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men!Do the very enemies of Christ compass fea and land to ensnare precious, but filly fouls? and shall

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COURTS of REVIEW in the Christian

Church confidered *.

ACTS XV. 31.

-They rejoiced for the consolation.


S a proper introduction to the business of this

Provincial Synod, my reverend and dear hearers will, at once, fce the propriety of the subject we have pitched upon; to whatever exceptions the pro!ecution of it honld he found liable.

The words transmit a short, but comprehensive, account of the dutiful reception with which a judg. mnt of the radical Synod at Jerusalem mer, from the Christians in Antioch ; " They rejoiced for the & confolation,”

The context will fall under view afterwards, and therefore, without introduction, we shall, through


* This fermon was preached at the opening of the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr, at Irvine, Oct. Iztb, 1707

divine assistance, illustrate the following observations, evidently contained in the history itself.

I. That at Antioch, from whence this cause came, there was a church.

II. That in the church at Antioch, there arose a question, about which the prophets and teachers could not agree.

III. That the officē bearers at Antioch, as dinguished from the brethren, in that church, had a right to have given judgment in the important caule.

IV. That though these Presbyters were a coure of Christ, properly constituted, they considered their decisions as lubject to a court of review; and, for that reason, unanimously agreed to refer the whole cause, as it stood, to the venerable Synod of Judea.

V. That after the commissioners from Antioch had reached the metropolis of Judea,-produced their credentials, and opened up their caufe.-the Synod of Jerusalem-first reasoned upon it; and, then, came to an unanimous entence.

VI. That two of the commissioners from Antioch joined by two from Judca, were immediately difpatched with letters to the Geotile converts, con taining an account of the Sinodical judgment. And,

VII. That, upon receiving and reading the epistle, the Gentile converts, as in our text, “ joiced for the confolation.”

Io the illustration of these particulars, we shall endeavour, as a humble apology for the Presbyterian form of church government, to exhibit

The New Testament original, after which ei

very court of review, in the Christian church, on the one hand; and every private church“ member, on the other; Mould attentively copy"



That at Antioch, from whence this cause came,

*there was a church; for when Paul and Barnabas came thither,--they gathered the church together," Acts xiv. 27.

În the New Testament, indeed, there are very different acceptations of that term.

Sometimes, it signifies no more than a concourse of people, assembled in a lawless, and employed in a fioful manner. Such was the mob raised by Demetrius the silver-smith, against Paul ;--- whereof it is faid, that "the assembly,” or, as it is in the first language," the church was confused,” Acts xix. 32.

Sometimes, it fignifies a meeting for the difcuffion of civil affairs, according to the particular usages of different countries. Such a meeting the town-clerk at Ephesus had in view, when, to the mob now mentioned, he said, “ It shall be • determined in a lawful assembly,” or “church," Afts xix. 39.

There is one instance, where it points at churchofficers alone, Matth. xxviii. 17. in their ruling ca. pacity ;-and of the church, in that view, it is faid, “ Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be « bound in heaven ; and whatsoever shall loose e on earth, shall be loofed in heaven," Matth xxvij.



Now, it fignifies a company of perfons professing the faith, and walking together in love of the gospel. Such were certain societies in Lystra, Derbe, Iconium, and other places ;- for referring to them the historian tells us, that Paul and Bar. pabas “ordained elders in every church,” Acts xiv, 23. L



And, then, it signifies such a company of believe

officers set over them in the Lord, for all the purposes of Doctrine and Worship, Difcipline and Government, appointed by Jesus Chrift

Thus the historian understood this term, saying, " There was a great perfecution agaiof the church "' which was at Jerusalem," Acts viii. 1.

It is in the last, doubtless, of these views we are to understand it, as applied to the Christians at Antioch; for, as we are assured, that there was a church in that city, made up of difciples only in their private capacity, with whom Barnabas and Saul “afsembled

a whole year ;" Acts xi. 26. fo, that those disci. ples were afterwards favoured with “prophets Hi and teachers” of their own, to bear office among " them," Afts xii, 1.

When, we said, in the last of these views, we one ly mean, in as far as it respected the relation which fab Gifted betweco the disciples at Antioch and their immediate office-bearers. For, their connection with the church at Jerusalem might be argued, not only from the instruments of their conversion to the Christian faith,--fuch, namely, as “ were scatter: " ed abroad upon the perfecution that arose about ” Stephen ;" dets xi. 19. but, from the oversight which the office-bearers at Jerusalem took of them at that early period. They fent forth Barnabas " that he should go as far as Antioch ; who, when ♡ he came and had seen the grace of God, was glad,

and exhorted them all, that, with purpose of “ heart they would cleave unto the Lord," verf. 22, 23.

And the subordination both of the disciples and office bearers at Antioch, in their church-capacity, to the collective church at Jerusalem, will appear from the following observations : and therefore our


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