THE Christian Religion. Expressed I. briefly, in the ancient Creeds, the ten Com­mandments, and the Lords Prayer.

And II. more largely in a Professi­on taken out of the holy Scriptures; Containing 1. The Articles of the Christian Belief. 2. Our Consent to the Gospel Covenant. 3. The sum of Christian Duty.

According to the Primitive Simplicity, Purity, and Practice: Fitted to the right Instructing of the Ignorant, the promo­ting of Holiness, and the Charitable Concord of all true Believers.

Which whosoever sincerely Believeth, Consen­teth to, and Practiseth, shall certainly be saved.

It is also by prefixed Questions, made a Catechism.

By Richard Baxter.

London Printed, 1660.

To fill up this vacant Page.

THE Papists Confession of the sufficiency of our Belief. Concil. Basil. Orat. Ragus. Bin. p. 299. [The Holy Scripture in the literall sense, soundly and well understood, is the Infallible and most sufficient Rule of faith.]

Bellarm. de verbo Dei, l. 4. c. 11. [In the Christian doctrine both of Faith and Manners, some things are simply necessary to sal­vation, to all; as the knowledge of the Articles of the Apostles Creed, of the ten Commandments, and of some Sacraments: The rest are not so Necessary, that a man cannot be saved without the explicite know­ledge, belief and profession of them—These things that are simply necessary, and are Profitable to all, the Apostles preached to all— All things are written by the Apostles which are Necessary to all, and which they openly preaclot to all] (See the place.)

Costenus Enchirid. c 1. p. 49. Non inficiamur praecipua illa fi­dei capita quae omnibus Christians cognitu sunt ad salutem ne­cessaria, perspicuè satis esse Apostolicis scriptis comprehensa.

The Ancient CREED.

I Believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth: And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was Cru­cified, dead and buried, he descended into Hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascen­ded into Heaven, and sittteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I be­lieve in the Holy Ghost; the holy Catholick Church, the Communion of Saints: the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting, Amen.

I Believe in one God the Father▪ Almighty, maker of Heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Iesus Christ the only begot­ten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten not made, be­ing of one substance with the Fa­ther, by whom all things were made: who for us men, and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the holy Ghost of the virgin Mary, and was made man, and was cruci­fied also for us under Pontius Pi­late. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father; And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end And I believe in the holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son to­gether is worshipped and glorifi­ed, who spake by the Prophets. And I believe one Catholike and Apostolike Church; I acknow­ledge one Baptism for the remissi­on of sins. And I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

[Page 2] WHosoever will be saved: before all things, it is neces­sary that he hold the Catholike faith.

Which faith except every one do keep wholly and undefiled: without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

And the Catholike faith is this: that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity.

Neither confounding the persons: nor dividing the substance.

For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the holy Ghost.

But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the holy Ghost, is all one: the glory equal, the Majesty coeternal.

Such as the Father is, such is the Son: & such is the holy Ghost.

The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the holy Ghost uncreate.

The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the holy Ghost incomprehensible.

The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the holy Ghost eternal.

And yet they are not three eternals: but one eternal.

As also there be not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncre­ated: but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.

So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty.

And yet they are not three Almighties: but one Almighty.

So the Father is God, the Son is God, & the holy Ghost is God.

And yet they are not three Gods: but one God.

So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the holy Ghost Lord.

And yet not three Lords: but one Lord.

For like as we be compelled by the Christian verity, to acknowledge every person by himself to be God and Lord.

So are we forbidden by the Catholike Religion, to say there be three Gods, or three Lords.

The Father is made of none: neither Created, nor begotten.

The Son is of the Father alone: not made, nor created, but begotten.

The holy Ghost is of the Father, and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

[Page 3] So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one holy Ghost, not three holy Ghosts.

And in this Trinity none is afore or after other, none is great­er or less then another.

But the whole three persons be coeternal together, and coequal.

So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

He therefore that will be saved: must thus think of the Trinity.

Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation; that he also believe rightly in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For the right faith is, that we believe and confess: that our Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God, is God and man.

God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds: and man of the substance of his mother, born in the world.

Perfect God and perfect man: of a reasonable soul, and hu­mane flesh subsisting.

Equal to the Father as touching his Godhead: and inferiour to the Father touching his manhood.

Who although he be God and man: yet he is not two, but one Christ.

One, not by Conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of the manhood into God.

One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.

For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man: so God and man is one Christ.

Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead.

He ascended into heaven, and sitteth one the right hand of the Father, God almighty; from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies: and shall give account for their own works.

And they that have done good, shall go into life everlasting: and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire.

This is the Catholike faith: which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.

The ten Commandments, Exod. 20.

GOD spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any like­ness of any thing that is in Heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; Thou shalt not bow down thy self to them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the Fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy: six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sab­bath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattel, nor the stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Seventh day and hallowed it.

Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Thou shalt not kill.

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Thou shat not steal.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy Neighbour.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbours house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbours wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbours.

The Lords Prayer, Mat. 6.

OUR Father which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy Name: Thy Kingdom come: Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven: Give us this day our daily bread: And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for thine is the King­dom, and the Power, and the Glory, for ever, Amen.

The PROFESSION of the CHRISTIAN Religion.

I. The Articles of the Christian Belief.

It is a Catechism if you prefix to every Article, the Question, What do you believe:

Of GOD. THere is one only God 1 Cor. 8. 4, 6.in three persons,Or subsisten­cies.] the Father, Son and Holy GhostMat. 28▪ 19. 1 Joh. 5. 7.: Who is Infinite in Being, Power, Wisdom and Good­ness 1 Tim. 1. 17. Psal. 139. 7, 8, 9. & 147. 5. Isa. 40. 17.: The Creator of all thingsNeh. 9. 6.; Our most absolute Lord, most Righteous Go­vernour, and most gracious FatherRev. 4. 8. & 15. 3. Ex. 34. 6, 7. Ezek. 18. 4. Psal. 47. 7. & 119. 68. & 145. 9..

Of the Creation of man, and the first Law. God made man for himselfProv. 16. 4. in his own imageGen. 1. 26.; with Reason and freewillDeut. 30. 19: endued with wisdom and holinessCol. 3. 10. Eecles. 7. 29.; and put under him the inferior creatures, for his usek: and [Page 6] bound him by the Law of Nature to adhere to God his Maker; to Believe him, fear him, love him, honour him and obey him with all his powersMar. 12. 30. 33. Deut 6. 5. & 10 12. & 1. 32.: Moreover forbidding him to eat of the tree of Knowledge upon pain of deathGen. 2. 16, 17. Rom. 6 23..

Of mans fall, and of original sin, and our common misery. Man being tempted by Satan, did wilfully sin, and so fell from God and Happiness, under the wrath of GodGen. 3. John 8. 44. Rom. 5. 12, 18 Gen. 3. 16, 17., the curse of his LawRom. 3 9, 19, 23. & 6. 23. and the power of the DevilActs 26. 18. Eph. 2. 2. Heb. 2. 14.: And hence we are all conceived in sin, and prone to evil, Psal. 51. 5. Rom 5. 12. Eph. 2. 2, 3, 5. Isa 48. 4. Job 14. 4. & 25. 4. Gen. 6. 5. Hos. 11. 7.and condemnation is passed upon all Rom. 5. 18, 19.; and no meer creature is able to deli­ver usRom. 5. 6, 10. Acts 4. 12..

Of our Re­demption by Je­sus Christ. God so loved the world that he gave his only Son to be their RedeemerJoh 3. 16, 17. & 4. 42. 1 Joh 2. 2.; who be­ing God, and One with the FatherJoh. 1. Rom. 9. 5▪ Joh. 10. 30 did take our nature, and become man; being conceived by the Holy Ghost in the Virgin Mary, and born of her, and called Jesus Christ1 Tim. 25. Heb. 2. 14, 16. Luke 1. 27, 31, 35. Mat. 1. 20, 21.; and being free from sin, he conquered the tempter, fulfilled all righteousnessd, revealed the Gospel, and [Page 7] confirmed it by MiraclesActs 2. 22. Heb. 2. 3, 4.; and gave him­self a sacrifice for our sins, and a ransome for us, in suffering death on the cross, to recon­cile us unto GodHeb. 9. 26. & 10. 12. 1 Tim. 2. 6. Ep. 2. 16.; and was buried, and went among the dead1 Cor. 15. 3, 4. Luk. 23. 43. Psal. 16. 10 1 Pet. 3. 18, 19. Or [to the depart­ed souls] Or [to the other world.]) and Rose again the third day, having conquered death,2 Tim. 1. 10. Heb. 2. 14. Acts 2. 24.; and afterward ascended into HeavenAct. 2. 9. where he remain­eth God and Man, in one personk, and is Lord of all, in glory with the Fatherl; the chief Priest, and Prophet, and King of his Churchm; interceding for us; and teach­ing and ruling us, by his Spirit, Ministers, and Wordn.

Of the New Testa­ment or Covenant of Grace. The Lord Jesus Christ hath ordained in his Testa­ment, that all they that receive him by a true ef­fectual faith, and by true Repentance do turn from the flesh, the world, and the De­vil unto God, shall freely receive the pardon of their sinsHeb. 9. 15. Joh. 1 12. & 3. 16. Acts 26. 18▪ Gal. 5▪ 6. Acts 11 18. & 3. 19. & 20 21. Rom. 8. 1, 13. Mar. 4. 12., and shall become the Sons of God, and heirs of everlasting Life,Rom. 8. 16, 17. & the Spirit of Christ shall dwell within themc: [Page 8] and all that overcome and persevere to the death, shall live with Christ in endless gloryRev. 2. & 3. Col. 1. 22, 23. Heb. 4. 1.: But the Unbelievers, impenitent and unholy shall be condemned to everlast­ing fireMa [...]. 16 16. Joh 3. 3, 5, 36. Heb. 12. 14. 2 Thes. 1. 8, 9. & 2 12. Luke 13. 3.. And this he hath commanded his Ministers to preach to all the worldMat. 28. 19. Mar. 16. 15, 16. 2 Cor. 5. 19.: And hath told us, that All that are given him of the Father, shall come to him, and that he will in no wise cast them out, nor shall any pluck them out of his hands.g

Of the Holy Ghost revealing and confirm­ing the Gospel. The Holy Ghost proceeding from the Father and the Son, did inspire and guide the Prophets, Apostles, and Evangelists, that they might truly and fully reveal the do­ctrine of Christ, and deliver it in Scripture to the Church as the rule of our faith and lifeJoh. 14. 26. & 15. 26. 1 Pet. 1. 10, 11, 12. 2 Pet. 1. 21. 2 Tim. 3. 16. Joh. 16. 13. Eph. 3. 3, 5. & 2. 20. Isa. 8. 20. Rev. 22. 18, 19. 1 Tim. 6. 14. Luke 16. 29, 31.: and by abundance of Evident uncontrouled Miracles, and wonderfull gifts, to be the great witness of Christ, and of the truth of his holy wordb.

