The Priesthood (Ordination)
(Taken from McClintock and Strong’s “ Cyclopedia”)
in a common, but limited and technical sense, is the ceremony by which an individual is set apart to an order or office of the Christian ministry; As the laying on of hands is usually a distinctive feature of that ceremony, many persons have very inadequately treated of ordination to the Christian ministry as identical with it; whereas imposition of hands (q.v.) has various other uses, and only belongs to the ceremony in question as a symbolic act indicative of the bestowment of spiritual gifts or power. In a broader, and in fact its only important sense, ordination signifies the appointment or designation of a person to a ministerial office, whether with or without attendant ceremonies. The term ordination is derived directly from the Latin ordination signifying, with reference to things or affairs, a setting in order, an establishment, an edict, and with reference to men, an appointment to office. It is used in all languages derived from the Latin, and chiefly in application to this one idea of induction to the- ministerial office. As used in the English language, the term is not fixed and invariable in its signification. In fact it has many variations of meaning, as it is made to represent the peculiar theories and practices which have prevailed in different periods and churches with reference to the character and effect of ordination; yet all these variations of meaning may be harmonized under the general idea of ministerial appointment, whether by the Savior’s command, or through multiplied ceremonies of human devising.
It is but just to consider the subject of ordination one of no small intrinsic interest, since, by the consent and practice of the Christian world, it is an act, or the peculiar feature of a series of acts, by which all ministers have received their order or office, in distinction from the laity of the Church. Nevertheless much of the prominence which has been given to it in theological controversy has not arisen from its intrinsic importance, but from the accident of its being a pivotal question in reference to the dogma of a lineal apostolical succession, and the consequences supposed to flow through it as a channel of transmitted grace. It has also entered largely into the sacramentarian controversies of the past. Whoever would properly comprehend the subject of ordination as now defined should give primary attention to whatever teachings the Scriptures contain respecting it. Of necessity the Word of God, rightly interpreted, is the one source of authority in reference to a subject so closely connected with the establishment of Christ’s kingdom upon the earth. Hence any theory or practice that is not sustained by inspired precept or example cannot be regarded as of religious authority, or deserving attention other than as a matter of history or curiosity.
A scriptural investigation of this subject can hardly fail to impess any ingenuous mind with the great significance The fact that neither the Lord Jesus Christ nor any of his disciples gave specific commands or declarations in reference to ordination. The facts of the institution of the ministerial office in the Church and of the ordination, in the sense of the appointment, of faithful believing men to serve in that office, stand forth prominently through out the New Testament. But the manmer in which those facts are stated suggest the inference that ministerial ordination, like the more comprehensive subject of Church organization itself, was not designed to be a matter of minute prescription or of constrained uniformity, but rather was to be left open, within the range of certain great principles, to minor variations of detail that might be appropriate to the circumstances of the future. Had any particular form of ordination been essential to the perpetuity of the Church, the validity of the sacraments, or the salvation of men, it seems but reasonable to infer that the Head of the Church himself would have appointed that special form, and have given precepts for its continuance. In the absence of any such appointment by the Lord Jesus, we have to ascertain to what extent the apostles became the instructors of the Church in reference to the subject in question; and, finding in their writings an absence of specific precepts, it is necessary to collate the several examples of ordination which they have recorded, and to draw from them impartial inferences as to their import and bearing upon the future practice of the Church. When once the canon of Scripture is closed nothing remains but to follow the course of history, and to observe how different churches, at different periods, have sought to improve upon the simplicity and godly sincerity of the apostolic practices, and with what results, inclusive of far- reaching corruptions. As the subject essentially demands historic treatment, attention is first invited to —
I. The Analogies and Counter-Analogies of Judaism — Many writers, without due consideration, have assumed that Christian ministerial ordination was derived directly from Judaism, whereas the whole system of induction into the office of the Jewish priesthood is in marked contradistinction to that practiced by Christ and his apostles in reference to the Christian ministry.
1. The consecration of Jewish priests was by means of the anointing oil upon their persons and their garments. (see Exo 28:40-41; Exo 29:1; Exo 29:19; Exo 29:30; Lev 8:12; Lev 8:30; Lev 10:7; Lev 21:12). The Levites, as assistants to the priests, were consecrated by the sprinkling of the water of purification, washing their clothes, and the offering of sacrifice (Num 8:6-22). The laying on of hands appointed for the Levitical consecration was performed by the. people, not as conferring an office or spiritual gifts, but as symbolical of the transmission of their sins to the Levites, who, in turn, transmitted the same by laying their hands upon the heads of the bullocks offered for a sin-offering and a burnt-offering (Num 8:10-12).
2. The appointment of the Jewish prophets was by direct command or inspiration from God, without any ceremonial induction to their sacred office. In this feature the appointment of the holy prophets prefigured the Messianic period, and Christ’s own mode of appointing his disciples to their ministry.
3. The most direct, if not the only real analogy of the Old-Testament Scriptures to the Christian custom of ordination to the office of the ministry is found in the ceremony by which, under the command of God, Moses transferred to Joshua a portion of his responsibilities as a leader and guide to the congregation of Israel (see Num 27:15-23). In this narrative it may be seen that Moses, prior to his departure from the people whom he had been appointed to lead out of Egypt to the land of promise, prayed to the Lord to “set a man over the congregation, . . . that the congregation of the Lord be not as sheep which have no shepherd. And the Lord said unto Moses, Take the Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him’. . And Moses did as the Lord commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses.” In this transaction the office of the Christian pastor, his necessary spiritual qualification, his mode of appointment, and his duty as an under-shepherd of Christ’s flock, are beautifully prefigured.
II. The Example of Christ and the Practice of the Apostolical Church. —
1. In the introduction of the Christian dispensation no exterior act of ordination was practiced by Christ. The calling, appointing, and ultimate commissioning of the twelve apostles was his personal act, unattended, so far as the inspired record shows, with any symbolical action or ceremony. When it is narrated (Mar 3:14) that “he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,” the original word employed is ἐποίησε, signifying he made,-in the sense of constituted or appointed. When to the same disciples he declared (John 15, 16), “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye ‘should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain,” the word rendered ordained is ἔθηκα, I have set or appointed you. In Luk 10:1, where it is recorded that he “appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face,” the Greek word rendered appointed is ἀνέδειξεν, literally signifying ‘he pointed out or appointed by designation. In all. these cases. Christ illustrated the divine authority which he asserted in his preface to the great and final commission given prior to his ascension: “And Jesus came, and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Mat 28:18-20). “He needed not that any should testifyj of man, for he knew what was in man” (Joh 2:25).
Hence, while he rem’ained on earth as the visible Head of his own Church, he chose and ordained his own ministers in the exercise of his omniscience and kingly power. If it be: objected that one of the original twelve apostatized and betrayed him, the proper answer is that ministers of the Lord Jesus are in this melancholy fact admonished of the danger of yielding to temptation and falling into the snare. of the devil, notwithstanding the grace imparted in an unquestionably divine appointment. Although in other acts the Savior employed symbolical actions, as when in healing lepers he touched them (Mat 8:3; Mar 1:41; Luk 5:13), or when in healing blind men he touched their eyes (Mat 9:29), spit on their eyes and put his hands upon them (Mar 8:23), anointed the eyes of the blind with clay (Joh 9:6-7; Joh 9:11), and in curing a deaf man he put his fingers in his ears and touched his tongue (Mar 7:33), yet in no case of his ordination of his disciples to their ministerial or apostolic office is it recorded that he laid his hands upon them. Nevertheless, in the final period of his earthly sojourn, between his resurrection and ascension, when about to bestow upon his disciples a higher manifestation of spiritual power “he breathed on them, and said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (Joh 20:22). By this symbolic action he illustrated the nature of the spiritual influence which was to come upon them in its full manifestation at the Pentecost. It was in this connection that he also uttered the words, so often and so grossly perverted, “Whosesoever sins ve remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.” A literal and materializing construction of the above passage, together with the kindred passages in Matthew relating to the keys, and the power of binding and loosing (Mat 16:19; Mat 18:18), became at an early period of the history of the ancient Church a great fountain of error in reference to the office and power of the clergy. That the design of our Lord in employing these strong figures was not to confer upon the disciples a divine prerogative, but rather to impress upon them the responsibility of their office, and their essential need of a constant reliance on the aid of the Holy Ghost to enable them to discharge their duties as ministers of the Gospel, is evident, not only from a just interpretation of the passages themselves, but specially so from the practical illustration of their meaning, given by the actions and teachings of the apostles throughout all their subsequent ministry. In pursuance of the Savior’s instructions they proceeded, not to assume personal or official prerogatives, but to employ the Gospel plan of salvation as the one and only agency for securing the remission of sins. In so doing they faithfully warned the wicked of their certain condemnation and ruin outside of the provisions of the Gospel, while they: taught all men the necessity of prayer and personal faith in Christ as the indispensable condition of pardon and salvation.
