And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee:
is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?
—Zechariah 3.2.

[The Form and Order of the Admission of Elders, by James Renwick.]
 
THE FORM AND ORDER
of the
ADMISSION OF ELDERS,
As done by MR. JAMES RENWICK,
At Darmead and Several other Places of the Country where he Laboured.
WE desire thankfully to acknowledge to the Lord's praise, that he did give unto our church, doctrine and policy; having the measuring-line of the sanctuary stretched over the same; so that, we may say, we were once as a wall, made by a plumb-line, Amos 7.7. Also, we desire to confess it, as our great sin and shame, that our practice hath not been agreeable to our principles, and if weighed in the balance, we will be found too light: For, in these things whereunto we had attained, we have not walked by the same rule, and minded the same things, Phil. 3.16. Who may not see, that from the corrupt mixtures, in church-officers and members, there is a great cause, why so much wrath is gone forth from the Lord, against us, and doth abide upon us? And his way of dealing with Scotland, now for many years, speaks aloud, that his design is, to purge his house, that his ordinances may be pure; and also, his officers and people: But, though he hath been purging us, we refuse to be purged; for every furnace discovers more dross, and every sieve more chaff. There is a perverse spirit in the midst of us, which causeth us to err, in every work, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit; and we eat every man the flesh of his own arm, Manasseh Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh, and they together are against Judah, Isaiah 9.20,21. And now, there is, as it were, a conspiracy among all sorts to return to Egypt, to build again the walls of Jericho, and to repair the ruins of Edom.

But that I may come to the purpose; the admission of ruling-elders, in this broken and low state of our church, hath been long delayed, and much impeded: Howbeit, through the good hand of the Lord, we have, after some consultations and disputations, prayer and fasting, fallen upon it; and being now to admit some to this great trust and charge, I shall show, (1.) What is understood in scripture by the name elder. (2.) I shall prove from the word of God, the institution of the ruling elder to be divine. (3.) I shall show what moveth us to admit ruling-elders at this time. (4.) I shall labour to take off what may be objected against our present proceeding. (5.) I shall speak of the vocation, or calling of ruling-elders. (6.) I shall show their duties, and take the persons, elected and tried, engaged thereunto; and also, speak a word unto the duties whereunto the people are bound. {560}

I. As to the first, the name, elder, in scripture, doth signify divers things. (1.) It signifieth old men, 1 Tim. 5.1. (2.) These who have lived in the times of old, Matth. 15.2. (3.) Honourable and worthy men, Isaiah 3.2. (4.) It is the name of a spiritual officer in the church of Christ, Acts 14.23. These who bear rule in God's house, are called elders; because of the knowledge, gifts, experience, prudence and gravity, wherewith they ought to be endowed. And there are several sorts of spiritual officers, who in the scripture are named elders: The doctors or teaching elders, the ministers or preaching elders, and the ruling, or governing elders: These three are often, in the new testament, comprised under the general name of elders, Acts 15.6; 1 Pet. 5.1. It is the ruling elder, whom we have now to do with; who is so called, not because the power of ruling and governing the church belongs to him alone; for that belongs also to the teaching and preaching elders, or to the doctors and pastors; but, because to rule and govern, is the principal and chief part of his charge and employment; it is the highest act of his office: It is not competent for him to teach, that belongs to the doctor; nor to preach, that belongs to the minister, or pastor: But his office is comprised within the compass of ruling and governing the church: And therefore, (I say) he is the governing, or ruling elder: The apostle calleth him, Him that ruleth, Rom. 12.8. and governments, 1 Cor. 12.28. putting the abstract for the concrete, governments for governors. Hence,

Then they greatly err, who call them laick-elders [lay-elders], as if they were a part of the people only; and not to be reckoned among the officers of the Lord's house; whom the popish church in their pride calls the clergy; that is, the Lord's inheritance, in opposition to the laity, or people, whom they look upon as base, and inferior to the other, in worth and excellency: Whereas all the Lord's people are his portion and the lot of his inheritance, Deut. 32.9; 2 Pet. 5.3.

They are also in a mistake, who call these only ruling elders, who sit in presbyteries, synods, and general assemblies, allowing others the name of elders, but not ruling-elders: But every elder, in the Lord's house, is a ruling-elder; because the power and exercise of rule and government belongeth to every elder; though some of them, upon special occasions, be called to a more eminent exercise of it than others.

II. As to the second, I prove from the word of God the institution of the ruling-elder to be divine.

The Lord Jesus Christ, upon whose shoulders the government is, and who is faithful in all his house, hath, in his eternal wisdom, thought fit to appoint such an officer in the {561} church, for the right and orderly governing thereof. It is true, that by the sloth, or rather the pride of teachers, whilst they alone would seem to be somewhat, and by the policy of Satan, and inadvertency of the church, these officers were, for sundry ages together, out of use in the Christian church. But certain it is, that both the Jewish synagogue, and thereafter the Christian church, had seniors or elders, without whose counsel nothing was done in the church. The Jewish church had such, as appears from 2 Chron. 19.8; Jer. 29.1; Matt. 16.21. And that the Christian church also had them, in the primitive and purest times thereof, appears from the testimony of ancient writers, as, Ambrose, Augustine, and others. But we have a more sure word for the divine institution of ruling-elders, in the Christian church; to wit, The testimony of God in the new testament: For clearing whereof, I shall adduce two or three scriptures.

The first is, Rom. 12.6-8: Having then gifts differing, according to the grace that is given to us; whether prophecy, let us prophesy, according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering; or he that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation; he that giveth let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. In which text the apostle doth first comprehend all the several kinds of all standing officers in the church of God, under two several heads, to wit, prophecy, whereby is meant, the ordinary faculty of right understanding and expounding the scriptures; and ministry, under which is comprehended, all other church officers and employments. To each of these he addeth their general duties, to wit, That he who prophesieth, should do it according to the proportion of faith; that is, according to the measure of the knowledge of the word of faith, that he hath received of God; and he that ministers, let him wait on his ministering, that is, let him do it faithfully and diligently. Then, he subdivides these two generals, into the special officers contained under them; He divides him that prophesieth into, him that teacheth, and him that exhorteth; or, into the doctor, to whom the word of teaching or instruction belongs; and the pastor, to whom the word of exhortation is competent; and under him that ministereth, he comprehendeth, him that giveth; and him that sheweth mercy, by whom is meant the deacon, who is appointed for the supply of the poor; and him that ruleth, by whom can be meant no other than the ruling-elder, seeing an ordinary ruling officer in the church, who is different from the pastor and teacher, is here spoken of by the apostle.

The second place of scripture is, 1 Cor. 12.28: And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly {562} teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Here Paul reckoneth several officers of the church, some extraordinary, as apostles, prophets, powers, or miracles, gifts of healing, kinds of tongues; some ordinary, such as teachers, or ordinary church officers, who are exercised in the word: helps, that is the deacons, who are appointed for the help and relief of the poor; and governments, that is, the governing or ruling-elders; for this cannot be any other of the church officers, because these he named besides.

The third place of scripture is, 1 Tim. 5.17: Let the elders that rule well, be counted worthy of double honour, especially who labour in the word and doctrine. Which text distinguisheth two sorts of elders, to whom Christ hath committed the power of ruling: One sort, who do also labour in the word and doctrine, as pastors and teachers: Another sort, who do only rule, and doing it well, are counted worthy of double honour; and these are the ruling-elders.

Now the office of the ruling-elder being of divine institution, these that are once lawfully called thereunto, and have gifts from God meet to exercise the same (unless they be removed therefrom, because of miscarriage) are still elders; though (happily) in congregations, where many qualified men may be found, some may be permitted, for a time, to surcease from the exercise of their charge, and others put in their room, as was among the Levites under the law, in serving the temple by courses.

III. As to the third, I shall show what moveth us to admit ruling-elders at this time: As,

First, The necessity of such an officer in the house of God: He is institute in the word, and we ought to constitute him; for without him government and discipline cannot be rightly exercised. It was still in a declining time of the church, that this office was little regarded: And because of the singular necessity and usefulness thereof, it has been a great eye-sore to Satan and his instruments: And in former times and cases of the church, like unto this, the admitting of qualified men unto this trust and charge, hath been followed with no small blessing, and success and progress in reformation; which we pray God, may be the consequent of this our action.