[Page 9] Of our Sanctification by the Holy Ghost, and the state and blessings of the sanctified.Where the Go­spel is made known, the Holy Ghost by it doth enlighten the minds of all that shall be saved, and opening and softening their hearts, doth draw them to believe in Christ Acts 26. 17, 18. Rom. 8. 9, 10, 11. Acts 16 14 Joh. 6. 44. Eze. 36. 26. Gal. 5. 22.and turneth them from the power of Satan unto GodAct. 26. 18.: Whereupon they are joyned to Christ the Head, and into one ho­ly Catholick Church which is his Body, con­sisting of all true believersCol. 2. 19. Eph. 5. 30, 31, 32. & 3. 17. 1 Cor. 12. 12, 13, 27.: and are free­ly Justified, and made the Sons of GodRom. 3. 24. & 4. 24. John 1 12.; and a sanctified peculiar people unto himTit. 2. 14., and do Love him above all, and serve him sincerely in holiness and righteousnessRom. 5. 5. Mat. 10. 37. 1 Cor. 6. 11 Luke 1. 75., Loving and desiring the Communion of the Saintsg; Overcoming the Flesh, the World and the Devilh, and Hoping for Christs second coming, and for everlasting lifei.

Of the Judgement and Execution. At Death the souls of the Justified go to happiness with Christ, and the souls of the wicked to MiseryLuke 23. 43. & 16. 22 2 Cor. 5. 1. 8. Phil. 1. 23. 1▪ Pet. 3. 19. Luke 16. 26, 28.: And at the end of this world the Lord Jesus Christ will come [Page 10] again, and will raise the bodies of all men from the dead; and will judge all according to their worksActs 1. 11. 1 Cor. 15. Joh. 5. 22, 29. Mat. 25. 2 Cor. 5. 10. And the Righteous shall go into everlasting life, and the rest into everlasting punishmentMat. 25. & 13. 41, 42, 43. 2 Tim. 4. 8, 18. 2 Thes. 1 8, 9, 10. & 2 12. John 17. 24.: All this I do unfeignedly believe.

III. The summ of Christian Duty.

Quest. What are

The publike means, and du­ties of Holiness. CHrist hath appointed that fit men shall be Ordained his Ministers, to preach the Gospel to the Na­tions of the worldMat. 28. 19, 20., and make them his Disciples, Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy GhostRom. 10. 7, 14. Act. 14. 23. 2 Tim. 2. 2. Acts 13. 2. & 2. 41.: and to congregate his DisciplesActs 2. 42. & 6. 2., and to over­see and Guide the several Congregations, and each member thereofAct. 20. 7, 28. 1. Tim. 5. 17. Tit. 1. 5.: Particularly, to Teach them the word of Gode; to Pray and Praise God with them and for themf [Page 12] to administer the Lords Supper in remem­brance of him1 Cor. 11. 24. & 10. 16.;Heb. 7. 7. Numb. 6. 23. Especially on the Lords Day, which he hath appointed for holy communion in such worksRev. 1. 10. Acts 20. 7. 1 Cor. 16. 2.: Also to Rebuke with authority the scandalous and unrulyTit. 2. 15. & 1. 9, 11. 1 Tim. 5. 19. & 3. 5.; and to bind and reject those that are obstinately impenitent, and unre­formed; and to Absolve and Restore the Pe­nitent, and confirm the weakl.

It is therefore the Peoples Duty to joyn with such Churches, for the aforesaid Wor­ship of GodActs 2. 42.; and to know, hear, submit to, and obey these their Guides that are over them in the Lord;1 Tim. 5. 17. Heb. 13. 7. 17. 24. 1 Thes. 5. 12, 13. 1 Cor. 16. 16. and to avoid Division and Discord, and to live in Unity, Love and Peacec.

The secret Du­ties of Holiness. The Secret Duties of Holiness are these: The ex­ercise of Faith, Repentance, Love, Hope, Delight in God, and all other gracesJude 21. Gal▪ 5. 22. Luke 10. 27. 1 Tim. 4. 7. Isa. 64. 7.: The mortifying of our sins; espe­cially Atheism, Unbelief, and unholiness; hardness of heart, disobedience and un­thankfulness, [Page 13] flesh-pleasing, covetousness, and Pride,Acts 24. 16. Col. 3. 5. Rom. 8. 13. Heb. 3. 12, 13. Mat. 15. 8, 19. Luke 12. 15. Rom. 13. 13, 14. 1 Cor. 3. 18.: The diligent Examining of our own hearts, about our Estates, our Du­ties, and our sins2 Pet. 1. 10. 2 Cor. 13. 5. Gal. 6. 3, 4. Psal. 4. 4.: Meditating upon God, and his word and works; especially of our Redemption by Jesus Christ; and of Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Helld; Watching diligently over our Thoughts, Affections, Words and Actionse: Resisting Tempta­tions f: And frequent and fervent Pray­er to God, in the name of Christ, with Confession, Thanksgiving, and cheerful Prai­ses g;

The Private Duties of Holiness in our Re­lations to others. Parents and Masters must diligently teach their children and ser­vants, the word and fear of GodEph. 6. 4, 9. De ut. 6. 11, 12., and Pray with them, and for them, and hinder them from sinDan. 6. 10. Act. 10. 30. Prov. 22. 6, 15. & 23. 13. Psal. 101. 1 Sam. 2. 23, 29., and use all their power that they and their house­holds may serve the Lordc: children and servants must willingly learn and obeyd: We must seek instruction in the matters of [Page 14] our salvation, especially of our TeachersAct. 16. 30 Mal. 2. 7. 1 Cor. 14. 35.: we must take heed of the company of tempt­ing, and ungodly persons, and delight in the company and help of the Godly: We must lovingly and faithfully give, and thank­fully receive admonitions and exhortations Psal. 1. 1. & 15. 4. & 119. 63. Prov. 13. 20. Eph. 5. 6, 7, 11. Lev. 19 17. Mat. 18. 15. Heb. 3. 13. Jam. 5. 20. 1 Pet. 5. 5.: Confessing our faults one to anotherg: and by Prayer, Psalms, and edifying confe­rence, and a holy conversation, provoking one another to Love, and to good worksh.

The Duties of Ju­stice and Charity to­wards men. Superiors must rule for God and the common good; with Justice and MercyDeut. 1. 17. 2 Chron. 19. 6, 7. Josh. 1. 8. Isa. 56. 1.: Inferiors must honour and obey them in the LordRom. 13. 1, 2, 3. 1 Pet. 2. 13. Eph. 6. 1, 5.: We must not injure, but preserve the Life, Cha­stity, Estate, Name, and Rights of our Neigh­bour Exod. 20. Mat. 5. 17. to 48.: Not seeking our Own against his welfareDeut. 5. 21. Phil. 2. 3, 4. 1 Cor. 10. 24, 33. & 13. 5., but doing as we would be done bye; forbearing and forgivingf; and loving our neighbour as our selvesg: Yea loving our enemies; and doing good to all according to our powerh.

The Agreement of the Associated PASTORS.

I. WE do each one for himself,Art. 1. For an holy ex­emplary life. profess our Resolution,2 Chron. 15. 12, 13, 14, 15. Act. 20. 28. 1 Tim. 4. 12, 13, 14, 15, 16. and 3. 1, &c. and 5. 17, 21. 1 Pet. 5. 2, 3. in the strength of Christ, to be faithful and diligent in the works of our Ministry; and to live an holy and exemplary life, in Piety, Justice and Charity, accord­ing to the measure of our abilities: Especi­ally watching against those sins that tend to the corrupting or dividing of the Church, and to the hindring of our Ministry; and to the dishonour of the Gospel, and of our holy profession.

II. We do profess our Agreement and Resolution in the strength of Christ,Art. 2. For teaching all that will submit. to be faithful and diligent in publick Preaching the Gospel: And in the personal instruct­ing of all in our Parishes, or undertaken limits, that will submit thereto; teaching the Ignorant the Principles of Religion; [Page 16] endeavouring in Love, Compassion and Meekness, and yet with seriousness and zeal, to convince the erroneous and opposers, to awaken the presumptuous and secure, and help them to try the state of their souls, and to see and feel their sin and misery, and return to God by Christ that they may live: to strengthen the weak; to raise the faln; to edifie and confirm the strong; and to comfort such as need consolation; and to help them all to prepare for death and judgement, and for everlasting life: And all this, as frequently, constantly and or­derly, as our strength, and time, and greater duties will permit.

III. That the Churches may be capable of the Discipline of Christ,Art. 3. For a personal profession of Christianity to be made by all that will be ta­ken for a­dult mem­bers, and partake of their Com­munion. and constituted and ruled according to the Word of God, and the ends of our Office and Labours may be attained, we are Agreed and Resolved to take none for Adult members of the Chur­ches committed to our special charge, nor ad­mit them, as such, to Church-Communion and Priviledges, but those that have first made some personal credible Profession of true Christianity, that is, of Faith and Obe­dience, and as members of those Churches, submit to our Pastoral over-sight according to the Word of God. But all that make [Page 17] this Profession of Christianity and Consent to live in Communion with the Church, and under the Ministry and Discipline of Christ, we shall receive, though they be weak in knowledge, and utterance, and duties; and shall faithfully imploy our Ministerial abili­ties and care for their edification and salva­tion.

IV. We are Agreed and Resolved in the strength of Christ,Art. 4. For publick worship. while we have ability and opportunity, to Congregate the people, and hold constant Assemblies, especially on the Lords-Dayes; and therein faithfully to perform the works of our office, in Read­ing the holy Scripture, Preaching, Praying, Baptizing, Praising God, celebrating the Sacrament of the Lords Supper, and guid­ing the people in the whole publick worship of God: And to manage our work with as much prudence, and reverence, and love, and compassion to the peoples souls, and with as much plainness and convincing evi­dence, authority, seriousness, and zealous importunity as we can: Avoiding as far as we are able, such things as corrupt and dis­honour Gods Ordinances, and tend to cor­rupt the peoples minds with errour, pre­sumption, deadness, negligence, or other distempers, displeasing to the Lord.

