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 place of Deut. 29. is not sufficient to prove a Church-Cove∣nant*in these dayes: because it is in the Scriptures of the old Testament, for what soever must be used in the dayes of the New Testament, must be proved from the Scriptures of the New Testament, or else it is to be layd aside.

1. The Church-Covenant may be proved from the New Te∣stament* also▪ as will afterwards appeare.

2. But suppose there were not pregnant places for it in the New Testament, yet it is not enough to prove the same unlawfull: for whatsoever Ordinance of the old Testament is not repealed in the New Testament, as peculiar to the Jewish Paedagogie, but was of morall and perpetuall equitie, the same bindes us in these dayes▪ and is to be accounted the revealed will of God in all ages, though it be not particularly and expressely mentioned in the writings of the New Testament, else how shall we prove it unlawfull for a man to marry his Sister, or his Aunt? How shall we prove it war∣rantable and necessary for Magistrates to punish Sabbath-break∣ing, blasphemy, and Idolatry? How shall we prove it lawfull to apply the seale of Gods Covenant unto Infants? or to admit wo∣men to eate of the holy things; for the Scriptures of the New Te∣stament doe speake little in these cases; onely the Scriptures of the Old Testament doe give direction, and light about them, Lev▪ 18. & 19. Neh. 13. 15. &c. 2 Chron. 15. 16. & 2 King. 23. Gen. 17. 2. & Exod. 12. 4. 6. And the New Testament hath nothing to the contrary, and they are all according to morall equitie and reason, Page  9 and therefore they are to be observed from the Scriptures of the Old Testament, as the revealed will of God, though there were nothing expressely for them in the New. And the same we say of the particular in hand. For, that a company should be combined together into one body, in way of Government and subjection, by way of mutuall free Covenant; as men doe when they enter in∣to Church Estate, nothing is more naturall or agreeable to morall equitie; nay, it implyeth a contradiction in the very name of liber∣tie or freedome, that free-men should take upon them authoritie or power over free men without their free consent, and voluntary and mutuall Covenant or Engagement. And therefore seeing this Covenant is not repealed in the Scriptures of the New Testament, the Scriptures of the Old are sufficient warrant for it.

Another Scripture to prove the same, is Deut. 26. 16, 17, 18. with Deut. 27. 9. This day the Lord hath commanded thee to doe these Statutes and Judgements▪ thou shalt therefore keepe and doe them, &c. Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walke in his wayes, and to keepe his Statutes, &c. And the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people; Take heed and hearken, O Israel, this day thou art become the people of the Lord thy God. This Scripture plainly shewes these things: 1. That here was the making of a Covenant between God and man; for that avouching of God to them, and them to God, was the making of Covenant, ver. 17, 18. 2. This was not of one person, but of a company together, the whole people of Israel, 26. 18. & 27. 9. 3 Here is the effect of this Covenant, that thereby they become the Lords people, ver. 9. So that when a company doe enter into holy Covenant with God, they become thereby the Lords people, that is to say, his Church. So Ezech. 16. 8. proves the same likewise: I entred into Covenant with thee, saith the Lord, and thou becamst mine. Here also is the ma∣king of Covenant between the Lord and men; and this Covenant was not personall, but of a company; for it was with Hierusalem, ver. 2. which was a whole Citie; it was with them that were mul∣tiplied as the bud of the feild, ver. 7. and it was with them that did prosper into a kingdome, ver. 13. and therefore not meant onely of any one particular person: And by this Covenant they became the Lords; that is, the Lords Church and people; for it is expresly said, I entred into Covenant with thee, and thou becamest mine. So that when a company enter into Covenant with God, and God with Page  10 them, they become thereby the Lords Church and people. Like∣wise Ezek. 20. 37. I will cause you to passe under the rod; and I will bring you into the bond of the Covenant. In which place, there is first mention of an holy Covenant. Secondly, This was not of one person, but of a company, the whole house of Israel, ver. 30. 39. Thirdly, And this Covenant is called a Bond, because it is by Co∣venant that a people are bound, and tyed, and knit together, as one Church, all of them unto the Lord, and one unto another; So that the Covenant is the bond of union, by which a company are so combined and united, as that they become a Church. It is also ob∣servable, how the Lord before he would bring them into this bond of the Covenant, he would cause them to passe under the rod; by which phrase, as Junius upon the place well observes, is meant try∣all and probation; drawne from the manner of Shepheards or owners of Cattell, who went among their sheepe, or other cattell with a rod, and therewith pointed out such as were for the Lords holy use, as Lev. 27. 32. And so hereby is noted that God would not in the dayes of the Gospel have men to be brought into his Church hand over head, but he would first cause them to passe under the rod of due tryall and probation; and then such as upon tryall were found to be holy for God, or meete matter for his Church, should solemnly enter into Covenant with God, and that Covenant should be the bond that should combine them, and knit them together into one, that so they that were many particular persons, should all become one body, that is to say, a Church.

And so much of the first Argument drawne from plaine Texts of Scripture.

A second Argument may be taken from the Titles that are gi∣ven* to the Church; as first, that the Church is said to be married or espoused unto Christ, Jer. 2. 2. & 3. 14. 2 Cor. 11. 2. From whence the Argument may be formed thus: If every Church be∣comes a Church by being married or espoused unto Christ, then a company becomes a Church by way of Covenant: But the for∣mer is true, therefore the latter is true also.

The Assumption, that a Church becomes a Church by being married unto Christ, is plaine from the former Scriptures, where the Church of Israel, and the Church of Corinth, in regard of their entring into Church-Estate, are said to be espoused and married unto Christ, as a loving and chast Virgine to one husband. Which Page  11 spirituall marriage between Christ and his Church, is also taught in the type of the marriage between King Salomon and Pharoahs daughter, Psal. 45.

The Consequence of the Proposition is plaine in reason; for there is no marriage but by way of Covenant; no woman becomes a mans wife, but by way of bestowing her selfe in Covenant upon such a man: neither doth a man become an husband, but by the same means; and therefore the Scripture speaking of the violation of marriage, calls it a violation of Covenant, Prov. 2. 17.