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2. Calling unto office is either immediate, by Christ himself, such was the call of the apostles and prophets ; this manner of calling ended with them as hath been said : or mediate, by the church.
Gal. i. 1. Acts, xiv. 23, and vi. 3,
3. It is meet that before any be ordained or chosen officers, they should first be tried and proved; because hands are not suddenly to be laid upon any, and both elders and deacons must be of honest and good report. 1 Tim. v. 22, and vii. 10. Acts, xvi. 2, and vi. 3.
4. The things in respect of which they are to be tried, are those gifts and virtues which the scripture requireth in men that are to be elected into such places, viz. that elders must be blameless, sober, apt to teach, and endued with such other qualifications as are laid down, 1 Tim. iii. 2. Tit. i. 6 to 9. Deacons to be fitted as is directed, Acts, vi. 3. 1 Tim. iii. 8 to 11.
5. Officers are to be called by such churches whereunto they are to minister. of such moment is the preservation of this power, that the churches exercised it in the presence of the apostles. Acts, xiv. 23, and i. 23, and vi. 3, 4, 5.
6. A church being free, cannot become subject to any, but by a free election; yet when such a people do choose any to be over them in the Lord, then do they become subject, and most willingly submit to their ministry in the Lord, whom they have so chosen. Gal. v. 13. Heb xiii. 17.
7. And if the church have power to choose their officers and ministers, then in case of manifest unworthiness and delinquency, they have power also to depose them : for to open and shut, to choose and refuse, to constitute in office and remove from office, are acts belonging to the same power. Rom. xvi. 17.
8. We judge it much conducing to the well being and communion of churches, that where it may conveniently be done, neighbour churches be advised withal, and their
help made use of in the trial of church officers, in order to their choice. Cant. viii. 8, 9.
9. The choice of such church officers belongeth not to the civil magistrates, as such, or diocesan bishops, or patrons ; for of these, or any such like, the Scripture is wholly silent, as having any power therein.
Of ordination, and imposition of hands. 1. Church officers are not only to be chosen by the church, but also to be ordained by imposition of hands and prayer;
with which, at the ordination of elders, fasting also is to be joined. Acts, xiii: 3, and xiv. 23. 1 Tim. v. 22.
2. This ordination we account nothing else, but the solemn putting of a man into his place and office in the church, whereunto he had right before by election; being like the installing of a magistrate in the commonwealth. Ordination therefore is not to go before, but to follow election. The essence and substance of the outward calling of an ordinary officer in the church, doth not consist in his ordination, but in his voluntary and free election by the church, and in his accepting of that election; whereupon is founded that relation between pastor and flock, between such a minister and such a people. Ordination doth not constitute an officer, nor give him the essentials of his office. The apostles were elders without imposition of hands by men ; Paul and Barnabas were officers before that imposition of hands, Acts, xiii. 3. The posterity of Levi were priests and Levites, before hands were laid on them by the children of Israel. Numb. viii. 10. Acts, vi. 5, 6, and xiii. 2, 3, and xiv. 23.
3. In such churches where there are elders, imposition of hands in ordination is to be performed by those elders.
I Tim. iv. 14. Acts, xiii. 3. 1 Tim. v. 22.
4. In such churches where there are no elders, imposition of hands may be performed by some of the brethren orderly chosen by the church thereunto. For if the people may elect officers, which is the greater, and wherein the substance of the office consists, they may much more (occasion and need so requiring) impose hands in ordination, which is less, and but the accomplishment of the other. Numb. viii. 10.
5. Nevertheless, in such churches where there are no elders, and the church so desire, we see not why imposition of hands may not be performed by the elders of other churches. Ordinary officers laid hands upon the officers of many churches : the presbytery at Ephesus laid hands upon Timothy, an evangelist; the presbytery at Antioch laid hands upon Paul and Barnabas. I Tim. iv. 14. Acts, xiii. 3.
6. Church officers are officers to one church, even that particular church over which the Holy Ghost hath made them overseers. Insomuch as elders are commanded to feed, not all flocks, but that flock which is committed to their faith and trust, and dependeth upon them. Nor can constant residence at one congregation be necessary for a minister, no, nor yet lawful, if he be not a minister to one congregation only, but to the church universal ; because he may not attend one part only of the church whereto he is a minister, but he is called to attend unto all the flock. 1 Pet. v. 2. Acts, xx. 28.
