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It is not every affecting view that men have of religious things that is this spiritual and divine light

I. I would show what this spiritual and divine light is. And in order to it, would show,

First, In a few things what it is not. And here,

4. It is not every affecting view that men have of religious things that is this spiritual and divine light. Men by mere principles of nature are capable of being affected with things that have a special relation to religion as well as other things. A person by mere nature, for instance, may be liable to be affected with the story of Jesus Christ, and the sufferings he underwent, as well as by any other tragical story. He may be the more affected with it from the interest he conceives mankind to have in it. Yea, he may be affected with it without believing it; as well as a man may be affected with what he reads in a romance, or sees acted in a stage-play. He may be affected with a lively and eloquent description of many pleasant things that attend the state of the blessed in heaven, as well as his imagination be entertained by a romantic description of the pleasantness of fairy land, or the like. And a common belief of the truth of such things, from education or otherwise, may help forward their affection. We read in Scripture of many that were greatly affected with things of a religious nature, who yet are there represented as wholly graceless, and many of them very ill men. A person therefore may have affecting views of the things of religion, and yet be very destitute of spiritual light. Flesh and blood may be the author of this: one man may give another an affecting view of divine things with but common assistance; but God alone can give a spiritual discovery of them. — But I proceed to show,

Secondly, Positively what this spiritual and divine light is. And it may be thus described: A true sense of the divine excellency of the things revealed in the word of God, and a conviction of the truth and reality of them thence arising. This spiritual light primarily consists in the former of these, viz. A real sense and apprehension of the divine excellency of things revealed in the word of God. A spiritual and saving conviction of the truth and reality of these things, arises from such a sight of their divine excellency and glory; so that this conviction of their truth is an effect and natural consequence of this sight of their divine glory. There is therefore in this spiritual light,

Jonathan Edwards- A Divine And Supernatural Light Immediately Imparted To The Soul, By The Spirit Of God, Shown To Be Both A Scriptual And Rational Doctrine. [Preached at Norhampton, and published at the desire of some of the hearers, in the year 1734.]

Charles Spurgeon’s Letters-Letter 162

TO MESSRS. FULLERTON AND SMITH

MENTONE, 15/1/’84.

DEAR MR. FULLERTON, —

I am in such a position that I must even drive a willing horse beyond reason. I want a paper from you for the Conference.

I have been very ill; I am ill still; can barely sit up. Yet this Conference must be arranged, and I write therefore importunately. Do not deny me. I grant it is too bad, etc. — Grant much more, — I am thoughtless, cruel, tyrannical, mall that is bad.

Still, I beg you to say “Yes.” Some holy spiritual subject. Just handled in your own way.

I groan to see a devout, pleading, spiritual convocation.

You can help towards this as few can. I must be awfully despotic and say you must.

God bless you in Leicester. Best love to Smith and yourself. Oh, that the place may be saved! If any in it love the old truth, may God, our Lord, compel them to come out like men.

Yours heartily,

C. H. SPURGEON.

Is Jesus Enough as your Pastor? (Part 1)

One of the best-loved Psalms in the Bible, Psalms 23, begins by pointing us to the sufficiency of Jesus, our Pastor. What it actually says is, “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.”(In Scripture, the Shepherds and Pastors are one and the same). Of course, when we say Jesus is our Pastor we do not preclude the ministry of earthly pastors or under-shepherds. On the contrary, God ordained pastors play a vital role in God’s purposes here on earth. We should, therefore, value them highly for their labour in the Lord. However, ultimately, we are the sheep of the Lord’s pasture and, as such, we belong exclusively to Him.

This is why we need to keep our eyes on Jesus. We are His, and ultimately He is our Pastor. If we would focus on Him, then there would be less fussing and fighting in our churches. We often have too high an expectation of the Church pastor. This can set us up for needless hurts. We easily forget that he is just another sinner saved by grace. He needs our prayers, love and support. Too many followers of Jesus, however, have ‘Roast Pastor’ for Sunday lunch and then wonder why their children grow up and separate themselves from the things of God.

Our eyes and expectancy need to be on Jesus. He is enough! Get the balance here; while we should support and care for our earthly pastors and obey them in the Lord, at the end of the day, they can never take the place of Jesus. Jesus is our Pastor, and He will never fail us. Someone in spiritual authority may fall short and hurt us, but never Jesus.

Think of it, the follower of Jesus is following a shepherd who is good. He is a pastor who knows each one of us and calls us by name. Are you satisfied with Him? Can you trust Him to lead you in life? Can you get your eyes off men and delight in Jesus, your Pastor? Listen to John MacDuff describe this excellent shepherd of ours; He says,

“Every individual believer—the weakest, the weariest, the faintest—has His attention. His loving eye follows us day by day out to the wilderness—marks out our pasture, studies our needs, and trials, and sorrows, and perplexities—every steep ascent, every brook, every winding path, every thorny thicket.”

No wonder, then, that the scriptures tell us that because Jesus is our Shepherd, we shall not want! Is He enough for us? Look at Him, there He is out in front of His flock leading us to eternal life. He knows the way for, not only has he been over every inch of its trail, He also is the Way.

What a shepherd! He knows us better than we know ourselves (Psalm 139:1-60). He knows our trials and temptations and can help us with every one of them for He has been through them. He has been reviled and rejected for no good reason. He has been slandered and falsely accused. He has been deeply hurt so He knows exactly how you feel. And here’s some good news, He became one of us so that He could faithfully shepherd us to glory (Hebrews 4:15).

Learn to trust Him even in the valley of the shadow of death. That place holds no mystery for Him. He makes the present shadows clear and the ancient darkness light. Follow the shepherd, not men. Respect men in spiritual leadership but always remember the best of men are men at best. Pray for them, hold them before the Lord. Remember, although they are spiritual shepherds, they are themselves sheep. Being that they are human, they have all the inbuilt abilities to fail and make mistakes. Why, then, get bent out of shape if they mess up? The only one who cannot fail is Jesus.

He is enough.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

A Treatise on Church Order: Ministry- Administration of Baptism- Chapter VIII- Section II

CHAPTER VIII

THE MINISTRY

SECTION II.–ADMINISTRATION OF BAPTISM

The apostles were commissioned to preach, to baptize, and to teach. If the office held by ordinary ministers were identical with that held by the apostles, there would be no difficulty in deciding, that it includes the administration of baptism. But the apostolic office has ceased, and the work assigned to the apostles has devolved on inferior officers. The apostles could not, in person, preach, baptize, and teach, in every country of the world, and in every age till the end of time; but the commission made it their duty to provide for the full performance of this work; and their apostolic authority, guided by the infallible direction of the Holy Spirit, enabled them to make all necessary arrangements for carrying it into effect. Now, we cannot determine, from the commission itself, whether to preach, to baptize, and to teach, would be assigned, as distinct duties, to three distinct classes of officers; or whether they would be committed, without separation, to one class. For information on this point, we are left to inquire into the instructions given by the apostles by precept and example.

Some have argued, that, because preaching is a more important work than baptizing, the authority to preach necessarily includes authority to baptize. The greater, say they, must include the less. But this mode of argument is fallacious. The whole includes its parts, but the greater does not always include the less. A high dignitary of the realm may be guilty of usurpation, if he assumes the functions of an humble official. So, though preaching is a higher office than baptizing, it does not necessarily include it.

We learn that the Holy Spirit has called men to preach the gospel, by the qualifications which he has conferred; but we can have no proof of this sort, that the Holy Spirit has called any one to the work of baptizing. Spiritual qualifications are not required; and, if we have no other means of knowing, it may remain doubtful, whether the work may not be done by any one whom the candidate may select.

Among those who have held that baptism possesses a saving efficacy, it has often been a matter of pressing importance, to obtain the administration of it, in case of sickness, when a priest was not at hand. It has been held, that, in case of necessity, the rite may be administered by laymen, and even by women. Some persons who are free from such superstitious reliance on the outward ceremony, have held that any one who makes a disciple, may baptize him. According to this interpretation of the commission, it would be proper for a mother, whose instructions have been blessed to the conversion of her son, to be the administrator of his baptism. But this interpretation is inadmissible. If some of the work to which the apostles were specially appointed, may, to some extent, be performed by other persons, it does not follow, that these persons are invested in full with the apostolic commission.

The commission specifies duties, for the performance of which the apostles were to provide. One of these was the administration of baptism. They were commanded, not to make disciples and teach them the duty of being baptized; but to make disciples and baptize them. The administration of the rite was to be their care; and, where they could not perform it in their own person, it was made their duty to provide for its performance. This reasoning proves satisfactorily, that the administration was not designed to be left to any one whom the candidate might select; and it is confirmed by the words of Paul: “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel.” These words imply, that Christ had sent some persons to baptize. The duty was to be performed; and these words, taken in connection with the fact that John the Baptist and the other apostles were commanded to baptize, confirm the deduction that the work was to be done by agents provided.

On the question, whether the administration of baptism is necessarily included in the commission to preach, or necessarily connected with it, the words of Paul just quoted, throw some light. The word translated “sent,” is the verb from which the word apostle is derived; and, as used by Paul in this passage, it imports that Christ had not given to Paul an apostolic commission to baptize, but to preach the gospel. On comparing the commission given to him, with that given to the other apostles, the difference in this particular is apparent. This proves that the offices of preaching and baptizing were not inseparable. Had the greater included the less, the authority and obligation to baptize were included in Paul’s commission, and he could not have said with literal truth, “Christ sent me not to baptize.” To understand the passage to signify nothing more than that baptism was a less important part of the work which Paul was authorized to perform, does not satisfy the literal import of the words, and it is a departure, without necessity, from the literal interpretation, which is fully sustained by a comparison of Paul’s commission with that of the other apostles. Moreover, the literal import best agrees with the context, since, according to it, the fact alleged by Paul cut off, from those whom he had baptized, all plea to claim him on that account as an apostle for their party leader. If in baptizingthem, he had not acted as an apostle, the fact gave them no pretext to claim him as a party leader in that high character. Had Paul’s state of mind permitted him to preach on the next day after Jesus appeared to him, and gave him his commission, he was authorized to preach; but not to administer baptism. Yet he did afterwards baptize Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas; and he must have obtained authority to do this in some way. In what way? If not by extraordinary commission, it must have been in the ordinary way, in which others received authority to baptize. He received the command to be baptized himself, in the ordinary way, and he honored and obeyed the command. In the same way, he must have received the authority under which he acted, in the administration of baptism.

