An Answer to Jus Divinum - Ministers of EnglandArticles on the 1647 Westminster Confession of Faith
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[Page 1] AN ANSWER To those QUESTIONS Propounded by the PARLIAMENT TO THE Assembly of Divines,
Touching JUS DIVINUM
In matter of Church-Government.
Wherein is clearly proved from Scripture, That the Presbyterial Government is Jure Divino, of Divine Institution, and according to the will and appointment of Jesus Christ.
Acts 14:23 When they had Ordained then Elders in every Church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
Acts 5:38,39-43 And now I say unto you, refrain from those men and let them alone, for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to naught: but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it, lest haply ye be found to fight against God. And to him they all agreed, &c.
Licensed, and Published according to Order.
London, Printed for William Ley, and are to be sold at his shop at Pauls Chain, near Doctors Commons. 1646.
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[Page 3] An Answer to those questions propounded by the Parliament to the Assembly of Divines.
Lest it should be thought presumption in any to undertake this work that are not of the Assembly, who alone were appointed for it, therefore I thought it needful to shew the Reader the Grounds and Reasons that moved me to it: First, it hath been long expected that the Assembly should give in their Answer, and because it is not, many of the Presbyterians are disheartened. Secondly, It hat caused others to condemn them, saying, The Assembly have now a Bone to pick, Thirdly, It hath caused many to turn to the Error of Erastus, witness the late Petition to the Parliament. Fourthly, I am confident God’s people will rejoice, by whomsoever this work is done. For these causes I undertook it, not doubting, but it will give satisfaction to many, and be convincing to others.
First, I shall speak a few words to the Preamble, wherein it is said to be resolved by both Houses, That persons guilty of Scandalous offences should be suspended from the Lord’ Supper, when as Christ alone is the King and Master of the Feast, and hath Church-Officers as his Deputies in the Church, whom he hat appointed to see and judge who are worthy and who are not, and to keep the Ordinances of Christ from pollution; for if any shall presume to come not having a Wedding garment, the King will say to his Servants the Ministers, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into utter darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, Matthew 22:3,12,13.; Luke 14:16,17. Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven, Matthew 18:18; John 20:23. But Magistrates are placed by Christ in his temporal Kingdom, and are called the Ordinance of man, 1 Peter 2:13, and appointed to govern the State, and also by their positive Laws they are to be as a guide to the Church, and may be instruments of much good to it, so far as their positive Laws may reach about it, but not as ruling Officers in it, as shall more fully be shown.
The first Question is, Whether the Parochial and Congregational Elderships
[Page 4] appointed by Ordinance of Parliament, or any other Congregational or Presbyterial Elderships, are Jure Divino, and by the will and appointment of Jesus Christ, and whether any particular Church Government be Jure Divino, and what that Government is?
1.Answer, it the first of these, the Parochial Congregational Eldership be understood, the Vicar or Curate, together with the Church wardens and Sidemen in the Parish, being all under the Prelatical Government, & being neither Scripture Names nor Officers, but rather Antichristian Inventions, these cannot properly be called Elderships, seeing The Officers bear not the name of Elders, these have been proved by many to be rather Antichristian then Jure Divino, and seeing The main pillars of Antichrist are tumbled down, these bearing the name, shall tumble down together with him, and I hope they need no further Answer.
The next thing considerable is, Whether any other Congregational or Presbyterial Elderships are Jure Divino, and by the will and appointment of Jesus Christ? To the first of these I Answer Negatively, that there is no such Church in Scripture as they call Independent, or Congregational Churches, and the proving of this will satisfy that their Congregational Elderships are not Jure Divino, of Divine Institution, nor their Churches, but to be demolished as the Prelatical, for who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean, not one, Job 14:4.
I prove the point by this Argument, If there be no Church in Scripture belonging peculiarly to one man, as to Peter, James, or John, and to bear his name, to be called his Church, as being peculiarly by him gathered, as they say, into a Church-way, as the Independent Churches are both named and gathered, then Independent Churches are not of Divine Institution, and if not their Churches, much less their Elderships: But there is no such Church in Scripture so gathered and so named: Ergo The Independent Church-way is of no Divine Institution, much less are their Elderships Jure Divino, or according to the will and appointment of Jesus Christ.
The major part of the Proposition I suppose all men grant, and for the ?? I shall prove, by taking a view of those Scripture Churches, which they chiefly would have to be Independent, being of the first planting; first, that hundred and twenty names, Acts 1:15 some of them have affirmed to be an Independent Church or Congregation, because, say they, that 120 names was made up both of
[Page 5] men and women, Acts 1:14. Therefore, say they, it was an Independent Church. To this I answer, Those women there mentioned were not of this company, for that were before this; and those men and women there spoken of was at prayer together, and it is very likely the cause of it was to seek the Lord for a Blessing upon this weighty business, which was the choice of another Apostle instead of Judas; for in those days it was said, That Peter stood up in the midst of the Disciples and said, The number of names together were about an hundred and twenty, and he that is Judas was numbered with us, but since he by transgression fell, let another take his Office: wherefore of those men, numbered to be an hundred and twenty together, which have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, from the Baptism of John, unto the same day that he was taken up from us, must one be Ordained to be a witness with us of his Resurrection, Verses 21,22. Hence I gather, That if the hundred and twenty names was all men, as Peter here affirms, then it was not that company that was at Prayer before a Blessing upon this weighty business in the choosing of another Apostle instead of Judas; then this was not a single Congregation, but it was the Officers were then assembled in a Presbytery, upon the choice of another Apostle.
