J. C. Ryle
“Neglect not the gift that is in you, which was given you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” 1 Timothy 4:14
Brethren, the leading topics of the subject committed to me appear to be the ministerial office, and the imperative duty of not neglecting it. Paul speaks to Timothy of his office, as “a gift.” And he says of this gift, “neglect it not.” In opening the subject I trust I may be allowed to remind my brethren that the orders of Timothy and Titus ought to be specially interesting to them.
I consider that, strictly speaking, no minister of the Gospel of the present day, whatever may be his church or denomination, has any right to regard himself as a “successor of the apostles.” I believe that, in strict accuracy, the apostles had no successors at all. Their office was a peculiar office. Their order was a peculiar order. Both office and order ceased at their death. The apostles were specially called, and immediately set apart by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. They had the power of speaking with other languages. They were enabled to confirm the doctrines they preached by miracles and signs. They had the power of infallibly declaring God’s truth, and expounding His mind to the world. They were commissioned to bind and loose sins with authority. They could confer gifts upon others. In all these respects they stood alone. We are not their successors. They never had any successors! They were an order intended to continue until the Canon of Scripture was concluded, and no longer. The ministers of the present day are the successors of Timothy and Titus; but not of Paul, Peter, James, and John. I feel that this is a digression, but the importance of the subject must be my apology. Continue reading