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grace of God, they make; and which is to be considered for imitation and
11. What is further observed in verse 17. Obey them that have the rule over you, &c. This respects duties to be performed to the same persons who are described as before, as their leaders, guides, and governors; to whom, — 1. Obedience is to be yielded; Obey them: which obedience, in members of churches, to their pastors, lies, 1. In a due regard to the ministry of the word by them; which regard to it is seen in a diligent and constant attendance on it; for if their pastors are to be diligent and constant in their work, they are to be as diligent and constant in attending upon them in it; if ministers are to preach the word in season and out of season, or as often as they have oppor tunity for it, then members should as frequently assemble to hear it: they shew their obedience to the word, and to ministers in dispensing it, by their receiving it in faith and love; which they do when they receive it, not as the word of man, but as of God and Christ; when they mix it with faith as they hear it, and receive the love of it. Indeed, none are obliged to receive and obey their word or doctrine, than as it appears to be agreeable to the sacred scriptures, which are to be searched diligently, as our Lord directs, and as the noble Bereans did, to see whether these things be so or no; every spirit is not to be believed, but to be tried, whether of God or no; and, indeed, every thing deli vered by pastors of churches is not binding on churches; nor are they obliged 2. Obedience of mem to receive it, but as it accords with the word of God. bers to their pastors lies in attendance on the ordinances of the gospel, as administered by them, and in joining with them constantly in the administration of them; not the ordinances of men; for they are not to be subject to ordinances of mens invention, or which are after the commandments and doctrines of men ; for then they would be the servants of men, and not of Christ; but they are the ordinances of Christ, as they are faithfully administered by his servants, saints are to be subject to: the ministers of Christ are to teach all things Christ has commanded, and to urge the observance of them; and in this they are to be obeyed by those who are under their care, who, from a principle of love to Christ, should keep his commands, and constantly observe and attend his ordinances; but no farther are they obliged to follow their ministers, than as they are followers of Christ. 3. Obedience of members of churches to their guides and governors, lies in regarding their admonitions, reproofs, and rebukes, whether in case of error or immorality, and whether in private or in public; and as their business is to admonish when needful, their admonitions should be well taken; as they are to speak, exhort, and rebuke with all authority, their authority should not be despised, but be submitted to: likewise their counsels and advice should be observed, and taken, and acted up to; especially if it appears to be founded on the word of God, and is consonant to it. 2. Another branch of the duty of church-members to their pastors, is to submit themselves to them; that is, to the laws of Christ's house, as directed to and put into
execution by them; and to their admonitions, reproofs, and censures, which are according to them; even though they may not only public and before all, but sharp and severe, as the case may require. The reason given for such obedience and submission to them, is because they watch for their souls; not for the preservation of their bodies, and outward affairs; though if such who watch over these, to preserve them from hurt and damage in the night-season, are to be regarded and valued, and obedience to be yielded to their alarms and directions, then much more those who watch for the good and welfare of immortal souls, which are of more worth than a world; their ministrations, in whatsoever way, are for comfort or edification, and are the instrumental means of saving souls: and what engages them to such watchfulness to preserve from error and heresy, from vice and immorality, is, that they must give account; to their own consciences, that they have discharged their work aright; to the church of God, to whom they are accountable if negligent; and especially to Christ, the Judge of all, to whom they must give an account of their ministry and of the use of their talents, and of the souls put under their care, how they have discharged their duty towards them; and how such souls have behaved towards them under the ministry of the word and ordinances: and this they are desirous of doing with joy, and not with grief; either at the throne of grace, where they either rejoice or complain; or at the great day, when they will be witnesses either for or against those that have been committed to them; which latter would be unprofitable to them, and to the disadvantage of such who occa sion grief and sorrow.
