Images de page



ECCLESIASTICAL usages often take by the term evangelization, and the form in the mold of circumstances. preacher undertaking this work by the The history of the various church poli- name evangelist. ties reveals the fact that principles have These terms are certainly scriptural. been stretched, bent, compressed, and it is admitted on all hands that in apossuited to the civil and social condition tolic times there was an order of evanof Christianity, while its friends have gelists in the Christian ministry, to not been sufficiently careful to inquire which belonged Philip, the evangelist, into the scripturalness of what they Timothy, whom Paul exhorted to do sanction. An ecclesiastical error once the work of an evangelist, Titus, who incorporated into the usages of a church actually performed the same work, and is corrected with great difficulty. The many others. Yet the assumption has prestige of antiquity and the “Fathers” been made by some, that such persons is urged in its defense, and there are do not constitute a permanent order in some men whose veneration for the the Christian ministry; that we should acts of their denomination in its primi- restrict ordination, except in case of tive times almost exceeds their rever- those sent on some definite missionary ence for the Acts of the Apostles. work, to those who are installed pas

These remarks find an illustration in tors of the churches effecting their orsome of the modern standards and ex- dination. positions of Congregationalism con- Before endeavoring to establish the cerning a certain agency for the diffu- point that the office of evangelists was sion of the gospel which was potent designed to be permanent, it may be in the days of Paul, and might be ren- well to inquire, if so, why has the fact dered highly efficient at the present been almost overlooked in the Congretime of opened doors, wide and effect- gational church polity as developed in ual. I mean the agency established by our own country? apostolic usage for the diffusion of the

Among the influences contributing gospel where churches prepared to re- to this result, are these: ceive and sustain a settled ministry can 1. The predominantly religious charnot be secured without some years of acter of the people in New England patient effort. The term missionary during its early history, having been used in modern times prin- The ecclesiastical usages of that age cipally to denote one sent far hence to

were very much affected by the fact the heathen, — this word, even when that the mass of the people, if not Chrisqualified by the word home, does not tians, were, from principle, the supportfully designate the agency in question. ers of Christian institutions.

The nature of the work to be accom- A church was deemed an indispensaplished in wide regions of our own ble organization in every colony and country where there are no nominal community large enough for its existheathen, — the slow and laborious pro- ence. Hence the ministerial work of cess by which self-supporting churches that time was not to set agencies in are to be secured in many communi- operation for the conversion of the peoties of our land, are better designated ple to a belief in the importance of Christian churches, to form them for of which we must not go, is like relying church membership, and for the duty on the rules for the management of of receiving and supporting preachers heavy artillery in a campaign against of the gospel. They already had either flying guerrillas. piety or principle for these works, and 2. Another cause of imperfect views the only practical question was to sup- respecting the office of evangelists, is: ply such churches as sprung up out of An illogical inference from the printhe convictions of the people with a ciple strenuously held by the Puritans, settled ministry. This required only that it is the prerogative of the local the order of the ministry designated as church to ordain its own minister. bishops or elders, and the main ques- This is certainly a doctrine of the tion was, how shall these be constituted New Testament; but does it follow and settled?

from it that no ministers are to be orHad our wide West, with its teem- dained, unless, at the time, they are ing population, regardless of churches, wanted by some already existing indifferent to the gospel and its minis- church, as settled ministers? ters, been before the minds of the This seems to be the inference of Mathers, and Cotton, and Davenport, some. They quote the fathers of Conthey would have written some things gregationalism to prove that we should concerning the New Testament agency not ordain candidates for the ministry for evangelizing these regions, which, until they are elected by some church under their circumstances, never oc- to the pastoral office. The argument curred to them. The question in their is, that it was the custom of those fatime was how to take care of church- thers to ordain only under such circumloving communities, and give them an stances, therefore we should not tranable and a permanent ministry. The scend their usage. But who can prove details of this work they set in order that, under our circumstances, with the according to the mind of Christ; but unchristianized population of the West we are not to infer that they have set and South before them, they would not forth the whole New Testament scheme have ordained all the Philips and Timfor the propagation of the gospel othys to be found, and sent them out through the agency of Christian minism in the name of the churches, to raise up ters. Bonaparte developed the laws new churches, and to be to them as pasof warfare for large armies working in tors, without the nominal existence of countries well supplied with munitions the pastoral relation, until such times of war; yet something more has lately as it could be wisely constituted? The been said about the management of argument that because our fathers ormilitary expeditions against an unset- dained only those who were to fill the tled race on our frontiers; and we shall pastorates of local churches, we should yet learn that the science of war can ordain no others, is precisely like the find ways to meet such a foe, of which reasoning by which some would discard even the genius of Napoleon never the practice of infant baptism by quotspoke.

