August 1646: An Ordinance for the Ordination of Ministers by the Classicall Presbyteries, Within their respective Bounds for the severall Congregations in the Kingdom of England.

Pages 865-870

Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.

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August, 1646

[28 August, 1646.]

Whereas the word Presbyter, that is to say Elder, and the word Bishop, do in the holy Scripture intend and signifie one and the same function, although the Title of Bishop hath been by corrupt custom 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, we hold for substance to be valid, and not to be disclaimed by any that have received it; And that Presbyters so Ordained, being lawfully thereunto appointed and authorized, may ordaine other Presbyters: And whereas also it is manifest by the word of God, that no man ought to take upon him the Office of a Minister, untill he be lawfully called and ordained thereunto; and that the worke of Ordination, that is to say, an outward solemne setting apart of persons for the Office of the Ministery in the Church by the 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 the severall and respective bounds may and shal, examine, approve, and ordaine Presbyters, according to the Directory for Ordination, and Rules for Examination, hereafter expressed, that is to say:—

Qualifications needful in persons to be Ordained.

First. He that is to be Ordained, must addresse himselfe to the Presbytery, and bring with him a Testimoniall of his taking the Covenant of the three Kingdomes; of his diligence and proficiency in his Studies, what degrees he hath taken in the University, and what hath beene the time of his abode there, and withall of his age, which is to be foure and twenty yeares at least; but especially of his life and conversation.

Presbytery to examine Spiritual qualifications.

Secondly. The Presbytery shall proceed to enquire touching the grace of God in him, and whether he be of such holinesse of life as is requisite in a Minister of the Gospell, and to examine him touching his learning and sufficiency, and touching the evidence of his calling to the holy Ministery, and in particular, his faire and direct calling to that place to which he is designed.

The Rules for Examinations are these.

Rules for Examination of Candidates.

1. That the party to be examined be dealt with in a brotherly way, with mildnesse of spirit, and with speciall respect to the gravity, modesty and quality of every one.

2. He shall be examined touching his skill in the Originall Tongues: and that triall to be made by reading the Hebrew and Greek Testaments, and rendring some portions of them into Latine; Inquiry also shall be made of his knowledge and skill in Logick, Phylosophy, and other learning.

3. It shall be enquired what Authors in Divinity he hath read, and is best acquainted with, and whether he hath read and observed the Ecclesiasticall History, and what his skill is in the Chronology of Holy Scripture.

4. 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; also of his skill in the sense and meaning of such places of Scripture as shall be proposed to him, also of his judgment in cases of Conscience.

5. If he hath not before preached in publicke, with approbation of such who have ability to judge, he shall at a competent time assigned him, and before the Presbytery, preach a Sermon upon such a place of Scripture as shall be given him.

6. He shall in a competent time also frame a Discourse in Latine, upon such a Common place or Controversie in Divinity, as shall be assigned him, and exhibite to the Presbytery such Theses as expresse the sum thereof, and maintaine a dispute upon them; also he shall preach before the people, the Presbytery, or some of the Ministers of the Word appointed by them being present.

7. The proportion of his gifts in relation to the place unto which he is called, shall be considered.

8. Besides the tryall of his gifts in preaching, he shall undergoe an examination in the Premisses two severall daies or more, if the Presbytery shall judge it necessary.

Candidate to be sent after examination to future parish to preach and converse with the people for 3 days.

Thirdly. After which, he being approved, is to be sent to the Church or other place where he is to serve, if it may be done with safety and conveniencie, there to preach three severall daies, and to converse with the people, that they may have triall of his gifts for their edification, and may have time and leasure to inquire into, and the better to know his life and conversation.

On third day members of Congregation to signify any exceptions against him.

Fourthly, in the last of those three daies appointed for the making knowne of his gifts in preaching, there shall be sent from the Presbyterie to the Congregation, a publike instrument in writing, which shall publikely 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 Presbytery shall proceed to Ordination.

Fast on day of Ordination.

Fifthly. Upon the day appointed for Ordination, which is to be performed in that Church where he that is to be ordained is to serve, (if it may be done with safety and conveniency) a solemn Fast shall be kept by the Congregation, that they may more earnestly joyne in Prayer to God for a blessing upon the person and labour of this his Servant, solemnly to be set apart to the Office of the Ministery, for their good; the Presbytery shall come to the place, or some Ministers of the Word, five at the least, shall be sent from the Presbytery, 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 Workes sake.

Questions to be put to Candidate in face of Congregation.