But then some of them say, That hundred and twenty names was the Mother Church, out of which all other Christian Churches were to spring forth; therefore being the first it was Independent. I Answer: If Independent Churches must have one as their Mother, out of which all other Independent Churches ought to spring forth, then I would know which of their Churches is that Mother Church; did Mr. Burton’s Church descend out of Mr. Goodwin’s, or Mr. Locker’s Church descend out of Mr. Holm’s his Church, or which is the Mother and which the Daughters?
But it may be they will say, This Mother of Christian Churches did first Baptize them, and so leave them, not minding whether they were truly converted or not; but then after this there followed some that gathered after them non but the godly into their Congregations out of those Baptized before, and those alone were the true Churches, having the Kingly Office of Christ, and in a Church way, and not the other; and thus our Independents do here. But then where is their proof for those things? No, the contrary is the truth; for when Three thousand was converted and became Christians
[Page 6] together, and all others when they became Christians were added to the Church daily, Acts 2:47. Then if Independents should come after the Apostles to call for themselves a Church, they must first unchurch them out of that where they were placed by the Apostles, and so when they have cut them off from being Members of Christ, they will prefer them to be their Members, and then promise them great privileges, and Liberty of Conscience to live as they list??: But lest I should here make a digression, I shall now prove that the number of names there spoken of, was not an Independent Congregation consisting of men and women, but a Presbytery of Church-Officers.
First, If names in Scripture signify Church-Officers, then that hundred and twenty names were Church-Officers, but the Saints having gotten victory over the Officers of Antichrist, are said to get victory over the number of his name, Rev 14:2. And when the Officers of Antichrist shall be slain, it is said, That seven thousand names of men shall be slain, Rev. 11:13. Then the number of names here spoken of were officers in the Christian Church.
Secondly, If there may be found so many Officers then in the Christian Church, then that hundred and twenty names were Officers in it; but there was then eleven Apostles, and seventy Disciples sent out by Christ before this, and the rest of that hundred and twenty names were Teachers, which had accompanied Christ from the Baptism of John, until he was taken up, Acts 1:21. And Christ Ordained more to Preach then the Eleven and the Seventy; for saith he to another, Go thou, and Preach the Kingdom of God, Luke 9:60. Then this was not an Independent Congregation belonging to one particular man.
Thirdly, If the Disciples were then numberless, then they must needs be more then a single Congregation; but the Disciples were then numberless, for John Baptized all Judea and Jerusalem, and all round about Jordan, Matt 6:5,6 and John’s Disciples increased so fast, that the Priests and Pharisees durst not say his Baptism was of men, for fear of the people, and Herod durst not put him to death for fear of the people, Matt 14:5,21,23,26. And Christ made more Disciples then John, yea, they could not Baptize together their multitudes were so great, and the Pharisees said, Perceive you not how the world is gone after him, John 3:22,23; 4:1,11,19. And people pressed upon him to hear him Preach, and the Priests could not
[Page 7] destroy him for the people, Luke 4. Five thousand came at one time, and Seven thousand at another, besides women and children; and in the open field Zaccheus could not see Christ for the multitudes, but was forced to climb up into a Tree to see him, Luke 19:3. Then was all this but a single Congregation belonging to one man, and bearing the name of his Church.
Fourthly, If there was an Universal Officer to be chosen out of these men, and by these men, then it appears that they were all Officers before, as the seventy and the eleven, and others were, Mark 3:14 & 6:3; Luke 9:60 & 10:1. Again, if it was an Independent Church, like one of these at London, then what should they have to do in the choice of an Universal Officer, unless on Independent Church had power to chose Officers for another, which will not be granted, for that would soon destroy all their Independent Churches which must be alone, having nothing to do with any other, nor they with them as a duty, only they may do something if they please upon courtesy, and they may chose; then this was not such a one, while they chose an Officer out of themselves to serve elsewhere, and not among themselves.
Let us see another instance; Suppose our Independents shall say, That Church at Jerusalem that was persecuted and scattered abroad was an Independent church, Acts 8:1. Upon this ground, saying, They were but a small number, and single Congregation: for say they, If there had been such multitudes as I showed before, then how could they be persecuted and scattered, and by whom were they so persecuted? I Answer, That Church at Jerusalem was the Officers of the Church, and they were persecuted and scattered abroad, all but the Apostles, and this was done by the Rulers which did not believe in Christ, John 7:48, and by Saul before his conversion, he was sent by the Priests to do it, Acts 8:1 & 9:1.
