Church Concord: CONT …

Church Concord: CONTAINING,

  • I. A Disswasive from unnecessary Division and Separation, and the Real Concord of the Moderate Independents with the Presbyterians, instanced in Ten seeming Differences.
  • II. The terms Necessary for Concord among all true Churches and Christians.

The First Part written 1655. The Second Part 1667. And Published this 1691. To second a late Agreement of the London Protestant Nonconformists: And a former Treatise called [The true and only terms of Church-Concord.]

By RICHARD BAXTER.

Mat. 5. 9. Blessed are the Peace-makers, for they shall be called the Chil­dren of God.
1 Thess. 5. 12, 13. We beseech you, Brethren, to know them who labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you: and esteem them very highly in Love for their Works sake; and Be at Peace among your selves.
Phil. 2. 1, 2, 3. If there be any Consolation in Christ, If any Comfort of Love, If any Fellowship of the Spirit, If any Bowels and Mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same Love, being of one accord, of one Mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory: but in lowliness of Mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
1 Cor. 3. 1, 2, 3. And I, Brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual but as to carnal; to Babes in Christ—For whereas there is among you en­vying and strife, are ye not carnal and walk as men?

LONDON, Printed for Tho. Parkhurst at the Bible and Three Crowns in Cheapside near Mercers Chapel. 1691.

THE PREFACE.

§ 1. IOwe some satisfactory account to the Reader, of the Reasons of my Publish­ing this Book, which I have cast by about Thirty four Years. It cannot be well understood, without the knowledge of the Case we were then in, and the Occasion of my Writing it.

The Ministers of the Churches were then (as is usual) of divers Opinions about Church-Government. 1. Some men for our Diocesane Episcopacy as stated by the Reformation. 2. Some were for a more Reformed Episcopacy, de­scribed by Bucer in Script. Angl. 1. Archbishop Usher, &c. 3. Some were for Diocesans in a higher strain, as subject to a foreign Iurisdiction, and as parts of an Universal Church, Headed by a humane Head, the Pope being Principium Unitatis. 4. Some were for National and Classical Government by Presbyters only, without Bishops. 5. And some were for a parity of Ministers and Churches, without any superior Bishops, or Synods, or Governours; but to have every Con­gregation to have all Governing Power in their proper Pastors. 6. And some were for each Congregation to be Governed by the Major Vote of the people; the Pa­stor being but to gather and declare their Votes; Among all these, the 3d sort, the Foreigners were utterly unreconcileable; and of the 6th we had no great hopes: But with the other four we attempted such a measure of Agreements as might be useful in a loose unsettled time, to keep up Christian Love and so much Concord, as that our Differences should not so much weaken us, as to frustrate all our Mi­nisterial Labours.

§ 2. To this end I attempted a double work of Concord in Worcester-shire: 1. For the willing Ministers Episcopal, Presbyterian and Independent to Associate, in the Practice of so much of the Ministerial Office, as they were agreed did belong to Presbyters: II. To Catechize or personally by Conference instruct, all the Fami­lies and capable Persons in our Parishes, who would come to us, or admit us to come to them, in order at due appointed times.

God gave our People (in many Parishes) willing Minds, and encouraged us by unexpected great success: The most laborious Ministers took the hint, and seconded us in many Counties: First and chiefly in Westmorland and Cumber­land, and then in Dorsetshire, Wil [...]shire, Hampshire and Essex, (and Dr. Win­ter, and others in Ireland)▪ The terms of our Association, the Reader may see Printed at large 1653. But theirs of Westmorland and Cumberland more large, and worthy the Consideration of the present tolerated Churches. I pray you read them.

[Page]§ 3. But when it came to closest Practice, As the Foreigners, (Prelatists) and Popular called Brownists kept off, so but few of the rigid Presbyterians or Indepen­dents joyned with us; (And indeed Worcestershire and the adjoyning Counties had but few of either sort,) But the main Body of our Association were men that thought the Episcopal, Presbyterians and Independents, had each of them some good in which they excelled the other two Parties, and each of them some mistakes: And that to select out of all three the best part, and leave the worst, was the most desireable (and ancient) Form of Government. But that so much as might Unite them in the Comfortable Service of Christ was common to them all: The most of our Ministers were Young men bred at the Universities during the Wars, and engaged in no Faction, nor studied much in such kind of Controversies; but of solid Iudgment and zealous Preachers, and eminently Prudent, Pious and Peaceable: And with them there joyned many that had Conformed, and thought both the Common-Prayer and the Directory, Episcopacy and Presbytery tolerable: And these in 1660. did Conform; but most of the rest were ejected and silenced. Though of near Ten Thousand that the Parliament left in possession, there were but Two Thousand cast out by the Prelates, we strongly conjectured before hand who those would be: Satan desired to have Power to sift us, as wheat, And the chaff and the bran stayed in, and made that which some called the best in the World: And indeed much of the bran is honoured by us as very useful: But the simila was too fine and precise for the pallates of the Great Churchmen, and was cast out in the sifting: And the Sifters did but call the [Similago] Simulatio] and such other names, and out it went with Scorns and Devestation: And the hatred of it is propagated as the natural Progeny of revived true simulation and revenge. But though fur-fur be a name of no honourable sound (or sence, as it looks to Brethren and the Church) yet for my part I do with thanks for England, and with lamentation for other Lands, consent with them that say, Few Churches are so well fed: God can use this for the cleansing and drying up the Hydropical tym­panite of this Land: And Christ, I hope, will Remember the Penitent part of them, when he cometh in his Kingdom, and they that rob'd others of their Civil and Church Rites, may yet be with Christ in Paradise. Furfure pinguescunt pulli si lacte madescat. Even those that read this Praise with displeasure, taking Repentance for a Disgrace, and being loth to think they need it, may yet by Grace repent and live. Through God's great Mercy the excussed simila hath been Chil­drens food, though the Milstones have made it unfit for seed. But God will ali­unde provide seed: Though we cannot but dread the abundance and malignity of the Seminary Tares.

§ 4. But our trouble (next to the ignorance and badness that we found most Parishes in) was Antichurches, or Separatists, that in great Towns and where they found Entertainment, did gather Congregations out of the Parochial Congregations; which being gathered on pretence that the Communion of our Churches was unlawful, em­ployed so much of their Preaching and converse in labouring to prove it so, and in magnifying their own Opinions and ways, and vilifying others, as made many Towns become places of meer strife, that I say not of almost hostility.

[Page]§ 5. These separating Antichurches were of divers sorts: But of these it was two Parties that most hindred our Concord and Success. The Laudian Prelatists, and the rigid Independents: The former set up mostly in Great mens Houses, that had been against the Parliament; with whom they had the great advantage of the prejudice and exasperation of Minds that had suffered with and for them; and of their Power over the People that as Tenants or Servants depended on them, and the Countenances of their greatness, and a comfortable and honourable enter­tainment with them. These told the People that the Parish Ministers were Schis­maticks and but Lay men, (except the old ones that were ordained by Dio­cesans.)

The other sort pretended sometimes faultiness in our Churches, as not so pure as they; and sometime Liberty to gather the willing into Churches of their Conduct, because Parish Bounds were not of Divine Right.

The Anabaptists also made us no small trouble; But the Quakers that made the loudest noise, by railing at us in our Assemblies and Markets, did little harm, being contemned because of the grossness of their Behaviour: especially when we had admitted them to publick Disputes, and shamed them before all the People.

§ 6. Our care was therefore to offer Love and Peace to the Laudians and the rigid Independents. To the first sort, we offered to consine our Ministration to that which they had nothing against, though we could not do all that they thought best: we constantly used to read the Psalms and Scripture Lessons, some Hymns, the Creed, Lord's Prayer, Decalogue, &c. and offered them the Sacrament Kneeling that were capable and willing: And some of us permitted and maintained the bare Reading Curates that in Chapels read the Liturgy to them. And Petitioned that all intolerable Priests of what side soever might be removed for better; but that no man might be ejected for being for the King. But we spake to the Deaf; and sought peace of the unpeaceable. We would have had them to set up tolerated Bishops over all Volunteers that desired it: But that they were utterly against, as thinking that the Party that would constitute their Churches would but shame them by their ignorance and vice, such a Leaden Sword did they take their Disci­pline to be, laying all on the force of the Magistrates Sword, when yet the Keys, which they durst not bear without the Sword (as it was done Three hundred Years) must have the Honour and Name.

§ 7. And as to the other Separatists, we treated with their chief Leaders for Union and Concord; and that occasioned the Writing of this Book. But we little prevailed with the Old Conductors, or the Young self-conceited sort of Novices. I will not dishonour the Dead so far as to name them that I treated with, and the terms offered to them, and the pretences on which they by tergiversation refused it. Their Confidence in the Soldiery that failed and shamed them, I think was it that hardened them into that Errour.

And had not the Sword for a time upheld them, all these Sects had quickly come to nothing (as indeed most of them did) by the Parts, Interest and Concord of the United Ministry: For my own part I had little hinderance, nor any Antichurch nor striving Party.

[Page]§ 8. The present Conformists I know will take occasion to call our Congrega­tions such Antichurches now, as I wrote against then. And some on the other side will say, What need was there now to publish your old Disswasives from Separation: I will speak briefly to both these.

§ 9. I. I know none now that are so much against Schism and sinful Separa­tion, as the moderate Nonconformists; nor any more guilty of it than those (Pa­pists and Tories) that most fiercely talk against it. Had we not been greatly against Schism, we had never done and suffered so much as we have done to have pre­vented or healed it: and to have kept the Church from tearing Laws, and Ca­nons that have battered Peace and Concord: we had never written and stoopt and humbly beg'd for Unity and Peace of malicious, ambitious, revengeful men, that made all our Endeavours fuel to increase the flames of their Cruelty. We foresaw what the Legion was like to do, to make the Church and Land like the man among the Tombes, that ragingly cut and tore himself: But the cure is too hard for us. Is it lawful and good to shut the Churches Doors against us, and throw Stones at us to drive us away, and banish us five Miles from all the Churches of the Cities and Corporations of the Land, and all places where of long time we had Preached, and to order the Iailers to keep us from the Churches, and Informers to accuse us if we come there; and then to call us Schismaticks for not coming: And is it Schism for men thus used, to worship God elsewhere?

Is there no Separation that is a Duty, because some Separation is a Sin? Is it Schism to separate from Heathens or Infidels, or from the Papal Church, or from Arrians? The Case was not then as it hath been since: The separating Party had nothing imposed upon them, that they could themselves say was against the Word of God. They had no Canons that excommunicated them ipso facto, if they should call the Churches Practice sinful. They were not cast out for not declaring Assent and Consent to all things contained in and prescribed by Three Books of fallible Imposers; They were not forced to Covenant never to endeavour any alteration, (that is, Amendment of the present Church Government: Nor to subscribe that if a King should Commission a French or Irish Army to invade the Land, to de­liver it to a Foreign Prelate, it is unlawful for the Land to resist such an Army. The Corporations of England were not then constituted, by means of an Oath, that neither King, Lords, or any Person have any Obligation to be against Schism, Popery or Prophaneness, or to repent of Sin, by Swearing and Vowing it, if that Oath hath a Confederacy also against the English Prelacy, and was imposed and taken against Law. The Separatists that were against Bishops, Liturgies and Ceremonies, were then at liberty to forbear them, and to disown them. And what pretence had they then for Separation?

§ 10. II. But to the other side, I answer, 1. The Loud Accusations of Schism or Separation published against us by such as then did separate themselves from the Publick Churches, require us to undeceive those that are deceived by them, by making them know our constant enmity to Schism; and that it is they that drive us away, and not we that are driven, that are the Schismaticks▪ in England, as I proved in a Writing called [A Search for the Schismatick▪] To humble them [Page] that are the Cause, it is still necessary to shew the Evil of that Sin. It made not the Apostles Schismaticks, to be cast out of the Synagogues; no, nor Paul for sepa­rating the Christians from the blaspheming Iews, into the meeting in Tyran­nus School.

2. And the surviving of the Old Sectarian spirit of Division, maketh it a Duty to shew still the Evil of it: Some cannot endure to hear those former Mis­carriages blamed, but by enmity to repentance make them their own, and encou­rage the Evil spirit of Division: And some still keep up the dividing Principle, of the Peoples Power of the Keys, and are ready to separate from those Pastors that will not allow the whole Congregation to be Tryers or Iudges of the State of all that are to be baptized or admitted to Communion.

And if we never have more admission into more publick allowance, the World shall see that it was not long of us: But if God have so much Mercy for this Land, as to strengthen us by publick Concord, and unlock to us the Doors of the publick Churches, when I am dead, I would leave this Testimony against such as shall then refuse or resist any lawful and desirable Concord.

And as to my terms of Peace then offered to the Independents, I think it sea­sonable now to publish them, when God in Mercy hath newly brought us to publish our Concord in a very hopeful and comfortable form and manner, to drive home the Nail, and to be a witness against them that yet will divide.

§ 11. And because both old and late Experience telleth me who those be, though I have hereafter spoken to their Case, I will speak again though I seem guilty of repetition.

It is the raw ignorant flashy self-conceited sort of Reformers that we are in danger of, as to frustrate our Concord and Reformation. Such whether Ministers or People have torn us, and continue so to do, and are like to do so still.

Paul knew what he said, and why, when he told us a Bishop must not be a Novice, (or a young raw Christian) lest being puft up with Pride, be fall into the Condemnation of the Devil. And Act. 20. Of your own selves shall men rise speaking perverse things to draw away Disciples after them. Ignorant unstudyed Preachers, that attain to a laudable fervency in speaking what they know meet with injudicious Hearers, that being of their own temper, discern not their Igno­rance, but value their Zeal, and these grow up into dividing Parties and Churches, and cherish the Vices of each other, as if it were Wisdom and holy Zeal.

The great Dividing Errour of these People is UNRULINESS, 1 Thess. 5. 14. Warn them that are unruly] Ti [...]. 1. 10. There are many unruly and vain alkers, Iam. 3. 8. Their tongue [...] are an unruly evil]. They take it for a Doctrine of Christ, that they ought not only to be unruly, but to be Rulers of the Church, and of their Rulers, and to usurp a chief part of the Pastors Office, to the Churches Confusion and their own: They think that the T [...]yal of all that are received into the Church by Baptism, or to it's Communion in the Lord's Supper, and of all that are admonished, suspended, excommunicated or absolved, belongeth to the Major Vote of the People: And where this is denied them, they will have [...]o Peace.

[Page]It's no time to palliate this mischievous Errour. I resolve here to deal plainly though briefly with the guilty, and therefore ask them,

§ 12. Q. 1. If gross Ignorance deserve casting out, do not you deserve it that are so grosly ignorant, even in a Point so plain, and of such practical moment?

Q. 2. Could you possibly be so proud as to think your selves capable of this, if you had ever had true Humility, or knowledge of your selves?

Q. 3. Do not you forfeit even the right of choosing your Pastors that know no better what a Pastor is, and that to be your Rulers is essential to their office?

Q. 4. With what Eyes and Minds do you read the Scripture, that cannot there see, that you are commanded to Obey them that have the Rule over you, for they watch for your Souls, as those that must give account, that they may do it with joy and not grief, for that is unprofitable to you, Heb. 3. 17. & v. 7. Remember them which have the Rule over you; who have spoken to you the Word of God. And v. 24. Salute all them that have the Rule over you, 1 Tim. 3. 5. A Bishop must be one that Ruleth well his own House, else how shall he take care of the Church of God. And (as the Steward of God. Tit. 1. 7. To give the Children their Meat in due season, 1 Thess. 5. 12, 13. Know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, &c. 1 Cor. 4. 1, 2. Let a man so esteem of us as of the Ministers of Christ, and Stewards of the My­steries of God: It's required of Stewa [...]s that a man be found faithful?

Q. 5. Do you know what the word Pastor signifyeth? Do the Sheep Rule the Shepherd and themselves?

Q. 6. The Pastor being but one, and you, having the Major Vote, are you not his Rulers? And are you able to Rule him aright? Why do you not tell him what and whom to reprove, &c.

Q. 7. Is it not Sacrilege to usurp a sacred Office? Like Uzzah's incense, and C [...]rah's sin?

Q. 8. Who hath required this at your hands? Who gave you Commission to Rule the Church?

Q. 9▪ Do you not tremble to think what a charge you usurp, and what a dreadful account you undertake to give? Will you answer for all that are un­ [...]neetly Baptized, received to Communion, Excommunicated, Restored, &c. Do you not know that this is a greater and harder part of the Pastors Office, than an hours Preaching (which a well furnished man can do in the way that you like with little or no study) If he must wholly attend this work, must not you do so, if you undertake it? Do you know what it is to try so many Men and Womens Knowledge and Professions and Lives, and to hear Witnesses, and hear each per­son [...] Plea for himself, and judge? Must you not leave your Trades for it, or be treacherous? Even all of you, because the Major Vote must judge. O fearful Self-condemnation!

Q. 10. Do you not know how certainly this will turn Churches into Confusion, and the scorn of the World? Will you all agree in your Tryals? Or will not one think that person not holy enough, nor that profession of conversion satisfactory, which another approveth?

[Page] Q. 11. And where hath God given the Major Vote the Government of the Minor? If you can rest in [...] wrong judgment of the Usurping Majority, why not of the lawful Pastors?

Q. 12. Why would you chuse Pastors that be not wi [...]r to govern than your selves?

Q. 13. Do you not imitate those Diocesan [...] that take on them the sole Go­vernment of more Churches than they can govern: And do not you also under­take what you cannot do?

Q. 14. Do you think it is not lawful for a great Lord like Abraham, that hath a hundred or many hundred Servants, to make a Church of his Family? And do you think his Children and Servants should rule it by Vote, and try their Lord and Ladies graces?

Q. 15. Do you not know that Baptism entereth into the Universal Church as such, and not into any particular Church without a further contract? And who made you Rulers of the Church Universal? why you rather than another Church. Did the People try and judge by Vote the Baptizing of the three thousand, Act. 3. and of Cornelius, and the E [...]much, and the Iailor, or the Samaritans, or any one person? Prove it if you can, and defie not God's Word.

Q. 16. What if the Minister that must Baptize and give the Lord's Sup­per be unsatisfied in your Iudgment? Must he go against his Conscience in obe­dience to you?

Q. 17. Is one abused Text [Tell, and hear the Church] ignorantly re­peated, enough to blind you against all this Evidence? If the King send to the City of London to cast out an ill Member, doth it follow that all the People must do it by equal Power or Vote, or some as Rulers, and others as obedient Consenters? your freedom and your choice of Rulers is not a Power to Rule. Papists and all Sects abuse this Text.

§ 13. Is not your Liberty to be governed only as consenting Volunteers enough for you, unless being many Masters you receive the greater condemnation, Jam. 3. 1. I would you would read the Third Chapter of James, and the Fourth to the Ephesians, and the Second to the Philippians, on your Knees, begging of God to cause the Scales to fall from your Eyes, and to give you his Eye salve, that you may see that you are poor, and miserable, and blind and naked: When the greatest Millenaries say, This is spoken of the new Jerusalem in another World in Paradise, do not repine that I apply it to you.

§ 14. And that you may not be proud of your Church Liberty it self (not to be forced to Sacraments and Communion, Let me tell you, what it is. It is a Liberty to be sinful, disorderly and unhappy, resulting from that Necessity which God in Nature and Scripture hath founded, in that he will make no one happy without his voluntary consent: If you will you may renounce your Bap­tism, and your Childrens Church-Membership, and your own: you may after a first and second Admonition Excommunicate and condemn your selves, and renounce Communion with the Universal Church, and with Christ himself; you have liberty to forsake the Assemblies and Communion of the Church, and the help and conduct of true Pastors: you have liberty to forsake God, and to [Page] be damned: O woful liberty! God will not pardon, or save you against your wills: And Kings and Bishops should not force you to take a sealed Pardon, or any of the Childrens peculiar part without your voluntary consent. As much as you blindly cry down Freewill, I think you deny not, but men have a will free and able to Sin, and to choose Destruction, till Grace cure that freedom. And verily I think to such ignorant proud Dividers as you, it is but such a freedom to choose your own Teachers, where Christian Magistrates have more Wisdom to choose for you: Not much more than for Boys to choose their own Schoolmasters or Tutors, or Servants in a Great mans Family-Church, yea or Sons, to choose their Pastor. Your most desireable Liberty is to have wiser Governours and Choosers, and to have Wit, Humility and Grace to obey them. (But yet to be the discerning Iudges of your Duty, and to do nothing against God's Law).

Q. 18. I would know why you do not also your selves Baptize and Admini­ster the Lord's Supper? Do you not know that the Ministerial Power of the Keys lyeth more in judging decisively who should receive these Sacraments, than in the actual delivering them. Do you not as the Lay Chancellours do by the Parish Ministers, make them but the Executioners of their Decrees: You must Iudge, and your Pastors Execute, or as Cryers proclaim your Iudgments.

Q. 19. When all the Church must try the Repentance or Conversion of a Sinner, must he open his Sin before you all? If not, you will take him I doubt for no true Penitent. If yea, then by what right can you make his secret Sins to be openly known. Auricular Confession is better than such: And if an aged Person for want of use be uncapable of handsom Expressions about Religion, must he be put to shame before you all? And as Mr. Noyes▪ saith, Shall Lads thus uncover their Father's nakedness?

Q. 20. Are you sure that upon a wiser Examination than yours, most of this masterly Party would not be cast out themselves. In many things we offend all: And he that sheweth not his religious Wisdom out of a good Conversation by works of Meekness, but hath bitter envying and strifes, his glorying is a lying against the truth: Such Wisdom is not from above, but is earthly, sensual and devilish: For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

I would advise the Pastors of such masterly People, to try and examine these Tryers: I have given them a Catalogue of Questions for them at the end of my Reformed Pastor: Try whether they can tell you, whether Christ hath one▪ or two, or three Natures? Whether he was Man before the World? In what Nature he made all things? How the Godhead and Manhood are one Person? Whether each be a part of Christ's Person? What the Soul is? How they will prove against an Infidel that Christ is the Son of God? and that Scripture is true? What the definition of Faith is? and of Iustification, and of Regene­ration? And the Covenant of Grace? whether it be the substance of the Holy Ghost that is given in to the Faithful, or only his Effects? An hundred such Questions, I doubt you will find them ignorant Answerers of. It's a sad case [Page] to have those try mens regeneration that know not what regeneration is. If you will abuse the Letter of the Text, the Women must Govern: Are not they of the Church? You'l say, They are forbid to speak. Ans. That's as Teachers; but what's that to Iudging? And are not you forbid to Rule, when you are commanded to OBEY?

The Church that must be Heard, is it that must be Told and Iudge. But it is the Pastors that must be Heard: For if all the People be the speaking Reprovers, it will be a clamorous Church. And how without such clamour can the multitude be heard? And must not all Dissenters have leave to enter their Dissent against the Major Vote. What if Twenty be of one Mind and Twenty one of another? Will one Voice satisfie the Consciences of the rest to acquiesce.

Q. 21. You build all this on the foundation of Rebellion against God and Go­vernours; as if the People were the first receivers of ruling Power, and were by Nature made the Rulers (or Law-makers) by a Majority over the Minor part: which is so false, that as People they have no Ruling Power to Use or Give. All Power is of God, and none have it but by his Gift: And he never gave Power to the Children and Servants to Rule the Master of the Family; nor to the People to rule the Pastor or Church, nor to the People to Rule the Iustices or Iudges, &c. God made Governours so early, as prevented the Peoples making them in the essential part of the office. It's enough that they choose him (in Cases not Natural) that shall receive it from God.

But I wonder not that Brownists and ignorant Sectaries receive this false Principle of the Bodies Ruling Power by a Major Vote, when even Arch­bishop Laud and Dr. Beveridge, yea, and judicious Richard Hooker, yea and many Papist and Protestant Authors of Politicks; and some Lawyers have published it: to the deceiving of the undistinguishing Ignorant, and the confound­ing of Societies, Civil and Ecclesiastical, and the robbing God of his Preroga­tive, and feigning all Government as a Mushroom to spring out of the Earth, which cometh down from Heaven: Power is by descent from above.

Q. 22. I will ask you but this Question more, Whether now the Brethren called Congregational, the most. Able and Zealous have consented to a form of Con­cord which excludeth the Peoples Government, can your Consciences chuse but accuse you as proud, and Enemies of Concord, if as wiser than all these you be so foolish as to continue the Divisions.

And also when it's known that it was men of your Principles and Tempers that caused our former Confusions, and pull'd down after the King, the Par­liaments of all sorts, the Protector and one another, till they set up their Quar­ters over the Gates, and pluckt up the Floodgates that have these Thirty years overwhelmed us, and hazarded all the Reformation: Is there after all this any excuse for Dividers, or any pretence to extenuate their Sin? A Sin that hath cost England, Holland, Germany, Poland, and many other Nations dear. Yea, a Sin that tore the very Apostolick Churches, and grieved the hearts of the Apostles, and caused them to record their vehement obtestations against it. [If there be any consolation in Christ, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels [Page] and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord and of one mind: Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than them­selves: Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.]

Had you not been ignorant of Church History, but known what the Churches from the Apostles days till now, have suffered by an hundred sort of Sects and Heresies, and what the woful effects of them have been, and what a Scandal they proved to the beholders, and how shamefully they all ended, you would have feared the very appearance of so direful an evil, and would not have cherished a worm of so many feet in your bowels, even that IGNORANT PRIDE which hath caused all this.

What is there in this odious Sin, and this contentions Church State, that should make men professing Godliness love it, and make the cure of it so hard. Is Ruling a work of ease? Is there nothing but Honour in it? Is it not dread­ful to be accountable for the ill managing of it? Do you not reproach Pastors as dumb Dogs and treacherous, that neglect their Duty: Yea, and Kings and Magistrates if they miscarry: And are not you afraid of your account of a usurped mis-performed Government? Can you judge whether your Pastors un­derstand the Gospel in the Language that the Holy Ghost hath given it in? and whether they rightly expound a thousand difficult Texts? and whether they decide Doctrinal Controversies truly or erroneously? Or do you not rather cry up men that are of your Opinion, be it right or wrong, and love those that are sick of your Disease, and tempt such ignorant Teachers to speak and do that which pleaseth the People, for fear of incurring their censure, [...] losing their maintenance. It grieveth me [...]o hear that some are drawn so far to concur in the Peoples guilt, that they will reject from their Communion all that will com­municate with the most Godly Conformists; And make Adversaries say, that the Question between us is, Whether Bishops or Women, or at least igno­rant Voters, should govern the Church. They say, The publick Churches have Faults and Forms. And have you no Faults? Had the Iews Church no Forms? Is not the whole Bible a form of words for Instruction and Prayer and Praise? Obj. But they are God's Words. Ans. Then God was for Forms. But your Bibles are all Man's words: Do you think that Moses, the Prophets, or Christ were Englishmen? Or was any of the Scripture written or spoken in English by them, or by the Apostles? Do you not take every word in your Bibles on trust from English Conformists, or such men? It was Conformists (all save one) that made the Translation of the Bible which you use. The Pa­pists say, It is a false Translation? How will you confute them, and prove that you have any Gospel or Word of God? And is not taking all your Bible as to the words on Trust from Conformists a greater degree of Communion with them, than receiving the Sacrament at their hands in form?

I advise all sober Persons to be no Members of any such Church, as will engage them to have no Communion with any others, but to be as guilty of Separation a [...] they are themselves.

[Page]I mean, that you make not or perform any such wicked Covenant or Condition of Communion with them, though their Leader should seem the most Zealous and Devout: To renounce Communion with all the Church of Christ, save such à Schismatical Sect, yea, or with all that have not purer Worship than our Liturgy, or that are not purer Churches, is a Sin so heinous, as should deter you from it. Though better be to be preferred, renounce not Communion with all that have not better, lest yours prove worse. Had not the Publick Church­men been guilty of Schismatical Separation, calling men from all Churches and Worship save their own, and appropriating all Church Title and Communion to themselves, they had been more blameless than they are. But while some silence, and others separate, Concord is banished more and more.

And if the Imposing Party well consider this late Agreement, they will find that there is nothing in, it that may make them think, that the same men will be averse, to any just terms of a further Agreement, with those that have been their Ejecters. They have agreed to take no Members out of any of your true Pastoral consenting Churches, without a just hearing and satisfactory Reasons to them. But I hope you take not all your Parishioners, even Atheists, Papists and Infidels for your Church Members; No [...] yet all your Auditors and Catechumens, but only your Communicants: And is it not better that they be Members of Nonconformists Churches than of none? I have elsewhere cited you the Canons of a Council decreeing, That if the Bishop of the place convert not any Hea­thens or Unbelievers, and another convert them, they shall be his Flock that did convert them, (in my Hist. of Councils.)

Would they but first admit the Excluded to Publick Lectures where the In­cumbent consenteth, it would prepare the way for further Concord. The Great Reconciler will in due time reconcile and closely Unite his own. Amen.

Ri. Baxter.

To the UNITED Protestant Nonconformists IN LONDON.

THough I was, by the Confinement of decrepit Age, and Pain, hindred from having any part, in the Form or Contract of your Agreement, I think it my Duty to signifie my Sence of what you have done, and by the Publication of my old Endea­vours of that Kind, to promote the Execution. I greatly rejoyce in your very Attempt: That God exciteth you to a practical desire of speedy healing our pernicious, shameful Strifes: Much more that you have so Skilfully made the present Plaister for the Wound: No man doth any thing so well, but it might be better done: You must look that it should be assaulted by Cavil and Reproach: Those that these Thirty Years have denied you Brotherly Communion with them, will be loth you should be thought to have any Union among your selves: And the Potent Schismaticks that to divert the Infamy from themselves, have Stigmatized you with their own Name, will be loth that your Concord should confute them: while you offer your Reasons to prove that what they make necessary terms of Ministration and Commu­nion, would be to you if obeyed (not medling with them) no less than [deliberate Covenanted Perjury or Lying and renunciation of repen­tance and amendment of Church-Corruptions, and of the Law of Nature and Nations, and the Kingdoms Self-defence;] they must stretch their Wits, and gift of Tongue, to make all this seem but a melancholy or feigned Fear, and that it is but things indifferent that you refuse: As they call me Antiepiscopal, and against the Church, because I would have more Bishops over a Thousand or many Hundred Churches than One, and would have as many hands to do the work, at least as are necessary to the Hundredth part of it; and would have more Churches in a Diocess than one, and would have Incumbents to be Pastors and Rectors: But dreaming Men that build Cities, or Travel in their Sleep, can build more or go further in an hour (specially if they lye soft in a University or a Great man's House, than a waking Man can do in a [Page] Year or in his Life. My own Judgment of Episcopacy and Church Constitution I have oft Published, and you may see it in Lascitius and Commenius Books of the Bohemian Waldenses Church-Government.

Brethren, I hope you fix not your Bounds of Pacification, in the words or limits of this Form of Concord, with a ne plus ultra. Either (when I am dead) the Publick Church Doors will be unlock'd to your lawful Communion or not: If yea, it will be so great a Mercy, that the Prospect of a Possibility of it, will justifie my Publishing my old Rea­sons against unnecessary Antichurches, or Militant contentious Gather­ings; But if God have not so much Mercy for this Land, but that the Doors be lock'd up against desired Concord, or Venient Romani, our Foreign Jurisdiction men will prevail to deliver up the Land to a pre­tended Universal Foreign Power, and make all believe that it is Treason to resist either a French or Irish Army, if they be but Commissioned to perform it; Then your Concord with such as are not Enemies to Peace, will be a comfortable help to your patient Sufferings, and may keep up some sparks of the Reformed Religion from being utterly extinguished: And while you dwell in the Secret of the most High, you may lodge under the shadow of the Almighty: And may enter into your Cham­bers, and shut the Doors on you, for a little moment till the indignation be over-past; and God be known by the Judgments which he executeth, when the wicked are insnared in the work of their own hands. Thus praying God to save you from violating the Concord you consent to, and from being perverted by the ignorant Dividing sort of Teachers or People, and that you will study Mr. Meade's Reasons against Division, well and seasonably urged, I bid you Farewel.

Your Quondam Fellow-Labourer, Ri. Baxter.

The Contents of the First Part.

  • Chap. I. THe Necessity of Concord, and Mischief of unnecessary Separations manifested, in Twenty of the ill Effects. Pag. 1.
  • Ch. II. What is Incumbent on the Pastors for the Prevention and Cure hereof. p. 13.
  • Ch. III. The first Difference with the Independents Reconciled, viz. Of the necessary qualification of Church Members. p. 15.
  • Ch. IV. The second Difference reconciled: Of a Church Covenant. p. 19.
  • Ch. V. The third Difference reconciled: Of the extent of a particular Church. p. 21.
  • Ch. VI. The fourth Difference reconciled, whether a particular Church hath Power in it self to Ordain and impose hands on their chosen Pastors. p. 23.
  • Ch. VII. The fifth Difference reconciled: Of the first subject of the Power of the Keys; Or of Right to Govern and Censure. p. 25.
  • Ch. VIII. The sixth Difference reconciled: Whether a Pastor of one Church may do the work of a Pastor in other Churches for that time, being called to it. p. 32.
  • Ch. IX. The seventh Difference reconciled: Whether each particular Church hath Power to exercise all Government and Church Ordinances within it self, without subjection to Synods or any other Clergy Governours as over them. p. 33.
  • Ch. X. The eighth Difference reconciled: Whether Lay-men may Preach in the Church; or as sent to gather Churches. p. 38.
  • Ch. XI. The ninth Difference reconciled: Whether the Parish Churches are true Churches. p. 41.
  • Ch. XII. The tenth Difference reconciled: Of taking Members out of other Churches, and of Gathering Churches in other mens Parishes. p. 42.
  • Ch. XIII. The sum of this Agreement reduced to Practice. p. 55.

The Contents of the Second Part.

  • Q. 1. VVHat are the necessary terms of Communion of Christians as Members of the Universal Church? p 62.
  • Q. 2. What are the necessary terms of the Communion of Christians personally in a particular Church?
  • Q. 3. What are the terms on which Neighbour Churches may hold Communion with one another?
  • Q. 4. What are the terms of Communion between the Churches of several King­doms? (Foreign Iurisdiction is confuted in another Book.)
  • Q. 5. What is the Magistrates Power and Duty about Religion and the Churches and Ministers of Christ: and the Peoples to Magistrates, (further opened in a Treatise of NATIONAL CHURCHES.)

Chap. I. The Necessity of Concord.

THE Judgments of all wise and sober men must needs disallow both the Practice of Division and unwarrantable Separation from the Churches of Christ, and the common Liberty for Gathering Churches out of Churches now pleaded for, and too much practised by many; and al­so the Occasioning of Divisions and Separations by over rigorous proceedings with tender Consciences, and imposition of unnecessary things and too much se­verity against those that through infirmity are guilty of some culpable Divi­sions and Uncharitableness: For it's not this Oil that will quench these flames.

In order to the healing of our dangerous Divisions, I think it meet to deliver my thoughts in the ensuing Method. 1. To shew the Evil of our Divisions, and of the common practice of Private Separated Churches, where in Publick there are able, godly, faithful Ministers, and such Publick Churches as may lawfully be owned: For I meddle with no other case. 2. To shew what the agreeing Publick Ministers should do on their parts for the prevention and cure of these Distractions. 3. To give you the true state of the Differences that have occasioned them. 4. To propound those Terms by which a safe Recon­ciliation may be made. 5. To which I should add (if it were not for being thought too bold or confident) the Magistrates Duty, both in order to our Agreement, and in case we will not be agreed.

I. Though I take not a Private Meeting, or a Tolerated Private Church for so odious a thing in it self considered as some do, but confess that such may be Good or Evil, as the Cause of the Assemblies,—the Aspect of the Times, and other Circumstances and Accidents shall make them, and doubt not but there may be warrantable Separations from one or many particular Churches, where the blame may lie upon the Churches, and the Private Assemblies some­times may be more justifiable than the allowed Publick ones; yet as unnecessa­ry Separations and Divisions are a great transgression; so what the Aggrava­tions of that transgression are, and what wrong the Cause of God receives from the Differences among the godly themselves, and the Divided and Private Con­gregations that are gathered by occasion of these differences, in many parts of England, I shall briefly shew.

1. When in one and the same Parishes (the boundaries of the ordinary Churches, as to habitation) there shall be divers Churches, one Publick, and one Private, it will ordinarily cause great Disaffection and Contention among the Christians of that place: There will be Pastor against Pastor, and People against People; and one will be accusing another according to their several ap­prehensions, and making the waies, and consequently the persons of each other [Page 2] to he odious or unacceptable to others: And hereby Christian Love will be much quenched, and Unity and Concord much overthrown, and all the Effects of Love abated, and the odious remnants of Uncharitableness, Malice and Emu­lations will revive. Too common and sad experience puts this out of doubt. Alas! what Factious Doctrine, for Parties and against Parties are usually ma­naged in Publick and Private, where these Divisions once appear? What un­conscionable Censures pass too often on one side or both? What bitter unchri­stian taunts and scorns, and reproachful words? When publick Writings so abound with these, and the Press is become the common scold, and the most unchristian Language is spoken so familiarly to all the Land, and uncharitable­ness and fury are afraid of being concealed, no wonder if in private among those that are pleased with such discourse, the Preacher sit in the Scorners Chair.

2. Uncharitableness and Divisions, are as plainly, urgently and frequently prohibited, and condemned in the Word of God, as almost any sins that are: And Love and Unity, Peace and Concord are prest as much as any Duty of Man to Man. Certainly these Great Obligations are such as smaller matters cannot dispense with. And wonderful it is, that so many thousand, that ab­hor the Popes dispensing with Oaths and Promises, and Subjects Duties, and with some of the positive commands of God, can yet without remor [...]e of Con­science so easily, so long, so confidently dispense with the greatest Duties of Man towards Man, even with Charity it self, and the effects of Charity. He that must owe nothing else, must owe Love, Rom. 13. 8. Love is the fulfil­ling of the Law. Verse 10. Every Commandment of the Second Table is briefly fulfilled in Loving our Neighbours as our selves. Verse 9. Yea he lov­eth not God that loveth not his Brother. 1 Iohn 4▪ 21. Love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God: He that loveth not, knoweth not God: For God is Love. 1 Iohn 4▪ 7, 8. If we love one ano­ther, God dwelleth in us, and his Love is perfected in us. Verse 12. God is Love, and he that dwelleth in Love, dwelleth in God, and God in him. Verse 16. If any Man say, I love God and hateth his Brother, he is a Liar: For he that Loveth not his Brother whom he hath seen, how can he Love God whom he hath not seen: And this Commandment have we from him, that he that Loveth God, Love his Brother also. Verse 20, 21. Every one that Lov­eth him that begat, Loveth him that is begotten also. 1 Iohn 5. 1. We know that we have passed from Death to Life because we Love the Brethren: He that Loveth not his Brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his Bro­ther is a Murderer, and you know that no Murderer hath Eternal Life abiding in him. 1 Iohn 3. 14, 15. Yea we ought to lay down our Lives for the Bre­thren. Verse 16. This is the New and frequently urged Command of Christ, that we Love one another. Iohn 13. 34. and 15. 12, 17. Gal. 5. 14. Iam. 2. 8. This is it that we must provoke each other to. Heb. 10. 24. and that must continue▪ Heb. 13. 1. We must Love one another with a pure Heart [...]ervently. 1 Pet. 1. 2 [...]. Yea by Love we must serve one another. [Page 3] Gal. 5. 13. And Paul took this to be so Essential to our Sanctification that he tells the Thessalonians, 1 Thes. 4. 9. that [as touching Brotherly Love, he need not write to them, for they were taught of God to love one another.] And can that be the way of God that dispenseth with so Essential a part of Ho­liness, or that secretly and unobservedly extinguisheth this holy Love! Let Experience teach you, whether the present way of private separated Churches, be not the opening a Shop, or Forge, for Military Engines against each other? And under pretence of defending Truth, whether they be not the Nurseries of uncharitable Wars among the Servants of the Lord?

And then as Love is extinguished, so the sinful fruits of the contrary Vice do by such Divisions prosper and abound! And what weekly Bills of heinous sins might we see, that are committed on these occasions, if all the envious, slanderous, censorious, and other uncharitable words were open to our view that many that profess the fear of God, are frequently guilty of. It is a sad condition that tempteth Christians to so much Sin, and quieteth their Consci­ences in it, as if their horrid iniquity were their piety; and that bringeth too many separated Churches under some such reputation as Alehouses are faln in­to (I speak it not in contempt but lamentation) which are taken to be law­ful, but places where so much Sin is committed, that it is a suspicious sign for a M [...]n to be oft seen in them, especially near home. As Swearing and Excess of Drink are the ordinary sins of Alehouses, so Church dividing, Censorious, Envious words, with more that I shall anon mention, are the too common Sins of these Dividing Congregations.

And then as Love▪ so Unity and Concord is importunately urged on us in the holy Scriptures, and the contrary condemned. O read and study that prayer of Christ, that his Servants may be One, Iohn 17. 11, 21, 22, 23. how high he drives it, and how much he insisteth on it. His Church was then most spi­ritual and pure, when it had the greatest Unity, Act. 2. 1. [They were all with One accord in One place] when the Holy Ghost did fall upon them! Act. 2▪ 42. [They continued stedfast in the Apostles Doctrine and Fellowship, and breaking of Bread and Prayer] verse 44. [All that believed were together (yea and by the power of Love, though not by Levelling destruction of Propriety) had all things common.] Vers. 46. [They continued daily with one accord in the Temple—] Act. 4. 31, 32. They were together [praying when the place was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost: And the multitud [...] of them that believed were of one heart and soul.] So Act. 5. 12. Many great faults we find had tainted the Church of the Corinthians, the Galatians, and too many more; when yet we find not that any Separated Churches were ga­thered by the godly, for the avoiding these corruptions (nor that I remember, on any other occasion.) No where do I read in the same Precincts or Cities, of any Churches separated from the first Churches, but only the Societies of He­reticks, that are so much reprehended and branded with Infamy by the Spirit of God. Not one that ever I could find of the true Believers, did take this to be his duty: Name any Church that was separated from a former Church in [Page 4] Scripture, and held divided Assemblies in the same Precincts, and was approved by the Lord. I find Divisions in the Churches too many; some saying, I am of Paul, and some, I am of Apollo; but I find none but those condemned of Heresie, that divided from the Churches. Separation from the World was the practice of the Churches; but separation from the Churches was the practice of Hereticks only, as far as I remember; or those that are charged with Schism at least; though I remember not that meer Schism then rose so high. They that had the Apostles among them could not easily fall to such a Crime, till they fell from the Apostles. And far were the Apostles when they reprehend­ed the Corruptions of the Churches, from perswading Men to separate from them. (Though it's possible for such a case to be, when that may be a Duty, yet all those faults enumerated by Paul, did not make it so.) But contrarily they charge them not to forsake the Assembling of themselves together, as the manner of some (the Hereticks) was. Heb. 10. 25. and [beseech them by the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ to speak all the same thing, and that there be no Divisions among them; but that they be perfectly joined together in the same Mind, and in the same Judgment. I Cor. 1. 10. 11. [That they be all of one Mind, having Compassion one of another, loving as Bre­thren, being pitiful and courteous, not rendring evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing, &c.] 1 Pet. 3. 8, 9. O how constant, and how earnest were the Apostles in these Exhortations, and in answerable Pray­ers to God. Phil. 2. 1, 2, 3, 4. [If there be therefore any Consolation in Christ, if any Comfort of Love, if any Fellowship of the Spirit, if any Bowels and Mercies, fulfil ye my Joy, (and what was Paul's so much desired Joy?) That ye be like minded, having the same Love, being of one Accord, of one mind: Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves: Look not every one on his own things, but every Man also on the things of others.] Rom. 15. 5, 6. [Now the God of Patience and Consolation grant you to be like minded one towards another according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one Mind, and one Mouth glorifie God. Rom. 16. 17. Now I beseech you Brethren mark them which cause Divisions and Offences contrary to the Doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them: For they that are such serve not the Lord Jesus, but their own Bellies, and by good words and fair speeches deceive the Hearts of the simple.] So 1 Thes. 5. 12, 13. Study. Iam. 3. throughout.

Abundance of such passages are before us in the Word, which tell us that this Great and Necessary command of Love and Unity, is not to be dispensed with, nor Divisions among Christians to be accounted small things. And shall men professing the fear of God, go against such a stream of Holy Precepts? And be sensible of a Swearers or a Drunkards Sin, and not of so great a course of Sin of their own?

3. The Nature of Gods Graces in his Servants Souls is contrary to a way of Separation and Division: As Fire would to Fire, and Water to Water, so would Christian to Christian: Grace is sociable, and abhors Division as well [Page 5] as Nature. Wounding is not its Delight. Love is an Essential part of the New Man. The living Members rejoyce together, and suffer together, and be not easily set against each other; but it's hurt to all that's hurt to one.

4. Divided Churches are the Seminaries of Private dividing Principles; As they proceed from such Principles, so do they cherish and increase them. They espouse an Interest that's contrary to Catholicism and Christian Concord; and therefore we find that they make it much of their Business to propagate it. What­ever Opinion drew from the Communion of the Church, must be there pleaded for against the Peace of the Church. And to have a Mutineer in the Army of our Lord is bad; but to have Schools and Nurseries of Mutineers dispersed through the Land, and favoured by Godly Men, is far worse.

5. And certainly so far to forsake the Catholick Principles and Interest, and be so void of a Catholick Spirit and Love, as to set a part against the whole, or a smaller part against the Profit of the main part of Christ's Body, is a thing much unlike the Christian Nature, and unbeseeming a sensible Member of Christ. With what hearts do such dividing Brethren read all those passages of Scripture that speak of the Unity of the Catholick Church? We have all one End, one Hope, one Law. [There is one Body, and one Spirit, even as we are called in one Hope of our Calling: one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism (one Baptis­mal Coveanting with God) Eph. 4. 4, 5, 6. one God and Father of all; who is above all, through all, and in us all; therefore must we endeavour to keep the Unity of the Spirit in the bond of Peace] v. 3. [For as the Body is one and hath many Members, and all the Members of that one Body being many, are one Body: so also is Christ: For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one Body—] 1 Cor. 12. 12, 13. And the Spirit and Ministry are given to this one Body [for the perfecting of the Saints, for the work of the Ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ, till we all come in the Unity of the Faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect Man, unto the mea­sure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, that we henceforth be no more Chil­dren tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of Doctrine, by the fleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lye in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in Love, may grow up in him, in all things, which is the Head, even Christ; from whom the whole Body fitly joyned together and compacted by that which every joynt supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the Body to the edi­fying of it self in Love.] Eph. 4. 12, 13 14, 15. Note here the Unity of the Catholick Body, and who is the Center of the Church, and in what way it prospereth to perfection? and all will tell you of Unity in Christ, and Commu­nion of the several parts in Love. [God hath tempered the Body together, having given more abundant honour to that part that locked; that there should be no Schism in the Body, but that the Members should have the same care one for [...]nother: and whether one Member suffer, all the Members suffer with it, or one Member be honoured, all the Members rejoyce with it: Now ye are the Body of Christ and Members in particular, 1 Cor. 12 24, 25, 26, 27. [Page 6] O how much the Nature and Unity of the Church Universal, even the Body of Christ, is forgotten by most men, that withdraw into separated Assemblies upon those grounds and terms, as condemn or cost off most of the Universal Church of Christ.

And how do they look upon the face of the World, if indeed they know what state it is in, and hath been in, when they can find in their hearts to keep up our Divisions? (of which more anon).

6. Moreover our Divisions and Separations do much destroy the Power of Godliness: partly as is said, by destroying Love and all the Operations of Love, wherein it principally consisteth: and partly by diverting Professors of Reli­gion from Practical Doctrine, Conference and Meditation, and filling them with Fancies and Opinions and Passions. So that when once in a Town there is Church against Church, and Pastor against Pastor, almost all (or too much) of their time is taken up in wrangling and contending and making their Cause good against each other; and they strive not to overcome each other by Meek­ness, Patience and Love: It is the raising of an Ecclesiastick War through all the Quarters of the Land! And few thrive by these Wars above any Wars. Mark whether Holiness, Love and Heavenliness appear as much in their Families and Lives, where this War is raised, and Fire kindled, as it did before.

7. Moreover, it keepeth out too often a Saving work of Grace, and turns off many that were coming on, and crusheth fair hopes too often in the bud. Many a Minister hath rejoyced in the Hopes of a Conversion which seemed to be begun, on the younger sort especially of his Hearers: And when they have seemed to be somewhat humbled, changed, resolved for a Holy Life, suddenly some Divider or other layeth hold on them, and turneth the stream of their Thoughts and Z [...]al, upon Opinions and barren Controversies, and spoileth our hopes of the work of Grace, and formeth them up into Contentious Hypocrites. And alas how apt are such separated Assemblies to [...]empt men to this miserable case? even as Ale houses are to make men Drunk. Sober men may be there; but there's the Nursery of Opinionative Religion.

8. But there is no effect so grievous to my thoughts, as the common har­dening of the ungodly. Who sees not how it makes them think unbelievingly or contemptuously of all Religion, when they see so many Churches and ways, and hear them so condemn each other, they think they may warrantably con­demn them all, and say as bad by them, or speak as contemptuously of them as they do of each other. They think they are as well already, as turning to such a divided People can make them? And when they think of turning, the Tempter asketh them, as the Papists use to do, Which Party will you turn to? Why rather to this, than all the rest?] What a readiness did I see to entertain the way of Godliness presently after the Wars in many places, that had before been under the Power that most reproacht it! Till they saw us by the Ears among our selves, and see us fall into so many Parties, and then they turned their reverence into contempt.

[Page 7]Let no man fly to God's Decrees here, and say, that [Offences must be, and Heresies must arise that the approved may be manifested, and that the Elect cannot be deceived to Perdition] For Sin is Sin, and Misery for all this: They may on those Grounds as well let Physicions have leave to give men Poi­son, or any m [...]n to set our Towns on fire, because nothing can be done against God's Decrees? It is as true among the Indians and Turks, that the Elect can­not be deceived to Perdition, and that God knoweth who are his, as here: and yet I hope all Christians will lament the Sin and Misery of the World of Infidels, and Idolaters, and pray and endeavour (as far as they can) their reco­very by the Gospel: We must fetch no such Conclusions from any Decrees of God, as shall hinder from praying that his Name may be Hallowed, his King­dom come, and his Will be done in the Earth as it is in Heaven: Such as may encourage us to dig Pits for the Blind, and cast such stumbling blocks in their way, and be Servants to the Tempter and Enemy of Souls in hindering them from Salvation. And what can we to hinder them more, than to bring the Churches and Holy Worship and Ways of God into doubt or contempt among them?

9. Our Divisions make us and the Cause of God to be our Adversaries Re­proach, and his Name is evil spoken of among them through us. They have taken it up as their common Argument to draw men to Popery, (and now at last to Infidelity), that we are a Babel of Confusion, and have no Unity among us, and they point to our several Parties, and ask men, How they know that this is in the right more than all the rest? and why he will cleave rather to one of them than to another? Can a tender Conscience, and one that regardeth the interest of Christ, forbear to mourn while the Name of God is daily re­proached, and his Servants made the Song of Drunkards, the Scorn of Papists and all their Adversaries, and the by-word of the Prophane, by our Divisions?

10. These Divisions and Antichurches do hinder the Holy Order and Disci­pline of Families, when the Husband is of one Church and the Wife of another; or the Parents of one, and the Children of another; or the Master of one and the Servants of another; or one Child and Servant of one Church and another of another: This hindereth the Governours from seeing effectually that their Families be soundly instructed, and kept from Heresies, or neglect of Ordi­nances: It hindereth them from taking a due account of their Children and Servants of what they learn: It divideth Families, and induceth the Children and Servants to refuse to joyn in Family Prayer and other Duties with their Pa­rents and Masters, and to refuse to hear them repeat those Sermons, which they refused to hear from the Minister himself: And it turneth the Holy Con­ference, and charitable Communion of Families, into perverse Contendings about their several ways.

11. And these separated Churches do much hinder the Labours of the Mi­nisters of Christ, and the true Reformation of the Churches. It grieveth the Souls of Faithful Pastors, to see that their Children, or those that they hope have somewhat of Christ in them, shall be the Instruments of Satan to hinder [Page 8] their Labours; and it grievously weakeneth the Builders hands when they are thus opposed by those for whom they have spent themselves, and in whom they should have Comfort after their Travels, and from whom they should have help for the promoting of their work with others; Drunkards and Swearers in some places, hinder not the Ministers work so much as Antichurches, that make it their work to draw men to themselves, and to that [...]nd do find them­selves engaged to speak against the Publick Church and Ministry, and to that End to quarrel with or reproach the Doctrine or Worship there performed. And how can th [...]se Ministers reform their Churches, that are forsaken (yea and opposed) by so many of those that should be the Materials of their Churches, and should be their strength against the Prophane, and help them in Reform­ing, and in the exercise of Discipline? It making Discipline it self (on both parts) also to be of almost no Effect, when he that is cast out of one Church can presently step into another, and perhaps under pretence of greater Holi­ness, and there reject those that rejected him, and seem more Innocent than they.

12. These private separated Churches also do give great advantage to the secret Enemies of the Truth, and Corrupters of Sound Doctrine, to creep in and sow the Tares of Heresies among poor Christians that have no Pastor at hand to contradict Deceivers. And most of the horrid Errours of these times, that have poysoned Souls, dishonoured God, divided us and disturb'd our Peace, have crept in at these back Doors: Few have made their Entrance at the Publick Assemblies, in comparison of those that have come in at private Meetings. And here it is that Papists and other Adversaries have opportunity to Play their Games, and to lay their Trains of Gun. Powder to blow up both Church and State, without the Odium of being Traitors and Powder-Plotters, yea, by the Countenance and Favour of the State. It will not secure us, that Papists are excepted from Liberty among us, as long as a Vizir, or another Name, and some Equivocation shall be to them a Patent for Liberty and To­leration.

13. Moreover, our Separations tend to the grievous Pollution of the Ordi­nances of God, by setting up prophane Persons as Ministers, and encouraging prophane Administrations, and Societies, and so dis [...]o [...]ouring the Christian Name, and hardening the Ignorant and Ungodly by these means. For when those that are most Zealous against Prophaness are withdrawn, and leave the ignorant careless People to themselves, they will have Ministers like them­selves (if such are to [...]erated) and they will make up such Churches as are unca­pable of Discipline, and will go on as smoothly in the Abuse of Sacraments, and the Praises of God and all Holy Ordinances, as if they were the only Chri­stians in the Land, and theirs the only regular Churches, and none but Sectaries differed from them. Or if they were not allowed the Publick holding of Un­disciplined Churches, and prophanation of Holy Ordinances, yet as long as all may have what private Assemblies they please, they will there at least have their Ignorant unworthy Ministers to fit all their Humours, and there they [Page 9] will Prophane the Name and Holy things of God. And O what abundance of provoking Sin will be committed in England every Week, and this through the Separations of Pious Persons, and the toleration of the State, as for their In­dulgence? Do we make Laws against the Prophanation of the Holy Name of God, by Swearing and Cursing? and shall men fearing God let loose, (yea further) the Rabble of the Ungodly through the Land, in the Prophaning of the same Name, and Holy Ordinances, and the Office of the Ministery, under a pretence of Worship? The case of Nadab and Abihu, and the Bethshemites and Uzza, do tell us, that God is more jealous about his Holy Things, than in our common Affairs.

14. Moreover, It is an actual Reproaching of all our Solemn Assemblies, to separate from them; as if you openly proclaimed them to be such, that an honest man may not lawfully hold Communion with. Whereas the Interest of Christ is so great among them, so much of his acceptable Worship, and so many of his faithful beloved ones are there, that he will not take such usage well. If we must needs have private separated Assemblies, let the Servants of Christ so close together, that the Ungodly and not they may be the separated part, and may be driven into Corners: Let the Holy ordered Assemblies of the Saints be the Publick Assemblies, and let not the ungoverned have that honour.

15. It is an unspeakable Mischief of these Antichurches and Divisions, that they are the great Impediment to Universal Communion of all the Servants of Christ in the Land: which is a work of great Necessity to the common good, and exceeding desirable to all Christians. Were we but one, One Body by some common Bond and Communion, our Rulers would quickly be resolved in the Point of Toleration, Heresies might be easier extinguished, and Prophaneness might through all the Land lye under such Discouragement as might much abate it; whilest every where the unanimous Servants of the Lord did keep out all the obstinate Impenitent Persons from the Publick Communion; and he that is cast out of one Church is cast out of all; and none in any Country would entertain him: Whereas now they have ordinarily a room in the most Publick Assemblies, or if one Church reject them, when they travail into other Parts, they are as acceptable as others: and so Communicatory Letters are made useless. But the Principal thing that I here intend is, that excellent Secu­rity of the Gospel and Godliness to our Posterity, and the welfare of the Nation that might be happily promoted by this Unity: For then the Church and Commonwealth might be so complicate and commensurate as would be the Strength and Glory of them both: They may hold in Life, but never attain that stability and Glory that God hath propounded to them, and given them means for, till (for the generality) the Members of the Church and the Free­men of the Commonwealth are the same: (I say not [the Subjects] but [the Freemen] that is, those that shall be capable of Governing or electing Gover­nors.) Then will not the Interest of Church and State be set in Opposition against each other, nor Rulers keep up sinful jealousies against the Gospel and [Page 10] Ministers of Christ, then will the Magistrate support and second the Ministry and Church, and the Ministers and Church be the faithfullest obeyers and de­fenders of the Magistrate: And then we shall not need to fear when one Par­liament hath made us wholsom Laws, and own'd the Gospel, left a majority of malignant impious Choosers should give us another that will undo all, and cast out the chief Blessing and Glory of the Land. Were Church and Common­wealth but duly commensurate (as aforesaid) then sober men and faithful to the interest of Christ would choose our Parliaments, and so a Succession of Righteous Governours might be secured to the Land! A Mercy of inestimable Value, that would advance Britain yet much higher above any Nation under Heaven! And what clear Reasons could I give for this; and how easily could I answer all considerable Objections, and how easily might it be quickly put in execution, if it were not for this one most lamentable Evil, even the unrecon­ciled Parties, and the undisciplined Churches and Antichurches among us? Till then, we hold our precious Mercies on such slippery terms, as should awaken all honest men to look after a better Security: God can make Wolves befriend his Lambs, and the Serpentine brood that are haters of Piety to choose Pious Governours: But Wonders of Mercy are fitter for a grateful remembrance, than for secure Expectations, when we wilfully cause our peril.

