Images de page
PDF
ePub

6 Were there not different grades or orders of officers of the church under the old dispensation; and is not the church under the new dispensation to be modelled after it?

A Besides such extraordinary officers as Moses, and the patriarchs, the officers of the temple service were the High Priest, who was typical of the Lord Jesus Christ—the priests and levites; but as that service was altogether typical and distinct from the spiritual worship conducted in the synagogue, and as its offices were fulfilled in Christ, it would be absurd that it should still continue to be the model of a spiritual church in the enjoyment of the blessings of which it was figurative.

Q7 Is there not good reason to believe that the primitive church had an order of ministers superior presbyters?

A Beside the apostles who were extraordinary officers, there was among all the ministers an exact equality in point of official power. 1 Because the names given to them, such as Elder, Bishop, &c. are applied indiscriminately to all of them and there were a number of bishops in a single city. 2 Because each presbyter was to take the rule and oversight in his respective charge, Acts xx. 28, independently of any higher ordinary officer, 1 Tim. v. 17–because presbyters assisted in the ordination of the highest officers of the church, 1 l'im. iv. 14, and were allowed to vote in the decisions of the most important questions, Acts xv. 23 to 29; and neither the apostles, Timothy or Titus continued to remain and exercise episcopal authority in any particular section of the church, and Jerome, with other of the fathers, expressly informs us that this superior order of officers did not exist in the primitive church; and there are passages in the New Testament that militate against it.

Q 8 And is there no reason to believe that all ecclesiastical power.was lodged in the members of the church at large, or thathe brotherhood, and the keys of the church committed to them, and that every church was independent of all others?

"?

A There is not. The New Testament speaks of persons who possessed the powers of ruling, 1, Cor. xii. 28, 2 Cor. x. 8; and of the church and its members in general as the ruled, Eph. iv. 11, 1 Thes. v. 12, 13; and it founds this distinction not on the voluntary and temporary election of the people, but on tlie nature of the office itself. Unless each of the members possessed the power of administering the ordinances, they could not confer it by their act upon the ministers; if all possessed it, then there would be rulers but no ruled--a head, but no members. The names given to ministers also express power received, not from the people, but from Christ, Mat. xviii. 19, and the order and prosperity of the church requires that the commission to rule and teach which was given to the officers, and not the people, should still repose in them. The Jewish synagogue also had official “ rulers," and Paul speaks of the elders, not the church, as its overseers or bishops.

Q9 Is the Jewish synagogue then to be considered rather as the model of the christian church?

A It is. That was the worship which our Saviour particularly observed, and there is good reason to be lieve that these synagogues, without any essential change of their internal order, become christian churches under the ministry of the apostles--this order was one to which Jewish converts were attached, and with which they were familiar.

Q 10 What was the government established in them?

A They had a "Pastor or Bishop-orderers or Ruling Elders--and Deacons"--and the permanent Jewish Ecclesiastical courts were i the great Sanhedrim or general assembly of Israel, composed of the 70 elders. 2 The inferior Sanhedrim, composed of 23 Presbyters or ministers, and sat in the principal cities and $ the session of the synogogue, corresponding to the presbyterian form.

Q 11 What were the extraordinary officers of the rimitive church?

A “The change of the external dispensation required a series of miracles to attest its divine origin: Christ upon his exaltation did, therefore, appoint persons endowed with supernatural gifts, and extraordinary authori!y-such as apostles, evangelists, prophets, and interpreters of tongues, to settle the constitution of the church agreeably to his will, and commit the administration of it unto the hands of the ordinary and permanent officers,” Acts xiv. 21–23.

Q 12 By what other considerations is it made apparent that the presbyterian form of government is sanctioned by the New Testament and by primitive example?

A In 1 Thes. v. 12, Heb. xiii. 7, 17, the offices of bishop and presbyter are clearly identified; and as Titus was directed in Crete to ordain elders in every city, and as these cities, we know, were some of them but small villages, some of them, at least, could not have been teaching but ruling elders. The Fathers, particularly Hilary, testify, that both in the synagogue and after in the church there were ruling as well as teaching Elders. Cyprian also speaks of elders who sat in presbytery, but did not preach; and some of the anti-presbyterians have borne the same testimony concerning the Jewish synagogue and the primitive church.*

Q 13 Is it the duty of the congregations of the church to contribute sufficient for the temporal support of their pastors?

