Chapter 8: Of the Election of Church Officers


Of the election of church officers.

1.No man may take the honour of a church officer unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. Heb. v. 4. 61

2. Calling unto office is either immediate, by Christ himself, such was the call of the apostles and prophets; this manner of calling ended with them as hath been said: or mediate, by the church. Gal. i. 1. Acts. xiv, 23, and vi. 3.

3. It is meet that before any be ordained or chosen officers, they should first be tried and proved; because hands are not suddenly to be laid upon any, and both elders and deacons must be of honest and good report. 1 Tim. V. 22, and vii. 10. Acts. xvi. 2, and vi. 3.

4. The things in respect of which they are to be tried, are those gifts and virtues which the scripture requireth in men that are to be elected into such places, viz. that elders must be blameless, sober, apt to teach, and endued with such other qualifications as are laid down, 1 Tim. iii.2. Tit. i. 6 to 9. Deacons to be fitted as is directed, Acts. vi. 3. 1 Tim. iii. 8 to 11.

5. Officers are to be called by such churches where-unto they are to minister. Of such moment is the preservation of this power, that the churches exercised it in the presence of the apostles. Acts. xiv. 23, and i. 23, and vi. 3, 4, 3.

6. A church being free, cannot become subject to any, but by a free election; yet when such a people do choose any to be over them in the Lord, then do they become subject, and most willingly submit to their ministry in the Lord, whom they have so chosen. i Gal. v. 13. Heb xiii. 17.

7. And if the church have power to choose their officers and ministers, then in case of manifest unworthiness and delinquency, they have power also to depose them: for to open and shut, to choose and refuse, to constitute in office and remove from office, are acts belonging to the same power. Rom. xvi. 17.

8. We judge it much conducing to the well-being and communion of churches, that where it may conveniently be done, neighbour churches be advised withal, and their 6* help made use of in the trial of church officers, in order to their choice. Cant. viii. 8, 9.

9. The choice of such church officers belongeth not to the civil magistrates, as such, or diocesan bishops, or patrons ; for of these, or any such like, the Scripture is wholly silent, as having any power therein.