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 use constant diligence in Prayer, Reading, Meditation, Preaching, Ministring the Sacra ments, and doing all Ministeriall duties towards his charge with his whole desire, as in the presence of God, so as may most further their edification and salvation; his zeale and faithfulnesse in maintaining the truth of the Gospell, and purity of the Church against Errour and Schisme; his care that himselfe and Family may be unblameable, and examples to the Flock; and his full purpose to continue in his duty against all trouble and persecution.

Seventhly. In all which having declared himselfe, professed his willingness, and promised his endeavours by the helpe of God, The Presbytery or Ministers sent from them shall solemnly set him apart to the Office and worke of the Ministery, laying their hands on him, with a short Prayer or Blessing to this effect:—

Form of Ordination; *Here let them impose their hands upon his head.

"Thankfully acknowledging the great mercy of God, in sending of Jesus Christ for the redemption of his people, and for his ascencion to the right hand of God the Father, and there pouring out his Spirit and giving gifts to men, Apostles, Evangelists, Prophets Pastors, and Teachers, for the gathering and building up of his Church, and for fitting and inclining this man to this great Worke, to beseech him to fill him with his Holy Spirit, whom in his Name we *set apart to this Holy Service, to fulfill the worke of his Ministery in all things, that he may both save himselfe and the people committed to his charge."

Exhortations to New Minister and to People.

Eighthly. This or the like form of Prayer or blessing 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; withall let him exhort the people, and charge them 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 Flock to the grace of God, after the singing of a Psalme, let the Assembly be dismissed with a blessing.

Persons appointed to Army, Navy, or College Ministeries.

Ninthly. Let such as are or shall be chosen or appointed for the service of Army, Navie, Colledges or other Charge, be ordained as aforesaid, in such Church as the Classicall Presbytery to which they shall addresse themselves shall thinke fit; and such alterations made by the Minister that ordaineth, from the Exhortation last before prescribed, as the circumstance of place and person shall require.

Where congregation is outside any Presbytery.

Tenthly. Let everyone which is or shall be chosen, or appointed for any place or Congregation, not being at that time within the bounds of any Classi all Presbytery, be Ordained by that Classis of Presbyters, which he shall addresse himselfe unto, or by five, or any greater number of Ministers of the Word, to be sent from that Presbytery; which Ordination is to be performed according to the Rules and Directions before prescribed, as farre as with safety and conveniency may be.

Rules for Persons ordained in Church of England.; Rules for persons ordained in Scotland or other Reformed church.

And be it further Ordained by the said Lords and Commons, and by the Authority aforesaid, That every person formerly Ordained a Presbyter, according to the forme of Ordination, which hath been held in the Church of England, and is to be removed to another Charge, to bring to the Presbytery where he is to be placed, if there be any; and if not, then to some other Presbytery, a Testimoniall of his Ordination, and of his abilities and conversation, whereupon his fitnesse for that place to which he is to be removed, shall be tried by his Preaching and (if it shall be judged necessary) by a further examination, and so without any new Ordination he shall be admitted, if he be appointed 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 Presbytery where he is to be placed, if there be any, and if not, then to some other Presbytery, 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 Triall of his fitnesse and sufficiency, 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.

Records of names of persons ordained.; No fee for Ordination,; Save Registry Fee.

And it is further Ordained, that Records be carefully kept by the Register, to be nominated by the Presbytery, of the names of the Persons Ordained, with their testimonialls of 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 kinde 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 the Presbytery, or any of them, or any appertaining to any of them, upon what pretence soever, except to the Register for the entry, Instruments, and Testimonials of his Ordination, which shall not exceed the sum of ten shillings for each person Ordained.

Persons ordained hereunder to be deemed lawful Ministers of Church of England.; Indemnity to ordaining Presbyters.

And it is yet further Ordained by the Authority aforesaid, that all Persons who shall be Ordained Presbyters, according to this Directory, shall be for ever reputed and taken to all intents and purposes for lawfull, and sufficiently authorized Ministers of the Church of England, and as capable 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 one or more 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 indempnity; and what Presbytery soever being in due manner desired, shall without just and true cause refuse or deferre to Ordaine any Presbyter, whom by the Rules and Direction of this Ordinance they ought to ordaine, or shall omit, or neglect to observe the Solemnity of Ordination in that decent and grave and godly manner as is meet; it is hereby declared, That they are guilty of a very great offence, and deserve severe punishment.

Ord. to continue 3 years only.

Provided, that this Ordinance shall stand in force for three yeares and no longer: Anything in this Ordinance contained to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.