A true and lively CHARACTER Of a right COMMUNICATING Church-Member; Brifely laid down in Eighteen seve­rall ARGUMENTS: Proving an absolute necessity of se­parating, not only, from all that are openly Prophane, but from such also, who have not some visible, that is to say, probable worke of the sanctifying Spirit upon them.

By IOHN GOBERT Master of Arts, and Minister of the Gospel.

LONDON, Printed by Charles Sumptner for Tho: Brewster, and Greg: Moule, at the three Bibles under Mildreds Church in the Poultry. 1650.


Courteous Reader,

FOr the Author to commend his owne Work, if it were praise-worthy, yet tis altogether improper, remembring the old saying, Laudet te os alie­num, non tuum: And indeed it deserves no praise, chiefly for the manner of handling, when in reading the very first page, thou wilt meet with many Inconsonances, even to Grammar; wherein the Author confesseth his weak­nesse, and craves thy pardon: Moreover, cease to marveile, for these papers were written by a dead man; neverthelesse I counsell thee to read this Book, and weigh the matter, de­light thy self in seeking the truth, and so then wilt begin to un­derstand the Riddle, how a dead man may write Books.


To the High Court of Parliament, AND To the Councell of State, AS ALSO To His Excellency; Thomas Lord Fairfax, Lord Generall of all the Parliaments Forces.

John Gobert Minister of the Word, wisheth increase of Grace and Happinesse here and hereafter.

Right Honeurable,

THe holy Apostle, exhorting to Christi­an duties, among other important Ex­hortations, hath this one, viz. That we ought to be alwayes ready to give an an­swer to every one that asketh a reason of the hope that is in us, with meeknesse and reverence, 1 Pet. 3. 15. If in the performance of this duty, we are obli­ged to one, much more to many; if to such as have not Power to Examine, much sooner to such as have: And although your suppliant not being cald upon to [Page] give an answer, might in this particular justly plead Exemption, as one, who in this boldnesse, might seem rather to Create a businesse to himselfe, than to performe any task imposed: Yet, as often as he con­fidereth, first, the condition of his Calling, being both a Minister of the Gospel, & a Member of the Commonwealth. Secondly, the condition of the present Times, being (in some respects) the Worst, as they are the Last, wherein Sathan, and all his malignant Instruments, do by all wayes and means, seek what they can, to ob­struct and retard (at least) if not utterly to overthrow, that blessed work of Reformation so happily begun by you. Thirdly, reflecting upon those (too just­ly grounded Feares and Jealousies which your Ho­nours yet have) lest the people of this Nation, chief­ly those of our Calling, should be over-much want­ting to themselves, in not joyning with you in your Endeavours to promote the Churches good. I say, from these; and the like considerations, your Sup­pliant could not but presume, that it would not be al­together unwelcome, or ill taken, if a poore Minister of the Gospel, in a matter of such deepe Concern­ment, upon which, the whole Fabrick of this bles­sed Reformation, as upon its proper Hinge, turneth; but hath also, as farre as concerneth an Externall Church-communion, an influence into the Rights and Priviledges of all the Faithfull. Do chuse for this once, and in this so weighty a Matter, to deliver his judgment, not that he attributeth any thing to this weake and light skirmish which he hath set upon; or that this most Excellent Cause, should from the Authors handling it, seeme to receive any Grace or [Page] Lustre: He is farre from conceiving any such impro­bability; His only Aime and Designe in this under­taking, was partly to give an occasion to the Reader, from the light which doe so manifestly breake forth in this briefe Polemicall discourse, to give occasion to thinke how great good might (in this Subject-mat­ter) to the Churches further Edification be done. If some one of stronger Gifts, or greater Abilities, would undert [...]ke it, partly being as a Spectator, induced to be­hold the fru [...]t of Rebecca, finding two contrary births to struggle in her wombe, I meane the blessed is­sue of all th [...]se Church-agonies which these latter times have afforded, I could not, but in the Spirit admire with Moses at this great sight, and to become an humble Suitor to all your Honours, that since this Zara, which in the Primitive times did even then put forth his hand to become the First borne, and yet, for causes best knowne to the Divine Majesty, hath puld back his hand againe in that; for most of the Ages since the Churches Infancy, this Zara, for the scarlet thread of Light and Truth, which Divine Provi­dence, like Tamars Midwife, did even (as it were) [...]h [...]n put about his hand, hath made all the Spectators since that time, rather to looke and wish for Zara's birth, than to see it; but loe now this Zara is come: Pha [...]es the first borne, I mean, the party-coloured, or exter­nally-spotted Church-Member, ha [...]h already acted his part, too well knowne to all spectators, [...]o the many fearfull breaches, which to others scandall, and his owne greater losse and disparagement he hath made in the Wombe of the Church. Loe now his brother Zara is borne, to be knowne to all that are spir [...]tually [Page] sighted, by the scarlet thread of Light and Truth a­bout him. Receive him therefore, I most humbly be­seech your Honours: He calleth upon, and cryeth to God, as his Father; and upon your Honours, as both Midwife and Nurse. Therefore, as you have in the provision of the sincere Milke of the Word, shewed your tender care of this younger Brothers inward Man; you would also vouchsafe every Zara your Protection from the wrong and violence of his Mo­thers children, who would faigne make him Keeper of their Vineyard.

My meaning is, that according to the Place and Power God hath set you in, you would be Patrons and Pro­tectors of the Sonnes of Peace, that Ministers, or Peo­ple, might not dash themselves one against another, with severitie, and austeritie, for matters Circumstan­tiall, whiles both hold the Head, Christ. So shall you oblige thousands, and my selfe among the rest, with much love in the Lord Christ to serve you.

Your Honours most humbly devoted, in all Services to his power, JOHN GOBERT.

That a true Church ought only to be gathered of visible Saints, and that men either openly wicked, or meerely civill; that is to say, such as are not seen beside their formall pro­fession, to have some worke of the Spirit upon them, ought not to bee taken into Church-fellowship.

These following arguments doe most manifestly prove the first argument is taken from Christs example, in gathering his Disciples.


WHatsoever work or practise doe abhor from Christs example, and in that also wherein we can follow him; that kind of worke or practise is not lawfull; but to gather a Church other then of visible Saints, doth abhor, and is repugnant to Christs example and practise, and in that also wherein we can follow him, ergo, to gather a Church of such as are not visible Saints, is not lawfull.

The major proposition is apparent, because wee are bound to be­come followers of him as deare children, Ephes. 5. 1. Paul, that great Archi [...]ct of the Churches of the Gentiles, would have the Co­rinthians follow him as he followed Christ. 1 Cor. 1. 11. And he h [...]th l [...]ft us an example, that we should follow his steps, 1 P [...]t. 2▪ 21. And in this as in other practices for two causes;

First, 'Tis the duty of such as are Church-gatherers, to separate the pretious from the vile.

