Chapter XIV. The Overseers, by Thomas Hughes Milner
Chapter XIV. The Overseers
(Paul) sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church, (and said), Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock over the which the holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God.
---Acts xx. 17, 28.
(Paul) sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church, (and said), Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock over the which the holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God.
---Acts xx. 17, 28.
- In the above quotation we find the three terms, presbuteroi, elders or seniors; episcopoi, bishops or overseers; and poimaino, to pastor or shepherd, applied to the same brethren, and that in relation to the one work in which they participated. Co-incident with this is 1 Pet. v. 1-4, where that apostle says: The elders who are among you I exhort, who am also an elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed; feed the flock of God that is among you, taking the oversight, (or literally, overseeing), not by constraint, but willingly, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; not as lords over the heritage, but as ensamples to the flock, and when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye also shall receive a crown of life that fadeth not away. It is thus certain that eldership, oversight, and pastorate, are terms expressive of the functions of one office. Eldership, or seniority, in both passages stands initial to the charges given to oversee and feed the flock. The combined duty of oversight and pastorate is given in charge to the senior brethren.
- Age, therefore, is the first requisite to the work of the Christian overseer and shepherd. Neither non-age, nor dotage, but simply age, is that which is denoted by presbuteros. A presbyter in apostolic use of speech is simply a senior. The zah-kehn of the Hebrews, the presbuteros of the Greeks, and the senex of the Latins, are the exact equivalents of the English senior, elder, or aged. With all peoples the aged have their appropriate place and standing in the commonwealth; from among the elders of Israel the Sanhedrin, or national council, was constituted; the magistracy of the Greeks was filled by their presbuteroi; and the senate of Rome took its name from its being composed of seniors. It has been reserved to apostate christendom to shew to the world such an inversion of the natural and divine constitution of things as savageism itself cannot parallel––the seniors systematically under the rule of the young!––beardless youths fresh from school set to oversee the aged!
- But age is not the only qualification. An aged person may be a mere babe in Christ. It is not merely length of days, but that in the divine life which qualifies for the oversight of the Christian flock. Thus Paul says: Not a novice (not a new convert), lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil, 1 Tim. iii. 6. Those who become Christians only with advancing years are not likely to be illustrious examples of the Christian character; theirs has been too long fashioned after this world to yield so perfectly to the mould of the new man as to form an example to the believers. It is not merely the general experience that accompanies age, but that experience which alone can be had in the family of God, the ecclesia of Christ, that fits for Christian oversight.
- This is the more manifest when we notice that the qualifications for this most honourable work are almost, if not altogether, of a moral or spiritual description. We do not at all find miraculous endowment specified in connexion with the bishoprick of the flock, nor yet particular mental ability. Excellence of life, faithful discipleship, lengthened Christian experience, unchallengeable piety, are the grand requisites. An overseer, says Paul, must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach, not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre, patient, not a brawler, not covetous, one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the house of God? Moreover, he must have a good report of those without, lest he fall into reproach, and the snare of the devil, 1 Tim. iii. 2-7. This blamelessness, chastity, watchfulness, modesty, good conduct, hospitality, aptness to teach, abstemiousness, non-quarrelsomeness, liberality, non-disputatiousness, ungraspingness, good domestic rule, and good report of all, are qualifications which ought to characterize every Christian senior. There is no attribute of character here which is not within the reach of the great body of the faithful. And those enumerated in Tit. i. 6-9 are precisely of similar import: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children, not accused of riot, or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
- We are particular to note this, because of the too common notions that transcendent talents, or highly cultivated intellect, are indispensable to this good work. But the apostle says no such thing. We certainly do not say that this work is beneath the highest gifts which the Head of the church has bestowed upon his body––we do not say that uncultured minds, any more than that unsanctified spirits, are adapted to this ministry; but we do say that great oratorical powers, and much learning, are not requisite to the faithful and successful discharge of its duties. The aptness to teach here spoken of implies neither public oratory, nor scholastic lore. It is simply that aptitude to instruct the ignorant and erring which any mind well trained in the doctrine of the Lord may be master of by practice. The holding fast of the faithful word as he has been taught will enable the senior both to exhort and convict the objector. The brother who perceiving from the sure word what is the mind of the Spirit, can aptly state the same, either in personal converse, or to the brethren in associated capacity, is apt to teach. We have the happiness to know most apt teachers in this most useful respect, who would shrink from attempting a lengthened, studied, public oration. We therefore entirely discard the notion that extraordinary gifts are needed to the fulfillment of this duty, and press the consideration of this upon the attention of all the believing, that they may perceive the responsibility which the Lord has laid upon the seniors in his flock.
- Not until the qualifications are distinctly perceived to be of this purely experimental type, will the Christian mind be emancipated from the unscriptural trammels and trappings of mere clerical officialism which has made a reproachful and mischievous sinecure, monopoly, and despotism of one of the most free, lowly, honourable, laborious, and useful of Christian services. Be it therefore further remarked, that in all the apostolic allusions to it, the modern restricted official notion is sought for in vain, while the practical, moral, matter-of-fact character of the work is everywhere manifest. It is altogether and everywhere a thing of example––a manner of life––a good work––not an office in the modern acceptation of the term at all. The word officium signifies duty. The doing of any good work which neighbourliness or relationship calls for, is truly the fulfilling of one’s office. Thus we properly say, in respect of any acts of kindness, that kind offices were rendered us. But while, since our translators have given us this Latin term in 1 Tim. iii.1, If any man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work, it is well to note its meaning as we have just done: it is further proper to observe that it has no business in this passage. Our translation, as all know, was made by most official episcopal authority against the most urgent protests alike of Baptist and Presbyterian dissent; and here we find, as elsewhere, the marks of the official bishop. Paul’s words are literally: “If any desire oversight, he desires good work.” The words, “the office of a bishop,” are given instead of the single term, episcopees, oversight, inspection, or superintendence. The apostle does not call it an office, but simply and truly, “good work;” and he interposes nothing between it and the desire of any Christian for it, other than the qualifications already noted.
- But not merely are hindrances to the work thus removed, but injunctions are solemnly given to the seniors to its due fulfilment. Thus writes Peter: The elders among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed; feed the flock of God among you, taking the oversight (literally, overseeing), not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as lords over the heritage, but as examples to the flock: and when the chief Shepherd shall appear, you also shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. And then the address immediately following: Likewise ye younger submit yourselves unto the elder, shews unmistakably that the word presbuteroi is used in the simple acceptation of seniors or elders. These, then, are exhorted to pastor––to shepherd––to feed the flock among them: they are to do this, overseeing, superintending, looking after the flock in their midst. They are not to look after distant flocks, but they are to confine their care to that surrounding them. And this not constrainedly, but willingly; not for sordid gain, but of a ready mind; not as lords over the heritage of the one Lord, but simply and emphatically as examples to the flock. And all under the eye of the chief Shepherd, and by the exalted anticipation that when he appears they shall receive from him the reward of their life-long labours, in an unfading crown of glory.
- Connecting the thought that this crown is to be looked for, in consideration of the faithful rendering of the shepherd’s work, with what is said in other passages, it appears that the Christian overseer is the steward or servant of the Lord, and not of men. An overseer, says Paul, must be blameless as the steward of God. A steward, of course, renders his account to, and receives his reward from the party from whom he holds his charge. Here, then, we find that the Lord reposes this particular trust concerning his flock in the seniors in its midst: he gives by his apostle the charge to them, saying––Elders, feed the flock,––Elders, oversee. They are encouraged to the work in expectancy of the great reward from him who gives the charge: they are warned, that, as stewards of God they are expected to be blameless. The brethren are enjoined to obey them, and submit to them, as those who watch for their souls, and who must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief, Heb. xiii. 17. Certainly, the account here spoken of is that which must be rendered to God, shewing that he holds those responsible for the flock whom he has charged to watch over it. Unquestionably it is the possessor of the flock who holds the right to appoint the shepherds; so that, if the disciples of Jesus be his sheep––if he be the good, the chief Shepherd,––if the flock be his heritage, it must be his prerogative to name those who are to oversee it. This is what we contend for respecting this most onerous duty. In every passage that treats on the subject we find the patronage––the right of gift––the bestowment of the shepherds, lies not with men, not with the church, but the Head of the church. When he ascended on high he gave gifts to men....And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. The univocal doctrine of Scripture is, that shepherds are as much the gift of the sovereign Jesus as apostles or prophets. There is not a vestige of Scripture authority for a man-made or man-given pastorate. Paul told the elders of the church in Ephesus that the holy Spirit had made them overseers of the flock of God; and he wrote the church that Christ had given them pastors. Everywhere and every way the bishops are a divine gift: the duty of oversight is a God-given charge to the seniors in Christ.
- This being so, we find not a trace in Scripture of human “calls” and “elections” to the pastorate. It is not in the province of any, save the blessed and only Potentate, to call or elect to this service. Popes, emperors, kings, premiers, patrons, councils, conferences, presbyteries, and churches, do neither more nor less than act the usurper of the crown rights of the King of saints whenever they interpose their call or election to the oversight of the flock of God. No power on earth can constitute a Christian bishop. Christ has nominated the seniors of his flock to the work of oversight, and the work, therefore, devolves on them, altogether irrespective of the let or hindrance of any earthly tribunal or potentate. Let all who revere the authority of the Lord Messiah pause, and find his warrant for human call or election to this service, ere they make themselves parties to the transaction. Let every Christian senior see to it, whether the Lord does not hold him responsible for the overseeing and pastoring of the flock according to gift and opportunity.
- And as in Scripture we find no calls nor elections to this work, neither do we discover any resignations of the office. These acceptances and resignations are only parts of human systems. Neither they nor their adjuncts are traceable beyond the lines of the apostasy. The nomenclature connected therewith is as barbarous a speech as could possibly be compared with the pure language of heaven. Where read we of the Rev. Doctor So-and-so “accepting a unanimous call” to any “church and congregation?” or of the Rev. Mr. This-or-that “resigning the pastorate,” or of any presbytery “moderating in a call,” or “sustaining a call,” or “publishing a moderation,” or “licensing a preacher,” or “appointing one to preach a church vacant?” Where read we of “a destitute church,” “waiting for some one to break to it the bread of life,” or of “the pastor,” or “the minister of the church?” The whole, from beginning to end, is barbarously foreign to apostolic speech and practise.
- And worse still. It is the degrading of a free, willing, and an honourable service, to a well-suspected means of living. There is no trace in all the New Testament of a hired pastorate. So far from the elders, overseers, or shepherds, getting their livelihood from their pastorate, they are expressly enjoined to work with their hands, that they may have to give to those who need. It was on purpose that he might be an example to the presbyters that Paul himself, though entitled to support as an apostle, eschewed it, and toiled and laboured night and day. Thus his charge to the elders of the church in Ephesus: I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Ye yourselves know that these hands have ministered to my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring, ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive, Acts xx. 33-35. This agrees with the directions to Timothy and Titus, that the overseers be lovers of, and given to, hospitality, and with Peter’s exhortation, that they “feed the flock not for filthy lucre.” Nor is there a single passage in contrariety to these. We know that special pleading has sought to wrest other Scriptures into the sanction of a pecuniarily supported pastorate, but it is as manifest as sunlight that the passages relied on teach no such doctrine. They are Luke x. 7; 1 Cor. ix. 1-19; Gal. vi. 6; 1 Tim. v. 17, 18. The first three passages refer not to pastorate at all, and the fourth says nothing of money or means. Luke reports the Saviour’s charge to the seventy apostles. Paul argues with the Corinthians for his own right of maintenance with that of the other evangelists, from the churches they had planted; and to the Galatians he says, that those taught in the word are to communicate of all good things, not to the elders, but to the teachers, evidently in the sense of evangelist, whose avocation, as already shewn (publisher’s note: i.e., shewn in an earlier chapter of the author’s treatise), engrosses the teaching of the word here spoken of. And as to 1 Tim. v. 17, 18, Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine; for the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn, and the labourer is worthy of his reward, the apostle’s statement is neither more nor less than this, that as corn is appropriate to the ox treading it out, and reward to the labourer, so is honour to those elders who rule well, particularly such as labour more abundantly. The expositor would be laughed at who would argue for a double share of corn to those elders, from the fact that the industrious ox gets his supply; but this is no less a blunder than the argument for “a higher stipend” because the labourer gets his remuneration. The present reward of the Christian elder is appropriate esteem, and the final reward is a crown of life. So saith the Scripture.
