A TREATISE OF Excommunication: WHEREIN 'Tis Fully, Learnedly, and Modestly demonstrated, THAT There is no Warrant, Precept, or President, either in the Old or New Testament, for Excommu­nicating any Persons, or Debarring them the Sa­craments, whilst they make an outward Pro­fession of the true Christian Faith.

Written Originally in Latine, By the famous and pious THOMAS ERASTƲS Doctor in Physick, About the Year 1568.

Brethren, ye have been called unto LIBERTY; onely use not Liberty for an occasion to the Flesh, but by LOVE SERVE one another, Gal. 5. v. 13.

LONDON:Printed forL. Curtis. 1682.

To the Pious READER, AND Such as is studious of Truth, THOMAS ERASTƲS a Physician sends greeting.

LEst any, lighting upon this Treatise, should won­der what Motives or Provocations made me bu­sie my self in this Controversie about Excom­munication, I shall as Concisely as Truly ac­quaint the World with the Rise and Occasion of it. 'Tis now much about sixteen years since some men have fallen into a kind of Excommunicating Frenzy (un­der the specious Title of Ecclesiastical Discipline, and as they contend, sacred in it self, and enjoyn'd the Church by God) and fain would they have the whole Church tainted with the like; that the manner of it (they propose) should be thus: That a select number of Elders should sit in the name of the whole Church, and judge who were fit and who unfit to be admitted to the Lords Supper. I could not but wonder to see them consulting of such matters, at such a time when we had neither fit persons to excommunicate, or to be excommunicated: for scarce a thirteenth part of the people understood and approved of the Doctrine of the Reformation which was then but blooming; the residue were our profest Enemies: so that no man, who had his [Page] wits about him, but must needs see that such a matter must unavoidably introduee dangerous Divisions among us. And therefore I thought it not then so proper an Enquiry how some might be shut out of the Church, as how more might be brought in; and that the best thing we could apply our selves to, would be the propagating saving Truths. Besides, they who were to be the Supervisors, were not so much superior to the others, in Age, Experience, Parts, Judg­ment, Virtue, or Eminency, that they could manage so weighty a matter with that Port and Dignity that was requisite. Since therefore I saw that their desires could not have the labour'd Effects, without the Churches Ruine and Subversion, I was ever and anon cautioning them, that they should weigh well what they did, and not rashly at­tempt what they might after too late repent. But though as yet I verily thought that Excommunication had been a thing commanded in the Scriptures, yet I did not find it commanded after that manner that they proposed: So that since Christ seemed to me to have left us at large for the manner of it, I set my thoughts on work what might be the best way and course under our circumstances, and would be attended with the least Distractions and Incon­veniencies; which I did with the closer application and diligence, upon some Reflections that I had, how fatal and turbulent to Christianity this had formerly proved, and was still little better, as it was managed.

Whilst I was upon these thoughts, and look'd a little back upon what the Antients had writ on this subject, I find it weaker in all points than I had before suspected; so that I could not but begin to doubt of the very thing. My next resort was to the School-men, among whom I met with as little satisfaction. Then came I to our Modern Writers, who no whit mended the matter; nay, I observ'd that they did most manifestly differ among themselves in some things, which quicken'd my diligence in the Enquiry. [Page] So I laid by these Commentators a while, and betook my my self to the Scripture; in the perusal of which, I mark'd and noted, with all the exactness I could, what was discre­pant from, and what agreeable unto, the commonly recei­ved Opinion. And truly it was no ordinary assistance to me in this matter, to take a survey with my self of the state of the Jewish Church and Government: for thus thought I with my self, God in the 4th Chapter of Deut. v. 6, 7, 8. bears witness to their Laws, that there was no Nation that had Statutes and Judgments so righteous, and that for their Laws sake it should be said of them, Surely this great Nati­on is a wise and understanding People: Therefore it seem'd necessary with me, that to have a Church gloriously and wisely modell'd, it must make near approaches to the Ju­daical Form. But certain it is, that in this Jewish Church things were never so instituted by God, as that there should be distinct procedures in the punishing Immoralities, one by the Civil, and another by the Ecclesiastical power: What hinders then, but that even now too, that that Church which God hath blessed with a Christian Magistracy, may sit down contented under one form of Government?

I then communicated my thoughts to learned, good, and pious men, so far, as that I press'd them not to consider the matter slightly and cursorily: for I could not but deem it very unnecessary that there should be two Heads of the Visi­ble Church, where the Body is but one; and that their Man­dates, Injunctions, Decretals, and all the Acts of a govern­ing Authority, should be distinct (as hitherto they have been) so that the Government of one should not be subject to the Inspection or Controul of the other, but both their Jurisdictions be Chief in their kinds: For such a Church-Senate or Convocation of select Elders would they in truth have fram'd, that they should have the Supreme Right and Power of punishing Vice even in the Magi­strates themselves, but not with corporal punishments, but [Page] by prohibiting them the Sacrament, first privately; and if on this they reform'd not, then in a more solemn and pub­lick manner. But my Opinion was (as I always told them) That one Supreme Magistrate of Gods institution, and of the true Faith, might, and had as good right, now, to restrain Vice, as heretofore under the Law: And I took me an instance from Solomon's glorious Reign, which was a kind of Type of the Christian Church's reigning upon Earth. Now neither under him, nor yet under Moses, the Judges, or any other the Kings, or when govern'd by the Optimacy, have we any foot-steps of two so distinct Judica­tures over mens actions and manners. Nature (says Mu­sculus) allows not two absolute and Independent Govern­ments (without any subordinacy of one to the other) to Lord it over the same people. I must confess I received great Aids and Improvement of these my Thoughts from the persons with whom I conferr'd them: for in some things their Observations out-went my own; and where they did not, they furnisht me many material hints to mend them by: But still I kept my self quiet from any publick Contests in this Affair, and entered not into any Debates about it where I was not provok'd, and then too I used the utmost moderation in the managing them; estee­ming it as disadvantageous as needless to trouble our Chur­ches with this Dispute, when it did not yet appear that any body had imposed such a Form of Discipline upon them. But others who think the relish of Government more sweet and pleasant than that of Obedience, could not so temper their mouths, but by all the Arts and Insinuations that they thought might work our most pious Prince to their designes, they labour'd (as I afterwards understood) to introduce something very like this into our Churches; and had not other rubs thwarted them, God knows how far they might have prevailed. Besides, how did they lie at me all this while? what Dirt did they throw upon me, onely for that [Page] they knew how averse I was to their purposes, and that I should not be wanting, according to my best endeavours, to frustrate them? But this I need not here enlarge upon.

It happened about the same time, that an English-man (who was then said to have left his Country because he could not brook a Surplice and such-like Formalities then enjoyn'd) desiring to commence Doctor, proposed in his Theses, Disputes concerning indifferent matters and reli­gious habits. Now our Divines would not admit of this man to his Doctorship, for fear of giving distaste to the English Clergy (though in the latter of his Theses some­thing was proposed too relating to this matter); but it seems they thought the peace and tranquillity of our own Church, a trifle not worth the regarding. And therefore amongst his other Theses this was one, That in every Church that was rightly instituted, there ought to be a Government or Discipline observed, whereby the Ministry, in conjun­ction with Elders for that purpose to be elected, should have right and authority to excommunicate any vitious Liver, even Princes themselves. Now though I was not without apprehensions that this Dispute was not then taken up for nothing, yet I hoped withal that no more would come of it than of an ordinary Disputation, where the Question is agitated Pro and Con, not for deciding the matter so much, as to whet and exercise the young Disputants, and to try how well qualified they are for the Degrees that they stand Candidates for. I therefore stirr'd not thither; and indeed other affairs hindered my being present. And for others, who I saw ready to take up the Cudgels, I advised them to have a greater regard to the Churches Tranquillity, than to the Follies of a few; yet some disputed the point with them: But it might have prov'd no more than a Dis­putation of course, had they not called as well them as me, Profane, Satanical, Devilish Makebates, Enemies to Reli­gion and Holiness, Fanaticks, and what not?

[Page] Truly for my self, I can religiously say, it never enter'd into my thoughts to set Pen to Paper in this matter, till I both heard and saw with what intemperateness they com­ported themselves both publickly and privately; so that I thought a longer silence but a betraying the Truth. But as I was then more than ordinarily employed (by reason of the sick Souldiers who return'd from France with Casimire, in the year 1568.) I set down my Thoughts but brokenly, as in the intervals of my Employ, things from time to time oc­curr'd to my mind; which, when I had amassed a pretty deal (though confusedly and immethodically) together, I distributed and submitted them to the Censure of others, intreating them withal, that if they observ'd any thing false, or but weakly maintain'd, they would answer the one, and strengthen the other with better Reasons. And I hop'd to gain this (if nothing else) thereby, that those of contra­ry Sentiments would become more calm and moderate upon the perusal of what I had writ, and not differ from us far­ther than they had Arguments to bear them out. One of the two persons (with whom I thought of conferring most par­ticularly) saw and read three parts of four before the whole was transcribed; and being then askt what was his Judg­ment of it, he promised to give it when he should have per­used the whole. But something, I know not what, he said by the by of Leaven, and that he thought the Consent of the antient Church was to be very much esteem'd of; and, in fine, some other things did he let fall: whereby 'twas easie for me to make a Judgment of his Opinion in the case. And I learnt quickly after, that the very same person had writ a Tract about Excommunication, in maintenance of the Vulgar Opinion; which made me no longer-doubt what answer I should meet with from him: for I knew him to be one who was not easily brought to retract what he had once asserted. Therefore since I had in the latter part of my Book confuted all his Objections, I presented it whole to [Page] another person, who I thought the best Friend I had in the world: He not onely took the Book from me with disdain and contempt (whether he had an item of it before, I know not) but he plainly said he should not vouchsafe it a rea­ding; yet I left it with him for some days, and besought him with all the earnestness and entreaties that I could, that he would but look it over and give me his Judgment upon it. But I understood upon good grounds that my Sol­licitations had been fruitless. I sent for my Book about twelve days after, that I might get others Opinions upon it. But because 'twas long, and could not be so soon read over by many persons, I contracted it into certain Theses or Po­sitions, that I might the better communicate it into many hands; so that hereby I quickly got the Opinion of the most eminent German Divines; and others who had refu­sed the reading of it at my request, were at last thus drawn into it unawares.

But that it might appear to the World that I sought after nothing but the naked Truth, I prefix'd a Preface to it, wherein I requested two things: First, That all men would be pleased diligently to examine every point, and weigh it by the Scale of Holy Writ; and if they saw me in an Er­rour, would endeavour to set me right again, that I might be contributory to setting others to rights: I promised from the bottom of my heart (God, the Searcher of hearts, is my Witness) that I would thank him both before God and man, whoever should shew me my Errour. And (because I foresaw what after came to pass) my second Request was, That if they found fault with any thing, that they would so do it, that I might have a just liberty of explaining my self, and of justly defending any thing they should undeser­vedly condemn: for though I had approv'd my self a Friend to them in all good turns, I could scarcely expect like mea­sure again, by what I had before experienced. Nor was I deceived: for the very men whom I had so fondly concei­ved [Page] to have been my best Friends, turn'd suddenly my Ene­mies, and would not so much as speak to me, though I had never through all my life injur'd them in Word or Deed, but always did and still will study to oblige them: but however, I thankt God that I experienced their Constancy and good Will to me, rather in a concern of this, than of any other nature. But restless were they; and since they had vainly attempted by the help of the Magistrate to call in these Theses out of the hands where they had been dis­pers'd, they go another way to work, and desir'd (under the pretext of Laws which were never yet heard of) that as Divines were not to meddle with the Opinions and Rights of other Professions, that it might be enacted and enjoyn'd, That all of other Professions might be restrained from enter­ing into their Divinity-Schools. Had this been ask'd threescore years ago, it might have pass'd well enough; but how 'twould go down now, let others judge. Are the Pre­cepts, to search the Scriptures, Joh. 5. 39. and 1 Joh. 4. 1. Try the spirits whether they are of God; and 1 Thess. 5. 21. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good, and the like, Precepts which were given to none but those who teach Divinity for Hire? I had thought that Christian Divinity had been a Doctrine common to all men, and was therefore to be taught every where. But what is it they ask, when they would have us keep from their Schools? Do they mean as they concern not themselves in any other Faculties? Sure they would not have us not to hear their Lectures, or that we should not come thither to learn? Who I▪ pray, ever forbid them to study the Languages, Philosophy, Phy­sick, or Law? But if they care not for, or neglect those Stu­dies, must we do so by Divinity? Did indeed the igno­rance of the Scriptures carry no worse consequence with it, than their ignorance in the other Studies, we might pe­radventure complement them upon that point; or they might easily prevail, if no body must speak against what [Page] they enact and determine. This was a thing that the Ro­manists indeed, and by a better Right than they, laid claim to; but I cannot gratifie either of them herein, since Christ my Saviour has countermanded me.

Now that, they say, it becomes me not to meddle with matters of Divinity, I value it not; or that I have not a just regard to my Reputation (as they suggest) perhaps be­cause I make not a Gain, or am not hired to study the Truth: for were I paid for my Teaching of Divinity, I should do nothing (as themselves hold) unsuitable to my Duty and Function. But in truth I desire nothing but to have the Truth understood, and God's Name glorified, and my self exposed to shame, rather than the Truth be kept under deck: for Christ hath not without cause said it, Joh. 5. 44. That they cannot believe, who receive Honour one of another, and seek not the Honour that cometh from God onely.

Therefore when this too fell not out to their minds, and yet they could no longer smother their Animosities, they be­gan to assail me with dint of Argument; which upon all oc­casions they urged not without the severest Reflections upon me. Now though I heard thereof from several hands, yet, for Quietness and Peace sake, I easily despis'd it, hoping to see the day▪ that when those first Emotions should be over, and their Passions cool, they might stand more fair and equally affected to me. But alas, I was no Prophet here neither; for, for almost five months after, their Hatred run as high as ever: nor did they give over baiting me and my Writing, partly with Clamour and Reproach, and partly with I know not what Sophistical Reasonings. Therefore taking a stri­cter review of my Theses, which made an hundred before, I contracted them to Seventy five, and marshall'd them in a little better order: Somethings in them I explained more clearly, and enforc'd them more strongly. And in fine, I have made it my business to give as full satisfaction to all Lovers of Truth, as I could in so little a Treatise.

Advertisement to the Reader.

THis Tract received never (that I heard of) more than one direct Answer, and that writ by Theodore Beza, in the year 1590, on the behalf of the Geneva Plat-form, or Presbyterian way of Ex­communicating; which put our Author upon a far­ther Reply in Confirmation of the following Theses, (which remains yet unanswered, and unanswerable, for ought I know): but that Reply being above four times as long as THIS that is here published; and the main of the Arguments that he goes upon being hinted here, though not so fully press'd, the Publica­tion of the other is at present forborn.

A QUESTION OF THE Weightiest Moment, cleared: Whether Excommunication (so far as it debars those who understand and make profession of the Chri­stian Religion from the use of the Sacrament, by reason of some sin committed) be of Divine In­stitution, or the Invention of Men?

POSITION I. THE name of Excommunication seems to be derived from 1 Cor. cap. 10. and im­ports an amotion or separation from the Communion; which there, vers. 16. is called the Communion of the Bloud of Christ: And in truth, Excommunication is now defined by almost every body, to be an Exclusion from the society and communion of the Faithful.

II. Now the company of the Faithful is twofold; the one, Internal and Spiritual; the other, External or Visible, and Political or Civil. (For, for that third sort which our Modern Papists have invented, 'tis neither of it self a well-fram'd one, nor pertinent to our present purpose.)

[Page 2] III. Now betwixt both these, the difference is at least so great, that there is no necessity that either should be comprehensive of each other: for as he may still remain a Member of Christ, who without any just cause is cast out of the visible Church, or is otherwise constrain'd to take Covert, and make his abode among Infidels; so they that pass muster amidst the visible Flock, are not all the Living Members of Christ. Hence does it follow, that those things may well be different which unite us to one and not to the other, and separate us from the one, and yet not from the other.

IV. And indeed we are made the Members of Christ, that is, are joyned to the Internal and Spiritual Fellow­ship of Christ, and of the Faithful, by that Faith alone which worketh by Charity: and 'tis by Infidelity onely that we fall from this Consortship. And therefore no bo­dy can give us admission into this Society, or shut the doors upon us, but he that can impart to us a lively Faith, and again withdraw it at his pleasure.

V. Now 'tis by the Profession of the same Faith, by the Approbation of the same Doctrine, and in fine, by the promiscuous usage of the same Sacraments, that we become Consorts and Fellow-members of the External and Visible Church. He that has these three in him, so long as he remains such, is reckon'd for a Member of the Outward Congregation of the Faithful, albeit he arrives not at the farther pitch of Internal Fellowship of the Soul and Spirit.

VI. He therefore that is thrust out from External Communion with the Church (that is, that is excommu­nicated) is debarr'd all three, or two, or but one of them: But now from the two first, to wit, the Confessi­on of Faith, and Assent to the Christian Doctrine (under which latter I would include hearing of the Word and Doctrine) no one ought to be prohibited; but rather on [Page 3] the other hand, the whole World are to be invited, and by all the Allurements and Arts of men, won and brought into these. There is nothing left then, but that he who is ex­communicated, must and can (of all the forementioned three) be onely prohibited from the participation of the Sacraments: But whether the debarring of all private Commerce be an unseparable appurtenant of this, or the one may be without the other, will be an after-conside­ration. Thus much is certain, that no other punishment hath any thing to do with this Excommunication, as to the substance of it: for as for other Penalties, they may as well be inflicted on such as stand not excommunicate, as they may not be inflicted on such as stand so.

VII. Therefore the Papal Faction, over and besides this Excommunication (which they call the lesser, and right­ly define it by a bare Exclusion from the Sacraments) do very improperly to adde any second, which they call the greater, and anathema; and define it against express Scri­pture, by interdiction and seclusion from Temples, from all private Commerce and Conversation, and from all lawful Transaction betwixt man and man: for the Apo­stle, 1 Cor. 14. 23. plainly shews, that neither Heathens nor any others were precluded from hearing or reading the Word of God, or from the Thanksgivings or Prayers of Christians.