16. And it is an aggravation of the Sin of these Dividing ways, that they are continued in such a time and place as this! When men have nothing forced on them that they were wont to complain of; and nothing wanting but what they have such more than ordinary helps to procure in the Publick Churches▪ Formerly it was the Prelacy, and Li [...]urgy and Ceremonies that by the Separ [...] ­tists was pretended as a justifying Cause of their Separation: (And yet then the ancient Nonconformists themselves did write against them more than any did): But now they can pretend no such things as these: Who forceth any thing upon their Consciences, which the tenderest Conscience of understanding People hath cause to refuse? And if Discipline be wanting, they have much en­couragement to endeavour and hope for a supply: If the Ministers be bad, they may cast them out: We all desire it: If they be faithful, they will be willing to go as far as they can in the exercise of Discipline: and it is the dis­couragements, Divisions, and withdrawings of those that should help them that doth much disable them.

And it seems to me a great Aggravation that usually this Sin is the fruit of so many other Sine! How oft is it brought forth by a proud over-valuing of mens own Opinions, Parts and Piety? and by uncharitable censoriousness of others, and a vil [...]f [...]ing extenuation of all that is good in them! And how ordinarily doth it bring forth disobedience, murmuring, and disdain of those that were their Teachers? and evil speaking against the things that they understand not? And too commonly it proceeds from laziness! When they will not be at the trou­ble and cost of doing their parts to reform the Churches where they are, they will lazily separate, to save them a labour: It is a harder work and requireth much more Self-denyal to joyn in the admonishing of the several Ungodly Per­sons [Page 11] in the Churches, and follow it in God's way till they are reclaimed or cast out, than to get in private among a few that will put us to no such trou­ble. I see not but these Persons while they cry up Discipline, would destroy it. As some on one extream refuse to exercise it, so these on the other extream will be Members only of such Societies when they shall have little or no use for it, and consequently exclude it, or at least where it shall not cost them much. Lay this together, and consider whether in such times as these, when Godly Magistrates are ready to encourage us, and Godly Ministers willing to do what they can in Reformation, and no burdens are forced on their Con­sciences, and we refuse not their Communion that differ from us in tolerable Points, that yet in these times men will fly from our Assemblies, and set up An­tichurches as they do! Alas, what pievish Children are in the Family of God. One part now separate into private Churches, because we have not Prelacy, Liturgy and Ceremonies; and another part separate, even when they are cast out, because they be not pleased in all things, that look to the other Extream! Doubtless the Separatists in our days of Reformation and Liberty, are much more unexcusable, than they were in the times of Ceremonies and Violence. What! cannot all the Endeavour [...] of Magistrates and Ministers by such a Re­formation, that many others think too much, yet sweep the Churches clean enough for you to enter? In other Ages it was the affliction of the Godly to be cast out of the Church by evil Governours: But now how many do cast out themselves? The Jews persecuted the Disciples by casting them out of their Synagogues, Ioh. 16. 2. and 12. 42. And will you cast out your selves from the true Churches of Christ? And that from such Principles, and with such concomitant aggravating faults as those forementioned?

17. And it is an aggravation of this Sin that it is continued against so much and long Experience. Have we not long found by Experience how it quench­eth Charity, and hindereth the Gospel, and cherisheth Errors, and causeth the rest of the forementioned Evils? And shall we love it, when we have found it Evil?

18. And it is no small aggravation of this Sin, to consider what England is, and what all the rest of the World is at this day, and what it hath been from the beginning until now: Had it not been the greater Sin to have separated from▪ the Jewish Church (much worse than English Congregations) when all the rest of the World were Aliens, and much further from God than they? Five Parts of the World are Idolatrous Heathens, and Mahometans: A Sixth part only make any Profession of the Christian Name: Not a quarter (I think) of that Sixth part are Protestants: How ignorant and rude the Eastern and Southern Churches are, is lamentable to relate: Few of them have any Preaching, but only Homilies and Liturgies read. What the Papists are I need not tell you. Not the Twentieth part of the World [...] adm [...]nts: And among these, alas, how few have so much of the life of [...]ining th [...] [...]mong them as the meaner sort of our English Congregations? And hath Go [...] called this spot of Earth, this narrow Island, a corner of the World, to honour [Page 12] with the greatest lustre of the Gospel, and true Reformation and Godliness? and yet will these men withdraw from the Publick Churches here, as if no Publick Church on Earth (but the few of their way) were worthy of their presence: Are they no more thankful for England's singular Privileges? nor no more humbly sensible of their own unworthiness? And would they separate from all the Publick Churches almost in the World?

19. These continued Divisions among our selves are a great discouragement to our highest Rulers from seeking the healing of the Churches abroad. The greatest Service they can do to God, is to reconcile the Churches, and bring them to Agreement, and strengthen them thereby against their Adversaries. And all good men desire this of them, that they would improve their interest to this end. But alas, with what heart can they set upon it; as long as they are unable to reconcile and unite the best of the Subjects here at home; It was the Grecians Jest upon a great man among them, that he went about to reconcile all the Princes and States of Greece, and could not reconcile his Wife and her Maid that lived unquietly at home. And do not we prepare such Entertain­ment for our Governours attempts in so good a Work?

20. Lastly, I heartily desire that our Divisions and Antichurches may not prepare renewed Wars, and Calamities to the Commonwealth. Certainly the Body of the Nation is much disaffected to them: And I wish that for their sakes they grow not disaffected to the Government, and ready for Enterprizes that beseem them not. But I much more fear, left animosities among the se­veral Parties should make them busie and bold in their Enterprizes against each other, and still seeking opportunities to oppress one another, and to advance themselves. And lest the several Parties be to their Prince, like the many Wives that some of the Jews had to their Husbands, that were still jealous of his Affections, lest he loved this or that Wife better than the rest: Every one looketh to be most esteemed. And jealousie is apt to break its bounds. But I will not Prognosticate, but forewarn: If Unity be our Strength, and Division our Destruction, let us pity the calamitous Church, and not set fire on the Commonwealth. And let all Christians (that are such indeed) lament our di­stances, and lay to heart the Sin and Calamity of our long Divisions; and at last let Catholick Principles and Affections be entertained by us, and let us pray, and study, and seek, and submit and deny our selves for the Unity of Chri­stians, and the Churches Peace.

For my part I have spoken much of this from certain Experience: The Evils of Divisions and Antichurches I have seen abroad: The Ease and Comfort of Unity and Peace I enjoy at home! O what a Mercy is it to me, and the poor Flock that Christ hath committed to my Charge; what a help to my Labours and to their Souls, that we have not Minister against Minister, nor Church against Ch [...] any separating Parties to ensnare men; but that we Serve the Lord [...], to [...] Heart and Soul, one Mind and Mouth. If I can procure the e [...]t of this Mercy no further, I will compassionate the Church, and re­joyce in it at home.

Chap. II.

THE Second part of my Task I shall briefly dispatch, which is, to shew what is incumbent on the Pastors of the Church, for the prevention of such Separations, or their increase. Having spoken the most that I think ne­cessary of this, in the end of my Catholick Key, Part 2. I shall refer the Rea­der thither for the Rules of the Churches Peace, and the terms on which they must be put in execution. I shall only here reassume these few particulars, suitable to our case.

I. If we would prevent our Peoples Separations, we must not make the door of the Church so narrow as to shut out the faithful, though infirm. If we keep them ou [...], we cannot for shame childe them for not coming in. The principal thing that here we must avoid, is large and particular Professions of Faith, con­taining Controvertible Opinions, and Points that many true Believers are unsa­tisfied in; and also the imposing of unnecessary Ceremonies. The Holy Ghost hath decided this difficulty to our hands, and left it us as a standing Rule, Rom. 14. 1. That we must receive even him that is weak in the Faith, but not to doubtful Disputations. And that we must [be like minded one towards another, according to Christ Jesus, and therefore receive one another as Christ al­so received us, to the Glory of God.] Rom. 15. 6, 7. Men must be called to no Profession but of Points plainly contained in the Holy Scriptures, and the ancient simplicity must recover us to the ancient Charity and Unity: And though more knowledge be necessary to the Pastors than to all the Flock, yet must the Scripture sufficiency be maintained, and necessary things distinguish­ed from unnecessary, and those that are necessary to the being of the Ministry, from those that are necessary but to the Better being; and nothing should be imposed on Pastors themselves as necessary to the Communion of Churches, but Points that indeed are necessary to such Communion, and those (if possible) in Scripture phrase.

But because Hereticks will subscribe to Scripture and to ancient Creeds, and simple Confessions of Faith, therefore many have thought that other kind of Con­fessions must be made which they cannot subscribe to: But by that course the mischief of Heresie is not so much avoided, as the mischief of Divisions caused; and all because the right way of obviating Heresies is mistaken and overlookt. Heresie in the Mind is cured only by Doctrine, and is not it that we have here to obviate; but Heresie in the Mouth must be corrected by Discipline; and it is not a better Rule or Law than Scripture for them to Subscribe that is the Remedy, but a careful Execution of that Law against them, 1. By casting them out of our Communion after a first and second admonition, when they are proved guilty, and 2. By the Magistrates restraining them according to the quality of their offence. He that hath a Conscience to Subscribe to all the [Page 14] Scriptures, and yet contradict them by his Heresie, may do so by any Form that you can impose on him, that hath any appearance of fitness to be so im­posed. We must not make new Laws, every time the old ones are misinter­preted or broken.

Our great danger in England is of Popery, above any thing except Impiety it self. And the strength and upshot of all the Papists arguings, is [Where was your Religion and Church before Luther?] which by their Expo­sition is, [Where was your Thirty Nine Articles, or your Assemblies Con­fession, or any Church that Successively from the Apostles held them.] This is their all, (which indeed is nothing.) LET US OWN AS THE RULE OF OUR RELIGION BUT THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, AND EX­PRESS OUR BELIEF IN SCRIPTURE PHRASE, (without distorting it to look towards any Heretical or Erroneous Sense,) AND THEN WE MAY EASILY TELL A PAPIST WHERE OUR RELIGION AND CHURCH WAS BEFORE LUTHER;] yea the simplest Women, that understand but what Christianity is, may thus be able to defend their Reli­gion against the Cavils of these Learned Adversaries: Let us not therefore give away so great an advantage, and withal divide the Church of God, by de­parting from the sufficiency of the Scripture, when it is the principal point wherein a Protestant differeth from a Papist, and that wherein we unani­mously oppose them.

II. If we would avoid Separations, we must keep up holy Discipline, and not leave the Churches so polluted by the abundance of impenitent impious Persons as may frighten tender Consciences from us: Discipline that is plead­ed for must be faithfully practised. We must not step out of the way of God by unj [...]st rigor to please any Men, nor to avoid their offence; but we must cast out those that should not be in the Church, the rather lest those withdraw that should be in: And herein a principal part of our Care must be, to set Godly people a-work upon their own Duty, in a loving, humble ad­monishing of Offenders, that we may convince them how sinful a course it is to expect that Men should be cast out, before they have been dealt with on the Terms, and by the degrees that Christ hath appointed; and to run a­way from the Church because they will not do their Duties.

III. To this end that our Churches may be capable of Discipline, the Duty of Confirmation, must be so far restored, and faithfully practised, that none may be admitted into the Number of Adult Members for the Communion pro­per to such, till they have made a credible Profession of their Faith and Re­pentance, and renewed their Baptismal Covenant, (consenting to the State and Duty of Church Members, if they are stated in a particular Church) and so are Approved by the Pastors of the Church. Without this Discipline cannot be exercised, as I have shewed in a Treatise for Confirmation.

IV. Lastly, if we will prevent Antichurches and Separations, Ministers must be studious, that they may be able to confound Gainsayers, and then they must be holy, harmless, humble, self-denying, charitable, manifesting [Page 15] tender Love to all that they deal with, prudent, and very vigilant and industrious, thinking no cost or pains too great for their so great ends. Because we have neglected these four necessary things, Separations have afflict­ed us.

Chap. III. Difference I.

THE third part of my task is, to state the Controversies that occasion our present Divisions in England: There are (besides intolerable Here­ticks, as Seekers, Quakers, &c.) but three Parties that I remember that trou­ble us much with unjust Separations and Antichurches. The first is that new Prelatical Party that unchurch our Churches, and nullifie our Ministry, and Ministerial Performances; and draw into private Meetings, supposing that only Laymen or Schismaticks with whom they must not Communicate, (be­cause they are not Ordained by English Prelates) have possession of the pub­lick Churches. To these I have spoken in my Disputation of Church Govern­ment, and therefore shall say nothing here.

The Second Sort of Separatists are those called Anabaptists, that deny Com­munion with our Churches, supposing us to be unbaptized: To these I shall speak by themselves in the Offer of an Agreement. The Difference is suffi­ciently made known.

The Third Sort are those that of old were peculiarly named Separatists, to­gether with some of those that are now called Congregational or Independents, who withdraw upon some Differences in Points of Discipline, which Diffe­rences▪ it shall now be my work to state: And because I would be brief, I will annex the Accommodations to the Differences.

I. The first Point of Difference, which I think is no Difference, and yet is it that indeed makes almost all the Difference, is about the necessary Qualifica­tion of Church Members. That this makes almost all our Difference (except what disowned neglects of Discipline, and other such faults among us occa­sion) is known to us by experience, who hear the Members of the private Churches alledge this as the principal Point of Difference, for our accusation and their own justification, that we take those for Godly that they take not for such. That Doctrinally here is no difference between the Parties, but what is between the Persons in the same Parties, is in their words apparent. The Independents say that the Members of the Church must be [visible Saints.] The Presbyterians deny it not. The Presbyterians say that Sincerity or real Sanctity is not of Necessity to Visible Church Members: The Independents say so to, and no wonder; for else the Visible Church would not be Visible, nor could any Man be known to be a Member, because we know not their Sincerity or real Holiness.

Master Norton Resp. ad. Apollon. p. 7. 11, 12. thus fully openeth their [Page 16] mind; that [All and only those Competentes that are Ecclesiastically [...] Believers, and walk orderly are the next matter of a Visible Church and to be admitted.] By Ecclesiastically Believers he tells us that he meaneth [such as are faithful in the judgment of the Church, or such as towards whom whether they are positively faithful or not, we are bound to carry our selves in common Church Duties as if they were faithful.] To this he takes these four things necessary. [1. A Confession of the Fundamentals, and other points ofSee Rutherford Peaceable Plea, p. 92. &c. Religion, which are of necessity to avoidNo [...]es Temple Measured, p. 62, 63, 64, 65, 66. excellently disputeth this Point. Of the Judgment of all sorts of Protestant Divines on this, see my Dis­pu [...]. of Right to Sacraments. a scandalous Life. 2. Such a declaration of the Experimental work of Faith which contains the substance of Conversion, though it may be counterfeit. 3. A Con­versationTwisse Vind. Grat. l. 3. Er. 8. § 6. p. 77. Agnosco libenter: Fid [...]les dici minimè me­renter, apud illos, quotquot fucatam ipsorum professionem po [...]runt dignoscere. not scandalous. 4. A testified Subjection to the Gospel of Christ, and his Government.]Gilespi [...] Aar. Rod, p. 514. I believe no Consciencious Minister, would adven­ture to Baptize one who hath manifest and infallible Signs of Unregeneration. Sure we cannot be answerable to God if we should Minister Baptism to a Man whose Works and Words do manifestly declare him to be an Unregenerated Un­converted Person. And if we may not initiate such a one, how shall we bring him to the Lords Table?

There is nothing in all this but what the Presbyterians consent to, with these Explications, which we doubt not but will be allowed. 1. That this excludeth not the Infants of Believers from being Infant Members of the Church without these Qualifications in their Persons. 2. That if Infant Members grow up and claim a place among the Adult, it willThes. S [...]lmur, Vol. 3. p. 59▪ Th. 39. [Sacramenta non conseruntur nisi iis qui vel fidem habent, vel saltem [...]am prae se ferunt, adeo ut nullis certis argumentis compertum esse possit eam esse ementitam.] then be meet that all this be done by them. 3. But yet that it's one thing to admit them into the number of the Adult Mem­bers of the Church Universal, (as the Eu­nuch,Rutherford Due Right, p▪ 231. [Such (as are ignorant of the first Rudiments and Foundation of Religion) are ma­terially not of the Visible Church, and have not a Profession, and are to be taught; and if they willfully remain in that darkness are to be cast out. Acts 8. and others were by Bap­tism,) and another thing to admit them into a particular Church also And that the consent to Christianity is it that is ne­cessary to the first, and the consent to the Duty of a particular Member in that Church, is necessary only to the Second, (which supposeth also the First) 4. That there is great difference between a Baptized Person that needs but Confirmation or Repentance, and a Converted [...]nfidel, that's to be Baptized: It is meet to have some Testimony of the Life of the former, because he is in Covenant already: But the Life of the latter is not to be supposed to be up­right, but ungodly, and therefore we may not require of him a Testimony of his upright Life, but a Confession and Lamentation of his ungodly Life, with a Consent and Resolution for new Obedience: Upon this much the Apostles Baptized their Converts, without delay to try their Lives. 5. And there's [Page 17] difference to be put between what is necessary ad esse, & ad bene esse: Ne­cessitate medii & praecepti. And the Profession of Christianity, that is, of pre­sent Faith and Repentance, and this by any tolerable intimation or significa­tion, is all that is necessary to the Being of such Adult Members: And that the Testimony of his good life is only necessary (when it may be sought) to the performance of our Duty, and the purity of the Church. If we admit a Man of another Countrey without Testimony or Tryal, upon his meer pro­fession, or if we do so through haste, or negligence, or multitude of Persons that we have to deal with in populous places, this doth not nullifie his Mem­bership: Nor yet if we admit him upon a dark and less express Confession. And, 6. It is a Mans Profession that is his Title▪condition to Visible Mem­bership; and his Life is but a Confirmation of that; and where there is not opportunity of enquiring after Mens Lives, it is sufficient even in point of Duty, that we receive his Profession, if no Man will bring witness of a Life so vicious as may invalidate that Profession. 7. And I think we may take it for granted that Mr. Norton's Second demand of [a Declaration of the Expe­rimental work of Faith, or substance of Conversion] is satisfied in the Pro­fession of Faith and Repentance, or in our renewing our Baptismal Covenant: For doubtless all the substance of Conversion is contained in these: He that professeth that he believeth in God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, re­nouncing the Flesh, the World, and the Devil, or that he believeth and re­penteth, and is willing to live a holy Life, doth profess Conversion.

The Sum of all is this, which we are agreed in: [A Credible Profession of Christianity, that is, of Faith and Repentance, or of Holiness,] is that which is the Title-condition to our Membership in the Church Universal, and its Pri­viledges: And [A Credible profession of Consent to be a Member of this par­ticular Church] added to the former is the condition of our Right to admit­tance into such a Church. And a careful Pastor will and should consider how Mens lives do answer their profession: But if nothing be brought from the Life to invalidate it, the profession it self must be accepted: And therefore if no such Omissions or Commissions are proved against the person that desireth our Communion as are of sufficient weight to prove that the persons profession is Incredible, it is to be received, because every Man is supposed to be better acquainted with his own Heart, than the Church is or can be: And every Man is to be supposed Credible till he can be proved Incredible by Evidences that in foro Ecclesiae are satisfactory: Especially when Men have to do with a Heart-searching God, and their Everlasting Life or Death lyeth at the stake, and when the holy Life that they engage themselves to live, is so contrary to Flesh and Blood, and seldom are there times so good, in which it is not re­proached at least by the ungodly, we have reason fide humand to believe Mens profession in such a case. And as God will have Mens Salvation or Damna­tion lye more upon their own choice, than upon any other Mans, so is it his wise and gracious Order, that their Church Mercies or Judgments, their standing in the Church or being out of it, shall lye more upon their own Chusing [Page 18] or Refusing than on the Churches or any others: And therefore if Men dis­semble in their profession, the Church is blameless, and it is themselves that bear the blame and suffering: And so if they keep out themselves, or force the Church by their Impenitency to cast them out. But if the Church should keep out Men that would come in, that do not wilfully refuse Gods Terms, these persons would lay the blame on the Church, and say, Lord, I would fain have entred, but could not be received.

Let any Man read Mr. Norton, and such others, and he will allow me to conclude, that de lege in this point we are agreed, even in two words, that [A Credible Profession] is the Condition or Qualification requisite in the Adult.

Yea and we are agreed also what are the Qualifications that must make a profession Credible: Viz. that it be (or seem to us to be) tolerably Under­standing, Deliberate, Free or Voluntary, Serious, and not Invalidate by con­tradictory words or practice, sufficiently proved. And for the matter of it, we are agreed, that it must be a profession of all the Essentials of Christianity, and that it must be a Consent to present and not only to a distant future holiness. Even as a promise to become a Husband or Wife to another a Month hence, is not Marriage, but a promise of Marriage.

We are agreed also that Extremes in the Execution of this Rule, must be cautelously avoided. As on one side, that we do not take that to be a pro­fession that is none, and that we take not that for Credible that is Incredi­ble; and that we take not that for Understood that is not tolerably understood, or that for deliberate, voluntary or serious that is not so, or appeareth not so: And that we be not careless when it may be done, in inquiring how Men have kept their Baptismal Covenant, and what their Lives are, before we Con­firm them, or Approve them for the Communion of the Adult: And that we refuse not to hear what just exceptions can be brought against them: Lest we frustrate Church Order and Ordinances, and nullifie Discipline, and pollute the Church. And on the other side we are (in the Doctrine) agreed, that Hypocrites will be in the Visible Church, and that we must not refuse those that have the least knowledge of the Essentials, though they are not able in the Congregation to express it, nor privately in any but broken and unhand­som words; and that withal make the most imperfect Credible Profession of Faith and Repentance, and Resolution for Obedience: And that we must not break the bruised Reed, nor reject the least of the Lambs of Christ, but re­ceive them that are weak in the Faith, and not of our own Heads reject any persons Profession as Incredible, without sufficient Reasons for such a judg­ment of it.

Indeed there is abundance of difference in these points, but 1. It is in the Iudgment of particular Persons and Cases, and not in the Law or Rule of our Proceedings. And, 2. It is a difference between Persons, and not between Parties: Some of the Congregational way are more rigid than many of the Presbyterians, in Iudging who are Credible Professors, and who not: Some [Page 19] will hear the Reports of a change, when most Presbyterians, will be satisfied with the profession of Holiness, though it have grown up with the person from his Infancy, and he knew of no change: Some look for such Evidence from a Holy Life, as may it self directly suffice to ingenerate in the Church a persuasion that the person hath Saving Grace, and so they make the Life to be Testimonium primarium, vel primario aequale: When most Presbyterians take the Profession for the Primary Testimony, or condition of Right; and so receive it directly as Credible, by such a Humane Faith, as one Man Credits another by in all Civil Transactions in the World: And they look at the Life but as a Secondary Testimony, which may Confirm or Invalidate the for­mer: Though after Church entrance, the Life is directly looked after in the Discipline of the Church. But this difference is between Men of the same parties; Independents differ from Independents, and Presbyterians from Pres­byterians; and perhaps a hundred Men of the same Congregational way, may most of them gradually differ from each other in the strictness or laxness of their Executions, as one is more or less Charitable than another, or more or less Tender, Compassionate, Strict, or Rigid, Censorious, or Remiss, &c. which may occasion difference.

I conclude therefore that about the great disturbing point, viz. The Mat­ter of the Church or Qualification necessary to Members, Presbyterians and Independents, differ not Doctrinally (though practically persons of each party differ among themselves;) and therefore that here is No Need of a Recon­ciliation.

Chap. IV. Difference II.

THE second Point supposed to be a Difference, is about the Necessity of a Church Covenant. Here is no Difference at all between the Learned of each Party, that I am able to discover. We are Agreed, 1. That our consent toNorton. Resp. P. 28. [...]3. De Veritate talis Ecclesiae to nomine dubitare peccatum du­cimus. Q. 3. Quale saedus sufficit ad for­mam Ecclesiae? R. Faedus implicitum sufficit ad esse: faedus explicitam ad magis ordina­tum esse desideratur. the Covenant of Grace is it that makes us Christians, and so Members of the Uni­versal Church; and the Profession of that Consent (which regularly is to be done in Baptism, Parents professing their ConsentRutherford Plea, Pag. 85, 86. An ex­plicite Vocal Covenant whereby we bind our selves—by entring in a new Re­lation to such a Pastor, and to such a Flock, we deny not, as if the thing were unlawful—Nor deny we that at the Election of a Pastor, the Pastor and Peo­ple tye themselves by reciprocation of Oaths to each other; the one to fulfil faithfully the Ministry he hath received of the Lord; the other to submit to his Ministry in the Lord:—5. Any Pro­fessor removing from one Congregation to another, and so coming under a new Relation to such a Church, or such a Mi­nistry, is in a tacite and virtual Covenant to discharge himself in all the Duties of a Member of that Congregation.— for their Infants benefit; and the Adult professing their own Consent, doth instate them in their Visible Membership, 1. The baptized Person being Offered to God, and so solemnizing his own Covenant Act; and God by his Minister accepting him into his Church.

[Page 20]2. And we are Agreed that a signified Consent is necessary to Membership in a par­ticular Church: that is, A Consent to the Relation of a Member; which includeth a Consent to the necessary Duties of that Relation, and an acceptance of the Be­nefits.

3. And we are Agreed that any tolerable signification of this Consent is all that is absolutely necessary. And that an express Church Covenant is not ne­cessary to the Being of a Church or Member: but that one that by actual Submission and Communion hath signified his Consent, may be truly a Member.

4. And yet we are Agreed, (because Ignorantis non est Consensus, and for many other weighty Reasons, expressed in my Book of Confirmation) that where we can require and procure it, without a greater accidental Detriment to the Church, it is needful ad bene esse to the Churches Reformation, and to the Persons firmer engagement, to the satisfaction of others, and the due execution of Discipline, &c. that the Consent be as open and express as may be: As no­thing is more necessary, excellent, honourable, reasonable, than a Holy Life, and nothing that less feareth the light than the Cause of God, so he would have his Cause to be openly owned, and managed above board, and would be confessed before men, and have all men know what they do, that take him for their Master. It is an honour to God and the Gospel, and an excellent advantage to the ordering of the Church, and the saving of the People, to have all brought to as serious and solemn an Engagement to the Living God, as conveniently can be procured. I doubt not but the Presbyterians would joyn with their Brethren, to Petition the Soveraign Rulers that all our People may be brought to this. Let no man think so uncharitably of them, as if they de­sired that Christ should be but darkly and implicitely owned by the Churches, and as if they would not have Church Members know what they do; Doubt­less they cannot but be sensible how much it would further their Ministry with the People, if Magistracy would but assist them herein against the stubborness of ignorant and wilful men; that men might be compelled to submit to Instru­ction and Approbation, and make a credible Profession of Christianity, own­ing their Baptismal Covenant, and by this engage themselves to submit to the Officers, Discipline and Ordinances of Christ, in the Churches where they desire Communion. The thing that the Presbyterians have stood upon is no more, but to vindicate the Truth of our Churches against Separatists, that have denyed them to be true Churches, because they had not an explicite Covenant. They deny not that such a Covenant may conduce much to the well-being of the Church; especially if we have the Magistrates help to take off the Peoples prejudice.

Note here also, that by [a Covenant] we mean nothing but [exprest Con­sent] and that [exprest Consent] is indeed [a Covenant]. And that by [an▪ [Page 21] Implicite Covenant] we mean but [a Consent that is less express] and not [that is not exprest at all]: For Consent cannot be known to the Church with­out some Expression.

I conclude therefore, that (whatever some particular persons may be guilty of) there is no real difference between the Presbyterians and Independents in the Point of a Church Covenant: and therefore here is no work for a Re­conciler.

God forbid that any faithful Ministers of Christ should fight against that much which is profitable to the well being of the Church, meerly because with­out it the Church may have a Being. Then must we Plead for hunger and want and calamitous Diseases that leave us but the being of men. Nature and the Scripture Presidents in the Old Testament, and the Doctrine of the Apostles, and ancient Practice of the Churches, do satisfie us of the usefulness of Holy Covenants, prudently, seasonably and seriously made. Of this I have said more in my Treatise of Confirmation.

