A RETRAYT SOVNDED TO CER­taine brethren, lately seduced by the Schismaticall Brownists to forsake the Church.

Written by Edward Iames, Master in the Artes, and Minister of Gods word.

Printed at London by Simon Stafford, dwelling in the Cloth-Fayre, neere the red Lyon. 1607.

A RETRAIT SOVNDED to certaine brethren, lately seduced by the Schismaticall Brownists, to forsake the Church.

THE Philosophers in old time did account it humanum errare, in matters Philosophicall, a thing incident to man to erre: but in errore perseuerare, belluinum, a beastly thing to perse­uere in error. And Diuines may iudge it hu­manum, a thing incident to man, to erre in matters Theologicall: but in errore perseuerare perniciosum, to perseuere in error, that in matters Theologicall must needs be deadly: especially if a man doth so cleaue to error, that he chooseth rather to forsake the Church, then to forgoe his errour: for seeing the Church is the mother of the faithfull, whosoeuer doth cut himselfe there-from, he must needs be faith­lesse: and therefore what goodly shewes soeuer he doth make, yet if the Apostles wordes be true, he cannot please God: Euery man therfore that would be acceptable vnto God, had neede to get himselfe into the bosome of the Church, and being once got­ten thither, not to suffer himselfe in any wise, to be remoued there-from. For as none could be deliuered from the deluge, but such as were contained in Noabs Arke: so can none be sa­ued from eternall death, but onely those who keepe themselues within the Church of God. These are common principles, which no man that accounts himselfe a Christian, can or will deny.

But the controuersie which doth trouble seduced braines, is of the Church it selfe: what it is, & where it should be sought for. Papists would tye the Church to Rome: so that if we credit them, [Page]then must we confesse, that as many as made a separation from the Romane Bishop, haue likewise made a separation from the Church of God. And all other Sectaries doe tye the Church vnto their sects: whereas it were farre fitter for euery man to tye him­selfe vnto the Church: which that we may with ease performe, it is very fit and meete, first, to define the vniuersall Church, that we may know what it is: secondly, to expresse and lay downe the true notes and markes, whereby true particular Churches (which are very members of that vniuersall Church) may be knowne from other congregations: which when we haue once found out, then may we cleaue vnto the Church with great security.

The word Ecclesia, in English, Church, is a Greeke word, & doth properly signifie a congregation: and yet euery congrega­tion is not the Church of God; but that congregation onely, which Saint Paul doth tearmeEphe. 4. [...]er. 12. [...]. Cor. 12.12. Christs body, of the which Christ himselfe is head. And as the soule of man giueth life vnto mans body: so Christs spirit giueth life vnto this body of Christ; accor­ding vnto Christs words: [...]ohn 6. v. 6. [...]. Cor. 12. [...]er. 13. It is the spirit which giueth life, &c.

Neither is there any thing which doth maintaine, and ioyne in one, the members of this body, besides this spirit, according vn­to that of Paul, For by one spirit, saith he, are we all baptized into one body, whether we be lewes, or Grecians, bond, or free, &c. Euen as therefore a dead body, whose soule is already departed, can receiue neither fruite, nor comfort from any meate, or drinke: so that congregation, which is destitute of Gods spirit, can receiue from Gods word, which is the true spirituall meate, neither fruite nor comfort: and therefore it is, that the Apostle telleth vs: Though 1. Cor. 3. [...]er. 6. Paul plans, and Apollo water, yet that it is God which doth giue the encrease.

As therefore it is euident, that euery member of mans body is liuely, wherein the soule remaineth: so euery congregation, in the which Gods spirit worketh, must needs be a true and liue­ly member of Christs body: so that God is tyed to no one part of the world, more then vnto another, because he is God of all the world: euen so the Church of God is tyed to no part of the world, because it containeth in it, all the beleeuers, who are seat­tered ouer all the world.

