Chapter 9: Of Ordination, and Imposition of Hands

1. Church officers are not only to be chosen by the church, but also to be ordained by imposition of hands, and prayer, with which at ordination of elders, fasting also is to be joined.

2. This ordination we account nothing else, but the solemn putting of a man into his place and office in the church whereunto he had right before by election, being like the installing of a magistrate in the common wealth. Ordination therefore is not to go before, but to follow election. The essence and substance of the outward calling of an ordinary officer in the church, doth not consist in his ordination, but in his voluntary and free election by the church, and in his accepting of that election, whereupon is founded the relation between such a minister and such a people. Ordination doth not constitute an officer, nor give him the essentials of his office. The apostles were elders, without imposition of hands by men: Paul and Barnabas were officers, before that imposition of hands, Acts 13:3. The posterity of Levi were priests, and Levites, before hands were laid on them by the children of Israel.

3. In such churches where there are elders, imposition of hands in ordination is to be performed by those elders.

4. In such churches where there are no elders, imposition of hands may be performed by some of the brethren orderly chosen by the church thereunto. For if the people may elect officers, which is the greater, and wherein the substance of the office consists, they may much more (occasion and need so requiring) impose hands in ordination, which is the less, and but the accomplishment of the other.

5. Nevertheless in such churches where there are no leaders, and the church so desire, we see not why imposition of hands may not be performed by the elders of other churches. Ordinary officers laid hands upon the officers of many churches: the presbytery of Ephesus laid hands upon Timothy an evangelist. The presbytery at Antioch laid hands upon Paul and Barnabas.

6. Church officers are officers to one church, even that particular, over which the Holy Ghost hath made them overseers. Insomuch as elders are commanded to feed, not all flocks, but that flock which is committed to their faith and trust, and dependeth upon them. Nor can constant residence at one congregation, be necessary for a minister, no, nor yet lawful, if he be not a minister to one congregation only, but to the church universal: because he may not attend one part only of the church, whereunto he is a minister, but he is called to attend unto all the flock.

7. He that is clearly loosed from his office-relation unto that church whereof he was a minister, cannot be looked at as an officer, nor preform any act of office in any other church, unless he be again orderly called unto office: which when it shall be, we know nothing to hinder, but imposition of hands also in his ordination ought to be used towards him again. For so Paul, the apostle received imposition of hands twice at least, from Ananias, Acts 9:17 and Acts 13:3.