Of the Divine Right of Congregational Elderships or Kirk Sessions, for the government of the Church.
Touching congregational elderships, consisting of the ministers and ruling elders of the several single congregations, which are called the lesser assemblies, or smaller presbyteries, and which are to manage and order all ecclesiastical matters within themselves, which are of more immediate, private, particular concernment to their own congregations respectively; and consequently, of more easy dispatch, and of more daily use and necessity. Concerning these congregational presbyteries, we shall not now take into consideration either, 1. What are the members constituting and making up these elderships; whether ruling elders by divine warrant may be superadded to the pastors and teachers, and so be associated for the government of the congregation. For the divine right of the ruling elders, distinct from the preaching elder for the government of the church, hath been evidenced at large, Chapter XI., Section 1, foregoing. And if any acts of government in the church belong to the ruling elder at all, sure those acts of common jurisdiction, to be dispatched in these least assemblies, cannot of all other be denied unto him. 2. Nor shall it here be discussed, what the power of congregational elderships is, whether it be universally extensive to all acts of government ecclesiastical whatsoever, without exception or limitation; and that independently, without subordination to the greater assemblies, and without all liberty of appeal thereunto in any cases whatsoever, though of greatest and most common concernment. Which things are well stated and handled by others; and will in some measure be considered afterwards in Chapter XV.