A LATE DIALOGVE Betwixt a Civilian, and a Divine, concerning the present condition of the CHURCH of ENGLAND, &c.
GOOD Morrow to you good Sir.
I am glad to see you Sir, will you take a walk with me this morning, and tell me what good newes yee have heard, for I have not yet been in Westminster Hall, the place most infected with the Athenian disease.
I can tell you no newes at this time.
You look as you were not well pleased to day, pray you tell me, have you heard any bad newes from the North or from the West.
None truly, but this I confesse, that though I cannot but allow those who from their affection to the Cause, are inquisitive of newes from severall quarters, and la∣bour to make some good use of what they heare; yet for mine own part, one thing sticks with me, which suf∣fereth me not either to be so curious in seeking, or so Page 2 joviall in hearing newes, as many others are. The truth is, I am more afraid and apprehensive of our owne, then of our enemies victories.
This is a most strange paradox, what can you mean by it? I hope you are not turned malignant.
If it be Paradoxall, yet I am sure it is Orthodoxall, I remember judicious Calvin said the same of the Ger∣man warres in his time. There is more danger, said he, like to come by our owne then by our enemies victory. I desire his words may bee well observed, and applyed. I dare say, God is more gracious to us in continuing this war of ours, then if he should answer our desires in put∣ting an end to it presently. When God blesseth our forces with any great successe, nay when hee doth but draw back his afflicting hand a little, and giveth us some lightning of our eyes, O how doe we by and by forget God, and slight both Hu•iliation and Reformation. * Then Iesurum forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the rock of his •alvation.* But, when he slew them, then they sought him, and returned and inquired after God early. There were never serious and deep thoughts, either in the Parliament, or in the Kingdome, of fasting and praying, of covenanting with God, of purging our hearts, our lives, our families, of reforming the Church, according to the word, of building the Temple accor∣ding to the patterne, of caring for the things of Jesus Christ more then for their own things; never but when we felt Gods hand smart and heavy upon us. And if now Page 3 the sword of the Lord should be still, and England a quiet habitation, every man sitting under his own vine, and under his owne figtree: I verily believe our great State∣Physitians should heale the wound of the daughter of Sion slightly, and daube the wall with untempered mor∣ter, and the Church of God in this Kingdome should have dry breasts, and a miscarrying wombe, instead of bringing forth the manchild of Reformation, now stick∣ing in the birth, but having no strength to come forth, till some new pains and pangs quicken and carry through the work.
I must confesse the Reformation of our selves and our families hath been,* and is still, too much neglected. But for Nationall and Church-Reformation, I doe not know what can be more done then is done, considering our intestine divisions among our selves, which as Mr. Fox observeth was the undoing of the Church and of Religi∣on in King Edwards dayes, and is like to prove the bane of Religion and Reformation in our dayes. Ita dum sin∣guli pugnant universi vincuntur:* as Tacitus speaketh of the ancient Brittish.
Sir, I desire that first of all this may be laid downe as a sure Principle, that the purity and liberty of the Gos∣pel, and of the Ordinances of Jesus Christ, is to bee more esteemed of, and sought after then all or any thing in this world. That it is said as well to States and Parlia∣ments, as to particular persons:*Seek yee first the King∣dome of God and the righteousnesse thereof, and all these things shall be added unto you. The setling of Religion is to be looked upon, as causall, not as consequent to the peace and prosperity of the Kingdom.* Doe but prove the Lord Page 4 now herewith,* and see if he will not appoint salvation for walls and b•••marks, if he will not honour those that honour him, if he will not be zealous for those that are zealous for him. The Trojans believed that Troy could not be ta∣ken except their idoll Palladium were taken away from them which being once taken away by Vlysses and Diome∣des,* they observed that shortly thereafter their Town was destroyed. Arno•ius tells us that when the I•age of Iupiter was throwne down in the Capitoll,* and was lying upon the ground, the heathenish So•th-savers did fore∣tell sad and heavy things which should never be remo∣ved till Iupiter were set in his owne place; whic• i• it were no done, that they did in vain hope for the preser∣vation of the lawes, or the healing of their homebred divisions. Shall those Pagans rise up in judgement a∣gainst us Christians, who doe so overly and slightly goe about the building of the house of God, and the ere∣cting of the throne of Jesus Christ; who care for some∣thing else more then for his Church and Kingdome, his glory and his ordinances, who seek our owne things, not the things which are Jesus Christs.
No man can say against this, that true Religion is the Alpha and Omega of a Kingdomes happinesse, and that it is their surest foundation and strongest bullwark of Peace, Liberties, and Lawes. And I trust the Parlia∣ment will ever be most tender and carefull of it, and put it in its own place as they have frequently professed in their Declarations, and really manifested in calling and keeping together an Assembly of learned and pious Di∣v•nes, the results of whose debates and consultations t•ey will take to their consideration in due time, for set∣ling the government of the Church, and the worship of God.
If you would really and carefully indeavour, to doe what you professe to intend, I have no more to say, but that the successe is to be committed to God, you having done your duty. But assuredly the practises doe not an∣swer to the professions, nor the performances to the pro∣mises.
For that I must tell you a story which I remember that I have read, in Diodorus Siculus of Pharnabazus who after many slow preparations, did at last lead forth Ar∣taxerxes his Army against the Egyptians. This man be∣ing asked by Iphi•rates, why he was so nimble and ready in discourse, and so slow in action, why he did promise so much, and performe so little: answered, because hee was master of his words but King of his actions: mean∣ing that actions were not so much in his power as words.
All things are possible to him that believeth. Doe not say with the sluggard, There is a Lyon in the way. If you would but doe your duty in going about the thing, trust God with the event. Now assuredly it is your duty to carry on the cause of Religion in the first and princi∣pall place, which that I may the more presse upon you, I will adde unto that which hath been said, the notable example of Solomon, 1. King. 6.37, 38. & 7.1. In the fourth year was the foundation of the house of the Lord laid, in the moneth Zif, and in the eleventh year in the moneth Bull (which is the eight month) was the house finished through∣out all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. So was •e seaven yeares in building it. But Solo∣mon was building his own house thirteen yeares. Neither did he begin to build his own house, till those seven Page 6 yeares were ended, and the house of the Lord fully per∣fected, as appeareth clearly by 2. Chron. 8.1. and it came to passe at the end of twenty yeares, wherein Solomon had built the house of the Lord, and his owne house. After all which (as followeth in that place) hee took care for store-Cities, and fenced Cities, for tribute, and for his navy. Tostatus and other Interpreters observe, that Solo∣mon looked first to the Lords matters, and afterwards to his owne matters.* And Iosephus his observation is very much to be taken notice of. The building of the Temple (saith he) which did continue for seven yeares be∣ing finished, he went about the building of the Palace, which in the thirteenth yeare, he did scarcely finish, for hee did not take so much care of this work, as of the building of the Tem∣ple, which though both large and more glorious then can be be∣leeved, was through Gods assistance perfected in the foresaid space: but the Palace though very farre inferiour to the magnificence of the Temple, yet the materialls thereof not being so long before prepared, and the house being to be buil∣ded for the King, not for God, it was the more slowly brought to perfection.
But I beseech you where is the fault with us? and what could be more done then is done?
