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Testament, which gave no being to the church, the church being before it, and in the wilderness without it. Seals presuppose a covenant already in being. One person is a complete subject of baptism, but one person is incapable of being a church.
6. All believers ought, as God giveth them opportunity thereunto, to endeavor to join themselves unto a particular church, and that in respect of the honor of Jesus Christ, in his example and institution, by the professed acknowledgment of, and subjection unto the order and ordinances of the gospel ; as also in respect of their good of communion, founded upon their visible union, and contained in the promises of Christ's special presence in the church; whence they have fellowship with him, and in him one with another; also, for the keeping of them in the way of God's commandments, and recovering of them in case of wandering, which all Christ's sheep are subject to in this life, being unable to return of themselves; together with the benefit of their mutual edification, and of their posterity, that they may not be cut off from the privileges of the covenant. Otherwise, if a believer offends, he remains destitute of the remedy provided in that behalf. And should all believers neglect this duty of joining to all particular congregations, it might follow thereupon, that Christ should have no visible political churches
Acts, ii. 47, and ix. 26. Matt. iii. 13, 14, 15, and xxviii. 19, 20. Psalms, cxxxii, 2, 3, and lxxxvii. 7. Matt. xviii. 20. 1 John, i. 3. Ps. cxix. 176. 1 Peter, ii. 25. Eph. iv. 16. John, xxii. 24, 25. Mait. xviii. 15, 16, 17.
Of the first subject of church power ; or, to whom church power doth first
belong. 1. The first subject of church power, is either supreme, or subordinate and ministerial. The supreme, by
way of gift from the Father, is the Lord Jesus Christ : The ministerial is either extraordinary as the apostles, prophets and evangelists; or ordinary, as every particular congregational church.
Matt. xviii. 18. Rev. ii. 7. Isa. ix. 6. John, xx. 21, 23. 1 Cor. xiv. 32. Tit. i. 5. 1 Cor. v. 12.
2. Ordinary church power, is either the power of office, that is, such as is proper to the eldership; or power of privilege, such as belongs to the brotherhood. The latter is in the brethren formally, and immediately from Christ, that is, so as it may be acted or exercised immediately by themselves; the former is not in them formally or immediately, and therefore cannot be acted or exercised immediately by them, but is said to be in them, in that they design the persons unto office, who only are to act, or to exercise this power.
Rom. xii. 4, 8. Acts, i. 23, and vi. 3, 4, and xiv. 23. 1 Cor. x. 29, 30.
Of the officers of the church, and especially of pastors and teachers.
1. A CHURCH being a company of people combined together by covenant for the worship of God, it appeareth thereby, that there may be the essence and being of a church without any officers, seeing there is both the form and matter of a church ; which is implied when it is said, the apostles ordained elders in every church.
Acts xiv, 23.
2. Nevertheless, though officers be not absolutely necessary to the simple being of churches, when they be called, yet ordinarily to their calling they are, and to their well being, and therefore the Lord Jesus, out of his tender compassion, hath appointed and ordained officers, which he would not have done, if they had not been useful and needful for the church; yea, being ascended into heaven, he received gifts for men, and
gave gifts to men, whereof officers for the church are justly accounted no small parts, they being to continue to the end of the world, and for the perfecting of all the saints.
Rom. x. 17. Jer. iii. 15. 1 Cor. xii. 28. Eph. iv. 11. Psalms, lxviii. 18. Eph. iv. 8, 11, and iv. 12, 13.
3. These officers were either extraordinary or ordinary: extraordinary, as apostles, prophets, evangelists; ordinary, as elders and deacons. The apostles, prophets, and evangelists, as they were called extraordinarily by Christ, so their office ended with themselves; whence it is that Paul directing Timothy how to carry along church administrations, giveth no direction about the choice or course of apostles, prophets, or evangelists, but only of elders and deacons; and when Paul was to take his last leave of the church of Ephesus, he committed the care of feeding the church to no other but unto the elders of that church. The like charge doth Peter commit to the elders. 1 Cor. xii. 28. Eph. iv. 11. Acts, viii. 6, 16, 19, and xi. 28. Rom. xi.
