A FORM FOR Church Government AND ORDINATION OF MINISTERS, Contained in CXI Propositions, propounded to the late GENERALL ASSEMBLY at Edinburgh, 1647.

Together With an ACT concerning Erastianisme, Independencie, and Liberty of Conscience.

Published by Authority.

LONDON, Printed for ROBERT BOSTOCK, at the King's Head in Pauls Church-yard. MDCXLVII.

Act approving VIII generall Heads of Doctrine against the Tenents of Erastia­nisme, Independencie, and Liberty of Conscience, asserted in the CXI Proposi­tions, which are to be examined against the next ASSEMBLY.

BEing tender of so great an ingage­ment by solemn Covenant, sin­cerely, really, & constantly to en­deavour in our Places & Callings, the preservation of the Reformed Religion in this Kirk of Scotland, in Doctrine, Worship, Discipline, and Government, the Reformation of Religion in the Kingdoms of England and Ireland, in Doctrine Wor­ship, Discipline and Government, according to the Word of God, and the example of the best Reformed Kirks, and to endeavour the neerest Conjunction and Uniformity in all these, together with the extirpation of Heresie, Schisme, and whatsoever shall be found contrary to sound Doctrine: And considering withall that one of the special means which it becometh us in our Places and Callings to use in pursuance of these [Page] ends, is in zeal for the true Reformed Religion, to give our publick testimony against the dangerous te­nents of Erastianisme, Independency, and which is falsly called Liberty of Conscience, which are not onely con­trary to sound Doctrine, but more speciall lets and hinderances as well to the preservation of our own received Doctrine, Worship, Discipline and Govern­ment, as to the Work of Reformation and Uniformi­ty in England and Ireland. The Generall Assembly upon these considerations, having heard publickly read the CXI following Propositions exhibited and tendered by some Brethren who were appointed to prepare Articles or Propositions for the vindication of the Truth in these particulars, Doth unanimously approve and agree unto these eight generall Heads of Doctrine therein contained and asserted. viz. 1. That the Ministery of the Word, and the Administration of the Sacraments of the New Testament, Baptisme and the Lords Supper, are standing Ordinances insti­tuted by God himself, to continue in the Church to the end of the world. 2. That such as administer the Word and Sacraments▪ ought to be duely called and ordained thereunto. 3. That some Ecclesiasticall censures are proper and peculiar to be inflicted onely upon such as bear Office in the Kirk; Other censures are common, and may be inflicted both on Mini­sters, and other Members of the Kirk. 4. That the censure of Suspension from the Sacrament of the Lords Supper, inflicted because of grosse ignorance, or because of a scandalous life and conversation; As likewise the censure of Excommunication, or casting out of the Kirk flagitious or contumacious offenders, [Page] both the one censure and the other is warrantable by and grounded upon the Word of God, and is ne­cessary (in respect of Divine institution) to be in the Kirk. 5. That as the Rights, Power and Authori­ty of the Civill Magistrate are to be maintained ac­cording to the Word of God, and the Confessions of the Faith of the Reformed Kirks, So it is no lesse true and certain that Jesus Christ, the onely Head and onely King of the Kirk, hath instituted and appoint­ted a Kirk Government distinct from the Civill Go­vernment or Magistracy. 6. That the Ecclesiasticall Government is committed and intrusted by Christ to the Assemblies of the Kirk, made up of the Ministers of the Word and Ruling Elders. 7. That the lesser and inferiour Ecclesiasticall Assemblies ought to be subordinate and subject unto the greater and supe­riour Assemblies. 8. That notwithstanding hereof, the Civill Magistrate may and ought to suppresse by corporall or civill punishments, such as by spreading Errour or Heresie, or by fomenting Schisme, great­ly dishonour God, dangerously hurt Religion, and disturb the Peace of the Kirk, Which Heads of Do­ctrine (howsoever opposed by the authours and fo­menters of the foresaid Errours respectively) the Generall Assembly doth firmly beleeve, own, main­tain, and commend unto others as solid, true, or­thodox, grounded upon the Word of God, conso­nant to the judgement both of the ancient, and the best Reformed Kirks. And because this Assembly (through the multitude of other necessary and pres­sing businesse) cannot now have so much leasure as to examine and consider particularly the foresaid [Page] CXI Propositions: Therefore a more particular ex­amination thereof is committed and referred to the Theologicall Faculties of the four Universities of this Kingdom, and the judgement of each of these Faculties concerning the same, is appointed to be re­ported to the next Generall Assembly. In the mean while, these Propositions shall be printed, both that Copies thereof may be sent to Presbyteries, and that it may be free for any that pleaseth to peruse them, and to make known or send their judgement concer­ning the same to the said next Assembly.

A. Ker.



AS our Lord Jesus Christ doth invisibly teach and govern his Church by the Holy Spirit: So in gathering, preserving, instructing, buil­ding and saving thereof, he useth Ministers as his instruments, and hath appointed an order of some to Teach, and others to Learne in the Church, and that some should be the Flock, and others the Pastours.


For, beside these first Founders of the Church of Christ extraordinarily sent, and furnished with the gift of Miracles, whereby they might confirme the Doctrine of the Gospel, hee appointed also ordinary Pastours and Teachers, for the exe­cuting of the Ministery, even untill his coming again nnto Judgement, Ephes. 4. 11, 12, 13. Wherefore, also as many as are of the number of God's People, or will be accounted Christians, ought to receive and obey the ordinary Ministers [Page 2] of God's Word and Sacraments, (lawfully, though medi­ately called) as the Stewards and Ambassadours of Christ himself.


It is not lawfull for any man, how fit soever, and how much soever enriched or beautified with excellent gifts, to un­dertake the Administration either of the Word or Sacraments by the Will of private persons, or others who have not power and right to Call; much lesse is it lawfull by their own judge­ment or arbitrement to assume and arrogate the same to them­selves: But before it be lawfull to undergoe that sacred Mi­nistery in Churches constituted, a speciall Calling; yea beside, a lawfull Election (which alone is not sufficient) a Mission, or sending, or (as commonly it is termed) Ordination, is necessarily required, and that both for the avoyding of confu­sion, and to bar out, or shut the door (so far as in us lieth) up­on Impostors; as also by reason of divine Institution delivered to us in the holy Scripture, Rom. 10. 15. Heb. 5. 4. Tit. 1 5. 1 Tim. 1. 14.


The Church ought to be governed by no other persons then Ministers and Stewards preferred and placed by Christ, and after no other manner then according to the Lawes made by him; and therefore there is no power on earth which may challenge to it self Authority or Dominion over the Church: But whosoever they are that would have the things of Christ to be administred not according to the Ordinance and will of Christ revealed in his Word, but as it liketh them, and accor­ding to their own will and prescript, what other thing go they about to do, then by horrible Sacriledge to throw down Christ from his own Throne.


For our onely Law-giver and Interpreter of his Fathers will, Jesus Christ hath prescribed and fore-appointed the rule according to which he would have his Worship and the Go­vernment of his own House to be ordered. To wrest this rule of Christ laid open in his holy Word, to the Counsels, [Page 3] Wills, Manners, Devices or Lawes of Men, is most hight im­piety; But contrarily, the Law of Faith commandeth the counsell and purposes of men to be framed and conformed to this rule, and overturneth all the reasonings of worldly wisdome, and bringeth into captivity the thoughts of the proud swelling minde to the obedience of Christ: Neither ought the voice of any to take place or bee rested upon in the Church, but the voice of Christ alone.


The same Lord and our Saviour Jesus Christ, the onely Head of the church hath ordained in the New Testament, not only the Preaching of the Word and Administration of Baptisme and the Lords Supper, but also Ecclesiasticall Government, distinct and differing from the Civill Government, and it is his will that there be such a Government distinct from the Ci­vill in all his Churches everywhere, as well those which live under Christian, as those under indfiell Magistrates, even un­till the end of the World. Heb. 13. 7. 17. 1 Tim. 5. 17, 19. Rom. 12. 8. 1 Cor. 12. 28. 1 Thes. 5. 12, Acts 1. 20, 28. Luke 12. 42. 1 Tim. 6. 14. Apoc. 2. 25.


This Ecclesiasticall Government distinct from the Civill, is from God committed, not to the whole body of the Church or Congregation of the faithfull, or to be Exercised both by Officers and People, but to the Ministers of Gods Word, to­gether with the Elders which are joyned with them for the care and Government of the Church, 1 Tim. 5. 17. To these therefore who are over the Church in the Lord, belongeth the Authority and Power, and it lyeth upon them by their of­fice, according to the rule of Gods Word to discerne and judge betwixt the Holy and Prophane, to give diligence for amendment of delinquents, and to purge the Church (as much as is in them) from scandalls, and that not onely by en­quiring, inspection, warning, reproving, and more sharply expostulating, but also by acting in the further and more severe parts of Ecclesiasticall Discipline, or exercising [Page 4] Ecclesiastick jurisdiction, even unto the greatest and weighti­est censures, where need is.


None that is within the Church ought to be without the reach of Church Law, and exempt from Ecclesiastick Cen­su [...]es; but Discipline is to be exercised on all the Members of the Church, without respect or consideration of those ad­hering qualities which use to commend a man to other men; such as Power, Nobility, illustrious Descent, and the like: for the judgement cannot be right, where men are led and moved with these considerations. Wherefore, let respect of Persons be farre from all Judges, chiefly the Ecclesiasticall: And if any in the Church doe so swell in pride, that he refuse to be under this Discipline, and would have himself to be free and exempt from all trial and Ecclesiastick judgement, this mans disposition is more like the haughtinesse of the Roman Pope, then the meeknesse and submissivenesse of Christs Sheep.


