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ness should be extended, not only to seven times, but to seventy times seven; for if we forgive not, neither will our heavenly Father forgive our trespasses, Rom. xv. I.
VII. It is the duty of members of churches to pray for one another; as they have all one common Father, who is attentive to their supplications, and is able and willing to help them in their times of need, they are directed to address him in this manner, saying, Our Father, which art in heaven; and are thereby instructed to pray for others as for themselves, to whom he stands in the same relation as to themselves, even for all saints, as the apostle intimates, Eph. vi. 18. and especially for such who are in the same church-state; and particularly when they are in any distress, inward or outward; and not for ministers of the gospel only; though members should never be forgetful of their own pastors, who are set over them in the Lord, that they may be fitted for their work, be 'assisted in it, and be made useful to their souls; but for the several members of the church, that they may have their several wants supplied; that they may grow in grace and spiritual knowledge; be kept faithful, and preserved blameless, to the coming of Christ; it becomes them in general to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and in particular for the hill of Zion, to which they belong, that peace may be within its walls, and prosperity in its dwellings.
VIII. It becomes church-members to separate themselves from the men of the world, and not touch persons and things which are defiling; they are in a church-state, which is as a garden inclosed; they are a separated people, and should dwell alone, and not be reckoned among the nations or the people of a vain and carnal world; they are called out of the world, and therefore should not be unequally yoked with the men of it; with men unrighteous, ignorant, lawless, disobedient, dead, and profane sinners, with whom they can have no profitable communion; and, indeed, from all such in their own societies who 1. In conversa. walk disorderly they are directed to withdraw themselves. tion they are to abstain from sinful men; not that they are to have no ccmmerce nor correspondence with them in civil things, for then, as the apostle says, they must needs go out of the world; but that they are not to join with them in their sinful practices, but bear a testimony against them; they are not to walk, as other Gentiles do, in the vanity of their minds; nor to walk with them in the same paths of sin and folly; nor to keep up any intimate and fami liar converse with them; knowing, that evil communications corrupt good with manners. - 2. Nor should they keep company with erroneous persons, men of unsound principles; for such, who cause divisions and offences, contrary to the gospel of Christ, are to be avoided, and their conversation shunned; and such who cavil at, and consent not unto the wholesome words of Christ, and the doctrine according to godliness, are to be withdrawn from; and such who have imbibed heretical notions, are to be rejected; and such who bring not the doctrine of Christ with them, are not to be bid God-speed, nor received into the houses of God's people.
IX. Church-members should be constant in assembling together for religious worship; it is remarked of the members of the first christian church, to their honour, that they continued stedfastly in the apostles doctrines and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayer, Acts ii. 42. that is, they constantly attended on hearing the doctrines of the apostles, which they gladly received and persevered in; and kept up their communion with them and one another, and were not missing at the Lord's-supper, and at times of public prayer; though in aftertimes, an evil manner, a bad custom prevailed among some of those christian Hebrews; as to forsake the assembling of themselves together, which the apostle takes notice of to their dishonour, Heb. x. 25. a custom of bad consequence, both to communities and particular persons; for what one may do, every one may do, and in course public worship cease, and churches break up; and such a practice is very prejudicial and hurtful to individuals; it is not known what may be lost by missing an opportunity or an ordinance; and what trouble and distress of soul may follow upon it, as the case of Thomas shews, who was not with the rest of the disciples when Christ first appeared to them; it is dangerous to indulge to an indifference to, and to any degree of neglect of the service of God in his house; the evil may grow, and at last issue in apostacy, as in the stony-ground-hearers.
X. There should be no respect of persons among members of churches in their assemblies, and when met together on church-affairs, with regard to rich or poor, greater or lesser gifts; there should be no over-bearing, no browbeating, nor any supercilious airs used; no affectation of superiority one over another, they being on an equal foot, in the same relation to one another, abating the difference of offices, Matt. xx. 26, 27. all the strife should be in honour to prefer one another; and such who are highest, with respect to spiritual gifts or worldly riches, should condescend to men of low estates, Rom. xii. 10, 16.