And the Officers may be called a Church Representative; for the Lord said to Moses, Speak to all the Congregation; and then he spake to the Elders of the Congregation, 12:21. And Christ said, Tell the Church, which is meant, Tell the Officers of the Church, who had both the Key of Doctrine, and the Key of Discipline delivered to them before, Matt 16:18,19 & 18:17. So here the church was persecuted and scattered abroad, that is, their Officers; for if all the Disciples had been scattered abroad, what should the Apostles do behind? They could not tarry if they had none left to
[Page 8] teach, nor darest they tarry when there was none to harbor them, and who would or who darest harbor them if all the Christians had been scattered and fled? But there was Disciples still that did harbor them; yea, there was then many thousand Believers in Jerusalem, and this was pre?? After that persecution, as it were; with the same breath Saul persecuted them, and was converted as he was going to the next town, and came immediately to Jerusalem, and then there was many thousand Believers in Jerusalem, see Acts 8:1 & 9:1 compared with 21:20. Again, the Teachers were persecuted, for they traveled as far as Cyprus, and Phenice, and Antioch, Preaching the Word of God, and they were called Prophets that came from Jerusalem to Antioch, Acts 11:19 & 21:17. So then this Church was not an Independent Congregation, but the Eldership or Presbytery of Church-Officers, bearing the name of Church, they were persecuted and scattered all abroad; but the Apostles and the reason why the Apostles were not scattered as yet, was because they were more known at Jerusalem by doing of many Miracles then other Teachers, and more convinced their Adversaries then others, by their speaking all Languages, and wisdom that was given to them; yet it is clear by what hath been said, That it was not all the people, but Church-Officers that was persecuted, who are frequently called the Church, as hath been shewed: Then here is not any footing for any Independent Congregations, therefore their Eldership is not Jure Divino, nor according to the will and appointment of Jesus Christ.
Then let us take another instance; it may be they will say, That Church was an Independent Church, Acts 2:47, where it is said, The Lord added unto the Church daily such as shall be saved: For say they, This was at the first planting of it, and then they were but few, for they were with one accord all in Solomon’s Porch, Acts 5:12. But I say, The Disciples were numberless, as I have proved already; and that Church that was in Solomon’s Porch, was only the Church-Officers in a Presbytery, consulting for the good of the whole multitude of Believers; for mark the next words, The Officers being in Solomon’s Porch, the rest couldst not join with them, they being a Presbytery, advising for the good of the whole Church, only the people magnified them, see Acts 5:13. Then here we may see, That Church-Officers being together in a Presbytery, are honored by the people; but do Independents thus, when they must
[Page 9] all sit and vote with them, and instead of honoring their Church-Officers in Presbyteries and Synods, they reproach them and vilify them, and call them Antichristian Governors, much like Korah and his company; and it is a wonder if such men should die the common death of men.
But then it may be they will say, That church unto which all Christians must be added, was the invisible Church. I Answer, That is a truth, but not the true meaning of the Text; and it is plan this was the Universal visible Church; for when any was converted from false Religions to the true Religion, they were added to the Christian visible Church, as members of it; and thus the Lord added daily to the visible Church in the sight of all the people; then this Church couldn’t not be Independent, unto which all Christians were added daily; neither did any Minister gather to himself a Church, but all Ministers labored to gather Christians to the multitude, but not as our Independents do to their company from among other baptized Christians, and exclude all the rest, saying, That they are all Antichristian Idolaters, and without the Kingly Office of Christ, but his flock; Then this was not an Independent Church, but a Presbyterial Church, consisting of many Officers and much people.
Again, this was not an Independent church, for there were many Universal Officers in it; and if yet they affirm it to be an Independent Church, then I would know who had the peculiar charge of it, and who bare the name of it, & whose work alone was it to gather it, as they way, into a Church-way? Again, if the Church did belong to one man, as to Peter, James, or John, then why must all Christians be added to Peter’s Church, or James’s Church, or John’s Church, or else be damned? Must Mr. Goodwin’s Members be added to Mr. Burton’s Church, or else be damned? Must Mr. Goodwin’s Members be added to Mr. Burton’s Church, or Mr. Locker’s Members be added to Mr. Holm’s his Church, or be damned? Then in my judgment it were good to join Churches together betimes, by Presbyteries and Synods before it be too late: I say, let us join all the visible Congregations in the Kingdom together, and all to the Universal visible Church, and as our duty seek the welfare of each other; and this will soon split all Independent Churches, who are descended from that reprobate who said, Am I my Brother’s keeper. These men are like the Inhabitants of Laish, a people that dwelt careless & secure, having no Magistrate in the Land to rule them or to put them to shame, and
[Page 10] they had no business: with any man, Judges 18:7. But let all faithful Christians say with Paul, The care of all the Churches lies upon me, and rejoice to hear the welfare of the Church in all places of the world, and grieve to hear that the walls of Jerusalem are broken down; and if need require, with the Church of Macedonia, send relief to them in Judea, and abhor to say, We are Independents, we have no relation to them, nor they to us, let them sink or swim, we owe them no duty, well we may counsel them, and yet we may choose, and they also may choose whether they will take it: Now let all judicious Christians but judge, and speak their conscience, Whether Presbyterial or Independent Church Government is most agreeing to the Primitive Church, and be not careless, but helpful one to another,; for all those that are united to Christ, are also united one to another, and so have relation one to another, and stand in need of the help of each other: Then I conclude, That Congregational Presbyterial Eldership is not according to the Word, nor the Primitive Church, and therefore not Jure Divino. I might here speak of the Churches of Corinth, Galatia, Philippi, and Ephesus, which were all governed by Presbyteries, and were none of them Independent, belonging to one man, bearing his name, and gathered by him, and he alone charged with it: But this may suffice.
