place, and had not among them an ordained priest and were all agreed in the matter and elected one and told him to baptize, administer the Mass, absolve and preach, such a one would be as true a priest as if all the bishops and popes had ordained him.? Dexter, Congregationalism, 51 ? ?Luther came near discovering and reproducing Congregationalism. Three things checked him. The first was undervalued polity as compared with doctrine, secondly, he reacted from Anabaptist fanaticism and thirdly, he thought Providence indicated that princes should lead and people should follow. So, while he and Zwingle alike held the Bible to teach that all ecclesiastical power inheres under Christ in the congregation of believers, the matter ended in an organization of superintendents and consistories, which gradually became fatally mixed up with the state.?
III. GOVERNMENT OF THE CHURCH. 1. Nature of this government in general.
It is evident from the direct relation of each member of the church, and so of the church as a whole, to Christ as sovereign and lawgiver, that the government of the church, so far as regards the source of authority, is an absolute monarchy.
In ascertaining the will of Christ, however, and in applying his commands to providential exigencies, the Holy Spirit enlightens one member through the counsel of another, and as the result of combined deliberation, guides the whole body to right conclusions. This work of the Spirit is the foundation of the Scripture injunctions to unity. This unity, since it is a unity of the Spirit, is not an enforced but an intelligent and willing unity. While Christ is sole king, the government of the church, so far as regards the interpretation and execution of his will by the body, is an absolute democracy. The whole body of members is entrusted with the duty and responsibility of carrying out the laws of Christ, as expressed in his word.
The seceders from the established church of Scotland, on the memorable 18th of May, 1843, embodied in their protest the following words, We go out ?from an establishment, which we loved and prized. Through interference with conscience, the dishonor done to Christ?s crown and the rejection of his sole and supreme authority as King in his church.? The church should be rightly ordered, since it is the representative and guardian of God?s truth ? its ?pillar and ground? (Tim. 3:15) ? the Holy Spirit working in and through it.
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