2. In the whole apostolic history not a single intimation is given of the possibility of the absolution of sin by human or priestly power. On the contrary, that idea was terribly rebuked in the case of the ex-sorcerer Simon, who, although a baptized believer, committed a heinous sin by thinking “that the gift of God might be purchased with money” or imparted by ceremonial acts. For this Peter charged him, saying, “repent of this thy wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee” (Act 8:13-24). In this transaction, as well as in his address to the Jews at Jerusalem, and in fact throughout his entire ministry, the teachings of the apostle Peter illustrate the scriptural doctrine that God only can remit sin through the merits of Christ (see Psa 130:4; Dan 9:9; Act 5:31; Act 13:38; Act 26:1; Act 26:8). Moreover, in his denunciations of sin and encouragements to righteousness, Peter showed precisely the nature and extent of the apostolic prerogative of the keys, and of binding and loosing, which was no more nor less than that of organizing the Christian Church, and administering its government on the strict principles of moral purity established by the Gospel itself.
It was a sad and ominous day for the cause of Christianity when a different interpretation began to be put upon the Savior’s instructions, and men, lacking the essential elements of Christian experience and all claim to the Holy Spirit’s influence, began to imagine and proclaim themselves competent to remit sins, on account. of some magical power acquired by clerical ordination. That there was no scriptural foundation for such errors, and that in fact they might have been corrected by due attention to the teachings of the New Testament, may be shown from .the recorded examples of ordination as practiced by the apostles.
3. The Appointment of Matthias to the Apostleship.The peculiar feature in this transaction (see Act 1:21-26) was a pervading anxiety to ascertain whom the Lord had chosen for the vacant place among the commissioned witnesses of his resurrection. Hence the election or nomination by the Church of two candidates, prayer by the apostles, and the casting of lots to determine which of the two should be numbered with the eleven apostles. In this case, as in those of the Lord’s direct appointment, there was no imposition of hands.
4. The Ordination of the Seven Deacons. — This marked event in the history of the Church occurred in immediate sequence of the outpouring of the Holy Ghost at the Pentecost, and from the space allotted to it in the sacred record (Act 6:2-6), as well as from the fact that all the apostles were present, it may now be considered, as it doubtless was during the whole apostolic period, a model ordination for the subsequent Church. Its characteristic features were:
(1) A demand for men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom;
(2) An election or choice by the Church “on that basis;
(3) Prayer by the apostles;
(4) The laying on of hands, presumably by several of the apostles, as representative of the whole body.
In this act the apostles illustrated their ideas of the proper functions of the Church in reference to its future ministers, and established a precedent of perpetual authority. It was a precedent moreover, in obvious harmony with the precept of our Lord, given in connection with his appointment of the seventy (Luk 10:2), “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.” The apostles evidently regarded this as the standing commission and perpetual duty of the Church in reference to the promotion of Christ’s kingdom in the earth. In it they saw that the Lord claimed the work of evangelizing the world as his own, and also the prerogative of calling and sending forth laborers, while at the same time he charged the Church with the responsibility of prayer and cooperation. This, too, was in harmony with the Savior’s promised gift of the Holy Ghost as the guide of then Church when he should no longer be present as its visible Head. The Spirit’s influence was specially promised in answer to prayer, and it was only a praying Church endowed with the Holy Ghost that could become the light of the world and the agency of its salvation. So long as the Church illustrated these characteristics it gloriously fulfilled its mission. It grew rapidly by the addition of regenerated believers, many of whom, in proportion to the demands of its widening work. were called of God and moved of the Holy Ghost to preach to others the same Gospel that had become to them the power of God unto salvation. The function of the Church, therefore, as to ordination was not to create or bestow the gift of the ministry, but simply to recognize and authenticate it when bestowed by the Head of the Church. Hence ensued prayer that the Lord would show the men whom he had chosen for that work, and the laying on of hands, to express the cooperative action and benediction of the Church.
5. These principles were illustrated in the experience and ordination of Paul. On no subject did the great apostle speak more emphatically and repeatedly than that of his divine call, in the absence of which he would have regarded himself no true minister or apostle, whatever ceremonies might have been enacted over him: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God” (Rom 1:1); “Paul, an apostle (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead)” (Gal 1:1). Such were the terms in which the apostle to the Gentiles expressed his personal consciousness of the divine call, and vet he submitted himself to ordination on the part of the Church, and that in company with a brother of lower degree, and at the hands of prophets (preachers) and teachers who were not numbered among the apostles.
6. Ordination of Barnabas and Saul. — The full inspired account of this transaction is worthy of special attention: “And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark. Now there were in the Church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas. and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleuicia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus” (Act 12:25; Act 13:1-4). The events above narrated occurred some ten years after the commission of Saul of Tarsus, following which “straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues” (Act 9:20). Becoming associated with Barnabas, he also “spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus” at Jerusalem. Both these men seem to have labored as evangelists whenever they had opportunity, and their ministry having been given of God, was honored by his blessing. They were now called to higher responsibilities. They were to go forth “under the sanction of the Church, and not only to proclaim the truth, but also to baptize converts, to organize Christian congregations, and to ordain Christian ministers. It was therefore proper that, on this occasion, they should be regularly invested with the ecclesiastical commission.
In the circumstantial record of this proceeding, in the Acts of the Apostles, we have a proof of the wisdom of the Author of Revelation. He foresaw that the rite of the laying on of hands would be sadly abused; that it would be represented as possessing something like a magic potency; and that it would at length be converted, by a small class of ministers, into an ecclesiastical monopoly. He has therefore supplied us with an antidote against delusion by permitting us, in this simple narrative, to scan its exact import. And what was the virtue of the ordination here described? Did it furnish Paul and Barnabas with a title to the ministry? Not at all. God himself had already called them to the work, and they could receive no higher authorization. Did it necessarily add anything to the eloquence, or the prudence, or the knowledge, or the piety of the missionaries? No results of the kind could be produced by any such ceremony. What, then, was its meaning? The evangelist himself furnishes an answer. The Holy Ghost required that Barnabas and Saul should be separated to the work to which the Lord had called them, and the laying on of hands was the mode or form in which they were set apart or designated to the office. This rite, to an Israelite, suggested grave and hallowed associations. When a Jewish father invoked a benediction on any of his family, he laid his hand upon the head of the child; when a Jewish priest devoted an animal in sacrifice he laid his hand upon the head of the victim; and when a Jewish ruler invested another with office, he laid his hand upon the head of the new functionary. The ordination of these brethren possessed all this significance. By the laying on of hands the ministers of Antioch implored a blessing upon Barnabas and Sail, and announced their separation or dedication to the work of the Gospel, and intimated their investiture with ecclesiastical authority” (Killen, Ancient Church, p. 71 sq.).
