The divine right of church-government and excommunication: or a peacable dispute for the perfection of the holy scripture in point of ceremonies and church government; in which the removal of the Service-book is justifi'd, the six books of Tho: Erastus against excommunication are briefly examin'd; with a vindication of that eminent divine Theod: Beza against the aspersions of Erastus, the arguments of Mr. William Pryn, Rich: Hooker, Dr. Morton, Dr. Jackson, Dr. John Forbes, and the doctors of Aberdeen; touching will-worship, ceremonies, imagery, idolatry, things indifferent, an ambulatory government; the due and just powers of the magistrate in matters of religion, and the arguments of Mr. Pryn, in so far as they side with Erastus, are modestly discussed. To which is added, a brief tractate of scandal ...
Rutherford, Samuel, 1600?-1661.
Page  78


Morall Obedience resolved ultimately in Scripture.

FOR farther light in this point, it is a Question: What is the for∣mall object of our obedience in all our our Morall actions? that is, Whether is the Faith practicall of our obedience, & the obedience itself, in all the externals of Church Government resolved in this ul∣timately and finally. This and this we do, and this point of Government*we believe and practise: because the Lord hath so appointed it, in an immutable Platform of Government in Scripture: or because the Church hath so appointed, or because there is an intrinsecall conve∣niency in the thing it self, which is discernable by the light of na∣ture? Ans. This Question is near of blood to the Controversie between Papists and us, concerning the formall object of our faith▪ that is, Whither are we to believe the scripture to be the Word of God, because so saith the Church: or upon this objective ground, because the Lord so speaketh in his own Word: Now we hold, that scripture it self furnisheth light and faith of it self, from it self; and that the Church doth but hold forth the light: as I see the light of the Candle, because of the light itself, not because of the Candlestick. Hence in this same very Question, the Iews were not to believe, that the smallest pin of the Tabernacle, or that any officer, High-Priest, Priest or Levite, were necessary, nor were they to obey in the smallest Ceremoniall observance; because Moses and the Priests or Church, at their godly discretion, without Gods own spe∣ciall warrant said so: But, because so the Lord spake to Moses, so the Lord gave in writing to David and Solomon, 1 Chron. 28. 11. 19. And so must it be in the Church of the New Testament, in all the Positives of Government; otherwise, if we observe Saints∣dayes, and believe Crossing and Surplice, hath this Religious signifi∣cation, because the Church saith so; then is our obedience of con∣science finally resolved in the Testimony of men so speaking, at their own discretion without any warrant of scripture. 2. To believe and obey in any Religious Positives, because it is the pleasure of men so to Command, is to be servants of men, and to make their will the formall reason of our obedience, which is unlawfull. If it be said, that we are to believe and Practise many things in naturall neces∣sity, as to eat, move, sleep, and many circumstantials of Church-Po∣licy, because the Law of naturall reason saith so; and because there Page  79 is an intrinsecall conveniency, and an aptitude to edifie, & to decore and beautifie in an orderly and a decent way the service of God, and not simply, because the Church saith so, nor yet because the Lord speaketh so in the Scripture, and therefore all our obedience is not Ultimately and finally resolved into the Testimony of the Scripture. I Answer, That there be some things that the Law of Nature commandeth, as to move, eat, sleepe; and here with leave I distinguish Factum, the common practise of men from the jus, what men in conscience ought to do, as concerning the former, mo∣rall and naturall mens practise is all resolved in their own carnall will, and lusts, and so they eat, move and sleep, because nature, and carnall will, leadeth them thereinto, not because God in the Law of nature (which I humbly conceive to be a part of the first ele∣ments and principles of the Morall Law, or Decalogue, and so a part of Scripture) doth so warrant us to do; and therefore the moving, eating, drinking of naturall Moralists, are materially lawfull and conforme to scripture, for God by the Law of nature commandeth both Heathen men, and pure Moralists within the vi∣sible Church, to do naturall acts of this kinde; because the Lord hath revealed that to be his will in the Book of nature: But these Heathen do these acts, because they are suitable to their Lusts and carnall will, and not because God hath commanded them so to do in the Book of nature; and this is their sin in the manner of doing though materially, Et quod substantiam actus, the action be good; and the same is the sin of naturall men within the visible Church, and a greater sin; for God not only commandeth them in the Law of nature, but also in Scripture to do all these naturall acts, because God hath revealed his will in these naturall actions, as they are mo∣rall to naturall men within the visible Church, both in the Law of nature, and in the scripture, and De jure they ought to obey, because God so commandeth in both, and in regard all within the visible Church, are obliged to all naturall actions in a spirituall way, though their eating, moving, sleeping be lawfull materially, Et quod substan∣tiam actus, yet because they do them without any the least habituall reference to God, so commanding in natures Law and scripture, they are in the manner of doing, sinfull; otherwise Formalists go on with Papists and Arminians to justifie the actions of the unregene∣rated, as simply Lawfull and good, though performed by them with Page  80 no respect to God or his Commandment: 2. As concerning actions of Church-Policy, that cannot be warranted by the light of nature, and yet have intrinsecall conveniency and aptitude to edifie and de∣cently to Accomodate the worship of God. I conceive these may be done, but not because the Church so commandeth, as if their com∣mandment were the formall reason of our obedience, but because partly the light of the Law of reason, partly scripture doth warrant them; but that Crosse and Surplice can be thus warranted is utter∣ly denied: Again I conceive that there be two sort of positives in the externals of Government or worship: 1. Some Divine, as that there be in the Publique Worship, Prayers, Praising, Preaching, Sa∣craments, and these are substantials; that there be such Officers, Pastors, Teachers, Elders and Deacons; that there be such censures, as rebuking, Excommunication and the like, are morally Divine, or Divinely Morall: and when the Church formeth a Directory for worship and Government, the Directory it self is in the Form not simply Divine. And if it be said that neither the Church of the Jews, nor the Church Apostolique had more a written Directory, nor*they had a written Leiturgy or book of Common Prayers or Publick Church-service: I answer, nor had either the Iewish or Apostolick Church any written Creed or systeme, written of fundamentall Ar∣ticles, such as is that, which is commonly called the Apostolick Creed; but they had materially in the scripture the Apostolick Creed; and the Directory they had also the same way, for they practised all the Ordinances directed, though they had no written Directory in a formall contexture or frame: for Prayers, Preaching, Praising, Sacraments and Censures never Church wanted in some one order or other▪ though we cannot say that the Apostolick Church had this same very order and forme: But a Leiturgy which is a commanded, imposed, stinted Form, in such words and no other, is another thing then a Directory as an unlawfull thing is different from a Lawfull: 2. There be some things Positive humane, as the Ordering of some parts, or worship, or Prayer, the forme of words or phrases, and some things of the Circumstantials of the Sacra∣ment, as what Cups, Wood or Mettall, in these the Directory lay∣eth a tie upon no man, nor can the Church in this make a Directory to be a Church Compulsory to strain men: And this way the Di∣rectory is not ordered and commanded in the frame and contexture, Page  81 as was the Service-Book; and the Pastor or people in these, are not properly Morall Agents, nor do we presse that scripture should re∣gulate men in these. But sure in Crossing, in Surplice men must be Morall Agents, no lesse then in eating and drinking at the Lords-Supper, and therefore they ought to be as particularly regulated by Scripture in the one, as in the other.

