SEVERALL QUERIES concerning the CHVRCH of JESUS CHRIST upon Earth, briefly ex­plained and Resolved.

Wherein is shewed and proved,

  • 1. That there is a Church of Jesus Christ upon earth.
  • 2. What this Church is?
  • 3. How a People become a Visible Church?
  • 4. That the Churches in England were at first right­ly Constituted?
  • 5. What manner of Government Jesus Christ hath ordained in and for his Church?
  • 6. What manner of Persons those ought to be, that may be continued in, or admitted into the Church?
  • 7. What is the duty of Church members towards Je­sus Christ their head, and one another.

By John Flowre M. A. Preacher at Staun­ton in the County of Nottingham.

London, Printed by T. Mabb for Edward Thomas and are to be sold at his Shop at the signe of the Adam and Eve in Little-brittain neer the Church, 1658.

TO THE Right Honourable, EDVVARD Lord, WHALEY, Lievetenant Generall of the Army: under his Highness OLIVER Lord Protector of the Common­wealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the Dominions there­to belonging.

Right Honourable,

THis which was at first conceived for the use and direction of my own Congregation; I have at the desire of some private Friends, suf­fered to be brought forth to a more pub­lick view; and I have also made bold to tender it to your Honour, which though I confess unworthy either of your judgment or acceptance; yet the coun­tenance and many respects which I have received from you, have heightned me to this presumption; hoping you will please to pardon that confidence in me, which your own favours and encour­agements have begotten. I hope I have not in this offended against the truth; I am sure I have not willingly, nor [Page]wittingly, if I have through ignorance, or mistake, I shall willingly be rectified, and be glad to see my errours: There­fore in such ca [...]e— Let the righteous smite me, Ps. 141.5. and it shall be a kindnesse, let him reprove me, it shall be an excellent oyle which shall not break my head.

In [...]y pre [...]enting this small piece to your honour, my ambition is onely to make an honourable and thankfull mention of your name: your deserts h ve merited a better monument than I am able to elect for them.

Your Noble and civill deportment towards all in the Counties, more espe­cially under your Command; chiefly your countenancing and encouraging of the pious & painfull Ministers of the Gospel, hath justly gained you a good report of all men, and of the truth it self; which honour that you may alwayes have, by still co tinuing stedfast, and un­moveable, and always abounding in the work the Lord, is the prayer of

Your Honours most obliged in all duty and service, JOHN FLOWRE.

TO My much esteemed friends and neigh­bours the Inhabitants of the Town and Parish of Staunton, in the County of Nottingham:

BY the providence of the most high, Isa 7. Acts 17.26. that hath appointed the tit es that are comming, and shall come, an [...]e­termined the bounds of each one ha [...]i­tation, I am seated among you in this place, Ps. 16.6. and I hope I shall have no other cause but that I may say with the Psalmist, the lines are fallen unto me in a good place:

I account not that so much a good place where there are good fields good corne, good pasture — But I account that a good place, where there is a good people, a people swift to hear, willing to be reformed ready to sub­mit to the Scepter, and dominion of the Lord Jesus, and not crying ou [...] like those Rebelli­ous Jews— Lu 7.19.14 we will not have this man reigne over us. I account such a place a good place, for it is not the fatnesse of the soile, but the fear of the Lord that maketh rich:

I blesse God I have received no discou­ragment since I came amongst you; I have not [Page]found you stubborne or perverse, froward, or refractory, or resisters of the word of truth, which hath been delivered to you, but I have found you rather humble and meek, and wil­ling to imbrace the Gospel, which as it is your praise, so it is also my happinesse and joy;

For what is it that makes the life of a Minister of the Gospel comfortable? I tell you (if he be a man that truly fears God, and is faithfull to his master) it is not the greatnesse of his Living, the fulness of his barnes — But it is the obedience of his people to gospel-precepts, their growing in grace, their adding to faith vertue, and to vertue knowledge, and to know­ledge temperance, 2. Pet. 1.5. and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godlinesse brotherly kindnesse, and to brotherly kindnesse charity; their willingnesse to be reformed, their readinesse to receive the truth with love, their not be­ing barren nor unfruitfull in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ:

O! The blessing of God upon his labours in Spiritualizing his people, this refresheth him, when he seeth dead people quickned, enemies to Christ reconciled, children of wrath become children of grace, those that were afar off, now made nigh, [Page]strangers from the covenant now in­terested in the promise, there is no grea­ter joy to a sincere minister of the Gospel than this.

This was St. 3 Ioh. 1.4. Johns greatest comfort — I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walke in the truth.

O what a rejoycing is this! when a Mi­nister can say of his people, as St. Paul could of his Corinthians, 1 Cor. 6.11—But ye are washed but ye are sanctified — and to the Ro­mans to whom he preached— Ye were the Servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart the forme of doctrine which was delivered unto you: Ro. 6.17.

But ah! what woe is it to a faithfull mi­nister, that when he hath spent himself, and his pains for many years, yet is forced to com­plaine with the Prophet— Lord who hath beleeved our report? Isa. 53.1. They were servants of sin, and they are so still, they have not obeyed from the heart the form of doctrine delivered to them:

They were thieves, covetuous, whore­mongers, drunkards, Revilers, Scorners and they are so still, — they are not washed, they are not sanctified — an [...] this is an heart-breaking to a sincere Mini­ster of Jesus Christ, and many such there are [Page]that with the Prophet, Ier. 13.17. mourn in secret for this thing.

I must confesse. I have what respects I can desire from you in relation to things temporal, and my endeavours shall be to gratifie you with things that are spirituall, which are of the greatest concernment in the world.

Our main businesse in this world should be, to labor to make your calling and election sure— To be diligent that at the ap­pearing of our Lord Jesus Christ to judg­ment we may be found without spot and blameless: men indeed make other businesse then this, But alass! That so little regarded saying of our Lord Jesus Christ will be pro­ved true one day —What will it pro­fit a man to win the world and lose his soule?

While providence shall continue me among you in this place, my endeavour shall be (by Gods assistance) to set you in heaven-way, to be plaine, and faithfull to you in things of soul concernment;

To tell you that you are altogether such as ye ought to be, all reall christians, a vi­sible Church, such as have a right to the sa­crament, an interest in the promises — I dare not sow such pillows under your armes if I should, well might you suspect me of daub­ing, I mean, with untempred morter.

But I shall endeavour to shew you out of the Scriptures, who are Christians indeed, not only by a change of name, but by a change of nature also; who are a true visible Church of Jesus Christ: what manner of persons they are and ought to be, to whom Seals and Promises are given, and if you be, or become such, then may I tell you without deceiving you, that you are Christians indeed, a Church indeed, have a right to the Seals and promises of the Go­spel indeed.

If a Parish or People be altogether pro­fane, atheisticall, dead in sins and trespasses, without any favour or taste of spirituall things— To tell such a people that they are good Christians, a visible Church, have a right to the Sacrament— is no other then to cheat them of the truth, harden them in their sins, and lead them blindfold to destru­ction: A formall and generall Preacher that words, and phrases out his own wisdom, tickling the ears without touching the hearts or awaking the consciences of his hearers, he may have the praise and applause of men, but not the praise and peace of God; give me the latter, let who will take the for­mer.

It will be worth all his pains and suffer­ings, if a Minister drawing men to his latter end, and ready to give up an account of his stewardship, can appeale unto God and his Congregation, as once Samuel (ready to die) did unto the people in another case, 1 Sam. 12.— Whose Oxe or whose Ass have I taken? whom have I defrauded? So when a Minister, — what soul have I be­guiled? What soul have I defrauded? What soul have I hardened in sin by covering, and not discovering the truth, and danger of its estate to it? What people have I deceived by telling them, they were Christians, when they were not? a Church, when they were not, had a right to the Kingdome of heaven, and the seals thereof when they had not? to be able to say thus, will be worth some­thing one day; O that all that take upon them the Ministry of the Gospel would con­sider this. If plain dealing have outward disturbance, yet it hath inward peace.

But indeed an ingenious people, whose reason and understanding is not quite lost, or infatuated, will in time make good that say­ing of the wise mans; Pro. 28.23. That he that rebuketh a man afterward shall finde more favour, than he that flatter­eth with his tongue.

My endeavour therefore shall be to cause you to know your miserable estate by nature, and the remedy thereof by grace; To cause you to look into that great mystery, the infi­nite love of God in Jesus Christ, in that great work of your dedemption through him, that ye may know the Lord Jesus & the pow­er of his Resurrection, and the fellow­ship of his sufferings, being made con­formable unto his death: That when I am called to give an account of my Steward­ship amongst you, I may do it with joy, and not with griefe: Ministers of all men had need to look about them, for they must give account for more souls than their own; and if any be lost through their default, Ezek. 3.18 that blood will be required at their bands:

I would not at the day of judgement be found in the condition of a negligent, idle, Pastor, that hath fleec'd, and not fed his flock, for ten thousand worlds: Not in his con­dition, 1 Cor. 2.4 that daubs with untemperd mor­ter, that speaks smooth things, that preacheth not in the demonstration of the spirit, and of power, but with the inticing words of mans wisdome.

For fearefull will be the end of such a man when Jesus Christ and he shall reckon [Page]together; for so many sheep, lost through the earelesness of the shepheard.

It was the saying of one, That of all men that should be saved Ministers should be the fewest: Indeed they have the greatest charge, and are subject to the sorest tempta­tions, and it is to be feared that many Mini­sters, either for fear or love, or some other worldly respect may offend too much against their commission, which bids them cry a­loud and spare not, Isa. 58.1. lift up thy voice like a trumpet, shew my people their sinns, and the house of Israel their transgres­sions; and so hazard themselves too neere the pickes of Gods eternall vengeance and displeasure; which thing of all other I most fear; and therefore through grace shall la­bour to avoid; which I cannot do, unlesse I look strictly unto you over whom I set an O­verseer; therefore blame me not if I be plain and earnest with you to press you for­ward towards the mark of the price of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus; Phil. 3: 14. If I should be negligent herein, your blood would be upon my head; The Lord pardon my neglects past.

