2. Besides, the apostles, though extraordinary officers, are called elders, 1 Pet. v. 1, to intimate to us, that in ordinary acts of church government, they did act as elders for a pattern to us in like administrations.
Except. The apostles, it is true, were elders virtually, that is, their apostleship contained all offices in it, but they were not elders formally.
Ans. 1. If by formally be meant, that they were not elders really, then it is false; for the Scripture saith Peter was an elder, 1 Peter v. 1. If by formally be meant that they were not elders only, that is granted; they were so elders, as they were still apostles, and so apostles as they were yet elders: their eldership did not exclude their apostleship, nor their apostleship swallow up their eldership.
2. Besides, two distinct offices may be formally in one and the same person; as Melchisedec was formally a king and priest, and David formally a king and prophet; and why then might not Peter or John, or any of the twelve, be formally apostles and elders? And ministers are formally pastors and ruling elders.
Except. ’Tis true, the apostles acted together with elders, because it so fell out they met together; but that they should meet jointly to give a pattern for an eldership, is not easy to prove; one apostle might have done that alone, which all here did.
Ans. 1. ’Tis true, the apostles as apostles had power to act singly what they did jointly; yet, when they acted jointly, their acts might have more authority in the Church: upon which ground they of Antioch may be conceived to have sent to the whole college of apostles and elders at Jerusalem, (rather than to any one singly;) why was this, but to add more authority to their acts and determinations?
2. Why should not their meeting together be a pattern of a presbytery, as well as their meeting together when they took in the consent of the people, Acts vi., in the choice of the deacons, to be a pattern or warrant that the people have a power in the choice of their officers? (as those of contrary judgment argue:) if one be taken in as an inimitable practice, why not the other?
3. If the apostles joining with elders, acted nothing as elders, then we can bring nothing of theirs into imitation; and by this we should cut the sinews, and raze the foundation of church government, as if there were no footsteps thereof in the holy Scriptures.
Finally, That the pattern of the said presbytery and presbyterial government is for a rule to the churches of Christ in all after ages, may appear as followeth: