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is frequently introduced to indicate a Jewish, officer. In Acts iv. 5 & 8, it occurs, and elsewhere in this sense. But it is in the 11th chapter and 30th verse that it is employed for the first time as the title of an officer over a Christian church. All that we here find is an incidental allusion to these officers, at Jerusalem; but what we are to understand by elders is not declared. We attempted to show in a former number, p. 95-6, that it was in Jewish synagogues thąt the Christian dispensation struggled into life and full development, and that the first allusion which we have to the appointment or constitution of Elders, was in those congregations which Paul and Barnabas had gathered through “the door of faith which God had opened to the Gentiles.” This we learn from Acts xiv. 23–8. Before this, however, the Christian elders of Jerusalem are spoken of, and in the next chapter the historian represents them as sitting, in connexion with the Apostles, upon an appeal made to them by the Gentile churches of Antioch and Syria and Cilicia. The conclusion in this case seems to have been concurred in by “the Apostles and Elders, with the whole church;” and the letter containing it, which was sent by chief men among the brethren “at Jerusalem, chosen out of their own company," to go with Paul and Barnabas, commenced with the salutation of "Apostles, Elders, and brethren." But this gives us little light as to the office.
The next allusion we have is in the 20th chapter. Here we see Paul sending from Miletus to Ephesus, and calling to the elders of the church; and after invoking them to witness his faithfulness in declaring unto them all the counsel of God, he proceeds to charge them in the most solemn and affecting manner as to their duties: “Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, (episkopoi,) or bishops, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departure shall grievous wolves enter among you, not sparing the flock. Also, among your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore, watch.” This is an important passage-the farewell charge of the most devoted minister that ever spoke; and from it we learn some of the most prominent duties of elders-viz. taking heed both to themselves and the flock; feeding the church of God and watching against wolves, or heretics and schis. matics. It also teaches us that, with Paul, Bishops and Elders were the same; but of this again.
Assuming for the present that Elder and Bishop are but two names for the same officer, we shall regard any allusion to either as applicable to both; and accordingly note the 1st chapter and 1st verse of Philippians as the next passage bearing upon our inquiry. Here Paul names the bishops and deacons as the persons to whom, toge. ther with all the saints, he addresses his letter; but we learn nothing more than that they were distinguished from “all the saints”- that is, held some official rank among them; but what the nature of this is not affirmed. Passing on to 1 Titus iii. 1-2, we are told that “if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work," and then the Apostle proceeds to give us the qualifications of this officer: “A bishop, then, must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, hospitable., apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, but gentle, not a brawler nor a lover of money; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity, (for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must have a good report of them who are without, lest he fall into the reproach and the snare of the devil.” Now while this passage is not intended to declare the duties of bishops or elders, from the words in the qualifications we have italicised, we may fairly infer that they were to extend hospitality wil. lingly to strangers, especially such strange brethren as might visit them and seek entertainment; that they were to watch over the flock entrusted to them, and to teach them the things which concerned both their religious duties and privileges; and that they were to rule over and take care of the church of God in the same spirit of affectionate solicitude and authority with which they governed their own families at home. These duties, we think, are clearly implied in the qualifications prescribed for the officer.
In the fifth chapter of this epistle, 17th verse, it is said, “Let the elders that rule well, be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor-in word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, the labotor is worthy of his reward. Against an elder receive not an ac. cusation, but by two or three witnesses.” Hence, we learn, that it is among the duties of elders to rule, and to labor in word and doctrine; and that they are to be remunerated for their services; for honor can mean nothing less in the connection; but as some would naturally rule better than others, and, from their greater aptness, be more engaged in preaching and teaching, these were to be more liberally compensated. The dignity of this officer, and, the respect to be paid to his character, are also taught us in the injunction, not to
receive an accusation against an elder, unless corroborated by the testimony of two or three witnesses. Disciples would do well to meditate on these passages, and learn to render more freely and fuliy both the honor (support] and reverence due to their elders. The complaints, so common among the churches, about the want of an efficient eldership would be silenced, we doubt not, sooner in this way than any other likely to be adopted, and the peace and influence of the body more speedily and effectually secured.
Next to this delineation of a bishop's character stands that, by the same Apostle, given in his letter to Titus: “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldst set in order the things left unfinished, and to ordain elders in every city as I commanded you. any one be without blame, the husband of one wife, having believing children, not accused of riotous living, nor unruly. For a bishop should be blameless as the steward of God; not self-willed, not prone to anger, not given to win not a striker, not one who makes gain by base methods, but hospitable; a lover of good men, prudent, just, holy, temperate; holding fast the true doctrine as he has been taught, that he may be able by wholesome teaching both to exhort and to confute the gainsayers.” Tim. i. 5—9. Here the duties of ruling as in a family, of hospitality, of holding fast the true doctrine; and of exhorting and confuting gainsayers by it, are clearly implied. We select these, out of the other suggestions in these passages, because our search now is not so much after all the qualities which fitted one for this office, as to find what were the public duties connected with it. We would not, by any means, diminish aught from the solemn responsibility under which an elder is placed, to cherish in his heart every virtue and grace prescribed by the Holy Spirit, as the qualifications essential to the successful exercise of his office.
In the epistle of James the elders are represented as performing a work which was confined to the first age of Christianity,—to the days of miracles. “Is any one sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer uf faith shall save the sick,” &c. Jas. v. 14. The prayer of faith is the prayer of one who has faith to heal diseases, (Acts iii. 16,) and the ceremony of anointing is the same we find alluded to in Mark vi. 13, where it is said: “And they (the twelve) cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.” We cannot, therefore, set this down as among the duties of elders now, as do the Mormons.
