Sidor som bilder

former whereof did labor in the Word and doctrine, and the latter did not. The first were the Ministers of the Word and Pastors, who preached the Gospel and administered the Sacraments; but the others, who did not labor in the Word, and still did serve in the Church, bore a particular office, namely, that they had the oversight of the Church, and ruled the same with the Ministers of the Word. For St. Paul (Rom. 12:8), having spoken of the ministry of the Word, and also of the office of distribution or deaconship, speaketh afterwards particularly of this office, saying: “He that ruleth, let him do it with diligence.” Likewise, in another place, he counts "governments" among the gifts and offices which God hath instituted in the Church (1 Cor. 12:28). Thus we see that these sorts of Ministers are added to the others who preach the Gospel, to aid and assist them, as in the Old Testament the common Levites were to the priests in the service of the tabernacle, in those things which they could not perform alone; notwithstanding, the offices always remained distinct one from the other.

Moreover, it is proper that such men should be joined to the Ministers of the Word in the government of the Church, that thereby all tyranny and lording may be kept out of the Church of God, which may sooner creep in, when the government is placed in the hands of one alone, or of a very few. And thus, the Ministers of the Word, together with the Elders, form a body or assembly, being as a cound of the Church, representing the whole Church; to which Christ alludes when He saith: “Tell the Church;" which can in no wise be understood of all

and every member of the Church, in particular, but very properly of those who govern the Church, out of which they are chosen.

Therefore, in the first place, the office of the Elders is, together with the Ministers of the Word, to take the oversight of the Church, which is committed to them, and diligently to look, whether every one properly deports himself in his confession and conversation; to admonish those who behave themselves disorderly, and to prevent, as much as possible, the Sacraments from being profaned ; also to act, according to the Christian discipline, against the impeni. tent, and to receive the penitent again into the bosom of the Church : as it doth appear, not only from the above mentioned saying of Christ, but also from many other places of Holy Writ (as i Cor. 5, and 2 Cor. 2), that these things are not entrusted to only one or two persons, but to many who are ordained thereto.

Secondly. Since the Apostle enjoineth, that all things shall be done decently and in order, amongst Christians, and that no other persons ought to serve in the Church of Christ but those who are lawfully called, according to the Christian ordinance ; therefore it is also the duty of the Elders to pay regard to it, and in all occurrences which relate to the welfare and good order of the Church, to be assistant with their good counsel and advice to the Ministers of the Word; yea, also, to serve all Christians with advice and consolation.

Thirdly. It is also their duty particularly to have regard unto the doctrine and conversation of the Ministers of the Word, to the end that all things may be directed to the edification of the Church s and that no strange doctrine be taught, according to that which we read (Acts 20), where the Apostle ex. horteth to watch diligently against the wolves, which might come into the sheep-fold of Christ: for the performance of which the Elders are in Auty bound diligently to search the Word of God and continually to be meditating on the mysterxes of faith.

Concerning the DEACONS: of the origin and institution of their office we may read, Acts 6, where we find that the Apostles themselves did in the beginning serve the poor; at whose feet was brought the price of the things that were sold: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. But afterwards, when a murmuring arose, because the widows of the Grecians were neglected in the daily ministration, men were chosen, by the advice of the Apostles, who should make the service of the poor their peculiar business, to the end that the Apostles might continually give themselves to prayer, and to the Ministry of the Word.

And this has been continued from that time forward in the Church, as appears from Rom. 12 : 8, where the Apostle, speaking of this office, saith, He that giveth, let him do it with simplicity.” And (1 Cor. 12: 28), speaking of helps,” he means those who are appointed in the Church to help and assist the poor and indigent in time of need ; from which passage we may easily gather, what the Deacons' office is; namely:

That they, in the first place, collect and preserve, with greatest fidelity and diligence, the alms and

goods which are given to the poor; yea, use their utmost endeavors, that many good means be procured for the relief of the poor.

The second part of their office consists in distribution; wherein are required not only discretion and prudence, to bestow the alms only on objects of charity, but also cheerfulness and simplicity to assist the poor with compassion and hearty affection; as the Apostle requires (Rom. 12, and 2 Cor. 9). For which end it is very beneficial, that they administer relief to the poor and indigent, not only with external gifts, but also with comfortable words from Scripture.

To the end, therefore, beloved brethren, N., N., that every one may hear that you are willing to *ake your respective offices upon you, ye shall answer the following questions:

And in the first place, I ask you, both Elders and Deacons, whether ye feel in your hearts, that ye are lawfully called of God's Church, and consequently of God Himself, to these your respective holy offices,

Secondly. Do ye believe the books of the Old and New Testament to be the only Word of God, and the perfect doctrine of salvation ; and do ye reject all doctrines repugnant thereto?

Thirdly. Do ye promise, agreeably to said doctrine, faithfully according to your ability, to discharge your respective offices, as they are here described : Ye Elders, in the government of the Church together with the Ministers of the Word : and ye Deacons, in the ministrations to the poor: Do ye also jointly promise to walk in all godliness, and to submit yourselves, in case ye should become remiss in your duty, to the admonitions of the Church?

Upon which they shall answer:


Then the Minister shall say:

The Almighty God and Father replenish you all with His grace, that ye may faithfully and fruitfully discharge your respective offices. AMEN.

The Minister shall further exhort them, and the whole congregation, in the fol

lowing manner:

Therefore, ye Elders, be diligent in the government of the Church, which is committed to you, and the Ministers of the Word. Be ye also, as watchmen over the house and city of God, faithful to admonish and to caution every one against his ruin. Take heed that purity of doctrine and godliness of life be maintained in the Church of God.

And, ye Deacons, be diligent in collecting the alms, prudent and cheerful in the distribution of the same : assist the oppressed, provide for the true widows and orphans, show liberality unto all men, but especially to the household of faith. Be ye all with one accord faithful in your offices, and hold the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience, being good examples unto all the people. In so doing you will purchase to yourselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus; and hereafter enter into the joy of your Lord.

On the other hand, beloved Christians, receive

« FöregåendeFortsätt »