This Church being one, yet may it be considered diuersly: [Page]either as it is hidden from, and inuisible vnto men, and knowne onely vnto him, from whom nothing can be hidden: or as it is visible, conspicuous, and apparant vnto men: as it is inuisible, and hidden from the sight of men, it containeth onely those, who appertaine vnto Gods free election, and shall most cer­tainly be saued. And the reason why in this respect the Church is said to be hidden from men, is, because God onely knoweth who are his: neither can man know them, whilest he liueth here vpon the earth: but the Church, as it is visible, apparant, and con­spicuous vnto men, doth containe all those, who in their out­ward behauiour worship one God, embrace one Christ, professe one Gospell, hearken vnto one word, and vse the same Sacra­ments: many of these may be rauening wolues, and wicked re­probates, and yet they may be so close in cariage, and their sinnes may be so secret, that the Church cannot discerne them, and therefore cannot discarde them, vntill God doth make them manifest. Hence it is, that the Church thus considered, is compa­red by our Sauiour Christ vnto aMat. 3. ver. 12. threshing floore, where the wheate and chaffe are so mixed together, that they cannot be se­uered, before he with his fanne doth seuer them: vnto aMat. 13 ver. 15. field, where doe grow both corne and weedes together, which cannot be seperated before the haruest: vnto aIbid. [...] 47. net, in the which fish both good and bad are contained, which cannot be sundred, vn­till both be brought vnto the shore. And as this is the estate of the generall and vniuersall Church, militant here in earth, so is it the estate of euery branch, or member thereof, I meane, of euery particular Church or congregation: whether it be contained within one Realme, Prouince, or Diocesse, or doe consist of thousands, hundreds, more or fewer, it hath euer some lewd and wicked men amongst the good and godly Saints of God. Nei­ther doth these mens wickednesse make it to cease to be a Church, although they are suffred to liue within it. Would you haue it proued by examples, it may be done with ease: I will let passe the auncient Iewish Church, and come vnto Christ his time.

Paul writeth vnto the Galathians, as vnto theGala. 1 ver. 2. Church of God: and yet he saith, that they areVers. 6 remoued vnto another Gospell: that they wereGal. 3. ver. 1. foolish, bewitched, and disobedient [Page]vnto the truth. Lo then, behold men foolish, men bewitched, men disobedient vnto the truth, and remoued to another Gospell, and yet a Church. Amongst the Corinthians there were sects, enuie, strife, discension, and such incest, as was not once named amongst the Gentiles: they abused the Lords supper, and many of them denied the resurrection of the dead; and yet Paul wri­teth vnto this by the name of the1. Cor. 1. Verse. 2. Church of God which was at Corinth. Nay, cast your eyes vpon Christs owne Disciples, and there you shall finde a Iudas: and yet his wickednes was not so forcible, but that Christs Disciples were still a Church.

So then it followeth, that there may be in a congregation, not onely wicked men, but euen wicked Ministers; and yet that con­gregation may be a true part, or parcell, of that generall, catho­licke, and vniuersall Church, which comprehendeth all Gods chosen: so that although that, which Christ saith, that by their fruites, men shall know true, from false seducing Prophets, be very true, and certaine, (for that those who preach the truth vn­fainedly, setting only Gods glory, and the saluation of their bre­threns soules before their eyes, are only to be tearmed true Prophets, and these do euer liue vprightly, as farre forth as flesh and bloud will suffer them) yet notwithstanding it followeth not, but that amongst these faithfull and vnfained Pastors, there may be other, who teach for a time the truth, and yet be deceit­full workmen, and rauening wolues, who doe but watch fit op­portunity to prey vpon Gods people, as Iudas watched his op­portunitie to betray Christ Iesus. Of this sort, were those, of whom Saint Iohn speaketh1. Iohn [...]. ver. 19. They went from vs, but they were not of vs, &c. Such be the close Atheists, and Neuters of the world, which liue in euery age, and almost in euery congregation, who haue two faces vnder one hood with Ianus, and with the Came­leon can turne themselues vnto any colour: such doe liue and teach in many faithfull congregations, and hardly can they be certainely discerned from faithfull Pastors, vntill the time of per­secution: for that is like Christ his fanne, wherewith he sepera­teth the wheate from chaffe; the wheate remaineth, the chaffe is carried with that wind, from the threshing floore, which is Christ his Church: for whilest the Church enioyeth peace and quiet­nesse, it is gouerned with discipline, and ruled with lawes, and [Page]Canons, whereof some prohibite the broaching of vntrue doctrine, and not onely admit into no dignities, but withall pu­nish such as broach it. Others correct the maners, and beha­uiour of lewde liuers, profane persons, and all their wicked actions: and therefore feare, and ambition, doe make those hy­pocritish cormorants, to teach but truth; & at leastwise to seeme to liue within their lists: but when the Churches peace is turned into persecution, when, for executing lawes, it be driuen to suf­fer violence, and that all dignities and preferments are taken from it: then, though their ambition still remaineth, yet their hope of preferments by the Church, is quite cut off: and though then they feare such tyrants, as vsurpe authoritie; yet the feare they had to offend the Churches lawes, is departed frō them: and therefore then, and not before, they shew what they were before: they embrue their hands in the Churches dearest bloud, who lately seemed to be their dearest mother: and they endeuour to wound her to death, who would haue nourished them to euerla­sting life. It is not to be doubted, as wily as these Foxes are, but that in the time, that the Church doth flourish, they doe often commit such wickednes, as is not to be once named: yet for that their actions are sometimes so secret, that they come not to the knowledge of those, in whose hands it is to cut men off from Gods assemblies: and sometimes, when they are conuented for their enormities, they sayne such penitencie, that for the hope men haue of their amendments, they are suffred to liue within the Church: and sometimes, as well through the negligence of those who should informe the gouernors, as of the gouernors them­selues, many of their iniquities are winked at, and they are ne­uer called into question for them:

I conclude therefore, that the lewd maners of men, liuing in any congregation, is no certaine note, whereby that congre­gation may be iudged to be no Church: especially, if the notes whereby a Church may be discerned, be to be found therein: and these notes are two: Truth of doctrine, and the right vse of the sacred Sacraments. This truth must be grounded vpon Gods word; and these Sacraments must be the very same, which Christ did institute to be most certaine seales of our deliuerie, and most vndoubted pledges of our Vnion with Christ Iesus, [Page]Where the former is truely taught, and the later rightly mini­stred, it cannot be, but that that assembly is assembled in Christ his name: and therefore it cannot be, but that there Christ is pre­sent: and vndoubtedly, that assembly where Christ is present, must needs be Christ his Church.

Againe, this word of God, wheresoeuer it be truely taught, doth worke effectually, in some vnto saluation, and in some vnto the contrarie: and who knoweth not, but that where the saluati­on of men is wrought, there is a Church, seeing that out of the Church there is no saluation: But seeing that vnto others it works perdition, in the same assembly; vnto whom as the Apostle speaketh, It is a sauour of death, vnto death, (though it be said before, that truth of doctrine, and right vse of Sacraments, be vn­doubted notes of Christ his Church) yet hereby we may perceine, that, that is not to be so strictly vnderstood, but that in the Church, there may happē in doctrine some error, & in the admi­nistratiō of the Sacraments some abuses: for that it is impossible, that Gods enemies, whose hearts are hardned in the hearing of Gods word, should be altogether faithfull teachers, or obedient hearers. And hence it is, that in the Galathian Church, men were bewitched, & turned frō the truth of Gods word, vnto ano­ther Gospell: & hence it is, that some in the Corinthian Church1. Cor. 15. denied the resurrection of the dead: and others1. Cor. 11. abu­sed the Lords Supper, most pernitiously: and yet there ceased not to be a Church, in the one or other of them. So that in a true Church, there may be in doctrine error, and in Sacraments abuses: a true Church, I say, as long as it doth but suffer, and not maintaine these errors, and abuses: and therefore whosoeuer doth separate himselfe from such a Church, he separateth him­selfe from the true Arke, from the holy congregation, and from Gods fauour, neither can he be saued, vnlesse he doth returne againe into the same. Nay, there may be in doctrine errours, and in Sacraments abuses, so tolerable, that though the Church doth teach and maintaine them openly: yet as long as they are not in matters necessarie vnto saluation, it is intolerable for a man for these errours and abuses, to cut himselfe off from the Church. Such are the errours which may happen, concerning things, not as yet fully reuealed vnto men; As for example: One congre­gation [Page]may teach, that hell is in the center of the earth: ano­ther, that it is vpon the earth: a third, that it standeth in the ayre: a fourth, that it is compassed with fire, that highest element: and all these congregations may teach these opposit doctrines pub­likely: and yet all of them may be Churches, and true parts and parcels of the Catholike and Vniuersall Church.

