A fair sized audience assembled in Appleton Chapel last night to listen to the fourth Dudleian Lecture, delivered by Rev. William Elliot Griffis of Boston. The subject of the Lecture was "Ordination" and its aim was to prove that the form of ordination which has been used in New England is safe, scriptural and valid.
The ordination of ministers as practised at present is almost like the ordination of men like Paul. Paul was a natural leader and came naturally to the front when the time came for preaching Christ. His ordination was so simple as almost to be no ordination at all; he was simply the fittest man and the place ready for him.
Through the centuries since Paul's time the forms of religion have undergone tremendous changes. With the growth of governments, a complexity of laws and beliefs, a secrecy and growth of selfishness slowly eradicated the honesty and spontaneity of life and in the Middle Ages, religion was a chaos of doubts and uncertainties. It was natural that certain men should declare themselves divinely appointed to rule over their fellow men in things temporal and things spiritual. Such men appeared in great numbers and the whole system political and religious was thoroughly subverted. Politics and religion joined hands and worked their private ends by keeping the multitudes in ignorance. Ordination at this time was of course in no way in the hands of the people.
Light came as usual from the East. The introduction of printing brought religion from the close corporations of the church hierarchies to the humblest of the people. Germany, and in fact most of the continental countries, had the Bible printed before England did. The first English Bible was printed in 1538. Before the great Reformation a sect arose called the Anabaptists and began a great missionary work. Some men in England adopted this faith and it is from these men that our New Englanders are descended. They went back to the simplicity which characterized the early times. With them ordination was by the congregation and this is the form which remains in the Protestant churches to this day.
History, then, with its examples, shows us that ordination in New England is and has been safe, scriptural and valid. The duty of our Protestant churches is to cultivate a love for the church of another faith and to realize that while its forms are different, it has its place and does its work.
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