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whether we term the rite a third ordination, or, following the
example of the Protestant Episcopal and the Romish Churches,
call it a consecration,

On entering upon this inquiry, the first thing to settle is the
meaning of the terms which belong to the question. What is
an order? What is an office?

The ritual makes no distinction between these terms. It speaks of “the office and work of a bishop," and in exactly the same words names “the office and work” of an elder. It also names " the office of a deacon.” Thus it appears from the words used in the most significant and solemn part of the ordination service, that we have not one office only, but three, in our ministry.

But how many “orders” have we? In the practical working of our system we distribute the active ministry into a number of classes: 1. Local preachers ; 2. Local deacons ; 3. Local elders; 4. Unordained preachers on trial in the conference; 5. Itinerant deacons; 6. Itinerant elders; 7. Presiding elders; 8. Bishops; 9. Supernumerary deacons ; 10. Supernumerary elders. These classes are all distinct, the duties and powers of each being defined in the Discipline of the Church. No man can enter any one class or pass from one to another except by the formal action of the proper authorities. On examining the duties, powers, and privileges thus assigned we find thein divisible into two classes—the temporary and the permanent. The unordained local preacher is licensed for one year only, and on the expiration of that period his license must be renewed or he ceases to be a local preacher. The preacher on trial in the Conference is received for one year only, and at the end of the year new action is taken by the Conference. The presiding elder is appointed for only one year. In these cases duties are assigned for a limited period named in the law of the Church; but when we elect to the office of a deacon, an elder, or a bishop, we assign duties and confer powers which we never expect to recall.

These three offices are separated from each other by narrow intervals. A deacon can perform every dnty which ordinarily belongs to an elder except one, that is, he cannot conduct the service in the administration of the Lord's Supper, although he may assist the elder therein. The bishops preside in the Conferences, decide

Fourru SERIES, VOL. XXIV.-14

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questions of law, appoint the preachers, and perform the rites of ordination and consecration ; but if from any cause an Annual Conference is compelled to hold its session without the presence of a bishop, an elder, appointed by the absent bishop or elected by the Conference, presides, decides law questions, and appoints the preachers. If, by death or otherwise, there is no bisbop left in the Church, the General Conference may


one, and the elders consecrate him. Thus an elder may, in certain cases, perform the highest functions of the episcopal office, and be for the time a true bishop.

By the law of onr Church, and by the immemorial usage of the general Church, the question in regard to the holding of solemn inauguration ceremonies is determined by the duration of the tenure of office. A local preacher is licensed for a year only, and he enters upon his office without any formal induction. The presiding elder is appointed for a year, and begins his work without inauguration rites of any kind. The elder who is made a temporary bishop by the vote of an Annual conference, is invested with a short-lived authority, and he, too, enters upon the duties of his position at once without form or ceremony; but a deacon, on becoming such, is invested with certain powers which he holds for life. On his election to the office of an elder he loses nothing of the powers which pertained to him as deacon, but receives certain additional ones. Should he become a bishop he loses no power pertaining to the eldership, but adds others. Thus in all three cases duties are assigned and powers are bestowed which are not limited to any set period, not liable to be recalled, but are held by a life tenure; and it seems proper to mark with special solemnities the setting apart of men for sacred duties which are to be their life-work.

We hold firmly the conviction that, so far as Church action goes, a valid election is the vital element of a valid ministry, and that if the Church so ordered, the office of deacon could be done away, or elders and bishops, duly elected, could be empowered to enter upon their several duties without any formal induction into office. Nevertheless, the solemn services of ordination and consecration, if not obligatory, are beautiful, impressive, and appropriate, and their continued observance is desirable to the end of time; and if we have

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more than one ordination, it would seem that we ought to have three. In regard to the regular duties of their respective offices, the interval between the deacon and the elder is far less than that between the elder and the bishop. The functions of the deacon and the elder lie almost in the same plane, and casual observers detect no difference between them. The responsibilities of the bishop involve the interests of so many ministers, Churches, and people, and involve them so deeply, as to justify peculiar care in selecting the minister upon whom they are to be laid, and peculiar solemnities in investing him with his sacred office. In this inauguration ceremony it is accordant with Scripture and history that there be hands laid upon the head of the candidate; and to this service the usage of ages applies the term ordination or consecration, or the conferring of orders. Thus it appears that while we utterly repudiate all “ High Church” notions, we have, by the law of the Church, three offices in our ministry, and by the laws of language we have also three orders, and that the law of the Church and the usage of ages regard the laying on of hands as a regular part of the inauguration service where spiritual office is held by the life tenure.

