3. By proper immediate receptacle, or first subject of power, understand, that subject, seat, or receptacle of power, which first and immediately received this power from Jesus Christ; and consequently was intrusted and authorized by him, to put forth and exercise that power in his Church for the government thereof. And here two things must be carefully remembered: 1. That we distinguish betwixt the object and subject of this power. The object for which, for whose good and benefit all this power is given, is primarily the general visible Church, Ephes. iv. 7, 10-12; 1 Cor. xii. 28; Rom. xii. 5,6, &c. Secondarily, particular churches, as they are parts and members of the general. But the subject receiving to which the power is derived, is not the Church general or particular, but the officers or governors of the Church. 2. That we distinguish also betwixt the donation of the power, and the designation of particular persons to offices ecclesiastical. This designation of persons to the offices of key bearing or ruling may be done first and immediately by the Church, in nominating or electing her individual officers which is allowed to her; yet is no proper authoritative act of power. But the donation of the power itself is not from the Church as the fountain, but immediately from Christ himself, 2 Cor. xi. 8, and xiii. 10. Nor is it to the Church as the subject, but immediately to the individual church officers themselves, who consequently, in all the exercise of their power, act as the ministers and stewards of Christ, 1 Cor. iv. 1, putting forth their power immediately received from Christ, not as the substitutes or delegates of the Church putting forth her power, which from Christ she mediately conveys to them, as Independents do imagine, but by us is utterly denied.
For confirmation of this proposition thus explained and stated; consider these few arguments:
Argum. I. The community of the faithful, or body of the people, have no authentic commission or grant of proper spiritual power for church government; and therefore they cannot possibly be the first subject or the proper immediate receptacle of such power from Christ. We may thus argue:
Major. Whomsoever Jesus Christ hath made the immediate receptacle or first subject of proper formal power for governing of his Church, to them this power is conveyed by some authentic grant or commission.
Minor. But the community of the faithful, or body of the people, have not this power conveyed unto them by any authentic grant or commission.
Conclusion. Therefore Jesus Christ our Mediator hath not made the community of the faithful, or body of the people, the immediate receptacle or first subject of proper formal power for governing of his Church.