Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

the people, and the merits of good men may be proclaimed; and that ordination is just and legitimate which is decided by the suffrage and judgment of all. Which thing, afterward, by divine instructions, was observed in the Acts of the Apostles, when, in ordaining an apostle in the place of Judas, Peter spoke to the people. Peter rose in the midst of the disciples; but the number of the men was about one hundred and twenty. We notice that the apostles observed the same, not only in the ordinations of bishops and priests, but also in the ordinations of deacons, concerning which thing also in the Acts of the Apostles it is written, And the twelve called the whole multitude of the disciples, and said unto them. Which thing, on that account, was diligently and cautiously conducted, when the whole people was gathered together, lest any unworthy person should creep into the ministry of the altar or to the priest's office. For unworthy persons were sometimes ordained, not according to the will of God, but according to human presumption; and those things are displeasing to God which do not proceed from legitimate and just ordination, for God declares by Hosea the prophet, saying, They made kings for themselves, but not by me. Wherefore it is to be diligently observed, and held from divine tradition and apostolic observance, which is also held by us, and all provinces, that, for the purpose of performing ordinations aright, the neighboring bishops of the province should convene with the people over whom the president is to be ordained, and the bishop is to be chosen in presence of the people, who know best the life of each, and hath seen the actions of each from intercourse with him. Which also we have seen done among you in the ordination of Sabinus our colleague, so that the episcopate was conferred on him by the suffrages of the whole brotherhood, and the judgment of the bishops who were present, and who sent letters to you concerning him, when the hand was laid on him in the place of Basilides.” Speaking of Martial, who was deposed for immorality, as well as Basilides, Cyprian declares as follows: “He also involved in heavy crimes, ought not hold the episcopate, as the apostle admonishes us and says: A bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God.Rejicitis mandatum Dei, ut traditionem vestram statuatis. Quia ante oculos habentes, et solicite ac religiose considerantes, in ordinationibus sacerdotum non nisi immaculatos et integros antistites eligere debemus, qui sancte et digne sacrificia Deo afferentes, audiri in precibus possint, quas faciunt pro plebis dominico in calamitate, cum scriptum sit: Deus peccatorem non audit ; sed si quis Deum coluerit, et voluntatem ejus fecerit, illum audit. Propter quod plena diligentiâ et exploratione sincera oportet eos ad sacerdotium Dei deligi, quos a Deo constet audiri. Nec sibi plebs blandiatur, quasi immunis esse a contagio delicti possit, cum sacerdote peccatore communicans, et ad injustum atque illicitum præpositi sui episcopatum consensum suum commodans, quando per Osee prophetam comminetur, et dicat censura divina: Sacrificia eorum tamquam panis luctus, omnes qui manducant ea, contaminabuntur, docens scilicet et ostendens, omnes omnino ad peccatum constringi, qui fuerint prophani et injusti sacerdotis sacrificio contaminati. Quod item in Numeris manifestari invenimus, quando Chore, et Dathan, et Abiron contra Aaron sacerdotem sacrificandi sibi licentiam umdicaverunt. Illic quoque per Moysem præcepit Dominus, ut ab eis populus separetur, ne facinorosis conjunctus eodem facinore, et ipse perstringatur. Separamini, inquit, a tabernaculis horum hominum injustorum durissimorum, et nolite tangere eaque ad eos pertinent, ne simul pereatis in peccato eorum. Propter quod plebs obsequens præceptis dominicis, et Deum metuens a peccatore præposito separare se debet, nec se ad sacrilegi sacerdotis sacrificia miscere, quando ipsa maxime habeat potestatem vel eligendi dignos sacerdotes, vel indignos recusandi. Quod et ipsum videmus de divina auctoritate descendere, ut sacerdos plebe præsente sub omnium oculis deligatur, et dignus atque idoneus publico judicio ac testimonio comprobetur, sicut in Numeris. Dominus Moysi præcepit dicens: Apprehende Aaron fratrem tuum, et Eleazarum filium ejus, et impones eos in montem coram omni synagoga, et exue Aaron stolam ejus, et indue Eleazarum filium ejus, et Aaron appositus moriatur illuc. Coram omni synagoga jubet Deus constitui sacerdotem, id est, instruit et ostendit ordinationes sacerdotales non nisi sub populi assistentis conscientia fieri oportere, ut plebe præsente vel detegantur malorum crimina, vel bonorum merita.prædicentur, et sit justa et legitima, quæ omnium suffragio et judicio fuerit examinata. Quod postea secundum divina magisteria observatur in actis apostolarum, quando de ordinando in locum Judæ apostolo Petrus ad plebem loquitur: Surrexit, inquit, Petrus in mediis discentium fuit-autem turba hominum fere centum viginti. Nec hoc in episcoporum tantum et sacerdotum, sed et, in diaconorum ordinationibus observasse apostolos animadvertimus, de quo et ipso in actis eorum scriptum est: Et convocaverunt, inquit, illi duodecem totam plebem discipulorum, et dixerunt eis. Quod utique iccirco tam diligenter, et caute convocata plebe tota gerebatur, ne quis ad altaris ministerium, vel ad sacerdotalem locum indignus abreperet: Ordinari enim nonnumquam indignos non secundum Dei Voluntatem, sed secundum humanam præsumptionem, et hæc Deo displicere, quæ non veniant ex legitima et justa ordinatione, Deus ipse manifestat per Osee prophetam dicens: Sibimetipsis constituerunt regem, et non per me. Propter quod diligenter de traditione divina, et apostolica observatione, servandum est, et tenendum, quod opud nos quoque et fere per provincias universas tenetur, ut ad ordinationes rite celebrandas ad eam plebem, cui præpositus ordinatur, episcopi ejusdem provinciæ proximi quique conveniant, et episcopus deligatur plebe præsente, quæ singulorum vitam plenissime novit

