CHAP. XIV. Of the Ordination of Ruling Elders, of the continuance of their Office, and of their maintenance.
TOuching the first of these, it cannot be denyed, but as Election to the Office, so ordination to the exer∣cise thereof, is a thing common both to Preaching and Ruling Elders. Howbeit in Scotland imposition of hands is not used in the Ordination of Ruling Elders, as it is in the Ordination of Preaching Elders, yet this is not to bee thought a defect in their Ordination;* for imposition of hands is not an Act but a signe of Ordination, neither is it a necessary signe but is le•t free: it is not therefore without reason, that Calvin, Chem∣nitius, Gerard, Buca•, Ia•i•, Bucerus, and many other of our learned Writers, yea the Arch-bishop of Spalato doe all make a di∣stinction, betwixt the essentiall act of ordi∣nation, Page 104 and the externall rite thereof, hol∣ding that ordination may be full, valid and compleat, not onely without the unction used in the Roman Church, but even with∣out the laying on of hands, used in the Re∣formed Churches. After the Election of Ru∣ling Elders, with the notice & consent of the whole Church, there followeth with us a publique designation of the persons so ele∣cted, and an authoritative or potestative Mis∣sion, Ordination, or Deputation of them unto their Presbyteriall functions, together with publique exhortation unto them, and prayer in the Church for them, which wee conceive to bee all that b•longeth either to the essence, or integrity of Ordina•ion. I meane not to condemne Imposition of hands, nor any other convenient signe, in the Ordination of Ruling Elders, onely J in∣tend to justifie our owne forme, as suffici∣ent.
As for the maintenance and the continu∣ance of the Office of Ruling Elders, wee love not unnecessary Multiplication of questions, let every Church doe herein what they find most convenient. The manner of our Church, in these things, is such, as best be fitteth the condition of the same, & such Page 105 as cannot be in reason condemned; Neither is a stipend, nor continuance in the Functi∣on till Death, essentiall to the Ministery of the Church, but separable from the same. The Levites of old served not at all times, but by course, and when they were 50. yeares old, they were wholly liberat, from the burden and labour (though not from the attendance) of the Leviticall service, and Ministers, may still upon the Churches permission, for lawfull Reasons, and urgent Necessities, be absent a whole yeere, and lon∣ger too, from their particular charges. The Apostles, when they were first sent through Iudea, tooke no stipend, Mat. 10.8, 9. Nei∣ther did Paul take any at Corinth, 1 Cor. 9.18. The Ministers among the Waldenses, worke with their hands for their maintai∣nance. The old Patriarchs were Priests and Preachers, to their families, and maintained themselves by the worke of their hands, fee∣ding of Flockes, tilling the Ground, &c, These things I do not mention as Rules, to be followed by us, but to shew, that the in∣termission of the exercise of the Ministery, the want of maintainance and labouring with the hands, are not altogether repug∣nant, nor inconsistent, with the Nature of the vocation, of the Ministers of the word, Page 106 but in some cases hic & nunc, may bee most approveable in them, much more in Ruling Elders. The Revenues of our Church are so small, that they cannot spare, stipends to Ruling Elders, which maketh them willing to serve without stipends, and lest they should be overburdened, with this their ser∣vice, though they be chosen and called to be Ruling Elders as long as they live, at least till they m•rit, to be deposed, yet our booke of policie alloweth them, that ease of inter∣mission and serving by course, which was allowed to the Levits of old in the Temple. The double honour which the Apostle commandeth to give unto Elders that rule well,* needeth not to be expounded of main∣tainance and obedience; for by double ho∣nour wee may either simply understand, much honour, or by way of comparison double honour, in respect of the Widowes, whom hee had before commanded to ho∣nour,* as Calvin expoundeth the place. Both these Interpretations doth Oecumenius give upon the same place.
The other question propounded by D. Field concerning Ruling Elders, shall have a resolution in that which followeth, and so J will proceed, conceiving that which hath Page 107 beene said for Ruling Elders, shall satisfie such as desire to understand, though nothing can satisfie the malicious, nor them who are willingly ignorant.