The Sixth Lecture *
HOSEA 1. the middle of the 11. verse.
And appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land.
FRom the tenth verse to the end, you have heard that God promiseth mercy to an Israel that he will in time raise up: although for that Israel to whom the Prophet spake, they shall go into captivity and shall not returne as Judah did.
Secondly, Mercy to Israel and Judah both together, and that first, In the multitude that shall be gathered, secondly, In the excellency of the state of the Church at that time above that which was before; before they were People, but then they shall be Sons: Thirdly, In the unity of them, Israel and Judah shall be both gathered together under one head. Some time was spent in the last exercise about unity, and the ex∣cellency of the unity of the Churches; wherein we laboured to convince you that uniformity in judgement, and practice is not necessary for unity in the Churches, for unity of hearts. It is a false principle that runnes in the world, that all men must needs be brought to believe and doe the same thing or else there can be no peace. If we would have light let in to us, we must so prise it as to be willing that in the discussion of truths there should be some hazard of some differences in lesser things. If a man have a house closed on every side with a thick brick-wall, and he is so desirous to keepe his house safe and stronge, that he will rather all his dayes sit in the darke, then be at the trouble to have a hole digged or a few bricks broken to let in any light, wee would accuse that man of folly. It is true indeed, we must not be so desirous of light as to break so much of the wall as to indanger the house, we must keepe that safe; but yet it is hard to let in light but there will be some bricks taken away, and there must be some trouble. A childe when he sees the work-man with his tooles breaking the wall and making a deale of rubbish, hee thinks he is pulling down the house, but a wise man knows it is but a little trouble for the present to let in light that shall be for the beauty of the house afterward.
Unity in the Churches is lovely. But it must be under one head.
They shal be gathered together and appoint themselves one head.
Agreement in errour is farre worse then division for the sake of truth. Bet∣ter to be divided from men that are erroneous, then to agree with them in the wayes of their arrour. A company gathered without the covenant of peace, without the observance of Gods law is a headlesse multitude, saies Bernard, it hath much of Babylon, but little of Jerusalem.
What is this Head?
I finde both the Jewes and divers of the ••cyents, Theodoret, Cyrill and others, that would make this head to be Zerubbabel, and onely to have refer∣ence Page 106 to the returne of the people from their Babylonish captivity.
But this certainly cannot be upon these two reasons, to name no more.
First,* Because both Israel and Judah are here to joyne together and to returne out of the land: there it was Judah and not the ten Tribes that were delivered from their captivity. Secondly, Compare this Scripture with o∣thers that are but a Comment upon it, and we shall finde that Zerubbabel cannot be meant, Ezeck. 34, and 37. (you may reade the Chapters at your leasure) In those Chapters wee have expressions such as plainly appeares they are but Comments to this Text of Hosea (for Ezekiel prophesied af∣ter Hosea did:) and especially in the 37. Chap. we have a prophesie of the union of all the Tribes together, Judah and Israel, and ver. 24. David my servant shall be King over them, and ver. 25. My servant David shall be their Prince for ever. That one head that they shall have when they come together shall be David. And so in Chap. 34. ver. 23. I will set one shepheard over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David: and ver. 24, I the Lord will be their God and my servant David, not Zerubbabel, Now by David we are to understand Christ cleerly, for so in other palaces, as Esay, 55. 3. I will give unto you the sure mercies of Da∣vid, they can onely be meant of the sure mercies of Christ, and so it is inter∣preted by S. Paul, Acts 13. 34. Therefore then we conclude certainly this is meant of Christ;* and they shall appoint Christ to be their Head.
This is then the first great point that we have in this Text, a head-point of Divinity indeed, that JESUS CHRIST, is the head of the Church.
And secondly,* he shall be so appointed. We shall shew you what the meaning of that is when we come unto it.
JESUS CHRIST It is he that is the head for the Church,* and shal appear so hereafter further then now he doth. The Church is not a headlesse multitude, it is a community of Saints that hath a glorious Head. That bo∣dy cannot be contemptible that hath a Head so honourable. It is he that is the brightnesse of the glory of his Father, in whom all fulnesse dwelleth, yea, the fulnesse of the Godhead bodily. It is he by whom all things consists, that is the beginning of all things, he that is the head of Angels themselves, Col. 2. 10. You are compleat in him which is the head of all principality & power.
The Head of Angels, how?
First,* because the Angels are joyned together with the Church, and are part of the Church triumphant, and so Christ is their Head.
Secondly,* Yea the Angels have influence from him. That Grace which they have from God, which is beyond naturals; it is from Christ, for Christ is canalis gratiae, the channel of grace from God. Their establishment in their condition it is from Christ, for it is not due to them in a natural way, yea the glor• they 〈…〉 with the Church, it is above that which is due to their naturals, and 〈…〉 from Christ.
2. H•• the head of all men, 1 Cor. 11. 3. The head of every man is Christ.
Page 107 The head of every man, how? What are all men in the world the body of Christ? if he be the head, then it seemes they are all the members.
No, though Christ be the head of Angels,* yet Angels are not said to be members of him, yea in the same place of the Corinths, God is said to be the Head of Christ, and yet Christ is not a member of God. So that he may be the head of every man, and yet every man not a member of Christ.
The head of every man in regard of that superiority that Christ hath over every man, and some kinde of influence even from Christ commeth to e∣very man; he inlightneth every man that comes into the world.
Thirdly,* Yea, hee that is the head of his people, of his Church, is the head of al things. Ephe. 1. 22. God hath given him to be head of all things to the Church. Mark it, it is a most admirable place, that Christ is the head of all things. But how? To the Church, for the sake of the Church, as aym∣ing at the good of the Church especially. Sure it is the honour of the Church to have such a head, that is thus the brightenesse of his Fathers glory, the head of Angels,* the head of every man, the head of all things for the good of his Church. And as their honour consisteth in it, so secondly it is their strength.
Christ is the head of the Church in regard of the strength that the Church hath by him. An oppressed multitude cannot help it selfe if they have no head, but if God shall please to give them strength and a head, and that in a legall way, if they have hearts they may deliver themselves from oppression, this God hath done for us; if therefore God doth not vote us to misery and slavery, if we be not a people given up of God to ruine, we may have help.
The Church is a communion of Saints oppressed here in the world, their strength is in heaven, it is in their Head, that hath received all power to exer∣cise for them, in him is their strength, to him do they cleave, for him they blesse God even the Father, because he is their strength.
Thirdly, He is their head because the Saints do hold all upon Christ, all that they have they hold in Capite,* as the best tenure of all, the Tenure upon which the Saints hold all their comfort all their good in this world, it is in another way then other men hold it: other men have what they have through the bounty and patience of God; but the Saints hold all in Capite, in their head, in Christ, in the right they have in him.
Fourthly,* Their head, because their safety is in him: though the Church, all the members be under water, yet all is safe when the head is above water, our head is in Heaven. It is a speech of Luthers; He saith he was even as a Devil to them they did so accuse him, but let Christ live and raign, Christ is above, the head is above water.
Fifthly, Their head in regard of his compassion to his Church and people.
The meanest member here below, if wronged, Christ is sensible of it.
When but the toe is trodden upon,* the head cryes why doe you hurt me? Christ the head cryes, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And observe, the meaner and poorer the Members of Christ are here in the Church, the more is Christ sensible of their sorrowes and afflictions, and the more will Page 108 he appeare for them, when he shall appear a head yet more gloriously then ever he hath done. For this that forenamed place Ezek. 34. from the 16. ver to the 26. is very notable. You shall finde there Christ is said to be one shep∣heard to his people and a Prince to them; but mark what is promised, That he will binde up the broken, and bring back again that which was driven away, and strengthen that which was sick, but as for the fat of the flock and the strong he well destroy them, and feed them with judgement; and he will judge between cattell and cattell, between the rams and the hee-goats, he will judge between the fat and the leane cattell; he will judge those that thrust with side & with shoulder, and push at the diseased with their horns, untill they have scattered the sheep abroad.
When Christ shall appeare, he will not shew such respect to the jolly spi∣rits of those that were in the Church, to your brave, stout, jolly hearts, that would carry all before them with force; No, he will looke to the poor of the flocke, and those that thrust with the side, and pushed with the hornes, and scattered the poor, and the leane; they shall be judged.
My brethren, have you not known times when stout-hearted and cruel∣hearted men have thrust with the side, and pushed with the horne, and scat∣tered up and down in divers Countreys thousands of the weake ones & ten∣der conscioned Christians? VVell, but here is a promise, that Christ our head will come, and he shall be one shepheard, and he shall shew his tender affection toward the poor afflicted of the flocke, he shall take away from the land the evill beasts, as you have it there in the 25. vers. He is the head in regard of his compassion.
Sixthly,* Christ is their head in regard of guidance and direction. The bo∣dy is to be moved and guided by the head: so all truths, all doctrines of Re∣ligion must hold on Christ; they hold on Christ in Capite, Colos. 2. 19. The Apostle rebuking worshipping of Angels and other false opinions, he saith, that they did not hold of the head; All Doctrines in the Church therefore must hold of the head, and must not be obtruded upon the Church, but as they come from the head and hold there.
Seventhly,* And that principally, and which we must stick upon a while, which is intended here in the Text most of all. Christ is the head in re∣gard of his rule, in regard of his government; and therefore he that is called one head here is called a Prince in those two forenamed Chapters, Ezek 34 and 37. It would spend time needlesly to shew you in Scripture how Go∣vernours are called heads, that I suppose you are all acquainted with.
This therefore is the maine thing that we are now to open unto you, how Christ is the head of the Church in regard of his rule and government.
There are many things of concernment in this point.* I shall desire to de∣cline what possibly I may, all things that are controversall, especially with our brethren, & only speak of what I think for the present you are fit to beare
First then, There are four 〈…〉 especially of the government of Christ in his Church, for which he is to be accounted the head.
Page 109 First, All Offices and Officers in the Church hold upon Christ and are from him as from the head.* As (you know) it is in a civill body, the Offices of a civill State holds of the King; holds upon him in a legall way, the power of the King being regular, it regulateth all power in all other Officers; that which is done, is done (you know) in the name of the King. So all the Offi∣cers & Offices in the Church, are in the name of Christ, they all hold on him.
