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evangelist, acting under this commission, having made the Ethiopian eunuch a disciple, baptized him. No clear example is found of the administration of ordinances by any person not a minister of the gospel. Indeed, the ordinary discharge of this duty by the pastors may be inferred not only from its inclusion in the ministerial commission and from the example of Scripture, but also from the nature of the case. For it was a constant and public duty, which must have been committed to some persons, and the officers of the church were the natural administrators. In the absence of precept, therefore, committing it to others, we should infer that it devolved on them. But as there is no express command, nor absolutely decisive example, restricting the administration of ordinances to the ministry, we may conceive that under exceptional circumstances, when an ordained minister cannot be obtained, this service might, under the direction of the church, be performed by others.

(c.) The government and spiritual oversight of the church. These functions are indicated in the designations of the office. Elder, derived from Jewish usage, denotes a spiritual ruler. Bishop, from the Greek, designates one who has the oversight of others. Pastor, or shepherd, signifies one who guides, feeds, and protects the flock. Nearly all allusions to pastors refer to them as leaders, guides, overseers of the church, presiding over it and administering its government. Thus, they preside in the assemblies of the church: Paul exhorts the Thessalonians, “We beseech you to know them that labor among you and are over” (preside over) “you in the Lord and admonish you." They inspire and lead the action of the church, and administer its rebukes and discipline : the Hebrew Christians are exhorted, "Obey them that have the rule over you and submit yourselves : for they watch for your souls as they that must give account” (Heb. xiii. 17). They instruct the church by word and example, in doctrine and duty; as Peter, in his striking charge to the elders says, "Feed"-act as shepherds over—"the flock of God, which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Pet. v. 1-4). Thus divinely appointed as the guides and overseers of the church, they are invested with authority as the executive officers, through whom the power of the body is exercised; and, while they teach and rule according to God's word, the members are required to submit to them, as the flock follow the voice of their shepherds.

The powers and duties of pastors, therefore, briefly stated, are as follows: 1. To direct and supervise the public religious instruction of the congregation in the pulpit and in all other departments of church work: they are the spiritual guides of the church, and may not permit the inculcation of false doctrine. 2. To administer the ordinances within the church. 3. .To preside in all meetings of the church, whether for devotion or busi

4. To watch over the personal experience and life of the members, exhorting, admonishing, reproving, rebuking, as those entrusted with the care of souls and expecting to give account. These powers and duties belong to the pastoral office, and within this sphere pastors act with rightful authority, as exercising functions devolved on them by God, But this authority is not absolute and final; for, as they receive their office through the church, so, if these powers are abused, the church may take the office from them.


3. Pastors do not constitute a priesthood with mediating, sacrificial, and absolving powers.

Sacerdotalism, the offspring of clerical ambition, developed itself early in the third century and ultimately triumphed in the patristic church. The three orders of the clergy, then beginning to appear, assumed to be a priesthood, and the church was modelled after Judaism. The bishop became summus sacerdos, high priest; the presbyter was sacerdos, priest; and the deacon was Levita, a Levite. A hierarchy arose with the power of mediating between God and man, of offering sacrifice to God, and of pronouncing absolution from sin. The significant and beautiful ordinances of the gospel were transmuted into sacraments, possessing, when ministered by priestly hands, a magical efficacy to remove sins and impart eternal life. The priesthood, in which were strangely-blended characteristics from both heathenism and Judaism, arrogated to itself the exclusive power of opening and closing the door of heaven. And sacerdotalism, alike in the Papal and the Episcopal Church, has in all ages since asserted these as the true characteristics and functions of the Christian ministry.

Two facts, however, suffice to destroy this assumption: 1. Ministers, in the New Testament, are never designated as priests. All believers are, indeed, "made kings and priests unto God," and constitute a “royal priesthood," since, through the blood of Christ, they all have access through the veil into the immediate presence of God to offer spiritual sacrifices to him. But the ministry are never called priests, nor in any way indicated as a priestly caste distinct from and above the people. On the contrary, all the titles given them utterly preclude the idea of a priesthood or of priestly functions; for these titles pertain to the synagogue, not to the temple. 2. Since the

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Patriarchal age only two orders of priesthood have existed—that of Melchizedek and that of Aaron. The latter, without question, has been done away. The former still exists. But of this Christ is the one and final Priest, and his priestly work is performed, not on earth, but in the holiest of all, even heaven itself, where," appearing in the presence of God,” “he ever liveth to make intercession for us.” The sacrifice he offered of himself was for all” complete and final, never to be repeated (Heb. ix. and x.). And it is the completeness of this one, final sacrifice, as at once and for ever putting away sin, which constitutes the message of the Christian ministry. There is, therefore, and in the nature of things there can be, no mediating, sacrificing, and absolving priesthood in the church. Christ is the one ETERNAL PRIEST: the ministry simply point the people to him. The assumption of priestly functions by man, therefore, is an invasion of the prerogatives of Jesus Christ.

4. The number of pastors in each church is not fixed by Scripture, but it is probable, alike from apostolic example and from history, that in the Apostolic age there were ordinarily several who together constituted the presbytery of the church.

(a.) The testimony of Scripture. We read of “the elders of the church” at Jerusalem, at Ephesus, and at Philippi. Paul and Barnabas “ordained elders in every church." Titus was left in Crete that he might ordain elders in every city.” In the catholic Epistles, James enjoins, in the case of the sick, that they call for the elders of the church," and Peter exhorts “the elders which are among you;” in both which, as these apostles were addressing a large body of churches, the inference seems a necessary one that, as a common fact, a plurality of elders existed in each church. No clear example is found of a church organized under a single pastor. Our Lord, in addressing the “seven

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churches of Asia," directs each epistle to "the angel of the church ;" and it has been hence inferred that each of these churches was organized under a single pastor, called “the angel of the church.” But this expression is confessedly obscure; there is no certainty that it designates a pastor at all, and standing alone it is wholly inadequate to offset the otherwise uniform example of Scripture. And even were it certain that “the angel of the church” designated the pastor, it would by no means follow that there was no church presbytery; for, in that case, the only legitimate inference would be that in the latter part of the Apostolic age, when the book of Revelation was written, the presiding officer of the church presbytery had already assumed, as he naturally would, a certain degree of prominence, which made him the proper medium through which to address the church.

(6.) The testimony of history. This is equally explicit in regard to a plurality in the eldership. Neander, speak

a ing of the apostolic churches, says: “The guidance of the communities was everywhere entrusted to a Council of elders.”* The earlier Fathers uniformly speak of them in the plural. Clement of Rome (A. D. 96) speaks of the firstfruits of the apostles' labors as having been "appointed to be bishops and deacons.” Polycarp (A. D. 140) exhorts the Philippian church to "subject themselves to their presbyters and deacons." Tertullian, speaking of the public worship of the church, says: "Certain approved elders preside.” In no instance do the Fathers of the second century speak of a single bishop in a church, except when referring to the president of the church presbytery, who among his fellow-presbyters was only first among equals. The bishop of the second century was simply the presiding officer among the presbyters of a

* History of the Christian Religion and Church, Am. ed., vol. i., p. 184.

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