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touching that ministry of the gospel which the apostles left behind them on the earth, as of the characters of them that should exercise this office, which are exp ess in the epistles to Timothy and Titus, and of the manner wherein they ought to exercise it, as is to be seen in Paui's discourse to the Ephe. fian elders, in Peter's exhortation to elders, and in our Lord's commission to ministers, with whom he promises to be present to the end of the world.

It was most necessary, that the Christian law should be ex. press on the characters of the persons that should exercise this sacred office, seeing it is not confined to any fleshly seed or particular family, as was the priesthood under the Old Testament. And if we may not be as certain whom we are to receive as ministers of the word, by the description that the Christian law gives of the persons, as the church of the Jews might be of the descent of their priests from Aaron, we are at a considerable loss beyond them; especially when the New Testament requires fuch duties to be done to them, as cannot be done unless we know them, and contains such threatenings to them that reject them, and such promises to them that give them suitable reception, as must make every true Christian anxious to know who they are ; and for whar end are these characters fo express and particular, if it be not, that we'may by them know who are called of God to that office, and who not ? And can it then be said, without a reflection on the Christian law, that this end cannot be reached by it? or, that we cannot thereby have as great cer. tainty as the nature of the thing requires, concerning them whom we are bound to receive as ministers of the gospel ? If the rule of the New Testament were in all things followe ed, there could be no difficulty in this matter. For no new convert could enter upon the exercise of this office, till he was well known in the Christian society whereof he was a mema ber, and wherewith he assembled, and daily conversed, and which compared him with the description given of a minister of the word by the apostles and evangelists, and this descrip. tion' was the same that is now written to us in the New Testament. In such a fociety did a man then enter upon the exercise of this office, having the apoßolic description of a minister applied to him by a people profesling subjection to Jesus Christ, in submitting to the oversight of an elder or bi. shop called by him to that office. The case of Apollos was a little extraordinary. He had been a teacher among John's. disciples, and was privately instructed by Aquila and Priscill:>, Ver.. 3 L


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who were well known to the church in Corinth ; and they, upon intimate acquaintance with him at Ephesus, where there was yet no church, recommended him to the church in Corioth, where he first exercised the office of a minister of the gospel. However, even in this case, the church where he be, gan his ministry had enough of certainty about his cha. racter.

It is not in the power of any to add to or diminish from the description given of a mioister of the gospel in the New Testament, so as to insist on any qualification as needful that is not mentioned there, or to make any qualification there fpoke of needless. Neither has Jesus Christ, the lawgiver, gi. ven to any ministers or people any power or right whatsoever, to call, fend, elect, or ordain any person to that office, who is not qualified according to the description given in his laws as he has not given any power or right to reject the least of them that are qualified according to that law. Let a man have hands laid on him by men that could prove an uninter. rupted descent of imposition of hands to him from the a. postles, let him be set apart to that office by a company of miniiters the most conformable themselves to the scripture. character of ministers, and let him be chosen by the most hoiy people on earth; if yet he do not answer the New-Teltament description of a minifter (which is possible, if the scripture be not the rule of their judgment in this particular case), he is not called of God to that office, and is indeed no minister of Christ, but runs unfent. And if this be the case, they boast in vain of any manner of election and ordination, who study not conformity to the scripture-description of a minister in the exercise of that office. For no manner of or. dination of ordinary ministers can pretend such a clear foundation in the New Teftament, as the description of the perfons that should be ministers. And they that do indeed study conformity to that description, can fecurely hear their ministry called in question, and rejected by all sorts of men, on grounds whereof the Christian law makes no mention : yca, chcir ministry cannot be rejected, without disobedience to je: sus Christ.

Thus, whoever is conformable to that description the ChriNian law gives of a minister of the word, has all the call and million that the Lord gives any man to that office ; and who. ever wants that, whatever he have, has not God's call.

The only part, therefore, that any fört of men can claim in this matter is that of obedience to the Christian law.

Minifiers, Ministers, elders, or bishops, in this, as in all other things wherein they preside among the Christian people, "are to teach them to observe what Christ has commanded them, and to go before them as their leaders, by doctrine and example, in the way

of faith and obedience to the word of Christ con. tained in the scriptures. They have no power to separate any man to that office whom God has not called. His law gives them only the power of obedience, in feparating the men who are called by him, according to his word : and in this they are not lords over his heritage, but ensamples to the flock which is among them, of obedience to their only Lord.

No people have right to elect any whom God has not call. ed, or to reject those whom he calls; but they must obey him, in receiving and doing all that he requires of them in his word toward them that are by him qualified according to the description given in his law. If they be not capable to discern, by that description, who are called of God to the ministry of the word, they are not capable to give obedience to the Christian law on that head. The only part of the character as to which they are suppoled incapable to judge, is that of aptness to teach, or holding fast the faithful word, as he hath been taught, that he may be able, by found doctrine, both to exhort and convince the gainsayers. If paltors be to judge of this by their skill in the wisdom of words, or the wisdom of the scribe and disputer of this world, which cannot be brought down to the capacity of the Christian people, how can they persuade the people, that any man is called of God to the ministry of the word ? Or, how can the people perceive, that their pastors are leading them in the way of obedience to Christ, in separating a man to that office whom they cannot know that Christ has called ? In this case it is impossible for them to profess obedience to Jesus Chrift, in receiving one of his ministers according to his law : they must inevitably give a blind obedience to their pastors instead of Christ, if these pastors do not instruct them in that wisdom of words, so far as to enable them to perceive that a man is thereby apt to teach. But the New Testament makes the widest distinction betwixt that wisdom of words, and the faithful word, which he that is separated to the ministry of the gospel must be holding fast, that he may be able both to exhort in found teaching, and to convince the gainfayers ; fo that a man may be very learned in the one, and very unlearned in the other. And since the Christian law plainly fels alide this wisdom of the scribe and dispucer of this world, as


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being no part of the description it gives us of a minister of the word of faith, neither pastors nor people have any more to judge of on this head, but the soundness of the doctrine, and aptness to communicate it to others for their instruction, conviction, and comfort. If the people may err, and be miltaken as to this, so may ministers : and what error is there among the people, that has not been maintained by ministers? But still, it they be not able to know this in any measure, they are in no measure capable to obey Jesus Christ, in receiving and submitting themselves to the oversight of his mi. nisters.

The people cannot take impressions made on them by the doctrine, for their rule of judging in this case: for there are wrong as well as right impressions, and these must be judged of by the scriptures, and the faithful word contained in them. There are various impreffions, according to the variety of the situations of the people, yea, and oft times according to their humours: so that it is scarce poffible they can agree in judging by this rule, as they can in perceiving that a man brings sound doctrine to them : and if the faith once deli. vered to the saints be preached to them, whose fault is it that they are not edified ? Yea, and if they were to judge by impressions in this matter, they might come to reject that part of the scripture-doctrine that they did not find impressed on them, as well as the minister that holds fast the faithful word; at least this could not miss to produce the same thing that the Apostle condemns in the Corinthians, that went into parties and factions on their experiences, by means of dif. ferent preachers of the same doctrine.

A people cannot pretend to be obeying Christ in this thing, who are not shewing a regard to all his commands, nor living in subjection to the discipline expressly instituted in the scriptures. Zeal for the good work of obedience to one of his laws, while there is no respect shewed to other as plain laws of his, is utterly inconsistent with the scripture-character of a Christian people. And how can a people pretend a regard to the word of God, in contending for their right of election, who shew not the same zeal for as clear a right of theirs, even the profession of subjection to Christ, in contributing of their substance for the maintenance of their pastors, that fo they who preach the gospel may live of the gospel, as they that ministered about holy things eated of the temple, and they that waited at the altar partaked with the altar? Why do they suffer this right to be wrung out of their hands, and


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yield it up peaceably to any that please to take it from them, while they are so jealous of the least incroachment on the other right?

And as no people can pretend to be obeying Christ in this matter, but they who are studying an universal conformity to the description of a Chriftian people in the New Testament, so no ministers of the gospel can act in it as pastors, but a. mong a Hock hearing the voice of the chief shepherd Jesus Chrilt. Their commission beyond that is only to preach the gospel to every creature : neither can they pretend to be the representatives of the people in the part that the Christian law calls them to act here ; and as little can any part of the people represent another in their obedience to Christ, as to which every one of thein must give an account of himself to God. And why may not the people be as well represented in all the other parts of their obedience to the laws of Jesus Christ?

When a people studying conformity to the scripture-defcription of a Chriftian peple, shall happen to want pastors, and have the Christian law, this want cannot render them incapable of obeying that law, in receiving and submitting to any as their minifters that are evidently qualified according to that law. For they have the apostles ; and though they want elders, they should hear them, and so have elders.

The turning of the part that men have to act in the ordi. nation of ministers, out of the channel of humble obedience to the plain word of God, has been the spring of all the confusion and disorder that has taken place in the world a. bout the ordination of ministers. When the wisdom of man made bold to make the least alteration in one point of the divine institution, it was for this end, to recommend Christianity more to the world : and this end was steadily pur. sued by the covetousness and ambition of the clergy, and the carnal zeal of the people for the worldly honour of Christianity, and their own ease, till it became a worldly religion. One alteration in this point, as well as on other heads, made way for another to support that, and so on, till the world was filled with usages, regulations, constitutions, and laws, which came to be more attended to than the word of God, that was in effect made void by the keeping of these. And while such wise regulations came in, upon pretence of unity, order, and decency, but ferved mainly to the worldly exaltation of the clergy, and carnal ease of the people, they have



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