First,* That there can be no officer nor offices in the Church, but such as Christ himselfe hath appointed, for they must hold of him, they must be by institution. I beseech you observe the difference between Officers in a Ci∣vill State, and Officers in a Church. A Civill State because it directly rea∣cheth but to the outward man, hath liberty to appoint what officers it please according to the rules of prudence and justice; to appoint more or lesse ac∣cording to the necessity of the Country & place.* But it is not so in the Church, there we have no liberty to goe according to the rules of prudence meerly, to erect any office, because we think it may make for the good and peace of the Church; I say, therefore to erect any new office that is not erected before in the Word, we have not that liberty, we cannot do it, we are too bold if we shall do it, for such an office will not hold of the Head. In the State none can erect new Offices; new Courts, but the supreame power, the su∣preame Legislative power; So in the Church, none can erect new Offices, but onely from the Head. In the Civill State God leaveth a great deale of li∣berty; there may be change of Officers, those that are good now, perhaps they may seem not to be so fit afterwards, and those that are in one Coun∣try may not be so fit for another. But the Officers of the Church they must be all the same in all places, where they can be had, and no more but those that are appointed by Christ.
Again, further, the difference between the Civill State and Church State in their Offices and Officers is this:* The Civill State may limit their officers as they think fit. They may choose one into an office, but he shall goe but so far, he shall have power but in so many things, this shall be the object of his power, when he is come hither, there he shall stop, though he that was before him had more power, yet he that comes after him may not have that power, the Civill State may limit that, if they see it fit. But now in the Church State it cannot be so. And upon this ground, because they hold upon the Head.
Indeed the men that beare any office in the Church, are designed unto it by the Church, but they doe not hold of the Church, they hold of Christ the Head, therefore it is not in the power of the Church to limit them being in it, but they must go to the Word, for their office once taken upon them, (whe∣ther it be the office of Teachers or of Pastors) they cannot then be limited by any power, but what the Word saith is the office of a Teacher or of a Pa∣stor, that they must doe; they cannot have the rule so propounded to them, as, You shall go but thus far, and you shall do so much of the office of a Tea∣cher and no more, but when they are once 〈◊〉 they are in without any limita∣tion of the power of their office: it is onely from Christ the Head.
Page 110 Yea further, In a civill State there may be alteration, raising the dignity of the office,* and making of it lower then before; but in the Church no such thing, the officers of the Church are alwayes the same, no raising, no depres∣sing, why? because they hold upon the Head. Others depend upon mans prudence, but these are institutions by Christ, and hold of the Head.
2.* Christ is the Head in regard of rule, because all Ordinances hold on Christ too, and all Lawes. I will put both together, Ordinances and Laws, and Institutions do hold upon Christ the Head. It is not in the liberty of man to erect any new spirituall Ordinance in the Church, no nor to make Laws in the Church that are spiritual, that shall tend to the spirits of men, (according as I shall open it by and by.) No new Ordinance, no new In∣stitution can be in the Church. In the civil State there may be thousands of new Institutions.* I call that an Institution that hath an efficacy in it for the attaining of such an end by vertue of the Institution, not by vertue of any na∣turalnesse that is in the thing. As for example to instance in Divine Institu∣tions. The Sacrament is an Institution, and therefore is a virtue, a spirituall efficacy to be expected from that and by that, through the strength of the In∣stitution more then it hath in it in any naturall way. So in preaching the Word, and Ecclesiastical censures, there is more to be expected, more effi∣cacy to worke upon the soule, for the spiritual man, by virtue of the Institu∣tion, then there is in the natural things that are done there.
So for Lawes. Christ makes a law in the Church, it being an institution there is to be expected a spiritual efficacy and virtue to goe along together, with that thing that Christ commandeth, beyond what it had before it was commanded. Now then in rhis way no man in the world can make any Church institution, no, nor Law for the Church, so as to appoint any thing, to have any spirituall efficacy by vertue of that institution beyond what it hath in a natural way. We must take heed of being so bold, that when Christ hath made an institution, an ordinance, and revealed it to us, for us to think we may imitate Christ and make another Ordinance, or another institution like that, because Christ hath done so, because we finde such a thing in the Word therefore we may do so too; No, this is too bold, this is to set our post by Gods post, for which the Lord did charge the people, Ezek. 43. 8. In Esay 33. 22. it is said, The Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Law-giver, the Lord is our King in this thing. But yet you will say, how is that opened fur∣ther? (for indeed it needeth opening) that there can be no new institution, nor no new Law made in this sense, but all must hold of Christ?
For the opening of that I shall afterward come to speake more fully about the power of Governours and what their authority is, but thus much for the present.* VVe are to consider that there are some things belonging to the Church (I beseech you observe) that are common with all other societies, 〈…〉 to them, that is natural and civill, and there 〈…〉••wer of man may come in, there the 〈…〉 may order things. Those things I say that belong to the Page 111 Church, that yet are not so proper, but belong to other societies too, there mans reason may come in. As for instance.
First, A Church is a spiritual society and community, they must meete together, and if they do meet they must meet in some place: This is com∣mon to all societies in the world, if they will meet they must meet in a place. Yea Secondly, if they meet in a place; this place must be determi∣ned where it shall be. This also is common to all societies.
Thirdly, This likewise is common to them with all other societies, that what they do in that place must be done decently & in order, all things ought to be managed in an orderly decent way. As if there be many things to be done, one thing must be before another, one thing must not exclude another; if they come together, they must come together as befitting men in a decent way. Therefore that rule of the Apostle, Let all things be done decently and in order, it is not properly an institution, it is nothing but the dictate of right reason, so that if we had never found such a sentence, such a maxime in Scrip∣ture, as let all things be done decently and in order, it had beene a truth that we were bound in conscience to.
