To the Assembly of Divines
I COME now to answer the strongest objections of those who hold Ordination not necessary, nor essential to the calling of a Minister.
Objection 1. From Acts 8.4, They that were scattered abroad, went everywhere preaching the Word. So Acts 11.19, Apollos also taught boldly in the Synagogues, Acts 18.25,26, yet no word of their Mission or Ordination. The Jews esteemed Christ himself but a private man, not ordained nor authorized to any office in the Church, yet they permitted him to preach in their Synagogues. Answer. (1.) Those that after Stephen’s death, were scattered abroad, and preached the Word, must needs have been called, sent, and ordained (by the principles of the Socinians themselves,) for the Doctrine which they preached, was a new Doctrine, both to Samaria, Acts 8.5, and to those dispersed Jews, Acts 11.19. Themselves confess, that they who preach a new Doctrine, must have a special Mission and Ordination. (2.) Philip was one of those who went abroad preaching the Word, Acts 8.45. Now he is expressly called an Evangelist, Acts 8.8, therefore no precedent for private Christians to preach. (3.) It is a bad argument, Luke mentioneth, not their Ordination, therefore they were not ordained. They may as well argue thus: Luke mentioneth not that they prayed when they preached, therefore they did not pray when they preached. Or thus: The Scripture mentioneth not Joab’s father, but only his mother Zeruiah, therefore he had not a father. (4.) And suppose they preached the Word without Mission or Ordination, this is but like that which Chrysostom, lib. ad eos qui scandalisati sunt, cap. 19, recordeth as a marvelous extraordinary benefit, which did accrue from the bloody persecutions of those ancient times, viz. That in such times, the sheep acted the parts of shepherds, being driven away to deserts and mountains, where (by the Spirit of God speaking in them) they converted unbelievers, and gathered Churches: Which concludeth nothing against the necessity of Ordination, in constituted and reformed Churches, for they who were scattered abroad, being driven away in the heat of persecution, might not have the opportunity of Ordination, and they went forth to gather Christians to plant Churches, to lay foundations where Christ was not known. Such cases were in the beginning excepted from the state of our present question. (5.) If Apollos preached without Ordination, when he knew only the baptism of John, and withal when he had to do with those Jews, who were yet to be convinced that Jesus was the Christ, Acts 18.25,26,28, It is no good argument against the necessity of Ordination, where the doctrine of Christ is known and received, and Churches constituted. And withal how will it be proved, that Apollos having been one of John’s Disciples, had not some commission from John to preach the Word? Or if Apollos was but a gifted brother without any publick calling or authority in the Church, how came he to be so much esteemed, as to be compared with Peter and Paul, 1 Cor. 1.12. Lastly as touching Christ’s preaching in the Synagogues, he was looked upon as a Prophet extraordinarily raised up in Israel, Luke 4.15,16,24, and the Jews say of him plainly, a great Prophet is risen up among us, Luke 7.16. Josephus his testimony given to Christ, as a great Prophet, is known.
Objection 2. The Church doth χειροτονεῖν, by their voices in Election, make, create, constitute or ordain Elders, Acts 14.23, therefore Elders need no other Ordination, but are sufficiently ordained or made by the Church, if elected, and receive their power from the people. See this Objection prosecuted in the διατριβὴ, pag. 9-11. And in the Queries touching Ordination, page 33, tom. 37.
Answer 1. There is no cogent reason brought by these men, why χειροτονὴσαντες, if rendered thus as they would have it, when they had by voices ordained, must be therefore understood of Ordination by the people, and not by Paul and Barnabas, for as I have before noted out of Calvin: Instit., lib. 4, cap. 3, § 15. The sense may be thus, Paul and Barnabas did make and ordain Elders according to the voices of the Churches themselves, that is, they ordained such as the Church desired. If so, they are double losers by this their Objection.
