Episcopal and Presbyterial Govern∣ment conjoyned.
BY Order of the Church of England all Pres∣byters are charged a to Minister the Doct∣rine and Sacraments, and the Discipline of Christ, as the Lord hath commanded, and as this Realm hath received the same; and that they might the better understand what the Lord hath command∣ed therein b, the Exhortation of St. Paul to the El∣ders of the Church of Ephesus is appointed to be read unto them at the time of their Ordination; Take heed uunto your selves, and to all the flock, among whom the Holy Ghost hath made you Overseers; to * Rule the Congregation of God, which he hath purchased with his Blood.
Of the many Elders, who in common thus ruled the Church of Ephesus, there was one President; Whom our Saviour in his Epistle to that Church in a peculiar manner stileth c the Angel of the Church of Ephesus; and Ignatius, in another Epistle written about twelve years after unto the same Church, cal∣leth the Bishop thereof, betwixt which Bishop and the Presbytery of that Church, what an harmonious consent there was in the ordering of the Church-Goverment, the same Ignatius doth fully there declare, by Presbytery with d St. Paul understand∣ing the Company of the rest of the Presbyters or Elders, who then had a hand not onely in the delive∣ry of the Doctrine and Sacraments, but also in the Page 10 administration of the Discipline of Christ; for further proof whereof, we have that known Testimony of Tertullian in his Apology for Christians e.
In the Church are used exhortations, chastisements, and divine censure. For judgment is given with great advice as among those who are certain they are in the sight of God; and it is the chiefest foreshewing of the judgment which is to come, if any man have so of∣fended that he be banished from the Communion of Prayer, and of the Assembly, and of all holy Fellow∣ship. The Presidents that bear Rule therein, are cer∣tain approved Elders, who have obtained this honour, not by reward, but by a good report; who were no other (as he himself elsewhere intimateth) but those f from whose hands they used to receive the Sacra∣ment of the Eucharist. For with the Bishop who was the chief President (and therefore stiled by the same Tertullian in another place gSummus Sacerdos for di∣stinction sake) the rest of the Dispensers of the Word and Sacraments joyned in the common government of the Church; and therefore, where in matters of Eccle∣siastical judicature, Cornelius Bishop of Rome used the received form of h gathering together the Presbyters, of what persons that did consist, Cyprian sufficiently declareth, when he wisheth him to read his letters i to the flourishing Clergy which there did preside or rule with him, the presence of the Clergy being thought to be so requisite in matters of Episcopal audience, Page 11 that in the fourth Councel of Carthage, it was conclu∣ded, k That the Bishop might hear no mans cause with∣out the presence of his Clergy, and that otherwise the Bishops sentence should be void, unless it were confirm∣ed by the presence of the Clergy, which we find also to be inserted into the Cannons of lEgbert, who was Arch-Bishop of Tork in the Saxons times, and after∣wards into the Body of the m Canon Law it self.
True it is, that in our Church this kind of Presbyte∣rial government hath been long disused, yet seeing it still professeth, that every Pastor hath a right to rule the Church from whence the name of Rector also was given at first unto him) and to administer the Disci∣pline of Christ, as well as to dispence the Doctrine and Sacraments, and the restraint of the exercise of that right proceedeth only from the custom now received in this Realm, no man can doubt but by ano∣ther Law of the Land this Hindrance may be well re∣moved: and how easily this ancient form of govern∣ment by the united Suffrages of the Clergy might be revived again, and with what little shew of altera∣tion, the Synodical conventions of the Pastors of every Parish might be accorded with the presidency of the Bishops of each Diocess and Province; the in∣different Reader may quickly perceive by the perusal of the ensuing Propositions.
In every Parish the Rector or incumbent Pastor, together with the Churchwardens and Sidesmen may * every week take notice of such as live scandalously in that Congregation, who are to receive such seve∣ral Page 12 admonitions and reproofs, as the quality of their offence shall deserve; and if by this means they cannot be reclaimed, they may be presented unto the next monthly Synod; and in the mean time de∣barred by the Pastor from access to the Lords Table.
Whereas by a Statute in the 26th year of King Henry the eight (revived in the first of Queen Eliza∣beth)* Suffiagans are appointed to be erected in twen∣ty six several places of this Kingdom, the number of them might very well be conformed unto the num∣ber of the several rural Deanries into which every Diocess is subdivided; which being done, the Suffra∣gan (supplying the place of those who in the anci∣ent Church were called Chorepiscopi) might every month assemble a Synod of all the Rectors, or In∣cumbent Pastors within the Precinct, and according to the Major part of their voices conclude all mat∣ters that should be brought into debate before them.
To this Synod the Rector and Church-Wardens might present such impenitent persons, as by admoni∣tion and suspension from the Sacrament, would not be reformed; who if they should still remain contuma∣cious and incorrigible, the sentence of Excommuni∣cation might be decreed against them by the Synod, and accordingly be executed in the Parish where they lived.
Hitherto also all things that concerned the Paro∣chial Ministers might be referred, whether they did touch their Doctrine or their Conversation; as also Page 13 the censure of all new Opinions, Heresies, or Schisms, which did arise within that Circuit; with liberty of Appeal, if need so require, unto the Dioce∣san Synod.
The Diocesan Synod might be held once or twice in the year, as it should be thought most convenient: * Therein all the Suffragans and the rest of the Rectors or Incumbent Pastors (or a certain select number) of every Deanry within that Diocess might meet, with whose consent, or the Major part of them, all things might be concluded by the Bishop or Superin∣tendent (call him whither you will) or in his ab∣sence by one of the Suffragans whom he shall depute in his stead to be Moderator of that Assembly.
Here all matters of greater moment might be taken into consideration, and the Orders of the Monthly Synods revised, and (if need be) Reformed: And if here also any matters of difficulty could not receive a full determination; it might be referred to the next Provincial or National Synod.
The Provincial Synod might consist of all the Bi∣shops and Suffragans, and such other of the Clergy as should be elected out of every Diocess within the Province; The Primate of either Province might be Moderator of this meeting (or in his room some one of the Bishops appointed by him) and all matters be ordered therein by common consent as in the former Assembly.
Page 13 This Synod might be held every third year, and * if the Parliament do then sit (according to the Act for a Triennial Parliament) both the Primates and Provincial Synods of the Land might joyn together, and make up a National Counsel: Wherein all Ap∣peals from inferior Synods might be received, all their Acts examined, and all Ecclesiastical constituti∣ons which concern the state of the Church of the whole Nation established.