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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Of Ruling Elders

By The Cambridge Platform

Drawn up and adopted by the New England Synod in 1648.

[A Platform of Church Discipline. 1649.]

CHAPTER VII.—1. The ruling elder’s office is distinct from the office of pastor and teacher (Rom. xii. 7, 8, 9; I. Tim. v. 17; I. Cor. xii. 28; Heb. xiii. 17; I. Tim. v. 17); the ruling elders are not so called to exclude the pastors and teachers from ruling, because ruling and governing is common to these with the other; whereas attending to teach and preach the word is peculiar unto the former.

2. The ruling elder’s work is to join with the pastor and teacher in those acts of spiritual rule, which are distinct from the ministry of the word and sacraments committed to them (I. Tim. v. 17; II. Chron. xxiii. 19; Rev. xxi. 12; I. Tim. iv. 14; Matt. xviii. 17; II. Cor. ii. 7, 8; Acts ii. 6; Acts xxi. 18, 22, 23). Of which sort these be as followeth: 1, To open and shut the doors of God’s house, by the admission of members approved by the church; by ordination of officers chosen by the church, and by excommunication of notorious and obstinate offenders renounced by the church, and by restoring of penitents forgiven by the church. 2, To call the church together when there is occasion (Acts vi. 2, 3; and xiii. 15), and seasonably to dismiss them again. 3, To prepare matters in private, that in public they may be carried to an end with less trouble, and more speedy dispatch. (II. Cor. viii. 19; Heb. xiii. 7, 17; II. Thess. ii. 10, 11, 12.) 4, To moderate the carriage of all matters in the church assembled, as to propound matters to the church. To order the season of speech and silence, and to pronounce sentence according to the mind of Christ, with the consent of the church. 5, To be guides and leaders to the church in all matters whatsoever pertaining to church-administrations and actions. 6, To see that none in the church live inordinately, out of rank and place without a calling, or idly in their calling. (Acts xx. 28, 32; I. Thess. v. 12; Jam. v. 14; Acts xx. 20.) 7, To prevent and heal such offences in life or in doctrine as might corrupt the church. 8, To feed the flock of God with a word of admonition. 9, And, as they shall be sent for, to visit and pray over their sick brethren. 10, And at other times, as opportunity shall serve thereunto.