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.

CHAP. II.

Of visible Saints. 2. M. H. reasons to prove that his visible Saints are only members of the visible Church, are dis∣cussed.

MAster Hooker first states the question, then brings reasons * to prove such visible Saints to be the onely matter of the visible Church. Saints in charity are such in practise and professi∣on (if we look at them in course, by experience or report) as they savour so much, as they had been with Iesus. From all which so much as rational charity directed by rule from k Word, a man cannot but conclude, but there may be some seeds of some spirituall work of God in the soule.

Answ. If any one word of God were given to prove what * must be proven, it were good: 1. That Magus, all the three thousand, Act. 2. all the multitude baptized by Iohn, Mat 3. Mark 1. 5. Luk 4. were to Philip, to the Church of Saaria, to godly Iohn Bapist, to the twelve Apostles, such in practice and profession, as they savoured so much as they had been with Iesus; so heavenly a savourinesse is not, in one jot, holden out in the Word, the Baptist looks on them as vpers, and was it fit to omit the styles of Saints, justified, sanctfied? 2. The Tryers most have experience of their practice and profession: this shall take dayes and moneths to eat (as they say) much salt with them, the Apostles, that same day in few houres time, baptized them, Act. 2. Who can believe that the huge multitude lived Page  4 on Locusts and Wild Honey in the Wildernesse, untill Iohn should experimentally find a generation of vipers moulded into a new frame to savour of the things of the spirit? 3. There is no∣thing here of 1. Tryers and Judges: 2. Nothing of a Judica∣ure: 3. Nothing of Letters, Witnesses, Testimonies from the Churches: 4. Nothing of the rule of the Word compared with their habituall conversation (which must take a tract of dayes) 5. Nothing of a sentence admitting some for their spirituall sa∣vourinesse, rejecting others for that bad smell, and denying them Church-fellowship untill they be better tryed: all conje∣ctures.

1. The conclusion is not any thing but (a may be) and that may beare a (may not be) and if it were proven by the Word, that Professors right to the Covenant of God, to the Word, Promises, Seales, depended upon mens rational judgement of Charity, it might quiet the conscience: But a shall not the Lord be a God to a people, except the people themselves judge in the judgement of charity, that the people so consederate, sa∣vour all of them, as if they had been with Iesus? and except they from experience can conclude, there may be some seeds of some spirituall work of God in the souls of all these people? Ah, the Lord then cannot say to a nation and a society, I am your God, while first he asks the Churches leave.

M H. 1. Reason. The members of Christs Body are fit alore to be members of a true Church, because that is the body of Christ.* 1 Cor. 12. 12. Ephes. 4. 12, 13.

But onely visible Saints, who according to the rules of reasona∣ble charity may be conceived to have some speciall good in them, are onely members of Christs Body:

For to have a member, which neither doth, nor ever did receive any power or virtuall impression, in the kind of it, from the head is not onely against reason but against that reference and correspon∣dence, which the members have to the head. Now visible Saints onely, according to the former explication can be said, by the rules of reasonable charity, to have some virtuall influence of some spi∣rituall operation from Christ as a head: therefore such onely are members of a Church.

Answ. No man seems more to study to darken the matter, Page  5 then the reverend arguer. 1. He omits all along the word (visible) which is mainly in question. 2. He himself is forced to distinguish a two fold headship of Christ; for Christ is head * to the visible Church, either politick, according to the politick government and guidance he lends to it, or according to the influ∣ence of saving grace & life: the members of Christs body accord∣ing to the politick external government are fit alone to be mem∣bers of a true Church visible, or truly visible; such as Magus,*Demas, and many gifted men are, the proposition is true and granted. But onely visible Saints, who according to the rules of reasonable charity may be conceived to have some special good, or which is all one, to be reall believers, are onely members of Christs body, according to politick and external government, the assumption is false, and never proved; a meer begging of the question, for not onely such as are conceived in charity to to be real converts, such as Magus, Iudas, &c. but al∣so Peter, Iohn, and such as prosess subjection to the Gospel; and withall do really believe, 〈◊〉 members of the true visible Church, and the Lords visible confederates, whether they be*conceived to have some special good of conversion, and saving grace in them; or not; nor does the formality of a visible mem∣ber, or a visible confederate depend upon the judgment of men: And it is most false (which is said in the probation) that onely conceived and so judged visible Saints have the politick influ∣ence of some spiritual operation from Christ the head; for godly professors, whether they be conceived and judged, or not con∣ceived or judged godly professors, have both real and internal in foro Dei, and also external and ecclesiastick right to the or∣d•…ces of Christ, should all the world say the contrary. And by our brethrens nay, workers of iniquity, and these that are never known nor chosen of God, but are exactly glded hypo∣crites, and never receive any power or trial at all in their kind, from their head Christ; as may be proved from Matth. 7. 22, 23. Matth. 22. 11, 1. Matth. 13. 47. 48. Matth. 25. 3. 2 Tim. 3. 3. are visible Saints, not because they are so, but because they are falsely so esteemed by men to be such. Hence 1. our brethrens way makes not a whit a cleaner visible Church then our way. 2. The politick influence of Christ the head Page  6 upon such painted tombs, can be none at all before their mem∣bership. How then can they have virtual influence of some spi∣ritual operation from the head? supposed influence is no influ∣ence at all. And not any of these texs say that the Church, 1 Cor. 12. 12. and Ethes. 4. 12, 13. is not the body of Christ visible, except men conceive it to be his visible body; such new divinity is unknown to Scripture: If the other part of the di∣stinction be applied to the argument, both the propositions shall be false; so the members of Christs body by the influence of saving grace are fit alone to be members of the true visible Church: nothing is more false, for then the true visible Church should be made up of only true and real converts; glad shall Anabaptists and Familists be of this doctrine, and except the propositions be so taken, M. H. but paints us a false Church.

3. The places, 1 Cor. 12. 12. Eph. 4. 12, 13 speak nothing of Mr Hookers single congregation, but of the Catholick visible Church, which shall meet all in the unity of faith, and in which the Lord hath set Apostles, 1 Cor. 12. 28. and 4. 14, 15. and that is not a single congregation.

4. Though the places speak of the visible Church, yet do not these places say that the visible Church as visible, but as the real mystical body of Christ, which shall be glorified with Christ, is called Christ, Ephes. 4. 13. 〈◊〉 Cor. 12. 12, 13. and the body of Christ, by the influence of saving grace.