Images de page

“ The deacons, likewise, must be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre, holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.” 66 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon will purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Tim. ii. 8, 9, 12, 13. You have enumerated the

persons who

govern ; explain now those things which pertain to the hearers?

The duty of the hearers, and of the younger niembers, is to obey those who govern in all those things which are commanded by the word of God; concerning which we read in the epistle to the Hebrews, (chap. xiii. ver. 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.” To communicate to those that teach in all good things (Gal. chap. vi. ver. 6). To count them worthy of doublé honour; and to receive no accusation against them, but before two or three witnesses ; which indeed pertains also to the whole church. (1 Tim. v. 17, 19.)

[merged small][ocr errors]


You have explained to me the offices of those persons who compose the church of Christ; state


moreover the way in which those offices are discharged.

This way relates in part to all; but chiefly to those who rule.

How does it relate to all ?

In the manner stated Heb. iii. 12, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.”. And further on (chap. x. ver. 24-26), “Let us consider one another to provoke one another 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:" and again (chap. xii. ver. 15), “Looking diligently, lest any man fail of the grace of God.” And the apostle Paul (1. Thess. v. 11, 14) says, “ Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another.”, “We exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feeble-minded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.”

How are those who are unruly to be dealt with ?

In two ways ;-for they are to be corrected either privately or 'publicly.

How are they to be corrected in private ?

As Christ directs, Matth. xviii. 15, 16, “If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between him and thee alone: if he shall hear thee, then 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.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Why are they to be thus corrected?

Because, as may be seen in this passage, they have offended privately against us : and for the same reason, the same thing is to be observed in respect to other private offences, whether against God, or against other men, for so equity itself suggests, and Christian charity requires.

How are they to be publicly corrected ?
Either by words or by deeds.
In what manner by words?

In such a way as that they be publicly reproved by all in the church of Christ :-concerning which the apostle writes (1 Tim..v. 20), “ Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also inay fear :" which is spoken of elders who transgress : to others, who publicly or heavily offend, or refuse to attend to admonition, these words of the apostle (2 Cor. ii.6) may with propriety be accommodated, “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of


In what manner are they to be publicly corrected by deeds?

By our shunning the society and conversation of such a person, and refusing to eat with hiin; though we do not regard hiin as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother (as long: that is, as he professedly acts as a brother, and does not become the enemy of truth and piety, or of believers), or at least by shunning him in the holier fellowship of the Lord's table.

Where Where is any thing written concerning the former mode of correction ?

First, in Matthew xviii. 17,“ If he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen-man: and a publican.” Next, 1 Cor. v. 11, 13, “ If any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, with such an one do not eat.” " Therefore put away from amongst yourselves that wicked person.” And also 2 Thess. iii. 6, “ Now we command

yoll, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the traditions which ye have received of us.” And below (ver. 14), “If any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with • him, that he may be ashamed.”

Where is any thing written concerning the latter?

There is indeed nothing written concerning this mode of correction : but reason itself and the order of the church seem to require, that those who in such things conduct themselves unworthily be not admitted at least to the holy supper of our Lord; notwithstanding they do not yet deserve to be kept from all fellowship and conversation with us, and to be utterly excommunicated : that by such means a proper respect for the Lord's table may be preserved ; and that those persons, seeing themselves already, in a certain degree, placed in a condition of excommunication, may hasten their penitence.


Why is such correction employed in the Christian church?

That the transgressor may be healed, and brought back to the right way; that others may be stricken with fear, and kept uncorrupted by the wicked; that scandal and disorder


be removed from the church of Christ; that the word of the Lord be not evil spoken of; and that thus the name and the glory of the Lord may not be profaned.

What danger threatens such persons ?

It is this;—that after being excluded from the church of Christ, and consequently from his kingdom, there remains nothing further for them, while they continue in this state, but destruction : since this excommunication is no other than the binding of which . Christ speaks (Matth. xviii. 18), “Verily I say unto you,Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

What is the power of binding and loosing which the church possesses ?

It is the power of declaring and denouncing, according to the word of God, who is worthy, and who unworthy, of being in the church, or a member of the church,

State now the way of preserving order in the church, which relates chiefly to the elders and those who rule ?

Elders and those who rule are bound not only to attend more carefully than others to those duties which pertain to all universally, and to go before all

« PrécédentContinuer »