From the book, The Memoir of David King - Ministry in the Church of Christ.
Introductory (pages 238-241).
SACERDOTALISM culminates in an Œcumenical Council and an Infallible Pope. When the Apostle John saw a vision of the apostacy, he wondered with great astonishment. And well he might! But extremes beget extremes. Scylla and Charybdis are an every day experience. Scylla and Charybdis are an every day experience. Consequently Quakerism and its modification, Plymouth-brethrenism, have been played off against Greek, Roman, and Anglican priestliness. There the priest is all - here the Holy Spirit is the President of the worshipping assembly, and, theoretically, every believer takes that ministering place to which the Spirit moves him. But ministry in the Church of Christ, in view of these extremes, is distinctly central, and has nothing in common with either. The priest forbids his lay-brother to preach or to minister the ordinances. He sustains his prohibition by Scripture, misapplied, of course. He cites - "No man taketh this honour upon himself but he that is called of God as was Aaron." Aaron was called by a prophet of God, and set apart for his office by solemn consecration. But Paul’s allusion to Aaron has no connection with preaching, none with the ordinances of the Church, and none with any work or service committed to the children of God, or to any class or section thereof. It refers solely, as the context proves, to the Priestly office of the Lord Jesus, and therefore, when applied, as it commonly is, by Romanists, Anglicans, and Mormons is, either from dishonesty or ignorance, wrested from its true and undeniable meaning, in defiance of scope and context.
The Churches in which we move are not much troubled with priestly claims and pretence. If here and there an Evangelist, Pastor, or Deacon does, or is supposed to, take upon himself more than he ought, it is not on account of an assumed priestly prerogative, but owing to misunderstanding on his part, or on that of the Church, as to the duties of his particular charge. Misunderstandings of this kind now and then arise. We shall be disappointed if our present effort does not prove effectual in rendering them less frequent.
In the other direction the Churches referred to, have, perhaps, more need of caution. The Plymouthian leaven, or some modification of it, is occasionally met with. "Ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be comforted," is misapplied, and made to mean that every member of the Church may teach and exhort in the assembly. Then, too, it is assumed that office is to be taken as a result of faith in one’s own fitness, and that, as this faith is a gift of the Spirit, no one has a right to stand between God and the man who desires office, and has faith in his own fitness to fill it. Than this, nothing has less Scripture sanction, and nothing can be more absurd. The Church, while yet the Scriptures of the New Covenant did not exist, received from the Holy Spirit "diversities of gifts." The natural endowments of men may be considered as gifts from God, for every good and perfect gift is from Him, but they are never attributed to the Holy Spirit, and certainly not included in the diversity of gifts referred to by the Apostle. The Spirit gifted to one Prophecy; to another, Tongues; to another, Interpretation; to another, Healing; to another, Knowledge; to another, Faith by which to work mighty deeds. But never do we read that to each member was gifted a faith which consisted in an exact measurement of its possessor’s fitness for the diverse offices of the Church. Nor is there anything in man which, in this particular, can be relied upon Whether Phrenology be based on truth or not, it is certain that some men have self-esteem far larger than their ability would warrant. Such men, in all good conscience, would put themselves in office for which they are not qualified. Others have self-esteem so small that they are never induced to undertake what, in every other respect, they are well fitted for.
A book largely characterized by precious truths clearly expressed, has done something to popularize this Plymouthian error - "The Messiah’s Ministry," by the late most lamented and highly esteemed T.H. Milner, is alluded to. There is good reason for believing that, had he lived, the book would have been, in this particular, considerably modified. But he was not spared to us, and, therefore, this, and much more good service remains for other hands. In the volume in question we read:
"It is thus for the brethren, recognizing that indebtedness to the favour of God for all the gifts they possess, to think of themselves with respect thereto, precisely according to the divinely implanted faith therein. When God bestows gifts, He gives faith in the possession of them, whereby the holder may know and feel his responsibility; and it is, therefore, the duty of the possessor to make that faith the rule of the use of His gift or gifts .... Are human tribunals to be established to determine liberties and abilities of men in the use of the gifts which God has given them? Or shall they not rather be taught, as the apostle teaches the disciples, their amenability to the Giver of the favours they are supposed to possess? The latter manifestly."
Now the sentiment of the foregoing extract is opposed to good order, destructive of edification, and without Scripture authority. The writer protests, as well he might, against a "monopoly of ministerialism." But there is a distinct middle path. The man’s own judgment as the sole ground of his taking office, and the monopoly referred to, are both extremes, and alike bad. Either would sadly afflict the Church. The true and Scriptural rule will be adduced in a subsequent article of this series.
The ground intended to be gone over embraces Ministry, or Service in general - Priesthood, Divine and human - the Minister - Apostles - Prophets - Evangelists - Bishops - Teachers - Deacons, and other Ministrants.
For the next page page, choose below:
Article on the Priesthood