Episcopal and Presbyterial government conjoyned proposed as an expedient for the compremising of the differences, and preventing of those troubles about the matter of Church-Government
Ussher, James, 1581-1656.
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EPISCOPAL AND Presbyterial Government CONJOYNED: Proposed as an Expedient for the compre∣mising of the Differences, and preventing of those Troubles about the matter of CHURCH-GOVERNMENT.

Written in the Late times by the late Learned and Famous Ja. Usher, Arch-Bishop of Ar∣magh and Primate of Ireland. And now published, seriously to be considered by all sober conscientious Persons, and tendred to all the Sons of Peace and Truth in the three Nations, for recovering the Peace of the Church, and setling its Government.

Tolle jano nominis crimen, & nihil restat nisi criminis nomen,


Tert. Apol.

Contra rationem nemo sobritis; contra Scripturam nemo Christia∣nus; contra Ecclesiam nemo pacificus senserit.


Aug. de Trin.

London, Printed in the Year 1679.

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THE PREFACE.

IF any one ask, who is He presumes to Publish the Papers of that Learned, Pious, and peacable Prelate (worthy of eternal Memory,) without appro∣bation first had, of such as hold the Chair in the several Parts of controver∣ted Discipline? I Answer, The Learn∣ed men of each Party are not yet agreed, nor do I know when they will be: and the times require that some means be used to advance the Peace of the Church, and preserve the Nation. That Peace I mean, whereby the minds of men may be disposed to lay aside all old ani∣mosities, and upon a common Principle of Union, become charitable, and so perpetual Friends.

The Faithfull and true Ministers of the Gospel of Peace, will (I hope,) give their allowance to this attempt, Pious and Cha∣ritable in its intention. For the contrary minded who would have Fire come from Heaven to consume all those, who receive not their Dictates, I shall only rebuke them with that of our Saviour to his Disciples, ye know not of what manner of Spirit ye are? *

Peace therefore and Christian Concord, is not the matter these men seek, but perpetual Parties and Sidings, wherein per∣haps they hope to appear Somebody; which temper (even in the minds where it ought least to be,) hath embroyl'd the world in miserable Feuds. And this being perceiv'd by men experienced in Publick business, hath produced variety of complaints. Sir Edwyn Sandys discoursing of the division of Protestants* abroad into Lutherans and Calvinists, complains. That the Ministers of each side have so far bestirr'd themselves, that thePage  4Coal which a wise man, with a little moisture of his mouth would soon have quenched, they with the wind of their breath have contrariwise so enflamed, that it threatneth a great ruine and Calamity on both sides. And a little after, reprehending the heat and extremity of contention. They make more account (says he) of some empty Syllogism than of the Peace of the Church, and happiness of the World. The most Learn∣ed and Pious Hugo Grotius, bemoaning the Discords of Christian * Leaders, Says, Si in eorum Bellorum quibus tam diu vastatur Eu∣ropa causas inquirimus, inveniemus hoc incendium, maximè ab ijs quos pacis praecones esse debuerunt excitatum. And Mr. Dury, after all his Travells in the matter of Ecclesiastical Peace, found at last the difficulty to lie at home, among those of his own Profession: which caused him to lay down this Maxim. That*neither can a Civil Confederation be truly framed among Pro∣testants, nor when it is framed can it be faithfully maintained, except the foundation thereof be laid in the minds of the Clergy.

The expedient here proposed by this Learned and Pious Prelate, for Composing the Controversies and contentions about Eccle∣siastical Government, will not make the wounds wider I hope, I do not see how it can. And if it bring with it a healing vir∣tue to unite and consolidate Parties discontinued, in any mea∣sure, I shall not repent me of acting the Empyrick in applying this Sovereign Receipt, (which came fortunately to my hands) to the curing all those fretting ailments have so long troubled the Church.

Nor will this attempt of mine be insecure, if the Learned and Pious Guides of either Party be consulted. It is Dr. Ham∣mond's judgment, That a moderate Episcopacy, with a stand∣ing*assistant Presbytery, as it will certainly satisfie the desires of those whose pretensions are regular and moderate, (crav∣ing nothing more, and in some things less than the Laws of the Land,) so it will appear to be that, which all Parties can best Tolerate: and which next himself, both Presby∣terian, Independant and Erastian, will make no question to choose and prefer, before any of the other Pretenders. And Mr. Baxter, (no friend to modern Episcopacy) earnestly in∣cultating *Page  5 the Pastoral care and oversight of Souls: I speak not this, says he, against any Bishops, that acknowledge the Presbyters to be true Pastors to Rule and Teach the Flock, and take themselves only to be the Chief, and Presidents among Pres∣byters, yea, or the Rulers of Presbyters that are Rulers of the Flock. But of them that Null the Presbyters Office, and the Churches Government and Discipline, by undertaking it alone as their sole Prerogative. Me thinks, (as Agrippa said * to Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian,) I might here step in, and tell these Learned and Pious Controvertists, That, almost they may be persuaded to be Friends.

But the Principal defence I intend my self against the censures of my Publishing those Papers, Is, the sense of the late King himself, in his Posthumous admired Book. Not (says he) *that I am against the managing of this Presidency and Authority in one man by the joynt Counsel and Consent of many Pres∣byters; I have offered to restore that. And again, I was*willing to grant or restore to Presbytery, what with reason or discretion it can pretend to; in a conjuncture with Episco∣pacy. So that, the purpose the late King had, of uniting his divided People, (If God had so permitted, whose judgments * are wonderfull, and his ways past finding out,) was upon Grounds agreeable to the design of this Paper. And therefore what was by Him so Piously and Prudently intended, for resto∣ring Peace and Unity to the Church, is so much the more neces∣sary now, by how much we understand That intention of the said King: and that the same Parties remain still estranged in conuntenance and conversation.

