« הקודםהמשך »
sary for them, were it not for this additional help ; whilst the junction of the talents of the presiding elder with those of the circuit-preachers will, in general, make the whole complete. And as the presiding elder is, os ought to be, always present at, the quarterly meetings, he will have opportunities of delivering his whole mind to a very considerable part of the people : nor is there
any reasonable ground to fear that he will ever wear out his talents, if we consider the extent of a district, and the obligation the episcopacy is under to remove him, at farthest, on the expiration of four years.
To these observations we may add, that the calling of districtconferences, on the immorality of travelling preachers, on their deaths, the necessity of removals, &c. would be attended with the most pernicious consequences to the circuits on this vaft.continent, where the districts are so large, and the abfence of the preachers would be necessarily so long upon every such occasion. And we will venture to assert, that if any effective government ought to exist at all in the connection, during the intervals of the yearly and general conferences, there is no alternative between the authority of the bishops and their agents, the presiding elders, on the one hand, and the holding of distrid conferences on the other hand.
We will conclude our notes on this section with obferving, that. there is no ground to believe that the work of God has been in, jured, or the numbers of the society diminished, by the institution of this order, but just the contrary. In the year 1784, when the presiding eldership did, in fact, though not in name, commence, there were about 14000 in society on this continent; and now the numbers amount to upwards of 56000 : so that the fociety is, at present, four times as large as it was twelve or thirteen years ago.
We do not believe that the office now under consideration was the principal cause of this great revival, but the Spirit and grace of God, and the consequent zeal of the preachers in general. Yet we have no doubt, but the full organizam tion of our body, and giving to the whole a complete and effective executive government, of which the presiding eldership makes a very capital branch, has; under God, been a grand means of preserving the peace and union of our connection and the purity, of our ministry, and, therefore, in its consequences, has been as sbief inftrument, under the grace of God, of this great revival...
Of the Election and Ordination of Travelling
Elders, and of their Duty. Queft. 1. OW is an Elder constituted ?
Answ. By the election of a majority of the yearly conference, and by the laying on of the hands of a bishop, and of the elders that are present.
Queft. 2. What is the duty of a travelling elder?
Answ. 1. To administer baptism and the Lord's fupper, and to perform the office of matrimony, and all parts of divine worship.
2. To do all the duties of a travelling preacher.
N. B. No elder that ceases to travel, without the consent of the yearly conference, certified under the hand of the president of the conference, fhall on any account exercise the peculiar functions of his office amongit us.
Ads xiv. 23. When they (Paul and Barnabas) had ordained them elders in every church, -they commended them to the Lord. Titus i. 5. For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou Shouldest-ordain elders in every city. See also Acts XV. 2, 4, 6, 22, 23. xvi. 4.
I Tim. v. I, 17, 19. Jam. v. 14. We need not enlarge upon the necessity of an office, which every organized christian church in the world, in all
has adopted. We would only remark, that the restriction refpecting the elders' withdrawing themselves from the travelling line, without the consent of the yearly conference, thews the confirma ed regard our church has for the itiherant plan, and its determination to support it by every method in its power, consistent with j ftice and truth. And no elder has a right to complain, as he cannot but be previously acquainted with the conditions on which he accepts of ordination.
Of the Election and Ordination of Travelling
Deacons, and of their Duty.
Quest. 1. LOW is a travelling deacon constituted?
Answ. By the election of the majority of the yearly conference, and the laying on of the hands of a bishop.
Quest. 2. What is the duty of a travelling deacon ? Answ. 1. To baptize, and perform the office of matrimony, in the absence of the elder.
2. To assist the elder in administering the Lord's supper. 3. To do all the duties of a travelling preacher.
Queft. 3. What shall be the time of probation of a travelling deacon for the office of an elder.
Anfw. Every travelling deacon fall exercise that of-fice for two years, before he be eligible to the office of an elder; except in the case of missions, when the year. ly conferences shall have authority to elect for the elders office sooner, if they judge it expedient,
N. B. No deacon who ceases to travel without the consent of the yearly conference, certified under the hand of the president of the conference, fhall on any, account exercise the peculiar, functions of his office.
Ads vi. 1-6. * In thofe days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a 'murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and faid, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this bufiness. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the
Holy Ghost, and Phikp, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon.. and Parmenas, and Nicolas a profelyte of Antioch, whom they set before the Apostles; and, when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them."
We have in the passage above quoted; an account of the inftitution of the order of deacons; from which it appears, , 1. That the primary design of the order was, that the widows, the aged, the infirm, &c. Thould be sufficiently provided for. For we are not to suppose, that the widows only in this respect were the objects of their care, but all the infirm, and all whose temporal situation required extraordinary attention.
2. Nor can we with any propriety imagine, that the circle of. action of men like these, who were FULL OF THE HOLY GHOST AND WISDOM; was confined to such menial offices. They were mnen, we doubt not, chosen out of the preachers of the gospel, who used the gifts of the Holy Ghost and the wisdom they had received from above, not so much for miniftring to the temporal wants of the widows, &c. as to the spiritual wants of immortal souls, for, which principally such invaluable blessings were bestowed upon them. Accordingly we are informed, Acts vi. 8. that “ Stephen [the first of the deacons] full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people,” He had also the high; honour of being the first christian martyr, by being stoned to death “ for the witness Jesus and for the word of God."'*. Again, we read of Philip, another of those deacons, who was commanded by an angel of the Lord to“ go toward the south,' to preach the gospel to“ an eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her, treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship;" and after the conversion and baptism of the eunuch, “the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip” (adds the word of God) was found at Azotus: and, paffing through, he preached in all the cities, till he came to Cesarea." See Acts viïi. 26–40. It must be evident. to every candid reader of the above-quoted passages, that these. two deacons were preachers of the gospel. And we must beg leave to repeat, in respect to the whole of them, that the description which the word of God gives of them, clearly raises them above. the private members in general of a christian society, in respect: to gifts, and wisdom, and power.
3. The directions which the great apostle gives to Timothy in respect to the deacons, are so weighty and solemn, that it is evident the apostle considered those men as of far greater importancethan to be limited in their public offices merely to the work of fer-.
Rev. XX. 4.
ving tables, or attending on the poor and infirm: 1 Tim. iiie 8-13. “ Likewise muft the deacons be grave, not double tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre: holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let thefe also poft be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blames less. Even so muft their wives be grave, not fanderers; sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houfes well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well, purchafe to themfelves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jefus.” The last words are certainly descriptive of an office of confiderable importance in the church of God.
4. All we have said in respect to this office agrees with the accounts given us by the fathers of the church, in the purest ages
christianity. From their writings we are also informed, that the deacons were employed to affift the clder or presbyter in the administration of the Lord's fupper ; and also to carry a part of the consecrated elements to the fick, who were not able to at tend at the place of public worship. And as we find from the first quoted text that the deacons were fet apart for their office by the imposition of bands, bat not by the imposition of the hands of the elders, as in other cases; so we endeavour to come as near to the scripture-mode as we can, by confining the cerea mony of the imposition of hands to the episcopacy only, in the present instance, without daring to compare ourselves, as some of our enemies would most maliciously affert, to the holy apoftles; but simply, and in the fear of God, coming up to the written word as nearly as in our power.
5. This office serves as an excellent probation for that of an elder. No preacher can be eligible to the office of an elder, till he has exercised the office of a deacon for two years, except in the case of missions. For we would wish to shew the utmost attention to the order of elders, and to have the fullest proof of the abilities, grace, and usefulness of those, who shall be, from time to time, proposed for so important an office as that of a presbyter in the church of God. And we judge, that the man who has proved himself a worthy member of our society, and an useful class-leader, exhorter, and local preacher, who has been approved of for two years as a travelling preacher on trial, and has faithfully served in the office of a travelling deacon for at least two years more-has offered such proofs of fidelity and piety, as must satisfy every reasonable mind. But as this continent is exceedingly large, and will continually open to our conferences new missions for the spread of the gospel (perhaps for ages to come) we have, in the case of missions given a discretionary power to the yearly conferences. We have thus been able, through the grace and providence of God, to, constitute such a regular gra.