IF Christ has in the world one great Catholic Institution, and if this Institution has authority to act for Him, to represent Him, and to carry on His work, it would seem to be obvious that it must have its officers appointed by Him with their various grades and functions, for efficiency of government, for accuracy and thoroughness of teaching; through whom its legitimate action is to be secured and the ends accomplished for which it is established. If you accept the fact of the Church of Christ, you must also accept the fact of the Church's Ministry as an essential part of it. Without a Ministry divinely sent and empowered, the Church could not be what it was intended to be, and in fact has ever been. The truth, therefore, in regard to the Christian Ministry, is of the same transcendent importance as the truth concerning the Church. In order to a true, Scriptural conception of the Church's Ministry and the removing at the same time of some misconceptions, it must be shown that the Church has and must have a Ministry or body of men, representing and appointed by its Divine Head, and that in such Ministry there are different orders or grades of office. [47/48] Then we shall be prepared to go on to the proofs of Episcopacy and Apostolic succession.
1. The first point is the fact of the Ministry. You may be surprised that this is not taken for granted. Why stop to prove what everybody admits? For does not every Christian Society have an order or office of clergy? But the point is not the fact of Christian Ministers in the Church and in every Christian Society, but is the Ministry essential to the Church? Could the Church, without it, exist and be continuous in History? Is there not in its origin and character a necessary, fundamental distinction between clergy and laity? This is denied' by large numbers of Protestants.
The ablest and best known writer, who has denied any divinely-made distinction between clergy and people in the Apostolic Church, is the Church Historian, Neander. According to him, the fact that all Christ's people are priests and prophets, is incompatible with any order or orders of men of Divine appointment invested with these functions. He says: "Christ, the Prophet and High Priest of Humanity, was the end of the Prophetic office and of the Priesthood." Again, "the essence of the Christian Community rested on this: that no one individual should be the chosen pre-eminent organ of the Holy Spirit for the guidance of the whole, but all were to cooperate, each at his particular position and with the gifts bestowed on him, for the advancement of the Christian [48/49] life and the common end;" [Church History, pp. 180-1.] as if the divinely appointed Apostolate and the orders of Presbyters and Deacons could be inconsistent with the responsibility of all in the Church's work! In His "Planting and Training of the Church," he bases "the History of the development of the Christian life and the constitution of the Christian Church in the early ages upon the Charismata or spiritual gifts that were so remarkably manifested in the Church at Corinth" (Chap. V). The gifts for government and for teaching, etc., seem to him to preclude any divinely appointed governors and teachers. Baur and his school, the teaching of which is now generally discredited, assumed a development of the officers of the Church out of the Christian brotherhood in the first and second centuries; as if there had been no Apostles chosen and sent by Christ, or as if these had no influence in determining what the orders and government of the Church should be. Of late writers, Dr. Edwin Hatch may be mentioned, who, in his Bampton lectures on "the organization of the early Christian Churches," takes a similar view. Thus he is in the congenial company of Dr. Harnack [Contemporary Review, August, 1886.] and many other scholarly German theorists, who have written ably upon this subject. One obvious reason for the great amount of attention that has been paid to the didache on "Teaching of the Twelve Apostles," an early manuscript of which [49/50] was recently discovered by Bryennios, is because this work lends an apparent support to these views of the Christian Ministry; for non-Episcopal translators of, and commentators upon this work have quite generally overlooked the fact that the Ministry of which it speaks is one of grades or orders, and that the Apostles were the highest;--a remarkable proof that the original Apostles had successors. As to the value of any testimony derived from the didache, see Note at the end of this Lecture.
It may be said of the view here referred to in some of its phases, that it was never held or promulgated, and never acted on, or in fact, represented in any part of Christendom until quite modern times, the Brownists or Independents (unless we may except some Anabaptists), being the first to put it in practice; and it may best be seen to-day in practical operation among the Quakers and Plymouth Brethren.
"There are," says Dr. Liddon, "in the last analysis two, and only two, coherent theories of the origin and character of the Christian Ministry. Of these one makes the Minister the elected delegate of the Congregation; in teaching and ministering he exerts an authority which he derives from his flock. The other traces Ministerial authority to the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ, who deposited it in its fulness in the College of the Apostles." [A Father in Christ, p. 8.] The former theory prevails very widely among Christians in this country. The [50/51] advocates of Presbyterian polity seem mostly to have yielded to it, though it was at first, and for a long time, disavowed. The Congregational polity is confessedly based upon it. And this polity characterizes most of the different denominations. The Minister, according to the Congregationalist view, is essentially a layman invested for convenience with the office of teacher and with the conduct of public worship and religious services. Some, it is assumed, have gifts qualifying them for one thing, some for another, so that in the Christian Society each will fall naturally into his place, and find the work for which he is fitted. Thus, in the practical operation of the Church, the Ministry becomes a fact. But all Christians are priests, prophets, teachers, rulers, and therefore none can have any real superiority over others. The Society delegates to Ministers all their authority. It follows that a Minister may at any time, without impropriety, lay aside his clerical functions for secular pursuits. Ordination is simply a recognition of the call of a Congregation, and of fitness in the recipient. Now, it will be found that this theory has no ground in reason nor in Holy Scripture. There is strong presumption of the necessity of a Ministry to the existence and integrity of the Church in the fact that from the Apostles' times the Ministry has existed and has been found necessary to the life and efficiency of the Church and its extension and propagation. What would the Church have been without Teachers, Governors, Spiritual [51/52] Pastors and Masters? How could Christianity have survived the conflict with heathenism without, and the still more perilous conflict with Gnosticism and heresy in the early ages, had it not been a compact organization with its orders of Ministry to marshal all its living forces and lead them on to conquest and victory? Would so important a matter as the Ministry have been left to the thoughtfulness and the general direction of Christians? Is it not altogether probable that it would have been provided for and definitely settled in the foundation and institution of the Church itself? Is this anything more than on a priori grounds might have been expected?
The State also, which is a Divine institution, affords an analogy of no small force in the argument. The State is ordained of God for the conservation and well ordering of society. But the State must have its government. It could not exist without its rulers. It would be only chaos without its permanent orders and grades of civil officers. The inference of reason is also a doctrine of Revelation, "the powers that be are ordained of God" (Romans xiii, 1). This is as true in the Church as in the State.
And the distinction of clergy and laity has been recognized in the Church from the Apostles' times. In the beginning of the second century we find it in Clement, Bishop of Rome; in Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch; in Poly-carp, Bishop of Smyrna; in Justin Martyr; and a little later in Irenaeus; in Origen, Tertullian. Cyprian; in fact, [52/53] in all the writers of the times who refer to the subject. The fact and the legitimacy of such distinction was never denied until comparatively recent times. How could all this be true, had not the founder of the Church so ordained and determined? How can it be supposed that He purposed and ordained it otherwise, and His will was set at nought by His followers from the beginning? The supposition is incredible. But we find this distinction recognized throughout the New Testament. The Ministers of Christ, appointed during His own Ministry, were the Twelve and the Seventy. He empowered His Apostles with full authority to represent Himself. "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you" (S. John xx, 21). Thus He gave them full authority to build upon and complete the foundations of the Church, and to guide and instruct it after His departure. To this end He not only ordained them and gave them the Holy Ghost, but He "spake to them of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God" (Acts i, 3). We find that they fulfilled their instructions, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who brought to their remembrance whatsoever things He had said to them. They builded according to the pattern shown unto them in the Mount. They made no experiments. They did not proceed tentatively. They went about their work of organization, as of teaching, confidently, as if knowing beforehand what they were to do, and divinely guided. Everywhere, under their supervision, Ministerial offices [53/54] were in fact restricted to particular orders of men. The brethren might preach in the sense of exerting all their influence to bring men to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Their new-born joy could not be restrained. They proclaimed the good news of salvation. They declared what God had done for their souls. They were ready to give an answer to everyone that asked of the hope that was in them. Thus all assisted, each in his measure, to extend the Church and the Gospel. But we do not find that any but Ministers had authority to unfold and expound the oracles of truth and to be "Stewards of the Mysteries of God."
We read of none but Ministers baptizing.
None but the Apostles themselves and those who succeed them are ever seen ordaining Ministers. None but Apostles confirm the baptized by the laying on of hands, conferring the gifts of the Holy Ghost (Acts viii, 17; xix 6), and establishing a principle of the doctrine of Christ (Heb. vi, 2). None but Ministers rule or feed the flock of Christ over whom the Holy Ghost has made them overseers (Acts xx, 28). None but chief Ministers or Apostles are held responsible, like Timothy and Titus, and the Angel-Bishops of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor, for the Spiritual condition of their people. In short, as soon as there is a Church, nay even before it, there is a Ministry. Jesus Christ, the first Minister, Apostle and Bishop, includes in Himself all orders of Ministry in all ages. [54/55] He gives to His Ministers of His own powers, which we find are exercised by them exclusively. No charge is tolerated of Ministerial assumption, no denial of Ministerial rights, no encroachments upon Ministerial offices. The brethren all rejoice to be spiritually governed, instructed and nurtured. Even they who are subjected to Godly Discipline do not question the power by which it is enforced. The Ministry is not, therefore, a convenience, a result of Church growth and development, a recognition of gifts for teaching or government. It is, on the contrary, a divine Institution for the right ordering and edification of the Church, for its extension into all lands and its perpetuation, with all its manifold gifts and powers, until its ends should be accomplished, and the Kingdom on earth should be delivered up unto the Father.
2. That the appointment and authority of the Ministry are immediately from Christ in its origin is so clearly stated in the Gospels as to be beyond question. Even apart from His own appointment it must be from Him, if it is essential, if it is an office and not merely a function, if it lies in the very structure and constitution of the Church.
But some further notice seems needful of that other view to which reference has been made, which has been advanced in these later times and defended with great plausibility. It is that Christ vested the appointment of Ministers in the Church, and that their authority to minister in things pertaining to God comes from an outward [55/56] and inward call--their inward call constituting them Ministers and the outward recognizing and approving it, ordination being only the accrediting of Ministers already made and qualified. This singular position needs examination.
The necessity of an inward call to preach and minister in Holy Things is claimed by Churchmen as distinctly as by any. "Do you trust that you are inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon you this office and ministration, to serve God for the promoting of His glory and the edifying of His people?" is the first question to every candidate for the lowest ministerial office. And all alike who are ordained, whether as Priests or Bishops, must think or be persuaded that they are "truly called according to the will of our. Lord Jesus Christ." But to think or trust or be persuaded of the call, can not be the elevation to the office, nor can it give valid assurance of being already in it, and of possessing its rights and privileges. For if this were so, what need of the formality of ordination? Why not let him preach and administer the Sacraments who thinks himself called and empowered to do so, without further ceremony, and leave it to the results of his work to set the seal of God upon his ministry? But the fact of Ministerial ordination in the Church as the proper appointment and official qualification for the work of the Ministry, the fact that the Apostles ordained (Acts i, 22; xiv, 28; 1 Cor. ix, 14; 1 Tim. iv, 14; 2 Tim. i, 6), [56/57] that Jesus Christ ordained (St. Mark iii, 14; St. John xv, 16; St. Matt, xxviii, 19; St. Mark xvi, 15; St. John xx, 22, 23); that everywhere in the New Testament ordination is made the prerequisite to the exercise of Ministerial functions, proves that over and above the inward call there must be a solemn setting apart and investing with power by the laying on of hands, of the Apostles, or those who have from Christ through them, authority and power to give it. [Preface to the Ordinal.]
Again, what proof would there be in an inward call that a man was actually a Minister? If the inward call alone gives authority, that call should give all needful qualifications. There could be no Ministers thus made, unapt to teach, unskilled in interpreting Holy Scripture, of vulgar tastes, of secularized habits of thought and feeling, ignorant of the first principles of the oracles of God. But is not this just the contrary of the fact? Is not this claim usually attended with fanaticism? Is it not usually found among sectaries who pride themselves on discarding any other but the supposed spiritual qualifications of their Ministry?
Nor can such call be sufficient even if felt by a man ripe in knowledge and truly godly in character. For how can he prove that he is a Minister? There are many men in the State who are amply qualified to fill its offices; to be Governors, Judges, Legislators. But docs a man's own [57/58] sense of fitness and inward prompting empower him for civil office? So far is this from being the case that even an election or designation by the appointing power, must be followed by a due induction into office by those who are authorized for this purpose; and in connection with such induction there must be the public assumption of obligations and the oath of fidelity. Why should it be, and how can it be, otherwise, with those who are called to minister in the Church of Christ? Every analogy shows the necessity of ordination.
