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hath arisen, that in trying the gift of a preacher two or three of the pastors are wont to take counsel together. But my allegiance is not to many, but to one head, the pastor under Christ the universal Head ; and my duty is to abide his determination, however he may be pleased to come to it. Then, being admitted into the place of a preacher or teacher, I continue in subjection to the pastor, as before ; but from that time forth am called to labour in the word amongst the brethren, and also for the bringing in of others. Because he was helped by other pastors in his judgment, I owe no subjection to them, but all reverence, as to the shepherds whom Christ hath set over his flock. But as to what I preach or teach I am under bondage or subjection to no man; having and holding the gift from Christ direct, and being altogether beholden to him for the right use of it. The pastor doth not give the gift, hath no hand whatever in the giving of it, but only, as in duty bound, doth contribute of his vigilance and wisdom to help to discern the same, and to keep me from all delusions of my own imagination or suggestions of the devil : and yet, while to me now belongeth the responsibility of a teacher, to bring out of the treasury things new and old, and lay them before the
flock of Christ, to the pastor still belongeth the care of the flock; and if he judge me to have fallen into error, he hath power, and is in duty bound, to warn and admonish me thereof; and if I cease not to promulgate the same, he must and ought to prevent me from exercising my gift amongst his people; and if I still see it my duty to do so, he must warn his people, and excommunicate me from the privileges of his church. Nevertheless, while it becometh me in such a case to weigh well my words, and try the doctrine which I preach, lest I be really in error and bringing others into error, it is not my duty to keep silence, but to speak boldly out the things which I surely believe ; and this in the flock of my pastor, and in every other flock of Christ, and to every creature under heaven ; for my gift as a teacher is from the same source as his gift as a pastor, and must be kept by the same Holy Ghost : “ Keep that good thing committed to thee by the Holy Ghost, which dwelleth in us." It is here as with baptism, the gift is irrevocable; “ for the gifts and callings of God are without repentance;” until the day when the Householder returneth from the far country to take account of the talents committed to our charge. The
pastor doth not give the gift for baptism, but God who giveth faith ; the pastor doth not give the gift for teaching, but God : the pastor doth in both cases but discern the gift to be given, and make solemn public attestation of the same. This is the stone of stumbling upon which the General Assembly, in its rash and heady ignorance, is thrusting the Presbytery of Annan, by arguing that, because they have given me a certain status, they can
take it away again. They did not give it; they did but discern that God had given it; and that which God hath given He only can revoke : but more of this in the proper place.
From these premises it will be perceived what my understanding of the preacher's office is ; which, being gathered from the Holy Scriptures, opened by the spirit of a sound mind, I may not renounce for any opinion of man or temporal advantage whatsoever. I will recapitulate in a few words. The function of a preacher I include under the third order of ministrations set forth by the Apostle Paul: “ First, apostles ; secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers ” (1 Cor. xii. 28). For this office of the teacher I know that a heavenly gift is needful, according to what is written by the same Apostle (Eph. iv. 11); “ He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers.' This gift it is the part of every one who receiveth it to discern and to occupy; and, when he feels called thereto, to lay the credentials of it before the pastor to whom he is subject in the Lord, who, having the responsibility of the whole flock, should be reverently consulted in all spiritual things. The pastor therefore taketh order to satisfy himself as to the reality of the inward call and heavenly gift which I have received. The way in which it may please him to go about this, it belongeth not to me to inquire, and mattereth not that I should know. Only, having been satisfied and convinced of my vocation of God, he publicly declareth the same; and from that time forth I may open my mouth as a teacher in his flock, and in all other flock's of Christ. The probation of the gift is not a second time to be gone over at any instance: and if any pastor let and prevent me in the exercise of it, he doth so at his own peril; and yet it is a peril which he should be ever ready to undergo, even to the prevention of apostles, if false ones come into his flock (Rev. ii. 2): for the spiritual gifts may be subverted of Satan (Heb. vi. 4); and, from being a true teacher, I may fall away to become a teacher of lies. Holding any presbytery, therefore, to be true pastors of the church of Christ, I as a preacher of the same church, feel that it is their duty to warn their flocks against me, if they know me to have become unsound in the faith : in which case it would be
my part to weigh well their disapprobation ; and, being satisfied that they are in the wrong, it would be my imperative duty to preach in the bosom of their focks, and every where else, their sorest displeasure notwithstanding; for as they are responsible to Jesus for their gift and office of pastor, so am I responsible for my gift and office of teacher. It should be matter of great grief and humiliation to us both that schism hath arisen; but the only way to heal it is for every one to look away from himself and from man, unto God and the Lord Jesus Christ. If I stood under them as one of their flock, they might, in case of such conVOL. VI.-NO, II.
