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.
Page  1


  • _1. WHether the greatest part of the En∣glish there (by estimation) be not as yet unadmitted to any Congre∣gation among you, and the Rea∣sons thereof?
  • 2. What things doe you hold to be Essentiall and absolutely necessary to the being of a true Vi∣sible Church of Christ?
  • 3. Whether doe you not hold all Ʋisible Believers to bee within the Ʋisible Church as Members thereof, and not with∣out in the Apostles sence; 1 Cor. 5. and therefore ought so to be acknowledged, and accepted in all Congregations whereso∣ever they shall come, and are so knowne: and ought (if they desire and be not otherwise unfit) of right to be permitted to partake in all Gods ordinances and Church priviledges there, so farre as they personally concerne themselves, although they be not as yet fixed Members in particulr Covenant, either with that Congregation where for the present they reside, nor with any other?
  • 4. Whether you doe not hold that Baptisme rightly (for Page  2 substance) partaked doth make them that are so Baptized, Members of the Visible Church: and so to have right (at least quoad nos) to all the priviledges thereof (so farre as they are otherwise fit) untill they be cast out (if they so deserve) by Ex∣communication.
  • 5. Whether doe you not admit Children under age as Mem∣bers of the Church, together with, and in the Admission of their Parent or Parents: So as thenceforth they may partake of all Church priviledges being otherwise fit) without any o∣ther personall profession of Faith, or entring into Church Co∣venant, when they shall come to yeares? and how long doe you count them under age?
  • 6. Whether do not you admit Orphants under age, with and in their Guardians?
  • 7. Whether doe you admit or refuse Children under age on∣ly accoding to the present estate of their nearest Parents? Or doe you not admit them if any of their next Ancestors be∣fore their parents were believers?
  • 8. Whether doe you require of all persons of age, whom you admit Members of any Church?
    • 1. A publike vocall declaration of the manner and soundnesse of their conversion?
    • 2. A publike profession of their faith concerning the Articles of Religion.
    • 3. An expresse verball covenanting to walke with the said Church in particular, in Church fellowship.
    • 4. And not to depart from the said Church after∣ward without the consent thereof: or how doe you hold and practise in these things?
  • 9. Whether doe you hold all, or the most of our Parish assem∣blies in Old-England to be true Ʋisible Churches of Christ; with which you may lawfully joyne in every part of Gods true worship (if occasion served thereto:) or if not all or the most, Page  3 then what ones are those of which you so account, and with which you durst so partake or joyne; and in what respects? And why be not the rest such as well as they?
  • 10. If you hold that any of our parishionall Assemblies are true Ʋisible Churches, and that the Members thereof are all, or some of them (at least) members of true visible Churches, then whether will you permit such members (at least) as are ei∣ther famously knowne to your selves to be godly, or doe bring sufficient Testimoniall thereof from others that are so knowne, or from the Congregation it selfe whereof they were members here, to partake with you in all the same Ordinances, and parts of Gods true worship in any of your Congregations (as by occasion they may be there) in the same manner, and with the like liberty, as you would permit any that might happily come unto you from any of the Churches of Geneva, France, the Low-Countreyes, or yet from any one Church to another a∣mong your selves: Suppose from some Church about Con∣necticut, or that of Plimouth, &c. Vnto the Church at Boston, New-Towne, Dorchester, &c. Or if not, what may be the Reason thereof?
  • 11. Whether doe you hold our present standing in our Pa∣rish Assemblies here in Old ENGLAND, to bee lawfull and safe to be continued in, or how frre it may be so?
  • 12. Whether doe you hold that every Believer is alwayes bound to joyne himselfe as a fixed Member to some one parti∣cular Congregation, so as if he doe not, and so oft and so long as he doth it not, so oft and so long he is without the Church in the Apostles sence, 1 Cor. 5. as an Heathen or Publican, out of the Kingdome of Christ, and possibility of salvation, accor∣ding to that maxime in divinity, Extra Ecclesiam non est salus.
  • 13. VVhether doe you thinke it lawfull and convenient that a company of private and illitterate persons (into a Church body combined) should themselves ordinarily examine, elect, Page  4 ordaine, and depose their owne Ministers of the word, without the asistance of any other Ministers of other Churches, where the same may be had?
  • 14. Whether doe you hold that every small Company of seaven, or nine, or twenty, or fourty persons, combined into a Church body, be such a Church (as by the ordinance of Christ) hath, and ought to have all power, and exercise of Church Go∣vernment: So as they may transact all Ecclesiasticall businesses independently amongst themselves?
  • 15. Whether do you give the exercise of all Church power of Government to the whole Church, or to the Presbiters thereof alone? and if to those, then we desire to know what act of Go∣vernment, and Superior authority (properly so called) may the Presbiters doe, more then any other member may doe, or with∣out the particular consent of the rest, wee crave to have those particular Acts mentioned: and how, and over whom in those Acts the Presbiters doe rule (in propriety of speaking) more then the rest of the Congregation doe?
  • 16. Whether doe you not permit Women to Vote in Church matters?
  • 17. Whether in Voting doe the Major part alwayes, or at any time, carry Ecclisiasticall matters with you, or in what things doth it, in what not?
  • 18. What meanes have you to preserve your Churches in Vnity and Verity, or to correct or reduce any Church erring in Doctrine or practice. As,
    • 1. Whether you have any plat-form of Doctrine and Discipline agreed upon; or if you have not, whether meane you to have one, and when; and thinke you it lawfull and expedient so to have?
    • 2. Whether have you combined your selves together into Classes, or purpose so to doe, so as to doe no weighty matter without their counsell and consent?
    • Page  53. Or give you any power to Synods and Councells to determine and order things that cannot otherwise be ended, so as that their determination shall bind the par∣ticular Churches so assembled to due obedience, in case they decree nothing but according to Truth and right, and to peaceable suffering, in case they should doe other∣wise? Or what other course you have, or intend to have for that end aforesaid?
  • 19. Whether hold you, that each particular Church may lawfully make such Laws or Orders Ecclesiasticall, for the Go∣vernment of it selfe, and the Members thereof; for decency, order, and Edification, as shall oblige all her Members, and may not be omitted without sinne?
  • 20. Wherein hold you that the whole Essence of a Ministers calling doth consist: As 1, whether is Election by the People it, yea or no? Or 2. is it so Essentiall, as that without it, the Ministers calling is a meere nullity? Or 3. is Ordination as Essentiall a part thereof, as the Peoples Election? Or 4. is it but a meer formality and solemnity of their calling?
  • 21. Whether doe you hold it lawfull for meer lay or private men to ordaine Ministers in any case?
  • 22. What Essentiall difference put you between the Office of Pastor and Teacher, and doe you obser••e the same difference inviolably; and do not your Teachers by vertue of that Office give themselves usually to application of doctrine as, well as your Pastours? and do they not also usually apply the Seales?
  • 23. What authority or Eminency have your Preaching El∣ders, above your sole Ruling Elders, or are they both equalls?
  • 24. VVhether may a Minister of one congregation (being thereto requested) do as a Minister any act of his Ministe∣ry (as Preach, Baptize, Administer the Lords Supper, Or∣dain, &c. in and unto other Congregations besides his owne?
  • 25. Whether hold you that a Minister of a Congregation, Page  6 leaving or loosing his place (suppose without his fault) doe withall lose both Nomen and Esse of his ministery, and do be∣come a meere Lay, or private man, untill he be a new elected, and ordained?
  • 26. Whether doe you allow, or thinke it lawfull to allow and settle any certain & stinted maintenance upon your Ministers?
  • 27. Whether doe you permit and call upon meer Lay and private men (neither being in the ministerie nor intended to it) ordinarily to preach or Prophecie publiquely, in, and before the Congregation? and whether thinke you that prophecying mentioned, 1 Cor. 14. be to be understood of such, and be an ordinary and standing order of God in the Church?
  • 28. Whether doe you allow and call upon your people pub∣liquely before all the Congregation to propound Questions, move doubts, & argue with their ministers of matters delivered either by them or others, either at the same, or some other time?
  • 29. Whether hold you that the conversion of sinners to God is ordinarily the proper fruit and effect of the word Preached, by a Minister alone, and that by vertue of his Office alone, or that it is alike common to ministers, and Lay persons, so they be gifted to preach?
  • 30. Whether all and every of your Churches (including Plimouth, &c.) do precisely observe the same course both in Constitution and Government of themselves?
  • 31. VVhether would you permit any Companie of Ministers and People (being otherwise in some measure approvable) to sit downe by you, and set up and practise another forme of Disci∣pline, enioying like libertie with your selves in the Common∣wealth, and accepted as a sister Church by the rest of your Churches?
  • 32. VVhether hold you it lawfull to use any set forms of Prayer in publique or private, as the Lords prayer and others, either made by himselfe that useth the same, or else by some o∣ther man?
Page  7


The first Question Answered.

ALL the English and others also are freely admitted to be present in our Congregations, at the reading of the Scriptures, and exposition thereof (which is wont alwayes to goe along therewith) at the preaching of the word, singing of Psalmes, Prayers, Ad∣mitting of Members, and dispencing of Censures; And many also are ad∣mitted to Church Communion, and so to partake in Church Ordinances and priviledges, as Sacraments, power of Election, Censures, &c. though many also there are who are not yet admitted to this Church Communion. But whether is the greater number, those that are admitted hereunto, or those that are not we cannot certainly tell? But in the Churches in the Bay, where most of us are best acquainted, we may truely say, that for the heads of Fami∣lies, those that are admitted are farre more in number then the other: besides whom there are likewise sundry chil∣dren Page  8 and Servants that are Admitted also. And for the Rea∣son why many are not yet received to Church Communi∣on, they are sundry. 1. Many are not admitted because they are not yet knowne. Every yeare hitherto God hath replenished the Country with many new commers, and these at the first are not suddainly taken in, as Members of Churches, till by time there have been some triall of them, and better occasion to know them what they are. Some∣times once a yeare there are in the Land many hundreds, and some thousands of this sort. 2. When by time they come to be knowne, many do appeare to be carnall, and give no Testimony of being Members of Christ, and therefore if they should offer themselves to be Members of Churches the Churches would not see Warrant to receive them, be∣cause the Church is the body of Christ. 3. Some that are Godly do of their own accord for a time forbeare to offer themselves, till they be better acquainted with the Church and Ministry where they intend to joyne, and with the wayes in which the Churches walke in this Country, and and till they be better informed what are the duties of Church Members. 4. Those that are knowne to be God∣ly, are all admitted in some Church or other presently, up∣on their own desire, when they offer themselves thereto: except any have given offence by walking (in any particu∣lar, in their Conversation) otherwise then becomes the Gos∣pell; and then such are to give satisfaction to them to whom they have given offence, by acknowledgeing their offence, and shewing repentance for it, and then they are Admitted.

It is one thing what Churches ought to be by the ap∣pointment* of Jesus Christ, another, what weaknesse and swerving from his appointment, he may beare withall for a time, before he renounce and cast off a People from being his Church. In respect of the former our Answer is, That when a Visible Church is to be erected planted or consti∣tuted, by the Appointment of Christ, it is necessary that the matter of it in regard of quality, should be Saints by Page  9 calling, Visible Christians and Believers, 1 Cor. 1. 2. Eph. 1. 1. And in respect of Quantity no more in number in the dayes of the New Testament, but so many as may meet in one Congregation. 1 Cor. 11. 20 & 14. 23. Acts 14. 27. & 15. 22 30. And the forme, a gathering together of these visible Christians, a combining and uniting of them into one body, by the bond of an holy Covenant, for which we refer you to the Apolgie of the Churches in N. E. sent the last yeare in way of Answer to Mr. Bernard. For the latter we deny not, but visible Churches rightly constituted at the first, may degenerate, and great corruptions may grow therein, both in respect of matter and forme, and likewise in respect of their walking and Administrations, and yet the Lord in his patience may beare long with them, before he give them a Bill of Divorce, and make them Lo-ammi, not a People; as the example of the Church of Israel in the old Testament. Of the Church of Corinth, the Churches of Galatia, the 7 Churches of Asia, and others in the New Testament, doe abundantly manifest. But what degrees of corruption may be, before the soule as it were, and life, and being of a Church be destroyed, is hard for us precisely and punctu∣ally to determine; or to say thus farre a Church may erre, and yet remaine a Church; but if it proceed any further, then it ceaseth to be a Church any more; onely in the ge∣nerall this we observe, the Lord doth not presently cast off a Church or give them a Bill of Divorce, no not for funda∣mentall errors in Doctrine, or Idolatry in Worship, or Tyranny in Government, till after obstinate and rebellious rejection of Reformation, and the meanes thereof: for all these were found in the Church of Israel, when they cruci∣fied Christ, yet the Apostles rejected them not, till after the light of Grace offered, and blasphemously rejected, Acts 13. 45, 46. But if your selves have so Studied this point, as to have ripened and formed thoughts therein, we should gladly receive light from you.

We do not know any visible Church of the N. T. pro∣perly*Page  10 so called, but onely a particular Congregation; and therefore when this Question in the first and last clause of it speakes of Believers within the visible Church, as Members thereof, although they be not Members of that particular Congregation, where for the present they reside, nor of any other: this speech seemes to us according to our apprehension to imply a contradiction. They that are with∣in the visible Church as Members thereof, must needs be Members of some particular Congregation, because all visible Churches are Congregationall, as Mr. Baine sheweth at large from the Church of Antioch, Act. 14. 27. the Church at Corinth, 1 Cor. 11. & 14. and other examples and Reasons with Answers to the objections to the contrary in his Dioces. Triall Quest. 1. Whereto we referre you in this Point; neither is he alone in this Tenent, for Mr. Parker, and many other teach the same. Those silenced and depri∣ved Ministers that wrote the Booke called, The Christian and modest offer of Disputation, laying downe 16. Propositions which they offer to maintaine against the Prelats, give this for the fourth of them viz. There is no true visible Church of Christ, but a particular ordinary Congregation onely.

Doubtlesse every true visible Church hath power from Christ to exercise Excommunication and other Ordinances of Christ, so that they proceed therein according to the Rules of the word, 1 Cor. 5. 4. 5. Mat. 18. 17. Now Dr. Whitakers sheweth against Bellarmine, that Excommunicati∣on belongs not to the universall Church, but onely to a par∣ticular Congregation. Qui justè excommunicantur, saith he, co satanae traditos esse concedimu, non tmen posse prpriem, D••i ejects ex Ecclesia Catholica, Quia Excommunicatio non Catholica, sed particularis Ecclesiae censura est. De Eccles. Qu. 1. c. 6. Wherefore if Excommunication which belongs to the visi∣ble Church, belongeth to a particular Congregation, it fol∣loweth, that there is no visible Church, but onely a particu∣lar Congregation. Secondly, As all visible Believers are not without Christ, but in Christ, according as they are belie∣vers, so we easily grant; that those without, of whom the Page  11 Apostle speakes, 1 Cor. 5. were unbelievers, Pagans, and Hea∣thens, both without Christ, and also without the visible Church. For those that were in Christ, and believers in Him, were not wont to abstaine from joyning to some par∣ticular Congregation or other; and so it come to passe, that as they were in Christ by their Faith, so by such joyning they became also to be within the visible Church. 3. But this we conceive is cleare also, that unlesse Believers, be Members of this or that particular Congregation, to whose inspection and Government they have commended them∣selves in the Lord, they also in some respect may be said to be without, that is without the jurisdiction and power of the visible Church, and without right to the priviledges of it, as long as they continue in that State: for the Church hath nothing to do, either to dispence censures and Church priviledges to Pagans, who are without all Churches, and without Christ also; or to such Christians, who though they are not without Christ, yet are not within any particular Church: for neither the Church, nor the Ministers there∣of may be 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. And though those without of whom the Apostle speakes, 1 Cor. 5. were Pagans and Hea∣thens, both without Christ, and without the visible Church also, yet when hee speaketh of Judgeing, and saith they might judge them that are within, and not judge them that are without, hee must not be understood as if he meant it simply of being in Christ or without Christ, and no more then so, but also of being in that particular Congregation, and without it: for it is plaine, that those that were in Christ, if they were not also within their particular Congregation, they had nothing to do to judge them; and those that were within their particular Congregation, them they might judge, though they were not in Christ. 4. And that Church priviledges do not belong to Believers, as such, but onely to such as withall are Members of some particular Church: the Grounds and Reasons in the Answer to the third and fourth Proposition sent the last yeare, do seeme to us to make manifest, whereto we do referre you, for further An∣swer to this Question.

Page  12It is an opinion of the Anabaptists, that the Church is* made by Baptisme, and therefore when they constitute or erect a Church, they do it by being all of them Baptized, which was the manner of Mr. Smith, Mr. Helwis, and the rest of that company when they set up their Church: The Papists also do imagine, that men enter into the Church by Baptisme, and it is said, that their Founts were set neere the doores of their Temples, to signifie mens entring into the Church by Baptisme, and they thought themselves to be christened, or made christian soules by being Bap∣tized. But we do not believe that Baptisme doth make men Members of the Church, nor that it is to be Administred to them that are without the Church, as the way and meanes to bring them in, but to them that are within the Church, as a seale to confirme the Covenant of God unto them. For

1. This is one point of the dignity and priviledge of the Church, that Baptisme and all Church Ordinances are given and committed to it, as Circumcision, and Church Ordinances were given and concredited to the Church of the Jewes, Ioh. 7. 22. Now if Baptisme in its first being and institution be given as a benefit and priviledge to the Church, then Baptisme is not that which makes the Church; but the Church is presupposed, and must be before it, for the dones, or persons to whom a thing is given, must needs be before the gift that is given to them.

2. The nature and use of Baptisme is to be a seale to con∣firme the Covenant of Grace between God and his Church, and the Members thereof, as circumcision also was, Rom. 4. 11. Now a seale is not to make a thing that was not, but to con∣firme something that was before; and so Baptisme is not that which gives being to the Church, nor to the Covenant, but is for confirmation thereof. To bring in Baptisme be∣fore the Covenant, and before the Church, with whom God makes the Covenant and then to bring in the Church after∣wards, is to make Baptisme a seale unto a Blanke, or to a falshood. When the Jesuits of Rhemes had said that ChristPage  13 sent 12 Apostles to the Jewes to move them to penance, and so by Baptisme to make them of his Church. And that Paul was sent to the Gentiles to move them also to faith and penance, and by Baptisme to make them of his Church. This saying of making men of the Church by Baptisme, though uttered by them, as it were by the way, and not be∣ing the chiefe scope of their discourse, yet seemed to Mr. Cartwright so erroneous and unsound, that hee would not let it passe without bearing speciall witnesse against the same. And therefore in opposition thereunto he hath these words, and in another Character for more conspicuousnesse, viz. That Baptisme makes not men of the Church, but sealeth their incorporation into it, hath been declared afore. Argument of Acts 6. 1. And that Catechisme which is com∣monly said to be penned by our Reverend Brother Mr. Ball, or Mr. Nicholas, now with God, giving this for the de∣finition of Baptisme, that it is a Sacrament of our ingraft∣ing into Christ, communion with him, and entrance into the Church, doth in the Exposition plainely declare, that when they called Baptisme a Sacrament of our entrance in∣to the Church, they did not meane that Baptisme made men Members of the Church, but signified and sealed that they were Members afore: The seed of Abraham say they, Pag 144. Gal. 3. 7. or children of Christian Parents are within the Covenant, are Christians and Members of the Church, 1 Cor. 7. 14. Rom. 11. 16. Baptisme therefore doth not make them Christian soules, but doth solemnly signifie and Seale their ingrafting into Christ, and that communion which the Members of Christ have with him their head, and doth confirme, that they are acknowledged Members of the Church, and entred into it, 1 Pet. 3. 21.

