Page images
PDF
EPUB

nance to pronounce a benediction at the close of the service, though there is no special direction respecting it in the Scriptures.(i)

Q. 19. "In what posture is the Lord's Supper to be received?

A. The posture is of itself indifferent. Sitting is the most convenient attitude, and the one most conformable to the example of Christ and the Apostles. The Roman Catholics kneel in adoration of the element; Protestant Christians who use this posture, of course, associate with it no such idolatry.

Q. 20. At what time in the day should the Lord's Supper be celebrated!

A. The time is not material. The Scriptures lay no stress on this point. Convenience may determine. To say it must be administered in the evening, or towards sunsetting, because it was at that time first administered is to argue that the Sacrament must also be always administered in an upper room, and to twelve persons only, for this was really the fact when the Sacrament was first observed. There is as much reason for observing the latter circumstances as the former circumstance. No evidence that the evening is the time for observing the Sacrament, is to be derived from its being called Supper. The ancients had but two meals in a day, and supper was their principal meal, as dinner is ours. The Lord's Supper may, therefore, be lawfully administered at noon, in the evening, or at any other time. Q. 21.

How often is the Sacrament to be administered?

A. The Scriptures are not particular and definite on this subject. It seems to be left to the discretion of the Churches. The Sacrament appears to have been administered weekly by the Apostles. This probably arose from the fact that they were just introducing Christianity,

(i) Matt. xxvi. 26-30. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body And he took the cup, and gave thauks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until thai day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

establishing churches, and journeying from place to place. Perhaps, in the present day, in Christian countries, the celebration of the Lord's Supper should not be oftener than once a month, or once in two months.(j)

CHAPTER XXXI.

Church Government.

Q. 1. What is meant by Church government?

A. The form, order and discipline by which the church manages its spiritual concerns.

Q. 2. Where are the principles of Church government prescribed?

A. In a general view, they are prescribed in the Sacred Scriptures. Ecclesiastical polity is not of human, but of Divine origin. Civil and political laws are not at all to be regarded in ecclesiastical affairs. The exact form of ecclesiastical government, in all particulars, is to be determined by Christians from the general rules and principles established in the word of God.(a)

Q. 3. What are the proper officers of a Church?

A. A Pastor and Deacons. These may be called the ordinary officers of the Church, as Prophets and Apostles are called extraordinary. The latter officers ceased with the primitive age of the Christian Church; but the former will continue to the close of time.(6)

(i) Acts xx. 7. And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them.

(a) Ezek. xliii. 11. And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, show them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof; and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them.Matt. xvi. 19. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

(b) Philip. i. 1. Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.-Eph. iv. 11. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.

Q. 4. Has a Church the right, power, and privilege to choose its own officers, and govern all its concerns?

A. It undoubtedly has. The very idea of a Church implies, that every thing which affects the common good of the same, should be transacted by it as a whole. This was acknowledged even by the apostles themselves, although they had received of the Lord special injunctions and peculiar authority, to direct the affairs of the Church.(c)

Q. 5. Whence does a Church derive this right, power, and privilege?

A. From Christ its Lawgiver and King (d)

Q. 6. Can a Church with propriety surrender its right, power, and privilege to choose its own officers, and manage all its concerns?

A. It cannot without disloyalty to Christ, its Lawgiver and King.

Q. 7. What constitutes a person a Pastor of a Church?

A. Election to the pastoral office by the Church, of which he is to be Pastor, and his acceptance of, and investiture with, said office.

Q. 8. In what way, and by whom, is this investiture with the pastoral office made?

A. By ordination, or by prayer and imposition of hands by regular ministers of the gospel.(e)

Q. 9. Why is the Pastor of a Church called by different names in the Scriptures, as Bishop, Pastor, Min

(c) See reference a.

(d) Is. ix. 6, 7. For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace.

of the increase of his government and peace there shall he no end; upon the throne of David, and upon bis kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth even forever.-Is. xxxiii. 22. For the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King, he will save us.-Eph. i. 22. And bath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.

(e) 1 Tim. iv. 14. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.–Acts xiii. 2, 3. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasied, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Paul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

ister, Watchman, Elder, Teacher, Steward, and Ambassador?

A. To represent the various duties of his office, and not inequality in authority or rank. He is called Bishop, from the oversight he is to take; Pastor, from the spiritual food he is to administer; Minister, from the service he is to render; Watchman, from the vigilance he is to exercise; Elder, from the grave and prudent example he is to set; Teacher, from the instructions he is to give; Steward, from the mysteries or manifold grace he is to dispense; Ambassador, from the treaty of reconciliation and peace he is sent to effect.(f)

Q. 10. What are the principal duties of a Minister of Christ?

A. They are preaching the Gospel, leading in public prayer, administering the sacraments, baptism and the Lord's Supper, visiting the sick, attending funerals, performing marriage ceremonies, giving private instruction in religious things, especially to the young, and watching over all the spiritual concerns of the people.(g) Q. 11.

Has a minister of the Gospel a right to a maintenance from the people to whom he dispenses the word and ordinances?

A. He has; and his maintenance should not be viewed as a matter of alms and free gift, but as a debt, justly and honorably due. A people are not at liberty to neg. lect this duty, for God has imposed it upon them, and they cannot omit it without sin. And all who share in his labors should contribute to his support. (h)

(f) 1 Tim. iii. 1. This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.—Jer. iii. 15. And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding:-1 Cor. iv 1. Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.Ezek iii. 17. Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel.—1 Pet. v. 1. The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder.—Eph. iv. 11. And he gave some-teachers.--2 Cor. v. 20. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

(g) 2 Tim. iv. 2. Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.Acts xx. 20. And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly; and from house to house.

(h) Mait. x. 9, 10. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither

Q. 12. Ought the Deacons of Churches to be ordained?

A. They ought. Every deacon should be solemnly invested with the office, to which he has been previously elected, by the imposition of hands and prayer by the Pastor (0)

Q. 13. What are the duties of Deacons?

A. They are to distribute the elements at the communion table, to receive the contribution, made from time to time for the poor and necessitous, to manage all the temporal affairs of the Church, and to assist, in all suitable ways, in promoting the interests of religion.

Q. 14. To whom does the power of executing the laws of Christ in Church government belong?

A. It belongs to the Church as a body. Perhaps it may, in some instances,

be
proper

for the Church to appoint a Committee to assist in the services of government and discipline.(j)

Q. 15. Is it proper for women to vote and act in the decisions of the Church?

A. It is not. This belongs to the male members only, as appears from the instructions of God's word, and from the practice of His people under the Jewish dispensation, in the days of Christ and His Apostles, and in

shoes, nor yet staves; for the workman is worthy of his meat.—1 Cor. ix. 7, 11, 14. Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of ihe fruit thereof; or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.—1 Tim. v. 18. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And the laborer is worthy of his reward.—Gal. vi. 6. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.

(i) Acts vi. 246. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom ye may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte of Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

(j) See reference a and o.

« PreviousContinue »