I had rather disturbe my own peace (if it must be so) and trouble the water to stir you out of the lees of carnall security, than to [Page]have you curse me, and accuse me before God at the day of judgement, for the decei­ver and betrayer of your soules.

I blesse God I can say (through the grace given me) that my destre is (so farre as I know my own heart) not to seek yours but you; I had rather see you thrive in spiri­tuals than my self in temporals; and my greatest encouragement among you will be, to see you walking in and obedient un­to the truth.

If you will give up your names to Je­sus Christ, if you will obey the Gospel, and not run with the wicked of the world into the same excess of riot, you must look for many oppositions, affronts, scornes, reproaches — but passe thorough all these with patience, looking unto the End, Jesus, the Au­thor and Finisher of your Faith; who for the joy that was set before him, en­dured the Cross, despising the shame, Heb. 12.1. and is now set down at the right-hand of God; and there if you run with pa­tience the race that is set before you, shall you sit down also; — For which things sake I shall alwayes bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that he would grant you, [Page]according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might, Ephes. 3.14. by his Spi­rit in the inward man: That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all Saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth know­ledge. That ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

J. FLOWRE.

Severall Questions concerning the Church of Jesus Christ upon earth.
Concerning the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ upon earth, I find these Questions moved a­mongst others:

  • First,WHether there be any such thing as a Church of Jesus Christ upon earth?
  • Secondly, What is the Church of Jesus Christ?
  • Thirdly, How do a people become a true visible Church of Jesus Christ at first?
  • Fourthly, Whether the Churches of England vvere at first rightly constituted?
  • Fifthly, What Government hath Jesus Christ Ordained in and for his Church?
  • Sixthly, What manner of persons those ought to be, that are in the judgement of Charity to be lookt upon as visible Members of the Church?
  • Seaventhly, What are the duties of Church-Members towards Jesus Christ, and one an­other?

Severall Queries con­cerning the Church of Christ.

Section I. Containing an Answer to the first Question.

IF there were not those that denied the Scriptures to be the word of God, and Jesus Christ the Son of God, it might then be ad­mired that any should question,

Whether there be a Church of Je­sus [Page 2]Christ a upon earth? For to deny this is to deny an Article of the Christian Creed, to accuse the holy Scriptures of folly and impertinen­ces, to defame our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

If there be no such thing as a Church of his upon earth, what meant our Lord Jesus Christ when he said— Mat. 16.8 Ʋpon this Rock will I build my Church? What meant St. Paul, 1 Cor. 1.2. 2 Cor. 1.1. when he directed his Epistle to the Church of God which is at Co­rinth? Rev. 2. Why doth the Spirit write to the Angel of the Church of Ephesus, of the Church in Smyrna?

Those therefore that deny a Church of Jesus Christ upon earth are not of so much worth as either to be named, or disputed withall, but they are to be rejected by all sober and judicious Christians, as those that have together with their Faith made shiprack of their Reason also.

Section. II. Containing an answer to the se­cond Question, What is the Church of Jesus Christ?

The word which in English is rendred a Church, is in the O­riginall [...], which word is u­sed in the Gospel to signifie a Church of Jesus Christ: And this word [...], or Church doth signifie A company Called out; from [...], which signifies to call out from among others.

And again this word [...], which we Translate a Church is sometimes used to signifie any as­sembly called together upon any occasion; Act. 19.33. For the Assembly was con­fused; the word then translated as­sembly is in the Original [...], so the same word is rendred an as­sembly, Act. 19.39, 41.

But this word Ecclesia, or Church, [Page 4]we in our speech do use, to signifie a sacred assembly or meeting, or combination of Gods people.

Our English word Church signi­fies an assembly of Gods people, or those that desire to fear the Lord; For it is very probable that our word Church, com's from the Ger­man word Kirch, which is derived from the Greek word [...], which signifies the flock or people of God.

We use the word Church also by a Metonymie, for the place, or house where the Church or the people of God meet, 1 Cor. 11.18 Calling that a Church.

But to speak properly, the Church of Jesus Christ is his peo­ple built of living and not of dead and sensless stones; 1 Pet. 2.5. and this Church of Jesus Christ is a company of people Joh. 15.19. Rev. 18 4. call'd out of the world, serving Jesus Christ as their Lord and King, 1 Thes. 4 7. Rom. 6.17. Act. 2.42. Living under, and sub­mitting [Page 5]unto all his holy ordinan­ces.

A true visible Church of Jesus Christ is not a profane, wicked as­sembly, an assembly of Notorious Drunkards, Whoremongers Swea­rers, and the like; But an holy as­sembly, called out from among these; 1 Cor. 6.11 Such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are Sanctified.

Not an assembly of such as only serve their own bellies, lusts, passions sin, satan, the times, but an assemb­ly of such as turn from these Idols to serve the living and true God.

Not an assembly refractory, and disobedient to Gospel-Ordinances mockers & scoffers of holy things and duties, But such as do submit themselves to the Laws, commands ordinances of Jesus Christ as their duty, and but Rom. 12.1. Reasonable service.

Section. III. Containing an answer to the third question? How do a people be­come a true visible church of Jesus Christ at first?

A People become a true visible Church of Jesus Christ by entering into an holy covenant with the Lord, to take him for their God and King, to be ruled and directed by his word, and to submit unto all his holy ordinan­ces.

Thus we finde in the Scripture when God did constitute Abra­ham's Family a church, I mean re­ceive them into a church-estate, it was by entering them into such a Gen. 17. covenant as before, of which circumcision was a seale.

That which they covenanted with God was, Gen. 17.1 To walk before him and be perfect; and God covenan­ted [Page 7]with them to verse 7. be their God, and the God of their feed, and so they came into a church-estate. This was the way of the Apostles in their constitution of Churches; Those people whom the Apostles did receive into a church-estate, it was by engaging them to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and to sub­mit to his holy ordinances.

This is plain if we read the 2. of the Acts v. 41. There were three thousand received into a church-estate, which before neither were a church, nor of the church of Je­sus Christ; And how came these to be a church? why v. 41. v. 41. they gladly received the word preach­ed to them; according to that word v. 38. v. 38: they did evidence their re­pentance for Sin past, (which in­cludes an engagement to serve God for the future) and upon this they were baptized, and became a church, v. 41.

So when the Apostles received particular persons into the Church which before were not of it, these did covenant for to take the Lord for their God, to own, and serve him, & so they became added un­to the church. Acts 19. many be­came added unto the Church, But we read that they were such as believed, such as confessed their sins, such as shewed their deeds, such as burned their profane books, — Thus they covenanting to serve the Lord were received into the church.

Thus it is clear that a company of people do become a church by entering into an holy Covenant with the Lord their God to own him, and serve him:

Therefore the church is called the Cant 4.8, 9 10. Spouse of Jesus Christ, by which name the church could not pro­perly be called, had she not entred into an holy conjugall covenant [Page 9]with Jesus Christ to be loyall and faithfull to him, for this is essential to the relation of a Spouse or wife that she enter covenant with her husband to be loyall and faithfull to him.

And as the church is rightly called the Spouse of Jesus Christ by vertue of this her covenant, so is the Lord also called the hus­band of his church or Spouse, for he doth covenant with her, Levit 26.12 Gen. 11, 1. that he will be her God, her sheild, her exceeding great reward, that he will never faile her nor forsake her, —.

The sum of the answer then to this third Question is this,

That a company of people be­come a church or under the rela­tion of the wife and Spouse of Je­sus Christ, by entering into an ho­ly covenant with him to take him for their Lord and God, and to submit unto all his holy Ordinan­ces [Page 10]without such a covenant their could be no such relation betwixt Jesus Christ and the Church as there is, for all relations of that nature are founded upon Cove­nant.

Section. IV. Containing the answer to the fourth question: Whether the churches of England were at first rightly constituted?

IF the people of England were constituted a Church, or gather­ed into a church-way, in that way and after that manner that the A­postles did constitute a church, or Churches, or gather a people in­to a Church-way at first, then the people of England were at first rightly constituted a Church, or gathered into a Church-way:

But the people of England were at first constituted a Church, or [Page 11]gathered into a Church-way in that way and after that manner that the Apostles did constitute a Church, or Churches, or gather a people into a Church-way, There­fore the people of England were at first rightly constituted a church or gathered into a Church-way.

The major proposition is unde­niable; the minor I thus prove:

If the people of England were constituted a Church, or gathered into a Church-way, upon their re­ceiving of the word, forsaking of heathenish superstitions and ido­latry, and embracing the faith of Jesus Christ, & engaging to serve him:

Then they were constituted a Church, or gathered into a church way, Acts 2. chap. 19. in that way and after that manner, that the Apostles did con­stitute a Church or Churches, or gather a people into a Church way,

But the people of England were constituted a Church, or gathered into a Church-way upon their re­ceiving of the word, forsaking of heathenish superstitions and Ido­latry, and embracing the faith of Jesus Christ, and engaging to serve him,

Therefore they were constitu­ted a Church or gathered into a Church-way, in that way, and af­ter that manner that the Apostles did constitute a Church, or Church­es, or gather a people into a Church way.

The sequel of the major propo­sition is undeniable; The minor proposition is proved by all the hi­stories relating to those times, which declare that the Infidel, Pa­gan people of England, by the preaching of salvation through Jesus Christ were converted unto the faith, forsaking heathenish su­perstition and Idolatry: And in­deed [Page 13]our own sence and reason must needs induce us to be per­swaded of this; for if this were not a truth, how then came they our progenitors by the name and religion of Christians; which we their successors do retaine to this day, being derived from them to us.

