In complete public worship, there should be a ministry.  I do not, for a moment, say that it is of absolute necessity that it must be an Episcopal ministry.  I am not so narrow-minded and uncharitable as to deny the validity of Presbyterian or Congregational orders.  I only maintain that it is the mind of God that ministers of some kind should conduct the worship of Christian congregations and be responsible for its decent and orderly conduct in approaching God.  I am at a loss to understand how anyone can read the Acts of the Apostles and the epistles to the Corinthians, Ephesians, Timothy, and Titus and deny that the ministry is an appointment of God.  I say this with every feeling of respect for the Quakers and Plymouth Brethren, who have no ordained ministers.  I simply say that I cannot understand their views on this subject.  Reason itself appears to me to tell us that business which is left to nobody in particular to attend to is a business which is soon entirely neglected.  Order is said to be heaven’s first law.  Once let a people begin with no Sabbath and no ministry and it would never surprise me if they ended with no public worship, no religion, and no God.

From: Worship: Its Priority, Principles, and Practice by J. C. Ryle (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2005), p. 18.  This booklet is excerpted from Ryle’s Knots Untied (1877).

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