Secondly, Because the Apostles did in this particular work exactly follow Christs example. 1 P [...]t. 2. 5. 1 Cor. 1, 2▪ 9. 2 Cor. 6. 15, 16. Acts 2. 41, 42. If it be excepted against, in answer to the major proposition, that 'tis not f [...]ll and sufficient, that Christs example is not, though imitable, yet in this cause, at all binding the Churches in gathering their members; and the reason they will alledge, is, that so Prelacy and Presbytery may come in for a jus d [...]vinum in matter of Church-government, for that they also can fetch examples from [Page 2] the Scripture to warrant their cause against all opponents; to which is againe replyed, negando, wee deny that there is any such example as this in all the Scripture to warrant a jus divinum, either for Presbyte­ry, or Prelacy, because we are to distinguish betweene Christs a [...] the Apostles examples, such as may be called occasion all, arising onely from circumstance of time, perfers and places not simply binding, but are to the present Church as arbitrary and prudentiall wayes, to use and refuse as they see cause: and examples of this kinde are nothing materiall for a jus divinum, though they be derived from Scripture.

A second sort of examples are such as may be called morall, such as hold forth duties and graces which ought to be in Christians of this nature, is the subject matter we now speak of, and are binding to all who desire to keepe faith and a good conscience; so that the major prop [...]si [...]ion will stand valid against all opposers.

For the proofe of the minor we need goe no further then to Christs 12. Apostles, an exact pattern of all Churches which ought to be under the New Testament▪ when all were Saints to the eye of others, J [...]das not once suspected by any of the eleven.

Secondly, We argue from the severall ends of gathering Churches, which are,

1. That God may be glorified in his Saints.

2. That such as be gathered, may be further edified and built up.

3. That others may be daily added to the Churches alread▪ gathe­red; that an unqualified Church gathering of such as have been hither­to for the most part in this Nation, is repugnant to all these ends, will be abundantly proved.

And first an argument in generall, viz. as a gatherig of Church­members not visibly holy, is repugnant to all these ends, thus,

Whatsoever is opposite and repugnant to those ends for which Churches are to be gather [...]d, is not in the gathering of them to be ad­mitted, or practised; but to gather Church-members other then of visible Saints, i [...] repugnant to the ends for which Churches are to be gathered; therefore to gather Churches of members not visibly holy, is not to be practised.

The major proposi [...]ion will be granted by all parties.

The minor remaineth to be proved by parts:

First, That any other gathering then such as are visibly holy, is re­pugnant to Gods honou [...], thus;

Whosoever are not inabled by the Spirit in some measure to shew [Page 3] forth the vertues which God hath given them, all such are most unfit to be gathered into Church-fellowship; for the proofe hereof, see 1 Pet. 2. 9. But men either openly scandalous, or meerely civill: and meerly civill, we call not only such as have no principle of Religion in them, but such also as are barely taught of men by way of catechi­zing, I say such canno [...] shew forth their vertues, therefore they are not to be gathered into Church fellowship: If any will except against the d [...]scription of a civ [...]ll honest man, a [...] [...] who hath in him, and is a­ble [...]o answer to the grounds of Religion, [...]z how such a man can be c [...]l [...]d one meerly civill: W [...] very well, because the Scrip­ture will no where warrant any middle betweene a civill man and a Saint, 1 Cor. Chap. 1. to verse 9. is a men sed proofe of this, if a man be call [...]d to be a Saint; we or not to understand of an outward call, but such as call▪ as wher [...]b [...] they are pro [...]a [...]ly at least sanct [...]fied in Christ Jesus▪ and therefore the Apostle putteth these two together, s [...]nctified in Christ Jesus, and Saints by calling; to sh [...]w that none are to goe for Saints, or be counted Church members, which have not b [...]side the bare knowledge of the grounds of Religion, some worke of the Spirit on them; see for this in John 17 20, 21. whence we may briefly thus argue.

All that professeth Christ ought to be one among themselves, as Christ is one with the Father; but such kind [...] of members, viz. men mee [...]ly civill, or openly scandalous, cannot [...] one with the Saints, as Christ is one with the Father, therefore suc [...] [...]e not to be taken in for Church-members.

As to the proposition, there will be no other evasion for answer, then to say, that the place forecited is to be understood of Saints invi­sibly holy, such as may be endued with holinesse, though not gathered into Church-fellowship, to which, thus;

First, in this answer is a fallacy, we call a peti [...]io principii, or beg­ging of the question; for it runs upon this supposall, that there is such a Church-creature as a civill wel-catechized honest man, and to make way for such a creature, all Scriptures now which doe in their na­ture exclude, are by supposing, such an one to be, brought by the op­ponent to uphold him, but this remaineth yet to be prove [...].

Secondly, Against such an answer we urge the words of the Text, and that in two respects;

1. In respect of the nature of the union, which the words hol [...] forth; John 17. 21. That they may be all one, as thou Father art in mee [Page 4] and I in thee, that they may be also one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And vers. 23. I in them, and thou in mee, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, & hast loved them as thou hast loved me, whence wee first argue,

Whatsoever union in the Church doe not hold a strict and a speciall or specificall (if I may so speake) resemblance to that most bles­sed and sacred union which is between the Father and the Son, that is not the union commended or intended by our Saviour in this Scripture: but to say, that Christ in holding forth an union which ought to be in the Church, understood it only of an in­ternall or spirituall union, and not also of an externall, doth this, viz. it urgeth such an union as cannot hold resemblance to that most sacred union which is between the Father and the Sonne, therefore the internall union only is not the union inten­ded by our Saviour.

Both propositions are sufficiently manifest from the words, if we rightly observe, because the condition and perfection of union in the Church ought to be in this world, as is the perfection of unity, which is between the Father and the Sonne. Now this union is most perfect, and that also whereby the Father and the Sonne doe enjoy each the other mutually, actually, most bless [...]dly, and immediarely; where one hath a reall influence into the other, for which cause the Son, as God is said to live by the Father, John 6. 57. Such must be the fruition as far as is imitable by a creature in a Church-member, they ought to be where this union can be had, each to other, and in a spi­rituall and convenient way▪ as is the Father to the Son, or the Sonne to the Father, but in members scattered abroad as the Scripture spea­keth, there cannot be that resemblance of perfection of unity as is be­tween the Father and the Sonne, because that sort of Members are of­ten distressed for want of fellowship with their fellow Saints, as was Esiah, who desired to live no longer, for want of it. And in times of persecution, for want of this Church-fellowship▪ the Saints of God have complained, that they are as an owle in the desert, or as a Spar­row on the House top: therefore the 17 chapter of St. John, and the like places, must be understood of the Saints actuall enjoying one ano­ther, not onely by an internall, but also by an externall Church-fel­lowship. I say againe, what so hath been, and is de facto, yet de jure, it ought to be, and shall be, at Christs second coming, in spite of [Page 5] the Devill and all his Malignant Instruments.

Secondly, We argue from the end of the union intended by our Sa­viour in these words; That the world may believe, that thou hast sent mee.

Whence briefly thus,

Whatsoever does keep men from believing that Christ is sent of the Father; That in gathering of a Church is not to be practised: but to admit of any for Church members, which doe not visibly at least resemble the holinesse and unity of God and Christ, is to keepe men from believing that Christ is sent of the Father; therefore to gather into Church-fellowship such as are not visi­bly holy, is not to be practised.

The minor is thus proved.

Whatsoever is held forth as a fit, sole, and sufficient means to gaine men to believe, and is not so ordained by God, this cannot gather men unto Christ: and consequently keepeth them from believing, be­cause our Saviour saith, Whosoever gathereth no [...] with me, scattereth; but to think that the preaching of the word is this fit, sole, and suffi­cient meanes, to bring men to Christ, is to think otherwise then God hath ordained; therefore such as come no better furnished to gather believers, doe so far keep men from believing that Christ is sent of the Father.

