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present at the times referred to ; so supposing that to be the case, yet they were spoken to, in the capacity of Disciples, and consequently, to all that Itand in that capacity to Christ, which are all his people in all ages. Moreover the persons referred to, are considered as a society, like the civil societies among the Gentiles, which is applicable to the Apostles, considered as Apostles. Add to this, that the reasons given for the forementioned prohibitions are both general; one is your master, even Cbrift ; and all ye are brethren. This is the case of all christians, and therefore the prohibitions are general, which these are made the reasons of.
If it should be father urged, that our Lord did give to his Apostles an authority over others, as appears from his words to Peter, Matt. xvi. 19. And I will give unto tbee the keys of the kingdom of beaven, and whatsoever thou Malt bind on earth, Mall be bound in beaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose 09 earth, soll be loosed in beaven. Before I return an answer to what is urged, I premise, first, that the doetrine of life and salvation, which the Apostles were to publish to the world, is called a treasure, Matt. xiii
. 44: The kingdom of beaven is like unto a treasure hid in a field, &c. Verse 52. Every Scribe that is instructed unto the kingdom of beaven, is like an boufbolder, which bringeth out of his treasure things new and old. 2 Cor. iv. 7. We have this treafure in eartben vefsels, &c. Again, secondly, it was usual for princes, and great men, to commit their keys, or keeping of their treasure, to some person or persons to be kept, or disposed of as they should direct. Thus, the Eunuch that Philip baptized was said to be a man of great authori rity under Candace, Queen of Ethiopia, bo bad the. charge of all her treafure, Acts viii. 27. And thus the Apostles of Christ were called stewards, tec rufe the doctrine of the gospel was committed
to their charge, to be dispensed as Christ had directed them, i Cor. iv. 1. I Tim. i. 12. Again, thirdly, the laying any thing upon the consciences of men, is called binding or laying burthens upon them, Num. XXX. 2, If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind kris foul with a bond. Matt. xxiii. 4. For they (viz. the Pharisees) bind beavy burthens and grievous to be born and lay them on men's Joulders. Chap. xi. 29. 30. And as the laying any thing upon the consciences of men, is called a binding that upon them, which they are obliged to thereby; so to take away or discharge men's consciences, from what they had before been bound to, is, by the same rule, a loofing them from that to which they were before obliged. These things being premised, I answer, our Lord did not, in the text referred to, confer any authority, properly fo called, on Peter, and the rest of the Apostles; but only committed to their trust that valuable trecjure, viz. the doctrine of the gospel, which they were faithfully to difpense to both Jews and Gentiles; and in so doing, they were not only to bind upon the consciences of men those laws and duties which he had appointed; but also to loose them from those bonds, which either the law of Moses, or their fuperftitious teachers, had bound upon them. Affuring them withal, that as far as they were faithful in the discharge of that trust here on earth; so far their
actions would be approved and justified, by him and his Father in heaven.
If it should be yet farther urged, That our Lord gave his Apostles power of remitting, and retaining sins, Jobn xx. 23. Whosoever fins je remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosoever fins ye retain, they are retained. Answer, First, This could not signify a power absolutely to discharge men from chat condemnation, which their fins
posed, and the law of God had bound them over
AEZs vi. When a difference arose in the church, which was occasion’d by a partial diftribution of the people's bounty, and occafioned the infti. tution of the office of deacons (or overseers of the poor) the Apostles did not assume any authority, but urged the reasonableness of the thing, and the people acted accordingly. Verse 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Then the twelve called the multitude of the Disciples into them, and said, it is not meet that we should leave the word of God and ferve tables, Wherefore, brethren, look you out among you seven men of boneft report, fult of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourSelves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word, And the saying pleased the whole multitude ; and they chose Stephen, &c. Again,
When the dispute arose at Antioch, whether the Gentiles should be circumcis'd and keep the law of Mofes, AEls xv. the Apostles did not, in this case, assume an authority of deciding the question, or of determining the church's practice herein ; but only by reason and good argument, they shewed, that the Gentiles were under no such obligation, neither did the church suppose that the Apostles had any such authority, for then there would have been no place for such a dispute. But when it was mov. ed at Antioch, and they could not bring it to an ifue, tho' Paul and Barnabas were present, they thought it advisable to have the opinion of their brethren at Jerusaleon, to see whether they could offer any thing which might determine the inatter, And accordingly when the case was heard, there was no authority asumed, but reason and argument was the ground of their determination. Peter Mewed, in the instance of Corwelius, and his gen, tile friends, that God gave them the like gifts, and received them into equal privileges with the Jews, even whilst in uncircumcision. And he was seconded
by Paul and Barnabas, who fhewed, what special miracles. God had wrought among the Gentiles by their ministry: James added to chis a prophecy in the Old Testament, Amos ix. 11. in which it was foretold, that God's name should be called up on by the Gentiles, that is, by men in uncircumcision; and that the Gentiles, as Gentiles, which came home to God under the kingdom of the Melliah, were owned by him as his people. From all which it was inferred, that the Gentiles were not obliged to be circumcised, and keep the law of Moses, and that it was a tempting God to lay this yoak upon them. So that the ground of that advice, which the brethren at Jerusalem sent to them at Antioch, was not any authority lodged in the Apostles, buc the reasons before laid down. The like may be said
be faid concerning the institution: of pastors, or bijhops in the christian church, that iş, it was the reasonableness and expedience of the thing, which was the ground of this, and the like. institutions; and not any special appointment from Christ, or any special authority lodged in: the Apostles, there being no intimation of either of these in the New Testament. For as the electing a person to succeed Judas, the traytor, and the institution of deacons, were neither of them by any special appointmenr from Christ, or the produce of any authority lodged in the Apostles, but were founded upon the reasonableness and fitness of the thing; so it is highly probable, that was the case in every other such institution. And as to what St. Paul faith, Eph. iv. II. He gave some: Apostles, fome Prophets, jame Evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, &c. This was spoken, after these several offices and institutions were in being in the church. And as this refers to the day of Pentecost, and as there were no such institutions: on that day, therefore it must refer not to the offi