The Project Gutenberg eBook of A Christian Directory, Part 3: Christian Ecclesiastics

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Title: A Christian Directory, Part 3: Christian Ecclesiastics

Author: Richard Baxter

Release date: January 13, 2014 [eBook #44655]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Colin Bell, Chris Pinfield, CCEL and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at





Table of Contents

To the reader. 547
I. Of the worship of God in general. 547
II. Directions about the manner of worship, to avoid all corruptions, and false, unacceptable worshipping of God. 553
III. Directions about the christian covenant with God, and baptism. 559
IV. Directions about the profession of our religion to others. 562
V. Directions about vows and particular covenants with God. 564
VI. Directions to the people concerning their internal and private duty to their pastors, and the improvement of their ministerial office and gifts. 581
VII. Directions for the discovery of the truth among contenders, and the escape of heresy and deceit. 590
VIII. Directions for the union and communion of saints, and the avoiding unpeaceableness and schism. 595
IX. How to behave ourselves in the public assemblies, and the worship there performed, and after them. 616
X. Directions about our communion with holy souls departed, and now with Christ. 618
XI. Directions about our communion with the holy angels. 622
To the Reader. 626
Questions I to CLXXIV. 626



That this part and the next are imperfect, and so much only is written as I might, and not as I would, I need not excuse to thee if thou know me, and where and when I live. But some of that which is wanting, if thou desire, thou mayst find, 1. In my "Universal Concord." 2. In my "Christian Concord." 3. In our "Agreement for Catechising," and my "Reformed Pastor." 4. In the "Reformed Liturgy," offered to the commissioned bishops at the Savoy. Farewell.



That God is to be worshipped solemnly by man, is confessed by all that acknowledge that there is a God.[1] But about the matter and manner of his worship, there are no small dissensions and contentions in the world. I am not now attempting a reconciliation of these contenders; the sickness of men's minds and wills doth make that impossible to any but God, which else were not only possible, but easy, the terms of reconciliation being in themselves so plain and obvious as they are. But it is directions to those that are willing to worship God aright, which I am now to give.

Direct. I. Understand what it is to worship God aright, lest you offer him vanity and sin for worship. The worshipping of God is the direct acknowledging of his being and perfections to his honour. Indirectly or consequentially he is acknowledged in every obediential act by those that truly obey and serve him; and this is indirectly and participatively to worship him; and therefore all things are holy to the holy, because they are holy in the use of all, and Holiness to the Lord is, as it were, written upon all that they possess or do (as they are holy): but this is not the worship which we are here to speak of; but that which is primarily and directly done to glorify him by the acknowledgment of his excellencies. Thus God is worshipped either inwardly by the soul alone, or also outwardly by the body expressing the worship of the soul. For that which is done by the body alone, without the concurrence of the heart, is not true worship, but a hypocritical image or show of it, equivocally called worship.[2] The inward worship of the heart alone, I have spoken of in the former part. The outward or expressive worship, is simple or mixed: simple when we only intend God's worship immediately in the action; and this is found chiefly in praises and thanksgiving, which therefore are the most pure and simple sort of expressive worship. Mixed worship is that in which we join some other intention, for our own {548} benefit in the action; as in prayer, where we worship God by seeking to him for mercy; and in reverent hearing or reading of his word, where we worship him by a holy attendance upon his instructions and commands; and in his sacraments, where we worship him by receiving and acknowledging his benefits to our souls; and in oblations, where we have respect also to the use of the thing offered; and in holy vows and oaths, in which we acknowledge him our Lord and Judge. All these are acts of divine worship, though mixed with other uses.

It is not only worshipping God, when our acknowledgments (by word or deed) are directed immediately to himself; but also when we direct our speech to others, if his praises be the subject of them, and they are intended directly to his honour: such are many of David's psalms of praise. But where God's honour is not the thing directly intended, it is no direct worshipping of God, though all the same words be spoken as by others.

Direct. II. Understand the true ends and reasons of our worshipping God; lest you be deceived by the impious who take it to be all in vain. When they have imagined some false reasons to themselves, they judge it vain to worship God, because those reasons of it are vain. And he that understandeth not the true reasons why he should worship God, will not truly worship him, but be profane in neglecting it, or hypocritical in dissembling, and heartless in performing it. The reasons then are such as these.

1. The first ariseth from the use of all the world, and the nature of the rational creature in special. The whole world is made and upheld to be expressive and participative of the image and benefits of God. God is most perfect and blessed in himself, and needeth not the world to add to his felicity. But he made it to please his blessed will, as a communicative good, by communication and appearance; that he might have creatures to know him, and to be happy in his light; and those creatures might have a fit representation or revelation of him that they might know him. And man is specially endowed with reason and utterance, that he might know his Creator appearing in his works, and might communicate this knowledge, and express that glory of his Maker with his tongue, which the inferior creatures express to him in their being.[3] So that if God were not to be worshipped, the end of man's faculties, and of all the creation, must be much frustrated. Man's reason is given him that he may know his Maker; his will, and affections, and executive powers are given him, that he may freely love him and obey him; and his tongue is given him principally to acknowledge him and praise him: whom should God's work be serviceable to, but to him that made it?

2. As it is the natural use, so it is the highest honour of the creature to worship and honour his Creator: is there a nobler or more excellent object for our thoughts, affections, or expressions? And nature, which desireth its own perfection, forbiddeth us to choose a sordid, vile, dishonourable work, and to neglect the highest and most honourable.

3. The right worshipping of God doth powerfully tend to make us in our measure like him, and so to sanctify and raise the soul, and to heal it of its sinful distempers and imperfections. What can make us good so effectually as our knowledge, and love, and communion with him that is the chiefest good? Nay, what is goodness itself in the creature if this be not? As nearness to the sun giveth light and heat, so nearness to God is the way to make us wise and good; for the contemplation of his perfections is the means to make us like him. The worshippers of God do not exercise their bare understandings upon him in barren speculations; but they exercise all their affections towards him, and all the faculties of their souls, in the most practical and serious manner, and therefore are likeliest to have the liveliest impressions of God upon their hearts; and hence it is that the true worshippers of God are really the wisest and the best of men, when many that at a distance are employed in mere speculations about his works and him, remain almost as vain and wicked as before, and professing themselves wise, are (practically) fools, Rom. i. 21, 22.

4. The right worshipping of God, by bringing the heart into a cleansed, holy, and obedient frame, doth prepare it to command the body, and make us upright and regular in all the actions of our lives; for the fruit will be like the tree; and as men are, so will they do. He that honoureth not his God, is not like well to honour his parents or his king: he that is not moved to it by his regard to God, is never like to be universally and constantly just and faithful unto men. Experience telleth us that it is the truest worshippers of God that are truest and most conscionable in their dealings with their neighbours: this windeth up the spring, and ordereth and strengtheneth all the causes of a good conversation.

5. The right worshipping of God is the highest and most rational delight of man. Though to a sick, corrupted soul it be unpleasant, as food to a sick stomach, yet to a wise and holy soul there is nothing so solidly and durably contentful. As it is God's damning sentence on the wicked, to say, "Depart from me," Matt. xxv. 41; vii. 23, so holy souls would lose their joys, and take themselves to be undone, if God should bid them, "Depart from me; worship me, and love me, and praise me no more." They would be weary of the world, were it not for God in the world; and weary of their lives, if God were not their life.

6. The right worshipping of God prepareth us for heaven, where we are to behold him, and love and worship him for ever. God bringeth not unprepared souls to heaven: this life is the time that is purposely given us for our preparation; as the apprenticeship is the time to learn your trades. Heaven is a place of action and fruition, of perfect knowledge, love, and praise: and the souls that will enjoy and praise God there, must be disposed to it here; and therefore they must be much employed in his worship.

7. And as it is in all these respects necessary as a means, so God hath made it necessary by his command.[4] He hath made it our duty to worship him constantly; and he knoweth the reason of his own commands. "It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve," Matt. iv. 10. If God should command us nothing, how is he our Governor and our God? and if he command us any thing, what should he command us more fitly than to worship him? and he that will not obey him in this, is not like to obey him well in any thing; for there is nothing that he can with less show of reason except against; seeing all the reason in the world must confess, that worship is most due to God from his own creatures.

These reasons for the worship of God being undeniable, the objections of the infidels and ungodly are unreasonable: as, Object. 1. That our worship doth no good to God; for he hath no need of it. Answ. {549} It pleaseth and honoureth him, as the making of the world, and the happiness of man doth: doth it follow that there must be no world, nor any man happy, because God hath no need of it, or no addition of felicity by it? It is sufficient that it is necessary and good for us, and pleasing unto God.

Object. 2. Proud men are unlikest unto God; and it is the proud that love to be honoured and praised. Answ. Pride is the affecting of an undue honour, or the undue affecting of that honour which is due. Therefore it is that this affectation of honour in the creature is a sin, because all honour is due to God, and none to the creature but derivatively and subserviently. For a subject to affect any of the honour of his king, is disloyalty; and to affect any of the honour of his fellow-subjects is injustice: but God requireth nothing but what is absolutely his due; and he hath commanded us, even towards men, to give "fear and honour to whom they are due," Rom. xiii. 7.

Direct. III. Labour for the truest knowledge of the God whom you worship. Let it not be said of you, as Christ said to the Samaritan woman, John iv. 22, "Ye worship ye know not what;" nor as it is said of the Athenians, whose altar was inscribed, "To the unknown God," Acts xvii. 23. You must know whom you worship; or else you cannot worship him with the heart, nor worship him sincerely and acceptably, though you were at never so great labour and cost: God hath no "pleasure in the sacrifice of fools," Eccles. v. 1, 4. Though no man know him perfectly, you must know him truly. And though God taketh not every man for a blasphemer, and denier of his attributes, whom contentious, peevish wranglers call so, because they consequentially cross some espoused opinions of theirs; yet real misunderstanding of God's nature and attributes is dangerous, and tendeth to corrupt his worship by the corrupting of the worshippers. For such as you take God to be, such worship you will offer him; for your worship is but the honourable acknowledgment of his perfections; and mistakingly to praise him for supposed imperfections, is to dishonour him and dispraise him. If to know God be your eternal life, it must needs be the life of all your worship. Take heed therefore of ignorance and error about God.

Direct. IV. Understand the office of Jesus Christ as our great High Priest, by whose mediation alone we must have access to God.[5] Whether there should have been any priesthood for sacrifice or intercession if there had been no sin, the Scripture telleth us not expressly; but we have great reason to conjecture there would have been none, because there would not have been any reasons for the exercise of such an office. But since the fall, not only the Scriptures, but the practice of the whole world, doth tell us that the sinful people are unmeet immediately thus to come to God, but that they must come by the mediation of the priest, as a sacrificer and intercessor. So that either nature teacheth sinners the necessity of some mediator, or the tradition of the church hath dispersed the knowledge of it through the world: and certainly no other priest but Christ can procure the acceptance of a sinful people upon his own account; nor be an effectual mediator for them to God, unless in subserviency to an effectual mediator who can procure us access and acceptance for his own sake. For all other priests are sinners as well as the people, and have as much need of a mediator for themselves. 1. See therefore that you never appear before God, but as sinners, that have offended him, and have deserved to be cast out of his favour for ever, and such as are in absolute necessity of a mediator to procure their access and acceptance with God: come not to God without the sense of sin and misery. 2. See also that you come as those that have a mediator in the presence of God; even Jesus our High Priest who appeareth before God continually to make intercession for us: come therefore with holy boldness, and confidence, and joy, having so sure and powerful a Friend with God, the Beloved of the Father, whom he heareth always.[6]

Direct. V. Look carefully to the state of thy soul, that thou bring not an unholy heart to worship the most holy God. Come not in the love of sin, nor in the hatred of holiness; for otherwise thou hatest God, and art hated of him, as bringing that before him which he cannot but hate. And it is easy to judge how unfit they are to worship God, that hate him; and how unlike they are to be accepted by him whom he hateth. Psal. v. 3-7, "My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord: in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up: for thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness, neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight; thou hatest all the workers of iniquity.—Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man. But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercies, and in thy fear will I worship towards thy holy temple." Psal. lxvi. 18, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." Psal. xv. 1, 2, "Who shall abide in God's tabernacle, but he that walketh uprightly and worketh righteousness?" God will be sanctified in them that come nigh him, Lev. x. 3; and are unsanctioned persons fit for this? And can the unholy offer him holy worship? "The carnal mind is enmity against God;" is it fit then to serve and honour him? Rom. i. 7, 8. See 2 Cor. vi. 15-18. "Let him that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity," 2 Tim. ii. 19. It is a purified, peculiar, holy people that Christ hath redeemed to be the worshippers of God, and as priests to "offer him acceptable sacrifice," Tit. ii. 14; 1 Pet. ii. 5, 9. If you will "receive the kingdom that cannot be moved, you must have grace in your hearts to serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear; for our God is a consuming fire," Heb. xii. 28, 29. I know an ungodly person, as soon as he hath any repenting thoughts, must express them in confession and prayer to God. But as no prayers of an ungodly man are profitable to him, but those which are acts of his penitent return towards God; so no worship of God hath a promise of divine acceptance, but that which is performed by such as sincerely return to God (and such are not ungodly). "The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is his delight," Prov. xv. 8. I know the wicked must "seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near;" but it must be in "forsaking his way and thoughts, and turning to the Lord," Isa. lv. 6, 7. Simon Magus must first "repent of his wickedness," and then pray that the thoughts of his heart may be forgiven him, Acts viii. 22. O come not in thy unholy, carnal state to worship God, unless it be as a penitent returner to him, to lament first thy sin and misery, that thou mayst be sanctified and reconciled, and fit to worship him.

Direct. VI. Yet take it not as sufficient that thou art in a state of sanctification, but also particularly sanctify thyself to every particular address to God {550} in holy worship. Even the child of a king will not go rudely in dirt and filthiness into his father's presence. Who would not search his heart and life, and cleanse his soul from his particular pollution, by renewed repentance and purposes of reformation, before he venture to speak to God? Particular sins have made sad breaches between God and his children, and made foul work in souls that the blood of Christ had cleansed. Search therefore with fear, lest there should be any reviving sin, or any hidden root of bitterness, or any transgression which thou winkest at or wilfully cherishest in thyself; that, if there be such, thou mayst bewail and hate it, and not come to God as if he had laid by his hatred of sin.

Direct. VII. Whenever thou comest to worship God, labour to awaken thy soul to a reverent apprehension of the presence, and greatness, and holiness of his majesty, and to a serious apprehension of the greatness and excellency of the holy work which thou takest in hand. Remember with whom thou hast to do, Heb. iv. 13. To speak to God, is another kind of work than to speak to the greatest prince on earth, yea, or the greatest angel in heaven. Be holy, for the Lord your God is holy. To sanctify the name of God, and come in holiness before him, is to apprehend him as infinitely advanced above the whole creation, and to come with hearts that are separated from common things to him, and elevated above a common frame. A common frame in worship (such as we have about our common business) is mere profaneness. If it be common it is unclean. Look to your feet when you go to the house of God, Eccl. v. 1. Put off the shoes of earthly, common, unhallowed affections, whenever you tread on holy ground, that is, when you are about holy work, and when you draw near the holy God. In reverent adoration say as Jacob, "How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven," Gen. xxviii. 17. See Isa. vi. 1, 3, 5.

Direct. VIII. In the worship of God, remember your communion with the holy angels, and with all the hosts of heaven.[7] You are the servants of the same God, and though you are yet far below them, you are doing that which tendeth towards their dignity; for you must be equal with them. Your work is partly of the same kind with theirs: it is the same holy Majesty that you admire and praise, though you see him yet but as in a glass. And the angels are some of them present with you, and see you, though you see not them: 1 Cor. xi. 10, you are commanded to respect them in your behaviour in God's worship. If the eye of faith were so far opened, as that in all your worshipping of God, you saw the blessed companies of angels, though not in the same place and manner with you, yet in the same worship and in communion with you, admiring, magnifying, extolling, and praising the most glorious God, and the glorified Redeemer, with flaming, fervent, holy minds, it would sure do much to elevate your souls, and raise you up to some imitation or resemblance of them.[8] You find that in God's public worship, it is a great help to the soul, in holy cheerfulness and fervour, to join with a full assembly of holy, fervent, cheerful worshippers: and that it is very difficult to the best, to keep up life and fervent cheerfulness in so small, or ignorant, or profane a company, as where there is no considerable number to concur with us. Oh then, what a raising help would it be, to praise God as within the sight and hearing of the heavenly praises of the angelical choir! You see how apt men are to be conformed to the company that they are in. They that are among dancers, or gamesters, or tipplers, or filthy talkers, or scorners, or railers, are apt to do as the company doth, or at least to be the more disposed to it. And they that are among saints, in holy worship or discourse, are apt to imitate them much more than they would do in other company. And what likelier way is there, to make you like angels in the worshipping of God, than to do it as in the communion of the angels? and by faith to see and hear them in the concert? The angels disdain not to study our studies, and to learn "by the church the manifold wisdom of God," Eph. iii. 10; 1 Pet. i. 12. They are not so far from us, nor so strange to us and our affairs, as that we should imagine ourselves to be out of their communion. Though we may not worship them, Col. ii. 18, we must worship as with them.

Direct. IX. Take special care to the matter of your worship, that it be such as is agreeable to the will of God, to the holiness of his nature, and the directions of his word; and such as hath a promise of his acceptance. Offer him not the sacrifice of fools, who know not that they do evil, and are adding to their sins, while they think they are pleasing him. Bring no false fire unto his altars: let your zeal of God be according to knowledge. For no zeal will make a corrupt, unlawful kind of worship, to be acceptable unto God.[9]

Direct. X. See that you perform every part of worship to the proper end to which it is appointed; both as to the ultimate, remote, and nearest end. The end is essential to these relative duties. If you intend not the right end, you make another thing of it: as the preaching of a sermon to edify the church, or putting up a prayer to procure God's blessings, is not the same thing as a stage-player's profane repeating the same words in scorn of godliness, or an hypocrite's using them for commodity or applause. The ultimate end of all worship and all moral actions is the same, even the pleasing and glorifying God, 1 Cor. x. 31; 2 Tim. ii. 4.[10] Besides which every part of worship hath its proper, nearest end. These must not only be distinctly known, but actually intended. It is God in Christ that a holy worshipper thirsteth after and seeketh for in every part of worship, either to know more of God, and of his will, and blessings; or to have some more communion with him, or some further grace communicated from him, to receive his pardoning, or cleansing, or quickening, or confirming, or comforting, or exalting grace; to be honoured or delighted in his holy service, or to make known his grace and glory for the good of others, and the honour of his name.[11] Here it is that God proclaimeth his name, as Exod. xxxiv. 6. The ordinances of God's worship are like the tree in which Zaccheus climbed up (being of himself too low) to have a sight of Christ. Here we come to learn the will of God for our salvation; and must enter the assembly with such resolutions as Cornelius and his company met, Acts x. 33, "We are all here met to hear all things commanded thee of God:" and as Acts ii. 37, and Acts xvi. 30, to learn what we must do to be saved. Hither we come for that holy light, which may show us our sin, and show us the grace which we have received, and show us the unspeakable love of God, till we are humbled for sin, and lifted up by faith in Christ, and can with Thomas, as it were, put our fingers into {551} his wounds, and say in assurance, "My Lord and my God:" and as Psal. xlviii. 14, "This God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death." Here we do as it were with Mary sit at the feet of Jesus, to hear his word, Luke x. 39, that fire from heaven may come down upon our hearts, and we may say, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he spake to us, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?" Luke xxiv. 32. Here we cry to him as the blind man, Mark x. 51, "Lord, that I may receive my sight." We cry here to the watchmen, Cant. iii. 3, "Saw ye him whom my soul loveth." Here we are in his "banqueting house," under the "banner of his love," Cant. ii. 4. We have here the sealing and quickenings of his Spirit, the mortification of our sin, the increase of grace, and a prospect into eternal life, and a foresight of the endless happiness there. See then that you come to the worship of God with these intentions and expectations; that if God or conscience call to you, (as God did sometime to Elias,) "What dost thou here?" you may truly answer, I came to seek the Lord my God, and to learn his will that I might do it. And that your sweet delights may make you say, Psal. lxxxiv. 4, "Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, they will be still praising thee." If thou come to the worship of God in mere custom, or to make thy carnal heart believe that God will forgive thee because thou so far servest him, or to quiet thy conscience with the doing of a formal task of duty, or to be seen of men, or that thou mayst not be thought ungodly, if these be thy ends, thou wilt speed accordingly. A holy soul cannot live upon the air of man's applause, nor upon the shell of ordinances, without God who is the kernel and the life of all: it is the love of God that brings them thither, and it is love that they are exercising there, and the end of love, even the nearer approach of the soul to God, which they desire and intend. Be sure then that these be the true and real intentions of thy heart.

How to know that we have the right ends in worship.

Quest. But how shall I know whether indeed it be God himself that I am seeking, and that I perform his worship to the appointed ends?

Answ. In so great a business it is a shame to be unacquainted with your intentions. If you take heed what you do, and look after your hearts, you may know what you come for, and what is your business there. But more particularly, you may discern it by these marks: 1. He that hath right ends, and seeketh God, will labour to suit all his duties to those ends, and will like that best which is best suited to them; he will strive so to preach, and hear, and pray, not as tends most to preferment or applause, but as tendeth most to please and honour God, and to attain his grace; and he will love that sermon or that prayer best, that is best fitted to bring up his soul to God, and not that which tickleth a carnal ear. Mark what you fit the means to, and you may perceive what is your end. 2. If it be God himself that you seek after in his worship, you will not be satisfied without God: it is not the doing of the task that will satisfy you, nor yet the greatest praise of men, no not of the most godly men; but so far as you have attained your end, in the cleansing, or quickening, or strengthening of the soul, or getting somewhat nearer God, or pleasing or honouring him, so far only you will be contented. 3. If God be your end, you will be faithful in the use of that more private and spiritual worship, where God is to be found, though no human applause be there to be attained. 4. And you will love still the same substantial, necessary truth and duty, which is to your souls as bread and drink is to your bodies; when those that have carnal ends will be looking after variety and change, and will be weary of the necessary bread of life. By observing these things you may discern what are your ends in worship.

And here I must not let go this necessary direction, till I have driven on the reader with some more importunity to the serious practice of it. It is lamentable to see, how many turn the worship of God into vile hypocrisy, and dead formality; and offer God a carrion for a sacrifice; and yet their consciences are so far from checking them for this heinous sin, that they are much pleased and quieted by it, as if they had deserved well of God, and proved themselves very godly people, and by this sin had made him amends for the common sins of their lives. Is it God himself, and his sanctifying grace, that those men seek after in his worship, who hate his grace and scorn sanctification, and can leave God to be enjoyed by others, if they may but enjoy their fleshly pleasures, and riches, and honours in the world? Even the haters of God and holiness are so blinded, as to persuade themselves that in his worship they are truly seeking that God and holiness which they hate. And oh what a deal of pains is many a formal hypocrite at to little purpose; in spending many hours in outside, heartless, lifeless worship, while they never thirsted after God, nor after a holy conformity to him, communion with him, or fruition of him, in all their lives![12] Oh what a deal of labour do these Pharisees lose in bodily exercise which profiteth nothing, for want of a right end in all that they do! because it is not God that they seek: when "godliness is profitable to all things," 1 Tim. iv. 8. And what is godliness but the soul's devotedness to God, and seeking after him? We have much ado to bring some men from their diversions to God's outward worship; but oh how much harder is it to bring the soul unfeignedly to seek God in that worship where the body is present! When David in the wilderness was driven from the sanctuary, he crieth out in the bitterness of his soul, "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God: my soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?" You see here that it was God himself that David thirsted after in his worship. Alas! what is all the outward pomp of worship, if God be not the end and life of all? Without him how vain a thing would the words of prayer, and preaching, and the administration of the sacraments be! It is not the dead letter, but the quickening Spirit that maketh the dead in sin to live; that convinceth or comforteth the soul; or maketh the worshipper holy or happy. Nay, it is some aggravation of your misery, to be destitute of true communion with God, while you seem to worship him; and to be far from him in the heart, while you draw so near him with the lips; to boast of the temple of the Lord, and be forsaken by the Lord of the temple! That Capernaum shall be cast down to hell, that is but thus lifted up to heaven; and it will be easier for Sodom in the day of judgment, than for such as had the public ordinances without God. David left the ark with Absalom at Jerusalem; but God was not with Absalom but with David.[13] No marvel if such hypocrites grudge at all that is costly in God's service; even the necessary maintenance of the ministers; for if {552} they have only the shell of ordinances without God, it will scarce requite them for their cost. No marvel if they think all their pains too much, when they take up with the chaff which is scarcely worth their pains. No wonder if they find small pleasure in God's service; for what pleasure is there in the husks or chaff, or in a deaf nut? No wonder if they grow no better, no holier or stronger by it; for what strength will chaff and shadows breed? No marvel if they are quickly weary, and if a little of such religion seem enough, when the life, and spirits, and strength, and sweetness is neglected. O sinners, remember, that God desireth not yours but you, and all your wealth and service is as nothing to him, if he have not yourselves (when yet you are so little worth the having). Nay, how earnestly doth he sue to have you! how dearly hath he bought you! he may challenge you as his own. Answer this kindness of God aright; let no ordinance nor any common mercy satisfy you, if you have not God himself. And to encourage you let me further tell you,

1. If it be God himself that thou seekest in his worship (sincerely) thou shalt find him: because thou hast chosen the better part, it shall not be taken from thee.[14] Because thou hungerest and thirstest after him thou shalt be satisfied. What joyful news is this to the thirsty soul! 2. Thou art more welcome to God with these high desires; this holy ambition and aspiring of love is only acceptable to him. If all ordinances be nothing to thee without God, he will see that thou understandest the true use of ordinances, and put down thy name among his lovers, whom he cannot despise. He loveth not to see men debase their souls, to feed on husks and chaff with hypocrites, any more than to feed on filth and dirt, with sensualists and worldlings. As he accepted Solomon's prayer because he asked not for little things, but for great,[15] so he is very much pleased with the soul, that is unsatisfied with all the world, and can be content with nothing lower or worse than God himself. 3. Nay, because thou seekest God himself, thou shalt have all things with him that are worth the having, Matt. vi. 33; Rom. viii. 28. When hypocrites have but the carcass and shadow, it is thou that shalt have the substantial food and joy. As they that were with Paul when he was converted, did hear the voice but saw no man, Acts ix. 7; so others shall hear the sound of the word, and the name of God, but it is thou that shalt see him by faith that is invisible, and feel the power and efficacy of all. Thou shalt hear God speak to thee, when he that sitteth in the same seat with thee, shall hear no more than the voice of man. It is he that seeketh after God in his ordinances, that is religious in good sadness, and is employed in a work, that is worthy of an immortal, rational soul. The delights of ordinances as they are performed by man, will savour of his imperfections, and taste of the instrument, and have a bitterness often mixed with the sweet; when the delight that cometh from God himself will be more pure. Ordinances are uncertain: you may have them to-day, and lose them to-morrow! when God is everlasting, and everlastingly to be enjoyed. O therefore take not up short of God, in any of his worship, but before you set upon it, call up your souls to mind the end, and tell them what you are going to do, that you miss not of the end for want of seeking it. The devil will give hypocritical worldlings leave to play them with the most excellent ordinances, if he can but keep God out of sight, even as you will let your children play them with a box of gold, as long as it is shut, and they see not what is within.

Direct. XI. Be laborious with your hearts in all God's worship to keep them employed on their duty; and be watchful over them, lest they slug or wander.[16] Remember that it is heart work that you are principally about. And therefore see that your hearts be all the while at work. Take yourselves as idle when your hearts are idle. And if you take not pains with them, how little pains will they take in duty! If you watch them not, how quickly will they lie down, and forget what they are doing, and fall asleep when you are in treaty with God! How easily will they turn aside, and be thinking of impertinent vanities! Watch therefore unto prayer and every duty, 1 Pet. iv. 7; 2 Tim. iv. 5.

Direct. XII. Look up to heaven as that which all your duties tend to, that from thence you may fetch your encouraging motives. Do all as a means to life eternal; separate no duty from its reward and end. As the traveller remembereth whither he is going all the way, and a desired end doth make the foulest steps seem tolerable; so think in every prayer you put up, and in every duty, that it is all for heaven.

Direct. XIII. Depend upon the Spirit of God for help. You cannot seek God spiritually and acceptably without him. Think not that you are sufficient to worship God aright without his help. Where this is despised or neglected, you see what lamentable work is made by blind, corrupted nature in God's service. Sensual wretches that have not the Spirit, are fitter for any thing than to worship God.[17] "If he that hath not the Spirit of Christ be none of his," Rom. viii. 9, then he that pretends to worship God without the Spirit of Christ, can ill think to be heard for the sake of Christ.

Direct. XIV. Look also to your tongues and the deportment of your bodies, that the whole man may worship God in holiness as he requireth. Pretend not your good meanings, nor the spirituality of your worship, to excuse you from worshipping also with your bodies. Your hearts must be first looked to; but your words and bodies must be next looked to; and if you regard not these, it is hardly credible that you regard your hearts. 1. Your words and gestures are the due expression of your hearts; and the heart will desire to express itself as it is. Many would express their hearts to be better than they are; and therefore good expressions are oft to be suspected. But few would express their hearts as worse than they are; and therefore bad appearances do seldom lie. 2. Your words and actions are needful to the due honouring of God. As evil words and actions do dishonour him, and the unseemly, disorderly performance of his service, is very injurious to such holy things; so your meet and comely words and gestures are the external beauty of the worship which you perform; and God should be served with the best. 3. Your words and gestures reflect much on your own hearts. As acts tend to the increase of the habits; so the external expressions tend to increase the internal affections, whether they be good or evil. 4. Your words and gestures must be regarded for the good of others, who see not your hearts, but by these expressions. And where many have communion in worshipping God, such acts of communion are of great regard.

[1]   Qui totos dies precabantur et immolabant, ut sui liberi sibi superstites essent, superstitiosi sunt appellati, quod nomen patuit postea latius. Qui autem omnia, quæ ad cultum Deorum pertinerent, diligenter retractarent, et tanquam relegerent, sunt dicti religiosi, ex relegendo; ut elegantes ex eligendo, a diligendo diligentes, ex intelligendo intelligentes. Superstitiosi et religiosi, alterum vitii nomen, alterum laudis. Cicer. Nat. Deor. lib. ii. pag. 73, 74.

[2]   If they that serve their God with mere words, and ceremony, and mimical actions, were so served themselves, they might be silenced with Aristippus's defence of his gallantry and sumptuous fare, Si vituperandum, ait, hoc esset, in celebritatibus deorum profecto non fieret. Laert. in Aristip. So Plato allowed drunkenness only in the feasts of Bacchus.

[3]   Read Mr. Herbert's Poem called "Providence."

[4]   Psal. xlv. 11; lxvi. 4; lxxxvi. 9; xcv. 6; xcix. 5.

[5]   Heb. viii. 3.

[6]   Heb. vii. 27, 28; ix. 26, 28; x. 19-22, 13, 24; vi. 20; vii. 25, 26; Matt. xvii. 5; John xi. 42.

[7]   Luke xx. 36; see Eccl. v. 5; Psal. cxxxviii. 1; Isa. vi. 2.

[8]   See Mr. Ambrose's book of Communion with Angels; and Zanchy on the same subject: and Mr. Lawrence's and Dr. Hammond's Annotat. on 1 Cor. xii.

[9]   Adulterium est, impium est, sacrilegium est, quodcunque humano furore instituitur, ut dispositio Divina violetur. Cyprian. Eccl. v. 1, 2; Lev. x. 1-3; Rom. x. 2, 3.

[10]   1 Thess. ii. 4; Col. i. 10; John viii. 29; 1 Cor. vii. 32; Heb. xi. 6; 1 John iii. 22.

[11]   Psal. xlii.; lxxxiv.

[12]   2 Tim. iii. 5; 1 Tim. iv. 7.

[13]   Isa. xxix. 13; Matt. xv. 8; xi. 23, 24; 2 Sam. xv. 25, 28, 29.

[14]   Luke x. 42.

[15]   2 Chron. i. 10-12.

[16]   Eph. vi. 18; Luke xxi. 36; Rev. iii. 3; Col. iv. 2; Matt. xiii. 33-37.

[17]   Jude 19.




The lamentable contentions that have arisen about the manner of God's worship, and the cruelty, and blood, and divisions, and uncharitable revilings which have thence followed, and also the necessary regard that every christian must have to worship God according to his will, do make it needful that I give you some directions in this case.

Direct. I. Be sure that you seriously and faithfully practise that inward worship of God, in which the life of religion doth consist: as to love him above all, to fear him, believe him, trust him, delight in him, be zealous for him; and that your hearts be sanctified unto God, and set upon heaven and holiness: for this will be an unspeakable help to set you right in most controversies about the worshipping of God.[18] Nothing hath so much filled the church with contentions, and divisions, and cruelties about God's worship, as the agitating of these controversies by unholy, unexperienced persons: when men that hate a holy life, and holy persons, and the holiness of God himself, must be they that dispute what manner of worship must be offered to God by themselves and others, and when the controversies about God's service are fallen into the hands of those that hate all serious serving of him, you may easily know what work they will make of it. As if sick men were to determine or dispute what meat and drink themselves and all other men must live upon, and none must eat but by their prescripts, most healthful men would think it hard to live in such a country. As men are within, so will they incline to worship God without. Outward worship is but the expression of inward worship; he that hath a heart replenished with the love and fear of God, will be apt to express it by such manner of worship, as doth most lively and seriously express the love and fear of God. If the heart be a stranger or an enemy to God, no marvel if such worship him accordingly. O could we but help all contenders about worship to the inward light, and life, and love, and experience of holy, serious christians, they would find enough in themselves, and their experiences, to decide abundance of controversies of this kind (though still there will be some, that require also other helps to decide them.) It is very observable in all times of the church, how in controversies about God's worship, the generality of the godly, serious people, and the generality of the ungodly and ludicrous worshippers, are ordinarily of differing judgments! and what a stroke the temper of the soul hath in the determination of such cases!

Direct. II. Be serious and diligent also in all those parts of the outward worship of God that all sober christians are agreed in. For if you be negligent and false in so much as you confess, your judgment about the controverted part is not much to be regarded. God is not so likely to direct profane ones and false-hearted hypocrites, and bless them with a sound judgment in holy things, (where their lives show that their practical judgments are corrupt,) as the sincere that obey him in that which he revealeth to them. We are all agreed that God's word must be your daily meditation and delight, Psal. i. 2; and that you should "speak of it lying down and rising up, at home and abroad," Deut. vi. 6-8; and that we must be constant, fervent, and importunate in prayer, both in public and private, 1 Thess. v. 17; Luke xviii. 1; James v. 16. Do you perform this much faithfully or not? If you do, you may the more confidently expect that God should further reveal his will to you, and resolve your doubts, and guide you in the way that is pleasing to him. But if you omit the duty that all are agreed on, and be unfaithful and negligent in what you know, how unmeet are you to dispute about the controverted circumstances of duty! To what purpose is it that you meddle in such controversies? Do you do it wilfully to condemn yourselves before God, and shame yourselves before men, by declaring the hypocrisy which aggravateth your ungodliness? What a loathsome and pitiful thing is it, to hear a man bitterly reproach those who differ from him in some circumstances of worship, when he himself never seriously worshipped God at all! when he meditateth not on the word of God, and instead of delighting in it, maketh light of it, as if it little concerned him; and is acquainted with no other prayer than a little customary lip-service! Is such an ungodly neglecter of all the serious worship of God, a fit person to fill the world with quarrels about the manner of his worship?

Direct. III. Differ not in God's worship from the common sense of the most faithful, godly christians, without great suspicion of your own understandings, and a most diligent trial of the case. For if in such practical cases the common sense of the faithful be against you, it is to be suspected that the teaching of God's Spirit is against you; for the Spirit of God doth principally teach his servants in the matter of worship and obedience.

The disadvantages of ungodly men in judging of holy worship.

There are several errors that I am here warning you to avoid: 1. The error of them that rather incline to the judgment of the ungodly multitude, who never knew what it was to worship God in spirit and truth. Consider the great disadvantages of these men to judge aright in such a case. (1.) They must judge them without that teaching of the Spirit, by which things spiritual are to be discerned, 1 Cor. ii. 13, 15. He that is blind in sin must judge of the mysteries of godliness. (2.) They must judge quite contrary to their natures and inclinations, or against the diseased habits of their wills: and if you call a drunkard to judge of the evil of drunkenness, or a whoremonger to judge of the evil of fornication, or a covetous, or a proud, or a passionate man to judge of their several sins, how partial will they be! And so will an ungodly man be in judging of the duties of godliness. You set him to judge of that which he hateth. 3. You set him to judge of that which he is unacquainted with: it is like he never thoroughly studied it; but it is certain he never seriously tried it, nor hath the experience of those, that have long made it a great part of the business of their lives. And would you not sooner take a man's judgment in physic, that hath made it the study and practice of his life, than a sick man's that speaketh against that which he never studied or practised, merely because his own stomach is against it? Or will you not sooner take the judgment of an ancient pilot about navigation, than one's that was never at sea? The difference is as great in this present case.

2. And I speak this also to warn you of another error, that you prefer not the judgment of a sect or party, or some few godly people, against the common sense of the generality of the faithful; for the Spirit of God is likelier to have forsaken a small part of godly people, than the generality, in such particular {554} opinions, which even good men may be forsaken in: or if it be in greater things, it is more unreasonable and more uncharitable for me to suspect that most that seem godly are hypocrites and forsaken of God, than that a party or some few are so.

Direct. IV. Yet do not absolutely give up yourselves to the judgment of any in the worshipping of God, but only use the advice of men in a due subordination to the will of God, and the teaching of Jesus Christ. Otherwise you will set man in the place of God, and will reject Christ in his prophetical office, as much as using co-ordinate mediators is a rejecting him in his priestly office. None must be called master, but in subordination to Christ, because he is our Master, Matt. xxiii. 8-10.