The major I suppose will be denyed by none.

The minor is as manifest from the Scripture; for though it cannot be denyed that faith commeth by hearing, and hearing by the word, Rom. 10. 17. So that the word received by faith i [...] as the plowed ground sowen; but I demand then, how can men plough their ground without a plough: All the Scriptures will testifie, even from Gen. to the end of the Revel. that either miracles, [...]r the Church rightly ordered, or rightly gathered, comming in place, have been ever as the plough to the d [...]ctrine of the Gospell; we shall find 3. things requisite to gaine the world to become believers.

1. Men must preach purely, that in point of Doct [...]i [...]e they may resem­ble the Sun.

2. The potentiall or materiall members to be gathered, must in their conversation be faire as the Moone.

3. This is not all neither; Preachers and Professers for all this will be esteemed of as a company of imper [...]inent and light-headed, or vain­glorious men; therefore a third thing required, she must be terrible [Page 6] either by miracles or by all right done here as an Armie with ban­ners.

3. We argue from that 17. of John, explained by the Apostle, Eph. 4. 4. 5. One body, one spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptisme, one God and Father, &c. whence briefly thus;

None are to be taken into the body or externall fellowship of the faithfull; but as such are of on▪ faith and one spirit with them, 'tis e­vident; for if it were otherwise, there must be either 2. bodies, or 2, spirits.

But civill honest men, or men barely catechised have not one spi­rit, that is, are not endued with spirituall graces as the faithfull are; Ergo, they are not to be received into Church fellowship with them: both propositions must be assented unto by such as wil take Scripture for their rule.

3. We argue from the third end of gathering churches, which is, that members already gathered may be further built up, thus;

Whatsoever doth of its own nature threaten the destruction, or at least retard the growth of the whole body; that in gathering of a church is not to be suffered; but to admit of a member not visibly ho­ly, is either to destroy the whole, that is, to threaten with destruction, because the true members of Chr [...]st cannot be uterly, that is to say, spi­ritually destroyed, or to hinder and retard the growth of other mem­bers, therefore a mixture of Church members, or taking into Church­fellowship such as are not visibly holy, is not to be suffered.

The major will be easily granted; because whatsoever is done in a Church, must be done to the edification of all: When one sins, all are scandalized, 1 Cor. 5. 3. Moreover, severall members in a Church are and must be to that Church whereof they are members, as the mem­bers in a naturall body, whereof all, even the weakest must serve to, and be active for the whole body, as is plainely taught, 1 Cor. 12. Rom. 12. 5. All the members of a Church should at least visibly and [...] as they say, be what the forwardest professe they are, be­cause all are acted by the same spirit of grace, and live the same life of faith; they all draw essence and growth from one mysticall head, even as the naturall head doth compleat and actuate all it's members, 1 Cor. 2. Therefore now if any mysticall member want that supply of spi­rituall nourishment as the Apostle further teacheth, Ephes. 4. 15. It must necessa [...]ily at least retard and keep back the growth of the whole body; neither can this be understood of one that outwardly is good, [Page 7] and inwardly unsound, because such hurt none but themselves. The minor proposition is proved sufficiently from the Church of the Jews, where the coldness of morallists, whom the Apostle calleth Abrahams carnall [...]eed did much hinder the growth, and scandalize the graces of the truly godly among them, see Lu. 3. 7. If any will from the blemish­es of the Jewish Church goe about to affirme, that notwithstanding all those blemishes, our Saviour did not unchurch them, as some doe in these dayes, such shall receive their answer at the 8th Argument in this Treatise. In the mean time it will not be amisse for such as are better enlightned, to take it for granted, that the maine Remora, or Stop ship (if I may so call it) of a through-reformation is this uncir­cumcised civill-honest man, suffered to be reputed as a member, and yet by Divine ordinance ought not to be, or to be so reputed; of whom Church gatherers have not to say as our Saviour of the fruitlesse fig­tree, that though it was to be cut downe, yet he expected fruit, and good reason, because all this while they were his plant; but of such members as these in our Churches, Christ would have said, not why cumbreth it, but, wherefore came it into the vineyard? the vineyard was no place for it.

A fourth Argument for the proofe hereof is taken from the proper and specificall nature of a church, thus,

That which putteth no difference betweene the Churches of Christ and other societies and religious men which are in the world; that in constituting and gathering of church members, is not to be admitted; but to allow of members not visibly holy, is to doe this, viz. It put­teth no difference between the Churches of Christ, and other religious which are in the world, therefore such kind of members are not to be allowed.

The major proposition needeth no proofe, for that there must be a difference between the churches of Christ and other men, their religions must not onely differ, but the professors of it, else how doe the true churches alwayes contract an odium from the world, how else can that of Isa. 8. 18. be made good; Behold I and the children which thou hast given mee, are [...]or sign [...]s and for wonders in Israel. If this difference ought not to be at least in their conversations, how can the world disclaime them for theirs, who belong to Christ. If you were of the world, the world would love his owne; but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hatetb you, John 15. 19. 'Tis not their religions that makes them [Page 8] odious; for 'tis granted by all parties, that though the religion of Christ is a paradox to carnall men, yet such as touching professi­on doe often become professors of that which before they hated, Quanto retro oderunt, quod nunc amant quiour que dolent odisse quod prius res [...]i [...]rant, saith Augustin in point of conversion from false beliefs, neither is it a form externall which contracteth it; for in this professions may agree; Neither is it the practise of moral duty; for if any thing gaineth the worlds affections to the church, 'tis the churches conversation to the world-ward, there­fore it must be their z [...]ale and their affections for heaven, the ime­diate fruit of all necessary and spirituall graces, which causeth this hatred from the world, and consequently putteth a constant difference betweene the Churches of Christ and other religious professors, as our Saviour speaketh, not simply or singly of their Religion, but of the persons, who by the manner of professing it, render themselves odious, because I have chosen you, therefore the world hatceth you.

The assumption or the minor proposition proveth it self something too manifestly, for setting aside the empty and bare title of infant bap­tisme, with a little knowledge by rose, which some meetly catechised in the christian profession may attaine unto; which for curiosity▪ sake, or other ends, a J [...]w or a Turke may be so far principled in, as we for the like ends may aff [...]ct to be seen in the knowledg of the Jewish Tal­mud, or the Turkish Al [...]ron. I say againe, setting these things aside which concerne the profession it selfe, not the professors of it, what difference now in point of z [...]ale and suitable conversation betweene hundreds of something more then our common professors, and an ho­nest Turk or a J [...]w; for doth not meer nature and morality teach men to think something rever [...]n [...]ly of any thing they account for Religion, be the profession what it will, are we then said to be risen with Christ, to live the some life that he liveth, to be continually acted by the spirit, and all this to have no more zeale to our religion which we grant for true, a defiance to all other, then a Turk or a J [...]w have to theirs, a [...]sit.

A fifth A [...]gument to prove our purpose is taken, both a possibili & comm [...]do, that is to say, from that which is both possible to be done, and best to be done, thus,

Whatsoever may well be done, and what is most profitable to [...]e done, that in a work of weight and moment ought not to be negl [...]cted; but to gather visible Saints or members visibly holy, is a thing [...]oth [Page 9] which may be done, and which is most profitable to be done. Ergo, in so weighty a worke it ought not to be neglected.

