An assertion of the government of the Church of Scotland in the points of ruling-elders and of the authority of presbyteries and synods with a postscript in answer to a treatise lately published against presbyteriall government.
Gillespie, George, 1613-1648.

CHAP. XI Doctor Fields five Arguments against ruling 〈…〉.

HIS fist Reason that shewed 〈◊〉 to think there were 〈◊〉 any 〈…〉Page  78 Church, is because Bishops, Presbyters, that preach and minister the Sacraments, and Deacons, howsoever they much degenera∣ted in later times, yet all still remained in all Christian Churches throughout the World, both Greeke and Latine, in their names and offices also in some sort. But of these ruling Elders, there are no foot-steps to bee found in any Christian Church in the World, nor were not for many hundred yeares; whereas there would have beene some remaines of these as well as the other, had they ever had any institution from Christ or his Apostles, as the other had. To this wee answer. 1. If the Christian Churches throughout the World had wan∣ted ruling Elders longer then they did, yet prescription can be no prejudice to the ordi∣nance of God. 2. After that the golden age of the Apostles was spent and gone, exact diligence was not taken, to have the Church provided with well qualified Ministers, but many unfit men, yea, sundry heretickes en∣tred into that sacred vocation, whereby it came to passe that corruption and errour overflowed the Churches,* as both Eusebius proveth from Aegesippus and catalogus testi∣um veritatis from Irenaus. Might not this be the cause of changing the office-bearers Page  79 and government of the Church. 3. In the Roman, yea in Prelaticall Churches there are scarce any foot-steps at all of the offices of preaching Presbyters, and Deacons, as they were instituted by the Apostles. The Apostles ordained Presbyters to preach the Word, to minister the Sacraments, to go∣verne the Church, and to make use of the keyes. But the Popish and Prelaticall Presbyters have not the power of the keyes, nor the power of Church government, for it is proper to their Prelates; as for the other two they are common to their Deacons, for they also doe preach and baptise. The office of the Popish Priest standeth in two things, to con∣secrate and offer up the body of Christ, and to absolve the faithfull from their sinnes: See Conci. Triden. de sacr. Ordin. cap. 1. Hier. Savanarola. Triumph. cruc. lib. 3. cap. 16. And the same two make up the proper office of the Priest by the order of the English Service Booke. As touching Deacons, they were ordained by the Apostles for collecting receiving, keeping, and distributing of Ec∣clesiasticall goods, for maintaining of Mini∣sters, schooles, Churches, the sicke, stranger, and poore. The Popish and Prelaticall Dea∣cons have no such office, but an office which the Apostles never appointed to them; for Page  80 they had no preaching nor baptising Dea∣cons. Philip preached and baptised, not as a Deacon, but as an Evangelist, Acts 21.8. Besides at the time of his preaching and bap∣tising, hee could not have exercised the office of his Deaconship, by reason of the persecu∣tion, which scattered rich and poore and all, Acts 8.1. that which Steven did, Acts 7. was no more then every believer was bound to doe, when he is called to give a testimo∣ny to the truth, and to give a reason of his faith and practice. 4. Others of the faithfull, besides the Ministers of the Word, have beene admitted unto Councells and Synods by many Christian Churches throughout the World, as is well knowne; and this is a ma∣nifest foot-step of the government of ruling Elders. 5. Nay in the Church of England it selfe, at this day, there are foot-steps of ru∣ling Elders, else what meaneth the joyning of Lay-men with the Clergy in the high Commission to judge of matters Ecclesiasti∣call? Sravia saith,* the Churchwardens which are in every Parish of England, have some resemblance of ruling Elders, whose change appointed by law, he saith, is to col∣lect, keepe, and deburse the goods and reve∣nues of the Church, to preserve the fabricke of the Church▪ and all things pertaining Page  81 thereto sure and safe, to keep account of bap∣tismes, mariages, and burials, to admonish de∣linquents & other inordinate livers, to delate to the Bishop or his substitutes, such as are in∣corrigible, & scandalous, being sworn thereto: also to observe who are absent frō the praiers in the Church upon the Lords dayes, & upon the holy dayes, & to exact from them the pe∣nalty appointed by law, and finally to see to quietnes & decency in time of divine service.