3. The Lord hath had his Church when there was nei∣ther Baptisme nor circumcision, and therefore Baptisme or circumcision cannot be that which constitutes the Church. The Church is one and the same in essence from the begin∣ing of the world to the end thereof, viz. A company of People combined together by holy Covenant with God, Page  14 and one with another, and this hath been before Baptisme, and likewise before Circumcision in the dayes of the Patri∣arks afore Abraham. Yea if Baptisme now, or Circumcisi∣on in former time did make men Members of the Church, then for forty yeares together there was no making Members of the Church, for so long circumcision was discontinued, when Baptisme was not yet instituted, Ioss. 5. 2, 3. &c. And so by this meanes all that Generation of the Israelites that were not circumcised till their comming over Jordan unto Gilgall, should have bin no Members of the Church afore that time of their circumcision, which is con∣trary to the Scripture, which as it gives the name and title of a Church to the body of this people, when they were in the Wildernesse, Act. 7. 8. (and they were in the Wildernesse 40. yeares, in the latter parts of which time there were few left remaining that had beene circumcised) so it witnesseth that afore this time of their circumcision they were in covenant with God and his Church, Deut. 29. 10, 11, 12. For that covenant was not made with their Fathers that came out of Egypt, and were circumcised there, because that generation was consumed in the Wildernesse for their mur∣muring afore this time: but this covenant was made with the children, that as yet were uncircumcised, and therefore it was not circumcision that made men Members of the Church.

4. Baptisme hath been Administred, and no Church nor Members made thereby, and men have been made Members of Churches and not then Baptised, but before. And ther∣fore it is not Baptisme that makes men Members of the Church, Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the Region round about Jordan were Baptised of Iohn confessing their sinnes, Mat. 3. 6. And Christ made and Baptised more Disciples then Iohn, Ioh. 4. 1. And yet neither Christ nor John did make new Churches, nor gather men into them themselves, both the one and the other living and dying Members of the Jewish Church, which was not yet dissolved, untill up∣on their rejecting of Christ (not onely of his person upon Page  15 the crosse, but of his Gospel in blaspheming and persecut∣ing Grace offered them) the two staves of beauty and bands were broken and cut assunder, whereby God did breake the Covenant that he had made with that People, and the Bro∣therhood between Juda and Israel, that is, he did un church them, Zach. 11. 10, 11. &c. to 15. So that here is Bap∣tisme Administred by John and Christ, and yet men not received thereby into the Church as Members, for they were Members long afore.

Againe, when any of those of Jerusalem, Judea, and the Region round about Jordan, that were Baptised of John, or any of those, many more that were Baptised of Christ, were afterward joyned as Members to those christian Churches in Judea, Samaria, and Galile, Act. 9. 31. (As no doubt many of them were) they were not made Mem∣bers of those Christian Churches by being Baptised, for they were Baptised long afore by John and Christ, so that those men were Members of the Jewish Church, which was not yet dissolved, and were Baptised afterward. And therefore it was not Baptisme that made them members, either of the one Church or of the other.

5. There are sundry inconveniences, which for ought we see will unavoidably follow, if we shall say that Baptisme makes men members of the Church; For first, if Baptisme be that which constituts the Church, then Baptisme may be dispenced by them that are no Ministers, for extraordi∣nary Ministers, as Apostles, and such like are now ceased; and ordinary Ministers have no power to dispence Baptisme to any, but onely to them that are already members of the Church, seeing their Commission and power is limited to the Church, and the flock of God over which the Holy Ghost hath made them overseers, Acts 20. 28. Besides, the Church is before the Ministers, seeing the power of choo∣sing Ministers is given by Christ unto the Church; and ther∣fore if Baptisme be that which makes the Church, then men must be Baptised afore there be Ministers to Baptise them, and consequently without Ministers.

Page  16Secondly, if Baptisme rightly for substance partaked, doth make men members of the visible Church, then it will fol∣low that Papists are members of the Church: for they have Baptisme so farre right for substance, as that it needs not be repeated. But Mr. Perkins teacheth that this Baptisme proves not the Church of Rome, of which all Papists are members, to be any true Church of God, and gives sundry Reasons for the same, in Answer to them, that from Bap∣tisme rightly for substance Administred in Popish Assem∣blies, would prove those Assemblies to be true Churches: Exposit. of Creede, in the Article, I believe the holy Catholique Church.

And surely for our parts, we doe not see how it will be avoyded, but if Baptisme made men members of the visible Church, either Papists are members of the visible Church, and the Church of Rome, of which they are Members, a true visible Church, or else we must renounce their Baptisme as corrupt and false, even for the substance of it; and so all such as shall be converted from amongst them, must be Baptised againe, as not having had the substance of Baptisme before: such dangerous consequences do follow from saying, that Baptisme, rightly for substance partaked, doth make them that are so Baptised Members of the visible Church.

If any shall say, Though Baptisme do not make men Members of*the Church, yet it proves them to be Members as a cause, is proved by the effect, or an Antecedent by a consequent: and therefore all Bap∣tised Persons should be admitted to all Church priviledges as Mem∣bers, whereever they become.

We Answer, that this will not hold neither, but suppose* a man have received Baptisme as a Member of some visible Church, which ought not to have been Administred to him, had he not been a member, yet this doth not prove him to be a member still and so give him right to all Church Priviledges, though hee do remaine alwaies as a Baptised person; and the Reason is, because his Baptisme may remain, when his Church fellowship may be dissolved, as that he can have no right to Sacraments thereby: the Page  17 Church member-ship of a Baptised Person may be thus dis∣solved by sundry meanes. 1. By some sentence of Ex∣communication justly passed against him for his sinne; for that censure puts him away from the Communion of the Church, 1 Cor. 5. 2. 13. and makes him as an Heathen or Publican, Mat. 18. 17. So that in that case he can have no right to Sacraments by his Member-ship, though he still continue a Baptised Person. 2. By his voluntary depart∣ing from the Church and the communion of the same when it is unjustly done, 1 Ioh. 2. 19. Iude 19. Heb. 10. 25. In which case Dr. Ames resolves such Schismaticks to be no Members of the visible Church, Cas. Cons. Lib. 5. c. 12 Q. 4. Resp. 3. 3. By the dissolution of the Church of which he was a Member; for Church Member-ship is in relation to a Church, and therefore if the Church cease, the Member∣ship must cease also; Relatum & correlatum Quâ alia sunt si∣mul, adeoquese mutuoponunt et tollunt. Now a Church may be dissolved, 1. By Apostacie and Gods giving them a bill of Divorce thereupon, Ier. 3. 8. When yet there may be in such a Church some particular person or persons deare to God, who in such a case are bid to come out from such an Apostate Church, Rev. 18. 4. Hose. 2. 1, 2. & 4, 15, 17. 2. By death, as by some grievous Pestilence or Masacre, &c. in which case one particular person surviving, cannot be counted a Member of a Church, when that Church is ex∣tinct of which he was, and yet he remaines a person Bap∣tised if he were Baptised afore. 3. If that be true which is taught by Dr. Ames Cas. Cons. Lib. 5. c. 12. Q. 3. Resp. 2. that in some cases it is lawfull and necessary to withdraw from the communion of a true Church (which seemes to be agreeable to grounds of Scripture, Ephes. 5. 11. 2 Chr. 11. 14.) then that will be another case wherein Church Member∣ship is disanulled; for how a man can be counted in that state a Member of a Church, when hee hath lawfully and necessarily withdrawn himselfe from the communion of the Church, we do not understand. And this shall suffice for Answer unto this Point, whether Baptisme make men Page  18 Members of a visible Church, which as we conceive, is the scope and drift of this Question. Yet before we proceed to make Answer to the next, something also may be said con∣cerning some passages in your Amplification of this fourth Question. As first concerning those words wherein you aske, Whether they that are Baptised have not right, quoad nos, to all the priviledges of the visible Church (so farre as they are otherwise fit:) concerning which words we may say, 1. That those words of your Parenthesis (so farre as they are otherwise fit:) doe plainely imply, that in your judgement, though one hath received Baptisme, yet this doth not give him right to the priviledges of the visible Church, unlesse other things do concurre to make him fit, wherein we con∣sent with you. Now if this be so, then this seemes to be an Answer to that which (as we conceive) is the maine in∣tent of the Question. For how can it be, that Baptisme alone should give men right to the priviledges of the Church (as Members thereof, as the Question seemes to import) when in the Amplification of it, it is granted, that Persons Baptised have no such right, except other things doe concurre to make them fit: we doe not see how these things doe stand together.

Secondly, those words as farre as they are otherwise fit:) as they seeme to imply that which contradicts the maine scope of the Question; so they are so generall and of such a latitude, as that when the Question is Answered the Reader is still left at uncertainty: For if such a Parenthesis may be annexed (so farre as men are otherwise fit:) then the like Que∣stion may be applied to many other things besides Bap∣tisme, and would receive the very same Answer, as in case of Baptisme it would receive. As for example, if one should aske whether Morall honestie or litterall knowledge in the Scriptures, or Historicall Faith, or the use of Reason, whether any of these doe not give men right to Church priviledges, so farre as they are otherwise fit? You know the Answer would be, Yea. For though none of these be suffi∣cient alone, to give men right to the priviledges of the Page  19 Church, yet they are such as they that have them, have right so farre as they are otherwise fit, and so if it were granted that they that have received Baptisme have right, as you say, to all the priviledges of the Church, so farre as they are otherwise fit: yet as this doth not prove that Bap∣tisme alone doth give men such a right, so still it remaines to be considered, and more particularly declared, what those other things are that besides Baptisme must concurre to make one fit; and unlesse those things be expressed in particular, the Question with such a generall Qualification as is here set down, may be Answered affirmatively, and yet the Reader will be still in the darke, and as much to seeke as before.

Lastly, those words in the latter end of this Question had need to be further cleared, wherein you aske, Whether Bap∣tised persons have not right to all the priviledges of the Church, quoad nos, untill they be cast out by Excommunication? For sup∣pose an open Blasphemer, a Sabath-breaker, an Adulterer, a Drunkard, &c. that deserves to be Excommunicated, be not proceeded against according to rule, but be suffered to continue in the Church through bribery or other corrup∣tion of the times, would you say that such a person had right either before God, or quoad nos to all the priviledges of the Church, onely because hee is Baptised? Surely your words doe import so much, unlesse that Parenthesis (so far as they are otherwise fit) may be any helpe in this case. And yet we hope you doubt not but such Doggs and Swine have no right either quoad nos, or otherwise, to the priviledges of the Church as long as they continue in that State, although they have received Baptisme, and although through the sinfull neglect of men they be not cast out by Excommuni∣cation, as they doe deserve; For if grosse sinners have such right to Church priviledges, onely because they are Bapti∣sed, then by what right can the Church cast them out by Excommunication, as you seeme to confesse that she may: for can she castimen out from such priviledges whereunto they have right? doubtlesse such proceedings were not Page  20 right, unlesse the Church have such a Transcendent power as the Apostles never had, for they could do nothing against the truth but for the truth, nor had they any power for de∣struction, but for Edification, 2 Cor. 13. 8. 10. Wherefore we dare not say such men have right to Church priviledges (quoad nos) untill they be actually cast out, because before they be cast out, it must be cleare to the Church, that they have no such right, or else she can have no lawfull Right to cast them out.

1. Infants with us are Admitted Members in and with* their Parents, so as to be Admitted to all Church priviledges of which Infants are capable, as namely to Baptisme; and therefore when Parents are once Admitted, their Children are thereupon Baptised, if they were not Baptised afore, as sometimes it falls out. 2. But whether they should there∣upon be admitted to all other priviledges when they come to age, without any personall profession of Faith, or entring into Church Covenant, is another Question, of which by Reason of the Infancy of these Churches, we have had no occasion yet to determine what to judge or practise one way or other. 3. But for the present this we would say; It seemes by those words of your Parenthesis (being otherwise fit) you do acknowledge, that Children of Church Mem∣bers are not to be admitted to Church priviledges, unlesse they be fit, wherein we consent with you as counting it al∣together unsafe, that Idiots, Franticks, or persons openly ungracious and prophane, should be admitted to the Lords Table, though they were the Children of Church Mem∣bers, and thence we may inferre the necessity of their per∣sonall profession of their faith, when they come to yeares, and taking hold of Church-Covenant, whereby we meane onely a Renewing of Covenant, or a new professing of their Interest in Gods Covenant, and walking according to it, when they shall be Adulti: for otherwise we do confesse, Children that are borne when their Parents are Church Members, are in Covenant with God even from their Page  21 birth, Gen. 17. 7. 12. and their Baptisme did seale it to them. But notwithstanding their Birthright, we conceive there is a necessity of their personall profession of Faith, and taking hold of Church-Covenant when they come to yeares (though you seeme to thinke it not needfull:) for without this it cannot so well be discerned; what fitnesse is in them for the Lords Table and other Church priviledges, as by this meanes it might? And inasmuch as entring into Church-Covenant is nothing else but a solemne promise to the Lord, before him and the Church, to walke in all such wayes as the Gospel requireth of Church Members, if they shall refuse to make any such promise, and shall be unable, or unwilling to make any profession of their Faith, when it is required of them, this would be an evidence against them, of their unfitnesse for Church priviledges, inasmuch as they openly breake that Rule, 1 Pet. 3. 15. Be ready to give a Reason of the hope that is in you with meeknesse and feare. What hope is there that they will examine themselves when they eat of that Bread and drinke of that Cup, 1 Cor. 11. 28. Who when others do examine them they are unable or un∣willing to give Answer? Or how shall we thinke that they will receive the Lords Supper worthily, or walke as becomes the Gospel if they do refuse to professe or promise any such matter? Wherefore in this Point we cannot but fully ap∣prove the practise of the Reformed Churches, among whom it is the manner as Zepporus writeth, to admit Children that were Baptised in their Infancy unto the Lords Table, by publique profession of their Faith, and entring into Cove∣nant, consuetum est, saith he ut qui per aetatem, neque Doctrina Catechetica perfectum ad sacram Coenam primum admittuntur, fidei confessionem coram tota Ecclesiâ publicè edant, &c. Polit. Ecles. l. 1. c. 14. p. 158. that is, The manner is, that they who by reason of age and perficiency in the Doctrine of Cate∣chisme are first Admitted to the Lords Supper, should pub∣liquely before the whole Church, make confession of their Faith, being brought forth into the sight of the Church by their Parents, or them that are instead of Parents, at the Page  22 appointment of the Minister: and likewise should promise and Covenant by the Grace of God to continue in that faith which they have confessed, and to leade their lives accord∣ing to it: yea and moreover, to subject themselves freely and willingly to the Discipline of the Church; these words we see are full and plaine, that Children are not in those Churches received to the Lords Table without personall confession of Faith, and entring into Covenant before.

4. But how long Children should be counted under age, and whether Orphans are not to be admitted with their Guardians (which is your sixt Quaery) we should be willing to heare your judgement therein, as having of our selves hitherto had no occasion to search into those Questions; onely this we thinke, that one certaine rule cannot be given for all, whereby to determine how long they are under age, but according as God gives experience and maturity of na∣turall understanding, and Spirituall; which he gives soon∣er to some then unto others.

Such Children whose Father and Mother were neither* of them Believers, and sanctified, are counted by the Apo∣stle (as it seemes to us) not faederally holy, but uncleane, what ever their other Ancestors have been, 1 Cor. 7. 14. And therefore we Baptise them not. If you can give us a suffi∣cient Answer, to take us off from that Scripture, 1 Cor. 7. which seemes to limit this faederall sanctity or holynesse to the Children whose next Parents one or both were Belie∣vers, we should gladly hearken to you therein; but for the present, as we believe we speake, and practise according to our light. And if we should goe one degree beyond the next Parents, we see not but we may goe two, and if two, why not 3. 4 20, 100, or 1000? For where will you stop? And if we shall admit all Children to Baptisme, whose An∣cestors within a thousand Generations have been Believers, as some would have us, we might by this Reason Baptise the Children of Turkes, and of all the Indians, and Barbarians in the Country; for there is none of them but they have Page  23 had some Believing Ancestors within lesse then a 1000. Ge∣nerations, it being farre from so much since Noah and his Sonnes came forth out of the Arke.

We do believe that all Members of Churches ought to be* Saints, and faithfull in Christ Jesus, Eph. 1. 1. 1 Cor. 1. 2. Col. 1. 2. Phil. 1. 1. and thereupon we count it our duty to use all lawfull and convenient meanes, whereby God may helpe us to discerne, whether those that offer themselves for Church Members, be persons so qualified or no: and therefore first we heare them speake concerning the Gift and Grace of Justifying Faith in their soules, and the man∣ner of Gods dealing with them in working it in their hearts: which seemes to be your first particular in this Quaery. Secondly, we heare them speake what they do believe con∣cerning the Doctrine of Faith, so taking a tryall what mea∣sure they have of the good knowledge of the Lord, as know∣ing that without knowledge men cannot well Exa∣mine themselves and discerne the Lords body, as Church Members ought to doe when they come to the Lords Table. And hereby also we would prevent (as the Lord shall helpe us) the creeping in of any into the Church that may be infected with corrupt opinions of Ar∣minianisme Familisme, &c. or any other dangerous error against that faith which was once delivered to the Saints, as knowing how easily such men if they were admitted, might infect others, and perhaps destroy the Faith of some. And this seemes to be intended in your second particular. For both these we have our warrant as in Generall, from those places which shew how Church Members ought to be qua∣lified, that they ought to be Saints, faithfull in Christ Je∣sus, &c. So in speciall from that, Math. 3. 6. Acts 19 18, & Acts 8. 37. 38. Where men before they were admitted, made profession of Repentance towards God, and faith to∣wards the Lord Jesus Christ; for it is expressely said, that they confessed their sinnes, they confessed and shewed their deeds, they professed their faith in Jesus Christ the Sonne Page  24 of God. Thirdly, when this is done, those that by mani∣festation of Repentance and Faith are approved; as fit Members for a Church do openly professe their subjection to the Gospel of Christ, and to all the Ordinances of God in that Church, where now they joyne as Members, which seemes to be your third particular in this Quaerie. The Di∣stinction of particular Churches one from another, as seve∣rall and distinct Societies, seemes to us a necessary ground for this practise; for without this kinde of Covenanting, we know not how it would be avoyded, but all Churches would be confounded into one, inasmuch as it is neither Faith, nor intire affection, nor Towne-dwelling, nor fre∣quenting the Assemblies that can make a man a Member, or distinguish Church Members from other men: See the Apologie.

4. Your fourth particular in this Quaerie is Answered in the Answer to the sixt Position sent the last yeare: Besides all these, we heare the testimony of others, if there be any that can speake of the conversion and Godly conversation of such persons: which we judge to be a warrantable course from Acts 9. 26, 27.

It is the second of your Quaeries, what things we hold ne∣cessary* to the Being of a true visible Church in Generall: which being Answere; this of the Parish Assemblies in England in particular, whether we hold all or the most of them to be Churches, we conceive might well have been spared. They that now the state of those Assemblies may make application of the Generall to the particulars, if they have a calling therunto. Yet because you are pleased to put us to this also, we thus Answer. 1. That we doubt not but of Ancient time there have been many true Churches in England consisting of right matter, and compacted and uni∣ted together by the right forme of an holy Covenant. For Mr. Fox sheweth at large, that the Gospel was brought into England in the Apostles times, or within a little while after, Acts & Mo. lib. 2. begining p. 137. Where hee reporteth out of Gildas, that England received the Gospel in the time Page  25 of Tiberius the Emperor, under whom Christ suffered; and that Joseph of Arin. athea was sent of Philip the Apostle from France to England, about the yeare of Christ 63. and remain∣ed in England all his time, and so hee with his fellowes laid the first foundation of Christian Faith among the Brittaine people, and other Preachers and Teachers comming after∣wards, confirmed the same and increased it. Also the said Mr. Fox reporteth out of Trtullian, that the Gospel was disperced abroad by the sound of the Apostles into many Nations, and amongst the rest into Brittaine, yea into the wildest places of Brittaine, which the Romans could never attaine unto, and alledgeth also out of Necephorus, that Simon Zelotes did spread the Gospell to the West Ocean, and brought the same into the Iles of Brittanie, and sundry other proofs he there hath for the same Point. Now if the Gospel and Christian Religion were brought into England in the Apostles times, and by their meanes, it is like there were Churches planted there of Saints by calling (which is the right matter of Churches) and by way of holy Covenant, as the right form: for that was the manner of Constituting Churches in the Apostles times, as also in the times afore Christ, as hath been shewed from the Scripture in the Apo∣logie. And the footsteps hereof (though mixed with mani∣fold corruptions that have growne in aftertimes) are re∣maining in many places of the Land to this day, as appea∣reth by those 3 Questions and Answers at Baptisme. Abre∣nuntias? Abrenuntio; Credis? Credo: Spondes? Spondeo: Dost thou renounce the Devill and all his works? I renounce them all. dost thou believe in God the Father &c? I do believe. Dost thou pro∣mise to walk according to this Faith &c? I do promise. For though it may be they conceived, that men entred into the Church by Baptisme, yet hereby it appears that their judgment was that, when men entred into the Church there ought to be a renouncing of sin, and believing on Christ, and an open pro∣fessing of these things, with a promise to walk accordingly.

Secondly, Though Popish Apostacy did afterwards for many ages over-spread all the Churches in England (as in other Countries) yet we believe God still reserved a rem∣nant according to the Election of Grace amongst them, for Page  26 whose sake he reserved the Holy Scriptures amongst them, and Baptisme in the name of the Trinity onely. And when God of his rich Grace was pleased to stirre up the Spirit of King Edward the sixth, and Queene Elizabeth to cast off the Pope and all fundamentall errors in Doctrine and Worship, and a great part of the Tyranny of Popish Church Govern∣ment though at first some Shires and sundry Parishes stood out against that Reformation for a time, yet afterwards they generally received the Articles of Religion agreed upon Anno 1562. which are published and consented to by all the Ministers endowed in every Congregation, with the silent consent also of the people, and subscription of the hands of the chiefe of them; wherein they do acknowledge no rule of Faith or manners, but the holy Scriptures; no divine Worship but to God onely; no mediation nor salvation but in Christ onely: no conversion by mans free will, but by Gods free Grace: no Justification but by Faith: no per∣fection nor merit of works, with sundry other necessary and saving truths; all which containing the Marrow and Summe of the Oracles of God wich are the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the elo∣quia Des, concredited onely to the Church. Rom. 3. 1. 2. and which are that saving Doctrine of truth, which is fruit∣full in all the world where it comes, olo. 1. 5, 6. and upon which the Church is grounded and built, and which also it holdeth forth and maintaineth, 1 Tim. 3. 15.) we do therefore acknowledge, that where the people do with common and mutuall consent gather into setled Congre∣gations ordinarily every Lords day, as in England they do, to heare and teach this Doctrine, and do professe their sub∣jection therunto, and do binde themselves and their Chil∣dren (as in Baptisme they do) to continue therein, that such Congregations are true Churches, notwithstanding sundry defects and dangerous corruptions found in them, wherein we follow the judgement of Calvin Instit. 4. 1. 9. 10. &c. Witaker, de notis cclesiae cap. 17. and many other Divines of chiefe note: nor can we judge or speake harshly of the Wombes that bare us, nor of the paps which gave us suck.

Thirdly, But inasmuch as grievous corruptions of latter yeares have greatly increased in some of those Assemblies Page  27 (as we heare) both in Doctrine, in Worship, and in the Go∣vernment thereof, besides those that were when some of us were there, and in former Yeares: Therefore we are not with∣out feare (and with griefe we speake it) what things may come unto at length. If Corruptions should still increase and grow' they might come in time (if the Lord be not more mercifull) un∣to such an height as unto obstinacy in evill, and to wilifull re∣jection of Reformation, and the meanes thereof; and then you know it might be just with God to cast off such utterly, out of the account and number of his Churches; so as never to walke among them any more: which we heartily pray the Father of mercies to prevent that such a day may never be: But if Ephe∣sus repent not of her declinings, the Lord hath threatned that he will come unto her quickly, and remove her Candlesticke; that is, he will un-Church them, Rev. 2. 4, 5. and Lukewarme Laodi∣cea shall be spewed out of his Mouth, Rev. 3. 16. And therefore it behoves such of them to Repent, and Reform themselves betime, lest the Lord deale with them as he hah done with others.

And it much concernes your selves (in hearty love and faith∣fullnesse we speake i, and so we desire you woud accept of it) it very much concernes you (deare Brethren) whil'st you live amongst them, to beare faithfull witnesse against the corrupti∣ons that are remaining in any of them, in respect of their Con∣stitution, Worship, Dscipline and Ministerie, lst by any sinne∣full silence or slacknesse of yours that should blow the Trumpet and stand in the gap, the breach should be made wider, and the iniquity increase; and lest men should flatter themselves in their sinnes, under the Name and Title of the true Church, as the Jewes thought themselves secure because of the Temple of the Lord, Jer. 7. 4.

4. Because you would know not onelie whether we count those Assemblies to b Churches, but what wee would doe for joining in Gods Worship in them, if occasion served thereun∣to: We Answer, that if we were in England, we should wil∣lingly joine in▪ some parts of Gods true Worship, and namely in hearing the Word, where it is truely Preached in sundry Assemblies there; Yea though we doe not know them to bee Churches, or knew not what they were, whether true Churches or no? For some Worship, as Praier, and Preaching, and Hea∣ring Page  28 the Word, is not peculiar to Church Assemblies, but may be performed in other meetings. Mars-hill at Athens was no Church, nor the Prison at Philippi, and yet the Word of GOD was Preached and heard lawfully wth good successe in thse places, Act. 17. and Act. 16. How much more might it bee lawfull to heare the wrd in many Parish assemblies in England, in when generlly there is a professing of Christ; and in many of them: Mn, Souls that are sincere and upright hearted Christians, as any are this day upon the face of the Earth; and mny Congregations indeed that are the true Churches of Je∣sus Christ, See Mr. Robinsons Treatise of the lawfullnesse of hearing the Ministers in the Church of ENGLAND.

5. But why we durst not partake in their prescript Lyturgie, and such Ordinances though true, as are administred therein; We gave you account the last Yeare, in Answer to the first and second Position: As alo in an Answer to a Discourse of that Subject, Penned by our Reverend Brother Mr. Ball. What we have done in our ignorance whil'st we lived amongst you, wee have seene cause rather to bewaile it in our selves here, then to it in others there.

Our Answer to this Question is this, 1. That we never yet* knew any to come from England in such a manner as you do here describe ( the things you mention may be taken conjunctim, and not severally) viz: to be Men famously known to be godly, and to bring sufficient Testimoniall thereof from others that are so knowne, and from the Congregation it selfe, whereof they were Members: We say we never yet knew any to come to us from thence in such a manner, but one or other of the things here men∣tioned are wanting: and generally this is wanting in all of them, that they bring no Testimoniall from the Congregation it selfe: And therefore no marvell if they have not beene admitted (fur∣ther then before hath been expressed in Answer to Quest. 1.) to Church Ordinances with us, before they have joyned to one or other of our Churches; for though some that come over bee famously knowne to our selves to be Godly, or bring suffici∣ent Testimoniall with them from private Christians, yet neither is our knowledge of them, nor Testimonal from pivate Christi∣ans sufficient to give us Church-power over them, which wee Page  29 had need to have, if we must dispence the Ordinances of Church communion to them? though it be sufficient to procure all due Reverent respect, and hearty love to them in the Lord.

2. If the things mentioned were all to be found, yet it wud be also requisite (if they would partake of Church Ordi∣nances with us, and yet not joyne to any of our Churches) that w•• should know the Congregation it selfe, from which they come, not onely to be a true Church, but also what manner of one it is: For such persons cannot communicate with us in Church Ordinances in their owne right; because they joine not as Members in any of our Churches; but it must be in right of the Congregation in England, to which they doe belong, and by virtue of the communion of Churches, and so our admitting of them to communion with us in such a manner, and upon such terms, is not only an Act of Communion with the persons them∣selves, but also with the Congregation of which they are: Now as we cannot of Faith admit men to Church Ordinances, which we believe belong only to Church Members; unles we know the Congregation of which they are Members to be a true Church. So somtimes a Congregation may be so corrupt, that though it doe remain a true Church, yet for the corruption and impurities of it, it may be lawfull and necessary to withdraw communion from the same (for which Dr. Ames gives sundry grounds and Reasons, Cas. Cons. lib. c. 12. Q. 3. Resp. 2.) or at least to protest against some grosse corruptions therein. In regard whereof we had need to have some knowledge and information what that Congregation is, with whom now we have Church com∣munion; when in heir right wee admit mn into communion, that wee may know how to admit such Mn, and what to re∣quire from them more or lsse. And this together with that want of testimoniall from the congregation is one main Reason, why some few godly men that have come from England upon occasi∣on, not with purpose of continuance here, but of returning a∣gain; have not beene received to Church Ordinances during thei abode in the Countrey (though this we may say also, that we know not of any such that have requested to be received) whereas uch as have come in lke manner from one Cuch to another mngst our selves, upon their requst have been rcei∣ved: the Reason ne say is, because these Churces are better Page  30 knowne then the Parish Assemblies are.

3. But if men come from one Church in this Countrey to a∣nother with purpose there to stay, and not to returne to the Church from whence they came, (which is the manner of all, or the most that come from England) they are not recived in∣to our Churches; but upon the very same tearmes, and in the same manner, as men are received that come from England; viz: upon personall profession of their faith, and entring into Church Covenant, in that Church to which they now come (And the same we say of such as come from any of the Churches in other Countries) and wherefore are they not received otherwise, be∣cause we renounce the Church of which they were Members as no true Church? Not so, but because wee believe in matter of Faith, (such as is the admitting of Members) any true Church may erre: and there may now bee seene some unworthinesse in the man which did not appeare when hee was admitted in the other Church: and therefore no reason that the Act of one Church in the admitting of Members or the like, should bee a binding Rule unto another; for all Churches are left to their liberty to admit and receive such into their Chuch; as they shal find to be fit according to the Rule of the word, and to refuse others, without respect of what they have bin before, whether Members of this Church, or that Church, or of any Church, or none: and therefore in this, our walking and practice, is alike to∣wards one another, and towards others as it is towards yours. In which practise we are not alone, for the very same as Mr. Par∣ker reporteth, is the manner of the Reformed Churches, a∣mongst whom, no man is admitted for a Member; but upon personall profession of faith, and entring into Church covenant, though it may be he have formally beene admitted in the very same manner in the Church where he lived before, Polit. Eccles. l. 3. c. 16. 3. 4. p. 171.

If the ground of this Qu. were any doubt in your owne con∣sciences* concerning your owne way, there were no fault in pro∣pounding such a Qu. for further light and satisfaction, if wee were able to give it. Or if it did arie from any unnecessary in∣termedling of ours in your matters, so as to take on us to con∣demne or judge your present standing, when we have no cal∣ling Page  31 thereunto, there were then Reason why we should give ac∣count of our owne doings or sayings. But if it came from some men we should looke at it as a tempting Question, tending onely to make matter, and pick quarrells; and then we should leave it to them that framed it, to consider the ground of it; and to frme their owne Answer to it. As for us, we have alwayes been slow and loth to judge or condemne your present standing; remembring the saying of the Apostle, Who art thou that judg∣est another Mans Servant, he standeth or falleth to his own Master, Rom. 14. 4. But now knowing you well (Reverend and Deare Brethren) and your integrity, we thinke wee may lawfully and safely Answer, and that wee would doe by promising a few di∣stinctions, for explaining the Termes of the Question.

1. Concerning the persons in the Parish Assemblies, which may be meant of such as the providence of God hath so disposd that they are free and at liberty: or of such as are bound, and it may be not sui juris, as Wives, Children under the government of Parents, Servants, Apprentices, Prisoners, Sicke∣folkes, &c.

2. Concerning the Parish Assemblies, which may bee meant either of such as want the Preaching of the Word or Sacra∣ments, or Discipline, or any other holy Ordinance of Christ, or have many Ordinances in them which are not of God, but of Men: or else it may be meant of some others, which in both respects are Reformed and pure, if there be any such.

3. Concerning standing in them, which may be meant onely of habitation, and dwelling upon House or Land within the Pre∣cincts of the Parish; or else in conforming in judgement or practise to the corrupt Eccesiasticall Ordinances used in those Assemblies; and contenting themselves therewith.

4. Concerning lawfull and safe; where safety may be meant either of safety from sinne, or from danger by persecution, these Distinctions wee judge necessary to bee premised, because your Question is, whether wee count your standing in the Parish Assemblies lawfull and safe; or how farre it may be so? And so our Answer is in 3. Propositions.

1. Some Persons, and namely those that are not sui juris, may lawfully and without sinne; though it may bee not safely with∣out danger of persecution, continue such standing in the Parish Page  32 Assemblies, as doe dwell within the Prc••cts of them, so long as they neither conforme themselves to the corruptions of men by such continuing of their standing, nor live in the neglect or want of any Ordinance of CHRIST through their owne de∣fault.

2. Such standing in the Parish Assemblies, where a man shall, and must conforme to the corruptions of men, in Doctrine or Worship; or the Government of the Chuch, is not lawfull for any to be continued in.

3. To continue such standing in the Parish Assemblies, as to live in the want of any Ordinance of Christ is not lawfull, nor can be done safely without sinne of them, to whom the provi∣dence of God doth open a doore of further enlargement.

The first of these Propositions wee suppose you doubt not of.

The second is confirmed by many places of Scripture; and namely by such as these. Though Israel play the Harlot, yet let not Iudah offend, and come not yee to Gilgall, nor go up to Bethaven, nor sweare the Lord liveth: Ephraim is joyned to Idolls, let him a∣lone, Hos, 4. 15. 17. Come out from among them, and be ye separate saith the Lord, and touch no uncleane thing, and I will receive you, 2 Cor. 6. 17. Be not partaker of other Mens sinnes, keep thy selfe pure, 1 Tim. 5. 22. Come out of her my People, that yee bee not partakers of her sinnes, and that yee receive not of her Plagues, Rev. 18. 4. Have no fellowship with the unfruitfull works of darkenesse, but reprove them rather, Eph. 5. 11. Ephraim is op∣pressed and broken in judgment; because he willingly walked after the Commandement, Hos. 5. 11. Wee ought to obey God rather then Men, Act. 4 19. and 5. 29. Jeroboam made Priests of the lowest of the People, which were not of the sonnes of Levi, and ordained a Feast in the fifteenth day of the Eigth Moneth, in the Month which he had devised of his we heart, &c. and then the Levites left their Suburbs and their posessions, and came to Iudah and Ierusalem, for Ieroboam and his Sonnes had cast them off from executing the Priests Office unto the Lord; and after them out of all the Tribes of Israell, such as set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel, came to Ierusalem to Sacrifice to the Lord God of their Fathers, 1 King. 12. 31 32 33. with 2 Chron. 11. 14. 16. Vpon these and such like grounds of holy Scrip∣ture Page  33 we are perswaded that such standing in the Parish Assem∣blies, as this second Proposition mentions, is not lawfull for a∣ny to be continued in. And we hope, you doubt not of the truth of this second Proposition neither, though we are afraid that many Christians, when it comes to practice, doe sinfully pollute themselves by partaking in the Ceremonies, and other corrupti∣ons in the prayers, in the Doctrine, and in the Ministery remai∣ning in sundry of those Assemblies, whom it will bee your part whilst you live among them faithfully and by all good meanes to instruct and teach, and exhort, to save themselves from the corruptions and pollutions of the times and places wherin they live; as well in this particular of Church matters, and Gods Worship as in other things: Wherein wee wish with all our hearts that our selves when time was, had been more watchfull and faithfull to God and the soules of his People, then the best of us were: The Lord lay not our Ignorance to our charge.

The third Proposition may bee made good sundry wayes, 1. By precepts, wherin we are commanded to observe all things whatsoeuer Christ hath commanded, Mat. 28. 20. to seeke the Kingdom of God and his Righteousnesse, Mat. 6. 33. to yeild our selves unto the Lord, and to enter into his Sanctuary, 2 Chr. 30. 8. And therefore we may not please our selves to live in the neglect of any Ordinance which he hath instituted and appoin∣ted. 2. By examples, for the Spouse of Christ will not rest seeking her beloved untill shee finde him in the fullest manner, Cant. 1. 7, 8. and 3. 1, 2. &c. and the same minde was in Da∣vid; as appeares by his heavy Lamentation, when he wanted the full fruition of Gods Ordinances, and his longings, and prayer to be restored thereto, Psal. 63. and Psal. 42. and 84. although he enjoyed Abiathar the High Priest, and the Ephod with him; and likewise Gad the Prophet, 1 Sam. 23. 6, 9, 10. &c. 1 Sam. 22. 5. when good Ezra in his journey from Babilon to Ierusalem, viewing the People at the River Ahava found none of the Sonnes of Levi there, afore he would goe any further, he sent unto Iddo a the place Caiphia for Ministers for the House of God, Ezra 8. 15. 16. &c. And when being come to Ierusa∣lem they found by the law, that it was an Ordinance of God to dwell in Boothes, and keepe the Feast of Tabernacles in the se∣venth Page  34 Month, they presently set upon the practice thereof, in the appointed season; when the like had not beene done in Israel, from the dayes oIoshua the son of Nun unto that day, Neh. 8. 14. &c. Yea, and our Lord Jesus himselfe, though ee had no need of Sacraments, to be to him any scale of Remission or for∣givenesse of sinnes, yet in conscience to the Ordinance of GOD, (that he might fullfill all righteousnesse, Mat. 3. 15▪) and for our example, did both observe the Passover, and likewise was Baptized, and did eat with his Disciples at his last Supper. All which examples being written for our learning, doe shew us how farre wee should bee from contenting our selves to live in the Voluntary want of any Ordinance and appointment of GOD.

3. There is none of the Ordinances of Christ, but they are needfull and very profitable in the right use of them to the soules of his Servants: And therefore they should not be neglected. To thinke of any of them, as things that may well bee spared; and therefore to content our selves to be without them, is to call in question the wisdome of him that did appoint them, and to make our selves wiser then God.

4. Our owne infirmities and Spirituall wnts are such, as that wee have continuall need of all the holy meanes which the Lord hath appointed, for supplying what is wanting in us; for correcting what is amisse; and for our continuance and growth in grace. Hee is a proud man, and knowes not his own heart in any measure, who thinkes he may well be without any spiri∣tuall Institution and Ordinance of Jesus Christ. Upon these and such like ground, we hold i not lawfull nor safe, for any Chri∣stian that is free, to continue such standing in the Parish Assem∣blies where he cannot enjoy all the spiritual and holy Ordinan∣ces of Christ. And hereupon we do exhort you lovingly in the Lord, to take heed that this be not the sinne of any of you, nor of any other, whom your example may embolden thereunto: For necessity is laid upon you, and upon all Christians, by thse and such like grounds of the holy word of the Lord; That nei∣ther you, nor others doe live in the voluntary want of any holy Ordinance of Christ Jesus, but either et them up, and observe them in the places where you are; or else (if you bee free) to remove for the enjoyment of them, to some place where they Page  35 may be had; and it may be of the two, rather this latter. For sometimes i Israel Sacrifice to their God in the Land, they shall Sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the Lord: And o say they, shall wee sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us? It is better therefore in such a case to goe into the Wildernesse, and to do it there, Exo. 8. 25. 26, 27. Hos. 2. 14. Mat. 10. 23.

As for that opinion that may be in the minds of some, that if any*Ordinance of Goa be wanting, it is the sinne of them that are in Au∣thority, and they must answer for it? But the people of God may without sinne, live in the want of such Ordinances as Superiors provide not for them.

