Page images

ordinances." Eccles. vii. 10. " 'say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely respecting this." Jeremiah also admonishes the people to ask for the old paths, in order to see where is the good way, and to choose that alone, vi. 16.3 for in any other sense the argument may be as justly employed to defend the idolatries of the heathen, and the errors of the Pharisees and Samaritans. Jer. xliv. 17. "to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes.- -"Matt. xv. 2, &c. "why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?" where Christ opposes to their tradition the commandment of God, v. 3. "why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” See also Mark vii. 8, 9. John iv. 20. our fathers worshipped in this mountain."


Even to the venerable name of our mother church itself we are not to attach any undue authority. Hos. ii. 2. “ plead with your mother, plead; for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband; let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight:" unless by this expression we understand exclusively the mystical church in heaven; Gal. iv. 26. "Jerusalem whch is above is free, which is the mother of us all."


THUS far of the UNIVERSAL VISIBLE CHURCH. A PARTICULAR CHURCH is a society of persons professing the faith, united by a special bond of brotherhood, and so ordered as may best promote the ends of edification and mutual communion of the saints.* Acts ii. 42. "they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."

'Remonst. He that said I am the way, said that the old way was the good way. Answ. He bids ask of the old paths, or for the old ways, where or which is the good way; which implies that all old ways are not good, but that the good way is to be searched with diligence among the old ways, which is a thing that we do in the oldest records we have, the gospel.' Animadversions upon the Remonstrant's Defence. Prose Works, III. 66.

✦ See, on the first part of this chapter, Stillingfleet's Irenicum; Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity; Bp. Hall's Episcopacy by Divine Right asserted; Bp.

The ordinary ministers of a particular church are PRESBYTERS and DEACONS.


PRESBYTERS are otherwise called BISHOPS.5 Acts xx. 17. compared with v. 28. "he called the elders (πPEOßUTÉpous) of the church: take heed therefore unto yourselves and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, (Éπionómous) to feed the church of God." The same office of bishop or presbyter is described 1 Tim. iii. 1, &c. where no mention is made of any other minister except deacon. Philipp. i. 1. "with the bishops and deacons." Tit. i. 5. "that thou shouldest ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee," compared with v. 7. "a bishop must be blameless." 1 Pet. v. 1. "C the elders which are among you I exhort.. feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof," that is, performing the office of bishops. Lastly, in the first council of the church, held at Jerusalem, the apostles and elders alone are spoken of as present, no mention being made of bishops, Acts xv. 6. xvi. 4. bishops and presbyters must therefore have been the same.

Of the presbyters, some were set apart for the office of teaching, others watched over the discipline of the church, while in particular instances both these functions were united. I Tim. iii. 2. "apt to teach." v. 5. "if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" v. 17. let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who


Parker's Account of the Government of the Christian Church for the first Six Hundred years; Bp. Jeremy Taylor's Episcopacy asserted, Works, vol. vii.


5 Bishops and presbyters are the same to us both name and thing.' Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing. Prose Works, II. 83. 'It will not be denied that in the Gospel there be but two ministerial degrees, presbyters and deacons.' Likeliest Means to remove Hirelings, &c. III. 8. Through all which book can be nowhere, either by plain text, or solid reasoning, found any difference between a bishop and presbyter, save that they be two names to signify the same order.' Of Prelatical Episcopacy, II. 421. A bishop and presbyter is all one both in name and being undeniable that there are but two ecclesiastical orders, bishops and deacons, mentioned in the Gospel.' Ibid. 436.

6 More beneath in the 14th verse of the third chapter, when he hath delivered the duties of bishops, or presbyters, and deacons, not once naming any other order in the church.' Reason of Church Government urged against Prelaty. Prose Works, II. 447.

labour in the word and doctrine." Rom. xii. 7, 8. "he that teacheth, on teaching.... he that ruleth, with diligence." 1 Cor. xii. 28. "governments," 1 Pet. v. 1. as above. Hence a bishop or presbyter is called "the steward of God," Tit. i. 7.

