THE CONFORMITY OF THE Discipline and Government Of those who are commonly called INDEPENDANTS To that of the ANCIENT PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANS. By Dr. Lewis Du Moulin sometime History Professor of Oxford.

Qui repertâ veritate aliquid ulterius discutit, mendacium quaerit.
Valentinianus & Martianus.

LONDON, Printed for Richard Janeway, 1680.


  • CHap. 1. Of prejudices in General, and of the force of the objections commonly urged against the Tenets and principles of Nestorius, to serve by way of Intro­duction to the prejudices that are formed against the In­dependants. Pag. 1.
  • Chap. 2. The advantages of the Congregational may above any other Establishment of the Church beside: That it is the most reasonable; and that all others have insuperable in­conveniences. p. 3.
  • Chap. 3. That upon the Ground of this Hypothesis▪ that every supreme Authority either in the Popish, or the Pres­byterian Church is subject to ernour, Monsieur de Con­dom hath reason to approve of the Congregational may, and the independancy of particular Churches on any other Authority than that of Jesus Christ in his word. p. 8.
  • Chap. 4. That the design of the Congregational Churches is most holy and most reasonable, when they labour to retain a conformity of Faith with the other▪ reformed Churches; but take the liberty to differ from them in mat­ter of discipline: Of the Veneration▪ they have for Cal­vin, [Page] and for the Churches which follow his Doctrine, and discipline. p. 12.
  • Chap. 5. That the Congregational Churches do most ratio­nally establish the Authority of Synods, and Pastors, and the nature of the Church. p. 14.
  • Chap. 6. An Answer to those who say that the Congregatio­nal way is incompatible with the Civil Power; and that it deprives the Magistrate of the right he hath to the Government of the Church; that it is introducto­ry of Irreligion, Ignorance, and Schism in the Church. p. 16.
  • Chap. 7. That the Congregational way has been practised in all Ages of the World. p. 23.
  • Chap. 8. Of the great Benefit and Advantage that comes from the Establishment of the Congregational way in the World. p. 34.
  • Chap. 9. That the most Judicious Divines of France and other places, without thinking of it, do naturally fall into the Hypotheses of the Congregational Churches. Of the Judgment which ought to be made of their Confession of Faith, of their discipline, and conduct. p. 38.
  • Chap. 10. Of the Wise and Prudent carriage of the Inde­pendants, and of their way to get further off the Church of Rome than any other, and to condemn all the wayes of Reconciliation with it, and the Churches that hold any Communion with Rome. That the indeavour to come near it is damnable and pernicious: as is suffici­ently seen in the present posture of the affairs of Eng­land. p. 43.
  • Chap. 11. A continuance of the same matter concerning the wise carriage of those Churches that are for their way Congregati­onal, when they condemn all manner of speaking like to Rome, and all practises, that do any whit savour of theirs: [Page] and the six Maxims on which the Pope and his Church are founded: a Confirmation of that by a History taken out of the Life of Joseph Hall. p. 47.
  • Chap. 12. An Apology for the Author of the Conformity of the congregational Churches with that of the Antient Pri­mitive Christians: That a disinteressed person, such as he is, is the most fit to write about these matters. Of the Obli­gation he hath to the Bishop of Condom for the light he hath given him. p. 53.
  • Chap. 13. The Explication of one difficulty which runs throughout the whole precedent discourse. p. 58.
  • Chap. 14. Remarks upon the Fault that some may find in the Title of this discourse. p. 60.
  • Chap. Ult. An Answer to those who accuse the Independants for being the Authors of the late Civil Wars in England, and particularly for having had an immediate hand in the death of KING CHARLES the first. p. 68.

[Page] [Page 1] THE CONFORMITY OF THE GOVERNMENT Of those who are commonly called INDEPENDANTS, With that of the ANCIENT PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANS

CHAP. I. Of prejudices in General, and of the force of the Objections com­monly urged against the Tenets and Principles of Nestorius, to serve by way of Introduction, to the prejudices that are formed against the Independants.

'TIS above fifty years, since some learned and judicious Persons, as well of the Gown, as others, have now brought to light an important and necessary truth, which the strength of prejudice, and a General and Opiniona­tive blindness, that hath lasted for more than this thousand years, hath kept under a Bushel: 'Tis that of Nestorius, which the eminent Authority of Cyril, has made to pass, during all that time, and e­ven from the third Oecumenical Councel, for an absolute lie, and [Page 2] with which all the learned, both the general and particular Coun­cils, all the Fathers, and all the new Doctors of both Communi­ons, have been so successively prepossessed, that they have thought it nearly concerned their honour, not only to deny it; but even to be continually throwing their Anathema's at the head of the poor Nestorius, whom they have made to pass for an abominable Here­tick, although at the bottome, Nestorius was he of the two who was by far the more Orthodox, and the honester man; and on the other hand, Cyril was the Heretick. For it is with the Authority of Cyrillus, as with that eminent Authority of the Church of Rome, to which Monsieur A [...]auld would have all men fixed, and with which he thought to overwhelm and undo Monsieur Claude.

NOT to make any Application of this History to what has hap­pened to my self in particular, as to the necessary truths I have promulged and advanced, I will content my self with fixing to one, which is like to that of Nestorius; 'tis that about those who are cal­led Independants; who though they will not yield, in exactness of living, or in holiness of Doctrine, to any of the Protestants in Eu­rope, for they are led more than other Christians by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, which is a Spirit of meekness, moderation, and of a sound mind, and they are farthest off from the spirit of malignity and Per­secution, and their Doctrine hath more of conformity with that of the Apostles, and the Primitive Christians, than any of the others; and though, to conclude, their confession of Faith is the most Ner­vous and sinewy, the most Orthodox, and coutched up in terms so strong and powerful, that of all pieces, which yet have appeared in the World, fince the Writings of the Apostles, it is the most full and perfect: Yet have they had the unhappiness to be loaded with in­juries by our Synods, and by those of our Divines, who are the most eminent in learning, and of a life and piety the most exemplary, and that too in a manner altogether inhumane and barbarous; so far, as that Monsieur Amy [...]auld calls them Fools, Enthusiasts, and such as are infamous in their lives. Monsieur D' Aille, the Father says of them, that it is a pernicious Sect, which from the very foundation overthrows the Empires and Governments of the World; and o­thers have no better opinion of them, imputing to them practises contrary to truth; as to receive into their Communion the most loose, disordered, and impious persons; though on the contrary, their fault, if it be one, is just at the other extremity, not to receive, neither in­to [Page 3] their Society, nor their Communion any but such, in whom they probably find the marks of regeneration; and that beside, their greatest Crime is to condemn the practise of Churches, as Popish and Tyrannical, when by a right pretended to be divine, and by vertue of the power of the Keyes, and of that of binding and loosing; they erect a Tribunal, or a National Ecclesiastical power, indepen­dent and distinct from that of the Magistrate, though otherwise they approve of the Government of our Churches of France accord­ing to the principles of those who establish it upon a natural right, and upon a considerate discipline, in a manner absolutely like to the civil and politick. For it is upon this ground of natural right, of confederation, of Arbitrary Discipline, and purely humane, which may, and ought to be changed and altered, according to times and places, it is upon this ground, I say, that the Discipline of the Re­formed Churches of France is established and founded, as the last Article of their Discipline, says it, in the very express terms.

CHAP. II. The Advantage of the Congregational way, above any other establishment of the Church beside: That it is the most reasonable, and that oll others have insuperable inconveniencies.

THIS Congregational way hath incredible advantages over and above all the other establishments of Religion, which most commonly are of the same extent as the civil State of every Ter­ritory: but, beyond all, this way introduces into all the Churches which conform to it, or at least into a great many of those Churches, a Reformation in Doctrine, in Discipline, and in manner of Govern­ment; wholly Apostolical: it being impossible that of a hundred Congregations, or particular Churches, which should differ one from a­nother in Faith, and in the way of Government, otherwise Independant each on the other, or on the Synods, but that there should be some or other which does retain this Apostolical holiness: whereas it is not any wayes possible, as we have seen by experience since the time of Constantine the Great, but that one national Church of the same extent as the civil State, or as the Empire or Dominion of a Prince, [Page 4] must needs have many defects, errours, and apparent disorders, not only in Discipline, but also in Doctrine, for these following Reasons,

1. We must consider a National Church, either in the manner, as it was established by Constantine, Theodostus, and Justinian, of as great an extent as the Roman Empire, in which the State Ecclesiastical was regulated after the Model of the Civil State: where the Bishop of a City or place, whose extent was called [...], was parallel to the Defensor Civitatis, or to the Dux; The Archbishop, or the Metropoli­tan of the Province was parallel to the Praeses or Proconsul, and Cor­rector. The Diocesan, the Primate, or the Patriarch, who was also the Hexarch in the time of the Calcedonian Council, was parallel to the Legat of the Emperour, or Vicarius, where the Praetorium was, and where there was in the Ecclesiastical State a subordination of Courts and Tribunals, as in the Civil State: for that was the Er­rour of the Antients to adjust the Ecclesiastical Government to the Civil, instead of practising the quite contrary, according to the judi­cious maxim of a wise Italian Politician. Bisogna accomodare la ragi­one di Stato alla Religione, & non la Religione alla rag one di Stato.

Or we must consider the National Church, when the Pa­stors are in an equality of rank and dignity, but with subordinati­on to Provincial or National Assemblies, Consistories, Colloquies, and Synods. Now in either manner of establishment, where there is observed in all things an uniformity of Doctrine and of Discipline, and which is pressed by the same rigorous severities in the State Ec­clesiastical, as the Laws are in the Civil, in either manner, I say, e­ven, when the Magistrate favours the true Worshippers of Jesus Christ, there happens Errours and disorders innumerable, which ne­ver would be found in the establishment of the Congregational way: as when the Bishop or a small number of Pastors has the whole ma­nagement and supervision of affairs; and where it is impossible but that Heresie, Ambition, Envy, Politick regards, temporal interest, the Spirit of Pride and Grandeur, and Factions should reign among them; and that these Errours and disorders should so easily be visi­ble, and taken notice of, as in a particular composed of one or two Pastors, and of a small number of People, This is what has been observed by the Historians Socrates, and Sozomen, and by the Fathers. Gregory Nazianzen sayes, that he had never seen Synods to produce a­ny good effects, but that they had rather increased Heresie, then [Page 5] stifled and suppress'd it. Martyn, the Bishop of Tours, had no bet­ter opinion of them. All the Synods, especially, the Oecumenical, had been Shire▪halls, houses of confusion, or even Aceldama's, if the Emperours, or their Commissaries had not thrown water upon the fire which they had kindled: Yet they could not always so hinder, but that these two great evils of Synods and Bishops, the [...], and the [...], did transport them to the very extremities of tyranny and cruelty: insomuch that Dioscorus who was President in the second Council of Ephesus over four hundred persons, was so moved with rage and passion against Flavian Bishop of Antioch, that he rose up from his seat, and killed him with blows and kicks, and also tram­pled upon his body after he was dead. 'Tis remarkable that the Canons full of piety and pure Doctrine, were never made in Nu­merous and Oecumenical Synods, but in those that were private, and composed of a few persons, such as was that of Orenge, where we read these words that deserve to be writ in Gold. Tales nos amat Deus, quales futuri sumus ipsius dono, non quales sumus nostro me­rito: having in it only the first Nicene Council which hath produ­ced us this most Nervous confession concerning the blessed Tri­nity.

I add that in the Establishment of a National Church, which ob­serves in a large extent of Dominion the same uniformity of Religi­on as of Polity, it is neither goodness nor truth, neither sincerity, nor a well-form'd design that acts, but it is hazard, worldly inter­rest, power, and the greatest number, which is oftentimes the most erroncous, and the will of one single Person invested with an abso­lute power, which is most commonly taken up by Flatterers, and Counsellors, who are animated with other motives than those of Con­science, or who, how good soever, and sincere otherwise, are not il­luminated, nor learned enough to give a right judgement about mat­ters of Religion. Carneades said, that the State of Athens was unhap­py, in which wise men made fair Overtures, and gave good Counsels, but Fools judged of them, and ordered all things according to their idle and extravagant fancies. And indeed Wise men may consult▪ but it is the greatest number, or the longest and best sword that de­termines, which is too often in the hands of those, who have more strength of power, than force of judgement, so that by this establish­ment of a National Ecclesiastical Government, thousands of Chri­stians and faithful Souls are as much obliged to submit themselves to [Page 6] the Religion of a whole Empire, according to the establishment which shall be made of it by an Idolatrous Rehoboam, by an Arrian Constantius, by an Apostate Julian, by a Popish Mary Queen of Eng­land, as to that which shall be set up by a David, by a Constantine the the Great, and by a Queen Elizabeth of ever blessed memory; which Inconveniencies neither can nor ever will be able to happen in a place, where the Congregational way shall be established. It may be one Soveraign, who shall be as Heretick, as Constantius, will issue forth his commands for the establishment of his heresie in all the places of his dominion, as Theodosius the second made another for that of the Orthodox Faith, when he commanded, that all the Subjects of his Empire should receive the faith from Damaseus of Rome, and from Pe­ter of Alexandria. But it may likewise fall out, that that same Em­perour, to wit, Theodosius the second, might make two Ordinances, which may mutually destroy one another; for he convoked the first Synod of Ephesus, which condemned the Opinion of Nestorius, and some years after he convoked the second Synod of Ephesus, which contradicted it, and allowed the opinion of Nestorius.

2. THIS same inconvenience is verified by the establish­ment of the best reformed Churches in the World, I mean that of Luther, and of Calvin: For as the Reformation was that of a National Church of the same extent with that of the Territory of the Soveraign where it was established; so likewise did it carry the Obligation into Germany, Sweedland, and Denmark that they should submit to Consubstantiation, without any bodies having the liberty to form assemblies to themselves which may reject it; which Churches might do if they were Independant. The same inconvenience is happened, and must happen from the National establishment of the Reformation which Calvin hath made in England, Holland, some parts of Germany, and elsewhere: and how pure soever the Reformation was as for the Doctrine of that holy man, it is extremely defe­ctive as to the Discipline, the power Ecclesiastick, and that Tribu­nal which he Erected in Geneva, distinct and Independant on the Magistrate, by vertue of a pretended Divine right and power, which hath been the cause of all those infinite disorders, confusions, and even Schisms in England, Scotland, Holland, and Geneva, even in the time of Calvin, as we read in his Epistles.

3. ONE great convenience which is found in the Establishment of a National Government, is, that it is always grounded upon hu­mane [Page 7] principles, cruel, and barbarous, as to constrain, to persecute▪ and even to burn those who in matter of Religion do not embrace that of the Ecclesiastical State, or of the Magistrate that establishes it, and do not conform to all the practices that he appoints and com­mands.

4. THEY say that this National establishment of Eccle­siastical Government, deprives Man of his Reason, and his na­tural and Religious liberty, in the choice he ought to make of his God, and of the worship he ought to render him, and to which he should not be constrained, but perswaded▪ neither to be brought to it by custome nor by birth, nor likewise by the Law of the Magi­strate, unless he be convinced that his Ordinances and commands in matters of Religion are conformable to the word of God; for they press mightily upon this consideration, that this establishment di­vests Man of the same liberty in his religious life, as he hath in the Civil, where he is not restrained by any Law of the Magistrate to choose his house, his Wife, his Master, his Servant, his Lawyer, his Physitian, his Calling, nor any one particular manner how to govern his Family, provided it may be done without breaking the publick peace.

5. THEY say, that how unjust or how extravagant soever the Laws of the Magistrate might be for the regulating of Politie, yet there is nothing unreasonable, neither in the Magistrate generally to command the practice of them, nor in all Subjects submitting to them, without reserve or exception▪ so long as the importance of those Laws do not extend beyond the present life; but if it reaches further, and Conscience and Eternal Salvation be concerned there­in, they believe, that an uniformity of Faith and of Religion, which should be imposed upon us, how good so ever the thing might be in its self, it would be wicked and unreasonable, because it would do violence to the Conscience, of which the Magistrate is not the Master, nor the Arbiter, as he is of the Bodies and estates of Men.