7. He that is clearly loosed from his office-relation unto that church whereof he was a minister, cannot be looked at as an officer, nor perform any act of office in any other church, unless he be again orderly called unto office; which when it shall be, we know nothing to hinder, but imposition of hands also in his ordination ought to be used towards him again. For so Paul the apostle received imposition of hands twice at least from Ananias.
Acts, ix. 17, and xiii. 3.
Of the power of the chnrch and its presbytery. 1. SUPREME and lordly power over all the churches upon earth doth only belong unto Jesus Christ, who is king of the church, and the head thereof. He hath the government upon his shoulders, and hath all power given to him, both in heaven and earth. Psalm ii. 6. Eph. i. 21, 22. Isa. ix. 6. Matt. xxviii. 18.
2. A company of professed believers ecclesiastically confederate, as they are a church before they have officers, and without them; so even in that estate, subordinate church-power under Christ, delegated to them by him, doth belong to them, in such a manner as is before expressed, chap. v. sect. 2, and as flowing from the very nature and essence of a church: it being natural to all bodies, and so unto a church body, to be furnished with sufficient power for its own preservation and subsistence. Acts, i. 23, and xiv. 23, and vi. 3, 4. Matt. xviii. 17. 1 Cor. v. 4, 5.
3. This government of the church is a mixt government, and so hath been acknowledged long before the term of independency was heard of. In respect of Christ, the head and King of the church, and the sovereign power residing in him, and exercised by him, it is a monarchy; in respect of the body or brotherhood of the church, and power from Christ granted unto them, it resembles a democracy; in respect of the presbytery, and power committed unto them, it is an aristocracy. Rev iii. 7. I Cor. v. 12. 1 Tim. v. 17.
4. The sovereign power which is peculiar unto Christ, is exercised, 1. In calling the church out of the world into holy fellowship with himself
. 2. In instituting the ordinances of his worship, and appointing his ministers and officers for the dispensing of them. 3. In giving laws for the ordering of all our ways, and the ways of his house. 4. In giving power and life to all his institutions, and to his people by them. 5. In protecting and
delivering his church against and from all the enemies of
Gal i. 4. Rev. v. 8, 9. Matt. xxviii. 20. Eph. iv.8, 11. James, iv. 12. Isa. xxxiii. 22. I Tim. iii. 15. 2 Cor. x. 4,5. Isa. xxxii. 2. Luke, i. 71.
5. The power granted by Christ unto the body of the church and brotherhood, is a prerogative or privilege which the church doth exercise, 1. In choosing their own officers, whether elders or deacons. 2. In admission of their own members; and therefore there is great reason they should have power to remove any from their fellowship again. Hence in case of offence, any brother hath power to convince and admonish an offending brother; and in case of not hearing him, to take one or two more to set on the admonition; and in case of not hearing them, to proceed to tell the church ; and as his offence may require, the whole church hath power to proceed to the public censure of him, whether by admonition or excommunication ; and upon his repentance, to restore him again unto his former communion.
Acts, vi. 3,5, and xiv. 23, and ix. 26. Matt. xviii. 15, 16, 17. Tit.iii. 10. Col. iv. 17. 2 Cor. ii. 7, 8.
6. In case an elder offend incorrigibly, the matter so requiring, as the church had power to call him to office, so they have power according to order (the council of other churches, where it may be had, directing thereto) to remove him from his office; and being now but a member, in case he add contumacy to his sin, the church that had power to receive him into their fellowship, hath also the same power to cast him out, that they have concerning any other member. Col. iv. 17. Rom. xvi. 17. Matt. xviii. 17.
7. Church government or rule, is placed by Christ in the officers of the church, who are therefore called rulers, while they rule with God; yet in case of maladministration, they are subject to the power of the church, as hath been said before. The Holy Ghost frequently, yea always, where it mentioneth church rule, and church government, ascribeth it to elders; whereas the work and duty of the people is expressed in the phrase of obeying their elders, and submitting themselves unto them in the Lord. So as it is manifest, that an organic or complete