1:13; Ex. 18:21. Question 4.—Is every minister of the word to be ordained by imposition of hands, and prayer, with fasting, by those preaching presbyters to whom it does belong? Answer.—Yes. 1 Tim. 5:22; Acts 14:23; Acts 13:3. For prayer, 1.) In the Old Testament, Aaron and his sons did not enter upon their ministry, until they had been sanctified by the holy oil, and sprinkling of blood, and had been seven days before the Lord in the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, Lev. 8:33. 2.) In the New Testament our Saviour, when he chose his apostles is said to have spent the whole night before in prayer, Luke 6:12, 13. And to this, Jesus directs his disciples when they lack faithful ministers, Matt. 9:36-38. For joining fasting with prayer, 1.) It is said that the prophets and teachers of Antioch joined fasting to their prayer, Acts 13:1-3. 2.) Paul and Barnabas kept this practice when they went abroad in the churches, Acts 14:23. For the imposition of hands, 1.) We see it to be the constant ceremony of the apostles, Acts 6:6; 13:3; 2 Tim. 1:6. 2.) It is proved from that command of Paul to Timothy, 1 Tim. 5:22. For when Timothy is forbidden to lay hands suddenly, it is implied, that it was his duty to lay on hands. 3.) This whole work of ordination is comprehended under the ceremony of imposition of hands, 1 Tim. 4:14; 5:22. 4.) The apostle places the doctrine of ordination amongst the first principles of Christ, Heb. 6:1, 2. Question 5.—Is it agreeable to the word of God, and very expedient, that such as are to be ordained ministers, be designed to some particular church, or other ministerial charge? Answer.—Yes. Acts 20:17, 28. It is an ordinance of God. For we read that Paul and Barnabas appointed presbyters over each of the churches of Lystra, Antioch, and Iconium, Acts 14:23; and Paul himself enjoins Titus to ordain presbyters in every town, Tit. 1:5. In like manner, he mentions the bishops of the Philippians, and Archippus, the bishop of the Colossians, Phil. 1:1; Col. 4:17. And in the Acts we have his celebrated address to the presbyters of the Church of Ephesus, Acts 20:28. Question 6.—Must he that is to be ordained minister, be duly qualified, both for life and ministerial abilities, according to the rules of the apostle? Answer.—Yes. 1 Tim. 3:2-6; Tit. 1:5-9. None are to be chosen save those who are of sound doctrine and holy lives, and not notorious for any defect which might destroy their authority and bring disgrace on the ministry. Question 7.—Is he to be examined and approved by those by whom he is to be ordained? Answer.—Yes. 1 Tim. 3:7, 10; 5:22. The language of the apostle points to an examination and approval by those who are to ordain. Particularly the right and duty of refusal to ordain those found unqualified is held in the Pauline command to Timothy not to lay hands suddenly on any man. Question 8.—Is any man to be ordained a minister for a particular congregation, if they of that congregation can show just cause of exception against him? Answer.—No. 1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:7. We see that by the command of the Lord, the practice in electing the Levitical priests was to bring them forward in view of the people before consecration, Num. 8:9, 10. Nor is Matthias enrolled among the number of the apostles, nor are the seven deacons elected in any other way, than at the sight and approval of the people, Acts 1:23; 6:2.