VIII. From what has been said, Excommunication is apparently nothing but a publick and solemn Interdicti­on, as was said before, or Exclusion▪ from the Sacraments, and more particularly the Lords Supper (which the A­postle calls peculiarly [...], Communion) to the end that the Sinners may repent, and be again readmitted to re­ceive the Sacraments.

IX. Here now the Question arises, viz. Whether any person be to be prohibited or debarred the use and free­dom of the Sacraments, upon the account of any previous [Page 4] sin acted by him, or for the wickedness of his life, if he himself desires to take the Sacraments with other Chri­stians? This Question is meant, of such who profess the same Christian Faith, is ingrafted into the Church by Ba­ptism, and differs not from her in Doctrinals, (as we said, Sect. 5.) but fails in point of Morality and a good Life onely. The Question is therefore this: Whether there be any footsteps in Holy Writ, of either Precept or Exam­ple, whereby such persons are either commanded or taught to be debarr'd access to the Sacraments?

X. Our Answer is in the Negative, That there is no such; and that rather there are both Examples and Pre­cepts too, more than once to be met with in the Bible, of a quite contrary nature: for we have it from Moses, Exod. 23. v. 14. and 34. v. 23. Num. 9. Deut. 16. v. 16. that every Male that was circumcised was to appear before God thrice in the year; that is, in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, in the Feast of Weeks, and in the Feast of Taber­nacles: And the Law commanded strangers too, Deut. 9. v. 14. (provided they were circumcised) to celebrate the Passover with the Jews. The unclean also, Deut. 16. v. 10. & 13. and those that should be in a Journey afar off, were commanded to eat the Passover the same day of the second month, and in the same manner with the Jews. Nay, 'tis farther added, v. 13. that the man that is clean, and is not in a Journey, and forbeareth to keep the Passo­ver, even the same Soul shall be cut off from his People. 'Twas therefore the Will and Command of God, that all the circumcised should celebrate it; and God excluded none from this Sacrament, (nor indeed from any other Rites, Ceremonies, or Sacrifices) except the Unclean.

XI. In Leviticus several kinds of Sacrifices are enjoyn­ed, according to the difference of the sins which the Cri­minal was thereby to expiate; whether they were sins of ignorance and errour, or voluntarily and knowingly com­mitted. [Page 5] In like manner doth God, Deut. 14. v. 23. give a general Command to all, (there's no exception there of sinners) That they should eat the Tythe of their Corn, &c. before the Lord in the place which he should chuse, that so they might learn to fear the Lord their God always. Sa­craments therefore were to them Allurements to Piety; and for that reason was no body thrust from them, but ra­ther was every individual man invited to frequent them.

XII. In very truth, we do not at all read that any one among the Jews was either by their Priests, Levites, Pro­phets, Scribes, or Pharisees, prohibited access to their Sa­crifices, Ceremonies, and Sacraments. The Chief Priests and Pharisees counted Christ and his Apostles bad men enough, but we never find that they attempted to thrust them from their Sacrifices or Sacraments either before or after Christs death; nay, they did not drive out of their Temple, or from their Ceremonies, so much as a Publican that was a Jew, or any other circumcised Proselyte, though a bad liver: for they were not to learn, that this was more than the Law of Moses allowed them to do. Indeed, in Mat. 9. v. 11. they reproved Christ for eating and drinking with Publicans and Sinners; but at no time or place did they twit him for praying with them in the Temple, for his frequenting their Sacrifices and other Rites, for his yearly Progress with them and others of the Rabble to Je­rusalem to celebrate the Passover and other Solemnities: And so far were they from any endeavours to put the most cruel Villains, and most wicked Hereticks, the Sad­ducees, from their Ceremonies and Communion in Wor­ship, that they even permitted them to climb to the Dig­nity of Chief Priests: And yet 'tis most apparent out of Josephus and the Acts of the Apostles, what an inveterate hatred they had for one another. Had it therefore been lawful, they would with open arms have embraced such an occasion of revenging themselves on their Enemies.

[Page 6] XIII. But farther yet, it was not in their power to keep them from eating the Passover: for that was not eaten be­fore the Priests, but in their private houses, as we read Christ to have celebrated his last Passover with his Disciples. E­very man was then a Priest as 'twere, as Philo Judaeus bears witness, when speaking of the Passover, he tells, That on that Festival every man throughout the Nation sacri­ficed for himself, not expecting nor tarrying for their Priests: for the Law indulg'd the priviledge of Priest­hood to the whole Nation, that on one set day every year they should sacrifice with their own hands. And Exod. 12. v. 4. 'twas commanded, That if the Houshold were too little for the Lamb, that then he and his Neigh­bor next unto the house should take it according to the num­ber of the Souls, to the end that the whole might be eaten. The like seems to have been observed in the matter of Cir­cumcision, (excepting in this particular, that they were not obliged to circumcise at Jerusalem onely, as they were to celebrate there the Passover:) for I do not remember that the presence of the Priest was requisite to Circum­cision.

XIV. John the Baptist too, who was the forerunner of Christ, did constantly do the same: for he baptized not onely the Pharisees and Sadduces that came unto him (whose behaviour and manners he very well understood, when he publickly called them a Generation of Vipers) but also the Publicans, and all others that resorted to him to be baptized, to the intent that they repenting them of their former evil life, might set about the amending it, and so might flee from the Wrath to come. 'Tis scarce pro­bable, that such a man as John was, should admit of men of such profligate lives, men that impiously, audaciously, and publickly denied the Resurrection of the Dead, had he not known that the Law forbad not access to such: for the Judaical Law (as has been already shewn) prohibi­ted [Page 7] no circumcised persons, but the unclean and le­prous.

XV. Besides, this Uncleanness was a Legal Ceremony, not any impurity of Life, or pravity of Manners: for not he who had sinned, or committed any wickedness, was thereby unclean; but the Unclean were those who touched any dead Corpse, any Excrements, any person that had an Issue of Bloud, or the like. And 'twas for this cause that the Pharisees would not go into the Judgment-hall, when they had delivered up Christ to Pilate to be put to death, lest they should be debarred thereby from eating the Passo­ver. But surely the Mosaical uncleanness did not so ty­pifie and represent our iniquities, that as they who were thereby defiled were shut out from the Tabernale, and the company of others: so should it signifie that these sins were to be corrected and punisht by with-holding the Sa­craments, and by Exclusion from the Visible Church; as appears plainly by what follows: For,

1. Even whilst Legal Uncleanness was in force, and there were then wicked men in abundance, yet were not the same punishments appointed for the wicked and for the unclean. What probability is there then that these Ceremonies should typifie their punishment, or in any sort signifie that Moral Delinquencies should be thus checkt and redress'd, when the Ceremonies themselves should be taken away and cancel'd?

2. Moses had plainly been inconsistent with him­self, had he in fact admitted them to the Temple and Rituals, whom at the same time he by those Cere­monies signified that they were to be excluded. For certain it is, that no one was ever thrust out of the Ta­bernacle, or from the Congregation, for the pravity of his Manners, if, as the Law commanded, he had neither tou­ched any dead Body, nor otherwise in that nature defiled himself. At this rate therefore Moses should punish those [Page 8] that were but figuratively unclean, and let such as were unclean in reality go unregarded; (I mean, as to this sort of punishment.)

3. That Legal Impurity affected and tainted the Body alone; whereas wickedness consists in the Internal acti­ons and operations of the mind: for the cause and root of all Evil is born with us, and falls not under mans correcti­on, whilst it puts not forth its fruit; for otherwise must the whole World be Excommunicate: for we shall not get these spots out of our Soul, whilst we breathe mortal air. But that other Impurity, which is but a bodily stain, is pu­nish'd by being debarr'd Commerce with others, though there be no other fruit, no farther evil springing from that uncleanness, nor he that is defil'd hath done nothing against the Law: but for the actions and transgressions of the un­clean, they were dealt with at the rate of others transgres­sions, if the parties under that defilement did any thing a­gainst the Law; and the cleanness or uncleanness of the sinner neither aggravated nor lessened the moral guilt.

4. Our very Adversaries confess, that not all sorts and sizes of sins are to be redressed by Excommunication; whereas the Law commands that every uncleanness be pu­nisht by Exclusion from the Tabernacle and publick Sa­crifices: so that those could not typifie all sorts of Ini­quities.

5. No man that sins unwittingly can be excommunica­ted; but 'twas usual for men unwittingly to contract un­cleanness, and not onely without any blame of theirs, but to their great grief and trouble. What fault was there in him, who sleeping, unvoluntarily suffered nocturnal Pol­lutions? and where the Wife might unexpectedly fall in­to that condition which the Law made a Pollution to the Husband, if he approach'd her? or by the decease of Children, Wife, or Parents? or the like, which usually happened? And now it needs not to be proved that [Page 9] they are onely voluntary and spontaneous Crimes, for which persons may be (as some men think) debarr'd Access to the Sacraments.

6. A far severer punishment was ordained for him that killed a man against and without any will or intention of so doing, than a naked seclusion from the Sacraments for some few weeks or days: If therefore an unpremeditated and involuntary offence, and by consequence a sin of the les­ser die, underwent a more sharp and bitter chastizement than the foulest Legal Impurities, 'tis plain that the pu­nishments for them are not intended to represent the pu­nishment for Moral Iniquities.

7. It often fell out, that men of the greatest Sanctity and Integrity became unclean, and were debarr'd both from entering into the Temple, and from the use of Sacri­fices; whilst on the other hand, men most notoriously wicked had admission to either, without controul: where­as if in the Church of God both ought to undergo the same punishment, the latter should rather be secluded than the former.

8. 'Tis manifest that God did at no time or place abso­lutely prohibit all Legal Impurity: for some were to at­tend the dying persons, some those that were infected with an unclean disease, some must bury the dead, and in fine, some must purifie the unclean, (by which means they themselves became defiled, v. Numb. 19.) so that God would not that all Legal Impurities should be avoided: But God prohibited sins of all kinds, and to all men, and at all times, and never indulg'd the perpetrating any wic­ked action at any time or place whatever.

9. God commands that sin should be restrain'd by Fire, Sword, Halters, Stoning, Stripes, Mulcts, Imprisonment, and other penalties of the like nature; but ordains that the legally unclean should be purified by sprinkling and washing with water, and the like, Numb 19. v. 17, 18, 19.

[Page 10] 10. He that had contracted uncleanness according to the definitions of legal Pollutions, and died in that state, as for instance, women in their menstruousness, or men ha­ving a Gonorrhea or Leprosie on them, were not for that inroll'd among the wicked, or doom'd to damnation: But he that shall so live, that honest good men shall deem him worthy of Excommunication, cannot be accounted of o­therwise than as a sinful and impious person.

11. Legal Uncleannesses took place and were regarded but with one single People, and there too but for a limi­ted time; whereas sins sprang up every where, among all Nations, without distinction of place or time. Since then, as well among all other Nations, as among the Jews themselves, before Legal Impurities were introduced, sins were both when punished and in the punishing ad­judged sins, it certainly signified something more than the punishment of flagitious men; which was surely lighter than what was to make satisfaction to the Will of God.

12. Every person was purified at set-times and places, and by using set and peculiar Ceremonies, be the party how he would as to his mind; that is, whether he be­come unclean with or against his Will: but none stand acquitted from their sins, but such as heartily repent, and do with as much sincerity as earnestness desire to grow and be better.

13. Every one was his own judge of his being clean­sed (excepting the leprous, and some few others) and stood not in need of Judges or Elders, who should judge for them, and pronounce them clean or unclean. Our Opposers have otherguess Sentiments of the excommuni­cated: for they put the Decision upon the judgment of their Elders, not upon the Assertion of the Parties who say they repent.

14. The Leper, Lev. 13. v. 12, 13. whose Leprosie spread from the crown of the head to the so [...] of the feet, [Page 11] so that the Leprosie cover all his flesh, and that the skin of the whole body be all over of a colour, was to be pro­nounced whole and clean; but he who on the contrary had his skin raw and defiled but in some one or more parts, was to be accounted unclean. Now in the case of sinners, 'tis quite otherwise: for he that wallows over head and ears in sin (like a Sow all bemir'd) is not an honester man than he who retains some shadow of Reli­gion, and shew of Honesty.

15. The Lepers are not commanded to do any thing on their part towards their cleansing, but barely to shew themselves to the Priest, that he may pronounce the Plague clean or not clean: But to wicked men the Com­mand is direct, that themselves amend their lives, and give evidence of a sorrowful and penitent heart by their good and holy works.

16. Many were made unclean by touching the very things whereby others were made clean, and while them­selves did purifie others, v. Numb. 19. but sure no man de­serves to be excommunicated from the means he uses in the healing and purifying others who are defiled with sin and iniquity: Whereas if you would have the figure to answer herein, you must grant that all that would recal others into the ways of Righteousness by Excommunicati­on, are to be excommunicated themselves.

17. The unclean were not by the Law interdicted all Sacraments: for they were to observe all the private Rites and Ceremonies of their Country; they were to keep the Sabbath, and celebrate the Feast of Purification, whereby the fruits and benefits of Christs meritorious works were chiefly shadowed or expressed; and all this at the peril of their lives, vid. Lev. 16. and 23. for they were not (as I said before) taken for men damn'd, and of a desperate condition: But whether in the opinion of our Adversaries the Excommunicate are to be thought o­therwise, 'tis needless for me to attempt much the proving it.

[Page 12] 18. The unclean under the Law did propagate an un­cleanness to the cloaths, houses, places, and persons that they touched, or had otherwise to do with; but wicked men did neither defile the Temple nor any thing else, nor indeed any other men, unless those others joyn'd with them in the sin. The Temple was not polluted by bring­ing in an Adulteress, Numb. 5. v. 19. John 8. v. 11. no more did the Publican (who in the Parable, Luke 18. v. 9. went up with the Pharisee into the Temple to pray) de­file it by his presence; that Pharisee who thought him a mighty sinner, compar'd with himself, yet never thought himself defiled by his company. When Judas threw down the Traiterous Pieces, the Price of Bloud, in the Temple, we do not read that the Temple was thereby polluted, or that the Pharisees made any complaint, as to that, who yet would not go into the Judgment-hall, lest they should be defiled, John 18. v. 28. Whereas were but a wo­man in her Menstruousness, or having an Issue of Bloud, or any one who had buried another, or had (though una­wares) touched a dead body, been seen in the Temple, all had been polluted and unclean; nor might they have sacrificed, or perform'd any other Worship, till 'twere a­gain purified. In like manner Judas polluted not that last Paschal-Supper by his detestable acts; which yet would have been the case, had but he or any other of the Disci­ples touch'd any dead body.

In fine, the uncleanness under the Law, did figure our perverted and corrupt Nature, which could not be ad­mitted into Heaven, unless washed and purified in and by the most pure and precious Bloud of Christ: for as the Tabernacle typified Heaven, and the casting out thence signified Damnation, or the Exclusion from the heavenly Jerusalem; so the cleansing or washings by ordinary or sanctified Water, prefigured that Purification by the death of Christ. 'Twas not therefore typical, or figurative of [Page 13] the quality of the Actions, but of the quality or pravity of our Nature. Nor did Gods Law prefigure how Vice should be bridled and restrained; (for Moses taught this in clear and express words) but what should be our State in another life, to wit, in the Kingdom of Heaven, which the Land of Canaan did shadow to them: All which plain­ly enough appears in Rev. 21. v. 27. St. Augustin writing against the Donatists, was of opinion that it signified the Exclusion of Hereticks: But, be it how 'twill, even a blind man may see, from the many and great differences be­tween the Legal and Moral Impurities, that the former could not be figurative of the latter, as our Adversaries contend.

XVI. Though Moses makes none but the forementio­ned Exception, yet shall I answer to an Objection, which may be collected out of his words: for peradventure some one may thus argue, The Jews are by Moses commanded to eat the Passover without Leaven; which Paul, 1 Cor. 5. v. 8, interprets the filthiness of the flesh, that is, Moral wickedness: It may therefore seem to some a very agree­able and likely matter, that the Lords Supper which suc­ceeded to the Passover, should be celebrated by shutting out malicious and wicked men.

XVII. I answer, first, That it carries little of probabi­lity with it, that God should command a thing in express terras, and again at the same time figuratively prohibit the self-same thing. God plainly and expresly, and with rei­terated Precepts, commands that every Male (except the unclean, and such as were in a Journey) should keep the Passover: He never therefore intended to frighten a­way some under the figure of the Leaven. There were then plenty enough of bad men present, that it must be needless to typifie and shadow them out by Leaven: And the wickedness of men was a thing as obvious to mens sen­ses, and as much to be taken notice of, as the Leaven that [Page 14] should represent it. Therefore since no figures are com­monly instituted of such things as are at hand and in view, and which with equal clearness strike the Senses, 'tis in vain to seek for any Figure there: How much more where the things figured are more notorious and com­mon, than the Figures themselves? But besides, Moses does not command that the Eater of Leaven should be debarr'd eating the Passover; but commands him to be slain: Therefore sinners should not so much be kept from the Lords Supper, as they should be capitally punished. Which is a Consequence I should be so far from admitting with difficulty, that I rather wish it might so be: for I desire nothing more, than that the strictest Moral Discipline might be observ'd in the Church; but such still as is of Gods appointment, not of mans invention.

Secondly, The Jews might eat Leaven all the year round, excepting onely those seven days of Unleavened Bread; (which they did commence from the eating of the Passo­ver.) Now if you would parallel this with the Lords Supper, you must of necessity grant a liberty for licentious living all the year, provided you abstained from vice all the time you were celebrating the Lords Supper.

Thirdly, Moses speaks here of the Passover onely, not of any other Sacraments; by Analogie therefore wicked men should onely be kept from the Lords Supper, not from Baptism.