1 Tim. iii. 1, 2; 8 to 13. Tit. i. 5. Acts, xx. 17, 28. 1 Peter, v. 1, 2, 3.
4. Of elders, who are also in scripture called bishops, some attend chiefly to the ministry of the word, as the pastors and teachers; others attend especially unto rule, who are therefore called ruling elders. *
1 Tim. ii. 3. Phil. i. 1. Acts, xx. 17, 28. 1 Tim. v. 17.
5. The office of pastor and teacher, appears to be distinct. The pastor's special work is, to attend to exhortation, and therein to administer a word of wisdom; the teacher is to attend to doctrine, and therein to administer a word of knowledge; and either of them to administer the seals of that covenant, unto the dispensation whereof they are alike called ; as also to execute the censures, being but a kind of application of the word: The preaching of which, together with the application thereof, they are alike charged withal.
Eph. iv. 11. Rom. xii. 7, 8. 1 Cor. xij. 8. 2 Tim. iv. 1, 2. Titus, i. 9
13. 1 Cor. iv. 9.
The first churehes of Massachusetts were ordinarily furnished with a pastor, a teacher, and ruling elders. The offices of pastor and teacher are now united, and that of ruling elder is for the most part dropped.--Editor.
6. And forasmuch as both pastors and teachers are given by Christ for the perfecting of the saints, and edifying of his body; which saints and body of Christ is his church : and therefore we account pastors and teachers to be both of them church officers, and not the pastor for the church, and the teacher only for the schools : though this we gladly acknowledge, that schools are both lawful, profitable, and necessary for the training up of such in good literature or learning, as may afterwards be called forth unto office of pastor or teacher in the church.
Eph. iv. 11, 12, and i. 22, 23. 1 Sam. x. 12, 19, 20. 2 Kings, ii. 3, 15.
Of ruling elders and deacons. 1. The ruling elder's office is distinct from the office of pastor and teacher. The ruling elders are not so called, to exclude the pastors and teachers from ruling, because ruling and governing is common to these with the other, whereas attending to teach and preach the word is peculiar unto the former.
Rom. xii. 7, 8, 9. 1 Tim. v. 17. 1 Cor. xii. 28. Heb. xiii. 17. 1 Tim.
2. The ruling elder's work is to join with the pastor and teacher in those acts of spiritual rule, which are distinct from the ministry of the word and sacraments committed to them. Of which sort these be as followeth : 1. To open and shut the doors of God's house, by the admission of members approved by the church; by ordination of officers chosen by the church, and by excommunication of notorious and obstinate offenders renounced by the church, and by restoring of penitents forgiven by the church. 2.
2. To call the church together when there is occasion, and seasonably to dismiss them again. 3. To prepare matters in
private, that in public they may be carried to an end with less trouble, and more speedy despatch. 4. To moderate the carriage of all matters in the church assembled; as, to propound matters to the church, to order the season of speech and silence, and to pronounce sentence according to the mind of Christ, with the consent of the church. 5. To be guides and leaders to the church, in all matters whatsoever pertaining to church administrations and actions. 6. To see that none in the church live inordinately, out of rank and place, without a calling, or idly in their calling. 7. To prevent and heal such offences in life or in doctrine, as might corrupt the church. 3. To feed the flock of God with a word of admonition. 9. And as they shall be sent for, to visit and pray over their sick brethren. 10. And at other times as opportunity shall serve thereunto.
1 Tim. v. 17. 2 Chron. xxiii. 19. Rev. xxi. 12. 1 Tim. iv. 14. Matt. xxviii. 17. 2 Cor. ii. 7,8. Acts, ii. 6, and xxi.
18, 22, 23, and vi. 2, 3, and xiii. 15. 2 Cor. viii. 19. Heb. xiii. 7, 17. 2 Thess. ii. 10–12. Acts, xx. 28, 32. 1 Thess. v. 12. James, v. 14. Acts, xx. 20.
3. The office of a deacon is instituted in the church by the Lord Jesus; sometimes they are called helps. The scripture telleth us how they should be qualified, “ Grave, not double tongued, not given to much wine, not given to filthy lucre.” They must first be proved, and then use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. The office and work of a deacon, is to receive the offerings of the church, gifts given to the church, and to keep the treasury of the church, and therewith to serve the tables which the church is to provide for; as the Lord's table, the table of the ministers, and of such as are in necessity, to whom they are to distribute in simplicity.
Acts vi. 3,6. Phil. i. 1. 1 Tim. ii. 8. 1 Cor. xii. 28. 1 Tim. iii. 8, 9. Acts, iv. 35, and vi. 2, 3. Rom. xii. 8.
4. The office therefore being limited unto the care the temporal good things of the church, it extends not to the attendance upon, and administration of the