It is sometimes asserted that this ordination was a special one to the missionary work. Nevertheless it is the only one recorded as having been received by either of the apostles named, and it illustrates the conditions observed in the ordination of the deacons, viz. (1) The candidates were men called of the Holy Ghost; (2) They were separated unto the work of the Lord by prayer, accompanied with fasting; (3) Hands were laid upon them by representative men of the Church, doubtless the elders. among whom no apostle was present, and as yet the office of bishop had not been instituted.
7. The Ordination of Elders. — When Paul and Barnabas went forth upon their mission, it is recorded of them that “they ordained them (i.e. for the disciples) elders in every Church” (Act 14:23). As to the ceremonies employed in these ordinations, only prayer, fasting, and commending the persons ordained to the Lord, on whom they believed, are mentioned. But in the narrative the word χειροτονήσαντες. (ordained) is for the first time introduced. It is again used in 2Co 8:19, where Paul speaks of Titus as “the brother whose praise is in the Gospel throughout all the churches.” “And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord.” Being chosen of the churches signifies elected or appointed, and implies ordination by the laying on of hands, as well as being elected by the holding up of hands. The employment of the word quoted, and the subsequent use of it by Christian writers as signifying all that belonged to ministerial ordination (see subscriptions to the 2d Epistle to Timothy and the Epistle to Titus), implies that the ordination of elders throughout the churches involved the cooperative action of those churches. In so important a matter the apostles obviously did not act arbitrarily or alone; but when, for the confirming of the souls of the disciples, they judged it important to ordain elders in every Church, they doubtless called on the several churches to determine by prayer, attended with fasting, whom among their number the Holy Ghost would make their spiritual overseers. Upon those designated they doubtless, in connection with other elders, laid their hands, with corresponding prayer, and thus ordained them to the special service of the Lord. A comparison of several passages in Paul’s epistles will show that this view of the apostolic custom of ordination is by no means conjectural. In 1Ti 4:14, he says, “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” The word prophecy in this verse may be understood in the sense of the divine gift or designation. Again, in 2Ti 1:6, referring to the same subject, he says, “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.” Comparing the two verses quoted, it becomes evident that ordination, even by al apostle, was not an individual act, but one participated in by the elders of the Church, who, in connection with the apostle, laid their hands upon the head of the subject. Hence, when the apostle in his charge to Timothy says (1Ti 5:22),” Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins,” we may understand that he warns his son in the Gospel alike against hasty and individual action, in which he might be deceived. Again he-says (Tit 1:4-5), “To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior. For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.” He then proceeds, as he had already done in his letters to Timothy, to state in detail the essential qualifications of ministers, those which he had himself required, and those which he demanded that his successors should require; and by reference to his own example in both cases (see Act 16:2; 2Co 8:19) he clearly intimates their duty of enlisting the prayers and the godly judgment of the churches ill the selection and ordination of ministers of the Word and administrators of the ordinances of God.
Such was apostolic ordination, so far as we can know from the inspired writers, and since they have written nothing on the subject further for our learning, we may safely infer that nothing more is essential. A few points involved in the above scriptural examples may be summarily noted:
(1.) Christ ordained in the sense of appointing his disciples to ministerial service by his own authority, and without employing any exterior ceremony.
(2.) In the election of Matthias to the place in the apostolate from which Judas fell, it was deemed sufficient to ascertain by prayer and the lot whom the Lord had chosen; and in like manner, without any exterior ceremony, “he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”
(3.) The laying on of hands as a ceremony of ministerial ordination was first practiced by the apostles. in the case of the seven deacons, in immediate sequence of the miracle of the Pentecost.
(4.) It was subsequently practiced in the ordination of Paul and Barnabas, and the elders of the New-Testament Church.
(5.) No account is given of any one having been ordained to the office of bishop in distinction from that of elder, still less is there any intimation that bishops were or were to become the only officers in the Church competent to ordain ministerial candidates; whereas elders were frequently, if not always, associated even with apostles in the act of ordination.
Such, as to form and ceremony, was ministerial ordination as practiced in the apostolic Church. As to effect, it claimed only to separate, by solemn acts on the part of the Church, holy men, already called of God to the exclusive work of the ministry. No intimation is given that ordination conferred priestly functions or prerogatives in any form or degree, while, on the other hand, various cautions are given, both in the example and precepts of the apostles, against such an idea. That a large body of ministers thus ordained and instructed were at the head of the various Christian churches at the close of the apostolic period is a matter of the clearest inference both from the sacred record and the earliest accounts we have of the post-apostolic Church. Then followed a shadowy period of Church history, in which, by persecution from without and dissensions and corruptions within, many changes were wrought in the customs and theories of Christians.
II. Introduction of Corrupt Theories and Practice. The greater part of these changes originated in a tendency, itself the result of a decline in spirituality, to incorporate with the ritual of the Church certain ceremonies of Judaism, while corresponding ideas from Greek and Roman paganism were not rigidly excluded. Most startling among these corruptions, and most prolific of other outflowing errors, was the idea of a Christian priesthood parodied from the Jewish. There not having been one word or act in all the teachings of Christ or his apostles to countenance such an idea, we may well be amazed that before the end of the 3d century such declarations as the following were put forth in the name of the apostles for the teaching -and guidance of the Church. The subjoined extracts are from the so-called Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, SEE CANONS, ECCLESIASTICAL, a notorious collection of disciplinary prescriptions and forms which, although, as seen in the light of modern criticism, obviously spurious, nevertheless were circulated and received both as authentic and authoritative for centuries. Having been put forth at a period when literary criticism was unknown, and having been adroitly harmonized with the drift of corrupt practice then gaining currency in the Greek and Roman churches, neither the literary nor the religious authority of this strange collection of documents was questioned for more than a thousand years. The lowest and the true view to be taken of these documents is that they are descriptive of theories and practices that prevailed when they were written, and from that time forward:
Pretended Authorship. — “The apostles and elders to all those who, from among the Gentiles, have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ” (bk. i, § 1).
“We who are now assembled in our place, Peter and .Andrew, James and John, sons of Zebedee, Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew, James the son of Alphasns, and Lebbeeus, who was surnamed Thadduens, and Simon the Canaanite, and Matthias who, instead of Judas, was numbered with us, James the brother of the Lord and bishop of Jerusalem, and Paul the teacher of the Gentiles, the chosen vessel — all being present, have written to you this catholic doctrine fior the confirmation of you to whom the oversight of the Church universal is committed” (bk. 6 §14).
Pretended Establishment of the Hierarchy. — “As to those things which have happened amonug us, ye yourselves are not ignorant. For ye know perfectly that those who are by us named bishops and presbyters and deacons were made by prayer and by the laying on of hands, and that’ by the difference of the names is indicated the difference of their employments. For not everyone that will is ordained, as the case was in that spurious and counterfeit priesthood of the calves under Jeroboam. For if there were no rules or distinction of orders, it would suffice to perform all the offices under one name. But being taught by the Lord the series of things, we distributed the functions of the high-priesthood to the bishops, those of the priesthood to the presbyters, and the ministration under them both to the deacons, that. the divine worship might be performed in purity. For it is not lawful for a deacon to offer the sacrifice, or to baptize, or to give the blessing, either small or great. Nor may a presbyter perform ordination, for it is not agreeable to holiness to have order overturned. For such as these do not fight against us nor against the bishops, but against the universal bishop, even the high-priest of the Father, Jesus Christ our Lord. High-priests, priests, and Levites, were ordained by Moses, the most beloved of God. By on Savior we, the thirteen apostles, were ordained; and by the apostles St. James and St. Clement, and others with us (that we may not make the catalogue of all those bishops over again). Moreover, by us all in common were ordained presbyters and deacons and subdeacons and readers” (bk. 8, § 46).