, et uniuscujusque actum de ejus conversatione perspexit.

Quod et apud vos factum videmus in Sabini collegæ nostri ordinatione, ut de universæ fraternitatis suffragio, et de episcoporum qui in præsentia convenerant, quique de eo ad vos literas fecerant, judicio episcopatus ei deferretur, et manus ei in locum Basilidis imponeretur. Ipse quoque delictis gravibus invocatus, episcopatum tenere non debeat, quando et apostolus moneat et dicat. Episcopum oportet esse sine crimine, quasi Dei Dispensatorem. Cypri., Epist. Wirceburgi, 1782, tom. I., p. 210, Epist. 68.) This extract will show that a severe examination took place in ordinations among the primitive Christians, and that a process of trial or probation was in general use among them. The other parts of this extract will be referred to afterward.

VII. Qualifications of deacons or ministers of tables ; or those who fill ecclesiastical offices.

The qualifications of these are to be collected from the account we have of their institution in the sixth chapter of the Acts, or in the particular instructions given by St. Paul to Timothy, respecting those who are fit persons to be employed in the office of deacons. According to their original institution, they were required by the apostles themselves to be “men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom.” The following passage of Scripture will further show what qualifications are required of those to be ordained deacons. “Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husband of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus," 1 Tim. iii. 8–13. The following Scriptural canons respecting the qualifications of deacons are found in the foregoing portions of Scripture.

Canon 1. The deacons must possess a character similar to thať of the bishops or elders, as it regards moral qualifications. This is clearly implied by the use of the word likewise, by which we learn that their attainments must be similar to those of elders.

2. They must be blameless, or irreproachable.

3. They must be men of honest report, to whose good character there is authentic testiniony.

4. Full of the Holy Ghost, renewed by him, and endued with those graces which his influences impart.

5. And wisdom; prudence, discretion and economy; for mere piety and uprightness would not be sufficient, where so many must be pleased, and where impartiality, frugality, and liberality must be observed.

6. They must be grave, or serious, and venerable.

7. Not double-tongued, deceitful, and dissembling, speaking one thing in one company, and another thing in another.

8. Not given to much wine, which would render them unfit for their office.

9. Not greedy of filthy lucre, which might tempt them to violate their engagements to the church, and appropriate its stock lodged in their hands to private uses, rather than to those charitable and ecclesiastical uses for which it was collected.

10. Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience; not merely as a point of speculation, but of practice; steadfast in faith, and holy in heart and life. They must hold the faith in a pure conscience, and those only should be chosen to fill any office in the church who are conscientious men, in the judgment of charity. As soundness in the faith was required of deacons, we may inser that they exercised the functions of teaching; but whether by preaching or catechising is not certain.

11. They must first be proved. They should not be young converts. No man should be put into an office in the church till he has given full proof of his sincerity and steadfastness, by being for some time a consistent member of the church.

12. They must also have good family government.

13. They may be candidates for a higher office. For they that have used, discharged, the office of a deacon well, purchase to them. selves a good degree or step towards a higher office. This does not, however, apply to all deacons; for it is they only who discharge this office well, or in an eminent degree, who will be eligible to the higher office. The deacons were chosen from the most gifted and pious of the private members of the church, as is plain from the appointment of the first seven deacons. And the deacons seem to be here represented as candidates for the ministry of the word.

