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tion and the continuance of the gift, by procession from the Father and the Son, we proceed to inquire what part these three —the apostle, the prophet, and the eldership-had in the conveyance of the gift to Timothy, the pastor of the church of Ephesus.
The part proper to the apostle is well shewn out in the viiith chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, where the disciples in Samaria, whom Philip had been instrumental in converting, were not by him made partakers of the Holy Ghost, though by him baptized, but did wait for that heavenly gift until the Apostles came down from Jerusalem ; to whom therefore, we infer, it did properly appertain to convey the powers of the world to come, by the laying on of their hands.' The word in any one's mouth converteth; for the whole church, upon the persecution by Herod, went every where preaching the word; but the Apostles alone had power to convey the Holy Ghost, by the laying on of the hand—the symbol of power and strength and authority. That which was in this manner conveyed, I believe to have been the same which fell directly from Christ on the day of Pentecost, and upon Cornelius and his company on their believing the word preached to them of Peter (Acts x.); and that Paul had in this respect, and indeed in all others, the same power and prerogative with the twelve, is manifest from the history of the church of Ephesus, as recorded in the xix th chapter of the book of Acts; and indeed to me it appeareth to have been the characteristic of an apostle to convey the Holy Ghost in this way to whomsoever it was the Lord's will to convey it. To Jesus it appertaineth alone, of all men, to have the Holy Ghost to bestow; and those on earth to whom he doth delegate the trust are by that very thing stamped Apostles; which I believe was intended for a standing order in the church of God (" And God hath set some in the church ; first, apostles”), as needful for the edification of the church as pastors and teachers (Eph. iv. 11). The Apostle laid his hands upon those in whom he discerned the power and operation of the Father; and to this effect must have been endowed with a Divine discernment, whereby the gift should become a seal of their faith in God the Father, and in our Lord Jesus Christ. For that the Holy Ghost was for a seal of faith is beyond doubt, from all the Scriptures : “ After that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Spirit of promise" (Eph. i.) : "Received ye the Holy Ghost by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (Gal. ii.) This function of highest dignity under the Head of the church hath been lost by her careless keeping : the sign of it is in some parts preserved, but the faith and hope and reality of it is gone. Nevertheless, I surely believe, from the whole testimony of the Scriptures, and from the word of the Holy Ghost spoken amongst us, it will be restored : for Jesus. “ restoreth that which he took not away.” The times of
the refreshing and restitution of all things are come, and this gift the Lord will surely restore among the rest.
Now, I believe that Timothy did receive the gift of pastorship by the laying on of the hands of the Apostle Paul; and that, in virtue hereof, he was required to look up to Paul, `and receive with reverence his instructions in all that appertained to his office; yet in no case to follow them because they were his, but in the full right of a pastor to examine them, and prove them by the pastoral discernment and care which remained in him; and having approved them, to carry them into effect. For to a pastor it appertaineth to try even apostles, and prove whether they be true or false (Rev. ii. 2); and also prophets (Rev. iii. 20); because to him is given, through faith, all needful gifts for defending the flock from every snare. If now, the presbytery, instead of being a company of pastors and elders, had been an apostle, or company of apostles, they might have claimed my reverent heed to any edict which they might issue for the well-ordering of the doctrine or discipline of my church ; but still it lay with me, as the pastor thereof, to make full proof of the same, and accept or reject it as seemed to me good. For Christ is the Head of every pastor, yea, of every apostle, yea, of every man; and every man standeth bound to obey him as the only infallible guide, and to obey others only as they conform themselves to him ; of which conformity the Holy Ghost in every man's conscience is the ultimate judge. But because the Presbytery of Annan and the General Assembly are in the sight of God no more than companies of pastors and elders, for certain ends convened, I can neither acknowledge in them apostolical nor prophetical authority, nor any authority at all above that which I am possessed of in myself; seeing that authority standeth not in numbers, but in the gift of God. When an apostle ariseth, in whom I discern the signs of an apostle, I will yield to him both reverence and obedience in the Lord : till then, I stand acknowledging no authority above and over me to meddle in the ordering of my church, which I must in all things conform unto the mind of Jesus contained in his word, or spoken by his Spirit.
But, besides the hand which the Apostle had in conferring the gift of pastorship upon Timothy, there was something due both to the hand of the eldership, and to prophecy :“ Which was given thee by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.” [I use the word eldership, rather than presbytery, because the latter hath come to be otherwise applied to a company of pastors and elders.] Let us, then, next inquire what part
prophecy” had in the ordination of the pastor; and there will then remain the part which lay with the eldership or presbytery, in right whereof the General Assembly requireth of them to claim and exact upon me.
The prophet was the second order in the ministration of the
church (“ secondarily, prophets;') and that there was a company of such in every church is manifest from the xiiith chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians; and how they were wont to occupy themselves is shewn to us in the instance of the church of Antioch, recorded in the xiiith chapter of the Acts. How also they might, at any time, by the Holy Ghost, be elevated to the office and function of apostles, is also there shewn forth in the instance of Paul and Barnabas; who, from the fixed and resident work of prophets in the church, were by the word of the Holy Ghost and the laying on of the hands of the prophets (who, I doubt not, were “elders labouring in the word and doctrine"), set apart to an apostolical work at that very time. Now that word of the Holy Ghost, saying, “ Separate me Paul and Barnabas for the work whereunto I have called them," is an example of the part which prophecying had in the ordination of the office-bearers; being a word no otherwise spoken than through the mouth of a prophet by the Holy Ghost. For this is the proper office of a prophet, to speak not of himself, nor“ by the will of man, but as he is moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet.
