THe Apostle Saint Paul in the fourth of the Ephesians, exhorting all Christians to walk worthy of the Vocation whereunto they were called, and to behave themselves as beseemed Brethren; wisheth them with all lowlinesse and meeknesse, with long suffering and patience, to bear one with another in love: And useth a forceable Ar∣gument, to move them to brotherly kind∣nesse, Because, saith he, there is but one body and one spirit and one hope of Salvation: We all worship one God, we are all con∣secrated to him with one Baptisme, and we all hope for one and the self-same glory: Therefore as there is but one Lord, one faith, one Baptisme; so be yee also of one minde, live in love, and keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of Peace. If ever there was need of this exhortation, there is now singular use of it, especially in this distracted Nation wherein we live. For the division of a Kingdom is the ruine of it: the division of a family destroys it: the division between brethren brings a confusion amongst them. It hath ever bin observed, That diversity of judgment & opinion hath made a difference in affection. The difference between the Iews and the Samaritans in points of Religion, made the Disciples desire, That fire might come down from heaven to end that controversie. Page 2 The difference between us and the Papists, and the diversity of opinions between us, made them, because they could not bring down fire from heaven, fetch it out of hell, to blow up the Par∣liament; and because that had not the desired effect, and the diver∣sity of opinion stil remaining, makes the difference of their affection from us so great, that nothing can expiate their indignation against us, but the utter internetion and destruction of us all; and this and this only, next unto our own sins, is the cause of all those fatall calamities this miserable kingdome is now imbroyled with. And therefore, all care and diligence among brethren, should be used to get a right understanding one of another, and to move them to bear one with another, and ever to call to minde the saying of Abraham to Lot, Gen. 13. Let not us contend together for we are brethren. I am most assured, if there were a right understanding of the differences that are now among brethren, there could not be such bitter expressions one against another, and such alienation of affection as is now too frequent and too well known to the common enemy. We are commanded, If it be possible, as much as lies in us, to be in in peace with all men, Rom. 12. 18. And the fruits of discord are set down in the 5th of the Galathians verse 15. If saith the Apostle ye bite and devoure one another, take heede yee be not consumed one with another, and in the 20. verse. Hatred saith the Apostle, varience, emulation, strife, heresies &c. and envyings are of the flesh, and they that do such things shall not enter into the Kingdome of God. A double misery follows those that do these things, misery here, and misery hereafter, it excludes men out of heaven. The contemplation of the sad condition, that will inevi∣tably come upon that Land, Kingdome, and Church, where those variances and heart-burnings are, and where there is such diversi∣ty of opinions, and by reason of them, such difference in affecti∣on, put me chiefely upon this imployment, to see and try, if by any possible meanes, I could, by shewing wherein the difference between the brethren lyeth, be an instrument of a good accord amongst them: resolving with my self by Gods assistance whatso∣ever others do, to observe to the uttermost of my abilities, the royall Law, Jan. 2. 8. I do conceive, that if there were a right understanding one of anothers opinions, the world would won∣der there should be such invectives in every pamphlet one against another, and such varience among those that are joyned together Page 3 and that with nighest relations. The truth is, the mis-understan∣ding of each others opinions and the mis-prisian of each others intentions, is the onely cause of this diversity of affection which to the dishonour of God and of our holy profession, and indeed to the disgrace of Christian Religion, every where too much ven∣teth it selfe. And therefore as Abraham said unto Lot, so say I to all those that love the truth in sincerity and wish the Peace of Zion; Let not us contend, especially with evill language, for we are bre∣thren; we have one father, we worship one God, we have one light, one truth, one way. And this I professe to all the world, That I contend not for victory, but for that ancient light, the faith once delivered unto the Saints, Iude 3. For that truth which we have heard from the beginning, 1 Iohn 2. ver. 14. for the old way, verse 6. The way the truth and the life, Ioh. 14. and for the honour of that Church against which the gates of hell can never prevaile; in the which there are all those undeceiveable marks, as are able for ever to declare her to be built upon the foundation of Peter, in which the Gospell of Jesus Christ is purely and sincerely both preached and beleeved, and where the Sacraments are rightly administred, and in the which there is the true invoca∣tion of God, and all other requisites that make her a true Church; and from which there is no just cause of separation. That I have dedicated this Treatise to no man, nor sought the patronage of any Authority, no mortall creature I presume, will blame me, know∣ing my Reasons. For writing in defence of the Prerogative Roy∣all of Kings, against Papall Usurpation; I dedicated my booke unto the King of great Britaine, France, and Ireland, supposing my selfe safe under his protection, whose honour and imperiall dignity I maintain: but all men know, what misery to the ruine of me, my wife, and many small children came upon me by it, through the power and exorbitant authority of the Prelates: so that for my duty and Loyalty to the King, I had a prison for my reward, and the scornes and contumelies of the world to comfort me in it. And when I most humbly petitioned his highnesse, complaining against the injustice done me, and most submissively supplicated his Majesty (who was the Caesar to whom only I could then appeal) that he would be pleased to grant me one of these humble requests, either That his Majesty would be pleased, but for one houre to give me a hearing of my just defence; or if Page 4 that could not be granted, That at lest he would then grant me that liberty in his Kingdome, that he denyed not to Crows and Kites and other Vermine, that I might provide for my young ones; and if his highnesse would not be pleased to condescend unto either of the former just demands, That then he would give me leave to depart the Kingdom, and to go into any other Country where I might enjoy my Liberty and provide for my poore di∣stressed family. I am most assured there was never a more equall Petition put up to any Prince in the world, yet his Majestie vouch∣safed not to yeeld unto any of these my requests, nor to any other Petition put up either by my poor distressed wife or calamitous children; so that without any wrong unto his Majesty, I may truely say, That Paul found more favour from a Heathen Roman Caesar, then I had from a Christian King, the defender of the faith. After I saw all possibility of releefe was now taken from me, I writ my Apology to the Bishops themselves, discovering unto them their unjust proceedings in their Courts, and their unrighte∣ous dealings towards my selfe, and gave them my reasons of all I spake, without any offensive language and without any perturbation of Spirit; and Dedicated this my Booke to the Lords of his Majesties Privy Councell, expecting ayde and re∣liefe from them, and indeed I had no hope of succour from any other, nor knew none to whom I could better apply my selfe, ear∣nestly imploring their patronage; but they, as it is well knowne, of Patrons became my unjust Judges, and after they had made me a spectacle to Men and Angells, and exposed me to the scorne and ludibry of the world, sent me into banishment, where I lived a living death and a dying life, and suffered such intolerable mise∣ry of all sorts, as would exceed beliefe to relate; and I am most confident, if all the particulars were truly known, the world ne∣ver heard the like, and there I had ended my dolefull life, had not God of his infinite mercy called this Parliament, and put into their hearts to redeem me from my captivity; for the which incompa∣rable favour, I do, as of duty I am ever bound, professe my selfe to the last drop of my blood to be their servant in the Lord, and in all their most just and honourable imployments; I hope, with all fidelity to answer to the expectation of the world, and shall in life and death shew my selfe to be one, that without all by-respects shall ever aime at the glory of God▪ the honour of them and my Page 5 Country, and the common good of all: and shall never by Gods assistance do any thing in their concernment, that shall be unbe∣seeming a Man and a Christian. Now because by my sad experi∣ence, I found that I could neither from King nor Nobles have pro∣tection, I resolved never any more in Gods matters, to shroud my self under any covert but Divine Providence, and that, I with an assured confidence promise my self, especially when I now main∣tain the prerogative royall of the King of Saints, & King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is our Lawgiver, upon whose shoulders the government of his Church is laid, who is the wonderfull Coun∣seller, the Prince of peace; whose dignity and royalty in all this dispute between me and Mr. Walter Mountague, I have to the ut∣termost of my power maintained, under the shadow of whose wings I have ever found there is only safety; whose blessed assi∣stance, in all calamities, they that trust in him, may be most assi∣•ed of. His patronage now and his defence, is my shield, whose cause and the honour of whose kingdome at this time I contend for. And howsoever, in all my life, in all humane learning, I was never so wedded to my own resolves, but▪ upon better reason I could easily be divorced from them, yet in Gods matters, if an Angell should come from Heaven and teach me, that, that there were another way to happinesse, then by that new and living way, the blood of Jesus Christ, who was the Lambeslaine from the be∣ginning of the world, I would count him Anathema. Or if an Angel should tell me there were a new way of worshipping God, and serving him, then that which God himself hath set down in his holy Word, I would account him accursed; for I have learned to believe God and Faith upon their word and bond, without any either Angelicall or Humane reason, or the authority of Coun∣•els and Fathers: and whatsoever I finde a warrant in Gods Word for, I have learned to cleave close to it against all humane reason, supposing such men none of Gods, nor Faiths, truest friends that will not believe them upon their own word and bond, except they have reason, humane authority, Councels, and Fathers, and •aine traditions joyned with them for sureties. Again, if any man should go about to perswade me, that there were any other go∣vernment established in the Church of God, then an Aristocrati∣call and a Presbyterian one, I should notwithstanding all humane reason to the contrary, submit my self to that kind of government, Page 6 as being most confidently assured that it is warranted in Gods Word; which all Christians are bound for ever to make the Rule and Square, both of our faith, manners and government. And here I must minde all those that shall read this Book, that this is no new opinion of mine, but that which I have once and again suffered for▪ and if ever they have read my Elenchus religionis papisticiae, or my Flagellum pontificis, or my Apologie, or any of my Latine Books, in all those they will finde, that the cause of all my sufferings was this, and this only, That I maintained that all Churches were to be governed by an Aristocraticall and Presbyte∣rian government, which in those Books I have clearly and fully (through Gods assistance) made good. Yea, in in my answer to the Bill of Information put up against me in the Star-chamber, they shall have some reasons I gave there, of this my tenent, to the Lords of his Majesties Hrivie Councell, and Judges in the Star-chamber; so that I stand to my principles and am no starter. And if then a∣mongst Gods people it was thought an opinion worthy the suffe∣ring for, and my Christian brethren deemed me worthy of honour for it, and afforded me their prayers, and shewed me and mine in all our distresses, many curtesies, when we found little favour from our own brethren (which their humanity I must never for∣get, but with all due thankfulnesse for ever acknowledge) I say, if then this my opinion was thought Orthodox, and worthy of their applause, I see no good reason why a truth then should not be counted a truth now; for the Word of God out of which I had it, is the same, and if it were good then, it is good now: for the change of mens minds cannot change the truth, but it must be e∣ver truth: but this my opinion I learned out of Gods Word then which shall be for ever, by his gracious assistance the warrant of my beliefe and practice. This Word therefore, I desire all my Christian Brethren, in the deciding of this question now agitated, amongst Gods people and his faithfull servants, concerning Church-government, to take into their hands, and with those no∣ble B•reans to sit down and examine whatsoever shall be said on either side according to the holy Scrigtures: and I intreat them also to lay aside all passion (which Religion has no need of) and all vain-glory and bitternesse, which is a dishonour to our holy calling, and in the spirit of meeknesse, and with a Virgin judge∣ment, not ravisht with any previous or anticipated opinion, to Page 7 come and approach to the Altar of truth, and so consider and exa∣mine, which of those two opinions the Brethren on both sides now sacrifice themselves unto, be the offering that will best endure the firy-tryall, 1 Cor. 3. 13, 14, 15. viz. Whether the Presbyterian go∣vernment Dependent, or a Presbyterian government Independent, both now laid upon the Altar, be the acceptablest service, and best pleasing sacrifice. This is granted on all sides, and of necessi∣ty it must be yeilded unto, that that Oblation is the best and most acceptable that is offered up by faith, without which it is impos∣sible to please God, and that sacrifice only is offered up by faith, which is according to his Word, and has its warrant from his re∣vealed will, which is the rule both for worship and the govern∣ment of his Church we are to be guided by. The Brethren on both sides agree about the rule in deciding of this Coutroversie and make the written word the rule. They agree also about the materials, both acknowledging a Presbytery, the difference between them is only, about the mould and manner of the offering. I will therefore state the questions between us, and shew wherein we differ, and then set▪ down my own opinion with my reasons, and after en∣deavour to be a Moderator for the determining of this unhappy difference, which hath been an occasion of so much rejoycing to the common Enemy.
There is a two-fold question between us, they call the Presbyte∣rians, and our Brethren they tearme Independents. The first is concerning the government of the Church, vi•. whether it be Presbyterian Dependent, or Presbyterian Independent. The se∣cond question is, concerning the gathering of Churches: but of that in its due place. The first question is whether many Congre∣gations or Christian Assemblies (commonly called Churches in our dialect) in the which there are all the acts of worship, or all Ordinances, as the pure preaching of the Gospell, the due and right administration of the Sacraments, the true invocation of God, Discipline rightly executed, and all other performances, which make for the essence and form of a true Church, and in the which assemblies likewise, they have all such officers and helps of Government▪ as in their severall places being rightly imployed, may serve for the edification of the same, and mutuall comfort and benefit of each other, and the preservation ofall, as Presbyters, doth preaching and ruling and Deacons, and all other Officers; I say Page 8 the question between us and the brethren is, Whether all these severall Congregations and Assemblies, may be accounted but one Church, or make but one Church within their Precincts; and be to be under the government and rule of one Presbytery, or a Councell or Colledge of many Presbyters together, upon which, all the Congregations and severall Assemblies under it are to depend; and to which in all weighty businesses they are to ap∣peal, for any injury or conceived wrong, or scandall; or for re∣dresse of any abuses in Doctrine or manners, and for the exercising of Church-Discipline upon incorrigable and scandalous offenders; as admonition for giving offence, suspension from the Ordinances till amendment and reformation; or if obstinate, Excommuni∣on? Or whether every one of those particular Congregations, or Assemblies be they never so small, severally or considered a part, and by themselves be Independent; that is to say, have full and plenary authority within themselves, without reference to this, or any other great Councell or Presbytery, for transacting or deter∣mining all differences about faith or manners amongst themselves, or for the redressing of any grievances or abuses, or the exercising of the power of Discipline or jurisdiction, and from the which there is no appeal for relief, though the parties offended conceive they have never so much injury or wrong done them? In a word, whether two Presbyters with a slender Congregation, have an absolute kinde of Spirituall Soveraignty among themselves, in their own Congregation, and as ample authority as was given to the whole Colledge of the Apostles, Mat. 18. and to the whole Presbytery in the Church of Ierusalem? And this is the first Question: Which that it may the better be understood, I will propound it in a simile, and that in a matter well known unto all men: The government of this famous City of London, and of many other great Cities through the Kingdome, are called Cor∣porations, that is to say, majestracies; and have in them a Secular or Civill Signory or Presbytry, who are invested with Anthority to exercise all acts of Government amongst themselves, as if they were an absolute Principality; and this Government, by which all Citizens and inhabitants within their Precincts and liberties, are to be ruled and ordered, as occasion and necessity shall require, is committed to the Lord Mayors, Aldermen, and Common-Councell, who onely by such other Officers as they Page 9 shall elect and choose, are to manage and exercise this government so, that all particular Citizens, and all the Companies of severall Tradesmen, are in their particular Wards, Precincts, and Fellow∣ships, by their constitutions and Charter, to depend upon the deter∣mination of that Counsell, and are to make their addresses unto them upon any urgent occasion, or conceived wrong, or when it concerns the common good, and for the time to stand unto their ar∣bitrement. Now then, the question between us and our Brethren is, as if there should arise a controversie in these severall Corpora∣tions; Whether the Companies in each City where they all have their severall Halls, and their severall assemblies and meetings upon all occasions, and have all their Officers, and exercise also a power of ruling and jurisdiction among themselves be indepen∣dent, that is to say, have plenary authority within themselves without reference to the Lord Mayor or Aldermen or Common-counsell, to determine of all things among their severall Compa∣nies, and from the which there is no appeale for reliefe; though one be never so much injured and damnified by any unjust act; and whether these severall Companies and severall Assemblies be each of them a severall Corporation or Magistracy, or all of them put together make but one Corporation, under one civill Presby∣tery consisting of the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Common-counsell? This I thought fit to propound, that every one may the better understand the question. Now, as this kingdome of Eng∣land hath its severall Porporations through all Pounties, and the which Porporations, although they have their severall Pompa∣nies in them, yet are all dependent upon a civill Presbytery and Common-counsell, and every Company in them makes not a se∣verall Porporation or Magistracy, or a severall City, but are all dependent upon the Common-counsell or Presbytery, for the bet∣ter ordering and governing of them in all their common affaires, and for the redressing of abuses, and taking away and removing of common grievances, and have their severall appeals to the Common-counsell, the Lord Mayor, and Aldermen; and if they finde no justice there nor satisfaction, have their redresse and ap∣peal to some generall Court, or some supreame judicature, as to the Parliament of the Kingdome, who redresse and determine all things according to the lawes and constitutions of the whole Kingdome. So in the Kingdome of the Lord Jesus Christ, which Page 10 is his Church, all these severall Churches which we reade of in the holy Scrupture of the New Testament, are so many severall Corporations and Associations, all the severall congregations and assemblies as so many severall Companies in them, depend∣ing upon a Presbytery or Common-counsell and Colledge of Pa∣stors and Rulers, all making up but one Church in every one of their jurisdictions and severall Precincts, though they be consi∣stent of never so many severall Assemblies, according to the great∣nesse of the Cities or Townes wherein they are, or according to the severall Hundreds or Divisions assigned to each Presbytery, and all these severall associations to be groverned by their se∣verall Presbyteries for the better ordering and preserving of the same, to the which every particular man, as well as any Assem∣bly or Congregation, may have their appeal for the redresse of any abuses or enormities, and if they finde themselves wronged there, then they have appeals to some other higher Presbytery or Coun∣sell of Divines for relief and justice; and both they and all other of the severall Corporations to be governed and regulated by the Laws and Statutes given by Christ himself, the onely Head and King of his Church, according onely to whose laws they are to be governed and ruled for the common good and preservation of the whole Church, divided into those severall Jurisdictions, Cor∣porations or Precincts, in imitation as neer now as may be of the Churches of Ierusalem, Ephesus, Corinth, and Galatia, &c. and whose lawes alone must be the rule for the ordering of all their government, doctrine, and manners.
I have premised this I have now said, that all men may the bet∣ter understand the state of the Question and controversie in hand. Now then, if it shall be made appear out of the holy Scripture, That all the severall Churches we have mention of in the New Testament, were all particular corporations or associations, and governed by a Common-Councell of Presbyters, or by a Presby∣teriall government in each of them; and that there were many assemblies and congregations in those severall Churches, and all of them had their distinct Officers amongst themselves, in the which likewise they had all the Acts of Worship amongst them∣selves, and did partake in all ordinances of Church-fellowship, es∣pecially in the preaching of the Word, Prayer, & in the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lords Supper, and yet made but one Church, Page 11 and were all governed by a common-counsell of Presbyters, or by a common Presbyterie within their Precincts, then it must of necessity follow, that as the Mother-churches were first govern'd, all the Daughter-churches to the end of the world must be so go∣vern'd, and according to that rule that is set down in the Word of God. So then, the question in hand between us and our Bre∣thren is, Whether, there were many Congregations and Assemblies in any of those primitive Churches, as in that of Ierusalem the Mother Church, and many Elders or Presbyters in that Church, and all other Officers; and whether all those Congregations and Assemblies were one Church, and those Presbyters and Officers all of them Elders and Officers of that one Church, and whether all those Congregations and Assemblies were under one Presbytery? Which is the opinion of the Presbyterians, and the contrary that of the Independents. This I say is the question between us and our Brethren. Now then if it can be proved, that there were more Beleevers in the Church of Jerusalem then could all meet in one place, or in one congregation for all acts of worship; and if it can be evidently elucidated, that there were se∣verall assemblies and congregations in the Church of Jerusalem, & yet so, as they made but one church for government; then our Bre∣thren must of necessity acknowledge that the church of Jerusalem, was govern'd by a common-councell of Presbyters, or was presby∣terially governed. Neither did our Brethren ever yet undertake to prove, that in case there were many Assemblies in Jerusalem, they had severall and independent presbyteries, neither it they should go about to prove, could they do it. And therfore we may conclude, and that with very good reason and warrantable authority, that as the Mother-church, the church of Jerusalem, in her greatest glory was govern'd, so all other Churches must likewise be regulated to the end of the world; For out of Zion shal go forth the Law, & the Word of the Lord from Ierusalem, Isay 2. v. 3. We must have both our Law from thence, and our paterne of government. And out Brethren do make the Church of Jerusalem the patern of their proceedings.
Now that all things may be handled in good order and in a me∣thodicall way, I will reduce the whole Disputation concerning the first Question into these foure Propositions, and prove them in order. The first, That there were many Congregations and severall Assemblies of Beleevers in the Church of Ierusalem, in the which they enjoyed all acts of worship, and all the Ordinances amongstPage 12 themselves, and did partake of all acts of Church-fellowship, especi∣ally of preaching, and in the administration of the Sacraments and Prayer, and that before the Persecution we reade of, Acts 8. v. 1. The second, That all these Congregations and severall Assemblies made but one Church. The third, That the Apostles and Elders go∣verned, ordered, and ruled this Church, joyntly and by a Common∣counsell and Presbytery. The fourth, That this Church of Ierusalem and the government of the same, is to be a pattern for all severall con∣gregations and assemblies in any City or vicinity to unite into one Church; and for the Officers of those congregations to governe that Church joyntly in a Colledge or Presbyterie.
But before I come to the proof of these particulars, it will not be amisse in generall to take notice that all the Churches we read of in the New Testament, were Aristocratically and Presbyteri∣ally governed, and were all dependent upon their severall Pres∣byteries; and that the ordering and managing of that govern∣ment lay onely upon the Presbyterie; and was their peculiar who had the power of the Keyes. Now Christ gave the Keyes to the Apostles and Presbyters only, and whatsoever the Apostles did in ordering and setling the government of the Church, they did by Christs command; and that order and constitution they set down in the Church, was to be perpetuated and continued to the end of the world. And the violating of this order and di∣vine constitution, was the occasion of the rise and growth of An∣tichrist, and the very cause of all those confusions that the Christi∣an world hath for these many generations been wearied and an∣noyed with; and the occasion of all those Schismes, Sects, and Heresies the world hath ever swarmed with: and the re-establi∣shing and reducing of it to its pristine constitution, will be a means not only of removing all scandall, and taking away of all di∣vision amongst Brethren, and be a singular means also of establi∣shing a flourishing government in Church & State, and for the pro∣curing of the blessings of God upon the three Kingdoms, but a way also of ruining that Man of Sinne, and of making an absolute Re∣formation through the whole world.
Let us therefore first take notice what government was establi∣shed by God in all the Primitive Churches, Acts 14. 23. And when they had ordained them Presbyters (for so it is in the origi∣nall) in every Church, and had prayed with fasting, they commen∣dedPage 13them to the Lord, on whom they beleeved. Here are two things observable. The first that the government of the Church was committed to the Presbyters. The second, that the Presbyteriall government was that government that was established in every Church; for so saith the Holy Ghost, when they had ordained them Presbyters in every Church. This was Gods ordinance, Acts 20. 17. And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the Presby∣ters of the Church. Here we see there were many Presbyters in one Church. And Verse 28. Take heed therefore unto your selves, saith the Apostle, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you Bishops, to feed the Church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood. Here, as we may observe, that in Gods Dialect, Presbyters and Bishops were all one, so likewise is evident that the Church was committed to their government: this Church therefore of Ephesus was under a Presbytery, and was to be regulated joyntly by them by a common-councell of Presbyters. And Paul to Titus, chap. 1. vers. 5. For this cause, saith he, life I thee in Creet, that thou shouldest put in order the things that are wanting, and ordaine Presbyters in every City, as I appointed thee. If any man be blamelesse, &c. for a Bishop must be blamelesse as the Steward of God, &c. From this place likewise we may take notice of the parity between Presbyter and Bishop, and that the Presbyterian government was that way of ruling that God appointed, not in one City onely, but in every City, and that these Presbyters were the Stewards in Gods house, which is his Church, 1 Tim. 3. and had the government of those Churches in every City laid upon them, which they were joyntly to governe and order by the common-counsell of Presbyters. And Paul in his first Epistle to Timothy, chap. 5. v. 17. Let the Presbyters, saith he, that rule well, be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in word and doctrine. Still we ever observe, that the rule and government of the Church was in the Presbyters hands. And the Author to the Epistle to the Hebrews, ch. 13. 7. Remember, saith he, them that have the rule over you, who have spake unto you the Word of God, whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. And vers. 17. Obey, saith he, them that have the rule over you, and submit your selves, for they watch for your soules, as they that must give an account, &c. And in vers. 24. Salute all them, saith he, that have the rule over you, and all thePage 14Saints. Here againe he injoynes all the Churches to yeild obedi∣ence, and to submit themselves unto the government of the Pres∣byterie, shewing them that it is their place to obey, and for their Ministers to rule; and that so long as they command in the Lord, they out of conscience ought to obey them, and that for a double reason; For they watch, saith he, for your souls, and they must also give an account of their stewardship. And in 1 Peter 5, 1, 2, 3. The Presbyters that are among you, saith Saint Peter, I exhort, who am also a Presbyter, and a witnesse of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed; feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the over sight thereof, not by con∣straint, but willingly, &c. neither as being Lords over Gods he∣ritage, but being examples to the flock. And Saint James chap. 5. ver. 14. Is any among you sick? saith he, let him call for the Pres∣byters of the Church. He doth not say of the Churches, but of the Church. So that the Presbyterian government was in every Church, and every Church was to submit it self unto the Presby∣tery. And in Acts 15. it is said, that Paul and Barnabas went up to the Apostles and Presbyters, &c. And when they came to Ieru∣salem they were received of the Church (it is not said of the Chur∣ches, but of the Church) and of the Apostles and Presbyters, &c. and Verse 6. And the Apostles and Presbyters came together to consider of the matter, &c. and Vers. 22. Then pleased it the A∣postles and Presbyters with the whole Church, &c. and wrote Letters by them after this manner. The Apostles, and Presbyters, and Brethren. And Acts 21. 17. And when we were come to Ie∣rusalem, saith Saint Luke, the Brethren received us gladly. And the day following Paul went in with us in to Iames, and all the Presbyters were present. From all which places, and many more which might be produced, it is most clear and evident, that in all Cities there was a Presbytery, and that the Presbyters had the power of order, namely, of preaching, and the power of jurisdi∣ction, that is of ruling, which was ever to be exercised with o∣thers, and not alone; and that consisted in admitting of mem∣bers, and in conventing men before them upon occasion, in ad∣monishing if any offended, in suspending them from the holy Com∣munion till reformation or amendment; and if they continued obstinate and incorrigble, in excommunicating and casting of them out of the Church, and upon repentance, in receiving of Page 15 them in again, and in ordaining of Officers, and in appointing the times of meeting, and the places where.
