On the Presence and Action of the Holy Ghost in the Church,

in answer to the work of Mr. P. Wolff, entitled,
"Ministry as opposed to Hierarchism and chiefly to Religious Radicalism,"
Valence, 1844
J. N. Darby.

<03007F> 206 {file section a.}


This answer to Mr. Wolff's pamphlet upon Ministry was written immediately after the publication of that work. The author of the answer having been absent from the country for eleven months, the manuscript remained in the hands of a friend until his return. Since then, evangelistic labours and other occupations, still more important than controversy, have retarded the preparation of the manuscript for the press, to which it is at last given up.

In this interval the Evangelical Society of Geneva, and the Lay Society of the Canton de Vaud, have recommended Mr. Wolff's pamphlet in their reports; so that the approbation which is given to this pamphlet, pretty plainly marked by facts, is now avowed. This renders my task more painful, but less difficult; for I can treat the writing which I am answering, not as that of a young student who is making, so to speak, his first campaign, and whom one would desire to spare, but as a work sanctioned by grave men who must have weighed things, who must have felt their own responsibility towards the Church of God, when they publicly recommended a treatise upon a subject so serious as that of ministry. It is to be supposed that they have examined the reasonings and the proofs advanced as having been taken from the word of God; and, by recommending this work to the whole Church, they have made themselves responsible for its contents.

The Lay Society, it is true, is careful not to take the responsibility of all the contents of the work; but, desiring the refutation of the system which it calls "Plymouthism," it points to Mr. Wolff's pamphlet as answering this end. (Sitting of the Committee of June 9th, 1843: Bulletin, No. 5, pp. 155, 156.)

207 The Report of the Evangelical Society of Geneva makes no such reserve. These are the words (p. 35): "Others have combated this [Plymouthism] with advantage; more particularly a student of our school of theology, in a work whose scriptural arguments cannot be shaken."

There will be found, in the body of this answer, inconsistencies in the feelings which I have expressed with regard to that work. Sometimes my heart has spoken in favour of the writer; sometimes I have not been altogether able to contain the indignation which I felt in seeing the way in which the word of our God has there been treated.

I have left these inconsistencies such as they are, because it was the true expression of what I felt. But now that this work must be regarded as the statement of the feelings of the Evangelical Society of Geneva, or at least of its leaders, and that they have put their approbation upon these arguments by calling them scriptural, the reserve which the circumstances of a young man called for no longer exists. Looked at as coming from the hands of learned, grave, and pious men — men in a responsible position — men who, in other respects, I esteem and love — this work coming, I say, from their hands, requires to be put in its true light. I have not in my life (and I have been in painful controversies) seen such a pamphlet. Of what are these gentlemen approving? It is a temerity which erases with a dash of the pen all that has been written on ministry from the time of Chrysostom until our own; there are self-contradictions of the grossest kind, provided that in both cases these opposed sentiments serve to establish at all costs a system that one loves; it is profound unbelief as to the presence and operations of the Holy Ghost; it is a contempt for the word, such as I have never seen the like of in any controversy; it is assertions boldly made as to the contents of the word and the use of words to give the advantage to the views of the author, which, when one examines the passages in which the word is found, are not supported by a single example, and which must have weight with those who do not know Greek, and who would not suppose — God be thanked for it — that things are affirmed in spite of all truth and of all honesty.

All is levelled to the present system in the desire of saying, We are rich. Ministry is not the exercise of a gift; no gift exists; nevertheless, the Church enjoys all its blessings! And why all this unbelief, and this lack — what shall I say — of conscience? It is this: having too much light to go on at ease with the deadness and the errors which they acknowledge in the systems that surround them, they have too little faith to free themselves from a yoke under which they groan in the work they are doing. They have resolved to flatter the flesh as well as the forms of the systems which shackle them, in order that these systems may lend them the liberty of following out the work which they do not dare to do without that.

208 As to the pamphlet which is before us (every one will judge of it when he has read the following pages), I can only see in it the public statement of the infidelity of the professing church of these last days — a contempt for the word of God, which deserves to be branded in a much more powerful way than I could do it — assertions the most false, which it is impossible to attribute to the ignorance of those who recommend this work; and which proves a use of the word which (if one must attribute such a use of it to the force of party spirit) marks, in a terrible manner, what the estimation is in which the word is held, when it is a question of the interests of a party. These are strong expressions. I should not have used them, if it were only a question of an opinion on ministry, or if they were not Christians who had made themselves responsible for them: but it is a question of the whole basis of the hopes and of the activities of the Church of God, and of the authority of His word, which are sacrificed without hesitation to the interests and to the pride of an irritated party. Weariness of controversy almost stopped my pen. I thought that tears would be more suitable than an answer. But there are souls who have a right to the explanations that are necessary for exposing what the bold assertions are worth which characterize the pamphlet patronized by the Committee of the Evangelical Society of Geneva, and of what weight is the authority of those who can patronize it: and I have deeply felt that he who uses the word in such a way, by concealing himself under Greek, does not deserve to be spared, when presented to us by men quite capable of appreciating the use and the consequences of it. The more they are esteemed (and in many respects they deserve to be so), the more necessary it is to expose the roots of bitterness which they wish to sanction. If it were a Peter who had become guilty of that which draws others away into a path of dissimulation, it would be so much the more necessary to resist him to his face.


I do not expect to see principles which are of faith adopted by those who have not faith to follow them. Neither do I think that, at this moment, it is controversy that leads souls to enter the path of faith. It is the time for walking in it by the grace of God, and not for talking about it. The circumstances which surround us, and the progress of evil, call for that which God alone can give, a firm and active walk in the path in which faith alone will find means to exist; for events press upon us every day more and more.

If I answer Mr. Wolff's thesis upon ministry, it is because it is a subject of the greatest importance, and because it will furnish the opportunity for developing the truths which are now most precious to the Church.

If Mr. Wolff's pamphlet were only the production of the student whose name is attached to it, I should probably have said nothing about it. Let us do justice to the writer. It is a work which displays a tolerable amount of diligence, and shows an application the fruits of which at such an age do honour, according to men, to the writer, and are worthy of a more advanced period of life. If anything here or there betrays youth, that will not be a subject of reproach with me. That the activity of a youthful mind should have produced, as he says, a new system, does not surprise me. That, in the eyes of its author, it should be a system before which all that has been said upon ministry in all ages of the Church, passes away like a shadow — that the author should manifest a certain self-confidence, this may be natural to the ardour of youth. I shall not stop at it. He may dispose in twelve lines of all that has been written on ministry from Chrysostom to Mr. Rochat, confessing that he lacked the means of enlightening himself, not having been able to found anything upon the works of his predecessors; and he may deal thus in order to introduce a system of which "the systematic whole is entirely his own": I have no feeling against him on that account. I only recall it because of the importance which this fact acquires, when one reflects that such a judgment is approved by the party to whose jurisdiction the writer, so to speak, belongs. It is at least clear, according to this, that every system of ministry hitherto acknowledged, all the principles upon which ministry has been based, have been obliged to fall before the light which has entered by means of the discussion which has taken place on this subject. In order to combat what is advanced, it was necessary to set aside all that had been said on ministry by all theologians, both by those of primitive times, and by those of the Reformation and modern times. I acknowledge, however, that Mr. Wolff's treatise is the cleverest and the gravest that has appeared in the controversy begun upon this subject.

