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** counted worthy of double honour; especially, *' they -who labour in -word and dotlrine," 1 Tim v, 16.—1. e. who not only rule well, as do both: but who labour also, as do only pastors and teachrrs.
Nor is the ruling more included in the teaching 'cider, than both their offices were in the office of the apostles.
Accordingly, Peter took this designation to himself ;—and took it with such precision as makes it evident, that he meant to have it particularly attended to in the churches. "The-«|ders (said he ".to the scattered tribes) which are among f)pn, I
exhort, who am also an elder" 1 Pet. v. 1. #Ai •two different letters, the one to an elect Lady and her children, and the other to Gaius, the well beloved, John called himself,"" the elder" 1 John i. 2, 3. 'And, at an earlier period than either of these, we find the same designation given to all the apostles, without exception. When the disciples in Syria had raised a contribution for the poor saints in Judeai *f they sent it to the.elders," i. e. the apostles, " by "the hands of Barnabas and Saul," Acts xii. 30. ,
Moreover, in the deliverance now under view, there was a reference, in order to obtain such decijion as might be effetlually binding on all concerned.
This, we apprehend, is such a natural consequence of the subordination formerly established, that sarther reasoning upon it would be superfluous. To suppose, that the presbyters at Antioch referred their cause to the synod at Jerusalem, as their superiors in the Lord,—and yet, that they were not resolved to acquiesce in their judgement; is to suppose, that they referred the cause, and kept it in their own hand at the same time :—than which nothing could be imagined more ridiculous and inconsistent.
And, therefore, without straining the historian's M words, .words, their fending commissioners to Jerusalem abutt this question, was not onlyto obtaia a judgment of the apostles and elders,.—but intended to express thtir .purpose of acquiescence, into whatever scale the fynodicai decree stiould cast the ba, lance.
* This doctrine does not, in the least, incroach upon the full right of discipline that every gofpcl
: church hath within herself. For, when a referenc, complaint, appeal, or whatever men please to call
-, it, comes to a presbytery it comes only to a larger
; fission when it goes to a synod, it goes only to a larger presbytery;—and, if it is brought to a General Assembly, it is brought only to a larger synod,—or an assemblage of all the sessions, repre
, senting their respective congregations—which is neither more nor less than the whole church judging in an affair relating more immediately, tosome mem,ier or part of it.
If teferences, complaints, or appeals, were to be brought, from a decision of the church of Scotland, to the church of England, or any other different church in Europe ;—-then, indeed, it would argue, that the church from whence they were taken had not, under the immediate headship of Christ, full power of discipline within herself. But, as long as the appeal, reserence, or complaint is confined to any judicature within thesame church,-it is equally -reasonable, as if the church had consisted of one congregation only. I
JI%at ester the commiffwners, from Antioch, had reached the metropolis of Judea,—produced their credentials.—and opened up their cause ;—The
Syuod "cd great joy unto all the brethren," Acts x*. J.
Accordingly, it appears, that, in this % promiscuous assembly, these commissioners saithfully dis* charged the trust reposed in them, -by declaring, on the one hand, "all things that God had done "with them," vers. 4. ki converting the Gentiles thro' their ministry :—and, on the other, represent* ing how some alledged, '* that it was needful to cir"cumche" the Gentile converts, "and to command "them to keep the laws of Moses," vers, 5. Th* 'success of the gospel was told for the edification and comfort of all the church; and the question, in debate, clearly stated for the information of thje apostles and elders.
The commissioners from Syria having done their duty, it is next worthy of our particular notice, that those disciples, and these office bearers, immediately acted, according to their respective provinces, in this important affair. 1 11^
The church, we said, or brethren, at Jerusalem, had a peculiar interest in the hi/lory of the gospel, both as to it's spread and success ;---and, therefore, they (eem to have confined their attention to that ground of the Christian joy, alone.
If the 4th and 12th yerles of the chapter are viewed together, this observation, concerning the disciples, will appear in a clear and strong light.
In the former, we are told, that the commissioners from Antioch "declared," in a full meeting of the church, as well as of the apostles and elders, "all things that God had done with them." And in the latter, that all "the multitude kept.silence, "and gave audience to Barnabas and Saul, declar* ing"—What disputes they had, at Antioch, about circumcision; and the reference that w'as made of the cause, to the synod of Judea ?—By nomeans, ,—But declaring, "what 1 miracles and wonders I 4 "God *• Godiiad wrought amongst the Gentiles, by them." -^In this historical pait, only, the church or multitude had immediate concern; and, therefore, to jr, exclusively; they are said to have list'ned.
As the disciples acted according to their proper province, with respect to the history,—the apostles and elders acted, likewise, according to theirs, with respect to the reference from Antioch.
Having! heard the question, as represented,--it is not' laid, that they and the multitude proceeded to the consideration of it ;---but expressly affirmed, That "the apostles and'elders came together for "to consider of this matter," Acts xv. 6.
In that scderunt, indeed, as transmitted by the historian, the particular members of court are not condescended on; but then, their distinguishing qualities are expressly mentioned. They were ok either apostles or elders. No word of the church in general, nor of disciples in particular;-- the apostles and elders alone were referred unto; and therefore,, they alone, entered on the consideration of the cause.
The manner, in which these venerable ecclesiastics proceeded in the afsair, salls now under vkw.
They did not all at once form their judgments; — did not, upon a bare hear-say, come to a sentence t but, lying open to such light as should be cast upon either side of the question by the views which different members might have of it,—they convened, and convened as a court of Christ properly constituted, to weigh the whole^circumstances in the balance of the sanctuary.
The difference in judgment, which prevailed at Antioch, was kept in countenance, by the like variety of sentiments, which appeared, also, amongst the apostles and elders at Jerusalem; For, though the historian hath neither transmitted an account of M 3 the