THE Second Part, concerning the Assemblies of the Church of SCOTLAND, and Authority thereof.
CHAP. I. Of popular Government in the Church.
THere bee some that call in question the Warrant and Authority of classicall Presbyteries, of provinciall Synods and Nationall Assemblies, as they are used and maintained in the Church of Scotland. I meane not the Praelaticall facti∣on, whom we set aside, but even some who are as Antiepiscopall as we are. The Scru∣pulosity of such (at least of many such) herein doth (we conceive) proceed not from any Page 109 perversnesse of mind, but onely from cer∣taine mistakings, which better information may remove.
But first of all wee require those, whom we now labour to satisfie, to condescend up∣on another point, viz. that the exercise of Ecclesiasticall power and jurisdiction in a particular Congregation, ought not to bee committed to the whole collective body thereof, but is peculiar to the Eldership re∣presenting the same; for in vaine doe wee debate the other point concerning Presby∣teries and Assemblies, if this latent preju∣dice still occupy their minds, that the Go∣vernment of the Church must needs be po∣pular, exercised by the collective body, which happily may in some sort bee done within the bounds of a well limited Congre∣gation, but is manifestly inconsistent with classicall Presbyteries & Synods, because the collective Bodies of all particular Congre∣gations within the bounds of a shire, of a Province, of a Nation, cannot bee ordinarily, nor at all ordinatly, as∣sembled together, and if they could, Page 110 I beleeve that the Separatists themselves would in that case allow a dependencie or subordination of particular Congregations unto the more generall Congregation. So that the point of popular government being once cleared, it shall facilitate the other question concerning the Subordination of particular Elderships to class•icall Pres∣byteries & Synods. Now there are good rea∣sons why this popular government or exer∣cise by jurisdiction by all can not be admit∣ted into a Congregation.
First, in every Christian Congregation, there are some Rulers, some ruled, some Go∣vernors, some governed, some that com∣mand, some that obey, as is manifest from Hebr. 13.17. 1. Thes. 5.12. 1. Tim. 5.17. But if the whole Congregation have the Rule and Government, who then shall be ruled and governed? It will be answered, that in the ex∣ercise of jurisdiction, every Member is to act according to it's owne condition, the head as the head, the eye as the eye, &c. that the Rulers and Governors of a Congrega∣tion are to have the principall condu• of businesse, and to bee Heads, Eares, Mouths, &c. to the Congregation.
Page 111But this simile maketh rather for us then against us, for though every member bee usefull and steadable in the body according to it's owne condition, yet every member neither can nor doth exercise those princi∣pall actions of seeing, hearing, tasting, &c. I say not that other members cannot see, heare, taste, as the eyes, eares, and mouth doe, but they cannot at all see, heare, nor taste. So if the Rulers of a Congregation be as the eyes, eares, mouth, &c. then other members of the Congregation cannot at all act those actions of government which they act. Hence it is that some, who make the whole Congregation the first subject of the power of spirituall Jurisdiction, doe notwithstanding hold that the whole Church doth exercise the said jurisdiction as Principium quod, the Eldership alone, as Principium quo, even as the whole man seeth, as Principium quod, the eye alone, as Principium quo, and so of all the rest. Thus doe they put a difference betwixt the pow∣er it selfe,* and the exercise of it, ascribing the former to the collective body of the Church, the latter to the representative: knowing that otherwise they could not preserve the distinction of Rulers and ruled in the Church.
Page 112Secondly, it is well knowne that in Con∣gregations the greater part are not fit to exercise Jurisdiction, for they can not ex∣amine the Doctrine and abilities of Mini∣sters, how should they ordaine them? They can not judge of questions and controver∣sies of faith, how shall they determine the same? They can not find out and disco∣ver Hereticks, how shall they excommuni∣cate them? It is answered that this evill proceedeth from another, viz. That there is too much sloth and oversight in the ad∣mission of such as are to be members of a Congregation,*, and that they would be fit enough to doe their duty, if they were all Saints, they meane appearantly, and in the judgement of charity such, Rom. 1.7. 1 Cor. 1, 2. Eph. 1, 1. But say we againe, 1. Why may wee not hold that when the Apostle writeth to the Saints at Rome, at Corinth, &c. he meaneth not, that all who were in those Churches, were either truely or ap∣pearantly Saints (for some wicked ones there were among them, and manifestly vi∣tious, Rom. 16, 17, 18. 1 Cor. 5.9.11.) But that his meaning is, to direct his Epi∣stles to so many as were Saints at Rome, Co∣rinth, &c. mentioning them alone; be∣cause to them, and to none but them, did Page 113 God send his word for a blessing, it being sent to others that they may goe and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and ta∣ken, as the Prophet speaketh. 2. If it should be granted that the Apostle giveth the name of Saints to all and every one that were in the Churches of Rome, Corinth, and Ephesus, yet Mr. Ainsworth himselfe answering Mr. Bernard holdeth that they are called Saints by externall calling onely, wherewith many are called who are not chosen, and who have no appearant markes of election. Others say that they were called Saints, in respect of their baptisme, wherein they were all consecrated and devoted to God. Some say that they were all Saints, in respect of their profession. 3. Howsoever it was that they were all called Saints, yea put the case they had beene all truely Saints, surely their san∣ctification can not import their fitnesse to exercise jurisdiction in the Church. The former is a speciall grace of the holy Spi∣rit given to one for his owne Salvation: The other is a common gift of the Spirit, given for the benefit of the Church.
Thirdly, it were not possible to exercise ju∣risdiction by a whole Congregation without Page 114 great confusion and disorder: therefore this way cannot be from God, who is not the author of confusion but of order. If it be answered, that order may be kept in a Congregation exercising Iurisdiction as well as in a Nationall, at least in a Oecu∣menicall Synod, where there will be as great a multitude, and peradventure grea∣ter, then there is in a well-bounded Con∣gregation. Wee reply it is not so much the multitude, which should make disor∣der in the exercise of Jurisdiction by a whole Congregation (though indeed in many Congregations the multitude alone would hinder order) as the rudenesse of the vulgar sort, who if they should all speake their judgement, what a monstrous and un∣avoidable confusion should there be? The members of Nationall and Oecumenicall Councils, are supposed to be men of know∣ledge and discretion, and so may be kept in good order, much more easily then a rude multitude in the Congrega∣tion.
They who are of another judgement ob∣ject to us: First, our Saviours precept, Matth. 18.17. Where hee biddeth us not •ell the Eldershish, but tell the Church. Ans. By the Church he meaneth the representa∣tive Page 115 body of the Church, even as that which was spoken to the Elders of Israel, Exod. 12.21. was said to be spoken by all the Con∣gregation of Israel,*Ib. verse 3. and he who was judged by the Elders, was said to bee judged by the Congregation, Ios. 20.6. More of this place we say elsewhere. Next they object the example of excommunica∣tion by the whole Congregation of Corinth, for the Apostle sheweth that it was the du∣ty of the whole Congregation, to cast out that incestuous man. 1 Cor. 220.127.116.11.13. In like manner hee writeth to them all, to receive him againe, when he had repented, 2 Cor. 2.6.8, 9. Answer. Whether the power of excommunication in actu pri∣mo seu quo ad esse, did belong to the col∣lective body of the Church of Corinth or not, is a question controverted, and to this day sub judice lis est, yet even those who hold the affirmative part of the question, doe notwithstanding say, that i•〈◊〉 secun∣do seu quo ad operari, the power pertained onely to the 〈◊〉 body of that Church which 〈…〉 P•esbytery: which is also confirmed by 2. Cor. 2.6. where the Apostle speaking of the censure of that incestuous man, saith not, that it was Page 116 inflicted, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, but 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 not by all, but by many. Hee was judged and sentenced by those 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that is by the Pastors and Elders of Corinth, howbeit the execution & finall act of that high censure, was to be with the consent and in the pre∣sence of the Congregation.
Thirdly, it is objected, that Matthias was chosen by the whole number of the Disciples, Act. 1. and so were the Dea∣cons chosen, Act. 6. and Elders in every City were made per〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the Congre∣gation signifying their suffrages by the lif∣ting up or stretching forth of their hands, Act. 14.23. Therefore Jurisdiction ought to be exercised by whole Congregations. Answ. This Argument faileth two waies, 1. Though ordination of Office-bearers in the Church be an act of Jurisdiction, it doth not appeare that the election of them is an act of jurisdiction likewise. Though the solemnizing of marriage be an act of authority, yet the choice and desire of the parties is not an act of authority. 2. Or (if you will) election of Ministers is one of the Rights and Priviledges of the Church, yet no act of jurisdiction. 3. And if electi∣on were an act of authority and jurisdicti∣on, Page 117 yet the alleadged examples prove no more but that this act of jurisdiction is to be exercised by the whole body, in Ecclesia constituenda, non constituta. It may bee so indeed in Churches at their first erection, but being once erected, and all necessary Office-bearers therein planted, from thence∣forth the election of Elders pertaineth to the Presbytery,* to the Pastor and Elders, as Zepperus writeth, though still with the con∣sent of the Church.
Fourthly, it is objected, that what con∣cerneth all ought to be done with the con∣sent of all. Answ. Wee hold the same, but the consent of all is one thing, the ex∣ercise of jurisdiction by all, another thing. Ainsworth in one of his Epistles to Paget, condemneth the Elderships sitting and jud∣ging matters apart from the Congregation.*Paget answereth, that though the Eldership sit apart to judge, yet before any sentence be given for the cutting off of any offen∣der, or for any other thing which con∣cerneth all, matters are first propoun∣ded to the whole Church, and their prayers and consent required.
Page 118And surely this forme of proceeding shi∣neth forth to us in that Apostolicall Synod at Ierusalem, for the Apostles and Elders, met, sate, and voiced apart from the whole Church, as Calvin noteth from Act. 15, 6. and they alone judged and decreed Act. 16.4. In the meane while were matters made knowne to the whole Church, and done with the consent of all, Act. 15.22.
If it be objected from verse 12: that the whole multitu•e was present in the Synod: I answer, we may understand with Piscator the multitude there spokē of to be the mul∣titude of the Apostles & Elders, V. 6. or if we should understand by the multitude the whole Church, this proveth onely that the whole Church heard the question disputed, not that they were all present at the judging and determining of it. If it be further ob∣jected that the Synodall Epistle came not onely from the Apostles and Elders, but from the brethren, that is, the whole Church. The answer is easie. The Brethren are mentioned, because it was done with their knowledge, consent, and applause.
To say no more, wee would gladly bury this controversie about popular govern∣ment, in eternall silence and oblivion, and to this end we are content it be packt up, Page 119 in the words which the Separatists them∣selves (doubtlesse perpending the Reasons above-mentioned) have set downe in the 14. Article of the Confession of their Faith published, Anno 1616▪ for this they say. Wee judge each proper Pastor, may and ought to bee trusted by the Congregation, with the mana∣ging of all points of their Ecclesiasticall af∣faires and Government, so farre, that he with his assistants doe execute and administer the same: yet so that in matters of waight, the whole Congregation doe first understand there∣of, before any thing be finished, and the finall act bee done in the presence of the whole Con∣gregation, and also that they (the said Con∣gregation) doe •ot manifestly dissent there∣from. We are heartily content, that Congre∣gations doe fully enjoy all the Christian liberty, which here is pleaded for in their behalfe, yea and much more also; for the assistants spoken of in these words of the Confession, are other Pastors and Collea∣gues, if any there be, in the same Congrega∣tion, as will bee evident to any that readeth that Article. But wee are content that the Assistants spoken of be understood to bee Ruling Elders. Now if the Authors of that Confession thought the Christian liberty of a Congregation sufficiently preserved, Page 120 when the Pastor or Pastors thereof doe manage the weighty Ecclesiasticall affaires and government, with the kno•ledge, •nd (at least tacite) consent of the Congregation it selfe, then doe we not onely sufficiently and abundantly preserve the liberty of the Con∣gregation, while as not the Pastor or Pastors thereof alone, but sundry Ruling Elders; also, representing the Congregation, doe manage the affaires aforesaid, the Congre∣gation withall understanding thereof, and consenting thereto, Tacitè if not Expressè. I doe not thinke but those of the Separation at this time, will easily assent to this resolu∣tion and reconcilement of the controversie, and so much the rather, because (I beleeve) they themselves doe seclude from the exer∣cise of jurisdiction in the Congregation, both children under age, because of their defect of Judgement, and women, because they are forbidden to speake in the Church, and whe∣ther they seclude any other, I know •ot, but since according to their owne Tenets, some must be secluded, and the power given to the Church,* must in the exercise of it be re∣strained to some in the Church, it is better to say with Aegidius Hunnius, that when Christ remitteth us to the Church. Mat. 18.17. He meaneth the prime and chiefe Mem∣bers which represent the Church, that is Pastors Page 121 a•d Elders, then to say that he sendeth us to the whole body of the Church.