CHAP. III. That upon the ground of this Hypothesis, That every Supream Authority, either in the Popish or the Presbyterian Church, is subject to Error; Monsieur de Condom hath reason to approve of the Congregational way, and the Independency of particular Churches on any other Authority than that of Jesus Christ in his VVord.

BUT there is nothing, which does more reasonably establish the Independancy of particular Churches, nor which more power­fully destroyes this Authority in the Church, by a divine right, and the necessity there is, that a person, or a particular Church should depend upon its Ordinances, (unless that Supream Authority is in­fallible; for if it be subject to Error, it must of necessity do violence to the Christian liberty of the faithful, and so degenerate into a Tyran­nical Authority) there is nothing, I say, which establishes more rea­sonably the Independency of particular Churches, nor which more powerfully destroyes their dependency, than the account which the Bishop of Condom gives of the judgements of the Independants, and of the Sentence that the Synod of Charenton pronounced against them.

THEY believe, sayes he, that every faithful Member ought to fol­low the illuminations of his own Conscience, without submitting his judge­ment to the Authority of any Body, nor any Ecclesiastical Assembly, and they do not refuse to submit to the word of God, nor to embrace the decisions of Synods, when after a due and through Examination of them, they find them reasonable. That which they refuse to do, is to submit their judge­ment to that of any Assembly, because it is a Society of Men that are subject to Errour.

THE Gospel it self is not more true than this perswasion of Independants, and that Bishop could not approve of one more rea­sonable, to wit, that a particular person, or Church, ought not to submit their Faith, their Religion, nor the guidance of their man­ners to an Authority which is subject to errour, but only to the [Page 9] Word of God, which is an infallible Authority. Upon this ground the Bishop of Condom hath reason to condemn the Synod of Charenton, for having taxed the Judgement of the Independants with Errour, which consists, as sayes the Synod, in what they teach, that every Church ought to be governed by its own laws, without any dependance upon any in matters Ecclesiastical, and without any obligation to acknowledge the au­thority of Synods for its governance and conduct.

THEN a little after, this same Synod decides, that this Sect is as prejudicial to the State as to the Church: that it opens a door to all sorts of Irregularities and extravagancies: that it takes away all the means of bringing any remedy to them; and that if it had field-room enough it would form to it self as many Religions, as Parishes or particular Assemblies.

THESE last words, sayes the Bishop, discover, that it is prin­cipally in matters of Faith, that the Synod would establish depen­dancy, since the greatest inconvenience that he takes notice of, in­to which the faithful people of God would fall by independancy, is, that they would frame as many Religions as Parishes; then, says he, of necessity, according to the Doctrine of that Synod, each Church, and by a stronger reason each particular, must depend, as to what re­spects faith, upon a supreme Authority, which resides in some As­sembly, or in some body, to which Authority all the faithful people of God ought to submit their Judgement.

THIS Bishop could take notice of nothing more unreasonable, and more extravagant in our Synods, than to oblige a private per­son to submit himself in matters of Faith to the Judgment of an Assem­bly▪ whose decisions are not the Word of God, that is to say, not infallible.

'TIS true, that pre-supposing all Supreme Authority in the Church, whether in the Protestant or Romish, is subject to errour, the Government of the Adversaries of Rome, of Independants, or other Protestants, is equally justifiable, when they refuse to pay sub­mission to the Authority of Rome, since that it is incomparably more defective than that which the Protestants set up in their Churches.

BUT on the other side, if it be true, that, upon this ground, the Government of the Independants is more justifiable and more rea­sonable than that of other Protestants who blindly submit them­selves to a Tribunal subject to errour, and whose conduct and go­nance is beyond all comparison further off from Reason, than is that of the Papists; for pre-supposing that the Authority of Rome is infallible, the submission▪ which the people pay to that su­preme [Page 10] Authority, is so much the more reasonable as that of the Pro­testants is the less, when they submit to a supreme Authority which they themselves believe is subject to errour.

IN short, the Bishop of Condom hath great reason to be sure, that the Protestants are mightily beside the Cushion, and to blame, for condemning the Infallibility of Rome, so long as the Incontestability, and indisputableness which they invest their supreme Authority with­al, carries the same Obligation along with it to obedience and sub­mission. A great Divine of ours who relates the Judgement of the Protestants hereupon, libr. 1. cap. 8. de Clavibus, expresses himself in these words. Hujus ligamenti quo Pastores Ecelesiae constringunt peccato­res, tanta est vis & certitudo, ut Christus pronunciet, si quid ligaverint pastores in terris, id fore lig [...]tum in coelo; id est, Deum Ratum habitu­rum hanc ligationem, potest fieri aliquando ut ligatio sit injusta, vult ta­men Christus eam ratam esse; non enim fas est homini qui injuste excom­municatus est, invaaere sacram Coenam, & invitis Pastoribus irrumpere in communionem Ecclesiae.

IS not that to tell us, that a man excommunicated unjustly, is as much obliged to submit himself to the excommunication pro­nounced against him by an Authority which hath erred, as when it is given by an Authority which hath not erred? And is not that to tell us, that in every way, whither justly or unjustly, a person deli­vered to Satan (as is the general opinion of all Protestants (excepting my Father) that to deliver to Satan and to excommunicate are one and the same thing) ought not to dispute o [...] resist that Au­thority, which hath delivered him up to that evil Spirit? To con­clude, is not that to speak in the Language of the Canon, Si papa di­stinct. 40▪ which will by no means permit a person cast thus to the Devil, although against all right and justice, by the Authority of the Pope, to resist that supreme Authority.

THE Bishop likewise hath no less good Reason to be sure, that the conjunction of all the parts of Romish Church in one body would be unreasonable, if they were not cimented by infallibility; and to divest it of its Infallibility, is to break it in pieces, is to cast eve­ry of its least parts into Independancy, and to give liberty to e­very of them to govern themselves according to their own mode and way, and to do their business by themselves.

BUT here we should observe, as we go along, that of two depths of Satan, the Ecclesiastical Power, and Infallibility, the first is a Lie, an [Page 11] Imposture, and a cheat; but that presupposing that it is not a cheat, but a thing that is good, and true, and the use of which is necessary in the Church, Infallibility is naturally and reasonably a consequence of it. And in truth, our Reformers have placed Incontestability in the room of Infallibility. But it is true also, that if Infallibility be a pure cheat▪ the other is a pure and absolute tyranny, and it is less reasonable, in not being a natural consequence of Ecclesiastical power: incontestability is a thousand times worse than Infallibity except it be in one thing, and that is, that it hath not been of so long a Duration.

'TIS here no doubt wherein the illuminations of humane Rea­son were not so great to our first Reformers, as to the generation of men in this Age: For as those soresaw in it, that a submission of so many Princes and people, who differed in Customes, Laws, and Languages, to an Authority subject to errour, was not only unrea­sonable, but also impossible, to prevent the revolt both of Kings and people, they with a great deal of Justice invested it with Infallibility.

AND 'tis here too that the Bishop of Condom triumphs over us, and has great reason for it on his side, when he reproaches us that we have been deficient in our Politicks, in not erecting among us an infallible Tribunal, and that we are much to blame, for obliging the faithful people of God with so much rigour and severity to submit to a tribunal subject to errour; but those of Rome are not so, for they oblige their people to submit to one that is infallible.

BUT the Independants, as they are led by the illumination of grace, and reason, so likewise are they most reationally, and with great Justice and Piety disengaged not only from a pretended Infallible Tribunal, but also from the Tyranny of such dependance, or submission to an Authority subject to errour.

AS to the Assertion of the Synod of Charenton, that the Sect of the Independants opens the door to all manner of Irregularities and Extravagances, that Assertion, I say, seems plausible at the first, as in truth it is not only plausible, but most reasonable in matters pure­ly Civil, in which, if there were not a last Resort and Refuge, and Ap­peal from Court to Court in the Territories of a Soveraign, there would be as many Courts erected Independant one on the other, not only as there are Families, but as there are private persons. Which incon­venience is not one in matters of Religion, Faith, Doctrine and Divine Worship, in▪ which the Conscience of every one is the last resort where­in the business is to be judged without any further Appeal, and where [Page 12] none ought to be constrained, but exhorted and perswaded: A Synod is to perswade a particular Church to embrace such a Faith; but it hath neither right nor power to force it. Now a particular Church is to do the same as to one of its Members, and if it carries any constraint with it, it no longer acts as a Church, and as an Assembly of Christi­ans and faithful [...] people, but as a Magistrate, at least like an Arbiter and Judge, to whom Jesus Christ sent the planteth in the eighteenth Chapter of St. Matthew, in these words tell it to the Church, that is to say, tell it to an Assembly which had neither any Court, nor any power, nor Jurisdiction, and where the party intimated mightly decline, or re­fuse the Judgement without damage, as it appears by those words of Je­sus Christ, if he dres not hearken to the Church. For by these words, let him be unto thee, &c. Jesus Christ does not command the Church to pro­ceed to an Excommunication of that party that has done the wrong, but he advises the offended party to cite the other, who has deprived himself of the quality of a Brother before the natural Judges, as well of the Publicans as of the Heathens the one being the Ministers of the State, and the other being of the Religion of the Emperour. In short, the Church as such, and considered as Christians, and honest men, hath no more jurisdiction▪ that a Colledge of Philosophers.

CHAP. IV. That the design of the Congregational Churches is most holy and most reasonable, when they labour to retain a Conformity of Faith with the other Reformed Churches, but take the liberty to differ from them in matter of Discipline: Of the venerait­on they have for Calvin, and for the Churches which follow his Doctrine and Discipline.

THE design of producing their Confession of Faith, is to shew, that it is the very Masterpiece of an extreamly juditious Govern­ment; and as it was the work of persons most perfect in the Study of Divinity, the principal design they had in the composition of their Confession was to declare and testifie to the World, that altho every Church might take the liberty to differ from others in discipline, they ought nevertheless to labour above all things to retain and keep the [Page 13] same faith in matters, that are essential with all the Reformed Chur­ches. This is what the Congregational party have done with great care and circumspection in the making of their Confession: for be­side, that they do but a very little differ from that of the Presbyte­rians, and that they do not at all divide from them, but in matter of Discipline, they have also indeavoured to have their Faith con­formable to the Doctrine of the Church of England: and as to their Discipline, it is very simple and naked: they have no other than that which Saint Paul gives in three words, to wit, That every thing in the Church should be done Decently and in Order. They have especial­ly had an eye to the practice of the Churches under the good Roman Emperors, under Constantine, Theodosius, Martianus, and Justinian, un­der whom they kept a strict uniformity in Faith▪ and that correspon­dence was maintained by letters which they called Literae Testimonia­les, Circulares, Ecclesiasticae, Formatae; tho otherwise they took the liberty to differ one from another, even under one and the same Emperour, in Discipline, in Customes, and in Ceremonies. Saint Austin, Epist. ad Ta­nuarium, 119. & Epist. 86. ad Casulanum Presbyterum, permits any Church to differ from others in Ceremonies, and in manner of Go­vernment, provided that they agree with them in Unity of Faith. The Historian Socrates, libr. 5. cap. 21. tells us, that there was not to be found two Churches in all the Roman Empire, which observed one and the same form of Prayers to God. The Jesuit Mainbourg, how zea­lous soever he is to the Uniformity of Rome in his Doctrine and disci­pline, yet he ceases not to say, and to maintain, that the diversity of u­sages, customes, and practices, is compatible with the unity of Faith. One ought not, says he, never to separate for the diversity and customes, which may be different the one from the other, without the wounding the Ʋnity of Faith. Pag. 303. of his third book of the Treatise of Schism among the Grecians. I have read as much in a great Lawyer, it is Godefrey the Son. Certissima olim fidei▪ contesseratio erat unà Eucharistiam s [...]mere. [...] dicebantur non in eadem disciplina, sed fid [...].

WE must also do them this justice, that there are no Doctors who have a greater Veneration for the Doctrine and memory of Caloin, nor who desire with more ardent zeal to have a strict and close Communion with the Churches which follow the Doctrine of that holy man, than their Pastors; altho they believe that they may have, as I have said, the liberty to differ from them in matter of discipline, without thinking themselves guilty, either of separation▪ or schism.

CHAP. V. That the Congregational Churches do most rationally Establish the Authority of Synods and Pastors, and the nature of the Church.

'TIS a great wrong and injury done to the Independants, to affirm that they condemn Synods, since on the contrary, they Establish the true use of them, as the Bishop of Condom, who hath more charity for them than other Synods, and our Divines acknowledge. The Independants, says he, do not refuse to embrace and comply with the de­cisions of Synods, when, after they have duely examined them, they find them not unreasonable: that which they refuse to do, is to submit their Judgement to that of any Assembly or Society subject to errour.

THE Independants argue as Mr. Pajon does: Though Jesus Christ himself, says he, should come down from Heaven to dwell on the earth again with all the rayes of Glory that are roand about him, to teach us, and to guide and direct us; yet it would be impossible for us to obey him reasona­bly, without making use of our iwn illumination to know it, and to judge whi­ther it be just and reasonable to obey him in all things.

If he would not have a humane Judgement submit to that which discovers it's Infallibility with so much dazling and lustre, unless rea­son lead one to it; by an Argument à fortiori would he approve of the conduct of the Independants as reasonable, when they re­fuse to submit to a Judgement that is humane and fallible.

BUT the true Constitution of Synods according to them, when they look upon them as the Assemblies of the Ministers of Jesus Christ, of Divines, and of faithful people, and the true use they make of them, and which ought to be made of them, is to ask, and receive from them advice and counsel, as one expects, and as one ought to receive it from wise and experienced men, and not by way of command and impulse. That is all the Authority that the great Arch-Bishop of Armagh, and Mr. Baxter gives them, when they consider them as such: And also the Oecumenical Synods which were held under Constantine and Martian, had no more, before those Empe­rours [Page 15] gave to their conclusions the force and prevalence of Canons, and the Sanction of Imperial Laws.

THEY take the Apostolical Synod for the model of the Autho­rity of all Synods, at least of that which they would attribute to themselves: and although it was the onley Synod that was guided by the spirit of Infallibility, and its Authority was much more emi­nent otherwise than that of all the Synodal Assemblies in the succeeding Ages; yet it never went, as the others have done since, to throw out Anathema's at the heads of those who refuse to be obedient to them; but it only concludes with this exhortation, if you keep these Canons, you will do well,

THEY speak of the nature of the Church, of the power and cal­ling of Pastors, and of their Ordination, and according to the good maxims of Monsieur Mestrozat, Monsieur Pajon, and Monsieur Claude, and their Doctors were the first who have established the true nature of Schism.

AS to what respects the Power, the Authority, and the Jurisdiction of Pastors, they acknowledge no other in the Church than that which is confined in every particular Church, and which goes not beyond per­swasion▪ or at the farthest a declaration that it makes, that it no longer owns such and such, either for the Pastors, or Members of its Society: And this is what is done by a natural right, and not in shooting out the thunderclaps of Excommunication, or deposition against them; for Ex­communication is not a business that is much disputed of among them. The hereticks and the wicked, being condemned by their own confessi­on, have no need to be excommunicated, because they are excommuni­cated of themselves, as the Bishop Godean tells us in his Paraphrase up­on the eleventh Verse, of the third Chapter of the Epistile to Titus, A man that is an Heretick after the first and second Admonition reject, knowing that he that is such, is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself▪ and it is what he says, after Saint Jerome. If any one of their Assem­blies practise Excommunication, it is that of the Ancient Christians, it is not a privation from the holy Supper, but an ejection of the body out of the Assembly, no longer to be reckoned any of their Members.

CHAP. VI. An Answer to those who say that the Congregational way is In­compatible with the Civil power; and that it deprives the Magistrate of the Right he hath to the Government of the Church; that it is Introductory of Irreligion, Ignorance, and Schism in the Church.