2. If χειροτονὴσαντες be meant of the Church’s Act, then it is not ordaining, but choosing by voices. The χειροτονιὰ ought not to hinder the χειροθεσιὰ. Election with the Church’s consent, and Ordination are both of them necessary, not inconsistent. In Athens itself, although the people did χειροτονεῖν, choose by voices their Magistrates or Rulers, yet the persons so elected were not ordained, and solemnly set apart, appointed and authorized by the people, but by the Judges called ἡλιασταὶ, of whom Demosthenes, orat. advers: Timocr: tells us that they did καθιστὰναι ἀρχὴν for the ἡλιασταὶ, took an oath to be faithful in their constituting or ordaining of Magistrates.
3. In Scripture we find Election and Ordination frequently distinguished, not only as distinct acts, but ofttimes in distinct hands, Deut. 1.13, Moses said unto all Israel, Take ye wise men and understanding, and known among your Tribes, and I will make them Rulers over you. The people choose them who shall be Rulers, but Moses makes them Rulers, Acts 6.3, Wherefore brethren look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. The people choose, the Apostles appoint the Deacons.
4. The choosing of a person to an office, is not the authorizing of the person elected, but the designation of the person to be authorized. ‘Tis here with a person chosen, as with a thing chosen: Ezra was to choose, and to design, when, and how much silver, wheat, wine, oil, should be taken for the House of the Lord, not exceeding the proportion of an hundredth, but the power and authority by which these things were given forth by the Treasurers, to be applied to such uses, was from the decree of Artaxerxes, Ezra 7.21,22. So Esther chose what to make request for, but the thing was to be performed by authority of the King, Esther 5.3,6. So a man may be chosen to an office by some, and authorized to act in that office by others. How many subordinate offices, (civil and military) are there, in which men act by the power and authority, derived from the ordinances of Parliament, although not nominated and chosen by the Parliament; but by others, entrusted by the Parliament to choose.
5. Even where Election and Mission, are in the same hands, yet they are not confounded, but are looked upon as two distinct acts: Christ first chose the twelve, and pitched upon such as he would, and then ordained them, and sent them forth, Mark 3.13,14. The Synod of the Apostles and Elders first chose, and then sent Judas and Silas, Acts 15.22,25. Where you may observe also by the way, that the Mission of a man to the Ministry, or Pastoral charge of a Congregation, doth not belong to the people who choose him, they cannot send him to themselves. When Election and Mission are in the same hands, ’tis in such cases as these two last cited, when men are sent abroad to others, then indeed they who choose them, may also send them: but when they are sent to those who choose them, then they are sent by others, a Minister is sent to the Congregation, therefore he is not sent by the Congregation, and so that place, Romans 10.15, How shall they preach except they be sent? cannot be understood of the people’s Election, but of Ordination, or Mission from the Presbytery appointed to ordain.
6. The same Apostolical Pattern which holds forth unto us the choosing of Elders in every Church, Acts 14.23, doth also hold forth unto us the ordaining of Elders in every City, Titus 1.5, and these acts in different hands, therefore not the same; yea, as many conceive in that same Text, Acts 14.23, beside the Election by voices, there is a distinct Ordination expressed under the adjuncts thereof, prayer, and fasting.
Objection 3. The Apostle saith, 1 Cor. 14.26, When ye come together every one of you hath a Psalm, hath a Doctrine, hath a Tongue, hath a Revelation, hath an Interpretation, verse 13, ye may all prophesy one by one. Therefore all that preach or prophesy, need not to be ordained.
Answer. What those Prophets were, and what is meant by prophesying there, all are not of one opinion. I hold that these Prophets were immediately and extraordinarily inspired, and I reckon them among these other administrations, which were not ordinary, or ever to continue in the Church, Apostles, Evangelists, Workers of miracles. But of this I am to speak distinctly, and by itself afterwards. Meanwhile, they that make the Objection, must prove two things, else they conclude nothing against the necessity of Ordination. (1.) That these Prophets were not sent and ordained, but that their gifts and parts, gave them a sufficient calling to interpret in the Church. (2.) That although they had no Ministerial sending, or vocation, yet they were not extraordinary Prophets, but that such Prophets are to continue ordinarily in the Church. I believe it will trouble them to prove either.
