The argument here must turn upon to be permanent in the Church; there what ordination means in the view of was the election of the seven original Congregationalists, and according to incumbents; there was the evident accepScripture, and the manner in which tance of it on the spot; there was the it is described in cases of undoubted induction into the office by their being occurrence. Romanists and other pre- publicly brought forward before the latical sects make it a sacrament by Church in front of the apostles, who which special grace is conveyed through there prayed and laid their hands on the appointed channel of a succession of them. It is true that it was customary episcopally ordained persons descending to pray on many occasions, and to lay in an unbroken line from the apostles; hands upon persons in various relations, and they and others hold that ordination civil and ecclesiastical; but that militates conveys the authority to exercise the not against the fact that when these office to which a person is ordained; so things were done at the induction of perthat, however appointed to it otherwise sons into a Church office, they constiby the Church, he could not enter upon tuted the appropriate ordination. The his duties and so discharge them as that very persons who object to this form in they should be valid, unless ordained the case of deacons, insist on it in the by the prescribed ecclesiastical powers. case of pastors; and yet not one historic This theory of sacramental grace, or instance can be produced from the New mystical effect, or authoritative confer- Testament of its use in the ordination ment of power in ordination, we discard of a bishop or pastor. It is referred to as unreasonable, unscriptural, and of as having been used in the setting apart pernicious tendency. The Congrega- of Timothy to the office of an evangeltional view is well expressed in the ist (who was not a bishop or pastor, but Cambridge platform, adopted by the an itinerant missionary), and in the deschurches of New England, assembled, ignation of Paul and Barnabas for a simby their “elders and messengers,” at ilar work. Yet Paul, in writing to TimCambridge, Massachusetts, in 1618, othy as to the ordination of proper perwhich declares as follows:

sons for bishops and for deacons, says

subsequently in reference to the whole “This ordination we account nothing else subject, and therefore to both offices, but the solemn putting a man into his place

** Lay hands suddenly on no man.” This and office in the Church, whereunto he has a right before by election; being like the install

shows beyond controversy that the laying of a magistrate in the Commonwealth. ing on of hands was considered a charOrdination, therefore, is not to go before, but acteristic part of ordination, so that it to follow election. The essence and substance

was used by Paul, in the expression just of the outward calling of an ordinary officer in the Church doth not consist in his ordi- quoted, to represent the entire service.

In the face of this scriptural phraseology nation, but in his voluntary and free election by the Church and his accepting of that elec

and of the attending circumstances of tion; whereupon is founded that relation be- the transaction, it is absurd to deny that tween pastor and flock, between such a min. “the seven” were ordained by prayer ister and such a people. Ordination doth and the laying on of hands, in the only not constitute an officer, nor give him the

sense in which Congregationalists use essentials of his office."

the word ordination in connection with Accepting, then, this view of ordination, any office. what case of it can be presented from 2. The same report urges that the the New Testament, if not the one in ordination of deacons proceeds on a false the sixth chapter of the Acts ? There idea as to the nature of their office: that was the institution of an office intended it supposes their office to be spiritual,

where it is only secular, having charge work as the whole of religion: “Pure of the charities and other temporal affairs religion and undefiled before God and of the church; whereas ordination means the Father is this: to visit the fatherless the “ conveying or recognizing spiritual and widows in their affliction, and to authority.” This objection fills one with keep himself unspotted from the world.” astonishment at the confusion of ideas Deacons are not, indeed, the teaching exhibited, and at its degrading concep- officers of the Church; they were aption of the diaconate. It seems to place pointed to relieve the teaching officers the duties of the deaconship on a level from cares which interfered with public with those of the trustees of a congrega- instruction; but that does not constitute tion, or of the sexton of the edifice, and them secular officers. The outlay of it is based upon a narrow and technical money may be secular in certain circummeaning of the word spiritual, wholly stances, but not necessarily in its use as inapplicable to the case as a mere secu- part of a spiritual agency. A minister's lar charge. To such a view I offer in sermon may be written on very secular answer,

