We do not limit the infinite extent and power of Divine grace, when we speak of the necessity of the Christian Ministry. These uses of the sacred institution are not and cannot be necessary to God, as if he were unable to work without them. But they are such as he has appointed and made necessary in the constituted order of means, for the accomplishment of his own purposes of mercy to the world.
His sovereign pleasure has ordained this office as a first link of means in the chain of salvation; so that without a Ministry there would be no hearing of the word—consequently no faith in the only Saviour of whom it speaks—no calling upon his name—no salvation.
It is not our province to prescribe what he might have
done, but to mark the consummate wisdom of what he has done, and to exercise the humility of faith, when we cannot discern the reasons of his dispensations.
Doubtless he might have instructed as well as converted Paul by a miracle; but it was his pleasure to direct him to a fellow-sinner for the explicit revelation of his will. The angel also might have been an instructor to Cornelius; but in order to maintain the order of the divine economy, the Ministry of the word was made the medium of conveying evangelical light to his soul.
This, therefore, is the ordained means of conversion, and of subsequent establishment in every stage of the Christian life; and its necessity must continue while there is a single sinner to be brought into the family of God, or a single grace in the heart of the saint to advance to perfection.