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OF THE OFFICERS OF THE CHURCH.
I. OUR blessed Lord at first collected his church out of different nations, and formed it into one body," by the mission of men endued with miraculous gifts, which have long since ceased.i
II. The ordinary and perpetual officers in the church are Bishops, or Pastors; the
shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle; for, See (saith he) that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount. Gal. vi. 16. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
Psa. ii. 8. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Rev. vii. 9. After this, I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.
h 1 Cor. x. 17. For we, being many, are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. See also Eph. iv. 16. Col. ii. 19.
i Matt. x. 1, 8. And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease, &c.
J 1 Tim. iii. 1. If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. Eph. iv. 11, 12. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.
representatives of the people, usually styled Ruling Elders; and Deacons.1
OF BISHOPS OR PASTORS.
THE pastoral office is the first in the church, both for dignity and usefulness." The person who fills this office, hath, in Scripture, obtained different names expressive of his various duties. As he has the oversight of the flock of Christ, he is termed bishop.*" As he feeds them with spiritual food, he is termed pastor." As he serves Christ in his church, he is termed minister. As it is his duty to be grave and
Let the elders that rule well, be
k 1 Tim. v. 17. counted worthy of double honour.
1 Phil. i. 1. To all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.
m Rom. xi. 13.
Acts xx. 28. Take heed therefore, unto yourselves, and to all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, [bishops] to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
• Jer. iii. 15. And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. 1 Pet. v. 2, 3, 4.
p 1 Cor. iv. 1. Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of
* As the office and character of the gospel minister is particularly and fully described in the Holy Scriptures, under the title of bishop; and as this term is peculiarly expressive of his duty as an overseer of the flock, it ought not to be rejected.
prudent, and an example of the flock, and to govern well in the house and kingdom of Christ, he is termed presbyter or elder. a As he is the messenger of God, he is termed the angel of the church. As he is sent to declare the will of God to sinners, and to beseech them to be reconciled to God through Christ, he is termed ambassador. And, as he dispenses the manifold grace of God, and the ordinances instituted by Christ, he is termed steward of the mysteries of God.
OF RULING ELDERS.
RULING elders are properly the representa
2 Cor. iii. 6. Who also hath made us able ministefs of the New Testament.
1 Pet. v. 1. The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed. See also Tit. i. 5. 1 Tim. v. 1, 17, 19.
r. Rev. ii. 1. Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write. Rev. i. 20.-The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches. See also Rev. iii. 1, 7. Mal. ii. 7.
s 2 Cor. v. 20. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you, in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. Eph. vi. 20.
Luke xii. 42. Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household to give them their portion of meat in due season? 1 Cor. iv. 1, 2.-Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.
tives of the people, chosen by them for the purpose of exercising government and discipline, in conjunction with pastors or ministers." This office has been understood, by a great part of the Protestant Reformed Churches, to be designated in the holy Scriptures, by the title of governments; and of those who rule well, but do not labour in the word and doctrine. ▾
THE Scriptures clearly point out deacons as distinct officers in the church, whose business it is to take care of the poor, and to distribute among them the collections which may be raised for their use. To them also may be properly committed the ma
u 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. Rom. xii. 7, 8. Acts XV. 25.
1 Cor. xii. 28. And God hath set some in the church, first, apostles; secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers; after that miracles; then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. See letter (u) above.
w Phil. i. 1. 1 Tim. iii. 8 to 15.
Acts vi. 1, 2. And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murm rmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 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.
nagement of the temporal affairs of the
OF ORDINANCES IN A PARTICULAR CHURCH.
THE ordinances established by Christ, the head, in a particular church, which is regularly constituted with its proper officers, are prayer, singing praises, reading, expounding and preaching the word of God;
y Acts vi. 3, 5, 6. 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. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte of Antioch whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
z 1 Cor. xiv. 26, 33, 40. Let all things be done unto edifying. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.-Let all things be done decently, and in order.
a Acts vi. 4. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 1 Tim. ii. 1.
b Col. iii. 16. Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Psa. ix. 11. Eph. v. 19. Also Col. iv. 16.
c Acts xv. 21. Luke iv. 16, 17.
d Titus i. 9. Holding fast the faithfur word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and convince the gainsayers. Acts x. 42. -He commanded us to preach unto the people. See also Acts xxviii. 23. Luke xxiv. 47. 2 Tim. iv. 2. Acts *-. 20.