The next thing in the first Question to be proved, is, whether any particular Church Government be Jure Divino, and what is that Government?
I shall answer this by dividing the Officers in the Church from the Officers in the State, and bounding them in their place and station where Christ hath set them, and to prove, That the one hath a Divine Right of Government from Christ in the State, and not in the Church; and the other hath a Divine Right of Government in the Church, but not in the State: I prove it thus, Christ hath two Kingdoms, the one Temporal, and the other Spiritual: In the first he rules over the Kingdoms of men, as Daniel saith, He is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, Rev 19:16. He saith, By me Kings Reign, Prov 18:15. Kings are his Deputies on Earth in this Temporal Kingdom, to Rule over the State, and outward affairs of men; and also in relation to the Church, they may be as a guard about it, to defend it by the power of their Positive Laws; and also they may be for much good unto it, for saith the Lord, Cyrus is
[Page 11] my Shepherd, Isa 44 both to provide and care for the Church, and defend it as a Shepherd doth his flock; Kings shall minister unto it, Isa 60:10 But Cyrus was not place in the Church, he was no member of it, for he was a Heathen King, yet he had the full power of a King in relation to the Church; and a King’s being a Christian ads nothing to him in point of Government in the Church, only his own benefit as a Christian to enjoy the privileges of it among other Christians, when as Cyrus had not this benefit being a Heathen: So then his power is not in the church, but about it, he may be the Laws of the Land command obedience to the Church, and by those Laws punish the disobedient, yet not as an officer of the Church.
But then Christ hath another Kingdom, and that is Spiritual; he saith, My Kingdom is not of this world, and they that worship him must worship him in Spirit and Truth, the Father seeketh such to worship him, John 4:23,24 & 18:36. For this Kingdom he hath Church officers to govern it, every member hath not the same Office, Rom 12:4. The Office of a Bishop is a good work, 1 Tim 3:1. These Christ hath place in the Church, 1 Cor. 12:28. Aaron and his Sons shall wait on the Priest’s Office, Numb 3:10. In this Kingdom the Ministers are his Shepherds, and all sorts of men their flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made them overseers, Acts 20:28. And they are charged to feed their flock, and to care for it, and saith Paul, The care of all the Churches lies upon me; he was no Independent, they became Independents that said, What portion have we in David? See to thine own house. David: to your Tents O Israel. So they departed to their Tents, 1 King.12:16. But I say, Church-Officers are placed by Christ in the Spiritual Kingdom the Church, as Kings and Magistrates are placed by him in the State, and not to stand there like ciphers to fill the place for no use, but to rule in it as the other do in the State, yet with this difference, Princes and Magistrates have power to make those Laws by which they Rule the State; for saith Daniel, The Lord hath given thee a Kingdom, Dan. 2:37. And they consulted to establish a Royal Statute, Dan.6:7. He hath given the Earth to the Children of men, Psal.115:16. but the church was never so given to any, no not to her Officers and Rulers, they must not make Laws for it, nor repeal any that are made, There is one Law-giver, who is able to save and to destroy, Jam.4:12. The Law of the church is unalterable, like that of the Medes
[Page 12] and Persians, Not one tittle of the Law shall fail, Mat.5. Their King is eternal, and with them to the end of the world, Mat.28:20. And of his Kingdom there shall be no end, Luke 1:33. But Kings and Magistrate are placed by Christ in the Temporal Kingdom, there indeed they rule with Power and Authority, but they may not rule so in the other Kingdom, the Church of Christ, for these Reasons:
First, If Kings and Magistrates should rule in the Church, as Emperors rule the State, this were to dethrone Christ, who along is placed and set by the Lord his King upon the holy hill of Zion, Psal2:6. And what affront is done to his Officers in the Church, he takes as done to himself; and no man ought to usurp the Authority of Church Officers, any more then Church Officers ought to usurp the Office of Magistrates, for both must keep their place where Christ hath set them.
Secondly, If Magistrates should rule in the Church, as Officers in it, this would confound the Spiritual Kingdom of Christ, with the Kingdoms of men, when as Christ hath plainly divided them, Dan.2; John18:36 both by precept and example, commanding and also giving to God the things of God, and to Cesar the things of Cesar, Mat.22:21.
Thirdly, If State-Officers and Church-Officers were the same, and he that hath one hath both, then it would follow, That Christ and his Apostles both did and taught rebellion in all places where they came, when the set up Elders or Church Officers in every Church, Acts 14:23. And when Christ expounded the Law in his own name, Mat.5. But this were Blasphemy to affirm; for the Government of the Church of Christ is Spiritual, and allowed by Princes and Magistrates wherever they came, for they know that it did not entrench upon their Authority.
Fourthly, Church Officers have God’s Law for their rule, but Magistrates have the Laws of the Commonwealth for their rule; then they must keep their places, the one to rule in the church Ministerially, because Christ their King is with them, Mat.28.20 and the other in the State with Majesty and Authority, because the God of Heaven hath given them a Kingdom, power and glory, Dan.2:37
Fifthly, Many Kings and Magistrates are not so much as Members of the Church, but rather Enemies of it; and if they were Members, yet they were unworthy of that place, to rule in the Church, unless they were well skilled in Divinity to rule in Religiously; but this were Treason to affirm.
[Page 13] Sixthly, If Kings and Magistrates had power in the Church by vertue of their place, then they might obtain this power by War, or by Usurpation, or Purchase, or by Inheritance, and so women would rule in the Church, that are not permitted to speak in it, 1 Cor.14:34 and children should rule in the Church, when as a Bishop must not be a Novice or a young Scholler, 1Tim.3 and the meanest Officer in the Church must first be proved, before they be admitted, Vers.6.10.
Lastly, If Magistrates power were in the Church, they must either have this power from being a Magistrate, or from being a Christian; but if from being a Magistrate, then all Magistrates and Princes must have the like power to rule the Church, as well as they, or else they are not perfect Magistrates or Princes; and if they should have power to rule in the Church, because they are Christians, then all other Christians may rule in the Church as well as they, for all are on in Christ, Gal.3:28; Col.2:11.
Then church Officers, together with their Names and Officers, are to be created nor appointed by the Parliament as their creatures, when as themselves are not Church Officers; and if they were, yet they have no power to give Titles, Names, Offices or Officers in the Church, for that is peculiar to Jesus Christ the King of his Church, Eph.4.11 and from him all Church Officers have both their Names and Offices immediately, and therefore Church-Officers are Jure Divino, and that for these Reasons:
First, If Church-Officers are placed by Christ in the church, then they are not of Human Institution, but of Divine Right; but Christ hath set some in the Church Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, helps or Deacons, 1 Cor.12:28 then they being so placed by Christ in the Church, they are Jure Divino.
Secondly, If it was both the Apostle’s command, and also their practice to set up Elders in every church, then Elders are Jure Divino, of Divine Institution; but Paul left Titus in Crete, to set in order things that were wanting, and to Ordain Elders in every city as he hat appointed, Tit.1:5. And these were not Magistrates, for such were before in every city; but these were then wanting which Paul from Christ appointed Titus to Ordain in every city; neither were the Ministers to Ordain and set up Magistrates, and yet by their own practice they did Ordain Elders in every Church, Acts 14:23 then they are not of Humane, but of Divine Institution.
[Page 14] Thirdly, If both the key of Doctrine, and of Discipline were given to Church Officers by Jesus Christ, then they alone have a Divine Right to use them; but the keys were not given to the whole Church, but to the Officers, for saith Christ to Peter, To thee will I give the Keys, Mat.16:19. And whatsoever the Church-Officers shall bind on Earth shall be bound in Heaven; and what they loose on Earth shall be loosed in Heaven, Chap. 18.v.17,18. And what sins ye remit shall be remitted, and what sins ye retain shall be retained, John 20:23. Then they alone have a Divine Right to use them.
Fourthly, If Christ commanded the church to obey those that have the rule over them, in the Church, and not in the State, then such only are to rule in the Church: But saith Paul, Obey them who also have spoken unto you the Word of God, & they that watch for your souls, as they that must give an account; neither must all the Saints rule in the Church, for saith Paul, Salute them that have the rule over you, and all the Saints, Heb.13:17,24 then they are of Divine Institution, and must rule in the Church, and take care for it as for their own house, 1 Tim.3:4,5.
5.If the Christian Church had those Officers placed in it by Christ and his Apostles before they had any Magistrates, or any humane Laws in it, then they are of Divine Institution, and no Magistrates ought to take that from them which Christ gave them before they had any Magistrates in the Christians Church; but they chose and ordained Elders in every Church before they had any Magistrates, Acts 14:23 then they are not of Humane, but of Divine Institution.
Sixthly, This Discipline was in the hand of Church-Officers, if they only were blamed if it was neglected: But the Lord said to Church-Officers, I have something against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel to teach, and to seduce my servants, and others were blamed, because there was some among them that held the Doctrine of Balaam, Rev.2:14,20. Then here it is plain that both the Key of Doctrine, and the Key of Discipline are in the hand of Church Officers by Divine Institution.
