« PreviousContinue »
pay regard to it, and in all occurrences, which relate to the welfare and good order of the church, to be assistant with their good counsel and advice, to the ministers of the word, yea, also to serve all christians with advice and consolation.
Thirdly. It is also their duty particularly to have regard unto the doctrine and conversation of the ministers of the word, to the end that all things may be directed to the edification of the church; and that no strange doctrine be taught, according to that which we read, Acts 20, where the apostle exhorteth to watch diligently against the wolves, which might come into the sheep-fold of Christ; for the performance of which, the elders are in duty bound diligently to search the word of God, and continually to be meditating on the mysteries of faith.
Concerning the Deacons; of the origin and institution of their office we may read, Acts, 6. where we find that the apostles themselves did in the beginning serve the poor,
“ At whose feet was brought the price of the things that were sold : and distribution was made unto every man, according as he had need. But afterwards, when a murmuring arose, because the widows of the Grecians were neglected in the daily ministration :” men were chosen (by the advice of the apostles) who should make the service of the poor their peculiar business, to the end that the apostles might continually give themselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And this has been continued from that time forward in the church, as appears from Rom. 12. Where the apostle, speaking of this office, saith,“ he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity.” And 1 Cor. 12. 28, speaking of helps, he means those, who are appointed in the church to help and assist the poor and indigent in time of need; from which passages we may easily gather, what the deacon's office is, namely, that they in the first place collect and preserve with the greatest fidelity and diligence, the alıns and goods which are given to the poor : yea, to do their utmost endeavours, that many good means be procured for the relief of the poor.
The second part of their office consists in distribution, wherein are not only required discretion and prudence to bestow the alıns only on objects of charity, but also cheerfulness and simplicity to assist the poor with compassion and hearty affection: as the apostle requires, Rom. chap. 12. and 2 Cor. chap. 9. For which end it is very beneficial, that they do not only administer relief to the poor ami
indigent with external gifts, but also with comfortable words from scripture.
To the end therefore, beloved brethren, N. N. that every one may hear, that you are willing to take your respective offices upon you, ye shall answer to the following questions.
And in the first place I ask you, both elders and deacons, whether ye do not feel in your hearts, that ye are lawfully called of God's church, and consequently of God himself, to these your respective holy offices ?
Secondly. Whether ye believe the books of the old and new testament to be the only word of God, and the perfect doctrine of salvation, and do reject all doctrines repugnant thereto ?
Thirdly. Whether ye promise, agreeably to said doctrine, faithfully, according to your ability, to discharge your respective offices, as they are here described: ye elders in the government of the church together with the ministers of the word : and ye deacons in the ministration to
the poor? Do ye also jointly promise to walk in all godlimr ness, and to submit yourselves, in case ye should become .
remiss in your duty, to the admonitions of the chnrch ?Upon which they shall answer. Yes.
Then the Minister shall say, The Almighty God and Father, replenish you all with his grace, that ye may faithfully and fruitfully discharge C. your respective offices. Amen. tak The Minister shall further exhort them, and the whole congregation, in the
following manner : t.': Therefore, ye elders, be diligent in the government of : ** the church, which is committed to you, and the ministers Of as of the word. Be also, as watchmen over the house and me city of God, faithful to admonish and to caution every one at it against his ruin. Take heed that purity of doctrine and et godliness of life be maintained in the church of God. And, pe ye deacons, be diligent in collecting the alms, prudent and lai cheerful in the distribution of the same: assist the oppress
ed, provide for the true widows and orphans, show liberi'c rality unto all men, but especially to the household of
o cho Be ye all with one accord faithful in your offices, and Po hold the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience, being 1. ch good examples unto all the people. In so doing you hen will purchase to yourselves a good degree, and great boldness
in the faith, which is in Christ Jesus, and hereafter enter into the joy of your Lord. On the other hand, beloved christians, receive these men as servants of God: count the elders that rule well worthy of double honour, give yourselves willingly to their inspection and government. Provide the deacons with good means to assist the indigent. Be charitable, ye rich, give liberally, and contribute willingly. And, ye poor, be poor in spirit, and deport yourselves respectfully towards your benefactors, be thankful to them, and avoid murmuring: follow Christ, for the food of your souls, but not for bread. Let him that hath stolen (or who hath been burthensome to his neighbours) steal no more ; but rather let him labour, working with his hands the things which are good, that he may give to him that needeth. Each of you, doing these things in your respective callings, shall receive of the Lord, the reward of righteous. ness. But since we are unable of ourselves, let us call upon the name of the Lord, saying, thee, for the better edification of thy church, to ordain in it, besides
, the ministers of the word, rulers and assistants, by whom thy church may be preserved in peace and prosperity, and the indigent assisted ; and that thou hast at present granted us in this place, men, who are of good testimony, and we hope endowed with thy spirit. We beseech thee, replenish them more and more with such gifts, as are necessary for them in their ministration; with the gifts of wisdom, courage, discretion, and benevolence, to the end that every one may, in his respective office, acquit himself as is becoming ; the elders in taking diligent heed unto the doctrine and conversation, in keeping out the wolves from the sheep-fold of thy beloved Son; and in admonishing and reproving disorderly persons. In like manner, the deacons in carefully receiving, and liberally and prudently distributing of the alms to the poor, and in comforting them with thy holy word. Give grace both to the elders and deacons, that they may persevere in their faithful labour, and never become weary by reason of any trouble, pain or persecution of the world. Grant also especially thy divine grace to this people, over whom they are placed, that they may willingly submit themselves to the good exhortations of the elders, counting them worthy of honour for their work's sake; give also unto the rich, liberal hearts towards the poor, and to the poor grateful hearts towards those, who help and serve them; to the end that every one acquiting himself of his duty, thy holy name may therehy he inagnified, and the kingdom of thy Son Jesus Christ, enlarged, in whose name we conclude our prayers, &c.
