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Whether any other but a Minister, lawfully called and ordained, may administer the Sacraments, Baptism and the Lord’s supper.


Whether any other but a Minister, lawfully called and ordained, may administer the Sacraments, Baptism and the Lord’s supper.

James Dodson


George Gillespie,
Scottish Commissioner
To the Assembly of Divines
At Westminster.




THE Socinians and the Erastian Crutch-maker before mentioned, so plead against the necessity of Ordination, that they held it lawful and free to gifted persons not ordained, not only to preach, but to administer the Sacraments whether they extend this to women as well as men, I know not. Peradventure they will borrow from the Pagans those she priests whom Gellius out of Cicero, calls Antistitas, not Antistites, or happily they hold with the old Pepuzians, that women may both preach and administer the Sacraments, at least, if they may not speak in the Church, (because that is forbidden, 1 Cor. 14. 32. although some are so bold as to restrict that prohibition to married women, whereof they think they have some color from the context) that yet they may both preach and administer the Sacraments in private places. And if there be no more necessary to one that preacheth or ministereth the Sacraments, but only gifts and abilities, how can they avoid to allow gifted women, as well as gifted men to perform these holy things?

But it is justly held by the reformed Churches, and ordered in the Directory of Worship agreed upon by both Kingdoms, and mentioned also in the late Confession of faith, chap: 27. that neither Baptism nor the Lords Supper may be dispensed by any, but by a Minister of the Word lawfully ordained. Nay (say the soundest Protestant writers) not upon pretense of whatsoever necessity be it among Jews, Turks, Pagans, or to children dying, or the like.

The arguments I lean to, are these. 1. God hath appointed the Minister of the word, lawfully called and ordained, and no other to be the stewards and dispensers of the mysteries of Christ, 1 Cor: 4. 1. Let a man so account of us, as of the Ministers of Christ, and Stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of Stewards, that a man be found faithful. Which the Apostle doeth not only apply to himself and Apollo, vers: 6. (where by the way it may be remembred that Apollo was neither an Apostle, nor Evangelist, but a powerful Minister of the Gospel) and to Sosthenes (as appeareth by comparing the Text new cited with 1 Cor: 1. 1.) but he also applieth the same to every lawful Bishop, or ordinary Minister, Tit. 1. 7. for a Bishop must be blameless as the steward of God, and this steward is ordained, vers: 5. So Luke 12. 42. Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his Lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season. ‘Tis not Christs will that any one of the household, who is faithful, wise, and discreet, may take upon him the stewards office, to dispense meat to the rest. But there is a steward constituted and appointed for that purpose. There are stewards appointed in the Church, which is the house of the living God, and those to continue till the coming of Christ, ibid: vers: 43. 46. and there is nothing which more properly belongeth to the Ecclesiastical stewards, then the dispensation of the Sacraments.

2. Ministers lawfully called and ordained, and none other hath Christ appointed to bee Pastors or Shepherds, to feed the flock of God, Jer: 3. 15. Eph: 4. 11. Act: 20. 28. 1 Pet: 5. 2. Much of this feeding consisteth in the dispensation of the Sacraments. And he who hath appointed this food to be received by some, hath also appointed to be given, and administered by others. Surely he who is so much displeased with Pastors, who feed themselves and not the flock, will not be well pleased with the flock which will be their own feeders only, and will not be fed by the Pastor. Grotius had an extravagant notion of communicating, where there are no Sacramental Elements, or where there are no Pastors to administer, yet although he went too far, those against whom I now argue, doe far outreach him, for where there are both Elements and Pastors to administer, they hold there may be a Sacrament without any Pastor; Yea, this Socinian and Anabaptistical way, takes away the very distinction of Pastor and flock in the Church, as if any of the sheep were to feed the shepherd, as well as he them.

3. Ezekiel’s vision concerning the new Temple, is generally acknowledged to be an Evangelical prophesie, which I have also elsewhere demonstrate by infallible reasons: But I conceive the Sectaries of this time, who cry down the Ministry and Ordination, do not nor will not deny it. Sure I am such a material Temple as is described in that vision, never yet was. Now among other things, it is there prophesied concerning the Ministers of the Gospel, Ezek: 44. 16. They shall enter into my Sanctuary, and they shall come near unto my table to Minister unto me; and they shall keep my charge. Whereof we can make no Gospel sense, except it belong to the charge of Ministers, lawfully called and entered into that work, to administer the Sacraments, and namely that of the Lord’s Supper at his Table. These Ministers are also in that Chapter plainly distinguished from the people, or children of Israel, vers: 15. 19, 22, 23, 28.