[Page 18] V. For the ends of our Office,Art. 5. For Discipline. in obedi­ence to the Lord, we Agree and Resolve in the strength of Christ, to exercise so much of Church-Government and Discipline, in the Churches committed to our charge, as we discern to be our certain duty; that is, to keep order and decency in the holy As­semblies, and see that all be done to edifica­tion: Convicting seducers, and stopping the mouthes of perverse gain-sayers; Over­seeing the several members of our charge; and requiring them to walk obediently to Christ, and do their duties towards each other: to Reprove the gross and scanda­lous offenders: and if they continue impe­nitent or unreformed, to tell the Church, or rebuke them before all; (and publickly pray for their recovery): And if they hear not the Church, but remain impeni­tent and unreformed, after sufficient re­proof and patience, to put away such per­sons from among us, declaring against them the threatnings of the Lord, and re­quiring them to forbear Communion with the Church, and requiring the Church to avoid them, and have no familiarity or communion with them, as persons unmeet for the communion of Saints. And those that credibly profess Repentance, we are to [Page 19] Absolve Ministerially in the name of Christ, and comfort with the promises of Grace; receiving them, and requiring the people to receive them, as Brethren, into their Com­munion: but warning them to watch and sin so no more, lest worse befall them. This holy Discipline, by the help of God, we shall exercise faithfully and impartially, but yet with caution and moderation; neglect­ing no necessary consultations with other Pastors, or concurrence of the Church: and consenting to be responsible for male-administrations.

VI. For the Communion of Churches,Art. 6. For Communion of Churches by Associa­tions. and the strengthening our selves for the work of God, and helping one another therein, and maintaining Unity, Love and Concord; We do Consent to hold a Bro­therly communion and correspondency: And to that end, when necessity or greater duty hindreth us not, we shall meet at such convenient times and places, as shall be ap­pointed or agreed on from time to time; and shall labour to improve these meetings to our mutual edification, in such consulta­tions, conferences or other holy exercises, as our present case shall most require. And we consent to deal faithfully in advising and admonishing one another; and for the satis­faction [Page 20] of the Brethren (to the fore-men­tioned ends) to be responsible, if any shall charge us with Heresie, scandal, schism, or male-administration: And forbearing mat­ters without our line, to study and endea­vour the promoting of Truth, and Holiness, and Unity among our selves, and with other Churches, as we have a call.

And also we agree by communicatory Letters upon all needful occasions, to certifie our Brethren and other Churches of the state of our affairs, and of particular mem­bers, that those that justly have communion in one Church, or are excluded, may have communion with other Churches, or be re­fused by them accordingly, when there is just occasion.

And if any Brethren or Churches be pre­vailed over so far by temptation, as unjustly to deny us their communion, in this way of Association, Assemblies, or Correspondency, we shall not therefore deny them to be our Brethren, or Churches of Christ, but shall Love and Own them, and have so much Communion with them, as their distance shall leave them capable of, if they joyn with us in the Profession and Practice of true Christianity, and of the points that are necessary to Church-constitution and com­munion, [Page 21] and are not proved guilty of heresie, ungodliness, or such kind of schism or scandalous sins, for which the Scripture commandeth us to reject men, and avoid them. But such as are thus guilty (though they offer themselves to associate with us) we shall refuse to hold communion with, till they credibly profess Repentance, and ma­nifest a Reformation.

VII. Because it is a matter of great con­cernment to the honour of Christ,Art. 7. Of Ordination and Appro­bation of Ministers. the pro­pagation of the Gospel, and the encrease and welfare of the Church, that there be a Provision of able, faithful Ministers, and that unworthy persons be kept out; and be­cause deceivers and unworthy men are for­ward to intrude, and the people ordinarily are insufficient of themselves to make such tryal of mens ability and soundness as is requisite to the safety of the Church; and the Church in all ages hath received Mini­sters by the Ordination of other Ministers of Christ: We do therefore Agree to be careful and faithful in the discharge of our duties hereabout, so far as we can discern them, Resolving that if any vacant Church desire us to recommend a fit person to be their Pastor, or to Judge of any recom­mended to them, we will not recommend [Page 22] or approve of any, but such as we judge most agreeable to the will of Christ; nor will we prefer less fit and worthy men, for friendship or any carnal interest or respect. And if any intollerably unworthy person be about to intrude, or have intruded, or any neighbour Church be about to choose, or have chosen such, if we have opportunity, we shall faithfully acquaint them with their sin and danger, and perswade them to a better course. And if we shall be called to invest any by solemn Ordination in the sa­cred office of the Ministry, we shall per­form it, as near as we are able, according to the directions of the Word of God; ad­mitting none that Christ excludeth: And if it may be, we shall do it in that Congrega­tion which the person is to Over-see, that so we may the better discern their mutual Consent, inculcate their duties, and engage them to a faithful performance thereof.

And whereas it is much controverted of late, Whether the Power of Ordination be given to the people, or the Pastors of a par­ticular Church, or the Associated neighbour Pastors, and whether a stated President among these should not have a negative voice herein; We are Agreed, that leaving the people their due Liberty of Consent in [Page 23] the reception of their proper Pastors, We will none of us singly Ordain, without the assistance of other Pastors: Nor will we joyn with any Hereticks or others, in unjust and impious Ordinations, that tend to the corrupting or dividing of the Churches.

And to avoid Division upon a tolerable difference of Opinions, where we may agree in Practice, we Consent that the Associati­ons that have no stated Presidents, or that give not to such a Negative voice, shall re­ceive into their Communion those that are of the contrary opinion; giving them leave, if they desire it, to profess or record their opinion in that particular, so they will afterward walk among them in Love and Peace. And that the Associations that choose a stated President, and give him a Negative voice in Ordination, shall in like manner, and on like terms, receive into their Communion, such as dissent in that particular, and having professed or record­ed their dissent, will walk submissively in Love and Peace. Which liberty also of pro­fessing and recording their different prin­ciples, we desire may be allowed them, that joyn in Synods, as being only for Commu­nion of Churches, and them that joyn in them, as having a direct superiour Govern­ing [Page 24] Power over the particular Pastors of the Churches.

VIII. Though it be the surest way to Peace and Concord,Art. 8. Of Obedience to Magi­strates. to take up with these necessary things, and we cannot approve of the narrow dividing Principles of those men that will impose things unnecessary, to the excluding of the necessary; yet if our lawful Rulers shall command it, or the peace of the Church, through the distem­pers of the Brethren shall require it, we shall obey, and consent in things that God hath not forbidden; and if we suffer for well-doing, and for obeying God rather then men, we shall endeavour to imitate our Lord, who being reviled, reviled not again, and when he suffered, threatned not; but committed all to him that judgeth righte­ously, 1 Pet. 2. 23.

The Office of Christs Ministers more largely opened.

1. THE Lord Jesus Christ having pur­chased our Salvation by his blood, and stablished his Testament or Covenant of Grace, and left us his example of perfect holiness, ascended to the Father, and is there the Glorified Lord of all, and Head over all things to his Church, all power being given him in Heaven and Earth; that interceding for us with the Father, he might be the Trea­sury of our Light and Life; and offering salvation to the miserable world, might ga­ther, and cleanse, and save the Church, which is his Body; Communicating to them that grace that is here necessary to them, in their way and warfare, and perfecting them in Glory with himself, when their warfare is accomplished.

2. Christ Being thus invisible to us, in Glory with the Father, performeth not these works below, by himself in person, immediately and alone; but by his Spirit, Ministers, and Word. The Holy Ghost being his Advocate or Agent to these ends; and his Ministers the Instruments used by his [Page 26] Spirit and himself: to indite and bear wit­ness to his word, and to Preach it to the world, as that infallible Truth which must guide them to Salvation.

3. The first Prophetical and Apostolical Ministers, being sent by himself, and quali­fied by the inspiration, conduct and miracu­lous gifts of the Holy Ghost, did found the Church, and enlarge it unto many nations of the world, and left them the holy Scriptures, which contain the doctrine which they preached, that it might be certainly and fully preserved, and propagated till the coming of Christ. And they setled by the appoint­ment of Christ and his Spirit, an ordinary ministry to succeed them, not to deliver a new Law or Gospel, but to preserve and preach the doctrine which in the holy Scri­ptures (and conjunctly at first also from the mouths of the Apostles) they had received as once delivered to the Saints, and to guide the Churches by it to the end.

4. Though Christ appointed Ministers that should have so far a charge or care of the whole Church, as not to be limited to any one part, but to extend their labour and oversight, as far as their capacity and opportunities would permit: yet did he never [Page 27] make any man his Vicar or Vicegerent, as Head of the universal Church: nor lay upon any one, whether Peter, Paul, or any other, the charge and oversight of the whole: nor did ever Peter or any one Apostle exercise such an Office, in governing all the Catholike Church: especially when it ceased to be confined to Jerusalem and the adjacent parts, and was dispersed through the world. Never did the Apo­stles receive their Commissions from Peter: or all the Ministers then in the world, per­form their work by his Commission, or by any power received from him, nor were accountable to him, and judged by him for what they did. Much less is this universal Head-ship, committed to the Pope of Rome through all (or any) generations: But because a certain Primacy of Order was granted him by Emperours and Councils, within the limits of the Roman Empire, long after the Apostles days: therefore doth he take advantage thence, to pretend a Title to the universal Head-ship: As if the Roman and the Christian world had been the same; or the Emperor and his Clergy had been the Rulers of all the Christian subjects of all other Princes or Pastors upon earth: and his limited Primacy had been an universal [Page 28] Soveraignty. This claim of the Pope of Rome to be the Vice-Christ, or universal Pastor of all the Christian world, is a tyran­nical, impious, irrational usurpation; con­trary to the holy Scripture, and the state of the Primitive Church, and contrary to na­ture and common sense, which declare his incapacity of the work; far more then any Prince is uncapable of being the universal Monarch of the world; And therefore all Christians should abhor this proud and im­pious usurpation, and fly from the guilt of that horrible schism, and those corruptions in doctrine, worship and government, which it hath introduced.

5. Christ calleth his ordinary ministers to that office, by enduing them with his gifts, and disposing them thereunto, and mo­ving the hearts of the people to consent, and by ordination of the senior Pastors; and gi­ving them opportunities for the work: and sometime the Magistrates command hath a hand in the obligation.

