Πνεύματος Διακονία: OR, Gospel-Churches, A Standing ORDINANCE OF Jesus Christ, TO Continue to His next Personal Glorious Coming, plainly Proved; Objections particularly Answer'd.

By an unworthy servant of Jesus Christ, a Mourner in Sion for the Divisions thereof; who waits for the day of the Son of Man, R.B.

Mat. 16.18.

Ʋpon this Rock will I build my Church: And the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.

1. Cor. 11.26.

As often as ye eat this Bread, and drink this Cup, ye do shew the Lord's Death till HE COME.

Eph. 3.21.

Ʋnto him be glory in the CHƲRCH—throughout all Ages—

London, Printed by T.M. for Tho. Parkhurst at the Bible and Three Crowns in Cheapside, near Mercers Chappel, 1682.

TO THE READER.

Christian Reader,

IF thou intendest a serious perusal of the ensuing Treatise, 'twill not be amiss to stay a while at the Portal. 'Tis now two full years, and up­ward, since it was fitted for the Press, the Re­mora's of its publication are needless to menti­on to thee. It hath in that time been frequently given up to the Lord, and the service of his Churches; with earnest cries to him, who Ministers Seed to the Sower, and makes the Seed sown to prosper, that it may be blessed for some Spiritual advantage to them that truly fear him, whe­ther in, or out of the Churches of Christ. What of the leadings, help, of the Lord an unworthy dust hath had in the managery of this Work from first to last, is not needful to be mentioned. This I think meet to say to the praise of match-less Grace, that I have not been altogether without them, and in some things, such clear openings, as I never had before. All is submitted to the Judgment of the truly Judicious; and if the least be contributed for the establish­ment of the Lords Children (the weakest of them) in the Path, and way of the Gospel, let him have the Glory, I obtain the end aimed at. The Reasons of the present un­dertake are too many to give an account of. I know none that have ex professo handled this Subject. 'Tis true, the Lear­ned Dr. Owen, some while-since (and long after this was finished for the Press) hath writ much in a little, touching it: but he tells us, he only debates it [...], in passage. There [Page] have been, and still are, some that openly oppose this way of the Gospel, upon various accounts: Of which (at least some of them) we give particular notice. That in every Ge­neration, Satan hath set himself against the Churches of Christ, since they have had a being in the World, none are ignorant of, who have thought it any part of their concern to enquire into these matters. Many wayes he hath taken to eradicate, root them out; and hath by some of those wayes, greatly disturbed, perplexed, shaken them. As,

1. Sore, great Persecutions, hath he oft raised against them from the first dayes of the Gospel, till now. And though he hath often seen the Vanity of his attempts that way to root them out, yet he is unwearied therein. Millions of Saints have been tortured, butchered, destroyed by his Instru­ments upon the account of their being found in the practice of those Gospel-Wayes, Ordinances, we are pleading for. Nor can any oppugn, despise them, but they condemn those Mil­lions of innocent ones, and justifie Satan; and his Instruments, in their horrid butcheries of them. Touching which, more afterwards. He early began this cruel work. The Priests, Ecclesiastick-Governours amongst the Jews, together with the Roman-Rulers, breath forth Threatnings against them; im­prison, slaughter, some eminent ones amongst them, to terri­fie the rest: see Act. 4. & 7. & 9. They Excommunicate them, charge them with broaching New-Doctrines, endea­vouring to overturn the antient State of Religion, as Sedi­tious, Factious, setting up Separate-meetings, or private Con­venticles; banish, cast them into Prison, compel them to Blaspheme; Whip, Behead, Stone them. Under Claudius, a­bout A.D. 45. Herod Agrippa furiously falls upon some of the Disciples of our Lord, kills James (the Brother of John) with the Sword; casts Peter also into Prison, Act. 12. (Him the Angel of the Lord quickly meets with, Smites, he is ea­ten up of Worms, gives up the Ghost, v. 23.) At Antioch the Jews are filled with envy against Paul, and Barnabas, contra­dicting, Blaspheming; they raise persecution against them, expel them out of their coast, Act. 13.45, 50. At Iconium also, the Ʋnbelieving Jews stir up the Gentiles against them; and the [Page] Gentiles, and Jews, with their Rulers, make an assault to use them despitefully, and to Stone them, Act. 14.2.5. To Lystra, from Antioch, and Iconium, come certain Jews; who stir up the People against them, they stone Paul, and draw him out of the City for dead, Act. 14.19. At Philippi, Act. 16. Paul and Silas are dragged into the Court unto the Rulers, v. 19. They are Scourged, cast into Prison, v. 22, 23. At Thessalo­nica an uprore is made against them; the house of Jason (where 'tis like they met) assaulted; but not finding them, they draw Jason, and certain Bretheren, unto the Rulers of the City, crying, These that have turned the World upside down are come hither also, Act. 17.5, 6, 7, 8, 9. Preaching at Barea, the Jews from Thessalonica come thither also, and stir up the People against them, v. 13. At Corinth, the Jews, with one accord, make insurrection against Paul, bring him to the Judgment-Seat, Act. 18.12. At Ephesus, by Demetrius a great tumult is raised also, v. 24. to 35. At Jerusalem, the Jews which are of Asia, stir up the People against him, and lay hands on him, Chap. 21.27. who would have killed him immediately, ver. 31. Of his afflictions in Asia, Paul himself speaks, 2 Cor. 1.8. in Judea, Heb. 10.32, 33, 34. About the Seventeenth Year of Nero (that Monster) A.D. 63. James the Brother of our Lord (with others) is slain, Euseb. l. 2. c. 23. Josephus, l. 20. Antiq. c. 8. At Alexandria, Mark the Evangelist (it's said). was put to death. This Nero Fires the City of Rome, layes it upon the Christians; and from hence takes occasion, by publick Edict, to raise persecution against them; He was the first of the Emperours that did so, Tertull. in Apologet. which continued to the end of his Reign: Peter, and Paul (it's said) were slain by him; with others innumerable. How the hand of the Lord wrought him, is known; condemned he was by the Senate, to be pu­nished More majorum, i. e. to be whipt to death; to pre­vent which, he slew himself with this exprobration of his own sordid villany, Turpiter vixi, turpius morior; I have lived filthily, I die more dishonourably, Sueton. in Nero. Domitian about A.D. 97. by his Edicts, raises another dreadful per­secution against the Christians: Banishes John into the Isle of [Page] Patmos, Euseb. l.3. c. 18.19. Eutropius, l.9. Timothy, One­simus, and Dionysius the Areopagite were put to death, Ni­ceph. l.3. c. 11. with an innumerable company of the faith­ful beside: The Wrath of God pursues him, and he is mur­dered in his own house by his own Servants, Sueton. in Domit. Under Trajan, a great persecution was raised a­gainst the Lamb's followers, about A.D. 100. Multi­tudes of them are destroyed; some mentioned by name, viz. Simeon the Son of Cleophas; Clemens, Alexander, Quiri­nus, and his Daughter Balbilia, Sulpitius, and Servilianus, Nereus, and Achilleus, Phocas, a Bishop in Pontus, Ignatius. This Storm continued fourteen Years. In fine, by a resolution of his joynts, nummedness of body, and a choaking Water, Trajan miserably perished, Dion. Cassius de Traj. Under Ha­drian, about A.D. 120. a Storm falls upon the Christians; not a few are cut off. About the Second Year of his Raign Aurelius Comes casts about 1250. of them into Prison, whom he at last burnes to death. Amongst whom was Alexander, the Bishop of Rome; and Hermes, the Praefect of the City. Zenon a Roman Senator, with ten thousand two hundred and three, it's said; were slain, in a Witness for CHRIST, Cent. Mag. Cent. 2. c. 3. p. 12. At last he perishes with a flux, and casting of blood, Aelius Spart. in Had. Some add, that he gave the World, this Poetick desperate farewel;

Animula Vagula, blandula,
Hospes, comesqùe corporis,
Quae nunc abibis in loca?
Pallidula, rigida, nudula,
Nec ut Soles, dabis jocos.

Antoninus Pius comes next, about A.D. 139. Many of the Disciples of Christ are cut off; at Rome, Felicitas with her seven Sons; Braxedis—. In Spain, and France, not a few; amongst the rest, Photinus, Bishop of Lions, with fourty nine more: At Alexandria in Aegypt, Ptolomaeus, and Licius; with many others, are Martyred for Christ. Euseb. Chron. Justin. Apol. After he had read the Apologies of Justin and others, he became better affected to the Christians; and send's Let­ters into Asia to stop the Persecution, Euseb. l. 4. c. 26. [Page] For which cause (perhaps) the Lord poured not forth his wrath on him as on others, who abode in their enmity a­gainst his chosen Ones. Under Antoninus Verus, about A.D. 162. the Church had their time of Tribulation; as the Epistle of the Saints at Vienna, and Lions, to the Brethren throughout Asia, and Phrygia, recorded by Eusebius, l. 5. c. 1. does abundantly declare; wherein they acquaint them, that the fierceness of the Gentiles anger against them, the great things they suffer, cannot be well written or spoken. Amongst others that suffered, they mention, Vetius, Epaga­thus, Sanctus, Maturus, Attalus, Blandina, Ponticus, Photinus, Alexander, &c. by name. At Rome they were persecuted; amongst others, Justin there fell by wicked hands. In Asia there was great distress, Euseb. l. 5. c. 15 as the Church of God at Smyrna, unto the Church at Philomilium, and to all the Churches throughout Pontus, intimates; where they at large declare, the manner of the Martyrdom of Policarpus. Nor was there a stop put to this Persecution, by the Apolo­gies made for the Christians, by Melito, Bishop of Sardis, and Apollinarius, Bishop of Hierapolis. At last his Army being sorely distressed in Germany for want of Water, the Christian Legion, by their Prayers, procures Rain, and Thunder, and Lightning, that scare and routes the Enemy (upon the ac­count whereof, they are termed— [...], the Thun­dring Legion); this comes with some conviction upon the Emperour, who now writes Letters, that they should not suffer as Christians; that the Informers, Prosecutors of them, as such, should be burnt Alive. Tertull. in Apologet. Lying speechless for three dayes, he dies of an Apoplexie. Cent. Mag. Cent. 2. c. 4. p. 28. The Church had a little rest un­der Commodus, the Emperour (who succeeded Antoninus); yet was his Throne tinctured with some of the blood of the Saints: Apollonius a Roman Senator (by vertue of an ancient Law made against the Christians, and unrepealed) lost his head in a witness for Christ. Euseb. Hieron. But in the time of Severus about A.D. 205. the Devil is let loose to pur­pose; a fresh Persecution is raised every where against them. Euseb. l. 6. c. 1. Spartian. The accusations against them were [Page] generally, Sedition, Treason, Sacriledge, Incest, Adulteries, (the Candles being put out) Leonides the Father of Origen, is beheaded. Euseb. ibid. With many others. Tertul. ad Scapul. Apologetick. contra Gentes. All manner of cruelties were exercised against them, their houses were rifled, their goods taken away, they themselves are murdered, burnt in a witness for Christ. But the Emperour at last payes dear for these cruelties. After he had endured great pain in all his members, especially in his feet, he poisons himself to put an end to his torments. Cent. Mag. Cent. 3. c. 3. p. 22. For a little while the Church had some tranquillity; but under Maximinus about A.D. 237. Persecution is raised a­gainst the Pastors of the Church, upon this Principle, that they being removed, the rest, the Flock, would deny their Profession. Euseb. l. 6. c. 28. The distress was short, but smart: He continued Emperour but three Years; and then he with his Son (yet a Child) was torn in pieces of the Soul­diers, all crying out, Ex pessimo genere, ne catulum quidem ha­bendum, That not a Whelp was to be left of so cursed a Stock. Aurel. Victor, Capitol. Decius A.D. 247. raises another fierce persecution. Euseb. l. 6. c. 39. Cypr. l. 4. Epist. 4. Nicephorus l. 5. c. 29. tells us, that 'tis, as easie to number the Sands of the Sea, as the Martyrs that lost their lives by this persecution. Some are mentioned by name; as at Jerusa­lem, the Bishop of the Church there, who was cast into Pri­son, and died; as did Babylas, the Bishop of Antioch. Niceph. l. 5. c. 26. Another Babylas Bishop (or Pastour) of the Church at Nicomedia, was Martyred. Spec. Vincent. l. 11. c. 52. Asclepiades, Pastor of the Church at Antioch, with fourty Virgins, Id. Ibid. At Lampsac, one Peter. In Troas, Andrew, Paul, Nicomachus, and Dionysia, a Virgin, Id. l. 11. c. 46. At Caesarea, Germanus, Theophilus, Caesarius, Vitalis, l. 11. c. 52. At Babylon, Polychronius their Bishop, c. 49. At Perga in Pamphylia, Nestor, their Bishop. c. 52. Olympias and Maximus, in Persia—. But the violence of this per­secution was in Africa, as is manifest from Tertullian, Cypri­an; and particularly at Alexandria, as Euseb. l. 6. c. 40, 41, 42. Demonstrates from the Epistles of Dionysius, Pastor [Page] of the Church there. At Rome, Fabian their Bishop, and Cornelius, Sabel. l. 7. Ennead. 7.—. As they were an innumerable company, that at this time suffered for the Name, Worship of CHRIST, so were their Sufferings of divers kinds; some were driven from house and harbour; spoil'd of their Goods, and Enjoyments, bound with Chaines, shut up in Prisons, cast to wild Beasts to be devoured; consumed in the Flames, Cypr. contr. Demet. Some they beat with Clubs; prick Face and Eyes with sharp Quills; Stone to death; drag along the Streets; sorely scourge; dash against Milstones: They break into their Houses, take away their Jewels, and all of any value; throw the wooden stuff into the streets, burn it to ashes—Euseb. l. 6. c. 40. When Decius had scarce Raign­ed two Years, he was slain, together with his Sons, Euseb. l. 7. c. 1. Vibius Gallus ascends the Throne, about A.D. 254▪ and continues the Persecution by Imperial Edicts, Euseb. l. 7. c. 1. Vincent. in Speculo. l. 11. c. 53. But a dreadful pestilence invading the Empire, not much was done. Gallus also himself was quickly slain by Aemilianus, Faseicul. Tem­por. fol. 45. About A.D. 257. Valerian mounts the Throne, who at first was so kind to the People of God, that his whole Palace (saith Dionysius) was replenished with the god­ly, and became a Church of God, Euseb. l. 7. c. 10. After­terwards they were sorely Persecuted. They are forbid to keep any Conventicles; are despoyled of Goods; impriso­ned, scourged, banished, killed with the sword, consumed in the flames, Euseb. l. 7. c. 11. At Caesarea, Priscus, Malchus, and Alexander, are cast to the Wild Beasts, Euseb. l. 7. c. 12. Concerning the persecution at Alexandria, Dionysius writes to Domitius, and Didymus, thus, 'Tis superfluous to go about to reckon the Names of such as suffered amongst us, since they are so many; but thou mayest know that they are of all sorts, Men, Women, Youths, old Men, Virgins, old Women, Souldiers, and Ʋnlearned, Euseb. l. 7. c. 11. He makes particular mention of one Faustus, who was killed with the Sword. And Bergomensis in his History of Valerian the Emperour, l. 8. mentions Philippus, Bishop of Alexandria, who suffered after the same manner. And at Carthage, Cyprian was put to [Page] death. Sabell. in Chron. Vincentius, l. 11. c. 83. tells us, that three hundred Martyrs suffered at Carthage; many at Rome, and elsewhere. At last, the cry of the blood of In­nocents, brings vengeance upon the pate of Valerian, and he falls into the hand of Sapores King of Persia, who carried him about in a Cage, and used him as a foot-stool as oft as he took Horse, Laetus. Aurel. Vict. and being seventy years old, as a just and righteous Judgment of God on him for his like cru­elty to his Servants, saith Eusebius, Serm. ad convent. Sanct. he was flayed, and saulted alive; and so dyed. Valerianus be­ing taken by Sapores King of Persia, Galienus governs alone: about A.D. 262. and by Publick Edicts, puts a stop to the Persecution, Euseb. l. 7. c. 13. & 15. & 22. from whence, to the time of Dioclesian, and Maximilian, about A.D. 288. The Church was in a more tranquil state; but then were they more harassed, persecuted, than ever; Euseb. l. 8. c. 1. The persecution began the nineteenth year of his Empire, A.D. 306. In March, most terrible Edicts come forth, for the pulling down their Meeting - Places, level­ing them to the ground, throughout the Roman Empire; which accordingly was speedily done, Euseb. l. 8. c. 2. Then comes forth another Edict for burning the Scriptures: as al­so for ejecting with ignominy, out of all Offices, and places of Trust, whoever would not abjure their Religion; Persons in private capacities to be brought under servitude, Euseb. l. 8. c. 3. Niceph. l. 7. c. 4. Zonaras, Tom. 2. not long after, other Edicts are published, to seize, imprison their Preachers; and by all manner of punishments, to compel them to Wor­ship their Idols; Euseb. l. 8. c. 3.5. At Tirus above fourty were beheaded: At Caesarea the eminent Pamphilus was Mar­tyred, Euseb. l. 8. c. 13. In Syria all the noted Teachers were first imprisoned, afterwards slain, Id. Ibid. In Mesopo­tamia, Cappadocia, Tarsus of Cilicia, Nicomedia; in Bythinia many are hardly used, Butchered, Euseb. l. 8. c. 12. & 13. & ch. 4. & 6. Hermannus Gigas ▪ tells us, that Serena the Empe­rour Dioclesian's Wife, was also Martyred for Christ. Twen­ty-thousand were together by Maximianus his cruelty, burnt in a Temple, being there assembled to Worship God, Niceph. [Page] l. 7. c. 6. Many in Arabia were cut off, Euseb. l. 8. c. 12. All the Inhabitants of a City in Phrygia, with their City were destroyed, Euseb. l. 8. c. 11. In Armenia, Arabrace, the Teachers of the Churches were Murdered by them, Euseb. l. 8. c. 6. Niceph. l. 7. c. 14. The persecution severely ra­ged in Aegypt. At Thebes a whole Legion of Christians were put to death, Vincent. in Speculo. l. 12. c. 2. It-reached Africa, and Mauritania, Euseb. l. 8. c. 6. and the Islands, as Lesbos (Sabel. Ennead. 7. l. 8) Samos, and Sicilie, where se­venty-nine Martyrs were slain, Heinrick. de Erford. At Ni­copolis, in Thracia, Niceph. l. 7. c. 14. at Chalcedonia, Vincent. l. 12. c. 77. At Rome, Bononia, several were murdered, Vinc. l. 12. c. 49. At Aquileia the Emperour commanded to destroy all the Christians, Id. l. 12. c. 58. At Florence, Pergamos, Neapolis in Campania, Beneventum, Venusa in Apulia, and in Toscana several were cut off, saith Regino. At Verona in France, at Mediolanum, at Massilia (or Marseille) there were many Martyred, Heinric. de Erfor. Vinc. l. 12. c. 2. In Spain the Blood of the Saints ran down like Rivers, and tinctured the streams of Water, Vincent. l. 12. c. 136. It reacht even to Britain, Beda, l. 1. de ratio. temp. All the Christians here (almost) were destroyed, Martin. Chron. Fascic. temp. Maxi­minus (who was Emperour with Constantius) rages in the East against them, Euseb. l. 8. c. 15. In the midst of Cities, Edicts written in Tables of Brass against them, are hung up, Euseb. l. 9. c. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. upon which many are banished, put to death, Euseb. l. 9. c. 7. Niceph. l. 7. c. 44. Having made havock of the Church, and not prevailing against it, Dioclesian with his partner Maximianus, lay aside the Govern­ment, and live as private men. But the Vengeance of the Lord reaches them for their bloody cruelty against the Saints. Dioclesian being smitten with madness, slew himself, Euseb. in orat. ad convent Sanct. Maximianus perished with a disease so loathsome, that the Physitians, as they could not cure him; so were not able to endure the stinck of it, Euseb. l. 8. c. 16. At last Constantine, with Licinius enter Rome as Victors, proclaim liberty to the Christians: yet not long after, Lici­nius sets himself against them: turns them all out of his [Page] Court, such as are Souldiers he cashiers: makes divers wicked Laws against them, Euseb. l. 10. c. 8. & l. 1. de vit. Constant. Privately murders their Pastors in several Cities of Pontus; pulls down some of their Temples, shuts up others; takes away their goods, banishes, puts to death not a few, Sozom. l. 1. c. 2. Euseb. l. 10. c. 8. l. 1. de Vit. Constant. So that now the Christans betake themselves again to Fields, Woods, Solitudes, Mountains, Euseb. l. 10. c. 14. Niceph. l. 7. c. 14. Sozom. l. 9. c. 2. He would have proceeded fur­ther, but conquered by Constantine, a period is also put to this Persecution. 'Twere endless to mention the sore distress the Churches underwent by Sapores King of Persia in his Do­minions: The cruelties they endured by the Arrians, the Butcheries, Tyrannies, Oppressions of all sorts, they under­went from the Antichristians, the Papists; are innumerable, ineffable; Europe is made a shambles, wherein the Blood of millions of the Innocent Lambs of Christ hath been poured forth; (for which they shall be plagued, destroyed, in the time appointed by the Lord). These things are known to all, who have thought it their concern in the least to turn aside to consider of them. The boody cruelties of the An­tichristian Party, against the Bohemians; in Holland also; the Massacre of Paris, Ireland, the Valleys of Piedmont, &c. wherein many thousands of the Lord's Innocent Ones have been barbarously murder'd, for no other reason▪ in the World, but because they laboured according to their Light, to maintain, and be found in the Doctrine, and Worship of Christ, is yet recent in the memory of most. What heart so rocky as to read the Histories of the deep suffe­ings of those worthy witnesses of our Lord the Waldenses, without pouring forth floods of tears? What treacheries, clandestine Plots, breach of Covenants, Oaths, have the An­tichristians been found guilty of (pursuant to that bloody principle, Nulla fidesNo Faith is to be kept with Haereticks; and all are such in their account, that embrace not their heresie, abomnable Idolatries) that they might obtain their end, to waste, destroy, root out the Heritage of God. Another way Satan hath taken to accomplish this his design, is

[Page]2. Schisme amongst the Churches of Christ. This was early set on foot, even in the Apostles dayes, (1 Cor. 3.3. & 11.18. When ye come together in the Church, I hear that there be divisions (Schisms) among you, and I partly believe it:) and hath been more, or less, with cunning, heat, violence, managed ever since by Satan, to the disturbing, breaking, crumbling into nothing some Churches of Christ. The fre­quent charging and recharging of Schism upon each other, by those that truely fear the Lord, and agree in the funda­mentals of Christianity, hath been no small machine of the wicked one to weaken, destroy them. A work he's still managing, and we are too too little awakened to see his design, and to study in the right Spirit to prevent it. 'T would make ones heart to bleed, to see, hear, with what keenness, acrimony, bitterness some Protestants are acted a­gainst others, who are not of the same mind in all things, whilst the Devil in the Papacy stands laughing to think, what an easie prey hereby he shall make of them all. Ah! alas! where is the Christian simplicity, amity? How little respect have some to the great Commandment of Christ, to Love one another, who yet would be accounted his Dis­ciples? Were it not for a hasty Spirit, bitter envying that is upon some, one would think they had no concern for Religion at all; and yet even this discovers that they are too little impregnated with the Spirit of the true Religion of Jesus Christ, which engages to love, meekness, conde­scention, mutual forbearance amongst Saints.

3. False Doctrine, Worship. This also had an early en­trance amongst the Churches. The denial of the Resurrection of the dead, substituting in the room thereof, a metapho­rick Resurrection, betimes infected some (at least) of the Church at Corinth, 1 Cor. 15. with 2 Tim. 2.18. Justification by the Law, by Works was introduced into many of them; as the Churches at Rome, Galatia, &c. against whom the Apostle of the Gentiles, Paul, smartly disputes in his Epistles directed to them. Into the pure Worship of God, the inventions, tradi­tions of men were at last so introduced, that God could no longer own it as his Worship at all. And in respect of [Page] both these, none ever were so degenerate, corrupt as the Syna­gogue of Rome. To enumerate particulars were endless; what more contrary to Truth, sound Doctrine, than their assertions, that the Original Hebrew, and Greek, of the Old and New-Testament is corrupt; That the Scripture is not perspicuous, cleer: That to one Man (the Pope) the interpretation of Scripture doth belong, who is Infallible; and Judgment, Con­science, all, is to be subjected to him: That he is the alone Judge of Controversies: who hath the Spirit of God, given to him above others for his so doing: That the Pope can dispense with the Law of God: That he is Universal Head of the Church: That he is not to be questioned for his Doctrine, or Actions. (Si Papa infinitas animas in infernum traheret, tamen nemo debet ei dicere, quid facis? If the Pope should carry an infinite number of Souls headlong to Hell, none ought to say to him, what doest thou? For the will of the Pope stands for reason, Glossa). By his own Authority he can make Laws to bind the Consciences of the faithful: He hath Power, Authority over Princes; can crown, un-crown; set up, depose as he pleases. That the Scriptures are not a sufficient Canon, or rule of Faith, and Manners; but Traditions written, and un-written, are also necessary: That Traditions are sufficient without the Scriptures; but the Scrip­tures are not sufficient, without Traditions: That Christ is mediator only according to his humane Nature: That 'tis unlawful for Priests to marry: That there is a certain place in which (as in a prison) after this life, souls are purged, who were not here perfectly purged; that being so purg'd, they might enter into Heaven: That Saints are to be Worshipped: That Images are to be Worshipped with the same Worship that is due to those whose Images they are (as the Image of God, Christ —): yea, so that the Worship be terminated in the Image: That the Sacraments confer grace ex opere operato: That they justify, That there are seven Sacraments: That the Church hath power to Institute new Ceremonies for spiritual ends: That persons un-Baptiz'd are damn'd; there's no salvation without it: That Baptism takes away all sin: That the Bread and Wine is converted into the Body and Blood of CHRIST: That the Priest offers up [Page] Christ a propitiatory Sacrifice for the quick, and dead, to God the Father: That there are sins in their own nature Venial: That Concupiscence in those that are renued, is no sin: That men may be sav'd if they will; 'tis in their own power to believe, &c. That men are not justified by Faith without Works: That inherent Righteousness justifies: That none can be certain, in this Life, either of their Electi­on, Justification, Perseverance to the end, or Eternal Life: That we are justified by Works, that we merit Eternal Life by them. And these are some of those pure streams that too many have a great mind to return to drink of; and would by force, bloody cruelty, compel others to drink, and be poy­soned with them.

4. False Visions, lying Revelations; upon which many times, false Doctrine, Worship, hath been built, supported. Somwhat of these was also in the Apostles times. Divine Visions, Revelations there were many, see Act. 10.11 —. & 16.9. & 18.9, 10. & 23.11. & 27.23, 24. Gal. 1.12. & 2.1, 2. 2 Cor. 12.4. Act. 7.55. & 10.3. Some also there were who were full of their false Visions, Revelations, 2 Thes. 2.2. Now we beseech you Brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not sha­ken in mind—neither by Spirit—i. e. by any that shall pretend to Revelations by the Spirit—. To mention what of this kind was in after dayes, is endless: somewhat is spoken to it, chap. 3. Of the ensuing Treatise.

5. Pretensions to a more than Ordinary Authority, Pow­er. False-Prophets, Pseudo-Apostles there were even in the Apostles dayes, 2 Cor. 11.13. Such are False-Apostles Trans­forming themselves into the Apostles of Christ. See Mat. 24.5, 11. Rev. 2.2. and many have risen up since, whereby the Faith of some have been perverted, and they have been drawn off from the wayes of Christ.

6. False Miracles, Lying Signs and Wonders. Of this we have an account, Mat. 24.24. For there shall arise false Christs, and false Prophets, and shall shew great signs and won­ders—. Mar. 13.22. 2 Thes. 2.9. Even him whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all Power, and Signes, and [Page] lying wonders, Rev. 13.13, 14. And he doth great wonders, so that he maketh fire to come down from Heaven on the Earth in the sight of men: and deceiveth them that dwell on the Earth by the means of those Miracles. Antichrists Kingdom hath been full of such lying signs, and wonders, whereby the Faith of some hath been Shaken, and they drawn off from the pure Worship of Christ.

7. Open, avowed, oppositions to Gospel-Institutions of this device of Satan to ruine the Churches of Christ, we might give a distinct, and large account; some there were of old that opposed, denied, some particular Ordinances; others refused communion with the Churches, as no Churches of Christ. In the third Century, the Manichees denyed baptism with Water, August. l. 2. de mor. Manich. and l. 6. Contra Faust. The Meletians in the fourth century refused commu­nion with the Churches, saith Theodoret. And Augustine, ad quod vult, &c. tells us, that they would not so much as Pray with the Saints. The Audaeans, or Anthropomorphites (who held that God had a humane form, or shape as a man) denied communion with the Churches in the same Century, Epiphan. in Anacephal. August. ad quod vult, &c. Theodoret, l. 4. c. 10. The Donatists held in the same century, that the Church of God was wholly lost, and to be restored by them; amongst whom in Africa 'twas only preserved, August. l. 2. Cont. lit. Petil. c. 15. l. 2. Cont. Cres. c. 37. (for which they pre­tended Miracles, Visions, Dreams): What open, avowed op­positions have been (are) in our dayes made to the Churches, Institutions of Christ, is known, and ought to be bewayled by us: These things might have been more at large spoken to, but I am sensible how far I have transcended the due bounds of an Epistle to so small a Treatise, and shall only add, That,

1. I plead not for the Continuance of This, or That, par­ticular Church of Christ. Many such have been dis-churched, and may be so. God may be so far provoked against This, or That Church, as to Write Lo-ammi, Lo-ruhamah upon it; to disown his relation to it, or its relation to him. Where is the Church of Ephesus, Pergamos, Laodicea, &c. but only [Page] argue, that God doth, will, continue the Gospel-Church-state, Ordinances, in some particular Church, or Churches in the World, to the next personal coming of Christ. Much less,

2. Do I plead for the corruptions of Churches, which indeed are too many, and great, perhaps amongst the best, purest Churches at this day; and in some, at that height (as the synagogue of Rome) that there is no communion to be held with them, without God-provoking iniquity, that will with­out Repentance, bring his Wrath, Vengeance, upon us, Rev. 18.4.

3. That persons had need take heed how they speak evil of, slight, oppose, persecute the Churches of CHRIST, his Worship, Institutions, Ordinances. The Judge stands before the door, the Lord of the Vineyards is ready to be revealed, and in flaming fire to take Vengeance on them that know him not, and obey not his Gospel. Nor will it be a suffici­ent plea at that day, for any to say, we accounted them not thy Churches, Ordinances; therefore we so managed our selves towards them, a despising, rejecting these, is one way of casting off the Authority of Christ, as we afterward de­monstrate.

4. That it highly concerns all that know the Lord, who are either separated from; or, were never adjoyned to any Church of Christ; to testify their love, and subjection to him; by subjecting to his Commandements in this matter, lest not being found where Christ expects them, they be blamed, shamed, at his day.

5. That the utmost care should be taken, industry used, to keep those Iniquities out of particular Churches, as may pro­voke the Lord to spew them out of his mouth, as he did Laodicea of old. Particularly

1. Schisms amongst themselves: Which as they are an Ar­gument of Carnality, 1 Cor. 3.3. so they distast, greatly pro­voke the Lord. 2. Formality, Lukewarmness. 3. Pride, both inwardly, in Heart, Spirit: outwardly, in Apparel, Garb; God resisteth the Proud; sets himself in battel-array against them. 4. Covetousness, which is Idolatry. A wretched spi­rit, that hath too much overspread, prevailed upon the body [Page] of Professors: Such as are Baptized into it, are Enemies to the Cross of Christ, Phil. 3.18, 19. 5. Sinful complyance with, and Conformity to this World. 6. Carelesness as to sanctifying the Name of God in every part of Worship: The nature of this great work is opened in the following Treatise; with many other things, of which we must not now speak.

6. That particular Churches ought, to be much, often consi­dering their ways, get a sense of their miscarriages upon them, pollutions amongst them, to remember from whence they are fallen; repent, do their first works. And if ever 'twere the duty of the Churches of Christ to attend carefully to these things, it's much more now. What languishing, dying Churches have we? How is Jehovah by word, providential Dispensations cry­ing aloud to them, to be zealous, Repent, return? What little attendment to his Voice amongst many? How doth he disco­ver his unwillingness to leave them? How doth he seem to hover over them? How many ways hath he been alluring, drawing by cords of Love unto himself; and if after all, he should pull down these Tabernacles, and erect others for himself in some remote part of the World; leave poor Eng­land, suffer Papal Darkness, Superstition, Idolatry, to over­spread the Land; must we not say, he is Holy, we reap the fruit of our own doings: He is faithful to his Word: Churches (Ordinances) He will have in the world to bear his Name, though we are reduced to Rubbish, Ruins. I have been, am trembling within my self, lest he should at last be provoked to leave us (at least for a season): Wo, wo, wo, unto us if he depart from us. Repent oh England; Awake, awake Churches; awake, awake Professors; lay hold on God, renew your Covenant with him, labour to find out every accursed thing that may be in the midst of you; cast it away with loathing, abhorrency; bemoan your selves for the sins, iniquities, are with you; be conscientious in filling up the relation you stand in each to other, as members of the same Body: cry to God to fill you with Presence, Glo­ry; to communicate the suitable grace to you, that you may be able to glorify him in the Fires; Oh Watch and Pray, [Page] that you may be accounted worthy to escape the things that are to come to pass, and stand before the son of man. Oh! Wait, look for his Coming as those that are indeed ready for it. And if you meet with any spiritual good, and advantage, by the serious perusal of the ensuing Treatise, let God have the Glory, and pray for him, who accounts it his honour, to be,

A Servant of Christ, and the meanest of his Children, R.B.

THE PREFACE To the ensuing Discourse.

