To the Assembly of Divines
THIS question hath been thus stated in a little book entitled διατριβὴ wherein the judgment of the reformed Churches and Protestant Divines is shewed; concerning Ordination, &c. The negative part is there mentioned, also in the Queries touching the ordination of Ministers, written in opposition to the learned and much approved book entitled, Jus divinum regiminis Ecclesiastici, the same controversy is touched upon frequently with more railing than reason by the furious Erastian who composed the Grallæ against Apollonius and cries out that the world is abused with an empty notion of a pretended sacred Ministerial calling, which may be exercised by none but such as are thereunto called, solemnly set apart, and ordained. This is the same thing which hath been formerly debated by Protestant divines against the Anabaptists and Socinians. See P. Martyr, loc: com: class: 4. cap. 1. Aretius probl: theol: loc: 63. The professors of Leyden, Synops: pur: theol: disp: 42. Walæus in loc: com: tom: 1. pag. 472, 473. Festus Hommius Specim, controv: Belgic. artic: 31. of the Lutherans, Gerhard in loc:com:tom: 6. cap. 3. lib. 1. Balduin de institutione ministrorum, cap: 8. & lib: 4. de cas: consc: cap: 6. Brochmandsynt: theol: artic. de minister, Eccles. cap: 2. quæst: 3. Stegmannus in sphotinianismo disp: 53. The Socinian tenent against the necessity of Ordination, see in Socin: tract: de Eccles: Nicol: and tract: de Eccles. & missione ministi. Yet the Socinians acknowledge it is fit for order, and decency to retain Ordination in the Church. Peradventure many of the Sectaries of this time will hardly acknowledge this much: I shall first of all premise some distinctions and considerations for the better opening of the true state and nature of this controversy. Next I shall bring the positive arguments, and lastly, Answer the contrary objections.
The particulars to be premised are these:
First the question is not whether Ordination be the only thing essential, or necessary to the right calling of a Minister: I have before pleaded for the necessity of the Church’s consent, I now plead for the necessity of ordination; That ought to be no impediment to this, nor this to that.
2. Neither is the question, whether imposition of hands be essential and necessary to the calling of a Minister. Imposition of hands is a rite used in Ordination, after the example of the primitive Churches (of which more anone) but the substance, essence, and formal Act of Ordination is another thing. Therefore not only the Lutheran divines, but Calvin in 1 Tim. 4.14, Junius animad. in Bellar: contr: 5. lib. 1. cap. 3. Bucantis loc: com: loc: 42. Gersomus Bucerus and others distinguish between the act of Ordination and the rite used in that act. M. Antonius de dominis, lib: 2, de repub: Eccles: cap: 3. § 24, & cap: 4. § 13.19. & lib: 3. cap: 5. § 48. Doth also distinguish between the rite or ceremony of laying on of hands, and the essential act of Ordination which he rightly calls missio potestative, a sending of one with power and authority: Which agreeth well with Matt. 10.1; Mark 3.13-15, where we have first the election of the Apostles to their office; He calleth unto him whom he would, and they came unto him, Matthew sayeth, he called unto him his twelve Disciples, Luke 9.1, He called his twelve Disciples together. Here was an antecedaneous election or designation of the persons. Thereafter follows the ordaining or constituting of them in their office και εποιησε saith Mark, and he ordained (or made) twelve that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal, &c. Luke addeth after the calling together of the twelve, that he gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases, and he sent them to preach, &c. Which sets forth the true nature and essence of Ordination, that it consists in a sending forth of chosen persons with power and authority. And this potestative mission of the twelve is applied, not only to power over devils and diseases (which was extraordinary and apostolical) but to power of preaching which belongeth to the ordinary Pastor to call, charge. Pastors and Teachers are Messengers, Job 33.23, and God hath committed unto them the word of reconciliation, 2 Cor. 5.19.
3. Neither is the question, what may be done in extraordinary cases when Ordination cannot be had, or where there are none who have power to ordain. We read that Ædesius and Frumentius being but private men, became Preachers of the Gospel, and converted a great nation of the Indians: Likewise that when the Iberians were converted by a captive woman, their King and Queen became Teachers of the Gospel to the people. There may be an extraordinary calling from God where Religion is not yet planted, nor Churches yet constituted. It is altogether another case in a constituted reformed or reforming Church: I add with Peter Martyr, that even those persons who set about the work of the Ministry extraordinarily or among Infidels, if they can come at any who may ordain them in the usual and right way, they ought not to neglect the seeking of Ordination.
4. Nor is the question of teaching, exhorting, admonishing, reproving, comforting one another, or praying for, or with one another, in the way of a private Christian fellowship, and brotherly love. For this belongs to the general calling of Christians as they are Christians, observing therein the rules of the word, and there is no need nor use of Ordination in all this. But the question is of the particular, special, sacred calling of the Ministers of the Gospel to preach and administer the Sacraments, whether Ordination be not essential and necessary to this calling. The private Christian duties of teaching one another, reproving, exhorting, &c. Are to be conscionably and carefully performed by private Christians, John 4.28,29; Acts 18.26; Eph. 5.19; Col. 3.16; Heb. 3.13. But this the Apostle plainly distinguisheth from the special Ministerial function, 1 Thes. 5.11,14, with verse 12,13. The affirmation of this question in hand, viz. that Ordination is necessary and essential to the calling of a minister, may be confirmed by these arguments.
1. Doth not nature itself teach you: as the Apostle sayeth in another case, Shall the visible political Church of Christ, which is the purest and most perfect Republic in the world, have less order and more confusion in it nor a civil Republic. Ambassadors, Commissioners, Officers of State, Judges, Generals, Admirals, with the subordinate Commanders in Armies and Navies, do not run unsent, nor act without power, authority, and commission given them. How much more unbeseeming, and disorderly were it in the Church, (which Nicolaides himself, even where he disputeth against the necessity of Ordination, Refut: tract: de missione minister, cap: 10, pag. 113. acknowledgeth to be more perfect than any politic Republic in the world) for any man to assume to himself power and authority which is not given him, or which he hath a non habente potestatem, or to intrude himself into any public administration unto which he is not appointed. It was justly complained of, as a great disorder under the Prelates, that Midwives were permitted to baptize upon pretence of a case of necessity, yea that Deacons were permitted to baptize, because the administration of baptism, doth neither belong to Deacons, nor to private persons. But that railing Rabshaketh, the anonymous Erastian before mentioned, goeth so far as to cry down all necessity or Ordination or any special call to the Ministry of the Word and Sacraments, and alloweth any Christian, whether Magistrate or Subject, both to Preach, Baptize, and minister the Lord’s Supper, having no Ordination or special Mission to that effect. ‘Tis a sufficient answer to him, offer it now unto thy governour, will he be pleased with thee? Mal. 1.8. Who will endure such a confusion in a State, that any man may assume publick offices and administrations, not being thereunto called and appointed? And shall the Church (which must go a great deal further than the law and light of nature,) come short of that which nature itself teacheth all human societies? ‘Tis both a natural and a scriptural rule, Let all things be done decently and in order, 1 Cor. 14.40, for God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, Ibid. verse 33. If it were an intolerable usurpation in a man’s own family, if any man should take upon him the steward’s place to dispense meat to the household, not being thereunto appointed. How much more were it an intolerable usurpation in the Church, the house of the living God, for any to make themselves stewards of the mysteries of Christ, not being appointed.
2. I argue from, Rom. 10.15, And how shall they Preach except they be sent? Suppose they be well gifted, yet they may not preach except they be sent and appointed thereunto. This sending must needs be Ordination, not the Church’s Election: a people may choose to themselves, but cannot send to themselves. The choosing of an Ambassador is one thing, the sending him, another thing: The Ambassador nominated and elected by the King, may not go to his work and act as an Ambassador, till he be sent forth with his commission and power delivered to him. There have been several exceptions made, and more may be made against this argument; yet all of them may be rationally taken off.
Exception 1. The Socinians reply, that the Apostle speaketh this of his own time when the doctrine of the Gospel was new, and did therefore require a special mission: But that now Ministers being to Preach no new doctrine, need not such a special call.
Answer. This is not only, not grounded on the Text, but is contrary both to the metaphor and to the context. ‘Tis contrary to the metaphor which the Apostle taketh from the sending of Ambassadors, Heralds, and other publick Ministers. These are sent not only to propound that which was never before propounded, but also ofttimes to revive and renew a thing before propounded and known. If either Ambassador, or Herald run unsent, and go out without his commission and appointment, it will be no excuse to him, that he hath declared no new thing, but what was declared by other Ambassadors, or Heralds before him, for still he may be challenged as one who run unsent, and it may be said to him, By what authority doest thou these things? ‘Tis contrary to the context too, verse 13-15. There are five necessary means and ways which must be had and used by those who look to be saved. (1.) Calling upon the name of the Lord. (2.) Believing on him. (3.) Hearing his word. (4.) A preaching Ministry. (5.) Mission or Ordination. If the first four be perpetually necessary to the end of the world, so must the fifth be, for the Apostle layeth as great necessity upon this last as upon the rest. If none can be saved who do not pray, and none can pray who do not believe, and none can believe who do not hear the word, and none can hear the word without a preaching Ministry, the last followeth hard in the Text, there can be no Ministerial office without a Mission or Ordination. I have before excepted extraordinary cases, where there is yet no Church nor no Ministry: even as the deaf may believe who cannot hear, although the Apostle say, How shall they believe on him of whom they have not heard!