THE four and twentieth Chapter of their confession of faith, condemns those who speak of them, as of persons that despise Superiour Powers: For it is easiy to demonstrate that their way is so far from being, as Monsieur Daille believed, pernitious, and such as troubles the peace of the world, or which over-throws the Govern­ments of it, and the authority both of Soveraigns and their states, that, on the contrary, there is no way in the world which contributes more to the strength'ning of Empires, Especially of Monarchies, and which ought lesse disquiet the Crowned heads for fear least they should cause by it any commotions in the State, than theirs: For as they do not set up and establish any Ecclesiastical tribunal indepen­dant on the Magistrate, which draws along with it the two thirds of the most considerable persons of the State, especially, those who are most nice and Scrupulous in Religion; it is impossible that there should be any troubles made by leagues and confederations in that manner as may be in all the Presbyterian Churches of a Nation, and as those practise it, when they forme to themselves, as oft times they have done an Assembly of their deputies.

ALL the world knowes that these general and National Assemb­lies of the Clergy, have been formidable to Kings and Parliaments▪ because they are as an Altar, and a Soveraign Ecclesiastical power; opposed to a Soveraign and civil power, of which there have been seen pernitious effects in Scotland, and which France, would have found, if the reformed Religion had prevailed over the Romish: And I am very much persuaded that nothing so much diverted Henry the fourth from the thoughts he might have had to establish the Re­formed [Page 17] Religion in France, as the apprehension he had that his acti­ons, being somewhat free, might be too far lookt into and examin­ed by the Synods and the Consistories, and that his person should be brought under their Jurisdiction.

AS therefore the Independants do condemn these Maxims, and these practises, which are absolutely contrary to theirs; how ill intended soever they were, or might be, it is no more possible for them to set up in a Kingdom, a Soveraign Ecclesiastical Juris­diction, than for all the Companies of Merchants and Trades­men, or for all the Families of France to erect a Tribunal, and a Merchandizing, or Oecumenical Power, which may be equal with that of the Civil State,

IN a word, as the Congregational Churches do neither receive Ordinances, nor Commandments from their Synods, but only counsells and advice, and that they cannot assemble in a body by their deputies, they give a great advantage unto Magistrates to possess an intire and perfect Soveraignty, and to take for their Motto, Divide & Impera. For those who deprive their Synods of all Authority, and who do not attribute to themselves any other power than that of persuasion, are the most remote of all from framing to themselves, either an Empire, or one to be chief over them.

'TIS true, their weakness is their subscribing to that Maxim of Cicero, libr. de Officiis. Ʋt tutela, sic procuratio Reipublicae ad uti­litatem eorum qui commissi sunt, non ad eorum quibus commissa est ge­runda est: and to that of Salvian, libr. de Providentia. Infinitam Regiae Majestatis potestatem isti agnoscunt, qui infinitam divini Numinis Omnipotentiam non credunt.

'TIS true, they are accused for depriving the Magistrate from the same Authority, and Soveraign Intendence over the Ecclesi­astical State, as over that of the Civil▪ But notwithstanding they do sufficiently satisfy all reasonable and considerate persons of this in the four and twentieth Chapter of their Confession. Beside those who condemn that collaterality of Governments and of Tribunals, the one Ecclesiastical, and the other Civil, in one and the same territory, and who believe that it comes from the forge of Antichrist, and that it hath introduced Popery into the world, do not trouble themselves about resolving the difficulty, nor about assigning to each his Lawes, his Courts, his Officers, his So­veraign, [Page 18] and the measure of his Power and Authority.

I add, that as the force and efficacy of Laws does not consist in, whither they are Ecclesiastical or Civil, nor in their goodness, ju­stice, and truth; but in the will of him, or those, who sit at the Helm of Affairs, the Congregational Churches must of necessity acknowledg the force of all those Laws, whither for the Ecclesi­astical, or the Civil State: only they affirm, that as the Magistrate is not Infallible, he may possibly abuse his right, and orr either in the publication, or the execution of his Laws, of what Na­ture soever they be: and as they are not obliged to obey all Civil Laws, no more are they obliged to obey all Laws Eccle­siastical; they affirm also, that as the Empire of Jesus Christ, in mat­ters of Religion, is not over the bodies, but over the hearts of men, the Magistrate who is the Protector and Defender of the vi­sible Church of Jesus Christ in his Territories, sins extremely, when he makes Laws and Ordinances that do violence to the bodies of his Subjects, and that take from them that liberty, which every man ought to have in the choice of his Religion, and in the manner of serving God.

BUT that crime which is imposed on them, supposing it to be one, is incomparably less, than that of Presbyterian Churches, all which follow the establishment, and the practise of Calvin, who set up in Geneva an Ecclesiastical Tribunal, Independant and di­stinct from that of the Magistrate; insomuch that a learned man named Monsieur Jurieu, has writ a large Book, wherein he endeavours to prove, that the Soveraign Magistrate, considered as such, has not any jurisdiction, nor Intendence over the Collected Churches in his Dominions, and that he hath no other right than that of Inspecti­on, and considered as a Christian, and one of his principal Mem­bers▪ wherein Monsieur Jurieu is more Independant than the Indepen­dants themselves, and he does not afford so much Authority to the Magistrate over the Churches that are collected within his Territo­ries and Dominions, as the Independants do.

THE Independant Churches and their Pastors are very wide from these thoughts and practises: For the Authority of every Con­gregation, being as that of every Family, what liberty soever it has to govern it self according to its own way and humour, it is not, neither in right, nor in power, nor even in will, to set up a Tri­bunal distinct from, and Independent on that of the Magistrate.

[Page 19] AFTER all, a Prince who should endeavour to establish an Arbitrary Power in his Kingdom, that should depend only upon God and his Sword, might imagine he should be less hindred by several thousands of Independant Congregations, not only on him, and on his Courts, but also the one Independant on the other; than by one entire body of all those Churches, which should set up by their deputies an Ecclesiastical Tribunal distinct from, and Independant on the Civil: For the strengeh of all those Inde­pendant Congregations, would be like that of several threads, which may easily be broke one after another, whereas the strength of all those Churches joyned in one body, would be like to that of all those threads twisted together, which it would be almost, if not absolutely, impossible to break, or to undo, but by the same way that Alexander took to break the Gordian-knot.

AS the Independent Churches do come the nearest to those of the Apostles, so likewise they are further off, than any of the other reformed Churches, from that thought and practise which has ac­complished the Mystery of Inquity, which is nothing else but the Empire of the Clergy, and so consequently That of the Pope, in the Empire of the secular Powers, under the Mask and Disguise of Re­ligion, and Ecclesiastical power.

AS to the Objection that is made against them, that in case there should be no other Ecclesiastical Establishment in a Kingdom than theirs, the three fourths of the Inhabitants would live in great negligence, and a gross Ignorance of Religion. To that they say, that their way does not exempt Pastors from attending upon the Office of their Ministry, at all times and places, both within and without their particular Congregations; and to take the same pains as the Presbyterian Ministers do, for what repects the preaching of the word in the most publick places: also they do very much approve, that the Magistrate should erect Academies, and Colledges; assign Tithes, and Revenues, and Temples; establish persons to be imploy­ed in the instruction of people in publick, to invite them to it, and to excite the Ignorant to frequent the Schools, and the Lectures of the Professors of Arts and Sciences, where they should go for the love of vertue and knowledge, without being constrained.

AS to the crime of Schism, which is imposed on them, as their being seperate from all the visible Churches of Jesus Christ, in the same manner as the Donatists, the Novatians, and the Luciferians did: [Page 20] 'tis a false Accu sation. Those who accuse them of Schism, do not understand the nature of Schism.

1. 'TIS not Schism, when a particular Church separates from another Church, as the Church of Luther from that of Calvin, nor the Protestants from the Papists: nor even one particular reformed Church from some other, with which it made before but one body of a Church: But true Schism is formed among the Members of one and the same particular Church, as was that of Co­rinth.

2. 'TIS not Schism when a number of Hereticks separate from the Orthodox party of a particular Church▪ to make a Congregati­on apart, to the end they may profess their heresie with greater li­berty, but it is an Apostasie, and an abandoning and forsaking of the Orthodox faith, or Church of Jesus Christ, which is Catho­lick and visible: and upon this ground the Church of Rome is not a Schismatical, but an Apostate Church; although it be one for the first reason, because that what ingagement or tye soever all its Members have to one head, however they are not all agreed toge­ther. Schism properly is when the Members of one Church are at variance, as were those of the Church of Corinth, and upon that account there is alwayes a Schism in the Romish Church.

3. THERE is no Schism among several particular Churches that differ one from the other in discipline, but that retain and keep all the same foundation and ground of faith, and who have for that point a great union, and a strict correspondence with other Churches. And this being so, no more is there any Schism, when the Congregationals are Independant on other Churches, and on their Synods, but when their Churches are so among them­selves.

4. THERE is no Schism among several particular Churches that agree in one and the fame faith, and discipline, as are those of Metz and Sedan, but do their own business apart independantly, not only on one another, but likewise on the Synods. 'Tis with Independant Churches, or with several other particular Churches, as with several families, or Neighbourhoods, or those that are pretty distant the one from the other, who may all be good friends, and live in good Intelligence together, without any thing of Schism, or rupture between them, and yet every one does their own particular business by themselves.

[Page 21] 5. THE Congregational men are no more guilty of Schism, when they form to themselves Congregations, distinct from Parishes contrary to the command of the Magistrate; 'tis a disobedience, not to a National Church which Jesus Christ hath not instituted, much less invested with either Jurisdiction or power to make Laws in matters of Religion; but to the Magistrate, whom to disobey is not Schism, but a crime of laesoe Majestaetis, or rebellion; but yet it ceases to be that too, when it acts only from this principle of obey­ing God rather than men.

NOW this clearing up of the Nature of Schism, which strong­ly establishes the Independancy of the Churches, and makes it altoge­ther reasonable, does not destroy the Confederation of the Churches into one body, even under a national Synod, when for the mutual preservation of these Churches against a common Enemy that per­secutes them, they are constrained to make but one body of State or of Churches, such as is the Confederation of our Churches in France. But then that necessity does not destroy the natural liberty of every particular Church to be Independant: 'tis a Confederati­on established with prudence, in that manner as was that of the Cities of Achaida, and as is at this day that of the Low-Countries, and of the Swizers; the conjunction, of which into one body, and under one and the same jurisdiction does not divest any Town or Province of their natural freedome and liberty to be Independant on one another.

THERE is however this temper, and menage to be observed in this Religious Confederation, that it ought to be made, not by vertue of the Power of binding and loosing, and of the Keys of the Kingdome of heaven, which it is pretended that God hath committed to Pastors, or Synods; but by vertue of a confederated discipline, which is in the place of a Magistrate. Also the Councel of Monsieur Amyraule should be observed, and it is the same that the Cities of Achaia observed before, viz. that nothing should pass in the general Assembly, but what has been first reviewed, and ap­proved of by every particular Church.

AND this is that wherein the prudence of our first Reformers in France have been wanting, when they sat up a discipline by ver­tue of an Ecclesiastical power distinct from that of the Magistrate, and from that which has its operation upon the heart by the Mini­stry of the word; and of a power fastened to the Keyes of the [Page 22] Kingdome of Heaven, and to that of binding and loosing: by ver­tue of which power, they depose and excommunicate, that is to say, as Monsieur Claude says, they deliver up a person to the Devil: but they also deliver him to him in the name and Authority of Je­sus Christ, that so the people may not imagine this power to be that of the Magistrate, or of the confederate discipline, but of Jesus Christ, the Mediatour, and King of his Church, and by vertue of the power that he exercises over it, and of which the Pastors and Mini­sters are the depositers.

AS to those who blame as much the separation of the Indepen­dants, as that of the Donatists, the Novatians, and Luciferians, it is ill grounded: the vice of the Donatists was in that they owned no other Church of Jesus Christ in the World than theirs: for they rebaptized those who came from the Catholick Church to them: the Independants are far from these thoughts and practices: they do as those who having a particular care of their health, withdraw into a better place, and sounder Air, but yet they do not think, but that they may do very well in places, where the Air is not so good.

BEFORE I go to another Chapter, I shall take notice that the result of the thoughts, and of the practises of the Congrega­tionals, their Churches and their Pastors, do come to these two Maxims.

1. THAT to establish peace and true Religion in the World, and among Christians; we must go back to the Materia prima of the Congregational Churches, which is, that every person, and e­very Society hath the liberty to deliberate and consult about the choice of a Religion, and of the way to serve God; and to take up­on that point the counsel of wise and sincere persons, provided that that counsel tends not to Irreligion, and to some Establishment of such maxims which shock the natural Notions concerning the existence of a God, his Providence, the Immortality of the soul, the necessity of a Divine Worship; provided also that the manner which every person, and every Church hath chosen to govern it self by, doth not trouble the State in which one lives; unless that trouble happen by accident, in the manner that Jesus Christ sayes of the Gospel, which excites troubles, and brings Wars and conten­tions into the World.

2. THAT this maxim of a national Church in every Terri­tory, [Page 23] with an uniformity of Doctrine, and discipline, distinct from the civil Tribunals in jurisdiction and officers, hath introduced the Pope into the World; that it hath been, it is, and it will be the cause that there never will be a Church in the World in its true purity, unless Almighty God reserves some among the Congregational Churches.

CHAP. VII. That the Congregational way has been practised in all Ages of the World.

I Could easily shew that for above this four thousand years before Jesus Christ, and even during the height of Popery, and in the bosome of the Church of Rome, God hath alwayes reserved some true Worshippers of Jesus Christ, by the way of Congregatio­nal Assemblies; there were an infinite number of them in the Ro­man Empire, during the persecution that was set on foot by the Arrians, and when, as St. Jerome sayes, all the World were Ar­rians.

BUT to come more particularly to the thing; they have had Independant Churches in all times, and in all places, before the Law, and under the Law, in the time of Jesus Christ, and of the Apostles, and after the Apostles, there were of them in the time of Exos the Son of Seth; for so must be understood the last Verse of the fourth Chapter of Genesis, when men began to call upon the name of the Lord: that from his time the Children of God began to form themselves into particular Congregations, and to sepa­rate from those that ran after the World, and its vanities, and to be called the Children of God or of Jehova, and to pay their ado­rations to him as to their Creator and Benefactor. The family of Noah and his Ark was a Congregational Church, which God had separated from all the rest of the World. The family of Job, that of Abraham, Josuah, Samuel, were Independant Churches. Palestine was full of them, as Maimonides tells us, and they were truly In­dependant, because they neither had any thing to do with the natio­nal [Page 14] Church, nor with its tribunal, nor Sanhedrim. And so likewise the Guides, who were called Prophets, Seers, and Doctors were not of the tribe of Levi, but of another tribe: and it is from those that the Doctors of the Law came, which Jesus Christ speaks of, the Scribes, the Pharisees, and the Esseni. They called their So­cieties [...], Colledges, houses of Prayer, and Synagogues, where they did not attend upon the Levitical Worship, but on Prayer, exhortation, and the expounding of the Law, and we see the first establishment of them in the first Verses of the three and twentieth Chapter of Leviticus, they were distant one from the other the space of a Sabbath day's Journey, they were near­er one another whilest they stayed in the Wilderness, and were then called Tents, as were those of Corah, Dathan, and Abiram, which were also Independant Churches. David calls the Congregation that he frequented, Sanctuary, where he consulted the mouth of God about his being healed from his prejudices against the dispensation of God towards the generation of good men, who were often times under the Rod, and in affliction; whilest the wicked were in prosperity: and in the 87 Psalm, he speaks of the esteem that he had for those Congregations or houses of Prayer which he did set forth by the Tents of Jacob, although that which he had for the Ark, or for the gates of Zion, and for his propitiatory, were greater. To con­conclude, the seven thousand men, that had not bowed their knee to Baal, were Independant Churches; for it cannot be thought that so great a number of persons could assemble together in one place, and that too in a time of so great persecution.

THERE were of them in the time of Jesus Christ; for the Apostolical Colledge was an Independant Church, and in his time, two or three persons assembled in his name, made a Church, as also sayes Tertullian, ubi tres, ibi Ecclesia, eti­amsi Laici. Immediately after the Ascention of Jesus Christ, the first Assembly of Christians in Jerusalem was Independant; and that where Cornelius and his family were assembled, was a Congregatio­nal Church, of which St. Peter was the Pastor for some days. Phile­mon had one of them in his house. Those of whom Pliny the young­er speaks, Epist. 97. libr. 10. were others of them. Affirmabant hanc fuisse summam vel erroris, vel culpae, quod soliti essent, stato die, ante lucem convenire, carmenque Christo quasi Deo dicere secum invicem, seque Sacramento ne in Scelus aliquod obstringere, sed ne furta, ne la­trocinia, [Page 25] ne Adulteria committerent, ne sidem fallerent, ne depositunt ap­pellati abnegarent. Tertullian. libr. de Coron. Milit. adds that it was the Custome in those Assemblies before day, to Celebrate the holy Supper. The Independant Churches of England, at least some of them, are formed after this Model, and exact from their Members, that they shall abstain from those crimes of which Pliny makes mention.

NOW that custome of the Christians in the time of Pliny, which exacted from the Members of their Churches, a life perfect­ly exemplary, stops the mouths of those, who turn into rallery, the Independant Assemblies, because they only do admit of those that are holy, and in whom they find the marks and signs of Regene­ration, and who oblige themselves by Oath, or verbal promise, to abstain from those crimes that Pliny here has reckoned up, or to undergo the Penalty set, according to the discipline of the Church.

ALSO that custome of the Christians testifies, that besides the numerous Churches, as for instance that of Corinth, which consisted of several thousands, where it could not be otherwise but that there must be a good number of Hereticks, and debauched and loose persons, there were established other Congregational, taken out of the great Church, whereof the Members were more holy and more Orthodox; and who resembled those whom Pliny speaks of, and those Stations which Tertullian mentions: where beside the pub­lick Assemblies, some families set a part by themselves one day of the week to fasting, to prayer and other exercises of Piety, and al­so to the Celebration of the holy Supper: and this is what they fre­quently practised, and with good edification: for it is with small Churches, as with small States, little Republicks, Families, parti­cular Synods of twenty five or thirty persons; wherein it is much more easie to establish a good order, and to bring those who are of it unto the practise of good manners and life, than in great States, in great Churches, and Oecumenical Synods, and such as are National, wherein Ambition, Envy, Factions, Avarice, [...] ▪ and [...], and corruptions reign, and cannot but do so. Strada sayes very judiciously. In consessu plurium Senatorum, aut Consitia­riorum, partes su [...]s magis agit Ambitio, quàm in paucorum. Lucian, libro de Artibus dolosis, in speaking of great Assemblies, sayes, the greatest Bawlers have the greatest advantage in such Assemblies, because [Page 26] those who understand nothing of the matter, and to be sure, are always of the greatest number, judge of things by the outside, and so give the cause for g [...]i [...]ed, to those who are the most resolute and clamorous.

THESE considerations do furnish me with several others, which confirm me in this Opinion that the Congregational way was that which God made use of, in the Ancient Church, to con­vert to the faith, those, who were not Christians, but by outward profession, from a State of nature to a State of Grace: and that the way which they take at this day, when one person preaches to several thousands is neither properly, nor efficaciously that which gains souls to Jesus Christ. And this will appear by the oppositi­on of the Government at this day in the Church, to that of the antient Primitive Christians. I believe, there will be found but very little conformity, not onely, in the persons that attend upon the Ministry, but also in the places, and manner, where, and how it is performed. Heretofore the Bishop alone in pub­lick did execute the office of preaching, and the other duties of the holy Ministry; for he left those of lesser consequence to the Deacons; but at this day just the Reverse is practised, and main­tained. 'Tis now only the Priest that preaches in publick in the Assemblies of several thousands. And likewise as the extent of the place unto which the Ministry of these at this day is con­fined, is called [...], so it was also heretofore that of the Bishop, and he most commonly dated his Letters thus ex mea paraecia. Which, by the way, plainly shewes us, that the Intendance and Government of the Bishop in the Primitive Church, was only o­ver a Town or Villa, which they called a Parish or a Suburb, for also every Villa and Burrough had their Chorepiscopum. Monsieur Larroque, without thinking of it, makes it clear and evident, that it was the Ancient practise, for the Bishop alone to have the charge of preaching in the greatest, and most numerous Assemblies, because the Bishops being aged and sick, they called to his help and assistance, not the Priests of the Bishop's Presbytry, but some neighbour Bishops. He tells us of one Nareissus, Bishop of Jeru­salem, who, being a hundred and sixteen years old, had for his Coadjutor Alexander, that had been Bishop of Capadocia: and of one Theoctenus, Bishop of Caesarea, that shared the care of his E­piscopacy with Anatolius, who, in truth, was not as yet Bishop, but who▪ was then consecrated and called Bishop: which plainly shewes was [Page 27] that a Priest could not be his Coadjutor. This is also confirmed by the example of Valerius Bishop of Hippo, who being old and decayed, took not one of those who was to continue in the Presbytry for his Coadjutor; but he took Saint Austin, who was to be his Successor, and who also was called Bishop of Hippo during the life of Valerius.

AS to those of the Presbytry, who were called Deacons, as they were the Creatures of the Bishop, and wholy at his Devotion, so likewise their Ministry was that which is spoken of in the 6. of the Acts, which was not that of preaching in publick.

AS for the Priests or Elders, who were not Deacons, they did not ordinarily preach in publick assemblies, whence it happened, that we read of very few Homilies composed and made by the Priests. Their Ministry was concluded and bound within the a­partment or paraecia of the Bishop, and, as I have already said, it was less fixt, and more Itinerant, for they went from house to house: there was not a day past but that the Priest, or Elder, visited the good Families, went to prayers there▪ expounded the word, and administred the holy Sacrament of the Lords Supper to them: and as for Baptism, it was most commonly celebrated by the Dea­cons in great Assemblies, or in great Churches, at the entrance of which, the Fonts were placed, or the Baptisterium.

'TIS true, the Bishops did frequently oppose those private as­semblies and by their Synods and Canons (so far as that the Synode of Gangr [...] anatheniatized them) called in derision those that frequented them A [...]phales▪ and condemned even those that communicated with them. They would do the like also to persons of quali­ty that kept in their houses Priests, and Oratories. 'Tis true al­so, Saint Chrysostome would have the Lords Supper to be as publick as Baptism, and that both should be celebrated and performed in the eyes of the whole World.

BUT because it would scarcely be believed, that one Bishop singly, as Cyril of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Saint Chry­sostome of Constantinople, could preach in publick one Lord's day, to above a hundred thousand Auditors that were in each of their Villa's; they say, that of necessity several of the Presbytry must perform the office of Preachers in those other places of the City where the Bishop did not preach: and this appears by the Homi­lies of Saint Chrysostome, ad populum Antiochenum, when he was not Bishop: That is true, but also those Priests had no fixt places, [Page 28] no cure, nor certain, parish, over which they were pastors, be­cause the Bishop himself was the Curate of the Parish, so that the Priests were only the Vicars of the Bishops, in the same manner as Nicholas. 1. called the Bishop of Germany, and of France, Suos Episcopos & Vicarios. Those Priests were, as the Deacons at the devotion of the Bishop, and were entirely his Creatures, and they might rather (I am sure better) be called the Ministers of the Bishop, than of Jesus Christ, or of the Church, as it ap­pears by the six and twentieth Canon of the Synod of Agde, for they were like persons taken upon hire, and to whom the Bishop gave Salary for their pains and trouble.

AFTER all these discoveries and Manifestations, there is no doubt but that the Churches in the time of the Apostles and for a long while after, were congregational, and Independant on Sy­nodes, since that even every Family of the most considerable, and better sort was a Church, or, at least, they had one among them, where the exercizes of Piety were regularly performed every day, and where, during their repast, the holy Scripture was read, as we may learn from the first Epistle to Timothy, Chapter the IV. verse the fifth. For every Creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God, and prayer. And where before they departed, or, indeed, rose from Table, they received the Communion as Tertullian tells us in his book de Corona Militis, declaring that this practise was agreeing with the institution of Jesus Christ, as it was also practised much in the 3. Age in the time of Saint Cyprian, as he tells us in one of his Epistles, Quotidie communicamus. Although several families, e­very Lord's day, made very great and Numerous Assemblies, where in most solemn manner they attended upon prayer, preach­ing, and celebration of the holy Supper, yet he, who performed the Action, was called Primus Presbyter, [...], & Episcopus. To which it seemes Saint Paul hath respect in his 1. Epistle to Tim­othy. 5. 17. let the Elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and Doctrine; where, though, in the words, he does not speak of two kinds of Pastors, or Mini­sters, distinct in rank and dignity, nor even in office, yet notwith­standing he does insinuate in that place, that in the Presbytry, and in the Company of the Ministers of Jesus Christ, named indiffer­ently Bishops, Elders, and Presbyters, there were some that were [Page 29] Deacons, and whose gifts were less for praying and preaching in publick.

FOR though I believe that the Apostles did not establish diverse degrees of Pastors, and that in their time, and a long while af­ter, they were called indifferently Bishops, Priests, Elders, sacer­dotes, Ministers, and Deacons: And that the same Deacons bore a part in the Ministry of the word, with the rest, as it is seen, for Example, in Saint Stephen, and Phillip, and by what Clemens Alexandrinus tells us in the sixth book of his strom ites, and Mr. James Capel in his Catechisme: yet it is most certain that from the second age, they were distinguished in names and offices, that the first Priest, or Bishop, attended more peculiarly upon preaching in pub­lique, and the Priests and Deacons upon the functions of lesser con­sequence, as alms-giving &c. from whence it is, that we read so often of the first Bishops of Rome, that such a one created so many Priests, so many Deacons, and that Hyggen in the year 141. cre­ated fifteen Priests, fifteen Deacons, and six Bishops. That Eleutherius in the year 184 ordained 12 Priests. 8 Deacons, and 15 Bishops, not to serve in the Church of Rome, but in other places, where the Bishop, who had ordained them, was to at­tend upon the preaching in publick, and the Priests and Deacons upon the other functions of the holy Ministry; for their Ministry was less fixt; they went to break bread from house to house, they instructed, they comforted, they confirmed Christians, and those whom they called Fideles in the profession of the Christian Re­ligion, and in the Practise of Piety, and drew over Jews and Gen­tiles to them, and they baptized them, adding every day some or other to the Church of Jesus Christ to be saved. In a word, they formed almost as many independant Churches, as there were fa­milies, but which then did not constitute a Communion distinct from that of the same Fideles in the greater and more numerous Assemblies, and where they assisted, not only at the h [...]aring of the word, but also at the participation of the holy supper, and all the sacred Ceremonies, as Mounsieur le Sueur tells us.

I must needs make one observation here which will be of no mean consequence, as to what I have said, about the diversity of the names of Bishop, Priest, Elder, Sacerdote, and Deacon in the same Ministry, against those who would fain perswade us, that not only this Intendance of a Bishop over the Priests, but also the [Page 30] prerogative that they attribute to themselves of having alone the Au­thority and the right to ordain Pastors, is of divine right, and by the Institution of the Apostles; I must needs observe, I say, that since the words, and the Offices have been distinguished, Christian Antiquity never thought this Intendance and Prerogative to be of divine right▪ because it was in the liberty of a Bishop to abandon the order or office of Bishop, without quitting the office of Priest, or of Minister of Jesus Christ, and indeed without being able to do it, unless he were constrained to it by the sentence of deposition. They did deprive themselves then of an humane, arbitrary, and Mutable order, unto which they were called by men, but they could not divest themselves of that which they had received from Jesus Christ. That was the Judgment of the Councel of Ancyra in the year 314. which having deposed some persons from the Episcopacy▪ lest them in the Presbytry. This is what the sixth Oecumenical Councel did, Canon twenty, which deposed a Bishop, but did not take from him the Presbytry; so that if there was then an Indelible Caracter, it was not that of Bishop, but that of Tresbyter, and this is the farther confirmed, and more strongly, by this consideration, that, as it was an Usurpation, or at least a Right purely humane▪ when one of the Members of the Presby­try, who was called Bishop, attributed to himself alone the right and the office of Preaching in publick, and not of communicating it to others, but only as far as he pleased: The same Judgment ought to be made of this Intendance over Priests, and this prerogative to ordain; and to conclude, that neither Episcopacy, nor the power to ordaine, nor that to preach in publick which one person reserved peculiarly to himself, were of Christ's Insti­tution.

THIS is, if I am not mistaken, an observation, which has not as yet by any been thought on, but which is the unravelling of all the difficulties that those great men Mounsieur Daille the Father, Mounsieur Larroque &c. On one side, and Mounsieur Pear­son Bishop of Chester on the other, have formed concerning either the Establishment, or the overthrow of Episcopacy. And here now is the Resolution of the words of Saint Jerome, which have put so many people on the rack, and have spent both so much pre­tious time and paper. Quid facit Episcopus, quod non facit presby­ter, except [...] ordinatione? Which words Marsillius de Padoüa under­stands [Page 31] of the power that the Bishop reserved alone to himself, by a right purely humane, to regulate the Affairs of the Church; because it would be a thing altogether absurd, to make Saint Jerome say, that Jesus Christ had in all things equalled the Priest to the Bishop, except the power to ordain. And now also you may see, by all these declarations and discoveries, a very strong esta­blishment of the Congregational way. But I now will return from this digression to pursue the subject I left off for it.

THE conduct and Government of the Christians under the time of Persecution, and before that of Constantine, differ'd very much from the manner which was observed when the Emperours were Christians, and when they assembled together, both more pub­lickly, and in greater numbers, enjoying their full liberty. As a Rigorous discipline under those Christian Emperours could not be practised but upon a small number, in great Towns, as Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, Canstantinople, &c. Most of the persons, who could not be distinguished one from another, in the Crowd and Mul­titude, and on whom they could lay nothing by way of reproach, either entred into no discipline, and were neither Poenitentes, nor Catechumeni, or else they passed for those who were called fideles, and whom they never so much as question'd whether they were baptized or not: For Saint Ambrose, who was looked upon as a ve­ry good man, and one of the fideles that frequented the Religious Assemblies both in publick and private, was neither in orders, nor baptized, when the people of Milan took him, and carried him away as a holy body to be a Bishop. Will they say that after he was a Bishop, he passed through all the degrees of discipline, or peni­tence, and that he was a Catechumen, and afterwards a fidelis? which name was given only to those, who were called Lay, or Secular persons. And the example of Constantine the great, who was baptized, at the very point and moment of his death, and that of Satyrus the brother of Ambrose, and of Valentinian, whom that Father so highly commends, and who died before they were baptized, are a very strong proof and argument for that which I here maintain.

NOW, those of the faithful who were so, rather in reali­ty, than the name, did not under those Christian Emperours, quit their good custome of converting their houses, and their families into so many little Churches; they performed there the same ex­ercises, [Page 32] of Piety, both during their repasts, and out of them.

BUT I must here make one remark by the way upon the pas­sage of Saint Paul to Timothy, the 1 Epist 4 Chap. and 5 Verse. which I lately mentioned: that that good practise of reading the holy Scriptures during their repasts, succeeded both a good and an evil custome, among the Heathen of quality and condition, ac­cording to the disposition of persons, and according to their man­ners: for the debauchees during theirs, had, as Pliny the Younger tells us, their Moriones, and their Cynaedos, qui inerrabant Mensis, to pass a­way the time, and please the Company. But those who were se­rious and more composed, as Cicero, Cratippus, Seneca, Pliny the Elder, Euphrates, and Spurinna, had their Anagnostes, who read to them the Golden Sentences of Pythagoras, and of the other Sages of Greece▪ It doubtless therefore thus came, that the Heathen fami­lies which were of the disposition of these latter, being come o­ver to Christianity, as was that of Cornelius the Centurion, Publius the Proconsul, Philemon, and Lydia, took this good custome, not only to have a Church in their house, but to practise there all the Religious duties as well during their repasts as out of them.