Again, If men will come and meet together, it is natural and common to all societies, that they should be decent in their garments and otherwise.
But then you will say, When commeth it to an Institution? I meane an Institution that is forbidden, that none must meddle withall, that is proper to Christ.* Thus, when any man shall by virtue of any Law, any impositi∣on, put more into the thing then God, or then nature hath put into it, when they shall make their institution to put any efficacy into it for the wor∣ship of God more then God hath, this we call sinfull. As for instance
Suppose we should instance onely in garments. That all that meetes to∣gether in Christian Assemblies, should meet decently in decent garments, Ministers and others,* the light of nature tells us, and there may be law if men will be refractory to compell them unto it, to meet so as they may meet de∣cently in regard of their garments. But now if it come thus far, that we leave natural decency, and such or such a garment shall be made decent for Gods worship because it is appointed, whereas if it were not appointed it would not be decent at all. When I say all the decency doth not depend upon what God hath put into it, or what is natural to it, but depends meerly upon the institution of man, for take away that institution it would not be decent; as in some kinde of garments, put case men were left to their freedome, that there were no institution, I put it to your Consciences whether it would be decent to weare them: If it would not be decent, then it seems it is the in∣stitution that puts all upon it; and now here we must take heed. This then puts more upon that creature then nature or the God of nature hath put upon it, then in way of common prudence (I say were it not for an institution, that seemes to go further, that seemes to intrench upon an ordinance) would be done.* Further, There is more put upon 〈◊〉 then nature hath put into it, when there shall be expected by vertue of an institution, some kinde of spiri∣tual Page 112 efficacy to worke upon the soul, then it comes to be sinfull. As thu when that creature by virtue of the institution, and appointment shall be made, and esteemed, or accounted of more effectual to stirre up my mind, or to signifie such a thing, as purity or holynesse, then another creature that hath as much in it naturally to signifie the same thing, and to stirre up my minde; this is to imitate Gods institution, which is too much boldnesse in any man. As, when God doth appoint a thing in his Church, a Ceremo∣ny or the like, he will take some thing that hath a resemblance to put men in minde of such a holy thing, that hath some kinde of Metaphor or likenesse in it. But when God hath taken this creature and separated it from others, this creature must be expected to have more efficacy to signifie the thing to my soul, and to stiree up my soul to think of his holinesse, then any creature in the world not so appointed, though other creatures have as much in them naturally to do it. This is Gods institution. Now mans institution, that cometh neere to Gods, where there is a setting our post by his post, is when man shal take one creature from thousands of others, and all those thousands have as much in them naturally, and put into them by God, to put me in minde of holynesse, and to stirre up my heart; now this creature shall be se∣parated from the rest, and by virtue of an institution put upon it, there shall be expected more efficacy in this to stir up my mind, and to draw my heart nearer to God then other creatures that onely do it in a natural way, here I say is intrenching upon that which belongeth to the government of Christ.
Therefore I beseech you my brethren be not mistaken in this, because I know you are ordinarily led by that speech of the Apostle, let all thinge be, done decently and in order. Understand it aright, It is true we must do so and it is a sin, not to do things decently and in order, in the worship of God: but this doth not at all countenance any institution of mans when it comes to be spiritual, to draw the heart nearer unto God, or God nearer unto the heart, by virtue of mans separation of it from common use.
I might instance in other things, in places, That there should be a conve∣nient place for Gods worship, the light of nature will tell us: but when any man shall set one place aside separated from another, and shall make the worship of God to be better, and have more efficacy to draw men nearer unto God, or God nearer unto men, then another place that hath as much natural decency and fitness in it as that place hath; here it commeth to have the evil.* By these few instances you may judge of all things, when they do come to be institutions in Gods worship, and beyond the rule of the Apo∣stle, Let all things be done decently and in order,
This is the second thing of Christs government, that all Ordinances, all Lawes in the Church must hold on him the Head.
The third thing in Christs government in the Church is, that those Laws that he makes for the ordering and government of his Church, do not onely hold on him 〈…〉 such a virtue and efficacy in them com∣ming from the head, that they do binde the consciences of men, because they Page 113 come from him that is the head of the Church, they do lay bonds upon con∣sciences, and that primarily in another way, and more efficaciously then any law of any man in the world can. Yea they lay such a bond upon consci∣ence, that though a thing be commanded that hath no other reason for the command but meerly the will of Christ, and that we cannot see to what o∣ther good the thing doth tend, but meerly because Christ will have it, yet we are bound to obey, yea and that in secret; Yea so farre as the rule goeth, wee are bound to do what is required by it, though wee should suffer never so much prejudice to our selves. Here is the binding power of Christ in bind∣ing conscience. But there is no law of man doth in this way bind consci∣ence, perhaps these things, with some others that are to be delivered may at the first naming of them seeme to be somewhat tickle points: yet I know there is a necessity, and a kinde of absolute necessity to informe the conscien∣ces of men in them, especially in these times, and because they fall so full here in my way I could not out of conscience omit them: and yet still if you dili∣gently observe, I hope we shall carry on all so as to speake modestly and yet safely and fully too. I say therefore, the lawes of men are different from the Lawes of Christ. It is a part of the head-ship of Christ to lay bonds upon the conscience. But what will you say then to that Text of Scripture (I sup∣pose it is in every one of your thoughts, and would be ready in every one of your mouthes if you were from the Assembly) Rom. 13. Let every soul be subject to the higher powers; for there is no power but of God. Whosoever resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God, and they that resist, shall receive to themselves damnation. Yea ver. 5. You must be subject not out of feare of wrath, but for conscience sake.* This Text seemes to imply that the lawes of men do binde the conscience; And we finde it by experience how this is urged by many upon every thing, there is no kinde of institution of man whatsoever (except we can apparently shew, it is contrary to the word of God) but they thinke by virtue of this Text the consciences of men are bound; and so they flie upon men, that they are not men of conscience, that they will not obey authority. In that they doe not submit to authority, they sin against their consciences, &c. You shall have many men that will jeere at those that are so conscionable in Gods commands that seeme to be but lit∣tle things (and in themselves are little things) oh they dare not disobey be∣cause they are bound in conscience, they will jeere at the scrupulosity of their consciences there. But when it comes to mans commands, then they must obey in the least thing whatever it be, though in its own nature it be ne∣ver so indifferent; yet they must obey for conscience sake.
