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Sermons & Study Guides

Form Of Presbyterial Church-Government Pt. 21 - The Directory For The Ordination Of Ministers (part 2).

James Dodson

Form Of Presbyterial Church-Government

The Directory for the Ordination of Ministers (Part 2).


5. Upon the day appointed for ordination, which is to be performed in that church where he that is to be ordained is to serve, a solemn fast shall be kept by the congregation, that they may the more earnestly join in prayer for a blessing upon the ordinances of Christ, and the labours of his servant for their good.  The presbytery shall come to the place, or at least three or four ministers of the word shall be sent thither from the presbytery; of which one appointed by the presbytery shall preach to the people concerning the office and duty of ministers of Christ, and how the people ought to receive them for their work’s sake.

6. After the sermon, the minister who hath preached shall, in the face of the congregation, demand of him who is now to be ordained, concerning his faith in Christ Jesus, and his persuasion of the truth of the reformed religion, according to the scriptures; his sincere intentions and ends in desiring to enter into this calling; his diligence in praying, reading, meditation, preaching, ministering the sacraments, discipline, and doing all ministerial duties towards his charge; his zeal and faithfulness in maintaining the truth of the gospel, and unity of the church, against error and schism; his care that himself and his family may be unblameable, and examples to the flock; his willingness and humility, in meekness of spirit, to submit unto the admonitions of his brethren, and discipline of the church; and his resolution to continue in his duty against all trouble and persecution.

7. In all which having declared himself, professed his willingness, and promised his endeavours, by the help of God; the minister likewise shall demand of the people concerning their willingness to receive and acknowledge him as the minister of Christ; and to obey and submit unto him, as having rule over them in the Lord; and to maintain, encourage, and assist him in all the parts of his office.

8. Which being mutually promised by the people, the presbytery, or the ministers sent from them for ordination, shall solemnly set him apart to the office and work of the ministry, by laying their hands on him, which is to be accompanied with a short prayer or blessing, to this effect: “Thankfully acknowledging the great mercy of God in sending Jesus Christ for the redemption of his people; and for his ascension to the right hand of God the Father, and thence pouring out his Spirit, and giving gifts to men, apostles, evangelists, prophets, pastors, and teachers; for the gathering and building up of his church; and for fitting and inclining this man to this great work: [Here let them impose hands on his head] to entreat him to fit him with his Holy Spirit, to give him (who in his name we thus set apart to this holy service) to fulfil the work of his ministry in all things, that he may both save himself, and his people committed to his charge.”

9. This or the like form of prayer being ended, let the minister who preached briefly exhort him to consider of the greatness of his office and work, the danger of negligence both to himself and his people, the blessing which will accompany his faithfulness in this life, and that to come; and withal exhort the people to carry themselves to him, as to their minister in the Lord, according to their solemn promise made before.  And so by prayer commending both him and his flock to the grace of God, after the singing of a psalm, let the assembly be dismissed with a blessing.

10. If a minister be designed to a congregation, who hath been formerly ordained presbyter according to the form of ordination which hath been in the church of England, which we hold for substance to be valid, and not to be disclaimed by any who have received it; then, there being a cautious proceeding in matters of examination, let him be admitted without any new ordination.

Question 1.—What preparations ought to be observed leading up to the ordination?

Answer.—In the ordination to pastoral office, it is to be observed that the rite is best performed in that church, or congregation, wherein the minister is to serve, 1 Pet. 5:1.  To this is to be joined a solemn fast by that congregation wherein the minister is to be ordained, Acts 14:23.  The joining of fasting to prayer is so that the prayer is focused and the sought after blessing obtained by faith, Matt. 17:21.  After all, the congregation has an interest in seeing that there is a blessing upon the ordinances and labors that are wrought amongst them, Prov. 8:34.

The presbytery is instructed to send three or four ministers of the word to this congregation on its behalf as delegates, Acts 15:22.  Thereupon, one of these ministers is to instruct the people in the office and duty of ministers, Tit. 1:6-9; and to instruct them how they ought to receive him for his works’ sake, 1 Thess. 5:12, 13.

Question 2.—What things are to be demanded of those to be ordained?

Answer.—There are several things to be demanded of those to be ordained: 1.) There should be a confession of his faith in Jesus Christ, 2 Cor. 13:5, 6.  Care should be taken to ascertain that this faith is held in the truth of the reformed religion, according to the Scriptures, 2 Tim. 2:15.  2.) There should be a disavowal of any selfish or sinister ends in seeking this office, Tit. 1:11.  3.) There should be a diligence displayed in all ministerial duties, 1 Cor. 15:58.  4.) There should be a care given to the rule of his own family, 1 Tim. 3:4, 5.  5.) There should be a meekness and willingness to submit to his ministerial brethren, 1 Cor. 14:29-33.  6.) There ought to be a resolution to continue in this work of the ministry despite trouble and opposition, Phil. 3:12-14.

Question 3.—What things are to be demanded of those who are to be ordered under that ministry?

Answer.—Those unto whom the minister is to be installed ought: 1.) To receive and acknowledge him as a minister of the Lord, Phil. 2:29.  2.) To acknowledge that they are obliged to obey and submit unto him as such, Heb. 13:17.  3.) To maintain, encourage and assist him in all parts of that ministry, 1 Cor. 9:14.

Question 4.—Wherein consists the act of ordination?

Answer.—The act of ordination consists in: 1.) A mutual oath, or covenant, between the people, the presbytery and the one to be ordained, 2 Chron. 23:16.  2.) A setting apart to that office or work by the laying on of hands, Acts 13:3.  3.) A short prayer or blessing accompanying the laying on of hands, Acts 6:6; 2 Tim. 1:6.

The prayer ought to be an acknowledgement of the mercy of God for these several things: 1.) Sending Christ for the redemption of his people, Ps. 111:9.  2.) His ascension to the right hand of the Father and the pouring out of the Spirit that signaled its accomplishment, Eph. 4:9-12.  3.) Finally, for that fitting and inclining the one to be ordained to that ministry that through it he may save himself and others, 1 Tim. 4:16.

Question 5.—How ought the service of ordination be concluded?

Answer.—The service of ordination, being ended, it is needful that the presiding minister rehearse the nature of that work for the better remembrancing of the hearers, Ps. 145:10.  This exhortation should consider: 1.) The greatness of the work of the ministry, 2 Cor. 2:16.  2.) The danger in its negligence, Neh. 6:3.  3.) The blessing that accrues to the careful keeping up of this ministry, Ps. 1:1, 2.  4.) Solemn exhortation to carry themselves as the people of God before their minister, 1 Cor. 16:16.  5.) A reminding of the solemn vows that accompanied their resolutions, Ps. 76:11.

Question 6.—What process should be used for those ordained in some church that is lacking in Presbyterial government and worship but holds to the substance of the faith?

Answer.—In the case of those who have been ordained previously, but in a church which is neither Presbyterial in government nor holding to the principles of purity of worship, several things must be considered: 1.) Whether or not the substance of the ordination, the holding of the doctrine of salvation, be present, 2 Cor. 6:4.  If the substance be present, then the ordination is to be accounted valid and not to be disclaimed, 1 Cor. 4:1.  2.) There is to be a careful examination of him, particularly with respect to those points wherein the ordaining body is known to differ in judgment, 1 Cor. 1:10.  3.) Upon the conclusion of this examination, upon presumption of the candidate’s agreement, the previously ordained person is to be admitted without further ceremony, Gal. 2:9.