Direct. V. Condemn not all that in others, which you dare not do yourselves; and practise not all that yourselves, which you dare not condemn in others.[19] For you are more capable of judging in your own cases, and bound to do it with more exactness and diligent inquiry, than in the case of others. Ofttimes a rational doubt may necessitate you to suspend your practice, as your belief or judgment is suspended; when yet it will not allow you to condemn another whose judgment and practice hath no such suspension. Only you may doubt whether he be in the right, as you doubt as to yourself. And yet you may not therefore venture to do all that you dare not condemn in him; for then you must wilfully commit all the sins in the world, which your weakness shall make a doubt or controversy of.

Direct. VI. Offer God no worship that is clearly contrary to his nature and perfections, but such as is suited to him as he is revealed to you in his word. Thus Christ teacheth us, to worship God as he is: and thus God often calleth for holy worship, because he is holy.[20] 1. "God is a Spirit: therefore they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth;" (which Christ opposeth to mere external ceremony or shadows;) "for the Father seeketh such to worship him," John iv. 23, 24. 2. God is incomprehensible, and infinitely distant from us: therefore worship him with admiration, and make not either visible or mental images of him, nor debase him by undue resemblance of him to any of his creatures.[21] 3. God is omnipresent, and therefore you may every where lift up holy hands to him, 1 Tim. ii. 8. And you must always worship him as in his sight. 4. God is omniscient, and knoweth your hearts, and therefore let your hearts be employed and watched in his worship. 5. God is most wise, and therefore not to be worshipped ludicrously with toys, as children are pleased with to quiet them, but with wise and rational worship. 6. God is most great, and therefore to be worshipped with the greatest reverence and seriousness; and not presumptuously, with a careless mind, or wandering thoughts, or rude expressions. 7. God is most good and gracious, and therefore not to be worshipped with backwardness, unwillingness, and weariness, but with great delight. 8. God is most merciful in Christ, and therefore not to be worshipped despairingly, but in joyful hope. 9. God is true and faithful, and therefore to be worshipped believingly and confidently, and not in distrust and unbelief. 10. God is most holy, and therefore to be worshipped by holy persons, in a holy manner, and not by unholy hearts or lips, nor in a common manner, as if we had to do but with a man. 11. He is the Maker of your souls and bodies, and therefore to be worshipped both with soul and body. 12. He is your Redeemer and Saviour, and therefore to be worshipped by you as sinners in the humble sense of your sin and misery, and as redeemed ones in the thankful sense of his mercy, and all in order to your further cleansing, healing, and recovery. 13. He is your Regenerator and Sanctifier, and therefore to be worshipped not in the confidence of your natural sufficiency, but by the light, and love, and life of the Holy Ghost. 14. He is your absolute Lord, and the Owner of you and all you have, and therefore to be worshipped with the absolute resignation of yourself and all, and honoured with your substance, and not hypocritically, with exceptions and reserves. 15. He is your sovereign King, and therefore to be worshipped according to his laws, with an obedient kind of worship, and not after the traditions of men, nor the will or wisdom of the flesh.[22] 16. He is your heavenly Father, and therefore all these holy dispositions should be summed up into the strongest love, and you should run to him with the greatest readiness, and rest in him with the greatest joy, and thirst after the full fruition of him with the greatest of your desires, and press towards him for himself with the most fervent and importunate suits. All these the very being and perfections of God will teach you in his worship: and therefore if any controverted worship be certainly contrary to any of these, it is certainly unwarranted and unacceptable unto God.

Direct. VII. Pretend not to worship God by that which is destructive, or contrary to the ends of worship. For the aptitude of it as a means to its proper end, is essential to it. Now the ends of worship are, 1. The honouring of God. 2. The edifying of ourselves in holiness, and delighting our souls in the contemplation and praises of his perfections. 3. The communicating this knowledge, holiness, and delight to others, and the increase of his actual kingdom in the world. (1.) Avoid then all that pretended worship which dishonoureth God (not in the opinion of carnal men, that judge of him by their own misguided imaginations, but according to the discovery of himself to us in his works and word). Many travellers that have conversed with the soberer heathen and Mahometan nations, tell us, that it is not the least hinderance of their conversion, and cause of their contempt of christianity, to see the christians that live about them, to worship God so ignorantly, irrationally, and childishly, as many of them do.[23] (2.) Affect most that manner of worship (cæteris paribus) which tendeth most to your own right information, and holy resolutions and affections, and to bring up your souls into nearer communion and delight in God: and not that which tendeth to deceive, or flatter, or divert you from him, nor to be in your ears as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal, or as one that is playing you a lesson of music; and tendeth not to make you better. (3.) Affect not that manner of worship which is an enemy to knowledge, {555} and tendeth to keep up ignorance in the world: such as is a great part of the popish worship, especially their reading the Scriptures to the people in an unknown tongue, and celebrating their public prayers, and praises, and sacraments in an unknown tongue, and their seldom preaching, and then teaching the people to take up with a multitude of toyish ceremonies, instead of knowledge and rational worship. Certainly that which is an enemy to knowledge, is an enemy to all holiness and true obedience, and to the ends of worship, and therefore is no acceptable worshipping of God. (4.) Affect not that pretended worship which is of itself destructive of true holiness: such as is the preaching of false doctrine, not according to godliness, and the opposition and reproaching of a holy life and worship, in the misapplication of true doctrine; and then teaching poor souls to satisfy themselves with their mass, and mass ceremonies, and an image of worship, instead of serious holiness, which is opposed: Prov. xxiv. 24, "He that saith to the wicked, Thou art righteous, him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him." And if this be done as a worship of God, you may hence judge how acceptable it will be: Isa. v. 20, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" To make people believe that holiness is but hypocrisy, or a needless thing, or that the image of holiness is holiness itself, or that there is no great difference between the godly and ungodly, doth all tend to men's perdition, and to damn men by deceiving them, and to root out holiness from the earth. See Ezek. xxii. 26; xliv. 23; Jer. xv. 19. "If thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth," Mal. iii. 18; Psal. i.; xv. (5.) Affect not a dead and heartless way of worship, which tendeth not to convince and waken the ungodly, nor to make men serious as those that have to do with God.

Direct. VIII. Let the manner of your worshipping God be suited to the matter that you have in hand. Remember that you are speaking either to or of the eternal God; that you are employed about the everlasting salvation of your own or others' souls; that all is high and holy that you have to do: see then that the manner be answerable hereunto.

Direct. IX. Offer God nothing as a part of worship which is a lie; much less so gross a lie as to be disproved by the common senses and reason of all the world. God needeth not our lie unto his glory.[24] What worship then do papists offer him in their mass, who take it for an article of their faith, that there is no bread or wine left after the consecration, it being all transubstantiate into the very body and blood of Christ? And when the certainty of all men's senses is renounced, then all certainty of faith and all religion is renounced; for all presuppose the certainty of sense.

Direct. X. Worship not God in a manner that is contrary to the true nature, and order, and operations of a rational soul. I mean not to the corrupted nature of man, but to nature as rational in itself considered. As, 1. Let not your mere will and inclination overrule your understandings; and say not as blind lovers do, I love this, but I know not why; or children that eat unwholesome meat, because they love it.[25] 2. Let not passion overtop your reason: worship God with such a zeal as is according to knowledge. 3. Let not your tongues lead your hearts, much less overgo them: words may indeed reflect upon the heart, and warm it more; but that is but the secondary use: the first is to be the expressions of the heart: you must not speak without or against your hearts, (that is, falsely,) that by so speaking you may better your hearts (and make the words true, that at first were not true); unless it be when your words are but reading recitations or narratives, and not spoken of yourselves. The heart was made to lead the tongue, and the tongue to express it, and not to lead it. Therefore speak not to God either the words of a parrot, which you do not understand, or the words of a liar or hypocrite, which express not the meaning, or desires, or feeling of your hearts: but first understand and feel what you should speak, and then speak that which you understand and feel.

Quest. How then can a prayer be lawful that is read or heard from a book?

Answ. There is in reading the eye, and in hearing the ear, that is first to affect the heart, and then the tongue is to perform its office. And though it be sudden, yet the passage to the heart is first, and the passage from the heart is last: and the soul is quick, and can quickly thus both receive and be affected and express itself. And the case is the same in this, whether it be from a book, or from the words of another without book: for the soul must do the same, as quickly, in joining with another that speaketh before us, without a book as with it.

How far the Scripture is the law or rule of worship and discipline, and how far not.

Direct. XI. Understand well how far Christ hath given a law and a rule for worship to his church in the holy Scriptures, and so far see that you take it as a perfect rule, and swerve not from it by adding or diminishing. This is a matter of great importance by reason of the danger of erring on either side. 1. If you think that the Scripture containeth not any law or rule of worship at all, or not so much as indeed it doth, you will deny a principal part of the office of Christ, as the King and Teacher of the church, and will accuse his laws of insufficiency, and be tempted to worship him with a human kind of worship, and to think yourselves at liberty to worship him according to your own imaginations, or change his worship according to the fashion of the age or the country where you are. And on the other side, if you think that the Scripture is a law and rule of worship, more particular than Christ intended it, you will involve yourselves and others in endless scruples and controversies, and find fault with that which is lawful and a duty, because you find it not particularly in the Scripture: and therefore it is exceeding needful to understand how far it is intended to be herein our law and rule, and how far not: to handle this fully would be a digression, but I shall briefly answer it.

1. No doubt but Christ is the only universal Head and Lawgiver to his church.[26] And that legislation is the first and principal part of government: and therefore if he had made no laws for his church, he were not the full governor of it. And therefore he that arrogateth this power to himself to be lawgiver to the church universal (as such) doth usurp the kingly office of Christ, and committeth treason against his government; (unless he can prove that Christ hath delegated to him this chief part of his government, which none can do;) there being no universal lawgiver to the church but Christ, (whether pope or council,) no law that is made by any mere man can be universally obligatory. Therefore {556} seeing the making of all universal laws doth belong only to Christ, we may be sure that he hath perfectly done it; and hath left nothing out of his laws that was fit to be there, nor nothing at liberty that was fit to be determined and commanded. Therefore whatsoever is of equal use or consideration to the universal church, as it is to any one part of it, and to all times as it is to any time of the church, should not be made a law by man to any part of the church, if Christ have not made it a law to the whole: because else they accuse him of being defective in his laws, and because all his subjects are equally dependent on him as their King and Judge. And no man must step into his throne pretending to amend his work which he hath done amiss, or to make up any wants which the chief Lawgiver should have made up.

2. These laws of Christ for the government of his church, are fully contained in the holy Scriptures; for so much as is in nature, is there also more plainly expressed than nature hath expressed it. All is not Christ's law that is any way expressed in Scripture; but all Christ's laws are expressed in the Scriptures; not written by himself, but by his Spirit in his apostles, whom he appointed and sent to teach all nations to observe whatever he commanded them, Matt. xxviii. 20: who being thus commissioned and enabled fully by the Spirit to perform it, are to be supposed to have perfectly executed their commission; and to have taught whatsoever Christ commanded them, and no more as from Christ: and therefore as they taught that present age by voice, who could hear them, so they taught all ages after to the end of the world by writing, because their voice was not by them to be heard.

3. So far then as the Scripture is a law and rule, it is a perfect rule; but how far it is a law or rule, its own contents and expressions must determine. As, (1.) It is certain that all the internal worship of God (by love, fear, trust, desire, &c.) is perfectly commanded in the Scriptures. (2.) The doctrine of Christ which his ministers must read and preach is perfectly contained in the Scriptures. (3.) The grand and constantly necessary points of order in preaching, are there also expressed: as that the opening of men's eyes, and the converting of them from the power of Satan to God, be first endeavoured, and then their confirmation and further edification, (4.) Also that we humble ourselves before God in the confession of our sins. (5.) And that we pray to God in the name of Christ for mercy for ourselves and others. (6.) That we give God thanks for his mercies to the church, ourselves, and others. (7.) That we praise God in his excellencies manifested in his word and works of creation and providence. (8.) That we do this by singing psalms with holy joyfulness of heart. (9.) The matter and order of the ordinary prayers and praises of christians is expressed in the Scripture (as which parts are to have precedency in our estimation and desire, and ordinarily in our expressions). (10.) Christ himself hath determined that by baptizing them into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, men be solemnly entered into his covenant, and church, and state of christianity. (11.) And he hath himself appointed that his churches hold communion with him and among themselves, in the eucharistical administration of the sacrament of his body and blood, represented in the breaking, delivering, receiving, and eating the consecrated bread, and in the pouring out, delivering, receiving, and drinking the consecrated wine. (12.) And as for the mutable, subservient circumstances, and external expressions, and actions, and orders, which were not fit to be, in particular, the matter of a universal law, but are fit in one place, or at one time, and not another, for these he hath left both in nature and Scripture such general laws, by which upon emergent occasions they may be determined; and by particular providences he fitteth things, and persons, and times, and places, so as that we may discern their agreeableness to the descriptions in his general laws: as that all things be done decently, in order, and to edification, and in charity, unity, and peace. And he hath forbidden generally doing any thing undecently, disorderly, to the hurt or destruction of our brethren, even the weak, or to the division of the church.[27] (13.) And many things he hath particularly forbidden in worship: as making to ourselves any graven image, &c. and worshipping angels, &c.[28]

And as to the order and government of the church, (for I am willing to despatch all here together,) this much is plainly determined in Scripture: 1. That there be officers or ministers under Christ to be the stated teachers of his people, and to baptize, and administer the sacrament of his body and blood, and be the mouth and guide of the people in public prayers, thanksgiving, and praises, and to bind the impenitent and loose the penitent, and to be the directors of the flocks according to the law of God, to life eternal; and their office is described and determined by Christ. 2. It is required that christians do ordinarily assemble together for God's public worship; and be guided therein by these their pastors. 3. It is required that besides the unfixed ministers, who employ themselves in converting infidels, and in an itinerant service of the churches, there be also stated, fixed ministers, having a special charge of each particular church; and that they may know their own flocks, and from house to house, and the people may know their own pastors that are over them in the Lord, and honour them and obey them in all that they teach them from the word of God for their salvation. 4. The ministers that baptize are to judge of the capacity and fitness of those whom they baptize; whether the adult that are admitted upon their personal profession and covenanting, or infants that are admitted upon their parents' profession and entering them into covenant. 5. The pastors that administer the Lord's supper to their particular flocks, are to discern or judge of the fitness of those persons whom they receive newly into their charge, or whom they admit to communion in that sacrament as members of their flock. 6. Every such pastor is also personally to watch over all the members of his flock as far as he is able; lest false teachers seduce them, or Satan get advantage of them, or any corruption or root of bitterness spring up among them and defile them. 7. It is the duty of the several members of the flock, if a brother trespass against them, to tell him his faults between them and him; and if he hear not, to take two or three, and if he hear not them, to tell the church. 8. It is the pastor's duty to admonish the unruly, and call them to repentance, and pray for their conversion. 9. And it is the pastor's duty to declare the obstinately impenitent uncapable of communion with the church, and to charge him to forbear it, and the {557} church to avoid him. 10. It is the people's duty to avoid such accordingly, and have no familiarity with them, that they may be ashamed; and with such, no, not to eat. 11. It is the pastor's duty to absolve the penitent, declaring the remission of their sin, and re-admitting to the communion of the saints. 12. It is the people's duty to re-admit the absolved to their communion with joy, and to take them as brethren in the Lord.[29] 13. Though every pastor hath a general power to exercise his office in any part of the church, where he shall be truly called to it; yet every pastor hath a special obligation (and consequently a special power) to do it over the flock, of which he hath received the special charge and oversight. 14. The Lord's day is separated by God's appointment for the churches' ordinary holy communion in God's worship under the conduct of these their guides.[30] 15. And it is requisite that the several particular churches do maintain as much agreement among themselves as their capacity will allow them; and keep due synods and correspondences to that end. Thus much of God's worship, and church order and government, at least, is of divine institution, and determined by Scripture, and not left to the will or liberty of man. Thus far the form of government (at least) is of divine right.

But on the contrary, 1. About doctrine and worship; the Scripture is no law in any of these following cases, but hath left them undetermined. (1.) There are many natural truths which the Scripture meddleth not with: as physics, metaphysics, logic, &c. (2.) Scripture telleth not a minister what particular text or subject he shall preach on this day or that. (3.) Nor what method his text or subject shall be opened and handled in. (4.) Nor what day of the week besides the Lord's day he shall preach, nor what hour on the Lord's day he shall begin. (5.) Nor in what particular place the church shall meet. (6.) Nor what particular sins we shall most confess; nor what personal mercies we shall at this present time first ask; nor for what we shall now most copiously give thanks: for special occasions must determine all these. (7.) Nor what particular chapter we shall now read; nor what particular psalm we shall now sing. (8.) Nor what particular translation of the Scripture, or version of the Psalms, we shall now use. Nor into what sections to distribute the Scripture, as we do by chapters and verses. Nor whether the Bible shall be printed or written, or in what characters, or how bound. (9.) Nor just by what sign I shall express my consent to the truths or duties which I am called to express consent to (besides the sacraments and ordinary words). (10.) Nor whether I shall use written notes to help my memory in preaching, or preach without. (11.) Nor whether I shall use a writing or book in prayer, or pray without. (12.) Nor whether I shall use the same words in preaching and prayer, or various new expressions. (13.) Nor what utensils in holy administration I shall use; as a temple or an ordinary house, a pulpit, a font, a table, cups, cushions, and many such, which belong to the several parts of worship. (14.) Nor in what particular gesture we shall preach, or read, or hear. (15.) Nor what particular garments ministers or people shall wear in time of worship. (16.) Nor what natural or artificial helps to our natural faculties we shall use; as medicaments for the voice, tunes, musical instruments, spectacles, hour-glasses: these and such like are undetermined in Scripture, and are left to be determined by human prudence, not as men please; but as means in order to the proper end, according to the general laws of Christ.[31] For Scripture is a general law for all such circumstances, but not a particular law.

So also for order and government, Scripture hath not particularly determined, 1. What individual persons shall be the pastors of the church. 2. Or of just how many persons the congregation shall consist. 3. Or how the pastors shall divide their work where there are many. 4. Nor how many every church shall have. 5. Nor what particular people shall be a pastor's special charge. 6. Nor what individual persons he shall baptize, receive to communion, admonish, or absolve. 7. Nor in what words most of these shall be expressed. 8. Nor what number of pastors shall meet in synods, for the communion and agreement of several churches, nor how oft, nor at what time or place, nor what particular order shall be among them in their consultations; with many such like.

When you thus understand how far Scripture is a law to you in the worship of God, it will be the greatest direction to you, to keep you both from disobeying God and your superiors; that you may neither pretend obedience to man for your disobedience to God, nor pretend obedience to God against your due obedience to your governors, as those will do that think Scripture is a more particular rule than ever Christ intended it: and it will prevent abundance of unnecessary scruples, contentions, and divisions.

What commands of God are not universal nor perpetual.

Direct. XII. Observe well in Scripture the difference between Christ's universal laws, (which bind all his subjects in all times and places,) and those that are but local, personal, or alterable laws; lest you think that you are bound to all that ever God bound any others to. The universal laws and unalterable are those which result from the foundation of the universal and unalterable nature of persons and things, and those which God hath supernaturally revealed as suitable constantly to all. The particular, local, or temporary laws are those, which either resulted from a particular or alterable nature of persons and things as mutually related, (as the law of nature bound Adam's sons to marry their sisters, which bindeth others against it,) or those which God supernaturally enacted only for some particular people or person, or for the time. If you should mistake all the Jewish laws for universal laws, (as to persons or duration,) into how many errors would it lead you! So also if you mistake every personal mandate sent by a prophet or apostle to a particular man, as obliging all, you would make a snare of it. Every man is not to abstain from vineyards and wine as the Rechabites were; nor every man to go forth to preach in the garb as Christ sent the twelve and seventy disciples; nor every man to administer or receive the Lord's supper in an upper room of a house, in the evening, with eleven or twelve only, &c.; nor every one to carry Paul's cloak and parchments, nor go up and down on the messages which some were sent on. And here (in precepts about {558} worship) you must know what is the thing primarily intended in the command, and what it is that is but a subservient means; for many laws are universal and immutable as to the matter primarily intended, which are but local and temporary as to the matter subservient and secondarily intended. As the command of saluting one another with a holy kiss, and using love-feasts in their sacred communion, primarily intended the exercising and expressing holy love by such convenient signs as were then in use, and suitable to those times; but that it be done by those particular signs, was subservient, and a local, alterable law; as appeareth, 1. In that it is actually laid down by God's allowance. 2. In that in other places and times the same signs have not the same signification and aptitude to that use at all, and therefore would be no such expression of love; or else have also some ill signification. So it was the first way of baptizing to dip them over-head; which was fit in that hot country, which in colder countries it would not be, as being destructive to health, and more against modesty; therefore it is plain that it was but a local, alterable law. The same is to be said of not eating things strangled, and blood, which was occasioned by the offence of the Jews; and other the like. This is the case in almost all precepts about the external worshipping gestures: the thing that God commandeth universally is a humble, reverent adoration of him by the mind and body. Now the adoration of the mind is still the same; but the bodily expression altereth according to the custom of countries: in most countries kneeling or prostration are the expressions of greatest veneration and submission: in some few countries it is more signified by sitting with the face covered with their hands: in some it is signified best by standing: kneeling is ordinarily most fit, because it is the most common sign of humble reverence; but where it is not so, it is not fit. The same we must say of other gestures, and of habits: the women among the Corinthians were not to go uncovered because of the angels, 1 Cor. xi. 10, and yet in some places, where long hair or covering may have a contrary signification, the case may be contrary. The very fourth commandment, however it was a perpetual law as to the proportion of time, yet was alterable as to the seventh day. Those which I call universal laws, some call moral; but that is no term of distinction, but signifieth the common nature of all laws, which are for the governing of our manners. Some call them natural laws, and the other positive: but the truth is, there are some laws of nature which are universal, and some that are particular, as they are the result of universal or particular nature: and there are some laws of nature that are perpetual, which are the result of an unaltered foundation: and there are some that are temporary, when it is some temporary, alterable thing in nature from whence the duty doth result: so there are some positive laws that are universal or unalterable, (during this world,) and some that are local, particular, or temporary only.[32]

Direct. XIII. Remember that whatever duty you seem obliged to perform, the obligation still supposeth that it is not naturally impossible to you, and therefore you are bound to do it as well as you can: and when other men's force, or your natural disability, hindereth you from doing it as you would, you are not therefore disobliged from doing it at all; but the total omission is worse than the defective performance of it, as the defective performance is worse than the doing of it more perfectly.[33] And in such a case the defects which are utterly involuntary are none of yours imputatively at all, but his that hindereth you (unless as some other sin might cause that). As if I were in a country where I could have liberty to read and pray, but not to preach, or to preach only once a month and no more; it is my duty to do so much as I can do, as being much better than nothing, and not to forbear all, because I cannot do all.

Object. But you must forbear no part of your duty? Answ. True: but nothing is my duty which is naturally impossible for me to do. Either I can do it, or I cannot: if I can, I must (supposing it a duty in all other respects); but if I cannot, I am not bound to it.

Object. But it is not suffering that must deter you, for that is a carnal reason: and your suffering may do more good than your preaching. Answ. Suffering is considerable either as a pain to the flesh, or as an irresistible hinderance of the work of the gospel: as it is merely a pain to the flesh, I ought not to be deterred by it from the work of God; but as it forcibly hindereth me from that work, (as by imprisonment, death, cutting out the tongue, &c.) I may lawfully foresee it, and by lawful means avoid it, when it is sincerely for the work of Christ, and not for the saving of the flesh. If Paul foresaw that the preaching of one more sermon at Damascus was like to hinder his preaching any more, because the Jews watched the gates day and night to kill him, it was Paul's duty to be let down by the wall in a basket, and to escape, and preach elsewhere, Acts ix. 25. And when the christians could not safely meet publicly, they met in secret, as John xix. 38; Acts xii. 12, &c. Whether Paul's suffering at Damascus for preaching one more sermon, or his preaching more elsewhere, was to be chosen, the interest of Christ and the gospel must direct him to resolve: that which is best for the church, is to be chosen.

Direct. XIV. Remember that no material duty is formally a duty at all times: that which is a duty in its season, is no duty out of season. Affirmative precepts bind not to all times (except only to habits, or the secret intention of our ultimate end, so far as is sufficient to animate and actuate the means, while we are waking and have the use of reason). Praying and preaching, that are very great duties, may be so unseasonably performed, as to be sins: if forbearing a prayer, or sermon, or sacrament one day or month, be rationally like to procure your help or liberty to do it afterward, when that once or few times doing it were like to hinder you from doing it any more, it would be your duty then to forbear it for that time (unless in some extraordinary case): for even for the life of an ox or an ass, and for mercy to men's bodies, the rest and holy work of a sabbath might be interrupted; much more for the souls of many. Again I warn you, as you must not pretend the interest of the end against a peremptory, absolute command of God, so must you not easily conclude a command to be absolute and peremptory to that which certainly contradicts the end; nor easily take that for a duty, which certainly is no means to that good which is the end of duty, or which is against it. Though yet no seeming aptitude as a means, must make that seem a duty, which the prohibition of God hath made a sin.

Direct. XV. It is ever unseasonable to perform a lesser duty of worship, when a greater should be done; therefore it much concerneth you to be able to discern, when two duties are inconsistent, which is then the greater and to be preferred: in which the interest of the end must much direct you; that being {559} usually the greatest which hath the greatest tendency to the greatest good.

Direct. XVI. Pretend not one part of God's worship against another, when all, in their place and order, may be done. Set not preaching and praying against each other; nor public and private worship against each other; nor internal worship against external; but do all.

Direct. XVII. Let not an inordinate respect to man, or common custom, be too strong a bias to pervert your judgments from the rule of worship; nor yet any groundless prejudice make you distaste that which is not to be disliked. The error on these two extremes doth fill the world with corruption and contentions about the worship of God. Among the papists, and Russians, and other ignorant sorts of christians, abundance of corruptions are continued in God's worship by the mere power of custom, tradition, and education; and all seemeth right to which they have been long used: and hence the churches in south, east, and west continue so long overspread with ignorance, and refuse reformation.[34] And on the other side, mere prejudice makes some so much distaste a prescribed form of prayer, or the way of worship which they have not been used to, and which they have heard some good men speak against, whose judgments they highliest esteemed, that they have not room for sober, impartial reason to deliberate, try, and judge. Factions have engaged most christians in the world into several parties, whereby Satan hath got this great advantage, that instead of worshipping God in love and concord, they lay out their zeal in an envious, bitter, censorious, uncharitable reproaching the manner of each other's worship. And because the interest of their parties requireth this, they think the interest of the church and cause of God requireth it; and that they do God service when they make the religion of other men seem odious: whenas among most christians in the world, the errors of their modes of worship are not so great as the adverse parties represent them (except only the two great crimes of the popish worship: 1. That it is not understood, and so is soulless. 2. They worship bread as God himself, which I am not so able as willing to excuse from being idolatry). Judge not in such cases by passion, partiality, and prejudice.[35]

Direct. XVIII. Yet judge in all such controversies with that reverence and charity which is due to the universal and the primitive church. If you find any thing in God's worship which the primitive or universal church agreed in, you may be sure that it is nothing but what is consistent with acceptable worship; for God never rejected the worship of the primitive or universal church. And it is not so much as to be judged erroneous without great deliberation and very good proof. We must be much more suspicious of our own understandings.

Direct. XIX. In circumstances and modes of worship not forbidden in the word of God, affect not singularity, and do not easily differ from the practice of the church in which you hold communion, nor from the commands or directions of your lawful governors. It is true, if we are forbidden with Daniel to pray, or with the apostles to speak any more in the name of Christ, or are commanded as the three witnesses, Dan. iii. to worship images, we must rather obey God than man;[36] and so in case of any sin that is commanded us: but in case of mere different modes, and circumstances, and order of worship, see that you give authority and the consent of the church where you are their due.

Direct. XX. Look more to your own hearts than to the abilities of the ministers, or the ceremonies or manner of the churches' worship in such lesser things. It is heart-work and heaven-work that the sincere believer comes about; and it is the corruption of his heart that is the heaviest burden, which he groaneth under with the most passionate complaints: a hungry soul, inflamed with love to God and man, and tenderly sensible of the excellency of common truths and duties, would make up many defects in the manner of public administration, and would get nearer God in a defective, imperfect mode of worship, than others can do with the greatest helps;[37] when hypocrites find so little work with their hearts and heaven, that they are taken up about words, and forms, and ceremonies, and external things, applauding their own way, and condemning other men's, and serving Satan under pretence of worshipping God.

[18]   Read on this subject a small book which I have written, called "Catholic Unity."

[19]   See Rom. xiv. xv; 1 Cor. viii. 13.

[20]   Lev. xix. 2; xx. 7; 1 Pet. i. 16.

[21]   The second commandment. Cicero de Nat. Deor. lib. i. p. 46, saith, that Possidonius believed that Epicurus thought there was no God, but put a scorn upon him by describing him like a man, idle, careless, &c. which he would not have done if he had thought there was a God.

[22]   Matt. xv. 2, 3, 6; Mark vii. 3-14; Col. ii. 8, 18, 22.

[23]   But with the barbarous it is otherwise, saith Acosta the Jesuit, p. 249. l. 2. Proderit quam plurimum ritus et signa et omnem externum cultum diligenter curare. His quippe et delectantur et detinentur homines animales (N. B.) donec paulatim aboleatur memoria et gustus præteritorum. So Gr. Nyssen saith in vita Gr. Neocœs. that they turned the pagans' festivals into festivals for the martyrs, to please them the better. Which Beda and many others relate of the practice of those times.

[24]   Rom. iii. 7.

[25]   Read Plutarch of Superstition.

[26]   Isa. ii. 3; i. 10; xlii. 4; Mic. iv. 2; Heb iii. 2, 3, 5; x. 28: Acts vii. 37, 38; iii. 23; Psal. xix. 7; Isa. v. 24.

[27]   Rom. xiii. 9; Matt. xxii. 37; Isa. viii. 16, 20; Acts viii. 25; xv. 35, 36; xxvi. 17, 18; 1 John i. 9; Neh. i. 6; Lev. xvi. 21; Phil. iv. 6; Psal. l. 14; lxix. 30; c. 1, 2, 4; Eph. v. 19; Psal. ix. 11; xcv. 1; Luke xi. 2, 3, &c.; Matt. xxviii. 19; 1 Cor. xi. 23-26, 28; xiv. 5, 12, 26; 2 Cor. x. 8; xiii. 10; Rom. xv. 2; 1 Cor. xiv. 40; Rom. xiv. 15, 20; 1 Cor. ix. 20-22; viii. 10; x. 19, 28; 2 Cor. vi. 16.

[28]   Second commandment, Col. ii. 18, &c.; 1 John v. 21; Rev. ii. 14.

[29]   Matt. xxviii. 19: Rom. x. 7, 8; Acts xiv. 23; ii. 42; xx. 7, 28; Eph. iv. 11, 14; Mal. ii. 7; Ezek. iii. 17, 21; 1 Cor. xii. 17, 28; Col. i. 28; Acts xxvi. 18; 1 Thess. v. 12; Heb. xiii. 7, 17; Acts viii. 37; ii. 37, 38; viii 20, 23; 1 Cor. x. 16; ix. 13, 14; Acts xx.; 2 Cor. ii. 11; Heb. xii. 15; Deut. x. 8; 2 Tim. iv. 1-3; Matt. xviii. 15-17; 2 Thess. iii.; 1 Cor. v. 11; 2 John 10, 11; Tit. iii. 10; 1 Cor. v. 3-8; Rom. xvi. 17; 1 Tim. v. 17; Luke x. 16; xii. 42; Acts xiii. 23.

[30]   Tit. i. 5, 9; 1 Tim. iii. 5; 1 Pet. v. 1-4; Rev. i. 10; Acts xx. 7; 1 Cor. xvi. 2.

[31]   Of which I have spoken more fully in my Disput. 5. of Church Government, p. 400, &c.

[32]   See the advertisement before my book against Infidelity.

[33]   See Mr. Truman's book of Natural and Moral Impotency.

[34]   Majus fidei impedimentum ex inveterata consuetudine proficiscitur: ubique consuetudo magnas vires habet; sed in barbaris longe maximas: quippe ubi rationis est minimum, ibi consuetudo radices profundissimas agit. In omni natura motio eo diuturnior ac vehementior, quo magis est ad unum determinata. Jos. Acosta de Ind. l. 2. p. 249.

[35]   See Bishop Jer. Taylor's late book against Popery.

[36]   Acts iv. 17, 18; v. 28.

[37]   Jam. iii. 15-17.



Though the first part of this book is little more than an explication of the christian covenant with God, yet being here to speak of baptism as a part of God's worship, it is needful that I briefly speak also of the covenant itself.

Direct. I. It is a matter of great importance that you well understand the nature of the christian covenant, what it is. I shall therefore here briefly open the nature of it, and then speak of the reasons of it; and then of the solemnizing it by baptism, and next of our renewing it, and lastly of our keeping it.

The covenant what.

The christian covenant is a contract between God and man, through the mediation of Jesus Christ, for the return and reconciliation of sinners unto God, and their justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification by him, to his glory.

Here we must first consider, who are the parties in the covenant. 2. What is the matter of the covenant on God's part. 3. What is the matter on man's part. 4. What are the terms of it propounded on God's part. 5. Where and how he doth express it. 6. What are the necessary qualifications on man's part. 7. And what are the ends and benefits of it.

I. The parties are God and man: God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost on the one part, and repenting, believing sinners on the other part. Man is the party that needeth it; but God is the party that first offereth it. Here note, 1. That God's part of the covenant is made universally and conditionally with all mankind, (as to the tenor exacted,) and so is in being before we were born. 2. That it is not the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, considered simply as persons in the Godhead; but as related to man for the ends of the covenant. 3. That it is only sinners that this covenant is made with, because the use of it is for the restoration of those that broke a former covenant in Adam. It is a covenant of reconciliation, and therefore supposeth an enmity antecedent. 4. When {560} I say that it is repenting and believing sinners that are the party, I mean, (1.) That taking the covenant in its first act, it is repentance and faith themselves that are the act, and are our very covenanting. (2.) But taking the covenant in its external expression, so it is a repenting, believing sinner that must take it, it being but the expression of his repentance and faith, by an explicit contract with God. 5. Note, that though God's covenant be by one universal act, (of which more anon,) yet man's is to be made by the several acts of the individual persons each one for himself, and not by the acts of societies only.

II. The matter of the covenant on God's part is in general, that he will be our God: more particularly, that God the Father will be our reconciled God and Father in Jesus Christ; that God the Son will be our Saviour; and God the Holy Ghost will be our Sanctifier. And the relation of a God to us essentially containeth these three parts: 1. That as on the title of creation and redemption he is our Owner, so he doth take us as his own peculiar people. 2. That as he hath title to be our absolute King or Governor, so he doth take us as his subjects. 3. That he will be our grand Benefactor and felicity, or our most loving Father (which compriseth all the rest). And as he will be thus related to us, so he will do for us all that these relations do import. As, 1. He will do all that belongeth to a Creator for his creature, in our preservation and supplies. 2. He will save us from our sins, and from his wrath and hell. 3. And he will sanctify us to a perfect conformity to our Head. Also, 1. He will use and defend us as his own peculiar ones. 2. He will govern us by a law of grace and righteousness. 3. He will make us fully happy in his love for ever.

III. The matter on man's part of the covenant is, 1. In respect of the terminus a quo, that we will forsake the flesh, the world, and the devil, as they are adverse to our relations and duties to God. 2. In regard of the terminus ad quem, that we will take the Lord for our God: and more particularly, 1. That we do take God the Father for our reconciled Father in Jesus Christ, and do give up ourselves to him as creatures to their Maker. 2. That we do take Jesus Christ for our Redeemer, Saviour, and Mediator, as our High Priest, and Prophet, and King, and do give up ourselves to him as his redeemed ones to be reconciled to God, and saved by him. 3. That we do take the Holy Ghost for our Regenerator and Sanctifier, and do give up ourselves to be perfectly renewed and sanctified by him, and by his operations carried on to God in his holy service. Also, 1. That we do take God for our absolute Lord or Owner, and do give up ourselves to him as his own. 2. That we take him for our universal, sovereign Governor, and do give up ourselves unto him as his subjects. 3. That we do take him for our most bountiful Benefactor, and loving Father, and felicity, and do give up ourselves to him as his children, to seek him, and please him, and perfectly to love him, delight in him, and enjoy him for ever in heaven as our ultimate end. And in consenting to these relations, we covenant to do the duties of them in sincerity.

IV. The terms or conditions which God requireth of man in his covenant are, consent, and fidelity or performance: he first consenteth conditionally, if we will consent; and he consenteth to be actually our God, when we consent to be his people: so that as bare consent, without any performance, doth found the relation between husband and wife, master and servant, prince and people; but the sincere performance of the duties of the relation which we consent to, are needful afterward to continue the relation, and attain the benefits and ends; so is it also between God and man. We are his children in covenant as soon as we consent; but we shall not be glorified but on condition of sincere performance and obedience.

V. God's covenant with man is nothing else but the universal promise in the gospel; and (to the solemnization) the declaration, and application, and solemn investiture or delivery by his authorized ministers. 1. The gospel, as it relateth the matters of fact in and about the work of our redemption, is a sacred history. 2. As it containeth the terms on which God will be served, and commandeth us to obey them for our salvation, it is called the law of Christ or grace. 3. As it containeth the promise of life and salvation conditionally offered, it is called God's promise, and covenant (viz. on his part, as it is proposed only). 4. When by our consent the condition is so far performed, or the covenant accepted, then God's conditional, universal promise or covenant, becometh actual and particular as to the effect; and so the covenant becometh mutual between God and man: as if a king make an act or law of pardon and oblivion to a nation of rebels, saying, Whoever cometh in by such a day, and confesseth his fault, and sueth out his pardon, and promiseth fidelity for the future, shall be pardoned. This act is a law in one respect, and it is a universal, conditional pardon of all those rebels; or a promise of pardon; and an offer of pardon to all that it is revealed to: but it is an actual pardon to those that come in, and conferreth on them the benefits of the act as if they were named in it, and is their very title to their pardon, of which their consent is the condition; and the condition being performed, the pardon or collation of the benefit becometh particular and actual, without any new act; it being the sense of the law itself, or conditional grant, that so it should do. So as to the reality of the internal covenant interest and benefits, justification and adoption, it is ours by virtue of this universal conditional covenant, when we perform the condition. But as to our title in foro ecclesiæ, and the due solemnization and investiture, it is made ours when God's minister applieth it to us in baptism by his commission; as the rebel that was fundamentally pardoned by the act of oblivion, must yet have his personal pardon delivered him by the lord chancellor under the great seal. In this sense ministers are the instruments of God, not only in declaring us to be pardoned, but in delivering to us the pardon of our sins, and solemnly investing us therein: as an attorney delivereth possession to one that before had his fundamental title. Thus God entereth into covenant with man.

VI. The qualifications of absolute necessity to the validity of our covenant with God in foro interiori, are these: 1. That we understand what we do as to all the essentials of the covenant; for ignorantis non est consensus. 2. That it be our own act, performed by our natural or legal selves, that is, some one that hath power so far to dispose of us (as parents have of their children). 3. That it be deliberate, sober, and rational, done by one that is compos mentis, in his wits, and not in drunkenness, madness, or incogitancy.[38] 4. That it be seriously done with a real intention of doing the thing, and not histrionically, ludicrously, or in jest. 5. That it be done entirely {561} as to all essential parts; for if we leave out any essential part of the covenant, it is no sufficient consent (as to consent that Christ shall be our Justifier, but not the Holy Ghost our Sanctifier). 6. That it be a present consent to be presently in covenant with God: for to consent that you will be his servants to-morrow or hereafter, but not yet, is but to purpose to be in covenant with him hereafter, and is no present covenanting with him. 7. Lastly, it must be a resolved and absolute consent, without any open or secret exceptions or reserves.

VII. The fruits of the covenant which God reapeth, (though he need nothing,) is the pleasing of his good and gracious will, in the exercise of his love and mercy, and the praise and glory of his grace, in his people's love and happiness for ever. The fruits or benefits which accrue to man are unspeakable, and would require a volume competently to open them: especially that God is our God, and Christ our Saviour, Head, Intercessor, and Teacher, and the Holy Ghost is our Sanctifier; and that God will regard us as his own, and will protect us, preserve us, and provide for us, and will govern us, and be our God and joy for ever; that he will pardon us, justify, and adopt us, and glorify us with his Son in heaven.

Direct. II. When you thus understand well the nature of the covenant, labour to understand the special reasons of it. The reasons of the matter of the covenant you may see in the fruits and benefits now mentioned. But I now speak of the reason of it as a covenant in genere, and such a covenant in specie.

1. In general, God will have man to receive life or death as an accepter and keeper, or a refuser or breaker, of his covenant, because he will do it not only as a Benefactor, or absolute Lord, but also as a Governor, and will make his covenant to be also his law, and his promise and benefits to promote obedience; and because he will deal with man as with a free agent, and not as with a brute that hath no choosing and refusing power, conducted by reason: man's life and death shall be in his own hands, and still depend upon his own will; though God will secure his own dominion, interest, and ends, and put nothing out of his own power by putting it into man's; nor have ever the less his own will, by leaving man to his own will. God will at last, as a righteous Judge, determine all the world to their final joy or punishment, according to their own choice while they were in the flesh, and according to what they have done in the body, whether it be good or evil, Matt. xxv. Therefore he will deal with us on covenant terms.

2. And he hath chosen to rule and judge men according to a covenant of grace, by a Redeemer, and not according to a rigorous law of works, that his goodness and mercy may be the fullier manifested to the sons of men; and that it may be easier for men to love him, when they have so wonderful demonstrations of his love; and so that their service here, and their work and happiness hereafter, may consist of love, to the glory of his goodness, and the pleasure of his love for ever.

Direct. III. Next understand rightly the nature, use, and end of baptism. Baptism is to the mutual covenant between God and man, what the solemnization of marriage is to them that do before consent; or what the listing a soldier by giving him colours, and writing his name, is to one that consented before to be a soldier.[39] In my "Universal Concord," p. 29, 30, I have thus described it: |External baptism, what.|Baptism is a holy sacrament instituted by Christ, in which a person professing the christian faith (or the infant of such) is baptized in water into the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost, in signification and solemnization of the holy covenant, in which as a penitent believer (or the seed of such) he giveth up himself (or is by the parent given up) to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, forsaking the devil, the world, and the flesh, and is solemnly entered a visible member of Christ and his church, a pardoned, regenerate child of God, and an heir of heaven.

As the word baptism is taken for the mere administration or external ordinance, so the internal covenanting or faith and repentance of the (adult) person to be baptized, is no essential part of it, nor requisite to the being of it; but only the profession of such a faith and repentance, and the external entering of the covenant; but as baptism is taken for the ordinance as performed in all its essential parts, according to the true intent of Christ in his institution (that is, in the first and proper meaning of the word); so the internal covenanting of a penitent, sincere believer, is necessary to the being of it. And indeed the word baptism is taken but equivocally or analogically at most, when it is taken for the mere external administration and action: for God doth not institute worship ordinances for bodily motion only; when he speaketh to man, and requireth worship of man, he speaketh to him as to a man, and requireth human actions from him, even the work of the soul, and not the words of a parrot, or the motion of a puppet. Therefore the word baptism in the first and proper signification, doth take in the inward actions of the heart, as well as the outward professions and actions. |Complete baptism, what it is.|And in this proper sense baptism is the mutual covenant between God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and a penitent believing sinner, solemnized by the washing of water, in which as a sacrament of his own appointment God doth engage himself to be the God and reconciled Father, the Saviour and the Sanctifier, of the believer, and taketh him for his reconciled child in Christ, and delivereth to him, by solemn investiture, the pardon of all his sins, and title to the mercies of this life and of that which is to come. What I say in this description of a penitent believer, is also to be understood of the children of such that are dedicated by them in baptism to God, who thereupon have their portion in the same covenant of grace.

The word baptism is taken in the first sense when Simon Magus is said to be baptized, Acts xxviii. And when we speak of it only in the ecclesiastic sense, as it is true baptism in foro ecclesiæ; but it is taken in the latter sense when it is spoken of as the complete ordinance of God, in the sense of the institution, and as respecting the proper ends of baptism, as pardon of sin and life eternal; and in foro cœli.

In this full and proper sense it is taken by Christ when he saith, Mark xvi. 16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;" that is, he that believeth, and is by baptism entered into the covenant of God; and in this sense the ancients took it, when they affirmed that all that were baptized were regenerated, pardoned, and made the children of God. And in this sense it is most true, that he that is baptized (that is, is a sincere covenanter) shall be saved if he die in that condition that he is then in.[40] All that the minister warrantably baptizeth, are sacramentally {562} regenerate, and are in foro ecclesiæ members of Christ, and children of God, and heirs of heaven: but it is only those that are sincerely delivered up in covenant to God in Christ, that are spiritually and really regenerate, and are such as shall be owned for members of Christ and children of God in foro cœli. Therefore it is not unfit that the minister call the baptized, regenerate and pardoned members of Christ, and children of God, and heirs of heaven, supposing that in foro ecclesiæ they were the due subjects of baptism. But if the persons be such as ought not to be baptized, the sin then is not in calling baptized persons regenerate, but in baptizing those that ought not to have been baptized, and to whom the seal of the covenant was not due.

None ought to be baptized but those that either personally deliver up themselves in covenant to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, professing a true repentance, and faith, and consent to the covenant; or else are thus delivered up, and dedicated, and entered into covenant in their infancy, by those that, being christians themselves, have so much interest in them and power of them, that their act may be esteemed as the infants' act, and legally imputed to them as if themselves had done it. If any others are unduly baptized, they have hereby no title to the pardon of sin or life eternal, nor are they taken by God to be in covenant, as having no way consented to it.

Direct. IV. When you enter a child into the christian covenant with God, address yourselves to it as to one of the greatest works in the world; as those that know the greatness of the benefit, of the duty, and of the danger. The benefit to them that are sincere in the covenant, is no less than to have the pardon of all our sins, and to have God himself to be our God and Father, and Christ our Saviour, and the Holy Ghost our Sanctifier, and to have title to the blessings of this life and of that to come. And for the duty, how great a work it is for a sinner to enter into so solemn a covenant with the God of heaven, for reconciliation and newness of life, and for salvation! And therefore if any should abuse God by hypocrisy, and take on them to consent to the terms of the covenant, (for themselves, or their children,) when indeed they do not, the danger of such profaneness and abuse of God must needs be great. Do it therefore with that due preparation, reverence, and seriousness, as beseemeth those that are transacting a business of such unspeakable importance with God Almighty.

Direct. V. Having been entered in your infancy into the covenant of God by your parents, you must, at years of discretion, review the covenant which by them you made, and renew it personally yourselves; and this with as great seriousness and resolution as if you were now first to enter and subscribe it, and as if your everlasting life or death were to depend on the sincerity of your consent and performance. For your infant baptismal covenanting will save none of you that live to years of discretion, and do not as heartily own it in their own persons, as if they had been now to be baptized. But this I pass by, having said so much of it in my "Book of Confirmation."

Of renewing the covenant oft.

Direct. VI. Your covenant thus, 1. Made; 2. Solemnized by baptism; 3. And owned at age; must, 4. Be frequently renewed through the whole course of your lives. As, (1.) Your first consent must be habitually continued all your days; for if that ceaseth, your grace and title to the benefits of God's covenant ceaseth. (2.) This covenant is virtually renewed in every act of worship to God; for you speak to him as your God in covenant, and offer yourselves to him as his covenanted people. (3.) This covenant should be actually renewed frequently in prayer and meditation, and other such acts of communion with God. (4.) Especially when after a fall we beg the pardon of our sins, and the mercies of the covenant, and on days of humiliation and thanksgiving, and in great distresses, or exhilarating mercies. (5.) And the Lord's supper is an ordinance instituted to this very end. It is no small part of our christian diligence and watchfulness, to keep up and renew our covenant consent.

Direct. VII. And as careful must you be to keep or perform your covenant, as to enter it, and renew it; which is done, 1. By continuing our consent; 2. By sincere obedience; 3. And by perseverance. We do not (nor dare not) promise to obey perfectly, nor promise to be as obedient as the higher and better sort of christians, though we desire both; but to obey sincerely we must needs promise, because we must needs perform it.

Obedience is sincere, 1. When the radical consent or subjection of the heart to God in Christ is habitually and heartily continued. 2. When God's interest in us is most predominant, and his authority and law can do more with us, than any fleshly lust or worldly interest, or than the authority, word, or persuasions of any man whosoever. 3. When we unfeignedly desire to be perfect, and habitually and ordinarily have a predominant love to all that is good, and a hatred to that which is evil; and had rather do our duty than be excused from it, and rather be saved from our sin than keep it.

Direct. VIII. While you sincerely consent unto the covenant, live by faith upon the promised benefits of it, believing that God will make good on his part all that he hath promised. Take it for your title to pardon, sonship, and eternal life. O think what a mercy it is to have God in covenant with you to be your God, your Father, Saviour, Sanctifier, and felicity! And in this continually rejoice.

[38]   Quis vero non doleat baptismo plerosque adultos initio passim et nostro tempore non raro ante perfundi quam christianam catechesin vel mediocriter teneant, neque an flagitiosæ et superstitiosæ vitæ pœnitentia tangantur, neque vero id ipsum quod accipiunt, an velint accipere, satis constet. Acosta, l. vi. c. 2. p. 520. Nisi petant et instent, christianæ vitæ professione donandi non sunt. Idem. p. 521. And again, While ignorant or wicked men do hasten any how, by right or wrong, by guile or force, to make the barbarous people christians, they do nothing else but make the gospel a scorn, and certainly destroy the deserters of a rashly undertaken faith. Id. ibid. p. 522.

[39]   See the "Reformed Liturgy," p. 68.

[40]   Read the Propositions of the Synod in New England, and the Defence of them against Mr. Davenport, about the subject of Baptism.



Direct. I. Understand first how great a duty the profession of true religion is, that you may not think as some foolish people, that every man should conceal his religion, or keep it to himself.[41] Observe therefore these reasons following which require it.

1. Our tongues and bodies are made to exercise and show forth that acknowledgment and adoration of God which is in our hearts. And as he denieth God with the heart who doth not believe in him and worship him in his heart, so he denieth God imputatively with his tongue and life, who doth not profess and honour him with his tongue and life; and so he is a practical atheist. Isa. xlv. 23-25, "I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely shall one say, In the Lord have I {563} righteousness and strength—In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory." So Phil. ii. 9-11, "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow—and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Isa. xliv. 5, "One shall say, I am the Lord's; and another shall call him by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel."

2. The public assemblies, and worship of God, are purposely appointed by him, that in them we might make open profession of our religion. He that denieth profession, denieth the public faith and worship of the church, and denieth baptism and the Lord's supper, which are sacraments appointed for the solemn profession of our faith.

3. Our profession is needful to our glorifying God. Men see not our hearts, nor know whether we believe in God or not, nor what we believe of him, till they hear or see it in our profession and actions. Paul's life and death was a profession of Christ, that in his "boldness Christ might be magnified in his body," Phil. i. 20. Matt. v. 14-16, "Ye are the light of the world: a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle to put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

4. Our profession is the means of saving others: that which is secret, is no means to profit them. They must see our good works that they may glorify God, Phil. i. 12-14.

5. God hath required our open and bold profession of him, with the strictest commands, and upon the greatest penalties. 1 Pet. v. 3, "Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." Rom. x. 9, 10, "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Mark viii. 38, "Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."[42]

Direct. II. Next, understand what it is in religion that you must principally profess.[43] It is not every lesser truth, much less every opinion of your own, in which you are confident that you are wiser than your brethren. This is the meaning of Rom. xiv. 22, "Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God." By "faith" here is not meant the substance of the christian belief, or any one necessary article of it. But a belief of the indifferency of such things as Paul spake of, in meats and drinks. If thou know these things to be lawful when thy weak brother doth not, and so thou be wiser than he, thank God for thy knowledge, and use it to thy own salvation; but do not proudly and uncharitably contend for it, and use it uncharitably to the danger of another's soul, much less to the wrong of the church and gospel, and the hinderance of greater truths. 2 Tim. ii. 14, "Of these things put them in remembrance," (that is, of the saints' hope in God's faithfulness,) "charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but the subverting of the hearers." Yet "for the faith we must earnestly contend," Jude 2, 3. 2 Tim. ii. 23, 24, "But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strife. And the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle to all men."

But that which is the chiefest matter of our profession is, The being and perfections of God himself; his love to man, and power over him, and man's subjection and obligations unto God; the person, and office, and works, and benefits of our Redeemer, with all the duty that we owe to him in perfect holiness, and all the hopes that we have in him; the happiness of the saints, the odiousness of sin, and the misery of the wicked. These, and such as these, are things that we are called to profess; yet so as not to deny or renounce the smallest truth.

Direct. III. Understand also the manner how we must make profession of religion. 1. There is a professing by words, and a professing by actions. 2. There is a solemn profession by God's public ordinances, and an occasional or privater profession by conference, or by our conversations. And all these ways must religion be professed.

Direct. IV. Understand also the season of each sort of profession, that you omit not the season, nor do it unseasonably. 1. Profession by baptism, Lord's supper, and church assemblies, must be done in their season, which the church guides are the conductors of. 2. Profession by an innocent, blameless, obedient life is never out of season. 3. Profession by private conference, and by occasional acts of piety, must be when opportunity inviteth us, and they are likely to attain their ends. 4. The whole frame of a believer's life should be so holy, and heavenly, and mortified, and above the world, as may amount to a serious profession that he liveth in confident hope of the life to come, and may show the world the difference between a worldling and an heir of heaven; between corrupted nature and true grace. The professors of godliness must be a peculiar people, zealous of good works, and adorned with them.[44]

Direct. V. Take special care that your profession be sincere, and that you be yourselves as good as you profess to be. Otherwise, 1. Your profession will condemn yourselves. 2. And it will dishonour the truth which you deceitfully profess. There can scarce a greater injury befall a good cause, than to have a bad and shameful patron to defend it. Rom. ii. 3, "And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and dost the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God." Verse 23-25, "Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles through you—."

Direct. VI. Let not your profession be so much of your own sincerity as of God and his excellencies: boast not of yourselves, but of God and Christ, and the promise, and the hope of true believers; and do it to God's praise, and not for your own. Be sure that in all your profession of religion, you be seeking honour to God, and not unto yourselves. And then in this manner he that doubteth of his own sincerity, yet may and must make profession of Christ and true religion; when you cannot proclaim the uprightness of your own hearts, you may boldly proclaim the excellencies of religion, and the happiness of saints.

Direct. VII. Live upon God alone, and trust his {564} all-sufficiency, and abhor that pusillanimity and baseness of spirit which maketh men afraid or ashamed openly to own the truth. Remember the example of your Lord, who before Pontius Pilate "witnessed a good confession," 1 Tim. vi. 13; who came "for this end into the world, to bear witness to the truth," John xviii. 37. Fear not the face of man, whose breath is in his nostrils, and is perishing even while he is threatening.[45] If thou believe not that Christ can secure thee from the rage of man, thou believest not indeed in Christ. If thou believe not that heaven will satisfy for all that by scorns or cruelties thou sufferest from sinners, thou hast not indeed the hope of a believer. And no wonder if thou profess not that which thou believest not. But if thou believe that God is God, and Christ is Christ, and heaven is heaven, and the gospel is true, thou hast enough in thy belief to secure thee against all the scorns and cruelties of man, and to tell thee that Christ will bear thy charges, in all that thou sufferest for his sake. Oh what abundance are secretly convinced of the truth, and their consciences bear witness to the wisdom of the saints, and a holy life; and yet they dare not openly own and stand to the truth which they are convinced of for fear of being mocked by the tongues of the profane, or for fear of losing their places and preferments! O wretch, dost thou not tremble when thou art ashamed of Christ, to think of the day when he will be ashamed of thee? Then when he comes in glory none will be ashamed of him! Then where is the tongue that mocked him and his servants? Who then will deride his holy ways? Then that will be the greatest glory, which thou art now ashamed of. Canst thou believe that day, and yet hide thy profession, through cowardly fear or shame of man? Is man so great, and is Christ no greater in thine eyes than so? If he be not more regardable than man, believe not in him: if he be, regard him more; and let not a worm be preferred before thy Saviour.

Direct. VIII. If any doubt arise, whether thou shouldest now make particular profession of the truth, (as in the presence of scorners, or when required by magistrates or others, &c.) let not the advice or interest of the flesh have any hand at all in the resolving of the case; but let it be wholly determined as the interest of Christ requireth. Spare thyself when the interest of Christ requireth it; not for thyself, but for him. But when his interest is most promoted by thy suffering, rejoice that thou art any way capable of serving him.[46]

Direct. IX. Though sometimes a particular profession of the faith may be unseasonable, yet you must never make any profession of the contrary, either by words or actions. Truth may be sometimes silenced, but a lie may never be professed or approved.

Direct. X. If any that profess christianity reproach you for the profession of holiness and diligence, convince them that they hypocritically profess the same, and that holiness is essential to christianity: open their baptismal covenant to them, and the Lord's prayer, in which they daily pray that God's will may be done on earth even as it is in heaven, which is more strictly than the best of us can reach. The difference between them and you is but this, whether we should be christians hypocritically in jest, or in good earnest.

[41]   Nemo jam infamiam incutiat; nemo aliud existimet: quin nec fas est ulli de sua religione mentiri. Ex eo enim quod aliud a se coli dicit quam colit, et culturam et honorem in alterum transferendo, jam non colit quod negavit: dicimus, et palam dicimus et vobis torquentibus lacerati et cruenti vociferamur, Deum colimus per Christum. Tertul. Apolog. c. 11.

[42]   2 Tim. ii. 12; Matt. x. 32, 33; Luke ix. 26.

[43]   1 Cor. viii. 1; 2 Cor. x. 8; Rom. xv. 2; 1 Tim. i. 4; Tit. iii. 9.

[44]   Tit. ii. 14; 1 Tim. ii. 10.

[45]   The Arians under Valens, and the Vandals, still silenced the orthodox preachers and forbad their meetings, and yet the people adhered to their pastors and kept their meetings, while they could. Sæpius prohibitum est ut sacerdotes vestri conventus minime celebrarent, nec sua seditione animas subverterunt christianas. Præcept. Hunner. in Victor. Utic. p. 414.

[46]   Matt. x. 18, 23, 32, 33, 38, 39; xii. 14, 15; xiv. 13; John x. 39; Heb. xi. 27; Acts ix. 25.



Tit. 1. Directions for the Right Making such Vows and Covenants.

What a vow is.

Direct. I. Understand the nature of a vow, and the use to which it is appointed.

A vow is a promise made to God. 1. It is not a bare assertion or negation. 2. It is not a mere pollicitation, or expression of the purpose or resolution of the mind: for he that saith or meaneth no more than, I am purposed or resolved to do this, may upon sufficient reason do the contrary; for he may change his mind and resolution, without any untruth or injury to any. 3. It is not a mere devoting of a thing to God for the present by actual resignation. For the present actual delivery of a thing to sacred uses is no promise for the future: though we usually join them both together, yet devovere may be separated from vovere. 4. It must be therefore a promise, which is, a voluntary obliging ones self to another de futuro for some good. 5. It is therefore implied that it be the act of a rational creature, and of one that in that act hath some competent use of reason, and not of a fool, or idiot, or mad-man, or a child that hath not reason for such an act, no nor of a brain-sick or melancholy person, who (though he be cætera sanus) is either delirant in that business, or is irresistibly borne down and necessitated by his disease to vow against the sober, deliberate conclusion of his reason at other times, having at the time of vowing, reason enough to strive against the act, but not self-government enough to restrain a passionate, melancholy vow. 6. Whereas some casuists make deliberation necessary, it must be understood that to the being of a vow so much deliberation is requisite as may make it a rational human act, it must be an act of reason; but for any further deliberation, it is necessary only to the well-being, and not to the being of a vow, and without it it is a rash vow, but not no vow.[47] 7. When we say, it must be a voluntary act, the meaning is not that it must be totally and absolutely voluntary, without any fear or threatening to induce us to it; but only that it be really voluntary, that is, an act of choice, by a free agent, that considering all things doth choose so to do. He that hath a sword set to his breast, and doth swear or vow to save his life, doth do it voluntarily, as choosing rather to do it than to die. Man having free-will, may choose rather to die, than vow, if he think best: his will may be moved by fear, but cannot be forced by any one, or any means whatsoever. 8. When I say that a vow is a promise, I imply that the matter of it is necessarily some real or supposed good; to be good, or to do good, or not to do evil. Evil may be the matter of an oath, but it is not properly a vow, if the matter be not supposed good. 9. It is a promise made to God, that we are now speaking of; whether the name of a vow belong to a promise made only to man, is a question de nomine, which we need not stop at.


The sorts of vows.

A vow is either a simple promise to God, or a promise bound with an oath or imprecation. Some would appropriate the name of a vow to this last sort only, (when men swear they will do this or that,) which indeed is the most formidable sort of vowing; but the true nature of a vow is found also in a simple self-obliging promise.

The use of vows.

The true reason and use of vows is but for the more certain and effectual performance of our duties: not to make new laws, and duties, and religions for us, but to drive on the backward, lingering soul to do its duty, and to break over difficulties and delays: that by strengthening our bonds, and setting the danger before our eyes, we may be excited to escape it.

The obligation of vows.

It is a great question, whether our own vows can add any new obligation to that which before lay upon us from the command of God. Amesius saith, (Cas. Consc. lib. iv. c. 16.) Non additur proprie in istis nova obligatio, neque augetur in se prior: sed magis agnoscitur et recipitur a nobis: passive in istis æque fuimus antea obligati: sed activa recognitione arctius nobis applicatur a nobismetipsis. Others commonly speak of an additional obligation; and indeed there is a double obligation added by a vow, to that which God before had laid on us, to the matter of that vow. Premising this distinction between obligatio imponentis, a governing obligation, (which is the effect of governing right or authority,) and obligatio consentientis, a self-obliging by voluntary consent, (which is the effect of that dominion which a rational free agent hath over his own actions,) I say, 1. He that voweth doth oblige himself, who before was obliged by God only; and that a man hath a power to oblige himself, is discerned by the light of nature, and is the ground of the law of nations, and of human converse: and though this is no divine obligation, yet it is not therefore none at all. 2. But moreover he that voweth doth induce upon himself a new divine obligation, by making himself the subject of it. For example; God hath said, "Honour the Lord with thy substance:" this command obligeth me to obey it whether I vow it or not. The same God hath said, "Pay thy vows to the Most High," Psal. l. 14; and, "When thou vowest a vow to God, defer not to pay it," Eccles. v. 4. This layeth no obligation on me till I vow; but when I have vowed it doth: so that now I am under a double divine obligation, (one to the matter of the duty, and another to keep my vow,) and under a self-obligation of my own vow: whence also a greater penalty will be due if I now offend, than else would have been.

Hence you may see what to think of the common determination of casuists concerning vows materially sinful, when they say, a man is not obliged to keep them. It is only thus far true, that God obligeth him not to do that particular thing which he voweth, for God had before forbidden it, and he changeth not his laws upon man's rash vowings; but yet there is a self-obligation which he laid upon himself to do it: and this self-obligation to a sinful act, was itself a sin, and to be repented of, and not performed; but it bringeth the person under a double obligation to penalty, as a perjured person, even God's obligation who bindeth the perjured to penalty, and the obligation of his own consent to the punishment, if there was any oath or imprecation in the vow. If it were true that such a person had brought himself under no obligation at all, then he could not be properly called perjured, nor punished as perjured; but he that sweareth and voweth to do evil, (as the Jews to kill Paul,) though he ought not to do the thing, (because God forbiddeth it,) yet he is a perjured person for breaking his vow, and deserveth the penalty, not only of a rash vower, but of one perjured. Thus error may make a man sinful and miserable, though it cannot warrant him to sin.

Direct. II. Try well the matter of your vows, and venture not on them till you are sure that they are not things forbidden: things sinful or doubtful are not fit matter for a vow: in asserting, subscribing, and witnessing, you should take care, that you know assuredly that the matter be true, and venture not upon that which may prove false; much more should you take care that you venture not doubtingly in vows and oaths. They are matters to be handled with dread and tenderness, and not to be played with, and rashly ventured on, as if it were but the speaking of a common word: "Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter any thing before God," Eccles. v. 2. It is a grievous snare that men are oft brought into by ignorant and rash vows;[48] as the case of Jephthah, and Herod, and many another tell us for our warning: an error in such cases is much more safely and cheaply discerned before, than afterwards. To have a rash vow or perjury to repent of, is to set a bone in joint, or pull a thorn out of your very eye; and who would choose such pain and smart? "Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thy hands," Eccles. v. 6. "It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make inquiry," Prov. xx. 25. Be careful and deliberate to prevent such snares.

Direct. III. Vow not in a passion: stay till the storm be over: whether it be anger or desire, or whatever the passion be, delay and deliberate before you vow; for when passion is up, the judgment is upon great disadvantage. In your passion you are apt to be most peremptory and confident when you are most deceived: if it be your duty to vow, it will be your duty to-morrow when you are calm. If you say, that duty must not be delayed, and that you must do it while the Spirit moveth you: I answer, Was it not as much a duty before your passion was kindled as now? It is no sinful delaying of so great a duty, to stay till you have well proved whether it be of God. If it be the Spirit of Christ that moveth you to it, he will be willing that you deliberate and try it by that word which the same Spirit hath indited to be your rule. God's Spirit worketh principally upon the judgment and the will, by settled convictions, which will endure a rational trial: it is liker to be your own spirit which worketh principally on the passion, and will not endure the trial, nor come into the light, John iii. 18, 19; Isa. viii. 20.

Direct. IV. Make not a vow of things indifferent and unnecessary: if they be not good, in a true, comparing, practical judgment, which considereth all accidents and circumstances, they are no fit matter for a vow. Some say, things indifferent are the fittest matter both for vows and human laws; but either they speak improperly or untruly, and therefore dangerously at the best. If an idle word be a sin, then an idle action is not a thing to be vowed, because it is not a thing to be done, being as truly a sin as an idle word: and that which is wholly indifferent {566} is idle; for if it be good for any thing, it is not wholly indifferent; and because it is antecedently useless, it is consequently sinful to be done.

Object. I. But those that say things indifferent may be vowed, mean not, things useless or unprofitable to any good end; but only those things that are good and useful, but not commanded: such as are the matter of God's counsels, and tend to man's perfection, as to vow chastity, poverty, and absolute obedience.

Answ. There are no such things as are morally good, and not commanded: this is the fiction of men that have a mind to accuse God's laws and government of imperfection, and think sinful man can do better than he is commanded, when none but Christ ever did so well.[49]

Quest. I. What is moral goodness in any creature and subject, but a conformity to his ruler's will expressed in his law? And if this conformity be its very form and being, it cannot be that any thing should be morally good that is not commanded.

Quest. II. Doth not the law of God command us to love him with all our heart, and soul, and strength, and accordingly to serve him? And is it possible to give him more than all; or can God come after and counsel us to give him more than is possible?

Quest. III. Doth not the law of nature oblige us to serve God to the utmost of our power? He that denieth it, is become unnatural, and must deny God to be God, or deny himself to be his rational creature: for nothing is more clear in nature, than that the creature who is nothing, and hath nothing but from God, and is absolutely his own, doth owe him all that he is able to do.

Quest. IV. Doth not Christ determine the case to his disciples, Luke xvii. 10?

A middle between good and evil in morality is a contradiction: there is no such thing; for good and evil are the whole of morality: without these species there is no morality.

Object. II. It seems then you hold that there is nothing indifferent, which is a paradox.

Whether any things be indifferent?

Answ. No such matter: there are thousands and millions of things that are indifferent; but they are things natural only, and not things moral. They are indifferent as to moral good and evil, because they are neither; but they are not indifferentia moralia: the indifferency is a negation of any morality in them in genere, as well as of both the species of morality.[50] Whatsoever participateth not of virtue or vice, and is not eligible or refusable by a moral agent as such, hath no morality in it. There may be two words so equal as it may be indifferent which you speak; and two eggs so equal, as that it may be indifferent which you eat; but that is no more than to say, the choosing of one before the other is not actus moralis: there is no matter of morality in the choice.

Object. III. But if there may be things natural that are indifferent, why not things moral?

Answ. As goodness is convertible with entity, there is no natural being but is good: as goodness signifieth commodity, there is nothing but is profitable or hurtful, and that is good to one that is hurtful to another: but if it were not so, yet such goodness or badness is but accidental to natural being; but moral goodness and badness is the whole essence of morality.

Object. IV. But doth not the apostle say, "He that marrieth doth well, and he that marrieth not doth better?" Therefore all is not sin which is not best.

Whether marrying be indifferent?

Answ. The question put to the apostle to decide, was about marrying or not marrying, as it belonged to all christians in general, and not as it belonged to this or that individual person by some special reason differently from others. And so in respect to the church in general, the apostle determineth that there is no law binding them to marry, or not to marry: for a law that is made for many must be suited to what is common to those many. Now marriage being good for one and not for another, is not made the matter of a common law, nor is it fit to be so, and so far is left indifferent: but because that to most it was rather a hinderance to good in those times of the church, than a help, therefore for the present necessity, the apostle calleth marrying "doing well," because it was not against any universal law, and it was a state that was suitable to some; but he calls not marrying "doing better," because it was then more ordinarily suited to the ends of christianity. Now God maketh not a distinct law for every individual person in the church; but one universal law for all: and this being a thing variable according to the various cases of individual persons, was unfit to be particularly determined by a universal law. But if the question had been only of any one individual person, then the decision would have been thus: though marrying is a thing not directly commanded or forbidden, yet to some it is helpful as to moral ends, to some it is hurtful, and to some it is so equal or indifferent, that it is neither discernibly helpful nor hurtful; now by the general laws or rules of Scripture to them that consideratis considerandis it is discernibly helpful, it is not indifferent, but a duty; to them that it is discernibly hurtful, it is not indifferent, but a sin; to them that it is neither discernibly helpful or hurtful as to moral ends, it is indifferent, as being neither duty nor sin; for it is not a thing of moral choice or nature at all. But the light of nature telleth us that God hath not left it indifferent to men to hinder themselves or to help themselves as to moral ends; else why pray we, "Lead us not into temptation?" And marriage is so great a help to some, and so great a hurt to others, that no man can say that it is morally indifferent to all men in the world: and therefore that being none of the apostle's meaning, it followeth that his meaning is as aforesaid.

Object. V. But there are many things indifferent in themselves, though not as clothed with all their accidents and circumstances: and these actions being good in their accidents, may be the matter of a vow.

Answ. True, but those actions are commanded duties, and not things indifferent as so circumstantiated. It is very few actions in the world that are made simply duties or sins, in their simple nature without their circumstances and accidents: the commonest matter of all God's laws, is actions or dispositions which are good or evil in their circumstances and accidents. Therefore I conclude, things wholly indifferent are not to be vowed.

Direct. V. It is not every duty that is the matter of a lawful vow. Else you might have as many vows as duties: every good thought, and word, and deed might have a vow. And then every sin which you commit would be accompanied and aggravated with the guilt of perjury. And no wise man would {567} run his soul into such a snare. Object. But do we not in baptism vow obedience to God? And doth not obedience contain every particular duty? Answ. We vow sincere obedience, but not perfect obedience. We do not vow that we will never sin, nor neglect a duty (nor ought we to do so). So that as sincere obedience respecteth every known duty as that which we shall practise in the bent of our lives, but not in perfect constancy or degree, so far our vow in baptism hath respect to all known duties, but no further.

Direct. VI. To make a vow lawful, besides the goodness of the thing which we vow, there must be a rational, discernible probability, that the act of vowing it will do more good than hurt; and this to a wise, foreseeing judgment. For this vowing is not an ordinary worship to be offered to God (except the baptismal vow, renewed in the Lord's supper and at other seasons); but it is left as an extraordinary means, for certain ends, which cannot by ordinary means be attained: and therefore we must discern the season, by discerning the necessity or usefulness of it. Swearing is a part of the service of God, but not of his daily worship, nor frequently and rashly to be used, by any that would not be held guilty of taking the name of God in vain: and so it is in the case of vowing. Therefore he that will make a lawful vow, must see beforehand, what is the probable benefit of it, and what is the probable hurt or danger: and without this foresight it must be rash, and cannot be lawful. And therefore no one can make a lawful vow, but wise, foreseeing persons, and those that advise with such, and are guided by them, if they be not such themselves; unless in a case where God hath prescribed by his own determining commands (as in the covenant of christianity). Therefore to one man the same vow may be a sin, that to another may be a duty; because one may have more reason for it, or necessity of it, and less danger by it, than another. One man may foresee that vowing (in case where there is no necessity) may insnare him either in perplexing doubts, or terrors, which will make all his life after more irregular or uncomfortable. Another man may discern that he is liable to no such danger.[51]

Direct. VII. No man should pretend danger or scruple against his renewing the vow of christianity, or any one essential part of it; viz. To take God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost for my God, and Saviour, and Sanctifier, my Owner, Governor, and Father; renouncing the devil, the world, and the flesh. Because there is an absolute necessity, præcepti et medii, of performing this, and he that doth it not shall certainly be damned; and therefore no worse matter can stand up against it: he that denieth it, giveth up himself despairingly to damnation. Yet I have heard many say, I dare not promise to turn to God, and live a holy life, lest I break this promise, and be worse than before. But dost thou not know, that it must be both made and kept, if thou wilt be saved? Wilt thou choose to be damned, for fear of worse? There is but one remedy for thy soul, and all the hope of thy salvation lieth upon that alone. And wilt thou refuse that one, for fear lest thou cast it up and die? when thou shalt certainly die unless thou both take it, and keep it, and digest it.

Direct. VIII. About particular sins and duties, deliberate resolutions are the ordinary means of governing our lives; and vows must not be used where these will do the work without them. For extraordinary means must not be used, when ordinary will serve the turn. Nor must you needlessly draw a double guilt upon yourselves in case of sinning. And in mutable or doubtful cases, a resolution may be changed, when a vow cannot. Try therefore what deliberate resolutions will do, with the help of other ordinary means, before you go any further.

Direct. IX. When ordinary resolutions and other helps will not serve the turn, to engage the will to the forbearance of a known sin, or the performance of a known duty, but temptations are so strong as to bear down all, then it is seasonable to bind ourselves by a solemn vow, so it be cautelously and deliberately done, and no greater danger like to follow. In such a case of necessity, 1. You must deliberate on the benefits and need. 2. You must foresee all the assaults that you are like to have to tempt you to perjury, that they come not unexpected. 3. You must join the use of all other means for the keeping of your vows.

Direct. X. Make not a law and religion to yourselves by your voluntary vows, which God never made you by his authority; nor bind yourselves for futurity to all that is a duty at present, where it is possible that the change of things may change your duty. God is our King and Governor, and not we ourselves: it is not we, but he, that must give laws to us. We have work enough to do of his appointing; we need not make more to ourselves, as if he had not given us enough. Vows are not to make us new duties or religions, but to further us in the obedience of that which our Lord hath imposed on us. It is a self-condemning sin of foolish will-worshippers, to be busy in laying more burdens on themselves, when they know they cannot do so much as God requireth of them. Yea, some of them murmur at God's laws as too strict, and at the observers of them as too precise, (though they come far short of what is their duty,) and yet will be cutting out more work for themselves.

And it is not enough that what you vow be your duty at the present, but you must bind yourselves to it by vows no longer than it shall remain your duty. It may be your duty at the present to live a single life; but if you will vow therefore that you will never marry, you may bind yourselves to that which may prove your sin: you know not what alterations may befall you in your body or estate, that may invite you to it. Are you sure that no change shall make it necessary to you? Or will you presume to bind God himself by your vows, that he shall make no such alteration? Or if you were never so confident of your own unchangeableness, you know not what fond and violent affections another may be possessed with, which may make an alteration in your duty. At the present it may be your duty to live retiredly, and avoid magistracy and public employments: but you may not vow it therefore for continuance; for you know not but God may make such alterations, as may make it so great and plain a duty, as without flat impiety or cruelty, you cannot refuse. Perhaps at the present it may be your duty to give half your yearly revenues to charitable and pious uses: but you must not therefore vow it for continuance (without some special cause to warrant it); for perhaps the next year it may be your duty to give but a fourth or a tenth part, or none at all, according as the providence of God shall dispose of {568} your estate and you. Perhaps God may impose a clear necessity on you, of using your estate some other way.

Direct. XI. If you be under government, you may not lawfully vow without your governors' consent, to do any thing which you may not lawfully do without their consent, in case you had not vowed it. For that were, 1. Actually to disobey them at the present, by making a vow without the direction and consent of your governors. 2. And thereby to bind yourselves to disobey them for the future, by doing that without them, which you should not do without them. But if it be a thing that you may do, or must do, though your governors forbid you, then you may vow it though they forbid you (if you have a call from the necessity of the vow).

Direct. XII. If oaths be commanded us by usurpers that have no authority to impose them, we must not take them in formal obedience to their commands. For that were to own their usurpation and encourage them in their sin. If we owe them no obedience in any thing, we must not obey them in so great a thing: or if they have some authority over us in other matters, but none in this, (as a constable hath no power to give an oath,) we must not obey them in the point where they have no authority. But yet it is possible that there may be other reasons that may make it our duty to do it, though not as an act of formal obedience: as I may take an oath when a thief or murderer requireth it, not to obey him, but to save my life. And if any man command me to do that which God commandeth me, I must do it, because God commandeth it.

Direct. XIII. If a lawful magistrate impose an oath or vow upon you, before you take it you must consult with God, and know that it is not against his will. God must be first obeyed in all things; but especially in matters of so great moment, as vows and promises.

Quest. I. What if I be in doubt whether the oath or promise imposed be lawful? must I take it, or not? If I take an oath which I judge unlawful or false, I am a perjured or profane despiser of God: and if a man must refuse all oaths or promises, which the magistrate commandeth, if he do but doubt whether they be lawful, then government and justice will be injured, while every man that hath ignorance enough to make him dubious, shall refuse all oaths and promises of allegiance, or for witness to the truth.

Answ. I. I shall tell you what others say first in the case of doubting. Dr. Sanderson saith, Prælect. iii. sect. 10, p. 74, 75, Tertius casus est cum quis juramento pollicetur se facturum aliquid in se fortassis licitum, quod tamen ipse putat esse illicitum. Ut siquis ante hæc tempora admittendus ad beneficium (ut vocant) ecclesiasticum, promisisset in publicis sacris observare omnes ritus legibus ecclesiasticis imperatos; vestem scilicet lineam, crucis signum ad sacrum fontem, ingeniculationem in percipiendis symbolis in sacra cœna, et id genus alios; quos ipse tamen ex aliquo levi prejudicio putaret esse superstitiosos et papisticos: quæritur in hoc casu quæ sit obligatio? Pro Resp. dico tria: Dico 1. Non posse tale juramentum durante tali errore sine gravi peccato suscipi. Peccat enim graviter qui contra conscientiam peccat, etsi erroneam. Judicium enim intellectus cum sit unicuique proxima agendi regula; voluntas, si judicium illud non sequatur, deficiens a regula sua, necesse est ut in obliquum feratur. Tritum est illud, Qui facit contra conscientiam ædificat ad gehennam. Sane qui jurat in id quod putat esse illicitum, nihilominus juraturus esset, si esset revera illicitum: atque ita res illa, ut ut alii licita, est tamen ipsi illicita: sententiam ferente apostolo, Rom. xiv. 14, &c. Dico 2. Tale juramentum non obligare, &c.—— That is, The third case is, when a man promiseth by oath that he will do a thing which in itself perhaps is lawful, but he thinketh to be unlawful: as if one before these times being to be admitted to an ecclesiastical benefice, (as they call it,) had promised, that in public worship he would observe all the rites commanded in the ecclesiastic laws, to wit, the surplice, the sign of the cross at the sacred font, kneeling in the receiving of the symbols in the holy supper, and others the like; which yet out of some light prejudice, he thought to be superstitious and papistical. The question is, what obligation there is in this case? For answer I say three things: 1. I say that an oath, while such an error lasteth, cannot be taken without grievous sin; for he grievously sinneth, who sinneth against his conscience, although it be erroneous. For when the judgment of the intellect is to every man the nearest rule of action, it must be that the will is carried into obliquity, if it follow not that judgment, as swerving from its rule. It is a common saying, He that doth against his conscience, buildeth unto hell: verily he that sweareth to that which he thinketh to be unlawful, would nevertheless swear if it were indeed unlawful. And so the thing, though lawful to another, is to him unlawful, the apostle passing the sentence, Rom. xiv. 14, &c. 2. I say, that such an oath bindeth not, &c.—— Of the obligation I shall speak anon;[52] but of the oath or promise, I think the truth lieth here as followeth.

1. The question de esse must first be resolved, before the question of knowing or opinion. Either the thing is really lawful which is doubted of, or denied, or it is not. If it be not, then it is a sin to swear or promise to it; and here there is no case of error. But if it be really lawful, and the vowing of it lawful, then the obligations that lie upon this man are these, and in this order: (1.) To have a humble suspicion of his own understanding. (2.) To search, and learn, and use all means to discern it to be what it is. (3.) In the use of these means to acknowledge the truth. (4.) And then to promise and obey accordingly. Now this being his duty, and the order of his duty, you cannot say that he is not obliged to any one part of it, though he be obliged to do it all in this order, and therefore not to do the last first, without the former: for though you question an hundred times, What shall he do as long as he cannot see the truth? the law of God is still the same; and his error doth not disoblige him: Nemini debetur commodum ex sua culpa. So many of these acts as he omitteth, so much he sinneth. It is his sin if he obey not the magistrate; and it is his sin that he misjudgeth of the thing; and his sin that he doth not follow the use of the means till he be informed. So that his erring conscience entangleth him in a necessity of sinning; but disobligeth him not at all from his obedience. 2. But yet this is certain, that in such a case, he that will swear because man biddeth him, when he taketh it to be false, is a perjured, profane despiser of God; but he that forbeareth to swear for fear of sinning against God, is guilty only of a pardonable, involuntary weakness.

Direct. XIV. Take heed lest the secret prevalency of carnal ends or interest, and of fleshly wisdom, do bias your judgment, and make you stretch your consciences to take those vows or promises, which otherwise you would judge unlawful, and refuse. Never good cometh by following the reasonings and interest of the flesh, even in smaller matters; much less in cases of such great importance. Men think it fitteth them at the present, and doth the business which they feel most urgent; but it payeth them home with {569} troubles and perplexities at the last: it is but like a draught of cold water in a fever. You have some present char to do, or some strait to pass through, in which you think that such an oath, or promise, or profession would much accommodate you; and therefore you venture on it, perhaps to your perdition. It is a foolish course to cure the parts (yea, the more ignoble parts) with the neglect and detriment of the whole: it is but like those that cure the itch by anointing themselves with quicksilver; which doth the char for them, and sendeth them after to their graves, or casteth them into some far worse disease. Remember how deceitful a thing the heart is, and how subtly such poison of carnal ends will insinuate itself. Oh how many thousands hath this undone! that before they are aware, have their wills first charmed and inclined to the forbidden thing, and fain would have it to be lawful; and then have brought themselves to believe it lawful, and so to commit the sin; and next to defend it, and next to become the champions of Satan, to fight his battles, and vilify and abuse them, that by holy wisdom and tenderness have kept themselves from the deceit.

Tit. 2. Directions against Perjury and Perfidiousness: Land for keeping Vows and Oaths.

Direct. I. Be sure that you have just apprehension of the greatness of the sin of perjury.[53] Were it seen of men in its proper shape, it would more affright them from it than a sight of the devil himself would do. I shall show it you in part in these particulars.

The heinousness of perjury.

1. It containeth a lie, and hath all the malignity in it which I before showed to be in lying, with much more. 2. Perjury is a denial or contempt of God. He that appealeth to his judgment by an oath, and doth this in falsehood,[54] doth show that either he believeth not that there is a God,[55] or that he believeth not that he is the righteous Governor of the world, who will justly determine all the causes that belong to his tribunal. The perjured person doth as it were bid defiance to God, and setteth him at nought, as one that is not able to be avenged on him. 3. Perjury is a calling for the vengeance of God against yourselves. You invite God to plague you, as if you bid him do his worst: you appeal to him for judgment in your guilt, and you shall find that he will not hold you guiltless. Imprecations against yourselves are implied in your oaths: he that sweareth doth say in effect, Let God judge and punish me as a perjured wretch, if I speak not the truth. And it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, for vengeance is his and he will recompence, Heb. x. 30, 31: and when he judgeth the wicked, "he is a consuming fire," Heb. xii. 29. 4. Perjury and perfidiousness are sins that leave the conscience no ease of an extenuation or excuse; but it is so heinous a villany, that it is the seed of self-tormenting desperation. Some sins conscience can make shift a while to hide, by saying, It is a controversy; and, Many wise men are of another mind; but perjury is a sin which heathens and infidels bear as free a testimony against (in their way) as christians do. Some sins are shifted off by saying, They are little ones. But[56] christians and heathens are agreed that perjury is a sin almost as great as the devil can teach his servants to commit. Saith Plutarch,[57] He that deceiveth his enemy by an oath, doth confess thereby, that he feareth his enemy, and despiseth God. Saith Cicero, The penalty of perjury is destruction from God, and shame from man. Saith Q. Curtius, Perfidiousness is a crime which no merits can mitigate. Read Cicero de Offic. lib. iii. Saith Aristotle, He that will extenuate an oath, must say, that those villanous wretches that think God seeth not, do think also to go away with their perjury unpunished. In a word, the heathens commonly take the revenge of perjury to belong in so special a manner to the gods, that they conclude that man, and usually his posterity, to be destinated to ruin, that is perjured and perfidious: insomuch that it is written[58] of Agesilaus and many others, that when their enemies were perjured, and broke their covenants, they took it for a sign of victory, and the best prognostic of their success against them. Plutarch recordeth this story of Clemens, that having made a truce for seven days with the Argives, he set upon them, and killed and took many of them in the night; and when he was charged with perfidiousness, answered, I made not a truce with them for seven nights, but for seven days. But the women fetched arms out of the temples of the gods, and repulsed him with shame, and he ran mad, and with his sword did mangle his own body, and died in a most hideous manner. When conscience is awakened to see such a sin as perjury, no wonder if such run mad, or hang themselves; as perfidious Ahithophel and Judas did. No doubt but everlasting horror and desperation will be the end of such, if true conversion do not prevent it. 5. It is a sin that ruineth families and societies,[59] like fire that being kindled in the thatch, never stoppeth till it have consumed all the house. Though "the curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked, but he blesseth the habitation of the just," Prov. iii. 33; yet among all the wicked, there are few so commonly marked out with their families to shame and ruin, as the perjured. Whatever nation is stigmatized with a fides Punica vel Græca, with the brand of perjury, it is not only their greatest infamy, but, like "Lord, have mercy on us" written on your doors, a sign of a destroying plague within.[60] Saith Silius,

Non illi domus aut conjux aut vita manebit Unquam expers luctus, lachrymæque: aget æquore semper Ac tellure premens; aget ægrum nocte dieque; Despecta ac violata fides—

Saith Claudian,

In prolem dilatarunt perjuria patris, Et pœnam merito filius ore luit.—

So Tibullus,

Ah miser: et siquis primo perjuria celat, Sera tamen tacitus pœna venit pedibus.

Saith Pausanias, The fraud that is committed by perjury, falleth upon posterity. 6. Perjury and perfidiousness are virtually treason, rebellion, and murder {570} against kings and magistrates, and no more to be favoured in a kingdom, by a king that loveth his life and safety, than the plague in a city, or poison to the body. Tristissimum et domesticum regibus omnibus pharmacum, liberorum, amicorum et exercitus perfidia, saith Appian. What security have princes of their crowns, or lives, where oaths and covenants seem not obligatory? There is then nothing left but fear of punishment to restrain the violence of any one that would do them mischief; and craft or strength will easily break the bonds of fear. He that would dissolve the bond of oaths, and teach men to make light of perjury, is no more to be endured in a kingdom, than he that openly inviteth the subjects to kill their king, or rise up in rebellion against him. If he that breaketh the least of God's commands, and teacheth men so to do, shall be called least in the kingdom of God, Matt. v. 19, then surely he that breaketh the great commands by the most odious sin of perjury, and teacheth men so to do, should neither be great, nor any thing, in the kingdoms of men. 7. Perjury is the poison of all societies, and of friendship, and of human converse, and turneth all into a state of enmity, or hostility, and teacheth all men to live together like foes. He that is not to be believed when he sweareth, is never to be believed: and when oaths and covenants signify nothing, and no man can believe another, what are they but as so many foes to one another? How can there be any relations of governors and subjects? of husband and wife? of master and servants? or how can there be any trading or commerce, when there is no trust? Perjury dissolveth all societies by loosening all the bonds of association. Well might Dionys. Halic. lib. iii. say, The perfidious are far worse than open enemies, and worthy of far greater punishment. For a man may more easily avoid the ambushments of foes, and repel their assaults, than escape the perfidiousness of seeming friends. Saith Val. Max. lib. ix. c. 6, Perfidiousness is a hidden and insnaring mischief; whose effectual force is in lying and deceiving: its fruit consisteth in some horrid villany; which is ripe and sure when it hath compassed cruelty with wicked hands; bringing as great mischief to mankind, as fidelity bringeth good and safety. He that teacheth the doctrine of perjury and perfidiousness, doth bid every man shift for himself, and trust no more his friend or neighbour, but all take heed of one another, as so many serpents or wild beasts. Lions and bears may better be suffered to live loose among men, than those that teach men to make light of oaths. 8. Thus also it destroyeth personal love, and teacheth all men to be haters of each other: for it can be no better when men become such hateful creatures to each other, as not at all to be credited or sociably conversed with. 9. Perjury and perfidiousness do proclaim men deplorate; and stigmatize them with this character, that they are persons that will stick at the committing of no kind of villany in the world, further than their fleshly interest hindereth them. No charity bindeth a man to think that he will make conscience of murder, rebellion, deceit, adultery, or any imaginable wickedness, who maketh no conscience of perjury and perfidiousness. Such a person alloweth you to judge that if the temptation serve, he will do any thing that the devil bids him: and that he is virtually a compound of all iniquity, and prepared for every evil work. 10. Lastly, as perjury doth thus dissolve societies, and turn mankind into enmity with each other, so it would make the misery uncurable, by making even penitents incredible. Who will believe him, even while he professeth to repent, that hath showed that when he sweareth he is not to be believed? He that dare forswear himself, dare lie when he pretendeth repentance for his perjury. It must be some deeds that are more credible than words and oaths, that must recover the credit of such a man's professions. If perjury have violated any relations, it leaveth the breach almost uncurable, because no professions of repentance or future fidelity can be trusted. Thus I have partly showed you the malignity of perjury and covenant-breaking.

Direct. II. Be sure that you make no vow or covenant which God hath forbidden you to keep. It is rash vowing and swearing which is the common cause of perjury. You should, at the making of your vow, have seen into the bottom of it, and foreseen all the evils that might follow it, and the temptations which were like to draw you into perjury. He is virtually perjured as soon as he hath sworn, who sweareth to do that which he must not do; the preventive means are here the best.

Direct. III. Be sure you take no oath or vow which you are not sincerely resolved to perform.[61] They that swear or vow with a secret reserve, that rather than they will be ruined by keeping it, they will break it, are habitually and reputatively perjured persons, even before they break it; besides that, they show a base, hypocritical, profligate conscience, that can deliberately commit so great a sin.

Direct. IV. See that all fleshly, worldly interest be fully subdued to the interest of your souls, and to the will of God. He that at the heart sets more by his body than his soul, and loveth his worldly prosperity above God, will lie, or swear, or forswear, or do any thing to save that carnal interest which he most valueth. He that is carnal and worldly at the heart, is false at the heart; the religion of such a hypocrite will give place to his temporal safety or commodity, and will carry him no further than the way is fair. It is no wonder that a proud man, or a worldling, will renounce both God and his true felicity for the world, seeing indeed he taketh it for his god and his felicity; even as a believer will renounce the world for God.[62]

Direct. V. Beware of inordinate fear of man, and of a distrustful withdrawing of your heart from God. Else you will be carried to comply with the will of man before the will of God, and to avoid the wrath of man before the wrath of God. Read and fear that heavy curse, Jer. xvii. 5, 6. God is unchangeable, and hath commanded you so far to imitate him, as "If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth," Numb. xxx. 2. But man is mutable, and so is his interest and his affairs; and therefore if you are the servants of men, you must swear one year, and forswear it, or swear the contrary, the next: when their interest requireth it, you must not be thought worthy to live among men, if you will not promise or swear as they command you; {571} and when their interest altereth and requireth the contrary, you must hold all those bonds to be but straws, and break them for their ends.

Direct. VI. Be sure that you lose not the fear of God, and the tenderness of your consciences. When these are lost, your understanding, and sense, and life are lost; and you will not stick at the greatest wickedness; nor know when you have done it, what you did. If faith see not God continually present, and foresee not the great approaching day, perjury or any villany will seem tolerable, for worldly ends: for when you look but to men's present case, you will see that "the righteous and the wise, and their works, are in the hands of God; no man knoweth love or hatred by all that is before them. All things come alike to all; there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good, and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath," Eccles. ix. 1, 2. But in the end, men "shall discern between the righteous and the wicked," Mal. iii. 18. Therefore it is the believing foresight of the end, that by preserving the fear of God and tenderness of conscience, must save you from this, and all other heinous sin.

Direct. VII. Be not bold and rash about such dreadful things as vows. Run not as fearlessly upon them as if you were but going to your dinner; the wrath of God is not to be jested with. Usque ad aras, was the bounds even of a heathen's kindness to his friend. Meddle with oaths with the greatest fear, and caution, and circumspection. It is terrible here to find that you were mistaken, through any temerity, or negligence, or secret seduction of a carnal interest.

Direct. VIII. Especially be very fearful of owning any public doctrine, or doing any public act, which tendeth to harden others in their perjury, or to encourage multitudes to commit the sin.[63] To be forsworn yourselves is a dreadful case; but to teach whole nations or churches to forswear themselves, or to plead for it, or justify it as a lawful thing, is much more dreadful. And though you teach not or own not perjury under the name of perjury, yet if first you will make plain perjury to seem no perjury, that so you may justify it, it is still a most inhuman, horrid act. God knoweth I insult not over the papists, with a delight to make any christians odious! but with grief I remember how lamentably they have abused our holy profession, while not only their great doctors, but their approved general council at the Lateran under Pope Innocent the Third, in the third canon hath decreed that the pope may depose temporal lords from their dominions, and give them unto others, and discharge their vassals from their allegiance and fidelity, if they be heretics, or will not exterminate heretics (even such as the holy men there condemned were, in the pope's account). To declare to many christian nations, that it is lawful to break their oaths and promises to their lawful lords and rulers, or their vows to God, and to undertake, by defending or owning this, to justify all those nations that shall be guilty of this perjury and perfidiousness, oh what a horrid crime is this! what a shame even unto human nature! and how great a wrong to the christian name!

Direct. IX. Understand and remember these following rules, to acquaint you how far a vow is obligatory: which I shall give you for the most part out of Dr. Sanderson, because his decisions of these cases are now of best esteem.

Rule I. The general rule laid down Numb. xxx. 2, 3, doth make a vow, as such, to be obligatory, though the party should have a secret equivocation or intent, that though he speak the words to deceive another, yet he will not oblige himself. Such a reserve not to oblige himself hindereth not the obligation, but proveth him a perfidious hypocrite. Dr. Sanderson, p. 23, Juramentum omne ex sua natura est obligatorium: ita ut si quis juret non intendens se obligare, nihilominus tamen suscipiendo juramentum ipso facto obligetur: that is, If he so far understand what he doth, as that his words may bear the definition of an oath or vow; otherwise if he speak the words of an oath in a strange language, thinking they signify something else, or if he speak in his sleep, or deliration, or distraction, it is no oath, and so not obligatory.

Rule II. Those conditions are to be taken as intended in all oaths, (whether expressed or no,) which the very nature of the thing doth necessarily imply[64] (unless any be so brutish as to express the contrary). And these are all reducible to two heads: 1. A natural, and, 2. A moral impossibility. 1. Whoever sweareth to do any thing, or give any thing, is supposed to mean, If I live; and if I be not disabled in my body, faculties, estate; if God make it not impossible to be, &c. For no man can be supposed to mean, I will do it whether God will or not, and whether I live or not, and whether I be able or not. 2. Whoever voweth or sweareth to do any thing, must be understood to mean it, If no change of providence make it a sin; or if I find not, contrary to my present supposition, that God forbiddeth it. For no man that is a christian is to be supposed to mean when he voweth, I will do this, though God forbid it, or though it prove to be a sin; especially when men therefore vow it, because they take it to be a duty. Now as that which is sinful is morally impossible, so there are divers ways by which a thing may appear or become sinful to us. (1.) When we find it forbidden directly in the word of God, which at first we understood not. (2.) When the change of things doth make that a sin, which before was a duty; of which may be given an hundred instances; as when the change of a man's estate, of his opportunities, of his liberty, of his parts and abilities, of objects, of customs, of the laws of civil governors, doth change the very matter of his duty.

Quest. But will every change disoblige us? If not, what change must it be? seeing casuists use to put it as a condition in general, rebus sic stantibus. Answ. No: it is not every change of things that disobligeth us from the bonds of a vow. For then vows were of no considerable signification. But, 1. If the very matter that was vowed, or about which the vow was, do cease, cessante materia, cessat obligatio:[65] as if I promise to teach a pupil, I am disobliged when he is dead. If I promise to pay so much money in gold, and the king should forbid gold and change his coin, I am not obliged to it. 2. Cessante termino vel correlato, cessat obligatio: If the party die to whom I am bound, my personal obligation ceaseth. And so the conjugal bond ceaseth at death, and civil bonds by civil death. 3. Cessante fine, cessat obligatio: If the use and end wholly cease, my obligation, which was only to that use and end, ceaseth. As if a physician promise to give {572} physic for nothing for the cure of the plague, to all the poor of the city; when the plague ceaseth, his end, and so his obligation, ceaseth. 4. Cessante persona naturali relata, cessat obligatio personalis: When the natural person dieth, the obligation ceaseth. I cannot be obliged to do that when I am dead, which is proper to the living. The subject of the obligation ceasing, the accidents must cease. 5. Cessante relatione vel persona civili, cessat obligatio talis, qua talis: The obligation which lay on a person in any relation merely as such, doth cease when that relation ceaseth. A king is not bound to govern or protect his subjects if they traitorously depose him, or if he cast them off, and take another kingdom (as when Henry III. of France left the kingdom of Poland): nor are subjects bound to allegiance and obedience to him that is not indeed their king. A judge, or justice, or constable, or tutor, is no longer bound by his oath to do the offices of these relations, than he continueth in the relation. A divorced wife is not bound by her conjugal vow to her husband as before, nor masters and servants, when their relations cease; nor a soldier to his general by his military sacrament, when the army is disbanded, or he is cashiered or dismissed.

Rule III. No vows or promises of our own can dissolve the obligation laid upon us by the law of God. For we have no co-ordinate, much less superior authority over ourselves; our self-obligations are but for the furthering of our obedience.

Rule IV. Therefore no vows can disoblige a man from any present duty, nor justify him in the committing of any sin. Vows are to engage us to God, and not against him: if the matter which we vow be evil, it is a sin to vow it, and a sin to do it upon pretence of a vow. Sin is no acceptable sacrifice to God.

Rule V. If I vow that I will do some duty better, I am not thereby disobliged from doing it at all, when I am disabled from doing it better.[66] Suppose a magistrate, seeing much amiss in church and commonwealth, doth vow a reformation, and vow against the abuses which he findeth; if now the people's obstinacy and rebellion disable him to perform that vow, it doth not follow that he must lay down his sceptre, and cease to govern them at all, because he cannot do it as he ought, if he were free. So if the pastors of any church do vow the reformation of church abuses, in their places, if they be hindered by their rulers, or by the people, it doth not follow that they must lay down their callings, and not worship God publicly at all, because they cannot do it as they would, and ought if they were free; as long as they may worship him without committing any sin. God's first obligation on me is to worship him, and the second for the manner, to do it as near his order as I can: now if I cannot avoid the imperfections of worship, though I vowed it, I must not therefore avoid the worship itself (as long as corruptions destroy not the very nature of it, and I am put myself upon no actual sin). For I was bound to worship God before my vows, and in order of nature before my obligation de modo: and my vow was made with an implied condition, that the thing were possible and lawful: and when that ceaseth to be possible or lawful which I vowed, I must, nevertheless, do that which still remaineth possible and lawful. To give over God's solemn worship with the church, is no reformation. To prefer no worship before imperfect worship, is a greater deformation and corruption, than to prefer imperfect worship before that which is more perfect. And to prefer a worship imperfect in the manner, before no church worship at all, is a greater reformation than to prefer a more perfect manner of worship before a more imperfect and defective. To worship God decently and in order, supposeth that he must be worshipped; and he that doth not worship at all, doth not worship him decently. If a physician vow that he will administer a certain effectual antidote to all his patients that have the plague, and that he will not administer a certain less effectual preparation, which some apothecaries, through covetousness or carelessness, had brought into common use, to the injury of the sick; his vow is to be interpreted with these exceptions: I will do it if I can, without dishonesty or a greater mischief: I will not administer the sophisticated antidote when I can have better: I vow this for my patients' benefit, and not for their destruction. Therefore if the sophisticated antidote is much better than none, and may save men's lives, and the patients grow wilful and will take no other, or authority forbid the use of any other, the physician is neither bound to forsake his calling rather than use it, nor to neglect the life of his patients (if their lives indeed lie upon his care, and they may not be in some good hopes without him, and the good of many require him not to neglect a few). But he must do what he can, when he cannot do what he would, and only show that he consenteth not to the sophistication.

Rule VI. Though he that voweth a lawful thing, must be understood to mean, if it continue possible and lawful; yet if he himself be the culpable cause that afterwards it becometh impossible or unlawful, he violateth his vow. He that voweth to give so much to the poor, and after prodigally wasteth it, and hath it not to give, doth break his vow; which he doth not if fire or thieves deprive him of it against his will. He that voweth to preach the gospel, if he cut out his own tongue, or culpably procure another to imprison, silence, or hinder him, doth break his vow; which he did not if the hinderance were involuntary and insuperable: consent doth make the impedition his own act.

Rule VII. In the taking and keeping of oaths and vows we must deal simply and openly without equivocation and deceit.[67] Psal. xxiv. 3-5, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation."

Rule VIII. He that juggleth or stretcheth his conscience by fraudulent shifts and interpretations afterwards, is as bad as he that dissembleth in the taking of the oath. To break it by deceit, is as bad as to take it in deceit. Psal. xv. 1, 4, "Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle—he that sweareth to his own hurt and changeth not." Saith Dr. Sanderson,[68] Ista mihi aut non cogitare, &c. "It seemeth to {573} me that the greater part of the men of these times either think not of these things, or at least not seriously; who fear not, at large and in express words, without going about, to swear to all that, whatever it be, which is proposed to them by those that have power to hurt them: yea, and they take themselves for the only wise men, and not without some disdain deride the simplicity and needless fear of those, that lest they hurt their consciences forsooth, do seek a knot in a rush, and oppose the forms prescribed by those that have power to prescribe them. And in the mean time they securely free themselves from all crime and fear of perjury, and think they have looked well to themselves and their consciences, if either when they swear, like Jesuits, they can defend themselves by the help of some tacit equivocation, or mental reservation, or subtle interpretation which is strained and utterly alien from the words; or else after they have sworn can find some thing to slip through, some cunning evasion, as a wise remedy, by which they may so elude their oath, as that keeping the words, the sense may by some sophism be eluded, and all the force of it utterly enervated. The ancient christians knew not this divinity, nor the sounder heathens this moral philosophy. For otherwise saith Augustine, They are perjured, who keeping the words, deceive the expectation of those they swear to: and otherwise saith Cicero," &c. He goeth on to confirm it at large by argument.

Rule IX. An oath is to be taken and interpreted strictly. Sanderson saith,[69] Juramenti obligatio est stricti juris; that is, non ut excludat juris interpretationem æquitate temperatam; sed ut excludat juris interpretationem gratia corruptam: "not as excluding an equitable interpretation, but as excluding an interpretation corrupted by partiality:" that it be a just interpretation, between the extremes of rigid, and favourable or partial; and in doubtful cases it is safer to follow the strict, than the benign or favourable sense. It is dangerous stretching and venturing too far in matters of so sacred a nature, and of such great importance as vows and oaths.

Rule X. In the exposition of such doubtful oaths and vows, 1. We must specially watch against self-interest or commodity, that it corrupt not our understandings. 2. And we must not take our oaths or any part of them in such a sense, as a pious, prudent stander-by that is impartial, and no whit interested in the business, cannot easily find in the words themselves.[70]

Rule XI. In doubtful cases the greatest danger must be most carefully avoided, and the safer side preferred: but the danger of the soul by perjury is the greatest, and therefore no bodily danger should so carefully be avoided: and therefore an oath that in the common and obvious sense seemeth unlawful should not be taken, unless there be very full evidence that it hath another sense. Sand. p. 46, Nititur autem, &c. This reason leaneth on that general and most useful rule, that in doubtful cases we must follow the safer side: but it is safer not to swear, where the words of the oath proposed, do seem according to the common and obvious sense of the words to contain in them something unlawful; than by a loose interpretation so to lenify them for our own ends, that we may the more securely swear them. For it is plain that such an oath may be refused without the peril of perjury; but not that it can be taken without some danger or fear. The same rule must guide us also in keeping vows.

Rule XII. It is ordinarily resolved that imposed oaths must be kept according to the sense of the imposer. See Sanders. p. 191, 192. But I conceive that assertion must be more exactly opened and bounded. 1. Where justice requireth that we have respect to the will or right of the imposer, there the oath imposed must be taken in his sense; but whether it must be kept in his sense is further to be considered. 2. When I have done my best to understand the sense of the imposer in taking the oath, and yet mistake it, and so take it (without fraud) in another sense, the question then is somewhat hard, whether I must keep it in the sense I took it in, or in his sense, which then I understood not. If I must not keep it in my own sense, which I took it in, then it would follow that I must keep another oath, and not that which I took: for it is the sense that is the oath. And I never obliged myself to any thing, but according to my own sense: and yet on the other side, if every man may take oaths in their private sense, then oaths will not attain their ends, nor be any security to the imposers.

In this case you must carefully distinguish between the formal obligation of the oath or vow as such, and the obligation of justice to my neighbour which is a consequent of my vow. And for the former I conceive (with submission) that an oath or vow cannot bind me, formally as such, in any sense but my own in which bona fide I took it. Because formally an oath cannot bind me which I never took: but I never took that which I never meant, nor thought of; if you so define an oath as to take in the sense, which is the soul of it.

But then in regard of the consequential obligation in point of justice unto man, the question I think must be thus resolved: 1. We must distinguish between a lawful imposer or contractor, and a violent usurper or robber that injuriously compelleth us to swear. 2. Between the obvious, usual sense of the words, and an unusual, forced sense. 3. Between a sincere, involuntary misunderstanding the imposer, and a voluntary, fraudulent reservation or private sense. 4. Between one that I owe something to antecedently, and one that I owe nothing to but by the mere self-obligation of my vow. 5. Between an imposer that is himself the culpable cause of my misunderstanding him, and one that is not the cause, but my own weakness or negligence is the cause. 6. Between a case where both senses may be kept, and a case where they cannot, being inconsistent. Upon these distinctions, I thus resolve the question.

Prop. I. If I fraudulently and wilfully take an oath in a sense of my own, contrary to the sense of the imposer, and the common and just sense of the words themselves, I am guilty of perfidiousness and profaneness in the very taking of it.[71]

Prop. II. If it be long of my own culpable ignorance or negligence that I misunderstood the imposer, I am not thereby disobliged from the public sense.

Prop. III. When the imposer openly putteth a sense on the words imposed contrary to the usual, obvious sense, I am to understand him according to his own expression, and not to take the oath, as imposed in any other sense.

Prop. IV. If the imposer refuse or neglect to tell me his sense any otherwise than in the imposed {574} words, I am to take and keep them according to the obvious sense of the words, as they are commonly used in the time and place which I live in.

Prop. V. If it be long of the imposer's obscurity, or refusing to explain himself, or other culpable cause, that I mistook him, I am not bound to keep my oath in his sense, as different from my own (unless there be some other reason for it).

Prop. VI. If the imposer be a robber or usurper, or one that I owe nothing to in justice, but what I oblige myself to by my oath, I am not then bound at all to keep my oath in his sense, if my own sense was according to the common use of the words.

Prop. VII. Though I may not lie to a robber or tyrant that unjustly imposeth promises or oaths upon me, yet if he put an oath or promise on me which is good and lawful in the proper, usual sense of the words, though bad in his sense, (which is contrary to the plain words,) whether I may take this to save my liberty or life, I leave to the consideration of the judicious: that which may be said against it is, that oaths must not be used indirectly and dissemblingly: that which may be said for it is, 1. That I have no obligation to fit my words to his personal, private sense. 2. That I deceive him not, but only permit him to deceive himself, as long as it is he and not I that misuseth the words. 3. That I am to have chief respect to the public sense; and it is not his sense, but mine, that is the public sense. 4. That the saving of a man's life or liberty is cause enough for the taking a lawful oath.

Prop. VIII. In case I misunderstood the imposed oath through my own default, I am bound to keep it in both senses, (my own and the imposer's,) if both be consistent and lawful to be done. For I am bound to it in my own sense, because it was formally my oath or vow which I intended. And I am bound to it in his sense, because I have in justice made the thing his due. As if the king command me to vow that I will serve him in wars against the Turk; and I misunderstand him as if he meant only to serve him with my purse; and so I make a vow with this intent, to expend part of my estate to maintain that war; whereas the true sense was that I should serve him with my person: in this case, I see not but I am bound to both.

Indeed if it were a promise that obliged me only to the king, then I am obliged no further and no longer than he will; for he can remit his own right: but if by a vow I become obliged directly to God himself as a party, then no man can remit his right, and I must perform my vow as made to him.

Rule XIII. If any impose an ambiguous oath, and refuse to explain it, and require you only to swear in these words, and leave you to your own sense, Dr. Sanderson thinketh that an honest man should suspect some fraud in such an oath, and not take it at all till all parties are agreed of the sense.[72] And I think he should not take it at all, unless there be some other cause that maketh it his duty. But if a lawful magistrate command it, or the interest of the church or state require it, I see not but he may take it, on condition that in the plain and proper sense of the words the oath be lawful, and that he openly profess to take it only in that sense.

Rule XIV. If any power should impose an oath, or vow, or promise, which in the proper, usual sense were downright impious, or blasphemous, or sinful, and yet bid me take it in what sense I pleased, though I could take it in such a sense as might make it no real consent to the impiety, yet it would be impious in the sense of the world, and of such heinous consequence as will make it to be unlawful. As if I must subscribe, or say, or swear these words, There is no God; or, Scripture is untrue; though it is easy to use these or any words in a good sense, if I may put what sense I will upon them, yet the public sense of them is blasphemy; and I may not publicly blaspheme, on pretence of a private right sense and intention.

Rule XV. If the oath imposed be true in the strict and proper sense, yet if that sense be not vulgarly known, nor sufficiently manifest to be the imposer's sense, and if the words are false or blasphemous in the vulgar sense of those that I have to do with, and that must observe and make use of my example, I must not take such an oath, without leave to make my sense as public as my oath. As if I were commanded to swear, That God hath no foreknowledge, no knowledge, no will, &c.; it were easy to prove that these terms are spoken primarily of man, and that they are attributed to God but analogically or metaphorically, and that God hath no such human acts formaliter, but eminenter, and that forma dat nomen, and so that strictly it is not knowledge and will in the primary, proper notion, that God hath at all, but something infinitely higher, for which man hath no other name. But though thus the words are true and justifiable in the strictest, proper sense, yet are they unlawful, because they are blasphemy in the vulgar sense: and he that speaks to the vulgar is supposed to speak with the vulgar; unless he as publicly explain them.

Rule XVI. If the supreme power should impose an oath or promise, which in the ordinary, obvious sense were sinful, and an inferior officer would bid me take it in what sense I pleased, I might not therefore take it: because that such an officer hath no power to interpret it himself; much less to allow me to take it in a private sense. But if the lawgiver that imposeth it bid me take it in what sense I will, and give me leave to make my sense as public as my oath, I may take it, if the words be but dubious, and not apparently false or sinful: (so there be no reason against it, aliunde, as from ill consequents, &c.)

Rule XVII. If any man will say in such a case, (when he thinketh that the imposer's sense is bad,) I take not the same oath or engagement which is imposed, but another in the same words, and I suppose not inferior officers authorized to admit any interpretation, but I look at them only as men that can actually execute or not execute the laws upon me; and so I take a vow of my own according to my own sense, though in their words, as a means of my avoiding their severities: as this is a collusion in a very high and tender business, so that person (if the public sense of the oath be sinful) must make his professed sense as public as his oath or promise; it being no small thing to do that which in the public sense is impious, and so to be an example of perfidiousness to many.

Rule XVIII. Though an oath imposed by a usurper or by violence is not to be taken in formal obedience, nor at all, unless the greatness of the benefit require it, yet being taken it is nevertheless obligatory[73] (supposing nothing else do make it void). Man is a free agent, and cannot be forced, though he may be frightened: if he swear to a thief for the saving of his life, he voluntarily doth choose the inconveniences of the oath, as a means to save his life. Therefore being a voluntary act it is obligatory; else there should be no obligation on us to suffer for Christ, but any thing might be sworn or done to escape suffering: see of this Dr. Sanderson largely, {575} Prælect. iv. sect. 14-16. The imposition and the oath are different things: in the imposition, a thief or tyrant is the party commanding, and I am the party commanded; and his having no authority to command me, doth nullify only his command, and maketh me not obliged to obey him, nor to take it in any obedience to him; but yet if I do take it without any authority obliging me, (as private oaths are taken,) it is still an oath or vow, in which the parties are God and man; man vowing and making himself a debtor to God; and God hath authority to require me to keep my vows, when men have no authority to require me to make them. All men confess that private vows bind; and the nullity of the imposer's authority, maketh them but private vows. This case is easy, and commonly agreed on.

