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An  Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland.


An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland.

James Dodson





By George Gillespie.


Adhibete conclericos et seniores plebis ecclesiasticos viros, et inquirant diligenter quæ sint istæ dissensiones.—Gesta Purgat. Cæcil & Felic.
Quorum (conciliorum) est in ecclesia saluberrima auctoritas. August., epist. 118. 


C O N T E N T S.



Of the words, Elder, Lay Elder, Ruling Elder.

Four significations of the word elder in Scripture.—Of the nickname of lay elders.—That the popish distinction of the clergy and the laity ought to be banished.—Of the name of ruling elders, and the reason thereof.


Of the function of ruling elders, and what sort of officers they be.

Of the distinction of pastors, doctors, elders, and deacons.—Of the behaviour and conversation of ruling elders.—Of the distinction of the power of order and of jurisdiction.—That the ruling elder's power of jurisdiction is to sit and voice in all the consistories and assemblies of the church.—That his power of order is to do, by way of authority, those duties of edification which every Christian is bound to do by way of charity.


The first argument for ruling elders, taken from the Jewish church.

That we ought to follow the Jewish church in such things as they had not for any special reason proper to them, but as they were an ecclesiastic republic.—That the elders among the Jews did sit among the priests and voice in their ecclesiastic courts, according to Saravia's own confession, but were not their civil magistrates as he allegeth.—Bilson's objections answered.


The second argument, taken from Matt. 18.17.

What is the meaning of these words, Tell the church?—Why the presbytery may be called the church.—Our argument from this place for ruling elders.


The third argument, taken from Rom. 12.8.

The words, Rom. 12.8, expounded.—That by him that ruleth is meant the ruling elder.—The objections to the contrary answered.


The fourth argument, taken from 1 Cor. 12.28.

That by governments the Apostle meaneth ruling elders.—Two glosses given by our opposites confuted.


The fifth argument, taken from 1 Tim. 5.17.

Our argument from this place vindicated against ten false glosses devised by our opposites.


The testimony of Ambrose for ruling elders vindicated.

No certain ground alleged against the authority of those commentaries upon the epistles ascribed to Ambrose.—Other answers made by our opposites to the place upon 1 Tim. 5. confuted.


Other testimonies of antiquity.

Testimonies for ruling elders out of Tertullian, Cyprian, Epiphanius, Basil, Chrysostom, Jerome, Eusebius, Augustine, Origen, Isidore, the first council of Toledo.—Other testimonies observed by Justellus and Voetius.—Bilson's answer confuted.


The consent of protestant writers, and confession of our opposites for ruling elders.

Citations of sundry protestant writers to this purpose.—This truth hath extorted a confession from Whitgift, Saravia, Sutliffe, Camero, and Mr. Jo. Wemyss of Craigton.


Dr. Field's five arguments against ruling elders answered.

His first reason,—that no footstep of ruling elders for many hundred years could be found in any Christian church,—answered five ways.—Footsteps of ruling elders in the Church of England.—His second reason answered.—That we ought to judge of the officers of the church, not from 1 Tim. 3. only, but from that and other places compared together.—His third reason answered by the certain bounds of the power of ruling elders.—His fourth reason answered by the distinction of the ecclesiastical sanhedrin of the Jews from their civil sanhedrim.—His last reason, concerning the names, holdeth not.


The extravagances of Whitgift and Saravia in the matter of ruling elders.

The one alloweth of ruling elders under and infidel magistrate, but not under a Christian magistrate.—The other alloweth of them under a Christian magistrate, but not under an infidel.—That ruling elders do not prejudge the power of the civil magistrate, but the Prelacy doth, which confuteth Whitgift.—That Christian magistrates are not come in place of the Jewish seniors, which confuteth Saravia.


Whether ruling elders have the power of decisive voices when they sit in presbyteries and synods.

The affirmative proved by nine reasons.—Two objections to the contrary answered.—The place 1 Cor. 14.32, explained.


