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prefent at the times referred to; fo fuppofing that to be the cafe, yet they were spoken to, in the cas pacity of Difciples, and confequently, to all that ftand in that capacity to Chrift, which are all his people in all ages. Moreover the perfons referred to, are considered as a fociety, like the civil focie→ ties among the Gentiles, which is applicable to the Apoftles, confidered as Apoftles. Add to this, that the reafons given for the forementioned prohibitions are both general; one is your master, even Chrift; and all ye are brethren. This is the cafe of all christians, and therefore the prohibitions are general, which these are made the reasons of.
If it fhould be father urged, that our Lord did give to his Apoftleş an authority over others, as appears from his words to Peter, Matt. xvi. 19. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of beaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, fhall be bound in beaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loofe on earth, fhall be loofed in heaven. Before I return an anfwer to what is urged, I premise, first, that the doctrine of life and falvation, which the Apoftles were to publish to the world, is called a treasure, Matt. xiii. 44. The kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hid in a field, &c. Verse 52. Every Scribe that is inftructed unto the kingdom of heaven, is like an boufbolder, which bringeth out of his treasure things new and old. 2 Cor. iv. 7. We have this treafure in earthen veffels, &c. Again, fecondly, it was ufual for princes, and great men, to commit their keys, or keeping of their treasure, to fome perfon or perfons to be kept, or difpofed of as they fhould direct. Thus, the Eunuch that Philip baptized was faid to be a man of great author rity under Candace, Queen of Ethiopia, who had the charge of all her treafure, Acts viii. 27. thus the Apostles of Chrift were called stewards, because the doctrine of the gospel was committed:
to their charge, to be difpenfed as Chrift had directed them, I Cor. iv. 1. 1 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 fwear an oath to bind his foul with a bond. Matt. xxiii. 4. For they (viz. the Pharifees) bind beavy burthens and grievous to be born and lay them on men's fhoulders. Chap. xi. 29. 30. And as the laying any thing upon the confciences of men, is called a binding that upon them, which they are obliged to thereby; fo to take away or discharge men's confciences, from what they had before been bound to, is, by the fame rule, a loofing them from that to which they were before obliged. These things being premifed, I answer, our Lord did not, in the text referred to, confer any authority, properly fo called, on Peter, and the reft of the Apostles; but only committed to their trust that valuable treefure, viz. the doctrine of the gofpel, which they were faithfully to difpenfe to both Jews and Gentiles; and in fo doing they were not only to bind upon the confciences of men thofe laws and duties which he had appointed; but alfo to loose them from those bonds, which either the law of Mojes, or their fuperftitious teachers, had bound upon them. Affuring them withal, that as far as they were faithful in the discharge of that truft here on earth; fo 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 Apoftles power of remitting, and retaining fins, John xx. 23. Whosoever fins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosoever fins ye retain, they are retained. Anfwer, First, This could not fignify a power abfolutely to discharge men from that condemnation, which their fins had ex,
posed, and the law of God had bound them over to; and a power abfolutely to charge men's fine ,upon them, to their final condemnation; because God has promised pardon to the penitent obedient believer, and threatened damnation to the impenitent and therefore the interpofition of an Apoftle, cannot poffibly make the promifes, or the threatenings of God, of none effect. The penitent obedient believer has his pardon fecured to him by God's: promife, whether he has an apoftolical abfolution or not; and the impenitent will be condemned, even tho' abfolved by an Apoftle. And therefore, I answer, fecondly, that, by remitting and retain ing fin, Christ only intended to affure them, that as they were to propofe the terms of forgiveness. of fins to men; fo thofe, who complied with their offer, fhould certainly be forgiven, and those, who rejected it, fhould be condemned. This is abundantly evident from the parallel place in Mark xvi. 15, 16. Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized fhall be faved; and he that believeth not fhall be damned. Again, fecondly, I obferve, that tho' the Apostles acted as Chrift's ambassadors, going up and down the world inviting both Jeres and Gentiles to believe in Chrift, and to fubject themfelves to his Kingdom and government; yet. they did not affume, in their preaching or practice, : any authority or dominion, properly fo called, over the members of the chriftian church, either in point of faith or practice: but on the contrary, they difclaimed all fuch authority, 2 Cor. i. 24. Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are belpers of your joy. Chap. iv. 5. We preach not ourfelves, but Christ Jefus the Lord; and ourfelves your feriants for Jesus's fake. And as the Apoftles difclaimed all authority in their preaching;: fo they did not affume any in their pradice. Thus
Als vi. When a difference arofe in the church, which was occafion'd:by a partial diftribution of the people's bounty, and occafioned the infti. tution of the office of deacons (or overfeers of the poor) the Apostles did not affume any authority, but urged the reasonableness of the thing, and the people acted accordingly. Verfe 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Then the twelve called the multitude of the Difciples unto them, and faid, 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, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourfelves continually to prayer, and to the miniftry of the word, And the faying pleased the whole multitude and they chofe Stephen, &c. Again,
When the difpute arose at Antioch, whether the Gentiles fhould be circumcis'd and keep the law of Mofes, As xv. the Apoftles did not, in this cafe, affume an authority of deciding the queftion, or of determining the church's practice herein; but only by reafon and good argument, they fhewed, that the Gentiles were under no fuch obligation, neither did the church fuppofe that the Apostles had any fuch authority, for then there would have been no place for fuch a difpute. But when it was moved at Antioch, and they could not bring it to an iffue, tho' Paul and Barnabas were prefent, they thought it advisable to have the opinion of their brethren at Jerufalem, to fee whether they could offer any thing which might determine the inatter. And accordingly when the cafe was heard, there was no authority affumed, but reafon and argument was the ground of their determination. Peter fhewed, in the inftance of Cornelius, and his gen→ tile friends, that God gave them the like gifts, and received them into equal privileges with the Jews, even whilst in uncircumcifion. And he was feconded
by Paul and Barnabas, who fhewed, what special miracles God had wrought among the Gentiles by their miniftry James added to this a prophecy in the Old Testament, Amos ix. 11. in which it was foretold, that God's name fhould be called up on by the Gentiles, that is, by men in uncircumcifion, and that the Gentiles, as Gentiles, which came home to God under the kingdom of the Meffiah, 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 Mofes, and that it was a tempting God to lay this yoak upon. them. So that the ground of that advice, which the brethren at Jerufalem fent to them at Antioch, was not any authority lodged in the Apostles, but the reafons before laid down.
The like may be faid concerning the inftitution: of paftors, or bijhops in the chriftian church, that is, it was the reasonableness and expedience of the thing, which was the ground of this, and the like institutions, and not any fpecial appointment. from Chrift, or any special authority lodged in the Apostles, there being no intimation of either of thefe in the New Teftament. For as the electing a perfon to fucceed Judas, the traytor, and the inftitution of deacons, were neither of them by any fpecial appointmenr from Chrift, or the produce of any authority lodged in the Apostles, but were founded upon the reafonablenefs and fitnefs of the thing; fo it is highly probable, that was the cafe in every other fuch inftitution. And as to what St. Paul faith, Eph. iv. 11. He gave fome Apostles, fome Prophets, fome Evangelists, and feme paftors and teachers, &c. This was spoken, after: thefe feveral offices and inftitutions were in being in the church. And as this refers to the day of: Pentecoft, and as there were no fuch inftitutions. on that day, therefore it must refer not to the offi