New England's LAMENTATIONS Under these Three Heads,

  • The Decay of the Power of Godliness;
  • The Danger of Arminian Principles;
  • The Declining State of our Church-Order, Government and Discipline.

With the Means of these Declensions, AND THE Methods of our Recovery.

By the Reverend Mr. JOHN WHITE, M. A. And Pastor of the first Church in Glocester.

To which are added, Reasons for Adhering to our PLATFORM, AND Answers to some Objections against Ruling Elders, By another Hand.

As also, A Vindication of the Divine Authority of Ruling Elders, By A Provincial Assembly of Presbyterian Ministers at London, in 1649.

BOSTON: Printed and sold by T. Fleet, at the Sign of the Heart and Crown in Corn-Hill. 1734.


New England's LAMENTAITONS, Under these Three Heads,

  • The Decay of the Power of Godliness;
  • The Danger of Arminian Principles;
  • The Declining State of our Church-Order, Government and Discipline.

With the Means of these Declensions, AND THE Methods of our Recovery.

By the Reverend Mr. JOHN WHITE, M. A. Pastor of the first Church in Glocester.

Recommended by several Ministers of Boston.

Rev. II. 4, 5.

Nevertheless, I have somewhat against Thee, be­cause thou hast left thy first Love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first Works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy Candle­stick out of his place, except thou repent.

BOSTON: Printed and sold by T. Fleet, at the Heart and Crown, in Cornhill. 1734.

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HAVING been oblig'd with the Perusal of the following Sheets, and desired to signify how far we approve them, We do freely declare our Concurrence with the Reverend Author in the main Scope and End of the Work, and heartily recommend it to those for whom it is designed, for their serious Con­sideration, and Acceptance in the Lord.

The Performance discovers Solidity of Judg­ment, and a deep Seriousness of Spirit, without Ostentation of Learning; and as the Author professes a high and deserved Affection to these Churches of our Lord Jesus Christ, so we humbly think he judges rightly of those Things which have at present a gloomy Aspect upon their. Welfare and Prosperity, and points out several excellent Methods to be taken to reco­ver and preserve their Strength and Glory.

We believe what he here offers to the Pub­lick, is the Fruit of much Tho't and Prayer, [Page 2] and hope it may prove a seasonable Piece of Service to the Churches, and be, by the Bles­sing of God, instrumental to stablish them in the Faith and Order of the Gospel as they have been taught, and helpful to revive the Power of Godliness in them, which is so sadly decayed.

We pray God to continue to this His Ser­vant, Strength and Ability to do much Service for Christ and his Church, and to crown his faithful Labours with abundant Success; and especially to give him the peculiar Joy to see his own Flock standing fast in the Lord, and flourishing in all those Fruits of Righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ to the Praise and Glory of God!

Peter Thacher, Joseph Sewall, Thomas Prince, John Webb, William Cooper, Thomas Foxcroft.
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The Epistle Dedicatory.
To the Congregational Churches of Christ in New-England.

Much Honoured, Reverend, and dearly beloved in our LORD:

I' Who am one of the least and meanest of the Servants of Him, who is the Political as well as Mystical Head of these holy Churches, have adventured (in the following Essay) to endeavour the establishing your Faith and Order. And al­tho' it may be thought a bold Attempt, and to Sa­vour of a haughty Spirit, for so obscure a Person to meddle with Things so far above me; I have this to say by way of Apology, That had I a Heart no bigger than a Hen's (who will be as bold as a Lion in defence of her Chickens, when in apparent Danger) it is enough to engage me, (thro' Strength of Affection to these Churches, and to my own and others of the rising Generation) to make a vigorous Essay, for the Faith and Order of these Churches of Christ, at a Time when there is danger of a de­fection from both. But I may farther say, and I would speak it in all Humility and Thankfulness, that I have hereto been emboldned and encouraged, [Page 2] as well as herein assisted by the God of all Grace and holy Influences. And ye Mourners in Our Zion, who are apt to despond, and be dispirited, raise up your dejected Heads, and be of good Cheer, for there are more of the Reverend Pastors of these Churches, hearty Friends to our Constitution, than you are aware of. These Churches, as to the Faith and Or­der of the Gospel, are whole at Heart. For the very Reverend Pastors, as well as the very Ho­nourable Churches at Boston, have in a late Coun­cil at Salem, (at which Council there were no less than Seven Churches belonging to that Town) made full Proof of their being Friends to the Congregati­onal Government. And there is no Reason to doubt, but in the Country as well as in the City, there will appear a great Number of good Friends to You, and your Faith and Order. Great Reason then have we to hope for a more healthy and athletick Church State. If ye, O Holy Churches, will awake, arise, and assert your Powers, and Priviledges, in fully supplying your selves with Officers according to Christ's Appointment; and do your Parts as to the maintaining of Strict Discipline in the Churches, and manage Communion one Church with another, according to the Rules in Our Platform: I am perswaded the Reverend Pastors will be ready to encourage your Hearts, and strengthen your Hands therein. For I trust their Eyes are open to see, that either we must return fully to our Constituti­on, or suffer an utter Dissolution. And if any thing I have now written, or have formerly done, [Page 3] may in any measure serve to restore Our Churches to a healthy State; I shall be willing to bear all the Invectives, hard Speeches, and rash unreasonable Censures, that the Enemies of Our Faith or Order, can utter against me. I shall ask leave to offer some Things that may serve to direct our Conduct, in such a Day of Temptation as this is; wherein I have reference to Matters of Lamentation, an Secu­lar and Civil Accounts, as well as Ecclesiastical.

1. We shall do well to keep a strict Watch over our own Hearts, and that with all diligence, as Prov. 4. 23. Let us not admit one disloyal Thought into Our Hearts. Let us heartily Love, and Pray for, our Good and Lawful King, and all the Royal Family: Remembering that our Sovereign, as well as the whole Creation, is that, and only that, to us, which God is pleased to make them. Let this serve to humble and quiet us, under our perplexed unhappy Circumstances; that none of these Evils come unto us, without the Providence of God.

2. Let us Watch over one another, as we have solemnly promised in our Church Covenant. I fear in all Our Churches there is a great defect, in keeping this branch of the Covenant. How rare a thing is it, for Christians with a Spirit of Meek­ness, to search out the Truth of those Scandalous Reports, (which in a way of Defamation, are han­ded from one to another, concerning the Members (and perhaps the Ministers) of Christ) in a way of Private, and Personal Conferences, in order to [Page 4] their Vindication, if found Innocent, or Convicti­on, and Reformation, if found Guilty. How uncha­ritable a thing is it for Christians to defame their Fellow Members? and perhaps with an Air of Com­placency. Such are ill and foul Birds; they here­in, are not as harmless as Doves. That Rule of Christ is shamefully neglected by Professors; Mat. 18. 15. If thy Brother trespass against thee, go and tell him his Fault between thee and him a­lone, &c. And by reason of the neglect of this first Step of Discipline, there is a great neglect of Go­vernment in the Church.

3. Let every one continue in his particular Cal­ling: as, 1 Cor. 7. 20. I am apt to fear, many a­mong us, make too bold with that Rule. It is ob­servable that many have greatly been frowned upon by God, who have deserted their Calling for ano­ther, perhaps, only more honourable, or Profitable. Every Christian should be willing to be where God would have him be; to do what God would have him do; and to suffer what God would have him suffer. On the Account of the present scarcity of Money, many are under strong Temptations to leave their Trades: I apprehend this will make bad worse. It will be but a leaping out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire. Keep to Duty, and leave the Event to God.

4thly. and lastly, Have a Care under your pre­sent Straights and Difficulties that you don't Op­press one another. Prov. 28. 3. A Poor Man that oppresseth the Poor, is like a sweeping Rain, [Page 5] which leaveth no Food. It is to be feared that there is much Oppression in the Land. Our present Circumstances require that we guard against it. We should account nothing worth getting in an un­lawful way. That which is honestly got, will spend well, but that which is gotten by Oppression, brings a secret Blast and Curse with it.

Accept (I pray) this honest Offer for your Ser­vice, from a hearty lover of his Country, and Friend to these Churches, both in their Faith and Order.

John White.
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New-England's LAMENTATIONS, &c

SUCH as have at Heart the true Interests of New-England, and especially of the Churches therein, must needs be affected with the pre­sent Situation of the Affairs thereof; and mourn in secret Places before the Lord. I shall endea­vour, depending upon the gracious Guidance and In­fluence of the Holy Spirit, to exhibit,

1. The chief Matters of Lamentation.

2. The Means which have brought us into these lamentable Circumstances.

3. The Methods to be taken for our Relief.

As to the FIRST, I shall rank them under the three following Heads.

The Matter of our Lamentation is,

1. That there is so little of the Power of Godliness, with the Form.

We profess the Faith and Order of the Gospel; but does there want Proof as to the Decay of the Life of Religion, or the Power of Godliness? No; this is more than sufficiently proved by the Contempt cast upon Gospel Grace, Ministry, and Ordinances. By the Unchristian Contentions in Towns, Churches, and Fa­milies, by notorious Excesses in lawful Liberties, &c.

And that this is matter of Lamentation appears by what follows,

[Page 2]1. In a Professing Country such as are destitute of the Power of Godliness, are no better than Hypocrites.

2. Such as are short of the Power of Godliness, have never experienced the saving Efficacy of Gospel Ad­ministrations and Ordinances. The Gospel not being a Savour of Life unto Life to them, is like to be a Sa­vour of Death unto Death.

3. Such as have lived all their Days under Gospel Means, and after all die destitute of Grace and the Power of Godliness; these go to Hell when they Die, yea to the hottest place in Hell.

As to the MEANS leading to this Decay of the Power of Godliness, they may be as follow.

(1) An ill treatment of the Spirit of Grace and Holi­ness.

Under this Head, consider a few Things.

(1) The planting of Grace in the Heart of a convinced and humbled Sinner, as well as the actuating of it in the Heart of a Saint, is by the Agency and Influence of the Holy Spirit; Application-Work being his proper Pro­vince. Tit. 3. 5. And renewing of the Holy Ghost.

(2) Provocations given to the Holy Ghost, tend to his withholding these powerful Actings, and withdrawing these gracious Influences. Psal. 81. 11, 12. But my People would not hearken to my Voice, and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up to their own hearts Lusts, and they walked in their own Counsels.

(3) No wonder then, that when a professing People do ill treat, grieve, vex and resist the Holy Ghost, they fall under decays as to the Power of Godliness. 'Tis grievous and vexatious to, yea a resisting of the Holy Spirit, when God's Professing People violate the Covenant in any of its Branches; when they neglect or Superfici­ally perform the Duties of the Closet and Family. And when they watch not over their Fellow-Members in [Page 3] Love. When they prophane the holy Sabbath, stifle Convictions, and act contrary to their pious Resoluti­ons, vow and don't pay. And while they are cold and careless as to the Concerns of their Souls, and Eter­nity; they are over-heated, and deeply engaged in their Affections, towards the Profits, Pleasures, and Preferments of the World: As also when the Gifts and Graces of the Holy Spirit are slighted and despis­ed, and Men think it not worth while to take Pains in the use of proper Means to obtain these: Don't mourn under the want of them: Nor hunger and thirst after them: when in the mean Time they rise early, fit up late, and work till they are weary and spent from Day to Day, to get the World. This their Way is their Folly, and will soon bring Godliness as to the Power of it, under sad Decays.

2. An ungrateful neglect and contempt of the Holy Scrip­tures, and especially the precious Promises thereof, tends to the Decay of Godliness in its Power. Scripture Truths are the principal Means (by Divine Appointment) of the Conversion of Sinners, as well as of the Confirma­tion of Believers. John, 17. 17. Sanctify them by thy Truth, thy Word is Truth. So Psal. 19. 8. The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the Soul. The Precepts of the Word are the Rules of a holy Life: And the Pro­mises of the Word are the most potent Arguments for, Motives and Encouragments to a holy Life. 2 Cor. 7. 1. Having therefore these Promises, (dearly beloved) let us cleanse our selves from all Filthiness, of the Flesh and Spirit, perfecting Holiness in the fear of the Lord. Faith laying hold on the Sufficiency and Faithfulness of God, as engaged in the Promises, will fetch into the Soul, more and more of the Fulness of Christ. For of his Fulness we receive, and Grace for Grace. John 1. 16.

[Page 4]3. Another Occasion of the decay of Godliness in the Power of it, is the neglect or prophane Observance of Gospel Ordinances. These are the Wells of Salvation: And such as would have the Waters of Grace and Sal­vation, must repair to, and draw out of these Wells, and that with Joy. Isa. 12. 3. When Fruit, Trees, Grass, or Grain, (as in a Time of great Drought) want Mois­ture at their Roots, they wither and fall under decay; so it is with Professors when the Dews and Rains of the Holy Spirit are withheld. Such as would flourish in Grace and Godliness, must wait under the Ordinan­ces, for the conveyance thereof from the Fountain to the Cistern thro' these Pipes. Isa. 40. last. They that wait on the Lord, shall renew their Strength, &c. Gospel Ordinances, and especially the Supper of the Lord, are shamefully neglected by multitudes, notwithstanding the plain and positive Command of our dying Saviour, Saying, This do in Remembrance of me. Others ('tis much to be feared) do venture without due Prepara­tion, without Examination, and with an unreconcilable Spirit: yea with reigning Malice, and secret Purposes of revenging Injuries, real or supposed, as they shall have Opportunity. The special Ordinances adminis­tred, as well as the Word preached, are a Sovour of Death unto Death, to the unqualified and unprepared, as they are a Savour of Life unto Life, to the penitent Believer. This should not affright Men from the Ordinances of the Gospel; but quicken them to and in the Work of Preparation, and oblige to engage therein, in the holy fear of God. Psal. 89. 7. God is greatly to be feared in the Assembly of his Saints: and to be had in Reverence of all them that are about Him.

