« PreviousContinue »
man that needeth not to be ashamed. Whence shall an enlightened min. The best way to secure this recog. istry arise ? The only source of a nition, is to submit himself to the ministry is, by supposition, the exexamination of a body of men com- isting clerical body, now in a state petent to judge, who are already of entire defection from the truth, engaged in the work, who have the and alert to detect and crush every public confidence, and who by re- germ of piety which may appear ceiving him to their fellowship, and among them. The Congregational recommending him to the churches, theory owns no such deference to a can open to him a door of useful. corrupt clergy. The disciple of
And the extreme difficulty Christ who would serve him as a of establishing one's self in the con- preacher of the Gospel, asks for the fidence of Christians as a competent approbation of the presbytery-but teacher of religion, and of trust. if the presbytery itself has aposta. worthy character, will always be a tized from the true faith, and consafeguard against the intrusion of sents to license and ordain none but superficial and erratic men into the errorists, he needs not their permisministry. Any man may devote sion to be a herald of the cross. himself to the work of preaching And the church which receives him the Gospel ; but it will be to no pur and hears the pure word from his pose, unless he can get hearers, and lips, can make him its pastor, and unless he can inspire the Christian invest him with all ministerial precommunity with confidence in his rogatives, unaided by clergymen, disposition and ability to be useful and even if opposed by their whole in that capacity.
body. The truth and beauty of this the. Indeed, the fundamental principle ory will better appear by contrast that all ecclesiastical power resides with the hypothesis of a clerical suc. in the individual church, supposes cession. This supposes that minis. the church has a right to adopt any ters of the Gospel are clergymen rules and measures not inconsistent who derive their right to preach and with the end of its being. It may administer Christian ordinances from divest its religious teacher of every their predecessors in the ministry. vestige of official authority in the Men not ordained to the work by church. It may dispense with all clergymen, bishops or presbyters, it permanent officers, and commit the is claimed, have no right to exercise government, discipline, and chari. the sacred office. Whoever enters ties of the society, to temporary the ministry, without ordination by presidents and committees. We clerical hands, is called an intruder. speak of the abstract power and On this hypothesis rest mainly the right, the exercise of which can not spiritual despotisms of Christendom; be wise, unless in very extraordinary by this door the principal corruptions cases. The same may be said in of religion have entered ; from this regard to the deposition of officers. source arise, supported by Erastian. Our churches, by tacit consent, and ism, the most formidable obstacles in some cases, by constitutional proto the reformation of the fallen visions, commit the trial and de. churches of the old world. When position of pastors to the judgment error has once enthroned itself in the of their peers. But originally and clerical body, what power is there fundamentally the power lies in the to exorcise the foul spirit? The church ;* and it may be exercised piety of the people must languish under its malign influence. Who
*“ The church by voluntary subjection shall lead them to Christ, when their gives them this united right of rule to be
exercised over them, and this is their outonly authorized guides are blind ? ward calling by which they are warrantVol. IV.
in the last resort, if the ministers in- pendent, local associations, formed sist on imposing on a church a pas for the purpose of maintaining the tor in whose character and qualifi. worship and ordinances enjoined in cations the people have no confi- the Gospel. The invisible church dence. The deacons also hold their is known only to the Searcher of office by the vote of the brother hearts. The universal visible church hood, and are liable to be deposed possesses no ecclesiastical powers, for incompetence, or improper con. exercises no authority, has no rep. duct, or false doctrine.
resentative, utters no voice. It has A condensed statement of this no lawgiver, and no ruler but outline of what we esteem the true Christ and of course no member theory of the Christian church and has any official preeminence among ministry, may display our views in his brethren. And all the members a still more distinct and luminous have a right-an equal right—10 light. We believe the church is to employ their property, their pens, be taken not merely as an invisible their lips, their whole influence, in brotherhood of believers in Christ, the way they deem most conducive but also, first, as a visible communi- to the glory of God and the well ty, embracing all who publicly own being of man. But in the local Christ as their Lord and Savior, churches there is church power. without being organized by the ap. They are organized societies. In pointment of officers, and the adop- them, ecclesiastical authoriiy resides lion of a constitution and by-laws: -authority not over sister churches, and secondly, as a number of inde. but simply over their own members,
ed to act, and to put forth their abilities society in a just way, may be directed, and ministerial authority over such a peo
censured, reformed, removed, by the pow. ple."