The name of Christian, by which they were called, the exercise of Christian religion, which they pra­ctis'd upon the preaching of the Gospel doth abundantly prove that relinquishing Paganisme and Idolatrous worship; They did imbrace the faith of Jesus Christ.

And that they did also at that time covenant to take and own Je­sus Christ as their Lord and only saviour by serving him and sub­mitting to his holy ordinances, the very act of their Baptisme is suffi­cient to informe and convince all intelligent and considerate per­sons; For what Infidel, or Infidels [Page 14](I mean such as were so brought up, and so lived for many yeares) were ever baptised before they had given evidence of their faith in Christ, repentance, and resoluti­on to own Christ as their Lord and King for the time to come.

That the Apostles baptised none that were brought up in Paganism and Infidelity without such evi­dence, and engagement as before, is very clear in the Scriptures, yea, so evident, that it is past doubt or question: Shall we then think or dare to say that those who tooke upon them to be Ministers of Je­sus Christ in those dayes, when England was an Infidel & Pagan Nation, and were sent hither to preach the Gospel to this Nation, then in such estate as before, I say shall we dare to judge or think, or speak that these baptis'd the peo­ple then of this Nation without evidences of faith & repentance, [Page 15]and engagements to own and serve Jesus Christ as their Lord, and God, I am sure if they did ever or could but read the Scriptures, they could not be ignorant whom they ought to baptise, and upon what evidence, and far be it from me to judge or think that they would be wittingly and knowing­ly so injurious to the truth, the Sa­crament of Baptisme, and practise of the Apostles, as to baptise the then people of this Nation with­out some manifestations of their faith and repentance, and resolu­tions to own and serve Jesus Christ for the time to come, as their Lord and Saviour:

I can hardly believe that any man will censure the first conver­ters, & Baptisers of our nation, ei­ther to be men ignorant of, or ma­litious against the truth, one of which they must needs judge them to be, if they say they bapti­sed [Page 16]without such evidences of faith and repentance as before.

But if these first converters did by the preaching of Jesus Christ to the Pagans of England turn them from their Idols to embrace the said faith, and upon the said evidences of faith, repentance and resolutions to cleave to Jesus Christ as their only redeemer, did admit them to be baptised, then they did rightly constitute them a Church, or gather them into a Church-way according to the manner and practice of the Apo­stles recorded in the Scriptures, which that they thus did, is both a probable and charitable judg­ment, That they did not, is a rash and unchristian like censure:

Ob. But the Church of England had its constitution from Rome, therefore it was never rightly, constituted, neither is a true Church;

Sol. To this I answer, that the ante­cedent is not altogether true, pos­sibly [Page 17]it may be, grant it in relati­on to a part, not in relation to the whole.

For ought I know, or any one can disprove, there might be a Church of Christ in England nere as soon as there was one in Rome.

The Scriptures do indeed de­clare that there was a Church in Rome in the Apostles times, and therefore we may believe it; The Scriptures do not deny that there was a Church of Christ in England in those dayes, the Chronicles and Histories, relating to those times affirme it, and therefore I see not why it should be contradicted.

Tis true those Histories say not that the whol Nation of England did embrace the Faith of Christ when it was first preach'd unto them (as is conceived either by some of the Apostles, or Apostoli­call then, as Philip, or Simon Zelotes, or Joseph of Arimathea) but part [Page 18]of the Nation did, and were then gathered into a Church-way;

For about six hundred years af­ter this, when Augustine was sent from Rome, by Gregory, the then Bishop of Rome, to endeavour the conversion of the whole Nation, he found both a Ministery and Churches of Jesus Christ setled in the Land:

For at his first coming, he (as the History relates) assembled together the Bishops and Doctors of Britaine to discourse and reason with them; and to re­quest their assistance for the con­version of the Pagan English, So that we may say, and that truly, that Christianity was in England propagated, but not at first planted by Rome.

But grant this that Augustine was the first that planted the Christian faith in England, and that there were neither Ministery [Page 19]nor Church, before ordained, and gathered by him, and his assistants, what is this to the now unchurch­ing of the Church in England, or the wrong constitution of it at the time.

Obj. The ministry and churches of England were ordained and constituted by Augustine and his as­sistants who were sent from Rome.

Therefore the Ministery and Churches of England had no right constitution and Ordination.

Sol. I deny the consequence; & if any man will go about to prove it, it will be necessary that he prove and make appeare that the Mini­stery, and Church of Rome were at that time a false and Antichirst­an Ministery and Church:

But I think it is a clear case that the Church of Rome was then (though a corrupt) yet a true Church, & so continued for many yeares after that time.

Yea, it is the opinion of some Godly, learned, and judicious, (from whom I see no Reason to dis­sent) that the Church of Rome did not quite fall off from Christ, or turne utterly Antichristian un­till the Councel of Trent, at which time the said Church of Rome did by a publick Councel disowne and destroy the very fundamentalls of Christian religion, which she ne­ver did before that time; at which time these absurd & antichristian and unchurching errors were de­creed and published as the faith of the Church of Rome, and all were accursed and excommumicated that assented not unto these abo­minations,

  • 1. Popes supremacy.
  • 2. Dividing the bread and wine in the Sacrament, allowing the people no wine.
  • 3. Justification by works.
  • 4. Worshipping of images.
  • [Page 21]5. That the people ought not to read the Scripturess.
  • 6. That Traditions ought to be believed as Scripture.

Now these abominations, which make desolate (I mean unchurch) the Church of Rome, were not set up by publick decree and con­sent in the said Church untill the said Councel of Trent:

'Tis true the Mystery of iniquity did work before, and these abo­minations as before were creeping into that church, but they were corrected & exploded by several Councells.

The Councels of Calcedon, Af­frick, Constantinople, Milevi, Basil, decreed against the Popes Supre­macy; the Councel of Basil decreed communicating in both kinds.

The divine worshipping of Images was forbid by the second Nicene Councel; the Councel of Nice de­creed that no Christian should be [Page 22]without a Bible: To believe Tra­ditions to be equall with the Scri­ptures, to hold justification by works was never decreed by any Councel, nor held out as the Faith of that Church before the Councel of Trent.

So that I may say, though the Mystery of iniquity was many hundreds of years a working, yet the disease came not to its full height and state, so as to destroy the body until that time, I mean the Councel of Trent.

So that the Church of Rome not having declared a publick dis­owning of the Faith and Gospel­fundamentalls untill the Councel of Trent, I see no reason as yet, why shee may not be called a true Church untill that time; I say a true Church, though a Church ve­ry corrupt; As a man may be cal­led a true man, though never so sick, and weak, and diseased, until [Page 23]by the extremity and height of the mallady he becomes dead; so a Church, may truly be called a Church, though very sick, diseas'd & corrupt, untill by making ship­wrack of the Faith, and erring in fundamentalls, it expires.

Thus it is clear that grant it were so (as it was not) that the Ministery and Church of England, as to the whole, were ordained and constituted by Augustine and other assistants from Rome, yet this con­cludes nothing at all against the right ordination and constitution of the Ministry and Churches of England, because the Church of Rome was at that time (though very corrupt) yet a true Church.

Ob. But it is objected the church­es of England were not rightly constituted, because the people be­came Christians not by the mini­stry of the word, but by the com­mands [Page 24]and edicts of their Kings who after they were converted, commanded all their subjects and people to embrace the said faith and religion.

Sol. To this I answer that the matter of this objection is wholly false and Scandalous;

It is wholly false that the Pagan people of England became Chri­stians after the conversion of their Kings, by penal Laws and edicts of their said Soveraignes.

After Augustine had converted Ethelberg King of Kent to the Chri­stian faith, let any one, if he can shew any such act or edict, put forth by him to enjoyne all his subjects to embrace the said reli­gion upon any penaltie or forfei­ture; If there were any such thing, it would surely be upon record.

But we read the contrary of him, we read of this King Ethel­berg that after he was converted, [Page 25] Innumerable others dayly came in, Mr. Fox Acts Mo­numents 1. vol. page. 1656. and were adjoyned to the Church of Christ, whom the King did specially embrace, but compelling none, for so be had learned, that the faith and service of Christ ought to be volunta­ry and not coact.

And so I read of the other Kings that then reigned in this Land; that after they were converted to the Faith of Jesus Christ, they en­couraged Ministers to go into their Countries, and preach to their Subjects; and by this means became the Pagan people of Eng­land to be Christians, & a Church, by the preaching of the Gos­pel to them, and not by compul­satory Laws of their Kings: And they that do gainsay this, it will be easy to prove that they are either ignorant or perverse.

Mr. Cotton late of New-England, a man of great learning and reve­rence, though he fully assented [Page 26]not to ye way of the Churches of Eng­land, and therefore separated from them, yet he never found fault with their constitution at first, for as to this he declares himself thus:

The efficient instruments of their first plantation (meaning the Churches of England) which were neither Apostles, or Apostolicall men, whether Phillip, or Joseph of Ari­mathea, or Simon Zelotes, as any of our Country men may read in Mr. Fox's Book of Acts and Monu­ments, out of Gildas, Tertul­lian, Origen, Beda, Nicephorus, which being so, we cannot but con­ceive the Churches in England were rightly gathered and planted accor­ding to the rule of the Gospell: And all the corruptions found in them since have sprung from Popish Apo­stacy in succeeding Ages, and for want of thorough and perfect purging out of that Leaven in the late times of Reformation, in the dayes of our [Page 27]Fathers: Cottons way Chur­ches New-England. So that all the work now is, not to make them Churches which were none before, but to reduce and restore them to their Primitive Insti­tution: Thus Mr. Cotton. And it being granted that the Churches in England were rightly constitu­ted and gathered at first, it will ea­sily be proved that there hath con­tinued a true Church in this Land unto this day, though very corrupt and impure, especially when sub­ject to the Papall yoke: Yet in those saddest times of corruption and persecution, God had his Church and Ministery in England, who witnessed to the Truth, and appeared for a Reformation of such corruptions & abuses in the Church, though many of these by the power of a prevaling faction in suffered for such zeal and love to the Church the Truth.