OF the Creation of Man. Divine Instituti­ons in the State of Innocency. Man's fall. A New-state of things thereupon introduced. Christ the Foundation of Instituted Worship, and Mans Commu­nion with God therein. A Church-state in Adam's Family. Cain Excommunica­ted. The Church-state preserved pure, till about the dayes of Enosh. Separation from carnal Worshippers in his dayes, Gen. 4.26. Explained. The Church-state preserved in a great measure of purity for (about) a thousand Years. A grand Apostasie there-from in the dayes of Noah. The pu­rity of Worship preserved in his Family. Apostates destroyed by the Waters of the Flood. A solemn Covenant made by the Lord with Noah upon his coming out of the Ark. The Statutes God gave to him. The purity of Worship continues uninterrupted for (about) forty Years. Ham excommunicated. A dredaful Apostasie about the thousandth Year after the Flood. A remnant kept pure. [...], and [...] Who they are. The general defection, Idolatry that over­spread all in Abraham's time. His call. The erection of the pure Worship of God in his Family. Corruptions in Ja­cob's Family before their going into Egypt, whilst there. [Page] Jehovah's bringing them out from thence: giving the Law at Mount Sinai. Their Idolatry. The ten Tribes led captive be­yond Assyria; the two Tribes into Babylon: God looks after them there: brings them from thence. A new Reformation begun by Ezra, Nehemiah, &c. Their Apostacy afterwards; yet they are not totally rejected, till they had refused, reject­ed, crucified the Son of God. Then their Church-state is ver­tually dissolved. A new-Church-state set up by Christ. What a Gospel-Church is. That 'tis of the Institution of Christ, together with the Ordinances thereunto belonging, Proved.

BEfore I come to that which is the main design of this Treatise; viz. A plain Scripture-Demonstration of the Continuance of Gospel-Churches, to the next Personal, Glorious coming, and Kingdom of Christ, 'twill not be altogether unprofitable, nor imper­tinent to take a view of the Churches of God, that have from the beginning been in the World; so far at least as any foot-steps of them remain in the sacred Scriptures, the alone unerring guide in this matter.

First Then, that God made Adam upright, in his own like­ness, after his own Image, and gave him a Law to walk by, with promises of a higher state of Glory, if he continued in his inte­grity (figured forth by the Tree of Life in the midst of the Pa­radise of God) and threatning of death in case of defection there­from, is evident, Gen. 2.16, 17. That in this state of Innocency, Adam offered Sacrifices to God; and that the skins wherewith he was afterward cloathed, were the skins of the sacrificed Beasts (as some affirm) seems to be an un-scriptural foolish figment. This is certain, that upon mans disobedience, a New-state of things was introduced.

1. He that could converse with God, as a friend; now flies from him as an enemy, Gen. 3.8, 9, 10. Nor,

2. Can he any longer treat with God upon the terms of the first Covenant; nor draw nigh to him (as formerly) immediately by himself in his original, created Righteousness. He had quickly (by his disobedience) forfeited all his primitive Glory, Privi­ledges, with which in the day of his Creation he was invested; and brought miseries, deaths of all kinds, Temporal, Spiritual, Eternal, both upon himself, and all his Posterity that sprang from [Page] him by a natural generation: So that in him, All sinned, and came short of the Glory of God, Rom. 3.23.

3. As an immediate discovery of Jehovahs displeasure against him for his rebellion, he drives him out of Paradise; and guards the Tree of Life with Cherubims, and a Flaming Sword that he come not at, or eat of the fruit of it, Gen. 3.24.

4. It was therefore necessary that another Foundation be laid for fallen-mans drawing nigh to God (from whom he had thus dreadfully Apostatized) which being provided in the eternal coun­sel of God, and agreed upon in a Solemn-Covenant, betwixt the Father and the Son, is immediately (of the inconceivable Grace of GOD) revealed to Adam, viz. the Seed of the Woman, the Lord Jesus, the only Way to the Father, Gen. 3.15. Joh. 14.4, 6.

5. That upon this Revelation of Jesus Christ (mankind mul­tiplying exceedingly by the Power of that word of God, Gen. 1.28.) there was a Church-state erected by the Authority and Com­mand of God in Adams Family, where solemn Worship was mana­ged; as Praying, Preaching, offering Sacrifices, Gen. 4.3, 4. And out of this Church, were open notorious offenders Excommu­nicated. So was Cain, Gen. 4.12, 14. By whose ejection the Church was kept pure, till about the Age of Enosh.

6. Much about that time, degeneracy in Worship had so far prevailed, that the Rigteous Seed, saw a necessity of separating from the generality of the Worshippers of that day, and gather themselves together as a distinct People, for the solemn carrying on Divine service amongst themselves, Gen. 4.26. The words are [...], which are variously rendred. He began to invocate the Name of Lord, so the Vulgar Latine, and Syriac. He hoped to invocate the Name of the Lord, so the Seventy. Then (in his dayes) the Sons of men cea­sed from calling upon the Name of the Lord, so the Chaldee. Then the Name of God began to be called upon, so the Sa­maritan, Arabick Translations renders it. I know there are some who will have the words to poynt at a great degeneracy in Wor­ship, a sad lapse into Idolatry. But that a defection in Worship cannot be intended, is evident; for there had been long before, a great degeneracy, a total Apostasie there-from in the Cainites: [Page] but somewhat that men began to do, which hitherto had not been attempted, is intimated thereby; which can be nothing else, then that Segregation, and aggregation in order to purity of Worship before intimated: For men had before, called on the Name of the Lord; but there was never tell now, so visible a separation from the rest of the World, for the solemn management of Religious Worship amongst themselves. And as they began now to call upon the Name of the Lord, or to call themselves by the Name of the Lord, as the margin reads, so are they upon the account of this act of theirs, Stiled, The Sons of God, Gen. 6.2.

7. About one thousand Years after (all which time there was in a great measure purity preserved amongst them) great corrup­tion invades the Church. The nature of it together with its oc­casion, and spring, we have an account at large of, Gen. 6. And yet even now the Lord leaves not himself without a Witness. The truth and purity of Worship, together with practick-godlinesss, being maintained in Noahs Family, Gen. 6.8, 9. & 7.1. who are ensafed in a fluctuating Ark; whilst the whole body of Apostates, are swallowed up with the Waters of the Flood: of which Peter speaks, 2 Pet. 3.6.

8. When Noah, and his Family are brought out of the Ark, the Waters of the Flood being gone from off the face of the Earth; Jehovah enters into a solemn Covenant with him; gives him several Statutes, and Judgments to Conform to, Gen. 9. These are generally said to be seven.

1. The First, [...]; against extraneous Worship, or Idolatry, the Worshipping the Stars, or Images.

2. [...], against Blaspheming the Name of God.

3. [...], against shedding Blood.

4. [...], against unjust, carnal Copulations.

5. [...], against Rapine, or Robbery.

6. [...], of Judgments, or Punishments, against Ma­lefactors.

7. [...], against eating any member or flesh of a Beast taken from it alive. A special blessing as to propagation is given to him, Gen. 9.7. So that the Church in his Family soon enlarged its borders. The purity of worship continues amongst them uninterrupted for fourty years, or thereabout. When the Wicked­ness [Page] of Ham committed against the light of Nature, in discove­ring the nakedness of his Father, breakes forth; by whom he's Cursed, Excommunicated; so the purity of the Church-state is preserved, Gen. 9.25. Cursed be the Father of Canaan; so the Arabick reads is. About the Hundredth year after the Flood, many Apostatized from the pure wayes of God, rose up in rebel­lion against him; in defiance of him will build a Tower, the top whereof might reach to Heaven. But yet even in this grand de­fection, there were some (at least) of the posterity of Shem that kept pure; with whom therefore the Hebrew language remained entire, as Genebrardus Chron. lib. 1. tells us: The truth is, as the learned Bochartus saith, in his Geographia Sacra, l. 1. c. 10. It cannot be imagined, that either Noah, or Shem, or Arphaxad, or Sala, or Heber (with whom 'tis groundedly to be thought not a few continued) were in this mad attempt. The Spirit of the Lord seems to intimate the contrary; they which were engaged in it, were [...], the Sons of Men, Gen. 11.5. viz. an apostate, vile crew, who stand in direct opposition to [...], the Sons of God, as the faithful were called in the dayes of Enosh, as was before said.

How long the purity of Worship remained after this, is uncer­tain. This is most certain, that when God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees, Superstition, Idolatry, overspread all. At that time both his Father, and he, were Idolaters, Jos. 24.2.

9. This call of God to Abraham was effectual, he obeyes it, separates from the degenerate, Idolatrous World; constitutes a New-Church, sets up the pure Worship of God in his Family: Enjoyes more clear, full openings of Divine Mysteries than any before him. God enters into Covenant with him, institutes circumcision— See Gen. 12.3, 7, 8. & 13.15, 16. & 15.1, 5, 6. & 17.1, 2, 9. & 22.17, 18. So that the Church of God in Abraham's Family growes up in to greater glory, visibility, than before. Several cor­ruptions are not long after amongst them in Jacobs Family be­fore their going into Aegypt, which he reforms, Gen. 35.1, 2, 3, 4. They polluted themselves with Idolatry in the Land of Aegypt, Jos. 24.14. Ezek. 23.2, 3. (brought their Whordoms from thence, ver. 8. which they practised in the Wilderness, Exod. 32. (and never totally left till they were carried captive [Page] into Babylon): Nevertheless, the Lord casts them not off: but oh the wonder of Love! brings them from under their bonds, leads them to Mount-Sinai; makes a Covenant with them, gives them good Statutes and Judgments to walk by. And now that Church becomes as a City on a Hill, visible, conspicuous unto the Nations round about: is decked, adorned, with visible excellency, and glory▪ that her renown goes forth through the Nations, Ezek. 16.14. But wo, and alas! after all the grace of the Lord shewed to her, his wonders wrought for her, she quickly forgets, departs from him. Is more notorious for spiritual Whordoms, Wickedness, than all the Nations round about her: Yet God gives her not up, woes, allures her to return to him—. But all to no purpose, Israel (or the ten Tribes) is led Captive by Salmanassur: Judah (or the two Tribes) is not betterd by it; but though now and then under the conduct of some good Kings, a reformation is introduced; yet anon all's spoyled, marr'd again. Jehovah call's to return, but their ear is deaf, their hearts hardned, none obey his voice: He professes for all this, he knows not how to give them up, his bowels turn within him towards them, repentings are enkindled for them. Yet this affects them not, so that at last he is forced to send them into Babylon; yet doth not take off his love, care for them there, nor disregards them as a People unchurcht; looks upon them as his own in Covenant with him, brings them from thence to their own Land again. Then is a new, most absolute reformation be­gun, by Ezra, Nehemiah, &c. The Temple is rebuilt; the men of the great Synagogue instituted. A most diligent consideration of the exemplars of the Holy Scriptures is set upon. The word of God is sedulously Preached, Neh. 8.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. The wicked are excomunicated, Ezr. 4.2, 3. From the mixt People, there's a perfect separation, Ezr. chapters 9.10. Neh. ch. ult. So that the Church seems to be again comely, through the comeliness that God put upon her: But long abides not firm with him, pol­lutes his Worship, with the inventions, traditions of men; departs from the Doctrine he had delivered to her; particularly, the Doct­rine of the free Justification of a sinner before God; in opposition to which, they introduce justification by the works of the Law. In a word, they become as filthy, and abominable every way, as a people can well be▪ Nevertheless, God bears with them, their [Page] Church-state is not dissolved, they have their Temple, Ordinances, and even the most holy amongst them attend there, as Zachary, Elizabeth, Simeon. The Lord sends a Prophet to them, John (Elias in spirit) to reform, bring them back from their Apostasie. At last he sends his Son to reclaim them; Who▪ would have gathered them as a Chicken under his wings, but they would not. Him they refused, thrust away, by wicked hands, took, condemned, crucified, slew him; and now the measure of their Fa­thers iniquity being filled up, and the time appointed by Jehovah, to take down that Tabernacle, being fully come, and to set up ano­ther in the room of it by the Messiah, CHRIST, he puts a full period to it, apotomizes, cuts them off, perfectly unchurches them, and (at last) layes waste, destroyes their City, Temple, with an utter Destruction. Now was the total ruin of that Apo­statick Judaick Church. And to purpose, in capital letters, is Lo-ammi, and Loruhamah written upon them, viz. Ye are not my People, I have no mercy for you; and not so plain­ly at any time as now. 'Twere easie to make many remarks to the advantage of the present truth we are risen up in the de­fence of, from the foregoing discourse. The prudent Reader, can do it himself. To whom we leave it. The whole Church-politie of the Jews, being vertually dissolved at the death of Christ, a New-Church-state is introduced by him: New Churches formed according to his rule, model, new-institutions appointed by him, which 'tis the duty of those Churches to conform to.

Two things must here briefly be enquired into.

1. What a Gospel-Church, or an Instituted-Church of Christ is.

2. That such a Church is of the Institution of Christ.

As touching the first, A Cospel-Church is a Society of Be­lievers, once dead in trespasses, and sins; but now quickned by the Spirit, sanctified, justified, by the Free-Grace of God in Christ; illuminated by the same Spirit in the knowledge of his Will, se­parated from the World, and voluntarily joyned together for the exercise of the Communion of Saints in the due observation of all the Institutions, Ordinances of Christ. This description of a Gospel-Church is proved in every part of it, from the ensuing Scriptures, Eph. 2.1. And you hath he quickned who were dead in [Page] trespasses, and sins, ver. 5. When we were dead in sins, hath quickned us together with Christ. 1 Cor. 6.11. Ye are wash­ed, sanctified, justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Cor. 1.2. Unto the Church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be Saints. 2 Cor. 6.16, 17. What agreement hath the Temple of God with Idols? For ye are the Temple of the living God—Wherefore come out from amongst them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you. Heb. 3.1. Holy Brethren, partakers of the Heavenly calling. Jam. 1.18. Of his own will begat he us by the word of Truth. Rev. 1.20. The seven (Golden) Candlesticks which thou sawest are seven Churches, 1 Pet. 2.5. Eph. 2.21, 22, 23.

As touching the second, that such a Church was instituted by Christ, is evident,

1. From Christs appointment, and approbation of such a Church, Mat. 18.15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20.

2. Christ charges his Apostles, Mat. 28. to teach those, who should be converted by their Ministry, to observe whatever he commanded them. In pursuance of which charge, we finde, that as soon as any were converted to the Faith, by the direction of the Apostles, they were gathered into Church-Societies, Acts 2.41, 42, 47. 8.1. 11.26. 14.23, 27.

3. These are called the Churches of God, of Christ. Act. 20.28. 1 Cor. 1.2. & 10.32. 11.22. & 15.9. 2 Cor. 1.1. Gal. 1.13. 1 Tim. 3.5. Rom. 16.16. because of their institution, establish­ment by him.

4. The Apostles, in the Name, Authority of Christ, direct their Epistles to them as such. 1 Cor. 1.1. 2 Cor. 1.1. Gal. 1.2. Phil. 1.1. Col. 1.2. & 4.16. 1 Thes. 1.1. 2 Thes. 1.1. Eph. 1.1. compared with Acts 20.17. 1 Pet. 5.2. or unto particular persons, giving directions touching their carriage, deportment, and duty to­wards them. 1 Tim. 3.15. Tit. 1.5.

5. Christ calls them his Churches, Rev. 1.20.

6. Own's himself to be their Head, Husband, Lord, King; they his Body, Bride, House, Family — of which afterwards.

7. A great part of the Apostolick-writings consists in giving Pre­cepts, [Page] Exhortations, Counsels to guide, lead them in their duties to each other, in such a relation; and for their preservation in Puri­ty, and Order. Of which we shall have occasion particularly to make mention in the ensuing Discourse.

8. His special care of them.

9. The particular notice he takes of them, in the book of the Re­velations, sending particular Epistles to them; Exhorting, reproving, counselling, incouraging them; taking no notice of any that did not appertain to them, Rev. chapters 2. and 3. with much more that might be said, doth abundantly demonstrate that the Church described, was of the institution of Jesus Christ.

That the Ordinances practised in and amongst those Churches; such as Preaching the Word, Prayer, Baptism, breaking Bread, &c. were of the Appointment of Christ, will not be denied, se Act. 2.42. and 6.2. 1 Cor. 14.3. 2 Tim. 4.2. Heb. 13.7. Act. 6.4. and 13.2, 3. 1 Tim. 2.1. Mat. 28.19. and 26.26, 27. 1 Cor. 11.23.

ERRATA.

Reader, Some few mistakes in Printing, are here remarked; the rest being inconsiderable, are left to thee to amend.

IN the Epistle to the Reader, p. 10. l. 21. r. bloody. l. 36. abominable. p. 13. l. 3. hath. In the body of the Book, p. 7. l. 2. r. it's. l. 3. this. p. 16. l. 10. blot out, the. p. 17. l. 11. r. letter. p. 20. l. 34. persons. p. 21. l. 15 inasmuch. l. 17. that. p. 30. l. 14. their. p. 39. l. 5. blot out, are. p. 54. l. 8. r▪ 1 Job. p. 56. l. 32. apostacy. p. 63. l. 15. women. p. 66. l. 33. after much, r. as. p. 73. l. 30. tu es. p. 77. l. 19. increase. p. 79 l. 30 through­out. p. 85. l. 28. for, have. r. are. p. 114. l. 7. [...]. p. 117. l. 22. after have, add, said.

Gospel-Churches, A Standing ORDINANCE OF Jesus Christ.

CHAP. I.

Gospel-Churches an Institution of Christ, to continue to his next coming, demonstrated from the Appellations given in Scripture to such Churches. They are call'd, 1. The Kingdom of God. Why they are so call'd, open'd. Mark 9.1. Acts 1.3. and 19.8, 9. Explained. Several inferences from hence. A two-fold Kingdom, viz. of God, and of the Devil, and Antichrist. Several wayes Satan takes for the support of the Antichristian Kingdom. An Objection Answered. 2. A House built upon a Rock, Matth. 16.18. opened at large. Peter not the Rock, but Christ, pro­ved. The Gates of Hell, what they import. Satan's attempts [Page 2] by subtlety and power, to destroy the Church, invalid. An Ob­jection Answered. 3. The Kingdom of Heaven. Why the Gospel-Church-State is so call'd, An Objection Answered. 4. A Kingdom that cannot be shaken, Heb. 12.27, 28. explained. 5. The Ministration of the Spirit, 2 Cor. 3.7, 8. opened at large. 6. The Body of Christ. Gospel-Churches hereby inten­ded, proved. Ʋpon what accounts they are so call'd, shewn. Several inferences from hence demonstrating the continuation of them. 7. The Temple, Tabernacle, House, Building of the Lord. Ʋpon what accounts they are so call'd. An Objection Answer'd.

HAving already demonstrated what a par­ticular Church of Christ is, and that as such, 'tis one of the Gospel-institutions Commanded, Erected by him; i. e. 'Tis the Will of Christ that all believers (or­dinarily) should adjoyn themselves to some one or other such Church. That which is Incumbent on us further to Evince, is, that such Churches (or the Gospel-Church-State) with the Institutions, Ordinances, Worship thereunto Af­fixed, shall continue unto his next glorious Coming and King­dom; which we now Address our selves to the dispatch of.

Demonstration I.

The Appellations given in Scripture, to such a Church (or Churches) of Christ, do evidently evince the Truth here­of.

First, 'Tis call'd the Kingdom of God, Mar. 1.15. The King­dom of God is at hand: And Chap. 9.1. Till they have seen the Kingdom of God come with Power. He seems to have respect to the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit was poured down from on high on the Apostles, who were then endued with Power from above according to the promise of Christ to them: by which they went forth to preach the Gospel, plant Chur­ches, &c. Mar. 15.43. Who also waited for the Kingdom of [Page 3] God, i. e. the Gospel-ministration, Luke, 7.28. He that is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he: See Chap. 10.9. and 23.51. Joh. 3▪ 3, 5 Act. 1.3. And speaking of the things per­taining to the Kingdom of God, i. e. the Laws, Institutions, Rules, Orders, relating to the Churches. See Ch. 8.12. and 19.8, 9. — disputing, and perswading the things concerning The Kingdom of God — But when divers spake evil of that way: — What way? The way of Gospel-Ministrations; or the worship of God in a Gospel-day; which they spake evil of as Heretical (After the way which they call Heresie, so worship I the God of my Fathers, Act. 24.14.) Chap. 20 25▪ with 28. and 28.33, 34.

Upon what Accounts the Gospel-Church-State is call'd, The Kingdom of God, must a little be enquired into. 'Tis so call'd upon the Account,

1. Of its Glory, and Excellency. Persons, and things said to be of God, are therefore so said to be. As men of God, Jud. 13.6, 8. 1 Sam. 2.27. and 9.6. 1 Chron. 23.14. Hill of God, 1 Sam. 10.5, 10. Psal. 24.3. and 42.6. and 68.15. This mini­stration excels all that went before it, for excellency and glo­ry, 2 Cor. 3.7, 9, 10. (of which more anon.)

2. Of its Extract, and Original. There's nothing of man in it, 'tis all of God: given by the Father to Jesus Christ, who came into the World to reveal, and discover his Will touch­ing that matter, Joh. 1.14.

3. Of Believers open, visible subjection to, owning, ac­knowledging of God in their Obedience thereunto.

4. Of Gods care of it, protection over it, engagement to continue, support, maintain, uphold it to the end. Whence it evidently follows,

1. That there must be a continuance of this ministration of the Gospel, the Gospel-Church-State, with all the Laws, In­stitutions, Ordinances, Orders, thereto appertaining, till it be suspended, abrogated by Jehovah. Who hath Power, Authority over his Kingdom? or can presume to disannul, suspend any thing he hath therein Instituted; but by such an Act he advanceth himself above God, and so proclaims himself to be the An­tichrist that was to come? Denyes the Father, and that supreme [Page 4] ?? Authority, from whence the original of the Gospel-ministra­tion doth flow.

2. The veracity, faithfulness, wisdom, power of God, are all engaged for the support, and upholdment of this Ministra­tion. 'Tis of him, from him: He's oblig'd upon that foot of account, to exert, and put forth the perfections of his Nature for the upholdment of it. What Devils, beasts of Prey, yea, what inward lusts, or corruptions in the Saints themselves, shall be able to evert, bring to nought that Kingdom he's obli­ged to support, and continue?

3. That there must be a law produced from this High and Soveraign Lawgiver, for the suspension, perioding of this Ministration, or it abides in force, and will do so, whether we be subject to it, or not. Our wills, fancies, humors, imagina­tions, any pretended Revelation will not justify any persons Non-conformity thereunto. Let any Statute-law, from Jeho­vah be produced for it's suspension, dissolution, and the Con­troversie is at an end. Where hath God said, My Kingdom shall continue only for a hundred, two, three, or a thousand years, and then period; after which I'll leave my Children to act as they please, with respect to any Laws, or Institutions rela­ting to it? If there be altum silentium, a deep silence with re­spect to any such Laws, it becomes, and greatly concerns persons to take heed, that they withdraw not themselves from, oppose not his Soveraignty herein, lest they be found fighters against God.

Besides, 'tis not inconsiderable, that there are but two King­doms in the World.

1. The Kingdom of God; which, as hath been shew'd (as to visibility) most eminently consists in Gospel-ministrati­ons.

2. The Kingdom of the Devil, and Antichrist, (who receives his Seat, Power, and great Authority from the Dragon, or Devil, Rev. 13.2.) and to one of these we must needs be visi­bly subject. Two ways Satan takes for the support of the An­tichristian Kingdom;

1. The one is by establishing Laws forreign, yea, contrary to the Laws of Jehovah, and compelling all to subject to them. The other is,

[Page 5]2. By casting a slight, contempt, upon the Laws of Divine appointment: and whether the one way, or the other, he pre­vail upon poor souls, he hath his end; for Jehovah's Sove­raign Authority is thereby trampled upon.

Objection. If it be Objected, that the legal Ministration is call'd, The Kingdom of God; and Christ tells the Jews neverthe­less, that it shall be taken from them (and we know that an actual Period is put thereunto) Mat. 21.43. so that the Church-state being call'd The Kingdom of God, is no Argument to prove its continuance.

Answer. The Answer is easie, 1. It's granted, that the Mo­saic Ministration is so call'd, and that because it had it's Ori­ginal from God, who descending upon Mount Sinai, by the Ministry of Angels, gave forth the Law, with the Statutes, Judg­ments, and Ordinances. 2. It's also granted, that the Whole of that Ministration hath expired for above this One Thou­sand Six Hundred Years. But 3. There were frequent intima­tions in the Scripture, that it should so expire, Deut. 18.15. 18. Psal. 40.6. Isa. 65.17. Hag. 2.6, 21. (These present Hea­vens, or Judaic Church-state, with all the Institutions, Ordi­nances thereto appertaining will I shake, so as to remove, to­tally abolish.) Mat. 24.2. (The Temple to which the Judaic Solemn-Worship was affix'd, shall be utterly destroyed; so the whole of that service thereto appertaining, cease.) Let but one the like instance of the purpose of God, for the de­termination of the New-Testament-Ministration before the next glorious personal Appearance of Christ, be produced, and there's an end of this Controversy. 4. They were not the Powers of the world, nor the declensions, apostacies of the Subjects of that Ministration, that put a Period to it; but the Act of God himself, the Soveraign thereof. 5. Whatever the corruptions of the Church-state were (as they were very great) 'tis the commendation of the Lords poor people that they con­tinued in it, as Zachary, Elizabeth, &c. because in so doing, they testify their subjection to the Lord, who Instituted it. 6. Nor was it actually removed, but by the introduction of a new, more spiritual, sublime Ministration, set on foot by Jesus, the Son of God, fore-prophesied of, as the great Prophet of [Page 6] the Church, who was to period that Ministration, and set up another; to whom we are charged to attend in all things.

Secondly, Gospel-Churches (or the Gospel-Church-State) are said to be a House built upon a Rock, Mat. 7.25. and 16.18. Ʋpon this Rock I will build my Church. 'Tis necessary that we En­quire;

I. What we are to understand by this Rock.

1. The Papists tell us, that by this Rock, we are to under­stand Peter. The vanity of which pretension, is evident: For, 1. 'Tis not ( [...], but [...]) up­on This Peter, but upon This Rock. 2. Peter no where in any of his Epistles asserts himself to be the Rock upon which the Church is Built, nor do any of the Apostles in any of their E­pistles so affirm of him. He accounts himself but as an Apo­stle of Jesus Christ, 1 Pet. 1.1. [...], a Co-Elder (with the rest of the Presbyters, or Elders) 1 Pet. 5.1. 3. Christ is asserted to be the alone Rock, Foundation of his Church, 1 Pet. 2.4, 5, 6, 7. 1 Cor. 3.11. in opposition to all others. 4. He himself, as well as other Believers, was built upon the Rock, which bare him, and not he it, or the Church. 5. Paul expres­ly asserts, 2 Cor. 11.5. that he was not inferior to the very chiefest Apostles; which had been false, if Peter had been con­stituted the Rock upon which the Church was built. 6. If he were the Rock when he denied Christ (as he did dreadfully) and at last fell asleep, What became of the Rock, Foundation of the Church? But this vain pretension is hardly worth our consi­dering; nor should it be granted, would it at all conduce to the support of the Roman Papal Synagogue, to which good ser­vice it's design'd. Therefore,

2. By the Rock, we are to understand the Lord Jesus Christ, the Mediator of the New-Covenant. He is expresly so call'd, 1 Cor. 10.4. Upon what account, is not to our pur­pose at present to Enquire.

II. What we are to understand by the Church.

1. Not particular Believers in a scattered, dispersed State.

But 2. Saints gather'd together in the order, and fellowship of the Gospel. This is evident, as if written with the beams [Page 7] of the Sun; for to particular Believers, as such, in their scattee red dispersed State, the Keyes of the Kingdom of Heaven, ths Power of binding and loosing, doth not appertain; But to thi, Church (congregated) it doth, v. 19.

III. What is signified by the gates of Hell; which 'tis said-shall not prevail against this Church.

First, The subtlety, policy of Satan. Over the gates of the City, was wont to be the Council-house. Let all the Devils in Hell sin in Council against the Lords Church, they shall not be able, by all their cunning, subtlety, to prevail against it. The sub­tle attempts of Satan to undermine, destroy this Church, have been (are) various. To enumerate particulars, is not our pre­sent design: 'Tis enough, that our Lord assures us, whatever they are, they shall prove ineffectual. Yet perhaps it may not be altogether impertinent to mention some few of his subtleties, with respect to this matter. He hath then attempted to destroy it in subtlety,

1. With respect to Doctrin; labouring to undermine, de­stroy the fundamental Doctrines of the Gospel, thereby sub­verting the Faith of some. His attempts against the Person of Christ; sometimes endeavouring to create a mis-belief, with respect to his Eternal Deity (to which John opposes himself in his Gospel, by impregnable, undeniable Arguments); at other times, to the verity of his Humanity (against which the same Apostle advanceth himself in his Epistle, 1 Joh. 1.) his designs against the Offices of Christ were also early in the Apostle's days, particularly against his Priestly Office, labouring to in­troduce a justification by the Works of the Law, or, as it were by the works of the Law, Rom. 9.32. viz. partly by Christ, and partly by Works, or internal Sanctification. A design subtilly managed, and carried on by the bloody Jesuits and others, at this day (as is known); to which the Apostles in their Epistles, and other Worthies since, have oppos'd themselves. But though he hath hereby drawn off (at seasons) not a few, from the simplicity of the Gospel; yet there hath all along been a Testimony born in the Churches against him, which he hath not been able to withstand, or repel.

2. With respect to Worship, and that two ways:

[Page 8]1. By introducing humane Observances into the service of God, and Christ, so polluting, defiling it, that he accounts it not his Worship. And hereby for a season, he almost totally prevailed upon the body of Professors of Christani­ty. So that the whole world (as 'twere) wondred after this Beast, Rev. 13.3. And the whorish Woman, or false Church, being her self bewitched with this intoxicating Cup of Forni­cation, she held it forth to the Nations (with External pomp and grandeur) to drink of it; and they generally drank of it, and were drunk, and mad with it, Rev. 17.2, 3, 4, 5. Yet all along Christ had his Remnant, that witnes'd against these Abominations, (amongst whom the true Church-State was con­tinued, and the purity of Ordinances remained) who also Seal­ed their Testimony with their Blood.

2. By reproaching, reviling, contemning, despising the pure Institutions of Christ, as poor, low, and carnal, pretending to a more sublime, high, spiritual Ministration. As some even in the Apostles days, and since. And herein Satan eminently appeared as an Angel of Light, withdrawing persons from the fellowship, wayes of the Gospel, under the pretence of greater Spirituality, Heavenliness, leaving the Word of the Beginning, and pressing after Perfection. A brave Pretext! wherewith the minds of many have been (are) not a little taken, ensna­red. But neither this way hath he been able to destroy the Church, which hath weather'd this point also, with, and prevail'd against, him: Being from its own experience (as from the Scripture) ascertain'd, that the more they are in a conscien­tious Observance of the Institutions of Christ, the more do they grow up into the Spirit, Life, and Power of divine things. Their spiritual progress, and growth in Grace, depen­ding singly upon Jehovah's Blessing; which is promised solely (and they meet with it) in their conscientious attendment on him in divine Appointments.

Secondly, The force, power, tyranny, oppressive, destroying practices of the Wicked One, are also intended by these Gates. The armoury of the City was over the gates of it. But in this forcible attaque of the Church, he hath also fail'd. He did his uttermost by bloody cruelty during the first Persecutions. But [Page 9] what was the issue? The executioners of his wrath the Ro­man-Pagan-Emperors, had Torments within them, perpetually gnawing them, whilst the Holy Ones that kept the Commande­ments of Jesus were fill'd with Peace and Joy, and triumph'd over them in the Spirit, and Power of Jesus both living and dying. The vengeance of God eminently wrought on their no­torious Persecutors, whil'st the blessing, and good will of him that dwelt in the Bush, was with these; and the more they were Persecuted, the more they grew: So that it became a Maxim, Sanguis Martyrum semen Ecclesiae; The Blood of the Martyrs, the seed of the Church. And Satan not being able to hold it in the Roman-Pagan-State, enters into the Papal-Antichristian-Monarchy, and hath therein hector'd, and ran­ted, breathing forth nothing but threatnings and slaughters a­gainst the Saints of the Most-High, who have the Command­ments of God, and Testimony of Jesus. Millions of the Lords poor People have been destroyed by this Roman-Anti­Christian-Beast in days past: & of late not a few; In the Massa­cres of Paris, Ireland, and the Vallies of Piedmont, &c. Not to mention the Bonfires they made of the bodies of our Brethren, in the bloody Mary's days: Which (notwithstanding their haughty confidence) they'l shortly pay dearly for. The judge­ments of the Lord God Almighty will speedily come upon the great Whore, for these cruelties; his Wrath will consume Her utterly. But what's the Issue? The number of the Lambs-followers are multiplied; their faith, confidence, and courage heightned. And let the Pope, and that bloody Crew, know, that they are ready to withstand him in his next attaque, and advance against them, being encourag'd thereunto, by that great Cloud of worthy Witnesses they are encompas'd about with; and that plerophory of assurance, that in this last At­tempt, he, with his whole Party, will stumble, fall, go into Perdition never to appear more.

The sum is, 1. The Church is built upon a Rock; who then is able to evert, overturn it? What winds, blasts, storms, what ragings of Waves, Seas, can over-whelm, destroy it? Satan hath fail'd in all his Attempts hitherto against it, and prov'd in-successful. 2. Christ hath engaged that it shall con­tinue [Page 10] un-shaken, immovable, notwithstanding all attaques by fraud, or force. Is he not faithful? Will he not make good his Word? Can he depart from it? Wants he Will, or Power to accomplish what he hath promised? What more derogatory to Christ, impious, wicked, can be Asserted?

Object. But Churches may Apostatize, and so dis-Church themselves: They may provoke the Lord by his judgments to do so. The first, is notoriously Evident in the Church of Rome. The latter manifestly true with respect to other Chur­ches.

Answ. Both the first, and second, is granted. But,

1. The promise of Christ cannot fail. Therefore,

2. The defection of this, or that particular Church, the removing the Candlestick from it, the taking away its Church-state was never denyed by us. Such a dispensation is not in the least contrary to the promises of Christ, Mat. 16. But,

3. A total Apostasy of all the Churches of Christ in the World, with the suspension, cessation, of the Ordinances of the Gospel-thereupon, is what is impleded by us, as diametri­cally opposite to this promise of our Lord.

