Communion of churches, or, The divine management of gospel-churches by the ordinance of councils constituted in order according to the Scriptures as also the way of bringing all Christian parishes to be particular Reforming Congregationall Churches, humbly proposed as ... a means of uniting those two holy and eminent parties the Presbyterians and the Congregationals ...
Eliot, John, 1604-1690.

CHAP. VIII. Touching the Maintenance of these Councils.

I. THough it be meet that all their necessary Charges be born for them; for who goeth on a warfare at his own charge? yet it is in no wise meet that any Profits or Re∣venues should be annexed unto any of the Councils, from the lowest unto the highest. Worldly Profit, Power and Splen∣dor, are beneath the spirit and aim of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Onely the Notaries Place, being a service of much •…bour, pains and diligence, it is me•…t that some considera∣tion be had for some convenient recompence for their labour.

II. If any godly minded Christian, out of a love unto, and zeal for the honour of the Kingdome of Jesus Christ, should desire to give, and annex Maintenance unto any of these forenamed Councils, more then conveniently to bear their Charges (as Noble Constantine did for the worldly splendor of the Bishops) it ought not to be permitted, but religiously opposed: for it will certainly prove an Inlet of great Corruption, Ambition, Avarice, and Strife, unwor∣thy and unfit persons will endeavour to Br•…be themselves into Places, more for the Wages, then for the Work.

III. The honour of the Service, and the glory of Christ that is upon the Messengers of the Churches, these are i•…se∣parable from the Work, and are as much as flesh and blood (we being in the flesh, and state militant) will be able Page  37 to weather, and keep from running •…ground upon.

But Revenue and Profit are separable from the Work,•…d must be religiously and earnestly▪ kept off▪ It being a Wor•… that will surely▪ corrupt this blessed Work, and glorious Service of Iesur Christ.

IV. A small Revenue will maintain the government of Churches by Councils, even in a great Nation, in comparison of the vast revenues which the Antichristian Hierarchy hav•… fa•…ed and inriched themselves withall: which also hath advantaged them to arrogate unto themselves, and 〈◊〉 civil Authority. And by these carnal 〈◊〉 unto the Church, Religion hath been corrupted, most men have been damned, and •…ew saved. Therefore the Church ought now, in our reformation and res•…rection, to despise the World, and▪ not to suffer great revenues to be annexed unto this part of the kingdome of Christ especially.

V. The religious meetings of Councils, must be 〈◊〉 of all meetings of all men, throughout the Nation: for they are many shining Lights met together, and all men will mark what they do, and one Inch of ex•…ss in them who a•…e the Center, will be an Ell in the people.

Hence they must strive to be patterns to all men.

  • 1. In Gravity: not full of Mi•…th, Laughter and Jesting. •…. In Sobriety: no excess in drinking wine and strong drink.
  • 3. In Moderation of diet, Ornaments, or any Pomp.
  • 4. In Sedu•…ity, and Diligence: it is the Lords work, and Cursed be he that doth the work of the Lord negtigently.
  • 5. In all Holiness of Discourse and Behaviour.
  • 6. In Patience and Meekne•… of Spirit, in all matters.
  • 7. In Care for the publick Cause of Christ, and welfare of 〈◊〉 the Churches, the chief care of all which doth firstly and chiefly ly upon the Moderators.

VI. Great care is to be had of the first Councils, that there may be some grave and exemplar E•…ers in every one of them, because according to ou•… custom, there may be sundry that are young, raw, and weak, and need to be trained up unto the gravity, prudence, and holiness of the affaires of Christ his Ecclesiastical kingdome.

Care is also to be had, that Grave, Sober, and Pruden•… Ruling Elders may be sent, such as may be an awe unto gr•…en and young Schollars, where need may be.

Care is also to be had, that they stay no longer then ne∣cessary business, and just imployment holdeth them, that there may be no temptations like company-keeping in vanity, and smoaking away their precious time.

Page  38VII. Their entertainment may be 8 d. Ordinary at •…oon, and 6 d. at night, provided they be necessita•…ed to tar•…y •…ll night, otherwise their charges are but their dinner and horse▪ mea•….

For the defr•…ying of which charge, the Deacons of that Church where they meet, may be authorized so to order the matte•… with the Deacons of all the Churches in that com∣bination, as that the charge shall be by them defrayed, and not put to the accompt of any of the Elders. And by the same hands some recompence may be given to the Notaries, for their labour and service.

For the supply of which charge, the voluntary Contribu∣tions of every Church will be such a treasury, as will never know want, so long as Religion, and love to Christ remain and rule among them.

VIII. The Provincial Councils will be more choice and grave assemblies, and their treatment must be with more respect and reverence: but their expences with the like mo∣deration and sobriety. It is to be supposed that these dwell more remote, are fuller of work, and must tarry longer.

If the State entertain these, and allow them 10 li. a Session for their four stated Sessions in a year; and 5 li. for the Notaries, it will not be a great charge.

And if the National Council have 100 li. per annum for their Attendance and Notaries.

One thousand pound per annum will suffice for a great Na∣tion where they may be in twenty Ecclesiastical Provinces.

And this charge will be less then the the revenues of some one Bishoprick. The design of Antichrist was to pamper the flesh; the design of Christ is to morti•…ie it, and to honour Grace.