Of the ordination of ruling elders, of the continuance of their office, and of their maintenance.

That the want of the imposition of hands in ordination, the want of maintenance, and the not continuing always in the exercise of the office, cannot be prejudicial to the office itself of ruling elders.




Of popular government in the church.

That the question is necessary to be cleared, before the question of the authority of assemblies.—That jurisdiction ought not to be exercised by all the members of a congregation, proved by three reasons.—Objections answered.—The controversy reconciled.


Of the independency of the elderships of particular congregations.

Dr. Field's question, whether the power of jurisdiction belongeth to the eldership of every congregation, or to a common presbytery made up out of many congregations, answered by an eight-fold distinction.—A three-fold conformity of those parishional elderships to the primitive pattern.


Of greater presbyteries, which some call classes.

Three false glosses on 1 Tim. 4.14, confuted.—That the Apostle meaneth, by the presbytery, an assembly of presbyters, whereof also fathers and councils do speak.—The warrant and authority of our classical presbyteries declared both by good reasons, and by the apostolical pattern; for assertion of the latter it is proved, 1. That in many of those cities wherein the apostles planted Christian religion, there was a greater number of Christians than did, or could ordinarily, assemble into one place; 2. That in these cities there was a plurality of pastors; 3. That yet the whole within the city was one church; 4. That the whole was governed by one common presbytery. From all which a corollary is drawn for these our classical presbyteries.


Of the authority of synods, provincial and national.

That the power of jurisdiction in the synod differeth from the power of jurisdiction in the presbytery.—The power of jurisdiction in synods is three-fold—dogmatic, diatactic, and critic.—Whether the decrees of a synod may be pressed upon such as profess scruple of conscience thereanent.


The first argument for the authority of synods, and the subordination of presbyteries thereto, taken from the light of nature.

That the church is a certain kind of republic, and in things which are common to her with other societies, is guided by the same light of nature which guideth them.—Of this kind are her assemblies.


The second argument, taken from Christ's institution.

The will of Christ for the authority of synods is showed two ways: 1. Because else he hath not sufficiently provided for all the necessities of his church; 2. He hath committed spiritual power and authority to the assemblies and courts of the church in general, yet hath not determined in Scripture all the particular kinds, degrees, and bounds thereof, and that for three reasons.—The particular kinds of synods appointed by the church according to the light of nature, and general warrant and rules of the word, are mixed, though not mere divine ordinances.


The third argument, taken from the Jewish church.

That there were, among the Jews, at least two ecclesiastical courts—the synagogue and the sanhedrim.—That the power of the synagogical consistory was not civil but spiritual, proved against Sutliffe.—That the Jews had a supreme ecclesiastical sanhedrim distinct from the civil sanhedrim, proved against the same Sutliffe, both from the institution thereof, Deut. 17; and from the restitution, 2 Chron. 19; and from the practice, Jer. 26.—The consequence our argument proved against such as deny it.—That we ought to follow the Jewish church in those things which it had, not as it was Jewish, but under the common respect and account of a political church.


The fourth argument, taken from Acts 15.

That we find, Acts 15, a synod of the apostles and elders, with authority imposing their decree upon many particular congregations.—Four answers made to this argument found not to be satisfactory.


The fifth argument, taken from geometrical proportion.

This argument, from proportion, doth hold whether we compare the collectives of churches among themselves, or the representatives among themselves, or the representatives and collectives together.


The sixth argument, taken from necessity.

That without the authority of synods, it is impossible to preserve unity, or to make an end of controversy.—Other remedies declared to be ineffectual.


Objections made against the authority of synods answered.

The place, Matt. 18.17, discussed.—That one visible political church may comprehend many congregations, proved.—That the authority of presbyteries and synods doth not rob the congregations of their liberties, as the Prelacy did.—A visible church may be considered either metaphysically or politically.—This distinction explained, serveth to obviate sundry arguments alleged for the Independent power of congregations. Other two objections answered, which have been lately made.