Exception 2. Nicolaides addeth that the Apostle speaks not of what is unlawful to be, but what is impossible to be, namely, it is impossible that any man can preach, that is (saith he) declare a new thing except God send him.
Answer. (1.) If preaching here in this Text must be restricted to the preaching of a new thing, hearing must be also restricted to the hearing of a new thing, and believing to the believing of a new thing, and so they who do not hear and believe some new doctrine, cannot be saved. (2.) It is very possible to preach a new thing, when God hath not sent one to preach it: When the Jesuits first preached their scientia media, they preached a new thing, yet God sent them not. (3.) Let us consider what the Apostle means here by preaching πῶς δέ κηρύξουσιν, saith he, ‘Tis from κήρυξ præco, caduceator. The offices and functions of κηρυκες. H. Stephanus in Thes: L. Gr: tom: 2. pag: 195, 196, describeth out of Homer. They called together the people to the ἔκκλησια or publick Assembly: They enjoined silence, and called for audience and attention: They were sent in time of war to ask leave to bury their dead: They were sent with messages from Princes and great men: They attended Princes and great men to serve them upon occasion: They served also at the sacrifices: They prepared beasts and received the guests: What is there in all this, which in a spiritual and ecclesiastical sense is not competent and incumbent to ordinary Pastors and Teachers as well as to the Apostles? And if we will have the holy Ghost to expound himself, as ordinary Preachers do, κηρὺττειν or κηρὺσσειν, in all ages and all the world over, as well as those who first preached the Gospel, Matt. 24.14; & 26.13; Mark 14.9; & 16.15; Luke 24.47; Phil. 1.15; 1 Tim. 3.16; Rom. 2.21; thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? (4.) I hope κηρυσσων here doth not signify one that preacheth a new thing, 1 Cor. 1.23, It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching (του κηρὺγματος) to save them that believe. Will any who hopes to be saved, deny that this extends to preaching in all ages?
Exception 3. That διατριβὴ before cited, in the second part of it pag. 3,4, sayeth that the sending which the Apostles means of, is not a Ministerial or ecclesiastical sending, for then none could be an instrument to convert another but a Minister or preacher sent. Neither could a man be sure whether he have faith or no, till he be sure his faith was wrought in him by a Minister lawfully called. It remains therefore (saith he) that the Apostle speaks of a providential sending, by giving men gifts, and working with them in their use and exercise.
Answer. (1.) The giving of gifts and pouring out of the spirit of a calling, is plainly distinguished from the mission or sending; yea, in Christ himself who had received the spirit, not by measure, but above measure, yet his having the Spirit of the Lord upon him, was not his Mission, but is plainly distinguished from his Mission and Ordination to his office which he had from God, Luke 4.18, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor, he hath sent me, &c. The δὺναμις or ability of gifts to the office is one thing: the ἐχουσια or authority to it, is another thing. (2.) His first reason to prove that the Apostle speaks not of a Ministerial sending, because thence it would follow that none could convert another but a Minister, he groundeth thus: for ‘tis said, none can believe but by hearing a preacher sent. Now this falls as heavy upon his own Interpretation, for still this will follow, that no man can be converted but a Preacher sent providentially with gifts and assistance; when he shall loose the knot for himself, he shall loose it for us too. (3.) So likewise for his other reason, if the Apostle’s scope be (as he glosseth) to take away doubting from men, he doth by his Interpretation split upon the same rock which he thinks we have run upon, for a man must still doubt whether he hath faith or no, and so whether he shall be saved or no, till he be sure his faith was wrought in him by a Preacher sent providentially with working gifts: now the description which he makes of the providential sending, involveth a man in greater doubting than before, for either it agreeth to false and heretical Teachers the Ministers of Satan, or not. If he sayeth it doth agree to them, and that false seducing Preachers (pretending to be true, sound, and orthodox) are providentially sent with gifts effectual, viz. to deceive in the secret judgment of God, according to Ezek. 14.9; 1 Kings 22.23, then how he will reconcile his interpretation with Isa. 52.7,8, let him see to it. And withall he leads a man upon this opinion, that he may have faith wrought in him, and so be saved under any Ministry, true or false, orthodox or heretical. He must also justify the sin so often condemned in the false prophets, that they run unsent, for (by his principles) they are sent, as well as the true Prophets. If he will say that his description of the providential sending agreeth not to false or heretical Preachers, but to the true Ministers of Christ, then he leads a man into this doubt, that he cannot be sure that he believes and shall be saved, unless he be sure that the Preacher providentially sent to him, is a true Minister of Christ, and not a Minister of Satan transformed into a Minister of righteousness. 2 Cor. 11.15, or a wolf in sheep’s clothing, Matt. 7.15. But, (4.) if this providential sending be enough, it takes away the necessity, not only of Ordination, but of the peoples’ choosing or consenting. It shall be enough that God give a man a gift, and work by them, whether the Church consent or not: yet as I take it, he that makes this objection, holds it necessary, not only that Pastors be chosen by the Church, but that gifted brethren be allowed by the Church to prophesy, else that they must not prophesy.
