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Written by G.M. Thompson   

The Measuring Rod - 1861

The office of a deacon is considered next in im­portance to that of a minister. All the difference the apostle makes in the qualifications of the two is that the minister must be “apt to teach,” and this is not required of a deacon. There is a greater deficiency among the Primitive Baptists in a deacon’s office than in almost any other one thing. Many of our deacons act as though they had noth­ing to do but to carry the bread and wine around on sacramental occasions, and, with me, it is a question whether this really belongs to their duty or not. I have no objections to their doing it, but I can see nothing in the scripture why any other member might not do it as well as them, and with as much propriety. (I agree---DM)


If the seven chosen by the disciples were deacons, their duties were, evidently, connected with the temporal concerns of the church. If he is to transact business for the church, and the money of the church is to pass through his hands, it is re­quired that he should be honest, and that he should be a man that knows how to transact business. If by using the office of a deacon well, he gets to him­self a good degree and great boldness in the faith, he must be a man who will pray in public and will speak in public, and will not be backward in exhort­ing his brethren to a faithful discharge of duty.

The ancient practice of deacons, among Primi­tive Baptists, was to lead in worship at prayer-meetings, and if the pastor was not present, to lead at other meetings. If there were any poor in the church, he looked after them and brought their case before the church so that they might be assisted and comforted by the church. They would also visit the pastor and ascertain his needs, and inform the church of them, and exhort the church to her duty. This part of a deacon’s duty is seldom thought of now-a-days, and many a poor pastor has suffered on account of the deacon’s neglect. The church looks to him as a leader, and expects him to lay such things before them. I have seldom known a deacon to be faithful in the discharge of his duty, and the pastor be neglected by the church. It would be happy for us if we would return to our old practice in these things, and if our deacons would feel the responsibilities of their office and try to fill them as faithful stewards in the kingdom of Christ.

The deacon should feel an interest in the pros­perity of the church, and should be a peace-maker, and should have an eye to the pulpit to guard it against false doctrines, and if he knows of any dis­order in the church he should labor to remove it and to reclaim an erring brother. He should be well in­structed in the discipline of the church, and should not allow business to come improperly before it. In all cases of difficulty between members, they should try to get it settled before bringing it before the church, if possible. I would advise all deacons to read I Tim. 3:8-13 and try to be such a one as Paul there describes.

Bishops or elders and deacons are all the officers the Scriptures speak of as belonging to the church, but God has bestowed on her a variety of gifts, and each member should improve the gift he may have.

In a great building every material has its place to fill; and every member in Christ’s church has its place to fill—all are not eyes, or hands, or feet, but all are useful in the body, and one cannot say to the other, “I have no need of thee.”

The church is but one body, and all her members are called by one Spirit, in one hope of their calling, one Lord, one faith, and one baptism: The church is not a great, universal establishment, but it is a local organization and has Christ, and Christ alone, for its King and law-giver, and owes obedience to him and none other. It is His church just as long as it obeys him, and faithfully obeys his laws, and no longer. It cannot apostatize and change its laws and ordinances, and still remain the church of Christ. The church may err, and if it repents he will not spew it out of his mouth; but if it persists in error he will remove the candlestick out of its place. Every act of a church, not done in accordance with the laws of Christ, is a nullity, and no member is bound to respect it. No society has the right to administer the ordinances and execute the laws of Christ’s kingdom but his church; and to be his church it must be formed according to the New Testament model or pattern.

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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.