Although baptizing is not necessarily connected with preaching and teaching; yet the manner in which it is conjoined with them in the commission, appears to indicate that the connection is suitable. No separate class of officers is anywhere provided in the New Testament, for administering the rite, and yet, if we have reasoned correctly, the apostles were under obligation to provide for it. We are led to the conclusion, that this provision was made, in the ordinary method instituted for transmitting the ministerial office. Paul had committed the office to Timothy, in the presence of many witnesses, by the laying on of his hands, and the hands of the presbytery. Timothy was, in like manner, to commit the office to others, and enjoin on them the same duties which Paul had enjoined on him. There was a fitness in the arrangement that this ceremonial induction into office, should add the ceremonial authority to baptize. It cannot be proved to be given, in the internal call of the Spirit. It was not given in the extraordinary commission of Paul. If Paul received it in the ordinary way, whether in his being set apart at Antioch, or in some similar service at some previous time, we have this point established:–the authority to administer baptism is conferred in the ordinary course of the ministerial succession, when an individual, called by the Holy Spirit to the ministry of the word, is publicly set apart to this service. The process of reasoning by which we reach this conclusion, is less clear and direct than that which many other subjects admit; but it is sufficiently clear to determine our practice, in the absence of explicit instruction from the holy oracles. We have, moreover, the satisfaction of knowing that this course of procedure has been generally adopted in the churches which have conformed in their order most nearly to the Scriptures.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology- Volume 2

Another means and method employed by the Spirit to arrest our attention and focus our minds upon distinct portions of the Truth is His use of a great number of “figures of speech”

Another means and method employed by the Spirit to arrest our attention and focus our minds upon distinct portions of the Truth is His use of a great number of “figures of speech.” In them He has arranged words and phrases in an unusual manner for the purpose of more deeply impressing the reader with what is said. The learned author of The Companion Bible (now almost unobtainable) dealt more fully with this subject than any English writer, and from him we now select one or two examples. The figure of anabasis or graduation, in which there is the working up to a climax, as in

“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Romans 8:33, 34).

So again in 2 Peter 1:5-7, “add to your faith virtue… charity.” The opposite figure is that of catabasis or gradual descent, a notable instance of which is found in Philippians 2:6-8.

The more common form of emphasis is that of repetition. This is found in the Word in quite a variety of ways, as in the doubling of a name: “Abraham, Abraham” (Genesis 22:11). There were six other individuals whom the Lord thus addressed: “Jacob, Jacob” (46:2), “Moses, Moses” (Exodus 3:4), “Samuel, Samuel” (1 Samuel 3:10), “Martha, Martha” (Luke 10:41), “Simon, Simon” (22:10), “Saul, Saul” (Acts 9:4). Then there was our Lord’s pathetic “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem” (Matthew 23:37), and His cry of anguish, “My God, My God” (Matthew 27:46); as there will yet be the urgent “Lord, Lord” of the lost (Luke 13:25). Such intensified forms of expression as “the holy of holies,” “the song of songs, vanity of vanities,” and the unspeakable “for ever and ever,” express the same principle. Again,

“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord” (Psalm 27:14);

“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). Yet more emphatic is the “holy, holy, holy” of Isaiah 6:3, the

“O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord” (Jeremiah 22:29), and because it will not, the “I will overturn, overturn, overturn” (Ezekiel 21:27), with the resultant

“Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabitants of the earth” (Revelation 8:13).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Unbelief has been severely punished

4. Our next remark is-unbelief has been severely punished. Turn you to the Scriptures! I see a world all fair and beautiful; its mountains laughing in the sun, and the fields rejoicing in the golden light. I see maidens dancing, and young men singing. How fair the vision! But lo! a grave and reverend sire lifts up his hand, and cries, “A flood is coming to deluge the earth: the fountains of the great deep will be broken up, and all things will be covered. See yonder ark! One hundred and twenty years have I toiled with these my hands to build it; flee there, and you are safe.” “Aha! old man; away with your empty predictions! Aha! let us be happy while we may! when the flood comes, then we will build an ark- but there is no flood conning; tell that to fools; we believe no such things.” See the unbelievers pursue their merry dance. Hark! Unbeliever. Dost thou not hear that rumbling noise? Earth’s bowels have begun to move, her rocky ribs are strained by dire convulsions from within; lo! they break with the enormous strain, and forth from between them torrents rush unknown since God concealed them in the bosom of our world. Heaven is split in sunder! It rains. Not drops, but clouds descend. A cataract, like that of old Niagara, rolls from heaven with mighty noise. Both firmaments, both deeps-the deep below and the deep above-do clasp their hands. Now unbelievers, where are you now? There is your last remnant. A man — his wife clasping him round the waist — stands on the last summit that is above the water. See him there? The water is up to his loins even now. Hear his last shriek! He is floating — he is drowned. And as Noah looks from the ark he sees nothing. Nothing! It is a void profound. “Sea monsters whelp and stable in the palaces of kings.” All is overthrown, covered, drowned. What hath done it? What brought the flood upon the earth? Unbelief. By faith Noa escaped from the flood. By unbelief the rest were drowned.

And, oh! do you not know that unbelief kept Moses and Aaron out of Canaan? They honored not God — they struck the rock when they ought to have spoken to it. They disbelieved: and therefore the punishment came upon them, that they should not inherit that good land, for which they had toiled and labored.

Let me take you where Moses and Aaron dwelt-to the vast and howling wilderness. We will walk about it for a time; sons of the weary foot, we will become like the wandering Bedouins, we will tread the desert for a while. There lies a carcase whitened in the sun- there another, and there another. What means these bleached bones? What are these bodies-there a man, and there a woman? What are all these? How came these corpses here? Surely some grand encampment must have been here cut off in a single night by a blast, or by bloodshed. Ah, no, no. Those bones are the bones of Israel; those skeletons are the old tribes of Jacob. They could not enter because of unbelief. They trusted not in God. Spies said they could not conquer the land. Unbelief was the cause of their death. It was not the Anakims that destroyed Israel; it was not the howling wilderness which devoured them; it was not the Jordan which proved a barrier to Canaan, neither Hivite or Jebusite slew them; it was unbelief alone which kept them out of Canaan. What a doom to be pronounced on Israel, after forty years of journeying: they could not enter because of unbelief!

Not to multiply instances, recollect Zechariah. He doubted, and the angel struck him dumb. His mouth was closed because of unbelief. But Oh! If you would have the worst picture of the effects of unbelief if you would see how God has punished it, I must take you to the siege of Jerusalem, that worst massacre which time has ever seen, when the Romans raised the walls to the ground, and put the whole of the inhabitants to the sword, or sold them as slaves in the market-place. Have you never read of the destruction of Jerusalem, by Titus? Did you never turn to the tragedy of Masada, when the Jews stabbed each other rather than fall into the hands of the Romans? Do you not know, that to this day the Jew walks through the earth a wanderer, without a home and without a land? He is cut off, as a branch is cut from a vine — and why? Because of unbelief. Each time ye see a Jew with a sad and sombre countenance-each time ye mark him like a denizen of another land, treading as an exile this our country-each time ye see him, pause and say, “Ah! it was unbelief which caused thee to murder Christ, and now it has driven thee to be a wanderer; and faith alone — faith in the crucified Nazarene — can fetch thee back to thy country, and restore it to its ancient grandeur.” Unbelief, you see, has the Cain mark upon its forehead. God hates it — God has dealt hard blows upon it: and God will ultimately crush it. Unbelief dishonors God. Every other crime touches God’s territory; but unbelief aims a blo at his divinity, impeaches his veracity, denies his goodness, blasphemes his attributes, maligns his character; therefore, God of all things, hates first and chiefly, unbelief, wherever it is.

Charles H. Spurgeon- “The Sin of Unbelief” A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, January 14, 1855

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This spiritual light is not the suggesting of any new truths or propositions not contained in the word of God

I. I would show what this spiritual and divine light is. And in order to it, would show,

First, In a few things what it is not. And here,

3. This spiritual light is not the suggesting of any new truths or propositions not contained in the word of God. This suggesting of new truths or doctrines to the mind, independent of any antecedent revelation of those propositions, either in word or writing, is inspiration; such as the prophets and apostles had, and such as some enthusiasts pretend to. But this spiritual light that I am speaking of, is quite a different thing from inspiration. It reveals no new doctrine, it suggests no new proposition to the mind, it teaches no new thing of God, or Christ, or another world, not taught in the Bible, but only gives a due apprehension of those things that are taught in the word of God.

Jonathan Edwards- A Divine And Supernatural Light Immediately Imparted To The Soul, By The Spirit Of God, Shown To Be Both A Scriptual And Rational Doctrine. [Preached at Norhampton, and published at the desire of some of the hearers, in the year 1734.]

Charles Spurgeon’s Letters-Letter 161

TO MESSRS. FULLERTON AND SMITH

MENTONE, Dec. 17, [1883].

DEAR FRIEND, —

May the Lord bless your word of yesterday. We did not fail to pray for you. I hope this week will be a happy one for you and for the Tabernacle: may many be decided for the Lord. Here in my rest I am not without opportunities of setting forth Christ, and I hope I shall have a seed for the Lord here also. This rest and reading set me up for the year under the divine blessing.

I am praying that our Weekly Offering this year may not fall short for I am taking more students, and the times need more faithful preachers of the word. I pray that on you and Manton Smith may rest a double portion of the Spirit. Be sure to arrange to be with us next Conference.

Yours ever heartily,

C. H. SPURGEON.

The Wednesday Word – What does that mean? (Pt 5) Soli Deo Gloria

Glory to God alone Romans 11:36

Soli Deo Gloria was one of the five mighty battle cries of the Reformation. It means that we, in all matters, are called to Glorify God alone.

But what does ‘To Glorify’ mean?

It means simply to honour and praise the Lord alone. To Him alone belongs magnificence, excellence, pre-eminence, and dignity. We are called to worship Him. And why not? He is God after all. No man can take credit for what Yahweh has done, and no man can compare Himself to who He is.

He is perfect in all His ways (Deuteronomy 32:4). Soli Deo Gloria.

He is Light (1 John 1:5). Soli Deo Gloria

He is Love (1 John 4:16). Soli Deo Gloria.

He is Fire (Hebrews 12:29). Soli Deo Gloria.

He is Sovereign (Deuteronomy 3:24). Soli Deo Gloria.

He is Holy (Leviticus 19:2). Soli Deo Gloria.

He is Merciful and Gracious (Psalm 103:8). Soli Deo Gloria.

He did all the work in salvation. He is, therefore, worthy of all the praise and all the honour. Soli Deo Gloria.

He gave us the faith to believe the Gospel. Soli Deo Gloria.

He baptized us into the salvation provided by Christ’s doing, dying and rising again. Soli Deo Gloria.

He ransomed, redeemed and reconciled us. Soli Deo Gloria.

Here’s a striking fact…..all things are for His glory, not ours! Yahweh, speaking through Isaiah (48:11) tells us; “For my own sake, even for my own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.”

God’s salvation is for Himself and for His Glory! Soli Deo Gloria.

Many folks sincerely believe that they give glory to God for their salvation. But it’s all in their imagination for they cannot say that they give glory to Him alone. They are clinging to grace + their contribution of good works. But, this is not Bible salvation. Salvation is of the Lord from beginning to end.

Soli Deo Gloria.

As a result of the Gospel, we can lead lives which glorify God. We have been ransomed, redeemed and reconciled to God Himself in the person of His Son, the God/Man Jesus Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria.

It is no wonder then that Paul says in 1Corinthians 10:31 “Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Soli Deo Gloria.

In practical terms, Soli Deo Gloria means that everything we do is to be done for God’s glory. Man’s pride and glory are excluded. We are to be motivated and inspired by God’s glory and not our own. He is the goal of our salvation. We, of course, are the beneficiaries of His matchless grace, but we are not the center of God’s plan. Ephesians 1:10 informs us of God’s ultimate intention saying, “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:”

That’s how the future looks!

