There are still many other requirements for the office of elder. Before discussing these we will digress a moment to comment upon a question which arose in connection with our former writing. The question is: “Is it proper to consider one a candidate for the office who has been guilty of some public, gross sin for which he has repented and made confession?” The elder must be blameless and have a good report of them that are without.
“The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God, the author thereof; and, therefore, it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.” Westminster Confession B. The Scriptural Basis
The Ministry Of The Word “The office of the ministry is to continue in prayer and in the ministry of the word, to dispense the sacraments, to watch over his brethren, the elders and deacons, as well as the congregation, and finally, with the elders, to exercise church discipline and to see to it that everything is done decently and in good order.”— Article 16
With the position that favors church-domination over the state we cannot agree. The church has no more right to impose itself upon the state than the state has to imposer itself upon the church. Yet, is not this the conclusion that must be reached by those who oppose “separation” and insist upon “unification” of church an state? If these two separate entities are amalgamated, it is inevitable that the stronger of the two will dominate the weaker so that either the “church-state” or the “state-church” will be practical result.
Last time we cited a few passages of Scriptures wherein are enumerated the qualifications of the officebearers of the church and, more particularly, of the elders. In “The Church Order Commentary,” Monsma and Van Dellen make the following summarization of these qualifications:
“The Elders shall be chosen by the judgment of the Consistory and the Deacons according to the regulations for that purpose established by the Consistory.
But thus, at the same time, was roused the jealousy of the bishop of Rome, to whom a rival in Constantinople with equal prerogatives, was far more dangerous than a rival in Alexandria or Antioch. Especially offensive must it have been to him, that the council of Chalcedon said not a word of the primacy of Peter and based the power of the Roman bishop, like that of the Constantinopolitan, on political grounds; which was indeed not erroneous, yet only halt of the truth, and in that respect unfair.
The task of selecting men to serve in the offices of the church is a very serious matter. Calvin says that Paul mentions it in preference to everything else because in the spiritual building (the church) it nearly comes next to the doctrine. It is a labor that must be done with greatest discretion and much prayer. The church that ignores this will surely suffer dire consequences of ill-government for it is like a plague to the church when either unscrupulous or spiritually incompetent men control the presbytery.
The State is the temporal and creaturely institution which originates in creation itself. From the very fact that man was created to rule and given the mandate of God to “Be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the, fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth,” stems the State. Adam was both head of the family and head of the earthly State. His dominion extended over all the earth.
Frequently, even among those who are members of Reformed Churches, there emits rather strong sentiments of discontentment with the venerable practice of family visitation. In some circles these dissatisfactions are catered to, resulting in either the complete abolition of the practice or in its being substituted with something less poignant and official.