210 This pamphlet, appearing at the moment of such a controversy, is evidently more than a student's thesis; while it is one fruit of his labour, it is the expression of far more than that. Puffed in the journals of his party, printed with encouragement and the concurrence of persons of that party who seek to profit by its publication, and spread it abroad by their friends and their agents, this opuscule must be considered in the main, as the expression of those who propagate it; for one must not attribute to them the dishonest tactics of a corrupted Christianity, which would like to profit as much as possible by a work, with liberty to disown it afterward, if one saw itself in danger of being compromised by its means.

My intention is to bring to light, for upright souls, the principle of this pamphlet, and to point out the force of certain reasonings, which have a hold upon the flesh and may act upon it, and which are calculated to trouble simple hearts.

The evident and even avowed object of this work is to attack what I shall allow myself to call the new light which God has sent, and to maintain, such as it is, all that exists. In order to this, he borrows all that he can of this light, so that in many respects I find myself agreeing with the writer. After all, this is the road that many are following now. They borrow all the light that they can without troubling themselves to walk in the path of faith which this light has revealed.

In order to sustain at all costs existing things, it became necessary to sacrifice all the principles of ministry established by the Reformation. We must not mistake. When the author says of Calvin's system on ministry, "good as a theory based upon the experience of the Church," that is tacitly saying that this system is not based upon scripture; for he overthrows, without warning his readers of it, all Calvin's system in the body of his work.

Sufficiently young only to be enamoured of his own ideas, he has not been able to keep silence about it, as one may see in his preface. All his system is his own. He has not been able essentially to base his work upon the works of his predecessors. The thoughts of Calvin were in effect based in great measure upon the Bible: but, as Mr. Wolff says, his theory, or rather his practice, was based upon the experience of the Church. A man of sufficient integrity of heart by grace deeply to honour the word, and energetic enough to create a system, Calvin acknowledged, in many respects in theory, the truth as to ministry. In practice, he formed for himself a system adapted to circumstances and to his own character. More light has entered; the word has been searched; the energy of the Holy Ghost is at work; and what he created as a system answers no longer, either to the creative energy of its author, or to the need produced by the Holy Ghost. Those who, led by the Holy Ghost, have searched the word, have, while following the word and the principles and truths that Calvin himself found there, found themselves outside his system in several particulars. They followed the word and not the system. From that time, war has been waged against them. They were innovators, etc.

211 Meanwhile a class of persons has formed itself (the party with which Mr. Wolff is connected), a party which wishes to attach itself to Calvin's ecclesiastical system and to profit by it as much as possible, because this does not require faith (for a Socinian does it as well as themselves), and at the same time to introduce a spiritual activity subordinate to that system.

Mr. Wolff is a partisan of this new system; but he has been consistent. He has felt that, in adopting the principles which Calvin drew from the word, it would be impossible to maintain his system. He therefore denies those principles. His object is to justify at all cost what is being done. I shall give sad proofs of this presently.

Let us first state this important fact that, in order to combat those who follow the word, he has felt himself obliged to set aside all the principles of the reformers on ministry. He has felt that, once admitting what they had drawn from the word, it would be necessary to go still farther and to abandon their practical system; but this requires faith.


Calvin's theory is based upon the existence of gifts; the theory approved by the party which Mr. Wolff represents is based upon this — that gifts have absolutely ceased. It is evident that a system which is based upon gifts, and another which founds itself upon their absence and which makes of that absence its fundamental principle, are two thoroughly opposed systems. One may, in order to spare the flesh, practically follow the same forms, but the principles are completely opposed.

212 Calvin divides the gifts into ordinary and extraordinary, as the basis of the difference between the present and the apostolic condition of ministry. Mr. Wolff affirms that all the gifts were extraordinary, and that Calvin's whole system is false with regard to this, and that ministry has undergone no modification. Calvin's system is founded upon the difference between charges and gifts; consequently, he distinguishes between a bishop and a pastor. Mr. Wolff's whole system is based upon the identity of the bishop and the pastor. If bishop and pastor are not the same thing, all his system falls at once to the ground, because in that case the pastor is a gift given by God, and he has need neither of the imposition of hands, nor of being established by man. If the author can, on the contrary, identify them, he will in this case apply all that is said of the bishop in the epistle to Timothy to the pastor as well as to the bishop.

I do not enter into the detail of differences, for Mr. Wolff's system changes all the Calvin system. I only call attention to the great principles, or rather principle, by which they diverge. Calvin admits that gifts are needed for ministry; Mr. Wolff absolutely denies all relation between these two things. "Ministry," he says, "is exercised without gift." He is consistent: he felt that it is impossible to reconcile the existence of gifts with the system of his party and with Calvin's ecclesiastical system. Calvin admitted the things that he found in the word, then added traditions and customs. He created a system which the light that then existed bore with. The party which now opposes the light is bolder; feeling that they cannot reconcile them, and determined to remain attached to existing things, they confess this unbelief on this point, and set aside at once, the gifts, the Holy Spirit, and the word which speaks of them.

Ministry, according to them, has no connection with the gifts of the Holy Ghost. It is good at least to be clear as to the true foundations of the system which opposes the brethren. It is merely a question of purely natural gifts; the Holy Ghost has nothing to do with it, absolutely nothing. It is not (mark this well) a conclusion which I draw; it is the avowed basis of the whole system. A man must be regenerate by the Holy Ghost in order to be a minister, as he must to be a Christian; but as to his ministry itself, the Holy Ghost has nothing to do with it. These are Mr. Wolff's own words (p. 68): "It is only because their ministry is not a gift of the Holy Ghost, that ministers are ambassadors of Christ."

213 I fully admit that he is perfectly consistent. At the close of the Jewish dispensation, the forms (such as priesthood, etc.), and the power (Christ, who was without forms) are found in opposition. The same thing is true now: faith chooses power and eternal things; unbelief always attaches itself to forms. The Reformation, so precious in many respects, mingled together some things which were of God and others which were of man; the manifestation of the energy of the Holy Spirit disentangles them. Those who have not faith to lean upon God alone now throw themselves boldly on forms and applaud the avowal which flows from youthful candour, or from a certain self-complacency. This avowal is, that power does not enter into their plan. They are ministers, or rather their ministers are ambassadors of Christ, because their ministry is not a gift of the Holy Ghost!