Fourthly, The Apostle makes not the comparison to run betwixt the Feast of the Jews and the Lords Supper, but betwixt that and our whole course of life; he says we are unleavened (as men that are washed in the Bloud of Christ, and purged from all Leaven) and therefore, says he, let us keep the Feast, that is, let us live not with the Leaven of Malice, but with the Unleavened Bread of Sin­cerity and Truth. There is a vast difference betwixt Leaven simply so called, and the Leaven of Malice or [Page 15] Wrath: There is none but knows that in the second sence 'tis taken figuratively; and School-men say, that an a­nalogical or figurative sence proves nothing. This is certain, whatever is meant by Leaven, Excommunication can never be maintain'd or justifi'd from it, against Gods precept.

XVIII. But some may object that Paul speaks here of the Passover; but what, I pray, makes this to our busi­ness? as if this word Passover were put for the Lords Sup­per in the New Testament: Christ, saith the Apostle, 1 Cor. 5. 7. is our Passover sacrificed or slain for us; not his Supper. The meaning of the words is this: As the Jews, who onely began their Feast of Unleavened Bread with eating the Lamb, did eat Unleavened Bread all that week after; so should you, who have begun to believe in Christ, and are purified and become unleavened through his Bloud, you should lead a pure and unspotted life all the rest of the week, that is, all the days of your life.

XIX. Now that nothing of different nature is to be met with in the other Books of the Old Testament, may be known and proved, if it were but from this alone, that the Jews Posterity were to live according to the Laws and Institutions of Moses; contrary to which they might not by any means institute or enjoyn any thing which re­lated to the Worship of God. Most certainly the good and pious Judges, Priests, Prophets, and Kings, for­ced away none from their Sacraments and Sacrifices, but rather invited all to them with the greater earnestness and zeal. The story of good King [it should be Heze­kiah, I suppose: See 2 Chron. 35.] Josiah, 2 Chron. 35. v. 18. is well known, who called together all the Children of Israel, as well those whom he knew to have sacrificed and burnt Incense to strange Gods or Devils, as those who for the shortness of the warning could not be cleansed, 2 Chron. 30. v. 19. according to the purification of the [Page 16] Sanctuary: From whence 'tis observable, that Sacraments are Provocations and Allurements to Religion and Piety; and that men grow better rather by frequenting, than by being robb'd of them, provided they are rightly and faith­fully instructed.

XX. Excommunication therefore can never be main­tain'd from the first Chapter of Isaiah, v. 13. Psal. 50. v. 8. and many places of like import; where 'tis said, that God will have nothing to do with the Sacrifices and Obla­tions of the Wicked: for God doth in all those places condemn the abuse of them, in that they thought that they fully perform'd the Will of God by the meer exter­nal performance, at what rate soever their Soul stood af­fected. Besides, God neither commands the Prophet, nor any one else by him, to exclude the Wicked from the Sacrifices and Rites; but shews that God will not hear them, unless that withal they amend their lives. Now the external Policy and Government of the Church stands upon a different foot with the Will of God to us-ward, as himself is the Approver or Condemner of our thoughts and actions. In fine, from the self-same places it may di­rectly and in the same manner be demonstrated, that none that is a sinner may call upon the Name of the Almighty; nay, that 'tis unlawful for such an one so much as to praise or give thanks unto God: and then 'twill be incumbent on the Priests and Elders to forbid the Wicked all these; for God hath a like aversion to those when they come from wicked men, as is plain as well from the Texts instanc'd in, as from places of the like import. And if this latter carries absurdity in it, no less doth the former.

XXI. Neither doth that of 1 Esdras, chap. 9. v. 3. 4. make any whit against us; for that was a matter of Po­licy, and no ways relating to the Sacraments: for the Ma­gistracy (not Esdras the Priest alone, though he too was a part of the Magistracy; for as Josephus bears witness, [Page 17] though they had a Leader, yet were they govern'd by the Optimacy or Nobility) set forth a Proclamation, That whosoever met not at Jerusalem within two or three days, their Cattel should be seized to the use of the Tem­ple, and they be cast out from them that were of the Cap­tivity; not from their Sacraments and Sacrifices. But we make it not the enquiry of this place, whether the Magistrate hath a right of punishing so or so, but whether the Priests had any authority of removing dissolute and bad Livers from the Sacrifices: Esdras could not do this contrary to the Command of God. Adde to this, that Moses never commanded this penalty (to wit, Exclusion from Sacraments) to be inflicted on them who married strange women, Deut. 7. v. 3. And in the 8th Chap. of 1 Esdras, 'tis shewn how he was to proceed against the Transgressors of the Law in that point, to wit, by Death, Banishment, Corporal Punishments, Confiscation of E­states, Bonds or Imprisonments. But in fine, 'twas quite another thing to be thrust out from the company of them who had returned from the Captivity, and to be shut out from the Temple and Sacrifices: for it appears from Exod. 1. 2. 21. and Numb. 9. 2. that the stranger that was circum­cised, was admitted to keep the Passover, and then too, many of those who either had continued in Judea, or who of the Inhabitants had forsaken the filthiness and abo­minations of the Gentiles, and became Jewish Proselytes, did together with all the others, celebrate the Passover, as 'tis written at the end of the 6th Chapter of Esdras. These, such as they were, were not debarr'd the Sacrifices, Temple, or Ceremonious Rites, though they were not reckoned among the number of them who return'd from Babylon. In like manner did they remove some of the Priests from their Sacerdotal Function, because they could not make out their Pedigree; as appears 1 Esdras 2. And from all put together, 'tis plainly impossible that [Page 18] Excommunication can be shor'd up or supported here­by.

XXII. There is yet one Objection left, which some men hug themselves in, and prize mightily, and that is the casting out of the Synagogues: for to assert Excom­munication the more irrefragably, they quote you what is written in John 9. v. 22. and ch. 12. v. 42. and ch. 16. v. 2. But many and true are the Answers to this. The word Synagogue sometimes signifies a place; as when Jesus is said to have entred into and taught in the Synagogue: Sometimes a Convention or Meeting, whether the same were in the Synagogue it self, or elsewhere; as when the Pharisees are said to chuse the chief Seats in the Syna­gogues, and the uppermost Rooms at Feasts, Mark 12. 39. Luke 20. 46. In this latter sence (or rather in both of them) is it used, Mat. 10. v. 17. and ch. 23. v. 34. where Christ foretels the scourging of his Followers in the Sy­nagogues; and Mat. 10. v. 17. Mark 13. v. 9. Luke 12. v. 11. and 21. v. 12. in which places the word signifies no more than the publick place of Judicature, as 'tis often used for the same by the Septuagint; as we shall have op­portunity to clear hereafter. But in the last forecited places, Mat. 10. v. 17. and Mark 13. v. 9. [...], and [...] which we translate Councils and Synagogues, are there put as if they both signified the same thing: In the other places, after [...], presently follows [...], Kings and Rulers, as in Luke 21. v. 12. (instead of which the same Evangelist, ch. 12. v. 11. puts [...], Ma­gistrates and Powers:) So in Mark 13. v. 9. Mat. 10. v. 17. By comparing these places, 'tis most plainly demon­strable, that the Evangelists, or rather Christ, did not (by the words [...] and [...], Council and Synagogue) understand or mean any thing more than the Jewish Judi­catures which were held before several persons who sate as Judges, though generally one had the Chair, and something [Page 19] of Superiority; or if more did act, they did it in the name of one of them. In these Assemblies or Synagogues those that were found adjudg'd guilty, were buffeted and beaten with Rods and the like, Mat. 10. 17. and 23. 34. Acts 17. 10. and 26. 11. and 2 Cor. 11. 25. which place may be easily understood by Deut. 25. 2, 3. Now the casting out of this kind of Synagogue, was a kind of Political or Civil Ignominy or Punishment, and so a local banish­ment as 'twere, as we gather out of Luke 4. 28, 29. which can never be applied to Sacraments, which (except it be that of Circumcision, and some few others) were cele­brated in the Temple (of which there was but one) and at Jerusalem: And of the same nature doth that punish­ment seem to be, which we spoke of a little before in our clearing that of Esdras. There is no body but knows that such Synagogues there were in every City; therefore whether you take the word in that of John, ch. 10. v. 17. for the Assembly it self, or for the place where they assem­bled, it thwarts not our Opinion any manner of ways: and if at most it were denied to be a Civil Assembly, yet must it manifestly appertain to religious matters. But I dispute not here whether he who entertains erroneous O­pinions of the true Religion, be to be excommunicated: for the Pharisees, says John 9. v. 22. agreed, that if any man did confess that Jesus was Christ, that he should be put out of the Synagogue. But farther yet, it was matter of Repute and Honour to be of the Synagogue, as of the other hand 'twas a piece of Reproach to be cast out of it; as may, methinks, be easily gathered from Joh. 12. 42. where 'tis said, that among the Chief Rulers also (of whom per­haps Nichodemus was one) many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the Synagogue; and the reason is added, v. 43. for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Besides, it appears that even the cir­cumcised [Page 20] Publicans were not admitted into the Syna­gogues, in the sence we now take the word: for the Pha­risees would not endure so much as to speak with them; and one of their Cavils at Christ was, for his familiar con­verse with those men. But I cannot imagine, that any one who understands himself, can affirm that these very Publicans and Sinners were debarred from the Passover, from the Temple, or from Sacrifices; therefore must they needs be two quite different things, so to be dissynagogu'd, and to be kept from the Sacraments and Rites of Gods own institution: which is manifest, as well from what has been already said, as from Acts 5. v. 42. for the Disciples after they had been severely lesson'd by the Synagogue, did not yet cease to teach and preach Jesus Christ dayly in the Temple. What a many of Synagogues was Paul put out of? but the Jews never cast it in his teeth, never accus'd or condemn'd him for coming into the Temple, and for offering there for himself and others. But to close all this, more may yet be said, could it never so plainly be made out that the Pharisees counted it one and the same thing to exclude from the Synagogue and from the Sacra­ments (which I shall make appear never was, is, or could be true;) yet they must needs have done this (as well as many other things) against the express Law of Moses, and then are we obliged not to imitate but condemn the Pattern: for we are to live up to the Laws, and not to Presidents; and not walk after any one in his deviations from the Laws of God, unless we will confound all the Rules and Measures of Right and Wrong: Let us indeed have an eye to the good Examples of the good, and strive to come after them, but not after the bad of the bad. I have been so particular (though with all the brevity I could) on this Argument, because some do mightily hug and applaud themselves in it, though to the deceiving of themselves as well as others.

[Page 21] XXIII. 'Tis therefore a most certain unshaken and in­disputable truth, that under the old Testament no man was shut out from Sacraments for Immoralities; but on the contrary, all the holy Priests, Prophets, Judges, Kings, and at last, John the Baptist, that most eminent and most holy Forerunner of Christ, rather sent Invitations to all, good and bad, to come in and keep them according to the Law, than shut the doors upon them.

XXIV. But now our Sacraments, and those of our Forefathers under the Old Testament, are (as to the things signified, see the spiritual sence of them) altogether the same, as Paul, 1 Cor. 10. plainly intimates. And there­fore unless it can appear that the Law of Moses either is abolished or changed in this point, none has authority to set up a contrary practice.

XXV. For as against the Anabaptists we do well urge as a most effectual Argument, that since Baptism came in the place of Circumcision, and that Christ did nowhere for­bid the baptizing of Infants, it cannot be less lawful for us to baptize our Children, than 'twas for the Jews to cir­cumcise theirs; so may we here argue with equal force, that the Lords Supper succeeded to the eating the Passo­ver: but Vice and Immoralities were not punished by prohibiting them to eat the Passover, nor were the Jews on any such account drove from it; but the Law did ra­ther invite all, of what age or condition soever, especially every Male, to keep it: Which being not found to be ei­ther antiquated nor abolished, but holding still as to the reason of it, Crimes are no more now to be punished by denying us the Lords Supper; neither ought any one on this account to be rejected. But enough has been said with reference to the Old Testament; 'tis time we should now come to Christ and his Apostles, that is, to the New Testament.

XXVI. Now we read not any where that our Lord and [Page 22] Saviour Christ did in any wise interdict any person access unto, or use of the Sacraments; or that he so much as commanded the Apostles that they should do any thing like it: for Christ came not into the world to destroy the Law, but to fulfil and perfect it; therefore when the Law commanded all but the unclean to celebrate the Passo­ver, Christ would not surely forbid any one.

XXVII. For 'tis very clear that Christ checkt no body for using Sacraments, or frequenting the Temple and Sa­crifices; but onely caution'd them to use them aright, and agreeably to the Will and Law of God: He went into the same Temple with Pharisees, Sadduces, Publicans, and who not, be they bad, be they good; he was with them at the same Sacrifices; used all Sacraments promiscuously with the rest of the people; was baptized of John with the same Baptism as those wicked ones were.

XXVIII. Upon this account was it that Jesus hin­dred not Judas his Betrayer from eating the last Paschal Lamb with him, but he sate down to it with all his twelve Disciples: not but that there are some who endeavour to prove that Judas was not present at this new instituted Supper of our Lord (which is an hard, if not an impos­sible matter to evince from Sacred Writ) but that he withdrew before the Institution: yet sure none can have the hardiness to deny that Judas was according to the Law admitted to the eating the Passover; on which Concession, our Argument holds firm and unanswerable: for whether he went or went not out before the Institu­tion of another Supper, (though the latter carries most of probability in it, and always hath been believed by most men) this still is plain, that he was present and partaker of the first, and was not openly or expresly forbidden the latter: Neither read we any where that Christ comman­ded him to go out, to the end that he might not be a Communicant in his new-instituted Supper; if therefore [Page 23] he did go out, he did it voluntarily, and of his own head; neither went he out for any such purpose. But [...]he Que­stion with us is, what Christ, not what Judas did: 'Tis enough for our purpose, that Christ never commanded him to withdraw from his Supper.

XXIX. But the common Put-off and Salvo for this matter, is very light and frivolous; That Judas his Crime was not of a publick nature, and that on that considera­tion he was not to be put out: for first, he had struck the bargain, and agreed the price with the Pharisees before, and Christ acquainted his Disciples with it at that Supper­time; this was an ample Publication by Christ himself, and should therefore have been the rather made a President and Example in this matter. But secondly, (whatever this may be) he was at least known to be a Thief before; and though such an one he were, yet did our Lord com­mit a Ministry and office to him, and bestowed on him the power of casting out Devils, of healing the Sick, and of doing other such-like Miracles. Lastly, Christ admit­ted him as well as the rest of his Disciples to the Celebra­tion of the Passover, all the whiles he was with him. Is not this proof enough that Christ had no mind, no intent or desire that flagitious persons should be punisht by de­barring them the Sacraments? Sure 'tis matter of greater moment to take a wicked man into the Ministry, than to admit such an one to the Supper! yet we see that Christ did both to Judas.

XXX. 'Tis farther observable, that at his first Supper the Disciples began to contend about Greatness and Supe­riority; yet was none of them shut out thence on that score: nay, Christ would and commanded that all should drink of the Cup, Mat. 26. v. 27. which, Mark 14. v. 23. is said to be actually done: (And as to this business, the reason holds in the Bread as well as Wine.) Now what can it be believed was the mind and intent of Christ, but [Page 24] to ratifie what God had before commanded by Moses, to wit, [...]t none who were initiated by Baptism, should be debarr'd from that publick and solemn act of Thanks­giving, who had a mind to be at it? Whence it appears, that no person is to be thrust from the Lords Table, who embraces the Doctrine of Christ, and submits to be instru­cted by him.

XXXI. Christ doth not desire that his Kingdom (I speak of his visible and external one in this world) should be of a narrower extent among Christians, than were the boundaries and limits set unto the Jews. As therefore God commanded that all that were externally circumci­sed, should participate and communicate in the same Sa­craments and Rites; but that Criminals and other Trans­gressors, should by the Sword and other civil Punishments be restrained and punished: so is it Christ's Will, that all who are baptized into him, all that profess Christianity, and have a right and sound sense of Religion, should be admitted to the use of all external Ceremonies and Sacra­ments; whilst the Wicked and Criminal fall under the correction of the Magistrate, whether it be by Death, Exile, Imprisonments, or other the like Penalties. And the Parables of the Net, Marriage, and Tares, seem to im­port no less.

XXXII. We find among the Apostles, Paul especially, no fewer nor less plain and forcible Arguments for our Assertion. First, there are no Footsteps that the Apostles did either teach or practise such a kind of Excommunica­tion. This Argument, though it be not so evincing and strong of it self, yet will be made unanswerable, if we con­sider that the Apostles all their time kept themselves to a strict observance of such Laws of Moses which Christ had not abrogated; as may be gathered out of the 21th and 28th Chapters of the Acts of the Apostles: for which cause they never did nor would, attempt to put by any [Page 25] one from our Sacraments (which differ from the Sacra­ments of their Forefathers, in the signes and time of signi­fying onely) if he be a professed Christian, and make a right Confession of that Doctrine: for they neither did nor taught any thing contrary to the Precepts of Moses, which Christ had not before abrogated, but kept them­selves to as close and strict observance of the Law after his death, as before; as the chief of the Apostles bears wit­ness in the before-cited places: for that permission, to live free from the Law of Moses, was to the Gentiles one­ly, not to the Convert Jews; which ought carefully to be remark'd here, for the sake of what follows. And as to the substance of their Doctrine, they taught nothing that interfer'd with Moses and the Prophets: for had they taught any thing dissonant, the Bereans could not have judged it agreeable to those Scriptures that they searched, Acts 17. v. 11.

