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Perhaps they are brought into circumstances where they must either offend him whom they are first bound to serve, or displease their nearest earthly friends. Like Paul himself, they must choose whom they will leave: those whom they most love here, or him who has called them to an heavenly inheritance.

Others are so placed, that they must either resign their vocation, and risk the loss of flattering earthly prospects, or else walk inconsistently with their calling as Christians, inconsistently with their character as servants of Christ. Mammon is on one side, and God on the other. And they must determine whom they will serve.

We cannot know what is in the world, without being aware that difficulties of this kind are often thrown in the way of Christians even in these days of outward prosperity of the church. And no one who remembers what human nature is, will deny that there are causes of tribulation.

It is therefore a general truth, that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. For all this scorn must be encountered, all this bad example resisted, all this self-denial consented to, or else we shall be found among those who in this world have sought their portion, and in this world had their reward: found among those who in this generation have been "ashamed" of their Lord and his service, and of whom "he will be ashamed" when he comes in glory.

For these reasons might the apostles warn these christian converts, that they should not be dis

couraged when trials came. As our Lord had himself said, "These things have I told you, that ye may remember that I told you of them." And so we may say in general, that the perfect rest which the gospel promises, is that "rest which remaineth for the people of God" when they are taken from this present evil world. The rest which it bestows here, is not that sort of rest which consists in tranquillity and uninterrupted ease: but another sort of rest, more suited to a corrupt nature and a state of trial. It is rest from the fear of death; rest from the terrors of a broken law; rest from the dread of an offended God: rest from the dominion of sin. There is sufficient comfort in this rest, to compensate for any tribulation. No one who enjoys that comfort, will complain that our blessed Lord fails to make good his promise, that all who come unto him, and take his yoke upon them, shall "find rest unto their souls."



ACTS xiv. 23.

23. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

2 John xvi. 4.

When nation rises against nation, and a country is overrun and conquered by a successful enemy, the victorious commander passes through it, inspects the fortresses, instructs and encourages those who garrison them, and puts those officers in charge who are most able to maintain discipline and secure fidelity. Of a like nature was the journey in which Paul and Barnabas were engaged, though they brought peace and not war, and though the kingdom which they were establishing was "not of this world." They had disturbed the reign of Satan and weakened his power in all this district of Asia, and had set up, instead, the gospel of Christ. And now they visit the principal places where christian companies had been formed, acquaint them with the will of their sovereign more perfectly, and ordain in every church those best suited for the purpose, who might instruct, rebuke, exhort with all authority.


These were called elders. It was a term familiar to the Jews, who had been accustomed to rulers and elders of the congregation. In every company of believers, some would be more fit than others for such an office; would have more talent, more knowledge, more zeal, more opportunity of applying themselves to the work. And these being selected by those who knew them best, were approved by the apostles, and solemnly appointed

2 Exod. xvi. 22; xvii. 5. Numb. xi. 16. Deut. xxxi. 28. Hammond is very full on this point.


to their office with fasting and prayer. They were, in fact, pastors of their respective flocks. They were those whom fourteen years afterwards Paul summoned from Ephesus and other neighbouring churches to Miletus, and exhorted with so much earnestness and warmth, that they would "take heed to the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost had made them overseers, to feed the church of God, which he purchased with his own blood." They were those, concerning whom Paul afterwards gave directions to Timothy and Titus ; that they should commit to other "faithful men" the truths which they had themselves received: being at the same time careful to "lay hands suddenly on no man," but to select those who were blameless, apt to teach, patient, lovers of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate, holding fast the faithful word, as they had been taught, that they might be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the "gainsayers."

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Then, further, they are those concerning whom the apostle gives injunction to the different churches, that "the elders which rule well should be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who la

3 So Clement, 1st Ep. states, that the apostles, as they carried the gospel through regions or cities, established their first fruits, (earliest and best converts,) as bishops, (i. e. elders,) and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. Sometimes one, sometimes more than one, was appointed to each congregation.

4 Ch. xx. 28. See also 1 Pet. v. 1-7. 5 Tit. i. 5-9. 1 Tim. iii. 2-4.

bour in the word and doctrine."

So he exhorts the Hebrews, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief."

Such was the first establishment of the christian church, as it exists, in substance, to this day, in all countries where the faith of Christ is professed as the religion of the land. The charge of a collected company whose abodes conveniently adjoined each other3 was assigned to elders or presbyters, one or more, who were overseers of that particular flock or fold. These, as we saw, were ordained, appointed, by the apostles; and they had deacons to assist them in their charge. When the increase of the church throughout the world, and the decrease in the number of the apostles as they gradually were called to their rest, made it impracticable that they should superintend the whole, they commissioned others who might first relieve, and then succeed them. Such was Titus in Crete, and Timothy at Ephesus. "For this cause," says Paul to Titus (i. 5.) "left I thee in Crete, that thou

6 1 Tim. v. 17.

8 παροικοι, as in our parishes.

91 Tim. iii. 12, &c.

7 1 Tim. xiii. 17.

'After a while, the title of overseer, or bishop, was confined to these. Originally, there was no distinction. A bishop was a presbyter, and a presbyter was a bishop. This appears in the passage cited in the text. St. Paul instructs Titus to ordain elders in every city, and then proceeds, in the next line, to describe these elders under the name of bishop. As likewise in

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