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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 Gentiles.
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. 12— IT*, and 1 Cor. si. I.
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 examination 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 him 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 ordained 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 1 see nothing objectionable, if when a church is destitute of a pastor, it were administered by a deacon or aged brother; 1 know of no scriptural authority for confining it to ministers. Nay, I do not recollect any mention in the scriptures, of a minister being employed in it, unless We reckon our Lord one. I do not question bat that the primitive pastors, whose office it was to preside in all spiritual affairs, did administer that ordinance, as well as receive and exclude members; but as a church, when 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, why they should not be the same in the other.
The only end lor which I join in an ordination is to unite witk 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 churches are so far independent of each other, as that no 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.
But why not bestow a like degree of love and zeal upon the common cause?
Answer. The above statement overlooks an important truth; namely, that though all sinners are alike under God's eye, control, flnd anger, and within the power of his grace, yet they are not alike within our knowledge, care, and charge. And though all saints are alike entitled to our esteem, as chosen of God, as redeemed by Chris*, as sanctified by the Spirit, &c. yet they are not all known alike to us, nor alike under our immediate watch and care. The wall of Jerusalem considered as a whole, was an object that interested every godly Jew who had a mind to work, yet every man repaired next unto his own house, and consequently was more assiduous to raise that part of it than any other. If any one, indeed, had been so intent upon his part of the wall, as to be regardless of the rest, and careless about the work as a whole, it had been criminal: but while these were properly regarded, he might •be allowed to be particularly attentive to his own special work, to which he was appointed. It is wisely ordered that it should be so; for if the mind were taken up entirely in generals, by aiming at every thing, we should accomplish nothing. The Turks and Chinese are alike sinners, and stand in need of mercy as well as the people to whom a minister preaches: but he is not equally obliged to pray for and seek to promote their salvation, as he is that of the people over whom the Holy Spirit hath made him an overseer. The children of heathen families are alike objects of God's knowledge, anger, &c, as those of our own ; but they are not alike known to us, nor equally objects of our parental care.
It is very possible that Episcopalians, Independents, Baptists, &c. may be each too much concerned about their own party, and too inattentive to the properity of others, even in those respects wherein they consider them as conforming to the mind of Christ: but perhaps the whole of this ought not to be attributed to a sinful partiality. Let one society speak of the mission to Africa and the East; another inform us of what God is doing by a Vanderkemp, and a Kitcherer; and another of what he is accomplishing by Carey and his companions, &c. In all this they only build against their own houses, and report progress to their brethren, for the;
Voi. VIII. 46