THIS comes very near to the Idea of the Congregational way, which is to be considered in two respects, either when their Pastors, and their people retire and withdraw from the crowd of the world, I mean, from the Worldlings, to live con­tinually in the contemplation, and meditation of the works of Creation, of Providence, and of Redemption, in the devotion, and elevation of the Soul to God: or else, when those same per­sons do form to themselves Religious assemblies, distinct from the national Church, and Parochial assemblies; in a word, when they are distinct from the Ecclesiastical Government, which is of the same extent, as that of the Civil, that is establish'd by Lawes; though, in this last respect, their separation be not an absolute and intire abandoning of the profession of the doctrine, and life of those who follow the Religion of their Country; but of those who condemn that carriage, that doctrine and Discipline, which retained the most of the Apostolical. 'Tis a separating of the good Seed from the Chaff, whereof there is but too much in pa­rochial Assemblies, where one is as much, if not more, a Christi­an, by the chance of birth, of place, and of custome, than by a­ny [Page 33] inward principle, or design fratned: for otherwise the people of the Independant Church, and their Pastors, are no more back­ward, than the Episcopal men or the Presbyterians, to partici­pate with them in the Ministry of the parochial Churches, provid­ed they do not force them there to practise such things as they do really believe from their Consciences, to be contrary to the word of God, and provided also that they permit them to believe, that if the Churches reformed from Popery, where all sorts of persons are received, are the true Churches of Jesus Christ, in which Sal­vation may be had, they ought to have no less good and charita­ble opinion of the Independant Churches which are come out from them.

FOR these reasons, all disinteressed persons, that have a zeal for all the true Worshippers of Jesus Christ indifferently, in what way of communion soever, whither Episcopal, or Presbyterian, or Congregational, may easily be perswaded, that this last retains more of the Apostolick, because it is not only the Cream and best of the others, and a part of that good Seed that has the least of chaff in it; but also because it hath more goodness, love, and Charity, in the esteem of those who follow it, for the way of communion with others, and of those who are of it, then the others have for the Congregational way. 'Tis very rarely seen that any one of the Con­gregation does not love all good men, of what Communion soever they be, and that they do not speak of them as of the true Churches of Jesus Christ; whereas even the more sober, and honester party of the Episcopal men, and some of the Presbyterians, are so strong­ly prepossessed with prejudices against those of Congregations, that they are in their account no better than Hypocrites, Schis­maticks, and men of strange Enthusiasms.

A Learned Lawyer having cast his eye upon the matter con­tained in this Chapter, assured me, that one Mr. Hubbart a grave Barrester, in a Cause between Colt and Glover plaintiffs on the one part, and the Bishop of Gloucester defendant on the other, makes it out, that the Assemblies in the Primitive Church were Congre­gational. He hath also acquainted me with an Ordinance of Ca­nutus KING of England, in the year one thousand and sixteen, which began thus, hae sunt sanctiones▪ for the establishment of peace and Justice, where it is clear that beside the Ecclesiastical Natio­nal Government, established according to the Model of the civil, [Page 34] the Towns were full of little private Congregations, which as­sembled together voluntarily in the Towns, and which the King permitted, whilest neither Justice, nor the publick peace, were in­terrupted. He prest me likewise mightily to insist upon the defi­nition which the Church of England made of the Church in its Con­fession of Faith made in the year, 1562. Article the XIX. be­cause it is absolutely conformable to that which the Congrega­tional Churches give of theirs, to be, as I have already a little touched, an Assembly of persons together in one place, to attend upon the hearing of the word of God, and upon the Administration of the Sacraments.

CHAP. VIII. Of the great Benefits and Advantages that come from the Establishment of the Congregational way in the World.

THUS you see we are insensibly fallen upon the conformity of the carriage and government of the Congregational assemblies, with that of the Primitive Christians, for their smalness of num­ber, and for the way and manner of gaining souls to Jesus Christ, by Prayer, by Exhortation, and by Preaching, which they do to a few persons, or a few Families; as when their Elders inculcated into them every day, and line upon line, the necessity of leading holy and exemplary lives: so that the Christian people made far greater progress in Sanctification, by the means and helps of those Elders, than when they assisted at publick assemblies, where the severities of discipline, and the degrees of penitence, through which but very few persons went, seem'd to retain more of the affect­ed devotion, of pride, and of worldly pomp, than of sincerity, and where the fruit of the Bishop's preaching, was like to that, of which S. Chrisostome speaks in one of his Homilies, which resembles the wa­ter that is thrown in Buckets upon a great number of Bottles, which have a strait Neck, and where there goes in but a few drops, where­as the fruit of the exhortations which are made in private to a few, is the effect of him, who having taken the bottles, wil fill them by [Page 35] degrees one after another. Beside that, it is impossible, that a Bishop, or other person, who shares out all his time between his Chamber-studies, and preaching in publick, and who hath some thousands of persons under charge, it is impossible, I say, that he can suffice, and attend upon the Instruction of all those Auditors, and of every one of them in particular, which is most easy to be done by the way that the Pastors of Independant Churches take, whereof every Congregation is not, at the most, above two hun­dred persons, and who are also eased and help'd by their Coadjutors in the work of the holy Ministry, so that this kind of Congregati­onal way, seems to be the accomplishment of the Prophesy con­cerning the Covenant of Grace which God was to make in the lest times with his people, where there shall be no more need to have recourse to the Bishop, or to his Curate for receiving instruction, because every person, who is in the Covenant of Grace (as the greatest number of those who compose those Congregations do be­long to that Covenant,) shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, and the Pastor himself shall go to visit his sheep and take a particular care of them: So likewise this is the way of the Pastors of the little flock of Jesus Christ to whom he will give the Kingdom.

THERE are also other Considerations which confirm me absolutely in this opinion that God, in a more especial manner, approves of the Congregational way: One is, that, most an end, in all others, the Ministers are influenced by worldly in­terest, by ambition, and the desire of ruling, that its Establish­ment could never be made without noise, and without the oppo­sition of the Magistrate and the people: for they have been al­ways against this erection of a National tribunal Independant on the Magistrates, who never had given their consent to it, till af­ter the advocates and pleaders for this national tribunal had been indefatigably buzzing into their ears these fair and specious Remonstrances; that it was the voice of God, and of Jesus Chri [...]t that the world should be governed by two Collaterall powers. This is what the Decretals made the Kings and the people to be­lieve in the ninth age, and they strongly insisted that the Bishop of Rome was to be at the head of the Ecclesiastical power, and to pre­scribe laws to them by the Ministry of his Clergy for the regulat­ing of Religion, and for the Affaires of the Church. And [Page 36] this is what Calvin also made those to believe, who left the Church of Rome, when he erected a Tribunal for the matters of Religion, in which the Magistrates should not be seen in the quality of Magi­strates, but only as Members of the consistory: But yet a Tribun­al that should be as much invested with Incontestability, and with a power not to appeal from it, as that of Rome is with Infallibility And this is what Calvin carryed by main force, not only against the will of the Magistrate, and of the people of Geneva, but a­gainst the practise of all Churches, and against the Judgment of all the Divines of his time.

BUT it hath not been so with the Establishment of the Con­gregational way, to which the people have had as great an Incli­nation, and natural forwardness as the Pastors themselves. Which has been seen in England for above this forty years. For of more than sixscore persons, who made up the Assembly of Mini­sters, there was above a hundred of them for the Presbyterian Go­vernment, and about eight or ten for the Congregational way, and two only, Coleman, and Lightfoot, for the opinion of Erastus, Yet nevertheless, when it came to the Execution and practise, there was not one of ten thousand people that would submit to the Presbyterian Government. And one of them, who was the most Eminent, confessed to me, that being Pastor of the greatest Parish in London, he was never able to establish in it a consistory, nor find any that would be of it but a pitiful Scotch Taylor. This diffi­culty was not seen as to the Congregational way, for whereas only the Pastors were for the Presbyterian way, there were proportion­ably, as many people as Ministers, who joined in the Assemblies of the Congregational way. Which they did with more heat and fervour than the Parliament would have had them; in so much that they were forced to publish a Declaration, by which they exhorted the people to put off the gathering of Churches, till the Parliament had made a more publick regulation thereof. As to the opinion of Erastus, though it was not approved in the Assembly but by two Divines, it had notwithstanding the ap­plause of most of the Magistrates, of the learned and more illuminated, who were not of the Gowne; which discovers.

1. THAT Interest is the Toole, and Engine that moves most men in the world; and that, if the Magistrates were for an Intendance, which the Presbyterians would take away [Page 37] from them; these were no less in love with, and eager of it.

2. THAT it is very probable, that the Advocates of the Congregational way were sincere, whilest their number had a just proportion of Ministers, Magistrates, and People that were much for it.

I proved in the sixt Chapter of my Jugulum causae, that of these two truths, the first was put beyond all peradventure, that To­tus Mundus exercet histrionem, that the greatest men do oft times mix some grain of wordly interest with that of Heaven, adding not the Ʋtile to the honestum, but the honestum to the Ʋtile; e­spousing, or quitting their Opinion according as they are actuat­ed by the moving principle of sua cuique Ʋtilitas, as Tacitus speaks. For they resemble Pope Pius II d. who, being a Cardinal submit­ed the Pope to the Council, but he changed his Opinion, as soon as ever he came to be Pope himself. Much about twenty years since, the Learned Dr. Stillingfleet preferred the Presbyterian Government to the Episcopal; but now he has had several fat benefices bestowed upon him, and he is advanced to the Deanry of S. Paul, Episcopacy is most excellent, both in his esteem and opinion, and in his writings.

THIS way is so much the more excellent, just, and reaso­nable, as it hath a Compatibility with the Government of a National Church, which makes but one entire body with that of the Republick, as under the legal Oeconomy; whereas the Govern­ment of a National Church, distinct and Independant upon that of the Republick, is not compatible with any government, nei­ther with that of the Magistrate, nor with that of the Congre­gational Churches; though the government of this latter might be compatible with all kinds of Government, if it would be suf­fered; for a multitude of small Congregational Churches is as much compatible with the Civil State, as is a multitude of Families; because neither the one nor the other do form to themselves a bo­dy by their deputies which establishes a Tribunal distinct from, and independant on that of the Civil State; whereas the Popish, Epis­copal, and Presbyterian Government, erects a Tribunal in every Territory independant on all others. Calvin gave the first Model of it in Geneva; Volui, sayes he, ut Judicium Ecclesiasticum disti­cium esset à Civili: and he makes these two Tribunals so indepen­dant, one on the other, as hotly to maintain, that he would ra­ther suffer death or banishment, than permit the appeals of Consistori­al Sentences to the Magistrate.

[Page 38] TO be short, the Congregational way hath this advantage o­ver all the other establishments of Religion, both the National, Popish, Episcopal and Presbyterian Church: these cannot subsist but with a subordination of Consistories, Colloquies, Provincial and Na­tional Synods; things which are not practicable, but under Se­cular Powers, either which may approve them, or else may to­lerate them; whereas the Congregational way subsists not only under good Emperours, as were Constantine the Great, and Theodosius the first, but also under the Pagan Dioclesians, and under an Arrian Constantius: for what persecution soever may be raised against this way, nothing hinders, but that a Minister who watches over a small flock, may go to visit the Members from house to house, to administer spiritual pasture, and food to them, for their nourishment and growth in grace. To conclude, the ex­cellence of this way appears in this, that it is far less exposed to persecution than any other, and that the Presbyterian, and the Episcopal, do fall into it when the Magistrate is contrary to them.

CHAP. IX. That the most Judicious Divines of France and other places, without any thoughts of it, do naturally fall into the Hy­potheses of the Congregational Churches. Of the Judgment which ought to be made of their Confession of Faith, of their discipline, and conduct.

I Could also streng hen all that I have said by the testimony of our new Doctors, by that of Mounsieur Rivet, Mounsieur Mestr [...]zat, Monsieur Pajon, Monsieur Claude, and others, showing that they un­designedly fall into the Opinion and Judgment of the Indepen­dants in laying down.

1. THAT there is no other visible Church▪ of Divine right, than that which is assembled together in one place, to at­tend upon the preaching, and hearing of the word, upon pray­er, and the participation of the Sacraments: and it is in this man­ner [Page 39] that the Confession of the Church of England, Article XIX, de­fines the Church.

2. THAT such a Church is Independant either on other Churches, or on Synods; that it may very well take from one or other, advice and Counsel, but it ought not to submit to their Commands.

3. THAT no person can be forced to be a Christian, nor to joyn with one Church, rather than with another.

4. THAT this Church hath liberty to do its own business its self; or to connect into one body, in the same manner as the Churches of France have done; that it hath the liberty to retire from that connection, or confederacy, as the Churches of Metz and Sedan have done.

5. THAT this Church to which the Christian is joyned, is obliged to seek, and to preserve a strict communion of Faith and Charity with the other Churches, but yet hath a liberty of hav­ing a separate discipline.

6. THAT this church ought to receive the fraternal admoni­tions of the other Churches, and of their Synods, in the same man­ner as a Synod of Africk acted upon the dissention which hapned between Innocent the first, Bishop of Rome, and the Church of Alex­andria, as Barlaam recites it.

I could also find these maxims in the Writings of the English Divines, and show that in treating of the nature of the Church, or of any other matter of divinity, they have kept the language of the Independants, or at least have approved of their practices. The Learned Jackson, Chap. 14. of the Church, sayes, that for these two causes one may lawfully frame Congregations distinct from others, to have a separate Communion.

1. WHEN they impose such practises as are contrary to Faith and Charity.

2. WHEN they forbid wayes that are apparently most edify­ing, and tend more to the increase and strength of Piety and Salva­tion, than those which are now in use.

Dr. Stillingfleet assures us in pag. 109. of his Ireni [...]u [...]n, that when in one and the same Territory, Judgments and Churches are diffe­rent the one from the other, a Christian ought to joyn to that which retains most of the Evangelical purity. He is bound to ad­here to that Church that retaineth most of the Evangelical purity. And [Page 40] in pag. 116. he sayes that a Christian is obliged to separate from Churches, although Orthodox in the essential matters, in case they retain some mixture of corruption in the practise. His Words are, a mixture of corruption as to the practise. I could find the opinion of this Learned Doctour in several places up and down Monsieur Claude his Book, where having laid down to us for a principle, that the power of the Keyes, and that of bind­ing and loosing, only is reposed in the faithful people of God, he draws this Conclusion from it, that private Churches ought to get to themselves such Members as they know to be more par­ticularly the faithful, and to remove from it the worldly persons to whom God hath not affixed that power of binding and loos­ing, nor committed the management of the Keys of the King­dome of Heaven.

I could ascend as far as Luther and Melancton to justifie the separation, even from Churches that have not any errour in their Doctrine. Luther, in cap. 4. Geneseos. Etiamsi praeterea nihil pec­catum esset in Doctrina Pontificia, justas tamen fuisse causas cur ab Ec­clesiá Romanâ nos sejungeremus.

BUT the Independants have reasonably outvied Luther, and the o­ther Doctors, for they hold though the Church of Rome should not have any defects either in Doctrine or Discipline, yet they were not to be condemned for separating from Rome, and for being indepen­dent on the Romish Church and her Synods, more then to find fault with the Church of Sedan, which is separate from that of Metz, in regard of any dependance one upon the others, or upon the Synods that were common with them. In a word, it is a thing as natural, and as reasonable, for a Church to divide it self into two other Churches, which may each do their own bu­siness, separately, as for one family to be divided into two others, whereof each hath the liberty to govern themselves according to their own way and fancy.

THUS you have in all this discourse, if I am not much mi­staken, the Justification of the carriage and government of the Congregational way, and very clear and full proofs of their con­formity with the Ancient Christians: As also their Confession does evidence that which they have with the Apostolical, in a more plain, free, expressive, and incontestable manner than any of the confessions that are collected in the Corpus, or Syntagma Confessia­num, [Page 41] so far are they from being the work of persons distract­ed, and Enthusiasts, as some of our Divines have fancied, that you might altogether, with as much reason, put among the pro­ductions of Fools and mad men, the three most excellent and con­summated pieces according to the Judgment that Alexander More has made of them, the Epistle of Calvin before his Institutions, that of Thuanus before his History, and the Preface of Casaubon in his Edition of Polybius.

