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nation may frame to itself somewhat of those halcyon days, when both minister and congregation, "walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost were multiplied;" but to enter into the full and absolute enjoyment of it, can only be the privilege of such, as in themselves are partakers of it.
It were well to make a pause here, and consider the striking contrast in conduct and deportment between the sent of God, and the sent only by man. While those, who never felt the plague of their own heart, (and therefore can have no apprehension whatever how to speak a word in season to him that is weary,) leap at once over all the divine fence to the fold; the called of God to the sacred office, as we read in scripture, though sanctified and set apart from the womb, shrunk from the high calling with holy fear and apprehension. When God spake to Moses from the bush, commanding him to bring out his people from Egypt, and to go before them in the wilderness; the man of God cried out, "Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel from Egypt?" And after repeated assurances from the Lord of his presence to go with him, and the certainty of his success; still the awful charge made him tremble at the prospect, and he expostulated with the Lord, saying, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant; but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue." Exod. iii. 11.-iv. 10. When Jeremiah, though assured by the Lord, that " before he formed him in the belly, and before he came forth out of the womb he sanctified him, and ordained him
all the youths matriculated for the church to be possessed of. I only leave it with the reader therefore to give me credit for the truth of my assertion, that in that day such was the state of things at the universities. The reader I leave to his own reflections on the same. He will confess, I hope, that grace stood high in the then esteem of the heads of colleges.
to be a prophet unto the nations;" when so divinely called, yet under an awful sense of the vast charge, he also exclaimed, "Ah! Lord God! behold I cannot speak, for I am a child!" Jer. i. 5, 6.
As far as we are enabled to form opinion, from the writings handed down to us, of those great men of the sixteenth century, the bishops were strict to the greatest nicety of strictness, in the examination of candidates for holy orders. It appears to have been a matter of no small anxiety with them, whom they ordained. They certainly had an awful sense upon their mind, to preserve the church from pastors unsent of God. They feared to wound their own consciences; and they alike dreaded to wound the consciences of the people. They no doubt concluded (as every one who thinks rightly must conclude) that no blessings could be expected from any ministry, which carried not with it the Lord's name. The word of the Lord by the prophet, was before them. "I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied." Jer. xxiii. throughout. So again; " Thus saith the Lord God, woe unto the foolish prophets that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing. Behold! I am against you, saith the Lord God!" Ezek. xiii.
When the holy season arrived for setting apart the servants of the Lord to the ministry of his word and ordinances; those ember weeks, as they were called, were spent wholly in godly exercises, reading, exhortation and prayer. The intervals of public worship at the cathedral, were occupied in a way suited to the great business which was impending on the Lord's day which was to follow. And the plan adopted was as similar as possible to what is related in the Acts of the Apostles, at the special ordination of the servants of the Lord, when the Holy Ghost said, "separate me Barnabas and Paul, for the work whereunto I have called them." Acts xiii. 2.
In a particular manner the last evening, preparatory to the Lord's-day, which followed for the ordination, we have reason to conclude, was observed with special strictness. The bishop gathered the whole of the young men together, that finally, and fully, before it was too late, if any one cause existed for which the ordination of either of them should be suspended, or for ever laid aside, it might then be known. And there is great reason to conclude, that besides prayer aud exhortation, questions of the most solemn and heart-searching nature were proposed by the bishop to each, and every one individually, on the great points of divine truth. And their knowledge of them, and enjoyment of them in their own souls, with the Lord's personal call to them to make known to others demanded. Such as, whether they felt such a desire to the service as led them to conclude, the moving to it was of the Lord? Do you believe the Lord is sending you into his service? Do you so depend upon this, as to seek all your furniture to the work from him? Is there a constraint laid upon you to preach the gospel; yea, a woe upon you if you preach it not? Is it your earnest wish and desire, and under the Lord's help, your firm determination also, to give yourself to reading, to exhortation, and to doctrine; that by continuing in them, you may both save yourself and them that hear you? Are these among the first and leading principles, for which you desire to give yourself to the ministry, first in dedication to the Lord, and then to his people? And finally, and above all, do you hope and trust you are called to the work, and have received these impressions from the Lord himself? And will you by constant prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, make your requests known unto God, that "the peace of God which passeth all understanding may keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus?"
The imagination may, in some measure, conceive, but no description can fully convey how very sacred such an interview must have been at a season so solemn; and with the prospect of ordination then in view, when questions of such a heart-searching nature took place preparatory to the introduction to the ministry. Let the reader figure to himself a venerable bishop, pourtrayed in all the anxiety of one responsible for admitting none but faithful servants of the Lord into his church; and standing between God and souls, to act the father over his youthful charge! Let him behold him, encircled with those sons of the prophets, waiting for the solemn moment approaching of dedicating them to the Lord! Let him view the whole circle, first, in serious enquiring, and then all bending their knees together in prayer, and the Lord in the midst bending the knee of their hearts, in pleading the divine presence and blessing to direct them! Surely, we might expect the consequence to follow which Tertullian, in the holy boldness of faith, declared to be the result of the prevalency of prayer in his days. 'Cælum tundimus et misericordiam extorquemus.' We knock at heaven, and the merciful heart of God flies open to receive us!'
I have not been able, from the records of those times, to gather sufficient matter to state the whole proceeding which took place in those seasons of ordination. But I venture to assume it for a principle hardly to be contended with, that every part of the service corresponded to the sanctity of the day. With such bishops, and such clergy, and coming from universities such as Oxford and Cambridge, where the truths of God were both preached, lived up to, and acted upon; surely the setting apart to the ministry must have been very solemn and interesting. And it will not be merely conjectural, or if it be conjectural, it is well founded in strong conviction, that the ordination sermons at those seasons were wholly directed to the great leading points
of doctrine, and life, and manners; in which the blessedness of all the sacred functions must consist.
The province of preaching on such high concerns cannot with propriety be committed to chaplains. For, although rank doth not always imply superior ability; yet, it is well known that the authority of office cannot fail of giving a preponderancy to what is said or done. And very sure I am, the highest dignity of every bishop is to act himself as the chaplain of the Lord. The man that is a bishop, and hath the truest apprehension of the nature and responsibility of his office, cannot but know, that it is to neglect the gift that is in him (if so be that gift is from the Lord's consecration), when he doth not meditate upon these things; and when he doth not give himself wholly unto them. To depute a chaplain to give charge to his clergy, is to lessen the importance of it. And although the ordination sermon ought not to be delivered ex cathedrá ; yet age and dignity will temper all that is said. Indeed, it might be expected that the apostle would be seen and felt, when, like Paul, the bishop exhorted by the meekness and gentleness of Christ. And, surely, there is somewhat the imagination enters into with a strong prepossession of delight, when the gracefulness of age is beheld coming forth to instruct youth. What a lovely picture is given of the apostle in this particular, in his pastoral exhortation to the church of the Thessalonians! His whole heart seems to have gone forth in love towards them; as if, while he considered his ministry for their welfare, his very soul was no longer his own. "We were gentle among you, (said he) even as a nurse cherisheth her children: so, being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us." 1 Thess. ii. 7, 8. Surely, a bishop never appears more venerable and lovely, than when condescending to