Seventhly, If this Discipline was ever in the hand of Church-Officers, it ought to be so still: But, saith Paul, I have delivered Hymeneus and Alexander to Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme, 1 Tim.1:20 and concerning the Incestuous person he saith,
[Page 15] I have judged already, and do not ye judge these that are within, cast out therefore that wicked person, 1 Cor.5:3,12,13. And if any say that all must judge from this Text: I Answer, All are to refer it to the Presbytery, but sufficient is that punishment that was inflicted by many, not by all, 2 Cor.2:6. Christ gave his life a ransom for many, not for all, Mat.20:28. Again, saith Paul, a Church-Officer, He that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whoever he be, Gal.5:10. Then this may suffice to answer the first Question, That the Presbyterial Elderships are Jure Divino: yet if any be not fully satisfied, I shall yet make it more clearly appear by answering a question, thus,
Suppose there should be any disturbance in the Church assembled for the public Worship of God, by some Drunkard or madman, or any Heretic, either by Sporting, or by Railing, or Seducing, or any abominable action: where lies the power to suppress it? It is in the Magistrates, or in Church-Officers? I answer, It is in the hand or power of Church-Officers, first, because they were charged to keep the door, that there may be no such occasion of disturbance in the midst of Divine Worship, 2 Chron.26:12,19.
Secondly, this power was in the hand of Church-Officers; for when Uzziah the King would needs burn Incense, the valiant Priests bade him go out of the Sanctuary, and cut him off from the house of the Lord: Neither was this because he was leprous, but because he offered incense; and as they were thrusting him out, his leprosy appeared, 2 Chron.26:17,18,21 and when they were weeping publicly for the abominable whoredom with the daughters of Moab, there was such an action committed in the assembly in the sight of Moses, mark that, yet Phenehas the Priest executed justice, and the wrath of the Lord was pacified, Num.25. And when Eli’s Sons lay with the women when they assembled at the Tabernacle door, and he did not refrain them, the Lord slew all his whole house, and that sin could never be purged with Sacrifice, 1 Sam.2:22 and 3:13,14. Then if the Lord was so well pleased with Phineas the Priest for his justice, and so offended with Eli the Priest for neglecting of it, when committed in the congregation, then the power to suppress such abominations committed in the assembly, is in the hand of Church-Officers. Again, when there was buying and selling in the Church, Christ drave them out, because the Lord said, My house shall be called the house of Prayer.
Thirdly, when Israel committed Idolatry not only in private,
[Page 16] but in the Assembly, the Lord caused Moses to call out those that were on his side, and sheath their Swords in those Idolaters, and the Levites came forth and did so, and the Lord for that very action put them into the Ministry: Then it is plain, the Lord would have the Church Discipline in the hand of Church-Officers, they must keep the Ordinances of Christ from pollution: and those that do not rule well their own house, are not fit to take care or the Church of God, 1 Tim.3:5 as if he should say, That man that is negligent to use Family-Discipline, is not fit to be made a Church-Officer, lest he neglect the Church Discipline; yet all this hinders not, but that Magistrates may punish all manner of wickedness in the State, if their Positive Laws will reach it, but not else; yet I say, Church-Officers are charged to keep the Ordinances of Christ from pollution, and for that end they are placed by him in the Church by Divine Institution.
The Parliaments second Question is Whether all the Members of the said Elderships, as Members thereof, or which of them are Jure Divino, and by the will and appointment of Jesus Christ?
I answer, as before, The Independent Elderships are not of Divine Institution, because their Congregations are not; but all the Members of every Presbytery or Eldership, they have this Discipline committed unto them, for what was said to Peter was said to all the Ministry, Mat.16; Joh.20.23. Then I conclude that all the Members in the Presbytery, so called by Paul, 1 Tim.4:14. The state of Elders, Acts 22:5, And it is called, The Assembly of the Elders, Psa.107:32. Therefore they are all Jure Divino, by the will and appointment of Jesus Christ.
But it may be some Independent will ask, Why their Congregation belonging to one man is not of Divine Institution, as well as a Presbyterial Congregation belonging to one man? I answer, There is this difference: The Presbyterial Congregation is a part of the Universal visible Church, as a branch of it, which is descended from the first Christian Church, although it passed under Antichrist, and so was defiled; yet still God had his Church amongst Papists, and at the length brought it out of Babylon by Luther and others; and our Ministers are descended from the Apostles, whom Christ Ordained to Preach, Mark 3:14. And they were sent into all Nations to convert men to the Christian Faith, and they also Ordained Elders in every Church, in every City or Town, Acts 14:23. And after them
[Page 17]they left others in their place to do it, Tit.1:5. And thus Church Officers were Ordained by them of their own calling successively ever since, although they passed under Antichrist till Luther renounced them, and by him and others was brought out what they had from Christ, and left what was of their own Invention, and he caused them to protest against Babylon, and so they were first called Protestants: And then in Calvin’s time they made a Covenant to set up the true Discipline of Jesus Christ; and we in this Kingdom have done the like, both by a Protestation against Popery, and a Covenant to set up the Discipline of Jesus Christ; therefore our Congregations are of Divine Institution; but Independent Congregations original descent is but from themselves, and that within this few years to our knowledge Tradesmen have gathered many Churches; but who sent those Tradesmen to Preach? And how can they Preach unless they be sent, Rom.10:14,15. By what Authority do they Preach, and who gave them that Authority? Christ taught as one having Authority, Mat.21:23,24. & 7:29. Then Independent Congregations are not of Divine Institution.