6. It belongeth to the Office of the Ministers of Christ to Preach the Gospel to the nations of the world, and make them Christs Disciples, Baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

[Page 29] 7. This Preaching or publishing the Go­spel, is done by voice or by writing: that by voice, is done by Reading, by publike Sermons, or interlocutory conference: that by writing is either by translating the holy Scriptures into the languages used by the Nations, or by expounding and applying them. So that the holy Scriptures in the original languages, are the word of God, both as to the terms and sense Grammatical and Doctrinal: The same Scriptures in a Translation are the word of God as to the sense, both Grammatical and Doctrinal; but not as to the Terms: The holy doctrine of the Scriptures delivered in the writings, and Sermons, and conferences of the Preachers of the Gospel, is the word of God, as to the Doctrinal sense; but not as to the terms or Grammatical sense, except when they recite the Scripture words, as in the original or translated.

8. Baptism is a holy Sacrament instituted by Christ, in which a person professing the Christian faith (or the Infant of such a Pro­fessor) is (regularly by a minister of Christ) baptized in water into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, in signification and solemnization of the ho­ly Covenant, in which as a Penitent Believer [Page 30] (or the seed of such) he giveth up himself (or is by the Parent given up) to God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, from hence­forth (or from the time of natural capacity) to Believe in, Love, and serve this blessed Trinity, against the Flesh, the World, and Devil, and this especially on the account of Redemption: and (if he sincerely make this Covenant) is solemnly entred a member of Christ and his Church, a justified reconciled Child of God, and an heir of Heaven: all which, with the other present benefits of the Covenant, he is hereby instated (or in­vested) in; they being thus solemnly deli­vered to him by the Promise thus sealed, and applyed by an appointed Minister of Christ.

Or if some of us doubt whether these special benefits of the Covenant are deliver­ed thus to all the Infants that are sincerely dedicated unto God; yet we are all agreed, that they are assured to them as soon as they believe: and in the interim of their incapa­city, they have a general promise that God will be their God, and his mercy shall be to them.

9. It is a notable part of the ministerial Office to Baptize: and consequently to try and judge of their Profession who are thus [Page 31] solemnly to be admitted into the Church, and estated by Baptism in these benefits: Therefore hath Christ given the Keys of his Kingdom to their trust, both that his holy Church may be preserved from the unjust intrusions of uncapable persons: and that the faithful Covenanters may have the ful­ler consolation, by receiving a sealed pro­mise and pardon, from the hand of a minister of Christ, commanded by him to seal and de­liver it in his name.

10. We are perswaded that it is the Will of Christ that the Infants of the faithful shall be dedicated to him in Baptism, and engaged in his Covenant, and made mem­bers of his visible Church, because we find that under the promise before Christs Incar­nation it was their duty to devote and engage their Children to God in the holy Covenant, and that God did accept them as visible members of his Church; And we never find where Christ had discharged Parents from this duty, or turned all Infants out of his Church, and reversed this bles­sing of their Church-membership; but con­trarily we find him offering to have taken the Jewish Nation to be still his Church, if they would have taken him for their Savi­our; and telling us that it was for Unbelief, [Page 32] that they were broken off; and that it is but some of the branches that were broken off, and we are graffed in amongst them into the same Olive-tree, and that all Israel shall be saved, when the fulness of the Gentiles is come in; And we find Christ rebuking his Disciples for hindering little Children from being offered to him, and that he charged them to forbid it no more, and that he re­ceived and blessed them himself, and tels us that of such is the Kingdom of God; and we find it the Commission given to his Mi­nisters, that they were to Disciple the Na­tions, Baptizing them. All which, and much more (especially having not the least intimation of his Will against that which was even then the Duty and Practice of the Parents, and the Infants benefit) do deter us from forbidding the dedication of Chil­dren unto Christ, and receiving them into his Church by Baptism.

11. Baptism being so great a work, should be deliberately, seriously and reve­rently performed, if it may be, publikely before the Church, where the person (or Parent) should make their solemn pro­fession, and be received with the joy and prayers of the Church; whether Infant or Adult.

[Page 33] 12. The Catholick Church consisteth of all the Christians in the world: Those that have the sanctifying Spirit of Christ are the living members: Those that openly profess Christianity, and enter into Covenant with Christ, and are not yet Baptized, are visible members initially, but the solemni­zation and investiture is defective; If it be where Baptism cannot be had, the de­fect is innocent; If where it may be had, it is sinful: but yet not such as nullifieth the persons visible Christianity. And no errours, offences or differences do exclude any totally from the Catholick Church, while all the essentials of Christianity are kept.

13. It is the will of Christ that all Chri­stians that have opportunity, be members of some particular Church, as well as of the universal: that he may have the honour, and they the great and necessary benefits, that by the Ministry, Ordinances and Communion of Saints, is there to be ex­pected.

14. A particular Christian Church, is [A competent number of Christians coha­biting, who by the appointment of Christ, and their own expressed Consent, are uni­ted (or associated) under one or more [Page 34] Pastors, for the right worshipping of God in publick, and the Edification of the members, in Knowledge and Holiness, and the main­taining of their obedience to Christ, for the safety, strength and beauty of the society, and thereby the Glorifying and pleasing of the Lord.] It is a Political organized society, that is here defined, and not a meer Community that is incapable of the Sacra­ments and other Ordinances, and the benefits of them, for want of Over­seers.

15. Those Ministers that are placed in Parishes, where are many sorts of people, some Ignorant of the essentials of Christia­nity, some Apostates, some impious and of wicked lives, and some that consent not to be members of their Pastoral charge, should teach them all that will submit and learn: For we are called to it by the Magistrate and obliged by the publike maintenance which we receive to that end; and engaged by the general com­mand of improving our talents, and the special opportunity that we have there­unto.

16. This teaching of all our Parishioners that will submit, must be both personally and publikely, as far as we have ability and [Page 35] opportunity. The former must be by Cate­chizing, and conference; wherein we must teach them first the essential points of Chri­stianity, and labour to help them to the clearest understanding of the doctrine of Salvation; and press it on their affe­ctions, and help them to discern their sin and misery, and do all that we can to procure their conversion or edification, according to their several states; manage­ing the whole work with those holy affe­ctions, that the weight of it doth re­quire.

17. The great necessity of our neigh­bours, and the advantages of this familiar way, do tell us that this work of catechizing and conference is so great a part of our duty, that we should do it with much dili­gence, prudence and constancy. And the ge­neral precepts of doing all to edification and in order, oblige us ordinarily to appoint a stated time and place where every family may come in order; And if we are able we should go to them, that cannot or will not come to us, if they will but hear us.

18. Those that are Baptized in Infancy, and there engaged to God in the holy Co­venant, should with all possible care and diligence, be educated by the Parents, or [Page 36] any that have the tuition of them, in the Nurture and admonition of the Lord, and taught betimes to know the doctrine of the Gospel, and to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and to Love God above all, and their neighbours as themselves, and to hate iniquity, and live to God, and first to seek his Kingdom and righteousness; To which end Parents should Catechize their Chil­dren, and daily be teaching them the word of God, and acquainting them with his fear and holy worship. And ministers must with special care and diligence oversee the several families of their charge, and excite the Parents to this necessary duty. And also should themselves assist them herein, and Catechize such youth (as well as all others that are Ignorant) as often as they can; especially where Parents do neg­lect it.

19. As Infants are by baptism admitted among the Infant-members of the Church, upon their Parents profession of Christiani­ty, and dedicating them to God; so must they personally make a profession of their own faith, and own their baptismal Cove­nant, and give up themselves to God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, before they are to be admitted into the number and Com­munion [Page 37] of the Adult members of the Church; Which profession is to be tryed and approved of by the Pastors of the Church: And so excellent a duty, to be carefully, and seriously, and solemnly per­formed, that the transition into the state and communion of the Adult, may ap­pear to be so great and observable a thing, as may excite all to an answerable care and diligence, in preparation thereunto, and to look after that saving faith and holiness, which they must so solemnly profess. And Ministers should have a special care, that they take nothing for a credible profes­sion, that is not so: and corrupt not the Church by letting in uncapable members, that must either be cast out again, to the grievous exasperating them against the Church and way of God, and so to the apparent hazzard of their souls: or else must live ungoverned in their wickedness, to the great dishonour of God, and the provocation of his wrath against them and the Church.

20. For the publike worshiping of God, and our own Edification, the Pastors, where there is opportunity, must congregate the people in a solemn Assembly in a con­venient place and time. And all that can [Page 38] must constantly there attend, preferring the publike worship of God before the private: much more before their world­ly businesses, that are not of flat necessity to themselves or others.

21. In these publike Assemblies it is lawful for us to admit, even, Infidels to be present, and such Catechumen's as are yet unfit to be members of the Church, and there to teach, reprove and ex­hort them, and pray for them according to their state: though we may not re­ceive them to be members of the Church, nor admit them to our special com­munion.

22. Because it is the holy Scriptures that containe that Gospel of which we are Mi­nisters; and because the honour of Gods holy word is to be preserved, and the people to be instructed in it, and taught to know it; it is therefore our duty in the solemn As­semblies to read the word of God to the people, in a known tongue; (as Moses and the Prophets were read every Sabbath day in the Synagogues of the Jews.) Such portions being chosen, and order observed, as the Pastors discern to be most for edifica­tion.

23. Our publike preaching of the Go­spel [Page 39] should be from faith and holy expe­rience, with plainness, and perspicuity, with reverence and gravity, with convincing evidence and authority, with fervent zeal, and perswading importunity, with the ten­derest love and melting compassion, with faithfulness, impartiality and prudence, suiting both matter and manner to the necessity of the hearers, and with frequency and unwearied patience, waiting on God for the success.

24. The Pastor is to lead, and the peo­ple to consent and joyn in heart in the pub­like prayers, and unanimously to pour out their souls unto the Lord in penitent con­fession of sin, and fervent petition, and joyful thanksgiving and praise: and this according to the direction of the holy Scri­ptures; and especially of the Lords prayer: which is the most perfect, comprehensive summary, form and pattern of our pray­ers.

25. Confession is to be made, both of our own sin, and the sins of the Church and Nation, of Magistrates, Ministers and Peo­ple: yet so as that we turn it not into a reproaching and dishonouring of our su­periours, or an abusing of mens persons, by venting our malice or distempered passions, [Page 40] or uncharitable censures against them; we must confess our original and actual sin: The great corruption of our hearts and lives: our sinful thoughts, affections, words and actions: our privative and po­sitive sin: out omissions and commissions: our secret and unknown sins in general, and our known and open sins by name: our sins of ignorance, and sins against know­ledge: our sins before and since conversion: our sins against the Lord himself, consisting in our unholiness, contrary to the first ta­ble; and our unjustice and uncharitable­ness against our neighbour; and our folly and injury against our selves: The sins of our relations, and of our more private life: our sins against the light and law of nature; and our sins against the Gospel and grace of a Redeemer: Against the outward means of Grace, and against the inward motions of the Spirit, and of our consci­ences: against mercies and judgements: against the examples of Christ and his ser­vants, and the warning-falls of others; especially those sins by which we have most dishonoured God and our holy profession; and have most scandalized, hardened or tempted others: And all our confessions should proceed from true contrition and hatred of the sin.