The office of a DEACON is properly to administer, in the character of a public servant, to the temporal wants of the church in general, and particularly of the poor, the sick, and strangers. Acts vi. 3. "look ye out among you.... whom we may appoint over this business," 1 Tim. iii. 10. "let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless." v. 13. "they that have used the office of a deacon well." Also to teach and baptize; as appears from the example of Philip, who in his capacity of deacon (the apostle of that name having remained during the same period at Jerusalem) converted the people of Samaria to the faith, and on his own authority baptized, first his new converts, and afterwards the Ethiopian eunuch. Acts vi. 5. viii. 1, 12. “when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women." v. 38. "he baptized him." In allusion to this his office of preaching he is called "the evangelist," Acts xxi. 8. "where his identity is established by his being designated as one of the seven.” Hence 1 Tim. iii. 13. they that have used the office of a deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus."


The widows of the church are also associated with the deacons in the performance of their duty, 1 Tim. v. 3—16. "honour widows that are widows indeed," &c.

The choice of ministers belongs to the people." Acts i. 23. they appointed two." vi. 5. "the saying pleased the whole multitude, and they chose Stephen." xiv. 23. "when they had ordained them elders in every church." xv. 22. "then pleased

[ocr errors]

"He that ennobled with gifts from God, and the lawful and primitive choice of the church assembled in convenient number, faithfully from that time forward feeds his parochial flock, has his co-equal and co-presbyterial power to ordain ministers and deacons by public prayer and vote of Christ's congregation, in like sort as he himself was ordained, and is a true apostolic bishop.' Of Reformation in England. Prose Works, II. 373. He that will mould a modern bishop into a primitive, must yield him to be elected by the popular voice.' Ibid. 378.

t the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas."

It is proper that ministers should undergo a certain trial previous to their admission. 1 Tim. iii. 10. "let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless." The requisite qualifications of an elder, as well as of a deacon, are detailed at length in the epistles to Timothy and Titus, and particularly 1 Tim. iii. 1, &c. Tit. i. 5, &c.

On such as were approved the presbyters laid their hands. 1 Tim. iv. 14. "neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery." v. 22. "lay hands suddenly on no man." The imposition of hands, however, was not confined to the election of presbyters, but was practised even towards veteran ministers, in the way of solemn benediction, on their engaging in any work of importance. Acts xiii. 2, 3. as they ministered unto the Lord.... when they had fasted and prayed and laid hands upon them, they sent them away."


The right of succession is consequently nugatory, and of no force.8 Acts xx. 29, 30. "I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.' 2 Cor. xi. 13. "such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ."


With regard to the remuneration to be allotted to the ministers of the universal church, as well as to those of particular religious communities, it must be allowed that a certain recompense is both reasonable in itself, and sanctioned by the law of God and the declarations of Christ and his apostle." Matt. x. 10, 66 the workman is worthy of his meat."


See the frowardness of this man; he would persuade us that the succession and divine right of bishopdom hath been unquestionable through all ages.' Animadversions on the Remonstrant's Defence. Prose Works, III. 50.


9 We consider, first, what recompense God hath ordained should be given to ministers of the church; (for that a recompense ought to be given them, and may by them justly be received, our Saviour himself from the very light of reason and of equity hath declared, Luke x. 7. the labourer is worthy of his hire.)' Likeliest Means to remon? Hirelings, &c. III. 6.

1 Cor. ix. 7-13. "who goeth a warfare at any time at his own charges?" Gal. vi. 6. "let him that is taught in the word, communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things." 1 Tim. v. 17, 18. "let the elders that rule well," &c. Hence it is lawful and equitable, and the ordinance of God himself, 1 Cor. ix. 14. "that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." It is however more desirable for example's sake, and for the preventing of offence or suspicion, as well as more noble and honourable in itself, and conducive to our more complete glorying in God, to render an unpaid service to the church in this as well as in all other instances, and, after the example of our Lord, to minister and serve gratuitously. Matt. xx. 28. "even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister." x. 8. " freely ye have received, freely_give." Acts xx. 35. "remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive." St. Paul proposed the same to the imitation of ministers in general, and recommended it by his example,' v. 34, 35. "ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me: I have showed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak." 2 Thess. iii. 7-9. "yourselves know how ye ought to follow us; for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an example unto you to follow us." 1 Cor. ix. 15, 18. "I have used none of these things; neither have I written these things that it should be so done unto me; for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void: what is my reward then? verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel." 2 Cor. xi. 9. "when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man.. in all things I have kept myself from being burthensome unto you, and so will I keep myself."

1. Which argues also the difficulty, or rather the impossibility to remove them quite, unless every minister were, as St. Paul, contented to preach gratis; but few such are to be found.' Likeliest Means to remove Hirelings, &c. Prose Works, III. 6.

« PreviousContinue »