Chap. V. Difference III. Of the Extent of a particular Church.

THE third Point wherein they seem to differ, is about the Extent of a particular Political Church, viz. Whether it be a single Congregation, or divers Congregations? Whether the Ecclesia Prima or a particular Church of the first Generation, as distinct from a Combination of Churches, should be no more than can meet in One place, and hold personal Communion in the Worship of God? Here is an appearance of some difference, but really none that will find a Reconciler work. Some Presbyterians distinguish indeed between a Worshipping Church, and a Governed Church: and they would haveNorton. Illius Eccl [...]siae constitutio quae uno in loco ordinario ad eultum▪ Dei celebran­dum convenire requeat (ob suam multitudi­nem) est illegitim [...], [...] non tamen quoad [...]jus Essentiam sed quoad adjunctum numerositatis. Rutherford Due Right, Pag. 301, 302. [1. The ordinary Power of Jurisdiction because of nearest Vicinity and Contig­nity of Members is given by Jesus Christ to one Congregation in an Isle. 1. Be­cause that Church is a Church properly so called.—A Congregation is a Church wanting nothing of the Being and Es­sence of a Church. Yet is it in compleat Lond. Minist. Ius Div. Minist. Part 2. P. 82. [These Angels were Congregational, not Diocesane. Ib▪ The Asian Angels were not Diocesane Bishops, but Congregatio­nal Presbyters seated each of them i [...] One Church, not any of them in more than One. a single Congregation to be one Worship­ping Church, but many conjoyned in their Pastors to be the first or lowest Governing Church. But that is but in cases of ne­cessity, when there are not Elders enough in the single Worshipping Church. So that really both Parties are agreed, 1. That a particular Church may consist of One single Congregation if it be but furnished with more than one Elder for the work of Government. (Though for my own part I am quite out of doubt that where one man only is the Pastor or Governour of a Church, that man only may Govern that Church, and do the work of a Pastor to that Church▪) 2. And they are agreed, [Page 22] that a Church that doth not or cannot or­dinarilySee Mr. Hooker's Concession of many Meetings in one Church, in Mr. Caw­drey's Review, P. 148. meet in one place, may yet be a true particular Church.

In times of Persecution when the Church dare not publickly appear, or hath no capacious Rooms to meet in, but are forced to meet dispersedly in Houses, it may not only be lawful but most convenient, for some that meet in one House and some in another, and some in a third, a fourth, a fifth, to be all united in the same Pastors, that shall visit them severally as they see cause and have opportunity, and rule them all. And in a well ordered Church there is none denyeth, but that in less Publick Meetings the Church may be distributed into several Houses: and that the Aged, Sick or Lame, or any that by di­stance cannot frequently come to the same most Publick Meeting, may yet have Chappels of Ease, or be allowed to meet in Houses rather than not at all: This all agree in. And I think few Presbyterians, if any, will deny, that it is most convenient, regular, and suitable to the Ends of a particular Church, (which is Personal Communion in Worship, and Holy Order) that where it can be procured, the whole Church (except the Sick or Lame, or necessarily­hindered) may frequently, if not most usually meet in one Assembly. So that either here is no work for a Reconciler, or a very easie work. For the Presby­terians say, that a particular Church May consist of one Congregation (and I believe they will say that ordinarily it is most fit): and the Independents say, It Must consist but of one Congregation, or as many as May meet together for Personal Communion in Worship, if they have Liberty; but that this is not Essential to the Church. Either then here is no Difference, or if there be, it is thus reconciled in a word. The Presbyterians [May be] shall yield to the In­dependents [Must be]: The Licet to the Oportet. Secure them but of more than one Elder in a Church, and I dare warrant you that all the sober Moderate Presbyterians shall readily and heartily yield to this. They have no conceit, that there Must needs go many Congregations to make a particular Political Church.

If any Presbyterians refuse to condescend so far for Reconciliation, another ea­sie remedy is at hand. Let each have Liberty to hold that Church which in the extent is suited to their Judgment. Let them that needs must have a Church of many Congregations, hold it, if the people do consent (as few will) so they will faithfully do the Pastoral work. If they will joyn three or four Parishes together as the lowest Governed Church, let them have their Liberty (exercising just Discipline in them). But let others also have their Liberty that think it meeter, if not necessary, that the Church be but of one Congregation. The distance and quality of people may very much alter the case in this point. In places where four Parishes at great distance would afford but enough for one particular Church (if any such Parishes be) it may be the more tolerable to have ordinary Meetings in the several Parishes for Worship, and Discipline admini­stred (and sometime the Lord's Supper) in a fuller meeting of all the Church: But I hope we are in no necessity that this should be an ordinary case. But Liberty in these cases may well be granted.

Chap. VI. Difference IV.

THE fourth Point of Difference is, Whether a particular Church hath Power in it self to Ordain and Impose hands on their chosen Pastors? This Difference is easily Reconciled. For, 1. The Presbyterians hold that regularly it is fittest that the Pastors of divers Chur­chesNorton. Resp. P. 99. Toti multitudini Ecclesiae competit examen Pastorum per man­nuum impositionem, eorundem ordinatio in Ec­cl [...]sia homogenea sed non in officium Ecclesia­sticum; quia officium Ecclesiasticum recipitur invocatione, non ordinatione, idque à Christo immediatè, non à totâ multitudine. conjunct do Ordain, because of the Interest and Relation which they suppose each Minister hath to the Church Catho­lick, yet withal they deny not but he hath a true Ordination, that is ordained by more than one Pastor of the same Church.Id. p. 100. Vicinis insuper ordinariè con­sultis in Ecclesia homogenea competit fraterni­tati auxilio & Consilio Presbyterorum vici­ [...]orum, & prudentum aliarum Ecclesiarum, P. 101. Populus in judicando dirigi potest ac ordinarie debet à judicio aliorum Pastorum, Electionem vel prae [...]unte vel concomitante. Requiritur Con [...]ilium aliorum Presbyterorum & Prudentum propter insufficientiam in Ec­clesia infirmiori: Propter salatem in amplitu­din [...] Consiliarii in Ecclesia instructiori: in omnibus propter Communionem Ecclesiarum. P. 103. Propositio illa B [...]llarmini [Non sunt veri Pastores, qui non sunt à veris P [...]sto­ribus ordinati,] vera est ordinariè; se [...] extra ordin [...]m minimè necessaria. Ju [...]. Ib. p. 105. Quam vis in Ecclesia bene con­stituta non debet, aliis quàm Presbyteris Or­dinandi munus mandari, in defectu t [...]e [...] idoneorum Presbyterorum, potest non-Pres­byteris mandari. Ames. 2. Though they deny (and justly) that Imposition of hands in Ordination belong­eth to the People, yet they judge not an irregularity in that Ceremony of force to nullifie the calling of the Pastor. 3. If a man that is duely elected and qualified, be in Possession of the Ministry, without a Regular just Ordination (as if it were but by Ruling Elders, or by one such with the people), though such an Ordination is not to be it self approved of, yet being upon a Doctrinal mistake, we may well hold Communion with such Churches, leaving the guilt of their Errour on themselves, when we cannot remedy it. 4. The Con­gregational Brethren hold that in case they have no Officers in that Church, the Coun­selIn Ecclesia constituta actum ipsum ordi­nandi ad Presbyteros pertinere ultro concedi­mus. and Help of other Pastors may, and ordinarily ought to be made use of: and that ordinarily they are not to be heldP. 106. Toti multitudini Ecclesiae [...] competit collatio potestatis claviu [...] in Mini­str [...]s, aut tota, illa potestas, qu [...] Ministri [...] Officium Ecclesiasticum tribuit. true Pastors, that be not Ordained by true Pastors, and that in a constituted Church the Act of Ordination belongeth to the Presbyters: and that the multitude confer not the Power of the Keys, but Christ immediately. And that the counsel of Neighbour Pastors is requisite, not only to a weak Church, because of their insufficiency to Judge, but also for the safety of a well furnished Church, by the Amplitude of Advice, and in all Churches, for the Communion of Churches. And I think, they grant it Lawful, though not Necessary, that these Neighbor Pastors lay on hands as well as counsel.

[Page 24]This much being Doctrinally agreed on, our Practical Agreement is easie; thus, 1. Let the Doctrinal point of the Necessity of more Pastors to Ordain be let alone, and left to each Mans Liberty (it being no Article of our Creed, nor a Credendum of absolute necessity;) and seeing the Congregational party hold that more (from Neighbour Churches) May join in Ordaining, and the Presbyterians hold that, they Must (in point of Duty,) in all reason the May be should yield to the Must: And therefore let the Congregational de facto on their own Principles admit of Neighbour Presbyters herein: If they will not yield in a thing by themselves confessed Lawful for the Reconciliation, and Communion of the Churches, the guilt of unpeaceableness will be theirs. Especially while they have the Election of their Offices, and no detriment is like to arise by it to their Churches.

2. But if any of them have not so much love to Peace and Communion of Churches as to yield to this, the Presbyterians can in consistency with their Principles, hold Communion with them for all this, as Churches, though de­ficient, having first disowned their disorder. And therefore their Pastors may join with us in our Assemblies, and we may as Brethren hold a loving corres­pondency, though we own not their defects.

Other differences (Doctrinally not the least) there are among us. 1. Whe­ther a Man may not be Ordained a Minister, sine titulo, without Relation to a particular Church, but to the World and the Church Universal? And so, 2. Whether such may not be Ordained without popular Election? And, 3. Whether therefore a Man be not sometime in time, A Minister of Christ, before he be The Pastor of this particular Church. 4. And so whether the peoples Election be not only to make him Their Pastor, and not A Minister of Christ in general. 5. And whether such an Unfixed General Minister, may not Preach, Baptize; and also pro tempore administer the Lords Supper, yea and Govern a particular Church that pro tempore calleth him thereto; the peoples call or consent being necessary for the Exercise, but not alway to the Being of the Office or Intrinsick power: (As a Physicion licensed to practise in general must have Mens personal consent before he be Their Physicion) But, 1. These I cannot call properly differences between the parties, be­cause I think the Congregational are not themselves agreed about them. 2. If they were, yet they are such whose practice our Reconciliation is not much concerned in. Let every Man in these Opinions be left to his liberty, and it need not hinder our Agreement or Communion. For my own Opinion about most of them, I have expressed it, Disput. of Church Government 1. and 2. and about some more of this nature.

Chap. VII. Difference V.

THE Fifth point of Difference is, about the first subject of the power of the Keys? Or more plainly and limitedly, of the Right of Church Go­vernment, and in particular of Censures. And here the difference seemeth greaterAgainst the peoples Power of the Keys Rutherford Peaceable Plea, and in his Due Right of Presbyteries, and many more have written at large, and unan­swerably taking the Keys for [Govern­ment or Pastoral Administrations.] than in any of the rest: And with some it is so. Some have made the Congregation by a Major Vote the Governours of the Church. Against this as intolerable we have much to say. 1. There is no power but of God: But the power of Church Governing is not given to the people by God; therefore it is none. The Minor is good till a power be proved, and the peo­ples Commission produced; which never yet hath been attempted with any consi­derable appearance of Truth.Rutherford's Plea, p. 6. The Power of the Keys is given to the Church of Be­lievers, as to the end, [for the Edifying of the Body of Christ, Eph. 4.]

Obj. The Keys were given to the Church in Peter, Mat. 16.] Ans. Mr. Norton p. 45. [Sin per Eccle­siam Representtaivam intelligitur Ecclesia ta­lis proprie dicta▪ h. e. Ecclesia virtualis, vic [...]-Ecclesia, Ecclesiam repraesentatam sub­jectivè repraesentans, at (que) ad [...]o vi delegatio­nis habens potestatem [...]arum negotia ex [...]quendi jure D [...]i; hoc sensu simpliciter negamus Ec­clesiam repraesentativam.] 1. The most learned and moderate of these Bre­threnP. 4. Their Power of Chusing is a Power about the Keys, but not of the Keys: And it is common to all Belie­vers who are not to take Pastors as the Market goeth upon a blind hearsay, &c. say, that There is no such thing as a Lawful Representative Church, therefore Peter was none. 2. It lyeth on them to prove that Peter represented the MajorIt's commonly granted them, that the people regularly should chuse their Offi­cers, where some unfitness of their own doth not forbid it; but that necessarily they must consent to his Relation, or else he cannot Exercise his Office on them. And it is granted them com­monly [according to Cyprian's words,] that the people also have a great hand in the Rejection of unworthy Pastors, and that in case they prove intolerable, and they have no more regular way to depose them, after sufficient patience and warning they must forsake them. But none of these are Acts of Church Government no more than for a Corpo­ration to chuse the Major, or for the Servant while he is Free to chuse his Master, or a Scholar his School-master, or a Patient his Physicion, or for the Soldiers to forsake a Traiterous Com­mander that would deliver up their lives unto the Enemy. It's one thing to be a Church Governor, and another thing to chuse or refuse a Church Governor. Vote of a Congregation, in receiving the Keys. Till they have proved it, we take them to have said nothing. It sufficeth us for a disproof. 1. That no such thing is spoken. 2. That the Keys of the King­dom, are in Scripture phrase significant of Stewardly Government, which is in Scrip­ture assigned to the Pastors over the peo­ple. 3. That Peter was not a private Member himself, much less a Congrega­tion; but a Pastor, and a single Pastor, Bishop or Apostle. 4. That the same power is elsewhere given to all the Apo­stles, (Iohn 20. 21.) but not to private Members, or to Congregations of such. 5. That Iohn 20, 21, 22. the power is [Page 26] described to be a power of Remitting and Retaining Sins, annext to their Ministerial Mission, and therefore such as belongeth not to private Men.Dr. Owen was at last against all Go­verning Power in the people, and for the Pastors Government only.

Obj. 1. Cor. 5, 4, 13. The Church is commanded to deliver the Incestuous per­son to Satan, and to put away the wicked person from among them.] Ans. 1. That was but Executively, Paul having himself most solemnly past the Sen­tence, v. 3, 4. [For I verily as absent in Body, but present in Spirit, have judged already as though I were present concerning him that hath so done this deed, (Paul you see doth judge: And that) in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my Spirit, (What then doth he decree to do?) with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one to Satan, &c.] which with the Excommunication, it is most probable contained a Corporal miraculous penalty (as Elimas was struck blind, and Ananias and Saphira dead, &c.) so that [to deliver] is the act that Paul himself resolved to perform, at their meeting: The Text [ [...]] is not [I have judged concerning him,] but [I have judged him] even [ [...], &c.] [to deliver such a one.] But if any will rather take [delivering] here to be the Churches act than Pauls, yet it is plain that it is after his Judgment or Sentence, or [Condemnation] as the Syriack hath it; and therefore that it is but, 1. The solemn declara­tion. 2. And Execution of the sentence already past.

2. But if Paul had left the Work to them he wrote to, there would have been no proof that the Censure had been committed to the people: Here are two works to be done: The Sentence, and the Execution, (that is, avoid­ing Communion, &c.) and accordingly two parts of the Church to do it, the Pastors to Censure, and the people to Execute it, by actual avoiding or putting away. Now if Paul write to an Organized, Governed Society to [deliver to Satan and put away] no Man can hence prove that he commit­teth the same parts of the work equally to all the parts of the Society: No more than he can prove, if the Prince write to this Burrough [to cast out a turbulent Member] that he intendeth to equal the people with the Magi­strates in the work, or to commit the same part of the work to one as to ano­ther: But rather it plainly importeth (and no more) that every Man in his place obey the command.

Obj. Matth. 18. Tell the Church] authoriz [...]th the people. Ans. 1. It is incumbent on the affirmers to prove that it is the whole Body of the people that is there meant. And some think this Argument disproveth it, [That Church which must be heard, must be told (If he hear not the Church.) But the whole Congregation is not the Church that is to be Heard; therefore it is not the Church that is to be told.] The Major seems plain, because else the Equivocation in the word [Church] would make the matter not intelli­gible. The Minor they prove, because the whole Congregation cannot speak▪ [Page 27] and be heard, without confusion: Nor are the Representers of the people in speaking: If they be, then here's a word for a Ministerial Representative Church.

2. But yet for my part I shall yield that it is this whole Congregation that is here meant that must be told. But my answer then is the same as the last to the last objected Text: It is the same Church that hath Officers and Peo­ple, the same Body that hath Eyes, and Ears, and Hands: But it doth not follow that the Ears, and Eyes, and Hands, are the same Members: Or if the Man have a command to Hear, See, and Work, that he is therefore commanded to do all these by the same Parts. The Church may first Hear by her Officers, and lastly Hear by the Congregated people, and Execute by them, and yet not Censure or Admonish, or Absolve by them. All the Church must hear at last, and each part do its proper work in casting out.

Arg. 2. If God have made the Pastors the Stewards, Overseers, and Ru­lers of the Churches, commanding them to Rule well, and the people to Obey them as their Rulers, then is it not the people that God hath made the Rulers. But the Antecedent is express, 1 Cor. 4. 12. Heb. 13. 7, 17, 24. Acts 20. 28. 1 Thes. 5. 12, 13. 1 Tim. 5. 17. and 3. 1, 5. 1 Pet. 5. 1, 2, 3, 5. It is intolerable abuse of Scripture to suppose that it is so self-contradictory as to make the same persons the Rulers and the Ruled, and to command them to obey others as their Rulers whom it would have to Rule them, and be obeyed, and to command them to Rule well whom it would have to be subject.

Arg. 3. (To be briefer in the rest.) This Doctrine of popular Rule destroyeth the very Essence of a Political Church: For as in a Civil Political Body the Pars Imperans, and Pars Subdita are Essential to it, so are the Ru­ling and Ruled part in a Political Church: So that the Being is gone, and the Body dissolved into a Community, or ungoverned Company, if the Govern­ing part be taken down: As here it is: For the people are made Governours, whom God never made so, and so indeed are none. And the Officers being a few to the people, are supposed to be subject.

Arg. 4. And this course introduceth (having destroyed that of Gods In­stitution) a New Species of a Church.

Arg. 5. And it setteth the people on a Work that they are uncapable of. Their parts allow them not to judge some cases, but secondarily as obedient to their Guides, (as some Heresies against the Original Text, &c.) Their Callings and Necessities allow them not time for all that work that to a faithful Government is required, it being such as taketh up with Ministers, a great part of their time.

Arg. 6. And it setteth up an hundred and one, to be Governours of [...]n [...]ty nine, without any Scripture command or president, if not to the oppres [...] or dividing of the Church. Where did Men go to Voting in Scripture for Acts of Government? And where find we that the lesser part are to be Ruled by the greater? What if the lesser part be the wiser, or in the right, and say as God saith (in judging of a Heretick or such like) and the greater part be [Page 28] more ignorant and partial, and contradict God, and cast out an Orthodox Man as an Heretick? By what Word of God are the smaller number bound to take them for their Rulers that can but get the casting Voice?

But yet though some do thus differ from us in the Essentials of Church Po­licy, we are here in no danger, I think, of a continued distance from the Congregational party, but may quickly be Reconciled, if indeed there be any real difference among us. For, 1. The Brethren that we have to do with do expresly reject and write against this Doctrine as Brownism (it is their own word) See Dr. Taylor's 2d Disswasive very▪ well on the Text, Dic Ecclesiae. Mr. T. Goodwin, and Mr. Nye Pref. to Mr. Cot­ton's Keys, p. 5. which say they [doth in effect put the chief (if not the whole) of the Rule and Government into the hands of the people, and drowns the Elders Votes,It's no contemptible case that Mr. Cawdrey puts Review, p. 151. Are not a company of Women with the Pastors a true Church, having all things Essen­tial to it? And have they the Ordain­ing, Admitting, Governing power by Vote or not? If not, then is it not in a Church of Saints as such, but in the true Governours by Office, or in none. which are but few, in the Major Vote of theirs.] And they [give unto the El­ders or Presbytery, a binding power of Rule and Authority proper and peculiar to them. Ibid p. 4.]

2. It is usually confessed by the most Learned of them that the Elders are theI must profess that Scripture and Rea­son speak so plainly that Pastors are Gods Officers to Rule. Rulers must Rule, and the Ruled obey, that I admire that wise and good Men can find a temptation to err in so plain a case. Rulers of the Church, (for the express Scripture cannot be denied) and that (say they) two or three, or more select persons should be put into an Office, and be trusted with an intire interest of PowerA Church in a Prince's or Noblemans House, will consist of perhaps a Lord and Lady and their Children, and a hun­dred or two hundred Servants: Now can any Man think it agreeable to Gods Word, that the Servants because they are the Major Vote, (and the Children a [...] Age with them) shall question, exa­mine, and censure by Excommunicati­on their Parents and Rulers? for a multitude, to which that multitude ought, by a command from Christ, to be subject, and obedient, as [...]o an Ordinance to guide▪ them in their consent, and in whose sentence the ultimate formal Mini­sterial Act, of binding or loosing should consist: This power must needs be esteem­ed and acknowledged in these few to haveIt's a true and weighty Speech of Mr. Cawdrey, ib. p. 155. [These de­structive courses of Levelling Church and State, proceed from the placing of all Power Originally in the people—] the proper Notion and Character of Au­thority, in comparison of that Power (which must yet concur with theirs) that is in a whole Body or multitude ofIt hath been made a Controversie whe­ther Bishops or Pastors may Excommu­ [...]te a Prince: But if his own Family [...] just and meet) should be a Church, [...]ave him Examined and Excommu­ [...]ed by his own Servants out of that Family-Church methinks should seem a [...]a [...]der case▪ Men, which have a greater and nearer interest in those Affairs, over which these few are set as Rulers. Jid. ibid p. 7.] And as long as they confess that the Pastors are the Rulers and the people must obey, I think▪ in sense we are agreed.

[Page 29]3. And though many of them say thatCo [...]ton Keys', p. 33. The Brethren of the Church are the first Subject of Church Liberty, and the Elders thereof of Church Authority: And both toge­ther of all Church Power needful to be exercised within themselves. the Power of the Keys are in the Church or people, yet they usually tell us that it is but Priviledge and Liberty which they mean by Power and by Keys, and that as distinct from Authority: So that it is but a misuse of Terms, and a false Exposition of a Text, that they are guilty of, rather than an Error in the thing it self.

4. And Jid. ib. p. 3. Norton pag. 74, 75. they confess also that this power of the Pastors [they have imme­diately from Christ (in respect of a mediation of delegation or dependance on each other) and are the first Subjects of the power allotted them.] They say that [the Office of Rectors is received immediately from Christ, and to be exercised in the Name of Christ] and that [it is the Designation of the person that is from the Church, but the Application of the Office from Christ.] Mr. Noxton addeth, p. 75. [Distingu [...]ndum accurate inter officium ipsum, & conjunctionem personae cum officio: Officium est à Christo conjunctio talis perso­nae cum tali officio est ab Ecclesia: Christus confert authoritatem illi personae quam eligit ad hec munus, & quasi praesentat Christo Ecclesia,] that this is the very truth, supposing Ordination also to have its place) I have manifested Disput, of Ordinat.

The truth Iudicium de coercendo poenis corporali­bus, est Magistratus: Iudicium, de actio­nibus Pastoralibus praestandis, an non, est Pasto [...]um: Iudicium de obediendo vel non obediendo est subditorum. D [...] Propriis ac­tionibus unusquis (que) praejudicat, officium dis­cernendo. is, the people have not the least degree of Governing Power: (but each man of Self-government, and Parents, and Masters of Family-government) It is Christ that appointeth Ministers as his Am­bassadors, Stewards and Officers, and com­mandeth them to speak in his Name and stead, and the people to hear and obey him in them. So that the gainsaying of this Truth, would be of unspeakable injury to the Church: (Besides what is forementioned) 1▪ It would rob Christ of his Government, which is exer­cised by his Stewards and Ministers. 2. It will engage the godly people in Rebellion. 3. Yea, and in Usurpation of his Government. 4. And it will deprive the Church of the very life of all that Edification and Consolation which they should have by the Ministry. This is our Joy in Baptism, that as we deliver up our selves or Children to Christ, so Christ there by his Autho­rized▪ Minister actually receiveth us or them. This is our Joy in the Lord's Supper, that Christ by his Authorized Minister, saith to us, [Take ye, Eat ye, This is my Body, &c.] and actually delivereth himself to us. This is our Joy in Ministerial Preaching of the Gospel, that by a special Officer Christ pro­claimeth to us the offer of free Pardon and Eternal Life. This is our Comfort in Ministerial Absolution (which should be as Solemn as Excommunication) that Christ by his Messenger doth pronounce us pardoned by name, and re­ceive us into Mercy and Church Communion, supposing that our Repentance [Page 30] be true as we profess it. And so this is the terrour of Excommunication, that Christ by his Officer doth pronounce men bound, and bind them over to an­swer it at his Bar, and cast them by his Sentence out of his House. If you make all these to be but humane Administrations, they are made vain.

And therefore blame not the Presbyterians if they have been jealous of Christ's Interest, and his peoples Comfort, and the life and honour of all the Ordinances performed by the Minister. But yet the peoples Liberties are secured, and the Congregational Brethren may have their desires. For who will deny that the Ministerial Government being not Coercive by external force, the people there­fore must consent, or else we cannot govern them. We can lay an Obligation on them from God (e. g. to avoid such a Heretick): but we cannot force them to obey it: And therefore there can be no executive Excommunication, that is, Avoiding of the Offenders, without the peoples consent! But this is their Sin, when they answer not the Command of God, and not their Power to Govern. We grant also that they are not to be blindly led, and take all care­lesly upon their Pastor's words; but must have (ordinarily) cognisance of the case before a person be cast out and they obliged to avoid him: So that they have a Iudicium Discretionis, as the Pastors have the Iudicium Directionis. But yet (as I have shewed in Pref. to the Reform▪ Past.) the sinful dissent of the people will not alway disable or excuse the Pastors from their part. If a man be proved an Heretick, and the Major Vote of the people do absolve him, in some cases, it may be the Pastor's Duty, openly to pronounce him a Heretick, and (if impenitent) unfit for the Communion of the Church, and to bind him over to God's Judgment, and charge him to depart, and the Church to avoid him. If the Church will not do their Duty (by consenting) that will not al­way excuse me from mine (which is this now described). Yea, and in the execution I will do my part, and leave them in the guilt of omitting theirs: that is, I will avoid familiarity with him, and will not personally give him the Sacrament, and if he intrude and take it, I will openly disclaim him; Other­wise, 1. I must not Preach and apply God's Word, unless the Major Vote consent. For all this is but the Preaching of God's Word about avoiding He­reticks (or other Offenders) and applying it to this case (supposing the Matter of Fact past doubt.) 2. And then a Major Vote might warrant me and the Minor part to break the express Commands of God, (and so make a God of a sinning people): For God saith [A man that is an Heretick reject: with such a one Eat not: Keep not company with him, that he may be ashamed: from such turn away, &c.] And may I disobey all these express Commands, if the Majority be but against them? May I give him personally the Sacrament, or Absolve him, or be familiar with him, &c? Indeed, 1. I would not forsake the Church, nor make a Division in it from every such Miscarriage; but when I have done my own Duty, leave the guilt on them, if they refused to do theirs. 2. And I would not so much as pass the Sentence, or do what I have before said, in case it might by breeding a Division do more hurt than good in the Church, (for no Duty is at all times a Duty), but would be contented soberly [Page 31] to have entered my Dissent, to free my self from the peoples Sin. 3. At upon these grounds we will grant a use of Voting in the Church (though would have as little need of it as I could) Though we will acknowledge [...] Governing Votes, yet for Peace and Concord we will acknowledge that things indifferent a Minor part should submit to the Major part: For in ord to Unity, a Majority should have force, though among Subjects in ord of Regiment, Ten thousand have no more Authority (I mean, Ius Regend than one.

And both in Receiving, Rejecting and Absolving Members, as the Governi [...] Power is only in the Pastors, when the People are to obey, and who are bou [...] by office to attend on the Work, so it is plain that the obligation to Obedien [...] bindeth the People to submit to the Direction and Judgment of their Pasto [...] if they know them not to go against the Word of God. And if the People [...] intrust the Officers or any Delegates of their own in Conjunction with them, judge of those that are to be taken in or cast out, or if their own incapaci disable them from a sufficient discussion of the case, or their business allo them not so much leisure as the work requireth, they are bound to acquies in the judgment of their Rulers. I prove it ad hominem (the Nature of G [...] ­vernment and Obedience proving it undeniably ad rem). If a Minor part (99.) is bound (by your own opinion) to submit to the Major part (as 10 [...] that yet have no Governing Power, when they dissent themselves (and captivate their Consciences to a vulgar Vote), much more should the People a case not understood (where Conscience therefore hath nothing against t [...] Sentence) submit to the judgment of the Stewards of Christ whom he hath co [...] ­manded them as their Rulers to obey: But the former is their own: Therefo [...]