Is it necessary to write any further for simple souls who walk in faith? No. But unhappily there are not wanting persons who seek to embroil others, nor persons who, attaching themselves a little to the light, a little to their own fleshly ease, are ready to fall into the snares that human reasonings may spread for them.

I only desire that great attention should be paid to what the thing has come to. God has permitted it to be said loudly; one can no longer mistake. Mr. Wolff is perfectly right: we must deny the existence and the operation of the Holy Ghost in ministry, or abandon the whole system. Things are coming out every day more distinctly. Such an avowal as the one of which we have been speaking is more than I should have dared to expect for helping souls to see things clearly, and to make them understand that the true question for each one of them is this: Do I believe that the Holy Ghost acts in ministry, or not? Such is the question which arises between our brethren and their adversaries — such is the question which agitates Christendom.

We shall see what are the grave consequences of this question; but it is very evident that the position taken by those who embrace Mr. Wolff's system is to deny the operation of the Holy Ghost in ministry and to resist His energy wherever He may be at work; and this is what I have seen becoming continually more distinctly marked.


I have said that the object of Mr. Wolff's pamphlet is to maintain existing things, and to oppose our brethren. He says of Mr. Rochat: "a scriptural system." This is good, because Mr. Rochat opposes the brethren, and maintains more or less a clergy appointed by men. It matters little who appoints them, as Mr. Wolff says elsewhere, provided that it be men, and that there be no gift.

But, at the same time, although it may be convenient to establish a unity of opposition to our brethren, in order to maintain a clergy appointed by men, in some way or another he must, in another part of the pamphlet, destroy all this in order to maintain with exactness the system of the party. The following are the terms in which, after having called Mr. Rochat's system a scriptural one (p. 9), Mr. Wolff expresses himself with regard to the very same system in page 37 of his work, "I must add here that an election by a church, in Mr. Rochat's sense, cannot agree with a divine vocation of the bishop"; and lower down, "If a church, when it needs a pastor, sets about voting, by means of which the member who receives most suffrages is constituted a bishop, that bishop has received no vocation from God; he is established in the name of man, and by man only. This result is inevitable."I am therefore obliged, according to Mr. Wolff, to suppose it a very scriptural thing, that the one who is bishop over the flock of God should be established without any vocation from God. It matters little. There are thirty-seven pages between these two sentences, and in each place these contradictory statements are made in order to sustain what is existing in his party.


After having secured the distinction of an official evangelist, in order to support the clerical principle, Mr. Wolff extols (p. 43) the employment of those who have not received this charge by the imposition of hands. But why so? Because "they are employed at the present time." They ought not to be called evangelists; because "we must carefully distinguish between what is a ministerial charge, and that which is only a testimony rendered to the gospel, voluntarily preached by a zealous and able Christian" (p. 43). But alas! they are so called. This title, therefore, may still be preserved, provided that it is explained, and that one avoids a confusion which would be dangerous for the Church, between those who do the work, and those who are charged by men to do it. I say, those who do the work; for we must suppose that these men who evangelize thus approved, are sent of God. Hence, in our days we see many of these who are sent by men, but "they have not received the imposition of hands." The whole thing, then, is to distinguish the clergy.


From page 45 to page 48, Mr. Wolff absolutely denies the charge of teacher in the Church. But he fortunately corrects himself (p. 49) by adding these words, "That which has just been said with regard to teachers must be considered as in no wise affecting the degree of doctor of theology that the universities confer." It would be difficult to understand how it did not affect it. If I have rightly understood, this doctor is a kind of pastor, who, by means of the students, extends his functions to a larger portion of Christ's flock. But we have had enough of this adulation of everything which supports the interest of a class and of a party, at the expense of faith, of the action of the Spirit, of the word, and of the truth.


The thought of the influence of political over religious ideas is a vulgar one, though well calculated to exercise an influence over those who are, after all, governed by political motives of a special kind; but it will have no hold upon those who are guided by the Holy Spirit and who seek His teaching in the word.

For the rest, it is a very superficial idea. I notice it, because the true Christian is so characterized by a spirit of submission and of obedience, that sincere souls might be troubled by it; and this is how Satan seeks to take advantage of the spirit of obedience, in order to lead the Christian to obey man. No one who has read history a little but is aware that there is not a single accusation brought against the religious movement of our days, that was not brought against the Reformation, and that every movement of the Spirit of God, acting, as it does, upon the inert mass which renders it necessary, is treated by those who love to sleep, or at least to remain on their bed, as a spirit of innovation and of radicalism. Everyone who asserts the rights of God in presence of those who are in possession of an authority which despises those rights, will be necessarily a despot and a radical in their eyes.

216 This is an old accusation, and one which always comes from the wrong side. When Pontius Pilate could find no fault in Jesus, the priests and the rulers insisted the more, saying, "He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place," Luke 23:5. What do they say against Paul and Silas at Philippi? "These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city," Acts 16:20. And at Thessalonica? "These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also," Acts 17:6.

I exhort those who are simple, not to make themselves uneasy about a political principle or any other, but peacefully and firmly to follow the path in which the Holy Ghost leads them, walking by faith, and remembering that these accusations (for in how precious a way the word provides for every need of God's children!) — that these accusations, I repeat — are always found in the Bible to proceed from the enemies of the truth.

Moreover, this appearance of discernment and of philosophical depth is nothing but the superficial spirit of unbelief. God has at all times so prepared the suitable circumstances, for the impulse His Spirit should give. The circumstances for the Reformation were all prepared beforehand. They were equally all prepared for Christianity. The blindness of philosophy sees only these circumstances, and does not discern the power of God which is acting in them.

Unbelief is always the same; but those who act by faith know very well that they are led by something very different from circumstances; and often, in their simplicity, they do not know that circumstances favour them, save by the promise that all things shall "work together for good to them that love God," and "who are the called according to his purpose," and such are by no means the weakest. If I must speak "as a man," I say, that the man of one idea generally does more than the one who knows how to philosophize about everything. The energy of the one, and the abstraction of the other who judges everything, very rarely meet.