Affirmation of Priestly Prerogatives and Emoluments. “Ye, therefore, at the present day, O bishops, are to your people, priests and Levites, ministering to the holy tabernacle, the holy Catholic Church; who stand at the altar of the Lord your God, and offer to him reasonable and unbloody sacrifices through Jesus the great high-priest. Ye are to the laity prophets, rulers, governors, and kings the mediators between God and his faithful people, whc receive and declare his Word, well acquainted with the Scriptures. Ye are the voice of God and witnesses of his will, who bear the sins and intercede for all” (bk. 2, § 25).
Episcopal Assumptions. — “The bishop is the minister of the Word, the keeper of knowledge, the mediator between God and you in the several parts of your divine worship. He is the teacher of piety, and next after God he is your father, who hath begotten you again to the adoption of sons by water and the Spirit. He is your ruler and governor; he is your king and potentate; he is next after God your earthly god, who hath a right to be honored by you” (bk. 2:26). Let the above strange language be contrasted with the inspired utterances of the apostle Peter himself (see 1Pe 5:1-4): “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the. oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”
Concerning Ordination— “Wherefore we, the twelve apostles of the Lord, who are now together, give your in charge these our divine constitution oncerning every ecclesiastical form; there being present with us Paul the chosen vessel, our fellow-apostle, and James the bishop and the rest of the presbyters, and the seven deacons.
“In the first place, therefore, I Peter say that a bishop to be ordained is to be, as we have already all of us appointed, unblamable in all things, a select person, chosen by the whole people. And when he is named and approved, let the people assemble, with the presbytery and bishops that are present, on the Lord’s day, and let them give their consent. And let him who is preferred among the rest ask the presbytery and the people whether this is the person whom they desire their ruler. And if they give their consent, let him ask further whether he hath a good testimony from all men, etc. And if all the assembly together do, according to truth and not according to prejudice, testify that he is such a one, let theon the third time ask again whether he is truly worthy of this ministry; and if they agree the third tine tlhat he is worthy, let them all be demanded their vote; and when they all give it willingly, let them be heard. And, silence being made, let one of the principal bishops, one with two others, stand near the altar, the rest of the bishops and presbyters praying silently, and the deacons holding the holy Gospels open upon the head of him that is to be ordained; and say no God—”
The form of prayer prescribed is a long one, but contains the following passages:
“’Grant to him (the bishop), O Lord Almighty, through thy Christ, the communion of the Holy Spirit, that so he may have power to remit sins according to thy command; to distribute clerical offices according to thine ordinance; to loose every bond according to the power which thou gavest to the apostles; that he may please thee, in meekness and a pure heart, steadfastly, inblamably, irreproaclably, while he offereth to thee a pure and unbloody sacrifice, which by thy Christ thou hast appointed as the mystery of the new covenant… ‘And when he hath prayed for these things, let the rest of the priests add Amen, and, together with them, all the people. And after the prayer, let one of the bishops elevate the sacrifice upon the hands of him that is ordained; and early in the morning let him be enthroned, in a place set apart for him, among the rest of the bishops- they all giving him the kiss in the Lord” (bk. 8, § 4, 5).
I. “Let a bishop be ordained by two or three bishops.
II. “Let a presbyter be ordained by one bishop as also a deacon and the rest of the clergy”’ (bk. 8, § 47).
The above are merely specimen extracts from the Apostolical Constitutions, nevertheless sufficient to show that in the ancient Church not only were bishops and priests ordained to offer “the unbloody sacrifice” of the mass and to remit sin, but also that the number of officers in the Church admitted to ordination was beginning to be increased. (For the forms of ordination for subdeacons, deaconesses, and readers, see bk. 8, § 19, 20, 21, 22.) Other parts of the same Constitutions prescribe the preparation by ordained bishops of the mystical oil, the mystical water, and the mystical ointment to be used in baptism, and also prayers to be offered for the dead. On the enthronement of bishops, the practice of singing hosannas to them, and many customs in reference to ordination, consult Bingham’s ‘Antiquities of the Christian Church, bk. 2 and 4. His explanation, that every bishop having liberty to frame his own: liturgy tended to the multiplication and variation of the ceremonies employed, finds many confirmations in fact, and accounts for some differences of a minor character between the Greek and Roman churches. Although he finds the signing of the cross and the kiss of peace added to the ancient ceremonial, he affirms that the use of anointing oil, the presentation of the sacred utensils in clerical ordination, and the exclusive practice of the rite during Ember weeks (q.v.) are modern inventions, i.e. inventions of the medieval period.
Another practice, however, that of forcible ordination, is thus described by Bingham:
“’Anciently, while popular elections were indulged, there was nothing more common than for people to take men by force, and have them ordained against their wills. For though many men were too ambitious in courting the preferments of the Church, yet there were some who ran as eagerly from them as others ran to them; and nothing but force could bring such men to submit to an ordination. Ecclesiastical history furnishes many instances of this, including some who were plainly ordained against their wills. It was a common practice in those times for persons that fled to avoid ordination by their own bishop, to be seized by any other bishop to he ordained by them, and then returned to the bishop from ‘whom they were fled.’ ‘Nor was it any kind of remonstrance or solicitation whatsoever which the party could make that would prevent his ordination in such cases, except he chanced to protest solemnly upon oath against such ordination.’ To hinder this protest, cunning and violence were employed. At the ordination of Macedonius by Flavian, bishop of Antioch, ‘they durst not let him know what they were about till the ceremony was over; and when he came to understand that he was ordained presbyter, he broke forth into a rage.’ Pauliniaus, Jerome’s brother, fled from ordination, but Epiphamius caused his deacons to seize him, and to hold his mouth, that he might not adjure them in the name of Christ to set him free. ‘Such ordination stood good, and was accounted as valid as any other.’ Even when in the following age the sentiment of the Church was so far modified as to permit deacons and presbyters ordained against their wills to ‘be set at liberty as if they had never been ordained,’ bishops were excluded from this reasonable provision. ‘Though the imperial law gave liberty to all inferiors, so ordained, to relinquish their office that was forced upon them, if they pleased, and betake themselves to a secular life again, yet it peremptorily denied the privilege to bishops, decreeing that their ordination should stanid good, and that no action brought against their ordainers should be of force to evacuate or disaannul their consecration’“ (Antiq. bk. 4, ch. 7).
Could it have been certain that these forced ordinations were conferred only on good men, such proceedings would by no means have been so bad as the more common act of ordaining men of unquestioned vileness of character, who by intrigue or simony secured clerical offices, and consequently the so-called sacrament of orders, and “the indelible mark” by which the pretended apostolical (?) succession was to be handled down to remote generations.
When under ecclesiastical sanction the attempt was fully inaugurated to improve on the simplicity of the apostolical customs as to ordination by the multiplication of materialistic ceremonies, it was not likely soon to stop. So, in fact, between bishops emulous of ceremonial splendor and the enactments of rival councils, the process of adding ritual forms went forward in steps parallel to increasing corruptions of doctrine until a culmination was reached in the fully developed —
IV. Sacerdotal System of the Roman Catholic Church. — That system, as practiced from about the 10th century and fully restated by the Council of Trent, as well as in the formularies of the Roman pontifical, has the following with other less objectionable characteristics:
1. It affirms that clerical orders constitute a sacrament, the sixth of the seven enumerated by that Church. of which the pope is supreme in authority. The seven orders are those of priest, deacon, subdeacon, acolyth, exorcist, reader, and porter.
3. It affirms that bishops only are competent to confer ordination.
4. That the effect of ordination is to impress on the recipient an indelible mark or character, so that he who has once been a priest cannot again become a layman.
5. That ordination to the priesthood confers the power of offering sacrifice in the Church for the living and for the dead.
