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prophesieth, speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort, &c. He edifieth the church, &c. Forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church, &c. If all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, &c. he is convinced of all, &c. he will report that God is in you of a truth. How is it then, brethren, when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, &c. Let all things be done to edifying, &c. Let the prophets speak, two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God, &c. Let your women keep silence in the churches, &c. Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, &c. Let all things be done decently, and in order.1 Cor. xiv. 1. 3-5. 12. 23-26. 29-34. 37. 39, 40.
We also believe, and therefore speak.-2 Cor. iv. 13.
As ye abound in every thing, in faith, in utterance, and knowledge, &c.-2 Cor. viii. 7.
Be ye filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms, &c. singing, &c.-Eph. v. 18, 19.
Many of the brethren in the Lord waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some, indeed, preach Christ out of envy, &c. What then? &c. Christ is preached, and I therein do rejoice, &c.-Phil. i. 14-18.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another.-Col. iii. 16. Comfort (or exhort) one another with these words.-1 Thess. v. 11. Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, &c. But exhort one another daily, while it is called to day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.-Heb. iii. 12, 13.
For when, for the time, ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God.— Heb. v. 12..
Let us consider one another, &c. not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another; and so much the more, &c.—Heb. x. 24, 25.
As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God: if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth, that God in all things may be glorified.-1 Pet. iv. 10, 11.
EIGHTHLY. Of other Acts done in, and by these particular Churches, in sending Messengers to other Churches; and, upon occasion, determining Controversies in religious Matters; writing, and sending Epistles, and ordering other Affairs. Of their meeting together, in order hereto, and receiving, and hearing such Epistles: the Epistles directed to the whole Body.
When tidings of the Gentiles receiving the gospel came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem, they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch, &c. When the dearth came which was prophesied of, the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea. Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.Acts xi. 22. 28–30.
Paul and Barnabas coming to Antioch, gathered the church together, and rehearsed all that God had done for them, and how, &c.-Acts xiv. 26, 27.
When the matter of circumcision was in dispute in the church at Antioch, they determined that Paul and
Barnabas, and certain others of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders, about this question. And being brought on their way by the church, &c. when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles, &c. All the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, &c. Then James spake, &c. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch, &c. and wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles, and elders, and brethren, send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles, &c. It seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you, &c. it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us, &c. They came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle. Acts xv. 1—4. 6. 12, 13. 22, 23. 25. 27, 28. 30.
If then ye have judgment of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.-1 Cor. vi. 4.
When I come, whomsoever you shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.-1 Cor. xvi. 3.
We have sent with him the brother, &c. who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us, with this grace (or gift), &c. Whether any do inquire, &c. of our brethren, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.-2 Cor. viii. 18,
I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, &c. your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. Phil. ii. 25.
When this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea. And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast
received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.-Col. iv. 16, 17.
I charge you by the Lord, that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.-1 Thess. v. 27.
Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints.-Heb. xiii. 24.
Peter, having written at large to the saints, speaks distinctly to the elders thus: The elders which are among you, I exhort, &c. to feed the flock of God, &c.-1 Pet. v. 1—3.
I wrote unto the church, but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not: wherefore if I come, I will remember his deeds, &c. and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil.—3 John 9-11.
John wrote to the seven churches in Asia distinctly, though they were in one country, and charges each church with its own guilt, and commends each church by itself: takes no notice of any power that any had over other. He directs his epistles to the angel of the church; but the matter he speaks to the whole church : and concludes, Hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.-Rev. i. 4. ii. iii.
See more of Church Acts in Discipline.
NINTHLY. Of the ending of Controversies arising between the Members of the Church to avoid going to Law before the Infidels.
Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know, that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters ? Know ye not, that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? &c. Set them to
judge, who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame: Is it so that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren: but brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now, therefore, there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another: why do ye not rather take wrong? &c.1 Cor. vi. 1-8.
TENTHLY. Of the Relief of the Poor of the Churches; and their Contributions to the Necessity of other Churches, and the Order of it.
And the multitude of them that believed, were of one heart, and one soul: neither said any of them, that ought of the things which he possessed was his own: but they had all things common, &c. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands, or houses, sold them, and brought the prices, &c. and laid them down at the apostle's feet and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.-Acts iv. 32. 34, 35.
The price of the land? While it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou? &c.Acts v. 1-4.
When the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Whereupon the church chose deacons to look to this matter.-Acts vi. 1-6. The disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren, &c.-Acts xi. 28-30.
These hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that, so labouring, ye ought to support the weak; and to remember the words of the Lord Je
sus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.-Acts xx. 34, 35.
It hath pleased them of Macedonia, and Achaia, to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.-Rom. xv. 25, 26.
