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of hands may fitly be used in this particular investiture, though it be no proper ordination, that is, no collation of the office of a minister in general, but the fixing of one that was a minister before.
Quest, xxi. May a man be oft or twice ordained? It is supposed, that we play not with an ambiguous word, that we remember what ordination is. And then you will see cause to distinguish, 1. Between entire, true ordination, and the external act, or words, or ceremony only. 2. Between one that was truly ordained before, and one that was not. And so I answer, 1. He that seemed ordained, and indeed was not, is not re-ordained when he is after ordained. 2. It is needful therefore to know the essentials of ordination, from the integrals and accidentals. 3. He that was truly ordained before, may in some cases receive again the repetition of the bare words and outward ceremonies of ordination (as imposition of hands). Where I will, I. Tell you in what cases. II. Why. 1. 1. In case there wanted]sufficient witnesses of his ordination; and so the church hath not sufficient means of notice or satisfaction, that ever he was ordained indeed: or if the witnesses die before the notification. Whether the church should take his word or not, in such a case, is none of my question, but, Whether he should submit to the repetition if they will not. 2. Especially in a time and place (which I have known) when written and sealed orders are often counterfeited, and so the church called to extraordinary care. 3. Or if the church or magistrate be guilty of some causeless, culpable incredulity, and will not believe it was done till they see it done again. 4. Or in case that some real or supposed integral (though not essential) part was omitted, or is by the church or magistrate supposed to be omitted; and they will not permit or receive the minister to exercise his office, unless he repeat the whole action again, and make up that defect. 5. Or if the person himself do think that his ordination was insufficient, and cannot exercise his ministry to the satisfaction of his own conscience, till the defect be repaired. In these cases (and perhaps such others) the outward action may be repeated. II. The reasons are, 1. Because this is not a being twice ordained. For the word 'ordination,' signifieth a moral action, and not a physical only: as the word ' marriage'doth, &c. And it essentially includeth the new dedication and designation to the sacred office, by a kind of covenant between the dedicated person and Christ to whom he is consecrated and devoted. And the external words are but a part, and a part only as significant of the action of the mind. Now the oft expressing of the same mental dedication doth not make it to be as many distinct dedications. For 1. If the liturgy or the person's words were tautological, or at the ordination should say the same thing often over and over, or for confirmation should say often, that which else might be said but once, this doth not make it an often or multiplied ordination: it was but one love which Peter expressed, when Christ made him say thrice, that he loved him; nor was it a threefold ordination which Christ used, when he said thrice to him, "Feed my lambs and sheep." 2. And if thrice saying it that hour make it not three ordinations, neither will thrice saying it, at more hours, days, or months, or years distance, in some cases; for the time maketh not the ordinations to be many; it is but one moral action. But the common error ariseth from the custom of calling the outward action alone by the name of the whole moral action (which is ordinarily done to the like deceit in the case of the baptismal covenant, and the Lord's supper). 3. The common judgment and custom of the world confirmeth what I say. If persons that are married should for want of witness or due solemnity be forced to say and do the outward action all over again; it is by no wise man taken in the proper, moral, full sense, for a second marriage, but for one marriage twice uttered. And if you should in witness bearing be put to your oath, and the magistrate that was absent should say,' Reach him the book again, I did not hear him swear,' the doing it twice is not morally two witnessings or oaths, but one only twice physically uttered. If you bind your son apprentice, or if you make any indentures or contract, and the writings being lost or faulty, you write and sign, and seal them all again, this is not morally another contract, but the same done better, or again recorded. And so it is plainly in this case. 4. But re-ordination morally and properly so called, is unlawful: for, (1.) It is (or implieth) a lie, viz. that we were not truly dedicated and separated to this office before. (2.) It is a sacrilegious renunciation of our former dedication to God: whereas the ministerial dedication and covenant is for life, and not for a trial; which is the meaning of the indelible character, which is a perpetual relation and obligation. (3.) It is a taking the name of God in vain, thus to do and undo, and do again: and to promise and renounce, and promise again, and to pretend to receive a power which we had before. (4.) It tendeth to great confusions in the church; as to make the people doubt of their baptism, or all the ministerial administrations of such as are re-ordained, while they acted by the first ordination. (5.) It hath ever been condemned in the churches of Christ, as the canons called the apostles,' and the church's constant practice, testify. 