The like may be said of the soules of Saints departed: One congregation may maintaine, that they be already in their full and perfect blisse: another may be perswaded, that they haue not as yet receiued the fulnesse of their ioy: and a third may thinke it a point of rashnesse, to define with the one, or with the other: and yet all three may be Gods assemblies: yea, in distant Churches there may be diuerse and disagreeing ceremonies in the administration of Baptisme, and the Lords Supper: yet as long as these are not contentiously maintained, or enioyned to be obserued, as things necessary vnto saluation, God forbid, that any Christian should for these, seuer himselfe from any of them.

Seeing then, my deare friends, these things be thus: and that you haue seuered your selues from our assemblies, it standeth you vpon, to shew in doctrine some grieuous and pernicious errors, and in the ministration of the Sacraments, some dangerous and damnable abuses, which are maintained, and publikely defen­ded by vs: or at least, some small errours or abuses, contentious­ly defended, and violently thrust vpon men, to be by them firme­ly beleeued, and receiued as things necessary vnto saluation: (which you cannot doe) or else you must acknowledge, that your estate is dangerous, as indeede it is: as must needs be the estate of them, that haue wilfully made a separation from that body, whereof Christ is head: out of the which there is no salua­tion: which if once you could be induced to beleeue, I doubt not, but you would with as great alacritie ioyne your selues vnto vs, as euer you went out from vs: for I know full well, that zeale hath made this separation, but it was not a zeale grounded vp­on knowledge: and therefore, if now you would receiue true instructions, and to ioyne knowledge vnto your zeale: then that very zeale, which vnaduisedly did thrust you out, would now, being guided with vnderstanding, bring you backe againe, vnto [Page]the bosome of Christ his body mysticall; which may be a ioy vn­to men and Angels, and a comfort vnto your very soules: out of the which, as long as obstinately you stand, (pardon me, truth is truth, and must be plainely told) you cannot but vainely hope for the saluation of your soules: it doth as much greeue me to vtter it, as it greeueth any of you to heare it: you may through your conuersions, conuert, and turne these grieues to ioy.

If you will stand in your owne defence, and tell me, that you liue within the bosome of that Catholike and vniuersall Church, whereof Christ is head, although you will not communicate with the members of the Church of England; I must tell you, that this defence doth mightily offend the Church of God, God himselfe, and you very soules; for that the coniunction is so neere, betweene the Catholike Church, and all the parts, & par­cels thereof, (I meane particular Churches) that whosoeuer doth seuer himselfe from any of these branches, he is become thereby no branch of Christ his Church.

If you say, that our English Church is no Church at all, and so no part of Christ his Church: and therefore that you may, and must seuer your selfe there-from: it is soone said, but hardly pro­ued, my good brethren: neither can you euer proue it, vntill you proue, that this Church maintaineth some pernicious do­ctrine, which ouerthroweth the foundation of the faith: or that it doth so wickedly abuse the Sacraments, or either of them, that their force and efficacie is altogether weakened, and become of no validitie. If these things could be proued, then might you (peraduenture) iustifie your doings: but if all the world would ioyne in one, and bend themselues against vs, I know, & there­fore I speake it, these things could not be proued, no not by all the world.

Be you not therefore obstinate, neither hinder you your own saluation: nor yet obiect that, which by men of your sect is com­monly obiected; That the whole face of our Church is so ouer­whelmed with vices, that in outward shew, it seemeth rather to be the Synagogue of Sathan, then the Church of God; & there­fore that it is impietie, in any Christian, to ioyne himselfe vnto it. Surely I must needs confesse vnto you, that our liues are not an­swerable vnto our calling, & that from the highest to the lowest, [Page]we haue in many things offended: yet I would haue you to confesse,2. Sam. 13. & 24. Matt. 16. v 22. & 26. ver. 70, 72 74. that the very worthiest members of Christes Church, haue often most grieuously offended: and therefore, that in our Church, there may be many, euen great offenders, who are true members of Christ his body: neither should you doubt, but that of those, whom the contagion of sinne hath mightily infected, there are very many, who are grieued with the burthen of their iniquities, and being strooke with true remorse of conscience, aspire vnto innocencie of life and conuersation.