Rule XIX. If in a complex vow or promise there be many things which prove materially unlawful, and one or more that are lawful, the conjunction of the things unlawful doth not disoblige me from the vow of doing the lawful part. Otherwise a man might make void all his vows to God, and oaths and covenants with men, by putting in something that is evil with the good; and so God, and the king, and our neighbours would have their debts paid by our sin and injury done them on the bye.

Rule XX. If some part of that which you vowed become impossible, that doth not disoblige you from so much as remaineth possible. As if you vow allegiance to the king, and tyrants or disability hinder you from serving him as subjects in some one particular way, you remain still obliged to serve him by those other ways in which you are yet capable to serve him. So if you had taken an oath against popery, to preach against it, and reject the practice of it, and for ever renounce it; this would not bind you from the common truths and duties of christianity, which papists hold in common with all other christians: nor could you preach against popery, if you were hindered by imprisonment, banishment, or restraint; but you have still power to forbear approving, consenting, subscribing, or practising their errors; and this you are still bound to do.

Rule XXI. Though you are not bound to do that of your vow which changes have made impossible or unlawful, yet if another change make them possible and lawful again, your obligation doth return afresh (unless you made it with such limitation). It is not a temporary cessation of the matter, or end, or correlate, that will perpetually discharge you from your vow. If your wife be taken captive many years, when she returneth, you are bound to the duties of a husband. If the king be expelled by usurpers, you are bound at present to so much duty as is possible, and to obey him as your actual governor when he returneth. But in the case of servants and soldiers, and other temporary relations, it is otherwise; for a removal may end the relation itself. If you promise to preach the gospel, to medicate the sick, to relieve the poor, to reform your families, &c. you are not hereby obliged to do it while any unresistible impediment maketh it impossible; but when the hinderance ceaseth, you are obliged to do it again; the matter and your capacity being restored.

Rule XXII. Therefore many a vow and promise may be lawfully unperformed, which may not be renounced or disclaimed. When you are taken captives you must forbear your duty to your king, your father, your husband or wife, but you may not therefore renounce them, and say, I have no obligation to them: no, not to the death; because they are relations for life; and how improbable soever it may seem that you should be returned to them, yet God can do it, and you must wait on him.

Rule XXIII. A former vow or promise is not nullified by a latter that contradicteth it.[74] Otherwise a man might disoblige himself at his pleasure. Yet he that maketh contrary vows, obligeth himself to contraries and impossibles; and bringeth a necessity of perjury on himself, for not doing the things impossible which he vowed. And in some cases a later promise to men may null a former, when we made the former with the reserve of such a power or liberty, or are justly supposed to have power, to recall a former promise: or when it is the duty of a mutable relation which we vow, (as of a physician, a schoolmaster, &c.) and by a later vow we change the relation itself (which we may still lawfully change).

Rule XXIV. The actus jurandi must still be distinguished from the materia juramenti; and it very often cometh to pass that the act of swearing (or the oath as our act) is unlawfully done, and was a sin from the beginning, and yet it is nevertheless obligatory as long as the res jurata, the matter sworn, is lawful or necessary.[75] Dr. Sanderson instanceth in Joshua's oath to the Gibeonites. The nature of the thing is proof enough; for many a thing is sinfully done, for want of a due call, or manner, or end, that yet is done, and is no nullity. A man may sinfully enter upon the ministry, that yet is bound to do the duty of a minister; and many marriages are sinful that are no nullities.

What is the nullity of an oath.

Rule XXV. The nullity of an oath ab initio, is quando realiter vel reputative non juravimus; when really or reputatively we did not swear. The sinfulness of an oath is when we did swear really but unlawfully as to the ground, or end, or matter, or manner, or circumstances. Really that man did not swear, 1. Who spake not (mentally nor orally) the words of an oath. 2. Who thought those words had signified no such thing, and so had no intent to swear either mentally or verbally. As if an Englishman be taught to use the words of an oath in French, and made believe that they have a contrary sense. 3. Who only narratively recited the words of an oath, as a reporter or historian, without a real or professed intent of swearing. Reputatively he did not swear, 1. Who spake the words of an oath in his sleep, or in a deliration, distraction, madness, or such prevalent melancholy as mastereth reason; when a man is not compos mentis, his act is not actus humanus. (2.) When a man's hand is forcibly moved by another against his will to subscribe the words of an oath or covenant; for if it be totally involuntary it is not a moral act. But words cannot be forced; for he that sweareth to save his life, doth do it voluntarily to save his life. The will may be moved by fear, but not forced. Yet the person that wrongfully frighteneth another into consent, or to swear, hath no right to any benefit which he thought to get by force or fraud; and so in foro civili such promises, or covenants, or oaths may quoad effectum be reputatively null; and he that by putting his sword to another man's breast doth compel him to swear or subscribe and seal a deed of gift, may be judged to have no right to it, but to be punishable for the force; but though this covenant or promise be null in foro humano, because the person cannot acquire a right by violence, yet the oath is not a {576} nullity before God; for when God is made a party, he hath a right which is inviolable; and when he is appealed to or made a witness, his name must not be taken in vain. 3. It is a nullity reputatively when the person is naturally incapable of self-obligation, as in infancy, when reason is not come to so much maturity as to be naturally capable of such a work; I say naturally incapable, for the reasons following.

Rule XXVI. We must distinguish between a natural incapacity of vowing or swearing at all, and an incapacity of doing it lawfully; and between a true nullity, and when the oath is only quasi nullum, or as null quoad effectum, or such as I must not keep. There are many real oaths and vows which must not be kept, and so far are quasi nulla as to the effecting of the thing vowed; but they are not simply null; for they have the effect of making the man a sinner and perjured. They are sinful vows, and therefore vows. A natural incapacity proveth it no vow at all; but if I am naturally capable, and only forbidden, (by God or man,) this maketh it not no vow, but a sinful vow, of which some must be kept and some must not.

Cases in which a vow must not be kept.

In these following cases a real vow is quasi nullum, or must not be kept.

1. In case the thing vowed (all things considered) be a thing which God hath forbidden to be done; that is, in case it be a thing in itself evil; but if the thing in itself be a duty, though there be some inseparable sins which we shall be guilty of in the performance, we must not therefore leave the duty itself undone which we have vowed: as if I vow to praise God, and yet am sure that I cannot praise him without a sinful defect of that love and delight in him which is due, I must not therefore forbear to praise him; else we must cast off all other duty, because we cannot do it without some sin. But yet, though in case of unwilling infirmity, we must thus do the duty though we are sure to sin in it, yet in case of any chosen, voluntary sin, which we have an immediate power to avoid, we must rather forbear the duty itself (vowed or not vowed) than commit such a sin; as if I vow to preach the gospel, and am forcibly hindered unless I would voluntarily tell one lie, or commit one sin wilfully for this liberty; I ought rather never to preach the gospel; nor is it then a duty, but become morally impossible to me; as if in France or Spain I may not preach unless I would take Pope Pius's Trent confession or oath. Nay, if those very defects of love, and wandering thoughts, which now inseparably cleave to my best performances, were morally and immediately in my power, and I could avoid them, I ought not electively and by consent to commit them, for any liberty of duty, but rather to forbear the duty itself as no duty to me when it cometh upon such conditions; for then it is supposed that I could serve God better without that duty, because I could love him more, &c.

Yet here is observable a great deal of difference between omissions and commissions. A man may never commit a sin that good may come by it, though he vowed the good; but a man may ofttimes omit that which else would have been his duty, to do some good which he hath vowed; for negative commands bind semper et ad semper; but the affirmative do not (at least as to outward duty); therefore in case of necessity a man may himself consent to the present omission of some good, for the escaping of greater, unavoidable omissions another time, or for the performing of a vow or greater duty which is to be preferred.

2. A vow is not to be kept, when the matter of it is unjust and injurious to another (unless you have his consent): as if you vow to give away another man's lands or goods, or to do him wrong by word or deed; or if you vow to forbear to pay him his due, or to do that which you owe him: as if a servant vow to forbear his master's work (unless it be so small an injury as he can otherwise repair); or a husband, or wife, or parents, or children, or prince, or subjects should vow to deny their necessary duties to each other. Here man's right together with God's law doth make it unjust to perform such vows.

3. A vow is as null or not to be kept, when the matter is something that is morally or civilly out of our power to do: as if a servant, or a child, or subject vow to do a thing, which he cannot do lawfully without the consent of his superior: this vow is not simply null, for it is a sinful vow (unless it was conditional). Every rational creature is so far sui juris, as that his soul being immediately subject to God, he is capable of obliging himself to God; and so his vow is a real sinful vow, when he is not so far sui juris as to be capable of a lawful vowing, or doing the thing which he voweth. Such a one is bound to endeavour to get his superior's consent, but not without it to perform his vow; no, though the thing in itself be lawful. For God having antecedently bound me to obey my superiors in all lawful things, I cannot disoblige myself by my own vows.

Yet here are very great difficulties in this case, which causeth difference among the learnedest, pious casuists. 1. If a governor have beforehand made a law for that which I vow against, it is supposed by many that my vow is not to be kept, (the thing being not against the law of God,) because the first obligation holdeth. 2. Yet some think that magistrates' penal laws binding but aut ad obedientiam aut ad pœnam, to obedience or punishment, I am therefore obliged in indifferent things to bear his penalty, and to keep my vow.[76] 3. But if I first make an absolute vow in a thing indifferent, (as to drink no wine, or to wear no silks, &c.) and the magistrate afterwards command it me, some think I am bound to keep my vow; because though I must obey the magistrate in all things lawful, yet my vow hath made this particular thing to be to me unlawful, before the magistrate made it a duty. 4. Though others think that even in this case the general obligation to obey my superiors preventeth my obliging myself to any particular which they may forbid in case I had not vowed it, or against any particular which they may command. 5. Others distinguish of things lawful or indifferent, and say that some of them are such as become accidentally so useful or needful to the common good, the end of government, that it is fit the magistrate make a law for it, and the breaking of that law will be so hurtful, that my vow cannot bind me to it, as being now no indifferent thing; but other indifferent things they say belong not to the magistrate to determine of (as what I shall eat or drink, whether I shall marry or not, what trade I shall be of, how each artificer, tradesman, or professor of arts and sciences shall do the business of his profession, &c.) And here the magistrate they think cannot bind them against their {577} vows, because their power of themselves in such private cases is greater than his power over them in those cases. All these I leave as so many questions unfit for me to resolve in the midst of the contentions of the learned. The great reasons that move on both sides you may easily discern. 1. Those that think an oath in lawful things, obligeth not contrary to the magistrate's antecedent or subsequent command, are moved by this reason, That else subjects and children might by their vows exempt themselves from obedience, and null God's command of obeying our superiors. 2. Those that think a vow is obligatory against a magistrate's command, are moved by this reason, Because else, say they, a magistrate may at his pleasure dispense with all vows, except in things commanded before by God: for he may come after and cross our vows by his commands, which, against the pope's pretensions, protestants have denied to be in the power of any mortal man. And God, say they, hath the first right, which none can take away. I must not be forward in determining where rulers are concerned; only to those that may and must determine it, I add these further materials to be considered of.

1. It is most necessary to the decision of this case, to understand how far the inferior that voweth was sui juris, and had the power of himself when he made the vow, as to the making of it, and how far he is sui juris as to the act which he hath vowed; and to that end to know, in a case where there is some power over his act, both in his superior and in himself, whether his own power, or his superior's, as to that act, be the greater.

2. It is therefore needful to distinguish much between those acts that are of private use and signification only, and those that (antecedently to the ruler's command) are of public use and nature, or such as the ruler is as much concerned in as the inferior.

3. It is needful to understand the true intent and sense of the command of our superior; whether it be really his intent to bind inferiors to break their vows, or whether they intend only to bind those that are not so entangled and pre-engaged by a vow, with a tacit exception of those that are.[77] And what is most just must be presumed, unless the contrary be plain.

4. It must be discerned whether the commands of superiors intend any further penalty than that which is affixed in their laws: as in our penal laws about using bows and arrows, and about fishing, hunting, &c.; whether it be intended that the offender be guilty of damnation, or only that the threatened temporal penalty do satisfy the law; and whether God bind us to any further penalty than the superior intendeth.

5. The end of the laws of men must be distinguished from the words; and a great difference must be put between those forbidden acts that do no further harm than barely to cross the letter of the law, or will of a superior, and those that cross the just end of the command or law; and that either more or less, as it is more or less hurtful to others, or against the common good: for then the matter will become sinful in itself.

6. Whether perjury, or the unwilling violation of human laws, be the greater sin, and which in a doubtful case should be most feared and avoided, it is easy to discern.

Rule XXVII. A vow may be consequently made null or void, 1. By cessation of the matter, or any thing essential to it, (of which before,) or by a dispensation or dissolution of it by God to whom we are obliged. No doubt it is in God's power to disoblige a man from his vow; but how he ever doth such a thing is all the doubt: extraordinary revelations being ceased, there is this way yet ordinary, viz. by bringing the matter which I vowed to do, under some prohibition of a general law, by the changes of his providence.

Rule XXVIII. As to the power of man to dispense with oaths and vows, there is a great and most remarkable difference between those oaths and vows where man is the only party that we are primarily bound to, and God is only appealed to as witness or judge, as to the keeping of my word to man; and those oaths or vows where God is also made (either only or conjunct with man) the party to whom I primarily oblige myself. For in the first case man can dispense with my oath or vow, by remitting his own right, and releasing me from my promise; but in the second case no created power can do it. As e. g. if I promise to pay a man a sum of money, or to do him service, and swear that I will perform it faithfully; if upon some after bargain or consideration he release me of that promise, God releaseth me also, as the witnesses and judge have nothing against a man, whom the creditor hath discharged. But if I swear or vow that I will amend my life, or reform my family of some great abuse, or that I will give so much to the poor, or that I will give up myself to the work of the gospel, or that I will never marry, or never drink wine, or never consent to popery or error, &c.; no man can dispense with my vow, nor directly disoblige me in any such case; because no man can give away God's right: all that man can do in any such case is, to become an occasion of God's disobliging me: if he can so change the case, or my condition, as to bring me under some law of God, which commandeth me the contrary to my vow, then God disobligeth me, or maketh it unlawful to keep that vow. And here because a vow is commonly taken for such a promise to God, in which we directly bind ourselves to him, therefore we say, that a vow (thus strictly taken) cannot be dispensed with by man; though in the sense aforesaid, an oath sometimes may.

The papists deal most perversely in this point of dispensing with oaths and vows; for they give that power to the pope over all the christian world, who is a usurper, and none of our governor, which they deny to princes and parents that are our undoubted governors: the pope may disoblige vassals from their oaths of allegiance to their princes, (as the council of Lateran before cited,) but no king or parent may disoblige a man from his oath to the pope: nay, if a child vow a monastical life, and depart from his parents, they allow not the parents to disoblige him.

Rule XXIX. In the determining of controversies about the obligation of oaths and vows, it is safest to mark what Scripture saith, and not to presume, upon uncertain pretence of reason, to release ourselves, where we are not sure that God releaseth us.

Rule XXX. That observable chapter, Numb. xxx. about dispensations, hath many things in it that are plain for the decision of divers great and usual doubts; but many things which some do collect and conclude as consequential or implied, are doubtful and controverted among the most judicious expositors and casuists.

1. It is certain that this chapter speaketh not of a total nullity of vows ab initio, but of a relaxation, or disannulling of them by superiors. For, 1. Bare silence (which is no efficient cause) doth prove them to be in force. 2. It is not said, She is bound, or not bound; but, Her vow and bond shall stand, ver. 4, 7, 9, 11: or, shall not stand, ver. 5, 12: and, He {578} shall make it of none effect, ver. 8. The Hebrew, ver. 5, signifieth, Quia annihilavit pater ejus illud. And ver. 8, Et si in die audire virum ejus, annihilaverit illud, et infregerit vitam ejus.[78]—3. It is expressly said, that she had bound her soul before the dissolution. 4. It is said, The Lord shall forgive her, ver. 5, 8, 12, which signifieth a relaxation of a former bond. Or at the most, the parent's silence is a confirmation, and his disowning it hindereth only the confirmation. So the Chaldee paraphrase; the Samaritan and Arabic, Non erunt confirmata; the Syriac, Rata vel irrita erunt.

2. It is certain that a father hath the power of relaxation here mentioned as to an unmarried daughter, in her youth living in his house, and a husband over his wife; for it is the express words of the text.

3. It is certain that this power extendeth to vows about all things in which the inferior is not sui juris, but is under the superior's care and oversight, and cannot perform it (in case there had been no vow) without the superior's consent.

4. It is certain that it extendeth not only to matters concerning the governors themselves, but concerning vows to God, as they are good or hurtful to the inferiors.

5. It is certain that there are some vows so necessary and clearly for the inferior's good, that in them he is sui juris, and no superior can suspend his vows: as to have the Lord for his God; and not to commit idolatry, murder, theft, &c. No superior can disoblige us here; for the power of superiors is only for the inferior's indemnity and good.

6. It is certain that the superior's recall must be speedy or in time, before silence can signify consent, and make a confirmation of the vow.

7. It is certain that if the superior have once ratified it by silence or consent, he cannot afterwards disannul it.

8. It is agreed, that if he awhile dissent and disannul it, and afterwards both inferior and superior consent again, that it remaineth ratified.

9. It is agreed that the superior that can discharge the vow of the inferior, cannot release himself from his own vows. If the pope could release all men, who shall release him?

But in these points following there is no such certainty or agreement of judgments, because the text seemeth silent about them, and men conjecture variously as they are prepared. 1. It is uncertain whether any but women may be released by virtue of this text: 1. Because the text expressly distinguishing between a man and a woman doth first say, Si vir——If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth. And 2. Because women are only instanced in, when Scripture usually speaketh of them in the masculine gender, when it includeth both sexes, or extendeth it to both. 3. And in the recapitulation in the end, it is said by way of recital of the contents, ver. 16, "These are the statutes which the Lord commanded Moses between a man and his wife; between the father and his daughter—in her youth in her father's house:" as if he would caution us against extending it any further. And though many good expositors think that it extendeth equally to sons as to daughters, in their minority, because there is a parity of reason, yet this is an uncertain conjecture: 1. Because God seemeth by the expression to bound the sense. 2. Because God acquainteth not man with all the reasons of his laws. 3. Because there may be special reasons for an indulgence to the weaker sex in such a weighty case. And though still there is a probability it may extend to sons, it is good keeping to certainties in matters of such dreadful importance as oaths and vows to God.

2. It is uncertain whether this power of disannulling vows do belong also to other superiors,[79] to princes, to inferior magistrates, to pastors, masters, to commanders, as to their soldiers, as well as to parents and husbands. Some think it doth, because there is, say they, a parity of reason. Others think it is dangerous disannulling oaths and vows upon pretences of parity of reason, when it is uncertain whether we know all God's reasons: and they think there is not a parity, and that it extendeth not to others. 1. Because parents and husbands are so emphatically named in the contents in the end, ver. 16. 2. Because it had been as easy to God to name the rest. 3. Because there is no instance in Scripture of the exercise of such a power, when there was much occasion for it. 4. Because else vows signify no more in a kingdom than the king please, and in an army than the general and officers please, and among servants than the master please; which is thought a dangerous doctrine. 5. Because there will be an utter uncertainty when a vow bindeth and when it doth not to almost all the people in the world; for one superior may contradict it, and another or a hundred may be silent: the king and most of the magistrates through distance will be silent, when a master, or a justice, or a captain that is at hand may disannul it: one officer may be for it, and another against it; a master or a pastor may be for it, and the magistrate against it: and so perjury will become the most controverted sin, and a matter of jest. 6. Because public magistrates, and commanders, and pastors, have not the near and natural interest in their inferiors as parents and husbands have in their children and wives; and therefore parents have not only a restraining power, (as husbands here also have,) but also a disposing power of the relation of their infant children, and may enter them in baptism into the vow and covenant of christianity, the will and act of the parents standing for the child's till he come to age; but if you say that, upon a parity of reason, all princes, and rulers, and pastors may do so with all that are their inferiors, it will seem incredible to most christians. 7. Because public magistrates are justly supposed to be so distant from almost all their individual subjects, as not to be capable of so speedy a disowning their personal vows. Whatever this text doth, it is certain that other texts enough forbid covenants and combinations against the persons, or power, or rights of our governors, and not only against them, but without them, in cases where our place and calling alloweth us not to act without them. But it is certain that God, who commanded all Israel to be entered successively into the covenant of circumcision with him, would not have held them guiltless for refusing that {579} covenant, if the prince had been against it. And few divines think that a subject, or soldier, or servant, that hath vowed to forbear wine, or feasting, or marriage, is discharged, if his prince, or captain, or masters be against it. Jonathan and David were under an oath of friendship, (called the Lord's oath, 2 Sam. xxi. 7). Saul as a parent could not discharge Jonathan, as being a man at full age. Quære whether Saul as a king being against it, did null the oath to David and Jonathan? No; the Scripture showeth the contrary. 8. Because else that benefit which God extendeth only to a weaker sort, would extend to any, the wisest and most learned persons through the world, whose vows to God, even for the afflicting of their own souls, may be nulled by the king or other superiors. Many such reasons are urged in this case.

3. It is uncertain whether this chapter extend to assertory or testimonial oaths (if not certain that it doth not): it speaketh but of binding their souls to God, which is to offer or do something which by error may prove prejudicial to them. But if a parent or husband (much more a king or general) might nullify all the testimonial oaths of their inferiors that are given in judgment, or discharge all their subjects from the guilt of all the lies or false oaths which they shall take, it would make a great change in the morality of the world.

4. It is not past all controversy how far this law is yet in force: seeing the Mosaical law as such is abrogated; this can be now no further in force than as it is the law of nature, or some way confirmed or revived by Christ. The equity seemeth to be natural.

Rule XXXI. It is certain that whoever this power of disannulling vows belongeth to, and to whomsoever it may be given, that it extendeth not to discharge us from the promise or vow of that which is antecedently our necessary duty, by the law of God. Else they should dispense with the law of God, when none but the lawgiver can relax or dispense with his laws (unless it be one superior to the lawgiver): therefore none can dispense with the laws of God. But I speak this but of a duty necessary also as a means to our salvation, or the good of others, or the honouring of God: for otherwise as to some smaller things, the duty may be such as man cannot dispense with, and yet a vow to do that duty may be unnecessary and sinful: as if I swear to keep all the law of God, and never to sin, or never to think a sinful thought; to do this is good, but to vow it is bad, because I may foreknow that I shall break it.

Rule XXXII. In some cases a vow may oblige you against that which would have been your duty if you had not vowed, and to do that which would else have been your sin: viz. if it be such a thing as is sin or duty but by some lesser accident, which the accident of a vow may preponderate or prevail against. As if you swear to give a penny to a wandering beggar, or to one that needeth it not, which by all circumstances would have been an unlawful misemploying of that which should have been better used; yet it seemeth to me your duty to do it when you have moved it. To cast away a cup of drink is a sin, if it be causelessly; but if you vow to do it, it is hard to say that a man should rather be perjured than cast away a cup of drink, or a penny, or a pin. The Jesuits think it lawful to exercise the obedience of their novices by bidding them sometimes cast a cup of wine into the sink, or do some such action which causelessly done were sin: and shall not a vow require it more strongly? Suppose it would be your duty to pray or read at such or such an hour of the day (as being fittest to your body and occasions); yet if you have (foolishly) vowed against it, it seemeth to me to be your duty to put it off till another time. For perjury is too great a thing to be yielded to on every such small occasion. Dr. Sanderson[80] ubi supra giveth this instance: If there be a law that no citizen elected to it shall refuse the office of a prætor; and he that doth refuse it shall be fined: Caius sweareth that he will not bear the office: his oath is unlawful, (and disobedience would have been his sin if he were free,) yet it seems he is bound to pay his fine, and disobey the precept of the law, rather than break his vow.

Rule XXXIII. There are so great a number of sins and duties that are such by accidents and circumstantial alterations, and some of these greater and some less, that it is a matter of exceeding great difficulty in morality to discern when they are indeed sins and duties and when not, which must be by discerning the preponderancy of accidents; and therefore it must be exceeding difficult to discern when a vow shall weigh down any of these accidents, and when not.

Rule XXXIV. The exceeding difficulty and frequency of such cases maketh it necessary to those that have such entanglements of vows, to have a very wise and faithful counsellor to help them better to resolve their particular cases, upon the knowledge of every circumstance, than any book or general rules can do, or any that are not so perfectly acquainted with the case. And oh what great ability is necessary in divines that are employed in such works!

Rule XXXV. Thus also the case must be resolved whether an oath bind that hindereth a greater good which I might do if I had not taken it. In some cases it may bind: as if I swear to acquaint none with some excellent medicine which I could not have known myself unless I had so sworn; or in case that the breaking of the oath will do more hurt to me or others than the good comes to which I omit:[81] or in case, all things considered, the doing of that good hic et nunc is not my duty: see Dr. Sanderson of the difficulties here also, p. 78, 79.

Rule XXXVI. No personal hurt or temporal loss is any sufficient cause for the violation of an oath.[82] He that taketh a false oath, or breaketh a promissory oath, for the saving of his life, or a thousand men's lives, or for lands or riches, or crowns and kingdoms, hath no considerable excuse for his perfidiousness and perjury, all temporal things being such inconsiderable trifles in comparison of the will and pleasure of God, and life everlasting: that which will not justify a lie, will much less justify perjury.[83]

Rule XXXVII. If the matter of an oath prove only a temptation to sin, and not sin itself, it must be kept: but with the greater vigilancy and resolution. As if a man have married a froward wife that will be a temptation to him all his life, he is not disobliged from her.

Rule XXXVIII. If the matter of an oath be such as maketh me directly the tempter of myself or others, it is a sin, and not to be kept, unless some greater good preponderate that evil. For though it be no sin to be tempted, yet it is a sin to tempt: though it be no sin to tempt by a necessary trial, (as a master may lay money before a suspected servant to try whether he be a thief,) nor any sin to tempt accidentally by the performance of a duty (as a holy life doth accidentally tempt a malignant person to hatred and persecution); yet it is a sin to be directly and needlessly a tempter of ourselves or others unto sin; and therefore he that voweth it must not {580} perform it. As if you had vowed to persuade any to unchastity, intemperance, error, rebellion, &c.

Of accidental evil or temptation vowed.

Rule XXXIX. If the matter of an oath be such as accidentally layeth so strong a temptation before men, (especially before a multitude,) as that we may foresee it is exceeding likely to draw them into sin, when there is no greater good to preponderate the evil of such a temptation, it is a sin to do that thing, though in performance of a vow. When actions are good or evil only by accident, then accidents must be put in the balance against each other, and the weightiest must preponderate. As in matter of temporal commodity or discommodity, it is lawful to do that action which accidentally bringeth a smaller hurt to one man, if it bring a greater good to many; or which hurteth a private person to the great good of the commonwealth; but it is not lawful to do that which clearly tendeth (though but by accident) to do more hurt than good: as to sell powder and arms, when we foresee it will be used against the king and kingdom; or to sell ratsbane, when you foresee it is like to be used to poison men. Much more should the salvation of many or one be preferred before our temporal commodity; and therefore for a lesser good, we may not tempt men to evil, though but accidentally: as he that liveth where there is but little need of taverns or ale-houses, and the common use of them is for drunkenness, it is unlawful for him there to sell ale or wine, unless he can keep men from being drunk with it (as if they take it home with them, or be unruly, he cannot). For thus to be a foreknowing tempter and occasion, unnecessarily, is to be a moral cause. Two things will warrant a man to do that which by accident tempteth or occasioneth other men to sin: one is a command of God, when it is a duty which we do: the other is a greater good to be attained by the action, which cannot be attained in a less dangerous way. As in a country where there is so great a necessity of ale-houses and taverns that the good that is done by them is greater than the hurt is like to be, though some will be drunk; it is lawful to use these trades, though some be hurt by it. It is lawful to sell flesh, though some will be gluttonous; it is lawful to use moderate, decent ornaments, though some vain minds will be tempted by the sight to lust; as it is lawful to go to sea though some be drowned. To act a comedy, or play at a lawful game, with all those cautions, which may secure you that the good of it is like to be greater than the hurt, is not unlawful: but to set up a common play-house, or gaming-house, where we may foresee that the mischief will be far greater than the good, (though the acts were lawful in themselves,) this is but to play the devil's part, in laying snares for souls: men are not thus to be ticed to hell and damned in sport, though but accidentally, and though you vowed the act.

Of scandal.

Rule XL. Thus also must the case of scandal be resolved:[84] as scandal signifieth an action that occasioneth another to sin, or a stumblingblock at which we foresee he is like to fall to the hurt of his soul, (which is the sense that Christ and his apostles usually take it in,) so it is the same case with this last handled, and needs no other resolution: but as scandal signifieth (in the late abusive sense) the mere displeasing of another, or occasioning him to censure you for a sinner, so you must not break a vow to escape the censure or displeasure of all the world. Otherwise pride would be still producing perjury, and so two of the greatest sins would be maintained.

Rule XLI. Though in the question about the obligation of an oath that is taken ignorantly, or by deceit, there be great difficulties, yet this much seemeth clear: 1. That he that is culpably ignorant is more obliged by his vow or contract while he useth all the outward form, than he that is inculpably ignorant. 2. That though the deceit (as the force) of him that I swear to, do forfeit his right to what I promise him, yet my oath or vow obligeth me to do or to give the thing, having interested God himself in the cause. 3. That all such errors of the essentials of an oath or vow as nullify it, (of which I spake before,) or make the matter sinful, do infer a nullity in the obligation (or that it must not be kept). But no smaller error (though caused by deceit) doth disoblige.

The commonest doubt is, Whether an error about the very person that I swear to, and this caused by his own deceit, do disoblige me? All grant that I am obliged notwithstanding any circumstantial error (as if I think a woman rich whom I marry, and she prove poor; or wise and godly, and she prove foolish or ungodly: yea, if the error be about any integral part; as if I think she had two eyes or legs, and she have but one): and all grant that an error about an essential part, that is, which is essential to the relation or thing vowed, (if inculpable at least,) disobligeth: as if I took a man in marriage thinking he had been a woman; or if I took a person for a pastor, a physician, a counsellor, a pilot, that hath no tolerable ability or skill in the essentials of any of those professions. But whether I am bound if I swear to Thomas thinking it was John, or if I marry Leah thinking she is Rachel, is the great doubt. And most casuists say I am not: and therefore I dare not be bold to contradict them.[85] But I much suspect that they fetched their decision from the lawyers; who truly say, that in foro civili it inferreth no obligation: but whether it do not oblige me ethically, and in foro conscientiæ et cœli, I much doubt,[86] 1. Because it seemeth the very case of Joshua and the Israelites, who by the guile of the Gibeonites were deceived into an error personarum, taking them to be other persons than they were: and yet that this oath was obligatory, saith Dr. Sanderson, is apparent, (1.) In the text itself, Josh. ix. 19. (2.) In the miracle wrought for that victory which Joshua obtained in defending the Gibeonites when the sun stood still, Josh. x. 8, 13. (3.) In the severe revenge that was taken on the lives of Saul's posterity for offering to violate it, 2 Sam. xxi. 2. 2. And this seemeth to be the very case of Jacob, who took not himself disobliged from Leah notwithstanding the mistake of the person through deceit. And though the concubitus was added to the contract, that obliged most as it was the perfecting of the contract, which an oath doth as strongly. 3. And the nature of the thing doth confirm my doubt; because when I see the person before me there is the individuum determinatum, in the hæc homo, and so all that is essential to my vow is included in it: if I mistake the name, or the quality, or birth, or relations of the person, yet my covenant is with this determinate person that is present, though I be induced to it by a false supposition that she is another. But this I leave to the discussion of the judicious.

Rule XLII. The question also is weighty and of frequent use, if a man vow a thing as a duty in obedience to God and conscience, which he would {581} not have done if he had taken it to be no duty, and if he afterwards find that it was no duty, is he obliged to keep this vow? And the true answer is, that the discovery of his error doth only discover the nullity of his obligation to make that vow, and to do the thing antecedently to the vow; but if the thing be lawful, he is bound to it by his vow notwithstanding the mistake which induced him to make it.

Rule XLIII. Vows about trifles (not unlawful) must be kept though they are sinfully made.[87] As if you vow to take up a straw, or to forbear such a bit or sort of meat, or garment, &c. But to make such is a great profanation of God's name, and a taking it in vain as common swearers do.

Rule XLIV. A general oath, though taken upon a particular occasion, must be generally or strictly interpreted (unless there be special reasons for a restraint, from the matter, end, or other evidence). As if you are afraid that your son should marry such a woman, and therefore swear him not to marry without your consent; he is bound thereby neither to marry that woman nor any other. Or if your servant haunt one particular ale-house, and you make him forswear all houses in general, he must avoid all other. So Dr. Sanderson instanceth in the oath of supremacy, p. 195.

Rule XLV. He that voweth absolutely or implicitly to obey another in all things, is bound to obey him in all lawful things, where neither God, nor other superior or other person is injured; unless the nature of the relation, or the ends or reasons of the oath, or something else, infer a limitation as implied.

Rule XLVI. Still distinguish between the falsehood in the words as disagreeing to the thing sworn, and the falsehood of them as disagreeing from the swearer's mind. The former is sometimes excusable, but the latter never.

There are many other questions about oaths that belong more to the chapter of contracts and justice between man and man; and thither I refer them.

[47]   Viris gravibus vehementer displicere animadverti, quod ab indis testimonium jure-jurando exigitur, cum constet eos facillime pejerare, utpote qui neque juramenti vim sentiant neque veritatis studio tangantur, sed testimonium eo modo dicant, quo credunt. Judici gratissimum fore, aut a primo suæ factionis homine edocti sunt. Hos igitur jurare compellere et ipsis exitiosum propter perjuria, &c. Acosta, p. 345.

[48]   Vid. Sanderson de Juram. Prælect. vii. Sect. 14. Juramentum oblatum reluctante vel dubitante conscientia non est suscipiendum: 1. Quia quod non est ex fide peccatum est. 2. Quia jurandum est in judicio: quod certe is non facit qui contra conscientiæ suæ judicium facit, &c. ad finem.

[49]   See the fourteenth Article of the church of England, against voluntary works, over and above God's commandments, as impious.

[50]   Stoici indifferentia distinguunt: 1. Ea quæ neque ad fœlicitatem neque ad infœlicitatem conferunt, ut sunt divitiæ, sanitas, vires, gloria, &c. Nam et sine his contingit fœlicem esse; cum earum usus vel rectus fœlicitatis, vel pravus infœlicitatis, author sit. 2. Quæ neque appetitum neque occasionem movent, ut pares vel impares habere capillos, &c. Laert. in Zenone.

[51]   Plutarch. Quest. Roman. 44. Why may not priests swear? Resp. Is it because an oath put to free-born men, is as it were the rack and torture offered them? For certain it is that the soul as well as the body of the priest, ought to continue free, and not to be forced by any torture. Or that we must not distrust them in small matters, who are to be believed in great and divine things? Or because the peril of perjury would reach in common to the whole commonwealth, if a wicked, and ungodly, and forsworn person should have the charge and superintendency of the prayers, vows, and sacrifices made in behalf of the city? Page 866.

[52]   See before, chap. iii. gr. direct. 10.

[53]   See part i. chap. ix. tit. 2, 3.

[54]   See Casaubon's Exercit. 202.

[55]   Cotta in Cic. de Nat. Deor. l. 1. to prove that some hold there is no God, saith, Quid de sacrilegis, de impiis, de perjuris dicemus, si carbo, &c. putasset esse Deos, tam perjurus aut impius non fuisset, p. 25, 26.

[56]   One of Canutus's laws (26.) was, that perjured persons, with sorcerers, idolaters, strumpets, breakers of wedlock, be banished the realm: cited by Bilson of Subject. p. 202. How few would be left in some lands if this were done!

[57]   Plut. in Lysand. Cicer. de Leg. lib. iii. Curt. lib. vii. Arist. Rhet. c. 17.

[58]   Ælian. Vari. Hist. lib. xiv.

[59]   Though as Moder. Polic. saith, Princ. 7, It is a huge advantage that man hath in a credulous world, that can easily say and swear to any thing: and yet so palliate his perjuries as to hide them from the cognizance of the most. Gabionitarum irritum fœdus, calliditate licet extortum, nonnullis intulisse exitium, &c. Gildas in Prolog.

[60]   Haud amentum justitiæ est fides, i. e. dictorum conventorumque constantia et veritas. Cicero.

[61]   Lege distinctionem Grotii inter ἐπιορκεῖν et ψευδορκεῖν, Annot. in Matt. v. 33. Modern Policy, (supposed Dr. Sandcroft's,) Princ. 7. 1. We are ready to interpret the words too kindly, especially if they be ambiguous; and it is hard to find terms so positive, but they may be eluded indeed, or seem to us to be so, if we be disposed. 2. Some are invited to illicit promises, qua illicite, because they know them to be invalid. 3. Some are frighted into these bonds by threats and losses, and temporal concernments, and then they please themselves that they swear by duress, and so are disengaged. 4. Some are oath-proof, &c.

[62]   It is one of Solon's sayings in Laertius, p. 51, Probitarem jure-jurando certiorem habe. What will not an atheistical impious person say or swear, for advantage?

[63]   Nunc nunc qui fœdera rumpit, Ditatur: Qui servat eget. Claudian.

[64]   See Dr. Sanders. p. 47, and 197.

[65]   Cicero de Leg. lib. 1. proveth that right is founded in the law of nature, more than in man's laws; else, saith he, men may make evil good, and good evil, and make adultery, perjury, &c. just by making a law for them.