217 For the rest, the application of the pretty common and true principle, that Christians in general alas! yield more or less to the influence of that which surrounds them, is somewhat badly made. As to the brethren whom the author attacks, he is singularly mistaken; for in England, on the contrary, they are accused of being all aristocrats, and the system is accused of being made for aristocrats who are discontented with nationalism. Philosophers look upon them as a reaction from the extreme democracy of the English dissenters.*

{*The following is a specimen. "This system has great natural attractions. An aristocratic atmosphere exists in it; a sort of Maddra climate, which suits the delicate lungs of good society — of gentlemen, ladies, etc."}

If the Spirit does but act, it matters little: God produces effects of His grace, and the world judges them, passes on, and perishes in its wisdom. Some Christians perhaps yield also to the philosophical and systematizing influence of the age. I hope our brethren will avoid this, as much as they avoid politics. Scientific reasonings upon what is passing do not save souls, neither do they lift up Christians who have fallen. We are the servants of God: God will prepare, and God will direct, all the circumstances; we need not even occupy our minds with them, save in order to admire in it the good hand of our God. Our part is to follow the impulse of the Holy Ghost, and to be guided by the word.

The truth is, that the democratic and radical principle (that is to say, the will of man) is found both in Presbyterianism and in Dissent.* When the Holy Spirit acts, He knows how to touch all the chords of the human mind and to adapt Himself to them in grace, reserving for God all His rights and all His sovereignty; but God alone knows how to do this: it requires power.

{*The thing is evident. The democratic principle is this, that men have a right to choose their own magistrates, the people being the source of power, though choosing them according to certain qualities of which they are the judges. That is the principle of ministry among Presbyterians and Dissenters. They add, in one form or another, some kind of investiture for the exercise of functions. Whoever insists upon the gifts of God is evidently upon totally different ground; there is no question of politics in gifts which come from heaven.}

218 What we must seek for is the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, and not be either democrats, or aristocrats, or despots; but we must be what is divine, and walk according to the principle of the grace of Christ, in whom the sovereignty of God and the heart of man unite, and are at peace. God's will is not that things should go on without this, for they would be going on without Him.

Let us examine the contents of the pamphlet.



In the introduction, the writer declares that his object is to defend the primitive state of ministry against the modifications of all kinds, which people have sought to make it undergo. At the same time, let us remember, the writer affirms that all gifts have absolutely ceased to exist. This is already rather strong.

Ministry exists absolutely without modification; but all gifts have ceased to exist. How then could ministry subsist without modification? In the days of the apostles, as well as now, gifts had nothing to do with ministry!

Let us take the list of gifts preferred by Mr. Wolff himself, the list given in 1 Corinthians 12:28. "God hath set some in the Church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues."

This list mentions apostles, prophets, teachers, governors. These are evidently gifts; hence all this had nothing to do with ministry! The prophet might edify, comfort, exhort; but that was no ministry. What does the word of God tell us? We read there, that the Lord put Paul "in the ministry" (1 Tim. 1:12); and Paul says of himself, etc., "Who then is Paul … but ministers?" (1 Cor. 3:5). He approved himself in all things as God's minister; 2 Cor. 6:4. If he was "made a minister, according to the gift," he says, "of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power," Eph. 3:7. In spite of all that, according to this system, Paul, as apostle, was not a minister of the word. On the contrary, "it is" (says Mr. Wolff, p. 68), "because his ministry was not a gift of the Holy Ghost, that he was an ambassador of Christ."

219 This we can understand, that his ministry was the exercise of his gift in responsibility to Christ, and not the gift itself; but I think one could hardly believe that in all the apostle says of his ministry in the passages quoted, and in so many others. besides, he never speaks of his apostleship, and that this is another thing, altogether distinct; he spoke of his ministry and not of his work as an apostle. Reader, can you understand that? There was no connection between his ministry and his apostleship; so that, his apostleship being a gift of the Holy Ghost, it could not be a ministry! The ministers of Satan might be false apostles (2 Cor. 11:13, 15); no matter for that: the true apostles are not ministers of Christ. There exists no connection between the apostleship and the ministry!

The writer, p. 67, insists on the word gift, declares it impossible that it can be connected with the idea of ministry, and grounds his reasoning on this. In the passage quoted above (Eph. 3:7), it is grace (charis) and not gift (charisma), a word on which the writer insists, p. 70. But in 1 Peter 4:10, we read: "As every man has received the gift (charisma), even so minister the same one to another" — literally, exercise this ministry "as good stewards of the manifold grace (charis) of God." In Romans 12 ministry — if even one alleged it meant serving tables — is called a gift (charisma), according to the grace (charis) given.

In 2 Corinthians 3:8, so far is it from true that the word separates ministry, as being from Christ, from gifts, as being from the Spirit, that there the ministry of the gospel is called "the ministration of the Spirit." In Acts 1:17 the apostleship is called "this ministry." So also, in verse 25, "That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship."

It will be objected here that the gift of apostle was not yet given. This is true; the gift was necessary for the accomplishment of the ministry. But the apostleship, which is here called ministry, is called gift (charisma) in 1 Cor. 12; so that the distinction between gift and ministry is completely false, unless the writer means that the apostles exercised their apostleship or ministry without gift, in the face of the words of the Lord, who told them to tarry in Jerusalem, until they were "endued with power from on high," that is, with gifts for that ministry. See also Acts 6:2-4; ch. 20:24; ch. 21:19, etc., and Romans 11:13, where Paul says, "I speak to you Gentiles — I magnify my office" — ministry (diakonian). See 2 Corinthians 4, 5, 6, and 1 Corinthians 4.

220 After these quotations, one can simply leave to the confusion it deserves, a theory which, in order to justify a ministry without gift, has been willing to affirm that ministry has undergone no modification, and to deny all connection between gifts and ministry even in the days of the apostles. In the case of the apostles themselves, we have seen that it is completely false, and that (instead of its being true that the minister could not be an ambassador for Christ if his ministry were a gift of the Holy Ghost, and that ministry was exercised without gift), the word, on the contrary, affirms that the apostleship was a gift and a ministry;* and that the apostles could not be ambassadors of Christ, that is, exercise their ministry, until they were endued with power from on high, that is, until they had received the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost; which Mr. Wolff himself calls, by way of distinction, the gifts. We have seen at the same time that Peter extends this principle to every gift, whatever it may be; and that each one, according to the gift he had received, must exercise his ministry. Mr. Wolff applies this passage to what was properly called a gift p. 73).

{*The apostleship was a gift and a ministry, and this, it must be said, according to Mr. Wolff himself (for his contradictions are rather humiliating). Mr. Wolff gives the passage in 1 Corinthians 12 as a list of gifts which excludes ministry, and the apostle and the prophet are found in this list; he gives Ephesians 4 as a list of ministries, and the apostle and the prophet are found there also. (Mr. Wolff's pamphlet, pp. 11, 58, 71. No. 5.)}

We have anticipated a little; but all this is the whole subject. We have been brought to this point by the introduction itself. There the writer declares that his task is to shew "that ministry has undergone no modification"; and his system, for the demonstration of this, is, that ministry is exercised without gift, and that there is no connection between gifts and ministry.