Now, concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye; upon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in that there be no gathering when Í store, as God hath prospered him, come.-1 Cor. xvi. 1, 2.
By occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love for ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, &c. Not that other men be eased, and you burdened: but by an equality, &c.—2 Cor. viii. 8, 9. 13, 14.
Every man, according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity for God loveth a cheerful giver, &c. The administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but it is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God, &c. They glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ.—2 Cor. ix. 7. 12, 13.
If any would not work, neither should he eat, &c. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing, &c.— 2 Thess. iii. 10—13.
If any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents, &c. If any provide not for his own, &c. If any man or woman that believeth, have widows, let them relieve them; and let not the church be charged, that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.-1 Tim. v. 4. 8. 16.
ELEVENTHLY. Of the Officers of particular Churches, their Power, Duty, and Recompense: how they should be qualified for the Office; and of the Churches' Duty to them as such.
I. Of the Officers, Power, Duties, &c. I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. -Jer. iii. 15. xxiii. 4. John xxi. 15, 16. Thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.-Ezek. ii. 7. Levit. x. 11. ·
I have made thee a watchman, &c. give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, &c. and thou givest him not warning, &c. his blood will I require at thine hand: yet if thou warn, &c.-Ezek. iii. 17-19.
They shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean, &c. and they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all mine assemblies, &c. Ezek. xliv. 23, 24. Jer. xv. 19. Levit. x. 8-10.
Their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 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 of wisdom, &c. but we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and the ministry of the word. Acts vi. 1-4. Paul sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church; and when they were come to him, he said unto them, &c. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers (or bishops), to feed the church of God, &c. I know this, that after my departing, grievous wolves shall enter in among you, &c. therefore watch, &c. and I have
shewed you all things, how that, so labouring, ye ought to support the weak; and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is. more blessed to give than to receive. -Acts xx. 17, 18. 28-31. 35.
Let us wait on our ministering; or he that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation, &c. he that ruleth, with diligence, &c.— Rom. xii. 7, 8.
It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.-1 Cor. iv. 2.
God hath set some in the church:
first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, &c. helps, governments.-1 Cor. xii. 28.
He gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, &c.-Eph. iv. 11-14.
To all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.-Phil. i. 1.
Say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.-Col. iv. 17.
Neither give heed to fables, and endless genealogies; which minister questions, rather than godly edifying, &c. from which some having swerved, have turned aside unto vain jangling. 1 Tim. i. 4. 6.
If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work: a bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife; vigilant, sober, of good behaviour (or modest); given to hospitality, apt to teach ; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre, but patient: not a brawler, not covetous : one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?' not a novice (or one newly come to the
faith), lest, being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre, holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience: and let these also first be proved, then let them use the office, &c. let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.-1 Tim. iii. 1—13.
If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister, &c. but refuse profane and old wives' fables, &c. Be thou an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, &c. give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine, &c. meditate upon these things give thyself wholly unto them, &c. take heed unto thyself and thy doctrine.-1 Tim. iv. 6, 7. 11-13. 15, 16.
Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father, and the younger men as brethren the elder women, &c. Let the elders that rule well, be counted worthy of double honour; especially they that labour in the word and doctrine.—1 Tim. v. 1, 17.
O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust: avoiding profane and vain babblings.-1 Tim. vi. 20.
I put thee in remembrance, that thou stir up the gift of God which is in thee, &c.-2 Tim. i. 6, 7.
The things that thou hast heard of me, among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also, &c. a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth; but shun profane and vain babbling, &c. The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men apt to teach, patient (or forbearing), in meekness, instructing those that oppose themselves, if God peradventure, &c.—2 Tim. ii. 2. 15, 16. 23-25.
Ordain elders in every city, as I
had appointed thee. If any be blameless, &c. not accused of riot, or unruly for a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God: not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine; no striker, not given to filthy lucre, but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; holding fast the faithful. word, as he hath been taught that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort, and to convince the gainsayers.-Titus i. 5—9.
Shewing thyself a pattern of good works; in doctrine, uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech that cannot be condemned, &c. these things speak and exhort, and rebuke with all authority.-Titus ii. 7, 8. 15.
Them that have the rule, &c. watch for your souls, as they that must give account.-Heb. xiii. 17.
Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, &c.James v. 14.
The elders which are among you, I exhort, &c. feed the flock of God, which is among you (or as much as in you is); taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly: not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords (or over-ruling) over God's heritage, but being examples of the flock.1 Pet. v. 1-4.
Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence, receiveth us not.3 John 9, 10.
SECT. II. Complaints of, and Threat
enings against, evil Officers, or Ministers of the Church.
His watchmen are blind, they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs: they cannot bark, sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber: yea, they are greedy dogs, which can never have enough; and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his own gain from his quarter: come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we