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Sermons & Study Guides

Form Of Presbyterial Church-Government Pt. 19 - Concerning The Doctrinal Part Of Ordination Of Ministers.

James Dodson

Form Of Presbyterial Church-Government

Concerning The Doctrinal Part Of Ordination Of Ministers. 

1. No man ought to take upon him the office of a minister of the word without a lawful calling. 2. Ordination is always to be continued in the church. 3. Ordination is the solemn setting apart of a person to some publick church office. 4. 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. 5.  The  power  of  ordering  the  whole  work  of  ordination  is  in  the  whole  presbytery, which, when it is over more congregations than one, whether these congregations be fixed or not fixed, in regard of officers or members, it is indifferent as to the point of ordination. 6.  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. 7. He that is to be ordained minister, must be duly qualified, both for life and ministerial abilities, according to the rules of the apostle. 8. He is to be examined and approved by those by whom he is to be ordained. 9. 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. 10.  The  preaching  presbyters  orderly  associated,  either  in  cities  or  neighbouring villages,  are  those  to  whom  the  imposition  of  hands  doth  appertain,  for  those congregations within their bounds respectively. 11. In extraordinary cases, something extraordinary may be done, until a settled order may be had, yet keeping as near as possibly may be to the rule. 12. There is at this time (as we humbly conceive) an extraordinary occasion for a way of ordination for the present supply of ministers.

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;  Jer.  14:14.    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.  The Scriptures hold out the following things concerning a lawful calling: 1.) Mission  is  essential  to  the  constitution  of  a  minister,  Rom.  10:14,  15.    The  apostle’s argument hinges not on the minister being gifted, but upon him being sent.  2.) The calling
must  be  from  God,  Heb.  5:4.    Just  as  Aaron  did  not  undertake  his  office  until  called thereunto, Ex. 28:1; no more did any of the priests in the Old Testament, 2 Chron. 29:11; 26:16.   3.)  The  titles  used  of  ministers imply  a  commission—stewards  do  not  officiate without warrant, Luke 12:42; Tit. 1:7; ambassadors do not go forth to treat with foreign states  without  public  commission,  2  Cor.  5:20.    4.)  Scripture  maintains  a  constant distinction between gifts and calling, John 20:21, 22; Isa. 6:6, 7, 9; Jer. 1:5, 9.  If gifts were sufficient to make a minister, then women might preach as well as men.  5.) Those called by God preach no other doctrine but what is agreeable to the Word of God, Jer. 23:16; 29:8, 9.  6.) The Scriptures lay down rules for the calling of a man to the office of the ministry; both as to qualifications, 1 Tim. 3:2,3; and the manner of his calling, 1 Tim. 4:14. Question 2.—Is  ordination  the  solemn  setting  apart  of  a  person  to  some  public  church office? Answer.—Yes. Num. 8:10, 11, 14, 19, 22; Acts 6:3, 5, 6.  The act of ordaining is a setting  apart,  or  commissioning,  to  office.   Ordination is  an  act  of  government  for  the ordering and establishing of the church, Tit. 1:5. Question 3.—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.  The people’s right to show just cause of exception in the choice of their own pastors, is evident from the Lord’s command unto them to try the spirits, 1 John 4:1; his warning to beware of false prophets, Matt. 7:15; his admonition that his sheep do not hearken to the voices of strangers and hirelings, John 10:5; and his commendation of the Church at Ephesus for rejecting false teachers, Rev. 2:2.  All which demonstrate the people’s power to give the negative upon just occasion. Question 4.—In extraordinary cases, may something extraordinary be done, until a settled order may be had, yet keeping as near as possibly may be to the rule? Answer.—Yes. 2 Chron. 29:34-36; 30:2-5.  A succession in the church is necessary ordinarily; extraordinarily, and in the cases of necessity, it may be lacking. This is because a right succession must be a succession to truth of doctrine, not to the naked office, 1 Tim. 4:16; 6:3-5.  In cases of necessity, when ordination cannot be had lawfully (though there be lawful ordination), election by the people only may stand for ordination, where there are no pastors at all.  This is proved: 1.) Because God is not necessarily tied to succession of pastors; Jer. 2:8; 12:10.  2.) Because where men are gifted for the works of the ministry, and there are no pastors to be had, the giving of the Holy Ghost is a sign of a calling of God, who is not lacking to his own gracious intention, though ordinary means fail; Jer. 3:15; Matt. 12:2-8.  As Mr. Rutherfurd notes, “They are lawful pastors, and need not a calling revealed, who, in cases of extraordinary necessity, are only chosen by the people and not ordained by pastors.” Question 5.—Wasthere at that time (as we humbly conceive) an extraordinary occasion for a way of ordination for the present supply of ministers? Answer.—Yes.  To remedy this, the divines sought to erect a “provisional” presbytery to  go  to  areas  without  ministers  and  ordain;  or  make  trial  and  ordain  where  the congregations were not competent to make such trials.