But they will say, That our Parishes remain still as they did under Antichrist. I answer, Parishes were divided for better convenience of Public Worship before Antichrist was in being, when the Apostles gave order to set up Elders in every city, Tit.1:5 and they were bounded within a Sabbath day’s Journey for Public Worship, Acts 1:12. And now Prelats cast out, our Parishes remain in that first Institution, for those Elders were bounded to that town or city where thy were set up; but Independent Congregations are boundless, their Members thirty or forty miles asunder, that they cannot congregate together; therefore they are not of Divine Institution.
The Parliaments third question is, Whether the Supreme Assemblies or Elderships, viz. The Classical, Provincial and National; Whether all, or any of them, and which of them are Jure Divino, and by the appointment of Jesus Christ? Their fourth question is, Whether appeals from Congregational Elderships to the Classical, Provincial and National Assemblies, or National Assemblies, or to any of them, and to which of them are Jure Divino, and by the will and appointment of Jesus Christ; And are their Powers upon such Appeals Jure Divino, and by the will and appointment of Jesus Christ? Their fifth question is, Whether Ecumenical Assemblies are Jure Divino; And whether there by Appeals from any of the former Assemblies to the said Ecumenical Jure Divino, and by the will and appointment of Jesus Christ?
Now the substance contained in these three questions is this; First, Whether Classical, Provincial, National or Ecumenical Elderships or Assemblies be Jure Divino? Secondly, Whether Appeals from Congregational Elderships to Classical, Provincial and National Assemblies are Jure Divino, or which or them, or any of the to Ecumenical be Jure Divino; and are their Powers upon such Appeals Jure Divino, by the will and appointment of Jesus Christ?
To the first of these I have sufficiently proved, That the Assembly of Elders and Presbytery are Scripture Names, Pasl.107:32; 1 Tim.4:14. And these I have shewed, that they are frequently called the Church, because they do represent it: And not I shall prove, That Appeals from the lesser Elderships to the greater, is according to the Word of God, and that their power is of Divine Right, to suppress Error and profaneness, in case the Magistrate will
[Page 18]not by his Positive Laws, or to cast them out of the Church, rather then the Ordinances of Christ should be polluted: I prove it thus, If there was Assemblies of Church Officers in the Christian Church, who met together for this aid, then they ought to do so still; and if there was Appeals from the lesser of these Assemblies to the greater in the Primitive Church, it ought to be so still; and if those Assemblies had power to make Decrees, and pass Sentence, and to bind several Churches to obey them, it ought to be so still, for we and all Christians pretend to be under the same Discipline of Christ as they were; but some in the Christians Church at Antioch would still observe Jewish Ceremonies, and they had no small Disputation about it, and yet could not suppress it being parties; therefore they determined to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, not to a single Congregation for advice and council, but to the Assembly of Apostles and Elders who came together to consider of that matter, Acts 15:1,2,6. And I think there was but two Apostles there, and so there was at Antioch, only they were parties, and so they were not at Jerusalem: But some will say, What if they will not come to the Assembly or Eldership, how then can they suppress Error or Profaneness? I answer, The Magistrate must by his Positive Laws command obedience to the Church; and in case they will not obey the Magistrate, he must punish them by his Positive Laws; but in case the Magistrate will not do it, then the Church-Officers have power to cast them out, to keep the Ordinances of Christ from pollution: So then if the Magistrate do his part, and Assemblies of Church-Officers also do theirs, this will sweetly settle peace among the Churches; and this is according to the Word of Christ, and therefore of Divine Institution: And for the Names of those Assemblies, let them be called by any names of distinction, and it sufficeth; I hope we shall not contend about Names, but rather labor for peace and a sweet enjoyment of all the mercies of God both in Church and State.
The sixth Question is this, Whether by the Word of God, the power of Judging and declaring what are such Notorious and Scandalous Offences, for which persons guilty thereof are to be kept from the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, and of Conventing before them, trying and actual suspending from the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper such Offenders accordingly, is either in the Congregational Eldership or Presbytery, or in any other Eldership, Congregation or Persons? And whether such powers are in them only, or nay of them, and in which of them Jure Divino, and by the will and appointment of Jesus Christ?
I answer to the first part of this question, That Church Officers by the perfect rule of God’s Word, have power to judge and declare what sins are Scandalous, for which those that are guilty are to be punished by the Magistrate; but in case he will not do his duty, then for the same, Church-Officers have power to cast them out of the Church, to keep the Ordinances of Christ from pollution; some of them Paul mentions before his Institution of the Lord’s Supper, 1 Cor.11 such as these, as, Drunkenness, Heresy, Divisions, and Contentions, and men wearing long hair, and women with the hair out or uncovered, all these must be Reformed, for these are Scandalous; and then there are inwards sins, as, Ignorance, not discerning the Lord’s body; but the communicants must examine themselves of this, and so let them Eat, they are
[Page 19]not to be cast out for Ignorance, all did eat the Passover, and all them in the Primitive Church did receive the Supper, Acts 2:46 & 20:7. Neither do I find any such thing in Scripture, as suspension from one Ordinance when the freely enjoy all the rest: Neither do I find such trying and conventing, as in civil Courts, they are not to cast out for private sins; when a private trespass was brought to the Church Officers, Matth.18:17 they could not cast him out, but said to the Plaintiff, Let him be to thee as a Heathen or a Publican, that is, Do thou keep no company with him: Church-Officers must say as the Lord did, I have not found it by secret search, Jer.2:34. But when they declare their sin, as Sodom, and hide it not, Isa.3:9. As Eli’s Sons did, to make the offerings of the Lord to be abhorred, 2 Sam.22:17. And when Phineas the Priest slew Zimry and Cozbi, Numb 25. And when Uzziah was cast out of the House of the Lord, 2 Chron.26:21, And Christ whip them out of the Temple; all these need no witness, but were cast out, all but Eli’s Sons, and because Eli the Priest did not do it to his Sons, the Lord utterly cut off Eli’s house.
