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believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? Rom. x. The design of this appointment is explained by the apostle, when he shews the object which God had in view in raising up different kinds of teachers in the beginning of Christianity. He gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.
There may be discovered in the New Testament, as it appears to the writer, and especially in those parts descriptive of it in its latest and most settled state, those three distinct orders of ministers which the Church of England adopts. The late Mr. Hey of Leeds has drawn out the proofs of this from the New Testament in a very simple and perspicuous manner. It is allowed that the terms Bishop (επiσnoños, overseer) and Elder, (geσCUTEρos, whence the English word Priest) are used for the same kind of ministers in the New Testament. It is clear that this office was distinct from that of the Deacon, which was probationary with respect to a higher office. 1 Tim. iii, 1–13.
The question then comes, Are there proofs that there was a superior class of ministers to those called by the
*The Author wishes as much as possible to abstain from controverted ground, but while Christians of other communions, in valuable and practical works, give views in which he cannot concur, he feels called on to give this statement. He concurs, however, in Professor Campbell's remarks, that the question so much agitated in regard to the original form of government established by the Apostles, though not trivial, is by no means of that consequence which some warm disputants would affect to make it. The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righ teousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ, is acceptable to God, and approved of
name of Deacons and Presbyters, or Bishops? an office.
The last book of Scripture, written when the church was in its most settled state, contained epistles addressed to one called the angel, whom the address to as an individual, and other circumstances, naturally lead the mind to suppose to have been a single superintending minister. It is evident that at Ephesus there was more than one presbyter; (Acts xx, 17.) and that the angel or superintending minister had exercised a judgment over others who pretended to be apostles. Rev. ii, 2. This appears then a strong confirmation of the fact of a single superior minister, call him by what name we please, presiding over others, at least in meetings of the clergy. This has been allowed by candid Presbyterians.+
* "We see," Hoornbeck justly remarks," that the Apostles in their writings were far more solicitous about the virtues than the degrees of ministers; and more described and inculcated the duties that become that state, than determined the form of government."
+ The Author would too far depart from the subject of the Treatise, to enter into proofs which might be drawn from the
nature we see no form nor comeliness in Christ, no beauty in him that we should desire him. Hence the Apostle tells us, that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. When taught by this Spirit, the soul supremely values and eagerly thirsts after the knowledge of Christ, and feels and says with the Apostle, I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. Phil. iii, 8. The atonement and intercession of our Lord Christ, his love and grace, his tenderness, sympathy, and compassion, are discerned by us, and applied with power to our hearts through the teaching of the Holy Ghost, in the ministry of the word. Jesus Christ, and him crucified, is the very substance of a faithful ministry, and such preaching is in demonstration of the spirit and of power, and Christians can say of such truths, God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit. 1 Cor. ii, 1-10. To preach Christ is the Minister's work; to hear Christ is the people's; but to reveal Christ is the express office of the Holy Ghost. If any of my readers have hitherto felt little value for Christ, and little love to him, and feeble desires after him, they may here see the true cause—a want of the special aid of the Holy Ghost. O let it be our great concern to obtain this inestimable benefit; let it be our great desire that the Holy Spirit may discover the glories of the Saviour, as exhibited in his word, that our hearts may be drawn to him.
(2.) The Holy Spirit makes THE WORD OF CHRIST
A SOURCE OF GREAT COMFORT AND GLADNESS.
This is one important part of the ministry. The blessed Spirit gives the direction to ministers, Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem:
he makes it their office to comfort them that mourn. But all their ministrations are only instrumental. It is the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, who teaches you all things, and brings all things to your remembrance. Therefore when the hearts of the disciples were troubled at the thoughts of losing their Lord, he dwells on the work of the Holy Spirit as a comforter-I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth: I will not leave you comfortless, I will come unto you. Indeed, all his purifying and sanctifying influences are calculated to produce this effect; the fruit of the Spirit being love, joy, and peace, must console and gladden. What a cheering and delightful effect of the Gospel is here! Christian reader, all your joy and peace in believing, and all your abounding in hope, is through the power of the Holy Ghost. He applies the blood of Christ, as shed for sinners, with power to your conscience; he gives you the full assurance of hope; he causes you to rejoice in the Lord. When you are burdened by sin, when you are desponding under a sense of your guilt and weakness, when you are ready to sink under your own unprofitableness and deadness, then the Holy Spirit can and does revive and console by some sweet promise, and cheer the heart by bringing before us the love of our Heavenly Father, and the bowels of compassion in our gracious Redeemer. Like the gentle and tender dove, the Holy Spirit comes down and lights upon us, and soothes, and tranquillizes, and gladdens. He kindles a holy fire, and yet fills us with inexpressible meekness, kindness, and gentleness. O the blessed state of that mind in which the Holy Ghost ever reigns, and which he ever replenishes!
(3.) The work of the Spirit through hearing, is also
compared to AN IMPRESSION MADE BY A SEAL. whom ye also trusted after that ye heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation; in whom after that ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise: (Eph. i, 13.) sealed unto the day of redemption. The end of sealing is to mark for one's own, by stamping an impression similar to the seal. Thus God's children are by his Spirit made like him in holiness, and receive the assurance that they belong to God, and shall partake of the heavenly inheritance. Eph. i, 14. The blessed Spirit, when truly received, produces all holy dispositions. He humbles the proud heart. He makes the word powerful like a hammer, to break in pieces that which is hard. Jer. xxiii, 29. The great and exceeding precious promises received by faith, fill the heart with love to God, and love to man, and we become partakers of the divine nature. Spirit gives a cleansing and sanctifying power to the word, (Eph. v, 26.) and fills the believing hearer with full assurance of hope and joy in the Holy Ghost. The statutes become the rejoicing of the heart, and our heritage for ever. These, and similar holy and happy graces and tempers, are the marks of this Divine seal. O that every reader may be able to discern them in his
own soul !
Such being the gracious character of the work of the Spirit, how invaluable is HEARING THE TRUTH AS
ONE OF THE ORDINARY AND APPOINTED MEANS BY WHICH GOD CONVEYS THIS INESTIMABLE
GIFT! This is the way in which God bestows his grace. We receive the promise of the Spirit by the hearing of faith; it is that divinely-instituted plan, with which God's power concurs. It has been observed by Maclaurin, that there are two great principles of