If all Church power vests in the clergy, then the people are practically bound to passive obedience in all matters of faith and practice; for all right of private judgment is then denied.
The Popish theory, which assumes that Christ, the Apostles and believers, constituted the Church while our Saviour was on earth, and this organization was designed to be perpetual.
The Church is everywhere represented as one. It is one body, one family, one fold, one kingdom. It is one because pervaded by one Spirit. We are all baptized into one Spirit so as to become, says the apostle, on body.
Romanists tell us that the Pope is the vicar of Christ; that he is his successor as the universal head and ruler of the Church on earth. If this is so, he must be a Christ.
The Church, during the apostolic age, did not consist of isolated, independent congregations, but was one body, of which the separate churches were constituent members, each subject to all the rest, or to an authority which extended over all.
Christ has not only ordained that there shall be such officers in his Church - he has not only specified their duties and prerogatives - but he gives the requisite qualifications, and calls those thus qualified, and by that call gives them their official authority.
The Church, however, is a self-governing society, distinct from the State, having its officers and laws, and, therefore, an administrative government of its own.
The Reformers, therefore, as instruments in the hands of God, in delivering the Church from bondage to prelates, did not make it a tumultuous multitude, in which every man was a law to himself, free to believe, and free to do what he pleased.
All Church power arises from the indwelling of the Spirit; therefore those in whom the Spirit dwells are the seat of Church power. But the Spirit dwells in the whole Church, and therefore the whole Church is the seat of Church power.
True zeal is connected with a holy life. It is remarkable how often the greatest zealots for God, the Church, and sound doctrine (as they regard it), have been unholy and even immoral in their lives.
The Independent or Congregational theory includes two principles; first, that the governing and executive power in the Church is in the brotherhood; and secondly, that the Church organization is complete in each worshipping assembly, which is independent of every other.
All Church power is, therefore, properly ministerial and administrative. Everything is to be done in the name of Christ, and in accordance with his directions.
The Bible contains all the extant revelations of God, which He designed to be the rule of faith and practice for his Church; so that nothing can rightfully be imposed on the consciences of men as truth or duty which is not taught directly or by necessary implication in the Holy Scriptures.
It is a thoroughly anti-Christian doctrine that the Spirit of God, and therefore the life and governing power of the Church, resides in the ministry, to the exclusion of the people.
As the Church is the aggregate of believers, there is an intimate analogy between the experience of the individual believer, and of the Church as a whole.
The right of the people to a substantive part in the government of the Church is recognized and sanctioned by the apostles in almost every conceivable way.
All the reasons which require the subjection of a believer to the brethren of a particular church require his subjection to all his brethren in the Lord.
If the Church is a living body united to the same head, governed by the same laws, and pervaded by the same Spirit, it is impossible that one part should be independent of all the rest.
There can, therefore, be no doubt that Presbyterians do carry out the principle that Church power vests in the Church itself, and that the people have a right to a substantive part in its discipline and government.
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