II. Subordinate ministerial power, which is either,
1. Indirectly, improperly, and only objectively ecclesiastical or spiritual, (so called, because it is exercised about spiritual or ecclesiastical objects, though formally in its own nature it be properly a mere civil or political power.) This is that power which is allowed to the civil magistrate about religion; he is an overseer of things without the Church, having an external care of religion as a nurse-father, Isa. xlix. 23; as had Hezekiah, Josiah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, &c.; so as, by the law, to restore religion decayed, reform the Church corrupted, protect the Church reformed, &c.
2. Directly, properly, and formally ecclesiastical or spiritual, having respect properly to matters within the Church. This power only belongs to church officers, who are overseers of things within, 1 Cor. iv. 20, 21; 2 Cor. x. 8, and xiii. 10; and this is either, 1. More special and peculiar to the office of some church governors only, as the power of preaching the gospel, dispensing the sacraments, &c., which is only committed to the ministers of the gospel, and which they, as ministers, may execute, in virtue of their office. This is called by some the key of doctrine, or key of knowledge; by others, the power of order, or of special office. See Matt, xxviii. 18-20; Rom. x. 15; 1 Tim. v. 17. 2. More general and common to the office of all church governors, as the power of censures, &c., wherein ruling elders act with ministers, admonishing the unruly, excommunicating the incorrigible, remitting and receiving again of the penitent into church communion. Compare Matt, xviii. 17, 18; 1 Cor. v. 2, 4, 5, 7, 11-13; 2 Cor. ii. 6-12, with Rom. xii. 8; 1 Cor. xii. 28; and 1 Tim. v. 17. This is called the key of discipline, or power of jurisdiction.
Of the special difference of Church Government from other Governments. And first of the Special Rule of Church Government, viz. the Holy Scriptures.
Touching the special difference, whereby church government is in this description distinguished from all other governments whatsoever, it consists of many branches, which will require more large explication and confirmation; and shall be handled, not according to that order, as they are first named in the description, but according to the order of nature, as they most conduce to the clearing of one another, every branch being distinctly laid down, as followeth:
The rule or standard of church government is only the holy Scriptures. Thus in the description, church government is styled a power or authority revealed in the holy Scriptures. For clearing hereof, take this proposition, viz:
Jesus Christ our Mediator hath laid down in his word a perfect and sufficient rule for the government of his visible Church under the New Testament, which all the members of his Church ought to observe and submit unto until the end of the world. For clearing this, weigh these considerations: