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nately and impenitently persists in his sins, and is therefore to be accounted by you as a heathen man and a publican, according to the command of Christ, Mat. 18. who saith, that whatsoever his ministers shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven.
Further we exhort you beloved christians, to keep no company with him, that he may be ashamed; yet count him not as an enemy, but at all times admonish him as you would a brother. In the mean time let every one take warning by this and such like examples, to fear the Lord, and diligently take heed unto himself, If he thinketh he standeth, lest he fall; but having true fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ, together with all faithful christians, remain stedfast therein to the end, and so obtain eternal salvation. You have seen, beloved brethren and sisters, in what manner this our excommunicated brother has begun to fall, and by degrees is come to ruin; observe therefore, how subtle satan is, to bring man to destruction, and to withdraw him from all salutary means of salvation: guard then, against the least beginnings of evil, “ and laying aside,” according to the exhortation of the apostle, “ every weight and the sin which does so easily beset us, let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; be sober, watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. To-day, if you will hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts, but work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;” and every one repent of his sins, lest our God humble us again, and that we be obliged to bewail some one of you; but that you may with one accord, living in all godliness, be our crown and joy in the Lord.
Since it is God who worketh in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure, let us call upon his holy name with confession of our sins, saying,
high majesty, and acknowledge that we have deserved the grief and sorrow caused unto us by the cutting off of this our late fellow-member : yea, we all deserve, shouldst thou enter into judgment with us, by reason of our great transgressions, to be cut off and banished from thy presence. But, O Lord, thou art merciful unto us for Christ's sake, forgive us our trespasses, for we heartily repent of them, and daily work in our hearts a greater measure of sorrow for them; that we may, fearing thy judgments, wbich thou executest againt the stiff necked, endeavour to please thee: grant us to avoid all pollution of the world, and those who are cut off from the communion of the church, that we may not make ourselves partakers of their sins : god that he, who is excommunicated, may become ashamed of bis sins : and
since thou desirest not the death of a siuner, hut that he may repent and live, and the hosom of thy church is always open for those, who turn away from their wickedness: we therefore hunbly beseech thee, to kindle in our hearts a pious zeal, that we may labour, with good ch istian admonitions and examples, to bring again this excommunicated person on the right way, together with all those, who, through unbelief or dissoluteness of life, go astray.
Give thy blessing to our admonitions, that we may have reason thereby to rejoice again in him, for whom we must now mourn: and that thy holy name may be praised, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath thus taught us to pray-OUR FATHER, &c.
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST.
some time ago our fellow-member N. was cut off from the church of Christ : we cannot now conceal from you, that he, by the above-mentioned remedy, as also by the means of good admonitions and your christian prayers, is come so far, that he is ashamed of his sins, praying us to be re-admitted into the cominunion of the church.
Since we then by the virtue of the command of God, are in duty bound to receive such persons with joy, and it being necessary that good order should be used therein, we therefore give you to understand hereby, that we purpose to loose again the aforementioned excommunicated person from the bond of excommunication, the next time when by the grace of God we celebrate the supper of the Lord, and receive him again into the cominunion of the church; except any one of you, in the mean time, shall show just «cause why this ought not to be done, of which you must give notice to us in due time. In the mean time, let every one thank the Lord, for the mercy shown this poor sinner, beseeching him to perfect his work in him to his eternal salvation. Amen. Afterwards, if no impediment be alleged, the Minister shall proceed to the re
admission of the excommunicated sinner, in the following manner : ELOVED christians, we have the last time informed
you of the repentance of our fellow-member N. to the end that he might with your fore-knowledge be again received into the church of Christ : and whereas no one has alleged any thing why his re-admission ought not to take place, we therefore at present purpose to proceed to the same.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mat. 18, having confirmed the 4 sentence of his church, in the excommunicating of impen
itent sinners, declareth immediately thereupon, that whatsoever his ministers shall loose on earth, shall be. loosed in heaven ; whereby he giveth to understand, that when any person is cut off from his church, he is not deprived of all hopes of salvation ; but can again be loosed from the bonds of condemnation. Therefore, since God declares in his word; that he takes no pleasure in the death of a sinner, but that he turn from his wickedness and live, so the church always hopes for the repentance of the backslidden sinner, and keepeth her bosom open to receive the penitent; accordingly the Apostle Paul, 1 Cor. 5, commanded the Corinthian (whom he had declared ought to be cut off from the church) to be again received and comforted, since being reproved by many, he was come to the knowledge of his sins: to the end that he should not be swallowed up with over much sorrow. 2 Cor. 2.
Secondly. Christ teacheth us in the aforementioned text, that the sentence of absolution, which is passed upon such a penitent sinner according to the word of God, is counied sure and firm by the Lord; therefore, no one ought to doubt in the least, who truly repents, that he is assuredly received by God in mercy, as Christ saith, Johu, chap. 20. Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unte them.
But now to proceed to the matter in hand: I ask thee, N. whether thou dost declare here with all thine heart before God and bis church; that thou art sincerely sorry for the sin and stubbornness, for which thou hast been justly cut off from the church? whether thou dost also truly believe, that the Lord hath forgiven thee, and doth forgive thy sins for Christ's sake, and that thou therefore art desirous to be re-admitted into the church of Christ, promising henceforth to live in all godliness according to the command of the Lord ? Answer. Yes, Verily.
Then the minister shall further say, We then, here assembled in the name and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, declare thee, N. to be absolved from the bonds of excommunication; and do receive thee again into the church of the Lord, and declare unto thee that
in the communion of Christ and of the holy sacraments, and of all the spiritual blessings and benefits of God, which he promiseth to and bestoweth upon his church: may the eternal God preserve thee therein to the sud, through bis only begotten Son Jesus Christ. Amen.
Be therefore assured in thy heart, my beloved brother, that the Lord hath again received thee in mercy. Be diligent henceforward to guard thyself against the subtilty of satan, and the wickeduess of the world, to the end that thou mayest not fall again into sin : love Christ, for many sins are forgiven thee.
And you, beloved christians, receive this your brother with hearty affection ; be glad that he was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found : rejoice with the angels of heaven, over this sinner who repenteth : count him no longer as a stranger, but as a fellow citizen with the saints, and of the household of God.
And whereas we can have no good of ourselves, let us, praising and magnifying the Lord Almighty, implore his mercy, saying, G
RACIOUS God and Father, we thank thee through Jesus Christ, that
thou hast been pleased to give this our fellow brother repentance unto life, and us cause to rejoice in his conversion. We beseech thee, show him thy mercy, that he may become more and more assured in his mind of the remission of his sins, and that he may receive from thence inexpressible joy and delight, to serve thee. And whereas he hath heretofore by bis sins offended many, grant that he may, hy bis conversion, edify many. Grant also that he may stedfastly walk in thy ways, to the end : and may we learn from this example, that with thee is mercy, that thou mayest be leared ; and that we, counting him for our brother and co-heir of life eternal, may jointly serve thee with tilial fear and obedience all the days of our life, through Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose name we thus conclude our prayer–OUR Father, &c.
THE FORM FOR ORDAINING THE MINISTERS OF GOD'S WORD. The sermon and the usual prayers being finished, the Minister shall thus
speak to the congregation. ELOVED brethren, it is known unto you, that we
have now at three different times published the name of our brother N. here present, to learn whether any person had aught to offer concerning his doctrine or life, why he might not be ordained to the ministry of the word. And whereas no one hath appeared before us, who hath alleged any thing lawful against his person, we shall therefore at present, in the name of the Lord, proceed to his ordination; for which purpose, you N. and all those who are here present, shall first attend to a short declaration taken from the word of God, touching the institution and the office of pastors and ministers of God's word; where, in the first place you are to observe, that God our heavenly Father, willing to call and gather a church from amongst
the corrupt race of men unto life eternal, doth by a particular mark of his favour use the ministry of men therein.
Therefore, Paul saith, that the Lord Jesus Christ hath given some apostles and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and ministers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Here we see that the holy. Apostle among other things saith, that the pastoral office is an institution of Christ.
What this holy office enjoins, may easily be gathered from the very name itself; for as it is the duty of a common shepherd, to feed, guide, protect and rule the flock committed to his charge; so it is with regard to these spiritual shepherds, who are set over the church, which God calleth unto salvation, and counts as sheep of his pasture. The pasture, with which these sheep are fed, is nothing else but the preaching of the gospel, accompanied with prayer, and the administration of the holy sacraments; the same word of God is likewise the staff with wbich the flock is guided and ruled, consequently it is evident, that the office of pastors and ministers of God's word is,
First. That they faithfully explain to their flock, the word of the Lord, revealed by the writings of the prophets and the apostles; and apply the same as well in general as in particular, to the edification of the hearers; instructing, admonishing, comforting, and reproving, according to every one's need; preaching repentance towards God, and reconciliation with him through faith in Christ; and refuting with the holy scriptures, all schisms and heresies which are repugvant to the pure doctrine. All this is clearly signified to us in holy writ, for the apostle Paul saith, that these labour in the word ; and elsewhere he teacheth, that this must be done according to the measure or rule of faith; he writes also, that a pastor must hold fast and rightly divide the faithful and sincere word which is according to the doctrine : likewise, he that prophesieth (that is, preacheth God's word) speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation and comfort : in another place he proposes himself as pattern to pastors, declaring that he hath publicly, and from house to house, taught and testified repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ : but particularly we have a clear description of the office, and ministers of God's word, 2 Corinth. chap. 5. 18, 19, and 20th verses, where the apostle thus speaketh, " And all things are of God, who hath re