scientious disobedience for Christ's sake, excommunicate me, and cast me out of the church; and it would be mine to count it all joy to suffer grief and tribulation for the Lord's sake. Thus things must be left
, until that day which will prove every man's work of what sort it is, for it shall be revealed by fire. (1 Cor. iii.) Also, God will give testimony, in the conversion of sinners, and in the edification of saints, and in distributions of the Holy Ghost, who is in the right; and in these three ways He hath given testimony that I am a true preacher of Christ, and pastor of his flock, against those malicious and ignorant men who have slandered me as a preacher of heresy and encourager of superstition and fanaticism. The Presbytery have power to shut their pulpits, and so far as they can the ears of their people, against me ; and woe to him who doth so against a faithful brother; beyond this they have no power, whether over my person, or my gift, or my liberty as a preacher.
3. In respect of the office of a pastor, the doctrine is the same, though the dignity and responsibility of the office is far higher, as hath already appeared indirectly under the two former heads, and as I will now proceed to unfold in order. The office of the shepherd, or pastor, is as ancient as power itself: wherefore kings were wont to be styled shepherds, and their function to feed the people: nor is a pastor, whether in the Jewish or Christian church, other than the head and depositary of power over a portion of Christ's flock in a particular place; the representative of Christ, the good Shepherd, who ruleth over the whole family both in heaven and in earth. Our calling is to be gods, and to exercise authority as He doth who is over all God blessed for ever; to the end that magistrates, and rulers, and kings, may learn from the pastor of the church—and not they only, but fathers, and masters, and every other governor-in what way, and for what ends, they should exercise the power committed into their hands. And while all governors should look to the pastors of the church, the stars whom Christ hath in his right hand, for their model of government, the pastors should look only unto Christ, and copy from Him in all things, without intervention, without prevention, of any power or authority whatsoever. For how shall they be responsible if they be not free; and how shall they be able to give the form of all holy rule and government, if they themselves be overruled? The elder and the deacon in the church have to give the example of subordinate, not of coordinate, rule; subordinate to the pastor, not co-ordinate with him: and not the majority, no, nor even the unanimity, of the elders and deacons, though it should have great weight to make him re-consider, should have weight to make him change or pass over what he seeth to be the mind of the Lord Jesus Christ, his Master, and Model of pastoral ministration. Yea,
not the whole flock, which is the pillar and ground of the truth, nor any portion of them, may prevent him from doing that which he seeth to be the mind of Christ; wherein he must persevere, and wait patiently, as did the great Shepherd when the sheep all forsook him and fled.
Having and holding such views of the pastoral office, it must be at once manifest in what way I ought to act towards the General Assembly in their assumption of jurisdiction over me. In as far as they are pastors, clothed every one with the same authority, and responsible for the same duty, they must with all their might ward off from their people every wolf in sheep's clothing; and being assembled together in council, they may do with a common consent that which they have full power to do in their several right; but beyond this they cannot go. It would belong to me, if so entreated of them, to bow myself down as one that mourneth for his mother, and, having fasted for their sin, straightway to warn my flock against every one of them, and against the whole body who had taken wicked counsel against the Lord and his hidden ones. Let me not, however, anticipate the conclusion; but as in the two former relations, so also in this, would I sift the matter to the bottom, and set forth the true principles thereof, as I have gathered them from the word of God.
