VI. The office of a minister or teacher &c. is so extensive that he may, when requisite, perform every sacred thing that is of official nature: nevertheless where there are ruling elders &c. his office is, chiefly, to convene the church; pray; read the scripture; preach; break bread; dismiss and bless the people; govern, in conjunction with the ruling elders; take into the church; bind or retain sin; admonish; cast out of the church; loose or remit sin; lay on hands; baptize; visit; give good example; anoint the sick; bury the dead; perform marriages; cathecise; bless infants; defend the faith; assist at associations, and other public meetings; &c.
1. A minister’s commission is so full and extensive that nothing, of official nature, can start up, at any time, or in any place which he may not perform by virtue of that commission, Go to all the world—teach all nations—preach the gospel to every creature—baptize—teach the observance of all things whatsoever I have commanded; and lo I am with you. Math. xxviii. 19, 20. Mar. xvi. 15. The man of God is throughly furnished for every good work, 1 Tim. iii. 17.
2. Nevertheless when a minister is fixed in a church, and so is become the pastor, or elder, or bishop thereof, he ought to have ruling elders, deacons, &c. to perform those parts of his office which are detached from their occupancy; yet not so as to alienate them from his concern on some occasions. The apostles who ordained deacons to care for the poor, that they might give themselves continually to the ministry of the word and prayer did sometimes meddle with the concerns of the deacons, Gal. i. 10. And the text, which is the chief foundation of the office of ruling elders, supposes that the teaching elders partake with them in the rule of the church, 1 Tim. v. 17. Yet ministers should interfere as seldom as possible with the business of either; since their relief was the design of those inferior offices.
3. Where there are elders, deacons, &c. the work of a minister is,
4. To convene the church; And the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, &c. Act. vi. 2. And when Paul and Silas were come to Antioch, and had gathered the church together &c. Act. xiv. 27. Joel ii. 15-16.
5. To pray; viz. in public, called also interceding, supplicating, &c. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer &c. Act. vi. 4. My servant shall pray for you; for him will I accept Job. xlii. 8.
6. To be continued...