of Church Discipline
OF SETTLING A MINISTER
1. A person having been regularly ordained a minister of the gospel, as we have seen in Chap. II, he is qualified to become a pastor or minister of any destitute church.
2. This is done in consequence of a call and invitation of some church, and his accepting of the call on the terms proposed, or such as they may agree upon. Calling of him to preach, ordaining of him, and his being even a member of said church, is not sufficient, there ought to be a mutual agreement between him and the church, whereby he becomes theirs, and they his. Col. i. 7.
3. How unanimous the church ought to be in the choice and settlement of a minister, it may be hard to say. On the one hand, a bare, or even a large majority, will not be sufficient, while, on the other hand, an unanimous vote may not always be obtained, and, perhaps, in some cases, may not be absolutely necessary. The more unanimous, however, the better.
4. The congregation also is not to be neglected in this business. For, as their good is to be kept in view, and as part of the support is expected to come from them, it ought to be known, that the person proposed to be settled gives pretty general satisfaction. I Tim. iii. 7. 3 John 12.
5. In settling a minister, having appointed a time and place, and invited a council from one or two of the neighbouring churches to assist, and to witness the transaction, one of the ministers, after praying and singing should preach a suitable sermon. Then he, or another of the council, is to put such questions to the minister to be settled, and to the representative of the church appointed for that purpose, as will draw from each of them promises to fulfil their respective parts of the covenant and agreement between them, upon which he pronounces him, in the presence of God and of the whole assembly, to be the pastor and overseer of that church, and said church to be his flock and charge. Then the settled minister and representative of the church give each other the right hand of fellowship, with expressions of mutual joy and congratulation.
6. After this a charge should be delivered to the settled minister, Col. iv. 19. [sic.] and his church; and then, prayer, singing, and a benediction, will close the service.
7. The transactions of the day, and particularly the terms of agreement between the settled minister and the church, should be entered at large on the records of the church.
8. Some may say, that so much formality in the business, with witnesses, is unnecessary, and that a private agreement between the parties is sufficient. But as a public form of marriage is indispensable; so the above is expedient and useful, as might be shewn were it necessary.
9. The duties incumbent on the pastor of a church, are many and great, and blessed is he who is found faithful therein.
10. He is to exercise love, care, tenderness, watchfulness, and diligence, in all the duties of going before, feeding and defending the flock, the sheep and the lambs, the strong, the weak and diseased, John xxi. 15, 17. Acts xx. 29. I Pet. v. 2. Jer. iii. 15. He is to preach in season and out of season?attend funerals?administer the ordinances of baptism and the Lord?s supper6?take the lead in church government?visit the flock?particularly the sick?pray for and with them?catechise the young, and defend the faith: besides the duties of the closet, of the study, and his frequent calls abroad, to visit and supply the destitute, settle differences, attend at ordinations, associations, &c. "And who is sufficient for these things," 2 Cor. ii. 16.
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