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Sermons & Study Guides

Form Of Presbyterial Church-Government Pt. 22 - The Directory For The Ordination Of Ministers (part 3).

James Dodson

Form Of Presbyterial Church-Government

The Directory For The Ordination Of Ministers (part 3).

11. And in the case any person already ordained minister in Scotland, or in any other reformed church, be designed to another congregation in England, he is to bring from that church to the presbytery here, within which the congregation is, a sufficient testimonial of his ordination, of his life and conversation while he lived with them, and of the causes of his  removal;  and  to  undergo  such  a  trial  of  his  fitness  and  sufficiency,  and  to  have  the same  course  held  with  him  in  other  particulars,  as  is  set  down  in  the  rule  immediately going before [rule 10.], touching examination and admission. 12.  That  records  be  carefully  kept  in  the  several  presbyteries,  of  the  names  of  the persons  ordained,  with  their  testimonials,  the  time  and  place  of  their  ordination,  of  the presbyters  who  did  impose  hands  upon  them,  and  of  the  charge  to  which  they  are appointed. 13. That no money or gift, of what kind soever, shall be received from the person to be ordained, or from any on his behalf, for ordination, or ought else belonging to it, by any of the presbytery, or any appertaining to any of them, upon what pretence soever. Thus far of ordinary Rules, and course of Ordination, in the ordinary way; that which concerns the extraordinary way, requisite to be now practiced, followeth. 1.  In  these  present  exigencies,  while  we  cannot  have  any presbyteries  formed  up  to their whole power and work, and that many ministers are to be ordained for the service of the  armies  and  navy,  and  to  many  congregations  where  there  is  no  minister  at  all;  and where (by reason of the publick troubles) the people cannot either for themselves enquire and find out one who may be a faithful minister for them, or have any with safety sent unto them,  for  such  a  solemn  trial  as  was  before  mentioned  in  the  ordinary  rules;  especially, when there can be no presbytery near unto them, to whom they may address themselves, or which may come and send to them a fit man to be ordained in that congregation, and for that people; and yet notwithstanding, it is requisite that ministers be ordained for them by some, who, being set apart themselves for the work of the ministry, have power to join in the setting apart others, who are found fit and worthy.  In those cases, until, by God’s blessing, the aforesaid difficulties may be in some good measure removed, let some godly ministers,  in  or  about  the  city  of  London,  be  designed by  publick  authority,  who,  being associated,  may  ordain  ministers  for  the  city  and  the  vicinity,  keeping  as  near  to  the ordinary  rules  fore-mentioned  as  possibly  they  may;  and  let  this  association  be  for  no other intent or purpose, but only for the work of ordination. 2.  Let  the  like  association  be  made  by  the  same  authority  in  great  towns,  and  the neighbouring  parishes  in  the  several  counties,  which  are at  the  present  quiet  and undisturbed, to do the like for parts adjacent. 3.  Let  such  as  are  chosen,  or  appointed  for  the  service  of  the  armies  or  navy,  be ordained,  as  aforesaid,  by  the  associated  ministers  of  London,  or  some  others  in  the country. 4.  Let  them  do  the  like,  when  any  man  shall  duly  and  lawfully  be  recommended  to them  for  the  ministry  of  any  congregation,  who  cannot  enjoy  liberty  to have  a  trial  of  his parts  and  abilities,  and  desire  the  help  of  such  ministers  so  associated,  for  the  better
furnishing of them with such a person as by them shall be judged fit for the service of that church and people. _________________________Question 1.—What process should be used for those who have already been ordained in the church of Scotland or some other reformed church? Answer.—In  the  case  of  those  who  have  been  ordained  in  the  church  of  Scotland  or some other reformed church, it is required that: 1.) He bring a sufficient testimonial of his ordination to  the  presbytery,  within  which  the  congregation is  that he intends  to  serve,  1 Cor. 16:3; 2 Cor. 8:4.  2.) He should bring sufficient testimonial of his life and conversation when  he  lived  among  them,  1  Thess.  1:5.    3.)  He  should bring  a  sufficient  testimonial concerning his removal from amongst them, Acts 20:31, 32, 36-38. Furthermore,  he is  to  have  a  trial  as  to  his  fitness  and sufficiency  for the  ministry  set before him, 1 Cor. 1:10.  Likewise, as touching his examination and admission, he shall be proceeded  with  as  one  whose  ordination  is  not  only  valid  but,  being  reformed,  is  also accounted lawful and sound, 1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 2:2. Question 2.—Where and how should records be kept? Answer.—The keeping of books should be done carefully, Neh. 7:64.  