I shall desire as fully and as cleerly as I am able, to satisfie Consciences in this very thing. To open therefore that Scripture unto you.
First, you must observe, that every one is bound to be subject to the high∣er powers: (Mark) It is not to the Man first, but it is to the Power: Let every soule be subject to the higher power, where ever this power lyeth.
It is not to the will of a man that hath power, but it is to the power of that man.
Page 114 Now the power, the authority is that, that man hath in a legall way. The first must be understood.
Secondly, We must consider in what they must be subject: The laws of men are of three sorts. Some perhaps command that which is simply unlawfull, that we all yeeld the Scripture doth not binde us to be subject, there we must obey God rather then man.
But secondly, there are other things that are commanded, that are lawfull, and they are of two sorts. Either such things as do tend by the rules of justice and prudence to the publique good, to the good of the Community of which we are members: and there we are bound to obey for Conscience sake.
But still this not according to that obedience we owe to Christ our Head, this is secondarily, not primarily, because commanded by man, but because the rules of Justice and Prudence doth require this for the publique good, of which we are a community; and then because there commeth a Law of Christ to us to walk and live according to the rules of Justice and prudence: so wee are bound for conscience in those things, but not primarily, and so they cannot be said to bind conscience, so as Christs Lawes do.
There are other things that are commanded by man (and that especially concerns our question) and these are such things as indeed are neither here nor there for the common, for the publique good, the good of the com∣munity doth not at all depend upon them, and there is nothing in them but meerly the satisfaction of the wills of those that are in authority above us.
Now here is the Question, How far those Laws bind men, and bind Con∣science? Indeed many poor Christians that are conscientious have been ex∣treamly snared in these things.
To that I answer: That though such things should be commanded to be done, yet it they be not done.) so be it they be not omitted out of contempt, nor so as may bring scandall upon the authority that doth enjoyne them; and those that doe omit them shall patiently and willingly submit to what punishment the Law of the Land shall require) in such things this mans con∣science shall not, nor need not bind him over to answer before God, that he hath sinned against that rule, You will say, How do you prove that? How doth it appeare? For that must needs be made out.
I vvill make it appeare from the Text, from the nature of subjection that is required in the Text, and from Reason.
First, this Text here in Rom, 13. giveth this as the ground why we are to be subject, Because (saith the Text, ver. 4.) he is the minister of God for thy good. So that that which is the speciall ground of our subjection, is, be∣cause they that are in place are ministers for our good. But here is then an a∣buse of their power, if they will command what is not indeed tending to the good of the publique, but meerly the satisfaction of their own mindes.
But suppose it be an abuse, the Text saith we must be subject.
〈…〉You must do the thing for conscience 〈…〉 be subject, we must not re∣sist, Page 115 but be subject: The words are, We must be subordinate for conscience sake, (so it may be translated) Here is all that is required, that I must be sub∣ordinate and not resist,* that is, though there be a thing commanded by au∣thority, though this authority should be abused, yet I may not resist, I must be subject. If then out of that reverent respect I have to authority, though I do not doe the thing,* yet I doe not forbeare out of contempt: It is a thing exceedingly prejudiciall unto me, and it is not for the common good, but yet I am so carefull that authority shal not be despised that I will keep it secret.* I will not refuse to do it, so as shall be ascandall upon authority.
And yet further, if authority shall so far urge upon me as to inflict punish∣ment because I do not do it, I will patiently beare it. Now when these three things are done, here is that subordination to authority that the Apostle in that Scripture requires. And the reason why this of necessity must be gran∣ted, is, because otherwise all the Christian liberty that the Scripture so much speakes of, may be utterly taken away in regard of the practice, that it is in the power of man wholly to deprive us of it.
This Scripture cannot be so understood, that all that liberty we have in all things in their own nature indifferent should be so under the power of men, as that we for the practice, and for our conscience too must be tyed that we cannot have liberty, no not in secret, certainly that is that which is against the judgement of all Orthodox Divines of the Reformed Churches.
But it may be said, who shall be Judge whether things be tending to the publicke good yea or no?* will you take upon you to judge your self?
To that the Answer is thus plainly, that indeed those that are appointed by Law have the power to judge legally, and authoritatively to judge so as to bind others. But every man hath liberty so far as concerns his owne act to judge at his perill. And that a two-sold perill,
First at his perill,* lest he judging himself should sinne against God in this, that he should judge that not good for the publique, which indeed is good; that he should perhaps judge that to be of an indifferent nature that justice and prudence requireth of him: Here he mis-judgeth at his perill, hee sin∣neth against the Lord, against the rules of justice and prudence, and indan∣gereth his own soul if he goe amisse in this.