The inward call was not deemed sufficient even in Apostolic times, when the Holy Ghost shed abroad His abundant gifts of inspiration and of miracles. On the theory in question it might well be supposed that men who could evince their meetness for the Ministry by speaking with tongues, and working miracles in the name of Christ, were1 really called and accredited to the office. But it was not thus that Ministers were sent forth. Our Lord in person called his Apostles and solemnly set them apart, and breathed on them and said, "receive ye the Holy Ghost," and commissioned them to baptize, and teach, and extend and propagate, His Gospel. The Apostles ordained both Presbyters and Deacons by the laying on of hands (2 Tim. i, 6; v, 22; Acts vi, 6; xiv, 23). When fit persons were elected by the brethren, it was the laying on of the hands of the Apostles with prayer that made them Ministers (Acts vi, 6). The Apostles gather around them [58/59] their colleagues and consecrate them to their work in the same manner. So the Apostolic Commission was handed on to Timothy and Titus and many others who fulfilled the Apostolic Ministry, when the growth of the Church required the multiplication of Chief Pastors, and after the Apostles were called away. It was only the false, the pretended Apostles, the Ministers who preached another Gospel, the original abettors of heresy, that claimed to exercise the Ministerial office without Apostolic ordination. The least a man could do now, who from a mere persuasion or inward feeling should claim the prerogatives of a Minister of Christ, would be to prove it by miracles. But even more than this would be requisite. For even St. Paul, who of all the Ministers of Christ mentioned in the Apostolic History might be thought to present any kind of parallel, received his appointment by our Lord in person. A call like that which St. Paul experienced on his way to Damascus, followed by the Ministry of an Ananias, would be requisite. No mere pretensions can give authority and accredit a Christian Minister.
But has not the congregation, the body of believers, the right to set apart and ordain their Minister? This is, to say the least, highly improbable, leaving out all reference to Scripture proof. For if they had the right, why have they not exercised it in Apostolic and primitive times, and the best ages of the Church? Why were they ignorant that they had it, till modern independency arose to enlighten [59/60] them? Is it at all likely that the power of ordination would have been in all ages conceded to a Ministry in direct succession from the Apostles, if it had been intended by our Lord that Ministers should be commissioned by the congregations to whom they are sent?
The very nature of Ministerial authority proves that it could not be thus conferred. We are Ministers of Christ, Ambassadors for Christ, says St. Paul, to the people. Jesus Christ was the great Apostle to a lost world. So He sends His Ministers. They have authority from Christ to discharge the functions which He assigns them, among those to whom He sends them. If the brethren are not Ministers, of course they cannot make a Minister. The appointment and authority must come from Him who sends them, as the appointment and accrediting of an ambassador must come from the Prince or the Government on whose behalf he goes forth. But how does Christ confer this appointment? We know no other way, no man has the right to assume that any other way is possible, than that pursued by the Apostles as guided by the verbal instructions of Christ and the inspiration of His Spirit. To them all Ministerial power was delegated. It was transmitted by them to others. Their ordinations and the ordinations of their successors were then, and in all ages have been regarded, as appointments from Christ Himself. [See the Offices of Ordination.]
 The analogy of a republic does not hold in its application to the Church. In other respects the Church may correspond to a representative government. Vestries, deputies to Church Councils, standing committees, and other like officers are chosen by the people, or by the people in concurrence with the clergy. But the powers of the Ministry come by transmission from Apostles to Bishops and those of their ordaining, from generation to generation.
3. Our third point will not detain us long. It is that in the Ministry of Christ there are essentially different orders or grades of office.
The small portions of Christendom who reject the Episcopal polity contend that there is a parity in the Ministry. By this they mean an equality in respect to powers and functions. The Deaconate they regard as a lay office. With some there is an office of Elders, or "ruling Elders," who are not strictly Ministers. These correspond to our Wardens. Neither Deacons nor Elders are included among Ministers of whom a parity is predicated. Ministers, they claim, are called in the New Testament indifferently Bishops, Elders or Presbyters--the office and authority of all being the same. The Apostolate they regard as temporary. They admit but twelve Apostles. These died and left no successors.