I conclude this (on which I have been larger in Reasoning, because of t [...] weight of it) that here is no room for any other Reconciliation, than to [...] our Agreements, and to leave each other to the Liberty of practising accordi [...] to the small differences of our Judgments. We are agreed that the Pastors a the Rulers, and the people the Ruled that must obey: and that the peop must be governed as rational free Agents, and have a Freedom from Arbitra [...] Government, and from all Commands or Sentences that are contrary to [...] Word of God, but not a Freedom from Obedience, nor from the Blessing of P storal Conduct. And we are Agreed that, in order to Unity, the Major Vo in lawful things must be submitted to: and that a Minister (having enter [...] his dissent) may forbear such reproofs or censures of a Heretick or Impious ma as would break the Peace of the Church, and do more harm than good, becau of the peoples sinful adhering to him; so be it, they own not the sin it se [...] nor do thus ordinarily to the excluding of Discipline: For then I would lea [...] that people. What farther need then of a Reconciliation in order to our Co [...]munion? If any will not take in, or cast out a Member without the peop [...] Major Vote, let them take their Liberty: And if any people had rather tr [...] their Pastors and Delegates with this Care, and will more acquiesce in th [...] Judgments; till they see cause to suspect them, let them also have their Lib [...] ­ty; [Page 32] we can do nothing against the peoples wills, but by proposal! And if the pastors and people consent in these modal or circumstantial things, it little con­cerneth Associated Churches. Let this therefore be unmentioned and we are Agreed.

Chap. VIII. Difference VI.

THE sixth Difference is, whether a Pastor of one Church, may do the work of a Pastor in other Churches when he hath their consent and call? Some have made a stir about this, and dream'd that a Pastor may Preach out of his own Church, but only as a private man, and therefore may not Baptize, Administer the Lord's Supper, or exercise Discipline in any other Church. But the Learned and Sober part of the Dissenters, are become Consenters in the most of this, so that here is little work for a Reconcilement. For they confess that Ministers may as Ministers Preach and Administer the Sacraments to otherSee Mr. Norton at large proving that a Minister of a particular Church, may (not only by virtue of his Gifts) and the common bond of Christian Charity, but also by virtue of his Calling, exercise in another Church the acts of his Office, Charitativè non Authoritativè, p. 76. c. 6. Churches. Indeed they say, that this is only Charitativè, not Authoritativè. Herein they mistake: For though such have not a stated Authority over another Church, yet have they a temporary Authority, asOf this see my Disput. of Ordination, and 3d of Episcopacy. they are called. For he that hath the Call and Power of Office, and a Call pro tem­pore to exercise that Office, hath Authority to exercise it, and doth exercise an Authority (for the Office essentially is an Authority.) But every true Minister of Christ that pro tempore is called to the Ministerial work in another Church, hath an Office (which is Authority) and a call to exercise it. Therefore,

But saith Mr. Norton, p. 83. [Hence it would follow either that there are occasional and partial Ministers pro tempore, or that the same man is the fixed Minister of many Churches at once, or that he is not the Minister of that Church where yet he hath Ministerial Authority.] Ans. None of all these will follow: But only this, that he that is either a stated Minister in the Church Universal, or also a fixed Pastor of a particular Church, may also be the tempo­rary Pastor of another particular Church. As a fixed Physicion of one Hospital, or Schoolmaster of one School, may upon a Call both Charitativè & Autho­ritativè, be for a Day or a Week the Physicion of another Hospital, or the Schoolmaster of another School. It is a contradiction to say, [He may exer­cise his Office, and not Authoritatively.]

Obj. But saith Mr. N. the Minister of this Church, is not the Minister of another Church by the constitution of the Holy Ghost, by whom every Mini­ster is tyed to one certain Flock.]

[Page 33] Ans. 1. A great Errour. There should yet be general Ministers in the Church that should be itinerant, and no more fixed (where the Churches state so requireth it) than Paul, Barnabas, Apollo, Titus, Timothy, and abundance more then were. Your own Argument is, Pag. 80, 81. [Ex analogia Pote­statis Ministrorum erga alias Ecclesias cum Potestatè Ministeriali erga omnes gentes, sive omnem Creaturam: Si Ministri Ordinarii virtute instituti habent Potestatem Ministerialem, non Ecclesiasticam modo debito, erga omnem creatu­ram, habent aliquam Potestatem Ministerialem Ecclesiasticam modo debito erga omnem Ecclesiam. At, &c.] What need we more? Is not Potestas Ministeria­lis Authority? Then I know not what Authority is! Authority is either Ra­tional ex virtute & aestimatione donorum; or it is Imperial or Official, which in all subordinate Officers is Ius agendi actus ejus Officii. Ministerial Power is Ius Ministrandi: Ministerial Authority is Ius Ministrandi: Therefore he that hath Ministerial Power, hath Ministerial Authority. 2. No Minister is so tyed by the Holy Ghost to one certain Flock (any more than one School­master or Physicion) as not to exercise his Office by Authority pro tempore in another Flock when he hath a Call. Charity and Authority go together. Cha­rity obligeth him to exercise his Office, that is, his Authority. The rest of the Objections there an ordinary Reader may answer without help.

But yet here is nothing to hinder our Communion. For, 1. They grant us in Substance what we desire, that is, the temporary exercise of the Ministerial Office, to the World, or to other Churches according to their Capacities. 2. If yet there be any difference in Principles, let them that think Ministers have no Power out of their Congregation, practice accordingly, and stay at home: Let them give us our Liberty in this, and take theirs, and the matter need not hinder our Communion.

Chap. IX. Difference VII.

THE seventh Difference is, about the Power of a particular Church to ex­ercise all Government and Church Ordinances within it self, without Subordination to Synods or any other as extrinsick Ecclesiastical Superiour Go­vernours.

This is Pleaded for by the Independents in ordinary cases (whence Mr. Cot­ton owns the Name of Independency, Keys, P. 29. 53.) saith he, [A Church of a particular Congregation, consisting of Elders and Brethren, and walking in the Truth and Peace of the Gospel, as it is the first subject of all Church Power, needful to be exercised within it self; So it is Independent upon any other (Church or Synod) for the exercising of the same]. Some of the Epis­copal and Presbyterians deny them this, and affirm, that Synods are a Superiour Power, and that particular Congregations without the lower sort of Synods called Classes may not Excommunicate, and that in an ordinary Regimental [Page 34] order, Congregations are under the Government of Synods (and consequently say the Episcopal, of the Heads of those Synods). But the more moderate both Episcopal and Presbyterians hold that Synods oblige directly but gratia Unitatis & Communionis Ecclesiarum, and not directly by a Superiour Governing Power. So Bishop Usher profest his Judgment to me: and that a particular Bishop or Church was not subject to a Synod as their Superiour Governour, but bound in lawful things to consent for Unity and Communion. And Mr. Cotton grant­eth, for ought I see, as much, if not more than this comes to; and Mr. T. Good­win and Mr. Nye, I think as much in their Preface to his Book, saith Mr. Cot­ton, p. 53. [A fourth Corollary touching the Independency of Churches is, That a Church fallen into any offence (whether it be the whole Church, or a strong Party in it) is not Independent in the exercise of Church Power, but is subject both to the admonition of any other Church, and to the Determination and Iudicial Sentence of a Synod, for Direction into a way of Truth and Peace] [For (saith he) Ecclesia litigans non ligat, that is, if Christ hath not given to a particular Church a Promise to bind and loose in Heaven, what they bind and loose on Earth, unless they agree together, and agree in his Name, then such a Church is not Independent in their Proceedings, as do fail in either: For all the Independency that can be claimed is founded upon that Promise, What ye bind on Earth shall be bound in Heaven, &c.] The fifth Corollary affirmeth, that [Though the Church of a particular Congregation consisting of Elders and Brethren, and walking with a right foot in the Truth and Peace of the Gospel, be the first subject of all Church Power needful to be exercised within it self, and consequently be Independent from any other Church or Synod in the use of it; Yet it is a safe and wholesom and holy Ordinance of Christ, for such particular Churches to joyn together in holy Covenant or Communion, and Consolation (Consociation or Consultation it should be) amongst themselves, to administer all their Church Affairs (which are of weighty and difficult and common concernment) not without common Consultation and Consent of other Churches about them. Now Church Affairs of weighty and difficult and common concernment, we account to be, the Election and Ordination of Elders, Excommunication of an Elder, or any person of Publick Note, and Employment; the translation of an Elder from one Church to another, or the like. In which case we conceive it safe and wholesom, and an Holy Ordinance, to proceed with common consultation and consent.] And so he proceedeth distinctly to prove this, 1. Safe. 2. Wholsom. 3. An Ordinance, adding this Caution, which we accept. [To see that this Consociation of Churches be not perverted, either to the oppression or diminution of the just Liberty and Authority of each particular Church within it self: who being well supplied with a faithful and expert Presbytery of their own, do walk in their integrity, according to the Truth and Peace of the Gospel. Let Synods have their just Authority in all Churches, how pure soever▪ in determining such [...] as are requisite for the Edification of all Christ's Churches according to God. But in the Election and Ordination of Officers, and censure of Offenders, let it suffice [Page 35] the Churches consociate to assist one another, with their counsel and right han [...] of fellowship, when they see a particular Church to use their Liberty an [...] Power aright. But let them not put forth the Power of their Community [...] either to take such Church Acts out of their hands, or to hinder them in the [...] lawful course, unless they see them (through ignorance or weakness) to abu [...] their Liberty or Authority in the Gospel—They may indeed prevent the abu [...] of their Liberties, and direct in the lawful use of them, but not take the [...] away, though themselves should be willing] So also before, Pag. 47. he sai [...] [4th Propos. In case a particular Church be disturbed with Errour or Scanda [...] and the same maintained by a Faction amongst them: Now a Synod [...] Churches, or of their Messengers, is the first Subject of that Power and A [...] ­thority whereby Errour is judicially convinced and condemned, the trut [...] searched out and determined, and the way of Truth and Peace declared, an [...] Imposed upon the Churches] which he proceeds to prove.

And Dr. Goodwin and Mr. Nye in their Preface approving of this, sayin [...] that these Synods have [a due measure of Power committed to them, suite and proportioned to those, and are furnished, not only with ability to giv [...] counsel and advice, but further, upon such occasions with a Ministerial Pow [...] and Authority, to determine, declare and enjoyn such things as may tend to th [...] reducing such Congregations to right order and peace.]

And whereas they put it in as a caution, that yet Synods may not Exco [...] ­municate, I answer, that as long as they grant that they may renounce Com­munion with such a Church, and Doctrinally apply to them their Portion, an [...] Doctrinally enjoyn the people to avoid the impenitent Offenders (by applyin [...] the Scriptures to them that enjoyn it) we have no mind to disagree wit [...] them about the rest.

I conclude therefore, that we are Dogmatically agreed in this great Poin [...] as far as is necessary to our Loving Communion. Let us in our Consociation [...] either keep our Principles to our selves, of the degree of a Synods Power, [...] else let all have Liberty to write them down in the Register Book of the Syno [...] and so to proceed in Concordant Practice. Perhaps some may be found th [...] think Synods are the proper Superiour Governours of the Pastors of particul [...] Churches, yea, and their Ordinary Governours: Others may think that the [...] are not necessary, nor any Ordinance of God; but yet a lawful thing that ma [...] for Peace be used. And others (that I think are in the truth) may think th [...] Synods are not the direct Governours of the particular Pastors, but are God [...] Ordinance for the Communion of Churches, and so indirectly bind in lawf [...] Agreements, both as our own Consents oblige us, and as God's general Co [...] ­mand of doing all things in Unity and Peace and Concord, doth animate the [...] Agreements. Let us impose none of our Principles here on others; but Agr [...] to hold Communion in Synods, for mutual Edification, and Corroboration, a [...] such like ends of Communion as Mr. Cotton mentioneth; and to be accou [...] table to the Brethren in cases of offence, so far as to tender them due satisfactio [...] and hear their Brotherly Admonitions; In a word, let us but maintain th [...] [Page 36] necessary Communion of Churches which the Ends and Nature of the Church require, and we shall press no more.

Obj. But, being free, why should we desire to be bound, in Associations?

Answ. You are not free from brotherly Charity, & the Communion of Saints, and the Concordant doing the Works of God, of common Concernment. Nor do we desire you to bind your selves to any thing but what is antecedently your Duty, and you're already bound to by God.

Object. But perhaps if we associate with you, you will be rigid for your own ways and be the Major part, and then if we displease you, our Commu­nion shall be rejected to our disgrace.]

Ans. 1. The Churches can pass as dis­graceful a Sentence on you, if you come not near them, as if you joyned with them. Yea, and they will no doubt take it to be their Duty, if they have proof of the Heresies or Scandals of any Neighbour Minister, (aggravated by the shunning of their Brethrens Communion), to disown them, and warn their people of the danger. If you joyn with us, you are more like to escape such Censures or injurious Reflections, than by keeping from us: For familiarity kindleth Love: and your presence may awe many, and your words satisfie those that could not be so well satisfied, if they had not heard you speaking for your selves.

2. Moreover, you have opportunity to prevent such abuse as you fear, in your terms of entring the Association.

3. Surely Brethren that so earnestly desire your Communion for the Chur­ches Peace, will not be hasty to renounce Communion with you.

4. By their Accepting you, they are engaged not to Reject you, for any Opinion or Practice which they knew you guilty of when they Accepted you: For if it were not of weight to hinder your Reception, it may not be of weight to cause your Rejection.

Obj. But under the Name of a Communion of Churches, you seem to set up a Provincial Church, with a Discipline of taking in and casting out.

Ans. Nort. P. 45. Si Ecclesia Represen­tativa sumitur pro mutua consultatione, con­sotiatione & confoederatione Ecclesiarum par­ticularium in Synodis per Legatos, nova Ecclesiae forma non addita, & libertate Ec­clesi [...] salvâ, rem agnoscimus. Is it the Name of a Church that you fear, or the Thing? Not the Name, for we use it not, nor do you charge this on us. If the Thing tells us what you mean by a Church. If such a thing as you use to define it to be, we deny that we set up such a Church. But if you will call the Officers and Delegates of the Churches, met for Communion, by the Name of a Church, you may use your Liberty: we hold this Communion for no higher ends, than your own forecited words allow: and therefore it is but such an Assembly as you may allow.

Take Mr. Norton's yet larger Concessions, Pag. 110, &c. [Ecclesiae parti­culares mutuam Communionem inter se inire possunt, & in eis causae Communes omnium Ecclesiarum, i. e. talis res quae omnibus Ecclesiis particularibus Commu­nes sunt, quamvis immediatè unam tantum Ecclesiam tangunt, ut sunt Pastorum [Page 37] vocationes, Membrorum excommunicationes, &c. Vel etiam tales res quae imme­diatè omnes Ecclesias ex aequo tangunt communiter) Communi consensu Ecclesia­rum dijudicentur & discernantur]—Pag. 111. [Solummodò inde Colligimus ei potestatem supremam decidendi quaestiones fidei debitam, quod & promptè da­mus—] Pag. 112. De necessitate Synodorum. Tametsi, Concilia non sint ita absolutè necessaria, ut Ecclesia sine illis nunquam bene esse possit; tamen in tantâ hominum malitia, & temporum perversitate, non tantum insigniter sunt utilia, sed etiam quodammodo necessaria: ita ut Ecclesia salutari hoc remedio non possit carere; sine insigni veritatis, pietatis & Concordiae Christianae detrimento. Nemo, inquit Parkerus, quod sciam, Ecclesiae alicujus reformatae alumnus ante Hugo­nem Grotium, negavit Synodos esse necessarias: quibus nos [...] libenter pro­fitemur, sequentibus freti rationibus. 1. A Natura duce; Cujus dictamine in Controversiis difficilioribus & grandioribus à judicio inferiori ad. praecellentius con­fugimus. Hinc jus appellationum in causis gravioribus ab inferiori ad superiorem sententiam. Parker: Cum in causis & Personis Ecclesiasticis multae lites orian­tur, jus appellationum necessariò concedendum quis neget? Appellationes sunt juris Divini, & naturalis, & in omni societate admodum necessariae, propter multo­rum judicum iniquitatem & ignorantiam. 2. A fine Concilii—3. Ab exemplo, &c. 4. A Praecellentia Concilii, &c. 5. A [...] Ecclesiarum; quam valde tuetur unio sententiarum in Synodis; unde [...] suavissima & diuturna, cum doctrina & mores probantur ad invicem: sin autem singulis Ecclesiis particularibus juxta sententias proprias incedere licet, nulla habita vicinarum ratione, quam facilè in partes & dissidia abiturae sunt? 6. A fructu administrationum: quae si caeteris Ecclesiis consentientibus fiant, spes est etiam fore efficaces: sin dissentientibus ti­mendum ne inefficaces sint. E. g. in casu excommunicationis vicinis comprobantibus excommunicatus argutus ab omnibus, dijudicatus ab omnibus, procidens, &c.—Pag. 118. Quatenus particulares Ecclesiae s [...]se subjicere debent sententiae Synodi. R. Legitimis Synodi decretis ab omnibus Ecclesiis h. e. à majori parte Ecclesiarum receptis, & à Magistratu Christiano approbatis, tenentur particulares Ecclesiae acquiescere, 1. Sub periculo reatus ordinis publici turbati. 2. Sub poena non Communionis cum aliis Ecclesiis. 3. Sub poena correctionis per poenas civiles à Magistratu.

Then he comes to the Q. What if the Synod conclude against the Truth, and the Church stand for it? And answereth, 1. That it's not easily to be supposed in reformed times, And 2. Uti in Civilibus, est Veritas absoluta & Iudicialis: & sententia supremi judicis vera est quoad homines, licet non sit vera absolutè: Ita in Ecclesiasticis Veritas est absoluta & Synodalis: Synodus autem cum sit supremus judex quaestionis, sententi [...] Synodalis licet non sit vera▪ absolutè, est tamen vera Ecclesiasticè: Si in foro exteriore.—Pag. 119. Statuen­dum est ordinem publicum prae [...]erendum esse praesenti obedientiae ergo praeceptum affirmativum, non fundamentale.—Hîc obtinet illud (Ames.) Gravissima in▪commoda fac [...]unt aliquando ut praeceptum affirmativum desinat obligare, quod aliàs non possit non observari sine peccato. Ordini igitur tali [...] Ecclesia in hoc casu sese subjicere & potest & debet: sed tamen sine peccato.]—

[Page 38]Is not here enough for our Agreement in this Point? I should have feared Censures if I had said as much.

But I hope you deny not the Power of Christian Kings, nor that a Christian Soveraign and Christian Subjects are a Christian Kingdom, and de nomine may be called a National Church. And Moses, David, Solomon, Iosiah, had a Governing Power over the Priests, though not to change the species of their Office. And if I and others think that Apostles and Evangelists have Successors to the End of the World in the ordinary parts of their Office, and in Superio­rity you may with Peace hold your Opinion and leave us to ours: Of which elsewhere.

Chap. X. Difference VIII.

THE Eighth supposed Difference is, about Private mens Preaching: and it hath two Parts. 1. Whether Private men, may Preach in the Church? 2. Whether the Church may send them out as private men unordained, to Preach in the Parishes of England, or to the Heathens or Unbelievers?

The Presbyterians deny not but Private men may Preach in some cases. None that fear God do desire any to bury their Talent, nor would hinder men from doing the Work of God. But they would have bona bene, God's Work done in God's Order. On these Conditions we allow Private men to Preach. 1. If they do it but ex Charitate, and pretend not to the Ministerial Office. 2. And if they do it occasionally, and not as men separated to that work as their Calling (for then they become Ministers indeed while they disclaim it in Name. 3. If they do it not needlesly, to a proud ostentation of their parts; but only when Abler Men, or Ministers are not to be had, or else on some urgent weighty cause. 4. If they make not themselves the Judges of their own fitness, but ex­pect the Approbation of the judicious, faithful, concordant Ministers that know them. 5. If they undertake no more than they can perform, and suppose not themselves fitter than they are, and so run not beyond their Knowledge, nor dishonour not the Work of God. 6. If they thrust not themselves into any Church to Preach without a Call, nor ordinarily without the Pastors consent. 7. If they do it not unseasonably when by offending they are likely to do more hurt than good. 8. If in the manner, season and continuance they submit to the Guidance of the Pastors of the Church (if it be more than ordinary Teach­ing, and not such as every able. Master of a Family may there do). With these Cautions we grant that Private men may Preach Many Episcopal Divines grant it: And the Presbyterians ordinarily permit it in their Expectants that are trained up for the Ministery. A Maid begun the Conversion of the Iberians by Conference; And interlocutory Preaching is truly Preaching. Edesius and Frumentius converted the Indians. Alexander Bishop of Ierusalem, and Theo­ctistus of Caesaria, maintained Origene's Teaching while he was a Private man: [Page 39] and that in the Church before the Bishops. And when Demetrius of Alexan­dria reprehended them, affirming it to be an unknown case, that a Layman should preach in the presence of a Bishop, they gainsay him, and produce the Examples of Neon a Bishop that required Evelpius to teach, and of Celsus that set Paulinus to preach at Iconium, and of A [...]icus that set Theodorus to teach at Synnadorum. And, saith Dr. Fulke, Demetrius himself doth seem to allow, that when no Bishop was present, a Layman might preach, Euseb. Hist. li. 6. c. 20.

But that every proud unworthy Man, and every seducing Heretick, should preach, yea and thrust himself into other Mens Charges, or that any should preach besides the forementioned Rules, this we deny, and take it for a dange­rous Usurpation.

But are we not agreed in this? Hear and Judge: Mr. Cotton so downright denieth ordinary private Men to Prophesie, interpreting 1 Cor. 14. 31. of extraordinarily Gifted Prophets (of which see his Keys, pag. 20, 21.) that Mr. Goodwin and Mr. Nye thought meet to signifie some Dissent, Pref. p. 6. And yet they grant, that this must be performed by private Men, [1. Only Occasionally, not in an ordinary Course. 2. By Men of such Abilities as are fit for Office. 3. And not assuming this of themselves, but judged such by those that have the power, and so allowed and designed to it. And, 4. So as their Doctrine be subjected (for the judging of it) in an especial manner, to the Teaching Elders of that Church.] And I think that this is enough to signifie, that here we shall have no cause of a breach with them. Mr. Norton speaks to the same purpose, pag. 123, 124, 125. and joins with Mr. Cotton in denying Prophesie to private Men, and expounding 1 Cor. 14. of extraor­dinarily Gifted Prophets only: In this therefore Doctrinally we agree.

2. But the second seemeth the more dangerous difference: That their Churches should presume to send abroad Preachers not in Office, for the Con­version of Souls, by setting them apart to that work, and directing or allow­ing them to be stated Ordinary Teachers. Their excuses are, that Pastors are proper to particular Churches; and it is not into Churches but Parishes that they send them; not to Rule or Teach a Church, but to Convert Souls and gather Churches. Ans. But, 1. It is not your calling Parishes [no Churches] that makes or proves them none. You are not the Judges, when they profess themselves Churches. If others send Men to preach in your Churches, it will not excuse them with you, if they face you down that they are no Churches, and therefore they may preach in them. 2. But suppose they were all Heathens, you have never yet proved that to be a stated Preacher for their Conversion, is not to be a proper Ministerial Officer. Contrarily, 1. In the days of the Apostles and all their helpers, it was part of the Office of a Minister, (yea and of the chief Ministers) to be stated Preachers for the Conversion of unbelievers, and gathering Souls to Christ: But the Office of the Ministry is now the same as then. Therefore▪

2. To go and Teach, and Disciple the Nations is as true a part of the Mi­nisters Commission as to teach the Church (Matth. 28. 19.) Therefore it is not common to private M [...]n.

[Page 40]3. Ordinary Baptizing is no work for private Men: Therefore not preach­ing. The reason of the consequence is, 1. Because they are conjoyned in the Minsterial Commission, (Matth. 28. 19.) 2. Because if Pastors go not abroad the World with these private Men to preach to Infidels, then when they have converted any, they must be unbaptized till Pastors can come to them: Which is contrary to all Scripture example that Baptism should be so long delayed after Conversion ordinarily.

4. To be separated to the Gospel of God, is a chief part of the description of a Minister (by Office) Rom. 1. 1. But these private Preachers are by the Churches separated to the Gospel of God (by right or by wrong) therefore they are made Ministers by Office. Indeed the first object of the true Ministerial Office (in order of nature) is the uncalled World; and the calling of them is as Eminent a part of their Office as preaching to a Church.

This is the most Eminent Evangelizing, to declare the Glad-tydings of Salvation to the World: And this is the preaching that requireth sending, Rom. 10. On this work were the Twelve and the Seventy sent: on this work specially did the Apostles lay out themselves. And not only they, but Apollo, Luke, Mark, Timothy, Titus, Silas, and abundance of the chiefest Ministers of Christ.

But yet we have no matter to excuse a Division or Alienation, from this Difference. For, 1. I cannot prove it a Difference between the Parties: For I know not that the Congregational Party have owned and espoused the Opinion which I here oppose; though some particular persons do: And there­fore I do not charge it on them. 2. If they did, yet Infidels are so far from us, that irregular endeavours to Convert them, will be no matter of a breach: And were we nearer them, we might leave others to practise according to their Judgments, as long as we are not guilty of the Error. 3. They do not pretend to sorce themselves into our Parish Churches (ordinarily) against his will that is the allowed Teacher there. 4. While they do in Name dis­claim Ordaining them, they actually Ordain them. For they set them apart to the Office of the Ministry, and it is Pastors that do it: And this is the sub­stance of Ordination: Imposition of Hands is but the Investing Ceremony. And if they say that A stated Preacher is no Officer, that makes him not to be none: And if they say, that they Ordain him not when they Approve and Appoint him by an Instrument to that Office, that makes it not to be no Or­daining; no more than if they should Appoint Men to a Pastoral Charge, in one of their own Churches, and say, It is no Office, or Ordination. 5. And when the peoples consent is afterward added, the Man is more fully separated to the Work. 6. But however, as long as they allow us our liberty of Or­dination, and thrust none upon our Communion as Pastors that are no Pastors, we have no pretence to make this a stop to our Communion. Let us close to­gether, and pass this by, and God will further inform us, and dispel our dark­ness when we walk together in holy Love and Peace.

Chap. XI. Difference IX.

THE Ninth seeming Difference is, about our Parishes in England, whe­ther they are true Churches of Christ, or not. But here is little or no difference that is stood to whatever any particular persons may think, it is not a difference between the parties. For, 1. It is not desired of them to grant that a Parish as a Parish (that is, the people, yea the Christians inhabiting such a space of ground) is a Church. It's possible they may be of many Churches, or of none (but the Universal.) 2. Nor is it desired that they take every Member of the Parish, no nor every Hearer, for a Member of the Church. Men of several Churches, or of no Church may live in the Pa­rish, and hear together. 3. Nor are they desired to take any Parish for a true Political Church that hath not a true Pastor, with a competent number of professed Christians joined together for personal Communion in Gods Wor­ship.

But that our ordinary Parishes in England that have true Ministers are true Churches is so familiarly granted by the Congregational party, that to recite their words seems needless: And therefore they utterly disclaim separating from us as no true Churches. 1. That our want of a Church Covenant nullifieth not these Churches, I told you before they grant, because our consent is our Covenant: And our ordinary practice tolerably signifieth that consent. Saith Mr, Norton, p. 21. [Siuna externa fidei professione, veritatis & sanctitatis praxi, eodem baptismate uniantur, & eundem publicum cultum uno in loco fre­quentent, iisdem inspectoribus Ecclesiae subsint, &c.] See the place, where he acknowledgeth this a Church without an Explicit Covenant.

2. And that the impiety of our Parishes, or other incapacity of the Mem­bers is not such as to nullifie our Churches they confess. Because a good Church may have some bad Members: And where the greater number are bad, the Pastor and the better (smaller) part may denominate the Church, and it may be true, though polluted. What Doctrinal and Practical Cor­ruptions were in the Churches of Corinth, Galatia, and divers of the Asian Churches, Rev. 2. and 3. is so plain, and hath been so often mentioned that it's needless to recite the Texts. Saith Mr. Norton, 28, 29. Immo tantum abest, ut ob defectum foederis expliciti (salva vel ungulae religione in rebus Iesu Christi) ullas Congregationes ex Ecclesiarum albo expungamus; ut Caetus multò graviora passos, essentialibus Dei gratia adhuc in tuto positis tanquam non Eccle­sias judicare, salvâ conscientiâ nullos posse, sanctè testemur. Distinguendum inter Ecclesiam puram, impuram, impurissimam, & nullam▪—Fundamentalia sive Essen­tialia sunt materia & forma Ecclesiae particularis. Materia sunt homines pro­fitentes Doctrinam salutaris fidei: Forma est mutuus consensus politicus ad ince­dendum in illa fide, vel verbis, vel factis, modo aliquo visibiliter significatus: [Page 42] Adeo ut non sufficit subitanea aliqua conjunctio, & sanctae communionis exerciti­um, ad Ecclesiam constituendam, nisi constantia illa accedat, saltem quoad inten­tionem, quae statum adfert Corporis & Membrorum in spirituali quadam politia: Qualem consensum nos foedus vocare jam toties diximus.]