O but my heart bleeds to think how it goeth for the present, and how it is like to goe for the future with this distracted unsetled Church, what fruits have wee yet reaped of our many petitions and indeavours for refor∣mation of Religion, of our solemn Covenant, of the learned debates and long consultations of the Assembly of Divines, Meethinks that which was said of Ephraim, Hos. 13.13. agreeth too too much to England. The Page 7 sorrows of a travelling woman shall come upon him, he is an •n∣wise Son, for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children. I wish we may beware of that which some stories have observed to have been a most unhappy errour in the Emperour Frederick 3. who did so far con∣nive at all things, that when he was put in mind to look to this or that, to prevent this or that danger, hee was wont to answer as Faelix did, the time of amending those things was not yet come, hee would wait for a more convenient season; which season hee could never see? I am perswaded it lyeth heavy upon the spirits of thousands beside my selfe, to know that every man doth now in Religion what seems good in his own eyes, Errors and Schismes doe multiply, in most places of the King∣dome; there is a darknesse instead of divination, and peo∣ple are like sheep that have no shepheard: and for ought I can see, betwixt our forsaking of the old, and finding of a new way, wee are fallen in a wildernesse where there is no way, O when shall I once see Religion setled?
When the warre shall be husht, the State ordered and composed, the Peace of the Kingdome socured; it is not to bee expected till then that the Parliament can have much leisure to look to Church matters: yet they will no doubt, doe the best that may be for the interim. Marvell not if I say more, that the Parliament doth wisely in moving so slowly. The slow and wary motions of Fabius did overcome Ha••db••, whereas the heat and suddennesse of Minutius did indanger the Common∣wealth. Suddain courses (I doubt) shall not so much glad us in the beginning, as grieve us in the end.
I have read in some Polititians, that though that of Page 8Augustus. —Festina lente,* doe well agree to calme and peaceable times: yet Alexander his 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉nihil cunctando, is fitter for times of trouble and warre, and so they reconcile the one with the other▪ Kekerm. discurs. de consilio quaest. 7. It is not safe to dispute long, in the time of a present combustion, nor to con∣sult long about the cure, when the patient lyes a dying; But I desire to argue from the principles of my owne profession: God did of old reprove his people, because they said, The time is not yet come, the time that the Lords house should be builded. This they said at that time when Iudah and Benjamin had powerfull adversaries, when the land was not secured, nor the walls of Ierusalem built. They might have pleaded for themselves enough of this kind, but all this could not excuse them at Gods hands: he would have them build the Temple before the walls of Ierusalem. And in this they harkened to the Prophets of God, and did so. Thereafter God taketh themselves to witnesse, whether he had not blessed them from that very day when they laid the foundation of the Temple: Nay I dare say it is not only good Divinity, but good Policy, that the Parliament should mind the things of Christ, more then their own things: for if (as I suppose) you will believe Matchiavell, hee teacheth you that the setting up of the ordinances of Christ, is the best way to make a Kingdome flourish in prosperity and peace. I conclude therefore that procra•tinations in reforming Religion may prove very pernitious aswell to the Com∣mon-wealth, as to the Church. And for my part I must confesse, I am afraid that the Parliament hath felt, and shall yet feel Gods hand against them i• other things, because of their doing the work of the Lord so negli∣gently, and at the best by halfes. I wish the Honoura∣ble Page 9 House of Commons may remember what they were about at that instant, when the sad newes of the dispersi∣on of the Army in the West, were brought to them: And if they shall inquire at God,* as Iob did, Show mee wherefore thou contendest with me. I doubt not but they shall heare the voice of his servants, the voice of his rods, and the voice of their owne Consciences telling them that he hath somewhat against them: that hee healeth not the breaches of the land, because they heal not the breach of the daughter of Sion: that hee makes the successe of the warre to halt, because they halt betwixt two, or ra∣ther many opinions.
I doe fully agree with you if all this be understood of the fundamentals of Faith and Religion, and the power of godlinesse. But if so be, you meane of the govern∣ment and discipline of the Church, then you make Mountaines of mole-hills, and put Hercules sh•e upon an infants foot, whiles you hold that God is not pleased, and that the Kingdome cannot be blessed, unlesse the or∣der and discipline of the Church bee established so and so as you would have it. I doe not acknowledge either the Episcopall way, or the Presbiteriall, or the C•ngrega∣tionall, to be Iure divino, But that all things of that kind are left in such an indifferency, that they may bee moul∣ded and fashioned diversly according to the different formes and constitutions of Common-wealths, and al∣tered as much and as often, as each State shall find most convenient for it selfe. If you can convince me that I am in an error, go to, let me heare your reasons.
I shall indeavour by Gods assistance to satisfie you. But first of all let me use this humble liberty with you, Page 10 once to put you in mind of the Apostles premonition,*Let no man deceive himselfe: if any man among you seem to be wise in this world, let him become a foole that hee may bee wise. Hee that most denieth his owne naturall judge∣ment in supernaturall verities, and is not conformed to this world, but is transformed by the renewing of his mind; shall best prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.* Absque te sapere, est desipere. O Lord, faith Augustine, to be wise without thee, is to be mad. Do not therefore measure Scripturall truths, by Politicall principles, but contrariwise, and let your judgement be unbyassed and unprejudiced, when light is set before you. And whereas it seemeth to you a veniall thing, if not altogether lawfull to take a latitude in all such things as are not substantiall (though Scripturall) truths, and may (you conceive) admit a variation upon State-considerations. Remember I beseech you that it is the pleasure of God to take notice of, yea purposely to try our obedience,*Etiam in minimis: For hee that is faithfull in that which is least, is faithfull also in much, and he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much. How was the Lord offended with Ieroboams setting up of Altars at Dan and Bethel: yea even with the Kings of Iudah, for not taking away the high places, though Ieroboam migh have pleaded that it was extreamly dangerous (in regard of the warre betwixt him and Rehoboam) that his subjects should goe up to Ierusalem to sacrifice unto the Lord there. And the Kings of Iudah might plead, that it was too burthensome for all the people to be tyed to go to Ierusalem with their Sacrifices: that God would have mercy and not sacrifice; especially considering that they held the foundation, and sacrificed to the Lord only; And this variation from the law of Moses, being in no Page 11 substantiall thing, but only in the circumstance of place. In like manner Ieroboam thought not fit to have the feast of Tabernacles upon the fifteenth day of the seventh moneth, but upon the fifteenth day of the eight moneth, when the fruits of the earth were more fully gathered in: he would observe the feast according to the law in all the substantialls, but would not bee tyed to the cir∣cumstance of time. But God doth utterly reject his wor∣ship,* because Ieroboam had devised it of his owne heart. If therefore the will of Jesus Christ can be made to ap∣pear from his word, even concerning the form of Church-government and Discipline, and ceremonies of worship, that thus and thus he would have us to do, will you then quarrell at these things, because stamped with a I• di∣vinum? Will you draw out your neck from this yoke, because it is Christs yoke? Will you submit and obey because these things are ordinances of Parliament, and you will not submit because they are ordinances of Christ.
You say right, if you can make it appeare that Jesus Christ hath revealed his will and Commandements, not only concerning faith and manners, but how he would have his Church governed and ordered. Now this is it which you have yet to prove.
For that, I shall desire you to consider, that Jesus Christ is the only Head and King of his Church, that the government of his Church is a part of his Kingly office:* that the Government is committed into his hand, and the key of the house of David is laid upon his shoulder; that the Father hath set him as a King upon his holy hill of Zion,*to raign over the house of Iacob for ever, and of his Page 12 Kingdom there shall be no end. As therefore he hath fully and faithfully executed his Priestly office in making attonement for our sins by the sacrifice of himselfe, and still making intercession in heaven for us. And his Pro∣pheticall office in revealing the whole Counsell of God, and teaching his people by his word and spirit, what he would have them to do. So he hath no lesse fully & faith∣fully executed his Kingly office and Legislative power, in providing by his Statutes and Ordinances for all the necessities of his Church; and appointing by whom and after what manner he will have his house governed, what spirituall Courts and Judicatories hee would have ere∣cted, how he would have them constituted, by what rules to proceed, how to censure offences. It is an old ob∣servation, they are the best lawes, which leave least to the power of the Judge to doe as he list. It were a bad administration of the supreame power in any Kingdom, if no certaine kinds of subordinate officers, nor no cer∣tain kind of government were appointed, but all this left to the liberty of every Country or City. Now Je∣sus Christ is more wi•e, and provident, and faithfull, in the government of his whole Church, then ever King or Parliament was in the government of an earthly King∣dome; and hath therefore appointed Officers, Courts, Censures, and Lawes, for the right ordering thereof; and hath not left these things to bee determined by th•• or that State at their pleasure. I should wish you and all that are of your mind, to study better the Kingly office, and prerogative Royall, of Jesus Christ.
I conceive the Kingly office of Christ to consist in this, that he preserveth, strengtheneth, and delivereth the Church invisible, and all the members of his mysti∣call Page 13 body from the malice of the Divell, and the wicked world, and also ruleth and commandeth their hearts by his spirit, to walk in the wayes of his obedience. But that the Kingly office of Christ reacheth so farre, as to the externall government and order of a visible politi∣call ministeriall Church, that I still doubt of.
You observe not that my argument did conclude this very thing, at which you stick, that Christ hath appoin∣ted a certain policy and government, and certain kinds of officers for the Church, because hee hath fully and faithfully discharged his Kingly office in providing for all the necessities of his Church. And that hee raignes and rules in his Church, not only mystically, but politi∣cally considered; I suppose you cannot deny, if you ob∣serve that otherwise a visible politicall Church is a bo∣dy without a head, and subjects without a King. There∣fore it is the ordinary expression of our Divines against Papists, that the government of the Church is partly Monarchicall in regard of Christ our King and Law-gi∣ver; partly Aristocraticall in regard of the Ministers and Officers, and partly Democraticall in regard of certaine Liberties and Priviledges belonging to people.
I would understand whether the Reformed Churches hold the forme of their Ecclesiasticall government to be jure divino, for I have heard, that it was introduced a∣mong them only in a prudentiall way.
I shall give you some cleare instances of their judge∣ment, such as come to my remembrance. In the Book of the policy of the Church of Scotland, I read thus.
This power and policy of the Church should lea•e upon the Page 14 word immediately, as the onely ground thereof, and should bee taken from the pure fountaines of the Scriptures, the Church hearing the voice of Christ, the only spirituall King, and be∣ing ruled by his Lawes. In the French confession it is said, we beleeve that this true Church ought to bee governed by that Regiment or Discipline, which our Lord Iesus Christ hath established.•n the Belgick Confession, I find words to the same purpose▪ We beleeve, say they, That this Church ought to be ruled and governed by that spirituall Regiment, which God himselfe hath delivered in his word. See Harm; Confes. Sect. 11. If the question were only this, whether the Divine right of this or that form of Church-Go∣vernment is to be mentioned and held forth in the or∣dinance of Parliament, for my part I should not con∣tend much for that, the businesse going right otherwise. But it belongeth at least to the Assembly of Divines to satisfie the consciences of men by holding forth the in∣stitution and ordinance of Jesus Christ: which if it bee not done, our proceedings shall not be conformable to those of other Churches.
Well then, goe on; you did bring an argument from the Kingly office of Jesus Christ. Let me heare what other arguments you have to make it appeare that God hath in his word descended so farre into paricularities with us, as to appoint a certain forme of Church-go∣vernment.
This will appeare best, when the particular forme of Church-government with the Scripturall grounds of it, shall be taken into consideration. This government is Iure divino. Ergo, a government is Iure divi••. This were too large a subject for our conference. But I ••mit Page 15 you to what is largely written concerning it. I shall on∣ly put you in mind, that in all ages God hath by posi∣tive Lawes descended into many particularities with man. Take for instance beside the positive Law before the fall, the Commandement not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evill, other positive Law• before the Law, such as that of the distinction of clean and uncleane beasts, Gen. 7. the Law not to eat blood, Gen. 9. the Law of circumcision, Gen. 17. Under the Law, beside morall and forensicall observances, there were many ceremoniall Statutes. And under the Gos∣pell, Christ and his Apostles have left another Law, which though it lay opon us, neither many nor burthen∣some performances, yet bindeth us to such and such things in Ecclesiasticall policy. The particulars we find in the Acts of the Apostles, and in the Epistles, especial∣ly to Timothy and Titus, and Rom. 12. and 1. Cor. 12.
Many particulars of that kind there are in the Acts and Epistles of the Apostles. But that those things were intended as perpetuall and binding ordinances, is a great question. And beside I have heard some learned men make a distinction betwixt Ius di•inum; and Ius Apo∣stolicum.
This distinction was used by those that denyed the jus divinum of the Lords day. But surely i• i• an i•• grounded distinction, and those that make most use of it, are forced also to distinguish betwixt Ius divinum, and Ius Mosaicum, holding that though God was the Author of the morall Law, yet Moses (no• God) was the Author of the judiciall and ceremoniall Law: as the Apostles did write some things as Christs Heraulds: other things Page 16 as Pastors or Bishops of the Churches; that they were Authors of the latter,* promulgators only of the for∣mer, and that therefore the former only were Iure divi∣no. Thus saith Salmeron, but hee is in this contradi∣cted by Bellarmine, Maldonat, Suarez, and others. Lorinus in Psal. 88.32. noteth, that it was one of the errors of Valentinus and of the Gnosticks, that the Decalogue only was from God; and other Lawes from Moses and the Elders of Israel. But what saith the Apostle himselfe after hee hath given rules concerning the policy of the Church, Let the Prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge; and the Spirits of the Pro∣phets are subject to the Prophets. Let your women keep silence in the Churches, &c. Then he addeth, 1. Cor. 14.37. If any man think himselfe to be a Prophet or spirituall, let him acknowledge, that the things that I writ unto you, are the Commandements of the Lord. Doe wee not also find, the laying on of hands reckoned among those cat•cheti∣call heads which the Apostles did deliver as perpetuall to all the Churches, Heb. 6.2. Papists understand the Episcopall confirmation. Dwerse of our writers under∣stand ordination of Ministers, and the severall kinds of Church officers. However it is agreed on both sides, it is a thing belonging to the policy of the Church, not to the foundation of faith or piety. I adde that the directi∣ons given to Timothy and Titus are standing ordinances for all the Churches, as may be proved from 1. Tim. 3.15. and 6.14. and 2. Tim. 2.2.
But Ratio mutabilis facit praeceptum mutabile. The reason why there were ruling Elders and Deacons, and Church-censures at that time was, because there was no Chri••ian Magistrate. So that under a Christian Magi∣strate Page 17 there is no necessity of such officers, government, or censures in the Church.