ing the passage,

“He that believeth In the religious conquest of the West and is baptized,” &c. We reply to and South, we shall find that there are such, the passage respects only adults, evangelizing agencies contemplated in and is not meant to cut off children. the New Testament which the condi- And we may say, the doctrine of the tion of the New England fathers did fathers, that ordination is an act by not require them to use. To quote which a local church supplies itself them as authorities, beyond the letter with a pastor, is correct for churches prepared to receive, settle, and support Another circumstance which has of pastors, but it has no reference to late brought the order of Evangelists churches in a state of infancy; none to into distrust is : the process of begetting and bringing 3. Certain abuses of the office by men churches into the kingdom of Christ. not properly discharging its functions. We may assume, from the genius of the We find many references to these gospel as a world-wide gift to men, abuses in the religious periodicals of that it will include agencies for the the last fifty years. A writer in the planting and training of churches un- “ Christian Spectator” for 1829 comder the care of competent ministers, plained that “Associations and occapossessing all the prerogatives of the sional councils, too, are ordaining & ministerial office, and exercising them great number of our licentiates, or, as for the benefit of such young and fee- they have been significantly styled, ble churches, until they are prepared candidates for the ministry of the to receive and support a settled minis- gospel,' not for the purpose of installing try.

them as pastors over churches, not as The remark, that the limited experi- missionaries foreign or domestic, not ence of the early New England fathers for any specific work requiring the narrowed their views and statements services of an ordained minister, but to on this subject, may be applied without seek employment” as revivalists or any disrespect to some of the present preachers among our settled ministry. Nestors in the camp of New England This practice still exists. There are Congregationalism. They speak and men called evangelists in regions where write with only their little region of the kind of labor which they undertake this great land in their thoughts, — a is of a doubtful character. But we spot insignificantly small on a map of should not allow our distrust in such the United States, -a tract of our coun- men and their measures to prejudice try which we could more than cover our judgment on the question before could we overlay it with some single us. We are not arguing for a class of one of the States west of the Missis- supernumeraries among settled minissippi. Could we transport these good ters. The office which we have recogmen from their hill-girt homes to the nized is quite different from that prairies of the West, wide and free as assumed by reputed revivalists. The the blue expanse above, - could we order of New Testament Evangelists give them a journey over the vast will not build on the foundations of spaces that stretch away under their other men. They will not crowd into setting sun, — peopled with millions the sphere of settled ministers, — they who must be won to Christ, if at all, find work in the regions beyond the by conquest; they would return to reach of such men. their little district east of the Hudson I will allude to another circumstance with at least one new idea, and that which has affected our views on this idea would be that if the New Testa- doctrine of evangelists : ment does not provide and recognize 4. In our arguments against the difan order of men to be ordained to go ferent clerical orders of the Episcopacy and plant churches in this immense we have sought to gain strength by tract of country,-churches over which narrowing the issue to the proposition they cannot be installed for years in that pastors are the only permanent some instances, - then it ought to pro- order of ministers recognized in the vide such an agency, and is imperfect New Testament. We have feared to without it.