Secondly, The perpetuation, and continuation of such an officer in the house of God: For, the old, or former elders, are many of them dead, and many of them turned so grossly scandalous, and fallen into such ugly defection, that they have rendered themselves incapable of being continued, or acknowledged as such officers.

IV. As to the fourth, I labour to take off what may be objected against our present proceeding; and this I do by {563} answering to some questions, that may be most orderly proponed.

The first question is: It is usual, that ruling-elders be admitted to respective parishes; but, this admission is not so; therefore, how can it be sustained as lawful?

I answer, 1st, Ruling-elders are indeed admitted to respective parishes, in the case and time of a constituted church; but now in the time of this her broken and declining state, there is a moral impossibility of doing it so; For, the most part of the people in the several parishes of the land are either turned avowed and stated enemies unto God, or become such that they will do nothing for God, and have no meddling in such matters: And the want of that accidental circumstance, can no ways warrant us to forbear such necessary duty.

2dly, These ruling-elders who now are to be admitted, are to exercise their office over such as elect them; yea, and all such as will submit unto them, which none concurring with the testimony of the day, will refuse. Howbeit, they are particularly and specially tied, to take inspection of that bounds, where they are chosen; and therefore, they are to endeavour to reside there, so far as the troubles of the time may allow.

3dly, They are, as to their not being fixed in respective parishes, in the like circumstances with the ministers, who, in this broken state of the church, do officiate to all who employ them; and if this manner be right to them, so it is also to the ruling-elders in the present condition of affairs.

The second question is: How can elders be admitted by any ministers, but these who are settled and fixed in their respective parishes?

I answer, We find in scripture, that it hath been done in the growing state of the church, Acts 14.23. And therefore it is most lawful for ministers, in her disturbed and broken state, when people invite them, receive ordinances at their hands, and set the men, whom they choose, before them; to admit such to this office, providing that, after trial, they be found qualified; which accordingly hath been practiced in the churches of Christ in former ages: Yea, even in the time of a constitute church, though it be most usual and ordinary, that elders are admitted by the ministers of their respective parishes; yet, in a case that a parish wanted a minister, that work was to be performed by one or more ministers of the presbytery.

The third question is: This way of admission seems to be schismatical; yea, the setting up a church within a church; therefore, how can it be warrantable?

I answer, There is nothing like schism in it: For, though we have not the concurrence of these ministers and elders, {564} who are departed out of the way, with whom we cannot join in other parts of their office; yet this work is agreed upon by the faithful ministers and elders, who own the testimony of the day. There is here no new thing; there is here no innovation; there is here no setting up a church within a church, but an adding to the number of her officers, that the old church, to say so, may not die among our hands.

The fourth question: If our church shall come to a constituted settled state, then what shall become of these elders? How, or where shall they exercise their function?

I answer, That even as the ministers, who now travel about, in discharging their office, mostly for the advantage of the church, in the case wherein she now is, would then be ministers of that particular flock or parish, whereunto they got application; so, the ruling-elder, with application to the respective parish, where then they might reside, would become their elders; and no civil power on earth usurping a supremacy, or ecclesiastical power, miswielding the keys, can exauctorate these, whom now we admit; unless their own scandals give an ecclesiastical power (conscientiously using the keys) sufficient ground for it, which we pray the Lord may prevent.

V. As to the fifth, I speak of the vocation, or calling of ruling-elders: As no man is to intrude himself into any sacred function in the house of God, Heb. 5.4. so, before any take upon him to exercise the office of a ruling-elder, he ought to be lawfully called thereunto: This call is inward, or outward: The inward call is the testimony of a good conscience, concerning some measure of ability and gifts for the charge; and sincere and honest inclinations and purposes, to employ these gifts for the honour of God, the advancement of the kingdom of Christ Jesus, and the good of souls. The outward calling is, to be after the same manner with that of other church officers: And it stands (1.) In their election. (2.) The trial of their carriage and gifts. (3.) Their admission to the charge.

