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places, and upon all occasions, to fur- XXVIII. Persons that are joyned ther it; (every one within the bounds in Church-fellowship, ought not lightly of their Places and Callings, in the or without just cause to withdraw exercise of their Gifts and Graces): themselves from the communion of the So the Churches themselves (when Church whereunto they are so joyned : planted by the providence of God, so Nevertheless, where any person canas they may have opportunity and not continue in any Church without advantage for it) ought to hold com- his sin, either for want of the Adminmunion amongst themselves for their istration of any Ordinances instituted peace, increase of love, and mutual by Christ, or by his being deprived of edification.
his due Priviledges, or compelled to XXVI. In Cases of Difficulties or any thing in practice not warranted by Differences, either in point of Doctrine the Word, or in case of Persecution, or in Administrations, wherein either or upon the account of conveniency of the Churches in general are concerned, habitation ; he, consulting with the or any one Church in their Peace, Church, or the Officer or Officers Union, and Edification, or any Member thereof, may peaceably depart from or Members of any Church are injured the communion of the Church, wherein, or by, any proceeding in Censures with he hath so walked, to joyn himnot agreeable to Truth and Order : it self with some other Church, where is according to the mind of Christ, he may enjoy the Ordinances in thə that
many Churches holding com- purity of the same, for his edification munion together, do by their Messen- and consolation. gers meet in a Synod or Council, to XXIX. Such reforming Churches consider and give their advice in, or
as consist of Persons found in the about, that matter in difference, to be Faith, and of Conversation becoming reported to all the Churches concerned: the Gospel, ought not to refuse the Howbeit, these Synods so assembled communion of each other, so far as are not entrusted with any Church- may consist with their own Principles Power, properly so called, or with any respectively, though they walk not in Jurisdiction over the Churches them- all things according to the same Rules selves, to exercise any Censures, either of Church-Order. over any Churches or Persons, or to XXX. Churches gathered and walkimpose their determinations on the ing according to the mind of Christ, Churches or Officers.
judging other Churches (though less XXVII. Besides” these occasioned pure) to be true Churches, may reSynods or Councels, there are not in- ceive, unto occasional communion with stituted by Christ any stated Synods them, such Members of those Churches in a fixed Combination of Churches, or
as are credibly testified to be godly, their Officers, in lesser or greater As- and to live without offence. semblies ; nor are there any Synods appointed by Christ in a way of Subordination to one another.
THE OFFICE OF DEACON IN CONGREGATIONAL CHURCHES.
BY REV. T. S. POTWIN, FRANKLIN, N. Y. The present and prospective growth ministry, that would covet such a posiof churches in this country opens new tion. And members would hardly feel and important questions. A full thou- that they enjoyed pastoral care in the sand no longer limits the ever-increas- services of such a one. ing prosperity of some of our city Another says: “Let us have a colchurches. It was “in those days when lege of preaching pastors.” But that the number of the disciples was multi- is a rather costly luxury, even for a plied” that there arose a demand for a church which rejoices in its thousand new kind of labor. We live in such members. days, and long may we. But it is often Another : “ We must have a Congreeasier to gather a large flock than to gational Eldership to supervise the take care of it. Preaching, keeping a flock.” roll of names and an annual slip-rent- But for Congregational churches the ing, come wofully short of the whole only difficulty is one, unfortunately needed care of a church. If we would too common, that of seeing what is have “room to receive " such a bless- nearest to them. ing as we covet, some provision must The children of John Robinson bebe made for the wants it will create. lieve in finding new treasures in God's Churches which should honor God by word to the end of time ; and they betheir numbers chiefly, would soon believe in the expansibility and adaptain great danger of being the greatest bility to all church wants of the simpossible dishonor to him. Churches ple New Testament church order. to which great numbers flock, need
Let our churches turn their attenmore watch-care per member than tion anew to the capabilities of the ofthose less in favor with the multitude. fice of deacon, and they will find a How shall these large folds be well means divinely arranged to meet the kept ? For a single man to perform demands imposed by an exceedingly all the pastoral work for such churches large membership. And in the first with completeness such as may be at place the current interpretation and tained by the pastors of small churches ideas of the diaconate must be coris a simple impossibility. What then ? rected, and its proper position and posShall the work be left undone ? Muchsibilities of good restored in our minds. of it can not be, without violence to the The office has suffered much degratenderest feelings ; none of it can be dation as the effect of the Presbyterian without spiritual danger and loss. effort to thrust in a third office beShall it be said that, when the pastor tween those of pastor and deacon. has done what he can, this is all the The office of deacon in Presbyterian Lord of the harvest would have done ; churches of moderate size is a comparthe responsibility for the rest must be ative nullity, confined almost to the thrown back upon him ? This is Mos- passing of the sacramental elements lem fatalism.
and contribution boxes, which children One says : “Let us have an assistant could do as well. And so, forsooth, pastor, who shall not preach.” But the Congregational deaconship must there are few, who feel called to the be the same. If we are to take the duties of deacon from Presbyterians, occurs of Christian elders (Acts xi. we indeed may as well go on and take 30,) is one in which alms are said to an eldership, for we shall need it. be sent to them for distribution. What
But if we are competent to think had become of “the seven ” and their and act for ourselves in this matter, “serving of tables,” if they were not we shall find in the scriptural doctrine, at least included among the “elders," the nature and the history of the office to whom Paul and Barnabas handed of deacon, along with the pastorate, all over the “relief” for the disciples at that any church can need, “that it may Jerusalem ? grow up into him in all things, which And when subsequently that council is the head, even Christ.”
was convened of“ apostles," "elders 1. Let us review, in the first place, and“ brethren," among whom did“ the what we find in the Scripture concern- seven” rank?. Is it to be supposed ing it.
that they were held only as brethren, The first trace of such service is especially when we recall the promifound, of course, in Acts vi., in the nence of Stephen and Philip in preachappointment of “the seven.” But ing the Word ? what were the seven ?” They are But some have supposed that there not designated in the Scripture by any were “other seven »who ministered for title, as a body. There are good rea- the Hebrews, and whose neglect occasons for saying that they were both sioned the appointment of those for the elders and deacons ; that is, that they Hellenists. But the whole character were the transition link from Jewish of the narrative opposes this. In the elders to Christian deacons. The or- first place we are told just before, that ganization of the church was instituted the money for distribution was laid with no violence to previously exist- “at the apostles' feet.” It was doubting ideas of order in the Lord's house. less distributed therefore, under their It is not too much to say that it was direction, by private hands of their semodeled to an extent after the syna- lection. Then the apostles, in asking gogue. The elders of the synagogue for the nomination of these men, did had charge of all its affairs, secular not ask it for the sake of securing and sacred. The Jews naturally asso- equality or impartiality, but that themciated every administrative function selves might be relieved from serving with the office of elder. And when it tables and give themselves without inbecame necessary to appoint men in terruption to the ministry of the Word. the new Christian organization to ad- We have before us, then, in Acts vi., minister its affairs, “elder ” would still the completion of the organization of be the generic designation which would the Jerusalem church so far as it was most naturally occur to all. We find thought of any importance to make that soon the Jerusalem church had known its order in the inspired Word. elders. We have no account of their Its officers were 16 ministers of the appointment if they were other than Word," and others for “daily ministhe seven. If they were other and tration.” more important officers, how can we Now is it not probable that this oraccount for silence in regard to the de- der was the model followed in the ormand for them and their setting apart, ganization of other churches ? If so, when we have been so particularly in- then we are to understand the appointstructed respecting the appointment ment of “elders in every church” and of “the seven ?” But, what is more every city” as including those for conclusive, the first mention which the “daily ministration.” It greatly favors this idea that “elder" is the creature, so distinct from anything only official term used in the Acts of which had gone before, necessarily inchurch officers, whereas, subsequently, volved a change from the merely conwe find in its place the specific terms servative order of Jewish institutions. “bishop” and “ deacon.”
Hence Paul, having first secured the The progress of society is continu- appointment of elders for the general ally making these changes in language. superintendence of each church in its That which is generic becomes specific, inception, before it could enjoy a or gives way to that which is specific. trained ministry, afterwards, in his Elders came gradually to be known letters, unfolds who are to be those by terms derived from their several whom “God hath set in the church,” duties. Those who labored in word and to Timothy gives the direction and doctrine, overseeing the flock, were which has been the corner-stone of “bishops"; those who were assigned every system of ministerial instruction to daily ministration were “ministers” (2 Tim. ii. 2). (diaconoi) or deacons.
As he writes of these things to the We first find the terms, “ diaconos,” Ephesians, to the Corinthians, and to “diacones,” “diaconia,” used in the the Romans, his mind is evidently filled broad sense of any Christian service. with the great work of proclaiming Paul applies these words to himself the gospel and teaching the way of life, and his work. He applies them to as that for the furtherance of which Timothy and his other fellow-laborers. God has given official members to the The source of this usage seems to have church. But along with “prophecy” been in the saying of Christ, where he he also joins “ ministry,"
” “ diaconia” uses this word (Mark ix. 35): “If (Rom. xii. 7), and with the higher any man desire to be first, the same gifts (1 Cor. xii. 28), helps,” “govo shall be last of all and servant of all." ernments.” If any insist that by “he
But the ministry of the word being that ruleth” (Rom. xii. 8), Paul would found insufficient for all the wants of designate a distinct officer, they must the churches, those appointed to sup- at least admit that he places such office ply the additional service were soon lower than that of deacon,“ diaconia.” known as “the servants” or “the as- And if “ governments
» indicates a sistants," 2266 deacons.”
separate, it comes after that of "helpWe find this specific use in 1 Tim. ing." iii. 8–12, Phil. i. 1, Rom. xii. 7, The coming change also appears in where “ministry” is a rendering which that significant hint Paul gives to to our ears obscures the sense,
elders (1 Tim. v. 17), by “especially 1 Pet. iv. 11.
they who labor in word and doctrine.” Now, in this change of language is He would have the first elders become written indelibly the progressive crys- as fast as possible Christian preachers. talization, if I may be allowed the But to return to “the seven ; term, of the peculiar Christian order, find they did not by any means conreplacing what was Jewish. Hence, fine themselves to the “ serving of tabeginning with faint traces in the Acts, bles,” but evidently regarded themwhen we come to the later among the selves under obligation to serve the Epistles, we find the office of deacon church with their fulness“ of the Holy standing out clearly by the side of that Ghost and wisdom,” to the utmost of of bishop.
their time and power. Hence Stephen, The great work of the church, - that beginning at the other extreme of the of proclaiming the gospel to every church's work, soon worked up to
where he met the apostles half way ; administration in ruling their own and Philip preached and baptized till houses well. The bishop is to be “apt the apostles found they must set out to teach ;” but the “deacon," having on a missionary work to complete what been “proved » and found fit for the he had begun. I know that Philip is office, is promised “great boldness in elsewhere spoken of as an “evangelist,” the faith,” which reminds one of the and he certainly deserved the name ; “ wisdom and the Spirit, irresistible," but to suppose that he and Stephen with which Stephen spake, and which had another ordination as evangelists is certainly a great aptitude for teachin those days when they preached ing or preaching. as they were scattered by a fiery per- Success in their work at least gives secution, and in those days of few and them a good degree ;” that is, gives simple rites, will seem quite absurd to them, not advancement above the office most. It is plain that, having been of deacon, which would be “
a better set apart to serve in the church, they degree,” but a worthy and honorable went forward and did with their might consideration in that office from fulwhat they found to do, and were but filling it. This “degree,” coupled with “servants" (deacons) still.
“great boldness in the faith in Christ We may go at once from this begin- Jesus,” certainly must have been the ning to what is the last that we know, fruit of something more than the disperhaps, of the office, from the sacred tribution of “alms” and “elements." canon in 1 Tim. iii. 8-13. The qualifi- The churches need no higher aucations here laid down make it plain, thority for calling their deacons to a if anything of the kind could, that the much more efficient assistance of their example of Stephen and Philip, in not pastors in spiritual work, and the genconfining themselves in their service eral supervision of a large memberto the care of the poor and the “ tem- ship. Or, if the old ones can not be poralities ” of the church, had become taught“ new tricks,” let the churches a recognized precedent and law. Paul's take up this matter anew, and “look description is not of an office widely out among them men of honest report, and sharply distinguished from that full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom,” of bishop, but reads precisely as we and appoint them to this work. If should expect to find the requirements much of their time is required, as of assistant bishops. If the character would be the case in many churches, here marked out for “ deacons ” would let them be supported, wholly or in not fit them to be the spiritual assist- part, by the churches, except where ants of the bishops and servants of they are in circumstances such that the church, you will look in vain for they can render the service as an unany possible fitness for this work. requited offering. The requirement that they “first be The service which is needed in many proved” indicates that they were to churches beyond the ability of a single be chosen from among the younger man, the pastor, and beyond the care brethren, or, at least, that this would of the poor, is attendance upon funebe their first attempt in church service. rals, visitation of the sick, religious Beyond this there is scarcely an im- visitation of the membership, admoniportant difference in the respective re- tion of the erring, familiar preaching quirements of bishops and deacons. in neighborhoods remote from or unBoth are to be of blameless life in influenced by the sanctuary. And still respect of morality and love of the it is all work with which the pastor world, both are to show capability of should be connected as much as pos