4. Inobservance of God's Footsteps in the Course of his com­mon Providence, occasions the Decay of the Power of God­liness. Christians may have sweet Communion with [Page 5] God in his Providences, as well as in his Ordinances. There are therein such evident Manifestations of God's Dominion, Wisdom, Power, Holiness, Justice, Kindness and Faithfulness, as tends to draw forth holy Fear, Faith, Love, Hope, Submission, and Patience, fervent Prayer, and grateful Praises. Psal. 107. 43. Whoso is Wife, and will observe those Things, even they shall understand the Loving kindness of the Lord. But Infidelity, and Inobservance relating to Divine Providence, renders Persons as the Heath in the Desart; as, Jer. 17. 6. And shall not see when Good cometh.

5. Decays as to the Power of Godliness are brought on a Professing People, by their restraining Prayer before God; as the Phrase is, Job 15. 4. Prayer is to accompany the Word and Sacraments. The Promises are to be pleaded by Prayer. There is all the Grace, Mercy and Peace we want, in the Covenant, and in the great and precious Promises thereof: But we must wait up­on God by fervent and effectual Prayer, for the Com­munication of these to us, as our Case calls for. And we have Leave to come with an holy Boldness to the Throne of Grace, and may ask for Mercy, and find Help in every Time of Need. Such Christians must needs be under sad Decays, who restrain Prayer. We must pray with all Prayer in the Spirit: And when we know not how to order our Speech before God in Prayer, by reason of Darkness, the Spirit of Supplication will help our Infirmities. 'Tis a sad Sign, as well as Cause of the Decay of Piety, when Christians seldom Pray, or when they don't Pray in Prayer: when they don't offer up strong Cries and Tears: when they don't pray with Faith and Fervency. Such are the Prayers which prevail, and obtain the Blessing.

6. and lastly, When a professing People cast off Fear, 'tis a sad Occasion of the decay of Godliness in the [Page 6] Power of it; of which holy Job was accused, but falsly in the 15. Chap. v. 4. Such as perfect Holiness, 'tis in the Fear of God. 2 Cor. 7. 1. Such as make Progress in Holiness, they are careful to cleanse themselves from all Filthiness of Flesh and Spirit. Fear has a power­ful Influence to restrain corrupt Affections and Passi­ons; and preserve from Filthiness of Flesh and Spi­rit. Job. 41. 25. When he raiseth up himself, the migh­ty are afraid: by reason of breakings they purify them­selves. The Fear of the Lord is clean, Psal. 19. 9. The stout-hearted Jaylor could not forbear trembling at the Earthquake, and was deeply concerned, and sorely distressed about the State of his Soul, Acts, 16. 30. crying out to Paul and Silas, what shall I do to be saved? And terrifying Fear and Trembling did take hold of, and possess the Hearts of many stout-hearted Sinners, who were far from Righteousness, in the Time of the late Earthquakes: especially the first Night. Their Fear brought them to their Knees. How were the Places of publick Worship thronged! How many gave themselves to God, and his People by Covenant! Many were added to our Churches: all which evidence the Efficacy of Fear. Multitudes were apprehensive that the Day of Judgment was come. But alas! how sadly is that Scripture verified by Multitudes in the Land, Psal. 78. 34, 35, 36. Turn to the Place, Rea­der, and see if it be not thy Case. Thro' the Co­working of the Holy Spirit, there was a great and sa­ving Change wrought in Hundreds; yea according to a Judgment of Charity, on Thousands in the Land. Hope, and Fear, are the special Instruments the Holy Spirit uses in bringing Souls to God. What grea­ter Good can be hoped for than Heaven? What greater Evil can be feared than Hell? Hope is heartned up by the Consideration of the merciful Nature of [Page 7] God, his gracious Purposes, Promises, and Performances. And Fear is awakened by the Belief of God's Justice, Holiness and Power. It was the Psalmist's Prayer, Psal. 9. 20. Put them in Fear, O Lord, that the Nations may know that they are Men: That they are mortal, and accountable Creatures; that have precious and im­mortal Souls, capable of eternal Happiness in Heaven, and liable to eternal Misery in Hell. To have Fear awakened is of use for the worst of Men, to make them fly from the Wrath which pursues them. For Evil of Punishment pursues Sinners, and will certainly over­take them, if they don't speedily hide themselves un­der the Shadow of Christ's Wing. And Fear is of use to the best of Men, to breed Circumspection, and Caution. Christ taught his Disciples to Fear Him who is able to destroy both Soul and body in Hell, and not Man, who kills the body only. Presumption and carnal Security arise from our putting far from us the evil Day. And the bringing it near is wont to beget the greatest Solicitude what to do to be saved.

And for this end, I shall offer my Opinion, concern­ing the most amazing Event in the whole Course of Providence, from the Beginning to the End of the World. viz. the CONFLAGRATION, or Destruc­tion of the Earth, that now is by Fire, predicted most plainly, 2 Pet. 3. which being realized will excite Sin­ners and Saints. Saints, in the 11. v. Seeing then that all these Things shall be dissolved, what manner of Persons ought we to be, in all holy Conversation and Godliness. Sinners, v. 14. Seeing that we look for such Things, be di­ligint, that ye may be found of him in Peace.

As to the Season of this dreadful Event, as it has been generally received and declared, viz. immedi­ately after the final Judgment, I humbly dissent, and shall offer some Arguments against it; as,

[Page 8]1. If it be at this Season, when Saints are safely housed in Heaven, and Sinners closely imprisoned in Hell; I can't see how this Event should be so terrible, and amazing, or how the Apostle Peter could from this Consideration fetch forcible and perswasive Ar­guments, for Reconciliation to God, and excelling Holi­ness, as in the forecited Texts. What is there so ter­rifying in setting an old House on fire, when the In­habitants are far enough off, and out of all Danger.?

2. If this will be the Season, none will by the Confla­gration loose their natural Life. For there is no natu­ral Death, nor Resurrection from the dead after the Final Judgment. But I will advance several Arguments to prove that Millions of Lives will be lost at the Conflagration.

1. The World will be destroyed by Fire, in the same Sense that it was by Water, 2 Pet. 3. 6, 7. Whereby the World that then was, being overflowed with Water, perish­ed: But the Heavens and the Earth which are now, by the same Word are kept in Store, reserved unto Fire, a­gainst the Day of Judgment, and Perdition of Ungodly Men. That is against that Day, when the Holy God shall inflict a Punishment upon all ungodly Men, which shall be to their Perdition. We read, 2 Pet. 2. 5. Bringing in the Flood upon the World of the Ungodly. The ungodly World perished by Water; so they will by Fire. An Emblem thereof we had in the Destruc­tion of Sodom.

2. The Scripture speaks expresly to this Truth: as, Mal. 4. 1. For behold the Day cometh that shall burn as an Oven, and all the Proud, yea, and all that do wick­edly shall be stubble, and the Day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them nei­ther Root nor Branch. And they shall be burnt to Ashes, v. 3. The Means of their Perdition, shall be [Page 9] the Heavens and Earth all on a light Fire, Psal. 50. 3, 4. Of this most terrible Day speaks the Prophet Daniel, 12. Chap. 1. 6.

I apprehend the Season of this most awful Punish­ment will be, when Antichrist will receive its deadly Wound, its utter overthrow, and ruin; and before the happy State of the Church. As sure as Antichrist had its Rise, so sure will it have its Ruin. It shall be gra­dually consumed, and then at length utterly de­stroyed. Dan. 7. 26. 2 Thes. 2. 8. Some of the Thes­salonians were troubled, under Apprehensions that Christ's coming was very near, just at the Door, and was what they had reason to expect every Day. The Apostle undeceives them in the following Words; and tells them, that Antichrist must first have his Rise and Reign, and then CHRIST will destroy him by the Brightness of his coming. And altho' it is God's pleasure to secreet the particular Hour and Day of his coming, that his Church may be kept in a wakeful, watchful Posture, might shake off Security and Sloth, and be painful and prayerful, left Christ at his com­ing should find them in a sensual Frame, and idle; Luke 21. 32. Yet there are some Signs laid down in Mat. 24. and elsewhere, of his coming, and some Light given us to discern the advances of this great and terrible Day of the Lord. For the Space between the Rise and Ruin of Antichrist, is allowed by all to be Twelve Hundred and Sixty Years. Sometimes expres­sed more obscurely by Time, Times, and a half Time; as Dan. 7. 25. That is, Three Years and a half. Sometimes by Forty two Months. Sometimes by 1260 Days. As, Rev. 11. 2. 3. Prophetical Days. i. e. Years. Now if we can find out the Time when Antichrist Began, we may find out his End. We find in 2. Thes. who it was that let, or hindred the Rise of the Man of [Page 10] Sin; viz. the Romans Emperors. Therefore they can lett no longer than they reign. And as the Sagacious Mr. Joseph Mede observes, Augustulus the last Roman Emperor, was deposed in the Year of our Lord 476: add hereto, 1260, and the Sum Total is 1736. God has frowned upon the over curious Enquirers into these secret Things, by disappointing them; and so he may upon Mr. Mede. However if he err, he will not err alone; for many Divines fall in with him in this Opinion. All that I shall add is, the Expiration of the 1260 Years, viz. from the Rise, to the utter Ruin of Antichrist, must needs be near run out. And it seems very probable that the Time of the Ruin of Antichrist, will be the Season of the Destruction of the World that now is, by Fire. 2. Thes. 1. 8. 2 Thes. 2. 8. Immediately before this Day, all things will be as they were for many Generations past. So it was in Sodom: They had a fair Morning; the Sun arose and shone upon the Earth; nevertheless it was a dreadful Day to the Sodomites. Christ will come as a Thief. And when they say Peace and Safety, (in a way of self flattery) then sudden Destruction shall come upon them, as Travel up­on a Woman with Child, and they shall not escape. 'Tis probable that this dismal Dispensation will preceed the happy State of the Church. For we read, 2 Pet. 3. 13. Nevertheless we, according to his Promise, look for new Heavens, and a new Earth, wherein dwelleth Righte­ousness. Which Promise I apprehend to be the same with the Promises in the Old Testament, especially in Isaiah, concerning the abounding Light and Know­ledge, Grace and Peace, Prosperity and Safety of the Church of Christ on Earth; as, Isa. 11. 6. to the end. So Isa. 65th. from the 17 v. to the end. So Isa. 66. 22, 23.

O then! let the secure World, drowned in sensual Plea­sures, [Page 11] and sunk into a deep Sleep of carnal Security; that flatter themselves by saying, The evil Day is afar off; awake out of Sleep: And as you are hastening un­to the coming of the day of God; O! look out sharp for this dreadful Day, wherein the Heavens being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the Elements shall melt with servent Heat: the Earth also and the Works therein shall be burnt up. Give your selves no rest till you are found of God in Peace. O! what manner of Persons ought we to be in all holy Conversation and Godliness? Such as are found in their Sins on that Day, will cry to the Rocks and Mountains to fall upon them, and hide them from the Wrath of the lamb: For the Day of his Wrath is come. As, Rev. 6. The Generality of the Professing World will not take warning, as the Old World did not, Luke 17. 26, 27, 28. Luke 21. 35, 36. For as a Snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole Earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. The Old World had Warning an Hundred and twenty Years before the Flood came, and even seven Days be­fore the Flood; but they took no Notice of the one or others, and are said not to know of it, Mat. 24. 38, 39. For as in the Days that were before the Flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in Marriage, until the Day that Noah entred into the Ark, and knew not until the Flood came and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. Some will be heaping up Treasure for the last Days; as James 5. 3. to be burnt up: Others will burn in inordinate and unnatural Lusts, till the Flame catch hold of them, as in Sodom. Some of you may know some­thing of the Terrors of that Day, by your Horrors on that Night, when you felt the Shakes, and heard [Page 12] the Roars of the Earthquakes. But you will find a vast Difference between the meer seeming Appearance and the certain Reality of Christ's coming.

But what will become of the Godly in this dread­ful Day? I answer in the Words of the Holy Ghost, 2 Pet. 2. 9. The Lord knows how to deliver the Godly out of Temptation. He saved Noah, v. 5. and delivered just Lot. v. 7. He saved the pious and prayerful, when he destroyed Jerusalem. By the Wonder-working Pro­vidence of God, they had Liberty to go out of the Gates of Jerusalem, and by the same Divine Hand were guided to Pella, and there preserved. And in this Day, God will gather his Saints together, as Psal. 50. 4. He will make up his Jewels, Mal. 3. 17. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts. (That is, they that feared the Lord, v. 16.) In that Day when I make up my Jewels; and I will spare them as a Man spareth his Son that serveth him. There is a gracious Promise made by God to his People, Dan. 12. 1. And at that Time thy People shall be delivered. And as to the Man­ner of God's manifesting his Sufficiency, Faithfulness and Love to his People, it appears to be by taking them up to himself in the Air; as, 1 Thes. 4. 16. And at their Return they shall see with Hearts full of Wonder and Gratitude, the Difference made by God between the Righteous and the Wicked, as Mal. 3. 18. and shall tread on the Ashes of the wicked, as Mal. 4. 3. Wherefore comfort one another with these Words, 1 Thes. 4. 18.