1. The election is to be made, by these amongst whom they are to bear charge, Acts 6.3,5. and 14.23. That it may be gone about in the more orderly way, it is fit that a nomination be made of the best qualified persons, for the employment, by the minister and elders; in case of the want of elders, by the most judicious and godly members; particularly masters of families: And that intimation of the names of the persons nominated, be publicly made to the people, among whom they are to bear rule; and they desired, in case of their not being satisfied, as having exceptions, or knowing others better qualified, to represent the same. {565}

2. The trial is to be made by the minister and eldership: And, they are to be tried, both in regard of their conversation, that it be blameless and holy; and also, in regard of their knowledge, and experience in the things of God, and affairs of his house, and of their ability and prudence for government. The apostle, 1 Timothy 3.10, speaking of deacons, which is the lowest rank of the officers of the church, requires, that they first be proved; And more especially ought the elders; yea, the same reasons and grounds, that plead for the trial of a minister, plead also for the trial of ruling-elders, in a way suitable to the qualifications required in them.

3. The admission is to be made by the minister, in presence of the whole congregation, with the preaching of the word concerning their duty; and with prayer and humiliation, concerning the spirit of their calling to be poured out upon them; and that the pleasure of the Lord may prosper in their hands: At which time, they are solemnly to engage themselves unto all the duties of that holy office; and the people also are to engage themselves, to submit unto them in the Lord.

Now this order hath been followed for the persons, who now are to be admitted into this great trust: They have been elected by their respective societies, among whom they are particularly to bear rule; and tried by the minister and elders, and found, (in a tolerable measure) qualified for that honourable employment. And that we may proceed to admission, we desire you who have been chosen and proven, for bearing the office of ruling-elders, to stand up.———————I ask, if ye be all willing to take on the charge of ruling-elders in the church of Christ.————————

VI. So I come, in the sixth place, to show you the duties of ruling-elders, to take you engaged thereunto.

The duties are, either personal, and relate to your conversation; or, official, and relate to the office. Your personal qualifications, or the duties of your conversation, are the same with these that the apostle requires in the conversation of a minister, 1 Tim. 3.2-7; 4.12, and 6.11. Also Titus 1.6-8. For under the name of Episkopoi, or overseers, he comprehends all these officers, who have oversight and charge of souls. But that ye may more distinctly know the duties of your conversation, from these scriptures, I shall subdivide them into negative and positive duties: The negative duties show you what you must not be; and the positive, what you must be, in regard of your conversation.


NEGATIVE DUTIES, are

(1.) Ye must not be given to wine; ye must not be lovers {566} nor followers of strong drink, nor tipple away time in ale-houses. (2.) Ye must not be covetous nor greedy of filthy lucre. (3.) Ye must not be soon angry, neither upon real, nor conceived cause of provocation. (4.) Ye must not be strikers nor brawlers, nor given to quarrellings and contentions. (5.) Ye must not be self-willed, adhering pertinaciously, and without reason, to your own judgments, and refusing to hearken to the judgment of your brethren, though sound and wholesome. (6.) Ye must not be novices, or such as are newly come to the faith, lest ye be puffed up with pride, and fall into the condemnation of the devil: The spirits of novices are not yet well ballasted, nor brought low by frequent exercises of the cross; and so come to be more easily puffed up: Therefore, there is need that ye be exercised soldiers of Jesus Christ, and who by experience are taught to know the wiles of the devil, and are able to endure hardness.


