A Plea for the MINISTRY, OR Certain Propositions asserted out of the Scri­ptures concerning the Ministry.

As concerning

  • Its Continuance.
  • Ordination.
  • Work.
  • Maintenance.

With the Answers of divers Objections that occurre.

By WILLIAM WICKINS Pastor of Andrew Hubbard, London.

2 CORINTH. 3.5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. Our sufficiency is of God, who also hath made us able Ministers of the new Te­stament, not of the Letter but of the Spirit, for the Letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life, but if the ministration of death, written and ingraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly be­hold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance, which glory was to be done away, how shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glorious, much more doth the mi­nistration of righteousnesse exceed in glory, for even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth, for if that which was done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

LONDON, Printed by A. M. for Thomas Ʋnderhill and William Raybould, at the Blew Anchor, and at the Unicorn in Pauls Church-yard. 1650.

A Plea for the MINISTRY.

PROP. I. That there is a Ministeriall Office in the Church of Christ, to continue to the end of the World.
Proof. 1.

1 TIM. 3.1.‘This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a Bishop, he desireth a good work.’

IT is not uselesse the Preface of the Apostle, This is a true saying. It is used once before, [...]. but about a weighty businesse, 1 Tim. 1.15. This is a faithfull saying (the same phrase) and worthy of all accepta­tion, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sin­ners, &c. By the rule of contraries, an untrue and unfaithfull saying, that there is no such office to be desired, a saying worthy of no acceptation. Again, the office of a Bishop; [...]. it is spoken of that good office bad Iudas had, and into which another was to succeed, Acts 1.20. And his Bishoprick let another take; [...]. as bad as he was, his Office was to be supplied by another, which was Ministeriall, Acts 1.17. [...]. For he was numbred with us and had ob­tained part of this Ministry. And the Elders ordained by the Apo­stles have the same name given them, Acts 20.28. Take heed therefore to your selves and to all the flock, over the which the holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God. They are said to be over the flock, it is Scripture Language, [...]. for though it be rendred as it may, in which, [...]. yet the preposition [...] carrieth as much? yet we would not be understood of Lord­ship, the Apostle is against it, 1 Pet. 5.1, 2, 3. The Elders which [Page 2]are among you I exhort, &c. v.2. Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, &c. v.3. neither as being Lords over Gods heritage. [...]. But that none might too eagerly catch at the translation, let the Elder here have but his right, and write it, in which, if you please. Again, they were such as were to feed the flock. [...]. I will passe by the full signification of the word, least I cause jealousie, which before I desired to give no occasion to, yet to feed the flock every one must needs confesse to be a Metaphor taken from the Shepherd, and Christ himself is stiled, the great Shepherd of our souls, 1 Pet. 5.4. When the chief Shepherd shall come. [...]. Further they are wished to take heed to all the flock: Surely all these denote an Officer, this Officer is called an Overseer or Bishop, the word being as before.

2. Matth. 28.20. And loe I am with you alway unto the end of the world. He speaks to his eleven Disciples, elsewhere term­ed Apostles, v.16. Then the cleven disciples went away into Gali­lee, into a mountain where Iesus had appointed them. v.17. And when they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted. v.18. And Iesus came and spake unto them, All power is given me in heaven and in earth. v.19. Go ye therefore, to wit, the eleven Disciples, whom he cals Apostles, Luke 6.13. And when it was day he called unto him his disciples, and of them he chose twelve whom he also called Apostles, one of the twelve, to wit, Iudas, was gone unto his own place. Again, their work is to teach and baptize, [...]. v.19, 20. Go ye therefore and teach all nations, bapti­zing them in the Name of the Father, &c. And here you have the promise, And loe, I am with you alway even unto the end of the world, Amen. It may be worth while to observe the connexion, Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, [...] and loe I am with you. The speciall notice Christ would that they should take of it. [...] Loe I am with you. They did take great notice of his going from them, and they knew he would not return till the end of the world, but he would that they take as much notice of his presence with them in their Ministe­riall work, [...]. Loe I am with you. Once more take notice how it is ratified, Amen, let them be whose words they will, Christs or the Spirits, it witnesseth and seals the truth.

But if any would reply to that expression, to the end of the [Page 3]world, because it may be rendred to the end of the age. Consi­der,

  • 1. the phrase is used, Matth. 13.39. The enemy that sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the world, the reapers are the Angels, v.40. As therefore the tears are gathered and burnt in the fire, so shall it be in the end of the world. v.49. So shall it be in the end of the world, the Angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just. Matth. 24.9. Tell us when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world: in all which places it undeniably reaches beyond a present age, to the end. If any hold be taken of the last by any, let them make all the Symptomes given by Christ appliable to that present age.
  • 2. It here expounds or further declares the precedent words rendred alwaies, how they are in the originall we have given you in the Margin.

Lastly, the work here in­joined, to which the promise is annexed, is perpetuall to the end, to Preach and Baptize.

