An assertion of the government of the Church of Scotland in the points of ruling-elders and of the authority of presbyteries and synods with a postscript in answer to a treatise lately published against presbyteriall government.
Gillespie, George, 1613-1648.
Page  8

CHAP. II. Of the function of Ruling Elders, and what sort of Officers they be.

*NOtwithstanding, of all the multiplicity of Popish orders, yet Peter Lombard treading the vestiges of the primitive simpli∣city, did observe that the Apostles left only two sacred orders to bee perpetuall in the Church, the order of Deacons, & the order of Elders. The administration of Deacons is exercised about things bodily. The ad∣ministration of Elders about things spirituall. The former about the goods: the latter a∣bout the government of the Church. Now Elders are of three sorts. 1. Preaching Elders, or Pastors. 2. Teaching Elders or Doctors. 3. Ruling Elders. All these are Elders, be∣cause they have voice in Presbyteries, and all assemblies of the Church, and the govern∣ment of the Church is incumbent to them all: nor onely to the Pastor and Elder, but to the Doctor also. The Bishop of Dune in his examen conjurationis Scoticae, p. 35. alledgeth, that our Church of Scotland did never yet determine whether Doctors and Deacons have right of voycing in the Consistories & Page  9 Assemblies of the Church. But had he read our booke of Policie, hee might have found, that it excludeth Deacons from being mem∣bers of Presbyteries and Assemblies, Cap. 8. but admitteth Doctors into the same, Cap. 5. The Doctor being an Elder, as said is, should as∣sist the Pastor in the government of the Kirke; and concurre with the Elders, his brethren, in all Assemblies, by reason the Interpretation of the Word, which is onely Iudge in Ecclesiasticall matters, is committed to his charge. But they differ, in that the Pastor laboureth in the word of exhortation, that is, by the gift of wisedome applieth the word to the manners of his flocke, and that in season and out of season, as he knoweth their particular cases to require. The Doctor laboureth in the word of Doctrine, that is, without such applicati∣ons as the Pastor useth, by simple teaching he preserveth the truth and sound interpreta∣tion of the Scriptures, against all heresie and error. The ruling Elder doth neither of these, but laboureth in the government and policie of the Church onely. The Apostle hath distinguished these three sorts of El∣ders, 1. Tim. 5.17. Let Elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the Word and Doctrine. Where, as Beza noteth, hee distinguisheth the Word,Page  10 which is the Pastors part, from Doctrine, which is the Doctors part. Even as Rom. 12.7.8. hee distinguisheth teaching from exhor∣tation: and 1 Cor. 12.8. putteth the word of wisedome, and the word of knowledge for two different things. Now beside those Elders which labour in the Word, and those which labour in Doctrine, Paul speaketh to Timothy of a third sort of Elders, which labour nei∣ther in the Word nor Doctrine, but in ruling well. Hence it appeareth, how truely the Booke of Policie, Cap. 2. saith, That there are foure ordinary, perpetuall, and necessary Offices in the Church, the office of the Pa∣stor, the Doctor, the Elder, and the Deacon: and that no other office, which is not one of these foure, ought to bee received, or suffered in the Church.

But when we speake of Elders, Non perso∣natos, &c. we will not have disguised and hi∣strionicall men, puffed up with titles, or idols dead in sinnes, to be meant, but holy men, who being indued with faith in God, and walking in his obedience, God authorising them, and the Church his Spouse chusing and calling them, undertake the government thereof, that they may labour to the conservation and edifica∣tion of the same in Christ,* saith Iunius. A ru∣ling Elder should pray for the Spirit and gifts Page  11 of his calling, that hee may doe the duties of his calling, and not bee like him that played the Souldan, but a Souter; hee must doe his office neither 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and pro forma, hee himselfe being Parcus Deorum caltor & infre∣quens; nor 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, doing all through conten∣tion and strife about particulars.*Si duo de nostras tollas pro nomina rebus, praelia (I may say Iurgia) cessarent, pax sine lite foret: Nor 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Empiring and Lording among his brethren and fellow Elders;*Whosoever will bee great among you, let him bee your mini∣ster; and whosoever will bee chiefe among you, let him be your servant, saith the onely Lord and Head of the Church: Nor yet 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, setting himselfe only to do a pleasure, or to get preferment to such as he favoureth; Nay, nor 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, onely by establishing good orders, and wholesome lawes in the Church, but he must carry himselfe 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, service∣ably and ministerially: for as his Function is Officium and Iurisdictio, so it is Munus, a burdensome service and charge laid upon him.

That a ruling Elder may bee such a one as hee ought to bee, two sorts of duties are re∣quisite, viz. duties of his Conversation, and duties of his Calling. The duties of his conversation are the same which the Apostle Page  12Paul requireth in the conversation of the Mi∣nister of the Word,* That he bee blamelesse, having a good report, not accused of riot, or unruly, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, a lover of good men, just, holy, temperate, not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre, not selfe-willed, not soone angry, but patient, not a brawler, not covetous, one that ruleth well his owne house, having his children in sub∣jection, with all gravity, one that followeth after righteousnesse, godlinesse, faith, love, patience, meeknesse, &c. These and such like parts of a Christian and exemplary con∣versation, being required of Pastors, as they are Elders, belong unto ruling Elders also. This being plaine, let us proceed to the du∣ties of their calling.

