Why, brothers, look you out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom…
A radical mistake has been committed in supposing it is necessary in all cases for the desire after the sacred office to rise up first of all and spontaneously in the breast of the aspirant. In consequence of this, many have thrust themselves forward who were altogether unfit for the work; while many, as eminently qualified for it, have been kept back by modesty. Does it not seem to be the work of the pastors and the churches to call out from among themselves the most gifted and pious of their members for this object? Should this matter be left to the inflations of self-conceit, the promptings of vanity, or the impulses, it may be of a sincere, but at the same time of an unenlightened zeal? Nothing can be more erroneous than that this call of the Church would be an officious intermeddling with the work of the Spirit in calling the ministry — for it may surely be conceived to be quite as rational a notion to suppose that the Spirit calls a person through the medium of the Church and its pastor, as to imagine that the commission from above comes direct to the heart of an individual — especially as the Church and the pastor, or at any rate the latter, is usually applied to, as a judge of the candidate's fitness for the work; and thus, after all, the power and the right of pronouncing a judgment upon the alleged call of this Divine agent are vested with the pastor and the Church. To affirm that an individual cannot be supposed to have a very great fitness for the office, unless his love of souls has been strong enough to prompt him to desire the work of the ministry, and that he is not likely to be very earnest in it, if he be thus sent, instead of his going of his own accord, is assuming too much; for on the plan here recommended, it is supposed that the individual who attracts the attention of the pastor is one who, in addition to true piety and competent abilities, has manifested an active zeal in the way of doing good. It is only on such an one that his eye would light, or to whom he would venture to make the suggestion. In nil the official appointments recorded in the New Testament, from an apostle down to a deacon, the people were requested to look out for suitable men, and not to wait till they presented themselves.
(J. A. James.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.