I say, the Church in England under the greatest Corruption, [Page 28]was never without some Witnesses, some Names, which suppose they were but a few, in comparison of the greater part that corrupted themselves, and were made drunk with the wine of fornication spo­ken of, Rev. 14.8. Yet will not God disown that to be a Church when these (though but few) names be found.

God own'd them to be a Church in Rev. 3.1 verse 4. Sardis, and yet tells them they had but a few names which had not defiled their garments. And though the Church in England might be reproved of corruption in Doctrine, yet this did not un­Church her, no more than it did the Church of Pergamus, which God owned to be a Church, though they held the Doctrine of Baalam. Rev. 2.14.

Though the Church in England might be justly reproved of cor­ruption in manners, and disci­pline, [Page 29]yet this did not un-Church her, no more than it did the Corin­thians, whom St. Paul calleth a Church of God; though in the same Epistle he reproveth them both for their corruption in man­ners and discipline. 1 Cor. 11.21

Though in the Church of Eng­land by the power of a prevalent factious party, cha 3.1, 2, 3 chap. 5. many of the preci­ous Saints of God were put to death, yet this doth no more un-Church her than the same sin did the people of the Jews, whom God al along own'd as his Church, though a prevalent, wicked, facti­ous party among them killed the Mat. 23.37. Prophets, and stoned the Messen­gers of the Lord that were sent unto them.

The Church in England since its first Institution unto this day, cannot be justly charged to have made shipwrack of the faith of Jesus Christ, by dis­owning, [Page 30]or erring in any thing fundamentall to that Faith, or ne­cessary to the esse or being of a Church: Therefore the Church in England continues to be a Church of God still.

As for her many and grievous corruptions both in Doctrine, di­scipline and manners, they are sad­ly to be bewailed, and diligently to be reformed: These blemish and disbeautify a Church, and justly provoke God against it: These are inconsistent as to the well being, but not to the being of a Church.

And though the Church in Eng­land did joyne with and own the Church of Rome, whilst the said Church held the fundamentals of Christian Religion, and was sound in matters of Faith; yet when the said Church of Rome did begin to faulter there, to deny fundamen­tal verities, and make ship­wrack [Page 31]of the faith, which she hath done since the Councell of Trent, at that very time did the Church in England refuse her the right hand of fellowship, disown, and sepa­rate from her, and so continues unto this day.

After this manner also did the reformed Churches in Germany, Suevia, Denmark, France—sepa­rate themselves from that faction of Rome, and likewise so continue at this day.

They that deny the Ministery and Churches in England to be a true Ministry and true Churches, must of necessity also assert, de­fend and affirm these (to me) most horrid and desperate Con­clusions.

First, Conc. 1 That the reformed Churches beyond the Seas, are no true Churches, but false and Anti­christian Churches and Ministery.

The Reason is, because the [Page 32]Church in England and these Re­formed Churches reach out the right hand of fellowship to each other, have the same Baptism, the same Ordinances, the same Ordi­nation, the same Discipline as to the substance of it: Therefore if the one be false and Antichristian, the other cannot be a true and Christian Church, or Churches.

Secondly, Conc. 2 That Luther, Cal­vin, and all those famous Lights, and happy Reformers of the Churches beyond the Seas, were false and Antichristian Ministers.

Thirdly, Conc. 3 That Cranmer, Rid­ley, Latimer, Tayler, and many more, who laboured much the Reformation of the Church in England from Romish superstition, and were famous instruments, as to that work, and afterward sealed unto the truth with their blood, and are now Triumphing in hea­ven, that all these were limbs of [Page 33]Antichrist, and no Ministers of Je­sus Christ.

Fourthly, Conc. 4 That there hath been no true Church nor Ministery of Jesus Christ for many hundreds of years upon earth: For if neither in England nor beyond the Seas, where then hath it been?

Now if Satan did so prevail a­gainst the Church, as utterly to raze the very foundation of it, how will this consist with that word of our Saviours? Mat. 16.18 Ʋpon this Rock will I build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. If there hath ever ceased to be a true Ministery upon earth, how will this again consist with that promise of our Lords, Mat. 28.2. Loe I will be with you unto the end of the world?

Fifthly, Conc. 5 That there hath been no true conversion of Soules unto God for these many hundreds of years in England; but that all have continued dead in sins and tres­passes, [Page 34] Children of wrath, without Christ, aliens from the Common­wealth of Israel, strangers from the Covenant of Promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: This was the condition of the Ephesians whilst they were no Church, Ephes. 2. nor had a Gospel-Ministery amongst them: And this hath been for ma­ny hundreds of years, and still is the sad condition of England, if without a Church and true Mini­sters of Jesus. I cannot see how that ture conversion should be wrought by a false and Antichri­christian Ministery, Jer. 23.32. I sent them not nor commanded them, there fore they shall not profit this people at all saith the Lord. Therefore by what Ministery a people profit, & are converted from sin and Satan, to serve the Lord and fear him, from living profanely, ungodly, rudely, to live soberly, and righte­ously, and godly in the world, it [Page 35]is a sure signe that Ministery is from God, owned, and sent by him:

Therefore seeing by denying the Church and Ministry in Eng­land to be a true Church and Mi­nistery, such abhorred conclusions as before must also be asserted, it seems to me not onely to be an error, but a furor, a phrensy in some men, to run themselves upon such dreadfull Rocks as these.

Sect. V. Containing an Answer to the first Question.
What Government hath our Lord Je­sus Christ ordained in, and for his Church?

TO this I Answer, That a Go­vernment and discipline in the Church is to be observed by [Page 36]divine right; for God is the God of order and not of confusion; without this, the Church would rather seem a Babel than a Bethel, and therefore we must of necessity conclude a Church-Government 1 Cor. 12.28 by Divine right.

But although the thing it self be granted, yet the manner how, or way, is much disputed by god­ly and learned men.

Now as the Scriptures do clear­ly hold out that there ought to be a Church-Government, so they do also instruct us in the way, and not altogether leave us in the dark in a thing of so great concernment as this:

Therefore let us search the Scriptures, they are sufficient to informe us as to this case; or else how can the Scriptures be truly said to be P [...] Tim. 3. [...]15 perfect, if they fall short and cannot informe in a case of so high concernment as this? How [Page 37]can they be said to be sufficient to make a man 2 Tim. 3.17 wise, if they leave him ignorant in this so weighty a matter?

How can they be said to be suf­ficient to make the man of God 1 Tim. 5.17 perfect & thorowly to furnish him unto all good works, if they in­forme him not as to the managing of church government, which is a great, and a good work, and who­soever manage it well, in St. Pauls esteeme, are worthy of double ho­nour.

Therefore let us hear the Scrip­tures speake, as to the way of church-Government.

To a Government be it either Civil or Sacred are necessary these three things.

1. Ordinances.
Ordinances to be submitted unto.
2. Officers.
Officers to rule, and see to submissions unto and obser­vance of Gods Or­dinances.
3. Penalties.
Penalties to be in­flicted on offen­ders.

These are all necessary to church-Government: Prayer, Singing of Psalms, the Sacraments are Church-Ordinances

1. There must be church Or­dinances to be submitted unto and observed; and the Scripture tells us that these are,

First, Prayer, so 1 Tim. 2.1.

Secondly, Singing of Psalms, Psal. 9.11. Mat. 26.30. Acts 16.25.

Thirdly, Ministery of the word, Rom. 10.15. Mark. 16.15. Eph. 4.12.

Fourthly, The Sacraments of Baptisme, Mat. 28.18.

The Lords Supper, Mat. 26.26. Luke 22.19.

Thus for Church-Ordinances the Scripture declares clearly what they are that we ought to submit to and observe:

2. There must be Church Officers too, or else no Govern­ment;

Now as to Church Officers, the Scriptures do usually call some by the name of Elders, and do seem to make two Sorts of them.

First, Elders that did both teach and rule,

Secondly, Elders that rul'd but taught not:

Teaching Elders or Pastors and Teachers of the Church, the Scriptures declare that these are to be in the Church as Officers, Rulers, Overseers, for in the 4. of the Ephe. 8, 9, 10, 11. We there read that be­sides other extraordinary Officers which were but pro tempore in the Church, So Acts 20.17, 28. 1 Cor: 12.28 Pastors and Teachers are to be in the Church to the end.

And as the Scripture tells us there ought to be Pastours and Teachers in the Church as Church-Officers, so it tells also first how these should be ordained to their Office. Secondly, How they should be qualified for their Office.

First, How ordained to the Of­fice, that is by Acts 13.3 1 Tim. 4.14 Prayer and Imposi­tion of the hands of the Presbytery.

Secondly, How they should be qualified for the Office.

First, They should be men of gifts and parts, 2 Tim 3 2 1 Tim. 3.1, 2 apt to Teach.

Secondly, Men of Holy lives and conversations, 2 Tim 3 2 1 Tim. 3.1, 2 not Scanda­lous.

A Second sort of Church. Offi­cers, which the Scripture calls El­ders also, seem to be such as were not (as we use to say) in Ecclesi­asticall Orders; but some of the Church, gravest and wisest of the Church, who were chosen to help and as­sist the Teaching Elders, in the [Page 41]Rule and Government of the Church: That there were such Church-Officers as these in the A­postles times, these Texts of Scri­pture seems to hold forth, 1 Tim. 5.17. Let the Elders that rule well— especially who labour in the Word and Doctrine.

This place seems to speak of two distinct sorts of Elders, the one Ruling onely, the other both Ruling, and Teaching also, and here the Apostle bids honour both sorts, but especially those El­ders that Taught the Church as well as Rul'd it.