paper, and he may deliver it by aid of. (1) The fact that the deaconship is a the secular art of elocution, but his funcpermanent office of the Christian Church tions are nevertheless spiritual. And as a spiritual body, and has therefore a all that the Cambridge Platform means, spiritual design and spiritual functions. where it

says, “ The office, therefore, be(2) The fact that spiritual qualifica- ing limited unto the care of the temporal tions are required, as well as business good things of the Church, it extends capacity; for the “ seven” were not only not to the attendance upon and the to be “ of honest report” and men “ of administration of the spiritual things wisdom,” but also “full of the Holy thereof, as the word and sacraments and Ghost;” while Timothy was instructed the like,” is, that deacons are not pastors, that deacons should be “grave,” “not but administrators of charities. Its audouble-tongued,” “ holding the mystery thors would be far from denying that of the faith in a pure conscience,” and charity in individuals is a spiritual duty; exemplary as heads of families — quali- or that those who carry the charities of ties not essential to a mere secular office. the Church to the poor, with sympathy,

(5) The fact that their duties are emi- prayer, and kind counsel, are engaged in nently spiritual.

It is a
ingular idea spiritual functions. And it


the that the appointed distributers of the more clearly that they did not regard the charities of the Church of Christ, — they deaconship as a secular office, to which who search out his poor, sick and afflicted ordination would be inappropriate, from ones, and sympathize with their sorrows, the fact that they expressly inculcated and who, in the name of the Church and the duty of ordination to it by the laying its Master, relieve their wants, as on of hands and by prayer. expression of Christian love and unity, And then it might have sufficed as a and of the fact that “whether one mem- reply to the whole objection, that it is ber suffer, all the members suffer with it, simply an argument to show that it is or one member be honored, all the mem- very inappropriate to do what neverthebers rejoice with it;” that they who are less the apostles did, to wit, ordain deaacting out the faith of the Church in the cons in the same way with pastors, declaration of Jesus, “ Inasmuch as ye evangelists, and others, who are suphave done it unto one of the least of posed to receive some "spiritual authorthese my brethren, ye have done it unto ity.” But if ordination simply means an me," should be said to fill only a secular orderly introduction to office, it would office! Why, James has described their seem to be as appropriate to one office



as to another. And so the apostles re- ture of designation to accompany prayer garded it. And if any have an erroneous for particular persons, seeming to point view of what ordination means, incon- them out for the divine blessing Thus sistent with this, let it be corrected. Jacob at his death blessed the two sons

3. An objection urged in other quarters of Joseph, laying his hands on them, and is, that in the apostolic times the laying on crossing them over to place his right of hands had a specific and peculiar mean- hand on the younger to designate him ing which cannot now attach to it, because as the one on whom should come the it denoted and was always accompanied chief blessing. So Jesus laid his hands by the bestowment of the miraculous gifts on the little children when they were of the Holy Ghost. This objection, it brought to receive his blessing, or as Matwill be observed, contradicts the first, thew describes it, where there were which claimed that the laying on of hands brought unto him little children, that he was so common on all occasions of prayer should put his hands on them and pray.” that it did not signify ordination at the This use of the hands for designation in induction into office of the seven. This prayer naturally led to the same thing declares it to have been so specific as to in the bestowment of miraculous powers apply only to the communication of su- on believers, or of healing mercies on the pernatural grace and power. If this sick, as where Peter and John laid hands were true, it would apply only to the on the disciples at Samaria, and Analaying on of hands, and not to public nias on the blind Saul of Tarsus at Daordination by other methods. Moreover,

The idea of designation, again, if the objection be valid, it holds equally would bring the same form into use, in good against laying on hands in the ordi- the setting apart persons to a new and dation of a pastor or of an evangelist. specific office or work, especially if prayer And there the Episcopal ordination ser- was offered at the same time in their vice is exposed to just criticism; for the behalf. Hence, when Moses publicly officiating prelate as he lays hands on designated Joshua to succeed him as the candidate for the ministry says, “ Re- leader of the nation, he was directed to ceive the Holy Ghost for the office and lay his hand upon him before the people, work of a priest in the Church of God, and did so. (Consult Numbers xxvii. now committed unto thee by the imposi- 15 — 23.) Similarly the apostles set tion of our hands." Certainly it is apart the seven original deacons by the difficult to justify such language; for no same sign of designation; so Timothy miraculous spiritual gifts are conveyed, was set apart to be an evangelist by and no prelate can claim that he dispenses Paul and the elders or pastors of the the ordinary influences of the Holy Ghost. Church; so Paul himself, with Barnabas, But no such idea necessarily attaches to was symbolically set apart at Antioch the laying on of hands, though,in apostol- to an important missionary labor, having ic days there often, and perhaps usually been previously designated by name by was an accompaniment of special gifts. the Holy Spirit ; and so he directed TimThese are not mentioned as conferred in othy to “lay hands” on those who should the ordination of the seven, who are said enter upon the office of pastor or of previously to have been “full of the deacon. It is simply a natural and apHoly Ghost," including, no doubt, both propriate gesture, giving emphasis and the ordinary and special influences of direction to the accompanying words of the Spirit. But laying on of hands had prayer and declaration. been customary for ages in other connec- 4. Some have felt that there was an tions, and, therefore, did not necessarily incongruity in ordaining persons to an convey that idea. It was a natural ges- office that was to be held for a brief term

only, as is the case in churches which it is proper in the case of a minister, limit the term of office with deacons to whose whole life is devoted to his one, two, or three years. This may be official work; but does not harmonize a valid argument, so far as it goes, with a deacon, who, during the week, is against limiting the term, which is not occupied as a mechanic or farmer, as a mentioned in scripture; but it can merchant or physician. In reply, it may hardly operate against an appropriate be said that the spiritual functions of the induction into office, which is recorded deacon are none the less worthy of honor in scripture. And yet, in the civil state, because of his daily industry; that ora governor, who is elected for one year, dination respects simply his position in or at the most for two years, is as regu- the church ; that a due consideration of larly inaugurated as is the president, the true unity of all Christian life — who serves four years, or as a king has whether work or worship – would take a coronation, who rules for life. And away all ground for such an objection; while touching on this point, I may say, that the simple fact of scriptural precethat though formerly favorable to limited dent overrides it; and that Paul thought and brief terms in the deaconship, I in- it not beneath his dignity to make tents cline of late more and more to the prim- during six days and to preach on the itive and still customary method of a seventh, and recommended the elders of tenure limited only by good behavior Ephesus to do likewise. Acts xvii. 31, 35. and the pleasure of the Church. The Having thus set forth what appears to idea of a limited term was derived from be the doctrine of scripture on the suba false analogy between the deaconship ject before us, it may not be unwise to and the ruling elders of Presbyterian inquire what have been the opinions and churches, who possess all the power of practice of the Congregational churches the Church, and therefore should be from the revival of the simple New elected, like civil magistrates, for limited Testament polity, two and a half centerms. But deacons have no ecclesias- turies ago, to the present time. tical power, singly or collectively, more What was the opinion of John Robinthan other members, and therefore need son, the pastor of the Pilgrim Church no such check. Moreover, the Church before it sailed for America, may be always has control of the deaconship, gathered from his general remarks in and has a perfect right, at any time, to his “ Justification of Separation from the vacate the office. If, therefore, we think Church of England" (Works, vol. ii. p. how much is gained in point of moral 440): influence by the continuance for many

“I do, then, acknowledge, that where there years of the same good man in that sim

are already lawful officers in a Church by and ple but honorable position, and how much to which others are called, there the former, incidental evil comes with the frequent upon that election, are to ordain and appoint elections to the office, and also remem

the latter. The officers, being the ministers ber, that in large churches, in this chang- (servants) of the Church, are to execute the

determinations and judgments of the church ing land, there will but too often occur

under the Lord — the censures of deposition vacancies by death and removal, we

and excommunication, by pronouncing the shall be more inclined to walk, in this

sentence of judgment, and by it, as by the particular, in the steps of our fathers. sword of the spirit drawn out, cutting off the 5. Yet others, especially among the

officer from his office, and the member from laity, object to the ordination of deacons, the body, and all communion with it. So are

they to execute the people's election, by prothat it does not seem appropriate in the

nouncing the person elect to his office, charg. case of an office which does not require ing him with the faithful execution of it, the entire time of the incumbent; that with imposition of hands and prayer."