Two things are also heedfully to be attended to,

1. That we un-Church not a Church, when that is not to be found upon it; for which the Lord hath declared they are un-Churched; nor before he doth un-Church them. Some Errors in doctrine, formallity, luke-warmness, depar­ture from first-love, doth not un-Church a Church rightly Constituted. These things were found in the Churches of Corinth, Ephesus, Laodicea, &c. yet at the same time true Churches of Christ: The latter are own'd, writ to by Christ as such, as the former was by the Apostle of the Gentiles, when yet these evils were found amongst them, 1 Cor. 1. 2 Cor. 2. Rev. ch. 23.

2. That 'tis the Duty of particular Believers, upon the un-Churching a Church, to joyn themselves to some other Church; or if a number sufficient of themselves so to do, to form themselves into a body, or Church of Christ; for otherwise they disobey, and offer an open affront to the au­thority of Christ in that great Gospel-appointment of his, and [Page 11] so indeed lift up themselves against his Kingly Soveraignty over them.

Thirdly, This Church-state is represented under the Notion of the Kingdom of Heaven, [...], that Kingdom of Heavens, Mat. 13.24, 31, 33, 44, 45, 47. & 25.1. The Kingdom of Heaven shall be likned unto ten Virgins, &c. And it wants not its weight, that this Kingdom of Heaven, or Gospel-Church-State (notwithstanding the declension, drowsiness, sleepiness, of the subjects of it, or Virgin-professors, visibly Espoused to Christ, in respect of their subjection to his Institutions, 2 Cor. 11.2.) is expresly affirm'd to continue unto the coming of our Lord, v. 6, 7, 10. And at midnight there was a Cry made, Behold the Bridegroom (Christ) cometh, go ye out to meet Him. Then all those Virgins arose, and trimmed their Lamps, &c. And while they went to buy, the Bridegroom came, and they that were ready, went in with him to the Marriage, and the door was shut.

I. Why the Gospel-Church-State is represented under the No­tion of the Kingdom of Heaven, must a little be enquir'd into. 'Tis so upon the account,

1. Of its Original from thence. 'Tis not of man, but from Heaven, as was John's Doctrin, Baptism, Ministry.

2. Of its supereminent Glory; whatever persons account of it; 'tis of Heaven, heavenly, beautiful, glorious.

3. Of the design of God in the Institution, Erection of it, viz. to lead Persons to Heaven, Eternal Life.

4. Of its Stability, Duration. Heavenly things are stable, abiding. The Kingdoms of this world are changing, muta­ble; the Kingdom of Heaven fixed, permanent.

II. That none but He who dwells in Heaven, is higher than the Highest; who is the alone, Supreme Soveraign of this King­dom, hath Power to alter the Frame of it, put a Period to it. The Devil hath no Power, or Authority in it. He's indeed styl'd the Prince of this World, Joh. 14.30. the Prince of the Power of the Air, Eph. 2.2. The whole World is said to be in sub­to him, 1 Joh. 5.19. ( [...]) He hath a Presidency, Authority in the Anti-christian Kingdom, is the Head of it, is Worshipt in it. The Devil gave him (the Beast, [Page 12] the Pope) his Power, Rev. 13.2, 4. And the Anti-Christians are expresly said to Worship Devils, Rev. 9.20. because they Worship Idols of Gold, Silver, &c. A Worship Instituted, introduced at first by them. But with respect to the Kingdom of Heaven, he hath nothing to do, nor can he by any of his Wiles, Strength, cause it to pass away. The same may be said, concerning the sons of men. They may 'tis true advance against it; attempt to shake, remove it, (as they have done, and do with all their force, and cunning) but 'tis a Kingdom so far above them, so supported, strengthned by the King of Heaven, that they never succeed in their Attempts. Vain, ri­diculous are their Consultations, Aggregations, together in or­der hereunto. Can they pull the Stars out of the Firmament? Stop the Sun in its Course? Turn it into blackness, dark­ness? Pull it from the place God hath Ordained for it? Are not all Attempts of such a Nature worthy to be scorned, derided at, as acts of the greatest Folly, and desperate Madness? Such are the advances of the Anti-Christians against this State, King­dom: Whilst God sits in the Heavens, he will laugh them to Scorn, and have them in Derision. There must first be a Power, Authority above God's, before this Kingdom can be brought to a Dissolution by any, save he that Erected it.

Object. But doth not God say, that he will create new-Hea­vens, and a new-Earth; and the former shall not be remembred, nor come into mind, Isa. 65.17. And the Apostle Peter assures us 2 Pet. 3.7, 10, 12, 13. that the Heavens that now are, are kept in store, reserv'd unto Fire, &c. that there is a time in which the Heavens shall pass away with a great Noise, &c. They shall be dissolv'd; that the Saints look for New-Heavens.

Answ. 1. Dato non Concesso, granting for Disputation's-sake, that by Heavens, we are to understand a Church-state (per­haps somewhat else is intended in the places under considera­tions, viz. the purifying, delivering the Creation from that vanity, corruption, to which 'twas subjected by reason of Sin, the Introduction of the Restitution of all things by Jesus, Act. 3.21.) yet,

2. It doth not yet appear, nor is it in hast like to be prov­ed, [Page 13] that by the Heavens that are to pass away, more is to be understood, than the removing of the Judaic Church-state; which indeed passed away, and was melted down by fervent heat, when the Temple to which 'twas affixt, was consumed with Fire, not long after Peter writ that Epistle. The New-Heavens spoken of, may perhaps signify the Gospel-Church-State; there's not a tittle spoken of their Passing away, but the contrary, Isa. 65.22. But

3. That we may give to this Objection (such as it is) the greatest weight it's capable of, Let it further be granted, that by the Heavens in Peter, which shall Pass away, is to be understood the Gospel-Church-State; and that Isaiah, and Peter speak of a New-Church-State which shall succeed that▪ The first Heavens Pass not away till the consuming Fire is kind­led; nor is it in the Power of man to set Fire to them, to cause them to cease to be; as the Creation of the New-Heavens is the peculiar Act of God; so is the dissolution of the Old.

Fourthly. This Church-State is represented under the Notion of A Kingdom which cannot be shaken, moved, Heb. 12.27, 28. Wherefore, we receiving a Kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have Grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reve­rence, and godly fear. A few things must be inquired into, viz.

I. What we are to understand by this Kingdom?

Answ. The Gospel-Church-State we are discoursing of. This is Evident, for,

1. 'Tis a Kingdom introduced immediately upon the shaking of the Heaven, so as to remove the things shaken, i. e. upon the putting a period to the Judaic-Church-State, with the re­moving of all the carnal Ordinances thereunto appertaining. When God gave forth the Law upon mount Sinai, his voice shook the Earth, v. 26. But then was the solemn, visible be­ginning, or creation of their Heaven, or Church-State, which now is shaken by the death of Christ; so that 'tis virtually remov'd, and Saints are no longer to be subject to it.

2. 'Tis a Kingdom introduced by Christ's speaking from Hea­ven, v. 25. or of his establishment as coming from the bosom [Page 14] of the Father, and declaring his mind to the Sons of Men. Which can be nothing else, but the Gospel-oeconomy, or mi­nistration introduced by him.

3. 'Tis a Kingdom which they, the Jews (believers at least amongst them) were [...], then receiving, or under­taking, subjecting to, which was the Ministration spoken of: And is indeed one part of the design of the Apostle in this Epistle, to perswade them fully to embrace, or receive, with the rejection of Mosaic antiquated observances.

4. 'Tis a Kingdom with respect to which they are said to serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear, v. 28. Gr. [...]—which though in the general it denotes to serve in any kind of work or service; yet its special signifi­cation, as used by the Seventy in the Old Testament, and Christ and his Apostles in the New, is, to worship God in wayes of his own institution, and appointment.

II. In what sense it's affirm'd concerning this Kingdom, and the things appertaining to it, that it cannot be shaken, moved? That those things which cannot be shaken may remain. The words are variously rendred; That those things may remain which are immovable, V.L. Which are not to be moved, Ar. Which are not to be shaken, Aeth. Which are void of motion, Syr. The words are [...]. The word [...], signifies to be moved, or shaken, as with Winds or Tempests; as the ship in the Sea with storms.— The Seventy use it when the earth is said to be moved, 2 King. 22.16. And the Pillars of it shaken, Job. 9.6. to be by force removed out of its place, 1 Chron. 16.30 Job 41.15. Job 9.28. with respect to which the Gospel-Ministration, with the Ordinances of it, are said to be [...], Immova­bles, things that cannot (are not to) be removed taken down: Storms and Tempests it meets with, but it abides firm and immovable under all.

A Kingdom which cannot be moved; which is also diversly rendred, an immovable Kingdom, V.L. A Kingdom which is not shaken, Ar. Which cannot be shaken, Aeth. The word is [...], immoveable, unshaken, firm, stable, that [Page 15] bears up against winds and tydes. The most rough winds, impetuous storms, waves, cannot shake, sink it.

The meaning is, the Mosaic Ministration, the Judaic Church-State, was liable to shakings; 'twas at last so to be shaken, as to be utterly removed, taken out of the way; but this King­dom, the oeconomy of the Gospel, the Gospel-Church-State is not such. 'Tis true, it shall at last period, but not by any shakings that shall dissolve it, as the former to make way for a new, and better Ministration: It shall continue immoveable till it run into, and be swallowed up in the Glorious Visible King­dom of the Messiah, or New-Jerusalem-State.

Fifthly, The Church-State is called, the Ministration of the Spi­rit, [...], That Ministration of the Spirit, 2 Cor. 3.7, 8.

That by the Ministration of the Spirit, we are to under­stand the whole Gospel-oeconomy, or Ministration, the Doct­rine, Worship, Institutions thereof, is evident,

1. From its Antithesis unto the Ministration of the Letter, or legal Mosaic observances, call'd the Ministration of Death, and Condemnation, v. 6, 7, 9. which the Apostle tells us was done away; now 'twas that whole Ministration, as made up of Institutions, Ordinances peculiar to it, that was done away.

2. 'Twas such a Ministration as the Apostles were Mini­sters of, v. 6. i. e. which they Preach'd, declared from Jesus Christ, according to his charge to them, Matth. 28.20. and were ministring to him, and the Saints in. 'Twas not the Doctrine of the Gospel, inward purity, practick Godliness on­ly, that they declared as the mind of Christ; but the Worship thereof, institutions of his appointment thereunto appertaining. No sooner were Persons converted to the Faith of Christ, but they were gathered by the Apostles into a Church-state; Acts 2.41, 42, 46. and 9.31. and 11.22, 26. and 14.23, 27. and 15.41. and 16.5. and 20.28. This is too evident to be denied.

3. 'Twas such a Ministration, Wherein as in a Glass with open face (compared to those▪ vail'd, dark sights they had in their Passover, Sacrifices, &c. under the Mosaic Ministration) they [Page 16] beheld the Glory of the Lord, and were changed into the same Image from Glory to Glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord, v. 18. The first Primitive believers, 'twill not be denied, attended upon the Lord in Gospel-Institutions. 'Tis evident they did so from the Scriptures but now quoted. In their so doing they be­held the glory of the Lord, had choice discoveries, displayes of it; grew up into a Conformity unto him in their conscien­tious waiting on him herein. And whatever any say, thousands of believers at this day, that are found waiting upon the Lord in his own institutions, such as the Church-Fellowship, Break­ing Bread, Prayer, &c. meet with presence, sights of Glory, Divine Transformations, renewals in the Spirit of their minds. When any are found in institutions shaken in their minds, touching them as the institutions of Christ, that by virtue of His Soveraign Authority, Command, they ought to attend to, 'tis no wonder if they see not his Glory, know no­thing of his transforming power through them. They come not in faith, sanctify not his name in what they do; therefore meet not with his blessing.

Quest. The Question is upon what accounts this Ministration is called, The Ministration of the Spirit?

Answ. 'Tis so called with respect.

1. To it's Super-eminent, Super-excelling Glory: For Excel­lency, Glory, far superiour unto any Ministration that went before it. What compare is there, betwixt Spirit, and Let­ter; that which hath life in it, and that which hath none?

2. To the Communication of the Spirit through it, by it. Gal. 3.2. Received ye the Spirit by the Works of the Law, or by the hearing of Faith?

3. To its being given forth by Christ through the Holy Spi­rit, Acts 1.2. The Lord Jesus being constituted by the Father, Mediator of the New-Covenant, Prince, Ruler, Priest, Pro­phet to the Church; was to reveal the whole of his mind, and Will, to them as such: For his inablement whereunto the Father pours out of the Spirit without measure upon him; through this Spirit he gave Commandments to his Apostles relating to Gospel-Worship, with a charge to them to Communicate them to others. Matth. 28. ult. Which also they did.

[Page 17]4. To that Glorious effusion of the Spirit in the day of Pentecost, Act. 2. at the beginning, or first Publick setting up of this Ministration.

5. To evince that 'tis the highest, last Ministration of in­stitutions, or visible Ordinances, that Saints are to expect: that when its taken down, there shall be no more (nor indeed will there be need of any;) what Ministration can be sup­posed to be higher than the Ministration of the Spirit? What can supersede it? Yea, the Apostle fairly intimates that it shall so remain, not to pass away as the Ministration of the ter, or Law that went before it, 2 Cor. 3.7. which was to be done away. For if that which is done away was Glorious, much more that which Remaineth is Glorious. And 'tis not to be passed by in silence, that the Apostle makes part of the excelling Glory (above that of the Law) of the Gospel-Mini­stration to consist in the duration of it. If that which is done away, was glorious; much more that which remaineth, [...], that fixed, abiding, unalterable Ministration.

6. The managery of all the Worship, Ordinances, apper­taining to this Ministration, is to be in the Spirit. With­out whom all that's done, is not, will never be acceptable to God.

7. The means of its support, upholdment, continuance, progress, is the same Spirit, 2 Cor. 10.4. The Weapons of our warfare are not Carnal, but Mighty through God—. Antichrist hath other wayes to support, promote his filthy Worship, senseless traditions, ridiculous fopperies, viz. the arm of flesh, Horrid, Bloody Plots, Conspiracies, to massacre, destroy, cut off, such as stand in the way of his devices: Prisons, Gib­bets, Stakes, Flames to consume, devour such as refuse to drink of the Cup of his Fornications; but, Lex nova non se vindicat ultore gladio, the Law of Christ knows no such wayes, methods for its support, increase. 'Tis the Spirit, Power of God by which it is (ever was) maintained: a neglect of whom; and turning aside to the Power, Wisdom of Man, warring af­ter the flesh, was the bane of Christianity, and the first spring off the Antichristian apostacy.

Three things necessarily follow from hence.

[Page 18]1. That a slighting, undervaluing, withdrawing from Gospel-Institutions, is a slighting of the most glorious Ministra­tion, that ever was set on foot in the World.

2. 'Tis a contempt, undervaluing of the Holy Spirit of the Lord; whose they are, and from whom they did proceed. Let persons pretensions be what they will, it cannot be other­wise. Gospel-Institutions are of, through the Spirit; to slight, these is to cast contempt upon him from whom they are.

3. That the Spirit is obliged to support, maintain them a­gainst all oppositions. He remains with his People for ever for that end, John 16.13. Howbeit when the Spirit of Truth is come, he shall guide you into all Truth. v. 14. He shall Glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. And he hath actually done so hitherto, keeping alive a blessed witness, testi­mony to them, for them, in his called, chosen witnesses more or less, in every day. Though sometimes this their testimony hath cost them dear; viz. loss of Goods, Enjoyments, Friends, Liberty, Life it self; yet they have Gloryed, Triumph'd un­der all through this Spirit of Glory, and of God that rested upon them, and enabled them in this work. The very truth is, as the great controversie of Christ, with the Nations of the Europe­an World, hath been upon the account of their Spiritual for­nications, or false worship; so the great controversy of Anti­christ against the Lord's Children, hath been, is, and will be, till he be destroy'd upon the account of their abiding by the institutions of Christ, Rev. 12.17, The Dragon (or Devil) was wroth with the Woman, (the Church) and went to make War with the remnant of her seed, which keep the Commandments of God.—Commandments! What Commandments? Such as relate to what is obvious to the eye of the Devils Instru­ments, viz. Gospel-Institutions (of which afterwards.)

Sixthly, Gospel-Churches are said to be the Body of Christ, Rom. 12.4, 5. But as we have many members in one body, and all mem­bers have not the same Office: So we being many are one body in Christ, and every one members of another. 1 Cor. 12.12. 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, (Christ [Page 19] the head, and Saints the members make but one Christ Mystick.) v. 27. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in Particular. Eph. 4.15, 16. The Head Christ from whom the whole body fitly joyn'd together,—maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of it self in Love.

In which places the Church is called a Body, the Body of Christ. Two things are briefly to be enquired into;

1. What we are to understand by the Church?

2. Upon what account it's called the Body of Christ?

I. As touching the first, I shall not run over the various accep­tions of the word Church in the Scripture, (I have done it else­where.) That in every one of the places instanc'd, in a particular instituted Church of Christ, is intended, is evident. For,

1. Paul directs his Epistles to them as such. Those whom he stiles the Church in the beginning of his Epistles, 1 Cor. 1.2. or beloved of God, call'd to be Saints, Rom. 1.7. (i. e. the particular Church at Rome, Rom. 16.1, 21.) Or the Saints which are at Ephesus, the Faithful in Christ Jesus, Eph. 1.1. (i. e. that particular Church there, Rev. 2.1.) He afterwards calls the Body of Christ in the places fore-quoted.

2. Such a Church is intended, amongst which a Schism may be, 1 Cor. 12.25. but Schism is entirely in one Church, among the members of one particular Society.

3. 'Tis such a Church as hath Officers set, and placed a­mong them, 1 Cor. 12.28, 29. see Act. 18.8, 9, 10. 1 Cor. 3. 21, 22. These are placed of God in particular Churches, re­late to them as such, Act. 14.23. and 15.2, 4, 6, 22, 23. and 16.4. and 20.17. and 21.18. Tit. 1.5. Jam. 5.14. Act. 20.28.

II. Upon what account this Church is called the Body of Christ, must nextly be considered. 'Tis so called, because,

1. Of the forming, fashioning of Christ▪ Particular Churches (whatever is pretended) may not be modified, formed, fashio­ned according to the wills, humors, or lusts of men; but accor­ding to the Type, or Pattern of them given forth by Jesus. He shall build the Temple of the Lord, Zach. 6.12.

2. Of their Union, with relation to the Lord Jesus. The Union betwixt Head and Body, is a real, near Union; can­not be separated, but by the Destruction of the whole.

[Page 20]3. Of Christ's Love to, care of, defence over it. The Head is careful of the Body—Nor can it be supposed with­out the highest advance against the Faithfulness, Wisdom, Love of the Lord Jesus, that he should not be so to his Church.

Three things necessarily follow from hence;

1. That Christ is obliged to preserve his Gospel-Church-state, in some particular Churches who may glorifie him, in their professed subjection thereto. They are his Body: now every one will nourish, cherish, his own Body.

2. That therefore this Church-state, in some particular Chur­ches, is preserved by Jesus Christ. If it be not, he's unfaithful, fills not up that relation he stands in to his Body, the Church. Besides, if he preserve it not, 'tis either for want of Love, or Power so to do. The first cannot be asserted; for no man yet hated his own flesh, but loves, nourisheth, cherishes it; nor the second; for all power in Heaven and Earth is given to Him.

3. If the Church-state be not continued; then Christ hath now no body, is a head without a body. For they are Saints, as walking in such a state, viz. the Order and fellow­ship of the Gospel, that are so called, as I have proved.

Seventhly, Gospel-Churches are stiled The Temple, Tabernacle, House, Building of the Lord. 1 Cor. 3.16. Know ye not, that ye are the Temple of the Living God. 2 Cor. 6.16. Ye are the Temple of the Living God. Rev. 13.6. And he opened his mouth in Blasphemies against God, to Blaspheme his Name, and his Tabernacle. Prov. 9.1. Wisdom hath builded her House. (i. e. Christ hath done so, Builded, Planted, his Churches) She hath hewen out her seven Pillars. Christ's House (or Churches) is said to be built upon seven Pillars, to point out its sure, and stable Foundation. Heb. 3.6. Whose House are we. 1 Cor. 3.9. Ye are God's Building. 1 Pet. 2.5. Ye also as lively Stones are built up a Spiritual House. Saints are the House, building of Christ saith a reverend, and learned Author, upon a treble account;

1. Of their peusons. In them he dwells really by his Spirit, Eph. 2.20, 21, 22. 2 Cor. 3.16. and 6.19. John 14.17.

2. Of their being compact together in Church-Order, ac­cording to his institution, whereby they are built up, cemented, [Page 21] united, and become an House, like the Tabernacle, or Tem­ple of God, Eph. 4.16. Col. 2.19.

3. Of their Joynt-Worship performed in that order; wherein, and whereby he also dwells among them, or is pre­sent with them unto the Consummation of all things, Rev. 21.3. Mat. 28.20.

This must be a little further considered.

Saints Congregated together in the Fellowship of the Gos­pel, are his Temple, Tabernacle, House, Building, (in a scattered divided state, they cannot strictly be so call'd) and so deno­minated in Scripture, with respect to the Tabernacle; Temple of Old, that were the Lords Building, viz. Built by his Com­mand, express direction in every part of them. These were Types of Gospel-Churches.

Now insomuch as the Temple of Old was the most consi­derable type hereof; Let's a little consider upon what ac­counts Gospel-Churches are so call'd, with respect to the Buil­ding.

They are so upon various accounts.

1. The Temple of Old was built of precious, hewen-stone, ready prepared for the building, 1 King 5.17, 18. and 6.7. Gospel-Churches are made up of Living-stones, formed, prepared, as fit materials for this Royal Building, 1 Pet. 2.4, 5.

2. That was built by Solomon, an Eminent Type of Christ. These by Christ himself, Zach. 6.12. (of which af­terward.)

3. That was renowned for its Magnificence, Excellency, and Glory: These however debased, reproached, by one, and ano­ther, shall be so, Isa. 60.13.

4. That had in it, the Ark, the Mercy-Seat—all Types of Christ, and the special presence of Jehovah. These have most eminently the presence of the Lord with them, Mat. 18.20. 2. Cor. 6.16. Rev. 1.13, 20. and 2.1.

5. Nothing unclean might come into the Temple: nor any impure, unholy persons, into the Churches of Christ. If any such privily creep in, when discover'd, they are to be ejected, cast out.

[Page 22]6. There was the [...], The Daughter of the Voice, the Answer of God; who spake unto the people from the O­racle. The secret voice, and teachings of God is amongst these, Isa. 8.16. The Vial-Angels have light into their work in the Temple (or Gospel-Churches); for out of it they come, when they address themselves to it, Rev. 15.5, 6.

7. In the Temple every one spake of his Glory, Psal. 29.9. in and amongst these is he praised, Eph. 3.21.

8. All the solemn Worship of God was of old affixt to the Temple: 'Tis now to Gospel-Churches.

9. His special care, protection, was over his Temple to pre­serve, defend it. So 'tis over his Churches, Hence is their continuance, notwithstanding the furious, various advances of Men and Devils against them.

10. He severely punish'd the violaters, destroyers of his Temple, Jer. 50.28. and 51.11. He hath done, will do so, with respect to such as attempt the ruine, destruction of these.

Five things evidently follow from what we have been dis­coursing touching this matter.

1. That Gospel-Churches being God's Temple, &c. He is obliged to support, defend, uphold his own Building, House, Temple.

2. That if there be no Churches at this day, he hath no Temple, nor solemn visible Worship.

3. That none have Power over these Churches, to plant, pull down; nor have they, or shall they, have permission so to scatter, destroy them; that the Church-state should not some­where, or other, be kept up in the World.

4. That Gospel-Churches are Honourable, Glorious. They are God's Temple, House, Building.—

5. That those who reproach, revile them; Blaspheme God, his Temple, Tabernacle, and them; that dwell in Heaven, Rev. 13.6.

Object. But though the Tabernacle, Temple, were God's Building; yet both the one, and the other, were taken down, abolished.

[Page 23] Answ. True! And so shall the present Church-State be dis­solved at last. But,

1. Neither the one, nor the other, were taken down, but by God's own Authority and Appointment: and that too (at last) to make way for a more glorious State.

2. The Worshippers in that Tabernacle, Temple, never de­serted it, till God drove them out of it. They offer'd not violence to it themseves: attempted not with their own hands, to consume, destroy it. 'Tis true, as to the last Temple, Jose­phus tells us, that the Jews themselves set fire on't; but these were not the Worshippers in it, but a company of apostate, de­boyst miscreants, that cared neither for God, Temple, or Worship.

CHAP. II.

The continuance of Gospel-Churches farther evinced from the Titles given to Jesus Christ, with respect to such Churches. Christ the Builder of them, Zach. 6.12. Heb. 3.3, 4. explained. What Christ did, doth as the Builder of these Churches. Christ the Foundation, Head, Lord of Gospel-Churches. In what sense He is so. The Husband, Bridegroom of them. Ʋpon what ac­counts he is so called. Objections Answered.

HAving in the former Chapter evinced the continuance of Gospel-Churches, from the Titles given by the Spirit of the Lord to the Gospel-Church-State, and those who Wor­ship him therein: We purpose in this Chapter, further to e­vince the truth thereof, From,

Demonstration. II.

The Titles, Appellations, given to Jesus Christ, with respect to such Churches; each of which is an unshaken basis upon which their continuation is founded. We think it necessary to premise, that 'tis not our intendment to discourse of all the [Page 24] Titles given to Christ in the Scripture; but only of such as give countenance, assistance, strength, to the matter of our present enquiry; and of these only so far as is necessary there­unto.

I. Then, the Lord Jesus Christ is styled in Scripture, the Builder of these Churches, Zach. 6.12. He shall build the Tem-of the Lord. So, the Vulgar Latine. The House of the Lord, Seventy, Ar. The Temple of the Lord, Syr. The Chaldee reads the whole verse thus, Behold the Man, his Name is Christ, who is to be revealed, and magnified, and about to build the Temple of the Lord. For he shall Build the Temple of the Lord, and he shall bear the Glory. The He­brew is [...] Behold the famous (Noble) Man the Branch. 'Tis evidently-spoken of Christ, who is frequently called Tsemach, the Branch. Isa. 4.2. Jer. 23.5. & 33.15. Zach. 3.8. Of whom Joshua was a Type. [...], He him­self shall build that Temple of Jehovah; viz. that Temple which was to be erected upon his coming into the world; whereof the Temple that Joshua, and Zerubbabel, were in building was a Type, viz. Gospel-Churches. These Christ is said to Build, because he gave forth Directions, Laws, to his Apostles for their Erection, Establishment. Heb. 3.3, 4. Inasmuch as he who hath builded the House, hath more honour than the House: For every House is builded by some Man: But he that built all things, is GOD. ( [...] is put for, [...], all these things, the the Church, Persons, Ordinances pertaining thereunto.) The design of the Apostle is to evince Christ's preheminence above Moses: 'Tis true, Moses was an honourable Person; he received testimony from God, that he was faithful in his House; but he was but a servant in it, a part of it; Christ is the Builder of the House, or Church; (For that by House we are to understand the Church, or Churches, with all the Or­dinances of Worship in it, was before proved) Mat. 16.18. Ʋpon this Rock I will build my Church.

Three things Christ did, doth, as the Builder of this House.

1. Gives forth the idea, and plat-form of it, in its Laws, Ordinances, and Institutions.

2. Provides materials: by his Spirit in the Ministration of [Page 25] the Gospel, quickning, sanctifying, making lovely, excellent, glorious, dead, polluted, vile, base sinners.

3. Closely conjoyning, compacting these materials, that they may grow up together a spiritual House, an habitation of God through the Spirit. To this he uses not outward Com­pulsion, Force, Violence; but sweetly allures, inclines their hearts by the power of his Spirit, making them willing visibly to give up themselves to the Lord, and one another, by the Will of God. And in this work the Lord Jesus met, meets with the greatest opposition imaginable: All the Power, Wisdom of Satan, the greatest, wisest of the World, appearing against it: Sin, Corruption, in the hearts of those that are to be pre­pared for materials for it, advancing also against it: but Christ being invested with infinite Power, carries the work through the difficulties, and makes the greatest Mountain become a Plain before him; and having erected, set it up, comes and takes up his dwelling, makes his abode in it, as was before proved.

Four things necessarily follow from hence.

1. That there is really a Glory in the Churches of Christ. 'Tis true, they have been (are, as to outward view) as the Tents of Kedar, Poor, Mean, Contemptible; so are all the Ordinances, Institutions appertaining to them. The materi­als of which they are constituted for the most part, are visibly base and contemptible, the poor of the World—But Christ is the builder of them (a greater than Solomon) and he builds them for himself, an Ivory Palace for the great King: and therefore they must needs be amiable, lovely, glorious, comely as the curtaines of Solomon.

2. That none can approach, advance themselves against them without pouring out contempt upon, advancing them­selves against Jesus Christ.

3. That he is obliged to protect, defend them against all op­positions whatsoever. He hath done, will do so.

4. That none hath power to pluck them down; nor can they be dissolv'd but by his Authority. For any to go about to do so, is to assume a Power to themselves co-equal, nay, su­perior to Christ who built them.

[Page 26]II. As Christ is call'd the Builder of these Churches; so he is said to be the Foundation of them. They are built up­on him as their noble, glorious Foundation, 1 Cor. 3.9, 10, 12. Ye are Gods Building; according to the Grace of God which is given to me, as a wise Master-Builder I have laid the Foundation— other Foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ, Ephes. 2.19, 20, 22. 1 Pet. 2.4, 5.

Three things necessarily flow from hence;

1. That Gospel-Churches are not built upon the Old Co­venant, (as some talk) except we will suppose Christ to be a part of that Covenant: wherein yet there's not the least notice of him to be found.

2. That they are a firm, unshaken building. Christ him­self being their Foundation, they must be so.

3. That none can dissolve them, put a period to them, but he who is their Substratum, Foundation; who as such supports, upholds them, and is obliged so to do.

III. He is also styled their Head, Lord, Ephes. 4.15. May grow up into him in all things who is the Head, even Christ; from whom the whole body fitly joyn'd together—Col. 1.18. He is the Head of the Body the Church. & 2.19. And not holding the Head from which all the Body—Two things must be consi­dered;

1. Upon what accounts Christ is said to be the Head of the Church.

2. What influence this Headship of Christ hath into the con­firmation of the truth pleaded for. As touching the first, 'tis confes'd, that he is not a natural head of the body, the Church. The Expression is Metaphorical. Seven things are pointed forth by it.

1. His Preference, Dignity, Excellency, above them all.

2. His Comliness, Beauty. The truth is, all the comliness of the Body (the Church) is Christ. 'Tis eminently, superla­tively in Him; it flows from him.

3. He is the seat of all that Life, Spirits, the Church is made partakers of. All's in him in fulness.

4. His Sympathy with them in all their sorrows, distresses, sufferings.

[Page 27]5. Their guidance, direction from Him. He is their dux viae, glorious conduct, leader in the way they should go.

6. His Dominion, Ruledom, Authority over them.

7. Their Protection, Safety in, and under Him.

As touching the second particular.

Secondly, The continuance, abiding of Gospel-Churches, is a necessary consequence from hence: For Christ being their Head,

1. Want's not love, affection to them, to support, uphold them. Nor,

2. Doth he want power so to do. All power is given to him in Heaven and in Earth. He is for that end constituted Head over all things to the Church. Eph. 1.21, 22. that he might be able to defend, preserve it.

3. He is an everlasting Head; therefore as such, must have a body to rule, govern, by those Laws, Institutions, he hath given forth, for their Ruledom wherein they are to testi­fy their subjection to him. Not to do so, is to cast off his Regiment, deny his Soveraignty, Authority. Nay,

4. As such (being put into Office, deputed, appointed by the Father, as Head, Lord, King over them, Psal. 2.6.) he is obliged to protect, defend, preserve them. For him not to do so, were a breach of that trust, charge reposed in him, given to him by the Father.

IV. Christ is the Husband, Bridegroom of these Churches, 2 Cor. 11.2. For I have espoused you (the Church of God, which is at Corinth, chap. 1.1.) to one Husband (viz. the Lord Jesus) that I may present you as a chast Virgin to Christ. Mat. 25.1, 5, 6. Then shall the Kingdom of Heaven, (or Gospel-Church-state) be likened unto ten Virgins, which—went forth to meet the Bridegroom. While the Bridegroom tarried—Behold the Bride­groom cometh. And these Churches are call'd the Bride, the Lambs Wife, Rev. 19.7.21.9.22.17.

Upon what account the Lord Jesus is said to be the Hus­band of the Church, and She his Bride, Wife, must be con­sidered.

[Page 28]He is so call'd upon the account.

1. Of his entire, cordial love, and affection to her. He dearly, above all, loves his Churches. Psal. 87.2. The Lord loveth the Gates of Sion (Saints gathered together in Gospel-Fellowship, solemnly worshipping him in a community) more than all the Dwellings of Jacob. He therefore calls them his Love, his Dove, his Ʋndefiled, Cant. 5.2. expressions demonstrative of his kindness to them. They also are full of love, endearment to him, Cant. 1.7. 1 Pet. 1.8. The truth whereof they evidence by keeping his Commandments, John 14.21, 23, 24. viz. those Commandments he by the Spirit gave forth to them, relating to the institutions, worship of the Gospel, Acts 1.2.

2. His giving himself to them, taking them for his own, above all the People in the World. God is said upon this foot of account, to be the God of Israel, Exod. 5.1. & 32.27. Num. 16.9. Jos. 8.30. 13.33. &c. They his portion, peculiar trea­sure, Deut. 32.9. Exod. 19.5. Psal. 135.4. To be married to them, Jer. 3.14. Christ is said to have them, Joh. 3.29. He that hath the Bride, is the Bridegroom. They give themselves to him, solemnly own, avouch him to be their Husband in their visible subjection to his appointments. Nor do, or can any be said so to own him, but with respect to such a subjection, 2 Cor. 8.5. They first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. They are Christ's, 1 Cor. 3.23. All are yours, and ye are Christs. Departure from, forsaking his in­stitutions, is therefore called, adultery, fornication, whoredom, Jer. 3.8. Ezek. 23.37. Rev. 2.22. Ezek. 16.26, 29. Rev. 9.21. & 17.2, 4. & 18.3, 9. & 19.2. Ezek. 16.17. Hos. 1.2. Jer. 3.2. And the false Church is call'd, the Whore, Rev. 17.1, 15, 16. & 19.2. because hereby they are unfaithful to Christ in this marriage-relation, whereinto he hath taken them.

3. His care, watchfull eye over them. He watcheth over them for good: keeps them day, and night; with much more that might be added touching this matter.

Now, can it be imagined, that the Lord Jesus, who hath ta­ken a people unto himself in such a relation, loves them with such a dear, intense love; gives himself to them, is obliged by [Page 29] Virtue of that relation, that he hath taken them unto himself into, to care for, watch over them, should when in some sin­gleness of spirit they are testifying their love to him (though with many infirmities, weaknesses) in subjecting to his appoint­ments; so holding fast his name, and bearing a testimony to him in the World; I say, can it be imagined, that he should at once reject, cast them off, unchurch them? credat Apella! Is this the manner of Husbands (poor mortals, of weak love, finite bowels) to those, whom they take as Brides to themselves? Hath not this Lord said, that 'Tis not lawful for a man to put away his Wife, but in case of Fornication, Mat. 5.32. and shall it be supposed that he who is infinite in bowels, choicest love, will reject his, when they are not to be charged with such wickedness. God once took Israel for a People unto himself; and though actually guilty of spiritual adultery, worshipping in a way that never entred into his heart to prescribe, serving Idols, offering their Children to Moloch, persecuting also the Servants of the Lord, that labour'd to recall them to primitive institutions; yet how long did he bear with them? He woe's them after they had committed whoredom with many lovers, to return again to him; with promises of pardon, reception, new embraces, as if they had never so offended him, Jer. 3. 1, 12, 22. & 4.1. And when he hath thoughts of giving them up, with what seeming regret is it, Hos. 11.8. Nor did he totally do so, till he had sent his Son, whom they by wicked hands took, cast out, slew, Mat. 21.37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 45. And are the bowels of the Lord dried up? Hath he forgotten to be gracious? Is not his Covenant-Relation with his People in a Gospel-Day, as strong, efficacious, as in the times of the Law? Besides, hath he any where in all the Scrip­tures given us the least Iota, or syllable, upon which we may conclude, That this his relation, with at least some particular Churches, should cease, or expire? En tabulas! let the Scrip­tures, Prophecies thereof be consulted.

Object. God took Israel into such a relation to himself. Call's himself their Husband, Jer. 31.32. saith he is mar­ried to them, Jer. 3.14. Yet afterwards rejects them.

[Page 30] Answ. 1. This Objection is in part obviated already, and e­nough said to an intelligent Reader.

2. Let it be granted that God calls himself their Husband, Jer. 31.32. Though a better. Translator renders the words o­therwise then we read them, viz. Paul, Heb. 8.9. Because they continued not in my Covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord: That which we translate, although I was an Husband to them; the Apostle renders, and I regarded them not. And the learned Pocock in his Miscellanies, Cap. 1. p. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. at large demonstrates that the word [...], Ba­alti, (which we read, I was an Husband) signifies, not to re­gard, to neglect, refuse, despise; so also the Greek, and Syri­ac render it. But I say, let it be granted, as indeed the Lord doth own himself to be the Husband, to be Married to them, though in the place instanc'd in, he doth not do so: Let a few things further be considered, and the impertinency of what is objected, with respect to that we are pleading for, will soon appear. For,

1. He himself by signal providences breaking to pieces, de­stroying their Church-state, and that Temple to which their solemn Worship, as a Church was affix'd, apotomized, cut them off: no such act of God with respect to his Gospel-Churches can be instanc'd in.

2. He bare long with them, before he cast them off; and actually continued with them in that relation for about two thousand years. Nor,

3. Did he reject them, till they had for many years rejected Him, despised his Institutions, Ordinances: committed adultery with many lovers, Jer. 3.1. In that matter did worse than the Nations round about them, Ezek. 5.6, 7. If this can be char­ged upon any of the Churches, let them plead their own cause; I'll be no advocate for them; nor is it necessary, with respect to our present controversy, since there are Churches to whom nothing like it can be imputed. Though this I must say, I know none of the Churches of Christ at this day but are pure, and unchargeable as to any such guilt.

Oject. 2. The Church of Rome was a true Church, had Christ for her Husband, Bridegroom. Is it thus with her now? [Page 31] Is not her Church-state perioded? Is she not the apostatick Synagogue? No Bride of Christ, but the Whore, the Mother of Harlots, and abominations of the Earth!

Answ. 1. God forbid that I should plead for that filthy Strumpet, Synagogue of Satan, the generation of God's curse, against whom he hath indignation for ever.

2. The Church of Rome (so call'd) that now is, is in nothing like the Church of Rome that then was, as to its Constitution, Matter, Form, Worship, Ordinances. That was a particular-Church of Christ; this (pretends to be) Catholick, Univer­sal. That was constituted according to the Mind of Christ; its matter, visible Saints; its form, their free, spontaneous giving up themselves to the Lord, and to one another, accor­ding to the Will of God: This constituted by the cunning, sub­tilty, lying Miracles of the man of Sin; by the Lusts, Laws, Compulsions of an arm of Flesh. Its Worship, Ordinances had for their Substratum the Law, Commandment, Authority of Jesus Christ: the Worship of Rome is bottom'd upon the Authority, Canons, Laws, Traditions of Popes, sinful men, false pretences to the personal appearance of Christ, the Vir­gin Mary, &c. to them; giving them in charge to practise this, and that, as his Worship, Appointment, not found in the Scriptures, contrary to them. So that the Church of Rome (so call'd) that now is, was never a Church of Christ, but a Synagogue of Satan, set up in opposition to his True Churches.

3. Had it been never so much a True Church of Christ; it hath actually dis-church'd it self, by its horrid Idolatry worse than the Heathen Worshiping Idols of Gold, Silver, Wood, Stone, with the same Worship, that is due to them, whom they set these up to represent; so as that their Wor­ship (as Bellarmin tells us) is terminated in these; which scarce ever entred into the heart of an ingenuous Heathen to affirm; upon the account whereof they are call'd Gentiles, Rev. 11.2. Her persecution also, bloody cruelty against Christ in his members, sufficiently bespeaks her to be deserted, reject­ed by the Lord, actuated by another Spirit, than the Spirit of the Gospel, which is pure, peaceable, gentle, meek: so [Page 32] far from having any resemblance of the Churches of Christ, that it's the very shambles of Satan, by whom as his butcher­ly, bloody instruments, they have destroyed, poured forth the blood of millions of the meek, innocent Lambs of the Lord Jesus.

4. Let the argument be considered; There was a Gospel-Church of Christ at Rome; the members of it fell asleep in Jesus, having served the Lord in their generation: by the subtilty of Satan, and the man of Sin upon that spot springs up a sort of Professors, bearing the name of Christ, calling them­selves a Church; that (at last, at least) have nothing to be found upon them, like unto what they pretend to be; there­fore there's a period put to the Church-state, to all Churches, Christ's relation to them as the Builder, Foundation, Head, Husband notwithstanding. And why so I pray? May not there be true Churches of Christ, and he stand thus related to them, and as their Builder, &c. support, uphold, preserve his Church-state amongst them; though that, and many other Churches prevaricate, depart from him? That he hath actually done so from the time of his first planting Churches to this day, we shall (if the Lord will) in the ensuing discourse de­monstrate. In a word, let it be proved against the present Churches, That they have unchurch'd themselves by Idolatry, bloody cruelty against the Saints—as this pretended Church of Rome hath done, or this objection must be acknowledged to be of no weight.

To shut up all we have to say upon this argument; Christ is the Builder, Foundation, Head, Lord, Husband of particu­lar Churches, and so call'd with respect unto a special relation to them as such, as hath been proved; either then there must be such Churches, or this relation is at an end. And thus far touching the second argument.

CHAP. III.

The continuation of Gospel-Churches further demonstrated. The Scripture, the sole Directory both with respect to Doctrine and Worship. Whatsoever Christ hath instituted, given in charge therein, 'tis the duty of Saints in every day to be found in the practice of. Christ of old prophesied of, as the great Prophet whom God would raise up to instruct his People, whom they were bound to attend. Deut. 18.18, 19. explained. Christ's instructions contain'd in the Scriptures. No other way or means, intimated by God the Father, or Christ, for the indoctrination of the Saints as to Doctrine, or Worship, besides the Scriptures. Of Popish Traditions, Visions. The Personal appearance of the Virgin Mary, of Christ to them. These the Foundation of their festi­vals, religious orders. God sends us to the Scripture for Di­rection in Faith and Worship: hath under each Ministration com­manded his People to observe whatever he hath appointed therein without Addition, or Substraction. It's sufficient to instruct and guide us. 2 Pet. 1.19. Explained. Objections Answer'd. Of pretensions to Christ's personal appearance: That there hath been no personal appearance of Christ, on the Earth, to any since his Ascension, proved. Of the appearance of Christ to Stephen, Paul, John: That he convers'd not with them on Earth, proved.

Demonstration. III.

THat the Scripture is our sole Directory, both with respect to Doctrine, and Worship: that 'tis the duty of the Saints in every generation to attend to the Laws, Commandments, Rules of our Lord laid down therein; that none have power to su­persede any Law, Commandment of Christ, hath hitherto been generally own'd as a truth amongst all the reformed Churches. 'Tis true, some amongst the Papal-Synagogue have blasphemous­ly asserted, That the Pope, that man of Sin, and Son of Perditi­on, hath authority to dispense with the commands of Christ; [Page 34] and he, and some Combinations of Men (call'd Councils) a­mongst them, have actually so done in many cases. But as was said amongst those, that separate from that Synagogue of Satan, none ha [...]e as yet doctrinally declar'd the lawfulness thereof. What is of that nature practically done by any of them, is not to our present purpose to enquire. This then might (one would think) be taken for granted; whatever Christ hath instituted, charged, commanded upon his People in the New-Testament, is the duty of the Saints in every day to be found in the practice of. Yet insomuch as the most plain, indisputable principles, commonly received maxims, are by one, or other, in this day questioned and opposed; it may not perhaps be altogether useless, briefly to discover the basis upon which this Principle is built.

I. Then, 'twas long before the exhibition of the Lord Jesus prophesied, That God the Father would raise up a Prophet to his Church like unto Moses, to whom it was their duty to attend in all things, should be declared, taught them by him: under the most severe penalty was this charg'd upon them, Deut. 18. 18, 19. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their Brethren, like unto thee; and will put my word in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words, which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. The Seventy render it, I will take vengance on him: And the Hebrew Doctors so explain the words, He that transgresseth against his words is guilty of death by the hand of God, as it is written, Deut. 18. I will require it of him; Maimon. in Jesud. Hatorath, C. 9. §. 2. And the word require, often signifies to require by punish­ment, Gen. 9.5. 42.22. the Apostle expounds this place of of Christ, and this requiring, to be destroying from amongst the people, Act. 3.22, 23. That this Prophet is Christ, he tells us, ver. 26. Nor is this Prophesie interpreted by any of the antient, or modern Rabbies, except some very few, but only of the Messiah: Nor can it be interpreted of any other; every particular being exactly fulfill'd in him. A Prophet.] Mat. 21.11. This is Jesus the Prophet. From among your Bre­thren] Christ was raised up from amongst his Brethren; and [Page 35] 'tis particularly mention'd out of what Tribe amongst them he was taken, Heb. 7.13, 14. viz. of Judah; and the Family he was of in that Tribe, namely, that of David, is frequently men­tioned, Luk. 1.69. And will put my words in his Mouth] According­ly Christ said to God the Father, Joh. 17.8. I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me. He shall speak unto them all that I shall command him] This Christ did, Joh. 12. 49, 50. I speak not of my self, but the Father which sent me; he gave me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak —whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak, Joh. 15.15. All things that I have heard of my Father have I made known unto you. Joh. 17.8. I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me, and they have received them. So that evidently Christ is the Prophet here spoken of. Two or three things are worthy our special remark.

1. That Christ is a Prophet, raised up, sent by the Fa­ther.

2. That the end of God in his Mission of Christ as a Prophet, was to instruct the Sons of Men in the whole of his Will, that he thought meet to manifest to them.

3. That Christ actually made such a discovery of the Fa­thers will. John 1.17, 18. The Law was given by Moses, but Grace, and Truth came by Jesus Christ: No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declar'd him. Heb. 1.1, 2. God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in times past unto the Fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last dayes, spoken unto us by his Son.

4. That all Persons whatsoever are obliged, bound under the severest penalties, to attend to whatever was revealed by this Prophet. This is also enforc'd by a voice from the ex­cellent Glory. Mat. 17.5. This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him. So then the Scriptures of the New-Testament are our Directory; whatever Christ hath en­joyn'd therein, all Saints are to have regard to. For what he declared from the Father, is therein contain'd, and no where else. But,

II. There's not the least intimation given by God the [Page 36] Father, or this great Prophet of the Church, of any other way, or means of instruction in his Worship, or Service, but only the Scriptures. 'Tis true, the Popelings talk of Traditions, (as did, do, the Jews before them) and much of their Wor­ship; many of their orders is bottom'd upon, receives its Original from pretended Visions, Revelations, the personal Appearance of the Virgin Mary, yea, of Christ himself (as they vainly pretend); and perhaps Satan might appear to them as an Angel of Light, and avouch himself to be the Lord Christ. As touching the Carthusians, 'tis acknowledg'd, that Hugo, who joyn'd with Bruno, in laying the Foundations of that Order, had a vision of Gods Building an House, with seven Stars conducting them to a place, call'd, La grand Char­treuse; from whence the whole Order hath taken its name. The Order of the Carmelites was from a Vision that Simon Stock had, wherein the blessed Virgin appear'd with the Habit in her Hand, which she would have them wear; with a Pro­mise, that whoever dyed in that Habit, should not perish by everlasting Flames. Innocent the third hath a Vision of St. Francis, and St. Dominic, supporting the Lateran Church; whence the Franciscan and Dominican Orders sprang. As for the Jesuits, their Grandsire Ignatius was full of Visions. Some­times Peter appear'd to him, sometimes the Virgin Mary, with a great deal of Glory, and her Child in her lap; whereby he was greatly strengthned, and incouraged. But above all, the strangest Vision he had, was a Vision of the Blessed Trinity plainly, under a corporeal Representation, which fill'd him so full of Joy, that he could not hold weep­ing before all the People; and was so strangly enlightned by it, that he began to write a Book of the glory of the Bles­sed Trinity. In one of his Exstasies he continued eight dayes; in which it's probable, saith Orlandinus, he saw the frame and model of the Society of the Jesuits. Christ appeared to him once, and again; sometimes he was lift up from the ground, the room where he was, being fill'd with a great Light. In a Vision he saw God the Father commending himself and his Brethren, to his Son Jesus bearing his Cross; whom he very kindly received, and with a smile, said to Ignatius, I will [Page 37] be favourable to you at Rome; which greatly comforted him, and his Companions. And in the issue, it fell out accordingly; his order being confirm'd by P. Paul the third, his Bull dated Octob. 3. 1540.

As were their Orders, so their Festivals were instituted upon the bottom of pretended Visions, and Revelations: The Festival of Corpus Christi was instituted by Ʋrban the fourth, in honour of Transubstantiation, by the Revelation of a famous Virgin call'd Juliana; which had many raptures, and so pro­phetick a Spirit, as to discern the thoughts, and intentions of her neighbours hearts; she wrestled with Devils, discour­sed with the Apostles, and wrought many Miracles. Bullar. Rom. Tom. 1 p. 147. Paul the Hermite was Canonized for a Saint, upon the Authority of a Vision, and Revelation.

The Feast of Michael the Arch-Angel, upon a Revelation to the Bishop of Siponto, and a few Drovers upon the Mountain Garganus. To which many more might be added. These are the wayes Satan hath used to establish his King­dom by, and to introduce his false, superstitious, idolatrous Orders, and Worship, destructive to the bodyes and souls of Men. But in Christ's Doctrine, Gospel, there is a deep silence touching any such matter. He himself, and his Apostles af­ter him, introduce nothing upon the account of such Reve­lations, but appeal to the Scriptures, and prove their Doct­rine from thence. Not the least intimation is there of any way, or means of instruction in his Worship, but only the Scriptures. If there be, let the place be produced, and we are satisfied. If there be not, as most certain there is not, to hearken, attend to Visions, Revelations, is (to say no more) unsafe, dangerous. Nor can it be consistent with the Love of the Father to his Church, had he intended any other way of Instruction, not to give the least notice of it to them; nor with his Wisdom, to make that discovery of his mind and will in the Scriptures, to give it forth as our Rule, when upon this supposition 'tis a most imperfect one. But,

III. God sends us to the Scripture for direction in this matter, Isa. 8.20. To the Law, and to the Testimony; if they speak not according to this word, (whatever their pretentions [Page 38] are of the morning, or the breaking forth of a more glori­ous day) it is because there is no [...] morning in them: They have not the Light of the Glorious morning they speak of. Luke 16.29. They have Moses, and the Prophets (i. e. the writings of Moses and the Prophets) let them hear them. John 5.39. Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think to have eter­nal life; and they are they which testify of me.

IV. Jehovah himself, in and under each Ministration, hath commanded his People to observe whatever he hath appoin­ted in the Scripture, without Addition, or Substraction. Deut. 4.2. Ye shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the Commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you. & Chap. 12.32. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. Josh. 1.7. That thou mayest observe to do according to all the Law, which Moses my Servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand, or to the left. Prov. 30.5, 6. Every word of God is pure—Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a Liar. Rev. 22.18, 19. For I testi­fy unto every man that heareth the words of the Prophesie of this Book: If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the Plagues that are written in this Book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the Book of this Prophesie, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life, and from the things which are written in this Book. Evidently, God tyes up his people under Law and Gospel to a strict, and sole attendment unto what he hath given forth in the Scriptures; And that because,

V. These are sufficient, able, and perfect (as he affirms of them) to instruct and guide us, Psal. 19.7. The Law of Je­hovah is perfect—2 Pet. 1.19. We have also a more sure word of Prophesie (more sure than what? than the voice that came from the excellent Glory, when Christ was transfigured upon the Mount) whereunto we do well to take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, untill the day dawn, and the Day-Star arise in your Hearts. The word of Prophesie con­tain'd in the Scripture is a sure word, 'tis a light (every way [Page 39] sufficient as such, to direct us in the way we should take) and is carefully to be attended to, till the morning of the day of the Son of Man, or the Revelation of Jesus. 2 Tim. 3.15, 16, 17.—Thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through Faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for Doctrine, for Reproof, for Correction, for instruction in Righteousness, that the Man of God may be per­fect, thorowly furnished unto all good works.

The sum of what we have been Arguing, Proving, is this, That the Holy Scriptures are our Directory with respect to Worship; all then (and no more) whatsoever Christ hath commanded his people therein, Saints are bound to at­tend, and give up to. And if so (as is clearly demonstrated) then Christ having given charges therein, touching Saints walking together in the fellowship of the Gospel, Worship­ping, Waiting on him in Gospel-institutions, Praying, Preach­ing, Baptism, breaking Bread, is unquestionably the duty of Saints in every generation: Quod erat demonstrandum.

Object. Tis true, these things were once of the institution of Christ, but they are now ceased.

Answ. 1. They are the Scriptures of the Lord (as we have proved) we are solely to attend to, both with respect to Doctrine, and Worship; let but then one syllable, tittle, be produced there-from, that demonstrates the cessation of these Institutions of Christ, and the matter is at an issue. The honour of our Lord Jesus being so deeply concerned herein, no sober Christian (except under a great power of tempta­tion) will be willing to part with them upon easier terms. 'Tis not pretensions to Visions, Revelations, Angelick Ap­pearances, that will remove them from their stedfastness to the institutions of Christ; those that depart from them upon such pretensions, will never answer it, in the day of Christ. But,

2. By the same reason, the institutions, Ordinances under the Mosaick Ministration, might long before the fulness of time, for their dissolution, have been exploded; so all the Authority of God, with respect to Worship, been rejected. [Page 40] To the very time of their passing away by the exhibition of Jesus, who was greater than Moses, by whom the Law was given, John 1.17. greater than Angels, whose Ministry was made use of in its solemn Promulgation, Act. 7.53. The Lord charges his People to be found in the practice of them, Mal. 4.4. And those that were so (as corrupt as the then Church-state was) were honoured, signally blessed by the Lord; as Zachary, Elizabeth, Simeon.

3. There's not the least mention of the freedom, exemp­tion of any of the Lords Children from these Institutions, till the personal Appearance of Christ; but the contrary.

Object. 2. Well then, it seems 'twill be granted, that when Christ doth personally appear on earth, there is to be a cessati­on of, and period put to this Church-state, with the Institutions, and Ordinances thereunto appertaining: what if he hath so appeared already?

Answ. 1. As touching the first, we very readily grant it: upon Christ's next, visible, glorious appearance, there will certainly be a dissolution of this Fabrick. But,

2. As to the question, whatever the pretensions of any are, or may be, of Christs personal appearance to them, its evi­dently false, and untrue; not to be believed, heeded, or attended to, for these Reasons;

1. Christ foretels us, there shall be such pretenders, and charges us not to believe them, or go forth after them, Mat. 24.26. Therefore if they shall say unto you, Behold he is in the desert, go not forth: Behold he is in the secret chambers, believe it not.

2. The Scripure mentions but one second coming of the Lord Jesus, Heb. 9.28. And unto them that look for him, shall he appear the second time without sin, unto Salvation. Upon this pretext, there may be, must be, many comings of Christ.

3. The Heavens must receive him till the times of the resti­tution of all things; when (and not before) God the Father will send him, Act. 3.20, 21. Of these times there's nothing appears that bears the least resemblance.

4. Christ gives his Church no notice of any such thing: which had he designed, and for such an end, as is pretended, [Page 41] viz. to put a period to the present Ministration, and to erect a new one, send forth new Apostles, &c. he would certainly have done. A total silence herein, were there any such thing intended by him, is perfectly inconsistent with the Love he bears to his Children.

5. 'Tis expresly said he must sit at Jehovah's right Hand till his Enemies are made his Foot-stool, Psal. 110.1 which as yet we are sure they are not.

6. The Work of Intercession now in Heaven, where he is constantly to attend it; will not admit him to come from thence, tell he bring the New-Jerusalem down with him: For he makes Intercession as God-Man, in that Nature, Body, in which he was Crucified; which though a glorious Body, yet is limited, circumscribed, else 'twere not a Body.

7. The Scripture is express, that when he comes from thence, he comes visibly as he went away, so that every eye shall see him. Mat. 24.27, 30. For as the lightning cometh out of the East, and shineth even unto the West, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be—Then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven, and then shall all the Tribes of the Earth mourn: and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the Clouds of Heaven with Power, and great Glory. Act. 1.9, 10, 11. And when he had spoken these things while they beheld, he (Christ) was taken up, and a Cloud received him out of their sight. And while they look­ed stedfastly towards Heaven, as he went up, behold, two men stood by them, in White Apparel, which also said, Ye men of Galilee, Why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall SO COME, in like manner, as ye have seen him go into Heaven. Rev. 1.7. Behold, he cometh with Clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him.

8. When Christ comes, Satan shall be bound, Rev. 20.1, 2. the dead Saints raised, 1 Thes. 4.16. 1 Cor. 15.23. Antichrist perfectly destroyed, 2 Thes. 2.8. The Kingdoms of this World become his, Dan. 7.13, 14.

Object. But Christ came personally on Earth to Stephen, Paul, John.

Answ. Nothing more false. As to Stephen, 'tis expresly [Page 42] said concerning him, that he saw Jesus in Heaven standing on the right hand of God, Act. 7.55. The same line of Interpre­tation is to be drawn over that sight that Paul had of him. 'Twas a sight of him not on Earth, but in Heaven. May be, when he was caught up into Paradice. John's was evidently visional. For, 1. He expresly tells us, he was in the Spirit, in a Prophetick exstasie, or rapture (Rev. 1.10.) taken out of himself; when objects are not presented to the outward senses (which are not in an extasie, capable of seeing, or behold­ing them) but to the inward mind. 2. He also tells us, that he whom he saw, was (only) like unto the Son of Man, ver. 13. was not really, substantially so. 3. If it were a real, perso­nal appearance, then the seven golden Candlesticks must be seven real golden Candlesticks; the white Garment down to Christ's feet, the golden Girdle, girt about the paps—the seven Stars in his right hand; the sharp two-edged Sword com­ing out of his Mouth must also be real; which is absurd, ridi­culous to imagine; 'twere to make Christ a monster. 4. 'Tis expresly said, that he sent, and signified the Revelation God gave him, by an Angel, Rev. 1.1. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, (every particular, the whole, of what's contain'd in this Book) which God gave unto him—he sent and signified it by his Angel unto his Servant John. Repeated again, Rev. 22.6. The Lord God of the Holy Prophets, sent his Angel to shew unto his Servants the things which must shortly be done. John, 'tis true, mistakes him for Christ, ver. 8. but is quickly rectified, ver. 9. I am thy Fellow-Servant, and of thy Brethren the Prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this Book.

CHAP. IV.

The Book of the Revelaetion containes a Prophetick discovery of the State of the Church, from the time of its being given forth to the glorious personal appearance of Christ. The continuance of Gospel-Churches prophesied of in this Book, to the time of Christ's coming. The seven Churches of Asia, a Type of Gospel-Churches, [Page 43] and their continuation to that time. Four signal periods of time mentioned in the Revelation. viz. The time of the Roman-Pagan Empire; of the Prophesying of the Witnesses; of the last Dragon-War; of the Witnesses rise, and pouring forth of the Vials, which periods in the personal coming of Christ. The continuation of the Church-state through these seve­ral periods of time, demonstrated. The Womans (or Church's) flight into the Wilderness, and the Witnesses prophesying in sack­cloath contemporize. Her feeding in the Wilderness, what, the manner of it. An Objection answered. The two Witnesses are not two particular Persons, proved. They are before the last of the last dayes. Who meant by the Gentiles, Rev. 11.2. Why call'd Gentiles. The Court without the Temple, and the Holy City, the treading under foot of the Holy City, the Temple of God, the Altar, and Worshippers therein, Explained. The fourty-two Months, or 1260 Dayes, not ordinary Months, or Dayes, evinced. The Antichrist is long since come. The Papal Kingdom is the Antichrist. Rev. 12.17. at large explained. The Dragon, Woman, remnant of her Seed, who they are: to what period of time that Prophesie hath relation, The slaughter of the Witnesses, not a corporeal slaughter, proved. The risen Witnesses, and the Vial-Angels Contemporize. None of the Vials yet poured forth, Rev. 15.5. at large opened. What's meant by the Temple: Why call'd the Temple of the Testimony. What the opening of the Temple signifies.

Demonstration. IV.

THroughout the Book of the Revelation, we have a plain, and full account, of a Church-state, or Saints Worshipping God in Gospel-Churches, till the Personal appearance of Christ.

Two things must be premised.

1. This Book of the Revelation is a discovery from God the Father to Jesus Christ, of things (especially relating to his Churches) that were shortly to come to pass, Rev. 1.1. i. e. the accomplishment of some of the things there prophe­sied of, was immediately to take place. Yet,

[Page 44]2. It containes a prophetick discovery of the State of the Church, from that time to the personal coming of the Lord Jesus, Rev. 20.1. And I saw an Angel [Constantine, say some; an Arch-Angel, so others; Christ, the Angel of the Covenant, so rather] come down from Heaven, having the Key of the bot­tomless Pit. (Christ alone hath so, Rev. 1.18.) chap. 21.3. The Tabernacle of God is with men. And 22.20. He which testi­fieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly, Amen; even so come Lord Jesus.

So then, if we demonstrate, that the Continuance of a Church-state, or Gospel-Churches, is prophesied of throughout this Book, the continuation of Gospel-Churches, with the Worship, Ordinances, Institutions peculiar to them, cannot be denied.

A late learned Author (and some others before him) asserts, that by the seven Churches of Asia (Rev. 2. & 3.) the State of the Church of Christ downwards, to the end of all things, is represented. And the truth is, with that strength of Arguments, that I know not how it can be refelled. The Church of Ephesus representing the State of the Church of Christ to the tenth of Nero's raign, A.D. 63. Smyrna, the State of the Church from 63. tell A.D. 324. (when Con­stantine had subdued the most potent Enemies of the Church) and comprises the Ten Presecutions. Pergamos, the state of the Church from 324. to A.D. 1242. when the Popes Le­gate Amelin, made an end of the Albigensian War, with Trancavel, Bastard of the Earl of Beziers. Thyatira, the State of the Church from 1242. till whole Nations fell off from the Papacy. Sardis, from the rise of the Witnesses to the last Vial. Philadelphia, from the time of the Last Vial, to the fourth Thunder. Laodicea, the State of the Church from the fourth and fifth Thunders, i. e. from the loo­sing of Satan, to the appearing of Christ's coming to Judg­ment under the sixth Thunder. Now, though I have several reasons why I cannot comply with this Learned Author, as touching the computation of time; yet his Arguments, to prove the State of the Church, from that time to the Con­fummation of the World, to be represented by the seven Churches of Asia, seem unanswerable As, 1. The title of [Page 45] the Revelation, ver. 1. The Revelation of Jesus Christ— to shew unto his Servants things which must shortly come to pass. The Asiatick Churches then were; this Book containes a Revelation of things that were to be. 2.. John's present sa­luting of the Seven Churches upon his calling this a Book of Prophesies, with this Salutation, Grace be unto you, and Peace from him which is, and which was, and which is to come, ma­nifests as much. 3. The description he gives of Christ, which is, and which was, and which is to come, ver. 4.8, 11. doth intimate that he is treating of what reaches from the beginning of the Church to the latest Ages thereof (even to the coming of Christ, ver. 7.) 4. The preamble into the Vi­sion of the seven Churches, ver. 10. and that of the seven Seales is so like, that it seems they are both of like extent and importance. 5. Else no Reason can be given, 1. Why, after the Spirit had given notice, that this Book is a pro­phesie of things to come, he should presently start from the title, and intended subject, to write Seven Epistles that have nothing considerable of Prophesie in them; and that he should do this, with as great pomp, and as high a preamble, as when he begins the Prophesie of the Seals, and the open'd Book. 2. Why the Epistles should be writ to the Churches of Asia, rather than to the Churches of Europe, and Affrick. 3. Why he gives the precedency to this Church rather than that. 4. Why just Seven, neither more, nor less. 5. Why these seven, rather than any others, which might have the very same Vertues and Vices. 6. Why Christ is described holding the Seven Stars in his right hand, in the Epistles to the Churches of Ephesus, and Sardis. 7. Why the Church of Ephesus of all others, should be commended for their trying false Apostles. 8. Why 'tis said to the Church of Smyrna, more than to any other, Be thou faithful nnto Death, and I will give thee a Crown of Life. 9. Why such an Ataxy in the ranging of the Churches, that the two irreprehensible Chur­ches, Smyrna, and Philadelphia, are not joyned together; Ephe­sus, Sardis, and Laodicea against whom there is no complaint of eating things offer'd to Idols; and then Pergamos and Thy­ [...]tira, in which there is. 10. Why Christ, before the Epistle [Page 46] to the Church in Pergamos, is set out by a two-edged Sword; and in the Church of Thyatira, by his feet like fine Brass [as if they burned in the Furnace; for that supplement must be added.] 11. Why Antypas should be named by name (in a Book so full of aenigmatical involutions.) 12. Why Christ expresseth a greater disgust against the Church of Laodicea, than that of Sardis, which is said to be quite dead. 13. Why in every Epistle, that phrase is used, I know thy works; which is a thing of small importance in the literal sense; but in the prophetical, it seems on purpose so repeated, to intimate an allusion in Asia, to the Hebrew word [...] (as if [...], was intended to answer [...]) that Asia may also be significant, as well as the names of the Seven Churches. 14. Why a particular Woman should be taken no­tice of by name in the Church of Thyatira, more than others. 15. Why the promise of ruling over the Nations, and receiv­ing the Morning-Star, should be made to the Church of Thy­atira more than others. 16. Why the temptation that was to come upon all the World, should be mention'd rather to the Church in Phyladelphia, than others. 17. Why upon her should be written the Name of the City of God, &c. 18. Why the Church of the Laodiceans should account her self so hugely rich, increased in goods, and to have no want in any thing. 19. Why that phrase, He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear—which our Saviour is found so often to add at the end of his Parables, should be used in every Epistle; they being no Parables, but Epistles sent to each of those Churches in Asia respectively—

The sum is, the seven Asiatick Churches were Types of the State of the Church (or the Churches of Christ) from that time to the end of all things. There must then all along be Churches to answer to these Types. Sometimes ('tis true) more Pure, Spiritual, Splendid, Visible; sometimes less, as the Types of them represent; but alwayes such as Christ ownes for his Churches, and as such walks in the midst of them.

But further, The State of the Churches as represented in the Book of the Revelation, may be consider'd under a four­fold period of time.

[Page 47]I. The time of the Roman-Pagan Empire: That then there were true Churches of Christ, will not be denied. Against them, Satan the great red Dragon, in that Pagan-state, set himself with all the cruelty imaginable, pouring out the blood of Myriads of the Lords faithful Ones. These Churches wrestle with God night and day, in Faith, Prayer, Supplica­tion; and at last the whole State (as a just Judgment of God upon them, for their cruelties exercised upon his Chil­dren) passes away, Rev. 6. These Churches, are the Woman cloathed with the Sun, having the Moon under her feet, and upon her head a Crown of Twelve Stars, Rev. 12.1.

II. The time of the prophesying of the Witnesses, which Synchronizes with the time of the Wild-Beast, or Antichrist. That during this time, which is one thousand two hundred and sixty Dayes, or fourty-two Months (which according to the Grecian account, thirty dayes to a Month is the same.) There were Gospel-Churches, is evident. For,

1. The Witnesses themselves are such; therefore call'd Two Candlesticks, Rev. 11.4. These are the two Olive-Trees, and the two Candlesticks standing before the Lord of the Earth. Candle­sticks! Who, or what are they? The Palmoni, wonderful numberer, the interpreter, one of a thousand, shall answer for us (and one would think the interpretation he gives, should pass without question among those who call themselves by his name) Rev. 1.20. The seven Candlesticks which thou sawest, are seven Churches. Object. But why here but two Candlesticks? Answ. The Antichristian apostacy had now so far prevailed, that Christ could own but a few as standing in such a relation unto himself.