XXXIII. But to adventure yet one step farther: Much may be said for the sense of Moses; (which jumps alto­gether with ours) but for the contrary Opinion, Paul af­fords us not one Argument: for that Apostle, in 1 Cor. 8. v. 7. excludes neither those who yet retaining some fear and conscience of the Idols, thought them to be something, nor those proud boasting Gnosticks, who in [...], in the House or Temple of the Idol (at least, in the Room that was set apart for their solemn and publick Idol-Festivals) did promiscuously with the profane and impious Idola­ters, eat of the things offer'd to Idols: A thing expresly forbid by Moses, Exod. 34. v. 15. by the Apostles, Acts 15. v. 29. by John, Rev. 2. v. 14. This was a sin as hai­nous as 'twould be now-a-days for a man to dare to be present and communicate at a Popish Mass; as any one may easily gather out of the 10th Chapter of that Epi­stle: for Paul there proves, that such as those do not less declare themselves by that action to be Communicants, [Page 62] and keep a Fellowship with Devils, than they testifie them­selves to be Members of the mystical Body of Christ by partaking of the Lords Supper.

XXXIV. Again, Paul, 1 Cor. 10. 1, 2, &c. reasons the mat­ter thus: As (says he) God spared not in old time such as lusted after evil things, nor Idolaters, nor Fornicators, nor such as tempted and murmured against Christ; though all of them were baptized unto Moses in the same Baptism, v. 2. and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink, v. 3, and 4. so shall he not spare even you too, whoever of you are defiled with like abominations, though you also all eat in like manner, as did they, of the same Bread, and drink of the same Cup with the righteous and holy ones. By this it is seen, first, that the Sacraments of the Jews before Christ, and ours since, are, as to the internal and heavenly designe of them, the very same; else would the Apostles, Argument be of no force. Secondly, 'Tis evident that in both cases many vile and wicked Wretches, and notoriously known and mark'd for such, found admittance. Thirdly, 'Tis al­so clear, that none were commanded to keep away (as the Excommunicated now-a-days always are:) for the Apostle doth not say that such, whilst such, should be kept from coming; but foretels and denounces like punishments on them, as befel such sinners of old: Some of whom Moses with the Levites slew, Exod. 32. v. 28. some God himself destroyed with Fire and Sword, Serpents and Earth­quakes; which was these Corinthians case too: for, saith St. Paul, 1 Cor. 11. v. 30. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep; that is, are punished by Disease and Death from God.

XXXV. In the next Chapter (though St. Paul take notice of Divisions and Heresies among them, and of some drunken at the Lords Supper, yet) neither are those Schis­maticks and Sectaries, those Drunkards, or others of what­soever [Page 27] debauched Principles, commanded to be kept from eating it; there's no tittle or word of any such Interdi­ction: Yet doth he there redress lesser matters, as that e­very man should eat at home, if he be hungry. How could he have here pass'd over this in silence, had he ap­proved it? had he thought it so necessary to the Church? But the Apostle well knew that the Law commanded o­therwise, and that the use of Sacraments in the Church was to other purposes than the punishing of Moral Vices by their deprivation; therefore commands he that every man examine himself, 1 Cor. 11. 28. the Precept is not, that they should try and examine one another. Nay, the Apostle there cautions them that they eat worthily; For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drink­eth damnation to himself, v. 29. He doth not in the least command that unworthy Communicants should be deni­ed access, but threatens them with sad dooms from the hand of God. He divides the Eaters into two sorts, ac­cording to their differing Complexions; the worthy, and unworthy ones: he gives no Precept to either for their not eating, but would that all should eat worthily.

XXXVI. Afterwards, in 2 Cor. ch. 12 and 13. he threa­tens not those (who, 2 Cor. 12. v. 21. after a former ad­monition had not repented of the Uncleanness, and For­nication, and Lasciviousness which they had committed) with exclusion from the Table of the Lord, but, 2 Cor. 13. 10. according to the power and authority which the Lord had given him, to edification, and not to destru­ction, he would not spare, ch. 13. v. 2. and 10. that is, he would proceed with rigour and severity, according to his extraordinary and Apostolick power; a thing he often did threaten in his Epistles: But nowhere has he preach'd this Doctrine (which is the Question now in hand) That any should be interdicted the Sacraments; nor has he commanded Presbyters or any others to do it. But had [Page 28] he been disposed to have this way given check to Wic­kedness, he would assuredly have ordain'd that Sinners should have been kept from Sacraments till they became reform'd in their manners, especially since he had before appointed or ordain'd Elders in the same Church, 1 Cor. 6. v. 5. and had corrected the Abuses, the miss-celebration in the Lords Supper. But perhaps we may have more to say to this hereafter.

XXXVII. As we find no mention made of Excommu­nication in the receiving and celebrating this Sacrament, so neither doth any thing of that nature appear in its In­stitution; nor indeed hath the Scripture taken any no­tice thereof in her Explications of the use and ends of Sacraments: Whereas had Sacraments been given to the Church for this, as well as other ends and purposes, that they should have been for Penalties upon Offences and Offenders, some mention must needs have been of it. The end and designes of this Institution of the Lords Supper, are, That we may commemorate in the most solemn man­ner the Death of our Lord: That we may pay our Ho­mage in a publick Recognition and Thankfulness, for the Deliverance he hath purchased for us: That we may re­mind our selves, and by our presence bear testimony to others, that we have no other Food of Life, but a Cruci­fied Saviour; no other Drink, but his Bloud poured out for us: That we may declare our selves as well penitent for our past course of Life, as that we have enter'd upon thoughts and resolutions of a better; and that we em­brace the Christian Doctrine, are the Members of Christ, belong unto his Church, in which we desire piously and religiously both to live and die. Has the Scripture any­where prohibited any man from performing these things? But, you may perhaps say, Some men have too frequently relaps'd to their former bad courses, and become not one whit the better. I answer, He that by the aid and im­pulse [Page 29] of the Holy Spirit hath the thoughts of his heart right at the time of his receiving, the Scripture turns him not away; but God only knows whether and how long he will hold on his good purposes and resolutions. 'Tis our duty to hope always the best of all men, however we may sometimes be mistaken: nay, we ought to ad­dress our hearty Prayers to God, that he would vouchsafe to strengthen and confirm both us and them in all true Religion and Virtue. But still the sinner is to be told of his faults, is to be reprehended, admonished, and advised, that he may so try himself, that (as the Apostle cautions) he eat and drink not Damnation to himself.

XXXVIII. Lastly, Whether are the Sacraments (ei­ther for the authority of their Institution, or the intrin­sick dignity of their nature) of greater worth than the Word, that Word of God which Christ preached? or is there more necessity of the use of those, than of this? None without the Word, can or could be saved; but who can doubt but that many have been, and yet may be sa­ved, without the Sacraments, (especially the Lords Sup­per) provided they are not contemners of them? The Apostle seems to have thought so too, when he says he was not sent to baptize, but to preach the Word. Do not almost all men say that the Word is plain and visible, and sets before our eyes what words signifie to our ears? Why do we therefore make no attempts to shut any out from the Word, but do it from the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist; and that contrary unto (or at least much beside the interest of) Gods express Command? Do they say 'tis because the Word is for all, but that the Sacra­ments were instituted onely for Converts to the Word? I know all that, and speak not therefore of Turks and Pa­gans, such as never came within the Churches Pale, but of such as God hath called and ingrafted into his Church, such as own the Doctrine, and desire (at least to all out­ward [Page 30] appearance) to be worthy partakers of these Sacra­ments.

XXXIX. Hitherto have I strongly demonstrated, that there is no word or instance, no footstep or president to be found either of Christs, or among his Apostles, of such Chastizements, or rather Restraints and Coertions put upon wicked men. Since therefore neither the Old nor New Testament hath commanded this sort of punishing, but the clean contrary is often found in both of them, we may justly think this Excommunication (as far, I mean, as it excludes men from the use of the Sacraments for im­probity of Life, and vitiousness of Morals) rather an In­vention of Man, than any Law of God. It remains there­fore, that we examine what those who oppose us have to say for themselves; and to convince the World, that all that they say has nothing of proof or force in it.

XL. They tell you of a Precept, Mat. 18. 15, 16, 17. and in St. Paul's Epistle they tell you too of an Example or In­stance of that kind, 1 Cor. 5. 3, 4, 5. and 1 Tim. 1. 19, 20. We will take them in order; and first for that in Matthew.

XLI. 'Twas not the designe of Christ in that Chapter of St. Matthew to set up any new Model of Government, or form of putting Excommunications in execution, but to instruct his Disciples how they should avoid giving of fence or scandal in the matter of righting themselves in private Injuries done them: for since they who flie pre­sently to the Magistrate to right them (especially where the Magistrate, as was that the Jews were then under, is an Heathen and prophane) do often give occasion of of­fence and scandal thereby to the weak. He first exhorts and advises them, that they rather forgive Injuries, than run to the Magistrate upon every slight occasion. Thus far doth he nothing but call to their minds that Precept of Moses, Lev. 19. 17. (which Ecclus 19. 13. hath a little more fully paraphras'd): After this, he directs, that if [Page 31] they are necessitated to resort to the Magistrate for redress, that yet they should not (if they would avoid scandal) accuse their fellow-brethren the Jews, before the Roman Judicatures, till their own Magistrates fail'd in doing them Justice. The like Precept hath St. Paul given, 1 Cor. 6. 1, &c. (which place is a kind of Comment upon this) that is to say, that Christians go not to Law with Christians before the Unbelievers. This therefore is the true and genuine sense of this of St. Matthew: If thy Brother (that is a Jew) trespass against thee, try to make up the matter betwixt your selves alone; but if alone you cannot do it, try what may be done by the Arbitrement and Mediation of two or three of your Brethren (the Jews still); and if this way you have not a just satisfaction and amends made you, tell it to the Church, that is, to the Sanedrim, to the Magistrate of your own Religion and Nation; and if he refuse to hear him, if he stand not to the judgment of your own chief Judicatures, you may without just offence to any man, deal with him as with a Publican or Heathen that should do you any injury, and whom you cannot im­plead nor call before any other Authority but the Roman Tribunals.

XLII. That this is the proper and genuine Interpreta­tion of the place, is plain and evident from the whole tenor and series of the Discourse, but especially from the con­clusion of it, and from all its circumstances: For,

First, Christ talks not here of any enormous and pub­lick Transgressions which belong'd to Religion, and the Laws and Rites of their Nation, for these the Sanedrim or great Councils of the Jews were to redress; but his dis­course is of private wrongs, which every man had power for himself to remit. One manifest proof of the truth of what I say, may be, for that all the whole Oration runs in the singular number: If thy Brother shall trespass [...], a­gainst thee, go and tell him his faults between thee and [Page 32] him alone; and again, tell the Church, &c. and let him be to thee as an Heathen, &c. So Luke 17. v. 3. If thy Brother, [...], and v. 4. if he trespass against thee se­ven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent, thou shalt forgive him. We can no ways interpret [...], against thee, here, to be meant a­gainst the Church: For when 'tis after said, Tell it to the Church, the sence would be, O Church, tell it to the Church. And again, we can as little interpret it with thy privity and knowledge: for neither the sence of the words, nor the nature or circumstances of the discourse, will admit of such an Explication. For why am I requir'd to tell a man his fault betwixt me and him alone, if I was but as one privy to his Crime, and that he trespassed not privately and against me alone? Why should I not rather be enjoyn'd to take in them with me whom he directly in­jur'd, that they and I might reprove him together? But Christ gives not that scope and liberty to take others with me in my first Applications to my injuring Brother: And therefore 'tis plain, Christ speaks of Injuries done me by my Brother privately. But farther yet, how can the words of St. Luke [If he turn again to thee, thou shalt forgive him] be accommodated to this sence? Can we say that here, To thee, is put for, Thou being privy and conscious to the injury done by him? What must then the meaning be of, Thou shalt forgive him? Must we here also say, Thou shalt be privy and conscious to his forgive­ness? Did the prodigal son, Luke 15. 11. that sinn'd a­gainst Heaven, onely sin in the sight and privity of Heaven? 'Tis indeed plain enough in 1 Cor. 8. 12. that we sin a­gainst the Brethren, when we do a thing which may be­come a Stumbling block to them through their weakness. But this of St. Matthew is quite of a different nature; and truly the whole frame of this Discourse, and way of wor­ding it, can't allow us to expound it of any other than [Page 33] private wrongs; which every man has power and right in himself to remit and forgive: And if the Injurer re­pent him not of his own accord, this is to be done on the part of the Injured, to bring him to it.

Secondly, This is again proved, for that the Apostles of Christ did not otherwise understand him; as may be ga­ther'd from St. Peter's Question, v. 21. Whether his seven times forgiving his offending Brother would be enough? Peter could not be to learn, that he neither could nor ought to pardon an offence which concern'd others, or the whole Church.

Thirdly, The words Unto thee, v. 17. is a farther proof hereof. Christ doth not say, Let him be unto us, or unto others, or unto the Church; but let him be unto thee as a Publican, unto thee who art or hast been the injur'd man. Christ, though he address his discourse to all the Apostles equally, yet commands that the Wrong Doer be held for an Heathen and Publican by him alone who is the Sufferer thereby; and that too, not till the Church (that is, the lawful Magistracy of the Jews in their Sane­drim) had admonish'd him. Besides, he speaks not there of things which relate to the whole Church, or to any number of persons; but which relate to private men.

Fourthly, Christ speaks of such Trespasses which we are obliged to pardon as often as the Offender says, he re­pents. And that this Remission and Forgiveness trans­acted between two alone, puts an end to the Controver­sie, appears from these words, v. 19. Again, I say unto you, If two of you shall agree on earth, as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in Heaven. But an hanious and publick Offence, which concerns many persons, or perhaps the whole Church, may not be remitted by one alone. And here we may take notice by the by, of that Adverb again; whereby he intimates his having spoke before to the same purpose, though in different words.

[Page 34] Fifthly, Christ speaks of Trespasses and Offences which the actor of them is not asham'd of, or which he will not stick frankly to confess and own before any man. Had he spoke of Crimes of a deeper dye, which concern'd ma­ny, or the whole Church, 'twould be in vain to bring him to others that might bear witness (as 'tis v. 16.): for such an Action, if 'twere yet private, no Offender would avow it before witness, which might endanger him. But in all things here discoursed of, this gradual procedure recommended by Christ, must be observ'd; and therefore he speaks of private Injuries, which others have nothing to do with.

Sixthly, Christ speaks of such Offences which the Church, he here speaks of, doth not otherwise punish than by admonishing the Offender with bare words: for 'twould be needless to have added, If he hear not the Church, could an open punishment have redress'd the Offence.

Seventhly, The Parable that follows, v. 23. gives a clear proof to this matter; its conclusion being, that God will not forgive them their Trespasses, who from their hearts forgive not the Trespasses of a repenting Brother, without exacting farther pains or penalties upon him. But the Church (as some of our Adversaries tell us) ought not thus to forgive, but ought to keep them, at least for a time, from the Sacraments, till they shall have given testimony of their Repentance to Elders surrogated and appointed for that purpose: So that such a Church will not seven times a day forgive them that say they repent, but will see the argument and proof of that Repentance; things which Christ says not a word of: he requires no farther argument than the Confession of the Fault; which scarce any man will have occasion to repeat seven times a day, who hath not plaid the Hypocrite in some, or all, of the former six.

[Page 35] We have, I think, from all this evidently prov'd, that Christ in this 18th Chapter of St. Matthew, speaks nothing of Crimes that are to be redressed by Excommunications, but of light and private Injuries, and the way and means of making them up and reconciling them; and therefore belongs not to the business of Excommunication. If in­deed we do but well weigh the close of that Chapter, all doubt from hence must be at an end.

XLIII. He that can and will needs imagine that Christ in this 18th Chapter of St. Matthew, set up or instituted Excommunication, ought to shew in which of the words 'tis contain'd: If he cannot shew it any where there com­prized, 'tis to no purpose to say 'tis there commanded. But if it be there, it must either be in these words, v. 17. Tell it unto the Church: or in these, Let him be to thee as an heathen and a publican: or lastly, in these, v. 18. What­soever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven, &c. But I doubt not to prove it with most unanswerable Ar­guments, that none of these words comprize any such mat­ter; and since it can be found in no other, 'tis lost labour to enquire here after it.

XLIV. These words of Christ, Tell it unto the Church, prove no more than this, that he who has been injur'd by his Brother, and all his endeavours of reconciliation with him have been ineffectual, may honestly and lawfully com­plain of him to the Church, or to the Governours and Ru­lers of the Church. And further, that this same Church hath a right and authority to reprehend and admonish the Wrong Doer, that he cease from being so: But no more of power is here given to the Church, than (v. 17.) was before given to the one or two Witnesses, excepting onely in this, that the Cause is not to be brought before the Church without the Witnesses. Is it not therefore a weak way of reasoning, to say, The Church has power to ad­monish him that trespasses against his Brother; therefore [Page 36] has she power to excommunicate him, or to deb [...] him the Sacrament? But now, some may perhaps urge, that the Church not having a Right or Authority of punishing the guilty with Death and other corporal punishments, she is necessitated to have recourse to this way of deny­ing them the Sacrament. But I answer, Were the Ante­cedent as true (as indeed from both the old Testament, from the History of all Ages, from what our own Eyes and Senses tell us, we are assured 'tis quite otherwise) no such consequence could be drawn from it; nor can it be ever proved that these things have any necessary coherence one with another: The Church hath not the power of the Sword, she can't kill and slay; therefore may she, must she, drive from the Sacrament those who own and profess the same Religion, the same saving Faith; she must drive from that Sacrament that was instituted for, and ought to be open and common to all that outwardly profess the same Faith.

