Antiquities of the Christian Church
CHAPTER VIII. Of Ordination
The solemn consecration of a religious teacher to his office, as an institution of religion, is derived from the ordinances of the synagogue, as they were constituted after the Babylonish captivity. The presidents and readers of the synagogue were at first appointed to their office by the solemn imposition of hands. Afterwards was added the anointing with oil, the investiture with the sacred garments, and the delivery of the sacred utensils. This was called the filling of the hands**, Exod. 29:24, Lev. 21:10, Num. 3:3.
The first instance on record of an ordination in a christian church is that of the seven deacons at Jerusalem, in Acts 6:1–7. These, though not appointed to the office of religious teachers, were set apart by prayer and the laying on of hands. The consecration of religious teachers and officers of the church is also mentioned in the following passages, Acts 13:1–4, Acts 14:23, 1 Tim. 4:14, 5:22, 2 Tim. 1:6. In these passages three particulars are mentioned, fasting, prayer, and the laying on of hands.
The historical fact is undeniable, that the church has, at all times, observed some prescribed mode of inducting into the sacred office those who were appointed to serve in that capacity. The several offices which were subsequently created were indeed unknown in the first organization of the church, as well as the different rites of ordination and installation. But the injunction that all things should be done decently and in order – the ministry of the word, and the laying on of hands, of which the apostle so often speaks, all imply a consecration to the sacred office by peculiar religious rites. The most ancient liturgies also, both of the Eastern and Western church, prescribe at length the mode of consecration to this office, and in this manner illustrate the solemnity of the transaction in the estimation of the ancient fathers of the church.
It is also worthy of observation, that the various religious sects, schismatics and heretics, almost without exception, observed the rites of ordination.
Fr. Hallierii de sacris electionibus et ordinationibus ex antique et novo usu. Rotnae 1749. f. torn. i. ii. iii: Jo. Morini, Commentariiis histor. ac dogmaticus de sacris ecclesiae ordinationibus, secundum antiq. et recent. Latinos, Graecos, Syros etc. part i. ii. iii. Paris. 1655. f. Bruxell. 1689. Amstelod. 1695. f.: Jo. Fr. Mayer, 31useum Ministr. eccles. part i. p. 140 seq.: H. Tournely, Praelectiones theol. de sacramento ordinis. Paris. 1729. 8.: Forbiger, de muneribus ecclesiat. aetate Apostolorum. dissert, i. Lips. 1776.
(No tag #1 appears in Rev. Lyman Coleman's translation.)
Selden, De Synedr. Heb. lib. ii. c. 7: Vitringa, De Synagoga. Vet. lib. iii. part i. c. 15.
(No tag #2 appears in Rev. Lyman Coleman's translation.)
(** denotes Hebrew text in Rev. Lyman Coleman's translation.)