- These calls and elections, with their stipends and other concomitants of acceptances and resignations, are not only mere inventions of men, but they are inventions which utterly make void the commandments of God. The command is, that the seniors oversee, and that the younger submit. But by those traditions these simple, explicit, undeniable commands are held to be utopian, extravagant, and absurd. What, it is asked, would you have men venture upon this solemn work of themselves, without being called and chosen to it? Certainly not. But when we find that God by his Son, his Spirit, and his apostles, has expressed his call and election to the effect that the seniors oversee, it is not “of themselves,” nor without being “the called and chosen,” that they feed the flock. Were they to assume this work without the divine nomination to it which they have in the exhortation of Peter, it would indeed be of themselves, or, at the best, by the mere unauthorised call and election of men. But when the injunction is so explicitly given, the presumption exists not in experienced, faithful Christian men doing as bid, but in their failing to do so. What! is it presumption to obey God? Must the seniors of Christ ask license of their junior brethren to obey the Lord? Never was there anything more absurd than this––that a flock elect its shepherds! that the shepherds wait the authorisation of the sheep to tend them! that when the chief Shepherd says, Feed my sheep, the answer is, “Lord, it would be presumption; we must get the authorization of the flock before we can obey thee; we cannot recognize thy authority alone in this matter; nothing is plainer than thy command to the elders to oversee, but we must defer to the flock, not to thee; the sheep would say we assumed if we obeyed thee without their leave in this business; and, Lord, we are too humble to have this said of us; what thou wilt say does not concern us so much.”
- To frighten men from duty is an old device of the adversary. Men have verily thought that it would prove a most dangerous thing to put the Bible into the hands of the common people! It has been most prophetically foretold that the church was in danger by the removal of the sword of state from its side! And there are still three bodies that meet in annual congress in Scotia’s capital (publisher’s note: i.e., Scotland’s capital, or Edinburgh) whose constitution regards it as anarchy to let men preach Christ without a presbyterial license! But he that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. He is doing his work despite the imagination of these vain things, and the gathering of the rulers together. From the days of the apostles till now it has been by the free circulation of his Word, by the unfettered, willing service of his people, that his truth and kingdom have advanced. And while some have learned so far as to perceive that every Christian may and should preach the gospel, they would tolerate this only by the fireside and wayside, or in the streets and lanes; they could not think of permitting it “in the great congregation.” They will quote the words of Moses: Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, but take good care that if they prophesy, it shall be outside, not within the camp; forgetful that prophesying serveth not for him that believeth not, but for him that believeth. But there are others who have got the length of admitting that liberty of ministry in teaching, in the church, according to the oracles, and according to grace given, is scriptural, and not after all to be scouted as utopian, and deprecated as fanatical and dangerous. Yet there are not a few of these who perceive not the simplicity and adaptation of the divine order respecting oversight. That freedom and simplicity which they acknowledge to be scriptural, safe, and edifying, as respects preaching and teaching, they are not prepared to allow in regard to pastorate. Yet they cannot deny that the three kinds of service stand together in the same category––that just as the Messiah gives evangelists and teachers, so he gives pastors––that the gift in all three cases is his––that he raises, or is prepared to raise, in his own way, without the intervention of human calls and elections, overseers, as well as preachers and teachers––that if the license of a church, or church court, be not scriptural as respects preaching and teaching, neither is it in regard to pastorate––that if knowledge, gift, talent, grace, experience, and opportunity qualify under the directions of the Word in these two branches of labour, so do they in this latter. Yet this is the truth of God.
