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more feeling than he really posses- the distribution of alms, not the gir. ses; that is, he must be a man ing of private charity, as is evident of a frank and sincere disposition from the injunction to do it with Not given to much wine, but habitu- impartiality. To a fourth, ruling ally self-denying, sober and trust- my nuwv, taking the lead, having the worthy. Not greedy of filthy lucre. care of others. To a fifth, doing He is by his office a servant of the acts of kindness, such as visiting church. His first concern is to the sick, James v. 14, and other take care for the well being of the like duties. And the exhortation church; which cannot be if his is that each one should be content. soul is bent upon the acquisition of ed with his appropriate sphere of wealth. A bustling, worldly-mind- service.--Morus. ed deacon is as much out of place In 1 Cor. xii. 28, we have anothas a scheming, thriving minister. er enumeration of church officers, Holding the mystery of the faith in in which we have no mention of a pure conscience, well acquainted deacons by that name, but are told even with the difficult parts of the. of several gifts and employments, ology, and having piety proportion which do not belong to the gospel ed to his knowledge. Probably ministry. Of course they belonged that he might teach and guide the to the order of deacons. And such new converts and the youth. Ru- of them as do not require miraculing or superintending his children lous powers, helps and governments and his own house well. This must for instance, are still the appropribe for the same reason as is men- ate duties of deacons. The kind tioned in verse 5, that he might of government which either deacons consistently watch over the church. or any others, are allowed by Christ It is not credible that all these to exercise in his church, may be qualifications are required for an learned from Mark x. 42–44. office of which the sole duty is to In Eph. iv. 11, either the pastors disburse the funds and keep the and teachers were ministers and accounts of the church.
deacons, or the apostle in enume4. Incidental mention of the office rating the gifts of the ascending in the scriptures. This view of the Saviour, has wholly omitted the general obligations and duties of important gift of deacons. deacons is further corroborated by In 1 Tim. iii. 4, 5, it is required a variety of passages, in which the that a bishop should know how to officers, diaxovor, of the church are rule, (superintend, have the care mentioned.
of; Robinson's Lexicon,) his own Romans xii. 6--8. Rosenmuller house, that he may know how to susays, “ The apostle makes two perintend the church. In verse 8, classes of Christians who enjoyed the same qualification is required gifts, prophets and deacons.” It in a deacon, and therefore obviousis highly probable that all the du- ly for the same reason. Of course ties contained in verses 7-8, be it is the duty of deacons to rule or longed in that age to the office of superintend the church. In 1 Tim. deacon, and that some departments v. 17, those who rule or superinof duty were more particularly as- tend well are counted worthy of signed to different individuals, who double honour. And one class of yet all bore the general name and them more especially, viz. those office of deacon. To one, the duty who labour in word and doctrine. of teaching the proselytes, or new All the officers are to receive honconverts, the young, &c. To anoth- our, but the ministers more. The er, that of exhorting in a serious and others who rule well are the faithaffectionate manner. To a third, ful and energetic deacons. In 1
Thess. V. 12, a similar regard is that churches generally choose reenjoined toward all the officers of spectable men for deacons. The the church, without any distinction men do not magnify their office by in favour of ministers. Know them making it useful. But they dignify which labour with you, are over it, by holding it, otherwise it would you, and admonish you.
fall into contempt. For it is imposThat the deacons were to be in sible to make men long venerate some way teachers is evident from that which does no good except by the requisition that they should hold the personal character of those who the mystery of the faith, that is, hold it. But this exhibition of the should understand even the diffi- office elevates the office by making cult parts of the Christian doctrine. it useful, and responsible, and es
In 1 Pet. iv. 10, 11, the apostle sential to the well being of a church. exhorts the officers of the church, The view which I have given is or those who have gifts, under the that which was entertained in the common appellation of stewards of ancient church. So says Dr. Dwight, the manifold grace of God. He Theol. IV. 293.-" Ancient ecclewho preaches is to make the scrip- siastical writers style deacons, mintures his guide, he who ministers, isters of the mysteries of Christ, of diaxoves, or discharges the office of the episcopate, and of the church. deacon, is to do his duty with ener. They evidently sustained the chargy and faithfulness.
acter of assistants to the minister. Mosheim paraphrases the text, This being admitted, the nature of 1 Pet. v. 5. Ye deacons, perform the case may sufficiently explain cheerfully the orders of the presby. the kind of assistance, from time to ters. See Luke xxii. 26.
