« PrécédentContinuer »
8. A particular church, gathered and completely organized according to the mind of Christ
, consists of officers and members; and the officers appointed by Christ to be chosen and set apart by the church, (so called and gathered,) for the peculiar administration of ordinances, and execution of power or duty, which he intrusts them with, or calls them to, to be continued to the end of the world, are (P) bishops, or elders, and deacons.
(P) Acts xx. 17, 28.- And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. Phil. i. 1.-Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.
9. The way appointed by Christ for the calling of any person, fitted and gifted by the Holy Spirit, unto the office of bishop or elder in a church, is, that he be chosen thereunto by the common (Q) suffrage of the church itself; and solemnly set apart by fasting and prayer, with imposition of hands of the (r) eldership of the church, if there be any before constituted therein; and of a deacon (s) that he be chosen by the like suffrage, and set apart by prayer, and the like imposition of hands.
(Q Acts xiv. 23.--And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
(R) 1 Tim, iv, 14.-Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
(s) 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.
10. The work of pastors being constantly to attend the service of Christ, in his churches, in the ministry of the word and prayer, (r) with watching for their souls, as they that must give an account to Him; it is incumbent on the churches to whom they minister, not only to give them all due respect, (U) but also to communicate to them of all their good things, according to their ability, so as they may have a comfortable supply, without being themselves (x) entangled in secular affairs; and may also be capable of exercising (Y) hospitality towards others; and this is required by the law of nature, (z) and by the express order of our Lord Jesus, who hath ordained that they that preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel.
(T) Acts vi. 4.-But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. Heb. xiii. 17.–Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves : for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
(U) 1 Tim v. 17, 18.-Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou sbalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. Gal. vi. 6, 7.-Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived ; God is not mocked : for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.
(x) 2 Tim. Ii. 4.-No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
(Y) I Tim. iii. 2.-A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach.
(z) 1 Cor. ix. 6, 14.-Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working ? Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
11. Although it be incumbent on the bishops or pastors of the churches, to be instant in preaching the word, by way of office, yet the work of preaching the word is not so peculiarly confined to them, but that others also (A 1) gifted and fitted by the Holy Spirit for it, and approved and called by the church, may and ought to perform it.
(A 1) Acts xi. 19-21.- Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed and turned unto the Lord. 1 Pet. iv. 10, 11.-As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God ; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
12. As all believers are bound to join themselves to particular churches, when and where they have opportunity so to do; so all that are admitted unto the privileges of a church, are also (B 1) under the censures and government thereof, according to the rule of Christ.
(B1) 1 Thess. v. 14.-Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feeble-minded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. 2 Thess. iii. 6, 14, 15. - Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
13. No church members, upon any offence taken by them, having performed their duty required of them towards the person they are offended at, ought to disturb any church-order, or absent themselves from the assemblies of the church, or administration of any ordinances, upon the account of such offence at any of their fellow members, but to wait upon Christ, (c 1) in the further proceeding of the church.
(cl) Matt. xviii. 15–17. - Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Eph. iv. 2, 3.-With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.
14. As each church, and all the members of it, are bound to (D 1) pray continually for the good and prosperity of all the churches of Christ, in all places, and upon all occasions to further every one within the bounds of their places and callings, in the exercise of their gifts and graces, so the churches, when planted by the providence of God, so as they may enjoy opportunity and advantage for it, ought to hold (E 1) communion among themselves, for their peace, increase of love, and mutual edification.
(D 1) Eph. vi. 18.–Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints." Ps. cxxii. 6.--Pray for the peace of Jerusalem : they shall prosper that love thee.
(El) Rom. xvi. 1, 2.- I commend unto you Phæbe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatever business she hath need of you : for she bath been a succourer of many, and of myself also. 3 John, 8—10.-We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellow-helpers to the truth. I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words : and pot content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.