I answer, First there is no ground at all in Scripture for such a distinction, for the Scripture holds not out one form of Church-government, for times of persecution, another for times of peace. But rather one form to bee perpetuall and continued, till the second coming of Jesus Christ. Rev. 2.24, 25. That which ye• have already, hold fast till I come. So 1. Tim. 6.14. before cited, and the like. 2. Chrysostome Hom. 12. in 1. Cor. doth shew di∣verse sinnes for which the best Law-givers had appoin∣ted no punishment. And where there are Christian Ma∣gistrates, yet there are no Lawes nor civill punishments for somethings which must needs fall within the com∣passe of Church-discipline, such as ignorance of God, neglect of family worship, living in malice, or envy, &c. 3. And though the civill or municipall Lawes should reach to all offences which are supposed to fall under the verge of Church-discipline, yet there is still a neces∣sary use of both. For instance, a Traitor, or a Murthe∣rer being excommunicated by the Church, is by the blessing of God gained to true repentance, humiliation, and confession, whereupon hee is loosed and remitted, and again received into the bosome of the Church: ne∣verthelesse the civill sword falleth upon him; were hee never so penitent, shall such a one either escape the civill sword because reconciled to the Church, or shall he after God hath given him mercy, and a great mea∣sure of repentance, die under the dreadfull sentence of excommunication, because Justice must bee done by the Magistrate. There is no way of avo•ding great inconveniences on both sides, but by holding the ne∣cessary Page 18 distinct uses both of the sword of the Magistrate, and censures of the Church. 4. And when they are most coincident, it is but materially or objectively, not formally: one and the same man must bee civilly punished, because justice and the law of the land so re∣quireth, and that the Common wealth may bee kept in Peace and Order; he must also bee Ecclesiastically cen∣sured, that his soule may be humbled, that hee may bee filled with godly sorrow, and with shame and confusi∣on of face, and drawn to repentance, (if possible) which the Church, not the Magistrate, driveth at.
I have heard it asserted by some learned men, that among the Jewes, there was no government nor disci∣pline in the Church distinct from the government of the State, yea, that there was no such distinction as Church and State, but that the Jewish Church was the Jewish State, and the Jewish State the Jewish Church; and if it was so among them (whose formes you take in many particulars for patterns) I would fain know why it may not be so among us.
Though the Jewish Church and Common wealth were for the most part not different materially, the same men being members of both, even as in all Christian Re∣publickes, yet they were formally different one from ano∣ther, in regard of distinct Acts, Lawes, Courts, Officers, Censures, and Administrations. For, 1. The Ceremoni∣all law given was given to them as a Church, the Judici∣all law given to them as a State. 2. They did not worship, doe sacrifice, pray, praise, &c. as a State; nor did they kill malefactors with the sword as a Church. 3. As the Lords matters and the Kings matters were distinguished, Page 19 so there were two different Courts for judging of the one and the other, 2. Chron. 19.8.11. Fourthly, when the Romans took away the Jewish State and Civill govern∣ment, yet their Church did remain. 5. The government of the State and the constitution thereof was not the same under the Judges, under the Kings, and after the capti∣vity: shall we therefore say that the Church was altered and new moulded, as oft as the Civill government was changed.* 6. Learned Master Selden hath rightly obser∣ved, that those Proselytes who were called Prosiliti ju∣stitiae, though they were initiated into the Jewish Religi∣on by Circumcision, Baptisme, and Sacrifice; and were free not only to worship God apart by themselves, but also to come into the Church or Congregation of the Is∣raelites,* and did get to themselvs the name of Jews: yet were restrained and debarted from Dignities, Magistra∣cies and preferments, as also from some marriages which were permitted to the Israelites. He addeth a simile of strangers initiated and associated into the Church of Rome, who yet have not the priviledge of Roman Citi∣zens: whence we gather most apparently a distinction of the Jewish Church and the Jewish State; for as much as those Proselytes were imbodied into the Iewish Church, and as Church-members did communicate in the holy ordinances of God,* yet they were not properly mem∣bers of the Iewish State, nor admitted to Civil privileges.
But I find no censure nor punishment of offences in the Iewish Church, except what the Civill power did in∣flict, no such censure as excommunication or separation from the Temple, Synagoue or ordinances. And since you have cited Master Selden for you, I will cite him a∣gainst you, for he saith in his late Book, that hee who was separate or excommunicated among the Jewes, Page 20 was not excluded from the Temple, Sacrifices or holy Assemblies, but only debarred from the liberty of Civill worship, so that he might not sit within foure cubits of off his companion or neighbour.
* I shall doe M. Selden so much right as to appeal from him to himself, for in another place where he writeth at greater length of the Jewish excommunication, he de∣scribeth it to have been a separation, not only from the former civill commerce and company in regard of that distance of foure cubits, but also from communicating together in prayer and holy Assemblies. And that it was so, it is not only the most received opinion of Protestant Divines, but even of those who have devoted themselves to the study of the Jewish Antiquities, such as Drusius, Iohannes Couh, L'Empereur, and others.
Brughton also in his Exposition of the Lords prayer, pag. 14. &c. tells us that the Jewish Church and the Apostolike Church, though they differed about traditi∣ons Page 21 and about the Messiah, yet for government they agreed. He giveth instance in these particulars, the rulers of the Synagogue, the readers of the Law, and the Prophets, the qualities of a Bishop, or Elder, the providing for the poor, the maner of excommunication and absolution, the laws to bridle Elders from Tyranny: All these are the same in both, saith he. Now these men were most exquisitely ac∣quainted with those studies and their Testimonies may serve instead of many more that may be added. Hereunto that distinction of 3. kinds of excommunication recei∣ved from Elias in Thesbyte, Niddui, Herem, & Sammatha, whether we understand as some doe, that Niddui was a se∣paration according to the ceremoniall law, and Herem the devoting of one to death, and capitall punishment; or whether we distinguish betwixt Niddui & Herem (which two only are mentioned in the law) as we use to doe be∣twixt excommunicatio minor, and major; which is the opi∣n•on of others.
It may be there was a separation or ejection from the Temple, Synagogue, & worship, but I deny that this was done judicially or by the sentence of a Court,* for as M. Selden observeth, the very letter of the law, not any judi∣ciall sentence did exclude the unclean from the Temple.
I answer, men were excluded from the Temple and worship, either for ceremoniall or morall uncleanes, the former is particularly determined in the law, the latter not so, but left as a necessary consequence from the law, for if God would have men kept back for ceremonial un∣cleanes, it may be for touching (though casually and un∣willingly) a vessell, a seat, a cloth, a body, or somewhat else that was unclean; surely it was much more his will that such as are morally unclean by a prophane or scan∣dalous life, should not be admitted. However it was ne∣cessary Page 22 that matters of fact should bee examined by a Court, whether they did fall within the verge of the law or not. But what will you say, if I give you scripture for excommunication, by a judiciall sentence. Ezra 10.8. we read of a mixed meeting of the Princes, Elders, Priests and Levites, where it was decreed that whosoever would not come to Ierusalem within 3. dayes, should be puni∣shed, with the forfeiture of all his substance; and himselfe separated from the congregation of those that had been carried away. A double punishment Civil and Ecclesiastical, for∣feiture and excommunication, according as that extraor∣dinary occasion made a conjuncture and concurrence of the Civill and the Ecclesiasticall Sanedrim at that time, Lyra, Hugo Cardinalis, Cajetan, and of ours Diodati, and Lavater, all upon the place (beside others who cite the place occasionally) do agree that the separation from the congregation (〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 as the 70. read it, it is Kahal in the Hebrew) is meant of excommunication from the Temple and worship: even as that casting out mentioned, Isa 66.5. So in the new Testament this iniquity was established by a law, that whosoever should confesse that Jesus was the Christ, should be cast out of the Synagogue, 10.9.22. and 12.42. and 16.2.
