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. V. The first Argument for the authority of Synods, and the subordination of Pres∣byteries thereto, taken from the light of nature.

HAving now described the power of particular Elderships (which we call Sessions) of Classicall Presbyteries, and of Synods, Provinciall and Nationall, Page  154 it remaineth to confirme by Arguments the subordination and subjection of the particu∣lar Elderships, to the Classicall or common Presbytery, of both to the Provinciall Sy∣nod, and of all these to the Nationall Assem∣bly: So that every one may perceive what reason the Church of Scotland hath to give unto the higher Ecclesiasticall Courts autho∣rity over the lower.

I might insist long enough both in the Te∣stimonies of Protestant Writers, and in the examples of the reformed Churches abroad, as also in the examples of all the ancient Churches, all speaking for this authority of Synods. But these I shall passe, because I know Arguments from Scripture, and reason, are required, and such we have to give.

First of all I argue from the very light & law of nature. That same light of nature which hath taught our Common-wealth, beside the Magistrates and Councells of particular Burghs, to constitute higher Courts, for whole Shires, Baliveries, Stuartries, Regali∣ties; and above all these, the supreame Court of Parliament to governe the whole Nation, hath also taught our Church to constitute Synods Provinciall and Nationall, with power and authority above Presbyteries. Wee are farre from their minde who would Page  155 make Policy the Mistresse, and Religion the Handmaid, and would have the government of the Church conformed to the government of the State as the fittest paterne. But this we say, in all such things as are alike common to the Church and to the Common-wealth, and have the same use in both, whatsoever natures light directeth the one, it cannot but direct the other also; for as the Church is a company of Christians subject to the aw of God, so is it a company of men and wo∣men who are not the outlawes of nature, but followers of the same. It is well said by one, Hoc certissimum est &c.*This is most certaine, that the Church is a certaine kinde of Republike▪ for it hath all those things which all Re∣publikes must need, have, but thth them in a different way, because it is not a Civill▪ but an Ecclesiasticll Republike. And againe, Est ergo, &c. o that this Republike is much more perfect then all others, and therefore cannot but have the things which they have that are in dignity farre inferiur to it. So saith Robinson in his justif. of separ. pag. 113. The visible Church, saith he, being a politie Ecclesiasticall and the perfect on of all polities, doth comprehend in it whatsoever is excellent in all other bodies politi∣call. Now so it is, that while as some hold the government of the Church to bee Monarchi∣call, Page  156 others Aristocraticall, others Democra∣ticall, others mixed of all these; they all ac∣knowledge that the Church is a Republike, and ought to bee governed even as a Civill Republike, in things which are alike com∣mon to both: of this kinde are Courts and Judicatories, which doe alike belong to both, and have the same use in both, viz. for rule and government; therefore as na∣tures light doth undeniably enforce diversity of Courts in the Common-wealth, some par∣ticular, some generall, some lower, some higher, and the latter to have authority over the former, it doth no lesse undeniably en∣force the like in the Church, for de paribus idem judicium. It cannot bee denyed that the Church is led by natures light in such things as are not proper to religious holy uses, but alike common to civill societies, at least in so farre as they are common to sacred and civill uses. The Assemblies of the Church in so farre as they treat of things Spirituall and Ecclesiasticall, after a spirituall manner, for a spirituall end, and doe consist of spirituall Office-bearers as the members constituent, in as farre they are sacred, and the Church is therein directed by the Word of God alone; yet the having of Assemblies and Consisto∣ries, and divers sorts of them, and the lower Page  157 subordinat to the higher, all this is not sacred nor proper to the Church, but common with her to the Common-wealth, nature com∣mending therein to the one, what it com∣mendeth to the other.