Reception of the Holy Ghost
Reception of the Holy Ghost In the act of conferring the orders of the ministry simple, or of its higher functions, such as the eldership or bishopric, the solemn words are used, "Receive the Holy Ghost." Having been originally used by Jesus when he commissioned his apostles, the expression has been retained by the Church as the most proper and authoritative form in which the powers of the Christian priesthood can be conveyed. "That the Church is vindicated," says Stoughton, "in employing them at the consecration of bishops is manifest from the fact that the ministerial powers of office are identically the same with those held by the apostles, and if given at all must proceed from the same source — i.e. the Holy Ghost." In the ordination of priests the same principle will apply. "Those under the designation of presbyters or elders also received their authority from this divine source, notwithstanding that there might be one or more intermediate links in the chain of transmission." "Take heed," said Paul to the elders of Ephesus, "unto yourselves and to all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers." If, therefore, it be granted that the bishop has the power of ordaining, it follows that he stands as an agent between the heavenly source of authority and the candidate to whom that authority is to be given, and is qualified to pronounce, "Receive the Holy Ghost for the office and work of a priest [or bishop] in the Church of God,' etc.
We have quoted Stoughton because he fully exhibits the High-Church notion of ordination (q.v.), but we do not wish to be understood as its endorsers. Even the Low-Church clergy of the Anglican communion and the Protestant Episcopal Church refuse to give it approval. SEE EPISCOPACY. In the Methodist Episcopal Church bishops are not regarded as the successors of the apostles, and the apostolical succession of its ministry is not maintained. SEE EPISCOPACY, § iv. The form of ordination is very like in the different churches, and its variability of opinion depends upon the interpretation of the language employed.