POSITIVE DUTIES

(1.) Ye must be blameless, that is, without offence towards God and man. (2.) Ye must be vigilant, watchful over your own souls, that no temptation prevail upon you; ready to lay hold upon every opportunity of well-doing. (3.) Ye must be sober and temperate, of a sound and humble mind moderating your own appetites and affections, and satisfying yourselves with a moderate use of the creatures and things of this world. (4.) Ye must be chaste, shunning all lusts, and every immodest and unbecoming carriage. (5.) Ye must be holy; careful to exercise the life of religion, and power of godliness, in all your conversation. (6.) Ye must be just and upright in your dealings among men, deceiving no man, and withholding from no man what is his due. (7.) Ye must be moderate and not rigorous, nor exacting the highest of the law in your dealings; but in your own particulars of a condescending nature, and remitting something of strict justice. (8.) Ye must be given to hospitality; ready to receive strangers, especially the poor and these who are of the household of faith. (9.) Ye must be lovers of good men, whose souls cleave to these who fear God, having such an estimation above all others, cherishing them, and conversing ordinarily with them, and familiarly with them. (10.) Ye must be apt to teach, that is, men of knowledge and able to instruct others, of willing and ready minds to teach others; which is not so meant, as if it were requisite for you to be endued with the gift of instruction and exhortation, competent to the teacher and pastor; or that ye may and ought to employ yourselves therein: But of that fitness and ability to teach, that is competent to your calling, which ye must be ready and willing to exercise, {567} so far as is competent to you or belongs to you. (11.) Ye must be patient, waiting upon your duty, without wearying, notwithstanding of difficulties, and bearing the delays, untractableness, and injuries of others. (12.) Ye must be of a good behaviour, men of a grave and stayed, yet of an affable and courteous carriage; neither light nor vain, to the losing of your authority, and rendering yourselves contemptible; nor surly and self-pleasing to the discouraging and scaring away of the flock, by your needless distance and austerity. (13.) Ye must be stable in the truths of God; holding fast the faithful word, which ye have been taught, without wavering and turning aside to error. (14.) Ye must be of a good report of these, who are without; lest ye fall into reproach, and the snare of the devil: Not that ye must be without the reproach of a wicked and malignant generation; for they reproached Christ, the Prophets, and Apostles. But that ye must be of such a blameless conversation, sober and Christian walk, as may extort a testimony even from these, who know not God, and by well-doing put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, that if any speak evil of you, as evil doers, they may be ashamed who speak falsely against your good conversation in Christ. (15.) Ye must perform your relative duties. You who have families must rule well your own houses. This ruling well imports, not only an ability for doing of it; but also, making conscience of and actually performing these duties that are required, for the right ordering of a Christian family.

I proceed, in the next place, to show your official duties, or the duties of your office and calling: And I subdivide them into more private and more public duties. The more private shew you, what you are to perform yourselves alone; and the more public, what ye are to perform jointly with the rest of the overseers of the house of God.

The more private duties of your calling are these, that Christians are bound to perform each one to other, by the law of charity and love, and much more ye by virtue of your office. As,

(1.) Ye must instruct, John 4.29; Acts 18.26. (2.) Ye must exhort, Heb. 10.24,25. (3.) Ye must admonish and rebuke, Lev. 19.17. (4.) Ye must comfort the afflicted, and support the weak, 1 Thess. 5.11. (5.) Ye must restore these that are fallen, Gal. 6.1. And so also endeavour to prevent the falling, or straying of any, and their countenancing or strengthening any course of iniquity or defection. (6.) Ye must reconcile these, that are at variance, Matt. 5.9. (7.) Ye must pray one for another, Jude 20. (8.) Ye must visit the sick and these who are in distress, Matt. 25.36. The scripture doth expressly mention some of these duties as incumbent {568} upon ruling-elders, as admonition, 1 Thess 5.12; visiting and praying over the sick, James 5.14; feeding the flock by instruction, exhortation, rebuke, and comfort, in such a way as is competent to their station, Acts 20.28; and the rest we may warrantably gather by analogy and proportion: For if private Christians be obliged thereunto, much more are Christian elders in a special way, who have the charge of souls. These things are well expressed in the sixth chapter of the second book of discipline, "As pastors and doctors (say they) should be diligent in teaching and sowing the seed of the word; so, the elders should be careful in seeking the fruit of the same of the people. It appertains to them to assist the pastor in examination of them that come to the Lord's table; and in visiting the sick: They should cause the acts of the assemblies, as well particularly as general, to be put in execution carefully. They should be diligent in admonishing all men of their duty, according to the rule of the evangelist: Things that they cannot correct by private admonition, they should bring to the eldership."

