“2. A second argument to prove that a synod is the first subject of power, to determine and judge errors and variances in particular churches, is taken from the pattern set before us in that case, Acts xv. 1-28: when certain false teachers having taught in the church of Antioch a necessity of circumcision to salvation, and having gotten a faction to take part with them, (as appeareth by the dissension and disputation of Paul and Barnabas against them,) the church did not determine the case themselves, but referred the whole matter to the apostles and elders at Jerusalem, Acts xv. 1, 2. Not to the apostles alone, but to the apostles and elders. The apostles were as the elders and rulers of all churches; and the elders there were not a few, the believers in Jerusalem being many thousands. Neither did the apostles determine the matter (as hath been said) by apostolical authority from immediate revelation: but they assembled together with the elders, to consider of the matter, ver. 6, and a multitude of brethren together with them, ver. 12, 22, 23; and after searching out the cause by an ordinary means of disputation, ver. 7, Peter cleared it by the witness Of the Spirit to his ministry in Cornelius’s family; Paul and Barnabas by the like effect of their ministry among the Gentiles: James confirmed the same by the testimony of the prophets, wherewith the whole synod being satisfied, they determine of a JUDICIAL SENTENCE, and of a way to publish it by letters and messengers; in which they CENSURE the false teachers as troublers of their church, and subverters of their souls; they reject the imposition of circumcision as a yoke which neither they nor their fathers were able to bear; they IMPOSE upon the Church none but some necessary observations, and them by way of THAT AUTHORITY which the Lord had given them, ver. 28: which PATTERN clearly showeth us to whom the key of authority is committed, when there groweth offence and difference in a church. Look as in the case of the offence of a faithful brother persisted in, the matter is at last judged and determined in a church: so in the offence of the church or congregation, the matter is at last judged in a congregation of churches, a church of churches; for what is a synod else but a church of churches?”—Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, pages 47-49.]
[Footnote 116: Junius, Beza, Calvin, and Piscator.]
Of the Scriptural Qualifications and Duties of Church Members.
Quest. What persons have a right in the sight of God to be actual members of the Church of Christ?