The Cambridge Platform gives the would have been totally destitute of any judgment of the New England churches authority to us. This mode of consecration in 1618, when it says,

has in fact been disused in New England to

a considerable extent. For this, however, “Church officers are not only to be chosen

there seems to have been no reason of any by the Church, but also to be ordained by im- value. So far as I have been able to gain position of hands and prayer.” — Chap. ix. information concerning the subject, the dissec. 1.

use was originated at first and has been grad

ually extended by mere inattention; nor is The venerable John Cotton (in his it capable, so far as I know, of

any defence.” Doctrine of the Church, p. 10, as quoted

Punchard, in his “ View of Congregain the Congregationalist of January 27,

tionalism,” says, (Part iv. § 2,) 1865) says,

“ Their acceptance being signified, it is “ When the church hath chosen and called

consistent with the ancient usage of our an officer, they present him to the elders (i.e.

denomination to set them apart to their work of their own church), (1) who doe ordaine

by prayer and the imposition of the hands of him, if he be a deacon, with prayer and im

the pastor. Our churches have not, however, position of hands, (2) and with fasting also,

been very uniform or particular in the pracif he be an elder."

tice of ordaining deacons for more than a Prof. Upham, in his “Ratio Discip- that even in his day (1726) • in many of these

hundred years past. Cotton Mather tells us, linæ,” declares that in modern days the

churches this rite of confirmation is fallen practice has fallen into disuse, but argues into a desuetude.' So at the present time, that it is scriptural; that it was prac- some of our churches ordain their deacons tised by all the early Congregational by the imposition of hands; others do not, churches; that no reason can well be perhaps from the apprehension that false given why it has been neglected; and impressions may be received respecting the

design of the rite, and the nature of the office. that there ought certainly to be some

But if it be distinctly explained, that this public service in the induction of dea

ceremony is simply the act of designating cons. (S 43.)

and setting apart in a solemn manner these Dr. Samuel Hopkins, in his System of men to the appropriate work of the deaconDoctrine (part ii. chap. 5), states the ship, I can see no sufficient reason for dismatter of the deaconship, as to its nature

regarding ancient, and what appears to have

been apostolic usage.” and the ordination thereto, in its scriptural form, as given in the sixth of Acts. Dr. Leonard Bacon, in his “ Manual for

Dr. Dwight is quite earnest on this Young Church Members," in setting forth point. (Works, Sermon, clv.) Quoting primitive and Congregational doctrines, the account in the Acts he says:

says, pp. 59, 60: “ This also is an authoritative example of “Ordination was simply the public inauguthe manner in which deacons are to be intro

ration of a man to a particular work or office. duced into every Church. It is the example of It seems to have been done uniformly with inspired men, and was therefore the pleasure prayer and the laying on of hands. The of the Spirit of God. There is no hint in the

imposition of hands is an ancient Oriental New Testament, nor even in Ecclesiastical form of benediction.

This beneHistory, that they were ever introduced in

diction, this solemn commendation of the any other manner. At the same time there individual to the grace and blessing of God, is no precept revoking or altering the author is all that was meant by the imposition of ity or influence of this example. It stands, hands in the inauguration of Church officers, therefore, in full force, and requires that all

or in the setting apart of a Christian teacher persons chosen by the Church to this office

to the sacred employment of preaching the should be consecrated to the duties of it in

gospel." (Compare also p. 187.) the same manner. It is to be observed further, that if any such alteration had existed

Rev. Dr. Enoch Pond, in his treatise in periods subsequent to the apostolic ago, it entitled “ The Church,” says, (p. 73,).

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