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tual duty, and stirreth us up to it, and leaveth less room for the questioning of the truth of the church estate of a company of professors, and the truth of membership of particular persons ; yet we conceive the substance of it is kept, where there is a real agreement and consent of a company
persons to meet constantly together in one congregation, for the public worship of God, and their mutual edification; which real agreement and consent they do express by their constant practice in coming together for the public worship of God, and by their religious subjection to the ordinances of God there ; the rather if we consider how scripture covenants have been entered into not only expressly by word of mouth, but by sacrifice, by hand writing and seal, and also sometimes by silent consent, without any writing or expression of words at all.*
Exod. xix. 5, and xx. 8, and xxiv. 3, 17. Josh. xxiv. 18—24. Psalm, 1. 5. Neh. ix. 38, and x. 1, Gen. xvii. Deut. xxix.
5. This form being by mutual covenant, it followeth, it is not faith in the heart, nor the profession of that faith, nor cohabitation, nor baptism. 1. Not faith in the heart, because that is invisible. 2. Not a bare profession, because that declareth them no more to be members of one church than another. 3. Not cohabitation : atheists
dwell together with believers. 4. Not baptism, be
* Compare Heads of Agreement Ch. 1. Sec 4. B.
cause it presupposeth a church estate, as circumcision in the Old Testament, which gave no being to the church, the church being before it, and in the wilderness without it. Seals
presuppose a covenant already in being. One person is a complete subject of baptism, but one person is incapable of being a church.
6. All believers ought, as God giveth them opportunity thereunto, to endeavor to join themselves unto a particular church, and that in respect of the honor of Jesus Christ, in his example and institution, by the professed acknowledgment of, and subjection unto the order and ordinances of the gospel; as also in respect of their good of communion, founded upon their visible union, and contained in the promises of Christ's special presence in the church; whence they have fellowship with him, and in him one with another; also, for the keeping of them in the way of God's commandments, and recovering of them in case of wandering, which all Christ's sheep are subject to in this life, being unable to return of themselves; together with the benefit of iheir mutual edification, and of their posterity, that they may not be cut off from the privileges of the covenant. Otherwise, if a believer offends he remains destitute of the remedy provided in that behalf. And should all believers neglect this duty of joining all particular congregations, it might fol
low thereupon, that Christ should have no visible political churches upon earth.*
Acis ii. 47, and ix. 26. Matt. iii. 13, 14, 15, and xxviii. 19, 20. Psalms, cxxxiii. 2, 3, and lxxxvii. 7. Matt. xvii. 20. 1 John, i. 3. Psalms, cxix. 176. 1 Peter, ii. 25. Eph. iv. 16, John, xxii. 24, 25. Matt. xviii. 15, 16, 17,
of the first subject of church power; or, to whom church pow.
er doth first belong. 1. The first subject of church power, is either supreme, or subordinate and ministerial. The supreme, by way of gift from the Father, is the Lord Jesus Christ: The ministerial is either extraordinary, as the apostles, prophets and evangelists; or ordinary, as every particular congregational church.
Matt. xviii. 18. Rev. iii. 7. Isa. ix. 6. John xx. 21, 23. 1 Cor. xiv. 32, Tit. i. 5. 1 Cor. v. 12.
2. Ordinary church power, is either the power of office, that is such as is proper to the eldership; or power of privilege, such as belongs to the brotherhood. The latter is in the brethren, formally, and immediately from Christ, that is, so as it may be acted or exercised immediately by themselves ; the former is not in them formally or immediately, and therefore
* Compare Heads of Agreement, Ch. I. Sec. 8, 9. B.
cannot be acted or exercised immediately by them, but is said to be in them, in that they design the persons unto office, who only are to act, or to exercise this power.*
Rom. xii. 4. 8. Acts, i. 23, and vi. 3, 4, and xiv. 23. i Cor. x. 29, 30.
Of the officers of a church, and especially of pastors and teachers.
1. A CHURCH being a company of people combined together by covenant for the worship of God, it appeareth thereby, that there may be the essence and being of a church without any officers, seeing there is both the form and matter of a church; which is implied when it is said, the apostles ordained elders in every church. Acts, xiv. 23.
2. Nevertheless, though officers be not absolutely necessary to the simple being of churches, when they be called, yet ordinarily to their calling they are, and to their well being, and therefore the Lord Jesus, out of his tender compassion, hath appointed and ordained officers, which he would not have donc, if they had not been useful and needful for the church;
* Heads of Agreement, Ch. 1. Sec. 7. B.
yea being ascended into heaven, he received
gave gifts to men, whereof officers for the church are justly accounted no small parts, they being to continue to the end of the world, and for the perfecting of all the saints.
Rom. x. 17. Jer. ii. 15. 1 Cor. xii. 28. Eph. iv. 11. Psalm. Ixviii. 18. Eph. iv. 8,-13.
3. These officers were either extraordinary or ordinary: extraordinary, as apostles, prophets, evangelists; ordinary, as elders and deacons. The apostles, prophets, and evangelists, aš they were called extraordinarily by Christ, so their office ended with themselves : whence it is that Paul directing Timothy how to carry along church administrations, giveth no direction about the choice or course of apostles, prophets, or evangelists, but only of elders and deacons ; and when Paul was to take his last leave of the church of Ephesus, he committed the care of feeding the church to no other but unto the elders of that church. The like charge doth Peter commit to the elders.*
1 Cor. xii. 28. Eph. iv. 11. Acts viii. 6,16, 19, and xi. 28. Rom. xi. 13. 1 Cor. iv. 9. 1 Tim. jj. 1, 2, 8, to 13. Tit. i. 5. Acts, xx. 17, 28. 1 Peter, v. 1.2, 3.
* This Platform recognizes no ministry at large—no minister of the Gospel other than the pastor or teacher of a particular church. But now all the congregational churches acknowledge the difference between a minister of the Gospel, and a pastor of a church. The former has no official power in any church or over ang Christian He is only a man set apart to preach the Gospel where God in his providence may call him. B.