2. During this period, there is a Temple of God, an Altar, and such as Worship therein: which can denote nothing less than a Gospel-Church-state, and Gospel-Worshippers therein; in opposition to the Court without, and Holy City which is given to the Gentiles, (or Antichristians) to tread under foot, Rev. 11.1, 2. And this Temple, &c. is to be measured with a Rod, ver. 1. 'Twill not be altogether impertinent to en­quire; what's held forth by the Measuring of the Temple, &c. Five things I humbly conceive the Spirit of the Lord in­tends by it.

[Page 48]1. The Churches of Christ that were in a Witness for him, being reduced to more Purity, and Scripture-simplicity than was with them a little before. Through the cunning work­ing of the man of Sin (though then in a Mystery) profes­sors had not a little swerved from Scripture-rule. The bo­dy, generality of these are swallowed up in the Antichristi­an Apostacy; a little remnant are awakened to stand up, as Witnesses for Christ; and they perceiving disorders a­mongst themselves, reduce all to the Scripture-standard; The only way to heal all the differences amongst Christians, touching Worship at this day.

2. The paucity of true, sincere Worshippers, so few, that they might easily be Measured.

3. The difference God makes betwixt Professors; some he curiously Measures, others he deals not so with, as not worth minding, being Virgins, Nullius Pretii, of no reckoning, value.

4. That the building of the Church is Gods work; his measuring-line, not Man's must be stretcht over it.

5. His care to preserve this remnant in that purity, sim­plicity of Worship, that was according to his Will, and they had attain'd to, during the whole time of the Anti­christian Apostacy, and Prophesying of the Witnesses a­gainst it. Measuring in Scripture (somtimes at least) denotes the care, concern of Jehovah for the thing mea­sured.

III. All the time of Antichrist's rampancy, there are two Witnesses that have Power given them from the Lord (at least till the time of their slaughter) to prophesie against Antichrist; i. e. to stand by the Lord of the whole Earth against him, Rev. 11.3, 4. viz. to take Christ's part against Antichrist; maintain, defend the things of Christ against the incroachments, devices, carnal inventions of Antichrist. Now this man of Sin made not onely advances against the Doctrine of the Gospel, but against the oeconomy, order thereof, with respect to Worship, Christ hath his particu­lar Churches with fixed Officers in them (Institutions, Or­ders, of his own affixed to them) all gather'd by the Power [Page 49] of the Spirit, and voluntarily giving up themselves, to the Lord and one another: Pastors, Teachers, chosen by them from amongst themselves, He the Head of them all: Anti­christ hath his oecumenical, Universal Church, Officers, In­stitutions, Ordinances, Forraign, contrary to Christ's: He sets up himself as Head of this Antichristian-Church; ga­thers into it, by force, violence; rules, governs it, by Ca­nons, Laws of his own. If then Christ hath his Witnesses, and their work be to Witness for him against Antichrist's innovations; they must be found not only pleading against these, (which would be only a negative testimony) but wit­nessing for the Order, Institutions of Christ; and so conse­quently be in the practice of these. For it cannot be ima­gin'd, that Christ's Witnesses should own that in Principle, and plead for it, which they are themselves out of the practice of. Nay the truth is, this last is that, wherein their witness signally lyes.

IV. That the Woman's flight into the Wilderness ▪ Rev. 12.6. and the Witnesses prophesying in Sackcloth, contemporize, is not onely generally granted; but 'tis from hence evident, because the time of the Witnesses prophesying in Sackcloth, and the Womans continuing in the Wilderness, is the same. Rev. 11.3. They shall Prophesie a thousand two hundred and six­ty dayes clothed in sackcloth. Rev. 12.6. And the Woman fled into the Wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and three-score dayes. That she was in the Wilderness in a Church-state waiting upon the Lord, in Institutions, Ordinances of his own appointment, is evident.

1. She is therefore call'd the Woman; as the false Church is call'd the whorish Woman, because of her Antichristian Church-state, Worship, Ordinances.

2. 'Tis said, They should feed her there. Quest. Who shall feed her there? Answ. Persons appointed by the Lord, and chosen by the Church in this her Wilderness-state shall do it. Quest. How should they feed her? Answ. There's no extra­ordinary way of feeding pointed at by the Spirit of the Lord; therefore she's to be fed in God's Ordinary way; in [Page 50] her attendment on Institutions of his own appointment for that end.

So that evidently there were Churches, Church-Institutions, Worship, all the time of the Witnesses prophesying.

Object. All this may be granted, and yet the continuance of Gospel-Churches not proved; for the Witnesses began not to Prophesie till a few years ago.

Answ. Though this Objection be very weak, frivolous, the basis upon which it is built, generally exploded by all Refor­med Christians, and therefore may seem not worthy our notice: yet resolving not willingly to pass by any thing, that may seem to have the least shadow of Argument in it, against what we are pleading for; and for the sake of some that are (or may be) in danger to be led aside, by such pretensions as these, we shall particularly examine it. Several things are supposed, as the basis upon which this Objection is built, that are evidently false; which being demonstrated to be so, the Objection will presently evaporate into smoke, and vanity. As,

1. That the two Witnesses spoken of, are two particular Persons.

2. That they are to come in the last of the last dayes.

3. That the time of their Prophesie is but One thousand two hundred, and three-score natural dayes. Now the Hetero­doxy of all this, will presently appear.

I. As touching the first, 'tis true, Bellarmine the Jesuite, and others, tell us, not only that they are two particular Persons, (whom some of late follow) but also who they are, viz. Enoch and Elias (who they say shall come, and fight a­gainst Antichrist in Jerusalem, and there be put to death by him, Bellar. de Rom. Pontif. l. 3. c. 13.): But that they are not, cannot be two particular Persons, is evident.

1. The Two Witnesses are call'd, two Candlesticks; which Christ interprets to be Churches (as was said before.)

2. The Two Witnesses Prophesie, all the Wild Beast's (Anti­christ's) Reign, viz. Fourty-two Months, or One thousand two hundred sixty dayes, viz. prophetick dayes, i. e. Years, as shall by and by be demonstrated. 'Tis not to be imagined, [Page 51] that any two particular Persons should ever live so long.

3. During the time of their Prophesie, They torment them that dwell upon the Earth, Rev. 11.10. i. e. the Antichristian Kingdom: which 'tis not probable, two particular Persons (especially considering that those which hold this notion, assert also, that the 1260. dayes, are natural dayes, or three Years and an half) should do in so short a time.

4. When they are slain, and lye dead in the street of the great City three dayes and an half, (natural dayes as they'l have it) they of the People, and Kindreds, and Tongues, and Nations (viz. the multitude over which Antichrist presides) see their dead bodies, and rejoyce over them—Which that they should do, if but two particular persons, and they lye dead for so short a time, is the first-born of absurdities. 'Tis impossible, within that limit, the persons mention'd should all hear of it, much more come to see it.

II. That the two Witnesses are to come in the last of the last dayes, is also an unscriptural-vanity, as is e­vident.

1. The two Witnesses Prophesying, and the Gentiles tread­ing under foot the Holy City, contemporize, Rev. 11.2, 3. But the Court which is without the Temple leave out, and measure it not: for it's given unto the Gentiles, and the holy City shall they tread under foot fourty and two Months. And I will give Power unto my two Witnesses, and they shall Prophesie 1260 Dayes cloathed in Sackcloth. The fourty two Months, according to the Grecian account, are exactly 1260. Dayes: so long then as the Gentiles tread down the Holy City, so long are the Wit­nesses to Prophesie. A few things must further be enquir'd into. 1. Who we are to understand by the Gentiles. 2. What by the Holy City. 3. What their treading under foot the Ho­ly City, means. 4. What space of time the fourty-two Months take up, in which 'tis said, the Gentiles shall tread down the Holy City.

1. By the Gentiles, we are to understand the Antichristians; particularly the bloody Papists, headed by the Pope [That [...], Man of Sin, that Son of Perdition, that Lawless One, 2. Thes. 2.3, 8.] These are [Page 52] call'd Gentiles, because, 1. Of their Introduction of Idolatrous Worship practised amongst the Gentiles. I mean not only the Worship of Statues, Idols of Wood, Stone, Brass, Silver, Gold; but the Worship of Heroes, (or Saints) in imitation of the Gentile-Heroes, whom they Worship'd. 2. Of their being actuated by the same Spirit of bloody cruelty, against the Worshippers within the Temple and Altar (or the true Spiritual Worshipers), with which the Gentiles before them were actuated against the Primitive Believers; and actu­ally murdering the true Servants of the Lord, as they did.

2. The Court without the Temple, and the Holy City (which Type out the same thing) is the Antichristian Church-state, Worship, Worshippers, Orders, Ordinances. The Temple of God, the Altar, and the Worshippers therein, v. 1. are the Gospel-Church-state, with the Worship, and Worship­pers thereunto belonging (as hath been proved.) The Court then without the Temple, and the Holy City, to be left out (as a matter of no worth) is the false Church-state, with its Worship and Worshippers.

3. Their treading under foot the Holy City, denotes.

1. The numerousness of the Antichristian Worshippers.

2. Their frequency in their Antichristian Service, as the Phrase is taken, Isa. 1.12. Psal. 121.2. q. d. Measure not the Court—. The false Worship, Worshippers, are so contemp­tible, vile, they deserve not to be taken notice of: are so numerous, that they cannot well be measured—They throng the City, as if they would tread it under foot at once.

4. The fourty-two Months cannot possibly denote fourty-two ordinary Months, or One thousand two hundred and six­ty natural Dayes, or three years and an half, for these Reasons.

1. The Papacy (represented under the notion of the Gen­tiles—) have been already rampant hundreds of Years; persecuted, murder'd, destroyed millions of Saints, for not treading together with them, the Holy City.

2. As was said, The forty-two Months, and the One thousand [Page 53] two hundred sixty dayes are the same: Now, a day for a year is the prophetick reckoning. See Num. 14.34. Ezek. 4.6. So in the prophesie of Daniel, Chap. 8.21, 23. and 9.24. and 12.11, 12▪ And for ought I find in all Prophetick Books, where any signal time is spoken of.

3. That the Gentiles treading down the Holy City, and the wild Beast, Rev. 13.2, 3. are the same, hath hitherto been taken for granted; and 'tis evident they are so; as from other considerations, so from this, that the same term is given to them both, ver. 5. And Power was given to him forty-two Months (or One thousand two hundred and sixty Dayes, as was before intimated.) Now, tis impossible, that what is said to be done by, and ascribed to, this wild Beast, should be shut up in so short a period, as three years and an half. For,

1. He brings the whole world under his subjection, is a dread and terror to them; grows so considerable, that none is able to make War with him, ver. 4, 7. And they Worship­ped the Beast, saying, Who is like unto the Beast? Who is able to make War with him.

2. All the World wonders after the Beast. ver. 3. [...]—. The Word is very emphatick, denoting honour, reverence, fear of any one, upon the account of some wonderful strange thing done by him. 'Tis translated Jude. 16. The having (mens persons) in admiration. It comes from the Hebrew [...] greatly to observe, reverence, wor­ship, to magnify, have in great esteem. Some read it, He was admired in the whole Earth. The Arabick translates it, The whole Earth wondring, followed the Beast. Which is indeed the sense of the place. q. d. such wonderful things shall be done by the Beast in the sight of the World, that with the greatest admiration, highest approbation and consent, they shall take the Beasts part, list themselves under his standard. The Aethiopick reads, And the whole Earth wondred, and follow­ed this Beast; to the same purpose.

3. He makes War with the Saints, and overcomes them, v. 7. Acts that must certainly take up more time than three Years and an half for their production.

[Page 54]III. Antichrist, who is the same with the Wild Beast, but now mentioned (as is granted by all) was in the womb in the Apostles dayes; wrought then under ground in a mystery, labouring to come forth; which he at last did, Exalting himself above all that is called God, or worshipped, shewing him­self that he is God, 2 Thes. 2.4, 7. He more openly shew'd himself, whilst the Apostle John was yet alive, than he did in Paul's dayes, John 2.22, 23. and 4.2, 3. So that it's evident, that the Antichrist was in the womb in the Apostles dayes; and openly discover'd himself not long after the [...] (that which letted) call'd the [...] (the Letter, or he which letteth) 2 Thes. 2.6, 7. was taken out of the way. Vari­ous are the sentiments of the Learned touching this Letter. The Learned Brightman makes him to be the sixth head of the Roman Empire: others think him to be the Holy Spirit, who by his signal presence, power with the Primitive belie­vers, kept Antichrist from ascending to that heighth of dig­nity, supremacy, he aimed at. Some adjudge it to be the a­postasie spoken of, ver. 3. Except there come a falling away first, and that man of Sin be revealed, the Son of Perdition. q. d. The general Apostacy must first be, ere the man of Sin (or Antichrist) openly manifest himself; when that is, he will quickly appear to head it. Its not yet coming, is that which lets his Revelation. The generality take it for the Roman-Pagan-Empire, or Emperour, in his full Power, and Majesty, flourishing, and living at his seat in Rome. Which I humbly conceive is Paul's intendment. For, 1. No reason can be given, why Paul expresses himself in so dark terms; that which letteth this Letter, if the Roman-Pagan-Empire be not intended; but if so, the reason is obvious: They had an opi­nion, that this Empire was everlasting; to have talk'd of its removal, would have stirr'd them up to have persecuted the Saints, as the Enemies of it. Less occasions they many times took so to do. 2. Antichrist's seat was to be Rome, Rev. 17.9. The seven heads are seven Mountains on which the Woman sitteth, i. e. The City built on seven Hills, is Anti­christs Seat, viz. Rome, alone famous amongst Historians up­on that account.

[Page 55]
Septem urbs alta jugis, toti quae praesidet orbi.

The Seven-hill'd City that governs the World, saith Pro­pertius.

But take the Letter, or that which Letteth, in either of the forementioned sences, and he hath been actually taken away for above this thousand Years. Immediately upon which Antichrist was revealed; whose time, and the Beast's, are the same; for they themselves are the same. Therefore the fourty-two Months cannot possibly denote fourty-two Ordinary Months, or One thousand two hundred and sixty natural dayes, viz. Three Years, and a half; but a much longer tract of time.

By what hath hitherto in this matter been offered, the Ju­dicious Reader will find a plain probation of the main The­sis, we are now in the confirmation of, viz. that the two Witnesses come before the last of the last dayes. For,

2. The two Witnesses are expresly said to prophesie One thousand two hundred and sixty Dayes, i. e. Years, according to the Prophetick reckoning, as we have proved.

3. The Witnesses Prophesying▪ and the rampancy of the Wild-Beast, Rev. 13.2, 3.—take up the same time of four­ty two Months, or, One thousand two hundred and sixty Dayes; but it hath been demonstrated, that the term of the Wild Beast is not so short as three Years and an half; therefore the Witnesses Prophesying cannot be thrust into so narrow a com­pass.

4. The time of the Witnesses Prophesying, and Antichrists day (after his Revelation) are the same: For Antichrist, and the Wild Beast, Rev. 13. are the same. And the Witnesses Prophesying, and the rampancy of the Wild Beast take up the same time, as hath been proved. That Antichrist hath been re­veal'd in the World for hundreds of Years past, hath also been demonstrated. Therefore the Witnesses Prophesying hath been also thus long, so must have their existence as Prophesying Witnesses before the last of the last Dayes; Quod erat demonstrandum.

As touching the third supposition upon which the Objecti­on is built, viz.

[Page 56]III. That the time of the Witnesses Prophesie; is but for One thousand two hundred and sixty natural dayes: the contrary hath been, from what hath been said touching the second particular, abundantly evinc'd; to which add, The Witnesses are to Pro­phesie all the time of Antichrist (as hath been proved:) The truth is, they are raised up, Spirited by the Lord as witnesses to prophesie against him, and his incroachments upon the Sove­raign Authority of Christ. Tis true, the Papists, that they may clear the Pope of the charge hath been by the Protestants laid against him as the Antichrist, assert, That Antichrist is not yet come; that he is not to come till towards the period of time; to continue, when he comes, but three years, and an half. Thus Bellarmin l.3. De Pontif. Antichristus debet reg­nare non nisi tres annos cum medio praecise. Antichristi adventus erit paulo ante finem mundi: continuo post mortem ejus mundus fi­netur. i. e. Antichrist ought to raign but three years, and an half precisely. The coming of Antichrist, shall be a little be­fore the end of the World: By and by, after his death, the World shall terminate.

Two things in this matter are easily demonstrated.

1. That Antichrist is long since come.

I. That the Papal Kingdom is the Antichrist spoken of: which, if plainly from Scripture demonstrated, it undeniably follows, that the time of the witnesses prophesie cannot be shut up within the limits of one Thousand two Hundred and Sixty na­tural days.

1. That Antichrist is long since come, is evident; for,

1. He is Prophesied of, as to come when the Apostacy should break forth, 2. Thes. 2.3. Except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed: So that evidently upon the coming in of the Apostacy, the man of sin, or Antichrist, is to be revealed. But the Apostack hath been already for several hundreds of years: witness the corruption in doctrine, viz. Justification by Works, Transubstantiation, &c. in Worship, viz. the veneration of Reliques, the invocation of Saints, the Worship of the breaden God, Images, &c.

2. The Mystery of Iniquity wrought (viz. in Order to the bringing forth of the man of Sin) in the Apostles Dayes, [Page 57] 2 Thes. 2.7. It cannot then be imagin'd, but his birth was near. What? in the Womb then, and not to be brought forth for hundreds of years after? credat Appella! 'Tis a figment, that the repetition of, is refutation sufficient.

3. The [...], or that which letted his Revelation, 2 Thes. 2.6. was long since removed out of the way, as hath been demonstrated. Immediately upon which, he was to be re­vealed, ver. 8. The truth of this, will more evidently appear in our discussions of the second particular, viz.

2. That the Papal Kingdom, is THE ANTICHRIST spoken of in the Scripture: Which we shall in a distinct Trea­tise [...] fully demonstrate.

The third Period of time mentioned in the Revelation is,

III. The time of the last Dragon-War: When we have an account also of a Gospel-Church-state; Churches Worship­ping God, according to the appointment of Christ. Of this War we have an account, Rev. 12.17. And the Dragon was Wroth with the Woman, and went about to make War with the remnant of her Seed. V.L. And the Dragon was Wroth against the Woman, and went to make War with the rest of her seed. Ar. Therefore that Serpent was wroth against the Woman; and went to wage War with the Seed of the Woman, that was left. Syr. And that Dragon was wroth against the Woman, and went to make War with them, who are the residue of her Seed. Aeth. And this Beast was wroth against this Woman, and went that he might op­pugn the rest of her Sons. Much to the same purpose.

A few things must be considered.

1. Who is meant by the Dragon. 2. Who by the Woman. 3. Who are the Remnant of her Seed. 4. What this War is. 5. To what Period of time it hath Relation. 6. That in the time of this War, there is a Gospel-Church-state of the ap­pointment of Christ, to which Saints are found in Con­formity.

I. As touching the first, by the Dragon we are to under­stand the Devil. So the Spirit interprets, ver. 9. And the great Dragon was cast out, that Old Serpent call'd the Devil, and Satan. So also, Rev. 20.2. So call'd upon the account of [...] [Page 56] [...] [Page 57] [Page 58] his, 1. Sublety. 2. Malice, Enmity against mankind, especially the Saints. 3. Cruelty, in devouring, swallowing them up. 4. Strength, Power to put in Execution (by Di­vine sufferance) his enmity against them. But yet the Devil as acting not in the Roman-Pagan-state, but in the Antichristi­an; wherein he most evidently displayes his enmity, bloody cruelty, subtilty, and Power. Now this seems to be very e­vident. For this Dragon is said to have Seven Heads, and Ten Horns, and Ten Crowns upon his Heads. The Seven Heads are interpreted, Rev. 17.9, 10. not only to be Seven Mountains, but also Seven Kings, or seven sorts of Govern­ment; whereof five were fallen, when John writ, viz. Kings, Consuls, Tribunes, Decemvirs, Dictators; and one then was, viz. Pagan-Emperours; and the Seventh was not yet come, viz. Christian Emperours; amongst whom springs Antichrist, who is said to be the Eighth and yet of the Seventh, ver. 11. So then during the time of the Roman-Pagan-Emperors, the Dra­gon had but Six Heads; therefore by the Dragon we are not to understanding the Devil as acting in that state, but in the Antichristian, when he had his Seven Heads compleat. The Ten Horns are also interpreted, Rev. 17.12. to be Ten Kings which had at that time of Johns writing, received no King­dom: They respect a time when the Roman-Empire should be divided into Ten Kingdoms, which was not while the Em­pire was Pagan, but under the Seventh Head, about the Year Four Hundred fifty six. To which add that John doth painly enough intimate, that these Ten Horns did not appertain to the Sixth Head that then was, or the Roman-Pagan-Empire, but to the Seventh, which was to come; for though he tells us, they were Ten Kings, yet he adds, that they had recei­ved no Kingdom at that time; i. e. they were Kings not actu­ally, but only in the purpose of God, to be produced as such under the Seventh Head, or Roman-Christian-Empire. Besides, the Beast with Seven Heads, and Ten Horns, is expresly said to carry the Whore, or Antichristian-Church, Rev. 17.3. From all which its most clear, that the Dragon with Seven Heads, and Ten Horns, is to be understood the Devil, as acting not in the Roman-Pagan, but Christian (or rather Antichristian) State.

[Page 59]2. By the Woman, we are to understand the Churches of Christ: So call'd upon the account of their visible espousal to him, or giving up themselves to him as their Lord, and Husband; owning his despotick Authority, in their profest Subjection to all his Institutions. This seems evident. Be­cause,

1. By Woman in the first verse, is meant the Churches of Christ (as is generally granted) the Primitive Churches, say most; the Churches of Christ, as appearing in a latter-day-glory, say others: And as the Woman was at first call'd of [...], Ish the Man, [...] Isha Woman, because she was of him: So are the Churches of Christ call'd, [...], Ha­shulammith, Shulamitesse, or Salomona, or she that is peaceable, of him who is the true [...] Sheloma, Cant. 6.12.

2. These are frequently, as is already proved, call'd the Bride, the Wife of Christ, said to be betrothed, espoused to him: He is call'd their [...] Ish, Lord, Husband.

3. The Woman (as related to Christ) is in the Book of the Revelation, set in opposition to the Whore, or Mother of Har­lots, Rev. 17. Now she types out the false Churches: there­fore by the Woman we are to understand the true Churches of Christ.

3. By the remnant of the Womans Seed, some understand such as were brought forth by her in the Wilderness, or par­ticular members of the Church (as others) who by reason of the iniquity of the times, cannot come together to Worship God in the Solemn Assemblies openly, as formerly, yet se­perately and apart, they do worship him. Now there are several things that I humbly conceive lye in the way of these interpretations.

I. This War is not in, but out of the Wilderness: For into the Wilderness the Dragon could not, it seems, pursue her. Therefore he casts a Flood of VVater out of his mouth, to swallow her up, but with little Success, for the Earth helps her, opens her mouth and swallows up the Flood, Rev. 12.15, 16. Besides, he would (if he could) have attaqu't the Mother in the VVilderness, as well as the Children brought forth by her there; whereas this is a particular VVar against the rem­nant of her seed. Nor,

[Page 60]2. Can I see, how their Worshipping severally, and a part, is consistent with the Characters given of the remnant of the Womans seed, ver. 17. who are expresly said to Keep the Commandments of God, and to have the Testimony of Jesus Christ. Nor,

3. Would Satan have lookt upon them in their divided State, to be so considerable, as to go about to make so for­mal a War against them, as is intimated: could he disunite, break, dissipate, scatter the Disciples of Christ, he would think he had done his work; at least so far, that he might pick them up by degrees, as he saw meet; and not put him­self to the cost and trouble [ [...]] of rai­sing a War against them. Little do some think, how much they serve Satan, by driving on a design of scattering the Saints, and calling them off their Church-Assemblies: A work he hath been attempting by various artifices, and methods, ever since Christ had his Churches in the World; but hi­therto without success.

This matter then must farther be considered. By the seed of the Woman (in the first Scripture-Notion of that expression) we are to understand the Messiah, Christ, Gen. 3.15. Here it hath respect to the Saints, begotten by the Word, and Spi­rit of Jesus: call'd the seed of the Woman, because born in the midst of the Churches of Christ, before that their flight into the Wilderness, mention'd, v. 14. As also because like her, of the same nature, spirit, temper, walking in the same foot­steps, owning the same Principles, Doctrine, practising the same Worship, found in the observation of the same Institu­tions, Ordinances, with her. By the remnant then of her seed, we are to understand, such as remain behind her, when she flies into the Wilderness, go not with her thither. The Wilderness points out a state of secrecy, retirement, and so safety: The Woman (i. e. the body of the Churches) Flies into the Wilderness from the face of the Serpent, Worships in holes, corners; whilest this remnant keep on in their visi­ble owning the Wayes, Ordinances, Institutions of Christ as formerly. Who (with submission I speak it) I conceive to be most strictly the Witnesses in their last testimony to Jesus.

[Page 61]4. As touching the fourth and fifth particular, what this War is, and to what period of time it hath relation; It seems (at least to me) evident from what hath been already offer'd, that 'tis the last advance of the Dragon, or Devil, acting in the Papal-Antichristian-Wilde-Beast, ascending out of the bottomless Pit (or coming forth in more than ordina­ry malice, fury) against the two Witnesses, or such of the Wo­mans seed, who shall at this time most strictly have the Spi­rit of Prophesie with them; and so bear up for a season, in a testimony for Christ against him; the issue whereof, shall be their slaughter, or the driving them off that publick testimo­ny they are bearing, into the Wilderness, whether the Woman, or the body of the Churches was before fled. And this seems more than Probable. Because,

1. Though here's mention of the Dragons going about to make War with the remnant of the Womans seed; yet there's no intimation of the least execution, as to any corporeal slaughter he makes upon them: but they seem rather (with respect to that) in as great safety as the Woman that before was fled into the Wilderness: In answer to which, the slaughter of the Witnesses is not, cannot be a corporeal slaughter, as amongst others is most evident from this single consideration: viz. Such as their slaughter is, such will their Resurrection be; if their slaughter be corporeal, their Resurrection must be so: But their Resurrection is not, cannot be a corporeal Resurrection; be­cause it crosses the Scripture, 1 Cor. 15.23. Every one in his own order, Christ the first-fruits, afterwards those that are Christ's at his coming: clearly asserting, that the Saints rise not till the personal coming of Christ: But now the Witnesses rise before; as is granted by all.

2. After this advance of the Dragon, you hear no more of this remnant of the Womans seed, till the great Randezvouz upon Mount Sion, Rev. 14.1. Where they are the risen Wit­nesses, represented under the notion of One Hundred forty and four Thousand, with their fathers name upon their foreheads— going forth under the conduct of the Lamb, to execute the Judgements written against Antichrist, ver. 7.8, 9, 10, 11, 12. to the end. And no wonder, for all this while, viz. [Page 62] from the time of their slaughter, to the time of their rise, they lie Dead, as to any publick visible witness for Christ; which formerly they bear, till the Spirit of Life, from God, re-enters into them; and they stand upon their feet—.

3. This War against the remnant of the Womans seed, is much about the same time with her second flight into the Wilderness, ver. 14. That that flight of the Woman into the Wilderness is a second flight, is evident. For,

1. She is represented, ver. 10, 12. as coming out of it with Tryumph, Shouting, having greatned confidence, that she should never return thither again; for she sings, ver. 10. Now is come Salvation, and Strength, and the Kingdom of our God, and the Power of his Christ.

2. The Wilderness whether she flies, is call'd HER PLACE, ver. 14. viz. with respect to what's said, ver. 6. with rela­tion to her first flying thither. And the Woman fled into the Wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God. Into this place, which is now call'd, her place, because before prepar'd for her of God, doth she now fly. Now that second flight of the Woman into the Wilderness, is exactly the same with the time of the Witnesses lying dead; She is nourish't for a time, times, and half a time, from the face of the Serpent: So the Witnesses lye dead a time [one Year] times [two Years] and half a time [half a Year] viz. Three Years and a half which is congruous to the Scripture-Notion of time, or times, Dan. 4.23, 25.

VI. That in the time of this War, there is a Gospel-Church-state, is evident. For,

1. There's the Woman, i. e. the Saints in Church-Commu­nion Worshipping God in the wayes of Christs Institution (for upon this account she's call'd the Woman, Bride of Christ, as hath been proved) fled into the Wilderness, just (as 'twere) upon its commencement.

2. The Remnant of the Womans seed which keep the Com­mandments of God, ver. 17. If by the Commandments of God, we understand the Commandments of God the Father, or of Jesus Christ, it comes all to one. For one great Command­ment of the Father to the Sons of Men, is to hear Christ, [Page 63] Deut. 18.18, 19. And on the Holy Mount, a voice is heard to the same purpose, Mat. 17.5. And Christ tells us, that those that have heard, and learnt of the Father, come to him; viz. to be instucted by him, John 6.45. And he that hears him, i. e. obey's, subjects to him, his in-doctrinations, teach­ings, hears the Father.

3. They are also said to have the Testimony of Jesus. i. e.

1. Negatively, they hold not to the Decrees, Canons, Laws, Institutions of Pope, Councils, Fathers, &c. They abhor to comply with any Antichristian Superstitions, Worship, Orders, Ordinances: would they have done so, the Devil had never gon about to make War against them. The Spirit testifyes of them, that they were not defiled with Woman, Rev. 14.4. i. e. with none of the Idolatries, Su­perstitions, Fornications of the great Whore, or any of her Daughters.

2. Positively, they do visibly own Jesus Christ, in all his Offices, Laws, Institutions; nor will they be perswa­ded to leave them, or cease to conform to them whatever it cost them. The Lord testifies of them in their risen-state, that they are Virgins, Rev. 14.4. i. e. chast to Christ, faithful to his Institutions.

And thus much touching the Third Period of time, in which it's evident, there are Churches of the institution of Christ. That there are so,

4. At the Witnesses rise, and all along the pouring out of the Vials, is very evident by the same Book of the Revelation: By the way I would modestly give my Judg­ment touching Two things.

I. That the risen-Witnesses, and the Vial-Angels, contem­porize. This seems evident. For,

1. The time of the Witnesses Prophesying, is a time of Mourning to them, being in their Sack-cloth-state, and for the most part the time of Antichrist. rampancy: but at the time of their rise, the scene begins to alter; and the Vengance of God falls so fearfully upon the Antichristians, that the tenth part of the City falls; or one of the Ten Kingdoms totally [Page 64] draws off from Antichrist, and is brought into subjection to Christ: The time of the beginning of the pouring out of the Vials, is a time of Mourning to the Antichristians: for the Vials are Vials of the Pure Wrath of God Almighty pour'd forth in his Authority, and by his Appointment, upon them.

2. From the Witnesses rise, the destruction of the Kingdom of the Beast, or of Antichrist goe's on, till he be wholly de­stroyed, and the Kingdoms become the Lords, Rev. 11.14, 15, 16, 17, 18. The same fate befals the Antichristians under the pouring forth of the Vials: their Kingdom is gradually wasted, consumed, till it cease to be, Rev. 16 from first to last. But this is not a place fully to prosecute this mat­ter.

II. That there are none of the Vials yet poured forth: These few things (amongst others) which must not now be mentioned) lead me captive to the belief of this Asser­tion.

1. The Witnesses, I humbly conceive, are not yet risen, 'tis to be feared not yet slain. Now the risen-witnesses, and Vial-Angels synchronizing, they not being risen, these have not pour'd forth one Vial.

2. We have not yet seen the preparatory work, to the powring forth of the Vials mentioned, Rev. 15.

3. The subject of the Vials are the persons, or things of Antichrist. The Vials being Vials of pure Wrath; on what­ever persons, or things, they fall, they totally consume them; so, as that they shall never stand up, or exist more. What of the Persons, things of Antichrist have been thus removed, destroyed; Are they not all in their splendour, height, glo­ry at this day?

4. The Vial-Angels, and the Stone-smiting, Dan. 2. synchro­nize: the effects of the one, and the other, are the same; viz. the total destruction of Antichrist, and introduction, exaltment, of the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus. But the Stone hath yet not begun to smite; for when it begins so to do, it shall never cease, till the Image be wholly destroyed; and it (the Stone) become a great Mountain filling the whole Earth, [Page 65] Dan. 2.34, 35. Therefore none of the Vials are yet pou­red out. But of this matter we must not now speak at large.

That there are particular Churches upon the rise of the Witnesses, and the pouring out of the Vials, will receive a speedy dispatch.

1. Now the Witnesses (which we have proved to be parti­cular Churches) stand upon their feet—. Begin openly, with their wonted, and perhaps, greater courage and bold­ness to assert, and give Witness to the Wayes, and Instituti­ons of Christ; which all the time of their Prophesying, they were publickly, and in the time of their slaughter, they were privately found in the practice of, Rev. 11.11.

2. Now the Woman that had fled into the Wilderness, and was nourisht there all the time of the Witnesses slaughter, comes out from thence, and shews her self as the true Loyal Spouse of Christ, in her visible subjection to him; in all his glori­ous Institutions, and Appointments. To which time, that prophesie seems to have respect, Cant. 8.5.

3. Now the Temple, of the Tabernacle of the Testimony in Hea­ven is open'd, Rev. 15.5. A few things must be enquired into.

1. What we are to understand by the Temple.

2. Why 'tis call'd, The Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony.

3. In what sense it's said, to be opened.

1. By the Temple, we are to understand the Gospel-Church-state, the Churches, Ordinances, Institutions of CHRIST: which hath been before proved, are represented under that no­tion, with the Reasons thereof.

2. 'Tis call'd, The Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimo­ny; because the presence of God, his Laws, Statutes, Ordi­nances, were with them, amongst them, in a special pecu­liar manner. The Tabernacle of Old was a Type of his special presence with his people then, Exod. 25.8. and 29.45, 46. Levit. 26.11, 12. Therefore God is said to dwell in the Tabernacle; its call'd his Habitation, 2 Sam. 15.25. There he promised to meet with, and speak to his People, Exod. [Page 66] 29.42, 43. This Tabernacle is call'd, the Tabernacle of Testi­mony, Exod. 38.21. Acts 7.44. because in it was the Ark, wherein was the Law, or Testimony. 'Twas at last brought into the Temple at Jerusalem, 1 Chron. 8.4.—2 Chron. 5.5. This here is said to be in Heaven (or appertaining to the Gospel-Ministration) perhaps on purpose to obviate any mistake, the Jews might have of the restitution of their Temple-Worship; q. d. Though I speak of the Temple of the Tabernacle of Testimony; don't think, that I intend that which was built, by Moses, Solomon, and that your Old-Worship thereto affixed, shall be restored; no, I am treating of another kind of Temple, under another Ministration, viz. an Heavenly, which he that speaks from Heaven hath intro­duced. To which appertains the Testimony, Laws, Insti­tutions, he hath given forth; wherein he hath promised to meet his People, bless them, fill them with his Company, Presence, Glory.

