The Church is everywhere represented as one. It is one body, one family, one fold, one kingdom. It is one because pervaded by one Spirit. We are all baptized into one Spirit so as to become, says the apostle, on body.
The Church, however, is a self-governing society, distinct from the State, having its officers and laws, and, therefore, an administrative government of its own.
The Galatians are severely censured for giving heed to false doctrines, and are called to pronounce even an apostle anathema, if he preached another gospel.
The ultimate ground of faith and knowledge is confidence in God.
Ruling elders are declared to be the representatives of the people.
Our first remark on this subject is that the ministry is an office, and not merely a work.
The Independent or Congregational theory includes two principles; first, that the governing and executive power in the Church is in the brotherhood; and secondly, that the Church organization is complete in each worshipping assembly, which is independent of every other.
If all Church power vests in the clergy, then the people are practically bound to passive obedience in all matters of faith and practice; for all right of private judgment is then denied.
That the apostolic office is temporary, is a plain historical fact.
The functions of these elders, therefore, determine the power of the people; for a representative is one chosen by others to do in their name what they are entitled to do in their own persons; or rather to exercise the powers which radically inhere in those for whom they act.
It is a thoroughly anti-christian doctrine that the Spirit of God, and therefore the life and governing power of the Church, resides in the ministry, to the exclusion of the people.
The Popish theory, which assumes that Christ, the Apostles and believers, constituted the Church while our Saviour was on earth, and this organization was designed to be perpetual.
When the great promise of the Spirit was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, it was fulfilled not in reference to the apostles only.
Original sin is the only rational solution of the undeniable fact of the deep, universal and early manifested sinfulness of men in all ages, of every class, and in every part of the world.
So too, in forming a constitution, or in enacting rules of procedure, or making canons, the people do not merely passively assent, but actively cooperate. They have, in all these matters, the same authority as the clergy.
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