The word especially seems there to make this distinction of Elders, for this word [...] especially, is commonly used by St. Paul to distinguish persons or things, in the same place spoken of, so Gal. 6.10. Do good unto all, especially to those that be of the houshold of Faith; here the word especially signifies [Page 42]that there were some of the hous­hold of Faith, some not, we must do good unto all, but especially to those of that houshold: So, 1 Tim. 5.17. The Elders that Rule well ac­count worthy of double honour, espe­cially those that labour in the Word and Doctrine; here the word espe­cially seems to signify that some of those Elders did labour in the Word & Doctrine, some did not, both were to be honoured, if they ruled well, but especially those Elders that both Ruled well, and laboured in the Word and Do­ctrine also: So in Rom. 2.6, 7, 8.— Or Ministery, let us wait on our Mi­nistering, or he that Teacheth on teaching, or he that Exhorteth on ex­hortation, he that Ruleth with dili­gence; here seemeth to be an Offi­cer that was not to wait upon teaching, but onely upon ruling: And we seem to retain these El­ders or Officers still in the Church [Page 43]in England, under the name of Church-Wardens, the name signi­fies as much as Church-Guardians, or Church-Rulers.

Another sort of Church-Officers that we finde mentioned in Scrip­ture are called by the name of Dea­cons, 1 Tim. 3.8. their office to gather the Churches contribution, and to ad­minister to the poor members; of this Officer the Church will have alwayes need, Mat. 26.11. The poor ye have al­wayes with you:

These Officers we have in the Churches in England, under the Name of Overseeres of the poor,

Thus the Scripture doth informe us what Officers are to be in the Church, for the rule and better or­dering of it.

3. There must be Church penalties; without a penalty to be inflicted upon obstinate Offenders, neither Ordinances nor Officers (in any kinde of Government) will be regarded.

Therefore, for the carrying on of discipline, and Government in his Church, and that a better respect may be had to his Ordinances, and Officers, our Lord Jesus Christ hath Ordained a penalty to be inflicted upon all obstinate offenders in this case; And this penalty is excommu­nication, or a casting out of the Church any obstinate Offiender, as a rotten and dead branch, no more worthy now to be accounted a member of the Church.

This is a delivering up of such an Offender unto Satan for the destructi­on of the flesh: [...] Cor. 5.5.

The power of excommunicati­on our Lord Jesus delivered to the Mat: 18. Joh. 20.23. Church.

And how the Church should proceed against an offender as to the case of excommunication, we have a Rule Mat. 18.15, 16, 17. Tit. 3.10. Thus is the Scripture suffici­ently cleare, and informing, as to [Page 45]the way of Church-Government; And that yet there is so much of difference and contention about this, it is to be feard that the causes are rather carnall than consciencious, arising as the Apostle saith from our Lusts, and not from any insuf­ficiency or Darknesse in the Scrip­tures as to this case.

Sect. VI. Containing an Answer to the sixth Question.
What manner of persons those ought to be that are in the judgment of charity to be look't upon as visible members of the Church?

TO this I Answer, Sol. first ne­gatively, that no man as he is in his naturall condition, without a change from that, ought [Page 46]to be admitted as a member of the visible Church of Jesus Christ:

Res. For man in his naturall con­dition is dead in Trespasses and Sins, a child of wrath, at enmity with God and to every good work reprobate; and therefore as such he is not, nei­ther is to be accounted a member of the Church visible of Jesus Christ.

For indeed whilst he is such, he is a visible member of the Synagogue of Satan.

Secondly, I answer affirmitive­ly, that members of the Church of Jesus Christ ought (according to the Scriptures) in some manner and measure to be prepared, and fitted for that building.

The Church of God is compared unto a building, now when a house is to be built, the stones and tim­ber are fitted & prepared by hew­ing and squaring before they are laid into the building; Timber as [Page 47]it is rough in the tree, and stone as it is in the Quarrie or Rock is not fit to build an house withall, but these must be hew'n and saw'n and plain'd and polish't, and squar'd, and thus they become fit materi­als to build with all;

Man, as he is in his Natural condition is like timber in the tree in the rough, like a stone in the Rock unhew'n, unsquar'd, undrest, and the fitting and preparing such for Gods house as Materialls to build withall is compared to a plaining and hewing of wood, Hos 6.5. I have hew'n them by my Pro­phet. So that there must be a Spi­ritual hewing and squaring, and polishing men out of their rough and rocky condition before they be fitt materialls to build God an house withall.

What man is there that builds an house of trees never hew'n nor sawn, nor squard; of stones un­drest, [Page 48]unpolisht; never such a thing was heard of: But suppose we such a thing as this, would it not be a most mishapen monstrous piece of building; would not every one that passeth by shake his head at it? And shall we build God an house, Was the Church in the Apostls time so built. a Church of such like materialls as these? of men and women in their natural condition, of Drunk­ards, Whoremongers, Prophane persons, Scoffers, Ignorant, and the like to these, persons in their rough and rocky condition, without any hewing, squaring, polishing, or fit­ting of them for such a structure? Surely such a Church as these are a monstrous building, a Congrega­tion of evill * doers, Ps 26.5: a confused As­sembly, a building that Jesus Christ is no Corner stone of, nor will e­ver own as hi [...]?

The visible Church of Jesus Christ is so far from being a Con­gregation of evill doers, of pro­phane [Page 49]and dissolute persons, that indeed of right there ought to be none such in the Church, but as they are found and known, they ought to be weeded out by the sentence of * excommunication. 1 Cor. 5. What workman in the building of an house layes one row of hewn and pollisht stones, and another row of rough, unsquared, and un­hewed stones? would not this be a ridiculous piece of building? Shall we then in Gods building (for such is his Church) lay the stones after such a sort? Here a row of such as tremble at an oath, here a row of others that pro­phane the holy name of God as of­ten as they mention it, and swear as commonly as they speak: here a row of such as pray in their fami­lies, and teach their children and servants the wayes and fear of the Lord, here a row [...] [...]thers that never call upon God in their fa­milies [Page 50]all their lives, but by their example teach their children and servants to be Atheists, despisers of Gods Ordinances, and to live without God in the world, here a row of abstemious and sober per­sons, that are afraid to abuse the mercies and creatures of God, to ryot and excesse, here a row of o­thers that wholly give themselves to gluttony and drunkennesse, whose Tables are, as the Prophet complains, Isa. 28.8. Full of vomit and filthinesse, so that there is no place clean: Here a row of such as keep Gods Sabbaths and reverence his Ordinances, here a row of o­thers that are Ordinance despisers, contemners and mockers of holy things, and duties, Sabbath break­ers, and murmurers that God should have this (though but one day in seaven) to himselfe; of whom it may be too probably judg'd, that as well as privately to [Page 51]sport, and play, and drink, and the like—They would also Hauk and Hunt, and Plough, and Cart upon those dayes; had they not more fear to the Lawes of men than re­gard to the Law of God: Here a row of such as have been Sanctifi­ed and cleansed with the washing of water by the Word, here a row of others that are filthy still, that mock and scoff at Sanctification, professing all ungodlinesse, and worldly lusts, and living unrighte­ously, unholily in the world:

Will Jesus Christ say unto a Church built after this manner, Cant. 8.9. Thou art beautifull as Terza, comely as Jerusalem, chap. 6. ver. 4. Thou hast ravished my heart, my Sister, my Spouse, how much bet­ter is thy love than wine, and the smell of thine oyntments than all spi­ces? Will not a workman one day have cause to be ashamed of such a building? Nay, shall he not be [Page 52]sorely reproved for it, if he have not endeavoured a reformation?

Those persons, the Apostles re­ceived into the Church, as mem­bers of it, were not prophane and lewd persons, scandalous, of evill report, scoffers at Sanctification, despisers of Gods Ordinances and holy duties; Acts 2 47.4 [...].49. But they were such as gladly received the Word, as were pricked in their hearts at the sense of their sins, such as continued in prayer and the exercise of other holy and Christian duties: They were such as burnt their curious (because prophane) Books; Acts 19.18, 19. Such as confessed their sins, and shewed their deeds.

Thus I Conclude in the first place, that those, which are recei­ved into the Church, or continu­ed in the same as members thereof ought to be such as at least wise in outward appearance abstain from [Page 53]evill, as have a mark of Sanctifica­tion and holiness upon them.

Secondly, Church-Members ought to be such as have some competent measure of knowledg, I conceive they ought to be so in­structed that they may be able in some measure to give an account of their hope, and those funda­mental truths that are necessary to be known for the praise and glory of Gods Grace, and their own Salvation; the Apostle would have all Christians be able to give a 1 Pet 3.15 reason of their hope.

Thirdly, They that are recei­ved into, or continued in the Church as its members, ought to be such as are sound in the faith, as hold fast the form Tit. 2.2. of sound words, that they make not a rent or Schisme in the Church, there­fore an Heretique saith the Apostle, 2 Tim. 1.13 after the first and second admoniti­on reject.

Sect. VII. Containing an answer to the Se­venth Question.
Quest. What are the duties of Church-Members towards Jesus Christ and one another?

Sol. THe Church of Jesus Christ is call'd his body; We are the body Mysticall, Christ is our Head, we are his Members: Now the duty and office of the Members of this body Mysticall both towards their Head, and one another; may be more clearly seen into, if we consider the office of the Members in the Body Natural, from whence the Church, which is called the body of Jesus Christ, takes this sigurative denominati­on:

First, The Members of the bo­dy [Page 55]Naturall have a very special care of the Head, as of their prin­cipall and chief part, without which they cannot subsist: there­fore the Members will endanger themselves to secure their head: If a blow be made at the head, the hand or arm will interpose it self, and receive the blow or wound upon it self, rather than it should fall upon the head: So the Mem­bers of the Church of Jesus Christ, ought to have a most speciall care of him their head: Is Jesus Christ their head made at? Do any go about to wound him, by striking at his Person, Natures, Death, Re­surrection, Ascension, Justificati­on by his blood? O now it is time for all the Members to look about them, to interpose betwixt their head and those that strike at him, to vindicate his honour, excellen­cy, person, nature, and the like, as before, against all his Enemies and [Page 56]Assailants that would wound him in any of these. Though you may be in never so much danger of worldly loss or dammage by ma­king such a defence, yet care not where this blow lights, so it be warded off your head.