The more public duties of your calling are these which lie upon you, in the assemblies, or courts of the church, which are made of teaching-elders, preaching-elders, and ruling-elders. These assemblies are congregational, classical, provincial, general—or national—and œcumenical. These things which are handled in the assemblies of the church, are, either matters of faith, matters of order, matters of discipline, or that which concerneth the sending of the church-officers. According to which, they have a fourfold power.

First, Dogmatic, whereby they judge of truth and error, in points of doctrine, according to the word of God only. Secondly, Diatactic, whereby they discern and judge of the circumstances of these things, that belong to the worship of God; as times, places, persons, and all such particulars in ecclesiastic affairs (as are not determined in the word) according to the general rules thereof, concerning order and decency, avoiding of scandal, doing all to the glory of God and edifying of the church. 3dly, Critic, or corrective, whereby the scandalous are censured, and the penitent received again into the ordinances and fellowship of the church. 4thly, Exousiastic, whereby church officers are sent and authorized, and power given unto them to serve the house of God.

All these assemblies are not to exercise all these powers, but to keep themselves within their due bounds; the inferior leaving these things that are of more common concernment to the superiors. But in all these powers ruling-elders have a share, and do put forth the same in exercise according to the measure that belongs to the assembly, whereof they are members, Acts 15.6,22,23. Howbeit the execution of some decrees {569} of church-assemblies, such as, the imposition of hands, the pronouncing the sentence of excommunication, receiving of penitents, the intimation of the deposition of ministers, and such like, doth belong to the ministers alone.

But because the government, and more frequent duties of ruling elders, lieth (for the most part) in the exercise of their share of the power of censuring scandal and scandalous persons, and trying and admitting of penitents; Therefore, I show you somewhat of the right way of following your duty in these things. As,

1st, Ye must exercise your power over all persons within your charge indifferently and impartially; over the rich as well as the poor, the high as well as the low, your kinsfolk as well as others, James 2.1, Divers weights and divers measures are an abomination to the Lord; yea you must exercise it over these of your own number; and also, over teaching and preaching elders, Acts 20.28.

2d, Ye must exercise your power towards all sorts of scandals and offences, 2 Thes. 3.6. The acts of our church do appoint that, whatsoever it be, that might spot a Christian congregation, ought not to escape either admonition or censure. Therefore ye must take notice of all scandalous omissions and commissions.

3d, Ye must not bring in civil questions and debates before the assemblies of the church, John 18.36.

4th, Ye must observe this order in taking notice of offences: If the offence be private, and known but to a few, then follow the order prescribed unto you by Christ, Matt. 18.15-17. If the offence be public, and open, then is the offender, without previous admonitions, to be delated to the session, 1 Tim. 5.20.

5th, In these delations, you must not, upon every rumour, or jealousy, or suspicion, bring men to be questioned publicly, as scandalous walkers; but ye are first to make diligent and prudent enquiry about the truth of the matter, and to see if it can be proven by witnesses; or, if the scandal thereof be common and flagrant, or attended with pregnant likelihoods, and presumptions of truth, before ye bring it to public.

6th, In the matter of delations and censure, ye must, in the fear of God, and sincerity of your heart, take heed, that fear, or favour, or solicitations, or threatenings, or gifts, or bribes, make you not wink at the faults of any; and that passion, or malice, or private quarrels and particulars, make you not rip up, delate, or censure the miscarriage of any: And also, that ye carry yourselves with tenderness, compassion, and moderation towards the offender, Gal. 6.1, that {570} ye may commend yourselves to every man's conscience, 2 Cor. 4.2.

7th, Ye must not use, nor inflict any civil punishment upon persons convicted of scandal: The kingdom of Jesus Christ and the censures thereof are spiritual, and not of this world, John 18.36.

8th, Ye must not use the censures of the church as a bodily punishment, or penance to satisfy for sin; but as a spiritual medicine, for humbling and gaining of the soul: All church-censures, even excommunication itself, are ordained of God for this end, 1 Cor. 5.5. The word satisfaction, may admit of a tolerable construction in church-censures, in order to the removing of the scandal; but this being so much abused in the popish church, and the hearts of men being so prone to turn gospel repentance into a mere legal penance, and to conceive, that by a mere outward submission and obedience to the censures of the church, the guilt of their sin is done away before God: Therefore, ye would carefully shun every thing that may give occasion to the fostering of this pernicious opinion, and take due pains to instruct the offenders, in the true nature and ends of the censures of the church.