- And what is there to cause doubt as to the safety of the divine order? Was Peter a propounder of anarchy when he exhorted the elders to oversee the flock unconstrainedly, unavariciously, undespotically, willingly, readily, exemplarily? Why, if the call and election, the leave and license of men, be necessary or advisable, have we no such safeguards intimated in Scripture? We cannot, by any view we can take, discover aught that is not safe and edifying in committing the oversight of the ecclesia to the blameless, faithful seniors in its midst. We cannot conceive any danger from giving them to realize that the Lord holds them to be responsible to him for the overseeing and tending of his flock. But the history of the sects abounds with examples of shipwreck under the reign of human expediency. When is it that a church is really perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment, in the call and election of a pastor? Why is it, if the vote of the electing church be, as is pretended, “the voice of God,” that the counter-requisition of the reclaiming congregation sets forth the conviction that it is “the will of God” that the pastor should continue in the bosom of the bride of his first espousals? How comes it, if the ecclesia be one body, that the deacons or elders of one church are sent literally as spies to “a sister church,” to tempt away the minister from his flock, over which it was so piously said at his ordination, the Lord has set him? How is it, if the ministry be not a secular trade, but a holy, heavenly calling, its money value is an invariable item in the stipulations? How is it, if it be the doing of the Lord, that churches are so continuously murmuring, quarreling, splitting, sinking under the system?
- Never can the safety and well-being of the churches be secured until the seniors in the faith realize and act out their liberty and responsibility in the doing of oversight work. To what are we to trace the almost continual complainings of church members of non-visitation, the lamentable deficiency in the adornment of the doctrine of God our Saviour by so large a proportion of professed Christians, and the yet more melancholy excess of defection from the faith, but to the almost utter want of oversight, which the systems of the sects entail? Every one knows how common it is for “the minister” to excuse himself by saying that “it is impossible for him to visit his flock so often as he could wish.” A hurried, professionally intimated call once a year, when the whole house is duly prepared to receive the pastor’s visit, and he comes, and is struck with the order, decorum, and piety of the family––as well got up for the occasion as his own sermons for a sacramental Sunday,––is the sum of the pastorate for which they pay so well. This, and more, for we know of not a few households in this clerical capital where “the visitation” has occurred not oftener than once in three, five, and even fifteen years! It would be everyway as wise and prudent to put a ship, with a crew of threescore veterans, under the pilotage of the last shipped cabin boy, as to play the immeasurably more serious farce of ordaining the youngster just from college to the sole charge of the combined duties of preacher, teacher, and pastor. But let the churches have the benefit of the free, unbought, willing oversight of all the faithful men of experience and piety, whom the Lord has raised up in their midst, and thus should we have in each church such a presbytery, for number and character, as guided and guarded the first churches.
- As there is no example in Scripture of one pastor for each church, neither is there any for one bishop, or one presbytery over many churches. Each church had its elders, who formed its presbytery or senate. That the number was considerable in large churches is evident both from the consideration that all the faithful, experienced, gifted seniors, formed the eldership, and from the language of Acts xx. 36, 37, respecting the elders of the church in Ephesus, whose number must have been considerable when it is said Paul “prayed with them all,” and that “they all wept sore.” A bare plurality does not satisfy the descriptions of Scripture; it would be a very small church indeed that had only two or three.
- And even those churches that have a plurality come short of its advantages by putting themselves under the presidency of but one at a time. There is nothing in Scripture for one of the elders occupying, by himself alone, even for one day, the sole oversight. Much more is assumed in such cases than is warranted. The brethren are not enjoined to obey him, but them who have the rule over them, Heb. xiii. 7, 17, 24.
