Of the Ordination and Duty of Ministers.
That the ordination of pastors is an ordinance of Christ, the sacred volumes clearly prove. Through election by suffrages (or votes) Paul and Barnabas ordained elders (presbyters) in every church, Acts xiv. 23. By Paul’s inspired orders Titus was left at Crete to ordain elders (presbyters) in every city, Tit. i. 5. By the laying on of the hands of the presbytery was Timothy himself ordained: he was apostolically authorized and directed to ordain others; and informed that these directions are to be observed, till the day of Jesus Christ, 1 Tim. iv. 14, 15.
That not election, but ordination, confers the sacred office is no less evident. Election marks out the person to be ordained; ordination fixes the relation of a candidate to a particular congregation, upon receiving a regular call; while at the same time it constitutes him a minister of the whole catholic Church. Ordination made men presbyters and deacons, which were not so before. If a person be destitute of the distinguishing ministerial gift, or any other essential qualification, ten thousand elections or ordinations cannot render him a minister of Christ. But solemnly tried and found qualified, he is to be set apart to the ministry, by prayer, fasting, and laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
Nowhere in the heavenly volume do we find either precept or example that Christian people have a whit more right to ordain their pastor, than midwives have to baptize the children they assist to bring forth. Ordination appears to have been performed by apostles, by evangelists, and by a presbytery, Acts vi. 6, and xiv. 23; Tit. i. 5; 1 Tim. v. 22, and iv. 14: but never by private Christians. Could these ordain their pastors or other ecclesiastic officers, to what purpose did Paul leave Titus at Crete to ordain elders in every city? or why did he write never a word about ordination to the people, in any of his epistles, but to their rulers?
Thus regularly ordained, the Christian pastor must enter upon his important work. Endowed with spiritual wisdom and understanding; possessed of inward experience of the power of divine truth; inflamed with zeal for the glory of God, love to his work, and compassion to the perishing souls of men, he is to endeavor to acquaint himself with the spiritual state of his flock; and to feed them, not with heathenish and Arminian harangues, but with the gospel of Christ, the sincere milk of the word, diligently preaching and rightly dividing it, according to their diversified state and condition, 1 Pet. v. 3; 2 Cor. v. 11; 1 Cor. ix. 16. Assiduously growing in the knowledge and love of divine things, he is to instruct and confirm his hearers therein. Every divine truth he is to publish and apply, as opportunity calls for: chiefly such as are most important, or, though once openly