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Chapter 5.-Conclusion.


Chapter 5.-Conclusion.

James Dodson

Some observations respecting the qualifications, choice and admission, or ordination of deacons, with the objects and results of their official administration in detail, might naturally be expected at this period of our investigations. This essay has, however, already exceeded the limits originally prescribed to himself by the writer, and these topics, though interesting and important, can receive but a mere passing notice. The deacon should be intelligent, godly, honest, industrious, liberal, zealous, and public spirited;[1] he is chosen by the people;[2] the session must then proceed to examine the candidate of the people’s choice;[3] and having, been sustained, he is to be ordained in the name of the Church’s Head, and thus set apart to the deacon’s office. The Church so constituted, having her ministry, whose business it is to “preach the unsearchable riches of Christ,” – her elders, whose special business it is to rule in the house of God – and her deacons, whose special business it is to attend to the promotion of the welfare of the poor, and manage her “outward things,” is “furnished with all officers,”[4] and thus fully organized and prepared for her work and warfare. She is, then, in all her parts, and in all her operations formally, as well as really, subject to Jesus Christ alone, her blessed Head.

This subject is, in many respects, an important one: too important to be slightly treated, or carelessly examined.[5] It concerns, intimately, the activity and efficiency of the Christian Church in the promotion of the great ends of her organization; the diffusion of the Gospel in its purity; and the accomplishment of those works of charity and benevolence, by which she is to reflect before the world, and upon it, the image of the grace and compassion of her beneficent Redeemer. The Church should act with freedom, consistency, and power, in fulfilling her high and exalted mission. Why entangle her with bonds which bind her to the world? Why impair her energies by the crippling influence of humanly devised modes of managing her pecuniary interests, when we have in the institutions of Christ a wise, consistent, and efficient system? A system that falls in, in every part, with the orderly, compact, and vigorous structure of Presbyterian church government. It was, moreover, the system received and practiced by the reformers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Let the churches return to this “good old way,” laying aside all the substitutes that have been devised for the office of deacon, and then one obstacle to the spread of truth will be removed. Not, indeed, the only one. Far from it. Yet accomplish this, and it is something gained – some progress made in a better conformity to the doctrines and precepts of the Bible. May that time soon come when all “shall see eye to eye;” when every corruption shall be purged out, and the Church redeemed by the blood of Christ, be made altogether glorious, “with His comeliness put upon her.”

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[1] 1 Tim. 3:8-9, 12. 

[2] Acts 6:3. 

[3] 1 Tim. 3:10. 

[4] Larger Catechism, Question 191. 

[5] It should be remembered that this subject was considered important enough by Knox and Melville, and other noble reformers, in Scotland, to be contended for, for more than thirty years (from 1560 to 1592), against the power of the court of that kingdom. Especially was it argued vehemently from 1578 to 1592, fourteen years.