As this proveth our Parishes true Churches, so that greater corruptions than the Vices of some, even Fundamental Errors in the Church it self, doth not presently destroy the Church is his Opinion, and Parker's cited by him: Ibid. saith he, [Neque tamen Ecclesiam errores fundamentales statim destruunt, do­nec eis addatur contumacia in foro exteriori. Ecclesia in fundamento aberrans tamdiu manet Ecclesia quamdiu non est pertinax.]

Certainly here is as large a judgment of Charity as we can reasonably ex­pect, and so large as without some distinction, will be liable to contro­versie.

We easily confess that most of our Churches need much Reformation, and that all in our Parishes are not Church Members: But yet I may well sup­pose that we are Agreed that those of them that have true Pastors are true Churches, and that this is the case of our Parishes ordinarily, or very many at least (yea some such Dissenters think that they may be true Churches without Pastors) so that here between the parties there is no disagreement, whatever particular persons hold. Many are more afraid lest a great many Parishes should be Made no true Churches (in a Political sense) by setting over them such as are no true Ministers, than be proved none before they are made None. But I see no danger of this, while we have liberty of Election and Or­dination.

Chap. XII. Difference X.

THE Tenth Controversie, is about, 1. Taking Members out of other Churches, 2. And separating from the Parish Churches, by gather­ing out of them a select number to be a distinct Church.

And here there is a Practical Difference to our woe: But in order to Re­concilement, I should hope that I might suppose our Agreement in all the other points of Difference to be sufficient, and that being satisfied in those the Brethren that have been for withdrawing from our Churches, will be satisfied to join with us for their Reformation, and not do as they have some of them done. For we have therefore come as near them as we can in the rest, that they might have no just occasion to depart from us: And if that yet they will depart, when the offence is removed, then it would be as if they should say, We are against Concord and Unity as such: And our judgment for Division as such, that is, for Dividing without cause. When we have answered all that our Brethren alledge for their withdrawing, we may expect that they should return to an Orderly Communion. This Controversie is de fine, and seeing we [Page 43] grant them much in the rest for this, therefore we cannot grant them this: If in War we grant all that is desired for Peace, it is supposed that we will not grant the continuance of the War; nor in reason must that be one of the de­mands.

I speak all this but of unjust Separations: For there is a Separation which we are all agreed to be lawful (as far as I know) as, 1. We all agree that where Christians live in the midst of Infidels, they must come out from among them (by Faith and Repentance) and be separated (by the Baptismal En­gagement first, and the Communion of Saints after) and not touch the un­clean thing. The Church must be separated from the World, or it is no Church.

2. We are agreed that when a true Church Visibly ceaseth to be a true Church, by loss of its Essentials statedly, it is our Duty to judge it to be no true Church (that is but to judge it as it is) and forsake it accordingly.

3. When we cannot hold local Communion with a true Church without committing some sin, which they would force upon us, and which we may escape by leaving them, we ought to withdraw from the local Communion of that Church (for we must not wilfully sin, nor do evil that good may come by it:) Yet so as that still we must hold Internal, and also External distant Communion, by owning them as a true Church, and corresponding with them as a Neighbour Church.

4. If a true Church in the corruption of the Materials become uncapable of its Ends, and we have with sufficient patience tryed the means of its Reformation without success, it is ordinarily (unless some greater matter hinder accidental­ly) our Duty to forsake it: Yea and to esteem it no more a true Church, if it be the Principal Ends that it's become uncapable of. As if the Body were fallen into an Opinion against Communion and Publick Worship, and yet should think they might hold their Relations: This were a contradiction. If they would in Publick, worship God with a Worship false in the Essentials, and which is no Church-worship, but Impiety or Deceit. And though I will not now determine how far Discipline is necessary to a Church, more than to say that the Power is Essential to the Pastors Office, yet I may boldly conclude that in point of Duty. if a Church be so corrupted by Heresie or Impiety that Discipline cannot be exercised in it, because the greater part do own the Here­sie or Sin, or the Sinners in their Sin, and this be not in one or a few Acts, but they are against the course of Discipline in the main, and Vote for Wic­kedness, or against Piety, or the publick Censures of the Church, or refuse to execute them; and if after sufficient patience I cannot reform them, I shall take it to be my Duty to take with me the better part of the Church, and forsake the rest, as to local Communion, and perhaps first to cast them out from us (as to their Relation) though we are the lesser part: Unless in some cases, where Publick Good requireth a delay, and suspendeth my Duty for the time.

5. If a Pastor be despised by the Church, and refused, or if they desire his stay, and yet wilfully disobey him, and his Labours are unprofitable among [Page 44] them, that are like to be profitable elsewhere, we doubt not but he may re­move, as being rejected and forsaken first by them.

6. If a Pastor and some choice Members with him have a Call to a far more Eminent Service of God, conducing much more to the publick Good, we doubt not but they may remove, though the rest dissent. God is the Master of his Ministers and people more than Men are.

7. If the Necessities of a Mans Family (Ministers or people) require him to remove his Habitation, I doubt not but he may remove, though the Church dissent: unless in some Cases where by accident his removal may more dishonour God, or hinder publick Good, than his Estate or the preservation of his Fa­mily can countervail: The Church hath not power to tye Men to Ruine their Families, nor to continue with them during Life, nor during their pleasure: Nor is it implied in the consent of Membership, which is to be no more, but that [I will hold Communion with this Church as a Member, while I here Coha­bit, or I have no call from God to remove.] It is so in Civil Corporations▪ Cohabitation is an antecedent part of our Aptitude for Church Communion; and many just Causes may deprive us of that Aptitude, and make the persons to be materia indisposita & incapax, and so destroy his Relation of it self.

8. If persons that have a weak Pastor, or a corrupt Society, can to the great advantage of their Souls remove, they may do it whether the Church will consent or not, in case their removal do not accidentally do more hurt against the honour of God, and the publick Good, than their profit can coun­tervail: And still supposing, that the Churches consent be first orderly sought.

9. The same I say of them that have Pastors that will not exercise any com­petent Discipline, though with sufficient patience importuned thereunto.

In one word, in no case is a Man bound to stay with any Church to the certain prejudice or danger of his Soul, or the Souls of his Family, unless in the foresaid case, (if such a case there be) when the publick Good and the Cause of God will receive more detriment by our removal than our benefit will countervail.

10. Lastly, If we be unjustly cast out of any Church, and persecuted by them, and have no just redress at home, no doubt but we may joyn with ano­ther Church. As if a Pastor that is for Rebaptizing would take none but who will be Rebaptized, or having taken some in, will cast them out: Or if a Pastor be set over us, of an uncharitable Spirit, that will take in none for Godly but those of his Opinion, or some few of a higher Form, and de­nieth Communion to all the rest, in this case it is he that doth the wrong, and they are necessitated to join with another Church, that will receive them; and another Church may justly receive them, if first they cannot prevail for their reception at home.

All this we grant for a removal from a Church without the guilt of Schism or sinful Separation. But on the other side we must needs desire, 1. That Men will not rashly and self-conceitedly judge any of these Cases to be where they are not: And therefore that they will take the advice of the next una­nimous, [Page 45] peaceable, faithful Pastors. And for this, saith Mr. Norton, p. 167. [But when this or that Congregation is to be taken for No Church, let the judgment be in the hands of a Council, or in an Ordinate state of the Churches.]

2. We desire that whole Churches may not be taken for no Churches with­out proof, nor before they are heard speak for themselves: And that those that have possession of the publick Maintenance and Temples, (I know no fitter Name for them) will not gather a part of the people into a new Church, as if there were none before, till it be proved upon equal hearing: Nor that they would not Dissolve the old Church, instead of Reforming it, nor withdraw from them, instead of casting out the unfit in an orderly way of Discipline; unless where Discipline and Reformation cannot be had: If we propose the ex­ercise of Discipline to a Parish, and the most will rather disown (or refuse to own) their Relations as Members, than live under Discipline, and so Sepa­rate themselves from us, (or profess that they never took themselves for Mem­bers) then the blame will lye on them, and they are the Separatists: But if they Own their Relations, and offer to live as Christians under Discipline, in holy Communion, surely they must be cast out upon proved accusations, Man by Man, in Christs way, Matth. 18. or not at all. I confess by drawing out a few from the rest, we may scape a great deal of labour, trouble, and ill will of those that should be cast out: But the selfish, easie way is not like to be the way of God.

3. We desire that Pastors that preach the Faith, may not be the lowest in Charity, nor uncharitably censure all those as ungodly and unfit for Church Communion, that want but distinct Conceptions, and fit Expressions, through the lowness or neglect of their Education; or that are not able, to be the mouth of a Family in Prayer, while they are willing to perform the Duty, if they could, and to learn that they may perform it: And that the weak in Faith may be received, and the little ones suffered to come to Christ, even all that are willing to give up themselves to him, and of those that so come to him none may in any wise be rejected, or cast out till they turn from Christ and the Holy Covenant: That the Lambs may be carried in our Arms, and the bruised Reed may not be broken; and that the tenderness of Christ to the least of his Members may be remembred, and the price of Souls, and our own former weakness; and also how much more grievous it should be to us, to keep or cast out one of our weak Brethren that Christ would have received, than to let in many intruding Hypocrites, who shall be made serviceable to the Church, and their Masks shall be our just excuse, though not their own▪ And specially remember that it is Christ that is the Lord of the Family, and we are but Servants, and therefore we must take all our directions from him, and shut out none but those that we are sure he would have shut out: And re­member that in doubtful cases, we are allowed to incline to the more charita­ble side. Force not Men unjustly by refusing them, to seek acceptance in o­ther Churches.

Though I intended at first more brevity than will consist with long citati [...] ­ons, [Page 46] I shall recite a few words of Judicious Mr. Noyes of New-England: Tem­ple measured, p. 63, 64. saith he, No Wheat must be pulled up with the Tares, the Tares must rather be tolerated—that Rule which requireth more than is ne­cessary in the weakest Believer, must needs exclude the called of God: And that Rule which necessarily or absolutely requireth unnecessary Experiences, savoriness of Speech, suitableness of Spirit to our tempers, persuasion of sound Conversion, &c. such a Rule I say requires much more than is necessary or competible to the weakest Believer. To require a persuasion in our Hearts of the Conversion of all that are admitted, is too much; unless we can meet with a Rule, that will admit all Saints, and also afford such a persuasion. It will contradict the Rule of our ad­mission, to make our apprehensions part of the Rule. Our fancies are a leaden Rule; and if we are severe, and have no certain Rule to regulate us, we shall exclude the weak more often than we shall receive them. 4. The lowest degree of absolute probability that a person is converted should be satisfactory. The weakest Christians are to be received, Rom. 14. 1. and the weakest can hold forth no more than the least degree of an absolute probability; the strongest can hold forth no more than the highest degree of probability. Again, either the highest, or the lowest, or some middle degree of probability is requisite: The highest is not: And what rule is there for some middle degree? If it be not in our power to require a Years experience for more degrees of probability, why a Months experience?]

I have elsewhere proved that the true condition (which Mr. N. here calls the Rule) is nothing but [A CREDIBLE PROFESSION] and that it being to be received upon a Humane Belief, that hath a fallible object, [IT IS TO BE TAKEN FOR A CREDIBLE PROFESSION, WHICH CANNOT BE PROVED FALSE OR INCREDIBLE.] This is the Scripture-way, and this is the ancient way of the Churches: And if you will needs on either hand forsake these Terms, I presume to Prognosticate, you shall but wrong your Brethren, and your Souls, and the Church and Christ, and bewilder your selves, and make work for Repentance. With confidence after long consideration and disputing the point I speak it. But I return to Mr. Noyes.

Page 64. [The Practise of the Apostles, Acts 2, &c. must confine our pru­dence: They were better directed and instructed than we are: And they expected no Testimony, nor a days experience: They could not in so short a time make any Inquisitions, or hear any perswasive relations. The youngest Converts must be in­stantly imbraced: Therefore some days of Experience or Testimonies are not ne­cessary. Some are ignorant and of an arid Constitution and Expression: Therefore an explicit savour of Language is not equally requisite in all—The Apostolical Rule was large: It suffered many corrupt Members to creep in—None, as far as we read, were put by: Yet Converts were many, young, ignorant, rude; and Conversions were sudden and passionate—If ample relations of the work of Grace be necessary, then either for satisfaction or for edification. Not for sa­tisfaction, as hath been proved: Not for edification—For, 1. Would it not be as profitable for all Members to come about again at certain seasons? 2. Such [Page 47] relations do uncover the nakedness of Brethren and Fathers. 3. They slander such as are not Gifted; such as cannot express themselves in good language. 4. Pride is set on the stage in the House of God. 5. Hypocrites are provoked to paint and act themselves. 6. Such relations are known to afflict the afflicted, who came to us, and with us in love, and we here hide our Faces from them. 7. The eloquent, and such as have Athletick constitutions carry away undeserved respect from Countrey Christians. Materiam superabat opus. Hence issue comparisons: Nay we foster, (instead of preventing) suspicious partiality. 8. Young Men exalt themselves over the Faith of their Ancients. 9. Some are sent to their Graves frustrate of their hopes, we being in a way to admit no more in many years, than were admitted by the Apostles in one day—10. To grieve such as ought to be comforted, to defame such as deserve honour, to judge one another for infirmities, is unjust. Rom. 14. The Apostle thought it just to think well of all, Phil. 1. 17, &c.—The Apostles were diligent and faithful in directing and exhorting, and rebuking: And why are they then so silent in point of admission? Yea when the Churches were corrupted, and pestered with corrupt Members, such as made their Bellies their Gods, Phil. 3. Jude 4. 1 Cor. 15. and 13. Surely admission hath never been deemed in the Churches so momentous as with us: And yet we commit it to the dissident and multiformons fancies of Members, without a Rule—The Apostles were never acquainted with those Questions, [How, when, where, and whereby, and by whom Conversion was wrought?] The Church is a tender Mother, Cant. 7. and speedily embraceth her Infant by ad­mission into her Arms, and layeth it to her Breasts of consolations. Experience telleth us that a Man will not easily make Protestations before God, and subject himself to Discipline, unless it be resolved with him. If it be resolved, he shall be saved—Happy is he that is resolved to slee from the wrath to come, to the Ark, to Z [...]ar, to the Cities of Refuge: And open we the Gate readily (without many expostulations) to rescue him from the avenger of Blood: Yea the way is to be made easie to encourage him to come. We must not have such a Rule of ad­mission, as may in an ordinary way disinherit Saints of their Right and Priviledges in the Kingdom of God.] So far Mr. Noyes.

3. We crave, and expect our Brethrens consent, that we may not have the Gospel hindered through the Land, by unnecessary sinful private Antichurches: That every Town or City where are Men professing Godliness, may not be as a pitcht Field; and holy Exercises turned into Contendings; nor Christian Assemblies turned into Schools of War, or scolding places. Let us not be many Masters, lest we receive the greater condemnation. The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easie to be intreated, &c. where envying and strife is there is confusion and every evil work. This wisdom de­scendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.] Iam. 3. Let us agree then to do what lyeth in our power, that the Churches may be re­duced to the Primitive patterns, that met all in One place, and there were of one Heart and Soul. Where find you in all the Scriptures, that there were two distinct Churches, (especially distinguished or divided by differences) in [Page 48] one City; and that when for the number they might have joyned in one? Where find you that the worst Church had any good men that separated from it into a distinct Church in that place? Is Scripture our common Rule? I be­seech you then be able well to resolve these Questions, before you venture in your practice to contradict the word. If we drive you from our Churches causelessly, the Shame be on us! But if you causelessly depart into Antichurches, the blame shall lye on you. Do not stagger and confound our poor People, by shewing them in each Town, Minister against Minister, and Church against Church; and entice not young Novices into an opinionative Religiousness, and draw not the Nation from the Power of Godliness, and Practice of Charity, into doting about Questions.

4. For order sake, let Parishes be the ordinary bounds of Churches; not so as if all in the Parish, are therefore of the Church, but so as that ordinarily we take none out of others Parishes. Let us not do it without just cause, nor do it when it will tend more to publick hurt, than any persons good can compen­sate. If you could prove Parishes no Churches, yet they that Preach to them for their Conversion, caeteris paribus, are fittest to be their Guides, when they are converted. Tell us if you can, wherever you found one instance in Scrip­ture or the Primitive times, of one Soul that forsook the Church that was Congregated in the City of his Habitation, and was a Member of any other Church, in a place where he dwelt not; Except the Hereticks that Iude saith did [separate themselves, being sensual, having not the spirit] whose man­ner it was to forsake the Assemblies, Heb. 10. 25. Cohabitation is requisite to the Ends of Churches, even the exercise of Communion, and the offices of Mem­bers one towards another. How can we watch over men that live out of our reach? How know we what their conversation is?

But especially when a Parish hath a faithful Minister, that undertaketh to prove the Members that you receive to be part of his Pastoral Charge or Church, it will no more warrant any man irregularly to receive them, because he affirms that it is no Church, or they no Members, than such an Affirmation concerning your own Churches or Members will warrant others to receive your Members.

5. And that justice may be exercised, and order observed, let no Member remove till he have sought the Consent of the Church where he is, or heard them give their Reasons against it: And let none be received from another Church or Parish, but either upon Communicatory Letters or Certificates, or else after a just discussion of the Cause with the Church or Teachers from whom they do withdraw.

6. And as it is agreeable to our several Principles, and the great thing that is now desired, that we may all correspond in Brotherly Associations, and have Synods at fit Seasons for the Communion of the Churches that are link'd toge­ther; let us there be Responsible (not as to our Governours, but as to Asso­ciated Brethren, and Churches), for our Actions that are of Publick offence, or of which we shall be there accused; and in particular for this, of taking Mem­bers out of other Churches, that the Cause may have an equal hearing.

[Page 49]7. Or if any of you shall refuse to meet in constant Synods, yet do this much at least: Let your Churches and ours be so far Consociate as to Own each other for true Churches, (though we take the Liberty to disown any no­table Distemper that we may see each other guilty of), and let Communica­tory Letters be necessary for any that be received from one Church to another, unless in special cases: And deny not to appear at least on such an extraordi­nary occasion at a Synod, to satisfie the Churches when you are accused.

8. And let us agree on such Rules for the peaceable management of our remaining Differences, as are necessary to the Security of the common Truths, and the common cause of Christianity and Piety which we own, that we hinder not God's Work, and harden not the Ungodly, and weaken not each others hands, and prove not at last the unwise Destroyers of the Church, and Be­trayers of the Gospel and our Liberties to the Enemies, by our obstinate Divi­sions and Contentions. If the worst be supposed of a resolved distance (which we dare not be so uncharitable as to suppose) we may yet expect an Agreement to such terms as are here after offered to the Anabaptists.

If yet it be insisted on by any, that [by holding Communion with us in Synods, and being there responsible for offences, you shall be proceeded against to a Non-Communion]: I further answer, 1. Will you choose a Non-Commu­nion to escape it? yea, to escape a possibility of it? And shall it be by your own act and guilt, lest it should be by other mens? 2. Again, I tell you, they can declare their avoiding your Communion whether you Associate or not: And will have the more occasion, when you wilfully divide and refuse to be responsible, than when you live among them as Brethren in Charitable Corre­spondencies and Communion, and walk in order. And there will be far more probability that things will be carried on against you in their Synods, in your absence, than in your presence, when you speak for your selves. 3. They will allow you in any of the ten fore-allowed Cases to take Members out of other Parishes and Churches, and also out of all those Parishes that have no tolerable Pastors, or where the People have any warrantable cause to depart; yea, in case the person will but remove his Habitation, they will not contend (though he do it causelesly.) (And surely the Publick Order and Peace of the Churches, is of greater moment than the Riches and worldly Accommodations of a parti­cular man: and therefore in most cases reason it self will tell us that it is fitter such incur some incommodity by removing their Habitations, than that the Church incurr dammage by their breaking Order, and crossing all the Scrip­ture Presidents, where men were ever Members of the Church that was in the Places where they lived, or next to them, and there none but Hereticks had Antichurches, or separated Assemblies). Moreover, if you do disorderly re­ceive any Members out of other Churches, the Brethren associated may by Evi­dence of Reason satisfie and reduce you; If they do not so, they will under­stand on what account you do it; and so if it be but on some tolerable Mi­stake or Infirmity, they will be satisfied in the disowning your Sin, without disowning your Communion. But if it be on an intolerable ground, and [Page 50] such as signifieth you to be uncapable of their Communion (as if you [...]hould cherish Heresie or Ungodliness, and cast out men for sound Belief and Piety), they can but in the extremity declare you uncapable of their Communion, and warn your People to take heed of you; and so they can do, whether you asso­ciate or not.

So that I may conclude, 1. That difference in Practice will necessitate a Toleration of Postors taking Members in certain cases, out of other Parishes.

2. But differences in any Principles between the several Parties will occasion none, if we could exactly practise our own Principles.

1. That difference in Practice will is evident: 1. Because it is impossible that all men of the same Parties should have the same degrees of Prudence, Moderation, Charity, Zeal, &c. which will make some to exclude abundance of persons that others of the same Party will admit. 2. Because if the Pastor should be moderate, he cannot promise that his Congregation will be so: And if they too rigorously refuse any Members, he is not able alone to retain them. 3. And if abundance of tolerable Christians be refused, there is no reason that for the rigour of others, they should wholly be deprived of the Communion of the Church, and the Ordinances of God. I easily foresee, that whoever was first guilty of it, it is the more Charitable Churches that will be put most upon the receiving of Members out of other Parishes: For the uncharitable will take perhaps an Hundred, and leave out and reject two Hundred of their Pa­rishioners that should be accepted: And then the next adjoyning Church cannot conscionably refuse their Entertainment.

But let us have these three Points at least agreed on, 1. That the Neighbour Pastors and Churches may be consulted with and heard, before such rejections be made, or at least afterward upon the Complaint of the rejected. 2. That those that are refused in one Parish, joyn with the Publick Church in the next, and that, without necessity, they do not either draw into private Churches, nor yet joyn themselves to publick Churches so distant, as are uncapable of holding such Communion with them as Church-ends require. 3. And that the Neighbour Pastors do not promiscuously receive all that are rejected by the Publick Pastor at home; but only such as upon just tryal are found fit.

Q. But what shall the people of the Parish do that are put upon such straits, as to joyn with another Parish far off, because they have a Minister at home that refuseth them (as possibly an Anabaptist that requireth them to be rebaptized, or an uncharitable rejecter of all except such as have voluble Tongues, &c.)

Answ. 1. He that is chosen to be the Pastor, is chosen to the Pastoral work, and therefore is trusted with the oversight and government of the Church: which must not be taken out of the Pastors hands, because of the Miscarriages of some. 2. But this must be prevented in the choice. Patrons must choose none but Prudent Pious men, that will not intolerably wrong the Church: And the Approvers must let no others in. But if Patrons or People choose such men, and the Approvers let them in, there's no Remedy, but shift for your [Page 51] selves, unless you can get them out again. 3. If therefore they be so grosly injurious, procure the Magistrates to punish such for maleadministration: For to them it doth belong: (Though it should be a very gross and proved abuse that must warrant them to punish the Pastors.) Let the Cause be heard, and the Commissioners have Power to remove them, if after warning they are un­curable. 4. And if the Magistrates will not do so, but keep them in, all that the Neighbour Churches can do, is to hear the Case, and if it be gross and in­tolerable, to disclaim Communion with them, and receive such Christians as the uncharitable do reject. This is all that can be done. But the best way is to be careful in the Choice. For it is an intolerable course that some are harp­ing on, that Pastors should not be trusted with Church Guidance and Admini­strations (that is, to do the work of Pastors), any further than Magistrates make them Rules, because they may possibly be too imprudent, or injurious to the People. Surely as long as the Patrons or People choose, and the Magi­strate Guards the Door, and also may punish or reject maleadministrators as the Cause requireth, there needs no more.

2. And that difference in Principles between the Parties as thus principled cannot be here a cause to break us, I shall further evince, when I have given you the Concessions of the Independent Brethren: which I shall do in Mr. Nor­ton's words Englished: Pag. 156, 157, &c. Cap. 16. [A Believer may law­fully adjoyn himself into the Communion of that Church, in which he cannot enjoy all God's Ordinances: or in which some Corruption is tolerated in God's Publick Worship without due Reformation; or when such are admitted to the participation of Sacraments, that give no evident signs or works of Repentance and Faith, but in many things hold forth the love of the World: and if he joyn himself to such a Church, he is not therefore involved in guilt, and defiled with the impurities of others; nor must he therefore depart, that is, separate from such a Church.—Schism is an unlawful Separation from the Communion of the Church: it's al­ways a great Sin.] This he proveth Pag. 158, &c. 1. In case of inculpable want of Ordinances: 2. Of culpable want by Negligence; 3. Of culpable want by refusal of God's Ordinances: saith he [In the Iewish Church God's Ordinances could not be enjoyed: for the Priests and Elders rejected, not only John, but the Doctrine and Baptism of John: and yet it was then lawful for men to joyn themselves to them, Matth. 21. 25. The Scribes rejected John's Baptism, Mark 11. 27. 31. and yet the Scribes sitting in Moses Chair are to be heard, Mat. 23. 2, 3. the hearing of whom, such as is meant in that place, importeth a Conjunction to the Iewish Church.

By comparing a Church that tolerateth the rejection of an Article of Faith, with a Church rejecting an Ordinance of God. A temporary rejection of an Ar­ticle of Faith tolerated in a Church is a greater evil, than the rejection of some Ordinance. In the Church of Corinth many denyed and derided the Resurrection of the Dead; and this Corruption is tolerated in the Church, and yet in the Re­formation of that Church, the Apostle doth neither presently forbid Union with the Church, nor Command Separation from the Church. In the Churches of [Page 52] Galatia the rejection of the Doctrine of Iustification by Faith was tolerated at least: there being such as judged that beside Faith, Moral and Ceremonial Works were necessary to Salvation: which other Doctrine he calls another Gospel, Gal. 1. 6. But this was a greater evil than not to have granted the Enjoyment of some Ordinance: and yet they did not therefore cease to be Churches.

And therefore it was yet lawful to be a Member in a Galatian, much more in the Corinthian Church, and consequently they were not bound under the guilt of Sin, to present Separation, but might with a good Conscience in their Station yet expect a Reformation: And why might not a man in the same hope with a safe Conscience adjoyn himself either to the Galatian Churches, or that at Corinth, even in that time of their Defection? especially if an opportunity of Communion with other Churches were shut up?

2. We say, that a Believer may lawfully adjoyn himself into the Communion of that Church in which some Corruption in God's Publick Worship, is tolerated without due Reformation.

The Children of Israel going a Whoring, Judg. 8. 27. after the Ephod set up by Gideon, was a tolerated Corruption of worship. The custom of Sacrificing in the high Places, from the days of Solomon, till the times of Hezekiah, was a tolerated Corruption in Publick Worship. The same is to be iudged of the Transla­tion of the Passover, to the following next Sabbath, lest they should feast on two days together. Which Translation appeareth in the Paschal Observation by Christ, different from the Iews Observation. The wrong Ministry of the Scribes and Pharisees sitting in Moses Chair, was such a corruption: for the Chair of Moses, that is, the office of publick teaching Moses Law, and the Books of the Prophets in the Church was by God's institution ordinarily proper to the Priests and Levites: yet Christ commandeth to hear them, but not to separate from them. To this may be added the observation of Circumcision and the Ceremonial Law after Christ's resurrection, and with an opinion of necessity to Salvation, Gal. 4. 21. 10. & 5. 2. But all these were corruptions in God's publick Worship tolerated without due Re­formation. And who in those times did judge either the Churches Union to be Not-lawful, or Non-separation to be unlawful? To one bears witness the Pious Practice of so many Proselites coming to the Church, and of the Church receiving them: to the other, the very state of the Godly remaining in the Church.

By comparing the Corruption in an Article of Faith, with Corruption in Pub­lick Worship, &c.] Here he repeateth the Argument forecited, adding [P. 161. It is the Duty of every Believer to adjoyn himself to some Church: By adjoyning our selves to the Church, we adjoyn not our selves to the impurities of the Church. A believer joyning himself to a Church not pure, specially when he cannot enjoy a purer, sinneth not. The sin of the Church exempteth not a Believer from Duty, which may be performed without sin or grievous incommodity. As some corrup­tion of the Communicants must not drive away from the Supper, a Believer pre­pared worthily to Eat. So neither must some corruption in the Church drive away the faithful from Union with that Church.

[Page 53]3. Believers may joyn themselves lawfully into the Communion of that Church, in which such are admitted to partake of the Sacraments, that hold forth no evident Signs or Works of Repentance and Faith, but shew in many things the love of the World.