III. Another branch of duty in church-members to their pastors, is suggested in verse 18. Pray for us, for us ministers; this is often inculcated in the sacred writings, as being of great moment and importance; and members of churches should be solicitous at the throne of grace for their ministers. 1. With respect to their private studies and preparation for their work; that they may be led to suitable subjects, and be furnished with suitable matter; that their understandings may be opened to understand the word; that they may be led into the depths and mysteries of the gospel; that their gifts may be increased; and that they may be diligent, industrious, and laborious in their work. 2. With respect to their public ministrations; that they may come forth richly fraught with gospel-truths; that they may have freedom and utterance in the delivery of them; that they may speak them boldly, faithfully, and fully, as they ought to be spoken; and that their labours may be blessed to saints and sinners: and unless members of churches are observant of this their duty, they cannot expect the word will be blessed to them.-3. With respect to the world, and their conduct in it; that they may be kept from the evil of the world, that the ministry be not blamed; and from the temptations of Satan, who has a peculiar spite against them; and that they may be delivered from evil and unreasonable men, who, as much as can be, endeavour to discourage them, and hinder them in their work; and they should pray for them, that they may neither be intimi
dated by the frowns of the world, nor allured by the flatteries of it, and they should pray for their temporal good, for their bodily health, and for the sparing of their lives for farther usefulness, and for every thing needful for them. This part of duty is enforced with the following reason; For wc trust we have a good conscience, exercised in an upright discharge of the ministerial work; in all things, willing to live honestly; not only as men, but as ministers, faithfully dispensing the word of truth; the temptations to the contrary being many, prayer is desired by them.
III. The duty of church-members to their pastors, is held forth in various pas sages respecting their maintenance, or a provision for the subsistence of themselves and families; which is part of that double honour a ruling elder and a laborious minister is worthy of, since the labourer is worthy of his reward, 1 Tim. v, 17, 18. and he that is taught in the word, and instructed by it to his comfort and edification, should communicate to him that teacheth in all good things, temporal good things he stands in need of, Gal. vi. 6. This duty the apostle urges and presses with a variety of arguments, in 1. Cor. ix. 7-14. he argues from the law of nature and nations, exemplified in the cases of soldiers, planters of vineyards, and keepers of flocks, who, by virtue of their calling and service, have a right to a livelihood; between whom, and ministers of the gospel, there is a resemblance: also he argues from the law of Moses, particularly the law respecting the ox, not to be muzzled when it treads out the corn; which he interprets of ministers of the word, and applies it to them; he argues the right of the maintenance of the ministers of the gospel from the justice and equity of the thing; that since they minister spiritual things, it is but reasonable they should receive temporal ones: he makes this clear from the case of the priests and Levites under the legal dispensation, who ministering in holy things, had a provision made for them: and lastly, from the constitution and appointment of Christ himself, whose ordinance it is, that they that preach the gospel, should live of the gospel.
IV. It is the duty of members of churches to adhere to their pastors, and abide by them in every condition and state, and in all cases and circumstances they come into; to support them under all their difficulties; to encourage them under all their discouragements; to sympathize with them in all their trials and troubles; to assist them all they can in their arduous work, against gainsayers, false teachers, and such as may rise up among themselves, speaking perverse things, and doing evil ones; the apostle Paul complains, that all men forsook him in his troubles, and commends particularly Onesiphorus for his attachment to him and concern for him.
Now as there are duties belonging to the office of pastors, to be performed by them, and duties incumbent on members of churches towards them; on the performance of these mutual duties, the order, peace, good, and welfare of communi ties depend; and therefore should be strictly attended to, and religiously observed.
OF THE OFFICE OF DEACONS.
THE other officers in a gospel church are deacons; and the things to be treated of respecting this office, are the nature and original of it; the work to be performed by those who are appointed to it; their qualifications for it, and the encouragement to the diligent performance of it; with the duties of a church respecting them.
I. The nature and original of it: It is not a political, but an ecclesiastic office; sometimes, indeed, the word is used in a political sense, for the civil magistrate; who is said to be 98 dianovos, the deacon of God; we render it, the minister of God, Rom. xiii. 4. one appointed by him, and who serves under him, for the public good: but it is commonly used in an ecclesiastic sense; sometimes for extraordinary ministers, as apostles, whose ministry is called banona, a deaconship, and is joined with apostleship, Acts i. 17, 25. and the apostle Paul calls himself and Apollos, dianovoi, deacons or ministers, by whom ye believed, 1 Cor. iii. 6. and even our Lord Jesus Christ has this name and title, as the prophet of the church, and a preacher of the everlasting gospel; Now I say that Jesus Christ was diaxovos, a deacon or minister of the circumcision, or to the circumcised Jews, Rom. xv. 8. not to take notice, that the ministry of angels is called dianova, a deaconship, Heb. i. 14. To proceed, it is oftener given to ordinary preachers and ministers of the word; as to Tychicus, Epaphras, and others, Eph. vi. 21. Col. i. 7. and iv. 7. but elsewhere a deacon is spoken of as a distinct officer from either ministers extraordinary or ordinary; so the apostle speaks of the office of an elder, bishop, or overseer, and of the office of a deacon, as two distinct offices; and after he had given the qualifications of the one, he gives the qualifications of the other, 1 Tim. iii. and the officers of the church at Philippi are distinguished into bishops and deacons, Phil. i. 1.