The above positions are sufficiently supported by the following extracts from the Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent:
On the Sacrament of Orders. —
“Canon If any one shall say that there is not in the New Testament a visible and external priesthood, or that there is not any power of consecrating and offering the true body and blood of the Lord, and of remitting and retaining sin, but only an office and bare ministry of preaching the Gospel, or that those who do not preach are not priests at all: let him be anathema.
“Canon II. If any one shall say that, besides the priesthood, there are not in the Catholic Church other orders, both greater and lesser, by which, as by certain steps, advance is made into the-priesthood: let him be anathema.
“Canon III. If any one shall say that orders or sacred ordination is not truly and properly a sacrament instituted by Christ the Lord; or that it is a certain human figment devised by men unskilled in ecclesiastical matters, or that it is only a certain kind for choosing ministers of the Word of God and the sacraments: let him be anathema.
“Canon IV. If any one shall say that by sacred ordination the Holy Ghost is not given; and that the bishops do therefore vainly say, Receive ye the Holy Ghost; or that a character is not thereby given; or that he who has once been a priest can again become a layman: let him be anathema.”
Touching the Sacrifice of the Mass. — sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; or that it is a bare commemoration of the sacrifice offered on the cross, but not a propitiatory sacrifice; or that it avails him only that receiveth, and that it ought not to be offered for- the living and the dead for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities: let him be anathema.”
It is true that Roman Catholic theologians have differed not a little in their discussions of some of these topics, as, for instance, in reference to the number of the sacraments and the matter and form of the sacrament of orders; but in the main they have acquiesced in the points stated above, and in the sequences inseparable from them. It may be added that the formula of ordaining a priest corresponds to the last-quoted canon. It is this: “Receive power to offer sacrifice to God, and to celebrate masses as well for the living as for the dead, in the name of the Lord. Amen.”
The principal features of the above-stated theory of ordination were developed before the separation of the Greek and Roman churches, and the ceremonies with which, the rite was administered differed in the two churches only in unimportant particulars, such as that of anointing the ordained person with oil, which the Roman Church practiced and the Greek Church did not. In the Roman Church, in particular, great stress is laid upon the presentation of sacred utensils and symbols as a part of the ceremony of ordination. To the priest is presented a chalice and paten (a small plate used to hold the host or consecrated wafer); to the bishop a ring, a crosier, and a pallium (q.v.) are given; and to the cardinal a hat, as symbolical of their functions and obligations. While, theremore, both churches propagated in its essentially erroneous features a common theory as to ordinations, it was the Romish Church which carried out the greatest extreme of ceremonies, and made the worst uses of the theory in connection with the dogma and assumptions of papal supremacy — a system of sacerdotalism that embodied blasphemous pretensions, and that was often prostituted to the most wicked and selfish purposes. Examination shows that this very theory of the Roman Church as to orders and sacraments lies at the center of the system referred to, and is the fountain-head of some of its worst corruptions. Once grant that ordination in direct line and by direct sanction from the pope of Rome is the one essential channel for the descent of God’s grace to man, and there is conceded a power as far-reaching and dangerous as it is far removed from scriptural truth. That the Roman see made this claim without disguise, and enforced it during successive centuries by the most unscrupulous measures, is proved by multitudinous facts of history. As a specimen, take the following statement concerning pope Boniface IX:
“At first Boniface did not publicly take money for the higher promotions; he took it only in secret, and through trustworthy agents. At length after ten years, at once to indulge, palliate, and to establish this simony, he substituted as a permanent tax the Annates (q.v.), or first-fruits of every bishopric and rich abbey, calculated on a new scale, triple that in which they stood before in the papal books. This was to be paid in advance by the candidates for promotion, some of whom never got possession of the benefice. That was matter of supreme indifference to Boniface, as he could sell it again. But as these candidates rarely came to the court with money equal to the demand, usurers, with whom the pope was in unholy league, advanced the sum on exorbitant interest. The debt was sometimes sued for in the pope’s court. The smaller benefices were sold from the day of his appointment with shameless and scandalous notoriety. Men wandered about Lombardy and other parts of Italy searching out the ages of hoary incumbents, and watching their diseases and infirmities. For this service they were well paid by the greedy aspirants at Rome. ‘On their report the tariff rose or fell. ‘Bennefices were sold over and over again. Graces were granted to the last purchaser, with the magic word ‘Preference,’ which cost twenty-five florins.’ That was superceded by a more authoritative phrase (at fifty florin), a perogative of precedence. Petitions already sometimes cancelled in favor of a higher bidder; the pope treated the lower offer as an attempt to defraud him. In the same year the secretary, Theodoric a Niem, had known the same benefice sold in the course of a one week to several successive claimants. The benefices were so openly sold that, if money was not at hand, the pope would receive the price in kind — in wine, sheep, oxen, horses, or grain. The officers were as skillful in these arts as himself. His auditors would hold twenty expectatives, and receive the first-fruits. The argus-eyed pope, however, watched the death-bed of all his officers. Their books, robes, furniture, money, escheated to the pope. No grace of any kind, even to the poorest, was signed without its florin fee. The pope, even during mass, was seen to be consulting with his secretaries on these worldly affairs. The accumulation of pluralities on unworthy men was scandalous even in those times” (Milman’s Latin Christianity, vol. 7, bk. 13, ch; 3).
It is obvious that such a shameless traffic in clerical ordinations and appointments could only have been maintained in a Church in which and in an age when the people had been taught to believe that their salvation depended on the absolution of priests fitted for their task by the indelible mark of papal ordination irrespective of moral character. The same idea made the theories of purgatory and indulgence sources of illimitable pecuniary exactions, while it also made the power of the popes terrible in their long struggle with emperors in reference to the right;of investiture (q.v.) and temporal sovereignty. In those struggles monarchs and nations were reduced to submission by the culmination of bulls, bans, and interdicts, which, aside from the fundamental idea of divine grace flowing solely through the-channel of papal ordination and authority, would have been as powerless as they are now seen to be absurd.
V. Protestant Reaction. — The above-stated theory of ordination, attended by corresponding practice, may be said to have had universal and unquestioned prevalence throughout the Christian world from the 6th to the 16th century. Irrespective of its gradual and insidious beginnings, it was fully developed in the ritual of Gregory the Great (A.D. 595-606), and it reached its present form of administration in the Pontficale Romanum (q.v.) of pope Clement VIII, in 1596. A prominent feature of the great Reformation was a violent and general reaction against the dogmas and abuses of the Roman system of ordinations. Without exception, Protestants rejected the five factitious sacraments of the Roman Church, including orders. The Reformed churches not only rejected the doctrines but the ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Church in reference to ordination, falling back on scriptural precedents as their sole guide in reference to the modes, of appointing and ordaining their clergy. A partial exception has to be stated in reference to the Church of England, which retained a portion of the Roman ritual of ordination. In reference to this as well as many other subjects, different interpretations of Scripture prevailed, and consequently different customs of ordination were established. Most of the Reformed churches, doubtless owing to the great abuses so long associated with the name and character of bishop, rejected the episcopal office entirely, although the Lutheran Church retained it under the name of superintendent. There was great unanimity in accepting the ordination by elders as appropriate and valid, but in some of the churches two classes of elders were recognized — teaching (clerical) and ruling (lay) elders. In some, as in the Church of Scotland, the clerical presbyters only join in the imposition of hands. Among the Independents and Baptists the power of ordination is considered to inhere in any given congregation of believers. The qualifications of a candidate are first ascertained and approved by a Church, which, having called him to its ministry, and he accepting, proceeds to confer ordination upon him by prayer and the imposition of hands.
The Protestant churches of Germany, Holland, Switzerland, France; Denmark, Poland, Hungary, Scotland, etc., have only presbyterial ordination, and place no reliance on the derivation of their clerical orders, from the fact that their founders, such as Luther, Calvin, and others, had been episcopally ordained as presbyters. They all unite in considering the call of God expressed through the suffrage of the Church as the essential prerequisite to true ministerial character, while ordination is simply an appropriate ceremony designed to authenticate that call, and to publicly separate ministers to the sacred office. In most of the churches named, as welt as- in the American Presbyterian, Baptist, and Congregational churches, deacons are only lay officers of the Church, and do not receive the imposition of hands.