Doctor Fields second reason is for that Paul, 1 Tim. 3. shewing who should be Bi∣shops and Ministers, who Deacons, yea, who Widowes; passeth immediatly from descri∣bing the qualitie of such as were to be Bi∣shops and Ministers of the Word and Sacra∣ments, to the Deacons, omitting these ruling Elders that are supposed to lye in the midst betweene them, which he neither might nor would have omitted, if there had beene any such. To this the answer is easie. 1. As we collect the actions and sufferings of Jesus Christ, and the institution of the last supper, not from any one of the Evangelists, but from all of them compared together, for that one toucheth what another omitteth; so doe we judge of the office-bearers of the Church not from 2 Tim. 3. only, but from the col∣lation of that and other places of Scripture of that kind. Ruling Elders are found in o∣ther places, and in the fifth Chapter of that Page  82 same Epistle, though not in the third. 2 Neither were there any absurdity to hold, that the Apostle in that third Chapter com∣prehendeth all the ordinary office-bearers in the Church under these two Bishops and Deacons, and that under the name of Bi∣shops, he comprehendeth both Pastors, Do∣ctors, & ruling Elders: for as al these three are overseers, so to them all agree the qualities of a Bishop here mentioned, whereof there is only one, which seemeth not to agree to the ruling Elder, viz. that he should be apt to teach,* vers. 2. Yet Beza maintaineth a∣gainst Saravia, that the ruling Elder teach∣eth as wel as the Pastor, only the Pastor doth it publickly to the whole congregation; the ruling Elder doth it privately, as he findeth every one to have need. And we have shewed before that as a private Christian is bound in charity to teach the ignorant, so the ruling Elder is bound to doe it ex offcio.

The third reason, which Doctor Field bringeth against us, is, for that neither Scrip∣ture nor practice of the Church, bounding the government of such governours, nor gi∣ving any direction how farre they may goe in the same, and where they must stay, lest they meddle with that they have nothing to doe with, men should bee left to a most Page  83 dangerous uncertainety in an office of so great consequence. Our answer to this is: 1. Wee have shewed already the certaine bounds of the power and vocation of ruling Elders. 2. It was not necessary that the A∣postle should severally set downe Canons and directions: first, touching Pastors, then Doctors; lastly, ruling Elders, since they are all Elders, and all members of the El∣dership or Presbytery; it was enough to de∣liver canons and directions common to them all, especially since the duties of ruling El∣ders are the same which are the duties of Pastors, only the Pastors power is cumula∣tive to theirs, and over reacheth the same in the publicke ministery of the Word and Sa∣craments, and so doth Paul difference them, 1 Tim. 5.17.

His fourth reason is, because we fetch the paterne of the government of ruling Elders, from the Sanedrim of the Jewes, the plat∣forme whereof wee suppose Christ meant to bring into his Church, when he said, Tell the Church; whereas, saith he, it is most cleere that the court was a civill court, and had a power to banish, to imprison, yea and to take away life, till by the Romans the Jewes were restrained. Wee answer that Beza de Presbyteri. I. B. A. C. De polit. civil. & Page  84 Eccl. lib. 2.* Also Zepperus, Iunius, Piscator, Wolphius, Godwin, Bucerus, Gerard, And sundry others have rightly observed that the Ecclesiasticall Sanedrim among the Jewes was distinct from the civill, yet both called by the name of Sanedrim. Wee grant with Beza that sometimes civill causes were de∣bated and determined in the Ecclesiasticall Sanedrim, but this was done 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, non〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as he saith, the fact which was meerely civill was judged in the ivill Sane∣drim, but when the civil Judges could not agree de jure, even in civill causes, in that case resolution was given by the other Sa∣nedrim; as in like cases by the juris-consults among the Romans, for the conservation and interpretation of the law did belong to the Leviticall Tribe. Hence it is that we read 2 Chron. 19.8.11. Iehosaphat set in Ierusa∣lem of the Levits, and of the chiefe Priests, and of the chiefe of the Fathers of Israel, some for the Lords matters, among whom presided Amariah the chiefe Priest, and some for the Kings matters, among whom presided Zbadiah the Ruler of the house of Judah.*Saravia saith this place proveth not that there were two distinct consistories, one for civill, another for Ecclesiasticall things; because, saith he, by the Kings matters are Page  85 meant matters of peace, and warre by the Lords matters, the matters of law and judge∣ment which are called the Lords matters, because the Lord was the author of their civill lawes;* what a crazie device is this? did not matters of peace and warre come under the civill lawes, which God had delivered to the Jewes, as well as any matter of judgement betwixt man and man? and what can bee more plaine then that the Lords matters or things pertaining to God,* when they are differenced from other mat∣ters, are ever understood to bee matters spi∣rituall and Ecclesiasticall?*Quapropter, where∣fore saith Iunius, the Readers are to be warned whosoever they bee that consult the histories of ancient times, that where they read the name Synedtum, they wisely observe whether the ci∣vill Assembly or the Ecclesiastical be meant of, because that name was confused, and indistinct, after the times of Antiochus.

