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"Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have
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THAT at this time of day there should be anything new to be said on the subject of Christian ministry, and that any one should, by appealing to the New Testament alone, lay open such a statement on this theme as must, if true, tend to disturb the composure of every sect, would appear to many too strange for credence; yet the very fact, that numerous religious divisions in Christendom have established many varieties of ministry, and that they all of them appeal to Scripture for the validity of their ministerial arrangements, is a prima facie argument for a new examination of the question, as it is quite obvious that only one of the sects can, by possibility, have discovered the truth; whilst, at the same time, it is far more probable that all should have erred than that only one should be right. Every one who has not taken for granted the perfect and unimpeachable conditions of the "denomination" in which he happens to be enrolled, must acknowledge the force of this argument: and when the history of Protestant divisions is duly weighed; when their origin and the circumstances that led to their formation are calmly considered; when it is remembered that not one of them can put in a claim to a divine birth (for we know the pedigrees of them all, and can most accurately describe their earthly lineage), then must the argument be much strengthened, so that we need scarcely fear stating, that it is in the highest degree improbable that any known sect should have come to indubitable conclusions on the article of Christian ministry.

In the great Reformation, this momentous question was never fairly examined, or rather we may say, it was slurred over as too delicate and dangerous to handle. Luther indeed saw very clearly the master-truths of the spiritual priesthood of all believers-liberty of ministry for all the saints, the total abrogation of all official priesthood in Christianity, and the vanity and absurdity of "ordination." He had nothing more to learn on these points; but then, as in many other instances, he did not think it necessary or politic to press his views, or to insist on them as a part of the Reformation. It is well known that he tolerated many absurdities in worship and ceremonies, probably because he despaired of weaning the people from them; and thus he tolerated ordination though he r of it in his letters, and unmercifully quizzed his bre

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who had some grand doings at their "ordinations." The theologians of the Protestant party, headed by Melancthon, were so little solicitous to place "ministry" on a scriptural foundation, that they rather shewed a disposition to yield to all the papal decrees concerning the priesthood. In the confession of Augsburg, the Protestants thus warily expressed themselves in the 14th article:Concerning the ecclesiastical order, they [the Protestants] teach that no one ought to teach publicly in the church, or to administer the sacraments, unless he be duly called." To this the papal party replied: “When in their fourteenth article they confess that no one ought to administer the word and the sacraments in the church unless he be duly called, it ought to be clearly understood, that he only is duly called who is called according to the form of the canonlaw, and the ecclesiastical sanctions and decrees, which, up to this time, have every where been observed in the Christian world; not called according to the vocation of Jeroboam (1 Kings xii. 20), or a tumultuous election of the people, or any other irregular intrusion; for no one taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." The Protestants, in their "Apology of the Confession," thus notice this stricture :-" Our fourteenth article, in which we say that the administration of the sacraments and of the word should be allowed to no one unless he be duly called, they accept, if only we make use of canonical ordination. On this subject we have frequently testified in the diet of Augsburg, that we, with the greatest willingness, desire to preserve the ecclesiastical polity, even the degrees of priesthood that have been made in the church by human authority [Sæpe testati sumus nos summâ voluntate cupere conservare politiam ecclesiasticam, et gradus in ecclesià factos etiam humanâ auctoritate]; for we know that ecclesiastical discipline, as set forth by the ancient canons, was established by the Fathers, for a good and useful purpose; but the [papal] bishops compel our priests either to renounce and condemn the doctrine which we have confessed, or else kill them, innocent as they are, with new and unheard-of cruelties. For this cause our priests are prevented from acknowledging the bishops." Here, then, we see the perilous position of "ministry" during the Reformation; and we can therefore well understand how, in such circumstances, there was little likelihood that the question should be investigated, as it deserved to be, with a professed and unhesitating submission to the word of God. But this is not all, for "ministry" must needs be produced in some form by the Protestants, and that form must of necessity be accommodated to the worldly position which the Protestant religion assumed at first, and has retained

• The imposition of hands in ordination was a perplexing question to the Protestants: thus, for some time, the whole Senate of Geneva, consisting of many laymen, used, by imposition of hands, to ordain the ministers. Calvin and Farel objected to this practice. The Kirk of Scotland, a branch of Calvin's church, in the year 1560, renounced ordination by imposition Is, as "a superstition:" eighteen years later, they restored it!

ever since. For it is to be remembered, that the Reformers never acknowledged the heavenly calling of the saints: never confessed that the church had her polity only in heavenly places: never hesitated to draw the sword in "defence of their civil and religious liberties:" never declined from power and authority in the world, but rather, under the auspices of princes and magistrates, sought to establish the Gospel as a handmaid of Governments, and, as if a second Joshua were their leader, to drive the enemy out of the land, that they might take possession of the fertile Canaan, long defiled with papal abominations.

The world, then, being the portion of the Protestant religion, its ministry required a substantial and consolidated formation, suited for its earthly calling and its contentious life; and that it soon obtained on the Continent, and in England and Scotland, according to the arrangements of the different predominant sections of the reformed faith. Hence we everywhere find that Protestant ministry is based on the old maxims and principles of the antecedent creed. These maxims and principles may indeed be modified, and reduced in intensity, but as the papal system had brought to perfection the mystery of amalgamating the church and the world, the new possessors of power, whose object it was to be proficients in the same mystery, could not do otherwise than study the successful methods of their predecessor. But in this forbidden science, the Protestants seem to forget that the old masters can always obtain an easy victory over all co-rivals; for in the matter of ministry, wherever it is of human institution, Popery has the means of surpassing all antagonists, and of confounding all opponents. It is owing to the superior claims of the papal priesthood to the obedience of man, on earthly principles, that Popery is now once more disturbing the repose of Protestants, and threatening some great crisis in ecclesiastical history. In "ministry," as a human institution, Popery possesses incomparable advantages; for who does not see that even the ordinations of the dissenters come from Rome through the church of England, and that the idea of requiring a clerical body to convey the power of "administering the sacraments" (an idea fully recognised by the dissenters), is easily to be traced to the decrees of the canonists? The church of England smiles with disdain on the imitation of clerisy by the dissenters, and haughtily denies the validity of their ordinations; but the church of Rome, enthroned in the magnificent deceptions of many ages, and unrivalled in the perfection of every earthly principle, classes the Anglican prelate with the dissenting minister, sees no difference between the preacher of the conventicle and the archbishop of Canterbury, and in the comprehensive category of "heretic," erases all Protestant ministers of every grade out of the clerical order. And, indeed, if it be a question between the comparative merits of any particular clerisy, if the genus clergyman be once admitted in Christianity, who would not naturally prefer the type of the whole family to any of the imperfect and mongrel

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