Soli Deo Gloria

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

A Treatise on Church Order: Ministry of the Word- Chapter VIII- Section I

CHAPTER VIII

THE MINISTRY

SECTION I.–MINISTRY OF THE WORD

The ministers of Christ are a separate class of persons, distinguished by a special divine call to preach the word.

A DISTINCT CLASS

The ministers of Christ are, like ordinary Christians, separate from the world. They are partakers of the heavenly calling, by which men are brought out of the world, and made the servants of Christ. In all his epistles to the churches, Paul claims to be a fellow-saint with them, a member of the same spiritual family, and an heir of the same heavenly inheritance. Throughout the Scriptures, the ministers of Christ are spoken of as persons who love Christ, and are from the heart devoting themselves to his service. They must therefore be of the number who are “called to be saints.”

The ministers of Christ are also separate from ordinary Christians. They are one with ordinary Christians, as being called in one hope of their calling; but, besides the call to repentance and faith, which they have received in common with their brethren, they have been called to special service in the Lord’s cause. It is clear, from the Holy Scriptures, that there were, among the first Christians, persons to whom the work of the ministry was specially intrusted. Paul says, concerning these, God “hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.”[1] “Giving no offence, that the ministry be not blamed.”[2] “Who hath made us able ministers of the new testament.”[3] He speaks of himself, as counted faithful; and put “into the ministry;”[4] and of the special grace given to him, that he should preach among the gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.[5] The bestowment by the Holy Spirit of special qualifications for special service in the Lord’s cause, is plainly taught in 1 Cor. xii., and Eph. iv. The inquiry, “Are all apostles? are all prophets?”[6] &c., shows that the offices designated did not belong to the whole body of the saints.

The separation of the ministry from the mass of ordinary Christians, is not like the separation of Christians from the world. In the latter case, they cease to be of the world, and become strangers and pilgrims in the earth. But men who enter the ministry, do not cease to be saints. Saul and Barnabas were separated unto the work to which the Holy Ghost had called them; but this separation did not take from them a place among the saints and faithful in Christ Jesus. John speaks, concerning the whole company of the saints: “We are of God; and the whole world lieth in wickedness.”[7] Here is a strong line of division, like that which separates land and water. But the ministry appears, among the people of God, like the mountains on a continent, forming a part of it, and closely united with surrounding lands. Eminent spiritual gifts distinguish the ministers; but the same spirit that actuates them, pervades the whole body of Christ. All the disciples of Christ are bound, according to their ability, to advance the cause of- their Master, and labor for the illumination and salvation of men: and the diversity of talent among the ordinary disciples, may be compared to the diversity of hill and valley in the ordinary face of the country. But ministers are distinguished, by their superior qualifications for service, from the ordinary mass of Christians, like mountains rising above the common undulations of the surrounding landscape.

The special qualifications which the Holy Spirit bestows, bind him on whom they are bestowed to use them in the service of Christ. They are given to fit him for this service, and they constitute a divine call for him to engage in it. They are not given to confer a privilege merely, but they are a solemn call to duty–a call demanding the service of the whole life.

The apostles, when called by Christ, immediately left their secular employments, and gave themselves ever afterwards to the service of their Lord. Paul, when called, conferred not with flesh and blood. The work of the ministry did not cease, when these holy men left the earth; but other persons have been fitted to carry it on, by the same Spirit that qualified them for the peculiar service. He bestows his gifts “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”[8]

The ministers of Christ are not a separate class of men in such a sense as to constitute them an organized society. They are fellow-laborers in the Lord’s service, but have no power over one another; and have no authority from Christ to combine themselves into an ecclesiastical judicatory to exercise power in any manner. They are all on a level as brethren; are the servants of Christ, and the servants of the churches.

THEIR WORK

The special service for which the ministry is designed is the preaching of the word. The obligation to spread the knowledge of Christ is shared, to some extent, by all Christians. The effectual call of the Holy Spirit, by which any man is brought to repentance and faith, imposes on him an obligation to show forth the praises of him who hath called him out of darkness into his marvelous light; to let his light shine before men, that they, seeing his good works, may glorify his Father in heaven; and to hold forth the word of life. Every Christian is bound to do what he can for he conversion of others, and for spreading the knowledge of the truth. But special gifts are conferred on some, accompanied with special obligations. These constitute a special call to the ministry of the word.

During the Saviour’s personal ministry he made many disciples: but he did not intrust to them equally and indiscriminately the work of spreading the knowledge of his religion. He sent forth seventy with a special commission to preach the kingdom of God. He chose the apostles to be his immediate attendants and special witnesses, and gave them a commission–“Go preach the gospel to every creature….Go make disciples, teaching them,” &c. Preaching and teaching were prominent and important parts of the service required of them. When Paul was made an apostle, the commission to him, as explained by himself, was to preach the gospel: “Christ sent me, not to baptize, but to preach the gospel.” The obligation which he felt to perform this service was beyond that imposed on ordinary Christians, and was exceedingly pressing: “Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel.”[9] With him, to preach the gospel was not to utter a proclamation in a brief sentence; but at Troas he preached to a late hour of the night. In his ministry teaching was conjoined with preaching, and included in it: “Whereunto I am ordained a preacher and an apostle, a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. “[10]

The obligation of particular men to give themselves to the ministry of the word was intended to be a perpetual arrangement, and not confined to the ministers appointed by Christ in person. Timothy was specially appointed to this service, and was commanded, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all long suffering and doctrine.”[11] “Make full proof of thy ministry.”[12] “Neglect not the gift that is in thee.”[13] A special gift and a special obligation are here clearly recognised, and the duty to be performed is clearly preaching, in the comprehensive sense in which teaching is included. Paul had committed the gospel to Timothy; nor was the succession to cease in him. “The things which thou hast heard of me, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”[14] Special ability and special obligation to preach and teach were to be perpetuated in men, separated to the service from the body of Christ’s disciples.

