That there is in the word of Christ a pattern of one presbyterial government in common over divers single congregations in one church. This may be evidenced by these following considerations: For,
1. Divers single congregations are called one church, as hath at large been proved in the second position immediately foregoing; inasmuch as all the believers in Jerusalem are counted one church: yet those believers are more in number than could meet for all ordinances in any one single congregation. And why are divers congregations styled one church? 1. Not in regard of that oneness of heart and soul which was among them, “having all things common,” &c., Acts iv. 32. For these affections and actions of kindness belonged to them by the law of brotherhood and Christian charity to one another, (especially considering the then present condition of believers,) rather than by any special ecclesiastical obligation, because they were members of such a church. 2. Not in regard of any explicit church covenant, knitting them in one body. For we find neither name nor thing, print nor footstep of any such thing as a church covenant in the church of Jerusalem, nor in any other primitive apostolical church in all the New Testament; and to impose an explicit church covenant upon the saints as a necessary constituting form of a true visible Church of Christ, and without which it is no Church, is a mere human invention, without all solid warrant from the word of God. 3. Not in regard of the ministration of the word, sacraments, prayers, &c. For these ordinances were dispensed in their single congregations severally, it being impossible that such multitudes of believers should meet all in one congregation, to partake of them jointly, (as hath been evidenced.) 4. But in regard of one joint administration of church government among them, by one common presbytery, or college of elders, associated for that end. From this one way of church government, by one presbytery in common, all the believers in Jerusalem, and so in other cities respectively, were counted but one church. 2. In every such presbyterial church made up of divers single congregations, there were ecclesiastical ruling officers, which are counted or called the officers of that church, but never counted or called governors, elders, &c., of any one single congregation therein; as in the church of Jerusalem, Acts xi. 27, 30, and xv. 2: of Antioch, compare Acts xiii. 1-3, with xv. 35: of Ephesus, Acts xx. 17, 28: and of the church of Corinth, 1 Cor. i. 12, and iv. 15, and xiv. 29.
3. The officers of such presbyterial churches met together for acts of church government: as, to take charge of the church’s goods, and of the due distribution thereof, Acts iv. 35, 37, and xi. 30: to ordain, appoint, and send forth church officers, Acts vi. 2, 3, 6, and xiii. 1, 3: to excommunicate notorious offenders, 1 Cor. v. 4, 5, 7, 13, compared with 2 Cor. ii. 6: and to restore again penitent persons to church communion, 2 Cor. ii. 7-9.