Ecclesiasticall Censure moreover is either proper to be inflicted upon the Ministers and Office-bearers onely, or with them common to other Members of the Church; the for­mer consisteth in Suspension or Deposition of Ministers from their Office (which in the ancient Canons is called [...]) The latter consisteth in the greater and lesser Excommunica­tion, (as they speak.) Whatsoever in another Brother de­serveth Excommunication, the same much more in a Mini­ster deserveth Excommunication: But justly sometimes a Minister is to be put from his Office, and deprived of that Power which by Ordination was given him, against whom neverthelesse to draw the sword of Excommunication, no rea­son doth compell.


Sometime also it happeneth that a Minister having fallen into Heresie or Apostasie, or other grievous crimes, if hee shew tokens of true repentance, may be justly received in­to the communion of the Church; Whom notwithstanding, [Page 5] [...] is no way expedient to restore into his former place or charge; yea, perhaps it will not be found fit to restore such a one to the Ministery in another Congregation, as soone as he is received into the bosome of the Church; Which surely is most agreeable as well as to the Word of God, 2 King. 23 9. Ezech. 44. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. as to that Ecclesiasticall Disci­pline, which in some ages after the times of the Apostles was in use.

So true is it that the Ministers of the Church, are lyable as well to peculiar as to common censures; Or that a Minister of the Church is censured one way, and one of the people ano­ther way.


Ecclesiasticall censure, which is not proper to Ministers, but common to them with other Members of the Church, is either suspension from the Lords Supper, (which by others is called the Publicanes Excommunication,) or the cutting off of a Member, which is commonly called Excommunication. The distinction of this twofold censure (commonly, though not so properly passing under the name of the lesser and grea­ter Excommunication) is not onely much approved by the Church of Scotland, and the Synode now assembled at West­minster, but also by the Reformed Churches of France, the Low-countreys, and of Pole-land, as is to be seen in the book of the Ecclesiastick Discipline of the Reformed Churches in France. Chap. 5. Art. 9. In the harmonie of the Belgicke Synodes. Chap. 14. Art. 8. 9. In the Canons of the generall Synode of Torne, held in the yeare 1597.


That the distinction of that twofold Church censure was al­lowed also by antiquity, it may be sufficiently clear to him who will consult the sixtie one Canon of the sixth generall Synode, with the Annotations of Zonaras and Balsomon; also the thirteenth Canon of the eighth Synode (which is termed the first and second) with the Notes of Zonaras; Yea besides, even the penitents also themselves of the fourth degree, or [...], that is, which were in the consistency, were [Page 6] suspended from the Lords Supper, though as to other things of the same condition with the faithfull; For to the commu­nion also of Prayers, and so to all priviledges of Ecclesiasticall society, the Eucharist alone excepted, they were thought to have right: So sacred a thing was the Eucharist esteemed. See also beside others, Cyprian 1. Book. Epist. 11. That Dyonisius the Author of tha Ecclesiastick Hierarchie. Chap. 3. Part. 3. Basil. Epist. to Amphilochius. Can. 4. Ambros. lib. 2. De offi­ciis, Chap. 27. Augustine in his book against the Donatists, af­ter the conference, Chap. 4. Chrysostom Homil. 83. in Matth. Gregor. the great Epist. lib. 2. Chap 65. and 66. Walafri­dus Strabo of Ecclesiasticall matters. Chap. 17.


That first and lesser censure by Christs ordinance, is to be inflicted on such as have received Baptisme, and pretend to be true Members of the church, yet are found unfit and unwor­thy to communicate in the signes of the grace of Christ with the church, whether for their grosse ignorance of divine things, the Law namely and Gospell, or by reason of scan­dall either of false Doctrine or wicked life. For these causes therefore, or for some one of them, they are to be kept back from the Sacrament of the Lords Supper (a lawfull judiciall tryall going before) according to the interdiction of Christ, forbidding that that which is Holy be given to dogs, or Pearles bee cast before swine, Matth 7. 6. and this censure of suspensi­on is to continue, till the offenders bring forth fruits worthy of repentance.


For the asserting and defending of this suspension, there is no small accession of strength from the nature of the Sacra­ment it self, and the institution and end thereof. The Word of God indeed is to be Preached, as well to the ungodly and impenitent that they may be converted, as to the Godly and repenting, that they may be confirmed: But the Sacrament of the Lords Supper is by God instituted, not for beginning the Work of Grace, but for nourishing and increasing Grace, and therefore none is to be admitted to the Lords Supper, who [Page 7] by his life testifieth that he is impenitent, and not as yet con­verted.


Indeed if the Lord had instituted this Sacrament, that not onely it should nourish and cherish faith, and seal the pro­mises of the Gospell, but also should begin the work of Grace in sinners, and give regeneration it self, as the instrumentall cause thereof, verily even the most wicked, most uncleane and most unworthy were to be admitted. But the Reformed Churches do otherwise judge of the nature of this Sacrament, which shall be abundantly manifest by the gleaning of these following Testimonies.


The Scottosh Confession, Art. 23. But we confesse that the Lords Supper belongs onely to those of the houshold of faith, who can try and examine themselves, as well in faith, as in the duties of faith towards their neighbours. Whoso abide without faith, and in variance with their brethren, doe at that holy Table eate and drinke unworthily. Hence it is that the Pa­stors in our Church doe enter on a publike and particular exami­nation, both of the knowledge, conversation and life of those who are to be admitted to the Lords Table. The Belgick Con­fession. Art. 35. We beleevs also and confesse that our Lord Jesus Christ hath ordained the holy Sacrament of his Supper, that in it he may nourish and uphold them whom he hath already regenerated.


The Saxon Confession. Art. 15. of the Lords Supper. The Lord willeth that every receiver be particularly confirmed by this testimony, so that he may be certified that the benefits of the Gospel doe appertaine to himself, seeing the Preaching is common, and by this testimony, by this receiving, he sheweth that thou art one of his members, and washed with his blood. And by and by. Thus therefore we instruct the Church, that it be­hooveth them that come to the supper, to bring with them re­pentance or conversion, and (faith being now kindled in the meditation of the death and resurrection, and the benefits of the [Page 8] Son of God) to seek here the confirmation of this faith. The very same things are set downe, and that in the very same words in the consent of the Churches of Pole-land in the Sen­dominian Synode, Anno 1570. Art. of the Lords Supper,


The Bohemian Confession. Art. 11. Next our Divines teach that the Sacraments of themselves, or as some say, ex opere operato, doe not confer Grace to those, who are not first endued with good motions, and inwardly quickened by the Holy Spirit, neither doe they bestow justifying faith, which maketh the soule of man in all things obsequious, trusting and obedient to God; for faith must goe before (wee speake of them of ripe yeares) which quickeneth a man by the work of the Ho­ly Spirit, and putting good motions into the heart. And after: But if any come unworthily to the Sacraments, he is not made by them worthy or cleane, but doth only bring greater sinne and damnation on himself.


Seeing then in the holy Supper, that is in the receiving the Sacramentall Elements (which is here distinguished from the Prayers and Exhortations accompanying that action) the benefits of the Gospell are not first received, but for them being received are thanks given; neither by partaking thereof doth God bestow the very spirituall life, but doth preserve, cherish and perfect that life; and seeing the Word of God is accoun­ted in the manner of letters patents, but Sacraments like seals, (as rightly the Helvetian Confession faith, Chap. 19) it plainely followeth that those are to be kept back from the Lords Supper, which by their fruits and manners doe prove them­selves to be ungodly orimpenitent, and strangers or alients from all communion with Christ; Nor are the promises of Grace sealed to any other then to those to whom these promises doe belong, for otherwise the seal annexed should contradict and gainsay the letters patents; and by the visible Word those should be loosed anst remitted, which by the audible Word are bound and condemned: But this is such an absurdity, as [Page 9] that if any would, yet hee cannot smooth or heal it with any plaister.


But as known, impious, and unregenerate persons have no right to the holy Table: So also ungodly persons, by reason of grievous scandall are justly for a time deprived of it; for it is not lawfull or allowable that the comforts and promises which belong onely to such as beleeve and repent, should be sealed unto known unclean persons, and those who walk inordinatly, whether such as are not yet regenerate, or such as are regenerate, but fallen and not yet restored or risen from their fall. The same Discipline was plainly shaddowed forth under the Old Testament; for none of Gods People during their legall pollution, was permitted to enter into the Tabernable, or to have accesse to the solomne Sacrifices and society of the Church: and much more were wicked and notorious offenders debarred from the Temple ever untill by an offering for sinne, together with a solemne confession thereof, being cleansed, they were reconciled unto God. Num. 5 6, 7, 8. Lev. 5. to the 7. vers Lev. 6. to vers. 8.


Yea that those who were polluted with sins and crimes, were reckoned among the unclean in the Law, Maimonides in more Nevo [...]him, Part. 3 Chap 47. proveth out of Lev. 20. 3. Lev. 18 24. Num. 35. 33. 34. Therefore seeing the shedding of mans blood was rightly esteemed the greatest pol­lution of all; Hence it was, that as the society of the leprous was shunned by the cleare, so the company of murtherers by good men was most religiously avoided. Lament. 4. 13, 14, 15. The same thing is witnessed by Ananias the high Preist, [...] Josephus of the Jewish warre. 4. Book, Chap. 5. where hee saith that those false Zelots of that time, bloody men, ought to have been restrained from accesse to the Temple, by reason of the pollution of murther; Yea as Philo the Jew witnesseth in his book of the Officers of Sacrifices; Whosoever were found unworthy and wicked, were by edict forbidden to approach the holy thresholds.


