A brotherly and friendly censure of the errour of a dear friend and brother in Christian affection, in an answer to his four questions lately sent abroad in print to the view of the world. Published according to order.
Walker, George, 1581?-1651.
Page  1

A brotherly and friendly Censure of the errour of a dear friend and brother in Christian affection, In an An∣swer to his foure Questions lately sent abroad in print, to the view of the world.

The Inscription.

Four serious Questions of grand Importance, concerning Excommunica∣tion and Suspension from the Sacrament; propounded to the Reverend Assembly and all Moderate Christians, to prevent Schismes, and settle Vni∣ty among us, in these divided times; by a lover both of Peace and Truth.

The Answer to the Inscription.

WHen I did first meet with this paper of foure serious questions, fleeing abroad in print into every Book-sellers shop in London, and ready upon the wing to take flight into all parts of the land; That flying toll, which appeared to the Prophet Zecharie (pre∣sently upon my viewing of the matter and scope thereof) came to my minde, which is said to be a curse going forth over the face of the whole land, Zech. 5. 3. For as that was a curse to punish, cut off and con∣sume even to the timber and stones of the houses, into which it entered: So I feared this would be a corrupting curse in the heart, house and family of every one that entertained it with approbation, and did welcome it with applause, seeing it proclaims liberty for all sinners, though openly scandalous and impe∣nitent, to come boldly to the Lords supper, and to eat and drinke their own damnation, without controll of the Pastors and Presbyters of the Church, whom Christ hath ordained to have the rule over them, and to watch for their soules, Heb. 13. 17.

And whereas the questions are by the Author professed to be serious, and of grand importance, propounded to the Reverend Assembly, for the setling of uni∣ty among us, in these divided times: First, I must professe that I am much grie∣ved, that any learned Christian brother should seriously urge such arguments▪ so weak, so fallacious, and of so little strength, to maintaine so bad a cause as this, even the opening of a wide gap to Libertinisme, and prophanation of the holy Sa∣crament of Christs body and blood, and giving this liberty to carnall and pro∣phane men, of dissolute and scandalous life, that they without repulse may in∣trude themselves among godly Communicants, to the just offence and scandall of the whole Congregation: which they may have opportunity to doe at seve∣rall times, before the sentence of Excommunication, can in a way of orderly proceeding (especially when there are appeales made to higher Consistories one after another, by obstinate and contentious offenders) come forth against them, and be put in execution.

Page  2 Secondly, I hope it will be made to appeare by this, and other Answers of more able brethren, that here is no matter of grand importance in these questi∣ons, except encouragement of men to live in scandalous sins, without feare of suspension from the Lords table, and to intrude boldly thereunto, which is a power of grand tyranny, and oppression of the Consciences of Ministers, may in any but an evil sense, be called a matter of grand importance.

Thirdly, I wish with all my heart, though now too late, that these questi∣ons, as in the title is pretended, had first been propounded to the venerable As∣sembly. For I doubt not but they then should have received such a solid and sa∣tisfactory Answer, as would have staid the publishing of them in print, and pre∣vented the infection of the mindes of the vulgar people of weak judgement, and saved us the labour of composing Antidotes against them.

Fourthly, I pity the Author, in that he hath so erred from his intended scope of these questions: for his handling and carriage of them, is so farre from pre∣venting Schismes, and setling unity among us in those divided times: that on the contrary we finde by experience to our griefe, that they worke strongly in corrupt and perverse mindes, to the breeding, and increasing of Schismes, to the disturbance of the desired reformation, in a point of greatest concernment, and to the raising up of divisions and dissensions, not onely among others, but also betwen the Parliament and Assembly, which is a strange practice, in a lover of peace and truth.

The Preface.

The businesse of Excommunication and Sequestration from the Sacrament, &c.

The Answer to the Preface before the questions.

