Of Elders and their Office.
1. The word Elder in the Scriptures sometimes is the name of age, sometimes of office. When it is the name of an office, sometimes it is taken largely comprehending as well the Pastors and Doctors as those who are called Seniors or Elders.
2. In this our division, we call those Elders whom the Apostles call Presidents or Governors. Their office, as it is ordinary, so it is perpetual, and always necessary in the Church of God. The Eldership is a spiritual function, as is the Ministry. Elders once lawfully called to the office, and having gifts of God meet to exercise the same, may not leave it again. Albeit, such a number of Elders may be chosen in certain congregations, that one part of them may relieve another for a reasonable space, as was among the Levites under the law in serving of the temple. The number of Elders in a congregation cannot well be limited, but should be according to the bounds and necessity of the people.
3. It is not necessary that all Elders be also teachers of the Word, albeit the chief ought to be such, and so are worthy of double honour. What manner of persons they ought to be, we refer it to the express Word of God, and specially the canons written by the Apostle Paul.
4. Their office is, as well severally as conjointly, to watch diligently upon the flock committed to their charge, both publicly and privately, that no corruption of religion or manners enter therein.
5. As the Pastors and Doctors should be diligent in teaching and sowing the seed of the Word, so the Elders should be careful in seeking the fruit of the same in the people.
6. It appertains to them to assist the Pastor in examination of them that come to the Lord's table: item, in visiting the sick.
7. They should cause the Acts of Assembly, as well particular as general, to be put in execution carefully.
8. They should be diligent in admonishing all men of their duty according to the rule of the Gospel. Things that they cannot correct by private admonition they should bring to the assembly of the Eldership.
9. Their principal office is to hold assemblies with the Pastors and Doctors, who are also of their number; for establishing of good order and execution of discipline. Unto which assemblies all persons are subject that remain within their bounds.