5. His objections doth strike against that connexion and concatenation of the means of salvation, which the Apostle holdeth forth, and there is no more strength in that which he objecteth, than as if one should argue, the deaf may believe, therefore faith may be without hearing. Look how hearing is necessary, in the same sense, is Preaching, and the sending of the Preacher necessary. Neither doth it make any thing against our sense of the Text, that some may be converted, by those who are not Ministers, for tho Preaching of the word by those that are sent to the Ministry of preaching, is the standing Ordinance and ordinary mean of conversion and faith by this Text: and even those who perhaps have been first wrought upon by prayer or conference with other Christians, are hearers of those who are Ministerially sent: it will be hard to prove that any believe, who can hear the word preached by Ministers lawfully called and sent, and do not hear it.
Exception 4. That Erastian before cited, the Composer of the Grallæ, expoundeth (as I remember) this text of an extraordinary mission or calling from God, not an ordinary mission from men: denying the Pastors of Churches and Ministers of the Gospel in our days to be sent of God and that although the Apostles might shew their Mission and Commission from Christ, yet ordinary Ministers cannot do it: Therefore this sending belongeth not to the ordinary Ministers.
Answer. 1. This text doth certainly hold forth the necessity of an ordinary and mediate Mission, when the extraordinary and immediate Mission is ceased, which I prove thus: If a preaching Ministry be a perpetual and standing ordinance, then Mission is a perpetual and standing ordinance: But a preaching Ministry is a perpetual and standing ordinance, therefore so is Mission. The proposition is manifest, both from the knitting together of the parts of this Text, in which the Apostle screweth up the necessity of Mission as high as the necessity of preaching: As likewise from Matth. 28.19,20, which doth not only prove a perpetual Ministry in the Church always even unto the end of the world, but also that this perpetual Ministry is authorized by Mission or Commission from Christ. For reference to this perpetual Ministry, Christ saith, Go, teach and baptize, and lo I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world: So that whoever doth lawfully exercise the office of teaching and baptizing, is certainly sent: he cannot be immediately and extraordinarily in the reformed Churches, therefore it must be in a mediate and ordinary way. The Assumption is before proved.
2. As the preaching so the sending is common to ordinary Ministers with the Apostles. If ordinary Ministers be Preachers ex officio, as well as the Apostles, which hath been before proved, then ordinary Ministers are sent as well as the Apostles, for how shall they preach except they be sent, and how shall they be sent in our days, except in a mediate and ordinary way, by those unto whom the power of Ordination belongeth?
Exception 5: But if this Text, Rom. 10.15, be expounded of Ordination, then expectants or probationaries may not preach, because not yet ordained.
Answer. 1. They neither preach ordinarily, nor ex officio. They Preach occasionally, and without a Pastoral or Ministerial office.
2. Neither may these sons of the Prophets run to such occasional work, without approbation and license, for which cause the Directory of worship established in both Kingdoms, puts in this caution, that such as intend the Ministry, may occasionally both read the Scriptures, and exercise gifts in Preaching in the Congregations, being allowed thereunto by the Presbytery. And so the Text will hold true in all cases, extraordinary Preachers, Apostles, Evangelists, Prophets, must have an extraordinary Mission. Ordinary Pastors and Teachers, must have a Mission with power and authority to that effect. Probationers, and occasional Preachers must have a proportionable kind of Mission, that is, not to the Pastoral office, but to preach upon occasion.