THEIR CALL

The ministers of the word receive a special call from God, directing them to the service. The Jewish priests were a separate class of people, distinguished from the rest of the nation by natural descent from Aaron. The Congregation of the Lord was perpetuated by natural descent; and if the Christian church had been a continuation of it, we might expect its ministry to be perpetuated in the same way. But the members of the church are separated from the rest of the world by a divine call; and it is suitable that the ministers of the church should be distinguished in the same manner; accordingly, their designation to office is ascribed to God. “God hath set some in the church, first apostles,” &c., and the qualifications for the work are the special gift of the Spirit.[15]

The Holy Spirit calls to the ministry of the word none but true Christians, members of Christ’s spiritual body. The apostles were chosen to be the personal attendants of the Saviour, and special witnesses of his daily life and ministry. Though he knew, from the beginning, the hypocrisy and treachery of Judas Iscariot, he chose to have a traitor among his witnesses. The blameless character of the Redeemer extorted, even from this man, the testimony, “I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.” This testimony is of great value to Christianity. Had Christ been an impostor, had there been a scheme to deceive the people, Judas must have known it. His testimony, confirmed by his return of the money with which he had been bribed, and by his suicide, banishes every suspicion dishonorable to the Saviour. It was therefore wisely ordered that Judas should be among the apostles. But he was not among them when the last commission was given, under which we now act. When the Holy Spirit calls men to the ministry, he bestows on them qualifications for the work, qualifications both of head and heart. The qualifications of the heart include a sincere desire to glorify God, and save souls; a desire never felt by the unregenerate. Hence, the Holy Spirit never makes unregenerate ministers. When such men enter the sacred office, they, in the language of Paul, are “ministers of Satan.”

As true ministers are members of Christ’s spiritual body, so their ministry is intended for its benefit:–“for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Their office pertains to the spiritual, universal church, of which they are all members. The ministry of some of them may have a relation also to local churches, placed under their special charge; but they serve in these for the good of the whole body of Christ.

In Ephesians iv. 11, Paul enumerates the officers whom God set in the church: “Some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists,” &c. Of these the first three are not confined to local churches, but are ministers of the church universal. This is apparent, from the words of Paul: “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ, in my flesh, for his body’s sake, which is the church, whereof I am made a minister.”[16]

The apostles were, according to the import of the name, persons sent forth. The term is applied specially to those whom Christ sent forth in person, and who are called the apostles of Christ. Paul claimed to be an apostle in this sense: “Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?”[17] And again: “Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ.”[18] Paul numbered himself among the witnesses of Christ’s resurrection, and the apostles were chosen to be witnesses of this fact. Peter, when he proposed the election of one to take the place of Judas, stated the qualifications necessary for an apostle in this manner: “Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.”[19] These qualifications cannot now be found in any man living, and therefore the apostolic office has necessarily ceased.

The name apostle is applied, in another sense, to Barnabas,[20] the companion of Paul. These two ministers had been sent forth by the Holy Ghost, from Antioch, to a special work. Barnabas is probably called an apostle, with reference to this fact; and, in this sense, the term corresponds in signification to our modern name, missionary. Paul and Barnabas had been sent forth as missionaries, on a tour of missionary service.

Prophets were persons divinely inspired to make revelation from God, consisting sometimes in the foretelling of future events. This office was needed, before the volume of divine revelation was completed. The absence of the prophetic gift in modern times, demonstrates that the Holy Spirit, who imparts every needful gift, accounts further revelation unnecessary. The absence of the gift proves the sufficiency of the Scriptures, and the cessation of the prophetic office.

Evangelists were persons employed in the spread of the gospel. They appear to have labored in connection with the apostles, to extend the religion of Christ and plant new churches. They did not need miraculous endowments for their work; and therefore their office continues to the present time. Every minister of the word, when he labors, not for the special benefit of a local church, but for the spread of the gospel, is doing the work of an evangelist.[21] Timothy was required to do this, though remaining at Ephesus, and laboring for the interest of that particular church.

A knowledge of gospel truth, an aptness to teach, and a heart moved by the desire to glorify God in the salvation of souls, are the evidences of a divine call to the work of the ministry. All these qualifications may exist, in a measure, in ordinary Christians; and a proportionate obligation accompanies them, to use them in the Redeemer’s service. No church, no minister of the gospel, can, under a proper influence, forbid the exercise of these gifts, where they exist. Moses repelled the suggestion to forbid some who prophesied; and said, “Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets.”[22] An active, prudent employment of the gifts possessed by ordinary Christians, would promote incalculably the interests of religion; and the restriction of all labor for the spread of the gospel, and the promotion of piety, to a select few, is greatly detrimental to the cause of Christ.

But it is still true, that there are some whose gifts for public usefulness rise high above the rest; and, in bestowing superior qualifications, the Holy Spirit, who divides to every man severally as he will, has indicated his will that the possessor of the qualifications should use them for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

The Holy Spirit works harmoniously in all the parts of his operation. He diffuses one sympathy through all the body of Christ, so that the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee. When qualifications for service are imparted by the Spirit to one member, other members, under the influence of the same Spirit, welcome its service. Hence, every man who believes alone, that he is called of God to the ministry, has reason to apprehend that he is under delusion. If he finds that those who give proof that they honor God and love the souls of men, do not discover his ministerial qualifications, he has reason to suspect that they do not exist. The Head of the church has graciously provided, that in the ordinary course of things, men are able to obtain counsel in this matter, and are not compelled to act on their individual responsibility. If, in some extraordinary case, he calls some men to stand alone, as Elijah did, in defence of the truth, this gives no just plea to others to isolate themselves, and act on their own responsibility, when circumstances do not demand it. Elijah’s proof of a divine call to the prophetical office consisted wholly in his possession of the prophetical spirit; but Elisha had the additional proof, that he had been anointed to the office by Elijah. Such proof, in -ordinary cases, the Holy Spirit has provided for the ministers of the word; and the use of it is necessary to the success of the ministry and the order of the churches.