1. The businesse appeares plainely to be of no difficulty, unlesse men will be difficult, and through their owne averseness▪ hardly perswaded to grant and e∣stablish that which Gods Word expressely holdeth forth and commendeth, and which we hope, and humbly pray, that the Honourable Houses of Parliament will be willing to doe without difficulty. You your selfe doe quote divers texts of Scripture which establish Excommunication, and you presuppose it, in this your paper severall times, where you say none is to be suspended from the Sacra∣ment but such as are excommunicated, and in your Excommunication (for which you cite Tertullian, Schoolemen, and Canonists,) you are more rigo∣rous then any Presbyterians, whom you closely intimate to be indiscreet, passio∣nate, oversevere and revengefull: which is a point of unchristian jealousy, and un∣charitable surmise. For they dare not by excommunication exclude obstinate offenders from all ordinances, but suffer them to heare the Word, though not in communion as members of the Church, but as infidels may doe; or else what hope can we have of an illiterate person excommunicated, that he will ever re∣pent and be restored? As for suspension from the Sacrament, it is a thing more easy, in it selfe, and may be done orderly with lesse labour then excommunicati∣on, and with great ease and facility, and more frequently, and with good suc∣cesse is practised in all the best reformed Churches, which also our late aboli∣shed liturgy did allow largely to all Pastors and Church-wardens: and it had Page  3 been more easy to them that were godly, and also more usuall in our Congrega∣tions, if the proud Prelates, fathers of prophanenesse, had not taken that power wholly to themselves: Which intolerable usurpation of theirs, we hope is with themselves quite taken away: but not the power from the Church, nor the law∣full exercise of it according to the rules of Christ.

Secondly, Whereas you make no medium between prophanation and scan∣dall on the one side, and Arbitrary, tyrannicall, papall domineering over the Consciences and spirituall Priviledges of Christians on the other, herein passi∣on and partiality seem to blinde you: For there is a plain open way between the two extremes, that is, the lawfull power which Christ hath given to Ecclesiasti∣call rulers, Pastors and Elders in his Church, which all godly Ministers, and all or∣thodox members of the Assembly stand, plead, and petition for, that it may be backed and confirmed to them by civill sanction, even power to prove and try who are fit, and who are unworthy to come to the Lords Table, and by admit∣ting the one, and puting back the other, after strict triall, and due proofe and examination, prophanation and scandall may easily be prevented, and Arbi∣trary, tyranicall, papall domineering over the consciences of Pastors, and godly Christian people shall have no place in Gods Church; Scandalous proud impe∣nitent sinners shall not come desperately to out-face Christ and his Ministers at his own table, nor have an action against Ministers, who out of tender conscience, and fear of God, refuse to reach to them judgement and damnation, and so to par∣take with them in the guilt of Christs body and blood; The Congregation of the godly shall not be scandalized, nor tyrannically forced either to countenance and harden the impenitent in their open wickednes▪ by communicating with them, or to separate from our Congregations, and abhor the ordinance of the Lord, as men did in old Eli's daies, when his wicked sons made them to abhor the offering of the Lord, 1 Sam. 2. 17. But on the contrary, let scandalous, obstinate sinners have liberty to intrude and come boldly to the Lords table, and the Pastors and Elders have no power to keep back from them the holy signes and scals, which belong not to them, this is more then arbitrary, tyrannicall, papall domineering over the consciences of Pastors, Elders, and godly people.