It was a noble resolution of a French Martyr: After many per­swasions of worldly friends to re­cant his profession, he considering how dishonorable this would be to Jesus Christ, how his head would be wounded and grieved by such a revolt, puts off all that perswaded him to so shamefull an action, with this notable saying; Vivat Christus, pereat Servus, Let Christ live, let his Servant perish.

Every member of Jesus Christ ought to be so minded, ready up­on occasion at all times to say, let me, that am a poor and unworthy member of so honourable and ex­cellent a head, let me be cut off, let [Page 57]me suffer in my name, estate, rela­tions, let me be imprison'd, wound­ed, bleed So my Lord Jesus Christ, my head be not grieved, o he live and be glorified by my bonds, imprisonments, scars, bleed­ings, reproaches, rebukes, let all these and a thousand more befall me.

Secondly, The members of the body naturall are guided and go­vern'd, and move by the direction of the head and follow it; so the members of the body of Jesus Christ, the Church, they ought to observe the guidance, motion and steps of their head to follow his ex­ample, and tread in his paths, to be heavenly in their discourse, holy in their conversations, as he hath given them an example: every member of this body ought to walk the way of the 1 Joh. 2.6. head.

Now as to the carriage and duty of Church members towards one another.

First, The members of the body naturall they are united, and at peace among themselves; one arme doth not strike another, one foot doth not spurne the other; the eye doth not say to the hand I have no need of thee and so of the rest.

So the members of the body my­stical, the Church, there ought to be a sweet harmony betwixt all and every member; Envie, Malice, Ha­tred, spurning at, and reviling one another — these things ought not to be heard of in the Church of Je­sus Christ, because they are all members of his body.

Secondly the members of the bodie natural, if some be weak or wounded, all the rest have a special care of the weak or wounded mē ­ber; the whole arme will bind up the broken one, the strong leg will ease that thats lame and feeble.

This mutuall respect there ought to be among the members of the [Page 59]body of Christ the Church; the whole ought to binde up the bro­ken, the strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, that they may not faile, nor be discouraged, nor faint in the way and service of Jesus Christ.

Thirdly, The members of the body natural are ready to save and support one another, in case of any apparent danger; as if one leg trip, or stumble, the other will hast to relieve and support it; so the mem­bers of the Church of Jesus Christ, they ought to be watchfull one o­ver another, to be ready to save & support one another in case of ap­parent danger, as if one member do stumble or is ready to fall into errours of opinion or practise, the other should be ready to catch at such a falling member, to releive, and strengthen, and support, to hold him up that he may recover, and not utterly fall into such tem­ptations.

Fourthly, The Members of the body Natural, are ready to supply according to their power, to each particular member what it stands in need of: So the Members of the body of Christ, the Church, these ought to be ready to the utmost of their ability to supply and re­lieve the wants of other fellow-Members, whose necessities crave it: As we are men we are com­manded to do good to all, this is humanity, as we are Members of the Church of Christ we are en­joyned especially to succour and relieve those that are of the same houshold; This is Christianity.

In the Church of Jesus Christ, we should not every one look on­ly at his own proper interest, but also at the welfare one of another. If an Heathen could say (& very truly that) Non solum nobis nati su­mus, We are not only born for our selves, but for one another also; I [Page 61]may surely then very confidently say, that Non solum nobis renati su­mus, that we are not borne again for our selves, but for one another also, for the comfort and help and mutuall edification of all our fel­low Members in Christ Jesus.

Lastly, The Members of the bo­dy natural do all sympathise with one another, if a finger do but ake, all the Members condole it: So in the Church of Jesus Christ all the Members should condole and sympathise with one aking or af­flicted Member; Christians, Mem­bers of the same body, should all sympathise and have a share toge­ther both in one anothers crosses and comforts, Rom. 15.16. Rejoyce with those that rejoyce, & weap with those that weep, be of the same mind one towards another. The Lord Je­sus Christ our head sympathises with all & every of his poor mem­bers, Isa. 63.9. In all their afflictions he is afflicted.

Sect. VIII.

FRom what hath been said in relation to the Solution of the Fourth Question, it appears that the first constitution, or planting, or gathering of the Churches in England was right and orderly, ac­cording to the Scripture-rule, and way of the Apostles, in that case; from whence I conclude with that Reverend Divine Mr. Cotton, (as before) that the great work of the Ministers of Jesus Christ in Eng­land now, is not to constitute and gather Churches anew, as if there had never been any before: But rather to labour to reform and purge and purifie those Churches which were at first founded and built upon the foundation of the Apostles and the Prophets, Jesus [Page 63]Christ himselfe being the chief Corner stone: I say to reform & pu­rifie those from that dross and tin, those many corruptions which time & neglect of discipline hath contracted.

Therefore I shall declare what I conceive as to the way that every particular Church ought to take in this case; That is what is now to be done by every particular Church in this land that desires to be a true reformed and refined Church of Jesus Christ.

It must needs by all be granted, that we have, even all the particu­lar Churches and Congregations in this Land, Rom. 3.13. I say that we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God, that our unfruitfulnesse under Ordinances, our neglect of discipline, our not sanctifying the Sabbath, our carelesse and unchristianlike con­versations might justly have provo­ked God to have sent us a bill of di­vorce, [Page 64]to have sent his Messengers to us with a Loammi and a Loruhamah, plead with your mother, plead, for she is not my wife, Hos. 2.12. neither am I her Hus­bend.

Therefore, seeing we stand char­ged before God with so many high and heinous provocations, it is sure­ly high time for every particular congregation in England, that is called by the name of a Church, and desires truly to be such, to meet God in the way with a peace-offer­ing in their hands, that the just in­dignation of the Lord may be tur­ned away from them, that they fall not by their iniquities, and become as dung upon the earth.

We read of the * prodigall son after a long time of disobedience to his Father, Luk. [...]1.17 that when he came to himselfe, he bethought him of this way to be reconciled to his Father again, I will go, saith he, unto my Fa­ther, and will say unto him, Father I [Page 65]have sinned against heaven & before thee, and am no more worthy to be cal­led thy son; Thus he humbling him­self, and confessing his fault, his father welcomes him gladly: This my son was dead and is alive, was lost and is found.

Here is a patterne, not onely for one prodigall sonne or daughter, but for a prodigall assembly, or Congregation also to be reconci­led to God their Father.

Let a particular Church or con­gregation of people, that by their turning of grace into wontonness and abuse of spirituall mercies, have given God just occasion to disown them: I say, when these come to themselves, to have a sight and sence of their own state, and of the danger thereof, that is of their not being reconciled to God, and cleaving more close to him, let them gathering them­selves together;

First, Humble themselves be­fore God, freely confessing their many provocations, the want of love, of zeal, of holy walking ac­cording to the Statutes and Ordi­nances of the Lord Jesus, their breach of Covenant with God, which they made in Baptisme, let them say, Father we have sinned a­gainst heaven and before thee, & are not worthy the name of thy Church, or to be called thy people; let them confesse the sins of their fore­fathers, the generations before them, let them humble themselves for these, and their own imitation of them; Thus did the Church of the Jewes in the dayes of Nehemi­ah, and Ezra, being sensible of their Backslidings and Spiritual Forni­cations, and the danger they were in by reason of these; They as­sembled themselves, they confest their sins, and the sins of their fa­thers, confessing God to be just in [Page 67]all that he brought upon them, Howbeit thou art just in all that is brought upon us, Neh. c. 93 3 Ezek. 10.9. for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly.

Secondly, Let every particu­lar Church or Congregation re­new their Covenant with God, e­ven that Covenant they made with him in Baptisme, to forsake the world, the flesh, the Devil, professing their sorrow and repen­tance for the breach of it, and so­lemnly engaging to observe it bet­ter for the time to come, in keep­ing a more strict watch over them­selves, and one another, in for­saking all ungodliness and world­ly lusts, and living more soberly, more godly, more righteously in this present world, as becometh Christians & the professed Mem­bers of the Church of Jesus Christ: Thus did also the Church of the Jewes; you heard before that in relation to their better reformati­on [Page 68]and turning to God, they as­sembled themselves together, and humbled themselves before the Lord, confessing their sins and the sins of their fathers, and to this they added a solemn renewing of their * Covenant, Nehe. 9 38. 9 2. or a new enga­ging to God to walk more order­ly before him for the time to come.

Thirdly, Let them separate themselves from Achans; I mean, let every particular Congregati­on of Gods people put out from a­mongst them all the openly scan­dalous, ungodly, and prophane, for these are botches and boiles of a Church, the dead and withered branches, which ought to be cut off by the sentence of excommu­nication, 1 Cor. 5.1, 2. Rev. 18.4. Nehem. 9.38.

Sect IX.

HAving spoken as to the way of refining and reforming a Church, I shall now use a word of Exhortation, in generall to all the Congregations of this Land, called by the name of Churches, especi­ally to my own Congregation, to stir up, and encourage you to so great, so good, so necessary, so ac­ceptable a work to God as this.

It is true, that by being a true reformed, refined Church of Jesus Christ, you become engaged into many Duties, as you have heard * before: But for your encourage­ment, consider also you become invested into many priviledges, a few of which I shall (by Gods help) give you an account of.

First, If you be truly Members [Page 70]of the Church of Jesus Christ, Priviledge of a true Church then you stand to him in the rela­tion of a Spouse, a Wife,— then your Maker is your Husband. — I have espoused you to one Husband saith the Apostle, meaning Jesus Christ. The Church is called Cant. 4.8. the Love, the Spouse of Jesus Christ.