Now the original of the institution of this office we have an account of, as is commonly thought, in Acts vi. 1-5. by which it seems to have been originally a branch of the ministerial office, as executed by the apostles; and, indeed, the whole of the ecclesiastic ministry was in their hands, the management of the secular, as well as of the spiritual affairs of the church: the first christians, the members of the church at Jerusalem, soll their possessions, and had all things common, and parted them to all, has every man had need; and the apostles had the disposal and distribution of them; for they were brought and laid at their feet for that purpose, this church becoming very numerous, which at first consisted of about an hundred and twenty, increased to some thousands; and their poor likewise increased; for the poor from the first had the gospel preached to them, and received it; and these were chosen, called, and brought into the church; and this being the case, there was a murmuring of the Grecians, of the Hellenistic Jews, who were born and lived in Greece; but coming to Jeru
salem at the time of Pentecost, were converted, and joined themselves to the church at Jerusalem: now a complaint was lodged by these against the Hebrews, who were natives of Judea, and particularly of Jerusalem, that their poor widows were neglected in the daily ministration, suggesting, there was some partiality used; that the widows of the natives of Jerusalem were more favoured than the widows of such who had lived in foreign parts; this greatly affected the apostles, and embarrassed them in the spiritual part of their ministry, in which they were hindered by their attention and application to the secular affairs of the church; and therefore called the church together, and thus argued with them; It is not reason, that we should leave the word of God and serve tables; as it is not proper that any ordinary minister of the word should be entangled with the affairs of this life, if possible; that he may give attendance to reading, tó exhortation, to doctrine, and meditate upon them, and give himself wholly to them. Wherefore the apostles proposed to the church, thus called together, to look out and choose from among themselves seven men, of such qualifications they mentioned, to attend this service: and as for themselves, they would give up themselves continually to prayer, and the ministry of the word; and this proposal being acceptable to the people, they chose men so qualified, and presented them to the apostles for their approbation; and so they were installed into their office. This seems to be the original of the institution of this office. By which it appears,
I. That those who are chosen to this office must be members of the church, or they are not eligible; and that they are to be chosen by the vote and suffrage of the church; and their destination is only to that church to which they belong; they cannot officiate in another; nor have any concern with the poor of another church; the collections of that church to whose peculiar service they are appointed, are to be received by them, and to be distributed to the members of that church, and of that only. Extraordinary collections from other churches, we may observe, were sent to the elders, to be disposed of by them, Acts xi. 30: Wherefore, 2. The apostles, though they gave up themselves more especially to prayer, and the ministry of the word, yet they did not divest themselves wholly of this service; see Acts xii. 25. and deacons now have a connection and concern with elders and pastors of churches in the discharge of their office; they are to acquaint them with the state of the church, and the cases of the poor, and to take their advice in any matters of moment and importance, and to be assisting to them in the outward affairs of the church, and may be what the apostle calls helps, in 1 Cor. xii. 28. being helpful to the minister, church, and poor.-3. This office was instituted when the church was numerous; wherefore the number of seven in the first church, is not a rule and example binding on all future churches P; but such a number are to be chosen, and may
Though the council at Neocæsarea ordered, that there should be seven deacons, according to the rule in Acts, Can. XIV. apud Magdeburg. cent. 4. col. 349. And in the Roman church there were seven, and no more; but in other churches the number was indifferent, of indeterminate, as the historian says, Sozomen. Eccl. Hist. 1. 7. c. 19.