Indeed Sinners in Sion may well be afraid, and Trem­bling take hold of Hypocrites, when God shall arise to judge the World; when the Earth shall tremble and totter; when the Air shall be filled with Flame and amazing Thunder; when the Frame of Nature shall be dissolved. And are there not Signs of the near [Page 13] Approach of this great and terrible Day, both in the Kingdom of Nature, and in the Kingdom of Grace?

1. In the Kingdom of Nature. Have there not been Earthquakes in divers Places? Have they not been multiplied beyond what any former Age hath expe­rienced? And altho' in our Land we have been thereby (thro' the tender Mercy of a gracious long-suffering God) more scared than hurt, yet other Pla­ces have been dreadfully dissolated thereby. Again, have there not been unusual Lightnings, so that the Heavens seemed to be in a Blaze? Hath there not been unusual Darkness at Times by Day, and at other Times surprizing Lights by Night? according to what is written, Luke 21. 11. And great Earthquakes shall be in divers Places, and Famines, and Pestilences, and fearful Sights and great Signs shall there be from Heaven.

2. In the Kingdom of Grace. Is there not abundance of Security and Sensuality in the visible Church? And don't the Wise, as well as the foolish Virgins be­gin to slumber and sleep? And at what a low Ebb is Religion in the Protestant and purest Churches? How unaccountable and amazing is it, that a Nation pri­viledged above any Nation under Heaven, (the Jewish Nation excepted) by being early converted to the Christian Faith, and early reformed from Antichristian Errors; and ever since singularly defended, and blessed by uncommon Measures of Gospel Light and Grace; That this Nation, thus distinguish'd, should become a Sink of filthy Lewdness and abominable Uncleanness! Yea, that the Sins of Sodom should be found in Her. And not only so, but Soul destructive Errors are pro­pagated and spreading there, as, Atheism, Deism, So­cinianism, and Arminianism! All which evidence the [Page 14] sad Decay of the Power of Godliness. Surely we may think that Satan's Time is but short, seeing he is come down in such Wrath, Rev. 12. 12. It is high Time for such as would not perish with the ungodly World, to have no farther Fellowship with them in their corrupt Principles and Practices, Lest they par­take of their Plagues. 2. Cor. 17. 18. Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean Thing; and I will receive you, and I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my Sons and Daughters, saith the Lord God Almighty.

Obj. What then, would you have us neglect and lay aside worldly Business? Ans. No, by no Means. My Desire is that you don't any longer neglect the important Affairs of your own and your Children's Souls. Neglect not Christ and Grace. Comparative­ly speaking, Labour not for the Meat which perisheth, but for that Meat which endureth to Everlasting Life. John 6. 27. Seek first the Kingdom of God, and the Righ­teousness thereof. Our Affections should be moderated towards worldly Possessions, and the Gratifications of the Senses. 1 Cor. 7. 29, 30, 31. But this I say Bre­thren, the Time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have Wives, be as tho' they had none; and they that weep as tho' they wept not; and they that Rejoyce, as tho' they rejoyced not; and they that buy as tho' they possessed not; and they that use this World as not abusing it: for the Fashion of this World passeth away. Phil. 4. 5. Let your Moderation be known unto all men; the Lord is at hand. See the Want and the Worth of a Saviour; and above all things, labour to know and win him, that you may at that great and terrible Day of the Lord, (which is very near) be found of him in Peace, without Spot and Blamless.

[Page 15]I come to the Third Thing, viz. to shew,

3. The METHODS to be taken to recover or mantain the Power of Godliness.

1. Magistrates would do well by good Laws to suppress such Customs and Usages of the Nations which tend to Las­civiousness, and carnal Security; and also to the utmost of their Power, to promote, establish and support Re­ligion, and encourage those that teach the good Know­ledge of the Lord.

2. Ministers would do well in Compassion to a perishing World, to use utmost Care, Diligence and Zeal in plucking Sinners out of the Burning. Jude 2. 23. Of some have Compassion, making a Difference; of others save with Fear, plucking them out of the Fire. Sound Doctrine is plain­ly and powerfully to be preached; and strict Disci­pline is impartially to be practiced.

3. Christians would do well to associate for religious Pur­poses. Prayer is a principal Exercise to maintain the Power of Godliness. Solitary, in the Closet; private, in the Family; and less Publick, in the private Assem­blies of the Saints. And doubtless, for every Christi­an to have an intimate Friend, to whom he may speak most freely, and upon Occasion unbosome himself un­to, it may be of Singular Use to maintain vital Reli­gion. Eccl. 4. 9. Two are better than one. v. 10. For if they fall, the one will lift up his Fellow; But wo to him that is alone when he falleth. They that fear the Lord, should often speak together; and declaring what God has done for their Souls, is a special Means to quick­en, encourage and comfort others. God observes and approves this Communication, Mal. 3. 16.

[Page 16]4. Parents may do much in maintaining the Power of Godliness; by being Exemplary themselves, and by giving a Religious Education to their Children, and to all under their Care.

Such young Persons as are brought up ignorantly, and in a disorderly Way, seldom prove well. Such as have an irreligious Education, commonly prove Plagues to the Towns, Families and Churches to which they belong. Such as are well taught, well governed, and the Subjects of many Prayers, are wont to prove great Blessings in their Generation.

To conclude this head, Let us all lament the De­cays of the Power of Godliness, and the principal Cause of it; the sorrowful withdrawing of the Spirit of all Grace. Let us welcome the inbreathings and outpowrings of the Holy Spirit. Let us cherish his Motions. Let us plead the Promises. Let us worthi­ly partake of Ordinances, and wisely observe Provi­dences, taking due Notice of the Footsteps thereof. Let us watch, and be sober. Let us avoid all Occasi­ons of, and the first Motions to Sin. Let us resist the Devil: Fear always: and Finally, Let us love and wait for the coming of the Lord. In a Word, let us submit to God's Dominion; depend upon his Suf­ficiency; take our full Contentment in his Goodness; and devote our selves unto his Service for ever.

II. It is a Matter of Lamentation, That some of Our Young Men, and such as are devoted to and edu­cated for, the Ministry of the Gospel, are under Preju­dices against, and fall off from, important Articles of the Faith of these Churches, and cast a favourable Eye upon, embrace, and as far as they dare, argue for, propagate, and preach the Arminian Scheme. There are [Page 17] many dark Clouds hang over New-England, and the Churches of Christ therein; but I apprehend this to be as dark and dismal as any. I am bold to say, that the Arminian Scheme is another Gospel, than what Christ and his Apostles did preach. And consequently the Propagators and Preachers thereof fall under the Curse pronounced by the Apostle Paul, when under the infallible Guidance and immediate Inspiration of the Holy Ghost; as Gal. 1. 8. But tho' we, or an Angel from Heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you, than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. And for the greater Solemnity, and to shew of what Importance it was, and that it might make a deep Impression on Men's Minds, he repeats it in the 9th. verse. And is it not a lamentable Thing for Men to bring them­selves and others under the fearful Curse of God? But I am apprised 'tis my Work to prove the Arminian Scheme or Principles are another Gospel than what Christ or his Apostles preached, or than is revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures.

For the Proof of the aforesaid Assertion, I shall ad­vance the following Arguments.

1. Arg. The Arminian Scheme vacates that Scrip­tural Distinction of the Will of God into secret and Revealed. We find this Distinction in Deut. 29. 29. The secret Things, viz. of God's Councils or Decrees be­long to God; but those things which are revealed, belong to us, and our Children for ever; that we may do all the Words of this Law. The Decree of God (say the Ar­minians) is God's Purpose to save such as believe, re­pent, and persevere therein to the End of Life; and also to Damn all such as persist in their Impenitency, and Unbelief unto Death. And is not this the reveal­ed Will of God? as in Mark 16. 16. He that believeth [Page 18] shall be saved; and he that believeth not shall be damned. There is a real Distinction between the secret, and the revealed Will of God.

The revealed Will of God shews what should be, what is Matter of Duty; the secret Will of God shews what shall be as to the Event. With respect to the se­cret Will of God, some are Vessels of Mercy, some of Wrath; Some are chosen to Salvation, others are left. Yea, appointed to Wrath, as, 1 Thes. 5. 9. For God hath not appointed us to Wrath, but to obtain Salvation thro' our Lord Jesus Christ. We may well with the Apostle Paul cry out, O the depth! These are Acts of Sove­reignty, beyond our Comprehension. And all the Ac­count God is pleased to give to us for the present of this tremendous Affair is, because 'tis the good pleasure of his Will. Eph. 1. 5.

2. Arg. According to the Arminian Scheme, Faith is the Cause, at least the Antecedent of Election; where­as according to the Gospel, 'tis the Effect or Fruit. For this is their Opinion, that such as believe, and per­severe in Faith and Obedience, are elected to Salva­tion, which may rather be called Postdestination than Predestination. For say they, as in the New Body of Divinity concerning God's Decrees, it being much more equitable, that God defers making any fix'd De­cree, concerning particular Men, until he sees the Thread of their Lives, either in a course of Obedience or Disobedience, quite run out. This Book rather de­serves the Title of a Bundle of Errors, than of a Body of Divinity: for the Principles therein contained, derive not their Original from the BIBLE, but from Arminius. And if we observe what Authors this is an extract from, it gives Occasion to remember those Words of Christ, Mat. 11, 25. At that time Jesus answered and said, I [Page 19] thank thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, because thou hast bid these Things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto Babes. So 1 Cor. 2. 26, 27, 28, 29. For ye see your Calling, Brethren, how that not Many wise Men after the Flesh, not many mighty, not many no­ble are called. But God hath chosen the foolish Things of the World to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak Things of the World to confound the Things that are mighty; and base Things of the World, and Things that are despised, &c. that no Flesh should Glory in his Pre­sence.

But to return to the Argument: Instead of God's working all things according to the Counsel of his own Will, these Men (left God's Decrees or Prescience, should incroach upon, or abridge Man's free will) as­sert He must wait until Man has quite run out the Thread of Life, in a Course of Obedience or Disobe­dience; and then He may have their good Leave to fix their State by a certain Decree. How preposterous and absurd is this, to make the First Cause to wait upon the Second; the Will of God, subservient to the Will of Man? And how contrary to the Scrip­ture, which asserts, as Rom. 9. 11. For the Children being not yet born, neither having done Good nor Evil, that the Purpose of God according to Election might stand; not of Works, but of him that calleth, v. 13. as it is writ­ten, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. And by this Means they make the Decree, and the Execu­tion of it contemporary. But on the contrary, the Scripture asserts, that Faith is the Effect of Election. Sinners are drawn to Christ in a way of believing, by the Cords of electing and everlasting Love, Hos. 11. 4. My Sheep (saith Christ) hear my Voice. So Act. 13. 48. As many as were ordained to everlasting Life, believ­ed. There is more than a Moral Swasion required in [Page 20] order to Faith. Almighty Power must be put forth, as Eph. 1. 18. viz. The same Power that raised Christ from the dead. A creating and quickening Power. It is by the Efficacy and Causality of the Holy Spirit to Regenerate, renew, and enable to believe. Christ is said to be the Author and Finisher of Faith, Heb. 12. 2. 'Tis God that worketh in us both to Will, and to Do, according to his good pleasure. And 'tis a day of God's Power, when of unwilling any Soul is made willing, Psal. 110. 2. And who are they that are thus wrought upon? We are told, Rom. 8. 30. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them he also called, &c.

3. Arg. The Arminians Originate the Salvation of such as are saved, in the free Motion, Option, and Determination of their own Wills. But the Scripture declares quite the contrary. Such as are effectually called, 'tis according to God's Purpose, Rom. 8. 25. So Rom. 9. 15, 16. I will have Mercy on whom I will have Mercy: And I will have Compassion on whom I will have Compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, or of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth Mercy.

4. Arg. The Arminian Scheme cannot be according to the Scripture; for this is one Principle of it; That Christ has by his Mediation and Merits, restored fal­len Man to a Capacity of obtaining Eternal Life, by the well and wise Improvement of the Stock, by this Means, put into his Hands. And so Christ merited, that we might merit. It is not consistent with Divine Wisdom, to entrust sinful, fallen Man, with a Stock, the well or ill Improvement thereof, was of such Im­portance, both with respect to God's Glory, and Man's Happiness, after he proved Man in the State of Inno­cency and Perfection, and found him false and unable [Page 21] to stand. God did not put any Confidence in Man, in his best estate; therefore, from all Eternity, he made Provision for the worst; laid in the Covenant of Re­demption, a firm Foundation for the Salvation of his Elect. And the Foundation of God stands sure; the Lord knows who are his. And will God put any trust in Man fallen? No; If he enters into a second Covenant, 'tis in and by a Surety, even Jesus Christ, who is a Surety of a better Testament, Heb. 7. 22. Who among Men will take the Bond of a poor and insolvent Person, unless he has a Bondsman? And is Man wiser than God? Is it consistent with God's Wisdom, to leave it in the Power of Man, to frustrate all God's gracious Intentions, and Methods for Man's Salvation? Yea, and the Death of Christ to be in vain?

