Form Of Presbyterial Church-Government
The pastor is an ordinary and perpetual officer in the church, prophesying of the time of the gospel. First, it belongs to his office, To pray for and with his flock, as the mouth of the people unto God, Acts vi. 2, 3, 4, and xx. 36, where preaching and prayer are joined as several parts of the same office. The office of the elder (that is, the pastor) is to pray for the sick, even in private, to which a blessing is especially promised; much more therefore ought he to perform this in the publick execution of his office, as a part thereof. To read the Scriptures publickly; for the proof of which, 1. That the priests and Levites in the Jewish church were trusted with the publick reading of the word is proved. That the ministers of the gospel have as ample a charge and commission to dispense the word, as well as other ordinances, as the priests and Levites had under the law, proved, Isa. lxvi. 21. Matt. xxiii. 34. where our Saviour entitleth the officers of the New Testament, whom he will send forth, by the same names of the teachers of the Old. Which propositions prove, that therefore (the duty being of a moral nature) it followeth by just consequence, that the publick reading of the scriptures belongeth to the pastor's office. To feed the flock, by preaching of the word, according to which he is to teach, convince, reprove, exhort, and comfort. To catechise, which is a plain laying down the first principles of the oracles of God, or of the doctrine of Christ, and is a part of preaching. To dispense other divine mysteries. To administer the sacraments. To bless the people from God, Numb. vi. 23, 24, 25, 26. Compared with Rev. i. 4, 5, (where the same blessings, and persons from whom they come, are expressly mentioned), Isa. lxvi. 21, where, under the names of Priests and Levites to be continued under the gospel, are meant evangelical pastors, who therefore are by office to bless the people.
Question 1.—Is the pastor an ordinary and perpetual officer in the church, prophesying of the time of the Gospel? Answer.—Yes. 1 Pet. 5:2-4; Eph. 4:11-13. Thus do the Quakers and certain sects of Anabaptists err denying the perpetuity of the pastoral office in the time of the Gospel. They are confuted for the following reasons: 1.) Jeremiah speaks of a time when the Lord would give pastors after his own heart, Jer. 3:15-17; but that time is since his ascension, Eph. 4:7-11. 2.) Christ promised to abide with the apostles and those who succeed to their ministerial office until the end of time, Matt. 28:20. 3.) Prophesying being the application of the Word of God by the Spirit to the hearer, 1 Cor. 14:3, the lively preaching of the Word being that ministration of the Spirit, Gal. 3:5; faithful pastors, during the time of the Gospel, are said to prophesy, Rev. 11:3. Question 2.—Does it belong to his office to pray for and with his flock, as the mouth of the people unto God? Answer.—Yes. Acts 6:2-4. Thus do the Enthusiasts and others err maintaining that it does not properly belong to the office of the pastor to pray as the mouth of the people unto God. They are confuted for the following reasons: 1.) The ministerial pattern set by the apostles was to pray for and with the flock, Acts 21:5; 20:36. 2.) In the public assemblies, the people of God raised their voice in one accord (or one mind, for so the word signifies) unto God in prayer, Acts 4:24, but for all to speak at once is confusion, 1 Cor. 14:7-9; thus, Paul upbraids those who lead the prayers of assemblies of God’s people for praying in a manner which the people could not follow and assent unto, 1 Cor. 14:15, 16. But in the stated worship of God’s people, that voice which leads is that of the minister, Acts 20:36. 3.) Thus we see the apostle Paul exercise himself as the mouth of the people of God making intercession for them, Rom. 10:1; Eph. 3:14-21. 4.) It is of note, that a special blessing is promised upon the prayers of the elders, Jas. 5:15, 16.Question 3.—Does it belong to his office to read the Scriptures publicly? Answer.—Yes. Deut. 31:9-11; Neh. 8:1-3, 13. We see that the public reading of the Word of God was committed to the officers under the Old Testament dispensation, Jos. 8:34, 35; Neh. 9:3. This reading continued in the synagogues until the times of the apostles, Acts 15:21; 13:15. Christ, by entitling officers of the New Testament by the names of teachers of the Old, Isa. 66:21; Matt. 23:34, does show that the duty (being of a moral nature) is to continue in the persons of pastors. Question 4.—Does it belong to his officeto feed the flock, by preaching of the word, according to which he is to teach, convince, reprove, exhort, and comfort? Answer.—Yes. 1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; Tit. 1:9. The title pastor (ποιμένας-poimenas) denotes one who shepherds and, thus, feeds the flock while protecting it, Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:1-4 compared with John 21:15-17. The pastor must be one equipped to teach, convince, reprove, exhort, and comfort, 2 Tim. 2:24, 25; Acts 18:28. In this way, the flock is both fed and protected by the authoritative declaration of the word, 1 Pet. 4:10, 11. 14Acts 11:30; 4:34-37; 6:2-4; 1 Cor. 16:1-4; Gal. 2:9, 10. 151 Tim. 5:17; Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Thess. 5:12; Heb. 13:7, 17.