The third argument shall be taken from that κατὰστασις that constituting, appointing or making of Church officers which is plainly held forth in Scripture. The seven Deacons being elected by the multitude of the Disciples, were appointed, set and constituted over that business by the Apostles, Acts 6.3. Pastors and Teachers have much more need to be appointed to their office, and for them let us note two Scriptures, one is Luke 12.42, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his Lord shall make [καταστησει] ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Grotius upon the place noteth, that the former parable concerning watching is intended for all Christians, so Mark 13.37, but this of stewards belongs to the Pastors of Churches, for ‘tis upon occasion of Peter’s question concerning the former parable, (Lord speakest thou this parable unto us, or even unto all?) Christ answers by this parable of stewards, appointed or ordained over the household, whom he distinguisheth from other servants by their ruling power, verse 42, by their greater knowledge, and consequently greater guiltiness, if wicked, verse 47, and by the greater trust committed to them, verse 48. Now lest it should be thought, that his making or appointing of stewards over the household of Christ, is only meant of the Apostles, as it were of purpose to discover the vanity of that Socinian error, ‘tis said, verse 43, Blessed is that servant whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Till Christ come again, and at his coming, there shall be stewards appointed and set over his house: Which cannot be without the mediate and ordinary way of making, appointing, and ordaining. The Bishops or Elders, as well as Apostles are the stewards of God, Titus 1.7. And so I come to the other Scripture concerning those teaching and ruling officers. The Apostle left Titus at Crete that he might ordain Elders in every city, verse 5. The διατριβὴ mentioned in the beginning, replyeth to this Text, that καταστὴσης signifieth to fix, settle, establish one who was in office before as appears by Psalm 2.6. See now with how little reason this man oppugneth the received principles. The Septuagint (sayeth he) readeth, Psalm 2.6, thus: ἐγώ δὲ κατεστὰθην Βασιλεὺς ἐπὶ σὶων, but David was a King many years before he took in the hill and fort of Zion. I shall not stand here upon this erroneous transcribing of the words of the Septuagints: I might tell him again that Symmachus readeth καγὼ εχρισα, τον Βασιλεα μου. I have anointed my King, having respect to the very first making him King, and this is the nearest rendering of the Original. But I will stand to that of the Septuagints: even their reading (without the least violence to their words) may be understood, not of the settling of David after he took in the fort of Zion, but of God’s appointing and ordaining him to rule in, upon, or over Zion, which I do not doubt was their meaning, neither doth the prepositions epi at all hinder, but help this Interpretation of the Septuagint. See the like, Matt. 25.21, ἐπὶ πολλῶν σε καταστήσω. This is not the fixing and settling of that good servant in that ruling power, but ‘tis the first giving of it to him, the first making him ruler over many things, having before had but a few things, Luke 12.44, ἐπὶ πᾶσι τοἴς ὑπάρχουσιν αὐτοῦ καταστήσει αὐτὸν. So Isocrates, Κατιστἀναι ἐπὶ τὰς ἀρχάς. I may confute him from the Septuagint themselves, Psalm 8.6, Κατέστησας αὐτον ἐπὶ τὰ ἔργα. Dan. 1.11, on ὄν κατέστησεν ὁ ἄρχιετοῦχος ἐπὶ, &c. Will he say that the Septuagint meant that God settled and fixed the dominion which man had before over the creatures, or that the Prince of the Eunuchs did but settle and fix that government which Melzar had before over Daniel? If they mean in those places constituting and appointing (as it is most manifest they do) why not also Psalm 2.6? God appointed David to be a King upon the holy hill of Zion, which is all that can be made out of the Septuagint. Well, but I will go yet further with him, to discover the futility of his exception: ‘Tis true Καθιστημι or Καθίσαμαι is sometime used for restoring and settling that which is out of it’s course, but how did he imagine that this sense of the word could agree to Titus 1.5? Thought he that Titus was left in Crete, for restoring, settling, and fixing those Elders who had left their station, or had been cast out, or persecuted, or the like? Doth not the Apostle plainly speak of supplying and making up such things as were yet wanting to those Churches, and of ordaining Elders to Churches which wanted Elders. Wherefore the ordinary reading and interpretation is retained. Καθιστάναι πρεσβυτέρους, is to be understood of making, or ordaining Elders, even as Καθιστὰναι τας ἀρχὰς or ἐπὰρχους, Καθιστὰναι δικαστὰς and the like, constituere, præficere, to make or appoint rulers and judges, by giving them power and authority to rule or judge. So Acts 7.10, Κατέστησεν αὐτὸν ἠγούνον ἐπὶ Αἴγυπτον , which was not a settling and fixing of Joseph; in the government of Egypt, as if he had been governour of it before, for that was the first time he was made governour.
The fourth argument is taken from Heb. 5.4, And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God as was Aaron. If ye would know what this calling was, see verse 1. He was taken from among men, and ordained for men, in things pertaining to God. The Socinian exception against our arguments, from the example and practice of Ordination in the Apostles’ times, (namely that there is no such necessity of ordaining those who are to teach Doctrines formerly delivered, and received, as there was, for ordaining those who bring a new Doctrine) cannot here help them; yea, is hereby confuted, for none of the Priests under the law, no not the high Priest, might teach or pronounce any other thing, but according to the Law and the Testimony, Deut. 17.11; Mal. 2.7. Yet the Priests were ordained to their office, and might not without such Ordination enter into it. And this was no typical thing proper to the old Testament, but hath a standing reason. The Socinians therefore have another evasion from the words, this honour restricting the Apostle’s meaning, to that honour of the Priesthood only. Answer. (1.) The words τὴν τιμὴν need not to be understood demonstratively, or signanter, but indefinitely, τὶμὴν with the prepositive Article, and so both the Syriak Interpreter: Hierome, Arias Montanus, and the Tigurin version read it indefinitely, honorem, not hunc honorem, No man taketh honour unto himself, but he, &c. See the very same words in the same sense, Rom. 13, τῶ τήν τιμὴν, τήν τιμὴν, honour to whom honour, not this honour. So τήν τιμὴν, Revel. 21.26, is not rendered, this honour. (2.) Suppose it be meant signanter, yet our argument is valid.