[Page 41] 26. Our petitions must be only for things agreeable to the revealed will of God: And principally for the hallowing of his name, and the coming of his Kingdom, and the doing of his will, in earth, as it is in heaven: And therefore we must have compassionate thoughts of the dark and miserable parts of the world, where by Heathenism, Infideli­ty and Mahometanism, the name of God is grievously dishonoured, and his Sove­raignty denied or rejected, and Satans Kingdom doth prevail, and where the will of God is partly unknown, and partly will­fully disobeyed: And our eye and heart must be on the state of the universal Church, that all this interest of God-in-Christ, may be there preserved and ad­vanced. And in order to these blessed ends, we must beg such necessaries of our life, as the supportation of our natures for the work of God requireth: And the for­giveness of all our sins through Christ (which yet we cannot expect to receive, if we from our hearts forgive not others:) And a gratious preservation from tempta­tions, or the power of them, and from Satan and sin the greatest evils: That so the holi­ness of our hearts and lives may shew that we are the loyal subjects of the Kingdom of [Page 42] our Lord, and that we acknowledge and magnifie his Soveraign power, and live as a people devoted to his glory. And all this we must beg in an humble sense of our great unworthiness, misery, necessity and insuffi­ciency to help our selves; and in the name of Christ, in understanding and faith (and therefore not in a tongue that we under­stand not) and with fervency and uncessant importunity, as directed, excited and strengthened by the Spirit of Christ.

27. Our thanksgiving unto God must not be like the Pharisees, in hypocrisie and pride, or to make ostentation of things that we never had, but in humility and holy joyfulness of mind, we must declare our thankfulness, for our Creation, Redempti­on, Justification and Reconciliation with God, our Sanctification, and all the parts thereof, and helps thereunto: For the Go­spel and Ministery; and the plantation, preservation and propagation of the Church thereby: for common and special works of providence, for the good of the Church, our brethren or our selves: for mercies ordi­nary or extraordinary: spiritual or corpo­ral: for prevention of evils, or removing them: for the quality and degree, the suita­bleness and seasonableness of all our mer­cies, [Page 43] with the rest of their aggravations: especially for those that most promote our everlasting happiness, and the publike good and glory of the Lord.

28. The matter of our holy praises of the Lord, must be his blessed and infinite Being and Nature, and all his Attributes: his in­finite Power, and Wisdom, and Goodness: his Truth, and Holiness, and Love: his ab­solute Dominion, his Soveraignty, and Fa­therly benignity: his Justice and his Mercy: even as they are revealed in the works of the Creation, and in the glass of the holy Scripture, and in the person of Jesus Christ, and in the Image of God upon his Saints: And all these his works also must be praised in subserviency to his praise. And because it is a most high and excellent duty to praise the Lord, we must strive to do it with all the faith, and reverence, and admiration, and love, and delight, and joy, and cheer­fulness that possibly we can attain: and this with constancy as our daily work, with our eye on heaven, where we shall do it in per­fection to all eternity.

29. As the holy Scriptures should be read in a tongue that the people under­stand, so should the purest exactest transla­tion of them be used that can be had: And [Page 44] though it be not of absolute necessity to the communion or peace of the Churches; yet it is to be desired and endeavoured, that all neighbour Churches that are of one lan­guage do all agree in the use of that one translation.

30. Though in cases of necessity the Go­spel may be publikely expounded and ap­plied by the reading of the Expositions and Sermons of others, yet as it is meet that the Preachers of the Gospel be able to perform this work themselves; by the abilities given them from God, in the use of just and edi­fying means; so it is meet that by diligent studying, meditation and prayer, these abilities be improved; and that from this holy and spiritual treasure within them, the Ministers of Christ do draw forth sound Explication, with pertinent lively Applicati­on of the truth.

31. So also in the publike prayers, though it be lawful (in it self) to read the words of prayer prescribed us by others; yet as all Ministers should be able to pray themselves from the knowledge and feeling of their own and the peoples wants, so it is meet that their graces and holy abilities be ordi­narily exercised in such prayer, and that they be not restrained from speaking to [Page 45] God in such sound and meet expressions, as shall either presently, or by the means of their preparations, proceed from the sense of the matter of their prayers, excited and drawn forth by the assistance of the Spirit of Christ. But whether any particular Pa­stor should use a stinted form of words imposed by others, or invented by himself, or whether he shall pray without such stint­ed forms, or both, by turns, is a point to be determined according to his own abilities, and the state of his flock, and other ac­cidents: but it is not to be made a matter of such necessity in it self, as to lay the unity or peace of the Churches, or the liberty of the Pastors and Worshippers of Christ up­on it.

32. The Publike Praises of God must be expressed by the Pastor in such words as are produced by that holy knowledge, faith, admiration, love and delight, with which his soul should be possessed that is so nigh to God; and also by the recitation of sacred Psalms and Hymns, and by the cheerfull singing of such by the Church: wherein the melody must be spiritually, and not carnally used: for the assisting of our souls in the exercise of that holy alacrity and joy that is required in so high a work; [Page 46] and not to draw off our minds from the matter, nor to stop at the pleasing of our ears. Such Psalms also may be recited or sung, as contain matter of confession of sin, petition, thanksgiving, and such narratives as tend to praise.

33. The form of words to be said and sung, must be taken especially out of the holy Scriptures: to which use we have the Psalms of David and other Hymns: And also we may use such as have been or shall be composed by wise and holy men, agreeable to the doctrine of the Scripture, and fuited to the Gospel frame of worship, and as far as may be, even in Scripture phrase. And though it be not meet to insist upon a con­cord in lesser things, when it cannot be at­tained without the violation of concord in greater things; yet is it much to be desired and endeavoured that all the Churches of the same language (especially that are near and in the same dominions) should agree in using the same Psalms and Hymns for mat­ter and meeter; and that the version so agreed on, be the best that they can have.

34. The Eucharist or Supper of the Lord is [a holy Sacrament instituted by Christ, wherein bread and wine being first by con­secration [Page 47] made Sacramentally or represen­tatively the Body and Blood of Christ, they are used by breaking and pouring out, to represent and commemorate the sacrifice of Christs Body and Blood upon the Cross, once offered up to God for sin: and are given in the name of Christ unto the Church, to signifie and solemnize the re­newal of his holy Covenant with them, and sealing it unto them, and the giving of him­self to them to expiate their sins by his sa­crifice, and sanctifie them further by his Spirit, and confirm their right to everlast­ing life: and they are received, eaten and drunk by the Church, to profess that they willingly receive Christ himself to the ends aforesaid, (their Justification, Sanctification and Glorification) and to signifie and so­lemnize the renewal of their Covenant with him, and their holy Communion with him, and with one another.]

35. The Sacrament of the Lords Supper containeth in it these three parts. 1. The Consecration of the Bread and Wine. 2. The Representation and Commemora­tion of the Sacrifice of Christ. 3. And the giving to, and participation by the Church. The Consecration hath chief respect unto God the Father: the Representation and [Page 48] Commemoration to the Son as sacrificed: and the Giving and Participation, to the applying operations of the Holy Ghost. As it must first be the Body and Blood of Christ before it be sacrificed, and first offer­ed in sacrifice to God, before it is offered for nourishment and salvation unto men; so is it in the order of Sacramental represen­tation.

36. The Consecration is performed by the Churches offering up the Creatures of Bread and Wine to God to be accepted to this holy use: and by Gods acceptance of them, as dedicated thereunto. The Churches dedication is expressed by the present acti­on, and Gods acceptance is expressed by his command and promise, and the ministerial acception and benediction. The Minister in this action is the agent of the people in offering or dedicating these creatures unto God, and he is Gods Agent or Minister in receiving and blessing them.

37. In this dedication of the Bread and Wine to God to be the consecrated matter of the commemorative representative sa­crifice, the Church acknowledgeth the three grand relations of God to his people. 1. We acknowledge him the Creator and Owner of all the Creatures. 2. We ac­knowledge [Page 49] him our Righteous Soveraign Ruler, whose Law we have offended, and who hath received the attonement, and whose Laws we do herein obey. And, 3. We acknowledge him our Father, or bounteous benefactor, by whom we are sustained, and whose love we have forfeited, and with whom we desire by Christ to be reconciled.

38. This consecration maketh not the Bread to be no Bread, or the Wine to be no longer Wine; nor doth it make any addition to, or change upon the glorified real Body of Christ; but it maketh the Bread to be Sacramentally Christs Body; and the Wine to be Sacramentally his Blood; that is re­presentatively: as an Actor in a Tragedy is the person whom he representeth: or as in Investitures, a sword is the honour of Knighthood, or a key is the house, or a twig or turf is the land.

39. Because Christ was to be invisible to us, and the heavens must receive him till the restoration of all things, therefore as he hath sent his Spirit within to be his Agent in his members; so hath he appointed his Ordinances without, and especially this vi­sible solemn Representation and Comme­moration of his sacrifice; that our faith [Page 50] might hereby be helped, and our souls might be raised to such apprehensions of his love and the mercy of our Redemption, as if we had even seen him crucified before our eyes, and this till his glorious return, when we shall enjoy him visibly in his glory.

40. As Christ in his Intercession, as our high Priest in the heavens, procureth and conveyeth his benefits of salvation upon the account of his sacrifice once offered on the Cross; so doth the Church in this Com­memoration, present him unto God the Father, as the sacrificed Lamb, in whom they profess themselves to believe, and by whom alone they expect salvation, and all the blessings tending thereunto.

41. In this Commemoration the Mini­ster is chiefly the Agent of Christ, in repre­senting his voluntary offering up himself unto the Father in sacrifice for sin: And he is the Agent of the people, in that part of the Commemoration, in which they pro­fess their Believing in a crucified Christ, and thankfulness for him, and dependance on him as their hope.

42. Jesus Christ having finished the work of Redemption, which he was to do on earth, in the days of his flesh, ascended and is glorified with the Father, and being [Page 51] become the perfect head and treasure of the Church, hath in his Testament or new Co­venant made a free gift of himself and life to all that will receive him as he is offered; and he hath appointed his Ministers not on­ly to proclaim this gift unto the world, but also in his name to deliver it to the Church: And it is a great encouragement and com­fort to Believers, that it is a Minister or Agent of Christ himself, that by his com­mand, and in his name doth say to them [Take ye, eat ye, this is my Body which is broken for you.] And [this is my Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you, drink ye all of it]; Christ himself with his saving benefits, being herewith as truly offered to their faith, as the signs and re­presentations are offered to their hands and mouths. Though it be still but (consecrat­ed) bread and wine that doth represent, yet is it the very Body and Blood of Christ that is represented; and Christ himself as the Head of the Church, and fountain of our renewed life, and as our spiritual nourish­ment, that is truly given us, and received by us.