In this way I believe that Timothy was designated of God to be the angel of the church of Ephesus, even by the voice of some one or other of the prophets in that church residing, the rest hearing and discerning the same to be of God. And in virtue of this, Timothy ever afterwards was beholden to look up to the word spoken by the prophets, in the fulfilment of his pastoral vocation. As men, they were subject to him the pastor; as prophets giving forth the word of God, they were over him, and over the Apostle also. For even the apostles looked to the voice of prophecying for their separation to their office; and throughout all his journeyings, recorded in the Acts, we find Paul giving heed thereto, and guided thereby. The Holy Ghost shewed himself in word through the prophet, in work and wisdom through the apostle. Yet for all this, Timothy was not in subjection to the prophets, nor called upon to rule the church through them, unless they were set in the room of elders also. The prophet's function beginneth and endeth in his word; which being uttered, he relapseth into the ranks of the brethren, unless called out from thence to stand in rule or authority. Nevertheless, being the depositary of the word of God, he will be continually called into use and service, whenever any thing in the church is to be set to rights; whenever counsel, or rebuke, or warning, or any other special ministry of word is needed. The prophet is the pastor's eye, to search things which men cannot discern (1 Cor. xiii. 24); which having revealed, he standeth to a side and leaveth the powers that be ordained of Christ to deal with the matter.
This order of men, my Christian brethren, I give you to wit,
the Holy Ghost hath restored to the church over which I am pastor ; and by them Jesus speaketh daily in the midst of our great comfort and edification in the faith; by whose lips ofttimes hath God both spoken of me and to me as a pastor over the flock of Christ, and in the presence of the whole congregation given witness concerning the right ordering of His house. The same witness of the Holy Ghost hath acknowledged the eldership in the midst of us, and required the people to give them reverence: and many other things, especially concerning the spiritual ministry in the church, and the coming of the Lord in judgment, and the establishment of His kingdom upon the ruins of Antichrist, hath the Lord declared by the mouth of his servants and his handmaids, whom he hath given to speak with tongues and to prophesy in the midst of us. And baving thus received the sanction of the Holy Ghost to my pastoral function, and being, as it were, in continual communication with the great Head of the church, I am constrained to be very careful of not admitting any interference from without, until good cause can be shewn for the same. If in the churches of any presbytery the Lord should raise up prophets or apostles, who should speak a word concerning me and my church, it would be their duty as pastors to communicate the same to me, and my duty to receive it with all thankfulness; but they might not at any time take upon them to interfere with my authority, to stretch out the high hand of power upon me: that belongeth only to Jesus. The angels of the churches lie in his hand, and not in the band of one another, nor of any confederacy of ministers or elders. And they would greatly offend against his prerogative if they were to do such a thing, and lay themselves open to his chastisement and judgment if they repented not. That the angels of the churches are co-ordinate in power, and not subordinate the one to the other, is clear from the epistles of our blessed Saviour to the angels of the seven churches of Asia; in the much meditation and diligent interpretation of which it pleased God to open my eyes, and shew me the truth in this particular. Nevertheless, I conceive it a thing allowable, yea, desirable, and at times absolutely necessary, for the pastors of various churches to meet together in synods and assemblies for great ends of the truth which may arise, as at the council of Jerusalem ; whose decrees, however, are no wise binding upon any pastor and church, further than as they perceive the mind of the Lord to be therein expressed. They may not usurp to themselves a jus divinum, a right of law and authority, which standeth in every church where the Holy Ghost abideth, and where his voice is heard.
Finally, The gift of God for pastorship was in Timothy by the laying on of hands of the eldership. This is the ground upon which the General Assembly requireth of the Presbytery of Annan
to take knowledge of my writings, and, if need be, to call me to their bar; which, if I were not under authority, I were very willing to do, being no wise afraid of what man can do against me, nor ashamed of the testimony of Christ, for which I am marked with their censure. What the eldership or presbytery was, by the laying on of whose hands Timothy was ordained over the church of Ephesus, is manifest from the xx th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, where Paul gives them a charge; from which we learn that they were men whom the Holy Ghost had made overseers over the flock of God in that city, to feed them with the bread of life. They were bishops, or overseers; they were elders, or rulers; and they had a certain, yea, a chief ministry of the word : they were watchmen, to guard the flock from the wolf; and they were ensamples, to walk before the flock, as the apostle had walked before them. To them, in the absence of a pastor or angel to stand over them, as the Apostle had done by the space of three years, and as Timothy now did, belonged the entire care and goverument of the flock of God in that city; and the meeting together of these elders is what is called the presbytery, or eldership. Such an assembly we find convened by James, the angel of the church at Jerusalem, in order to receive Paul: “ And the day following, Paul went in with us unto James, and all the elders were present” (Acts xxi. 18). That Timothy was not one of many heads, but a head unto these the heads of the church of Ephesus, is manifest from the instructions given to him by the Apostle, concerning their ordination, and concerning the proper way of dealing with them; “Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; " and also from the seven epistles, which are addressed, not to many heads, but to one head, standing to the elders and to the church in each city as Christ standeth to the twenty-four crowned elders and the whole congregation of the faithful, as is set forth in the Apocalypse. That this is the function in which the Lord hath set me over my flock, I know from the voice of the Holy Ghost speaking in the church; and I knew it before, from the answer of the Spirit in my conscience to the things written in the vision of the seven churches. Now the eldership of the church of Ephesus, having the complete superintendence thereof, and being the depositaries of all the power and authority, in the absence of a pastor or angel, must resign it into the hands of the pastor or angel, when God shall be pleased to raise up such a one, and set him over them by prophecy and the laying on of the hands of an apostle ; and the act by which they made this solemn surrender is the laying on of their hands, whereby they did transfer into his keeping the power over them, as well as over the whole flock of Christ given into their charge. This was what Timothy received from the hands of the eldership or presbytery; the power which rested
VOL. VI.-NO. 11.