3. But here me thinks you speak very untowardly, to the great offence of all godly people, against all Christs Ministers and ecclesiasticall rulers; for in these words (If it fall into indiscreet, over-severe, ambitious, passionate, or revenge∣full hands) you either suppose that generally the hands of Ministers and Elders of Christs Church are such, and therefore they ought not to be trusted with power of Suspension and Excommunication; which if you do, your heart is not fee from malignity against their holy calling, and the Lord Christ, who hath trusted them, will finde you out. Or else your meaning is, that, as in the daies of the Papacy and Prelacy, so now it may again under Presbyteriall Church-government happen, that some of the rulers Ecclesiasticall may act with such hands. What then? Do you infer thence that all of that high calling are to be abridged of that power? A desperate inference, striking at the prerogative and power of Parliaments, and all civil Judges, and Courts of Justice. For upon the same grounds, viz. because under the Papacy, Parliaments made Laws for suppressing true religion, and establish∣ing Page  4 Idolatry and superstition, you may go about to abridge them. And under the late domineering Prelacy and tyranny, Judges wrested laws to take away the Sub∣jects birth-right and liberty, and to maintain oppression, and they made (you know whose) will and lust, law. And Lawyers soothed them, and you know when, not one (in all the bunch) could be found, nor hired to plead in the just cause of an innocent. And even then many Presbyters and Ecclesiasticall persons stood out couragiously, and feared no persecutions, bonds or losses, in the cause both of reli∣gion and justice. Why then will you not take away all power also of judging from Judges, and of pleading and expounding the Law from Lawyers, and leave all ci∣vil government in the hands of the common people? Take heed, Sir, you be not partiall and unequall to one side more then another. Aretius hath given you a very good caveat, not to strive so earnestly against this point of Christian discipline, in those words of his by you cited (impossibile praesentibus moribus colla submitte∣re ejusmodi disciplinae) which words tell us, That the corrupt manners and pro∣fane lives of men desperately bent, in these evil times, to continue in their lewd and scandalous courses, make it impossible to bring them to submit their stiff necks to this discipline of Excommunication, and Suspension from the holy Communion, which is Christs light yoke to tractable Christians. If you proceed to take part with such refractory opposers (which, I hope, your religious heart will not permit you to do) and spend your strength in so unworthy a cause, in hope by justifying these Questions, to prevail against the votes of your best friends, and most faithfull lo∣ver which you have in this world, who truly honour you, and wish all good to you: I trust in God, you shall fail of your hopes, as Aretius did in his judgement, where speaking of this discipline set up by some in the Churches of Germany, he seems to deride it in those words by you rehearsed, Cecidit in spongiam ridicu∣lus mus; For now this despised mouse is become an high mountain in all the best reformed Churches of Germany.

4. As for your addresse to the Assembly, whom you charge unjustly with fal∣ling into extreams, and indeed calumniate them, as if they seemed to affect a great lording power over the consciences and priviledges of their Christian bre∣thren, which of right belongs not unto them, usurping that to themselves, which they vehemently declaimed against, and caused to be taken quite away from the Pope and Prelates.

To this I answer, that you utterly mistake the matter. For they abhorre all af∣fectation and usurpation of lording power over the consciences of any Christians, but have condemned it in the Pope and Prelates; and their humble Petition to the Houses of Parliament is; That none may usurp lordly power, as the proud Prelates did, over them, and the people of their flock, compelling them either against their consciences, and with great offence and scandall to the godly, to ad∣mit scandalous sinners to the Lords table, and to profane the Sacrament of Christs body and blood, by giving the seals thereof to them, or else to decline the administration of that holy ordinance, and their Ministerie, chusing affliction ra∣ther then iniquity. In plain truth, this is the lordly tyrannicall power o∣ver their consciences, and the iron yoke which you in your Question seek to lay on them.

Page  5 After the Preface answered, I proceed to your Questions; The first of which is,