I confesse indeed, that, that generall iniquitie, which coue­reth, in a maner, the whole earth, hath often grieued me, and troubled my conscience greatly, and had almost thrust me rasbly into those mens company, with whose company alone you seeme to be delighted: but I thanke my God, he opened the eyes of mine vnderstanding, and I did in good time per­ceiue, that there is greater efficacie, in Gods word truely taught, and his Sacramentes rightly administred, to beget children vnto God, then can be disanulled, by the wicked­nesse of rebellious and disobedient children: and therefore farre be it from me, from euer seuering of my selfe from that company, wherein this word is truely taught, and these Sa­craments rightly administred, as in our assemblies I know they are. Our sinnes are great indeede, and our iniquities are many in number: yet compare our Church, with the olde as­semblies of the Israelites, before Christs birth, and you shall finde, that we are not gone beyond them; nay, as whicked as we are, if you vouchsafe to read Gods booke with a single eye, you shall find assuredly, that they had gone beyond vs in iniquities: Their Princes are called by the name of theEsay. 1 verse 9. Princes of Sodome: and the people are called the people of Gomorha.

How saith he, isVer. 21 23. the faithfull Citie, become an har­lot? it was full of iudgement, and iustice lodged therein: but now they are murtherers; thy siluer is become drosse, thy wine is mixed with water, thy Princes are rebellious, and companions of theeues: euery one loueth gifts, & followeth after rewards; they [Page]iudge not the fatherlesse, neither doth the widdowes cause come before them: the Priests and Prophets of Ephraim, are said toEsay. 28 [...].7, 8. haue erred through strong drinke, &c. to haue fayled in vision, and to haue stumbled in iudgement: all, saith he, their tables are full of filthy vomiting, and there is no place cleane a­mongst them:Esay. 29 [...].10, 13. the eyes of the Seers and Prophets are shut vp with a spirit of slumber, so that they cannot see, and the people are said to come neere him with their lips, and to haue remoued their hearts farre from him:Esay. 56 [...]trs. 10. their watchmen are said to be all blind, to haue no knowledge, to be dumme dogges, which can­not barke, to be such as lye and sleepe, and delight in sleeping.

How say you, my brethren, are our Princes like the Princes of Sodome? are they rebellious and companions of theeues? doe all of them loue gifts, and follow after rewards? iudge they not the fatherlesse, & commeth not the widowes cause before them? what? haue our Priests & Prophets erred, through strong drink? haue they fayled in vision, and stumbled in their iudgements? are their eyes couered and shut vp with a spirit of slumber? are our watchmen blind? haue they no knowledge? be they dumbe dogs which cannot barke? are they such as lye and sleepe, & delight in sleeping? are our people like the people of Gomorha? are our assemblies become harlots, and our congregations theeues? is our siluer become drosse, and our wine mixed with water? are our tables full of filthy vomiting? and are all places amongst vs vncleane? doe our people with their lips, come neere vnto the Lord, and are their hearts far from him? Surely it were very hard, to giue so hard a censure, against all our Magistrates, all our Mi­nisters, and all our people.

Yet admit, that our Magistrates, Ministers, and people, were such as I haue heere described, were it fit, that therfore we should make a seperation from them, hauing his word truely taught, and his Sacraments rightly administred amongst them? Surely no (my beloued brethren) for I haue already proued, that in the time of Esay, such were the Magistrates, Ministers, and people of Ierusalem: and yet Esay, though he sharply reproued them for their iniquities, yet did he not seuer himselfe from their assem­blies, nor erect another Church, other Altars, other sacrifices, or other ceremonies: but in the middest of a peruerse and fro­ward [Page]generation, he lifted vp pure hands vnto the Lord.