43. It is therefore unmeet for any but a lawful Minister of Christ, who is authorized hereunto, to administer this holy Sacra­ment: [Page 52] both because no other are called to it in the holy Scripture, nor can shew any warrant for such an undertaking; and be­cause it is very injurious to the comfort of the Church, when they know not that the person hath any authority to deliver them so great a mercy from the Lord, nor whe­ther Christ will own his ministration.

44. The Ministers must partake of this holy Sacrament with the Church: not as they are the Agents of Christ for the delive­ry of it, but as they themselves are his Disci­ples and members of the Chruch.

45. Before the receiving of this holy Sacrament we ought to examine our selves, that we may come preparedly with repen­tance for all known sin, and faith in Christ, and an humble feeling of our own necessi­ties, and a thankful sense of the love of God expressed in our redemption by Christ, and a hungring and thirsting after him and his righteousness, and with an unfeigned love unto our brethren, and a high estimation of the union and communion of the Saints, and with a resolution to walk in holy obe­dience to God, in patient hope of the com­ing of Christ, and of the everlasting King­dom, where we shall be perfectly in him united: which holy affections are also to [Page 53] be exercised in the time of our Communion in this Sacrament, and afterwards upon the review of what we have here received and done.

46. The Word and Prayer must be joyn­ed with the Sacrament. The nature and use of it must be opend, and the people ex­cited to the exercise of the duties before mentioned. Sin must be confessed and la­mented, and mercy implored, and thankfully acknowledged, and the goodness of God, especially manifested in the work of our Redemption, must with the greatest admi­ration, alacrity and joy that we can attain to, be magnified and praised, till this un­speakable love of God in Christ hath drawn out our hearts in fervent love to him again. And it will be most suitable to this Eucha­ristical Ordinance, that the Church do sing some Psalm or Hymn of praise to God, for the mercies of our Redemption.

47. Those are to be invited to the Sup­per of the Lord that have these necessary qualifications, in some degree, and the rest to be acquainted with the danger of eating and drinking unworthily. Those only are to be admitted to the Table of the Lord that have the use of reason, and can examine themselves, and are members [Page 54] of the Church, and have made a personal credible profession of faith and holiness, and are not justly, for heresie or any scanda­lous sin, removed from present communion with the Church.

48. The using or not using of forms of prayer in the administration of this Sacra­ment, is to be determined of, as aforesaid in the other parts of worship, according to the different abilities of Ministers, and state of the several congregations, and other ac­cidents that should weigh in such indifferent things. But as in the Administration of Baptism, it is ordinarily meetest and most safe, to use the express form of words which Christ hath directed us to, and the Church hath still used, viz. [I Baptize thee in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost]: so in the Administration of the Sacrament of the Lords Supper, it is safest and meetest that we use the words that Christ by his example hath directed us to use. As Matth. 26. 26, 27, 28. Luk. 22. 19, 20. 1 Cor. 11. 24, 25. viz. [Take ye, eat ye, this is my Body which is broken for you, this do in remembrance of me] and [This is the Blood of Christ, even of the New Testament (or this is the New Testa­ment in the Blood of Christ) which is shed [Page 55] for many for the remission of sins; drink ye all of it in remembrance of him.]

49. As it is not unmeet for the Church at other times when they assemble, to make a solemn profession of the Christian faith and of holy obedience, to manifest their constancy therein; and to declare what doctrine it is that we assemble to profess, and to preserve it in the minds of all; so is it more especially meet, that at Baptism and the Lords Supper, when we are solemnly to renew our Covenant with the Lord, the Covenanters do renew this solemn Professi­on: To which end it is most safe to make use of the ancient forms of Confession, called, The Apostles Creed, and the Nicene Creed; and also to recite the Ten Com­mandments, with a profession of our con­sent to the terms of the Covenant with God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. To which if we (at lest sometimes) adjoyn some fuller Explication of the Creed and Decalogue (such as is our Profession here before set down) it will not be unprofitable or un­meet. And in such manner it may all be managed, and such signs or expressions of consent required, as the Pastors shall judge meet for the attainment of the desired ends, with liberty for such variations, as are [Page 56] necessary to prevent a dead formality.

50. At the dismission of the Assembly, it is meet that the Pastor do solemnly bless them in the name of Christ, to which he is authorized as an act of his Ministerial Office.

51. Deacons are Church-Officers insti­tuted by the Holy Ghost to be serviceable to the Pastors and the Church, by the distri­bution of the Creatures dedicated to the Church-Communion, and taking care for the supplying of the necessities of the poor, out of the contributions or stock of the Church.

52. The first day of the week is appoint­ed or separated by the Holy Ghost for the holy Assemblies and publike worship of the Church and other holy exercises; and is herein to be improved to the honour of God, and the edification of our selves and others: and all other imployments are therein to be avoided that any way hinder the holy duties of the day; except such as become a greater duty, upon the account of Piety, Justice or Mercy. That some stated [Page 57] time be separated to the publike service of God and the benefit of our souls, is a thing that the law of Nature doth command; that this stated time should be at least one day in seven, the reason and equity (at least) of the fourth Commandment doth acquaint us: that this day should be every first day of the week, the Holy Ghost in the New Testament hath revealed to us; ac­quainting us with Christs rising on that day (which laid the foundation of the change) and of the Assembling of his Disci­ples on that day, and his owning their Assembly by his appearing to them, and teaching them, and blessing them, and giving them their commission and the Holy Ghost, Joh. 20. 19, to 24. The same they did the next first day, where he again ap­peared and owned their Assembly, and re­vealed himself unto them, Joh. 20. 26, 27. And that this was the practice of the Apo­stles and the Primitive Christian Churches directed by them, appeareth Act. 20. 7, 8. 1 Cor. 16. 1, 2. so that it was called the Lords Day, as the last day before was called the Sabbath, Rev. 1. 10. And to put us out of all doubt of the matter of fact, and con­sequently of the meaning of these texts of Scripture; the certain Tradition and most [Page 58] Concordant history of the Church assureth us, that ever since the days of the Apostles, the universal Church in all parts of the world, hath constantly observed the Lords Day in Commemoration of the Resurre­ction of Christ: which it is not possible that they could have done, without contradi­ction and rebukes from the Apostles them­selves or some of the Churches which they planted, if it had not been a certain truth. Those therefore that will be against the holy observation of the Lords Day, must either impudently deny the Testimony of all Church History and Tradition, which with one consent assure us that it was ob­served universally in the Christian Churches from the Apostles daies, as a thing by them established and practised; or else they must imagine that all the dispersed Churches through the world conspired in the teaching and practising of such an error without any known re­buke, wherein it had been most easie for any to have convicted them to be slanderers of the Apostles, or the Ages that were before them. Having therefore so much in Na­ture, in the fourth Commandment, in the New Testament, and the Doctrine and Practice of the universal Church, for our [Page 59] holy observation of this day; it ill beseems any Christian to forsake all or any of these, and think now in the end of the world to find out the certain practice of the Apo­stles, better then all the Churches which they planted.

53. Seeing the Lords Day is purposely set apart for the celebrating of the memori­all of the Resurrection of Christ, and so of the work of our Redemption (as the Sab­bath was for the Commemorating of the work of Creation), the work of the day must be very much Eucharistical, and the Church should be taken up in the thankful admiration of the mysterie and mercy of our Redemption, and in the affectionate praises of the Lord our Redeemer, and an aspiring after the everlasting Rest, which he hath purchased, and promised, and prepared for us with himself.

54. Ministers must not only perform the publike worship of God upon this day, but also exhort the people to improve the rest of it in private, by prayer, and medita­tion, and holy conference, and calling to mind the Word which they have heard; especially the Parents and Masters of fami­lies, who must instruct their children and servants, and watch over them, and restrain [Page 60] them from the violation of the day, and call them to an account of the doctrine they have heard, and the duties to be per­formed.

55. It is lawful, and a duty on other daies also, according to our necessities and op­portunities, to Redeem some time for the publike worship of God. And whenever the Pastors shall call the Church together, to hear the Word, or perform holy worship, it is the peoples duty obediently and gladly to attend, if greater duties do not prohibit them.

56. When great afflictions lie upon the Church, or any useful members of it; or when any great sins have been committed among them, it is meet that in publike by fasting and prayer we humble our selves before the Lord, for the averting of his displeasure. And on such occasions it is the Pastors duty to confess his own and the peoples sins, with penitence and tenderness of heart, and by his doctrine and exhorta­tion to endeavour effectually to bring the people to the sight and sense of their sin, and the deserts of it, and to a firm resolution of better obedience for the time to come; being importunate with God in Prayer for pardon and renewed Grace.

[Page 61] 57. Upon the receipt of any notable ex­traordinary mercies, the Church having opportunity, should Assemble for publike Thanksgiving unto God: wherein the Pastors should stir them up to the livelyest sense of the greatness of their mercies, and lead them in a joyful celebration of the praises of their bountiful benefactor. And it is lawful on these daies to express our joy in feasting and outward signs of mirth; provided that they be moderately and spiritually used, and not to gratifie our sen­sual desires; and that we relieve the poor in their necessities (which also on daies of Humiliation and other seasons we must not forget.)

58. It is not unlawful or unmeet to keep an anniversary commemoration of some great and notable mercies to the Church, the memory whereof should be transmitted to posterity.

59. In all the modes and circumstances of worship which God himself hath left unde­termined, all Christians must take heed of making unnecessary things to be necessary, and laying the unity and peace of the Church on things indifferent, and laying snares for the consciences of others; but must leave much to the prudence of the [Page 62] particular Pastors that are upon the place, to whom it belongs to fit such circum­stantials to their peoples state; and the Churches in such things wherein they may safely differ, must be left to their liberty: Long and sad experience having taught us, that the violent imposing of unnecessary things, is the engine of the Devil to tear the Church.