The Minor is sufficiently evident, because in all our purposes and undertakings, we ought to go the neerest and speediest way to the effecting of any thing, much more when 'tis of speciall weight and concernment.

The minor proposition is proved by parts: First, That it may be done; and this, first, from the power the true Church hath ever had, both in taking in, and casting out of Members. All do grant, Papists, Lutherans, and others, that the Church Governours, rightly qualified, do receive from Gods Spirit a power of discerning Mem­bers worthy and unworthy, as farre as concerneth the constitution of a visible Member; leaving the inner man to God; else what use of the keyes; why should that hold bound in heaven, and loosed in heaven, which by them is bound and loosed on earth? Moreover, that which makes them known to the world, may easily make them known one to another, or to such as can better judge: But the visi­ble holinesse is known in part to the world, therefore farre sooner to such as have better judgements, John 13. 19. By this shall all men know that ye are my Disciples, if ye have love one towards another. Further­more, of one and the same thing, there is the same reason and consi­deration: But it is granted by all parties, one and other, who pro­fesse the Christian Religion, That holinesse may visibly or probably, (which is enough for the constituting of a Church-member) appeare in some; why not in others also; since holinesse, whereverit is, is to sin and corruption, as light is to darknesse, or as life to death; the for­mer common sense teacheth may be discerned; why should not faith also discerne such qualified Members; therefore out of all doubt or question it is a thing may be done.

The sixth Argument is drawn from the great benefit which will come of such a qualified Church-gathering, thus:

Whatsoever does most anger and salt the corruptions of men, and so disposeth them to a blessed care, that is the best way, and likeliest to do most good: But this doth the gathering of such qual [...]fied mem­bers, it doth most anger and salt mens corruptions. Ergo, it is a ne­cessary medium to cure men of thr maladies of sin, and consequently a most profitable worke.

The major Proposition will be granted, without further proofe, because all that are taught of God, do know, that though to anger [Page 10] men simply, may prove scandalous; yet to anger mens corruptions is profitable to dispose them to repentance.

The Minor, which is, that the taking of visible Saints, onely in­to Church-fellowship, have most angered the world, is proved di­versly; first, from that which hath been done, the conversion of soules, and gathering of Churches; secondly, that which is daily done for this end and purpose.

For the first, what other worke provoked the envy of Christ and his Apostles malignant Countrymen, then the effectuall worke of their preaching, to the gathering of men into an holy society and fraternity among themselves? It is granted by all that are godly, that for matter of Doctrine, carnall men have alwaies lyen darke unto it, they have not known what hath been preached, neither have they had either the wisdome, or the patience to enquire or examine, but when by a necessary separation and withdrawing from their commu­nion, the godly made a Church among themselves, and went about to save themselves from a froward generation, this was the worke which madded them; see for this Acts▪ the second, and forty, and forty one, compared with the Rulers carriage Acts 4, 2. had not the people by a sacred Church-communion been subject to have been drawne from them, they would no doubt have been far more moderate towards the Apostles, see Acts 19, 16. it was the peoples turning from darknesse to light, and gathering from into a Sect, as they called it among themselves, which so much angred them.

Secondly, we argue from that which is daily done by the course of an ordinary Ministery.

What Preachers soever have in a blamelesse and warrantable way provoked most contumely and obloquy from the wicked world; these are they who have converted most, and done most good by their preaching; but such as have stood most for visible holinesse in Church Members, have contracted to them most contumely and obloquy from the wicked world; therefore these are they who have conver­ted most, and done most good by their preaching. Daily experiment will prove the Minor; Let a Minister never so well gifted be of this judgement, That any may be received into Church-communion, who live honestly, and can answer to a Catechize, and what store of Converts will they have.

The seventh Argument is from pregnancy of Scripture, for this purpose, of a lawfull and necessary separation from the world in matter of Church fellowship, thus:

[Page 11]Whatsoever opinion or practice do make void the authority and rule of Scripture; that opinion, or that practice is not by any rrue Beleever to be imbraced; but to receive any other into Church fel­lowship, then such as are visibly holy, does make void the Authority and Rule of Scripture; therefore such kinde of practise is not lawfull.

The Major Proposition is easily granted.

The Minor is thus proved.

Whatsoever opinion or practise do send us from the plaine, lite­rall, and Gramaticall sense of the Scripture, to the glosses and un­certaine conjectures of men, that of necessity must make void the authority and rule of Scripture; but to make any other Church Members, then such as are visibly holy, doth this, viz. It sendeth us from the plaine, literall, and grammaticall sense of Scripture, to the various glosses and conjectures of men, Ergo.

The assumption is easily proved from Esay 52. 11. 2 Cor. 6. 17. as many as are of opinion, that that Scripture, and the like, are to be understood of Idolators, that we ought not to mingle with them in their vaine Superstition, and Will-worship, if they go no fur­ther, they must come short of the true meaning of the Spirit in such Scriptures, because Idolatry is but one sort and kinde of unclean­nesse; but that in Esay forbids all, saying, Touch no unclean thing, Whence we come to demand to be resolved in two things: First, what it is to touch any thing unclean? Secondly, whether civill ho­nesty, or to speake more properly, whether civill Morall men, al­though they are skill'd to answer a Catechize, whether such be not for all that, as yet in a state of uncleannesse? to both which demands i [...]e receive a resolution from Scripture, first men touch not one­ly, in living and mingling with them in their evill works, but to eat the Sacrament with them, as 1 Cor. 6. uli. with such no not to eat; this cannot be understood of the other kinde of eating, which isi granted by the Apostle to be lawfull, when he saith, That otherwise we should go forth of the world. To be familiarly acquainted with civill honest men, and to invite such, and bid them welcome to our Table, I suppose no wise man will [...]ay the contrary; but to have Church fellowship with them, here at many scruple, and that for good cause: Secondly, suppose that the eating there mentioned, is meant of a civill, and not a Sacramentall eating, yet the Sacramen­tall is meant also, and not excluded; which made our Prelates as [Page 12] much out as they were, in the administration of Church Discipline, first, to forbid the sacramentall, and then when the greater excommu­nication came forth, to forbid the other kinde of eating; for the like purpose is Rev. 2. 19 20. All will grant, that Ministers are not forbiden to suffer such to come and heare therefore Ephesus Angels sin was in suffering such to partake of the Ordinances, in way of speciall com­munion. For the proofe of the second, Whether civill men be not in a state of uncleannesse, I appeale to the consciences of all such as are taught of God.

An eighth Argument for the proofe of this purpose, is from the manifest and certain difference which ought to be between the Jew and the Gentile, thus:

Whatsoever belief or practise do confound the Synagogue of the Jewes, with the Churches of the Gentiles, that belief or practice is not lawfull: But to take in Church Members, such as are not visibly holy, doth this, It confoundeth the Synagogue of the Jewes with the churches of the Gentiles; therefore to take in such sort of church members, is not lawfull.