Quest. 1. Whether those places of Scripture, Matth. 18. 16, 17. & 1 Cor. 5. 5. 11. & 1 Tim. 1. 20. Joh. 9. 22. 32. & 12. 42. & 16. 2. &Thess. 3. 14. & 2 Joh. 10. 11. & Joh. 3. 10. & Numb. 12. 14. & Deut. 23. 1. be properly meant of Excommunication, which you take upon you to prove from Fathers, School-men and others, to be an exclusion from all ordinances, or of Suspension from the Lords Supper onely. The first you hold, and we will grant it to you. The latter you deny, and I affirm, that it is here also meant inclusively, but not only. The first place you seem to weaken and enervate, by intimating that our Saviour speaks of private personall trespasse between man and man, and not of publike scandalous sins against the Congregation, and that the censure is private not pub∣like, because it is said, Let him be (not to the whole Church and all others, but) to Thee, as an Heathen man and a Publican; and you quote, Luk. 17. 3, 4. to prove that such private trespasses must be forgiven, if seventy times seven: which no man will deny, if the trespasser repent, as often as he offends. But now sup∣pose be stand out and persist in his sin, and scorn private admonition; yea, when he is convented before the Church, he will not hear nor obey publike admonition, doe you not think that this is publike scandall against the Congegation, and de∣serves Excommunication? Surely, if it were not so, our Saviour would not have passed against it that dreadfull censure of Excommunication, saying, Let him be to Thee as an Heathen man and a Publican. And if to the private person for his private wrong, much more to all others in the Congregation, for publike contu∣macy and scandalous obstinacy in his sin against the Church. It is a dangerous doctrine to teach any private person to censure and judge a brother to be in the state of an Ethnike, and as a Publican, for a private trespasse; if for his contuma∣cie against the whole Church, and obstinacie in that sin, the sentence of Excom∣munication be not by the Church publikely given against him. Whereas you make it a branch of your Question. What warrant there is in Scripture for Mini∣sters to suspend men from the Lords Supper only, and not from the Congrega∣tion, and all other publike ordinances with it. I answer this very easily: That because Suspension from the Sacrament is a step, yea the next degree to Excom∣munication (as reason, and the practice of all the best Churches of Christ doe teach us) the Scriptures which warrant Excommunication, do also warrant it as a profitable and necessary means, either to prevent that dreadfull sentence by bringing the sinner to repent and be ashamed, or to make his impenitency more evident and notorious, and to justifie the more the Excommunication of him. But I marvell, that you should thinke it so strange and unwarrantable a thing to suspend a man from a Sacrament, who hath communion in all other ordinances of the Church, seeing it was the practice of all the ancient Church∣es to exclude the Catechumeni from Baptisme, till by catechising and hear∣ing the Word publikely preached they were better instructed. And how dare you dispute against that which is resolved in this present Parliament? To wit, That ignorant, and some scandalous persons shall not be admitted to the Lords table.