I will say but few words on this chapter. It is not true that in both covenants the title of priest is given to all the faithful. It is singular that opposition to the light always shews itself united with the desire of lowering the distinctive privileges of Christianity. The nation of Israel was called a kingdom of priests because of their nearness to God as a nation, but without a distinction of believers or unbelievers; whereas, in the present covenant, believers are called priests because of their nearness to God in heavenly places, a nearness infinitely above what belonged to the Jews; and even what will belong to them during the millennium.

As to the word ministry in Greek, what Mr. Wolff says is entirely incorrect: it is a sample of the way in which the word is used in this pamphlet.

First, when he says that we find the word used in two distinct senses: in a general way for all that is outward ministry, administration, etc.; then in a special way to designate a special service; and when he says afterwards that "when we find this term used absolutely, it always designates the ministry of the word"; all that is false, though convenient for the end he has in view. What does he mean by this, at the same time, in a special and absolute way? And if it be not his intention to put the absolute use in the category of special use, then absolute and general become the same thing, and the contradiction is flagrant. For how can it be, as Mr. Wolff says, that when it is used in a special way it is called the ministry of the word, if, whenever it is used absolutely, it signifies the ministry of the word? It is evident that one of these phrases contradicts the other; one says, that in a special sense it is called the ministry of the word, the other, it has this sense when it is not called so. The fact is, that ministry of the word is found but once; and that in that case it is contrasted with the absolute use of the word in the sense of serving tables (Acts 6:1-5). All this proves that Mr. Wolff only thinks of his system, and in nowise of the word in the Bible, save to pick out of it what may suit him, if one does not take the trouble to examine things for oneself.

The Greek word is simple enough: it is one who serves, any servant who was not properly a slave; diakonia is any service whatever. It was very natural to use this word in speaking of evangelical service; but the word is used in the New Testament as elsewhere, to signify service; this service might be the ministry or service of the word, or of tables, or of angels, or any other service of whatever kind. The word is used in an absolute way with respect to service of angels in Hebrews 1:14. In 2 Timothy 4:11, it is said of Mark, "He is profitable to me for the ministry"; here it does not appear that it is merely a question of the ministry of the word; we see the use of this word diakonos with respect to Mark; when Paul and Barnabas departed from Antioch, they had Mark to "their minister [here, hupereteen]"; it was not, I suppose, to preach to them. At some later period perhaps he may have purchased to himself "a good degree," in the ministry, a more honourable service in the family. When Paul says (2 Cor. 11:8), "I robbed other churches, taking wages of them to do you service"; it is evident that it is in a figurative sense, however absolute, and it does not refer to the ministry of the word as such. He had been servant of the Corinthians, and others had paid his wages. In Romans 12:7, we find the word used absolutely, together with, and as distinguished from, divers ministries of the word; and in 1 Corinthians 12:5, it is used for all services, of any kind, done to Christ. The only time when it is used with the expression "the word," it has its usual sense modified by the expression "word," as it might be by any other. That is, "that service was occupied with this," in contrast with serving tables. But the service of tables was just as much a special service as that of the word; only of a lower character evidently in the administration of the family. And the fact is, that the only time this expression "ministry of the word" is found, the word ministry is used in an absolute way to signify the service of tables (Acts 6:1); and it is thus explained, in verse 2; then verse 4, the ministry of the word is contrasted with it; but it is added, "of the word"; and thus this word is not used in an absolute way with respect to the word, but on the contrary with respect to tables.

222 It appears to me, that it is limiting the thing, as the word does not limit it, when they pretend to confine the work of the ministry to the ministry of the word: for instance, Ephesians 4:12. Moreover, it is affirming what ought to be proved. At all events, in most of the passages, it is not so, as we have just seen. Angels have not the ministry of the word; and ministry is contrasted with that of the word in Acts 6, 1-5 The fact is, that what Mr. Wolff says is absolutely false and contrary to the ordinary known use of this word in the word and outside the word. If we consider attentively the use of the word diakonos, minister, he who does the service, this will come out with still greater evidence. For the word diakonos used absolutely one may consult John 2:5, 9; Matthew 22:13; ch. 20:26; ch. 23:11, and the parallel passages; also John 12:26. This idea of servant must naturally be modified (as the word 'service' (diakonia); see 2 Corinthians 3), according to the person whose servant one is, or the service one has to fulfil; one may be minister of God (2 Cor. 6:4), of the gospel (Eph. 3:7; Col. 1:23) of the Church (Col. 1:25), etc. The word, taken in its general use, has its general acceptation of servant (Rom. 16; Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:8, 12). Finally, the word diakonia has the general sense of service, and has to be modified in its application by words which are added — of the word (Acts 6), of death, of righteousness, of the Spirit, etc. (2 Cor. 3). There is not one passage which shews that the absolute sense signifies the ministry of the word, but quite the contrary.



It is true that the substantive "vocation" is applied to the effective calling of God in a general sense:* but called (as an adjective) is applied in the same sense to Christians and to ministry. In Romans 1:1, we read that Paul was called an apostle; and in verse 7, that the saints at Rome were called. The same term is applied to the vocation of apostleship, and to the vocation to salvation.

{*I say in a general sense, because the only application in this sense refers to the Jews; and it is quite false to say that vocation (klesis) signifies the effective calling. This word signifies, as in French, a calling, vocation. Undoubtedly, God calls the elect (Romans 8); but so little is it true that this word signifies the effective calling which God addresses to all His elect, that it is only once found used in this sense, and nine times in a more general sense. As in French, the ordinary sense of this word in Greek expresses the character or condition which one is called to maintain or embrace (that is, the vocation). The elect have a heavenly vocation; Christians ought to abide in the vocation wherein they were called. And to shew with what levity the word is used here, the only time when the word is used in the sense of calling according to the immutable purposes of God, it applies to the Jewish nation; namely, in the passage, "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance." It is a general principle as to the calling of God; but, in Scripture, this word is never applied to an inward and effectual call in the heart. In general, as regards Christianity, this expression is, as a verb, contrasted with election. Thus in the passage, "Many are called, but few are chosen," the chosen or elect are called. Moreover, here are the passages in which this word is found: Romans 11:29; 1 Corinthians 7:20; Ephesians 1:18; ch. 4:1: 4; Philippians 3:14; Hebrews 3:1; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Corinthians 1:26; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; 2 Peter 1:10.}

224 This chapter of Mr. Wolff presents to us all that is false and ridiculous in the principle of his pamphlet. Ministry is exercised without gift; such is the principle of Mr. Wolff. These two things, ministry and gift, are totally distinct. Ministry, he says, is connected with the Lord Jesus; gift, with the Holy Ghost.

And yet Mr. Wolff speaks here of the ministry of the prophet, which, we must therefore suppose, was exercised without gift. A singular ministry this! — that of a prophet without gift; a ministry the vocation of which was from God alone. So that, in this case, we cannot speak of an outward vocation. It would be very difficult to conceive what could be the ministry which a prophet exercised without gift.* The case is more striking than that of an apostle, because the office of the prophet was not so varied as that of the apostle. The only thing the prophet did was to prophesy. Of two things, one, according to Mr. Wolff's system: either they prophesied without gift; or else, exercising a gift, it was no longer a ministry.

{*And one must remember that ministry is "essentially different" from them (i.e. from gifts) "by its nature, its origin, and its object" (Wolff, p. 66).}

One might perhaps have found the means of escaping this contradiction, by saying to oneself (as I endeavoured to do myself in order to find some explanation), It might be that the prophets exercised their ministry when they spoke to comfort and edification, and that it was a gift when they revealed the future. Not so. All was gift — and miraculous gift; for what is said in 1 Corinthians 14, on edification through prophecy, is quoted by Mr. Wolff as a proof that prophecy was a miraculous gift, the signs of which, when exercised, shewed that all pretension to possess it now was merely a delusion (p. 73, No. 12). So that, in the case of a prophet, a person was called to a ministry by God alone; but then, at all events, it was wholly a gift, and the exercise of this gift is no ministry at all.

225 All that can be said on such confusion is, that, the object being to strengthen that which exists, without real fear of God, the consequences necessarily become apparent, if the word is consulted. God has not permitted it should be otherwise. Here the contradiction is ridiculous.

The division of vocation to ministry, which Mr. Wolff establishes, is not even exact. As an instrument, a person might receive his vocation by means of an angel, as well as by means of men. Under the Old Testament it was much more the case. There is something similar in Revelation 1:1: "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave … and he sent … by his angel unto his servant John."

We have, then, to remark, on this chapter, that prophecy, which was wholly a gift in all its parts, is acknowledged to be a ministry, and that consequently ministry was the exercise of a gift, because the prophet did exercise his gift when he prophesied, and if that was not his ministry, it is very difficult to know what was his ministry as prophet; this is a positive contradiction of chapter 5.*

{*In a word, according to Mr. Wolff, the prophet exercises a ministry which he has immediately received from God (pp. 14, 50); prophecy is a gift (p. 71); but ministry is not the exercise of a gift.}

One remark more on this chapter. Whoever is somewhat familiar with the word of God would have supposed that, after having spoken of apostles and prophets, coming to evangelists and teachers, one would have again found the list of Ephesians 4, or at least some other list taken from the word of God; but not so at all. All lists are given up, because what is now in existence is the only object that one has here in view, and the train of thought in the word is of small import. Thus, after apostles and prophets, we have bishops, evangelists and teachers, because such do exist, but such an enumeration exists nowhere in the word; and the bishop is not found in any list whatever among all those contained in the word of God.* This already presents something equivocal. They are compelled to abandon the Holy Ghost's way of thinking and teaching, so as to carry their point, even to include in the list what is never found there in the word of God, what the word never places there, and to make up for themselves another list, totally different from every list which is found in scripture.

{*It is an invention of Mr. Wolff to support his system, and slyly slipped in here, that one may receive it and get accustomed to it without heeding it.}

226 I repeat, when, to support a system, one is thus compelled to abandon the word of God, that alone is a sad thing.



Mr. Wolff supposes first that there is the ministry of a bishop, properly speaking; but he does not say if it is a general administration or a ministry of the word. Nevertheless, as the writer here uses this term in an absolute way, and as, in that case, according to him (p. 13), the word "ministry always designates the ministry of the word," it seems to me that it is in this latter sense what he calls the ministry of the bishop* must be taken. But he lays down all this — without any proof — at the basis of his system. Mr. Wolff ends his chapter 2 by saying, "we shall first treat of the bishop"; without even mentioning where he finds, according to the word, that it is a ministry. In that case, this false basis once admitted, the only thing that remains, is to shew the identity of the word 'bishop' with other terms; this appears simple, and it would be hard to know why there is such haste to bring forward that point. But, in effect, the whole of Mr. Wolff's system rests on this basis.

{*In effect, I do not believe that the ministry of the bishop is confined to the ministry of the word.}

The apostle had said, Christ "gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers." According to Mr. Wolff himself (p. 50), it is a classification of ministry, and he gives it with others in the place we quoted. But the bishop is to be found in neither of these classifications, and, for the system, God's classification does not suffice; a classification must be made on purpose, striking out the pastor from the list of the word, and inserting the word 'bishop'; and then, as a consequence, it must be shewn that pastor and bishop is the same thing. And wherefore all this? Because in Ephesians 4, the ministries are gifts given from on high, and one has to get rid of the pastor as being a gift given from on high.* The pastor, then, is laid aside, and hidden behind the bishop, for whom, says Mr. Wolff, it is but another name — a function of his — and the bishop who is not in the list, the bishop who, according to the word, is not a gift, but a charge, is carefully and with great effort presented to view, to shew that the pastor is nothing else but the bishop.

{*The list of Ephesians 4 is treated as a mere classification of ministry (p. 50).}

227 Whence so many efforts to change what is simple? Christ ascended on high and gave gifts unto men: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Why avoid so carefully the plain testimony of the word? It is a bad sign; it is more than a bad sign. The revelation from God has authority; it is perfect, and it cannot be altered without introducing error. The pastor is given by the Holy Ghost in the list of gifts.* One cannot make Ephesians 4:11, to be a classification of ministries to the exclusion of gifts, erase the pastor and substitute the bishop in his stead, without betraying oneself as supporting a bad cause, based on something else than the word of God, a cause which cannot bear the testimony of the word, such as God has given it to us. I may be told that no allusion is made to Ephesians 4:11 — they have made a list for themselves. First of all, this is not true; it is the list of Ephesians 4:11, with the substitution of the bishop for the pastor. And if even it were a list made up for the occasion, how comes it that the lists and classifications which God gave do not suit our adversaries, and that they must have fresh ones? The reason is very simple; their system is not taken from the word of God.** They wanted to get rid of the gifts, and the pastor is a gift given from on high. And why get rid of gifts? Because, "to pretend to the present existence of these gifts is to set up by the side of ministry a rival power which impedes it" (Wolff, p. 69).