That these two churches ought not to be confounded, but appa­rently to differ, we have Scripture to confirme it, as Rom. 3. 1. the Jewes are priviledged much every way above the Gentiles, and the covenant, and the promises, and the glory, belonged to these; not so properly to the Gentiles, Rom. 9. 4. And what greater priviledge could there be, next to that of inheriting the Kingdome of heaven, then to be a church member, so farre as to the partaking of all the priviledges, proper and peculiar to that Nation; and yet to be unholy at least, if not outwardly profane; therefore all of that Nation, both one and another, were forced to an outward circum­cision; whence, though never so unworthy, they were yet stiled the children of the Kingdome, children and sonnes of Abraham, who onely had right to the childrens bread. The ten Tribes, as corrupt as they were, and as great Apostates from their God, were for all this, stiled Gods people, the Nation whom he would owne above all Nations in the Earth, Amos 3. 1, 2. thus was it with the true Olive, and the cause of this kinde of indulgence was, that they might bee placed among the Nations, as a candle or a lanthorne in a darke place: It was requisite that all they, the church being then so small, it was necessary that this people, every one of them, should by those many carnall ordinances & ceremonies [Page 13] which they held forth be some light to the world; but now since the calling of the Gentiles, the Church being spread farre and neare, 'tis not needfull that every one that professeth Christ should goe for a member, because men doe not now stand in need of such qualified members; therefore when Malachie prophesieth of this difference which should be for time to come, he telleth us that the Gentiles should offer a pure offering; we demand then in what s [...]nce pure? First did not the Jew offer according to the prescript of Moses Law? if other­wise, how came they then to be so much upbraided by those strict ob­servances, as Esay the first, and the sixty sixt, Chapter. Secondly, were there not many truly godly amongst them? why then is it said that the Gentiles should offer a pure offering which the Jewes did not? therefore we are here to understand a figure, in this phrase, of a pure offering, which is a Metonimie of the adjunct: the offering being put for the offerers: thus food was by the Apostle called pure or im­pure, according to the purity or impurity of such as received it, Ti­tus the first and last; So the word of God is said to grow, because twas an instrument of growth to some; thus the Gentiles were to of­fer a pure offering, not in substance but in the circumstance of the persons, when all as farre as humane judgment in way of charity could discerne were to be outwardly and visibly holy.

A ninth Argument is taken from the great scandall which will fol­low such kind of Church gathering, as have been hitherto ge­nerally practised, thus:

Whatsoever doth of it selfe, and in its owne nature scandalize men from becomming the true servants of Christ, that in gathering of Church Members is not to be practised, but to take Members into Church-fellowship not visibly holy, is to scandalize men from be­comming the true servants of Christ; ergo to gather Members not visibly holy is not to be practised.

The Major Proposition being granted.

The Assumption or Minor is thus proved.

Whatsoever causeth or maketh one not yet regenerate, not to see an absolute necessity of being regenerate and borne a new, that is it which doth scandalize men from becomming the true servants of Christ, but to take in Members not endued, that is to say, not pro­bably, at least endued with visible holinesse▪ doth this videlicet, it blindeth men and letteth them not to see an absolute necessity of rege­neration; ergo, to take in Members not visibly holy doth scandalize [Page 14] men from becomming the true servants of Christ.

Both Propositions are apparent by instance, as thus: Take one meetly catechised in the principles of the Christian Religion, let such an one make an historicall narration of his faith; such as if the Devills were put to it, Saint James saith they could doe the like, but now for zeale and inward affection to that he knoweth (God wot) nothing is to be discerned by any judicious Christian, to make him hope that in the judgement of charity such an one is a regenerate Christian, let this meere outside and formall Professor notwithstand­ing be admitted and allowed of for a Church member, whereby he apprehendeth according to the old and blinde belief that he is a mem­ber of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the Kingdome of Heaven (and to speak as 'tis, what else does the actuall receiving of any into Church communion but presuppose all this) as farre as con­cerneth the satis [...]action of others, and that commonly which satisfieth others, deludeth him by making such a qualified Member believe that he is the very same that others take him for) I say therefore the foun­dation of Church fellowship being thus laid, let the Minister now according to his duty, and the spirit of holinesse God hath given him, notwithstanding all this, presse hard for inward sanctity, let him in meeknesse and in the demonstration of the Spirit set and prove unto him b [...] pregnant and undeniable scriptures that to be an heir of heaven, we must truly loo [...]e after not only an outward f [...]ll [...]wship with men, bu [...] an inward communion with God also; I say, let such doctrines as these be pressed and applyed, how wi [...]l such an one already conceited that he is a child of God, as he is a Church Member, put off the ener­gie and edge (if I may so speak) of these more inward marks of qua­lification for Heaven, with such fallacies and parralogisnes as these are, how that we should doe so indeed, and twere well if we could doe as the Minister preacheth; God forgive us, we all come short of what we should doe, and the Minister good man would have us all doe well, and thus our outside morall formalist put [...]e [...]h off the most necessarie instructions as of all others which are marks of salvation, with I know not what is fitting onely and expedient to be done, whereas if such an one be admitted, onely as an hearer, and kept as it were at the threshold of the Church, and be told by the Mini­ster, and that he sees the Ministers doctrine in this particular, to be followed and seconded by a Church practise, that he ought as well to be taught of God as of men, and that he must be discerned by some [Page 15] better able then himselfe to have some inward touch, and to have an af­fection at least probably to what he professeth, this may happily star­tle such an one, and make him to have other conceits for Heaven, and may by the grace of God, not onely gaine him to be an outward Church-Member, but to be an inward and true member of Christ Jesus.

A tenth argument to prove our purpose is taken from the suffer­ing such Churches, as were already planted by the Apostles, in those corruptions they after fall into; thus,

Whatsoever was unlawfull in Churches for suffering unqualified Members that was enough to have kept them from being taken in at first; but Churches have been alwayes threatned, and re­proved for suffering unqualified Members; Ergo twas enough to have kept them from being taken in at first: both propositions are sufficiently manifest.

The sequel of the Major relieth upon the old axiome, sicut se res ha­bet in esse sic in operari, moreover, common reason doth dictate what ought not, or what is found unlawfull at last, was first unlaw­full.

The Minor Proposition is pregnant Scripture, as in the Revelation; and where also is no difficulty in matter of sence, as all will grant, not onely the Members themselves are reproved and threatned; but the Churches also whereof they were Members [...]or suffering such, see Revelation the second and fourteenth and twentieth verses, also Corin­thians the first, the fifth and the sixth Chapters, when the Apostle telleth us that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump; Whither a well catechised Moralist have purged [...]ut his old leaven, and become a new lumpe, with some that are more universally conscientious, let that be left to the scanning of all that are wise to Salvation.

The eleventh Argument is taken from the danger of confonnding the infirmities of the faithfull, with the vices of unregenerate men, thus:

The taking in of Members other then such as are visibly godly, doe confound the infirmities of the regenerate, with the vices of the unre­generats; Ergo, such a Church-gathering is not lawfull: the conse­quent I suppose to be strong enough without further proofe; Who is it professing the Gospel and zeale to the Christian Religion, will not affirme that whatsoever causeth con [...]usion in the Church [...], specially as to the right frame and constitution of it, is to be shunned as rocks at [Page 16] Sea? considering what the Apostle saith, Corinthians the first, the four­teenth and eigth, If the Trumpet give an uncertaine sound▪ who shall prepare himselfe to battell? And though such doe mainely run the hazard of confounding things, who neglect sincere and faithfull preaching, according to that in the second of Ez [...]ki [...]l, S [...]nne of man I have made thee a Watchm [...]n, &c. yea, the most inward teaching to [...] regenerate understanding is no idle or uncertaine sound, because such as are spie [...]tuall doe savour the things of the Spirie, Rom. the 8th. and the sixth, yet ordinary experience will make it out for a truth, [...]hat as in Armies mingling of Colours, or Trumpets unskillfull sound, so also in a Church mixture of Members unqualified doe breed confu­sion.

