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ed on believers, " Remember semblies, that the apostle writes them who have the rule over to the Corinthians, “Let your you, who have spoken unto you women keep silence in the churchthe word of God :” “ Obey es.” But, them that have the rule over When the word is connected you, and submit yourselves, for with a city, it is uniformly in the they watch for your souls:” singular number, church, and And the command to elders, never churches in the plural; tho' “Take heed unto yourselves, and when used in relation to a counto all the flock, over the which try or territory, having a numthe Holy Ghost hath made you ber of cities, it is always churches. overseers, to feed the church of Thus we read of the church at God.” To feed the church im Jerusalem, the church at Antiplies bearing rule. The same och, the church of Laodicea, original word is used when it is the church at Babylon, the said of Christ, he shall rule them church of Ephesus, the church with a rod of iron. * That in Smyrna, and the church in, or Christ has united the two duties of, other cities; we also read of of ruling and teaching is also im the churches through all Judea, plied in the character required churches of the gentiles, church of a bishop, as “ one that ruleth es of Galatia, churches of Asia, well his own house :” “For if a churches of Macedonia. This man know not how to rule his precision in the use of the word own house, how shall he take is doubtless of design, and shows care of the church of God.” that, as under the Old Testament
The church in which the same so under the New, the inhabielders rule, is uniformly in the tants, or believers, of each city New Testament of the extent of were a distinct society, subject the city to which it belongs. to one jurisdiction of elders. However many christians lived All the churches instituted by in any one city, and whatever the apostles, we must believe, was the number of their elders, were of one form, and of like orthey were one church.
The instances in We read of the church in the which we find a plurality of el. house of Aquila and Priscilla, ders are sufficiently numerous to the church in the house of Nym. prove that they were required by phas: and in writing to Phile. the gospel order of the church. mon, Paul uses the expression, We read of the elders of the " The church in thy house.” church at Jerusalem, the elders These probably were the con. of the church of Ephesus; cergregations of believers, who as. tain prophets and teachers in the sembled for worship in those church at Antioch, and bishops houses ; not being permitted to at Philippi. That all these min. enjoy, and perhaps not able to isters of Christ, though mention build public edifices for their re ed by different names, had one ligious meetings. And it seems office, it is not necessary to prove. to be in reference to such as. And that all the churches were
in the same manner organized . Compare Acts xx. 28, Rev. ii, with a plurality of elders, is fur, 27. xii. 5. and xix. 15.
ther confirmed by such passages
as these; “Let him call for the ders whom Paul commanded to elders of the church.” « The feed the church, were the angel elders which are abiong you, I addressed in relation to the same exbort; feed the flock of God, duty, by John. which is among you;" "Or. One branch of official duty is dained elders in every church”- to ordain to the ministry. The “ Ordain elders in every city.” New Testament gives 'no war.
The joint exercise of authori- rant to any private brother to ty by the elders of a church is lay on his hand in this conseanother circumstance of impor- cration. Both example and pretance. The elders of the church cept give the authority to do it at Jerusalem, with the apostles to men previously invested with and brethren, united to form the the office. “The things which decrees, which are mentioned as thou hast heard of me among “ordained of the apostles and many witnesses the same commit elders.” Paul addressed the el. thou to faithful men, who shall ders of the church of Ephesus, be able to teach others also.” as a brotherhood or presbytery, The prophets and teachers at in directing them to take heed to Antioch, ordained Barnabas and all the flock over the which the Paul to their evangelic mission : Holy Ghost had made them and they, where they ministered, overseers. They were unitedly ordained elders in every church. bishops (EFIERCnov) of the Paul also left Titus in Crete to same church. The presbytery ordain elders. And he reminds at Jerusalem were the elders of Timothy of the gift which was one church; that at Ephesus in him, or his ministerial author. of another church. The letters ity, which he tells was given him written by the apostle John to by