1 Tim. v. 17. Or can we think that the apostles were not as careful to erect elderships in several congregations, as to appoint elders? otherwise how could the apostles have answered it to their Lord and Master Jesus Christ, in leaving them without that necessary provision of government, which Christ himself had allowed to them, at least, in some cases, as hath been evidenced?
4. Finally, necessity (which is a strong and cogent law) plainly and forcibly pleads for elderships in particular congregations endowed with authority and power from Christ for government within themselves. For, 1. How wearisome a thing would it be to all congregations, should every one of their members be bound to attend upon synods and greater presbyteries, (which in the country are at a great distance from them,) in all ecclesiastical matters of judicature, if they had no relief in their own congregations? How impossible would it be for the greater presbyteries, not only to hear and determine all hard and weighty, but also all small and easy causes that would be brought before them? And what should become of such a congregation as either voluntarily transplants itself, or is accidentally cast among heathens or pagans in far countries, where there are no Christians or churches to join and associate withal, if they be denied an authoritative presbytery within themselves, for preventing and healing of scandals, and preserving themselves from destruction and ruin, which anarchy would unavoidably bring upon them?
Of the Divine Right of Presbyteries, (for distinction’s sake called Classical Presbyteries,) for the government of the Church.
Having spoken of the lesser, viz. congregational elderships, we come now to the greater ruling assemblies, which are either presbyterial or synodal. And first, of the presbyterial assembly, or classical presbytery, viz. an assembly made up of the presbyters of divers neighboring single congregations, for governing of all those respective congregations in common, whereunto they belong, in all matters of common concernment and greater difficulty in the Church. The divine warrant and right of this presbytery, and of the power thereof for church government, may principally be evidenced, 1. By the light of nature. 2. By the light of Scripture, which light of Scripture was followed by the Church in the ages after the apostolical times.