Therefore the Antecedent which I confesse should have been first confirmed neede [...]h most proofe; videlicet, How this mixt gather­ing do confound the infirmities of the one with the vices of the other, and for a cle [...]r [...]r [...]viction in this particular; we thus argue, That whatsoever it is which maketh the by-stander or third person to think and believe t [...]at the infirmities of the one and the vices of the other to arise from one roote and foun [...]a [...]ne; videlicet from an heart affect­ed with the love of sin, that is it which doth by an unhappy scandall confound the vices of the unregenerate with the infirmities of the faithfull; but the mixt gathering of Church-Members doth this; it causeth the by stander or third person, or any one that is unregene­rate, to think that their vices and the believers infirmities doe pro­ceed from one and the same roote and fountaine, which is to say, from an heart infected with the love of sin; Ergo,

Both Propositions are apparent, for if the Preacher be required by Gods Law, to set forth the difference between th [...]se to the people, ac­cording to those divine sentences in the Epistle of John, That [...]e that is borne of God cannot sn [...], that is, cannot love it, for so as doe all unregenerate men in one kind or other; And he that is borne of God keepeth himselfe, and that wicked o [...]e toucheth him not, that is, though he may by a temptation be outwardly soyled, yet if the seed of God remaineth in his heart, as it doth in the regenerate, cannot be in­wardly infected; I say againe, if it be required of the faithfull Mini­ster thus farre, to set these at a distance in his preaching and instructi­ons; what good to one, especially in the dregs of nature will acrew: when by this most wholsome, and no lesse necessary separation, he [...]eth not that generally practised in matter of Church Discipline, which is held forth by the Minister.

[Page]Now to illustrate the truth of the Minor Proposition, take it thus: Suppose two Members to be taken in one a meere Formalist, another a si [...]cere hearted Christian; The first, videlicet, the Formalist, we will suppose him to be endued first with all endowments of nature. Se­condly, with all civill and morall education, which will cause a ge­nerous and noble deportment of himselfe to others. Thirdly, all Chri­stian accomplishments, as farre as concerneth the exact knowledge of the Principles of Religion. Fourthly, adde here unto a prosperous and usuall concurrence of all earthy happinesse, where, through his gra­cious and glorious abilities to the ontward view, doe not only gaine him respect from men, but these are most commonly exempt from, and not often subject to those miserable provocations, and other straits, the poorer and yet sincerer Christians are subject to, & the reason is they are appointed to suffer, Thess. the first the 3.d and the 3d, and is in this life to receive their evill things, Luke the 16. and 25. though now this our glorious brother, both in his owne eyes, and in the eyes of such as are like to him is the only Professor; yet here will be the que­stion, whither such an one ought to be taken in for a Church▪ Member? neither speak I this to exclude such as are Saints and may have these endowments, because God hath chosen some both rich and noble, and wise, (as the Apostle speaketh) in the 1▪ Cor. chap. 1. v. [...]6. but this I say, whither such with all these who are thought to be forward enough in profession for Heaven, I say againe, whither those outward and former qual [...]fications are enough. Secondly, on the o [...]her side, let another be taken in unfurnished of all this goodly trapping, his birth meane, his breeding according, and his knowledge chiefly in any points of high concernment suitable; adde to this happily a crabbed & teachie nature, which is often rendred far more odious, not onely by the cun­ning and subtile wire drawing of some selfe-pleasing Pharisee, who ordinarily carries about him a multiplying glasse, as it were to put others faults in, which makes them seeme much bigger then they are, but views his owne at a [...]ar greater distance.

Adde moreover a too often, and unhappy, and [...]orced subjection to all, both domestique and forreigne streigts and miseries, which in this life must be the Saints portion, all that this Brother hath to com­mend him either to God or man, is an hearty zeale and affection to that he knoweth, his judgement is often weake, his best actions through the poysonous venim of naughty tongues, wrested, disgraced, and dispa­raged; thus brother for all the prejudice and hard censure he meets with from carnall men, is yet in the judgment of all true dis [...]erners, a [...]ight brother▪ the other not so. [...] [Page 16] [...] [Page] [Page]

A twelfth argument is taken from the errors which have been in former Church-builders, thus:

Whatsoever miscarriage in Church building, and gathering Church members, have come in amongst men, through errour of Doctrine, that ought not now in our time of reformation to be pra­ctised; but to gather Church-members, other h [...]n of such as are v [...]sibly holy, doth this, it magnifi [...]th and setteth up errors of D [...] ­ctrine, and mistakes of former ages; Ergo, are not now to be pra­ctised.

The major I suppose will be undeniably granted. The Mi­nor is proved by instance, vide conce [...]ning Baptisme; the Do­ctrina about not onely the esse, but the absolute necessity of Infants Baptisme, have (as it is knowne to all) beene the cause in former ages, of taking every one into Church-fellowship, witnesse the Pri­mitive times, if we may call them Primitive, wherein Au­gustine, Ambrose, Chrysostome, the Gregorys, and such famous worthies lived, it is well known to all who have read their works, that those most godly and ze [...]lous Worthies, not having the Light which we have▪ did unanimousl [...] hold, that Baptisme made Infants Christians, and that children u [...]baptized could not be saved. Neither in this Tenent do the Papists at all erre from the Doctrine of the An­tients Su [...]table, though happily not the same altogether, was the E­piscopall Tenent, That Baptisme was not onely a seal as circumcisi­on was (to which this of Baptisme succeeded) but a means also to re­ceive grace: whence it wa [...] g [...]erally believed, that Infant [...] did re­ceive such a tincture, such an indeluble character and stamp of ho­linesse in the Ordinance, that mens particular failings (as they called them) though this were no other then grosse sin, did no whit un­christianize, but a little blemish their Christianity: Whence milli­ons are so besotted, that they believe, that as their fathers and mothers in the course of nature, have made them men and women, the Mi­nister at the Font made them Christians. Now if all upon this notion were taken in for Church-members, and the ground of all this, in these dayes of light, be [...]ound extreamly faulty, what reason but the building, on such an unsure foundation erected, should be now de­molished; and other and better Members, upon further Gospell dis­coveries, to be taken in.

The thirteenth Ar [...]ument is t [...]ken from the great scandall which a Church otherwise gathered giveth our adversaries the Pa­pists, thu [...]:

[Page 17]That which maketh the Protestants justly excepted against, and taxed by the Papists, to be a company of grosse and Athiesticall Liber­tines, that is not by any means to be allowed; but to gather a Church of common Protestants, or of such as are but barely catechised, is to make all Protestants, by the Papists, to be so accounted. Ergo, to ga­ther members of other, than of such as are visibly holy, is not to be allowed.

The major being granted,

The minor is thus proved.

That Profession, the profes [...]ors whereof doe come short of Papists in point of practise, as touching the Religion, they professe; that pro­fession doe scandalize the Papists, and consequently gives them cause to thinke, that all such professors, are but grosse and Atheisticall Li­bertines; but this doe a mixture, in gathering Church-members, it makes them come short of Papists, in point of practise, as touching the Religion they professe. Ergo, it makes the Papist to think, that the Protestants are a company of grosse and Atheisticall Libertines, and consequently, such a Church-gathering is not to be allowed.