3. By the Opening of the Temple of the Tabernacle in Hea­ven, we are not to understand, the introduction of a New-Gospel-Ministration: The vanity, emptiness, ridicule of such an interpretation is from hence manifest; that John saith not, that there shall be a New-Temple built; but on­ly, that the Temple shall be opened, i. e. the Old Temple of the Tabernacle that was standing all the times of the Pagan-Antichristian persecutions. And this very Scripture is of it self evidence sufficient, that at least all the times of Anti­christ, there was an abiding Temple, or Gospel-Church-state, Worship, Worshippers therein. For at the rise of Antichrist we find a Temple, Rev. 11.1. and now at the going forth of the Vial-Angels, this very Temple is open'd: not the least tit­tle, syllable, of the constituting a new one; but the opening the old. The word is not [...] to build; no, nor so much [...], to restore, or repair; but [...], to open that which was already built, and sufficiently beautified by the Lord. The words are perhaps an allusion to 2 Chron. 28.24. & 29.3. The first Scripture tells us, that Ahaz had shut up the doors of the House of the Lord; the latter, that good Heze­kiah open'd them ▪ 'Twas the same House, the same doors [Page 67] (not others) that was shut up and opened. The meaning is, Gospel-Churches that a little before were Worshipping more retiredly, privately, are now again brought to publick view; returned from their Wilderness, retired-state, to an open profession, owning of the Laws, Wayes of JESƲS.

4. The Vial-Angels come out of this Temple thus opened, Rev. 15.6. For they are some of the most Spiritual, princi­pal of the Temple-Worshippers (or members of these Chur­ches) as is evident from their Priestly-array, they are clothed in pure and White-linnen, having their breasts girded with Golden-Girdles: The attire of the Priests, Exod. 28.6, 8. Temple-Worshippers are a Royal Priesthood, 1 Pet. 2.9.

5. During the whole time of the pouring out of the Vials (at the close of which, as is generally granted, Christ comes) we find the continuance of this Temple, ver 8. And the Temple was filled with Smoak from the Glory of God, and from his Power, (i. e. there was a more than ordinary presence of God, with these Temple-Worship­pers) and no man was able to enter into the Temple (viz. to interrupt, disturb the Worshippers there, as formerly they had done) till the seven Plagues of the seven-Angels were fulfilled, (i. e. till they were all pour'd out) Antichrist by them perfectly destroyed, the Glorious Kingdom of our LORD and SAVIOƲR introduced.

CHAP. V.

Gospel-Churches part of that Ministration set on foot by Christ: The whole of that Ministration permanent, to continue to the end of the World. Mat. 28.19, 20. 1 Cor. 11.26. Explained. An Objection Answered. 1 Tim. 6.13, 14. Explained. Heb. 1.1, 2. Considered, opened. The Excellency of the discovery God the Father made of his Will by his Son, above all other discoveries he had before made: nothing new to be added to it. Dan. 9.24. Ex­plained. The [...] who. Vision, and Prophesie what [Page 68] it is. The sealing it up, what it imports. There's no ground left for any New-Ministration, or any alteration in that set on foot by Christ. The reasons of the alteration of the Old Testament-Ministration, with the Institutions thereto belonging. The Gospel-Ministration, Ordinances, must continue, except a greater than Christ come.

Demonstration. V.

THe Gospel-Church-state, with the Churches Institutions, Ordinances thereunto belonging, is part of that Ministra­tion, that was set on foot by the Lord Jesus, when he Taberna­cled amongst men; as hath already been demonstrated. Now the whole of that Ministration that was then set on foot by him, is permanent, and inviolably to be observed to the end of the World. To the proof of which, we now ad­dress our selves.

I. Christ himself seems to intimate as much, when he gives commission to the Apostles, to go forth to preach the Gospel, teaching them who shall be converted by their Mini­stry to observe his whole charge, Mat. 28.19, 20. Go ye therefore, and teach all Nations, Baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the World. Two things are plainly asserted. 1. That whatever Christ gave them in charge to communicate to others, was to be ob­served and kept by them to the end of the World. 2. That the Lord Jesus Christ would all along communicate his presence, to such as should, to that great period of time, be found in the observance of what he commanded.

II. The great Apostle of the Gentiles, who also had seen the Lord, and converst with him, when he was caught up into the third Heavens, expresly asserts concerning one part of this Gospel-Ministration, or one great Ordinance appertain­ing thereunto, (and such an one as none can regularly be found in the practice of, but such as are in a Church-state, Act. 2.42.) viz. The Ordinance of Breaking Bread, that it [Page 69] was to continue to the coming of our Lord, 1 Cor. 11.26. For as often as ye eat this Bread, and drink this Cup, ye do shew forth the Lords death until he come. Christ commanded his Disciples a little before he was offer'd up a Sacrifice for them, to be found in this practice, Luke 22.19, 20.— This do in remembrance of me. And afterwards charges them as they love him, to be found in the observance of it (as of other his Commandments) John 14.15. If ye love me, keep my Commandments. Tells them it's an argument of their love, and true friendship to him so to do, John 14.21, 23. and 15.14. Ye are my Friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Which saith our Apostle, we are to do till our Lord comes.

Object. 1. But we witness the Lord already come to us: therefore we are no longer to be under the observation of it.

Answ. And thus some in the Apostles dayes, were wont to talk, that they had experienced the Resurrection, 'twas to them past already; so endeavouring to evert the great Doctrine of the Gospel, the Resurrection from the Dead. Against whom he smartly disputes, 1 Cor. 15.

But in what sense it is, that any pretend, that Christ is already come, must be a little consider'd.

1. He is come in Spirit, Power, say some. Answ. And so he was before the writing of this Epistle: yea, before any one particular Church was gathered by the Apostles. Never such a coming of Christ in Spirit and Power, as was that in the day of Pentecost, Act. 2. Every believer, 'tis true, witnesses his coming to him in Spirit, Power, Quickning; Raising him from the death of Sin, to the life of Righteous­ness, Sanctifying, Cleansing him; which, whoever doth not, whatever his profession is, or by what name soever he is call'd, he is not a Believer: but in this sense, he was already come to these Corinthians, before Paul writ this Epistle to them. He ownes them for a Church of God, affirmes that they were Sanctified in Christ Jesus, call'd to be Saints, that the grace of God was given them by Christ Jesus; that in every thing they were enriched by him, in all utte­rance, [Page 70] and in all knowledge, that the testimony of Christ was confirmed in them; so that they came behind in no Spiritu­ral gift; that they were call'd unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ, 1 Cor. 2.4, 5, 6, 7, 9. with much more that might be mentioned, evidently declaring, that Christ was in Spirit, Power, already come to them; yet the Apostle speaks of another coming, till which, the Saints are to be found in the practice of this institution; which coming also, these Corin­thians waited for, 1 Cor. 1.7. Waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Object. 2. He is come already to some in person; say others, there's therefore an end of this Institution, the whole Mini­stration.

Answ. But the coming of Christ in a corner, is not the coming the Apostle here speaks of—. 'Tis an unscriptural, anti-scriptural notion (as hath been demonstrated); but that coming which the Corinthians, with all the Saints ever since his departure, have been waiting for, viz. his Glorious, Vi­sible coming in the Clouds of Heaven, when every eye shall see him.

III. The same Apostle most solemnly charges his beloved Son Timothy, to keep the Commandment without spot, to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Tim. 6.13, 14. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession, that thou keep this Commandment without spot—till the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. What's meant by Commandment? Answer, The words in the Greek are [...], That you keep the Commandment. So the Ar. Syr. V.L. render it; His Commandment, so the Aeth. reads it: [...], is put for [...], the Command­ment, for the Commandments; so Piscator renders it, Ʋt serves haec mandata, that thou keep these Commandments, viz. the Com­mandments he had, as the Apostle of Jesus Christ, communi­cated to Timothy from Christ. These Believers were to ob­serve, keep, till the appearing of Christ Jesus. If the words be strictly adhered to, and there be no enallage of the number allowed, it comes to the same purpose. For 'twill [Page 71] not I presume, be denied, that by Commandment we are not to understand any Commandment given forth by Paul's pri­vate Spirit; but the Commandment of Christ through him. Now of all Christ's Commandments, there's the same reason, our reception, owning of, obedience to any one, is grounded upon his Soveraign Authority: If I may reject one, I may reject all; and if I am bound to attend to, obey one, I am bound to attend to, obey all. For 'tis the same Law-giver, that hath given them all forth. Besides, the Apostle in this Epistle, Chap. 5.21. charges him before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Elect Angels, that he observe the things delivered to him, without preferring one before another: which seems to be the Commandment, he thus solemnly charges him in the words under consideration, to keep without spot, and unblameable to the coming of Christ. The plain meaning is, the Apostle writes this Epstle to Timothy, on purpose to instruct him how to behave himself in the Church of God, Chap. 3.15. He had given him sundry directions touching the Officers to be chosen in the Church, Chap. 3. Speaks of the Apostasie from the Doctrine, and Worship of the Gospel that should be in an after-day, Chap. 4. (of which also he had treated in his second Epistle to the Thessalonians, Chap. 2.) would have him put the Brethren in remembrance of these things, Chap. 4.6. charges him to give attendance to the work of the Ministry, to which he was call'd; to take heed to the Doctrine, relating to Faith, and Church-order, which was deliver'd to him, Chap. 4.14, 16. which he calls that which was committed to his trust, which he commands him to keep, Chap. 6.20. yea, to command and teach to others, Chap. 4.10. And having charged him to observe all these things without partiality, Chap. 5.21. he in this place most solemnly com­mands him to keep that Commandment of his. The sum is, 1. Whatever the Apostle had charged upon Timothy, relating to the Doctrine and Worship of the Gospel; to the Church, and the Institutions thereof; he was not only to observe himself, but to command others also to do so. 2. That these Orders, Institutions, Ordinances, were to continue to the next Glorious Personal coming of our Lord Jesus, and the Saints [Page 72] in their several Generations, are till then, to be found in the conscientious observance, and practice of them; whence it necessarily follows, that the Ministration introduced by Christ (which for the most part consists in what we have but now instanc'd in) must continue till that day.

IV. Our Apostle give us a farther, and most ample de­monstration of the Truth pleaded for, Heb. 1.1, 2. God who at sundry times, and in divers manners spake in times past to the Fathers, hath in these last dayes spoken unto us by his Son. The last dayes, are the last dayes of the Judaick Church-state, the whole oeconomy; all the Laws, Statutes, Orders, Institutions thereunto appertaining. God hath spoken—i. e. God the Father hath done so by his Son, in his personal Ministry, when he tabernacled amongst men. The design of the Apo­stle in the words under consideration it's obvious, is to give the Gospel-Ministration a preferrence above all that went be­fore it. And this he doth especially two wayes.

1. The discoveries God made of his Will to the Fathers in times past, he made by the Prophets: but the discovery of his Will in the Gospel-Ministration, is by his Son. Now though 'tis true, the Prophets were worthy, excellent, glo­rious ones; yet they were but [...], meer men; but [...] the Sons of Adam: The Son of God, the Mediator of the New-Covenant (by whom the Father spake, when he dwelt amongst us) is fair, fair above them all, Psal. 45. Transcends them all in Beauty, Excellency, Authority, Glo­ry, as being [...], that Son, that well-beloved Son of the Father in whom he was well pleased.

2. All the discoveries that were before, were but partial, gradual. He gave a hint to Adam, to Noah; spake more plainly to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Gen. 12.1, 2, 3, 4. Chap. 15.11, 12. and 17.1, 2. and 26.24. Chap. 49. After­ward to Moses in giving the Law, and erection of the Juda­ick-Church; when there was such a discovery of the mind of God, that lookt like so perfect a model, that nothing further was to be expected; yet he afterward spake by Da­vid, the Prophets, Ezra, &c. but now by his Son, he hath made a perfect, and full discovery of his Mind, and Will; [Page 73] so as nothing more, nothing new, nothing beyond it is to be expected. That such a discovery should be made by him, was before Prophesied of him, Dan. 9.24. Seventy Weeks are determined upon the People—to finish the transgression— to seal up the Vision, and Prophesie, and to anoint the most Holy. That 'tis a Prophesie of Christ, is generally ac­knowledged by both Christians, and Jews. Nachmanides tells us [...], this Holy of Holies (or the most Holy, as we translate) is the Messiah, who is sanctified from amongst the Sons of David. The work he was to do when he came in the World, is amply decypher'd, viz. to Finish transgression, to make an end of Sins, to make reconcilia­tion for iniquities, and to bring in everlasting Righteousness, and to seal up the Vision, and Prophesie. This last is, what we are at present concerned to take notice of. Two things must be enquired into.

1. What's meant by Vision, and Prophesie.

2. In what sense the [...] the Holy of Holyes, or the Holiness of Holinesses, the Messiah, CHRIST, sealed up the Vision, and Prophesie.

1. Touching the first, by Vision and Prophesie, we are to understand, all the wayes of discovery of the mind and Will of God, he was pleased to make use of for the instruction of the Judaick-Church therein.

2. As to the second, Christ sealed the Vision and Prophesie, by finishing, perfecting it, so as no more was, or needed to be added thereunto, as to the making the discovery of the Fathers will compleat. So the Word [...] Chatham (transla­ted seal) signifies, Ezek. 28, 12. Thou sealest up the Summe: Vatablus, and the Tigurine render it, Tues omnibus numeris ab­solutum exemplar; Thou art in all respects a perfect example. And to the same purpose, Castalion. The Syriack renders it, by a word that signifies as to Seal, so to compleat, make perfect; and the Arabick, by a word, that signifies to make an end of speaking. When a man hath writ the whole of his mind he intends to communicate in his letter, he seals it up. The meaning is, God had divers wayes, and manners, in dayes past, revealed his Will to the Church; at last he [Page 74] sent his Son, as the great and last Prophet, who fully, per­fectly discovers his mind to her; so that a further In­struction there needs not, nor is there to be expected. But,

V. There's no ground left for any New-Ministration, or any Alteration in that set on foot by Christ. The reasons of the alteration of the Old-Testament-Ministration, with the Institutions, Ordinances thereunto appertaining, may be reduced to a twofold-head.

1. They all pointed at, had respect to the Messiah, Christ, to come, Rom. 10.4. Christ is the end of the Law. This the Apostle asserts to be the ground of its abolition, Heb. 10.1, 9.

2. Christ was to come during its continuance, as Lord over his own House, with more ample Power, and Autho­rity than any that went before him, Heb. 1.1, 2, 3. & 3.5, 6. He had then Power, Authority, to confirm, remove, abolish as he pleased; and none could say unto him in this matter, What dost thou? But neither of these can be supposed as the ground of altering, discontinuing the Ministration set on foot by Christ. He was then already come, tabernacled a­mong men: and come he was, as the great Prophet, Lord, King, of the Church; and as such, gives forth Laws for them to subject, conform to.

VI. The Gospel-Ministration, Institutions, must continue, ex­cept a greater than Christ come. The Law was given forth by Moses, it continued thousands of Years; and notwith­standing the degeneracy, corruption that was amongst the People, none could put a period to it; the Church was bound to the observation of it, to the coming of Christ, Mal. 4.4. with Deut. 34.10. and that upon this foot of account; because till Christ, none rose up greater than he. Therefore Paul going about to demonstrate to the Jews the abolition of the Mosaick Ministration, layes the Foundation of his discourse in the super-eminent Authority of the Lord Jesus. 'Tis true, the Law was most solemnly given forth by the Ministration of Angels in the hands of Moses, but Christ is above Angels, Heb. 1.4. and 2.2. above Moses, chap. 3.3. [Page 75] Is there any greater, superiour to Christ? If not (as most certain it is there is not; to assert it, is the height of Antichri­stianism, 'tis blasphemy against the Son) then the Ministration instituted by him, must of necessity continue till he come to put a period to it. For it must be a greater, and superior, that can abolish or alter what is establisht.

CHAP. VI.

The end for which Christ Instituted the Gospel-Church-state, Churches, Ordinances, the same; and will continue so to the time of the consummation of all things. The particular ends instanc'd in. Sanctifying the Name of the Lord in Worship, what it is. A solemn, publick, avowed, owning, subjection to Christ, setting forth the Lords honour, publishing his praises. Eph. 3.21. Explained. Saints mutual edification, growth. The confir­mation of their mutual Love to each other. Are some of the ends for which Christ instituted Gospel-Churches, Ordinances, demonstrated.

Demonstration. VI.

THE end for which, the Lord Jesus establisht the Gospel-Church-state, Gospel-Churches, Institutions, Ordinances, is the same that ever 'twas, and will continue so to be till the time of the consummation of all things. Whence its continua­tion necessarily follows. Let's a little consider what were the ends for which God from the beginning, instituted a Church-state in the World. Amongst others that perhaps might be mentioned, these are the chief.

I. The Sanctification of his name therein, Lev. 10.3. This is that which the Lord hath said, I will be Sanctified in all those that draw nigh to me—. 'Tis of the solemn Wor­ship of God in that Church-state he is there speaking: In [Page 76] particular, touching that Institution of sacrificeing to the Lord. The sanctification of his name therein, is asserted to be one great end of the Lord in that institution: a failure wherein cost Nadab, and Abihu dear; they thereby provo­ked the Lord, and he brake forth in his fury against them, and slew them before the People. This also is asserted to be the end of the Gospel-Church-state, Gospel-Institutions, Heb. 12.28, 29. Wherefore we receiving a Kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace whereby we may serve God, acceptably with REVERENCE, and GODLY FEAR, for our God is a consuming Fire. By the Kingdom which cannot be shaken, we have already demonstrated, is meant the Gospel-Church-state, therein they were to serve God acceptably, with reverence, and Godly fear, i. e. they were to sanctifie his name in their attendment on him in the Institutions appertaining thereun­to; which if they neglect to do, they may expect to find the Lord, as Nadab, and Abihu did, a consuming fire to them. Before we come to a full Conclusion of this matter, 'twill not be altogether impertinent or unprofitable to remark what it is to sanctifie the Name of the Lord in Solemn-Gospel-Wor­ship. In order whereunto there must be,

1. A single respect to, a Holy reverence of God's Soveraign Authority in its appointment. The Laws, Edicts of men, have no place here. Should we be found in the practice of what God commands, and therein have no regard to his Commandment, Authority; but the Commandments, Injuncti­ons of men, we sanctifie not his name therein. The Autho­rity of God instituting it, is laid as the Foundation of, and motive to all our Worship, Deut. 6.4, 5, 6, 7. and 28.58. Mat. 28.18, 19, 20. Heb. 3.4, 5, 6. What's bottom'd meer­ly upon the wills, laws of men, is not the Worship of God; 'tis Superstitious, Idolatrous, Vain, Empty, good for nothing; that which the Soul of the Lord loaths, abhors; it pro­vokes him to Jealousie, whatever outward splendour, beau­ty, shew of Devotion it may seem to have in it. How great a part of the Worship of the Papacy is hereby discarded, is known: It being solely built upon the Au­thority of Popes, Councils, Fathers, Traditions, Laws, [Page 77] Edicts of Men; totally forraign, contrary to Jehovah's Law.

2. There must be also Faith in the Promises of God an­nexed to the observance of these Institutions. That there are special promises of Favour, Grace, Kindness to such as Conscientiously attend upon him herein, shall afterwards be demonstrated. Faith is required with respect to these Pro­mises: He that comes unto God (draws nigh to him in Gos­pel-Institutions) must believe that he is, and that he is a re­warder of them that diligently seek him. Heb. 11.6.

3. There must be a Holy, Awfull regard unto his special Presence in them. He walks in the midst of his Golden Can­dlesticks, Rev. 1.13. dwells in his Churches, 2 Cor. 6.16. 'Tis true, he fills Heaven, and Earth, with his presence, is in­distant to no creature, the vilest of Men, or Devils; but he hath promised a more special Presence with his Children, as they are attending him in his own appointments, for their further enlightning, quickning, comfort, strengthning, growth, increasment in the Grace of God, Mat. 18.20. If persons at­tend on Divine Institutions, and realize not the special pre­sence of the Lord there; no wonder if they are carnal, for­mal, dead, lifeless in them, meet with no feeling of his Pow­er, sights of his Glory—.

4. There must be an attendment to the due order, in which the Lord will have all managed. A failure herein, caused the Lord of old to make a breach upon Ʋzzah (he smote him, slew him, when they were about to bring the Ark from Kirjath-jearim, 1 Chron. 13.11.) 1 Chron. 15.13. The Lord our God made a breach upon us for that we sought him not after the due Order. All must be managed in the Spirit, Power, of Jehovah: he's put into office by the Father, and the Son, to enable in the managery of Divine Service, Rom. 8.26. Alas! sorry weak man, is altogether unable for the dispatch of such sublime, Heavenly Work. Let men at their utmost peril, contemn, deride the assistance of the Spirit here­in; they never worship God aright, who are strangers to it, nor without it will ever be able to please him in what they do.

[Page 78]5. There must be also a holy delight in God: the lively stirring up, exertings, puttings forth of the grace of God in us. 'Tis not so easie a matter for persons to sanctifie the Name of God in Worship, as many suppose it to be. We cannot of our selves, in our own creaturely power, serve him who is a jealous God.

6. There must be a perseverance, continuance, unto the end, in obedience to him, in a due observation of, and sub­jection to him, in Gospel-Institutions: otherwise we deny his name, prophane it (as much as in us lyes, make Religion, Christianity, a ridicule, contempt in the World) instead of Sanctifying it. Are any of these things vacated, not to be heed­ed, attended to? Who that pretends in sobriety to Christi­anity, hath the forehead to avouch, affirm it?

II. Another end of Gospel-Institutions is, Our solemn, pub­lick, avowed, owning of, subjection to the Lord Jesus. 'Twas from the beginning, one end of God, in his erecting of Worship, that his People might therein, solemnly own, avouch, him to be their God, Lord, Soveraign; and they his Loyal Subjects, faithful Servants, Deut. 26.16, 17, 18. This day the Lord thy God hath commanded thee to do these Statutes, and Judgments: Thou shalt therefore keep, and do them, with all thy heart, and all thy soul. Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in his Wayes, and to keep his Sta­tutes, and his Commandments, and his Judgements, and to har­ken unto his Voice. And the Lord hath avouched thee this day, to be his peculiar People as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his Commandments. If we will have God for our God, visibly own him as such, we must conform to his Institutions; our publick acknowledgment of him, as such, lyes therein. The World know nothing of the Saints act­ings of Faith, Love, the secret communion they have with GOD: nor do they, can they take much notice of them as to their Closet, Family-Service: but when found in the practice of the Institutions of the Lord, then are they in the view of men, publickly declaring that God's their God, and they his People, Josh. 24.18, 21, 22. is to the same pur­pose, 2 Cor. 8.5. First gave their own selves to the Lord, i. e. [Page 79] chose him for their God, resign'd up themselves, all that they were, and had, wholly to the Lord to be at his dis­pose: And unto us by the Will of God; i. e. they solemnly avouched, publickly owned, declared this God to be theirs, by their entring into the fellowship of the Gospel, walking in the wayes of his appointment, owning, subjecting to, the Ordinances of Jesus declared to them by us. Nor can there be a full owning of the Lord (to speak modestly) without a conscientious walking herein: neither will the Lord look up­on ought we do, whilest in the wilful neglect of his Institu­tions to be such an owning of him. He will be acknow­ledged to be our God, not in the way of our own wills, but in the wayes he hath appointed us so to do. The sole question is (and yet one would wonder it should be a questi­on amongst any that profess the fear of the Lord) Whe­ther it be the duty of Saints publickly to own, acknowledge him to be their GOD? Which if granted, it cannot be de­nied, but the Gospel-Church-state, with the Institutions there­unto belonging, is yet in being; and must be so, whilest there are any Saints in this World, whose duty 'tis so to own him: for one end aimed at by the Lord Jesus in the establishment of these Institutions, was, (as hath been pro­ved) that Saints should solemnly own, acknowledge him therein.

III. A third end of this Gospel-Church-state, is to set forth the Lords honour, publish his praises, Eph. 3.21. Ʋnto him be glory in the Churches by Christ Jesus, throughout all Ages, World without end, Amen.

Two things are here plainly asserted by the Apostle.

1. That there shall be a continuation of Churches though­out all ages, World without end: and of such Churches, both for Matter, and Form, (at least) as were in the Apostles dayes; walking with Christ in all the wayes of his appoint­ment. One would wonder at the confidence of persons, who have the forehead to assert the cessation of Churches, Ordi­nances, in open opposition to what is affirmed here by the Apostle of our Lord: who speaks so fully, plainly, to their continuation, 'till the end of the World, that all the wit of [Page 80] man cannot possibly find out any evasion. Had he said on­ly, They should continue, [...], to, or throughout Generations, or Ages, 'twould have been said, true; but when the Apo­stles fell asleep, and a second Generation also was past, a general apostacy came in, and there was a period of the Church-state: To obviate which cavil, he industriously (as 'twere) affirms their continuance [...] into all, or throughout all Generations, or Ages: and as if that were not full enough to express his intendment of their continuance till time should be no more; he adds, that they should be [...], throughout all Ages of the World, of Worlds, or Age of Ages. The Apostles seems to allude to two Hebrew Phrases, [...] Psal. 10.6. I shall never be in Adversity; the word is, unto Generation, and Generation: And that Isa. 45.17. [...] Ye shall not be ashamed, nor confounded, World without end. Their continuance till the end of this World, is evidently what's his intendment.

2. That one end of the Institution of these Churches, is, that God may be praised in them, by them, is also asserted. Is this end terminated? Is it not the duty of Saints to praise the Lord; and to praise him in the wayes he hath appoin­ted? If he hath instituted Churches for this end; 'tis the duty of Saints to praise him in them. If for this end he hath Appointed their continuance throughout all Ages, they must of necessity so continue, or God failes of his end, which is abominable Blasphemous to assert. See to the same pur­pose, Heb. 2.12. 1 Pet. 2.9.

IV. Another end of the Gospel-Church-state, is Saints mu­tual Edification, Growth, till they all come in the Ʋnity 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, 1 Cor. 14.26. Let all things be done to edifying, Eph. 4.11, 12, 13, 29. 1 Thes. 5.11. Jude 20. Have Saints no further need of edification, building up? Are they come to a Per­fect man, unto the measure of the Stature of the fulness of Christ? Who dare aver it? Can there be a more proper medium, way, or means, fixt upon, for the effecting this noble, and glorious end, than what the Lord propos'd, viz. their walk­ing [Page 81] together in the fellowship of the Gospel, in the practice of all the Institutions of Christ? What ever persons may think, as none can desert the way Appointed by the Lord, for the production of this end, without a tremendous ad­vance against the Wisdom of God, his Love to, and Care of his Children; so they'l find, any other fixt upon by them, will prove altogether insuccessful as to the end aimed at.

V. The confirmation of the Saints mutual love one to ano­ther, is also frequently asserted to be one great end of this Appointment, Eph. 5.2. 1 Thes. 3.12. 1 John 3.22. 1 Cor. 10.16, 17. 'Tis certainly our duty to keep this Command­ment of our Lord, yea, to abound in love more and more each to other: The means then appointed by the Lord for that end, must Conscientiously be atended to.

CHAP. VII.

The Gospel-Church-State, with the Institutions, Ordinances there­unto appertaining, is annex'd unto, and bottomed upon the New-Covenant: Demonstrated from Scripture-Prophesie, Isa. 59.21. Ezek. 11.19, 20. and 36.25, 26, 27. at large explained. From several places in the New-Testament; wherein 'tis clearly asserted so to be, Luk. 22.19, 20. 1 Cor. 11.24, 25, 26. Heb. 10.16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25. Considered. That they belong not to the Old Covenant, proved. The donation of the Spirit, Faith, Peace, Joy, &c. From the New-Covenant: these Communicated, as we are found attending on the Lord in Gospel-Institutions. These are given forth to the Saints for the trial of their Love, Loyalty, as they stand related, are betrothed to him in the New-Covenant, Jer. 3.14, 15. Explained.

Demonstration. VII.

THE Gospel-Church-state, with the Institutions, Ordinances thereunto appertaining, is annexed unto, bottom'd upon the New-Covenant: Therefore it's perpetual, abiding. The [Page 82] consequence is evident; what is annext to, bottom'd upon, that which is permanent, cannot be it self otherwise: it must abide, continue, as that to which it's affixt, on which it's bottom'd does. The whole Judaick-Church-State, with all its Or­dinances, Institutions, was built upon that Covenant God of Old, took Israel into, Heb. 9.1. This Covenant was mu­table, changeble; a time was fixt by the Lord for it's abo­lition: Represented at first in the breaking of the Tables of Stone, in which the Law, or Covenant was writ, Exod. 32.19. Yet so long as that abode, the Institutions thereunto apper­taining were in force; therefore the Apostle, being to prove the cessation of the Jewish-Church-state, amongst other medi­ums, makes use of this as one, that the Covenant God took that people into, was perioded, abolished, Heb. 8.6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13. So then, if the Gospel-Church-state, Ordinances, are an­next to the New-Covenant; they are, cannot but be, perma­nent: except that Covenant also be supposed, and can be proved to be otherwise. That the Gospel-Church-state, and all the Ordinances thereof, are annext to, and bottom'd upon the New-Covenant, is evident from

1. Scripture-Prophesie, declaring that so it shall be, Isa. 59.21. As for me, this is my Covenant with them, saith the Lord, My Spirit that is upon thee, and My Words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth; nor out of the mouth of thy Seed, nor out of the Mouth of thy Seed's Seed, saith the Lord; from hence-forth, and for ever. 'Tis the Covenant that God takes believers into, the Gospel-Covenant that he speaks of: This is my Covenant with them; these are call'd: Christ's Seed. So Chap. 53.10. Concerning them, he saith, that the words which he puts into the mouth of Christ, i. e. whatever he gave Christ (as the great Prophet of the Church) in charge to communicate to them; all the Laws, Instituti­ons given forth by Christ, were part of Gods words he put into his mouth. Shall not depart out of their mouths, i. e. they shall be found in the practice of, subjecting to them; whilst there are any Saints in this World, they shall be so. And this as a branch, part of that Covenant God takes them into, Ezek. 11.19, 20. And I will give them one heart, and I will [Page 83] put a new Spirit within you, and I will take the stony-heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: that they may walk in my Statutes, and keep mine Ordinances, and do them; and they shall be My People, and I will be their GOD. The former part of the words, I will give them one heart— and the latter, they shall be my People, and I will be their GOD; are the sum, and substance of the New-Covenant, Jer. 32.29. Unto this then the Statutes, and Ordinances do evidently appertain: for the Lord takes them to be his People, gives himself to them to be their GOD; gives them one heart, puts a new Spirit within them—that they may walk in his Statutes, keep his Ordinances, and do them. If there be any Saints under the New-Covenant, if a new Spi­rit be put within them, then are there also Statutes and Or­dinances (Gospel-Institutions) for them to walk in; and in their doing so, they discover themselves to be Gods People, as he is their God, Ezek. 36.25, 26, 27. is fully to the same purpose: Then will I sprinkle clean Water upon you, and ye shall be clean from all your filthyness, and from all your Idols will I cleanse you: A new Heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the Stony-heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an Heart of Flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to Walk in in my Statutes, and ye shall keep my Judgements to do them. If the donation of the Spirit, Regeneration, Sanctification, be a part, branch, of the New-Covenant; the Statutes, and Judg­ments of the LORD are so too: and these, such a part of it, that there's at least ground of Jealousie, whether any are really made partakers of the former, who are found (except under the power of temptation) in the total neglect, rejection of these: for the Spirit, &c. is given to cause them to Walk in Gods Statutes, and to keep his Judgments. And it's worthy observation, that God hath equally obliged himself to cause his People to walk in the wayes of his In­stitution, as to give the Spirit, &c. to them. So that evi­dently, there must be a continuation of Churches, Ordinan­ces; or there are no Saints, there's an end of the New-Covenant.

[Page 84]2. And as it's fore-prophesied of that, in the dayes of the New-Covenant-oeconomy thus it should be; so it's evi­dently declared, that upon the Introduction of that Mini­stration, so it was: Gospel-Institutions, and Ordinances, are plainly asserted to be annexed to the New-Covenant. Christ himself intimates, as much, Luke 22.19, 20. And he took Bread, and gave Thanks, and break it; and gave unto them, saying, This is my Body which was given for you: This do in remembrance of me: likewise also the Cup after Supper, say­ing, This Cup is the New-Testament in my Blood, which is shed for you. As circumcision was call'd the Covenant (as upon other acounts, so) because, 'twas a part, or branch of it: so is this institution of Christ, call'd the New-Testament; because a part, or branch thereof. And if it be Objected, That this is only asserted of the Cup, one part of one insti­tution, not of the whole; much less of all Gospel-Institutions: The Answer is easie; what's asserted of any one part, is true of the whole; and if the Cup be the New-Testament, the Bread is so; and if one institution be so, every one is so too. At the same rate the Apostle speaks after he had seen the Lord, and convers'd with him, 1 Cor. 11.24, 25, 26. And most evidently, fully, Heb. 10.16, to 26. where he tells us, that our drawing nigh (viz. to God in wayes of Gospel-In­stitutions, the profession of our Faith (which lies eminently in our subjection to him therein) the assembling our selves together, to exhort one another (which he would not have us forget) is annext to, bottomed upon the New-Covenant, of which he is ex professo treating: And a wilful rejection of these in open despight of Christ, and contempt of his Autho­rity, he calls, v. 29. A treading under foot the Son of God, because it's a high affront to his Soveraign Authority) an accounting the Blood of the Covenant an unholy thing (not only because these Institutions are annext to that Covenant which was ratified by the blood of Christ; but also because they have all their Foundation in that Blood, our approximation to God in them, our advantage by them, is the issue of its effusion) and a doing despite unto the Spirit of Grace; be­cause as hath been proved, they are all the Ministration of [Page 85] that Spirit: should God immediately by himself speak from Heaven to us, and declare in so many words, These Gospel-Institutions establisht by My Son, are all of them bottomed upon, annext to the New-Covenant; we could not have a greater certainty that they are so, than what is in that Scrip­ture-evidence we have hitherto been discoursing of. But,

3. They belong to the Old-Covenant, or the New. There's no medium. To the Old-Covenant, it's most▪ certain they appertain not. Other manner of Ordinances, which were only to continue to the Gospel-day, as Circumcision, Sacri­fices—appertained thereunto: not the least notice under that Covenant, as any part of the oeconomy thereof, of par­ticular Churches, Baptism, Breaking-Bread—Christ came to put a Period to that Paedagogie; and all the Laws, Institu­tions thereunto appertaining; and vertually did so by his Death; actually, by providential dispensations; taking out of the way, destroying that Temple to which they were peculiarly affixt. And becoming a Mediator of a better Co­venant, established uppon better Promises, as such, he gives forth the Laws, and Institutions we are pleading for; of which afterwards.

