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many. May he stedfastly walk in Thy ways, unto the end; and may we learn from this example, that with Thee is mercy, that Thou mayest be feared ; so that we, counting him for our brother and fellow-heir of eternal life, may unitedly serve Thee with filial fear and obedience all the days of our life, through Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose Name we thus conclude our prayer-Our Father, etc.
ORDAINING ELDERS AND DEACONS.
If ordained separately, this form may be used as occasion shall require. “When any person shall have elected to either of these offices, and shall
have declared his willingness to accept thereof, he shall be set apart in the
following manner: “ After sermon, the Minister shall state, in a concise manner, the warrant and
nature of the office of ruling Elder or Deacon, together with the character proper to be sustained and the duties to be fulfilled by the officer elect.”
ELOVED Christians, you know that we have sey
eral times published unto you the names of our brethren here present who are chosen to the office of Elders and Deacons in this Church, that we might know whether any person had aught to allege why they should not be set apart to their respective offices. And whereas no lawful objection hath been alleged against them, we shall in the Name of the Lord proceed to induct them into the same.
But first we invite your attention to a short declaration from the Word of God, concerning the office and duties of Elders and Deacons. The word ELDER, which is derived from the Old Testament, and signifies a person who is placed in an honourable office of government over others, is applied to two sorts of
persons who minister in the Church of Jesus Christ; for the Apostle saith : “Let the elders that rule well be accounted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the Word and doctrine.” Hence it is evident that there were two sorts of Elders in the Apostolic Church : the former whereof did labour in the Word and doctrine, and the latter did not. The first were the Ministers of the Word, and Pastors, who preached the Word and administered the Sacraments; but the others, though they did not labour in the Word, yet served the Church by taking the oversight thereof, and ruling the same with the Ministers of the Word. For St. Paul, having spoken of the Ministry of the Word of reconciliation, and also of the office of distribution or Deaconship, speaketh afterwards particularly of this office, saying: “He that ruleth, let him do it with diligence.”. In another place, he counts "governments” among the gifts and offices which God hath instituted in His Church. In like manner we find the Apostle exhorting the Elders of the Church of Ephesus, to “take heed unto themselves and to all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost had made them overseers.”
It is moreover proper that such officers should be joined to the Ministers of the Word in the government of the Church, that there may be no lording over God's heritage; which can sooner creep in when the government is in the hands of one, or a very few. And thus the Ministers of the Word, together with the Elders, form an Assembly or Council of the Church, representing the whole Body, 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 episcopacy or oversight of the Church which is committed to them. In the discharge of their duties, they are to admit to its communion such as profess faith in Christ and repentance for their sins ; diligently to look whether every one properly deports himself in his doctrine and life; to admonish those who
behave disorderly; to prevent as much as possible the Sacrament from being profaned; to exercise the discipline of the Church against such as offend; and to receive them again when penitent to the household of faith.
Secondly, Since the Apostle enjoineth that all things shall be done decently and in order, therefore it is also the duty of the Elders to pay regard to all Christian ordinances; and in all things which relate to the welfare of the Church, to assist the Ministers of the Word with good counsel, to visit the sick, comfort the afflicted, and to be faithful advisers of all the flock committed to their care.
Thirdly, It is their duty particularly to have regard unto the doctrine and life of the Ministers of the Word, 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 where the Apostle exhorteth the Elders to watch diligently against the wolves who might come into the sheepfold 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.