A Summary of the preceding Treatise on Church Government,
BY QUESTION AND ANSWER.
Quest. What is meant by church government?
Ans. That particular form and order, which Christ has fixed in his Church, for the proper management thereof.
Quest. How does it appear that there is a particular form of government appointed in the New Testament Church?
Ans. As there is as great, if not greater, need of a government, in the New Testament Church, than there was in the Old, all the ordinances of which were most minutely described. Satan is now more experienced in deceiving, and his agents are still alive, and very actively employed, in attempting to waste and destroy this sacred vineyard, if without its proper hedge. Her members are still a mixture of tares and wheat; of sheep and goats: so that there is still a necessity of discerning between the precious and the vile; of trying and censuring false teachers; and of guarding divine ordinances from contempt and pollution. As Jesus gives the New Testament Church the peculiar title of the kingdom of heaven, he could not, in a consistency with his wisdom, leave it without any particular laws or form of government, except the changeable inclinations of men. As he was faithful in his New Testament house, he must fix a particular form of government for her, such as tends to her peace, order, and spiritual edification. And, amidst the prophet’s vision of the New Testament Church, he is directed to teach his people the form of the house, the laws of the house, &c., Ezek. xliii. 11.
Quest. When may a particular form of church government be said to be of divine right?
Ans. When all the parts thereof are agreeable to Scripture precepts; to approved Scripture examples; or are deducible by fair Scripture consequences.
Quest. How does it appear, that Scripture consequences are to be admitted to prove any particular truth or doctrine?
Ans. Because God has formed man a rational intelligent creature, capable of searching out the plain meaning and import, and also the necessary consequences of his express declarations. We find Christ reasoning by a deduction of consequences, when he showed that the doctrine of the resurrection was revealed to Moses at the burning bush; that the sixth commandment forbids angry words; and the seventh lascivious looks, Luke xx. 37, 38; Matt. v. 21, 28. And a great part of the inspired epistles to the Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews consists in such a deduction of consequences. And as all Scripture is said to be profitable “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness,” 2 Tim. iii. 16, without a rational deduction of consequences, every portion of Scripture cannot answer each of these valuable ends.