{*I am well aware that the word translated "gifts" in Ephesians 4 differs from the one translated "gifts" in 1 Corinthians 12. In the tract, "On Ministry," I have shewn the true difference. Farther on, I will speak of it in this one; but it matters not as to the change introduced here by Mr. Wolff.}

{**There is still further confusion with regard to this list: Mr. Wolff says, page 47, No. 5 and 6, that the name of teacher does not designate a particular charge, but a function of evangelists and bishops, and that (No. 5) the term "teacher" includes the two charges of evangelist and bishop. Thus, according to Mr. Wolff's system, the list which God gave us in Ephesians 4 is altogether erroneous; bishop takes the place of pastor, this latter word, according to Mr. Wolff, p. 15, being merely the ideal expression of what a good bishop should be, and the word teacher embracing the two, both evangelist and bishop, p. 47, No. 6. It is shameful thus to treat the word of God!}

228 Such is the sad part which the gifts of the Holy Ghost are made to play, according to that system.

But, one might say, in the days of the apostles there were, according to your system (p. 77), gifts, and by the side of these gifts a ministry, entirely distinct, it is true, but which subsisted at the same time (p. 69), which was neither destroyed by means of them, nor "compelled to throw itself into clerical despotism, to maintain its rank and dignity."

This is an evident difficulty. Here is the way in which they seek to remove it. There was among these gifts (p. 77) "the gift of discerning of spirits, which could judge of these gifts and assign to them their proper importance and place." Where is all this to be found in the word? "The prophet had to be subject to this"; and it is added (p. 74), "how much more the other gifts." All this is an invention of the writer's imagination.

The apostle, settling the order of service, says, "Let the prophets speak two or three," he refers to prophets, "and let the others judge." Not a word about him who had the discerning of spirits. The apostle laid down the rule for this, as for every other arrangement in the Church, and those who spoke acted according to those directions.

The idea of the writer is subversive of the apostolic authority. He who discerned the spirits did just what those very words express; he judged if it was by a demon or by the Spirit of truth that any one spoke.

Having based his system on a principle which is false, the consequence and the errors which flow from it are endless.

The writer tells us against that the only time the word 'pastor' is found in the New Testament, it presents itself as the ideal expression of what a good bishop should be. But this "only time" is very awkward for him; it is the passage we have quoted. Christ, having ascended on high, gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. This is what Christ gave. How this word 'pastor' is the ideal expression of what a good bishop should be, one cannot say; but the writer cannot deny that the pastorship connected with the doctorship is a ministry, unless a passage of the word of God is not to be received as evidence. As "in this enumeration of the charges of ministry there is no mention of the elder, or the bishop, nothing can prevent assigning the denomination to the bishop" (p. 15). What a mode of reasoning! Because God has not named a charge in a list of gifts, one of these gifts must be that very charge!

229 The grand argument by which Mr. Wolff seeks to assimilate and confound the pastor given from on high (Eph. 4:11), with the charge of bishop, a charge unto which the apostle or his delegate can appoint, is, that it is said to the bishops of Ephesus, "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God," Acts 20:28.

That the bishop is exhorted to feed, that I do not deny; but if such a gift be useful in the charge of a bishop, it does not follow that all those who possessed it were in that charge, and still less than that charge was the same thing as the gift. I can exhort my clerk to write well and to count aright, and he must know how to do these things in order to be a clerk; but it does not follow that every writer and book-keeper is a clerk. That charge supposes confidence, which extends to many other things: the handling of money and goods, intercourse with buyers, etc. Thus a man may be a pastor and be lacking as to many things requisite in a bishop, and may never have been invested with this charge. A man may be lacking as regards authority for governing, in discernment, oversight, the gravity necessary to act upon thoughtless minds in the details of life; or a personal knowledge of souls; and at the same time he may be capable of feeding souls with very great success, without being invested with the charge of bishop. That gift, that of feeding, may, together with other qualities, fit him for the charge of bishop; but a charge with which one is invested is not a gift given by Christ ascended on high.

The falseness and the futility of this reasoning, which tends to justify the alteration they have introduced in the list which God gave us, are proved by a similar passage, John 21:15-17, where it is said to Peter, "Feed my sheep" and "Feed my lambs." Do they mean that, because of these exhortations of the Lord to Peter, apostle and bishop were the same thing? It is of no use saying that he called himself "an elder." He does it in effect, as a touching testimony of affection and humility; but do they mean that apostle and bishop are the same thing? Well, if the conclusion is evidently false in this case, it is equally so in the other, which is perfectly similar. See again 1 Corinthians 9:7, where Paul applies the word 'feedeth' to himself. He is never called an elder.

230 Moreover, Mr. Wolff is, in this respect, in contradiction with himself. He says (p. 14), that "the names of bishop, elder, and pastor, refer to one and the same charge"; and, on the contrary, he says (p. 15, 40), that "the function of pastor is connected principally with the episcopate"; and he gives as a proof of this that an apostle who was not a bishop calls himself a co-elder. This is very slight ground for denying that a thing called "gift" by the Holy Ghost is a different thing from a charge, of which the passage makes no mention. The last proof the writer gives, to establish the identity of pastor and bishop, consists in the denial that there is a particular ministry of pastor" (p. 16), and saying that it is only the ministry of one who was, at the same time, pastor and teacher; and then he concludes that "the name of pastor is in this passage nothing but one among many functions, attributed to one and the same ministry."

We must always remember that there is not a word of all this in the passage, which presents to us a list of gifts and not of charges, by Mr. Wolff's own avowal, although he contradicts himself. I say, by Mr. Wolff's own avowal, because he admits that the outward vocation was wanting in the prophet, who, consequently, had not, nor was, a charge. This is what I admit, that here, in Ephesians 4:11, the Greek supposes doctorship and pastorship to be connected; but that is all, absolutely all; and without a single word being said about the attribution of a charge. I say that doctorship and pastorship are here connected, because such a phrase in no way supposes the union of these things in every case; it only shews that they are joined together in this case. Of this we find one of the strongest proofs in the expression, "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." The Greek form is exactly the same; but if these things can never be connected but with the same person, then the Son is no longer God. This remark overthrows all the reasoning that Mr. Wolff gives here, as well as that of page 47 of his pamphlet. Here again is another example which applies directly to the point in question. The same Greek form is found in Ephesians 2:20, where it is said, "Upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets." The form is absolutely the same, and I can apply to it the phrase of the writer (p. 47). "It is only through error or through ignorance of the language that people can have seen in apostle and prophet two different ministers." But everyone knows quite well that they were different, though connected in certain cases. So that the writer's reasoning as regards the pastors and teachers is false, and according to his expression (p. 47), "it is only through error or through ignorance of the language that he could say all that he has said." He has met with a rule laid down by Greek grammarians, which I admit as a general principle, a rule applied very extensively by Middleton and another English writer, Veysey, but particularly in the famous work of Middleton. But a little knowledge, people say, is a dangerous thing. Mr. Wolff has not had patience enough to examine carefully for himself the application of the rule, and he has applied it altogether wrongly.

