••• PROPOSITIONS Concerning THE MINISTERIE AND GOVERNMENT OF THE CHURCH.
EDINBURGH: Printed by Evan Tyler, Printer to the Kings most Excellent Majesty. 1647.
Act approving VIII generall Heads of Doctrine against the Tenents of Era∣stianisme, Independencie, and Liber∣ty of Conscience, asserted in the CXI Propositions, which are to be examined against the next Assembly.
BEing tender of so great an ingagement by Solemn Covenant, sincerely, re∣ally, and constantly to endeavour in our Places and Callings, the preser∣vation of the Reformed Religion in this Kirk of Scotland, in Doctrine, Worship, Discipline, and Government, the Refor∣mation of Religion in the Kingdomes of England, and Ireland, in Doctrine, Worship, Discipline, and Go∣vernment, according to the Word of God, and the example of the best Reformed Kirks, and to endea∣vour the nearest Conjunction and Uniformity in all these, together with the extirpation of Heresie, Schisme, and whatsoever shall bee found contrary to sound Doctrine: And considering withall that one of the speciall meanes which it becometh us in our Places and Callings to use in pursuance of these ends, is Page [unnumbered] in zeal for the true Reformed Religion, to give our publike testimony against the dangerous Tenents of Erastianisme, Independencie, and which is falsely called Liberty of Conscience, which are not only contrary to sound Doctrine, but more speciall lets and hinde∣rances as well to the preservation of our own received Doctrine, Worship, Discipline, and Government, as to the Work of Reformation and Uniformity in England and Ireland. The Generall Assembly upon these considerations, having heard publikely read the CXI following Propositions exhibited and ten∣dered by some Brethren, who were appointed to prepare Articles or Propositions for the vindication of the Trueth in these particulars, Doth unanimously approve and agree unto these eight generall Heads of Doctrine therein contained and asserted, viz. 1. That the Ministery of the Word and the Administration of the Sacraments of the New Testament, Baptisme and the Lords Supper, are standing Ordinances instituted by God himself, to continue in the Church to the end of the World. 2. That such as Administer the Word and Sacraments, ought to be duely called and ordained thereunto. 3. That some Ecclesiasticall censures are proper and peculiar to be inflicted onely upon such as bear Office in the Kirk; Other censures are common and may bee inflicted both on Mi∣nisters and other Members of the Kirk. 4. That the censure of suspension from the Sacrament of the Lords Supper, inflicted because of grosse ignorance, or because of a scandalous life and conversation; As likewise, the censure of Excommunication or casting out of the Kirk flagitious or contumacious offenders, Page [unnumbered] both the one censure and the other is warrantable by and grounded upon the Word of God, and is ne∣cessary (in respect of divine institution) to be in the Kirk. 5. That as the Rights, Power, and Authori∣ty of the Civill Magistrate are to bee maintained ac∣cording to the Word of God, and the Confessions of the Faith of the Reformed Kirks; So it is no lesse true and cert•ine, that Jesus Christ, the onely Head and onely King of the Kirk, hath instituted and ap∣pointed a Kirk Government distinct from the Civill Government or Magistracie. 6. That the Ecclesiasti∣call Government is committed and instrusted by Christ to the Assemblies of the Kirk, made up of the Mi∣nisters of the Word and Ruling Elders. 7. That the lesser and inferiour Ecclesiasticall Assemblies, ought to bee subordinate and subject unto the greater and su∣periour Assemblies. 8. That notwithstanding here∣of, the Civill Magistrate may and ought to suppresse by corporall or Civill punishments, such as by sprea∣ding Errour or Heresie, or by fomenting Schisme, greatly dishonour God, dangerously hurt Religion and disturbe the Peace of the Kirk. Which Heads of Do∣ctrine (howsoever opposed by the authors and fo∣menters of the foresaid errours respectively) the Generall Assembly doth firmely beleeve, own, main∣taine, and commend unto others, as Solide, True, Orthodoxe, grounded upon the Word of God, con∣sonant to the judgement both of the ancient and the best Reformed Kirks. And because this Assembly (through the multitude of other necessary and pressing bussinesse) cannot now have so much leisure, as to examine and consider particularly the foresaid CXI Page [unnumbered] Propositions; Therefore, a more particular exami∣nation thereof is committed and referred to the Theo∣logicall faculties in the four Universities of this King∣dome, and the judgement of each of these faculties concerning the same, is appointed to bee reported to the next Generall Assembly. In the meane while, these Propositions shall bee Printed, both that Copies thereof may bee sent to Presbyteries, and that it may be free for any that pleaseth to peruse them, and to make known or send their judgement concerning the same to the said next Assembly.
AS our Lord Jesus Christ doth invisibly teach and governe his Church by the Holy Spi∣rit: So in gathering, preserving, instru∣cting, building and saving thereof, he useth Ministers as his instruments, and hath appointed an order of some to Teach, and others to Learne in the Church, and that some should be the Flock, and others the Pastours.
For beside these first founders of the Church of Christ extraordinarily sent, and furnished with the gift of Miracles, whereby they might confirme the Doctrine of the Gospel, he appointed also ordinary Pastors and Teachers, for the execu∣ting of the Ministery, even untill his coming againe unto Judgement, Eph. 4. 11, 12, 13. Wherefore, also as many as are of the number of Gods People, or will bee accounted Christians, ought to receive and obey the ordinary Ministers Page 2 of Gods Word and Sacraments, (lawfully though medi∣ately called) as the Stewards and Ambassadours of Christ himself.
It is not lawfull for any man how fit soever and how much soever inriched or beautified with excellent gifts, to un∣dertake the Administration either of the Word or Sacraments by the will of private persons, or others who have not power and right to Call▪ much lesse is it lawfull by their owne judge∣ment or arbitr•ment, to assume and arrogate the same to them∣selves: But before it bee lawfull to undergoe that Sacred Mi∣nistery in Churches constituted, a speciall Calling, yea beside, a lawfull Election (which alone is not sufficient) a mission, or sending, or (as commonly it is tearmed) Ordination, is necessarily required, and that both for the avoiding of confu∣sion, and to bar out or shut the door (so far as in us lieth) upon impostors; as also by reason of divine institution delive∣red to us in the Holy Scripture, Rom. 10. 15. Heb. 5. 4. Tit. 1. 5. 1 Tim. 1. 14.
The Church ought to bee governed by no other persons then Ministers and Stewards preferred and placed by Christ, and after no other manner then according to the Laws made by him; and therefore, there is no power on earth which may chalenge to it self Authority or Dominion over the Church: But whosoever they are that would have the things of Christ to bee administred not according to the Ordi∣nance and will of Christ revealed in his Word, but as it liketh them, and according to their own will and prescript, what other thing goe they about to doe then by horrible sacriledge to throw down Christ from his own Throne.
For our onely Law-giver and Interpreter of his Fathers will, Jesus Christ, hath prescribed and foreappointed the rule according to which hee would have his Worship and the Go∣vernment of his owne House to bee ordered. To wrest this rule of Christ laid open in his holy Word, to the Counsells, Page 3 Wills, Manners, Devices 〈◊〉〈◊〉 of Men, is most high im∣piety; But contrarily, the Law of Faith commandeth the counsell and purposes of men to bee framed and conformed to this rule, and overtuneth all the reasonings of worldly wisdome, and bringeth into captivity the thoughts of the proud swelling minde to the obedience of Christ. Neither ought the voice of any to take place or bee rested upon in the Church, but the voice of Christ alone.
The same Lord and our Saviour Jesus Christ, the only Head of the Church hath ordained in the New Testament, not only the Preaching of the Word and Administration of Baptisme and the Lords Supper, but also Ecclesiasticall Government, distinct and differing from the Civill Government, and it is his will that there bee such a Government distinct from the Ci∣vill in all his Churches every where, as well those which live under Christian, as those under infidell Magistrates, even un∣till the end of the World. Heb. 13. 7, 17. 1 Tim. 5. 17, 19. Rom. 12. 8. 1 Cor. 12. 28. 1 Thes. 5. 12. Acts 1. 20, 28. Luke 12. 42. 1 Tim. 6. 14. Apoc. 2. 25.
This Ecclesiasticall Government distinct from the Civill, is from God committed, not to the whole body of the Church or Congregation of the faithfull, or to bee Exercised both by Officers and People, but to the Ministers of Gods Word, to∣gether with the Elders which are joyned with them for the care and Government of the Church, 1 Tim. 5. 17. To these therefore who are over the Church in the Lord, belongeth the Authority and Power, and it lyeth upon them by their of∣fice, according to the rule of Gods Word to discerne and judge betwixt the Holy and Prophane, to give diligence for amendment of Delinquents, and to purge the Church (as much as is in them) from scandalls, and that not only by en∣quiring, inspection, warning, reproving, and more sharply expostulating, but also by acting in the further and more severe parts of Ecclesiasticall Discipline, or exercising, Page 4 Ecclesiastick jurisdiction; 〈◊〉〈◊〉 the greatest and weigh∣tiest censures, where need is.
None that is within the Church ought to bee without the reach of Church-law, and exempt from Ecclesiastick Censures; but Discipline is to be exercised on all the Members of the Church, without respect or consideration of those ad∣hering qualities, which use to commend a man to other men, Such, as Power, Nobility, illustrious Descent, and the like: for the judgement cannot bee right, where men are led and moved with these considerations. Wherefore, let respect of Persons be farre from all Judges, chiefly the Ecclesiasticall: And if any in the Church doe so swell in pride, that he refuse to be under this Discipline, and would have himself to be free and exempt from all tryall and Ecclesiastick judgement, this mans disposition is more like the haughtinesse of the Romane Pope, then the meeknesse and submissivenesse of Christs Sheep.
Ecclesiasticall censure moreover, is either proper to bee inflicted upon the Ministers and Office-bearers onely, or with them common to other Members of the Church; The for∣mer consisteth in suspension or deposition of Ministers from their Office (which in the ancient Canons is called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) The latter consisteth in the greater and lesser Excommunica∣tion, (as they speak.) Whatsoever in another Brother de∣serveth Excommunication, The same much more in a Mini∣nister deserveth Excommunication: But justly sometimes a Minister is to bee put from his Office, and deprived of that Power which by Ordination was given him, against whom neverthelesse to draw the sword of Excommunication, no rea∣son doth compell.
Sometime also it happeneth that a Minister having fallen into Heresie or Apostasie, or other grievous crimes, if hee shew tokens of true repentance, may bee justly received in∣to the communion of the Church; Whom notwithstanding, Page 5 it is no way expedient to restore into his former place or charge; yea, perhaps it will not bee found fit to restore such a one to the Ministery in another Congregation, as soone as hee is received into the bosome of the Church; Which surely is most agreeable as well as to the Word of God, 2 King. 23. 9. Ezech. 44. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. as to that Ecclesiasticall Disci∣pline, which in some ages after the times of the Apostles was in use.
So true is it that the Ministers of the Church are lyable as well to peculiar as to common censures; Or that a Minister of the Church is censured one way, and one of the people ano∣ther way.
Ecclesiasticall censure, which is not proper to Ministers, but common to them with other Members of the Church, is either suspension from the Lords Supper, (which by others is called the Publicanes Excommunication,) or the cutting off of a Member, which is commonly called Excommunication. The distinction of this twofold censure (commonly, though not so properly passing under the name of the lesser and grea∣ter Excommunication) is not onely much approved by the Church of Scotland, and the Synode now assembled at West∣minster, but also by the Reformed Churches of France, the Low-countreys, and of Pole-land, as is to be seen in the book of the Ecclesiastick Discipline of the Reformed Churches in France. Chap. 5. Art. 9. In the harmonie of the Belgicks Synodes. Chap. 14. Art. 8. 9. In the Canons of the generall Synode of Torne, held in the yeare 1597.
That the distinction of that twofold Church censure was al∣lowed also by antiquity, it may be sufficiently clear to him who will consult the sixtie one Canon of the sixth generall Synode, with the Annotations of Zonaras and Balsamon; Also the thirteenth Canon of the eighth Synode (which is termed the first and second) with the Notes of Zonaras; Yea besides, even the penitennts also themselves of the fourth degree, or 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that is, which were in the consistency, were Page 6 suspended from the Lords Supper, though as to other things of the same condition with the faithfull; For, to the commu∣nion also of Prayers, and so to all priviledges of Ecclesiasticall society, the Eucharist alone excepted, they were thought to have right: So sacred a thing was the Eucharist esteemed. See also beside others, Cyprian 1. Book. Epist. 11. That Dyanisius the Author of the Ecclesiastick Hierarchie. Chap. 3. Part. 3. Basil. Epist. to Amphilochius. Can. 4 Ambros. lib. 2. De offi∣ciis, Chap. 27. Augustine in his book against the Donatists, af∣ter the conference, Cap. 4. Chrysostom Homil. 83. in Matth. Gregor. the great Epist, lib. 2. Chap. 65. and 66. Walafri∣dus Strabo of Ecclesiasticall matters. Chap. 17.
That first and lesser censure by Christs ordinance, is to be inflicted on such as have received Baptisme, and pretend to be true Members of the Church, yet are found unfit and unwor∣thy to Communicate in the signes of the grace of Christ with the Church, whether for their grosse ignorance of divine things, the Law namely and Gospel, or by reason of scan∣dall either of false Doctrine or wicked life. For these causes therefore, or for some one of them, they are to be kept back from the Sacrament of the Lords Supper (a lawfull judiciall tryall going before) according to the interdiction of Christ, forbidding that that which is Holy be given to dogs, or Pearles bee cast before swine, Matth. 7. 6. and this censure of su∣spension is to continue, till the offenders bring forth fruits worthy of repentance.
For the asserting and defending of this suspension, there is no small accession of strength from the nature of the Sacra∣ment it self, and the institution and end thereof. The Word of God indeed is to bee Preached, as well to the ungodly and impenitent that they may bee convened, as to the Godly and repenting, that they may be confirmed: But the Sacrament of the Lords Supper is by God instituted, not for beginning the Work of Grace, but for nourishing and increasing Grace, and therefore none is to be admitted to the Lords Supper, who Page 7 by his life testifieth that hee is impenitent and not as yet con∣verted.
Indeed if the Lord had instituted this Sacrament, that not onely it should nourish and cherish faith, and seal the pro∣mises of the Gospel, but also should begin the work of Grace in sinners, and give regeneration it self, as the instrumentall cause thereof, verily even the most wicked, most uncleane and most unworthy were to be admitted. But the Reformed Churches do otherwise judge of the nature of this Sacrament, which shall be abundantly manifest by the gleaning of these following Testimonies.
The Scottish Confession, Art. 23. But we confesse that the Lords Supper belongs onely to those of the houshold of faith, who can try and examine themselves, as well in faith, as in the duties of faith towards their neigbours. Whoso abide without faith, and in variance with their brethren, doe at that holy Table eat and drink unworthily. Hence it is that the Pa∣stors in our Church doe enter on a publike and particular exami∣nation, both of the knowledge, conversation and life of those who are to be admitted to the Lords Table. The Belgick Con∣fession. Art. 35. Wee beleeve also and confesse that our Lord Jesus Christ hath ordained the holy Sacrament of his Supper, that in it he may nourish and uphold them whom hee hath alrea∣dy regenerated.
The Saxon Confession. Art. 15. of the Lords Supper. The Lord willeth that every receiver bee particularly confirmed by this testimony, so that hee may bee certified that the benefits of the Gospel doe appertaine to himself, seeing the Preaching is common, and by this testimony▪ by this receiving, he sheweth that thou art one of his members, and washed with his blood. And by and by. Thus therefore we instruct the Church, that at be∣hooveth them that come to the Supper, to bring with them re∣pentance or conversion, and (faith being now kindled in the mediation of the death and resurrection, and the benefits of the Page 8 Son of God) to seek here the confirmation of this faith. The very same things are set downe, and that in the very same words in the consent of the Churches of Pole-land in the Sen∣domi•ian Synode, Anno 1570. Art. of the Lords Supper.
The Bohemian Confession. Art. 11. Next our Divines teach that the Sacraments of themselves, or as some say, ex opere operato, doe not confer Grace to those, who are not first endued with good motions and inwasdly quickened by the Holy Spirit, neither doe they bestow justifying faith, which maketh the soul of man in all things obsequious, trusting and obedient to God; for faith must goe before (wee speake of them of ripe yeares) which quickeneth a man by the work of the Ho∣ly Spirit, and putteth good motions into the heart. And after: But if any come unworthily to the Sacraments, hee is not made by them worthy or cleane, but doth only bring greater sinne and damnation on himself.
Seeing then in the holy Supper, that is in the receiving the Sacramentall Elements (which is here distinguished from the Prayers and Exhortations accompanying that action) the benefits of the Gospel are not first received, but for them being received are thanks given; neither by partaking thereof doth God bestow the very spirituall life, but doth preserve, cherish and perfect that life; and seeing the Word of God is accoun∣ted in the manner of letters patents, but Sacraments like seals, (as rightly the Helvetian Confession saith, Chap. 19.) it plainly followeth that those are to be kept back from the Lords Supper, which by their fruits and manners doe prove them∣selves to be ungodly or impenitent, and strangers or alients from all communion with Christ▪ Nor are the promises of Grace sealed to any other then to those to whom these promises doe belong, for otherwise the seal annexed should contradict and gainsay the letters patents; and by the visible Word those should bee loosed and remitted, which by the audible Word are bound and condemned: But this is such an absurdity, as Page 9 that if any would, yet hee cannot smooth or heal it with any plaister.
But as known, impious, and unregenerate persons, have no right to the holy Table: So also ungodly persons by reason of a grievous scandall are justly for a time deprived of it; for it is not lawfull or allowable that the comforts and promises which belong onely to such as beleeve and repent, should be sealed unto known unclean persons, and those who walk inordinatly, whether such as are not yet regenerate, or such as are regenerate, but fallen and not yet restored or risen from their fall. The same Discipline plainly was shaddowed forth under the Old Testament, for none of Gods People during their legall pollution, was permitted to enter into the Tabernacle, or to have accesse to the solemne Sacrifices and society of the Church: And much more were wicked and notorious offenders debarred from the Temple ever untill by an offering for sinne, together with a solemne confession thereof, being cleansed, they were reconciled unto God. Num. 5. 6, 7, 8. Lev. 5. to the 7. vers. Lev. 6. to vers. 8.