4. The Sacraments are seals of the righteousness of faith, or covenant of grace, as Divines commonly speak, borrowing the phrase from Rom: 4. 11. This truely hath been justly accounted so necessary, that both the Houses of Parliament after consultation, had with the Assembly of Divines, did by the Ordinance dated, Octob: 20. 1645. appoint that whoever doth not know that the Sacraments are seals of the Covenant of grace, shall not be admitted to the Lords-supper, but shall be suspended from it, as an ignorant person. Now if it were an intolerable usurpation among men, if a private person should take the broad Seal of the Kingdome, and append it to such Signatures as he thinks good; yea, (put case) to these Signatures only, whereunto it is to be, and ought to be put by those who are entrusted with the keeping of it: Now much more were it a provoking sin, and usurpation against Jesus Christ (who is jealous of his glory, and tender of his ordinances) to make bold with his Seals, without being called, and appointed thereunto.

5. Christ gives a commission to the Apostles, to Teach, and Baptize, and extends the same commission to all Teaching Ministers, to the end of the world, Mat: 28. 19. 20. from which place ‘tis plain; 1. That Jesus Christ would have the distinction of Teachers and Taught: Baptizers and Baptized to have place in the Church alway, even unto the end. 2. That the commission to Teach and Baptize, was not given to all who believe in Jesus Christ, but to some only. 3. That these some who received this commission, are not only the Apostles, but ordinary Ministers, as is manifested by the explaining of the commission, and promise to the end of the world.

6. Christ hath distinguished between Magistracy and Ministry, between civil and sacred vocations, Mat: 22. 21. Mat: 16. 19. &c. 18. 18, &c: 28. 19. Joh: 20. 23. Rom: 13. 1. 7. 1 Tim: 2. 2. 1 Pet: 2. 13, 14. compared with Rom: 12. 6, 7, 8. 1 Cor: 12. 28. Eph: 4. 11. 1 Thes: 5. 12. Heb: 13. 7, 17. So that as Ministers may not assume civil dignities and administrations, nor exercise secular power, Luke 12. 14. &c. 22. 25. 26. Joh: 18. 36. 2 Cor: 10. 4. 2 Tim: 2. 4. It is no less contrary to the ordinance of Christ, that Magistrates (or any other civil persons) stretch themselves beyond their line, and get (with Pompey) into the holy of holies, or with Uzziah to the burning of incense, in both which examples, such intrusion was exemplarily punished. As it may be said to a secularized Minister, who made thee a Judge, or a civil Magistrate? so it may be said, to a Ministerialized civil person, who made thee a dispenser of the Word and Sacraments?

7. We have clear and convincing examples in the new Testament, that the Sacraments were administered by public Ministers, called and appointed thereunto, as Baptism by John, (Joh: 1. 33. he hath sent me to baptize) and frequently by the Apostles in the story of the Acts. The Lords supper administered by Christ himself, (whose example in things imitable we are bidden follow, who also himself then commanded τοῦτο ποιεῖτε, this do). And by the Apostle Paul, Acts 20. 7, 11. so the breaking of bread is joined with the Apostles doctrine and fellowship, Acts 2. 42. Ministers being also called the stewards and dispensers of the mysteries of God, whereof before: So that a lawful Minister may in faith administer, and the receivers receive from him in faith the Sacraments, having Scripture warrants for so doing. But there is neither any commission from Christ, to such as are no Church officers, to administer the Sacraments: Nor can there any clear example be found in the new Testament, of administering either the one Sacrament or the other, by any person who can be proved, not to have been a Minister lawfully called & ordained. Therefore, such persons cannot in faith administer, nor others in faith receive from them, either Baptism or the Lord’s supper.

8. That one Text, Eph: 4. 11. 12, 13. is enough to put to silence these gainsayers. And he gave some Apostles, and some Prophets, and some Evangelists, and some Pastors and Teachers, for the perfecting of the Saints, for the work of the Ministry, for the edifying the body of Christ, till we all come, &c. Is not the administration of the Sacraments a part of the perfecting of the Saints, of the work of the Ministry, of the edifying of the body of Christ? And are we not told that this shall continue till the whole number of the Elect be fulfilled? And whom hath Christ given here to his Church for this work? Hath he given any other but Pastors and Teachers (setting aside the extraordinary officers) and who are the Pastors and Teachers appointed hereunto? All, or whosoever will? Nay not all, but some, saith the Text.