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ed that re-ordination is unprecedented in the New Testament; and so also is the removal of a pastor from one church to another : if the latter were found, they supposed the former would accom. pany it.
Some conversation took place at the same meeting also, on the scriptural grounds, for the laying on of hands in ordination. In favour of this practice, it was alleged—1. That it appears to have been used in all ages of the church, where persons were set apart to sacred work. Numb. xxvii. 18–23. That though often connected with the communication of extraordinary gifts, yet it was not always so. It is not certain that it was for this purpose, that hapds were laid upon the seven deacons of the church at Je. rusalem (Acts vi. 6.); and it is certain that when the church at Antioch laid hands on Saul and Barnabas, (Acts xiii. 3.) it was not for this purpose, seeing they were possessed of extraordinary gifts already. In this case, they were ordioary persons, who laid bands upon the extraordinary.-3. That when the laying on of hands was accompanied with the conferring of extraordinary gifts, it is doubtful whether they were not imposed, for that specific purpose only. See Acts viii. 17-19. xix. 5, 6.-4. That ordination is expressed by laying on of hands : Lay hands suddenly on no man, &c. But that which is used to express or describe a practice, would seem to be an important, if not an essential part ON ORDINATION.
Two of your correspondents have honoured me with their remarks on my few bints on ordination. If I add a few more, it is with no design to enter into any thing like contention on the subject. “Mr. Howe” was a great and good man ; and while he considered ordination as a designation to the Christian ministry, it is no wonder he should answer as he did. But I see no evidence deducible from Acts xiv. 23. that this is the scriptural idea of it. Paul and his companions, having formed these believers into Christian churches, proceeded to organize them with proper officers. These elders, or presbyters, who were ordained by the suffrage of the churches, were officers in those churches, and not merely Christian ministers appointed to preach the gospel wherever a door mighi be opened. Your correspondent C. speaks of “ other passages which he forbears to quote." I he can produce an instance of ordination being a designation to the Christian ministry, as such, his argument will be established ; but not else.
Candour requires me to acknowledge, in reply to Amicus, that from what he has remarked on Acts xiii. 3. I suspect myself to have been under a mistake, in supposing that the laying on of hands, in that instance, was by the church. My reason for thinking so, was, that the exercises of fasting and prayer were not likely to be confined to the prophets and teachers, and therefore not that of laying on of bands : but upon a review of the subject, I incline to think that the latter was done by the prophets and teachers in the name of the church. The point bowever which was there attempted to be proved, is not affected by this mistake. This was, that the laying on of bands, was not always for the purpose of conveying extraordinary gifts : but whoever they were that
laid hands on Barnabas and Saul, it could not be for this purpose, since it is pretty evident that they were possessed of them before. I may add, I do not consider this as an instance of ordination ; but of the designation of two Christian missionaries to the Gențiles.
Amicus speaks of “Saul not being yet ordained an apostle.” Surely he is here greatly beside the mark. Is not an apostle one immediately sent of Christ without any human authority? Did not Saul receive ordination to that office at the time of his conversion ? See Acts xxvi. 16-18. Compared with Gal. i. 1. 1217. and 1 Cor. xi. 1.
With respect to the general question, on what grounds the practice of ordination rests among congregational churches ; and wherein the essence of it consists ? I am not prepared to enter into “ a complete investigation of the subject ;" a close examina. tion of the Acts and the Epistles, with this point in view, might possibly correct some of my ideas. At present, I can only offer a few brief hints.
Viewing the subject as I do, namely, as a designation of a person to an office in a Christian church, I find that in such cases the church made the election, and the apostles and other elders set bim apart with prayer (as I suppose) and the laying on of hands. Acts vi. 3. xiv. 23. Titus i. 5. Such is the general ground of my practice, when I engage in an ordination. In doing this, I claim not to be a successor of the apostles, any otherwise than as every faithful pastor is such ; nor pretend to constitute the party or. dained a Christian minister, for this he was as being a teacher antecedent to his being ordained a pastor ; nor to impart power or "authority to administer gospel ordinances." It appears to me, that every approved teacher of God's word, whether ordained the pastor of a particular church or not, is authorized to baptize; and with respect to the Lord's supper, though I should think it disorderly for a young man who is only a probationer, and not an ordained pastor to administer that ordinance, yet I see nothing ob¡estionable, if when a church is destitute of a pastor, it were administered by a deacon or aged brother ; I know of no scriptural authority for confining it to ministers. Nay, I do not recollect any montion in the scriptures, of a minister being employed in it, unless we reckon our Lord one. I do not question but that the primitive pastors, whose office it was to preside in all spiritoal affairs, did administer that ordinance, as well as receive and exclude members ; but as a church, wben destitute of a pastor, is competent to appoint a deacon or aged brother to officiate in these cases, I know of no reason to be gathered from the scriptures, wby they should not be the same in the other.
The only end for which I join in an ordination is to unite with the elders of that and other churches, in expressing my brotherly concurrence in the election, which, if it fell on what I accounted an unsound or unworthy character, I should withhold. Though church. es are so far independent of each other, as that po one has a right to interfere in the concerns of another without their consent, unless it be as we all have a right to exhort and admonish one another, yet there is a common union required to subsist between them, for the good of the whole: and so far as the ordination of a pastor affects this common'or general interest, it is fit that there should be a general concurrence in it. It was on this principle, I conceive, rather than as an exercise of authority, that the apostles, whose office was general, took the lead in the primitive ordinations. When the churches increased, they appointed such men as Timothy and Titus, to do what they would have done themselves, had they been present: and when all extraordinary officers ceased, the same general object would be answered by the concurrence of the elders of the surrounding churches. Though the apostles and other extraordinary officers in the church had an authority which no ordinary pastor or company of pastors possess.; yet in many things they did no more than what would be lawful for others to do, if they could and would do it. If they planted churches, set them in order, and ordained elders over them, it was not because the same things would not have been valid if done without them, but because they would not have been done. Let but churches be planted, set in order, and scripturally organized; and whether it be by apostles, evangelists, or ordinary pastors, all is good and acceptable to Christ. Paul left Timothy at Ephesus, that he might charge some that they taught no other doctrine. But if the Ephesian teachers had been of themselves attached to the truth, neither Paul nor Timothy would have been offended for their interference being rendered unnecessary. Titus was left in Crete, to set in order the things that were wanting, and to ordain elders in every city : but it things were but set in order, and proper elders ordained in the churches of Crete, it were no matter whether Paul the apostle, Titus the evangelist, or the wisest of their own elders take the lead in it. Let them but have had wisdom and virtue enough in the island to bave aceomplished these ends, and Paul would have rejoiced in beholding their order, and the steadfastness of their faith in Christ.
To the evangelist, Lut have had wounds, and
ON CHRISTIAN LOVE,
Query. As all mankind are alike sinners in the eyes of God, exposed to his anger, under his control, and within the power of his grace; are they not alike entitled to our compassion and regard ? And as all the saints are alike chosen of God, redeemed by Christ, sanctified by the Spirit, &c. are they not alike entitled to our affection and esteem? Seeing also, that much has been said and done to diffuse the gospel, and promote a spirit of brotherly love among real Christians of all denominations, is it not inconsistent with this general design, that the various friends of Missionary Societies among Episcopalians, Independents, Baptists, &c. should appear to be so intent on promoting the particular interests of their respective societies, as not to feel an equal concern for the rest ? One is fervently praying for the missionaries in the east, and makes their labours the topic of his conversation, while those in the south are nearly overlooked, or lightly regarded ; and vice versa.