As we have not thought proper to allot space for the formulae of the Greek and Roman ordinations, so now we deem it unimportant to introduce details as to ceremonies and variations in the practice of ordinations among Protestants. Such variations find their prototype in the scriptural ordinations, of which no two recorded were conducted in all respects alike, a fact that plainly indicated the non-essentialits of fixed forms, as well as the Christian liberty of adapting forms to circumstances. With a single exception, substantial unity may be said to prevail throughout the Protestant world in the view that the validity or propriety of ministerial ordinations does not hinge on any form of ceremony, or any, pretense of tactual succession, and this, unity of sentiment is sustained by a corresponding charity and mutual respect. The exception referred to, though not stated in the creed of any Protestant Church, has nevertheless existed from the period of the Reformation, and has resulted in a voluminous, and not seldom acrimonious controversy, which passes to descend to future generations.
VI. High-Church Controversy on Ordination. — In order to comprehend the nature and bearings of this controversy, it is necessary to take into view some well-known facts respecting the peculiar constitution of the Church of England. They are indicated in the following, language, abridged from lord Macaulay’s introduction to his History of England.
“Henry VIII attempted to constitute an Anglican Church differing-from the Roman Catholic-Church on the point of the supremacy, and on that point alone. His success in this attempt was extraordinary. The English Reformers were eager to go as far as their brethren on the Continent. They unanimously condemned as anti-Christian numerous dogmas and practices to which Henry had stubbornly adhered, and which Elizabeth reluctantly abandoned. Many felt a strong repugnance even to things indifferent which had formed part of the polity or ritual of the mystical Babylon. Thus bishop Hooper, who died manfully at Gloucester for his religion, long refused to wear the episcopal vestments. Bishop Ridley, a martyr of still greater reknown, pulled down the ancient altars of his diocese, and ordered the Eucharist to be administered in the middle of churches, at tables which the papists irreverently termed oyster-boards. Bishop Jewell pronounced the clerical garb to be a stage-dress, a fool’s coat, a relique of the Amorites, and promised that he would spare no labor to extirpate such degrading absurdities. Archbishop Grindal long hesitated about accepting a mitre from dislike of what he regarded as the mummery of consecration. Bishop Parkhurst uttered a fervent prayer that the Church of England would propose to herself the Church of Zurich as the absolute pattern of a Christian community. Bishop Ponet was of opinion that the word bishop should be abandoned to papists, and that the chief officers of the purified Church should be called superintendents. When it is considered that none of these prelates belonged to the extreme section of the Protestant party, it cannot be doubted that, if the general sense of that party had been followed, the work of reform would have been carried on as unsparingly, in England as, in Scotland. But as the government needed the support of the Protestants, so the Protestants needed the protection of the government. Much was therefore given up on both sides; a union was effected, and the fruit of that union was the Church of England. The man who took the chief part in settling the conditions of the alliance which produced the Anglican Church was Thomas Cranmer. He was the representative of both the parties, which at that time needed each other’s assistance. He was at once a divine and a courtier. In his character of divine he was perfectly ready to go as far in the way of change as any Swiss or Scottish Reformer.’ In his character of courtier he was desirous to preserve that organization which had during many ages admirably served the purposes of the bishops of Rome, and might be expected now to serve equally well the purposes; of the English kings and of their ministers. Ton this day the constitution, the doctrines, and the services of the Church retain the visible marks of the compromise from which she sprang. She occupies a middle position between the churches of Rome and Geneva. The Church of Rome held that episcopacy was of divine institution, and that certain supernatural graces of a high order had been transmitted by the imposition of hands through fifty generations, from the eleven who received their commnission on the Galilean mount to the bishops who met at Trent. A lagre body of Protestants, on the other hand, regarded prelacy as positively unlawful, and persuaded themselves that they found a very different form of ecclesiastical government prescribed in Scripture. The founders of the Anglican Church took a middle course. They retained episcopacy, but they did not declare it to be an institution essential to the welfare of a Christian society, or to the efficacy of the sacraments. Cranmer, indeed, on one important occasion, plainly avowed his conviction that in the primitive times there was no distinction between bishops and priests, and that the laying on of hands was altogether superfluous.”
This formidable array of antitheses — by no means exhausts the list of practical contradictions embodied in the Church of England. Rejecting, the supremacy off the pope, she accepted, or, rather, had forced upon her, that of the temporal Sovereign, subjecting her to the most extravagant assumptions of an unscrupulous monarch. — Macaulay, on this point, says, “What Henry and his favorite counselors meant at one time by supremacy was certainly nothing less than the whole power of the keys. The king was to be the pope of his kingdom, the vicar of God, the expositor of catholic verity, the channel of sacramental graces. He arrogated to himself the right of deciding dogmatically what was orthodox doctrine” and what was heresy, of drawing up and imposing confessions of faith, and of giving religious instruction to his people; He proclaimed that all jurisdiction; spiritual as well as temporal, was derived from him alone, and that it was in his power to confer episcopal authority and to take it away. He actually ordered his seal to be put to commissions by which bishops were appointed, who were to exercise their functions as his deputies and during his pleasure… As he appointed civil officers to keep his seal, to collect his revenues, and to dispense justice in his name, so he appointed divines of various ranks to preach the Gospel and to administer the sacraments. It was unnecessary that there should be any imposition of hands. The king- such was the opinion of Cranmer, given in the plainest words might, in virtue of authority derived from God, make a priest, and the priest so made needed no ordination whatever.”
Under Edward VI there was a speedy revolt from such extreme absurdities, and a form of ordination by the imposition of hands was incorporated in the ritual. But even in that ritual, which is generally considered to represent the best Protestantism of the English Reformation, whilethe mass is rejected, yet the idea and order of a priesthood is retained in a form for ordaining all ministers of second grade as priests. Notwithstanding that serious error, the ritual in question is specially distinguished for the prominence it gave the scriptural idea of a personal divine call — an idea that had been obscured, if not obliterated, in the rituals of the Church for a thousand years previously. It required a solemn declaration on the part of every candidate for holy orders of his personal conviction that he is “moved by the Holy Ghost” to take upon himself this sacred ministration. Bishop Burnet explains the action of the British Reformers in this regard in the following language:
“Our Church intended to raise the obligation of the pastoral care higher than it was before, and has laid out this matter more fully and more strictly than any Church ever did in any age, as far, at least, as my inquiries can carry me… No Church before ours at the Reformation took a formal sponsion at the altar from such as were ordained deacons and priests. That twas, indeed, always demanded of bishops, but neither in the Roman nor Greek pontifical do we find any such solemn vows and promises demanded or made by priests or deacons, not does any print of this appear in the constitutions or the ancient canons of the Church. Bishops were asked many questions, as appears by the first canon of the fourth Council of Carthage. They were required to profess their faith and to promise to obey the canons, which is still observed in the Greek Church. The questions are more express in the Roman pontifical, and the first of these demands a promise that they will instruct their people in Christian doctrine according to the ‘Holy Scriptures,’ which was the foundation upon which our bishops justified the Reformation, since, the first and chief of all their vows binding them to this, it was to take place of all others, and if any other parts of those sponsions contradicted this, such as their obedience and adherence to the see of Rome, they said that these were to be limited by this… Our Reformers, observing all this, took great care in reforming the office of ordination, and they made both the charge that is given and the promises that are to be taken to be very express and solemn, so that both the ordainers and the ordained might be rightly instructed in their duty, and struck with the awe and dread that they ought to be under in so holy and so important a performance;… yet to make the sense of these promises go deeper, they are ordered-to be mimde at the altar, and in the nature of a stipulation or covenant… OurChurch, by making our Savior’s words the form of ordination, must be construed to intend by that that it is Christ only that sends, and that the bishops are only his ministers to pronounce his mission.”