Yea that those who were polluted with sins and crimes were reckoned among the unclean in the Law, Maimonides in more Nevochim, Part. 3. Chap. 47. proveth out of Lev. 20. 3. Lev. 18. 24. Num. 35. 33, 34. Therefore seeing the shedding of mans blood was rightly esteemed the greatest pol∣lution of all; Hence it was, that as the society of the leprous was shunned by the cleane, so the company of murtherers by good men was most religiously avoided, Lament. 4. 13, 14, 15. The same thing is witnessed by Ananias the high Priest, in Josephus of the Jewish Warre. 4. Book, Chap. 5. where hee saith that those false Zelots of that time, bloody men, ought to have been restrained from accesse to the Temple, by reason of the pollution of murther; Yea as Philo the Jew witnes∣seth in his book of the Offerers of Sacrifices; Whosoever were found unworthy and wicked, were by edict forbidden to approach the holy thresholds.Page 10
Neither must that be part by which was noted by Zonaras, Book 4. of his Annals, (whereof see also Scaliger agreeing with him, in Elench. Triheres. Nicserrar. Cap. 28) namely that the Essenes were forbidden the holy Place as being hai∣nous and p•acular transgressers, and such as held other opini∣ons, and did otherwise teach concerning Sacrifices then ac∣cording to the Law, and observed not the ordinances of Moses, whence it proceeded that they Sacrificed privately; Yea and also the Essenes themselves did thrust away from their Congre∣gations those that were wicked. Whereof see Drusius of the three sects of Jews, Lib. 4. cap. 22.
God verily would not have his Temple to bee made open to unworthy and uncleane worshippers, nor was it free for such men to enter into the Temple. See Nazianzen, Orat. 21. The same thing is witnessed and declared by divers late writers, such as have beene and are more acquainted with the Jewish antiquities. Consult the Annotations of Vetablus and of Ainsworth an English writer upon Psal. 118. 19, 20. also Constantius L'empereur Annotat, in Cod. Middoth, Cap. 2. Pag. 44, 45. Cornelius Bertramus, of the common-wealth of the Hebrews. Cap. 7. Henrie Vorstius, Animadvers. in Pi•k. Rab. Eliezer. Pag. 169. The same may bee proved out of Ezech. 23. 38, 39. Jer. 7. 9, 10, 11, 12. whence also it was that the solemne and publike Society in the Temple, had the name of the Assembly of the Righteous, and Congregation of Saints. Psal. 89. 5, 7. Psal. 111. 1. Psal. 147. 1. Hence also is that, Psal. 118. 19, 20. of the gates of righteousnesse by which the righteous enter.
That which is now driven at, is not that all wicked and unclean persons should be utterly excluded from our Ecclesia∣sticall Societies, and so from all hearing of Gods Word; Yea there is nothing lesse intended: For the Word of God is the instrument as well of conversion as of confirmation, and there∣fore is to bee Preached as well to the not converted as to the Page 11 converted, as well to the repenting as the unrepenting: The Temple indeed of Jerusalem had speciall promises, as it were pointing out with the finger a Communion with God through Christ, 1 King. 8. 30, 48. Dan. 6. 10. 2 Chron. 6. 16. and 7. 15, 16. But tis far otherwise with our Temples, or places of Church Assemblies, because our Temples containe nothing Sacramentall in them, such as the Tabernacle and Temple con∣tained; as the most learned Professors of Leyden said rightly, in Synops. Pur. Thelogie Disput. 48. Thes. 47.
Wherefore the point to be here considered as that which is now aimed at, is this, that howsoever even under the New Testament, the uncleannesse of those to whom the Word of God is Preached bee tolerated; yet all such, of what estate or condition soever in the Church, as are defiled with manifest and grievous scandals, and doe thereby witnesse themselves to be without the inward and spirituall Communion with Christ and the faithfull, may and are to bee altogether discharged from the Communion of the Lords Supper, untill they repent and change their manners.
Besides, even those to whom it was not permitted to go into the holy Courts of Israel, and to ingyre themselves in∣to Ecclesiasticall Communion, and who did stand betweene the court of Israel and the utter wall, were not therefore to be kept back from hearing the Word; for in Solomons Porch, and so in the intermurale or court of the Gentiles, the Gospel was Preached, both by Christ, John 10 23. and also by the Apostles, Acts 3. 11. and 5. 12. and that of purpose, because of the reason brought by Pineda, of the things of Salomon, book 5. Chap. 19. because a more frequent multitude was there, and somewhat larger opportunity of sowing the Gospel: Wherefore to any whomsoever, even heathen people meeting there, the Lord would have the Word to be Preached, who notwithstanding, purging the Temple, did not onely over∣throw the tables of Money changers, and chaires of those that sold Doves, but also, cast forth the buyers and sellers Page 12 them•elves, Matth. 21. 12. for hee could not endure either such things, or such persons in the Temple.
Although then the Gospel is to be Preached to every creature, the Lord in expresse words commanding the same, Mark. 16. 15. yet not to every one is set open an accesse to the holy Sup∣per. Tis granted that Hypocrites do lurk in the Church, who hardly can be convicted and discovered, much lesse repelled from the Lord Supper. Such therefore are to be suffered, till by the fanne of judgement the graine bee separate from the chaffe; But those whose wicked deeds or words are knowne and made manifest, are altogether to bee debarred from parta∣king those symboles of the Covenant of the Gospel, lest that the Name of God bee greatly disgraced, whilest sins are per∣mitted to spread abroad in the Church unpunished; or lest the Stewards of Christ by imparting the signes of the Grace of God, to such as are continuing in the state of impurity and scandall, bee partakers of their sinnes. Hitherto of su∣spension.
Excommunication ought not to be proceeded unto, except when extreme necessity constraineth: But whensoever the soul of the sinner cannot otherwise bee healed, and that the safety of the Church requireth the cutting off of this or that Member, it behoveth to use this last remedy. In the Church of Rome indeed Excommunication hath beene turned into greatest injustice and tyrannie (as the Pharisees abused the casting out of the Synagogues, which was their Excommuni∣cation) to the fulfilling of the lust of their own mindes; Yet the ordinance of Christ is not therefore by any of the Reformed Religion to be utterly thrust away and wholly rejected. What Protestant knows not that the vassals of Antichrist have drawn the Lords Supper into the worst and most pernicious abuses, as also the Ordination of Ministers and other ordinances of the Gospel? Yet who will say that things necessary, (whether the necessity be that of command, or that of the means or end) are to be taken away because of the abuse?Page 13
They therefore who with an high hand do persevere in their wickednesse, after foregoing admonitions stubbornly despised or carelessely neglected, are justly by Excommunication in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ cut off and cast out from the so∣ciety of the faithfull, and are pronounced to bee cast out from the Church, untill beeing filled with shame and cast downe, they shall returne againe to a more sound minde, and by con∣fession of their sinne and amendment of their lives, they shall shew tokens of repentance, Matth. 18. 16, 17, 18. 1 Cor. 5. 13. Which places are also alleadged in the Confession of Bo∣hemia, Art. 8. to prove that the Excommunication of the im∣penitent and stubborne, whose wickednesse is known, is com∣manded of the Lord: But if stubborne Heretickes or unclean Persons be not removed or east out from the Church, therein doe the Governours of the Church sinne, and are found guil∣ty Rev. 2. 14, 20.
But that all abuse and corruption in Ecclesiasticall Govern∣ment may be either prevented and avoided or taken away, or lest the power of the Church either by the ignorance or unskil∣fulnesse of some Ministers here and there, or also by too much heat and fervour of minde, should run out beyond measure or bounds, or contrariwise beeing shut up within straiter limits then is fitting, should be made unprofitable, feeble, or of none effect: Christ the most wise Law-giver of his Church hath foreseen and made provision to prevent all such evills which he did foresee were to arise, and hath prepared and prescribed for them intrinsecall and Ecclesiasticall remedies, and those also in their kinde (if lawfully and rightly applyed) both sufficient and effectuall: Some whereof he hath most expresly propounded in his Word, and some he hath left to bee drawne from thence by necessary consequence.
Therefore by reason of the danger of that which is called calvis errans, or a wrong key; and that it may not bee per∣mitted to particular Churches to erre or sin licentiously, and Page 14 lest any mans cause be overthrown and perish, who in a parti∣cular Church had perhaps the same men both his adversaries and his judges; Also that common businesses which doe be∣long to many Churches, together with the more weighty and difficult controversies, (the deciding whereof in the consisto∣ries of particular Churches is not safe to bee adventured upon) may bee handled and determined by a common counsell of Presbyteries. Finally that the Governours of particular Churches, may impart help mutually one to another against the cunning and subtill enemies of the truth, and may joyne their strength together (such as it is) by an holy combinati∣on, and that the Church may bee as a camp of an Army well ordered; lest while every one striveth singly, all of them bee subdued and overcome; or lest by reason of the scarcity of pru∣dent and Godly Counsellers (in the multitude of whom is safety) the Affaires of the Church be undone: For all those considerations particular Churches must bee subordinate to Classicall Presbyteries and Synodes.
Wherefore tis not lawfull to particular Churches or (as commonly they are called) Parochiall, either to decline the authority of Classes or Synodes, where they are lawfully set∣led, or may be had (much lesse to withdraw themselves from that authority, if they have once acknowledged it) or to re∣fuse such lawfull Ordinances or Decrees of the Classes or Sy∣nodes, as being agreeable to the Word of God are with au∣thority imposed upon them. acts 15. 2, 6, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29. Acts 16. 4.
Although Synodes assemble more seldome, Classes and consistories of particular Churches more frequently; Yet that Synodes both Provinciall and Nationall assemble at set and ordinary times as well as Classes and Parochiall consistories is very expedient, and for the due preservation of Church po∣licie and Discipline, necessary. Sometime indeed it is expedi∣ent they bee assembled occasionally, that the urgent necessity of the Church may be the more speedily provided for, namely Page 15 when such a businesse happeneth, which without great danger cannot bee put off till the appointed time of the Synode.
