1. Such commands whose general principles are immediately the Lord’s, yet accommodations and determinations of particulars are from men, by apparent deductions from those grounds. Of such the apostle saith, “But to the rest speak I, not the Lord,” 1 Cor. vii. 12; not that Paul delivered any commands merely of his own head, (for he had “obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful,” ver. 25, and did think that he had the Spirit of the Lord, ver. 40,) but grounded his commands upon the word of God, whereof the apostle was the interpreter. The case is concerning divorce when it fell out that believer and unbeliever were married together: the Lord had given general rules about divorce, but no particular rule about this case, (it being not incident to the Jews;) the apostle, therefore, accommodates the general rule to the particular case; he, not the Lord, determined the particular. This sound interpreters conceive to be the apostle’s meaning: Thus the apostle, treating of order in public assemblies, saith, “The prophet and the spiritual man must acknowledge the things which I write, to be the commandments of the Lord,” 1 Cor. xiv. 37. Understand it mediately, as being agreeable to the Lord’s principles revealed: for otherwise how should the prophet know what the Lord immediately revealed to the apostle? or why should we think it probable that what Paul here speaks of order and decency in church assemblies, was immediately and expressly delivered him by speech or revelation from the Lord, seeing these particulars have such easy and apparent deduction from general principles, and revelations are not unnecessarily multiplied? Yet these particular deductions and determinations are here styled the commandments of the Lord.
2. Such commands, which are accidental and occasional, whose grounds and general principles are also the Lord’s; yet determination or deduction of particulars can hardly be made, but in such emergent cases and occasions accidentally falling out, as necessitate thereunto. As in that case, Acts xv., when the synod commands abstinence from blood, and things strangled, and that necessarily, (though the Levitical law was now abrogated,) because the common use thereof by accident grew very scandalous: therefore, by the law of charity, the use of Christian liberty is to be suspended, when otherwise the scandal of my brother is endangered; yet from any ground of equity to have provided such a particular rule as this, without such a case occurring, would scarce have been possible. Now the synod saith of this determination, “It seemed good unto the Holy Ghost, and unto us,” Acts xv. And another synod, walking by the like light and rule of the Scripture as they did, may say of themselves as the apostles said.
OF THE NATURE OF THAT CHURCH GOVERNMENT WHICH IS OF DIVINE RIGHT, ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE.