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brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. And into whatsoever city or town ye enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into a house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah, in the day of judgment, than for that city," Matt. x, 1-15 ; “ And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere,” Luke ix, 6.
From the foregoing account of the call, character, commission, and duties of the apostles, the following things are manifest:
1. They were first disciples, i. e., scholars or learners, to show that men must first be taught before they are sent of God.
None are called of God who are wicked, or who are not true Christians. The unregenerate are not eligible to the ministers' office.
2. They were elected or chosen from among the disciples or followers of Christ.
3. He alone chose, appointed, or ordained them, without the use of any ceremony whatever.
4. They were invested with powers to preach and work miracles.
5. They were instructed to go troo by two. This practice was followed by them after the resurrection. Such, however, is not the practice with prelates, who are usually alone. It is surprising this has been overlooked by many or most portions of the church. The services of two ministers in association are admirably calculated to promote the cause of religion.
6. They were constituted apostles, i. e., missionaries, that the gospel might be preached to every creature.
7. They were to go to their work depending on God and his church for support.
8. They were to be men of one work. It was therefore unlawful for them to engage in secular business, as all their time was to be devoted to the ministry of the word. See Acts vi, 1-6.
9. It was required that they should have the spirit of martyrs. Such a spirit is still indispensable to the Christian ministry.
It is worthy of remark, that there is no routine of ceremonials found in this appointment or ordination. Our Lord barely charges them to discharge faithfully the duties of their function. There is no imposition of hands, no showy ceremonies, no passing through various grades. From plain disciples they were made missionaries or apostles. From this we learn that the fewer the ceremonies—the simpler the process of constituting the ministry, the nearer does this approach to the pattern of our Lord in appointing the first ministers of his religion.
(2.) The appointment of Matthias to succeed Judas.
We have an account of the appointment of Matthias in the first chapter of the Acts, from which we gather the following particulars :
1. The persons concerned in the appointment of Matthias. The number was about one hundred and twenty. These were disciples, as distinguished from the apostles.
2. Qualifications of the persons to be appointed. They must be persons conversant with Christ and the other apostles during the whole of our Lord's ministry till his ascension, that they might be witnesses of the resurrection.
3. Two persons were put in nomination, viz., Joseph and Matthias. These seem to have been chosen by the disciples, and not by the eleven, for to the disciples Peter spake. These two were worthy men, and so well qualified for the office that they could not tell which of them was the fitter; but all agreed it must be one of them. They did not themselves strive for the place, but humbly sat still till one was appointed to it.
4. They applied themselves to God by prayer for direction, “Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, show whether of these two thou hast chosen.” Observe, he must be chosen for his heart, and not for merely outward endowments. They desired that God would show or manifest which of these two was the more fit to be an apostle.
5. The doubt was determined by lot, which is an appeal to God, and lawful to be used for the determination of matters not otherwise determined, provided it be done with solemnity and prayer: “The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposal thereof is of the Lord,” Prov. xvi, 33. As to the manner or kind of lot used, nothing is determined.
In the appointment of Matthias there was no imposition of hands. The disciples or apostles chose two. Prayer and the lot were referred to for the purpose of showing which of these two was chosen. Here, then, was no formal ordination, such as is used in modern times. Still, here are the elements of true Scriptural ordination during all time, viz., that persons duly qualified be chosen; that the disciples or Christians propose or nominate; that ministers also take a principal part in the selection; and that the appointment, when made, is clearly of God.
In the foregoing part of this essay it was shown that the word " ordained,” in the twenty-second verse, is useless, as there is no word in the original to which it refers or corresponds. The word “ordained" would lead some persons to infer that imposition of hands was used, although there was no such ceremony employed. Matthias was said barely to be “numbered" with the apostles, ver. 26, as Judas was “numbered” with them before, ver. 17. Nor was there any thing like triple ordination in the case, such as the conferring of deacons' and elders' orders before ordination for the episcopate. This belongs to a subsequent period of the church, and was unknown in the times of the apostles.
It should never be overlooked, in any case, that the appointment of the minister must be of God: so, though the disciples appointed two, recourse was immediately had to prayer and the lot for the purpose of ascertaining whom God had chosen or appointed. The same principle must always be observed. The will of God must rule. He whom God chooses and calls must be the minister, whatever prudential means may be used for the purpose of finding out the person whom God appoints: and God never chooses the wicked, nor the irreligious, nor the unqualified, to preach his gospel. “A bishop or pastor must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach," 1 Tim. iii, 2. Here there is no room left for human option, election, appointment, ordination, &c., as the person must possess a Christian character, and have ministerial gifts, before he is eligible at all to the pastor's office. Appointments without these qualifications are, ipso facto, null and void. They are contrary to the great Scriptural and constitutional principles which God hath “ordained,” as Sovereign and Lord of his church; and he has never delegated any power to man by which he is permitted or authorized to overlook these principles.
(3.) The appointment of Paul.
Some have supposed that he was chosen an apostle to succeed James, who was put to death by Herod. Whether this was so or not, it is certain he was appointed particularly to be the apostle of the Gentiles. Paul's conversion had something truly miraculous in it; and though his appointment to the ministry had also something peculiar, still the very manner of it has all the elements of common ministerial appointment from which it is highly dangerous to depart at any time, and under any circumstances. We look in vain, however, in the ordination of this apostle, for the array of ceremony, and order, and routine, as practiced in the Churches of Rome and of England, or even in most modern Protestant churches. The following things seem to be clearly gathered from the history of this man:
1. He was a truly regenerate Christian by the power of the Holy Spirit; and though there were some things connected with his conversion truly miraculous, yet in his renovation by the Spirit there was nothing more than what substantially takes place in the conversion of every man. Paul, then, was a true Christian before he actually became a preacher, though his call to the work antecedes this event.
