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an opportunity of judging, as presbyters, in the cause. . m
"I verily (said he) have judged already".— What was his judgment ?—" To deliver such an "one unto Satan."—By what authority was this sentence to be pronounced ?—" In the name of our "Lord Jesus."—When was it actually to pass ?— "When ye (says he) are gathered together," before Timotheus, Stephanus, Fortunatus, and Achaius, 1 Cor. xvi. 10, 17. your immediate superiors ia the Lord, to accuse and afle judgment against your back-Hidden brother. The apo/lle adding, "and *' my spirit," must be understood, as he expressed before, of his being present with them in spirit. Intimating, that his prayers mould attend them, wherever and whenever, the Presbytery of Corinth mould conveen them, for the purposes mentioned.
Besides, by a careful attention to the 2d and 6ife Verses, it will appear to be highly probable, that the whole intermediate passage is a parenthesis, interrupting Paul's reproof to the Corinthians, by telling them what he had judged, and what, according to his judgment, behoved to be done. "Ye are puffed up, and have not mourned," were the articles of his charge against them, as expressed in the first ; and "your glorying is not good," Was the sentiment he formed of their temper and practice, as expressed in the last of these verles.
The duty of the believing Corinthians, in their
firivate capacity, wi'h respect to the unhappy deinquent, was at the same time, pointed out with such precision, as they miyht easily distinguish it from the part which was incumbent on their officebearers, and quite peculiar to them. 'They were indeed commanded to " put away^ u from among" thcmielves, " that wicked person" r.<t . But But the lease in which they were to do so, as distinguished from the act of excommunication, which their office bearers; alone, could pass, is explained by the apostle. "I wrote unto you (said he)' "not to company with fornicators," v'ers. 9. and "now 1 have written unto you, not to keep com"pany, if any mao, that is called a brother, be a "fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a "railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner.-with; "such an one, no not to eat," vers. it.
ThJs, as distinguished from the more immediate effects of ministerial excommunication, might have a particular relpect to such intercourse as was con' fined to things of a secular natHre :—especially, since it is thus qualified by the apostle,-" Yet "not altogether with the fornicators of this world, "or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with "idolaters? for then must ye nerds go out of the "world," vers. 10. Intimating that, though it be lawful for saints to mingle, occasionally, with wicked and prosane persons, who pretend not to be Christians; -they mould by no means take even such notice of any professor of religion, whose practice gives the lie to his profession. They should note such a person, "and have no company with "hi,m," directly or indirectly, "that he may be "ashamed," 2 Thtff iii. i-J.
It may sarther be pled, for the brethren's right to act as Judges in matters of discipline, that, to the churches of Galatia, the apostle said, — "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a sault,- -ye, "which are spiritual, restore such a one, in the "spirit of meekness," Gal. vi. t.
It is observable, that Paul does not there & much as speak of any one, in these churches, who was, it that time, in such circumstances as needed the interposition exhorted to; nor of any church ern
sure sere which they were, tp take off. He only supposed a case that might cast up, and represented theit duty ia such an event.
The case supposed is, that some man might be overtaken in a sault ;-•-». e. without intending it,ywithout approving of it, or continuing in it. This gloss is not only justified by the word itself * but jjbore than insinuated by the argument used, -
lest thou also be tempted," GaK vi. 1.
But, it seems to be uncertain if the apostle consults his view here to church members at all. It is rather probable, that he extends it to all, - -whether of the church or the world. Accordingly, he does not say, If a brother, but, " if a man," whether a brother or not, " be overtaken."
Nay, it is more than probable, that the men of the world are pointed out in the cafe supposed,— becausePaul calls the brethren spiritual, as a proper contrast to carnal, which is the distinguishing characteristic of the world. And if this was the case, no ministerial deed, restoring such a one, could have ^een competent absolution being a privilege peculiar to church-members.
The brethren's duty, as recommended in that passage, is very sar from being expressive of a ministeral deed. "Restore such a one," only says, that wherever such a case occurred, they should, according to their opportunities and abilities, endeavour to apprize the m m of his sault ;—by telling it tff him alone, or if needful, before two of the brethren ;—to put him upon the way of escaping from the snare in which he was taken !— to furnish him with arguments for repelling the temptation afterwards ;—to pray for him, at least, if not -with him, that these endeavours might succeed ;—and to da all somuch " in the spirit of meekness," as it should
have Eo irritating tendency ; but keep him from being " swallowed np with over-much sorrow,** 2 Cor. ii. 7.
This paraphrase will be fully justified from the way in which the verb is applied in other postages. Particularly, by Matthew, when he tells us, thari "Jesus saw two brethren mending their nets Matth.iv. a 1. Intimating, that Christians, by ad*| vice, reproof, warning, encouragement, examples and prayer, (hould endeavour to mend whatever they lee amiss in any maD.
That the effice-bear er 1 at Antiocb, a: distinguished from the brethren, in that church, had a right to have given judgement in the important cause; at appears from a celebrated precedent of the same court, vihich our historian hath happily preserved.
While they, says he, ministred to the Lord "and sasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me* ,*' Barnabas and Saul for the work whei eunto I have "called them;—and, when they had sasted and "prayed, and laid their hands on them, they serit "them away," Acts xiii. 2, 3.'
Where, it is obsetvable, that the order was ^pot given to the church or disciples, butto the office-bearers, at Antioch. And that we might labour under no uncertainty, as to the proper constituent mefebers of that presbytery, the sederunt is marked and their names are recorded —" Barnabas, namely, "Simeon, Lucius, Manaen, and Saul," Acts xiii. t.
Nor is it jess worthy of no'ice, that these presbyters. Simeon, viz. Lucius, and Manaen, without the assistance of one private church-member, carried