IT is a matter of surprise to some persons, that the ecclesiastical system under which we find ourselves, is so faintly enjoined on us in Scripture. One very sufficient explanation of the fact will be found in considering that the Bible is not intended to teach us matters of discipline so much as matters of faith; i.e. those doctrines, the reception of which are necessary to salvation. But another reason may be suggested, which is well worth our attentive consideration.
The Gospel is a Law of Liberty. We are treated as sons, not as servants; not subjected to a code of formal commands, but addressed as those who love GOD, and wish to please Him. When a man gives orders to those whom he thinks will mistake him, or are perverse, he speaks pointedly and explicitly; but when he gives directions to friends, he will trust much to their knowledge of his feelings and wishes, he leaves much to their discretion, and tells them not so much what he would have done in detail, as what are the objects he would have accomplished. Now this is the way CHRIST has spoken to us under the New Covenant; and apparently with this reason, to try us, whether or not we really love Him as our LORD and SAVIOUR.
Accordingly, there is no part, perhaps, of the ecclesiastical system, which is not faintly traced in Scripture, and no part which is much more than faintly traced. The question which a reverend and affectionate faith will ask, is, "what is most likely to please CHRIST?" And this is just the question that obtains an answer in Scripture; which contains just so much as intimations of what is most likely to please Him. Of course different minds will differ as to the degree of clearness with which this or that practice is enjoined, yet I think no one will consider the state of the case, as I have put it, exaggerated on the whole.