er of the whole, and each may and should " Hence again, they do not give the judge with the consent of the whole: power (which formerly they had) away
this belongs to all the members, and there. from themselves, and cease to be what
fore lo any that shall be in office, if they they were, as in civill offices, and amongst
. civill persons it usually fals out. A man
be members. They are superior as offi
cers, when they keep the rule : but infe.
rior as members, and in subjection to any sels his office, and ceaseth to be what he was before he sold it. It's not so here;
when they break the rule. So it is in but by voluntary subjection, they give an
any corporation; so in the Parliament.
The whole can censure any part." united right to another, which none, nor all of them ever had formaliter, but tir. 192, and 188.
Hooker's Survey, part 1, chap. ri, pp. 191, tualiter only, and therefore the power of judgement over each other they keep still, The frequent reference we have made and can by that proceed against any that to Hooker's Survey of the Summe of goes aside, though he was an officer. Church Discipline, for the purpose of
“It's true, the officer may by a superior showing the coincidence in important par. united right, call them together, they can ticulars, between the views of the first not refuse. He may injoive them to hear, churches of New England and our own, they may not withdraw. He may injoin disposes us to cite a passage from his pre. them silence, if they shall speak disor- face, in which he gives us his own testi. derly or impertinenily, he may dissolve the congregation, and they must give way “ in all these (the positions maintained while he delivers the mind of Christ out in my book) I have leave to professe of the gospel, and acts all the affairs of the jointe judgement of all the elders uphis kingdome, according to bis rule; and on the river: of New-haven, Guilford, as it suits with his mind; he is thus above Milford, Stratford, Fairfield: and of most the whole church : but in case he erre of the elders of the churches in the Bay, and transgresse a rule, and becomes a de. to whom I did send in particular, and did Jinquent, he is then liable to censure, and receive approbation from them, under they may proceed against him though not their hands: of the rest (to whom I could by any power of office, for they are not not send) I cannot so affirm; but this I officers, but by power of judgement which can say, that at a common meeting, I was they do possesse."
desired by them all, to publish what now " Hence each man and member of the I do."
and in the management each of its own affairs belongs naturally to corown affairs. They have officers porations of all descriptions, and the chosen by the brotherhood, invested exercise of the right inspires only a with just such powers as custom or becoming self-reliance.
And assothe by-laws confer upon them. The ciations of freemen are always conofficers are entitled to obedience ducted with the least friction and within these limits, on the same prin- jarring, by a system of self-govern. ciple that the citizens of a republic ment. Oppression, and not liberty, are bound to obey the rulers of their is the grand source of disturbance in own appointment. Each individual all societies. But, it is said, will not church is competent to decide whom the churches resort to lay ordina. it will hear preach, and what preach- tion, if you allow such ordination to er it will elect to the pastoral office. be valid ? Will they not depose Each has a right to recommend their elders, if you tell them that the whom it will to the confidence of oth. church is the sole depository of eccle. er churches, as suitable persons to be siastical power? No, gentle reader, employed in the Christian ministry. they will do neither of these things, The same right belongs to all church without an urgent necessity. They es, and to all ministers of the Gos. know the value of Christian commun. pel. Yet the injunction, "lay hands ion. They entertain a profound re. suddenly on no man," applies in spect for sister churches and Christian principle to every exercise of this ministers. They will not voluntarily right of recommendation. Neither separate themselves, while their con. individuals, nor churches, nor cler- sciences do not require it. They ical bodies, have a right to encour. can not depart from the general us. age incoinpetent or unworthy per. age of the churches in these particu. sons, to assume the responsible work lars, without bringing on themselves of the ministry. Nor may any one a heavy weight of odium. Why not? church decide who shall, or who Because it is manifestly for the wel. shall not break the bread of life to fare and safety of the churches, that other churches. Nor has any num. they should receive no candidates ber of churches, or body of minis. for the ministry, but such as can ters, authority to prohibit any one command in their favor the testimo. from preaching as an evangelist in nials of men learned in theology. the church universal, or from be. Whatever church disregards this in. coming the pastor of any local terest, must suffer in reputation with church which is disposed to receive the sisterhood of churches, if not for: him. They may refuse to recognize feit their fellowship. The step will whomever they will, as ministers of not be taken for a trifle. Christ, and they may withdraw fel- Do we hear it asked: if it is best, lowship from any church which, in that candidates for the ministry their opinion, gives countenance to should be required to bring a recom. heretical teachers-yet this implies mendation from a board of minis. no authority. It is a mere influ- ters, why should it not be the divine ence, which, when wisely exerted, law of the church that the ministry is generally sufficient to silence an shall perpetuate itself, and all other unworthy preacher, by depriving ingress into the work be prohibited ? him of the ears of the people.