60. The marriage of Christians being a work of great concernment to themselves, and meet to be publikely performed, and accordingly to be sanctified by the Word and Prayer; it is convenient that it be solemnized by the Minister, or at least that he counsell and exhort them, and pray for a blessing on them: being first sufficiently satisfied of their capacity and necessary pre­parations. Herein he is to acquaint them with the Institution, Nature and Ends of their Relations; and the duties severally and joyntly by them to be performed; and the difficulties and temptations to be ex­pected and provided for. Especially they are to be directed to live together in holi­ness, as the heirs of life, and to be very care­full and diligent in the holy education of their children, and governing their families for the Lord; and to use the world as not [Page 63] abusing it, remembring their approaching separation by death. And he is to see that they solemnly enter into the Ma­trimonial Covenant, engaging themselves to conjugal fidelity to each other, until they are separated by death.

61. The Pastors of the Churches must not only Teach the people, and guide them in the publike worship: but also must faithfully Oversee them in private, endea­vouring to know and watch over each mem­ber of their flock, preserving them from he­resies, errours, and divisions: defending the Truth, confuting gainsayers and seducers; instructing the Ignorant, exciting the neg­ligent; encouraging the despondent; com­forting the afflicted, confirming the weak, rebuking and admonishing the disorderly and scandalous, and directing all accord­ing to their needs, in the matters of their Salvation. And the people in such needs should have ordinary recourse to them, as the Officers of Christ, for guidance and re­solution of their doubts, and for assistance in making their Salvation sure, and pro­curing, maintaining or restoring the peace [Page 64] of their consciences, and spiritual consola­tion.

62. Those persons that are known to commit any gross and scandalous sin, should first by private reproof and admoni­tion (unless where the notoriousness and heinousness of the crime doth presently call for publike reproof) be called to Repen­tance: And if they hear not the Repro­vers, or will not Reform, the Church must be told of it: and therein it is most conve­nient, that the Pastors be first acquainted with the case (to avoid contention and confusion,) before it be brought into the publike assembly: And to that end it is convenient that there be stated meetings where the Pastors and some chosen members of the Church, (not as Officers, but the Deputies or Trustees of the rest) should in their several capacities take cognizance of such offences; that so a unity and full correspondence may be held between the Pastors and the flock, and all things may be done advisedly, orderly, and concordant­ly: but where this cannot well be done, the Pastor or Pastors must do their work with­out it.

63. Those persons that by more private means will not be brought to necessary [Page 65] Repentance and Reformation, must by the Pastor be publikely reproved and admo­nished before the Church, and there called to Repentance by the opening of their sin, and the judgements of the Lord, and plead­ing with them those Gospel mercies and motives that should melt them into contri­tion. And if the success do not appear, it is ordinarily meet that the Church should joyn in prayer for the offender, that God would give him repentance unto life.

64. If after sufficient waiting in the use of these means, the offendor still remain impenitent, it is the duty of the Church to reject him out of their communion. Where­in the Pastors must compassionately declare his offence and his Impenitency, and the Judgements that God hath threatned to such, and the Laws of Christ commanding the Church to put such from among them, and avoid them, and have no company with them, that they may be ashamed, or to take them as Heathen men or Publicans: and must accordingly declare the person offend­ing to be unmeet for Christian Communion, and charge the people to avoid him, and have no fellowship with him, and himself to forbear the Communion of Christians, binding him over to answer it at the bar of [Page 66] Christ. Which sentence must be accord­ingly executed by the Pastors, in refusing him the Ordinances proper to the Church, and by the people in avoiding familiari­ty and communion with him, till he be re­stored upon his Repentance.

65. It must be a credible Profession of Re­pentance only that must be accepted by the Church either for the preventing of such a rejection, or for restoring the rejected. And usually when the case is heinous and notorious, or the Church hath had the pub­like cognizance of it, they must also have publike notice of the penitence of the offen­dor; who should with remorse of conscience and true contrition confess his sin before the Congregation, and heartily lament it, and crave the prayers of the Church to God for pardon and reconciliation through Christ, and also crave an Absolution by the Mini­ster, and a restoration into the communion of the Church: But because it much depend­eth on circumstances of the case whether the Confession should be publike or pri­vate, or in what manner made, it is there­fore to be much left to the Prudence of the Pastors, whom the people in such cases are commanded to obey.

66. When a credible Profession of Re­pentance [Page 67] is made (whether voluntarily by the Converted, or upon the Churches ad­monition by the scandalous, or after ex­communication) it is the duty of the Pa­stors to declare such Penitents in the name of Christ to be pardoned and absolved, and Ministerially to give them this Mercy from the Lord, in case their Repentance be sin­cere as they profess: And if the person were excommunicate, it is the duty of the Pastor to declare him again meet for the Communion of the Church, and require the Church to receive him with joy as a return­ing sinner, and not to reproach him with his falls, but to forgive him; as Christ for­giveth him; all which they are accordingly to perform; and the Penitent with Joy to receive his absolution, and to return to the Communion of the Church, and to a more holy careful obedient life.

67. When any by frequent Covenant­breaking, have forfeited the Credit of their words, the Church must have testimony of the actual Reformation of such persons, be­fore they can receive their professions and promises as credible any more. Though yet there is so great difference here in per­sons and offences, that the particular cases must be much left to the prudence of the [Page 68] Pastors that are present, and know the per­sons and the whole case.

68. So great is the necessity of the sick, and so seasonable and advantagious the opportunity, that Ministers should not neg­ligently omit them, but in Love and tender­ness instruct them, according to their seve­ral conditions: endeavouring the Conver­sion of the ungodly, and the strengthening of the weak, and comforting such as need Consolation; directing them how to im­prove their affliction; and helping them to be truly sensible of the evil of sin, the miscarriages and negligences of their lives; the vanity of the world; the necessity and sufficiency of Christ, and the certainty and excellency of the everlasting Glory: Per­swading them to a pious, just and charitable disposal of their worldly estate; and to forgive such as have wronged them, and to be reconciled to those with whom they have been at variance; and believingly to hope for that life with Christ, which he hath pro­mised to all that are sanctified by his Spirit, and comfortably to commit their souls to their Redeemer, and quietly rest in the Will, and Love, and Promises of God; Resolving if God should recover them to health, to Redeem their time, and live as a people de­voted [Page 69] to his Glory. It is meet also that the Pastors pray for the sick, both privately and publikely when it is desired and thought fit.

69. The Burial of Christians should be decent and honourable, and though it be a thing indifferent in it self, whether Ex­hortations, Funeral Sermons or Prayers be then used, yet because the season is very advantagious for mens reception of holy instructions, it is convenient (at least when desired) that the Minister do take that season as often as he can, to mind people of their mortality, and the necessity of a speedy preparation for their change: so prudently managing all his Exhortations and Prayers, that the due end may be at­tained, and the abuse prevented as far as may be.

70. The lives of Christs Ministers should be conformable to their holy doctrine: and so exemplary in Innocency, Love, Humility, Meekness, Patience, Contempt of the world, crucifying the desires of the flesh, and in a zealous heavenly conversation, and in all works of Piety, Justice and charity, within their power, that the mouths of the enemies may be stopped, and the people may learn, and be convinced and directed, even by [Page 70] their holy examples, and our selves may be saved, and the Christian Church and do­ctrine may be honoured, to the glory of the Holy Ghost and of our Redeemer, and our heavenly Father.

71. As we have all one God, one Christ, one Spirit, one Faith, and Hope, and Love, one Covenant, and one Catholike Church, so should the Communion of Saints extend as far as their capacity and opportunities will allow. And as particular persons must Associate for personal Communion in pub­like worship, so particular Churches should associate for such Brotherly correspondency and communion, as they are capable of, and their needs require; That by communica­ting the Truths and Mercies which they have received, and advising together, and by a brotherly collation of their apprehen­sions, and improvement of their several gifts, the unity of the Churches may be pre­served, and discords and uncharitableness may be avoided, and the beauty and strength of the Churches maintained. And therefore the Pastors of the neighbour Churches (not excluding others that are fit) should meet as frequently, and at such times [Page 71] and places, as the ends and works of the Association do require.

72. Into these Associations such Pastors and Churches should be received that make a credible Profession of Faith and Holiness, and no other: And they that are Hereticks, or of scandalous ungodly lives, must after a first and second admonition, if they re­main impenitent, be rejected and dis­owned by the Faithful Pastors and Chur­ches.

73. Where the fixing of a stated Presi­dent in each of these Associations is requisite for the peace and edification of the Bre­thren, it may well be yielded to: but how­ever a special care must be had to prevent contentions and divisions: and therefore perverse disputings must be suppressed; and proud, self-conceited, domineering persons, and such as are of fiery, turbulent, conten­tious spirits, and also subtile hereticks and dividers, must be watched against as the plague of the Churches, and all possible charity, humility, meekness, self-denyal, and zeal for holy concord, must be exer­cised.

74. Those that through distance or im­pediments cannot, or through mistakes or peevishness will not joyn in such stated bro­therly [Page 72] Associations and Assemblies, are yet to be allowed the due estimation and affecti­on of Brethren, and so much Communion as at a distance they are capable of, if they do but agree with us in a sound profession of the faith, and a holy conversation, and Mini­sterial fidelity in the main: but yet we must disown the sin of their dividing, or neglect, and as we have opportunity testifie against it.

75. These Churches that cannot hold lo­cal Communion with one another through differences that destroy not the Essentials of Christianity, should yet maintain a dear and tender Christian Love to one another, and profess their owning each other as Christians, and Churches of Jesus Christ, and should agree together upon certain just and equal Rules for the management of their unavoidable differences, so as may least prejudice charity and common good, and least harden the ungodly, or grieve the weak, or dishonour God, or hinder the success of Common, great and necessary Truths upon the souls of men; contriving and amicably promoting the Cause of Chri­stianity, and every part of it, in which they are agreed; and should open their disagree­ments to the people as little as they can.

[Page 73] 76. In cases of tolerable difference, as Ministers and People must maintain a special holy Love, and Communion as far as their differences will admit; so must they desire the well-fare and the Peace of one another, and not stir up hatred or persecution, against each other, by odious nick-names, or ex­asperating the Magistrate or people against dissenters; but should consent to the Liberty of each other, and help to take off unjust hatred, and to hinder all unmerciful violence or rigor against one another; And all of us should watch against and abhor that proud, self-conceited, domineering disposi­tion that would make us censorious, malici­ous, or cruel against the weakest servants of the Lord.

77. Yet must we not under pretence of Charity, consent to any such noxious Liber­ty, as plainly tendeth to the wrong of the Church, and the poysoning of the souls of others; nor yet must we consent to the errours of the best. Though we are not the judges of the secrets of mens hearts, nor may not deal uncharitably with any, yet must not heretical self-conceited persons be tolerated in the obstinate dispersing of their errours, to the destruction or danger of mens souls, nor to reproach and speak [Page 74] against the weighty necessary truths of God: Nor should any be tolerated to kindle the flames of uncharitableness and contentions in the Churches, by railing, re­proachful language against the tolerable dis­senters: But a healing, merciful, and profi­table, and not a destructive Toleration should be promoted.