The Answer hereuntois, that indeed the Ordinances of God* may more peaceably and quietly bee observed where the Com∣mandement and countenance of Magistrates is afforded; for then is fullfilled the saying that is written, Kings shall bee thy nursing Fathers, and Queens thy nursing Mothers, Esa. 49. 23. and doubt∣lesse it is a great blessing, when God (that hath the hearts of Kings and Princes in his hands, Prov. 21. 1.) doth incline them to favour, and further the service of the House of GOD, as som∣times he doth, even when themselves are Alients and Strangers. Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes, gave great countenance and incouragement to the Jewes to build the House of God, that they might offer sacrifices of sweet savour to the God of Heaven, and pray for the life of the King and of his Sonnes, Ezra 6. 8 9, 10. I which case good Ezra blesseth the Lord, that had put such a thing into the Kings heart, to beautifie the House of the God of Heaven, Ezra 7. 27. And therefore Kings and all in Authority, should be prayed for, that we may lead a godly and peaceable life, in Godlinesse and honesty, 1 Tim. 2. 1, 2. Neverthelesse, the things that are ordained and commanded of GOD, the observing of them in a peaceable way (yeilding out reverence to all that are in Authority, and praying for them) this observing of the Ordi∣nances of God cannot be unlawfull, for lack of the Commande∣ment of Man, as appeares by the doctrine and practce of the A∣postles, Act. 4. 19. & 5. 29. and the approved practise of Be∣lievers in their times, if they had neglected the Ordinances of God and namely Church Ordinances, till they had had the commandement of Magistrate therein, such neglect would have Page  36 beene their grievous sinne, and for ought we know they might have lived and died without them, the Magistrates at that time beng all either Heathens or Jewes, yet enemies; and if Church Communion and the exercise of such Ordinances, as Christ hath appointed for his Churches, was lawfull, and needfull, and pro∣fitable, when Magistrates were enemies to the Gospell; and bee not so when Magistrates doe professe the Gospell, we doe not see but Christians may sometimes be losers by having Christian Magistrates, and in worse condition, then if they had none but professed Eemies. Besides this, if▪ Superiors should neglect to provide bodily sustenance for them that are under their charge; we doe not thinke that any Mans Conscience would be so scru∣pulous, but hee would thinke it lawfull by all good meanes to provide for himself in such case, rather then to sit▪ still and say, if I perish for hunger, it is the sinne of them that have Authority o∣ver mee, and they must answer for It: Neither can we tell how the Conscience of any Christian can excuse himself, if he thinks no the Ordinances of Christ, as necessary for the good of his soule, as food is necessary for his temporall life; or doe not wil∣lingly in this spirituall hunger break through stone Walls as the Proverbe i, and runne from Sea to Sea to seeke God in his owne way, rather then to perish without spirituall food, because others provide not for him.

And this is our Answer to this eleventh Quere, concerning your standing in the Parish Assemblies: which Answer of ours, and the exhortation therein, as we pray the Father of mercies to make effectuall by his blessing for those good ends, which wee intend therein, so wee cannot in the same, but reflect upon our selves and our owne wayes in times past; as seeing not a little cause to judge our selves before the Lord, as long as wee live, for our sinfull ignorance and negligence, when wee were in England,o observe and walke according to those Rules of the Word, which now upon occasion given by this Qu. wee doe commend to your selves and other Christians. The Lord in mercy pardon our offences, and direct your selves and his ser∣vants in ur deare Native Countrey, both in remaining and re∣moving to doe that which is pleasing in his sight.

Whereas this Qu. in the first clause and last but one compared*Page  37 together speakes of Believers out of the Kingdome of GOD, and possibility of salvation, we conceive it is a contradiction, for those that are true Believers, cannot be out of possibility of sal∣vaon, but possibly may, yea most undoubtedly shall bee saved, Joh. 3. 16. and 5. 24. the contrary whereof is to overthrow all the promises of the Gospell, and with the Papists and Armini∣ans to establish falling from grace.

2. For that saying, Extra Ecclesiam non est salus, wee conceive it cannot be universally true, if it be meant of the visible Church, which in the New-Testament is a particular Congregation; but onely being taken for the Church invisible, or the Vniversall Church, which is the whole company of the elect in Heaven, in Earth, and not yet borne, Ioh. 10. 16. and 17. 20. out of which elected Company there is not one that shall be saved, nor any of the elect neither, but in the way of Regeneration, Ioh 3. 3. but as for the Visible, we believe the old saying is true, there are ma∣ny Wolves within, and many Sheepe without, Joh. 10. 16. and therefore it cannot be universally true, that out of the Visible Church there is no salvation: Inasmuch as all Christs Sheepe shall be saved, Ioh. 10. 28. of whom yet notwithstanding there are some not joyned to the Visible Church: If the Thiefe that repented on the Crosse was a Gentile, as it was possible he was; then hee was uncircumcised, and then it will trouble a Man to tell of what Visible Church he was: and yet there is no doubt but he was saved. The like may be said of Iob and of his friends, of whose salvation we make no question, and yet it is a great question whether they were of any Visible Church or no, inas∣much as the Visible Church in those times seemed to be appro∣priated to the House and posterity of Abraham, Isaac, and Iacob, of which line & race it cannot easily be proved that all these men did come, nor that they joined themselves in Visible fellowship with that Church. The Centurion, Mat. 8. 10. and the Wo∣man of Canaan, Mat. 15. were both of them believers and sa∣ved, and yet it doth not appeare that they were members of the Visible Church of the Iews, which was the only visible Church of God in those times.

Men of yeares ought to be believers, and so in the state of Sal∣vation afore they be joyned to the Visible Church, and therefore there may be salvation out of that Church: For it is possible Page  38 that such an one as being a Believer is fit to bee joyned to the Church my di and depart this life afore hee can bee joyned, as that good Emperour Valentiian 2. died before hee could bee baptize. And for your selves if you should thinke that Bap∣tisme makes men members of the Visible Church; as is intimated in your fourth Question: you may not then deny but there may be salvation out of the visible Church: unlesse you will say that there is no salvation without Baptisme, which we believe is farre from you to imagine.

3. We doe hold that so; oft and so long as a believer doth not joyne himselfe as a Member to some particular Congrega∣tion or other, so oft and so long: he is without the Church in the Apostles sence, 1 Cor. 5. for the Church in the Apostles sence, is a particular Congregation; for he writeth to, and of the Church at Corinth, which Church was a particular Congregation, 1 Cor. 5, 4, & 14. 23. & 11. 17. 20. and having power of judgeing her own Members (as all visible Churches have) yet had no power of Judgeing any, but such as were within that particular Congregation, as all them they had power to judge, whether they were believers in Christ or no. Mr. Bi•• (as we said be∣fore) is very large and cleare in proving this Position, that the Churches instituted by Christ and the Apostles, were only such as might meet in one Congregation ordinarily, and answers many objections to the contrary, Dices. tryal. Q. 1.

4. For the Question it selfe, we hold that every believer (if possibly he can) is alwayes bound to joyne himselfe as a Mem∣ber to some particular Congregation or other; and yet not be∣cause, else he is a Heathen and Publican, or out of possibilitie of salvation, as this Question suggests, but upon other grounds.

1. Because of the Commandment of God, Cant. 1. 8. Math. 6. 10. 33.

2. Because willingly not to doe this is a secret disparage∣ment to the wisdome of God that hath ordained▪ Churches with giving power and privilegdes therunto Mat. 18. 17. 1 Cor. 5. 4. and promises of his gracions presence to be with them and a∣mongst them, Mat. 18. 20. Rev. 2. 1. Exod. 20. 24. Now to what end were all these, if believers should live and no joyne themselves to some Church? These priviledges and promises would in such case be all in vain, and the mercy of God offered therin, unthankfully neglected.

Page  39Thirdly, voluntarily abstaining from joyning to the Church is noted and condemned as a sinne, Heb. 10. 25. and a signe of fearefull unbelievers, Act. 5. 13. of the rest durst no man joyne unto them.

Fourthly, good men in Scripture have been forward in practise this way, Isay 2. 2, 3. Zach. 8. 23. Act. 2. 41, 42. and 9. 26. and have mourned with much bitternesse when they have been deprived of Liberty so to doe, Isay 56. 3. and Ps. 42. and 63. and 84.

Fiftly, this joyning is a part of that Order, and orderly walking which is required of believers, Col. 2. 5. 1 Cor. 14. 40.

Sixtly, If Believers doe neglect this joyning, it is not onely a wrong to themselves, but also a great unkindnesse to God: for if one believer may doe this, why not another, and if two why not three, foure &c. and▪ if all believers should doe thus, God should have no visible Churches upon Earth, unles he will acknowledge the Assemblies to be of unbelievers Churches: foras stones in the Mountains are not an house un∣till they be joyned together, though they be digged up out of the Quarry, and squared & hewn, and hereby are made fit to be joyned together, and so to become an house: so belie∣vers are not a Church till they be joyned in holy Covenant in some Congregation, though the worke, of Grace and Faith in their soules have made them fit, and meete to be a Church of God, which is the House of the living God: or as the humane soule and body are not a man unlesse they be united; so Christian or believers are not a visible Church without visible union into some particular. Congregation. Mr. Perkins having said that forth of the militant Church: there are no meanes of salvation, no preaching of Gods word, no invocation of Gods Name, no Sacraments, and therefore no Salvation; concludes with these words; For this cause every man must be admonished evermore to joyn himselfe to some particular Church, being a sound Mem∣ber of the Catholick Church, Expos. of Creed in the Article of the Church; and Doctor Ames gives 6. Reasons, why every Christian should ioyne himselfe to some parti∣cular Church or other Cas. Cons. L. 4. c. 24. Q. 1. and in another place he hath these words. Illi igitur qui▪ occasion••Page  40 habent adjungendi sese Ecclesiae, & am negligunt, gravissimè pec∣cant, non tantum in Deum ratione Institutionis, sed etiam in suas proprias animas ratione benedictionis adjunctae, etsi obstinatè persi∣stant in ipsa incuia, quicquid alias profitentur, vix possunt haberi pro fidelibus Regnum Dei verè quaerentibus. Medul. Theol. l. 1. c. 32. Sect. 28.

First, whereas this 13th. Question speakes of private* and illiterate persons into a Church Body combined, wee looke at this as an incongruous expression, if not a contra∣diction. For a company so combined as to make a Church, are not fitly called private, (though they be illiterate in re∣spect of humane learning) in as much as a Church or a Church-body, especially in times and places of peace and liberty, is a publike Congregation and society: and the acts of Communion which they have among themselves (such as is the election and deposing of Ministers, whereof the Question makes mention) are not private acts but publike or people-like. Neither are literate or learned men there∣fore publike, because they are indued with humane lear∣ning, unlesse withall they be called to publike office or im∣ployment in Church or Common-wealth: and therefore if illiterate be an exegesis of private, we conceive that exegesis is not good.

Secondly, whereas this Question asketh Whether it be lawfull and convenient that such a company should themselvs ordinarily exa∣mine elect, ordain and depose their owne Ministers? if ordinarily be as much as frequently, we answer three things. First, that if one Church doe frequently come to such actions, that is, to take in and put out the same men, this is not without suspi∣tion of much levity and rashnesse in the people, or unfaith∣fulnesse or unworthy walking in the Ministers, or both; and therefore ordinarly, that is, frequent taking in and put∣ting out againe in this manner, is as much as may be to be avoided. Secondly, when such things doe often and fre∣quently fall out, it is doubtlesse a Judgement of God upon such a people to have so many changes in their Ministers; as was that of which it was said, three shepheards have I cut off in one moneth, Zach. 11. 8. that People should be so oft as Page  41 sheep having no Shepheard; for the transgression of a land many are the Princes thereof, Pro. 28. 2. So in like sort for the transgressions of a Church many are the Ministers there∣of; we meane, when they have many Ministers, by the com∣ming in and going out of the same men, or the removing of some and the taking in of others in their roome: for other∣wise, it is a blessing of God, when a Church is furnished with variety of Ministers at the same time, Acts 13. 1. & 21. 18. Phil. 1. 1. Thirdly, yet this word (ordinarily) doth seeme to imply, that in your judgement sometimes this may be lawfull and convenient to be done; Now upon the same ground on which it may be done sometimes, upon the same it may be done at other times, if there be just occa∣sion.

Thirdly, for the assistance of the Ministers of other Churches, of which this Question maketh men∣tion, if this be onely by way of counsell or advice, we know nothing unlawfull or inconvenient in such assi∣stance, because Churches are as Sisters one to another, Cant. 8. 8. And therefore it is our practice in ordination of Mini∣sters, as also in removall of them, to have such assistance. But for authority and power, we know none that Ministers have properly so called in any Congregation or Church, save that one, over which the Holy Ghost hath made them overseers: and therefore we thinke it not lawfull nor con∣venient, when a Church is to ordaine Officers, to call in such assistance (viz. by way of authority or power) of the Ministers of other Churches.

Fourthly, we judge it lawfull and convenient that every Church of Christ (what ever their humane learning be, whether much or lesse) should elect and choose their Mi∣nisters: God doth not (for ought we know) give this power of calling their owne Ministers unto such Churches as have many learned men in them, and deny it unto others; but gives it indifferently to every Church, as they are a Church, and so to one Church as much as to another. If we thought you doubted whether the power of calling Ministers were given by Christ unto the Church, we might here alledge many Reasons for it; but this being the constant judge∣ment Page  42 of the eminent Lights of this age, and the former who have been studious of Reformation, wee must hope (till we hear to the contrary) that your selves do not differ from them in this point. As for us, those grounds and reasons from the holy Scripture which are alledged by 1 Calvin, 2 Zanchius, 3 Mr Cartwright, 4 Dr Ames, and (5) o∣thers doe satisfie us in this particular. (1) Institut 4. 3. 14. 15. (2) De redemp. in 4. praecep. p. 1015. 1016. &c. who alledg∣eth Bucer and Musculus. (3) 1. Reply p. 44. &c. (4) Mdul. Theol. l. 1. c. 21. Sect. 30 & cas. consc. lib. 4. c. 25. Q. 5. (5) Demo∣nist. of disc. c. 4.

Fifthly as for that objection which seemes to be implyed in the word illiterate, that it should not be lawfull or conve∣nient for a body to choose their owne Ministers, because they are illiterate, or want men of humane learning among them, wee further answere thereto; first, that among us when a company are to be combined into a Church-body, (as you speake) there is usually one or other among them who doe not want all humane learning but have been train∣ed up in Universities and usually have been Ministers and Preachers of the Word in our native Countrey, and appro∣ved by the godly there; and are here by the company that doe so combine intended to be chosen afterwards for Pa∣stors or Teachers: and accordingly, after the Church is gathered, are in due time elected and ordained into their places. Secondly, but yet if there were none such among them at their first combining and uniting, we doe not see how this could hinder them of liberty to choose Ministers to themselves afterward, when God shall send any to them that may be fit for the worke; because this is a liberty that Christ hath purchased for them by his precious bloud, and they that are fit matter to bee combined into a Church∣body, are not so illiterate but they have learned the Do∣ctrine of the holy Scripture in the fundamentall points thereof; they have learned to know the Lord and their owne hearts, they have learned Christ, the need they have of him, and of all the meanes of enjoying him, the worth that is in him, and the happinesse laid up for them in him: and Page  43 therefore they may not be reproached as illiterate or un∣worthy to choose their owne Ministers: nay, they have the best learning, without which all other learning is but mad∣nesse and folly, and science falsly so called, 1 Tim. 6. 20. and indeed of none account with God, nor available for dire∣ction and guidance in the affaires of the house of God, such as is this election of Ministers, nor for the salvation of the soule in another world, 1 Cor. 1. 19. 20. & 2. 14▪ Job 32. 8. 9. though it may be, and is very usefull therewith. Thirdly, you know and (we doubt not) doe abhorre as much as wee the spirit of those men that are proud of their owne lear∣ning, and vilified Believers in Christ for want thereof, say∣ing, Doe any of the Rulers, or of the Pharisees believe in him? but this people which know not the Law are cursed, John 7. 47. 48. 49.

First, a company of fourty persons, or twenty, or lesse, is* not such a small company, but they may be a Church pro∣perly and truely so called, if there be nothing against them but this, that such a number may seeme not sufficient: We do not finde that God doth any where say, they must be above fourty, or else they cannot be a Church; and therefore no mortall man can justly say it: Nay, rather that speech of Christ, of two or three gathered together in his name, Matth. 18. 20. doth plainly imply that if there be a greater number then two or three, whom they being not satisfied in the an∣swere of an offendor may appeale unto, and in so doing tell the Church, such a small number may be a Church, and may have the blessing of his presence to be among them. Besides, the time hath been, in the dayes of Adam and No∣ah, when there was not fourty persons in the world, and yet Adams family in his time, and Noah in his, was in those dayes a Church, if there was any Church on earth. And if Christ and his twelve Disciples were the first Chri∣stian Church, it is too much for any man to say, that twen∣ty or fourty is such a small company that they cannot be a Church.

Secondly, for the matter of Government, there is a diffe∣rence between ability and right: In respect of the former, Page  44 in as much as some cases are more difficult then others, and some Churches of lesse spirituall abilities then others, and God doth not afford assistance and direction at some times so much as at others; therefore in such cases it is re∣quisite that Churches should seeke for light, and counsell, and advice, from other Churches: as the Church at Anti∣och did send unto the Church at Ierusalem in a Question, which could not bee determined among themselves, Act. 15. 2. But this is not because they have no right, but when they are not able.

Thirdly, as for right let it be considered how the Church at Antioch did long endevour to have ended that matter amongst themselves, before they determined to send to Ie∣rusalem, vers. 2. which shewes that they had power or right to have transacted that businesse among themselves, if abili∣ty had served; or otherwise, that endevour had been sin∣full, as being a presuming to doe that, whereunto they had no right. We conceive then that every Church, properly so called, though they be not above fourty, or twenty per∣sons, or ten, or the least number that you mention, have right and power from Christ to transact all their owne Ec∣clesiasticall businesses among themselves, if so be they be able, and carry matters justly, and according to the Rules of the Word. The power of the Keyes, Matth. 16. 19. a∣mong other things noteth Ministeriall or delegated power of Government; and this power is committed by Christ unto the Church, as may appeare, if wee consider, first, to whom Christ directed his Speech in that place of Scrip∣ture; not to Peter alone, but to all the Disciples also, for to them all the Question was propounded by Christ, vers. 15. And eter answered in all their names.

Secondly, that he and they were not then looked upon as Apostles, or generall officers of all Churches (for that Commission was not yet given them) but as Disciples and Beleevers, believing with the heart, and confessing with the mouth Jesus Christ, the rocke upon whom the Church is built; wherein as they did represent all Believers, so in Pe∣ter and the rest, the Keyes are committed to all Believers that shall joine together in the same confession, according Page  45 to the order and ordinance of Christ. And therefore after∣ward this power of Government is expresly given to the Church, Matth. 18. 17. according hereunto in that descrip∣tion of the visible Church, as it is instituted by Christ in the new Testament, Rev. 4. The members of the Church are seene by John in a vision sitting on thrones, cloathed with white rayment, having on their heads Crownes of Gold, vers. 14. Now Thrones and Crownes are ensignes of authority and power, to note unto us that authority and governing power, which is committed by Christ unto the Church. Doctor Fulke hath this saying; The Keyes of the Kingdome of Heaven (whatsoever they are) be committed to the whole Church, and not to one person onely, as Cyprian, Augustine, Chrysostome, Jerome, and all the ancient Doctors (agreeably to the Scriptures) doe confesse, against the Popes pardons chap. 3. P. 381. And elsewhere he saith; The authority of Excommuni∣cation pertaineth to the whole Church, although the judgement and execution thereof is to be referred to the Governours of the Church; which exercise that authority, as in the name of Christ, so in the name of the whoe Church whereof they are appointed Governours, to avoid confusion: against the Rhemists on 1 Cor. 5. Sect. 3.