But there is not in all the law of Moses any syllable of such an excommunication as you speak of, except you take that to be it, which is often repeated in the law, that soule shall be cut off from among his people. Now that may be expounded either of capitall punishment and cutting off by the hand of the Magistrate; or (as Ainsworth and M. Selden following the most part of the Hebrewes ex∣pound it) of cutting off by the hand of God, that is, th•• God would not suffer such a one to live out halfe his dayes, but take him away by an untimous dea•h.
I know that both Jewish and Christian Interpreters have much differed among themselves, in expounding that commination of the Law. But I shall only offer my reasons against these two Glosses which you have mentioned, and then tell you what I conceive to be the true meaning. To expound all those places of the Ma∣gistrates cutting off men by death, were to make the Laws of God more bloody then Draco's: I appeal to your self, doe you thinke it at all credible, that God would have men put to death for eating of the fat, or the blood, though by chance, for making a perfume like the Preistly perfume to smell, for touching a dead body,* or a grave, or a Tent, wherein a man had died, or for touching something which he that was uncleane had touched, and not being sprinkled thereafter with the water of seperation: yet for these and the like ceremo∣moniall defilements and tresspasses, men were to be cut off from the Congregation of Israel Now for that other Exposition, of cutting off by the hand of God, that which they take for the ground and foundation of it, that is, that the cutting off, mentioned in the Law, is understood only of private sinnes, known to God only, and which could not be proved by wit∣nesses, this I say, if it could be proved, would indeed make good their Interpretation, but the truth is, it is a meere conjecture, for which they have no warrant in the Word. Nay, the Word is against it: for the end of that cutting off, w•s that the Children of Israel might feare to doe that, which they s•• so sore punished, Le∣vit. 17 4.5. Which use they could not make of a divine judgement inflicted for a private sinne. I know they doe further object from Levit. 17.10. & 20.5.6. that Page 24 the cutting off, was a work of God, not of men; But to that I say, it was not so, except in extraordinary cases, when men, who should have cut off the wicked; did it not: and this appears plainly from Levit. 20.4, 5. And if the people of the land hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not: Then (marke then, and in that case) I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off. Wherefore I conclude, that the cutting off in the Law, and especially, in the Ceremoniall Law, can be nothing else but Excommunication from the Church, and Communion in the holy things. Which as it is most received among our Expositors, so the Apostle. 1 Cor. 5. doth give us a hint of it: for as it is plaine from vers. 6, 7, 8. that he alludes to the history of the Passover, Exod. 12. so when he saith, vers. 13. Put away from a∣mong your selves that wicked person, he hath respect to, Exo. 12.19. Where it it is said, Whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the Congregation of Israel. All this I conclude with a Pas∣sage of Mr. Williams his bloody Tenent, cap. 121. where though he doth not acknowledg a spirituall excommu∣nication in the Jewish Church, yet he acknowledgeth such a coercive power in cutting off, as hath for the an∣titype and paralell of it Excommunication in the Ghristian Church. Out of that blessed temporall estate, (saith he) to be cast or carried captive, was their Excom∣munication or casting out of Gods sight. 2 Kings 17.23. Therefore was the Blasph•••• the false Prophet, the Idola∣ter, to be cast out, or cut off •••m this holy land: which pu∣nishment cannot be parrallelld by the punishment of any State or Kingdome in the world, but only by the excommunica∣ting or out-casting of person or Church from the fellowship Page 25 of the Saints and Churches of Christ Iesus in the Gospel; For this spirituall cutting off, he citeth 1. Cor. 5. Gal. 5. Behold he who hath pleaded most for the liberty of conscience, is forced to acknowledge the censure of Ex∣communication.
But can you show any warrant fro• the New Te∣stament for Church Censures and Excommunication, as an Institution and Ordinance of Christ. I know your Magna Charta, which you pretend to, is Mat. 18.17. Tell the Church, and if he heare not the Church, let him be unto thee, as an Heathen man, & a Publican. But the sence of that place, I take to be that which was given by Erastus and Bilson, that is, That in the case of private and civill injuries, the injured party should first of all seek right and reparation of the wrong, of the injuring party, which if it take not effect, then to doe it before witnesses, and if that also prevaile not, then to tell the Church, that is the Sanedrim of the Jewes, which was a civill Judicature, and if the man that hath done wrong, will not stand to the sentence of the Sanedrim, that then one should deale with him as with an Heathen, or a Publican, that is, complain of him to the Roman Em∣peror or his Deputies. Mr. Prynne, in his late Booke called Independency examined, pag. 10. following Ma∣ster Seldens judgement, holdeth, that by the Church, Matth. 18.17. is not meant any Ecclesiasticall Judica∣tory, but the Civill Court, or Sanedrim of the Jewes, Even as Ib. pag. 11. he holdeth the Assembly of the A∣postles Elders and Brethren, Act. 15. to be an undeni∣able Scripture Authority, for Parliaments as well as for Synods, to come together upon all like occasions. And as for these words, let him be thee as an Heathen Page 26 and a Publicane, he understandeth the meaning to be, that not the Church, but the party offended, is to avoid his company: taking the same to be meant, 2 Thes. 3.14. a place which I have also heard alledged for Church Dicipline, and Censures.
Though Mr. Prynne be a man much esteemed by me, both for his sufferings, and much good service done by him in the Church, yet I must say, he wrongs both the Truth and himself, in taking upon him to goe against the whole current of Interpreters, antient and moderne, without any evidence of reason: and he must remember, that in these particulars, hee doth not so much oppose the Independents, as all the Reformed Churches, while as he goeth about to throw out of their hands the chief Scriptures upon which they ground Church Discipline. Now all the circumstances of the Text, make against that Exposition, and prove, That it is not a Civill, but a Spirituall Court, which Christ there establisheth. For 1. those words, If thy Brother trespasse against thee, are not ment of personall or civill injuries (of which our Saviour Christ would not be Judge, Luke 12.14.) but as Augustine, Tostatus, and others doe rightly expound them, they are to be understood, of all manner of scan∣dalls, by which we trespasse against our Brother, in as much as we trespasse against the law of Charity, which commandeth us to edify one another, and to promote the spirituall good one of another: now when a Christi∣an doth not only not edify, but scandalize, which is a deterioration; yea, (so farre as lieth in him) a destru∣ction of his brothers soule; this is undeniably a great trespasse against his brother: which kind of trespasse, as the King, and head of the Church, Jesus Christ, Page 27 whose Kingdom is not of this World was to take spe∣ciall notice of: so the coherence and depend•nce of the Text, giveth further evidence, that this, and no other kinde of trespasses is here intended, there being so much spoken of scandalls in the preceeding passages of that Chapter.
2. As the case supposed, so the end proposed is spi∣rituall, that is, that the offended brother should reprove the offanding brother; and tell him his fault, and that for the good of his soul: If he shall heare thee, thou hast gained thy brother; that is, thou hast rescued his soule by Repentance, from sinne, and so from the wrath of God: wherein Christ had respect to that Law. Lev. 19.17. Thou shalt not hate thy Brother in thy heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sinne upon him.