Neither must that be past by which was noted by Zonaras, Book 4. of his Annals, (whereof see also Scaliger agreeing with him, in Elench. Triberes. Nicferrar. Cap. 28) namely that the Essenes were forbidden the holy Place as being hai­nous and piacular transgressors, and such as held other opini­ons, and did otherwise teach concerning Sacrifices then ac­cording to the Law, and observed not the ordinances of Moses, whence it proceeded that they Sacrificed privately; Yea and also the Essenes them selves did thrust away from their Congre­gations those that were wicked. Whereof see Drusius of the three sects of Jews, Lib. 4. cap. 22.


God verily would not have his Temple to be made open to unworthy and uncleane worshippers, nor was it free for such men to enter into the Temple. See Nazianzen, Orat. 21. The same thing is witnessed and declared by divers late writers, such as have been and are more acquainted with the Jewish antiquities. Consult the Anotations of Vatablus and of Ainsworth an English writer upon Psal. 118. 19, 20. also Constantius L'empereur Annotat. in Cod. Middoth, Cap. 2. Pag. 44, 45. Cornelius Bertramus, of the Common-wealth of the Hebrews. Cap. 7. Henrie Vorstius, Animadvers. in Pirk. Rab. Eliezer. Pag. 169. The same may be proved out of Ezech. 33. 38 29. Jer. 7. 9 10, 11, 12. whence also it was that the solemne and publike Society in the Temple, had the name of the Assembly of the Righteous, and Congregation of Saints. Psal. 89. 5, 7. Psal. 111. 1. Psal. 147. 1. Hence also is that, Psal. 118. 19, 20. of the gates of righteousnesse by which the righteous enter.


That which is now driven at, is not that all wicked and unclean persons should be utterly excluded from our Ecclesia­sticall Societies, and so from all hearing of Gods Word; Yea there is nothing lesse intended: for the Word of God is the instrument as well of conversion as of confirmation, and there­fore is to be Preached as well to the not converted as to the [Page 11] converted, as well to the repenting, as the unrepenting: The Temple indeed of Jerusalem had speciall promises, as it were pointing out with the finger a Communion with God through Christ, 1 King. 8. 30, 48. Dan. 6. 10. 2 Chron. 6. 16. and 7. 15, 16. But 'tis far otherwise with our Temples, or places of Church Assemblies, because our Temples contain nothing Sacra­mentall in them, such as the Tabernacle and Temple contained; as the most learned Professors of Leyden said rightly in Synops. Pur. Theologiae Disput. 48. Thes. 47.


Wherefore the point to be here considered as that which is now aimed at, is this, that howsoever even under the New Testament, the uncleannesse of those to whom the Word of God is preached be tolerated; yet all such, of what estate or condition soever in the Church, as are defiled with manifest and grievous scandals, and doe thereby witnesse themselves to be without the inward and spirituall Commnnion with Christ and the faithfull, may and are to be altogether discharged from the Communion of the Lords Supper, untill they repent and change their manners.


Besides, even those to whom it was not permitted to goe into the holy Courts of Israel, and to ingyre themselves in­to Ecclesiasticall Communion, and who did stand between the Court of Israel and the utter wall, were not therefore to be kept back from hearing the word; for in Solomons Porch, and so in the intermurale or Court of the Gentiles the Gospel was preached both by Christ, John 10. 23. and also by the Apostles, Acts 3. 11. and 5. 12. and that of purpose because of the reason brought by Pineda, of the things of Solomon, Book 5. Chap. 19. because a more frequent multitude was there, and somewhat larger opportunity of sowing the Gospel: Wherefore to any whomsoever, even heathen people meeting there, the Lord would have the Word to be preached, who notwithstanding, purging the Temple, did not onely over­throw the tables of Money-changers, and chairs of those that sold Doves, but also, cast forth the buyers and sellers [Page 12] themselves, Matth. 21. 12. for he could not endure either such things, or such persons in the Temple.


Although then the Gospel is to be preached to every crea­ture, the Lord in expresse words commanding the same, Mark 16. 15. yet not to every one is set open an accesse to the holy Sup­per. 'Tis granted that Hypocrites do lurk in the Church, who hardly can be convicted and discovered, much lesse re­pelled from the Lords Supper. Such therefore are to be suffer­ed, till by the fan of judgement the grain be separate from the chaffe: But those whose wicked deeds or words are known and made manifest, are altogether to be debarred from partaking those symboles of the Covenant of the Gospel, left that the Name of God be greatly disgraced, whilest sins are permitted to spread abroad in the Church unpunished; or lest the Stewards of Christ by imparting the signes of the Grace of God to such as are continuing in the state of impu­rity and scandall, be partakers of their sins. Hitherto of Su­spension.


Excommunication ought not to be procceded unto except when extreme necessity constraineth: But whensoever the soul of the sinner cannot otherwise be healed, and that the safety of the Church requireth the cutting off of this or that Member, it behoveth to use this last remedy. In the Church of Rome indeed Excommunication hath been turned into great­est injustice and tyranny (as the Pharisees abused the casting out of the Synagogues, which was their Excommunication) to the fulfilling of the lust of their own mindes; Yet the Ordi­nance of Christ is not therefore by any of the Reformed Reli­gion to be utterly thrust away and wholly rejected. What Pro­testant knows not that the vassals of Antichrist have drawn the Lords Supper into the worst and most pernicious abuses, as also the Ordination of Ministers, and other Ordinances of the Gos­pel? Yet who will say that things necessary (whether the ne­cessity be that of command, or that of the [...] or end) are to be taken away because of the abuse?


They therefore who with an high hand do persevere in their wickednesse, after foregoing admonitions stubbornly despised or carelesly neglected, are justly by Excommunication in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ cut off and cast out from the so­ciety of the faithfull, and are pronounced to be cast out from the Church, untill being filled with shame, and cast downe, they shall return again to a more sound minde, and by con­fession of their sinne and amendment of their lives, they shall shew tokens of their repentance, Matth. 18. 16, 17, 18. 1 Cor. 5. 13. which places are also alledged in the Confession of Bo­hemia, Art. 8. to prove that the Excommunication of the im­penitent and stubborn, whose wickednesse is known, is com­manded of the Lord: But if stubborn Hereticks, or unclean persons be not removed or cast out from the Church, therein doe the Governours of the Church sinne, and are found guilty, Rev. 2. 14, 20.


But that all abuse and corruption in Ecclesiasticall Govern­ment may be either prevented and avoided, or taken away; or lest the power of the Church either by the ignorance or unskil­fulnesse of some Ministers here and there, or also by too much heat and fervour of minde, should run out beyond measure or bounds, or contrariwise being shut up within straiter limits then is fitting, should be made unprofitable, feeble, or of none effect: Christ the most wise Law-giver of his Church hath foreseen, and made provision to prevent all such evils which he did foresee were to arise, and hath prepared and prescribed for them intrinsecall and Ecclesiasticall remedies, and those also in their kinde (if lawfully and rightly applyed) both suffi­cient and effectuall: Some whereof he hath most expresly pro­pounded in his Word, and some he hath left to be drawn from thence by necessary consequence.


Therefore by reason of the danger of that which is called Clavis erra [...], or a wrong Key; and that it may not be per­mitted to particular Churches to erre or sin licentiously, and [Page 14] lest any mans cause be overthrown and perish, who in a parti­cular Church had perhaps the same men both his adversaries and his judges; Also that common businesses which doe be­long to many Churches, together with the more weighty and difficult controversies (the deciding whereof in the Consisto­ries of particular Churches is not safe to be adventured upon) may be handled and determined by a common councell of Presbyteries. Finally, that the Governours of particular Churches, may impart help mutually one to another against the cunning and subtill enemies of the truth, and may joyne their strength together (such as it is) by an holy combinati­on, and that the Church may be as a camp of an Army well ordered; lest while every one striveth singly, all of them be subdued and overcome; or lest by reason of the scarcity of pru­dent and godly counsellours (in the multitude of whom is safety) the Affairs of the Church be undone: For all those considerations particular Churches must be subordinate to Classicall Presbyteries and Synods.


Wherefore 'tis not lawfull to particular Churches, or (as commonly they are called) Parochiall, either to decline the authority of Classes or Synods, where they are lawfully set­led, or may be had (much lesse to withdraw themselves from that authority, if they have once acknowledged it) or to re­fuse such lawfull Ordinances or Decrees of the Classes or Sy­nodes, as being agreeable to the Word of God, are with au­thority imposed upon them. Acts 15. 2, 6, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29. and 16. 4.


Although Synods assemble more seldome, Classes and Consistories of particular Churches more frequently; Yet that Synods both Provinciall and Nationall assemble at set and ordinary times, as well as Classes and Parochiall consistories is very expedient, and for the due preservation of Church Po­licie and Discipline, necessary. Sometime indeed it is expedi­ent they be assembled occasionally, that the urgent necessity of the Church may be the more speedily provided for, namely, [Page 15] when such a businesse happeneth, which without great danger cannot be put off till the appointed time of the Synod.


