Imatges de pÓgina
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he had been created “an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father.” () The first clause, not of men, was applicable to him in common with all pious ministers of the word; for no man can lawfully exercise this ministry without having been called by God. The other clause was special and peculiar to himself. When he glories in this, therefore, he not only claims the possession of what belongs to every good pastor, but likewise brings forward an evidence of his apostleship. For whereas there were among the Galatians some who, from an eagerness to diminish his authority, represented him as a common disciple deputed by the primary apostles; in order to vindicate the dignity of his prcaching, against which he knew these artifices were directed, he found it necessary to shew that he was not inferior to the other apostles in any respect. Wherefore he affirms, that he had not been elected by the judgment of men, like some ordinary bishop, but by the mouth and clear revelation of the Lord himself.

XIV. But that the election and appointment of bishops by men is necessary to constitute a legitimate call to the office, no sober person will deny, while there are so many testimonies of scripture to establish it. Nor is it contradicted by that declaration of Paul, that he was “an apostle, not of men, nor by man;" (9) since he is not speaking in that passage of the ordinary election of ministers, but claiming to himself what was the special privilege of the apostles. The immediate designation of Paul, by the Lord himself, to this peculiar privilege, was nevertheless accompanied with the form of an ecclesiastical call, for Luke states, that “ As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereunto I have called them." (v) What end could be answered by this separation and imposition of hands, after the Holy Spirit had testified their election, unless it was the preservation of the order of the Church in designating ministers by men? God. could not sanction that order, therefore, by a more illustrious example than when, after having declared that he had con

(0) Gal. i. 1.

(9) Gal. i. 1.

(r) Acts xiii. 2.

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stituted Paul the apostle of the Gentiles, he nevertheless directed him to be designated by the Church. The same may be observed in the election of Matthias. () For the apostolic office being of such high importance that they could not venture to fill up their number by the choice of any one person from their own judgment, they appointed two, one of whom was to be chosen by lot; that so the election might obtain a positive sanction from heaven, and yet that the order of the Church might not be altogether neglected.

XV. Here it is inquired, whether a minister ought to be chosen by the whole Church, or only by the other ministers and the governors who preside over the discipline, or whether he may be appointed by the authority of an individual? Those who attribute this right to any one man, quote what Paul says to Titus: “ For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest ordain elders in every city:" (t) and to Timothy; "Lay hands suddenly on no man." (0) But they are exceedingly mistaken, if they suppose that either Timothy at Ephesus, or Titus in Crete, exercised a sovereign power to regulate every thing according to his own pleasure. For they presided over the people, only to lead them by good and salutary counsels, not to act alone to the exclusion of all others. But that this may not be thought to be an invention of mine, I will prove it by a similar example. For Luke relates, that elders were ordained in the Churches by Paul and Barnabas, but at the same time he distinctly marks the manner in which this was done, namely, by the suffrages or votes of the people: for this is the meaning of the term he there employs; xuogolovnearles were evlsgxs sal' suxarlar. (w) Those two apostles, therefore, ordained them; but the whole multitude, according to the custom observed in elections among the Greeks, declared by the elevation of their hands who was the object of their choice. So the Roman historians frequently speak of the consul, who held the assemblies, as appointing the new magistrates, for no other reason but because he received the suffrages and presided at the election. Surely it is not credible that Paul granted to Timothy

(8) Acts i. 23.

(1) Titus i. 5.

(0) 1 Tim. v. 22.

(w) Aets xiv. 23.

and Titus more power than he assumed to himself; but we see that he was accustomed to ordain bishops according to the suffrages of the people. Former passages, therefore, ought to be understood in the same manner, to guard against all infringement of the common right and liberty of the Church. It is a good remark, therefore, of Cyprian, when he contends, " that it proceeds from Divine authority, that a priest should be elected publicly in the presence of all the people, and that he should be approved as a worthy and fit person by the public judgment and testimony.” In the case of the Levitical priests, we find it was commanded by the Lord, that they should be brought forward in the view of the people before their consecration. Nor was Matthias added to the number of the apostles, nor were the seven deacons appointed, without the presence and approbation of the people.“These examples," says Cyprian, “shew that the ordination of a priest ought not to be performed but with the knowledge and concurrence of the people, in order that the election which shall have been examined by the testimony of all, may be just and legitimate.” We find, therefore, that it is a legitimate ministry according to the word of God, when those who appear suitable persons are appointed with the consent and approbation of the people; but that other pastors ought to preside over the election, to guard the multitude from falling into any improprieties, through inconstancy, intrigue, or confusion.