5. Arg. The Arminian Scheme is inconsistent with God's great End of saving Sinners by Jesus Christ. viz. the Glory of God's sovereign, free, rich Grace. This is God's professed and ultimate End and Aim; as, Eph. 1. 5, 6. Having predestinated us unto the Adop­tion of Children, by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his Will; to the Praise of the Glory of his Grace. So v. 11, 12. In whom we have obtained an Inheritance, being predestinated, according to the Purpose of him who worketh all things according to the Counsel of his own Will: that we should be to the praise of his Glory, who first trusted in Christ. Arminians take from free Grace, and give to free Will. For what End think you, did God permit Man to fall? but because it gave Occa­sion for the Exercise and Manifestation of the Riches of his Grace and Mercy, in saving him by Jesus Christ.

6. Arg. This Way of Salvation opens a Door un­to, [Page 22] and gives Occasion for, boasting: But the Gospel way of a Sinner's Salvation excludes boasting. Rom. 3. 27. Where is boasting then? it is excluded. By what Law? Of Works? nay, but by the Law of Faith. Ac­cording to this impleaded Scheme, Judas is as much beholden to God, as Peter; And all the Reason that Peter is saved, and Judas is damned, is because he wise­ly improved his free Will, and other Abilities; and Judas did ill improve the same.

7. Arg. The Arminian Scheme takes from our justi­fying and saving Faith, an essential Part of it, viz. our resting and trusting in Christ for Salvation. Now this is essential to Faith; for Faith is many times de­scribed, by trusting in Christ; as, Eph. 1. 12, 13. and elsewhere. But according to them, Faith is only such an Assent to Gospel Truths, as is productive of obedi­ence to the Rules of the Gospel. Besides, according to their Principles, Christ has set them upon their Legs; and they must shift for themselves: He has put them into a Capacity, (to good purpose) to deal with God for eternal Life.

8. Arg. According to the Arminian Scheme, there is no need of a work of Regeneration, or passive Conver­sion. For all Men are made alive by Christ: and all that they need, is the well improvement of free Will, and self Sufficiency. But Christ teaches an absolute ne­cessity of a Work of Regeneration, John 3. 3. which has various Denominations in Scripture; as the Law written in the Heart, the circumcision of the Heart, a Heart of Flesh, a new Creature, the Divine Nature, the Image of God, a Well of Water, Grace, &c. And without this, the Heart will never be right with God; neither will there be more than the Form of Godliness, nothing [Page 23] of the Power. We may as well act Rationally, without a Rational Soul, as exercise Grace without a Supernatu­ral Principle of Grace.

9. Arg. According to Arminian Principles we are justified by our Gospel Obedience, and inherent Righte­ousness; not by the Righteousness of Christ imputed by God, and received by Faith, according to the Gos­pel. Phil. 3. 8, 9. Yea, doubtless, I count all things but less, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. And I do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own Righ­teousness which is of the Law; but that which is thro' the Faith of Christ, the Righteousness which is of God by Faith. So Tit. 3. 15. Not by works of Righteousness which we have done; but according to his Mercy be saved us; by the washing of Regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

10. Arg. According to this Scheme, there is no As­surance of Eternal Salvation in this Life. But Christi­ans may have Assurance long before they die. As, 2. Cor. 5. 1. Eph. 2. 20. Why else are we commanded to make our Calling and Election sure? as, 1. Pet. 1. 10. Christians in all Generations can give in their Testimony to this Truth, from their certain, and sweet Experience. There is the Joy of Faith, and the Joy of Salvation, which may be lost for a Time. Hence David prayeth, as Psal. 51. that it may be restored. Whence else flows that strong Consolation spoken of, Heb. 6. 17. which the Heirs of the Promises are made to partake of?

11. Arg. According to Arminian Princpiles, such as are in a State of Grace may fall from it, and that to­tally, and finally. But this is not according to the [Page 24] Scripture. Gal. 1. 6. Being confident of this very thing, that he that has begun a good Work in you, will perfect it to the Day of the Lord. These saving Gifts to his cal­led ones, are without Repentance. The certain Per­severance of Saints in Grace to Glory, is secured by that Golden Chain, Rom. 8. 29, 30. Whom he, &c. This sweet Truth is built upon a sure Foundation as the Immutability of the Divine Purpose; the Infallibi­lity of the Divine Promises; the inseperable Union of Believers to Christ; the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in every gracious Person. They know God and Christ too well Voluntarily to forsake him; for the fear of God is in their Hearts. Christ their Surety, undertakes that none shall pluck them out of his Hands. There­fore the Holy Apostle triumphs, as Rom. 8. 33. Who shall be able to separate us from the Love of God? &c. So Heb. 6. 17.

12. Arg. The Arminian Scheme makes the way of Salvation so plain and easy, that the Natural Man seeth his Way plain before him: 'Tis only assenting to Gospel Truths, and setting themselves to obey the Precepts, and imitate the Examples of the Gospel. Yea, the Way is so plain, that the Heathen by a well improvement of the Light of Nature, will not fail of Heaven. And is this the straight Gate and narrow Way that we must strive to enter in? And are not the Righteous scarcely saved? And are not the saved of the Lord few, a Remnant, and that according to the Election of Grace? According to these Men, we have no need to have one solicitous Thought, whether we are elected, or whether we are regenerated, or have Union to Christ, or whether the Holy Spirit dwells in us. The Gospel way of Salvation is full of Myste­ries. We read, Rom. 16. 25. of the Revelation of [Page 25] the Mystery. So Eph. 1. 9. Having made known to us the Mysterty of his Will. The way of Salvation by Faith, is above the Natural Man to understand it; as it is above his Ability to comply with the Terms of it. 'Tis supernatural, 1 Cor. 2. 14. The natural Man receiveth not the Things of the Spirit of God: for they are Foolishness to him; neither can be know them, because they are spiritually discerned. And to make the way of Salvation so wide as that the Heathen can walk in it, is contrary to what Christ has taught us, Mat. 7. 13, 14. And contrary to what is written Rom. 10. 14. How then shall they call on him on whom they have not be­lieved? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a Preach­er? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? And, how can they be saved, unless they call upon him? as v. 13. They are without God, without Christ, without Covenant, and consequently without Hope. For where there is no Vision, the People perish.

13. Arg. The Arminian Scheme is very grateful and agreable to the Sentiments of Men in their natural State. They imbibe Opinions with great Pleasure; and therefore they are not agreable to the Gospel. The Gospel Way of a Sinner's Salvation is what the natural Man is prejudiced against, and averse unto; for it is Supernatural, it is above Humane Nature, and contrary to corrupt Nature, Rom. 8. 7. The car­nal Mind is Enmity against God; for it it not subject to his Law, viz. the Law of Faith, neither indeed can be. There is as great an Aversion in the natural carnal Mind to Gospel Truths, as there is in the carnal Will to Gosepl Rules. I proceed,

2. To enquire into the MEANS leading towards [Page 26] Arminianism: And I apprehend it to be thus; Our young Men are apt to look upon old Books, as Men do upon old Houses, to be of little Worth; because not built according to the new Mode. And hearing some late Authors highly commended by those that are corrupted by them: and these corrupt Books be­ing very agreeable to a nice Taste, as to their Lan­guage, and as agreeable as to the Matter, suiting their Proud and self conceited Hearts, by exalting and ex­tolling free Will, and self Sufficiency: They presently and greedily suck in those Opinions, and never per­use our professed Principles impartially and without Prejudice, and are ready to reject them before they understand them. And these accursed, poisonous and Soul damning Principles being wrap'd up in sweet Language, are swallowed down and retained. I come

3. To direct to the METHODS to save some from these destructive Paths, and to recover others out of them.

1. In the first Place, being fairly possessed of the Principles of Faith, professed by these Churches, I think you are bound to examine them strictly and impartially, and see whether they be not agreeable to the Holy Scriptures, (which are the professed Rule of the Faith as well as the Manners of all Protestants) If they be not deduced from, and agreeable to, the Scriptures, you may warrantably reject them, tho' professed by your Fathers. For I acknowledge we are to call no Man, or Number of Men Father, or Master, so as to pin our Faith upon their Sleeve. But if they are built upon the Holy Scripture, we must believe, profess, and hold them fast at our Peril. Yea, 'tis our Duty to content earnestly for the Faith.

[Page 27]2. Compare the Professed Faith of these Churches, with the Faith of Protestant Reformed Churches abroad, and if agreeable to the Faith of the purest and holiest Churches, we should be very slow in rejecting them; or rather should hold them fast. For there is but one Faith, Eph. 4. 5.

3. Observe what are the Fruits and Effects of Preach­ing Arminian Doctrines in Holland and Great Britain. Is God wont to pour down his Spirit with such Preach­ing? I thing it has brought Religion (as to the Pow­er of it) to a very low Ebb. And good reason for it; for can we rationally suppose that the Holy Spirit, (who alone it is that gives converting and saving Ef­ficacy to the Word preached) will co-work with Er­rors? by no means: 'tis the Word of Truth that he joyns in with: The Law of the Lord is perfect, convert­ing the Soul, Psal. 19. Faith comes by hearing, and hear­ing is by the Word of God preached.

4. Consider seriously of what is written 2 Thes. 2. 10, 11, 12. Because they received not the love of the Truth, that they might be saved. And for this Cause God shall send them strong Delusion, that they should believe a lie, and that they might be damned, who believe not the Truth.

My Dear Brethren! give me leave to address you with Warmth. Is it not a fearful Thing to be under Darkness and Delusion, in an Affair wherein your Souls and their eternal Felicity are so nearly concern­ed? O how sad is it to be misguided, and to go to Hell, under strong Confidence of going to Heaven! To be misled and wander in the Dark till you fall suddenly into the Ditch of Hell; and not only destroy [Page 28] your selves, but to manage so as that it may be truly said of you, the blind lead the blind, and they both fall in­to the Ditch. You had better be Porters, yea Chim­ney Sweepers all your Days, than to have scores and hundreds of damned Wretches cursing you bitterly in Hell, for guiding them into the wrong way. You may be confident that your Opinions are right; as the Jews were, that Christ was an Impostor, and not the promised Messiah; For had they known, they would not have Crucified the Lord of Glory. Yet 'tis with you as it was with them, they did not know that they were right. But the Disciples were able to say as in John 6. 69. And we believe and are sure, that thou art Christ the Son of the Living God. So you may have a strong Confidence of Arminian Principles, that they are Sound; but true Believers are able with boldness to say, with the Disciples, we believe and are sure, they are corrupt and poisonous Principles. I am able to say, as one said when disputing with Quakers, I was a Quaker before I was a Christian: so I was an Arminian before I was a Christian. But God of his infinite Mer­cy has brought me off from that unsafe and false Way. And I can be positive in this Thing, that if I had an hundred times as much Grace as I have, and were set by God in the State and Circumstances as Arminians are (according to their Principles) set, and there left, I should be as surely damned, as I am now alive. For Corruption in the best is stronger than Grace: And are there not Snares laid for our Souls almost every Step we take? And have we not to engage with the Old Serpent, the roaring Lyon, the Malignant Dra­gon? were not David, and Solomon, and Peter, fearful­ly foiled in the Days of their Temptation? Our Strength is so weak, our Enemies are so many, so mighty, so crafty; that we have need to watch, [Page 29] and be sober, to be circumspect, and stedfast, to fight and Pray that we be not led into Temptation, and overcome by Temptations. And if the strongest are left of God, to the Power of Temptation, it will be an evil Day with them. Our Security is in having the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, and by his powerful Aids and In­fluences, to strengthen to Duty, and against Sin; and in having Christ our Surety and Intercessor, who alone can recover us in a way of bitter Repentance, and hum­ble Reliance on him, when fallen; and He alone can keep us from falling: for we are preserved in Christ Je­sus, Jude 1. And we are kept by the mighty Power of God, thro' Faith, unto Salvation, as in 1 Pet. 1. 4.

5. and lastly, Labour to know your Hearts, and State; and don't rest 'till you have experienced a thorow Work of Conversion or Regeneration. To be thorowly convinced of Sin and Misery, and deeply humbled under the Sight and Sense of it, and really regenerated, is the most effectual Security against cor­rupt Principles or Practices; and especially against Ar­minianism; for 'tis Pride that prompts thereto. Christians see that in their own Hearts, that Pride, Baseness, and Falseness, that will effectually preserve them from these Presumptions, and carnal Confidences. Men may go far in a Civil, Moral Way in practicing the Externals of Religion: They may have strong Confidences of their good Estate: They may advance far in Humane Learning, and yet be Strangers to Re­generation: Witness that great and good Man Dr. Frank; an account hereof we have of his own draw­ing up, and it has been lately published among us; when about twenty four Years old, he experienced a sound Work of Conversion; and was eminent as for Learning, so especially for Faith, Holiness, and Charity [Page 30] to the Death. I will conclude by leaving one Thing more for your Consideration, viz. Faith objectively, as well as subjectively considered, by how much the more it has been tried, by so much the more gracious it is, according to what you find in 1 Pet. 1. 7. That the trial of your Faith being much more precious than Gold that perisheth, &c. Now the Faith I am pleading for, has been tried, in ten thousand Instances; and it has endured the Fire of Martyrdom. i. e. such have who professed it. But I never understood that any have suffered Martyrdom for the Arminian Faith. Will you then renounce a Faith that has been tried to the quick, to embrace a Faith that never was tried? Far be it from you.

III. I come to the Third and last Instance I shall give as Matter of Lamentation, and that is, The present weak and shattered State of Our Churches, on the account of their Order, Government, and Disci­pline.