XLV. If yet our Adversaries think Excommunication to have been instituted in these other words, Let him be to thee as an heathen man and a publican, I utterly deny it: Nether can it by any Art or Rhetorick, Perswasion or Argument whatever, be demonstrated whilst the world stands, that this form of Speech, Let him be to thee as an heathen man and a publican, should tantamount to this, Let him be excommunicate, let him be kept from the Sa­crament: for even in the days of Christ, the circumcised Publicans, were they Jews or Gentiles, were not prohi­bited the Temple, Sacrifices, Rites, Ceremonies, and Sa­craments. And truly Christ may seem to have joyn'd the Publican with the Heathen, to prevent all thoughts and suspition of his here interdicting them such Rites and Sa­craments How could the Publicans by the Jewish Law be shut out from the Temple, and from worshipping God there, when 'twas not so much as a sin to be a Farmer or [Page 37] Collector of Taxes and Tribute-money; nor found to be any where prohibited by God? Sure 'tis, that Christ no­where forbad it. When the Publicans askt John what they must do to be saved, he doth not bid them quit their Employments; but directs them, Luke 3. 13. not to ex­act more than that which was appointed them. And, Luke 19. 5. Christ doth not order Zacheus (the Chief among the Publicans) to lay down his Office, nor finds any fault with him on account of his Employ: and the Publican that, Luke 18. 10. went up into the Temple to pray, and return'd to his house more Justified, in the judg­ment of Christ, than the Pharisee; we do not read that he left off being a Publican; nor those others who, Luke 7. 29. and Luke 15. 7. justified and praised God, and were dear and intimate with Christ and his Apostles. In short, I say, that the Holy Writ, that is, God hath not at any time or place condemn'd, or any ways spoke against Publicans for their very being Publicans, that is, Tax-ga­therers; which all sober men will voluntarily grant me. Upon which Concession, I argue thus: God in Scripture condemns not a Publican as a Publican. Now whom God condemns not, he cannot be excommunicated by any Law of God; therefore no Publican could by the Law of God be prohibited access to the Temple, or to Di­vine Worship. I therefore make this conclusion: No Pub­lican could by the Law be condemned or excommunica­ted; but Christ commands that he that neglects to hear that Church which he there speaks of, should be to him as a Publican: therefore he wills, that he should be to him as a man who was not by the Law of God accursed, that is, not barely for his being a Publican. And where­as these Excommunication-men say, that the words, Let him be to thee as a Publican, signifie as much as if he had said, Let him be to thee as a Publican is to the Pharisees; 'tis both absurd, false, and impossible: for 'tis in no sort [Page 36] [...] [Page 37] [...] [Page 38] credible, that Christ in the same place in which he de­sign'd to institute (as our Adversaries will have it) a thing of that weight and moment, and so beneficial and necessary to the Church, should or would make the wic­ked action of most profligate men, the Rule and Measure for all the World to go by afterwards. Besides, it hath been already prov'd, that no man was ever excommunica­ted by the Jews, after the rate that we now talk of Ex­communication. And lastly, all the words of Christ are inconsistent with this their interpretation: for Christ here talks neither of, nor with the Pharisees, but all is betwixt him and the Disciples, and the subject of the discourse is of avoiding Scandals; and this is the thing that Christ says, If the Wrong Doer neglect to hear the Church, let him be to thee, that is, he is to thee, as a Publican; to thee, not to the Pharisees. Moreover, 'tis plain that Christ and his Disciples, and other good men, had no hatred for the Publicans; most certainly they never thought them to deserve Excommunication, but did dayly eat and live with them. And in that Christ joyns the Heathen and Publican together, we must needs acknow­ledge that Christ speaks of a matter common to them both: therefore these words, Let him be to thee as a Pub­lican, must have quite another meaning from these, Let him be to thee as an excommunicate person. This there­fore must be the meaning of the place: If he neglect to hear the Church, you may (as to this matter) proceed against him without offence or scandal to any man, as if you had to do with an Heathen man or a Publican. Now he that had a Controversie with any such, was forced to submit his Cause to the Roman Magistracy; (which is plain, as to the Heathens alone: and that 'twas so for the Publicans, may easily appear, for that they were the sworn Officers of the Romans, even against their own Nation; and for that also, that they could expect scarce common Justice from [Page 39] the Pharisees and Chiefs of the Jews, who accounted them the most despicable and profligate of mankind.) But Christ allowed not this Appeal to the Roman Magistrate a­gainst a Brother-Jew, till he had endeavoured a Recon­ciliation that way which Christ proposed, and which had before been prescribed them by the Law. St. Paul's ex­cuse for himself, in the last of the Acts, looks much the same way, to wit, that he had never appeal'd unto Caesar had he not been constrain'd; nor did he it to accuse the Jews, but defend himself from violence and wrong. The Apostle, 1 Cor. 6. 1. commands, that if any Christian had a matter against another, he should decide it before the Saints, and not presently go to law before the unjust: But if a Christian had just cause of Action against an Infidel, what doubt is there, but that he might prosecute his Right before an Heathen Magistrate? So if any one did neglect or despise the Sentence, Judgment, and Admonitions of the Elders of the Church, he that was the Sufferer, the in­jur'd person, might without offence to his Neighbour, ap­peal unto the Heathen Magistrate.

XLVI. But we shall handle this matter with the more perspicuity, if we take into examination what, and of what nature that Church was, which Christ commanded the injur'd person to tell it unto: in the clearing of which, I lay this for the entrance and foundation; which I doubt not but all men will allow of, and I know none that ever denies it, (viz.) That Christ speaks of a Church that was then in being; how could he otherwise have bid them tell it to a Church which was then nowhere to be found, and of which, and of its nature and constitution, they as yet heard nothing? Had he design'd the raising a new Church, or new form of Government as yet unknown to the Apostles, he had deliver'd them but a very lame Insti­tution, for that he neither told them who were that Church, nor how, nor of what sort or number of men it [Page 40] was to be made up of, nor the ways of their judicial pro­ceedings, nor what penalties they might inflict, and the like: Neither did he speak of all kind of sins, as I have before proved; and even they who build their Excom­munication upon this Text, are forc'd themselves to confess as well as we (for they openly own) that Christ took notice here onely of private Trespasses. But whenever Christ made any new Institution, he omitted nothing that was requisite to its being and subsistency: here he onely says, Tell it unto the Church; and if he neglect to hear her, he gives the Complainant liberty to look on him as a Publican: here's no penalty annext to the Contumacy. St. Luke when he sets down the same passage, recounts it not with all those particularities as St. Matthew does. The other two Evangelists make not the least mention of it; who yet would scarce have pass'd over a matter of such moment and necessity, had they known that Christ had then first made any such new Institution. To which we may adde, that the Apostles were all along firmly perswa­ded that Christ should not die, or change the Jewish Rites; nor did they here, by word or otherwise, declare them­selves not to understand what Christ here taught them, or shew any forwardness to ask farther after it, or to wonder, as if he had told them an unusual and unheard of piece of Doctrine. Peter onely wondered at this, that he was re­quir'd to forgive his Brother so many times together: Surely therefore they never took these words of Christ to be institutive of a new form of Government, which they had never dreamt of before, but believed themselves to be taught (as truly they were) when and for what they might without offence and scandal, accuse or implead a Brother Jew before an Heathen Magistrate. And at this day 'tis rarely seen that Jews go to law with Jews before Christian Judges.

XLVII. But if any ask me whether and how then can [Page 41] this Precept reach all men? whether it be of farther use than for those alone that live under an Unchristian Magi­stracy? my answer is, That the first part of it, of labouring a Reconciliation before we appeal to the Magistrate, or go to law about the matter, belongs to all Christians; but the latter is of no force or use, but where true Professors live under an Unchristian or Antichristian Magistrate. St. Paul, 1 Cor. 6. v. 1. & 4. therefore advises the Corin­thians to chuse out some among themselves who may judge such Controversies betwixt man and man, that they GO NOT TO LAW BEFORE THE ƲNIƲST, that is, the Heathen Roman Judges. Who doubts but that the Corinthians might lawfully have conven'd a Christian Brother that had injur'd them, before the Roman and Gentile Tribu­nals, if he had refused to stand to the Determination of those who were chose from among themselves to judge on such occasions, or if he mended not upon their Sentence? 'Tis certain, that St. Paul, when he saw himself hardly pres­sed by the Jews, appealed unto Caesar, Acts 25. 11. which, Acts 28. 19. he excuses to those Jews that lived at Rome. But he that shall carefully compare Lev. 19. with Ecclus 19. and 1 Cor. 6. with this Chapter of St. Matthew, will be able much more clearly and easily to un­derstand this whole matter, and may observe how well all hangs together; especially if he diligently note the latter part of Christ's and of St. Paul's words, which were just­ly omitted in Moses and Ecclesiasticus, there being then no occasion for them, for that the Jewish Nation was not then subject to any forreign Power, as they were in our Saviour's and St. Paul's time to the Roman Empire.

XLVIII. And thus far, as I conceive, all will easily a­gree that Christ spoke of a Church which was then in be­ing, I mean, the Church in Judea; but quickly shall we be divided again in our enquiry what Christ understood by the word Church: for sometimes it is put for the whole [Page 42] Congregation or Multitude gathered together; sometimes for the Senate, Council, or Elders, which were its Gover­nours. Thus find we the Hebrew words to signifie a Church, Company, or Congregation, (as Num. 35. 24, 25. Josh. 20. 6. Psal. 82. 1. and elsewhere) which the Sep­tuagint renders by the word [...], a Congregation. Now there are Arguments of no little weight, to induce us to conclude, that Christ in this passage of St. Matthew, would not have us understand by the word Church, the Multi­tude or Congregation of People, but the Jewish Senate or Council, called sometimes [...] for, first, 'tis evident that Christ did not innovate any thing in the forms of Judicature or Government which were admini­stred agreeable to the Law; nor did he himself, or per­mitted his Disciples to do any thing contrary to what Moses had rightly instituted by Gods command. Now Moses did ordain, that such Suits and Controversies should be decided not by the Multitude, but by the Senate or Sanedrim of such and such places; which at first was held at the Gates of each City, where the Elders sate to judge. Had Christ thought of introducing any thing here con­trary to the Institution of Moses, his Disciples must needs have been highly moved at it, who were all their lives strict observers of the Law. Let every man think with himself what dust and Triumphs the Pharisees would have rais'd, could they have in truth fixt so criminal an Action upon him, that he in opposition to the Law of Moses, had stir'd up the People against the Magistrate! what fairer pretext could they have wish'd to lay Sedition to his charge, than by proving upon him this attempt, to set up the People against the Magistrate, contrary to Gods de­termination? to commit to them the Examination of Witnesses? to give them a power to convene whom they would before them? to grant them cognizance of Gauses, and power of Judicature? Secondly, Christ commanded [Page 43] to tell it unto that Church, which had power to send for and call before them the party accused; which might hear the Cause, which might examine Witnesses, (and there­fore he commands us in the second place to take two or three, that the Fact may be competently prov'd) and lastly, which might pronounce their Sentence and Judge­ment in the case. But every one must know, that these things could not be done by the Croud, the Multitude, without chusing some set persons who might manage and moderate matters. (It must be a very small Congrega­tion, a very handful of men, who could be able of them­selves, without the Elders, to dispatch such Causes: for which reason some have rightly judg'd that this Precept of Christ could not hold well, could be of little or no use, but when the Church consisted of very few Members.) But now since that they who thus preside in these Affairs, are in very truth nothing but the Senate, the Sanedrim, the Sessions of the Elders; it again follows, that Christ commanded not to tell it unto the Multitude, but to the Council or Sanedrim: and truly in Christ's time the Peo­ple had not the power of chusing their Magistracy and Go­vernours. We must needs therefore by the word Church understand the Jewish Senate or Council; as 'tis plain the Disciples did, from what has been already said. Therefore if the meaning of the Church there, be all the Members of it, the People; we are then to tell it unto a Church which has right and authority to make choice of such a Senate or Council as was that of the Jewish Church; but our Churches have no power to chuse such a Council as the Jewish Sanedrim was: nay, in Christ's time the Jews themselves had not that liberty, as I told you just now. We might adde, that when the Scripture speaks of the Multitude, it generally uses the words People, Multitude, Children of Israel, or the like comprehensive words; but when any thing is related to be said or done in the Syna­gogues, [Page 44] or in all the Congregation. I need not tell you that this form of speech is usual at this very day: for we say, we have communicated the matter to such a Kingdom or State, when we have acquainted onely the King, Senate, or Governing part of such State or Kingdom: We re­count how this or that Nation has rewarded a man, when the Representatives onely in such a Dyet or Parliament hath been liberal-handed to them. 'Tis so common a thing to use phrases of this nature, that 'tis wonderful so few should have observ'd it.

But the sum of all is this: Christ alter'd not the Customs of his time, nor introduced any Novelties or Changes in­to their Courts of Judicature, or Measures and Ways of Judging; nor do his Disciples betray any suspition of In­novation or Alteration: and therefore his Command is to acquaint the Sanedrim, before their denier resort to the Heathen Magistracy.

XLIX. Now, 'tis evident from Holy Writ, (as well as other History) that the Sanedrim was the legal Magistracy of the Jewish Nation, and that in Christ days they both kept and us'd the power of the Sword. Many things in the Narratives of the Passion of Christ, besides other Te­stimonials, evince as much: They send armed men to take Jesus; they proceed in examining Witnesses, as the Law requir'd (at least they pretended so); they command him to be set before them in Judgment; they delivered him bound to Pilate, after they had first publickly con­demn'd him: they openly condemn Stephen, and com­mand him to be stoned: they seize the Apostles, and put them in the common Prison; they cause them to be bea­ten, after a general Consult held about them: they give Letters and authority to Paul to bring any that he found of that way, bound to Jerusalem for to be punished. The Jews themselves, with the Elders and High Priest, that is, the Sanedrim, say it in express terms, by their Speaker Tertul­lus; [Page 45] who accusing Paul before Foelix, Acts 24. v. 2. adds, v. 6. That they took him, and would have judg'd him ac­cording to their Law, but that Lysias came upon them, and with great violence took him away out of their hands. And Acts 23. v. 3. says Paul to the High Priest, Sittest thou to judge me after the Law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the Law? And afterwards, Acts 26. v. 10. Paul confesses before King Agrippa and Festus, that many of the Saints he shut up in prison, having received authority from the Chief Priests; and when they were put to death, he gave his voice against them, and punished them often in every Synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and farther, persecuted them into strange Cities; still acting under the authority derived from the High Priests, as when he was going to Damascus by their Commission, v. 12. I can't imagine but that Agrippa, and Festus too, knew well enough whether it was lawful or not for their Council to do so; and sure they would not have acquit­ted him in the manner they did, v. 34, & 35. had not the Authority he had been committed by, been warrantable: for Paul should have offended no less against Caesar, than against the Pharisees. For he who doth an unlawful act by the permission and command of them who have no right nor authority to permit and command, transgresses no less than they that command it: but no such thing is charg'd upon the Accusers or Accused; but Paul is fully acquitted, as one that hath done nothing worthy of death or of bonds. And had not the Jewish Sanedrim had this authority and liberty then lest them, Pilate could not have said to them, Joh. 18. 31. Take ye him, and judge him ac­cording to your law: And when they answer, that it was not lawful for them to put any man to death; this must be understood either (as St. Augustin interprets it) at the time of that Festival, for fear of the People, or (as St. Chrysostom expounds it) of that kind of Death which [Page 46] they desired that Christ should die. With which latter Opinion, the words of St. John which immediately fol­low, very well agree, to wit, That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die. To the same purpose is that of Mat. 26. 55, 56. where Christ says, I sate dayly with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold no me; but all this was done, that the Scri­ptures of the Prophets might be fulfilled. They took him therefore at a time when, by reason of the Feast then at hand, and for fear of the People, they could not put him to death: vid. Mat. 26 5. and Mark 14. 2. Since there­fore they could not bear that he should live any longer, and they could not well take his life away themselves, it follows of course, that he must be deliver'd into the hands of the Romans; that so all things which he had, (Mat. 24.) foretold his Disciples, might be fulfilled; as the words of St. John intimate, and as Augustine and Chrysostom a­gree: And those Cries and Vociferations of the People, Crucifie him, crucifie him, give farther Testimony to this Interpretation.

L. By what has been said, the falsity of that Affirmation is apparently detected, which says, that the Sanedrim had not the power of the Sword, that is, the authority of Life and Death; and that Stephen was ston'd tumultuously by the Rabble, and not by Decree of the Council. For I think I have proved beyond all contradiction, that such a Pow­er they had; and for St. Stephen's case, 'tis clear, that he was not tumultuously slain, for that Acts 6. 12. he was so­lemnly brought and accused before the Council; Wit­nesses were produced, though false ones, v. 13. they car­ried him out of the City; and those Witnesses, as the Law provides, cast the first stones at him, as may be easily ga­ther'd from their laying down their Clothes at Saul's feet, v. 58. The same too may be as fully proved out of other Histories: for Josephus in his fourteenth book of the Anti­quity [Page 47] of the Jews (ch. 12. 16, & 17. according to the Greek Copies) tells us, That the Romans gave liberty to all Na­tions, and by name to the Jews who dwelt in or out of Judea, to use their own Laws in things relating to Reli­gion, and to live freely according to their own Rites and Customs. And in that twelfth Chapter he quotes Strabo for his Author, that he (writing of the City Cyrene) says, they had there a President or Chief Ruler who heard and decided their Causes, and transacted all affairs, as ab­solutely as if they had been an Independent State. That also makes farther for us which we read, Acts 18. 15. of Gallio the Deputy of Achaia; where he tells them, that if it be a matter of their Law, they may look to it. The same Josephus, lib. 16. ch. 4, & 5. recounts how Herod had obtained of Agrippa, that the Jews in Asia might have the freedom of enjoying the Priviledges before that time indulg'd them by the Romans. I take occasion to remem­ber this, because some object that Herod destroy'd and slew all the Sanedrim, and stript them of all Authority; as if none had succeeded those that were kill'd: How likely is it that Herod should take from them in Jerusalem that power of judging in matters relating to Religion, and de­termining therein according to their Law, who endea­vour'd to procure and preserve the same to all the other Asiaticks? Besides, the time of Christ's preaching fell not under Herod or Archelaus, but under the Government of Pilate: 'Tis certain that the Jews forced even Pilate himself to send again out of the City the Roman Standards (which he had caused to be privately introduc'd) to prevent the breach of Gods Commands of suffering any Image in the City. And that they reserv'd and continued this Power to themselves, to the very destruction of Jerusalem, may be clearly gathered from Josephus his Oration to the Besie­ged; The Romans, says he (in his fifth Book of the Wars of the Jews, ch. 26.) exact Tribute of us, for that our [Page 48] Forefathers have a long time been wont to pay it to theirs: If in this you comply, they'll neither sack this our City, nor meddle with our Temple, but leave both you, your Goods, and Families free, and the free use and enjoyment of your sacred Laws. Titus himself, after his having ta­ken the City, said almost the very same to the Jews, lib. 6. chap. 34. Whether therefore we consult the Holy Writ, or the Jewish History, 'tis an undoubted truth, that that Sa­nedrim which Christ commanded to tell it unto, had the power of the Sword, the power of Life and Death, espe­cially over those who sin'd against their Religion: (for in Civil matters, and Causes of Right and Wrong, where the Law had not specified the Punishment, I do not question but that the Romans encroached and usurp'd, if not all, yet most of them, to themselves, as is easily discernable out of History, and may well be conjectur'd out of Acts 18. v. 12.)