And Doctor Whitaker hath these words: Hoc est quod nos dicimus Petrum gessisse personam omnium Apostolorum; quare hanc promissionem non uni Petro, sed toti Ecclesiae factam esse, & totam Ecclesiam in illo claves accepisse. De pontif. Roman. Q. 2. c. 4. Sect. 17. And in that Booke hee is pregnant and plaine in this, that by the Keyes is meant all Ecclesiasticall power and Jurisdiction, and that these Keyes are given in Peter to the whole Church: The same is also taught by Master Parker Polit. Eccles. l. 3. c. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5, 6. where he proves by many Ar∣guments, that every visible Church (which hee acknow∣ledgeth to be no other but a particular congregation) hath the power of all Ecclesiasticall Government and Jurisdi∣ction commited to it by Christ Jesus; and answereth many Objections to the contrary: And page 2 of that third Book, making mention of foure Opinions concerning those words of the Keyes, and power of binding and loosing Page  46Matth. 16. 19. the first of them that understand the Pope onely to be meant thereby as Peters successour: the second of them that understand it of the Diocesan Bishop: The third of them that understand those words as meant of the Ministers but the Ministers alone: The fourth of them that understand Peter to represent the Church in that place, and therefore that that promise is made unto the Church: Of these he refuseth the three first as unsound, and main∣taines the fourth as onely agreeing to the truth. And Ma∣ster Baine saith, Every Church by Christs institution hath power of Government, Dioces. Tryall Quest. 1. p. 8. And hee tells us page 11. what hee meant by Church: The word Church (saith he) wee understand here not figuratively ta∣taken Metonymically for the place, Syncdochecally for Ministers administring ordinances; but properly, for a bo∣dy politicke standing of People to be taught and governed, and of Teachers and Governours: So that in his judge∣ment every Church (properly so called) hath power of Go∣vernment within it selfe: and by these words of his it may also be concluded, that all power of Government is not in the Elders alone for the power of Government by Church institution is in every Church properly so called; But Mi∣nisters are not a Church in propriety of speech, but onely figuratively by a synecdoche; And therefore all power of Government is not in the Ministers alone, but a Church properly so called is the Body politique, consisting of peo∣ple and Ministers: But of this more may bee said in the next Question.

Fourthly, for the matters of Independency, whereof this Question also makes mention: We doe confesse the Church is not so independent but that it ought to depnd on Christ both for direction from the rules of his holy Word, Ioh. 10. 27. Act. 3. 23. and for the assistance of his holy Spirit, to discerne those rules, and to walke according to them when they shall be discerned, Ioh.5. 5. and 16. 13. but for depen∣dency upon men, or other Churches, or other subordinati∣on unto them in regard of Church Government or power, Wee know not of any such appointed by Christ in his Word. Our Saviours words are plaine, If a man heare not Page  47 the Chuch, let him beto thee as an Heathen or Publican. And his promise unto his Church is plaine also, that whatsoever they shall binde on earth, shall be bound in Heaven, &c. Mat. 18. 17. &c. And the Apostle bids the Church deliver the im∣penitent sinner unto Satan, 1 Cor. 5. 4. 5, 6. Now when the man upon the Churches censure comes to be in case as an Heathen or Publican, yea becomes bound in Heaven as well as bound in earth, and also delivered unto Satan, this seems to us to be such a firme ratification of the Churches censure, as leaves no roome for any other Ecclesiasticall power on earth to reverse or disanull the same, and so takes away that kinde of dependency and subordination of Churches. Nos plane dicimus cclesias initiò regi solitas esse à suis pastoribus, sic quidem ut nullis essent externis, aut Ecclesis, aut Episcopis subditae, non Colossensis, Ephaesiae, non Philippensis, Thessaloniensi, non h Romanae, non Romanae cuiquam, se paris omnes inter se juris essent, id est, sui omnes juris et mancipij Whitak de Pontif. Roman. Question 1. Chapter 1. Section 3. That is in summe. The Churches were not dependent and subordinate to others, but all of them absolutely free, and inde∣pendent. Wee affirme saith Master Baine, that all Church∣es were singular Congregations equall in dependent each of other in regard of subjection, Diocesse tryall. Q 1. pag. 13. The twentieth Chapter of Mr. Parker his third Booke of Eccles. Politie, hath this Title De summitate Ecclesiae particula∣ris. And the Title of the 21. is, De paritate Ecclesiarum, where he openeth and explaineth, and by many Arguments and Testimonies confirmeth what we hold of the independen∣cy and paritie of Churches, to which learned discourse of his, we referre you for further satisfaction in this point.

Wee doe believe that Christ hath ordained that there* should be a Presbytery or Eldership, 1 Tim. 4. 14. And that in every Church, it. 1 5. Acts 14. 23. 1 Cor. 12. 28. whose worke is to teach and rule the Church by the Word and lawes of Christ, 1 Tim. 5. 7 and unto whom so teaching and ruling all the people ought to be obedient and submit themselves, Heb. 13. 17. And therefore a Government meerly Popular or Democraticall (which Divines and Or∣thodox 〈1 page duplicate〉Page  44〈1 page duplicate〉Page  45〈1 page duplicate〉Page  46〈1 page duplicate〉Page  47Page  48 Writers doe so much condemne in Morillius, and such like) is farre from the practice of these Churches, and we believe farre from the minde of Christ.

Secondly, neverthelesse a Government meerely Aristo∣cratical, wherein the Church government is so in the hands of some Elders, as that the rest of the body are wholly ex∣cluded from entermedling by way of power therein, such a government we conceive also to be without Warrant of the Word, and likewise to be injurious to the people, as infrin∣ging that liberty which Christ hath given to them in choo∣sing their owne Officers, in admitting of Members, and censuring of offendors, even Ministers themselves when they be such; as the Church of Colosse must admonish Ar∣chippus of his duety, Col. 4. 17. Master Parker you know hath 22. Arguments to prove the superiority of the Churches over and above her officers, Polit. Eccles. lib. 3. cap. 12. And Master Baine saith, If the Church have power by election to choose a Minister, and so power of instituting him, then of destituting also: Instituere & destituere ejusdem est potestatis, Dioces. Triall P. 88. And againe, no reason evinceth the Pope, though a generall Pastors subject to the censure of a Church oecumenicall, but the same proveth a Diocesan Bishop (and wee may adde, and a Congregationall Mini∣ster) subject to the censure of the particular Church, pag. 89. And whereas it might be objected, then may Sheep cen∣sure the Shepherd, Children their fathers, which were ab∣surd. To this he answereth, that similitudes hold not in all things, naturall Parents are no waies Children, nor in state of subjection to their Children: but spirituall fa∣thers are so fathers, that in some respects they are children to the whole Church. So Shepherds are no waies Sheep, but Ministers are in regard of the whole Church. 2. Parents and Shepherds are absolutely Parents and Shepherds, bee they good or evill, but spirituall Parents and Pastors are no longer so, then they do accordingly behave themselves p. 89. (To the same purpose and more a large is this Ob∣jection answered by Master Parker, Polit. Eccles. l. 3. c. 12. p. 78. 79. And againe, if their owne Churches have no power over them, it will be hard to shew wherein others Page  49 have such power of Jurisdiction over persons who belong not to their owne Churches, p. 89. So that all power is not in the Officers alone, seeing the Officers themselves, if they offend, are under the power of the Church. Even Paul him∣selfe though an extraordinary Officer, yet would not take upon him to excommunicate the incestuous person, without the Church, but sends to them exhorting them to doe it; and blames them because they had not done it sooner, 1 Cor. 5. which shewes that the exercise of all Church power of go∣vernment, is not in the Officers alone: And therefore the Lord Iesus reproving Pergamus and Thyatira for suffering Balaamites, Nicholaitans, and the woman Iezebel among them, and calling on them for reformation herein, Rev. 2. sends his Epistle, not onely to the Angels of those Churches, but also to the Churches, or whole Congregations, as appeareth Rev. 1. 11. And also in the conclusion of those Epistle, where the words are, let him that hath an eare heare what the spi∣rit saith, (not onely to the Angels) but unto the Churches; whereby it appeares, that the suffering of these corrupt per∣sons and practises, was the sinne of the whole Church, and the reforming of them, a duty required of them all▪ Now the reforming of abuses in the Church, argues some exer∣cise of Church government, as the suffering of them ar∣gues some remissenesse therein; and therefore it followes, that some exercise of Church government was required of the whole Church and not all of the Angels alone. Sure it is the whole Congregation of Israel thought it their duty to see to the reforming of abuses, when they appeared to spring up amongst them, as appeareth by their behaviour & practise when the two Tribes and an halfe had set up the Altar upon the bankes of Jordan, Ios. 22. for it is said, that the whole Congregation of the Children of Israel gathered themselves together at Shilo, to go up to warre against them, v. 12. And when Phineas and ten Princes with him, were sent to expostulate with them about the matter, it was the whole Congregation that sent them, v. 13, 14. And when they delivered their Message they spake in the name of the whole Congregation, saying, Thus saith the whole con∣gregation of the Lord, what trespasse is this? &c. v. 16. Page  50 which plainely declares, that the whole congregation (and not the Elders or Rulers alone) thought it their duty to see abuses reformed and redressed, which could not be with∣out some exercise of government. And when Achan the Sonne of Cami had committed a trespasse in the accursed thing, is. 7. it is counted the sinne of the whole congrega∣tion and such a sinne as brought a Plague upon them all: for it is said the children of Israel committed a trespasse in the accursed thing, v. 1. And God saith to Ioshua (not the Elers have sinned, but) Israel hath sinned, and they have transgressed my Covenant, and they have stolne of the ac∣cursed thing, and put it among their owne stuffe. v. 11. And for this, wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel, and that man perished not alone in his iniquity, Iosh. 22. 20. Now why should not he have perished alone, but wrath must fall upon them all? and why should his sinne, be the sinne of all the congregation, if the care of preventing it, and timely suppressing the same, (which could not be without some exercise of Church government) had not bin a duty lying upon all the whole congregation, but upon the Elders and Officers alone? doubtlesse the just Lord, who saith, every man shall beare his owne burden, Gal. 6. 5. would not have brought wrath upon all the congregation for Achans sinne, if such government as might have prevented, or timely re∣formed the same, had not belonged to the whole congrega∣tion, but to the Elders alone. And before this time all the children of Israel (and not the Elders alone) are comman∣ded to put Lepers and uncleane persons out of the Campe, Numb. 5. 1, 2. By all which it appeareth, that all exercise of Church Government is not in the Elders alone, but some power is in the people.

And else-where he counts it no Sacriledge for Members of the Church, though not in office, to handle those keyes, Mat. 16. but rather a frivolous thing to thinke otherwise; Quasi absque sacrilegio, saith he, tractare claves privai nequeant, qui e••s privatim tractare jubeatur. Quoties fratres suos admonere, consolari, et aedificare. Imò veò est & publica clavium tractatio quam plebs Christiana in unum coacta sine ullo sacrilegio ministrat, 1 Cor. 5. Polit. Eccles. l. 3. c. 2. p. 8. And yet this is not a Page  51 singular conceit of his or ours, but the concurrent judge∣ment of many worthy witnesses of the truth in these latter dayes, who do with great consent hold the Ecclesiasticall government to be of a mixt form compounded of all three Estates, and that the people are not to be wholly excluded from having any thing to do therein.

Si velimus Christum ipsum respicere, fuit semper Ecclesiae Regimen monarchicum: Si Ecclesiae presbyters, qui in Doctrina et disciplina suas partes agebant, Aristocraticum: si totum corpus Ecclesiae quatenus in Ele∣ctione Episcoporum et presbyterorum suffragia ferebat, it a tamen ut 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 semper à presbyteris servaretur, Democraticum: Sic partim Aristocritum partim Democraticum, partim etiam Monar∣chicum est, semper que fuit Ecclesiae Regimen, Whita. de pontif. Rom. Qu. 1. c. 1. sect. 2. The Church (saith Mr. Cart∣wright) is governed with that kinde of Government, which the Philosophers that write of the best Com∣mon-wealths affirme to be the best. For in respect of Christ the head it is a Monarchy, and in respect of the Ancients and Pastors that Governe in Common and with like Authority among themselves, it is an Aristo∣craty, or rule of the best men; and in respect that the peo∣ple are not secluded, but have their interest in Church matters, it is a Democraty, or popular State, 1 Reply p. 51.
And when Dr. Whitegift, from the Doctrine of the Au∣thors of the Admonition would infer this consequence, viz. that then the more that ruled the better estate it should be, and so the popular state should be the best: In Answer hereunto he saith,
I have spoken of this before, where I declared that the mixed estate is best, both by the exam∣ple of the Kingdome of Christ, and also of this our Realme, pag. 181. 182. And againe, whereas Mr. Dr. saith, that Excommunication, and consequently Absolu∣tion or restoring to the Church again pertaineth only to the Minister: it remaineth that I shew that the Presbytery or Eldership, and the whole Church also, hath interest in the excommunication, and consequently in the absolution or restoring unto the Church againe, p. 183. And againe, it is certaine Saint Paul did both understand and observe the rule of our Saviour Christ (viz. that rule, Page  52Mat. 18. Tell the Church) but he communicateth this power of Excommunication with the Church: and therefore it must needs be the meaning of our Saviour Christ, that the Excommunication should be by many, and not by one, and by the Church, and not by the Mi∣nister of the Church alone, for hee biddeth the Church of Corinth twise in the first Epistle, once by a Metaphor, another time in plaine words, that they should Excom∣municate the Incestuous person. And in the 2d. Epistle, understanding of the Repentance of the man, he intreat∣eth them that they would receive him again: And ther∣fore considering that the Absolution of the Excommu∣nication doth pertain unto the Churches, it followeth that the excommunication doth in like manner appertainunto it, p. 184. And again that the Ancients had the ordering of these things, and that the peoples consent was required, & that the Ministers did not take upon them of their own Authority to Excommunicate, &c. It may appeare al∣most in every page of Cyprians Epistles. In Augustines time it appeareth also, that that consent of the Church was required, p. 187.

To these may be added, Mr. Fenner, who speaking of the Ecclesiasticall Presbytery, and of the businesse which the Presbytery is to deale in, which hee distinguisheth into ju∣diciarie, as deciding of doubts, and dispencing of Censures. and extrajudiciary, as Election, Ordination &c. hath these words, Atque haec sunt negotia quae praestari debent: In quibus per omnes Ecclesias summa Ecclesiastica potestas presbyterio demandata est, ita tamen ut in his quae maximi sunt momenti, et ad ecclesiae totius bonum velruinam maxime spectant, post 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 suam de his cap∣tum consilia Ecclesiae denunciantur, ut si quid habeant quod consulant vel objiciant in ••edium proferant: postea, autem auditis et assenti∣en ibus (nisi ad majorem Senatum negotium deferri fuerit, necesse ad turbas vitadas sive componendas, quod tum cum Major pars Eccle∣siae dissentit, faciendum est) decervenda et pro decretis Ecclesiis pro∣onenda sunt, and then he declares what hee meanes by those matters maxim momenti, viz. excommunication, absolution, elections, and deposings of Ministers and such like, Sacrae The. lib. 7. c 7. wherin he plainly sheweth, that though the power Page  53 of the Presbytery be very great yet in things of greatest mo∣ment, as Censures and Elections, the people if they have any thing to counsell or object, have liberty to bring it in; and afterwards matters are to be concluded when they have bin heard speake, and have given their consent, for which liberty and power of the people, he bringeth these Scrip∣tures, 2 Chro. 30. 23. Acts 1. 15. 23. 26. 1 Cor. 5. 4. & 2 Cor. 1. 6. 7. Zanchius speaking of that Question, per quos exerce∣ri debet excommunicatio, answers thus, nempe per Ecclesia, seu per ministros Ecclesiae nomine, eoque et cum consensu totius Ec∣clesiae Promissio illa, Quaecun{que} ligaveritis, ad totam Ecclesiam est facta, Ergo &c. Praeterea Apostolus hoc expressius declaravit, 1 Cor. 5. congregatis vobis, &c. alloquebatur autem totam Eccle∣siam. Patres idem docent: Cyprianus ad Cornelium Rom. Epis∣copum seribit se multum laborasse apud plebem, ut par daretur lapsis penitentibus: Si ergo non erat unius Episcopi cum suo Presbyterio solvere quempiam, sed requirebatur plebis eoque totius Ecclesiae consensus: Ergo neque ligari quispiam poterat, id est Excommuni∣cari, sine totius Ecclesiae consensu. Augustinus etiam contra Donati∣stas ait, supersedendum esse excommunicatione Quando tota plebs laborant eodem merbo, Quid ita? causam adfert, Quia inquit, non assentientur excommunicationi. &c. Satis aperte docet tunc tem∣poris non solitum fuisse excommunicationem ferri in Quempiam sine totius Ecclesiae consensu; et ratio est in promptu, Quae enim adom∣nes pertinent eum consensu omnium fieri debent: Ergo sine totius Ecclesiae consensu excommunicari nemo debet. And then com∣paring the Government of the Church, to the Roman Common-wealth which had the Dictators, the Senate and the Quirites, and shewing that the Church government in respect of Christ is a Monarchy, in respect of the Presbyters an Aristocratie, and in respect of the people a Democratie, he concludes thus, In rebus igitur gravissimis, quae ad totum corpus pertinent, uti est Excommunicatio, sine consensu et authoritate totius Ecclesiae nihil fieri debet, de Redempt, in prae c. 4. pag. 983. &c. Calvins words are these, Cyprianus cum meminit per quos suo tempore exerceretur (viz. potestas jurisdictionis) adjungere solet totum Clerum Episcopo, sed. libi quoque demonstrat, sic praefuisse cle∣rum ipsum, ut plebs interm à cognitione non excluderetur, sic enim scribit; Ab initio Episcopatus mei statui sine Cleri consilio & plebis Page  54 consensu nihil agere, Instit. 1. 4. c. 11. Sect. 6. And againe, Hoc addo, illam esse legitimam in excommunicando homine progressio∣nem quam demonstrat Paulus, si non soli Seniores seorsim id faci∣ant, sed conscia & approbante Ecclesia, in eum scilicet modum, ut plebis multitudo non regat actionem, sed observet, ut testis & custos, ne quid per libidinem à paucis geratur, Instit. l. 4. c. 12. Sect. 7. Those Ministers that penned the Christian and modest of∣fer of disputation, doe say, That the Pastor and Elders that exercise Ecclesiasticall Jurisdiction, ought not to performe any maine and materiall Ecclesiasticall act, without the free consent of the congregation, in Propos. 8.

