Practical Suggestions for Primitive Baptist

01 PREFACE

In presenting this work to the household of faith my desire is that it may be compared with God's word and that only such parts of it as are in harmony with Divine Authority may be received.

 

But I would ask for it a careful reading and that it may be judged impartially. I have written it with a deep desire to benefit the churches by calling their attention to practices that seem to me to be scriptural, and which, if they are, ought not to be neglected, and cannot be neglected by God's people with His approbation.

 

My first intention was to treat only of the deacon and his work, but at the request of brethren the work has been extended to embrace suggestions upon practice generally, and I hope it may be helpful to the household of faith.

 

I have an earnest desire to help our pastors in the work that they have been called to do, and have tried to call their attention to some things that are often neglected. I trust that no minister will feel at liberty to be indifferent to these things if he admits that they are authorized by the the Divine Standard. All a minister ought to ask in regard to a doctrine or practice is whether it is taught in the Bible. If it is, then it is his business to follow the practice and teach the doctrine.

 

It has been my purpose to set forth in this work what I conceive to be scriptural practice, and to do so without thought of what men might think, or whether they would approve or oppose. I ask no one to receive it for personal favor, but warn all those who turn away, indifferent to these things, if so be they are according to the truth, that those who neglect the way of the Lord must bring down upon themselves His correcting hand and learn under chastisement that obedience is better than sacrifice.

 

I pray that the day may soon come when all our churches will put all things in order, and that every member will be found at his post of duty, so that nothing shall be found lacking; and that we may join as one man in ascribing all glory to Him who saves us by His grace.

THE AUTHOR

02 INTRODUCTION

There is no authority in the New Testament for but two classes of church officers-Elders and Deacons.

 

It is admitted by all scholars that the terms "Bishop" and "Presbyter," or "Elder"and "Pastor" are one and interchangeable and refer to but one class of church officers and all of equal rank.

 

The apostles, it is true, rank above bishops or elders, but they have no successors in office. They were called in person by the Lord Jesus, and one of the qualifications of an apostle was to have actually seen Jesus in the body after the resurrection. They were inspired to write and teach with infallibility, and so long as their writings are received, all who claim to succeed, them must be accounted liars. {Re 2:2}

 

The apostles are called '"Elders" {1Pe 5:1; 2Jo 1} and the term is not used here with the same signification as in the Old Testament references to "Elders" or rulers, for the church of Christ has no rulers over it, nor can there be any organized body, of whatever character, above the church. The apostles did not make laws, but taught what Christ commanded. {Mt 28:20} Each gospel church is the highest ecclesiastical authority on earth, but it has no power to make laws.

 

The elders, bishops, or pastors are to take the oversight of the flock, {1Pe 5:2} not, however, as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock."-1Pe 5:3.

 

Deacons are to have charge of the funds of the church, {Ac 4:34; 6:2-3} looking after the poor and any who may need help, and to act as "servants" of the church in any manner where they can act efficiently. That the deaconship is a fixed office is indicated by 1Ti 3:13.

 

The apostles as establishing officers of the church embodied within themselves all offices, and at first took the labors of both elders and deacons. This they had a right to do as a part of the work committed to them to set in order.

 

Soon, however, a divison of the work was made, {Ac 6} and the work as then classed {Ac 6:3-4} should now be observed in our churches. An elder should not attempt to take to himself the right of an apostle and do the work of the deacon in connection with his own work, but should take up the work assigned him in the church by the apostles of our Lord, and insist, as it becomes his duty to do, that the church set apart brethren qualified to do the work of deacons, and then instruct both the church and the deacons in the work required at their hands.

 

As it becomes his duty to deliver the whole counsel of God, he should firmly maintain all things as given in the New Testament pattern. He cannot do this and let the church do away with the office of deacon.

 

The Roman Catholic church teaches the intolerable heresy that the church, as represented by the Pope, is infallible and can make changes of any kind, such as to substitute sprinkling for immersion in baptism, etc. But it will never do for Primitive Baptists to assume such power, or to fall into such practices. If we are to live up to our high claim of being the church of Christ, the practices as well as the doctrines of the Bible must be lived up to. That we do things in name, will not be sufficient. We should have pastors and deacons in fact as well as in form. It may be said of too many churches that they have a pastor in name and deacons in name, but they nave neither pastoral service nor the work of the deaconship among them.

 

Can we expect God's blessing while we neglect His word and have only a crippled and deformed organization instead of the body designed by the Great Head of the church?

 

I think not. God's word teaches that He will not approve our course when we we neglect or change His statutes.

 

But the pastor may say that he is doing the best he can under the circumstances; that he must provide for himself and family if the brethren do not do so, and that he cannot give as much time to the ministry as the field demands. Here is exactly the difficulty to a great degree. A church that ignores the deaconship cannot have proper pastoral service. Lack in either service works against the other and between the shortcomings of the two the poor church barely lives, and that at a dying rate.

 

It is not that the pastor can save the church, nor that a good deacon can make a church a live one; but it is this: The Lord will not bless the church that is indifferent to His word, and either adds to it or takes therefrom.

 

''For I testify unto eveiy man that heareth the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things that are written in this book."-Re 22:18-19.

 

Primitive Baptists, in view of all this, let me appeal to you to consider this matter prayerfully, searching God's word to learn what is the duty of a pastor of a church, the duty of a deacon, and God's plan for providing for the pastor, and for the poor of the church, and for the watchcare over all the members.

03 THE MINISTRY

THE MINISTRY

 

As before stated, the terms "Bishop" and "Presbyter," or "Elder"and "Pastor," designate but one class of officers in the church, and no one term indicates a pre-eminence over the other as to rank or degree.

 

Terms Defined.

An "Elder" is one whom the church judges to have received a special gift which enables him to preach the Word to the edification of the church, and who, being approved in walk and conversation, is set apart to the gospel ministry by the solemn form of imposition of hands and prayer by a presbytery, which is called ordination. He may or may not have special charge of particular churches.

 

A "Presbyter" is an elder who, by virtue of his office, participates in the ordination of an elder or deacon, or work of like nature.

 

The term "Bishop" is not in much use among Primitive Baptists, probably because of the almost universal misuse of it by most religious denominations, but in meaning would about equal the term "Pastor"in common usage, which is an elder that has active oversight of a church. He is not more nor less an elder, but his relations to the church are changed.

 

Variety of Gifts in the Church.

In the church various gifts are recognized. "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ."- Eph 4:11-12.

 

The ends for which any gift is bestowed is here set forth and churches and presbyteries should not lose sight of these things. One may claim to have a "call" to preach, but if his exercise does not tend to "perfecting" the saints, and is not edifying, to ordain him an elder would be a mistake that might plague the church for many years. For when one holds the position of elder, if the honor that attaches to the office is withheld, trouble is provoked.

 

Many have gifts to benefit the church and would be profitable to it if not put into the ministry. Some can offer prayer in public service, some relate in an edify ing manner the Lord's dealings with them; others can give timely and profitable exhortations, and each and all who can be so drawn out should be encouraged that the church may have the benefit of all the gifts that have been given to it. "How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a song, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done to edifying."- 1Co 14:26.

 

Authority Conferred in Ordination.

But before a brother comes under the imposition of hands let the brethren be persuaded that he has, indeed, been called of God to the work of the ministry, for God must send ministers ( Mt 9:38). The laying on of the hands does not confer any gift or power now, as the apostolic power ceased with the apostles; it is now only a solemn recognition of God's gift, and conferring authority to do certain things in the name of the church. { Tit 1:5}

 

After ordination a brother is recognized in all the churches as having authority to baptize persons who may have been received by the church, to administer the Lord's supper, and he may be called to the pastoral care of churches.

 

The Work of the Ministry.

It is his principal business to preach the Word. When the work of the apostles was divided and a portion assigned the deacons, { Ac 4:3} the part left for the elders was to give themselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the Word. { Ac 6:4; 1Ti 4:15} That they should give themselves continually to prayer indicates with what weight they should feel the responsibility resting upon them, and that their faith in God to lead and care for His people should be in lively exercise.

 

The ministry of the Word requires work in and out of the pulpit. Speaking to the multitude upon the grand theme of redeeming love is the ministry of the Word, but no more so than comforting the poor, trembling, inquiring child of God by speaking to him privately of the work of the Spirit in his soul.

 

His Time to be Wholly Devoted.

Paul wrote to Timothy that he was to "meditate on these things; give thyself wholly to them, that thy profiting may appear to all."- 1Ti 4:15. He who is to serve the churches to their best interest, and as contemplated in the New Testament, must follow this injunction. His service cannot be what it ought to be if his mind and efforts are concentrated on worldly work and time objects. "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."-2Ti 2:4. If the churches are to be benefitted to any great degree, the minister must devote his life to preaching the gospel.

 

One of the reasons for this fact is that if he is obliged to give his attention to other things his mind will not be fruitful in spiritual things, but will be burdened and cold, and his sermons and conversation cannot be as helpful to the church as though he gave himself to the contemplation of divine things. Another reason for giving himself wholly to the work is that he may inform himself in what has been written for our learning.

 

Paul said to Timothy that he must "give attendance to reading." No minister can tell what is in God's word without having read or heard of its contents. Some ministers learn a few things and then seem to stop reading; at any rate, when you have heard them preach a few times you have heard all they have to say, and they use the same arguments and illustrations again and again.

 

Study of the Bible Necessary.

If they could take time, and would use it, to study God's word, they would have an inexhaustible fountain of thought from which to draw. ``To show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."- 2Ti 2:15.

 

No man can preach acceptably and profitably to the hearers without study. It is not to be understood that he must go to college and study theology, as men teach it, but he must study God's word that he may know the will of God concerning His people, and that he may conduct himself properly in the house of God.

 

One of the ablest preachers in Missouri, a few years ago, was a brother who learned to read after he was married. He made the Sacred Word a study, however, and that without helps, becoming a strong defender of the doctrine of grace, and was held in high regard by all the churches as an able minister of the New Testament. While it will widen the mind to read extensively with discrimination, no writings should supplant the Holy Scriptures-these must be read by the minister who desires to benefit his hearers and glorify God by his service. It is refreshing to listen to the minister whose heart is full of the Spirit and whose mind is stored with information got from the Bible.

 

The idea that the Holy Spirit enables the minister to lay before his hearers what is in the Bible without having studied it, is arrayed against the judgment and purpose of God in giving the Inspired Word.

 

The things contained in the scriptures are useful and necessary to the welfare and happiness of the children of God. "All scripture, is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."-2Ti 3:16.

 

He Must not Try to Please Men.

It should not trouble his mind whether he will be approved of men-God's approbation is what should be desired. Early in my ministry this thought was impressed upon my mind. An old, gray haired brother wanted me to abandon a position that I had taken as to the practice of the church. He said that he was doing just as his father before him had done, and I did not doubt his word. I was young, and knowing that any change in church practice is generally regarded as a movement to leave the old paths, I knew that by this old brother and others I was likely to be looked upon as bringing in new things, and this would make "trouble.'' I could get their favor by going according to their ideas of right.

 

Which would I do? Would I obey God, or man?

 

It was my first hard struggle of the kind, and for that reason made such an impression that it can never be forgotten.

 

I decided to obey God, and have been thankful ever since that an approving conscience in that case has given me courage to be in a great degree unmoved by the opinions of those who have abandoned apostolic practice.

 

Brethren in the ministry, we must give account to God of our stewardship and not to men. So what good reason can we give for not always contending for those doctrines and practices which have the mark of apostolic authority?

 

Many a minister has allowed his churches to practice, and himself practiced things which he was persuaded in his own mind were wrong, and could not be called apostolic. Yet he could not bring himself to bear the disapproval of men by turning to the right. It would have shamed him to confess it, and yet it was true that he cared more for the approval of men than for the approval of God.

 

It is often the case when brethren want to oppose a practice advocated by a minister they report that he is unsound in doctrine. Brethren have tried this course toward me, and I feel it is possible this will be one of the weapons used against this work-my humble effort to call the attention of brethren to apostolic practice. If so, I hope brethren will be as fair toward me as feel toward them, and will state my error plainly and try to recover me from it.

 

Preach Just What the Bible Teaches.

"But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned, and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them."- 2Ti 3:14. One of the trials of my early ministry was the fact that the churches, having had the services of a worthy and able minister in doctrine, were well established. I did not feel that I could instruct them in this direction, for I realized they had the advantage of me in years. But I saw where in practice there were many things lacking. I soon found, however, that they did not like to hear these things, as their tastes had been educated rather to relish the sweets of the covenant of redemption than to enjoy hearing all things commanded them to do. But I knew the Savior's instructions, "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you."- Mt 28:20.

 

A very humble and good brother said to me in regard to my manner of preaching, "Brother Cash, you can see by the effect your preaching has what is best to preach. When you preach about what the Savior did for sinners, the brethren all have their heads up and are full of rejoicing. But when you get to talking about what ive ought to do, they sit with their heads down and the meeting is a cold one.".

 

I had weighed this brother's argument many times, for I had observed the effects as stated, and the inclination is strong to preach what is best received.

 

What preacher does not have a strong inclination to preach to please his hearers, especially his brethren? But it is a dangerous and delusive influence and always leads away from the truth and from the right.

 

It was not a pleasant thing to tell David of his sin; but it was right to do so. When the Spirit testified by John to the churches, how nice it would have been if they might all have been commended. But where there is imperfection there should be reproof.

 

I said to the brother, who was endeavoring to show me the better way, "My brother, do you believe I have preached anything that God's word does not teach?"

 

"0 no, Brother Cash," said he, "but I was only speaking to you of the kind of preaching the brethren like best, and which seems to me to do the most good."

 

"But,"said I, "if I preach the truth, and the brethren do not receive it gladly, who is to blame? Does it not rather indicate that there is something wrong with them? And if so would not I be doing wrong to encourage them in their course by passing it by in silence, as though they were following Christ?"

 

Error Not to be Passed in Silence.

 I think it is a dangerous thing for a preacher to pass anything in silence, simply because brethren do not want to hear reproof. It does not please our ears to hear wherein we are wrong. But to this end the minister's labors should be directed, to supply the things that are lacking and set in order the things of the Lord's house. { Tit 1:5}

 

But it is a common thing for ministers, when discussing church affairs, to admit that there are many things not as they should be. Yet when they get up to preach they utter no word of reproof or rebuke to the church, but direct their whole discourse to proving that the Arminian theory is false, which every Primitive Baptist present knew before a word was spoken. Now, if we are the Lord's ministers, it is traitorous to the cause we represent to say to the church by our actions that it is immaterial whether the Lord's commands are obeyed or not. We do not have to say, "Brethren, I, myself, would like to see you do this or that," but we should say, "these are the things commanded by our Lord, and He has sent me to cry aloud and spare not." { Isa 58:1}

 

Why should a minister assume the responsibility of letting things go wrong about the house of the Lord when He has given special charge that we should show Israel her sins? It seems evident to my mind that we spend too much of our time on Arminians as compared with the time given to putting the house of the Lord in order.

 

If a shepherd should get so interested in keeping the wolves away from the flock as to forget to feed them, and let them starve, he might be accounted a very valiant shepherd, but certainly not a very wise one.

 

To be prudent he would provide plenty of food, and administer promptly to the sick lest disease spread. If hunger and disease devastate the flock what good will defense do?

 

May it not be the case that lack of a spiritual ministry, and that error and sinful practices being unchecked, have been the cause of the dispersion of many of our flocks?

 

Responsibility for Wrong Practice.

If a church is wrong in practice, the pastor is to blame for it, for it is his duty to lead the flock. I do not mean to say that the pastor is altogether to blame for the conduct of the members as individuals, but here have reference to the wrong practices of the church as a body. If the pastor does his duty he will not only instruct the church in apostolic practices, but he will insist that these practices must be followed.

 

Many ministers shrink from pressing such matters on a church, fearing they will seem to be assuming too much authority and lording it over God's heritage. But a little reflection will make it plain that it is the business of the servant to do his Master's will, and that so long as he confines himself to the commandments of his Master he assumes no responsibility whatever.

 

But if he sees the will of his Master neglected and spurned, and does not resent such action, and cry out against it, he, himself, has in fact rebelled against his Master and is no longer entitled to claim that he is faithful to God who called him.

 

The last words of the Master to those who were to go forth to preach the gospel were. "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you."

 

Now no one should feel at liberty to teach that this means, Teaching them to ``believe" all things, and then that believers may stop short of doing the things commanded, for "faith without works is dead, being alone." Jesus said, "If ye love me keep my commandments."

 

Jesus likens the man who hears His words, but does them not, to a foolish man who builds his house on the sand; but He said, "Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him to a wise man which built his house upon a rock." "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."

 

These, and many other scriptures, put much stress upon actual obedience to the commands of our Lord. Can any minister remain silent while the church is indifferent to the practical duties which the Inspired Word lays upon the church and its members?

 

Should Preach Practical Godliness.

Not only should he preach to the church practical godliness, but the congregations which attend the services should know what we believe in regard to the requirements of churches and members. This would, in a great measure, be an answer to the criticisms of the world against our churches.

 

Several years ago my attention was called to this by a brother asking me why it was that our ministers preached doctrinal discourses on Sundays and if they spoke on practical things at all they did so on Saturdays?

 

Said he, "The world does not know that we think there is anything to be considered at all but doctrine."

 

I felt the reproof of his words and on that Sunday preached before a mixed congregation the commandments with greater weight of responsibility than I had felt before, for I realized that there might be some in the congregation whose hearts had been opened to hear the truth, but whose minds might have been prejudiced against us by designing persons who represent all who believe in grace alone for salvation as being careless of gospel obligations, if not actually immoral.

 

Then there are many members in the churches who hear so much more doctrine than exhortation that they do not at all take kindly to reproof and rebuke, though very careless of their walk and conversation and their obligations as members of the church of Christ.

 

If they heard the word of God rightly divided they would get a greater proportion of instruction in righteousness. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."

 

Doctrine to be Taught and Received

All scripture.is profitable for doctrine. Certainly no minister can pretend to preach the gospel without preaching doctrine. Our churches would not tolerate such a preacher. Arminians would endeavor to bring all professors together by refraining from preaching doctrine, which they claim divides people and simply preach Christ. But Primitive Baptists know that Christ cannot be preached without preaching the doctrines of the Bible, for doctrines are simply the facts. One might hear an Arminian preach without being able to decide to which denomination he belonged. But no one who knew the doctrine' of grace ever heard a Primitive Baptist preach without recognizing the glorious doctrine of salvation by grace, be it told ever so humbly.

 

None of our ministers would preach for a church that denied or would not receive the doctrines of predestination, election, etc. It is a safe principle to lay down that if one is to do anything right, and for a proper purpose, the doctrine of the Bible must be accepted. In this particular our people stand apart from all the world.

 

Exhortation Equal With Doctrine

But because we give doctrine its proper importance, can we be excused from finding in the same scriptures which teach doctrine, the reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness with which they so abound? Surely not! The church must "suffer the word of exhortation." In apostolic times there was need that they "exhort one another daily," and certainly there is no less need of exhortation now. Those who neglect to exhort to every good work, and to faithfulness in the house of God, cannot claim to declare the whole counsel of God, though what they preach may be the truth, and they may be very bold in defense of the doctrine of grace.

 

I stood by the bedside of a loved and honored soldier of the cross in his last sickness and when he was in view of the end of his life. He said to me, "What I have preached I believe to be the truth. If my life were to live over again I would preach the same doctrine-in it is the only salvation for a sinner. But some things I have neglected. I have never told the churches their duty to the ministry, and this I regret." He said he realized that had he done this it would be easier for the younger men in the ministry who followed him.

 

What he said caused me to consider my own course. How would I finish up my life? This dear old brother was dying in triumph, and during the greater part of his ministry had borne all the burden of his work himself. His had been a life of self-sacrifice, and he stood firm, a powerful advocate of his Master's cause. It may be thought that he had a right to do this, and that all the more honor was due him because of this course. But he did not feel so, and said, like Paul, that it was wronging the church not to let it carry its own burden. Paul said, "Forgive me this wrong." The wrong of which he had been guilty was not asking the Corinthians to minister to his necessities, for instead of doing so he had taken help of others to do this church service. { 2Co 12:13}

 

So, while considering the matter, I concluded that it would be better to teach the members of the church of Christ to "observe all things."

 

Not only should the duty of members to the ministry be taught, but the walk and conversation that becomes all who have named the name of Christ should be clearly pointed out, not once only, but continually, and every transgression should be reproved, and, if need be, sharply. Not always should this be done from the pulpit, for the pastor of the church should labor personally and privately with the members of his charge to forsake every evil way and to be found diligently inquiring the way and walking in it. { Jer 6:16}

 

Personal Influence of Pastor.

While the influence of a good minister in the pulpit is great, it can be greatly increased by personal contact with the members of the church. To wield the greatest influence he must visit the members at their homes and learn their surroundings. In the hardships of their lives they should have his kindly affection and be made to feel that they can confide any and all troubles to him and find sympathy. He should be worthy of such esteem from all the members of his churches as to be an intimate friend with whom there are no reservations regarding the affairs of the church, and the fullest confidence is enjoyed. By such association his influence may reach its greatest usefulness in controlling and directing the lives of those under his charge. The tactful pastor will find many opportunities to condemn the wrong and point out the right, and good use should be made of all of them.

 

It is his business to raise the lives of the members of his pastorate above reproach by every method within his power. He must see that they are not only sound in the faith, but that their walk and conversation are such as become Christians; and in no way can he do this more effectually than by being with them in their homes and conversing with them on spiritual matters.

