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both of the poor and of the ministry, this being done from a common fund ; and their work is thus placed in direct contrast with that of “the twelve," which was "prayer and the ministry of the word.” While, therefore, the elders supervised the spiritual interests of the church, the deacons had supervision of its temporal interests. 4. The importance of the office is indicated by the special emphasis placed on the qualifications required. They are to be "men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and of wisdom; grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre, holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.” They should " also first be proved," and "then use the office of a deacon, being found blameless” (Acts vi. 1-6; 1 Tim. iii. 8–10). Great care, therefore, is to be taken, in selecting the deacons, to secure men whose cha- . racter shall command the respect and confidence of all men, and whose qualifications shall fit them for a wise and effective administration of the temporal affairs of the church.

In the hierarchical churches the deacons constitute the third order of spiritual officers, and are empowered to preach and baptize. They are not lay, but clerical, officers. As opposed to this view, however, it is significant that among the qualifications for the diaconate, Paul omits “apt to teach," and emphasizes those qualities which specially fit for secular duties, thus distinguishing the office from that of the preacher. The same distinction, separating the deacons to the temporal service, is seen in their original appointment. Philip, one of “the seven,” it is true, preached and baptized; but it cannot be shown that he did this in his character as deacon, for he was also an evangelist (Acts viii. 26-40; xxi. 8.)

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Deaconesses, it is evident, existed in some of the apostolic churches, for we read of Phebe, deaconess of the church in Cenchrea, and of certain women who at Philippi labored with Paul in the gospel, and who may be supposed to have had an official position (Phil. iv. 3). The injunction (1 Tim. iii. 11) which in the English version refers to deacons' wives ought probably to be understood rather of deaconesses, as also the passage relating to widows (1 Tim. v. 9, 10). The existence of this office also in the post-apostolic churches is shown by the unanimous testimony of historians. But, as the Scripture evidence does not prove the custom universal, the question of the appointment of deaconesses is, doubtless, to be determined by each church for itself. The seclusion of females in the East, and the peculiar relations of the sexes in Greek cities in the Apostolic age, must often have made such female officers a necessity; and, so far as similar circumstances may now exist, it would seem the duty of the church to appoint them.

The organization of the church, as it respects its officers, is thus one of divine simplicity and effectiveness. The natural and obvious division of its work-committing the spiritual supervision to the pastors, and the temporal to the deacons-secures the highest efficiency, while it gives no stimulus to the clerical pride and ambition so manifest under hierarchical systems.



Ordination, or the public investiture of church officers with official authority, is clearly scriptural. It is not,


however, the ultimate source of ministerial authority : this is found in the call of the Holy Spirit and the election by the church, of which ordination is the public recognition and the completing act.

This act, originally simple and beautiful as seen in Scripture, has been grossly perverted in the hierarchical systems which displaced the primitive church. In the Roman Catholic Church it is a sacrament, conferring the power of transmuting bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, and of remitting or retaining sins; and even among Protestants the conception of a certain magical power conferred by it is often apparent, as if a special, invisible grace were thereby secured. No such thought is found in Scripture.

The word ordain in the New Testament never denotes the ecclesiastical ceremony of ordination. It is used six times in connection with a sacred office, and is in each instance the translation of a different Greek word. Thus, Mark iii. 14: “Jesus ordained(epoiēse) “twelve to be with him ;” Acts i. 22:“ Must one be ordained(genesthai) "to be a witness;" Acts xvii. 31: "By that man whom he hath ordained(horise); 1 Tim. ii. 7: “Whereunto I am ordained a preacher(etethēn). In all these the reference is clearly, not to a formal ceremony of ordination, but to the choice or appointment to a sacred office. Thus, also, Acts xiv. 23: “When they had ordained" (cheirotonēsantes) "them elders in every church and had prayed with fasting," where ordained denotes plainly the act of choice, while the "prayer with fasting" may refer to the formal act of setting apart to the office; Titus i. 5: “That thou shouldst ordain(katastēsēs) “ elders in every city,” where the word signifies to constitute, appoint, and may possibly include the whole procedure, both the choice and the ordaining ceremony, but with evident emphasis


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on the former. The New Testament sense of ordain, therefore, is to choose or appoint, and does not necessarily or ordinarily refer to an ordaining ceremony.

Three instances of ordination, or the public setting apart to church office, are found in the New Testament, that of " the seven (Acts vi. 6), “whom they set before the apostles, and when they had prayed they laid their hands on them;" that of Barnabas and Saul (Acts xiii. 1-3), respecting whom the Holy Ghost said to the ministry at Antioch, “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;" and that of Timothy, to whom Paul said (1 Tim. iv. 14), “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery." To these actual cases there is added the injunction given to Timothy (1 Tim. v. 22), “ Lay hands suddenly on no man;" where the reference is clearly to ordination; and the natural inference is that the ceremony was customary in setting apart to the ministry. The following points are here to be noted : 1. The ministry alone confer ordination: in these examples, apostles, presbyters, and evangelists appear as officiating, but in no instance unordained persons. Special charge is given to the ministry in regard to the character and qualifications of candidates for the sacred office. Paul said to Timothy, “The things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also ;” and he solemnly enjoins the utmost care in testing their fitness for the work by the charge, "Lay hands suddenly" (hastily) “on no man." Evidently, the ultimate responsibility of admitting to the ministerial office is here devolved on the ministry itself. They only, therefore, may act in setting apart to the sacred work. This is plainly the scriptural order, and only extreme necessity will justify a departure from it. In the apostolic churches, where each was organized with its own presbytery, there were always those competent to confer ordination. 2. In the ordination of a minister there is an evident propriety in inviting the co-operation of other churches; for it is desirable that he should be recognized as a minister, and should perform ministerial functions outside of his own church. Hence, it is customary to call an ordaining Council. This should be composed, not of select churches, but of all the neighboring churches, that it may properly represent the whole community of churches; no minister should consent to serve in a packed Council. And as ordination is conferred only by the presbytery, or ordained ministers, the Council should not proceed to ordain without the concurrence of a majority of the ministers composing it; otherwise, it is not the act of the presbytery, and the ordination is not scriptural. 3. The form of ordination is prayer and the laying on of hands, sometimes with fasting: these only are the ordaining acts. Other services may, indeed, be connected, such as a sermon, a charge, and the hand of fellowship to the candidate and a charge to the church, as is at present the custom; but these are not essential to ordination. The original form was singularly simple and striking. It consisted simply in the invocation of God's blessing on the person thus called to a sacred work, and a solemn consecration of him to it by the significant act of the laying on of hands. 4. Ordination confers no new grace or power; for the ordained person was chosen to the office because the church saw already in him the grace and power requisite for it. The presbytery, in the ordaining act, gives the solemn public sanc

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