Of the general Nature of Church Government, viz. Power or Authority.
Touching the general nature of this government, which it participates in common with all other governments, it is power or authority. Here divers particulars are to be cleared and proved, viz:
1. What is meant by power or authority? The word chiefly used in the New Testament for power or authority is used not only to denote Christ’s supreme power, as Luke iv. 36; Mark i. 17, with Luke vi. 19; but also his officers’ derived power, as with 2 Cor. x. 8, and xiii. 10. It is used to signify divers things: as, 1. Dignity, privilege, prerogative. “To them he gave prerogative to be the sons of God,” John i. 12. 2. Liberty, leave, license; as, 1 Cor. viii. 9, “But so that your liberty become not an offence to the weak;” and 1 Cor. ix. 4, 5, “Have not we liberty to eat and drink? Have not we liberty to lead about a sister, a wife?” 3. But most usually right and authority; as, Matt. xxi. 23, 24, 27, and xxviii. 18; so 2 Cor. x. 8, and xiii. 10: in this last sense especially it is here to be taken in this description of church government.
Power or authority in general is by some thus described: that whereby one may claim or challenge any thing to one’s self, without the injury of any other. Power is exercised either about things, or actions, or persons. 1. About things, as when a man disposes of his own goods, which he may do without wrong to any. 2. About actions, as when a man acts that which offends no law. 3.