 

Then there are in the congregations of most churches persons who are born again, but who find it difficult to make profession before men by going before the church. These should be encouraged, and perhaps no means has as much influence as to have the pastor of the church talk to them about their hope and their duty to the Lord. Of course all the members of the church should feel it a duty and a privilege to talk to inquiring persons, and the pastor should continually encourage them from the pulpit to do so; but he can most effectually lead them, by giving them an example in earnestness regarding the welfare of those who are inquiring to know their duty.

 

Interest in the Children.

The children of Baptist parents are no doubt often led astray and join Arminian organizations because the members of these organizations manifest so much interest in the children just at a time when they are troubled in mind and want some one to lead and instruct them, at least to manifest a kindly interest in their welfare, while the members of the church of Christ fail to do their duty, saying nothing to them on religious subjects, offering no sympathy or fellowship, and do not exhort them to go home to their friends. They do not pursue this course from real indifference. The members may often be heard to speak to each other of certain persons giving indications of serious thought, the conversation closing with the remark, perhaps, "I would be glad to see them come to the church;" but the neglect is the result of habit, a habit formed because the pastor does not remonstrate against it, and perhaps does not show the interest he feels in the children of members of the church.

 

Certainly it would be right for him to manifest an interest in the children of parents who are not members of the church, but it is presumed that all Baptist parents desire that their children will become members of the true church when the Lord quickens them into life, and would gladly have the pastor's influence in that direction.

 

Comforting the Bereaved.

A pastor of a church is expected to comfort by his presence and words the bereaved when death claims a victime in the families of his pastorate. Here the close relationship of the pastor and the members will find expression in the deep sympathy of the one and the loving confidence of the other, and such occasions may serve to bind the whole church together in closer ties. For as we have fellowship for Christ in his sufferings, so are our hearts drawn out to each other in the hour of affliction.

 

Funeral Services.

I will remark here that I was never favorable to a custom that used to prevail to a greater extent than now, of having funerals preached at some time after the burial of the dead. There may be instances of the decease of old, or influential members of the church, when circumstances prevent a general attendance at the time of the interment, when the labors and faith of the dead might be remembered in a service later with good results to the church and to the community, for funeral and all other services should be held with a view to benefiting the living. But, commonly, funeral services should be conducted, if at all, at the time of the interment, and they should be short and of such character as to impress upon those present the dire results of sin and the consolations of the gospel, avoiding all recitals that would excite the grief of the bereaved, and any undue eulogy of the dead - simply preach Christ.

 

Pastor Should Visit the Sick.

The pastor should visit the sick. When racked with pain and burned with fever the sufferer yearns for sympathy, and when it is received it will long be remembered. It is the pastor's opportunity to show his interest and to do a good deed. His demeanor should be cheerful, his words full of kindness, love and hope. His visits should be remembered as a bright ray of sunshine, full of the hope, buoyancy and gospel joy that would help the sick to meet what sufferings must be borne. Those who visit the sick with a right purpose, do service to Jesus. { Mt 25:40}

 

Undue Levity - Right Conversation.

Never under any circumstances must the minister of the gospel engage in undue levity, or let his conversation be otherwise than is becoming to his calling. He must shun vain babbling and filthy conversation. "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."- Eph 4:29. The habit into which brethren sometimes fall, of indulging in vulgar jokes and stories is very reprehensible and should be discouraged by all. "Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man."- Col 4:6. Anger must not move him to speak rashly, for this would be to forget that he is a minister of Christ. But he must be cheerful, full of thankfulness for all of the Lord's blessings, rejoicing in spirit, hopeful and patient, and his conversation should bear out that character.

 

Devotional Exercises at the Homes.

He should encourage the practice of devotional exercises at the homes of the members,especially when he visits them. It will have a beneficial effect, if when the family are assembled before retiring, he will read a chapter and comment upon it, and then bow humbly before God and pray his blessings on the household. I have no doubt this is well pleasing in the sight of God. The pastor must not forget that he is to minister in spiritual things at any and all times when opportunity offers.

 

Outside Appointments - Several Days' Meetings.

It will be to the advantage of the church for the pastor to preach at different points in the neighborhood of the church. By so doing he will often find persons who receive the truth gladly and will be easily induced to attend the regular services at the church. This will extend the limits of the congregation and add to the influence of the church correspondingly.

 

It is often beneficial to hold a meeting of several days at the church. Sometimes no good might come of it, so far as could be observed, but at other times the members seem to desire to meet and hear the Word preached, and the whole congregation is observed to take more than ordinary interest. I have observed that at meetings continued under conditions named, sometimes persons who have long neglected their duty to join the church are given courage to go forward and yield obedience to the Master.

 

Pastor Must Respond to Demands of the Church.

The demand on the time of pastors of churches is constant and pressing. The Lord makes it his duty to serve the church and it becomes his duty to answer its calls in every need. He is not the servant of the church in the sense that its demands are authority for his actions, for to God only is he accountable, and the Lord is his Master. When the church demands that for which the Lord has not given authority, the minister is not bound to respond, except in reproof for the departure. The Lord's commands must be to him the supreme command.

 

Must Preach All the Word.

He is to dispense from the pulpit the pure word of God, its doctrines, its exhortations, its reproofs, its promises, its instructions in every direction, and give each part of it when and where needed, "rightly dividing the word of truth."

 

Are there persons who are longing for the sincere milk of the word, he must try to unfold its essentials for their benefit; are the members growing careless in their lives and failing to maintain godliness in walk and conversation, he must not let a man-fearing nor a man-pleasing spirit stand in the way of reproving them as the word of God directs. Sometimes general reproof, that is, the mentioning in a general way, of certain courses that members should not follow, without indicating by word or manner that anyone present is guilty, will have the desired effect, and will cause those who are dropping into error to forsake the wrong and pursue the right. In such cases the pastor must be tactful, remembering what humanity is, and taking every advantage possible of it { 2Co 12:16} to subdue it that the flesh may not rule the church. Some members require petting, while others cannot endure such treatment. "To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak; I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some."- 1Co 9:22.

 

Should Understand Character.

This treatment of members according to their different dispositions must not be allowed to foster their weaknesses, but the strengthening of their characters must be kept constantly in mind. A pastor who has the cause of Christ at heart, must study his members to find their weaknesses that he may strengthen them, and he must learn in what direction lies their greatest strength that he may use them for the best interest of the church. When he understands the members of the church he must not hesitate to assign them work suited to each character. It would be a grave error to assign work to the hand that could only be done by the eye; but there is a work for the hand. Often much confusion gets into the church by poor judgment being exercised in assigning work to the members, or else permitting members to follow their own impulses. If the hand attempts to do the work of the eye, the matter is made worse instead of being properly done. And brethren ought to be guided to a great degree by the pastor, if he is known to give his attention to ascertaining what is best for the church, for he has better opportunities for knowing what is best. But if a pastor is known to be deficient in judgment, then one of the deacons should be encouraged to take the direction of matters, as, indeed, the deacons should be forward to do at all times. The pastor should always consult with the deacons about the affairs of the church for his benefit and their encouragement.

 

Cultivating Gifts in the Church. The pastor should make special effort to bring out the gifts that are in the church. Some have the gift of prayer; some have the gift of exhortation; and others will be found who are able to strengthen the church if their gifts are put into exercise. To this end the pastor must not preach his church to death, using all the time himself. However able the pastor may be, the church needs all the gifts the Lord has placed in it, and their lights ought not to be put under a bushel, they should be placed where they will give light to all that are in the house (church).

 

Members to Take Part in the Services.

I have found it a great help to the church, and to the development of the members, to call on several members at each service to take part. One brother can select a scripture to read, and comment on it as much as he desires; another may make choice of a hymn that expresses his feelings, and if he so desires may call attention to the spiritual truth of the words; then let some brother or sister offer prayer. Preachers often pray too long and include too many things, seeming to exhibit their ability to pray for everything needed by mankind. But if some humble brother kneels before God he will feel a proper degree of solemnity and will pour out his soul in prayer without making it an elocutionary effort. His words may be few, but they will be sincere; they may be awkward, but they will be spoken in the fear of God; he may feel that he has made a very poor effort, but most likely he will have given expression to a petition in which all can join.

 

Let the hymns sung be chosen, not by the leader, but give the brethren and sisters an opportunity to select the hymns and all will feel a renewed interest in the words because they will no longer be the words of the poet only, but they will now express the trials, the hopes, the fears and the faith of a brother or sister present.

 

Duty of Pastor to Direct Services.

When the pastor calls on members to take part in the services he must not allow them to excuse themselves. As pastor of the church it is his duty to direct such matters, and his judgment must be followed, for the Holy Ghost has made him "overseer." { Ac 20:28} If one member is excused, others may be, and finally it will fall back to the bad practice of the pastor doing everything, which no minister who regards the welfare of the church will do. One of the deacons may be called upon to take charge of the meeting and then when the pastor is not present he will not feel embarrassed to do so.

 

Pastor Must not do Everything.

A church trained to let the pastor do everything is helpless unless he is present. If the pastor, or other minister is not present at meeting time, the members disperse without any service-without song, prayer or scripture reading.

 

My dear Brother Pastor, let me implore you in the name of our dear Redeemer, who will accept the praise of the lowliest of the flock, do not bind the church with such a fetter as the unscriptural practice of doing everything yourself. It is harmful every way and blighting in its effect. "For ye may all prophesy, one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted."-1Co 14:31.

 

Experience or Covenant Meetings.

Then, every few months, let all the members who can be induced to do so, take part by telling the dealings of the Lord with them. These are feasts for the pastor and also for the members. There are but few who will not in time talk to the church.

 

I remember at one of these meetings, after a brother had told his experience, an old sister arose from her seat, went across the room and gave the brother her hand, saying, "I can't tell it like you can, but I can feel and realize the same things." Thus did she publicly bear testimony to the dealings of the Lord with her. Such a course as this will draw out all the gifts and those who are calculated to edify the church can be put into their proper positions. The talks of the older members will do the younger members more good than sermons by the pastor, for these talks are in fact notes taken along the actual walks of life.

 

I remember at a meeting at my own house one night, a young sister, who had just united with the church, related in a very connected manner some of her experiences. After she had closed, an aged sister told of her past trials and present feelings. When she had finished the young sister asked if she might speak again to tell how much she had been encouraged and strengthened by the talk of the old sister. It was to her like passing over life's experiences and seeing the close of her own life if she should live to be old.

 

A minister may so preach as to get the fellowship of the brethren, but if the brethren have warm fellowship for each other they must talk with one another.

 

I shall never forget what an old deacon of my home church said once. He was very willing to do his part as far as he could. When we met he would read a chapter, or have a chapter selected for some one else to read, or suggest a hymn that expressed his sentiments, but he was not in the habit of offering public prayer or speaking before the church. He arose at one of our meetings, however, and said, "Before I die I want to tell those who are members of this church now my reasons for entertaining a hope."

 

Said he, "I have seen most of you come to the church and have heard you relate the dealings of the Lord with you, and in this respect have the advantage of you, as you have never heard me speak of my trials." He then spoke of his life from boyhood up, and we who were young got great encouragement from his talk. His life had seemed so far above us, and judging that his experience of mind and heart had been as much removed from ours as his life seemed to be, it was a revelation to hear him tell of the same hopes, fears and trials that we had experienced, and learn that he, like the rest of us, had to live by faith.

 

Young members as they come into the church should be induced to talk before the church, and not be allowed to form a habit of remaining silent. Older members who have not been in the habit of speaking in public should take some part in the meeting. If they do not think it for their own benefit, they should do so that they may set a good example for the young members, that they may grow up active and useful.

 

Talks on Experience.

The Lord's work in the heart of a poor sinner is of more importance than anything in the world, and the pastor of a church should not get so intellectual as to let the Lord's children forget His work, "His strange work." They should speak of it often and tell it to the generations following them.

 

These "heart-talks" should be encouraged at the homes of the members, and, in fact, everywhere. Many a troubled soul would be glad to hear some one's "experience" that it might learn if, indeed, there is hope for the vilest and weakest of all. But such are often discouraged by hearing professed Christians join in unbecoming conversation, and hearing them talk with great interest upon everything else but God's love and the wonderful gift of grace.

 

Primitive Baptists contend that there must be a work of the Spirit in the hearts of men that they may have a good hope in Christ, and we should not drift with the world to disregard it; but, instead, we should make this the first thing of importance to the sinner, and the more he is brought to contemplate it and talk about it the better for him.

 

The Pastor's Duty to His Family.

A pastor who has a family owes the same to them as any husband and father. He must protect and care for the woman who has forsaken all others to depend upon him. His children must be cared for, and should have his personal training and watchcare. "Of course he cannot be with them as much as though he was not in the ministry, for he will need to visit among the members of the church, and to fill his appointments. But he need not go away from home and leave those depending on him in need to serve churches that are able to help him and his family. He should not neglect his duty as a minister to make his family independent in this world, he must in a measure trust their welfare and his own in the hands of the Master. But he must not forget his obligation to them and give his service to churches that are able to bear the burden of what pastoral work they have. It is a very nice point for a man to decide just how much he must do for his family, and it ought to be considered with a prayerful heart. One thing is certain, when the Lord calls a man to the ministry he does not absolve him from the responsibility of caring for his family. But he must not attempt to provide wholly for them by his own labor, for that will hinder his ministry, especially if he is a poor man.

 

If the minister is unmarried as was Paul, and an industrious and tireless worker for the cause, he can do much good, for it will take little for his necessities and need cost him but little thought. But if he has a family his labor is very much increased. His wife and children must look to him for support, for in the economy of God's government of the world, the family tie is the most sacred, and its obligations the most binding of any upon men. A man who is indifferent to his obligations as the head of a family is not worthy to put into the ministry. One of the qualifications of a bishop is that he must rule his own house well and have his children under subjection. How is he to do this if he does not exercise all the obligations of the head of the family?

 

His family should not be proud and extravagant, but should live in a humble way, all learning to be industrious, and to do some work, for there is no room in God's government of the world or the church, for those who are lazy and inclined to do nothing.

 

Must not be Afraid to Work.

He must not be afraid to soil his hands by labor, but must make an earnest effort to Provide all necessaries for those depending upon him. Laziness, and a disposition to live off the labors of others, will soon bring a minister into disrepute among Primitive Baptists.

 

Jesus was reputed to be the son of a carpenter, and no doubt labored with his father until he began his public ministry. Paul, though entitled to a support from the churches, { 1Co 9:6} labored with his own hands { Ac 20:34} that he might minister, not only to his own wants, but to others as well. An active life will conduce to health, if judgment is exercised, and a certain amount of bodily exercise will help the niind to meditate on spiritual things.

 

Then, if a pastor knows something of the labors and privations of life, if he has profited by his experience, he will get into the affections of the people all the deeper.

 

The servant should not be above his Lord, and as our Savior trod the lowly walks of life, His ministers will have more fellowship for His sufferings if they bear some of life's heaviness.

 

Should not Preach for a Salary.

A minister should never preach for a stipulated consideration, but for Christ's sake. It is his business to preach whether men will withhold or whether they will contribute. Of course he cannot spare so much of his time from caring for his family if he is not helped, but he can preach all the time he can spare.

 

He has been bought with the precious blood of Christ, and has hope of eternal deliverance because of God's grace and mercy. So his life belongs to the Master and he has no right to set a price upon his labors. If he preaches the pure gospel of Christ there will always be a place for him to preach and his opportunities should be improved.

 

The system of fixing salaries for ministers is corrupting in its influence. Instead of trying to please Christ, men endeavor to get their salaries raised; instead of being devoted to their flocks, they are always looking for a better paying position. Raising money for the salary of a preacher, with Arminian denominations, gets to be a grinding weight on their shoulders, as is evidenced by their trying to shift it on to others and resorting to all kinds of schemes, gambling included, to get money.

 

The Primitive Baptists can never resort to paying salaries to get pastors, nor should our ministers ever stoop to sell the word of God at so much a sermon or by the year.

 

When he obeys his Master and preaches the Word, and men do not communicate, it is beneath the dignity of his calling to say that he will refuse to preach the glorious doctrine of grace because others fail to appreciate God's mercy in administering spiritual comforts to them; but he may turn to others where his labors are better appreciated. He should not leave a church until he has told the members plainly of their duty to the ministry. But when they have shown such a covetous disposition that they will not bear a fair share of the expense of pastoral work, though able to do so, then he will be justified in turning from them to preach elsewhere. It would be wrong for a pastor to take his time from his family and give it to a people so covetous that they would not minister to him of their carnal things. { 1Co 9:11} But a minister should not covet riches, nor should he attempt to gain them by neglecting the work to which God has called him. He should be satisfied to live as his brethren live, and they should not ask him to bear greater hardships than they themselves have to bear.

 

Living off the Labors of Others. Some ministers make a practice of traveling from one church to another and depend upon the churches to support them, having no work by which to earn anything. This is living off the labors of others and taking what justly belongs to the pastors of churches. It is no doubt beneficial for able and faithful ministers to visit churches, but for a minister to aim to live off churches which have pastors they should assist, is certainly an unwarranted practice, and should be discountenanced.

 

04 QUALIFICATIONS OF ELDERS

Must be Called of God.

To perform all the varied duties enumerated a minister must have special qualifications for the work. The qualification which stands pre-eminently above all is, he should be called of God. A man may be ever so wise and learned, but if God has not called him to the work he will not be able to edify the churches. And a man's call may be best judged by his being able or qualified to edify. What he may claim as his "call" is not to be taken as deciding the matter, the proof is in the effect that his preaching has.

 

Character Specified.

But even after it has been decided that a brother has a gift to edify, there are certain character qualifications given in the scriptures. Paul in his first letter to Timothy { 1Ti 3:1-7} states the qualifications of a bishop, and when writing to Titus, his son in the ministry, gives the same qualifications for elders, and uses the term bishop as interchangeable with elder. It may not be possible for any man to measure up to the highest degree in the several traits mentioned, but he ought to have them in view and be molding his character in that direction.

 

And the church should not allow too great a deviation from the qualifications given, for it would ruin the usefulness of a minister to have a character plainly at variance with the scriptural standard. Church and minister ought to feel that the interest of the cause demands that the minister shall maintain such a character as will help instead of injuring the cause. If the minister feels this, he will not resent a correction from the members, for he will feel that as the interest of the church is involved the members ought to be concerned about his life. Then if the members realize that the minister's life may seriously interfere with the prosperity of the church, they may feel under greater responsibility to speak to him about any unbecoming conduct or neglect of his duty.

 

I will notice briefly some of the requirements of elders or bishops. The qualifications are such as relate to his duties as husband and parent as the head of the family, his moral standing, and his fitness for his position as being apt to teach and to benefit the church.

 

Desire for the Work.

"If a man desire the office of a bishop he desireth a good work."-1Ti 3:1. Some men desire the honor of the office, but have no longing for the work. It would seem to be the meaning of this text that if a man desires to yield himself a servant of all, to preach, administer the ordinances of the gospel, look after the discipline of the church, take the responsibility of having the oversight of it, his desire is to a work of much importance, and is in fact a good work, though it is a heavy work. Some men take great delight in doing others good and in giving much service to God. One of such disposition would have some qualification at least for the office of bishop or pastor of a church; but a man who had no willingness for the work, nor a disposition to make the sacrifice necessary, would hardly do much good in the office.

 

He Must be Blameless.

Before men and the church he must not be chargeable with immorality. It cannot mean that he is without sin, but blameless, as Paul was in compliance to the law, for he said he was blamless. { Php 3:6} It is ruinous to the church for her ministry to be charged with dishonesty, falsifying or other discreditable or immoral conduct. His life should be above blame.

 

In Tit 1:7 he says that elders should be lovers of good men (the margin reads ``good things''). This is a mark by which a man's character may soon be known. A man's character is to be judged from the company he keeps. If he loves the company of the boisterous and the rude, he will not have the influence that he ought to have, because the company he seeks gives a true index to his disposition. If he seems to enjoy best the companionship of the purest and most active members of the church, the indications are good; he will seek to lead all to love what is best in the church. But if he finds the company of the tattler and busybody congenial he will probably be found taking sides in the church in difficulties among the members.

 

His preference for good men should be so marked that it should be well known that whoever comes into association with him is being lifted up and made better in mind and character.

 

If tlie text be taken to mean "good things"it is all the broader, and will apply to the whole life of the minister. In his every-day affairs his preference for the good must be manifested and his rejection of evil so pronounced as to be apparent to all. Such a man will not be accused of being a hypocrite, for it will be seen that he is not simply trying to appear good, but that he loves the good.

 

A minister, more than others, will be judged by what he loves. He must not love worldly things too much. Its amusements, riches, fame, honor, etc., must not be held in too high esteem. He should love the Lord supremely and love everything that emanates from him. He must love His law, His church, His service and His saints, and this will make his life pure, strong, cheerful and of much benefit to the church on earth. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." The "pure heart" loves pure things. The minister's preference for good and faithful men should be such that the members of the church will feel that to be in harmony with him their walk and conversation must be such as become the followers of Christ, and if he has the influence with the members that a pastor should have, it will lead them to higher and better lives.

 

Reputation Outside the Church.

It will not do for the church nor its pastor to be indifferent to the reputation of the pastor outside the membership of the church. "Moreover, he must have a good report of them that are without, lest he fall into the reproach and snare of the devil." - 1Ti 3:7.