prophecy, with the laying the seven churches of Asia, are on of the hands of the presbytetoo much to the purpose to be ry.” unnoticed in this discussion. That a number of elders, being Each letter is addressed in the the elders of one church, or a same manner, to the angel of presbytery, have authority to the church. Several if not all ordain is plain ; but whether one of them respect official duty. elder or pastor alone has the au. The angel is spoken to as a col. thority is not so evident. Paul lective body, or presbytery, in writes to Timothy of the both the singular and plural num. gift, which he says was in him, ber, in the words thou, thee, ye, " by the putting on of my you, and some of you : and in hands;" but as he also mentions the plural is distinguished from the laying on of the hands of the the private members of the church, presbytery, if in both he has rein the declaration, “Unto you ference to his ordination, we are I say, and unto the rest in Thy. led to the conclusion, that Paul atira.” These are indications was a member of the presbytery, that the angel was a collective and acted as its moderator or body. That it was so, is unde- presiding elder in that solemnity, niable in the instance of the in which he entrusted to Timothy church of Ephesus, whose el. the things which he committed
to him among many witnesses.* the synagogue of Satan, which The directions to Timothy and say they are Jews and are not, to Titus on this subject, though to come and worship before thy they respect them personally, feet.” " Notwithstanding, I have a consistent meaning, with. have a few things against thee ; out implying that they were to because thou sufferest that wo. act singly in the business, or man Jezebel, to teach and to se otherwise than as Paul acted duce." “I have a few things with the presbytery in laying against thee, because thou hast hands on Timothy. And it does there them that hold the doctrine not appear from any example in of Balaam." the New Testament, nor from The angel in all these instan. any command or duty enjoined, ces is an authority, not formed that a church is so completely for the occasion only, and thus organized without a plurality of to exist no longer, but abiding, elders, as to be authorized to competent to the trial of all cases ordain, or to exercise ecclesi- that occur, and responsible for astical jurisdiction.
doing it. There is no sendivg to A church consisting of a sin- other churches, or to distant pas. gle congregation, without a pas. tors for a council to ordain an tor, has no official character, to elder, or a court to try one who lay on hands in ordaining a pas. is impeached : no selecting from tor for itself; and with a pastor, a distance to answer a particular has no authority, should he be purpose. accused of a fault, to judge and Elders are commanded to take censure or depose him. Neither heed to all the flock over the is it rational to believe, that which the Holy Ghost has made Christ has instituted one form of them overseers. This is the jurisdiction for the trial of el. church of God they are to feed. ders, and another for private Christians are to remember, and brethren. And it is not more to obey those who have the rule rational to suppose, that author over them. And these are they ity to judge and acquit or con that have spoken to them the demn, depends on the mutual word of God, and that watch consent and appointment of the for their souls. accuser and accused. No such It is not supposed to be inconsystem is intimated in the gospel : sistent with the representation, on the contrary, the angel of the which has been given, for differ. church is spoken to, as having ent congregations of believers to authority over both officers and have their respective pastors. private members of the church; But if a council of elders is need. and as blameable in not exercising ed to act in any matter, it must this authority, when occasion re be the presbytery of the vicinage. quired. “Thou hast tried them, If pastors of any distant churches who say they are apostles and are be invited to assist, by their adl. not, and hast found them liars.” vice, or even by performing any “Behold, I will make them of public service, it is not conceiv.
ed that Christ has given them auCompare 1 Tim, iv. 14, with 2 thority to control the decision Tim. i. 6 and 22.
of any judicial question.
the believers in fellowship with the authority of judge's ; the each other are one church, to consent of the brethren to give such an extent as is requisite for form to their decrees, secures all purposes of gospel order and the liberty of the individuals of government. Over the church Christ's family. E, HI. of this extent the Holy Ghost has made the elders overseers to feed the church of God.