- The duties of the elders comprise the oversight of the brethren, both when met together, and during the intervals of meeting. There are two terms used besides the word poimaino, to feed, tend, or pastor, Acts xx. 28; 1 Pet. v. 2, namely heegeomai, to lead, to guide, to go before, Heb. xiii. 7, 17, 24, and kuberneesis, governing, or directing, or piloting, 1 Cor. xii. 28. Regarding the feeding of the flock, it is to be done by speaking the word of God; Remember those who guide you, who have spoken unto you the word of God. Nothing else is spiritual food. So 1 Pet. ii. 2, As new-born babes, desire the sincere (unmixed) milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby. But this feeding of the flock, this speaking of the word of God, is associated with corresponding example. The guidance consists in the proper precept and example combined: so the entire passage runs. Obey those who lead you, who have spoken unto you the word of God, whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation, (i.e., conduct), Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. The seniors who had lived, like Paul, a life of faith on the Son of God, were ensamples to the flock; the brethren were called to be imitators of them, even as they also were of Christ. Their obedience and submission, therefore, were but the homage which the children of God will ever rejoice to render to moral worth, to exalted piety, to Christian character, to conformity to the likeness of Him who is the chief among the many brethren. It is only to this extent that obedience is commanded. 1 Thess. v. 12, 13, puts this beyond question: We beseech you, brethren, to know those who labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love, for their work’s sake. The word heegeomai, rendered rule in Heb. xiii. 7, 17, 24, is here translated esteem; so also in Phil. ii. 3, Let each esteem others better than himself. Proving that the rule or leading referred to is purely of a moral kind, that it consists in such guidance as naturally evokes the esteem, and thereby the submission of the faithful. The other remaining term, kuberneesis, directing, or piloting, occurs only in 1 Cor. xii. 28, and is no exception to this rule. Such elders are the most likely of all to pilot the bark safely through the most troubled waters. Against such government there is no law. What man in his senses would say that a church could have too many of such guides, such shepherds, such overseers? What Christian man should not seek the attainment of such an experience, and such a character as would fit him for so honourable position as that of a pillar in the temple of his God?
- With such an eldership any church could ride safely at anchor amid the greatest storm. For there is no power so influential with the good as Christian excellence. And with the united experience of a body of such men to guide the affairs of the church, and especially by their following the primitive example of deliberation and agreement among themselves, in order to ascertain the will of God before bringing the particular business before the church, disunion and disaster become all but impossible. That it is the duty of these leading brethren thus to consult and agree before bringing any cause before the ecclesia, is evident from the facts, first, that Paul communicated his own case at first privately to those who were of reputation, Gal. ii. 1-9; second, that in delivering his farewell charge to the elders, he called them, not the whole church, to him; and, third, that in the question of the keeping of the law, the apostles and elders came together to consider the matter, Acts xv. 6. Only by this rule can the churches be saved from debate and strife; and it is expressly enjoined that they do all things without murmurings and disputings, that they may be blameless and harmless the sons of God, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, Phil. ii. 14, 15.
- The ordaining of elders is the part of those brethren who have been instrumental in planting the church, and training its membership for the work of the ministry. It is simply a confirming of them in the service for which they have already manifested their aptness, and a commendation of them to God for his blessing. There are two words rendered ordain in our common version in connexion with this question; kathisteemi, to set, Tit. i. 5; kirotoneo, to stretch out the hand, thereby to ordain, Acts xiv. 23. The former term occurs in Acts xvii. 15, where the brethren set or conducted Paul on his way; also in Acts vi. 3, the apostles laying hands on the seven, set them over the service of tables. Because that the hand is stretched out in voting, the attempt has been made to establish the popular election of elders from Acts xiv. 23, which says that Paul and Barnabas confirmed the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and ordained them elders in each church, with prayer and fasting, commending them to the Lord on whom they believed. But it is overlooked that kirotoneo is predicated not of the churches, but of Paul and Barnabas, who planted them. It was they who stretched forth their hands, and so with prayer and fasting ordained the elders, commending them to the Lord. The fact that the upholders of the election of pastors are driven to this passage for support of the practice, is the best proof possible of its unscripturalness. Beza, a chief protestant father of the system, in his partizan zeal, so far forgot the duty of the translator, that he had the audacity to interpolate this passage with the additional words, per suffragia. Dr. G. Campbell of Aberdeen, himself a dignitary, elected to his honours by the very system of suffrage which Beza sought thus to canonize, says, respecting this attempt: “I cannot help declaring that the version which the vulgate has given of this passage, Et quum constituassent illis presbyteros, fully expresses the sense of the Greek, and, consequently, that the words, per suffragia, are a mere interpolation, for the sake of answering a particular purpose.” It is only by tradition, dating from the second century, long before which, Paul’s prediction to the Ephesian elders, that of themselves would men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them, began to be fulfilled––it is only by tradition, dating from its fulfilment in the contests of the bishops for power, that we find the doctrine that the right of election rested with the church. Neander, though an advocate for this figment, quotes one of the earliest of the Fathers, Clement of Rome, the reputed disciple of Paul, to this effect, that elders were appointed by approved men, the whole church consenting. Thus the last trace of popular election disappears as we near the apostolic age.