The major being granted,

The minor is proved by instance, viz. By comparing the common protestant and the papist together, in practicall part of Religion, in which, of these most religious forwardness, is to be discerned; and to begin with the papists, let him be but meerly catechised in the principles of his owne Religion, he hath, in many things, the start and precedency above the common protestant. First, in matter of understanding, it is more furnished by far, (I say not better:) As for the co [...]mon protestant, he is seen but in his Creed; whereas the o­ther is taught in the doctrine of 7 Sacraments. Secondly, his beliefe is racked, and screwed up to a farre higher pitch than is the Prote­stants, who is ordinarily accused, and thought of by them, to be a company of brutish and naturall men, to goe no further in their be­liefe, then to sence and reason, as in matter of their carnall presence. Thirdly, the papist will doe much more for his profession, tha [...] the common sort of protestants will doe for theirs. As for the papist, he will yeeld his outward man to fasting, and all kind of pennance; and his heart, and inward man, though to an erroneous, yet to an auri­cular confession: whereas the common protestant, makes his religi­on to consist (for the most part) in the bare deniall of all this. But, will some object: And doe not your visibly holy Saint you speak of, [Page 18] denie all these? We answer. Yea, or else he cannot be in his belief, any other than a Papist, or worse. But now observe, and yee shall see these visibly holy members (as farre as the judgment of charitie will give them for) to have that by vertue of a speciall and inward call, for which, the Papists doe undertake all these works: For let papists but retain the true doctrine of their religion, and they are taught, that all the Sacraments serve but as means to convey grace to such as are in grace (to speake in their owne phrase) and that by vertue of that they call a foederall Covenant, as infant Baptisme; where the party bapti­zed cannot ponere obicem; or to such as either retaine, or at least re­cover, their first grace. Now, I say, if this holy visibly member, can wrarantably prove (as he may well) how that God worketh, both how, and when, and where he pleaseth: without these, he hath, both in his belief, and life also, proved himself to be more excellent than his neighbour, which is the superstitious Papist, and the common Protestant.

The fourteenth Argument is taken from the disgrace which un­qualified members doe bring upon members better qualified, thus:

Whatsoever causeth the gifts and graces of the best qualified to be mis-called, and mis-censured, or mis-construed, that in gathering Church-members, is not to be practised; but to take in members not visibly holy, causeth the gifts and graces of the best qualified, to be mis-construed, and ill spoken of. Ergo, the taking in members into Church-fellowship, not visibly holy, is not to be practised.

The major proposition being granted;

The minor is thus proved.

Whatsoever makes the gifts and graces of the best qualified to be counted of the non-discerning, superfluous, and more then need: or, which is worse, a desire to be seene above others, that makes their graces to be mis-called and mis-construed: But the taking in of mem­bers not visibly holy, doth this; it makes the gifts and graces of the best qualified, to be counted of the non-discerning, superfluous, and more then need; or, which is worse, it makes them to be counted of such non-discerning spirits, to desire only to be seen above others. Er­go, to take in such kind of members, is not lawfull.

Both propositions will be soone granted, if we consider the [Page 19] old axiome, frustra fit per plura quod fieri potuit per p [...]uciora; for example, if Thomas, and Titus, or Timothy, were taken in for Church Members, for their more excellent endowments of visible holinesse; and Robert, and James, and John to be discerned onely by their more heartless profession, upon those easie and common qualifications also to be taken in; will not now the more part and worser (there being greater store of these Members then of the other) make the better part and the fewer to be disgraced, and to have more then need in their profession above the rest: and thus all things shall return again to their old Chaos; so doing we shall not onely sad the hearts of such whom the Lord hath not sadded, but as much as in us lies, we shall frustrate and make void, all the blood that hath been shed, all the la­bour, oile, and cost (if I may so speak) that have been spent for the effecting, and perfecting a through reformation; for since tis granted by all parties, both Episcopall, Presbyterian and others, that in mat­ters of doctrine Protestants doe agree, if this matter and way of se­perating the pretious from the vile, be (not by all Parties who desire a reformation) more punctually stood upon. What will at length come of all that hath been done? for if we allow of any other way, we must make Church Members specially, and specifically consider'd; that is, as they stand in relation to a visible Church, to consist as well of civill and morall men, as of the best qualified; and in so doing we shall not onely in the building of Gods House, together with gold, and silver, patch up dirt, and clay, and stubble, but make the state it self, and all the true subjects to it a jeere, and a scorn to the Malignant adversary, to say of our pious reformers, that they would have refor­med if they could have found matter: yea, will not Bellermine him­selfe, that great Stickler in the Church of Rome, shake hands with us in our reformation? who tels us, that to be inwardly qualified, that is, beside bare profession, to have some worke of the spirit upon them, is no esse, or necessaty requisite of a Church Member, provided they be Catholiques of the Romish Edition; and so such kind of intruders being let in, all will in time come to say of things brought again to their old bias, as Captains and Lievtenants doe in martialling their Soul­diers, faces about, and as yee were. Who therefore endued with any measure of zeale for God, will not in his thoughts abhor, and in his practise, as farre concerns him in his place, endeavour to keep of, and keep out such a medly in Gods Church, least otherwise ancient pos­session doe (as it did in all the Bishops time) claim custome and pre­scription; [Page 20] to say, to the best gifted and graced in our▪ Churches; as once Israel said to their zealous brethren on the other side Jordan, Joshuah the 22. from the 23. verse to the 29. The putting up of a ci­vill morall brother, will in time pull down the Altar of distinction, between a visible Saint, and a Morallist: And he that now happily, while these times of reformation last, he that was hardly the foot, will, if suffer'd to intrude, in short time so become the head, that he will altogether shoulder out the other. So far the fourteenth Argument.

The fifteenth Argument is drawne from the calling of the Jewes▪ the maner of their conversion, and their deportment when they are called: Thus,

All such as gather Churches ought in the gathering of their Mem­bers, to follow the best example, either of Churches already gathered, or of such as shall be certainly gathered at Christs second comming: but if we take in for Members such as are not visibly holy, we cannot follow these kind of examples, therefore to take in such unqualified Members, is not lawfull.

As to the proofe of the major proposition, tis not only jure divino but ecclesiastico, or parlimentari, for tis the sum of our covenant in our worke of reformation, in it to follow the examples of the best reformed Churches.

The minor is proved by instance, we herein f [...]llow not the example and practise of the Jewish Church when it shall be called.

Ergo, such as shall inherit Judah, for all ages shall be all righteous, Esay the 60. and 21. Esay the 61. and 9. They shall be known among the nations, and therefore among themselves, Esay the 52. and the 1. the whole subject of the Revelation (setting the judgements aside which are to be poured upon Antichrist) concerneth the visible holi­nesse, and earthly glory of that Church, when they shall be called ac­cording to the best interpreters of that scripture. See Revel. the 21. and 27. Revel. the 22▪ and 14. All that will be objected is, that well may that Church be pure when Christ himselfe shall purge it by his per­sonall presence with it; for that purpose, let us therefore tarry till that time come, because we are not able to doe as Christ can, when he shall come again. To which we answer, That we are by the word, and by the spirit inabled, to doe in measure what Christ shall perform at that day: for it is not required, that all wicked men be shut out in [Page 21] statu quo: the best reformed Churches must allow of hypocrites which not discovered can doe no harme to a Church, whatsoever harm they doe themselves: what though Badgers skins covered the Tabernacle, yet being died red they were usefull, Leviticus the 27. and last. What though the brazen Sea was born up by Oxen, yet their hinder parts, that is to say, their parts more uncomely were inward: so though Hypocrites will get in while they are not discovered, may be of excel­lent use. So farre this 15. Argument; tending to shew the neces­sity of Church gathering, from the Jewes when they shall be called.

