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embodied church, namely, 1. Presbyters, or Bishops, or Elders; and 2. Deacons. For the Presbyters they made a division of labor in respect, first, of teaching and overseeing, or second, of overseeing mainly, with the duty of teaching occasionally, as need might be. For this division of labor, they thought they had the authority of Scripture, as the Presbyterians also universally thought, in 1st Timothy v. 17. But this office of ruling Elder, as a separate distinction, came gradually to be merged into a board or committee of members of the church for the assistance of the Pastor or Pastors. According to the usage of Congregationalism, this body is now generally chosen for a limited number of years; whereas, our fathers elected them, under the name of Elders, for life. Bishops, Deacons, and the Independency of the Churches, were then, as now, the elements of Congregationalism, as found in the New Testament, with the power, vested in each church, by its Supreme Head, of appointing each its own number of those officers of Christ, as the edification and usefulness of the church might require. The office of Deacon, our fathers, in contradistinction from the French Reformed Churches, held to be for life, or during the continuance of that fitness in the incumbents, in reference to which they were originally chosen. And this also has been the usage of Congregationalism, with some individual exceptions, ever since.
Here, as to Church Administrations (including Baptism and the Lord's Supper), and Holy Days, Mr. Prince enumerates two more articles :
9. As to Church Administrations, they held that Baptism is a seal of the covenant of grace, and should be dispensed only to visible believers, with their unadult children ; and this in primitive purity, as in the times of Christ and his Apostles, without the sign of the cross, or any other invented ceremony. And that the church or its officers have no authority to inflict any penalties of a temporal
nature, excommunication being wholly spiritual, in a rejection of the scandalous from the communion of the church.
10. And lastly, as for Holy Days: They were very strict for the observation of the Lord's Day, in a pious memory of the Incarnation, Birth, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and Benefits of Christ; as also, solemn Fastings and Thanksgivings, as the State of Providence requires. But all other times not prescribed in Scripture they utterly relinquished. And as in general they could not conceive anything a part of Christ's religion, which he has not required, they therefore renounced all human right of inventing, and much less of imposing it on others.
“ These,” says Mr. Prince, “ were the main principles of that scriptural and religious liberty, for which this people suffered in England, fled to Holland, traversed the ocean, and sought a dangerous retreat in these remote and savage deserts of North America ; that here they might fully enjoy them, and leave them to their last posterity.”
Now it is a strange thing that any man in his senses should have dreamed that King James would ever put his seal of toleration to these principles ; principles that in their very nature imply and impel the rejection of all toleration from any earthly power, as a usurpation of Christ's power by man, inconsistent with Christian liberty. Sir John Worstenholme saw this, pretty clearly, when he said that the showing of the letters of Robinson and Brewster would spoil all.
Here was Hierarchism on the one side, and Congregationalism on the other. There are only these two Ecclesiastical divisions in the world, all else being merged in this great question, whether man shall reign, or Christ, over the conscience. Now let us look at the etymology of these two great words.
(1.) 'Isgápxns, a Steward or President of Sacred rites. Hierarchism, Supremacy-in-sacred-rite-ism. A despotism by and with sacred rites. An imposition of priestly forms, by man's power, upon the conscience. The constitution of a hierarchical corporation, with supreme power.
* Prince, 91-93.
(2.) Congrego. To collect together; for example, the gathering together in one the children of God, as in John xi. 52. The word would be supplied, if in Greek, by Συνάγω και συναγάγη being the word used in that passage in John. It is used also in 2 Thess. ii. 1, "our gathering together into Christ,” ημών επισυναγωγής επ' αυτόν ; and also in Hebrews x. 25, of the Christian Congregation. The Apostle might well say, “ We beseech you by our Congregationalism into Christ.”
And I, if I be listed up, said our Blessed Lord, will draw all men unto me. Now it is this gathering of men into Christ, in contradistinction from the impressment of them under a hierarchism of rites and rubrics, that constitutes true Congregationalism. It is the lifting up of Christ as the sole and Supreme Head, Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Christ as the sum and substance of all divinity, Christ as the only Lord of Conscience, of the Church, and of Sacred Rites in it: this is that Congregationalism : that which will gather all men at length into Christ's own liberty, the liberty of serving and edifying one another freely, in love.
Now it is remarkable that the first person under the New Testament Dispensation, who prophesied of this gathering together of the children of God in Christ, and of course
of the destruction of the Hierarchism of Christianity, as • well as of Judaism, was Caiaphas the High Priest. The
Congregationalism of Christianity, the Synagoguizing of the people of God under Christ, instead of the Hierarchiziny of them under an earthly head, was here foreshadowed. The Congregationalism was then beginning, and the Hierarchism should then have stopped ; instead of which, Caiaphas and his system still kept up the conflict with Christ and his, with the Apostles and theirs; and in all the ages of Christianity ever since, the Hierarchism and the Congregationalism have been the great decisive, separating, and conflicting systems. Perhaps the conflict is to continue, even till the prediction of the old High Priest shall be completely fulfilled, in the gathering together of all the children of God into one fold, under one Shepherd, in the unity of the Spirit, in one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism !
TIE FIRST CIVIL COMPACT.-TOLERATION, CONNIVANCE, LI.
BERTY OF CONSCIENCE.FOUNDATIONS OF THE STATE.
REPETITION OF THE FREE COVENANTS.
We have dwelt upon the first free Church Covenant, a mighty and glorious phenomenon, the creation of eternal principles, or rather the creation of Divine grace, and the expression of principles that flow from time into eternity, and bind the whole family of God in heaven and on earth together. Out of this springs the free civil covenant, for freedom in the State is the offspring of Christian freedom in the Church, the creation of that liberty with which Christ makes his people free. That first Church compact, that old, free, Lincolnshire, Pilgrim church compact, that phenomenon of Conventicles and dissent, is just what the nations of Europe need now, at this hour of revolution, to go before the free civil compact, to prepare its way, and give it form, life, and stability.
But men need a vast deal of discipline and instruction on this matter of a free conscience both in church and state, before they can understand it. Our Pilgrim fathers began the practice, under God's good providence, even before they had learned the theory; indeed they learned the theory by the practice.