• Church of Scotland Assembly

Chapter 02

 

Of the Parts of the Polity of the Church, and Persons or Office-bearers to whom the Administration is committed.

1. As in the civil polity the whole commonwealth consists in them that are governors or magistrates, and them that are governed, or subjects; so in the polity of the Church some are appointed to be rulers, and the rest of the members thereof to be ruled, and obey according to the Word of God and inspiration of his Spirit, always under One Head and Chief Governor, Jesus Christ.

2. Again, the whole polity of the Church consists in three things, viz, in Doctrine, Discipline, and Distribution. With Doctrine is annexed the administration of the Sacraments. And according to the parts of this division arises a three-fold sort of office-bearers in the Church, to wit, of Ministers or Preachers, Elders or Governors, and Deacons or Distributors.

3. And all these may be called by one general word, Ministers of the Church. For albeit (although) the Church of God is ruled and governed by Jesus Christ, who is the only King, High Priest, and Head thereof, yet he uses the ministry of men as the most necessary means for this purpose. For so he has from time to time, before the Law, under the Law, and in the time of the Gospel, for our great comfort raised up men endued with the gifts of the Spirit, for the spiritual government of his Church, exercising by them his own power, through his Spirit and Word to the building of the same.

4. And to take away all occasion of tyranny, he wills that they should rule with mutual consent of brother, and equality of power, every one according to their functions.

5. In the New Testament and time of the Gospel he has used the ministry of the Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Doctors in the administration of the Word; the Eldership for good order and administration of discipline; the Deaconship to have the care of the ecclesiastical goods.

6. Some of these ecclesiastical functions are ordinary, and some extraordinary or temporary. There are three extraordinary functions, the Office of the Apostle, of the Evangelist, and of the Prophet, which are not perpetual, and now have ceased in the Church of God, except when it pleased God, extraordinarily, for a time to stir up some of them again. There are four ordinary functions or offices in the Church of God: the office of Pastor, Minister or Bishop, the Doctor, the Presbyter or Elder, and the Deacon.

7. These offices are ordinary, and ought to continue perpetually in the Church, as necessary for the polity and government of the same, and no more offices ought to be received or suffered in the true Church of God established according to his Word.

8. Therefore all the ambitious titles invented in the kingdom of Antichrist, and in his usurped hierarchy, which are not of one of these four sorts, together with the offices depending thereupon, in one word ought all utterly to be rejected.

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