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.


Whether the Congregation as the Congregation doth excom∣municate a delinquent? or is it the Catholick visible. Church which excommunicates?

MR. R. his meaning is, that the congregation excommu∣nicateth * not as a congregation, by a power which by or∣der of nature is first in it self, but by a power which by nature is first in the whole Eldership; but yet not by an act coming from the privity, knowledge and conscience of all the whole Catholick Body of Officers all the world over. And so I grant, that the Catholick visible Church doth not anteced ntly excom∣municate, leading witnesses, and summoning, and accusing, and sentencing the person before the congregation; as when Nor∣wich puts a Traitor to death, the State of England by the Law common to all England, in and by Norwich putteth the man to death: Nor doth Norwich as a single Corporation (though neither simply as a Representative) but acting as a part of the Body of England. And the whole State doth this antece∣dently:

1. Because the City doth this by the same power of Law common to all England: quae sunt communira sunt priora.

2. Norwich puts this Traitor to death, not as an enemy to that single Corporation onely, but as a common enemy to the whole Kingdom.

3. The City doth this by an innate power, as an integral part of England, for the peace and safety of the whole King∣dom: yet doth not the whole Kingdom knowingly exercise an act of deliberate judicial authority in this; for the man is put Page  391 to death without the privity and knowledge of the whole Kingdom.

I used the comparison (to cousen the inconsiderate Reader (saith Mr. H.) I hate cousening) The left hand cuts off the finger of the right hand lest it infect with a Gangrene the whole body, acted by the natural instinct, and innate desire of self. safety, which is in the whole man. But (saith Mr. H.) the chief officers are not at the mind and will, and the other Churches as the whole man: but the rest of the brethren are as the whole man, who have an in∣trinsical power for the safety of the whole congregation, to cut off an an infectious member.

Ans. Nor is the comparison to be strained; I shall onely desire it to be taken as Mr. H. saith. Its true, the left hand doth not cut off the contagious finger, but the whole man, deliberate will and reason consenting thereunto; and the finger is cut off, not by the power of the left hand onely, but the intrinsecal power of the body.

And it is so exactly in a particular congregation, the chief offi∣cers, as the mind and will, and the rest of the Brethren as the whole, have an intrinsecal power from Christ to remove an infe∣ctious member.

Ans. They have a power to remove him (saith Mr. R. in his * comparison) not from that congregation onely, but from the whole Catholick Body: As the left hand cuts off the conta∣gious finger, not from the right hand onely, but from the whole body. It wrongeth Christ to say, he hath given so selfie and narrow a power, to liberate onely a body of 10 or 20 Indepen∣dent members from the contagion of scandal, but not to free five thousand, and the associate bodies round about: Let them perish, Christ hath given no Organick or Church-care to the congregation toward them all (saith Mr. H.)

2. The comparison is not exact. When the fraternity excom∣municates all their officers, where is the mind and will then? for they excommunicate their own minde and will.

3. Mr. R. never meant the comparison should hold in this, That the Catholick Church, as mind and will, should put forth acts of deliberate reason—antecedently to cite, accuse, sentence every delinquent in an Oecumenick Councel, or some Catholick Page  392 Judicature, and to excommunicate all Delinquents, before ever the congregation cite them. With divers arguments he refutes an antecedent excommunication, as if I held any such thing. So Mr. H. loves to prove strongly what Mr. R. never denied.

But Mr. H. speaks nothing to my Argument, if the mn be cast out, and bound on earth, he must be bound only on that tract of earth where twenty Independents are.

But 1. Church binding in heaven, and the guiltiness of the scandal is alike in all places, and often more infectious to others, if it be a taking heresie, then to their own congregation.

2. Who shall perswade that our Saviours sense is so ham∣pered? Let him be to thee as an heathen, Mat. 18. 17. as thee only, who art a member of the congregation whereof he is a mem∣ber; yea, as touching Church binding, neither is he a known guiltless visible Saint to all Churches on earth. It is nothing but a naked evasion to say he is consequently cut off from right to ordinances in all other congregations, for because one species of corporations hath condemned a man (saith Mr. H. page 236.) it follows not, that therefore all have condemned him to imprisonment perpetual, or the like.

Ans. Yea, what one City doth in punishing a Malefactor by Law power, common to all England, that same all England* doth in law: for twenty Sons have by the same Law and Autho∣rity of the Fathers right of twenty Tables of twenty Families of the Father. One is for sedition against his Father cast out of one Family, whereof he is a fixed member; the other nine∣teen, though they know nothing of the fact, and doe never actually cite him, yet do legally, and by the Law, and the same very wil of the Father, that ruleth them all, cast him antecedently out, or concomitanter; or then another Law must appoint the other nineteen Families to cast him out. So the same right idem numero, that Peter hath to Christ and Ordinances in one Church, he hath it in all; and that same act of the Keyes administred according to the rule of the Word, in one Church removing that right, removes it from him all the World over.