And yet it would not be so, if some instrument or medium could be used to bring them to debate (with an humble Christian Spirit,) on terms of reconcilement and unīty. Which, when∣soever it shall, by Gods gracious Dispensation and Providence over us be granted: so much of our passions and interest must be laid aside, as not to think it imaginable, in the traverse of such long and sharp disputes and diffirences, That one Party should be totally guilty, and the other altogether innocent.

When I consider a Presbyterian, will it be well to fetch a Character, from all the frailties and failings of men of that Page  6 Persuasion? If one Preached, It would never be well till twice*7. Prelates be hanged up, as the 7. Sons of Saul were hanged up in Gibeon. And another, That the bloodiest and sharpest War was to be endured, rather than the least error in Doctrine and Discipline. And another, Wishing that all the Prelates in the Kingdom and himself were together in a bottomless Boat at Sea, for he would be content to loose his life, so the Bishops might loose theirs.

Will not all these seem strong and tearing winds, rending the rocks of all Order and good Government, in which God was * not. Rather than the small and still voice, which walked in the Garden in the cool of the day, when God came to enquire calmly after Adams sin? Or will they not seem rather so many Pre∣dictions, which we have seen fulfilled sadly upon that place, and those persons, whoyet were as ignorant of the Prophetick import of their own expressions, as Caiphas was of Christs offering him∣self for the world, when he counselled the Jews, That it was*expedient that one man should die for the People, And yet knew not the import of Christ dying for the People.

When men pass sentence upon themselves, God often sees it executed: The Israelites no sooner wish they had died in the Land of Egypt, or in the Wilderness: But the Answer is re∣turned, *As I live saith the Lord, as you have spoken in mine*Ears, so will I do to you. And the Heathen Poet could teach us the same lesson. Evertere domos totas optantibus ipsis,*Dii faciles. I do not like raking Fire out of Embers, by search∣ing for the faults of men, who Perished in their own Flames, and are objects of our Pitty more than Passion. Otherwise no Nation under Heaven could afford examples equal to that of Scotland, for the proof of rigid Presbyterian Discipline. Of which how much is settled after more then 100 years are run out since the Nobles, Gentry and People, have been vehemently. sollicited to kill and slay each other, or any body else rather than be, without it, the present state of Affairs there may bear us witness.

Would it be a good course of judging of Episcopal Government, to rake into the Records and Histories of 1600. Years, for the errors of all Bishops, whòm worldly Interest, or Passion, or Page  7 other human frailties have carried beyond the gravity, austerity, humility and Apostolical Piety of their Primitive institution. And will this serve to level imparity, the principle of all Order and Government? and secure the modern Presbytery from the like irregularities or excesses? Certainly those accusations and calum∣nies, which Politicians say secure other States, subvert the foundations of the Churches peace: which are laid in Charity, the Characteristick note of a Christian. By this ye know if ye be my Disciples, (says Christ) If ye love one another. And * in ancient times the common saying was, Ecce quam diligunt Christiani? That execrable delight and joy, which any one takes to accuse, or to find faults in others, he hath from the Devil, Who is the great accuser of the Brethren.*

It is evident to what a miserable extremity the divisions about Church-Government, had brought a great Nation. From disputing and fighting for this and that Form, we at last knew no Form at all: Every one doing what seemed good in his own eyes. God having justly taken away from Both, what was so intemperately desired, and contended for on either side.

Both Episcopacy and Presbytery that strive for it, Do it surely for this common end, That the people, being taught to know God aright, might glorifie him in their Lives and Conversations. The People, I say, who are more easily disposed to Innovations and Disobedience many times, by the artifice and insinuations of a few; than can be reclaimed again by the Authority, Eloquence and Wisdom of many. They are therefore a commiserable body, and being commonly the Masters of error (the weakest part of whom being their mind and meer servants to the Ambition of others) How much doth it most truly import the Sacred Function, to be wholly employ'd in saving the Souls of these men, from perishing in a Famine of Spiritual food and nourishment.

But while both strive for the Rule and Form of doing this (without imputation of Ambition or Usurpation) Is it not pitty to think the matter should ever come to that pass that one half of the Nation must be first destroyed. And instead of settling Christs Discipline, that no body at this rate, should be left to become Christs Disciples, whom Error or the Sword had not devoured.

That both may Rule and yet not strive, is proposed here by our Page  8 Pious and Learned Prelate. By which Charity and Brotherly Love may be restored, (almost wholly extingushed out of the hearts of men,) and the grain of evil Seed sown in place there∣of destroy'd; which hath brought forth ungodliness to this*very time.

In the mean time it is a work worth propounding, and worthy of the Office and industry of all men, in whom is the true fear of God, (the principle of honour as well as wisdom) who * are followers of either Party: That they soften the minds of the tenacious and refractory, and sweeten the Spirits of the sowre and morose, That they may say one to another as Abraham did to Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee between me and thee, and between my Herdmen and thy Herdmen, for we be*Brethren. And let every Pious, Humble and peaceable Overseer and Bishop, Presbyter and Ruler of Christs Flock, and Watch∣man over the pretious Souls of men, so labour at the Throne of Grace for this weatherbeaten Ship of Gods Church, (hardly escaping yet the waves of confusion and disorder,) that she may at last hear an Angell from God speaking to her as once to St. Paul. Fear not beloved, Thou must be brought before Caesar, *and God hath given thee all those that Sail with thee.

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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.

I.

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.

II.

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.

III.

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.

IV.

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.

FINIS

THe Form of Government here proposed, is not in any point repugnant to the Scripture, and that the Suffragans mentioned in the second Proposition, may lawfully use the Power both of Jurisdiction and Ordination, according to the Word of God, and the Practise of the Ancient Church.

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