Is not the answer obvious and con. This theory of the Christian church clusive ? Under such a law, every and ministry does not foster in the Protestant minister in the world churches an arrogant spirit, nor dis. would be silenced! The power of orderly measures, as some, reason. excluding all others from the work ing in advance of experience, have would be in the hands of the real imagined. The management of their succession. And who can overlook the difference between investing a by ordination. Enlightened Chriscorporation with power to say au. tians honor their pastors for their thoritatively who shall be received into the ministry, and who shall noto character) doth not communicate the esbe received, and merely recognizing sence of this outward call. that corporation as the most compe
“What is the popish sense here, the
prelates being their proper successors, who tent body to give advice ?
iread in their steps, and keep their path ever contemplates this difference in for the most part in church discipline, corall its bearings, will smile that so dially and privily maintain, though they frail an argument for a clerical suc.
be not so willing openly to professe; and
therefore, though ihey will not have all cession should have been suggested. the world know that ihey hold seven sa
We feel satisfied, (is not the read. craments (and so that of order to be one) er?) that this theory is not liable to
by full expression, yet they intimate some
such thing by the ambiguity of their lan. the charge of fostering “lay pride,"
which those who are their familor
“lay anarchy." Anarchy is the iars can easily scent out: as namely, there other extreme to which despotism are but two sacraments absolutely necesruns, and not a natural development and those necessary, though not absolutely
sary to salvation : q. d. there are more, of liberty.
necessary to salvation. Nor is there any dishonor done to “ But for the indelible character that the Christian ministry, or the pas- formality of a priest, that to mine own
should come from hence to make up the toral office, by this theory. The
knowledge I have heard stoutly defended honor of a minister lies in the goods and determined in the schools of the Uniness and greatness of his work, and versity. in the faithfulness and ability with
" It were worth the wbile, if we could which he fulfils it. The honor of pry a little narrowly into this conceit,
that we might discern what is the fashion forsaking the distinctions of this of this character, when it is expressed to world for a life of privation and toil, the full; that we might find some footstep in the service of the Redeemer, can
for a man's fancy to stay upon. not be enhanced by any exclusive this speculation is so high, that it forced
“The refined secrecy and subtilty of right to be so employed. That all
That all the schoolmen to snuffe' the candle so men who have the requisite talents neer, that they put out the light. and education may enjoy this privi.
“For first, they will have it to be a lege, does not impair the honor of quality divers from grace, onely a prepa.
. the actual enjoyment by those few “Secondly, it must be common to all who conquer all the obstacles in that receive the sacrament, truly or faintheir way, and endure hardness as
“i Thirdly, it must be fixed and engra. good soldiers of the cross of Christ. ven in the soul in that indelible manner, Nor is the respect with which min. 80 that it cannot be blotted out, nor burnt isters of the Gospel should wish to out in the flames of hell: and in truth,
we cannot easily see the sleight and cun. be regarded, dependent in any meas
ning in carving out this character; for the ure on the superstitious conceit of a ayme of this device was threefold. sacred character* imparted to them “First, that the dignity of the Episco.