3. Visible Saints by this shall not be the same spiritually po∣litick body, visible, being of divers congregations: contrary to Scripture, expounded by Mr. H. and Mr. Cotton, we being many Page  393 are one body visible, and visible of twenty congregations, par∣taking * of one bread and body of Christ. Now by this, as a fin∣ger cut off Paul, is not a finger cut off Iohn, for Iohn hath all his ten fingers entire, and Paul hath his nine fingers only: So also if Thomas disobedient he cast out of only his own congre∣gation, he is never cast out of Church-right to Christ, and or∣dinances in the rest of the congregations; for excommunicati∣on by consequence, is only a declaring by witnesses (as Mr. H. saith pag. 242.) that the man is cast out of his own congre∣gation. Now the declaring that Paul's finger is cut off, is not a cutting off of his finger, that is impossible. Far less is it possi∣ble, that the declaring that Paul's finger is cut off, can be either a declaring that Peters finger is cut off, or that that declaring is a cutting off of Paul's finger, or a cutting off of Peters fin∣ger. Therefore Peters being cast one of his own Church-right, and Church only, is no casting of him out of other Churches, or real removing of his Church-right to ordinances in other Churches. For that which was never really removed, and Peter once had, it must remain with Peter yet: now Peter was never a member of any congregation but of one; then mem∣bership to another congregation cannot be taken from him.

4. A member is cast out as really scandalous; his adultery obstinately continued in makes him be deprived of Christian fellowship with Brethren as Brethren: Ergo, he is deprived of the Christian fellowship of all Brethren. For 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 follow∣eth upon 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉.

And 5. It is thus confirmed; his visible scandal is a Church-offence to one of a Sister-congregation, and is apt to bring a Church-contagion to these of another congregation, who are 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, one body with him at the Lords Table; and there∣fore are they now to look on him as an Heathen. But who put him in that state, if he be not really and formally cast out * of that body, when his own Church excommunicates him?

6. He that hears not the Church, heares not Christ, and he that despiseth any Pastor sent in the name of Christ, despiseth Christ, Mat. 10. 4. Luke 10. 16. Iohn 13. 20. Now if this stand good, one that despiseth his own Pastor only, and his own congregation only, though he despise all the godly Prophets, Page  394 Pastors, and soundest Churches on earth, despiseth not Christ nor his Father that sent him; nor is he first in foro Dei, bound in Heaven, and guilty before God, nor deserves he to be ex∣communicate, for he hath not failed against that, He that despiseth you despiseth me. For that is true only when any despiseth their own Pastor, or their own congregation. And if so, then when one is cast out, and judgeth an heathen for not hearing of his own Church, he is not heathen in Heaven, and in foro Dei, as touching his communion with other Pastors and other congregations.

7. Peter before he was excommunicated, had a real right to the Lords Table in all Churches on earth, and so a sort of mem∣bership and visible communion with all these Churches. Now if by the act of excommunication in his own Church, this right be not taken from him, then must it be taken from him by all the Churches: and so all the Churches must excommunicate when one excommunicates: and by the like, all must admit one into membership, when one admits into membership.

Mr. H. The Sister Churches (Mr. R.) receive members of other Churches to communion, by an intrinsecal Church power.

Ans. By an authoritative Church power we can enjoyn our own members to come to the seals, or else censure them; but we cannot so deal with others, if it shall seem good to them to refuse.

Ans. This only follows, that the congregation hath a larger Church power over their own members, both to censure them, if they come not, and positively to admit them, if they come: but Mr. H. must confess that the congregation admits strangers of other congregations, by a meer private pwer, and by no Church power, which is gross Erastianisme, and makes it arbi∣trary to one single Pastor to admit some to the communion, as he pleaseth, and some not.

2. By no Church power is the Sacrament tendered to stran∣gers of another congregation; so may the Minister give this * seal to a stranger in his chamber, which is a private communion, for there is no authoritative Church power required to give it to some. Whereas Paul saith, it is a priviledge of the Church, coming together to eat the Lords Body, 1 Cor. 11. 17, 18, 21. 1 Cor. 10. 17.

Page  395 3. This Supper must be given to our own Church members by Church authority; to strangers by no Church authority.

4. It is by accident that the congregation cannot compel strangers to come to this seal, for in Collegio the Elders of the congregation may joyntly with the rest of the Presbytery cen∣sure these of another flock, who altogether refuse the seals.

5. Mr. H. grants that a congregation excommunicates in the*general nature of a congregation. Well then, the general nature discourseth in man; and so doth a Church in an Island excom∣municate; Ergo, that Church proceeding according to the rule of Christ, casts the man formally out of all the congregations on earth.

Mr. H. addeth, yea the neighbour Churches are (saith Mr. R.) to*exercise the punishment of avoiding the excommunicate person as an heathen, which follows from a power which is no wayes in them; what conscience is here?

Ans. A good conscience, if we may carry our selves to a scandalous mn so dclared by two or three witnesses, as we avoid his company; far more upon the testimony of a whole Church, are we to avoid his company.

Ans. Then nothing is left to the neighbour Churches, but is he excommunicate or not, by one onely congregation, they had no hand in it, onely they must believe the man is rightly cast out, upon the word of five or six of the male-Church, who are both Judge and Party. This is what I said. A declara∣ration of Excommunication is no Excommunication. And then must the congregations about with the meer judgment of di∣scretion, which women have, eschew the man as a Pagan.

Obj. By Mr. R. his way, you have the testimony of the Church only which did excommunicate?

Ans. Yea, place is left to many Churches and Synods to judg: this is another matter, then four of the male-Church that are both Judge and Party, who declare he is cast out.

Mr. H. One classical Church excommunicates not antecedenter. But a man in the confines of two Presbyteries is excommunicated by the Presbytery only of which he is a member, saith Mr. R.

Ans. What ropes can tie the consequent with the antece∣dent? Page  396 What Mr. R. hath said of the antecedent excommuni∣cation of the Catholick Church, is plain by the former dis∣cussion.