Although the Apostle give instance only in the high Priesthood, yet by analogy of reason, the Axiom will hold in reference to the Ministry of the new Testament, upon which God hath put so much honour, that it is called a worthy work, 1 Tim. 3.1, and worthy of double honour. 1 Tim. 5.17, and to be esteemed very highly, 1 Thess. 5.17. The Ministers of the Gospel are the Embassadours of Christ, 2 Cor. 5.20, and the Angels of the Churches, the stars in Christ’s right hand, Revel. 1.20; 2.1, &c. yea, the glory of Christ, 2 Cor. 8.23. And if (comparing state with state) the least in the kingdom of God, be greater than John Baptist, and John Baptist greater than any either Priest or Prophet in the old Testament; Than it’s not only as great, but a greater usurpation, for a man to take this honour of the Evangelical Ministry to himself, than it had been of old, for a man to take that honour of the legal high Priesthood to himself.
The fifth argument I draw from Heb. 6.1,2, Where we have an enumeration of the general Catechetical heads, which was necessarily required in Catechumens, before they were baptized and received as Church Members, and where there was yet no Church planted, these heads were taught, learned, and professed, before there could be a visible political Ministerial Church erected. That the Apostles speak to the Hebrews as visible Ministerial Churches is manifest, both from the particulars here enumerated, and from Chapter 5, verses 12,13; & 13.7,17. Now he exhorteth them to go on unto perfection, and not to be [for]ever about the laying of foundations, or about the learning of these Catechetical principles, the knowledge and profession whereof did first give them an entrance, state, and standing in the visible Church of Christ, viz.
(1.) The foundation of repentance, i.e. Conviction and knowledge of sin by the law, humiliation and sorrow for it, with a desire of freedom for it. (2.) The foundation of faith in Christ for our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. (3.) The foundations of Baptism, i.e. The abolishing of these divers legal washings, Heb. 9.10, and the ordinance of the Christian baptism for sealing the Covenant of grace, and for initiation in Church membership: Others say he speaks in the plural, because in those times many were baptized at once usually. (4.) The foundation of laying on of hands, that is (saith Bullinger on the place) of the Ministry, and of their Vocation, Mission, and authority given them. So also Gualther in his Archetypes upon the place, Tossanus pointeth at the same thing, as principally intended in the Text, Which agreeth well with that which divers Divines make one of the marks of a true visible Church, namely, a Ministry lawfully called and ordained, and professed subjection thereunto. (5.) The foundation of the resurrection from the dead. (6.) The foundation of the last judgment, in which Christ shall adjudge the righteous to life everlasting, and the wicked to everlasting punishment, Matth. 25.46.
That which hath obscured and cast a mist upon this Text, was the Popish and prelatical confirmation, or Bishopping of children, which they grounded upon this same Scripture. And this way go the Popish interpreters, expounding it of their Sacrament of confirmation: Others understand the gifts of the holy Ghost, which in those days were given by laying on of hands. But it hath never been, nor can never be proved, either that hands were laid upon all baptized Christians who were grown up to years of knowledge in these Apostolical times, or that the gifts of the holy Ghost were given with every laying on of hands in those times. For the laying on of hands, (1 Tim. 4.14; and 5.22.) was not for giving the holy Ghost, but for Ordination. Wherefore I conceive that the laying on of hands, Heb. 6.2, Pointeth at the Ministry, and their Ordination, which was accompanied with that rite. Many interpreters who extend the Text further, do not yet acknowledge that the Ordination of Ministers is a thing intended by the Apostle. Which is the more probable, if you read βαπτισμῶν διδαχῆς dividedly with a comma betwixt, which Erasmus inclineth most unto, following the Greek Scholiasts. So the Tigurin version, baptismatum, doctrina, ac impositionis manum. So you shall find seven of these catechetical principals, and after baptism, add doctrine, that is, a preaching or teaching Ministry, and then the next head contains the necessity of a special calling and Ordination to this Ministry. However read it conjunctly or dividedly, it makes a true and good sense to expound, laying on of hands (here) of the ordinance of a preaching Ministry lawfully called and ordained, for this ordinance and a professed subjection thereunto, may justly be reckoned among the catechetical points, and among the marks of a true visible Ministerial Church. Whereas it were a dangerous and unsafe interpretation, and I believe that which cannot be made out, to say, that any of the catechetical heads enumerate by the Apostle, was proper to that primitive age, and doth not concern after ages: or yet to affirm that the giving of the holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, was extended to all Catechumens baptized in those times, or that the knowledge or profession of the Doctrine concerning the giving of the gifts of the holy Ghost, by such laying on of hands was such a principle, as that none ignorant thereof, though instructed in all the other Articles of Christian faith, could be received as a Church-member grounded in catechetical points.
