Church-government and church-covenant discussed, in an answer of the elders of the severall churches in New-England to two and thirty questions, sent over to them by divers ministers in England, to declare their judgments therein. Together with an apologie of the said elders in New-England for church-covenant, sent over in answer to Master Bernard in the yeare 1639. As also in an answer to nine positions about church-government. And now published for the satisfaction of all who desire resolution in those points.
Mather, Richard, 1596-1669., Mather, Richard, 1596-1669. Apologie of the churches in New-England for church-covenant., Peters, Hugh, 1598-1660., Davenport, John, 1597-1670.
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To the READER.

IT is not hard to believe that such discourses as this wil meet with divers censures, the prophane and ignorant loathing Christ, and any thing concerning him; the Formalist ac∣counting such truths troublesom that may ingage him in the change of his opinions and practises, and some of the wisest will be apt to question the tyming such light as this: yea doubtles this pamphlet-gluted age will so looke upon it, and lay it by.

But because I doe conceive that this sword will not be sheath'd which is now drawn, till Church-work be better known, and more countenanced, and since safety is laid up in the Temple, Psa. 27. 3, 4, 5. I could not but help on this, which attended and practised may prove our security next to Christ. These were either sudden answers to our doubting and inqui∣ring Brethren, or some satisfaction rendred about our so much slighted Church-Covenant, which wee could not but thinke might come to view, for the present stay to some faithfull soules, that call for light, and intend to use it well: for others, of what kind soever, we must beare their hard∣er thoughts, among thse usuall loads of scandals, that men of our judge∣ment must carry, especially if zeale for the Truth draw them forth to publike observation; nor doe we purpose (God helping us.) to succumbe under calumny, being the livery of quieter times then these, let us bee viler still, so God and his Arke may be more glorious. Yet this I doe professe for my selfe and Brethren that as we have not bin dealt with, nor convinc'd of any offence, so we shall ever be ready to give an account of that hope which is in us, being call'd thereunto; in the meane time we o∣ver looke these barkings of black mouthes, and wish a good Comment be made upon the text of our plaine meaning.

The onely way I know to reach Gods mind in Worship will bee to love the truth for it's owne sake: yea to love it when it shall condemne our practises and persons also: Who hath not observed that the first step to error is the declining the truth in love to it?

Page  [unnumbered]Hence Popery begat her first brat, and hath nurst it up with thesame milke; we would earnestly desire that none would call that unsensona∣ble or unreasonable, which God seemes even now to call for, at the calling of this Synode, and will carry so much Reason with it, as God and his truth will owne; more tendernes and respect to our Brethren we know not how to shew, who sent us these 32. Questions, no other dealing would we have from our brethren not consenting with us. Some Rivers have bin noted to differ in the colours of the water, yet running in the same Chan∣nell: let Jesus Christ be lifted up by us all; let us love him whilst wee dispute about him.

Presbytery and Independency (as it is cal'd) are the wayes of Worship and Church fellowship, now looked at, since (we hope) Episcop 〈…〉 out, and will be buried without expectation of another resurrection. We are much charged with what we own not, viz: Independency, when as we know not any Churches Reformed, more looking at sister Churches for helpe then ours doe onely we cannot have rule yet discovered from any friend or enemy, that we should be under Canon, or power of any other Church; under their Councell we are. We need not tell the wise whence Tyranny grew in Churches, and how common wealths got their pressure in the like kind.

These be our sighs and hearty wishes, that selfe may be conquered in this poore Nation, which shuts the doore against these truths. Know (good Reader) we do not hereby go about to whistle thee out of any known good way of God. Commonly Questions and Answers cleare up the way, when other Treatises leave us to darknes. Read them, and what we say for a Church-Covenant, it may save charge and time in reading other Bookes, remember wee strive not here for masteryes, but give an account of our practise wherein if thou know'st we faile Candidus imperti; if we agree let us worke by our plat-forme; and may thy soule flourish as a greene heath or watered garden. So prayeth

Thine heartily