When any one is introduced into the ministry, the highest responsibility, next to that which he himself sustains, devolves on the ministers with whom he is to associate as a fellow-laborer. On the ministers a peculiar responsibility rests, to pray that laborers may be sent into the harvest; and also to seek out and encourage gifts for the work, and thus continue the succession of laborers. It was made the special duty of Timothy, to look out faithful men, able to teach others, that he might commit the ministry of the word to them. It was to the ministers of the church at Antioch, that the Holy Ghost said, “Separate me Saul and Barnabas for the work whereunto I have called them;”[23] and the public designation of them to the work, appears to have been made by these ministers, doubtless with the concurrence of the church. In this method of procedure, there is an obvious fitness. It was fit that Elisha should be anointed to the prophetical office by a prophet. Men whom the Spirit has filled with a burning desire to preach the gospel, and has qualified for the service, are the most suitable persons to look out aids in the service, and judge of their fitness. Hence the obligation was laid on Timothy, already a minister. Hence the duty imposed on Titus: “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldst ordain elders in every city.” Hence the instructions respecting the qualifications necessary for office, are given in the epistles to these ministers, rather than in those to the churches.

The propriety of ministerial concurrence, in public designation to the ministerial office, appears from the nature of the case apart from apostolic example. But we have apostolic example to assist our reasoning. Saul and Barnabas were solemnly set apart by their brethren in the ministry, with fasting, prayer, and imposition of hands. In this case, he who was not a whit behind the chief of the apostles, bent before those who had no pretensions to apostolic authority, that he might receive the imposition of hands. What a sanction did his act give to the solemn ceremony, and to the established church order, of which it was a part! If such solemn services are appropriate in public designation to a particular service in the ministry, much more are they appropriate when any one enters the ministry itself. We learn from other Scriptures that such services were performed. Paul mentions the appointment of Timothy to the ministerial office in these words: “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.”[24]

It has been a question whether the concurrence of a single minister is sufficient in ordination. We have no explicit instruction on this point. From the instruction to Titus, it appears that he alone was authorized to ordain elders in every city. Yet Paul, though a minister of superior authority, did not ordain Timothy alone. He was the chief agent in the work; and says, “By the putting on of my hands;”[25] but yet he chose not to act alone, and therefore he says in another place, “By the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” The concurrence of a presbytery might not be possible in every city of Crete, where the churches had been recently planted; but where it was possible, even Paul with his apostolic authority chose not to act without it. We have, therefore, apostolic example confirming our reasoning on the subject, that where a presbytery can be obtained, its concurrence ought to be procured. The minister, who, from the direction given to Titus, takes it upon himself alone to ordain to the sacred office, assumes a power which Paul himself did not assume.

The institution of local churches has divine authority, and ought to be respected by every disciple of Christ. It is the duty of every one to become a member of some local church, and walk with the other members in love and Christian obedience. Brethren so connected are bound to exhort one another to diligence in the duties for which they are severally qualified. The obligation of a member to labor in the ministry may be recognised by his church, and the church does not go out of its proper sphere when it exhorts to this duty. Paul directed the church at Colosse, “Say to Archippus, take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.”[26] He did not send the message to Archippus as from himself, but instructed the church to perform this duty. Such exhortation to a minister is therefore proper to be given by a church; and it follows, that a church is not without responsibility as to the question whether its gifted members are using their gifts as they ought. This responsibility makes the church a party in ministerial ordination. We have no express declaration that the church at Antioch concurred in the setting apart of Saul and Barnabas; but it may be inferred, not only from the tenor of the narrative, but especially from the fact that these missionaries, on their return, reported their doings to the whole church.

All the parties concerned in ordination ought to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and act under his influence. The highest responsibility rests on him who is entering the sacred office. He should act under a deep sense of his responsibility, and with a persuasion, the result of prayerful, heart-searching examination, that he is moved by the Holy Ghost. The presbytery have the next degree of responsibility. They should be persuaded that the Holy Spirit has called the candidate to the ministry; and be prepared, under this conviction, the result of due examination, to receive him as a fellow-laborer with them in the Lord’s service. The lowest degree of responsibility rests on the church; but even this is solemn and important. The same Spirit dwells in the ministry and in the churches; and every member is concerned in whatever concerns the spiritual body of Christ. A hearty concurrence of the church is necessary in the ordination; and, without it, a presbytery should never act. When a candidate has the threefold testimony, of his own conscience, of the presbytery, and of the church, he may proceed to labor in the ministry, with an assurance that he is “sent forth by the Holy Ghost.”

Every step in the process of ordination recognises the principle that a divine call is necessary to a proper entrance on the ministerial office. The candidate, the presbytery, the church, all admit it, and act on it. This principle is of great importance to the preservation of a spiritual and efficient ministry; and it cannot be neglected, without immense evil to the cause of pure religion. When a father chooses the ministry as a profession for his son, or when the son chooses it for himself, as he would choose any other profession, the authority of God is contemned, and the holy office profaned. If a church should think that they need a minister, and should conclude to appoint one without regard to a divine call; and if a presbytery should aid them in accomplishing their purpose; the church and presbytery together may make a minister; but he will be, if not a minister of Satan, at the best only a minister of men, and not a minister of Christ.