TRUE REPENTANCE EXEMPLIFIED How far, or in what manner,
IN THE EXPERIENCE OF THE Christ requires the concurrence
PSALMIST. of the brethren with the elders,
Would we form correct views are questions which do not dis of the christian character and rectly affect the design in view. graces produced by the Holy It may notwithstanding be ob- Spirit, we may safely consult the served, that the multitude of the Psalms. Repentance, which is disciples chose the seven dea. a principal and distinguishing cons, whom the apostles ordain- characteristic of a christian, is ed, which proceeding may be admirably defined in the Psalms viewed as an example. And the called penitential. Of these the decrees that were ordained of the fifty-first is the most remarkable. apostles and elders, which were This Psalm exhibits, in the at Jerusalem, were established by most clear and distinguishing them with the brethren ; each of manner, the nature and traits of whom is distinctly named as as. true repentance. These, as here senting : “ the apostles and el. exemplified in the experience of ders and brethren.” And it the psalmist, it may be useful displeased " the apostles and elders tinctly to consider. with the whole church, to send 1. The psalmist had a conchosen men of their own compa stant sight of his actual trans. ny to Antioch.” Here the lib.
Here the lib. gressions. " My sin is ever erty of believers is secured, in before me.” Hlis mind was unison with the authority intrust awakened to a consideration of ed to the elders.
his conduct. Willing to see his It is pleasing to reflect, that offences, they appeared to him the system of ecclesiastical order in their true light; and a distinct and jurisdiction, of which, it is view of their number and magthought the New Testament gives nitude made such an impression a sufficiently plain account,
on his mind as could never be efaccords so fully, as it does, with faced. Such a sight of sin was the most important maxims of not peculiar to the psalmist. civil jurisprudence, adopted by Though persons may not have the wisest statesmen, after long been openly vicious, yet, when experience in the most enlighten they penitently consider what ed ages of the world. No civil they have done in violation of tribunal is more perfect, than a the divine law, and what they court of judges, assisted by a have not done wbich God has body of jurors, consisting of men commanded, their transgressions in common life taken from the appear exceedingly great and Ticinage.
numerous ; so great and numerThe elders of the charch have ous, indeed, that they can never
forget them. The sins of a true of the authority and government penitent are ever before him. of God, and of their obligation
2. The psalmist had an af. to obey his commands. Hence fecting view of his native deprav. they view sin as evil, only on ity. He seems at first to have account of the injury which it been filled with astonishment, as brings upon themselves and othif he knew not how to account But all, who have a true for his guilty conduct. But he knowledge of sin, see it to be soon traced his actual transgres. pointed against the character and sions to his depraved heart. government of God; and when From this fountain he perceived viewed in this light it appears in that all the offences of his life its truly hateful and malignant had proceeded. Hence, he ex nature. claimed “Behold, I was shapen 4. The psalmist was greatly in iniquity; and in sin did my distressed on account of his sins. mother conceive me.”
He compared his distress to the convinced that he was a sinner pain of broken bones. « Make by nature; that he was natural. me to hear joy and gladness ; ly destitute of moral good. that the bones which thou hast ness, and opposed to the divine broken may rejoice.” In anothcharacter, law and
govern er place he says—“My bones ment. And according to the waxed old through my roaring psalmist and the other inspired all the day.” And again, writers, such is the native char. “Mine iniquities have taken acter of all mankind. All true hold on me, so that I am not penitents, however moral and up- able to look up: they are more right may have been their exter than the hairs of my head; therenal conduct, clearly see and fore my heart faileth me.” The deeply feel, and freely confess sorrow of true penitents is comthe total moral depravity of their pared by one of the prophets to hearts.
the sorrow of one, who mourn. 3. The psalmist viewed his eth for an only son, and to the sin as an offence against God. bitterness of one, that is in bit“ Against thee, thee only have I terness for a firstborn.
In the sinned, and done this evil in thy days of the apostles, multitudes sight.” God is the moral gov. in view of their sins cried outernor of the universe; and to " What must we do to be saved." him all moral agents are account. Though all penitents do not ex. able. Every sin is an act of re. perience equal distress, yet often bellion against him and a con. at the present day, they suffer tempt of his authority. Such is such pain for sin, as may justly
, the view which every true peni. be compared to the torture of tent has of sin; and sin so view. broken bones.
All true peni. ed appears exceedingly sinful. In tents are described in the holy view of his daring contempt of scriptures as mourners, and are the holy commandments of God, said to be of a broken heart. David seems to have lost sight of
5. The psalmist realized the the injury he had done to his fel. justice of God in his own condem. low men.
Mankind are natur nation. “That thou mightest ally very ignorant or forgetful be justified,” says he, “when