One scruple more may peradventure re∣maine. They will say, it is well that we re∣quire the churches consent, before any waighty matter which concerneth all be fi∣nished: but what if this consent be not had? Whether may the Eldership cut off an of∣fender renitente Ecclesia?* For their satis∣faction is this, also wee say with Zepperus, Quod si Ecclesia &c. But if the Church, saith he, will not approve the sentence of Excommu∣nication, nor hold it valid, and they see many disagreeing among themselves, and schismes and greater evills in the Church to follow this sentence of Excommunication: the Elders shall not proceed to Excommunication, but shall pa∣tiently suffer what cannot with the good leave of the church be amended. In the meane while they shall publikely and privately admonish and exhort* So saith Zanchius, that without the consent of the church no man ought to be excommunicated.
The B. of Spalato, and before him, Augu∣stine hath given the reason hereof, because the end of excommunication cannot be at∣tained, Page 122 if the Church doe not consent thereto; for the end is, that the offender may bee taken with feare and shame, when he findeth him∣selfe abhorred and accursed by the whole Church, so that it shall be in vain to excom∣municate him, from whom the Multitude in the Church refuse to abstract their com∣munion. I conclude, that in such cases; though the Pastors and Elders have the power of jurisdiction, it is not to exercise the same.
CHAP. II. Of the independencies of the Elderships of particular Congregations.
WEE have now rolled away one stone of offence, but there is another in our way. It were most strange, if the col∣lective body of a Congregation, consisting it may bee of 10, 20, 30, or 40 persons, according to the grounds of these with whom we deale, should bee permitted to exercise independently all Eccleasisticall Jurisdiction: but it is almost as great a Pa∣radox, to say, that the representative of every Congregation, which is the Eldership ther∣of, consisting it may be of a Pastor, and two or three Ruling Elders, ought independent∣ly Page 113 to exercise the foresaid jurisdiction in all points.
I am debtor to D. Field, for answering one of those questions before propounded, concerning Ruling Elders, and here it falls in my hand. He asketh whether the power of Church-government and jurisdiction, doth belong to the Pastor and Elders of every Congregation, or to the Pastors and Elders of many Congregations joyned together in a Common Presbytery. I beleeve his ex∣pectation was, that while as we would sayle through betwixt the Caribdis of Episcopall tyranny, and the Scylla of popular Anarchy, wee should not know ho• to direct our course, but should certainly either bee swal∣lowed up in the waves of mighty difficul∣ties, or split our selves upon hid Rockes of division. Our danger, I hope, is not so great as he did imagine; for we hold that the parti∣cular Elderships of severall Congregations have their owne power and authority of Church-government, but with a subordina∣tion unto the common or greater Presbyte∣ry, whose power is superior and of a larger extent.
First, then we shall take into considerati∣on, the bounds of the power of particular Elderships, and how the same may be said to be independent, and how not, for this pur∣pose, Page 124 I shall give foure distinctions out of Parker, and to these I shall adde other foure of my owne.*
The first distinction is, betwixt things which are proper and peculiar to one Con∣gregation,* and things which are common to many: the former pertaineth to the parti∣cular Eldership, the latter to the common Eldership: Whence it commeth that in Scotland the cases of ordination, suspension, deposition, and Excommunication, are de∣termined in the greater Presbyteries, because it doth not concerne one Congregation a∣lone, but many, who be taken into the com∣mon Presbytery, and who be put out of the sam•, neither doth the Excommunication of a sinner concerne onely one Congregati∣on, but the Neighbouring Congregations also, among whom (as is to be commonly suppo∣sed▪ the sinner doth often haunt & converse. Cyprian speaking of the admission of some who had fallen, and who had no recommen∣dation from the Martyrs to be received a∣gaine, referreth the matter to a common meeting, and his reason is, because it was a common cause, and did not concerne a few, nor one church onely. See lib. 2. Ep. 14.
The second distinction is betwixt Con∣gregations, Page 125which have a competent and well-qualified Eldership, & small Congregations, who have but few office-bearers, and those (it may be) not sufficiently able for Church-govern∣ment. In this case of insufficiencie, a Congre∣gation may not independently, by it selfe, exer∣cise jurisdiction, and not in re propria, saith Parker.
3. He distinguisheth betwixt the case of right administration, and the case of aberra∣tion: whatsoever liberty, a Congregation hath in the former case, surely in the latter it must needs be subject and subordinate. If particular Elderships doe rightly manage their owne matters of Church-government, the grea∣ter Presbytery shall not need for a long time (it may be for some yeares) to intermeddle in any of their matters, which wee know by expe∣rience in our owne Churches.
4. Hee maketh a distinction betwixt the case of appellation and the case, de nulla ad∣ministratione mala praesumpta. Though the particular Eldership hath proceeded aright, though it consist of able and sufficient men, and though it bee in re propria, yet if one think himselfe wronged, and so appeale, then is it made obnoxious to a higher consistory, Page 126 for saith Parker, as the Councill of Sardis ordaineth audience must, not bee denyed to him who entreateth for it.
*So saith Zepperus, speaking of the same purpose, cuivis integrum quoque sit ad superi∣ores gradus provocare, si in inferioris gradus sententia aut decreto aliquid desideret.
5. Adde unto these a distinction betwixt a Congregation, lying alone in an Iland, Province, or Nation, and a Congregation bordering with sister Churches. If either there be but one Congregation in a King∣dome or Province, or if there be many farre distant one from another, so that their Pa∣stors and Elders cannot ordinarily meete together, then may a particular Congrega∣tion doe many things by it selfe alone, which it ought not to doe, where there are adjacent neighbouring Congregations, together with which, it may, and should have a common Presbytery.
6. Let us put a difference betwixt the sub∣ordination of one Congregation to ano∣ther, or of ore Eldership to another, and the subordination of any Congregation, and of Page 127 the Eldership thereof to a superior, Presby∣tery or Synod made out of many Congre∣gations, as one provinciall Synod is not sub∣ject to another Provinciall Synod, yet all the Provinciall Synods in the Nation are subje•t 〈◊〉 the Nationall Synod, so it is also with the ordinary consistories, one particu∣lar Eldership is not subject to another, yet all the particular Elderships within the bounds of the common Presbytery are sub∣ject to the same. So that there is a vast dif∣ference betwixt this subordination which we maintaine, and the subordination of all the Parishes in a Diocesse to the Praelate and his Cathedrall. Where Douname doth object that all the Parishes of Geneva are Hierarchically subject to the Presbytery in the city, Parker denieth this, nisi quis &c. vnlesse saith he,*peradvēture one may be subject to himselfe, for the Parishes, each for their owne part, and that alihe, are this same Pres∣bytery. And after, Consistorium &c. for the Consistory of the Cathedrall Church is an ex∣ternall meeting, divers distinct and separate from the rurall Churches, which are no part thereof, this cannot be said of the Presbytery of Geneva.
7. Wee must distinguish betwixt a de∣pendance absolute, and, in some respect, a Congregation doth absolutely depend upon Page 128 the holy Scriptures alone, as the perfect rule of faith and manners, of worship and of Church-government, for we accurse the ty∣ranny of Prelates, who claimed to them∣selves an autocratoricke power over Congre∣gations,* to whom they gave their naked will for a Law. One of themselves told a whole Synod that they ought to esteeme that best which seemeth so to Superiors, and that this is a sufficient ground to the conscience for obeying, though the thing be inconvenient. We say, that Congregations ought indeed to be subject to Presbyteries and Synods, yet not absolutely, but in the Lord, and in things lawfull, and to this purpose the constituti∣ons of Presbyteries and Synods are to bee examined by the judgement of Christian discretion, for a Synod is Iudex Iudicandus, and Regula regulata, so that it ought not to be blindly obeyed, whether the ordinance be convenient or inconvenient.
Last of all we are to distinguish betwixt the condition of the Primitive Churches, before the division of Parishes, and the state of our Churches now after such division. At the first when the multitude of Chri∣stians in those great cities of Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, &c. was not divided into severall Parishes, the common Presbytery in the Page 129 city did suffice for the government of the whole, and there was no need of a particular consistory of Elders, for every assembly and Congregation of Christians within the city, except perhaps to admonish, rebuke, exhort, or to take notice of such things as were to be brought into the common Presbyterie. But after that Parishes were divided, and Christian Congregations planted in the ru∣rall villages, as well as in the cities, from henceforth it was necessary that every Con∣gregation should have at hand within it selfe, a certaine Consistory for some acts of Church-government, though still those of greater importance were reserved to the greater Presbyterie. And thus have J, out of desire to avoid unnecessary questions, set downe my conceptions concerning the El∣derships of particular Congregations, and the power of the same.
If it be said, that I seeme to deny the di∣vine right of the same, or that they have a∣ny warrant from the patterne of the Aposto∣like Churche. I answer. I acknowledge the conformity of the same with the patterne thus farre. 1. It is to bee suposed that in some small cities (especially the same not being wholly converted to the Christian faith) there was but one Christian Con∣gregation, the Eldership whereof did Page 130 manage matters of jurisdictiō proper there∣to. 2. Even in the great cities, at the first there was but one Congregation of Christi∣ans, and so but one particular Eldership. 3. After that the Gospell had spread, and Chri∣stians were multiplied in those great cities, it is true, they were all governed by a com∣mon Presbytery, but that Presbytery was not remote, but ready at hand among thēselves. Now in this we keepe our selves as closse to the patterne, as the alteration of the Chur∣ches condition by the division of Parishes will suffer us, that is to say, we have a com∣mon Presbytery for governing the Congre∣gations within a convenient circuit, but withall our Congregations have, ad manum, among themselves, an inferior Eldership for lesser acts of Government; though in respect of the distance of the seate of the common Presbytery from sundry of our Parishes, they can not have that ease and benefit of nearenesse, which the Apostolique Churches had, yet by the particular Elderships they have as great ease of this kinde as conveni∣ently can be.
CHAP. III. Of greater Presbyteries which some call classes.
THe word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 Presbyterie we find thrice in the New Testament, twice of the Iewish Presbytery at Hierusalem, Luke 22.66. Act. 22.5. and once of the Christian Presbytery. 1. Tim. 4.14. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which 〈◊〉 given thee by prophecy,*with the lay∣ing on of the hands of the Presbytery. Sutli∣vius and Douname have borrowed, from Bel∣larmine, two false glosses upon this place.
They say by 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 here, we may un∣derstand either an assembly of Bishops, or the Office of a Presbyter, which was given to Timothy.* To these absurdities let one of their owne side answer. Whereas saith D. Forbesse, some have expounded the Presbytery in this place to be a company of Bishops, unlesse by Bishops thou would understand simple Pres∣byters, it is a violent interpretation, and an insolent meaning. And whereas others have vnderstood the degree it selfe of Eldership, this can not stand,*for the degree hath not hands, but hands are mens. J find in Sutlivius, a Page 132 third glosse. He saith, that the word Pres∣byterie in this place signifieth the Ministers of the word, non juris vinculo sed ut cunque collectos, inter quos etiam Apostoli erant. Ans. 1. If so, then the occasionall meeting of Ministers, be it in a journey, or at a wed∣ding, or a buriall, &c. shall all be Presby∣teries, for then they are ut cunque collecti. 2. The Apostles did put the Churches 〈◊〉 bet∣ter order, then to leave imposition of hands, or any thing of that kind to the uncertainty of an occasionall meeting. 3, The Apostles were freely present in any Presbyterie, where they were for the time, because the over∣sight and care of all the Churches was layd upon them: Pastors and Elders were nece∣ssarily present therein, and did by vertue of their particular vocation meete together Presbyterially, whether an Apostle were with them, or not.
No other sense can the Text suffer but that by Presbyterie we should understand consessus Presbyterorum, a meeting of Elders, and so doe Camero and Forbesse themselves expound it. Sutlivius objecteth to the con∣trary, that the Apostle Paul did lay on hands upon Timothy, which he proveth both from 2. Tim. 1. and, because extraordinary gifts were given by that laying on of hands. Ans. There is an expresse difference made betwixt Page 133Pauls laying on of his hands, and the Presby∣teries laying on of their hāds. Of the former it is said, that Timothy received the gift, which was in him, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 by the laying on of Pauls hands; but he received the gift 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 with the laying on of the hands of the Pres∣byterie, as Didoclavius noteth. But saith Sutlivius, Timothy being an Evangelist (as you hold) how could hee be ordained by the Presbyterie? Ans. 1. Though the Presby∣terie did neither give him ordination to bee an Evangelist, nor yet conferre by the lay∣ing on of their hands extraordinary gifts up∣on him, yet did they lay on their hands, as setting to the the Seale and Testimony, and commending him to the grace of God, even as certaine Prophets and Teachers layd hands on Paul and Barnabas, and Ananias also be∣fore that time had laid his hands upon Paul. 2. The Presbyterie might ordaine Timothy to be an Elder. If so be he was ordained an El∣der before he was ordained an Evangelist. 3. If the testimony of the Presbyterie, by the laying on of their hands, together, with the Apostles hands, in the extraordinary mission of Timothy, was required: much more may it be put out of question, that the Apostles committed to the Presbyt•ry the full power of ordaining ordinary Ministers.