LI. And 'tis no ways repugnant to what we have said, that in Josephus his Antiquities of the Jews, some of them tell Albinus, that it was not lawful for the High Priest to call the Sanedrim or Council, without his leave: For he there, as an Historian, relates what others did; not that he applauds or approves of the Fact thereby. Besides, peradventure the High Priest during the interregnum, that is, whilst Albinus (after the death of Festus) was no his Journey thither, ought not to summon a Court for a mat­ter of that weight and moment, till the new Governour confirm'd him in that Authority: for he had procur'd that James the Lords Brother (who was vulgarly sirna­med the Just) should be put to death; who being a per­son well belov'd by all, many took it very ill at his hands: for he was but newly got to that Dignity, and not ap­prov'd of, or confirm'd in it by the Roman Governour. And Eusebius, in the second of his Ecclesiastical History, chap. 23. tells us, that this High Priest snatcht at this oc­casion [Page 49] of the interregnum. But what's all this to our pur­pose? Was not Archelaus, who was stiled King in his Fa­ther Herod's last Will (and that by the Allowance and Gift of Caesar) was he not therefore King, because he re­fus'd the Name and Authority of a King, till he had Cae­sar's confirmation for it? And not the Magistrates of some Cities (of which there are many in Germany) who are subject to some particular Prince, not true and lawful Ma­gistrates, because on the death of the Prince they are re­quir'd to pray the Confirmation of their Priviledges from the Successor? But now that the High Priest had power, after his Confirmation, to convoke the Judges of the Sane­drim, is clear enough, for that they do not say to Albinus, that this summoning them was in it self unlawful, but that it ought not to have been done by him, without the appre­bation and privity of Albinus.

LII. It has now been fully and solidly prov'd, that, Tell it unto the Church, signifies no more than Tell it unto the Magistrate of thy People (or who is of the same Religion with thy self) before you implead your Brother in the Heathen Courts, as St. Paul, 1 Cor. 6. 5. hath incompa­rably expounded it; where he commands them for this cause to chuse persons out of themselves to judge and ar­bitrate their Quarrels. But now who doubts but that this Precept holds not, where God hath blessed us with a pi­ous Christian Magistracy, a Magistracy of the same Reli­gion with our selves? Indeed St. Augustine, in the second Chapter of Faith and Works, plainly enough informs us, that he accounted Excommunication supplied the place and defect of the visible Sword, when the Church wanted that external aid: for, as he would have it, Moses his pu­nishing Transgressors with Death, and Phineas his slaying the Adulterers, did typifie and prefigure the punishing evil men by Degradations and Excommunications; that is, at such time as the material Sword, the Civil Temporal [Page 50] Power, should be wanting in the Church. I remember that some Modern Writers hold, that the Jews had and retain'd this Custom of Excommunicating, because the Sword was taken from them; (which I have prov'd by irrefragable Reason, Argument, and Testimonies, to be utterly false:) but were it but thus far true, it must ne­cessarily follow, that there's no occasion for Excommuni­cation in such a Church which hath the Civil Authority of its side: Nor is it requir'd as a thing obligatory to us, to chuse Judges or Arbitrators, other than the lawful Ju­dicatures of the Land. Be it how it will, nothing can be more certain, than that the word Church in this passage of Matthew signifies nothing less than a Church-Senate, a Council of Clergie-men or Ecclesiasticks, endowed with a Faculty, a Right or Power to shut out whom they please from the Sacraments.

LIII. Two Objections yet remain: First, How any one can be said to neglect to hear the Church, if that and the Civil Magistrate, who hath the power of the Sword, are the same thing? Secondly, How that passage of bin­ding and loosing, Mat. 18. v. 18. suits with this matter? To the first, the Answer is intimated before, That the Jews had not then power of judging in all matters, but almost every thing that related not to Religion, belong'd to the Roman Judicatures: And therefore Christ permits, that if any one neglects or contemns the Authority of the Sane­drim in such matters, the injur'd person may prosecute his Right before the Heathen Magistrate; in like manner as if he were to sue an Heathen or Publican. Besides, many cases may occur, which the Law had not provided a di­stinct and proper punishment for, or had not prohibited under any penalty at all; in which case it may well be, that the Offender may be dismist without more ado than a verbal chiding or admonition. Now if the Wrong Doer does not yet leave wronging him, the party injur'd may [Page 51] seek farther satisfaction, and may again and again apply himself to the Church or Magistrate to punish the other's obstinacy: But though this Answer hold true, yet the for­mer seems, in my mind, more apposite and suitable to the purpose and designe of Christ, as well as to the several cir­cumstances of time and place, and the like.

LIV. To the second, there is as little difficulty in fra­ming it an Answer: for since the manner of speaking is the same, and almost the self-same words are here repeated which are used by Christ, Mat. 16. 19. 'tis necessary that they signifie either the same thing, or something very like it; but in Mat. 16. 19. to bind and to loose signifies no­thing else but to preach the Gospel; whereby he that be­lieves in it, is loosed from Sin and from Death: and there­fore can signifie here no more than the desiring his Brother to leave injuring him, and rather to become good and affe­ctionate to him; this being a thing acceptable unto God, and he will surely punish those that break this great Com­mandment of Love and Charity. Now he that thus wins upon his Brother by soft advice and entreaties to forbear wronging him, and urging to him the revealed Will of God, and what Wrath he has in store for them that thus offend; if his Admonitions have their effect, he hath gained his Brother, that is, he hath loosed him: if they return unsuccessful, he is still bound, the Wrath of God remains upon him, in like manner as it doth upon him who having heard the Word of the Gospel preached unto him, believes or disbelieves it. But now that we might be ready and forward to forgive them that repent, Christ labour'd to perswade us to it by that most apposite Parable of the Kings taking account of his servants, which he subjoyn'd to this passage; whereby Christ's meaning and purpose is mightily cleared, as to the sence we have put upon it be­fore.

LV. I cannot but infinitely wonder, how or why some [Page 52] men do here expound this binding or loosing by driving men from the Sacraments, and readmitting them thither a­gain, when throughout the whole Bible these words are never put for any such matter, and the Apostles have neither by word or otherwise discover'd that they under­stood Christ in such a sence. There is extant a Precept of Christ, that if any refused to receive the Gospel, they should depart out of that house or City, shaking off the dust of their feet against them, Luke 10. 11. Mat. 10. 14. which they put in practice, Acts 13. 25. and 18. 6. But that they should deny any Sacrament to those that be­lieved the Word, and were baptized unto Christ, and embraced his Religion and Doctrine, we nowhere find it either enjoyned unto, or practised by them, as hath been before abundantly and firmly proved. But it may suf­fice at present to inform the World, that it can never be made out by Holy Writ, that Binding is put for Exclu­ding Believers from receiving the Sacrament; or Loosing to signifie a Readmission again of him who had been for his sins and contumacies debarr'd, and thus to re-engraft him as 'twere into the Church anew.

LVI. Thus have I firmly and truly prov'd, that Christ in Mat. 18. 19. treats not of Exclusion from Sacraments, but of the charitable management and composure of pri­vate Injuries between fellow-brethren, men professing the same Faith. But others have seen this before, as well as I; as St. Augustine in his sixteenth Sermon upon St. Mat­thew; and Theophylact, who (as no body can otherwise doubt) borrowed this Opinion (as almost all he says be­sides) from Chrysostom. Among the more modern Di­vines, D. Johannes Brentius writes many things in his Comments upon this Chapter, very agreeable to what we have said.

LVII. 'Tis now requisite that I should shew that the action of St. Paul, 1 Cor. 5. 3, &c. is nothing of kin to this [Page 53] Excommunication. First, That Apostle appears to have been a strict observer of the Mosaick Law; against which (as he answers for himself, Acts 25. 8.) he had not at all offended: And, Acts 18. 18. and 21. v. 24, 26. it appears, that he with other of the Apostles, complied with the Ceremonies of the Law, and bore the Jews com­pany in keeping them; and was ill spoken of by the Con­vert Jews, not for teaching the Gentiles that the observa­tion of the Law was not requir'd of them, but for teaching the Jews which were among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, &c. whereas all the believing Jews that were in Judea, kept and were zealous of the Law, v. 20. But who knows not that Christ changed not the Law of Moses in that point of celebrating the Passover, which commands all to come who were circumcised? and therefore neither doth he keep back that incestuous person, nor any other, from communicating at the Lords Table, who would come and profess the Christian Faith. As to the Jews, 'tis a plain case, who would never have suffer'd such an Encroach­ment upon their Law, and their constant inveterate usage to the contrary: And who can well think that the Gen­tiles should be in worse circumstances than they, as to this purpose?

LVIII. But again, if the delivery to Satan was no more than a bare interdiction from the Sacraments till his repen­tance, why did Paul excuse himself to the Corinthians with all that care and niceness? Why did he so near re­pent him, as 'twere, of what he had done? (as we read he did, 2 Cor. 2. 4. and 7. v. 8.) Besides, why were the Corinthians so overwhelm'd with grief, if they already knew this to be the method and practice of the Church in punishing sinners, and that this was to be a lasting Dis­cipline for all successions of Ages? they should rather, me­thinks, have rejoyced that they had such a President and Pattern given them to walk by for the future. If it were [Page 54] but a spur to Repentance, and an wholsome and safe An­tidote against Damnation, why did their sorrows run so high? why were they not rather rejoyced? Christ tells us, that the Angels of God rejoyce more over the Con­version of one Sinner, than over ninety nine just persons. The Corinthians therefore could not have had the Spirit of Christ in them, had they conceiv'd such mighty sor­row on seeing the Apostle do this and no more, and bare­ly to recal an erring Brother into the right way again, and save him from that damnation he was pulling down upon his own head: But who can be so blind as not to see that the Apostle struck deeper than this comes to?

Thirdly, What need had the Apostle to write to them, 2 Cor. 7. 8. that he does not repent, though he did repent? or how indeed could he any ways repent him of what he had done, if his purpose was to have it put dayly in pra­ctice every where, and in all Churches? or if it were but a Temporary Seclusion from the Sacrament, and at longest but till his repentance?

Fourthly, What occasion was there that the Corinthians should use such earnest and powerful Intercessions with the Apostle on that Wretch's behalf, if they knew that upon his repentance he should straitway be admitted into their Fellowship again? But that they did earnestly en­treat for him, 'tis evident from the Apostles words, 2 Cor. 2. 10. To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your saeke forgave I it in the presence of Christ.

Fifthly, We find Paul in that second Chapter, v. 9. ex­cusing himself, that one of his aims was to know the proof of their Obedience; And in the seventh Chapter, v. 12. he tells them, he did it that his care for them in the sight of God, might appear to them. How could he have said or writ thus, if he had commanded them no greater a matter than that they should trun away such a one from the Sacrament?

[Page 55] Sixthly, How shall we ever make these words hang to­gether, Ye were made sorry in a godly manner (or with respect to God) that ye might receive damage by us in no­thing? 2 Cor. 7. 9. He tells them, they suffer'd no loss, damage, or detriment by that sorrow of theirs, for that their grief had been prevalent with him for the par­doning that unhappy Wretch: without this they had re­ceived loss, even the loss of that incestnous person. But pray what loss had it been to them, if he had been onely to be kept from the Sacrament till he repented?

Seventhly, Paul speaks not there of the Lords Supper, but of the whole Life of a Christian; and therefore his meaning must be, not to put him away from the Table of the Lord, but from among them, that is, out of the world▪ that that little Leaven might not vitiate the whole Mass. This is suitable to the Apostles phrase, and to the Figure of Lea­ven; but Excommunication cannot be easily accommo­dated either to his or Moses's words.

Eighthly, It must be observ'd, that he doth not say sim­ply, that they themselves, and they onely, when they are gathered together in the Name of the Lord, or according to Christs command, should deliver him to Satan, or de­prive him of the Sacrament; but, I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one to Satan, &c. Plainly in­timating, that the power of our Lord Jesus Christ was ne­cessary to intervene in this business; and therefore was a matter of greater moment than a Temporary Amotion from the Sacrament: Besides, he says, that he himself had already judged (though (perhaps by reason of his ab­sence) he determin'd not to do it without them) he doth not command the Church that they by themselves should [Page 56] do this, as if this were purely an Apostolical, not an Ec­clesiastical Power; an authority annexed to the persons of the Apostles, and not to any Church or other Order or Suc­cession of men: which are considerations not to be slurr'd over with slight and contempt.

Lastly, We do not any-where read that the Apostle commanded any single person, or number of men, to de­liver any one to Satan for the destruction of the Flesh, either whilst he lived, or when he should be dead and gone; well knowing, that this was appropriated to his A­postolick Power, and not to be delegated, not to be agree­able to any other or less Authority: for as they had the Power of Healing, so had they that of Wounding too, as appears, Acts 5. 5, 10. and 13. 11. for which reason we read not of any ordained by the Apostles, that are commanded to exercise this Extraordinary Power. And therefore the Apostle is ever and anon threatning them with his coming in power; with his being sharp and severe upon them; with his dealing with them according to the power given him by God; with his coming to them with a Rod, and the like: and commands to note those by Epistle that of­fend. This is not a thing given in charge to the Elders; that it may be without all controversie, that this Power was granted to the Apostles, and to none else. Of the same import is that which we read, 1 Tim. 1. 20. of Hy­menaeus and Alexander, whom Paul (not the Church, nor the Presbyters, nor any other persons whatsoever) deli­vered unto Satan.

LIX. I have hitherto, by way of Argument, and from Circumstances, clearly evinced, that 'twas a thing of a quite different nature, to deliver to Satan, and to shut out from the Sacrament. Now proceed I to demonstrate the same truth from the words themselves, and the pro­priety, tendency and nature of that whole passage: for,

First, The Apostle does not say, Why did ye not inter­dict [Page 57] this incestuous person the Lords Supper? but why have ye not mourned, 1 Cor. 5. 2. that is, why have ye not by Mourning and Prayers put up to God, besought that he that hath done this deed, might be taken away from among you, what way God shall best please? St. Au­gustine in his third book against Parmen. explains the place to the same sence; and the same way doth he expound what the Apostle, ch. 12. hath written of sorrowing. They also seem to be of St. Augustine's and Truth's side too, who suppose the Apostle to allude to 1 King. 21. & 9, & 12. From whence we may conjecture it to have been an ancient Custom among the Jews, to make inqui­sition after enormous crimes, by fasting, Prayers, and pub­lick mourning, that the same, when detected, might be brought to condign punishments as the Law requir'd. Therefore at that time when the Church was destitute of the Civil Authority, he admonishes them that they ought to address to God that he would (as might seem best to him) take him out of the way; which was a quite dif­ferent thing from that which we call excommunicating a man. But besides, by what competent Author can it be made out, that [...], To take away from among men, should be a phrase for debarring a man access to the Sacrament? In propriety of speech he is said è medio sub­latus, to be taken away from among men, who is any ways kill'd: for though a banished or exil'd person may in some sence be said to be driven away from among others, yet in propriety of speech, and as the Greeks commonly use it, 'tis not so taken by them, at leastwise 'tis not to be found in that sence in Holy Writ.

Secondly, But if the Apostles direction here be to have him discommon'd and thrust out of the Fellowship and Converse of the Faithful, what need was there of publick mourning? he should have been turn'd over and banisht to the Gentiles. But that's not consistent with that other [Page 58] Clause, That his Soul may be saved; which (at least on our Adversaries principles) could never be out of the pale of the Church. If you say he was onely debarr'd and re­moved from the Sacrament and private Commerce, he was not then è medio eorum sublatus; he was not taken away from among them: for I do not think any man able to make it out, that the Apostle order'd him to be kept from the Sacrament alone, and from private Conversation, Fa­miliarity, and Fellowship with them. This then is a mere addition, a forc'd sence upon the Apostles words, which cannot be prov'd ever to have enter'd into his thoughts. Truly I think that no man (who is vers'd in Scripture, and the most ancient Expositors of it) can doubt, but that the Apostle borrowed this passage, and the very words that he expresseth himself in, from Deut. 17. 10. ch. 19. 20. ch. 21. 7. ch. 22. 6, 11. ch. 24. 8. where Moses puts the words for cutting off the Offender by death, and for no­thing else; and in all the alleadged places, Moses keeps to the self-same words; Whereas in ch. 13. he puts [...] for [...], but both in the same sence. How is it therefore possible that [...], here should bear such a construction, viz. to excommunicate, (as Excommuni­cation now-a-days signifies?)

Thirdly, The Context seems to prove that this Offen­der did not persist in that piece of Wickedness: for in v. 2 & 3. of that fifth Chapter, 'tis, him that hath done this deed; which shews he had, not that he then did, do it. The Apostle therefore seems to designe the punishing him for the Fact that he had committed, agreeable to the Command of God, and to the Practice of every good Magistrate: And indeed when he says, v. 4. That the Spi­rit may be saved, &c. he seems to have been inform'd of his penitence: for how could he otherwise have written thus of a man who had given no proof how his Soul was touch'd for so enormous a Wickedness?