pacy might be advanced and thence it
was, whatever action carries an eminen* The intelligent reader will find amuse- cy in any kind, or might cause and cast ment if not instruction, in the felicitous
a reflection of respect upon it, that must humor and scorching ridicule, with which be given to it, that so men might have an in the following passage, our judicious eye thereunto, and a speciali reference Hooker, the first pastor of the church in and dependance thereupon. Hartford, Connecticut, exposes the ab. “Secondly, that the honor of priest. surdity of this ambitious and incompre- hood (as papists and prelates speak) might hensible conceit of papal Rome, and of be maintained, some speciall excellency some in a sister church of our day. must be left upon it: and because the
“Ordination (as it is popishly dispen- basenesse of the carriage of that popish sed under the opinion of a sacrament, and crew might bring their persons and places as leaving the impression of an indelible out of esteem, therefore they must have
works' sake-for the good they longing to an order of Christian apdo—not for the pretense of be- bles.
inay have it.
some character that could not be defaced : of a quality. Some in the second. Othbecause their leudnesse and wickednesse ers choose the third. Others the fourth. was such, that it would deform the very And all these are like the Midianites, at impressions of morality, therefore they daggers drawing among themselves, seek devised such a character that should be by might and maine how to confirme their engraven so deep, that the most abomina- own imagination, how to confute other. ble prophanenesse of hell itself should “ Thus, when they would have it, they not eat it out to eternity.
cannot tell where lo find it, where to set it. “ Thirdly, because the right of the one, “ Some will have the understanding 10 in what he gave, and the worth of the be the subject of it, as Thomas. Some other, in what he received had no reali. the will, as Scotus. ty; therefore they must joyne something, “ That it is no saving grace, they will as a farre fetched conceit, that the secre- all confesse; because the worst of men cy might hold men in admiration of, that which passed their apprehension, and
" That it is no common grace,
because thence came the minting of this mysteri. it doth appertain onely to some persons ous nothing
in order. " This indelibilis character comes out of “But it must be a supernaturall quality the forge of Popery, and is so besooted which perfects the soule, and makes a with the smoake of the bottomlesse pit, man like to Christ, and continues with and carried along in the fogs of the mys
him in hell. A pretty tale. teries of iniquity, that by a secret sleight “A man must have a supernaturall grace, it hath eaten insensibly into the orders of and have it for no end, when he hath it, Christ before the world was aware. and that to conforme a man to Christ in
" And hence it is, the schoole, who hell. This must perfect the soule, when commonly when they attend their own
the soule hath all evils in the full sourse liberty of dispute, will speake out: they and perfections of them. are so dazzled in their own sayings, that “It's a common quality in regard of they doe in issue, as much as professe,
man's nature. It's not omni nor soli, they know not what they say.
(it belongs not to the whole man nor to a “Some, that it cannot be gathered from part only.) And it hath no speciall insepthe sacred Scriptures, nor the testimony arable principle in the soule, which should of the Fathers, nor from naturall reason. make it inseparable. “Others, that authority onely gave it
“ So the sum which returnes, after so life, and that non multum antiquam, (not much adoe, is this: We have found a very ancient.)
mysterious nothing, which cannot enter “Some, that reason doth not demon. into the imagination of a rationall man; strate it, nor evident authority prove it. onely, if any will admire and adore the
· Nay, lastly, that the determination of device, that he is not able to discerne, he the church (in whose bowels it was bred, may; and truly make bis ignorance the and had its being, if any where) is not
mother of that devotion. expresse in the point.
“ Thus we have taken leave to sport *. And hence they cannot tell what to ourselves, as it were, in this weary travmake of it; one while it's ens relatum, (a ell, with this speculation of the popish thing subsisting in a relation,) as Durand vassals and the prelacy; which is not al. and Scotus. Another while it must be together unusefüll, if it was for nothing ens absolutum, (an independent subsis. else but this, to shew how wily the vaine tence,) as Thomas. Whether to refer it, minde of man is, to coyne devices, to they cannot conclude.
darken the truth of God, and to delude “Some will have it in the first species itself."-Survey, part II, chap. ii, p. 49–52.