1. The giving of laws to his Church. “The law of Christ,” Gal. vi. 2. “Gave commandments to the apostles,” Acts i. 2. “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy,” James iv. 12. “The Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver,” (or statute-maker,) “the Lord is our king,” Isa. xxxiii. 22.
2. The constituting of ordinances, whereby his Church shall be edified: as preaching the word, Matt. x. 7; 1 Cor. i. 17; Matt, xxviii. 18-20; Mark xvi. 15. Administering of the sacraments. Baptism, John i. 33, with Matt. iii. 13, &c., and xxviii. 18, 19. The Lord’s supper, 1 Cor. xi. 20, 23, &c.; Matt. xxvi. 26, &c.; Mark xiv. 22, &c.; Luke xxii. 19, 20. Dispensing of censures, Matt. xvi. 10, with xviii. 15-18, &c.
3. The ordaining and appointing of his own church officers, by whom his ordinances shall be dispensed and managed in his Church. “He gave gifts to men; and he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers,” Eph. iv. 7, 8, 11; compare 1 Cor. xii. 28; 1 Thess. v. 12; Acts xx. 28.
4. The dispensing of Christ’s ordinances, not in the name of magistrates, ministers, churches, councils, &c., but in Christ’s own name. The apostles did “speak and teach in the name of Jesus,” Acts iv. 17, 18. “Whatsoever ye ask in my name,” John xiv. 13, 14, and xvi. 23. “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son,” Matt, xxviii. 18, 19. “They were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus,” Acts xix. 5. “In the name—with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such a one to Satan,” 1 Cor. v. 4. Yea, assemblies of the Church are to be in Christ’s name: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name,” Matt, xviii. 20.
Of the Special Kind, or Peculiar Nature of this Power and Authority.
Having viewed what is the rule of this authority, viz. the holy Scriptures, and what is the fountain of this authority, viz. Jesus Christ our Mediator; now consider the special kind or peculiar nature of this authority, which the description lays down in two several expressions, viz: 1. It is a spiritual power or authority. 2. It is a derived power, &c.
1. The power or authority of church government is a spiritual power. Spiritual, not so perfectly and completely as Christ’s supreme government is spiritual, who alone hath absolute and immediate power and authority over the very spirits and consciences of men; ruling them by the invisible influence of his Spirit and grace as he pleaseth, John iii. 8; Rom. viii. 14; Gal. ii. 20: but so purely, properly, and merely spiritual is this power, that it really, essentially, and specifically differs, and is contradistinct from that power which is properly civil, worldly, and political, in the hand of the political magistrate. Now, that this power of church government is in this sense properly, purely, merely spiritual: and that by divine right may be evidenced many ways according to Scripture; forasmuch as the rule, fountain, matter, form, subject, object, end, and the all of this power, is only spiritual.