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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.