time, to be furnished.” The brother mentioned in 2 Cor. All deacons who possess the qualviii. 18—20, was chosen (ordained, ifications which are pointed out by the same word is rendered in Acts the apostle in 1 Tim. iij. and who xiv. 23,) to perform the office of a have zeal to discharge this office as deacon, (Robinson's Lex.) in re of the ability which God giveth, do gard to a certain charitable contri in fact exemplify this view of the bution, that he might take off every subject. appearance of evil, and prevent all How many of our churches have foundation or even suspicion of re- occasion to bless God for sending proach against the apostle. The them good deacons. When their service was performed by this dea- minister has been inefficient and con with Paul's advice and concur- backward, or in feeble health, or rence. Rom. xv. 25. So that Paul removed by some of the vicissitudes felt a responsibility in the business. of this changing world, their faithBut the care and labour rested on ful and zealous deacons have come the deacon. Ros. in loc.
forward to make up the deficiency. And this view of the office of dea. And if blessed with a good miniscon seems to me to be consistent ter, how have they strengthened his with reason. According to the pre- hands, and relieved his mind from vailing views of the office, it is at pre- a thousand cares and labours, and sent a mere sinecure, nothing more left him free to give himself conthan a title of honour. No important tinually to prayer and the ministry duties are assigned to it. Deacons of the word. And in doing this, so perform, and are expected to per- far from pressing beyond the line of form, no labours, in consequence their official duty, they have rather of holding their office. Of course been doing just what they were inthe office itself has no honour, ex- tended for by the great Head of the cepting what arises from the fact church. No good minister ever
found intelligent deacons inclined church in every Christian duty, and to take upon themselves too much to superintend and manage all the responsibility for the welfare of the concerns of the body corporate. church.
They are like Selectmen, to manThe deacons have, therefore, a age the prudentials of the church. real responsibility attached to their They are general standing agents, office. Take the case of a vacant whose proper duty it is to superinchurch. It is evident that in such tend, mpoornvar the affairs of the circumstances, the care of the church. They are to be themselves church is thrown wholly upon the the first to lead the way, and then deacons. And this seems a wise to see that the rest follow. They provision. The pastoral office, be- are to take the lead in watching ing held for the most part by an over the members, in promoting the individual, must be often vacant, edification of the stedfast, the disBut the deacons are more perma- cipline of the erring, and the restonent, and are never all changed at ration of the declining and backslia time. If a church has a good ders. They should be the first to board of deacons, who take scriptu- devise and set forward measures for ral views of their office, the change all the operations of the church. of ministers will be far less injuri- both external and internal. They ous than is common. The deacons should be patterns of charity, zealwill still feel themselves responsi- ous for the spread of the gospel, ble' for seeing every good work go and skilful to devise and execute on just as if they had a pastor, so measures for that purpose. They that they can deliver over the va- ought to have the chief direction of cant church to their new pastor in all those operations by which the as flourishing a state as they recei- church seeks her own prosperity and ved it. They can take him by the increase. They should arrange and hand, while he is yet ignorant of its superintend the sunday school, and condition. They can be his privy every other provision which the council, not a dead weight upon church makes for the religious inhis hands, to be lifted and shoved struction of the rising generation; along, but counsellors, zealous for appoint and conduct religious conthe cause, ready to give an opin- ferences and prayer-meetings, and ion, and willing to assume an inde- in concert with the pastor, keep pendent responsibility, and prompt the whole of that machinery in vig. to discover and undertake every orous motion ; visit from house to thing which needs to be done.-- house for the purpose of admonishThus all those two or three years ing or encouraging the brethren, of time will be saved, which are awakening the careless, and solicinow so often lost by a new minister ting the attention of the indifferent. in becoming acquainted with the They ought to be qualified and al-' church, and acquiring a personal ways ready, to give instruction to influence with them. Things which inquiring sinners, to be the leaders now go wholly by the personal in- and instructors of the newly confluence and the personal efforts of verted, to teach them the way of the minister, would then be carried godliness, and watch over them forward by the deacons.
while their religious character is The deacons are servants by way yet unestablished. They are also of eminence, where all are servants. to feel that the care rests upon Of course the idea is, that they are them, of having all the public ser. to be in a special sense the pillars vices of the church conducted in of the church. And it is incum- an orderly and edifying manner, bent on them to go before the such as the sacraments, singing,
&c. In short, whatever is needed whom none looks up to, and whom to be done for the church, to edify of course no one envies. Nor beit, to purify it, to increase it, all cause he can utter a decent prayer excepting the pastoral care, and before a little meeting. The qualpreaching, belongs to the deacons, ifications required for a deacon are as a part of their official duty. set forth in scripture as almost
It follows, that they are to know wholly the same with those of a their own duty, and do it on their minister. Appointing a person to own responsibility. They have not this office is therefore a vote of the any more than ministers, any right church expressing three things, that to wait till some one stir them up, in the judgment of the church he they are to go of their own sending, possesses those eminent qualificaunder the general authority of Je- tions required in scripture, that sus Christ. They have to answer the church feels the need of addifor their discharge of the office tional service for its advancement, which they have received.