XI. It behoves them to strive together for the faith of the gospel, and earnestly to contend for it; and not part with any of the truths of Christ and doctrines of grace; and should be careful to keep the ordinances, as they were delivered, and not suffer any innovation in them, neither as to the matter and substance of them, nor as to the manner in which they are to be observed; and they should walk in them all with great unanimity and constancy, and should stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made them free, and not be entangled with any yoke of bondage, nor suffer any human inventions and unwarranted practices to be imposed upon
XII. It becomes them to be examples to each other in a holy walk and conversation, and in an observance of all the duties of religion. Holiness becomes the house of God, and the members in it; their light should shine both in the church and in the world, that others beholding their good works, may imitate them, and glorify God: they that name the name of Christ, and profess to be his, should depart from all iniquity, doctrinal and practical; they should be con
cerned to walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, and shew out of a good conversation their works with meekness of wisdom; they should endeavour to fill up in a becoming manner, all stations and relations in life, civil or eccnomical, in the world and family; as of magistrates and subjects, of husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants; as well as in the church, as pastors, deacons, and private members, and be careful to perform all duties relative to them; that so their fellow-members may not be grieved nor stumbled; nor the good ways of God be evil spoken of; nor the name of God, and his doctrine, be blasphemed; nor any occasion given to the adversary to speak reproachfully; and by a strict attention to these several duties of religion, they will shew that they behave themselves in the house of God as they ought to do.
OF THE OFFICERS OF A CHURCH,
HAVING treated of a church, as essentially considered, with respect to its matter and form, I shall now proceed to consider it, organically, or as an organized church, a corporate body, having its proper officers. In the first churches there were officers both extraordinary and ordinary; the extraordinary officers were apostles, prophets, and evangelists.
I. Apostles, 1 Cor. xii. 28. These had the first and chief place in the church, and the signs of the apostles were found with them: they had their call and mission from Christ, and were not of men, nor by men, but by Jesus Christ; and as they had their mission and commission immediately from Christ, so their doctrine; they neither received it from men, nor were taught it, but had it by the revelation of Christ; they were infallibly guided into all truth by the inspiration of the Spirit, and had the power of working miracles, in confirmation of all this; they went out by authority every where, preaching the gospel, to the conversion of multitudes, and were the first planters of churches, which others watered; they were not limitted to any particular church, but had the care of, and presided in all the churches wherever they came. This office is now ceased; the apostles have no successors in it: not such who are called lord bishops; for as the apostles had not their pompous titles, nor their grandeur nor their wealth, so neither have these lordly bishops their gifts, power, and authority; they have neither mission nor commission, nor work similiar to theirs.
II. There were set in the churches, secondarily, prophets, 1 Cor. xii. 28. Eph. iv. 11. who had extraordinary gifts for explaining the word of God; for instruction and confirmation in the truths of it; and had the gift of tongues, to preach in them to all nations; such were in the church at Antioch, and such were Silas and Judas, Acts xiii. 1. and xv. 22. and who also had the gift of foretelling future events; as Agabus, and others, who were of great use to the
churches in those times, Acts xi. 28. and xxi. 10. This office is also no more; only the ordinary gift of interpreting the scriptures is sometimes called prophe sying, and those who have it prophets.
III. Evangelists: This name is sometimes given to the writers of the four gospels; two of which were apostles, Matthew and John; the other two, evangelists, Mark and Luke: evangelists were companions of the apostles in their travels, assistants to them in their work, and who were sent by them here and there, with messages from them to the churches, where they had been, and to finish what they had begun; for which purpose they were sometimes left in certain places; but not to reside and continue there. This office is now extinct; only that every truly gospel-preacher may be called an evangelist, or evangelizer. The ordinary officers of the church are pastors and deacons, and these only; though antichrist has introduced a rabble of other officers, the scripture knows nothing of.