The divine call is not only indispensable, but it is also complete in itself. The presbytery do not assemble to complete it, but to signify their concurrence in the persuasion that it exists. The earliest and the least hurtful form which the pernicious doctrine of baptismal regeneration assumed, regarded baptism as the completion of regeneration. It did not make regeneration consist wholly in the outward ceremony; but it regarded no one, whatever the Holy Spirit may have effected within him, as fully regenerated, until he had gone through the outward ceremony. A similar mistake has been made respecting the Holy Spirit’s call to the ministry. The call is supposed to be incomplete, until the outward ceremony of ordination has been performed. In both cases a distinction should be made, between what the Spirit does, and what it is the duty of him to do on whom the Spirit operates. The Spirit regenerates; and it is the duty of the regenerated man to be baptized. The Spirit calls to the ministry; and it is the duty of the man so called, to enter on the work of the ministry through all the forms which are prescribed in the word of God. Why the Holy Spirit permits one whom he has regenerated to err so far as to neglect baptism; and why he permits one whom he has called to the ministry to err so far as to neglect both baptism and regular ordination; I as little understand, as I understand why God permitted sin to enter the world. The proof of all these facts is irrefragable; and I am compelled to admit their existence, and believe that God will overrule them for his glory.

OBJECTIONS

0bjection 1.–The doctrine of a special divine call to the ministry, savors of fanaticism. Such a call was suitable to the day of miracles, but now the grace of Cod, like his providence, operates by ordinary means. The Spirit resides in the church and ministry; and what they do, the Spirit does. To expect any other call of the Holy Spirit is fanatical.

Had the objection simply maintained that the Holy Spirit uses means, in calling men to the ministry, the proposition would have been admitted. He uses the word as a means, in his call of men to repentance and faith; and he uses the same word in calling men to the work of the ministry. But the objection marks out another channel in which the spiritual influence is supposed to flow, namely, the church and the ministry; but how can the necessary qualifications for the ministry be derived through this channel? If the grace of God now operates by the use of ordinary means, we know that the word is the ordinary means which the Holy Spirit employs in illumination and sanctification; and the conclusion is rational and not fanatical, that the superior illumination and sanctification necessary for the work of the ministry, are the effect of the same means more successfully employed, or more abundantly blessed. The laying on of apostolic hands could confer spiritual gifts in the day of miracles; but ordaining hands have now no gifts to confer. It is the objection which carries us back to the day of miracles, and expects effects from causes inadequate to produce them. A ministry made by outward ordination, without a divine call, is a curse to the world.

Objection 2.–If a divine call is indispensable to constitute a minister of Christ, since the call is invisible, we can never know who are true ministers.

The supposed invisibility of religion is presented in various forms of objection. It makes the church invisible, and the ministry invisible. But in what sense is religion invisible? The power of gravity is invisible, but we see its effects everywhere; and we feel it binding us to the earth. The influence of the Spirit is invisible, but its effects are seen and felt as certainly as the effects of gravity. The Spirit’s call to the ministry is unseen; but the effects of it have been displayed in the successful conflict which the ministry has waged with the powers of darkness, and in the victories which it has achieved. The history of the world testifies that a divine power has wrought in the ministry of the word; and, wherever the gospel has been faithfully preached, every one has had an opportunity to observe such effects as demonstrate that the ministry of the word is the ministry of the Spirit. Why, then, need we, to render the ministry visible, suppose it to consist in outward form? There is a proper form for the ministry to assume, but the form may be without the power; and the mere form does not constitute a minister of Christ. May we not be deceived in this matter? We may. Ministers of Satan have appeared as ministers of righteousness; and compliance with external forms is a method by which they recommend themselves. We are commanded to try the spirits; and this cannot be done by a mere examination of ordination credentials. An obligation to discriminate otherwise than by ordination certificate, devolves on every church in the choice of its pastor; and on every pastor in inviting a minister to preach to the people of his charge.

Objection 3.–If ordination does not make a minister of Christ, and does not prove a man to be a minister of Christ, it may be dispensed with as useless.

This does not follow. Though it may not accomplish either of these purposes, it may, nevertheless, be of great utility; and if we were wholly unable to see any utility in it, yet, as the will of God, we ought to observe it. Men may be Christians without baptism; and may profess Christ without baptism; but it does not follow, that baptism is useless. The Head of the church has, in his wisdom, made it the appointed ceremony for the Christian profession, and so he has made ordination the appointed ceremony for a regular entrance into the ministerial office. As every converted man ought to profess Christ by baptism, so every one who has been called of God to the ministry, ought to enter on the work by ordination. The proof of the obligation in the latter case, is not so clear from the Holy Scriptures, as in the former, but it is sufficiently clear to guide our practice.

[1] 2 Cor. v. 18.

[2] 2 Cor. vi. 3.

[3] 2 Cor. iii. 6.

[4] 1 Tim. i. 12.

[5] Eph. iii. 8.

[6] 1 Cor. xii. 29.

[7] 1 John v. 19.

[8] Eph. iv. 12, 13.

[9] 1 Cor. ix. 16.

[10] 1 Tim. ii. 7.

[11] 2 Tim. iv. 2.

[12] 2 Tim. iv. 5.

[13] 1 Tim. iv. 14.

[14] 2 Tim. ii. 2.

[15] 1 Cor. xii. 11.

[16] Col. i. 24, 25.

[17] 1 Cor. ix. 1.

[18] Gal. i. 1

[19] Acts i. 21, 22.

[20] Acts xiv. 14.

[21] 2 Tim. iv. 5.

[22] Num. xi. 29

[23] Acts xiii. 2.

[24] 1 Tim. iv. 14.

[25] 2 Tim. i. 6.

[26] Col. iv. 17.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology- Volume 2