'TWILL, no doubt, be expected that I should add the or­der which is observed and practised in the Independant Churches to their confession which ought to follow: but as they profess a perfect harmony among themselves: so likewise they do not believe this same absolute necessity, as to that which concerns disci­pline: for excepting some few Apostolical, and perpetual Rules which admit no change according to times and places, con­cerning the equality of Pastors▪ that choice that every Church is to make of its Pastor (in which Monsieur Mestrezat and Mon­sieur Claude make the true ordination to consist) the solemn be­nediction of that Pastor by fasting and prayers, and the refusal they make of their Ministries and of their Members, which some call Excommunication, and deposition; excepting, I say, these acts, their order is to do all things decently, and in order, in the Church, as Saint Paul requires. But they are governed as all o­ther Societies; and as they explain themselves in the first Chap­ter of their confession of faith, Article VII. in these words. There are some circumstances in the Government of the Church, and in divine Worship▪ which are common with all the actions of men, which are practised in all societies, and which might [...]o be regulated by na­tural light, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the word of God, which are always to be observed.

THIS is all the discipline which the Independ [...]nts practise▪ then Government is that of well order d R [...]publicks, that can­not possibly be too exact for the regulating of manners; but which have but very few Lawes for that of Polity: they are far from that Maxim▪ in p [...]ssima republicà pluri ne leges.

BUT how [...]ise soever their carriage and government be, how sound and Orthodox their Doctrine, and how exact and scru­pulous their [...]ives; yet they cannot escape the tyr [...]ny of those little sincere judgements, which the most learned and grave per­sons [Page 42] have made of them: so that it need be no surprize at all, if the Doctors of Rome, how illuminated soever and sincere they have seem'd to be, have had for so many Ages, and have still to this day so great an Aversion for our Religion, how holy so­ever it is, and have passed judgments so little favourable of it, as to draw, from our Morals, consequences, that are as far from purity and truth, as they are from our intention; This, I say, need be no surprize at all to us, since that Amyrauld, Daillé, and so many others of their gown have not passed any less sinister judgment of a generation of men as holy as any in the World, I mean, of the Independants, no more than of their carriage, govern­ment and Doctrine.

AS to their carriage and Government, whether in private, or in the Church, I do not believe there are any better re­gulated, more Wise, more Prudent, more Illuminated, nor more Religious. As to their Doctrine, their Confession of Faith shall Witness what it is, since that of all those that have ap­peared in the World of that Nature, it is a peice the most Per­fect Pure, and Orthodox: And in which it may well nigh be said the Christian Religion may be found compleat, though there should onely be remaining that single piece in all the Booksellers Shops in the World.

CHAP. X. Of the Wise and Prudent carriage of the Independants, and of their way to get further off the Church of Rome than any other, and to condemn all the wayes of Recon­ciliation with it, and the Churches that hold any Commu­nion with Rome, that the indeavour to come near it is damnable and pernicious, as is sufficiently seen in the pre­sent posture of the affairs of England.

THOSE, who shall approve of the wise conduct of the Congregational Churches, in the composing of a Confes­sion that hath so much conformity with the purest Churches of Jesus Christ, will be easily perswaded that neither Wisdome, nor Prudence have been wanting to them, when with that conformity of Faith, that there is between them and the Churches that are at great­est distance from Popery, they have preserved to themselves their liberty, as to matter of discipline, to do their business a part in­dependantly one on the other, and on all other Authority be­side that of Jesus Christ, without making use of that way of Reconciliation which hath been practised in all Ages by the means of conferences and Synods, which have rather sharp'ned and exasperated spirits, and perpetuated quarrels, than any ways ap­peased and hushed them; and whereof all the advantage that can be hoped, is at most to make such an accord, as it may be, dis­sembles, or disguises, or else suppresses the truth.

THIS is no more than what appeared in the Colloquy of Poissy, where the greatest defenders of Transubstantiation, and those who combated and opposed it as a vile Monster of Rome, concurred to­gether upon the Article of the real presence in the Eucharist. And this is what appear'd also in the Overture of Reconciliation which was made in the year 1578. in the Synod of Saincte Foy with the Lutherans by the means of a formulary or president of such a pro­fession [Page 44] of Faith as should be general and common with all Churches as they proposed to draw up: but that Overture could only tend to a Reconciliation as difficult as that of finding a Medium be­tween Transubstantiation, and the Opinion of our Churches which is contrary to it. Certainly our Churches were never able to draw back from the purity of our Doctrine, nor from the sin­cerity with which they express it without being at the same time guilty of great prevarication: And moreover, the Lutherans would never have yielded to go off from their ingagement to Lu­ther, and his Consubstantiation. If both had complied, and met at half way, it would have been a most wretched peace, quae, as Saint Austin speaks▪ fit dispenaio veritatis.

THE present posture of the Affairs of England is a very clear and convincing proof, that the Indeavour of those Reconcilers, how good soever their designs were, is ruinous both to Church and State. There has been an attempt for above this last Age to get into a Neighbourhood, and Vicinity with Rome, thinking to sweeten the spirits and tempers of those of its communion, to draw them over to ours, or at at least to make but one Com­munion of two. In the beginning of the Reformation there were several of the Ceremonies retained, and fifty years afterwards o­thers of them were introduced, they have attempted to bring in Images, and so to pass from thence to worshipping of them. Every where the Altars are new set up on purpose, no doubt, to make there the Sacrifice of the Mass to Smoak; which is ap­parent by the bowings and cringings to those Altars, or at least to the places where they are set, (or as some will have it be) to the East. The Ordination of Romish Pastors is held for good, and for that of the true Church of Jesus Christ; and on the o­ther hand, that of the other Reformed Churches, because they were not Episcopal is rendred void and null, and because they had not the [...]ark of the beast upon their fore-head, whereat Monsieur Claude is extreamly offended: Nay, they have gone to that ex­tremity, that one Henry Dodwell hath newly published a large Book, where he labours to prove, and establish this maxim, that there where there is no Episcopal Ordination, there is no true Church, no Minister of Jesus Christ, no Sacrament, and no Salvati­on. They have lest out those expressions that are a shock and of­fence to Rome, that the Pope is the Antichrist, the man of sin, and [Page 45] the Son of Perdition, the Doctors of the Church of England, as Thorndike, Tailor, Bramhal, Patrick, Sherelock, &c. have sweetned the Doctrines of Rome, to make them rellish and go down the bet­ter with the Protestants. In a word, to compleat the design they had to testifie their kindness for Rome, they have persecuted them most who are got at greatest distance from it. They have made the Image of their persons, and of their devotion to tread the Stage, to render them both odious, and ridiculous. They have loaden them with calumnies, in the same manner as the Pagans of old cloathed the Christians with Bears skins and Lyons skins to stir up the rage of Mastiff Dogs against them; they have treated them with the Appellations of Schismaticks and Rebels, who have been concerned deep in the late Conspiracy, a thing that gives one a horrour to think of: And the mildness and most gen­tle treatment is that of Fanaticks, Enthusiasts, and Medlars that perpetuate the division between the English, and the Romish Church, and hinderers of their coming together. To conclude, as Tacitus sayes, proximorum odia sunt acerrima, their aversion and hatred are so great against the Presbyterian, Puritan, and Independant party, that these words are very frequently in their mouths, and it is their discourse both as they walke along the Streets, and set at their Tables, that they would rather be Papists than Pres­byterians. 'Tis then a thing much to be wondred at, that whilest the Prelatical party have so much love and kindnsss for Rome, and so much aversion for Calvin▪ and our Churches in France, as to rase them out of the number of the Churches of Jesus Christ, to reject the ordi­nation of their Pastors as Null, and to tear in pieces with calumnies the puritanical party only for this reason, because it hath a venerati­on for our Churches, and for the Memory of Calvin; 'tis, I say, a very suprising thing, and much to be wondred at, that our Pa­stors in France. (at least the greatest part) should make their Court to that Episcopal party, and call those faithful people in England, Enthusiasts, Fanaticks, and Hypocrites, who se­parate from the Doctrines, Customes, Practises, and Lives of those that Persecute them. But yet a People, who, by the Purity of their Doctrine, the holyness of their Lives, and their Conformity with Calvin, and his Disciples, keep off, and retard the Introduction of Paganisme in England, and the Judgements [Page 46] of God upon the Nation. Certainly it, is a very surprising thing, that the Fat of the Prelates Kitching, and the lustre of their Hie­rarchy should so dazle the eyes of our great men in France, as to postpone in their esteem, the best, the most holy, and the most nu­merous Party of the People of England, to that which glitters and dazles most, and which now have the uppermost seats in the Sy­nagogues.

BUT that Church which will have all or nothing, shews more heat and vehemency against these Reconcilers, than against those that protest against all Reconciliation with Rome: which imitates the Lyon in the Apologue that devoured the Asse for desiring to share with him.

THE Church of Rome, which is said to be Infallible, is an im­moveable Rock; the Reformed, at least the English Church, is a floating Boat upon the Water which is fastened to that Rock by a Rope; now he that thinks to draw it to him, will be much deceiv­ed, for he will but pullhimself nearer to the Rock. 'Tis true, that neither the whole body of the Clergy of England, which set at the helm of Affairs, nor any of them has been concerned in the late at­tempt upon the life of our most gracious King, but it is true also, that the Papists had never been brought or tempted to think of such a thing, if they had not been strongly perswaded, that the life of the King was the only Impediment, why those, who had already come over three parts of four of the way to Rome, had not finish­ed the rest of their Journey to them.

CHAP. XI. A continuance of the same matter concerning the wise car­riage of those Churches that are for their way Congregati­onal, when they condemn all manner of speaking like to Rome, and all practises, that do any whit savour of theirs: and the six Maxims on which the Pope and his Church are founded: a Confirmation of that by a History taken out of the Life of Joseph Hall.

TIS then with good reason that the Independants con­demn all the Overtures of Peace and Reconciliation, and believe that they have been attempted in vain from time to time between the Catholicks, and the Arrians; the Greeks, and the Latins; the Protestants and the Papists; the Lutherans, and the Calvinists, the Episcopal, and the Presbyte­rians; and these from the Congregational men: they condemn, I say, all these Overtures of Peace and Reconciliation, unless the two parties that are both under Error, and that are both at an equal distance from the truth, be reduced to a Medium that may bring them to some Establishment: without this, they are very much perswaded that to compose all the differences which are in matters of Religion, there is no other method than theirs, which is that every Christian makes himself of that Assembly which is according to his Opinion; and that the Church of which he is a Member do not persecute those who are otherwise per­swaded.

THEY are not then led by any extravagancy of Reason, when they put among the Ideas of Plato these six maxims, with which the World is so strongly possest.

1. THAT a Civil State ought to tolerate but one Reli­gion.

2. THAT all the Churches collected in that State ought to associate and joyn themselves into one body, which may be of the same extent as the Civil State.

[Page 48] 3. THAT that body Ecclesiastical is distinct in Jurisdiction, and Independant on that of the Republick, and that there ought to be no appeal from Consistories, and Synods to the Magi­strate.

4. THAT this Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction is exercised by vertue of a divine right positive and perpetual, and by the power of the Keys, and of that of binding and loosing given by Jesus Christ, ei­ther to the Church▪ or to its Pastors.

5. THAT the Churches ought to be all united by the same bond of Faith and Discipline under the same Ecclesiastical Govern­nours, and to be obedient to their Laws, their Commands and their Censures,

6. THAT to compass this Union, every party of different perswasion and Judgement in matters of Faith and Discipline ought to abate something of their rigour, and their right, and come one part of the way to a Reconciliation: that is to say, that every party ought to recover an insidious peace, to abandon the truth he believes he has on his side, or to enervate the force of it.

THESE maxims, which are those of Rome, have been and will be the cause why there will never be in the World, neither Church, nor Reformation without some mixture of corruption. The Feli­city of being freed from these, is only to be found in the Indepen­dant Church.

ABOVE all, they find the 5th. maxim to be unreasonable, wicked, and tyrannical [...] principally when they press to an Unifor­mity of Discipline all the Inhabitants of a Territory or Kingdom, under one and the same Soveraign, about which both the grea­test number of people, and the most illuminated are divided, and do not find one clear, constant, and perpetual truth, in the Sa­cred Scriptures to press the Uniformity of it, nor the necessity of that way that they find as to what concerns Faith. Theodosius the II. had his reason better grounded, when he commanded all his Subjects to believe according to the Faith of Damasus of Rome, and Peter of Alexandria, then if he had commanded them an Uniformity in Discipline, which he did not do, and which he could not execute: For he could not be ignorant that as there was but one Faith, to which every faithful soul ought to adhere▪ and to be verily perswaded that his was the true, it was not without reason that he rather commanded the belief of that Faith, than the practise [Page 49] of a discipline, since that the one was expresly laid down in the holy Scripture, and the other was not.

'TIS after this manner the Independant Churches argue. They believe, with Theodosius, that the Subjects of an Empire are obliged to embrace the same Faith, supposing it be that of Jesus Christ, but they are not obliged to practise one certain discipline, which is not found in the holy Scripture.

THE first maxim was that of Dioclesian, who alone did shed more Christian bloud than his Predecessors all together had done. It cannot be practised without Fire and Sword, and it is as full of Impiety and of Paganism as Excommunication. Titus Livius lib. 39. tit. 9 puts among the Roman Laws, Ne qui Romani Dei, neque alio more quam patrio colerentur: & ne quis in publico sacrove loco novo aut externo ritu sacrificaret. The Scythians caused Anacharsis to be put to death for having a Worship a part, which he had learnt in Greece. And Mecaenas exhorted Augustus to punish those who would not con­form themselves to the Religion of the Countrey. Dio. lib. 52 [...].

BUT yet this maxim was not so much practised when the Go­vernment was more popular, and when Altars were erected to strange Gods, and to some unknown: for, after they had subdued Nations, they also brought their Gods in triumph.

I met with the Defeat and overthrow of the fifth maxim, in a discourse at the beginning of a Treatise of that excellent Knight, to whom I Dedicated my Fasciculus, as an Answer to some que­stions that were put to him, by thoughts much agreeing with mine, before ever we had any communication of them together▪ which he also confirms by those of a Learned Divine, whose name is Chillingworth, and whose Authority is so much the more conside­rable, and weighty, as being a Church of England man. There are, say they, but two wayes to make all Christians to enter into one and the same communion; either in taking away the diversity of Opinions that divide them, which is impossible without a Mi­racle and unless God had established and set up a visible Judge to whom their differences should be referred; or else being all perswaded that this diversity of Opinions ought not to hinder their communion, and their Union, in things wherein they do agree, and where charity, complaisance and condescention ought to have place, without any ones being deprived of their Opi­nion, [Page 50] or that one should persecute the other that differs from his.

DOCTOR Jeremy Tailor, who was a strong man for the English Hierarchy, by reason whereof he was made a Bishop in Ire­land, and who was extroardinarily illuminated and Learned, a­greed in the same Sentiment with Dr. Chillingworth, and hath pub­lished a great Book, whose Title is, the Liberty of Prophecying a­gainst the wicked and unreasonable carriage of those who rigo­rously impose set Forms of Faith to others, and who Persecute and ill-use those who are not of their Opinion in matters of Religion.

ALSO the Independants have indeavoured not so much to establish the goodness of the Congregational way in sound clear minds, because they are soon convinced of it by the description they make of it, as to disabuse them of those maxims which are but so many illusions, though most commonly it is easier to refute Er­rours, than to establish Truth; as Cicero very well says. Ʋtinam tàm facile possem vera probare, quàm falsa convincere.