3. The persons judging, are not civill but Ecclesia∣sticall, Tell it unto the Church, now in all the New Te∣stament, the name of the Church is not given to any Civill Magistrate. Nay Christ himself doth immedi∣ately give us notice, that by the Church there he means the Ministers and Rulers of the Church, for thus he ap∣plyeth it unto the Apostles, and their successors, What∣soever ye shall binde, &c. and if two of you shall agree, &c. And here by the way, I must tell you, that if the Jew∣ish Sanedrim were here mean• (as it is not) you could not thence conclude that a civill Court is meant, for there was an Ecclesiastical Sanedrim, distinct from the civill, as beside many other great Authors is proved by Con∣stantinus, l' Emp. Annot. in C••. Middoth, p. 188. and de Rep. Iud. p. 389. Which Ecclesiasticall Sanedrim were the rather to be understood in this Text, because the o∣ther Sanedrim was destroyed by Herod.
Page 284. The way and manner of proceeding, is also Ec∣clesiasticall, not civill; when Church Governours meet about those things, it must be with Prayer, vers. 19. and it must be in the Name of Christ, vers. 20. which places, though they well agree to all holy Assemblies and meetings for Worship, yet the context sheweth, that they are principally intended concerning Assem∣blies for Discipline and Church censures; and so Tosta∣tus, Hugo Cardinalis, with our own Divines, doe ex∣pound the Text.
5. The censure is spirituall, as appeareth both by the •llusion to the Jewish Excommunication (of which I have spoken before) in those words, let him be unto thee as a Heathen, or a Publican, and by the phrase of bind∣ing the soule, or retaining of sinnes, vers. 18. which po∣wer, our Lord elsewhere giveth to his Apostles, Mat. 16.19. Io. 20.23. formes of speech, which no where the Scripture useth of any civill power: only it is to be observed, that in these two places last cited, the Apo∣stles get power to binde and loose by their Doctrine and Preaching, but here, Mat. 18. to binde and loose by Discipline, as appeareth by the use to be made of witnesses, vers. 16. that is, potestas clavium doctrinalis: this potestas clavium disciplinalis. That is misticall: this politicall. And whereas it is objected, that the Text saith not, let him be to the Church, but, let him be to thee as an Heathen and a Publican. I answer, it is supposed, that he must be such in the judgement of the Church, before he be such to me. This Pareus upon the place, proveth from the words that follow, Whatsoever ye shall bind, &c. therefore saith he, the Church is first to bind him, that is, Excommunicate him, and then he is to be to me as an Heathen, and a Publican. Beside, if it were Page 29 not so, horrible confusion should follow, while as any private man may Excommunicate and cast off whom∣soever he judgeth to be disobedient to the Church, though peradventure he hath no just cause to judge so.
6. It was very farre from the minde of Jesus Christ, that his Disciples should for private injuries prosecute one another, before the Roman Emperour or his Depu∣tie: This being so much blamed by the Apostle Paul. 1 Cor. 6.1. Dare any of you, having a matter against ano∣ther, got to law before the unjust, vers. 6, 7. Brother go•th to law against Brother, and that before the unbeleavers. Now therefore, there is utterly a fault amongst you.
Can you shew any example or practice of such an Ex∣communication in the New Testament: for that place, 1 Cor. 5.5. I doubt shall not prove, there being not only great Authors, but great reasons for another Expo∣sition, as Mo•li•s sheweth in his V•tes. l. 2. tc. 11. namely that this delivering to Sathan, was for bodily afflictions and torments, which was not in the power of ordinary Ministers to doe, but was a Prerogative of the Apo∣stles.
If you will, I can debate that with you, both from that very Text, and from other reasons, that this deli∣vering to Sathan, was an act not of the Apostle alone, but of the Presbytery of Corinth, whereby is meant Ex∣communication, which is a cutting off from the Fel∣lowship of the Church, and so co•sequ•ntly. • delive∣ring to Sathan, who reignes without the Church, and holdeth captive at his pleasure the children of disobedi∣ence. Or if you will, I can take a shorter course with Page 30 you. For whatsoever may be the meaning of that phrase, tradere Satana, it is most plaine, that Excom∣munication is in that Chapter, vers. 6, 7. Know ye not, that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lumpe, purge out therefore the old leaven, verse 11. If any man that is cal∣led a Brother, be a fornicatour, &c. with su•h an one, no no• to •••e.* vers. 12. doe not ye •udge them that are within, vers. 13. Therefore put away from among your selves that wicked person. 2 Cor. 2.6. Sufficient to such a man, is this punishment or censure) inflicted by many. But I sup∣pose, I shall not need to prove Church-censures, and Excommunication in the Church of C•rin•h: which Moulins himself doth fully acknowledge to be held forth in that same place.
I will thinke further upon these things.
You may doe so, and withall, read what 〈◊〉 hath written against Erastus, and Wala•• against Wite••o∣gardus.
But tell me now your opinion of another matter, and that is concerning liberty of Conscience, and tolerati∣on of Hereticks and Se•taries for which there are so many bookes written of late, and so few against i•▪ I doe not know what you will pronounce of it, from the Principles of your Profession, but I beleeve, that as in Germany, France, Holland, Poland, yea under the Turkish Tyranny, contrary religions, and opposite pro∣fessions and practises, have been, and are tolerated upon State-principles, so it shall be Englands unhappinesse, though not to chose, yet to be necessitated to grant such a tolleration, for avoiding a rupture in the Kingdome, Page 31 and for preserving an Union against the common Enenmy.
This Question about the Toleration of those whose way is different from the common rule which shall be established, must be both stated and resolved, cum •ra∣no salis. We must remember to distinguish person• from Corporations or Churches, and both these from errors. Againe, to distingu sh persons, wh•ther godly and gra∣tious, or loose and libertin, whether moderate and peace∣able, or •actious and turbulent; whether such as have deserved well o• the publike, or such as have done either no service or a disservice. To distinguish Corporation, whether the Qu•stion be of such onely as have a present existence, or of all who shall joyne to such a way afterward. To distinguish err•rs, whether Practicall or Doctrinall onel•▪ whether fundamentall, or circafundamentall, or neither of the two. To di∣stinguish Toleration, whether absolute, or Hypotheti∣call and conditionall, whether any where, or in som• few certaine places onely, whether indifinite and gene∣rall, or limited and bounded, and if bounded, how far and how much: Whether •uch Toleration as may stand with the solemne league and Covenant, or such as is inconsistent therewith; whether such as is profita∣ble for the publike peace, or such as is apparently de∣structive thereto. These and the like particulars I doe not intend to fall upon at this instant. Only this I say, that to open a wide doore, and to grant an unbounded liberty unto all sort of Hereticks and Sect•ries, (which is the thing that the good Samaritan, and Iohn the Baptist, the blood, Tenent, and others of that kind do plead for as it is inconsistent with the solemne league and Covenant Page 32 of the three Kingdomes, by which we are obliged to endeavour the extirpation of Popery, Prelacie, Super∣stition, Heresie and Schism•, least we partake in other mens sinnes, and thereby be in danger to receive of their plagues: So it is in the owne nature of it, an error so pernicious, so abominable, so monst•ous, that it maketh all learned men to stand amazed, and taken with horrour, in so much that they can not at first gather their thoughts to put pen to paper against it. I know this liberty and Toleration was maintained by the Donatists of old and by the Socinians, Arminians, and Anabap∣tists of late ▪ but it hath beene constantly opposed by all that were sound and orthodoxe, both Ancient and Mo∣derne, who have asserted the lawfull use of a coercive powe• against those things, whereby (though under pre∣tence of conscience) God is openly dishonoured, soules ensnared and destroyed, faith or piety subverted and o∣verthrowne: and further, the compelling of the out∣ward man, though not to the practise of things indiffe∣rent (which compulsion I doe not allow) yet to the practise of necessary duties, and to the externall use of meanes and ordinances, by which through the blessing of God, mens hearts and consciences may be savingly affected and wrought upon. And I beseech you what else meaneth Asa's Covenant,*That whosoever would not seeke the Lord God of Israel should be put to death whether small or great,*whether man or woman. And what else meaneth Iosiahs Covenant,* whereof it is said, he caused all that were present in Ierusalem and Benjamin, to stand to it. And what else is that in Ezra, that whosoever would not come to Ierusalem to make a Covenant, and to put away the strange wives, all his substance should be forfeited, and himselfe separated from the Congregati∣on Page 33 of those that had beene carried away, that is, Excom∣municated. And what else is that other act of Iosiah in putting downe the Priests of the high Places.* And what say you to the Law of stoning those who did in∣tice the people to turne out of the way wherein the Lord commanded them to walke,* saying, Let us goe after o∣ther Gods and serve them.