Secondly,* If he mis-judge it is at his perill that comes by the Lawes of men, that he is in danger then to suffer what the Laws of men shall inflict u∣pon him: And so submitting this way, his conscience may have some ease; and yet no gap open at all to liberty, or any disturbance to any lawfull authority for all this. This is necessary for men to know that they may un∣derstand* aright how to answer that question about Lawes binding of con∣science. You heare it is the prerogative of Christ our Head, so to be our Law-giver, so as to lay bonds upon conscience in such a manner as no man can doe the like. That is the third.
Fourthly,* Christ is the Head of the Church (in regard of some) even per∣sonally, so as to come and rule in the world in a glorious manner personally, Page 116 and so they thinke this may be interpreted, that Christ shall be a head (how said to be appointed, we shall speake of when we come unto it) that he shall come personally, and rule and governe things even in this world.
As Christ in his own person did exercise his Priestly and Propheticall of∣fices, so they thinke in his own person he shall exercise his Kingly power & office. Which opinion, because the further discussion of it, I suppose gene∣rally you are not able to beare yet, therefore in modesty I will forbeare, and though out of modesty I shal for the present forbeare, yet out of conscience I dare not altogether deny it, but so we will leave it, to see what trueth may be in this, we must expect to have light let in by degrees.
In these four things then we have the rule of Christ, three determined of, the fourth only propounded, which Christ in time will shew further light un∣to us in. Christ is then the Head.
Now from all this there followes three consequences that are very usefull.
1. Hence we learne that the seeking after the right government of Christ in his Church is not a light matter, it doth concern the Head-ship of Christ.
2.* By what hath been said we shal come to be instructed to know what is properly Antichristian and what not.
3. Wee shall come to have light how far the King may be said to be head of the Church. These things you will finde needfull for conscience to be in∣formed in, & I shal carry them on too I hope with modesty, fulness, & safety,
First,* I say it followes from hence that it is not a light matter to seeke af∣ter the right government of Christ in his Church, it concerns a head-ship of Christ. The head-ship of Christ in a speciall manner consisteth in that there are some other things in which it doth consist, which perhaps may be spo∣ken of hereafter, but here in this place especially that.
Indeed in the primitive times there the greatest contention was about the Doctrines of Religion, what Doctrines should hold upon Christ and what not, and the people of God did there suffer most for contending about the doctrines that held upon Christ the Head, they would not receive a Doct∣rine but what held on Christ, and what was obrtuded upon them, not hold∣ing upon Christ the Head they did reject. And Luther upon this place hath this speech, he tells us how much the Church in after time did suffer for this very thing, and saith, What kinde of dangers did inviron the Church, and do inviron it for acknowledging Christ to be the head, these our times doe sufficiently testifie. And further, because we preach Christ to be the whole head, therefore we are subject to Anathemas, and to all kinde of punish∣ment. And in these latter times it is like that the great contention will be, ra∣ther about the head-ship of Christ in the point of his government then in the other, the other being so cleare unto us; and the sufferings of the people of God will be so much the more grievous, because that this is accounted such a little thing, such a poor businesse: And further, because this doth not seem to be altogether so clearely revealed in the Scripture, as other Doctrinall points that hold upon Christ the •ead. And Christ the rather hath so dispo∣sed Page 117 of things, that this shall not be so clearly revealed, because he intended to suffer Antichrist to rise to his height: and it cannot be imagined that if the Doctrine of Christs government in his Church had beene clearly and de∣monstratively laid down, so as there could have beene no gain-saying of it, I say it cannot be imagined how it is possible for Antichrist to have risen to that height that he hath; Christ because hee intended to bring about many passages of his providence, and many great workes of his that way in suf∣fering Antichrist to arise; therefore he hath left this point so in the word as is subject to many doubts, and may occasion many objections against it.
But the nearer the time comes for Antichrist to fall, the more clearly this shall be revealed.
Secondly,* By this that hath beene said we may learne what to account Antichristianisme, and what not: for there are many amongst us that cry out against every thing that displeaseth them, that it is Antichristianisme, that it is Antichristianisme, and yet understand but very little what Anti∣christianisme is.
But by this that hath beene said,* you must know that Antichristianisme is not every errour: It is true in a large sense Antichrist is as much as against Christ, and so every sin, every errour is against Christ, and in Antichristian∣isme, if you take it so. But you are to know the Scripture speakes of the An∣tichrist, and of Antichristianisme in a speciall acceptation. What is that?
This my brethren is Antichristianisme, that which shall oppose Christ as a Head, and set up another head-ship; here is the propriety of Antichrist and Antichristianisme; as in all those foure things named before.
First,* VVhosoever shall obtrude any Doctrine upon the Church to be believed, by their own authority, he is guilty of Antichristianisme, not who∣soever shall preach or hold an error in the Church. But when any shall pre∣sume to obtrude upon the Church, any Doctrine that holds upon humane authority, to be urged upon the authority of those that do impose it, this I say is properly Antichristianisme, for it doth oppose Christ in his head-ship.
Secondly,* The intrusion of such offices and officers in the Church as meerly belonging to the spirituall man, such as are properly Church offices, that do not hold upon Christ the Head, but only hold upon them, this is An∣tichristianisme.