[Page 59] Fourthly, The Apostle tells them, he had determin'd or judg'd already to deliver such an one unto Satan, for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Are we to seek for the significa­tion of the word [...]? In what prophane Author, or in what place of Scripture, hath it a different sence from what 'tis here taken in, of giving, giving up, delivering, permitting, yielding, and the like? And here we have, first, the person giving him up, and the person to whom he was so given, and he that was given: Nay, 'tis over and a­bove added, why and for what purpose he was deliver'd up. And as to the form of speech, 'tis just as if I should say, I deliver over my Son to his Master, or I put him in­to such a Masters hands, for Instruction, or for Discipline. Who that should hear a man speak so, would not think that he put his Son into the Masters power, to be instructed or corrected by him? He that would have instances of this nature, let him turn to 1 Tim. 1. 19. Acts 27. 24. Mat. 5. 25. and ch. 18. 34. and ch. 27. 2. Mark 13. 9. John 19. 16. and that of Mat. 24. 9. they shall deliver you up to be af­flicted, is directly parallel: So Mark 13. 12. the Brother [...] shall deliver up (or as we render it, shall betray) the Brother to death. So 2 Pet. 2. 4. speaking of the Angels that sinned, he says, that God deliver'd them into chains of darkness to be reserv'd unto Judgment. In Job 2. 6. God says unto Satan, Behold, [...], I have deliver'd him to thee, or as we render it, he is in thine hand, onely save his life. Do not all these places tell us of a delivering up to be afflicted, to be killed, to be condemned, and the like? In short, none shall to the worlds end, be able to shew that ever this kind of phrase is used to signifie the excluding one from the Sacrament, unless the destruction of the Flesh here, and interdicting the Sacrament be the same.

Fifthly, 'Tis impossible to shew that this word, [...] [Page 60] destruction, is any where in the New Testament put for mortifying the Lusts of the Flesh; but where-ever 'tis found, 'tis put for the death of the Soul or Body (whe­ther the word Flesh be joyn'd with it or not). I might also say, that no extant Greek Author hath used it to that sence that some, as I have said, put upon it; but we keep to its acceptance in Scripture. The Apostle makes use of it in 1 Thess. 5. 3. and 2 Thess. 1. 9. and in 1 Tim. 6. 9. and the Verbal [...], we read in 1 Cor. 10. 10. as the Participle [...] in Heb. 11. v. 28. and the Compound [...], Acts 3. 23. taken by that holy Pen-man out of Deut. 18. 15. But in all these places Death and Destru­ction are thereby signified. The Septuagint do ordinarily use [...], which Pagninus generally renders exscindo, to cut off, or slay: 'tis certain they always mean Death by it. I know that which the Apostle [...], Rom. 8. 13. and [...]. Col. 2. 3. and Gal. 5. 12. and 6. 14. are put for mortification of the Fleshly Lusts. But for [...] and [...], they are not met with in that sence either in sacred or profane Authors; nor in truth do I remember my self to have read that [...] in the New Testament is so taken. 'Tis therefore a poor Evasion that some frame, supposing Paul here to distinguish betwixt the affections of the Flesh and the Spirit: Since he here sets the Destruction of the Flesh, or, which is all one, the Death of the Body, against the saving of the Soul or Spirit; as both the genuine sence of the words, the drift and purpose of Paul, the whole se­ries and circumstances of the Discourse, and the very word [...], to deliver, so unquestionably demonstrate, that any lover of Truth can't but sit down satisfied under the proof of it. But,

Sixthly, The following words, That the spirit may be sa­ved in the day of the Lord Jesus, that is, in the day of Judg­ment, give farther testimony to the truth of this Interpre­tation, and are a convincing demonstration, that the Apo­stle [Page 61] speaks of this wicked one, as of one whose death was at hand.

Seventhly and lastly, The word [...], 2 Cor. 2. v. 6. (which we translate Punishment, but ought rather to be rendered Censure) argues he was not expuls'd from the Sacrament: for in its primitive signification 'tis put for Chiding, Censuring, Reproving, or Rebuking, and the like, (as Interpreters commonly translate it) not for Pu­nishment, Mulct, or Penance. There are yet two more Reasons left us; the one, That the Interdicting from the Sacrament is nowhere in Scripture put for or ordained to be Punishment. The other, that the words themselves plainly shew, that 'tis here put for Chiding or Censure; which not one single person alone, but many used towards him: for, says St. Paul there, sufficient for such an one is this [...], this Censure (not as we read it, Punishment) which was inflicted of many. He absolves him from no­thing but those Comminations and Threats which many, or peradventure the whole Church, all the Corinthian Be­lievers, had denounced against him, That he should be de­livered over to Satan, to be by him buffeted, tormented, kill'd. He had yet therefore onely experienced their Threats: for Paul doth not absolve him of part, but of all that had as yet befallen him; and, as he says, this Cen­sure, these Threats and Ratlings that had been rounded in his ears, were sufficient. Nay, he plainly intimates with­al, that this was all that was done to him. We read of this word [...], Mat. 16. 22. ch. 17. 18. ch. 19. 13. ch. 20. 13. and in the other Evangelists; as also 2 Tim. 4. 2. (where [...] and [...], bear it company:) In all which places 'tis put for Reproof and Rebuking, or the like; but no­where for Punishment.

LX. But here now it may be askt me, If the incestuous person underwent no more than this [...], this Censure or Rebuke, how can he be said to have been deliver'd un­to [Page 62] Satan, to be tormented and slain by him? Some of the ancient Writers hold, that he was indeed deliver'd over to be tormented with Diseases, or the like, and so be gradu­ally brought to destruction; but was released and absolv'd aagain by the Apostle, before it had gone so far. If this Answer be true, I see not but [...] might here signifie Punishment, (as indeed our Translation has rendered it.) But now though I do not deny but that this is a passible Interpretation, yet I shall present you another as suitable to the Apostles words: St. Paul had not resolved to deli­ver this man to the Devil by himself alone, but had ra­ther have it done in a full Congregation, when the whole Body of Believers should be gather'd together for that purpose. But when once the Church saw this deplorable Creature so dejected and overwhelm'd with Sorrow, and that Grief had almost already given him the Death that they threatned, they reprieved him as 'twere, and deferr'd pronouncing the Sentence, till they might learn the Apo­stles pleasure, whether at their intercession he would re­mit the rigour of it, and restore him on his Repentance: which if they could not prevail with him to do, they threa­ten they will not longer be wanting in their Duty. Thus came it to pass that this poor Soul remain'd for some months under great Terrors and Agonies of mind, till he had re­ceiv'd the joyful intelligence of Paul's remitting the Pu­nishment. That the matter was manag'd much after this rate, may be plainly collected out of that second Epistle to the Corinthians.

LXI. From what has been already alleadg'd, as well as from what might yet be urg'd, 'tis so clearly and solidly demonstrated, that this delivering up to Satan was quite another thing from that which we now-a-days call Ex­communication, or Suspension from the Sacrament, that sure none but those who are as defective in understanding, as in love to the Truth, can have the face to deny it. I [Page 63] said just now, that some ancient Writers expounded this place as we do: Augustine (whose Testimony I cited be­fore) is one of them; there is another passage of his in his first Book, upon Christ's Sermon in the Mount, con­curring with us; as doth also Athanasius, and after him Chrysostom, and his Compiler Theophylact.

LXII. Let us now take a short survey of those other places, which our Opponents flie unto for their own de­fence. Some lay a stress upon that passage of St. Paul to Timothy, 1 Tim. 5. 17. Let the Elders that rule well, be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the Word and Doctrine: for hereby they fancy them­selves able to squeeze out a proof that there were some Elders who did not labour in the Word; and on these they bestow another Office, to wit, that of inspecting and censuring our Manners and Behaviour, of being Observa­tors of our sins and failings, of admonishing the Stubborn and Refractory, of certifying their fellow-Elders, that is (say they) the Church; and lastly, (in conjunction with these) of excommunicating such as hear not (or obey not) the Church.

LXIII. But we think it evident from the Writings of the Apostles Peter and Paul, that Ministers, Bishops, and Presbyters or Elders (if Office, Function, and Ministry be meant by those two last, and not their Age) were all the same in the Apostles time; and so that there was no Presbyter who was not a Teacher (or Preacher, as we now call them) that is, who did not labour in the Doctrine: unless any are desirous to stretch this word to those Judges and Arbitrators of Suits and Controversies mentioned 1 Cor. 6. 4. (But we talk not of them at present, since their Duty was of a quite different nature.) This Opinion of ours, which we think grounded upon apparent truth, hath both Hierom and Ambrose to vouch for it:Hieronym. upon Tit. chap. 1. onely this latter says that Bishops were first nominated out of the Order of [Page 64] Presbyters. This therefore is the manner of Paul's Dis­coursing; as if I should say, I love all Ministers and Pa­stors, but especially those who with unwearied Industry, and a constant waking Care and Sedulity, feed the Sheep committed to their charge. I love all studious persons, but especially those who sit to it night and day. I do not now by saying thus, say that there are some Pastors who never feed their Sheep, or some Students who never study; but I suppose thereby some more diligent than others, though I do not say that any do more than they ought to do, or than their Function requires of them. That this is the genuine and true Exposition of the Apostles mean­ing and words, the subsequent words, v. 18. concerning the reward, proves it: for 'tis in no sort probable that the same reward was at any time allotted in the Church to them that did, and to them that did not teach; for the first should be charg'd with a double Duty, and the other with but a single one: yet the Apostle stiles them both worthy of double honour. Besides, the Apostle quotes that passage of the Ox treading out the Corn, to prove that Sustenance is due to the Ministry: and the Participle [...] confirms our Exposition; which signifies not barely labouring, but wearying our selves with labour, or using an extraordinary diligence therein: And thus is it always taken in the See Mat. 11. 28. Luke 5. 5. Joh 4. 6. 1 Cor. 4. 12. Eph. 4. 28. 1 Thess 5. 12. which helps mightily to the explain­ing this. 1 Tim. 5. 17. 1 Tim. 4. 10. 1 Cor. 15. 58. & alibi. New Testament, where it often occurs. And the Greeks call that [...], which the Latins call Lassitudo, Weariness: And as [...] and [...] differ, so do their Verbs.

LXIV. They say withal, that Christ did forbid to cast Pearls before Swine, and to give things that are holy, unto Dogs. I answer, Christ speaks of them that despise those Pearls, and tread them under their feet, and turn again and rend the Donors of them; that is, he speaks of the Ene­mies [Page 65] of the Gospel, with whom we have nothing to do in this dispute: for we meddle not with any here, but Chri­stians, who are rightly principl'd in that Doctrine, and ap­prove the same, and are desirous to be Partakers of the Sacraments with their fellow-Christians, though they live not up to that Integrity that others do. Besides, Christ speaks not there of Sacraments, but of the Doctrine of the Gospel, which ought not to be offer'd to Dogs and Swine, that is, to such as refuse and trample it under feet; of which nature is that Parable of the Pearl, Mat. 13. 45. where Christ likens the Kingdom of Heaven to a Mer­chant-man who bought a Pearl of great price; and there­fore it makes nothing to our purpose.

LXV. Whereas again they remember us that St. Paul gave it in charge to Timothy, 1 Tim. 5. 29. That them that sin he should rebuke before all; We deny not the thing, but deny that it relates to our purpose. I will not muster up multitudes of Arguments to prove it; this onely shall I say, That 'tis beyond the wit of man to make it out, that to reprove or rebuke any man before or in the pre­sence of the Church, is the same thing with forbidding him the Sacrament. Nay, they that object this, object it to no purpose, unless they can shew it to be the same: Who can prove that the Apostle so much as thought here of interdicting the Sacrament? Again, the Apostle treats not here of sins that are committed openly, and in the face of the world, but those that sin (says he) that is, that persevere & continue in sin, rebuke before all, that thereby both he that hath sinned, and others that saw it, may fear with him, and do no more wickedly. He puts no di­stinction here between little and great, venial and moral sins; much less between publick and private sins. To speak once for all, 'tis a leaden Objection, and will melt away like wax at the Fire of Truth, and vanish like the smoak. Besides, St. Paul's words stand in perfect opposi­tion [Page 66] to this Excommengent: for he commands him that sins to be rebuk'd (not to be excommunicated) before all, subjoyning it as a reason, that all may fear; as if he should say, If he will not repent and mend himself, at least others shall thereby learn to be and do better. Where by him that sins is not meant him that has left sinning, or him that had sinned onely, but him that abides and con­tinues to walk in the ways of sin, and repented not after admonitions and warnings given him: Him, I say, that thus sins, he charges Timothy to rebuke and reprove be­fore others; he does not give it in charge to him, to see him excommunicated.

LXVI. Next, say they, the Apostle commands so far to avoid the company of the Wicked, that he allows not the liberty of making our common Meals with them, 1 Cor. 5. 11. With such an one no not to eat; much less (conclude they) would he have us eat the Lords Supper with them. But I utterly deny the consequence: for surely they are of very different import, the prohibition of private fami­liarities, and the non-admission to the Sacrament; and the forbidding the one, is not a denial or disallowance of the o­ther; the former is a Civil or Political Punishment, the latter Sacred; we have a Command for one, none for the other; St. Paul explains the end and reason of the for­mer, but we find no mention of either for the latter: nay, the thing it self is nowhere enjoyn'd, or so much as the name of Excommunication once heard of in Scripture. And that one may be without the other, the Pharisees are a pregnant instance; who, that they might pass with the World for the greater Saints, would not approach the Publicans, would not eat, drink, or associate with them in the common concerns of Life. (I can't at present recol­lect that I have read of the like Niceness in any others;) but no man can shew me, whilst the World lasts, that these Publicans were denied admission to the Sacrifices, to the [Page 67] Temple, to the Passover, or any other Sacraments, provi­ded they were but circumcis'd, and turn'd not Renegades to their Religion. There are at this day some who shut out all notoriously lewd and dissolute persons out of their company; they will not live, nor entertain a Conversa­tion with them: which evinces, that this avoiding their Company, and maintaining no Correspondencies with them, is rather a Civil than an Ecclesiastical Punishment, and amounts not near to that of delivering over to Satan, which some will needs have to be Excommunication. The Apostle directs Good men to shun all Consortship with Ill, that Shame may hasten in them a Repentance: The Interdiction runs not to the Ill, that they shall not live among the Good, if any good men would give them admittance. In private Conversations men talk of all matters indifferently; and if a dissolute Wretch find by the freedom of his access, that for all his Debaucheries he is as much made of as ever, not onely himself is not amen­ded, but his Company by degrees endanger'd: But where a man sees himself avoided, and that all shrink, flie, and detest his society, he can't but cast a reflecting thought up­on the occasion, and enter into considerations of a better life, that he be no longer the Scorn and Contempt of those that before embrac'd him with all the arms of Friendship. And therefore as being debarr'd of private Commerce and Conversation, frights us from some sorts of Crimes and Uncleannesses, so the indulgence of familiar and fair out­ward Correspondencies, feeds, pampers, and encourages us in those bad courses. But these reasons hold not in the receiving or being denied the Sacrament; for frequent Communicating at that Table, gives not vigour and nou­rishment to our Vices at the rate private Communications and Familiarities do: for in the Churches or Chappels where that is administred, no vain and worldly things, nothing of private concern, is then transacted, but the [Page 68] Word of God onely is there handled. There, when men shall hear of a Christ that died for them, of a Christ that invites to that Commemoration, and publick demonstra­tion of our acknowledgments and thankfulness for so great a Benefit, and that none can be a worthy Commu­nicant, who hath not throughly and sincerely examin'd himself, and that those who thrust themselves in unwor­thily amongst his Guests, do but eat and drink damnation to themselves: This will put men, that intend to approach unto the Lords Table, upon a seriousness of thought, What is there exhibited; what is his concern in it; what God requires of him, and how he may for the future so regulate his life, that it may be acceptable in the sight of God, how debauched soever and villanous it were before. He that has not these offers, these incitements and invi­tations, is depriv'd of these invitations, grows still the worse, to be sure, no whit the better for it: which seems to be the reason of Gods instituting and enjoyning such multitudes of Sacrifices, Offerings, Rites and Ceremonies. But for certain the Apostle has nowhere order'd, that they with whom he would not have good men to hold a Cor­respondence, should be also put by or denied the Sacra­ment. And when in another place, 2 Thess. 3. 14. he writes to have them signifie that man by Epistle who walks disorderly; (for the Marginal translation in our English Bibles seems to be truest in this place) he does not there set the Elders upon excommunicating them, or suspending them the Sacrament. All which are evident proofs of their mistakes, who think Excommunication to have been either here approved, allowed of, or design'd by the A­postle.

LXVII. But to enforce the Objection, they tell us, 'tis no less unfit that the Church, the Congregation of the Faith­ful assembled in the Worship of God, should be defil'd with the Company and Communion of the Wicked; and that [Page 69] 'tis therefore consequently necessary that the Evil should in all accounts be serv'd and kept from the Pious and Good. But I would return them this Answer: There is no danger that the Wicked should pollute or injure the Good in the use of those Rites and Ceremonies which are of God's own institution, whilst they take not after them in their natures, nor learn not their immoralities: for neither the holy Prophets, Kings, or Judges, nor John the Baptist, nor even Christ himself, nor yet his Apostles after him, were ever defil'd by being present at the same Wor­ship, at the same Sacrifices, in the same Temple, using the same Rites and Sacraments with men of the most debau­ched and profligate lives. Our Saviour was spotless a­midst that Generation of Vipers, who were baptized with him by John in the same Baptism. Judas neither polluted Christ, nor the Apostles, nor the last Supper of our Lord, by his presence at it, though he was then a known Thief, and had before laid the Plot for betraying his Master, and had received the Pay for his pains. Again, the Apostle Paul does not bid us examine one another in the celebration or receiving of the Lords Supper, and to look about us whe­ther any of the by-standers, any of our fellow-Communi­cants, be sinful or unworthy, be such as may derive any Pollution or Uncleanness to us; but thus runs his Com­mandment, 1 Cor. 11. 28. Let a man examine himself; himself, he says, not others.