[66]   How often perjury hath ruined christian princes and states all history doth testify. The ruin of the Roman empire by the Goths, was by this means. Alaricus having leave to live quietly in France, Stilico comes in perniciem Reipub. Gothos pertentans, dum eos insidiis aggredi cuperet, belli summam Saulo pagano duci commisit: qui ipso sacratissimo die Paschæ, Gothis nil tale suspicantibus, super eos irruit, magnamque eorum partem prostravit. Nam primum perturbati Gothi, ac propter religionem cedentes, demum arma corripiunt, victoremque virtute potiori prosternunt exercitum: hinc in rabiem furoris excitantur. Cœptum iter deferentes, Romam contendunt petere, cuncta igne ferroque vastantes: nec mora; venientes urbem capiunt, devastant, incendunt, &c. Paul. Diaconus, lib. 3.

[67]   Sanders. p. 30, 31.

[68]   Sanders. p. 32-41.

[69]   Sanders. p. 41-44. Ubi de justo sensu ambigitur, longe satius est et naturæ rei accommodatius, strictiore quam benigniore uti interpretatione. ibid. p. 44.

[70]   Sanders. p. 45.

[71]   They were ill times that Abbas Uspergensis describeth Chron. p. 320. Ut omnis homo jam sit perjurus, et prædictis facinoribus implicatus, ut vix excusari possit, quin sit in his, sicut populus, sic et sacerdos: Oh that this calamity had ended with that age! Et. p. 321. Principes terrarum et barones, arte diabolica edocti, nec curabant juramenta infringere, nec fidem violare, et jus omne confundere.

[72]   Sand. p. 193. Cas. 48.

[73]   Sanders. p. 122-133.

[74]   Sanders. p. 50.

[75]   Sanders. p. 55, 56. In quo casu locum habet quod vulgo dicitur, Fieri non debet, factum valet: possumus ergo distinguere, juramentum dici illicitum duobus modis. Vel respectu rei juratæ, vel respectu actus jurandi: Juramentum illicitum respectu rei juratæ nullatenus obligat: Juramentum illicitum respectu actus jurandi obligat, nisi aliunde impediatur.

[76]   Sanderson, p. 72, 73. Dico ordinarie quia fortassis possunt dari casus in quibus juramentum quod videtur alicui legi communitatis aut vocationis adversari, etsi non debuerit suscipi, susceptum tamen potest obligare: ut e. g. in lege pœnali disjunctiva. See the instances which he addeth. Joseph took an oath of the Israelites, to carry his bones out of Egypt, Gen. l. 25. What if Pharaoh forbid them? Are they acquit? The spies swore to Rahab, Josh. ii. 12, 18. Had they been quit if the rulers had acquit them?

[77]   Read of this at large, Amesii Cas. Cons. l. v. c. 5. qu. 4.

[78]   And si infringendo infregerit ea vir ejus, v. 12. Vir ejus infregit ea, v. 13.

[79]   Dr. Sanderson, Prælect. 4. sect. 5. p. 104, 105, limiteth it to De his rebus in quibus subest: in those same things in which one is under another's government; adding, sect. 6, a double exception: Of which one respecteth the person of the swearer, the other the consent of the superior: the first is that As to the person of the swearer, there is scarce any one that hath the use of reason that is so fully under another's power, but that in some things he is sui juris, at his own power: and there every one may do as pleases himself, without consulting his superior, so as that by his own act, without his superior's license, he may bind himself. 2. As to the consent of a superior, A tacit consent, antecedent or consequent, sufficeth. Quasi diceret, si dissensum suum vel uno die dissimulet, votum in perpetuum stabilivit.

[80]   Sanderson, p. 73.

[81]   Sanders. Præl. iii. sect. 12.

[82]   Psal. xv. 4.

[83]   Sanders. p. 80, 81.

[84]   Sanders. p. 82.

[85]   Ibid. p. 122.

[86]   Sanders. p. 120, 121. This seemeth the case of Isaac in blessing Jacob: the error personæ caused by Jacob's own deceit did not nullify the blessing, because it was fixed on the determinate person that it was spoken to.

[87]   Sanders. p. 84.



The people's internal and private duty to their pastors (which I may treat of without an appearance of encroachment upon the work of the canons, rubrics, and diocesans) I shall open to you in these directions following.

Direct. I. Understand first the true ground, and nature, and reasons of the ministerial office, or else you will not understand the grounds, and nature, and reasons of your duty to them. The nature and works of the ministerial office I have so plainly opened already that I shall refer you to it to avoid repetition.[88] Here are two sorts of reasons to be given you: 1. The reasons of the necessity of the ministerial work. 2. Why certain persons must be separated to this work, and it must not be left to all in common.

The necessity of the work itself appeareth in the very nature of it, and enumeration of the parts of it.[89] Two sorts of ministers Christ hath made use of for his church: the first sort was for the revelation of some new law or doctrine, to be the church's rule of faith or life; and these were to prove their authority and credibility by some divine attestation, which was especially by miracles; and so Moses revealed the law to the Jews, and (Christ and) the apostles revealed the gospel. The second sort of ministers are appointed to guide the church to salvation by opening and applying the rule thus already sealed and delivered: and these, as they are to bring no new revelations or doctrines of faith, or rule of life, so they need not bring any miracle to prove their call or authority to the church; for they have no power to deliver any new doctrine or gospel to the church, but only that which is confirmed by miracles already. And it is impudence to demand that the same gospel be proved by new miracles by every minister that shall expound or preach it: that would make miracles to be no miracles.

The work of the ministry.

The work of the ordinary ministry (such as the priests and teachers were under the law, and ordinary pastors and teachers are under the gospel) being only to gather and govern the churches, their work lay in explaining and applying the word of God, and delivering his sacraments, and now containeth these particulars following: 1. To preach the gospel for the conversion of the unbelieving and ungodly world. And that is done, partly by expounding the words by a translation into a tongue which the hearers or readers understand; and partly by opening the sense and matter.[90] 2. In this they are not only teachers, but messengers sent from God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to charge, and command, and entreat men in his name to repent and believe, and be reconciled to God; and in his name to offer them a sealed pardon of all their sins, and title to eternal life.[91] 3. Those that become the disciples of Christ, they are (as his stewards) to receive into his house, as fellow-citizens of the saints, and of the household of God; and as his commissioned officers, to solemnize by baptism their entrance into the holy covenant, and to receive their engagement to God, and to be the messengers of God's engagement unto them, and by investiture to deliver them by that sacrament the pardon of all their sin, and their title by adoption to eternal life; as a house is delivered by the delivery of a key; or land, by a twig and turf; or knighthood, by a sword or garter, &c. 4. These ministers are to gather these converts into solemn assemblies and ordered churches, for their solemn worshipping of God, and mutual edification, communion, and safe proceeding in their christian course.[92] 5. They are to be the stated teachers of the assemblies, by expounding and applying that word which is fit to build them up. 6. They are to be the guides of the congregation in public worship, and to stand between them and Christ in things pertaining to God, as subservient to Christ in his priestly office; and so both for the people, and also in their names, to put up the public prayers and praises of the church to God. 7. It is their duty to administer to them, as in the name and stead of Christ, his body and blood as broken and shed for them, and so in the frequent renewals of the holy covenants, to subserve Christ {582} especially in his priestly office, to offer and deliver Christ and his benefits to them, and to be their agent in offering themselves to God. 8. They are appointed to oversee and govern the church, in the public ordering of the solemn worship of God, and in rebuking any that are there disorderly, and seeing that all things be done to edification.[93] 9. They are appointed as teachers for every particular member of the church to have private and personal recourse to, (as far as may be,) for the resolving of their weighty doubts, and instruction in cases of difficulty and necessity, and for the settling of their peace and comfort. 10. They are appointed as physicians under Christ, to watch over all the individual members of their charge, and take care that they be not infected with heresy, or corrupted by vice; and to admonish the offenders, and reduce them into the way of truth and holiness, and if they continue impenitent after public admonition, to reject them from the communion of the church, and command the church to avoid them. 11. They are as to bind over the impenitent to answer their contumacy at the bar of Christ, so to absolve the penitent, and comfort them, and require the church to re-admit them to their communion. 12. They are appointed as stewards in the household of Christ, to have a tender care of the very bodily welfare of their flocks, so as to endeavour the supplying of their wants, and stirring up the rich to relieve the poor, and faithfully (by themselves or the deacons) to distribute what is intrusted with them for that use. 13. They are especially to visit the sick, and when they are sent for, to pray for them and with them, and to instruct them in their special preparations for death, and confirm them against those last assaults. 14. They are appointed to be the public champions of the truth, to defend it against all heretical and profane opposers, and thereby to preserve the flock from being seduced. 15. They are appointed to be (under Christ the Head) the nerves and ligaments of the several churches, by which they are kept not only in vigour by communication of nutriment, but also in concord, and such communion as they are capable of, by the correspondencies, and consultations, and councils of their pastors.[94] All these are the distinct and special uses to which Christ hath appointed the office of the sacred ministry; which having but named to you, I need to say no more to show you the excellency, and necessity, and benefits of it.

Herein also the reasons are apparent, why Christ did institute this sacred office. 1. Because it was meet his kingdom should have officers, suited to his work in the administration of it. 2. It was meet that they be men like ourselves, that we can familiarly converse with. 3. The great necessity of his church required it, where the most are weak, and insufficient to perform all these offices for themselves; and cannot well subsist without the support of others. It was meet therefore that the pastors were selected persons, wiser, and holier, and stronger than the people, and fit for so great and necessary a work. 4. It was requisite also to the order of the church; for if it were like an army without officers, there would be nothing but confusion, and neither order nor edification.

By this you may also see the nature and reasons of your obedience to your pastors: as they are not appointed to govern you by force,[95] but willingly, "not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind, not as being lords over God's heritage, but as ensamples to the flock," 1 Pet. v. 1-3, so you must willingly and cheerfully obey them in their work. As their government[96] is not by any bodily penalties or mulcts, (for that is the magistrate's work and not theirs,) but a government by the force of truth and love; so your obedience of them consisteth in the loving and thankful reception of the truth which they teach you, and the mercies which they offer you from Christ.

You see then that the reasons of your obedience are manifold. 1. Some of them from God: he hath sent his messengers to you, and set his officers over you; and Christ hath told you that he that heareth them heareth him, and he that despiseth them despiseth him, and him that sent him, Luke x. 16: he commandeth you to hear and obey them as his officers. 2. From themselves: they have authority by their commission, and they have ability in their qualifications, which require your obedience and improvement. 3. From yourselves. Have you reason to obey your natural parents on whom your livelihood in the world dependeth? Have you reason to obey him that tendereth you a pardon from the king when you are condemned? or that offereth you gold or riches in your want? or that inviteth you to a feast in a time of famine? or that offereth to defend and save you from your enemies? Much more have you reason to obey Christ's ministers when they call you to repentance, and offer you pardon of sin, and peace, and salvation, and eternal life. Did you ever hear a man so mad or churlish, as to say to one that offered him riches, or liberty, or life, I am not bound to obey you; offer them to those that you have authority over? When the office of the ministry is as well subservient to Christ as a Saviour and Benefactor, as to Christ as your Teacher and your King, the very nature of their work engageth you to obey them as you love yourselves. If you were in hell, and Christ should send for you out, you would not refuse to go, till the messenger had proved his authority. And when you are the heirs of hell, condemned by the law, and going thither, will you refuse to turn back, and yield to the offers and commands of grace, till you have skill enough to read the minister's commission?

By this also you see, that the power of your pastors is not absolute, nor coercive and lordly, but ministerial.[97] And though the papists make a scorn {583} of the word "minister," it is but in that pride, and passion, and malice which maketh them speak against their knowledge: for their pope himself calleth himself the servant of God's servants; and Paul saith, 1 Cor. iv. 1, "Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God." 1 Cor. iii. 5, "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed?" 2 Cor. iii. 6, "Who made us able ministers of the new testament." 2 Cor. vi. 4, "In all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God." Even magistrates, yea, and angels, are not too good to be called (and used as) the ministers of God for the good of his servants, Rom. xiii. 3, 6; "and to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation," Heb. i. 7, 14. Yea, Christ himself is so called, Rom. xv. 8. And therefore you have no more excuse for your disobedience, than for refusing his help that would pull you out of fire or water when you are perishing. You see here that your pastors cannot command you what they list, nor how they list. They have nothing to do with the magistrate's work; nor can they usurp the power of a master over his servants, nor command you how to do your work and worldly business (except in the morality of it). In the fifteen particulars before mentioned their work and office doth consist, and in those it is that you owe them a rational obedience.

Direct. II. Know your own pastors in particular: and know both what you owe to a minister as a minister of Christ in common, and what you owe him moreover as your pastor by special relation and charge.[98] When any minister of Christ delivereth his word to you, he must be heard as a minister of Christ, and not as a private man; but to your own pastor you are bound in a particular relation, to an ordinary and regular attendance upon his ministry in all the particulars before mentioned that concern you. Your own bishop must in a special manner be obeyed:

1. As one that laboureth among you, and is over you in the Lord, and admonisheth you, and preacheth to you the word of God,[99] watching for your souls as one that must give account, 1 Thess. v. 12; Heb. xiii. 7, 17; and as one that ruleth well, and especially that laboureth in the word and doctrine, 1 Tim. v. 17; "teaching you publicly and from house to house, taking heed to himself, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made him an overseer, not ceasing to warn every one night and day with tears," Acts xx. 19, 20, 24, 28, 31, 33. "Preaching Christ, and warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that he may present every man perfect in Christ," Col. i. 28.

2. He is to be obeyed as the guide of the congregation in the management of God's public worship. You must seriously and reverently join with him every Lord's day at least in the public prayers and praises of the church, and not ordinarily go from him to another.

3. You must receive from him or with him, the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ: which of old was administered every Lord's day, and that only in the church where the bishop was, that is, in every church of the faithful: for, as Ignatius most observably saith,[100] ἓν θυσιαστήριον πάσῃ τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ, καὶ εἷς ἐπίσκοπος ἅμα τῷ πρεσβυτερίῳ, καὶ τοῖς διακόνοις—UNUM ALTARE OMNI ECCLESIÆ, ET UNUS EPISCOPUS CUM PRESBYTERIO ET DIACONIS.—IN EVERY CHURCH there is ONE ALTAR, and ONE BISHOP, WITH THE PRESBYTERY and DEACONS.—So in his Epist. ad Magnes. Come all as one, to the temple of God, as to one altar, as to one Jesus Christ. And saith Tertullian,[101] Eucharistæ Sacramentum—nec de aliorum manu quam præsidentium sumimus: We take not the sacrament of the eucharist from the hand of any but the president.

4. You must have recourse to him especially for the resolution of your weighty doubts, in private.[102]

5. You must hear your bishops and repent, when in meekness and love they convince and admonish you against your sins, and not resist the word of God which they powerfully and patiently lay home to your consciences, nor put them with grief to cut you off, as impenitent in scandalous sins, from the communion of the church.

6. You must, after any scandalous sin which hath brought you under the censure of the church, go humble yourselves by penitent confession, and crave absolution and restoration to the communion of the church.

7. Your public church alms should ordinarily be deposited into the bishop's hands, who relieveth the orphans and widows, and is the curator or guardian to all absolutely that are in want, saith Ignatius to Polycarp, cited by Dr. Hammond on 1 Cor. xii. 28.[103]

8. You must send for him in your sickness to pray with you and advise you. See Dr. Hammond on James v. 14. And on 1 Cor. xii. 28, he saith, Polycarp himself speaking of the elders or bishops saith, They visit and take care of all that are sick, not neglecting the widows, the orphans, or the poor. And Dr. Hammond on James v. 14, showeth out of antiquity,[104] that One part of the bishop's office is set down, that they are those that visit all the sick. Not but that a stranger may be made use of also; but ordinarily and especially your own bishop must be sent for; because as you are his special charge, and he "watcheth for your souls as one that must give account," Heb. xiii. 17, so it is supposed that he is better acquainted with your spiritual state and life than others are, and therefore in less danger of wronging you by mistake and misapplications; for it is supposed that you have acquainted him with your personal condition in your health, having taken him as your ordinary counsellor for your souls, and that he hath acquainted himself with your condition, and confirmed you, and watched over you by name, as Ignatius to Polycarp bishop of Smyrna saith,[105] Sæpe congregationes fiant: ex nomine omnes quære: servos et ancillas ne despicias, as bishop Usher's old Latin translation hath it: Let congregations be often held; inquire after all by name: despise not servants and maids. The bishop took notice of every servant and maid by name; and he had opportunity to see whether they were in the congregation.

9. You must use him as your leader or champion against all heretics, infidels, and subtle adversaries of the truth, with whom you are unable to contend yourselves, that your bishops may clear up and defend the cause of Christ and righteousness, and by {584} irresistible evidence, stop the mouths of all gainsayers.[106] It is for your own benefit, and not for theirs, that you are required in all these works of their office to use them and readily obey them. And what hurt can it do you to obey them in any of these?

Direct. III. Understand how it is that Christ doth authorize and send forth his ministers, lest wolves and deceivers should either obtrude themselves upon you as your lawful pastors, or should alienate you from those that God hath set over you, by puzzling you in subtle questioning or disputing against their call. Not only Paul's warnings, Acts xx. 30, and 2 Tim. iii. 6, but lamentable experience, telleth us what an eager desire there is in proud and self-conceited men, to obtrude themselves as teachers and pastors on the churches, to creep into houses and lead people captive, and draw away disciples after them, and say (and perhaps think) that others are deceivers, and none are the true teachers indeed but they. And the first part of the art and work of wolves, is to separate you from your pastors, and catch up the stragglers that are thus separated. The malice, and slanders, and lies, and railing of hirelings and deceivers, and all the powers of hell, are principally poured out on the faithful pastors and leaders of the flocks. The principal work of the Jesuits against you, is to make you believe that your pastors are no true pastors, but uncalled private persons, and mere usurpers: and the reason must be, because they have not an ordination of bishops successively from the apostles without interruption.[107] I confess if our interruptions had been half as lamentable as theirs, (by their schisms, and variety of popes at once; and popes accused, or condemned by general councils, for heretics; and their variety of ways of electing popes, and their incapacities by simony, usurpation, &c.) I should think at least that our ancestors had cause to have questioned the calling of some that were then over them. But I will help you in a few words to discern the juggling of these deceivers, by showing you the truth concerning the way of Christ's giving his commission to the ministers that are truly called, and the needlessness of the proof of an uninterrupted succession of regular ordination, to your reception of your pastors and their ministrations.

The ministerial commission is contained in, and conveyed by, the law of Christ, which is the charter of the church, and every true bishop or pastor hath his power from Christ, and not at all from the efficient conveyance of any mortal man: even as kings have their power not from man, but from God himself; but with this difference, that in the church Christ hath immediately determined of the species of church offices, but in the civil government, only of the genus (absolutely and immediately).[108] You cannot have a plainer illustration, than by considering how mayors, and bailiffs, and constables are annually made in corporations: the king by his charter saith, that every year at a certain time the free-men or burgesses shall meet, and choose one to be their mayor, and the steward or town-clerk shall give him his oath, and thus or thus he shall be invested in his place, and this shall be his power and work, and no other. So the king by his law appointeth that constables and churchwardens shall be chosen in every parish. Now let our two questions be here decided: 1. Who is it that giveth these officers their power? 2. Whether an uninterrupted succession of such officers through all generations since the enacting of that law, be necessary to the validity of the present officer's authority? To the first, It is certain that it is the king by his law or charter that giveth the officers their power; and that the corporations and parishes do not give it them by electing or investing them; yea, though the king hath made such election and investiture to be in a sort his instrument in the conveying it, it is but as the opening of the door to let them in, sine quo non; but it doth not make the instruments to be at all the givers of the power, nor were they the receiving or containing mediate causes of it. The king never gave them the power which the officers receive, either to use, or to give; but only makes the electors his instruments to determine of the person that shall receive the power immediately from the law or charter; and the investers he maketh his instruments of solemnizing the tradition and admission: which if the law or charter make absolutely necessary ad esse officii, it will be so; but if it make it necessary only ad melius esse, or but for order and regular admittance when no necessity hindereth it, the necessity will be no more. And to the second question, It is plain that the law, which is the fundamentum juris, remaining still the same, if a parish omit for divers years to choose any constable or churchwarden, yet the next time they do choose one according to law, the law doth authorize him, nevertheless, though there was an interruption or vacancy so long; and so in corporations (unless the law or charter say the contrary): so is it in the present case. 1. It is the established law of Christ, which describeth the office, determineth of the degree and kind of power, and granteth or conveyeth it, when the person is determined of by the electors and ordainers, though by ordination the delivery and admission is regularly to be solemnized; which actions are of just so much necessity as that law hath made them, and no more. 2. And if there were never so long an interruption or vacancy, he that afterward entereth lawfully, so as to want nothing which the law of Christ hath made necessary to the being of the office, doth receive his power nevertheless immediately from the law of Christ. And Bellarmine himself saith, that it is not necessary to the people, and to the validity of sacraments and offices to them, to know that their pastors be truly called or ordained: and if it be not necessary to the validity of sacraments, it is not necessary to the validity of ordination. And W. Johnson[109] confesseth to me that consecration is not absolutely necessary ad esse officii to the pope himself: no, nor any one sort of electors in his election, p. 133. And in his Repl. Term. Expl. p. 45, he saith, Neither papal nor episcopal jurisdiction (as all the learned know) depends of episcopal or papal ordination: nor was there ever interruptions of successions in episcopal jurisdiction in any see, for want of that alone, that is necessary for consecrating others validly, and not for jurisdiction over them. You see then how little sincerity is in these men's disputations, when they would persuade you to reject your lawful pastors as no true {585} ministers of Christ, for want of their ordination or succession.

Direct. IV. Though the sacraments and other ministerial offices are valid, when a minister is qualified (in his abilities and call) but with so much as is essential to the office, though he be defective in degree of parts and faithfulness, and have personal faults which prove his own destruction; yet so great is the difference between a holy, heavenly, learned, judicious, experienced, skilful, zealous, laborious, faithful minister, and an ignorant, ungodly, idle, unskilful one, and so highly should every wise man value the best means and advantages to his eternal happiness, that he should use all lawful means in his power to enjoy and live under such an able, godly, powerful ministry, though he part with his worldly wealth and pleasure to attain it.[110] I know no evil must be done for the attainment of the greatest helps; (for we cannot expect that God should bless a sinful course, or that our sin should tend to the saving of our souls;) and I know God can bless the weakest means, when they are such as he appointeth us to use; and can teach us by angels when he denieth us the help of men: but Scripture, reason, and experience tell us, that ordinarily he worketh morally by means, and fitteth the means to the work which he will do by them: and as he doth not use to light men by a clod or stone, but by a candle, nor by a rotten post or glow-worm so much as by a torch or luminary; so he doth not use to work as much by an ignorant, drunken, idle person, who despiseth the God, the heaven, the Christ, the Spirit, the grace, the sacred word which he preacheth, and vilifieth both his own and other men's souls, as he doth by an able and compassionate minister. And the soul is of so much more worth than the body, and eternal things than temporal, that a little commodity to the soul in order to the securing of our salvation, must be preferred before a great deal of worldly riches: he that knoweth what his soul, his Saviour, and heaven is worth, will not easily sit down contented, under such a dark, and dull, and starving minister, as he feeleth he can but little profit by, if better may be had on lawful terms. He that feeleth no difference between the ministry of these two sorts of men, it is because he is a stranger to the work of the gospel on the soul: and "if the gospel (in its truth, or worth, or use) be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, the god of this world having blinded their minds."[111] It must be no small matter that must satisfy a serious christian to cast his soul upon any hurtful or dangerous disadvantage. Though Daniel and his companions may live well on pulse, yea, and Ezekiel upon bread baked with dung, when God will have it so, yet no wise man will choose such a diet: especially if his diseases require the exactest diet, or his weakness the most restorative, and all too little; which, alas, is the common case. Yet this caution you must here take with you, 1. That you pretend not your own benefit, to the common loss or hurt of others. 2. And that you consider as well where you may do most good, as where you may get most; for the way of greatest service, is the way of greatest gain.

Direct. V. Understand what sort and measure of belief it is that you owe to your teachers, that so your incredulity hinder not your faith in Christ, nor your over-much credulity betray you to heresy, nor make you the servants of men, contrary to Matt. xxiii. 8-10; Eph. iv. 13; 2 Cor. i. 24; Acts xx. 30. We see on one side how many poor souls are cheated into schism and dangerous errors, by forsaking their teachers and refusing their necessary help, and all upon this pretence, that they must not make men the lords of their faith, nor pin their faith on the minister's sleeve, nor take their religion upon trust. And on the other side we see among the papists, and in every sect, what lamentable work is made by an over-much credulity and implicit belief of ambitious, worldly, factious, proud, and erroneous guides. |The order and credit of ministerial teaching the doctrine of salvation.|That you may escape both these extremes, you must observe the truth of these conclusions following, which show you what it is that your teachers have to reveal unto you, and in what order, and how far the several particulars are, or are not to be taken upon their words.

And first, as a preparative, it is presupposed, (1.) That you find yourself ignorant, and one that needeth a teacher; for if you think you know all that you need to know already, you are like a full bottle that will hold no more. (2.) It is presupposed that you take the man that you learn of to be wiser than yourself, and fit to teach you; either because fame or other men's reports have told you so, (as the woman, John iv. drew the Samaritans to Christ,) or because his own profession of skill doth make you think so (as you will hearken to him that professeth to be able to teach you any art or science); or else because your present hearing his discourse doth convince you of his wisdom; by one of these means you are brought to think that he is one that you may learn of, and is fit for you to hear {586} (so that here is no need that first you take him to be infallible, or that you know which is the true church, as the papists say). These are supposed.

To know yourself.

The doctrines which he is to teach you are these, and in this method to be taught. 1. He will teach you the natural knowledge of yourself; that being a man, you are a rational, free agent, made by another for his will and use, and by him to be ruled in order to your ultimate end, being wholly his, and at his disposal.

To know God and holiness.

2. He will next teach you that there is a God that made you, and what he is, and what relation he standeth in to you, and you to him, as your Creator, your Owner, your Ruler, and your Benefactor, and your End: and what duty you owe him in these relations, to submit to him, and resign yourselves to him as his own, to be obedient to all his laws, and to love him and delight in him; and this with all your heart, and soul, and might; even to serve him with all the powers of your soul and body, and with your estates and all his blessings.

To know the life to come.

3. He will next teach you that this God hath made your souls immortal, and that there is a life after this where everlasting happiness or misery will be your part, and where the great rewards and punishments are executed by the Judge of all the world as men have behaved themselves in this present life. That your end and happiness is not here, but in the life to come, and that this life is the way and time of preparation, in which everlasting happiness is won or lost.

Thus far he needeth no supernatural proof of what he saith; but can prove it all to you from the light of nature: and these things you are not primarily to receive of him as a testifier by mere believing him; but as a teacher, by learning of him the evidences by which you may by degrees come to know these things yourselves.

Yet it is supposed that all along you give him so much credit as the difference between his knowledge and yours doth require, so far as it appeareth to you; as you will hear a physician, a lawyer, a philosopher, or any man, with reverence, while he discourseth of the matters of his own profession; as confessing his judgment to be better than yours, and therefore more suspecting your own apprehensions than his. Not but that the truth may compel you to discern it, though you should come with no such reverence or respect to him; but then you cast yourself upon much disadvantage irrationally; and this human belief of him is but a medium to your learning, and so to the knowledge of the matter; so that you do not stop and rest in his authority or credibility, but only use it in order to your discovery of that evidence which you rest in, which as a teacher he acquaints you with.

These things being thus far revealed by natural light, are (usually) at first apprehended by natural reason, not so as presently to put or prove the soul in a state of saving grace; but so as to awaken it to make further inquiry; and so when the soul is come so far as to see the same truths by supernatural grace in the supernatural revelation of the holy Scriptures, then they become more effectual and saving, which before were known preparatorily; and so the same truths are then both the objects of knowledge and of faith.

To know that Christ, faith, repentance, and obedience, is the way to it.

4. Having acquainted you with man's ultimate end and happiness in the life to come, the next thing to be taught you by the ministers of Christ, is, that Christ as our Saviour, and faith, and repentance, and sincere obedience to be performed by us through his grace, is the way to heaven, or the means by which we must attain this end. Though the knowledge of the preacher's wisdom, piety, and credibility remove some impediments which would make the receiving of this the more difficult to you, yet you are not to take it barely on his word, as a point of human faith; but you are to call for his proof of it, that you may see better reasons than his affirmations for the entertainment of it.

To know that this is true because God hath revealed it; or it is his word.

5. The proof that he will give you is in these two propositions: 1. God's revelations are all true. 2. This is one of God's revelations: this is an argument, Whatsoever God saith is true: but this God saith, therefore this is true. The first proposition you are not to take upon the trust of his word, but to learn of him as a teacher to know it in its proper evidence; for it is the formal object of your faith: the veracity of God is first known to you, by the same evidence and means as you know that there is a God; and then it is by the force of this that you believe the particular truths which are the material object of faith. And the second proposition, that God hath revealed this, is orderly to be first proved, and so received upon its proper evidence; and not taken merely upon your teacher's word: yet if you do believe him by a human faith as a man that is likely to know what he saith, and this in order to a divine faith, it will not hinder, but help your divine faith and salvation; and is indeed no more than is your duty.

Here note, 1. That primarily these two great principles of faith, God is true, and this is God's revelation, are not themselves credenda, the material objects of divine faith, but of knowledge. 2. That yet the result of both is de fide, matter of faith. 3. And the same principles are secondarily de fide, as it is that there is a God. For though they are first to be known by natural evidence, yet when the Scripture is opened to us, we shall find them there revealed; and so the same thing may be the object both of knowledge and of faith. 4. And faith itself is a sort of knowledge; for though human faith have that uncertainty in its premises, (for the most part,) as forbiddeth us to say, (properly,) I know this to be true, because such a man said it; yet divine faith hath that certainty which may make it an excellent sort of knowledge; as I have proved copiously elsewhere. In believing man we argue thus, Whatsoever so wise and honest a man saith, is credible, that is, most likely to be true: but this he saith; therefore, &c. But in believing God we argue thus, Whatever God saith is credible, that is, as infallible truth: but this God saith; therefore, &c. So that the word credible, signifieth not the same thing in the two arguments; nor are divine faith and human faith the same.

To know that the gospel is his word.

6. The next thing that the preacher hath to teach you, is the proof of the aforesaid minor proposition (for the major was proved in the proof of a Deity); and that is thus: The gospel which Christ and his apostles first preached, and is now delivered in the sacred Scriptures, is the word, or infallible revelation, of God: but this doctrine, that Christ, with faith, and repentance, and obedience on our parts, are the way to life eternal, is the gospel which Christ and his apostles first preached, &c.; therefore it is the word of God. For the minor you need not take your teacher's word, if you can read; for you may see it in the Bible (of which more anon): but the major is that which all men desire to be assured of, That the gospel is God's word. And for that, {587} though a belief of your teacher is a help and good preparatory, yet you are not there to stop, but to use him as a teacher to show you the truth of it in the proofs: or else you must take any thing for God's word, which your teacher affirmeth to be such. And the proof which he will give you, must be some divine attestation which may be showed to those whom we would convince.

The Divine attestation of the gospel.

7. The divine attestation, which he is next to show you, hath many parts, that it may be complete and satisfactory. 1. God's antecedent testimony. 2. His inherent or impressed testimony. 3. His adherent, concomitant testimony. 4. His subsequent testimony. 1. God's antecedent testimony by which he attested the gospel, is the train of promises, prophecies, types, and the preparing ministry of John, which all foretold Christ, and were fulfilled in him. 2. God's impressed testimony is that image and superscription of God, (in his governing wisdom, holiness, and love,) which is inimitably engraven on the gospel; as an image upon a seal, which is thereby made the instrument to imprint the same on other things. Thus as the sun, the gospel shineth, and proveth itself by its proper light. 3. The concomitant attestation of God, is that of multitudes of certain, uncontrolled miracles, done by Christ and his apostles, which proved the approving hand of God, and oblige all rational creatures to believe a testimony so confirmed to them. Among these, Christ's own resurrection and ascension, and the gifts of his apostles, are the chief. 4. The subsequent attestation of God is, the power and efficacy of the gospel, in calling and sanctifying unto Christ a peculiar people, zealous of good works, and directing and confirming them against all temptations and torments to the end; producing that same image of God on the souls of his elect, which is (more perfectly) engraven on the world itself; making such changes, and gathering such a people unto God, as no other doctrine ever did. And all these four attestations are but one, even the Holy Spirit, who is become the great witness of Christ and his gospel in the world: viz. 1. The Spirit of prophecy is the antecedent attestation. 2. The holy image which the Spirit hath printed on the gospel itself, is the inherent evidence. 3. The miracles of the Spirit, is the concomitant attestation or evidence. 4. And the sanctifying work of the Spirit is the subsequent attestation, renewed and accompanying it to the end of the world. So that the argument runs thus, That doctrine which hath this witness of the Holy Ghost, antecedently in such prophecies, inherently bearing his image so inimitably, accompanied by so many certain, uncontrolled miracles, and followed and attended with such matchless success in the sanctification of the body of Christ, is fully attested by God to be his own: but such is the doctrine of the gospel; therefore, &c. The major you are not to take upon trust from your teachers, though your esteem of their judgment may the better dispose you to learn; but you are to discern the evidences of truth which is apparent in it. For he that denieth this, must by force of argument be driven to deny, 1. Either that God is the Governor of the world; or that he is the supreme, but say he is controlled by another. 2. Or that he is good and true; and must affirm that he either governeth the world by mere deceits, and undiscernible lies, or that he hath given up the power to some one that so governeth it: all which is but to affirm that there is no God (which is supposed to be proved before).

To know the matters of fact subservient to our faith.

8. There now remaineth nothing to be taught you, as to prove the truth of the gospel, but only those matters of fact which are contained and supposed in the minor of the two last arguments: and they are these particulars. 1. That there were such persons as Christ and his apostles, and such a gospel preached by them. 2. That such miracles were done by them, as are supposed. 3. That both doctrine and miracles were committed to writing by them, in the Scriptures, for the certainer preserving them to the church's use.[112] 4. That churches were planted, and souls converted and confirmed by them in the first ages, many of whom did seal them with their blood. 5. That there have been a succession of such churches as have adhered to this Christ and gospel. 6. That this which we call the Bible is that very book containing those sacred writings afore-mentioned. 7. That it hath been still copied out and preserved without any such depravation or corruption as might frustrate its ends. 8. That the copies are such out of which we have them translated, and which we show. 9. That they are so truly translated as to have no such corruptions or mistakes, as to frustrate their ends, or make them unapt for the work they were appointed to. 10. That these particular words are indeed here written which we read; and these particular doctrines containing the essentials of christianity, together with the rest of the material objects of faith.

All these ten particulars are matters of fact that are merely subservient to the constituting principles of our faith, but yet very needful to be known. Now the question is, How these must be known and received by us so as not to invalidate our faith? and how far our teachers must be here believed? And first it is very useful to us to inquire, How so many of these matters of fact as were then existent were known to the first christians? As how knew they in those days that there were such persons as Christ and his apostles? that they preached such doctrines, and spake such languages, and did such works, and that they wrote such books, and sent such epistles to the churches, and that churches were hereby converted and confirmed, and martyrs sealed this with their blood, &c.? It is easy to tell how they were certain of all these; even by their own eyes, and ears, and sensible observation, as we know that there are Englishmen live in England; and those that were remoter from some of the matters of fact, knew them by such report of those that did see them, as those among us that never saw the king, or court, or his restoration, do know that such a thing there was, and such a person there is. Thus they knew it then.

From whence I note, 1. That in those days it was not necessary to the being of true faith, that any supernatural testimony of the Spirit, or any other sort of proof, than their very senses and reason, should acquaint them with those matters of fact which they were eye-witnesses of. 2. That credible report or history was then the means for any one that saw not a matter of fact, to know as much as they that saw it. 3. That therefore this is now the way also of producing faith. Some things we have yet sight and sense for; as that such Bibles and such churches are existent; that such holy effects this doctrine hath upon the soul (which we see in others by the fruits, and after feel in ourselves): the rest we must know by history, tradition, or report.