The following canons of a general nature are derived from the foregoing : 1st

. Deacons, or persons filling temporal offices in the church, must be men free from sins, especially scandalous ones.

2d. They must possess undoubted good moral and religious qualifications.

3d. They must have good gifts.

4th. No man is eligible to fill any office in the church who is immoral, irreligious, or of small mental endowments.

The conclusion to be drawn from the preceding is, that wicked, irreligious, and ignorant men have no right to interfere or meddle in any church office whatsoever. Consequently the doings of irreligious kings, princes, governors, ecclesiastical delegates, &c., have no authority from the word of God; but, on the contrary, they are expressly prohibited to perform any church function, and are utterly ineligible to any church office, as trustee, steward, leader, ruling elder, almoner, messenger, warden, patron, or the like. In consequence of permitting persons unqualified to fill ecclesiastical offices, the peculiar functions of ministers of the word have been invaded, human policy has usurped the place of gospel principles, the doctrines of the gospel have been corrupted, the rules of morality have been perverted, church discipline has been prostrated, the wicked bare rule, and the righteous have been compelled to retire from their lawful offices in the church of God.

On the other hand, were none but decidedly pious and gifted men permitted to fill any office in the church of God, primitive Christianity would revive, and the pure religion of Christ would soon fill the earth.

VIII. The ceremonials and form of ordination, as collected from the New Testament.

On this point the following brief exhibition appears to us to comprehend what we collect from the New Testament on this point.

1. The candidate for the ministry of the word must be called of God, or be a person eligible to this office. He must be eligible before he can be appointed ; and he must be called of God in order to be eligible. And those called by the head of the church are those who ate duly qualified, according to the tests of qualification and character which God himself has laid down. These marks, rules, or tests, calls, or qualifications, are those which we have already spread

1

before the reader, and need not here be particularly discussed. The bare recital of them here will be sufficient.

The candidate for the ministry must be free from scandalous sins. He must not be a wicked man. He must be one of incorrupt morals, both as to principle and practice.

He must possess, in an eminent degree, the Christian graces and virtues.

He must possess ministerial gifts. He must be sound in the faith of the gospel; well instructed in its doctrines, morals, and institutions; and qualified to instruct, explain, defend, &c.

And consequently persons not possessed of these qualifications are not called of God, are not eligible to the minister's office. No people are permitted to approve or recommend them for ministers, or receive them as such. No body of ministers have any right to elect them to the minister's office, or to permit them to exercise it, if they are by any means obtruded into it. No ordainers, whether episcopal, prelatical, popish, presbyterial, congregational, &c., have any authority to consecrate or induct such persons into the minister's office. A minister of the gospel, says the Book, must be blameless, --Must be a good man,- MUST be sound in the faith, instructed in the truths and apt to teach them. None may, in the church of Christ, send the wicked to preach righteousness, the profane to deliver lessons of piety, the drunken to give examples of temperance, the impure to inculcate holiness. The thing is unwise; the accomplishment of such an end would be impossible. Precisely the contrary effects would be produced. Nor can men, inexperienced and unpracticed in the religion of Christ, be employed in delivering lessons on experimental religion, or growth in grace, in holiness, in meekness, sobriety, &c. Nor can all the skill of man make him a teacher who has not first learned, and who has no natural aptitude for teaching. Here, then, is a Scriptural barrier against the appointment to the ministry of the wicked, the inexperienced in religion, or those who are not qualified instructors. Appointments or ordinations made in opposition to these great Scriptural CANONs are null and void. In such a case God has given no permission or authority to ordain; nay, he has expressly forbidden the ordination of such. It is, therefore, profane and sacrilegious in the people to approve or receive bad or unqualified ministers; the true ministers must not elect them, and ordainers have the probibition of God against inducting them into the ministry.

The plain result is, that in all those cases where ineligible persons were put into the ministry, their ordinations were null and void. The ordinations of the greater part of the Romish clergy are invalid. The same may be said in regard to a large number of ordinations among Protestants. Hence the boast of the Successionists is overturned, as the succession can only be through good and qualified men. "To claim apostolical succession, where the outward ritual has been put in the place of indisputable ministerial qualifications, is foolish in the extreme. And this same substitution of a doubtful rite for indispensable Scriptural qualifications, is the only support of the scheme on which this succession is based. If God, in his word, had not taught us especially, and by his Spirit called and qualified men, to prove the rashness and folly of this scheme, pure

« НазадПродовжити »