78. The Pastors of the Churches of Christ have the power of the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, but not of the Temporal sword on earth: And though we determine not whether in cases of Necessity, it be lawful for Pastors to be also Magistrates; yet it is certain that without Necessity it should not be allowed (their work requiring all their time and strength) and that as Pastors it belongeth not to them; But as the Magi­strate is the appointed officer of God, to Govern even Churches, Pastors, and Peo­ple, in the way of outward force, and Pa­stors are his Officers to govern them by Spi­ritual Conduct; so must we be so far from desiring to usurp a secular power, that we should still advise the Magistrate to keep the sword in his own hand, and to take heed of putting compulsive power in the hands of Pastors, or enabling them to execute their passionate displeasure against their bre­thren: [Page 75] And as the Magistrate must not usurp the Pastors office, but only see that we per­form it our selves, and punish us if we do not; so must not the Pastors usurp the Magistrates office, but humbly and modestly teach and advise him from the word of God, and re­prove him, and threaten him, and in cases of extremity denounce the Wrath of God a­gainst him, and bind him over to the Tribu­nal of Heaven, to answer for his obstinate impenitent contempt; and then leave all the matter to that bar, and patiently suffer if we be persecuted by him; Not doing any thing in the management of any of our work, without a due respect and reverence to his Authority, and a care of the common good that dependeth on his honour, but re­membring what is meet for him to hear, and for us as Messengers of Christ to speak.

79. Those Churches of several Nations that through distance and diversity of secu­lar Governours, are uncapable of perso­nal or local Communion with others, should yet consent as neer as may be in their holy professions, and practises; not tying each other to any of their unnecessary modes or forms, nor uncharitably censuring any tolerable dissenters, but owning those Churches that agree with them in the great [Page 76] and necessary things, & holding such corre­spondence with them by Messengers, as shall be needful to the promoting of their Unity, Love and Peace, and of the Gospel and common cause of Christ, and the defence of each other against the common enemies of those, as emergent occasions shall require and direct them.

80. To the aforesaid uses, the Councils or Synods of Pastors are lawful and conve­nient in cases that require them, where the Pastors of several Churches and Nations may diliberate and determine in order to their Unity, of Doctrines and Practices to be Agrreed in, and may strengthen the hands of one another. But yet, the Canons of such Councils are rather Agreements, then proper Laws, to their several members or absent Brethren; and bind in order to Unity and Concord by vertue of those Ge­neral Commands that require us to do the work of God in such Unity and Concord, and not by vertue of any proper superior Regimental power, which that Council hath over the particular Bishops of the Churches of Christ. And as for General Councils, as we should to the forementioned ends regard and honour them above all other, if really such were lawfully assembled; so in this [Page 77] enlarged and dispersed state of the Militant Church, we may easily see, that full and proper Universal Councils, are neither the Stated Governors of the Universal Church, nor necessary to its well-being, no nor Law­ful to be attempted, as a Course that would certainly destroy or grievously wrong the Churches, by the death and long absence of the Pastors, through so many hundred and thousand miles travail, and so long attend­ing, which the state and work of proper Universal Councils will require: Yea the said distance, with the age and weakness of the Pastors, and the different languages, and the poverty of many disabling them from such tedious voyages and journies, and the dissent of the Princes. (many of them Heathens, Infidels, Mahometans) un­der whose Government they live, or through whose dominions they must pass, these with many the like Impediments do make a true Universal Council (like an Uni­versal Parliament or Senate) to be so far. from necessary, or desirable, as to be Mo­rally Impossible, or next to Impossible, as to the very Being of it.

The way that God hath appointed for Church-Government and deciding contro­versies, is, 1. That Princes and Magistrates [Page 78] govern by the sword or force, and judge who are fit to be Punished by the sword (And though most Princes on the earth by Infidelity have made themselves uncapable of this part of the work of their Office, yet cannot that disoblige them from the Com­mands of God, or free them from his pu­nishments for not performing them, nor make the Office of Magistrates another thing, nor disable Christian Princes and Magistrates, or disoblige them who have not made themselves uncapable.) 2. That these Princes and Governors of several Na­tions, do hold a Loving Christian Corre­spondency, for the management of their affairs, and Government of the Churches under them, so as may be most to the advan­tage of the Cause of Christ, and the union, strength and defence of Christians; (The General Rules, and Ends of their Trust and Power, do oblige them to hold such Assem­blies by their Messengers as are needful for their Agreement and the Unity and Safety of the Churches under them, as well as they oblige Pastors to such necessary correspon­dencies.) 3. That the Pastors of particular Churches be the Governors of those Chur­ches by the word and holy Discipline (not having the power of the sword or violence) [Page 79] and that they Judge who is fit or unfit for Communion with that Church which each or any of them over-see, and who is to be thence Excommunicated, or there Absolved. 4. That these Bishops, Pastors, or Elders of particular Churches, should hold Commu­nion among themselves with all their Bre­thren of other Churches, as far as their na­tural capacity will allow, and the need or benefit of the Churches require it: and that they handle in common the causes that be­long to all in common, and settle and main­tain Agreements for the Unity and Commu­nion of the Churches: And they are Judges (as Associate) who is to be received into their Associate Communion; and who to be excluded from it; and what Pastors or Churches they should hold such Commu­nion with as they are capable of; and which they should admonish, or renounce. 5. The Christian people have allowed them a Judge­ment of Discretion, by which they must prove all things, and hold fast that which is good: and must discern and obey the Lawfull commands and directions of their Magistrates and Pastors. 6. And as Men have thus their several shares alloted them in Government, Judgement, and decisions, limitedly, and not Absolutely judging, even [Page 80] to the Execution which belongs to their seve­ral Judicatures: So the Finall Absolute Judgement, and Decision of all Controver­sies and Causes, is reserved to the dread­full Tribunal of the Lord, to which we may make our last Appeal, where all the world shall be judged in Righteousness, and all the Judgements of men be themselves Judged, and Truth and Error, Good and Evil, Right and Wrong will be more perfect­ly manifested unto all; and it shall be irre­versibly determined by Jesus Christ, who shall go into Life Everlasting, and who to everlast­ing punishment.

Come Lord Jesus, Come quickly.

THE Author thought it not unfit here to annex the Description of that Order and Discipline which is exercised by him, with his Assistant fellow-Pa­stors, in the Parish-Church of Kederminster; in Asso­ciation with many Pastors of those parts, who have Agreed to exercise so much of the Ministerial Office, as by the consent of the Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Congregatio­nall, belongeth to them. Which being published, 1. May prevent mens injurious mis-reports of our Associations, and Discipline, which they may be drawn to by fallacious fame. 2. And may be an example for those Churches that by the Magistrates are left at liberty, to worship God in that Communion and Order which they judge most agreeable to the Word of God, and the Vniversal Consent and Practice of the Primitive Church.

The Order and Discipline of this Church, agreeable to the Word of God.

I. WE are willing to Teach all in our Parish, the doctrine of Life, that are willing to learn: And desire them all to hear the Word publikely preached, and to come to us to be Catechized or Instructed.

II. We own all those as visible Christians [Page] and members of the Universal Church, that make a credible Profession of Christianity, and destroy it not by Heresie, or ungodly lives.

III. So many of these as also Consent to hold Communion with this Church as mem­bers of it, submitting to the Ministers and Discipline of Christ, we shall esteem our flock and special charge, and faithfully perform the duties of our Office for their good, as we are able.

IV. We desire that all the Youth of the Parish will learn the principles of the Christian Religion: and as soon as they understand it, and are heartily resolved to give up themselves to God in Christ through the spirit, and to lead a holy life, that they will come and acquaint us with their Faith and Resolution; and be­fore the Church will make a solemn Professi­on thereof, and give up themselves to God in the personal owning their Baptismal Covenant; either reciting the fore-going Creed or Pro­fession, or, if they are unfit for publike speak­ing, by Consenting when we propound it to them; or by any other fit expressions. That so we may publikely pray for their confirma­tion; [Page] and if they Consent also to hold Com­munion with this Church, we may know them as our Charge, and Register their names.

V. Those Parishoners that desire us to Baptize their children, or to be themselves admitted to the Lords Supper, and are not members of this Church, (because they will not), we desire to come to us, some dayes before; that so we may be satisfied of their Faith and Life: And if they seem true Chri­stians, and either bring a Certificate that they are members of any other Church, with (which we are to hold Communion, or shew that it is not from ungodliness that they refuse to live under Order and Discipline, we shall Baptize their children, and occasionally ad­mit them to our Communion. But if they are scandalous, we shall require them first to Profess their serious Repentance: And if they return to scandal, we shall after stay till we see their Reformation (or of one of the parents in case of Baptism.)

VI. If any member of this Church do differ from us about the gesture in the Lords Supper (or any such Circumstance) we de­sire [Page] them first to come to us, and hear our Reasons: and if we cannot satisfie them, we will not hinder them from receiving it in any decent gesture they desire.

VII. All members of the Church must or­dinarily hold Communion with it, in the Lords Supper and all Ordinances: and if a Brother grosly offend, they must orderly and prudently admonish him; and if he hear them not, tell the Church.

VIII. Once a Moneth we have a meeting of the Magistrates, Ministers, Deacons, and above twenty persons chosen annually by the Church, as their Trustees or Deputies: Here the offendours must be accused, and heard, and dealt with, before the case be opened in the Church. And any that are justly offended with any member, may have Church-Justice. (The Magistrates presence being only ad me­lius esse) and the chosen Trustees or Depu­ties being no Ecclesiastical Officers, nor pre­tending to Divine Institution as such: but only the fittest of the people chosen to do those things which belong to the people (who cannot all so frequently meet) and having no authoritative ruling Votes.

[Page] IX. Those that Repent not upon publike Admonition, must be cast out of our Commu­nion, and avoided as Heathens: But those that are Penitent, must be Absolved, and lo­vingly received.

X. If any of our People be offended at any thing in our Doctrine or Life, we desire them before they vent their offence behind our backs, to come and lovingly tell it us, and hear us speak. And if we do not satisfie them, we desire them to open the matter before the Ministers of this Association, who are here Assembled every Moneth. And we shall be­fore them, be responsible, for our Doctrine, our Administrations, and our Lives. (As we are also willing to be to the Magistrate, who only hath the power of the sword, even over the Pastors of the Church, and whom in all things Lawful we must obey, and not resist.)

FINIS.

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