Quest. But who shall be judge of these things which you say are Circumstantials only, as time, place, &c. and of these that Forma∣lists say are adjuncts and Circumstances of worship, though also they have a Symbolicall and Religious signification: must not the Church judge, what things are indifferent, what necessary, what are expedient, what Lawfull? Answer, There is no such question imaginable, but in the Synagogue of Antichrist; For as concerning Norma judiandi, the Rule of judging, without all exception, the scripture ought to be the only rule and measure of all practicall truths, how Formalists can make the Scripture the rule of judging of unwritten Ceremonies which have no warrant in Scrip∣ture, more then Papists can admit scripture to regulate and warrant their unwritten Traditions, I see not, we yield that the Church is the Politick, Ministeriall, and visible judge of things necessary and* expedient, or of things not necessary and expedient: But we know no such question in this Controversie, as who shall be judge: but supposing the Church to be a ministeriall judge, and the Scrip∣ture the infallible Rule, the question is, whether this judge have any such power, as to prescribe Laws touching things in∣different, and to injoyne these, though they have no warrant from Scripture, as things necessary, and to binde where God hath not bound.

Quest. But doth not the Church determine things, that of them∣selves are indifferent; as whether Sermon should begin at nine of clock, or ten in the morning, and after the Church hath past a de∣termination for the dyet of ten a clock, the indifferency of either nine or ten is removed, and the practise without any warrant of Scripture restricted to one, for order and peace sake; and why may not the like be done in Positives of Church-Government? Ans. The truth is, the Church by her will putteth no determination on the time, but only ministerially declareth that which Gods provi∣dence accomodating it self to the season, climate, the conveniency Page  28 of the congregation as they lie in distance from the place of mee∣ting, hath determined already: But neither Providence, scripture, nor naturall reason hath determined, that there should be in every Diocesan Church a Monarch-Prelate, Pastor of Pastors, with ma∣jority of power of jurisdiction and ordination over Pastors, more then there should be one Pope, Catholick Pastor of the Catholick visible Church, or that Crossing should betoken Dedication to Christs service, only will as will must determine positive Religious observances, such as these are.