Charles Buck Theological Dictionary
A term used to denote that right or authority which a person receives to preach the Gospel. This call is considered as twofold, divine and ecclesiastical. The following things seem essential to a divine call:
1. A holy, blameless life.
2. An ardent and constant inclination and zeal to do good.
3. Abilities suited to the work; such as knowledge, aptness to teach, courage, 7c.
4. An opportunity afforded in Providence to be useful. An ecclesiastical call consists in the election which is made of any person to be a pastor. But here the Episcopalian and the Dissenter differ; the former believing that the choice and call of a minister rest with the superior clergy, or those who have the gift of an ecclesiastical benefice; the latter supposes that it should rest on the suffrage of the people to whom he is to minister. The Churchman reasons thus: "Though the people may be competent judges of the abilities of their tradesmen, they cannot be allowed to have an equal discernment in matters of science and erudition. Daily experience may convince us how injudiciously preferment would be distributed by popular elections. The modesty of genius would stand little chance of being distinguished by an ignorant multitude. The most illiterate, the most impudent, those who could most dexterously play the hypocrite, who could best adapt their preaching to the fanaticism of the vulgar, would be the only successful candidates for public favour.
Thus moderation and literature would soon be banished, and a scene of corruption, confusion, and madness, would prevail." But specious as these arguments seem, they have but little force on the mind of the Congregationalist, who thus reasons: "The church being a voluntary society, none imposed upon her members by men can be related to them as their pastor without their own consent. None can so well judge what gifts are best suited to their spiritual edification as Christians themselves. The Scriptures allow the election of pastors in ordinary cases to adult Christians, and to none else, Acts 1:15; Acts 1:26 . Acts 6:1; Acts 6:6 . Acts 14:23 . Christ requires his people to try the spirits, which supposeth their ability to do so, and their power to choose such only as they find most proper to edify their souls, and to refuse others, 1 John 4:1 . The introduction of ministers into their office by patronage, of whatever form, hath its origin from popery, tends to establish a tyranny over men's conscience, which and whom Christ hath made free, and to fill pulpits with wicked and indolent clergymen. Whoever will attentively examine the history of the primitive times, will find that all ecclesiastical officers for the first three hundred years were elected by the people." We must refer the reader for more on this subject to the articles CHURCH, EPISCOPACY, and INDEPENDENTS.
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Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Ministerial Call'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/cbd/m/ministerial-call.html. 1802.