3. Ephes. 4.11, 12, 13. And he gave some Apostles, and some Prophets, and some Evangelists, and some Pastors and Teachers, for the perfecting of the Saints, for the work of the Ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a pefect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulnesse of Christ. Particular Officers are here designed, some Apostles, and some Prophets, and some Evangelists, and some Pastors and Teachers, and all is for the work of the Ministry. And the continuance is clear, [...] v.13. Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the sta­ture of the fulnesse of Christ: and when all this, the Saints per­fected, the Church edified to a fulnesse, and we all come to com­pleatnes? but in the end, when as the Apostle saith, the Church shall be presented to Christ, without spot or wrinkle, Ephes. 5.27.

If it be said, that Apostles, Prophets and Evangelists be ceased, We answer, there are yet pastors and teachers, the others laid the foundation and had office and gifts accordingly, these do build thereupon, but if we will take away them also, then we must conclude, which we cannot with any reason, that we are all come to a perfect man, and to the measure of the stature of the fulnesse of Christ.

PROP. II. That no man ought to assume this office unto himself, uncalled.

HEbr. 5.4. And no man takes this honour to himself, but he that is called of God. [...].No man may doe it, can doe it, with­out sinne, and an undue usurping of honour. 1. This honour: what if we say honourable Office, for it is plain the Apostle speaks of an office, [...]. and that ministeriall, for man in things per­taining to God, [...]. as he phrases it, v.1. Again,

  • 1 Aaron was called of God. v.4. As was Aaron.
  • 2 Christ glorified not himself. v.5. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high Priest, but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.
  • 3 For whom is it then meet to honour himself by putting him­self into an honourable office, for man in things appertaining to God, uncalled.

Yea, but the Apostle speaks of the High-priesthood as Leviti­call in Aaron, and according to the order of Melchizedech in Christ.


  • 1 That principally he doth,
  • 2 That by proportion it must extend to all Ministeriall officers.
    Per analogiam.
    • For first they are for men in things appertaining to God, and shall every one that will con­secrate himself, though he be of the lowest of the people, or that are least esteemed in the Church, as the Apostle terms it? he saith of them, and that in things appertaining to men, that they should be set to judge (1 Cor. 6.4. If then ye have judge­ments of things pertaining to this life) set them to judge,
      who are least esteemed in the Church.
    • Secondly it is an honour.
    • Thirdly an office, both these are not to be taken but given.

PROP. III. That an externall mediate calling by men, is necessary in the ordi­nary state of the Church.

1. THerefore did the Apostles ordain Elders in every Church, Acts 14.23. And when they had [...], See D. Sea­mon of ordina­tion, p. 10 &c. ordained them [...]. Elders in [Page 5]every c Church. 2. And therefore was Titus left at Creet, e [...], the phrase [...] and [...] so used in the New Testa­ment. Tit. 1.5. For this cause left I thee in Creet, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain Elders in every City as I had appointed thee. We need not fear that any will assert these to be civil Elders, since that Titus was left by Paul to ordain them, but Elders here in the Church are to be ordained by Titus as in order to the setting of things in order that were wanting. Yea this is done not according to the Prudence of Titus, but the appointment of Paul, and therefore it is, [...]. as I have appointed thee. All which had been superfluous, if an externall mediate call by man were not requisite. For what may be said pro or con concerning the word, That thou maiest ordain in the originall, [...]. I refer to that solid Piece of the Learned Author Dr Seaman in his Treatise of Ordination p. 6. 3. And there­fore also are rules left on record to note out fit persons for this office, 1 Tim. 3.2, &c. A Bishop then must be, &c. not for any only to judge himself by, but thereby to be judged, ver. 14, 15. These things write I unto thee that thou maiest know how thou oughtest to behave thy self in the house of God. These things must needs referre to what is immediatly before, to wit, [...]. the qualifi­cations of such as are to be made Deacons or Bishops. 4. A Caveat given, that hands be laid on no man suddenly, 1 Tim. 5.22. Lay hands suddenly on no man, [...] which Timothy had no need to be warned in, had an internall call from God been sufficient.

PROP. IV. That in calling to the Ministry, Ordination is to be used by Prayer, Fasting and Imposition of Hands.

FIrst, For Fasting and Prayer. 1. Acts 14.23. And when they had ordained them Elders in every Church, [...]. and had prayed with fasting, &c. And there is not any ground of quarrell about this, by reason of the manner of delivering the words, because 2. the very weightinesse of the work it self presses so much on us. Secondly, For Imposition of Hands, the place a little above, 1 Tim 5.22. and the Imposition of Hands in this place, is the more to be considered, because it is given in among the standing [Page 6]rules for a man of God to proceed by in the Church, and the connexion it hath with that that follows, viz. Neither be par­takers of other mens sins, Keep thy self pure. It was used in the time of the old Law, and likewise in the Apostles time, accom­panied with the bestowing of the gifts of the Spirit: yet likewise we finde it to extend it self further, as in this place, so 1 Tim. 4.14. where is spoken of the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery, and Act. 13.2. Paul and Barnabas being to be separated to the work whereunto God had called them, they fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, and sent them away: so that notwithstanding whatever may seem to be urged against it as ceremoniall in the law, or as being accompanied with gifts now ceased, yet by those later Scriptures it may well be look­ed upon as a solemn Apostolicall rite fit to be used in setting one apart to the work of the Ministry.