4. The Communications of Divine Life, the Royal ma­nifestations of the Love of GOD to us; the bestowment of the Spirit upon us; Divine peace, comfort, support, upholdment, with whatever Grace we are made partakers of, are all conveyed in the way of the New-Covenant. Now, whatever any talk, the communication of these, as 'tis pro­mised to us, as we have found attending upon the Lord in his own Institutions (of which more anon); so the Saints, in every day, at this day, through wonderful riches of Grace, are under the enjoyment of. The Spirit is received, Faith communicated, Peace, and Joy shed abroad upon the hearts of Believers, as they conscientiously attend on these appoint­ments of Christ. Such as know not these things, or having known them (through the power of temptation) slight, un­dervalue them, are to be pitied, not attended to, or re­garded in their present apprehensions touching them.

[Page 86]5. That God hath a people, that he hath in the New, and everlasting Covenant taken unto himself, for a peculiar People, will not be denied. To these God gives himself as their GOD; he betroths, marries them to himself; and they give up themselves spontaneously unto him as a People, to own, subject to his Authority, Soveraignty, and to profess their so doing by a conformity to whatever Com­mands, Injunctions, he shall lay upon them. Gospel-In­stitutions he gives forth for the trial of their Love, Loyalty to him; charges them to be found in the practice of them (as hath been proved). Their obedience, subjection here­unto, he looks upon as a great part of their Loyalty to him in the Conjugal-Covenant he hath taken them into with him­self, Jer. 3.14, 15. Turn O back-sliding Children, saith the Lord, for I am married unto you, and I will take you one of a City, and two of a Family, and I will bring you to Zion. And I will give you Pastors according to mine Heart, which shall feed you with knowledge, and understanding. Where coming unto Zion, or our attendment on God in wayes of his own Appointment, is asserted to be that wherein our Marriage-relation to him stands: Hence departing from these, is call'd Whoredom, Adultery; and those that do so, The great Whore, the Mother of Harlots, and fornications of the Earth. The sum is, Gospel-Churches, Institutions, are bottomed upon the New-Covenant: therefore abiding.

CHAP. VIII.

The Churches that have been, are, are the Churches of Christ, or Antichrist. They are not the Churches of Antichrist, proved. The matter of Antichristian-Churches; and of the present Churches: The Form, Foundation, Doctrine, Worship, Nature, Characters, Properties, of the one, and the other, considered. 1 Tim. 4.1. The Daemons there mentioned, what they are; [Page 87] Their Original, Office, manner of Worshipping them; the Doc­trines of Daemon's the Doctrine of the Apostatick-Synagogue of Rome.

Demonstration. VIII.

THat there have been persons under the profession of the Name of Christ, congregated together, for the solemni­zation of Ordinances, from the first-times of the Gospel hither­to, hath been before proved: That there are so still, cannot be denied. Now these Churches must be either the Churches of Christ, or the Churches of Antichrist. There's no medium. A Church that was neither of Christ, nor Antichrist, was ne­ver yet heard of in the world, since the first-dawning of the Gospel-day. So then, if we demonstrate, that the present Chur­ches are not Antichristian-churches, we evince them to be the Churches of Christ; and a continuation of the Gospel-Church-State, at least hitherto, is evidently discover'd. That they are not Churches of Antichrist is easily demonstrated. They wholly differ from the Antichristian-Church in respect of matter, form, foundation, doctrine, worship, nature, characters, properties. Touch­ching which, it's needful that we particularly discourse.

First then, the Matter of the Antichristian-church, is, whoe­ver own's the Christian Faith, make's a Profession of it, though never so deboysh, vile, wicked; to every good work, repro­bate. Notwithstanding all their pompous shews of Religion, Forms of Godliness, they are really such as have pleasure in Unrighteousness, 2 Thes. 2.12. Is this the matter constitutive of the present Churches? Do they admit persons of so black a character into their Communion? If any such spots are found amongst them, do they tollerate, indulge them? Are not the rules of Christ prosecuted, till they (appearing to be persons of a reprobate mind) are rejected out of their fel­lowship? Is it not the avowed principles of all the Chur­ches, that such as these, are not fit matter for any Church of Christ? Can they be charged with walking contrary to their principles in this matter? Who hath the confidence, impudence, thus to charge any one of them? 'Tis true, [Page 88] now, and then, some scandalous persons are found amongst them (and so there were in the Primitive Churches, as in the Church of Corinth, &c.) that crept in unawares; but they are matter of grief, humbling to them; and they do not, dare not, cannot suffer them in their Communi­on.

2. The Form (if it may be so call'd) of the Antichristian-Church lie's in a forcible compelling persons into, and vio­lent keeping them in its communion, and fellowship. If you'l not be one with them, then Fines, Imprison­ment, Bonds attend you; Penal Laws, and Statutes are En­acted for this end; and by these are men brought into, and kept in the Antichristian-church: And were these weapons of▪ its warfare taken away, 'twould soon become as a gar­den of Cucumbers, or perish with its own weight. The at­tempts of the Papacy, to reduce persons into their Communi­on, by Fire, and Sword; their labours to preserve the Uni­nity of their Church this way is known. Is there any thing like it owned by, or to be found, amongst the present Chur­ches? Do they not with one mouth affirm, that 'tis a vo­luntary departure from the worlds way, and a spontaneous giving up themselves to the Lord, and one another, to walk with him in a subjection to his institutions, wherein the form of the Churches lies? Herein is a most Evident difference betwixt Them, and the Antichristian-Church. They talk of no compulsions, but those of the Spirit, and Love, that make a people Volunteers in the day of the Lord's Power. Lex no­va non se vindicat ultore gladio, is their Motto, as is known.

3. The Foundation of the Antichristian-Church, is not Jesus Christ; but the Sons of men, one, or other of them; their Laws, Canons, Decretals, upon which it is built. Is this the case of the present Churches? Do they not all of them, with full consent, proclaim their abhorrency of such a Foun­dation? Is not CHRIST, in their account, the alone Foun­dation of all the True Churches in the world, and they prac­tise accordingly. Their debates touching this matter, with the Papelins, about Mat. 16.18. from whence these endea­vour to prove Peter, and consequentially (as they'd have it) the [Page 89] Pope to be the Rock upon which the Church is built; is known to all that look upon themselves concern'd in these mat­ters.

4. The Doctrine of the Anti-christian-Church, is a Doctrine of Devils, 1 Tim. 4.1. [...], the doctrines of Daemons, so the learned Mede renders it. Some carry it thus, doctrines which devils are the Authors of: There's a great deal of truth in that, all the doctrines of the Anti-christian-church, that are peculiarly hers, are the doctrines of Devils. But I rather think, with that learned person, that by doctrines of Daemons, is meant those doctrines that have the Daemons for their Object. Now these Daemons (that were worshipped by the Pagans) were 1. For their nature, and degree, supposed by the Gentiles, an inferior, and middle sort of divine powers, between the soveraign and heavenly Gods, and mortal Men. 2. For their Office, to be as medi­ators, and agents between these soveraign Gods, and Men. 3. For their original, either Angels, or the Deified-souls of Worthy-men after death. 4. For the way of Worshipping them, to find and receive benefits from them; 'twas by Con­secrated-Images, and Pillars. 5. Their very Reliques were adored, and brought into Temples. They that desire to see more touching this matter, may at their leasure, consult the famous Medes Apostasie of the latter times. The Doctrines of Daemons then, are the Doctrines of the Apostatick Roman-Antichristian-Synagogue, touching the worshipping of Saints, and Angels, in imitation of the Pagan - Daemon - Worship▪ But take the words in the largest Sense, as comprehensive of all those Doctrines that are not of Christ, have the devil for their Author: Some whereof, are mention'd by the Apostle afterwards, v. 3. Forbidding to Marry, and comman­ding to abstain from Meats — the Doctrines of Justificati­on by Works, or inherent Sanctification, of Purgatory (or a state of Purifying after this life)— any Principles, Opi­nions, contrary to sound Doctrine; the form of wholesom words, or the Doctrine which is according to Godliness; which of the Churches can be justly charged with holding, maintaining any such Principles? 'Tis true, perhaps amongst [Page 90] some of them, there may be found one, or other, that speak perverse things (as there was of old in the Church of Corinth, and some other Churches, in the Apostolick times) but are they countenanc't therein? Can their corrupt Doc­trines be charged as the Doctrines of the Churches? What more evidently, notoriously false, can be suggested, or fix­ed on?

5. The Worship of the Antichristian-Church, is a Worship of devils, idols of gold, silver, wood, stone, the work of men's hands, Rev. 9.20. 'Tis an idolatrous, whorish, adulterous, superstitious Worship, Rev. 17.1, 2, 4, 5. whose whole sub­stratum, foundation, is the Commandments of men; (Mat. 15.9.) Traditions, &c. 'Tis formal, sapless, lifeless. It's managery in the Spirit, is not at all attended to: His Assistance is contemned, reviled, blasphemed; as that which is phantastick, whimsical, heretical, schismatical for any to talk of, or pretend to. Is the Worship of the Churches, such a Worship? Who hath the forehead to aver it? They witness against all such Worship, and Worshipper's, both in Word, and Writing, as is known: Are studious to walk by Scripture-rule in their Worship, both with respect to the matter, and manner, thereof.

6. The nature, characters, properties of the Antichristian-Church, are amply described by the Apostles of our Lord. They are such as receive not the love of the Truth, that they might be saved; upon whom God hath sent strong delusions, that they should believe a lye; that they all might be damned, who believed not the Truth, but had pleasure in Ʋnrighteousness, 2 Thes. 2.10, 11, 12. That give heed to seducing Spirits, and doctrines of Daemons, speaking lies in hypocrisie; having their con­science sear'd with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and command­ing to abstain from meats, 1 Tim. 4.1, 2, 3. covetous, boasters of themselves, blasphemers, disobedient to Parents; unthankful, unholy, without natural affection; truce-breakers, false Accusers, (or make-bates) incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good: traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures▪ more than lovers of God; having a form of Godliness, but denying the power thereof — 2 Tim. 3.2, 3, 4, 5. Such as Worship the Dragon [Page 91] gave power unto the Beast, and Worship the Beast, Rev. 13.4, 5, 8. Receiving his mark (in their right hand, or in their foreheads) his Name, or the number of his Name (which whosoever did not) might neither buy, nor sell, v. 16, 17. The great Whore that sits upon many waters, with whom the Kings of the Earth have committed Fornication, and the Inhabiters of the Earth have been made drunk with the wine of her Fornication▪ A Woman sitting upon a scarlet-colour'd Beast, full of Names of Blasphemy, having seven Heads, and ten Horns. The Woman arrayed in Pur­ple, and scarlet colour, and decked with Gold, and precious Stone, and Pearls, having a golden cup in her hand, full of Abomina­tions, and filthiness of her Fornication; upon whose forhead is a Name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots, and Abominations of the Earth: The Woman drunken with the blood of the Saints, and with the Bloud of the Martyrs of Jesus, Rev. 17.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. In whom (in the great In­quisition that God will make) will be found the blood of Pro­phets, and of Saints, and of all that were slain upon the Earth, Rev. 18.24. In a word, the Antichristian-church is that part of the body of professors that the great Antichristian-Apo­stasy spoken of, by these Apostles, gather's up; who is de­scribed, character'd, by her false Doctrine, idolatrous, supersti­tious Worship, (of which before) immorality in conversation, persecution, bloody cruelty against the Royal Seed, the Saints of the most high. Who so sear'd, hardened in heart, and con­science, as without a blush, from a soul filled with deep con­sternation, can bear the sight of a thought springing up to affix the characters of this Antichristian-church, unto the present Churches? So then, these being in respect of Mat­ter, Form, Foundation, Doctrine, Worship, Nature, Characters, perfectly different from the Antichristian-church, must of necessity be the Churches of CHRIST (and accounted so by all, who are not resolv'd against the plainest Demon­strations, to hold their perswasion with a nunquam persuade­bis etiamsi persuaseris) except some Hermaphrodyte-Church, that is neither of Christ, or Antichrist, can be found out.

CHAP. IX.

The Church-state, Gospel-Institutions, are bottomed upon the Me­diatory Office of Christ. Their continuation from thence de­demonstrated. Of Christ's Prophetick, Priestly, Kingly-Office. Christ as the great Prophet of the Church, hath revealed the Gospel-Church-state, with the Institutions, and Ordinances. Christ call'd an Apostle, and why. Said to be sent by the Father: Such a Prophet as never was in the World before; nor hath there, or shall there be, any like him. What of the Father he revealed. The continuation of Gospel-Churches e­vinced from hence. Of the Priestly-Office of Christ, Gospel-Churches, Institutions, bottomed upon it, at large demonstra­ted. Of the Kingly-Office of Christ. Gospel-Churches botto­med thereupon.

Demonstration. IX.

THe Church-State, Gospel-Churches, Institutions are bottomed upon the Mediatory Office of Christ; from whence a con­tinuation of them till his next, second, glorious coming doth necessarily follow. To Christ, as Mediator, a threefold-Office (whereinto by Solemn Unction he was inaugurated by the Father) doth appertain, viz. Prophetick, Priestly, Kingly: Arguments from each of these, might at large be insisted on, to demonstrate the truth we are at present contending for.

I. That Christ is the great Prophet of the Church, will not be denied, Deut. 18.18. Act. 3.22. and 7.37. As a Prophet, he is fully acquainted with the Will of God, and hath perfectly Revealed it to the Church; both in respect of Doctrine, Worship, and Discipline. The truth is, his whole work, as a Prophet, is to reveal the Will of God, and therein to Teach, and Instruct us. He is also call'd, The Apostle of our Profession, Heb. 3.1. The Prophetick-Office of Christ, with respect unto his immediate, Authoritative, [Page 93] Mission from the Father, is that which is intended by the expression. He is said frequently, to be sent by the Father, Isa. 19.20. and 48.16. and 61.1. Zach. 2.8, 9. He whom the Father sent, is the description he gives of himself, Joh. 3.34. which is frequently repeated, John 3.17, 18, 28, 34. and 5.23, 24, 30, 36, 37, 38. and 6.29, 38, 39, 40, 44, 57. and 7.16, 28, 29. and 8.16, 18, 29, 42. and 9.4. and 10.36. and 11.42. and 12.44, 45, 49. and 13.26. and 14.24. and 15.21. and 16.5. and 17.3, 18, 21, 23, 25. and 20.21. A Prophet he is, and such a Prophet as never was in the World be­fore; nor any other like him, was there to be; and as a Prophet he reveals the Father himself, John 1.18. And his Name, Chap. 13.6. and 17.3. i. e. the mystery of the Cove­nant of the Grace of GOD, his Love, Kindness to the Sons of Men; his Worship, whole will, respecting our Obe­dience, and Salvation. And for this work, he was sent from the Father; had his Authority from him, and furni­tures through the Spirit (poured out upon him without measure) for the dispatch of it. So that, he that hears Christ, hears the Father; and he that refuseth Christ, re­fuseth the Father also: because he acts in his Name, Autho­rity, in this his Office. That from hence, the continuation of Gospel-Churches, Institutions, must necessarily follow, is evident. For,

1. Christ, as the great Prophet of the Church, hath de­clared these to be one part of his Fathers Will, that (as such) he was to Reveal (as hath been proved). That at any time it should be lawful for us, to oppose the Will of the Lord, thus solemnly revealed, none will sure have the confi­dence, to affirm.

2. The Apostle to the Hebrews, chap. 1. & chap. 2. makes Christ's coming, as the great Prophet of God, one argument of the abolition of the whole Mosaick Paedagogy, and the intro­duction of those Gospel-Institutions they were in the practice of. God that spake in the Prophets, hath spoken in his Son, q. d. You expected a Prophet (for so they did) who should bring in a New-Ministration, reveal the whole will of the Father to you; this is He, he is the Apostle sent from [Page 94] him for this end: attend him, consider him, Heb. 3.1. Now certainly if the Apostle lookt upon this as a good argument for the same (at least one of the same) ends for which 'tis produced by us, 'twill be immodesty for any to look upon it, as impertinent, incogent.

3. Christ as the great Prophet, when he Tabernacled in the World, revealed this State, the Laws, Institutions relating to it: Had we lived in the time when, and been one of those to whom he had communicated them, ought we to have be­lieved, obeyed, subjected to them? Sure! 'Twill not be de­nied, but we ought. Are not the same Laws, delivered to the Apostles, recorded in the Scriptures? This will not be opposed. What then? Have the Laws of CHRIST, by their being written, lost their Authority? This will not (I am sure it cannot with any pretext of Reason) be said. It remains therefore, that Churches, with the Worship affixt to them, being once of the discovery of CHRIST, must still continue so to be; and our practice suitable to that dis­covery, necessitate precepti, necessary.

4. Is there any greater Prophet than Christ risen up? Doth he come in his Fathers, or in his own Name; What's his message that he brings? Is he upon a new discovery of the Fathers will, pouring contempt upon what hath been Revea­led by Christ? Every spiritual believer knows what reception he ought to have with him, viz. neither he, nor his Message to be received, but rejected, as an impostor, a lye, 2 John 10.11.

5. Hath Christ ceased to be a Prophet, Since he was signal­ly inaugurated into that Office by the visible descent of the holy Spirit upon him in the form of a Dove, Mat. 3.16, 17? Shall he do so till he deliver up the Mediatory-Kingdom to the Father? Neither the one, nor the other will be asserted. Doth he now any other wayes discharge that Office, than by his written Word, and Spirit, opening the understanding of believers to perceive his Instructions contained therein? Surely no. The Revelation then made by him, with respect to Institutions, Worship, is in every day to be attended to by the Saints. A Church-state is then bottomed upon the Pro­phetick-office [Page 95] of Christ, and to continue from the time of its erection by him, to the consummation of all things.

II. As 'tis bottomed upon the Prophetick-Office of Christ, so 'tis upon his Sacerdotal, or Priestly. The Apostle argues from the change of the Levitical priest-hood, to the change of the whole of that Church-polity, its Laws and Institutions, Heb. 7.12. For the Priest-hood being changed, there is made of necessity, a change also of the Law. If this be a cogent Argument, it fol­lows strongly on the contrary; If there be no change of the priest-hood (as the Melchizedekian Priest-hood, or the priest-hood of Christ after the order of Melchizedeck abides for ever, as the same Apostle tells us) then there is no change of the Law, or institutions appertaining thereunto. That the whole of Gospel-institutions have a dependance upon the Priestly-Office of Christ, is manifest.

1. That the legal Ministration, or Worship, was affixt to, had a dependance upon the Aaronick Priest-hood, the Apostle plainly enough declares in the forecited place, Heb. 7.12. Now if the Worship of that day had such dependance up­on that Priesthood, that it liv'd and dyed; stood, and fell with it: the Gospel-ministration, and Worship, must have the same dependance upon the real Eternal Priesthood of CHRIST; for that was Typick of this throughout.

2. Christ by his Death, or the Oblation of himself, which was a principal part of his Priestly-Office, vertually, put a pe­riod to the Law of Commandments contain'd in Mosaick-Or­dinances, Eph. 2.15. And so by the removing of them, made way for the erection of the Gospel-church-state, with the In­stitutions appertaining thereunto. This the Apostle fully declares, v. 18, 19, 20, 21, 22. For through him (as our High-Priest, for as such, he's discoursing of him, as is Evident, from v. 13, 14, 15, 16▪) we both (viz. Jewes, and Gentiles) have an access (in Gospel-institutions) by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more Strangers, and Forrein­ners, but Fellow-citizens with the Saints, and of the houshold of God. And are built upon the Foundation of the Apostles, and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief Corner-stone: In whom all the building fitly joyn'd together, groweth unto an holy [Page 96] Temple in the Lord. In whom you are builded together for an Habitation of God through the Spirit. Nothing could be more Evident, if written with the beams of the Sun, than this; that Gospel-churches (call'd the Houshold, the Building of GOD) with all the Institutions of CHRIST, through which they have access to God, are bottom'd upon the Priestly-Office of Christ. 'Tis through him, as our Priest, that we have ac­cess in Worship to the Father; and equally, in, and through him, (as such) that we are of the houshold of God, his Habi­tation, Temple.

3. All the fittings, preparings of Souls, as fit materials for this Spiritual-Temple, Building, and the management of the Ordinances thereof, are bottom'd upon the Priestly-Office of Christ. That men in their natural state, are altogether un­fit, for such a building, or work, will be granted; other­wise, Arguments enough lie near at hand, for it's confir­mation. Our Lord hath solemnly determin'd this Contro­versy (if with any it be a Controversy) Joh. 3.3, 5. That persons fitness lies in the communication of the Spirit, a di­vine principle of Life, the participation of the grace of the Covenant; that therein also lies their meetness, ability for the work, and service of this Temple, will not be denied. Now whence flowes all this, but from the Oblation, Inter­cession of Christ; the two signal parts of his Priestly-Office. Nay

4. The Saints comming to God with their Temple-Worship (all of it) hath its Foundation here; were it not for the Priest-hood of Christ, they must stand off at an eternal dis­tance; Jehovah would be a terror, consuming fire to them. This all know, who have a sight of themselves in their lap­sed, corrupt, depraved state; and of the infinite, purity, and righteousness of God. This the Apostle treats of, Heb. 4.14, 15, 16. and 7.19. Yea

5. All the acceptance of their Persons, and all their Tem­ple-worship, with the Father of Spirits, is bottomed here. Were not Christ our High-priest, had he not (as such) made an Attonement, Reconciliation for us; did he not make In­tercession (as such) for us; both we, and our most solemn [Page 97] performances would be loathed, rejected, by the Lord.

6. Their encouragement to come to God with boldness, the great motive to abide in their Temple-Worship, and not to for­sake the Assembling themselves together; to be diligent in the discharge of the duties they are obliged to perform to one another in their Church-relation, is fixed here, Heb. 10.20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25. Their rejection of Gospel-communion, is accounted an undervaluing of the Priestly-Office of Christ, v. 28, 29. To which add

7. That the preservation of Gospel-churches, Ordinances, is a fruit of the Priestly-Office of Christ, bottomed upon his Oblation, Intercession. Why are they not dispersed, scatte­red? Why have not their Adversaries ruin'd, destroyed them? Whence is it that they have liberty to tread the Lords Court, and Worship before the footstool of his Throne in Peace? yea, whence is it, That the Devil with all his power, policy, hath not been able to ruin, destroy the Churches of Christ? It's Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again; who ever lives to make Intercession, Rom. 8.34. so that in this matter, hear's full measure of Demonstration, pressed down, running over, that Gospel-Churches, Institutions appertaining to them, are bottomed upon the Priestly-Office of Christ. If he continue our High-priest, if there be any vertue in his death, energie, power in his Intercession, they must continue also. And when these fail, we are content to sink, pe­rish.

Maluimus cum Christo perire, quam cum Caesare regnare.

III. Gospel-churches, Institutions, are also bottomed upon the Kingly-Office of Christ; whence their perennity, perpetuity, is Evident. That Christ is a King, hath his Subjects, Laws, by which he governs them, cannot be denied. That he hath (yet doth) exercised his Kingly-soveraignty over them, will be granted; if he do not do so, he is not King, his despo­tick authority is at an end. Who are his Subjects? Those that dwell in Sion, his Church, his Body, his House, his King­dom; which hath been demonstrated to be Saints embodied, and worshipping him in a Gospel-church-state; to these he is a [Page 98] Head, Lord, King. What are the Laws he Rules them by, gives forth for the tryal of their Faith, Love, Obedience? They are Gospel-Ordinances of his own institution, and appoint­ment. And as of old, the people of the Jewes, that Church of God, when they rejected his Ordinances, are said to re­ject him, cast off his Soveraignty, Ruledom: So because of their pertinacious adherence to the Laws of Moses, when Christ had perioded that Ministration, had left the World, and was gone to his Father; with a rejection of him, and the Ministration in­troduced by him, they are said to be Citizens that hated him, and send a message after him, saying, We will not have this man Reign over us, Luk. 19.14. 'Tis true, Christ as King, rules in the Saints by his Spirit, Grace: but visibly by his Word, and Gospel-insti­tutions doth he Reign over them. These are his Chariot, or Throne of State, wherein he shew's himself publickly in Ma­jesty and Glory. They are his insignia regalia, or Kingly­arms, or Ensigns: none can offer despite, affront, to these; but they affront him, and are guilty of high-treason against him. We justly condemn the Papists as opposers of the Kingly-Office of Christ; because, contrary to his Precept, they have taken away one part of the Institution of Christ, viz. the Cup from the Laity: and what is to be thought of those who turn their backs upon all, and attempt the pulling down of that house of the appointment of Christ, wherein they are to be ministred. If Christ be King, he hath his Churches, over whom (as such) he doth preside; and his Laws, as royal Ensigns, in the midst of them, for them to conform to.

CHAP. X.

A Tenth Demonstration of the Continuation of Churches, Ordi­nances; otherwise a great part of the Scriptures of the New-Testament have been, are, of little use to the Saints. An Eleventh, A Twelfth evidence to the same thing; Christ hath power to preserve his Churches, and 'tis his will so to do. There are special promises, both under the Old oeconomy, and the New, to Saints, as they attend upon Jehovah (as a Church) in the Observation of Ordinances. Exod. 20.24. Explained. [Page 99] And 29.42, 43, 44, 45. at large. Why the Tabernacle is call'd [...] Isa. 4.5, 6. Opened. Zach. 2.10. Mat. 18.20. 2 Cor. 6.16. Rev. 3.10. Considered. A Thirteenth, Four­teenth, Fifteenth, Sixteenth, Demonstration of the continuation of Churches, and Ordinances. 'Tis the duty of Saints in every generation to confess Christ. Gal. 3.27. Opened. Subjection to the Institutions of Christ, one signal way of confessing him. Saints are charged to hold fast whatever they have received from Christ till he comes. Much of the Glory of Christ, as Mediator of the New-Covenant, lies in his Churches. Many evil and absurb consequences of the denial of the Continuation of Gospel-Churches, Ordinances, remarked.

Demonstration. X.

IF there have not been, be not, a continuation of Gospel-Churches, Ordinances, a great part of the Scriptures of the New-Testament, have been, are, of little use to the Saints. Now it cannot be imagined, that the Lord Jesus, out of his special love to, and care of his People, should appoint the Scriptures to be written; and yet no small part of them to be of no concern in this World to them. Of this kind are all those Scriptures, which contain rules of direction to the Saints, touching their embodying together, in order to their becoming a Church of Christ; discovering who are fit matter, their Power for the E­lection, setting apart of Officers, to minister in the name of Christ amongst them; the qualification of such as are to be chosen by them; their Office, Work, Duty in, and to the Church; the Churche's duty to them: the way and manner of the management of the Institutions of the Gospel amongst them: the mutual duties of Church-members each to other, as they stand in a Covenant-relation together. How great a part of the Scriptures of the New-Testament, and particu­larly the Epistles to the Churches, is taken up in these things, is known; to enumerate particulars, is almost endless. See, Matth. 28.19, 20. Act. 2.41, 42. 1 Cor. 12.28. Eph. 4.11, 12. Matth. 18.17, 18, 19. 1 Cor. 4.17. & 7.17. Act. 14.23. Tit. 1.5. 1 Tim. 3.15. & 2.1. Act. 6.4. & 13.2, 3. Eph. 5.19. Col. 3.16. 2 Tim. 4.2. 1 Cor. 14.3. Act. 6.2. [Page 100] Heb. 13.7. Matth. 26.26, 27. 1 Cor. 11.23. Rom. 12.6, 7, 8. Rev. 2.3. Rom. 1.5, 6. 1 Cor. 1.2. & 14.15. Heb. 3.1. Jam. 1.18. Rev. 1.20. 1 Pet. 2.5. Eph. 2.21, 22, 23. 2 Cor. 6.16, 17, 18. Act. 20.17, 18. 1 Cor. 12.28. Eph. 4.11. Phil. 1. 1 Tim. 3.1, 2. & 5.17. Heb. 13.7, 17. 1 Pet. 5.1. Eph. 4.8.13. Tit. 1.7, 8, 9. 2 Tim. 3.2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. 1 Pet. 5.2, 3. Act. 13.2. 1 Tim. 5.22. & 4.14. & 3.10, 11, 13. & 4.12. 2 Tim. 2.3. Col. 1.24. Phil. 2.17. & 3.17. Heb. 13.17. Act. 20.28. 2 Tim. 2.15. & 4.2. Rom. 12.6, 7, 8. 1 Tim. 6.20. Jude 3. 1 Cor. 4.1, 2. 1 Tim. 3.15. & 4.14, 15, 16. Act. 20.18, 19, 20, 25, 26. 1 Thes. 3.5. 2 Tim. 2.24, 25. Rom. 12.8. 1 Tim. 5.17. & 3.5. Col. 4.17. 2 Cor. 10.4, 8. 1 Tim. 4.11. Tit. 2.15. 1 Pet. 1.2, 3, 4, 5. 1 Thes. 5.12, 13. 1 Cor. 16.16. Eph. 6.18, 19. Col. 4.3. 2 Thes. 3.1. Gal. 6.6. 1 Cor. 9.14. & 16.10. 2 Tim. 1.16, 17, 18. 2 Tim. 4.16. Rom. 12.8. 1 Cor. 12.28. 1 Tim. 5.17. Act. 6.3, 5, 6. Phil. 1.1. 1 Tim. 3.8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. Phil. 2.15, 16. & 4.8, 9. 1 Thes. 3.8. 1 Pet. 4.10, 11, 12, 13, 14. 1 Tim. 3.15. Heb. 10.23. Act. 2.38, 39, 46. & 16.33. 1 Cor. 1.16. & 11.20, 21, 22, 26, 28, 29, 33. Act. 20.7. Mat. 16.19. Rom. 12.8. 2 Cor. 10.4, 5, 6. Rev. 2.2, 20. Mat. 24.45. Eph. 4.13, 14. 1 Tim. 3.5. & 5.17. Heb. 13.17. 1 Pet. 2.3. 1 Thes. 5.12. Gal. 6.1, 2. 1 Cor. 4.14. & 5.2, 4, 5. 2 Cor. 2.6, 7, 8. 2 Tim. 4.2. Mat. 18.15. 1 Thes. 5.14. Tit. 1.13. & 2.15. 2 Tim. 4.2. 1 Tim. 5.19, 20. Mat. 18.16, 17. Tit. 3.10. 1 Tim. 1.20. 1 Cor. 5.5. Gal. 5.12. & 6.1. 2 Cor. 2.7. 2 Thes. 3.15. Gal. 6.2. 1 Cor. 5.2, 4, 5, 12. 1 Cor. 6.2. 2 Cor. 2.6, 7, 8. Phil. 2.10. & 2.15. 1 Cor. 10.32. 1 Thes. 2. 11.12. Tit. 2.10. Joh. 6.15. Act. 26.18. 1 Pet. 2.9. 2 Cor. 4.3, 4, 6. 1 Tim. 1.19, 20. 2 Tim. 4.3, 4. Tit. 1.13. Jude 3. Eph. 4.20, 21, 22, 23, 24. 2 Cor. 8.5. Act. 8.20, 23. Tit. 1.10. Rev. 2.2. Act. 18.26. 1 Thes. 2.7, 8, 11. Act. 9.26, 27. Rom. 14.1. 1 Cor. 13. throughout. & 10.32. Eph. 6.18. 1 Tim. 2.1. 2 Cor. 8.4, 6. Act. 11.29, 30. Rom. 15.26, 27. & 16.1, 2. 3 Joh. 8.9. Act. 15.2. 1 Tim. 3.15. Cum multis aliis.— Are all these Scriptures (with many more) of no use to the Saints? Are they not at all concern'd in them? Credat Apella! And yet this must be asserted upon the supposition, that there are no Churches of the Institution of Christ; for as [Page 101] such, are the Saints alone concerned in them.

Object. If it be Objected, that a great part of the Old-Testament is of little, or no use to the Saints now; therefore the argument is invalid, of no weight.

Answ. The Answer is easie. 'Tis readily granted, that whatever is spoken in the Old-Testament, touching Circum­cision, Priests, Altar, Temple, Sacrifices, Vestments, &c. We are not under the Gospel-Ministration at all concerned with; an introduction of these things, is a plain practick-denial of Christ come in the flesh: But whilest that Priest-hood, oeconomy stood in force, 'twas the duty of all the Saints, to at­tend diligently to the commands of the Lord, relating to them: not to have done so, had been Rebellion, High-trea­son against him. Till a Prophet greater than Moses, a Priest greater than Aaron, even Jesus the Son of God came, and put a Period to the whole of that Ministration, and erected a new one by that Authority that was given to him of the Father as Mediator of the New-Covenant, every tittle of that Law contained in Ordinances they were obliged to. Whilest that Church-state continued, they were concerned in them. And so by a parity of reason are the Saints with all the Laws given by Jesus Christ in the New-Testament, 'till ei­ther a greater than he come, (which can never be) or he by his own Soveraign Authority, supersede them; by his se­cond personal glorious coming, introducing a New State of things, without any Institutions, or Ordinances, put a Period to them.

Demonstration. XI.

IF there be not a continuation of the Church-state, with In­stitutions thereunto belonging, 'tis either because Christ could not, or would not continue it. The first connot be as­serted. All power is given unto him in Heaven, and in Earth, Matth. 28.18. He is King of Kings, Lord of Lords, 1 Tim. 6.15. Rev. 17.14. & 19.16. The Almighty, Rev. 1.8. Is above Principality, Power, Eph. 1.21. Hath all Angels, and men at his foot; can order, dispose of them as he pleases. [Page 102] Nor the second, for he hath promised its continuance; enga­ged his presence with it, for that end: These are all the vi­sible ensigns he hath in the world of his Authority, Sove­raignty; not a relation he stands in to them, his concern in point of honour, and glory, in their preservation; the pro­phetick discoveries of his resolution, that they should Conti­nue, (of which we have already treated) amply discover, that his will is their continuation. They then that oppose, advance themselves against the Churches of CHRIST, re­sist his will, and are found fighters against G0D.