It must first be said of this theory that it is novel in the Church. It is essentially modern. It is subsequent [61/62] to the Reformation of the sixteenth century. As a matter of fact, there have ever been from the Apostles' times three orders in the Ministry of Christ's Church, as the preface to the Ordinal in the Prayer Rook testifies. The Episcopate has been actually in all Christian ages a higher and the Deaconate a lower order than the Presbyterate. This fact leads to the presumption that the difference is essential. The Reformers of Germany and Switzerland all held that the Episcopacy was Scriptural and had always prevailed. They only at first justified their departure from it on the plea of necessity. The argument against Episcopacy and for Parity in the one order of Presbyters was an afterthought. [Bowden's Letters to Dr. Miller, pp. 316-17, with reference to Strype; Life of Archbishop Parker, p. 40; Palmer on the Church, Chap. XII, Sec. 4.]
This presumption is increased by the fact that it has been found difficult to preserve this parity among those who profess it. In every Presbytery, Association, Assembly, or Ecclesiastical district, there are generally some who from their known ability, perhaps from their fondness for power and ambition for pre-eminence, acquire a conceded oversight and authority which is more than belongs to Bishops, because not defined and limited by ecclesiastical law. More than this. Almost every denomination among us has its Missionary Superintendents in assigned districts, a sort of de facto Episcopacy. This is dictated by. expediency. They are found necessary to success in the [62/63] work. The largest Protestant Body in this country is in form, though not in fact, Episcopal. It is an Episcopacy of office, not of order, and Bishops are held to be only Presbyters designated for special functions. Practically everywhere among those who eschew this order there are Bishops with other names and without the rightful powers and prerogatives of true Bishops.
Again, it would be strange if there should be an equality in the officers of Christ's Institution, when in every institution, from the State down through every society for whatever purpose, the expediency and even the necessity for a distribution, a graduation of rank and authority, results in such an arrangement. We cannot suppose that our Lord intended an equality in the Ministry, which is unattainable as it is undesirable in the government of all societies, and as history has proved, in the Church itself. And when it is considered that efficiency requires this division of power in grades of officers, and that even if this parity in the Ministry were attainable, it would result in utter weakness, the conclusion is inevitable that the Divine Framer of the Church's Government and Polity designed it substantially as it is known to have existed in primitive times, and as it is found to-day with all who claim Historical identity with the Church of the Apostles. Dr. Hatch closes his article in the Contemporary Review of June, 1885, in reply to, or criticism of, Dr. Liddon's "A Father in Christ," with the striking statement, which [63/64] means much more than he probably intended, "that the forms of organization which survive are survivals of the fittest, and thereby part of the moral government of God." We may well thank him for such conclusion. The forms which are fittest and also part of God's moral government, cannot but be of God's appointment or sanction, and intended by Him to survive. The fittest to survive and the survival because of God's moral government, cannot be fortuitous. Episcopacy survived because Christ ordained it and intended it for perpetuity, knowing it was fittest and necessary for the success of the Gospel of Christ in the world.
But why need we prove from rational considerations what is abundantly evident from the oracles of Truth? In the New Testament there everywhere appears this gradation which we claim. Apostles are the first order, Presbyter-Bishops or Elders the second order, and Deacons the third order. If this threefold Ministry existed everywhere in the second century, as all scholars admit, it is because it existed in the first. The Apostolic Ministry was the precedent and model, and was simply continued. An Apostle was of a higher order than a Presbyter, and a Presbyter than a Deacon. Timothy and Titus, and other colleagues of the Apostles, were of a higher grade than the Elders and Deacons whom they ordained and over whom they exercised supervision and discipline. They had powers in reference to the other lower Ministries [64/65] which could not be claimed as reciprocal, as any one can see who reads St. Paul's pastoral Epistles.
Thus evident it is that the Church has its Ministry, for Christ hath set in it Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers; that there is an inherent difference and ground of distinction between Clergy and Laity; that the authority of this Ministry is from Christ Who appointed it; and that there is an inequality, imparity of Ministerial function, a gradation of office, as a fundamental characteristic of the Ministry as divinely ordered and established. As the Collects, in the Order for the Ordination of Deacons, Priests and Bishops, assert so explicitly, "Almighty God hath appointed divers Orders of Ministers in His Church."
