صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

of men; and therefore those employed in it, should be esteemed for the sake of it; for the work that they have done, in which they have been useful to men for conversion, or for comfort and edification; and for as much as they have continued in it, and may be more useful in their day and generation, both for good of souls and the glory of God.

II. Other branches of the duty of members to their pastors are expressed in Heb. xiii. 7, 17, 18.

1. In verse 7. Remember them, &c. 1. They should remember them, be mindful of them at the throne of grace, as is after exhorted to; should remenber the doctrines preached by them, and treasure them up in their minds; which may be of after-use to them; these they should carefully retain in their memories, and not let them slip from them; they should remember to give them the honour and respect that is due unto them, and to make a suitable provision for the outward supply of life. The reasons enforcing this exhortation are because they have the rule over them; being appointed by Christ, the Head and King of the church, to govern them under him; not in a lordly manner, according to their own wills; but according to the laws and rules which Christ has given; and when they rule according to these, they rule well, and are worthy of double honour : the words may be rendered, who are your guides or leaders. Now such are the ministers of the gospel; they are the happy instruments of guiding men into the understanding of the scriptures; and of leading, under a divine direction and blessing, into the truths of the gospel; and of pointing out to them the way of life, peace, and salvation by Christ; and of directing them into the paths of faith and holiness, and are examples to them, and therefore deserve to be remembered by them. And moreover, they are said to have spoken to them the word of God, the scriptures, given by inspiration of God, which contain his mind and will, and the doctrines which declare his grace and favour to the sons of men; these they explain truly and faithfully, according to the best light and knowledge they have; and deliver out the doc trines of them with great freedom, boldness, and fidelity: and their memory, on these accounts, is and should be blessed to truly gracious souls, — 2. Their faith is to be followed, or imitated; either their faithfulness in the several parts. of their ministrations; or the grace of faith, their strong exercise of it, and the fruits and effects of it; or their profession of faith they hold fast with out wavering; or the doctrine of faith they preach, by embracing it, abiding by it, standing fast in it, and persevering therein to the end: the motive to it is, considering the end of their conversation; either the drift and scope of it, which, as in connection with the following verse, is Christ, his honour and glory, who is the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever; or the whole of their conduct in the discharge of the various duties of their office, and the manner of it; or else the issue of it in death; or the good end which, through the

ο των ηγεμένων αγωνα

grace of God, they make; and which is to be considered for imitation and encouragement.

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

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 occasion 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 we 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 passages 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 vine. yards, 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 communis ties depend; and therefore should be strictly attended to, and religiously observed.


THE HE 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 9es 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 baxona, a deaconship, and is joined with apostleship, Acts i. 17, 25. and the apostle Paul calls himself and Apollos, dianovo, deacons or ministers, by whom yẹ 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 of minister of the circumcision, or to the circumcised Jews, Rom. xv. 8. not to take notice, that the ministry of angels is called anona, 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, sold 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 con sisted 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

« السابقةمتابعة »