The Refuter of Doctor Downams Sermon for the supe∣riority of Diocesan Bishops, is plaine and full also in this point, in Part 2. of his reply p. 104 105, 106. where answer∣ing Doctor Downam, that counted it schismaticall novelty, that the forme of the Church Government should be hol∣den in part to be Democrattcall, and that his Refuter for so holding was a Brownist or Anabaptist; he not onely proves the power of the people from the Scripture, and delivers his owne judgement, that the Ecclesiasticall Government is of a mixt forme, compounded of all three Estates; but for the same tenent, and that the Church government is in part Democraticall or popular, he alledgeth the testimonies of the Centuries, of Illyricus, of Doctor Fulke. Doctor Wil∣let, Cyprian, Augustine, P. Martyr, Dr Whitaker, and others: Master Baines his judgement we heard before in the former Question. Vrsinus speaking of that Question. Quibus com∣missa est potestas clavium▪ hath these words: Quibus denunci∣atio verbi divini delegata est, iisdem & potestas illa clavium; quae verò denunciatio fit in Ecclesiastica disciplina est totius Ecclesie, ad totam enim Ecclesiam pertinet disciplina & jurisdictio spiritualis, sed alio modo fit illa denunciatio in verbi divini ministerio, quam in Ecclesiae judicio. And then telling how this denunciation is done in the Ministery, and by the Ministers of the Word, he comes to declare how it is done in Church censures: In Ecclesiastico judicio (saith he) gratiae & irae Dei non fit denunci∣ati. ab uno aliquo privatim▪ sed à tota Ecclesia aut nomine totius Ecclesiae' ab its qui ad hoc delecti sunt communi omnium consensu. And a little after answering objections brought against the Page  55 use of Excommunication, he hath these words: Potest con∣cedi quod Christus non intelligat Presbyterium (viz. in that place Matth. 18. Tell the Church) sed propriè sumat vocabulum Eccle∣siae ante Christum Jdaicae, post Christum Christianae: Sed in Ec∣clesiae jurisdictione oportet aliquem esse ordinem, aliquos oportet esse constitutos ab Ecclesia, alioquin esset〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. And speaking of that Question, Quis ordo servari debeat in exercenda clavium potestate (he saith) principalis pars in excommunicatione est de∣nunciatio, qua &c. atque haec denunciatio qua quis excommunica∣tur non est penes Ministrum Ecclesiae, sed penes ipsam Ecclesiam, & ejus nomine fit, quia mandatum hoc à Christo datum est Eccle∣siae; nam ipse ait expressè, Dic Ecclesiae. And finally, speaking of abuses to be avoided, and cautions to be observed in Ex∣communication, he hath such words in the fourth Propo∣sition, or Rule there annext, as doe declare it to be his judgement▪ that if Excommunication should be passed by a few, without the consent of the whole Church, such proceedings would be both Oligarchy and Tyranny: At∣tentem expendatum (saith he) à toto Presbyterio, probetur ab Ec∣clesia, non suscipiatur privat â authoritate, ne ministerium Ecclesiae convertatur in 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 & Tyrannidem, in his Comment upon the Catechisme, in the place De clavibus regni coelo∣rum.

Pareus delivering certaine porismata or, conclusions con∣cerning Excommunication, hath this for the fifth of them, Quòd excommunicandi potestas non fit penes unum Episcopum, vel paucos pastores, sed penes Ecclesiam; proindelicet pastores & presby∣teri ordinis cau▪ â primas habeant partes circa censuras Ecclesia∣sticas, & per eos h administrentur; quod tamen citra consensum Ecclesiae pastores ad exclusionem procedre non debeant, alibi de∣monstravimus in 1 Cor. 5. And a little after, answering Sta∣pletons objections that would have the power of Excommu∣nication to be in the Bishop alone▪ he brings in the case of Cyprian, who could not absolve the Lapsi without the peo∣ple: Cyprianus (saith hee) ad Cornelium Romanum Episcopum scribit s multum apua plebem laborasse ut pax daretur lapsis, quam si per se dare potuisset, non erat cur adeo in persuadenda plebe se fa∣tigasset. So that in the judgement of Pareus and Cyprian all power of Church government was not in the Presbyters, Page  56 but some power was in the people.

Musculus, although he thinke there be little use of Ex∣communication and Church discipline, where there is a Christian Magistrate, yet when it is to be used, he would not have the people excluded from having any hand there∣in, as may appeare by those words of his, where he speakes De disciplina Ecclesiastica: Hisce de rebus non constituet Minister suo proprio arbitratu, sed erit ad institutionem earum director, & ad∣hibebit suffragia & consensum sue plebis, ne quicquam invitae Ec∣clesie imponatur. Denique curabit ut plebs ipsa viros graves, ti∣mentes Dei, ac boni testimonii deligat, quorum curâ & vigilantiâ disciplina Ecclesiastica administratur, & si quid gravioris momenti accidat, ad ipsam Ecclesiam referatur: Loc. com. de Ministris verbi Dei, in tit. de potestate Ministrorum p. 377. And afterward, in the latter end of that place, comming to speake of the depo∣sing of unworthy Ministers, he hath these words: Quaeritur hic per quos disciplina ista administrari debeat? Respondeo, primum Ecclesiae populus potestatem habens elegendi dignum Ministrum, habet etiam (teste Cypriano) potestatem indignum recusandi: de∣inde qui Judices sunt Censoresque morum in Ecclesia ex officio te∣nentur redargnere peccantem Ministrum, si duobus aut tribus te∣stibus fide dignis coram Ecclesia Dei convictus fuerit. Tertiò, ii∣dem cum consensu & suffragiis plebis deponent Ministrum, vel ad ltempus, vel in universum, vel excommunicabunt tandem juxta qua∣itatem peccati vel defectus illius, p. 429. Doctor Ames saith, Potestas hujus disciplinae (viz. of Excommunication) quoad jus ipsum pertinet ad Ecclesiam illam in communi, cujus membrum est peccator: ad illos enim pertinet ejicere, ad quos pertinet primò admittere, & corporis totius interest ex aequo membrorum conserva∣tio vel amputatio, cum Ecclesi idcirco consensu (eoque Magi∣stratu non permittente tantum, sed & approbante & constituente) est executioni mandanda. Medul. Theol. l. 1. c. 37. Sect. 26.

Lastly, Master Parker observing a distinction betweene power, and the dispencing of power; that the one is in the Church and the other in the Presbyters, hath these words: Neque tamen dispensatio omnis, omneque exercitum est penes recto∣res solos, sed juxta temperamentum formae partim Aristocratice, partim Democraticae de mandaae Rectoribus suis Ecclesi, que ipsa per se obire satis commodè nequit, retinente vero dispensationem il∣lam Page  57 illudque exercitium quod & ipsi convenit, & pertinet ad ejus lignitatem, authoritatem, & libertatem à Christo donatam. Posit. Eccles. l. 3. c. 7. And elsewhere he saith, Imo vero est & publica clavium tractatio, quam plebes Christiana in unum coacta, sine ullo acrilegio administrat. Polit. Eccles. l. 3 c. 2 p. 8.

These testimonies we thought good to produce in this Question, lest any should thinke that to give any Church power of Government to the people, were some singular opinion of ours, swerving from the truth, and disallowed by Orthodox Writers of the Reformed Churches; and no doubt but besides these here cited, the same is taught by thers also, whom now we spare to alledge, intending onely hese few for a taste instead of many.

2. And therefore when this Question demandeth whe∣her we give the exercise of all Church power of govern∣ment to the whole Congregation, or to the Presbyters there∣of alone? Our Answer is, neither thus nor so, neither all to he people excluding the Presbytery, nor all to the Presby∣tery excluding the People. For this were to make the go∣vernment of the Church either meerly Democraticall, or meerly Aristocraticall, neither of which we believe it ought to be.

3. Whereas this Question demandeth to know what acts of Government the Presbyters may doe more then any o∣ther may doe, and to have those particular acts mentioned: this seemeth to us to be a very large demand, for who is a∣ble to mention all the particular acts of government, which any one Governour may performe in his time, especially if he continue long in his place? But if your meaning in this Point be not of the Individualls, but of the species or kinds, yet even there also it is much to require the particular men∣tioning of all; yet to give you a taste take these. The cal∣ling of Assemblies and dismissing of the same againe; The ordinary preaching of the Word, which is done by way of Office; and being the peoples mouth unto God in Prayer; The dispensing of Baptisme, and the Lords Supper: The permitting of any to speak in an orderly way; and againe en∣joining silence: The putting of matters to Vote, and pro∣nouncing of sentence in the censure of offendors, or re∣ceiving Page  58 in of Penitents after their fall, and blessing of the people in the name of the Lord; These are Acts of Church Government, which the Presbyters may doe according to the Word and another member may not do without breach of Order and presuming above his place.

4. It is also here demanded, what the Presbyters may do without the particular consent of the rest? To which wee answer, that when they doe what the Lord Christ (whose Stewards they are) by his word requires of them in their places, this should not be without the consent of the rest, or the rest of the Church ought to consent thereto: Christs Sheep ought to heare his voice, Iohn 10. 27. and to obey them that speak unto them in his name, Heb. 13. 17. And if any man should in such case willfully dissent, the Church ought to deale with such an one, for not consenting to the will and waies of Christ, or else they shall all be guilty of the sinfull dissent of such an one. So that this Passage (if it be meant of Presbyters doing their duty) without the con∣sent of the people, goes upon a supposall (in respect of the people) of that which never ought to be, neither are wee to suppose but that there may be rule when the Elders and Brethren doe not dissent nor are divided one from another: The multitude of them that believed in the first Christian Church at Ierusalem, were of one heart and of one soule, A l. 4. 32. Yet none needs to doubt, but there was rule and Government amongst them, when yet their agreement was such, that the Apostles and Flders did nothing without the full consent of the rest. It is a miserable mistake either to thinke that in the Church of Christ the Elders and Bre∣thren must needs dissent one from another, or if they all consent, that then there can be no ruling but against the peoples minde. They were none of the best Shepheards to their flocks unto whom the Lord saith, with force and ri∣gour have you ruled them. Ezech. 34. 4. As for doing any thing in their places▪ which the word of Christ, the Lord and Master of the Church, commandeth not, nor alloweth such things▪ they neither ought to do nor ought the Church to consent unto them if they should; for that were to make themselves partakers of their Rulers sinnes, and so to bring Page  59 Judgement upon them all, as when the Priests did wicked∣ly beare rule, and the people loved to have it so, Ieremiah 5. 31.

5. Lastly, this Question demandeth how, and over whom in those Acts of Government, which are done by the El∣ders more then by other Members, or without the consent of the rest, the Presbyters doe rule in propriety of spea∣king more then the rest of the Congregation? wherein are sundry particulars.

1. How they rule? Whereunto wee answer, that nei∣ther the Elders nor the people doe rule with Lordly and Princely rule, and Soveraigne authority and power; for that is proper to Christ over his Church: who is the one∣ly Lord, 1 Cor. 12. 5. And King and Lawgiver that is able to save and to destroy, Isa. 33. 23. Psal. 2. Luk. 19. 27. Jam. 4. 12. The Elders are forbidden to be Lords over Gods heritage, 1 Pet. 5. 3. Or to exercise authority as the Kings and Princes of the earth doe, Matth. 20. 25, 26. Luk. 22. 25, 26. They are not so to rule, as to doe what themselves please, but they must do whatsoever Christ hath commanded, Mat. 28. 20. Mr. Baine sheweth from these words there are diversities of Mi∣nisteries, but one Lord, 1 Cor. 12. 5. That it is contrary to the Scripture that there should be in the Church more Lords then one: (and saith he) look as great Lords have in their Houses Ministers of more and lesse honour, from the Steward to the Scullery, but no Lord-like or Master∣like power in any besides themselves: So is it with Christ and his Church, which is the House of God, wherein hee is the Lord, Apostles and others having more or lesse ho∣nourable services, but no Masterlike power over the mea∣nest of their fellow servants: On Ephes. 1. 22. p. 395. and elsewhere he saith, no Minister of the Word hath any pow∣er but Ministeriall in the Church, the power of the Apo∣stles themselves and Evangelists is called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Acts 20. 2 Tim. 4. Yea such a service as doth make the Ministers ha∣ving it so servants, that they are no way Lords; many Mi∣nisters, one Lord; we preach Christ Iesus the Lord; our selves your servants for Iesus sake, Dioces. Tryall. Q. 2. p. 74. The Elders are to rule as Stewards, Mat. 24. 45. Luke 12. Page  60 42. As Shepheards, Act. 20. 28. As Captaines, guides, lea∣ders or overseers, by going before the People, and shewing them the word and way of the Lord, 1 Tim. 3. 1. 5. & 5. 17. 1 Thes. 5. 12. Hb. 13. 17.

2. How they rule more then the rest of the Congregati∣on do? Whereto the Answer is, that this is more then the rest of the Congregation doe in these acts, even as acting is more then consenting, and as it is more to be a Steward over of the House then one of the household, or to be a guide or leader, then to be guided or led.

3. Over whom they doe rule? even over the whole Church in generall, and every Member in particular, even all the flocke over which the Holy Ghost hath made them overseers, Act. 20. 28. 1 Pet. 3. 2.

The rule is expresse and plaine that women ought not to* speake in the Church, but to be in silence, 1 Cor. 14. 34. 1 Tim. 2 11, 12. And therefore they ought not to vote in Church matters; besides voting imports some kind of go∣vernment, and authority and power: now it is not govern∣ment and authority, but subjection and obedience which belongs unto women, by the rule, and so is the practice of women amongst us.

Church matters ought not to be determined meerly by* multitude or plurality of Votes, but by rules from the word of Christ, whose will▪ (and not the will either of the Ma∣jor, or Minor part of men,) is the onely rule and Law for Churches, Iam. 4. 12. Isa. 33. 22. Mat. 23. 8, 9. Exod. 23. 2. 21. 22. For our practice among us, the Major part of the Church, yea usually the whole Church doth consent and agree in one minde, and one judgement, and so gives a joint unanimus Vote; and the rule requires it should be so Rom. 15. 6. and the example of the Primitive Apostolike Chur∣ches, where things were carried (nor meerly by the Major or Minor part, the rest dissenting, but) 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or with one accord. Act. 1. 14. & . 46 & 4. 24. & . 12. & 15. 25. So that in this sence, matters with us are carried according to the Vote of the Major part, that is, with the joint con∣sent Page  61 of the whole Church, but yet because it is the minde of Christ. But it may be your meaning is in this Question to take it for granted that the Churches will be divided in their Votes, and to know what course we take at such times: But if Churches lay aside their owne affections, and give at∣tendance to the rule, and be (as all Churches ought to be) men of humble spirits, and sincere, and withall depend on Christ their head and King for guidance, in their worke, we know no necessity of such a supposall, that they must needs be divided in their votes, especially considering what promises he hath made unto his Church, of godly concord and agreement among themselves, and of his owne graci∣ous presence in the midst of them, Ier. 32. 39. Zeph. 3. 9. Mat. 18. 20. which promifes we believe are not in vaine. Neverthelesse, we deny not but through the corruptions & distempers of men, some dissention may arise for a time in a true Church, as it was in the Church at Corinth: and if a∣ny such thing fall out among us (which we blesse God is not often) then before matters be put to the vote, our course of proceeding is after this manner. If the Elders and Major part of the Church consent in one conclusion, yet if any brother dissent, he is patiently heard, and his alledgements of Scripture or good reasons are duely weighed: If it ap∣peare that his judgement is according to the rule, the whole Church will readily yeeld, though before they were other∣wise minded. But if it appeare they who dissent from the Major part, are factiously or partially carried, the rest labour to convince them of their error by the rule, if they yeeld, the consent of all comfortably concurreth in the matter; if they still continue obstinate, they are admonished, and so standing under censure, their vote is nullified. If they with∣out obstinate opposition of the rest, doe dissent still, yet re∣ferre the matter to the judgement of the Major part of the body they are not wont to proceed to sentence (if the mat∣ter be weighty as in Excommunication) till the reasons on both sides have bin duly pondered, and all brotherly means have been used for mutuall information and conviction. If the difference still continue the sentence (if the matter be weighty) is still demurred, even till other Churches have Page  62 been consulted with, who in such a case will send their El∣ders to communicate their apprehensions and light, which they do not pro imperio, binding the Church to rest in their dictates but by propounding their grounds from the Scrip∣ture. These courses with Gods presence and blessing (which usually accompanieth his Ordinance) faithfully taken and followed, will prevaile either to settle one unanimous con∣sent in the thing▪ or at least to preserve peace in the Church by the dissentors submission to the judgement of the Ma∣jor part, though they see not light sufficient to warrant them to act in the businesse: Such subjection is according to the rule, Ephes. 5. 21. 1 Pet. 5. 5. If the Church or the Elders should refuse the testimony of other Churches ac∣cording to God, they will (after brotherly admonition and due patient waiting) deny them the right hand of fellow∣ship, till they shall give better evidence of their subjection to the Gospel of Christ. But thanks be to God we never had occasion of such withdrawing communion of one Church from another, though now and then (as need re∣quireth) Churches send to other Churches for their coun∣sell and advice.

Meanes to preserve the Churches in unitie and verity,* and to reforme any that may erre, thankes bee to God we have sundry. First, the holy Scriptures, which are a per∣fect rule for Doctrine and practise, 2 Tim. 3. 15 16. 2 Pet. 1. 19. Psal. 19. 7, 8. Secondly, the Ministery appointed by Christ, viz. of Pastors, Teachers, Elders, and Deacons, Ephes. 4. 11, 12. 1 Cor 12. 28. 1 Tim. 5. 17. 1. Tim. 3. 1, 2. &c and vers. 8. and in both these we have frequently holden forth unto us the Commandement of God, wherein he requires Churches to bee of one mind and one judgement in the truth, 1 Cor. 1. 10. & 2. 13. 11. Ephes. 4. 3. & Phil. 1. 27. & 2. 1. 2. and his promise to lead his people into all truth, and holy agreement therein, Jer. 32. 29. Isa 11 6, 7 &c. Zeph. 3. 9. Ioh. 16. 13. with many motives and Rules from Scripture for continuing in the said truth and love. Now Faith makes use of these promises and submits to these precepts and exhortations, and so both these being mixt with Faith Page  63 are profitable meanes by the blessing of God for that end aforesaid, Heb. 4. 2. as these Churches have found by expe∣rience, for these yeares since our comming into this Coun∣trey: And any other meanes sanctified of God for the afore∣said end, we hope we should be glad with thankfull hearts to improve and make use of as the Lord shall help.

As for a Platforme of Doctrine and Discipline which you mention, as one meanes hereunto, if thereby you meane no more but a confession of Faith of the holy do∣ctrine which is according to godlinesse, we know nothing but it may be lawfull and expedient in some cases for any particular person that hath received the gift to doe it; or any Church, or al the Churches in any Christian Com∣mon-wealth, to compile and set forth such a platforme. The practise of those Churches, whose Confessions are contained in that booke called The harmony of Confessions, as also of Master Robinson at Leiden, and others of our Nation in other parts in the Low-countries, who have published such platformes, we see no reason to condemne or disallow: nei∣ther count we it unlawfull or inexpedient for any Church or Churches, or person or persons in the countrey, upon just occasion to doe the like.

But if your meaning be of a platforme to be imposed by authority upon others, or our selves, as a binding Rule of Faith and practice, so that all men must believe and walke according to that platforme, without adding, altering, or omitting▪ then we are doubtfull whether such platformes be lawfull or expedient. For if the Doctrine contained therein doe in any particular swerve from the Doctrine contained in Scripture then the imposing of them is so far forth unlawfull; and if they be according to it, then they may seeme needlesse, in as much as the forme of whole∣some words contained in Scripture is sufficient. Which reason against such Platformes, makes nothing against Ser∣mons or Preaching, though Sermons must be according to the Doctrine contained in Scripture, because Preaching is an ordinance of God and therefore not needlesse; which we cannot say of such Platformes. Besides, as they are not necessary, so they may be a snare unto men, and a dange∣rous Page  64 temptation of attending more to the forme of Do∣ctrine delivered from the authority of the Church, and the imposers, then to the examining thereof according to the Rule of Scripture; and so their faith may by this meanes stand in the wisedome or will of man, rather then in the power of God, as if men had dominion over their faith; which things ought not so to be, 1 Cor. 2. 5. & 2. 1. ver. Chri∣stians have liberty from God to search the Scriptures, and try all things, and hold fast that which is good, Act. 17. 11. Ioh. 5. 39. 1 Thess. 5. 21. but the foresaid imposing of plat∣formes and confessions compiled by men, doth seeme to abridge them of that liberty; and if it be any meanes of unity, yet it may be a dangerous hinderance of some verity and degree of truth as binding men to rest in their former apprehensions and knowledge, without liberty, to better their judgement in those points, and shutting the doore a∣gainst any further light which God may give to his best servants, and most discerning, beyond what they saw at first: And therefore we doubt such imposed platformes are not lawfull, or at least wise not expedient.