This is evident to every Person of Observation. Hence Particular Churches run into Confusion. Ma­ny are aggrieved, and abide Year after Year in their sorrowful Circumstances. And a farther Evidence thereof, is the Ineffectualness of Councils to relieve the aggrieved, and to make Peace. As also Anti-Councils, whereby contrary Results are given on the same Case, to the great Reproach of Councils, and Blemish of Our Church Government, and discouragement of the aggriev­ed, who are ready to lie under their Troubles as Re­mediless. Hence it is that some Councils have per­swaded the Church and aggrieved, to promise to acqui­esce in the determination of the Council, before they heard the Case, by which their Consciences have been ensnared, and the Council turned into a Solemn Ar­bitration. [Page 31] This therefore is Matter of just Lamenta­tion.

I come to enquire,

2. Into the MEANS which have brought us under these Lamentable Circumstances. In a Word, 'tis our being prejudiced against, and not attending to the Rules and Principles of a Congregational Church, as laid down in our Platform: To go from the Rule is Arbitrary; and to go against professed Principles, making our Wills the Rule, is Tyranny. And when a People fair­ly possessed of Liberties and Priviledges, are thus dealt with, this leads directly to Contention and Confusion.

1. These Churches have not attended the Rule, as to the compleat Organization of Churches. 'Tis the Priviledge of a Church to chuse its own Officers; as, Plat. Chap. 10. Sec. 5. viz. the Power granted by Christ unto the Body of the Church and Brotherhood, is a Prerogative and Priviledge which the Church ex­erciseth,

1. In chusing their own Officers, whether Elders or Deacons, &c. So Chap. 6. Sec. 4. Of Elders some at­tend chiefly to the Ministry of the Word, as Pastors and Teachers; some attend especially unto Rule, who are therefore called Ruling-Elders. Now the want of these Officers, exposes Churches to Arbitrariness, Contentions and Confusions. As also it renders the Government of the Church, in some Cases impractica­ble. An Instance of all these great Inconveniences, we have lately had in a Neighbour Church, where all possible Endeavours have been used by the aggriev­ed, (a very great and valuable Part of the Church) to have a Church-Meeting, and when there was great Occasion for it; and yet it could not be obtained: [Page 32] They had not a Church-Meeting for about fourteen Years: Whereas if they had been furnished with a full supply of Officers, they might have easily obtained it, and by that Means put an end to a long and very threatning Contention. Besides had the Pastor called the Church together at their request, there being but one Elder, viz. a Teaching one, and He the Party of­fending, it was not possible according to Congregatio­nal Principles, to have proceeded to Judge and Censure therefor. For Ministers are under no Ecclesiastick Go­vernment but in the Church, where they are Members as well as Ministers. Now 'tis a Rule in the Congre­gational Government, as in Plat. Chap. 10. Sec. II. no Church Act can be consummated or perfected, with­out the consent of both; that is, the Eldership and Brethren. Now 'tis not at all proper, that an accu­sed and faulty Elder should be a Judge in his own Case; therefore when He is the peccant Party, and no Rul­ing-Elders to joyn the Brethren in an Act of Discipline and Censure, there cannot be a valid Act. And so it is also when a Minister is the Accuser. Thus by the neglect of Ruling Elders (so necessary in our Con­stitution) the Government is rendered weak; yea, in some Cases impracticable. Therefore it was that when the Synod convened, Oct. 15. 1679. to enquire what wanted Reformation in the Land, and to propose Expedients therefor, in the 5th Place they say, ‘'Tis requisite that utmost Endeavours should be used, in order for a full supply of Officers in the Churches, ac­cording to Christ's Institution; the defect of these Churches on this Account is very Lamentable, there being in most of the Churches only one teaching Of­ficer for the Burthen of the whole Church to lie up­on. The Lord Christ would not have instituted Pas­tors, Teachers, Ruling Elders, (nor the Apostles ordained [Page 33] Elders in every Church), Acts 14. 23. Tit. 1. 5. if he had not seen there was need of them for the good of his People; therefore for Men to think they can do well enough without them, is both to break the second Commandment, and to reflect upon the Wisdom of Christ, as if he did appoint unnecessary Officers in his Church. Experience hath evinced, that personal Instruction and Discipline have been happy Means to reform degenerate Congregations; yea, and owned by the Lord for the Conversion of many Souls. But where there are great Congrega­tions it is impossible for one Man besides his Publick Labours, fully to attend these other Things of great Importance, and necessary to be done, in order to an effectual Reformation of Families and Congregati­ons.’ Thus the Synod.

2. Again, these Churches have reduced their Church State to great Darkness, by not attending the Rule of Our Constitution in Councils. It has been the Practice of Councils convened according to the second way of Communion in Our Platform, who are only to hold forth Light, and give Advice, to usurp the Power of Judgment in Matters of Fact, as also the Power of Admonition, in case of Offence. Which to do is proper to the third way of Communion; and supposes that a Church wants Correction for an Of­fence, and not meerly Light and Counsel. And by this Means the 3d way of Communion has been shut out, and not practiced. This thing I am bold to say, has been the Occasion of all our Anti-Councils, as well as the Occasion of the Contentions and Confusi­ons Churches have been left in, after all Endeavours used by neighbour Churches, by way of Councils.

[Page 34]3. I come to the last Thing, and that is, to the METHOD of our Relief.

1. Let Our Churches be advised to get compleatly furnished with Church-Officers according to the Plat­form. By this Time I hope ye see the necessity of it. Arise, for this Matter belongs to you; and 'tis just Matter of Offence if you neglect it any longer.

Remember, it is necessary in a Congregational Church: And the Ministers and Members of these Churches would do well to get reconciled to every Part, and Branch of the Constitution. Prejudices a­gainst, Aversions and Disaffections to the same, have greatly threatned the utter Dissolation of these Churches. Our Government is firm and strong; but if such as should keep it in good repair, do weaken it, it is in danger of falling to pieces. A Brick House (be it never so firm) if every Tenant takes out a Brick, in Time it will be weak, and shatter to pieces.

1. Obj. Our Reverend Pastors are against it, and think, that the Office is not of Divine Right.

Ans. 1. Ministers should reconcile themselves to the Congregational Government, before they accept of the Pastoral Office in such a Church.

2. There are three Scriptures which may satisfy the dissatisfied, as to the Divine Right of Ruling El­ders; as Rom. 12. 8. 1 Tim. 5. 17. 1 Cor. 12. 28. God has set in his Church, Governments. These are Church Governours and distinct from Teachers; who else can they be but Ruling Elders? Let such as have any con­sciencious Scruples in this Affair, weigh in the Ballance [Page 35] of the Sanctuary, the Arguments brought for the Di­vine Right of Ruling Elders, in a Book entitled Jus Divinum Regiminis Ecclesiastici; as also a Sheet not long since published, entitled, The Divine Right of Ruling Elders; as also, a Rational and nervous Let­ter lately published on this Argument. Enough is said in these to satisfy an unprejudiced Mind as to their Divine Right.

3. 'Tis the Right and Priviledge of the Brethren to chuse their Officers; and therefore if they be clear in the Matter, they should not be discouraged or ob­structed in the use of their just Liberties.

4. If the Reverend Pastors will be so Arbitrary, as utterly to refuse to call the Church together to chuse these Officers; I suppose the Church may look upon themselves in that Case, and so far, to be without a Ruler; and may convene for this Purpose, as when they have no Minister, to chuse one. It must be a great abuse of a Minister's Power, to obstruct the Church in the Exercise of that Power or Priviledge Christ has given them, for the preservation of their Peace and Purity. Englishment can't patiently submit to arbitrary Measures. Two Kings within our Memo­ry, have smarted for attempting it. One lost his Head, the other his Empire. And will English Chris­tians tamely submit thereto? Can they be easy, when those who by Divine Appointment are to Minister to them for their Spiritual Edification, Lord it over them who are God's Heritage? 'Tis unreasonable for any to desire or expect it, and base for Christians to submit to it.

Obj. 2. We would proceed to chuse Ruling Elders, if there were any Men in the Church fit for it.

Ans. 'Tis God's Work to fit Men for Offices in Church or State. 'Tis your Duty to chuse such as are [Page 36] best qualified, and depend upon God farther and more fully to fit them. I remember as Introductory to our Election of Ruling Elders, towards Thirty Years ago, I preached from those Words, Num. 11. 25. And the Lord came down in a Cloud, and spake unto him, that is to Moses, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and gave it to the Seventy Elders. There is the residue of the Spirit to furnish for every Office of Trust to which one and another is chosen. And in that the getting Ruling Elders was opposed by many in Town and Church, I preached another Sermon from those Words in 2 Tim. 2. 25. In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves. Reformations are commonly attended with great Oppositions. Lay aside then I pray, your objecting, and attend your Duty.

II. Let Discipline be prudently, strictly, and impar­tially exercised in particular Churches. Negligence and Partiality herein is very hurtful to the Peace, Pu­rity, and growth of Churches.

III. Let Councils move in their proper Sphere: let them act agreeable to their Nature, and the Rules laid down in the Platform. Let such as are called to give Advice, and to hold forth Light, do that, and proceed no farther.

IV. Come into the Practice of the Third way of Communion, as laid down in the Platform. When a Church is rent with Division among themselves, and lie under any open Scandal, and yet refuse to consult with other Churches for healing and removing the same, this is Matter of Offence; and the aggrieved making a Complaint hereof to a Particular Church, this Church is in a Christian Manner to make Enquiry, and demand an Account of the other Church, in order to their Conviction and Admonition, if faulty, as in Plat. Chap. 15, or in order to their Vindication, if [Page 37] Innocent. There has been in Times past, great Op­position to the Practice of this Rule. But the late ve­nerable Council held at Salem, saw Cause to counte­nance the Practice of that way of the Communion of Churches, and advised the aggrieved there, in case they receive not speedy Satisfaction from the Reve­rend Pastor pursuant to the Result and Advice of safe Council, to apply to a particular Church in the Neigh­bourhood, as directly in the Third way of Commu­nion. Which Thing I humbly apprehend will prove of greater Service toward the establishing these Church­es, than any Thing done for Scores of Years. For,

1. 'Tis that Rule, and the wise practicing it, that wipes off the Reproach of Independency from Congre­gational Churches. They are unaccountable, unless in this way.

2. 'Tis this Rule that preserves Churches pure in their Communion one with another. For if a Church gives Offence, and continues Obstinate in any sinful way, and other Churches continue to hold Commu­nion with such disorderly Church, and don't Commu­nion with such disorderly Church, and don't use all possible Means to reclaim her, they are Partakers of their Sin. But there is no other regular way to en­quire into her Administrations, to convince her, and admonish her, and separate her from their Communi­on, but this. Altho' one Church has not Authority over another, yet Churches have power to preserve their Purity, and to put a Church obstinately Offend­ing out of their Communion; or else they must hold Fellowship with her in a sinful way.

3. This Rule is necessary to the Peace of particu­lar Churches, as it will effectually relieve Persons ag­grieved. There can't much Peace be expected where a great part of a Church, are gauled by Arbitrary Measures. But in this way they must give Satisfac­tion, [Page 38] or sustain the Sentence of Non-Communion. And this opens a Door for all aggrieved ones to resettle in an orderly way, in stated Fellowship in some neigh­bour Church, as tho' they had been dismissed. 4. This Rule doth effectually hinder Anti-Councils, or having Councils against Councils; of which there have been too many Instances, to the great Reproach and Con­fusion of these Churches. For if aggrieved Persons are allowed to call Councils, the Church has Power and Liberty to call them; and by this Means, Anti-Coun­cils come upon the Stage. But if the aggrieved make Complaint to a Particular Church, there is no possibili­ty of Anti-Councils. 'Tis therefore much to be won­dered at, that such mighty Opposition has been made against introducing this Rule into Practice in these Churches. And 'tis matter of Thankfulness that the way is prepared by the foresaid Council at Salem, for the Practice thereof.

Obj. It may be objected, This Rule was not put in Practice in the early Days of these Churches.

Ans. 1. Our Fathers were but Men, and had their Defects. Hence tho' they in the Synod declared so fully for the full supply of Officers in the Church; and this result of the Synod was approved by the Ge­neral Court, recommending the same to the serious Consideration of all the Churches; yet how shamefully was this Expedient for Reformation disregarded by most of our Churches!

2. I suppose the true Reason why the 3d way of Communion was not practiced in our early Days, was because then there was no Occasion for it. Churches were more tender, and willing to receive Light, when offered by Councils called in the Second way of Com­munion: And when it is thus, there is no Room for the Practice of this Rule.

[Page 39]I shall add the following moving Considerations.

1. Our Church Government is too good to be thrown away. I am perswaded 'tis nearer the Scrip­ture, and better warranted and supported by it, than any Church Government in the World. As to the Church of England, there is no Scripture Foundation for their Hierarchy, as Arch-Bishops, Lord-Bishops, Arch-Deacons, Officials, Chancellors, &c. Of late, by one and another Masterly Hand, the following Truth has been set in so clear a Light, that none but the wilfully Ignorant can resist it, viz. That the Scripture Bishop, is no other than the Pastor of a Particular Church. And it is an Innovation and Usurpation, that they are dignified as they are in the Church of England. Be­sides, to take out of the Hands of the Presbyters or Pastors, all Rule in the Church, is unscriptural: for what is more plain, than that they who Watch for Souls, are to Rule over them also? as, Heb. 13. 17. Their taking away from Churches the Liberty of chu­sing their own Officers, is an intollerable Invasion of the Right of Churches, as well as their introducing many unscriptural Ceremonies into Divine Worship.