But that besides occasionall Synodes, ordinary Synodes be kept at set times, is most profitable, not onely that they may discusse and determine the more difficult Ecclesiasticall causes coming before them, whether by the appeal of some person agrieved, or by the hesitation or doubting of inferiour Assem∣blies (for such businesses very often fall out;) but also that the state of the Churches whereof they have the care, beeing more certainly and frequently searched and knowne, if there be any thing wanting or amisse in their Doctrine, Discipline or Manners, or any thing worthy of punishment, the slothfull labourers in the Vineyard of the Lord may bee made to shake off the spirit of slumber and slothfulnesse, and be stirred up to the attending and fulfilling more diligently their calling, and not suffered any longer to sleep and snort in their office; the straglers and wanderers may bee reduced to the way; the un∣toward and stiffe-necked, which scarce or very hardly suffer the yoke of Discipline, as also unquiet persons which devise new and hurtfull things, may bee reduced to order. Finally, whatsoever doth hinder the more quick and efficacious course of the Gospel, may be discovered and removed.
It is too too manifest (alas for it) that there are, which with unwearyed diligence do most carefully labour, that they may oppresse the liberties and rights of Synodes, and may take away from them all libertie of consulting of things and mat∣ters Ecclesiasticall, at least of determining thereof, (for they well know how much the union and harmonie of Churches may make against their designes.) But so much the more it concerneth the orthodox Churches, to know, defend and pre∣serve this excellent liberty granted to them by divine right, and so to use it, that imminent dangers, approaching evils, urging grievances, scandalls growing up, schismes rising, he∣resies creeping in, errours spreading, and strifes waxing hote, Page 16 may be corrected and taken away, to the glory of God, the edification and peace of the Church.
Beside Provinciall and National Synodes, an Oecumenicall (so called from 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that is from the habitable World) or more truely a Generall, or if you will, an Universall Synode, if so be it be free and rightly constituted, and no other Com∣missioners but orthodox Churches bee admitted (for what communion is there of light with darknesse, of righteousnesse with unrighteousnesse, or of the Temple of God with idols) Such a Synode is of speciall utility, peradventure also such a Synode is to be hoped for, surely tis to be wished, that for de∣fending the orthodox Faith, both against Popery and other He∣resies, as also for propagating it to those who are without, especially the Jews, a more strait and more firme consocia∣tion may bee entered into. For the unanimity of all the Churches as in evill tis of all things most hurtfull, so on the contrary side, in good it is most pleasant, most profitable and most effectuall.
Unto the Universall Synode also (when it may bee had) is to bee referred the judgement of controversies, not of all, but of those which are controversiae juris, controversies of right, neither yet of all those, but of the chief and most weigh∣ty controversies of the orthodox faith, or of the most hard and unusuall cases of Conscience. Of the controversies of fact there is another and different consideration to be had; for be∣sides that it would be a great inconvenience that plaintifes, per∣sons accused, and witnesses bee drawne from the most remote Churches, to the generall or universall Councell; the visible communion it self of all the Churches (on which the universal Counsel is built, and whereupon as on a foundation it leaneth) is not so much of company, fellowship, or conversation, as of Religion and Doctrine. All true Churches of the World doe indeed professe the same true Religion and faith; but there is beside this a certaine commixture and conjunction of the Churches of the same Nation, as to a more near fellowship, Page 17 and some acquaintance, conversing and companying together, which cannot be said of all the Churches thoughout the habi∣table World.
And for this cause, as in doctrinall controversies which are handled by Theologues and Casuists, and in those which belong to the common State of the orthodoxe Churches, the Nationall Synode is subo dinate and subjected to the universall lawfully constituted Synode, and from the Nationall to the Oecumenicall Synode (when there is a just and weighty cause) an appeal is open: So there is no need that the ap∣peals of them who complaine of injurie done to them through the exercise of Discipline in this or that Church, should goe beyond the bounds of the Nationall Synode; But tis most a∣greeable to reason that they should rest and acquiesce within those bounds and borders: And that the ultimate judgement of such matters bee in the Nationall Synode, unlesse the thing it selfe be so hard and of so great moment, that the knot be just∣ly thought worthy of a greater decider: In which case the controversie which is carried to the universall Synode, is rather of an abstract generall Theologicall proposition, then of the particular or individuall case.
Furthermore the Administration of the Ecclesiastick power in Consistories, Classes and Synodes, doth not at all tend to weaken in any wise, hurt or minish the authority of the civil Magistrate, much lesse to take it away or destroy it, yea ra∣ther by it a most profitable help cometh to the Magistrate, for∣asmuch as by the bond of Religion, mens consciences are more straitly tyed unto him. There hath been indeed phantasticall men who under pretence and cloak of Christian liberty, would abolish and cast out Lawes and Judgements, Orders also, De∣grees and Honours out of the commonwealth, and have been bold to reckon the function of the Magistrate armed with the sword, among evill things and unlawfull: But the Reformed Churches doe renounce and detest those dreames, and do most harmoniously and most-willingly confesse and acknowledge Page 18 it to be Gods will that the World bee governed by Lawes and Policy, and that hee himself hath appointed the civill Magi∣strate, and hath delivered to him the sword to the protection and praise of good men, but for punishment and revenge on the evill, that by this bridle, mens vices and faults may be re∣strained, whether committed against the first or against the se∣cond Table.
The Reformed Churches beleeve also and openly confesse the power and authority of Emperours over their Empires, of Kings over their Kingdomes, of Princes and Dukes over their Dominions, and of other Magistrates or States over their Com∣monwealths and Cities, to be the Ordinances of God himself, appointed as well to the manifestation of his owne glory, as to the singular profit of mankinde: And withall, that by rea∣son of the will of God himself revealed in his Word, wee must not onely suffer and be content that those doe rule which are set over their own territories, whether by hereditary or by elective right, but also to love them, fear them, and with all reverenee and honour imbrace them as the Ambassadours and Ministers of the most high and good God, being in his stead, and preferred for the good of their Subjects; to powre out Prayers for them, to pay tributes to them, and in all businesse of the Commonwealth which are not against the Word of God, to obey their lawes and edicts.
The orthodoxe Churches beleeve also, and doe willing∣ly acknowledge, that every lawfull Magistrate, being by God himself constituted the keeper and defender of both Tables of the Law, may and ought first and chiefly to take care of Gods glory, and (according to his place, or in his manner and way) to preserve Religion when pure, and to restore it when decayed and corrupted; And also to provide a learned and Godly Ministery, Schools also and Synodes, as likewise to re∣straine and punish as well Atheists, Blasphemers, Hereticks and Schismaticks, as the violaters of Justice and Civill Peace.Page 19
Wherefore the opinion of those Sectaries of this age is altogether to be disallowed, who, though otherwise insinu∣ating themselves craftily into the Magistrates favour, doe de∣ny unto him the authority and right of restraining Hereticks and Schismaticks, and do hold and maintaine that such persons how much soever hurtfull and pernicious enemies to true Re∣ligion and to the Church, yet are to bee tolerated by the Ma∣gistrate, if so bee he conceive them to bee such as no way vio∣late the Laws of the Commonwealth, and in no wise disturbe the civill Peace.
Yet the civill Power and the Ecclesiasticall ought not by any meanes to be confounded or mixed together: Both pow∣ers are indeed from God and ordained for his Glory, and both to be guided by his Word, and both are comprehended under that precept, Honour thy father and thy mother: So that men ought to obey both civill Magistrates and Ecclesiasticall gover∣nours in the Lord; To both powers their proper dignity and authority is to be maintained and preserved in force: To both also is some way entrusted the keeping of both Tables of the Law, also both the one and the other doth exercise some ju∣risdiction, and giveth sentence of judgement in an externall court or judicatory: But these, and other things of like sort, in which they agree notwithstanding, yet by marvellous vaste differences are they distinguished the one from the other, and the rights of both remaine distinct, and that eight manner of wayes, which it shall not bee amisse here to adde, that unto each of these Administrations, its own set bounds may bee the better maintained.
First of all therefore they are differenced the one from the other, in respect of the very foundation and the instituti∣on: For the politicall or civill power is grounded upon the Law of nature it selfe, and for that cause it is common to In∣fidels with Christians: The power Ecclesiasticall dependeth Page 20 immediatly upon the positive Law of Christ alone, that beer longeth to the Universall Dominion of God the Creator ove∣all Nations; but this unto the speciall and Oeconomicall King dome of Christ the Mediator, which hee exerciseth in the Church alone, and which is not of this World.
The second differences in the object, or matter about which: The power politick or civill is occupied about the outward man, and civill or earthly things, about Warre, Peace, conservation of Justice, and good order in the Commonwealth; also about the outward businesse or exter∣nall things of the Church, which are indeed necessary to the Church, or profitable, as touching the outward man, yet not properly and purely spirituall, for they doe not reach unto the soul, but only to the externall state and condition of the Mi∣nisters and Members of the Church.
For the better understanding whereof, tis to bee observed that so farre as the Ministers and Members of the Church are Citizens, Subjects, or Members of the Commonwealth, it is in the power of the Magistrate, to judge, determine and give sentence concerning the disposing of their bodies or goods; As also concerning the maintenance of the poor, sick, the ba∣nished, and of others in the Church which are afflicted; To regulate (so farre as concerneth the civill order) Marriages, Burials, and other circumstances which are common both to holy, and also to honest civill societies; to affoord places fit for holy Assemblies and other externall helps by which the sacred matters of the Lord may be more safely, commodious∣ly, and more easily in the Church performed: To remove the externall impediments of divine Worship or of Ecclesiasticall Peace, and to represse those which exalt themselves against the true Church and her Ministers, and doe raise up trouble against them.