The teacher hath the charge of the truth; the pastor hath the charge of the souls: the one for instruction, the other for government, of the flock. The pastor is a teacher and an elder and a deacon, in virtue of his office; but these are not pastors (that is, chief pastors or angels,) in virtue of theirs. To the elders and deacons belongeth oversight: the one in one kind, the other in another; but to the pastor belongeth the oversight of both, and of the teacher also, in all kinds whatever. Yet, as hath been said, he may not break down or derange any ordinance of God: whether of creation, as man and wife, parent and child ; or providential, as master and servant, king and subject; or ecclesiastical, as apostles, prophets, teachers, elders, deacons, &c.; but must honour and stand in awe of these, and see them faithfully intended and waited on within his bounds. He is under Christ, and Christ is under God. Over the ordinances of God, therefore, in creation and providence, beyond as within the church, and over the ordinance of Christ within the church; he must be a vigilant watchman, and a faithful counsellor. In nothing contrary to Christ, yet in every thing uncontrolled of man, within that jurisdiction which is committed to him. Now that I am an angel over Christ's flock, called upon by His Spirit to exercise this noble function, I have no doubt. Both the testimony of the Spirit within me, and the voice of the Spirit speaking without, in the members of the church unto whom the Lord hath given him, doth testify so.
I believe that I received it, not from man, nor by man, but from the Lord of
who alone hath the gifts and callings to bestow; and that I must answer, in time and through eternity, to Him for the complete and impartial accomplishment of this high vocation; and therefore it is, I repeat it again, that I would demur answering such interrogatories as put in a claim of jurisdiction over me, until I shall have ascertained whether I might acknowledge their jurisdiction with safety to the rights of my great Master and liege Lord. It is true that the Presbytery of Annan had some hand in the work of sending me forth as a pastor ; and, in right thereof, might claim some acknowledgement: and God is my witness how much I desire to acknowledge ihem all, in so far as may stand with my duty to our common Head, which surely they would be the last men to violate, being bound to Him by the same bond with which also I am bound. How then is this matter to be decided ? I shall endeavour to shew from the instance of Timothy, the pastor of Christ's church in the city of Ephesus.
To this pastor, whose praise is in the Scriptures, it is said in one place (1 Tim. iv. 14), “ Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given by prophecy, and the laying on of the hands of the presbytery ;” and in another place it is said of the same Timothy,“ Wherefore I put thee in remembrance, that thou stir up the gift of God which is in thee by the putting on of my hands” (2 Tim. i. 6). And again, in reference to his gift or his office, it mattereth not which, it is said (2 Tim. i. 14), “That good thing which was committed unto thee keep, by the Holy Ghost, which dwelleth in us.” Within the scope of these three texts, interpreted by the other Scriptures in the spirit of a sound mind, the whole subject of the pastoral office, with all its relations to the apostle, and the prophet, and the eldership or presbytery, lieth disclosed. But first, it may be clearly seen, that whatever part these functionaries have, is only instrumental and subordinate to the Holy Ghost, by whom the gift is to be kept, as by him it was given; for he only who giveth is competent to preserve. The Holy Ghost is the life of the church, being the life of Christ; by whom he was generated the holy Child of God out of the Virgin’s unholy substance; hy whom he was raised from the tomb the First-born from the dead, and liveth for ever; made a High Priest after the power of an endless life; by whom he regenerateth the church out of her death in trespasses and sins, to be the church of the First-born; by whom also he baptizeth with power, and doeth every thing whatever, small or great, within his church. And to this effect Paul declareth of the elders of the church of Ephesus, that "the Holy Ghost had made them overseers over the flock, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Preserving, therefore, unto the Lord the Spirit the origina