A survey of the Survey of that summe of church-discipline penned by Mr. Thomas Hooker ... wherein the way of the churches of N. England is now re-examined ...
Rutherford, Samuel, 1600?-1661.
Page  54


Of degenerate members of the Church.

A Church constituted of fit matter may be corrupted by their breaking forth into scandals, as is clear in Corinth, Galatia, Sardis, and the Church of the Iewes, to whom the Lord threatneth*a bill of divorce, Hos. 22. and there is a necessity of toleration un∣till by a judiciall proceeding the evill be tryed, the party convinced, or out off.

Ergo the corrupting of a Church constitute gives no allowance to bring in corrupt members: but by the contrary, if a pentinaclo•• member should be removed, then such a member should not be ad∣mitted.

Ans. 1. This is the argument of Mr. Robinson, and most are borrowed from Separatists and Anabaptists in this theme, if such as are known to be no visible members must be tolerated, untill censures be applied and they convinced or cut off, in that intervall the Church must either give the seales to them, and their seed, or not. If the former be said, then must the Church knowingly prophane the holy things of God. And so visible members as visi∣ble saints, and under that formall reduplication as visible con∣verts, are not admitted to the Church, but as tolerated scanda∣lous persons, upon whom the Church bestowes Church-ad∣mission and seales, untill it be seen they are converts visible, which destroyeth a principall pillar of the brethrens way. If the latter be said, that the seales are to be denyed to them and to their seed, in the intervall, then the visible Saintship so judged is not the formall reason of membership and Church-privi∣ledges, * to wit, of seales; for hence seales are denyed to such members as are seen to be scandalous, but not casten out, which againe destroyeth the same principle. 2. The argument presup∣poseth that none are excommunicate, but under the formall reason of visible non-converts. Ergo David, Peter, and such are Page  55 undoubtedly visible converts, cannot be excommunicate for adulterie or murther, though visible they remaine as to all o∣ther things (save in the matter of Uriah, and the one particular scandall for which they are excommunicate, sound and savoury saints) but the Church must judge David, Peter, and all such * whom they excommunicate, non-converts and unchosen to glory; which is against the brethrens way also: for if none be admitted Church-members, but such as according to the com∣mand and revealed will of God are judged converts visible; Ergo all casten out are no members, and so non-converts, and should not have been admitted but holden out, though in other things they be visible converts. 3. M. H. cannot produce any argu∣ment of M. R. wherein he argueth simply from corrupted and degenerate members, such as the Jewes were, Act. 13. who blaspheme, contradict and openly put away the Gospel, that such may be admitted and planted in Churches. But Sardis, for the few names therein, is one of the seven visible Churches and golden Candlesticks among which Christ walks, Rev. 3. and M. Hooker yeilds the seales were due to these members and their feed, though they had a name of living members and were dead, so they were not visibly scandalous; but M. R. his argument is not brought, but a new one, for M. R. saith that God made a covenant, Deu. 29. with the body of the people for the elects sake, said to be hard, blind, D••. 29. 3. stiff-necked, Deu. 31. 27. a that time but professed repentance, Deu. 29.

3. Our Saviours aime and decree or intention of saving (which is hidden from us) and the Lords deep dispensation in long bearing with the Church of the Jewes, and calling them Lo-ammi, not my people, Hos. 2. (for that he cites) is no rule to us, but the revealed will; nor is the Church to forbear to * censure so long as God punisheth not; yea then should the Priests have admitted into the Temple the worshippers of Baal, such as offered in the high places to other strange Gods; for God cast not the people of the Jewes nor such Idolaters utterly off at that time, but he sent Prophets to them. And there is a farre other consideration of a whole Church, and of Iezabel a single person. He will not remove his candlestick from Sardis, but he offends that Iezabel is not casten out.