The matter may further bee thus illustrated: There is al∣most the like respect and consideration of the Magistrate as he Page 21 is occupied about the outward things of the Church, and of the Ecclesiastick Ministery as it is occupied about the inward or spirituall part of civill Government, that is, about those things which in the Government of the Commonwealth be∣long to the conscience. It is one thing to governe the Com∣monwealth, and to make politicall and civill Lawes; ano∣ther thing to interpret the Word of God, and out of it to shew to the Magistrate his duty, to wit, how he ought to go∣verne the Commonwealth, and in what manner he ought to use the sword. The former is proper and peculiar to the Ma∣gistrate (neither doth the Ministery intermeddle or intangle it self into such businesses,) but the latter is contained within the office of the Ministers.
For to that end also is the holy Scripture profitable, to shew which is the best manner of governing a Commonwealth, and that the Magistrate as being Gods Minister may by this guiding Starre bee so directed, as that he may execute the parts of his office, according to the will of God, and may perfectly be instructed to every good work; yet the Minister is not said properly to treat of civill businesses, but of the scandalls which arise about them, or of the cases of conscience which occurre in the Administration of the Commonwealth: So al∣so the Magistrate is not properly said to be exercised about the spiritual things of the Church, but rather about those exter∣nall things which adhere unto and accompany the spirituall things.
And in such externall matters of the Church, although all Magistrates will not, yet all, yea even heathen Magistrates may and ought to aide and help the Church; Whence it is that by the command of God, Prayers are to be made also for an heathen Magistrate, that the faithfull under them may live a quiet life with all godlinesse and honesty. 1 Tim. 2. 1, 2.
Unto the externall things of the Church belongeth, not onely the correction of Hereticks and other troublers of the Page 22 Church, but also that civill order and way of convocating and calling together Synodes which is proper to the Magi∣strate; for the Magistrate ought by his authority and power both to establish the Rights and Liberties of Synodes assem∣bling together, at times appointed by the knowne and recei∣ved Law, and to indict and gather together Synodes occasio∣nally, as often as the necessity of the Church shall require the same; Not that all or any power to consult or determine of Ecclesiastick or Spirituall matters doth flow or spring from the Magistrate as Head of the Church under Christ; but bee∣cause in those things pertaining to the outward man, the Church needeth the Magistrates aid and support.
So that the Magistrate calleth together Synodes, not as touching those things which are proper to Synodes; but in re∣spect of the things which are common to Synodes with other meetings and civill publike Assemblies, that is, not as they are Assemblies in the name of Christ, to treat of matters spi∣rituall, but as they are publike Assemblies within his territo∣ries; for to the end that publike conventions may bee kept in any territorie, the licence of the Lord of that place ought to be desired. In Synodes therefore a respect of order, as well Civill as Ecclesiasticall is to bee had; And because of this Ci∣vill order, outward defence, better accommodation, toge∣ther with safe accesse and recesse, the consent and command∣ment of him who is appointed to take care of, and defend hu∣mane order, doth interveene.
Moreover when the Church is rent asunder by unhappy and lamentable schismes, while they who have raised the troubles, and have given cause of solemne gathering a Sy∣node (whether by their Heresie or Schisme or Tyranny, or any other fault of others) use to place the great strength and safeguard of their cause in declining and fleeing the triall and sentence of a free Synode, as being formidable to them; Who seeth not that they cannot be drawn to a publike and ju∣diciall tryall, nor other disobedient persons be compelled to Page 23 obedience without the Magistrate publike mandate and helpe?
The object of Ecclesiasticall power is not the same with the object of the Civill power, but much differing from it; for the Ecclesiasticall power doth determine and appoint nothing concerning mens bodies, goods, dignities, civill rights, but is imployed only about the inward man, or the soul; not that it can search the hearts, or judge of the secrets of the conscience, which is in the Power of God alone: Yet not∣withstanding it hath for its proper object those externalls which are purely spirituall, and do belong properly and most nearly to the spirituall good of the soul; Which also are tear∣med, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉the inward things of the Church.
Those things then wherein the Ecclesiasticall power is ex∣ercised, are the Preaching of the Word, the Administration of Sacraments, publike Prayer and Thanksgiving, the Ca∣techising and instructing of children and ignorant persons, the examination of those who are to come to the holy Communi∣on, the Ecclesiasticall Discipline, the Ordination of Mini∣sters, and the abdication, deposing, and degrading of them (if they become like unsavory salt) the deciding and deter∣mining of controversies of Faith and cases of Conscience, Canonicall constitutions concerning the treasury of the Church and collections of the Faithfull, as also concerning Ecclesiasticall rites, or indifferent things, which pertaine to the keeping of decency and order in the Church, according to the generall rules of Christian love and prudence contained in the Word of God.
Tis true that about the same things, the Civill power is oc∣cupyed, as touching the outward man, or the outward dis∣posing of divine things in this or that Dominion, as was said; not as they are Spirituall and Evangelicall Ordinances piercing into the conscience it self▪ But the object of the power Ec∣clesiasticall Page 24 is a thing meerly and purely spirituall; and in so far as it is spirituall) for even that jurisdiction Ecclesiasticall which is exercised in an outward court or judicatory, and which inflicteth publike censures, forbiddeth from the use of the holy Supper, and excludeth from the society of the Church) doth properly concerne the inward man, or the re∣pentance and salvation of the soul.
Surely the Faithfull and Godly Ministers, although they could doe it unchallenged and uncontrolled, and were therein allowed by the Magistrate (as in the Prelaticall times it was) yet would not usurpe the power of life and death, or judge and determine concerning mens honours, goods, inheritance, division of Families, or other civill businesses; seeing they well know these things to bee heterogeneous to their office: But as they ought not to entangle themselves with the judge∣ing of civill causes, so if they should bee negligent and slothfull in their owne office, they shall in that bee no lesse culpable.
To the object also of Ecclesiasticall power belongeth the assembling of Synodes, so far as they are spirituall Assemblies proper to the Church, and assembled in the holy Ghost; for being so considered, the governours of Churches after the ex∣ample of the Apostles and Presbyters, Acts 1 5. in a mani∣fest danger of the Church, ought to use their owne right of meeting together and conveening, that the Churches endan∣gered may be relieved and supported.
Thirdly, Those powers are differenced in respect of their formes, and that three wayes: For first the Civill power, al∣though in respect of God it bee Ministeriall, yet in respect of the Subjects it is Lordly and Magisteriall. Ecclesiasticall power is indeed furnished with authority, yet that authority is liker the Fatherly then the Kingly authority; Yea also tis purely Ministeriall, much lesse can it bee lawfull to Ministers of the Church to bear dominion over the flock.Page 25
Emperours, Kings, and other Magistrates are indeed appointed fathers of the Countrey, but they are withall Lords of their People and Subjects; Not as if it were permitted to them to bear rule and command at their own will and as they list (for they are the Ministers of God for the good and profit of the Subjects) yet it belongs to their power truely and properly to exercise dominion, to hold principality, to proceed imperi∣ously. It is indeed the duety of Ministers and Rulers of the Church to oversee, to feed as shepherds, to correct and re∣ctifie, to bear the keyes, to bee Stewards in the house of Christ, but in no wise to bee Lords over the house, or to go∣verne as Lords, or Lordlike to rule; yea in brief, this is the difference between the civill Magistrate and the Ecclesiasticall Ministery, in respect of those which are committed to their trust, that the lot of the former is to bee served or ministred unto, the lot of the latter to minister or serve.
Now we have one onely Lord which governes our souls, neither is it competent to man, but to God alone to have pow∣er and authori•y over consciences. But the Lord hath appoin∣ted his owne Stewards over his own Family, that according to his commandment they may give to every one their allow∣ance or portion, and to dispense his mysteries faithfully; and to them hee hath delivered the keyes, or power of letting in into his house, or excluding out of his house those whom hee himself will have let in or shut out. Matth. 16. 19. and 18. 18. Luk. 12. 42. 1 Cor. 4. 1. Tit. 1. 7.
Next, the civill power is indued with authority of com∣pelling, But it belongs not to the Ministery to compell the disobedient; If any compulsion bee in or about Ecclesiasticall matters, tis adventitious from without, to wit, from the help and assistance of the Magistrate, not from the nature of Ecclesiasticall power, from which it is very heterogeneous; and therefore if any Suspended or Excommunicate person should be found who shall be so stiffe-necked, and so impudent, Page 26 that at once he cast off all shame, and make no account at all of those censures, but scorne and contemne the same, or per∣adventure shall insolently or proudly engyre and obtrude him∣self upon the Sacrament, or being also filled with devillish malice do more and more contradict and blaspheme; the Ec∣clesiasticall Ministery in such cases hath nothing more to do by way of jurisdiction: But the Magistrate hath in readinesse a compelling jurisdiction and externall force, whereby such stubborne rebellious and undaunted pride may bee externally repressed.
Last of all, the power of the Magistrate worketh onely politically or civilly, according to the nature of the Scepter or Sword, maketh and guardeth civill Lawes, which some∣times also he changeth or repealeth, and other things of that kinde hee effecteth with a secular power: But the Ecclesiasti∣call power dealeth spiritually, and onely in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by authority entrusted or received from him alone: neither is it exercised without Prayer or calling on the Name of God; nor lastly doth it use any other then spiri∣tuall weapons.