Thirdly, The imposing of any Ordinance, any new institutions that are, as hath been opened,* upon the Church, belongeth to Antichristianisme.
Fourthly,* The imposing of lawes so to bind conscience as the Lawes of Christ do, here is Antichristianisme.
This is Antichristianisme, and that not onely because these things are di∣rectly against the head-ship of Christ, but because these things doe set up a∣nother head too; and so the word Antichrist may signifie as well for one to be in stead of Christ (for so 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the Greeke signifieth, sometime as well, for, as against as of his fulness we receive grace for grace, it is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, in the Greeke, grace for grace) so Antichrist is one that shall set up h•m∣selfe Page 118 as head of the Church in stead of Christ, one that shall clayme unto himselfe that head-ship that is proper to Jesus Christ, and not to be com∣municated to any from Jesus Christ. This is Antichristianisme.
Now the Apostle faith that there were many Antichrists in his time, and this mystery of ungodlinesse, of inquity did worke then; but now it comes to grow to a height in that great Antichrist of Rome, (for you know) in these foure are the speciall things wherein he is the Antichrist; Because hee obtrudes Doctrines, Articles of Faith upon the Church by his owne autho∣rity; He makes all Offices of the Church to hold on him; And appointeth Lawes, Ordinances and Institutions likewise to hold on him; And claym∣eth the binding of Consciences, so as is proper to Jesus Christ.
And all those that hold thus on Antichrist, and are thus abettors of him in these things, these are guilty of this greatsinne of Antichristianisme.
That for your right information about the sin of Antichristianisme.
The third consequence.* You say Christ is the Head, but you know the King is called the Head of the Church, in what sense are we to understand that? Or how may we come to understand aright that Oath that is given, of Supremacie.
These things (my brethren) are necessary for information of Conscience, and the burthen lyes upon us to make out these things as cleare to you as we can, that you may go along with the more freedome of spirit and consci∣ence in your way, and yet give every one their right too.
You are to know that the Oath of Supremacy came into England thus: In the time of Popery, the Pope claymed unto himselfe the Head-ship of the Church: He being excluded, then came in that Oath to acknowledge the King or Queene the Head of the Church. But now you must know, first, that this title, The Head of the Church, as it hath been attributed to the King, hath been much abused, and it hath given some advantage to our ad∣versaries, for the King is not the Head of the Church, neither as Christ is, nor as the Pope claymed it:
Not as Christ: Christ is the Head to governe unlimitedly. No limits or bounds are set to the Government of Christ, but only his owne minde, his owne will. It is not so with any Prince in the world, he is not so the Head to governe. But all Governours have a two-fold limit; They are limited by Lawes of God, they are limited by the Lawes of man too.
Neither is he the Head, as the Pope challengeth unto himselfe, How is that? you will say. In the fore-named foure things, the Pope challengeth holding of doctrines, and holding of offices, and the like, upon him. Offi∣ces do not so hold upon any Governours, upon the King or others, as the Pope challengeth to hold upon him. How doth he challenge them to hold upon him? Thus, that all are in him virtually, and so to be derived from him to others. And indeed in a 〈◊〉 part do many of our Prelates say that 〈…〉: that is, that all the offices hold on 〈…〉, and •o goe from them unto others: Page 119 and hence it is they account all other Ministers but their Curats, and they must not pray but as they will, and do nothing but what they will, Why? because they are but them substitutes, as if all offices were virtually in them, and so came from them unto others; whereas every office in the Church, e∣ven the meanest, holds upon Christ the Head.
Now it is true, in the civill State in some sense it may he said that the of∣ficers of the Common-wealth are in a kinde virtually in the King, he being the supreame, but you must not thinke that all are thus virtually in him in Church affaires, for if they were virtually in him, then he could himself dis∣pence those things that others by virtue of their office, can but that he can∣not, as to give the Sacrament and the like.
But how is he the head then, or in what sense may we quiet our Conscien∣ces in acknowledging the King to be the head of the Church?
Onely thus he is said to be the head, because he is the supreame to govern in a civill way, not onely the Civill State, but even affaires that belong to the Church too. We doe not deny the power of Princes even in affaires that be∣long to the Church. And because he is the supreame in that civill power, to governe in a civill way by civill Laws, so as to see Christ not dishonoured, so as to keepe out Idolatry, to protect the Church, to punish enormities that are there, to defend it from enemies. In that sense he is said to be the head, but that title of supreame Governor being understood in a civil way is more proper.* To make that a little out unto you; that there is some supremacy in this, not onely in the civill State but in Church affaires: For wee must not exclude the King quite out of all Church affaires, as some would do, no we doe not; but though we would informe your consciences aright, yet wee would not by any meanes take away any lawfull power God hath put into him. Now that he hath power even in Church affaires, there are many rea∣sons that fully move me to be perswaded in it.
The first that I shall name, I think it will least prevail (though it be the most ordinary) with them that make most doubt of it, therefore I will not stand upon it, only name it. We know that all along among the Jews in the time of the Old Testament, the Governours there, and Kings and Princes had power in affaires that belong to the Church as well as to the State.
But this I say I doe not think to be the greatest strength in this point, espe∣cially to p••swade them that make any scruple of it, they will us that the power there was but Tipicall and the like, and sobindeth not now.
There are therefore other reasons that perswade the same thing.
The first is this, because I finde that in the Prophets,* where wee have a Prophesie of the state of the Church in the times of the Gospel. God doth promise that he will make Kings to be their nursing fathers, and Queens to be their nursing mothers. Now if they be to be nursing fathers of the Church, surely they must have some influence by their power into it.
Secondly,* That place in Rom. 13. spealtes indifferently and faith, he is the Minister for thy good. It doth not say for thi•; good or that good, 〈◊〉Page 120 this civill good or Ecclesiastical good, but he is the Minister for thy good, for all good unto thee so farre as his power can reach.
It is a hard thing you know (if men will put us unto it) to shew in the New Testament the power that Kings had, because there was then no King but Heathens,* yet saith he, they are Ministers for thy good, and speakes to Christians.
But thirdly, and that which yet may seeme to have more in it, I finde this in the New Testament that Saint Paul when he was accused by his bre∣thren in matters of Religion, hee did appeal unto Caesar. Act. 25. 9. who was a Heathen Magistrate, his accusation was in matters of Religion, in questions about their Law, and about one JESUS that was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.
And yet in his answer to those things he appealeth unto Caesar, therefore there is somewhat that Caesar hath to doe in over-looking of the affaires of the Church, that concerns the wayes of Religion.
But you will say, How can he be a competent Judge? Can Caesar a Heathen be a competent Judge in matters of Religion? Is it possible? Or suppose that a Governour be wicked, can he be a competent Judge in mat∣ters of Religion?
I answer, the wickednesse of a Governour, though he be a Heathen, yet loseth not his power, he hath still a true and a lawfull power; yea he hath some oversight of things that concerne Church affaires.
How can that be?*
Christianity gives not the authority,* but enables to execute that authority, a Heathen Magistrate hath authority, it is his duty to see that Christians be not wronged, and if he doth not it is his sin, but if he becomes a Christian, he is the better able to do what he ought, but this puts not the power into him.
But if a man be wicked,* and understands not the things of the Church, how can he be a judge?
Thus,* though the King be not a competent judge of the Principles upon which the Church goes, whether right or no, he hath not skill to do that be∣ing such a one: yet he may have ability to judge betweene man and man, whether one to the other doth wrong yea or no, and that in matters of Reli∣gion. As thus; though he doth not think the Principles upon which they go to be right, yet he can judge whether according to those Principl• they doe right one to another, whether according to their Principles, they doe not wrong one the other. And this is a great matter to be able to judge and to punish with civill punishment when any of the Church wrongs his brother against the Principles that himselfe doth professe.
As for example, though he be not a Physitian, he doth not understand the difference between the poyson and a wholesome Medicine, yet when things are brought before him, he may be a competent judge, by evidence so as to condemne a Physitian that hath poysoned a man instead of giving of him wholsome Physick.
Page 121 And that objection against his competency in judging in the affairs of the Church hath no more power then if it should have been objected that hee must not judge upon a Physitian, whether he hath poysoned a man or no, because he himself is not a Physitian. Thus wee have done with these three consequents that follow upon the opening of the headship of Christ in point of his government. And now we see more clearly how Christ is head & none but Christ, & what glory we are to give to Christ as the head of the Church.
There is one thing more belongs to the head-ship of Christ which must not be passed by, though it be not so fully aymed at in the text as what hath already been said, and that is the influence of spiritual life, that comes unto the Church by Christ the head, as the animall spirits come from the head to the members. And this is the very reason, first, why grace in the Saints is of such a beautifull and glorious nature as it is, because it comes from Christ the head.* Secondly, This is the reason of that power and efficacy that there is of grace in the Saints, because it comes from Christ the head. Thirdly, this is also the reason why grace in the Saints is of such an everlasting nature, and that beyond that of Adam. It hath more beauty then the grace Adam had, and it hath more power and efficacy then the grace Adam had, and it is of a more everlasting nature then that was, upon this ground, because the grace of the Saints holdeth upon Christ the head, & hath an influence from Christ, God-man in a speciall and peculiar way, such an influence as Adam had not. This is the excellency of grace in the Saints.
And to conclude this point of the Head-ship of Christ. The rather hath God the Father thus advanced Christ to be the Head, because he was willing to stoop so low, to be as a worme under foot, for so he saith of himself, Psal. 22. 6. I am a worme, and no man. Christ was low in his own eyes, and submitted himself to such a condition, and now behold the Father hath ad∣vanced him, for so it is said, Ephes. 1. 22. God hath made him head over all things, hath made him head over principalities, and powers, and domini∣ons, over Angels, and over all men and all things in the Church, hath ad∣vanced him to this high and glorious dignity, we see somewhat of it now, and we shall see more gloriously the head-ship of Christ hereafter.
In this God the Father doth shew that as he hath dealt with his Sonne, so he is willing to deale with the Members of his Son, in a proportion. His Son that was willing to be so low and under foot, is now advanced to such a high glory that all must stoop, and yeeld, and submit unto him.
Let us be willing to lye low, and though it be under foot, to be troden up∣on by the wicked and ungodly of the world; though we cannot expect to be advanced to be head, yet we may expect to be advanced to glory & dignity.
You know what God said to Saul, 1 Sam. 15. When thou wert little in thine own eyes then I made thee King.
The lesse any of us are in our own eyes, the more are we like to be advan∣ced by God, for God wlll observe a proportion between his dealings with Christ the head, and his dealings with all his Members.