Form Of Presbyterial Church-Government
Of The Ordinances In A Particular Congregation.
The ordinances in a single congregation are, prayer, thanksgiving, and singing of psalms, the word read, (although there follow no immediate explication of what is read,) the word expounded and applied, catechising, the sacraments administered, collection made for the poor, dismissing the people with a blessing.
Question 1.—Are prayer and thanksgiving ordinances in a single congregation? Answer.—Yes. Col. 4:2-4; 1 Tim. 2:1; 1 Cor. 14:15, 16. Prayer being an expression of dependence and reliance upon God is an ordinance in a single congregation. God’s people are commanded thus to offer their desires unto him, Ps. 62:8. Christian prayer, being offered through the mediation of Christ, is to be offered in his name, John 16:23; and that by the grace of his Spirit working in his people, Rom. 8:26. It is requisite that the prayers of God’s people be with confession of sins, Ps. 32:5, 6; Dan. 9:4. As well, the congregation ought to offer its prayers with the giving of thanks for God’s sure mercies in Christ, Phil. 4:6; Neh. 8:6. Question 2.—Is singing of psalms an ordinance in a single congregation? Answer.—Yes. Ps. 22:22; Heb. 2:12; Ps. 105:2. God’s people are commanded to takea psalm not make a psalm, Ps. 81:2. There are several expressions in the book of psalms which prove that they were designed by the Spirit of God for the New Testament dispensation, Ps. 79:13; 89:1; 102:18. In Luke 24:44, Christ Jesus calls them, “the psalms.” And this is intended to teach us, that they are to be acknowledged by the New Testament church, as the psalms, that is, the inspired songs to be sung exclusively by the church in the solemn worship of Jehovah. But farther, we say that they are commanded to be used by the people of God in singing his praises under the present dispensation, Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16. Question 3.—Is the word read, (although there follow no immediate explication of what is read), an ordinance in a single congregation? Answer.—Yes. Ps. 78:1; Deut. 31:11; Acts 15:21; Neh. 8:1-3; Acts 13:14, 15; 1 Thess. 5:27. The Scriptures, being the utterances of the Holy Ghost, the very words of God himself, 2 Pet. 1:21, God speaks directly and powerfully to his people in them, Heb. 4:12; Jer. 23:29. His word is and gives light and understanding, Ps. 119:105, 130. And there is a great blessing promised upon the right hearing of it, Luke 8:18; 11:28. In the reading of the word, God thunders out his great majesty in the midst of the congregation, Ps. 29:4. Question 4.—Is the word expounded and applied an ordinance in a single congregation? Answer.—Yes. Neh. 8:8; Luke 4:16-21; 24:27-32; Acts 8:30, 31. Preaching the word is prophesying in the name and on behalf of Christ, 2 Thess. 2:13, 14. It is the task of every preacher to be the voice of God to his people, Jer. 15:19. The preaching of the word is the great condescension of God to be reconciled to his people, 2 Cor. 5:18, 20; Rom. 10:14. 11 Tim. 2:1; 1 Cor. 14:15, 16.
Question 5.—Iscatechisingan ordinance in a single congregation? Answer.—Yes. Gal. 6:6. Catechizing, being the best method for people, especially the young, to gain the knowledge of God, is an important means to raise the congregation out of ignorance. Scripture warns that ignorance, though not the greatest, yet is the most dangerous sin, 2 Thess. 1:8. And it makes the ignorance of God to be the cause of all sin, 1 Sam. 2:12; 1 John 2:4; Eph. 4:18, 19. Question 6.—Are the sacraments administered ordinances in a single congregation? Answer.—Yes. Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:20. The sacraments, being signs and seals of the preached or declared covenant, Rom. 4:11; 1 Cor. 11:23; are given in confirmation of the promises in Christ, Gal. 3:27, 17; Matt. 28:19, 20. Their administration is to put a visible distinction between those that belong to the church and the rest of the world, Rom. 15:8; Ex. 12:48; Gen. 34:14. They also serve to engage the congregation to the service of God in Christ, Rom. 6:3, 4; 1 Cor. 10:16, 21. Question 7.—Iscollection made for the pooran ordinance in a single congregation? Answer.—Yes. Acts 10:2; Gal. 2:10; 1 Cor. 16:1-3. True piety towards God will beget kind and friendly dispositions towards men, 1 John 4:21. Works of mercy are the genuine fruits of true love to God, and therefore are a proper service on the Lord’s day. It is a good thing to lay up in store for good uses. Those who are rich in this world should be rich in good works, 1 Tim. 6:17, 18. The best way to be so is to appropriate of their income, and have a treasury for this purpose, a stock for the poor as well as for themselves. By this means they will be ready to every good work as the opportunity offers; and many who labor with their own hands for a livelihood should so work that they may have to give to him that needs, Eph. 4:28. Question 8.—Is dismissing the people with a blessing an ordinance in a single congregation? Answer.—Yes. Num. 6:22-27; 1 Thess. 5:28; 2 Thess. 3:18; 2 Cor. 13:14. The same that are God’s mouth to his people, to teach and command them, are his mouth likewise to bless them; and those that receive the law shall receive the blessing. A divine blessing goes along with divine institutions, and puts virtue and efficacy into them. What Christ says of the peace is true of the blessing, “Peace to this congregation,” if the sons of peace and heirs of blessing be there, the peace, the blessing, shall rest upon them, Luke 10:5, 6. For in every place where God records his name he will meet his people and bless them, Ex. 20:24.