The same sinne therefore in the same man may be punished one way by the civill, another way by the Ecclesiasticall power; by the civill power under the formality of a crime, with corporall or pecuniary punishment; By the Ecclesiasti∣call power, under the notion and nature of scandall, with a spirituall censure, even as also the same civill question is one way deliberate upon and handled by the Magistrate in the Se∣nate or place of Judgement; another way by the Minister of the Church, in the Presbytery or Synode; by the Magistrate so farre as it pertaineth to the Government of the Common∣wealth, by the Minister, so far as it respects the conscience; for the Ecclesiasticall Ministery also is exercised about civill things spiritually, in so far as it teacheth and admonisheth the Magistrate out of the Word of God what is best and most ac∣ceptable unto Gods or as it reproveth freely unjust judgements, Page 27 unjust warres, and the like, and out of the Scripture threat∣neth the wrath of God to be revealed against all unrighteous∣nesse of men; So also is the Magistrate said to bee occupied civilly about spirituall things.
Therefore all the actions of the civill Magistrate, even when hee is imployed about Ecclesiasticall matters, are of their own nature and essentially civill: he punisheth external∣ly Idolaters, Blasphemers, Sacrilegious persons, Hereticks, Prophaners of holy things, and according to the nature and measure of the sinne hee condemneth to death or banishment, forfeiture of goods, or imprisonment; he guardeth and un∣derproppeth Ecclesiasticall Cannons with civill authority, giveth a place of habitation to the Church in his territorie, re∣straineth or expelleth the insolent and untamed disturbers of the Church.
Hee taketh care also for maintaining the Ministers and Schools, and supplieth the temporall necessities of Gods Ser∣vants, by his command assembleth Synodes, when there is need of them; and summoneth, calleth out, and drawes to triall the unwilling, which without the Magistrates strength and authority cannot be done, as hath been alreadie said; he maketh Synodes also safe and secure, and in a civill way pre∣sideth or moderateth in them (if it so seem good to him) either by himself or by a substitute Commissioner. In all which the power of the Magistrate though occupied about spirituall things, is not for all that spirituall but civill.
Fourthly, they differ in the end: The immediate nearest end of civill power is, that the good of the Commonwealth may bee provided for and procured, whether it be in time of Peace, according to the rules of Law and counsell of Judges; or in time of Warre according to the rules of Militarie pru∣dence; and so the temporall safety of the Subjects may bee procured, and that externall Peace and civill Liberty may bee preserved, and being lost may be againe restored.Page 28
But the chiefest and last end of civill Government is, the glory of God the Creator, namely, that those which do evil be∣ing by a superiour Power restrained or punished, & those which doe good getting praise of the same, the Subjects so much the more may shun impiety and injustice, and that Vertue, Justice and the Morall Law of God (as touching those eternall due∣ties of both Tables, unto which all the posterity of Adam are oblieged) may remain in strength and flourish.
But whereas the Christian Magistrate doth wholly devote himself to the promoting of the Gospel and Kingdom of Christ, and doth direct and bend all the might and strength of his au∣thority to that end: This proceedeth not from the nature of his office or function, which is common to him with an Infi∣dell Magistrate; but from the influence of his common Chri∣stian calling into his particular vocation.
For every member of the Church (and so also the faith∣full and godly Magistrate) ought to referre and order his par∣ticular vocation, faculty, ability, power and honour to this end, that the Kingdome of Christ may bee propagated and promo∣ted, and the true Religion bee cherished and defended: So that the advancement of the Gospel and of all the Ordinan∣ces of the Gospel, is indeed the end of the Godly Magistrate, not of a Magistrate simply; or (if yee will rather) tis not the end of the office it self, but of him who doth execute the same piously.
But the end of Ecclesiasticall power, yea the end as well of the Ministery it self, as of the Godly Minister, is, that the Kingdome of Christ may bee set forward, that the pathes of the Lord bee made straight, that his holy mysteries may bee kept pure, that stumbling-blocks may bee removed out of the Church, lest a little leaven, leaven the whole lump; or lest one sick or scabbed sheep infect the whole flock; that the faithfull may so walk as it becometh the Gospel of Christ, Page 29 and that the wandering sheep of Christ may be converted and brought back to the sheepfold.
And seeing this power is given of the Lord, not to destru∣ction but to edification; Therefore this same scope is propoun∣ded in Excommunication, (which is the greatest and last of Ecclesiasticall censures) namely, that the soul of an offen∣ding brother may be gained to Christ, and that being stricken with fear, and the stubborne sinner filled with shame, may by the grace of God be humbled, and may (as a brand pluck∣ed out of the fire) bee snatched out of the snare of the devill, and may repent unto salvation; at least the rest may turne away from those which are branded with such a censure, lest the soul infection do creep and spread further.
Fifthly, they are distinguished by the effect. The effect of civill power is either proper or by way of redundance; The proper effect is the safety temporall of the Common∣wealth, externall tranquillity, the fruition of civill Liberty, and of all things which are necessary to the civill Society of men: The effect by way of redundance is the good of the Church, to wit, in so far as by execution of Justice and good Lawes, some impediments that usually hinder and disturbe the course of the Gospel, are avoided or taken away.
For by how much the more faithfully the Magistrate exe∣cuteth his office in punishing the wicked, and cherishing and encouraging good men, taking away those things which withstand the Gospel, and punishing or driving away the troublers and subverters of the Church; so much the more the orthodox Faith and Godlinesse are reverenced and had in esti∣mation, sinnes are hated and feared: Finally, all the subjects contained (as much as concerneth the outward man) with∣in the lists of Gods Law; whence also by consequence it hap∣peneth by Gods blessing, that the Church is defiled with fewer scandals, and doth obtaine the more freedome and Peace.Page 30
But the proper effect of the Ecclesiasticall power, or keyes of the Kingdome of heaven is wholly spirituall; for the act of binding and loosing, of retaining and remitting sins, doth reach to the soul and conscience it self (which cannot be said of the act of the civill power:) And as unjust Excom∣munication is void, So Ecclesiasticall censure being inflicted by the Ministers of Christ and his Stewards according to his will, is ratified in heaven, Matth. 18. 18. and therefore ought to be esteemed and acknowledged in like manner as in∣flicted by Christ himself.
Sixthly, they are also differenced in respect of the subject: The politick power is committed sometimes to one, some∣times to more, sometime by right of election, sometime by right of succession: But the Ecclesiasticall power is compe∣tent to none under the New Testament by the right of succes∣sion, but he who hath it must be called by God and the Church to it; neither was it given by Christ to one either Pastor or Elder, much lesse to a Prelate, but to the Church, that is to the consistory of Presbyters: Tis confessed indeed, and who can bee ignorant of it, that the power (as they call it) of order doth belong to particular Ministers, and is by each of them apart lawfully exercised? But that power which is commonly called of jurisdiction is committed not to one, but to the unity, that is to a consistory; therefore Ecclesiasticall censure ought not to be inflicted but by many. 2 Cor. 2. 6.
Seventhly, they differ as touching the correlative. God hath commanded that unto the civill power, every soul, or all Members of the Commonwealth, of what condition and estate soever be subject; for what have wee to doe with the Papists, who will have them whom they call the Clergy or Ecclesiasticall persons, to bee free from the yoke of the ci∣vill Magistrate? The Ecclesiasticall power extends it self to none other subjects then unto those which are called Brethren, or Members of the Church.Page 31
Eighthly, there remaineth another difference in respect of the distinct and divided exercise of authority. For either power ceasing from its duty, or remitting punishment, that doth not (surely it ought not) prejudice the exercise of the other power; namely if the Magistrate cease to do his duty, or do neglect to punish with secular punishment those malefactors which by profession are Church Members: Neverthelesse, it is in the power of the Governours of the Church, by the bridle of Ecclesiasticall Discipline to curb such men; yea also by vertue of their office they are bound to doe it; and on the other part, the Magistrate may and ought to punish in life and limme, honours or goods, notwithstanding of the offenders repentance or reconciliation with the Church.
Therefore the one sword being put up in the scabbard, it is free and often necessary to draw the other. Neither power is bound to cast out or receive him whom the other doth cast forth or receive: The reason whereof is, because the Eccle∣siasticall Ministery doth chiefly respect the repentance to salva∣tion, and gaining of the sinners soul; wherefore it also im∣braceth all kindes of wicked men repenting, and receiveth them into the bosome of the Church: The Magistrate pro∣poseth to himself another and much differing scope; for even repenting offenders are by him punished, both that Justice and the Lawes may be satisfied, as also to terrifie others; hence it is that absolution from Ecclesiastick censure freeth not at all the Delinquent from civill judgement and the externall sword.
Seeing then there are so many and so great differences of both Offices, and seeing also that the function of Ministers and El∣ders of the Church is not at all contained in the office of the Magistrate; neither on the other part, this is comprehended within that; Magistrates shall no lesse sin in usurping Eccle∣siasticall power, ministring holy things, ordaining Ministers, or exercising Discipline Ecclesiasticall, then Ministers should Page 32 sin in rushing into the borders of the Magistrate, and in thrusting themselves into his calling.
Neither are those powers more mingled one with other, or lesse distinguished, where the Magistrate is a Christian, then where he is an Infidell; For as in a beleeving Father and in an Infidell Father, the rights of a Father are the same, so in a Christian Magistrate, and in an Infidell Magistrate, the rights of Magistrates are the same; So that to the Magistrate conver∣ted to the Christian Faith, there is no accession of new right, or increase of civill power, although being indued with true Faith and Piety, he is made more fit and willing to the under∣going of his office and the doing of his duety.
So then the Word of God and the Law of Christ which by so evident difference separateth and distinguisheth Ecclesi∣asticall Government from the Civill, forbiddeth the Christian Magistrate to enter upon or usurpe the Ministery of the Word and Sacraments,, or the juridicall dispensing of the keyes of the Kingdome of Heaven, to invade the Church-Government, or to chalenge to himself the right of both swords, spirituall and corporall; But if any Magistrate (which God forbid) should dare to arrogate to himself so much, and to enlarge his skirts so far, the Church shall then straightway be constrained to complaine justly, and cry out, that though the Pope is changed, yet Popedome remaineth still.