And in the reception of these historical passages note further, 1. That human belief is here a naturally {588} necessary means to acquaint us with the matter of our divine belief. 2. That there are various degrees of this belief, and some need more of it by far than others, according to the various degrees of their ignorance:[113] as he that cannot read himself, must know by human belief (in great part) that the preacher readeth truly, or that such words indeed are in the gospel as he saith are there; but a literate person may know this by his eye-sight, and not take it upon trust. So he that understandeth not Hebrew and Greek, must take it upon trust that the Scripture is truly translated; but another that understandeth those tongues, may see it with his eyes. 3. History being the proper means to know matters of fact that are done in times past, and out of our sight, the same industry that is necessary to a thorough acquaintance with other history, is necessary to the same acquaintance with this. 4. That the common beginning of receiving all such historical truths is first by believing our teachers so far as becometh learners, and in the mean time going on to learn till we come to know as much as they, and upon the same historical evidence as they. 5. That if any man be here necessitated to take more than others upon the trust or belief of their teachers, it is long of their ignorance: and therefore if such cry out against their taking things on trust, it is like a mad-man's raving against them that would order him; or as if one should reproach a nurse for feeding infants, and not letting them feed themselves. Oportet discentem credere. He that will not believe his teacher will never learn. If a child will not believe his master that tells him which are the letters, the vowels, and consonants, and what is their power, and what they spell, and what every word signifieth in the language which he is teaching him, will he be ever the better for his teaching? 6. That he that knoweth these historical matters no otherwise than by the belief of his particular teacher, may nevertheless have a divine and saving faith; for though he believe by a human faith that these things were done, that this is the same book, &c., yet he believeth the gospel itself (thus brought to his knowledge) because God is true that hath attested it. Even as it was a saving faith in Mary and Martha, that knew by their eyes and ears, and not only by belief, that Lazarus was raised, and that Christ preached thus and thus to them; but believed his doctrine to be true, because of God's veracity who attested it. 7. That it is the great wisdom and mercy of God to his weak and ignorant people, to provide them teachers to acquaint them with these things, and to vouchsafe them such a help to their salvation, as to make it a standing office in his church to the end of the world, that the infants and ignorant might not be cast off, but have fathers, and nurses, and teachers to take care of them. 8. But especially mark, that yet these infants have much disadvantage in comparison of others, that know all these matters of fact by the same convincing evidence as their teachers; and that he that followeth on to learn it as he ought, may come to prove these subservient matters of fact, by such a concurrence of evidences, as amounteth to an infallibility or moral certainty, beyond mere human faith as such: as e. g. an illiterate person that hath it but from others, may be certain that it is indeed a Bible which is ordinarily read and preached to him; and that it is so truly translated as to be a sufficient rule of faith and life, having no mistake which must hazard a man's salvation; because the Bible in the original tongues is so commonly to be had, and so many among us understand it, and there is among them so great a contrariety of judgments and interests, that it is not possible but many would detect such a public lie, if any should deal falsely in so weighty and evident a case. There is a moral certainty (equal to a natural) that some actions will not be done by whole countries, which every individual person hath power and natural liberty to do: as e. g. there is no man in the kingdom but may possibly kill himself, or may fast to-morrow, or may lie in bed many days together; and yet it is certain, that all the people in England will do none of these: so it is possible that any single person may lie even in a palpable public case, as to pretend that this is a Bible when it is some other book, or that this is the same book that was received from the apostles by the churches of that age, when it is not it, &c.; but for all the country, and all the world that are competent witnesses, to agree to do this, is a mere impossibility, I mean such a thing as cannot be done without a miracle, yea, a universal miracle. And more than so, it is impossible that God should do a miracle to accomplish such a universal wickedness and deceit; whereas it is possible that natural causes by a miracle may be turned out of course, where there is nothing in the nature of God against it (as that the sun should stand still, &c.). We have a certainty that there was a Julius Cæsar, a William the Conqueror, an Aristotle, a Cicero, an Augustine, a Chrysostom, and that the laws and statutes of the land were really enacted by the kings and parliaments whose names they bear; because the natural and civil interests of so many thousands that are able to detect it, could never be reconciled here to a deceit. When judges and counsellors, kings and nobles, and plaintiffs and defendants, utter enemies, are all agreed in it, it is more certain to a single person than if he had seen the passing of them with his eyes. So in our case, when an office was established in the church, to read and preach this gospel in the assemblies; and when all the congregations took it as the charter of their salvation, and the rule of their faith and life; and when these pastors and churches were dispersed over all the christian world, who thus worshipped God from day to day; and all sects and enemies were ready to have detected a falsification or deceit; it is here as impossible for such a kind of history, or tradition, or testimony to be false, in such material points of fact, as for one man's senses to deceive him, and much more.

Thus I have at once showed you the true order of the preaching, and proofs, and receiving of the several matters of religion, and how and into what our faith must be resolved; and how far your teachers are to be believed. And here you must especially observe two things: 1. That there can be no danger in this resolution of faith, of derogating either from the work of the Holy Ghost, or the Scriptures' self-evidence, or any other cause whatever; because we ascribe nothing to history or tradition which was ascribed to any of these causes by the first christians; but only put our reception by tradition, instead {589} of their reception immediately by sense: our receiving by infallible history, is but in the place of their receiving by sight; and not in the place of self-evidence of Scripture, or any testimony or teaching of the Spirit. The method is exactly laid down, Heb. ii. 3, 4, "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?" Here is the sum of what I have been saying.

2. Observe also the great difference between us and the papists in this controversy of using tradition in the resolution of our faith. 1. They decide the main question in gross by tradition, viz. Whether the Scripture be the word of God? But we only decide the questions about history or matters of fact by it, which are subservient to the other. 2. The tradition which most of them plead, is nothing but the authoritative judgment of the successive pastors of the church in a general council confirmed by the pope; and as another faction among them saith, The reception of the whole church, both laity and clergy; and this church must be only the Roman faction. But the tradition which we plead is the concurrent testimony of friends and foes, orthodox and heretics; and of all the churches throughout the world, both Greek and Latin, Ethiopian, Armenian, protestants, &c. And this testimony we plead, not merely as a human testimony, much less as such as is credible chiefly for the mere power (real or pretended) of the testifiers; but as such as by a concurrence of testimonies and circumstances hath (besides the teachers' authority) the evidences of infallible moral certainty, in the very history; as we have of the statutes of the realm.

Direct. VI. Understand what kind and measure of obedience it is that you owe your lawful pastors, that you neither prove schismatical and unruly, nor yet have a hand in setting up idols and usurpations in the church. This you may learn from the foregoing description of the pastor's work. The kind of your obedience is commensurate to the kind of his office and work. You are not to obey your pastors, as civil magistrates that bear the sword; nor as physicians, to tell you what you must do for your health; nor as artificers, to command you how to plough, and sow, and trade, &c. (except in the morality of these); but it is as your teachers and guides in matters of salvation that you must obey them.[114] And that not as prophets or lawgivers to the church; but as the stated officers of Christ, to open and apply the laws that he hath given, and determine of such circumstances as are subservient thereunto. Not as those that have dominion of your faith, or may preach another gospel, or contradict any truth of God, which by Scripture or nature he hath revealed, or can dispense with any duty which he hath commanded; but as those that have all their power from God, and for God and your salvation, and the good of other men's souls; to edification only, and not to destruction: particular cases I here purposely forbear.

Direct. VII. Be sure that you look on them as the officers of Christ in all that they do as such; and see not only their natural, but their ecclesiastical persons, that through them you may have to do with God. Especially in preaching, and administering the sacraments, and binding the impenitent, and absolving the penitent, and comforting the sad and humbled souls. All the holiness, and life, and power of your spiritual converse with them consisteth in your seeing and conversing with God in them, and using them as his messengers or officers, that deliver his message and do his work, and not their own. If you disobey them in his work, it is God that you disobey; and if they teach you his word, or deliver you Christ and his benefits in the sacraments, it is Christ himself that doth it by them as his instruments, so far as they do it according to his commission and his will. This observing Christ in their teaching will possess you with due reverence and care, and cause you to do it as a holy work; and to see Christ in them, delivering and sealing his covenant to you, will very much increase your joy; when man as man is but a shadow.

Direct. VIII. Make use of their help in private, and not in public only: as the use of a physician is not only to read a lecture of physic to his patients, but to be ready to direct every person according to their particular case (there being such variety of temperatures, diseases, and accidents, that in dangerous cases the direction of the judicious is needful in the application); so here, it is not the least of the pastoral work, to oversee the individuals, and to give them personally such particular advice as their case requireth. Never expect that all thy books, or sermons, or prayers, or meditations should serve thy turn without the counsel of thy pastors, in greater cases; for that were but to devise how to prove God's officers needless to his church. If thou be an ignorant or unconverted sinner, go to the minister, and ask him, what thou must do to be saved? and resolve to follow his sound advice. If thou be in doubt of any weighty point of faith or godliness, or assaulted perilously by any adversary, or need his advice for thy settled peace, thy assurance of pardon and salvation, and thy preparation for death; go ask counsel of thy pastors, and receive their help with readiness and thankfulness: or if thou live where there is none that is able and willing thus to help thee, remove to them that are such, if lawfully thou canst.

Direct. IX. Assist you pastors in the work of God, by the duties of your places which tend thereto: labour by your holy, serious conference, to instruct the ignorant, and convince the unbelieving, and convert the ungodly, and strengthen the weak, with whom you have fit opportunity for such work. Labour by your holy examples, by love, and concord, and meekness, and sobriety, and contempt of the world, and a heavenly life, to "shine as lights in the midst of a dark and crooked generation." Preach all of you, by the examples of your blameless, humble, holy lives. Oh how abundantly would this course promote the success of the public preaching of the gospel! If you would cause those men to see the glory and power of the gospel in your holy and heavenly lives, who cannot see it in itself: then many that would not be won by the word, might be won without it (to seek after it at least) by your conversations.[115] {590} Thus all must preach and be helpers of the ministers of Christ.

Direct. X. Forsake not your faithful pastors to follow deceivers; but adhere to them who spend and are spent for you; defend their innocency against false accusers; and refuse them not such maintenance as is needful to their entire giving up themselves to that holy work to which they are devoted.[116] Read and study well Eph. iv. 13-15; Acts xx. 30. It is for your sakes that your faithful pastors are singled out in the world to bear the slanders and contradictions of the wicked; and to lead the way in the fiery trial. If they would forsake you, and that sacred truth and duty that is needful to your salvation, and sell you up into the hands of cruel and deceitful men, it were as easy for them to have the applause of men, and the prosperity of the world, as others: it is perfidious ingratitude to forsake them in trial, that must lose their lives and all the world, rather than forsake you or betray your souls; or to grudge them food and raiment that lay by the gainful employments of the world, that they may attend continually on the service of your souls.

[88]   Disput. ii. of Church Government, chap. i. and Universal Concord.

[89]   Of the difference between fixed and unfixed ministers, see my Disput. ii. iii. of Church Government, and Jos. Acosta lib. v. c. 21, 22, de Missionibus.

[90]   Rom. x. 7, 14; Mark xvi. 15; Matt. xxviii. 19, 20.

[91]   2 Cor. v. 19-21; Acts xxvi. 17, 18; Eph. ii. 19; Acts ii. 37-40.

[92]   Tit. i. 7; 1 Cor. iv. 1, 2; Matt. xxviii. 19, 20; Acts xx. 32; 1 Cor. iii. 11, 12.

[93]   Acts xiv. 23; 2 Tim. ii. 2; Acts xiii. 3; ii. 41, 42; vi. 2; xx. 7, 28; 1 Tim. v. 17; Titus i. 5; Acts xx. 30, 31; Col. i. 28; Eph. iv. 11, 42; Mal. ii. 7; 1 Tim. v. 17.

[94]   1 Cor. xiv. 16, 26; Acts xx. 7, 36; James v. 14; Acts vi. 4; ii. 42; Phil. i. 4; Neh. xi. 24; xi. 17; 1 Cor. xi. 24; x. 16; Heb. vii. 7; Tit. ii. 15; i. 9, 11; 1 Tim. v. 19; iii. 5; Tit. iii. 10; Matt. xviii. 17, 18; 1 Cor. v. 4, 11, 13; Eph. iv. 13, 14; Acts xv.

[95]   Princes may force their subjects by the temporal sword which they bear: bishops may not force their flock with any corporal or external violence. Bilson, Christ. Subjection, p. 525.

[96]   Dr. Hammond Annot. q. d. The bishops of your several churches, I exhort—Take care of your several churches, and govern them, not as secular rulers, by force, but as pastors do their sheep, by calling and going before them, that so they may follow of their own accord. If you would know the true nature and extent of the bishop's work and office, read carefully the said Dr. Hammond's Paraphrase on Acts xx. 20, 28; Heb. xiii. 7, 17; 1 Tim. v. 17; 1 Thess. v. 12; Heb. xiii.; Annot. a. Tit. iii. 10; 1 Cor. xii. 28; Annot. e. Jam. v. 14; Annot. Acts xi. 30; Annot. b. Acts xiv. 23.

[97]   Chrysost. cited by Bilson. p. 525. But if any man wander from the right path of the christian faith, the pastor must use great pains, care, and patience. For he may not be forced, nor constrained with terror, but only persuaded to return entirely to the truth.——A bishop cannot cure men with such authority as a shepherd doth his sheep.—For of all men christian bishops may least correct the faults of men by force, p. 526. Matt. xx. 26; Mark x. 43. See Psal. ciii. 21; civ. 4; Isa. xvi. 6; Jer. xxxiii. 21; Joel i. 9, 13; ii. 17; 2 Cor. xi. 23; Acts xxvi. 26; Rom. xv. 16; Eph. iii. 7; Col. i. 23, 25; 1 Tim. iv. 6; 1 Thess. iii. 2; Col. i. 7.

[98]   Functiones in ecclesia perpetuæ sunt duæ, Presbyterorum et Diaconorum: Presbyteros voco cum omni ecclesia veteri eos, qui ecclesiam pascunt verbi prædicatione, sacramentis et clavibus; quæ jure divino sunt individua. Grotius de Imperio, p. 267. c. 10.

[99]   Bishop Jer. Taylor of Repentance, Pref. "I am sure we cannot give account of souls of which we have no notice."

[100]   Ignat. Epis. ad Philad. Vid. Mead's Disc. of Churches, p. 48-50.

[101]   Tertull. de Coron. Milit. c. 3.

[102]   It is very observable that Acosta saith, l. vi. c. 12, that they found it an old custom among the Indians to confess their sins to the priests before the gospel came thither.

[103]   See more in Dr. Hammond, ibid.

[104]   Vid. Canon. Apost. 5. 32. Et Concil. Antioch. c. 5. Et Concil. Carthag. 4. Can. 35.

[105]   Vid. Just. Mart. Apol. 2. Vid. Tertul. Apol. c. 39.

[106]   I hope all this will tell you what a bishop indeed is.

[107]   Grot. de Imp. p. 273. Pastorum est ordinare pastores. Neque id officium eis competit, qua hujus aut illius ecclesiæ pastores sunt, sed qua ministri ecclesiæ catholicæ.

[108]   See in Grotius de Imper. sum. potest. p. 269. The necessary distinction of, 1. Ipsa facultas prædicandi sacramenta et claves administrandi, quod Mandatum vocat. 2. Applicatio hujus facultatis ad certam personam, viz. Ordinatio. 3. Applicatio hujus personæ ad certum cœtum et locum, viz. Electio. 4. Illud quo certa persona in certo loco ministerium suum exercet publico præsidio ac publica authoritate, viz. Confirmatio, p. 273. Constat muneris institutionem a Deo esse; ordinationem a pastoribus, confirmationem publicam a summa potestate. So that the doubt is only about election. Which yet must be differenced from consent.

[109]   See my Disput. with him of the Successive Visibility of the Church, p. 336.

[110]   Cyprian. Epis. 68. Plebs obsequens præceptis dominicis a peccatore præposito separare se debet. Which Grotius de Imper. p. 230, citing saith, Jubentur enim singuli, multo magis universi, cavere prophetas falsos, alienum pastorem fugere, ab iis declinare qui dissidia faciunt et offensas contra doctrinam. 2. Imperatur fidelibus familiarem eorum consuetudinem declinare, qui fratres, &c. 2 Cor. v.; Rom. xvi. 17; John x.; 2 Tim. iii. 6; 2 Thess. iii. 6, 14; 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4.

[111]   Satan or their own worldly advantages, saith Dr. Hammond. Dan. i. 12, 13; Ezek. iv. 12, 15. Read c. iii. Acosta excellently rebuking the negligence of their priests that taught the Indians the catechism idly, and without explication, or calling them to account about the sense, and then laid all the fault on the blockishness of the people, when Tota catechizendi ratio erat umbratilis, et ludicræ similis: ego vero (inquit) si homines ingenio acerrimo, et discendi percupidi tales præceptores nacti essent, nihil aliud quam ut duplo ignoratiores evaderent, doceri isto modo arbitrarer. Olim in symbolo addiscendo et intelligendo, mysteriisque fidei agnoscendis viri ingenio præstantes et literatura celebres, diu in catechumenorum ordine tenebantur, cum ecclesiastica disciplina vigeret; neque ante ad fidei sacramentum admittebantur, quam multas ab episcopo de symbolo conciones audissent, diu et multum cum catechista contulissent; post quas omnes curas et meditationes, magnum erat si recta sentirent, consentanea responderent, &c. And he addeth, p. 360, Equidem sic opinor, neque ab ea opinione avelli unquam potero, quin pessimo præceptori omnes esse auditores hebetes credam. A bad teacher hath always bad scholars. Even in the Roman church how little their authority can do against profaneness and negligence, the same Acosta showeth, l. 6. c. 2. p. 519. Cum in provinciali concilio Limensi ab omnibus Peruensibus episcopis cæterisque gravibus viris ad ea vitia emendenda multum operæ et studii collatum sit, atque edita extent egregia decreta de reformatione permulta, nihil tamen amplius perfectum est, quam si ab otiosis nautis de republica moderanda consultatum esset. Bonific. Mogunt. Ep. iii. mentioneth it as the error of a new-sprung sect, that heinous sinners even so continuing may be priests. And Ep. lxxiii. it is said, No man may be made a priest, that hath sinned mortally after baptism, and, Si iis qui tam in episcopatu vel presbyterio positus mortale peccatum aliquod admiserit, non debet offerre panes Domino, quanto magis patienter retrahat se ab hoc non tam honore quam onere, et aliorum locum qui digni sunt non ambiat occupare. Qui enim in erudiendis et instituendis ad virtutem populis præest, necesse est, ut in omnibus sanctus sit, et in nullo reprehensibilis habeatur. Qui enim aliquem de peccato arguit, ipse a peccato debet esse immunis. Auct. Bib. Pat. Tom. ii. p. 81. If there were somewhat too much strictness in the ancient exclusion of them that heinously sinned after baptism from the priesthood, let us not be as much too loose.

[112]   Est enim mirabilis quædam continuatio seriesque rerum, ut alia ex alia nexa, et omnes inter se aptæ colligatæque videantur. Cic. De Natur. Deor. pag. 6.

[113]   By all this it is easy to gather whether a pastor may do his work per alium. Saith Grotius de Imp. p. 290, 291, Nam illud quod quis per alium facit per se facere videtur ad eas duntaxat pertinet actiones quarum causa efficiens proxima a jure indefinita est. Yet people should labour after such maturity and stedfastness, that they might be able to stand if their pastors be dead or taken from them by persecution, yea, or forsake the truth themselves. Victor. Utic. saith of the people in Africa when their pastors were banished, and others might not be ordained in their steads: Inter hæc tamen Dei populus in fide consistens, ut examina apum cereas ædificantia mansiones, crescendo melleis fidei claviculis firmabatur. Quanto magis affligebantur, tanto magis multiplicabantur. Victor. p. 382.

[114]   We may not offer any violence, but only persuade: we have not so great authority given us by the laws, as to repress offenders; and if it were lawful for us so to do, we have no use of any such violent power: for that Christ crowneth them which abstain from sin, not of a forced, but of a willing mind and purpose. Chrys. citante Bilson of Subjection, p. 526. Et ibid. ex Hilar. If this violence were used for the true faith, the doctrine of bishops would be against it: God needeth no forced service. He requireth no constrained confession. I cannot receive any man but him that is willing: I cannot give ear, but to him that entreateth, &c. Ita et Origen. ibid. citat. 2 Cor. i. 24; Gal. i. 7, 8; 2 Cor. x. 8; xiii. 10.

[115]   Acts xviii. 24, 26, 27; Rom. xvi. 3; John iii. 8; Eph. iv. 29; 1 Pet. iv. 11; Phil. ii. 15; Matt. v. 16; 1 Pet. iii. 1, 2; 2 Pet. iii. 11: 1 Pet. i. 15, 16; ii. 12; Heb. iii. 13; Heb. x. 24.

[116]   1 Thess. v. 12, 13; 2 Tim. ii. 10; 2 Cor. iv. 15; 1 Thess. iii. 9; i. 5; Matt. xxvi. 56; 2 Tim. iv. 16; Gal. vi. 6, 10; 1 Cor. ix.; Col. i. 24.



Though truth be naturally the object of man's understanding, to which it hath a certain inclination, and though it be a delightful thing to know the truth;[117] yet that which is saving meeteth with so much opposition in the flesh, and in the world, that while it is applauded in the general, it is resisted and rejected in particulars; and yet while the use of holy truth is hated and obstinately cast away, the name and the barren profession of it is made the matter of the glorying of hypocrites, and the occasion of reproaching dissenters as heretics, and the world is filled with bloody persecutions, and inhuman, implacable enmities and divisions, by a wonderful zeal for the name of truth, even by those men that will rather venture on damnation, than they will obey the truth which they so contend for. Multitudes of men have tormented or murdered others as heretics, who themselves must be tormented in hell for not being christians. It concerneth us therefore to deal very wisely and cautelously in this business.

Direct. I. Take heed lest there be any carnal interest or lust which maketh you unwilling to receive the truth, or inclineth you to error, that it may serve that interest or lust. It is no small number of men that are strangers or enemies to the truth, not because they cannot attain the knowledge of it, but because they would not have it to be truth. And men of great learning and natural parts are frequently thus deceived and led into error by a naughty, carnal, biassed heart; either because that error is the vulgar opinion, and necessary to maintain their popular reputation, and avoid reproach; or because it is the way of men in power, and necessary to their preferment and greatness in the world; or because the truth is contrary to their fleshly lusts and pleasures, or contrary to their honour and worldly interest, and would hazard their reputations or their lives. How loth is a sensual, ungodly man to believe that "without holiness none shall see God," and that he "that is in Christ is a new creature, and that if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, the same is none of his, and that if they live after the flesh they shall die!"[118] How loth is the ambitious minister to believe that the way of Christ's service lieth not in worldly pomp, or ease, or pleasures; but in taking up the cross and following Christ in self-denial, and in being as the servant of all, in the unwearied performance of careful oversight and compassionate exhortations unto all the flock! Let a controversy be raised about any of these points, and the mind of lazy, ambitious men doth presently fall in with that part which gratifieth their fleshly lusts, and excuseth them from that toilsome way of duty which they already hate. The secret lusts and vices of a false, hypocritical heart, are the commonest and the powerfulest arguments for error; and such men are glad, that great men or learned men will give so much ease to their consciences, and shelter to their reputations, as to countenance, or make a controversy at least of that which their lusts desire to be true. Above all therefore see that you come not to inquire after truth with an unsanctified heart, and unmortified lusts, which are a bias to your minds, and make you warp from the truth which you inquire after; for if the carnal mind neither is nor can be subject to the law of God, you may easily perceive that it will be loth to believe it; when in so doing they believe their own condemnation. An honest, sanctified heart is fittest to entertain the truth.

Direct. II. Seek after the truth for the love of truth, and love it especially for its special use, as it formeth the heart and life to the image and will of God; and not for the fanciful delight of knowing; much less for carnal, worldly ends.[119] No means are used at all as means, where the end is not first determined of. And to do the same thing materially to another end, is not indeed to do the same; for thereby it is made another thing. Your physician will come to you if you seek to him as a physician; but not if you send to him to mend your shoes. So if you seek knowledge for the true ends of knowledge, to fill your hearts with the love of God, and guide your lives in holiness and righteousness, God is engaged to help you in the search. But if you seek it only for to please your pride or fancy, no wonder if you miss of it; and it is no great matter whether you find it or not, for any good it is like to do you. Every truth of God is appointed to be his instrument, to do some holy work upon your heart: let the love of holiness be it that maketh you search after truth, and then you may expect that God should be your teacher.

Direct. III. Seek after truth without too great or too small regard to the judgment of others; neither contemn them, nor be captivated to them. Use the help of the wise; but give not up your reason absolutely to any. Engage not yourselves in a party, so as to espouse their errors, or implicitly to believe whatever they say; for this breedeth in you a secret desire to please your party, and interesteth you in their dividing interest, and maketh you betray the truth to be accounted orthodox by those you value.[120]

{591} Direct. IV. Take heed of pride, which will make you dote upon your own conceits, and cause you to slight the weightiest reasons that are brought by others, for your conviction. And if once you have espoused an error, it will engage all your wit, and zeal, and diligence to maintain it; it will make you uncharitable and furious against all that cross you in your way; and so make you either persecutors, (if you stand on the higher ground,) or sect leaders, or church dividers, and turbulent and censorious, if you are on the lower ground. There is very great reason in Paul's advice for the choice of a bishop, 1 Tim. iii. 6, "Not a novice; lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil." It is no more wonder to see a proud man erroneous, and in the confidence of his own understanding, to rage against all that tell him he is mistaken, than to hear a drunken man boasting of his wit, to the increase of his shame.

Direct. V. Take heed of slothfulness, and impatience in searching after truth, and think not to find it in difficult cases, without both hard and patient studies, and ripeness of understanding to enable you therein; and suspect all opinions which are the offspring of idleness and ease, whatever divine illumination they may pretend (except as you take them from others upon trust (in a slothful way) who attained them by diligent studies). For God that hath called men to labour, doth use to give his blessing to the laborious. And he that hath said by his Spirit, 1 Tim. iv. 15, "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them, that thy profiting may appear to all," doth accordingly cause those men to profit, who seek it in this laborious way of his appointment; and he that hath said, "The desire of the slothful killeth him," doth not use to bless the slothful with his teachings. He that will say to him in judgment, "Thou wicked and slothful servant," will not encourage the slothfulness which he condemneth.[121] "My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God: for the Lord giveth wisdom," Prov. ii. 1-6. Mark here to whom God giveth wisdom: all the godly are taught of God; but mark here how it is that he teacheth them. Not while they scorn at studies and universities, and look that their knowledge should cost them nothing, or that the Spirit should be instead of serious studies, or that their understandings should discern what is true or false at the first appearance; but while they think no pains or patience too great to learn the truth in the school of Christ.

Direct. VI. Keep out passion from your disputes, and in the management of all your controversies in religion. For though passion be useful both antecedently to the resolution of the will, and consequently to the effectual execution of its resolutions, yet it is commonly a very great seducer of the understanding, and strangely blindeth and perverteth the judgment;[122] so that a passionate man is seldom so far from the truth, as when he is most confident he is defending it. When passion hath done boiling, and the heart is cooled, and leaveth the judgment to do its work without any clamour or disturbance, it is strange to see how things will appear to you to be quite of another tendency and reason, than in your passion you esteemed them.

Direct. VII. Keep up a sense of the evil and danger of both extremes; and be not so wholly intent upon the avoiding of one extreme, as to be fearless of the other. The narrow minds of unexperienced men are hardly brought to look on both sides them, and to be duly sensible of the danger of both extremes; but while they are taken up only with the hating and opposing one sort of errors, they forget those on the other side. And usually the sin or error which we observe not, is more dangerous to us than that which we do observe (if the wind of temptation set that way).

Direct. VIII. When you detect any ancient error or corruption, inquire into its original; and see whether reformation consist not rather in a restitution of the primitive state, than in an extirpation of the whole. Even in popery itself there are many errors and ill customs, which are but the corruption of some weighty truth, and the degenerating of some duty of God's appointment; and to reduce all, in such cases, to the primitive verity, is the way of wise and true reformation; and not to throw away that which is God's, because it is fallen into the dirt of human depravation. But in cases where all is bad, there all must be rejected.

Direct. IX. Pretend not to truth and orthodoxness against christian love and peace; and so follow truth, as that you lose not love and peace by it; "as much as in you lieth, live peaceably with all men," Rom. xii. 18. Charity is the end of truth, 1 Cor. xiii. and it is a mad use of means, to use them against the end. Make sure of the sincerity of your charity, and hold it fast; and then no error that you hold will be destructive to you: but if you know more than others, and use your knowledge to the weakening of your love, you are but (as our first parents) deceived and destroyed by a desire of fleshly, uneffectual knowledge. Such "knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth," 1 Cor. viii. 1. To contend for truth, to the loss of love in yourselves, and the destruction of it among others, is but to choke yourselves with excellent food, and to imitate that orthodox, catholic physician, that gloried that he killed his patients secundem artem, by the most accurate method and excellent rules of art that men could die by.

Direct. X. Pretend no truth against the power and practice of godliness.[123] For this also is its proper end; if it be not truth that is according to godliness, it is no truth worthy our seeking or contending for. And if it be contrary to godliness in itself, it is no truth at all; therefore if it be used against godliness, it is used contrary to the ends of truth. Those men that suppress or hinder the means of knowledge, and holiness, and concord, and edification, under pretence of securing, defending, or propagating the orthodox belief, will find one day, that God will give them as little thanks for their blind, preposterous zeal for truth, as a tender father would do to a physician, that killed his children because they distasted or spit out his medicines. It is usually a pitiful defence of truth that is made by the enemies of godliness.


More near and particular Directions against Error.

Direct. I. Begin at the greatest, most evident, certain, and necessary truths, and so proceed orderly to the knowledge of the less, by the help of these:[124] as you climb by the body of the tree unto the branches. If you begin at those truths, which spring out of greater common truths, and know not the premises, while you plead for the conclusion, you abuse your reason, and lose the truth and your labour both: for there is no way to the branches but by ascending from the stock. The principles well laid, must be your help to all your following knowledge.

Direct. II. The two first things which you are to learn are, what man is, and what God is: the nature and relation of the two parties, is the first thing to be known in order to the knowledge of the covenant itself, and all following transactions between God and man.[125] One error here will introduce abundance. A thousand other points of natural philosophy you may safely be ignorant of; but if you know not what man is, what reason is, what natural free-will is, and what the inferior sensitive faculties are, as to their uses, it will lay you open to innumerable errors. In the nature of man, you must see the foundation of his relations unto God: and if you know not those great relations, the duties of which must take up all our lives, you may easily foresee the consequents of such ignorance or error. So if you know not what God is, and what his relations to us are, so far as is necessary to our living in the duties of those relations, the consequents of your ignorance will be sad. If learned men be but perverted in their apprehensions of some one attribute of God, (as those that think his goodness is nothing but his benignity, or proneness to do good, or that he is a necessary agent, doing good ad ultimum posse, &c.) what abundance of horrid and impious consequents will follow!

Direct. III. Having soundly understood both these and other principles of religion, try all the subsequent truths hereby, and receive nothing as truth that is certainly inconsistent with any of these principles.[126] Even principles that are not of sense, may be disputed till they are well received; and with those that have not received them: but afterwards they are not to be called in question; for then you would never proceed nor build higher, if you will stand questioning all your grounds. Indeed no truth is inconsistent with any other truth: but yet when two dark or doubtful points are compared together, it is hard to know which of them to reject. But here it is easy; nothing that contradicteth the true nature of God or man, or any principle, must be held.

Direct. IV. Believe nothing which certainly contradicteth the end of all religion. If it be of a natural or necessary tendency to ungodliness, against the love of God, or against a holy and heavenly mind and conversation, it cannot be truth, whatever it pretend.

Direct. V. Be sure to distinguish well betwixt revealed and unrevealed things: and before you dispute any question, search first whether the resolution be revealed or not: and if it be not, lay it by; and take it as part of your necessary submission, to be ignorant of what God would have you ignorant, as it is part of your obedience to labour to know what God would have you know. And when some things unrevealed are mixed in the controversy, take out those and lay them by, before you go any further, and see that the resolution of the rest be not laid upon them, nor twisted with them, to entangle the whole in uncertainty or confusion.[127] Thus God instructed Job, by convincing him of his ignorance, and showing him how many things were past his knowledge.[128] Thus Christ instructed Nicodemus about the work of regeneration, so as to let him know that though the necessity of it must be known, yet the manner of the Spirit's accesses to the soul cannot be known, John iii. 7, 8. And Paul in his discourse of election takes notice of the unsearchable depths, and the creature's unfitness to dispute with God, Rom. ix. When you find any disputes about predetermination or predestination resolved into such points as these: Whether God do by physical, premoving influx, or by concourse, or by moral operation ut finis, determine or specify moral acts of man? Whether a positive decree quoad actum be necessary to the negation of effects (as that such a one shall not have grace given him, or be converted or saved; that all the millions of possible persons, names, and things shall not be future)? What understanding, will, or power are formally in God? How he knoweth future contingents? with a hundred such like; then remember that you make use of this rule, and say with Moses, Deut. xxix. 29, "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things that are revealed unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of his law." There are many rare, profound discoveries much gloried of by the masters of several sects, of which you may know the sentence of the Holy Ghost, by that instance, Col. ii. 18, "Let no man beguile you of your reward, in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind." Reverently withdraw from things that are unrevealed, and dispute them not.

Direct. VI. Be a careful and accurate (though not a vain) distinguisher; and suffer not ambiguity and confusion to deceive you. Suspect every word in your question, and anatomize it, and agree upon the sense of all your common terms, before you dispute with any adversary. It is not only in many words, but in one word or syllable that so much ambiguity and confusion may be contained, as may make a long dispute to be but a vain and ridiculous wrangling.[129] Is it not a ridiculous business to hear men dispute many hours about the cur credis, and into what faith is to be resolved; and in the end come to understand, that by cur one of them speaks of the principium or causa veritatis, and the other of the principium patefactionis, or the evidentia veritatis, or some other cause? And when one speaks of the resolution of his faith as into the formal object, and another into the subservient testimony or means, or into the proofs of divine attestation, or many other causes? Or to hear men dispute, Whether Christ died for all; when by "for" one man meaneth "for the benefit of all," and another means "in the place or stead of all, or for the sins of all as the procuring cause, &c.?" Yet here is but a syllable to contain this confusion! What a tedious thing is it to read long disputes between many papists and protestants, {593} about justification, while by justification one meaneth one thing, and another meaneth quite another thing! He that cannot force every word to make a plain confession of its proper signification, that the thing intended may be truly discerned in the word, he will but deceive himself and others, with a wordy, insignificant dispute.

Direct. VII. Therefore be specially suspicious of metaphors; as being all but ambiguities till an explication hath fixed or determined the sense. It is a noisome thing to hear some dispute upon an unexplained metaphorical word, when neither of them have enucleated the sense, and when there are proper words enow.

Direct. VIII. Take special notice of what kind of beings your inquiry or disputation is, and let your terms be adapted and interpreted according to the kind of beings you dispute of. As if you be inquiring into the nature of any grace, as faith, repentance, obedience, &c. remember that it is in genere moris, a moral act; and therefore the terms are not to be understood as if you disputed about mere physical acts, which are considered but in genere entis. For that object which must essentiate one moral act, containeth many physical particles, which will make up many physical acts.[130] If you take such a man for your king, your commander, your master, your physician, &c. if you should at the bar, when you are questioned for unfaithfulness, dispute upon the word take, whether it be an act of the fantasy, or sense, or intellect, or will, &c. would you not be justly laughed at? So when you ask, What act faith or repentance is? which contain many particular physical acts. When you dispute of divinity, policy, law, war, &c. you must not use the same terms in the same sense, as when you dispute of physics, or metaphysics.

Direct. IX. Be sure in all your disputes that you still keep distinguished before your eyes, the order of being, and the order of knowing: that the questions de esse lying undetermined in your way, do not frustrate all your dispute about the question de cognoscere. As in the question, Whether a man should do such or such a thing, when he thinketh that it is God's command? How far conscience must be obeyed? It must first be determined de esse, whether indeed the thing be commanded or lawful, or not? before the case can be determined about the obligation that followeth my apprehension. For, whatever my conscience or opinion say of it, the thing either is lawful or it is not: if it be lawful, or a duty, the case is soon decided; but if it be not lawful, the error of my conscience altereth not God's law, nor will it make it lawful unto me. I am bound first to know and then to do what God revealeth and commandedeth; and this I shall be bound to, whatever I imagine to the contrary; and to lay by the error which is against it.

Direct. X. Be sure when you first enter upon an inquiry or dispute, that you well discover how much of the controversy is verbal de nomine, and how much is material de re;[131] and that you suffer not your adversary to go on upon a false supposition, that the controversy is de re, when it is but de nomine. The difference between names and things is so wide, that you would think no reasonable man should confound them: and yet so heedless in this point are ordinary disputers, that it is a usual thing to make a great deal of stir about a controversy before they discern whether it be de nomine or de re. Many a hot and long dispute I have heard, which was managed as about the very heart of some material cause, (as about man's power to do good, or about the sufficiency of grace, or about justification, &c.) when the whole contest between the disputers was only or principally de nomine, and neither of them seemed to take notice of it. Be sure as soon as you peruse the terms of your question, to sift this thoroughly, and dispute verbal controversies but as verbal, and not as real and material. We have real differences enow: we need not make them seem more by such a blind or heedless manner of disputing.[132]

Direct. XI. Suffer not a rambling mind in study, nor a rambling talker in disputes, to interrupt your orderly procedure, and divert you from your argument before you bring it to the natural issue. But deceiving sophisters, and giddy-headed praters, will be violent to start another game, and spoil the chase of the point before you: but hold them to it, or take them to be unworthy to be disputed with, and let them go (except it be where the weakness of the auditors requireth you to follow them in their wild-goose chace). You do but lose time in such rambling studies or disputes.

Direct. XII. Be cautelous of admitting false suppositions; or at least of admitting any inference that dependeth upon them. In some cases a supposition of that which is false may be made, while it no way tends to infer the truth of it; but nothing must be built upon that falsehood, as intimating it to be a truth. False suppositions cunningly and secretly worked into arguments, are very ordinary instruments of deceit.

Direct. XIII. Plead not uncertainties against certainties: but make certain points the measure to try the uncertain by. Reduce not things proved and sure to those that are doubtful and justly controverted; but reduce points disputable to those that are past doubt.

Direct. XIV. Plead not the darker texts of Scripture against those that are more plain and clear, nor a few texts against many that are as plain; for that which is interpreted against the most plain and frequent expressions of the same Scripture is certainly misinterpreted.

Direct. XV. Take not obscure prophecies for precepts. The obscurity is enough to make you cautelous how you venture yourself in the practice of that which you understand not: but if there were no obscurity, yet prophecies are no warrant to you to fulfil them; no, though they be for the church's good. Predictions tell you but de eventu what will come to pass, but warrant not you to bring it to pass. God's prophecies are ofttimes fulfilled by the wickedest men and the wickedest means: as by the Jews in killing Christ, and Pharaoh in refusing to let Israel go, and Jehu in punishing the house of Ahab. Yet many self-conceited persons think that they can fetch that out of the revelations or the prophecies of Daniel, that will justify very horrid crimes, while they use wicked means to fulfil God's prophecies.

Direct. XVI. Be very cautelous in what cases you take men's practice or example to be instead of precept, in the sacred Scriptures. In one case a practice or example is obligatory to us as a precept; and that is, when God doth give men a commission to establish the form or orders of his church and {594} worship, (as he did to Moses and to the apostles,) and promiseth them his Spirit to lead them into all truth, in the matters which he employeth them in: here God is engaged to keep them from miscarrying; for if they should, his work would be ill done, his church would be ill constituted and framed, and his servants unavoidably deceived. The apostles were authorized to constitute church officers and orders for continuance; and the Scripture, which is written for a great part historically, acquaints us what they did (as well as what they said and wrote) in the building of the church, in obedience to their commission (at least in declaring to the world what Christ had first appointed). And thus if their practice were not obligatory to us, their words also might be avoided by the same pretences. And on this ground (at least) the Lord's day is easily proved to be of divine appointment and obligation. Only we must see that we carefully distinguish between both the words and practice of the apostles which were upon a particular and temporary occasion (and obligation) from those that were upon a universal or permanent ground.