2. He was particularly called to this work by almighty God himself. The following passages of Scripture plainly show this. When Paul was first arrested by the power of God, and was sent to Ananias for instruction, our Lord prepares the mind of this disciple for the reception of Saul by declaring concerning him, “He is a chosen vessel unto me to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel,” Acts ix, 15. He was called to this work by the Holy Ghost: “ The Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them,” Acts xiii, 2; “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,” Rom.i, 1; "When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen,” Gal. i, 16, 17. From these passages we learn that Paul was separated for the ministry from his infancy; that the Holy Spirit called him thereto; that this was done by bestowing on him the grace of God. And Paul was not disobedient to the heavenly call.
3. The “grace” of God bestowed on St. Paul was his great and indispensable qualification for the ministry. The communication of grace was the leading element in his ministerial call; or, in other
words, the call was manifested by bestowing grace upon him in his conviction, conversion, and regeneration. So it is said, “God called him by his grace,” Gal. i, 15. He moreover asserts that it was the grace of God which gave him success in his ministry. Speaking of his apostleship, he says, "By the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me,” 1 Cor. xv, 10. He farther says, "I was made a minister, according to the gist of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, was this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,” Eph. iii
, 7, 8. It was not the apostle's learning, but the grace of God, that qualified him for the work of the ministry. It requires the grace of God, yea, the ministerial gift, to make men useful ministers of Jesus Christ; indeed, not merely useful ministers, but ministers at all. A minister without grace is a useless minister, and a use. less one can never be called a minister of Christ. A man with an unrenewed heart and unsanctified life is both ineligible to the ministerial office, and an intruder therein if placed in it. This defect shows he was never called of God, because the call itself is communicated by means of the grace of God, as is manifest by the texts quoted before.
4. Ananias, a disciple or private Christian, was the first formal instrument of recognizing Paul as a Christian and as a minister. It was revealed to him that Paul should be a chosen vessel to preach the gospel. By the imposition of this disciple's hands Saul received his sight, and was filled with the Holy Ghost. Acts ix, 17. The design of this imposition of hands was not to ordain him, because, 1. The design is given differently, as above. 2. Ananias was only a disciple, and his example cannot be quoted in favor of modern use. Still, in this case, we have a specimen of what took place in the case of Matthias and the seven deacons, viz., that the disciples or private Christians were first to nominate, or be concerned first in making selections for the ministry, subject, however, to the control and negative of the ministers.
5. Paul, a few days after his conversion, began to preach Christ. This is manifest from the following place of Scripture: "Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God," Acts ix, 19, 20. Dr. Wells, in loco, and in his Scriptural Geography, and others, have given it as their opinion, that Saul, immediately at his conversion, retired to the Desert of Arabia, where he received additional revelations, and was instructed more perfectly in the Christian system by Jewish Christians, and then returned to Damascus. That this is a mistake we believe, because, 1. He commenced, evlews, immediately at his conversion to preach. 2. The gos. pel was communicated to him not by man, or human teaching, but by revelation from God. Thus Paul spent his first three years in Arabia and Damascus, without receiving any thing like ordination from man.
6. Next he went up to Jerusalem, about the year 38, or three years after his conversion. Gal. i, 18-24. On this visit, where
he saw only Peter and James, we have no account of his receiving any ordination, except that, after some explanation, they “received” him because that God evidently had called him.
7. Then fourteen years after this, or in the year 52, he went up again to Jerusalem, of which he gives an account in his Epistle to the Galatians, chap. i, ver. 1-19. Here we learn that he went up by "revelation;" that "he communicated to them that gospel which he preached among the Gentiles." There the apostles saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was communicated to him, because “God wrought mightily by him,” the “grace of an apostle was in him," and therefore the apostles "gave him and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship;" and this was all the ordination they received from the other apostles.
The following generally just observations of Dr. Clarke, in his concluding remarks on Gal. i, will well repay for their perusal:" It appeared of great importance to St. Paul to defend and vindicate his divine mission. As he had none from man, it was the more necessary that he should be able to show plainly that he had one from God. Paul was not brought into the Christian ministry by any rite ever used in the Christian Church. Neither bishop nor presbyter ever laid hands on him; and he is more anxious to prove this, because his chief honor arose from being sent immediately by God himself: his conversion and the purity of his doctrine showed whence he came. Many since his time, and in the present day, are far more anxious to show that they are legitimately appointed by man than God; and are fond of displaying their human credentials. These are easily shown; those that come from God are out of their reach. How idle and vain is a boasted succession from the apostles, while ignorance, intolerance, pride, and vain glory prove that these very persons have no commission from Heaven! Endless cases may occur where man sends, and yet God will not sanction. And that man has no right to administer the sacraments of the Church of Christ whom God has not sent, though the whole assembly of apostles had laid their hands on him. God never sent, and never will send, to convert others, a man who is not converted himself. He will never send him to teach meekness, gentleness, and longsuffering, who is proud, overbearing, intolerant, and impatient. He in whom the Spirit of Christ does not dwell, never had a commission to preach the gospel; he may boast of his human authority, but God will laugh him to scorn. On the other hand, let none run before he is sent; and when he has got the authority of God, let him be careful to take that of the church with him also."
Although in the case of St. Paul some things were extraordinary, yet it furnishes us, after all, with the outlines of the most Scriptural mode of ordination or appointment to the ministry.
First. Paul had the immediate sanction of the disciples; of Ananias first, and then of the other disciples. Thus the approval of the members of the church forms the first step in external appointment.
Secondly. His fellow-laborers, or the other ministers, received him. They acknowledged him as an apostle, and gave him the right hand of fellowship.
Thirdly. He made full proof of his ministry.