 

If the pastor have not a good reputation as a man it will hurt the church in many ways. He will be a constant reproach to the church, which is very discouraging to the members. It is very mortifying to members of a church to hear slighty remarks about the pastor, especially if it is known that there is ground for the remarks. This has a tendency to break the pastor's influence with the members of his pastorate, and it is bad, indeed, for a pastor to lose the love and respect of the brethren whom he is trying to serve. They lose their interest in his preaching and grow indifferent to the privileges and duties of the church.

 

Then if the pastor has not a good report of those without, it diminishes his congregation and so limits the influence of the church for good. Some persons will not attend our services because they do not believe the doctrines preached, while others are not so bitter against the truth, and if treated as they should be, and if they respect the pastor and members, they will attend; and when the Lord opens their hearts and ears they may come into the church.

 

A pastor who has the respect of all who know him is himself, in his life, a strong argument in favor of the cause he represents and will strengthen the church. If such a pastor be not a brilliant speaker, it will always be said in his favor, "But he is a good man;" and this will outweigh many short-comings in delivery, speech and wisdom, and will be worth more to the church than a great gift of oratory and keenness of mind if it might be said, "But he is crooked in his life."

 

Some preachers claim that they do not want to stand well with the world, quoting, "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets." But they ignore the fact that we are only blessed when men shall cast out our names for evil for the Son of man's sake. There is no commendation for those who are criticised because of their own character and behavior. It is only when they have to hear the taunts of men because of following Christ that they are exhorted to bear it without murmuring. Being "cast out" for one's own misdoings is a very different thing.

 

Some ministers get a bad report "without" because they have no charity in their discourses for those who differ from them, but use sarcasm and harsh epithets when referring to people of other denominations. This does no good and only makes a bad reputation among those who are without. Preaching ought always to be in love and one does not make enemies when speaking in love. It is very unfortunate for a church when the pastor, or any minister who may preach for it, does it in such a manner as to drive the congregation away. Once I heard a minister say, in referring to the belief of a certain denomination, that he would not want his dog to have such religion. There was no argument in such an assertion, and it was very unkind to use it. The result was that some present said they would never come back again. It was not the gospel of Christ that drove these people away, it was unkind criticism of their belief, which could serve no good purpose.

 

Many preachers become unpopular with the people in this manner and then attribute it to the doctrine they preach, when, perhaps, it is rather the way they preach than what they preach. It is a very unreasonable course, because people cannot be instructed without being interested, and cannot be interested if offended, for no one who feels to be offended stops to reason. A minister to have a good reputation must be just and liberal in his dealings with all men, careful in conversation, and must shun the very appearance of evil. He must preach faithfully the doctrine of God our Savior, preach it in love without compromise in any point, and yet seek to draw men to listen to the truth instead of driving them away.

05 AN APPEAL TO THE MINISTRY

Having briefly noticed some things pertaining to pastoral work and the preaching of the gospel, I will make this appeal to my brethren in the ministry. I trust that I feel the responsibility of the work, and think I know something of its weight and the sacrifices it requires.

 

It Is a Life Work.

There is no such thing as retiring a minister because of his age-he must wear out in the harness. He ought so to live that when he comes to the close of life it could be said of him that he had fought a good fight, that he had kept the faith. The memory and influence of this kind of a life should be esteemed a richer legacy than a fortune in this world's goods. To have faithfully devoted a life to serving the Lord's people is to have spent it well. It would be better to be remembered among the humble poor of the flock as a loving, firm and helpful pastor than to have one's name enrolled among the great of the earth.

 

Preaching the gospel, and the pastor's ministrations, are like giving cold water to the thirsty, and the Master has said to give one cup of water in His name shall be rewarded.

 

Neither Wealth nor Ease Promised.

The minister of the gospel is not promised wealth nor ease, and none of us certainly could have entered upon the work with these in view. Then if wealth and ease fail to be our lot we should not feel disappointed. The Lord called all his disciples to follow him and we ought not to complain when the Lord himself has gone before us.

 

Self-servers have no business in the ministry. The minister of Christ must serve his Lord and his brethren, and sacrifice himself. { 2Co 12:15} Personal interest must not be allowed to dictate to him what he shall do. He should ask with a prayerful heart what the Lord will have him to do, and when this has been decided there should be no appeal from it, either to serve self or to please men. This will not mean that one must be harsh with those who differ from him, or that he shall try to force them to the right way, for he must be "patient," willing to contend earnestly for the truth in love, bearing the weaknesses of the brethren for Christ's sake, not being overcome of their evil or wrong ways, but overcoming them with good.

 

This is not a pleasant prospect to one who knows what human nature is, yet a minister should take this course. He should do so, feeling that the Lord can strengthen him and enable him to endure all things.

 

Responsibility of Ministry.

Brethren, what a great responsibility there is in leading the flock. In ancient times the leaders of the people caused them to err; and are they not as liable to do so now? One can but think of Israel when they were afflicted for David's sin, and apply the same words to the churches which are led astray by their pastors: "What have these sheep done?"

 

It is not infrequently the case where pastors blame churches that they themselves are the cause of the disorder in the church. It may be the pastor's example has led them astray: or it may be he has not preached to them the whole counsel of God and has left them uninstructed on many things; and on some things that they knew to do, they have not been stirred up to diligence, and have fallen into fault; or seeing they were in a wrong practice he did not reprove them, or having reproved them once became passive and did not insist that they should follow the right. This course, though not generally considered as actually wrong, is perhaps as blameworthy as to go wrong and suffer others to follow, for it is the duty of the pastor to reprove and rebuke when necessary. If he shall fail to do this the Master will not hold him faultless.

 

It is, perhaps, too often the case that pastor's do not feel proper responsibility for the churches and members. It would awaken pastors to greater diligence if they felt they were accountable in a great measure for disorder and declension in the churches. When John was directed to write to the seven churches he addressed the reproofs, admonitions, etc., to the "angel" or minister of each church. Can a minister feel that he will not be held to account for his stewardship, when the Holy Ghost has given him oversight of a church to feed it and care for it?

 

Must Contend for the Divine Pattern.

Brother minister, as you look about you, do you not see many things in the churches that ought to be corrected? And not only in the churches but in the lives of the members. All these you should strive to correct, but especially in the church you should see to it that it is after the divine pattern. It is not merely a difference of opinion between you and the brethren, in which they are as likely to be right as you are, for then it would not be right to consider the matter as very serious. But what the Bible teaches you are not at liberty to surrender because some do not have the right view of the matter, for if you were, a preacher would not have to study what God's word teaches, but he would need to ascertain the mind of those to whom he was preaching and then either preach to suit them, or upon points where they were at variance with the word of God, if his conscience would not permit him to go with them, simply keep silent upon those things. Would such a course be characteristic of a true servant of God?

 

O, no, he must never, never, never give up the right! He must ever have it in view and be striving, not only to go toward it himself, but to bring others to it as well. It should strengthen him in this struggle to know, and have full confidence in the fact, that God will be on the side of the right to bless and strengthen it. But you will "have need of patience that after you have done the will of God ye might receive the promise."-Heb 10:36. We should not expect to receive the promise while still in disobedience.

 

To Preach What is Needed.

The church our blessed Redeemer gave us should be preserved in form, and doctrine, and practice. How will you do this? By preaching on doctrine when you know that practice ought to be preached? When you go to a church should you not ask, "What does this church need?"

 

If a servant went out to care for sheep and there was plenty of corn in the troughs, but no water, and some were sick and needed attention, yet he poured in more corn and went away, would his course be approved?

 

The Shepherd would say, "You should have given the thirsty poor souls needing encouragement water spiritual instruction, and the diseased erring ones should have had medicine correction."

 

Will you deliberately withhold from the erring what they need because you think it will not be well received? When you know that no member of the church is infected with Arminian ideas, but that covetousness is keeping members away from the church meetings, and forcing the pastor to carry on the warfare at his own charges, and keeping him from receiving of the fruit of the vineyard, or eating of the milk of the flock, {See  1Co 9:7} will you then preach a sermon against Arminianism or against covetousness, which? If you preach against Arminianism under such circumstances why do you do it? Do you do it to please God or men? Is this considering the matter as it should be? Or would it not be best to remember that to his own master a man standeth or he falleth, and then tell the church what you think they ought to know, and insist on their returning to such scriptural practices as you know they have departed from?

 

Educated to Oppose the Truth.

I sometimes hear a minister say, "I know that is right, but you would not dare to preach it at my church." Is it possible that a church can get so far away from the right that it will not do to preach to it the right way without giving serious offense! That is the spirit that put our Lord to death, and ought it to be fostered in the churches? Any of us ought to be shamed that would educate a church in that direction.

 

My dear brother, let us be honest with ourselves and obedient to God, for if "God be for us," why need we care who is against us? But God will be against us if we are not faithful in our ministry, and the more friends we make by perverting the gospel, or keeping back part of it, will only add that much to our shame and confusion when we are brought to realize our standing before Him.

 

Agreement Among Ministers.

As ministers of Christ we all ought to be working for one end, the advancement of the church, and all should walking together in harmony. True, men of different temperaments may not be able to go together as companions, but they need not try to destroy each other because they are not congenial in dispositions. "We ought to realize there are places where one minister can do no good, when another might work successfully and accomplish much good.

 

So, instead of standing in the way of others, let us help them all in our power and make it manifest that we pray the Lord's blessings on their labors. See Mr 9:38-42.

 

Ill Effects of Jealousy.

Nothing so ill becomes a minister of Christ as jealously. He would make his own poor efforts a limit for efficient and acceptable labor for the Lord, and object to any having grace to surpass him. How little and contemptible such a spirit! Brethren, if you find such a disposition growing in your heart, strangle it; allow it not to live another day. It will dwarf your life and make you miserable to see anyone receive blessing and approbation. He is happiest who rejoices most in the uplifting and enjoyment of others.

 

I have in mind a once able minister of the gospel who is today separated from brethren and cut off from the church because he could not bear to see a growing affection among his churches for other ministers for their work's sake. Paul feared lest he might become a "cast-away," { 1Co 9:27} and a jealous disposition is as likely to bring about this condition as anything else, for "jealousy is cruel as the grave; the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame."-Song 8:6. Let us be brethren, not only in faith, but in deed and in truth, all working lovingly together for the good of the cause that ought to be so precious to us all.

 

Leaving Churches in Disorder.

I appeal to you, my brethren, not to leave to those who shall follow in your field of ministerial labor, churches in all manner of disorders and ignorant of the duties imposed by the scriptures on the members. It will work a hardship on those who follow you, it will cripple the churches and be disregarding your obligations as ministers of Christ.

 

Study to know the New Testament pattern and then let all the efforts of your life be directed to shaping the churches after the pattern. This do persistently.

 

Should Not ``Drift.''

Sometimes you will grow discouraged and you will feel inclined to give up the struggle and simply drift with the course such things take if not prevented. But think what drifting means, my brother. It means to be getting farther and farther away from the right. Do not make spasmodic efforts to stop the ``drifting" and then fall again into non-resistance; this will do more harm than good. It is the steady, determined efforts that accomplish something. Keep on preaching, and talking, and working for godliness in the lives of the members, and to set in order all things connected with the church, "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up unto him in all things, which is the head, even Christ; from whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." -Eph 4:13-16.

 

Should Contend Earnestly.

0, my brethren, let us contend earnestly for all that is taught in God's word. I give these 'suggestions,'' not as embodying all that is written, nor speaking as one who has attained to all things. "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."-Php 3:13-14. I feel that I would like to see-

 

"The church our blessed Redeemer saved,

With his own precious blood,"

 

shake off the traditions which bind her people and rise to the high privileges promised to the obedient and humble followers of the Lamb. "It is high time to awake out of sleep." "Let us, therefore, cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light." "Wherefore he saith, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore, be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is."

 

I would not presume that I know more of the "will of the Lord" than those to whom I write, but I am moved to bring these things to your minds, and appeal to you to move forward as one man, crying as did the prophet, "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem 's sake, I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth."-Isa 62:1.

 

Shall We Be Faithful?

I know hundreds of you feel as I do about these matters. Should we not "cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins."-Isa 58:1. "Bring you all the tithes into my storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open to you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."-Mal 3:10.

 

We believe all these things. Shall we act as God directs and as His spirit prompts? Those who have not investigated the subject of practical duties have the scriptures, and they can and should do so.

 

But as I have before said, ministers may know the Lord's will and not insist on its observance in the churches. "And that servant which knew his lord's will and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes."-Lu 12:47. If a minister accepts the pastoral care of a church it is equivalent to covenanting with the church that he will deal honestly with it and give all needed instruction. He cannot keep this agreement and remain silent while the church is neglecting any important matter. And it will be better for himself and the church, for him to resign rather than to keep silent where God speaks, permitting the church to ignore God's rule and way.

 

I repeat that I do not ask anyone to accept these suggestions unless they be found to agree with God's word; but if they are in harmony with the truth, what reason can a pastor give for not following out the spirit of them? I hope, brother ministers, that you will determine whether they are right or wrong; and that you will join with all our ministers in advocating the practices in harmony with the New Testament teachings.

 

Particularly do I ask that you take a stand in regard to the office of the deaconship in the churches and enter a lifelong protest against doing away with the office, for the discontinuance of that work has seriously crippled the ministry until the churches are deprived of the service they ought to have. I invite your careful and prayerful attention to the positions taken in the following article on "The Deaconship."

 

06 THE DEACONSHIP

No authority questions it being apostolic to have an officer of the church known as deacon. But in no one particular have the Primitive Baptists, and all religious organizations, come so near disregarding the apostolic mark as in the use of this office.

 

General Neglect of the Office.

As to being apostolic, Catholics and Protestants can make no showing doctrinally, as compared with the Primitive Baptists: but when it comes to this one office of the church, though Arminian bodies have generally disregarded the power and degree of the office, and the Primitive Baptists in this particular make a better showing, yet when it comes to the practical work of the office we find our people have fallen far short, and in many places have practically abolished the office, except in form.

 

Primitive Baptist churches, claiming to be the churches of Jesus Christ, should have a better record than this. We should not only be apostolic in doctrine, but in practice as well. When there is apostolic authority for but two classes of church officers, then for us to abolish one of them in practice, is departing too far for those who love the doctrine of grace, and who would prove that they love the Master by keeping his commandments.

 

Some may question these statements being warranted, but ministers who are acquainted with the practice of the churches, and who have given the matter proper study, know that the facts sustain them.

 

These pages have been written to call attention to practices undoubtedly authorized and commanded by the scriptures. To this end I wish to examine the office of the deaconship in the light of the Sacred Word and try to point out to the best of my ability a course approved by it.

 

Importance of the Subject.

First, I would like to engage the attention of the reader with the importance of the subject. Suppose some person should assert that sprinkling is just as good as immersion for baptism. What answer would a Primitive Baptist make? No doubt he would say, "Our Lord commanded believers to be baptized. Christ's own example shows that he understood baptism to be immersion in water, for he was baptized in the river Jordan and came up out of the water. Every allusion or example, so far as given, shows that the apostles and believers of their day understood baptism to be immersion. Since the apostles' time there has been no power authorized to change any doctrine or practice delivered to the church. So one who is not immersed cannot have Christian baptism, and if we receive anything else for baptism we at once lose our right to claim that we are churches of Jesus Christ, because we have a baptism that is not apostolic."

 

So with the doctrines of the church. We contend that if a church departs from the doctrines of the Bible and persists in such error, she loses her identity with the church of Christ.

 

Now if some Arminian should turn these arguments against us and ask, "What was the work of the New Testament deacons?" and then ask if Primitive Baptist deacons do a like work, what would we say? Then if it should be urged that because of this lack or error, we have not a right to call ourselves churches of Christ, what defense can we make, except we can truthfully say we still believe in the duties prescribed for deacons just as taught in the scriptures, and this difference in the practice of our deacons and New Testament deacons is only a temporary falling off or deviation and not because we have rejected the New Testament teaching?

 

If the difference in practice arises because we have actually usurped the authority to change the duties of the office, as some have done, then the reason we assign for not recognizing the various organizations as churches of Jesus Christ, falls with dreadful weight upon us and denies our claims, too.

 

But if we can be said to still hold the theory of the office as it was in the days of the apostles, and it is only the indifference of our members that causes us to fail in our practice, how can we expect the blessings of the Lord when we say, but do not do the things He has left on record for us to follow? Are not these considerations of sufficient weight to prompt us to an immediate investigation of God's word to see how our practice agrees with it.

 

Chastisement For Neglect.

 I hope no one who reads these pages will feel that it makes no difference! In the eyes of Him who taught that we are to follow Him, every obedience and disobedience is important. We may look at ancient Israel and see this principle clearly taught, and no doubt their experiences are recorded that we may learn from them the real issues of life to the child of God.

 

As we now view their journeyings we see what ingratitude it showed to God to depart from His laws, and bring in observances which He had positively forbidden. They no doubt felt at first when they went astray that it was of little consequence, and that God would not take notice of what they did to hold them to account for every violation. Sometimes, no doubt, they believed if their practice was according to the traditions of the elders, it would be all the justification needed. But when Christ came, how severe His denunciations of those who through tradition made void the word of God!

 

Beware, brethren, lest we take a course similar to that disobedient and stiff-necked people. We should remember our God is a jealous God and His glory He will not give to another. He will not allow His people to follow the traditions or heresies of men and pour His blessings upon their course. To do this would be to make His laws of no effect. If we may do them or not do them, and the result will be the same, then His laws are of no consequence. But Primitive Baptists can never admit such a theory as this. "He is our Lawgiver." There be lord's many and gods many, but unto us there is one God {1Co 8:5-6}

 

Return to Authorized Practice.

If we have deacons we want New Testament deacons in practice. As our deacons fill an office recognized by God's word, they should do it in a manner approved by that authority. If our churches have gone astray upon this subject, they will have to repent-leave off the present practices-and return to that warranted by the word of God.

 

We may expect to find opposition. Our people may follow tradition and when they do so, they are as loth to give up such things as others; in fact they seem in some cases to hold to them with greater tenacity, for they get to thinking of their practice as being approved of God. and, generally, what an Old Baptist esteems as coming from God he does not readily give up, for we are taught to view His teachings with greater reverence than other people do.

 

So we cannot expect to see a change in a few days or months, or even years; it will require patience and continued effort for the truth. But no true soldier will falter on this account. It is our duty and our high privilege, to contend for the Lord's way and word and leave the result entirely in his hand. By reading the history of ancient Israel we may see that wrong practices often found their way in among them, and when they had to suffer for it, then they would be induced to put the evil away from them. May we not hope the Israel of our God will arise now and put every evil way behind her, and trusting in the God of Abraham, take his law as the only rule of faith and practice? She should not be satisfied to merely believe the doctrine of grace, she should obey her Lord.

 

The Term in The New Testament.

I come now to consider the office of the deaconship. The Greek word which is translated "deacon" in the New Testament means servant, attendant, waiter. This word in its verbal and noun forms occurs one hundred one times in the New Testament, but it is only rendered "deacon" five times. It is rendered "minister" sixy-four times and "servant" twenty-one times. In its general meaning of ministering, it is applied to pious wornen (Matt, xxvii. 55), to brethren, {Mt 25:44} to preachers. {Eph 6:21} to apostles. {Ac 1:17} to angels, {Mr 1:13} and to Christ. {Mt 20:28}

 

But it is used in a special sense to indicate an officer of the New Testament church and should be used by us in the same way to denote the same thing today.

 

That there is another office besides that of elder indicates that other work is to be done besides ministering the word. To judge from the practice of some churches, only one officer is needed, (a preacher,) and he shorn of all power to look after the interest of the flock, except at communion time a deacon is needed to pass the bread and wine to the brethren.

 

Connection With the Lord's Supper.

I will here state that I have never of scripture, nor have I ever heard anyone use one that taught that the deacon rather than any other person, should pass the bread and wine. Some refer to Ac 6:2, where it is said by the apostle that it was not meet for the apostles to leave the word of God and "serve tables," and these "tables" are taken to be the tables spread at the Lord's supper, but it has no reference to such at all. The "tables" the apostle did not have time to serve, was daily ministering to the Grecian widows, who were being neglected because the disciples were multiplied.

 

How much time is saved to the minister by the deacon passing the bread and wine? What does the minister do at that time that he could not do as well and pass the emblems himself? So far as I know this is the only passage referred to, and it is evident upon consideration that this had no reference whatever to the communion table.

 

But as it is not stated just who may, or who may not, assist at communion seasons, our custom of having the deacons to do so is not in violation of God's word. But instead of this being their principal duty it is only one of the many things that may be laid upon them as being in harmony with the character of the work to be expected of deacons.

 

It would be more in keeping with the exact wording of our Lord when any brother has been served, for him to pass the bread or wine to another brother, so long as all are conveniently situated, and only call for the deacon's assistance when brethren are not convenient to each other. As to providing the emblems, and the articles necessary for the communion, it is evident from the nature of the deacon's work that he should do this.

 

I will here remark that the objection of some deacons to passing the bread and wine at churches where they may be visiting, and are not acquainted with all the members, seems to be well taken, for they are liable to miss some, and to offer them to others who should not partake of them. I have known persons to take of the communion under such circumstances who were not members of the Old Baptist church at all. They had no scruples themselves, and took license from the fact that the emblems were passed to them. It is presumed that a deacon will know who is entitled to eat at his home church.

 

God's Plan Embraces the Deaconship.

Coming to the occasion for the appointment of deacons in the apostolic church, it will be found that there was work for them to do, and of such character that it was necessary to select men especially fitted to do it. This is one peculiarity of the church of Christ, work is to be done by persons especially fitted for it. The work of deacons was principally to handle and distribute money, or its equivalent.