BEFORE THE CHURCH.
of sin, subject to many troubles and afflictions; to the end that you N. and N. who desire to have your marriage-bond publicly confirmed, here in the name of God, before this church, may also be assured in your hearts of the certain assistance of God in your affictions, hear therefore from the word of God, how honourable the marriage state is, and that it is an institution of God, which is pleasing to him. Wherefore he also will (as he hath promised) bless and assist the married persons, and on the contrary, judge and punish whoremongerers and adulterors.
In the first place you are to know, that God our Father, after he had created heaven and earth, and all that in them is, made man in his own image and likeness, that he should havc dominion over the beasts of the field, over the fish of the sea, and over the fowls of the air. And after he had created man, he said, “ It is not good that man should be alone, I will make him an help-meet for him.” And the Lord caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept ; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof. And the rib which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a women, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, this is now tone of my bone, and flesh of my ficsh: she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man. Therefore shall a man, leave his father, and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they two shall he one flesh.”. T'herofore ye are not to doubt, but that the married state is pleasing to the Lord, since he made unto Adam his wife, brought and gave her himself to him to be his wife; witnessing thereby that he doth yet as with his hand bring unto every man his wife. For this reason the Lord Jesus Christ did also highly honour it with his presence, gifts and miracles in Cana of Galilee, to show thereby that this holy state ought to be kept honourably by all, and that he will aid and protect married persons, even vvhen th y arc least deserving it. But that you may live godly in this state, you must know the reasons, wherefore God hath instituted the same. The first reason is, that each faithfully assist the other, in all things that belong to this life, and a better.
Secondly. That they bring up the children, which the Lord shall give them, in the true knowledge and fear of God, to his glory, and their salvation.
Thirdly. That each of them, avoiding all uncleanness and evil lusts, may live with a good and quiet conscience.
For, to avoid fornication, let every Man have his own wife, and
cvery Woman her own husband; insomuch that all, who are come to their years, and have not the gift of continence, are bound by the command of God, to enter into the marriage state, with knowledge and consent of parents, or guardians and friends ; that so the temple of God, which is our body, may not be defiled ; for, whosoever defileth the temple of God, hin shall God destroy.
Next, you are to know, how each is bound to behave respectively towards the other, according to the word of God.
First. You, who are the bridegroom, must know, that God hath set you to be the head of your wife, that you, according to your ability, shall lead her witb discretion; instructing, comforting, protecting her, as the head rules the body; yea, as Christ is the head, wisdom, consolation and assistance to his church. Besides, you are to love your wife as your own body, as Christ hath loved his Church: : you shall not be bitter against her, but dwell with her as a man of understanding, giving honour to the wife as the weaker vessel, considering that ye are joint heirs of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered; and since it is Goils command, “ that the man shall eat his bread in the sweat of his face," ther fore you are to labour diligently and faithfully in the calling, wherein God hath set you, that you may maintain your household honestly, and likewise have something to give to the poor.
In like manner, must you, who are the bride, know, how you are to carry yourself towards
your husband, according to the word of God: you are to love your lawful husband, to lionour and fear him, as also to be oliedient unto him in all lawful things, as to your Lord, as the body is obedient to the head, and the church to Christ. You shall not exercise any dominion over your husband, but be silent: for Adam was first created, and then Eve to be an help to Adam;" and after the fall, God said to Eve, and in her to all women,
your will shall be subject to your husband;" you shall not resist this ordinance of God, but be obedient to the word of God, and follow the exramples of godly women, who trusted in God, and were subject to their husbands ; “ as Sarah was obedient to Abraham, calling him her lord :":