But it is further objected by Sutlivius that Page 134 this could not be such a Presbyterie as is a∣mong us, because ordination and imposition of hands pertaine to none, but the Ministers of the word.* Ans. 1. The children of Is∣rael laid their hands upon the Levites, & we would know his reason why he denyeth the like power to ruling Elders now, especially since this imposition of hands is but a ge∣sture of one praying, and a morall signe de∣claring the person prayed for. 2. Howsoe∣ver our practice (wh•ch is also approved by good Divines) is,* to put a difference betwixt the act of ordination and the externall right thereof, which is imposition of hands, ascri∣bing the former to the whole Presbytery both Pastors and Elders, and reserving the lat∣ter to the Ministers of the word, yet to bee done in the name of all.
Thus have we evinced the Apostles mea∣ning, when he speaketh of a Presbyterie, and this Consistory we find to have continued in the Christian Church in the ages after the Apostles. Jt is certaine that the ancient Bi∣shops had no power to judge any cause with∣out the presence, advice and counsell of their Presbyters Conc. Carth. 4. can. 23. Field, For∣besse, Saravia, and Douname, doe all acknow∣ledge that it was so, and so doth Bellarmine de Pont. Rom. l. 1. c. 8. Of this Presbytery spea∣keth Cyprian. Omni actu ad me perlato, placuit contrahi Presbyterium, &c.
Page 135Of the Presbytery speaketh the same Cy∣prian, lib. 2. Ep. 8. & lib. 4. Ep. 5. Ignatius ad Trall. and Hierom in Esa. 3. Wee finde it also in conc. Ancyr. can 18 and in conc. Car∣thag. 4. can. 35.40.* Doctor Forbesse alled∣geth that the word Presbytery for fifteen hun∣dred yeares after Christ, did signifie no o∣ther thing in the Church, then a Diocesan Synod. But herein (if hee had understood himselfe) he spake not so much against Pres∣byteries, as against Prelats; for a Diocesse of old was bounded within one City.*Tum∣que jampridem per omnes provincias & per urbes singulas ordinati sint Episcopi, &c. saith Cyprian. It was necessary to ordaine Bishops, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉,* saith Chrysostome, speaking of the primitive times; yea, in Country Vil∣lages also were Bishops, who were called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that is, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, rurall Bishops, whose Episcopall office though li∣mited, yet) was allowed in the Councell of Ancyra, can. 13. and the Councell of Anti∣och can 8. & 10.*Sozomen recordeth that the Village Majuma, which was sometime a suburbe of the City Gaza, was not subject to the Bishop of Gaza, but had its owne pro∣per Bishop, and that by the decree of a Sy∣nod in Palestina. The Councell of Sardis, can. 6. and the Councell of Laodicea, can. 57. Page 134〈1 page duplicate〉Page 135〈1 page duplicate〉Page 136 though they discharged the ordaining of Bi∣shops in villages, lest the name of a Bishop should grow contemptible, did neverthelesse allow every City to have a Bishop of its owne. What hath Doctor Forbesse now gai∣ned by maintaining that the bounds of a Presbyterie, and of a Diocesse were all one? They in the Netherl•nds sometime call their Presbyteries Diocaeses:* and many of our Presbyteries are greater then were Diocesses of old. Wee conclude there was anciently a Presbytery in every City which did indeede choose one of their number to preside a∣mong them, and to lay on hands in name of the rest, and hee was called the Bi∣shop; wherein they did more trust the de∣ceiveable goodnesse of their owne intenti∣ons, then advert to the rule of the Word of God.
These things premitted, I come now to that which is principally intended, viz. by what warrant and qu• jure, the Classicall Presbyterie among us, made up out of many neighbouring congregations, should be the ordinary Court of Ecclesiasticall Jurisdicti∣on, at least in all matters of highest impor∣tance, which doe concerne either all or any of those congregations.
For resolution hereof we must understand Page 137 1. That causes common to many congrega∣tions, ought not to be judged by any one of them, but by the greater Presbytery com∣mon to them all. 2. It is to bee supposed that particular congregations (at least the farre greatest part of them) have not in their pro∣per Elderships so many men of sufficient abi∣lities, as are requisite in judging and deter∣mining the cases of the examination of Mi∣nisters, of ordination, deposition, excommu∣nication, and the like. 3. When one appea∣leth from a particular Eldership, out of per∣swasion that hee is wronged by the sentence thereof, or when that Eldership finding its owne insufficiency for determining some difficult causes, resolveth to referre the same into a higher Court: reason would that there should be an ordinary Court of a Classicall Presbytery to receive such appellations or references. 4. Congregations which lye neare together, ought all as one to keep unity and conformity in Church policy and go∣vernment, neither ought one of them be per∣mitted to doe an injury, or to give an offence unto another: and for these ends, it is most necessary that they be governed by one com∣mon Presbytery. 5. There may be a competi∣tion or a controversie not only betwixt one congregation and another, but in the same Page 138 congregation betwixt the one halfe and the other; yea, the Eldership it selfe of that con∣gregation, may be, (and sometimes is) divi∣ded in it selfe. And how shall things of this kinde bee determined, but by the common Presbytery? 6. But (which is caput rei) these our Classicall Presbyteries have a certaine warrant from the paterne of the Apostolicall Churches: For proofe whereof, it shall bee made to appeare, 1. That in those Cities, (at least in many of them) where Christi∣an religion was planted by the Apostles, there were a great number of Christians, then ei∣ther did, or conveniently could meet toge∣ther into one place for the worship of God. 2. that in those Cities there was a plurality not onely of ruling Elders, but of the Mini∣sters of the word. 3. That notwithstanding hereof, the whole number of Christians within the Citie, was one Church. 4. That the whole number, and severall companies of Christians within one Citie, were all gover∣ned by one common Presbytery. The se∣cond of these doth follow upon the first, and the fourth upon the third.
The first proposition may bee made good by induction of particulars; and first, it is more then evident of Ierusalem, where wee finde unto 120 Disciples, Act. 1.15. added Page 139 8000. by Peters two Sermons, Act. 2.41. and 4.4. Besides whom, there were yet more multitudes added. Act. 5.14. And after that also, wee read of a further multiplication of the Disciples, Act. 6.1. by occasion whereof the seaven Deacons were chosen and ordai∣ned: which maketh some to conjecture, that there were seven congregations, a Deacon for every one. Certainly there were rather more then fewer, though wee cannot deter∣mine how many. It is written of Samaria, that the people with one accord gave heed unto Philip, Act. 8.6. even all of them both men and women, from the least to the grea∣test, who had before given heed to Simon: of these all it is said, that they beleeved Philip, and were baptised, vers. 10.12. which made the Apostles that were at Ierusalem▪ when they heard that the great City Samaria had received the word of God, to send unto them Peter and Iohn, the harvest being so great, that Philip was not sufficient for it, v. 14. Of Ioppa it is said,* that many beleeved in the Lord. Of Ant•och w• read, that a great number be∣leeved, and turned to the Lord, Act. 11.21. Of Iconium that a great multitude both of the Jewes, and also of the Greekes, beleeved, Act. 14.1 Of Lidda, that all who dwelt there∣in, turned to the Lord, Act. 9.35. Of Ber•a,Page 140 that many of them beleeved: also of the ho∣nourable women, and the men not a few, Act. 17.12. Of Corinth the Lord saith, I have much people in this Citie, Act. 18.10▪ O•E∣phesus wee finde, that •eare fell on all the Jewes and Greekes which dwelt there, and many beleeved; yea, many of the Magici∣ans themselves, whose bookes that were bur∣ned, amou•t•d to fif•y thousand peeces of sil∣ver, so mightily grew the Word of God and prevailed, Act. 18.104.22.168.20. Unto the multitude of Christians in those Cities, let us adde another consideration, viz. that they had no Temples (as now wee have) but pri∣vate places •or their holy Assemblies, such as the house of Mary, Act. 12.12. the Schoole of Tyrannus, Act 19.9. an upper chamber at Tr••s, Act. •0.8. Pauls lodging at Rome, Act. 28.•3. Neither doe I see any reason why the Church which was in the house of Aquila and Priscilla, Rom. 16.5. 1 Cor. 16.19. should not be understood to bee a congrega∣tion, as Erasmus readeth it, that is, such a-number of Christians as met together in their house. So wee read of the Church in the house of Nymphas, Col. 4.15. And of the Church 〈…〉 house of Archippus▪ Philem. v. 2. 〈…〉, i• is certaine, that Christians met together, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, house by house, Doma∣tius,Page 141 Act. 2.46. both these considerations, viz. the multitude of Christians in one Citie, and their assembling together for worship in pri∣vate houses, have also place in the next ages after the Apostles.* Let Eusebius speak for them both. Who can describe, saith hee, those innu∣merable heaps & flocking multitudes, through∣out all Cities and famous Assemblies, frequen∣ting the places ded•c•ted to prayer? Thereaf∣ter he proceedeth to shew how in aftertimes by the favour of Emperours, Christians had throughout all Cities, ample Churches built for them, they not being contented with the old Or•toria, which were but private houses. Now these two, the multitude of Christians, and the want of Temples, shall abundantly give light to my first proposition.
But it may bee objected to the contrary, that all the Disciples at Ierusalem did meet together 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, into one place, Act. 2.44. And the same is said of the Church of Co∣rinth, 1 Cor. 11.20. Ans. The disciples at Ieru∣salem,* being at that time above 3000. it can∣not be cōceived how any private house could cotain them. Beside, it is said, that they brake bread that is, did celebrate the Lords Sup∣per from house to house. Therefore many good interpreters understand by 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that all the Disciples were linked together in∣to Page 142 one by amity and love, an evidence where∣of is given in the next words, and had all things common. To the other place wee an∣swer: 1. That Epistle, whether it were writ∣ten from Philippi, or from Ephesus, was un∣doubtedly written very lately after the plan∣tation of the Gospel in Corinth, while as that Church was yet in her infancie. And if it should bee granted, that at that time the whole Church of Corinth might and did meet together into one place, this proveth not that it was so afterward: for the Churches increa∣sed in number daily, Act. 16.5. But, 2. the place of the Apostle proveth not that which is alledged: for his words may be understood in sensu distributivo. It was no solecisme for one that was writing to divers congregations, to say, When yee come together into one place, meaning distributively of every congrega∣tion, not collectively of them all together.
My second proposition concerning the plurality of the Ministers of the Word in those great Cities, wherein the Apostles did erect Christian Churches, ariseth from these grounds, 1. The multiplicity of Christians. 2. The want of Temples, of which two I have already spoken. 3. The daily increase of the Churches to a greater number, Acts 16.5.4. There was need of preachers, not Page 143 only for those who were already converted in the City, but also for labouring to winne the unbelievers who were therein. These reasons may make us conclude that there were as many Pastors in one City as there were sacred meetings therein, and some more also for the respects foresaid. And what will you say if we finde examples of this plu∣rality of Pastors in Scripture? Of the Bishops or Pastors of the Church of Ephesus, it i• said, that Paul kneeled down, and praied with them all, and they all wept sore, Acts 20.36.37. compared with verse 28. Here is some good number imported. To the Angell of the Church of Smyrna, that is, to the Pastors thereof collectively taken, Christ saith, The Divell shall cast some of you into prison, Revel. 2.10. which (if not only yet) principally is spoken to the Pastors, though for the be∣nefit of that whole Church. This is more plaine of the Church of Thyatira, verse 24. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Vnto you I say, & to the rest in Thyatira: as if he would say, saith Pareus, Tibi •spicopo cum collegis & reliquo coetui dico. Paul writeth to the Bishop at Philippi, Phil. 1.1. and notwithstanding that there was al∣ready a certaine number of Bishops or Pa∣stors in that City, yet the Apostle thought it necessary to send unto them EpaphroditusPage 144 also, Phil. 2.25. being shortly thereafter to send unto them Timotheus, verse 19. yea to come himselfe, verse 24. so that there was no scarcity of labourers in that harvest. Epaphras and Archippus were Pastors to the Church at Colosse, and who besides we cannot tell, but Paul sent unto them also Tychicus, and Onesi∣mu•, Col. 4.7.9.
Now touching the third proposition, no man who understandeth, will imagine that the multitude of Christians within one of those great Cities was divided into as many parishes as there were meeting places for worship. It is a point of controversie, who did beginne the division of parishes; but whosoever it was, whether Evaristus, or Hi∣ginus, or Dionysius, certaine it is, that it was not so from the beginning, I meane in the daies of the Apostles, for then it was all one to say, in every City, or to say, in every Church. That which is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Tit. 1.5. is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 Acts 14.22. This is acknowledged by all Anti-prelaticall writers so farre as I know, and by the Prelaticall writers also.
The last proposition, as it hath not beene denyed by any, so it is sufficiently proved by the former, for that which made the multi∣tude of Christians within one City to be one Church, was their union under and their Page 145 subjection unto the same Church governe∣ment and governours. A multitude may bee one Church, though they doe not meete to∣gether into one place for the worship of God: for example, it may fall forth, that a congre∣gation cannot meet together into one, but into divers places, and this may continue so for some yeares together, either by reason of persecution, or by meanes of the plague, or because they have not such a large parish-Church as may containe them all, so that a part of them must meete in some other place: but a multitude cannot be one Church, unlesse they communicate in the same Church government, and under the same Governours, (by one Church I meane one Ecclesiasticall Republike;) even as the like union under civill government and gover∣nours maketh one corporation: when the Apostle speaketh to all the Bishops of the Church of Ephesus,* hee exhorteth them all to take heed to all the flocke, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, over which the holy Ghost had made them overseers, so that the whole was go∣verned by the common counsell and advice of the Elders, as Hierome speaketh: for the same reason we say not the Churches, but the Church of Amsterdam, because all the Pastors and Elders have the charge▪ and Page 146 governement of the whole.
