Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Customs of Primitive Churches, Qualifications of a Minister

VII. A man becomes a minister by three operations of God; the first is, his impressing on the partie's mind a sense of his special designation of him for the ministry, usually termed an inward call; the second is, endowing him with ministerial qualifications; some of which are natural, as good sense, proper utterance, meek temper, &c.; some are moral, specified both negatively and positively in the epistles of Timothy and Titus; some are evangelical, as aptness to teach, spirit of prayer, gospel learning, &c.; the last is, his influencing the church to introduce him to the ministry, styled an outward call, which implies election, ordination, and instalment. These three operations of God are essential to the being of a regular and authoritative minister.

1. He that instituted the sacred office, has also designed persons for it. This designation is noticed in the cases of some (Isai. xlix. 5. Jer. i. 5. Gal. i. 15, 16), and must be supposed in every like case; except we allow them to be true ministers whom God never designed for the ministry.
2. The manner in which this designation operates, towards bringing to pass the thing designed, is as followeth.
3. First, by God's impressing on the persons mind that it is his will he should preach the gospel; usually termed an inward call. This impression (which is none other than the voice of God in the conscience) binds the person to the ministry, as a matter of duty; and cuts him off from a liberty to decline it, or ever, afterwards, to lay it down, let the consequences be what they will. No man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. Heb. v. 4. A necessity is laid upon me; yea, wo is unto me, if I preach not the gospel. If I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. I Cor. ix. 16, 17. I am the door - he that entereth not by the door into the Sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. Joh. x. 9, 1, 2. How can they preach, except they be sent? Rom. x. 15.
4. Secondly, by God's endowing the same person with ministerial qualifications, which are an external evidence of God's designation of him for the ministry; and the ground of the church's calling him to it. When he ascended up on high - he gave gifts to men - and gave some pastors, and teachers. Eph. iv. 8. 11. Some of the ministerial qualifications (1) Are natural, as good sense, proper utterance, meek temper, &c. These things alone, it is true, betoken not a designation for the ministry; yet a want of either in a man shows that God never designed him for an office, which requires parts, eloquence and temper. Let no man think me a fool. II Cor. xi. 16. I will give you a mouth and wisdom, &c. Luk. xxi. 15. Not soon angry. Tit. i. 7. Some, (2) Are moral, specified negatively, and positively. "A bishop then must be blameless; not given to much wine; not a striker; not covetous, not greedy of filthy lucre; not a novice; not a brawler; not riotous; not unruly; not self-willed; not soon angry; not a polygamist." But must be "vigilant; sober; of good behaviour; hospitable; apt to teach; patient; ruling well his own house; a lover of good men; just; holy; temperate; holding the faith; able to convince gainsayers; and have a good report of them which are without." I Tim. iii. 3-6. Tit. i. 7-9. Some of the qualifications (3) Are evangelical, or special, as (1) Aptness to teach. The man of God must be apt to teach. 2 Tim. ii. 24. A bishop must be apt to teach. I Tim. iii. 2. (2) The spirit of prayer; I will pray with the spirit. I Cor. xiv. 15. (3) Gospel learning, viz., a sound and spiritual knowledge of the gospel. Thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, &c.. That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Tim. iii. 15-17. Apollos - an eloquent man and mighty in the scriptures. Act. xviii. 24. (4) Strong desires to save souls. I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren if by any means I might save some of them. Rom. ix. 3. ch. xi. 14, &c.
5. The third and last operation of God towards the being of a true minister is, his influencing the church to introduce the same person to the ministry, commonly styled an outward call. Here the church are workers together with God, not in a way of mere choice, but of bounden duty; for as soon as they perceive ministerial qualifications in any brother they are no longer at liberty to call or not call him to the ministry than they are to attend or neglect any other notices which God gives them of his will. When therefore a church hath done all, the person is no otherwise a minister of men, or by men than instrumentally; just as he of man and by man his natural existence, and yet it truly and properly a creature of God. He that entereth in by the door [viz. by Christ, who purposed and qualified, and inwardly called him to the ministry] is the shepherd. To him the porter [viz. the church power, for a like reason called the keys of the kingdom] openeth, and the sheep hear his voice. Joh. x. 2. 3.
6. Thus God hath joined together three things to co-operate toward the being of an orderly and authoritative minister, viz. a sense of duty in the conscience, which operates on the man himself; a collation of ministerial gifts, the sight of which affect the church; and in consequence thereof their giving him a proper call. The concurrence of these three like the concurrence of three witnesses, prove the point. If a man should be persuaded of an inward call, and yet have not gifts; or if he should be persuaded of both, and his church concur not; He must question the reality of his inward call, and gifts. Or if the agency of the church, and gifts should be in his favour without the inward sense of a call from God, his designation for the ministry remains a doubt; for he that appointed the end appointed the means also.
7. The outward call consists of three parts; election, ordination and instalment. See the following propositions.

Customs of Primitive Churches, Morgan Edwards, pages 15-17

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