The Sixteenth Argument is drawn from the great scarre and scandall which will otherwise [...]lurre the reputation of one of those considerable Parties, from which those who are called the godly Party▪ doe arise: Thus,

Whatsoever objecteth the reformers of Religion, either to the scorn and derision of the unreformed, or themselves, to unbrotherly cen­suring one of another; that in gathering Church Members is not to be practised; but to gather Church Members of any other, then such as are visibly holy, doth this. It objecteth the reformers of Religion, ei­ther to the scorn and derision of such as are unreformed, or them­selves to the unbrotherly censuring one of another: Ergo, such a ga­thering Church Members is not lawfull.

The major proposition is valid without exception, if we prove that the scandall which lieth upon reformers, be that scandall which Divines call datus, or that which is given.

The minor proposition is proved by parts, as first, That the Episcopall Professours, are scandall'd and that justly. For since in matters of do­ctrine tis famously known, that there is no contest between Protestants of any Party, either Episcopall, Presbyterian, or Independents. 2. Netther in the externall Government of the Church, because such as are now call'd Presbyterians, were in the Bishops times call'd Confor­mists, because they subscribed to the doctrine and discipline then esta­blished; it must needs follow, that if some other weighty cause mooved not, viz. a reformation of a Church Member, that one of these Parties, at least, rather sought occasion of exception against the Bishops, then found it. 3. It setteth Professours together amongst themselves; for who knows not, that though in respect of practice, of taking in▪ or casting out, these two Parties, differ not but in circumstanciall, or matter of disci­pline: yet the judgement upon which such and such are to be taken, or not to be taken in, is something more, and a matter doctrinall.

[Page 22]The 17th Argument is from the mimicall imitation of the Papists, wherein they strive to have all the members of their Church, visibly holy, thus:

Whatsoever is pretended by the adversaries of truth, and so farre practised by them, as more sutable and serviceable to Gods honour; that in gathering of Church-members, is not of truths friends to be left out and neglected; but even the adversaries of truth, do by their doctrine and practise teach, (in pretence at least) that only members visibly holy, are to be received into Church-fellowship. Ergo, this ought of truths friends to be sincerely taught and practised.

The major will be easily granted, by all such as thinke it reasona­ble, that for zeale of holinesse, Churches professedly reformed, come not short of Papists.

The minor proposition is proved by instance: Take those points of po­pery which are truly so called; that is, wherein they and we (the case so standing) doe, and must differ: and we shall all along still observe, that in all their doings, they aime at perfection in a Church-member. As first in their beliefe concerning Baptisme, they teach and beleeve, that Baptisme doth absolutely take away originall sinne; so that those motions of sin, or unto sinne, by some called reliquiae, or the remnants of sinne, are not sin properly, as indeed they are not of the person, but of the nature, as our Divines distinguish: Neither is it a specificall property of all sinne to be voluntary, by their owne confession, to in­stance in originall sinne in an infant. But put the case now, that a Church-member of theirs fall into a sinne, after Baptisme, they call mortall, they then fall upon another salve, for perfection, or visible ho­linesse in a Church-member, and that is their doctrine concerning pen­nance; wherein they teach, that auricular confession (which by them is made a Sacrament) conferring grace, doe restore them fully to that integritie which they received in Baptisme; and when they are thus restored, they have a doctrine that of such as are in grace, the Law can be fulfilled and kept; So that their after-obedience and pen­nance, doe not only ex congruo, but ex condigno, merit life eternall. And all these beliefes (though protestants doe justly except against, as hay, stubble, and wood, built upon the golden foundation of the christi­an profession;) yet from these tenents, as bad as they are, we may ga­ther thus much: That they thinke it a very unreasonable thing to ad­mit [Page 23] of a Church-member into communion in all the ordinances, which is not at least, visibly holy.

The eighteenth Argument is from hence: That no mischief, or spi­rituall danger can follow the taking into Church fellowship, Members only that are visibly holy: Thus,

Whatsoever can be profitably done, without the least prejudice, or spirituall hinderance of any one not taken in for a Member, that caete­ris paribus (that is to say, which can be done without any kind of in­convenience) ought to be put in practise: But the gathering of Mem­bers only visibly holy, can be practised without the least hazard of such as are not qualyfied; that is, they can run no spirituall hazard, or danger: Ergo, such kinde of Church gathering ought to be put in practise,

The major is easily proved, and may well serve for a [...], or signe of Gods will, and pleasure this way: for if there were the least hinderance to mans salvation by such a practise, we might safely say, this, or such a way could not be of God. For as among Divines, that sence of scripture is not to be received, which be­ing so taken oppugneth other scriptures: so neither is that thought to be Gods ordinance, which opposeth the generall good of mans salvation.

The minor is thus proved.

Whatsoever hindereth not either the covenant of Gods election, or the influence of the spirit from working faith and repentance; yea, which hindereth not the increase of grace in any that are actually in Gods favour; that cannot be a prejudice to the salvation of any, but to take in for Members of a Church, such onely as are visibly holy, doth none of these; it neither hindereth the covenant of Gods electi­on, nor the influence of the spirit in working faith and repentance, nei­ther doth it hinder the increase of grace in any that are actually in Gods favour,

Ergo to take in only such qualified Members is safely and securely to be practised.

The major being granted.

The minor proposition is grounded from the example of the woman of Canaan, who was no visible Member of a Church; and yet her faith was greater then any's in Israel.

[Page 24]If indeed we were popish in our beliefe, that the Sacraments were not only seales, but meanes of grace, so farre that they give grace ex opere operate; then there might be some question in the point: But our beliefe is, that one either well catechised, or preached unto, wanteth nothing externall, simply necessary to salvation.

If any doe now object, that if we can with such safety be out of this externall Church communion, wherefore then, as well not out as in, to what end is it to become a member? To which we answer; First, that this might be as safely objected to any professed ordinance, which all acknowledge to be of God. May we not thus except a­gainst Baptisme, or the word preached? May not reading serve instead of preaching; or is it not enough to hear of the doctrin of Baptisme? There­fore as in such cavils the usuall answer is: That not the want of an Ordi­nance, but the contempt, is damnable; and that ordinance is contemn­ed, which we might enjoy, and do not. The same answer will serve for this present purpose: When we may become members, and are not gathered, tis our contempt. Secondly, this exception would serve, if we held that Church-communion were only for our selves; but this we doe not: Church-communion is for more necessary and import­ent ends; as first, that Gods will and command in this particular, might be fulfilled and done; and this all parties confesse, not only by their owne practise; but by beleeving the communion of Saints. Se­condly, this Church-fellowship is the Citie set upon an hill, and a light­ed candle set upon a candlestick, that others might see this [...]ly work, and so glorifie God for it in the day of their conversion.


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