231 The fact is, that Mr. Wolff's system cannot hold good in the face of Ephesians 4. This chapter, for his system, is a classification of ministries; but to come to that one must introduce the bishop. On the other hand, to say nothing of apostles, prophets who are mentioned there are for him a gift, and an extraordinary gift too. So that he must lop off prophets, and then expunge pastors from this classification of ministries, and bring in bishops in their stead. When once this is done, teachers still remain, but they are not a ministry; so that this title too must be eliminated and looked upon as a qualification of pastors and evangelists. Here is the process. He easily disposes of apostles and prophets — they are ministries established by God alone. That is soon said. But as to gifts, this they cannot be — they are ministries. But, finally, he is not willing to consider them: in effect it would be rather inconvenient, since he is compelled elsewhere to make them to be gifts. As to pastors, it is an easy matter. Bishops are employed in feeding, therefore pastor and bishop are the same thing; we will put in bishop instead of pastor, and we have now two parts of the system of our day — evangelists, and bishops or pastors. But there still remain teachers in the list, and this is not a ministerial title now. Well, the gordian knot must be cut. It will be neither gift nor ministry, but a qualification of the evangelist or of the pastor. And thus is the revelation of God cut down to the measure of man's will and of man's sin; and man will be content with this.

232 In fine, according to Mr. Wolff, bishop was a charge and not a gift; and these are, according to him, two things essentially different: a gift cannot even be a charge, and the charge can exist without gift (p. 67). But it is quite certain that pastor is a gift. In the passage, Ephesians 4:11, the apostle speaks to us of gifts which Christ gave when He ascended on high. This evidently is a way of presenting gifts under the most important point of view. Christ, for the good of the Church and the perfecting of His saints, gave these gifts when He ascended up into glory unto His Father. There is no question here of any intervention of man to confer a charge; these are things from on high, which are to be exercised for the good of the Church. It is a question of the body of Christ, and of the joints of supply in that body — joints among which one may be more important than another, but which are all looked at under the same point of view. "Unto every one … is given grace." It is not a question here of a charge conferred by men, but of grace given according to the measure of the free gift of Christ.

Is it possible to be plainer or clearer on the nature of the thing itself?

Now Mr. Wolff admits that, in effect, there is no outward vocation for some; he cannot deny it. But does he not perceive that all here are absolutely in the same category and included in the same definition? And it is for this case alone that he chooses to substitute a charge. But the passage gives them all as being of the same nature, and in the same case, and in the same moral order. It is wresting the word in order to take out one of these "gifts" so as to stamp upon it another character and change its nature. The answer is "he gave": it is a gift. Why do violence to the passage in order to make of the thing a charge under another name? Besides, these gifts, pastors and others, are placed in the body as joints of supply, according to the gift of Christ to each. This is never said of the bishop, who, in effect, was a charge, and not a gift, according to Mr. Wolff's distinction.

The bishops (and not a bishop, for there were always several) were local charges; they only acted within the precincts of the particular church where they were found. The bishop was not a gift, nor a joint of supply in the body according to the measure of the gift of Christ, but a local charge, for which, among several other things, the capacity to feed was suitable.

233 The pastor was a gift, a grace; he was given from on high as a joint of supply in that body; he was to act according to the measure of the free gift of Christ, which was bestowed upon him.

The pastor is never presented as a charge established by men, although the bishops who were, according to God, established by men, with a special object of local oversight, may have enjoyed this gift and used it in their locality. These things are connected by one end, as the authority conferred upon the apostles by Christ was connected with what was given to them, and the gift rendered them competent to exercise that authority. For the apostle, although directly from God, was also a charge, and that, we may say, given by Christ as man, acting with authority in the government of the Church; and the charges of authority flowed from that.

The pastor is a gift in the body; the bishop, a charge in a particular church.

If I am asked why I believe that, I repeat, Because God has said it in as many words in the word, and He has done so in the plainest and clearest manner. So that one must alter the lists God gives us, suppress the fact that the passage (Ephesians 4:11) is a list of gifts, and fall into the grossest contradictions* about ministries, charges and gifts, to enable him to get out of it.

{*Mr. Wolff calls the "ministries" the functions which are found in Ephesians 4:11, among others, prophecy; and he says that ministry is exercised without gifts. He affirms (p. 70) that prophecy is a gift, and that it no longer exists because it is a gift. We have seen that this contradiction is very cleverly hid by the warning that, apostles and prophets being acknowledged as coming from God alone, he will say nothing about them.}

The apostle, by way of comparison, applies the word 'feedeth' to his own ministry also; 1 Cor. 9:7.

Hence, according to God, the bishop is a local charge established by men, doubtless, according to the direction of God, by the Holy Ghost (Acts 13:23; Titus 1:3); and the bishop must possess divers qualities enumerated in the word. There were several in each church.

234 The pastor, on the contrary, is a gift given by Christ when He ascended up on high. The pastor is placed as a joint of supply in the body of Christ. He is therefore responsible for the exercise of this function, as for a talent entrusted to him; Eph. 4:11. Woe to the pastor who does not feed!

The bishop may be called to feed and to teach also — as a quality of charge. Historically I do not doubt, that, as man has ever more and more eclipsed the action of the Holy Ghost in the Church, the gift has by degrees been lost in the charge, but this does not change anything in the word; and we live in times, where one must have recourse either to the word or to popery.

If any one would know the history of local pastors, here it is. At first (and that even till rather recent dates in certain countries) the presbyters or elders (for it is the same word) from the central town where they resided, visited the villages around, in order to perform the service and edify the faithful. Gradually the villages wished that one of the presbyters should settle in their midst. This took place; and thus a parish was formed. From the same source came the origin of patronage, or the right of appointing, in the middle ages. The lord of the place promised to endow the presbyter, if he came to reside near him in his village. The right to choose the presbyter was then granted to this lord; and, in imitation of the Jews, tithes were granted. Those who have observed the ways of a separated flock in a large town, will feel no difficulty in understanding how villages were served, and the natural progress in the establishment of parishes — the village flock wishing to have in their midst the appointed minister. Ecclesiastical laws, feudal laws, and other circumstances greatly modified all this, no doubt; but historically the progress is very evident. For us, this in nowise alters the truth which is in the word, and in nowise modifies the duty of acknowledging that which it contains and the ways of God which it declares, and of abandoning, if God gives us light, the tradition of men. The increasing corruption of that which attaches itself to those traditions demands imperatively that the faithful should be decided in this respect, if their desire is to be saved, or at least not be saved as through fire. It is sad preoccupation, to attach oneself to the hay and stubble men have built on the foundation, which is Christ.