XVI. There remains the Form of ordination, which is the last point that we have mentioned relative to the call of ministers. Now it appears, that when the apostles introduced any one into the ministry, they used no other ceremony than imposition of hands. This rite, I believe, descended from the custom of the Hebrews, who, when they wished to bless and consecrate any thing, presented it to God by imposition of hands. Thus when Jacob blessed Ephraim and Manasseh, he laid his hands upon them. (x) This custom was followed by our Lord, when he prayed over infants. (y) It was with the same design, I apprehend, that the Jews were directed

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in the law to lay their hands upon their sacrifices. Wherefore the imposition of the hands of the apostles was an indication that they offered to God the person whom they introduced into the ministry. They used the same ceremony over those on whom conferred the visible gifts of the Spirit. But be that as it may, this was the solemn rite invariably practised, whenever any one was called to the ministry of the Church. Thus they ordained pastors and teachers, and thus they ordained deacons. Now though there is no express precept for the imposition of hands, yet since we find it to have been constantly used by the apostles, such a punctual observance of it by them ought to have the force of a precept with with us. And certainly this ceremony is highly useful both to recommend to the people the dignity of the ministry, and to admonish the person ordained that he is no longer his own master, but devoted to the service of God and the Church. Besides, it will not be an unmeaning sign, if it be restored to to its true origin. For if the Spirit of God institute nothing in the Church in vain, we shall perceive that this ceremony, which proceeded from him, is not without its use, provided it be not perverted by a superstitious abuse. Finally, it is to be remarked, that the imposition of hands on the ministers was not the act of the whole' multitude, but was confined to the pastors. It is not certain whether this ceremony was, in all cases, performed by more pastors than one, or whether it was ever the act of a single pastor. The former appears to have been the fact in the case of the seven deacons, of Paul and Barnabas, and some few others. (2) But Paul speaks of himself as having laid hands upon Timothy, without any mention of many others having united with him. “I put thee in remembrance, that thou stir up the gift of God which is in thee, by the putting on of my hands.” (a) His expression in the other Epistle, of "the laying on of the hands of the presbytery," (6) I apprehend not to signify a company of elders, but to denote the ordination itself; as if he had said, Take care that the grace which thou receivedst by the laying on of hands, when I ordained thee a presbyter, be not in vain.

(-) Acts vi. 6. xii. 3.

(a) 2 Tim. 1: 6.

(6) 1 Tim. iv. 14.

CHAPTER IV.

The State of the ancient Church, and the Mode of Government

practised before the Papacy. HITHERTO we have treated of the mode of government in the Church, as it has been delivered to us by the pure word of God, and of the offices in it, as they were instituted by Christ. Now, that all these things may be more clearly and familiarly displayed, and more deeply impressed upon our minds, it will be useful to examine what was the form of the ancient Church, in these particulars. It will place before our eyes an actual exemplification of the Divine institution. For though the bishops of those times published many canons, in which they seemed to express more than had been expressed in the Holy Scriptures; yet they were so cautious in framing their whole economy according to the sole standard of the word of God, that in this respect scarcely any thing can be detected among them inconsistent with that word. But though there might be something to be regretted in their regulations, yet because they directed their sincere and zealous efforts to preserve the institution of God, without deviating from it to any considerable extent, it will be highly useful in this place to give a brief sketch of what their practice was. As we have stated that there are three kinds of ministers recommended to us in the Scripture, so the ancient Church divided all the ministers it had into three orders. For from the order of presbyters, they chose some for pastors and teachers; the others presided over the discipline and corrections. To the deacons was committed the care of the poor and the distribution of the alms. Readers and Acoluthi were not names of certain offices, but young men, to whom they also gave the name of clergy; they were accustomed from their youth to certain exercises in the service of the Church, that they might better understand to what they were destined, and might enter upon their office better prepared for it in due time; as I shall soon shew more at large. There

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