Page  6Q. Your second Question is the same which you propounded last before as a branch of the first: belike you are well pleased and affected with it, and have some thing more to say in urging it. I omit what I have answered before; and here I doe first adde, That Christian compassion, and moderation in dealing with perverse men is commended and commanded in the Scripture, 2 Tim. 2. 24▪ 25, 26. & Jude 22, 23. And this is a maine point of compassion and mode∣ration in Ecclesiasticall rulers, to try all inferiour meanes; whereof suspension from the Lords Table is one; before they proceed to the last and greatest censure of excommunication. Though the Popes and Prelats excommunications, which belike doe still runne in your minde, were brutish thunderbolts thrown out up∣on every small occasion presently, and like the fooles dagger which is out to stab, at every crosse word, and makes but a word and a blow: yet Gods Word teacheth godly wise Pastors and Presbyters more meeknesse and gravity, in proceeding to the utmost censure, that is, first to reprove, admonish and rebuke, and if those more gentle meanes doe not prevaile, then to suspend from the Sacrament; which by experience is often found to humble stubborne offenders, and bring them to repentance, and so prevent cutting off from the Congregation; And all godly Christians doe here see a double warrant of divine Authority. First, from Gods Word: secondly, from his blessing of this proceeding with good successe. This is my first answer. Secondly, to your bold assertion, That in the Old Testament we reade of no circumcised person ever debarred from the passeover by the Priests, that was desirous to eat it. I Answer, that it is as void of truth, as full of bold∣nesse: For Levit. 22. 3. & Numb 9. 5. and divers other places. Every circumci∣sed person who was legally unclean, is forbiden to eate of the passeover, or any holy thing, under pain of being cut off, and might not eat of it till he was clean∣sed and rightly prepared as appeares, 2 Chron. 30. 3 the very chapter by you quo∣ted, according to the expresse words of the law, Numb. 9. 11. And therefore much more ought baptized persons, now under the Gospell, who are manifestly un∣clean with the spirituall defilement of scandalous sin, be suspended from the more holy Sacrament of Christs body and blood, untill he be cleansed by repentance. Thirdly, to the instance of Judas whom our Saviour knew to be a devil and a traytour. I Answer first, that Judas was not admitted to the Sacrament, for Ju∣das went out before the Supper was ended, immediatly upon his receiving of the sop, Joh 13. 30. But our Saviour did not ordaine this Sacrament till after Sup∣per, Luk. 22. 20 When he had supped, 1. Cor. 11. 25. Secondly, if Judas had been admitted, it makes nothing to the matter, for Judas professed faith in Christ, and in his outward conversation appeared so unblameable, that when our Saviour told them, that one of them twelve should betray him, they did not suspect Ju∣das more then themselves, but every one asked, saying, Master, is it I? And in∣deed let a man be an hypocrite, traytor or devil inwardly, the Minister is not to judge of such secret things which belong to God, but to looke to the outward profession, life and conversation, and accordingly deal with them. Fourthly, S. Pauls admonishing of the Corinthians of the great danger of unworthy recei∣ving, namely, that it was eating damnation to themselves, and making them guilty of Christs body and blood; and thereupon enjoyning a strict examination Page  7 of every one before he eat of that bread, and drinke of that cup, doth sufficiently instruct the elders, to put back all such as did outwardly appeare to be scandalous impenitent sinners, and so most unworthy to receive the holy signes and seales of the Lords body and blood. Fifthly, To that question of yours, Whether a Mi∣nister hath not discharged his full duty and conscience, if he doth admonish his flock of the danger of unworthy receiving, and seriously dehort such as he deemes unworthy, from receiving the Sacrament, till they become more fit to partici∣pate, under paine of eating and drinking their own damnation and other judge∣ments? I answer, that this is no full discharge, neither doe those Scriptures which you quote, Ezek, 33. 1, 2, &c. Act. 20. 16. or ours and French Liturgies prove any such thing in this case. For they who suspend scandalous persons, doe also admonish all others to examine themselves, and mention the danger of un∣worthy receiving, that none unprepared may presume. It is a discharge of a Ministers duty, when he admonisheth onely of the danger of a sin, in which when it is committed, the party admonished hath onely an hand: But here the Minister is partaker of the sin, and as much guilty by giving, as the other by re∣ceiving. I pray you tell me, Sir, if you have a cup in your hand which will poyson and kill a sick distemperd man if he drinke of it, will you give it unto him if he desires it? and doe you thinke it enough to admonish him that it is dead∣ly poyson? and first dehort him from drinking of it, and then immediatly reach it to him, with intent, that he shall drinke of it? I perswade my selfe, that as he shall perish, so his blood shall be required at your hands, and that you shall as guilty hold up your hand at the barre for it.

Quest. 3. The third Question intimates that you conceive unworthy hearing of the Word to be as great, as dangerous, as damning a sin, as unworthy receiving of the Sacrament: That Ministers are no more partakers of other mens sins, not more guilty of their sins, and of giving holy things to doggs, and casting pearles before swine, by giving the Sacrament of Christs body and blood to unworthy receivers who are openly scandalous, then by preaching the Word to unprofita∣ble hearers, to whom he is the favour of death unto death. And hereupon you would inferre, that Ministers may as well refuse to preach the Word unto their people, lest it should not profit them, as they may refuse to give the Sacrament to scandalous persons, who eat their own damnation.

To this I answer▪ that there is vast difference between these two, preaching the Word to unprofitable hearers, and giving the Sacrament to persons openly scan∣dalous, impenitent and prophane receivers. First a Minister preacheth the Word to many that are unprofitable hearers, not knowing them to be such, and in hope to convert and profit them, if there be any such in the auditorie, and so also he gives the Sacrament to some unworthy receivers, unwilling∣ly, not knowing them to be such: and in such cases he is blamelesse: but if he gives the holy seales of Christs body and blood to scandalous impe∣nitent persons, he knowes that he gives them damnation to eat and drink, and he is halfe sharer with them in the sinfull act. And therefore though the sin of un∣worthy hear••• of the Word is as dangerous and damning, as unworthy re∣ceiving of the Sacrament, to the hearen and receivers: yet to the Minister in the Page  8 one, to weet, preaching without knowledge of the hurt which some receive by it, there is no fault; but in giving to the scandalous receiver he wittingly acts and partakes of the profanation of the holy ordinance.

