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of three distinct acts which she hath done for me,-my baptism, my licence to preach the Gospel, and my ordination over the flock of Christ which I now feed. Though the General Assembly hath fixed only upon the last of these, I count it good, for the more clear discovering of the truth, and the greater satisfaction of all the parties concerned, to take them up in order, the one after the other.
1. In virtue of my baptism, at the hands of the late minister of Annan, I was brought under his pastoral jurisdiction and care, to see me trained up by my father in the nurture and admonition of the Lord : for to him it had been committed of the great Head of the church to bring me into the standing of a child of God, and with him it lay to see that my walk and conversation should be conformed thereto, the authority of my natural father notwithstanding; who is by the pastor put under obligations in the act of baptism, for the very end of shewing that he is to take the charge of the child under the guida superintendence of the pastor, whom God holdeth responsible for every one of the flock,-elders, deacons, prophets, apostles, men, women, and children. This I gather from the Lord's epistles to the angels of the seven churches of Asia ; and from the instructions of the Apostle to Timothy, who was pastor of the church of Ephesus; and from the nature of the pastoral office, as exhibited in the person of Jesus Christ, the Chief Shepherd : which sources of informatión do all concur in teaching me that a pastor's authority is for headship in the flock over which he is set, to be exercised at his own personal responsibility, for the good of the flock, in obedience to the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet must he not lord it over the least of the flock, but honour every ordinance in the house of God, and be the guardian of it, to preserve it in the place and for the ends whereto the Lord hath set it. If he should err in judgment, or through pride and covetousness take too much upon him, the Lord will rebuke him by the prophets, whom for that purpose he hath given to the church, that they might be the keepers of the inviolable word, and rebuke pastors, yea, and kings, and all persons whatsoever set in authority by and under the Lord Jesus Christ, for the benefit of those whom he hath redeemed by his blood. This office of the prophet the Lord hath been pleased in the bosom of my church to restore, with its sign to the unbeliever of speaking with tongues; and, in the fulfilment of my pastoral office, I have both publicly and privately experienced the guidance of that blessed ministry of the word. But if the pastor, following his own way, should refuse to hear the prophet, then things must remain in the hands of the invisible Head of the church,
to deal with him as He may; until apostles shall be raised up to hold and to execute the power of Christ, and to order all things in
the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth, The keeping of the church I do therefore believe to be under the pastor, thus guarded by the word of the prophet, and answerable to the power of the apostle under Christ: and therefore, as a man baptized into the church of Annan, I allow that I was responsible to the minister of Annan so long as I remained there, to be dealt with by him in the way of rebuke and correction, even to the extent of excommunication, lesser and greater, if need should require; to all which it would become me humbly and dutifully to submit. But while the keeping of the church appertaineth to him, the keeping of my own soul appertaineth to myself, under Christ, for Christ is the Head of every man. And if I should judge, being come to the years of judgment, that the pastor under whom I am is setting himself against the Chief Shepherd, I am at liberty, nay, I am called upon, to renounce my allegiance to him, when I find that I cannot preserve it consistently with my allegiance to the Head : just as soldiers would not be warranted in following their captain, if he should go over to the enemy; or subjects in obeying the magistrate who should take the oath of allegiance to an usurper in some distant corner of the kingdom. Nevertheless, in doing this, great consideration and prudence is necessary, lest our allegiance to Christ pass into resistance of constituted authority; and the way in which it should be gone about is, not by speculating, by simply doing that which is right in the sight of God, and quietly bearing the consequence, even unto casting out from the church; counting it all joy to suffer for Christ's sake, and being most of all grieved that it should be in the house of His friends, and at the hand of His representative in the flock.
Under the spiritual jurisdiction of the minister of Annan I remained, so long as it pleased the providence of God to keep me there abiding; but when it pleased Him to remove me to another quarter of the vineyard, I must needs honour His sovereign will and disposal, by seeking pastoral care in those quarters where he set me down. For that the office of a pastor is strictly local, appeareth from the nature of the charge, and from the example of the seven angels of the churches of Asia, who have no jurisdiction beyond their own bounds, nor any controul one over another; nor is there any hint given of any presbytery, synod, or assembly, controlling the free judgment of the pastor over his flock in that city where he dwelt. But if I should not be able to find a man in those parts in whom I recognised the voice of the true Shepherd, then I must not give my soul into the keeping of a false shepherd, lest he poison me with polluted pastures, or defile me by giving me that to eat which hath been torn of dogs. “My sheep hear my voice .... but the voice of a
stranger will they not hear.” It was well ordered of the Lord in this respect, that, first at Haddington, and then at Kirkcaldy, I did find pastors under whom I could, with all obedience to Christ, place myself, and give my soul into their charge. And having done so, I was from that time released from the obligation of the minister of Annan, and he from the charge of my soul; for it is impossible that you can be under the charge of two masters of equal and co-ordinate power. While under the care of the pastor of the church in Kirkcaldy, I applied to the church in those parts to take proof of my gifts as a preacher ; which also they did, and, after due examination, licensed me to preach the Gospel, about seventeen years ago. This brings me to the second ground upon which the Church of Scotland might claim jurisdiction over me-namely, my standing as a preacherwhich I now proceed to examine.