NOW the tyranny of these maxims, which are as much that of the Protestants as of the Papists, is the cause why the transition of the Romish Religion to the reformed is but imperfectly done in France, Germany, England, and elsewhere, how little complaisance soever we have had for Rome, and for an affinity with her, it has cost us very dear: we have thought we ought not to go from one ex­tremity to another at one leap. As we fell from the Impa­nation to Transubstantiation so likewise have we gone from Transubstantiation, to Consubstantiation its Neighbour; then we have retained the real presence in the Sacramental Sup­per, which has some agreement, and is conciliable with those three illusions of words. 'Tis said indeed, that this presence was spiritual, but at the same time it was clothed with the flesh, when they kept at the beginning of the reformation such wayes of expressing themselves which have been a great Shock to Bulling­er▪ and many other great men of his time: That we were nou­rished in this Sacrament with the substance of the flesh, and with the blood of Jesus Christ. Which has given occasion to the Bishop of Candom, to Mounsieur Arnauld, and to Father Maimbourge to put this Interrogatory to us, if you speak as we do, why do you not believe as we do? Especially the Bishop of Condom has made use of it, and they have given him reason to triumph over us as much [Page 51] in that, as he hath done as to the eminent Authority that is established in our Churches with as much incontestability as if it were Infallible. The Missionary Pean sayes, that it is a Gal­limauphrey of the Protestants to speak of being nourished with the substance of Jesus Christ, and with his flesh, and not to be­lieve Transubstantiation. A Learned English Dr. named John Hales hath written a Learned Treatise upon this Subject, where he condemns this way of Reconciliation that sayes one thing, and believes another, and that turns again to Rome, and he ex­horts his Brethren to condemn rather the use of it than to justifie it. He sayes also that Martyn Bucer was the first of the Reformed that made use of this way of speaking.

IT must be confessed, that as the weakness of those great lights of Reformation Bucer, Calvin, and Reza, was very great, when they explained those Scriptures concerning the Lords Supper, by a Comment that was more obscure than the Text, nor hath it been less great in those that have come after them, when they have explained the words of Jesus Christ in S. John VI. concern­ing the fleshly eating, to the Sacramental and Spiritual eating, and when they have made long comments upon the words of Calvin to sweeten and smooth the harshness of them, instead of condemning them: this obstinacy in adhering to errors, hath brought in the pre­tended infallibility into the Church of Rome, and the Incontestability into the Reformed Churches. Inter caetera mortalitatis incommoda hoe est, errandi necessitas, & erroris amor, Seneca.

NOW these ways of speaking which simbolize with those of Rome, and which give it occasion to insult, and triumph over us, makes me remember what I have read in the Memoirs and spe­cialties that Joseph Hall hath made of his Life, and absolutely convinces me of this truth, that it has been so unlikely that they, who have believed they might gain upon Rome, by retaining some of their ways and modes of speaking, or their practises, should have succeeded therein, that on the contrary She has been so much the more set and hardened against us, and have gone so far in it, as to make us, and their Religion far more reasonable than ours. He sayes, that in his journey to the Spadan Waters for his health, he had before a great company of persons of quality, both Papists and Protestants, a very hot dispute with a Sorbonist, a Prior of the Carmelites, who maintained that the Kneeling [Page 52] practised in the Church of England, at the receiving of the Eu­charist, strongly shewed that she believed Transubstantion; for that kneeling and the belief of Transubstantiation were things inseparable, and always went hand in hand together; and since the one had never been believed in the Church without the pra­ctise of the other; and since it was a distraction of reason, and a wicked practise to carry their adorations to Elements that were only Bread and Wine, this kneeling of necessity must be a natural consequence of the belief of Transubstantiation: Bishop Hall adds, that as the company was divided in their judgments and that several of them joyned with those of Rome, in con­demning this kneeling, unless it was a consequence of Transub­stantiation, more than two thirds of the company were so heated against the poor Bishop, that he had not the liberty to speak, nor to stand up in defence of the Church's Opinion: For if they had given him time to speak, he had alleadged the Rubrick of the Church of England, which undeceives the Communicants from the thoughts that they might possibly have that that Kneeling or Ado­ration is carried out to the Bread and the Wine: But beside, that there is not of a hundred Communicants one who reads the Rubrick, it might have happened that those who were so violent against Bishop Hall, would have pleasantly stopt his mouth with the Apologue which Beza writ in a Letter to the good Arch-Bishop Edmund Grindal, who seeing that he was offended at this kneel­ing, after Transubstantiation was banished, endeavoured to cure him of the scandal he had taken, making him to know that the Rub­rick of the Church of England, would give him enough wherewith to be satisfied: Upon which Beza returned him this story. A Lord having built his house near to the high way, where he left a great stone that he had no occasion for just in the road, several per­sons coming by in the night stumbled at it, and did hurt them­selves, and often complaints being made to him about it, and in­treaties that he would take it out of the way, he was very ob­stinate a long while, and was resolved not to meddle with it; but being wearied by the continual solicitations that were made to him, he bethought himself to set over the stone a Lanthorn with a light Candle in it, to warn people of it; but that Admoni­tion proving troublesome too, one of his friends came and gave him this good Counsel; Sir, if you would be at quiet, take a­way [Page 53] both stone and Lanthorn together. The stone of stumbling is this kneeling at the Sacrament, and the Rubrick is for a light and Declaration, to signifie to the Communicants, that this kneel­ing is not done to the bread and wine, but to Jesus Christ. If you take away both, you will take away the scandal, and the remedy to the scandall: You will bring back the way with which Jesus Christ instituted the holy Supper, who gave it not kneeling, but in the posture of those who take their ordinary repasts at their Ta­bles, so that Jesus Christ never required any Genuflexion either at the time or place.

THESE two stories hit (as we generally say) two birds with one stone. For they may relate to that neerness of assinity with Rome, which I have already spoken of above, and which I have showed has rather sharpened and embittered the Spirits and tem­pers of those of that communion, to plot against the sacred per­son of the KING, and against his Government, than it has any wayes sweetned them: and moreover, they discover that those who go furthest off from the Doctrines and practises of Rome, who renounce all reconciliation with Her, as the people of the Con­gregational way do, have most conformity with the blessed peace-Makers of whom Jesus Christ speakes, and whereof the Char­acter of the Children of God which he gives them upon this respect, carryes them so much the farther from all thoughts of Rebellion.

CHAP. XII. An Apology for the Author of the Conformity of the congre­gational Churches with that of the Antient Primitive Christians: That a disinteressed person, such as he, is the most sit to write about these matters. Of the Obliga­tion he hath to the Bishop of Condom for the light he hath given him.

I Think my self here obliged to add an Apology as to my own account, for what I have said as to the Independant Churches. I do imagine I shall be accused at first for having made the descrip­tion [Page 54] of the congregational way, not according as it is in effect, but in that manner as Xenophon did the Cyropaedia to be the perfect model of a Prince. They will say that any other interest than that of the inward knowledge I have of the goodness, truth and holiness of the Congregational way, ought to have excited me to commend it so as I have done. That I commend what I do not approve in the bottome of my heart, since I do not joyn my self to it. They will say likewise that I have had no other design than to gain my own Sentiments credit, with which they say I am most fondly in Love, in adjusting them to those of the Indepen­dants; and because I condemn Ecclesiastical power, and Excom­munication, which I have undertook to possess the World with the belief of, that so they should banish the use of it. To which, I an­swer, that though I should joyn my self to their Assemblies, it would be no argument that I should approve of all the things they did, and all they believed, as they cannot conclude by my not joyning to their Congregations, that I have not the Congregatio­nal way in greater and higher esteem than any other. As I am a Frenchman, and by the grace of God of the reformed Church, I joyn to the Church of my own Nation, to which I am so much the more strongly invited by the holiness of the Doctrines, and lives of our excellent Pastors, Monsieur Mussard, and Monsieur Primerose; and because they administer the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper in the same manner as Jesus Christ did it with his Disciples; not having any thing to give me offence in their conduct, unless that they are not absolutely undeceived of the practise of our Pastors in France, of excommunicating in the Name and Authority of Jesus Christ, and of interposing the same sacred Name, and the same sacred Authority to excommunicate as St. Paul made use of to de­liver the Incestuous person over to Satan; though they cannot find this Authority of excommunicating in all the Bible, nor justifie it, unless they elude that harshness of expression by this way of sweetning, that their only intention is to declare that those sin­ners of whom they make the number, take the Lord's Sup­per to their Condemnation, if they do not repent before­hand.

AS for other accusations, although I believe that of all Establish­ments of Religion, that of the Independant Churches is the most Apo­stolical, yet I do not believe it is infallible, and I cannot approve of [Page 55] all they say, nor all they practise concerning discipline nor concerning the use of the Ecclesiastical power, and excommunication; though this usage be not in all the same, nor in all the Churches; because some among them do retain it jure societatis, & vi, & virtute paoti & federis eniti. However it is, both of them make use of Ecclesi­astical power and excommunication very innocently, for they do not set up a National Tribunal, Independant on the Magistrate, and they Attribute to their Synods no other Authority, than that of perswasion, both from wise and experienced persons. More­over, from the manner that they express themselves in the VII. Arti­cle of the first Chapter of their Confession of Faith, one may con­clude, that beside the Jurisdiction which works upon hearts by the word, they acknowledge no other than that which is taken by a na­tural right, and that wisdom and prudence has not been wanting to them, by their having in a joynt consent agreed in one and the same Doctrine, because it is of divine and perpetual right, but in not having established any thing determinatively to be a perpetual rule upon an Arbitrary and changeable matter, and of humane right, as is the discipline of the Churches, and the Authority of the Pastors in their conduct and government.

BUT although they should have retained some usage of the Ec­clesiastical power and excommunication, which are so many Re­liques of Rome that have accomplished the Mystery of iniquity, and brought the Pope into the world, they would be no less priviledged than St. Paul, and the other Apostles, who, after they had received the holy Ghost in greater measure than all the holy men that had been before them, yet they alwayes retained some leven of affecti­on to the Mosaical Ceremonies. If the Christians that came from Paganisme, have alwayes kept some pollution of it, it ought not to be any great surprise to see the purest Churches in the World, yet not throughly cleansed from all the Impurities of Rome.

FOR these considerations, I feed my self with the hopes that the Ministers of the Independant Churches, who are too much illuminated long to remain in the belief and use of this illu­sion of Ecclesiastical power, which hath brought Episcopacy, that is the first step of Ascention to the papacy, and after that Ex­communication and Infallibility; and that they would put in practise instead of excommunication, that denuntiation which [Page 54] S. Paul recommended to his Disciple and son Timothy, it is that in case any disorderly, or wicked person of the Congregation, cannot be perswaded to change his opinion, and life, and volun­tarily to leave the Communion of the Church, it should be pub­lished aloud in the face of the Church, and the faithful should be exhorted to shun his company: and in case that he persevere in such refractoriness, he ought to be expelled by force, as well from the Table of the Lord, as from the Church. And this is what may be practised by a natural right, & de jure societatis without any need of making such expulsion of credit by the Keys of the Kingdome of Heaven, and by the power of binding and loosing. In short, I hope they will be perswaded by this consideration that the benefit which comes by the Ecclesiastical power and Excom­munication will never recompence the pernitious effects that they have produced.

NOW I believe that these three considerations, that I am a Physician, that I am a Frenchman, and that I do not joyn to any one certain Congregational Assembly as a Member of it, will give more Authority and credit to the relation I have made of their govern­ment and conduct, and make it less the suspected, than if I were of their Number, of their Nation, and a Divine by Profession: For if I were qualified in three wayes, I could not speak as a per­son disinteressed, but as having a personal inclination to the way I should have espoused: And that is the weakness of all those who plead for their own cause, as we learn from S. Austin, and Optatus Milevitanus, who were of this opinion, that a sincere Pa­gan or Heathen, whether a Physitian, a Sophister, a Philosopher, or belonging to the Magistracy, were more competent Judges in matters of Divinity, and differences among Christians, than persons of the Priesthood, and Sacerdotal function.

AS S. Paul could not elect a more disinteressed person to gain the Christian Religion credit, in the minds of men, and to write his Gospel, as he calls it, and the Acts of the Apostles, than S. Luke the Physitian, to whom the world is more oblig­ed than to a thousand S. Chrysostomes, and S. Austins, and to all the persons of the Sacred Order, without so much as except­ing the very Apostles themselves: I believe that the same Judg­ment ought to be made of me, and that my quality of a Phy­sitian ought to give stronger impressions of the goodness of the [Page 57] Congregational way in the minds of men, than would that of a Divine, of a Minister of the Gospel, or any other person ingag­ed by profession either to the Episcopal, Presbyterian, or even to the Congregational way. As Reason and Grace in the hopes of glory are the three Ressorts or principles which have alwayes moved and governed me in all the course of my life, and in all my Writings: so have they been always less violent by the preju­dices and interests in the profession I make of a Physician, than if I had been either a Divine, or a Lawyer.

I ought here also to acknowledg my Obligation to the Bishop of Condom; not only for the first hints of this truth; that the Congregational way is of all the Establishments of Discipline and Government the most conformable to reason, to the holy Scripture, and to the practise of the Apostles, and the Primitive Christians: but for having absolutely confirmed me in this truth: though the design of that Bishop has not been to put the Congregational way above the Romish; but only to discover, (and this he hath done by Arguments that come very near to demonstration) that going up­on the hypothesis of the necessity of seting up a Tribunal in the Church, and of the submission of the people to that Tri­bunal, as being the only Rampi [...]r of the Orthodox Faith, and the only means of Uniting Christians, preserving peace and good order among them; it is incomparably more reasonable that such submission should be made to an infallible Tribunal, than to One that is subject to Error; and that upon this ground, of all the Ec­clesiastical ways in the World which acknowledg that every Ecclesi­astical Tribunal, either supreme, or subordinate, that every Councel, either Oecumenical, or Topical, is fallible and subject to errour, the Congregational way which refuses all manner of submission to a Tribunal subject to errour is the most reasonable and the most just.

CHAP. XIII. The Explication of one difficulty which runs throughout the whole precedent discourse.

AS it was in my thoughts to finish this discourse by the word Finis, a Learned Presbyterian coming in, and having appre­hended my design, put one objection to me against the defeat and overthrow I pretend to make of the necessity of a Tribunal in the Church▪ he said that since that Tribunal which requires the people to submit themselves to it is as much set up in an indepen­dant Church, as in a National, and since both presuppose that that Tribunal is subject to errour, the submission of the people is al­together as reasonable to the Tribunal of a National Church, as to that of a Congregational. I confess there is some weight in this obje­ction, which Monsieur Jurieu has not thought of, but which neverthe­less is easie to be answered according to the principles I lay down.

1. THAT all manner of Government, Presbyterian, Congre­gational, National, Episcopal, Hierarchical, Papal, is of the same na­ture with that of the Magistrate.

2. THAT the submission required, and given to all manner of Ecclesiastical Government is of the same nature with that which is required and given to a Civil and Political government, the Ressorts of which are not the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, nor the power of binding and loosing, but the will of the strongest, and most numerous that hath so ordain'd it.

3. AND consequently that the Censures of excommunication and deposition, being of the same nature with the Law of the Magistrate, the validity of which is not in the Justice, nor equity of the thing, but in the will of those that decree and ordain it, they ought to be accounted as a Civil punishment.

THESE three considerations destroy that erection of an Ec­clesiastical Tribunal, which is equal with the Civil in one and the same Territory, since both being of the same nature, it would be a pure piece of Gallimaufrey and hotchpot to offer to esta­blish [Page 59] two Civil Governments in one and the same dominion or Territory, which should be independant one on the other.

ALSO this difficulty is easie to be overcome according to the principles of the Independants. The Inconvenience of an Ex­communicated or deposed person unjustly by his Congregation is not great, so long as it does not extend beyond his Jurisdiction, and that of a hundred Congregations in one Territory, it is impossible but that at least there might be one to recompence the Justice of his cause; which is not a thing feasible, if he be struck by a National Judgement, unless he leaves his Country. And since the person oppressed is in the liberty of framing to him­self a Congregation Independant on all the Churches of the world, though it be but of seven or eight persons, his innocence and legitimate right will easily furnish him with the means to do it. I add further, that a person who is sensible he is guilty of disor­ders; can easily conceal them in the crowd of a National Church, (which he cannot so well do in a small number of persons,) and commonly prevent the Censure of his Congregation, and not expect that they should excommunicate him and drive him out of it which is done in that manner as St. Jerome, and Bishop Godeau would have the Heretick▪ of whom S. Paul speaks in the 3 of Titus 11. knowing that he that is such, (i. e. an Heretick) is subverted and sinneth, being condemned of himself:) To do, when he excommunicated himself▪ and saved his Church that trouble.

