Page images

nances, and discharge of moral duties, without respect of persons".

Thirdly, The pastor and people must so nearly cohabit to gether, as that they may mutually perform their duties each to other with most conveniency.

In this company some must be set apart to bear office.

Of the Officers of a particular Congregation.

OR officers in a single congregation, there ought to be one at the least, both to labour in the word and doctrine, and to rule i.

It is also requisite that there should be others to join in government *.

And likewise it is requisite that there be others to take special care for the relief of the poor.

The number of each of which is to be proportioned according to the condition of the congregation.

These officers are to meet together at convenient and set times, for the well ordering of the affairs of that congregation, each according to his office.

It is most expedient that, in these meetings, one, whose office is to labour in the word and doctrine, do moderate in their proceedings ".

shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Matt. v. 17. Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

h 1 Cor. xiv. 26.-Let all things be done to edifying. Heb. x. 24. And let us consider one another, to provoke unto love, and to good works: Ver. 25. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. James ii. 1. My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. Ver. 2. For if there come into your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment.

i Prov. xxix. 18. Where there is no vision, the people perish but he that Beepeth the law, happy is he. 1 Tim.


v. 17. Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. Heb. xiii. 7. Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

k1 Cor. xii. 28. And God hath set some in the church; first, apostles; secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers; after that miracles; then gifts of heal ing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

Acts vi. 2. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Ver. 3. 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.

m 1 Tim. v. 17. Let the elders that


Of the Ordinances in a particular Congregation.

HE ordinances in a single congregation are, prayer, thanksgiving, and singing of psalms ", the word read, (although there follow no immediate explication of what is read,) the word expounded and applied, catechising, the sacraments administered, collection made for the poor, dismissing the people with a blessing.

Of Church-Government, and the several sorts of Assemblies for


the same.

HRIST hath instituted a government, and governors ecclesiastical in the church: to that purpose, the apostles did immediately receive the keys from the hand of Jesus Christ, and did use and exercise them in all the churches of the world upon all occasions.

And Christ hath since continually furnished some in his church with gifts of government, and with commission to execute the same, when called thereunto.

It is lawful, and agreeable to the word of God, that the church be governed by several sorts of assemblies, which are congregational, classical, and synodical.

[ocr errors]

Of the Power in common of all these Assemblies.

It is and agreeae mentioned have power to con

T is lawful, and agreeable to the word of God, that the

vent, and call before them, any person within their several bounds, whom the ecclesiastical business which is before them doth concern.

rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.

n 1 Tim. ii. 1. I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, untercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men. 1 Cor. xiv. 15. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Ver. 16. Else, when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the

unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?

o Mat. xviii. 15. Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. Ver. 16. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. Ver. 17. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church. but if he neg

They have power to hear and determine such causes and differences as do orderly come before them.

It is lawful, and agreeable to the word of God, that all the said assemblies have some power to dispense church-censures.

Of Congregational Assemblies, that is, the Meeting ofthe ruling Officers of a particular Congrègation, for the Government thereof.


HE ruling officers of a particular congregation have power, authoritatively, to call before them any member of the congregation, as they shall see just occasion.

To enquire into the knowledge and spiritual estate of the several members of the congregation.

To admonish and rebuke.

Which three branches are proved by Heb. xiii. 17. A Thess. v. 12, 13. Ezek. xxxiv. 4P.

Authoritative suspension from the Lord's table, of a person not yet cast out of the church, is agreeable to the scrip


First, Because the ordinance itself must not be profaned. Secondly, Because we are charged to withdraw from those that walk disorderly.

Thirdly, Because of the great sin and danger, both to him that comes unworthily, and also to the whole church 9. And

lect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man, and a publican. Ver. 18. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsocver ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven. Ver 19. Again, I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth, as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. Ver. 20. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. pHeb. xiii. 17. Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit your selves for they watch for your souls as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. I Thess. v. 12. And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour

among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; Ver. 13, And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake.. And be at peace among yourscives. Ezek. xxxiv. 4. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.

q Matt. vii. 6. Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. 2 Thess. iii. 6. Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and

there was power and authority, under the Old Testament, to keep unclean persons from holy things ".

The like power and authority, by way of analogy, continues under the New Testament.

The ruling officers of a particular congregation have power authoritatively to suspend from the Lord's table a person not yet cast out of the church :

First, Because those who have authority to judge of, and admit, such as are fit to receive the sacrament, have authority to keep back such as shall be found unworthy.

[ocr errors]

Secondly, Because it is an ecclesiastical business of ordinary practice belonging to that congregation.

When congregations are divided and fixed, they need all mutual help one from another, both in regard of their intrinsical weaknesses and mutual dependence, as also in regård of enemies from without.


Of Classical Assemblies.

HE scripture doth hold out a presbytery in a church'. A presbytery consisteth of ministers of the word, and such other publick officers as are agreeable to and warranted

ed of us. Ver. 14. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Ver. 15. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. 1 Cor. xi. 27. Wherefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. See on to the end of the Chapter. Compared with Jude, Ver. 23. And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. 1 Tim. v. 22. Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure.

Lev. xiii. 5. And the priest shall look on him the seventh day: and, behold, if the plague in his sight be at a stay, and the plague spread not in the skin; then the priest shall shut him up seven days more. Numb. ix. 7. And those men said unto him, We are defiled by the dead body of a man: where

fore are we kept back, that we may not offer an offering of the Lord in his appointed season among the children of Israel? 2 Chron. xxiii. 19. And he set the porters at the gates of the house of the Lord, that none that was unclean in any thing should enter in.

81 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. Acts xv. 2. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this ques tion. Ver. 4. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders; and they declared all things that God had done with them. Ver. 6. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.


by the word of God to be church-governors, to join with the ministers in the government of the church *.

The scripture doth hold forth, that many particular congregations may be under one presbyterial government. This proposition is proved by instances:

I. First, Of the church of Jerusalem, which consisted of more congregations than one, and all these congregations were under one presbyterial government.

This appeareth thus:

First, The church of Jerusalem consisted of more congregations than one, as is manifest:

1st, By the multitude of believers mentioned in divers; both before the dispersion of the believers there, by means of the persecution "; and also after the dispersion ".

2dly, By the many apostles and other preachers in the church of Jerusalem. And if there were but one congrega

t Rom. xii. 7. Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering; or he that teacheth, on teaching; Ver. 8. Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 1 Cor. xii. 28. And God hath set some in the church; first, apostles; secondari. ly, prophets; thirdly, teachers; after that miracles; then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

Acts viii. 1. And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Acts i. 15. And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of the names together were about an hundred and twenty.) Acts ii. 41. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Ver. 46. And they continuing daly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to ho se, did eat their meat with glad ness and singleness of heart, Ver. 47.

Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. Acts iv. 4. Howbeit, many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand. Acts v. 14. And believ, ers were the more added unto the Lord, multitudes both of men and women. Acts vi. 1. And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Gre cians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Ver. 7. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

w Acts ix. 31. Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria, and were edifi ed; and, walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied. Acts xii. 24, But the word of God grew and multiphed. Acts xxi. 20. And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe, and they are all zealous of the law.

« PreviousContinue »