Let us not part without the practical application which must have already suggested itself to the thoughtful. This Ministry of Christ has its relations to you. Jesus Christ hath set in His Church these officers for your perfecting and edification. You are required to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. You are to pray for them, that the word of God they are commissioned to preach may have free course and be glorified. You are to account of them as the Ministers of Christ and Stewards of the Mysteries of God, for your growth in grace. You are to obey them, and submit yourselves as they teach and admonish, for they watch for your souls as they that must give account.
 Note.--A curious theory has lately been broached (See Church Review, January Number, 1887) that Episcopacy was developed in the latter part of the first century out of the Prophetic Office and not out of that of the Apostles. It is attempted to derive support for this theory mainly from "the didache" or "teaching of the twelve Apostles." We may first say of this theory that it is new. This, under the circumstances, is almost if not quite fatal to it. It were strange indeed if the earliest witnesses to the Faith of Christ and the Books of the New Testament, should have been mistaken in supposing that the Bishops of their time were successors of the Apostles, and the whole Church from the second century should have been led into the mistake; and that an obscure work lately found in a cursive manuscript, dating only from A. D. 1056, should be the only means of correcting so great an error! The first part of the "teaching:" concerning "the two ways,"" is common to the IVth Book of St. Barnabas and the VIIIth of the Apostolic Constitutions, whether of earlier or later date than the didache is not, pace the critics, by any means certain. The portion relating to the Sacraments and the Sacred Ministry is original. Nothing is found at all like it in any of the genuine remains of antiquity. It reminds one of parts of the Apocryphal Gospels. That "Baptism" is to be "in running water," "if not cold, then warm;"" that "an Apostle shall not remain" in one place "more than one day," and "if he remain three days he is an impostor," and so also "if he ask money;" that "no prophet who orders a meal in the spirit eateth of it, unless he be a false prophet," are extraordinary teachings. If these and such like, shall we call them puerilities? are the teachings of the twelve Apostles, and if any Churches of the first or the second century had customs based upon such "teachings,"1 it is very strange that this lately discovered eleventh century manuscript should be the only source of information upon the subject. If we accept the conclusion of recent Biblical critics, that the Doxology to the Lord's Prayer, not being found in the most ancient manuscripts, is not earlier than the fourth century, the fact that the didache contains the Lord's Prayer with the Doxology, would place it two or three centuries later than the date now claimed for it, or make it of little value by suggesting essential interpolations. May not most of the latter part of it be an interpolation? To rely on this "teaching" to prove anything in regard to the Ministry or Sacraments, is in our judgment premature. Criticism has not yet said its last word on this singular production, as to its date, its authorship, its country, its contents, its authority and value, or what parts of it are of the second and what of the fourth century, and what from orthodox and what from heretical sources. It certainly reflects but very remotely the real teachings of the Apostles, as judged by the genuine Apostolic writings in our Bibles. It may not be improper for the present to suspend judgment as to whether this, or what parts of it, is the work referred to by Clemens of Alexandria, by Eusebius, and by S. Athanasius. (See introduction by Drs. Hitchcock and Brown, of their beautiful edition in Greek and English.)
Since writing the above I have read Dr. Riddle's Introduction to the didache, in Vol. VII, of Bp. Coxe's edition of the Ante-Nicene Fathers. There is nothing [66/67] in it that seems to require the re-writing of this note. What he says, and still more what is implied from what he says, of certain peculiarities of the didache, its "simplicity almost to childishness," its "undeveloped Christian thought" and "indications of undeveloped heresy," its being "written for a community of Christians of some obscure locality," the utter uncertainty concerning the sources of its "contents of teaching and relation to other works," its "composite origin," its representing "only a small fraction of Christians," and that "it cannot be regarded as an authoritative witness concerning the universal faith and practice of believers at the date usually assigned to it," all these and other like admissions from such a scholar, who is evidently predisposed to regard the work as favorably as possible, are surely sufficient to warrant great caution in using the work to prove the origin of the Episcopate or anything in the doctrine and practice of the Church. With quite as good reason might the "Acts of Pilate," of "Peter and Andrew," of "Paul and Hecla," etc., be exalted into authorities.