And within these limits, as I conceive, is all the power given to the Presbyters terminated, and this they are by Gods Ordi∣nance joyntly and by the common-counsell of Presbyters to exer∣cise, and it peculiarly belongeth unto them; and therefore the Presbyterian government was the order of ruling and governing all Churches, that God himself established, and is to be continu∣ed unto the end of the world; neither do I ever read, that the people or the congregations were joyned with them in their com∣mission, or had any power given them of ruling. For Saint Paul professeth of himself in 1 Cor. 14. 37. that whatsoever he writ in his Epistles Were the Commands of the Lord. And the same may be said of all the other Apostles. Now Paul writ to Titus, that the Churches in all Cities should be governed by a Presbytery. And in the first Epistle to Timothy he commands Timothy again and a∣gain in chap. 5. vers. 21. and in chap. 6. v. 12, 13. I give thee charge in the sight of God, saith he, That thou keep this Command without spot, unblameable till the appearing of our Lord Iesus Christ. Here Timothy and all Ministers in him, are to the end of the world bound to maintain that government unblameable that was ap∣pointed by the Apostles; and that was the Presbyterian govern∣ment, and the ruling of all Churches by joynt consent, and a com∣mon counsell or Colledge of Presbyters; so that nothing ought to be done or transacted of publick concernment without their joynt and mutuall accord or agreement and common consent of the Presbytery. And therfore when Diotrephes assumed unto him∣self and his particular congregation a power and authority to rule according to his will and pleasure, without the consent of the Pres∣bytory, & opposed Iohn the Presbyter, he sharply reproves his pro∣ceedings and signifies to the Church Epist. 3. That when he came he would remember his words, and teach him how to prate against the Presbytery with malicious words; For he (saith S. Iohn) con∣tenteth not himself only to prate maliciously against us, but he will not receive his brethren, nor suffer others, but casteth them out of the Church; which is an evill thing in him; saith Saint Iohn: But for you, saith he, speaking to the Church, follow not that which is evill but that which is good. It was evill in him to assume unto himself alone, and his particular Congregation, that power that Page 16 belonged unto the colledge or councell of Presbyters, and was to be moderated and exercised onely by the conjoynt and com∣mon consent of the Presbytery. For God had appointed, that his Church should be governed by a Presbytery; and Diotrephes would have his Congregation Independent, and have an absolute jurisdiction within it self, Which, saith Saint Iohn, is an evill thing. So that I cannot but wonder our brethren the Independents should call Diotrephes the Patriarch of the Presbyterians, as one of them did to me not long since; whereas if the place be du•∣ly weighed and considered; it will appear that he was the first that opposed the Presbyterian Govenment, and for the which he was by Saint Iohn sharply reproved, and in him, all that follow his steps, and will not submit themselves to the Presbytery which is Gods Ordinance, and that will not receive the brethren into the Churches, but upon their own termes and conditions. But of this businesse when I come to the second Question.
In the mean time I must here make reply to what Mr Knollys by way of Answer hath to say to this Argument drawn from Dio∣trephes his practise which was occasioned as I related before, by reason of a discourse between me and an Independent, who affir∣med, That Diotriphes was the patriarch of all the Presbyterians: which opinion of his Mr Knollys doth seem to favour, as by his words may appear, but I hope to make the contrary more evident then yet it hath been, viz. That Diotrephes was the primate of the Independents, and of all those of the congregationall way. But first I will set down Mr Knollys his words at large, to take away all occasions of their calumniating tongues, who ordinarily use to say, That we keep from the world their Arguments, that we may the better delude the people, and hold them in ignorance. His words therefore by way of answer to that Argument are these.
Now let the reader judge (saith he) whether the Doctor be not much mistaken in his commentary exposition and application of this place of Scripture. And let me give you to understand, that Saint Iohn saith verse the 9. I wrote unto the Church. But seeing no men∣tion is made of any particular congregation, how can the Doctor so confidently affirme that it was his particular congregation? Now the reader may see plainly, that the Doctor can expound those bre∣thren and their Elders or Presbyters, which the Scripture calls a Page 17 Church, to be a particular congregation. And what it was which Saint Iohn had written to the Church is not in this Epistle, nor in any other Scripture delcared, except it was, to receive those brethren which he saith ver. 8 ought to be received, and ver. 10 whom Diotre∣phes would not receive, how then doth the Doctor say that Diotre∣phes assumed that power to himselfe, which belonged unto the Col∣ledge and Councell of Presbyters, without whose joynt and mutuall agreement, and common consent nothing ought to be done or trans∣acted of publike concernment? is the receiving of brethren, or cast∣ing out of brethren a power which belongs to a colledge of Presbyters, and neither the one nor the other may be transacted by the Elders and Brethren of a particular congregation unlesse the Court or common-councell of Presbyters conjoyntly consent unto it? Let it be also considered, that D otrephes opposed the brethren and forbad them that would have received those who Saint John saith vers. the 8. we ought to receive, yea and cast them out verse 10. of the Church, to wit, ex∣communicate them. Doth it hereby appear that Diotrephes would have his congregation Independent, and have an absolute jurisdiction within it selfe? No, but Diotrephes would lord it over the Church, and have the preeminency above his brethren, whether fellow-Elders or fellow Saints. Diotrephes loving the primacy amongst them, he would be the Primate and Metropolitan of the Church, and have the preeminency of all the Presbyters in it, and brethren of it. The Doctor could have urged this Scripture against the domineering Prelates, and why should he marvell, that his brethren should now urge it against the Court of Presbyters. It is confest that Diotrephes did that which was evill in usurping authority over the Church and those brethren he cast out of the Church; But that he was the first that opposed the Presbyterian government, or that he did affront a Court or common▪councell of Presbyters, it is more then I know, or the Doctor can prove. For had Diotrephes done so, why was he not convented before them? Surely the Apostle Saint Iohn would rather have written to the colledge of Presbyters (if there were any such) then to the Church, or in writing to the Church, would tather have sent him a summons to appear at some consistory before the Court and common-councell of Presbyters, then to warne them to take heed of hi• evill, that they did not follow it. And doubtlesse St John would have writen thus: Diotrephes loves to be a Primate amongst you, wherefore when the Presbytry, that is to say, the Ma∣gistracy Page 18 or Signiory of grave, solid, learned, religious, and wise Di∣vines and Ministers come to keep order, and meet together in a Court and common-councell, I will remember his deeds, and informe, or complain to the Court and common-councell of Presbyters, that he prates against us (the Presbyters) with malicious words. But the Apostle Saint Iohn (did not know any Court or Common-councell of Presbyters, neither Classicall nor Synodicall, to appeal unto) Nor can the Doctor make good those appeals he mentioneth page 10▪ to be according to the Scripture of truth, to wit, that every particular man, as well as any assembly or congregation, may have their appeals to the Presbytry of their Precinct, hundred, or division under whose jurisdictions they were, and if they found themselves wronged there, that they have appeals to some other higher Presbytry or Councell of Divines for releefe and justice. I only aske the Doctor how he can prove those appeals by Scripture; and if he could, whether that higher Presbytry or councell of Divines (especially if they may say the Holy Ghost and wee) be not as Independent as these brethren and their churches, against whom the Doctor hath written. And if so, then such a high Presbytry or councell of Divines, is not Gods Or∣dinance by the Doctors own confession and affirmation. Therefore the Apostle writes to the Church or particular congregation where∣of Diotrephes was a Member and an Elder, whom he knew had pow∣er to judge him as well as the Church or particular congregation of Corinth had power to judge them that were members therein, 1 Cor. 5. 12. 13. and therefore might as warantably admonish Diotrephes as the Church of Colosse might Archipus: Coloss. 4. 17. And if nothing of publike concernment ought to be done or transacted with∣out the joynt and mutuall accord or agreement, and common consent of the Presbytry; Iohn the Presbyter would not have transgressed so farr, as to take upon himselfe this authority over Diotrephes to tell the Church of his faults, and to say, he would remember him and sharply reprove him, and teach him to prate against the Presbytry with malicious words, which belonged unto the Court and common-councell of Presbyters. But I shall have a just occasion to say more touching this matter, in the answer unto the third question, and therefore passing by the objection with his answer mentioned page 19. to the 29. unto its due place. I shall desire seriously to consider the Doctors proof of his first proposition, which he laboureth first by pro∣ducing such Scriptures, as he conceiveth make for the manifestation Page 19 of the truth, and from thence frames and formeth his arguments. Thus Mr Knollys in way of reply speaketh to my argument con∣cerning Diotrephes and of his intention what he will do in the in∣suing discourse to all the other arguments.
I have here set down his words at large, omitting only the greek and latin texts which he School-boy-like scribleth, to little other purpose than to shew his own vanity, and to perswade the ignorant people, that he is some-body in the Greeke and Latine tongue (which kind of learning notwithstanding the most of his fraternity generally despise and contemne) I have therefore omit∣ted them, especially having learned this lesson from Saint Paul, 1 Cor. chap. 13. vers. 19. rather to speak five words to the under∣standing of the people, that I might teach others, then ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. And truly unlesse there be some con∣troversie concerning the Interpretation or about the text (as there is not here) I conceive it the greatest folly in the world; writing in the vulgar tongue and for the common benefit of all men, to insert sentences either of Greek or Latin, except very varly; for it but pudders the reader that is not skilled in the languages, neither do we finde that it was the custome either of the holy Prophets, or a∣ny of the ancient Greek or Roman fathers in all their Writings or Sermons, to use any, but their vulgar tongue without it were very seldom and that with interpretation. I say therefore, those flashes being excepted I have punctually set down all that he had to say against any of my arguments both here and every where, that nei∣ther he nor any of his party may complain, that I had not set down their words in their full strength, and so might fall into the same condemnation with him, who hacketh and minseth my arguments at pleasure, picking and choosing what he thinks himself best able to deal with, either wholly omitting the other or slighting of them which is the ordinary method both of Mr Knollys, J. S. and my brother Burton and all the Independents, wherein they deal not fairly with me, nor ingenuously nor candidly with the people: for in so doing they delude them and meerly play the jug∣lers.
This large discourse of Master Knollys, if it be well weighed, hath but little substance in it, it consisting of absurdities and contraditi∣ons and flat denyalls of that which he often granteth. In breife, if the reader will but duly consider every passage of his answer, Page 20 with whathe grants in the third and the 11. pages of his pamplet, he will speedily perceive, that whiles he labours to confute others, he gives a fatall blow to his own cause, and overthrowes that opinion which both he and all those of the congregationall way labour to maintaine, and withall by the examination of the particulars he will the better discerne into the futility of Master Knollys and the vani∣ty of those of his party, that beleeve & take every word of his, for an Oracle though it be never so distructive totheir own cause. The sum of this his answer is this, that I ammistaken in my comentary expo∣sition and application of this place of Scripture. These are his words.
It will not be amisse therefore, in the first place to take notice what he denyeth in his answer, and what he affirmeth, with the reasons of both, that the reader may the more easily perceive the vanity of error and the force and efficacy of truth. First he denyeth that Diotrephes would have had an absolvte juris∣diction within himself and have had his Congregation indepen∣dent, and that he was the first that opposed the Presbyterian Go∣vernment, or that he had any particular congregation: He deneyeth also that Saint Iohn knew any Court or Common counsell of Pres∣byters either Classicall or Synodicall to appeale to his time. The reasons of his denyals are these. First, because saith he, there is no mention made of any particular congregation Diotrephes had. Secondly, it is not declared what it was that Saint Iohn had writ unto the Church in his Epistle nor in any other Scripture, except it were to receive those brethren which Diotrephes would not receive and therfore, how saith God can the D• affirme that Diotrephes as∣med theypower to himself which belonged unto the Colledge and councell of Presbyters &c? and to prove that Diotrephes was not the first that opposed the Presbyterian government, he saith, had he done so, then he should have been convented before them, which he was not; and therefore he did not oppose a Court or common Councell of Presbyters. Besides Saint Iohn would then have wrot rather to the Colledge of Presbyters (if they had been any such) than to the Church, or in writing to the Church would rather have sent him a summons to appeare at some Consistory, than to warne them to take heede of his evill, that they did not follow it, and doubtlesse he would have written thus. Diotrephes loves to be a Primate amongst you: therefore when the Presbytery comes to keepe order, and to meet together in a Court common Coun∣cell, Page 21 I will remember his deeds, and informe and complaine to the Court that he prats against us with malicious words. Now when neither of this was done by the Presbytry, nor by Saint▪ Iohn, it is manifest that Diotrephes did not oppose the Presbytry, and that Saint Iohn then knew not of any Court or common coun∣cell of Presbyters either Classicall or Synodicall to appeale to in his time. And then in the third place he putteth me upon the proofe of those appeales I made mention of page 10. affirming that I can∣not make them good: And in the last place, he afferteth that Saint Iohn w•it to the Church and particular congregation whereof Diotrephes was a member, and that, that congregation had power to judge of him, and the reason of this his assertion, is, because saith he, this Church had the same power over Diotrephes, that the Church of Corinth and that of Colosse had over their members.
Having thus briefly set down what Master Knollys both denies and affirmes with the reasons of each, I shall now answer to every severall branch in order; and if I be the more large in my reply, I crave pardon, in regard it is not only a businesse of publicke con∣cernment and about the principle question now in debate, but that it will give the more light to the wholo following discourse.
For answer therefore to his reason of my mistake, in my com∣mentary exposition and application of that place of Scripture viz: that there is no mention made of any particular congregation that Diotrephes had, I say, there was no neede of making any mention of it: For if there were many Presbyters in all the Primative and Apostolicall churches, and in that Church by name in which Dio∣trephes was Presbyter as it is evident out of all the places above quoted as out of the 14. of the Acts and the 15. and 20. and 21. of the same booke and the Epistle of Paul to Tit. Chap. 1. ver. 5. and the 1. Epist. o•Pet. chap 5. ver. 1. 2. 3. and the 13. of the Heb. and Saint Iames the 5. and the 3. Epistle of Saint Iohn which Master Knollys himself acknowledgeth and if it be also apparently evi∣dent from all those severall Scriptures, (as it is) that those Pres∣byters were fixed with in their particular jurisdictions, with a speciall charge given them in common, to looke unto the flocks committed unto their charge, and to feede the Church of God which he had redeemed with his precious blood, which word feede includes the Keys, to wit, the power of order and preaching and the authority of jurisdiction and rule, and from the which charge Page 22 they were not to depart, as too too many of the Independent Mini∣sters now amongst us dayly do, leaving the poore sheepe in the wil∣dernesse: I say when all these things are evident out of the holy Scripture it necessarily followeth, when Diotrephes was an Elder and Presbyter in that Church Saint Iohn writ unto, which Master Knollys confesseth, that he had there his particular congregation, and therfore there was no neede of making any mention of it: for very common reason will dictate thus much, to any man, that if any great grasier have ten or twelve thousand sheepe and many severall walks and places of pasturage to feed them in, and hath severall pastours to looke unto them all, as not a few Shephards can feede ten or twelue thousands sheepe, and gives them all a charge in common of looking to his sheepe and feeding them, although all those severall pastours are to have a generall care of all those sheep that have his marke upon them, and that are within the limits of his severall walks and grasing places, yet it is to be understood, that every one of them hath his severall flocke committed to him in speciall for he must not be idle, over the which he is to have the particular inspection and care for the well ordering of it, with this limitation, that he may not wrong the flocke, or do any thing con∣trary unto his Masters pleasure, or to the dammage or prejudice of his other fellow Pastours or their flocke: All this I say, good reason will dictate to any rationall man, and dayly experience will confirme it.
In the same manner things were ordered, in the primitive and Apostolicall Churches, all whose Elders and Pastours in them, had the charge of the severall flocks committed to them in com∣mon, all the which they were to governe communi consilio presby∣terorum as it is by all the Independents themselves confest: for all those Churches were Aristocratically and Presbyterianly go∣verned: and therefore according to the wisdome and common councell of their Elders, this Presbyter had the charge of the sheepe of such a ward or walke committed unto his care; and that Elder had such a Circuit committed unto his charge, and a third Elder had such a precinct committed to his cure, and so of the rest, with this proviso alwayes, that all things of publicke concernment, and that tended to the common good both of sheep and Pastours should be ordered by the joynt and common coun∣cell of the severall and respective Presbyters in an orderly and Page 23 well regulated way: for all things in the Church were to be done in order and decency and uniformitie which could never have been, if every Pastour and Presbyter and every particular congre∣gation under them severally would have governed as pleased themselves, without any reference to the Colledge or common counsell of all the Presbyters, which was the failing of Diotrephes here, for which he was greatly blam'd by Saint Iohn. And that all those Churches were to be governed by their severall Presby∣tries, and that the people were not to intermeddle with the go∣vernment of them Master Knollys himselfe in the third page of his pamphlet and in the eleventh of the same doth accord, who citing my words in my introduction to my booke deduceth from them foure conclusions, which I shall by and by set downe after I have related the grounds of them.
Before (saith he) the Doctor comes to proove his four particu∣lar Propositions, he saith it will not be amisse in generall to take no∣tice that all the Churches we read of in the new testament were ari∣stocratically and Presbyterially Governed, and were all Dependent upon the severall Presbyters, and produceth divers places of Scrip∣ture to prove the same, and two sheets are spent wholly in proving thereof, from the 12 page to the 29. These words Mr Knollys quo∣teth out of my book. Now hear his answer. All which (saith he) should it be granted, onely proves. First, that in every City or Church there was a Presbytery, For they Ordained them Elders in every Church, Act. 14. That thou Ordain Elders City by City, Tit. 1. v. 5. Secondly, that as there were Apostles and Elders in the church of Jerusalem, so there were Elders, in the church of Ephesus Acts the 20. ver. 25. and in the church of Corinth and in the church of Galatia and Philippy, &c. Thirdly, that those severall chur∣ches were dependent, upon their several Presbyteries, and they were to obey them who had the rule over them, Hebr. 13. 7. 17. 24. Who were their guids, obey your guids. Fourthly, that this Presbyterian church Government God hath appointed as his Ordinance to be continu'd to the end of the World, the which whosoever resisteth, resisteth the Ordinance of God. These are the foure conclusions Master Knolleys gathereth out of my arguments, but with all adds, saying, that all this doth not prove, that this Presbyterian Church government is dependent upon a supreame judicature, to the Decrees of which they must submit themselves and their churches. This saith Mr. Knollys doth not follow; but of that in its due place.
Page 24 In the mean time it will be much to the purpose, a little to consider his expressions. All which saith he) should it be gran∣ted proves: First, &c. to wit, the four conclusions now layd down in this place, I intreat the Reader to behold the vanity of the man, in so speaking, all which sh•uld •t be granted, as if he did me a great courtesie and favour to yeeld unto me, that which the holy Scripture in ex•resse wo•ds declareth o be the will and plea∣sure of God and that which I had out of the blessed word of truth sufficiently ev need, and which no man can deny, except he will deny the Scripture and Word of God which hath perspicu∣ously and in fo mall termes set own, that there was a Colledge & Presbyte ie of Elders, orda ned and constituted in very Church or City who were to have the rule over the people in their severall congre•ations, within their •r•cin •s wch M Knollys himself con∣senteth unto, as is evident by his 4 conclusions. So that if ever there had been any time of denying or not granting, that all the Chur∣ches of the New Iestament were all Ar•stocratically and Presby∣terianly to be govern'd, and were so many severall Eccle a••icall Corpo ations, and that all those Scriptures I had produced for the proof of the same, had not been rightly applyed and alleadged, now had been the time (when this businesse was in question and agitation) for Mr Knollys to have shewen his skill and to have produced the reasons of his dislike and gain-saying, but when he confirmed what I proved, as is manifest from his four conclusions it is a great folly in the man, to say, all which should it be granted, when he himselfe acknowledgeth as much, and in expresse terms in the eleventh page of his book hath these words; It is not denyed (saith he) by the brethren, (meaning the Independents) that the Presbyters in all Churches, were the men in the Government of the Churches, in which they were Elders: These are his own words, by which he consen•s to that I had written to be true, to wit, that all the Churches of the New Testament were all Aristocratically to be governed, that is, that all the particular congregations under the severall Presbyters were to be moderated and regulated Communi consilio Presbyteram: so that if every Congregat on and particular assembly, then the pastor and Elder also of that congre∣gation, as being but a chie•e member of it, is to be ordered and governed by the joynt and common councell of the whole col∣ledge of Presbyters, and that by Mr Knollys his own concession Page 25 from which grant of his, I shall now likewise deduce these ensu∣ing conclusions, which will necessarily follow out of his words, and all of them fatall to his own principles, and to the opinion of those of the congregationall way.
The first, that the people are wholly excluded from Govern∣ment in the Church; for saith he, It is not denyed by the brethren, that the Presbyters in all Churches, were the men in Government of the Churches, in which they were Elders: So that the people and Church though presbyterated (as they speak) have not the government in their hands, as indeed they have not, as never ha∣ving received the Keyes, nor never having been made stewards of the Church, nor joyned in Commission with the Elders, and there∣fore they can never either receive in members, or cast out offen∣ders; for all these are acts of Government and belong onely to the Rulers of the Church, whom the people are ever to obey in the Lord, as he granteth, and by this he overthrows all that which af∣terward he affirms, that the Church or Congregation of which Diotrephes was an Elder, had power over him; and this is the first conclusion, that of necessity followeth out of Mr Knollys his words; but more of this in the sequell of this discourse.
The second conclusion that follows out of his words is this That the Government was not put into the hands of any one El∣der with his Congregation, but into the hands of many Elders, that is, into the hands of the whole Presbytery, to wit, the Court or Colledge of Presbyters; so that they, and they only, joyntly and together, had the power, both to question, convent and censure; for M. Knollys saith, It is not denyed by the brethren, but that the Presby∣ters in al churches were the men in the government: according to that of S. John If I come, I will remember his deeds which he doth prating against us. So that whosoever shall, Diotrephes like, indeavour to al∣ter this government, and assume it to themselves from the other Elders and from the Presbyters, or to invest the people with it, or joyn them in commission with the Elders, or to arrogate unto themselves or to their particular congregations, an absolute juris∣diction within themselves, and an Independency from them; and shall go about to disgrace and prate against the Presbyters, and la∣bour to bring them into the hatred of the people, and shall take this liberty at pleasure, to cast out whom they will out of their congregations, or to bring in whom they please upon their Page 26 owne tearmes and conditions, and exercise an absolute Lordly Do∣minion amongst themselves over their congregations and the severall members in them, all such are guilty of Diotrephes his sinne, and offend in like manner, and are equally to be blamed as assumers unto themselvs of that power which only belongeth to the presbytery; now when all the Independents are guilty of this crime, they may justly with Diotrephes be censurd: and this is the second conclusion that necessarily followeth from Mr. Knollys his words.
The third is this, that there were many congregations in all the primitive churches, and yet made all of them within their severall precincts and jurisdictions but one church; for so it was here in the church that Saint Iohn writeth unto, where there were many Elders as Master Knollys confesseth, in the which every Elder had his particular congregation as well as Diotrephes, for they were no way inferiour to him; so that, if he had his particular con∣gregation they each of them severally had their congrega∣tions likewise, and yet they were all of them to be governed and ruled communi consilio presbyterorum, which kind of govern∣ment Diotrephes opposing, or refusing obedience unto, and af∣fecting a Supremacy and jurisdiction to himselfe and his con∣gregation independent from the presbytery, was justly blamed by the Apostle Saint Iohn, in that he prated against the presbyters with malicious words. So that by all that I have now said, these three positions are clearely manifest which Master Knollys denyeth, viz: the first, That Diotrephes had a particular congrega∣tion. The second that he affected an absolute jurisdicton within himselfe and to have his congregation independent, and that he was the first that opposed the presbyterian government; for we never read of any that prated malicious words against the Pres∣byterie before. The third that the church that Saint Iohn writ unto, was governed by the common counsell of the Presbytery at that time, and that Saint Iohn did then acknowledge a Court and com∣mon councell of Presbyters both Classicall and Synodicall to ap∣peale unto, all which Master Knollys notwithstanding doth per∣emptorily deny. But for the fuller elucidation of the truth, I will first make all these propositions good from Master Knollys his own words in this his answer, and then I will prove those seve∣rall appeales I made mention of page 10. and after that, evidently evince that the people and congregation in any Church have Page 27 not power to judge their Ministers, and that it is a meare babble in M. Knollys to say, that if nothing of publicke concernment were to be done without the joynt consent of the Presbytery, that then Saint Iohn the Presbyter would not have transgressed so farre as to take upon him this authority over Diotrephes, to tell the Church of his faults &c. all these things I will methodically handle, and then go on to answer whatsoever Master Knollys hath to say to all my other arguments in their due places.
And for proofe, that Diotrephes had a particular congregation, which Master Knollys saith there was no mention of, waving the reasons above specified, from that nigh relation that is be∣tweene a Pastor and a flocke, which is so much urged by all the Independents, I say waving all those reasons, I will make use of Master Knollys his owne words, for it may be, he will beleeve himselfe, and perhaps his Disciples and followers and those of the congregationall way will give more credit to him, whom they accompt very learned, then to any thing I can pro∣duce out of the holy Scripture: and if they will duly consider and ponder his expression they will then perceive not only his errors, but how palpably he everywhere contradicteth him∣selfe and woundeth their cause, and everteth their opinion, whiles he laboureth with all his power to maintaine and defend it.
Diotrephes (saith he) opposed the brethren and forbad them that would have received them, yea and cast them out (ver. 10.) of the Church; to wit, excommunicated them; but doth it hereby appear (saith he) that Diotrephes would have his congregation indepen∣dent? and have an absolute jurisdiction within it selfe? N• (saith he) but, Diotrephes would lord it over the Church, and have the Preeminency above his brethren, whether fellow Elders or fellow Saints. By the way, take notice, that in Master Knollys his opinion, Diotrephes was a Saint, Saint Diotrephes therfore let him be even such another Saint as himselfe and his brethren are. Diotrephes (saith he) loving the primacy amongst them, would be the Primate and Metropolitan of the Church, and have the pre∣eminency of all the Presbyters in it, and brethren of it. And why therefore should the Doctor marvell that his brethren should now urge this place against the Court of Preshyters? Thus Master Knollys while he seemes to answer, most maliciously and wicked∣ly calumniates his brethren and labours to perswade the world Page 28 that the presbyters of our times are like Diotrephes, in affecting Supremacy over their fellow Presbyters and over the churches; and all this to inrage the people against them, when it is they them∣selves, that would bring all men under their slavery, and have an absolute authority and jurisdiction Independent in their seve∣rall congregations within themselves, which was the sinne of Diotrephes. But out of Master Knollys his words, it appeareth that Diotrephes had a particular congregation: For Church and congregation are Synonimaes in his Dialect, which is yet more clearely evident from his words page the 7. which are these: Therefore (saith he) the Apostle writs to the Church or particu∣lar congregation, whereof Diotrephes was a member and an Elder, who he knew had power to judge him. These are Master Knollys formall expressions; out of all which it doth now evidently ap∣peare, that there were many Presbyters and many congregati∣ons in that Church Saint Iohn writeth unto, and that Diotrophes had his particular congregation amongst them; for so Master Knollys doth in expresse termes acknowledge, and in so spea∣king contradicts himselfe, and vindicates me from the error he ac∣cused me of, who affirmed, I was much mistaken in my commentary exposition and application of that place, saying there was no mention made of any particular congregation Diotrephes had, And yet here he asserteth that Saint Iohn writ to the church or particular con∣gregation, whereof Diotrephes was a member and an Elder: so that he hath done my worke for me once and again, and made himselfe guiltie of that fault he charged me with page 6 and page 7. By which all men may see not only the contentious∣nesse and restlesnesse of the creatures spirit, and the folly of the man who contradicteth himselfe at every hand, but may also gather that that Church consisted of many congregations, all the which made but one Church within its precinct, and was to be governed by the joynt consent and common counsell of the Presbyterie; and that Diotrephes aspiring to the primacy amongst them and seeking to stand singular by himselfe with his congregation, and to be Independent, and to have no relation or reference to the Presbyters of that Church, became an of∣fender by it, and was therefore severely reproved by Saint Iohn for his so doing, in opposing his brethren in taking in and casting out of what members he pleased, by his sole and absolute authority; Page 29 all which Mr Knollys accordeth to: whether therefore this were not to make his congregation Independent, and whether Diotre∣phes was not the first that opposed the Presbyterian government, and affronted a Court and common▪councell of Presbyters (seeing we read of none that did these things before him) and whether those that now seek to establish an absolute jurisdiction in every congregation within themselves Independent, be not rather like Diotrephes than those godly Ministers that desire the government in common according to Gods holy word, I leave it to the judge∣ment of the learned to consider; and whether or no Mr Knollys doth not palpably contradict himselfe in all this his discourse: for he acknowledgeth that Diotrephes had his particular congre∣gation and opposed the Presbyters in it, and that he did evill in usurping authority over the church and those brethren he cast out: and yet notwithstanding he said it was more then he knew, or I could prove. Whether this therefore be not to contradict himself and to say and unsay and meerly to trifle, I leave to the judgement of all intelligible men.
I conceive that all men that are but of ordinary capacity, when they shall well consider my argument and Mr Knollys his reply unto it, will say▪ that Diotrephes assumed that power to himselfe, which belonged to the Colledge and councell of Presbyters; for if he had not bin a transgressour, and an offender against Saint Iohn and the other Presbyters, the Apostle would never have said, Wherefore if I come▪ I will remember his deeds which he doth, pra∣ting against us with malicious wordes, &c. so that by us there, must necessarily be understood, Saint John himselfe and the other Pres∣byters; for he includes himselfe in the number of those that Dio∣trephes prated against and opposed. Now Saint John was an El∣der, for so he calleth himselfe, and Mr Knollys acknowledgeth it, and confesseth also that there were many more Elders in that Church, and against all those did Diotrephes prate with malicious words in opposition to their authority, which Mr Knollys doth not gain-say, yea he affirmrth it, that Diotrephes would lord it over the Church, and have the preeminency above his brethren, whether fellow-Elders or fellow-Saints, he would be Primate, saith he, and Metropolitan of the Church, and have the preeminency of all the Presbyters in it, and Brethren of it. Doth it not then sufficiently appear from Mr Knollys his own words, that Diotrephes assumed Page 30 that power to himselfe, that belonged to the Colledge and coun∣cell of Presbyters, and that he was the first that opposed the Pres∣byterian government, and that affronted the common-councell of Presbyters? without speaking of malicious words against them, & lording it over the Church and taking in and casting out of mem∣bers and ruling after an arbitrary way, and with a sole power and authority within himselfe in his congregation, and violating that order of government God had established in that Church, be not in Mr Knollys▪ and those of his parties judgement, to assume that authority to himselfe that belonged unto the councell of Presby∣ters, and openly to oppose the Presbyterian government, and to affront all the Presbyters which were ridiculous in any man to af∣firme? I am confident all intelligible Christians will say, there was never any opposition of any court or councell of Presbyters, if this were not; and yet Mr Knollys saith it is more then he knoweth or I can prove, that Diotrephes assumed that power to himselfe that belonged unto the Colledge of Presbyters, or that he opposed the Presbyterian government, and yet acknowledgeth the thing in for∣mall words; whether therefore he doth not again and again contra∣dict himselfe and confirme my argument and fight against his own opinion, I leave it to the judgement of the learned.
I shall also desire the reader seriously to consider with himselfe, whether these words of Saint Iohn, Wherfore if I come, saith he, I will remember his deeds which he doth, prating against us with malicious words, do not necessarily inferre, that there was a Court and common-councell of Presbyters in that Church to appeal, un∣to in Saint Iohns time? For to what purpose otherwise should St. Iohn have said, If I come, I will remember his deeds, if there had bin no power and authority in that Church to have called Diotre∣phes to an accompt and to have punished and censured him? But, saith Mr Knollys; If Diotrephes had affronted the Court and com∣mon-councell of Presbyters, why was he not convented before them? Surely the Apostle and Elder Saint John, would rather have writ to the Colledge of Presbyters (if there had bin any such) than to the Church, and would rather have sent him a summons to appear at some Consistory, and would have writ thus, Diotrephes loves to be a Primate among you; wherefore when the Presbytry come to keep or∣der and to meet together in a councell, I will remember his deeds and informe against him that he pra•e• against us with malicious words;Page 31but the Apostle did not know of any such Court or councell of Pres∣byters to appeal unto. Thus Mr Knollys triflingly cavilleth: As if Saint Iohn and the Presbyters had been all ignorant of their duty, and as if in writing unto the Church, Saint Iohn did not in that write to the Presbyters in it also, as well as Christ writing unto the seven Churches and in sending unto them did not also write unto the Angels and Presbyters in them, when we learne from all those Epistles and from the holy Scripture that the government of all those seven churches, as of all the Apostolicall churches through the world, lay only on the Presbyters shoulders, which Mr Knollys also assenteth unto, saying page 11. That it is not denyed by the bre∣thren, that the Presbyters in all Churches, were the men in the go∣vernment of the Churches in which they were Elders. So that it cannot be denied but in his writting to the Church, he writ unto the Pres∣byters principally who were the Officers in it and the cheife mem∣bers of it, and knew very well that there was a Court of Presbyters in that Church, who would in convenient time have called Diotrephes to an accompt, though Saint Iohn had never come thither; but he signifying that when he came he would remember his deeds, made them retard their proceeding against him, for a time, that he being a fellow-Presbyter with them (as Peter was, with those Presbyters he writs unto 1 Epistle Pet. chap. 5.) might have the hearing of the cause amongst the other Presbyters; all which sufficiently confirmeth that Saint Iohn did acknowledge a common councell of presbyters in that Church to appeale unto. And therefore all Master Knollys his whibling questions are vaine and meerely to delude the people: for what man is there so stupid or so unexperienced in matters of government, or but understands the practice of our times in every corporation, or Committee, through the Kingdome, that knowes not if any Alderman of any Corporation, or any Commissioner of any Committee should affect a particu∣lar domination to himselfe over his fellow-Aldermen or Com∣missioners, or over the people that were under their charge, whenas they are by their charters and Commissions, to governe their several corporations, Hundreds, Rapes, Ridings or Wapentaks by the common consent, and joynt counsell and aggreement of them all, so that no order made without their combined authority or the joynt consent of them all, or the major part of them, Page 32 should be binding and of force, I say, who doth not know, that if any of those Aldermen or Commissioners contrary unto their Charter or Commission should not onely assume unto himself a particular power of ruling and ordering things by himselfe, and of giving Lawes unto others and in bringing in or putting out, either in the Corporation or Committee, whom they pleased; and should also use disgracefull words against their fellow-Aldermen or Com∣missioners, that any either Alderman or Commissioner doing any of these things, doth not oppose the Corporation & Committee with the commissioners in them, and by that offend against their go∣vernment, and deserveth thereby severely to be punished? And who doth not likewise know, that if either any of the Aldermen or any of the Commissioners should understand of this their disor∣derly carriage, and should informe the Corporation or Committee of it by letters, and say, that when he came he would remember his deeds, by these his expressions doth not acknowledge likewise that there is both in the corporation and committee a standing court, in which there was power at all times for the punishing and censuring of any such offender? I am most assured that he will so conclude that there is a court there, and withall will say, that this or that commissioners information doth no way impeach or hinder the proceedings of that court, or minorise its power, but that it may go on to censure such as shall offend against their authority, if it can be proved by others, though that commissio∣ner that informed against him should not be present. And even so it was in the Church Saint John writ unto, it had a court, and power within it selfe of proceeding against Diotrephes, and would have used it against him, whether S. Iohn had come or no, although we may suppose that they did not proceed against him till Saint Iohn came: yea, I shall make it good out of Mr Knollys his words that there was a court in that church. But by this, I say, it appear∣eth that Saint Iohn knew very well that there was a court or coun∣cell of Presbyters to appeal unto in his time, in that church, though Mr Knollys affirmeth the contrary, peremptorily asserting that S. Iohn knew no such Court to appeal to, and that I cannot prove any such appeals. But it is ordinary with M. Knollys to confute the holy Scriptures, and to contradict himself as he doth both here and in all other of his answers, as in their due places we shall see. For what Christian ever with deliberation did read the Scripture, that Page 33 can beleeve that St. Iohn could be ignorant that there was a court and Presbytry in every church, when M. Knollys himself acknow∣ledgeth it? Without doubt Saint Iohn knew the government that was then established in all churches, as well as Mr Knollys. He could not be ignorant what government God had appointed & established in every church which was a Presbytery (as appear∣eth from all the places above quoted) which was a Court, to wit, a company of officers in every church armed with power & authori∣ty from God himself within their severall Presbytries to order, rule and govern the people under them, and to convent any offender be∣fore them and to proceed against him by censure and punishment: If the crime layd against him were sufficiently proved, and that the people under them were to yeild obedience unto them in the Lord, such a power was every Presbytery invested with through all the Apostolicall churches; and this Mr Knollys hath acknowledged in divers places in this his Pamphlet, & in this his very answer concer∣ning Diotrephes, as we shall see by and by. And all this S. Iohn could not be ignorant of, and that in the Church of Ierusalem, in which hee was both a Pastor and a Member, that the Presbytery ru∣led there, and that all the people made their addresses (as well for the good of their soules, as for the better rectifying of abuses) to the Apostles and Presbyters of that Church, and appealed alwayes unto them, and never applyed themselves unto the people or the multitude, as we may see in these particulars: as,
First, when they were pricked in their hearts, they applied them∣selves unto the Apostles for direction, saying, men and brethren what shall we do? Acts 2. they went not to the church or people, but to the Apostles, knowing that the Ministers were their guides, and that they were to be directed by them, and that they were bound to obey them. And so in the fact of Ananias and Saphira his wife, when they had purloyned the goods of the Church; for whereas it was ordered and agreed upon by common consent that the price of those possessions that were sold should be layd down at the Apo∣stles feet, and that distribution should be made unto every man ac∣cording as he had need; contrary to this order Ananias kept back part of the price, Saphira his wife also being privy to it: Hereupon the people appeal unto the Apostles in whose hands the government then lay, and who had power to censure and pu∣nish them, as they did for that their delinquency, as it is to be seen Page 34Acts the 5. they went not to the people and Church, but applyed themselves to the Presbytery; and of this proceeding Saint John was not ignorant.
Again when the widdowes were neglected in the daily mini∣stration, for the taking away of this abuse, they appealed unto the Apostles, as we may see in the sixt of the Acts (and not unto the Church or people) who ordered that businesse, and determined the controversie amongst them, to which the people assented. This also Saint Iohn was not ignorant of: And he knew very well that the Presbytery in Ierusalem and all other Churches had power to send any of the Apostles or their other Ministers into any other place to preach, or upon any message, as we may see it Acts the 8▪ and Acts 14, & 15. For the Presbytery of Ierusalem sent Peter and Iohn to the City of Samaria to preach amongst the people there, which they could not have done except the Presbitry had had pow∣er and authority in their hands over thē; we see also the same in the Church of Antioch, where they sent Paul and Barnabas and their ministers to the Presbitry at Ierusalem, & the Presbitry of Ierusalem they likewise sent their decrees by their Ministers through all Cities and Churches, which they could not have done, had they not had authority over the Ministers. Again S. Iohn knew very well that the power of admitting of members lay not in the peoples hands; for we read Acts the 9. When Paul came to Ierusalem and assayed to joyn himself to the Disciples, and that they being affraid of him, & believing not that he was a Disciple, St Paul appeals from them to the Presbytery of the Apostles in whose hands the government lay; and declaring unto them how matters were, they admitted him into fellowship with them, without the consent of the people & their good liking, for the government did not belong unto them. All these proceedings Saint Iohn knew very well, and therefore could not be ignorant that there was a Court and Councell to ap∣peal to in all Churches: Yea Saint Iohn knew also that the Presby∣try of Ierusalem had power and authority over any of the Apostles, and did upon any occasion convent them before them as we may see in the 11. chap. and 21. where Peter was called before the Presbytery for going in to the Gentiles, and was therefore to give an accompt of his actions there, which he did; all with shews there was there a standing Court: and so in the 21. chapter the Presby∣try gave Saint Paul an order and direction how to behave himself Page 35 toward the weak ones; which he followed; all which shewes that they only had the power in their hands, and that there was a court there, and that it belonged not to the people; all these things, I say, S. Iohn was not ignorant of, & therfore knew very well that in that Church also where Diotrephes was a Presbyter, there was a Court and Common-councell of Presbyters to appeal unto, or else he would never have said, If I come I will remember his deeds. But why should I spend time in proving that which to any understan∣ding man is as evident a nd clear as almost any other truth in the holy Scripture? especially when Mr Knollys hath proved it himself in formall words in many places in this his answer; for he confes∣seth that there was a Presbytery established in every Church, and that the government of those Churches was put into the Presby∣ters hands, and that the people were to obey those Presbyters as their guides; and in expresse termes page the seventh saith, There∣fore the Apostle writes to the Church or particular congregation whereof Diotrephes was a Member and an Elder, who he knew had power to judge him, as well as the Church or particular Congregati∣on of Corinth had power to judge them that were Members therein, 1 Cor. 5. 12. 13. And therefore might as warrantably admonish Diotrephes, as the Church of Colosse might Archippus Coloss. 4. verse 17. in these words, He confesseth that Saint Iohn knew that the Church whereof Diotrephes was a Member and Presby∣ter, had power to judg him; which doth necessarily infer that there was at that time a court there; for judgement and censure and in∣flicting of punishment is the act of a court or Magistracy and of those that are in authority and armed with power; besides for fur∣ther illustration of his meaning, he saith that the church Saint Iohn writ unto, had the same power over its Members that the church of Corinth had over its Members: Now all men that have read the first and second E•istle of Paul to the Corinthians, know very well that there was a court in the church of Corinth with plena∣ry authority from Christ himselfe, both to convent and censure, and that with the severest punishment those that did publikely scandalize the Gospell, as is evident by the excommunication of the incestuous person; now if that church that St. Iohn writ unto were equall in power to that of Corinth, and that of Colosse, and to all the other Apostolicall churches, as Mr Knollys confesseth and laboureth to prove; then these conclusions will necessarily follow Page 36 from his argumentations. The first, that Saint Iohn could not be ignorant that there was a court and common-councell of Presby∣ters in that church to appeal unto; for Mr Knollys saith, that Saint John knew that that Church had power to judge Diotrephes, and therefore in this contradicteth himselfe; for in the sixth page he affirmed that Saint Iohn knew not any such court.
2ly, it follows that there was an Uniformity of government in all the Apostolicall and Primitive churches: Wch wholy overthrow∣eth the tenent of many of the Independents who hold the contra∣ry; so that one church had not one manner of government, and another church another manner of government peculiar unto it selfe, and distinct from the other; but they were all governed alike by their severall Presbyteryes, and had equall authority and power within their severall precincts, as the church at Ierusalem, Ephesus, Corinth, in all which there were many congregations, and yet all of them made but each of them a particular church within their respective jurisdictions, and were all to be governed by the joynt consent of there severall Presbytries.
And lastly, that this order of government was to be perpetuated to the end of the world, which when Saint Diotrephes laboured to violate in assuming it to himselfe and his congregation, both hee and all these that follow his steps, deserve severely to be punished for it, as prevaricators against both precept and example of all well ordered churches and Christians. And this shall suffice to have replyed by way of answer to what Mr Knollys had to say for proofe that Saint Iohn knew not of any Court or Common-coun∣cell of Presbyters, either classicall or synodicall, to appeal unto in his time.
And now I come to make good those appeals I made mention of page 10. which Mr Knollys thinketh a thing impossible for me to do; to wit, That every particular man, as well as any assembly or congregation, may have their appeal to the Presbytery of their Pre∣cinct, Hundred or Division under whose jurisdiction they were; and if they finde themselves wronged there, then they have appeales to some other higher Presbytery or Councell of Divines for reliefe and justice.
These appeales Master Knollys saith I cannot make good to be according to the Scripture of truth, although the having re∣course by appeales, from Inferiors to Superiors and from one Page 37 Court to another, is so evident by the very light of nature, and approved of by the practice of all Nations and Churches in all ages, and is also so apparent by the holy Scriptures both of the old and new testament, as there is scarce any truth more obvious to all understanding men; yet Master Knollys peremptorily asser∣teth, that they cannot be made good out of the Scriptures of truth; so that it is manifest, to all men, that be there any truth never so perspicuous, he is resolved to beleeve nothing but what he conceiveth to be according to the Scripture of truth.
Therefore for the gratifying of Master Knollys, and all such as with candour and ingenuity and without any prejudice shall reade the insuing lines, I shall in this place adde something more fully and distinctly to that which I spake in the foregoing page for the proofe of those appeales I mentioned page 10. and suf∣ficiently evince, they are warranted by the Word of truth: and for that purpose, I shall first produce the authority of holy Scrip∣tures and bring forth some Presidents out of the unerring word for the confirmation of the same; and then I shall also ratifie the use of appeales by reasons and from the practice of all ages in all Nations. And all this I shall the more willingly do in this place, although it is done againe and againe in this treatise; and onely because Master Knollys affirmeth that I cannot make good that appeales be according to the Scripture of truth. And for proofe ofthis, I will begin with that of our Saviour Matth. 13 vers. 15. Wherefore (saith he) if thy brother shall trespasse against thee, go and tell him of his fault betweene thee and him alone, &c. But if he heare thee not, appeale higher to two or three more: And if he shall neglect to heare them, appeale yet higher, tell it then unto the Church, that is to the Court of Presbyters in that precinct. So that from this place it is evident, that appeales are warranted by the Word of truth; for truth it self, hath taught us the Doctrine of appeals. And for Presidents of appeales there are many in the New-Testament, to say nothing of the Old. To begin with that in the 5. of the Acts which we finde recorded after Christ's ascension in the questioning of Ananias and Saphira, whereas by conjoynt argrement it was appointed and ordered amongst them, that all things should be common, and that selling their possessions, they should bring Page 38 the price of them and lay it also at the Apostles feet; which very expression signifieth and denoteth what great authority and power the Apostles and Presbyters in the Church of Jerusalem were then in, and sufficiently declares that there was a Court there, as all the carriage of that businesse doth abundantly prove. I say therefore, when they had made such an order by com∣mon consent, and when it was found out that Ananias and Saphira his wife had not dealt faithfully in that businesse, nor according to publike agreement, but had consented together to deceive their brethren, and by that had scandalized the Gospel, the Church or people for the redressing of this abuse, take not the matter into their owne hands, nor challenge not any power unto themselves for the punishing of Ananias and Saphira, as well knowing their place then, and that the government did not belong unto them, but to the Elders and Rulers over them; they appeale therefore unto the Apostles and make their com∣plaint unto them, and exhibit their Articles against Ananias and Saphira, as both guilty of the same crime, whereupon they were convented before the Apostles as Delinquents; Peter then being there president and chiefe judge, and finding them guilty▪ sentenced them both, from God himselfe, and punished them for their sinne with death; by which we may take notice not onely of an appeale, but that there was a standing Court of Presby∣ters in Jerusalem and that they had in it plenary power from Christ for the tryall and punishing of all offenders and of casting them out of the Church, if Scandalous, as well as the Church of Corinth; and it stands with all reason; for Jerusalem was the mother Church, and therefore was inferior to none of the Daugh∣ter-Churches and to this Court of Presbyters were all appeales ever to be made by the people of that precinct; as this one in∣stance doth sufficiently declare. And that other president in the 6. of the Acts where we have a second appeale upon an other publike scandall, which was the neglect of their widdowes in the daily Ministration where they applyed themselves unto the Apostles; for the particular congregations assumed not the authority into their hands of redressing the abuse, nor challenged not any right to the government, but appealed unto the Apostles for remedy, who ordered that whole businesse by joynt consent, to which all the people willingly submitted themselves as it is at Page 39 large to be seene in the sixt Chapter of the Acts. The third appeale we finde Acts the ninth, where Paul assaying to joyne himself to the Disciples, and they being afraid of him, and doubt∣ing whether he were a beleever, Saint Paul forth with appeals from them to the Apostles, who he knew had the authority in their hands, and making knowne his cause unto them, they forthwith admitted him into Church-fellow-ship with them without the consent of the people, who indeed had nothing to do, either in the admitting of members of casting of them out; and therefore they allowed of the appeale of Saint Paul, to teach all men whe∣ther to fly, to wit the to Presbytery, if they be injured by the people or debard from any Church-priviledge by them, for they only are the stewards of the Church and have the Keys of the kingdom of heaven to open and shut the doores to whom they shall thinke fit, or unworthy; and this is the place of the Presbyters, and not of the people: for they are injoyned to obey their guids and to sub∣mit themselves in the Lord to what they order and appoint ac∣cording to the Word of God. Here we have three presidents of appeales in the mother-church of Ierusalem to the Presby∣tery upon any abuse, so that by the mouth of their witnesses out of the word of truth this truth of appeales is sufficiently confirmed; And that the Presbytery at Ierusalem had plenary power over the very Apostles and could call them at any time to an accompt, is manifest from the eleventh of the Acts where Peter was convented & questionedbefore them and was forced to give an accompt of his going in to the Gentiles and Preaching unto them, which he wil∣lingly y•elded unto, knowing it was their place to question any; yea the Presbytery in every Church could send the very Apostles & Ministers to Preach in any place or city or upon any Message, as we see they sent Peter and Iohn to Samaria, and the Church of Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas with other Ministers to the Presbytery of Ierusalem, as is evident Acts the 14. and Acts 15. and therefore all these examples sufficiently prove that all the people of every Church made their appeales to their severall Presbyteries, if there arose any controversies and abuses among themselves: and if there arose any difference between Church, and Church, or betweene Presbytery and Presbyterie about any points of Doctrine or Religion, then they made their ap∣peales for the determining of those controversies to Councells Page 40 and Synods, as we may see it Acts the 15. and this is one of Gods Ordinances as the Independents themselves doe acknow∣ledge. So that for the Doctrine of appeales it is so cleare that all the learned and judicious cannot doubt of it; and I am most assured that those that shall but with due deliberation seriously examine the Scriptures above quoted and those that follow in this dis∣course, for the confirmation of the same truth, will wonder that any man that pretends to learning as Master Knollys doth, should ever dare say, that appeales cannot be made good to be accor∣ding to the Scripture of truth, whereas there is almost no truth in the holy Scripture more cleare and evident than this of appeales.
Yea this method of dealing and manner of handling of busi∣nesses of publike offences and scandals, and for the redressing of them, is ratified by the very light and Law of nature, as we may reade in all the governments under the very Heathens, and Paul made use of it, by appealing from inferiour Courts to Caesars tribunall. And I shall never be brought by all the arte and wit of man to beleeve, that Christ hath left his Church under the New Testament in a worse condition then it was under the old, where we know they had appeales from one Court to another. Nay if Christians now, had not the liberty of appeales in matters of con∣science and Religion, they should be inferior to the Pagan na∣tions; and surely Christ hath not left his Church which is his Kingdom, in a worse condition then either the Iewish or Eth∣nicke Kingdomes were, and therefore by all reason besides the Testimony of Christ Matth. the 13. and besides the Presidents I produced out of the Word of God to confirme appeales, the lawfulnesse of appeales is sufficiently established and ratified. So that I hope that which I have now briefly set downe, may satisfie any rationall man. But before I go on to prove that the people or Church have not power to judge their Ministers, which is the last thing I undertake to make good. I must say something by way of answer to a vaine and frivolous cavill of Master Knollys, which is this. If the Doctor can prove these appeales, (saith he) I aske him whether that higher Presbytery or Coun∣cell of Divines, be not as Independent as the brethren and their Churches against whom the Doctor hath written: and if so, then such a high Presbytery or Councell of Divines, is not Gods Ordi∣nance by the Doctors own confession and affirmation. The very Page 41 reading of this fond cavill had been enough for the confutation of it to any solid man: and truly had not I to deale with such a trifling creature as he is in serious businesse, who compts every word he scribleth an oracle, I would have passed by it with silence, as being nothing to the question between us, and as little to his purpose as all his other wrangling is, except it be to declare to all men, that he knoweth not his owne principles nor no good learning. But for answer, all such as know any thing in the controversie betweene us and the Independents, know that it is my opinion and settled beleefe, that all Churches and Coun∣cels are to depend upon the Word of God, and to be ruled and ordered in all their proceedings and Governments according to the direction of the same: an Angel from Heaven is not be heard that speaks not according to the written Word Gal. 1. and this Word hath directed us to the law and to the testimony, Isay 8. and procla∣med all men that speak not according to that, to be in darknesse; and therefore according to this my opinion, no Church or Councell in the world is Independent; and therfore all such Churches and Councels as have not either precept or example for their procee∣dings in the ordering and governing of them, out of the Word of God, but follow their own vaine and idle phantasies and affect In∣dependency, in my opinion they in so ordering their Churches do not according to Gods Ordinances. Now when the Indepen∣dent Governments are such, they are their own inventions; and that government only of the Presbyters, is Gods Ordinance, as ha∣ving both precept and Presidents for it in Gods Word, upon which they depend; and this is my opinion, and not that which Master Knollys would grollishly put upon me; and this shall suf∣fice for answer to that peece of non-sense of his. And now I come to the last branch of his answer, and that which I under∣tooke to make Good and prove, viz. that the people and congre∣gation in any Church have not power to judge their Ministers, which Master Knollys affirmeth they have, and for instance pro∣duceth the Church of Corinth and that of Colosse, understanding by Church the people, who he saith had power over the mem∣bers, miserably mistaking himself and abusing the ignorant and simple soules by it, as will by and by appeare to those that can discerne things that differ or are but a little acquainted in mat∣ters of government, either Ecclesiasticall or civill. For if men Page 42 do once but rightly understand what a Church is according to the discription of a Church as it is laid down in the New-Testament, and consider withall of the parts and members of that Church which by Saint Paul is compared to the body of a man: they will easily perceive, that the governors and rulers are compa∣red unto the head and all the noble parts of the body, as to the eyes, eares hands &c. which are to guide and governe all the other members in the body, and that all the other members under them are to be ordered and ruled by the head and other more no∣ble parts, and are to follow their direction; so that it is in the Church of God, as it is in the body of man, some are to rule, and others to be ruled in it and whose place it is ever to obey: For none of the members of the body leave their stations, unlesse they by violence be cut off, as all rationall creatures do very well know. For the head is ever the head, the eye is ever the eye, the eare is ever the eare, and the hand is ever the hand, &c. For Saint Paul saith 1 Cor. 12. vers. 27. Now yee are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the Church, first Apostles, secondly Prophets, thirdly Teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps in Government, diversities of tongues; are all Apostles? are all Prophets? are all Teachers? &c intimating that the Apostles, and Prophets and Teachers, and helps in Government in the Church, every of them keepes their stations, to wit, they that are once Apostles, Tea∣chers or Governors, doe continue in the Church in their seve∣rall places, ever so to be, and never lose their places, but al∣wayes to the day of their death, remaine and continue still to be Apostles, Prophets, Teachers and Rulers, according to that in the fourth of the Ephesians vers. 11. Where Saint Paul saith▪ He gave some Apostles, and some Prophets, and some Evangelists and some Pastors and Teachers for the perfecting of the Saints, and for the worke of the Ministry and the edifying of the body of Christ, till we come all into the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the sonne of God, unto a perfect man, unto the mea∣sure of the stature of the fulnesse of Christ. We finde not in all the holy Scripture that any of those true Ministers were at any time degraded, or lost any thing either of their Titles or of their authority, but as God had put the rule and Government of the Church into their hands, and had given them the power of the Page 43 Keyes, and made them Stewards in the Church which is his body, so they were ever to be the head, eyes, eares and hands for the governing and well ordering of the Church. We finde likewise that in every severall Church of the New-Testament there was a Presbytery ordayned, as Acts the 14. &c. and that the Presbyters had the Government of those severall Churches put into their hands, that the people and members of those Churches were commanded to obey their Presbyters as their guides whom God had set over them, Heb. 13. as Master Knollys and all the learnedst of the Independents do acknowledge. We finde likewise by the practise of the Church of Jerusalem the President of all other Churches, that the people there for the redressing of any abuse amongst themselves, assumed not the power into their own hands, but applied themselves and made their addresses and appeales to the Presbytery, and that they ordered eve∣ry thing according as they thought good, and that the people wil∣lingly submitted themselves to the order. We finde further that for all acts of government, as questioning any offendo•s for the cen∣suring and punishing of them, for ordination of Officers, and excommunication, it was done either by the sole power and authority of the Apostles, or by the Presbyteries of the Church and those that were in office, and not by the multitude, as is ma∣nifest by that in the 2. of the Cor. chap. 2. ver. 6. a place so much abused by the Independents; sufficient (saith the Apostle) to such a man is the censure which was inflicted of many. So that it was not inflicted by all the people, but by such only in whose hands the power lay, which was the Presbytery, and therfore the Apostle saith by many or of many. And truly if we would but duly reade the Epistles of Saint Paul to Timothy and Titus which were writ to them, and in them to all the Ministers of the New-testament in all ages to come, and observe the rules set downe in them, which are to continue to the ende of the World, we shall finde that for all Acts of government and for the well ordering of the Church, it is only committed into the hands of the Ministers and presbyters of the severall Churches through all Nations, and that to them only belonged the mana∣ging of the Goverment, as the rulers and Stewards of the same▪ and that all power and authority of Government peculiarly be∣longed unto them, and that the people had nothing to do with Page 44 it but to obey. Again if we look but into the seven Churches of Asia, Revel. 2. & 2. We shall finde that all the Epistles Christ writes unto them are directed to the Angels and Ministers of those severall Churches, as upon whom the Government of those Chur∣ches lay, and who had both the praise of well doing and blame of any evill either committed or tolerated by them; for seeing they were appointed by Christ himselfe to be the Stewards and Guides of those Churches and to be the Governours of the same, all the blame of the malversation of any of the members in them, is im∣puted unto them, as if they themselves had been the cause of it, as not using their Authority for the redressing of those abuses. So that it is apparently evident through the whole New Testa∣ment, That the Ministers and Presbyters, and they onely, in every Church had the rule of the people committed unto them, as the head, eyes, ears, and hands, the more noble members; and that the people as the other members under them, were to yeeld obedience unto them in the Lord. And we find that in the holy Scripture, every man is to look unto that Office that is committed unto him, and that every one is to keep himselfe in that Station God hath placed him in, as we may see it at large, Rom. 12. ver. 6. Having gifts differing according to the grace given unto us, saith Saint Paul, whe∣ther prophecy, let us prophecy according to the proportion of faith, or ministry, let us waite on our ministry &c. He that ruleth, with di∣ligence &c. Here we finde that every man according to his place and office, he is injoyned to wait upon it and not to desert it; they that are appointed to rule, they are ever to rule; and the others that are under them, are ever to obey; every Member is to keep his station in this mysticall body; the Magistrates and Parents and Ma∣sters whether ecclesiasticall or civill, are to continue in their severall places and to keep their ranks as long as they are in those places; and all those that are under them, whether Subjects, children, or servants, they are likewise to keepe their places, and to obey all those that are over them in the Lord; and that is their place; for so the holy Scripture everywhere teacheth us, and especially in the 7. of the 1 of the Corinth. ver. 19, 20, 21, 22. Circumcision (saith the Apostle) is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandements of God; That is, the yeelding of obe∣dience to the commandments of God, and the obeying of those God hath set over us, and the honouring of those that are in au∣thority Page 45 and doing the will of God in every thing to our power, is that that commends any men unto God, especially the honouring of God himselfe and the reverencing of our godly Ministers and painfull Pastors, according to that of Saint Paul 1 Thess. 5. 12. Know them which are over you in the Lord, and esteem them very highly in love for their works sake: For God hath made them Pa∣stors, and all the people their flock; them fathers, and the people children begotten by their Ministry; them builders, and the people the stones layd by them in the building; them Stewards, and the people Domestiques under them and their conduct: So that every one in the Church of God is to continue in that Station God hath placed them in, untill they by their gifts and graces and eminent abilities be removed to a higher calling, or else for their misde∣meanours are cast out; and therefore Saint Paul saith, 1 Cor. 7. ver. 20. Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called; and as if it had not bin sufficient to have once specified his mind in this businesse, in the 24 verse, he reiterateth this precept saying, Brethren, let every man wherein he is called therein abide with God. So that for the Ministers and Presbyters of the Church, or for the Magistrates of the Common-wealth, or for Masters or Parents of Families, for either of them, I say, to leave their calling in their particular places of ruling: and for either the flocks under the Pastors, or subjects under the Magistrates, or servants and children in the severall Families under their Parents and Masters, to offer to take the Government into their own hands, or to joyne themselves in Commission with them, and to take the rule in either Church, State, or Families upon them, is to leave their callings, and so to transgresse against the commandements of God who, hath injoyned the Magistrates, Ministers and Pastors both in Church and State to command, and all the people under them to obey, and in their so doing they each of them abide in the same cal∣ling and station wherein they are called: otherwise, they will be found transgressours of the Laws of God and Violaters of that Order God hath appoynted in Church and State, and bring confusion in both; Now, God is the God of Order, and hath injoyned all men to keep his commandements, and the commandement given to the Magistrates, is to rule; and the commandement given to the people in every Church is to obey their guides and yeeld double honour unto them; the honour of reverence and subjection, and the honour of Page 46maintenance; they are ever bound to obey them in the Lord: And this is the Order God appointed in all the Primitive Churches, That the Presbyters only should rule in them, and that the people should obey and not intermeddle in the government; for that is not to keep themselves in their severall Stations, and to abide in the same calling wherein they were called.
And to speake the truth, the ignorance of this doctrine and the pride of too too many hath bin the onely cause of all those confu∣sions that now the Church and State are imbroyled with; for if every man had learned but this lesson, To keep himselfe in the same calling wherein he was called, he would know that the Magistrates place whether civill or ecclersiasticall, is to command, and that the subjects and peoples place under them in their severall aboads and habitations, is to obey.
They would understand likewise, that in every kingdome, com∣monwelth, corporation, or in any Province and Country or church, that howsoever businesse of publike concernment belongs unto the whole body in each of those governments, yet the managing of them and ruling and ordering of them respectively, belongeth and pertaineth onely to those in authority, as in a kingdome or Republique, howsoever the embasladours of other nations are sent into such a Kingdome and Common-wealth about businesse that may concern the whole Countrie, yet none but the King and his Councell or the State have the ordering and managing of the busi∣nesse, and the people and subjects under them intermeddle not in those high affairs, for they are Arcana Regni and appertain not unto them. And so it is in every Corporation, howsoever the Letters or Mandates from either King, Parliament or State, are directed unto the severall Counties, Hundreds or Corporations or Cities, yet the Lieutenants, Governors, Sherifes, Mayors, Aldermen and Common-councells in each of them are to mannage the businesse and to put in execution what they are commanded and injoyned by either Letters or Mandates, and the people under them several∣ly are to yeeld obedience to what they order and command accor∣ding to the severall exigences of the times, as daily experience tea∣cheth all men; so that the directing of their Letters to the severall Counties or Hundreds or Corporations in generall, doth not invest all the people with power or joyne them in commission with the Magistrates of those respective places, but leaveth the transacting Page 47 of all things to those onely in those severall jurisdictions that are in authority and armed with power, which the people are not. Yea this truth is so well known and perceived by all such as will not wilfully blinde themselves, as it cannot be denyed; hourly experience furnishing men with Presidents of it.
For if any Delinquents be found out, they are not hailed before the people, but before such as are in authority; there is not an or∣dinary Hew and Cry that is sent to any Parish, but it is carryed to the Constable or his Deputy and to such in that Town or Village as are in place or authority, so that the people trouble not them∣selves with it; yea they will ordinarily say it concerneth them not, it is not their place to intermeddle in the businesse of State, that they affirme belonges to those that are in authority. And as it is in the affaires secular and in the State, so it is in the affaires of the Church, those in authority in the Church are to mannage the af∣faires and businesses of the Church and not the people: for God had appointed in all Churches in the New Testament (which were but so many Corporations) a standing Presbytery, and Order of Ministers and Rulers in each of them, in whose hands the govern∣ment of them all, within their severall Precincts and Jurisdictions lay, the which Government they were ever to mannage and order by common consent and joynt agreement, with which the people had nothing to do, and with the which they ought not intermed∣dle; for that had been to confound that Order God had established in each Church; and this all well-instructed Christians knew; and therefore in the Apostles times, not any that I ever read of oppo∣sed that Government before Diotrephes, who is blamed for this his temerity by St. John, to teach all men not to do the like left they fall into the same condemnation; so that they knew very well that howsoever all the Epistles of Sant Paul and the other Apostles were directed to the severall Churches of their times, yet the managing of the affairs of those Churches belonged only unto the Presbyters Stewards and Angels of those respective Churches, as we may see in those seven Churches of Asia, where the Letters and the Epistles are directed to the Angels and Ministers of those Churches as those that had the Government of them in their hands, and not to the people: And so it was in the Church of Corinth, a place that the Independents so much abuse.
Howsoever Pauls Epistles were directed to the whole Page 48 Church, yet the officers only and Presbyters of that Church had the managing of the whole businesse concerning the ince∣stuous person, both for the casting of him out and the taking of him in againe, upon his repentance, as is evident from the 2 Epistle and the second chapter where the Apostle saith sufficient to such a man is the punishment inflicted of many. So that all the people did not censure him, or inflict that punishment upon him; but many, to wit the Presbyters and those in authority in that Church. And this agreeable to all reason: and therefore Master Knollys is mightily mistaken in his Commentary exposition of this place and that of the Epistle to the Colossians, in saying that as the Church or particular congrega∣tion of Corinth had power to judge them that were members there∣in. 1 Cor. 5. 12. 13. and as the Church of Colosse had power to admonish Archippus. Coloss. 4. 17. so the Church whereof Dio∣trephes was a member, might as warrantably admonish him. These are his words, in which there is a double yea a treble fallacy: for first he taketh the word Church in another sense then the Scrip∣ture speaketh of it; which in all the Epistles of the holy Apostles for the most part, is taken collectively for a combinati∣on of many congregations under one Presbyterie within such a precinct, and he onely understandeth it for a particular congre∣gation and assembly, and by this he deceiveth the reader. 2ly By Church he understandeth the people, the Presbyters excluded, and saith that they had power to judge their Ministers, whereas indeed though in all those churches there was a power, yet it lay soely in the Presbyters hands, and they only were invested with it, and the people were ever to stand to their orders, so long as they commanded in the Lord; and the place of the people was to obey; and therefore all that he saith about this businesse is a meere non sequitur•unc; and this is the third error that insueth from groundlesse principles; for this is not a good consequence, Paul writing unto the Church of Colosse hath these words, say unto Archippus that he take heed to his Ministry, and wri∣ting unto the Church of Corinth the 1. and 5. saith vers. 5. Deli∣ver such a man unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh &c. Ergo the people have the power in their hands over all the mem∣bers of those Churches both Ministers and people. This I assert doth not follow in all good reason; No more then it will fol∣low Page 49 that if any Embassador should be directed to the kingdome of England now, or if any Message should be sent unto any cor∣poration of the Kingdome commanding such service from it to the State, that the people in this Kingdom, or the people in those corporations should intermedle in the affaires of publike concernment, but all sound understanding men will say, It be∣longeth to the great and grave Councell of the Kingdom to mannage publike affaires, and to the Major and Aldermèn, and the Com∣mon-councell of each Corporation to transact and order the publicke businesse, and affaires, and for this only reason, because they are the men in those severall places that God and the people have in∣vested with authority over them and it only belongeth unto them to order all affaires of publicke concernment, who God and the people have called and appointed to this end and purpose. And so it was in all the primitive and Apostolicall Churches, the Epistles were writ to the churches, but directed to the Angels and Ministers in them, as whose place it was to watch over them for their good and who only had the power of the Keyes, to bind and loose, to cast out and take in, according to Divine authority. Yea all the world knowes, that God never gave the Keyes to the people in any Church, but to the Ministers, therefore the authority of order and jurisdiction only belongeth to the Mini∣sters and presbyters in every Church: now when Master Knollys by Church understandeth a particular congregation or assem∣bly and the people in it and not the Presbyteries in every Church; he is much mistaken in his Commentary exposition and abuseth not only himself but all those poore deluded people that follow him.
Yea, he destroyeth his own principles and those of the congre∣gationall way, for both he himselfe and I. S. do acknowledge, That the Government lay in the Presbyters hands in every church. Master Knollys his words to this purpose I have often ci•ed before and I. S. his words are these page 11. in asserting that the Pers∣byters did rule the Church at Ierusalem, and ordinarily other Churches, whom do you hit? (saith he in his answer to me) Sure not the Independents, as you call them, we grant it is their part to rule; thus he: but of these words in their due place.
In the meane time, we may take notice, that they acknow∣ledge that the government of those severall Churches lay in thePage 50Presbyters hands, who only had the ordering of the affaires of those Churches as the Stewards over them, and whose place it was, to receive any accusations, and examine matters of scandall and to proceede against offenders by cens•res and punishments upon evidence and proofe made against them, as the Epistles of Paul to Timothy and Titus do sufficiently evince. And therefore it is not only against the Word of God, but their own principles, to invest the people with power and authority over their Mi∣nisters and their fellow members, as to censure them, or▪ to ex∣ercise any Act of Government over them. Neither doth Saint Paul in writing unto the Colossians and bidding them say to Archippus, that he take heede to his ministry, and in writing unto the Corinthians that they should cast out the incestuous person, investe the people in either of those Churches with power and authority over either Presbyters or their fellow members. For the power of reproofe and censure with authority belongs primarily and principally to the Pastors and Presbyters, in every Church, as the Epistles of Paul to Timothy and Titus shew, in the which all Ministers are taught their duty in their seve∣rall places, who to admonish, and how, who to ordaine, and who to cast out, and how to exercise all other Acts of government, as those of ordination, excommunication and censure &c. and all Ministers are to performe their offices judicially, & authoritatively, not by way of charity which any Christian upon just occasion observing all the vitall circumstances, of a well ordered reproofe and action, as of time place and persons may do; for there is a very great difference between the admonition of the Ministers and that of the people which lyeth in this, that the Ministers doe what they doe in the Church as Officers and Magistrates and men in place and power; and the people do it by way of charity and love and only out of Christian duty, and not with any authority they have over the people; and if their brethren will not heare them, they can goe no farther then to take one or two more with them, and if they will not heare them, then to refer it unto the Church, to tell and informe their severall Presbyteri•s of it, the people are confined within these limets only, and are not to exceede and go out of these bounds. Whereas the Pr•s∣byters and Ministers by their place have the power in their hands, to order them and censure them, which the people have Page 51 not. Neither with any good reason will it follow, if any private Christian may admonish a Minister failing in his duty, that he hath power and authority over him, for this one Member and Brother hath not over another, as having nothing to do with another mans servant, as Saint Paul sufficiently declareth in the fourteenth chap∣ter of his Epistle to the Romans; and although all Christians are commanded, Coloss. the 3. and in divers other places, to admonish one another, yet this proves not that they have rule, power and au∣thority over them, because the Scripture witnesseth the contrary. But the Ministers and Preachers of the Word, they are to rebuke, to exhort, and admonish, and censure, as Embassadours, Stewards, and Governours appointed by God himselfe over them for this very purpose and end, not onely to beseech and intreate them, but if they be refractory and disorderly to punish and censure them, and that by their place as they are officers and as they have received the Keyes, whereas other Christians do their duty onely out of love as Brethren and not as Magistrates; So that what the people do, either in admonishing or exhorting it is out of charity; or what they do in choosing of officers, or casting out of offenders out of the Church, it is either by denomination of them, or in approving and assenting unto what the Presbytery doth; as the Saints shall judge the earth so that it is not in the peoples power to hinder the casting out of any offender, if he be proved scandalous; or of receiving any into the Church or into any office of the same, if they be thought fit and worthy of it for their gifts and graces; for they have no power to do any of these things, for these are all actions of such as are in authority and have the power of ordering things in their hands, which I affirme was never given to the people.
And therefore those places quoted by Mr Knollys, to prove the authority of the people over either their Ministers or Fellow-mem∣bers, are not for his purpose, as b•ing misapplyed and abused, as they are daily by the Independent Brethren; So that to all rationall and understanding men from this reproofe of Diotrephes given by S. Iohn and this his censuring of him, For usurping sole authority to himselfe and prating malicious words against Saint Iohn and the Presbyters of that Church he writeth to: These two conclusions do necessarily follow.
The first; That all such as affect an absolute jurisdiction in every particular congregation within it selfe Independent, without any Page 52 reference or relation to a Councell or Colledge of Presbyters, and do speak malicious wordes against their Fellow-ministers and Pres∣byters, and do cast out whom they please, and bring in whom they will at pleasure upon their own termes, and do rule after an arbitra∣ry way all such violate the Ordinance of God and oppose that Go∣vernment that he hath established in all churches by his blessed word, and are guilty of the same crime that Diotrephes was, and if they re∣pent not will be severely punished for it: but all the Brethren of the Congregationall way are such.
The second is this: That all such Ministers and Congregations as give the authority and power of ruling and ordering the affaires of the Church into the hands of the people, either wholly excluding the Ministers, or joyning the people with them in the Government of the Church, they thus leaving their station and calling wherein they were called, are prevaricators and offenders against divine institution: For God hath given the keyes, the power of order and jurisdiction to the Ministers and Presbyters only, and injoyned the people to obey them: But such are all the Ministers and Assemblies of the congre∣gationall way, as leaving their station and calling wherein they were called: Ergo, they are all prevaricators and offenders against di∣vine institution.
And thus much I thought fit by way of answer, to reply unto all that Mr Knollys had to say, against my argument drawn from Diotrephes, and in defence of their congregationall practices▪ There yet remaines one whibling cavill more in this his answer, that I may not passe by lest he should glory I could not answer it; I will therefore say something to that and conclude this point and then go on to all his other fond answers to such arguments as he thought himselfe best able to incounter with. His words are these in the conclusion of his Babble.
If (saith he) nothing of publike concernment ought to be done and transacted without the joynt & mutual agreement, and common con∣sent of the Presbytery, John the Presbyter would not have trans∣gressed so farr, as to take upon himselfe this authority over Diotre∣phes, to tell the Church of his faults, and to say he would remember him and sharply reprove him, and teach him to prate against the Presbytery with malicious words, which belonged to the Court and Common-councell of Presbyters.
Thus Mr Knollys rather chatters than disputes, in making such Page 53 an inference from his own conceit. And therefore for Answer let Mr Knollys know, that there was no transgression in Saint Iohn against the Presbyters in taking such authority upon himselfe: for S. John was an Apostle, and an universall Pastor, tyed to no one place or flock, but had the same power and authority that Paul and all the other Apostles had over all the Churches, the care of which lay primarily and principally upon them, who were imme∣diately inspired by God, and in all their preachings and writings followed the dictates of his holy Spirit, who spake in and by them; so that whatsoever they taught or writ was to be the rule of all mens thoughts, words, actions, and governments, and it was their place to give Laws unto all Churches and Ministers in them, what they should do in the ordering and governing of the same; and therefore S. John had no lesse authority and power over this Church, wherein Diotrephes was an Elder, and in and over all other Churches, then S. Paul and all the other Apostles had in all Churches: Now if S. Paul, could give a Law unto the Church of Corinth, For the casting out of the Incestuous person, and for the carrying of themselves with Order and Decency, in their Assemblies and sharply reproove offenders in that Church, and if all the other Apostles did the like, and took such Authority upon them over all the members of those severall Churches; and that without any transgression of any divine institution, but with the very good li∣king and allowance of God himselfe, who writ the Commande∣ments of the Lord to all the Churches, then I say, Saint Iohn trans∣gressed not at all in using his authority and power given him of God over Diotrephes, in telling the Church of his faults, and saying He would remember him, and sharply reprove him; for this he might well do by his sole Authority, without any offence, as he was an Apostle, for what he did, he did by immediate Revelation and had a warrant for it from Christ himselfe, who sent his spirit to lead him into all truth.
And therefore it is a ridiculous if not an impious thing in Master Knollys, to draw such an inference from a phantasie of his own brain, in that he makes no difference between Saint Iohn and ano∣ther ordinary Presbyter and Minister, and would make that an of∣fence which was none, and infer that Saint Iohn took more upon him than he ought. Besides it had been no transgression in any other Presbyter, if he had writ so to any Presbytery, under which he had Page 54 been a fellow Presbyter, to inform them of any miscarriage in ei∣ther Pastor or member of that Church wherein he was an Elder, and if he had said, If I come I will remember his deeds, &c. For in his so speaking, he would assume no more authority to him∣selfe, then became a Presbyter to take upon him, as both to witnesse to a truth, and to give in evidence of what he knew of such a man to his fellow judges, and then to leave it to the judgement of the Presbytery and Common Councell of Elders, which Saint Iohn did, whose place it was to censure such an offender, and in his so doing he should no way impeach the power and authority of the Court or Common▪councell of Presbyters, but rather ratifie and confirme it as all learned men will gather; For by such words, he declareth that there is a standing Court or Councell there, where offenders are both to be questioned and censured; for such an ex∣pression, If I come I will remember his deeds, sufficiently declareth, that there was power in their hands, and manifesteth, that he was a judge there among the rest, who with others had the hearing of all causes there, and that all businesses of publike concernment ought to be done and transacted by the mutuall and joynt accord and agree∣ment of the Presbytery, and not to be managed by any one singly by himself, or by the people whom God had never given the Keyes unto, nor the power of rule and Government: This I affirme will neces∣sarily ensue and follow, and not that which Mr Knollys vainly intimateth. And I am confident that any judicious Christian up∣on due deliberation will say the same, and will conclude, That Saint Iohn in his so writing was no offender, though all things of pub∣like concernment in the Church were ever to be transacted by the joynt agreement and common consent of the Presbytery. So that all men that are judicious may plainly behold the futility in both the answers and cavills of this man, and well perceive that he was never cut out for a disputant, or ever fitted for Government in church or State; who if he might have his own minde would bring in a confusion in both, and violate all order divine and hu∣mane, and make the head the foot, and the foot the head.
And truly if a man would but consider the manner of Govern∣ment in their seven new Churches or rather seventy (for every ten or twelve of them prove a Church) he should find in them all, so much disorder and discrepancy amongst them, and yet every one of them pretending Divine authority for its particu∣lar Page 55 government, as he would advisedly conclude, That God was never the author of them, for God is a God of order and not of confusion: for never since the world began was there such practice• in any Christian Churches, as are to be found in theirs: And to speake the truth, they are a meere mockery of all go∣vernment: for every one of those severall Churches be they never so slender and small, assumes an absolute soveranity unto themselves Independent, from all other Churches and Presbytries, from the which there is no appeale, be one never so much wronged. And they are as so many free States, and republicks, every one of them ruling within themselves as absolute Magistracies. And therefore upon all occasions, if any difference arise betweene member and member in those Churches, or betweene Church and Church as often they do, as other Countries and Common∣weales send their Embassadours to each other upon any diffe∣rence, or about states affayres; and as the House of Commons sends to the House of Lords, and the House of Lords to the House of Commons by their Messengers; and as all businesses are to be done in the Name of the States, and in the name of either Lords or Commons; so those little sucking congregations and churches; though they consist but of 10. or twenty a peece & although never an one of them knowes any more what belongs to government then the horse Master Knollys preaches on when he goeth into the Countrey yet they send their Officers in the name of the Church to any other of their Churches, upon any difference, or about any of their Grolleyes, with as great State and Grander, as if they were very absolute principalities, and they use by the report of those that have seene the manner of their carriage in their imployment in imitation of greatnesse, the same garbe and gestures that Embassadours, or those that carry a Message from the House of Commons, to the House of Lords, usually do; making their honours and conges, and they are such bunglers at the work as those that have seene them say, it is one of the ridiculosest spectacles that ever was beheld; for they make a thousand Jackinaps tricks and act their severall parts with such affectation of State, that experienced men and such as well know what belonges to the entertainment of Embassadors, affirme, that they never beheld any thing so fanaticall. It is reported that Iohn Lilburne my Scholler is Master of the Ceremonies amongst them, and Page 56 teaches them their postures of Court-ship.
If ever there were any people in the world that trampled all government both Divine and Humaine under their poluted feete, or ever made a scorne of authority I may truly say the Indepen∣dents are the •en, and yet they applaud themselves in all their actions and sticke not to say, by these their doings, they set up the Lord Christ upon his throne in his Kingdome, and in their houses, and compt all those that differ from them of their congregatio∣nall way, as enemies of the Lord Iesus, and of his kingdome; and esteeme of them as of a company of Infidels; and yet they have neither precept nor president for their so doing, but St. Diotrephes in all the holy Word of God, which constituted a Presbytery in every Church and committed the government of all the congregati∣ons under each Presbytery into the hands of a Common-councel and Colledge of Elders, as that Church Saint Iohn write unto can witnesse, which was governed by the conjoynt consent of them all, in which Saint Iohn was a Presbyter, and therefore writ, If he came he would remember Diotrephes deeds: which abundantly declareth that Saint Iohn acknowledged a Court, a settled government in every church, whether the members might have recourse for redresse of any abuse or scandalls and therefore took no more upon him then belonged unto his place: and this shall suffice to have answer'd to Master Knollys his last whibbling cavill, and to have spake of this point of controversie between us in this place.
I shall answer methodically to all his other evasions in their due places which the reader shall finde as they are scattered through the booke, for he is very immethodicall in all his pam∣phlet, where I will set downe Master Knollys his owne words.
But in the meane time it is sufficiently confirmed out of the Word God and out of all the Scriptures above quoted, that all the churches we reade of in the New-Testament, were so many corporations in Christs kingdome, which were to be governed by a Common-councell of Presbyteries. And so for many yeeres after the Apostles times they were Governed Communi consilio presbyterorum, as our brethren the Independents do confesse and prove by antiquity and humane authority; which weapon I wonder they will contend with, in deciding of Gods matters, Page 57 which are only out of his holy Word to be proved, which is to be the rule of our faith.
But it seemes Saint Ambrose his authority pleaseth them well, though if we looke into it, it makes much against them. He lived as the author that cites him, saith, within the fourth Cen∣tury. His words are these upon the 1. of Timothy. Synagoga & postea ecclesia seniores habuit, quorum sine consilio nihil ageba∣tur in Ecclesia. Quod qua negligentia obsoleverit nescio, nisi doctorum desidia aut magis superbia, dum soli volunt aliquid videri. Take with it his own interpretation. The Iewes Synagogue (saith he) and afterwards the Christian church, had Elders, without whose counsell nothing was done in the church, which, by what neglect it grew out of use, I knew not, unlesse it were perhaps the sloth or rather pride of the teachers, whilest alone they would seeme to be some body. However it is acknowledged by their owne testimony, that in the Apostles time and many yeares after the Apostles, nothing was done in the church with∣out the Councell of the Presbyters.
So that it is evident the Primitive churches were governed by the joynt and common councell of the Presbytery, and the people had nothing to do with it. We may adde here unto Saint Am∣brose, Saint Ieromes testimony, who in his Commentaries upon the first chapter of the Epistle of Paul to Titus, largely declaring him∣selfe (as in many other places) concerning the occasion of the change of that government established by the Apostles, saith, Idem est ergo Presbyter qui & Episcopus & antequam, diaboli instino•u, studia in religione fi•r•nt, & diceretur in populis, ego sum Pauli, ego Apollo, ego autem Cephe, communt Presbyterorum consilio Ecclesiae gubernabantur, &c. In the which words he acknow∣ledgeth by the first institution, all Churches were governed by the common councell of the Presbyters, and not by the advice of the people. Yea the very Canons of the Pope in the first part, and the 95. distinction, giving the reason why the Pres∣byterian Government came to be changed, and the Hierarchiall was put in the place; affirmeth, that it was through faction, and for the avoyding of further Schismes and rents in the Church and cities, using the very words before quoted out of Saint Ierome, and confesseth that before that time, the Churches were go∣verned Commum consilio Presbyterorum, not by the people or any Page 58 one Prelate, but by the Presbytery and their councell. And if hu∣maine authority were needfull in this businesse, I might make a volume with their very expressions, to prove the novelty of the Hierarchicall government, and that of the peoples jurisdiction assuming the Authority of governing into their hands, and the Antiquity of the Presbytery, and that by the enemies own con∣fession. Bet I am resolved to cleave only unto the Word, and sound reason deduced from thence, for the deciding of this controversie, being sorry that there was so much as occasion of naming humane authority in a point of Divinity.
As for the Presbyterian government, in the sense that I under∣stand it, there is nothing more cleere to me in all the holy Scrip∣ture, Yea the very word and name of a Presbytery signifieth a Ma∣gistracy, or Aristocracy, or Signory, or Court; that is, a Company, or Senate, or Councell of grave wise, and understanding men, invested with authority and power of ruling, ordering, and commanding, and in whose hands the government is put. And as the word is taken in the civill polity and Government, so in the Ecclesiasticall; By a Presbytery we understand, a Religious, Grave, Solid, Lear∣ned, and wise councell of Divines and Ministers, or men of in∣veterate experience; and such as know how to Rule and Govern those that are under their command, with wisdome and mode∣ration, and according to the Word of God; and the which men likewise are invested with Authority and Power for to exercise a jurisdiction over others, and are hereunto called by such as are able to judge and discerne of the sufficiency of their gifts and abilities for this worke, which the ordinary and common people cannot do. And as in the civill State, the Presbyters and Elders of the people, were those that had the rule over them for the common good of them all and for their bodily preservation; So the Presbyters and Elders in the Church are those that have the rule and government over the Churches for the spirituall good of their souls. And as Kings and Rulers are by a Metaphoricall and borrowed speech called Pastors and Sheepherds of the people, and are said to feed the flocks committed to their charge, by which word is understoode the exercise of all lawfull and mode∣rate authority agreeable to the Law of God over them; so the Presbyters and Ministers are called the Pastors and Sheepherds, yea, and Stewards over the flocks committed to their charges, Page 59 and they are commanded to feed them; by which metaphor they are invested with the authority and power both of preaching and ruling, and have the Government over those flocks put into their hands, which they must alwayes exercise according to Gods Word; they must feed them and rule them in the Lord, and not after their own wills and pleasures, they may not have dominion over our faith, as Paul saith in the 2. of the Corinthians; chap. 1. verse 24. But that they should be helpers of our joy; that is, they may not usurpe an absolute Soveraignty or power over the con∣sciences of the people, as if the spirituall state and welfare of their flocks depended on them, which is onely grounded upon their faith in Jesus Christ; but as they are the Stewards of God, and Ministers and servants of the Church, so they should com∣fort them and rejoyce their hearts in the Lord, and establish them in the faith; and use all the care and diligence that is possible, like good Shepheards, to preserve the flockes committed to their charge, that they straggle and stray not from Christs fold, and run not into the by-wayes and thickets of sinne and errour, and be corrupted with noysome food, and false Doctrine: And if they have any among them that are unruly, that they bring and re∣duce them into order: or if they have any sicke, feeble, poor or weak, that they cure, releeve, comfort, and restore such: and if they have any that are infected or scabby, that they remove such from the sound, till they be recovered: or if they have any broken or wounded, that they heal and recover them with all lenity and humanity; and that they should by common▪councell govern and order their flocks, and take speciall care that the particular Pastors and Ministers of the severall Congregations and Assemblies un∣der their Presbytery and charge, assume not any sole and soveraign Authority to themselves over the flock, to do any thing of publike concernment, without the joynt consent of that Presbytery or spi∣rituall Corporation, under whose commands they are. And it stands with all reason, that a Common councell, of godly, grave, learned, and experienced ministers, should ever be more able to manage and order a government, then two or three unexperienced men, or two or three hundred young people, of which most Con∣gregations consist, in whom the sap of youth is not yet dryed up; or if many of them should be of riper years, yet they know little what belongs to government, and therefore they can never be so Page 60 well able to govern, as men both of known learning, ancient expe∣rience, and honesty, and approved judgement and integrity, as a whole Colledge or an Assembly of learned Presbyters commonly are; who by God himself have the dispensation of the Word and the order∣ing and ruling of the Church committed unto them, and who in the Preaching of the Word, and the administration of the Sacraments, and in all ordinary acts of worship, and in governing and ruling the flocks committed to their severall charges, are the successors of the holy Apostles.
But by the way, an objection is here to be answered unto, made by some of the Independents after this manner.
The Elders and Presbyters of the Apostles times, say they, by the imposition of their hands, gave the gift of tongues and prophesie, Acts 19. 1, 2, 3, 4 5. and the 8. 18 and 1 Tim. 4. 14. and healed the sick Iames 5. 14, 15. according to our Saviours promise Mark. 16. 18. Let, say they, the Presbyters of our time, let them impose their hands upon the sick and heale them, let them by imposing hands upon their disciples inable them on a sudden to speake with strange tongues, and foretell things to come; and then we will acknowledge them for a true Presbytery, then will they be a right assembly of Elders, and the Apostles successors; but, if they cannot give to others, nor yet have for themselves in store, any of the true Apostles, any of the right Pres∣byters gifts and characters, we may not, we dare not acknowledge them as such.
These are their formall words in print. Before I come to my an∣swer, I desire there may be speciall notice taken of this Objection, and such like; for, for ought that I know, if any man will argue af∣this manner, all Christian religion may be called in question, and no man will have any Creed or Belief, except he may make his own Articles, as Thomas did, who said, Vnlesse I put my hands into his side and my fingers into the print of the nailes, I will not believe. And as the Iews said unto our blessed Saviour, Thou that savedst others, now save thy self, come down from the Crosse and then we will believe in thee, do this miracle and then thou wilt perswade us. Here we see, they would make their own Articles, or else they would have no Creed. The Jewes had learned this method of disputing from the Devill, who at his meeting of our Saviour Christ, and at his first assault, thus disputed, If thou be the Sonne of God, saith he, and wouldest have the world so believe, and me too, on thee, thenPage 61command these stones to be made bread, do this miracle first; but thou canst not do it, Ergo. So in like manner these men argue, ex∣cept, say they, the Presbyters by the imposition of their hands up∣on their Disciples, can inable them on a sudden to speake with strange tongues, to foretell things to come, and heal the sicke, &c. we will not acknowledge them to be true Elders: but let them do all these things by the imposition of their hands, and then wee will acknowledge them for a true Presbytery. See the vanity of these men, and the instability of their faith, by their own confessi∣on; miracles will make them believe any thing, if we may cre∣dit their own words, though never so contrary to their judgement and to the faith once delivered to the Saints. It is well known to the Learned, that the Apostles and those Primitive christians had extraordinary and wonderfull gifts, that ravisht the world then into admiration; and it is confest also by all understanding Chri∣stians, that those wonder-working miracles were but temporary, as the miraculous feeding of the people with Manna in the Wil∣dernesse, where they were fellow-commoners with the Angels, and continued but till they came into the Land that flowed with Milk and Honey. So those miracles of the Primitive christians continued but for a time, till the Gospell and the truth of the Christian faith and doctrine was confirmed and established, which being once done, and the holy Scriptures which were to be the rule of faith to the end of the world being left to posterity, and to which we are tyed and commanded not to be wise above that which is written, 1 Cor. 4. 6. and forbid in Gal. 1. 8, 9. to be∣lieve otherwise then we have been taught, though the Apostles or an Angell from heaven should teach otherwise; after, I say, the Doctrine of the Christian Faith and Religion was confirmed, the ordinary working of Miracles ceased. And it is said of Antichrist in 2 Thess. chap. 2. That he shall come with strong delusions and ly∣ing wonders, and with all deceiveableness in them that perish, be∣cause they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. So that I cannot sufficiently wonder, to see the dealing of these men, who in these dayes expect and look for miracles to confirme their faith, when notwithstanding we are forwarned to take heed of all false delusions, and commanded to the contrary. Shew us some miracles, say they, and then we will believe you are true Pres∣byters. So dealt the Jewes with Christ, What signe shewestPage 62thou that wee may beleeve in thee? But when Christ had shewed them signe upon signe, and miracle upon miracle, were they ever the more convinced? Did those miracles create beliefe in them? No surely, but rather hardned them and made them blaspheme. When he cast out Devils, they say he did it by the Prince of Devils. So without doubt, if the Presbyters had those gifts of miracles, that they could gratifie these men with daily prodigies and workes of wonder, they would then say, they came with lying wonders, and with the working of Satan, and they would make the world abhor them the more. There is an old saying, that hee must rise early and never goe to bed, that will please all men: and truly it would be not onely difficult, but an impossible thing, for any State or great Councell, were it never so wise, to please all the people under them. God himselfe, nor Moses, nor Aaron his servants, could please the Israelites though they saw never such wonders continually before their eyes, to confirme their authority; yea they told Moses and Aaron to their faces, that they tooke too much upon them. And afterwards they cast off Gods own government & God himselfe, as the Lord complains to Samuel, in 1 Samuel, and would set up a governement after the modell of their owne braine, as it is at large set downe in that Booke. And not long after they changed the manner of Gods worship, in Ieroboams time, and taught the feare of God, as the Lord complaineth, Isay 29. after the precepts of men, and rejected Gods commandements, as Christ saith, Matth. 15. and Marke 7. So that what they thought best in their owne eyes, that was ever best pleasing unto them. They would not content themselves with the Written Word, though they were never so often by Moses, and all the rest of the Pro∣phets, commanded to cleave unto it, saying, to the Law and to the Testimony, Isay 8. Even so it is now in these dayes, they con∣tent not themselves with that Ordinance that is set downe in the Written Word, but say, Come shew us some miracles, and then wee will beleeve you are a right Presbyterie. Our Saviour speaking to the Jewes concerning Saint Iohn the Baptist and Himselfe, Iohn, saith hee, came neither eating nor drinking, and ye say behold hee hath a Devill; the Sonne of Man came both eating and drink∣ing, and ye say, hee is a Wine-bibber, a friend of Publicans and Sinners. So that whatsoever method or way God used to con∣vert them, they cavil'd against it, and were never satisfied; Page 63 alwayes resisting the Spirit of God, as Stephen told them in Act. 7.
So now, in these our times they looke for miracles, and a new way of teaching. But all good Christians are forbid to listen af∣ter, or to give heed to miracles: and are sent unto Moses and the Prophets, Luke 16. and are commanded to search the Scripture, John 5. Yea our Saviour himselfe in the person of Abraham, Luke 16. saith, That if men will not beleeve Moses and the Prophets, they will not be perswaded by miracles: and I am confident, that could the Presbyters doe all those miracles these men desire, they would the more reproach them, and exclaime against them, and af∣firme they wrought by the Devill, as the Jews told our Saviour he did. I must confesse, I am of a contrary opinion to these men, not only in the matter of miracles, but in all external performances; for I am instructed in the holy scriptures, that the Devill can transforme himselfe into an Angell of light, and that the Deceivers and false Teachers shall come forth in sheeps clothing, and for outward appea∣rance shalequalize, if not exceed, the faithfullest & truest Pastors and Ministers of Christ; and therefore we are in speciall, commanded to take heed of such: and for my particular, if any men whatsoever of never such seeming sanctity, sufficient abilities, unblameable life, should come forth and teach any other Doctrine of Faith, Man∣ners, or Government, then that I have been taught in the holy Scrip∣ture; and should confirme this their Doctrine with never so many miracles, I will still continue stedfast in the Doctrine of the Apo∣stles, and cleave unto the written Word, and will never beleeve contrary to that, though I should undergoe the greatest misery, or be exposed to the greatest want by it, that any man ever saw: for I know that all these momentary trials and afflictions are not worthy that exceeding weight of glory that shall be revealed. And for this very point of the Presbytery, in that sense I take it, I am so well assured that it is Gods Ordinance, as I am of any point in Religion. But as I said before, if men may argue after this way. The Presbyters in the Apostles times did miracles, and s•ake with strange tongues, and their Schollers and Disciples did the same; doe you likewise, and then we will acknowledge you to be true Presbyters, otherwise wee will not. Thus the Jewes might have ar∣gued against all their Prophets, as against Isaiah, Ieremy, Ezekiel, &c. Moses and Elias fasted forty dayes and forty nights, and Page 64 did many miracles, do you so, and then we will beleeve you are true Prophets, and sent to us of God, otherwise we will not be∣leeve you to be true Prophets. Yea all the wicked and ungodly men of these times may argue thus also: God gave unto his Church Apostles, Evangelists, Prophets, &c. and they spake all strange tongues and divers languages, and did many miracles; but you and your Congregations, have neither Apostles, Prophets, nor E∣vangelists, nor ye have not the gifts of Tongues, nor yee can do no Miracle: Ergo, you are not the true Church. The Primitive Christians and the servants of God in those times, had the gifts of Tongues and Prophesie, and the holy Ghost came down upon them, and they spake by direction from God his infallible truth and Gospell, whose speeches were not tyed to time, and to one speaker, but many spake one after another by Interpreters, as it is at large set down in the 1. of the Corinthians, chap. 14. vers. 27. 28, 29, 30. &c. So that they spake infallible truth by direction from God: But you have none in your Congregations so miracu∣lously inspired with sundry languages, and divers tongues, nor ye do not speake infallible truths by direction from God; nor you can∣not cure diseases nor do miracles: Ergò, your religion is not the same Religion; nor your Congregations the true Church: shew us these miracles and then we will beleeve you to be the true Church, otherwise we may not, we dare not acknowledge you to be the true Church.
Again they may argue thus: The Apostles and Primitive Pastors, and Teachers preached freely, and laboured with their own hands, and were helpfull to the necessities of others, and were not burthensome and exacting from others, and spake ex tempore, by direction from God: but your Ministers in your Congregations do not preach freely, nor labour not with their own hands, nor are not helpfull to to others necessities, but are rather burdensome and exacting from others; nor they do no miracles, nor speake not immediately by inspiration, and ex tempore; but by Study and out of their Bookes, and are confined to time, and speake not in strange tongues and languages, one after another by Interpreters. Ergò, Your Ministers are not Gods Ministers, nor your Congrega∣tions the true Church, nor your people true Christians; for you want all those things that the Primitive Christians and the Primi∣tive Churches had.
Page 65 There is a Pamphlet lately come out, and highly esteemed and prised amongst many, full of such consequences as these, which if they hold good against the Presbyters, they may also for ought I know, be of equall validity to overthrow, not onely all Christian Congregations, but indeed all Christian Religion. But briefly to answer.
We look upon the Apostles and Primitive Presbyters, as men miraculously and extraordinarily gifted, and as wonder-working men for the confirmation of the truth of the Gospell to all suc∣ceeding ages; and we consider in them and in the Christians of those times, something extraordinary and temporary, as their working of miracles, and speaking of strange tongues, and gifts of healing, &c. And those we conceive were to continue no longer in the church, then for the confirmation of the truth of the Gospel; Christ himselfe proclaiming those blessed, that believe without seeing of miracles, speaking unto Thomas, Iohn 20. 29. Because thou hast seen me, saith he, thou believest, blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed. So that miracles now are not or∣dinary, and we are tied to the written Word. But we consider likewise in the Apostles and Primitive Presbyters, that that was permanent and to continue in all Ministers and Presby∣ters in succeeding ages to the end of the world, and that was the power of order and preaching, and the power of juris∣diction, that is of ruling (which is not denied by the most learned of the Independents themselves) and this I have proved by the Word of God, to be transacted over to all Christian Chur∣ches, whose Presbyters have that power given unto them; nei∣ther will the Learned Brethren deny it, whatsoever the igno∣rant may do. Yea, the very name of a Presbytery (as I said before) if we look through the whole Scripture, signifieth a Magistracy, or Signiory, or Corporation invested with authority of governing and ruling; and such a counsell and company of men, as upon whom the government under Christ is laid, and to be extended so far, as their jurisdiction extendeth, and as far as by common consent it may make for the good and edification of the church, and for the safety of the same. And such was the government of all those churches of the New Testament, which were as so ma∣ny Committees, their limits and bounds prefixed them, as at this dayall Committees through the Kingdom have in their severall Hundreds, Rapes, Wapentakes, and Cities, to whom the ordering Page 66 and government of those places that are under them, are commit∣ted; so that all that is done or transacted, must be done by the joynt consent, and councell of the whole Committee, not any par∣ticular man or any two of them severally considered by themselvs, can make an order; but that order onely is binding which is made by the joynt consent and common agreement of them all, or the greatest part of them assembled together. Even so all those par∣ticular Congregations that are within the compasse and jurisdicti∣on of the severall Presbyteries, are to be ordered and governed by the common and joynt councell of the severall Presbyters, or the greater part of them. For this was the order the Apostles establi∣shed, appointing in every City a Presbytery; and when they had so ordered the Churches, they set them all to their severall im∣ployments, the Presbyters to command, and all the people and particular Assemblies and Congregations under them, to obey; nei∣ther is it ever found in the holy Scriptures, that the people were joyned with the Presbyters in their Commission. So that they that oppose this government, resist Gods Ordinance. And if we looke into all the Epistles writ by the Apostles to the se∣verall Churches, we shall finde in them, That they enjoyne all the severall Congregations to yeeld obedience to their Pastors and Ru∣lers over them, and signifie unto them that they owe unto them double honour, especially such as labour in the Word and Doctrine; that is, they must yeeld unto them, not onely due reverence and subjection, and obedience to their councell and just commands in the Lord; but that they should also afford them the honour of maintenance, and take order there be a sufficient and competent, yea, an honourable allowance for their support; and that as they minister to them spirituall food for their soules, they should like∣wise minister unto them all things necessary for the maintenance of them and their Families, that they may comfortably and with∣out solicitous care, follow their holy imployments and wait upon their severall Ministeries. So that the place and imployment of the Presbyters, is to teach and rule the people; and this is their proper worke, and peculiarly belongs unto them; and the imploy∣ment and place of the severall congregations under them, is to hear and obey: and therefore if the severall congregations do as∣sume unto themselves the power of ruling, they take more upon them then by God is allowed them: and the Presbyters in Page 67 yeilding unto it, reject their own right, and devest themselves of that authority that God hath put into their hands; and by so doing in time may not onely bring confusion into the Church, but to all those Countries where such usurpations are tolerated. I cannot but speake my conscience in this point: And truly, very reason dictates unto a man, that they only should have the authority of commanding and ruling over the Churches, to whom the power of the Keyes is given. Now it is given only to the Ministers and Presbyters, as we see it in Iohn 20. 21. and Matth. 18. 15, 16, 17, 18. Where our Saviour Christ established a standing government, to be continued to the end of the World, the violating and the over∣throwing of the which, was the cause of all those confusions, both in doctrine and manners that is now come upon the world; and was the cause, not only of the rise, but the growth of Antichrist. And the reducing of it again into the Church, and the re▪sta∣blishing of it, will be the confusion of that Man of Sin, and of all the Antichristian-brood, and be a meanes of establishing truth and peace through the Christian world. But it will not be amisse a little to consider that place in Matth. 18. If thy Brother, saith Christ shall trespasse against thee, go and tell him of it between thee and him alone: if he shall heare thee, thou shalt gaine thy brother; but if he will not heare thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word may be esta∣blished. And if he shall neglect to heare them; then tell it unto the Church: but if he neglect to heare the Church, let him be to thee as a Heathen man and a Publican. Verily, verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall binde on earth, shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven. In these words our Saviour Christ has respect unto the order and custome of judicature in those times in censuring mens manners and do∣ctrines, which among the Jewes was ordered and administred by an assembly and counsell of learned, experienced, and judici∣ous men, and by a Presbytery, Consistory, or Colledge of a∣ble men for government, chose and selected out of the peo∣ple for this very purpose, by such as could judge and discerne of their abilities: the which assembly and company, is by Christ himself called a Church, because it did represent the Church, and in this place Christ did establish the like to be continued in the Christian church to the end of the world, making his Apostles Page 68 this representative body, and their successors all the godly and ho∣ly Ministers and Presbyters, and gives unto them the same power and Authority, to judge and determine of all things belonging unto faith and manners that was observed in the Jewish church, in all Ecclesiasticall Discipline. For otherwise, the Christian church should be inferior to that of the Jews, if they had not the same Priviledges for the censuring of manners and Doctrines, and the same power of jurisdiction and ruling that they had. Now all power of jurisdiction among the Jews, was exercised not by the promiscuous multitude, or by the whole congregation, nor by any particular man, nor by two or three (as the place above spe∣cifies) but by an Assembly, Senate, Councell, or Presbytery, of understanding men assigned to that purpose, which our Saviour himself calleth a Church; & this government established in the Chri∣stian church, are the severall Presbyteries, where all things are tran∣sacted by common and joynt consent: and this was the practise of the Apostles at Ierusalem, who did all businesse of publike concern∣ment, by common and joynt consent, as is manifest, in the first chap. of the Acts, in chusing of an Apostle in Iudas his place, and in the 5. chap. in censuring Annanias and Saphira and in the 6. chap. in chu∣sing Deacons, and in the 15. chapter in determining the question there in hand, all in a Presbyterian way and by common consent.
And this is that government, that God hath commanded to be perpetuated to the end of the world, in these words; Whatsoever ye shall binde on earth, shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. So that the Presbyters onely have the power of the keyes, & it is their place only to ordain Mi∣nisters and Church Officers, (whatsoever Authority the people may exercise in the chusing of them) as Paul writes unto Timothy and Titus, and they onely are to judge and determine and to cen∣sure in matters of manners and doctrine, and the people are to allow and approve it according to the Word of God. Yea the very Synagogues of the Jews, which were the same that our churches are, were governed by a Presbytery, (as our brethren acknowledge) called by the name of the Rulers of the Syna∣gogue, who governed by joynt and common councell; as is evi∣dent and manifest, in that there were superior and inferior Judges▪ Commanders, and Rulers, according as their yeares, gravity and wisdome made them more emninent then others, and venerable to Page 69 the people: as may appeare in many places as Acts 18. ver. 8. It is said there, That Crispus the chiefe Ruler of the Synagogue be∣leeved with all his houshould. So that if there were a chiefe Ruler, or Iudge, or a President; there must of necessity be a Councell or Segniory of inferiour ones, that had Rule and Authority over others as well as he: and where there is a chiefe Justice or Judge, there are other Judges joyned with him, as all reason perswades, and there must needs be a Court of Judicature, where all things are transacted, by conjoynt and common consent and agreement: and so it was in the Synagogues of the Jewes, who were subject to, and ordered by the determinations and abitrement of their Rulers and Governours. So that the severall Churches or Syna∣gogues under the Jews were in subjection to those Rulers, and were governed according as by common councell they ordered. And Mat. the 5. vers. 22. And behold there came one of the Rulers of the Synagogue, whose name was Iairus▪ here was a speciall Ecce added to take notice, that a great man, and one in authority, came unto Christ, and that in a publick way, and one of the Rulers of the Synagogue. So that wee may observe the people in every Syna∣gogue were governed and commanded by their Rulers, and they were to yeeld obedience unto them, and were not joyned with them in Commission, but stood to their determination, as all men use to doe in Courts of Judicature, that appeal unto them for ju∣stice. And this custome and manner of government was trans∣acted over to the Christian Churches; and those that were called Rulers among them, are among Christians sometimes called Presbyters, sometimes Guides, sometimes Rulers, and by Christ himselfe and by his Apostles, are appointed over all Christian Churches as so many corporations; to which all the Assemblies and Congregations under them, and committed to their charge, are to yeeld obedience and submission, in whatsoever they command in the Lord, and according to his blessed Word; for that must be the rule both of their commanding and of the peoples obeying. And this Presbyterian government, is that manner and way of ruling all Assemblies and particular Congregations under it, that God hath appointed in his Church, to be continued to the end of the world; the which whosoever resisteth, resisteth the Ordinance of God. And this shall suffice to have spoken in generall, in way of proofe, That all Churches wee have mention of under the New Te∣stament,Page 70were Aristocratically and Presbyterially governed, that is, were under the Government of a Colledge or Assembly of Presby∣ters.
And now I come to prove in order the foure Propositions or conclusions I undertooke to make good. The first was, That there were many Congregations and severall Assemblies in the Church of Ierusalem, in the which they had all acts of worship, and did partake in all Ordinances of Church-Fellowship; and that before the persecution we reade of Act. 8. and under the persecution, and after the persecution. And for the proofe of this Proposition, and every branch of it, I will first produce such pla∣ces of Scripture as make for the manifestation of the truth, and from thence frame and forme my Arguments, Mat. 3. ver. 1, 2. 5, 6. In those dayes came Iohn the Baptist, preaching in the wilder∣nesse of Iudaea, and saying, Repent ye, for the Kingdome of hea∣ven is at hand. Then went out to him Ierusalem, and all •udaea and all the Region round about Iordan, and were baptized of him in Ior∣dan confessing their sinnes. The Baptisme of Iohn, as all the learned know, was the same with that of the Apostles, for he preached the Baptisme of Repentance for the Remission of sinnes, and Bap∣tized all that came to him▪ into Iesus Christ, saying unto the peo∣ple, That they should beleeve on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Iesus, Act. 19. ver. 4. Hee had his Commission also from God as well as the Apostles, and Baptized Christ him∣selfe; hee preached also the Gospel and the Kingdome of the Messiah as well as the Apostles; and had many honourable Te∣stimonies from Christ himselfe; as, That he was the greatest Pro∣phet that ever was borne of woman, and That he was a bright shining light, and That he was his witnesse; and many other En∣comiums and praises did Christ give of him, to ratifie his Authori∣ty, and to shew that he was sent of God, and that he was that Elias that was to come before the Messiah: And all the people owned, and tooke him for a man sent of God, and Ierusalem went out to him, and all the Region round about, and were Baptized of him. In these words wee find that the people of Ierusalem were all tur∣ned Christians, and made members of the Christian Church, and were beleevers. For which way soever the word Ierusalem be taken, it signifieth a numberlesse multitude of men, or an innume∣rable company.
Page 71 For if we consider Ierusalem at this time, she was a most popu∣lous City: the Historians that write of that age, relate, That she had somtimes in her, no lesse then eleven or twelve hundred thousand; but let it be taken that these were but six hundred thousand inhabi∣tants, it is a vast multitude, and yet seldome was there lesse inha∣bitants in Ierusalem, if any beleife may be had to Historians; for at that time it was one of the Metropolis Cities of the world, and the glory of Nations and the joy of the whole Earth; and besides there was then great expectation, as we may read, Luke 19. 11. That the Kingdome of God should immediately appear, and all the Jewes out of all Nations where they were scattered, now repai∣red to Jerusalem, and returned into their own countrey, expect∣ing the Messiah. So that at this time, we cannot conceive but that there were infinites of people in Jerusalem, and it is said, That Jerusalem went out and was baptized by Iohn. By Jerusalem, here metonimycally the place is taken for the people. Now when it is said that a City goeth out, it is to be understood either of the whole people, Man, Woman, and Child, old and young, with all the inha∣bitants; as many times it happens, in great Earth-quakes, or some Pestilence or Inundation, that all the Inhabitants are forced to leave a City, and to seek some other habitation, or of some great part; but we cannot conceive the going out of Jerusalem to Iohn Baptist in that large sense and expression; so that in this place it must be taken Synecdochycally, and we are to understand a great part, or a chiefe part for the whole: as when a City is said to en∣tertaine a King, or to go out to meet a King, here it is to be under∣stood principally of the chief Officers, as the Lord Mayor, Alder∣men, and the Common-councell, and all their severall Compa∣nies, and chiefe Captaines and Commanders, with all their mag∣nificence; so that in this notion the common people and the or∣dinary Citizens are not thought on, or at least are not numbred. As when JESUS was borne in Bethlem, and the Wise Men came to Jerusalem, to enquire where they should finde him that was borne King of the Iewes, that they might worship him, for they had seen his Star, it is said, That when Herod heard these things, He and all Ierusalem was troubled with him. Here, by all Ierusalem, is to be understood all the chiefe Officers and Courti∣ers; for the common people were glad of it; for that was the day they had long looked for, and rejoyced at: but Herod being an Page 72 Usurper and a Tyrant, and all his Nobles, Peers, and Great men being confederate with him, and adjutors in his usurpation and tyranny, and conceiving that Christ was an earthly Monarch; and that after the manner of the Kings of the Earth, he would not onely pull down the Usurper, but likewise call all them in question, as guilty of High Treason, and cut them of as com∣plices and abettors; this made them tremble and feare; and be∣cause it was the generall fear of all the great men in Jerusalem, and of all the Courtiers and Officers under Herod, therefore it is said, that Herod and all Ierusalem with him was troubled. So that Ty∣rants and their complices never have any reall peace. But in this sense also it cannot be understood, that Ierusalem went out to John and was baptized; it must therefore by a Senecdoche be ta∣ken for all the common people promiscuously, or for a mighty multitude of all sorts, and of all ranks of people, and of all profes∣sions, as Publicans, Souldiers, and the ordinary Inhabitants: and in this sense the word Jerusalem must be taken for a mighty mul∣titude of men in Jerusalem that were made Christians; for other∣wise the Evangelist would have said, many went out of Ierusa∣lem also, as well as out of other places: but in saying that all Iu∣dea, and all the Regions round about, and Jerusalem went out; this metaphoricall expression doth signifie, That an infinite num∣ber of people in Ierusalem it selfe, were made Christians and Members of the Church; and that it is so to be understood, the pla∣ces following will evidently evince it: for in Matth. 11. 12. our Saviour saith, That from the dayes of Iohn the Baptist, untill now, the Kingdome of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force, then the which, there could nothing be spoke more em∣phatically, to set forth the growth and increase of Beleevers, and the multitude of Christians, as Luke also in ch. 16. v. 16. expresseth saying, That the Law and the Prophets were untill Iohn; since that time the kingdome of God is preached, and every man presseth in to it: that is, the generality of the people became beleevers, and were baptized: as it is yet more evident from Luke 7. 29, 30. by the very testimony of our Saviour, who saith, That all the people that heard him, and the Publicans, justified God, being baptized with the Baptisme of Iohn; but the P harisees and Lawyers reje∣cted the councell of God against themselves, being not baptized of him. So that by the witnesse of our Saviour Christ, except the Page 73 Pharisees and the Priests; all the people, or the generality of the people in Ierusalem were baptized, and became Christians, and imbraced the Gospell: and this was accounted among the mira∣cles that was wrought in those dayes, and as a thing of speciall observation, and as a matter of wonder; as we may see in the message our Saviour Christ sent unto Iohn the Baptist by his Dis∣ciples, when he bad them relate unto their Master, what they had seen and heard in the 22. Verse; Tell him saith he, That the blinde see, the lame walke, the Leapers are cleansed, the deafe heare, and the dead are raised, and the poore receive the Gospel; this I say, was among the miracles, that the generality of the poore imbrace the Gospel, and were baptized and made Believers: which must needs import a mighty multitude, and a great increase, or else it would not have been a thing of such wonder, and have been sent unto Saint Iohn as a miraculous thing; and a thing worthy to prove Christ himself to be the Messiah looked for; for no meere man could have wrought such a work, asto draw the hearts of the the people to imbrace the Gospel, but the Messiah himself; For Paul may plant, and Apollo may water, 1 Cor. 3. but God only the Messiah, must give the increase; he must move the heart to imbrace the Gospel, and to believe; for faith is the gift of God, Ephes. 2. and therefore this was the wonder that the generality of the people did believe and were baptized, and this was the sole work and operation of Christ, and therefore proved him to be the Prophet they looked for. And it stands with all reason that there were infinites of people in Jerusalem that believed; and that Iohn was greatly magnified of the people, and publickly fol∣lowed, because for a time, Herod himselfe countenanced Iohn Mark. 6. 20▪ and feared him, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him, and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. And although we read not that he was baptized by Iohn, yet he highly honoured him; till Iohn re∣proved him, and told him, it was not lawfull for him to have his Brothers Wife. And in this interim of his seeming favour, we may conceive, that the Courtiers also and the great men would do as their Master did: for if we observe the manner of all Courts to this day, what the King does the Courtiers also do; if the King laugh, though there be perhaps a cause of mourning, they will all laugh; and if he frownes, though there be a cause of cheerfulnesse Page 74 and smiling, they will al frown; and if the King commends any man, they will all admire him; and if he hears any Minister glad∣ly, they will all heare him willingly: and if he when he is repro∣ved, be angry and displeased, and will cut off his head whom he had so honoured but the day before, then all the Courtiers, they will helpe him, and further the worke: as we may see, not only in the example of Iohn Baptist, but in Haman; as soon as the King frownd upon him, the Courtiers they covered his face, and up they trussed him; be it right or wrong it is all one to Courtiers. But in that interim, I say, that Iohn Baptist was in favour with the King, without doubt it animated the people greatly to follow him, and by hearing him, many thousand Saints were converted, and the multitudes of them were numerous, as is manifest from Matth. 14. 5. for it is said, That when he would have put him to death he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a Pro∣phet. Here are two observables, the one, That he that feared not God, was afraid of his servants. The second, that it was a migh∣ty multitude of Believers that were in Ierusalem; for a few could not have awed the King and kept him in feare: and therefore he was forced to defer the cutting off of his head, till he had got to him all the strength of Galilee, all his Lords and high Captains, and his chiefe Estates and Commanders, Mark 6. 21. And when he thought himselfe strong enough, then he exercised his tyranny. Yea, when Iohn was taken away, yet the multitudes of the people continued stedfast in the faith, as we may see in Luke 20. by the confession of the very enemies: for when our Saviour asked them concerning the baptisme of Iohn, Whether it was from Heaven or of Men? And they reasoned among themselves, saying, if we shall say from Heaven, he will say, why then believed ye him not? and if we say of Men, all the people will stone us, for they be perswaded that Iohn was a Prophet. Here by the confession of the very ene∣mies, all the people, or the generality of them were Believers; and it must of necessity be a mighty multitude, that kept all the Priests and all the Elders that had all the power in their hands, in awe, that they durst not so much as open their mouthes against Iohn the Baptist. From all which places, and many more that might be produced, to prove, That there were so many Believers in Ierusalem as could not all meet in one place or roome, or in one Congregation, to partake in all acts of worship; I thus argue.
Page 75 Where there was an infinite multitude, or a mighty City of Be∣lievers, there they could not all meet together in one place or roome, or in one Congregation, for the enjoying of all acts of worship, and for edification (which is required in the Churches, 1 Cor. 14. 26.) but of necessity must be distributed into severall Congregations and Assemblies, and divers divisions, that they might be all edified, and partake in all Ordinances. But in the Church of Ierusalem, by the very baptisme and preaching of Iohn, there were infinite multitudes, and a very City of Believers. Ergo, they could not all meet toge∣ther in one place or roome, or in one congregation for the enjoying of all acts of worship, and for edification (which is required in the Church of God) but of necessitie must be distributed into severall congregations and assemblies, and divers divisions, that they might all be edified, & partake in all ordinances. For the major, it is cleare, by the very light of nature, and all reason: for there is no one place or house that can contain a whole City, or infinite multitude of Be∣lievers: and if any great place could containe them, they could not all be edified and partake of all the acts of worship. For if the very great raw-bon'd building of Pauls it self were cramm'd full of peo∣ple, and had a Preacher of the strongest lungs in the City, half the people could not hear and be edified, as daily experience telleth us; so that of necessity, if they would be edified, and partake in all the Or∣dinances, they must be distributed into divers congregations, and severall assemblies. I am most assured that there were such mul∣titudes of Believers in Jerusalem, that five such buildings as Pauls could not have contained their very bodies within their wals, much lesse receive them, or entertaine them for edification. So that for the major, I am confident there is no intelligible man will doubt of it. For the Minor, it is manifest from the places above produced; for our Saviour saith, excepting the Pharisees and the Lawyers (which were but a little handfull) all the people, or the generality of them, justified God, and were baptized, and were Be∣lievers. So that the conclusion from the premises doth neces∣sarily follow. But from the former places I argue yet further after this manner.
Where there was such an infinite company and multitude of Chri∣stians and Believers, as kept a tyrannicall King in awe, and all the Magistrates and Elders in whose hands was all the power and au∣thority; and struck such a fear and terror into them all, that they Page 76 durst not exercise their cruelty and tyranny over them, though they were their inveterate enemies, and desired it: There of necessity the number of the Believers must be so great, as they could not all meet together in one place or roome, or in one congregation, for the enjoy∣ing and partaking in all the acts of worship; but if they would be edi∣fied, must be distributed into divers congregations and assemblies. But in Ierusalem there were such an infinite company and multi∣tude of Christians and Believers, as kept Herod himself, the tyrant, in awe, all the Magistrates and Elders, in whose hands was all the power and authority; and struck such a feare and terror into them, that they durst not exercise their cruelty and tyranny over them, though they were their inveterate enemies, and desired it. Ergo, of necessity the number of the Believers was so great, as they could not all meet together in one place or roome, or in one congregation, for the enjoying and partaking in all acts of worship; but if they would be edified, must be distributed into divers Congregations and As∣semblies.
For the Major and Minor of this Syllogisme, besides the force of reason and common understanding, which were enough to con∣vince any rationall creature of the truth of them: the holy Scrip∣ture it self (as from the places above specified, is manifest) proves them. So that none can doubt of the truth of the conclusion, but such as will call in question truth it selfe. I might out of the severall places above mentioned draw many more Arguments to prove the conclusion; but because I study brevity, these for the present shall serve, to prove, That by the very baptisme and Mini∣stery of S. Iohn the Baptist, there were such an infinite company of Be∣lievers in the Church of Ierusalem, as they could not al meet together in one place or congregation, for the injoying of all the Ordinances.
To these first arguments of mine, by which I proved that by the very Baptisme of S. Iohn there were more converted and made Christians and believeres in Ierusalem then could meete in any one place or Congregation, Master Knollys answers by denying the minor of my Syllogismes, and I. S. by denying they were Christi∣ans as we shall see. I will therefore reply unto them both, in order, beginning first with Master Knollys, whose words are these pag. 8. I do deny the minor proposition of these arguments saith he. Neither hath the Doctor proved, that there was an infinite number of belee∣vers, nor a very City of beleevers in the Church of Ierusalem. The Page 77 Scriptures quoted by the Doctor speak no such thing. Those places in Matthew, Mark and Luke, tell us of very many who were baptized by Iohn, and by Christs Disciples; but doe not declare how many of those baptized persons were of the Church of Ierusalem; and the Scripture witnesseth, Act. 9. 31. That there were Churches through all Iudaea, as well as in Ierusalem; and for ought I know, or the Do∣ctor either, many of those baptized persons might be in those Chur∣ches, yea the most of them, and but a few in Ierusalem; it may be no more but those hundred and twenty mentioned, Act. 1. 13, 14, 15. to whom were added about three thousand soules, who continued in the doctrine of the Apostles, and in breaking of bread and prayers, Acts the 2. 42, 43, 44. This is all Master Knollys hath to say by way of answer for the enervating of the strength of my Arguments and Reasons, by which I proved there were more converted by Iohns Ministerythen could meet in any one place in Ierusalem.
Now here before I come to reply, I referre my selfe to the ju∣dicious Reader, whether from the forgoing places, which I quoted out of the Holy Word of God, & from the Reasons and Arguments deduced out of it, it was not sufficiently evinced, That there were an infinite number of beleevers, and a very Citie of them in the Church of Ierusalem, and therefore more then could meet in any one place or Congregation: I demand I say of any intelligible Christi∣an, whether those Scriptures I cited with the Arguments deduced from them doe not speake and perswade such a thing? I am con∣fident all such as know any thing in learning, will say they doe. But for answer, Master Knollys himselfe, grants that very many were baptized by Iohn and Christs disciples, and none were bap∣tized then but Beleevers, as he and all the Independents doe con∣fesse and acknowledge; but saith he, the Scriptures quoted, do not declare how many of those baptized persons were of the Church of Ierusalem; for the Scriptures witnesse that there were Churches through all Iudaea, as well as in Ierusalem, and for ought (saith he) I know or the Doctor either, many of those baptized persons might be of those Churches, yea the most of them, and but a few in Ierusalem, it may be no more but those hundred and twenty, mentio∣ned, Acts the 1. vers. 13, 14, 15.
If a bare denyall of any Argument with a senselesse Reason or two, and an it may be, were a sufficient conviction of a truth, then Master Knollys would be a very precious Disputant, and to say Page 78Bellarmine thou lyest, would be enough to confute all the Papists: But in matters of this nature and of so high concernement, there is more required then bare denials, and vaine evasions and may∣bee's: And therefore I will take this liberty to tell Master Knollis, that hee trifles in Divinity, and deales not like a serious nor learned Christian, nor to the purpose: for this is not in question betweene mee and the Independents, how many of those baptized persons through all Iudaea and the Regions round about were resident in the Church of Ierusalem? This I say was never controverted be∣tweene us; for no man that I know of, ever doubted but that all those that came out of al Iudaea and the Regions round about to the Ministry & Baptism of Iohn and Christs Disciples, returned home againe to their severall habitations, and there remained and aboad, as those that came out of Ierusalem to Iohns Preaching and Bap∣tisme, after they were baptized, repaired to their severall houses & habitations in that Citie, and remained there waiting upon the publick Ordinances; this I conceive all men that have any under∣standing beleeve. And the Scripture sufficiently declareth, that the multitudes of Beleevers that came out of Ierusalem and were baptized by Iohn the Baptist, (to speake nothing now of the Apo∣stles and seventy Disciples) were numberlesse, and therefore were more then the hundred and twenty names; yea they were innumerable, & therefore more then could meet in any one place or a few. And if the Reader will but looke backe to the Scriptures above quoted, out of which I framed my Arguments, and consi∣der the insuing Scriptures and Reasons from them, he will easily perceive that Master Knollys is a meere Quibler, and a man no way fit for either disputation, or any serious imployment.
The Evangelists speaking of the great concourses of people that came from all quarters to the Preaching and Ministery of Iohn, and to be baptized, to avoid mistakes, doe specifie the severall pla∣ces out of which they came, with the numbers indefinitly set down that came from every place, saying, There went out to him Ierusa∣lem, and all Iudaea, and all the Regions round about Iordan, and were baptized of him in Iordan confessing their sinnes, Mat. the 3. Here it is abundantly declared that it was an infinite company that came from Ierusalem, as by the word Ierusalem is sufficiently ma∣nifest, being metaphorically set downe and taken in that place (as I said before) synechdochically for a mighty part and multitude of Page 79 people that came out of that City. And Saint Marke confirmes this, chap. 1. ver. the 5. who saith, there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river Jordan confessing their sinnes.
And the same is further ratified by the words of our Saviour, Luke 7. 29. 30. who saith, that all the people that heard him, and the Publicans justified God, being baptized by the Baptisme of John, but the Pharisees and Lawyers rejected the Councell of God against themselves, being not baptized. So that now by the mouth of three witnesses and by the testimony of Christ himselfe it is suf∣ficiently proved, That if Jerusalem and all the people of Jerusalem went out and were baptized by John (except the Pharisees and Law∣yers) that there was an innumerable multitude, and therefore more then could possibly meet in any one place or a few, and many more then the hundred and twenty names spoke of in the first of the Acts; which fond conceit of Mr Knollys is yet more evidently refuted out of the second of the Acts, where it is related that there were at that time Inhabitants and Dwellers at Jerusalem devout men, that is, true Worshippers and Beleevers from out of all the Nations under Heaven. To say nothing of Nicodemus, and of Joseph of Ari∣mathea and of many other Rulers, and of all the people and chil∣dren that cryed Hosanna and that received Christ into the City with all their acclamations and believed in him; the most of which were Inhabitants aud Dwellers in Jerusalem and such as had their aboad there, so that by this I have now said, the folly and vanity of Mr Knollys and his cavill is apparantly manifest, and this truth sufficiently clear to all, that there was an infinite number and a very City of Beleevers in the Church of Ierusalem, besides those that were of the other Churches in Judea, and therefore could not all meet in one place: For the Scripture saith that Ierusalem and they of Ierusalem went out and were baptized by Iohn the Baptist; and therefore all good Christians I am confident will ever beleeve the Scriptures and give credit unto the word of God rather then unto Mr Knollys; and if they will beleeve the Scripture of truth, then they will not onely beleeve there was an infinite number and a very City of Beleevers in Ierusalem, and that by the very mi∣nistry and preaching of Iohn, but that Mr Knollys is a very wic∣ked and blasphemous creature as who giveth the spirit of God the lye and opposeth also all good reason: For the spirit saith Je∣rusalemPage 80and all they of Ierusalem, except the Pharisees and Law∣yers, were baptized by John, and all these were inhabitants at Je∣rusalem; and Mr Knollys affirmeth the contrary and confuteth all the Evangelists; whether therefore he be not a very precious dis∣putant I refer it to the judgement of all sober-minded Christians that love sincerity, truth and plain dealing.
And this might suffice to shew the vanity and wickednesse of the man and what a vain caviller he is, that thus abuseth pretious time to abuse himselfe and miserably to delude ignorant people: But for the farther confirmation of my Minor, I will produce one or two testimonies more out of the eleventh of Mark, where there is mention made of two great companies and parties of beleevers and those all Inhabitants in Ierusalem, the one of them that fol∣lowed Christ and beleeved in him, at which the Scribes and Pha∣risees were offended, and sought how they might destroy him; but saith the Scripture, they feared him, because all the people were astonished at his doctrine, that is, they beleeved it: verse 18. an∣other company was those that were the Disciples of Iohn the Baptist, and they accompted Iohn a Prophet indeed, as all the men of Ierusalem did, verse 32. and either of these companies were so great and powerfull as they kept all Christs enemies in awe, so that they were affraid of the people of either party, and therefore there was then a very City of believers in Ierusalem and they In∣habitants, and that in Christs time, and they had been baptized by Saint Iohn, for all Ierusalem went out and were baptized by him; So that now I assure my selfe every but ordinary understanding man will gather that there was an innumerable multitude of belie∣vers in Ierusalem, and more than could meet in any one place, or a few if they had been put together, when there were two such potent parties there, as either of them kept the very enemies of Christ, the Magistrates and Rulers, yea Herod ▪himselfe in awe, which a few thousands could never have done; and all these were Inhabitans of Ierusalem and well known to the Scribes and Pha∣risees to be Christs and Iohns Disciples, and all beleevers, as wee shall more abundantly prove in the following discourse; and there∣fore my Minor doth now stand firme, That there were more be∣leevers in Ierusalem, and that by the very ministry and baptisme of John, then could meet in any one place or a few, and that there w•• an infinite number of beleevers and a very City of beleevers, which Page 81 Mr Knollys denyeth and in so doing gives the spirit of God the lys and contradicts the holy Scripture and opposeth all sound reason, and all this to maintain the fonde opinion of Independency. And this shall serve to have spoke by way of answer to what Mr Knol∣lys had to reply to my first arguments concerning the multitudes baptized by John the Baptist.
I will now give an answer to what I. S. hath to say against this argument, of whom I shall take the liberty by way of pre∣face before I come to my Reply, to speak something, and yet no more then shall be thought fit and agreeable to sound reason, and so much the rather I do it, because this man greatly vanteth him∣selfe, and because his answer is highly esteemed of amongst many of the congregationall way, who I confesse are much to be blamed that they suffer themselves to be deluded with such fellowes, ne∣ver examining their writings, but taking all for oracles they vent, and thinking it enough that there is any thing come out against a Presbyterian in way of answer, though there be nothing more destructive to their own opinion, as I am confident it will appear to all judicious men, that these answers of Mr Knollys, my Bro∣ther Burton and this I. S. are. And for I. S. I may say thus much of him that he is yet vainer then Mr Knollys in his answers; for he candidly denyeth upon all occasions the Minors of my Syl∣logismes, and then gives some sucking reasons for this his denyall; but this I. S. hath nothing of a Scholler in him; for all good Schol∣lers and Disputants will set down the arguments of their adversa∣ries in their full strength and as they are in the Copy, and then ei∣ther deny the Major or Minor, or both; or distinguish, and after they have shewen the fallacyes of the arguments, if there be any, then by their art and learning they will shew the weaknesse of them, and so evade the dinte and force of them; this I say is the method, not onely of all accurate Disputants, but of every ordi∣nary jangler, if he, at least, pretends any thing to learning: But I. S. hath not so much ingenuity in him as to do any thing of all this; but first sets down my arguments in an obscure way and to the halves, so that the unlearned Reader cannot perceive the strength of my reason; and then in a confused manner gives in his answer in the name of all the Independents, which upon due exa∣mination I am confident will appear to all learned men to be no∣thing but a packe of blasphemies and contradictions as being a Page 82 meer fighting against the truth and a giving of the spirit of God the lye, as in the sequell will be evidenced.
Our Saviour in the 3 of John verse 20. 21. saith, That hee that doth the works of darknesse, shunns the light; but he that doth truth, cometh to the light, &c. Truly I may justly accuse I. S. and his fraternity of this sin, that they not only shun the light themselvs but hinder others also from it, and do whatsoever in them lies to keep men from the knowledg of the truth and from prying into their errors, that by this means they may atttain unto their own ends, and therefore they not onely disp•rage all the Presbyterians, and with their calumnies labour to make them odious to the people as so many railors and persecutors, for so they call us, that they may neither hear their Sermons, nor read any books written by them, or any thing penned against their Novelties by those of that party; and all this to abuse the simple people, that by this their art they may with-hold the truth from them in unrighteousnesse: And in this facultie are all the Independents very expert who cunningly either pick and choose or curtalize and adulterate all a guments that are brought against them, or else totally passe them over with sligh∣tings, when they can no way with any reason reply unto them. And as they are generally void of all good learning and sciences, so there is neither ingenuity, candor or honesty amongst the most of them, these excellent graces and vertues being now strangers to those of the congregationall way, amongst the which fraud and juglings and all manner of dissimulation and railing are the only master pieces of their craft, by which they maintain and uphold their way and foment their errors; for should they deal fairly with us and not disswade the people from reading our books and hear∣ing our godly and painfull Ministers, and would they but set down our arguments and reasons in their full strength, the people would not onely speedily see their errors but relinquish them. And therfore they all take speciall care to keep the people in ignorance; and amongst those Artificers and Craf•s-men of that new Goddesse that Diana of Independency, this J. S. though in all good lear∣ning he be a very novice, yet in this craft of jugling he is pretily expert. And that all men may see I do not falsly accuse him, I will first set down the sum of my arguments taken from the multitudes baptized by Iohn the Baptist, and and then set down in what terms he delivers them, with his vain and impious answer to them.
Page 83 The summe of my Arguments is this.
Where there was an infinitemultitude, or a mighty City of beleevers, there they could not all meete together in one place or roome or in one congregation to injoy all acts of worship for edification; but in the Church of Ierusalem, by the very baptisme and preaching of Iohn, there was an infinit multitude and a very City of believers; ergo they could not all meete together in any one congregation.
This is the sum of my first Argument. The second is this.
Where there was such an infinite company and multitude of Chri∣stians and believers, as kept a tyrannicall King in awe and all the Magistrates and Elders, in whose hands was all the power and au∣thority; and struck such a terror into them all, as they durst not exer∣cise their cruelty and tyranny over them, though they were their in∣veterate enemies, there of necessity the number of them must be so great, as they could not all meet together in one place or congrega∣tion to partake in all Acts of worship. But, in the Church of Je∣rusalem there was such a company of believers by the very baptisme of Iohn; ergo they could not all meete together in any one place or congregation.
This is the summe of my arguments, which I made good out of the Word of God, and from sound reason, as they that have read my booke with judgement, I am confident will acknowledge.
Now heare how J. S. setteth them downe with his answer to them pag. the 8. and 9. of his booke.
The Doctors first proposition is (saith he) that there were many Congregations and severall assemblies in the Church of Jerusalem &c. for proofe whereof (saith he) he bringeth the multitudes of Converts to Iohns Baptisme; the people of Jerusalem, all of them; and all Iudaea &c. whereby (saith he) all became Christians, or members of the Christian Church: for Iohns baptisme was into Iesus Christ, and the very same with that of the Apostles. Thus I. S. sets downe my Arguments, which I affirme, is not candid∣ly done of him: for the ignorant Reader cannot see into the strength of my arguments, they being delivered in such obscure tearmes, and set down also to the halves, the whole truth not being specified. For not one of ten thousand had ever seene or read my book, & I dare say, not one of an hundred of the Independents had ever vouchsafed so much as to looke into it; for I was made so odious unto them by their blasting language, as they abhorred my Page 84 very name: with all howsoever they boasted at the first coming of it out, that there were twenty pens at worke in answering of it, yet not one of them ever appeared, till three moneths after it was printed. Now all the Copyes that were printed were all gone in one weeke, so that the answers coming out so long after, and my arguments not being known to the people, and being in this obscure manner and in such darke expressions, and but to the halves set down, every vulgar understanding can never see into the weight and strength of them, especially, they having not my booke before them.
And to say the truth, all the Independents ordinarily use this method in their pretended answers, as first, to let the bookes they reply unto be forgotten, and after that to blurte out some∣thing against them, concealing the truth, and then they crow out as victors and conquerers, that they have beate up our quarters and puld downe the pillars of our discourse, as I S. doth vain∣ly in this his Pamplet, when it will appeare to all intelligible men that he hath onely cast a squib or two at them, and then as a meere fresh water Souldier speedily ran away, and left that worke to others, as he unaduisedly in the tenth page and in his wise Epistle confesseth, sayning indisposition of body, when in∣deede it was his want of wit, learning, honesty, and courage.
As I haveset downe the sum of my Arguments, and compared his expressing of my meaning, with it; I will also set downe the summe of his answer to them, which he giveth in the name of all the Independents, saying, we answerd to your reason; and then set downe his own words in their full length, that all men may see my faire dealing with him. For I. S. doth not here deny my minor as Master Knollys did, or accuse me of false Musters as he vainely and impiously doth in his answer to my second Argu∣ments. But plainly denieth that those that were baptized by Iohn Baptist were Christians, to whom my brother Burton assen∣teth, page 16. of his book saying that those beleevers that were baptized by Iohn Baptist into Christ to come, according to the Papists doctrine, were not formed into a Christian Church, or Churches, as after Christs resurrection Christians were. These are my brother Burtons formall words, who not only assenteth to I. S. in this his opinion, but also bringeth in the authority of the Papists to confirme this their doctrine, and so in this the Independents Page 85 agree with the Papists to overthrow the truth, and to maintain their abominable errors.
And this I conceive, was the cause that moved my brother Burton in the ninth page of his booke in the beginning of his answer, to say, `as for your indefinite enumeration of those multi∣tudes baptized by Iohn the Baptist and Christs Disciples, we take no notice of them. This is his expression there, concerning the which in due place. Surely if my brother Burton had thought them Christians, he would have demeed them worthy to have been taken notice of: but in this he agreeth with I. S. and the Papists.
Now I will give you the summe of I. S. his Arguments, in way of answer, by which he denieth that those that were baptized by Iohn the Baptist were Christians.
The first is because (saith he) they were baptised into Christ that was to dye, and not dead; therefore in his dialect they were no Christians.
The second, they were not baptized with the holy Ghost and with fire; therefore thy were no Chrstians.
The third, they were no more Christians then the Iewes that passed through the red Sea; but they were no Christians; ergo they also that were baptized by Iohn were no Christians.
The fourth, The baptisme of Iohn was not perfect, ergo those that were baptised by him were no Christians.
The fifth, those that were baptized by Iohn, did not only hasitate, but were scandalized at the true Messiah, and under the forme of Iohns baptisme did fight against the true baptisme and baptiser the Lord Jesus: ergo they were no Christians.
Sixthly, they that were baptized by Iohn were not cast into a Church mould, according to the New▪testament forme, neither were they members of one Christian Church at Jerusalem, ergo they were not Christians; and this Argument is brought in by way of a corallary.
This must needs be the scope of his answer, or else he sayth nothing to the purpose in denying my Arguments, which were not only to prove, that those that were baptized by Iohn Baptist were Christians and beleevers, but also that they were in such multi∣tudes as they could not all possibly meete in any one place, or con∣gregation to communicate in all the Ordinances and all Acts of worship to edification. The dint and force of the which Argu∣ment, Page 86 he thinkes he sufficiently evadeth, by denying that they were Christians at all. So that if this Answer be well looked into and examined, it will appeare that whiles he boasteth and glori∣eth that he hath beate up my quarters, he beates up Saint Iohns quarters, yea Christs quarters, and all his Disciples quarters before Christs death and Ascension, and all the quarters of all Christians that now live in the world: For if none are well Baptised and made Christians indeede, but such as are Baptised with the Holy Ghost and with fire, then all those that were baptised before Christs Ascension were no true Christians, nor no Christians in these our times, nor many Generations before us, who were not baptised by the Holy Ghost and with fire; and by these his fond cavills he overthroweth the Scripture it self and all Divine and humane Authority, and gives the Spirit of God the lye.
And truly such a peece of impious ignorance with such impu∣dent confidence my eyes yet never beheld before I. S. and his complices came into the World. So that it stranges me e∣ceedingly that such men as he and they are, should be suffered by those of the Congregationall way to go unpunished, who may shame them all, as indeed they are a shame to all Christian Re∣ligion: For I appeale to the judgement of all such as have any knowledge in Religion or love to the truth, or have any modera∣tion or good temper yet left in them, whether this be a thing tolerable in any that has the name of a Christian, to play not only the juglers, to deceive and delude the poore people, but to give the Spirit of God the lye, and then to vapour and brag of it as of a conquest?
But now I will set downe his Arguments in his owne words, and give my answer to them severally. We (saith he) answer to your reasons. So that he writes in the name of all the Indepen∣dents, as one of the Commanders and Captaines in their Militia, and as one of their Champions, and therefore in the name of them all, sayeth, We answer to your reasons. Now take notice what he answers in the name of the whole Fraternity.
1. Iohns Baptisme, was into Christ, but it was in Christum mo∣riturum, not in Christum mortuum. This is J. S. his first answer. Truly one that should but looke on all his Answers to my Argu∣ments, would wonder what the man meant by them, and to what Page 87 purpose he uttered these words: for they are a manifest fighting against the Scripture of truth; as all the judicious and learned will wel perceive. And I have heard both learned & pious men say, that they did not beleeve, that I. S. did well understand himselfe when he writ this book: and there is some reason of this their opi∣nion: for hee confesseth in his wise Epistle, that hee was in a course of Physick at the wels; & who knowes but the man might then be somewhat distemperd in his braine, and so might doe the actions of a man crased? and his very language doth in a manner speake as much, both in this his Answer, and in many other passa∣ges of his Book, as in their due places will appeare, yea the very title also, and his Epistle being senselesse, calling his Pamphlet Flagellum flagelli, and the beating up of Doctor Bastwicks quarters, when he never came nigh them, and the taking hold and shaking of the Pillars of his discourse, when hee never so much as touched them, with many such other expressions, all which have no cor∣respondency amongst themselves, and shewes that the man is ei∣ther a very stranger in Rhetorick, not knowing how to keep him∣selfe to his Metaphor, or else that hee is crased indeed; and truly so every one will conceive, if they duly weigh and consider all pas∣sages in his booke; especially this answer of his to my Arguments: by which hee labours to prove that those that were baptized by Iohn the Baptist were no Christians, no Beleevers; which he doth by very senselesse reasons: the first of which I have related, viz. that they were baptized into Christ to dye and not dead, and there∣fore in his opinion they were no Christians. I omit his latine expression, as thinking it a vaine thing in him to insert latine sentences writing in the vulgar tongue, especially in handling points of divinity, & those of great concernment, which the people should have set before them in perspicuous and plaine termes.
But now take notice how the man contradicteth himselfe in his answer; for the drift of it is to prove, that those that were bapti∣zed by Iohn the Baptist were no Christians, and yet hee sayeth, they were baptized into Christ. Then they were Christians by his owne confession, for Iesus Christ was yesterday, and to day, and the same for ever, Heb. 13. and He was ever the Mes∣siah, the seed of the woman that should breake the Serpents head, that Rocke upon which the Church was built, against which the gates of Hell should never prevaile, Mat. 16. So that they that were bap∣tized Page 88 into Iesus Christ, whether whiles hee was living or dead, whether before his Nativity, death or ascension, or after, are all good Christians; therefore he contradicteth himselfe in saying they were not Christians; for it is not the circumstance of time that makes an alteration in the substance and essence of any thing: for the Passeover in Egypt, was the same for substance that it was in the Wildernesse, and in the land of Canaan; for otherwise it should follow that the Supper of the Lord celebrated by Christ himselfe before his passion, and in memoriall of his death, should not be the same with that it was after Christs Re∣surrection and Ascension; and that the Apostles that received the Lords Supper, were not Christians then as well as after his death, which I thinke I. S. will not dare affirme; but if he should, I am confident all the well grounded Christians in the world would be his adversaries in this; for the Apostle Saint Paul in the 1. of the Corinth. 11. 23, 24, 25. makes them all one for substance; and as the Sacrament of the Lords Supper was the same for essence be∣fore Christs death that it was after, so was the Sacrament of Bap∣tisme, to all that were baptized; and hee was as good a Christian that was baptized in to Christ before his death, as hee that was baptized into him after his Ascension, as all good reason will per∣swade; for Christ was ever the Messiah and King of his Church; which will yet more evidently appeare, if wee compare earthly things with heavenly.
I demand therefore of I. S. or any of the congregationall way, whether all such subjects as take the oath of allegiance, or sweare fealty to any King, who is owned by the people and whole Kingdome to be their lawfull King, as appointed and set over them of God, and is openly proclamed through the whose Realm to be their King, though at that time hee be in an other Countrey, and but now comming to take the possession of his Kingdome, I say I demand whether such subjects as take the oath of allegeance and sware fealty unto him, before he comes and sits visibly upon his Throne, be not by this their oath become that Kings subjects, as truly and as really, as if the King were bodily present? I demand further, when hee is in person come into his Kingdome, and vi∣sibly amongst them, saluted and entertained and owned by the people for their King, whether or no those subjects that then take their oath of allegeance, and promise by that their oath their subje∣ction Page 89 unto him, bee not as really and truly his subjects, as those that after hee is inaugurated and gone into one of his other King∣domes, take then the oath of allegeance, and sware subjection unto him in all his just commands? I am confident that all men that are but a little skilled in politicks, or any good learning, will ac∣knowledge, that either of the former subjects, are as truly and really subjects unto him though they never saw him (as many hundred thousands never did their Kings) as those that tooke the oath when hee was gone in triumph into an other of his King∣domes. And thus it was with those that were baptized by Iohn the Baptist, that great Officer of Christs kingdome, and the blessed Apostle, those Stewards, Secretaries, privie Counsellors, & Embas∣sadours of his Royaltie, who all baptized those that came unto them into Iesus Christ the King and Messiah, as well before his death as after, and all they owned him as well then for their King as after, crying Hosanna thou sonne of David, and strowing their garments in the way, saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord, peace in Heaven, and glory in the Highest, Luke 19. vers. 4. and therefore it is a senslesse reason, yea contra∣dictory unto it selfe that I. S. bringeth, considering there is no dif∣ference for the substance of the matter, though there be some va∣riety in respect of the circumstance of time; and in this fond error of I. S. is my brother Burton and the Papists, who thinke there was a great difference between the Baptisme before Christs death and that after his death, when indeed for substance there was none, no more then was betweene the Sacrament of the Lords Supper before Christs death and after. And therefore all those that received either of those Sacraments or both of them be∣fore his passion, were as good Christians as those that received them after; for hee was owned by them at that time to be the Lambe of God that was to take away the sins of the world of be∣leevers, and to be the King of the Iews, the Saviour of his people, to be the anoynted Christ, & they took the Sacraments upon it, which is as much as the oath of allegeance to any King, which were suffi∣cient to make them as good Christians as any that should come after them, and therefore they that were baptized by Iohn the Bap∣tist into Christ to dye, which I. S. doth acknowledge, they were all as good Christians as any now baptized by the Indepen∣dents; and therefore that hee faith to the contrary and in opposi∣tion Page 90 to this truth is a meer babble and a contradiction of himselfe. And this shall suffice to have spoke to his first answer to prove that those that were baptized by Iohn the Baptist were as good Chri∣stians as any other that were baptized after Christs death.
His second is as senselesse, which is this. To say (saith he) that the Baptisme of Iohn was the same with Christs and the Apostles, is flat contrary to the assertion of Iohn himselfe and the Apostles, Mat. 21. 25. Act. 18. 25. I baptize you with water (saith he) but there comes one after me, who shall baptize with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. These are the words of his second argument to prove that those that were baptized by Iohn the Baptist were no Christians. In the entrance of this his answer he beats the ayre, and fights with his owne shadow and falsifies my words; for I never said nor thought it, that the Baptisme of Iohn was the same with Christs; for the Scripture relateth that Christ baptized not at all, Iohn 4. vers. 2. I said indeed, it was the same with the Apostles, and that is mani∣fest out of many places of the holy Scriptures, as out of the 3. of Luke, ver. 2. & Iohn the 1. v. 33. where Iohn himself speaking saith, hee that sent mee to baptize with water, the same said unto me, &c. Yea one of those places quoted by himselfe, Matth. 21. vers. 25. sufficiently declares that Iohn had his Commission from God him∣self, (whose Prophet he was) to baptize with water, and the Apo∣stles themselves before Christs death and Ascention baptized but with water, and had no other Commission but that Saint Iohn the Baptist had, and Iohn baptized with the Baptisme of Repentance, saying unto the people, that they should beleeve on him which should come after him that is on Christ Iesus, Act. 19. vers. 4. and the ve∣ry Apostles Baptisme before Christs death vvas no other but the Baptisme of repentance and to beleeve in Christ; yea faith and repentance was the summe of all the Preaching, both of Iohn and of all the holy Apostles, both before Christs death and after, as wee may see, Acts 20. vers. 21. where the Apostle saith, Testifying both to the Iewes, and also to the Greeks, repentance to∣wards God, and faith towards our Lord Iesus Christ. Now when the Baptisme of Saint Iohn and the Apostles, both before Christs death and after was all one for substance, and all into Christ, as wee may yet further see, Acts the 8. 16. where it is said they were bap∣tized in the name of the Lord Iesus. It was no error in mee to say that the Baptisme of Iohn was into Christ Iesus, and the very same with that of the Apostles, for the Holy Ghost which is the Page 91 spirit of truth hath so taught mee: and therefore all those that were baptized by Iohn the Baptist were as good Christians and beleevers as those that were baptized by the Apostles, if re∣pentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Iesus Christ, and being baptized into him could make good Christians; which were blasphemy to gain-say, and nothing else but to give the spirit of God the lye: and therefore J. S. affirming that there was a diffe∣rence between the Baptisme of Iohn and that of the Apostles, and denying that those that were baptized by Iohn were Christians, gives the spirit of God the lye: for the holy word of God which was penned by his spirit asserteth the contrary: And for that text that he citeth out of the third of Matthew, where Iohn saith, I baptize you with water, but there comes one after me who shall bap∣tize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire; this is nothing to his purpose nor nothing against my opinion: For, as I said before, it was never my beliefe that the baptisme of Christ and Iohns bap∣tisme was all one, seeing Saint Iohn the Baptist hath taught the contrary, as in the words alledged it is sufficiently declared: But I demand of I. S. whether the Apostles, all whose names were written in heaven, were not as good Christians and Beleevers in Jesus Christ by Iohns baptisme, before they had received the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and were baptized with fire (which we read of Act. the 2.) as they were after the cloven tongues appeared un∣to them? ver. 3. If either he or any of his fraternity shall deny it, then they must deny the sixteenth chapter of Matthew and the sixt of Saint Iohn, where we finde that honourable confession of all the Apostles where they testifie their faith in Christ into whom they had been baptized before that, yea they must deny the whole Scriptures of the New Testament which affirme the contrary: And if the baptizing of any with the Holy Ghost and with fire be that thing onely that makes men Christians and Beleevers, then none that were not so baptized were good christians: for the gifts of the Holy Ghost as the diversity of tongues and working of mi∣racles, were not promiscuous and given to all as Saint Paul doth sufficiently declare, 1 Cor. 12. 30. Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? So that all the people were not bapti∣zed with the Holy Ghost; and therefore by I. S. his learning were no christians: Neither was that the worke of the Apostles, but it was Christs work onely who first breathed the spirit upon the A∣postles Page 92 and after his ascen•ion first poured down those gifts upon them, Acts the 2. and after that at many other times through the prayer of the Apostles and putting on of their hands upon the Be∣leevers Christ for the confirmation of their Ministry, and to ma∣nifest to all those that were converted by them that they were sent by him, shed down those miraculous graces upon many, but gave them not to all; and it is also declared that they first be∣lieved and then they were baptized with the Holy Ghost; and wee have but one President that I remember in the holy Scripture, that any received the gifts of the Holy Ghost, be∣fore they were baptized with water, and that is those of Corne∣lius his house: but all the rest were baptized with water before. And therefore those gifts made them not Christians but declared them to be beleevers, and were the effects of their faith, which notwithstanding were not conferred by the Apostles, but were im∣mediately given by the spirit of Christ: So that those visible gifts were not essentiall for the making of any Christians and Beleevers; for they were alwayes Beleevers before they received them; and if those gifts had been essentiall and absolutely necessary for the making of any Christians, then all that had received them should have been saved, which they were not; besides then, many hundred thousands of the primitive Christians should not have been true Beleevers and Christians indeed; for all men generally received them not (as I proved before) and all the Christians, for ought I know, since the Primitive times, and all that now live should be no good Christians: for they were not and now are not bap∣tized with the holy Ghost & with fire. So that al men may see with how little reason this I. S. speaketh in these his argumenta•ions, and how vain and impious he is in all his cavills: this shall suffice to have spoke concerning his second answer. And now I come to his third, which is as good as the two former: His words are these.
3. Therefore now, (saith I. S.) by Iohns baptisme they were not all made Christians no more then the body of the Iewes before John were turned Christians by being baptized in the red Sea &c. For they were baptized into Christ by their baptisme, 1 Cor. 10. 3. I deny not but this baptisme of John was to prepare men for Christ, and did beare a more immediate relation to such a worke, then any Ordinance before, but it did not make them absolute Christians. It did not absolve and perfect the new Church, I mean not so far as that Ordinance of baptisme was to do afterwards.
Page 93 Thus I. S. blasphemeth rather then disputeth: For that he saith is impious in the highest degree; for it is an apparent giving of the spirit of truth the lye, and a confuting of Christ himselfe and Saint Paul, and an opposing of the generality of all the Indepen∣dents, as every understanding man will easily gather: for the Scrip∣ture everywhere and all the orthodox Divines, yea and all the In∣dependents that ever I talked with or read of before I. S. and my Brother Burton, acknowledge that those that were baptized by the Baptist and Christs Disciples before Christs death, were Chri∣stians and Beleevers; for otherwise they could not have been bapti∣zed. Notwithstanding I. S. out of his learning denyeth not one∣ly that they were Christians, but affirmeth also that those that were baptized by Moses in the red Sea were no Christians; whe∣ther therefore this be not to beat up the quarters of Iohn the Bap∣tist, Christ himselfe and the quarters of Moses the servant of the Lord, and of all the Independents, and to pull down the very pil∣lars of the holy Scriptures; and be not a horrid blasphemy in I. S. I leave to the judgement of the learned! Our saviour saith Luk. the 7. v. 29. 30. And all the people that heard him, & the Publicans justified God, being baptized with the baptisme of John, but the Pharisees and & Lawyers rejected the Councel of God against themselves being not baptized of him. Here we have Christs testimony, who asserteth that (the Lawyers and Pharisees only excepted) all that heard Iohn of which innumerable multitudes of them came from Jerusalem, for all Ierusalem went out to him, did justifie God and did not reject his Councell, that is to say, they were Believers; for the councel of God in the ministry of Saint Iohn to all the people was, that they should repent and believe in the Messiah and in token of their faith that they should be baptized; now this sweet councell for the ob∣taining of free grace and favour offered unto them by God, in the ministry of Iohn did the Pharisees and Lawyers reject to their own perdition; for they would not bring forth fruits meet for repentance, that is they would neither believe in the Messiah nor repent nor be baptized; and therefore as a company of Infidels and unbelee∣vers they despised the councell of God and his grace and favour; but all the other that heard Iohn saith Christ, justified God, and did not reject his councell, that is, they acknowledged that God was just, faithfull, mercifull and gracious, and therefore beleeved his promises and repented and were baptized and were all as good Page 94 Christians and Beleevers as any were, if any credit may be given to Christs words. Whether therefore we ought rather to beleeve the words of Christ and his testimony or I. S. his language, I refer it to the judgement of the advised reader! Christ declareth they were Beleevers and Christians, for they justified God and rejected not his councel, but imbraced his grace and favour and free mercy; I. S. saith the contrary. It is true that the name of Christian, was not given to beleevers, till they were called so at Antioch, yet to beleeve, in Christ and to be baptized into Christ, made them as well Christians before his suffering as after; for otherwise Abel, Enoch, Noah, Moses, Abraham, David and all those Martyrs spoke of Hebrewes the eleventh, and all those baptized by the Apostles be∣fore Christs death, should not have bin Christians, which were wic∣kednesse to think, when the Scripture affirmeth that they not only lived by faith, but did all those wonders by vertue of their faith in Christ, and that they all injoyed the promises; and therefore it must necessarily follow they were Christians, as all beleeving in Christ and living and dying in that faith. So that howsoever they had not the name of christians and were not so called which makes nothing against the reality of the thing, for we contend not about words, yet they were all true christians, they being all built upon that Corner stone and upon the foundation Jesus Christ, and diffe∣ring nothing for the essence and substance or object of their faith from any that did succeed them in all ages to come.
And therefore I. S. affirming that by the baptisme of Iohn the beleevers then were not made Christians, and that the Israelits Baptised by Moses in the cloude were no Christians, overthrowes the holy Scriptures and gives Christ the lye, and confutes Paul himself who in the 10. of the 1 of the Cor. ver. 1. 2. 3. affirmes, that our fathers were under the cloude, and all passed through the Sea and were all baptised by Moses in the cloude and in the Sea, and all eate the same spirituall meate, and did all drink the same spirituall drinke (for they all drank of the same spiritual Rock that followed them and that Rock was Christ) by the which testimony of the Apostle they were as good Christians: as the Corinthians; for he comparing them together, sheweth that they were equall to them in priviledges, and were as good Christians as they, according to that of Peter Acts the 15. vers. 9. and put no difference between us and them purifying their hearts by faith; & as he had proved that the Israelits were equall in Page 95 Priviledges with the Corinthians, and all other Christians, so he declareth likewise if the Corinthians and all other Christians did of∣fend against God as the Israelites did, they should likewise be equall to them in punishments: For God was no respector of persons, but as inevery nation he that feareth God & worketh righteousnesse is accep∣ted of him, Acts 10. ver. 35: so whatsoever Christians, of what Na∣tion so ever, whether Iewer or Gentiles shall offend as the Israelites did, they shall be equally punished. So that by the witnesse and testimony of Paul in this tenth chapter of the 1 of the Cor. and the 11. of the Hebrewes, and from the above cited Scriptures all our fathers under the cloude and all the Patriarkes, and all those Martyrs, and all those that were baptised by the Baptist and Christ Disciples, were all as good Christians as any Baptized after Christs death or now by those of the Congregationall way or any Christians in the world; and all that I here say is most true if any beliefe may be given to the holy Word of God. And therefore I. S. affirming the contrary blasphemeth. And now I come to his fourth Argument. Which is this.
The learned and judicious know (saith he) that Iohn was but the Messenger before Christ Mal. 3. ver. 1. And his baptisme was but as the streaming of light in the Heavens before the day, and he did only bring and restore all things to their legall perfection by water, the element of the law; but Christ Iesus he comes and Baptizes with fire, consummats all things with this transforming powerfull element, even his spirit, Thus I. S. speaketh.
To examine all the errors in these words, would take up much time, and require a large discourse, but I study brevity. As for the first part of this his answer, where he saith, the learned and Iudi∣cious know, that Iohn was but the Messenger before Christ, &c. it is a peece of vanity in him to produce the testimony of men to prove that Iohn was a Messenger of Christ, when the holy Scripture in many places assertsit, and when Christ himself hath declared that Iohn the Baptist was that Elias that was foretold should prepare the way before the Lord and make his pathes straight: but this I may truly say of I. S. that he is a meere stranger in all good learning and as ignorant in all Divinity and in the holy Word of God, as those judicious he speakes of, were singularly excellent and mighty in the Scriptures and all sound theologie, whose works and godly solid writings, if ever he had read with un∣derstanding, Page 96 he could never have bin so prodigiously blasphemous as he is in all his discourse and chiefly in these his answers: for there is not any one of them in which there is not great impiety to be discovered: as in this to accuse Iohns Baptisme and Mi∣nistry of imperfection, and to say they were but as the strea∣mingsoflight in the Heavens before the day, when notwithstanding Christ himself hath often given so many honourable testimonies of Iohn, and his Ministry, saying in the 5. of Iohn 32. that he bare witnesse of him, and that his witnesse was true, and in the 35. ver. in expresse words affirming that he was a burning and shining light, and that the Iews for a season did rejoyce in his light. And yet I. S. boldly and peremptorily affirmeth that the Baptisme of Iohn was but as the streamings of light, and that they were not consummate Christians that were baptised by him. Who shall we beleeve? I. S. or Iesus Christ? Christ saith Iohn was a burning and shining light. I. S. sayeth he was but as the streaming of light; if this be not to give Christ the lye, I know not what it is! Christ in the seventh chapter of Luke and the 28. verse, sayth, That Iohn the Baptist was the greatest Prophet that was ever borne of women. Then, he was inferior in his Ministry to none of them, no not to Moses himself, of whom the author to the Hebrewes chap. 3. vers. 5. saith with a verily, that he was faithfull in all the house of God as a servant for a testimony of those things that were to be spoken after. Now if Moses did his worke perfectly, as he did, and baptized those perfectly in the Cloude and in the sea as Paul asserteth 1 Cor. 10. and did all he did in perfection and ac∣cording to the paterne shewed him in the Mount and according to the will of God, and did perfectly consummate his Ministry, then Iohn the Baptist also did the like, for Christ saith that amongst those that are borne of women, there is not a greater Prophet then Iohn the Baptist: that is there was not one more faith∣full and that did his worke more compleatly and with more perfection: which Christs owne words in the third of Matthew do yet more fully declare vers. 15. saying suffer it to be so now: for thus it becommeth us to fulfill all righteousnesse. Now if the Baptist did fulfill all righteousnesse in his Ministry, then he did it compleatly and made those that were baptized by him perfect, compleat and consummated Christians; for he in his Office, fulfilled all righteousnesse; if therefore there were any imperfection Page 97 (as I. S. saith) in the Baptisme and Ministry of Iohn, then he did not fulfill all righteousnesse, and then Christs words should not be true, which is a high point of blasphemy to thinke, much more to say and print as I. S. doth: for he that fulfills all righte∣ousnesse in his Office doth it perfectly and compleatly, but Iohn did so: ergo all those that he baptized were compleat Christians. I demand therefore of I. S. my brother Burton and of all the In∣dependents, whether Christ was well baptized, or no by Iohn the Baptist? I presum they will not deny but that he was perfectly baptized. And if Christ himselfe was well baptized, then all that were baptized by John were also well baptized and were perfect and compleat Christians, for John was sent of God to baptize; and he obeyed Gods command in this his Ministry, and in that also fulfilled all righteousnesse, and therefore all those that were baptized by Iohn & by the Apostles before Christs death and ascen∣sion, were as perfect Christians as any that were baptized after Christs resurrection; and if they were not well baptized then Christ was not well baptized, which were high impiety to affirme; nei∣ther will I ever be induced to beleeve, that Iohn Baptist did not know as well how to make compleat Christians, as I. S. or as any of the Independent Ministers; for I know Iohn was sent of God for this worke, and that he fulfilled all righteousnesse in it, and I know also that he was faithfull in his Ministry to the death, and feared not the face of Herod nor of any Mortall creature: for all this the Scripture ascertanieth unto me; but that our Independent Ministers were ever sent of God, and bid to set up their new lights and to preach, up their congregati∣onall way or a toleration of all Religions, I doubt it. For first I know that they ranne back-ward, and forward, to and fro, before they were ever sent, and that they preach that they were never commanded from God, and that when they should have preached andstood to witnes the truth, many of them ran away and deserted it and did not stand to it as Iohn Baptist did, but like those hire∣lings Christ speaks of, Iohn the tenth, when they saw the Wolfe comming, cowardly ranne away, and left their poore flocks to the fury of those beasts and many of them now have left their flocks in the wildernesse and have deserted their charges con∣trary to the command of God Acts 20. vers. 28. who saith by the Apostle Take heede therefore unto your selves, and to all thePage 98flocke, over which the holy Ghost hath made you Bishops, to feeds the Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own bloud. In all these respects, and many more that I could name, I greatly doubt whether the Independent Ministers were ever sent of God: but for Iohn, I know he was, and I know in like manner that he fulfilled all righteousnesse in his Ministery, and made those he Baptized perfect Christian; I know likewise that he made innumerable multitudes of them, and that Jerusalem came out and was Baptized also, which when I. S. denyeth I assert he is a wicked and blasphemous fellow, and that if he had his due deserts, he ought to be spued not only out of their seven new churches here in London, but out of all their severall new fangled congre∣gations through the Kingdome as an Alien and stranger from the common-wealth of all learning and goodnesse. And this shall suffice to have spoke to the fourth learned answer. I now come to the fifth as good as the rest; his words are these.
So farre was it (saith he) that all that were Baptized by Iohn, were made Christians, that even Iohns owne Disciples (who had the best and frequentest instruction) not onely hesitated, but were right downe scandalized at the true Messias Iohn 3. ver. 26. and others did under the forme of Iohns baptisme, fight against the true baptisme and baptizer the Lord Iesus. So that I conceive (saith he) this Argument (were it granted that all the people re∣ceived Iohns baptisme) will stand in little steade to prove the conclusion, viz: that they were made Christians, much lesse cast in∣to a Church mould, according to the New Testament forme, and least of all that they were all members of one Christian Church at Ierusalem. These are his formall expressions, by which he la∣boureth to prove, that those that were baptized by Iohn the Baptist were no Christians; in these his words there is a double Argument by which he indeavours to unchristian all those that were Baptised by the Baptist. The first is, because as he falsly sup∣poseth they were enimies of Christ. The second is in that they were not rightly moulded. So that in this his last Paragraffe or Section, we have two Arguments together. Which being added to the former make up six in all, by which the profound disputant J. S. unchurches and unchristi•ns all those that were baptised by John. Now because I. S. and his complices do place so much strength in these two last Arguments, I shall desire the reader the more Page 99 seriously to weigh and consider them with the conclusions deduced from them by I. S. and my reply to them.
First whereas hee denieth that all that were baptized by Iohn were made Christians, as it is a begging of the question, so in his thus speaking hee overthrows the whole Ministry of Iohn the Bap∣tist, and contradicts the Holy Scriptures, and all those places I quo∣ted out of them in my former reply; and which is more, hee con∣tradicteth himselfe: for hee confesseth that Iohn Baptized in to Christ, and he baptized none, as all the Independents acknow∣ledge, but beleevers; therefore they were Christians by his owne confession; and yet here as often formerly he denieth they were Christians. But because I have spoke of this before, I will now come to his reasons. His first reason, to prove they were not Christians, is, because (saith he) Iohns owne Disciples (who had the best and frequentest instruction) not only hesitated, that is doubted, but were right downe scandalized at the Messiah. The second is because others did under the forme of Iohns Baptisme, fight against the true baptisme and the Baptizer the Lord Iesus. These his reasons, I affirme, are nothing else but a meer calumny, and a false accusation, and to speake the truth, are but his owne wicked and groundlesse surmises; and if every man, from his owne fictious and fond conceits, and supposed premises, may take the liberty thus to vent himselfe, I know no truth in the whole word of God, but may be called in question, yea overthrown and I know no Christians nor Saints but may at any time be unsainted and unchristianed. Our Saviour Christ in the 7. of Luke, vers. 32, 33, 34. compareth those of his time, unto little children sitting in the market place, and calling one to another, and saying; wee have piped unto you, and you have not danced; wee have mourned unto you, and ye have not wept; for Iohn the Baptist came neither eating bread, nor drinking wine, and ye say he hath a Devill. The Sonne of man is come eating and drinking, and ye say, behold a glutto∣nous man, and a wine Bibber, afriend of Publicans and Sinners. But wisedome is justified of all her children. By which words of our Saviour wee see nothing could please the Gentlemen of his time.
Now if ever there were an age in the world, or company of men in it, that might be compared to these little children, then this of ours, and the people in it, especially the Independents may Page 100 be, who are pleased with nothing, and can least of all indure any Vniformity in the Church, against which they professedly both write and preach, and as those in our Saviours dayes did speake against the Ministry of Iohn the Baptist, and against Christ himself; so at this very day amongst us, there are many that make nothing of the Ministry of Iohn, professing they take no notice of those that were baptized by him or Christs disciples, and I. S. peremptorily affirmeth, that those that were baptized by him were no Christians, and that his Ministry was imperfect; and therefore I conceive all men will judge, that the Independents may well be compared to those of Christs time, who unchurch all but themselves. But saith I. S. they were Iohns owne Disciples that both doubted and hesitated, and were right downe scandalized at the true Messias, and for proofe of this his saying hee produceth the 3. of Iohn, vers. 26. I will therefore set downe the words of the text with the forgoing verse, which will give some light to the busines in hand, verse 25. Then there arose (saith the Evangelist) a question betweene some of Iohns disciples and the Iewes about purifying, and they came unto Iohn and said unto him, Rabbi, hee that was with thee beyond Iordan, to whom thou barest witnesse, behold the same baptizeth and all men come to him. These are the words out of which I. S. grounds all his accusation against Iohns Disciples, by which hee would prove them no Christians. But if men would but duly weigh and examine the text, they will easily perceive, there is not so much as a very similitude of the illation and conse∣quence I. S. inferres from thence. For first the question there started, was not betweene Iohns Disciples and Christs, but be∣tweene the Disciples of Iohn and the Jewes, that is betweene the Scribes and Pharisees and Iohns Disciples, who were enemies of Iohn the Baptist as well as of Christ, and therefore questioned all they did, ever and anon asking Iohn and Christ by what authority they preached and did those things they did. And so here the Jewes, they questioned with Iohns Disciples concerning his Mi∣nistry, (as by all conjecture it may be gathered) & about legall puri∣fications, of which they were very studious and great observers, to which the Pharisees had added many of their ovvne, as wee may see, Matth, the 15. and Marke the 7. and therefore they con∣tended with Iohns Disciples about purifying, supposing, that there was no need of Iohns baptisme and washing, seeing they had so Page 101 much rinsing and purifying already amongst them. So that it seemes the contention betweene the Jewes and Iohns Disciples arose upon this, that Iohns Disciples much magnified the Baptisme of their Master, and the Jewes and Pharisees, they extolled as much their Purifications, thinking them necessary to salvation, which error of the Jewes, notwithstanding, had often by the Pro∣phets beene confuted, as in Isa. 1. and many other places. Now Iohn, that hee might revoke all men from this error, that they should not rest in corporall vvashings and in outvvard perfor∣mances, exhorts them to looke unto Christ, vvho vvas the truth of which all those ceremonies were but the shadowes and were all fulfilled in him, and therefore that they should by faith wholy rely upon him for salvation as the sequell of the chapter doth suffi∣ciently shew. Now in the heate of this dispute, the Evangelist re∣lateth in the 26. verse, that they came unto Iohn, and said unto him, Rabbi, hee that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou bearest witnesse, behold the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. Out of which words I see no reason why I. S. should gather, that Iohns Disciples not only hesitated, but were right downe scandali∣zed at the true Messias, but I see very good ground, why the con∣trary may be concluded; if they were Iohns Disciples and that they dearely esteemed Christ and much honoured him rather then that they vvere offended with him.