Objection 4. ‘Tis said of the house of Stephanus, 1 Cor. 16.15, They have addicted (or ordained) themselves to the Ministry of the Saints, εἰς διακονίαν τοῖς ἁγίοις ἔταξαν ἑαυτούς. They were not ordained by others, but they ordained themselves.
Answer. (1.) This may well be understood (as ’tis by divers) of their devoting themselves to Minister to the necessities of the Saints, by their works and labour of Love. Which is elsewhere called, Ministering to the Saints, διακονίας εἰς τοὺς ἁγίους, 2 Cor. 8.4. Yea, ’tis called ἡ διακονία τῆς λειτουργίας, 2 Cor. 9.12, the administration of service. See also, Ibid. verse 13, and Romans 15.31, where διακονία alone is used in the same sense. (2.) Others give this sense, that they did willingly and zealously desire to do service to Christ in the Ministry of the Gospel, according as they should find a calling. In which sense, if a man desire the office of a Bishop, he desireth a good work, 1 Tim. 3.1. So Isa. 6.8, Here am I, send me. He is very willing to the work, yet he dare not run, except he be sent, and get a commission.
Objection 5. He that digged in the earth, and hid his talent, is condemned for it, Matt. 25.25,30. Therefore he that hath gifts for preaching, and administering the Sacraments, cannot answer it to God, except he improve and use those gifts.
Answer. (1.) If that Parable be applied to Ministerial talents, then it will prove, not only a perpetual Ministry, because the Lord saith to his servants, Occupy till I come, Luke 19.13, But likewise, that none ought to intrude themselves into that holy function, except they have a calling as well as gifts, for Matt. 25.14,15, that Lord called his own servants (Luke saith, he called his ten servants) and delivered unto them his goods: and unto one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to every one according to his several ability: Where we have a distinction of the calling and ability, suppose another man had been able enough, yet if he be none of the called ones, that Parable cannot be applied to him. (2.) This Objection may be made in the behalf of women also; many of whom receive excellent gifts from God, yea, it was foretold by Joel, and applied by Peter: that women as well as men should Prophesy, Acts 2.7,8, Which being misunderstood, gave some colour to the old Pepuzian Heresy.
Objection 6. If we hold Ordination necessary, and essential to the calling of a Minister, we bring ourselves into this snare, that either the Ministers in the reformed Churches, are not true Ministers, but falsely pretended to be so, or otherwise we must hold that those in the Church of Rome, from whom the Protestant Ministers, in the beginning of the Reformation, had their Ordination, were true Ministers of Christ. For if those in the Church of Rome who did ordain, were not true Ministers of Christ, then they had no commission from Christ to make Ministers for him. And who can bring a clean thing out of that which is unclean: If so, then the Protestant Ministers, who first ordained other Protestant Ministers (from whom Ordination hath come to us downwards) having no Ordination, but what they received in the Church of Rome, they had not power to ordain others with such an Ordination, as hath a divine stamp and character upon it.
This argument is much insisted upon by the Author of the Queries touching Ordination: If it can do any thing, yet it is no new light, but the very same which hath been formerly objected by Papists, and answered by Protestant writers. Whereof see one instance in Gerhard, loc: com: tom: 6, de Minist: Eccles: § 157.