For the better understanding whereof, we will distinguish with the Schoole-men, a two-fold power, the power of Order, and the power of Jurisdiction; which are diffe∣rent in sundry respects. 1. The power of Or∣der comprehendeth such things as a Mini∣ster by vertue of his ordination, may doe without a commission from any Presbyterie, or Assembly of the Church, as to preach the Word, to minister the Sacraments, to celebrate marriage, to visite the sicke, to Page  13 catechise, to admonish, &c. The power of Jurisdiction comprehendeth such things as a Minister cannot doe by himselfe, nor by vertue of his ordination; but they are done by a Session, Presbytery, or Synod; and sometimes by a Minister, or Mini∣sters, having Commission, and authority from the same, such as ordination and ad∣mission, suspension, deprivation and com∣munication, and receiving againe into the Church, and making of Lawes and Consti∣tutions Ecclesiasticall and such like; where∣of we boldly maintaine, that there is no part of Ecclesiasticall Jurisdiction, in the power of one man, but of many met together in the name of Christ. 2. The power of Order is the radicall and fundamentall power, and maketh a Minister susceptive, and capable of the power of Jurisdiction. 3. The power of Order goeth no further then the Court of Conscience; the power of Jurisdiction is exercised in Externall and Ecclesiasticall Courts. Fourthly, the power of Order is sometime unlawfull in the use, yet not voide in it selfe. The power of Jurisdiction when it is unlawfull in the use, it is also voide in it selfe. If a Minister doe any act of Jurisdi∣ction, as to excommunicate, or absolve with∣out his owne parish, wanting also the consent Page  14 of the Ministery and Elders of the bounds where he doth the same, such acts are voide in themselves, and of no effect. But if with∣out his owne charge, and without the con∣sent aforesaid, hee baptise an infant, or doe any such thing belonging to the power of Order, though his act be unlawfull, yet is the thing it selfe of force, and the Sacrament remaineth a true Sacrament.

Now to our purpose. We averre that this twofold power of Order and of Jurisdiction belongeh to ruling Elders as well as to Pa∣stors. The power of Jurisdiction is the same in both; for the power and authority of all Jurisdiction belongeth to the Assemblies, and representative meetings of the Church, whereof the ruling Elders are necessary con∣stituent members and have the power of decisive voycing no lesse then Pastors. How∣beit the execution of some decrees enacted by the power of Jurisdiction belongeth to Ministers alone, for Pastors alone exercise some acts of Jurisdiction, as imposition of hands, the pronouncing of the sentence of ex∣communication, the receiving of a penitent, &c. Are not these things done in the name and authority of some Assembly of the Church, higher or lower? Or are they any other then the executions of the decrees and Page  15 sentences of such an Assembly wherein ru∣ling Elders voyced. The power of Order alone shall, make the difference betwixt the Pastor and the ruling Elder; for by the power of Order, the Pastor doth preach the Word, minister the Sacraments, pray in publike, blesse the Congregation, celebrate marriage, which the ruling Elder cannot. Therefore it is falsly said by that railing Rabshakeh (whom before I spoke of) Ep. pag. 7. That the ruling Elders want nothing of the power of the Minister, but that they preach not, nor baptise in publike congrega∣tions: yet other things which the Pastor doth by his power of Order, the ruling El∣der ought also to doe by his owne power of Order. And if we would know how much of this power of Order is common to both, let us note that Pastors doe some things by their power of Order, which all Christians ought to doe by the law of Charity. Things of this sort a ruling Elder may and ought to doe by his power of Order, and by vertue of his election and ordination to such an of∣fice. For example, every Christian is bound in Charity to admonish and reprove his brother that offendeth; first, privately, then before witnesses; and if he heare not, to tell it to the Church, Levit. 19.17. Matth. Page  16 This a ruling Elder ought to doe by vertue of his calling, and with authority, 1 Thess. 5.12. Private Christians ought in Charity to instruct the ignorant, Joh. 4.29. Act. 18.26. to exhort the negligent, Heb. 3.15. & 10.24 25. to comfort the afflicted, 1 Thess. 5.11. to support the weake, 1 Thess. 5.14. To re∣store him that falleth, Galat. 6.1. to visite the sicke, Matth. 25.36.40. to reconcile those who are at variance, Matth. 5.9. to contend for the truth, and to answer for it, Iude v. 3. 1 Pet. 3.15. All which are incumbent to the ruling Elder by the authority of his calling. To conclude then, the calling of ruling El∣ders consisteth in these two things. 1. To as∣sist and voyce in all Assemblies of the Church, which is their power of jurisdiction. 2. To watch diligently over the whole flock all these wayes which have been mentioned, and to doe by authority that which other Christians ought to doe in charity, which is their power of order. And the Elder which neglecteth any one of these two whereunto his calling leadeth him, shall make answer to God for it. For the Word of God, the Di∣scipline of this Kirke, the bonds of his owne calling and covenant, doe all binde sinne up∣on his soule, if either hee give not diligence in private, by admonishing all men of their Page  17 duty as the case requireth; or if he neglect to keepe either the Ecclesiasticall Court and Consistory within the Congregation where his charge is, or the Classicall Presbyterie, and other Assemblies of the Church, which he is no lesse bound to keepe then his Pastor, when he is called and dessigned thereunto.