15. In cases of difficulties or differences, either in point of doctrine or administration, wherein either the churches in general are concerned, or any one church, in their peace, union, and edification; or any member or members of any church are injured, in or by any proceedings in censures not agreeable to truth and order : it is according to the mind of Christ, that many churches holding conamunion together, do, by their messengers, meet to consider, (F 1) and give their advice in or about that matter in difference, to be reported to all the churches concerned; howbeit these messengers assembled, are not intrusted with any church-power properly so called ; or with any jurisdiction over the churches themselves, to exercise any censures either over any churches for persons; or (G 1) to impose their determination on the churches or officers.
(F 1) Acts xv. 2, 4, 6, 22, 23, 25.—When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: And they wrote letiers by them after this manner; Tbe apostles ana ellers and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: It seemed good unto us, beinz assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas aud Paul.
(61) 2 Cor. i. 24.-Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand. | John, iv. !. - Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
OF THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS. 1. All Saints that are united to Jesus Christ, their head, by his spirit, and faith, although they are not made thereby one person with him, have (A) fellowship in his graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory; and, being united to one another in love, they have (B) communion in each others gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, in an orderly way, (c) as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.
(A) 1 John, i. 3.—That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. John, i. 16. - And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. Phil. iii. 10.--That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death. Rom. vi. 5,6.- For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection : Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
(B) Eph. iv. 15, 16.-But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. I Cor. xii. 7.- But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. Chap. iii. 21-23.-Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come ; all are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.
(c) 1 Thess. v. 11, 14.-Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feeble-minded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. Rom. i. 12.—That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. 1 John, iii. 17, 18.-But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him ? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. Gal. vi, 10.-As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith,
2. Saints by profession are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services (D) as tend to their mutual edification; as also in relieving each other in (E) outward things according to their several abilities, and necessities; which communion, according to the rule of the gospel, though especially to be exercised by them, in the relation wherein they stand, whether in (F) families, or (G) churches, yet, as God offereth opportunity, is to be extended to all the household of faith, even all those who in every place call upon the name of the Lord Jesus; nevertheless their communion one with another as saints, doth not take away or (H) infringe the title or propriety which each man hath in his goods and possessions.
(D) Heb. x. 24, 25.-And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works : Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more as ye see the day approaching. Chap. ill. 12, 13.–Take heed, breth en, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
(6) Acts xi. 29, 30.-Then the disciples, every man according to his ability determined to send relief uato the brethren which dwelt in Judea : Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
(P) Eph. vi. 4.-And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
(a) 1 Cor. xii. 14, 27.-For the body is not one member, but many. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
(A) Acts v. 4.-Whiles it remained, was it not thine own ? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. Eph. iv. 28.-Let him that stole steal no more : but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
OF BAPTISM AND THE LORD'S SUPPER. 1. Baptism and the Lord's supper are ordinances of positive and sovereign institution, appointed by the Lord Jesus, the only law. giver, to be continued in his church (A) to the end of the world.
(A) Matt. xxviii. 19, 20.-Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost : Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you : And. lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. 1 Cor. xi. 26.-For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
2. These holy appointments are to be administered by those only who are qualified and thereunto called, according (B) to the commission of Christ.
(B) Matt. xxviii. 19.-Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. I Cor. iv. 1.Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
OF BAPTISM. 1. Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be unto the party baptized, a sign of his fellowship with him, in his death (c) and resurrection ; of his being engrafted into him ; of (D) remission of sins; and of his (E) giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life.
(c) Rom. vi. 3--5.-Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For it we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. Col. ii. 12.-Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, wbo hath raised him from the dead. Gal. iii. 27.-For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
(D) Mark i. 4.-John did baptise in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Acts xxii. 16.-And now why tarriest thou ? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
(E) Rom. vi. 4.—Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death : that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, eveu so we also should walk in newness of life.
2. Those who do actually profess (F) repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects of this ordinance.
(F) Mark xvi. i6.-He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Acts vili. 36, 37.–And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth der me be baptized ? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Acts ii. 41.-Then they that gladly received his word were baptized. Acts viii. 12, 13.-And when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip. Acts xviii. S.-And many of the Corinthians hearing, believed, and were baptized.