But notwithstanding that in these latter times all good order had much degenerate and growne to confusion, yet it seemeth to me, that even in the dayes of our Saviour Christ, the Civill and Ecclesiasticall courts remained distinct, let me say my opinion with all mens leave, and under correction of the more learned, that night that our Lord was betrayed, he was led to the Hall of Cajaphas,Page  86 where there was holden an Ecclesiasticall Sanedrim, which asked Jesus of his Disci∣ples, and of his doctrine, received witnesse a∣gainst him, and pronounced him guilty of blasphemy, Mat. 27.57. Mark 14.53.55. Ioh. 18.19. Nothing I finde in this Councell why we should think it civill: for as touching the smiting and buffeting of Christ, Mat. 26.67. Luk 22.63. some think it was by the servants of the high Priests and Elders after that they themselves had gone home, & left the Coun∣cell; howsoever, it was done tumultuously, not judicially, and tumults may fall forth in a∣ny Judicatory whether civill or Ecclesiasti∣cal As for the sentence which they gave, Mat. 26.66. He is guilty of death, it proveth not that this was a civill Court: for just so, if an in∣cestuous person should bee convict before an Assembly of our Church, the Moderator might ask the Assembly, what thinke ye? and they might well answer, He is guilty of death, away with him to the Magistrate. Shortly then the matter debated in this nocturnall Councell, was meerly Ecclesiasticall, and the accusation of sedition and making himselfe a King, were not spoken of till he was brought before P••at But there was another Sanedrim convocat in the morning▪ Mat 27 1. Mark 15.1 Luk 22 66. and this seemes to have been not Ecclesiasticall but Civill, 1. because they Page  87 meddle not with the triall of his doctrine, nor any examination of witnesses thereanent: on∣ly they desire to heare out of his own mouth, that which hee had confessed in the other Councell, viz. that he was the Christ the Son of God; whereupon they take counsell how they might deliver him to Pilate, which was the end of their meeting 2. M••k saith, They bound him, and carried him awy to Pilate. 3. The Ecclesiasticall Councell had already done that which they thought pertained to them: for what should they have convened again? Some say, that al the high Priests, Scribes and Elders, were not present at that nocturnall councell, and that therefore they convened more fully in the morning. But that the nocturnall Councell was fully convened, it is manifest from Mat. 26.59. Mark 14.53.55. 4. This last Councell led Jesus away to Pilte, and went themselves with him to ac∣cuse him before Pilate of sedition, and of ma∣king himselfe a King, Luk. 23.1.2. Mat. 27.12. 5. They complain that the power of capitall punishment was taken from them by the Ro∣mans, importing that otherwise they might have put him to death by their law, Ioh. 18.31.

Now D. Fields last reason is, For that all Fathers or Councels mentioning Elders, place them betwixt Bishops and Deacons, and make them to be Clergy men, and that in the Acts Page  88 where the Apostles are said to have constitute Elders in every Church, Pastors are meant, is strongly confirmed from Act. 20.17.28. where the Elders of the Church of Ephesus are commanded to feed the flocke of Christ o∣ver which they were appointed over-seers, whence it followeth inevitably, that they were Pastors.* We answer, 1. Ambrose spea∣keth of Elders which were not Pastors. 2. Be∣za & Gualther expound the place Act. 14.23. where the Apostles are said to have ordained Elders through every Church, of ruling as well as preaching Elders. 3. As for that which he alledgeth from Act. 20. Beza,*Iu∣nius, and the Professors of Leyden, hold, that the names of Bishops and Pastors are com∣mon both to ruling and preaching Elders, and that the Scripture giveth these names to both, howsoever in Ecclesiastical use for distinctiōs cause, they are appropriate to teaching El∣ders. Surely the ruling Elder both overseeth the flocke and feedeth the same, both by dis∣cipline, and by private admonition; and for these respects may bee truly called both Bi∣shop and Pastor. 4. How small reason hee hath to boast of the Fathers, we have already made it to appeare. 5. It is a begging of the question to reason from the appropriation of the name of Elders to the Pastors.