Neither was that ancient Church thus generally corrupted, in the time of Esay onely: peruse the other Prophets, & you shall finde the very same, or the like descriptions, in their volumes: it were in a maner infinit, to lay down all their words;Ier. 4. v. 22. and 5. v. 1.7, 8, 26. & 28. & 7, v. 11.17, 18, 19, 30, 31. & 8, v. 5.6, 7, 8, 9, & 9. v. 4.5, 6, 7. & 10. v. 21. & 11, vers. 9, 10.13, and 19. vers. 4, 5. Ezech. 1. v. 4, 5, 6. & 8, from v. 5. to the end. and 14. v. 3. and 16. from v. 15. vnto 36. and from 45 vnto 57. and 22, through­out. Hos. 2. vers. 5. and 4. vers. 1, 2, 11.12, 13, and 7, tho­roughout. and 8, v. 11, 7, & 13, v. 1, 2, and 3. v. 10. & 6, v. 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8. v. 4, 5, 6. Micah. 1, v. 5, and 2, v. 8, & 3, v. 2.3, and 7, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Zeph. 3. v. 2, 3, 4. Mal. 1. vers. 8, 12, 13, and 2, vers. 7, 8, 11. view the places quoted in the margent, and you shall finde what I say, most certaine & vndoubted: and yet shew me amongst all these godly Prophets, any one, which did euer seuer himselfe from the Church wherein he liued: or name any of them, that did re­fuse to communicate with the wicked of their time, in the word, sacrifices, or ceremonies, which the Lord had appointed them to vse. Assuredly you cannot name me one. How then? what, are we wiser then they were? or doe we exceede them in holy­nesse? I would to God wee were indued with the tenth part of their wisedome, or of their holinesse.

How is it then, that any of vs should be so presumptuous, as to seuer himselfe frō those congregations, which most assuredly are not so wicked, as those assemblies were, with the which they were contented to assemble themselues and to communicate? Doubtlesse, had they beene perswaded, that those mens wicked­nesse, with whom they did communicate, must of necessitie in­fect their integritie, they would haue suffered a thousand deaths, rather then to haue resorted with such vnto the Synagogues.

Doth the example of these men nothing moue you? Open then your eyes, and looke vpon Iohn Baptist, looke vpon Christs Disciples, and vpon Christ himselfe. Iohn Baptist tearmeth theMatth. 3. v. 7. Scribes and Pharisees, generations of vipers: and yetEph. 8, 9, 10. he preacheth the word vnto them.Matth. 10. v. 6. Luk. 10. v. 3. Christ his Disciples preached among wolues: and although the Scribes and Pharisees were most wicked men, yet Christ exhorteth not his Disciples to make a seperation from them: but he rather willed them to doe that which they commaunded: adding this reason; For that they sit in Moses his chayre: which is as much by the interpretation of the learned, as if he should haue said, For they teach the law of God, which was deliuered by the hands of Moses.

I beseech you, tell me (my louing brethren) was it an offence, in a man regenerated, amongst that viperous broode, to heare Iohns preaching? Or was it a thing to be reprooued in Gods chosen, to harken vnto Christs disciples, in the company of those wolues, vnto whom they preached? Or thinke you, that we shall be rebuked, for hearing of Gods word, from the mouthes of those, whom we know to be wicked men, seeing Christs disci­ples are by Christ himselfe enioyned to yeelde obedience vnto such precepts, as the wicked Scribes and Pharisees gaue them? If you doubt, whether in Christ his time, the Scribes and Pha­risees, Doctors of the law, and people of the Iewes, were as wic­ked as this generation is; noteIohn 8. ver. 13, 40, 59. and 6. verse. 26, 41. Luk. 23. vers. 18. but their behauiour towards Christ,Mat. 3. v. 22. & 9. v. 34. & 12 verse 47. their blasphemie against him,Luk 11. from verse 42. vnto 53 Matt. 20. v. 46. Mar. 12 from v. 38. vnto 44. Iohn. 8. v. 2. Luk. 2. v. 46 Mar. 6. v. 2. and his iudgement of them: and doubtlesse you will confesse, that if they were not our superiors, yet that they were our equals in iniquitie: and yet Christ himselfe was contented, in these mens assemblies to preach, and to heare Gods word.