Peter, in his epistle to the elect sojourners in the dispersion, exhorts the seniors among them: “Feed the flock of God, which is
with you; exercising the overseer's (bishop's) office, not by constraint, but willingly; neither for the sake of sordid gain, but from good disposition; neither as lording it over the heritage of God, but being patterns to the flock.” i Pet. v, 1-2. In this there is, perhaps, nothing suggested which has not already been noted, save perhaps, a more definite statement of the motives with which this solemn and responsible office should be entered upon by those who are called to the discharge of its duties.
It occurs to us that we have overlooked a passage which ought to be noticed in this inquiry, and which suggests a duty not yet named. It is found in 1 Tim. iv. c. 14 v. and reads thus: “Neglect not the spiritual gift that is in you, which was given you through prophecy, with the imposition of the hands of the presbytery or eldership.” The imposition of the hands of the eldership seems to have been for the purpose of setting Timothy apart for the ministry, by the authority and with the consent of the church. Paul and Barnabas, by the command of the Holy Spirit, were thus set apart by the prophets at Antioch; and as in this case there could have been no other virtue in this ceremony than that of a solemn and formal investiture and assumption of office, so we apprehend in the case of Timothy, the imposition of the hands of the eldership could have been for no other purpose; especially when we remember that the spiritual gift which was in him, Paul expressly declares in 2 Ti. i. 6, was conferred upon him by the laying on of his own hands. The ceremony, then, of formally setting apart evangelists, by the imposition of hands, was, most clearly in this case, performed by the eldership, and we know of no reason why it should not be so now.
There are many allusions to elders in the Apocalypse; but these all have reference to a future state, We believe, then, we have gathered all that the New Testament declares to us concerning the duties of this officer. It would be useful to recapitulate what we have learned; but we must postpone this 'till another month, when we shall institute a similar examination to determine, as far as possible, the duty of deacons, as well as inquire, somewhat more fully, into the question, Whether the bishops and elders or presbyters, are the same officers, or two different ranks standing in the relation of superior and subordinate.—'Till then, to all our readers, favor and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
W. K. P.
ACTS OF APOSTLES,
SECTION XIII., -CHAPTER XVIII. XVIII.-AFTER these things, Paul departed from Athens, and 2 came to Corinth; and finding a certain Jew, named Aquila, a
native of Pontus, lately come from Italy, with Priscilla, his wife,
(because Claudius Cesar had commanded all the Jews to depart 1. “Corinth.”—From Athens, after a short stay, Paul proceeds to Corinth, east of Athens 46 miles. It was builded on the isthmus which connects Attica and Peloponnessus It had a port on the Ionian and one on the Ægean Sea, and therefore commanded the commerce of both. It was sometimes, on this account, by the Romans called Bimaris Corinthus the Corinth of two seas. Rome at one time feared it as a rival as much as Carthage, and had almost annihilated it by their General Mummius 146 years before Christ. Julius Cæsar rebuilded it. Its eastern port, Cenchrea, js. Hamed by Paul as the seat of a church, of whịch Phoebe was a deaconess. Its western port, Lecheum, is not named in the sacred writings.
On account of its learning and eloquence it was called by Cicero, Totius Græciæ Lumen, (the Light of all Greece;) and by Florus, Græcia Decus, (the Ornament of Greece.) It was, nevertheless, the most debauched and immoral city in Greece. Its great wealth introduced many schools of philosophy, rhetoric, and the arts. It excelled in all these, and its architectural eminence and taste have spread its fame through all the capitals of the civilized world. It was here that wealth, genius, science, taste, art, eloquence, and voluptuousness combined their attractions and their influence, and gave to the world a demonstration of their allied powers operating on human nature. Here arose the superb Temple of Venus, one of the nost popular in the world, with its thousand harlot priestesses, real virgins consecrated to the Queen of Love. Strabo, as quoted by Mackvight, represents these virgin merchants of Venus as one of Corinth's mighty magnets, attracting strangers and foreigners to Corinth to pay their vows and worship at the shrine of this most fashionable divinity. No wonder that Paul, in his letters to the church of this city, so significantly alludes to this institution, and so warmly exhorts the Corinthiairs to "flee fornication;" and speaking of this class as proscribed from heaven, says, “And such were some of you."
2. "Claudius Cæsar had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome.”This edict against the Jews is mentioned by Suetonius, a Roman historian, in his life of Claudius. The words of Suetonius are, “Judaos impulsore Chresto, assidue tumultuantes, Roma expulet''-"He expelled the Jews from Rome, as they were making continual insurrections under their leader Chrestus.” Whether, according to some, this was Christus our Redeemer, concerning whom the controversy between the believing and unbelieving Jews was, or some pretender, stirring up insurrections among the Jews, we shall not now either discuss or decide. The fact of the decree is all we have to notice; and it is important to observe that this is a valuable date in the chronology of the Acts of the Apostles, and, indeed, of New. Testament history.
Claudius was the fifth of the twelve Cæsars. Julius, born July 10, 100 years before Christ, was the first of that famous apostleship of ambition, inurder, and rapine. He died in his 56th year, after a few months reign over a conquered world. Augustus, the proudest of the name, succeeds him at the age of 31, and reigns more than 45 years. Tiberius, the cruel and the odions, succeeds Augustus, reigning some 22 years. Jesus was born in the 29th of Augustus, in the year of the world 4000, three years