 

The militant church of Christ is made up of men and women who, though born of God, are subject to life's ills and needs, and he who had wisdom to build the earth and sky, and all things therein, did not set up his church and overlook this important fact. Christ affirms, "Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things," and everything proves that he does, and that he who hears the ravens when they cry, and sees the sparrows when they fall, cares for us (1Pe 5:7).

 

I have heard unthinking brethren affirm that their church had no money system in it. While I feared they were telling the truth, I knew if it was true, their church, in that respect at least, was not apostolic. He who set up the church keeps all worlds in motion by a law that will never fail until his purpose has been worked out and He himself shall bid it stop. Would he, who always went about doing good, healing the sick and relieving the distress of the poor, forget that there would be poor in the church in the ages then to come? 0, no, for he said, The poor ye have with you always. {Mr 14:7}

 

Is the theory of men correct that Jesus made no arrangements for caring for the poor and distressed and keeping up the ministry, and that now it is necessary to organize societies and helps for that purpose, the church not being adapted for such work?

 

God's Plan for the Church Complete.

No, a thousand times no! The church as set up by our Master is all complete and nothing lacking. And as the law he gave the sun shall keep it shining as long as he designs without having to be renewed, so the system he devised for equalizing the burdens among the members of the church of Christ will never need revision, nor that anything be added to it. We do not need ministerial boards nor aid societies that our ministers may give themselves to him who has called them. The church in herself has every needed arrangement, and it will be found perfectly adequate to every emergency when our people trust in God and obey his word. We need never trouble ourselves to devise a plan for anything connected with the church of Christ, everything is already devised and laid down in God's word, and we may be sure if the plan we are following is not laid down there it will not be successful in the accomplishment of a Bible end.

 

Deacons were chosen to take charge of the funds of the church as a part of their work.

 

The Seven Were Deacons.

Some question that the seven {Ac 6:3} were deacons. But from the fact that there were deacons in the churches later on, and no authority for the office is given except this in Ac 6, and that the duty is set forth in that chapter and elsewhere is in harmony with the meaning of the word, I conclude that the seven were deacons.

 

A Fund to be Maintained.

That the church had a fund will appear from the fact that as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them and laid the price at the apostles' feet. {Ac 4:34-35} From the common fund so formed the apostles made distribution to all as they had need. But the number of the disciples increased until the apostles were unable to see to the needs of all, and some of the Grecian widows were neglected. The apostles had also to preach, and there was not time to attend to both matters. {Ac 6:1} As the work of caring for these widows was the express purpose for which the seven were set apart, it is certainly a legitimate conclusion that the church fund passed into their hands.

 

Even prior to the crucifixion of our Lord a common fund was provided as will be seen from the fact that when they sat at meat before Judas had betrayed our Lord, Judas was in charge of what money was needful for Jesus and the twelve. Some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, "Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or that he give something to the poor."-Joh 13:29.

 

Prom this we learn that Jesus had been training the disciples in the course they afterwards recommended to the church. Christ and his apostles had a common fund and they used it to supply their needs and to help the poor. If it had not been the practice to give to the poor out of that fund the disciples would not have thought that Judas had been told to do anything of the kind.

 

"Who supplied the fund we are not told, but as the disciples were all poor, and there is no record that they stopped to work, expect when they went fishing, we may believe; without drawing very hard on our imagination, that there were friends of the cause of Christ who were in position to help and had liberal hearts.

 

The fact that Judas had the purse, and was a devil, has nothing to do with its being right or wrong. Up to this time he had been a follower of Christ, and there is no proof that he did not do as the other disciples did. Judas followed Christ, but that does not make it wrong to be a follower of Christ.

 

No Fund, No Need For Deacons.

Now if a church has no fund, and will not maintain one, it has no use for deacons. Any member may use his own funds for the relief of the needy, but it is the business of a deacon to use the funds of the church for that purpose. I have known churches to ordain deacons when it was not the intention of the members of the church to put anything into their hands, at any rate they did not. This is to trifle with solemn obligations and make much ado over form and deny the plain teachings of God's word. If the elders of the churches who form presbyteries would be true to their convictions, they would say to the churches when called on in such cases, we will not use our authority to put a brother in an office knowing that you will withhold that from him which is necessary to the performance of his duty. To ordain a deacon in a church that will not keep any funds in his hands is to lay upon him a solemn responsibility and then have the church tie his hands and force him to non-compliance with the obligations of his office.

 

A brother chosen in a church to be deacon, knowing it had not been the practice of the church to keep any funds, and having reason to believe that unless they viewed the matter different to the general impression among the members there would be nothing put into his hands, might well refuse to submit to ordination until there was a more scriptural understanding on the subject.

 

These questions should be answered, not only by the brother chosen deacon, but by the members of the church as well:

 

1. Is there necessity for deacons in the church?

 

2. What is the duty of the church to the deacon?

 

3. What is the duty of the deacon?

 

4. What are the qualifications of a deacon?

 

1. Necessity for Deacons.

 

With the view that there is no duty for the deacon but to assist at the communion, it cannot be made out that there is any necessity at all. As before stated, there is no passage of scripture indicating that any member of the church might not properly do the work the deacon usually does at the communion. If the view be taken that he is only to look after the spiritual interests of the members, then his place is more eminently filled by the ministry, and if there is necessity for more careful oversight, spiritually, then there should be more elders, or the pastor in charge should give himself more wholly to the work. From this standpoint there is, no necessity whatever of choosing deacons.

 

To Take Charge of Church Funds.

The necessity, as it is stated in the New Testament, is to take charge of financial matters and look after the needs of the members of the church, being supplied with the means to do this by the voluntary contributions of the members.

 

I repeat, if a church does not intend to keep funds in the hands of her deacons she does not need deacons.

 

It may be said in reply to this that it is the duty of the deacons to look about and see if there are any poor, or needed expenses, or if the pastor needs help, and report it to the church and get instructions what to do and receive supplies from the church.

 

Not Simply to Report to Church.

I would say in the first place, to admit this view a member who had but little judgment would make about as good a deacon as the one endowed with the greatest wisdom, for he would not be expected to exercise his judgment in any case, but must always wait until he has been directed just what to do, while the qualifications given indicate that he is to act on his own judgment.

 

Then, in cases of immediate need, if the church met only once a month, as most of our churches do now, the needy brother or sister might pass in great suffering and distress beyond the need of anything ministered by human hands.

 

But the objector to the fund suggests that in such case it would be the duty of the deacon to either contribute of his own means, or see the brethren and collect something.

 

This is purely an innovation on God's way, as set forth in the Acts of the Apostles, and the example of the Primitive church. Paul gave instruction that there be weekly collections, that when the time for the use of the funds arrived, there would need to be no collection taken (1Co 16:1-2). The deacon might be poor himself and not have enough to supply the needs of others, and it very often happens that very poor brethren are very prompt to do their duty, and make just as good deacons as any.

 

Further, if the deacon is just to make report to the church of cases of need, any brother can do that, and there is no necessity for a special appointment. The fact is this, it is the duty of all the members to report to the deacon.

 

The Office Not Needless.

A church cannot do in a proper way, and most likely will not do at all, the things done by apostolic churches without active deacons. The Lord has nothing done except for good reason. If the church can do as well without deacons as with them, then what reason can be given for their appointment, unless the office is to be considered as ornamental rather than practical, simply a dignitary without a duty.

 

Certainly it will be conceded by all who revere the sacred word that there must have been, and is yet, a necessity for the deaconship in the church, not simply that the church may say she has a deacon, but that the work of the deacon may be done. So a church should not be considered in complete working order until the work of the deacon is recognized and carried out. When churches are organized after they have secured a pastor, and sometimes before, they choose deacons, the inference being, even when the statement is not made, that a church is not fully in working order without deacons. But it is clear in some cases that this is a mere recognition of the office, and not of the work of the office, for no attempt is made to make the deacon of any practical aid to the church and cause. We should look deeper than mere form. The fact that there were deacons in the apostolic church should be argument enough with Primitive Baptists that the office is necessary, and also if necessary then, necessary now, or else the apostolic church is not a pattern for all ages. This admission would let in all the innovations of the day, which no Primitive Baptist could agree to at all. As proof that there where deacons in the apostolic churches, see the following scriptures: Ac 6:3-6; Php 1:1; 1Ti 3:8-13.

 

So if we are to lay claim to apostolic form in our churches we must have deacons, and it is certainly of more importance to have the work of the office done than it is to have the officer.

 

IL Duty of Church to Deacon.

 

Duty Not to The Man.

As to the question, "What is the duty of the church to the deacon?" If the members of the church do not recognize that there is a binding duty, the office might as well remain vacant. It is not a duty to the man who is filling the office, but to the office work as a function of the church.. We do not care for the hand or the foot as having any dignity of themselves, but because they are a part of the body, and without them the body would be maimed.

 

So must the office of the deaconship be considered. Here is a function of the church to be performed through this office, and if she does not have this office, she either does not do the work, or does it in an unscriptural way. The church should not choose a brother as a deacon to honor the man, but to use him as a servant to carry out the full work of the church.

 

A church cannot raise a brother to the work of the ministry, that is God's work. But she can put any brother into the deaconship who has the qualifications, though there may be other brethren who are just as well fitted for the place who are not needed. God appoints the minister to do a special work, and the church appoints the deacon to carry out the active work that falls to the church as an organization.

 

No Right to Annul Work of the Office.

A church has as much right to do away with baptism as it has to do away with the work of the church that is to be done through deacons. She may have deacons in form, and yet do away with the work of the deacon. If a member of the church has never done anything through the deacon's hands, that member has done away with the work of the deacon so far as he is concerned, and has committed as much of an offense against the Great Head of the church as though he had attempted to make void anything else that belongs to the house of the Lord. Indeed, it is hard to say if there is anything else connected with the church, except it be the ministry of the word, but could be struck down with less hurt than this.

 

To Ignore Deacons is Contempt for God.

To appoint deacons and then ignore them in administering the financial part of the church's business is gross contempt for God's law as head of the church. It would be as though an Israelite of old had said, I will ignore the priest who is to minister in the temple and do the work myself. Many brethren make this statement in substance when they say they will not have the deacon to fill his office, but what they have to give they will give it themselves.

 

If the apostolic church is to be taken as a pattern, (and if it is not we have none,) we must consider the deaconship as an office of God's own arranging and should hesitate as much to change it or abolish it as we would to change the doctrines given in the scriptures, and should feel that as great a curse will fall on us for the one as for the other.

 

The deacon is the hand of the church that she stretches out to all who are in need, and to keep her affairs working in decency and in order.

 

Alms-Giving in Secret.

Some brethren try to step behind this passage, "But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth," and conclude that what they do they must do very privately, not letting anyone know what they do, not even the deacon.

 

This is plainly straining this passage to mean something it was never intended to mean at all. It is wrong to make a display among men, and these words of the Savior were spoken in condemnation of such a practice. In the same connection the Savior tells his disciples that when they pray they are to enter into their closets and pray in secret and not before men. {Mt 6:5}

 

Is it then wrong to pray in public? Most of our church rules say that our services ought to be opened by singing and prayer. According to this construction this would be wrong and no one ought to offer prayer in public. The absurdity of this construction at once appears.

 

It may be that brethren who have urged such a construction have done so, violating the true principle in their hearts. It may be they wanted the recipient to know just whose liberality he received, and they did not put it into the hands of the deacon because then it would never be known by the recipient who made the contribution.

 

Sometimes when there are several preachers at a meeting a brother wants his favorite preacher to know that he is appreciated, and prefers to give out of his own hand; for if it were given to the deacon it would be divided up and those who were in greatest need would get most, and his favorite would never know just how he had appreciated him. This is the very spirit our Lord was condemning, and the plea is a mere pretext. If one is willing that his liberality should not be advertised, let him put his gifts in with the common funds in the deacon's hands.

 

God's Way Through the Deaconship.

If the church is to feel as she ought toward the deaconship it must be viewed as God's way of attending to certain affairs, and must be sacredly guarded from those who would change or abolish it. If a brother be chosen by the church to be put into the deaconship it is his right to know that the church rightly understands her obligations to the office, and is disposed to recognize them, before assuming obligations himself that he cannot discharge unless the church will first do her duty.

 

A church should not consider the work of the deacon as apart from her own act, but every member should feel that God has made it his duty to do certain things, and that these things are to be done through the deaconship.

 

The scriptures teach that we must be baptized and then leaves us no discretion as to manner or mode of baptism- we must be dipped in water.

 

Now it is the duty of members of the church to do certain things, and then it is specified that this is to be done through the deacon's hands. It is contempt for God and His word to say it can be done as well some other way. The duty of the church to the deaconship is such that it is open rebellion to say to the deacon, "Stand thou here, we can do all there is to do without having need of thee." What right has any member or individual to ignore or make void an office that has the approval of the Sacred Word!

 

The duty of the members to this office is such that they should hold all their possessions subject to the needs of the church, as did the saints in the time of the apostles. While it is not obligatory now, nor was it then, to sell one's property and put it into a common fund, yet the principle is that each brother should be willing to support the cause with all he has, and to that end should keep sufficient funds in the hands of the deacons to discharge the obligations of their office.

 

III      What is the Duty of a Deacon?

 

IV This is the next question to be considered by all the church in setting apart a deacon.

 

It would appear strange that a church should ever set apart a member to a work when very few of the members understood clearly what that work was. But such might be the case. Every member should be able to answer the plain question, in choosing a deacon. "What is he to do?" The necessity for this will be apparent upon reflection. If the members of a church do not properly understand the duty of a deacon he will not be able to discharge his duty, if his performance in any way depends upon them, for they will not co-operate with him. So a brother, when chosen by a church to this office, might very properly demand of them what they expected him to do.

 

If the members only expected him to assist the pastor at the communion, and bear unkind criticism, as everyone put into any prominence must do, he might with good ground refuse to accept the responsibility because the church was not scriptural as to the duty of deacons.

 

Pastor Should Instruct Members.

No pastor should permit a church of his care to go into the selection of a deacon without thoroughly instructing them as to the duty of the deacon. Here is where many of our pastors confess error, and failure to discharge their obligation. Too often the only things considered are the moral qualifications of the deacon without respect to what the deacon is to do.

 

How is it possible to decide on the qualifications of a person to an office without deciding what he is to do?

 

Here is where many mistakes have been made. Often, if a brother is exemplary in his walk and character as a man and a Christian, he is considered fit to be put into the deacon's office.

 

Qualifications For Special Work.

But a man might be well fitted to be a judge on the bench who would make a very poor farmer or merchant, and the scriptures consider this, and point out the special qualifications of a deacon. I appeal to every reader of these pages to decide in his own mind what a deacon is to do if he carries out the scriptural idea of the office.

 

Certainly no member of the church should consider himself competent to enter into the choice of deacon without first defining to his own satisfaction the work of the deacon, and then considering the peculiar fitness of the brother who is to be set apart.

 

Deacons to feel Certain Things Are Required.

The work of the deacon needs to be decided upon and understood by all, that the brother chosen to the office may be impressed with the fact that certain things are expected of him, and knowing it is the mind of all that he is to do these things, he will feel a greater obligation to discharge his duty. For, if there is a diversity of opinion regarding his work, he can never act without the feeling that his course is disapproved by some, which is a very discouraging condition.

 

But, if all the members are properly instructed, the deacon will feel encouraged to perform the duties of his office, knowing his work is known to all, and that a failure to do it will meet with criticism, while to act faithfully will endear him to all his brethren.

 

It is, indeed, very essential that all the members understand what the work of the deaconship is, and that they do not regard it as separate and apart from their work, but rather the channel through which individual members and the whole church, are to discharge certain obligations.

 

To Supply All Who Need.

By reference to Ac 6, it will be very clearly seen that he is to make distribution of the church funds to all who have need. None will contend that the church ought to neglect or overburden any of her members, but different brethren will propose different plans for equalizing the burdens and caring for all who should be ministered to. This is ignoring God's plan, and certainly His plan must be the best.

 

Some say that each brother or sister must act for himself or herself, and minister to all whom they find who have need. Now, certainly, there is nothing in God's word that would stand in the way of anyone taking this course. But the members of churches are weak, human beings, and some who have plenty of means have little charity, and some who have great sympathy for the cause, and for the suffering, have but little means. So, if left to themselves, the burden will fall most unequally, for many, who are able to help, will evade any occasion of bearing the burden of others, leaving the few who are willing, whether able or not, to do whatever is done.

 

To Equalize Burdens.

So it is evident that if the burdens of the church are to be equalized, and those who need help are to receive it, the New Testament plan is the only one that will meet all the conditions to be provided for.

 

Here will be found a stimulus for those who have been blessed with plenty, but who have a covetous disposition; here will be found a check for those who are liberal beyond their means, and funds sufficient for the needs of all.

 

Besides this, the pastor should have an efficient helper, one full of wisdom, leading an exemplary life before the members for them to follow, an officer of the church full of the Holy Ghost, and faith.

 

It is a wise provision of the Great Head of the church for equalizing the burdens among members that the means contributed by the members go into a common fund, of which the deacons have charge. The deacon will know whether a member is contributing according to his ability, not that it is with the deacon to say how much any member shall give, for the needs of the church are to be met by voluntary offerings, as were the necessary things for the tabernacle and its service; but he will know who are giving as the Lord has prospered them, and if they fail to do this after proper instruction,and reproof if necessary, they should be reported to the church as covetous, which is a grievous sin, and should be summarily dealt with.

 

To Labor With The Covetous.

"Mortify, therefore, your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and COVETOUSNESS, which is idolatry; for which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience."-Col 3:5-6.

 

Old Testament lessons teach us that an idolater is an abomination in the sight of God. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or COVETOUS, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat."- 1Co 5:11.

 

All the members of any church know it is wrong to tolerate a drunkard in the church. Well, the Sacred Writ couples drunkards and covetous people together as being of one class - a class on which the "wrath of God" cometh.

 

Now the deacons, knowing who are covetous and who are not, it would be their duty, more than that of any other member, to labor with such an offender in this direction, and if need be, report him to the church.

 

Ananias and Sapphira were accused by the Apostle Peter. This was before the institution of the deaconship, and the funds of the church were in the hands of the apostles.

 

Sin of Ananias and Sapphira.

Ananias and Sapphira professed before men that they were giving in all they had to give. So long as there was no use for their goods they were under no obligation to part with them; but their sin was in withholding through a covetous disposition. Before the property was sold it was their own, and after it was sold the proceeds were theirs. {Ac 5:4} But they evidently felt it would be commendable to give in all they had, and yet they loved what they had better than they did the cause of Christ. The church could make no demand as to the amount to be given, so these two lied to God and not to men.

 

How many deacons have seen cases like this: Brethren professing to give all they were able to give, and yet the deacons knew that a covetous disposition was causing them to hold back what they ought to bestow?

 

We should learn from this lesson in Acts that the principle upon which the church was founded is, that the possessions of all members ought to be held by them subject to the needs of their brethren and the good of the cause.

 

This fact should be recognized by the deacons who should not be slow to call upon the members for funds to meet all needs. A brother who is one indeed, should be ready to divide his last crust, and if this spirit prevailed it would not be hard for the deacons to do their work.

 

For the deacons to know there is need for distribution to the poor, or to the ministry, or to the sick, and yet have members who are well able to contribute to such purposes withhold their means, after an appeal from the deacons, is very discouraging, indeed; in fact, this is the greatest burden deacons have to bear. Finding that members fail and refuse to do their duty, the deacons grow indifferent to their work and the office falls into disuse.

 

Dealing With Covetous Members.

When the deacons have reported a covetous person to the church he should be dealt with the same as for any other offense. And that covetous persons should be dealt with there can be no doubt whatever, if the scriptures are to be taken as a rule. As before remarked, if covetous persons were classed with drunkards, idolater's, etc., and dealt with accordingly, it would be better for the church and all the members. Of course the deacon will have to take gospel steps to bring such matters before the church, and when this is done the church should not regard this sin as a peculiarity of character that cannot be reached, for it stands in the way of the prosperity of the church by withholding that which is needed perhaps in the upholding of the ministry. Not that the pastor of a church should serve for a salary, or for the sake of money, but many of God's ministers are poor in this world's goods, and having families, it is impossible for them to give a great portion of their time to the ministry.

 

The apostles ordained deacons and put the funds of the church into their hands that the ministers might give themselves wholly to the work. {Ac 6:4} With this thought on his mind the deacon will not feel that it is simply a personal matter between him and the brethren. To neglect his duty, and let brethren withhold from the church what they are able to give, if it is needed to assist the pastor that he may discharge his duty, is to give assent to a weakened service, and weakened for mere greed, too, and to actually become a party to breaking down the apostolic plan for keeping up a church and sustaining the ministry in its work.

 

An important duty of deacons is to see that those who are able do not withhold their means because of covetousness.

 

Should Keep An Account.

Not only is it the business of the deacon to receive the funds contributed by the members, but that perfect confidence may be maintained, he should keep an accurate account of all he receives and all he pays out, and make his report to the church regularly. He need not report what each member gives, but the whole amount received. But he should give the items as paid out. If the church desires it he may report items received.

 

This is necessary, because the members must have every evidence of the integrity and honesty of the deacon. True, they might feel this at the time of his selection, but that this feeling may be maintained it will be found necessary that the members know what he does with the funds in his hands. If it is known that he keeps no account they will feel that he himself does not know just in what condition the funds are, whether he has church funds on hand, or whether he has paid out more than has been put into his hands.