Secondly, The Lords holy Table in the holy communion, is for the time a place of Gods more speciall presence then the common Auditory, and there we come neerer to God, and receive with the word and promises particularly applyed to us, the seales of our communion with Christ, and of our right and in∣terest in him and all his benefits. But preaching to a common Auditory, is on∣ly a generall propounding of the word and promises to all, not a particular ap∣plying of it to any, especially that hear unprofitably: for that were giving holy things to doggs: therefore there is more danger and greater sinne in admitting unworthy receivers to the Lords Table. A small errour in such an holy ordi∣nance doth provoke the Lord to wrath, who will be sanctified in them that come neere to him, as appears in Aarons two sonnes, Levit. 10. , 2, 3. & Ʋzza, 2 Sam. 6. 7.

Thirdly, Preaching the Word to such as are openly knowne to be scorners of the Gospell, and persecutours of the Preachers, and doe more rage and are harden∣ed thereby, is a prophanation of an holy thing, and a casting of pearles before swine, which our Saviour expressely forbids, Matth. 7. 6. & Matth. 10. 14. Bids his Apostles turne from such, and shake off the dust from their feet, as a testimo∣ny against them; and so Paul and Barnabas did, Act. 13. 51.

Fourthly, In preaching the Word, the Minister of Christ propounds the truth to many wicked men generally, but doth not particularly apply any word of comfort, or promise of blessing to any but profitable hearers, and upon condi∣tion of repentance: But in giving the Sacrament to known impenitent persons, he preacheth most palpable lyes against his own conscience, when he saith. The body of Christ was broken for you, and his blood wasshed for you: And therefore the points urged in this Question are very dangerous, and divers Scriptures herein quoted, are wrested and grossely perverted.

Quest. 4. The fourth Question (upon that received truth, That God only knows the secrets of mens hearts, which Ministers doe not, but mistake hypocrites for worthy receivers, and more honest simple weak men, for unfit Communicants) would inferre, That Ministers ought not to have power to judge or censure. I which reasoning; First, I finde grosse absurdity: for what can be more ridicu∣lous then to argue, that because Ministers know not secret things which belong to God, therefore they know not revealed and manifest things, as open scandalous sins, and impenitency professed in the face of the Church, and by consequent may not judge and censure them by the Word of God, which doth plainly reveal their wickednesse to them and the whole Consistory.

Secondly, Observe how the Scriptures, which forbid rash judgement concern∣ing mens estate before God, which is secret, or concerning mens last end, and the like, as Matth. 7. 1. Luk 6. 37. Rom. 14. 4. are wrested to overthrow all judg∣ing and censuring in generall, both civil and ecclesiasticall.

Thirdly, How vainly the power of God is abused, to prove that he will in the midst of a profane wicked act change notorious sinners hearts in a moment, which Page  9 if he should doe, how shall these sinners manifest their repentance in a moment to the Church, which they have offended, that they may he admitted orderly, and not rashly without just ground or satisfaction?