1. Whatever others do, it is the Duty of every Member at Age, to examine themselves, and so to eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cup. 2. The Sin of one cannot deprive another Brother (that communicateth not in his Sin) of his Be­nefit, much less absolve him from his Duty. 3. If trying our selves and coming worthily as much as in us lyeth, we do in our Places endeavour by lawful means that the old leaven may be purged out, and we may be a new lump; the Commu­nion is not defiled by other mens coming unworthily, though our comfort be dimi­nished.—The Church of Corinth was not pure in Worship: Women spake, that is, taught in the Church. It was corrupt in Doctrine, many denied the Resurre­ction of the Dead. Most corrupt in Manners; when besides Fornication, Sects, and many other Vices, some also shewed the love of the World, whence strifes be­fore Heathen Iudges about corporal things. Yet the Apostle commands not the prepared to abstain from the Supper; but he correcteth the abuses about the Sup­per, commanding every man to examine himself, and so to eat.] So he proceeds to other Proofs from the Church at Jerusalem [where holy things were administred by Priests that were stark naught, and very many arrant Knaves were present; and yet Christ and his Apostles go into the same Temple for the Publick exercises of Religion: they use the same Worship with the rest of the people; neither the desperate ungodliness of the Pharisees, nor the dissolute licentiousness of the rest of the peoples lives, could drive them from Communion with the rest of the people in holy things: And why? Because the Lord and the Apostles well knew that the Consciences of the Godly are not defiled with the Society of the wicked; if with a pure Conscience they Communicate in the same holy things.]

Next he proveth the 4th Branch, that he that joyneth to such a Church, doth not therefore Sin, nor is defiled with other mens Impurities, p. 163▪ 164.

Then p. 164, 165. he pr [...] the 5th Branch [that a Believer that hath joyned himself to such a Church, must not therefore depart, that i [...]s separate from such a Church, and that under this danger of guilt] but it is too long to recite all. It is not men of such Principle [...] and Practices as these that we account Separa­tists! What do Presbyterians say more than this eminent Independent Brother, in a Writing purposely written in Latin by the perswasion of others in New England, to Vindicate their Churches against Apollonius, and commended to us by Mr. T. Goodwin, Mr. P. Nye, and Mr. S. Simpson. Yet lest any think him too loose, I will add his last leaf of Rules [How in a less pure Church Communion must be continued with a safe Conscience? Answ. 1. We must still aim and endeavour according to: our Places, that the Church may be purifie [...] according to Christ's Mind. Not without seasonable and due warning the Church of its Defects. The Defects are to be lamented with holy sighs and sorrows. In no way approving, but prudently and patiently tolerating Defects in that Church, which we c [...]n neither cure, nor depart from without a greater Evil.—When sin­gular [...] [Page 52] [...] [Page 53] [Page 54] Evils, cannot be cured without a greater publick Evil; that must be born which cannot be amended.

In the Churches Reformation this Doctrine must be observed (Paraeus in Matth. 13.) that those that press for too much exactness (or strictness) do more hurt the Church, than profit it.

The Spirit of our Lord Iesus Christ is a Spirit of Truth, Peace and Commu­nion; so loving Peace, that he commandeth Communion with a true Church though impure: and so loving Truth, that he forbiddeth impurity in every Church.

We reject the Separatists, that distinguish not between a Church and the Im­purities of a Church. Schism is a grievous Crime.

We reject the Formalists not sufficiently distinguishing a Church from no Church, not separating the pretious from the vile: what is this but Confusion?

Confusion and Schism are the Scylla and Charybdis: Peace and Truth are the Jachin and Boaz of the Christian Cause: the obtaining of which must be endea­voured under him, and implored and expected from him, who is Peace, Way, and Truth, alone able; among so many and (alas) too hot Contentions, and differ­ing opinions of the Learned and Godly, to reach us the mete-wand, and direct his Servants into Concord, and into the perfect measure of the Temple, Altar and Worshippers: Preserving us Men, Brethren, searching after truth in Love, both from the left hand of Confusion, and the right hand of Separation.] So far Mr. Norton, and so ends his Book.

And thus I have shewed the Nearness of both Parties; and easiness of Re­conciliation, as to their Principles, and that there is nothing among them, owned by either Party, that should hinder a loving Consociation, Correspondency and Communion of the Churches, for their mutual strengthening, and the healing of the Mischiefs that Divisions, Emulations, and Contentions have long caused among us.

Nothing remains then to be feared, but lest mens Minds are further distant than their Principles, and that Charity doth not effectually dispose them to Agree in Communion as far as their professed Principles will permit them. But, though Experience make this undeniable, yet their Piety and their Professions do put us in hope, that there are such Habitual Principles of Charity, as better Encouragements and Opportunities will undoubtedly revive, to our Recon­ciliation.

The Congregational men profess their desire of Reconciliation. Read but Mr. Cotton's Preface to Mr. Norton; and Mr. Norton's Epistle to Apollonius: But especially the Practice of such moderate men as Mr. Firmin, and divers that of late hence Associated with the Presbyterians, doth give us a more certain Demonstration of their readiness for Peace. And if many are otherwise minded, it should be no prejudice to the peaceable.

And for the Presbyterians readiness to the Works of Peace, besides the many motions that they have made, and the joyning of some in Associations with their Brethren, I shall now add but the affectionate Profession, which they make of their desire of Reconcilement both with the Congregational, and Mo­derate [Page 55] Episcopal Party, in the Epistle to their Ius Divinum Minist. 1. Con­cerning them of the Congregational way, they say [That this disagreement shall not hinder us from any Christian accord with them in affection. That we can willingly write upon our Study Doors, that Motto which Mr. Jeremiah Bur­roughes (who a little before his Death did ambitiously endeavour after Union, amongst Brethren, as some of us can testifie) perswades all Scholars unto. Opi­nionum varietas, & opinantium Unitas, non sunt [...]. And that we shall be willing to entertain any sincere motion (as we have also formerly declared in cur Printed Vindication) that shall further a happy accommodation between us.

Then speaking of the Godly moderate Episcopal men, they add [Though herein we differ from them, yet we are far from thinking that this Difference should hinder a happy Union between them and us. Nay, we crave leave to profess to the World, that it will never (as we humbly conceive) be well with England till there be an Union endeavoured, and effected between all those that are Orthodox in Doctrine, though differing among themselves in some Circum­stances about Church Government. And the Lord hath strangely made way for this long desired Union, by the bitter, woful and unutterable fruits of our Divi­sions, which have almost destroyed, not only the Ministry, but even the very heart and life of Religion and Godliness.] Read there the rest.

You see then that we are all resolv'd for Peace and Concord; and devoted to it, and intent upon it: And you see how small a matter will do it: yea, that it is done already, except the actual execution of our Doctrinal Agree­ments. What then is wanting, but that we be up and doing, and practice as we profess, and that Magistrates, and especially the Protector and Parliament now Assembled, that have so fair an opportunity, and from whom it is commonly expected, do call them to the work, and help to remove the hinderances, and further them by the Countenance and Assistance of their Authority.

The Sum of our Agreement reduced to Practice.

1. WE are Agreed that Adult Church Members, must be such as make [A Credible Profession] of Faith and Repentance, and so of Holy Resolved Obedience: Or such as personally own and accept the Covenant of Grace, and give up themselves to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Let us therefore take up with this Description in our future Agreements; and in the practice, the Prudent, and Charitable will not presume to censure any Mans Profession as Incredible, coram Ecclesiâ without proof.

Let us therefore unanimously set up Confirmation, or (if you dislike the Name) the Tryal and Approbation of the Profession of all that are entered a­mong the Adult Church Members. And if any are too loose on one side, or too rigid on the other in the practical part; the judging, and accepting or re­fusing of the tryed, let the Matter be debated, at the Synods of the Consociate Pastors, if there be any Accusatio [...] put in.

[Page 56]2. We are Agreed that Consent is necessary to Church-Membership: And that it must be a signified consent: And that the most express consent is best to the well being of the Church caeteris paribus; but yet that a darker way of signifying may serve to the Being of the Church.

Let us therefore thank God that we live in days of Liberty, wherein we may all use the most edifying way, and accordingly let us Agree to call our people to an express consent. But if any deny this, let them not be thereupon disowned, but forborn, so be it they will perform the whole work of their Ministry faithfully towards all that they take for their Charge.

3. We are Agreed that it's lawful for a particular Church to consist of no more than can meet in one place: And yet that it is not necessary to its Being that actually they do all meet in a place.

Let us therefore resolve to confine our particular Churches ordinarily to a Parish: Unless it be where Parishes are so small, or fit persons so few, that it is fit to lay divers of them together, as to Church ends. Yet so that if any refuse this Agreement, and will needs take four or five Parishes for distinct worshipping Churches, and yet but one Governing Church, (in the Officers) we bear with them, and allow them the liberty of their way, so be it they will faithfully perform the work both of Worship and Discipline to them all.

4. We are Agreed that it is lawful and meet that Neighbour Pastors be ad­visers and helpers in the Ordinations of Presbyters; and yet that they are tru­ly Presbyters if they be Ordained but by the Presbyters of a particular Church. (And in cases of Necessity, if unordained.)

Let us therefore Agree in practice that Ordinations be ordinarily performed by the Advice and Assistance of the Synod of the Associated Pastors, or some deputed Members of it. (The case of Ordination by Bishops I handle else­where, and not here.) And if any refuse this, let them be forborn, so be it they be Ordained by Lawful Presbyters, of their own Church or any other with whom we be not bound to avoid Communion.

And if any Congregation through Error have no true Officers (in the judg­ment of the Synod) for want of true Ordination, yet let us hold such Com­munion with that Congregation (if other things correspond) as is due to a Neighbour Community of Christians, though not as is due to a Political So­ciety.

5. We are Agreed that the Pastors are by Commission from Christ appoin­ted to be the Rulors of the Churches, and the people commanded to obey them: And that it is they that are the Authorized Teachers of the Flocks, and are to Administer the Sacraments, and Ministerially to bind or loose: And yet that the people are to be Governed as Freemen, and are not to obey appa­rently unrighteous censures, and therefore are by an Obediential Judgment, to discern what is fit to be obeyed, and what not.

Let us therefore practise according to this Agreement; and let the Pastors Rule, and let the people Obey; but not Obey against Gods Word: And therefore let the people have so far cognizance of the Cause, and their conse [Page 57] be required, as is necessary to their free, discerning, safe Obedience, and to the Churches Peace. And if any Pastors will make more use of the peoples con­sent, and others less, let us forbear each other, till some ill consequents pro­duce an accusation at the Synod; and then let the case be heard and judg'd.

6. We are Agreed that a Pastor of one Church may Exercise divers acts of the Pastoral Office in another if he be called to such Exercise pro tempore. We need not therefore mention this in our further Forms of Concord; but leave each Man to his Liberty. If any Pastor think he may not Exercise his Pastoral Office abroad, let him stay at home: But let them have Liberty that are other­wise minded.

7. We are Agreed that a particular Church that hath a Presbytery, may Exercise all Acts of Worship and Government within it self, that are apper­taining only to it self. And that Synods should be used for Communion of Churches, where things that concern the Churches in common, or their Com­munion with one another, should be heard and judged.

Let us therefore give way to particular Churches to enjoy their Liberty; and let all the Churches be link'd together, and the Pastors associate, and meet in Synods for such Communion. Yet so that if any one in weakness shall re­fuse to Associate, or be an Ordinary Member of such Synods, (being caetera sanus) we shall not therefore withdraw our Brotherly Love, nor that distant sort of Communion of which he is capable: Though we must disown his way, lest others be tempted to the like Division.

8. We are Agreed that no Men should bury their Talents, and that the Gifts of our people that are suited to the profiting of others, should be used to as publick benefit as may be, so it be orderly, regularly, in their Callings, in a due subordination to the Ministry, and under their direction, for the help­ing and not the hindering of their Work (according to the forementioned li­mitations.)

There is no Difference therefore among us here that is needful to be taken notice of in our Form of Concord, it being between particular persons, and not parties that the difference lyeth. And actual miscarriages are to be en­quired after as other Crimes in the several Churches and Associations.

9. We are Agreed that all Parishes that have in them a people professing Christianity, and consent to live as particular Churches in Communion for Gods Worship, are true Churches, as that word doth signifie a Community of Christians: And if they have true Pastors, they are true Churches, as the word [Church] doth signifie a Political Society of Christians, capable of the or­dinary actual worshipping of God in the publick use of all Church Ordinances.

But because it is not to be expected that we should all be acquainted with the qualifications, consent or practice of the people in all the Parishes of the Land, nor of the Ministers call; it is not therefore to be expected that we be made Judges of the state of all Parishes, nor that we put our judgment of all, or any of them by Name, into our Form of Concord. But if practically any of us shall either slander any particular Church to be No Church, or shall use [Page 58] it as no Church, the case must be heard and judged of in our Churches and Associations.

10. We are Agreed that no Member should forsake a Church and be re­ceived into another, without sufficient Reason to be given to the Church that he forsaketh; if they require it: And that much less should any part of a Church make an unnecessary Separation from the rest, and become a distinct Church by themselves: And we are Agreed that private Antichurches, (I mean, separated Assemblies set up against the publick Assemblies, and as Ri­vals drawing persons to themselves and keeping up Faction, and Contention in the place) should be carefully avoided by us all; unless there were a certain Necessity of such Separations. We are Agreed also that no publick Pastors or Churches should refuse the Communion of any of their Neighbours, that are [Credible Professors of Faith and Repentance, and Holiness of Life;] much less should they cast off the greatest part of their Parishes that are such! And yet we are Agreed that there are several cases in which Persons may withdraw from Churches; or for those of one Parish to join with a Church in another Parish; though the bounds of our Habitations are usually meet to be observed for the bounding of our Churches (not that all in the Parish be therefore of the Church, but that ordinarily none be of the Church that is not in the Parish.)

Let us therefore put only the necessary Generals into the Form of our Agree­ment, and leave the particular cases of any that shall be accused of any viola­lation thereof, to be heard at the Synods of the Associations: Where if the Ac­cused will appear, they may have a Brotherly hearing; if not, the case may be judged according to the Evidence that shall be given in▪ and the Associated Brethren proceed accordingly, in admonishing the Offenders, and holding or not holding Communion with them, and declaring this.

The yet Briefer Sum of our Agreement is, 1. To avoid Unnecessary Separa­tions and Contentions. 2. To hold an Ordinary course in Synods, for the Communion of Churches, and strengthning each other for the work of God.

For the attainment of these we must yield as far as Lawfully we may in lesser things: But to deny us these, viz. Union, and Communion, and Peace, is to­deny us our end, and all.

Yet Note, that it is not our Intention to impose upon all others, all points that these two parties are agreed in, nor to put all their Agreements into our Form of Concord, as if we regarded Agreement with no others. For instance, both parties are Agreed of the Divine Institution of meer Ruling Elders: But so are not all others that are fit for their Communion. And therefore let that point be left out, to the liberty of each Church. So both parties are Agreed that the Moderators (or Presidents) of the Associated Synods, should rather (in point of convenience at least) be temporary, than stated, and that they should have no Negative Voice in Ordination. But others that are fit for our Communion think otherwise: And therefore let this be left out of the Form of [Page 59] Concord to our Brethrens Liberty. If they will hold Communion in the Asso­ciations that have but temporary Presidents, let them be received: And if those that own not stated Presidents, or at least such as Exercise a Negative Voice in Ordination; will yet hold Communion in Synods (with a significa­tion of their dissent in that point) with them that are of a contrary mind, they are to be received; and will be, by such as more regard the honour of God, and the Churches peace, and the Interest of Christian Charity, Piety and common Truths, than their own conceits, and carnal Interests.

I shall therefore next adjoin the Necessary Terms of an Universal Concord between all the Faithful Pastors and Churches of Christ in these Nations, which yet need not be subscribed, but taken as presupposed; there being in the following Form of Concord, for the General Peace and Communion of the Churches, enough for Subscription, or Express Consent.

Church Concord ABOUT …

Church Concord ABOUT Government and Order.

The Second Part.

The Just Terms of Agreement between all Sober, Se­rious Christians (by what Names soever now di­stinguished:) In point, 1. Of Catholick Commu­nion. 2. Of particular Church Communion. 3. Of the Communion of Neighbour Churches; 4. And of Churches of several Kingdoms. 5. And of their Duty as good Subjects to their Prince.

Humbly offered to all the Christian Churches as the true and suffi­cient remedy of their Divisions, if not rejected or neglected: And as a standing Witness before God and Man, against Di­viding Zeal and Church Tyranny.

By RICHARD BAXTER, a Servant of the God of Love and Peace.

We that are strong, ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please our selves: Let every one of us please his Neighbour for his good to edi­fication—That ye may with One Mind, and One Mouth glorifie God—Wherefore receive ye one another as Christ also received us to the Glory of God, Rom. 15. 1, 2, 6, 7.
Be of One Mind, Live in Peace, and the God of Love and Peace shall be with you, 2 Cor. 13. 11.

LONDON, Printed for Tho. Parkhurst at the Bible and Three Crowns in Cheapside near Mercers Chapel. 1691.

To the READER.

Countreymen,

MY Saviour having made me Believe, that every Kingdom di­vided against it self is brought to desolation, Mat. 12. 25. I shall the less regard the Ministers of Satan, who will say that such attempts to unite the true Subjects of Christ and the King, is a dangerous Plot to strengthen Rebels against the King, by their Uni­on. If such Fiends should do their will upon me, as Faith is but a means to the final perfective Grace of Love, so I shall as much re­joice, to be a Sacrifice or Martyr, for Christian Love, as for the Christian Faith: And if Peacemakers shall be called the Children of God (by those that are his Children at least,) I am contented with that blessedness, (Mat. 5. 9.) and envy not their kind of Ho­nour or Prosperity.

If this attempt shall speed no better, than many which I have for­merly made have done, as to any publick Reconciliation I shall not yet think it vain, while the private minds of many Christians are formed into more peaceable Apprehensions and Dispositions. But if it should succeed for any publick or common healing, how great would be my Ioy? While the Conciliatory Writings and Precious Names, of Usher▪ Hall, Davenant, Dury, Bergius, Burroughs, &c. are so sweet to me; Let Envy gnash the Te [...]th, and dividing Malice do its worst, I hope in this delightful work to live and die.

One thing I must warn the Reader of, that I have omitted Scrip­ture proofs of my Assertions, because they are self-evident or past Controversie, and because that the proofs which are fetcht from two or three Texts compared, will not be understood, by the usual sleighty Readings of such, as expect the very Syllables: of the Assertions in the proofs. Therefore for brevity I take it to be the better way, [...] this time to offer here a full sufficient proof of any one of these As­sertions, which shall be questioned, to such as shall soberly demand it.

A Servant of Christ for his Churches Unity and Peace, Richard Baxter.

Q. SEeing you have oft affirmed publickly that the Terms of Concord among Christians are easie to be known, if their unwillingness to practise them were not the hinderance, you are desired to answer these Questions following.

  • 1. What are the necessary Terms of Catholick Communion of Christians as Members of the Church Universal?
  • 2. What are the necessary Terms of the Communion of Christians perso­nally, in a particular Church?
  • 3. What are the Terms on which Neighbour Churches may hold Com­munion with one another?
  • 4. What are the Terms of Communion between the Churches of several Kingdoms?
  • 5. What is the Magistrates Power and Duty about Religion, and the Churches and Ministers of Christ?

I. It is to be understood that the Universal Church is considered as Spiritual or as Visible: As Spiritual, it is the Universality of true Spiritual or Regenerate Believers, as Headed by Jesus Christ. As Visible, it is the Universality of the Baptized, or Professors of true Faith, as Headed by Christ, (the Author and Object of that Faith.) And accordingly Christians are to be distinguished. And that the Question is of the Visible Church and Christians.

2. This being supposed I answer, that Catholick Visible Communion con­sisteth, 1. Fundamentally, in being all Baptized or entered into the same Co­venant of Grace, with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and so being joyned to the same Head, and entered into the same Universal Body, and professing the same Faith, and Love, and Obedience contained in that Cove­nant, and not falling away from that Profession, or any Essential part thereof.

2. And consequently that we all acknowledge the extraordinary Ministry of the Prophets and Apostles, and receive their Testimony and Doctrine recorded in the Sacred Scriptures: At least the foresaid Essentials of the Covenant; and so much more as we understand, and are convinced to be Canonical Scriptures, or written by the Inspiration of the Holy Ghost.

3. And also that we acknowledge a stated ordinary Ministry in the Church, appointed by Christ to Disciple and Baptize the Nations of the World, and then to teach them to observe all his Commands. And that we profess our wil­lingness to join in Christian Assemblies under the conduct of such Ministers, for the worshipping of God, and furthering our own and others Salvation; if we have opportunity so to do: And that we do accordingly.

II. Q. 1. We speak only of Visible Christians in this second Question also (of Church Communion.)

2. [A Particular Church] signifieth either, 1. A Community of Christians [Page 63] agreed to live under Pastora [...] Guidance, before they have a Pastor, or have practised that agreement. This is not the Church here mean [...]. 2. Or a Politi­cal Society of Christian Pastor and People professedly associated for Personal Commu­nion, Exercise of these Relations as such in the publick worshipping of God, and for the furtherance of Love and Obedience in each other.

The Ends difference it from all Civil Societies of Christians; and from the associations of many Churches for Communion by delegates.

The necessary Terms of this Church Communion are these.

1. The Pastor (whether one or more) must have all things essential to his Office. 1. As to his Qualifications, that is, 1. That he understand at least the Essential Points of Christianity and Church Communion. 2. That he be able to teach them to others in some competent degree. 3. That he be willing to do it; and this for Gods Honour, the Churches Good, and Mens Salvation. 2. As to his Call, that he have a true notification of the will of God, that he should undertake this Office; which is ordinarily done. 1. By the Ordination, (that is, the Approbation and Investiture) of Bishops or Pastors. 2. And (in this case of his relation to a particular Church) by the peoples consent: All this in truth is needful before God, and in Appearance and Profession before the Church.

2. The People must be Baptized persons, Sacramentally engaged into Cove­nant with God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and such as have not pro­fessedly deserted that Covenant by Apostasie; nor are proved before a lawful Judicature to be deserters of any Essential part thereof. (Whether open pro­fessed Covenanting may not serve without Baptism in cases of Necessity, where Baptism cannot be had, is a case so extraordinary that we need not here meddle with it.)

3. He that was Baptized in Infancy, and yet having opportunity at full age doth make no Profession of Christianity, nor own his Baptismal Covenant openly by word or deed, is to be numbered with Deserters.

4. Though the most plain and open profession is usually best, where it may be [...]ad; yet a profession less explicite may serve to the being of Church-members; such as is their actual joyning with those Churches, who purposely assemble to make publick profession of the Christian Religion (Faith, Love and Obe­dience.)

5. There must be also a signification of consent to their particular Church-Relation: either more express and plain, or at least by such actions which may be reasonably presumed to signifie it. (As ordinary joining in Church-worship with that particular Church, and submitting to the necessary guidance of the Pastors.)

6. He that thus consenteth to his Relation to the Pastor and that Church, is a Member, though he consent not to the Membership or Presence of many particular Members thereof: Because they are but Integral and not Essential parts of the Church.

7. But if a usual mixture (in the Assemblies) of Hereticks or Strangers which are not Members of that Church, or any other confounding cause do give the Pastors sufficient reason to call all or part of the people to an express signification [Page 64] of their consent to their Relation, to put it out of doubt; they that causelesly refuse such signification, do seem to deny their consent, and allow the Pastor and Church to judge of them accordingly.

8. The office of the Bishops or Pastors is subordinate to the Teaching, and Interceeding and Ruling office of Christ; And their work is to Teach the peo­ple the Word of God; to be their Mouth and Guide in publick Worship, in Prayer, and in Thanksgiving and Praise to God, and to administer his holy Sacraments, and to exercise that Power of the Keys which Christ hath com­mitted to their trust, in the Prudent and cautelous use of Church-Discipline: And all this according to the Laws of Christ, recorded in the holy Scriptures. These therefore must be the Works and Ends, for which these Churches must (professedly) assemble: Especially on the Lord's Days, which are separated to these holy Uses.

9. The General Command (in Nature and Scripture) that all be done to Edification, decently and in order, do require the Church with Prudence to de­termine of such undetermined Circumstances, Modes and Orders, as fall un­der those Generals: As what Translation of the Scriptures to use; what Metre of the Psalms; what Tunes; whether to divide the Scriptures into Chapters and Verses; what Chapters to read; what Psalms to Sing, and when and how many: what particular Method to use in Preaching; and what words: what helps for Memory? whether written Notes? in length or briefly? At what Hour to begin: How long to Preach and Pray: In what words to Pray. In what decent habit, and in what gesture to Preach or Sing God's Praises, &c. what Utensils to use, as Pulpit, Font, Table, Cloth, Cups, &c. In what Place, &c. In all which the Pastors are the Guides by Office, and in many the Agents: And it is no sinful Will-worship or adding to the Word of God, to determine in such cases: And they that will not stand to such Determinations cannot be Members of their Flocks: As if any will not meet at that time, or place where the Church doth meet, or will not use the same Psalms, or Tran­slations, or hear the Pastor in such a Method, or with such Notes, &c. he there­by refuseth the Communion of that Church; which must have some determi­nate time and place, &c. But yet the Pastors Power being for Edification, and not for Destruction, he must take the Peoples consent in all, so far as the Churches good requireth it, to their Edification and Peace, and guide them as a Father by Love, and in Humility as the Servant of all, and not as Lord­ing it over the Flock: And if his Determination should be so perverse as to be destructive of the Church or of the Worship of God, the people must seek the due Remedy (of which more anon).

10. As the Keys of the Church are committed by Christ to the Pastors, for intromission, Guidance and Sentential Excommunication, that is, for the Government of the Church; so the People must not usurp any part of their of­fice: They are not obliged to try the Faith or Holiness of such as are to be Baptized, or such as are to be received into their Publick Communion; but may rest in the Pastors Judgment, whose office it is to try them: supposing still [Page 65] that they have their due remedy, in case of corrupting or destructive Male▪administration. And that their needful assistance in their Places should be used.

11. If any Member of the Church do live in any Heresie or other great Sin, contrary to his Covenant with God, those who are acquainted with it, must admonish him and seek to bring him to Repentance, in the order appointed by Christ; And if he repent not, they must tell the Church; And if being duely admonished by the Pastors, he yet repent not, the Pastors as the Church Guides, must pronounce him unfit for the Commu­nion of the Church, and require him to forbear it, and the people to avoid him; which the people must obey. Yet so, as that if the people have sufficient cause to doubt whether a censure be not contrary to the Word of God, they may enquire into the cause; And if they find it contrary indeed, they must not exe­cute that Sentence, by any of those private Acts of alienation, which are in their own Power: And they may seek due reparation of the publick breach.

12. If one Pastor of a Church where there are many do perniciously and nota­bly corrupt the Faith or the Worship, or the Discipline of the Church, the other Pastors must admonish him, and both they and the people disown him, if after a first and second Admonition, he repent not. And the same must the people do by all the Pastors, if all be guilty in the same kind; and must trust their Souls with more faithful Pastors. But this must not be done mistakingly, headily or rashly, nor as an Act of Government over the Pastors or the Church; but as an Act of Obedience to God, for the preservation of their Souls, and of the inte­rest of Christ: Nor must it be done without such consultation with, and assistance of the Neighbour Churches, or the Magistrates, as their case shall make neces­sary or profitable to their right Ends. Nor by a violation of any lawful Or­ders of the Magistrates.

13. If a Pastor preach some unsound Doctrines, or faultily perform the publick Worship, or neglect just Discipline, and receive the unworthy to the Commu­nion of the Church, or reject the worthy, the presence of the innocent Mem­bers, (who make not the fault their own by consent, or by neglecting their Duties to reform it) maketh none of this to be their Sin, nor is to be taken for a sign of their consent: Nor will the presence of the unworthy deprive the Godly of the Blessing or Comfort of God's Ordinance: Nor are they bound to separate from that Church, because of these Corruptions, unless they are so great as to unchurch that Church, or make their Worship and Communion such, as God himself rejecteth and will not accept: or unless by imposing Sin upon them, or some other way, the Church expel them; or they have accidentally some other reason to remove.

14. The Members of the same Church must live so near to one another, as that they may be capable of the Communion and Duties of their relation. But whether Parish-bounds shall be Church-bounds, and whether there shall be one Church only, or more in the same Parish, is a thing which God hath not directly determined, but only by general Rules to direct our Prudence, as cases are by Circumstances varied.

[Page 66]Where the Magistrates Laws thus bound the Churches, and the convenien­ces of Numbers, Maintenance, Place, and common Expectation require it; And where it is commonly taken for scandalous Disobedience, or Disorder or Schism, to do otherwise, Prudence forbiddeth us to violate these Bounds and Orders, without true necessity. Not taking all for Church-Members who are Parishio­ners, but taking none but Parishioners into that Church, nor setting up other Churches in that Parish. But when there are no such Laws and Reasons for it, and where there are plainly greater Reasons or necessity to do otherwise; we should not make such a Law to our selves.