A Yes, 1 Because the mințstry is an ordinance of God. 2 He expressly required it under the former dispensation, Num. xxxv. 1, Deut. xviii. 1, 6, Josh. xxi. 2, 3. 3 It is under the gospel a divine appointment, Luke s. 7, 1 Thes. iii. 9. 4 It is frequntly urged in the Bible, Mat. x. 10, 1 Cor. ix. 7, 1 Tim. v. 18—and 5 Is required by the church, (Min, of Ass. 1799.)

* See Letters on the constitution and order of the christian ministry, by the Rev. Dr. Samuel Miller, Prof. Eccles. Hist. and ch.gov.in the Theol. sem. of the presbyterian church--the dis. tinguisbed advocate of presbyterianism.

SECTION III.

CHURCH OFFICERS.

Q 1 What are the ordinary and perpetual officers in the church?

A “ Bishops or Pastors, 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2, Eph iv. 11, 12; the representatives of the people, usually stiled Ruling Elders, 1 Tim. v. 17, and Deacons, Phil. i. 1."

Q 2 Ought all persons to be admitted to the pastoral office to be received on trial?

A “The holy scriptures require that some trial be previously had of those who are to be ordained to the ministry of the gospel, that this sacred office may not be degraded, by being committed to weak or unworthy men, 1 Tim. i. 6, 2 Tim. ii. 2; and that the churches may have an opportunity to form a better judgment respecting the talents of those by whom they are to be instructed and governed. I'or this purpose presbyteries shall license probationers 'to preach the gospel; that, after a competent trial of their talents, and receiving from the churches a good report, they may, in due time, ordain them to the pastoral office, 1 Tim. íú. 7, 3 John 12.

Q $ How are candidates to be examined previous to their admission?

A “ It is the duty of the presbytery, for their satisfaction with regard to the real piety of such candidates, to examine them respecting their experimental acquaintance with religion, and the motives which influence them to desire the sacred office. Rom. ii. 21. And it is recommended that the candidates be also required to produce a diploma, of bachelor or master of arts, from some college or university; or at least authentic testimonials of their having gone through a regular course of learning.”

4. How long and in what männer is this trial to be made?

[ocr errors]

A “Because it is highly reproachful to religion, and dangerous to the church, to intrust the holy ministry to weak and ignorant men, 1 Tim. iii. 6, 7; the presbytery shall try each candidate, as to his knowledge of the Latin language, and of the original languages in which the holy scriptures were written. They shall examine him on the arts and sciences; on theology, natural and revealed—and on ecclesiastical history."

" And no candidate, except in extraordinary cases, shall be licensed, unless, after his having completed the usual course of academical studies, he shall have studied divinity at least two years, under some approved divine or professor of theology."

Q 5 After the candidate has been approved of has adopted the Confession of Faith, promised to study the peace

of the church, and to submit to its government, what is the form of licensure?

A After prayer the moderator addresseth him" In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by that authority which he hath given to his church for its edification, we do license you to preach the gospel, wherever God in his providence may call you: and for this purpose, may the blessing of God rest upon you and the Spirit of Christ fill your heart. Amen."

Q6 How, when a probationer is to be ordained, and after he has sustained an examination in philosophy, theology, ecclesiastical history, the Greek and Hebrew languages, and other branches of learning, and the time of his ordination is fixed, is he to be invested with the sacred office?

A He is required, on the questions being proposed to him to profess his belief in the scriptures as the word of God, and the infallible rule; 2 Tim. üi 16 Eph. ii. 20, of faith and practice; to receive the confession of faith as the system of doctrine taught in the sacred scriptures; to approve of the form of church government, and promise subjection to his brethren; to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the gospel, and the peace and purity of the church amidst any and all opposition and persecution, and to say whether “he has been in

R

« PrécédentContinuer »