It is unlawfull moreover to a Christian Magistrate to with∣stand the practise and execution of Ecclesiasticall Discipline, (whether it be that which belongs to a particular Church, or the matter be carried to a Classe or Synode) Now the Magi∣strate withstandeth the Ecclesiastick Discipline, either by pro∣hibitions and unjust Lawes, or by his evill example stirring up and inciting others to the contempt thereof, or to the tram∣pling it under foot.
Surely the Christian Magistrate (if at any time hee give Page 33 any grievous scandall to the Church,) seeing he also is a mem∣ber of the Church, ought no wayes disdaine to submit him∣self to the power of the keyes; Neither is this to be marvel∣led at, for even as the office of the Minister of the Church is no wayes subordinate and subjected to the civill power, but the person of the Minister, as he is a member of the Common wealth is subject thereto: So the civill power it self, or the Magistrate, as a Magistrate, is not subjected to Ecclesiastick power; yet that man who is a Magistrate ought (as hee is a member of the Church) to be under the Churches censure of his manners, after the example of the Emperour Theodosius, unlesse he will despise and set at nought Ecclesiastick Disci∣pline, and indulge the swelling pride of the flesh.
If any man should again object that the Magistrate is not in∣deed to resist Ecclesiasticall Government, yet that the abuses thereof are to be corrected and taken away by him: The an∣swer is ready, in the worst and troublesome times, or in the decayed and troubled estate of things, when the ordinance of God in the Church is violently turned into tyranny, to the treading down of true Religion, and to the oppressing of the Professors thereof, and when nothing almost is found or whole, divers things are yeelded to be lawfull to godly Magi∣strates, which are not ordinarily lawfull for them, that so to extraordinary diseases extraordinary remedies may be applyed. So also the Magistrate abusing his power unto tyranny, and making havock of all, tis lawfull to resist him by some extra∣ordinary wayes and meanes, which are not ordinarily to bee allowed.
Yet ordinarily and by common or known Law and right in settled Churches, if any man have recourse to the Magistrate to complain, that through abuse of Ecclesiastick Discipline, injury is done to him, or if any sentence of the Pastors and Elders of the Church, whether concerning Faith or Disci∣pline, do displease or seem unjust unto the Magistrate himself; it is not for that cause lawfull to draw those Ecclesiasticall Page 34 causes to a civill tribunall, or to bring in a kinde of politicall or civill Popedome.
What then? Shall it be lawfull ordinarily for Ministers and Elders to do what they list, or shall the Governours in the Churches, glorying in the Law, by their transgression disho∣nour God: God forbid. For first, if they shall trespasse in any thing against the Magistrate or municipall Lawes, whe∣ther by intermedling in judging of civill causes, or other∣wise disturbing the peace and order of the Common-wealth, they are lyable to civill tryall and judgements, and it is in the power of the Magistrate to restrain and punish them.
Again it hath been before shewed, that to Ecclesiasticall evils Ecclesiasticall remedies are appointed and sitted, for the Church is no lesse then the Common-wealth, through the grace of God, sufficient to it self in reference unto her own end: and as in the Common-wealth, so in the Church, the errour of inferior judgements and Assemblies, or their evil Government, is to bee corrected by superior Judgements and Assemblies, and so still by them of the same order, lest one order be confounded with another, or one Government bee intermingled with another Government. What shall now the adversaries of Ecclesiasticall power object here, which those who admit not the yoke of the Magistrate may not bee ready in like manner to transferre against the civill Judicato∣ries and Government of the Common-wealth? Seeing it hap∣peneth sometimes that the Common-wealth is no lesse ill Go∣verned then the Church.
If any man shall prosecute the argument, and say that yet no remedy is here shewed, which may bee applyed to the injustice or errour of a Nationall Synode: surely he stumbleth against the same stone, seeing he weigheth not the matter with an equall balance; for the same may in like sort fall back and be cast upon Parliaments, or any supreme Senate of a Common-wealth: for who seeth not the judgement of the Page 35 supreme civill Senate to be nothing more infallible, yea also in matters of Faith and Ecclesiasticall Discipline, more apt and prone to errour (as being lesse accustomed to sacred Stu∣dies) then the judgement of the Nationall Synode? What medicines then, or what soveraigne plaisters shall be had which may be fit for the curing and healing of the errors and misca∣riages of the supreme Magistrates and Senate? The very like, and beside all this, other and more effectuall medicines by which the errors of Nationall Synods may bee healed, are possible to be had.
There wanteth not a Divine Medicine and soveraigne Balme in Gilead; for although the Popish opinion of the in∣fallibility of Counsels, be worthily rejected and exploded; yet tis not in vaine that Christ hath promised, he shall be pre∣sent with an Assembly, which indeed and in truth meeteth to∣gether in his Name; with such an Assembly verily he useth to be present by a spirituall aide and assistance of his own Spirit, to uphold the falling, or to raise up the fallen. Whence it is that divers times the errors of former Synods are discovered and amended by the latter: sometimes also the second, or af∣ter thoughts of one and the same Synode are the wiser and the better.
Furthermore, the line of Ecclesiasticall subordination is longer and further stretched then the line of civill subordina∣tion; for a Nationall Synode must be subordinate and subject to an universall Synode, in the manner aforesaid, whereas yet there is no Oecumenicall Parliament or generall civill Court acknowledged, unto which the supreme civill Senate in this or that Nation should bee subject. Finally, neither is the Church altogether destitute of nearer remedies, whether an universall counsell may be had or not.Page 36
For the Nationall Synode ought to declare, and that with greatest reverence, to the Magistrate, the grounds of their sen∣tence, and the reasons of their proceedings, when hee de∣mandeth or enquireth into the same, and desireth to bee satis∣fied: but if the Magistrate neverthelesse do dissent, or cannot by contrary reasons (which may be brought, if hee please) move the Synode to alter their judgement, yet may he require and procure that the matter be again debated and canvassed in another Nationall Synode; and so the reasons of both sides be∣ing throughly weighed, may be lawfully determined in an Ecclesiasticall way.
But as there is much indeed to be given to the demand of the Magistrate; so is there here a two-fold caution to be used: for first, notwithstanding of a future revision, it is necessary that the former sentence of the Synode, whether concerning the administration of Ecclesiastick Discipline, or against any heresie, be forthwith put in execution; lest by lingering and making of delayes, the evil of the Church take deeper root, and the gangrene spread and creep further: and lest violence be done to the consciences of Ministers, if they be constrained to impart the signes and seales of the Covenant of Grace to dogs and swine, that is, to unclean persons, wallowing in the mire of ungodlinesse; and lest subtile men abuse such interims or intervals, so as that Ecclesiasticall Discipline altogether decay, and the very decrees of Synods be accounted as cob∣webs, which none feareth to break down.
Next it may be granted that the matter may be put under a further examination, yet upon condition, that when it is come to the revision of the former sentence, regard may be had of the weaker which are found willing to bee taught, Page 37 though they doubt, but that unto the wicked and contentious tempters, which do mainly strive to oppresse our liberty which we have in Christ, and to bring us into bondage, we do not for a moment give place by subjecting our selves; for what else seek they or wait for, then that under the pretence of a revising and of new debate, they cast in lets and impediments ever and anone, and that by cunning lyings in wait they may betray the liberty of the Church, and in processe of time may by open violence more forceably breake in upon it, or at least constrain the Ministers of the Church to weave Penelope's web, which they can never bring to an end.
Moreover, the Christian Magistrate hath then only dis∣charged his office in reference to Ecclesiasticall Discipline, when not onely he withdraweth nothing from it, and ma∣keth no impedient to it, but also affordeth speciall furtherance and help to it, according to the Prophecie, Isa. 49. 23. And Kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and Queens thy nursing mothers.
For Christian Magistrates and Princes embracing Christ and sincerely giving their names to him, doe not only serve him as men, but also use their office to his glory, and the good of the Church; they defend, stand for, and take care to propa∣gate the true Faith and Godlinesse, they afford places of ha∣bitation to the Church, and furnish necessary helps and sup∣ports, turne away injuries done to it, restraine false Reli∣gion, and cherish, underprop, and defend the Rights and Li∣berties of the Church; so farre they are from diminishing, changing or restraining those Rights, for so the condition of the Church were in that respect worse, and the Liberty there∣of more cut short, under the Christian Magistrate, then under the infidell or heathen.Page 38
Wherefore seeing these nursing fathers, favourers, and defenders, can doe nothing against the Trueth, but for the Trueth, nor have any right against the Gospel, but for the Gospel; and their power in respect of the Church whereof they bear the care, being not privative or destructive, but cumulative and auxiliary, thereby it is sufficiently cleare, that they ought to cherish, and by their authority ought to establish the Ecclesiasticall Discipline; but yet not with im∣plicite faith, or blinde obedience: For the Reformed Churches doe not deny to any of the faithfull, much lesse to the Magistrate, the judgement of Christian prudence and dis∣cretion concerning those things which are decreed or deter∣mined by the Church.
Therefore, as to each Member of the Church respective∣ly, so unto the Magistrate belongeth the judgement of such things, both to apprehend and to judge of them; for although the Magistrate is not ordained and preferred of God, that he should be a judge of matters and causes spirituall, of which there is controversie in the Church: Yet is hee questionlesse judge of his own civill act, about spirituall things; namely of defending them in his own Dominions, and of approving or tolerating the same; and if in this businesse hee judge and determine according to the wisdome of the flesh, and not ac∣cording to the wisedome which is from above, he is to ren∣der an account thereof before the supream Tribunall.
However the Ecclesiasticall Discipline, according as it is ordained by Christ, whether it bee established and ratified by civill authority, or not, ought to be retained and exercised in the Society of the faithfull (as long as it is free and safe for them to come together in holy Assemblies) for the want of Page 38 civill authority is unto the Church like a ceasing gaine, but not like damage or losse ensuing; as it superaddeth nothing more, so it takes nothing away.
If it further happen (which God forbid) that the Magistrate do so farre abuse his authority, that hee doth straitly forbid what Christ hath ordained; yet the constant and faithfull ser∣vants of Christ, will resolve and determine with themselves, that any extremities are rather to be undergone, then that they should obey such things, and that wee ought to obey God ra∣ther then men; yea they will not leave off to performe all the parts of their office, being ready in the mean time to render a reason of their practise to every one that demandeth it, but specially unto the Magistrate, (as was said before.)
These things are not to that end and purpose proposed, that these functions should be opposed one against another, in a hostile posture, or in termes of enmity, then which nothing is more hurtfull to the Church and Commonwealth, nothing more execrable to them who are truely and sincerely zealous for the house of God (for they have not so learned Christ:) but the aime is, First and above all, that unto the King of Kings and Lord of Lords Jesus Christ the onely Monarch of the Church, his own prerogative Royall (of which also him∣self in the World was accused, and for his witnessing a good confession thereof before Pontius Pilate, was unjustly con∣demned to death) may be fully maintained and defended.
Next, this debate tendeth also to this end, that the pow∣er as well of Ecclesiasticall censu•e as of the civill sword be∣ing in force, the licentiousnesse of carnall men, which desire that there be too slack Ecclesiasticall Discipline or none at all, may be bridled, and so men may sin lesse, and may live more Page 40 agreeably to the Gospel. Another thing here intended is, that errours on both sides being overthrowen, (as well the errour of those who under a fair pretence of maintaining and defen∣ding the rights of Magistracie, do leave to the Church either no power, or that which is too weak; as the errour of others, who under the vaile of a certaine suppositious and imaginary Christian liberty, do turne off the yoke of the Magistrate) both powers may enjoy their owne Priviledges; adde hereto that both powers being circumscribed with their distinct bor∣ders and bounds, and also the one underpropped and strength∣ned by the help of the other, a holy concord betweene them may be nourished, and they may mutually and friendly imbrace one another.
Last of all, seeing there are not wanting some unhappy men, who cease not to pervert the right wayes of the Lord, and with all diligence goe about to shake off the yoke of the Ecclesiasticall Discipline, where now tis about to bee intro∣duced, yea also where it hath been long agoe established, and as yet happily remaineth in force, it was necessary to obviate their most wicked purposes; Which things being so, let all which hath been said, passe with the good leave and liking of those orthodoxe Churches in which the Discipline of Excom∣munication is not as yet in use: neither can any offence easily arise to them from hence; yea (if the best conjecture doe not deceive) they cannot but rejoyce and congratulate at the de∣fence and vindication of this Discipline.
For those Churches doe not deny but acknowledge and teach, that the Discipline of Excommunication is most agree∣able to the Word of God, as also that it ought to bee restored and exercised; Which also heretofore the most learned Za∣chary Vrsine in the declaration of his judgement concerning Page 41 Excommunication, exhibited to Prince Frederick the third Count Elector Palatine, the title whereof is, Judicium de Disciplina Ecclesiastica &c. Excommunicatione, &c.
For thus he, In other Churches where either no Ex∣communication is in use, or tis not lawfully administred, and neverthelesse without all controversie, it is confessed and openly taught, that it ought justly to bee received and bee of force in the Church: and a little after, Lest also your Highnesse by this new opinion doe sever your self and your Churches from all other Churches, as well those which have not Excommunication, as those which have it; For∣asmuch as all of them doe unanimously confesse, and al∣wayes confessed that there is reason why it ought to bee in use.
To the same purpose it tendeth which the highly esteemed Philip Melancthon in his Common places, chap. of civill Magistrates doth affirme: Before (sayeth he) I warned that civill Places and Powers are to bee distin∣guished from the adhering confusions which arise from other causes, partly from the malice of the devill, partly from the malice of men, partly from the common infirmity of men, as it cometh to passe in other kindes of life and Go∣vernment ordained of God. No man doubteth, that Eccle∣siasticall Government is ordained of God, and yet how ma∣ny and great disorders grow in it from other causes. Where he mentioneth a Church Government distinct from the civill, and that jure divino, as a thing uncontroverted.Page 42
Neither were the wishes of the chief Divines of Zu∣rick and Berne wanting, for the recalling and restoring of the discipline of Excommunication. So Bullinger upon 1 Cor. 5. And hitherto (faith he) of the of the Ec∣clesiasticall chastising of wickednesse, but here I would have the brethren diligently warned, that they watch, and with all diligence take care that this wholesome medicine thrown out of the true Church, by occasion of the Popes avarice, may be reduced, that is, that scandalous sins bee punished, for this is the very end of Excommunication, that mens manners may be well ordered, and the Saints flourish, the prophane being restrained, lest wicked men by their impu∣dencie and impiety increase and undoe all. It is our part ô brethren with greatest diligence to take care of these things; for we see that Paul in this place doth stirre up those that were negligent in this businesse.
Aretius agreeth hereunto. Problem. Theolog. loc. 33. Magistrates doe not admit the yoke, they are afraid for their honours, they love licentiousnesse, &c. The com∣mon people is too dissolute, the greatest part is most corrupt, &c. In the mean while I willingly confesse, that wee are not to despaire, but the age following will peradventure yeeld more tractable spirits, more milde hearts then our times have. See also Lavater agreeing in this, Homil. 52. on Nehem. Because the Popes of Rome have abused Ex∣communication for the establishing of their owne tyrannie, it cometh to passe, that almost no just Discipline can be any more settled in the Church, but unlesse the wicked bee re∣strained, all things must of necessitie runne into the worst condition. See besides, the opinion of Fabritius upon Psal. 149, 6, 7, 8, 9. of spirituall corrections, which hee Page 43 groundeth upon that Text compared with Matthew 16. 19. and 18. 18. John 20. 23.
It can hardly bee doubted or called in question, but besides these, other learned and Godly Divines of those Churches were and are of the same minde herein, with those now cited; and indeed the very Confession of Faith of the Churches of Helvetia, Chap. 18. may bee an evi∣dence hereof. But there ought to bee in the mean time a just Discipline amongst Ministers, for the doctrine and life of Ministers is diligently to be enquired of in Synodes: Those that sinne are to be rebuked of the Elders, and to be brought againe into the way, if they bee curable; or to be deposed, and like wolves driven away from the flock of the Lord, if they bee incurable. That this manner of Sy∣nodicall censure, namely of deposing Ministers from their office for some great scandall, is used in the republike of Zurick, Lavater is witnesse, in his book of the Rites and Ordinances of the Church of Zurick, Chap. 23. Surely they could not be of that minde, that Ecclesiasticall Dis∣cipline ought to bee exercised upon Delinquent Ministers onely, and not also upon other rotten Members of the Church.
Yea the Helvetian Confession in the place now cited, doth so taxe the inordinate zeal of the Donatists and Ana∣baptists (which are so bent upon the rooting out of the tares out of the Lords field, that they take not heed of the danger of plucking up the wheat) that withall it doth not obscurely commend the Ecclesiasticall forensicall Discipline, as distinct from the civill Power, and seeingPage [unnumbered] (say they) tis altogether necessary that there bee in the Church a Discipline; and among the Ancients in times past Excommunication hath been usuall, and Ecclesiasti∣call courts have been among the People of God, among whom this Discipline was exercised by prudent and Godly men: It belongeth also to Ministers according to the case of the times, the publike estate and necessitie, to moderate this Discipline; Where this rule is ever to be held, that all ought to be done to edification, decently, honestly, without tyrannie and sedition; The Apostle also witnesseth, 2 Cor. 13. that to himself, was given of God a Power unto edifi∣cation, and not unto destruction.
And now what resteth but that God bee intreated with continuall and ardent Prayers, both that hee would put into the hearts of all Magistrates zeal and care to che∣rish, defend, and guard the Ecclesiastick Discipline, toge∣ther with the rest of Christs Ordinances, and to stop their eares against the importunate suites of whatsoever claw-backs which would stirre them up against the Church; and that also all Governours and Rulers of Churches, be∣ing every where furnished and helped with the strength of the holy Spirit, may diligently and faithfully execute this part also of their function, as it becometh the trustie servants of Christ, which study to please their owne Lord and Master, more then men.
Finally, all those who are more averse from Eccle∣siastick Discipline, or ill affected against it, are to be ad∣monished and intreated through our Lord Jesus Christ, that they bee no longer entangled and enveagled with carnall prejudice, to give place in this thing to humane affections, Page 31 and to measure by their owne corrupt reason spirituall Dis∣cipline, but that they doe seriously think with themselves and consider in their mindes, how much better it were, that the lusts of the flesh were as with a bridle tamed, and that the repentance, amendment, and gaining of vici∣ous men unto salvation may be sought, then that sinners bee left to their own disposition, and bee permitted to fol∣low their owne lusts without controllment, and by their evill example to draw others headlong into ruine with themselves; and seeing either the keyes of Discipline must take no ruste, or the manners of Christians will certainly contract much ruste; what is here to be chosen, and what is to bee shunned, let the Wise and Godly, who alone take to heart the safety of the Church, judge.