Jan 26, 2009

Howell Refutes Hardshellism II

"It is objected, inasmuch as the Church cannot go to preach the Gospel to every creature, that there is an evident unfitness in imposing such a command on her.

In reply, I would beg you, my brother, to remember, that although Christ has made the work hers, he has not left the Church without the proper arrangement by which it is to be done. He has given to the Church a certain class of servants, called by himself, and qualified to preach, which, also, he has placed under the direction of the Church for this especial purpose. Their very name—ministers—which signifies servants, is expressive of this relation. The Church obeys the commission of Christ by calling forth, ordaining, sending out, and sustaining in the field of labor, these servants, so called of God, and by him qualitied and sent forth "to be alight of the Gentiles, and for salvation to the ends of the earth." So far, therefore, from this being an arrangement unsuited to the end had in view, it is in fact the most efficient that can be conceived...indeed, the only one at all likely to succeed in accomplishing the benevolent designs of the Gospel of our salvation. "

If it be again objected, that because the ministry does the work of preaching, therefore, the Church is not responsible; I will ask whether to make a particular work mine, and to render me responsible for its accomplishment, it is essential that I do it with my own hands? ...and because it is done under my direction, by my servant who is qualified for the task, is it therefore not my work? A planter cultivates his crop, and reaps the rewards of his care and industry, but he docs not, perhaps, with his own hands, touch a plough, or hoe, or any other implement of husbandry, during the season; he does his work by his servants; is it, therefore, not his farm, and crop; and was he not responsible for every thing in relation to it ? Such are the relations, under Christ, of the Church, the ministry, and the field of labor, and such her obligations and responsibilities in relation to preaching the Gospel to every creature.

Paul confirms the correctness of these views of the subject under consideration, when he says to the Corinthian Church, speaking of the apostolic ministers (2 Cor. 4: 5,) "We preach, not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." Ministers the servants of the Church—to do what? The passage itself tells us what—to preach, as the servant of the Church, "Christ Jesus the Lord," and, of course to preach him as commanded, in all the world, to every creature. This, therefore, is the work of the Church, and, as the Church cannot go as a body, the ministers are her servants, under her direction and superintendance to do the work, and while so employed, look, (as do all other servants to their employers,) unto her, as the representative of Christ on earth, for countenance and support of a temporal character, and to Christ himself, the great Master, for spiritual sustenance and success. The ministry are responsible both to Christ and his Church for the faithful performance of the trust committed to their hands. So far as the Church is concerned, it is on this ground alone, that she has authority to silence a heterodox or disorderly minister, and deprive him of the sacred office. Were he not her servant, engaged in doing her work, and for the faithful execution of which she is responsible to Christ, the Church would have no right either to license a minister, try him for his heterodoxy, or depose him from his office."

(Letter Number 4 to Hardshell Dr. John M. Watson)

See here

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