PROP. V. That this Ordination all along the new Testament, was performed by men in the Ministry.

AS Acts 14.23. And when they had ordained them Elders, &c. There needs no great contest about the word [they] the con­text seriously looked upon will give light sufficient, ver. 20. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe, that is, Paul with Barnabas, and when they had preached the Gospel; (they two) to that city, and had taught many, they returned a­gain to Lystra and Iconium and Antioch (the same they) con­firming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdome of God. And when they had ordained them Elders in every Church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord on whom they beleeved. And after they had passed through Pisidia, they came to Pamphilia, and when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down unto Attalia, and thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God, for the work which they fulfilled. Of which work this is part, that they ordained Elders in every Church. [Page 7]2 of Timothy it is clear, as before, 1 Tim. 5.22. 3 of Titus it is as manifest, Tit. 1 5. And as for the ordaining of Ministers by the people, at least without Elders, Sine Presbyte­ris. there is not the least in the whole new Testament, which I conceive were not amisse for those to consider, who in another case stand much upon it. There is no precept, there is no example, as likewise by them that would come up to Scripture-rule in all things.

PROP. VI. That unto them which are called to the office of the Ministry, be­longs the care of souls, the preaching of the word, the ad­ministration of the Seals, and that of office, as Ministers of the Gospel.

HEb. 13.17. Obey them that have the rule over you, and sub­mit your selves, for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account. They watch for your souls, the good of them, [...]. and as those that are charged with them, as they that must give ac­count, which is the direct work of those that are spoken of ver. 7. Remember them that have the rule over you, who have spo­ken unto you the word of God: Spoken it by way of preaching it, and upon this ground is the Apostles injunction or exhortation, Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit your selves, [...]. for, &c. which must needs inferre more then a meer watching over one another of charity, ex charitate, otherwise nothing is here required but a mutual and brotherly submission one to ano­ther, which is clear against the Apostles scope. 2.1 Tim. 3.2. A Bishop must be apt to teach, [...]. which inferreth more then a remote ability, and yet implieth his ability in reference to his work, which is in ver. 1. called a good work. 3.1. Cor. 4.1. [...]. The Mini­sters of Christ are stiled Stewards of the mysteries of God: Let a man so account of us as the Ministers of Christ and Stewards of the my­steries of God. Mat. 28.19, 20. They are to teach and baptize, [...]. Go teach and baptize all Nations, being the eleven Disciples or Apostles, as we have touched above.

PROP. VII. That these Ministers labouring in the word and doctrine, ought to be maintained by the Church of God.

1 COr. 9.7. Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard and eateth not the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock and eateth not of the milk of the flock? ver. 8. Say I these things as a man, or saith not the Law the same also? v.9. For it is written in the Law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the Oxe that treadeth out the corn: doth God take care for Oxen? v.10. Or saith he it altogether for our sakes, for our sakes no doubt this is written, that he that ploweth should plow in hope, and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope, ver. 11. If we have sown unto you spirituall things is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnall things? v. 13. Doe you not know that they which minister about holy things, live of the things of the Temple? and they which wait at the Altar, are partakers with the Altar? v.14. Even so hath the Lord ordained, [...] &. that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel.

Yea, but Paul laboured with his hands.

  • 1. But so did not other of the Apostles.
  • 2. That then he had power to forbear, ver. 6. Or I only and Barnabas,
    have not we power to forbear working?
  • 3. That it was upon special reason why he did so for the pre­sent occasion.
    Probic & nunc.
  • AS
    • 1. That he might not abuse his power in the Gospel, by being chargeable where it could not be without op­pression, v. 18. What is my reward then? verily, that when I preach the Gospel, I make the Gospel of Christ without charge,
      that I abuse not my power in the Gospel. And that he speaks of an oppressive charge is clear, 2 Corinth 11.9. And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: For that which was lacking to me, the brethren which came from Mace­donia supplied, and in all things I have kept my self from being burdensome to you,
      and so will I keep my self.
    • [Page 9]2. That upon this occasion of living on the Gospel, the Gospel it self might not be hindred, v. 12. If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather: Neverthelesse we have not used this power,
      but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the Gospel of Christ.

Yea, but he puts his example as a pattern to Elders, Act. 20.34. Yea, you your selves know, that these hands have ministred to my necessities, and to them that were with me. v.35. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring, you ought to support the weak.

  • 1. The Apostle doth not build with one hand and pull down with another, he acquaints the Church at Corinth of that power which they that preach the Gospel have to live upon the Gospel: and we cannot imagine that from these he takes it away, especially since he had said, even so hath the Lord ordained; it is expresly then jure diuiuo, that they that preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel.
  • 2. Therefore it must needs follow, that by propounding his own example he would take them from the abuse of that power, that they should not be oppressively burthensome, which he alway avoided,
    which is further hinted in those words, that so labouring ye ought to support the weak.

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