Page:Tracts for the Times Vol 1.djvu/45

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nised, and the directions thus sanctioned were obeyed, by the primitive believers.

It may not be amiss here to point out a circumstance from which we may most decidedly infer it to have been the will of the Holy Spirit that ordination, or the solemn ceremony above mentioned of the laying on of hands, should be the only mode of admission to the ministration of His gifts in the Church. Were there any one person who might, from the very peculiar circumstances of his call and conversion, have had grounds for conceiving himself entitled to dispense with this ceremony, that person was undoubtedly St. Paul; yet we find that, favoured as he had been, when it was seen meet to send him as an Apostle to the Gentiles, the Holy Ghost deigned to give express directions that he should be separated to the purpose; ordained, that is to say, to such ministry; and that, in compliance with those directions, the heads of the Church at Antioch, when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them[1], sent him and Barnabas away.

The Apostolical commission.The Church, under the government of its Apostles, Elders, and Deacons, was, as we have already stated, for the time being;, complete. One thing, however, was still wanting to give perpetuity to its constitution, and that was, a provision for the supply of ordained ministers to distribute the gifts of the Spirit to the generations who should live when the Apostles themselves, and those who had received ordination from their hands, should have alike passed away from the scene of their labours. It was necessary that the Apostles should appoint successors to themselves; persons to be armed with at least all that portion of their authority which did not depend on their miraculous powers or extraordinary gifts of the Spirit; with neither of which was the power of ordination to any rank of the ministry necessarily connected. They felt this necessity, and they did appoint such persons; but from the altered condition of the Church, and the number of converts in each particular place, it became expedient, instead of giving to each person so appointed that species of general commission with which the Apostles themselves had commenced their labours, to fix the residence of each in some particular city, and to give him the peculiar superintendence of the Church therein and in the districts adjoining. It was thus that St. Paul appointed Timothy to preside (as what we
  1. Acts xiii. 3.