If this interchange of the words order and office be deemed confusing and undesirable, it may be avoided by our agreeing to state principles and define terms, thus: That God has established the ministry for the preaching of the Gospel, the administration of the sacraments, and the oversight of the Church; that those who are called to this work constitute the order of the ministry; that in the Methodist Episcopal Church the functions of this ministry are distributed into three offices, and that ordination is the solemn induction of the deacon, elder, or bishop elect into an office of the order to which God and the Church have called him.

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“UNTO you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour,
which is Christ the Lord," are the words of angelic messengers
as quoted by Luke, (ii, 11.) “Now when Jesus was born in
Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king,” are the
harmonious utterances of the first Gospel, (Matt. ii, 1.) “Jesus
was born at Nazareth,” is the contra-assertion of the confident
Frenchman, Renan, in his so-called “Life of Jesus.” If this
assertion were admitted to be true, then the above declarations
of the Gospels must be untrue as to an important fact. The
whole of the narrative depending upon that fact must be untrue.
Every connected statement, whether of history or of doctrine,
must also be discredited. Not only must the Gospels be af-
fected—the first and third in particolar-but there is in that
case an utter failure in the fulfillment of the prophecies of the
Old Testament, which pointed to Bethlehem, “the city of
David," as the birthplace of the one who was to be the Messiah.
Whatever else might or might not be true of Jesus and of Chris-
tianity, all Messianic claims must be utterly unfounded. But
the mere assertion of a writer whose "floruitis more than eight-
een centuries after the event, can hardly be allowed to be of as
much weight, or as likely to be accurate, as the written history
known to have been extant within the century when the occur-
rence took place. What to the perverted judgment of the Gal-
lic philosopher may appear to be an “awkward détour," may
to right reason and historic truth seem to be a very natura!
and legitimate process, resulting in the actual fact as recorded
by the evangelists; namely, the birth of Jesus at the royal city
of Bethlehem-Judah. The burden of proof of "awkwardness"
and "détour,” if such there be, might, perhaps, safely be laid
npon him who so arrogantly has assumed them, with the posi-
tive assurance that the final verdict would be, “Not proven."

But it may be suggested, in passing, that when once a certain
class of writers have “donned” the philosophic garb, they
cease to consider it necessary to stoop to the common sense idea
of proving any thing they may be pleased to conceive, and pre-
fer, especially in matters of this kind, to dogmatize rather than

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to reason; abandoning, indeed, that field to their so-stigmatized more credulous opponents, whose humility leads them to a painstaking search for truth rather than to leap to conclusions which find all their support in suppressing or rejecting fact.

It is, besides, the province of our present purpose to attempt to establish the authenticity of the four Gospels; but we may take it to be a fact admitted and proceeded upon by the writers who have so liberally supplied the world with so-called “Lives of Jesus," that these Gospels contain the fullest and most authentic account of this man, of all history the most noted and the noblest. Now in proof of his having been born in Bethlehem, the city of David, we have the positive statements of two of the evangelists, and the absence of any positive declarations to the contrary in any part of his subsequent history, or in any authentic contemporary history whatever. True, it is said that he was “of Nazareth,” “ called a Nazarene,” “ arose ont of Nazareth,” “was of Galilee,” etc., but in no place is it said that he was BORN at Nazareth, while these expressions are accounted for by the evangelists themselves. It is, indeed, attempted to be shown that John on two several occasions teaches differently. But the calling of Galilee his “own country” does not necessarily imply birthplace; otherwise “his own city” must likewise mean the city of his birth, a conclusion which would convict both Matthew and Luke of self-contradiction, for both of them call Nazareth “ his own city," and yet both put his birth at Bethlehem. In the other passage, where the multitude of Christ's enemies contended about his character, some holding that “ he was that prophet,” others that "he was the Christ,” others objecting that “ Christ cometh of the seed of David and out of the town of Bethlehem," it is observable that John leaves the matter undetermined ; that he does not say that he need not be a Bethlehemitish son of David, nor does he say that Christ could “come out of Galilee.” When, too, the Pharisees afterward said to Nicodemus, “Search and look, for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet,” John does not say that the Pharisees were in error in this point, but just does what one who wrote at a time when the facts in relation to Christ's birth were so widely known and so universally believed would most naturally be expected to do, leaves their statement without note or comment, as a simple exhibition of the fact that this was the

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