Fourthly, The breaking of a bruised reed, and quenching of smoking flax, is most miserably applied to the suspending of proud, refractorie, impenitent sinners from the holy Sacrament; between which two sorts of persons and actions there is as vast a difference as between heaven and hell, light and darknesse. For the bruised reed signifies men of broken heart and contrite spirit, groaning under the burden of their sins, and fleeing to Christ for ease: And smoking flax signifies such as have a weak but true faith, which like a spark in flax sheweth by smoking that there is fire, striving to break forth, and to shew light of holy life. Now how contrary these are to proud, scandalous impenitent sinners, let reasonable men judge; the first are such as the Publicans and sinners, who came to Christ repent∣ing and confessing their sins, and by him were received, cherished and com∣forted; the latter are like those trees which brought forth no good, but bad fruit, unto the root of which the axe was laid, to hew them down, and cast them into the fire. The not breaking nor quenching the first is a point of mercy, and a work of Christ; the tolerating of the other and cherishing and encouraging them in their scandalous sins, by admitting them to the holy Communion of Christs body and blood, is a point of great impiety, and a diabolicall act of profanation. Here therefore the Scriptures are dangerously abused and wrested, where scandalous, impenitent and refractory persons are confounded with humble penitent sinners, breathing after comfort and communion with Christ.

Fifthly, Here is a strange supposition, that all, bearing the name of Christians, even scandalous, impenitent sinners, are invited to the Sacrament, and are bound to come and receive it under pain of sin and contempt. I am sure the French and our Liturgies before cited doe admonish all impenitent persons to abstain, lest they eat and drink their own damnation. And the Scriptures here quoted, 1 Cor. 11. & Heb. 10. 29. do shew that unworthy wicked sinners doe by unworthy recei∣ving count the blood of the Covenant an unholy thing. Therefore to inferre that no Minister in point of conscience can refuse to give the Sacrament to such, is to conclude, quidlibet ex quolibet. But whereas it is added, that Ministers may not refuse any Christian, not actually excommunicated, the Sacrament, if he desires to receive it, in case he professe sincere repentance for sins past, and promise new∣nesse of life for the time to come: this we embrace with all our hearts, and if he obtrude on us no other but only such, we will not be so uncharitable as to judge them unworthy, neither need we fear to partake of their sin, or suspect their unworthy receiving. For our rule is to proceed with men according to that which manifestly appears, whether it be in truth or in hypocrise; if any so professing doth eat unworthily, he eats damnation to himself, not to the Ministers, who therein doe nothing against their consciences, but proceed according to the judgement of charity, and he shall bear his own burthen. The Ministers act of administration to them who professe sincere repentance, is an holy and divine in∣stitution; but to open scandalous impenitent persons, it is a manifest profanation, and they are partakers in the guilt and punishment.

Page  10 The Conclusion being the result of the former arguments, which are plainly shewed to be weak and of no strength, doth of it self fall to the ground and va∣nish. For I have shewed, that unworthy hearing and unworthy receiving are e∣qually sins in the hearers and receivers; but in the Preachers of the Word and the givers of the Sacraments it is farre otherwise: the Preacher doth onely propound the Word generally, and not falsely apply the promises of blessing and life to any particular scandalous persons, but upon condition of their beleeving repentance and obedience. If he knows any in the auditory, who are scorners of the Word, and haters and persecutours of him and his doctrine, he denounceth a curse from God against them, and desires them to keep away, and holds himself guilty of sin, if he should cast the pearl of the Gospel before such swine, when they are alone and separated from other hearers: he will not wittingly be to any the savour of death unto death. But the Minister who gives the Sacrament to open scandalous sinners in their impenitency, doth wittingly profane Gods holy ordinance, and ly∣eth against his conscience in saying that Christs body was broken, and his blood shed for them, and makes himself guilty of their blood, while he gives them wit∣tingly to eat and drink their own damnation, as is before shewed. Whatsoever power takes from Christs Ministers the lawfull and necessary liberty to exclude from the Lords table scandalous sinners openly impenitent, that is such a trans∣cendent arbitrary, unlimited power, as lordly Prelates sometimes exercised, and no lesse then tyrannie and oppression of the consciences both of Ministers and their godly people. And therefore here the Divines of the Assembly are charged most unjustly and calumniously, who have humbly desired, by way of Petition to both the honourable Houses of Parliament, that their consciences may not have this yoke of oppression laid on them, which will force them either to profane the Sacrament of Christs body and blood, by giving it to unworthy persons, or to decline their Ministery and administration of that holy ordi∣nance, chusing affliction rather then iniquity.

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