I shall add a sixth argument from the example and practice of the Apostles and others who did ordain Church officers in their days, the example is binding in such things as were not only lawful and good, but have a standing and perpetual reason. The seven Deacons were ordained with prayer and laying on of hands, Acts 6.3,6. Elders were ordained in every city, Titus 1.5, although those Elders were not to preach any new Gospel, Gal. 1.8, Paul warneth Timothy, 1 Tim. 5.22, lay hands suddenly on no man, i.e. be not rash in ordaining any to the work of the Ministry, let them be well examined and approved. This is the received sense of Interpreters following Chrysostom, Ambrose, Hierome, and others of the Fathers, yet Nicolaides Refut. tract. de missione Ministr. will have the Text understood, not of ordaining Ministers, but of admitting penitents, which was done with imposition of hands. But is this to expound Scripture by Scripture? or is it not rather to forsake an Interpretation confirmed by Scripture, and to follow one which is grounded upon no Scripture? For we read nothing in Scripture of laying on of hands in the receiving or restoring of penitents. Of the laying on of hands in Ordination, we do read in Scripture, and lest it should be thought the act of one man only, it is mentioned as the act of the Presbytery, 1 Tim. 4.14, with the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery. A place which Gualther, Bullinger, Tossanus, and divers other good Interpreters think to hold forth the way which Paul would have observed in the calling and appointing of men to the Ministry: Some understand by πρεσβυτεριον, the office itself; dignity or degree of an Elder which was given to Timothy by the laying on of hands: Others understand a company of Bishops who were Elders and more too: I confess it doth not; others an Assembly of Elders, without any prelatical disparity. Now neither of these Interpretations can strike against that point which now I plead for, viz. The point of Ordination, but rather make much for it, yea even they who understand the office of a Presbyter, do thereby confirm that which I assert in as much as Timothy was not made an Elder, but by imposition of hands, as these hold. If so, then certainly Ordination is essential to the calling of a Presbyter. So that whatever come of the word Presbytery, the laying on of hands which made the Presbyter, will conclude against them who deny the necessity of Ordination.
The seventh argument shall be drawn from the denominations of the Ministers of the Gospel in Scripture. (1.) They are called Pastors or Shepherds, Jer. 3.15; Eph. 4.11. He that is not called and appointed by the Lord of the flock, he that entereth not by the door, but breaks in surreptitiously, and makes himself shepherd at his own hand, is not a shepherd but a thief, John 10.9,10. (2.) Next they are Angels or messengers, Matt. 23.24; Rev. 1.20; and 2 Cor. 8.23, with 2.1, and the Embassadours of Christ, 2 Cor. 5.20; Eph. 6.20. Therefore they are sent and appointed, and do not run unsent.
(3.) They are called Rulers, προεστῶτες, 1 Tim. 5.17, προισταμενοι, 1 Thes. 5.12; ἠγοὺμνοι, Heb. 13.7,17, do men make themselves Rulers, Magistrates, Captains at their own hand, or are they not thereunto appointed by others?
(4.) They are called Bishops, or overseers, Acts 20.28; 1 Tim. 3.1. The Athenians give the name ἐπίσκοπος to one whom they appointed, ordained, and sent forth to be Magistrate or Prætor in any of the Towns, subject to their jurisdiction. See H. Steph. thes: ling. Gr: in the word ἐπίσκοπος?
(5.) They are οἰκονομοι, stewards, Luke 12.42; 1 Cor. 4.1; Titus 1.7. Who dare make himself a steward in a King’s house; yea, or in a more private house, not being thereunto appointed and ordained?
(6.) They are servants who invite and call in guests to the wedding, to the marriage supper, Matt. 22.3; Luke 14.17. Will any (except a fool, or a knave,) go and invite guests to a man’s Table, when he is not sent nor appointed?
(7.) They are κὴρυκες, Preachers, Heralds, 1 Tim. 2.7, and 2 Tim. 1.11. Will a Herald go and proclaim the King’s Edicts, or the ordinances of Parliament, if he be not thereunto appointed? In both these Texts last cited, the Apostle speaking of the Gospel, sayeth, Whereunto I am ordained a Preacher, and an Apostle, and a Teacher of the Gentiles. Mark, he is ordained not an Apostle, but a Preacher, as he could not be an Apostle without Ordination, so he could not be so much as κήρυξ, a Preacher, without Ordination. Now ordinary Pastors are κὴρυκες as well as the Apostles which hath been before shewed.