IT must not be forgot that tho there is no Government so perfect wherein one cannot find some faults, and some Incon­venience, yet it is certain there is found less in the Congregati­onal way, whereas you may find almost an infinity in that of the National, whereof a thousand persons that deserve the cen­sure of the Church, there is not one of them that undergoes its because its discipline is like to spiders Webs, where the Fly's are taken, but the Birds pass through; and where it is impossible in a Town or a Church of many thousands of Christians, that one Bishop or Pastor can possibly have an exact inspection over them: where­as in a Congregational Church composed but of a few persons, and those all cull'd out of the multitude who fun after Vanitics and Vices, one has but little or no use of excommunication and deposition, and where Avarice, Ambition, Heresies, and quarrels do not enter as in National Churches.

[Page 60] THESE considerations give me to hope that the learned and illuminated of the Congregational way will agree and joyn with my principles or Hypotheses, to establish the true nature of their Jurisdiction, and to undo with case the difficulty of the ob­jection: although according to their principles it resembles the Foils, which touch the person, but do not wound it: For in case of a wound, they have a thousand remedies to heal it pre­sently; whereas there is no remedy either against Infallibity in the Church of Rome, or against incontestability in a National Church.

CHAP. XIV. Remarks upon the Fault that some may find in the Title of this discourse.

I Will finish these conderations by the discussion and explicati­on of the Title of this discourse, to which some have ex­cepted, because they find there is not one Ecclesiastical Go­vernment, even of those which differ most from one another, that do not pretend to this Conformity, as indeed they have either more or less: for there is not one of them, no not even of those that are the farthest off from the Doctrines and Government of the Ancient Christians, and that have but very little agreement one with the o­ther, there is not one, I say, but what hath in something a confor­mity with them. Every way of Government boasts of their re­taining this conformity with the Ancient Christians: I my self pre­tend to this glory in favour of the Congregational way. Not long since a Learned Minister of Roüen published a Book intituled, the Conformity of the discipline of the Churches of France to that of the An­cient Christians: Beside, though the discipline of the Church of Eng­land hath not any agreement with that of the Churches of France; and it is impossible that two disciplines so disagreeing to each other, should have both of them much conformity to the discipline of the Ancient Christians yet it hath so happened that a Famous Di­vine [Page 61] in his preface to his English Translation of the Novelty of Po­pery, maintains very zealously the same thing in favour of the Disci­pline of the Church of England, as Monsieur Larroque has done in favour of those of France. If I were, sayes he, to speak to French­men, I would indeavour to convince them fully, that we retain in Eng­land more of the Primitive and Apostolick Government than all the o­ther Churches in the world. Dr. Floyd, and Dr. Tillotson say the same thing. But I believe that this conformity is much what like to that which is between Jesus Christ, and St. Francis. For I do openly maintain that of all the Establishments of Religion, That of the Church of England is widest from the discipline and practise of the Ancient Christians. But he is not the only person hath spoke after this manner, England is full of Books upon the subject of the Conformity of its Hierarchy, and of its Episco­pal Government to that of the Ancient Christians. The Bi­shops Bilson, Andrews, Hall, Morton, and Pearson, find it in Clemens Romanus, and in Ignatius; some of the Doctors of Rome, meet with it in Denis the Areopagite: but unless this Conformity be restrain­ed to the times of the Apostles, to which I find more foot­steps in the Congregational way, than in any other, I believe we are all in an error as to what concerns our conformity to the Doctrine, Discipline and Life of the Ancient Christians. Above all, the disagreement is found in the life, which was heretofore much more exact and exemplary, than in these last times it is; the Devotion of our days is but cold and languish­ing in comparison of theirs. It was in that, that their glory did consist, whereas ours is in having a greater knowledg, and a more full and ample illumination into the mysteries of Faith, than the first Christians had; also to be better versed at this day in the knowledg of the Apostolical conduct, of the nature and Government of the Church, of its Authority, and of that of its Pastors, who were the Christians that immediately succeeded the Apostles:

I will finish where I began; and that shall be by the force of those prejudices, wherewith all Christians, as well Protestants as Papists are anticipated and prepossest, when they generally imagine that the Primitive Church was more Orthodox, and pure in Doctrine, than that of the following Ages, because of their [Page 62] nearness with the times of the Apostles: but I am as much per­swaded of the contary, as of any thing in the world. 'Tis said that God never built a Temple, near to which the enemy of our Salvation has not built a Chappel, but than it was a Chappel both greater and more spacious than the temple it self: For dur­ing the time whilest God built a little Temple wherein he had circumscribed the twelve Apostles, and a small flock of faithful peo­ple who conformed themselves to the purity their Doctrine, and the holiness of their lives, a number incomparably greater of false Apostles, false Doctors and false Brethren, separated from them. For even in the first three hundred years of Christianity, all or the most part of sincere persons, and also of Fathers, had a great deal of false allay mixt among their gold. This is what we learn from Eutychius, who lived in the first Ages of Christianity, from whom we have the History of the Church in Arabyck published by Mr. Selden, and Mr. Pocock, and whom they recommend for an Author of an irreprochable fidelity. There he tells us, that Constantine the Great sent to all the Churches of his Empire Let­ters to let them understand that they were to make choice of the most Religious Bishops, and those that were most learned in the Mysteries of the Christian Faith; and that they then imme­diately set themselves to obey the Orders of the Emperour, and that two thousand and forty eight Bishops came to the Town of Nice, whereof near two thousand, how pious and sincere so­ever otherwise they were, were either most ignorant, or most erronious in the knowledg of the Christian Religion. For they were either Manichees, or Murcionites, or Montanists, or Valenti­nians, or Samosatenians, or Arrians; and in that great number of Bishops, there were but three hundred and eighteen who had an affection for, and ingaged themselves to, the Orthodox Faith, which was that of Alexander Bishop of Alexandria.

THIS Relation according to Eutychius is much more pro­bable than after that manner as it is reported by Eusebius, by Socrates, by Baronius, and by Monsieur Claude: For what likeli­hood is there that that number of Bishops convoked from all places of Europe a great part of Africa, and also of Asia, Phaeni­cia, Greece, Maceaonia, Thessalia, Palestine, Arabia, Pamphilia, By­thinia, Capadocia, Thrace, Cilicia, Pontus, Persia, and Scythia, [Page 63] should amount but to three hundred and eighteen Bishops? There is also less likelihood that those three hundred and eigh­teen Bishops should appear so sharp and so divided among them­selves, as to put out Libels of accusation one against another, and that during their Session, they made a cruel War within themselves. These Accusations might be true as to the other Bishops, who were as much divided in affections, as in Judgments, but not of these three hundred and eighteen, who because they were all Orthodox, and Children of peace, and well united in their affections, such as were Alexander, Spiridion, and Paphnuti­us, were chosen by Constantine, and Alexander out of the multi­tude of Hereticks, Factious, and contentious persons. Beside, the unanimity of these three hundred and eighteen Bishops in the com­posing of the Faith of the Council, having but four Bishops that refused subscribing to it, plainly shews that their spirit was not that of contention nor animosity one against another, but of peace and concord.

IF the Book of that excellent Author Eutychius the Patriarch of Alexandria had appeared with all its Truths, and had been seen by all those that had eyes and would use them, during the lives of Monsieur Salmasius, Monsieur Blundel, &c. they had been yet more strongly perswaded than they were, that all those circumstances so distant from, the relation that Eutychius makes of them, savours as much of Romance, as those three Crosses, which Helena, Mother of Constantine, found, or as the donation of that Emperour to Silvester.

CERTAINLY the providence of God did clearly appear in the choise of those three hundred and eighteen Bishops. 'Twas an Act of God, and not man, when he raised up the good Bishop of Alexandria to recommend them to Constantine, and when he inclin­ed the heart of that Prince to hearken to his Counsel. For if the Emperour had let himself been overruled at the beginning of that Counsel by any other Bishop, as he did at the end of his Life, the first Establishment of Faith and Religion, had been that of Arri­anisme; whereas the orthodox Faith taking the first possession, under the first Christian Emperour, this served most powerfully to gain it credit, and to make it pass, and transmit it to posterity.

I would ask here by the way those that deprive the Soveraign [Page 64] Magistrate of the Intendance, of regulating by a Soveraign Au­thority in all places, either of an Empire, or a Territory, the matters of Religion, and give him no other Authority than that of a private person, I would ask those, I say, what expedient a good Bishop, such as this of Alexandria could be able to find out to au­thorize the Faith that was contrary to that of Arrius, in case God had not inclined the heart of Constantine to establish it by his com­mands in all the places of his Empire?

I ought not to forget here one circumstance in our Author that extreamly fortifies the right of the Magistrate, especially if he be Orthodox, to the Soveraign Intendance in the Government of the Church, and which moreover strongly proves that the Rules, Canons, Censures, and Anathemas of Councils, are only Coun­cils, and the declarations of wise and experienced men, before the Magistrate hath given them Authority by his Sanction. In short, this passage of Eutychius is the accomplishment of the prophesie of S. Paul, 1 Cor. 6. 2. Know you not that the Saints shall judge the World? that is to say, know you not that God will one day e­stablish Faithful Magistrates, who shall be governours in chief of the Church; he says than that the choice of three hundred and eighteen Bishops being made, Constantine entred into their As­sembly, and after he had saluted and harrangued to them, he laid his Scepter upon the Table, his Ring, and his sword and said to them, I give you the power of regulating the affairs of the Church; that done, the Fathers humbly thanked him for the Authority which he was pleased to fortifie them with, and rendered him his Scepter, his Ring, and his Sword.

'TIS true, if Constantine had been an Arrian, his erronious o­pinion had done as much mischief, as the contrary opinion to that of Arrius, and wherewith he was possessed, did good by its Esta­blishment: but it is true also, that if the Soveraign of an Em­pire hath no other authority in the Church than that of a pri­vate person, it will never be possible, and it can never happen, that an Orthodox Prince will be able to establish the true Re­ligion by his Commandments in all the places of his Empire. 'Tis true, by this Soveraign Authority of the Magistrate, Errour and Impiety may as well be established by Lawes, as truth and piety: but it is true also, that when the Soveraign Magistrate, [Page 65] either hath no part, nor is interessed in the affairs of Religion, as during the three first Ages of the Church, nothing could keep the Bishops, as were those two thousand and forty eight of whom Eutychius speaks, from divinding into many erronious parties, and the Orthodox party to be always the least in number, and this cannot happen, when God gives to the Church, such Princes as resemble Constantine the Great, Theodosius, and Martian.

IT happens notwithstanding that during such disorders, and such confusions of diverse opinions, as were those of the two thousand and forty, that God reserves always a small number of good Pastors, as were those three hundred and eighteen, who form in a great Empire, such as was the Roman, several little Congregations, all like to those of our Independants, whom God makes use of, amidst the greater corruption and confusi­on, to keep and perpetuate to himself an Orthodox and faith­ful people in the world.

'TIS true then, that whither God gives a Christian Magistrate, but a Heretick; or whether he does not give any, if he be not possibly a Heathen, as during the three first Ages, the inconve­nience is great; but it is otherwise certain, that when God blesses his Church with a Magistrate that favours the Orthodox and true Worshippers of Jesus Christ, the condition of the Church of God is incomparably more happy, than under any other esta­blishment of Religion or of the State. For although persecution ought to unite Christians by a holy, and the same Faith, and by a life correspondent to it, yet it hath not that Efficacy nor that vertue to produce those two good effects which commonly fol­low under the Reign of good Princes, as David, Hezekiah, Josiah, Constantine, Theodosius, &c. under whom the people are united well otherwise, and kept in good order, and in the profes­sion of one and the same, and a good Religion, which they are not under persecution. For even the Church is not without disorders, and violent shakings under the best and most Ortho­dox Princes, which happens by their Indulgence, who keep not up that Authority they ought to take in the government of the Church, and who delegate it to the Clergy, and permit them to exercise by a pretended power derived from Jesus Christ, Independant on the Magistrate, and who, in short, raise up Bi­shops [Page 66] to such a greatness and wealth, as to have credit enough to partake and share the Soveraignty, and to dispute the moiety of it with him, who of right is the Soveraign of the whole, leaving him the temporal Soveraignty, and reserving to them­selves the spiritual as they call it.

BUT these matters I discourse of in my Book, not yet Print­ed, intituled, An Essay towards a true Ecclesiastical History. One Theophilus of Alexandria▪ and his Successor Cyrillus, were equal, and went check by jole in Authority with the Emperour, and had built an Empire in that of their Soveraign. For even those and their Successours had built several of them, when a Pope was set up among them, who subjugated them all, and made them all agree, to set up but one Catholick Church; for be­fore there were in the same Empire many Catholick Churches which mutually destroyed each other. Donatus acknowledged no other Church in the World than his own: That made Theophilus also of Alexandria do so, who persecuted St. Chrysostome to the uttermost, and who treated him as an Heretick, a Schisma­tick, and calling all those that adhered to him, Johannites. The same may be said of the concurrence of Meletius, of Flavian, and Paulinus, for the Bishoprick of Antioch, who shared the Em­pire and the Church into two Catholick Churches.

I leave sincere persons to Judge, what integrity of Faith those Prelates could preserve during not only the three first Ages, but al­so those following.

ALL the Christian Antiquity, put aside that of the Holy Scripture, cannot produce such peices that may come in compe­tition with the Institutions of Calvin, or with the confession of the Congregational Faith; the first Centuries of the Christi­an Church swarmed with Heresie and Hereticks; The most Or­thodox as Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Clement, Denis of Alexandria, Origen, Cyprian, Eusebius, Arnobius, Lactantius, &c. who opposed those heresies, were not themselves exempt, and they had all some touch or other of one of the Heresies of Mon­tanus, of S [...]b [...]llius, Samorzites, Pelagius, Apollinaris, and Eutiches. St. Austin, that Miracle of Nature and of Grace, had also his Errors. However he was the first that well established the Do­ctrine of free Grace▪ for those who preceded him, have spoke [Page 67] of it most an end, as Pelagius has done, without any ones tak­ing particular heed to it, or opposing it, because they never treat­ed of that matter throughly, and searched into the bottom of it, and have not made any express and particular book about it: this is what St. Austin says. In lib. 1. in Julianum, cap. 2. ta­li quaestione nullus Pulsabatur, pelagianis nondum ligantibus securius loqucbantur. They have all consecrated their Errors to Immorta­lity, because of their Ancientness; but as Cyprian tells us, dist. 8. c. 8. Consuetudo sine veritate est Vetust is erroris.

IT appears than by all I have here said, that if Interest, Custome, Obstinacy, the love that every one has for their own particular Opinions, govern the greatest part of Mankind in matters of Religion; we may say of prejudices, that those are they which tyrannize over them; such as in our dayes is that of every sort of the reformed, who imagine that their reformation, their Doctrine, and their Discipline, come the nearest to the Pri­mitive Church. This is what Monsieur Claude maintains most confidently of our reformation in France: But as I agree with him, that it is the purest in the World, I do not agree with him that it hath any conformity with the Ancient Primitive Church, except he means the Apostolical, and not that which was immediately after the Apostles. For even so the conformity of the Congregational way with the Christians after the Apostles is not as to the Doctrine, but only as to the outward discipline and way of Government.


THe Reader is desired to take notice, that the Author for some rea­sons, since the Printing of the Contents, hath thought good to leave out the last Chapter there mentioned.


There is lately Published of this Authors, a Book Entitul­ed Moral Reflections on the number of the Elect, &c. Price 6d.


PAge 2. line 33. Dele the father. p. 3. l. 10. read confederate discipline. p. 5. l. 18. r. there being but the first Nicene Council. p. 6. l. 8. r. hereti­cal. p. 6. l. penul. r. inconvenience. p. 16. l. 26. r. nor, l. 33. r. the Romish Church. p. 11. l. 9. r. that it is not of so long duration. p. 11. l, 16. Justice, r. Justesse. p. 11. l. 21. r. with as much rigour and severity to submit to a Tribunal subject to Errour, as those of Rome to one that is infallible. p. 12. l. 7. r. sent the Plantif. p. 12. l. 25. r. veneration. p. 12. l. 29. government r. conduct. p. 13l. 2. have r. hath.

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