Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.
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Whereas the word Presbyter, that is to say, Elder, and the word Bishop doe in the Scriptures intend and signifie one and the same function, although the Title of Bishop hath beene by corrupt custome appropriated to one, and that unto him ascribed, and by him assumed, as in other things, so in the matter of Ordination, that was not meet. Which Ordination notwithstanding being performed by him a Presbyter joyned with other Presbyters, wee hold for substance to bee valid, and not to be disclaimed by any that have received it. And that Presbyters so ordained being lawfully thereunto appointed and authorized, may ordain other Presbyters. And whereas it is also manifest by the word of God, "That no man ought to take upon him the Office of a minister untill hee bee lawfully called and ordained thereunto"; And that the work of "Ordination," that is to say, "An outward Solemne setting apart of Persons for the office of the Ministry in the Church, by Preaching Presbyters," is an Ordinance of Christ, and is to be performed with all due care, wisdom, gravity, and solemnity. It is Ordained by the Lords and Commons, Assembled in Parliament, and by the authority of the same (after Advice had with the Assembly of Divines now convened at Westminster) that during the present exigencies of the Armies, of the Navy and of many Congregations destitute of able and faithfull Ministers of the Gospel, and untill a Government of the Church be formed up to the full power and Worke of it, and the whole course of Ordination of Ministers in an ordinary way bsee et up and settled for all the three Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland. These persons in the City of London, being Presbyters; viz: Dr. Cornelius Burges, one of the Assessors of the Assembly, Dr. William Gouge, Mr. John Ley, Mr. George Walker, Mr. Edward Calamy, Mr. Daniel Cawdry, Mr. Stanley Gower, Mr. John Conant. Mr. Humphrey Chambers, Members of the Assembly of Divines, Mr. Henry Robrough, one of the Scribes of the Assembly, Mr. John Downham, Mr. Charles Offspring, Mr. Richard Lee, Mr. Timothy Dod, Mr. James Cranford, Mr. Thomas Horton, Mr. Thomas Clendon, Mr. Arthur Jackson, Mr. Samuel Clerke, Mr. Emanuel Bourne, Mr. Foulke Bellers, Mr. Francis Roberts, Mr. Leonard Cooke, or any seven of them being the whole number present, or any seven or more of them, being the major part of them that shall bee present may examine, approve, and ordaine Presbyters according to the Directory for Ordination, and Rules for Examination hereafter expressed, that is to say
First. That hee that is to bee Ordained, must addresse himselfe to the Ministers appointed to ordaine, and bring with him a testimoniall of his taking the Covenant of the three Kingdoms, of his diligence and proficiency in his studies, what degrees hee hath taken in the University, and what hath beene the time of his abode there, and withall, of his age, which is to bee twentyfour years at the least: but especially of his life and conversation.
Secondly. The Ministers appointed to Ordaine shall proceed to inquire touching the grace of God in him, and whether hee bee of such holinesse of life as is requisite in a Minister of the Gospel, and to examine him touching his learning and sufficiency, and touching the evidence of his calling to the holy Ministry, and in particular, his faire and direct calling to that place, to which he is designed.
2. Hee shail be examined touching his skill in the Originall Tongues, and Tryall shall bee made by reading the Hebrew and Greek Testaments, and rendering some portions of them into Latine; And inquiry also shall bee made after his other Learning, and whether hee hath skill in Logick and Philosophy.
3. What Authours in Divinity hee hath read, and is best acquainted with, and tryall shall be made of his knowledge in the chiefe Grounds of Religion, and of his ability to defend the Orthodox Doctrine contained in them against all unsound and erroneous opinions, especially those of the present age: Of his skill, In the sense and meaning of such places of Scripture as shall bee proposed unto him, In cases of Conscience, and in the Chrologie of Scripture, and of the Ecclesiastical History.
4. If hee hath not before Preached in publike, with approbation of such as are able to judge, hee shall, at a competent time assigned him, and before the Ministers appointed to Ordaine, expound such a place of Scripture as shall be given him.
5. Hee shall in a competent time also frame a Discourse in Latin upon such a common place, or controversie in Divinity, as shall bee assigned him, and Exhibite to the Ministers appointed to ordaine, such Theses as expresse the summe thereof, and maintain a Dispute upon them.
Thirdly. After which, hee being approved, is to be sent to the church, or other place where hee is to serve, (if it may bee done with safety, and conveniency) there to preach three severall days, and to converse with the people, that they may have tryall of his gifts for their edification, and may have time and leisure to inquire into, and the better to know his life and conversation.
Fourthly. In the last of those three dayes appointed for the making known of his gifts in Preaching, there shall be sent by the Ministers appointed to ordaine (if it may bee done with safety and conveniency) a publique Instrument in writing, which shall publiquely be read before the people, and after affixed to the Church doore, to signifie such a day, any member or members of the said Congregation, or any other person or persons whatsoever, or any of them may put in, with all Christian discretion, and meeknesse, what exceptions they have against him; and if, upon the day appointed, there be no just exceptions against him the Ministers appointed to ordaine shall proceed to Ordination.
