2. Of the first receptacle, or subject of the power of church government from Christ, viz. Christ’s own officers.
Touching the second, that Jesus Christ our Mediator hath peculiarly intrusted his own officers with the power of church government: take it thus—
Jesus Christ our Mediator did immediately commit the proper, formal, ministerial, or stewardly authority and power for governing of his church to his own church guides as the proper immediate receptacle or first subject thereof.
For explication of this proposition, four things are to be opened.
1. What is meant by proper, formal, ministerial or stewardly authority and power for church government? See this already discussed, Part 2, chapters III., V., and IX., in the beginning of Section 2, so that here there needs no further addition, as to this point.
2. What is meant by church guides? By church guides here understand, negatively, 1. Not the political magistrate. For though he be the nurse-father of the church, Isa. xlix. 23, the keeper and avenger of both the tables; and have an outward care of religion, and may exercise a political power about sacred things, as did Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, &c., yet hath he no proper, inward, formal power in sacred things, nor is it lawful for him to exercise the same; as Korah, Num. xvi.; King Saul, 1 Sam. xiii. 9-15; Uzzah, 2 Sam. vi. 6-8, 1 Chron. xiii. 9, 10; and King Uzziah, 2 Chron. xxvi. 16-22, did to the provoking of God, and to their own destruction. (But see what power is granted, and what denied to the civil magistrate in matters of religion, and why, Part 2, Chap. IX. Sect. 1.) 2. Not any officer of man’s mere invention and setting up in the church, whether papal, as cardinals, &c., prelatical, as deans, archdeacons, chancellors, officials, &c., or political, as committees, commissioners, &c. For who can create and institute a new kind of offices in the church, but Jesus Christ only, who alone hath the lordly magisterial power as Mediator appropriated to him? Eph. iv. 8, 11; Rom. xii. 5-8; 1 Cor. xii. 28; and therefore how can such acts be sufficiently excused from bold usurpation upon Christ’s own prerogative? 3. Nor the deacons themselves, (though officers of Christ’s appointment, as was formerly proved;) for their office is not to rule and govern, but to serve tables, &c., Acts vi. 2, 3. None of these are the church guides which Christ hath committed his proper power unto. But affirmatively understand all these church guides extraordinary and ordinary, which Christ hath erected in his Church, vesting them with power and authority therein, viz. apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, governments, or ruling elders, mentioned together in Eph. iv. 8, 11; 1 Cor. xii. 28; 1 Tim. v. 17; Rom. xii. 6-8. These are Christ’s own church officers, these Christ hath made the immediate receptacle and first subject of the keys, or of ecclesiastical power derived from himself.