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JT on common sense

A Few First Principles of Common Sense

Addressed to those who possess this sense common only to the few.

God is power. All power in the universe emanates from Him. Two kinds of power may be said to operate all its diversified effects -- physical and moral. Physical force of power splits rocks, overturns mountains, engulfs cities, etc, and is always subordinate to, and executive of, moral or legislative power.

All power exercised by men is vested, and administered only by the permission of God. The fact that God permits a thing to be done is no proof that He approves it. Thus He permits men to legislate, but does not approve their legislation. The original, underived right of giving laws to mankind is the sole and absolute prerogative of Jehovah. Moses and Jesus are the only two persons in whom He has vested the authority of promulgating codes of law; all other lawgivers, "sacred and profane" are rebels, traitors, and usurpers of the rights of these two. Hence no man, though permitted, has any right to introduce a single law, custom or regulation into society in general, much less into the church of Jesus Christ in particular.

God, being omnipotent, can impart as much power, and to whom, as He pleases. No community of men can of right exercise, or impart to others, more authority than is vested in themselves. No exercise of authority is just or right, which is not sanctioned by God.

The commands of Jesus are authentic, and ought to be obeyed, because they are attested by God; and so ought those of the Apostles for the same reason. The decrees of Popes, Councils, Archbishops, Patriarchs, General Assemblies, Synods, Presbyteries, or Associations of any kind; -- or those of Reverends of whatever title, ought not to be obeyed, because they are not attested by God. They are all apostate and antichristian.

All legitimate power or authority is vested in the congregation of the true believers. "The Church is the pillar and the support of the truth." It has been transmitted, not by clerical succession, but from Jehovah to Jesus, from Jesus to the Apostles, from the Apostles to the faithful, who have retained it to this day.

Though vested with Divine Authority, the faithful can only of right exercise it in conformity with the letter and spirit of the written word. Before an assembly of believers can spiritually or legitimately administer the affairs of the body, the many must individually understand the scriptures concerning those affairs. If the persons, who compose the many, or majority, of a church be ignorant of what the scriptures teach concerning the government of the congregation, their proceeding will be unwarrantable, and therefore not binding on the few who may be enlightened.

As the power, or authority, is vested in the whole church, no individual can of right do anything in said congregation unless called upon so to act by those in whom the power resides; that is, by the many. If every member knew the will of God and would do it, all appointments would necessarily be unanimous. The cause of differences is two-fold; first, ignorance, and secondly, an indisposition to obey the truth when known. Unity of practice is sure to ensue from a knowledge of, and disposition to obey the truth. The means, therefore, that ought to be adopted to attain this desirable end, is to study the scriptures diligently with an honest determination to do whatever they require to be done. The truth is ascertained by testimony. All honest men who think can judge of testimony: if then, two adverse propositions be maintained, the one by this side, the other by that, that should be received, which is sustained by the most testimony -- evidence, not votes, should decide; for by two or three witnesses, not by votes, shall every thing be established.

A vote is a voice, affirmatively or negatively given. To decide by vote is to decide by the numbers for or against a proposition. Numeration cannot determine truth; it can determine the strength of parties. To rule by numbers is to substitute the authority of men for that of God. It is the stratagem of the Anti-christ -- a scheme of the devil to supersede the wholesome and efficient monarchy of Jesus. A vote may convey authority, but it cannot administer laws -- it may make them, but in no instance can it apply them.

The Mediatorial Institution is a Kingdom. Its laws and ordinances were appointed by the Monarch. Nothing remains now but to administer them. No assembly of believers can of right say, that these laws shall not be enforced; no vote of a majority can of right impede their administration. To introduce republican maxims and principles into a monarchial institution, and especially that of the Kingdom of Jesus, is to set up rebellion against the authority of the King. Monarchism and Republicanism are incompatible -- one or other must succumb.

Seeing that the many, or majority, cannot en masse administer the laws, and knowing from precepts and examples that some must, upon the principle that a body without discipline cannot long exist, certain of that body must be invested with administrative authority. This authority can only legitimately be conveyed by the many, appointing persons answering to the apostolic description as near as can be, to the offices ordained of God through the apostles of Christ. Persons appointed to the deaconship have a right to all authority necessary for the discharge of the functions thereof; and so in respect to those who are chosen to the administration of the laws.

To entrust power or authority to others, is to surrender to them the right of doing all that the many could of right do; always reserving to itself the privilege of its resumption. Power delegated, or entrusted to others, can no longer be independently exercised by the many, until it be by them resumed. This power when entrusted to a plurality of persons, can only be legally exercised by or with the consent of the majority of those to whom it is conveyed. When the majority of the elders of a church do an act in the presence of the congregation, according to scripture, precedent or rule, it is the majority of said church that acts; for the majority of all assemblies acts through its constituted authorities.

No eldership or executive, can have power enough, that does not possess sufficient to acquit itself of the responsibilities imposed upon it by the Legislative organ. In a congregation of Christians, the elders do not possess as much power as the scriptures entitle them to, who cannot effect the expulsion of a factious, a drunken, or otherwise disorderly member, contrary to the vote of a majority. No organization of a church can be scriptural, which prevents the carrying into effect the precepts of the Apostles.

They who are empowered by the many, according to the scriptural rule, are authorized by God; because constituted according to His appointment: and to them, therefore, it is the duty of all to submit themselves, as to those who watch for their souls and must give an account: that they may do this with joy, and not with mourning; for that would be unprofitable.

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