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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

But is to be reckoned an usurping Diotrephes


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Hence, he that subjects his

ministry to the domination of a strange lord, inverting the nature of gospel church-government, cannot be owned in his ministry; but all curates subject their ministry, &c. Therefore----2. Because he is an officer distinct from, and superior to a presbyter or pastor; whereas the scripture makes a bishop and presbyter all one. The elders of the church of Ephesus are called episcopi or overseers, Acts xx. 17, 28. An ordained elder must be a blameless bishop, as the steward of God, Tit. i. 5, 7. Again, it cannot be shown, where the scripture mentions either name, qualification, work, duty, or ordination of an ordinary church-officer superior to presbyters, and which are not likewise appropriate to them who are called rulers, governors, bishops. In all the holy Ghost's purposed recitals of ordinary church-officers, there is not the least hint of a diocesan bishop; and yet a deacon is described the meanest officer in his work and qualifications. Hence then, if this diocesan prelate be such an uncouth beast, that neither in name nor nature is found in the word of God, all the power derived from him is null; but the first is true: therefore----3. Because every officer in the scripture relates to the flock (except the extraordinary officers, who were further extended, now ceased) bishops of Ephesus, were overseers over the flock, Acts xx. the elders that Peter writes to were over the flock. But this diocesan antiscriptural monster pretends to be over the shepherds, and invents new
degrees and orders of superiority and inferiority of officers of the same kind, beside and against the scripture, which makes all apostles alike, and all evangelists, so all teachers; though there be a distinction and superiority in diverse kinds, yet not in same. God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, 1 Cor. xii. 28. but not among teachers, some above others, in a power of order and jurisdiction. Hence, an officer over officers of the same kind, is not an officer of Christ's institution, and consequently any power conveyed from him is null; but a prelate pretends to be an officer, over officers of the same kind: therefore, 4. Because every officer in the church hath equally, and in perfect parity, equal power and authority allowed them of God in the exercise of both order and jurisdiction; all ruling elders may rule alike, and deserve equal honour; and all preaching elders have the like authority, and the like honour conferred upon them, 1 Tim. vi. 17. The scripture attributes both power of order and jurisdiction; to all preaching presbyters equally. They must oversee the flock (or as the word is, do the part of a bishop over them) Acts xx. 28. and they must also feed the flock, 1 Pet. v. 2. Subjection and obedience is due to them all alike: all that are over us and admonish us, we must esteem highly for their work's sake, 1 Thes. v. 12. and obey and submit ourselves to them that watch for our souls, Heb. xiii. 17. We find also excommunication belongs to all alike, 2 Cor. ii. 6. and ordination, 1 Tim. iv. 14. But the diocesan prelate takes from presbyters to himself power of ordination, assuming only his curates for fashion's sake, and the sole decisive power in church judicatories, wherein he hath a negative voice; like a Diotrephes, the first prelate who loved to have the pre-eminence, 3 John 9. the only precedent for prelacy in the scripture. Hence, he that would take all power to himself, which is undivided and equal to all officers by Christ's appointment, hath none by Christ's allowance, but is to be reckoned an usurping Diotrephes; but the Diocesan prelate would take all the power to himself, which is undivided and equal to all. By all which it appears, the prelate being no authorized church-officer of Christ's, no authority can be derived from him; and so that such as betake themselves to this pretended power, for warranting them in the function, can warrantably claim no deference thereupon, nor can be owned as ministers, whatever they were before. 'For this were an acknowledging of the power and authority of prelates (especially when the law commands our hearing as a submitting to them.) The reason is, because these men came forth from the prelate, having no other call or warrant but what the prelate giveth: and so a receiving of them will be a receiving of the prelate, as a refusing of them will be accounted a slighting of the prelate and his power,' Apol. Relat. 15. p. 272.


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