Demonstration. XII.

THe Lord hath, both under the Old-oeconomy, and the New, made special promises to his people, as they attend him, wait upon him (as a Church) in the Observation of Instituti­ons, and Ordinances. So in the Old-Testament, Exod. 20.24. An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, thou shalt sacrifice thereon, thy Burnt-Offerings, and thy Peace-Offerings: thy Sheep and thine Oxen: In all places where I record my Name, I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. The latter words are vari­ously rendred. In every place in which shall be the memory of my Name, V.L. Where ye remember my Name, Sy. Ar. Wheresoever I shall name my Name, Seventy. Where I shall cause my Glory to dwell, Ch. Where I shall make my Name to be remembred, Pi. Where I shall make the memorial of my Name, or cause the remembrance of my Name to be, or make you to remember my Name, Ainsworth. The meaning is, in every place, in eve­ry institution of mine, where I command you to Attend me, as a Church, in publick Worship, and Service, (as at the Tabernacle, Temple, &c.) there Il'e come to thee, meet thee, manifest my gracious presence to thee, assuredly bless thee, Exod. 29.42, 43, 44, 45. This shall be a continual burnt-Offe­ring, throughout your Generations, at the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation before the Lord, where I will meet with you, to speak there unto thee. And there I will meet with the Children of Israel, and shall be sanctified by my Glory (the Tabernacle is not in the Hebrew; some render it, Israel; others, the [Page 103] Place, or the Tabernacle, shall be sanctified by my Glory) And I will sanctify the Tabernacle of the Congregation — And I will dwell amongst the Children of Israel, and I will be their God. That the Tabernacle was at that day, the place that Je­hovah had appointed, for the Church of Israel as a Church to Worship him, is known. As you do so, saith the Lord, Ple meet with you (or as the Greek translateth, will be known unto thee) to speak there unto thee, &c. 'Tis the special presence of God with them, that is intended by those Expressions. And the Taberna­cle, is call'd, the Tabernacle of the Congregation, Heb. [...] Tabernacle of Assembly, or Convention, because there God, and his people met together; he to Instruct them by his Word, they to Worship Him, and to receive His Oracles. See Exod. 40.34. Lev. 1.1. and 9.23, 24. Num. 1.1. and 7.89. and 12.4, 5. and 14.10. and 16.19, 42, 44. So also in the Gospel-day, Isa. 4.5, 6. The Lord will Create upon every dwelling-place of mount Sion, and upon her Assemblies, a cloud, and smoke by day, and the shining of the flaming fire by night, for upon all the glory shall be a defence: And there shall be a Tabernacle for a shadow in the day time from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a co­vert from storm, and from rain. The word translated the dwel­ling-place, is not [...] an ordinary dwelling-place, or com­mon Habitation; but [...] a prepared place of, and for God. They are the Church-assemblies he intends by it. To these he promises his Presence, Favour, Direction, Gui­dance, Defence, Protection, under the notion of the Cloud, Pillar, Tabernacle; which were the signal visible Ensigns of these to his people of old, Zach. 2.10. sing and rejoyce, O daughter of Sion; for lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith Jehovah. And many nations shall be joyn­ed to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people. ('Tis evi­dently of the Conversion of the Gentiles, and their walking together in Gospel-fellowship, that he speaks) and I will dwell in the midst of thee — Mat. 18.20. where two, or three (a few Saints walking together in the fellowship of the Gospel, for these two or three are call'd the Church, v. 17.) are gathered together in my Name, (or Authority) there am I in the midst of them. 2 Cor. 6.16. Ye (the Church of God at Corinth. [Page 104] v. 1.) are the Temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. — Rev. 3.10. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, that shall come upon all the world to try them that dwell upon the earth. The words are a promise made to the Church in Philadelphia, and so to all Gospel-churches; especially to such as are the Antitype to the Philadelphian-Church, of preservation from the temptations, snares, distresses, that are coming upon Professors: others shall fall by them, sink under them; she shall be kept, because she kept the words of Christ's patience, i. e. the Doctrine, Precepts, Institutions of CHRIST, he deliver'd in the day of his patience, when he Tabernacled amongst men, and endured the contradiction of Sinners. The sum is, as under the Old Law, so under the New; there are special Promises made to Saints Worshipping God in a Community, as a Church: Whence three things necessarily follow:

1. That there must be Gospel-Churches, to whom these Pro­mises may be made good.

2. That a denial of a Gospel-Church-state, Churches, Ordi­nances, is as much as in us lies, to make these Promises of GOD of none effect. For if their be no Churches, there are none to whom they should be performed. And besides, some of them have in them a special engagement for their preservation. As that Isa. 4.5, 6. Is God unfaithful? Can any charge him with breach of Promise, without being guilty of horrid Impiety, Blasphemy against him.

3. That a withdrawment from Church-Fellowship, Ordi­nances, is a practick-contempt of the presence of God pro­mised to his People, as they are found walking according to his will herein.

Demonstration. XIII.

'TIs the Duty of Saints in every Generation, to confess, make a Profession of Christ, as well as to believe in him, Rom. 10.9. If thou shalt confess with thy mouth, the Lord Jesus, [Page 105] and shalt believe in thine Heart—. This will not be denied! Now our solemn, most signal Profession of our Lord Jesus, lies in a visible subjection to him in Church-Institutions. There­fore are we said, by Baptism, to put on Christ, Gal. 3.27. (i. e. have taken upon you a most solemn profession of his name): And our Lord tells us, Mar. 8.38. That to be ashamed of his words, is to be ashamed of him: that we shew our selves his Friends, if we do whatever he commands us, John 15.14. So that evidently an owning of, visible subjection to, the Words, Institutions of Christ, is that wherein our Profession of his name doth lie. That it did so in the Primitive dayes, will not, cannot be denied: Well then, either there are no Saints in the World, or they are discharged from the com­mand, to confess Christ, or there are Churches walking to­gether in Gospel-Ordinances at this day; and must be such, to the consummation of all things. The truth is, 'tis utterly im­possible, for any to hold the nullity of the Church-state, Or­dinances; but they must affirm, (as some have done) that there are no visible Saints in the World. For the same Law of Christ, which directed the Saints, in the first-dayes of the Gospel, to make a profession of Christ by their sub­jection to his Institutions, abides still, as a standing rule for them to walk by.

Demonstration. XIV.

THe great charge of Christ to his People, is, To hold fast that which they have received 'till he comes, Rev. 2.25. & 3.11. Now 'tis not only the grace, and Doctrine of the Gospel, that they received, but the Laws, Institutions there­of, relating to Gospel-Fellowship, Worship. These then, in eve­ry day, they are bound to hold fast till Christ comes: and those that do so, are upon that foot of account publickly com­mended by him, Rev. 14.12. Here is the patience of the Saints, here are they that keep the Commandments of God, and the Faith of Jesus.

Demonstration. XV.

MUch of the Honour, Glory of the Lord Jesus, as the Me­diator of the New-Covenant, lies in his Churches, Zach. 6.13. He shall build the Temple, and bear the Glory. Let these be removed, and he will have but little glory in the World.

Demonstration. XVI.

MAny are the evil consequences that follow upon the denial of Gospel-Churches—. We'll instance but in a few.

I. The Ministration of the Law wherein Moses was a Servant, was more lasting, than the Ministration the Son was on purpose sent from the Father to introduce.

II. That 'tis lawful to be partial in Jehovah's Law. 'Tis true, we are to pray by our selves, or perhaps some very few with us; to watch, attend the inward work; press after a further degree of sanctification, conformity to Christ; we are to love him, believe in him: But as to the law of Insti­tutions, we will have nothing to do with it. And why so? Are not these last, as much the charge, Law of Christ to his people, as the former?

III. 'Tis a condemning the generation of the Righteous (which we ought to be tender of) and that many wayes.

1. They are (have been) a generation of Will-worshippers. Their Church-state, fellowship, breaking bread — is Will-Worship: Churches are gathered, Ordinances administred in the will of man.

2. They are Self-persecutors, Self-murderers, Self-destroyers. The loss of their liberty, goods, enjoyments, lives, for their being found in these wayes, they may thank themselves; for, they bring it upon themselves: for Christ requires no such thing at their hands.

IV. 'Tis a Justifying, Gratifying, the Wicked against the Righteous. As,

[Page 107]1. A Justifying them in their charge against the Lords People. You may (say they) be of what religion you will, pray, preach, a few of you together; but nothing will please you, except you have a great company together. You talk of conscience, this is nothing but your stubbornness, self-will, pride of Spirit. And the truth is, it must be somewhat of that nature (for consci­ence to Christ it cannot be) if Church-Assemblies, with the administration of Ordinances in them be not of Christ's appointment.

2. 'Tis a Gratifying Satan, Antichrist, in his grand design, he hath from the beginning been managing against the Lord, and his People, viz. to dissipate, scatter, drive them into corners.

3. 'Tis a Justifying the wicked in all their bloody perse­cutions of the Saints. They persecute them not as the Wor­shippers of Christ; for he requires them not so to Worship him, but as breakers of the Law, Factious, Seditious ones.

V. 'Tis as much, as in us lies, a dispoyling Christ of all the visible Soveraignty he hath at this day in the World.

VI. 'Tis a Withdrawment of our selves from that Yoak of Christ he commands, encourages his Disciples to take upon them. Mat. 11.29, 30.

VII. 'Tis to be ashamed of Christ's words in an Adulte­rous Generation, Mar. 8.38. with much more that might be instanced in. These things might have been particularly more improved, but we have already past the bounds designed in the managery of this Controversie. And if what hath been said, will not convince Gain-sayers, I am out of hopes by any thing that I can offer (though with the brightest Scripture-evidence) so to do: and shall pray to God, to shew them the error of their way, and reduce them to his Foot. 'Tis time we at­tend to those Objections that are made (at least as many of them as we have heard of) against the subject matter of the present discourse: which is the design of the next Chap­ter.

CHAP. XI.

Objections against the continuation of the Gospel-Church-state, Churches, Ordinances, particularly considered, answered. Object. 1. Some of the Officers that were in the Churches, viz. Apostles, Pro­phets, Evangelists are now wanting: that hence a cessation of Churches, Ordinances doth not ensue, evinced: for then there had been a cessation of these, ever since the Apostles dayes; the ab­surdity whereof demonstrated. That 'twas never the intendment of Christ, that these Officers should be continued, proved, 1 Cor. 4.9. explained. That the essence of a true Church of Christ depends not upon these Officers, Demonstrated. Apostles as Apo­stles, are neither foundation, matter, or form of the Church, pro­ved. Object. 2. The Apostasie Prophesied of, hath covered, swal­lowed, up all the Churches; Answered. The Apostasie spoken of, not a universal Apostasie, proved. Object. 3. That there are no Wise-master-builders; removed out of the way. 1 Cor. 3.10. Explained. Object. 4. The gifts in the Primitive-Church, wan­ting, Answered. 'Tis Grace, not Gifts, that constitutes a Church, proved. Object. 5. The present Churches, have only the Form, deny the Power, removed. Object. 6. From the pollution of the Churches, Answered. Object. 7. The Churches were at first ga­thred in the will of man; Considered, Answered. Object. 8. From the want of a presence among the Churches, Answered. The va­rious wayes of God's being present with a people, Considered.

HAving in the precedent discourse, at large evinced, The continuation of the Gospel-Church-state, Churches, Ordi­nances; that which remaines, is the removal of Objections out of the way, which we now address our selves to.

Object. 1. We grant a Church-state, Churches, Institutions to be of Christ, but there's now no such thing; for you want some of the principal Officers that were in the Churches, viz. Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Eph. 4.11.

Answ. That the Officers mentioned, were of the Institu­tion of Christ, is readily yielded: that such are not, now in [Page 109] any of the Churches of Christ, is also granted: but that a cessation of Churches doth not hereupon ensue, is very easily demonstrated. For,

1. Then there hath been a cessation of Churches for above a thousand, and some hundred of years; yea, ever since the Apostles dayes: for, after those particular persons invested by Christ into the Offices, and Ministry before-mentioned, none such have stood up. Now 'tis the first-born of absurdities, that Christ should with such solemnity, as he did by the pouring forth of the Spirit in the day of Pentecost, set up a Ministration (wherein also he spent forty dayes after his Re­surrection to instruct his Disciples) and should in a few scores of Years, suffer it to be taken down again. And it cannot be supposed, to consist with the Wisdom of Christ, so to do: it's also perfectly inconsistent, with the Gospel-covenant, Me­diatory Offices of Christ, and signal promises made to his Church­es—(of which we have already distinctly treated).

2. 'Twas never the intendment of Christ, that such Offi­cers should be continued in the Churches. Which is evident, as if written with the beams of the Sun, from these few consi­derations:

1. If he had indeed intended their continuation, they should have been continued: for 'twill not 'tis presumed, be asser­ted, that Christ failes of his intendment.

2. There are no intimations given in the Scripture of any Succession of such Officers; nor any rules laid down for the Churches to proceed upon in their Election. Of Pastors, Teachers, Deacons, we have an account, and directions gi­ven for their setting apart to Office; but of Apostles, Pro­phets, Evangelists, ne gry quidem, not the least syllable, or Iota, touching their continuation, or the way to be used in order thereunto. Nay,

3. When the first-Churches were planted, we find by the ad­vice of the Apostles, Teachers and Deacons chosen to Office, but no choice made of new Apostles; nor any intimation given, that more than these were necessary, or expedient for the continuance, or preservation of the Church.

4. When Christ writes to the seven Churches of Asia, he [Page 110] blames them (most of them) for several things amiss amongst them; but charges them not, with any neglect, or sin, that they had not the Officers mentioned amongst them; which yet they had not. For Apostles, 'tis certain, they had none; of them only John was alive at that day, the rest were fallen asleep; and he was not with them, but in the Isle of Patmos: Christ owns them as his Churches notwithstanding. 'Tis true, he threatens some of them to un-church them; but not because they wanted these Officers, but for other reasons mentioned by him.

5. We have an almost expresse Declaration, that after the Apostles fell asleep, there were to be no more Apostles to suc­ceed them, 1 Cor. 4.9. For I think God hath set forth us the Apostles last: So we render it, but not so fully expressive of the Greek; which is [...]For I think, (or I conclude, for the word doth not alwayes signifie a doubtful opinion, but a certain conclusion, 'tis us'd in the determination of that famous Council, Act. 15.28.) that God hath set forth, or exhibited us, the last Apostles. So the Arabick, Syriack, V.L. God hath shewed us the last Apostles. God hath designed his last Apostles, so the Aethiopick. So then evidently, no new Apostles were de­signed by Christ after them. 'Tis true, many have pretended so to be; some such (as it seems) came to the Church at Ephesus, who upon trial found them Liaers, Rev. 2.2. But

6. The whole weight of the Objection lies upon this single basis, That the Essence of a true Church of Christ, consists in having the Officers mentioned amongst them. For if it doth not, the Churches are as really true Churches of Christ, without these Officers, as the first Apostolick-Churches, that had them, were. This is that then we shall demonstrate, that Apostles — are not of the Essence of a true Church of Christ. For

I. There was a true Church of Christ of Converted Be­lievers, before they ever saw the face of an Apostle, even in the Apostles days. Not to mention what's probable, that the Eunuch being brought over to the Faith of Christ, Act. 8. went in to Ethiopia, Preached Christ, gathered Churches [Page 111] there. In which, some think that Prophesie had its accomplish­ment, Psa. 68.31. nor, what some affirm, that the Gospel was Preached, Churches gathered here in England by Joseph of Arimathea. What may we think of the Church at An­tioch? Was that a true Church? the Apostles own'd it as such. And 'tis evident, that 'twas constituted without the Officers men­tioned Act. 11.19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26. and here the Disciples were first called Christians. 'Tis true, there came Apostles, and Prophets to them; but they were, before their coming, a Church of Christ. The like may be said of Samaria, where by the Ministry of Phillip, were Converts brought over to Christ, and Baptized, before ever the Apostles heard tittle of it; who at this time kept privately at Jerusalem, Act. 8.1, 5, 6, 8, 12, 14. That by the same hand, Churches were planted at Azo­tus, Caesarea, Act. 8.40. with 9.30. is more than probable. At Ptolemais you have an intimation of a Church of Christ; but no account of any Apostles going thither, till Paul in his journey salutes the Brethren that were there, and tarries with them one day, Act. 21.7. The Church at Colosse was gathe­red by Epaphras, Col. 1.7. as were several Churches, before ever any Apostle came to them. So that, if because they have not Apostles, the present Churches are no Churches of Christ; neither were the Primitive-Churches, at least some of them, such: The Objection lies as directly against them, as any after-Churches. But

II. The Apostles, as Apostles, are neither Foundation, mat­ter, or Form of the Church; so far are they from being of the Essence of the Church.

1. Foundation they are not; for Christ is the alone Foun­dation, as hath been proved. 'Tis true, Saints are said to be built upon the Foundations of the Apostles, and Prophets, Eph. 2.20. but the intendment thereof, is no more than that, they were built upon the Doctrine was Preacht by the Apostles; the substance whereof was Christ.

2. Not the Matter, as Apostles: as Saints 'tis true, they were so, as well as others; but no otherwise.

3. The Form of the Church they are not: for that lies in somewhat else, as before was Demonstrated.

[Page 112]III. Let's suppose, that, which may be supposed. (It hath been, as is known) that by the Providence of God, the meanest Saint is cast upon any spot, where the Gospel never was. He preaches Christ to the Natives, they are Converted by the Spirit of the LORD accompanying his Ministry: may these Converts give up themselves to the Lord, and one a­nother, to walk with him in ways of his own Institution, or not? If the first, actum est periisti Antichristiane, there may be true Churches, without Apostles; for herein lie's the Essence of a true Church: If the Second, it's lawful, then it seems, for believers to disobey the Commands of Christ (which will at least sound harsh in the ears of sober Chri­stians) for Gospel-fellowship, Churches — we have proved to be commanded by Christ. Nay

IV. The Apostles, quâ Apostles, never belong'd to any per­ticular Church. Authority in the name of Christ they had in, and amongst them all; never related to any particular Church, as such. They were non-residents, ubiquitaries, and the Office whereunto they were called by the Lord Jesus, required, that they should be so, Mat. 28.18, 19.

V. What the Apostles were to the Gospel-Churches, that (at least) Moses and Aaron may be supposed to be in the Judaick Church. The Law came by Moses. In every difficult Case, he was their Mediator to God, and gave responses to them: from him Aaron had his Ʋrim and Thummim, whereby he gave (in matters proposed to him) infallible answers from the Holy One. They had also the Ark, with the Mercy-Seat, and Cherubims. The Fire from Heaven: the Majesty or di­vine Presence (viz. the Oracle in the most Holy Place, where God dwelt between the Cherubims. Num. 7.89. Psa. 80.2.) the Holy Spirit (viz. the Spirit of Prophesie, not only in the Priests, but in the Prophets) were these of the Essence of the Church? was their Church-state dissolved because of their want of them? What more frivolous can be asserted? Moses, and Aaron soon fell asleep, before they came into the good Land. As for the last mentioned, they enjoyed them not under the second Temple (as the Jews themselves ac­knowledge); yet their Church-state continued till the death [Page 113] of Christ, as is granted by all. 'Tis impossible to fix upon any Argument to prove the necessity of Apostles for the continuation of a Church-state in Gospel-dayes, which will not also evince a necessity of what we have instanced in, with re­spect to the necessity of the existence of Moses, &c. for the continuation of the Judaick Church-state; than which nothing is more false. Besides

VI. The Church was never Built upon the Apostles (one or other of them) but upon their Doctrine, which from the Lord Jesus they delivered; or rather upon Christ the sum, and substance thereof. 'Tis true, the Papists tell us (as hath been intimated) that 'twas Built upon Peter, from, Mat. 16.18. upon which they have laboured to build their Babel, endea­vouring to substitute the Pope in his room. The vanity of which attempt, hath been discovered by several, and by none more than the every-way learned, and accomplished J.O. in his Animadversions on Fiat Lux. But as was said, 'twas their Doctrine, not their Persons the Church was Built upon. This through the wonderful kindness of God, we have continued to us; and therefore no need of their perso­nal Ministry. Yet,

VII. Suppose we had Apostles amongst us, the self-same A­postles that were sent forth, and instructed by Christ, to in­doctrinate the Saints in his will, to charge them to Observe whatever he had commanded them. They would declare to us the same things, or they would not▪ If the same, they are up­on record in the Scriptures of truth; and are as much to be heeded by us, as if they had been delivered to us by them Vivâ voce. The latter cannot be imagined. The Apostle hath for ever shut the door against any such conceit, Gal. 1.8, 9. Though we, or an Angel from Heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you, then that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed—. So that evidently the want of Apostles is the most weak, frivo­lous argument, that ever men of the least reason, or converse with the Scripture, or knowledge of that faith that ought to be with us in these matters, ever fixt upon.

Object. 2. But there was an Apostasie foretold by the Apo­stles of our Lord, which we find actually came to pass within a [Page 114] few hundreds of years after Christ. Therefore there are no true Churches; for the Apostasie hath covered, swallowed up all.

Answ. That an Apostasie was foretold, as intimated, that it was also introduced, is granted. But this proves not, the nul­lity of Churches, Ordinances. For,

1. 'Tis expresly declared, that the Apostasie mentioned, should not be a total Apostasie, 1 Tim. 4.1. [...], not [...], but [...], not all, but some shall depart, or make a revolt from the Faith. I confess had the Scripture asserted a universal Apostasie, the objection would have seem'd, to have had some strength in it. I say 'twould have seem'd, for real­ly it hath none. For had the Apostasie, as is falsly pretended, over-spread all for a season (as sometimes it did in the Church­es of old, as was demonstrated in the preface to this discourse); yet it follows not, but in persons (by the call of God) delive­red from under that Apostasie, a true Church-state might exist. Which is notoriously true, with respect to thousands, that for some while the Papacy drank in. But,

2. We have already proved [Demonstrat. 4. c. 4.] that all a­long the Apostasie, the Lord had his true Churches witnessing for him against it. So that we need not say more touching this matter. There was an Apostasie foretold, that should o­verspread the greatest part of the Churches, prevail in most places of the Christian World. It did so to purpose at Rome— &c. Ergo, there are no true Churches, risum teneatis amici, or rather pity; pray for them, who by reason of prejudice, temp­tation, have their understanding so far blinded, as to think there's any weight to be laid upon such Puerile Ludicrous argu­ments.

Object. 3. But you have no Wise-master-builder; which the Apostle saith he was, 1 Cor. 3.10. therefore you have no true Churches.

Answ. This Objection is the same with the first. To it we will nevertheless speak a few words, which will abundantly evince the emptyness of it.

1. Paul asserts himself to be [...], a Chief-Bulder, not with respect to Christ; for so he was not, but an under-work-man; but with respect to others, who afterwards built upon [Page 115] that Foundation [CHRIST] he had laid. Nor doth he

2. Assert himself to be the Chief-builder, with relation to all the Churches; but with respect to that particular Church at Corinth. Were all the rest of the Churches, that had not this Master-Builder, false Churches? This will not be asserted. Yet we hear of no Wise-master-builder, with respect to any o­ther of the Churches. The word is only used here. But,

3. Paul, as wise a Master-builder as he was, was sure a Work-man under Christ; who is the Builder of the House, or Churches (as hath been proved) and he was indispensibly bound to walk by rule; the rule of his Lord and Master, Christ Jesus. This he tells us he did, 1 Cor. 11.23. Now

4. The Saints have this Rule, and they have the Spirit of the Lord with them, in them, to open it, and explain it to them. For if they have him not, and for this end (to lead them in­to all truth) they are not Saints, Rom. 8.9. what hinders then, but that Saints having the same Rule the Apostle walked by, and the Spirit to instruct them in it, they may conform to it, and so constitute Churches of Christ? If they have but so much Wisdom as to understand the rule constitutive of Churches; and so much Conscience and honesty, as to apply themselves to it (and they are poor Saints that are devoid of the one or the other) they cannot but do so. The very truth is, Paul, none of the Apostles were Builders, or Wise-master-builders, but with respect to the Rule of Christ: To have Built in their own Wisdom, with a neglect thereof, had been folly and madness. So that any that attend to this Rule in Church-Work, may be as well said to be Builders; and if they lay the Foundation of a Church afterward built upon by others, as truely said with respect to such a Church to be Wise-master-builders, as Paul, &c. 'Twould hardly be an effectual argument to a man under the sense of inconveniencies (almost to starving to death) by winds, and stormes, for want of an habitation to dwell in; to tell him, 'tis true, here are Materials for a House, and here is a Rule to build it by; which if you attend to, you cannot build amiss, but the Truth is, the Wise-master-builder, who acted by the same Rule in building all the strong, and beauti­ful Houses in the Country, is thousands of miles off, and [Page 116] perhaps may not come hither again till you are dead, and rotten in your grave; therefore you had best not attempt the work, till he come. Nay stay, will the poor man say, I have the Rule that he walked by, and I'le up, and be doing as well as I can; and I hope the Lord will be with me—. Christ commands (as hath been proved) to build an House; gives us rules to walk by in such a work; but hath no where said, he will send us such Wise-master-builders in every respect as Paul was; nor told us the Work must cease till they come; but the contrary.

Object. 4. But you have not the gifts of the Primitive-Churches; therefore you are no true Churches of Christ.

Answ. 1. 'Tis Grace, not extraordinary Gifts, that is the qualification of Church-members, that constitute a Church. When the Apostles speak of Church-members, they decypher them as Sanctified ones, partakers of the Grace of God—. Christ requires no other qualification of a Church-member, than be­ing born again of God, John 3.3, 5. which persons may be without those extraordinary Gifts. Nay, the truth is, the Churches that have most excelled in these, have not been the most comely, or beautiful Churches. For instance, the Church at Corinth, who perhaps in these Gifts excell'd other Churches; but I am sure, came short of some of them in Divine graces.

2. 'Tis most evident, that the Primitive-Churches were con­stituted, converted, believers added to them, without any immediate participation of these gifts, Act. 2.40, 41, 42. We have an account of Three Thousand Soules added to the Church, but not a tittle of their partaking of these extraordinary Gifts. The Church at Antioch was a true Church of Christ, before the Apostles (any of them) came to them, or they had received the Holy Spirit (i. e. were made partakers of the extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit) Act. 8.12, 14, 15, 16, 17. The like may be said of other Churches.

3. The Apostle having discoursed at large of these Gifts, 1 Cor. 12. at the close, v. 31. tells them, that he shews unto them a more excellent way, (or the most excellent way, as the Greek reads it) viz. the way of love: of which he discour­ses at large, chap. 13. And this (not the Gifts mentioned) is [Page 117] that which Christ makes the badge of his Disciples, Joh. 13.35. Were there more of this, there would not be so much talk of the nullity of Churches, as there is amongst some at this day; nor that undue withdrawment from them.

4. These Gifts are so far from being essential to a Church; that the Apostle tells us, persons may have them all, and yet not be fit matter for a Church: for they that have them, may nevertheless be nothing, devoid of true grace, 1 Cor. 13.1, 2.

Object. 5. But the Churches have only the Form of things, and deny the Power; and from such we are commanded to turn away, 2 Tim. 3.5.

Answ. 1. I must crave leave, to say, that the framers of this Objection, are ascended not only to the height of censo­rious uncharitableness; but invade the Throne of God him­self, and will become Judges of the secrets of hearts. For, who told them that they deny the Power? did any of the Churches themselves? Do any principles owned by them, any practices found amongst them declare as much? Let the in­dividuals hereof [Guilty] plead for themselves, I'le not be their advocate. Though I must add, I know no such Churches, and yet they are not a few I am acquainted with.

2. It had been severe enough for the Objectors to have, that They have the Form, but not the Power; therefore are not true Churches. But this perhaps they thought would not have served their purpose. Inasmuch as the Lord himself saith concerning the Church of Sardis, Rev. 3.1. Thou hast a Name to live, and art dead; and of Laodicea, v. 15. Thou art neither cold, nor hot, v. 17. Wretched, Poor, Miserable, Blind, Naked: yet even these are owned by Christ for his Churches, Rev. 3.1, 14.

3. That they have not the Power, is also notoriously false. 'Tis true, they have not so much of it, as in a former day; but that all's lost, there are a thousand Witnesses to con­fute.

Object. 6. The Churches are polluted; therefore no true Churches.

Ans. 1. This is a most evident non-sequitur: They may be polluted, and yet true Churches. The question is, whe­ther there be such pollutions found upon them, either with [Page 118] respect to Worship, or Conversation, that by any Rule of Christ declare them Ʋn-church'd; which we are only to attend to in this matter. We may stab, and kill each other in a distem­pered fit, and think we do well; but 'twill be found Murder by the righteous judge; if what we do, be without his Rule, and Authority.

2. What Pollution is there to be found amongst the Chur­ches, that was not to be found even in the Apostolick Chur­ches; and greater too, at least, in some of them?

3. Do they justify, plead for, any Pollutions amongst them? Is not the sight of them, matter of grief, burden to them; at least, to many amongst them. Though there were but a few names in Sardis, that had not defiled their Garments, Rev. 3.4. yet Christ ownes them for his Church.

Object. 7. The present Churches were at first gathered in the will of man: Therefore they are no true Churches.

Answ. 1. Prove This, and take the Cause. I'd be he, af­ter all I have writ, that would cast the first stone at them. But saying so, is but a sinful Calumniation, no Argument. Let's a little further consider this matter.

2. Why are they gathered in the Will of Man? Is it, be­cause they are gathered by the authority of man, driven toge­ther by penal Sanctions? This cannot be asserted. What then? Are they gathered, constituted of visibly prophane per­sons? Nor can this be affirm'd. If the gathering together of Saints call'd out of the world, as Volunteers giving up them­selves to JESUS CHRIST, and one another, to walk to­gether in Gospel-fellowship, be a gathering in the will of man; 'tis true, they are so gather'd. But the best on't is, we have good company under the same Condemnation, even all the primitive-churches.

Obj. Oh! but you were not gathered by Apostles!

Answ. Oh! but this hath been already spoken to, and re­moved out of the way: several of the first Churches we have proved, were not gathered by the Apostles; Ergo, they also were gathered in the will of man, were not true Churches.

Obj. 8. But there's no Presence among the Churches: There­fore no true Churches.

Answ. 1. Should it be granted, that there's no presence, yet [Page 119] from thence it doth not follow that they are not true Chur­ches. For the glory was departed from the Temple, Ezek. 3.12 the blessed glory of the Lord is gone from his place, and yet the Temple was standing. In the second Temple, there was not the Schecinah, or divine presence; yet the Judaick Church-state, not dissolved till many years after. The house may stand, and be a true house as much as 'twas before, tho the master be gone out of it; perhaps he hath a special end for the good of the House, Servants, Children, for a season to leave it. God may have blessed designs towards his Churches in his tempora­ry leaving them, yet true Churches. I'd ask, doth not the Lord sometimes withdraw his presence from particular Saints? What Child of God, but at one time, or other, finds cause to complain of his departure from him? He seeks him, yet cannot find him. Doth this destroy his Saint-ship? Who'l af­firm it? Well then, the with-drawment of God from Chur­ches, is no Argument they are none of his.

2. It may be there may be some mistake in this matter, and God is onely suppos'd to be a great way off, when he is near. Mary laments for the absence of her Lord, when yet he stood by her, Joh. 20.15, 16. It's necessary we enquire a little touching the presence of God with a People. He is said to be present.

1. In respect of his Essence, and being, so he is present with All; indistant to none. He fills Heaven and Earth; all things with his Presence, Psa. 139.

2. In respect of providential dispensations, preserving, defen­ding a People, giving them the Victory over their Enemies. In this sence, through wondrous riches of Grace, the Lord is yet present with his Churches; the Plots, Confederacies, Advance­ments of the Children of Men against them, have hitherto been in-successful.

3. In respect of sensible manifestations of his grace and love in the way of the new-Covenant to them; quickning, causeing their graces to flourish; renewing, strengthning, comforting them. Now though 'tis true, (and touching it, deep searchings of heart should be upon us, and mournings after the Lord) that there is not in this sense, such a presence of the Lord as hath [Page 120] been formerly; yet we must say, to the praise of matchless-grace, we are not wholly destitute of it; and are crying, as we can, Let our Beloved come into his Garden, that the Spices thereof may send forth their odoriferous smell. Yet who'l de­spise a day of small things? 'Tis a mercy, for a rebellious beggar, to have a crum, a drop, of the bread, waters of Life. And were we more thankful for, did we prize, improve as becomes us, that little God gives us, we might have more.

4. In respect of his real, actual presence in the new-Covenant, though not sensible manifestations of it. Thus God is present with us, (though we complain of his absence) when he streng­thens us to wait on, for him, in the ways of his appoint­ment; enables us to seek to him. For without his presence, we were not able to do that. Thus (through grace) he is present with his Churches, and every member of them.

3. Is not Prayer, Prayer, because we have not his sensible presence with us? who'l affirm it? Is it lawful to omit that Duty, in our Closets, retirements; because we enjoy not God in it? Who dare aver it? This were an Effectual, and expe­ditious way, to drive Christianity, all Religion, Devotion, out of the World. What though there be not a sensible En­joyment of God in Churches, Institutions —▪ There he hath promised to meet his people, and bless them; and there it's our duty to wait for the returnal of his Presence, and Glory. Thus far in Answer to Objections: Which are all I have met with. And in the whole, have been with PRAYER and SUPPLICATION, following the Lord for leadings; have not willingly reflected upon, or used exasperating Expres­sions concerning any; nor designedly pleaded the cause of any PARTICULAR PARTY, but the general concern of all the Saints, who look upon their subjection to Christ in Gos­pel-Institutions any part of their concern. In simplicity, and godly sincerity (though with much weakness) have I been managing this affair; and because I believe, that the truth of the Lord is herein with me, therefore have I spoken. If any may be profited, let God have the Glory; If any be otherwise minded, I pray God will manifest this also unto him in due time.

FINIS.

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