15. When true sound Churches are first settled, all unneoessary and causeless Separation from them, or setting up of new Churches in the same Towns or Pa­rishes, by way of disclaiming them, or in opposition to them, should be avoided by all Christians. Because, 1. We find not in Scripture times, that any one City had many such Churches, approved of God: (The numbers of Chri­stians being but enow for one). 2. Because it taketh up more Ministers than the interest of the Universal Church can allow to so few. 3. Because it pro­ceedeth from a sinful want of Love and Unity; and tendeth to the further de­crease of both: Long and sad Experlence having shewed, that each of those Churches think it to be their Duty to stablish their several perswasions, and op­pose the contrary; whereby they are carried as for the interest of the truth, to make their Adversaries be thought to be ignorant, erroneous, or bad, and so to make one another seem less amiable; to the ruine of Love and the division and danger of the Churches. And because Love and Unity are so frequently and vehemently pressed in the Scriptures: and Divisions or Schism so much forbidden.

16. All these are sinful Schismatical Separations, but in very different de­grees. 1. When the interest of some Heresie, or lesser Errour, and the dis­claiming of some truth, doth cause men to separate. 2. When they slander a true Ministry as no true Ministry, and so separate. 3. When they slander a true Church as no true Church. 4. When they separate because they accuse true worship to be Idolatry, or lawful worship to be unlawful. 5. When they falsly accuse the Churches Faith, Worship or Order to be defective, and to want some necessary part (As the Papists do by the Protestants, who take up with the Scripture-Religion alone.) 6. When they accuse some tolerable failing in the Church, to be intolerable, and such as maketh their Communion unlawful. 7. When they separate from the Church because of the Holiness and Strictness of its Doctrine and just Discipline, which crosseth them in their Sin; or because they hate the Purity of its Worship and Obedience. 8. When they separate because that they have not a part in the Government of the Church themselves, in receiving Members, or censuring them; or because they may not be Tea­chers of the Church, or otherwise invade the Pastoral Office. 9. When Pride or Coveteousness maketh them separate, through personal distaste at the Pastors or any Members, for want of respect or honour, or gain, or upon supposed in­juries. 10. When the Minor part separate, because they have not their own will against the Major part, in the choice of Ministers, or in other Church-Affairs, [Page 67] in which they have just cause to acquiesce. 11. When they over-value their own Conceits and doubtful Opinions, and their own indifferent Modes or words of Circumstances of Worship or Order, so that they think it needful to separate to enjoy them. 12. When they expect that the Pastors should Excommunicate, or deny the Communion of the Church, to such as they account unfit, without any accusation and proof, or true Church-justice; And do separate from the Communion where such are received; as unlawful for themselves. 13. When they separate upon this false Supposition, that their presence maketh them guilty as Consenters, of all the Ministers Errours in the Doctrine or Method or words of his Preaching, Praying or other Administrations. 14. When they separate because the Church will not forbear the Singing of David's Psalms, the Bapti­zing of Infants, or some other such part or order of God's Worship. 15. When they separate because they will not consent to the lawful Circumstances of Time, Place, Translation, Metre, Tunes, Utensils, or Methods which the Church doth use. These all are unlawful Separations. But the great aggravations are, when they separate to set up Heretical Doctrine, and Teachers, or false Church-Orders and Worship corrupted in the Essentials; or to promote ungodliness, or to rail at others from whom they separate, and to cherish Divisions to the injury of the common Christian Cause.

17. These following are lawful Causes of Separation. 1. When the Pastors are really no Ministers of Christ, but uncapable, or uncalled Usurpers, or Hereticks or Infidels; or open Enemies to Piety, who do more harm than good, and set themselves to destroy the Church of God, and the ends of their Ministry 2. When the Church maketh not Profession of the Christian Faith, or are not baptized or visible Christians. 3. When the worship of the Church is Idolatry, or such for the Substance as God will not accept, nor it is not lawful to joyn in. 4. When the Church renounceth, or omitteth any Ordinance of God, which the whole Church must ordinarily perform, and which all things considered, it is not lawful to omit. 5. When (after due admonition) the Church is turned into a Theatre of Contention, and a School of Malignity and reviling the Brethren, and of de­stroying Christian Love to others; or of promoting Schism to the intolerable wrong of the people, and of others, and of the Cause and Churches of Christ. 6. When (after due Admonition and Patience) the Church so far renounceth Discipline, as openly to own and justifie such wickedness or heinous Sins, as are inconsistent with the true Profession of Christianity and Godliness.

18. And if the unsoundness, badness or weakness of the Pastors, and the faul­tiness of the Worship, Order or Discipline, be not so great as to make Commu­nion with the Church sunply unlawful; yet any free man whose Edification is greatly hindered by it, and can elsewhere have far greater helps for his Salvation, and joyn with a Church which walketh more conformably to the Christian Rule, may lawfully remove himself to such a Ministry and Church; when it is not to the greater hurt of others, than his own good. Especially such whose ignorance, weakness and deadness, maketh a lively and convincing Ministry more needful to their safety and welfare, than it is to others: For it is a Sin, Caeteris paribus, [Page 68] to prefer the worse before the better; and a sin to neglect the best means for our Souls which we can lawfully enjoy: And the Soul is more precious than to be hazarded or left in sin and darkness for an unnecessary Circumstance.

Nor is it any sinful Separation, or Disorder, for the Members of one Church to communicate occasionally with other Churches of Christ; seeing our relati­on to the Universal Church is more strict and inviolable than to any particular Church as such.

Also in case of removal of our Habitations, or change of our Family Relati­ons, or other the like Reasons, it is lawful to remove from one Church to ano­ther (without any unjust censuring of that which we remove from:) And if the first Church will not consent (after due means for their satisfaction) we may remove without their consent.

19. He that is denied Communion with the Church, unless he will speak or subscribe some falshood, or take any false Oath, or make any unlawful promise, or commit any other sin, is sinfully cast out or repulsed by the Imposer, and is not guilty of Schism or sinful Separation, by denying to commit such imposed sin.

And he that only removeth from the place of meeting, with the Pastor and Church when they remove, and doth not withdraw from the Church it self; or that adhereth to his lawful Pastor and part of the Church, when the rest of the Church adhere to an Usurper, is not to be judged guilty of Schism; for such avoiding of Schism.

20. The principal care for the avoiding of Schism, and for maintaining Uni­ty and Love, is incumbent on the Pastors of the Church; whose first work must be to preserve this Love and Unity in their particular Churches, to prevent withdrawing into separating Churches. To which end, their first care must be to give no just cause, by corrupting of Doctrine, Worship or Discipline, to any to withdraw; and not to impose any unnecessary thing as necessary to Commu­nion; but to unite in things necessary, and to give liberty in things unnecessary▪ (A means approved in all Ages by Peacemakers:) And to guide the Church by the paternal Government of Reason and Love, and not by Tyranny to make themselves hateful: And to be much in preaching Love and Concord, that the people may know the sin and danger of Factions and Divisions; and to avoid all Factiousness and Contentiousness themselves. And their next care must be to labour after a laudable (if they cannot reach an eminent) degree, of ability in teaching, and exemplariness in a holy and charitable Life, that they may win the esteem and love of the Flock, and may give them no occasion to think that the necessity of their Souls, requireth them to seek for better helps.

But if differing (though tolerable) Opinions, do so possess any of the peoples minds, that no means can satisfie them, to continue in the same Assemblies; and their presence will be more hurtful than their absence; or if the Pastor or Church be so over-rigid as not to tolerate their dissent; the next thing to be done, is to permit them to Worship in other Assemblies, (though their with­drawing may not be justifiable;) and to take care that Love and Peace be main­tained with them, as with Neighbour Churches; though perhaps weak and faulty; which bringeth us up to the next Question.

Q. 3. What are the Terms on which Neighbour Churches, may hold Commu­nion with one another?

A. What these particular Churches in the question are is shewed before.

The Communion in question consisteth, 1. In holding the same Faith. 2. In the same Worship of God, in the necessary parts. 3. In the same profession of Obe­dience to God. 4. In a professed estimation of each other as Brethren, and as true Churches of Christ. 5. And in a professed Love to one another as such. 6. And in such Communion and mutual Assistance, as tend to the preservation of the Church Universal, and the benefit of each other. The Terms therefore and means must be these following.

1. They must publickly profess the same Christian Religion, in all the Essen­tial parts; which is no more, but [That we continue our consent to our Baptis­mal Covenant, with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, renouncing the De­vil, the World and the Flesh: Particularly professing to believe all the Articles of the Ancient Creed, and to Desire all that is contained in the Lords Prayer, and sincerely to endeavour to live towards God and Men according to the Ten Com­mandments: Believing also the Sacred Canonical Scriptures to be true, and taking them for the intire Rule of our Divine Belief, and Worship, and Obedience.] And we renounce, so far as we can know them, all Heresies, Errors and Practices contrary hereto.]

This is all the Profession that is to be required of any person in order to the Catholick Communion of Christians as such; or of the Members of a particular Church, (besides their consent to their particular Church relation;) or of Neighbour Churches for their Communion with each other. Except when any scandal obligeth us to clear our selves (whether it be suspected Heresie or wick­edness of Life) by a just Purgation or Repentance. And the requiring of larger unnecessary Professions, hath been the grand Engine of Church Divisions through many Generations.

2. Yet as there are Christians of divers degrees of knowledge, and soundness in the same Church, so there are Churches also as different: And though we must own them all as Christian Churches, which are such indeed, yet must we not judge them equally sound or pure; but must disown the gross corruptions of Do­ctrine, Worship or Discipline which are proved to be in any of them; and must specially honour those that are more faithful, pure and entire.

3. No one particular single Church must claim or usurp a Right of Dominion or Government over other Churches, as given them by God; seeing that all such true Churches are as Cities or Corporations in one Kingdom; which are all go­verned by one King, but are none of them rightful Rulers of the rest. Nor must any Men of their own heads set up such Forms of Government as of Hu­mane right, in Conformity to the Secular Governments of the World, (and this as Spiritual in the Exercise of the Keys which Christ committed to his Mini­sters) tho' one eminent Minister may instruct and admonish many others, and have some care of many Churches) contrary to, or inconsistent with, the Or­ders setled by Christ or his Apostles, who were commissioned by him for the [Page 70] setling of all Universally necessarily Church Government, and infallibly guided therein by the Holy Ghost, Much less may the Unity and Peace of the Church be laid upon such invented policies, as it is by the Papists, who make their forged. Head, Pope or Council, a constitutive essential part of the Catholick Church, and seign all the Christian World to be Schismaticks, who will not be his Subjects.

4. But Love, and Concord, and Peace must be maintained among the equal parts of the Catholick Church. Seeing it is the strength of the Churches and their Beauty, and the Exercise and help of the Life and Holiness of all the parts: Therefore such correspondencies must be maintained among them, as tend to a right understanding of each other, and to a just furtherance of these happy ends: And as in particular Churches, the determinations of useful circumstances according to Gods general Rules, is no sinful addition to Gods Word or Ordi­nances, so neither is it here to be so judged, if Magistrates by Laws or Churches by consent, do determine of useful undetermined circumstances, for the ordering of these Correspondencies, and preventing Contentions, Factions and Divisions.

5. The ordinary means of these correspondencies, are Messengers and Synods, (or Councils) and Letters Testimonial or Certificates. If one Church be offended with another, upon suspicion of Heresie or scandalous Practices, they may by Messengers admonish them, and these may by Messengers make their Purgation or Confession. As also if they desire Advice or Help from one another; but if in common and weighty cases, there be need of more common and judicious consul­tations, or significations of Consent and Concord, Synods are the means thereto. And if one Member Travel into other parts, or remove his dwelling, or be to be received by other Churches; especially in Suspicious Times and Cases, Com­municatory Letters and Certificates are the means, that Hereticks and Deceivers abuse not the Churches.

6. Whether these Synods shall be held at certain stated times, or variously as occasions vary? And whether they shall have a President? And whether he shall be mutable or fixed? And of how many Churches they shall be composed? And how oft they shall meet, and how long they shall sit; with such like, are cir­cumstances left to Humane Prudence, under the general Laws of Christ. But the use of Synods is so ordinary and great, that in sound and peaceable Coun­treys, where Heresie or Church-Tyranny doth not turn them against their proper ends; and where State-Iealousies cause not Rulers to forbid them, the stated­ness and frequency of them will be of very great advantage to the Churches: But in the contrary cases it may be quite contrary.

7. Though no one of these Bishops or Pastors in Councils (nor many conjunct) be by Divine Right the proper Governour over the rest, and therefore as to one another their Canons, are Agreements for Union, rather than the Laws of Supe­rior Governours, yet do they not by their Assembling lose their Governing Power over their Several Flocks, but meet to exercise it with the greater consi­deration and force: And therefore their lawful Determinations and Agreements may be truely obligatory to their several Flocks.

[Page 71]8. The largeness of these Councils should be suited to the occasion and ne­cessity: As the Scandals, Heresies, Schisms or Contentions do require. But to make proper Universal Councils to be the ordinary Supreme Governing Law­givers to a Body Politick called the Universal Church is a device of those who would do Christs work in their own mistaking way, and for the preserving of the Churches Unity, will desperately divide, corrupt and injure it. There is no necessity of it, Christs Universal Laws being sufficient, with the Civil Go­vernment of Princes, and the Circumstantial Determinations of the particular Churches: And it is pernicious, if not impossible: The many thousand Miles distance of the Churches, the paucity of the Pastors, and necessity of their pre­sence in many Churches; the many years that must be spent in Travel; the opposition of Heathen and Infidel Princes whose Subjects they are, or through whose Countreys they must Travel; the Wars and Jealousies of Princes; the probability of the death of the ablest Pastors in such a Voyage; they being u­sually aged Men and weak; their diversity of Tongues, and unintelligibleness to one another; their long continuance in such Councils; their incapacity to meet and hear together in any one Room; the probability that the numerous­ness of the nearest Bishops, and paucity of the remote, will make a Faction go for the Council; the improbability that ever they will return to bring home the Decrees; the unsatisfiedness of the Churches in their Decrees, when a thou­sand, or an hundred Pastors who chuse one single Delegate, know not whether he will speak their sense or not; with many such Reasons, make it as pernicious as unnecessary. Nor have the Christian Churches ever had such Councils (the meetings of the Twelve Apostles being nothing to this purpose:) But as all Men know that the Roman Emperors had no power to Summon the Pastors who were the Subjects of other Princes; so the recorded Suffrages of all the Councils certifie us, that they were none such; but the Subjects only of the Ro­man Empire, (or those that had been such) with a very inconsiderable num­ber of some adjacent Bishops, and that but very seldom: So that those Coun­cils were Universal only as to the Empire of Rome (and that but very rarely, if ever) but never as to the Christian World.

9. If a plurality of Hereticks, Schismaticks, or ungodly Bishops or Pastors, should by the advantage of their Councils oppress the Churches or the Truth, the Sound and Faithful Pastors must hold on in the way of Duty, and not for­sake the Truth or the Flocks, in Obedience to such Councils.

10. If any Church or Pastor be accused or defamed to the Neighbour Churches, of any Heresie, Schism, Scandal, or Injury, either to any Person of that Church, or to any Neighbour Church or Person, the general Precepts of Christian Charity, Concord, Humility, Submission, &c. do oblige such accused Persons, to tender to their offended Brethren (especially if it be many Churches) due satisfaction, and to hear their Reasons and Admonitions, and to acknowledge their own faults, and amend if they have erred; and in lawful things to yield to others, for Peace and Concord, and to avoid offence, where greater accidents make it not then unlawful so to do.

[Page 72]11. If any Pastors or Neighbour Churches, remain impenitent, under such proved Heresie, Impiety or Crimes, as are inconsistent with the true profession of Godliness, the Synods, or Neighbour Churches (after due Admonition and Pationce) should openly disown their sins, and if they be inconsistent with the Essentials of Christian Communion, should also disclaim Communion with them; and should send to the innocent part to exhort them to save themselves by Separation from the rest; or to forsake such Heretical and Impenitent Pas­tors: And should motion them to better Pastors, and send some to instruct them in the mean time, if they be accepted. But none of this must be done, in case of tolerable infirmities or failings.

12. A truely Ordained Minister of Christ, being called or accepted by a Church for the present time, to teach them, and guide them in publick Wor­ship and Sacramental Communion, in the Sickness, or Absence of their stated Pastors, or in a vacancy, ought to assist them, and is to be esteemed as a Mi­nister of Christ in those Administrations.

And when a Church is destitute of Pastors, it is (ordinarily) the peoples Duty, to desire the Faithful Neighbour Pastors, to assist them for supply; es­pecially in the tryal of such parts of Pastoral sufficiency, which they are un­able to try themselves; and to Ordain (by Approbation and Solemn Investi­ture) such a Person to the Ministry as they Consent to, if he be not before Or­dained; or if he be; yet by Prayer to desire God, to Bless him in that spe­cial Charge.

Q. 4. What are the terms of Communion between the Churches of several Kingdoms?

A. This needs no more addition to the former Answer but this. 1. That their Communion in the main must be the same in Faith and Love and Obedience to God, as if they were under the same Civil Government. 2. But they must not busie themselves needlesly with the distant and unknown cases and business of others; Nor 3. Must they violate the lawful restraints of their civil Governours, nor disturb the Peace of Kingdoms, upon pretences of the Churches Privileges or Interest: 4. And if they are offended at the Doctrine, Worship or Practice of other Churches; they should send to them for satisfaction, and those Churches should send them the forementioned Confession of the Christian Religion, and either purge themselves from the Crimes of which they are accused, or confess them and forsake them.

But when the Pastors which in several Countries, have drunk in differing Opinions, shall expect that all others should speak as they do, in all controverted Points of tolerable difference; and by their odious imagined consequences, shall slander other Churches or Pastors, as holding that which they disclaim, or as denying that which in their publick Confessions they profess as their very Reli­gion, and by their passions, unskilfulness and uncharitableness, shall make all diffe­rences (though but in words, or very narrow) seem more material, wide and dangerous than they are, and shall hereupon proclaim their Brethren to be here­tical [Page 73] or blasphemous, and use to revile them, and renounce Communion with them, and would silence the Pastors if it were in their Power; These under the Name of the Ministers of Christ, do powerfully militate for the Devil against the Love and Peace of Christians; and are the pernicious Incendiaries in the Churches of Christ.

Q. 5. What is the Magistrates Power and Duty about Religion, and the Churches and Ministers of Christ?

Answ. I shall say more as to their Power, than as to their Duty, because I know not how it will be endured; or how that counsel will be taken or followed, which is not desired. It more concerneth us to consider of our own duty to them.

1. All the forcing Power about matters Ecclesiastical, (whether by corporal Penalties or forced Mulcts) belongeth only to the Magistrate: (Besides what Pa­rents and Masters may do). And if any Pastors use it, it must be as Magistrates, receiving it from the Soveraign. And the Sword is so unseemly in a Pastors hand, and so ill taken by the people, and so adverse to the persuasive Loving Govern­ment which he must exercise, and hath ever been of such unhappy effects to the World; that it were to be wished that Princes would keep their Sword from the Clergy to themselves, and commit it to such Officers, as have not so much other work to do, and are not so likely to abuse it.

2. If any Pastors will declare that Princes are bound to punish men, meerly as Excommunicated by them, without any tryal of the Cause before themselves or Officers; and will Excommunicate Magistrates for not Imprisoning, Banishing or Burning, or otherwise afflicting those whom the Clergy have Excommuni­cated, or judged to be so used; Much more if any will teach and declare that Excommunicate Kings are no Kings, (yea, though a Foreigner that hath no Power over them Excommunicate them); or that they may be kill'd as Tyrants; or that the Pope or any other, have Power to depose them, and dispose of their Do­minions (see the Council at Lateran under Innocent 3d. Can. 3. and the Council at Rome under Gregor. 7.) If such be Subjects, they are injurious to the Civil Power; If they are Foreigners, they are open declared Enemies.

3. The Office and Power of Kings and other Magistrates is from God; and their lawful Commands are to be obeyed for Conscience sake; and not to avoid their Punishments only.

4. Their Office is to promote Obedience to God and to his Laws, by making Subordinate Laws of their own, and to be a terrour to Evil-doers, and a Praise and Encouragement to them that do well.

5. The Clergy as well as others must be subject to Kings and Magistrates: Nor is it tolerable Doctrine which would exempt their Persons or Estates, except it be by the King's consent.

6. Princes must not only promote natural Obedience to the true God, but also the special Faith and Obedience of the Gospel, by means which are suitable thereunto.

7. Princes may make Laws, forbidding the Publication of all pernicious Dam­ning [Page 74] Doctrines, and the Practice of Idolatry, and of all great and notable Crimes against the Law of God, and may Correct the Offenders by convenient Penal­ties, with Prudence and Moderation.

8. If heretical, covetous, or lazy Pastors, corrupt God's Word and Worship notoriously, or neglect their certain Duty, to the betraying or endangering of the Flocks, or are persons uncapable of the Office; the Magistrate may drive them on to their Duties, and (moderately and prudently) punish them for their neg­ligence and unfaithfulness; and may forbid the uncapable to exercise that Office.

9. Such Circumstances of Worship, and Orders of Assemblies (before instanced) as are fit for Common Determination and Agreement in all the Churches; being such whose Determination is not proper to the Pastors Office, may (on moderate terms, and by religious advice) be determined of by Magistrates; And all their lawful Determinations must be obeyed.

10. There needeth not the device of Popes or Patriarchs, to call Councils, or to keep Peace among the Pastors of the Church: For the Magistrate must do it, as a great part of the work of his Office. Every Soveraign may call such Pastors unto Councils as are his Subjects: And several Princes by agreement may call their respective Subjects together when there is Cause; And proper Universal Councils (as is shewed) are things which never were known, nor are not to be expected: And it must be a very extraordinary necessity, which must warrant the Pastors of several Kingdoms, to hold Councils together, when they are for­bidden by their Kings: Princes also may correct Church-Tyrants and Usurpers, and Destroyers of Faith, or Piety or Peace: They ought to restrain such Pas­tors as would raise Seditions or Rebellions, or Persecutions of the Innocent, or that pretend Religion for the open and obstinate revilings of their Brethren, and are proved to be unquiet Firebrands to kindle Dissentions, and destroy Mens Love to one another, or arbitrarily to oppress the Flocks.

11. When any question, Who must be Iudge, in cases of Heresie, Infidelity or Idolatry as divulged or practised, the true answer is obvious and easie. 1. In regard of publick Ecclesiastical judgment, and the Sentence of Excommunication or Absolution, the Pastors of the Church are the proper Judges, by virtue of the power of the Keys. 2. In regard of publick civil judgment in order to cor­poral forcible punishment or impunity (as there is just cause) the Magistrate is the only publick Judge. 3. In regard of that private judgment of discerning, by which every rational person must know his own Duty, both to God and Man, and discern when and how far to obey Man, without disobeying God, every such rational person is a Iudge; that is, a Discerner of what he ought to do. And Christ always the final Judge.

12. Yet may not the Magistrate invade the Pastoral Office it self; nor Or­dain or D [...]grade Minister [...], (in that Spiritual Sense as it is committed to Church-Guides;) nor Administer the Sacraments, nor exercise the proper power of the Church Keys, which Christ committed to Church Officers, by such Excommu­nications or Absolutions as are proper to that power; nor may they hinder the [...]astors from the due performance of their Office, in matter or manner: Nor [Page 75] forbid the necessary Preaching of the Gospel, or publick worshipping of God, by all or any of his Ministers: But are bound to promote it with studious diligence, as Patrons of the Church.

13. But if they should forbid us the necessary Preaching of God's Word, or necessary assembling for God's publick Worship, (as we must not account, those seasons and circumstances necessary which are unnecessary, so that which is necessary indeed, we must not desert, till we are disabled to perform it; seeing it is greater Sacrilege, if we alienate a person consecrated to God in so sacred an Office, than if we should alienate conseorated Goods or Lands; which are not so nearly related to a holy use. And seeing we took not up our calling upon meer tryal for a time▪ And seeing it is more Cruelty in us, to see Thousands perish in ignorance and ungodliness, while we deny them our necessary help, than to shut up the Bowels of our Compassion to them, who are in corporal distress: And seeing Christ's threefold charge to Peter, doth teach us, also, as we love him to feed his Lambs. And all that are truly called to the Ministry, may say of their duty as Paul of his Apostolical Works, [Necessity is laid upon me, yea, woe is unto me, if I Preach not the Gospel] Joh. 21. 15, 16, 17, 18. 1 Cor. 9. 16. But there is no absolute necessity of our Liberties, Maintenance, Ease or Lives. And those that are indeed the Servants of God, and fear his Judgment, and look for their Reward and Felicity from him, must (with Dan. ch. 6. and the Apostles Act. 4. 18, 19. & 5. 29.) hear God and obey him before men: Luk. 12. 4. and fear hell fire more than death, as Christ commandeth; and love mens Sal­vation and Christ's Kingdom better than our lives: Luk▪ 14. 26. 33. 1 Ioh. 3. 16.

Yet must we take heed that we over-value not our own labours, and that we pretend not a necessity of them when there is none: And that we invade not the publick Temples or Maintenance, which are at the Magistrates disposal: And that we be not too querulous under our own sufferings, to make the Rulers odious to the People; nor any way stir up Sedition under pretence of saving Souls; nor carry on any carnal interest and work of our own, under the name of the work and interest of Christ. And as to the places, seasons, numbers, and other circum­stances of our Ministerial Duties, they must be fitted to the Churches good, which is their end, and varied according to the variety of Cases; and we must not expect that all men and in all cases do observe the same which some must do.

14. But where we may not actively obey, we must either fly to another City, Mat. 10. 23. or patiently suffer, and not resist, Rom. 13. 3. 5. Matth. 5. 10, 11, 12. We must not revile when we are reviled, nor curse (no not in our hearts) the Ru­lers of our people, nor secretly or openly dishonour them; Because their honour is more necessary to the common good than our vindication is: 1. Pet. 2. 23. Act. 23. 5. Eccl. 10. 20. Much less may we raise any Seditions or Rebellions▪ or revenge or defend our selves by Wars against them, or against their truly authorized Officers: The Christian Religion being so far from justifying any dis­loyalty, that it most strongly obligeth us to honour our Superiours, upon the highest accoun [...]; and to give place to wrath and evil, Rom. 12. 17. 19. 21. and to pray for Kings and all in authority, that we may live a quiet and peaceable▪life, [Page 76] in all godliness and honesty. And though among Christians as some tha [...] bear that Name are vicious and sensual; so some are t [...]rbulent and seditious; and some that are better may be ens [...]ared by the Differences of Statesmen and Lawyers; and it hath ever been Satan's grand design to raise jealousies against Christianity and Godliness in the Rulers of the Earth, and to make them believe, that the most serious and godly Christians are the worst and most dangerous Subjects; yet the very Nature and Laws of Christianity, do make it most evident that the best and the entirest Christians, and the most Godly and Heavenly Men, must needs be the most loyal faithful Subjects; and he that is truest to God, will (so far as he understandeth) be truest both to King and Kingdom: And as our Obedience to the fifth Commandment is part of our Religion, so the promoting of all due Obedience unto our Governours, and the preventing of all Rebellions and Dis­loyalty, must be part of the work of all true Pastors, in their publick Teaching and their private converse.

15. All Christian Magistrates must know that their Subjects are, I. Approve­able. II. Tolerable. III. Intollerable: specially as Teachers.

I. The Approveable they must encourage and maintain. II. The Tole­rable they must Tolerate. III. The Intollerable they must Suppress. But if they mis-judge, God will judge them for it.

16. It is not credible that all the Patrons in England are such men, as God hath entrusted to choose Pastors for all mens Souls, and as will choose such as all are bound to commit the Pastoral conduct of their Souls to: And that Bi­shops will institute no others; nor yet impose any thing, which a good Chri­stian may think sinful: Nor yet that all Christians are bound to venture their Souls on the conduct of any that Patrons choose, or on the practice of all that is imposed. Therefore Pastors of their own choosing should be Licensed to to­lerated Churches.

1. Subscribing the Essentials of Christianity. 2. Living under Laws of Peace and Loyalty. 3. Paying their Parish Dues.

17. They whose Labours do more good, than their Mistakes and Faults do hurt, should be corrected only by such moderate Penalties as hinder them not from their Ministerial Work.

18. When all's done, Good Rulers will do good, and promote Truth▪ Piety and Peace, and suppress the intolerable, and restrain the envious proud tyrannical Clergy. And Bad Rulers will judge the best Men to be the worst, and take them for intolerable, and serve Satan by labouring to disable or de­stroy them. The God of Love and Peace, make Rulers, Teachers, and People to be Men of Love and Peace; or make us long for that World where all are such in full Perfection, Amen.

FINIS.

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