I would rather heare some Arguments from the New Testament, for I doubt these from the Old Testament shall be more subject to exception.
To me it is plaine, that these things doe as much con∣cerne us now, as the Jewes of old, which whosoever denieth, must shew, that either we may take no rules nor patternes from the Old Testament: or that the fore∣said Lawes and practises were not intended by the ho∣ly Ghost to binde us, (as other things in the Old Te∣stament doe) but were ceremoniall and typicall, inten∣ded to bind the Jewes onely. Mr. Williams in his bloody Tenant (though I doe not remember that any where he answereth to those particular passages which I have cited, yet) perceiving that such arguments from the Old Testament can not be taken off without this answer, that all these were typicall and figurative: he therefore go∣eth much upon that ground, and so deviseth more types and figures in the Old Testament then ever any body did before him, and pleaseth himselfe with such fan∣cies and conjectures therein, as I dare say, will satisfie no indifferent Reader: and in effect making void by his principles all arguments from the Old Testament, so that we may not from the examples of the godly Kings of Iudah, teach Christian Magistrates what their du∣ty Page 34 is, nor argue thus, God commanded that the Kings of Iudah should have a copy of the Book of the Law by them, and read therein, that they should not multi∣ply wives, &c. Therefore Christian Princes should search the Scriptures,* should not multiply wives, &c. or thus. The Priests and Levites had a sufficient main∣tenance. Therefore so should the Ministers of the Go∣spell: or thus; The Jewes were commanded to rest from all servile labour on the Sabbath day. Therefore so should Christians on the Lords day: or thus; Warres were lawfull in the old Testament; Therefore they are lawfull still. Or the like. All these shall be cast aside, upon this ground, they were tipicall, therefore no pat∣terns to us.
But because you desire an Argument from the New Testament: I will convince your judgement from thence also: Sure I am, I have better grounds in the New Te∣stament, against the Toleration now in question, then Master Iohn Goodwin hath found for it, in his Text, Act. 5.38.39. He holdeth that we may build upon Gamali∣els speech, as Authorised by God, there being nothing in all this speech (excepting only the Historicall Instances, the truth of which, it seems was generally known, and is at∣tested by Iosephus their great Historian) but what is fully consonant with the Word of God, saith he. And so he ap∣proveth the Sceptik Principles of that Nullifidian, who razeth the very foundation of the Christian Faith, and maketh it a very doubtfull case whether the Apo∣stles Doctrine was from God, or from men. But I pro∣ceed to my Arguments. First, you shall doe well to re∣member what I said concerning Church censutes, from Matth. 18. under which scandalous and obstinate delin∣quents, doe fall, the pretence of Conscience, being no Page 35 exception for them. The Ministers of the Gospel have in readinesse to revenge all disobedience, 2 Cor. 10.6. The Angel of the Church of Ephesus is commended, be∣cause of his zeal, in that he could not beare those who called themselves Apostles and were not. Revel. 2.2. Contrariwise, the Angel of the Church of Perga••• is blamed, for this reason, because then hast there them that teach the doctrine of Balaam, &c. so hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. Revel. 2.14.15. that is, because thou hast tolerated them, and hast not cast them out. It is thy fault, that they are there in the Church. The like challenge is sent to the Angel of the Church of Thyatira, vers. 20. I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferedst that woman Iezebell, who cal∣leth her self a Prophetesse, to teach, and to seduce my ser∣vants, &c. That chapter is so cleare for the point, that Master Williams acknowledgeth it proves fully, that Christ hath endued the Ministers and Governours of his Church, with power to suppresse Heresy and errour, and the spreaders thereof, be who they will be. See the bloody Tenent. c. 57. So Iohn the Baptist. pag. 63. confesseth that the Church of Thy••ra was justly tax∣ed, not only for not controuling and reproving Iexebel, but also, in that they permitted her to seduce weak Christi∣ans, without cutting her off by the sword of the Spirit, the power of excommunication.
I was about to answer the same, that if those places prove any thing, it is onely the suppressing of Hereticks and Schismaticks by Church censures, not at all by the civill coercive power of the Magistrate.
I thought with my selfe, I should neede say no more, Page 36 having proved that Heriticks and Shismaticks, though miscarrying with so much opinion of conscience, as to thinke themselves Apostles or Prophets, may be cen∣sured and cast out of the Church (which is the case, Revel. 2.) I did never imagine but where the soule is punished with the greatest punishment which can be in∣flicted on earth, that is, Excomunication; much more may the body be punished by the Magistrate, as the de∣gree of the offence shall require: especially considering that the Magistrat is a nursing father to the Church,* and is to protect and assist her, not to suffer her autho∣rity and censures to be despised and set at nought. But to satisfie you yet more touching the Magistrats part, consider well that passage Rom. 13.4. For he is the Minister of God to thee for good, but if thou doe that which is evill be afraid, for he beareth not the sword in vaine: for he is the Minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evill.
This place and all that you can say in that kind doth not warrant nor iustifie persecution, for the cause of con∣science, but onely the punishment of all such evill do∣ers as doe disturbe the peace of the Kingdome, or the course of civill justice, oppose Magistrats or lawes, trai∣tors, rebells, murtherers, felons, and the like. Iohn the Baptist pag. 57. saith, If a breach of peace, the civill powers ought to redresse it. 1. Tim. 2.1.2. But for the Magi∣strate to interpose in matters meerly Ecclesiasticall, other∣wise then spiritually, and as a Minister of the Gospell, I find no warrant for it, in all the Gospel.
