The Glory of a True Church- Of the Duty of Church-Members to their Pastor
Of the Duty of Church-Members to their Pastor
1st. ’Tis the Duty of every Member to pray for their Pastor and Teachers. Brethren, pray for us,21 that the Word of the Lord may run and be glorified. Again, saith Paul, Praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the Mystery of Christ. Prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him.22 They that neglect this Duty seem not to care either for their Minister, or their own Souls, or whether Sinners be converted, and the Church edified or not. They pray for their daily Bread, and will they not pray to have the Bread of Life plentifully broken to them?
Motives to this.
1. Ministers Work is great: Who is sufficient for these things?23
2. The Opposition is not small which is made against them.24
3. God’s loud Call is (as well as Ministers themselves) for the Saint’s continual Prayers and Supplication for them.25
4. Their Weaknesses and Temptations are many.
5. The Increase and Edification of the Church depends upon the Success of their Ministry.
6. If they fall or miscarry, God is greatly dishonoured, and his Ways and People reproached.
2dly. They ought to shew a reverential Estimation of them,26 being Christ’s Ambassadors, also called Rulers, Angels, &c. they that honour them, and receive them, honour and receive Jesus Christ. Esteem them very highly in Love for their Work sake.27 Again, he saith, Let the Elders that rule well, be accounted worthy of double Honour, especially they who labour in Word and Doctrine:28 that is, as I conceive, such that are most laborious.
3dly. ’Tis their Duty to submit themselves unto them, that is, in all their Exhortations, good Counsels and Reproofs; and when they call to any extraordinary Duty, as Prayer, Fasting, or days of Thanksgiving, if they see no just cause why such days should not be kept, they ought to obey their Pastor or Elder, as in other cases also. Obey them that have the Rule over you, and submit yourselves.29
4thly. It is their Duty to take care to vindicate them from the unjust Charges of evil Men, or Tongue of Infamy, and not to take up a Reproach against them by report, nor to grieve their Spirits, or weaken their Hands.30
5thly. ‘Tis the Duty of Members to go to them when under Trouble or Temptations.
6thly. It is their Duty to provide a comfortable Maintenance for them and their Families, suitable to their State and Condition. Let him that is ta ught in the Word, communicate to him that teacheth, in all good things.31 Who goeth a Warfare at his own Charge? Who planteth a Vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof?32 &c. Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they that preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel.33 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?34 They should minister to them cheerfully with all readiness of Mind. Ministers are not to ask for their Bread, but to receive it honourably.35 The Ministers Maintenance, tho it is not by Tythes, &c. as under the Law, yet they have now as just a right to a comfortable Maintenance as they had then, the equity of the Duty is the same: Our Saviour, saith Dr. Owen, and the Apostles plead it from grounds of Equity and Justice; and all kind of Laws and rules of Righteousness among Men of all sorts call for it.36
7thly. It is their Duty to adhere to them, and abide by them in all their Trials and Persecutions for the Word. Ye were not ashamed of me in my Bonds, &c.37
8thly. Dr. Owen adds another Duty of the Members to their Pastor,38 viz. to agree to come together upon his Appointment: When they were come, and had gathered the Church together, &c.39
Query, Are there no ruling Elders besides the Pastor?
Answ. There might be such in the Primitive Apostolical Church, but we see no ground to believe it an abiding Office to continue in the Church, but was only temporary.
1. Because we have none of the Qualifications of such Elders mention’d, or how to be chosen.
2. Because we read not particularly what their Work and Business is, or how distinct from preaching Elders; tho we see not but the Church may (if she sees meet) choose some able and discreet Brethren to be Helps in Government.40 We have the Qualifications of Bishops and Deacons directly laid down,41 and how to be chosen, and their Work declared,42 but of no other Office or Officers in the Church, but these only.
Quest. May an Elder of one Church if called, warrantably administer all Ordinances to another?
Answ. No surely;43 for we find no warrant for any such Practice, he being only ordained Pastor or Elder of that particular Church that chose him, &c. and hath no Right or Authority to administer as an Elder in any other where he is not so much as a Member.44
Quest. May a Church call out a Teacher that is no ordained Elder to administer all Ordinances to them?
Ans. You may as well ask, May a Church act disorderly? Why were Ministers to be ordained, if others unordained might warrantably do all their Work? if therefore they have no Person fitly qualified for that Office, they must look out from abroad for one that is. Yet (as we say) Necessity has no Law; provided therefore they can’t do either, it is better their Teacher be called to do it, than that the Church should be without their Food, and Church Ordinances neglected; yet let all Churches take care to organize themselves, and not through Covetousness, or neglect of Duty, rest incompleat Churches, and so under Sin. God is the God of Order, and not of Confusion, in all the Churches of the Saints.45 And how severely did God deal of old with such that meddled with the Priests Work and Office, who were not of the Priesthood, nor called by him to administer in holy things!
Benjamin Keach- The Glory of a True Church, And its Discipline Displayed (1697)