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.
Page  94

CHAP. XIII. Whether Ruling Elders have the power of decisive voyces, when they sit in Prebyteries and Synods.

THere are sundry questions pro∣pounded by D. Field and other ad∣versaries of Ruling Elders, where∣into they thinke wee are not able to satisfie them, as 1. Whether Ruling Elders ought to have decisive voyces, even in questions of Faith and Doctrine, and in the tryall and approbation of Ministers? 2. Whether these Elders must be in every Congregation with power of ordination, deprivation, sus∣pension, excommunication, and absolution, or whether this power bee onely in Mini∣sters and Elders of divers Churches con∣curring? 3. Jf they be Ecclesiasticall per∣sons, where is their ordination? 4. Whe∣ther these 〈◊〉 be perpetuall or annuall, and but for a certaine time?

Page  95Whether they ought to serve freely or to have a stipend? Touching the first of these; since the reformation which Luther began, it was ever maintained by the Protestāt wri∣ters, that not the Ministers of the word a∣lone, but some of all sorts among Christi∣ans ought to have decisive voices in Coun∣cils. But Dr. Field will admit none to teach and define in Councls,* but the Ministers of the word onely: others he permits onely to consent unto that which is done by them. Saravia alloweth grave and learned men to sit with the Ministers of the word,* yet not as Iudges, but as Counsellors and Assessors onely. Tilen will not say that the Bishops and Pastors of the Church ought to call a∣ny into their Councill, but that they may doe it when there is need. Against whom and all who are of their mind we object. 1. The example of Apostolicke Synods. Mat∣thias the Apostle after Gods owne designa∣tion of him, by the lot which fell upon him, was chosen by the voices, not onely of the Apostles, but the other Disciples, who were met with them Act, 1.26. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉i. e. Simul suffragiis electus est, as Arias Mon∣tanus turneth it.* For the proper and native signification of 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as Lorinus sheweth out of Gagveius, is to choose by voices. The Professors of Leyden have no∣ted Page  96 this consensus Ecclesiae per〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 in the election of Matthias Cens. in Confess. cap. 21. Jn the Councill of Hierusalem Act. 15. we find that beside the Apostles the El∣ders were present, and voiced definitively, for they by whom the Decree of the Synod was given forth, and who sent chosen men to Antioch, were the Apostles and Elders, Gerard, Loc. Theol. com. 6. n. 28. and th Profess. of Leyden, cens. in conf. c. 21. un∣derstand that the Elders spoken of v. 5. & 6. were the ruling Elders of the Church of Hierusalem, joyned with the Apostles, who laboured in the word. Other Protestāt wri∣ters understand by the name of Elders there, both preaching and ruling Elders. The Bre∣thrent, hat is the whole Church, heard the disputes, and consented to the Decrees, v. 21, 22, 23 Ruling Elders behoved to doe more then the whole Church, that is voice definitively. Lorinus the Jesuite saith, that by the name of Elders there, wee may un∣derstand not onely Priests, but others be∣sides them. Viz. antiquiores & anctoritate praecellentes discipulos, Disciples of greatest age and note. And this he saith is the rea∣son why the vulgar Latine hath not retai∣ned in that place the Greeke word Presby∣teri, but readeth Seniores. 2. Wee have Page  97 for us the example of Ecclesiasticall Courts among the Iewes, wherein the Iewish El∣ders had equall power of voicing with the Priests, and for this we have heard before, Saravia's plaine confession. 3. The ex∣ample of ancient Councils in the Christian Church. Constantine in his Epistle which he wrote to the Churches, concerning the Nicene Councill saith; I my selfe as one of your number was present with them (the Bi∣shops) which importeth that others of the Laity voiced there with the Bishops as well as he, and hee as a chiefe one of their number. Euagrius lib. 2. cap. 4. saith, that the chiefe Senators sate with the Bishops in the Councill of Chalcedon. And after he saith, The Senators decreed as followeth. The fourth Councill of Carthag, c. 27. spea∣king of the transportation of a Bishop or of any other Clergie man,* saith, sane si id Ec∣clesiae vtilitas fiendum poposecrit, decret Pro eo clericorum & laicorum Episcopis porrecto, in praesētia Synodi transferatur. The Decrees of the Synod of France holden by Charlemain about the yeare 743. are said to have beene made by the King, the Bishops, the Pres∣byters, and Nobles. Many such examples might we shew, but the matter is so cleere that it needeth not.* 4. The Revieu of the Councill of Trent written by a Papist, Page  98 among other causes of the Nobility of that Councill maketh this one, that Lay-men were not called nor admitted into it, as was the forme of both the Apostolicke and o∣ther ancient Councils, shewing also from sundry Histories and examples, that both in France, Spaine, and England, Lay-men vsed to voice and to judge of all matters that were handled in Councils: alleaging further the examples of Popes themselves. That Adrian did summon many Lay-men to the Lateran Councill, as members there∣of, that in imitation of him Pope Leo did the like in another Councill at the Lateran under Otho the first, and that Pope Nicholas in Epist. ad Michael Imperat. acknowled∣geth the right of Lay-men to voice in Coun∣cils, wherein matters of faith are treated of, because faith is common to all.* The same writer sheweth also from the Histories▪ that in the Councill of Constance, were 24. Dukes, 140 Earles, divers Delegates from Cities and Corporations, divers learned Lawyers, and Burgesses of Universities, 5. The Protestants of Germany, did ever refuse to acknowledge any such Councill wherein none but Bishops and Ministers of the word did judge.* When the Councill of Trent was first spoken of in the Dyet at Norim∣berg, Anno 1522. all the estates of GermanyPage  99 desired of Pope Adrian the 6. That ad∣mittance might be granted as well to Lay-men as to Clergie-men, and that not onely as witnesses and spectators, but to be judges there. This they could not obtaine, there∣fore they would not come to the Councill, and published a booke which they entitu∣led, Causa cur Electores & caeteri confessioni Augustanae addicti ad Cōcilium Tridentinum non accedant. Where they alleage this for one cause of their not comming to Trent, because none had voice there but Cardinals, Bishops, Abbots, Generals, or superiors of orders, wheras laickes also ought to have a decisive voice in Councils, 6. If none but the Ministers of the word should sit and voice in a Synod, then it could not bee a Church representative, because the most part of the Church (who are the hearer and not the teachers of the word) are not represented in it. 7. A common cause ought to be concluded by common voices. But that which is treated of in Councils is a common cause pertaining to many parti∣cular Churches. Our Divines when they prove against Papists that the election of Ministers and the excommunication of ob∣stinate sinners ought to be done by the suf∣frages of the whole Church they make use of this same argument; That which con∣cerneth Page  100 all ought to be treated of and judged by all. 8. Some of all estates in the com∣mon-wealth, voice in Parliament, therefore some of all sorts in the Church ought to voice in Councils and Synods; for de pari∣bus idem judicium, A Nationall Synod is that same to the Church, which. A Parlia∣ment is to the Common-wealth. 9. Those Elders whose right we plead, are called by the Apostle rulers, Rom. 12.8. 1 Tim. 5.17. and Governours, 1 Cor. 12.28. there∣fore needs must they voice and judge in those assemblies, without which the Church cannot be ruled nor governed. Jf this be de∣nyed them they have no other function be∣hind, to make them Rulers or Governours of the Church. Rome was ruled by the Se∣nate, not by the Censors; and Athens was governed by the Aropagus, not by the inferiour Office-bearers, who did only take heed, how the Lawes were observed. But let us now see what is objected against this power of Ruling Elders, to voice in Coun∣cill, and to Iudge of all things, even matters of faith treated therein. First it is alleadged that lay-men have not such abilities, of gifts and learning, as to judge aright of such mat∣ters. But I dare say there are Ruling Elders in Scotlād, who in a theological dispute, should powerfully spoyle many of those who make Page  101 this objection. 2. Antonius Sadeel, Iohannes a Lasco, Morney, and such like shew plainely to the world, that gifts & singular learning, are not tyed to Bishops and Doctors of the Church. 3. Neither doe men of subtile wits and deepest learning, prove alwayes fittest to dispute and determine questions of faith. It is marked in ye historie of the Councill of Nice, that there was a Lay-man therein, of a simple and sincere mind, who put to silence a subtile Philosopher, whom all the Bi∣shops could not compese. 4. There are many both in Parliament and secret Coun∣sell without all controversie able to give their suffrages, and to judge of matters in hand, who notwithstanding, are not of such learning and Eloquence as to enter into the lists of a publique dispute. 5. And if the gifts and abilities, of the most part of ruling Elders, were as small as their adversaries will be pleased to call them, yet this con∣cludeth nothing against their right power of voicing, but onely against their aptitude and fitnesse unto that, whereto their right would carry them. And we doubt that e∣very Pastour be well gifted, for all which cōmeth within the compasse of his vocati∣on, or doth well every thing, which he hath power to doe. Another objection is made from 1. Cor. 14.32. The spirits of the Pro∣phets, ar subject to the Prophets: whence they collect, Page  102 that prophets, and preachers of the word, ought to be judged by such as themselves are, that is by Prophets and Preachers, and by none other.* To this we say, 1. There owne Camero giveth us another commen∣tarie upon that place, rightly observing, that the Apostle there speaketh nothing of try∣ing or judging the spirits, but onely of the order, which is to be kept in the Church: for whereas in the Church of Corinth, the Prophets did prophecy tumultuously, ma∣ny or all of them at once, and would not give place one to another, this the Apostle condemneth, and will have the Prophets so farre subject to the Prophets, as that when one riseth up to prophecy, the rest may hold their peace. 2. That this is the sense it is cleare, from the order and depen∣dance of the Text, for v. 30. he comman∣deth him that prophecieth in the Church to hold his peace, when any thing is revea∣led to another Prophet that sitteth by, now this he enforceth by foure reasons. 1. Be∣cause so they might all prophecy one by one, and they were mistaken, who thought that all could not prophecy, except many spake at once. 2. All that were in the Church might learne and all be comfor∣ted, by every Prophet, which could not be, except they prophecied severally one by Page  103 one. 3. The Spirits of the Prophets are not arrogant, but humblie subject one to ano∣ther, each giving place to other. 4. God is not the Author of confusion, but of peace and order.