 

I knew a case in which a good brother's word was called in question. He said he had not received enough money for a certain purpose. Another brother, equally good, said from his knowledge he felt sure that he had, but said, "He keeps no account and forgets."

 

If the deacon keeps no account of the funds he receives, nor of what use he puts them to, it soon results in a falling off of the receipts, and necessitates making a collection every time there is occasion to defray any expenses.

 

To Collect as Needed the Wrong Method.

Some churches follow this practice: The deacon calls on the brethren when he has need of any funds, such as to help the pastor or a visiting minister, or to pay church expenses, and collects only so much as may be needed and pays it all out at once.

 

This practice is rather to be commended than for the members to ignore the deacon, but it falls short of meeting the necessities, and is not following the scriptural practice. One of the bad features is, there will often be need of money, and the members will not be present to collect from. The regular meeting time may be cold and stormy, or heavy rains or sickness may keep the members at home, but the faithful pastor is present. He meets two discouraging things the members are not present and his expenses are not paid.

 

Then at the next meeting, if the members are present, they only contribute as much as though they had been present the meeting before, because there is no report whether the pastor's expenses were met or not, and he has it to bear.

 

Now if the deacon kept an account of the church fund, he could report at any time before it was exhausted, and it would be the duty of the members to replenish it. Then, whether the members were present at a meeting or not. if the pastor was present he could be helped on his way. Or if there were need to help any poor person, or incidental church expense, the deacon would be prepared to meet it.

 

Another reason for keeping an account is for the convenience of the members. Many of our members are farmers, and do not have ready money at all times of the year, in fact, it may be the case with anyone that he is not at all times prepared to make a contribution; but there will be some time during the year when he could put in his share toward keeping up the church's expenses. He could then hand it to the deacon and his entry of it would show that this brother had given his proportional part. The deacon would then know not to call on him again until the other members had borne their part.

 

Amount Each Member Should Pay.

Here arises a very important question: What is each member's share? Or what should each pay? This is where most of the attempts to systematize the deacon 's work break down.

 

A member asks the deacon, "How much shall I contribute?" The deacon, feeling he has no right to set the amount for members to give, says, "0, I don't know, just what you feel like giving."

 

The member, feeling, perhaps, that it is not right to burden the church with surplus funds, or that the deacon will at once and for that occasion, pay out all he receives, whether it is actually needed or not gives but little. The deacon can say nothing, though he knows if the other members do not do better, the amount needed will not be raised. In his heart the deacon knows what the member ought to give, and, perhaps, the member would be quite willing to give all that is needed, but because of a wrong system in attending to business, the church has not done its duty.

 

Now all this can be remedied if the deacon is allowed to, and will do his duty. Every deacon who is qualified for the office can estimate about what the yearly expenses of his church will be. He can tell how much the fuel will cost; he knows if there are any poor to be looked after regularly; he can estimate needed repairs about the building and grounds; he knows how much it will cost to have some one care for the house, and have it ready for services; he should know the circumstances of the pastor, and about how much such a church as his ought to contribute to him.

 

He should lay this before all the members of the church, and let each one say how much of it he is willing to give. These amounts he can enter on his book. If it is enough to meet the demands, well and good, and each one will know about what he is to do, and he can do it when it is convenient.

 

But if the amounts volunteered at the first do not cover probable expenses, the deacon can ask the members to reconsider the matter, and raise their contributions; or knowing the circumstances of all the members, he will suggest to those who have not been as liberal as their circumstances warrant, that they should give more to equalize the burden. "When this matter has been arranged, the members can pay in the amounts they have agreed to give as soon as they have it, or as the deacons may need it. The deacons should not wait until the funds are entirely exhausted before calling upon the members, nor should the members wait to be called on at all. They should try to make the work of the deacon as light as possible, and should not put him to the trouble of calling on them individually.

 

Of course the members are privileged to make as many gifts outside of this church fund as they feel disposed.

 

Distributing To the Poor.

Out of the funds in their hands the deacons should distribute to the poor. No poor member should be allowed to suffer for the necessities of life, nor for any needed comfort that the church is able to provide. Never should a brother or sister, who can possibly be cared for otherwise, be sent out to the poor house to be cared for by the general public. The church need not take upon herself the burden of caring for the poor outside of her membership, because the members pay taxes to care for these poor. But her own poor and afflicted should be cared for by the church, and it is the especial duty of the deacons to look after this work.

 

When one church is not able to care for its poor, other churches should help, as did the church at Corinth and the churches of Galatia. {1Co 16:1-3}

 

In the United States, outside of the cities, we have not many poor who are actually unable to care for themselves who have no relatives to look after their needs, so this is not a heavy burden on the churches. In some cases members may be lazy and imprudent, so the deacons should carefully investigate each case and report it fully to the church that their course may be approved.

 

Incidental Expenses.

The deacons should defray the necessary expenses of the church, such as providing fuel, employing a janitor and keeping up needed repairs. The practice of some churches making such things a special order of the church is disregarding the deaconship, and results in neglect and often in dissatisfaction. It is an old saying, that what is everybody's business is nobody's business, and it often proves true. A pane of glass is broken in a window. The janitor did not break it, and is not obliged to put in a new one, as he probably will not get pay for caring for the house until the end of the year, and has no money with which to buy the glass except what is his own. He knows the deacons have no church money, and that there will have to be a collection taken, and perhaps if the glass is put in before the collection is taken, it may may not be made at all. So he waits for the church to "take the matter up" and take up a collection before this small matter can be attended to.

 

Then the janitor is employed by the year, and whether he does his work well or not, no one feels disposed to speak to him about it, for the church, and not an individual employed him, and "individuals" do not want to be "too forward" in matters which concern others as well as themselves.

 

Now if the deacons were held accountable for all these things, then there would not be so much neglect. Or if there were, the church would need new deacons.

 

I will suggest to deacons, if they pay the janitor every month they will get better service, and they should see to it that the house is kept in proper order to make the congregation comfortable. The house should be kept clean, the seats free from dust, warmed in winter before the congregation assembles, and kept warm enough, but not too warm, proper ventilation being provided. If the person employed to look after these things does not attend to them properly, and will not be instructed to do so, get some one else. "Be not slothful in business." - Ro 12:11. Keep the house and grounds in nice order, that it may be a pleasant and an inviting place.

 

Some churches appoint an annual or a semi-annual "house cleaning" when the members all come in to spend the day together, and to thoroughly clean the house, repair the fences, cut the grass, etc., and this is commendable, especially as it affords the members an opportunity of spending a day together.

 

Should Look After the Pastor's Needs.

The deacons should minister out of the church funds to the necessities of the Pastor, and they must to a great degree determine how much is done for him. The pastor's circumstances and opportunities should be understood. The deacons should remember that a church cannot prosper without pastoral service, and they must provide for as efficient a service as possible.

 

If a church simply provides for a minister to come and preach for it two days or more in a month, and return at once to his home, if he lives at a distance, it is arranging for no pastoral service except the public ministry of the Word, which is but a part of the pastor's duty.

 

Deacons were first chosen that those who ministered in the Word might give themselves wholly to that work, and the deaconship should still be used to loose the hands of the ministry that the church may have the benefit, not only of the preached word, but of pastoral service as well. The pastor should visit the sick, the afflicted, the disobedient, the indifferent, those who fail to attend their meetings, those who have a hope but who are not members of the church, those who are in trouble on account of their sins, and the faithful members as well. This will all take time, and the scriptures teach that he is not to do this at his own expense. "Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? Who planteth a vineyard and eateth not of the fruit thereof? Or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?'' -1Co 9:7.

 

Pastor not To Bear His Own Expenses.

No unbiased person can read this and believe but that it has reference to a preacher of the gospel. Those who would try to make it mean anything else would certainly be wresting the scriptures. It means very plainly that the pastor, minister or preacher, is not to go at his own charges, and then it is plainly told from whence his lack is to be made up.

 

He is to eat of the fruit of the vineyard, and he is to take of the milk of the flock. "For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?"-1Co 9:9-11.

 

I remember when we used oxen on the farm, and when gathering corn in the field, we let the oxen eat the corn off the stalks as they went along, and we did not have to feed them corn at the stables when engaged in this work. This is on the same principle as the law of Moses in regard to treading out the corn, though the "corn" was a different grain in that case.

 

Now Paul says this law in regard to oxen treading out corn was written with special regard to the gospel ministry. "For our sakes, no doubt, this was written." But that the matter may be settled he asks, "Is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things," having sown to you spiritual things?

 

Preacher to Live of the Gospel.

Now the law that God gave to the church, according to Paul {1Co 9:14} is ``That they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.'' As a parallel case with this he cites the fact that in the temple service, (which is the type of the church service) "they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple, and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar." The priests, which evidently represent the gospel ministry, drew no land when the land of Canaan was divided, because they were to live of the things of the temple. If the offerings of the temple were abundant, then their living was plenteous; but if the offerings fell off, then they might even be driven to seek a living at other employment. "Even so," says Paul to the church at Corinth, "Hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel."

 

Some try to spiritualize this passage, and make it mean something very different from what the apostle evidently intended. But it would be very strange, indeed, if Paul had taken no spiritual comfort from the gospel, as would be implied if we are to spiritualize this passage, for Paul says, "But I have used none of these things; neither have I written these things that it should be done unto me; for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void."

 

Might Waive His Right.

Paul did as any minister who is in the same position might do; he might not use his power in the gospel, and might support himself with his own hands. Not that Paul did this all the time, for even when he was preaching for the church at Corinth, and not asking them to supply his needs, he says he robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do service to the church at Corinth. "When he was at Corinth the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied his wants. See 2Co 11:8-9.

 

Wrong to Carry the Church's Burden.

But to this church to which he was not "burdensome" he wrote, asking them to forgive him for not having them supply his needs, and so be on an even footing with the other churches. "For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong."-2Co 12:13.

 

If it was wrong then to train a church up in this way, and made it inferior to churches which supplied the minister, would it not be wrong now? And would not a church which neglected its pastor be inferior to one that did not?

 

But while Paul did not at first teach the Corinthians to minister to his support, in both letters he deals with the subject very plainly. There seemed to be some condition peculiar to this church which caused him to deal with them thus. While upon this subject {2Co 12:16} he says, "Being crafty, I caught you with guile."

 

But he asserts that he had power to forbear working, {1Co 9:6} but he had not used that power in this case. Any minister who is in like circumstances might follow a like course. But if he has a wife, as Paul declared he had a right to have, and a family, and must provide for them, he may have very little time to devote to the churches; and here is where the deaconship is of so much value to the church. A wise and zealous deacon will see to it that means are provided that the church may have pastoral service. Of course the members of the church must be of like mind or the deacon will be powerless to do anything of himself. But if the church does not feel it her duty to provide for pastoral service, the pastor will have to take from his own family to serve the church, or the church will have to do without this needed service.

 

How Much Pastoral Service?

As to how much service any church shall have must depend upon circumstances. First on its own condition, and second, upon the disposition of the churches about it. If the church is weak in numbers and the members poor in this world's goods, then if it cannot get a pastor who can afford to devote his time to it, it can have but a limited service, unless the churches about it are strong, and willing to give a pastor such aid that he can devote more time to the weak church than it is able of itself to have.

 

The Strong to Help the Weak.

This is a subject, that should be taken under consideration by strong churches. They should not feel that they have discharged their obligations when they have simply provided for their own service if there are weak churches about them that need help. The apostolic practice was to gather up at one place to distribute in another. {1Co 16:1-3; 2Co 8:4; 9:1-5; 11:9} Ministers should impress this principle on the churches, for it is certainly taught in the New Testament that the strong should help the weak, and this should not be ignored.

 

No church should be satisfied while others are needing its help, and it is able to extend it, and this might be done very efficiently by enabling the pastor to give the weak church more time. But the strong churches should go still further and help the weak churches to build houses of worship, for it should be considered that all belong to one family and they should help each other accordingly.

 

Pastoral Service Intended.

It is the Lord's plan that churches should have pastoral service, and when they pursue such a course as to cut themselves off from this service it is not to be wondered at that the Lord shows His disapproval.

 

Now it is through the deaconship that this service is to be extended if it is properly recognized. If a church should say to its pastor, we want one-half your time, or all your time, if the church was conducted on a scriptural basis the pastor would have no right to refuse, as under scriptural conditions he is to give himself wholly to the work. But the means of the members would have to be put into the deacon's hands in sufficient amount that he might supply the pastor's needs.

 

The Church Defrauds Itself.

Now when a church keeps back that which should be given to extend pastoral work, it is not defrauding the minister, but it is cutting off its own spiritual service. The members are gaining in the wealth of this world at the expense of the service of the Lord. They are serving mammon rather than God. They are not defrauding the minister, if he has not actually given them his time, for if the churches do not want his time he can work with his hands and make his living and care for those dependent upon him. Too many members think of this matter as simply between themselves and the pastor, but it affects the pastor much less than it does the church. The pastor may not be able to do the work he sees needs to be done, and this may pain his heart, and he may make many sacrifices, endeavoring to do it, but he can provide for himself as others do, and he should not hesitate on his own account to do so.

 

No pastor who is worthy of the name can see the covetousness of the members standing as a barrier to the progress of the church without a pang at his heart, and without feeling a disposition to do all he can for the cause, even if it must be at his own charges.

 

A Church That Asked Too Much.

In my early ministry I attended a church several years, principally at my own expense. Finally when the needs of a growing family forced me to say that they would have to pay the expense of my attending them, they said that I was not an Old Baptist, and I severed my connection with them. I was young then, and had never given these things much thought, and had never delivered a discourse to this church on the duty of the church to the ministry. I did, however, before leaving, show them the scriptural principle and practice. They would not consider it rightly, however, and the result is that they have had but little preaching for many years, and now have no pastor. This is not because preachers in this section are "money-hunters," but because this church has asked its pastors to bear a heavier burden than the members were willing to take upon themselves. They asked one man to do more than they altogether would do. Many churches have suffered on the same principle as this one to some degree, and no doubt the extinction of some churches might be traced to this unwillingness of the members to aid with their means the ministry of the Word.

 

Deaconship to Help the Ministry.

Now the deacons and the whole church should understand that the deaconship is to be used in this direction. Before the office of deacon was instituted the church funds were in the hands of the apostles, and no doubt they lived out of this fund as they had need, for they gave themselves constantly to the work. But all this fund was turned over to the deacons, and it is but reason that the deacons supplied the ministry with what they needed.

 

As before indicated, the deacons need to understand the circumstances of the pastor and the ability of the church, and then try to provide for such service as will not too heavily burden either. Of course a pastor, on his part, may give as much service as he is able to give, or even more, without the church doing anything for him. But it is not right for the church to ask him to bear any more budren than the members bear, and of this the deacon should be a competent judge. And if a deacon is to succeed he must have an opinion and be faithful to express it.

 

Some one must have an idea about how much the church needs to help the pastor but it is not the business of the pastor to set a price on his time and labor.

 

He who can be hired to preach can be hired to quit. But because this is true is no reason that the pastor should bear more of the burden than other brethren.

 

Making Good the Time for Study.

The pastor must have time to study the Word and store his mind with information needed that he may instruct and be helpful to the flock over which he has charge. This is entirely different from writing sermons. In writing a sermon one might simply consult works upon the subject to be treated, and soon have the work over. But where one is to be so informed on what the scriptures teach on all subjects that he may speak extemporaneously on any given subject, there must be much more study, and the mind must be stored with knowledge to be drawn on at a moment's notice. It is presumptuous for a pastor to try to instruct and properly serve a church without study, and study takes time. This is one.of the things that the deacon must reckon as expense, and either the pastor or the church must meet it. The church certainty has the right to expect the pastor to study, and as it is for the benefit of the church, the church is properly chargeable with the time.

 

Church not to Wrong Pastor's Family.

Then the deacon must take under consideration the time and necessary expense of the pastor in serving the church. If he has a family, certainly the church cannot ask him to leave it and serve the church without restitution to the family. If the minister has no family, to ask for his time will not be to ask for much, though certainly an appreciation of his labors ought to be shown. {Php 4:17}

 

A church could not very consistently say to a minister, "We know that your wife needs your support, that your children need food and raiment, nevertheless, God having called you to preach, we call you to serve our church; when you are not giving us your time you can work to support your wife and children. Though it hardly seems possible that you can do a good part by them in that time, yet you can trust the Lord to take care of them."

 

This kind of treatment would hardly agree with the argument of the Apostle James - "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?"-Jas 2:15-16.

 

Brethren with a thought of what they were doing surely could not ask a minister to leave his family and give his time to them. They may argue that he is giving his time to the Lord. If it be so that God requires so much at the hands of his ministers, and has required nothing at the hands of the members to correspond with it, then the burden is a most unequal one, indeed.

 

But there is no scripture to support such an argument, it is all the other way. We can know the mind of the Lord by going to His Word and learning what He says.

 

Other Expenses of the Pastor.

Then, again, a man cannot do as well in his business, if he has one, and be gone several days out of each week. He will lose by his non-attendance to it, and the deacons should consider this. His clothing will cost him more, be he ever so humble and careful. It is a reflection on a church for a minister to be poorly clad when the condition of the church is such that it is not necessary. He should not wear costly apparel, but it should be such as is suitable to his station. It causes remarks which are hurtful to the cause for a minister to be dressed too expensively. But members should think too much of the cause to let their pastor go shabbily dressed.

 

These and many other reasons will be admitted by the thoughtful deacon as good ground for a liberal contribution, according to the circumstances of the members of the church.

 

All Should Bear Burden of Ministry.

Before leaving this part of the subject I wish to call the attention of members again to a fact already stated, when a church withholds from a minister it is defrauding itself. It is wrong to consider this matter simply as a duty from the members to the preacher as a man. The church must be considered as a whole, and the ministry is one important work in the body, without which the church cannot prosper. Cut it off and the church must fail. It is God's law that His Word must be preached. The burden of preaching He has laid upon the whole church, not just on His ministers. His ministers are to be humiliated and used as the vessels, but it is not theirs to carry all the weight of the service. Theirs is unspeakably the heaviest part to bear, since poor and stammering as they may be they must proclaim before all people the greatness of God and the sinfulness of man. All their lives they may not call their time their own; they must do the bidding of others and put fleshly desires behind them. They may not enter life as other men and compete for wealth and fame-they must preach; and there are a great number of things that a man cannot do and preach the gospel.

 

The Minister's Burden.

With every undertaking the minister must have this in mind: "I cannot call my time my own to dispose of as I will; I cannot have the enjoyment of my family as other men have, I must leave them to serve others; my children need my presence, but I must leave them without it; whether sick or well, weary or in buoyant spirits, with darkened mind or joyful heart, I can never get away from this continuous round of duties; week after week, month after month and year after year it will always be the same with me.

 

"I cannot change off this work for something else. When the churches are in trouble, when the members are indifferent, where my labors, are scarcely valued, when all the sacrifice must be mine, my sympathies open to the suffering and sorrowing so that my heartstrings are bleeding, still I must hold on my way as though all was bright and cheerful.''

 

"I must never think that men can requite me, for my service is to God; I must never let the acts of men discourage me, for God requires that I shall be found faithful; if the church and the world shall take my services without thanks, still I must not abate my zeal, I must labor as seeing Him who is invisible.''

 

"I cannot buy off from this work, not if I owned the whole world and would give it all; God requires the service of my heart and tongue and not my possessions or the labor of my hands. Woe is me if I preach not the gospel of the Son of God. and yet how unqualified as I am for so great an undertaking."

 

This is the burden on one side. This but poorly expresses what the minister must bear.

 

The Part of Other Members.

How is it on the other hand? What part will the members of the church have to bear in proclaiming the gospel of the Son of God? They have only to minister of their carnal things to him who has been appointed of God to minister unto them spiritual things.

 

How would you like to exchange, my brother, take upon you the work of the ministry, this life-long service, instead of joining in with numbers of others to take a small part of your possessions, (which are the gift of God to you), to uphold this poor minister while he goes where God has sent him?

 

Ah! how it would hurt you to have to leave off everything and go here and there as though you had no home! How it might grind into your nature to see opportunity after opportunity to get on in the world slip by you because you dare not renounce your calling. Would you give up your present life to be a minister? Would you suffer ridicule for the church's sake, and bear tribulation for the sake of Christ? Would you exchange?

 

Members Have the Lightest Part.

O, no; you would not like to exchange if you knew what it meant! You would beg to be excused. You would plead your stammering tongue, your unworthiness and inability to perform the duties of the office well. You would say, "Send this man."

 

Well, since you do not want the work for yourself, will you object if the Lord asks at your hands a mite to hold up "this man" while he does the work that you feel is too heavy for you? Certainly since you recognize that the work is important you will not ask that you shall bear no part of it at all!

 

If you do, the Lord will not excuse you, any more than he will the man whom he calls to preach. Preaching is a service of the church which the whole body must bear. And well it might. since it is so important. Think of having to go day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year without hearing the glorious gospel promises proclaimed by the Lord's own annointed! How discouraging! The church could not live! There could be no glad meetings where praises would go up from happy hearts to God, for when the shepherd does not call, the sheep scatter, and every one goes his own way.

 

Costs Something, but not Much.

Would you be willing to bear something to have all this changed? and to hear the good sound of the gospel regularly? To have the sheep fed and led by the living waters where there is coolness and verdue, where they may lie down at noontide under the shade of the trees and realize the loving presence of the Good Shepherd?