Yet the very ritual which required the candidate for ordination to solemnly profess that he was “inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon him this office and ministration to serve God,” and that he was truly called “according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ,” also required him, in the “Oath of the-King’s Supremacy,” to swear, “I from henceforth will accept, repute, and take the king’s majesty to be the only supreme head in earth of the Church of England.”
To embody in any system such a series of contradictions and oppugnances was to plant the seeds of interminable strife, and to such a strife has the Church of England been subjected from the days of the Reformation downward. Nor has the strife been limited to words. In its earlier periods, persecutions, bloodshed, and martyrdoms were frequent results. Sometimes one party was in the ascendency, sometimes the other, and in the progress of extents the controversy of which our subject was the center assumed a variety of phases. Sometimes the issue was direct, as between popery and Protestantism. Sometimes it was triangular, as between the papacy, Protestant prelacy, and Puritanism. At length various forms of dissent and independency began to appear, only to multiply forms of discussion, into nearly all of which questions relating to ordination entered more or less prominently. While separation led forth into distinct organizations perhaps the greater part of the more pronounced anti- prelatists, there has always remained in the Church of England an influential body of evangelical or Low Churchmen, who, while they accept episcopacy as a scriptural form of Church government, and episcopal ordination as both appropriate, expedient, and scriptural, nevertheless disclaim its exclusive validity, its uninterrupted prelatical suecession, and its claims to be of special divine appointment de jure divino. On the other hand, the same Church has never lacked prelatists of the highest pretensions who, notwithstanding their own clerical orders are scouted by the Romanists as null, both on the ground of irregularity and illegality, nevertheless zealously assert the main principle of the Romish theory of succession. Indeed, the bigotry and pretensions of the Anglican High- Churchmen have rarely found a parallel, unless in the groundlessness of their claims, both as judged from opposite points by Romanists and other Protestants. The debate between them and their brethren of lower views, as well as with those larger branches of the Protestant Church whose orders and ministry they have affected to despise, has never known an intermissions; yet the excitement attending it has gradually decreased in proportion as the principles of tolerance have become recognized in the legislation of the kingdom. It was exceedingly bitter in the days of the vestment controversy, when ministers were constrained by law to wear garments- symbolical of a priestly office which they rejected as unchristian, and also bindd thr Act of Uniformity, by which thousands of good ministers rejected from their churches and their livings because they declined an oath of conform it to requirements with which their consciences forbade compiances. Fdresu severities had toned down under the advance of general enlightenment, the subject was debated more as a matter of opinions and ecclesiastical partisanship; in which tastes and associations largely governed individual action.
The 18th century Witnessed a new phase of this old controversy, growing out of the rise of Methodism. When John Wesley, as an evangelical clergyman, found himself providentially called on to provide for the administration of the Christian ordinances to the religious societies which he had been instrumental in organizing, first within the Church of England, and subsequently in America, he first applied to the bishop of London for the ordination of sons of his lay-preachers. Having been repeatedly refused he associated with himself other presbyters; and preceeded to ordain deacons, elders, and a superintendent or bishop for America. “In justification of this act he pleaded the urgency of the providential necessitys his conviction, of the utter baselessness Of the theory of ininterrupted lineal succession, and the precedent established by the apostolical Church of Alexandria; in which, as recorded by Jerome, the presbyters elected their whole line of bishops, from the days of Mark the Evangelist downward, for one hundred and fifty years. From this action of Wesley there not only arose the Wesleyan Methodist churches of Great Britain, Canada, and Australia, in which presbyterial ordination is practiced, but also the Methodist Episcopal churches of the United States and Canada. In the last- named churches the episcopal office, apart from any prelatical idea or assumptions, has had a wide, field of action, and, in connection with an earnest spirit of evangelical effort, has been attended with a measure of success worthy of apostolic times. In the Methodist Episcopal churches the formula of ordination is that of the Church of England expurgated of the word priest and of every term that might be constituted to express the idea of sacerdotalism, or any temporal headship of the Church of Christ. — Two, clerical orders only are recognized, those of deacon and elder. The bisphorric is regarded not as a third order, but as an office to which an elder having been elected is consecrated by prayer and the imposition of hands by other bishops and presbyters. It is a special function of the bishop to ordain ministers, not singly, but its cooperation with presbyters. In all this the churches in question claim to follow ancient, if not strictly apostolical usage. They also insist with great urgency upon the personal conviction of each candidate for any form of the ministerial office-that he is moved thereto by the Holy Ghost.
In America the High-Church controversy as respecting ordination has had but a limited range, and a corresponding influence. -It was inherited by the Protestant Episcopal Church as a direct legacy from the mother Church of England, but, having been wholly disassociated from questions of temporal ‘sovereignty and state emolument, it was for a long period entirely quiescent, merely arising as a matter of opinion between clergymen of different altitude in the same Church, or between zealons representatives of that Church and those of other Protestant churches, all agreeing in opposition to the prelatical claims of Romanists.
A new phase of this controversy arose about 1830 in connection with the issue of the Oxford Tracts (q.v.) in England. Although the days of persecution were then past, the spirit of intolerance was by no means extinct, and the attempt to secure a Romanistic reaction in England and other Protestant countries was so determined and so skillfully urged that a somewhat formidable movement towards the Romish Church was actually secured. In England scores of clergymen from the Established Church, and in the United States some dozens from the Protestant Episcopal Church, became (to employ a phrase that then came into common use) perverts to Romanism, and both countries became rife with the controversy. One of the first objects of the Tractarian movement, sometimes called Puseyism, from the prominience of Dr. E. B. Pusey, of Oxford, as one of the Tract writers, was to reassert the importance of ordination in the line of a lineal and tactual succession direct from the apostles. Assuming the prerogatives of such an ordination for themselves, they unscrupulously attacked the validity of all other ordinations, except those of the Greek and Roman churches, and thus with as little charity as consistency, presumed to denounce the greater part of Protestant Christians throughout the world as irregular and schismatic, if not heretical. The eagerness with which many ministers of hhe Protestant Episcopal Church caught up or gave prominence to similar assumptions, and proceeded, under the stimulus from Oxford, to flaunt their claims of superiority in the face of the other Protestant churches of America, caused the controversy to be more extensively opened in this country than it had ever been before. Ministers of other churches who felt that the validity of their ministerial character was impugned by these pretensions were not slow to accept the discussion, which, by aid of free pulpits and a free press, became very general. Every phase of the argument — from the Scriptures, from the fathers, from history, and from the nature of the case, was reopened. While in many instances the result of the discussion of doubtless was to confirm the disputants and partisans on both sides in their old opinions, yet it can hardly be doubted that the effect of the discussion as a whole was largely to influence the public mind both of England and the United States against the prelatical claims, and in favor of the inherent right of churches; to establish their own minor ceremonies as well as their forms of Church government, subject to the cardinal principles of God’s Word. In short, the principle and spirit of exclusiveness and of hierarchical pretension were effectually rebuked in a contest of their own provoking. While such principles yet has numerous adherents, still it cannot be questioned that they stand reprobated before the popular mind as unsustained by scriptural precedent or precept, and unworthy of the spirit of an enlightened age. Nevertheless the mediaeval theories of ordination, both as to its magical effect, its indelible mark, and its lineal descent from the apostles, however polluted the line through which, it has come down, still have their advocates.
