Quest. Who have a right to preach the gospel and dispense the public ordinances of religion?
Ans. Without some proper furniture, it is absurd to imagine any should be sent of God to the ministerial work. When the ascended Jesus gave to the church apostles, evangelists; pastors and teachers, he gave gifts to men. Who, saith he, goeth at, any time a warfare on his own charges? What is the furniture, the qualifications prerequisite, according to the Holy Scriptures? A blameless conversation, a good report; experience of the self-debasing work of the Spirit of God; compassion to the souls of men; a fixedness in the Christian doctrines; a disposition faithfully to perform his vows; an aptness to teach the ignorant, and convince gainsayers. Knowledge of languages, knowledge of the history and sciences of this world, are useful handmaids to assist us in the study of divine things. To preach from the oracles of God, without capacity to peruse the original, especially if versant in romances and plays, we abhor and detest. This aptness to teach, however, consists not chiefly in any of these, but in a capacity to conceive spiritual things, and with some distinctness to express their conceptions to the edification of others, in that energy and life, whereby one, as affected himself, declares the truths of God, in a simple, serious, bold, and conscience-touching manner. The difference of this, from human eloquence, loud bawling, and theatrical action, is evident. These may touch the passions, and not affect the conscience: they may procure esteem to the preacher, none to Christ. These are the product of natural art: this the distinguished gift of God, without which, in a certain degree, none can have evidence that he was divinely sent to minister the gospel of Christ.