admit that so far as their work is concerned there may be two orders in the year as I hire my Irishman; you are Christian ministry, lest we should be inevitably made weak and deprived of driven to the admission that the official great moral power. You are under authority of the two may also differ. the influence of a system that degrades Hence we have shown that the twelve you”? Is it to be expected that men apostles had no successors, because, even with considerable grace, who are from the nature of the work to which doing the work of evangelists in the they were called, they could have none. West, can read grave discussions by They were to be the witnesses of their installed brethren intended to Christ's life, teachings, death, and res- show that ministers who are not inurrection. Their testimony we receive, stalled are inferior to themselves in and discard all pretended apostolic suc- ministerial rank, if indeed they ought cessions. By many, it is attempted to to be called ministers, and not be dispose of the New Testament Evan- tempted to say, “come out of your gelists — and by this, I do not mean the clerical corners into the wide field authors of the four gospels- in the same where we preach, and we will show you way. They are dropped as a tempo- men who are hired by the year without rary class of laborers, needed at that degradation, — uninstalled but not untime, but not as a permanent order of stable, -- and exerting a wider and ministerial laborers. We have only stronger moral power than many who then to show that pastors, teachers, stand, withered and dry, where instaloverseers, and bishops are interchange- lation planted them years ago”? But able terms, denoting one and the same we would not seem to speak with feeloffice, and we carry our point against ing on this subject. We have only a the advocates of the clerical ranks of desire that the cause of Christ sutfer Episcopacy. But is it necessary to no detriment. Those doing the work success in this argument that we take of evangelists would not be hindered the ground that there is only one order by the utterances of ministerial brethin the Christian ministry as respects its ren who might speak and think differoffice work? May there not be more ently with a more extended knowledge than one order in this respect, while in of facts and a wider experience. all matters of rights, authority, and But it is time to inquire what reasons official standing, there is an essential can be urged in favor of the view that equality, while the functions of the the order of preachers called evangeministry are common to all ? Can we lists in the epistles of the New Testanot present a better front to Episco- ment was designed to be permanent? pacy by assuming this level and com- Is ordination without installation now mon ground that whether we are in- necessary for the work of planting and stalled and settled, or, having been duly raising up churches, not on heathen ordained by churches which we have ground merely, but in many wide left for the work, are preaching and sections of our own civilized country? raising up churches not yet prepared The question arises, why not send to “settle” us,– that we are all equal in forth men with only a license to preach the prerogatives of the Christian min- and when they can organize a church, istry,- than we can present while some let them be ordained by it, and installed who fancy themselves elevated on hills over it? To one without experience in and even mountains by installation, such work this might seem wise. But look down upon their uninstalled breth- those who attempt this labor in ren, as on plains and in valleys, and the newly settled parts of our country say to them, “ you are hired by the find that it often requires several years to raise up a church to such a condition fancy and time of growth, often very of strength that a minister could wisely slow. make it the object of his whole care. 1. The office of evangelists is spoken It is necessary to have two, three, and of as distinct from that of pastors and sometimes more, young churches under teachers, prophets and apostles. the care of one preacher, who shall In Eph. iv. 11, Paul says, “and he divide his labors among them. It gave some apostles, and some prophets, would be inexpedient to ordain one and some evangelists, and some pastors, over several distinct churches, perhaps and teachers.” From this passage we in rival communities, and no one of learn that the office of evangelists is several such churches may be so much distinct from the others mentioned, and stronger than the rest as to make it may co-exist with them -- that it is a proper to ordain the preacher over it, gift of Christ to his church and is of and if this thing were done it would the same general nature and design as often disqualify him for exerting the the office of pastors. It is mentioned best possible influence in his whole as co-ordinate with this office, and, so field. Churches in this condition need far as appears from the passage, of the sacraments, and, as according to equal importance. custom, a licentiate could not adminis- 2. The office of evangelists was given ter them, great embarrassment would to the church for the same end as that arise from the difficulty and often im- of pastors. All the offices mentioned possibility of effecting exchanges with are said to be alike given “for the perthose who were ordained. Such church- fecting of the saints, for the work of es need in their ministers all the func- the ministry, for the edifying of the tions of the ministerial office --every- body of Christ.” It is here declared thing that can enhance the personal that the work of an evangelist is of the power and influence of the men who same nature, in its effects, as that of a are to take charge of them. They pastor. It is the work of the ministry should be competent for every minis- no less than a pastor's labor. It tends terial function in order to influence the to build up the body of Christ, which community and give dignity to their is the church, and to fill out the charwork. For these reasons men who are

acter of the saints. Without good only licensed to preach and are virtual- reason, we are not to assert that an ly deemed under probation for ordina- office, of which such are the results, tion are not the men for raising up new was temporary, and has now ceased churches. It is enough that the church to exist. It appears, be an “experiment;” it is too much that 3. That persons called evangelists, its preacher be an experiment" also. and appointed to do the work of evanHe should be a man in whom some gelists, received the same instructions, church has already expressed the con- and discharged the same functions as fidence implied in ordination.

did pastors. In Acts xxi. 8, Paul says The following particulars are deemed “We entered into the house of Philip proof that the New Testament con- the evangelist, which was one of the templates the permanent existence of seven” who some years before were an order of ministers, ordained without chosen deacons. Soon after Philip's installation, and possessing all the pre- appointment as deacon, we are told, rogatives of the Christian ministry and in Acts viii. 5, that he went down to exercising them in the planting and the city of Samaria and preached untraining of Christian churches, where to them. He wrought miracles and such churches must have an in- baptized believers (Acts viii. 38). In

[ocr errors]
« PrécédentContinuer »