 

Well, it will not cost you much. You should not want all these privileges at the expense of some one else. David said, "Neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord of that which doth cost me nothing." If you are willing to enjoy the preaching of the gospel at your church, and let some one else bear all the expense, you are not of the disposition of David. But you ought to be of the disposition of the poor woman who cast the mite into the treasury, she cast in all she had. She did not do it to be seen of men, but because she loved the service of the Lord and felt that she was willing to help support it.

 

So are all the Lord's people who have a right mind about such matters. They do not want to have other people burdened and themselves eased. They feel that they owe all that they have to the goodness of the Lord and are glad to show in any manner they can their appreciation of His blessings. Most of our people dearly love to hear the gospel proclaimed, but many of them have never been taught their responsibility in helping to forward the good work with their means.

 

The Cause of Present Condition.

In fact, when the Missionaries split off from the church with the Arminian idea that money might help salvation to reach people by carrying to them the gospel, our people wanted to get as far from such an idea as possible, and backed away from the scriptural practice of helping the ministry. Many of our ministers have felt a timidity in advocating a return to the right, for fear they would be suspected of wanting to follow the Missionaries.

 

And their fears are not groundless, for there are many brethren who are blessed with plenty, but who are so covetous they cry down every attempt toward liberality in this direction, professedly for love of the truth, but really for love of money.

 

But, on the other hand, there are many good brethren who know it is not wrong to do right, and who have liberal hearts and are not only willing to give what they can, but do so; but they are discouraged by irregularities and unscriptural methods. This is the situation as many God-fearing ministers see it. But many are perplexed and ask, "What can we do?" with doubting hearts as to whether anything can be done.

 

What Can Be Done?

Why, let the ministry and members rise as one man and restore the walls that have been broken down, and establish again the service of the Lord according to his statutes. We have been many years going away, and we should not be discouraged if we fail to return in one day, but we should decide to at least be going in the right direction.

 

Certain it is, the deacons in the churches should return to their duties as in apostolic times and all our people should be instructed as to their duty in maintaining the office of the deaconship. As before remarked, it cannot be done by spasmodic efforts, it must be done by patient, determined labor.

 

Other Work for the Deacons.

According to the qualifications given for the deacons, their duties extend further than simply to administering the financial affairs of the church. They are considered as helpers to the ministry. Paul, when writing to Timothy, states the qualifications of elders and deacons in the same connection as though the two offices were of great importance to the church.

 

One address is to the "bishops and deacons," {Php 1:1} as though both were responsible for the oversight of the church regarding the things treated.

 

To Lead Good Work.

In fact, in practice, a good, scriptural deacon fills a place in the church that the pastor can hardly make up in his absence. The pastor's duty is principally the preaching of the gospel and directing the affairs of the church. The deacon's work is necessary to stir up the members to an observance of the preached word, and to actively lead in carrying out the pastor's suggestions.

 

The pastor's instructions often fall with no result because there is no one to lead in doing the things taught. This work, it seems, falls to the deacons.

 

A church that has no one to lead in this manner is not a live church, so far as my observation has taught me. Often the deacons chosen by the church are not active in this direction at all, and some other member of the church takes the lead in everything. This brother is then doing the work of the deacon and his qualifications for the office should be recognized in the church by his appointment to it.

 

Other duties of the deacons will be taken up in the discussion of the next question.

 

IV Wliat Are the Qualifications of Deacons?

 

The fact that the qualifications of deacons are given, indicates that not every one can do the work that belongs to the office, so churches should be very careful in the selection of men for this place. A brother may have many excellent traits, but if he does not have the particular characteristics mentioned, he will not fill the office to the advancement of the church. He must be of the right disposition to do that which falls to his office.

 

He Must be Grave.

One who would accomplish anything in the deaconship should maintain the dignity of his office and not be given to frivolity. As he must be a man of experience, his demeanor should indicate that life's lessons have not been lost upon him. So also should he feel his responsibility, and this, if properly appreciated, will keep him from being light and chaffy.

 

He who is to minister in the house of God should behave himself with proper decorum or he cannot have the respect of the membership, and will bring the office to nothing, for the members will not give ear to what he has to advise, nor put their affairs into his hands. If he appears giddy and thoughtless they will feel that he will not give things of importance sufficient thought and due consideration, and he will need to have the confidence of all the brethren in this direction.

 

His manners should be such that those in need and distress will feel he is their friend, and can be trusted in all their troubles, or he cannot get close enough to render the help he ought to give. The weak will need to lean on him for sympathy and help, and if he is not "grave" he will not invite confidence in that direction.

 

He is to be the helper of the pastor and will need such a character that he can effectually reprove and correct the erring, and none but a "grave" person could do this well.

 

Caring for the Sick.

He will need to be helpful to the sick, for it is in the distress of the sick room that he will find a field of labor. None appreciate the help of the church more than those who, added to their want, have the weight of sickness. And if sick persons are not in want a visit from the deacons will make the sufferers feel that the church is not neglecting them, for the deacon in his ministrations represents the church.

 

It should be a grave accusation against a deacon for a sick brother or sister to say, "The deacons have never been around to see about me." He should not only go himself, but stir up the members of the church to care for the sick. The fraternal orders of the day profess to do more for the sick and suffering than the churches, and when it is true in the case of any church it is said to the shame of that church.

 

The church should be like a family in this respect, that the welfare of every member should be carefully looked after. If a member of a household falls sick, all the other members drop whatever else they may have in hand that the sufferer may have proper care and every comfort that loving hands can minister, and day after day, and night after night give themselves to assiduous watching until health is restored or death comes.

 

So it should be in the church. It should be the business of some one to know what is needed and lead in a work which is liable to be neglected, and that one is the deacon. It should occur to him as soon as he learns of the illness of a member, "I am a deacon, and here is the work to which I was solemnly ordained, and God will not hold me guiltless if I neglect it."

 

Then he should put by anything that would hinder him and go at once, as the hand of the church, to minister to the sick. If need be, supplies should be furnished out of the funds in his hands. But if only watchers are needed, he should notify members of the church that their help is needed, and they should respond at once.

 

If they belonged to a fraternal society of the world they would have to go or send some one in their places; but should not the love of brethren in the church, and gratitude to God for His mercy and goodness, move one more quickly than any oath to man?

 

The deacon need not go to the members of the church and simply tell them of the sickness of a brother, but as an officer of the church, using his best judgment as to whom he should call upon, should notify them that their help is needed, and those so notified should not feel at liberty to refuse, but should cheerfully render all the assistance possible.

 

And where assistance is not needed, sympathy and brotherly love ought to be manifested, and the deacon should keep brethren in remembrance of their duty, for the world, the flesh and the devil are all the time working to get brethren to neglect each other and so drift apart for lack of expression of the feeling that should fill the hearts of God's people.

 

Remember the Widows and Orphans.

As a kindred duty the deacons will remember the widows and orphans. How heartless for the church to neglect those who are thrown on the mercy of others. The church, when working according to the principle shown in the New Testament, is better than any man-made institution for caring for the sick and the widows in their affliction, and I trust the day may soon come when the churches will not be remiss in this important matter.

 

But it will not come until we get scriptural deacons in the churches-deacons who know their duty and who are zealous enough to do it, sacrificing personal interest for the cause of Christ.

 

The Old and Infirm.

Then there are those who are old and infirm, and who cannot attend the meetings of the church, and these should not be neglected. A "grave" deacon may give them much encouragement and comfort, not only by visiting them himself, but by seeing that the members of the church do not neglect them. It is sad, indeed, for aged persons who may have been faithful attendants as long as able, to be neglected when age or infirmities confine them to their homes. I heard a sister say, "My old mother often sheds tears because the church members do not visit her." Brother deacon, and members of the church, let me appeal to you not to neglect the aged soldiers of the cross who can no longer mingle in your assemblies.

 

The Number of Deacons Needed.

The work to be done will decide the number of deacons which a church is to have. Oue deacon might be sufficient to hold the funds of a large church, but he might not be conveniently located to look after the needs of all the members. A church in choosing its deacons should have an eye to properly distributing them among the membership to serve all efficiently. Usually as many as two are chosen, and as many more may be ordained as the needs of the church may determine.

 

Influencing the Lives of Members.

Deacons who are successful in influencing the lives of the members for good must be ``grave." A church could hardly have such efficient pastoral service that the deacons would not need to watch over the lives of the members to check imprudent things before mischief results. Does a brother go wrong in such a manner that it can hardly be called a personal offense, while it is the duty of any one who knows of it to try to recover the erring brother, it is imperative that the deacon shall act as soon as it comes to his knowledge. It will not seem to the offender that the deacon is doing it for personal spite, for as an officer of the cnurch it is his duty to take the matter up. Often disorderly actions of members become known to nearly all the church and it does not seem to be the duty of one more than another to try to get them right, and when it is not understood to be the duty of the deacon, no one takes it up. But if it were understood to be his duty, not only would he have a sense of obligation in that direction, but the members would be pressing him forward, which would strengthen him to act. It would make him feel that he, himself, was responsible for a disorderly condition of affairs and so increase the likelihood of getting rid of evils. It would have a good effect on members if they felt, "If I go wrong the deacons wrill be around to see me."

 

Encouraging the ``Babes'' in Christ.

There will be need that some one take the lead in encouraging those about the church who have a hope in Christ. Perhaps the pastor might do this more effectively than others, but he cannot reach all cases and be present at every opportunity for doing good in this direction. As taking a part of the labors of the pastor, the deacons should be alert to mark all who have the work of grace in their hearts, and give them all the encouragement in their power. He who has the qualifications for all the work of a deacon should be able to do much work of this character.

 

Not Double-Tongued.

It would be a disgrace to the church and a hindrance to the cause for a deacon to be otherwise than perfectly reliable in his statements. It is a great shame for any member of the church to talk in such manner that any one will doubt his word. But it effectually disqualifies a member for the deaconship, for the duties of this office require such intimate relations with the members as cannot exist if the deacons are "double-tongued." He will lose his power over the members until he cannot influence them to action in any direction for good. A man who does not adhere strictly to the truth will be shunned by good men.

 

The duties of the deacon make it absolutely necessary that all the brethren shall have confidence in his sincerity and the truthfulness of his statements. Members of the church will need to act on his judgment and statements in many cases. When he reports a case of need, if the members have to make an investigation themselves before feeling willing to act, his work is lost, and the duties of the office should be turned over to some one else.

 

The brethren will not feel like putting funds into the hands of a "double-tongued" man, for they will not feel sure that his reports are correct. He cannot be successful in making peace among brethren, but will be more likely to cause trouble. His record for veracity should be such that his statement will be an end of controversy. This will lead to referring matters to him for adjustment and will enable him to bring about reconciliation between brethren, for a deacon should be a peacemaker and be constantly on the watch to keep down differences between brethren.

 

Not Given To Much Wine.

What is true in regard to elders as being given to wine is true as applied to deacons. (See page 51). The deacon will have better opportunities for knowing whether members of the church are indulging too much in strong drink than the pastor, and should use his influence to prevent such habits. But if he, himself, be given to the habit, he will be powerless to do anything. No brother who indulges in strong drink should be retained in the deacon's office. A church can command no respect in a community if it be known that its deacons are "given to much wine."

 

Must Not be Covetous.

To put a miserly or covetous man into the deaconship is worse than to have no deacon at all. A covetous person, if not put into prominence, might have but little influence on the lives of others; but if he be put into the deacon's office his influence at once begins to affect others and the purpose of the office will be defeated. If he is inclined to get others to do their duty his actions will betray his own greedy nature and render his efforts fruitless. In fact, the more he tries to get others to bestow their means the more will his motives be suspected and criticised. But he will not endeavor to get others to be liberal, for it would require him to be so, too.

 

To be "greedy of filthy lucre"is to destroy spiritual mindedness and no person who lacks this can be a deacon indeed and in truth.

 

The care of the church must be upon his mind more than the accumulation of wealth. A deacon who will stay away from his meetings, and neglect the work of his office to make money, should be reproved; and if he will not change his course should be put out of the office. He should be an example of liberality and faithfulness, which no one can be who is grasping for the things of this world.

 

Holding the Faith in a Pure Conscience.

Deacons are to hold "the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience." {1Ti 3:9} They are not to be half-hearted in their indorsement of the truth, but are to have an experimental knowledge of it, for in no other way can it be held in a "pure conscience." If they have but a superficial knowledge of it, they cannot console the poor and needy with their conversation and presence, nor will they be able to encourage those who have a hope in Christ who ought to come into the church. The fact that they are not in hearty accord with the principles upon which the church is founded will render the work distasteful to them and unsatisfactory to the church. He must not be in doubt about the doctrines of the church nor the duties of the office, and should follow the promptings of a "pure conscience."

 

He may be conscious of his own weakness, and feel that he cannot fill the office as he would like to do, yet he should not draw back nor be remiss in known duties. He should have a consuming desire to perform the duties of the office without fault.

 

Should be Proved.

As an elder should not be a "novice," so should those put into the office of deacon be "proved." Old deacons should be training up young members to their places, for it is a work that requires experience. If a brother has never been active in such service, how can the church choose him to be a deacon, not knowing whether he will develop these qualifications or not? Too often it is but an experiment in putting a brother into the office. If he has not the qualifications in some degree it may be that they cannot be developed, and, if not, the brother can never be acceptable as a deacon. His business ability, his temperament, his spirituality, his devotion to the cause, and his fitness in general for the office should be "proved" before he is solemnly put in charge of it.

 

Here is where so many mistakes occur. If a church needs a deacon, and has not seen the qualifications in any brother, it would be better to lay the duties on some member for a time to see if he has the necessaiy traits. If need be, try several brethren until one is found who can "use" the office, for to choose one who has no ability in this direction is a grave mistake which may hinder the cause much.

 

It is not enough to say that he is a good brother, for many "good"brethren are worth nothing at all as deacons. When a church has made the mistake of choosing a good brother and not a capable one for deacon, the only consistent course is to acknowledge it by putting another brother into the office who is not only good, but who can and will perform the duties of the office. It is wrong for a church, when it has made such a mistake, to drag along until the brother dies to get the opportunity of choosing another deacon. Cases have been known where the church died first. The good of the cause is at stake and it should not be ruined rather than for the church to acknowledge her wrong.

 

It may not be the fault of the brother put into the office, since he did not elect himself, and perhaps protested against being put into the place. So it should not be considered as disgracing him to give the office to another.

 

But the church owes it to her interests, and the cause in general, and is in duty bound by the great head of the church, to rectify every wrong in her power, and this is one wrong that can be righted.

 

Deacons' Wives.

Owing to the nature of the deacon's work, his wife, if he has one, can be of much service to him if she is of the right disposition; but if she is not, she can very seriously interfere with his work. This is of so much importance that the qualifications of a deacon's wife are laid down.

 

Some churches insist that the deacon shall be married when chosen to the office, and that his wife shall be a member of the church and of the character prescribed, but he is not disqualified by her death. But if he marries again, to retain his office, his wife must be a suitable one for him. Other churches make no difference as to whether he has a wife or not.

 

It seems plain to my mind that whether it is imperative that he shall be married or not, it is advisable. If, as in giving the qualifications of elders, the requirement that he shall be the "husband of one wife"is simply declaring against polygamy, then he might be unmarried. But as the qualifications of the wife are given, {1Ti 3:11} it would seem that there is work for her, also, in connection with that of her husband.

 

Some claim that the passage, giving the qualifications of deacons' wives, was meant simply for "women" who held positions corresponding to that of the deacons. But there is no record of the establishment of such an office by the apostles, as the "seven" chosen were men.

 

It is certainly advisable when possible, to find a man of proper qualifications who has a wife who is of the right character to help him. I would not be in favor of ordaining a deacon to the work who was married, and whose wife had not the qualifications to aid him.

 

Qualifications of a Deacon's Wife.

It is clear, upon reflection, that if a deacon's wife is to be a help to him in the ministrations of his office, she should be ``grave,'' not a foolish woman of the world who loves amusement and society better than the service of the Lord. If she is worldly-minded she will take no interest in assisting her husband in his labor of love for others. She will not want to visit the sick of her own sex, and do for them what belongs to the deacon's work, but which can hardly be done as well by the deacons.

 

To be a common gossip or "slanderer," would prevent all possibility of doing good..It is a bad mark in any sister of the church to indulge in this kind of talk, and often results in serious trouble in the church. But in a deacon's wife it interferes with his work and stands in her way of doing that which is her duty to do. She is to be "faithful in all things." That is, she is to do what godly women should be found doing. She will imitate the deeds of Dorcas {Ac 9:39} who busied herself in doing good to others. Her adorning will not be in dress and outward show, but will be the manifestation of the "hidden man of the heart." {1Pe 3:3-4} She will receive the saints into her house, as did Mary and Martha, so it may be said of her that she does what she can. She can help to care for the widows {Ac 9:39} and orphans, and while her husband is providing for the minister she can ascertain what his wife and children have need of and how they live.

 

As the deacons are to be examples to the brethren of the church in godly living, so is she to be to the sisters.

 

More attention should be given to these requirements of deacons' wives, and they should be encouraged to take a more active part in church work. They might go into many homes with good cheer and helpfulness. And this is not alone for the sake of the work that they, themselves, would do, but the sisters of the churches should have efficient leaders in the work which they must do or which will probably remain undone. To their faithfulness and sacrifice the church now owes a great part of its activity, and it would be greatly heightened if they were properly encouraged and led on. They should be true ''daughters of Sarah" {1Pe 3:6} and with their abundance of love and sympathy render all the service possible to the Master's cause.

 

Ruling His Own House Well.

The same reasons exist for the "deacons ruling their children and their own houses well" as in the case of the elders. (See page 53.) The home life of brethren affects their efficiency as members of the church of Christ. and especially is this true of the officers of the church. Immoral and vicious actions of the members of the deacon's family, if traceable to his training or neglect, injure, not only him in his work, but the whole church, so they cannot be too careful in this direction, as the good of the cause is at stake.

 

Results of Using the Office Well.

"For they that have used the office of the deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus." How much in the church depends upon using this office well! The care of its sick, the relief of its poor, the help of the ministry, and the active work of the church in every direction, are connected with this office. Take away its efficiency and all efforts in these directions are crippled and weakened, if not entirely cut off, and the church becomes a motionless body, simply drinking in comfort from the declaration of God's grace to sinners, but manifesting no gratitude for such a wonderful gift, nor endeavoring to show love for the blessed Savior who said, "If ye love me keep my commandments." Without the work of the deaconship (the deacon's work is often done by brethren who are not known as deacons) no pity is shown to the suffering, nor help extended to the needy; the pastor is not helped in his work, and has no efficient aid in keeping up the practical work of the church.

 

But with it, how changed! The members realize that there are duties to fulfill, and wake up to active service, knowing that we serve God when we serve His people. The service of God is no longer in word only, but in deed as well. A strong hand takes hold of the active labor of the church and the ministry is permitted to declare with all its freedom the glorious doctrine of grace, knowing that the church will do its duty. This takes a burden off the ministry, and pastors of churches are content to give their work the time needed, having assurance that their wants will be supplied.

 

The members of a church which has an active deacon, feeling that they have a leader who can be trusted, work together in harmony, with little division as to the way things are to be done. But without such a leader among them they are liable each one to go after his own opinion, and there being little concert of action, but little or nothing is accomplished in practical lines.

 

In a church where the deacons do not use the office well, when the members meet, and the deacons are absent, there is no inquiry about them more than there would be for other absent members, for not having been active in church matters, the members have not been accustomed to thinking of them as having any special duties, nor to depend upon them for guidance.

 

But I can call to mind a few men who were deacons, indeed, and their presence gave assurance that everything would be conducted in order. When the time came for service they said, "Come in, brethren, let us sing." If the pastor was present he was assisted in the opening services and encouraged in his work. If no minister was present the church was called to order just as promptly, and services held in which all the brethren, who could be induced to do so, joined. If any of the members were absent, inquiry was made to ascertain whether anyone present knew the reason of their absence, and the following week, or as soon as possible, those who were not present received a visit from the deacon if he could not otherwise learn the cause of their absence. Brethren who were remiss in their duty were kindly and yet firmly rebuked and exhorted to greater faithfulness.

 

These brethren were held in high esteem, not feared, but loved, and purchased to themselves a "good degree" in the affections of their brethren. When the Lord called them home, and the churches no longer had the stimulus of their presence, brethren could be heard to remark, "It was not this way in Brother A.'s lifetime." In one of these churches the old deacon, when age had made it impossible for him to do all the work he was accustomed to doing, took one of the younger brethren and put his work on him, instructing him how to act and what to do. When the old deacon died the church had a man who could take up the work of the deaconship acceptably, and he was put into the office, having first been "proved."

 

To use the office of the deaconship well can but raise a brother in the estimation of all. It brings him a "good degree." His watchfulness and activity in the cause, he having nothing but the glory of God and the peace of His church in view, endears him to pastor and church alike.

 

By using his office well a deacon will grow to great "boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus." He will have to meet opposition of every kind, from outside the church and from within. One who can meet all the opposition that a deacon must meet without getting discouraged and relaxing his efforts will have great boldness in the faith as the result of his experience.

 

It is hard for a deacon to represent the church in its practical work in the face of the criticism of the world. The world will want him to join some benevolent society, and have all the members do the same, and let the society take care of the poor. The world will frown on him when he takes some erring brother by the arm, and calling him brother, leads him back to the path of rectitude. The world will try to make him feel that it is too much condescension for him to try to lift the poor and needy by his labors, and to reform the erring with prayers and tears. Then it would take some of his time, too, and will require a self-sacrificing life all the way through.