Now by being the Spouse of Jesus Christ, by being married un­to him by Grace, and so forsaking all our Beloveds for his sake, as the world, sin with all the lusts and pleasures of it; as a wife forsakes all Beloveds, as Father, Mother,— to follow her Husband; I say in so doing you become in vested in­to and interested in all the priviled­ges that belong to a Spouse or wife by the marriage of her husband.

First, First privi­ledge. a Spouse or Wife hath in­terest in all the relations, Friends, kindred of her Husband, his friends are her friends, his kindred her [Page 71]kindred, his servants are her ser­vants, his possessions her possessi­ons; then if you be espoused to Je­sus Christ, if he be your husband, if this mysticall knot be ried be­twixt him and you, then all his is yours, all Christs is yours, his kin­dred your kindred, his father your father, his God your God, My Fa­ther and your Father, my God and your God, Joh. 20.17. Now you need not stand afar off with the fearfull Publican, but come in boldly and say, my God my Father: Then his friends are your friends, even all the Saints and members of Jesus Christ upon earth, whether Pauls or Apollos, or Cephases, all are yours, all pray for you, all rejoyce over you, all his friends will be your friends. Then his servants become your servants, his attendants be­come your attendants; his servants and attendants are the glorious Angels, Mat. 4.11. and these think [Page 72]it no debasement to wait upon the Spouse of their master: are they not called the Saints, Angels, Mat. 18.10. Their Angels do alwayes be­hold the face of my Father which is in Heaven. Then his possession become your possession; Heaven, Gods right hand, glory; fullness of joy, pleasure for evermore— all these you have a right unto by the right of your husband Jesus Christ.

Secondly, A second priviledge. Tis a great priviledg not to need to fear in the most dangerous of times and seasons; this is your priviledge, if members of the Church of Christ, you need never fear or be discouraged, be the times never so evill or danger­ous; when the times look lowring, threaten war, famine, pestilence— and then what fear and shaking is there among worldly men, men uninterested in Christ, whose help, and hope is onely in this life, how do they then run to and fro, ever [Page 73]at their wits end, Their hearts fai­ling them for fear, and for looking af­ter those things that are coming on the earth. as our Lord Jesus speaks Luk. 27.25, 26. Thus shall it be now in these last times.

But if you be true members of the Church of Jesus Christ, you need not fear nor be dismayed at any troubles or changes that hang over the world; though there be signes in the sun, in the moon, in the stars, though there be in the earth distresse of nations with per­plexity, though the sea and the waves roar, yea though the earth be moved, and the hills leape one against ano­ther, Yet our Lord Jesus saith un­to his Church and every member of it, Luke 12.33. Fear not little flock, for it is your Fathers will to give you a Kingdome; Though your fa­ther shake the kingdoms of the world, yet your kingdome shall re­maine unshaken.

Therefore, David Heb. 12.28. The Lord is my salvation, whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid Ps. 27.1. though an host should incamp a­gainst me, my heart shall not fear, though war arise against me, in this will I be confident.

And again 'tis the language of the Church professing her confi­dence in God, Ps. 46.2. We will not fear though the earth be removed, and though the mountaines be carried into the midst of the sea, though the waters thereof roar, and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swell­ings thereof. And again the Psal­mist speaking of a member of Jesus Christ saith, Ps. 112.7. He shall not he afraid of evil tidings, his heart is fixt trusting in the Lord. This is the priviledge of a Saint, he needs fear no news, he needs not be afraid of any tidings, though they tell him the earth removes, and the mountains [Page 75]shake, yet he speaks not, for his heart is fixt trusting in the Lord.

Thirdly, A third pri­viledge of a Saint. If ye be true members of the Church of Jesus Christ youneed not fear the curse of the law, you need not fear hell, death, judgment which is so terrible & dreadfull to the wicked: O what would not a wicked man give when he lieth upon his Death-bed, and ready to give up the ghost, terrified with ap­proaching death and judgment, I say what would not he give to be certaine of his freedome from con­demnation, that he might die the death of the righteous, look death in the facewith boldness, and comfort surely he would give a world, if he had it for this priviledge, which some have upon their death-beds confest.

All the true members of Jesus Christ (though they may want world­ly comforts, and priviledges) yet they have this priviledge (which is worth a world fo all other) they [Page 76]need not fear death, or judgment, their peace is made, there is no Condemnation, Rom. 1.8. to them therefore they cry; O death where is thy sting, O grave where is thy vi­ctory, 1 Cor. 4.44.

They look upon death with com­fort, and upon the grave without fear, knowing that their Redeemer lives, and that at the last day their bodies shall rise again to live for e­ver with the Lord.

Fourthly, A fourth priviledg. If ye be true members of the Church of Jesus Christ, you need not, neither shall ye fear the greatest shaking that ever shall be, I mean the shaking both of heaven and earth, when Christ our Lord shall come to judgement, yet once more, and I shake not the earth but the heaven also, Heb. 12.26.

O when this last and great shak­ing shall be (which to be neer at hand all these lesser shakings do portend) when the earth shall burn [Page 77]as stubble under his feet, and the Elements melt with fervent heat, When there shall be a great earthquake, and the Sun become black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon become as blood, and the stars fall from heaven, and the heavens depart as a scrole when it is rouled together, and every moun­tain and Iland removed out of its place, Rev. 6.12. 2 Pet. 3.10.

What would not then a wicked profane person, that hath alwayes before mock't at the Saints of Jesus Christ, now give to be as one of them? O how will he curse himself that ever he was such a mad man to slight preaching, and coming into Church-society, and not to have considered that he must come to judgment! how at this great and fearfull day of the Lord, which shall be so terrible to all the wicked of the world, Rev. 6.15. That the tribes of the earth shall mourne, and the Kings of the great men, and the [Page 78]rich men, Rev. 6.15. and the captaines, and the mighty men, and every bondman and every freeman shall hide themselves in dens and in the rocks of the moun­taines, and shall say to the mountaines and rocks fall on us and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand.

I say in this so terrible day of the Lord, 2 Thes. 1.8.10. shall our Lord Jesus Christ hide all his Saints under the hollow of his arme gather them under the covert of his wings, deliver them from the wrath that is to come up­on all the wicked and ungodly of the world.

Though this shall be a day of gloominess and thick darknesse o­ver all the land of Egypt, yet the sun shall shine on Israel; Luk. 21.28. When the ungodly shall at this day hang down, the Saints shall lift [Page 79]up their heads, because their re­demption is at hand.

Fifthly, If a Saint of Jesus Christ, A fifth pri­viledge. what ever befalls thee, shall befall thee for thy good, whether smiles or frownes, crosses or comforts, riches or poverty, sickness or health, all these shall be advantage to thee — Rom. 8.28. All things shall work together for good to them that love God. Thus highly priviledg'd are all the members and Saints of Jesus Christ, therefore I conclude, Happy are the people whose God is the Lord.

And now let me speake familiar­ly to you, are not all these as before high priviledges? are they not worth the traveling for? O consider they are brought home unto you, they are offered you at your doors, and how can ye escape if ye neglect so great salvation? Such high privi­ledges profer'd you, on such honou­rable and easie conditions? there­fore slack not, come into the [Page 80]Church of Jesus Christ, flock like Doves to these windows, and all these priviledges shall be yours. Now will any man for the pleasure of sin which is but for a season, for the love of drunkennesse, of un­cleannesse or the like — out him­self of the Church? cause the mem­bers of Jesus Christ to reject him as an Atheist, an Infidel? I tell this per­son what ere he be, that hee'l sadly rue this one day, hee'l curse that fatall love to sin, those sensuall de­lights and pleasures that now cost him his salvation, hee'l then be rea­dy for very grief, and madnesse at himself, to put out those eyes that have look't upon a woman to lust after her, to bite that tongue that hath so often cur'st and sworne and blasphem'd the holy name of the Lord, scoft at holiness; and mockt at the assemblings of his Saints; to cut that throat that hath so often poured down wine and strong [Page 81]drink till he hath been inflam'd by it, and heightened to the acting of any impiety with a strangely bru­tish confidence: Thus I say he that now refuseth these great privi­ledges profferd to him, and for the love of sin shuts himself out of the Church of Christ, a day will come when he shall wish, O that I had not sat in the chaire of the scorner! O that I had joyn'd my self unto the Congregation of the godly, then shall sorrow and sighing take hold on him, when he shall see those that have liv'd soberly and righteously and godly in their ge­nerations own'd by Jesus Christ, with a come ye blessed, and led by him by the hand to sit down with Ahraham, Isack and Jacob, in the kingdome of God, and he himself cast out.

Think of this betime, all ye that as yet forget God, and Hos. 14.2. take with you words and turn un­to [Page 82]the Lord, Hos. 14.2. say unto him take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously. But if ye will not obey God, nor hearken to the voice of his Ministers that beseech you in Christs stead to be reconciled to God, be ye sure of this, that a day will come when Jesus Christ shall appear 2 Thes. 1.9. in flaming fire to take ven­gance on you, because ye have not obey'd the Gospel, yea, and shall say, Bring hither those mine enemies that would not that I should reign over them, Luk. 19.27. and slay them before me.

Sect. X.

AS there are many priviledges that the Saints are interested in, so there are many and sad penal­ties which shall be inflicted upon all those that do contemn the gos­pel, and separate themselves from the Church and Communion of Saints here upon earth.

First, 1. Penalty. These shall be separate from the presence of the Lord, they shall never see God;— Mat. 25.41 depart from me ye workers of iniquity: Heb. 12.14.without holinesse no man shall see God.

Secondly, 2 These shall be puni­shed with a very sore punishment, Heb. 10.29.Of how much sorer punishment suppose ye shall he be thought wor­thy, who hath troden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the Covenant, wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite to the Spirit of grace? It shall be more tolerable at the day of Judgment for Sodoxie and Commorrah, than for those that contemne the Gospel.