and that it is their pleasure to have · It follows, that the office of dea- this man serve them in some or all con is one of great honour and im- the duties that pertain to the office portance. So important is it, that of deacon. And the acceptance of we may say with confidence, that the office, when rightly understood, most churches are like their dea. is an assumption of all its varied cons, and are what their deacons duties and responsibilities. It is a make them. The honour of the virtual promise to be devoted to the office has been destroyed by the interests of the church, to be a gapprevailing notion, that the only man always prepared to stand in proper business of the deacons is the breach, a minute-man ready for to serve tables. Some ministers service at a moment's warning, a are so afraid of encroachments up- servant at all work, whose duty it on their office, that they wish to is, always to see what needs to be make a very wide separation be- done for the good of the church, tween themselves and all the other and always to do it. servants of their master. Of course It follows, that as the choice of a they would confine the deacons to deacon should be a matter of delibthe bare service of the bread and eration, the publicly setting them wine, only perhaps calling on them apart should be a matter of solemnow and then to make a prayer at nity. I do not myself see it as a a conference meeting. Of course matter of binding obligation that the deacons, unless they have a they should be ordained by the imgreat deal of grace, are very ready position of hands. But it is plain to give up the responsibility to be that it should be so solemn as to be free from the labour. Or if they an occasion long remembered. attempt any thing for the good of It follows, as I think, that our the church, they do it with fear and churches do not employ deacons trembling, as if they laid themselves enough. They plainly do not have open to censure for going out of the so many as are called for by the exbounds of their office.
igencies of the church. And none It follows, that great care should are put forward in the service of be used in the selection of deacons. the church in various relations, who Churches should appoint their very do in fact the work of deacons, best men, the most intelligent, ac- without feeling the responsibilities tive, and zealous members, the pil- of the office. A church ought to lars of the church. A man is not have as many deacons as are needfit for a deacon, barely because he ed for the various exigencies of this is a sober, harmless sort of person, age of religious action and religious commotion. To superintend the obey them, to count them worthy of singing, the sunday school, the re- honour, if need be to support them lief of the poor, the charities of while they devote themselves to the the church, the young converts, the duties of their office. And if they different sections of the church, are found unprofitable it is just as dis":pline, visiting, conferences, proper to dispense with their serserving tables, and every thing vices. A deacon may be dis.niselse which needs to be done, re- sed, like a minister, without even quires a number of deacons in ev- a censure on his moral character. ery church, proportioned in some simply because his services do not measure to the number of its mem- seem to be profitable to the church. bers. It will be recollected that It follows, that we, who are min. the church at Jerusalem chose isters, ought to regard the deacons seven additional deacons at one as our spiritual helpers, and throw time. And if it should be said that upon their shoulders the care which our churches do not contain men belongs to them. They ought to enough, who possess the high qual- take from us, or we ought to give ifications required, the answer is, up to them, much of the anxiety that most or all our churches do in which now bows down our souls, fact have all these services perform and many of the labours which now ed in some way, and that by setting absorb our time, or prevent our up a high standard of duty you en- usefulness in our proper sphere. gage conscientious men in greater A large proportion of those acts of efforts to approach the mark. ours which occasion disquietude,
It follows, that our way of regu- are acts which ought to be performlating the churches by a church ed by the deacons. Another large committee is not exactly soriptural. portion of uneasiness would be preThe helps and governments men vented, if the deacons exercised a tioned by the apostle were undoubt proper frankness, and assumed a edly the deacons. They are by proper responsibility, in advising this very office, the committee of with their minister, and keeping the church. They are the helpers him suitably informed respecting of the minister, and liable to be the state of the people. Let these called out in every emergency. views of the office be received and The government and increase of acted upon, and how soon would the church rests with them. If you our churches become like organiwish to strengthen a church, get a zed, active, and fearless squadrons well selected bench of deacons, in the army of the Lord Jesus. give them a full view of their du
J. L. ties, their responsibilities, and their privileges, and then set them to their work unfettered by the notion that it is out of their place to do To the Editor of the Christian Spectator. any thing but serve the bread and wine. And if your committee is In the Review of Mr. Lansing's not strong enough, add to their Sermons, which appeared in the number in the regular way, by in- last October No. of the Christian creasing the number of deacons. Spectator, the reviewer, with other
It follows also, that as both min. remarks, speaks in high commen. isters and deacons are the servants dation of the theology of the volof the church, the church sustains ume, stating that the doctrines ina relation to its deacons in many re- sisted on are evangelical, and vet spects the same with that which it the rererse of that ultra evangelical holds to the minister. They are to system, which, besides other things