How say you (my brethren) is not Christ his life a fit rule for vs to square our actions by? If it be, why should then the fall of those, who are present in any assembly, deterre vs from preach­ing, or from hearing Gods word, in that assembly, seeing the vni­uersally, (as I may tearme it) ouerflowing iniquitie of that age, could not hinder Christ, from hearing, and preaching the word amongst them?

I could here adde the generall wickednesse of the Corin­thians and Galathians, which I touched already: whom though Saint Paul doth earnestly reprooue, yet notwithstanding, he exhorteth none to seuer himselfe from their societies. Yea, but you doubt, lest that your communicating with vs, should argue, that you allow our wickednesse, and assent vnto our ceremonies: for I remember once, one of you told me some such thing. But surely you deceiue your selues: for were our ceremonies abo­minable, as indeede they are not, and our sinnes manifold, as indeed they are: yet considering what hath been already proued, you should confesse, that the Iewes vsed as wicked ceremonies as we doe; and were as lewd in their behauiour as we are: and yet it hath beene already proued vnto you, that the auncient Pro­phets, Iohn Baptist, Christs Disciples, & Christ himselfe, feared [Page]no such matter; they doubted not, that communicating with these men, should argue, that they did allow their wickednesse, or assent vnto their ceremonies. And here another obiection, vsu­ally framed by men of that sect you follow, falleth to the ground: The Apostle Paul (say they) doth straightly warne vs, that if1. Cor. 5. ver. 11. there be one called a brother, that is a fornicator, or couetous, or an Idolater, or a rayler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, that with such we should not eate. I say, this reason falleth to the ground, for that the premisses considered, it clearely appeareth, that onely priuate accompanying, and association, and not publike communicating, is here prohibited: for that otherwise, the aun­cient Prophets, Iohn the Baptist, Christ his Disciples, and Christ himselfe, had offended against this precept: which to affirme, can be no lesse then blasphemie.

And surely, euery Christian may be a Iudge vnto himselfe, to discerne, and iudge, who are fit, and who are vnfitte for him priuately, to frequent their company: but who are fit, or vnfit with him, in publike assemblies, to heare Gods word, and to be partakers of his blessed Sacraments, this priuate men must not wade vnto: it must be left vnto the iudgement of the Church: and therefore Saint Paul in the same Epistle, directing vs, how to come vnto the Lords Table, doth not commaund vs, to prye one into anothers actions, or to make search, whether there be wicked men amongst vs: but hee willeth vs to1. Cor. 11. ver. 28. examine our owne selues, and so without any further circumstances, he permitteth vs to eate of that bread, and to drinke of that cup. The like he hath in the second vnto the Corinths2. Cor. 13. ver. 5. Proue, saith he: whom? your selues, whether you are in the faith: exa­mine: whom? one another, no: examine your selues; know you not your owne selues, that Iesus Christ is in you: except, what? your fellow-communicants? no: but except your selues be reprobates.

For the loue of God peruse these places, cōsider them, & thinke vpon them; follow S. Pauls directions, and assure your selues, that though al were reprobates, besides your selues which are in place, where you heare Gods word, or receiue his Sacraments: yet that Christ shall dwell in you, vnlesse your selues be reprobates. De­test sinne, & spare not, both in your selues, & in others also, yea, [Page]detest it with a perfect detestation; yet let not this detestation cut you off from the Church of God: but euen as you tender Gods glory, your owne saluation, and soules health, and as you desire to be made the member of Gods triumphant Church in Heauen, vnite and ioyne your selues vnto his militant Church in earth. So God shall take pleasure in your doings, your soules shall be saued from destruction, and on the last dreadfull day, yee shall stand securely before Gods throne, and shall heare that more then sweete sounding voice, Come ye blessed of my Father, receiue that kingdome, which was prepared for you, before the be­ginning of the world. The which voyce, God of his infinit, and euer-abounding mercies graunt, that both you, and I, and all faithfull Christians may heare, vnto our exceeding comfort, for his sonne Christ Iesus sake, Amen.

One which thirsteth for the saluation of your soules, EDWARD IAMES.

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