These records should contain the following information for the generations to come, Ps. 102:18: 1.) There should  be  a  recording  of  the  names  of  those  ordained, even  as  of  those  born in  Zion  to ministry, Ps. 87:5, 6; Acts 6:5.  2.) There should be a record of testimonials to their life and conversation, Acts 6:3.  3.) It is appropriate that both the time and place of their ordination be  recorded,  Acts  14:23.    4.)  Additionally,  the  noting of  those  presbyters  who  have imposed their hands in each ordination is desirable, Acts 13:1-3.  5.) Finally, a record of the charge to which they were appointed ought to accompany this record, Tit. 1:5. Question 3.—What place ought monetary considerations to have in the matter of ministry? Answer.—Although those who are called to the ministry ought to live by the gospel, 1 Cor. 9:14; yet they are not to be such persons as are characterized by a love of money, 1 Tim. 3:3.  Thus the imposition of money on behalf of those to be ordained, or the attempt to purchase the gift of God with money, is straightly condemned as simony, Acts 8:18-20.  Nor is the presbytery, or any member of the presbytery, to be in receipt of bribes, or any other preferments, whereby their judgment  might be impaired in this matter, Deut. 16:19; because accepting of bribes is a characteristic of the wicked and unbecoming presbyters, Prov. 17:23. Question 4.—What rules are necessary besides those ordinary rules? Answer.—There  are  those rules  which, being  of  a  positive  enactment,  are  to  be  kept ordinarily,  even  as  a  matter  of  moral  obligation,  yet,  when  extraordinary  cases  arise, matters of natural morality may take precedence and even override a moral, but positive, enactment,  Luke  14:5.    Thus,  concerns  for  mercy,  charity  and  necessity  may  take precedence in matters of Sabbath keeping, because Sabbath keeping, though moral, is of positive  enactment  and  not  grounded  in  natural  morality,  Matt.  12:11,  12.    These  rules, being  concerns  both  natural  and  moral,  allow  for  extraordinary  things  to  be  done  when positive enactments fail to protect concerns of mercy and charity, Matt. 12:7, 8. Question  5.—What present realities are cited for proceeding in an extraordinary manner and how is this course to be carried on? Answer.—The divines cite the following reasons: 1.) There are no presbyteries formed up to the whole power and work of presbyteries, particularly with respect to the matter of
ordaining, 1 Tim. 4:14.  Therefore, ordination, which is of divine right, but exists by positive law and enactment, is not to be had, Eph. 4:11, 12.  2.) There is a present necessity that demands  ministers,  Rom.  10:14,  15.    3.)  There  are  public  troubles  which  prevent  the people  from  finding  out  a  minister  for  themselves,  John  10:4,  5.    4.)  There  exists  a difficulty  in  having  trial  made  of  those  who  would  minister,  1  Tim.  5:22.    5.)  It  is exasperated by the fact that there are no presbyteries near and able to help send a fit man to  be  ordained,  Acts  16:9.    6.)  Yet,  there  remained  a  necessity  that  some  minister  and have power to set apart others to the work of the ministry, 1 Cor. 16:15. In  extraordinary  cases,  the  divines  call  for  the  carrying  out  of  the  work:  1.)  By  the forming  of  provisional  presbyteries,  consisting  not  of  those  near  and  of  the  same presbytery, but of those scattered and of different presbyteries, or diverse ordinations, for the  erecting  of  a  presbytery  for  the  purpose  of  ordaining  and  sending  forth  men  to minister, Tit. 1:5; 2 Tim. 4:5.  2.) They are strictly instructed to abide by the ordinary rules as much as the exigence allows, 2 Chron. 30:1-3, 18.  3.) The intent of these provisional presbyteries  was  only  for  the  work  of  ordination  and  no  other,  because  they  had  no organic connection to the people as yet and had no basis for rule, Acts 7:35; Deut. 1:13. Question 6.—Must the extraordinary case apply only with respect to large populations? Answer.—No,  the  provisional  presbytery  may  be  used  to  bring  order  and  regularity (i.e.,  establish  the  basis  for  ordinary  rules)  amongst  smaller  populations  of  professing believers,  Acts  10:1-6,  47,  48.    It  belongs  to the  common  office  of  charity  and  mercy  for separate and diverse congregations to extend help and supply to make up what is lacking in others, 2 Cor. 11:9. Question  7.—Must  a  disorganized  state  prevent  larger  ministry  to  the broader  civil community? Answer.—No,  though  persecution  or  affliction  scatter  the  people  of  God,  the  broader ministry remains to be carried out, Acts 8:4, 5. Question  8.—When  are  provisional  presbyteries  allowed  to  aide  in  making  trial  and ordination of those intending the ministry? Answer.—Whenever   there   are   hindrances   that   might   otherwise   prevent   the continuance  of  a  faithful  ministry,  there  reason  exists,  mercy,  charity  and  necessity,  to form provisional presbyteries for the purpose of carrying out ordination for the safety and comfort of the people of God, Luke 6:1-5.