Chapter 7: Of Ruling Elders and Deacons


Of ruling elders and deacons.

1. The ruling elder’s office is distinct from the office of pastor and teacher. The ruling elders are not so called, to exclude the pastors and teachers from ruling, because ruling and governing is common to these with the other; whereas attending to teach and preach the word is peculiar unto the former. Rom. xii. 7, 8, 9. 1 Tim. v. 17. 1 Cor. xii. 28. Heb. xiii. 17. 1 Tim.V. 17.

2. The ruling elder’s work is to join with the pastor and teacher in those acts of spiritual rule which are distinct from the ministry of the word and sacraments com-mitted to them. Of which sort these be as followeth:

1.To open and shut the doors of God’s house, by the admission of members approved by the church; by ordination of officers chosen by the church; and by excommunication of notorious and obstinate offenders renounced by the church; and by restoring of penitents forgiven by the church.2. To call the church together when there is occasion, and seasonably to dismiss them again. 3. To prepare matters in private, that in public they may be carried to an end with less trouble, and more speedy dispatch. 4. To moderate the carriage of all matters in the church assembled; as, to propound matters to the church, to order the season of speech and silence, and to pronounce sentence according to the mind of Christ, with the consent of the church. 5. To be guides and leaders to the church, in all matters whatsoever pertaining to church-administrations and actions. 6. To see that none in the church live inordinately, out of rank and place, without a calling, or idly in their calling.7. To prevent and heal such offences in life or in doc-trine, as might corrupt the church. 8. To feed the flock of God with a word of admonition. 9. And as they shall be sent for, to visit and to pray over their sick brethren. 10. And at other times as opportunity shall serve thereunto. 1 Tim. V. 17. 2 Chron. xxiii. 19. Rev. xxi. 12 1 Tim. iv. 14. Matt. xviii. 17. 2 Cor. ii. 7, 8. Acts. ii. 6, and xxi. 18, 22, 23, and vi. 2, 3, and xiii. 15. 2 Cor. viii. I’J. Heb. xiii. 7, 17. 2 Thess, ii. 10, 11, 12. Acts, xx.28, 32. 1 Thess. v. 12. James, v. 14. Acts. xx. 20.

3. The office of a deacon is instituted in the church by the Lord Jesus; sometimes they are called helps. The scripture telleth us how they should be qualified, ” Grave, not double tongued, not given to much wine, not given to filthy lucre.” They must first be proved, and then use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. The office and work of the deacon, is to receive the offerings of the church, gifts given to the church, and to keep the treasury of the church, and therewith to serve the tables which the church is to provide for; as the Lord’s table, the table of the ministers, and of such as are in necessity, to whom they are to distribute in simplicity. Acts, vi 3,6. Phil. i. 1. 1 Tim. iii. 8. 1 Cor. xii. 28. 1 Tim. iii. 8, 9.Acts, iv. .35, and vi. 2, 3. Rom. xii. 8.

4. The office therefore being limited unto the care of the temporal good things of the church, it extends not unto the attendance upon, and administration of the spiritual things thereof, as the word and sacraments, or the like. 1 Cor. vii. 17.

5. The ordinance of the apostle, and practice of the church, commends the Lord’s Day as a fit time for the contributions of the saints. 1 Cor. xvi. 1, 2, 3.

6. The instituting of all these officers in the church, is the work of God himself, of the Lord Jesus Christ, of the Holy Ghost: and therefore such officers as he hath not appointed are altogether unlawful either to be placed in the church, or to be retained therein, and are to be looked at as human creatures, mere inventions and appointments of man, to the great dishonour of Christ Jesus, the Lord of his house, the king of his church, whether popes, patriarchs, cardinals, arch-bishops, lord-bishops, arch-deacons, officials, commissaries, and the like. These and the rest of that hierarchy and retinue, not being plants of the Lord’s planting, shall all be certainly rooted out and cast forth. 1 Cor. xii. 28. Eph. iv. 8, 11. Acts, xx 28. Mat. xv. 13.

7. The Lord hath appointed ancient widows, where they may be had, to minister in the church, in giving attendance to the sick, and to give succour unto them, and others in the like necessities. 1 Tim. v. 9, 10.