Now you are come to your last refuge wherein I know you put great confidence: but I am as confident Page 37 it cannot serve your turne, which I prove thus, 1. By this Tenent you give a more dangerous wound to the power of the civill Magistrate then you are aware of, for in stead of m•king him keeper of both Tables you make him keeper of the second Table on•ly, at least vindex of • onely, whereas God hath made him as well vindex as Custos utriusque Tabula. 2. In t•e place I last cited, the Apostle maketh no exception nor restri∣ction, but will have all evill doers (to which category I suppose Heretickes and Sedu•ers doe belong to be a∣fraid of vengeance by •he hand of the Magistrate.* 3. The Apostle there doth once and againe call the Ma∣gistrate, The Minister of God, as it were purposely put∣ting him in mind, that he judgeth not for man but for the Lord, and that he is to looke most to things pertai∣ning to God. 4. There may be a coincidencie of those things which you put assunder: for example, sup∣pose a Jesuite killing a Magistrate▪ or some other He∣reticke killing one who hath beene most opposite to him; or as sometime the case was) suppose men cau∣sing their children to goe through the f•re as a sacrifice to their God Molech,* all these (though murthers) ye••re done for Conscience sake, men being perswaded in their conscience, that they are doing good service to God, as it is said of those that killed the Apostles. What say you to that case▪ shall the punishment of those be per∣se ution for the cause of Co•science. 5. I cannot mar∣vell enough, that it should be heard from the mo•th of any Christian, that the Magistrate is to pun sh injuries done to the State, but not injuries done to the Chur•h▪ that he is to punish those who destroy mens bodies, but not those that destroy mens soules: that whoso∣ever will draw away people from the obedience of the Magistrate, and of the law of the Land, must not Page 38 be suffered: but they who will draw away people from the truth of the Gospel,* and from the wayes of God, such as Hymeneus and Philetus, who overthrow the faith of some,*and their word will eat, as doth a canker, must e∣scape unpunished. And so Christian Magistrates and States, shall take up the maxime which Tacitus tells was holden by Tyberius Caesar, Deorum injurias Diis cura esse: but for their part, they shall stand by as Gallio did, and care for none of those things. Be astonished at this, O ye heavens.
But in the meane time I can tell you one thing, that it is a mighty prejudice that lies in the mindes of many against the Prysbetery, that tyranny and rigour doe accompany it. And this now bringeth into my minde some other prejudices. I have seene a Booke come from Oxford, entituled, An Answer by Letter to a worthy Gen∣tleman, who desired of a Divine some reasons, by which it might appeare how inconsistent Presbyteriall Government is with Monarchy. In which I finde many things which breed an Odium of that Government. Among other things, it tells me,* that this is one of the Articles of the Presbyterian faith. No Minister preaching in Publike, se∣dition or Treason or railing at King, Councell, the Prince, Iudges, is accountable, or punishable by King, Parliament, Councell, or any Indicature whatsoever. But from all hee may appeale to the Sanhedrum or Consistory,*as the sole and proper competent Iudge. And as if this were a small thing not to subject to the Magisteate, they will have the Magistrate subject to them, insomuch that they may excommunicate the Magistrate, even the King him∣selfe if he obey them not: That the Presbytery hinde∣reth the liberty of trade and commerce,* disgraceth and desameth young women for conversing familiarly with Page 39 men, suffereth not Land-Lords to sue for their rents, and the like. That they bring all cases and causes under their cognition and judgement, sub formalitate scandali, under the notion of scandall, and for the glory of God. It tells also a number of Stories and practicall examples for confirmation of those particulars. What say you to that?
I have seen and read the book, which surely was writ∣ten by the speciall inspiration of the father of lies, that the •mple people who never yet sawe a Presbytery, may be made afraid of it, as of some hellish monster, as the French Friars made the people beleeve, that the Hugo∣nots were ugly monsters with Swines faces, and Asses eares. But men of understanding will not be taken with such bold and shamelesse calumnies as come from the pen of that son of Belial. I could name both the Author, and the lying Records of a persecuting Prelate, whence he borrowed his stories, in which there are many known untruths; and where there is any truth in the matters of fact which he relates, there is such addition of his own Interpretations of mens actions, such variation of cir∣cumstances, and such concealing of the true grounds, ends, and circumstances of such actions, as maketh them to appear quite another thing then they were. And if his stories of the speeches, actions, or opinions of particu∣lar men were all true (as they are not) yet how doth that prove that Presbyteriall government is inconsistent with Monarchy. Magistracie, Laws, Trading, Peace. &c. This must be proved from the principles or necessarie con∣comitants of Presbyteriall government, not from the actions or speeches of this or that private man, especially they having so said or done not in any reference to Pres∣byteriall Page 40 Government, but occasionally in reference to such or such persons or purposes. As now if I should rake up the dunghill of all the Treasons, Conspiracies, Op∣pressions, Persecutions, Adulteries, Blasphemies, Heresies, Atheisticall opinions, Superstitions, Prophanities of such or such Prelates, (of which the Histories of former times and late experience are full) and thence conclude that Episcopall government is inconsistent with Monar∣chy, with the safety of the Kingdome, with the liberty of the Subject, with the peace of the Church, with piety, &c. Surely that same Author would be ready to answer me, that this must be proved from their received princi∣ples, nor from particular practises. Now that Ministers preaching Treason,* or committing any other trespasse punishable by the law of the land, is not to be judged by the Civill Magistrate, nor any Civill Court, but may ap∣peale from all these to the Ecclesiasticall Judicatory, is none of our principles: but it is a Popish and Prelati∣call usurpation, as appeareth by the Brittish Ecclesiasti∣call constitutions, collected by Spel••an. So that the Ox∣fordian missed his mark extreamly when he charged it upon Presbyterians, who hold that Ministers are as much subject unto, and as punishable by the Magistrate, as any other of the Subjects. And as Ministers are subject to every ordinance of man, so we suppose the Christian Magistrate will not take it ill to be subject to all the or∣dinances of Jesus Christ, I shall give you a short but Page 41 clear account of our judgement concerning both these, in the words of the second book of the Discipline of the Church of Scotland, Chap. 1. As Ministers are subject to the judgement and punishment of the Magistrate in ex∣ternall things, if they offend: so ought the Magistrates to submit themselves to the Discipline of the Church, if they transgresse in matters of C••science and Religion. And lest you should think this proper to the Classicall and Syno∣dicall government: M. Cotton will tell you it is just so in the Congregationall government, of the keyes of the King∣dome of heaven, pag. 53. As the Church (saith he) is sub∣ject to the sword of the Magistrate in things which concerne the Civill Peace: so the Magistrate (if Christian) is sub∣ject to the keyes of the Church, in matters which concerne the peace of his conscience, and the Kingdom of heaven. The latter cannot bee denied in thesi, no more then the former: and when it comes to the Hypothesis, there is much to bee trusted to the prudence and discre∣tion of Pastors and ruling Elders; and when all comes to all, the failing is more like to be in the defect, then in the excesse. But to say, that a Magistrate, because a Ma∣gistrate, is not bound in conscience to submit himselfe to the ordinance of Discipline, though he shedde inno∣cent blood, commit adultery, bl•spheame the name of God, &c. may inferre for ought I know, that a Magi∣strate is not bound to be subject to any of all the ordi∣nances of Jesus Christ. It is condemned as an error in Plato, that he held it lawfull for a Magistrate to make an officious lie, for the good of the Common-wealth; but not lawfull for a Subject. The error of our Civili∣ans is greater, who will have Magistrates so to rule us, that Christ shall not rule them.
I suppose it is high time to adjourne, till we 〈◊〉 another occasion of amicable and free confe•e•• which time it is like enough our opinions ••y••〈◊〉 accord. The points of which we have talked a••〈◊〉 many and weighty, which therefore I will take to 〈◊〉 second thoughts. And so much for this time, Far-〈◊〉.
Consider what I say, and the Lord give you understand••• in all things.