Fifthly. In the day appointed for Ordination, which is to be performed in that Church where hee that is to bee ordained is to serve (if it may be done with safety and convenience) a Solemne Fast shall bee kept by the Congregation, that they may more earnestly joine in "Prayer to God for a blessing upon the Person and Labours of his Servant," solemnly to bee set apart to the Office of the Ministry for their good: The Ministers appointed to ordaine, or seven of them, shall come to the place, whereof one shall Preach to the People concerning the "Office and Duty of the Ministers of Christ, and how the People ought to esteeme him for the works sake."
Sixthly. After the Sermon ended, the Minister which hath preached shall in the face of the Congregation demand of him who is now to be Ordained concerning his "Faith in Christ Jesus," and his "perswasion of the Truth of the Reformed Religion," according to the Scriptures, his "sincere intentions and ends," in desiring to enter into this calling, his resolution to be diligent in "Prayer, Reading, Meditation, Preaching, Ministering the Sacraments" and doing all "Ministeriall duties" towards his charge, his Zeale, and Faithfullnesse, in maintaining the "Truth of the Gospel, and the unity of the Church" against "Error and Schisme," his care that himselfe and family may bee unblameable, and examples to the flock, and his Resolution to continue in his duty against all trouble and persecution.
Seventhly. In all which having declared himselfe, professed his willingnesse, and promised his endeavours by the help of God; the Ministers appointed to ordaine, shall "solemnly set him apart" to the Office and Work of the "Ministery, laying their hands on him, with a short Prayer or blessing to this effect. Thankfully acknowledging the great Mercy of God in sending Jesus Christ for the Redemption of his people, and for his Ascension to the right hand of God the Father, and there powering out his Spirit, and giving Gifts to Men, Apostles, Evangelists, Prophets, Pastours, and Teachers, for the gathering and building up of his Church, and for fitting and inclining this man to this greate Worke, to beseech him to fill him with his holy Spirit, whom, in his name, wee* set apart to this holy Service, to fulfill the worke of his Ministery in all things, that hee may both save himselfe and the people committed to his charge.
Eighthly. This, or the like forme of Prayer, or blessing being ended, let the Minister who preached, briefly exhort him to consider the greatnesse of his Office and Worke, the danger of negligence both to himselfe and his people, the blessing which will accompany his faithfulnesse in this life, and that to come; and withall let him Exhort and Charge the people, in the name of God, willingly to receive and acknowledge him as the Minister of Christ, and to maintaine, incourage, and assist him in all the parts of his Office. And so by prayer commending both him and his Flocke to the grace of God; after the singing of a Psalme, let the Assembly bee dismissed with a blessing.
9. Let such as are chosen or appointed for the Service of the Army, or Navy, or Colleges, or other Charge, be Ordained as abovesaid, in such Church, as the Ministera appointed to Ordaine shall think fit, and such Alterations made by the Minister that Ordaineth, from the Exhortation last before prescribed, as the Circumstances of Place and Persons shall require.
And be it further Ordained by the said Lords and Commons, and by the Authoritie aforesaid, that every Person formerly Ordained a Presbyter according to the forme of Ordination, which hath beene helde in the Church of England, and is to be removed to another Charge, doe bring to the Ministers appointed to Ordaine for that County where he is to be placed, a Testimoniall of his Ordination, and of his abilities and Conversation, whereupon his fitnesse for that place whither he is to be removed, shall be tryed by his preaching there, and (if it shall be judged necessary) by a further Examination, and so, without any new Ordination; he shall be admitted, if he be approved as fit for that place: And if any Person, Ordained Minister in Scotland, or in any other Reformed Church, be designed to a Congregation in England, he is to bring from that Church, to the Ministers appointed to Ordaine for that Countie, where he is to be placed, a sufficient Testimoniall of his Ordination, of his life and conversation while he lived with them, and of the causes of his Removall; and to undergoe such a Tryall of his fitnesse and sufficiencie, and to have the same course held with him in other particulars as is set downe in the foregoing Rule and Provision touching the Examination and admission of Persons formerly Ordained in England.
And it is further Ordained that Records be carefully kept by the Register to be nominated by the Ministers appointed to Ordaine, of the Names of the Persons Ordained, with their Testimoniall, the time and place of their Ordination, and of the Ministers who did Ordaine them, and of the Charge to which they are appointed: And that no Money or Gift of what kind soever shall be received from the Person to be Ordained, or from any on his behalfe for Ordination or aught else belonging to it, by any of the Ministers appointed to Ordaine, or any appertaining to any of them, upon what pretence soever: Except to the Register for the Entry, Instruments, and Testimonialls of his Ordination, which shall not exceed the Summe of Ten Shillings for each Person Ordained.
And it is yet further Ordained by the Authority aforesaid, that all Persons who shall be Ordained Presbyters according to this Directorie, shall be for ever reputed and taken to all intents and purposes for lawfully and sufficiently authorized Ministers of the Church of England, and as Capeable of any Ministeriall imployment in the Church, with the Rights and Profits belonging thereunto, as any other Presbyters whatsoever already Ordained, or hereafter to be Ordained; And that all Presbyters who are hereby appointed and authorized to Ordaine, and shall (according to this present Directory) Ordaine any Presbyters, are hereby declared to performe an acceptable Service to this Church and Kingdome, and shall have the protection of both Houses of Parliament for their Indemnitie.