The next thing in this question is, In whose hand is this Power? To this I have answered, In the hand of the Presbytery or Church Officers: If the person be Scandalous to many Congregations, the greater Presbytery is to cast him out; but if in some Country town there be but one Church, and the parties haunt be no further, I suppose they may cast him out of their Church, and not to suffer him to abuse the Ordinances of Christ; but no other hath this power, neither Independent Congregations nor Prelats; for Presbyterial Church-Officers are only Jure Divino, and by the will and appointment of Jesus Christ.
The seventh question is, Whether there be any certain and particular Rules expressed in the Word of God, to direct the Elderships or Presbyteries, Congregations or Persons, or any of them, in the Exercise and Execution of the Powers aforesaid, and what are those Rules?
I answer, Paul saith in the Name of all Church-Officers, We will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, 2 Cor.10:13. Then here all may see that they have a Rule, and he saith, Let us walk by the same rule, Phil.3:16. Now by this Rule Paul judged, though absent, that the Incestuous person should be cast out, and by the same Rule the Church-Officers of Corinth cast him out, 1 Cor.5:3,12,13. And if any shall say he spake to all in the Church: I answer, It was to give their consent, but that punishment was to be inflicted by many, but not by all; see the same man cast out, 2 Cor.2:6. And he cast out Hymeneus and Philetus for blasphemy; yet I suppose there was others with him, though he passed the sentence, 1 Tim.1:20. And saith Paul, He that troubleth you with the leaven of Heresy, shall bear his judgment whoever he be, and I have confidence in you through the Lord Jesus, that you will be none otherwise minded, but give our consent: I would they were cut off that trouble you, Gal.5:9,10,11,12.
The eighth question is this, Is there any thing contained in the Word of God, that the Supreme Magistracy in a Christian State may not judge and determine what are the aforesaid Notorious and Scandalous Offences, and the manner of Suspension for the same; and in what particulars concerning the Premises is the said Supreme Magistracy by the Word of Cod, excluded?
[Page 20]I answer, The Supreme Magistracy is to judge and determine of the same sins by the Positive Laws of the Land, and punish the Offenders according to those Laws, in the Temporal Kingdom of Christ; but he may not judge and determine of them in the Church, about casting out by Excommunication, that is, the Spiritual Kingdom of Christ, and his Church Officers are Spiritual Officers, and therein State Officers are excluded, as I shewed before.
The ninth question is, Whether the provision of Commissioners to judge of Scandals not enumerated, as they are Authorized by the Ordinance of Parliament, be contrary to that way of Government which Christ hath appointed in his Church, and wherein they are so contrary?
I answer, That Christ alone is to give both Offices and Officers, and also their names; but Christ never gave any such for his Church of Commissioners, neither must Parliaments create any Names, or Offices or Officers, as their creatures, to be set up, and appointed their work in the Church, it is a great affront to Christ the King of the Church to do it: It is observable, David saith, Christ received gifts for men, Psal.68:18. And then Paul saith, He gave gifts to me, Eph.4:11. So then Christ as Mediator received those gifts of his Father, and then gave them to his Church; but there is but one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, 1 Tim.2:5. Then there was none but he that received those gifts for the Church; and therefore no other can give them. Again, the Authority of the Parliament will not bear them out, when Christ will disclaim them as Usurpers, whom he never placed in the Church: And what profit or blessing to the Church can be expected from those that Christ never sent nor placed in the Church. Again, the Parliament that sent them, are themselves placed by Christ in his Temporal Kingdom, the State or Common-wealth, to govern that, and place Officers in it; but they may not Ordain Church-Officers, that must be done by Church-Officers, and that successively from Christ, who first Ordained the Twelve, and then the Seventy; and then the Twelve being sent to all Nations after his death, they did Ordain Elders in every Church, Acts 14:23. And then they left others to Ordain Elders Successively: Saith Paul, I left thee to Ordain Elders in every Church, Tit.1:5. And so it hath been by them successively to this day: Then I conclude, That for State-Officers either to Ordain Elders, which ought to be in the Church, or to create new Officers in the Church, is contrary to that way of Government which Christ hath appointed in his Church, and I have shewed wherein it is so contrary.
The tenth and last is only a persuasion that those of the Assembly would set down their Names, together with their Votes, whether Affirmative or Negative to those former particulars, and the clear Texts of Scripture on which their Opinions are grounded: Now none but the last concerns me, which I have done; and if the Lord be pleased to set it home to the soul, it may be conviction and satisfaction to it.