Again, the Presbyterian Government, I grant, has been accompained with eminent Holiness; as Wit­ness the Church of Scotland, Geneva, and many o­ther Reformed Churches. And I acknowledge there is but little Difference between them and us; espe­cially, if we have Ruling Elders, and practice the Third way of Communion. Yet wherein we differ, I am humbly of Opinion we have the Scripture on Our Side. Let any if they can, give a genuine Inter­pretation of the 1 Cor. 5. Chap. and exclude the Brethren from having any Hand in Church Discipline and Censures. Besides what is written, Mat. 18. Tell it to the Church; that is, say they, to the Ministers. [Page 40] This is to put the Scripture upon the Rack, to make it speak what we would have it. Let us then be thankful for our Constitution; strictly adhere to, and Practice it.

2. Our Church Government, if strictly adhered to, will effectually answer all the Intentions of Go­vernment. There is no Member in a Church, no Church in the whole Consociation of Churches, tho' never so stubborn and obstinate, but must sub­mit, or sustain the dreadful Sentence of Non-Com­munion.

I shall conclude the whole with a few Words of Advice, or Counsel.

1. Let us be very thankful to God, who has hi­therto secured for us Our Civil and sacred Priviledges, notwithstanding our great Barrenness and Un­profitableness; yea, and our many and great Pro­vocations. God is slow unto Anger, and abundant in Goodness and Kindness. We have for an Hundred Years enjoyed the Dispensation of the Glorious Gos­pel, in its Power and Purity, and free from Per­secution. What could God have done for this his Vineyard, which he has not done, in order to our Fruitfulness?

2. Let us be warned against withdrawing from the Fellowship of these Churches, until we find more pure Churches and Worship; and of a more Scriptural Faith and Order. For any to break with, and break off from these Churches, because their stubborn Wills will not submit to the just and regular Censures of the Church to which they belong; or because they can't have their Will, as to the Place of their Wor­ship; these deserve the Character of Heady and High­minded. And if their unreasonable Desires are re­strained by the Civil Government, then they will turn [Page 41] Church-Men. Surely such Church-Men are guilty of Will-Worship with a Witness. These Converts are worthy to be called Children of Belial, who rise up against Lawful Authority, and take Sanctuary in the Church. The Church of England doth too much Ho­nour our Churches, when they account those worthy of their Fellowship, who are worthy to be rejected by us. I would whisper in the Ears of these thought­less and unnatural Converts, not to say Apostates; Will you rashly, and to have your Wills in lesser Matters, return to a State of Bondage, when you en­joy matchless Liberties and Priviledges? Will you take upon you a Yoke which your gracious Predecessors could not bear? Will you bring a Burthen upon Pos­terity, which is intollerable, to humour and ease your selves? Know, when the Yoke is once on your Necks, you must pay the Tythe, the Tenth part of which you are apt now to think is too much for you to give, or your Minister to receive. And do you think the vast Arrearages will not be recovered, one way or another? I mean the vast Sums expended for the Propagation of the Gospel: That is, for the bringing over our Churches to the Mother Church!

3. Be kind to your Ministers; and don't give them any just Provocation to desert you, or to endea­vour to reconcile themselves to the Discipline and Ce­remonies of the Church. The Discount of the Bills of Credit has insensibly and exceedingly hurt them in times past; and it is well if it be not so to this Day with some. I am fully perswaded that Ministers Sa­laries ought in Justice to be raised in Proportion to the Depreciation of the Bills of Credit; for the Price of the Necessaries of Life rise in that Propor­tion. By no Means discourage the Hearts, or wea­ken the Hands of your Faithful Ministers, who are [Page 42] willing to spend and be spent, in the Service of your precious Souls. Especially be cautious at this Junc­ture, when so great Temptations are laid before them to desert you, and go home and take Orders.

4thly. and Finally, Study the Principles of your Faith and Order; be heartily reconciled to, and be Zealous in the Defence and Practice of them. And as often as any of Our Holy Churches do want a Pas­tor, I would advise them when treating with any Candidate in order to Settlement, to know his Mind with respect to the professed Faith and Order of these Churches; and proceed not to Election until he has given his Assent to the one, and his Promise to Prac­tice according to the other. This indeed is impli­citly done by his Acceptance of the Invitation of a Congregational Church; but the more explicit, the bet­ter. And when the Elders and Messengers of Neigh­bour Churches are (upon Invitation) convened, to assist in the Solemn Separation of a Pastor to the Sacred Work of the Gospel Ministry, in his Ordi­nation; they would doubtless do well to satisfy themselves here about, left they be found to lay their Hands too suddenly upon his Head. To con­clude, Let us then stand fast in the Liberties wherewith Christ hath made us free, Gal. 5. 1. Our Country thinks it worth while to spend many Thousands, in the De­fence of their Civil Priviledges settled upon us by Charter; and are not these Sacred Priviledges of equal, yea of greater Worth and Value? O then, let us contend earnestly for the Faith and Order of the Gospel, left we be found to despise our Birth-right, and to destroy our selves.

[Page 1]

REASONS For adhering to our Platform, AS A RULE of Church-Government, AND OBJECTIONS Against Ruling Elders answered. In a LETTER to a Friend.


I Received a Message from you, that a Friend of yours desires to have some Reasons (drawn up in Writing) to shew why we should adhere to the PLATFORM as a Rule of Church-Government, at least till another and better be provided.

I wish a better Head were employed in assigning Reasons for it: But to gratify you (in the interim) I shall give you the general Reasons inducing me to be of the Opinion that we ought so to do. But first [Page 2] I premise, that whereas it is objected, That the Scrip­tures are the only Rule both of Worship and Discipline, and that it is both Sinful and Dangerous to set up humane Composures as our Rule; I perfectly agree with the Objectors, and acknowledge that no humane Composure ought to be received, which disagrees with the holy Scriptures. But if the Platform must be re­jected meerly because it is of humane Composure; then by the same Parity of Reason, not only the Association Principles but also all Sermons, Confessions of Faith, practical Catechisms, and the like, are to be re­jected, these being also humane Composures. And it is very observable, that the same Persons who are for rejecting the Platform, would at the same Time have us subject to such a Government as they them­selves shall from Time to Time fancy to be agreable to the Scriptures; not allowing us to judge for our selves, whether it be agreable to the Scripture or not; nor willing to be governed or restricted them­selves by any Rule, except the Scriptures in the Sense they themselves understand them, or (which is one and the same Thing) by any other than what agrees with their own Sentiments. And with this Allowance I suppose the Pope himself could comply with the Scripture as the Rule of his Government.

But that there ought to be a Platform extracted from the Holy Scriptures, as a Particular Rule of Church Government, and that it is our Wisdom and Interest to adhere to ours, at least till another and better be provided, is evident to me, from the fol­lowing Considerations, viz.

1. The Nature, Use and Ends of all Government necessarily implies ORDER: Order cannot be preser­ved without known and certain Rules: The Duties [Page 3] of Rulers and Ruled must be stated, circumscribed, and limited by a Rule; otherwise RULERS may be Ty­rants at pleasure, and SUBJECTS Rebel whenever they have Opportunity, and neither of them be Ac­countable.

2. Tho' the SCRIPTURES are in themselves a perfect Rule, and the only Standard by which all other Rules are to be tried; yet it is evident that through the Darkness or Corruption of Men's Minds, this Rule is very diversly understood and practiced upon, both with respect to Doctrine and Discipline. Hence the Authors of the most corrupt DOCTRINES pre­tend to the Scriptures to support their Tenets. So with respect to CHURCH-GOVERNMENT, the Congregationalist, the Presbyterian, the Episcopalian, yea, and even the Papist, pretend to Rule and Govern according to the Scripture. So that they don't so much differ upon the Question, Whether the SCRIP­TURE shall be the Rule, as upon the Question how the Scripture is to be understood.

3. Hence it follows, that without some Platform or Constitution, there can be no orderly Government upheld. This appears to be agreable to the Sense both of Papists and Protestants, Episcopalians, Presby­terians and Congregationalists; who all have their Plat­forms or Constitutions of Church-Government.

4. The Church-Government in this Country, is found­ed upon a particular Compact or Agreement, wherein the Officers and Members of each particular Church combine to set forward the Worship of God, and maintain the Discipline of his Kingdom in a Way which they judge to be agreable to the HOLY SCRIP­TURES; [Page 4] and to act in way of Consociation with other Churches of the same Principles, for their mutual Good and Edification. Upon this Foundation were the Churches of NEW ENGLAND first settled; and for their more regular Proceeding therein, the PLAT­FORM (expressing their Sense of the SCRIPTURE relating to Church Order and Government) was com­posed & consented to by the Churches in our primi­tive Times: And this Form of Government is so far established, that our General Consent to continue and abide in this Way, would secure to us the Priviledges of it. And this indeed is our only Barrier against Episcopacy; unless some other Form of Government (not disallowed by the Crown) be received and em­braced by the Churches.

5. But if we slight the Method of Government in our Platform, and don't by Agreement fix on ano­ther, it will follow, that either the Government of the Church must cease, or a Government imposed and Enforced by Humane Laws must succeed. I pre­sume most certainly the Churches (so unhinged) must immediately fall into an absolute Independency at first; and the Members of each individual Church, must either be allowed to be under no Government but what will suit with their own private Judgment on the Scriptures (which they may be tempted to vary or alter as Occasion may offer;) or else a Power of Judging for themselves as to the Meaning of the Scripture must be denied to the Brethren, and put over to the Minister for him to Judge and Determine as he thinks fit, and to state and fix the Boun­daries both of his own Authority and the People's Obedience, as he shall from Time to Time under­stand the Scripture. And who can tell how much [Page 5] or how often his Judgment may also vary, upon Occasions or Temptations which may offer? But such a confused State of Things can't last long; a more certain and regular Form of Government will quick­ly be found necessary; and perhaps a Presbyterian Government may be sought after, but not found to be attainable. May it not therefore be proper (be­fore we part with our Platform) not only to enquire whether the Presbyterian Constitution be more agree­able to the Scripture; but also whether that Govern­ment can be set up and supported here, unless some other Laws than we have hitherto had, be enacted, and do obtain the Royal Approbation. That the Royal Approbation may be obtained in Favour of the way of the Church of England, can't be doubted; but that it will be obtained in Favour of a Pres­byterian Church Government here, seems hardly probable: which if duly considered, it may well be wondered how Gentlemen (who would not be wil­ling that themselves or Posterity should be placed under Episcopacy) can think of Departing from Our Own Platform; at least 'till another and better be in­stituted in the Room thereof.

6. Our Platform was doubtless the Result of great Tho't and Deliberation, and of earnest Prayer and Sup­plication; composed and consented to by Men of as great Learning, Piety and Prudence as any our Age affords; and such as had more Knowledge and larger Experience of the State of the Church at Home and A­broad, than perhaps any among us of the present Age have; and as careful of avoiding humane In­ventions as the best of us. Now the Platform agreed with their understanding of the Scripture, not only then, but many Years after, when it was revised by [Page 6] a succeeding Synod. And I am perswaded, if it were now Impartially considered and compared with the Scripture, it would be found very consonant therewith. And even that Part thereof which asserts the Office of the RULING ELDER (which is as I suppose the most distastful to such as would explode the Platform) agrees with the Scripture not only in the Judgment of the Divines and Churches in New Eng­land in our purest times, but also in the Judgment of the most famous Reforming Divines and Church­es that have been in other Parts of the World. Both the Necessity and Divine Authority of that Office hav­ing been asserted by Divines vastly more in Num­ber than those (among Presbyterians and Congrega­tionalists) who do or have decried it; and not in­ferior to them in Learning, Piety or solid Judg­ment. I am told by a Gentleman of Learning and Ingenuity, That the Protestant Churches of Geneva, France, Scotland, Holland, and in general almost all the Churches of the Reformation (except Episcopalians) have upheld this Office; and that it has never been denied by any considerable Number of Protestant Churches (except as aforesaid) till that about the Space of Fifty Years ago, a Number of Ministers rose up in New England, who did oppose it.

Upon the whole therefore, tho' no Man's Conscience ought to be bound by this or any other Platform, in any Matter which he verily believes to be contrary to the Scripture; yet it seems impossible to conceive, how a particular Church can uphold an orderly Dis­cipline, or a Number of Churches form a Consocia­tion, unless they do unite in the Foundation-Princi­ples of Church-Government; or that the Civil Au­thority prescribe the Rules or Canons of Church Government, and enforce Obedience and Subjection [Page 7] thereto, as in the Case of National Churches.

From the foregoing Considerations laid together, I think it will appear to be the Wisdom and Interest of all those who prefer our own Constitution before a National Church-Government, and its forcing Ca­nons, steadily to adhere to our Platform; at least till another and better be found, and (after mature Con­sideration) consented to and agreed upon by the Churches.

And now because the Office of a RULING EL­DER is an essential Branch of Congregational Church-Government, which if left out, quite alters the Con­stitution, and changes the Government of the Church into a Monarchical Form; and because I apprehend that the Prejudices that are taken against the Platform, are principally upon this Head; I would now acquaint your Friend (tho' this is further than his Request expresses) upon what Grounds I satisfy my self re­specting the Objections I meet with against that Office.


1. Whereas it is objected, That the Generality of our Ministers do not hold this Office to be of Di­vine Institution: To this Objection I oppose the Judgment of former Divines (more in Number, and not less Capable of judging as to the Meaning of the Scriptures;) as also the Judgment of several Di­vines now Living among us.

2. Whereas 'tis objected, That according to Eph. IV. 8, 11, 12. the ordinary Officers left by Christ in the Church, are only Pastors and Teachers; and ac­cording to Phil. [...]. 1. BISHOPS (or Pastors) and DEACONS are the only Officers mentioned: I satis­fie my self as to this Objection, by considering that the Word BISHOP, PASTOR and SHEPHERD, [Page 8] signify one and the same Thing whenever applied to Ecclesiastical Officers, and imply a Power of Teaching, Overseeing, Feeding & Governing. The Word PASTOR is applicable to all Rulers whether Civil or Ecclesiastical, and is so used in Scripture: and tho' the Word BISHOP seems in a more appropriated Sense to belong to the Ecclesiastical Ruler; yet un­der that Word so appropriated, is comprehended all Ecclesiastical Rulers, Guides, Overseers, Shepherds; even as the Word Magistrate comprehends all Ci­vil Rulers of every Rank and Station. So that nei­ther of these Expressions do exclude any sort of Elder, Overseer or Ruler in the Church; but on the contrary do include and comprehend them all. And tho' a Power of Teaching, Overseeing and Ruling, may all be attributed to one Man; yet it does not follow that the Power of Overseeing and Ruling must lie solely and absolutely in Him. For there may be, and is, a Government where there is not a Lordly Pow­er, (or which is the same thing) Power in a Single Officer, which has no other Branch of Government to Check and Controul it.

3. Whereas 'tis objected, That we have not Men Capable, &c. If it be so indeed that there are no Men in our Chuches that have Skill enough or In­tegrity enough to Guide in the External Admini­strations of the Government and Discipline of the Church; and Capable too of assisting, directing ex­horting and comforting their Brethren, as they may have Opportunity; our Degeneracy is very Lamen­table indeed: Our Churches have then none suita­ble for Service in Ecclesiastical Councils. Every thing at Home and Abroad must be left to the Prudence and Fidelity of the Ministers; and wo to that Church [Page 9] (if such a Thing shou'd happen) that falls under the Influences of a Minister no better qualified than themselves.

4. I find an Assertion in a late printed Pamphlet, that the Keyes of Doctrine and Discipline were com­mitted to the Apostles. And again, To be sure to the same Persons is there committed the Ruling and Feeding of the Flock. The Author refers to the last Chapter of Matthew. But would he restrain the Power of Ruling to the Persons of the Apostles or to the Persons of Gospel Ministers as their Successors in the Work of Teaching and Baptizing, and to them only; he must then either prove the Government of the Church to be Monarchical, or else that every Church is obliged to provide a Number of such Teaching Elders.

5. Another Objection is, That if we will hve Rul­ing Elders, we must provide them Maintainence; and this some suppose would fright us out of the No­tion of such Officers. But to me it appears no way Formidable. For in the first place, I don't be­lieve that Double Honour principally intends Main­tainance (as some would have it, from 1 Tim. V. 17.) and the next Words prove no more than this, that a suitable Reward is due, according to the Labour performed. It therefore remains to be proved, that a Ruling Elder must spend his whole Time in the Service of the Church, before he is entitled to a Maintainance from the Church. But if a sui­table and honourable Reward were assigned in pro­portion to their Service; I believe no Body would have Reason to Complain; and abundance of Good might be done, and Evil prevented, which would [Page 10] take up no great Quantity of Time. And in ex­traordinary Matters, I see no reason but their La­bours should be handsomely rewarded.

Submitting the whole to the Censure of your Friend, (unknown to me) I rest

Your Friend and humble Servant.


Apud Omnes ubique Gentes. Honorabilis est Senectus: Undo Synagoga, et postea Ecclesia SENIORES habuit; Quorum sine Consilio nibil agebatur in Ecclesia: Quod qua negligentia absol­veret, nescio, nisi forte Doctorum Desidia, aut magis Superbia, dum soli volunt aliquid videri.


A VINDICATION OF THE Divine Authority OF RULING ELDERS IN THE Churches of Christ.

Asserted by the Ministers and Elders, met to­gether in a Provincial Assembly, November 2d. 1649. and printed in London, 1650. Be­ginning at Page ␣ to 48. Transcribed out of the same Book.

Re-printed for Publick Good. 1734.

[Page 1]

A VINDICATION OF THE Divine Authority of Ruling Elders, &c. In Answer to an Objection.

Object. BEcause it sets up a new Officer in the Church, which is a meer humane Creature, having no Authority from the Word of GOD, nor was ever heard of in the Church of Christ, till Calvin's Time, and that is the LAY-ELDER.

Answer. WE do here freely confess, that if we were of Opinion, as some are, that the Ruling Elder hath no Foundation in the Word of God, but is a meer hu­mane Ordinance, brought into the Church only in a prudential way; we should heartily desire the ut­ter abolition of him: For we are not ignorant, that the Ruling Prelate was brought into the Church up­on the same Account, for the avoiding of Schism and Division, and afterwards proved the great Author [Page 2] and Fomenter of Schism and Division. And if we should decline the Ruling Prelate and take in the Ruling Elder upon the same prudential Grounds, it were just with God to make him as mischievous to the Church, as ever the Ruling Prelate was: And therefore let us consider what may be said out of the Word of God, for the Justification of this so much decried Officer. Yet first we cannot but take notice that the Name of Lay-Elder was affixed to this Officer by way of Reproach and Scorn, by the Adversaries of him, and that it ought not to be continued. For though it be evident by Scrip­ture, [Heb. 13, 17, 24.] that there is a great dif­ference betwixt the Ministry, usually called the Cler­gy, and the People commonly called the Laity; Yet it's also as manifest, that the Scripture distinguish­eth them not by the Names of Clergy and Laity: for asmuch as all God's People are therein stiled the Lord's Clergy or Inheritance, [1 Pet. 5. 3. Jer. 10. 16.] and the Lord is called their Inheritance. And when Persons are duly chosen from among the People to be Governours in the Church, as such, they are no longer Lay-men, but Ecclesiastical Per­sons. And therefore we profess a dislike of the Name lay Elder, and conceive they ought to be called either Governours in the Church, 1 Cor. 12. 23. or Ruling Elders: as 1 Tim. 5. 17. not because their Office is to rule alone (for the Teaching Elder is a Ruler also,) Heb. 13. 17. 1 Thes. 5. 12. but be­cause their Office is only to Rule.

Now concerning these Ruling El­ders we confess, Non quia soli, sed quia solum praesunt. that they are Officers somewhat new & strange to the Church of England; yet not new nor strange to the Word of God, nor to the Primitive Times, [Page 3] nor (as all know) to the Reformed Churches.

First, They are not new nor strange to the Word of God, neither in the Old Testament, nor in the New. The Jews in the Old Testament, had two sorts of Elders, Elders of the Priests, and Elders of the Peo­ple; suitable to our Teaching and Ruling Elders, as appears, Jer. 19. 1. And these Elders of the Peo­ple did sit and vote with the Priests and Levites in all their Ecclesiastical Consistories, and that by divine Appointment. That they were constituent Members of the great Sanhedrim, appears, 2 Chron. 19. 8. where we read, that some of the chief of the Fathers were joyned with the Priests, to judge in the matters of the Lord. And howsoever, many things among the Jews after the Captivity, did decline to Disorder and Confusion; yet we find even in the Days of Christ and his Apostles, that the Elders of the People still sate and voiced in the Council with the Priests, according to the ancient Form, as is clear from Matth. 26. 57, 59. Matth. 27. 1, 12. Matth. 16. 21. Matth. 21. 23. Mark 14. 43. Luk. 22. 66. De divers. grad. Minist. Evang. cap. 11. p. 108. And Sara­via himself, who disputeth so much against Ruling Elders, acknowledgeth thus much: I find indeed, (saith he) Elders in the Assembly of the Priests of the old Sy­nagogue, which were not Priests; and their Suffrages and Authority in all Judgments, were equal with the Suffrages of the Priests. But he adds, That these El­ders of the People, were Civil Magistrates: which is a poor Shift, directly against many Scriptures, which contradistinguish these Elders from the Civil Ma­gistrate; as appears, Acts 4. 5. Judg. 8. 14. Deut. 5. 23. Josh. 8. 33. 2 King. 10. 15. Ezra. 10. 14. And though it were possible, that some of them might [Page 4] be Civil Magistrates, as some Elders among us, are Justices of the Peace; yet they did not sit under that Capacity, in the Ecclesiastical Sanhedrim, but as Ecclesiastical Elders.

And that the Jews also had Elders of the People, sitting and voting in their inferiour Consistories, ap­pears (as we humbly conceive) from Acts 13. 15. Acts 18. 8, 17. Mar. 5. 22. In which places, we read of the Rulers of the Synagogue, who were neither Priests nor Levites; and yet were Rulers in Church-Matters, and had Power, together with the Priests, of casting Men out of the Synagogue, and of ordering Synagogue, worship, Joh. 12. 42. Acts 13. 15.

Now this, Association of the Elders of the People, with the Priests, in the Jewish Church-Government, was by Divine Appointment: For Moses first instituted it, and afterwards Jehosaphat restored it, according as they were directed by God, Numb. 11. 16. 2 Chron. 19. 8. And it did belong to the Jewish Church, not as it was Jewish, but as it was a Church; and there­fore belongeth to the Christian Church, as well as Jewish. For whatsoever agreeth to a Church, as a Church, agreeth to every Church. There was nothing Judaical or Typical in this Institution; but it was found­ed upon the Light of Nature, and right Reason, which is alike in all Ages.

But leaving the Old Testament, let us consider what may be said for the Divine Right of the Ruling Elder, out of the New Testament. For this Purpose, we have already produced three Pla­ces, which we shall now briefly open; and shew how the Ruling Elder is proved out of them. The Places are, 1 Cor. 12. 28. Rom. 12. 7, 8. 1 Tim. 5. 17.

[Page 5]The first Place is, 1 Cor. 12. 28. And God hath set some in the Church, first, Apostles; secondarily, Pro­phets; thirdly, Teachers; after that, Miracles; then Gifts of healing, Helps, Governments, diversities of Tongues; where we have an enumeration of sundry Officers of the Church; and among others, there are Helps, Calvin in locum. Chrysostom up­on 1 Cor. 12. 28. Estius upon 1 Cor. 12. 28. Governments. By Helps, are meant Deacons; (as not on­ly our Reformed Divines, but Chry­sostom and Estius, and others observe,) and by Governments, are meant the Ruling Elder: which that it may the better appear, we will propound, and prove these six Things.

1. That by Governments, are meant Men exer­cising Government, the Abstract put for the Concrete. The Intent of the Apostle, is not to speak of Offices distinct from Persons, but of Persons exercising Offices. This appears first, by the beginning of the Verse, God hath set some in his Church; this relates to Per­sons, not unto Offices. Secondly, by the 29, and 30. Verses, where the Apostle speaks concretively, of those Things which he had spoken before ab­stractively. Are all workers of Miracles? have all the Gifts of Healing? do all speak with Tongues, &c? and so by Consequence, Are all Helpers, are all Governours? And therefore it is, that the Syriack instead of Helps, Governments, reads it Helpers, Governours.

2. That the Governour here meant, must needs be a Church-Governour. For it is expresly said, that he is seated in the Church, and therefore the Civil Magistrate cannot be meant by this Governour, as some would have it: partly, because this is quite besides the whole Intent and Scope of the Chapter, treating meerly upon spiritual Church-Matters, not at all of secular civil Matters; and partly, because [Page 6] the Magistrate, as such, is not placed by God in the Church, but in the Common-wealth; and partly, because the Apostle writes of such Governours, that had at that Time actual Existence in the Church; and neither then, nor divers hundred Years after, were there any Christian Magistrates.

3. That this Church-Governour is seated by God in his Church. It is a Plant of Gods own planting, and therefore shall stand firm, maugre all Oppo­sition. For it is expresly said, God hath set some in his Church, first Apostles, &c. then Helps, then Go­vernments.

4. That this Church-Governour thus seated by God in his Church, is not only a Church-Member, but a Church-Officer. For though it be a Questi­on among the Learned, whether some of the Per­sons here named, as the Workers of Miracles, and those that had the Gift of Healing and of Tongues, were seated by God, as Officers in the Church, and not rather, only as eminent Members, indued with these eminent Gifts; yet it is most certain, that whosoever is seated by God in his Church, as a Church-Governour, must needs be a Church-Officer: for the Nature of the Gift, doth necessarily imply an Office. The Greek Word for Governments, ΚUΒΕΡΝΗΣΕΙS. is a Metaphor from Pilots, or Ship-Masters, go­verning their Ships; (hence the Master of a Ship is called ΚUΒΕΡΝΗΤΗS, a Governour, Jam. 3. 4.) and it notes such Officers as sit at the Stern of the Vessel of the Church, to govern and guide it in Spirituals, according to the Will and Mind of Christ, which is the direct Office of our Ruling Elder.

5. This Church-Governour thus seated by God [Page 7] in his Church, as a Church-Officer, is an ordinary and perpetual Officer in his Church. Indeed, here is men­tion made of Officers extraordinary, as Apostles, Prophets; and of Gifts extraordinary, as the Gift of Miracles, Healing and of Tongues: but here is also mention made of ordinary Officers, perpetually to abide, as Teachers, Helpers, and the Church-Gover­nour, or Ruling Elder. And that this Officer is or­dinary and perpetual, appears from the perpetual Necessity of him in the Church: for a Church without Government, is as a Ship without a Pilot, as a Kingdom without a Magistrate, and a World with­out a Sun.

6. That this Church-Governour thus seated by God in his Church, as a perpetual Officer, is an Officer contra-distinguished in the Text from the A­postles, Prophets, Teachers, and all other Officers in the Church. This appears,

(1.) By the Apostles Manner of expressing these Officers in an enumerative Form; First, Apostles; Secondarily, Prophets; Thirdly, Teachers; After that, Miracles, then Gifts of Healing, &c.

(2.) By the Recapitulation, vers. 29, 30. Are all Apostles? Are all Prophets? Are all Teachers? Are all Workers of Miracles?

(3) By the Scope of the whole Chapter; which is to set down different Gifts and Offices in different Subjects. It is said, vers. 8, 9. To one is given by the Spirit, the Word of Wisdom; to another, the Word of Knowledge by the same Spirit; to another, Faith, &c. And for this Purpose, the Apostle draweth a Simile from the Members of Man's Body: As there are different Members in Man's Body, and every Member hath it's different Office, and every Mem­ber stands in need one of another; the Eye can­not [Page 8] say to the Hand, I have no need of thee; nor again, the Head to the Foot, I have no need of thee; &c. So it is in the Church Ministerial, which is the Body of Christ. God hath set different Officers in his Church; some ordinary and perpetual; some ex­traordinary and temporary: And these different Of­ficers, have different Offices; some to Teach, others to Distribute to the poor Saints; others to Govern. Are all Teachers? Are all Deacons? Are all Church-Governours? and these have all need one of another. The Teacher cannot say to the Deacon, I have no need of thee; nor to the Church-Governour, I have no need of thee: But if all these Officers were in the Pastor alone, and only, then might he truly say to the Deacon and Ruling Elder, I have no need of thee. But now God hath so set the Members in his Body, which is his Church, that every Member stands in need one of anothers Help and Support.

Object. If it be objected, that the Apostles had all these Offices and Gifts here mentioned, eminently seated in them; for they were Prophets, Teachers, Workers of Miracles; and therefore why may not all these be understood of one and the same Person?

Answ. Though it be true, that the Apostles had eminently all these; yet it is as true, that there are many here named, which had but one of these Gifts formally seated in them: And it is also apparent, that some of the Persons here named were distinct Officers in the Church, as the Prophet, and the Teacher. Though the Apostles were Prophets and Teachers, yet the Prophet and the Teacher were Officers distinct from the Apostles; and by a parity of Reason, so were the Governours from the Apostle, Prophet, and [Page 9] Teacher: the Scope of the Apostle being (as hath been said) to set out distinct Offices in distinct Offi­cers; are all Apostles? are all Prophets? are all Tea­chers? The Sum of what we have said from this Scripture, then is this; That God hath seated some Men in his Church which have a Gift and Office to Govern, which are neither Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, nor Pa­stors; and therefore they are Ruling Elders, which is the Officer we are enquiring after.

Now this Interpretation which we have given, is not only the Interpretation of Reformed Divines, both Lutherans and Calvinists, but of the ancient Fa­thers, and even the Papists themselves, as appears by the quotations in the Margin Gerbardus de Ministerio Ecclesiastico Calvin in lo­cum, P. Mar­tyr. in locum. Beza in locum. Piscator in locum. Am­bros. in locum. Chrys. in locum. Salmer. in locum, Septimo loco ponit Gubernato­res, id est, eos qui praesunt aliis, & gubernant, Plebemque in Offi­cio continent. Et Ecclesia Christi habet suam Politiam, & cum Pastor per se omnia praestare non posset, adjungebantur illi duo Presbyteri, de quibus dixit, Qui bene praesunt, Presbyteri, du­plici Honore digni habeantur, maxime qui laborant in Verbo & Doctrina; Qui una cum Pastore deliberabant de Ecclesia Cura, & Instauratione: qui ettam Fidei atque honestae Vitae Consortes erant..

The second Text is, Rom. 12. 6. 7, 8. Having then Gifts differing according to the Grace given; whether Prophesie let us prophesie according to the Proportion of Faith; or Mi­nistry, let us wait on our Ministring; or he that teacheth on Teaching; or he that exhort­eth, on Exhortation: He that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; He that ruleth, with Diligence; He that shew­eth Mercy, with Chearfulness. In which Words, we have a perfect Enumeration of all the ordinary Offices of [Page 10] the Church. These Offices are reduced, first, to two general Heads, Prophesie and Ministry, and are therefore set down in the Abstract. By Prophesie is meant the Faculty of right understanding, interpret­ing, and expounding the Scriptures. Ministry com­prehends all other Employments in the Church. Then these Generals are subdivided into the special Offices contained under them, and are therefore put down in the Concrete. Under Prophesie are contain­ed, 1. He that teacheth, that is, the Doctor or Teacher. 2. He that exhorteth, i. e. the Pastor. Under Ministry are comprized, 1. He that giveth, that is the Deacon. 2. He that ruleth, that is, the Ruling Elder. 3. He that sheweth mercy: which Estius in Rom. 12. [...] placet etiam hac par­te speciale quod­dam Charisma five Officium significari, & [...] dicatur iis qui ab Ecclesia curandis miseris, potissimum agro. tis, prafectus est, [...] praebet Ob­sequia velut eti­am hodie fit in Nosocom [...]s; qui Sensus [...]aud qua­quam improbabilis est.Office per­tained unto them, who in those Days had Care of the Sick. So that in these Words, we have the Ruling El­der plainly set down, and contra dis­tinguished from the teaching and exhorting Elder (as appears by the distributive Particles, ΕΙΤΕ Ο ΔΙΔΑΣΚΟΝ ΕΙΤΕ Ο ΠΑΡΑΚΑLΟΝ, Whether he that teacheth; whether he that exhorteth; whether he that ruleth, &c.) And here likewise we have the Divine Institution of Ruling Elders: for so the Words hold forth; Hav­ing then Gifts differing according to the Grace that is given unto us; and thus also in the third Verse, according as God has dealt to every Man, &c. This Officer is the Gift of God's free Grace to the Church for the Good of it.

Against this Exposition of the Text it is objected by those that oppose the Divine Right of the Ruling El­der, [Page 11] that the Apostle speaks in these Words, not of several Offices in several Persons, but of several Gifts in one and the same Person; for he saith, having then Gifts differing according, &c. But we Answer:

1. That the Word Gift is often in Scripture taken for Office; as Eph. 4. 8, 11. When he ascended on high, he led Captivity Captive, and gave Gifts unto Men, and v. 11. He sheweth what these Gifts were, some to be A­postles, some Evangelists, &c.

2. That the Apostle in the Protasis speaks not of several Gifts, but of several Offices, and these not in the same, but in several Members, ver. 4. As we have many Members in one Body, and all Members have not the same Office. And therefore the Apodosis, must also be understood not only of several Gifts, but of several Offices, and these in several Subjects. And this further appears, by the very Similitude which the Apostle here useth, which is the same he used, 1 Cor. 12. from the Body natural, wherein there are many dis­tinct Members, and every Member hath its distinct Office; and so it is in the Church of Christ.

3. These Gifts here mentioned, and the Waiting upon them, do necessarily imply an Office in whom­soever they are; and therefore they are set down em­phatically with an Article, ΕΙΤΕ Ο ΔΙΔΑΣΚΟΝ O ΠΡΟΙSΤΑΜΕΝΟS. He that hath the Gift of Teach­ing, and Exhorting, and Ruling, and waiteth upon this Gift, what is he but a Teacher, Pastor, and Rul­ing Elder? And this must either be granted, or else we must open a Door for all Members of the Church, even Women, not only to preach and teach, but to rule also, and to wait upon Preaching and Ruling. [Page 12] This Truth is so clear, as that the Papists themselves being convinced of it, do say upon this Text, that the Apostle here first speaks of Gifts in general; Cornelius a lapide, in Rom. 12. 6, 7, 8. and secondly, applyeth these Gifts to Ecclesiastical Officers, v. 6. and afterwards directs his Exhortati­on to all Christians in general.

The third Text for the Divine Right of the Rul­ing Elder, is, 1 Tim. 5. 17. Let the Elders that rule well be counted worthy of double Honour, especially they who labour in the Word and Doctrine. For the under­standing of which Words, we will lay down this Rule; That every Text of Scripture is to be interpreted ac­cording to the Literal and Grammatical Construction; unless it be contrary to the Analogie of Faith, or the Rule of Life, or the Circumstances of the Text: o­therwise, we shall make a Nose of Wax of the Scrip­tures, and draw qaidlibet ex quolibet. Now according to the Grammatical Construction, here are plainly held forth two sorts of Elders; the one, only Ruling; and the other, also labouring in Word and Doctrine. Give us leave to give you the true Analysis of the Words.

1. Here is a Genus, a General, and that is Elders.

2. Two distinct Species, or Kinds of Elders, Those that rule well, and those that labour in Word and Doctrine; as Pastor and Doctor.

3. Here we have two Participles, expressing these two Kinds of Elders, Ruling, Labouring; the first do only rule, the second do also labour in Word and Doctrine.

4. Here are two distinct Articles, distinctly an­nexed [Page 13] to these two Participles, OI ΠΡΟΕSΤΟΤΕS, ΟΙ ΚΟΠΙΟΕΝΤΕS. They that rule, they that labour.

5. Here is an eminent discretive Particle, set betwixt these two kinds of Elders, these two Participles; these two Articles evidently distinguish one from the other, viz. MALISTA, especially they that Labour, &c. And where-over this Word MALISTA is used in the New-Testament, it is used to distinguish Thing from Thing, or Person from Person; as Gal. 6. 10. Phil. 4. 22. 1 Tim. 5. 8. 1 Tim. 4. 10. Tit. 1. 10. 2 Tim. 4. 13. 2 Pet. 2. 10. Acts 20. 38. In all which Places, the Word [especially] is used as a discretive Particle, to distinguish one Thing from another, or one Per­son from another; and therefore being applied here to Persons, must necessarily distinguish Person from Person, Officer from Officer. It is absurd to say, (saith Dr. Whitaker) that this Text is to be understood of one and the same ElderWhitak. in Pr [...] ­lectionibus suis, ut refert in Refutati­one Dounami. Sheervodius, cited by the Author of Altare Damascen. cap. 12. pag. 925, 926.. If a Man should say, All the Students in the University are worthy of double Ho­nour, especially they that are Professors of Divinity; he must necessarily under­stand it of two Sorts of Students. Or if a Man should say, All Gentlemen that do Service for the Kingdom in their Counties, are worthy of double Ho­nour, especially they that do Service in the Parliament; this must needs be understood of different Persons. We are not ignorant, that Archbishop Whitgift, Bishop King, Bishop Bilson, Bishop Downam, and others, la­bour to fasten divers other interpretations upon these Words, which would be over tedious here to re­hearse. Only thus much we crave leave to say, which we [...] may be seriously weighed; That all other [Page 14] Senses that are given of these Words, are either such as are disagreeing from the Literal and Gram­matical Construction, or such as fall into one of these two Absurdities, either to maintain a Non­preaching Ministry, or a Lazy-preaching Ministry, to deserve double Honour. Archbishop Whitgift Whitgift a­gainst Cart­wright. by the Elder that rules well, understands a Reader that is not a Preacher. Dr. King In a Sermon of his in Print., a Bishop ruling, and not preaching: which is to say, that a Non-preaching Minister deserves double Honour. Dr. Bilson D. Perpetua Eccl. Gubernat. saith, that the Words are to be understood of two Sorts of Elders, and that the Meaning is; That the Elder that rules well, and preacheth, is worthy of double Honour; especially thay that Labour, that is, that preach abundantly, that do ΚΟΠΙΑΝ, Labour as a Water-Man at his Oar: which is as much as if he had said, that a lazy Minister, or a seldom-preaching Minister, deserves double Honour. For all Preachers are in Scripture required ΚΟΠΙΑΝ, to Labour abundantly, 1 Thes. 5. 12. 1 Cor. 3. 8. where the same Word is used that is here expressed. If the Apostle had meant to have distinguished them by their extraordinary Labour, he would rather have said, ΜΟΞΘΟUΝΤΕS, than ΚΟΠΙΟΝΤΕS for other­where he useth ΜΟΞΘΟS, as a Degree of painful La­bour, [2 Cor. 11. 27. 1 Thes. 2. 9.] above ΚΟΠΟS, which is [...]ut for common Labour, Rom. 16. 12. Dr. Dow [...]am and others, interpret the Words of one and the same Elder, thus; The Elders that rule well, are worthy of double Honour, especially they that La­bour; that is, (say they) especially they labouring, or especially because they labour. And so they make their labouring to be the chief Cause of their double Ho­nour. [Page 15] But this Interpretation is against the Eternal Meaning: for the Greek is not ΕΙ ΚΟΠΙΟΣΙΝ, if they Labour, but ΜΑLΙSΤΑ ΟΙ ΚΟΠΙΟΝΤΕS, especially they that Labour. Here is a Participle with an Article, and a discretive Particle, which can never be rightly and literally translated causatively. And therefore we conclude, Beza in 1 Tim. 5. 17. Piscator in locum. Cal [...]. in loc. together with our Reformed Divines, that this Text, according to the proper and Gramma­tical Construction of it, doth hold forth unto all unprejudiced Christians, a Ruling Elder, distinct from a Teaching Elder, which is the Thing we undertook to prove.


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