The consociation of Churches into Classes and Synods we hold to be lawfull and in some cases necessary; as name∣ly in things that are not peculiar to one Church, but com∣mon to them all: And likewise when a Church is not able to end any matter that concernes onely themselves, then they are to seeke for counsell and advice from neighbour Churches; as the Church at Antioch did send unto the Church at Ierusalem, Acts 15. 2. the ground and use of Classes and Synods, with the limitations therein to be ob∣served, is summarily laid downe by Doctor Ames, Medul. Theol. l 1. c. 39. Sect. 27. unto whom we do wholly consent in this matter.

But when you speake of doing no weighty matter with∣out the consent and counsell of a Classes, we dare not so far restraine the particular Churches as fearing this would be to give the Casses an undue power and more then belongs unto them by the Word; as being also an abridgment of that power which Christ hath given to every particular Church, to transact their owne matters (whether more or Page  65 lesse weighty) among themselves (if so be they be able) without such necessary dependence upon Classes, as we have shewed before in answer to Q. 14. Sect. 3. & 4. of that An∣swere. And Master Parker testifieth, that in Genevah, and in the Low-countries, where they have some use of Classes, yet it cannot bee said that their particular Congregations are absque potestate omni in rebus grandtoribus, ut in excommuni∣catione; the particular Churches are not without power in the more weighty matters, as in Excommunication, Polit. Eccles. li. 2. c. 36. Sect. 11. p. 310. And Master Baine sheweth the same, saying, They have power of governing them∣selves, but for greater edification voluntarily confederate, not to use or exercise their power but with mutuall com∣munion, one asking the counsell and consent of the other, Dioces. Triall Q. 1. p. 21. And a little after Geneva made his consociation, not as if the prime Churches were imper∣fect, and to make one Church by this union; but because though they were intire Churches, and had the power of Churches, yet they needed support in exercising of it, &c. which is the very same that wee said before in Q. 14 viz. That all Churches have right of Government within themselves, but some had need of counsell and advice of others, because they are of lesse ability to transact their owne matters of themselves. And Master Parker in the same place afore alledged in the page immediately prece∣dent, clearly sheweth against Doctor Downham, Doctor Sutcliffe, and others, that those particular Congregations which have Presbyters of their owne, with power within themselves, are the most perfect, and are precisely formed juxta formam illam quae in verbo patefacta est, according to that forme which is revealed in the Word; whereas others which have not the like are more defective and imperfect. And if this be so, then to binde Churches to do no weigh∣ty matters without the counsell and consent of Classes, were to blinde them to bee imperfect. And for Synods, if they have such power that their determination shall binde the Churches to obedience (as you speake) it is more then we yet understand. Indeed Bellarmine makes Bishops in a Councell or Synod to be Judges; and that standum sit co∣rum Page  66 sententiae, quia ipsi sic statuerunt, quomodo statur sententia Praetoris in causis politicis; that is, either to obey or suffer: de Concil. & Eccles. l. 1. c. 18. But the Orthodoxe Writers do not consent to him therein; for in their judgement the sentence of a Councell or Synod is onely inquisitio quaedam & dictio sententiae ministratoia & limitata, ita ut tantum valeat decretum Concilii quantum valeat ejus ratio, as Doctor Ames hath it in his Bellarminus enervatus, upon that place of Bellar∣mine: that is, The sentence of a Synod is onely a certaine enquiring and giving of sentence by way of Ministery, and with limitation; so that the decree of the Councell hath so much force as there is force in the reason of it. And Juni∣us expresseth it thus; Sententia Concilii per se ipsam suasionis non coactionis est judicium ministeriale, non authoritatem, per se ne∣cessitatemque adferens, Animadvers. upon Bellarmine in that place: that is, The sentence of a Councell is of it selfe one∣ly of advice, not of compulsion or constraint, and brings with it a judgement ministeriall, not authority of it selfe nor necessity; whereunto we doe wholly consent. As for that clause in this Question, That the determination of a Sy∣nod should binde if not to obedience, yet to peaceable suffering, we know not what sufferings those should be: for punishments in Purse or Person, in respect of the body or outward man, are not to be inflicted by Synods, but by civill Magistrates; and Church-censures of Excommunication, or the like, belong to the particular Church of which an offendor is a member, out of the communion whereof a man cannot be cast, but onely by his owne Church.

Onely Christ hath Authority to make Lawes for the go∣vernment* of each particular Church, and the Members thereof, and hs lawes doe oblige all the Members, and may not be omitted without sinne, Jam. 4. 12. Jsa. 33. 22. Mat. 23. 8, 9 10. ct. 3. 23. But for particular Churches, they have no power to make Lawes for themselves or their Members, but to observe and see all their Members observe those Laws which Christ hath given and commanded Mat. 28. 20. Deu. 33. 3. Iohn 10. 27. If any Church shall pre∣sume further, they goe beyond their Commission, and in Page  67 such case their Ecclesiasticall Lawes may be omitted with∣out sinne, nay it would be sinne to be subject to them Col. 2. 20. To walke after them, Hos. 5. 11. to be such servants of men as not to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, 1. or. 7. 23. Gal. 5. 1.

The outward calling of a Minister consisteth properly* and essentially in election by the people, as Doctor mes sheweth, Cas. Cons. l. 4. c. 25. Q. 6. And this election is so essentiall, that without it the Ministers calling (if you speak of an ordinary Church officer) is a nullity; And therefore Mornay, that learned noble man of France, approveth that saying of Chrysostome, election by the people is so necessary, as that without it there is neither Altar, nor Church, nor Priest-hood, where (omitting other things) it appeares to be their judgement, that without election by the people, the Ministery is void; And Mornay addeth of his owne, concerning the Bishops amongst the Papists, that they were nullá plane 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, nulla proinde,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, for the one pre∣supposed the other, no Imposition seeing without election, in his booke of the Church, c. 11. p. 375. Yet sometimes the peoples acceptance and approbation afterward may sup∣ply the want of election at the first, as Iacobs after consent and acceptance of Lea, made her to be his wife, though hee chose her not at the first. And by this we hold the calling of many Ministers in England may be excused, who at first came into their places without the consent of the people.

If ordination by imposition of hands, were of the es∣sence of a Ministers calling then in those Churches, where such ordination is not used, their Ministers should want a lawfull calling, which were an hard sentence against ma∣ny Ministers in Scotland, where (as is reported) this ordina∣tion is not thought necessary, and therefore used or omit∣ted indifferently. Wee looke at Ordination by Imposition of hands, as a solemne investing of men into their places, whereto they have right and calling by election, like to the inauguration of a Magistrate in the Common-wealth, yet necessary by divine Institution. 1 Tim. 4. 14. But not so necessary as if the Ministers calling were a nullity without Page  68 it. Essentia ipsa vocationis, in electione legitima consistit; Ordina∣tio pendet ab electione, sicut Coronatio Principi, aut Magistratus in∣auguratio, ab electione, successione, aut aequivalente aliqua constitu∣tione. Ames Bellarm. enervat. Lib. 3. de clericis, c. 2. Sect. 3. That is, the essence of a Ministers calling consists in law∣full election, Ordination depends upon Election, as the Coronation of a Prince, or the Inauguration of a Magi∣strate, depends upon Election, Succession, or some other Constitution aequivalent. And againe, Ritus impositionis ma∣nuum non est absolute necessarius ad esse Pastoris, non magis quam Coronatio ad esse Regis, aut celebratio nuptiarum ad earum esse. sect. 10. That is, the right of Imposition of hands is not abso∣lutely necessary to the essence of a Pastor, no more then the Coronation to the essence of a King, or the Celebra∣tion of Marriage to the essence thereof.

Ordination of Ministers is not a private action but pub∣lique,* and ought to be done publiquely in the Assembly of the Church, and therefore the persons that performe it, (whether they be ordinary Church Officers or no) cannot in any congruity of speech be called meere private persons in that Action.

2. The Church that hath no Officers, may elect Offi∣cers or Ministers unto themselves, therefore it may also ordaine them; which Argument Dr. Whitaker useth as wee shall see anon. If it have Commission and power from Christ for the one, and that the greater, it hath it also for the other which is the lesser: Now ordination is lesse then election, and depends upon it as a necessary Antecedent by divine Institution, by vertue of which it is justly admini∣stred, being indeed nothing else but the admission of a person lawfully elected into his Office, or a putting of him into possession thereof, whereunto he had right before by election, as was said before in answer to the precedent Question.

3. If a Church have Ministers or Elders before, then this ordination is to be performed by the Elders of the Church, and in their Assemblie. 1 Tim. 4. 14. as also many other acts are to be performed by them.

Page  694. This Ordination thus performed by the Elders for the Church, may fitly be called the Act of the whole Church, as it is the whole man that seeth, that heareth, that speaketh, when these acts are instrumentally performed by the eye, the eare, and the tongue, in which sense Master Parker saith, Ecclesia per alios docet, baptisaque, Polit. Eccles. l. 3. c. 7. p. 26.

5. But when a Church hath no Officers, but the first Officers themselves are to be ordained, then this Ordinati∣on by the Rite of imposing of hands may be performed for the Church by the most prime grave and able men from among themselves, as the Church shall depute hereunto, as the children of Israel did lay their hands upon the Levites, Numb. 8. 10. Now all the Congregation could not im∣pose all their hands upon them together, all their hands could not possibly reach them together, and therefore it must needs be that some of the Congregation in the name of the whole body performed this Rite: And as this Scripture sheweth, that the people may in some cases lay their hands upon Church Officers, (for the Levites were such, upon whom the children of Israel did lay their hands) so let it be considered, whether these reasons doe not fur∣ther make it manifest.

1. Men that are in no Office may elect, therefore they may ordaine, because ordination is nothing else but the execution of Election.

2. If it were not so then one of these would follow, either that the Officers must minister without any Ordination at all, or else by vertue of some former Ordination recei∣ved in some other Church or else they must be ordained by some other Minister or Ministers of some other Church, that were ordained afore them, and so the Ministery to be by succession. But the first of these is against the Scripture, 1 Tim. 4. 14. Heb. 6. 2. And the second were to establish the Popish opinion of the indeleble Character, imprinted as they imagine in their Sacrament of holy Orders. Whereas for ought we can discerne. If when they are called to Office in any Church, they have need of a new Election, not∣withstanding their former election into another Church Page  70 then they have by the same ground need of a new Ordina∣tion, for Ordination depends upon Election: If their for∣mer Election be ceased, their former Ordination is ceased also; and they can no more minister by vertue of a former Ordination unto another Church, then by vertue of a former Election. And for the third, we doe not understand what authority ordinary Officers can have to ordaine Ministers to such a Church, of which themselves are not so much as Members Besides at some times, namely at the first Re∣formation after the times of Popery, there were no others to be had but from the Pope, and his Bishops and Priests. Now it were a pittifull case, if the Sheep must have no Shepherd but such as are appointed to them by the wolves, That is, if Gods people might not have Ministers, but one∣ly from the popish Bishops. This were to say, either that the Ministers of Antichrist, must, or may ordaine Mini∣sters to the Church of Christ, or else that the popish Bi∣shops are true Ministers of Christ. And if Protestants thinke it necessary, that their first Ministers should be or∣dained by the popish Bishops, it is no marvell if the Papists do thereupon believe that their Church is the true Church, and their Bishops true Ministers. Such a scandall is it unto them to maintaine this personall succession of the Mini∣stery. But God doth so much abhorre Antichrist, that hee would not have his people to seek to him, nor his Priests to ordaine Christs Ministers, as he would not take of Babilon a stone for a Corner, nor a stone for a foundation, Ier. 51. 26.

3. It is thus in civill Corporations and Cities, the Major, Bayliffe, or other chiefe Officer elect, is at his entrance and inauguration to receive at the hands of his Predecessors the Sword or Keyes of the City, or to have some other solemne Ceremonie by him performed unto him yet if either there be no former as at the first or that the former be dead or upon necessity absent, when his Successor entreth, then is this Ceremony and worke performed by some other, the fittest Instrument; neither need that City borrow any Of∣ficer of another City, neither could he entermeddle there without usurpation, though both the Corporations have the same Charter under the same King. And so it is in this Page  71 spirituall Corporation or City, the Church of God.

4. That this point may seeme the lesse strange to you, we pray you consider with us a little further the nature of this Ordination, and then wee will adde the Testimonies of some eminent Protestant Writers in this case, that you may see this is not any singular opinion of ours. For the former, some indeed have so highly advanced this Ordina∣tion, that they have preferred it farre above preaching the Word, ministring the Sacraments, and Prayer, making it and the power of Excommunication, the two incommunicable Prerogatives of a Bishop above an ordinary Minister; yet the Scripture teacheth no such thing, but rather the con∣trary, for when the Apostles were sent out by Christ, there was no mention of Ordination in that Commission of theirs, but only of teaching & preaching & baptising Mat. 28. 19, 20. Mark. 16. 15, 16. If Ordination of Ministers had bin such a speciall worke, there would belike have bin some mention of it in their Commission. And certaine it is, the Apostles counted preaching the Word their princi∣pall worke, and after it Prayer, and the ministring of the Sa∣craments, Act. 6. 4. 1 Cor. 1. 17. If ordaining of Mini∣sters had bin in their account so prime a worke, it may seem Paul would rather have tarried in Creete to have ordained Elders there then have gone himselfe about preaching, seav∣ing Titus for the other, Tit. 1 5. By all which it appeares, that ordaining of Ministers is not such an eminent work as that it is to be preferred above preaching the Word, and mini∣string the Sacraments, and therefore to be performed by them that are superiours unto ordinary Ministers; prea∣ching and ministring the Sacraments, being left as inferi∣our workes unto Ministers, of an inferiour ranke, as they would have it, that stand for the superiority of Docesan Bishops; neither is it equall unto those other workes afore mentioned, that onely he that doth those, may performe this other also, as some others thinke; but being nothing else in the true nature and use of it but the execution and accomplishment and confirmation of election, it may bee performed by the people of God, that yet have no Officers, even as Election may upon which it doth depend.

Page  725. Lastly, let these sayings of some Protestant Writers of singular note, either for holinesse, or learning, or both, be well considered of. Master Perkins saith, Succession of Do∣ctrine alone is sufficient; for this Rule must bee remem∣bred, that the power of the Keyes (that is, of order and ju∣risdiction) is tyed by God and annexed in the New Testa∣ment to Doctrine. If in Turkey, or America, or elsewhere, the Gospel should be received by the counsell and perswa∣sion of private persons, they need not send into Europe for consecrated Ministers, but they have power to choose their owne Ministers from within themselves; because where God gives the Word he gives the power also; upon Gal. 1. 11. Doctor Willet saith, Whereas Bellarmine objecteth that as in the old Law the Priesthood went by carnall generation and lineall descent from Aaron, so in the New it must bee derived by succession from the Apostles; we answere, first, that our Saviour Christ and his Apostles could shew no li∣neall descent from Aaron, neither had their ordination from his Successors, and yet were the true Pastors of the Church. And a little after, This we say further, that both before Christ there were true Pastors and Prophets, which were not ordained by the Priests of Aaron; and since Christ, that received not their ordination successively from the Apostles. First, in the old Law, when the ordinary Priest∣hood was corrupted, God raised up Prophets from other Tribes that received not from the Priests their ordination and allowance: such an one was Amos, who was among Heardsmen, and was made a Prophet as he was gathering wilde black-berries. After the same manner in the corrupt times of the Gospel, the Lord hath raised up faithfull Mi∣nisters to his Church, that could shew no succession from the degenerate Clergy. And a little after, If Paul were made an Apostle without the ordination of the lawfull A∣postles much more may the Lord raise up new Pastors to his Church without ordination from the usurpers of the Apostles: Synops. Papism. contr. 2. Q. 3. of Succession Error 20. p. 81. Mor••y his words are full and plaine to the same pur∣pose. viz Although some of our men in such a corrupt state of the Church, as we have seene in our time, without wait∣ing Page  73 for calling or allowance of them who under the title of Pastors oppressed the Lords Flock, did at first preach with∣out this formall calling, and afterward were chosen and called to the holy Ministey by the Churches which they had taught; yet this ought to seeme no more strange, then if in a free common-wealth the people without waiting ei∣ther for the consent, or for the voices of those that tyran∣nize over them, should (according to the Lawes) make choice of good and wise Magistrates, such (happily) as God would serve his turne of for their deliverance, and for the publike restitution. And hereof wee have examples, first, in the Acts, where wee read that Philip, who was but a Deacon, preacheth in Samaria without the calling of the Apostles, yea without their privity, who for all that gave their allowance to his worke. In Frumentius, carried upon another occasion into the Indies, a meere Lay-man, who yet there preacheth the Gospel, and a good while after is there made Bishop. In those of whom Origen speaketh, that shall come by chance into a City where never any Christian was borne, shall there begin to teach, and labour to instruct the people in the Faith, whom the People shall afterward make their Pastors and Bishops: and besides, in all the Scriptures there is not one place that bindeth the Ministery of the Gospel to a certaine succession; but con∣trariwise the Scripture sheweth, that God would send two speciall witnesses to prophesie against Antichrist: Of the Church chap. 11. p. 371. Doctor Whitaker answering Bellar∣mine, that would prove Protestants to have no Church, be∣cause their Ministers had no Ordination by Bishops, saith, That as sometimes Bishops were chosen by the Clergy and sometimes by the People, so the same may be said of Ordi∣nation, viz. that it was sometimes by the Clergy and some∣times by the People; and then addeth, Quod si vocationem corum Episcoporum legitimam fuisse concedat Bellarminus, De or∣dinatione minus laboramus. Qui enim habent authoritatem vocan∣di, iidem etiam authoritatem ordinandi habent, si legitima ordina∣tio non possit impetrari: nam ordinatio sequitur vocationem; qui vocatur, i quasi in sui muneris possessionem mittitur: de Eccles. Q. 5. cap. 6 p. 510. Finally, Doctor Ames doth also witnesse Page  74 the same in many places of his workes: for a taste take these few sayings of his in this case, viz. Ad totam Ecclesiam sem∣per pertinet ordinatio, quoad jus, vim, virtutem illam quam habet in Ministro Ecclesiae constituendo; sicut celebratio matrimonii vim aut virtutem omnem acceptam refert legitimo consensui conjugum: Ecclesie statu (ministerio & ordine deficiente) collapso vel corrupto, à plebe etiam actus iste ordinationis, quatenus necessarius est ad Ministri constitutionem in tali casu, potest legitimè exerceri, Bel∣larm. enervat. lib. 3. de clericis, cap. 2 de ordinatione. And againe, a little after; Episcopos veros à veris Episcopis ordinariè dicimus ordinands esse, sed nomine Ecclesiae cui ordinantur. And againe, a little after, Potestas ordinandi est aliqu modo origina∣liter in tota Ecclesia, sicut potestas videndi originaliter est in toto animali, quamvis formaliter & subjectivè sit in oculo tantùm; tum etiam ordinationis exercitium pendet à tota Ecclesia, sicut actus vi∣dendi hoc vel illud determinatè pendet non ab oculo sed à toto. And againe, Quamvis in Ecclesia benè constituta non debeat aliis quam presbyteris ordinandi manus mandari; in defectu tamen ido∣neorum presbyterorum potest non presbyteris mandari. And yet againe in the next place, Si concedatur hoc, quòd ex ordine nemo possit esse legitimus pastor, nisi sit à legitimo Pastore & Episcopo or∣dinatus: In ordinis tamen defectu, cùm jam primò instaurari debet ordo, non potesttam accuratè observari, atque adeo extraordinarium aliquid tum potest intervenire sine ullo vitio. These words you see are punctuall and plaine, that the power of ordaining Ministers is originally in the Church; and that though when a Church hath Presbyters, the act of ordaining is to be done by those Presbyters; yet in defect of such it may be performed by them that are no Presbyters, lawfully, and without fault; which is the case of our Churches that are in their beginnings, and may be the case of any Church when they come to be without Officers, as by warre, pesti∣lence, &c. it may come to passe.

