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.

But this opinion of Church-Covenant, is holden by none but the*Brownists, or those of the Separation, and therefore it is not to be re∣ceived.

This ground cannot be made good, that none but they of the* Separation are for Church-Covenant, for all the Reformed Chur∣ches generally, as was shewed before in Answer to Objection the tenth, are for it in their judgement & practise; and shall all they be condemned for * Brownists, or maintaining unlawfull Separation from the Church? Also Master Parker and Doctor Ames, men of our owne Nation, famous for holinesse and learning, and modera∣tion, both of them plead for Church-Covenant, and yet neither of them were Brownists, but bare witnesse against that riged Separa∣tion. For Doctor Ames, his judgement of Church-Covenant may be seene in his Medulla, Theol. lib. 1. cap. 32. § 14, 15, 17.

Fideles non constitunt Ecclesiam particularem, quamvis simul forsan plures in eodem loco conveniant aut vivant, nisi speciali vinculo intersese con∣junguntur, &c. That is, beleevers doe not make a particular Page  42 Church, though perhaps there be many of them that meete▪ to∣gether, and live in the same place, unlesse they be joyned toge∣ther by some speciall bond amongst themselves: for so one Church would many times be dissolved into many, and many Churches confounded into one. Now this bond is a Covenant, either expressed or implicite, whereby beleevers do binde them∣selves particularly to performe all such duties, both towards God and mutually to one another, as pertaine to the nature of a Church, and their edification. And thereupon no man is rightly admitted into the Church, but by confession of his Faith, and stipulation, or promise of obedience.

These words doe plainely and fully shew his judgement of Church-Covenant, to be the very same that is held and practised in New-England at this day. And that he was not for that seve∣ritie and regiditie of separation, may be cleared from sundry of his workes, wherein he plainly and fully beares witnesse against the same, and namely, in his Fresh suite against Ceremonies, pag. 207. and in his second Manuduction, wherein he purposely and at large deales in this Argument of Separation. Sure it is Master Canne in his Booke, wherein he goes about to prove the necessitie of separa∣tion from the Non-Conformists principles, doth professedly and expressely oppose himselfe against Doctor Ames in the point of Separation, which shewes how farre the good Doctor was from favouring that way, when they most zealously therein doe count him to be a speciall opposite of theirs, as indeed he was. And for Master Parker, his judgement of Church-Covenant was heard be∣fore in part; where he so much approveth the practise of the Re∣formed Churches in this point. And much more may be seene of his judgement herein, in the sixteenth Chap. of the third booke of his Polit. Ecclesiastica. And yet in the same place, and likewise lib 1. cap. 13. 14. of the same Treatise he plentifully and plainly shewes his dislike of the wayes of Separation, as is also acknow∣ledged in an Admonition to the Reader, prefixed before that Booke, by I. R. suo, suorumque nomine. So that this Assertion ap∣peares to be untrue, wherein it is said, that none but Brownists and Separatists doe approve of Church-Covenant.

As for the Inference from this ground, that therefore Church-Covenant should not be received, because it is pleaded for and pra∣ctised by the Separatists. We Answer, that this will not follow, Page  43 unlesse it could be proved, that the Separatists hold no truth; or if they hold a truth wee must not hold it, that so it may appeare wee differ from them; Either of which, it were unreasonable to affirme. If the Papists hold sundry Articles of Faith, as that there is a unitie of the Divine Essence, and Trinitie of Persons, that Je∣sus Christ is God and man, and that true Messiah that was promi∣sed, and the onely Saviour of the world, and many such like, must wee deny these things because they are holden by the Papists? This were as unreasonable as to condemne the doctrine of the Resurrection, because it was maintained by the Pharisees, Act. 23. 8. And so we say of Church-Covenant, holden and practised by them of the Separation; as also many other truths are maintained by them: No reason that truth should be refused, because the Se∣paratists maintaine it. When Doctor Bancroft in a Sermon at Pauls-Crosse, had avouched that the Superioritie of Bishops a∣bove other Ministers, is by Gods owne Ordinance, and to make the contrary opinion odious, affirmed that Aerius persisting in it, was condemned for an Heretique by the generall consent of the whole Church, and that Martin and his Companions, doe main∣taine the same opinion of Aerius; What saith learned Doctor Rei∣nolds hereunto, in a Letter to Sir Francis Knolls, who required him to shew his judgement herein:

Touching Martin, saith he, if any man behave himselfe otherwise then in discretion and cha∣ritie he ought, let the blame be laid where the fault is, and de∣fend him not; but if by the way he utter a truth, mingled with whatsoever else, it is not reason that that which is of GOD should be condemned for that which is of man: no more then the doctrine of the Resurrection should be reproved, because it was maintained and held by the Pharisees: Wherefore remo∣ving the odious name of Martin from that which is sinceritie and love, is to be dealt with, &c.

And the very same doe wee say to them that would make Church-Covenant to be odious, because it is held by those of the Seperation, who are commonly called Brownists: If men behave themselves otherwise then they ought, we defend them not there∣in, but if they hold any truth mingled with whatsoever else, wee would not have that which is of God to be condemned, for that which is of man: truth should not be refused, because of other corruptions that may be found in them that hold it.