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church officers, in the introduction of private members of other churches, and of all persons not regularly vested with authority to preach the word, for the purpose of conducting religious meetings, we do especially disapprove of meetings or Bible classes, set up and managed by such persons, without the invitation and approbation of the pastors, or, in case of vacant churches, without the approbation and concurrence of the brethren of those churches.
“ We do further affectionately entreat the pastors and the members of our churches, to regard the order which Christ has instituted, and to watch against all innovations on that order."
To this declaration of the Consociation, Mr. Dwight made the following rejoinder, through the columns of the Religious Intelligencer, from which it will be seen that he was extremely tenacious of the rights of the laity.
“ In the Intelligencer of the 20th inst., I read with some surprise .an extract from the minutes of the Consociation of the Eastern District of New Haven County,' and while reading it, certain texts of Scripture came to my mind, which I beg leave to state.
“ Numbers, xi. 26–29. “But there remained two of the men in the camp, Eldad and Medad, and they prophesied in the camp. And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. And Joshua, the son of Nun, the servant
and soid . of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets.'
“ Acts, viii. 1, 4. • And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles—Therefore they that were scattered abroad, went every where preaching the word.'
“ Luke, ix. 49, 50 · And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and we forbade him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, forbid him not ; for he that is not against us, is for us.'
W 1 Cor. i. 1. 2. • Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, through the will of God, and Sosthenes, our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them which are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs, and ours.'
“ In connection with chap. xiv. 1. •Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.'
“ 3. • He that prophesieth, speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.'
“23. If therefore, the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues,
and there come in those that are unlearned or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad ?'
“ 24. “But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all.'
“ 29. “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.
“31. • For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.'
“ 32. •And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
“ 33. “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.'
“ 39. · Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.'
“ 40. “Let all things be done decently and in order.'
“In the course of their communication, the Consociation say, “We call upon the brethren to strengthen the hands of their pastors, by co-operating with them in their efforts to do good, and by discountenancing all attempts to throw open the ministry of the Gospel to the common use of unauthorized persons, or persons who with seeming, or perhaps real, but indiscreet zeal to do good, thrust themselves into the appropriate labors of ministers, without regular license to preach.
“ It seems that “unauthorized persons are those who have not been licensed by an Association of ministers. Now Mr. Editor, I would thank you to point out that part of the Scriptures, where the disciples of Christ are commanded not to preach until they have been licensed by an Association of ministers. I want chapter and verse. If it cannot be done, it will bring to my mind another text, Matthew xv. 9. 'In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines, the commandments of men.'”
Before dismissing the topic of lay-preaching, it may be pardonable in the writer to offer one or two remarks upon it, though his opinions may not be satisfactory to some of his more experienced brethren in the ministry. The subject is one of practical interest to every church and pastor. I would yield to no man in my estimate of the importance of the Christian ministry. I regard it as Christ's own institution; an institution permanently identified with his Gospel; an institution which he has honored and blessed in every age, and which has the promise of his favor “ to the end of the world;" an institution which has been, and must be the chief agency in the evangelization of mankind. I believe that the true method of evangelizing our own western country, is precisely that which the Apostles adopted as soon as it was practicable, viz: to organize churches and institute an eldership in each, to be the “bishops” or overseers, "pastors,” “ teachers,” “ leaders,” “ guides,” and “guardians” of the flock. Paul and Barnabas, after having preached the Gospel and gathered churches in many parts of Asia Minor, retraced their steps for the purpose of strengthening the faith of the converts whom they had made, and of establishing the institutions of the Gospel on a firm basis. This they did, by explaining more fully the doctrines of Christianity, and by constituting elders in every church. (Acts xiv: 23.) The same policy must be pursued everywhere, if we would make the influence of the Gospel permanent ;-churches must be planted, and ministers appointed and sustained. Nothing can be more preposterous than the idea of evangelizing the West by means of books and tracts, and itinerants, without a settled ministry. However important such instrumentalities may be as preparations for and auxiliaries to the labors of pastors, the most economical and expeditious, as well as the only sure way of securing the ascendancy of true religion in our land, is by an educated and permanent ministry.
Lest this should be regarded as mere special pleading in behalf of my own profession, I will substantiate what I have said by the testimony of a layman, whose opinion upon a subject which he has carefully studied, is as much to be relied on as that of any man living. Says Mr. Webster, in his manly and convincing argument in the Girard case, before the Supreme Court of the United States, “There is nothing set forth more authentically in the New Testament, than the appointment of a Christian ministry ; and he who does not believe this, does not, and cannot believe the rest. It is true, that Christian ministers in