The Roman Catholic Church is bound by the canon and decrees of the Council of Trent, while its Anglican imitators struggle to maintain similarly far less consistency. In. their emergency they seek, affiliations with the Greek Church and the Old Catholics, without direct acknowledgment from either. — Meantime, the logic of events is working out very important demonstrations, by showing, on the one hand, how little the truth and power of Christianity are dependent on external ceremonies, and, on the other, not only how powerless, but how misguiding, ceremonies are as a substitute for divine grace in the hearts and lives of professed ministers of Christ. A survey of the active and progressive agencies of Christianity in the world. shows that, a very large proportion of them are sustained by churches which reject as baseless the theory that covenanted grace descends solely through a series of ceremonial ordinations. When, indeed, a comparison as, to purity of life, zeal in Christian good works, and fruits following is instituted between churches practicing presbyterial ordination and those making high assumptions of ecclesiastical prerogative, based on a line of ordinational succession, running through the worst popes of Rome, the former certainly are not found wanting. To the ordinary mind such facts are more convincing than theoretical arguments, whether based on questionable precedents or on quotations from the fathers; and the more such facts are multiplied the less need there will be of a perpetual reproduction of the arguments so often stated and restated during the last three hundred years. Nevertheless a knowledge of the controversy, is more or less a necessity to every candidate for ordination, not only as a means of satisfying his own mind, but also of being prepared for any new phase the controversy may assume hereafter.
The most recent phase of High-Church development as won for itself the title of Ritualism (q.v.). Ritualists, as such, are usually identical with high pretenders to the importance of successional ordinations, but in their, extreme attention to the reproduction of medieval ceremonies they are not followed by. all who accept the theory of tactual succession. The attempts of the ritualistic party of the Church of England to reintroduce Roman Catholic ceremonies into the worship of Protestant churches has been greatly held in check by certain laws. of the realm. In America similar attempts have found but in the favor before an eminently practical people, who, so far as they choose Romanism at all, evidently prefer the system without disguises to a feeble imitation.
The most active controversy in reference to the question of ordination prevailing in the United States at the present time is between the high and low churchmen of the Protestant Episcopal Church. The former appear to have been advancing within recent years both in numbers and the assertion of principles of exclusiveness and intolerance. As a result a new organization was formed in 1873, entitled the Reformed Episcopal Church. That Church, organized under the supervision of the late bishop George D. Cummins, claims to represent the Protestant views and practices of the Church of England as understood and vindicated by the Reformers of the period of Edward VI, and prior to the papal reaction under Bloody Mary. While professing and practicing episcopal ordination, it does not deny the validity of other forms following Scripture precedent and applied to godly men. On the principle of succession, whatever of validity inhered in the orders of the Protestant Episcopal Church was handed down to the Reformed Episcopal Church by episcopal ordinations from the seceding. bishop before the attempt to invalidate his authority by excommunication could be’ consummated. Thus a somewhat new form of issue pertaining to the question of ordination is opened between prepresentative classes or grades of Episcopalians.
VI. The literature of the subject of ordination and orders is mingled from first to last with that of the Roman Catholic and High-Church controversies, being rarely find in direct and separate, treatises on either side in an exhaustive list would require altogether too much space, the classified section herewith give an with be found sufficient for any: ordinary extent of investigation.
1. Historical. — Schaff, Hist. of the Apostolic Church; Killen, Ancient Church; Mosheim, Hist. of the First Three Centuries; The, “Apostolic Constitutions;” Bingham, Antiquities of the Christian Church; Coleman, Christian Antiquities; Campbell, Lectures on Ecclesiastical History; The Bible, the Missal, and the Breviary. ‘
2. Romanistic. — Bellarmine, De Ordine; Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent; Catechism of the Council of Trent; Kenrick, On the Primacy; id. On Anglican Ordinations; Wiseman, On High-Church Clainms Milner, End of Controversy.
3. Anti-Romanistic, — Beza, De Ecclesia; Willet, Synopsis. Papismi; Cramp, Text-Book of Popery; Elliott, Romanism; Barrow, On the Supremacy; Palmer, Letters to Wiseman on the Errors of Romanisn Hopkins, “End of Controversy”, Controverted.
4. Anglican Prelatical. — Bancroft, Survey of the Pretended. Holy- Discipline.; Hooker, — Ecclesiastical Polity; Bishop Hall, Episcopy by Divine Right; Mason, Defence of the Church of England Ministry; Courayer, Validity of Angilican Ordinations; Jeremy Tayior, Oe Episcopacy; Cave, Ancient Church; Wheatley, On Conmmon Prayer; Percival, On Apostolic Succession Jeremy Collier, Ecclesiastical History of Great Britain; Palmer, On the Church; “The Oxford Tracts;” Wordsworth, Theophilus Anglicanus; Manning, Unity of the Church; Pusey. Eirenikon; Stubb, Episcopal Succession; Marshall, Notes on Episcopacy; Wordsworth, The Christian Ministry.
5. Anglican Anti-Prelatical. — Jewell, Apology of the Church of England; “Field of the Church;” Lord King, Prinmitive Church; Bishop Burnet, Vindication of the Ordinations of the Church of England; also Church of Scotland; Stillingfleet, Irenicuz; Isaac Taylor, Ancient Christianity; Archbishop Whately, Kingdom of Christ; also Origin of Romish Erors; Litton, On the Church of Christ; Harrison, Whose are the Fathers? Bridges, On the Christian Ministry; Nolan, Catholic Character of Christianity; Goode, Divine Rule of Faith and Practice.
6. Puritan, Presbyterian, etc. — Rutherford, Due Right of Presbyteries; Drury, Model of Church Government; Seamen, Vindictaion of the reformed Churches; Milton, Prelatical Episcopacy; also Reason of Church Government; Prynne, Testimonies of Bishops and Presbyters; Baxter, Treatise of Episcopacy; also English Non-Confoirmity; Calamy, Defence of Non-Conformity; James:Owen, Plea for Scripture Ordination; Nichol, Vindication of Dissenters;. Ayton, Oritintal Constitution of the Christian Church; Campbell, Vindication of the Presbyterians of Ireland; M’Crie, Unity of the Church; Conder, Protestant Non-Conformity; Vaughan, Polity of Congregationalism; Powell. On Apostolical Succession; sundry Ministers of old, On the Divine Right of Church Government; Brown, Puseyite Episcopacy.
7. American Prelatical. — Wilmer, Episcopal Manual; Hobart, On Apostolic Order; How, Vindication of the Protestant Episcopal:Church; Bowden, ‘Apostolic Origin of Episcopacy; Carnochan, Early Fathers; Ogilby, Catholic Church in England and America; Chapin, Prinitive Chuch; Kip, Double ‘Witness of the Church’; Doane, Sermons and Charges; Ewer, Protestantism a Failure; Mines, Presbyterian Clergyman Looking for the Church.
8. Arminian and Prelatical.— Dickinson, Defence of Presbyterian Ordination; Welles, Divine Right of Presbyterian Ordination; Mason (John M.). Essays on Episcopary; Miller, On the Christian Ministry Wilson, Primitive Government of Christian Churches; Sparks, Letters on the Ministry and Ritual of the Episcopal Church; Wood, Objections to Episcopacy; Emory, Episcopal Controversy Reviewed; Bangs, Ordinal Church of Christ; Duffield, On the Claims of Episcopal Bishops; Snodgrass, On Apostolical Succession; Barnes, On the Apostolic Church; M’Ilvaine, on the Oxford Divinity; Hopkins, Novelties which Disturb our Peace; Shimeal, End of Prelacy; Smyth, On Apostolical Succession; also Presbytery and Prelacy; also Ecclesiastical Republicanism; Tydings, Apostolical Succession; Abbe, Apostolical Succession; — Gallagher, Primitive Eirenicon; Cheever, Hierarchical Despotismm; Upham, Ratio Disciplinae; Punchard, Congregationalism; Magoon, Republican Christianity; Kidder, Christian Pastorate; Coleman, Manual of Prelacy; New-Englander, Oct. 1873, art. 3. (D. P. K.)
The Priesthood (Ordination)