LXVIII. Hitherto have I effectually and truly prov'd, that no circumcised person was ever (before Christ's days) prohibited those Ceremonies and Sacraments which God by the hand of Moses had ordain'd amongst them, upon any delinquency in Morals, or Piety of Life: Nay, I have withal shewn, that 'twas not lawful for any one whomso­ever to forbid them; and I have by pregnant Testimo­nies from Scripture and Reason, made it out, that neither Christ nor his Apostles taught or acted contrary. Be­sides, [Page 70] I think I have demonstrated, that what our Adver­saries offer on their own behalfs, cannot maintain the O­pinion they would build on it. So that now I see not a­ny farther rubs, nothing that can shock this Conclusion; That that Excommunication which shuts out Christians from the Sacrament for pure Immoralities, and the Vitious­ness of their lives, was never ordained by God, but is a Fig­ment and Invention of men: for so far is it from deriving its original from Scripture, that the invention and trick of it is rather declaim'd against and condemn'd there.

LXIX. If any yet reply, that at this rate we bespatter, we condemn whole shoals of pious Bishops, who quickly after the Apostles times began this excommunicating Sin­ners; I must tell them, 'tis one thing to speak against an Opinion, and another against the Assertors or Authors of it. Many in our Age, of no less Piety than Learning, have examin'd, have sifted and confuted sundry ancient (and as I may say) Catholick Errours, Errours that crept early into the Church: As for instance, the Limbus Pa­trum, Purgatory, Praying to Saints, Exorcisms in Baptism, Coelibacy of the Priesthood, Unctions in Baptism and at the point of Death, Prayers for the Dead, and Satisfacti­on in the Case how in question; and yet I know not any man that has it charg'd on him as a Crime, barely for that he hereby condemns his Predecessors. If men will needs labour to enforce this Excommunication upon the Chur­ches, as a Law of Gods promulgation, I can never be brought to commend it therefore; though at the same time I cannot but highly praise and approve of their Zeal and good Intentions, who first gave rise to it: for their aim was hereby to curb the restiff and unweildy humours of vitious men, since they could not imagine a more commo­dious and effectual way of doing it: And very many (as we see even to this day) walk on in this beaten and pub­lick Path, do it because others before them did it, having [Page 71] never so much as taken it into their considerations, whe­ther it be a matter that stands with holy Scripture or no.

LXX. I cannot at present say much of the very time when Excommunication had its first rise; onely that to­wards the latter end of the second Century after Christ, I meet with something like it then attempted and set up. For above one hundred and fifty years, I do not find any one suspended, or put by from receiving the Sacrament, for unholiness of life. They that are fuller vers'd in the History and Writings of the Fathers, may perchance speak better and clearer in this point. They that shall carefully peruse what Socrates in his fifth book of Eccles. History, chap. 19. has transmitted to us, I verily believe will, with­out much difficulty, confess with us that this Custom of Excommunicating had its first Epoch or Commencement in the Church, about the time of Novatus: Yet Sozomen, in his seventh book, chap. 16. pretends other causes for its Institution. Besides which, we read that about the year of the Lord 200. Victor Bishop of Rome admitted not to the Lords Supper them who refused to forgive In­juries; but I have observ'd, that till that time none were denied the Communion but Hereticks, and such as swerv'd from or renounced the Christian Faith. But be that how it will, this is both certain and evident, that Excommu­nication was first introduced into the Church for the re­straint and punishment of Vice; and afterwards when the Church had got the Sword into their hand, as well as the Keys at their girdle; that is, when the Magistrates, Kings and Princes, became Christian, and subjected themselves to the Faith; yet did the Church-men not let go this power, but continued the exercise of it by their Bishops: partly, for that the Episcopal Order was then believed to be of Divine Right; partly, for that they could not but be fond and tenacious of that Power which made them formidable [Page 42] to Kings and Emperours, and was therefore a morsel too sweet to be parted with without regret: And they easily wrought others into a belief of Christs being the Author and Institutor of it, since themselves had before so for­wardly and so willingly swallowed it. Superstition too, in a little time, had ascribed so much virtue to the Sa­crament, that it gave strength to the Opinion; for 'twas believed, and publickly owned by their Writings, that there were some that could not die, till they had been housell'd and received the Sacrament. Either therefore this Errour made men dread Excommunication, or Ex­communication led them into the Errour: for how facile a thing was it to impose upon the Credulity of the illite­rate and weak Vulgar, that Life was annext to the recei­ving, and Death to the deprivation of the holy Sacra­ment, since the denial of this to a sinner, was the highest and last Punishment that they saw inflicted on him?

LXXI. But for the Persons that executed and denoun­ced this Excommunication (as far as our Conjectures can carry us in this affair) they seem to have been at first such Elders as we read of 1 Cor. 6. 4. (who supplied the place and defect of Magistracy in the Church) together with the Ministry; but afterwards all this Authority was de­volved upon the Bishops, who took cognizance of all Suits, made up Differences, gave Judgment, and did every thing that related to the decisions of Right, and distributing Justice betwixt man and man: as we perceive by the History of those times, and by St. Augustine's complaining of so much then lying on the Bishops hands of this na­ture. Ambrose affirms, that those sort of Elders whose assistance was wont to be made use of in the Church on all occasions, were in vogue and authority when yet they were destitute of Bishops. And it appears by the Apo­stle, that these Elders were to have an Authority as to that Employment of Judging, as long as the Church should be [Page 73] under the pressures of an Heathen Magistrate; which gives us to understand, that as under a Christian Govern­ment that Employment would be useless, and was therefore to cease; so Excommunication (upon supposition that they had exercis'd such a thing before) yet should it in a Christian Kingdom cease. For we must note, that these Elders were instead of Civil Magistrates, and manag'd Civil affairs, and were no Ecclesiastical Judicature: (which now-a-days is of a different nature from the Civil) for 'tis plainly said, that they were to deal in Suits and Controversies of Law, things relating to this Life and the Concerns of it.

LXXII. 'Twould make a Volume to recount what ad­vantages the Church did hereby reap; most certainly they can't be set out in a small compass: for first, this Ex­communication made men to look for salvation from the Sacrament; for thus they fram'd the Argument: The Ex­clusion from the Sacrament draws down Death and Dam­nation (say they) therefore the Receiving of it gives Life. They scarce could entertain a doubt of the truth of the Antecedent, whilst they were taught that this was so dreadful, so Soul-destructive a punishment; and when they thought themselves, by being shut out from the Sacra­ment, to fall straight into the very clutches of the Devil, and be wholly at Satan's mercy: which has made it thought by some, that they could not die, without being housled, as I said before. This Errour grew and got strength from the many great and long Penances, the Solemnities of Ab­solution, and the like; amongst which, none was more prevalent, than that they would not administer the holy Eucharist to them, till the very point of Death; and that then they gave it them, 'twas of pure compassion, that they might not go hence destitute of the Souls necessary food: for if any (through whatever Accident) was so unfortu­nate, he was held for a man damn'd and lost to all Eternity; [Page 74] as if God would not forgive them their sins who heartily and sincerely repent, and vouchsafe unto them everlasting life, unless these Elders should adjudge them qualified for the Lords Supper. What errour is there of a more dete­stable and fatal consequence? But another Fruit of this was, that all the World now began to believe that 'twas in the power of men to shut and open Heaven when and to whom they pleased: and therefore the younger Theo­dosius would not eat his Dinner, because having denied an importunate Monk's Request, he stood excommunicate by him for his pains; and though the Bishop of Constantinople told the Emperour that the Excommunication was inva­lid, yet rest, good man, he could not nor would not, till the same hand absolv'd, that had bound him. So Ambrose for eight months together kept an Elder from Church, from Sermons, and all the acts of publick Worship: 'Tis true, offended he had, but more pardonably than Ambrose himself, as any man, that has his eyes in his head, may see upon the perusal of Nicephorus his History, and the Chro­nicle of Philip Melancthon. By these steps has the Roman See encroached upon the Western World, and made Prin­ces, Kings, and Emperours to lacky to her Lust, and arbi­trary sway in pretended Spirituals. Dyed has been the German Empire in the Gore of hundred thousands that fell a Sacrifice to this Roman Diana, to excommunicating Popes, and excommunicated Emperours, Kings, and Prin­ces. Religion she has chopt and chang'd, mangled and disfigured, debased and vitiated, at her pleasure; none da­ring to question her Canons, dispute her Decretals, or look her Bulls in the face; the whole World were Caligula's, and durst not shew their heads when she sent her Thunder of Excommunication abroad. The God of Foxes spoken of by Daniel, Dan. 11. 38. (if we weigh that passage aright) signifies nothing but this Excommunication, or the Prohi­biting men the use of Sacred things, especially the Lords [Page 75] Supper: For this Excommunication acts a very God in earnest; 'tis to this day a God of Forces, a God who has put all things, all the power of Heaven and Hell, under the Popes feet. And there are not wanting now-a-days too, another sort of men acting upon the same Principles, who would make all Humane Authority and the Civil Christian Magistrate, truckle to them, and dread their Censures, as far as the Popes ignorant Votaries do his Bulls. But I hope the time will come, when this God shall stand expos'd and condemn'd for a false and feigned God, and be stript of all its God-like terror and dread, and whatsoever may or has so long plagu'd and enslav'd the Church. In fine, this I­dol Excommunication had every where such an Ascendant, that 'twas the constant Belief of the World, that they who by Church-Censures and Interdictions from the Sacrament, and publick acts of Worship, were denounced unworthy of eternal Life, were thereby wholly fallen from divine Grace; as on the other hand, saved must they needs be, whom the Church received and would have so. Can we hope better terms, or greater moderation, from our Modern Church­men, than the World has experienced in their Predecessors? I fear he that should expect it, would find himself deceiv'd, and that he has but little weigh'd what either the Scrip­tures or Experience might inform him of.

LXXIII. I see no cause why Christian Rulers should not now-a-days do what God in the Jewish Common­wealth requir'd of the Civil Magistrate: Do we conceit that we can frame a better Model and Form of Discipline in Church or State, than God gave to them? since we read in Deut. 4. that the Nations for this should praise and admire the People of Israel for their Wisdom and Under­standing, evinc'd by those Statutes and Judgments which God had given them; yet God never taught them Excom­munication: But the Power of punishing the Debauche­ries, and restraining the looseness and licentiousness of man­ners, [Page 76] was wholly in the Magistrate, whose duty 'twas, not onely to animadvert on such Crimes by the Rules that God had in their Law prescribed them; but the manage­ment of all the Externals of Religion, the Disciplinary part and Constitution, was in them. For 'twas not Aaron, but Moses that did this (God still commanding it); and we know this Jurisdiction was transferred over to Joshua, not to Eleazar; 'twas Joshua on whom God laid that In­junction of seeing the Israelites circumcis'd the second time, and not Eleazar, Josh. 5. 2. and this was to be uni­versal, without exception of one man; the Bad were to be circumcis'd as well as the Good; and Bad there were, with­out question: And the keeping the Passover then was by him too directed; nor was any person, that we there read of, excluded from it for dishonesty of his life. The Ark of God was carried from place to place, as he gave the word; and in all things relating to Religion, he interpos'd his Commands, as may be observ'd throughout the whole book of Joshua. Eli and Samuel, who had the charge of Religious as well as Civil affairs, they offer'd and admini­stred at the Altar as Priests; but as Judges they manag'd both Church and State: for 'twas lawful for the High Priests under the Old Testament, to meddle with the arts of Government and Secular affairs, as they were the Types of Christ our King and High Priest: but under the Gospel 'tis another case, IT SHALL NOT BE SO WITH YOƲ, says Christ. See 1 Pet. 5. 3. which is pertinent to our purpose.

LXXIV. If we go farther to the Kings, the case is no less plain: As to David, there's none can doubt it, since it appears that he order'd all the Offices and Charges rela­ting to God's Worship: he that pleases may read, 1 Chron. from the 22th to the 27th Chapter. Then for Solo­mon, (who was a King and no Priest) he not onely built the Temple, but dedicated it. To the same purpose is that famous relation, 2 Chron. 19. of Jehosaphat; which [Page 77] being well consider'd, gives great light to the matter in hand. So does that of the good King Hezechia: and in­deed the whole Old Testament witnesses no less. If therefore the State and Church was founded, instituted, and established upon so much Wisdom; that which makes the nearest approaches to the Form and Model thereof (as far as the present circumstances and different state of things will allow) challenges at least our Praises and Approbati­on, if not our Imitation▪ And therefore in whatever Na­tion the Civil Magistrate is Christian, Pious, and Orthodox, there's no need of other persons, who under another name or title should set a governing us, and call us to account, or punish us for our misdeeds, as if there were no diffe­rence betwixt a Believing and Infidel Prince. But (says D. Wolfgangus Musculus, in his common places de Magi­stratu, from whom I have borrowed and transcribed what I said last) 'Tis a most pernicious Errour, and big with dangerous Consequence, that so many think no better of a Christian Magistracy, than of an Heathen one, whose pow­er is to be allowed of no farther than meer Temporals. If then Believing Governours had authority not onely to interpose in the ordering religious matters, agreeable to Scripture-rules, and to regulate the Offices and other the Ministerial parts about it, (which is the reason that Moses commands, that when they should chuse them a King, he should write him a Copy of the Law in a Book, and that to be with him, and he to read therein all the days of his life) but had also power to punish Vice in the same man­ner. 'Tis a needless fruitless attempt for men to be now-a-days contriving and setting up new Models of Govern­ment, which levels Magistrates themselves to the Rank and Condition of their Subjects: for this Ecclesiastical Juris­diction, in point of Manners, hath no place of Holy Writ to vouch for it, or set it up: not but that Civil Governours will do well to advise in all Doctrinals with those that are learned and have labour'd in the Word.

[Page 78] LXXV. But now in those Churches whose mishap 'tis to live under a Profane Government (as in the Domini­ons of Turks and Papists) they should make choice of pious sober persons, who (agreeable to St. Paul's com­mand) might arbitrate between contesting Members, might take up Quarrels, might do every thing of that na­ture; might chide and admonish debauched flagitious men, and such of the Ministry themselves who walk disor­derly: and if this avail not, then might they punish them, or rather recal them to a better temper, by avoiding their company, by debarring them of private Commerce, by reprehending them publickly, or by some such-like marks of their displeasure: but to thrust them from that Sacra­ment which is of God's Institution, when they are minded to come, is more than any Church or man has a right to do; for none can judge of the Heart but God alone. It may chance that some sparks of Piety and Remorse may kindle in a sinners Soul, whilst he sits in the Assembly; which it can be no hurt (nay, may be greatly good) to cherish, since Religion forbids it not. And how can it be (I would fain ask) but horrid, absurd, and impious to boot, to turn away any man from publickly and so­lemnly paying his Thanks to God, and commemorating the Death of his Saviour, when he finds Impulses from within to do it, and would fain celebrate it with his fel­low-brethren the Church, and declares 'tis his hearty desire to be and continue a Member of it, and that he would give publick testimony that his past life is irksom to him­self.


IT will not be amiss perhaps, by way of Corollary or Supplement, to mention the Decrees that were made in the year 1523. at the Diet at Norimberg, by all the Layety of the Imperial States, and were sent to the Bishop of Rome: for 'twill appear by that, that we are not the first who have started this Question, but that the Divines began to think of it nigh 46 years since. I am confident no man that is any whit vers'd in the German Affairs, can be­lieve or imagine that any such thing should be enacted, but requested by them from the Bishop of Rome, without the Clergies knowing of it. But that the Authority may be the more authentick, and the thing clearer, I have been content to compare the German Copy which was writ at that Diet, with the Latine one sent to the Pope (and which Matth. Flac. Illyricus caus'd to be reprinted at Basil, 1565. with his Book De Sectis & Dissensionibus Papistarum;) and upon comparing both, to publish the entire Decree or Act. Therefore among the 100 Grievances (which were fuller express'd at this Session at Norimberg, than they had two years before at Worms) this following is the 34th.

Item, Many Christians at Rome, and in other places be­sides, are by Archbishops, Bishops, and their Ecclesiasti­cal Judges, excommunicated for Civil causes, and on a Temporal account; whereby many weak Consciences are disturb'd, and brought to despair: so that upon a money­score, and for the transitory things of this life, and very often, for very trivial causes, are some brought into dan­ger of perishing Soul and Body too, contrary to the Law [Page 80] and Command of God, besides the losses they suffer in Estates and Reputation thereby: ‘Whereas no person ought to be excommunicated, or held for such, unless he be convict of Heresie, as the Holy Scripture bears witness.’ And therefore the Lay-states of the Empire beseech your Pontificial Holiness, that as becomes a godly and religious Father, you would take away these Grievan­ces of Excommunication at Rome, or in the Roman Court, and provide that the same be done every where else, by the Archbishops, Bishops, and other Ecclesiastical Judges. And lastly, that your Holiness would command, That no person be excommunicated, or reputed for such, for any cause whatever, besides the plain and prov'd Crime of He­resie in matters relating to Religion; for that no person ought to be separated or removed from God and his Church, for any Temporal cause or otherwise, or for any other humane crime, except Infidelity or Heresie. To the same purpose is that of Joh. Stumpias, in his second Book of his Chronicon Helvet. cap. 29. where he says, That the Swedish Clergy, about the year 1245. (when Henry Land­grave of Turing, and after his death, William Earl of Hol­land, were chosen by the instigation of the Pope, in oppo­sition to the Emperour Frederick the second, and Conrade his Son) taught with great constancy, among other things, That never was there such a Power granted to mortal man under the Sun, to prohibit Christians Spiritual Duties, and the Worship of God; and therefore did they continue to say Mass (says he) though the Pope had interdicted them, and denounced them Excommunicate.


This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. This Phase I text is available for reuse, according to the terms of Creative Commons 0 1.0 Universal. The text can be copied, modified, distributed and performed, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.