Thirdly, 3 Their punishment shall be an everlasting punishment, not for a day or a moneth or a year, but these shall be Mat. 10.15 punished with ever­lasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of the [Page 84]power. 2 Thes. 1.9. Mat. 25.41Go ye cursed into everlast­ing fire.

Fourthly, These shall be turned into 4. Ps. 9, 17. Mat. 25.30. hell, a place of horror and darknesse, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth: And now let me ask you, what do you think of all these sad judgments and penal­ties? are ye not afraid of them? are you not afraid to be separate from the presenc [...] [...] he Lord? are ye not afraid to b [...] punished with an everlasting punishment? are ye not afraid to be turnd into hell, a den of smoke and darknesse; Ah! what heart of stone will not break at the consideration of these things? Who can dwell with devouring fire? Isa. 33.14. who can dwell with everlasting burnings? Jam. 2.19.

The Devils tremble at the thought of these, will men be worse than Devils?

Sect. XI.

THerefore Beloved, seeing we shall partake of such great pri­viledges, if we reforme and turne to God, yea, seeing there is much more in store for us than is as yet discoverable, for—eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entred into the thought of man what God hath prepared for them that love and fear him. Seeing we shall escape such condemnation, and judgment thorough grace in so reforming our selves as before, Heb. 12.1. O let us then lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set be­fore us. Josh. 24.15. Let us of this Congregati­on imitate Joshua, let us chuse with him, let us say unto all the people, and congregations round about us, [Page 86]chuse you whom ye will serve, chuse ye whether ye will reforme or not reforme your ways, chuse you whether you will own us or disown us, applaud us or hiss at us, countenance us or contemne us, joyn with us or separate from us, strengthen us, or labour to make our hands feeble, say we do well, or say we do ill, Speak friendly to us or scoff at us, yet we are resolv'd, what we will do, that we will leave Ash­terch & Basaam. That we will say, what have we to do with Idols? And reforme and repent and engage our selves afresh to serve the Lord.

Which that we may do, let us put in practice the rules before laid downe;

First, Assembling our selves to­gether, let us solemnly and sorrow­fully confesse and bewaile our own sins, and the sins of our forefathers before God, [...] 9.6. let us say our God, we blush and are ashamed to lift up our [Page 87]faces unto thee, for our iniquities are increased over our heads and our tres­passe is grown up unto the very hea­vens: And having thus humbled our selves before God let us,

Secondly, Renew our cove­nant with God, our Covenant made so long since in baptisme, which all of us have broken, and backslided from: let us say, truth Lord, other Lords besides thee have had dominion over us; the devil, the world, the lusts of the flesh have ruled over us; thou, O Lord, maist justly charge us to have forgotten thee, and to have dealt falsly with thee in thy covenant, and therefore because of all this we make a sure Covenant with thee for the time to come, that we will have no other Lord besides thee, that we will walke in a more pro­fessed subjection to all thy holy ordinances, more carefully watch­ing over our selves and one ano­ther, that being clensed from all fil­thiness [Page 88]of the flesh and spirit, 2 Cor. 7.1. we may perfect holiness in thy fear. And ha­ving thus renued our covenant, and engaged our selves unto the Lord to be his, let us endeavour,

Thirdly to purge out from a­mongst us every thing that defileth and is unclean, for a little leaven lea­veneth the whole lump; one Achan may distresse a whole Israel, one in­cestuous person, such as was in the Church at Corintb, one adulterer, drunkard or the like in a Church, if countenanced and tollerated by the same, and not reproved and dealt withall according to the rule of the Gospel, may bring wrath and a judgment upon a whole congre­gation, for by reason of such a tol­leration, and neglect of Gospel-discipline, the Sacrament of the Lords-Supper may be profaned and abused, as it was in the Church of Corinth, for which cause the Lord punisht them with sicknesse [Page 89]and death for — For this Cause (saith the Apostle, 1 Cor. 11.30 namely for the profanation of the Lords-Supper many are sick and weake among you, and many sleep.

Therefore it much concernes every particular Church to purge out the old leaven, that they may be a new lump, and not to keep that feast with the old leaven, nei­ther with the leaven of malice, and wickedness, lest the Lord stretch out his hand against them.

Section XII.

BUt methinks I hear some say, Ob. this Yoke is too straite, this burden is too heavy, these rules are too strict, restraining us of all liberty and freedom, we cannot drink, and be merry but we must be reprov'd and—.

To these I Answer: Sol.

First, If the way be strait, and strict, 'tis the more like to be Hea­ven way, Mat. 7.14. for—strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to ever­lasting life. If the way propos'd were large and broad, you might well suspect it the way to hell and death, Mat. 7.13. for wide is that gate and broad is that way.

Secondly, 2 To such pleaders for unbounded liberty, I say Rejoyce, O yong men in your youth, Eccl. 9.11. and let your hearts be merry — Let the harpe and the violl, and the tabret, and the pipe, and wine be in your feasts.— But for all this know you shall come to judge­ment.

Thirdly, 3 To such I say, cursed is he that saith, The yoke is strait that Christ Jesus hath said is easie, that the burden is heavy that he hath said is light: Cursed is he that discourageth the People of the Lord, Mat. 11.30 and brings an evill re­port upon the land of Canaan; let [Page 91]their carcases rot in the wildernesse, and let them not see the salvation of the Lord.

Fourthly, 4 I say that the wayes and rules of the Lord, to which we are bound to submit, are not grie­vous— his commandments are not grievous. These restrain not so, 1 Joh. 5.3. but that we have liberty sufficient, li­berty to eat, to drink, to meet freinds with friends, and to re­joyce together; yea, if we be such as are received into favour with God, and justified by Jesus Christ, there's then cause enough for us to rejoyce and be chearfull; the Scriptures then give and en­courage us to this freedome— Eccles. 9.1. Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart, for the Lord now accepteth thy works. Thus may it be said to any one, that is truly a member of Jesus Christ: The ser­vice of the Lord is not slavery but [Page 92] freedome. But here is the madness and misery of men, they account nothing liberty, but whats licenci­ous; they account it not liberty to eat and to drink, unlesse they may eat to gluttony, and drink to drun­kennesse; no liberty to be merry, unlesse they may be prophane, curse and swear.

But alass is this the liberty and freedome you so contend for? In­deed this is hellish bondage, hellish slavery; Is this liberty to be over­come with wine and strong drink? to have thy legs so bound thou canst not go, thy tongue so tyed thou canst not speak? Thy eyes so enflamed thou canst not see? Thy reason and understanding so cap­tivated and lost, that tis hard to distinguish whether man or beast? Is this liberty, that thou canst not be merry, but thou must mock God, scoff at holinesse, reproach the Saints? O cursed liberty if [Page 93]this be it! This is worse than that Egyptian bondage that made the Jews so sigh and cry under it; and it would make thee also groan un­der it, wer't thou but in the least sensible of thy own condition.

Tis the Lord Jesus Christ that by your coming in unto him would set you at liberty, make you Free-men; Tis he that pro­claims liberty to the captive, the ope­ning of the prison, Isa. 61.2. to them which are bound—. Jesus Christ would have you Free-men, at liberty; to be so much Lords over your selves and the creatures, as to eat and drink and not to surfet, or be drunken, as to be merry and yet not in sin; The Devill keeps men in slavery, in slavery to their lusts, in slavery to their passions, in slavery to their meat, drink, apparell; Oh! It is not liberty you contend for, but bondage; not freedome but sla­very; and you will see and un­derstand [Page 94]this, if ever your eyes be opened; for they are now blind­ed—. 2 Cor. 44. In whom the God of this world hath blinded the eyes of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the Image of God, should shine unto them. I say if ever your eyes be o­pened, you will cry out against your selves for being such willing slaves to Satan, when you might long ago have been the Lords free­men, Then may I say unto you as St. Paul to the enlightened Ro­manes, What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now asha­med? Rom. 6.21. And now to conclude all, I say, that, Blessed are all they that so hear the good word of the Lord as to practise it. Blessed are they that hearing that there is a Church of Jesus Christ upon earth, how constituted, & what it is, do labour and desire to adde and joyn them­selves unto it, and become true [Page 95]members of it. Blessed are they that hearing what government our Lord Jesus Christ hath ordain­ed in and for his Church, think not his yoke uneasie, nor his burden heavy; but chearfully and wil­lingly submit to all his holy, just, good and reasonable Commande­ments. Blessed are they that hear­ing what manner of Person those ought to be that are to be received into, or continued in the Church of Jesus Christ as visible members thereof, do labour to purge and purifie themselves from all un­cleannesse, both of flesh and spirit, that they may be thought worthy of admittance into such member­ship. Blessed are all they that hear­ing the duty of the members of Jesus Christ towards him their head, and one another as members, do set about and practise the same. Blessed are they that hearing the necessity of a reformation, the ac­ceptablenesse [Page 96]of it to God; the profit and priviledges that follow it, if practi­sed, The judgments and penalties that are unavoidable, if this be slighted, doe suddenly and seriously set about this work; 1, By a full and free confession, and a sad and sorrowfull lamentation of their sins before God: 2, By a renew­ing of their Covenant with God, ente­ring into a new and sure engagement to serve him: 3, By endeavouring to purge out from among them those obstinate and unruly persons that profane holy things, & bring a contempt upon Gods Ordinances: If we that belong to this Congregation be not rebellious and re­fractory, but obedient and willing to set about this work; I dare affirm it, that when we assemble our selves together, the presence of our Lord Jesus shall be with us, the blessing of the most high shal be upon us; Then shall he crown our years with goodness, and his paths drop fatness upon us; then instead of having that dolefull message— Hos. 2.2. Ye are not my Wife, neither am I your Husband; we shall heare this joyfull sound from heaven, saying, Ammi, Ruhamah, ye are my peo­ple, ye have obtained mercy,

Soli Dei gloria.

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