And now that those who drive so furiously after this Popish argument, may forever be ashamed of it: I return these answers. (1.) By retortion, the argument will conclude as much against the Baptism, and Church estate of Independents, Anabaptists, and whoever they be that make any use of this way of arguing against us. For by this argument, those who first gathered their Churches, baptized, and incorporated them into the body of Christ, were not only no true Ministers, but no true Church-members, having no other baptism, but what was received, either in the Church of Rome, or from those who were baptized in the Church of Rome: But who can bring a clean thing, out of that which is unclean. Where note by the way, that this argument of theirs, will also make the Scripture itself unclean now, because we have it out of an unclean thing, (the Church of Rome): so that all that will stand to this argument, must unchurch, unbaptize, unchristen, themselves: If they will have their recourse to that promise, where two or three are met together, there am I in the midst of them, and think to lay the foundation of their Churches there, without any derivation from the Church of Rome, they must allow us to do so too, but then they must pass from their argument. What will they say then? Either, there can be in our days a true Church with all the ordinances of Christ in it, independent upon the Church of Rome, and without building or leaning upon a lineal succession, or derivation from the Church of Rome or there cannot. If they hold the affirmative, their argument is not worth a straw, for Ordination being one of the ordinances of Christ (which is here to be supposed, and hath been in the precedent Chapter proved) the reformed Churches had power to set it up, and restore it by virtue of Christ's own institution. If the Negative, our Opposites, must all turn Seekers, their Churches are no Churches, their Baptism no Baptism, &c. (2.) Suppose those protestant Ministers, who first ordained other Ministers, were themselves ordained by such as had no power to ordain them. Nay suppose the first reforming Ministers, to have been at the beginning of the Reformation, no Ministers, but private Persons, not pretending to be ordained. What will they conclude from this? It proves nothing against that which we hold concerning the necessity of Ordination: For we plainly say, that in extraordinary cases when Ordination cannot be had, and when there are none who have commission and authority from Christ to ordain, then, and there, an inward call from God enlarging the heart, stirring up, and assisting with the good will and consent of a people whom God makes willing, can make a Minister authorized to Ministerial acts. Suppose this to have been the case at the first coming out from Popery, yet here was a seed for more Churches, and more Ministers. At the first plantation of Churches, Ordination may be wanting without making void the Ministry, because Ordination cannot be had, but in constituted Churches, the want of Ordination doth make a Minister no Minister. (3.) Touching the Church of Rome; I answer as a learned country man of mine answered near 70 years ago. Although it was a Church miserably corrupted and defaced, yet it was even then a Church, wherein he professeth to follow Luther, Oecclampadius, Zuinglius, Bucerus, Calvin, Musculus, Bullinger, and the general sense of the Protestant writers. See the Smetonii respons: ad Hamilton. Apostat. pag. 6. If there was not a true Church, when Popery and Antichristianism had most universally spread itself, why is it said that Antichrist sitteth in the Temple of God, 2 Thes: 2.4? And if God had not a people in Babylon, why is it said, Come out of her, my people, Rev. 18.4? And if there were not all that time, even before the Reformation, true Ministers of Christ, why are the two witnesses said to Prophesy 1260 days (compting days for years) in sackcloth, Rev. 11.3-5? Sure the time of the witnesses, their Prophesying in sackcloth, wherever we fix the beginning and ending of it (which is controverted) it doth certainly comprehend those ages before the Reformation, as a part of this time. Therefore Christ had his Witnesses and Ministers all that while. Protestants as well as Papists, hold the perpetuity of the true Church and Ministry, though not ever visible or alike pure. And otherwise, how shall we understand Christ's own word, Matt. 28.20, Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. (4.) Wherefore I conclude that those who were ordained in the Church of Rome before the Reformation, insofar as they were ordained in the name of Christ, by these who had been themselves ordained Presbyters as well as Bishops, and authorized to preach the Gospel, and administer the Sacraments; this far they were true and lawful Ministers, truly and lawfully ordained. But insofar as they were ordained according to the Popish statutes and Canons, for teaching and maintaining the traditions of the Church of Rome, and for offering up the body of Christ in the Mass, in this consideration, their calling and Ordination was impure and unlawful, like pure water flowing out of a clean fountain, which contracts impurity from a filthy channel it runs through. See Synops: Pur: Theol: Disp. 42. Thes: 48, and divers others who might be cited to this purpose.