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them; as in the old testament the common Levites were to the priests in the service of the tabernacle; in those things which they could not perform alone: notwithstanding the offices always remained distinct one from the other. Moreover it is proper that such men should be joined to the ministers of the word in the government of the church, to the end, that thereby all tyranny and lording may be kept out of the church of God, which can sooner creep in when the government is placed in the hands of one alone, or a very few. And thus the ministers of the word, together with the elders, form a body or assembly, being as a council of the church, representing the whole church; to which Christ alludes when he saith, “ Tell the church,” which can in no wise be understood of all and every member of the church in particular, but very properly of those who govern the church, out of which they are chosen.
Therefore, in the first place, the office of the elders is, together with the ministers of the word, to take the oversight of the church, which is committed to them, and diligently to look, whether every one properly deports himself in his confession and conversation; to admonish those, who behave themselves disorderly, and as much as possible to prevent the sacraments from being profaned; also to act (according to the christian discipline) against the impenitent, and to receive the penitent again into the bosom of the church: as doth appear not only from the abovementioned saying of Christ, but also from many other places of holy writ, as 1 Cor, chap. v. and 2 Cor. chap. ii. that these things are entrusted not only to one or two persons, but to many who are ordained thereto.
Secondly. Since the apostle enjoineth, that all things shall be done decently and in order, amongst christians, and that no other persons ought to serve in the church of Christ, but those who are lawfully called), according to the christian ordinance, therefore it is also the duty of the elders to pay regard to it, and in all occurrences, which relate to the welfare and good order of the church, to be assistant with their good counsel and advice, to the ministers of the word, yea, also to serve all christians with advice and consolation.
Thirdly. It is also their duty particularly to have regard unto the doctrine and conversation of the ministers of the word, to the end that all things may be directed to the edification of the church; and that no strange doctrine be taught, according to that which we read, Acts 20, where the apostle exhorteth to watch diligently against the wolves who might come into the sheep-fold of Christ; for the performance of which, the elders are in duty bound diligently to search the word of God, and continually to be meditating on the mysteries of faith.
Concerning the deacons ; of the origin and institution of their office we may read, Acts 6. where we find that the apostles themselves did in the beginning serve the poor, “ At whose feet was brought the price of the things that were sold : and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. But afterward when a murmuring arose, because the widows of the Grecians were neglected in the daily ministration :" men were chosen (by the advice of the apostles) who should make the service of the poor their peculiar business, to the end that the apostles “ might continually give themselves to prayer, and the ministry of the word.” And this has been continued from that time forward in the church, as appears from Rom. xii. where the apostle speaking of this office, saith, " he that giveth let him do it with simplicity.” And I Cor. xji. 28. speaking of helps, he means those who are appointed in the church to help and assist the poor and indigent in time of need; from which passages we may easily gather, what the deacon's office is, namely, that they in the first place collect and preserve with the greatest fidelity and diligence, the alms and goods which are given to the poor: yea, that they do their utmost endeavours, that many good means be procured for the relief of the poor.
The second part of their office consists in distribution; wherein is not only required discretion and prudence to bestow the alms only on ohjects of charity, but also cheerfulness and simplicity to assist the poor with compassion and hearty affection: as the apostle requires, Rom. chap. xii. and 2 Cor. chap. ix. For which end it is very beneficial that they do administer relief to the poor and indigent not only with external gifts, but also with comfortable words from scripture.
To the end therefore, beloved brethren N. N. that every one may bear, that you are willing to take your respective offices upon you, ye shall answer to the following questions.
And in the first place, I ask you, both elders and deacons, whether ye do feel in your hearts, that ye are lawfully called of God's church, and consequently of God himself, to these your respective holy offices ?
Secondly. Whether ye believe the books of the old and new testament to be the only word of God, and the perfect doctrine of salvation, and do reject all doctrines repugnant thereto?
Thirdly. Whether ye promise, agreeably to said doctrine, faithfully according to your ability, to discharge your respective offices, as here described : ye elders in the government of the church, together with the ministers of the word : and ye deacons in the ministration to the poor? Do ye also jointly promise to walk in all godliness, and to submit yourselves, in case ye should become remiss in your duty, to the admonitions of the church ?-Upon which they shall answer. Yes.
[Then the Minister shall say,] The Almighty God and Father, replenish you all with his grace, that ye may faithfully and fruitfully discharge your respective offices. Amen. [The Minister shall further exhort them, and the whole congregation,
in the following manner :) Therefore, ye elders be diligent in the government of the church, which is committed to you, and the ministers of the word. Be also as watchmen over the house and city of God, faithfully to admonish and to caution every one against his ruin. Take heed that purity of doctrine and godliness of life be maintained in the church of God. And ye deacons, be diligent in collecting the alms, prudent and cheerful in the distribution of the same : assist the oppressed, provide for the true widows and orphans, shew liberality unto all men, but epecially to the houshold of faith.
Be ye all with one accord faithful in your offices, and “ hold the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience,” being good examples unto all the people. In so doing you will “purchase to yourselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith, which is in Christ Jesus, and hereafter enter into the joy of your Lord.” On the other hand, beloved christians, receive these men as servants of God ; count the elders that rule well, worthy of double honour; give yourselves willingly to their inspection and government. Provide the deacons with good means to assist the indigent. Be charitable, ye rich, give liberally, and contribute willingly. And ye poor, be poor in spirit, and deport yourselves respectfully towards your benefactors; be thankful to them and avoid murmuring; follow Christ for the food of your souls, but not for bread. “ Let him that hath stolen (or who hath been burdensome to his neigh