I. Pastors: these are shepherds under Christ, the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls; who take the care of the flock, and feed it, as their name signifies; such were promised to be given under the gospel-dispensation; and such Christ has given to his churches, Jer. iii. 15. Eph. iv. 11. and still gives; to whom he says, as he did to Peter, Feed my lambs, feed my sheep, John xxi. 15, 16. These are the same with teachers, according to Eph. iv. 11. Some pastors and teachers; not some pastors and some teachers, as if they were different; but and teachers, the xal, or and, being exegetical, explaining what is meant by pastors, even such who are teachers, to instruct in the knowledge of divine things; which is the pastor's work, to feed men with knowledge and understanding: and it may be observed, that in 1 Cor. xii. 28. where the several officers of the church are enumerated, mention is made of teachers, but pastors omitted, because they are the same; for they are not to be distinguished with respect to the place where they perform their work, as if the office of pastors was in the church, the flock they are to feed; but teachers or doctors in the school; whereas, it is certain, that a teacher is an officer in the church, as well as pastor, 1 Cor. xii. 28. nor are they to be distinguished as two distinct officers in the church, because of the subject of their ministry; the one, the pastor attending to exhortation, to things practical, and the teacher to things doctrinal, asserting, explaining, and defending the doctrines of the gospel, and refuting errors; since both belong to one and the same: if these were distinct, it should seem rather that teachers design gifted brethren, called to minister the word, but not to office-power; and are only assistants to pastors in preaching, but not in the administration of the ordinances; yet it is pretty plain, that those who have a commission to teach, have also a commission to baptize, and to attend to whatsoever Christ has commanded; yea, it may be observed, that even extraordinary officers are called teachers; as apostles and prophets.-These pastors and teachers are the same with bishops, or overseers, whose business it is to feed the flock, they have the episcopacy or oversight of, which is the work
pastors are to do; which office of a bishop is a good work; and is the only office in the church distinct from that of deacon.-And these bishops are the same with elders; when the apostle Paul had called together at Miletus the elders of the church at Ephesus, he addressed them as overseers, TES" bishops, Acts xx. 17, 28. and when he says, he left Titus in Crete, to ordain elders in every city, he proceeds to give the qualifications of an elder, under the name of a bishop; A bishop must be blameless, &c. plainly suggesting, that an elder and a bishop are the same, Tit. i. 5-7. and the apostle Peter exhorts the elders, to feed the flock of God, taking the oversight, enionons, acting the part of a bishop, or performing the office of one, 1 Pet. v. 1, 2.-These pastors, teachers, bishops, and elders, are called rulers, guides, and governors. A pastor, or shepherd, is the governor and guide of his flock; a teacher, and a ruling elder are the same, 1 Tim, v. 17. One qualification of a bishop is, that he know how to rule his own house; or how shall he take care of the church of God, to rule that well, which is a considerable branch of his office? 1 Tim. iii. 1-5. these, indeed, are not to lord it over God's heritage, or rule according to their own wills, in an arbitrary manner; but according to the laws of Christ, as King of saints; and then they are to be respected and obeyed; Remember them that have the rule over you, and obey them; for they are over the churches in the Lord, and under him as the great Lawgiver in his house; and though they are described as such who have the rule over churches, and are guides to them, Heb. xiii. 7, 17. yet they are the churches servants, for Jesus's sake, 2 Cor. iv. 5.-These are sometimes called the angels of the churches; so the pastors, elders, bishops, or overseers of the seven churches of Asia, are called the angels of the seven churches; and the pastor, elder, bishop, or overseer of the church at Ephesus, the angel of the church at Ephesus, Rev. i 20. and ii. 1. so called because of their office, being sent of God, and employed by him in carrying messages of grace to the churches, and publishing the good tidings of silvation. They are said to be ministers of Christ, or his under-rowers, as the word vangeras, signifies, 1 Cor. iv. 1. the church is the ship or boat, which they work; Christ is the pilot, who is at the helm, under whom, and by whose direction they row; and the oars they row with are the word, ordinances, and discipline they administer. And in the same place,-They are called, Stewards of the mysteries of God; and sometimes, Good stewards of the manifold grace of God; that is, of the more sublime truths of the gospel, and the various doctrines of divine grace, 1 Pet iv. 10. so a bishop or elder is called a steward of God, Tit. i. 7. a steward in his house or family, to give to every one in it their portion of meat in due season: and which office requires wisdom and faithfulness, to execute it aright, Luke xii. 42. 1 Cor. iv. 2. Concerning these persons may be observed,
I. The qualifications of them for their office; which, as it is a good office, the necessary qualifications should be found in those who are put into it, and which the apostle directs to, 1 Tim. iii. 1. &c. Some of which,