2. In the important matters which I am now examining, of the jurisdiction of the General Assembly and the Presbytery over a preacher of the Gospel and a pastor of the flock of Christ, I am to be guided by the light which God now at this time hath given me, and not by any views which I may have held heretofore, and which I may have avowed in any way, or even bound myself to hold. For I am not concerned to stand well in the opinion of men, nor to act consistently with what I have thought or done in times past ; but rather, if I have erred in any thing, to search it out, and depart from it without delay. Whatever I have done in subscribing to standards and tests of man's devising, I can, before God, protest that I did honestly at the time; and am willing to abide by, so long as I discern them to be according to his mind, and no longer; and I am also willing to bear the penalty of breaking the same, whenever God teacheth me that I ought to do so. For no man, much more no minister of truth, can sign away his own liberty of serving God and the Lord Jesus Christ freely and without fear all the days of his life. Nor can the church, without the greatest guilt, ask any of her members to do so : for Christ, and not the church, is the Head of every man; and Christ is the Head of the church; and God alone is the Head of Christ. I make this remark be. fore entering on the second subject, lest it should be thought that I intend any neglect or disrespect to the orders and ordinances existing in the church, when I take liberty to be guided in every thing by the word of God, which is, in all questions, the proper appeal amongst Christians.
Now, in respect to the step which is taken by a baptized man when he maketh application to be licensed to preach, I understand it to be as follows. Knowing from the Scriptures that pastors and teachers are gifts of God unto Christ for the instruction of the church, prepared by endowing certain of the
flock with gifts of the Holy Ghost fitting thereto (Eph. iv. 11, 12); 1, feeling within myself the operation of such a power-commonly known by the name of the inward call—and not daring to stifle the admonitions of God, do go forward to my pastor, and signify to him how I am moved of the Spirit, and wait for his counsel. It becomes his duty straightway to take proof of the gift whether it be real or imaginary; to the end that, if he discover it to be a real endowment from Jesus the great Head of the church, he may proceed to foster it, and call it into exercise for the good of the flock. He may take his own way of satisfying himself on this point: it belongeth not to me to intermeddle, but patiently to go through his probation and abide his determination; for to him it belongeth to rule, to me to be ruled by him, as my pastor under Christ. He may require a scholastic education, a certain course of study, a certain age and standing in the church : he doth it at his own peril, and it is not for me to intermeddle. But if, because of any circumstance, such as I have mentioned, he should refuse to acknowledge, or to permit the exercise of, what I believe to be a gift of God, then it is for me to obey God rather than man ; Christ, the Head of the church, ather than the pastor, his representative in a particular locality. However, in my case there were no impediments put in the way: the pastor and those with whom he tcok counsel acknowledged in me the gift of a preacher or teacher, and they required at my hands nothing which I was not able with a clear conscience to consent to; and so, having taken all trials which seemed to them good, they adjudged me worthy to minister up and down among their flocks as a preacher of the Gospel. At this stage of my progress it was that I first came in contact with the Presbytery ; concerning my obligation to which body I ought therefore here to speak.
I believe the office of elder to be a standing ordinance of the Lord's house, under the pastor, for oversight and feeding of the flock, which may on no account be set aside ; and so also I believe of the office of deacon. These two, the elders and the deacons, under the pastor, constitute the government of the church, and form the eldership, or presbytery, of the Scriptures, and also of the Church of Scotland, as constituted at the time of the Reformation; and to the determinations of this body the church under their care owe stedfast obedience in the Lord. It is the ordinance for government, and must be reverenced and obeyed by all who put themselves, or by the sacrament of baptism are brought, under it. The pastor is the head, the elders and deacons are as it were the eyes and hands and feet, of the governing power, which representeth Jesus. The elders and deacons, as well as the heads of families and other members of the flock, promise obedience to the pastor, in
the Lord; and, in token of conveying to him the power, do lay their hands upon him, and resign themselves, in their several places, to his care and keeping: “The gift that is in thee by prophesying and the laying on of the hands of the presbytery." If he abuse this his high office, they may remonstrate and entreat, and, finding no redress, may withdraw, when they can no longer obey both Christ and him; but they cannot break up, conspire against, or divide his authority. He standeth over them in the Lord, and they stand under him in the Lord. Nevertheless he must reverence an elder as an elder, entreating and not rebuking him; a deacon as a deacon, and not take upon himself that which pertaineth to them; and they must act in their places as under his authority : and so love and subordination must reign amongst them. This, which is the true presbytéry, we have called the Session, and have given the name Presbytery to another ordinance altogether, which is not a standing but only an occasional ordinance; not necessary to government, but good for edification; wherein a number of pastors and elders meet, to confer with one another for counsel and correction and mutual help, especially in things wherein controversy hath arisen. This hath its sanction in the council which met at Jerusalem to consider of circumcising the Gentiles; and I yield to all such councils reverence; but I am not in subjection to any of them. My subjection is due to the pastor, who may confer with his elders, or brother pastors, or come to his determination in what way seemeth to him best: it belongeth not to me to overlook him in such matters, but to be in obedience to what he promulgates with the authority and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Head of the church. Meetings together of the pastors and elders in what are now called presbyteries, or in synods, or in general assemblies, are ordinances of man, to which we may do well to be in subjection for the Lord's sake; but they are not standing ordinances of God to which we must be in subjection, such as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, and, in a lower place, elders and deacons.
Nevertheless, when it happens that one of the congregation cometh to the pastor to signify his wish to be tried and proved of him, as one who seemeth himself to have received a gift, I think that the pastor doth well to call to his aid the counsel of two or three more in whom the same gift is known and acknowledged to abide, according to that rule, “ Let the prophets speak, two or three, and let the rest discern :” nor do I think that he would do amiss to permit exercises of the gift in the presence of the more spiritual of his flock, if he wish the more full satisfaction; for the church is the pillar and ground of the truth, and things prosper best where there are no jealousies between the rulers and the subjects. From this wholesome caution I believe it