There are some things common to Pastors with Tea∣chers;* as, that they are both Officers of the Church ap∣pointed by Christ; both Elders or Bishops to rule and feed the Church, by labouring in the Word and Doctrine, Act. 20 28 1 Tim. 3. 1. Tit. 1. 5, 7. and therefore the name of Pastour, in a generall sense may be given to them both, Ier.Page  75 3. 15. as also the name of Teacher, Isa. 30. 20. as those names may also be given to Apostles, in as much as they also are Elders, Pastors, Teachers, to rule, to feed, to teach the Church of God, 1 Pet. 5. 1. Ioh. 21. 15. 16. 1 Tim. 2. 7. & 2. 1. 11. And if Pastors and Teachers be both of them Church offi∣cers, to feed and rule the Church▪ by labouring in the Word and Doctrine, they must not do this without application of it to the consciences and states of the hearers, as God shall helpe them: for this application is one part of his worke, that is by his office to preach the Word, without which the Word is not handled in such a manner as it ought to be, 2 Tim. 2. 15. 1 Cor. 14. 25. Luk. 12. 42. and many hearers need this, the Word delivered in generall without applica∣tion of it being to them as bread set before children in the whole loafe. And if both of them must labour in the Word and Doctrine, and not onely in a generall way, but with ap∣plication, we see not but they may both of them admini∣ster the Seales or Sacraments, wherein there is a speciall ap∣plication of the promises of the Gospel, and the grace of Christ therein, unto the faithfull and believing receivers. 2. And yet for all this community between them, they are not in propriety of speech the same Officers, but distinct, and so the Scripture speaketh of them Ephes. 4. 11. For if a man would say their Offices are confounded, because the same generall worke of preaching the Word, and applying the same, belongs unto them both: By the same reason a man might say the offices of Apostles and Evangelists were confounded; for both of them were to preach the Word, with application of the same by doctrine, and Seales; and also that the ordinary Pastors were the same office with them both, because hee also is to doe the same worke of preaching and applying: But an Apostle is to feed, and rule, and teach, by way of Doctrine and Application, as an Apostle; an Evangelist as an Evangelist, and an ordinary Pastor as an ordinary Pastor, and therein lyes the diffe∣rence: and wee may adde, a Teacher as a Teacher; and therein is he distinguished both from the Pastor, and from all other Church Officers, even as by the same they all are distinguished one from another, the same generall worke Page  76 of Doctrine and Application being common to them all.

3. And for the Teacher and Pastor, the difference be∣tween them lyes in this, that the one is principally to at∣tend upon points of Knowledge and Doctrine, though not without Application; and the other to points of Practice, though not without Doctrine: and therefore the one of them is called▪ He that teacheth, and his worke is thus ex∣pressed, let him attend on teaching; and the other, He that ex∣horteth, and his worke, to attend on exhortation, Rom. 12. 7, 8. and the gift of the one is called a word of knowledge, and the gift of the other, a word of wisedome, 1 Cor. 12. 8. as experi∣ence also sheweth, that one mans gift is more doctrinall, and for points of knowledge; and anothers more exhorta∣tory, and for points of practise.

It is not the manner of Elders among us, whether Ruling* onely, or Ruling and Teaching also, to strive for authori∣ty or preheminence one above another; as remembring what lesson our Saviour taught his Disciples, when they were at strife among them, which of them should be the greatest, Luk. 22. 24, 25. &c. If Diotrephes strive for prehemi∣nence 3 Ioh. 9, 10. verily we abhorre such striving, and by the grace of God respect one another as Brethren. As for the peoples duty toward their Elders, it is taught them plainly in that place, 1 Thes. 5. 12, 13. as also in that of 1 Tim. 5. 17 Let the Elders that rule well bee counted worthy of double honour, specially they that labour in the Word and Doctrine; and this Word (specially) shewes them, that as they are to ac∣count all their Elders worthy of double honour, so in speciall manner their Teaching or Preaching Elders.

These are answered in that which was sent the last* yeare.

We doe believe that every Minister of the Gospel ought* to be maintained with sufficient and honourable mainte∣nance, according to his need and occasions, in regard of his person, calling, charge of children and hospitality, so as he that preacheth the Gospel may in all these respects live Page  77 of the Gospel, 1 Cor. 9. 14. Gal 6. 6. 1 Tim. 5. 17. And this maintenance is not to be allowed as almes and courtesie, but as debt and duty, to bee paid according to the rule of Justice; the Labourer is worthy of his wages, Luk. 10. 17. which the Apostle sheweth to be according to all Lawes of nature, nations, Moses and Christ, 1 Cor. 9. But for setled and stinted maintenance, there is nothing done that way amongst us, except from yeare to yeare, because the condi∣tions of Ministers may vary, and of the Church to which they doe belong: Neither doe we know any such thing to be appointed by Christ our Lord, for the maintenance of the Ministery in these dayes; but this we know that the great mountaine burning with fire, cast into the sea upon the sounding of the second Trumpet Rev. 8. 8, 9. is applyed by some good Writers to those times, when Constantine brought setled endowments into the Church, with ampla praedia (as they are called) are counted by some to bee no better then poyson to the Church; as the Stories say that upon the fact of the good Emperour a voice was heard, which said, Hodie seminatum est virus in Ecclesiam. And if those Writers be not deceived which so expound that Scri∣pture (as for our parts wee know not but they expound it truely) then in as much as upon the casting of that moun∣taine into the sea, a third part of it became blood and a third part of living creatures dyed, and a third part of ships were destroyed, it may be truely gathered thence that the bringing in of setled endowments and eminent preferments into the Church, hath been the corruption, and to some the destruction of such as lived by them, both Church-of∣ficers and Church-members.

We doe not permit, and call upon (such whom you call)* meere Lay men, and private persons, neither being in the Ministery nor intended to it, ordinarily to preach or pro∣phecy publiquely, in or before the Congregation, if by or∣dinarily, you meane frequently and usually. For where or∣dinary Officers are not wanting to a Church, and neither detained from their worke by sicknesse, nor just absence, we thinke it most meet to offer our Sacrifice to God and to the Page  78 Church of our best gifts. But yet if you oppose ordinary to extraordinary, we doe confesse that some private mem∣bers (to wit such as are eminently fitted with knowledge and utterance, being also men of humble spirits, and holy lives, all which qualifications we finde but in a few) may with∣out an extraordinary calling from God be called forth by by the Church upon some occasion (and namely in the ab∣sence or bodily weaknesse of Ministers, or for tryall of gifts when a man intends the Ministery) to speake to edifi∣cation, exhortation and comfort. Iehosaphat sent Princes (who neither were Ministers, nor intended so to be) to teach with the Priests and Levites, to wit, at least to incourage the people, to hearken to the Priests and Levites come a∣mongst them, 2 Chron. 17. 7, 8, 9. As Jehosaphat himselfe also did the like, 2 Chron. 20. 20. Yea, and was their mouth also to God in prayer, v. 2. 5. to 13. As for that prophecying 1 Cor. 14. We conceive as some things in it be extraordinary, so some things ordinary. Extraordinary, that private men, and new converts should be so soon & so suddainly, & so much enlightened & enlarged, as to be able to prophecy publike∣ly to the edification of a whole Church: But yet this we con∣ceive to be ordinary, that some private men may be found (at least in some Churches) grown Christians, of able gifts, who may have received a gift of Prophecy, and for such we doe not thinke it requireth any more an extraordinary cal∣ling for them to prophecy in our Churches, then for Iehosa∣phat and his Princes to prophecy in the Church of Israel.

Our Answer to this Question is that we never knew any* Ministers that did call upon the people thus to doe: and as for us, such calling upon them is farre from us. All that we know to be holden in this case is this, that some thinke the people have a liberty to aske a Question publiquely for their better satisfaction upon very urgent and weighty cause, though even this is doubted of by others, and all judge the ordinary practice of it, not necessary: but (if it be not meekly and wisely carried) to be inconvenient if not utterly unlawfull, and therefore such asking of Questions is seldome used in any Church among us, and in most Churches never. True it is, in the times a little afore the Synod divers that were infected with corrupt opinions Page  79 were very bold, & forward in this kind of asking Questions, after Sermons, especially when they had heard somthing de∣livered publiquely that did make against their Tenents; by which kind of asking Questions, they plainely discovered of what spirit they were, but for being called upon by us thus to doe, (as it seems to your Question that you have been informed) the truth is, there was no such matter. But now these men are long since, (the greatest part of them) to an Island (called Aquedneck) departed from amongst us, some of them being excommunicated or banished, or both, & o∣thers departing voluntarily, or for feare of the like censure, by meanes of which departure of these troublesome spirits from amongst us, and the blessing of God upon the Synod & Sermons that have laid open & reproved this disorderly asking of Questions, a man may now live from one end of the year unto another in these Congregations, & not hear any man open his mouth in such kind of asking Questions.

1. The conversion of sinners unto God doth not alwaies* follow the preaching of every one, that is in a lawfull of∣fice of ministery, as experience and Scripture doe aboun∣dantly witnesse, Isay. 49. 4, 5. & 53. 1. Ezech. 3. 7. 2 King. 17. 13 14. Mat. 11. 20, 21. &c. Iohn 12. 37.

2. And when it doth follow, it is not by vertue of him, or of his office, but by vertue of Gods blessing, and the mighty operation of his spirit as he pleaseth, without which the Minister and his office could have had no vertue at all to convert sinners unto God, 1 Cor. 3. 6. no more then Pe∣ter and Iohn could heale the lame man, by virtue of any pow∣er or holinesse that was in them, Act. 3. 12. For otherwise faithfull Ministers should not have their labours blessed for conversion some more and some lesse▪ but all in the same measure, inasmuch as one of them is no more a Minister then another, nor no more in Office then another, their office being the same, the effect in conversion would bee the same if conversion were by the vertue of their office. The truth it is, the Law of the Lord, (the whole Word of God) that converts the soule, Psal. 19. 7. And the Gospell that is the power of God unto Salvation. Rom. 1. 16. And therefore the conversion of a man to God is to be ascribed to God, and to the Word of his Grace; and not to the Mi∣nister, nor any vertue of his office.

Page  803. But this we doe acknowledge, that the sound conver∣sion of sinners, whensoever such a thing comes to passe, doth argue that the Instruments of such conversion are sent of God: God would not so have blessed them, as to convert any by them, if himselfe had not sent them at all, Rom. 10. 14, 15. Ier. 23. 32.

4. And yet we dare not say, that Gods Word is not made effectuall to conversion, unlesse the man that speakes it be a Minister, that is to say, a Church Officer, for the contrary is evident from the Scripture, John 4. 39. Act. 8. 4. with 11. 19, 20, 21. 1 Cor. 7. 16. They that were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Steven, were not Church Officers, at least all of them (for the Apostles who were their chiefe, if not their only preaching Officers, were not scattered abroad upon that persecution, but remained still at Jerusalem, Acts 8. 1.) and yet these men did so preach the Word of the Lord Jesus to the Iewes and the Grecians, that through the good hand of the Lord that was with them, a great number believed and turned to the Lord; And the same we say of the woman of Samaria, by whose Testi∣monie of Christ many of the Samaritans believed on him. To restraine the efficacy of Gods Word in such sort as to say that none can be converted by it, unlesse he that speakes it be a Minister, is to limit the spirit of the Lord, where he hath not limited himself, who is free in working by whom he pleaseth, and as he will, 1 Cor. 12. 11. Even as the wind bloweth where it listeth, Iohn 3. 8. and sometimes doth bring to passe great things by weake meanes, that his owne glory may be the more, 1 Cor. 1. 27, 28, 29. If any say, how can these things stand together, that a man that is no Mini∣ster may be an Instrument of conversion, and yet conversi∣on of sinners argues that the man is sent of God? Wee an∣swer, that we must distinguish of sending according to the divers degrees thereof. For sometimes it imports no more but such an Act of Gods disposing providence, whereby men are gifted and enabled for such or such a worke, and permitted thereunto, though they have no command from him for the doing thereof, nor doe it not with a sincere minde in any obedience to God, but for corrupt and sinister Page  81 ends of their owne. Thus God sent the King of Assyria against the Iewes, Isa. 10. 6. And bands of the Caldees, and bands of o∣ther Nations against Jehojakim, and against Iudah, to destroy it, 2 King. 24. 2. And yet they had no command from him to doe this, but sinned grievously in so doing. Thus they that prea∣ched Christ not sincerely, but of envie and strife, to adde af∣fliction to Pauls bands, yet inasmuch as they preached Christ, might be said to be sent of God, and therefore the Apostle joy∣ed at their preaching, Phil. 1. 15, 16. Thus Baalam in his Prophecies against the enemies of Israel and for the happy state of Gods people, might be said to be sent of God, though his heart and ends were corrupt and sinfull. But if men be not one∣ly enabled with gifts for such or such a worke, but besides this, have a sincere minde and desire in the using thereof, to seeke the glory of God, and the good of soules, such men may much more be said to be sent of God, Iohn 7. 18. For these men have not onely abilities and gifts from God, and permission to imploy them as the former had but also his spirit within them, which doth set their hearts on right and holy ends, which the other wanted. And yet if men doe want a lawfull office of Ministe∣ry, wherein to exercise those gifts or a lawfull calling to that office or exercise, they may in that respect be said not to be sent of God, or not to be called of him though sent of him, in the first or second respect. Thus in the Scriptures it is said of some they ran and I sent them not, Ier. 23. 21. I perceived that God had not sent him, but he pronounced his Prophecies, because San∣ballat and Tobiah had hired him, Neh. 6. 12. And yet doubtlesse in respect of Gods disposing providence, he had sent them, as the Scripture witnesseth, that God sends strong delusions and lying Prophets, and unfaithfull Shepherds, 2 Thes. 2. 11. 1 King. 22. 22, 23. Zech. 11. 16. to be a plague unto the Sons of men, and for tryall to his servants, Deut. 13. 3. 1 Cor. 11. 19. Now let these distinctions be applyed to the case in hand, and we may perceive how, if a man convert sinners, certainly God sends him; and yet some that are not called to any office in the Ministery, may through his blessing convert sinners: A man converts none unlesse God send him in the first or second sence and yet he may convert, and not bee sent, if sending be taken in the third sence, that is for a lawfull calling into some office in the Page  82 Church. And wee may adde, further a man may be sent in this third sence and yet convert none if he be not also sent in the first and second respect; that is a man may have a lawfull calling out∣wardly unto a lawfull office in the Church, and yet not convert sinners, if he want gifts or sincerity of heart, which might be the case of Iudas, and of many wicked Priests in the old Testa∣ment: Yea, happily convert none though he be truly sent in all three respects, as was said before in the beginning of the Answer to this Quaere. But if comparison be made, we doubt not, but whilest the Ministery remaines uncorrupt, God is wont to follow with a greater blessing the labours of those who have gifts and an office of Ministery also, then of those who have gifts alone without office. He is willing, and wonted to honour himselfe most, where most of his wayes are observed.

Master Parker Polit. Eccles. l. 2. c. 39. &c. 41. observes a dif∣ference* between the Substantialls in Church Politie, and the ac∣cessaries or accidentalls▪ and circumstantialls: And againe, that of circumstances some are generall, and some particular and individuall; and so sheweth that the Church Politie in regard of the substantialls thereof is prescribed in the Word, and there∣fore immutable. According to which distinction wee Answer, that if those words (precisely the same course) mentioned in this Question, be not meant of particular and individuall cir∣cumstances, but only of the substantialls or generall circum∣stances, then for ought we know there is no materiall point, ei∣ther in constitution, or government, wherein the Churches in N. E. (viz. In the bay, in the jurisdiction of Plymouth, at Connectacute, and Quilipiake) do not observe the same course. (And sure it is if they doe not they ought, because Christ hath left but one way for all Churches, and the same to be observed to the Worlds end, 1 Tim. 6. 13, 14.) Onely, that conformity to the Lyturgie and Ceremonies in some places, to the North∣ward, that Anabaptisme at Providence, and Familisme at A∣quidneck▪ hinders that we cannot say the same of them, nor of any other in N. E. that concurre with them in their unwar∣rantable wayes▪ if there be any such, though thankes be to God there is none within this Jurisdiction.

Who must have liberty to sit downe in this Common-wealth* and enjoy the liberties thereof is not our place to determine, but Page  83 the Magistrates who are the rulers and governours of the Com∣mon-wealth, and of all persons within the same. And as for ac∣knowledging a company to be a sister Church, that shall set up, and practise another forme of Church Discipline, being other∣wise in some measure, as you say, approveable, we conceive the companie that shall so doe, shall not be approveable therein. For the Discipline appointed by Jesus Christ for his Churches is not arbitrary, that one Church may set up and practice one forme, and another another forme, as each one shall please, but is one and the same for all Churches, and in all the Essentialls and Substantialls of it unchangable, and to be kept, till the appea∣ring of Jesus Christ, 1 Tim. 6. 13, 14. from which place Master Cartwright observes the perpetuity of Church Government taught by the Apostles, unto the end of the World, and is plain and large in this point, 1 Rep. p. 177. as is likewise Mr. Parker Polit. Eccles. l. 2. c. 42. and so forward to the end of that Book, unto whom we refer you herein. And if that Discipline which we here practise, be (as we are perswaded of it) the same which Christ hath appointed, and therefore unalterable, we see not how another can be lawfull; and therefore if a company of people shall come hither, and here set up and practise another, we pray you thinke not much, if we cannot promise to approve of them in so doing, especially untill wee see how approvable the men may be, and what Discipline it is that they would set up. For should wee in such generall words as is there expressed, promise to accept of a companie as a Sister Church▪ that shall set up and practise another Discipline, and then should be taken at the ut∣most extent of our words, we might by this meanes be bound to accept of a company of Papists, or Arminians, or Familists, or Anabaptists, as a sister Church, for there is none of these but something may be found in them, and in their Discipline, that is in some measure approveable. And yet we pray you heartily in the Lord, so conceive of us in this passage, that we are farre from making any such comparison, as if your selves were not ap∣proved in our consciences far above the best of such men, yea and above our selves in many respects.

We have said before in that which we sent you the last yeare, and upon this occasion we say it now againe, that you are in our hearts (if the Lord would suffer) to live and dye together: and Page  84 therefore if this Question were meant of your selves, or any of you, and a company of godly people joyning with you (as it may be it is, though we cannot certainly say it, because you doe not expresse so much) we thinke if you were here, wee should gladly accept of you and your people as a sister-Church, and that you would doe the like to ours; and yet not when you should set up and practise one forme of Church-discipline, and we another, but because we are perswaded if you were here, you would set up and practise the very same that wee doe, and not any other: or else if we be swerving from the rule in any particular (as God knowes we are but weake men, and far from dreaming of perfection in this life) God would by you send in more light unto us then yet we see, and make you instruments in his hand for perfecting what is here begun according to his will, for strengthening what is weake, and reforming what may be found to be amisse: For we trust in the Lord, that as wee are desirous that you might joyne with us in the wayes wherein we now walke, (which we doe not see but they are according to the Rule) so we should be as willing to receive light from you, and to redresse (as God shall helpe us) whatsoever by you or any o∣ther he may discover to us to stand in need of Reformation. For which cause among others we doe the more earnestly de∣sire, if it were the Lords will that he might send you hither, no∣thing doubting but if you were here, there would be such agree∣ment between you and us, that either you would approve of the things which we beleeve and practise, or that we should approve of what you may shevv us to be more agreeable to the minde of Christ: and then there would be no occasion of such a Questi∣on, Whether we may set up and practise another discipline, and yet be ac∣cepted as a sister-Church: but rather of blessing the Lord, when that shall be accomplished in you and us which is written in the Prophets, I will give them one heart and one way: I will turne unto the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the Name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent, Jer. 32. 39. Zeph. 3. 9. Wee have confidence in you through the Lord, that you will be none otherwise min∣ded; but if in any thing ye be otherwise minded God shall reveale even this unto you, Gal. 5. 10. Phil. 3. 15.

This was answered in the answer to Posit. 1. & 2. sent unto you* the last yeare.