Ecclesiastical Tyranny

By | June 27, 2012

Ecclesiastical Tyranny

From “The Ruling Elder”  by Samuel Miller

We know that ministers are subject to the same frailties and imperfections with other men. We know, too, that a love of pre-eminence and of power is not only natural to them, in common with others; but that this principle, very early after the days of the Apostles, began to manifest itself as the reigning sin of ecclesiastics, and produced, first Prelacy, and afterwards Popery, which has so long and so ignobly enslaved the Church of Christ. Does not this plainly show the folly and danger of yielding undefined  power to pastors alone?  Is it wise or safe to constitute one man a despot over a whole Church? Is it proper to intrust to a single individual the weighty and complicated work of inspecting, trying, judging, admitting, condemning, excluding, and restoring, without control?  Ought the members of a Church to consent that all their rights and privileges in reference to Christian communion, should be subject to the will of a single man, as his partiality, kindness, and favoritism, on the one hand; or his caprice, prejudice, or passion, on the other, might dictate?  Such a mode of conducting the government of the Church, to say nothing of its unscriptural character, is, in the highest degree, unreasonable and dangerous. It can hardly fail to exert an influence of the most injurious character, both on the clergy and laity. It tends to nurture in the former, a spirit of selfishness, pride and ambition; and instead of ministers of holiness, love, and mercy, to transform them into ecclesiastical tyrants. While its tendency, with regard to the latter, is gradually to beget in them a blind, implicit submission to clerical domination. The ecclesiastical encroachments and despotism of former times, already alluded to, read us a most instructive lesson on this subject.  The fact is, committing the whole government of the Church to the hands of pastors alone, may be affirmed to carry in it some of the worst seeds of Popery; which, though under the administration of good men, they may not at once lead to palpable mischief, will seldom fail in producing, in the end, the most serious evils, both to those who govern, and those who obey.

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