An eighth argument I collect from 2 Tim. 2.2, And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Which is a most considerable place against the Socinians, Anabaptists, &c. For it Teacheth us these five particulars: (1.) That the Apostles would not have a teaching or preaching Ministry to end with that time, but was careful to have Pastors or Teachers provided for the succeeding generation also. (2.) Teachers of others who were to labour in the word and doctrine, were to teach no new doctrine, but the very same things which they received from Timothy, and Timothy from Paul, and which Paul received from the LORD. It was in sense no new doctrine, when it is taught by Paul, much less when taught by Timothy, and least of all when taught by these who received it from Timothy. So that the Socinian distinction of the necessity of a special calling to the Ministry when the doctrine is new, not so when the doctrine is not new, cannot here help them. (3.) Teachers are distinguished from those who are taught: Every man may not be a Teacher. It is a peculiar and particular calling, and it is no part of the general calling of Christians: Therefore both here, and Galatians 6.6, there is such a distinction in the Church, some are Teachers, some are taught in the Word. (4.) Fitness and abilities; yea, both grace and gifts together, cannot warrant a man to assume to himself the function of Teaching or Preaching to others, except he be thereunto allowed, and appointed, and entrusted. The Apostle sayeth not, the things that thou heard of me, the same I will that faithful and able men, who ever shall be willing to the work, teach others also, faithfulness, and fitness, or ability cannot make a sufficient calling, but qualify a man for that which he shall be called unto. Aptitude is one thing: to be clothed with a calling, power, and authority is another thing. (5.) There is more that belongs to the calling of Pastors and Teachers, than the Church’s electing, or choosing of them: for those unto whom the power of Ordination belongeth, do also commit unto them that which they are entrusted with, the same commit thou, &c. παράθου. ‘Tis from παρατίθημι, which (as H. Stephanus in Thes: ling: Gr: tom. 3, page 1505, noteth) not seldom in the new Testament doth signify, depositum alicujus fidei committere, fiduciarium tradere alicui, where he citeth this very Text, and I shall clear it yet further from Luke 12.48, and unto whom men have committed much, καὶ ὧ παρέθεντο πολὺ, of him they will ask the more, which is the conclusion of the parable concerning a faithful and wise steward, appointed by his Lord to be ruler over his household; to give them their portion of meat in due season, and that Parable is meant of Pastors or Ministers lawfully called and sent, as hath been before cleared.
Ninthly, as we are obliged by our Covenant to endeavour such a Reformation, as is most agreeable to the word of God, and the Example of the best reformed Churches, so in this particular of Ordination, and a special call and setting apart of men to the Ministry, we have not only the example of the ancient and reformed Churches, but the word of God itself directeth us this way. (1.) Before the law when the firstborn in families (not all promiscuously) acted the part of Priests or publick Ministers. Whereof there are some express examples in Enoch a Prophet, Gen. 5.24; Jude 14; Noah, Heb. 11.7, by whom God preached to the old world, 2 Pet. 2.5, and so are we to understand Gen. 6.3, Abraham a Prophet, Gen. 20.7, Melchisedeck the Priest of the most high GOD, is thought by many learned men (following both Jonathan’s Targum, and that of Jerusalem) to have been Shem, the firstborn of Noah: of Jacob also (who got the birth-right from Esau) we read that he built Altars, and called upon the name of the Lord, and he was a Prophet, Gen. 49. And it is often mentioned by Moses, that the sons of Aaron were taken instead of the firstborn. (2.) Under the Law, when not only the Prophets, but the Priests also who were ordinary Ministers, had a special Ordination to their office. (3.) Under the Gospel in the primitive times, for the Socinians themselves do not deny that Ordination or special Mission was used in the Apostles’ times.
Tenthly, and lastly without a clear calling, and lawful Ordination, how shall people receive the word from the mouths of Ministers, as God’s word, or as from those who are sent of God? Or how shall people reverence and highly esteem their Ministers who labour among them, obey them, and submit unto them, as they are commanded, 1 Thess. 5.12,13; Heb. 13.17? And since he that is taught ought to communicate unto him that teacheth him, in all good things, Gal. 6.6, and God will have those who labour in the Word and Doctrine to be maintained, and that they who sow spiritual things, reap temporal things, 1 Cor. 9.7,9,11,13; 1 Tim. 5.18. Yea, the Apostle puts the stamp of a Jus divinum upon it, 1 Cor. 9.13,14, having mentioned the Priest’s maintenance in the old testament, he addeth: Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the Gospel, should live of the Gospel. So that Socinians and Anabaptists will find themselves puzzled mightily with this dilemma, either it is the will of God, that none preach the Gospel, but such as are called, appointed, and ordained thereunto, or otherwise it is his will, that those who preach the Gospel, not being thereunto chosen, called, and ordained, must be maintained as well as Ministers lawfully ordained and called, and if so, its like enough People shall have good store of Preachers, and their purses shall pay well for it.