5. Though the bare repetition of the outward action and words be not re-ordination, yet he that on any of the forementioned occasions is put to repeat the said words and actions, is obliged so to do it, as that it may not seem to be a re-ordination, and so be a scandal to the church. Or if it outwardly seem so by the action, he is bound to declare that it is no such thing, for the counterpoising that appearance of evil. 6. When the ordainers or the common estimation of the church, do take the repetition of the words and action of a re-ordination, though the receiver so intend it not, yet it may become unlawful to him by this accident, because he scandalizeth and hardeneth the erroneous, by doing or receiving that which is interpretative re-ordination. 7. Especially when the ordainers shall require this re- petition on notoriously wicked grounds, and so put that sense on the action by their own doctrines and demands: as for instance, (1.) If heretics should (as the Arians,) say that we are no ministers, because we are not of their heresy, or ordained by such as they. (2.) If the pope or any proud papal usurpers shall say, 'You are no ministers of Christ, except we ordain you;' and so do it to establish a traitorous, usurped regiment in the church; it is not lawful to serve such an usurpation. As if cardinals or archbishops should say,' None are true ministers but those that we ordain :' or councils or synods of bishops or presbyters should say,' None are true ministers but those that we ordain ;' or if one presbyter or one bishop without authority would thus make himself master of the rest, or of other churches, and say,' You are no ministers unless I ordain you;' we may not promote such tyranny and usurpation. (3.) If magistrates would usurp the power of the keys, in ecclesiastical ordination, and say that none but they have power to ordain, we may not encourage such pretences by repetition of the words and action. (4.) If they would make something necessary to ordination which is not, as if it were a false oath, or false subscription or profession, or some unlawful ceremony (as if it were anointing, wearing horns, or any the like) and say,' You are no ministers without these, and therefore you must be re-ordained to receive them. (5.) Yea, if they declare our former ministry causelessly to be null, and say,' You are no ministers till you are ordained again,' and so publicly put this sense upon our action, that we may take it as re-ordination; all these accidents make the repetition of the words and actions to be unlawful, unless when greater accidents notoriously preponderate. Quest. But if such church tyrants should have so great power, as that without their repetition of ordination on those terms, the ministry might not be exercised, is it lawful so to take it in a case of such necessity?Answ. 1. Every seeming necessity to you is not a necessity to the church. 2. Either you may publicly declare a contrary sense in your receiving their new orders or not. 1. If you may not as publicly declare that you renounce not your former ministry and dedication to God in that office, as the ordainers declare their sense of the nullity of it, so that your open declaration may free you from the guilt of seeming consent, I conceive it is a sinful compliance with their sin. 2. Yea, if you may so declare it, yet if there be no necessity of your ministerial liberty in that place, I think you may not take it on such terms. As, (1.) If there be worthy men enough to supply the church's wants there without you. (2.) And if you may serve God successfully in a persecuted state, though to the suffering of your flesh. (3.) Or if your imprisonment for preaching be like to be as serviceable to the church and Gospel as your continued preaching on those scandalous terms. (4.) Or if you may remove and preach in another country. 9. When any such case doth fall out, in which the repetition of the outward action and words is lawful, it is not lawful to mix any false or scandalous expressions: as if we were required to say falsely, 'I accept this ordination as confessing myself no minister of Christ till now :' or any such like. 10. In a word, a peaceable Christian may do much as to the mere outward action and submission, for obedience, peace, order, or satisfaction to his own or other men's consciences. But, (1.) He may do nothing for good ends which is false and injurious to the church'. (2.) And he may not do that which otherwise were lawful, when it is for evil ends, or tendeth to more hurt than good; as to promote heresy, or church tyranny and usurpation, whether in pope, prelates, presbyters or people.
Quest, xxii. How many ordainers are necessary to the validity of ordination by God's institution? whether one or more?My question is not of the ancient canons, or any human laws or customs, for those are easily known; but of Divine right. Now either God hath determined the case as to the number of ordainers necessary, or not. If not, either he hath given the church some general rule to determine it by, or not. If not, then the number is not any part of the Divine
'1 Thess. v. "i"i. Gal. ii. 4, 5. 14.