« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
pound matters to the church, to order the season of speech and silence, and to pronounce sentence according to the mind of Christ, with the consent of the church. 5. To be guides and leaders to the church, in all matters whatsoever pertaining to church administrations and actions. 6. To see that none in the church live inordinately, out of rank and place, without a calling, or idly in their calling. 7. To prevent and heal such offences in life or in doctrine, as might corrupt the church. 8. To feed the flock of God with a word of admonition. 9. And as they shall be sent for, to visit and pray over the sick brethren. 10. And at other times as opportunity shall serve thereunto. 1 Tim. v. 17. 2 Chron. xxiii. 19. Rev. xxi. 21. i Tim. iv. 14. Mat. xxviii. 17. 2 Cor. ii. 7, 8. Acts xxi, 18, 22, 23. and vi. 2, 3. and xiii. 15. 2 Cor. viii. 19. Heb. xiï. 7, 17.. 2 Thess. ii. 10, 11, 12. Acts xx. 28, 32. 1 Thess. v. 12. James v. 14. Acts xx. 20.
3. The office of a deacon is instituted in the church by the Lord Jesus; sometimes they are called helps. The scripture telleth us how they should be qualified, "Grace, not double tongued, not given to much wine, not given to filthy lucre.” They must first be proved, and then use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. The office and work of a deacon, is to receive the offerings of the church, gifts given to the church, and to keep the treasury of the church, and therewith to serve the tables which the church is to provide for ; as the Lord's table, the table of the ministers, and of such as are in necessity, to whom they are to distribute in simplicity Acts vi. 3. Phil. i. 1. 1 Tim. ïïi. 8. 1 Cor. xii. 28. 1 Tim. iii. 8, 9. Acts iv. 35. and vi. 2, 3. Rom. 12. 8.
4. The office therefore being limited unto the care of the temporal good things of the church, it extends not to the attendance upon, and administration of the spiritual things thereof, as the word and sacraments, or the like. 1 Cor. vii. 17.
5. The ordinance of the apostle, and practice of the church, commends the Lord's day as a fit time for the contribution of the saints. 1. Cor. xvi. 1, 2, 3
6. The instituting of all these officers in the church, is the work of God himself, of the Lord Jesus Christ, of the Holy Ghost ; and therefore such officers as he hath not appointed are altogether unlawful either to be placed in the church, or to be retained therein, and are to be looked at as human creatures, mere inventions, and appointments of man, to the great dishonour of Christ Jesus the Lord of his house, the king of his church, whether popes, patriarchs, cardinals, arch-bishops, lord-bishops, arch-deacons, officials, commissaries, and the like. These and the rest of that hierarchy and retinue, not being plants of the Lord's planting, shall all be certainly rooted out and cast forth, 1 Cor. xii. 28. Eph. iv. 8, 11. Acts xx. 28. Mat. xv. 13.
7. The Lord hath appointed ancient widows, where they may be had, to minister in the church, in giving attendance to the sick, and to give succour unto them, and others in the like necessities. 1. Tim. v. 9, 10.
Of the election of church officers. No man may take the honour of a church offcer unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. Heb. v. 4.
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 be first 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. 3. Heb. xiii. 17.
7. And if the church have power to choose their officers and ministers, then in case of manifest un
worthiness 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 be 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. CHURCH officers are not anly 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 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. sence 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 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.
. terity 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. 1 Tim. iv. 14. 1 Tim. v. 22.
3. In such churches where there are elders, imposition of hands in ordination, is to be performed by those elders.
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 there. unto. For if the people may elect officers, which is the greater, and wherein the substance of the of fice doth consist, 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