But that besides occasionall Synods, ordinary Synods be kept at set times, is most profitable, not onely that they may discusse and determine the more difficult Ecclesiasticall causes coming before them, whether by the appeal of some person agrieved, or by the hesitation or doubting of inferiour Assem­blies (for such businesses very often fall out;) but also that the state of the Churches whereof they have the care, being more certainly and frequently searched and known, if there be any thing wanting or amisse in their Doctrine, Discipline or Man­ners, or any thing worthy of punishment, the slothful Labour­ers in the Vineyard of the Lord may be made to shake off the spirit of slumber and stothfulnesse, and be stirred up to the at­tending and fulfilling more diligently their calling, and not suf­fered any longer to sleep and snort in their Office; the straglers and wanderers may be reduced to the way; the untoward and stiffe-necked, which scarce or very hardly suffer the yoak of Discipline, as also unquiet persons, which devise new and hurtfull things may be reduced to order. Finally, whatsoever doth hinder the more quick and efficacious course of the Gos­pel, may be discovered and removed.


It is too too manifest (alas for it) that there are, which with unwearied diligence doe most carefully labour that they may oppresse the liberties and rights of Synods, and may take away from them all liberty of consulting of things and mat­ters Ecclesiasticall, at least of determining thereof, (for they well know how much the union and harmony of Churches may make against their designes.) But so much the more it concerneth the orthodox Churches to know, defend and pre­serve this excellent liberty granted to them by divine right, and so to use it, that imminent dangers, approaching evils, urging grievances, scandals growing up, schismes rising, he­resies creeping in, errours spreading, and strifes waxing hot, [Page 16] may be corrected and taken away, to the glory of God, the edification and peace of the Church.


Beside Provinciall and Nationall Synodes, an Occumenicall (so called from [...], that is from the habitable World) or more truely a Generall, or if you will, an Universall Synode, if so be it be free and rightly constituted, and no other Com­missioners but orthodox Churches bee admitted (for what communion is there of light with darknesse, of righteousnesse with unrighteousnesse, or of the Temple of God with idols) Such a Synode is of speciall utility, peradventure also such a Synode is to be hoped for, surely tis to be wished, that for de­fending the orthodox Faith, both against Popery and other He­resies, as also for propagating it to those who are without, especially the Jews, a more strait and more firme consocia­tion may be entred into. For the unanimity of all the Churches as in evill tis of all things most hurtfull, so on the contrary side, in good it is most pleasant, most profitable and most effe [...]uall.


Unto the Universall Synode also (when it may be had) is to be referred the judgement of controversies, not of all, but of those which are controversia juris, controversies of right, neither yet of all those, but of the chief and most weigh­ty controversies of the orthodox faith, or of the most hard and unusuall cases of Conscience. Of the controversies of fact there is another and different consideration to be had; for be­sides that it would be a great inconvenience that plaintifes, per­sons accused, and witnesses be drawne from the most remote Churches, to the generall or universall Counsell; the visible communion it selfe of all the Churches (on which the universal Counsel is built, and whereupon as on a foundation it leaneth) is not so much of company, fellowship, or conversation, as of Religion and Doctrine. All true Churches of the World doe indeed professe the same true Religion and faith; but there is beside this a certaine commixture and conjunction of the Churches of the same Nation, as to a more near fellowship, [Page 17] and some acquaintance, converting and companying together, which cannot be said of all the Churches thorowout the habi­table world.


And for this cause, as in Doctrinall Controversies which are handled by Theologues and Casuists, and in those which belong to the common state of the orthodox Churches, the Nationall Synod is subordinate and subjected to the Universall lawfully constituted Synod, and from the Nationall to the Occumenicall Synod (when there is a just and weighty cause) an appeal is open: So there is no need that the Ap­peals of them who complain of injury done to them through the exercise of Discipline in this or that Church, should goe beyond the bounds of the Nationall Synod: But 'tis most a­greeable to reason that they should rest and acquiesce within those bounds and borders; and that the ultimate judgement of such matters be in the Nationall Synod, unlesse the thing it self be so hard, and of so great moment, that the knot be justly thought worthy of a greater decider: In which case the con­troversie which is carried to the Universall Synod is rather of an abstract general Theologicall Proposition, then of the par­ticular or individuall Case.


Furthermore, the Administration of the Ecclesiastick power in Consistories, Classes and Synods, doth not at all tend to weaken in any wise, hurt or minish the authority of the Civill Magistrate, much lesse to take it away or destroy it; yea ra­ther, by it a most profitable help cometh to the Magistrate, for­asmuch as by the bond of Religion mens consciences are more straitly tyed unto him. There have been indeed phantasticall men who under pretence and cloak of Christian liberty would abolish and cast out Lawes and Judgements, Orders also, De­grees and Honours out of the Common-wealth, and have been bold to reckon the function of the Magistrate armed with the Sword, among evill things and unlawfull: But the Reformed Churches doe renounce and detest those dreams, and do most harmoniously and most willingly confesse and acknowledge [Page 18] it to be Gods will that the World be governed by Lawes and Plicy, and that hee himself hath appointed the Civill Magi­strate, and hath delivered to him the sword, to the protection and praise of good men, but for punishment and revenge on the evill, that by this bridle mens vices and faults may be re­strained, whether committed against the first or against the se­cond Table.


The Reformed Churches believe also and openly confesse the power and authority of Emperours over their Empires, of Kings over their Kingdoms, of Princes and Dukes over their Dominions, and of other Magistrates or States over their Com­mon-wealths and Cities, to be the ordinances of God himself, appointed as well to the manifestation of his owne glory, as to the singular profit of mankinde: and withall, that by rea­son of the will of God himself revealed in his Word, wee must not onely suffer and be content that those doe rule which are set over their own Territories, whether by hereditary, or by elective right; but also to love them, fear them, and with all reverence and honour embrace them as the Ambassadours and Ministers of the most high and good God, being in his stead, and preferred for the good of their Subjects; to powre out Prayers for them, to pay tributes to them, and in all businesses of the Common-wealth which are not against the Word of God, to obey their Laws and Edicts.


The Orthodox Churches believe also, and do willingly ac­knowledge, that every lawfull Magistrate, being by God himself constituted the keeper and defender of both Tables of the Law, may and ought first and chiefly to take care of Gods glory, and (according to his place, or in his manner and way) to pre­serve Religion when pure, and to restore it when cecayed and corrupted: And also to provide a learned and Godly Ministry, Schools also and Synods, as likewise to restrain and punish as well Atheists, Blasphemers, Hereticks and Schismaticks, as the violaters of Justice and Civill Peace.


Wherefore the opinion of those Sectaries of this Age is altogether to be disallowed, who though otherwise insinu­ating themselves craftily into the Magistrates favour, doe de­nie unto him the authority and right of restraining Hereticks and Schismaticks, and doe hold and maintain that such persons, how much soever hurtfull and pernicious enemies to true Re­ligion and to the Church, yet are to be tolerated by the Magi­strate, if so be hee conceive them to be such as no way violate the Lawes of the Commonwealth, and in no wise disturb the civill Peace.


Yet the civill Power and the ecclesiasticall ought not by any means to be confounded or mixed together: Both Pow­ers are indeed from God, and ordained for his glory, and both to be guided by his word, and both are comprehended under that precept, Honour thy Father and thy Mother: So that men ought to obey both civill Magistrates and ecclesiasticall gover­nours in the Lord; To both powers their proper dignity and authority is to be maintained and preserved in force: To both also is some way entrusted the keeping of both Tables of the Law; also both the one and the other doth exercise some juris­diction, and giveth sentence of Judgement in an externall court or judicatory: But these, and other things of like sort, in which they agree notwithstanding; yet by marvellous vaste differences are they distinguished the one from the other, and the rights of both remain distinct, and that eight manner of wayes, which it shall not be amisse here to adde, that unto each of these Administrations its own set bounds may be the better maintained.


First of all therefore they are differenced the one from the other in respect of the very foundation and the instituti­on: For the politicall or civill Power is grounded upon the Law of Nature it selfe, and for that cause it is common to In­fidels with Christians: the Power ecclesiasticall dependeth [Page 20] immediatly upon the positive Law of Christ alone, that belong­eth to the Universall Dominion of God the creator over all Na­tions; but this unto the speciall and Occonomicall Kingdom of Christ the Mediator, which he exerciseth in the church alone, and which is not of this World.


The second difference is in the object, or matter about which: The power politick or civill is occupied about the out­ward man, and civill or earthly things, about Warre, Peace, conservation of Justice, and good order in the Common-wealth; also about the outward businesse or externall things of the Church, which are indeed necessary to the church, or profita­ble, as touching the outward man, yet not properly and purely spirituall, for they doe not reach unto the soule, but onely to the externall state and condition of the Ministers and Members of the Church.


For the better understanding whereof, tis to be observed that so farre as the Ministers and Members of the Church are Citizens, Subjects, or Members of the Common-wealth, it is in the power of the Magistrate, to judge, determine and give sentence concerning the disposing of their bodies or goods; As also concerning the maintenance of the poore, sick, the ba­nished, and of others in the church which are afflicted; To regulate (so far as concerneth the civill order) Marriages, Burials, and other circumstances which are common both to holy, and also to honest civill societies; to afford places fit for holy Assemblies and other externall helps by which the sacred matters of the Lord may be more safely, commodious­ly, and more easily in the church performed: To remove the externall impediments of divine worship or of Ecclesiasticall Peace, and to represse those which exalt themselves against the true Church and her Ministers, and doe raise up trouble a­gainst them.


The matter may further be thus illustrated: There is al­most the like respect and confideration of the Magistrate as he [Page 21] is occupied about the outward things of the church, and of the Ecclesiastick Ministery as it is occupied about the inward or spirituall part of civill Government, that is about those things which in the government of the common-wealth be­long to the conscience. It is one thing to governe the com­mon-wealth, and to make politicall and civill Lawes; ano­ther thing to interpret the Word of God, and out of it to shew to the Magistrate his duty, to wit, how he ought to go­vern the common-wealth, and in what manner he ought to use the sword. The former is prop [...]r and peculiar to the Ma­gistrate (neither doth the Ministery intermeddle or intangle it self into such businesses,) But the latter is contained within the office of the Ministers.


For to that end also is the holy Scripture profitable, to shew which is the best manner of governing a common-wealth, and that the Magistrate as being Gods Minister may by this guiding Starre bee so directed, as that he may execute the parts of his office according to the will of God, and may perfectly be instituted to every good work; yet the Minister is not said properly to treat of civill businesses, but of the scandalls which arise about them, or of the cases of conscience which occurre in the Administration of the common-wealth: So al­so the Magistrate is not properly said to be exercised about the spirituall things of the church, but rather about those exter­nall things which adhere unto and accompany the spirituall things.


And in such externall matters of the church, although all Magistrates will not, yet all, yea even heathen Magistrates may and ought to aide and help the Church; Whence it is that by the command of God, Prayers are to be made also for an heathen Magistrate, that the faithfull under them may live a quiet life with all godlinesse and honesty. 1 Tim. 2. 1 2.


Unto the externall things of the Church belongeth▪ not onely the correction of Hereticlis and other troublers of the [Page 22] Church, but also that civill order and way of convocating and calling together Synods which is proper to the Magi­strate; for the Magistrate ought by his authority and power both to establish the Rights and Liberties of Synods assem­bling together, at times appointed by the known and recei­ved Law, and to indict and gather together Synods occasio­nally, as often as the necessity of the Church shall require the same; Not that all or any power to consult or determine of Ecclesiastick or spirituall matters doth flow or spring from the Magistrate as Head of the Church under Christ; but because in those things pertaining to the outward man, the Church needeth the Magistrates aid and support.


So that the Magistrate calleth together Synods, not as touching those things which are proper to Synods; but in re­spect of the things which are common to Synods with other meetings and civill publick Assemblies; that is, not as they are Assemblies in the name of Christ, to treat of matters spi­rituall, but as they are publick Assemblies within his Territo­ries; for to the end that publick conventions may be kept in any Territorie, the licence of the Lord of that place ought to be desired. In Synods therefore a respect of order, as well civill as ecclesiasticall is to be had; And because of this Ci­vill order, outward defence, better Accommodation, toge­ther with safe accesse and recesse, the consent and commande­ment of him who is appointed to cake care of and defend hu­mane order, doth intervene.


Moreover when the Church is rent asunder by unhappy and lamentable Shcismes, while they who have raised the troubles, and have given cause of solemne gathering a Sy­node (whether by their Heresie, or Schisme, or Tyranny, or any other fault of others) use to place the great strength and safeguard of their cause in declining and fleeing the tryall and sentence of a free Synode, as being formidable to them: Who seeth not that they cannot be drawn to a publick and ju­diciall tryall, nor other disobedient persons be compelled to [Page 23] obedience without the Magistrates publick mandate and help?


The object of Ecclesiasticall Power is not the same with the object of the civill Power, but much differing from it; for the ecclesiasticall Power doth determine and appoinr nothing concerning mens bodies, goods, dignities, civill rights, but is imployed onely about the inward man, or the soul; not that it can search the hearts, or judge of the secrets of the conscience, which is in the power of God alone: Yet not­withstanding it hath for its proper object those externalls which are purely spirituall, and doe belong properly and most neerly to the spirituall good of the soul; Which also are termed [...], the inward things of the Church.


Those things then wherein the ecclesiasticall Power is ex­ercised, are the preaching of the Word, the Administration of Sacraments, publick Prayer and Thanksgiving, the catechi­sing and instructing of children and ignorant persons, the ex­amination of those who are to come the holy Communion, the ecclesiasticall Discipline, the Ordination of Ministers, and the abdication, deposing, and degrading of them (if they become like unsavoury salt), the deciding and determining of controversies of Faith, and cases of conscience, canonicall constitutions concerning the treasurie of the Church, and collections of the Faithfull, as also concerning ecclesiasticall Rites, or indifferent things, which pertaine to the keeping of decencie and Order in the Church according to the generall rules of Christian love and prudence contained in the Word of God.


'Tis true, that about the same things the civill Power is occupied, as touching the outward man, or the outward dis­posing of divine things in this or that Dominion, as was said; not as they are Spirituall and Evangelicall Ordinances piercing into the conscience it selfe; but the object of the Power ec­clesiasticall [Page 24] is a thing meerly and purely spirituall; and in so far as it is spirituall (for even that jurisdiction Ecclesiasticall which is exercised in an outward court or judicatory, and which inflict [...] publike censures, forbidden from the use of the holy Supper, and excludeth from the society of the church) doth properly concerne the inward man, or the repentance and sal­vation of the soul.


Surely the Faithfull and Godly Ministers, although they could doe it unchallenged and uncontrolled, and were therein allowed by the Magistrate (as in the prelaticall times it was) yet would not usurpe the power of life and death, or judge and determine concerning mens honours, goods, inheritance, division of Families, or other civill businesses; seeing they well know these things to bee heterogeneous to their office: But as they ought not to entangle themselves with the judge­ing of civill causes, so if they should bee negligent and slothfull in their owne office, they shall in that bee no lesse culpable.


To the object also of Ecclesiasticall power belongeth the assembling of Synodes, so far as they are spirituall Assemblies proper to the church, and assembled in the holy Ghost; for be­ing so considered, the governours of churches after the example of the Apostles and Presbyters, Acts 15. in a manifest danger of the church, ought to use their owne right of meeting together and conveening, that the churches endangered may be relieved and supported.


Thirdly, Those powers are differences in respect of their formes, and that three wayes: For first the civill Power, al­though in respect of God it bee Ministeriall, yet in respect of the Subjects it is Lordly and Magisteriall. Ecclesiasticall power is indeed furnished with authority, yet that authority is liker the Fatherly then the Kingly authority; Yea also tis purely Ministe­riall, much lesse can it be lawfull to Ministers of the Church to bear dominion over the flock.


Emperors, Kings and other Magistrats are indeed appointed fathers of they countrey, but the are withall Lords of their People and Subjects; Not as if it were permitted to them to bear rule and command at their owne will and as they list (for they are the Ministers of God for the good and profit of the Subjects) yet it belongs to their power truely and properly to exercise dominion, to hold principality, to proceed imperi­ously. It is indeed the duety of Ministers and Rulers of the Church to oversee, to feed as shepherds, to correct and re­ctifie, to bear the keyes, to be Stewards in the house of Christ, but in no wise to be Lords over the house, or to governe as Lords, or Lordlike to rule; yea in brief, this is the difference be­tween the civill Magistrate and the Ecclesiasticall Ministery, in respect of those that are committed to their trust, that the lot of the former is to be served or ministred unto, the lot of the latter to minister or serve.


Now we have one onely Lord which governes our souls, neither is it competent to man, but to God alone to have pow­er and authority over consciences. But the Lord hath appoin­ted his owne Stewards over his owne Family, that according to his commandment they may give to every one their allow­ance or portion, and to dispense his mysteries faithfully; and to them hee hath delivered the keyes, or power of letting in in­to his house, or excluding out of his house those whom he him­self will have let in or shut out. Matth. 16. 19. and 18. 18. Luk. 12. 42. 1 Cor. 4. 1. Tit. 1. 7.


Next, the civill power is indued with authority of com­pelling; But it belongs not to the Ministery to compell the disobedient; if any compulsion be in or about Eclesissticall matters, tis adventitious from without, to wit, from the help and assistance of the Magistrate, not from the nature of Ecclesiasticall power, from which it is very heterogenous; and therefore if any Suspended or Excommunicate persons should be found, who shall be so stiffe-necked, and so impudent [Page 26] that at once he cast off all shame, and make no account at all of those censures, but scorn or contemn the same, or perad­venture shall insolently or proudly engyre and obtrude himself upon the Sacrament, or being also filled with divelish malice, do more and more contradict and blaspheme; the ecclesiasti­call Ministry in such cases hath nothing more to do by way of jurisdiction: But the Magistrate hath in readinesse a compel­ling jurisdiction and externall force, whereby such stubborn, re­bellious and undaunted pride may be externally repressed.


Last of all, the power of the Magistrate worketh onely politically or civilly, according to the nature of the Scepter or Sword, maketh and guardeth civill Lawes, which some­times also hee changeth or repealeth, and other things of that kinde hee eff [...]cteth with a secular power: But the ecclesiasti­call power dealeth spiritually, and onely in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by authority entrusted or received from him alone: neither is it exercised without prayer or calling on the Name of God: nor lastly, doth it use any other then spiritu­all weapons.


The same sinne therefore in the same man may be punished one way by the civill, another way by the ecclesiasticall Power; By the civill Power under the formality of a crime, with corporall or pecuniary punishment: By the ecclesiasti­call Power, under the notion or nature of scandall, with a spirituall censure; even as also the same civill question is one way deliberate upon and handled by the Magistrate in the Se­nate or place of Judgement; another way by the Minister of the Church, in the Presbytery or Synod: By the Magistrate, so farre as it pertaineth to the Government of the Common-wealth; by the Minister, so far as it respects the conscience; for the ecclesiastiall Ministery also is exercised about civil things spiritually, in so far as it teacheth and admonisheth the Magistrate out of the Word of God what is best and most ac­ceptable unto God; or as it reproveth freely unjust judgements, [Page 27] unjust wars, and the like, and out of the Scripture threatneth the wrath of God to be revealed against all unrighteousness of men: So also is the Magistrate said to be occupied civilly about spiritual things.


Therefore all the actions of the civill Magistrate, even when he is imployed about Ecclesiasticall matters, are of their own nature, and essentially, civill. He punisheth externally I­dolaters, Blasphemers, Sacrilegious persons, Hereticks, Pro­phaners of holy things, and according to the nature and mea­sure of the sin, he condemneth to death or banishment, forfei­ture of goods, or imprisonment: he guardeth and under­proppeth Ecclesiasticall Canons with civill authority, giveth a place of habitation to the Church in his territory, restrain­eth or expelleth the insolent and untamed disturbers of the Church.


He taketh care also for maintaining the Ministers and Schools, and supplyeth the temporall necessities of Gods Ser­vants, by his command assembleth Synods, when there is need of them: and summoneth, calleth out, and draws to tryall the unwilling, which without the Magistrates strength and autho­rity cannot be done, as hath bin already said: he maketh Sy­nods also safe and secure, and in a civil way presideth or mode­rateth in them (if it so seem good to him) either by himself, or by a substitute Commissioner. In all which the power of the Magistrate, though occupied about spirituall things, is not, for all that, spiritual but civill.


Fourthly, they differ in the end: The immediate, nearest end of civil power, is, that the good of the Common-wealth may be provided for and procured, whether it be in time of Peace, according to the rules of Law and counsel of Judges; or in time of War, according to the rules of Military prudence: and so the temporall safety of the Subjects may be procured, and that external Peace and civil Liberty may be preserved, and be­ing lost, may be again restored.


But the chiefest and last end of civill Government is, the glory of God the Creator, namely, that those which do evil, be­ing by a superior power restrained or punished, and those which do good, getting praise of the same, the subjects so much the more may shun impiety and injustice: and that Vertue, Justice and the Morall Law of God (as touching those eternal duties of both Tables, unto which all the posterity of Adam are obliged) may remain in strength, and flourish,


But whereas the Christian Magistrate doth wholly devote himself to the promoting of the Gospel and Kingdom of Christ, and doth direct and bend all the might and strength of his au­thority to that end: This proceedeth not from the nature of his office and function, which is common to him with an Infidell Magistrate; but from the influence of his common Christian calling into his particular vocation.


For every member of the Church (and so also the faithful and godly Magistrate) ought to referr and order his particular vo­cation, faculty, ability, power and honour to this end, that the Kingdom of Christ may be propagated and promoted, and the true Religion be cherished and defended: So that the advancement of the Gospell, and of all the Ordinances of the Gospell, is indeed the end of the godly Magistrate: not of a Magistrate simply; or (if ye will rather) tis not the end of the office it self, but of him who doth execute the same pi­ously.


But the end of Ecclesiastical power, yea the end as well of the Ministry it self, as of the godly Minister, is, that the King­dom of Christ may be set forward, that the pathes of the Lord be made straight, that his holy mysteries may be kept pure, that stumbling-blocks may be removed out of the Church, least a little leaven leaven the whole lump; or least one sick or scabbed sheep infect the whole flock; that the faithfull may so walk as it becometh the Gospell of Christ, [Page 29] and that the wandring sheep of Christ may be converted and brought back to the sheep-Fold:


And seeing this power is given of the Lord, not to destructi­on but to edification; Therefore this same scope is propounded in Excommunication, (which is the greatest and last of Ecclesi­astical censures) namely, that the soul of an offending brother may be gained to Christ, and that being stricken with fear, and the stubborn sinner filled with shame, may by the grace of God be humbled, and may (as a brand plucked out of the fire) be snatched out of the snare of the Devill, and may repent unto salvation; at least, the rest may turn away from those which are branded with such a censure, least the soul infection do creep and spread further.


Fiftly, they are distinguished by the effect. The effect of civil power is either proper or by way of redundance: The proper effect is the safety temporal of the Common-wealth, externall tranquillity, the fruition of civil Liberty, and of all things which are necessary to the civil Society of men. The effect, by way of redundance, is the good of the Church, to wit, in so far as by ex­ecution of Justice and good Laws, some impediments that usu­ally hinder and disturb the course of the Gospel, are avoided or taken away.


For by how much the more faithfully the Magistrate exe­cuteth his office in punishing the wicked, and cherishing and encouraging good men, taking away those things which withstand the Gospell, and punishing or driving away the troublers and subverters of the Church; so much the more the orthodox Faith and Godlyness are reverenced and had in esti­mation, sins are hated and feared: Finally, and all the sub­jects contained (as much as concerneth the outward man) within the lists of Gods Law: Whence also by consequence in happeneth, by Gods blessing, that the Church is desiled with fewer scandalls, and doth obtain the more freedom and Peace.


But the proper effect of the Ecclesiasticall power, or keys of the Kingdom of Heaven is wholly spirituall; for the act of binding and loosing, of retaining and remitting sins, doth reach to the soul and conscience it self (which cannot be said of the act of the civill power:) And as unjust Excommunica­tion is void, so Ecclesiasticall censure being inflicted by the Mi­nisters of Christ, and his Stewards, according to his will, is ra­tified in Heaven, Mat. 18. 18. and therefore ought to be estee­med and acknowledged in like manner as inflicted by Christ himself.


Sixthly, they are also differenced in respect of the Subject: The politick power is committed sometimes to one, sometimes to more, sometime by right of election, sometime by right of succession: But the Ecclesiasticall power is competent to none under the New Testament by the right of succession, but he who hath it, must be called, by God and the Church, to it; nei­ther was it given by Christ to one, either Pastor or Elder, much less to a Prelate, but to the Church, that is, to the consistory of Presbyters. 'Tis confessed indeed, and who can be ignorant of it, that the power (as they call it) of order, doth belong to par­ticular Ministers, and is by each of them apart lawfully exerci­sed? but that power which is commonly called of jurisdiction, is committed not to one, but to the unity, that is, to a consisto­ry; therefore Ecclesiasticall censure ought not to be inflicted, but by many. 2 Cor. 2. 6.


Seventhly, they differ as touching the correlative: God hath commanded, that unto the civil power, every soul, or all Members of the Common-wealth, of what condition and estate soever, be subiect; for what have we to do with the Papists, who wil have them, whom they call the Clergy or Ecclesiasti­call persons, to be free from the yoke of the civill Magistrate? The Ecclesiasticall power extends it self to none other subiects, then unto those which are called Brethren, or Members of the Church.


Eightly, there remaineth another difference in respect of the distinct and divided exercise of authority. For either power ceasing from its duty, or remitting punishment, that doth not (surely it ought not) prejudice the exercise of the other power; namely, if the Magistrate cease to do his duty, or do neglect to punish with secular punishment, those male­factors which by profession are Church Members: Neverthe­less, it is in the power of the Governors of the Church, by the bridle of Ecclesiastical Discipline, to curb such men; yea also, by vertue of their office they are bound to do it; and on the other part, the Magistrate may, and ought to punish in life and limb, honours or goods, notwithstanding the offenders re­pentance, or reconciliation with the Church.


Therefore the one sword being put up in the scabbard, it is free, and often necessary to draw the other. Neither power is bound to cast out, or receive him, whom the other doth cast forth or receive: The reason whereof is, because the Eccle­siastical Ministry doth chiefly respect the repentance to sal­vation, and gaining of the sinners soul; wherefore it also im­braceth all kind of wicked men repenting, and receiveth them into the bosome of the Church. The Magistrate pro­poseth to himself another, and much differing scope; for e­ven repenting offenders are by him punished, both that Ju­stice and the Laws may be satisfied, as also to terrifie others; hence it is, that absolution from Ecclesiastick censure, freeth not at all the Delinquent, from civill Judgment, and that ex­ternal sword.


Seeing then there are so many and so great differences of both Offices, and seeing also, that the function of Ministers and Elders of the Church, is not at all contained in the office of the Magistrate; neither on the other part, this is comprehended within that; Magistrates shal no less sin in usurping Eccle­siastical power, ministring holy things, ordaining Ministers, or exercising Discipline Ecclesiasticall, then Ministers should [Page 32] sin in rushing into the borders of the Magistrate, and in thru­sting themselves into his calling.


Neither are those powers more mingled one with other, or less distinguished, where the Magistrate is a Christian, then where he is an Infidell; For, as in a believing Father and in an Infidel Father, the rights of a Father are the same, so in a Chri­stian Magistrate, and in an Infidell Magistrate, the rights of Ma­gistrates are the same: So that to the Magistrate converted to the Christian Faith, there is no accession of new right, or in­crease of civil power, although being indued with true Faith and Piety, he is made more fit and willing to the undergoing of his office and the doing of his duty.


So then the Word of God and the Law of Christ, which by so evident difference, separateth and distinguisheth Ecclesiasti­cal Government from the Civill, forbiddeth the Christian Ma­gistrate to enter upon, or usurp the Ministry of the Word and Sacraments, or the juridicall dispensing of the keys of the King­dom of Heaven, to invade the Church-Government, or to chal­lenge to himself the right of both swords, spirituall and corpo­ral: But if any Magistrate (which God forbid) should dare to arrogate to himself so much, and to enlarge his skirts so far, the Church shal then straight way be constrained to complain justly, and cry out, that though the Pope is changed, yet Pope­dom remaineth still.


It is unlawfull moreover to a Christian Magistrate, to with­stand the practise and execution of Ecclesiasticall Discipline, (whether it be that which belongs to a particular Church, or the matter be carryed to a Class or Synode:) Now the Magi­strate withstandeth the Ecclesiastick Discipline, either by pro­hibitions and uniust Laws, or by his evil example, stirring up, and inciting others to the contempt thereof, or to the tram­pling it under foot.


Surely the Christian Magistrate (if any time he give [Page 33] any grievous scandall to the Church,) seeing he also is a mem­ber of the Church, ought no ways disdain to submit himself to the power of the keys; Neither is this to be marvelled at: for even as the office of the Minister of the Church is no ways sub­ordinate and subjected to the civil power, but the person of the Minister, as he is a member of the Common-wealth, is subject thereto: So the civil power it self, or the Magistrate, as a Ma­gistrate, is not subjected to Ecclesiastick power; yet that man who is a Magistrate ought (as he is a member of the Church) to be under the Churches censure of his manners, after the ex­ample of the Emperour Theodosius, unless he wil despise and set at nought Ecclesiastick Discipline, and indulge the swelling pride of the flesh.


If any man should again object that the Magistrate is not indeed to resist Ecclesiasticall Government, yet that the abuses thereof are to be corrected and taken away by him: The an­swer is ready, in the worst and troublesome times, or in the decayed and troubled estate of things, when the ordinance of God in the Church, is violently turned into tyranny, to the treading down of true Religion, and to the oppressing of the Professors thereof, and when nothing almost is sound or whole, divers things are yielded to be lawfull to godly Magi­strates, which are not ordinarily lawfull for them, that so to ex­traordinary diseases, extraordinary remedies may be applyed. So also the Magistrate abusing his power unto tyranny, and ma­king havock of all, tis lawfull to resist him by some extraordi­nary ways and means, which are not ordinarily to be al­lowed.


Yet ordinarily and by common or known Law and Right in settled Churches, if any man have recourse to the Magistrate to complain, that through abuse of Ecclesiastick Discipline, injury is done to him, or if any sentence of the Pastors and Elders of the Church, whether concerning Faith or Disci­pline, do displease or seem uniust unto the Magistrate himself; it is not for that cause lawfull to draw those Ecclesiasticall [Page 34] causes to a civil tribunal, or to bring in a kind of political or civil Popedom.


What then? Shall it be lawful ordinarily for Ministers and Elders to do what they list, or shall the Governors in the Chur­ches, glorying in the Law, by their transgression dishonour God? God forbid. For first, if they shall trespass in any thing against the Magistrate or municipal Laws, whether by inter­medling in judging of civil causes, or otherwise disturbing the peace and order of the Common-wealth, they are liable to civil tryal and judgments, as it is in the power of the Magistrate to restrain and punish them.


Again it hath been before shewed, that to Ecclesiastical evils Ecclesiastical remedies are appointed and fitted, for the Church is no less then the Common-wealth, through the grace of God, sufficient to it self in reference unto her own end: and as in the Common-wealth, so in the Church, the errour of inferior judgments and Assemblies, or their evil Govern­ment, is to be corrected by superior judgments and Assem­blies, and so still by them of the same order, lest one order be confounded with another, or one Government be inter­mingled with another Government. What shall now the ad­versaries of Ecclesiastical power object here, which those who admit not the yoke of the Magistrate may not be ready in like manner to transfer against the civil Judicatories and Govern­ment of the Common-wealth? Seeing it happeneth sometimes that the Common-wealth is no less ill Governed then the Church.


If any man shall prosecute the argument, and say, that yet no remedy is here shewed, which may be applyed to the injustice or error of a National Synod: surely he stumbleth against the same stone, seeing he weigheth not the matter with an equal ballance; for the same may in like sort fall back and be cast upon Parliaments, or any supream Senate of a Common-wealth: for who seeth not the judgment of the [Page 35] supream civill Senate to be nothing more infallible, yea also in matters of Faith and Ecclesiasticall Discipline, more apt and prone to Error (as being less accustomed to sacred Studies) then the judgment of the Nationall Synod? what medicines then, or what soveraign plaisters shal be had, which may be fit for the curing and healing of the Errors and miscariages of the supream Magistrate and Senate? The very like, and be­side all this, other and more effectuall medicines, by which the Errors of Nationall Synods may be healed, are possible to be had.


There wanteth not a Divine Medicine, and Soveraign Balm in Gilead; for although the Popish opinion of the in­fallibility of Counsels, be worthily rejected and exploded; yet tis not in vain that Christ hath promised, he shal be pre­sent with an Assembly, which in deed and in truth, meeteth together in his Name; with such an Assembly, verily he useth to be present by a spirituall aide and assistance of his own Spi­rit, to uphold the falling, or to raise up the fallen. Whence it is, that divers times the Errors of former Synods are discove­red and amended by the latter: sometimes also the second, or after thoughts of one and the same Synod are the wiser and the better.


Furthermore, the line of Ecclesiasticall Subordination is longer and further stretched, then the line of civill Subordina­tion; for a Nationall Synod must be subordinate and subject to an Universall Synod, in the manner aforesaid, whereas yet there is no Occumenicall Parliament, or generall civill Court acknowledged, unto which the supream civill Senate, in this or that Nation, should be subject. Finally, neither is the Church altogether destitute of nearer remedies, whether an universall counsell may be had or not.


For the Nationall Synod ought to declare, and that with greatest reverence, to the Magistrate, the grounds of their sen­tence, and the reasons of their proceedings, when he deman­deth or enquireth into the same, and desireth to be satisfied: but if the Magistrate nevertheless do dissent, or cannot by con­trary reasons (which may be brought, if he please) move the Synod to alter their judgment, yet may he require, and pro­cure, that the matter be again debated and canvassed in another National Synod; and so the reasons on both sides being throughly weighed, may be lawfully determined in an Eccle­siastical way.


But as there is much indeed to be given to the demand of the Magistrate; so is there here a two-fold caution to be used: For first, notwithstanding of a future revision, it is necessary that the former sentence of the Synod, whether concerning the administration of Ecclesiastick Discipline, or against any Here­sie, be forthwith put in execution; least by lingering and ma­king of delays, the evil of the Church take deeper root, and the gangreen spread and creep further: and least violence be done to the Consciences of Ministers, if they be constrained to impart the signs and seals of the Covenant of Grace to dogs and swine, that is, to unclean persons, wallowing in the mire of ungodliness; and least subtile men abuse such interims or inter­vals, so as that Ecclesiasticall Discipline altogether decay, and the very decrees of Synods be accounted as cobwebs, which none feareth to break down.


Next it may be granted, that the matter may be put under a further examination, yet upon condition, that when it is come to the revision of the former sentence, regard may be had of the weaker which are found willing to be taught, [Page 37] though they doubt, but that unto the wicked and contentious tempters, which do mainly strive to oppress our liberty which we have in Christ, and to bring us into bondage, we do not for a moment give place by subjecting our selves: For what else seek they or wait for, then that under the pretence of a re­vising and of new debate, they cast in lets and impediments e­ver and anon, and that by cunning lyings in wait, they may betray the liberty of the Church, and in process of time may by open violence, more forceably break in upon it, or at least, constrain the Ministers of the Church to weave Penelop's web, which they can never bring to an end.


Moreover, the Christian Magistrate hath then only dis­charged his office in reference to Ecclesiasticall Discipline, when not only he withdraweth nothing from it, and ma­keth no impedient to it, but also affordeth speciall furtherance and help to it, according to the Prophecy, Esai. 49. 23. And Kings shal be thy nursing fathers, and Queens thy nursing mothers.


For Christian Magistrates and Princes embracing Christ, and sincerely giving their names to him, do not only serve him as men, but also use their office to his glory, and the good of the Church: they defend, stand for, and take care to propagate the true Faith and Godliness, they affoord places of habitation to the Church, and furnish necessary helps and supports, turn away injuries done to it, restrain false Religion, and cherish, underprop, and defend the Rights and Liberties of the Church: so far they are from diminishing, changing or restrai­ning those Rights, for so the condition of the Church were in that respect worse, and the Liberty thereof more cut short, under the Christian Magistrate, then under the infi­dell or heathen.


Wherefore seeing these nursing fathers, favourers and de­fenders, can do nothing against the Truth, but for the Truth, nor have any right against the Gospel, but for the Gospel; and their power in respect of the Church, whereof they bear the care, being not privative or destructive, but cumulative and auxiliary, thereby it is sufficiently clear, that they ought to cherish, and by their authority, ought to establish the Ecclesiasticall Discipline; but yet not with implicite Faith, or blind obedience: For the Reformed Churches do not deny to any of the faithfull, much less to the Magistrate, the judgment of Christian prudence and discretion, concer­ning those things which are decreed or determined by the Church.


Therefore, as to each Member of the Church respectively, so unto the Magistrate belongeth the judgment of such things, both to apprehend and to judg of them; for although the Magi­strate is not ordained and preferred of God, that he should be a judg of matters and causes spirituall, of which there is con­troversie in the Church: Yet is he questionless judg of his own civill act, about spirituall things; namely, of defending them in his own Dominions, and of approving or tolerating the same; and if in this business he judg and determine according to the wisdom of the flesh, and not according to the wisdom which is from above, he is to render an account thereof before the supream Tribunall.


However the Ecclesiasticall Discipline, according as it is ordained by Christ, whether it be established and ratified by civill authority, or not, ought to be retained and exercised in the Society of the faithfull (as long as it is free and safe for them to come together in holy Assemblies) for the want of [Page 38] civil authority is unto the Church like a ceasing gain, but not like Damage or loss ensuing; as it superaddeth nothing more, so it takes nothing away.


If it further happen (which God forbid) that the Magistrate do so far abuse his authority, that he doth straitly forbid what Christ hath ordained; yet the constant and faithful servants of Christ, will resolve and determine with themselves, that any extremities are rather to be undergone, then that they should obey such things, and that we ought to obey God rather then men; yea they will not leave off to perform all the parts of their office, being ready, in the mean time, to render a reason of their practice to every one that demandeth it, but specially unto the Magistrate, (as was said before.)


These things are not to that end and purpose proposed, that these functions should be opposed one against another, in a ho­stile posture, or in terms of enmity, then which nothing is more hurtful to the Church and Common-wealth, nothing more execrable to them who are truly and sincerely zealous for the house of God (for they have not so learned Christ:) but the aim is, First and above all, that unto the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ the only Monarch of the Church, his own prerogative Royal (of which also himself in the World was accused, and for his witnessing a good confession thereof before Pontius Pilate, was unjustly condemned to death) may be fully maintained and defended.


Next, this debate also tendeth to this end, that the pow­er as well of Ecclesiasticall censure as of the civil sword be­ing in force, the licentiousness of carnal men, which desire that there be too slack Ecclesiastical Discipline or none at all, may be bridled, and so men may sin less, and may live more [Page 40] agreeably to the Gospel. Another thing here intended is, that errours on both sides being overthrown, (as well the errour of those who under a fair pretence of maintaining and defen­ding the rights of Magistracy, do leave to the Church either no power, or that which is too weak; as the errour of others, who under the vail of a certain suppositious and imaginary Christian Liberty, do turn off the yoke of the Magistrate) both powers may enjoy their own Priviledges; add hereto that both powers being circumscribed with their distinct bor­ders and bounds, and also the one underpropped and strength­ned by the help of the other, a holy concord between them may be nourished, and they may mutually and friendly imbrace one another.


Last of all, seeing there are not wanting some unhappy men, who cease not to pervert the right ways of the Lord, and with all diligence go about to shake off the yoke of the Ecclesiastical Discipline, where now tis about to be introduced, yea also where it hath been long ago established, and as yet happily re­maineth in force, it was necessary to obviate their most wicked purposes; Which things being so, let all which hath been said, passe with the good leave and liking of those orthodox Churches in which the Discipline of Excommunication is not as yet in use: neither can any offence easily arise to them from hence; yea (if the best conjecture do not deceive) they cannot but rejoyce and congratulate at the defence and vindication of this Discipline.


For those Churches do not deny but acknowledg and teach, that the Discipline of Excommunication is most agree­able to the Word of God, as also that it ought to be restored and exercised; Which also heretofore the most learned Za­chary Ʋrsi [...], in the declaration of his judgment concerning [Page 41] Excommunication, exhibited to Prince Frederick the third, Count Elector Palatine, the title whereof is, Judicium de Disciplina Ecclesiastica & Excommunicatione, &c.


For thus he, In other Churches, where either no Ex­communication is in use, or tis not lawfully administred, and neverthelesse without all controversie, it is confessed and openly taught, that it ought justly to be received and be of force in the Church: and a little after, Lest also your Hignesse by this new opinion do sever your self and your Churches from all other Churches, as well those which have not Excommunication, as those which have it: For­asmuch as all of them do unanimously confesse, and al­wayes confessed, that there is reason why it ought to be in use.


To the same purpose it tendeth which the highly esteemed Philip Melancthon in his Common places, chap. of civil Ma­gistrates, doth affirm: Before (saith he) I warned that civil Places and Powers are to be distinguished from the adhering confusions which arise from other causes, partly from the ma­lice of the devil, partly from the malice of men, partly from the common infirmity of men, as it cometh to passe in other kinds of life and Government ordained of God. No man doubteth, that Ecclesiastical Government is ordained of God, and yet how many and great disorders grow in it from other causes. Where he mentioneth a Church Govern­ment distinct from the civil, and that jure divino, as a thing uncontroverted.


Neither were the wishes of the chief Divines of Zurick and Berne wanting, for the recalling and restoring of the discipline of Excommunication. So Bullinger upon 1 Cor. 5. And hitherto (saith he) of the Ecclesiastical chasti­sing of wickedness, but here I would have the brethren diligently warned, that they watch, and with all diligence take care that this wholesom medicine, thrown out of the true Church by occasion of the Popes avarice, may be re­duced, that is, that scandalous sins be punished: fon this is the very end of Excommunication, that mens manners may be well ordered, and the Saints flourish, the prophane being restrained, lest wicked men by their impudency and impiety increase and undo all. It is our part, ô brethren, with greatest diligence to take care of these things; for we see that Paul in this place doth stir up those that were negligent in this business.


Aretius agreeth hereunto. Problem. Theolog. loc, 33. Magistrates do not admit the yoke, they are afraid for their honours, they love licentiousnesse, &c. The com­mon people is too dissolute, the greatest part is most corrupt, &c. In the mean while I willingly confesse, that we are not to despair, but the age following will peradventure yeeld more tractable spirits, more mild hearts, then our times have. See also Lavater agreeing in this, Homil. 52. on Nehem. Because the Popes of Rome have abused Ex­communication for the establishing of their own tyranny, it cometh to pass, that almost no just Discipline can be any more settled in the Church, but unlesse the wicked be re­strained, all things must of necessity run into the worst condition, See besides, the opinion of Fabritius, upon Psal. 149. 6, 7, 8, 9. of spirituall corrections, which he [Page 43] groundeth upon that Text compared with Matth. 16. 19. and 18. 18. Iohn 20. 23.


It can hardly be doubted or called in question, but besides these, other learned and Godly Divines of those Churches were and are of the same mind herein, with those now cited; and indeed the very Confession of Faith of the Churches of Helve­tia, Chap. 18. may be an evidence hereof. But there ought to be in the mean time a just Discipline amongst Ministers, for the doctrine and life of Ministers is diligently to be enquired of in Synods: Those that sin are to be rebuked of the Elders, and to be brought again into the way, if they be curable; or to be deposed, and like wolves driven away from the floek of the Lord, if they be incurable. That this manner of Synodical censure, namely of deposing Ministers from their office for some great scandal, is used in the republike of Zurick, Lava­ter is witness, in his book of the Rites and Ordinances of the Church of Zurick, Chap. 23. Surely they could not be of that mind, that Ecclesiastical Discipline ought to be exercised upon Delinquent Ministers only, and not also upon other rotten Mem­bers of the Church.


Yea the Helvetian Confession in the place now cited, doth so tax the inordinate zeal of the Donatists and Anabaptists (which are so bent upon the rooting out of the tares out of the Lords field, that they take not heed of the danger of plucking up the wheat) that withall it doth not obscurely commend the Ecclesiastical Forensical Discipline, as distinct from the civil Power, and seeing (say they) ttis altogether necessary that there be in the Church a Discipline; and among the Anci­ents in times past Excommunication hath been usual, and Ec­clesiastical [Page 44] Courts have been among the People of God, among whom this Discipline was exercised by prudent and goods men; It belongeth also to Ministers according to the case of the times, the publick estate and necessity, to moderate this Dis­cipline; Where this rule is ever to be held, that all ought to be done to edification, decently, honestly, without tyranny and se­dition; The Apostle also witnesseth, 2 Cor. 13. that to him­self, was given of God a Power unto edification, and not unto destruction.


And now what resteth, but that God be intreated with continual and ardent Prayers, both that he would put into the hearts of all Magistrates, zeal and care to che­rish, defend, and guard the Ecclesiastick Discipline, toge­ther with the rest of Christs Ordinances, and to stop their eares against the importunate suits of whatsoever claw­backs, which would stir them up against the Church; and that also all Governours and Rulers of Churches, being every where furnished and helped with the strength of the holy Spirit, may diligently and faithfully execute this part also of their function, as it becommeth the trusty servants of Christ, which study to please their own Lord and Master, more then men.


Finally, all those who are more averse from Eccle­siastick Discipline, or ill affected against it, are to be ad­monished and intreated through our Lord Jesus Christ, that they be no longer entangled and enveagled with carnall prejudice, to give place in this thing to humane affections, [Page 45] and to measure by their own corrupt reason spirituall Disci­pline, but that they do seriously think with themselves, and consider in their minds, how much better it were, that the lusts of the flesh were as with a bridle tamed, and that the re­pentance, amendment, and gaining of vicious men unto salva­tion may be sought, then that sinners be left to their own dis­position, and be permitted to follow their own lusts without controulment, and by their evil example to draw others head­long into ruin with themselves: and seeing either the keys of Discipline must take no rust, or the manners of Christians will certainly contract much rust: what is here to be chosen, and what is to be shunned, let the Wise and Godly, who alone take to heart the safety of the Church, judg.


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