 

Inside the church will be found those who are opposed to Bible practice and they will stand in the way of his carrying out the work of the office. They will want to bestow gifts in person or give nothing at all.

 

Covetous persons will argue against expense and oppose assisting the poor and helping the ministry. The members will be slack in their duty in various directions, and sometimes inclined to make trouble instead of laboring for peace.

 

All these things will try his patience and his faith in God, but if he perseveres, leaning on the Almighty, he will grow into a humble boldness that will bear all things and endure without flinching the severest opposition.

 

I implore the deacons of the churches to think of these things. Do you love the Zion of our God? Do you love the peace and prosperity of our churches? Do you not feel that your life should be consecrated to the service of God?

 

If these things appeal to you, take God's word and, studying it carefully, resolve that by the Spirit's help you will follow what it teaches. I do not expect that doing your duty will be to you like "flowery beds of ease," but a conscience blessed with the approval of God will more than recompense you for the sacrifices you must make.

 

If you have not been in the habit of doing your duty, when you think of what you know you ought to do, it may be that you will be conscious of much indecision in regard to your future course. You know what ought to be done, but you do not feel equal to the task of bringing it about. And perhaps you cannot, by yourself, for if the duties of your office are attended to, there must be a right understanding by the pastor and the members.

 

But you can pray to God for strength and faith, and, "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord," you can "persuade men." {2Co 5:11}

 

Talk to the pastor first and encourage him to preach and talk on practical things, and especially to call attention to the work of the deacons.

 

Then talk to the members, being careful to refer to what God's word says. Do not think when you have done this once that you have done your full duty -spend your life in this direction. If you do not see the fruits yourself, others will, and the cause will have been served.

 

Let us all labor together for the upbuilding of the precious cause among God's humble poor, for it is better to be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. {Ps 84:10}

 

By the help of God, and following His commandments, the condition of our churches can be bettered. There may be a cry that these are new things, but it will not be the truth, they are the old things taught in the times of the apostles. Departures from them are the new things. "Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and wralk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls."-Jer 6:16.

07 ORDINATIONS

The Presbytery.

Churches which have brethren to set apart by ordination may call upon other churches to send their ordained ministers to form a presbytery for that purpose; or they may call upon elders who may be convenient without notifying the churches of their membership. One elder might ordain. The church might also invite the members of other churches, especially the deacons, to sit with her in council to advise with her as to the prudence of the proposed ordination.

 

When the elders are assembled with the church the presbytery may organize by choosing a moderator, and either appointing a clerk or having the clerk of the church act as such.

 

Qualifications of Candidate Considered.

The candidate should then be delivered into the hands of the presbytery which should satisfy itself that the church has acted with all due prudence, for churches have sometimes made mistakes. While the decision of the church must be final, yet the presbytery might advise with the church, and certainly no member of the presbytery ought to act against his judgment, especially if the ordination be that of an elder, for then the interests of other churches and the cause in general are affected. Pastors of churches are sometimes very negligent of their duty and do not properly instruct the members in regard to such matters. Though this lack cannot be made up by the presbytery, yet, as brethren, if not in their official characters, they should endeavor to check anything that in their judgment would be hurtful to the cause. A personal knowledge of the facts in the case by the presbytery would be the best safeguard, and to that end it is best to have presbyteries formed as nearly as possible by brethren who are well acquainted with both the church and the candidate, for then they can act with full knowledge and everything is more likely to be satisfactory.

 

If the candidate be for ordination to the office of the deaconship, the presbytery should inquire as to the practice of the church with regard to that office. If it is the practice of the church simply to keep up the office in form, without keeping a church fund, or leaving the management of its financial affairs to the deacons, then the presbytery might very property refuse to ordain the candidate because of the church being unscriptural in its practice.

 

As to the qualifications of the candidate, if the church believes in scriptural practice, it is likely to judge correctly as to the qualifications of the person chosen. Yet it would be perfectly proper for the presbytery to satisfy the minds of its members, as every precaution should be taken to guard against mistakes. The cause is too precious to be careless in regard to such matters.

 

If the candidate be proposed for ordination as an elder, the presbytery should be careful, indeed. To ordain a brother who has no gift to edify, may prove a great detriment to the church, and can be of no benefit to him.

 

Examination of Candidate.

The presbytery, if not personally acquainted with the character and gift of the candidate, may ask the church to appoint one of her members to speak for her, and he may be interrogated as to the character and gift of the candidate, who may be asked to step aside during this time. It should be shown by the church that the character of the brother is such as will not interfere with his work in the ministry, taking the scriptural requirements as the standard. Also the church ought to be satisfied that the brother has a gift that will enable him to edify the same. This matter should be determined before ordination. A brother should not be ordained when a church is undecided. He should have exercised his gift long enough so there will be no question.

 

Then if the brother's labors are not needed as pastor, there may be no use to ordain him, as he can preach without being ordained. But if his services are required to administer the ordinances, or some other church desires him to act as its pastor, then there would seem to be a call for his ordination. Some churches have ordained brethren whose services were not acceptable to themselves. This is evidently wrong, and if a presbytery has reason to believe this is the case, it should refuse to ordain. If the presbytery is fully satisfied with the report of the church, as to the character and gift of the brother, then he should be called before the presbytery to answer for himself as to his hope in Christ and his doctrinal and practical views.

 

One of the members of the presbytery may be appointed to conduct the examination, of course any of the members having the privilege of asking or suggesting questions. This examination will serve a good purpose in bringing our doctrines and practices before the members of the church and the congregation.

 

Form of Ordination.

After this examination, if it seems to be necessary, the presbytery may step aside to decide its action, and if favorable to proceeding, to appoint one of its members to offer the prayer, and another to deliver the charge.

 

The arrangements being completed, the candidate is caused to kneel, the members of the presbytery kneeling around him, and placing their hands upon him, while the brother appointed to do so, offers an appropriate prayer. After the prayer the members of the presbytery may extend to the brother their hands, expressing their fellowship in his new field of work, and encouraging him to a faithful performance of the duties of his office. Generally all the members of the church, and the brethren present, extend their hands to the brother who has been ordained.

 

The Charge.

The usual form is to deliver the charge after the ordination. It may be dispensed with, though it seems to me to be proper and right. The presbytery should choose one of her members who is best calculated to set forth the duties of the office to which the brother has been ordained. His discourse should be very plain, and he should faithfully set forth the purpose of the office and the duties of the one who fills it. He should also set forth clearly the duty of the members of the church to the office and what should be their treatment of him who fills it, showing them all that if the church is to reach the purpose of Him who organized it, all must do their duty and be faithful in the house of God.

 

I have sometimes known "charges" that had very few practical suggestions in them. If the duties of the person ordained, and the duty of the church to him, is not to be discussed, the discourse should not be called a charge. But if the purpose of the office is faithfully set forth it will serve to impress all concerned that the Lord has set forth special services for the good of Christ's cause, and that in the ordination they enter into covenant to work together to keep all things in order.

 

Deacons Not Presbyters.

It has been the practice of our churches in many parts of the United States to admit deacons to presbyteries, in some places for the ordination of elders and deacons, in others for the ordination of deacons only, while in some sections deacons are not ordained at all. If it is accepted as proven that the seven first ordained were deacons, then deacons should be ordained if scriptural practices are to be followed. There is nothing to indicate that deacons should sit in presbyteries.

 

Annulling an Ordination.

The question has been raised as to whether a church can annul an ordination, seeing that the ordination is by a presbytery. This question would imply that the presbytery might be superior in authority to the church. This idea is not to be entertained, however, for then ministers would not be amenable, in their official character, to the church, but to a presbytery, which has no existence except for the time of the ordination, and acts then only by authority of the church.

 

The church undoubtedly has the authority to depose a minister, and to exclude him from her fellowship if necessary. One who would retain membership in a church might not be a fit character for the office of elder, and the church should guard the office zealously.

 

It may be that a brother is ordained who has no gift for the edification of the church. Then it will be the duty of the church to acknowledge the error of setting him forward for ordination, for it was its fault. A brother may want ordination, but he cannot get it without an order of the church. If the church errs in making the order, it is of no advantage to the brother to continue in error, and it works to the injury of the cause.

 

Licensing Ministers.

The practice of giving "license" or recommendation before ordination has no doubt been much abused. Brethren who could be of much service to the church to speak occasionally are "licensed," to be henceforth looked upon as preachers, and treated as preachers, and must be invited to speak when perhaps their gift does not make it prudent to do so.

 

The fact is, all the members should be considered as having license or liberty to speak when they have anything to say, and when it is a proper time to speak. A preacher who is not needed as an ordained minister might have letters of "recommendation" when going where he is not known, but where he is known he should not need anything, of the kind, as his gift will "recommend" itself.

 

It is customary to furnish a certificate of ordination to elders. The following form is recommended:

 

Certificate of Ordination.

 

To all whom it way concern: Be it known that at the request of ........... church of Primitive Baptists (Postoffice, couniy and state) the following named elders met as a presbytery for the purpose of ordaining ...................... to the full work of the gospel ministry.

 

(Give names of elders with the names of the churches to which they belong.)

 

The church, the presbytery and the candidate hold the doctrine of "special atonement by Jesus Christ for the elect of God, who are predestinated unto the adoption of children, and kept by the power of God unto glory."

 

After examination, Brother .......... was solemnly set apart by the laying on of hands and prayer, to the work whereunto God has called him; and we hereby witness his full authority to teach, to baptize, to administer the Lord's supper, and to serve the church of Christ in any other way the gospel directs.

 

Done this ...... day of ........... 1... .................. Moderator. .................... Clerk.

08 PARLIAMENTARY RULES

It is not the intention to give here more than the briefest suggestions as to parliamentary usages. No effort is made to cover all points that may come up, merely those rules which are liable to be needed in any church meeting being mentioned. Some churches adopt rules to cover most cases that will arise, and when this is the case, the rules so adopted supercede all others. But in the absence of any special rule then the rules commonly accepted by organized bodies may be resorted to, and hence these suggestions.

 

All brethren should inform themselves as to the common form of making motions, amending them, etc., so that no confusion will arise in our meetings. All the brethren should know how to preside over a meeting and preserve order, and I hope these few suggestions will be of some benefit. But I would advise all our ministers to read some standard "manual."

 

Presiding Officer.

The presiding officer of our meetings is called "moderator," and should be addressed as "Brother Moderator." The pastor of a church is usually by special rule made moderator of its meetings when present, but a church may choose one of its members to preside at all meetings. The "Rules of Decorum"of the church should state how the moderator's chair is to be filled. It is a good practice for the church to give all her male members some experience in the moderator's chair, then when an emergency calls them to preside they will not be at a loss how to proceed.

 

Calling the Meeting to Order.

When the hour for business arrives the moderator may say, "Brethren will now come to order," or if it be at the close of divine services he will announce, "We will now proceed with the business of the meeting."

 

At the call to order, brethren should all take their seats and all conversation should cease at once. "Let all things be done decently and in order."-1Co 14:40. It is very unbecoming, indeed, in brethren to make confusion during a meeting. When order prevails, if there is a set order of business, as most of our churches have, the moderator will at once announce the first order of business. When that has been disposed of he will announce the next, etc. But where there is no regular order of business, the moderator may say, "What is the will of the brethren?" when it will be in order for some brother to introduce a subject for consideration, by motion or otherwise. If the meeting has been called for a certain purpose, the moderator should announce the purpose of the meeting.

 

Addressing the Meeting.

Brethren who wish to speak, or bring any matter before the meeting, should arise from their seats and say, ``Brother Moderator,'' and then wait before proceeding until the moderator "recognizes" them, which he should do by calling them by name, or if he does not know the name, he may say, "Speak on, brother." This point should be strictly enforced as there are times when it will prevent confusion. The brother who rises first is entitled to recognition if he has not spoken beyond the limit of the rules. When two rise at the same time, if one of them does not sit down, the moderator must decide which one of them may speak. When brethren do not keep to the subject before the meeting, or speak in a wrong tone or spirit, the moderator should at once call them to order.

 

Making Motions.

In making a motion, a brother should arise and address the moderator, and when recognized, should say, "Brother Moderator, I move that," etc. If the motion is in order the moderator will call for a second, and after a second has been made, the question is then before the meeting and may be debated. The moderator should state the question in the language of the mover, or suggest modifications to the mover before it is stated. A motion which involves serious matters should be presented in writing and fully understood before a vote is taken. When a motion is once before the meeting it cannot be withdrawn if there is any objection. A principal motion must give way to everything except another principal motion.

 

Amendments to Motions.

Principal motions may be amended. Motion and second must be made for that purpose, and the amendment must be acted upon before a vote is taken on the principal motion. An amendment cannot be laid on the table or postponed without carrying the principal motion with it. Amendments may be amended, but amendments to amendment cannot be amended. Amendments, to be in order, must have a bearing on the subject, and may negative the principal motion or entirely change its meaning. After the amendment is disposed of, then the principal motion will be considered.

 

To Lay on the Table.

A motion may be "laid on the table," which removes the subject until taken from the table. A motion to lay on the table is not debatable, nor is one to take from the table. A motion to take from the table is in order after intervening business.

 

Business Referred.

A motion to "refer" or "postpone" to a given time is debatable and may be amended only to change the time. At expiration of the time the subject comes up under the head of "reference" in most of our churches,or as "unfinished business," and is taken up without a motion and must be disposed of. A matter referred to a given time may be taken up before the time by a two-thirds vote.

 

It is customary in some of our churches to "refer" subjects without date, that is, indefinitely, and such references are taken up by motion and second. This is not according to parliamentary usage, but if made a custom it amounts to a rule. A motion to lay on the table would be proper.

 

Motion to Reconsider.

Motions which have been passed upon may be reconsidered. The motion to reconsider must be made by some one who voted on the prevailing side, and should be made at the same or the next succeeding meeting. Motion to reconsider is debatable if motion to be considered was debatable, otherwise, not. If motion to reconsider carries, the subject comes up before the meeting as though no vote had been taken upon it. A secret ballot cannot be reconsidered, but may be thrown out if shown to be irregular. An affirmative vote to lay on table or take from, to adjourn or to suspend the rules, cannot be reconsidered. A majority vote is sufficient to reconsider.

 

Call for Previous Question.

To call for the previous question, if seconded and adopted, stops debate on the motion pending and brings it to a vote at once. It requires a two-thirds vote, can be applied to all debatable questions and is not debatable. A call for the previous question may be laid on the table, but cannot be postponed, amended or reconsidered. If adopted it precludes all further amendments. When a motion is made the mover may move the previous question at the same time and so preclude debate.

 

To Suspend a Rule.

To suspend a rule requires a two-thirds vote, and the motion is not debatable. Neither can it be laid on the table, referred, reconsidered or amended. The rules of some churches cannot be suspended, as the only provisions for changing them are contained in the rules themselves.

 

Committees.

Committees, unless otherwise ordered, are appointed by the moderator. The first person named is chairman of the committee, and the committee has no power, except to follow instructions. Report should be made to the meeting in writing, which is received by general consent without motion. After it is read, a motion to adopt, reject, or lay on the table is in order. If there is a majority and a minority report from the committee, both must be read. Then the majority report is taken up first, and there may be a motion to amend by substituting the minority report. There is no need to make a motion to discharge a committee after it has reported in full. If the matter is to be taken out of the hands of the committee then it may be discharged.

 

Appealing From Moderator's Ruling.

If members are not pleased with the ruling of the moderator they may appeal to the meeting, and this appeal is not debatable unless the moderator invites discussion. He may give his reasons for his decision. The matter comes up in the following form: The member who objects to the ruling of the moderator says, "I appeal from the decision of the moderator." If the appeal is seconded, the moderator immediately states the question as follows: "Shall the decision of the moderator stand as the judgment of the meeting?" If there is a tie vote the decision of the moderator is sustained. When appeal is debated no member can speak but once.

 

If any member notices a breach of a rule it is his duty to insist on its enforcement. He should rise from his seat and say, "Brother Moderator, I rise to a point of order." If any member is speaking he should at once take his seat, and the moderator should ask the brother to state his point of order, and pass on it at once. If there is no appeal the brother who was speaking will resume his speech.

 

Common Errors.

Do not say, "I motion" or "I move you." Say, "Brother Moderator, I move that,'' etc. Do not say, "support" when you mean "second." Do not say "adjourn" when you mean to close the meeting. Do not say "accept" or "receive,"if you mean "adopt" or "concur." Do not combine "indefinitely" with "lay on the table,"and do not confuse "lay on the table" with "postpone." Do not think that calls of "question" compel the chair to take the vote. Do not forget that local law, however unwise, supercedes parliamentary rules, but in the absence of such law, established customs govern. Do not permit thoughtless advocates of loose methods to ridicule you out of a demand that the business of any organization you are interested in be transacted according to parliamentary forms. Do not forget that the greatest brains in the finest parliamentary assemblies on earth, regard inflexible rules as necessary to secure well defined action and profitable results.

09 CHURCH MEETINGS

The regular business meetings of the church should be attended by all the members unless they are prevented by sickness. These meetings are usually held but once a month, and on Saturday, and brethren should not let their work interfere.

 

Obligation to Attend Meetings.

A brother who was transacting some business was asked if he could be in a certain neighborhood on a certain Saturday. He replied, "Yes, I agreed fifteen years ago to be there on that day." When asked for an explanation he replied, "My church meets in that neighborhood on that day, and when I united with it fifteen years ago I covenanted to meet with it every session and I expect to be there."

 

This is the feeling that brethren should have in regard to their church meetings. They should want to attend every service, but they should feel duty bound to attend the church meetings.

 

Be Prompt to Time Appointed.

The members should meet promptly at the time appointed. The habit of being late should be discouraged by all. The song service should commence before the time set for public service. If the time set be 11 o'clock, from one-half to three-quarters of an hour should have been spent before that time in singing, and prayers by different brethren.

 

Order of Business.

If the business meeting is held after the preaching, when it has concluded, the moderator should at once announce the order of business. He should not consume the time with unnecessary talk, but without seeming haste, get through with the business as soon as possible.

 

The members should be trained to speak promptly, and take a lively interest in keeping everything in order. When one knows of business that ought to be brought up, he should not wait for some one else to speak, but should at once introduce it.

 

It is best to have a regular "order of business." While it may not make any material difference as to which subject is taken up first, yet to my mind the following order could be recommended:

 

1. Invite visiting brethren from sister churches to seats.

 

2. Extend invitation for membership.

 

3. Take up references from previous meetings.

 

4. Take up matters touching fellowship.

 

5. Opportunity given to introduce new business.

 

Invitation for Members.

The sermon should close with an invitation to persons who have a hope to come to the church, the first order of business, (to invite visiting brethren to seats,) taking but a word and passing on. If the sermon has been what it should be, those who ought to unite with the church will, perhaps, be in a better frame of mind than after the routine of business has been finished.

 

Reference.

Matters taken up under the head of "reference" are properly "unfinished business," and may be taken up without a motion, unless it is something that has been referred, to be taken up at a convenient time, without the day being set. This would need to have a motion to take it up.

 

Matters Touching Fellowship.

When the order for matters touching fellowship is reached, the moderator should ask, "Are there any matters touching fellowship which have been dealt with in gospel order that should be brought before the church?"

 

I deem this form better than asking, "Is the church in peace?" While it is to be considered in peace until something is brought before it, yet brethren have their little difficulties, and get their feelings hurt, and while they cannot say, "All is peace," yet the matter is not in condition to bring before the church. I have known the clerk's minute to read, "All in peace," when most of the members knew that there were some bad hurts not healed. None of the members felt just right to have the minute read so, but none were in a position to speak.

 

It would be better to have the clerk's minute read, if nothing is brought up. "Nothing brought up touching fellowship," which would be the fact and all would be satisfied with the statement.

 

New Business.

Under the head of "new business," any subject relating to the interest of the church, not before taken up, can be introduced. It is usually better to talk subjects over with the members before putting them before the church while in session, as it should be the aim of all to promote harmony and peace and have the brethren see alike, if possible, on every subject acted upon.

 

Free discussion should be had on all subjects, and all should be resolved that they will not give offense to any brother or sister by word or action.

 

Special Meetings.

Special meetings may be appointed by the church for the transaction of stated business. No number of members have the authority to call a special meeting. So far as I know none of our churches have any provisions in their rules of decorum for calling special meetings, which leaves the matter wholly with the church while in regular session.

 

Two Services Saturdays.

Some of our churches have two services on Saturdays, through the summer months, the members taking their dinners with them. After the morning service an adjournment is taken for dinner, and when called together again the church business is taken up and followed by short talks by the brethren and pastor. It seems to me that this is a good way to do. As a rule, the members of the churches do not get to see each other often enough, and this brings them together so that they may cultivate friendship and love.

 

Keeping a Record.

Each church should preserve a correct record of its proceedings, and to that end should have a capable clerk, one who writes well and who can have the minute of the day ready by the time the church is through its business.

 

The minute, as made out, should be read, and corrected, if need be, so that it will correctly state what business has been transacted. The clerk should record the minute as approved.

 

I would recommend that churches get a well bound record book, one that will last a number of years. A part of it should be ruled to show clearly the names of members, the dates when they united with the church, and their ages. The form should be carried out to show date of death, if remaining in the church "till death. But if dismissed by letter or excluded, the form should show the fact and the date; if dismissed by letter the name of the church in which the letter is placed should be given.