9th, Ye must take pains upon persons convicted of scandals, to bring them to repentance, and to have them fitted to evidence and declare the same in public, before the congregation, that so the scandal may be removed.

10th, Ye must not desire, or appoint, any to profess repentance before the congregation, until the signs thereof appear in them: For, it is but a mocking, to put such to public repentance, who neither understand what sin is, what repentance is, what grace is, nor by whom God's favours and mercies are purchased: For this, see what is set down in the form and order of public repentance, appointed by the assembly 1567.

Lastly, When the signs and evidences of unfeigned repentance do appear in these who have offended; ye must show yourselves ready and willing to receive them, with all tenderness and compassion, and to forgive and comfort them, and confirm your love towards them, 2 Cor. 2.7,8.

Now these are the duties briefly and summarily holden forth unto you.—But, before we take you engaged, we will pray.—————————

Do ye give your adherence to the scriptures of the old and new testaments, our confession of faith, as it is received and approven by the general assembly of this church, our catechisms larger and shorter, our covenants national and solemn league, and to the acts of our lawful general assemblies, for promoval and defence of reformation? And also, unto the {571} testimony of our day, against popery, prelacy, Erastianism, indulgence, tyranny, sectarianism, schism, defection, and all heresy and error; as it is stated and owned by the present witnessing and suffering remnant, according to the word of God, and the foresaids? And do ye firmly and unfeignedly purpose and resolve, to continue all the days of your lives in adherence to these? so that no terror or persuasion of men shall turn you aside, either to compliance with iniquity, or deserting of duty.1

Now, do ye undertake the office of ruling-elders in the church of Christ, and solemnly engage before the Lord, that ye shall be faithful, diligent, and watchful over the flock committed to your charge, and in all the duties of that holy and honourable employment?

And ye who are the people, ye are taken engaged to obey these ruling-elders, and to submit yourselves to them in the Lord; for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account: And to honour them, and highly esteem them in love for their work's sake, according as is prescribed unto you, Heb. 13.17; 1 Thes. 5.12,13. If ye shall misregard their office, disdain their persons, slight their wholesome instructions and exhortations, and neglect their sound and seasonable admonitions and rebukes, ye shall be found to despise Christ, contemn his ordinances, reject the means [both] of your edification, and to save your own souls, in the sight of the holy one, when he shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thus Mr. James Renwick admitted, or ordained elders (still concluding the work with prayer) not only at the two times and places foresaid, but at other times in several other places, in that disturbed and afflicted state of the church; which the unbiassed reader may perceive, was no less orderly, solemn, and conform to scripture-rule, than if it had been in a settled and constituted church. Yea, some may observe how far it excels the superficial manner of admitting elders by many in a settled and (as is pretended, well) constituted church. And if elders, admitted in our days, have not been so well preadmonished of their duties, or be not conscientiously diligent and faithful in the discharge of their several duties, in that sacred function, they need not be ashamed to learn by the above-mentioned method and documents of that young disciple of Christ, who, it is evident, was a beloved one, and had the mind of the Lord; and like young Elihu, having the spirit and love of Christ constraining him, did not accept any man's person, nor give flattering titles to man; but freely and faithfully delivered the whole counsel of God.

Footnotes:

1. Let the Reader Note Well that the above query is exactly the same in substance with the Terms of Ministerial & Christian Communion adopted by faithful Reformed Presbyterians, derisively called ‘Steelites.’ Mr. Renwick does not fail to include in his query either  (1.) “The testimony of our day, against popery, prelacy, Erastianism, indulgence, tyranny, sectarianism, schism, defection, and all heresy and error; as it is stated and owned by the present witnessing and suffering remnant;” nor  (2.) Adherence to the Covenants as they were faithfully renewed according to “acts of our lawful general assemblies, for promoval and defence of reformation.”