No appearance of furniture, real or pretended, can warrant a man’s exercising of the ministry, unless he have a regular call. That all may prophesy one by one is indeed hinted in the sacred records: but there it is evident inspiration treats of what pertains to extraordinary officers in the church; hence there is mentioned the gift of tongues, extraordinary psalms, revelations: the all that might prophesy are, therefore, not all the members of the church; not women, who are forbid to speak in the church; but all the extraordinary officers called prophets, 1 Cor. xiv. 31. The all that were scattered abroad from Jerusalem, and went about preaching the gospel, Acts viii. 2, could not be all the believers; for there remained at Jerusalem a church of believers for Saul to make havoc of. It must therefore have been all the preachers, besides the apostles. To strengthen this, let it be observed, that the word here rendered preaching is nowhere in Scripture referred to one out of office: that every one of this dispersion, we afterward hear of, are represented as evangelists, pastors, or teachers, Acts ix. 1, 11, 19, and xiii. 1. Parents and masters convey the same instruction that ministers do; but with a different authority: not as ministers of Christ, or officers in his Church. If other gifts or saintship entitled to preach the gospel, wo would be unto every gifted person, every saint, that did not preach it. If our adored Redeemer refused the work of a civil judge because not humanly vested with such power, will he allow his followers to exercise an office far more important, without any regular call? His oracles distinguish between the mission of persons, and their gifts, sometimes called a receiving of the Holy Ghost, John xx. 21, 23.
To render the point incontestably evident, he demands, how men shall preach except they be sent? declares, that no man rightly taketh this honor to himself but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. “I sent them not, therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord.” The characters divinely affixed to ministers, preachers, or heralds, ambassadors, stewards, watchmen, angels, messengers, brightly mark their call and commission to their work. The inspired rules for the qualifications, the election, the ordination of ministers, are divinely charged to be kept till the day, the second coming of Jesus Christ. For intermeddling with the sacred business without a regular call, has the Almighty severely punished numbers of men. Witness the destruction of Korah and his company; the rejection of Saul; and the death of Uzza; the leprosy of Uriah; the disaster of the sons of Sceva, &c., Num. xvi.; 1 Sam. xiii.; 1 Chron. xiii.; 2 Chron. xxvi.; Acts xix.