Chap. 1. Of the dignity of sacred employments, and the names

and designations given to them in scripture. 2. Of the rules set down in scripture for those that mi

nister in holy things, and of the corruptions that are

set forth in them. 3. Passages out of the New Testament relating to the

same matter. 4. Of the sense of the primitive church in this matter. 5. An account of some canons in divers ages of the church

relating to the duties and labours of the clergy. 6. Of the declared sense and rules of the church of Eng

land in this matter. 7. Of the due preparation of such as may and ought to

be put in orders. 8. Of the functions and labours of clergymen. 9. Concerning preaching.

The conclusion. 10. Of presentation to benefices, and simony.

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Of the dignity of sacred employments, and the names and

designations given to them in scripture. How low soever the esteem of the clergy may be sunk in a profane and corrupt age, and how much soever the errors and disorders of clergymen may have contributed to bring this not only upon themselves, but upon others who deserve better, but are unhappy in being mixed with so much ill company; yet certainly if we either consider the nature of things in themselves, or the value that is set on that profession, in the scriptures, it will appear that it ought to be considered at another rate than it is. As much as the soul is better than the body, and as much as the purifying and perfecting the soul is preferable to all those mechanical employments which relate to the body, and as much as eternity is more valuable than this short and transitory life; so much does this employment excel all others.

A clergyman, by his character and design of life, ought to be a man separated from the cares and concerns of this world, and dedicated to the study and meditation of divine matters: whose conversation ought to be a pattern for others; a constant preaching to his people : who ought to offer up the prayers of the people in their name, and as their mouth to God: who ought to be praying and interceding for them in secret, as well as officiating among them in public: who ought to be distributing among them the bread of life, the word of God; and to be dispensing among them the sacred rites, which are the badges, the union, and the supports of Christians. He ought to admonish, to reprove, and to comfort them, not only by his general doctrine in his sermons, but from house to house; that so he may do these things more home and effectually, than can be done from the pulpit. He is to watch over their souls, to keep them from error, and to alarm them out of their sins, by giving them warning of the judgments of God; to visit the sick, and to prepare them for the judgment and life to come.

This is the function of a clergyman; who, that he may perform all these duties with more advantage, and better effect, ought to behave himself so well, that his own conversation may not only be without offence, but be so exemplary, that his people may have reason to conclude, that he himself does firmly believe all those things which he proposes to them; that he thinks himself bound to follow all those rules that he sets them; and that they may see such a serious spirit of devotion in him, that from thence they may be induced to believe, that his chief design among them is to do them good, and to save their souls; which may prepare them so to esteem and love him, that they may not be prejudiced against any thing that he does and says in public, by any thing that they observe in himself in secret. He must also be employing himself so well in his private studies, that from thence he may be furnished with such a variety of lively thoughts, divine meditations, and proper and noble expressions, as may enable him to discharge every part of his duty in such a manner, as may raise not so much his own reputation, as the credit of his function, and of the great message of reconciliation that is committed to his charge: above all studies, he ought to apply himself to understand the holy scriptures aright; to have his memory well furnished that way, that so upon all occasions he may be able to enforce what he says out of them, and so be an able minister of the New Testament.

This is in short the character of a true clergyman, which is to be more fully opened and enlarged on in the following parts of this book. All this looks so great and so noble, that it does not appear necessary to raise it, or to insist on it more fully. Indeed it speaks its own dignity so sensibly, that none will dispute it, but such as are open enemies to all religion in general, or to the Christian religion in particular; and yet even few of these are so entirely corrupted, as not to wish that external order and policy were kept up among men, for restraining the injustice and violence of unruly appetites and passions ; which few, even of the tribe of the libertines, seem to desire to be let loose; since the peace and safety of mankind require that the world be kept in method, and under some yoke.

It will be more suitable to my design, to shew how well this character agrees with that which is laid down in the scriptures concerning these offices. I shall begin first with the names, and then go on to the descriptions, and lastly proceed to the rules that we find in them.

The name of deacon, that is now appropriated to the lowest office in the church, was, in the time that the New Testament was writ, used more promiscuously: for the apostles, the evangelists, and those whom the apostles sent to visit the churches, are all called by this name. Generally in all those places where the word minister is in our translation, it is deacon in the Greek, which signifies properly a servant, or one who labours for another. Such persons are dedicated to the immediate service of God; and are appropriated to the offices and duties of the church; so this term both expresses the dignity and the labour of the employment.

The next order carries now the name of presbyter, or elder; which though at first it was applied not only to bishops, but to the apostles themselves; yet in the succeeding ages, it came to be appropriated to the second rank of the officers in the church. It either signifies a seniority of age, or of Christianity, in opposition to a neophyte or novice, one newly converted to the faith; but by common practice, as senate or senator, being at first given to counsellors by reason of their age, came afterwards to be a title appropriate to them; so the title presbyter, (altered in pronunciation to be in English, priest,) or elder, being a character of respect, denotes the dignity of those to whom it belongs : but since St. Paul divides this title either into two different ranks, or into two different performances of the duties of the same rank, those that rule well, and those that labour in word and doctrinea; this is a title that speaks both the dignity, and likewise the duty belonging to this function.

The title which is now by the custom of many ages given to the highest function in the church, of bishop, or inspector, and overseer, as it imports a dignity in him, as the chief of those who labour; so it does likewise express his obligation to care and diligence, both in observing and overseeing the whole flock, and more specially in inspect

a 1 Tim. v. 17.

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