Question 5.—Does it belong to his office to catechise, which is a plain laying down the first principles of the oracles of God, or of the doctrine of Christ, and is a part of preaching? Answer.—Yes. Heb. 5:12. The pastoral office requires a patience in communicating, 2 Tim. 2:24, 25, instructing the lowliest in the first principles of the faith that they may go on to perfection or completeness, Heb. 5:12-14; 6:1-3. Without instruction, the people of God will perish for lack of understanding, Acts 8:30, 31. For the better effecting of this, we find that the Scripture divides a congregation, into him that catechizeth, and those that are catechized, Gal. 6:6; wherein the original holds forth the taught as the (κατηχούμενος-katechoumenos) catechized, and him that teacheth as the (κατηχοῦντι-katechounti) catechizer. From this it appears that ministers are to catechize. Question 6.—Does it belong to his office to dispense other divine mysteries? Answer.—Yes. 1 Cor. 4:1, 2. The pastoral office being a ministration of the Spirit of God, Gal. 3:5, the minister of the Word ought to prepare himself to communicate the divine mysteries of the Gospel, Ezra 7:10; that the people of God might be profited in the divine mysteries so ministered, Ps. 34:11; Col. 1:23-29. Question 7.—Does it belong to his office to administer the sacraments? Answer.—Yes. Mark 16:15, 16; 1 Cor. 11:23-25. Thus do the Quakers err for denying there to be any sacraments in the time of the Gospel. Likewise, do the Papists err who allow midwives and others to baptize in cases of necessity. Also, certain sects of Anabaptists err who allow those not holding office to administer sacraments. They are confuted for the following reasons: 1.) We see that the administration of the sacraments is tied to those who hold the office of teaching, Matt. 28:19, 20; but that that belongs to the pastoral office we have already shown. 2.) The actual examples of their administration appear to have been conducted by those commissioned to teach, Acts 8:38; 1 Cor. 10:16. Question 8.—Does it belong to his office to bless the people from God? Answer.—Yes. 2 Cor. 13:14; Rom. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:2. We see that under the names of priests and Levites, the continuance of the Gospel ministry is contemplated by Isaiah, Isa. 66:21; thus, we see the apostle Paul in his ministerial character performing a “priestly” work, Rom. 15:16. Hence, the blessing of the people by the Levites, Num. 6:23-26, comes upon the people of God in the times of the Gospel, Rev. 1:4, 5; and all by those ministers of the New Testament. Question 9.—Does it belong to his office to take care of the poor? Answer.—Yes. Acts 11:30; 4:34-37; 6:2-4. The pastor, being called to the service of God’s people, ought, of all men, to be generous, especially to the poor, Gal. 2:9, 10; demonstrating the traits required in those who hold such office, 1 Tim.3:2, 3. He has an obligation to be concerned, not only for the spiritual, but the temporal well-being of the flock as well, 1 Cor. 16:1-4. Question 10.—Does he have also a ruling power over the flock as a pastor? Answer.—Yes. 1 Tim. 5:17; Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Thess. 5:12; Heb. 13:7, 17. In common with the other presbyters, the pastor exercises a ruling power over the flock.