From all which hath beene said, I inferre this Corollary, That in the times of the Apo∣stles, the Presbytery which was the ordinary Court of Iurisdiction, which did ordaine, depose, excommunicate, &c. did consist of so many Pa∣stors and Elders, as could with conveniency meete ordinarily together, which is a paterne and warrant for our Classicall Presbyteries. I confesse there might be in some townes no greater number of Christians then did meet together in one place, notwithstanding whereof the Pastor or Pastors and Elders of that congregation, might and did manage the government of the same, and exercise ju∣risdiction therein. I confesse also that in those Cities wherein there was a greater number of Christians then could meet together into one place for the worship of God, the Pres∣bytery did consist of the Pastors and Elders within such a City: for it cannot be proved that there were at that time any Christian congregations in Landward Villages (the persecution forcing Christians to choose the shelter of Cities, for which reason many are of opinion that the Infidells in those daies were called Pagani, because they alone dwelt in Pagis) and if there had beene any such adjacent to Cities, we must thinke the Page 147 same should have beene subject to the com∣mon Presbytery, their owne Pastors and Elders being a part thereof. Howsoever it cannot be called in question that the Presby∣tery in the Apostolicall Churches, was made up of as many as could conveniently meete together, for managing the ordinary matters of Jurisdiction and Church-government. The Pastors and Elders of divers Cities could not conveniently have such ordinary meetings, especially in the time of persecuti∣on; only the Pastors and Elders within one City had such conveniency. And so to con∣clude, we doe not forsake, but follow the paterne, when we joyne together a number of Pastors and Elders out of the congregati∣ons in a convenient circuit, to make up a common Presbytery, which hath power and authority to governe those congregations; for if the Presbytery which we find in those Cities wherein the Apostles planted Chur∣ches, bee a sure paterne for our Classicall Presbyteries (as wee have proved it to bee) then it followeth undeniably that the autho∣rity of Church-government, of excommuni∣cation, ordination, &c. which did belong to that Primitive Presbytery, doth also be∣long to those our Classicall or greater Pres∣byteries.
CHAP. IV. Of the authority of Synods Provinciall and Nationall.
TOuching Synods, I shall first shew what their power is, and thereafter give arguments for the same. The power of Jurisdiction which wee ascribe un∣to Synods, is the same in nature and kinde with that which belongeth to Presbyteries, but with this difference, that Presbyteries doe exercise it in an ordinary way, and in matters proper to the congregations within their circuit. Synods doe exercise this pow∣er in matters which are common to a whole province, or nation; or if in matters proper to the bounds of one Presbytery, it is in an extraordinary way; that is to say, when ei∣ther Presbytery hath erred in the managing of their owne matters, or when such things are transferred to the Synod from the Pres∣bytery, whether it be by appellation or by reference.
The power of Jurisdiction, whereof I speake is threefold, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. So it is distinguished by our writers, Page 149 and all these three doe in manner foresaid be∣long unto Synods. In respect of Articles of faith or worship, a Synod is Iudex or Testis: In respect of externall order and policie in circumstances, a contriver of a Canon, or 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 In respect of heresie, schisme, obstinacie, contempt and scandall, Vindex: not by any externall coactive power (which is peculiar to the Magistrate) but by spirituall censures.
The dogmaticke power of a Synod, is not a power to make new Articles of faith, nor new duties and parts of divine worship, but a power to apply and interpret those Articles of faith, and duties of worship which God hath set before us in his written Word, and to declare the same to be inconsistent with emergent heresies and errours. To this pur∣pose it is that the Apostle calleth the Church the pillar and ground of truth,*〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, not 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which may be expounded ei∣ther in sensu forensi, the Church is the pub∣licke witnesse, notifier and keeper of truth; even as in Courts and places of judgement, there are pillars to which the Edicts of Ma∣gistrates are affixed, that people may have no∣tice thereof: or in sensu architectonico▪ as the Church by her faith is built upon Christ, or (wch is all one) upon the doctrine and truth of Page 150 Christ, contained in the writings of the Pro∣phets and Apostles, and leaneth thereto: so by her Ministery she upholdeth, under-pro∣peth, and conserveth this same truth, lest, as the Prophet speaketh, Truth fall in the streets, & perish among men. Truth standeth fast in the Church, and is kept firme, while it is profes∣sed, preached, propugned and maintained a∣gainst all contrary errour and heresie. In the same sense saith the Apostle, that unto the Jewish Church were committed the Oracles of God,* by them to be kept, interpreted, propa∣gated, &c.
By the Diatakticke power a Synod may institute, restore, or change, according to the condition and exigence of the Church, the externall circumstances in the worship of God, and Ecclesiasticall discipline: I meane those circumstances which are common both to civill and sacred Societies, the conve∣niencie whereof is determinable by the light of Nature, alwayes observing the generall rules of the Word, which commandeth that all bee done to the glory of God, that all bee done to edifying, that all bee done in order and decencie, that we give none offence, that wee support the weake, that we give no place to the enemies of the truth, nor symbolize with Idolaters, &c. Now for avoiding dis∣order Page 151 and disconformity in a Nation profes∣sing one Religion, it is fit that Nationall Sy∣nods give certaine directions and rules even concerning these rites and circumstances, not having therein an Arbitrary or Autocratorke power, but being alwayes tied to follow the rules foresaid.
The Criticke power of a Synod, is not a Lordly imperious dominiering over the flocke of Christ, which is not to bee ruled with force and cruelty; but it is the power of spirituall censures, as excommunication, deposition, and the like, most necessary for the repressing of heresie, errour, obstinacie in wickednesse, and scandals, otherwise in∣corrigible. Without this power, schismes and offences could not bee cured, but should the more increase; whileas liberty is left to heretickes, schismatickes, and obstinate per∣sons, without any censure to pester and di∣sturb a whole Nation, without any regard to the constitutions of a Nationall Synod.
But may one say, if the Decrees of a Synod concerning matters of Faith or Worship, may and ought to bee examined by the sure rule of the word of God, and onely to be re∣ceived when they doe agree therewith; and if also the constitutions of a Synod in exter∣nall circumstances, doe not binde, except ex Page 152 aquo & bono, and propter justas mandandi causas: or, as Divines speak, in casu scanda∣li & contemptus, and not for the meere will or authority of a Synod; and if therefore all Christians are by the private judgement of Christian discretion, following the light of Gods Word and Spirit, to try and examine all decrees and constitutions of any Synod whatsoever, to know whether they may law∣fully receive the same, as our Divines main∣taine and prove against Papists. If these things be so, it may seeme contrary to Chri∣stian liberty, and to the Doctrine of Prote∣stant Writers, that Synods should exercise the foresaid Criticke power, or inflict any spirituall censures, at least upon those who professe, that after examination of the de∣crees or constitutions, they cannot bee per∣swaded of the lawfulnesse of the same.
Ans. 1. Our Divines by those their tenents, meane not to open a doore to disobedience and contempt of the ordinances of a Synod, but onely to oppugne the Popish errour con∣cerning the binding power of Ecclesiasticall lawes, by the sole will and naked authority of the law-maker, & that Christian people ought not to seek any further reason or motive of o∣bedience. 2. A Synod must ever put a dif∣ference betwixt those who out of a reall Page 153 scruple of conscience, doe in a modest and peaceable way, refuse obedience to their or∣dinances, still using the meanes of their bet∣er information, & those who contemptuously or factiously disobey the same, labouring with all their might to strengthen themselves in their errour, and to perswade others to be of their minde. 3. This objection doth mi∣litate no lesse against Ecclesiasticall censures in a particular congregation, then in a Natio∣nall Synod. And they who doe at all ap∣prove of Church censures to be inflicted up∣on the contemptuous and obstinate, shall put in our mouthes an answer to objections of this kinde.
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 t•h•th them in a different way, because it is not a Civill▪ but an Ecclesiastic•ll 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 inferi•ur 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.
CHAP. VI. The second Argument, taken from Christs Institution.
AS wee have Nature, so have wee Christs Institution for us, and this shall appeare two wayes. First, the fidelity of Christ, both in his Propheticall & in his Regall or Nomotheticall power, was such, that he hath sufficiently provided for all the necessities and exigences whatsoever of his Churches, to the end of the world. Therefore the Apostle calleth him as faith∣full in all the house of God,* as ever Moses was, who delivered lawes serving for the go∣vernment of the Church of the Jewes in all cases. Whence we collect, that the autho∣rity of Classicall Presbyteries over the El∣derships of particular congregations, and the authority of Synods over both, must needs have a warrant from Christs owne Institu∣tion, Page 158 because without this authority, there are very important necessities of the Chur∣ches, that cannot be helped. For example, in most congregations, especially in Dorps and Villages, when a Pastor is to be ordained, the particular Eldership within the congregation can neither examine and try his gifts, and his, soundnesse in the faith, (which examination must necessarily precede his ordination;) nor can they discover him, in case he be a subtile and learned hereticke; nor yet can they pray in t•e congregation over him which is to be ordained, and give him publicke exhortation and admonition of his duty, God having neither given to the Elders of every congre∣gation, nor yet required of them such abili∣ties. What shall be done in this case?*Ains∣worth would have the worke stayed, and the Church to want a Minister, till she be able to doe her workes, and her duties which are proper to her. Alas! bad Christ no greater care of the Churches then so? shall they be destitute of a Pastor, ever till they be able to try his gifts and soundnesse, and to exhort and pray at his ordination? and how shall they ever attaine to such abilities except they bee taught? and how shall they bee taught without a Teacher? Now the power and authority of Classicall Presbyteries, to o•d•in Page 159 Pastors in particular congregations, shall cut off all this deduction of absurdities, and shall supply the Churches need. I may adde a∣nother instance concerning the Classicall Presbytery it selfe. What if the one halfe thereof turne to be hereticall, or it may bee the major part? They shall either have most voyces, or at least the halfe of the voyces for them, and there shall bee no remedy, unlesse the authoritative determination of a Synod be interposed.
Secondly, the will of Christ for Provin∣ciall and Nationall Assemblies to bee over Presbyteries, even as they are over the El∣derships of particular congregations, appear∣eth also in this. He hath given us in the new Testament, expresse warrant for Ecclesiasti∣call Courts and Assemblies in generall, that such there ought to be, for the right govern∣ment of the Church, Matth. 18.20. Where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them. Act. 15.6. And the Apostles and Elders came together for to consider of this matter. From these and the like places, it is plaine, that Christ willeth jurisdiction to bee exercised, and controver∣sies to bee determined by certaine Consisto∣ries and Assemblies. Of the exercise of ju∣risdiction is the first place, which I have cited Page 160 to bee understood, as the cohesion thereof with the purpose which went before, shew∣eth. Of determining questions of faith, and enacting lawes concerning things in their owne nature indifferent, is the other place to be understood, as wee shall heare af∣terward. So then, wee truely affirme of Ec∣clesiasticall Assemblies in generall, that po∣wer is commited by Christ unto them, to exercise jurisdiction, to determine questions of faith, and to make constitutions about things indifferent, in the case of scandall. Now the severall sorts of these Assemblies are not particularly determined in Scripture, but left to be particularly determined by the Church, conforme to the light of Nature, and to the generall rules of the Word of God. And the particular kindes of Assem∣blies appointed by the Church, conforme to the light and rules foresaid, doe fall within the compasse of those precepts which are Divine-Ecclesiastica: they are mixed (though not meere) divine ordinances. Even as the Scripture warranteth times of fasting, and times of thankesgiving, shewing also the cau∣ses and occasions of the same, and the right manner of performance; but leaveth the par∣ticular dayes of fasting and thankesgiving to be determined by the Church, according to Page 161 the rules of the Word. In like manner, the Scripture commendeth the renewing of the covenant of God in a Nation that hath bro∣ken it, but leaveth the day and place for such an action to be determined by the Church, according to the rules foresaid. Now if the Church following the generall warrant and rules of the Word, command to fast such a day, to give thankes such a day, to renew the covenant of God such a day; these things are divine ordinances mixedly, though not meerely; and he who disobeyeth, disobeyeth the commandement of God. The like may be said of catechising, and of celebrating the Lords Supper, (which are not things occa∣sionall, as the former, but ordinary in the Church:) they are commended by the war∣rants of Scripture, but the particular times and seasons not determined. The like wee say of the order to be kept in baptisme, and in excommunication, which is not determi∣ned in the Word, though the things them∣selves be. The removing of scandals, by putting wicked persons to publike shame, and open confession of their faults in the Church, hath certaine warrant from Scrip∣ture, yet the degrees of that publike shame and punishment, are left to be determined by the Church, according to the quality Page 162 of the scandall, and the rules of the Word. Now the Church appointeth some scanda∣lous persons to be put to a greater shame, some to a lesser, some to •ee o•e Sabbath in the place of publike repentance, some three, some nine, some twenty five, &c. And if the of∣fender refuse that degree of publike shame which the Church, following the rules fore∣said appointeth for him, hee may be truely said, to refuse the removing and taking away of the scandall, which the Word of God in∣joyneth him, and so to disobey not the Church only, but God also. Just so the Scripture having commended unto us the governing of the Church, the making of Lawes, the exercise of Jurisdiction, the de∣ciding of controversies, by Consistories and Assemblies Ecclesiasticall, having also shew∣ed the necessity of the same, their power, their rule of proceeding and judging, who should sit and voice in the same, &c. But leaving the particular kindes, degrees, times, bounds, and places of the same to be resol∣ved upon by the Church, according to the light of naturall reason, and generall rules of the Word: The Church for her part, fol∣lowing the generall warrant and rules fore∣said, together with the light of nature, hath determined and appointed Assemblies, Page 163 Provinciall and Nationall, and to exercise respectively that power which the Word giveth to Assemblies in generall. The case thus standing, we may boldly maintaine that those particular kinds and degrees of Eccle∣siasticall Assemblies, are Gods owne ordi∣nances mixedly, though not meerely.
But what can bee the reason, may some man say, why the Scripture hath not it selfe determined these kinds of Assemblies parti∣cularly. I answer, three reasons may be gi∣ven for it: 1. because it was not necessary, the generall rules of the word together with natures light which directeth Common-wealths in things of the same kind, being suf∣ficient to direct the Church therin. 2. As se∣sons and times for the meeting of Assem∣blies, so the just bounds thereof in so many different places of the world, are things of that kinde which were not determinable in Scripture, unlesse the world had beene filled with volumes thereof; for, Individua sunt Infinita. 3. Because this constitution of Sy∣nods Provinciall and Nationall, is not uni∣versall for all times and places: for example, there may be in a remote Island 10. or 12. Christian congregations, which beside their particular Elderships have a common Pres∣bytery, but are not capable of Synods either Page 164 Provinciall or Nationall. Againe, let there bee an Island containing forty or fifty Chri∣stian congregations, there shall be therein, beside Presbyteries, one kinde of a Synod, but not two kindes. Besides, the reformed congregations within a great Nation, may happly be either so few, or so dispersed and distant, or so persecuted, that they can neither have Provinciall nor Nationall Assemblies.
CHAP. VII. The third Argument, taken from the Iewish Church.
IN the third place we take an Argument from the example of the Jewish Church; for as in their Common-wealth there was a subordination of civill Courts, every City having its proper Court, which did consist of seven Magistrates, if we beleeve Iosephus: the Thalmudicall tradition maketh two Courts to have beene in each City, the lesser of the Triumvirat, and the greater of twenty three Judges. Beside these, they had their supreame Consistory, the civill Sanedrim, which governed the whole Nation, and had Page 165 authority over the inferiour Courts. So was there also a subordination of Ecclesiasticall Courts among them: they had a Consistory in every Synagogue, for their Synagogues were appointed not only for prayer and prai∣sing of God, and for the reading and expoun∣ding of the Scriptures, but also for publike correction of offences, Acts 26.11. They had besides, a supreame Ecclesiastical Court, whereunto the whole nation, and all the Synagogicall Consistories were subject. This Court having decayed, was restored by Ichoshaphat, 2 Chron. 19.8. and it had the name of Sanedrim, common to it with the supream civill Court. From this Court did the reformation of that Nationall Church proceed, Nehem. 6.13. On the second day were gathered together the chiefe of the fathers of all the people, the Priests and the Levits, un∣to Ezra the Scribe, even to understand the words of the Law. And they found written in the Law, &c. Whether there was yet another Ecclesiasticall Court, in the midle betwixt the Synagogue and the Sanedrim, called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a Presbytery, Luke 22.66. Acts 22.5. and made up possibly out of the particular Synagogues within the Cities, I leave it to learned men to judge: howsoever, it is plaine from Scripture, that there was at least a two∣fold Page 166 Ecclesiasticall Court among the Jewes the Synagogue and the Sanedrim, the latter having authority above the former.
Sutlivius denyeth both these, and so would have us believe that the Jewish Church had no Ecc•esiasticall Court at all.* As for the Sy∣nagogues, he saith, they treated of things civill, and inflicted civill punishments, and a civill excommunication. That they inflicted civill punishment, he proveth from Mat. 10. and 23. and Luke 21. where Christ foretel∣leth that his Disciples should bee beaten in the Synagogues. That their excomunication was civill, he proveth by this reason, that Christ and his Disciples when they were cast out of the Synagogues, had notwithstanding a free entry into the Temple, and accesse to the sacrifices. Answ. This is a grosse mistake; for 1. the civill Court was in the gate of the City, not in the Synagogue. 2. He who pre∣sided in the Synagogue was called the chiefe Ruler of the Synagogue, Acts 18.8.17. the rest who sate and voiced therein, were called the Rulers of the Synagogue, Acts 13.15. They who sate in the civill Court had no such names, but were called Judges. 3. Our Saviour distinguisheth the Synagogicall Courts from the civill Courts of judgement in Cities, calling the one Councells, the o∣ther Page 167 Synagogues, Matth. 10.17. 4. The bea∣ting and scourging in the Synagogues was an errour and abuse of the later times, the cor∣rective power of those Consistories being properly spirituall, and ending in excommu∣nication, Jo. 16.2. Isai. 66.5. the liberty of which spirituall censures the Romans did permit to the Jewes, together with the li∣berty of their religion, after they had taken away their civill Jurisdiction. 5. Civill ex∣communication is an unknowne word, and his reason for it is no lesse unknowne; for where he hath read that Christ or any of his Disciples were excommunicate out of the Synagogues, and yet had free accesse to the Temple, I cannot understand, if it be not in the Gospell of Nicodemus. I read, Luke 4.28.28. that Christ was in a great tumult cast out of the City of Nazareth▪ but this I hope no man will call excommunication. The blinde man, Joh. 9.34. was indeed excom∣municated out of the Synagogue, but wee no where read that hee was thereafter found in the Temple: we read of Christs walking in Solomons porch, Jo. 10.23. but that the blinde man was then with him, it can never be proved, and if it could, it should not im∣port any permission or leave given to excom∣municate persons to enter into the Temple, Page 168 but that some were bold to take this liberty. 6. The casting out of the Synagogue cannot be called civil excommunication, because the communion and fellowship of the Jewes in the Synagogue was not civill, but sacred: they met for the worship of God, and not for civill affaires. 7. If by civill excommunica∣tion he meane banishment, or casting out of the City (for I conceive not what other thing this strange word can import) then how doth he suppose that they had still free accesse to the Temple, who were so excommunicated, for this importeth that they were still in the City.
Wee have now evinced an Inferiour Ec∣clesiasticall Court among the Jewes. Come we next to the supreame Court. That there was an high Ecclesiasticall Sanedrim, di∣stinct from the Civill Sanedrim, is observed by Pelargus on Deut. 17. and S•pingius ad bonam fidem Sibrandi. pag. 261. & seq. Be∣side many others cited before, part. 1. chap. 11. And that it was so, wee prove from three places of the old Testament, to passe other places, from which certaine collections may be had to the same purpose.
First, we finde Deut. 17. a distinction of two supreame Judicatories, to bee set in the place which the Lord should choose to put Page 169 his name there, the one of the Priests & Levi•s, the other of the Judges: & unto these two su∣preame Courts, the Lord appointed all mat∣ters which were too hard for the inferiour Judges in the Cities of the Land, to bee brought and determined by their authority, and the sentence of the Priests or of the Judges to be obeyed both by the parties and by the inferiour Judges, under pain of death, v. 22.214.171.124.12.* To this Sutlivius answereth, that there is only one Sanedrim in that place, which was civill, as appeareth by their jud∣ging of the causes of blood, and their recei∣ving of appellations from the civill Judges mentioned in the preceding Chapter. As for the Judge which is spoken of v. 9. and 12. he saith, we must understand that it was the high Priest. Ans. 1. The disjunctive Or doth distin∣guish the Judges from the Priests, verse 12. as Iunius and Ainsworth doe rightly note up∣on that place: The man that will doe presump∣tuously, and will not hearken unto the Priest (that standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God) or unto the Iudge. Here a distinction be∣twixt the Court of the Priests and the Court of the Judges, which Lyranus also acknow∣ledgeth. 2. The Chaldee readeth Iudges in the plurall. By the Judge, saith Ainsworth, is understood the high Councell or Senat of Page 170 Judges, even as they who are called Priests, verse 9. are called the Priest, verse 12. and 1 Chron. 4.42. many Captaines are in the Hebrew called an head. 3. The high Priest cannot be understood to bee the Judge there spoken of, both because there were many Judges, as hath beene said, and because wee finde not in Scripture that ever the high Priest was called by the name of the Judge. 4. Whereas hee objecteth that the causes of blood, and other civill causes were judged in this Sanedrim. Wee answer, there were two severall things in those civill causes,* the Ius and the factum. The Ius was judged in the Court of the Priests, because as B•lson teacheth, the civill Law of the Jewes was Gods judiciall Law,* and it was to be sought at the Priests mouth. But the fact being meerely civill, was judged by the civill Court. Sutl•vius objecteth, that many incon∣veniences shall follow this distinction. 1. Judges are hereby made ignorant of the Law. 2. That two Courts of judgement are appointed in one sentence. 3. That a Judge (the Priest) may give out a sentence which he cannot execute. 4. That the civill Judges doe in vaine inquire concerning the fact which was before certaine by the Law, nam ex facto jus oritur. 5. That the civill Page 171 Judges are dumbe Images, which must pronounce according to the sentence of o∣thers. To the 1. we say that our distinction doth not import that the Judges were igno∣rant of the Law, but that it pertained not to them to judge the meaning of the Law, when the same was controverted among the Infe∣feriour civill Judges: this pertained to the Court of the Priests. 2. It is no absurdity to expound a disjunctive sentence of two seve∣rall Courts. 3. He who answereth meerely, de jure, hath nothing to doe with execution of persons more then theory hath to doe with practice, or abstracts with concrets. 4. The fact can never be certaine by the sen∣tence, de jure. It is not the probation, but the supposition of the fact whereupon the expo∣sition of the sence of the Law is grounded. 5. The cognition of the fact, not of the law, do•h belong to an Inquest in Scotland, they are Iudic•s fact•, non Iuris. Yet no dumbe Im••es I suppose. 6. Hee hath followed the Popish Interpreters, in making the Judge to be the High Priest forso they expound it for the Popes cause; yet they themselves ac∣knowledge the distinction of Ius and factum. See Corn. a lapide. in Deut. 17.7. If error had not blinded this mans eyes with whom I deale, I should believe hee had beene Page 172 flumbring when these things fell from his pen.
But to proceed, as these two Sanedrims were instituted in the Law of Moses, so were they after decay or desuetude restored by Iehoshaphat,*, 2 Chro. 19.8. Sutlivius answereth, that wee have here only one Sanedrim which judged both the Lords matters, and the Kings matters, and that it was not an Ecclesiasticall Court, because it judged causes of blood, and other civill causes wherein appellation was made from the Judges of the Cities. By the Lords matters, hee saith, are meant criminall and civill causes, which were to be judged ac∣cording to the Law of the Lord; and by the Kings matters are meant, his patrimony and domesticke affaires. Answer 1. The Text di∣stinguisheth two Courts, one which medled with the Lords matters, whose president was Amariah, the chiefe Priest: another which medled with the Kings matters, whose pre∣sident was Zebadiah. This is so plaine, that Bonfierius the Jesuit on Deut. 17. though he maketh the Priests to have beene the Judges, yet acknowledgeth two distinct Courts, 2 Chron. 19. 2. The words vers. 8. must be understood respectively,* as Didoclavius hath observed, which we explaine thus, Moreover in Ierusalem did Iehshoaphat set of the Levits, Page 173 and of the Priests, and of the chiefe of the Fa∣thers of Israel, for the judgement of the Lord, (that is for causes Ecclesiasticall) and (repeat, of the Levits, of the Priests, and of the chiefe of the Fathers of Israel) for controversies (about civill matters, saith Piscator.) So that some of them were appointed to judge the one, and some of them to judge the other, which pro∣veth not either that the Courts were one, or that the same men sate in both, but only that some of the Priests and some of the Fathers of Israel were in both. 3. The Lords matters Lavater and Piscator expound to be matters Ecclesiasticall, the Kings matters to be things civill; and this exposition comprehendeth all things which did fall within the power of those Courts. But Sutlivius glosse doth not so, for there were sundry things to be judged which were neither the Kings domesticke affaires, not yet causes criminall or civill, such as were questions about vowes, questions about the meaning of the Law, and judging betwixt the holy and the prophane, betwixt that which was cleane and that which was uncleane. These and such like Ecclesiasticall causes he leaveth out, and they are indeed left out of the power of the civill Sanedrim, and reserved to the other, for in such contro∣versies the Priests were to stand in judge∣ment, Page 174 Ezech. 44.23.24. Lastly, it is not to be thought, that the high Sanedrim should neede to be troubled with the Kings dome∣sticke affaires, farre lesse that this should be made the one halfe of their commission.
Now as wee have the institution of these two supreame Courts, Deuter. 17. and the restitution of them both, 2 Chron. 19. so have we an example of both, Jerem. 26. For first, Ieremiah was condemned, as worthy of death, because hee had spoken against the Temple and the holy place, verse 8.11. and herein saith, Oecolampadius on that place, hee was a Type of Christ, against whom it was pronounced in the Councell of the chiefe Priests and Elders,*He is guilty of death. So did this Ecclesiasticall Court conclude ag•i•st Ieremy, He is worthy of Death: yet the c•n•rary was concluded in the civill Sane∣drim, verse 10.16. This man, say they, is not worthy to dye, for he hath spoken to us in the Name of the Lord our God. As much as to say, you Priests have given sentence de jure a∣gainst Ieremiah, but we finde he is not guilty of the fact whereof he is accused, for he hath spoken nothing but the truth which the Lord sent him to speake; therefore as you pronounced him worthy of death, upon supposition of the fact, wee now pronounce Page 175 that he is not worthy of death, because wee finde him blamelesse of the fact. Sutclivius denieth that the Priests were Iudices Iuris,* and the Princes Iudices facti; only the Prin∣ces did against the will of the Priests set Ieremiah free, whom they had destinated to death: But say I, he must either deny that Ieremiah was judged in two severall Courts, or not, if he deny it, the Text is against him: for that hee was judged in the Court of the Princes, it is plaine from verse 10.16. and that hee was judged in the Court of the Priests, is plaine also from verse 8.9. Where we finde the Priests comming together, nei∣ther to reason with Ieremiah (for they had no such purpose as to give him leave to speake for himselfe) nor yet to accuse him; for that they do before the Princes, v. 11. Therefore it was to give sentence for their part against him, which they did; but if he grant that sen∣tence was given in two Courts, I would gladly know what difference could bee made betwixt the one sentence and the other, ex∣cept that difference, de jure, and de facto, es∣pecially the same suting the Text so well as hath beene said.
Of the vestigies of those two supreame Courts still remaining in some sort distinct, in the daies of Christ, I have spoken before. Page 176 And now to proceed.* Wee have proved the Antecedent of this our present Argument, concerning distinct Ecclesiasticall Courts among the Jewes, and the subjection of the lower unto the higher of the Synagogue unto the Sanedrim.
*But we have yet more to doe, for the con∣sequence of our Argument is also denyed both by the Prelaticall faction, and by others (whom wee are more sorry to contradict) holding that reasons fetcht from the Jewish Church,* doe better fat the Prelats, then the Consistorians; howsoever now to fetch the forme of Government for the Church, from the Church of the Jewes, were, say they, to revive the old Testament. To me it seemeth strange, that both the one side, and the o∣ther, doe when they please, reason from the formes of the Jewish Church, and yet they will not permit us to reason in like manner. The former goe about to prove the Prelacy by the high Priesthood, and the lawfull use of Organs in the Church, from the like in the Temple of Solomon. The latter doe argue, that a Congregation hath right not only to elect Ministers,* but to ordaine them, and lay hands on them, because the people of Israel laid hands on the Levits. That the maintainance of the Ministers of the Gospell, Page 177 ought to bee voluntary, because under the Law, God would not have the Priests and Levits, to have any part or inheritance in the Land of Canaan, but to be sustained by the Offerings and Altars of the Lord. That the power of excommunication is in the body of the Church, because the Lord laid upon all Israel the duty of removing the uncleane, and of putting away leaven out of their houses at the feast of Passover. Is it right dealing now, to forbid us to reason from the forme of the Jewes. I will not use any further ex∣postulation, but let the Reader judge. The truth is this, even as that which is in a childe, as he is a childe, agreeth not to a man, yet that which is in a childe, as he is animal rati∣onale, agreeth also to a man: so what wee finde in the Jewish Church, as it was Jewish, or in infancy and under the pedagogy of the Law, agreeth not indeed to the Christian Church. But whatsoever the Jewish Church had, as it was a politicall Church, or Eccle∣siasticall Republike (of which sort of things, the diversity and subordination of Ecclesia∣sticall Courts was one) doth belong by the same reason to the Christian Church. I say further, though the Common-wealth and civill Policy of the Jewes, be not in all points a patterne to our civill Policy, yet I am sure Page 178 it is no errour to imitate the civill policy of the Jewes, in such things, as they had, not for any speciall reason proper to them, but are common to all well constituted Common-wealths, and so wee may argue from their Common-wealth, that it is a good policy to have divers civill Courts, and the higher to receive appellations from the Inferiour, as it was among them. Shall wee not by the very like reason fetch from their Ecclesiasti∣call Republike, diversity of Spirituall Courts, and the supreame to receive appel∣lations from the Inferiour, because so was the constitution of the Jewish Church, and that under the common respect and ac∣count of a politicall Church, and not for any speciall reason, which doth not concerne us.
CHAP. VIII. The fourth Argument, taken from Acts 15.
THE example of the Apostolicall Churches, Acts 15. maketh for us. The Churches of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, being troubled with the question Page 179 about the Jewish Ceremonies, the matter was debated and disputed at Antioch, the chiefe towne of Coelosyria, where Paul and Barnabas were for the time. It is very pro∣bable, that some out of the other Churches in that Province, as also out of the Churches of Cilicia, were present in that meeting and conference, for they were troubled with the very same question, no lesse then the Church of Antioch. Howsoever the matter could not be agreed upon in that meeting, but a refe∣rence thereof, was made to a more generall assembly at Hierusalem, and for that effect Paul and Barnabas, and others with them, were sent thither. All this is cleare by com∣paring verse 2. with 23. Hereupon the Apo∣stles and Elders did synodically come toge∣ther at Hierusalem, and decided the question, giving forth decrees to be observed by the particular Churches, Acts 15.6.28. and 16.4. We will not dispute what sort of Synod this was, only that it was a Synod with authority over many particular Churches and Congre∣gations, and whereunto the meeting at An∣tioch (whether it was provinciall, or Presby∣teriall only) did referre the determination of the question about Jewish ceremonies.
It is answered by some. 1. That the reason of sending Paul and Barnabas to Hierusalem,Page 180 was to know whether these teachers who pressed the observation of the ceremoniall Law had any such commission from the A∣postles and Elders, as they pretended. 2. That there is here no Synod, nor assembly of the Commissioners of divers Churches, for there were no Commissioners from the rest of the Churches in Iudea, Galilee, and Samaria, mentioned Acts 9.31. nor from the Churches of the Gentiles mentioned Act. 14.23. neither were Paul and Barnabas, and the rest who went with them, Commissioners to represent the Church of Antioch, but mes∣sengers only to make narration of the case. 3. Not only the Apostles and Elders, but the whole Church at Hierusalem met together. 4. If the resolution which was given, be con∣sidered, as the judgement of the Church at Hierusalem, it was only her advice to her si∣ster Churches, if otherwise considered, it was a decree absolutely Apostolicall, and divine Scripture by infallible direction from the holy Ghost, and for that reason imposed up∣on all the Churches of the Gentiles, though they had no Commissioners there.
These answers had need to be stronger, be∣fore that so many Fathers, Councells, and Protestant Writers, who have understood the matter otherwise should all bee put in an error.
Page 181To the first wee reply, that the reason of sending Paul and Barnabas to Hierusalem, was not so much to know, whether these tea∣chers had commission from the Apostles and Elders, to presse the keeping of the Law of Moses, as to get a resolution of the question it selfe, verse 2. about this question. Now the question was not what commission the Apo∣stles had given to those teachers, but whether they should be circumcised, after the manner of Moses, verse 1.
To the second, we say, that if Paul and Barnabas, were messengers to make narration of the case, certainely they were more then sufficient messengers, and there was no need of others to be joyned in message with them, so that it appeareth the rest who were sent with them were Commissioners to represent the Churches which sent them. Neither is it credible, but that all the Churches of Syria and Cilicia, which were in the same case, with the Church of Antioch, did send their Commissioners also to Hierusalem, for other∣wise, how could the Apostles and Elders have so certaine and perfect intelligence of the case of those Churches, verse 23. Beside it had beene a great neglect in those Chur∣ches, if they had not sent some to Hierusalem, as the Church of Antioch did, for if it was Page 182 expedient which Antioch did, they ought no lesse to have done it, their case being the same. Moreover it may be collected from verse 3. that the other Churches through which Paul and Barnabas passed in their journey, did send some companions along with them, to joyne with them in their errand, and to give their consent in the meeting at Hierusalem, unto that which was to be concluded. This is the observation of Cajetan, Mentzerus, Calvin, Gualther, and other Interpreters upon that place.
Lastly, it is no way probable, that the Apostles and Elders at Hierusalem, together with those who were sent from the Churches of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, and the other Churches through which Paul and Barnabas did travell, would come together without acquainting the rest of the Churches of Ju∣dea, which were so neare at hand, and might so easily send their Commissioners to Hie∣rusalem.
To the third wee reply, that it cannot bee proved from the Text that the body of the Church of Hierusalem was present, but rather it appeareth from verse 6. that they were not present,* as hath been said before. And though it were granted that they were present, yet Master Robinson saith,* that they did no Page 183 more then consent to the decree.
To the last answer, it is containe that the conclusion of that meeting at Hierusalem, was not a naked counsell and advice, but a decree imposed with authority upon the Churches, Acts 15.28. and 16.4. and 21.25.* And whereas it is affirmed, that the decree was meerely Apostolicall, and that the Elders did no more then consent thereto, even as the brethren did, this is ma∣nifestly against the Text, for Acts 16.4. It is said of Paul and Silas as they went through the Cities they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the Apostles & Elders that were at Hierusalem. And Act. 21.25. all the Elders speaking to Paul, say, as touching the Gentiles which believe, wee have written and concluded that they observe no such thing. That this was spoken by al the Elders, is plain from v. 18.19.20. So then the Elders did de∣creee, ordaine, and conclude these things to bee imposed upon the Churches of the Gentiles,* and not the Apostles only. Now the Elders of the Church of Hierusalem, had Page 184 no authority to impose their decrees upon all the Churches of the Gentiles, with whom they had nothing to doe, as Mr. Robinson saith truely. Since therefore these things were imposed upon the Churches of the Gentiles, as the decrees ordained by the Apostles and Elders, at Hierusalem, this doth necessarily import that there were in that meeting, delegates and commissioners from the Churches of the Gentiles, which did represent the same.
CHAP. IX. The fifth Argument, taken from Geome∣tricall proportion.
AS is the proportion of 3. to 9. so is the proportiō of 9. to 27. of 21. to 81. &c. This rule of Giometricall proportion affoordeth us a fifth Argument for the point in hand. If we should grant the government of the Church to be popular, then by what proportion, one or two are subject to a whole congregation, by the same proportion is that congregation subject to a provinciall▪ or a nationall congregation. I meane, if all Page 185 the congregations in a province or a nation were assembled into one collective body (as all the males of the Jewes did assemble thrice in the yeare at Hierusalem, and as in the daies of the Judges,* the whole congregation of the children of Israel was assembled together in Mizpeh, as one man, from Dan even to Beersheba, foure hundred thousand men, to try the cause of the Levite, and to resolve what to doe there-anent, which meeting of the Nation, was ordered by Tribes, the Tribes by families, the families by persons) in that case any one particular congregation behoved to be subject to the generall congre∣gation, by the same reason whereby one man is subject to the particular congregation, whereof he is a member, because the whole is greater then a part, and the body more then a member. Now the same rule holdeth in the representatives of Churches, whether we compare them with the collectives, or among themselves. If wee compare the re∣presentatives with the collectives, then as one congregation is governed by the particular Eldership representing the •ame, by the like proportion are 14. or 16. congregations governed by a Classicall Presbytery repre∣senting them all: by the same proportion are all the congregations in a province subject Page 186 to a Provinciall Synod: by the same ought all the congregations in a nation to be sub∣ject to a nationall Assembly, all of them be∣ing either mediatly or immediatly represen∣ted in the same;* for as Parker saith well, many Churches are combined into one, in the very same manner, as many members are combined into one Church.
If we compare the representatives among themselves, then by what proportion, a par∣ticular Eldership representing only one con∣gregation, is lesse in power and authority, then a Classicall Presbytery which represen∣teth many congregations? by the same pro∣portion is a Classicall Presbytery lesse in power and authority then a Provinciall Sy∣nod, and it lesse in authority then a Nationall Synod. So that the authority of Presbyte∣ries whether Parochiall or Classicall being once granted, this shall by the rule of pro∣portion inferre the authority of Synods. I know that Synods are not ordinary Courts, as Presbyteries are; but this and other dif∣ferences betwixt them I passe: the argument holdeth for the point of authority, that Sy∣nods when they are, have authority over all the Churches in a Province or a nation, even as Presbyteries have over the congregations within their bounds.
CHAP. X. The sixth Argument, taken from ne∣cessity.
WEE have another reason to adde, and it is borrowed from lawlesse ne∣cessity, for without a subordination among Ecclesiasticall Courts, and the authority of the higher above the inferiour, it were utterly impossible to preserve unity, or to make an end of controversie in a Nation. A particular congregation might happily end questions and controversies betwixt the members thereof, and so keepe unity within it selfe (and not so neither, if the one halfe of the congregation be against the other) but how shall controversies betwixt severall congre∣gations be determined, if both of them bee independent? how shall plurality of religi∣ons be avoided? how shall an apostatizing congregation be amended?
It is answered: 1. If a particular congrega∣tion neglect their duty, or doe wrong to a∣nother, the civill sword may proceed against them to make them doe their duty. 2. A par∣ticular congregation ought in difficult cases Page 188 to consult with her sister Churches, for so much reason dictats, that in difficult cases, counsell should be taken of a greater number. 3. Sister Churches when they see a particular congregation doing amisse out of that relati∣on which they have to her, being all in the same body, under the same head, may and ought to admonish her, and in case of gene∣rall apostacy, they may withdraw that com∣munion from her, which they hold with the true Churches of Christ.
But these answers are not satisfactory. The first of them agreeth not to all times, for in times of persecution, the Church hath not the helpe of the civill sword: a persecuting Magi∣strate will bee glad to see either division or apostasie in a congregation; but so it is, that Christ hath povided a remedy, both for all the evills and diseases of his Church, and at all times. The Church (as was said before) is a Republike, and hath her lawes, Courts, and spirituall censures within her selfe, whe∣ther there be a Christian Magistrate, or not.
The second answer leaveth the rectifying of an erring congregation to the uncertainty of their owne discretion, in seeking counsell from a greater number. And moreover, if this be a dictate of reason to aske counsell of a greater number, when the counsell of a few Page 189 cannot resolve us, then reason being ever like it selfe, will dictate so much to a congregati∣on, that they ought to submit to the authority of a greater number, when their owne autho∣rity is not sufficient to end a controversie a∣mong them.
To the third answer wee say, that every private Christian may and ought to with∣draw himselfe from the fellowship and com∣munion, either of one man, or of a whole congregation, in the case of generall apo∣stasie. And shall an apostatizing congregation be suffered to runne to hell, rather then any other remedy should bee used, beside that (commonly ineffectuall) remedy which any private Christian may use? God forbid.
What I have said of congregations, I say also of Classicall Presbyteries. How shall sentence be given betwixt two Presbyteries at varience? How shall a divided Presbyte∣ry be re-united in it self? How shall an Hereti∣call Presbytery be reclaimed? How shall a negligent Presbytery be made to doe their duty? How shall a despised Presbytery have their wounded authority healed againe? In these and such like contingent cases, what re∣medy can bee had, beside the authority of Synods?
CHAP. XI. Objections made against the authority of Synods, answered.
THey who dislike the subordination of particular congregations unto higher Ecclesiasticall Courts, object against us,* our Saviours precept, Tell the Church. Wheresoever wee read in Scripture of a visible politicall Church, and not of the invisible Catholike Church, it is ever meant, say they, of a particular congregation, used to assemble in one place for the exercise of Gods publike worship; & when the Scripture spea∣keth of a whole Province or Nation, the plu∣rall number is used, as the Churches of Gala∣tia, the Churches of Macedonia, the Churches of Asia, &c. Wherefore our Saviour in those words did deliver the power of Ecclesiasti∣call Jurisdiction, neither to Classicall Pres∣byteries, nor to Synods, but to particular con∣gregations only.
Answ. 1. This place proveth indeed that particular Churches have their owne power of Jurisdiction, but not that they alone have it. 2. Yea, it proveth that they alone have it Page 191 not, for Christ hath a respect to the forme of the Jewes, as is evident by these words, Let him be unto thee as an Heathen or a Publican. Now we have proved that there was among the Jewes an high Ecclesiasticall Sanedrim, beside the particular Synagogicall Courts: So that by pointing out the forme of the Jewish Church, hee recommendeth a subor∣dination, and not an independency of parti∣cular Churches. 3. By the Church in that place is meant the competent Consistory of the Church, and so it agreeth to all Ecclesia∣sticall Courts respectively. This sence is given by Parker,* though he be most tender in the vindication of the liberty of congregati∣ons. Nam cum▪ &c. For, saith he, since Christ would have every man to be judged by his owne Church, Matth. 18. or if the judgement of his owne Church should displease him, yet ever it must be by the Church, that is, by a Synod of many Churches 4. As for the reason alled∣ged for proofe of the contrary exposition, I oppugne it both by reason, and by their owne Tenents, and by Scripture. By reason, because the rule of Geometricall proportion (whereof we have before spoken) proveth a congregation to bee a part of a Nationall Church, even as one man is a part of a con∣gregation; for as five is the hundreth part of Page 192 five hundreth, so is five hundred the hundreth part of fifty thousand. By their own grounds, because they hold the forme of a visible Church, to consist in the uniting of a num∣ber of visible Christians into one, by the bond of a holy covenant to walke in all the wayes of God. Then say I, we may say the Church of Scotland, as well as the Churches of Scotland, because all the particular Chur∣ches in Scotland, are united together into one, by the bond of a Nationall oath and cove∣nant, to walke in all the waies and ordinances of God. By Scripture also, because Acts 8.1. we read of the Church at Hierusalem, not the Churches: Howbeit there were at that in∣stant above eight thousand Christians at Hie∣rusalem, and all these still in the City (for the first scattering of them followeth thereafter in that Chapter.) This great number, neither did, nor could usually assemble into one place for the worship of God, but they met 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 house by house, Acts 2.46. And whereas objection is made to the contrary from Acts 2.44. and 5.12. and 6.2. Wee have before answered to the first of these places, for it is to be expounded by Acts 4.32. they were in one; that is, they were of one heart, and of one soule. The second place may be expoun∣ded of the Apostles, and the preceding Page 193 words favour this exposition; but though it should be takē of the multitude, it prove•h not their meeting together into one place for the worship, of God, for it was an extraordinary confluence, upon an extraordinary occasion of that which had befallen to Ananias and Saphira. The last place proveth no more, but an extraordinary and occasionall mee∣ting, and it is also to be understood that they met turmatim, as foure hundred thousand men did assemble together, Jud. 20.1.
Another Scripturall instance we give from 1 Pet. 1.1. with 5.2. the Apostle writing to the dispersed Jewes in severall Provinces, calleth them all one flocke. Wee read that Laban had many flockes, Genes. 30.36.38. yet are they all called one flocke, verse 31.32. so were all the flockes of Iacob called one flocke, Genes. 32.7. and 33.13. In like man∣ner every one of the particular Churches among those dispersed Jewes was a flocke, but compared with the whole, it was but a part of the flocke. It is no more absurd to say that a congregation is both a body, in respect of its owne members, and a member in respect of a Nationall Church, then it is to say, that every beleever considered by him∣selfe, is a tree of righteousnesse, and a Tem∣ple of God, yet compared with others, he is a Page 194 branch of the Vine, and a stone of the Tem∣ple, for all those waies is hee called in Scrip∣ture.
Sundry particular flockes may bee called one flocke, three waies: 1. Respectu pastorum, when the same shepheards oversee & take care of the whole. See an example both of the one kinde of shepheards, Luke 2.8. and of the other, Acts 20.28. 2. Respectu pabuli: So Paul Baynes speaking of the Low Countries,* where sundry congregations in one City make but one Church, saith, that the sheepe feed together into one common pasture, though they bite not on the same individuall grasse. 3. Respectu pedi, when many congregations are governed by the same Pastorall staffe of Ecclesiasticall Lawes and Discipline.
It is further objected, that Presbyteriall government and the authority of Synods, doe rob the congregations of their rights and liberties, no lesse then the Prelacy did; so that the Churches of Christ in the removall of Episcopacy, have changed Dominum only, not Dominium. Answer. There is a vaste dif∣ference; for 1. Episcopall governement is Monarchicall, and Christ hath left no Eccle∣siasticall Jurisdiction to bee exercised by one man. Presbyteriall and Synodicall governe∣ment is partly democraticall, in respect of the Page 195 election of Ministers and Elders, and the doing of matters of chiefest importance, with the knowledge and consent of congregations: partly aristocratical in respect of the parity of Presbyters and their consistorial proceedings and decrees. The Monarchicall part is Christs peculiarly. 2. The Prelacy permitteth not to congregations any act of their owne Church government, but robbeth them of their par∣ticular Elderships,* which (as Parker well no∣teth) the Classicall Presbyteries doe not. 3. It is one thing, saith Baynes, for Churches to subject themselves to a Bishop and Consistory,*wherein they shall have no power of suffrage: Another thing to communicate with such a Pres∣bytery, wherein themselves are members and Iudges with others. 4. The congregations did not agree not consent to Episcopall govern∣ment, but were sufferers in respect of the same, but they doe heartily agree to the go∣vernement of Presbyteries and Synods, in witnesse whereof they send their Commissio∣ners thither to concur, assist, & voice. 5. Speci∣all respect is had in Presbyteries and Synods, to the consent of congregations, in all matters of importance, which are proper unto the same. This the Prelacy did not regard. 6. Presbyteries and Synods doe not (which the Prelats did) imperiously and by their sole Page 196 arbitrement domineer over congregations, for their power is directive only, ministeriall, and limited by the Lawes of God and Na∣ture, and the lawdable Ecclesiasticall Lawes received and acknowledged by the congre∣gations themselves. 7. Experience hath shewed us Presbyteriall and Synodicall go∣vernment to bee, not only compatible with, but most conduceable for the supportment and comfort of congregations: whereas E∣piscopall government draweth ever after it m•lam ca•d•m, and a generall grievance of the Churches.
Some other objections there are, for obvi∣ating whereof I shall permit and explane a distinction which shall serve to answer them all. We may consider a visible Church, ei∣ther metaphysically or politically. It is one thing to consider men as living creatures endued with reason; another thing to con∣sider them as Magistrates, masters, fathers, children, servants, &c. So is it one thing to consider a visible Church as a society of men and women separated from the blinde world by divine vocation, and professing together the Gospell of Jesus Christ. Another thing to consider it as a political body, in which the power of Spirituall government and Juris∣diction is exercised, some governing and some governed.
Page 197These are very different considerations; for first, a visible Church being taken entita∣tively or metaphysically, her members doe ordinarily communicate together in those holy things which fall under the power of order, which I may call sacra mistica; but being taken politically, her members com∣municate together in such holy things as fall within the compasse of the power of Juris∣diction, which I may call sacra politica. Se∣condly, Infants under age being initiated in Baptisme, are actually members of the Church in the former consideration, but po∣tentially only in the latter, for they neither governe, nor yet have the use of reason to bee subject and obedient to those that doe go∣verne. Thirdly, one must necessarily bee a member of the Church metaphysically be∣•ore he can be a member of the Church po∣litically, but not contrariwise. Fourthly, many visible Churches have sometimes beene, and may bee without Officers, and so with∣out Ecclesiasticall government and exercise of Jurisdiction for that time, yet still retai∣ning the Essence of true visible Churches: whereas a Church which never yet had any Officers ordained therein (of which kinde there have beene many at the first conversion of a Nation to the Gospell) or which hath Page 198 losed all her Officers by death or persecuti∣on, is not for that time an Ecclesiasticall Re∣publicke, nor can bee such till she have Offi∣cers. This if they had observed who have taken so great paines to prove that there hath beene, and may bee a Church without Offi∣cers, it should happily have made them thinke their labour l•st. It might also have taught Henry Iacob to distinguish betweene a Church visible and a Church ministeriall or politicall, and not to understand these three termes to be all one, as he doth in his L•tter, bearing date the 4. of September 1611. pag. 9. Fiftly, my being a member of any one visible Church metaphysically, giveth me right and title to communicate with another visible Church (where for the time I am) in sacris misticis, such as the word, prayer, &c. But my being a member of any one visible Church politically doth not give me right and title to communicate with another visible Church (where for the time I am) in sacris politicis▪ such as ordination, deposition, ex∣communication, &c. Hereunto doth Master Robinson assent in these words, As a man once baptized is alwaies baptised,*so is he in all places and Chur•hes where hee comes (as a baptized person) to enjoy the common benefits of his bap∣tisme, and to discharge the common duties which Page 199 depend upon it. But a Pastor is not a Pastor in every Church where hee comes upon occ•sion, neither can he require in any other Church, sa∣ving that one over which the holy Ghost hath set him, that obedience, maintainance, and other respects which is due from the officers to the people; neither stands he charged with that mi∣nistery and service, which is due to the people from the officers. The like he would have said of an Elder or a Deacon.
Now this distinction shall serve to answer the obiections following.
Object.* Every Christian congregation is a compleat body Ecclesiasticall, having all the parts and members, and all Church officers which Christ hath instituted: therefore eve∣ry congrgation hath the full and absolute power of Ecclesiasticall Jurisdiction.
Answ. Every Christian congregation is a compleate Church or body of Christ meta∣physically; that is, hath the compleate Es∣sence of a true visible Church; yet every such congregation is not a compleate Ecclesiasti∣call Republicke, except in some certaine cases whereof wee have spoken, Chap. 2. And further, we answer, that this objection is alledged to prove, that 2 or 3 gathered toge∣ther in the name of Christ, have immediately under Christ the full power of Ecclesiasticall Page 200 Jurisdiction; but sure I am, that two or three gathered together in the name of Christ, are not a compleate Ecclesiasticall body, having all the members and officers which Christ hath instituted, for they themselves hold that in every Christian congregation by Christs institution there ought to be at least five Of∣ficers, and when those five shall be had, there must bee also a certaine number of Christian people to bee governed and served by them. So that their Argument doth not conclude that which they propose to prove.
*Object. They who have received Christ, have received with him power and right to enjoy him (though all the world bee against it) in all the meanes and ordinances by which hee doth communicate himselfe unto the Church. But every company of faithfull peo∣ple, if they be but two or three have received Christ; therefore every such company, &c.
Answ. If by the receiving of Christ, they meane the receiving of Christ on his throne, or the receiving of him in his ordinance of Church government, then wee deny their Assumption, for every company of faithfull people is not a Church politically, as wee have shewed already. Indeed every compa∣ny of faithfull people who have received Christ in this manner, hath right and title to Page 201 enjoy him in all his politicall ordinances, yet not independently, but by a certaine order and subordination. But if by the receiving of Christ, they meane receiving of him to salvation, or receiving of him by his Word and Spirit, wee grant, that not onely every company of faithfull people, but every parti∣cular Christian hath right and title to enjoy him in the mystical ordinances of the Word, Prayer, &c. as often as the same can be had; yea further, hath right and title to the fruit and benefit of Ecclesiasticall jurisdicton, the exercise whereof is committed by Christ to the officers of the Church, Intuitu Ecclesiae tanquam finis. But that every company of faithfull people, who have received Christ to salvation, hath right and title to enjoy him in his politicall ordinances, by their own ex∣ercising of all Ecclesiasticall jurisdiction, and that independently, this is more then either hath been, or can be proved.
Object.* The union betwixt Christ and his Church is as strait and immediate, as the u∣nion betwixt the Vine and the Branches, be∣twixt the Head and the Body, betwixt the Husband & the Wife. Therefore every true Church of Christ hath direct & immediate interest in, and title to Christ himself, & the whole new Testament, and every ordinance of it.
Page 202Answ. The strait union betwixt Christ and the Church, expressed by these comparisons, cannot bee understood of the Church ta∣ken politically: for then the union betwixt Christ and the Church might be dissolved as often as the Church ceaseth to bee ordered and governed as an Ecclesiastical Republick. It is therefore to be understood either of the invisible Church, or at most of the visible Church taken metaphysically or entitatively. But I adde withall, it is to be likewise under∣stood of every faithfull Christian: so that not onely every true Church, but every true member thereof, by vertue of this union, hath direct and immediate title to Christ, and to the benefit of all his ordinances for his edifi∣cation and salvation. This is all which the Argument can conclude, and it maketh no∣thing against us.
*Object. If all things be the Churches, even the Ministers themselves; yea, though they be Paul, Cephas, and Apollos, then may every Church use and enjoy all things immediately under Christ. But the first is true, 1 Cor. 3.24. Therefore, &c.
Answ. Neither can this prove any thing a∣gainst us: for when the Apostle saith, All things are yours, whether Paul, &c. He is to bee understood not onely collectively of the Page 203 Church, but distributively of every belee∣ver, who hath right to the comfortable en∣joyment and benefit of these things, so farre as they concerne his salvation. And in like manner I may say to the members of a∣ny particular congregation, All things are yours, whether Sessions or Presbyteris, or Provinciall or Generall Assemblies. And what wonder? God is our Father, Christ our elder brother, the holy Ghost our Comfor∣ter, the Angels our keepers, heaven our inhe∣ritance. It is therefore no strange thing to heare, that as the supreame civill power, so the supreame Ecclesiasticall power is appoin∣ted of God in order to our good and benefit,* that it be not a tyranny for hurt, but a mini∣stery for help.
These are the objections alledged for the independent and absolute power of congre∣gations. But this is not all: Some seeme to make use of our own weapons against us, ma∣king objection from the forme of the Jewish Church, which wee take for a plat-forme. They say,* that the Synagogues of the Jewes were not as the particular Churches are now: for they were not entire Churches of them∣selves, but members of the nationall Church, neither could they have the use of the most solemne parts of Gods worship, as were then Page 204 the sacrifices.* That the whole nation of the Jewes was one Church, having reference to one Temple, one high Priest, one Altar; & it being impossible that the whole body of a Nation should in the entire and personal parts meet and communicate together in the holy things of God, the Lord so disposed and or∣dered, that that communion should bee had after a manner, and in a sort, and that was by way of representation: for in the Temple was daily sacrifice offered for the whole nationall Church. So the names of the twelve Tribes upon the shoulders of the Ephod, and upon the Breast-plate, and the twelve loaves of Shew bread, were for Israel signes of re∣membrance before the Lord.* That now the Church consisteth not (as then) of a Nation, but of particular Assemblies, ordinarily com∣municating together in all the Churches ho∣ly things: whence it commeth, that there are no representative Churches now, the founda∣tion thereof, which is the necessary absence of the Church which is represented, being taken away in the new Testament.* That be∣sides all this, if wee take the representative Church at Jerusalem for a paterne, then as there not onely hard causes were opened, and declared according to the Law, but also the sacrifices daily offered, and the most so∣lemne Page 205 service performed without the pre∣sence of the body of the Church: so now in the representative Churches, (such as Pres∣byteries and Synods) consisting of Officers alone, there must be not onely the use of ju∣risdiction, but the Word and Sacraments, whether people bee present or not: for how can there be a power in the Church of Offi∣cers for the use of one solemne ordinance out of the communion of the body, and not of another?
Answ. 1. To set aside the sacrifices, & other ceremonial worship performed at Jerusalem, the Synagogues among the Jewes had Gods morall worship ordinarily therein, as Prayer, and the reading & expounding of the Scrip∣tures. 2. Whatsoever the Synagogues had, or whatsoever they wanted of the worship of God, they had an Ecclesiasticall Consistory, and a certaine order of Church government: else how shall we understand the excommu∣nication, or casting out of the Synagogue, the Rulers of the Synagogue, and the chiefe Ruler of the Synagogue? (of which things we have before spoken.)
I will not here dispute whether every sin among the Jewes was either appointed to be punished capitally, or else to bee expiated by sacrifices; but put the case it were so, this proveth that no excommunication or Eccle∣siasticall Page 206 censure was not then necessary: for beside the detriment of the Common-wealth by the violation of the Law, which was pu∣nishable by death; and beside the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and guiltinesse before God, the expiation where∣of by the death of Christ was prefigured in the sacrifices, there was a third thing in pub∣like sinnes, which was punishable by spiri∣tuall censures, and that was the scandall of the Church, which could not be taken away by the oblations of the delinquent, but rather made worse thereby, even as now a publike offender doth not take away, but rather in∣crease the scandall of the Church by his joy∣ning in the acts of Gods worship, so long as there is no Ecclesiasticall censure imposed upon him; neither yet (to speake properly) was the scandall of publike offences punish∣able by bodily punishments, but the Church being a politicall body had her owne Lawes, and her owne censures, no lesse then the Common-wealth. 3. As the Synagogues were particular Churches politically, so all of them collectively were one Nationall Church politically, governed by one su∣preame Ecclesiasticall Sanedrim, which is the representative wee meant of in our Argu∣ment. 4. But if we take the Nationall Church of the Jewes metaphysically, there was no Page 207 representative thereof, unlesse it were all the males who came thrice in the yeare to Ierusa∣lem. The daily offering of Sacrifices was not by a representative Church, but by the Priests: and though there were twelve loaves of Shewbread before the Lord, and the names of the twelve Tribes upon the brest∣plate, this proveth not a Church representa∣tive, but signes representative. 5. The body of the Church is now (as then) necessarily absent from the Consistorial actions of deba∣ting and deciding matters of Church go∣vernment, and of Jurisdiction; and so that which was called the foundation of a repre∣sentative Church doth still remaine.
Now before I make an end, I must answer yet other two objections which have beene lately made.* There is one who objecteth that the Assembly of the Apostles, Acts 15. can bee no president nor patterne for succee∣ding ages: First, because the Apostles were inspired with the holy Ghost, which whol∣ly guided them in all matters of the Church; so as in that their determination, they say ex∣pressely,*It seemed good to the holy Ghost and to us to lay upon you no greater burthen. Now, what Synod in any age after the Apostles could ever say that they were infallibly inspi∣red and assisted by the holy Ghost? Secondly, Page 208 that injunction of the holy Ghost and of the Apostles was but 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, for that present time, for the avoiding of offences betweene Jewes and Gentiles. But the like we read not afterward in all the writings of the Apostles.
Ans. 1. I say with Whittaker, Posse alia, &c. That other lawfull councells may in like manner affirme their Decrees to be the Decrees of the ho∣ly Ghost,*if they be like unto this councell, and if they keepe the same rule which the Apostles did keep and follow in this councell, for if they decree and determine nothing but from the Scriptures, which was done in this councell; and if they ex∣amine all questions according to the Scriptures, and in all their Decrees follow the voyce of the Scripture, then may they affirme that the holy Ghost hath so decreed. 2. If the Doctrine or exhortation of a Pastor well grounded upon the Scriptures bee the Word of God, then much more is the Decree of a Synod well grounded upon the Scriptures, the Decree of the holy Ghost. 3. That Assembly was not of the Apostles alone, but of the Apostles and Elders, neither did the Decrees proceed from the Apostles alone, but from the A∣postles and Elders, Acts 16.4. and 21.25. and in the place which is now obje∣cted, Acts 15.28. not the Apostles alone, but the Elders with them, say, It seemed good Page 209 to the holy Ghost and to us. What the Elders did then, the Elders may doe now, for time hath not diminished their authority. 4. Nay, what the Apostles did in that Synod, the Elders may doe in a Synod now; for the Apostles then did nothing but in the ordina∣ry and common way of disputing and deba∣ting, comparing reason with reason, and sen∣tence with sentence, and thereafter framing the Decree according to the light which they had by reasoning and by searching the Scrip∣tures. But (which is most observable) the sentence of the Apostle Peter in that Synod was very imperfect and defective; for he only disswadeth from imposing the yoke of the ceremoniall law upon the Churches of the Gentiles, but maketh no mention of any overture for avoiding the offence betwixt the Jewes and the converted Gentiles at that time, which I may suppose he would have done, if his light and judgement had carried him that farre: In this the Apostle Iames sup∣plieth the defect of Peters sentence,* and pro∣poundeth an overture which pleased the whole councell, and according to which the decree was given sorth. This made Luther to say that Iames did change the sentence of Pe∣ter. And all this it pleased God so to dispose, that we might understand that Synod to bee Page 210 indeed a president and paterne for ordinary Synods in succeding ages. 5. Henry Iacob in his third argument for the Divine Institution of the Church, saith: It is absurd and impos∣sible, that the Text Matth. 18. was never un∣derstood for 1500 yeares after Christ. Sure this Text, Act. 15. was never understood for that whole space, if the Assembly there men∣tioned, be not a president to succeeding ages. 6. It maketh nothing against us, that he saith, the decree of the Apostles & Elders, was for that present time onely; nay, it maketh for us: for in this also that Synod was a paterne to succeeding ages, forasmuch as Synods now have no power to make a perpetuall restraint from the practice of any indifferent thing, (such as was then the eating of bloud, and things strangled) but onely during the case of scandall. And moreover, the decree of the Apostles and Elders in that Synod, is also perpetuall, in so farre as it is conceived a∣gainst the pressing of circumcision as neces∣sary to salvation.
*One objection more I finde in another late Peece, which striketh not at the authority a∣lone, but at the very reputation of Synods. This Authour alledgeth, that the ordinary government by Synods, is a thing of great confusion, by reason of the parity and equali∣ty, Page 211 the voyces being numbred, not weighed. Equidem (saith a wise Father) at vere, &c. To say the truth, I am utterly determined never to come to any Councell of Bishops: for I never yet saw good end of any Councell: for Councels abate not ill things, but rather increase them. Answ. 1. If the parity and equality make a great confusion in the ordinary government by Synods, it shall make no lesse, but rather greater confusion in an extraordinary Synod: so that there is no ground for his restriction to that which is ordinary. 2. If the num∣bring of voyces, and the parity of those that doe voyce, make a confusion in Synods, why not in Parliaments also, and in other civill Courts? 3. That testimony doth only strike at the Councels of Bishops, and so maketh not against parity, but against imparity in Councels: And, to say the truth, wee have found in our owne experience, that Prelati∣call Synods have not abated, but rather in∣creased evils in the Church. 4. The words of Nazianzen (for he is the Father here meant of) are not to be understood against Synods, but against the abuse of Synods at that time.* And in this we must pardon him (saith Whit∣taker) that he shunned all Synods in those e∣vill times of the Church, when the Emperour Valens was opposite to the Catholicke faith, Page 212 and when the faction of heretickes did most prevaile: in that case indeed Synods should have produced greater evils. But we trust it shall be now seen that well constituted and free Synods of Pastors and Elders, shall not increase, but abate evill things.