 

It would be impossible to take the books kept by many clerks and ascertain who are members of the church. This is certainly different to what it should be. Most of the books show who joined the church and when, but that is as far as the record goes. When members die no record is made where it can be found, nor when letters of dismission are granted is the fact stated anywhere except in the minute of the meeting making the order, making it necessary to search the whole book through to get at the facts.

 

The names of the members should be on the left hand side of the left hand page and the ruling should extend across the right hand page.

 

Inquiring After Absent Members.

When members are absent from the meeting the moderator may inquire if brethren present know the reason. In this way deacons may learn of sick members, or information may be given to all the membership regarding the sick or needy. Then when members are unavoidably kept away from the meetings, knowing that inquiry will be made as to the reason of their absence, they will try to let the churches know the cause.

 

Others who might be inclined to be indifferent about attending the meetings would give the matter more serious thought if they knew the circumstances of their remaining away from church meetings would be inquired into.

 

Some churches call the roll of members when the church sits for business and the clerk makes a minute of the number present. I do not see any reasonable objection to this practice, and there are some good points in its favor. It should certainly be the desire of all to have every member attend all the meetings if possible.

 

Obligation to Vote.

On all questions that come before the church there should be a full vote. None should try to escape responsibility for the action of the church. They cannot do so by refusing to vote, for not voting is equivalent to voting on the side of the question that prevails. But members should express their best judgment on every motion, and when the voice of the church is taken let that be the end of the matter. It is all right to reason together on a subject before the vote is taken, but it is not right to try to stir up dissatisfaction after the majority has decided it, for it is impossible to have a unanimous vote on all questions. The majority should not be overbearing, for it is necessary to exercise mutual forbearance that peace may abound. But it is usual, and I think right, for the majority to rule in all matters except the receiving of members, dismissing members by letter and in choosing a pastor.

 

Right Behavior.

The members should observe proper decorum at the church meetings, whether the services are in progress or not. There should not be undue levity during the intermissions nor before nor after services. They come together as members of the church of Christ, and should demean themselves as such.

 

The Communion Service.

It is my judgment that the Lord's supper should be observed when the members come together as a church. If the business meeting is on Saturday, let the communion service be on Saturday. This is the practice of many of our churches. The mixed multitude that attends the Sunday service for the public proclamation of the gospel often breaks the solemnity that should prevail at the celebration of this sacred ordinance. Generally, on Saturday, the members of the church are nearly alone together, and they can feel more impressed with the lesson that was given in that upper chamber where Jesus and his disciples alone first broke bread and took the cup {Mr 14:15-24} as all His followers are to do to the end of time in remembrance of Him.

 

The Lord's supper is a church ordinance and should be considered a church service, and partaken of when the members come together as a church.

10 RECEIVING MEMBERS

Receiving members into a Primitive Baptist church is quite different to receiving members into any other organization on earth. To become a member of any other organization one has only to comply with the requirements of that body.

 

Must be Born Again.

But to become a member of a Primitive Baptist church one must have something done for him that he cannot do for himself-he must give evidence of an inward work of grace. It is no advantage to a church to receive for membership persons who have not been born of God. {Joh 1:13; 3:5}

 

The so-called churches are only anxious to have persons become members of their organizations, and seem to think it but a stumbling block to preach that sinners must be born again. They try every scheme they can conceive of to get numbers. But Primitive Baptists can never follow such practices without forsaking the doctrines of the Bible and changing the principles of true service. We may be very anxious for our churches to grow, but adding the world to them will subvert the very end we wish to attain-the increase of our spiritual enjoyment. Unconverted persons, being of the world, will want to bring in worldly things, which will soon destroy it.

 

Should be Indoctrinated.

But all the members, together with the pastor, should want to see all who have a hope in Christ become members of the church. Before coming in they will need to accept the doctrine of grace and feel willing to submit to the order of the church. Here is a work for the pastor. He should instruct them in the doctrine of salvation by grace. In his sermons he should have it in view that there may be persons in the congregation who need instruction that they may some day become faithful members of the church.

 

The pastor and members should search out {Jer 16:16; Mt 4:19} all who have a hope of salvation, talk with them to know if they are in harmony with the doctrines and practices of the church and encourage them to do their duty.

 

Bringing the Feeble Into the Church.

I feel that it would be right when persons desire to unite with the church, and are too timid to arise and come forward, for members who know their feelings to obtain their consent to bring the matter before the church. There is no good reason for making it as difficult as possible for the timid and weak to come to the church. It is hard at best for them to feel that they have a right to come to the church, and often all the members are convinced that individuals ought to be members of the church, and have fellowship for them, but because these persons are so weak, and have so little trust in themselves, and have so many doubts with which to struggle, they remain out of the church to their own sorrow and to the disappointment of the members. Surely this is not right. The church home is intended as a protection and a joy for the pilgrims and strangers here on the earth, and every barrier should be taken out of the way, or at least none erected.

 

Unwarranted Instruction.

I have heard of some ministers who, when announcing the door of the church open for the reception of members, said, "Now if you can stay away just do so; but when you can no longer stay away, come to the church." Whether the theory of these brethren is right or wrong, certain it is they can find neither example nor precept in the Bible for such teaching. The Bible is full of exhortation and encouragement. One would not say to a child, "Disobey your father just as long as you can, but when he forces you to keep his precepts do so." If it would be disregard to an earthly parent to teach in this manner, is it not contempt for our heavenly Father to so teach his children? When we find one who gives evidence of the Spirit's work in his heart, we find one who ought to openly profess Christ before men by coming into the church.

 

Form of Receiving Members.

It is a common custom to request a person who desires to join the church to come forward and give his hand to the minister. The person is then seated conveniently until the hymn is finished, if the congregation be singing. When the congregation is seated the minister or moderator requests the applicant to tell the church what the Lord has done for him, and to speak freely, as he is among friends. When he has finished, the members are given the opportunity to ask any questions they may desire that they may be fully persuaded in their minds as to his Christian experience and fitness for the church. Then the moderator asks, "What will the church do with the application?" A motion is then in order to receive the applicant for baptism, or to reject, as may be the mind of the members. When the question is put every member should vote and the church must be unanimous if the candidate is received. The form of voting is usually by raising the right hand.

 

If the person be received the brethren all extend the right hand as a token of fellowship, though the candidate is not considered to have the full privileges of the church until after baptism.

 

Baptism.

The ordinance of baptism should be attended to as soon as possible after the candidate has been received. If it be the duty and privilege of an individual to be baptized, it is not becoming in the church to encourage a delay. Nothing can be considered as baptism except immersion in water by an ordained minister, duly authorized by the Primitive Baptist church.

 

Restoring Members.

Restoring members is receiving persons back into fellowship who have been excluded. This is usually done by the excluded member going to the church from which he was excluded and making acknowledgements for the wrong committed, which, if satisfactory, is followed by a motion to forgive and restore to full fellowship.

 

It sometimes happens that members move away from the church of their membership into the bounds of another church and while there act so as to be excluded. If they repent, the church in whose bounds they live will know more about the evidence of repentance than the home church, and in my opinion it would be right for such persons to go to the church whose members know their lives, and make application for restoration, and have this church recommend their home church to restore them and give them a letter, which could then be made a matter of record when received by the church to which they came with their application for restoration. It seems proper that the church where they would want membership should judge their lives and make the recommendation for restoration.

 

A church should not be too rigid with members which have been excluded. When the church sees by their lives that they are humbled and repentant, and have turned away from the course that cut them off, it should invite them back to membership again. The purpose of exclusion should not be to destroy the members, but to turn them over to satan for the destruction of the flesh {1Co 5:5} and when that end has been attained the purpose has been served, and there is no use to keep them out longer. True, it would be right for them to turn at once, and, acknowledging their wrong, come humbly to the. church. But we should remember the weakness of the flesh, and do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

 

Receiving By Letter.

In receiving members by letter, the church will satisfy herself that the church issuing the letter is sound in the faith and in gospel order! A letter from such a church should be all the recommendation needed to obtain membership. When the letter is handed in, and has been read, the moderator should give the person presenting it an opportunity to talk to the church, after which a motion to dispose of the application will be in order.

 

If the person bearing the letter is received, the clerk should at once inform the clerk of the church issuing the letter of the fact so that its records may be kept complete.

 

Receiving By Relation.

Persons may be received on "relation,"that is, they may have had connection with a church which has gone down, so that they cannot get letters of dismission, and they may come to the church and relate the facts of their connection with said church, and satisfying the members that there is nothing to bar them from membership, may be received. But so long as the church of their membership is in existence, members should get letters of dismission before uniting with another church. See page 210.

11 LETTERS OF DISMISSION

When a member desires to change his membership from one church to another he should get a letter of dismission from the church of his membership and present it to the church where he desires to make his home. The only purpose for which a letter can be granted is to unite with another church. Some brethren have labored under the mistaken idea that as soon as a letter of dismission is granted, the person receiving it is out of the church until he puts it into some church, but such is not the case. Brethren sometimes desire to get out of a church because they become offended at some brother, or at some action of the church, and in such cases have been known to ask for letters of dismission when they had no idea of uniting with any other church.

 

The fact is, a letter of dismission, according to its own terms, does not dismiss until it is presented to some other church and is accepted. A person holding a letter as much belongs to the church that issued it as he did before it was granted, and his obligations are in nowise changed. And it is the duty of the church to look after him just the same as before the letter was issued until he shall put it into some church.

 

Sometimes brethren who live at a distance from the church ask for letters, giving as a reason that they are so far away they cannot attend the meetings of the church. This is no reason at all, because as above stated, they still belong to the church as long as they hold the letters. Letters of dismission should not be granted unless members desire to join other churches, and it would be right to ask them what church they desired to unite with. It requires a unanimous vote of those present to grant a letter of dismission.

 

I would recommend the following form for letters of dismission:

 

Letter of Dismission.

 

The ................ church of Primitive Baptists, (postoffice, county and state) holding the following doctrine:

 

Special atonement by Jesus Christ for the elect of God who are predestinated unto the adoption of children, and kept by the power of God unto glory.

 

Do certify that ................ is a member in good standing and in full fellowship with us, (state if ordained) and is by this dismissed from us when joined to another church of the same faith.

 

If the holder of this letter does not become a member of some church within one year from this date he is required to report to this church reasons for holding the same, with such other information as the church may require.

 

Any church receiving this letter will please notify the clerk of this church.

 

Given by order of the church at the regular meeting on the ........ day of ................, 1......

 

................... Moderator. ................... Clerk.

 

The clerk of the church receiving the letter may return it to the church issuing it, indorsing on the back of it:

 

This letter presented to and accepted by ............ church (postofflce, countyand state), on the ...... day of .......... 1..., and the bearer received into full fellowship. ................... Clerk.

12 ERRING MEMBERS

Seeing that all are weak, it is to be expected that all will err. This is the teaching of the scriptures. Christ died for sinners and the regulations given the church show that its members will probably do wrong. The most prominent men mentioned in the Bible either confessed error or were convicted of it. Christ taught that offenses would come, (Mt 18:7) and exhorted to forbearance and forgiveness. {Mt 18:21,35; Lu 11:4} So while the fact is to be deplored, yet we should not get discouraged when the members of the church do wrong, for such has been the history of men and women throughout all time.

 

But the church, if walking according to the rule laid down in the scriptures, is well calculated to correct wrongs and bring the erring back to the way of right. This is the end for which the rules are given, and when they are used otherwise they are perverted. The pastors of churches, and every lover of the prosperity of Zion, should try to impress on the members of the church the thought that one object of the church is to correct the erring and save them from their weaknesses.

 

While it is admitted that members may do wrong, and forbearance should be exercised toward them, yet the church should not encourage wrong doing in any direction, either in permitting brethren to violate the rules of right or to fail in demeaning themselves as members of the church.

 

The course to be pursued with erring members is much the same in all cases. True, there is a difference between giving personal offense to a brother and committing a wrong which affects no one member more than another, but the principle upon which the brother is to be approached to save him is one and the same. The object in approaching him should be to save him to the church and preserve the fellowship of the brethren.

 

When one brother gives offense to another, the matter is just between the two brethren and should be settled without anyone else knowing anything about it. The brother offended should go at once to the brother giving the offense, being sure that he goes in the right spirit. See Mt 18:15. If a brother, instead of taking this course, should begin to tell the matter to others, he has given offense to the whole church, and should make his acknowledgments to it when in regular session. And the church should take up the case of any brother who claims that a brother has trespassed against him, and is talking about the matter instead of going according to the directions given as cited above.

 

But if a brother has gone in love to one who has trespassed against him, and has not been able to settle the matter, he may take one or more brethren with him to reason with the brother who has trespassed, his object being to have these brethren use their influence to have the matter settled, and not simply to make witnesses out of them against the brother. He should take friends of the brother who has trespassed, and not his own friends, and especially should he be careful not to take persons who do not have a good feeling for the brother, for they would be inclined to make more trouble instead of making it less. If the brethren taken effect an agreement, here the matter stops. But if they fail to accomplish anything, the offended brother will take the matter to the church, that it may judge of it. The object in going to the church with it should not be to have the brother put out, but to rest the matter with the church for its decision as to who is in the wrong. The church should investigate the matter until the members are ready to give their decision, which should be accepted by the two brethren. But if either of them will not submit to the decision, the church may drop him from her fellowship, and he "shall be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican."

 

If the brother who is offended does not take the matter up and go to the brother who has trespassed, and it becomes known to the trespassing brother that he has aught against him, he should at once go to the offended brother and try to reconcile him. See Mt 5:23-24. He should proceed just the same as in Mt 18:15-17. Some brethren seem to feel that the offended brother must take the matter up, or no attention is to be paid to it. But any brother who has the interest and peace of Zion at heart should not want any one to be carrying a hurt against him if he can heal it with an explanation or an acknowledgment.

 

If two brethren have a difference between them, and are hurt at each other, and will do nothing to be reconciled or to bring the matter into the church for its decision, and it becomes known to the members, they should have the deacons go to each of them separately and show them that they should not be irreconciled to their brethren, and try to get them to settle the matter. If they cannot get them to act they should take other brethren with them to reason with the brethren. If they accomplish nothing, the matter should be brought into the church. Feuds in a church should not be tolerated. Brethren ought to be willing to acknowledge their wrongs and to forgive others as they ask the Lord to forgive them.

 

If a brother violates the law of right with respect to morals, or his duty to the church, he should make his acknowledgment to it. The manner of proceeding in such cases is much the same as in the cases cited above. The deacons should go to the offending brother alone and try to show him the error of his way, and how he hurts the church by his actions, and try to have him come to the church and acknowledge his wrongs. Before bringing the matter to the church they should take other brethren to reason with him. As to why deacons should take such matters up, see page 155. Of course any brother can take such matters up, but members do not like to do things that are just as much the duty of others, and which will seem to indicate that they have a personal feeling in the matter.

 

This class of offenses should cover all acts that are clearly forbidden in God's Word and such things as are certainly inconsistent with the character of a member of the church of Christ.

 

One of such things I will mention because it is so generally disregarded, and because some brethren seem to think that nothing can be done in such cases, and that is, remaining away from the church meetings. We certainly have a rule on this subject, { Heb 10:25} and the church is in error if it is not enforced. Members who "forsake" assembling with the church are worth nothing to keep the church up. Of course if they are too far away to attend, or sick, or old, that is different. The church will be able to judge, however, whether members are blamable for remaining away from the church or not. Where they are at fault they should either amend their ways or the church should drop their names from its roll, stating the cause therefor. Effort should be made to recover such members the same as for any other wrong doing. It is contempt for the church and disregarding the scriptures to stay away from the church meetings when it is possible to attend, and such a practice should not be tolerated.

 

The authority of the church is from God, and the members of the church have not the right to make void its laws by permitting members to ignore them. Sometimes members declare that they will not attend the meetings, and that they do not want membership in the church. Such brethren should be labored with at once, and if they do not see the error of their way, the church should not keep them on its roll of members, as the church should not be a prison for anyone. If the authority of the church is firmly upheld, it will command more respect from the members and there will not be so much trouble. Nothing should be done hastily or harshly, but all action should be deliberate and kind, showing the fear of God and love for His children.

 

Churches may sometimes err and a member may be wronged. If there seems a probability of this in any case, the church might agree with the individual to have brethren come in from other churches to hear the matter and give their advice. Brethren met under such circumstances may form a council and hear the evidence submitted by both sides. The council has no power to pass upon the matter further than to advise, as the only power of action is in the church. Yet other churches might take the judgment of the council as a basis for their action in passing on whom they would receive. This proceedure may also be followed where a church has divided over questions that the members have not been able to decide among themselves. Both parties should join in a call for a council of brethren and submit all things fairly, desiring to know the right and to do it. As before said, the council cannot decide the matter, but the brethren forming it may give their best judgment, and the brethren submitting the matter should sacrifice personal feelings, not compromising the doctrine or practice of the church, and come together on the recommendations of the council and live in peace. Of course it is better for brethren to settle their difficulties among themselves.

 

Most of the troubles in churches come from talking too much. What is said about a little difference makes more trouble than the real grievance. A good rule for every member of the church to remember is, Don't talk about any brother or sister. If this rule were observed there would be but little trouble, and what there was would not spread very far. But as soon as brethren get to talking about a grievance they get other brethren interested, who soon take part, and in a little while many are into trouble over a very trivial affair. Another good rule is, Don't get mixed up in some one else's trouble. The best rule of all is, "Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace shall be with you."- 2Co 13:11.

13 CHOOSING A PASTOR

Making choice of a pastor is a very important matter with a church, and should be gone into prayerfully. Some churches are so situated that they have but little choice about the matter, as they may have but one minister available. These churches should be satisfied and get the best possible service from the minister who attends them. If he is not the most brilliant speaker, nor the best gift that they know of, they should not begin to mistreat or neglect him, but take the more care of him and pray that God may bless him to their needs and them in his service. Many ministers are discouraged because it is so plainly manifest that the membership of the church do not think they have sufficient ability to serve the church. This is wrong. If the church cannot do better, let it make the very best of the situation.

 

But where a church has the opportunity of making choice between ministers it should do so very carefully. Different members will have their likes and dislikes, according to temperament and disposition, finding what is congenial to each in different ministers. As far as possible this influence must be guarded against. A member who is of a jolly, jovial disposition would like to have a pastor who would indulge his disposition, while he, perhaps, needs a sedate pastor to curb his disposition toward undue levity. The needs of the whole church and its surroundings must be taken into consideration, and then all should pray to the Lord of the harvest to send a laborer. There should be due notice given that a pastor is to be chosen. Let it be understood by all that unless all should want one man some one will not get his first choice, but all should feel that the will of the majority is to be followed, and the call made unanimous. When the vote has been taken, let the name of the one receiving the majority be announced. Then let there be a motion to make the call unanimous, and if possible let the motion prevail by a unanimous vote. But if there are any who for conscience sake cannot vote to make the choice unanimous, the call fails. No Primitive Baptist minister can afford to preach to a church where there are objections that cannot be laid down. The church might demand of the objector his reasons and then pass on them as to whether the member is justified in holding them or not, and he may waive them at the judgment of the church. Or if he persists in objecting, when the church thinks it without reason, it may deal with him for opposing it without sufficient grounds. This same course might also be taken in the reception of members where there is objection. But in either case the action of the church should in the end be made unanimous.

 

Some churches choose a pastor for an indefinite period, while others choose for a period of one year. The latter allows both church and pastor to be free when the time expires, and a change can be made if thought advisable. If a pastor is chosen for an indefinite time the members may feel that they can get better service by changing, but none of them feel like bringing the matter up, and it might drag along to the injury of the church.

 

Churches may get into a condition where it is not prudent to call a pastor. They may then get ministers to preach for them until conditions change and it is thought advisable to choose a pastor. A minister who is not ordained might preach for a church regularly and have some ordained minister administer the ordinances.

14 CONSTITUTION OF CHURCHES

In every community where there are a sufficient number of brethren to keep up regular services, and have the gospel preached, there should be a church organization. These brethren have the power of organization within themselves. As no one church can be inferior to another they do not have to get authority from some other body to organize into a church. Of course the persons who come together to meet as a church must be regularly baptized persons, and if they have belonged to other churches, they must have letters of dismission. But a minister might go into a country where there were no Primitive Baptists and receive and baptize enough persons to organize a church, and if the faith and practice were apostolic, it would be a church of Jesus Christ in order. The first churches were doubtless organized in this way.

 

It is common, however, when brethren wish to meet together as a church where they are convenient to other churches, to ask that a council of brethren be sent them from the churches nearest, not to give them authority to constitute a church, but to witness their soundness in the faith and gospel order, and to recommend them to the churches in general as being one with them in faith and practice. When a council of brethren are met for this purpose they choose a moderator and clerk. Then the standing of the proposed membership is examined, to see if they have letters from churches in order or have been regularly baptized. Then the church covenant, with the names of the members affixed is read, and the articles of faith upon which they have agreed, are examined. All being found in order, the council moves to approve and to recognize them as a church in order, which is further manifested by the council extending to the members of the church the hand of fellowship.

 

The church then chooses a moderator and clerk and adopts suitable rules of decorum, establishes a meeting day, etc., and takes its place among the sisterhood of churches. The following form of covenant may be used:

 

Church Covenant.

 

We, whose names are subscribed below, do hereby covenant together to meet as a church of Jesus Christ, holding the doctrines set forth in the attached articles of faith, and agreeing with each other to such practice as is taught in the scriptures. This church is to be known as the ..................Primitive Baptist church.

 

Witness our hands hereunto subscribed this ...... day of ......... 1....

 

(Here follow names of all who enter into the constitution.)