Direct. XVII. Be very cautelous what conclusions you raise from any mere works of Providence. For the bold and blind exposition of these, hath led abundance into most heinous sins: no providence is instead of a law to us; but sometimes and ofttimes Providence changeth the matter of our duty, and so occasioneth the change of our obligations (as when the husband dieth, the wife is disobliged, &c.) But men of worldly dispositions do so over-value worldly things, that from them they venture to take the measure of God's love and hatred, and of the causes which he approveth or disapproveth in the world. And the wisdom of God doth seem on purpose, to cause such wonderful, unexpected mutations in the affairs of men, as shall shame the principles or spirits of these men, and manifest their giddiness and mutability to their confusion. One year they say, This is sure the cause of God, or else he would never own it as he doth; another year they say, If this had been God's cause he would never have so disowned it: just as the barbarians judged of Paul when the viper seized on his hand. And thus God is judged by them to own or disown by his prospering or afflicting, more than by his word.

Direct. XVIII. In controversies which much depend on the sincerity or experience of godly men, take heed that you affect not singularity, and depart not from the common sense of the godly. For the workings of God's Spirit are better judged of by the ordinary tenor of them, than by some (real or supposed) case that is extraordinary.

Direct. XIX. In controversies which most depend on the testimony of antiquity, depart not from the judgment of the ancients. They that stood within view of the days of the apostles could better tell what they did, and what a condition they left the churches in, than we can do. To appeal to the ancients in every cause, even in those where the later christians do excel them, is but to be fools in reverence of our forefathers' wisdom. But in points of history, or any thing in which they had the advantage of their posterity, their testimony is to be preferred.

Direct. XX. In controversies which depend on the experience of particular christians or of the church, regard most the judgment of the most experienced, and prefer the judgment of the later ages of the church before the judgment of less experienced ages (except the apostolical age, that had the greater help of the Spirit). An ancient, experienced christian or divine is more to be regarded in many points, which require experience, than many of the younger sort, that are yet more zealous and of quicker understanding and expression than the elder. So those that we call the fathers or ancients were indeed in the younger ages of the church, and we that are fallen into the later and more experienced age, have all the helps of the wisdom and experience of the ages that were before us: and therefore God will require at our hands an account of these greater talents which we have received! As it were unexcusable now in a physician that hath the help of such voluminous institutions, observations, and experiments of former ages, to know no more than those former times that had no such helps; so would it be as unexcusable for this present age of the church to be no wiser than those former ages. When Aquinas, Scotus, Ariminensis, and other schoolmen, delivered the doctrine of christianity to the church in a dress so far different from Ignatius, Irenæus, Tertullian, Cyprian, or any of those former ages, they certainly thought that they had attained to a far greater excellency and accurateness in the knowledge of divinity than those their ancestors had attained: and whatever they swear in the Trent oath, of not expounding any Scripture otherwise than the fathers do, I doubt not but Suarez, and Vasquez, and others of their modern schoolmen, thought so too, and would have been loth to be accounted wise in the measure only of those ancients.[133] The later and elder ages of the church have had abundant experience, e. g. of the tendency of ambition and papal aspirings and usurpations; of the mischiefs of composing and imposing the popish missals and numerous ceremonies, and of their implicit faith, and their concealment of the Scriptures from the vulgar, and many such points; and if we are never the wiser for all this experience, we are the more unexcusable; and may be judged as the neglecters of our greater helps.

Direct. XXI. In controversies which depend most upon skill in the languages, philosophy, or other parts of common learning, prefer the judgment of a few that are the most learned in those matters, before the judgment of the most ancient, or the most godly, or of the greatest numbers, even whole churches, that are unlearned. In this case neither numbers, nor antiquity, nor godliness will serve turn: but as one clear eye will see further than ten thousand that are purblind, so one Jerom or Origen may judge better of a translation, or the grammatical sense of a text, than a hundred of the other fathers could. One man that understandeth a language is fitter to judge of it, than a whole nation that understand it not. One philosopher is fitter to judge of a philosophical question, than a thousand illiterate persons. Every man is most to be regarded in the matters which he is best acquainted with.

Direct. XXII. In controversies of great difficulty, where divines themselves are disagreed, and a clear and piercing wit is necessary, regard more the judgment of a few acute, judicious, well-studied divines, that are well versed in those controversies, than of a multitude of dull and common wits that think to carry it by the reputation of their number.[133] It is too certainly attested by experience, that judicious men are very few, and that the multitude of the injudicious that have not wit enough to understand them, nor humility enough to confess it, and to learn of them, have yet pride and arrogancy enough to contradict them, and often malice enough to vilify {595} them. In such differences it is not only a sign of a wise man to be content with the approbation of a few, but also to have but few approvers (except where the injudicious do implicitly believe those few that are judicious). Commonly a very few that are wiser than the multitude, are fain to stand by, and compassionate not only the world but the church, and see the disease, and the easy remedy, and all in vain; while they are but neglected or despised by the rest, that will not be made wiser by them.

Direct. XXIII. In all contentions hold close to that which all sides are agreed in; there is so much agreed on, even between the papists and the protestants, as would certainly save them all, if all of them did sincerely believe, love, and practise it; for they all confess that the whole canonical Scripture is true. Therefore be more studious sincerely to hold and improve those common truths which they all profess, than to oppose the particular opinions of any, further than that common truth requireth it. See that the articles of the common creed which all profess, be unfeignedly believed by you; and that the petitions in the Lord's prayer be sincerely and earnestly put up to God; and that the ten commandments be heartily and entirely obeyed; and then no error or difference will be damning to you.

Direct. XXIV. Take nothing as necessary to salvation in point of faith, nor as universally necessary in point of practice, which the universal church in every age since Christ did not receive. For if any thing be necessary to salvation which the church received not in every age, then the church itself of that age could not be saved; and then the church was indeed no church; for Christ is the Saviour of his body. But certainly Christ had in every age a church of saved ones, who openly professed all that was of common necessity to salvation. An opinion may be true which accuseth the generality in the church of some error or imperfection; for it is most certain that the church on earth is composed of none (that have the use of reason) but erring and imperfect members; but no opinion can be true that condemneth all the church to hell, in any one age; for the Head and Husband of the church must be her Judge.

Direct. XXV. Be not borne down by the censoriousness of any, to overrun your own understanding and the truth, and to comply with them in their errors and extremes;[134] but hold to the truth and keep your station: Jer. xv. 19, "Let them return unto thee, but return thou not unto them." It is too usual for the younger and more injudicious sort of christians to be most zealous about some little opinions, ceremonies, and words, and to censure all those that differ from them, with such bitter censures, (as ungodly, false-hearted, &c.) that hereupon some of the more judicious forsake the truth and simplicity of the gospel, to comply with these censurers merely to escape them (or, as some say, that they may keep an interest in them to do them good): but such carnal compliances, though with the most zealous men, will bring nothing home at last but repentance and shame: truth, which is the means of the good of souls, must not be betrayed as for the good of souls.

Direct. XXVI. Doubt not of well-proved truths, for every difficulty that appeareth against them. There is scarce any truth in the world so plain, but in your own thoughts, or in the cavils of a wrangling wit, there may such difficulties be raised as you can hardly answer: and there is scarce any thing so evident, that some will not dispute against. You see that even the learnedest Jesuits, and all the clergy of the Roman kingdom, will not stick to dispute all the world (if they could) out of the belief of all their senses, while they maintain that bread is not bread, and wine is not wine. And yet, how many princes, lords, and rulers follow them, and many millions of the people; because they are not able to confute them. If they had said that a man is no man, but a worm, Psal. xxii. 6, they might in reason have expected as much belief.

Direct. XXVII. Abuse not your own knowledge by subjecting it to your carnal interest or sensuality. He that will sin against his conscience, and will not obey the knowledge which he hath, doth deserve to be given over to blindness and deceit, and to lose even that which he hath, and to be forsaken till he believe and defend a lie:[135] "that all they might be damned who obeyed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness," 2 Thess. ii. 10-12. God will not hold him guiltless who debaseth his sacred truth so far, as to make it stoop to his commodity and lust; where he is a teacher he will be a king, and sendeth his truth as the instrument of his government, and not as a slave or pander to the flesh. He that will "do God's will shall know it," John vii. 17; but the carnal mind that cannot be subject to God's law, is unfit to receive it, because it is spiritually discerned, Rom. viii. 7; 1 Cor. ii. 14.

[117]   Nitebatur Socrates summi ingenii acumine, non tam illos ex sententia refellere, quam ipse quid verum esset invenire. Laert. in Socrat.

[118]   Heb. xii. 14. 2 Cor. v. 17; Rom. viii. 9, 13.

[119]   Socrates de ethice, et in officinis, et in publico quotidie philosophans, ea potius inquirenda hortabatur, quæ mores instruerent, et quorum usus nobis domi esset necessarius. Laert. in Socrat.

[120]   Non tam auctoritatis in disputando, quam rationis momenta quærenda sunt, Cic. Nat. Deo. p. 6. Obest plerumque iis, qui discere volunt, auctoritas eorum, qui se docere profitentur. Desinunt enim suum judicium adhibere: id habent ratum, quod ab eo, quem probant, judicatum vident. Ibid. p. 7.

[121]   Prov. xxiv. 30; xxi. 25; Matt. xxv. 26.

[122]   Quæ duæ virtutes in disputatore primæ sunt, eas ambas in Hubero deprehendi, patientiam adversarium prolixe sua explicantem audiendi, et lenitatem etiam aspere dicta perferendi, inq. Scultetus post. disp. Curric. p. 33.

[123]   1 Tim. vi. 3; Tit. i. 1; 1 Tim. iv. 7, 8; vi. 5, 6, 11; 2 Pet. i. 3; iii. 11.

[124]   See chap. ii. direct. 3.

[125]   Ut Deum noris, etsi ignores et locum et faciem, sic animum tibi tuum notum esse oportet, etiam si ignores et locum et formam. Cicero 1. Tuscul.

[126]   Nulla erga Deos pietas est, nisi honesta de numine deorum ac mente opinio sit. Cicero pro Planc.

[127]   Non ii sumus quibus nihil verum esse videatur; sed ii qui omnibus veris falsæ quædam adjuncta esse dicamus, tanta similitudine ut, &c. Cic. de Nat. Deor. p. 7.

[128]   Job xxxviii-xli.

[129]   See my preface before the second part of the Saints' Rest, edit. 3, &c. A man of judgment shall hear ignorant men differ, and know that they mean one thing. And yet they themselves will never agree. L. Bacon, Ess. 3.

[130]   As I have showed in my Dispute of Saving Faith with Dr. Barlow, and of Justification.

[131]   Non ex verbis res, sed ex rebus verba esse inquirenda, ait Myson. in Laert. p. 70. Bas. 1 Edit.

[132]   It is a noble work that Mr. Le Blanck of Sedan is about to this purpose, stating more exactly than hath yet been done all the controversies between us and the papists: which how excellently he is like to perform I easily conjecture by the Disputes of his upon Justification, &c. which I have seen.

[133]   Satis triumphat veritas si apud paucos bonosque accepta: nec indoles ejus est placere multis. Lipsius.

[134]   Thus Peter and Barnabas erred, Gal. ii.

[135]   Matt. xxv. 29; Rom. xiv. 22.



The peace and concord of believers is a thing that almost all those plead for, who call themselves believers; and yet a thing that almost all men hinder and resist while they commend it.[136] The discord and divisions of believers, are as commonly spoken against, and by the same men, as commonly fomented. The few that are sincere (both rulers and private men) desire concord and hate divisions in love to holiness which is promoted by it, and in love to the church, and good of souls, and the honour of religion and the glory of God; and the few of those that are experienced, wise, judicious persons, do choose the means that is fittest to attain these ends, and do prudently and constantly prosecute them accordingly; but these being in the world as a spoonful of fresh water cast into the sea, or a spoonful of water cast into the flames of a house on fire, no wonder if the brinish sea be not sweetened by them, nor the consuming, raging fire quenched by them. The other rulers of the world and of the churches, are for concord and against division, because this tendeth to the quieting of the people under them, and the making of men submissive and obedient to their wills, and so to confirm their dignities, dominions, and interests.[137] And all men that are not holy, being predominantly selfish, they would all be themselves the centre of that union, and bond of that concord which they desire: and they would have it accomplished upon such terms and by such means as are most {596} agreeable to their principles and ends; in which there are almost as many minds as men: so that among all the commenders of unity and concord, there are none that take the way to attain it, but those that would centre it all in God, and seek it upon his terms, and in his way. The rest are all tearing unity and peace in pieces, while they commend it, and they fight against it while they seek it; every man seeking it for himself, and upon his own terms, and in his own way; which are so various and inconsistent, that east and west may sooner meet than they.

Yet must the sons of God be still the sons of peace, and continue their prayers and endeavours for unity, how small soever be the hopes of their success: "If it be possible, as much as in us lieth, we must live peaceably with all men," Rom. xii. 18. So far must they be from being guilty of any schisms or unlawful divisions of the church, that they must make it a great part of their care and work to preserve the unity and peace of christians. In this therefore I shall next direct them.

Direct. I. Understand first wherein the unity of christians and churches doth consist: or else you will neither know how to preserve it, nor when you violate it.[138] Christians are said to be united to Christ, when they are entered into covenant with him, and are become his disciples, his subjects, and the members of his (political) body. They are united to one another when they are united to Christ their common Head, and when they have that spirit, that faith, that love, which is communicated to every living member of the body. This union is not the making of many to be one christian, but of many christians to be one church; which is considerable either as to its internal life, or its external order and profession. In the former respect the bonds of our union are, 1. The heart covenant (or faith). 2. And the Spirit: the consent of Christ and of ourselves concurring, doth make the match or marriage between us; and the Spirit communicated from him to us is as the nerves or ligaments of the body, or rather as the spirits which pass through all. The union of the church considered visibly in its outward policy, is either that of the whole church, or of the particular churches within themselves, or of divers particular churches accidentally united. 1. The union of the whole is essential, integral, or accidental. The essential union is that relation of a head and members, which is between Christ and all the visible members of his church: the foundation of it is the mutual covenant between Christ and them, considered on their part as made externally, whether sincerely or not: this is usually done in baptism, and is the chiefest act of their profession of the faith. Thus the baptismal covenant doth constitute us members of the visible church. The integral and accidental union I pass by now. 2. Besides this union of the universal church with Christ the universal Head, there is in all particular organized churches, a subordinate union, (1.) Between the pastor and the flock. (2.) Between the people one towards another;[139] which consisteth in these their special relations to each other. 3. And there is an accidental union of many particular churches: as when they are united under one civil government; or consociated by their pastors in one synod or council. These are the several sorts of church union.

Direct. II. Understand also wherein the communion of christians and churches doth consist; that you may know what it is that you must hold to. In the universal church your internal communion with Christ consisteth in his communication of his Spirit and grace, his word and mercies unto you; and in your returns of love, and thanks, and obedience unto him; and in your seeking to him, depending on him, and receivings from him: your internal communion with the church or saints, consisteth in mutual love, and other consequent affections, and in praying for and doing good to one another as yourselves, according to your abilities and opportunities. Your external communion with Christ and with most of the church in heaven and earth, is not mutually visible and local; for it is but a small number comparatively that we ever see; but it consisteth in Christ's visible communication of his word, his officers, and his ordinances and mercies unto you, and in your visible learning and reception of them, and obedience to him, and expressions of your love and gratitude towards him. Your external communion with the universal church, consisteth in the prayers of the church for you, and your prayers for the church; in your holding the same faith, and professing to love and worship the same God, and Saviour, and Sanctifier, in the same holy ordinances, in order to the same eternal end.

Your external communion in the same particular congregations, consisteth in your assembling together to hear the preaching of God's word, and to receive the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, and pray and praise God, and to help each other in knowledge and holiness, and walk together in the fear of the Lord.

Your communion with other neighbour churches, lieth in praying for and counselling each other, and keeping such correspondencies as shall be found necessary to maintain that love, and peace, and holiness which all are bound to seek, according to your abilities and opportunities.

Note here, that communion is one thing, and subjection is another. It is not your subjection to other churches that is required to your communion with them. The churches that Paul wrote to at Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, &c. had communion together according to their capacities in that distance; but they were not subject one to another, any otherwise than as all are commanded to be subject to each other in humility, 1 Pet. v. 5. The church of Rome now accuseth all the christians in the world of separating from their communion, unless they will take them for their rulers, and obey them as the mistress church: but Paul speaketh not one syllable to any of the churches of any such thing, as their obedience to the church of Rome. To your own pastors you owe subjection statedly as well as communion; and to other pastors of the churches of Christ (fixed or unfixed) you owe a temporary subjection so far as you are called to make use of them (as sick persons do to another physician, when the physician of the hospital is out of the way): but one church is not the ruler of another, or any one of all the rest, by any appointment of the King of the church.

Direct. III. By the help of what is already said, you are next distinctly to understand how far you are bound to union or communion with any other church or person, and what distance, separation, or division is a sin, and what is not: that so you may neither causelessly trouble yourselves with scruples, nor trouble the church by sinful schism.

What unity is among all christians.

I. There must be a union among all churches and christians in these particulars. 1. They have all but one God. 2. And one Head and Saviour, {597} Jesus Christ. 3. And one Sanctifier, the Holy Ghost. 4. And one ultimate end and hope, even the fruition of God in heaven. 5. And one gospel to teach them the knowledge of Christ, and contain the promise of their salvation. 6. And one kind of faith that is wrought hereby. 7. And one and the same covenant (of which baptism is the seal) in which they are engaged to God. 8. And the same instrumental founders of our faith, under Jesus Christ, even the prophets and apostles. 9. And all members of the same universal body. 10. And all have the same new nature and holy disposition, and the same holy affections, in loving God and holiness, and hating sin. 11. They all own, as to the essential parts, the same law of God, as the rule of their faith and life, even the sacred canonical Scriptures. 12. Every member hath a love to the whole, and to each other, especially to the more excellent and useful members; and an inclination to holy communion with each other. 13. They have all a propensity to the same holy means and employment, as prayer, learning the word of God, and doing good to others.[140] All these things the true living members of the church have in sincerity, and the rest have in profession.

What diversity will be in the church.

II. There will be still a diversity among the churches and particular christians in these following points, without any dissolution of the fore-described unity. 1. They will not be of the same age or standing in Christ; but some babes, some young men, and some fathers. 2. They will not have the same degrees of strength, of knowledge, and of holiness: some will have need to be fed with milk, and be unskilful in the word of righteousness. 3. They will differ in the kind and measure of their gifts: some will excel in one kind, and some in another, and some in none at all. 4. They will differ in their natural temper, which will make some to be more hot and some more mild, some more quick and some more dull, some of more regulated wits and some more scattered and confused. 5. They will differ in spiritual health and soundness: one will be more orthodox and another more erroneous; one will have a better appetite to the wholesome word than others that are inclining to novelties and vain janglings; one will walk more blamelessly than another; some are full of joy and peace, and others full of grief and trouble. 6. They differ much in usefulness and service to the body: some are pillars to support the rest, and some are burdensome and troublers of the church. 7. It is the will of Christ that they differ in office and employment: some being pastors and teachers to the rest. 8. There may be much difference in the manner of their worshipping God; some observing days and difference of meats and drinks, and forms and other ceremonies, which others observe not: and several churches may have several modes. 9. These differences may possibly, by the temptation of Satan, arise to vehement contentions; and not only to the censuring and despising of each other, but to the rejecting of each other from the communion of the several churches, and forbidding one another to preach the gospel, and the banishing or imprisoning one another, as Constantine himself did banish Athanasius, and as Chrysostom and many another have felt. 10. Hence it followeth that as in the visible church some are the members of Christ, and some are indeed the children of the devil, some shall be saved and some be damned, even with the sorest damnation, (the greatest difference in the world to come being betwixt the visible members of the church,) so among the godly and sincere themselves they are not all alike amiable or happy, but they shall differ in glory as they do in grace.[141] All these differences there have been, are, and will be in the church, notwithstanding its unity in other things.

Schism what, and of how many sorts.

III. The word schism cometh from σχίζω, disseco, lacero, and signifieth any sinful division among christians. Some papists (as Johnson) will have nothing called schism, but a dividing oneself from the catholic church: others maintain that there is nothing in Scripture called schism, but making divisions in particular churches.[142] The truth is, (obvious in the thing itself,) that there are several sorts of schism or division. 1. There is a causing divisions in a particular church, when yet no party divideth from that church, much less from the universal. Thus Paul blameth the divisions that were among the Corinthians, while one said, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos, &c. 1 Cor. iii. 3. And 1 Cor. xi. 18, "I hear that there be divisions among you:" not that they separated from each other's communion, but held a disorderly communion. Such divisions he vehemently dissuadeth them from, 1 Cor. i. 10. And thus he persuadeth the Romans, (xvi. 17,) to "mark them which cause divisions and offences among them, contrary to the doctrine which they had learned, and avoid them;" which it seems therefore were not such as had avoided the church first. He that causeth differences of judgment and practice, and contendings in the church, doth cause divisions, though none separate from the church.

2. And if this be a fault, it must be a greater fault to cause divisions from, as well as in, a particular church, which a man may do that separateth not from it himself: as if he persuade others to separate, or if he sow those tares of error which cause it, or if he causelessly excommunicate or cast them out.

3. And then it must be as great a sin to make a causeless separation from the church that you are in yourself, which is another sort of schism. If you may not divide in the church, nor divide others from the church, then you may not causelessly divide the common from it yourselves.

4. And it is yet a greater schism, when you divide not only from that one church, but from many, because they concur in opinion with that one (which is the common way of dividers).

5. And it is yet a greater schism, when whole churches separate from each other, and renounce due communion with each other without just cause: as the Greeks, Latins, and protestants in their present distance, must some of them (whoever it is) be found guilty.

6. And yet it is a greater schism than this, when churches do not only separate from each other causelessly, but also unchurch each other, and endeavour to cut off each other from the church universal, by denying each other to be true churches of Christ. It is a more grievous schism to withdraw from a true church as no church, than as a corrupt church; {598} that is, to cut off a church from Christ, and the church catholic, than to abstain from communion with it as a scandalous or offending church.

7. It is yet, cæteris paribus, a higher degree of schism to divide yourselves (a person or a church) from the universal church without just cause, though you separate from it but secundum quid, in some accidental respect where unity is needful (for where unity is not required, there disunion is no sin): yet such a person that is separate but secundum quid, from something accidental, or integral, but not essential to the catholic church, is still a catholic christian, though he sin.

8. But as for the highest degree of all, viz. to separate from the universal church simpliciter, or in some essential respect, this is done by nothing but by heresy or apostasy. However the papists make men believe that schismatics that are neither heretics nor apostates, do separate themselves wholly or simply from the catholic church, this is a mere figment of their brains. For he that separateth not from the church in any thing essential to it, doth not truly and simply separate from the church, but secundum quid, from something separable from the church. |A heretic and apostate what.|But whatever is essential to the church is necessary to salvation; and he that separateth from it upon the account of his denying any thing necessary to salvation, is a heretic or apostate: that is, if he do it, as denying some one (or more) essential point of faith or religion, while he pretendeth to hold all the rest, he is a heretic: if he deny the whole christian faith, he is a flat apostate: and these are more than to be schismatics.

The word heresy also is variously taken by ecclesiastic writers. Austin will have heresy to be an inveterate schism: Jerom maketh it to be some perverse opinion: some call every schism which gathereth a separated party from the rest, by the name of heresy; some call it a heresy if there be a perilous error though without any schism; some call it a heresy only when schism is made, and a party separated upon the account of some perilous error. Some say this error must be damnable, that is, in the essentials of religion; and some say, it is enough if it be but dangerous. Among all these, the commonest sense of a heretic is, one that obstinately erreth in some essential point, and divideth from the communion of other christians upon that account. And so Paræus and many protestants take heresy for the species, and schism for the genus. All schism is not heresy; but all heresy, say they, is schism. Remember that all this is but a controversy de nomine, and therefore of small moment.

Who are true schismatics.

By this that I have said you may perceive who they be that are guilty of church divisions: As, 1. The sparks of it are kindled, when proud and self-conceited persons are brain-sick in the fond estimation of their own opinions, and heart-sick by a feverish zeal for the propagating of them. Ignorant souls think that every change of their opinions is made by such an accession of heavenly light, that if they should not bestir them to make all of the same mind, they should be betrayers of the truth, and do the world unspeakable wrong. When they measure and censure men as they receive or reject their peculiar discoveries or conceits, schism is in the egg.

2. The fire is blown up, when men are desirous to have a party follow them and cry them up, and thereupon are busy in persuading others to be of their mind, and do speak "perverse things to draw away disciples after them," Acts xx. 30; and when they would be counted the masters of a party.

3. The flames break forth, when by this means the same church, or divers churches, do fall into several parties burning in zeal against each other, abating charity, censuring and condemning one another, backbiting and reviling each other, through envy and strife;[143] when they look strangely at one another, as being on several sides, as if they were not children of the same Father, nor members of the same body; or as if Christ were divided, one being of Paul, and another of Apollos, and another of Cephas, and every one of a faction, letting out their thoughts in jealousies and evil surmises of each other; perverting the words and actions of each to an ugly sense, and snatching occasions to represent one another as fools or odious to the hearers, as if you should plainly say, I pray you hate or despise these people whom I hate and despise. This is the core of the plague-sore; it is schism in the bud.

4. When people in the same church do gather into private meetings, not under the guidance of their pastors, to edify one another in holy exercises in love and peace, but in opposition to their lawful pastors, or to one another, to propagate their singular opinions, and increase their parties, and speak against those that are not on their side; schism is then ready to bring forth and multiply, and the swarm is ready to come forth and be gone.

5. When these people actually depart, and renounce or forsake the communion of the church, and cast off their faithful pastors, and draw into a separated body by themselves, and choose them pastors and call themselves a church, and all without any just, sufficient cause: when thus churches are gathered out of churches, before the old ones are dissolved, or they have any warrant to depart; when thus pastor is set up against pastor, church against church, and altar against altar; this is schism ripe and fruitful; the swarm is gone, and hived in another place.

6. If now the neighbour churches, by their pastors in their synods, shall in compassion seek to reclaim these stragglers, and they justify their unjust separation, and contemn the counsel of the churches and ministers of Christ; this is a confirmed, obstinate schism.

7. If they shall also judge that church to be no church from which they separated, and so cut off a part of the body of Christ by an unrighteous censure, and condemn the innocent, and usurp authority over their guides; this is disobedience and uncharitableness with schism.

8. If they shall also condemn and unchurch all the other churches that are not of their mind and way, and renounce communion with them all, and so condemn unjustly a great part of the body of Christ on earth, this is to add fury and rebellion to an uncharitable schism. And if to cover their sin, they shall unjustly charge these churches which they reject, with heresy or wickedness, they do but multiply their crimes by such extenuations.

9. If the opinion that all this ado is made for, be a damning error, against some essential point of the true religion, then it is heresy as well as schism.

10. If this separation from the church be made in defence of an ungodly life, against the discipline of the church; if a wicked sort of men shall withdraw from the church to avoid the disgrace of confession or excommunication; and shall first cast off the church, lest the church should proceed to cast out them; and so they separate that they may have none to govern and trouble them but themselves; this is a profane, rebellious schism. This is the common course of schism when it groweth towards the height.

{599} 11. Besides all these, there is yet a more pernicious way of schism, which the church or court of Rome is guilty of: they make new articles of faith, and new points of religion, and a new worship—of God, shall I say, or of bread as if it were a god? And all these they put into a law, and impose them on all the other churches; yea, they put them into an oath, and require men to swear that without any doubting they believe them to be true: they pretend to have authority for all this, as Rome is the mistress of all other churches. They set up a new universal head, as an essential part of the catholic church, and so found or feign a new kind of catholic church: and he that will not obey them in all this, they renounce communion with him; and to hide this horrid, notorious schism, they call all schismatics that are not thus subjected to them.

12. And to advance their schism to the height, as far as arrogance can aspire, they not only refuse communion with those from whom they separate, but condemn them as no pastors, no churches, no christians, that are not subject to them in this their usurpation; and they, that are but about the third or fourth part (at most) of the christian world, do condemn the body of Christ to hell (even all the rest) because they are not subjects of the pope.

Besides all this criminal, odious schism, of imposers or separaters, there is a degree of schism or unjust division, which may be the infirmity of a good and peaceable person. As if a humble, tender christian should mistakingly think it unlawful to do some action, that is imposed upon all that will hold communion with that particular church (such as Paul speaketh of Rom. xiv. if they had been imposed); and if he, suspecting his own understanding, do use all means to know the truth, and yet still continueth in his mistake; if this christian do forbear all reviling of his superiors, and censuring those that differ from him, and drawing others to his opinion, but yet dare not join with the church in that which he taketh to be a sin, this is a sinful sort of withdrawing, because it is upon mistake; but yet it is but a pardonable infirmity, consistent with integrity and the favour of God.

What separation is a duty.

IV. In these cases following separation is our duty and not a sin. 1. The church's separation from the unbelieving world is a necessary duty: for what is a church, but a society dedicated or sanctified to God, by separation from the rest of the world? 2 Cor. vi. 17, 18, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." The church is a holy people, and therefore a separated people.[144]

2. If a church apostatize and forsake the faith, or if they turn notoriously heretical, denying openly any one essential article of the faith, and this not only by an undiscerned consequence, but directly in express terms or sense, it is our duty to deny to hold communion with such apostates or heretics; for it is their separating from Christ that is the sinful separation, and maketh it necessary to us to separate from them. But this is no excuse to any church or person, that shall falsely accuse any other church or person of heresy, (because of some forced or disowned consequences of his doctrine,) and then separate from them when they have thus injured them by their calumnies or censures.

3. We are not bound to own that as a church which maketh not a visible profession of faith and holiness; that is, if the pastors and a sufficient number of the flock make not this profession. For as the pastor and flock are the constituent parts of the church, politically considered, so profession of faith and holiness is the essential qualification of the members. If either pastors or people want this profession, it is no political church; but if the people profess true religion, and have no pastors, it is a community of believers, or a church unorganized, and as such to be acknowledged.

4. If any shall unlawfully constitute a new political church form, by making new constitutive officers to be its visible head, which Christ never appointed, we are not to hold communion with the church in its devised form or polity; though we may hold communion with the members of it considered as christians and members of the universal church. Mark well, that I do not say that every new devised officer disobligeth us from such communion, but such as I describe; which I shall fullier open.

Whether any form of church government be of divine appointment; and whether man may appoint any other?

Quest. May not men place new officers in the church; and new forms of government which God never instituted? Or is there any form and officers of divine institution?

Answ. Though I answered this before, I shall here briefly answer it again. 1. There are some sorts of officers that are essential to the polity, or church form, and some that are only needful to the well-being of it, and some that are only accidental. 2. There is a church form of God's own institution, and there is a superadded human polity, or form. There are two sorts of churches, or church forms, of God's own institution. The first is the universal church considered politically as headed by Jesus Christ: this is so of divine appointment, as that it is an article of our creed. Here if any man devise and superinduce another head of the universal church, which God never appointed, though he pretend to hold his sovereignty from Christ and under him, it is treason against the sovereignty of Christ, as setting up a universal government or sovereign in his church without his authority and consent. Thus the pope is the usurping head of a rebellion against Christ, and in that sense by protestants called antichrist; and he is guilty of the rebellion that subscribeth to or owneth his usurpation, or sweareth to him as his governor, though he promise to obey him but in licitis et honestis; because it is not lawful or honest to consent to a usurper's government. If a usurper should traitorously, without the king's consent, proclaim himself vice-king of Ireland or Scotland, and falsely say that he hath the king's authority, when the king disclaimeth him, he that should voluntarily swear obedience to him in things lawful and honest, doth voluntarily own his usurpation and treason. And it is not the lawfulness and honesty of the matter which will warrant us to own the usurpation of the commander.[145] And secondly, there is another subordinate church form of Christ's institution; that is, particular churches consisting of pastors and people conjoined for personal communion in God's worship. These are to the universal church, as particular corporations are to a kingdom, even such parts of it as have a distinct subordinate polity of their own: it is no city or corporation, if they have not their mayors, bailiffs, or other chief officers, subject to the king, as governors of the people under him: and it is no particular church, in a political sense, but only a community, if they have not their pastors to be under Christ, their spiritual conductors {600} in the matters of salvation; as there is no school which is not constituted of teacher and scholars. That particular organized political churches are of Christ's institution, (by his Spirit in the apostles,) is undeniable. Acts xiv. 23, "They ordained them elders in every church." Tit. i. 5, "Ordain elders in every city, as I commanded thee." Acts xx. 17, "He sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church." Ver. 28, "Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God." So 1 Thess. v. 12, 13; Heb. xiii. 7, 17, 24, &c. 1 Cor. vii. 23, "If the whole church be come together into one place," &c. Thus far it is no question but church forms and government is of divine appointment; and man can no more alter this, or set up such other, without God's consent, than a subject can alter or make corporations without the king's consent. 3. But besides these two sorts of divine institution, there are other allowable associations which some call churches. God hath required these particular churches to hold such communion as they are capable of, for promoting the common ends of christianity; and prudence is left to determine of the times, and places, and manner of their pastors' assemblies, councils, and correspondencies according to God's general rules. If any will call these councils, or the associations engaged for special correspondencies, by the name of churches, I will not trouble any with a strife about the name. In this case, so far as men have power to make that association or combination which they call a church, so also if they make officers suited to its ends, not encroaching upon the churches or officers of Christ's own institution, I am none of those that will contend against them; nor will this allow us to deny communion with them. And in those churches which Christ himself hath instituted, there are officers that make but for the integrity, and not for the political essence of the church: as deacons, and all pastors or presbyters more than one. For it is not essential to it to have any deacons, or many pastors. As to this sort of officers, Christ hath appointed them, and it is not in man's power to alter his institution, nor to set up any such like in co-ordination with these: but yet if they should do so, as long as the true essentials of the church remain, I am not to deny communion with that church, so I own not this corruption. 4. But there are also as circumstantial employments about God's worship, so officers to do those employments, which men may lawfully institute: as clerks, churchwardens, door-keepers, ringers, &c. It is not the adding of these that is any sin. By this time you may see plainly both how far churches, officers, and church government is jure divino, and how far man may or may not add or alter, and what I meant in my proposition, viz. That if men introduce a new universal head to the church catholic, or a new head to particular churches, instead of that of Christ's institution, this is, in sensu politico, to make new species of churches, and destroy those that Christ hath instituted (for the pars gubernans and pars gubernata are the essential constituents of a church). And with such a church, as such, in specie, I must have no communion (which is our case with the papal church); though with the material parts of that church, as members of Christ, I may hold communion still.

5. If particular members are guilty of obstinate impenitency in true heresy, or ungodliness, or any scandalous crime, the church may and must remove such from her communion; for it is the communion of saints. And the offender is the cause of this separation.

6. If a whole church be guilty of some notorious, scandalous sin, and refuse with obstinacy to repent and reform, when admonished by neighbour churches, or if that church do thus defend such a sin in any of her members, so as openly to own it; other churches may refuse communion with her, till she repent and be reformed. Or if they see cause to hold communion with her in other respects, yet in this they must have none.[146]

7. If any church will admit none to her personal communion, but those that will take some false oath, or subscribe any untruth, or tell a lie, though that church do think it to be true, (as the Trent oath which their priests all swear,) it is not lawful to do any such unlawful thing to obtain communion with that church: and he that refuseth in this case to commit this sin, is no way guilty of the separation, but is commendable for being true to God.[147] And though the case may be sad to be deprived of the liberty of public worship, and the benefits of public communion with that church, yet sin is worse, and obedience is better than sacrifice.[148] God will not be served with sin, nor accept the sacrifice of a disobedient fool, Eccles. v. 1, 2. Nor must we lie to glorify him, nor do evil that good may come by it: just is the damnation of such servers of God, Rom. i. 7, 8. All public worship is rather to be omitted, than any one sin committed to enjoy it (though neither should be done where it is possible to do better). It is not so unwise to think to feed a man with poisons, as to think to serve God acceptably by sin.

8. If any one church would ambitiously usurp a governing power over others, (as Rome doth over the world,) it is no unwarrantable separation to refuse the government of that usurping church. We may hold communion with them as christians, and yet refuse to be their subjects. And therefore it is a proud and ignorant complaint of the church of Rome, that the protestants separate from them as to communion, because they will not take them for their governors.

9. If any by violence will banish or cast out the true bishops or pastors of the church, and set up usurpers in their stead, (as in the Arians' persecution it was commonly done,) it is no culpable separation, but laudable, and a duty, for the people to own their relation to their true pastors, and deny communion with the usurpers: as the people of the eastern churches did commonly refuse communion with the intruding bishops, even to the death, telling the civil rulers, that they had bishops of their own, to whom they would adhere.

10. If a true church will obstinately deny her members the use of any one ordinance of God, as preaching or reading Scripture, or prayer, or praise, or discipline, while it retaineth all the rest, though we may not separate from this church as no church, (which yet in the case of total rejection of prayer or praise, is very questionable at least,) yet if we have opportunity, we must remove our local communion to a more edifying church, that useth all the public ordinances of God: unless the public good forbid, or some great impediment or contrary duty be our excuse.

11. If a true church will not cast out any impenitent, notorious, scandalous sinner, though I am not {601} to separate from the church, yet I am bound to avoid private familiarity with such a person, that he may be ashamed, and that I partake not of his sin.[149]

12. As the church hath diversity of members, some more holy, and some less, and some of whose sincerity we have small hope, some that are more honourable, and some less, some that walk blamelessly, and some that work iniquity; so ministers and private members are bound to difference between them accordingly, and to honour and love some far above others, whom yet we may not excommunicate; and this is no sinful separation.[150]

13. If the church that I live and communicate with, do hold any tolerable error, I may differ therein from the church, without a culpable separation. Union with the church may be continued with all the diversities before mentioned, direct. iii.

14. In case of persecution in one church or city, when the servants of Christ do fly to another, (having no special reason to forbid it,) this is no sinful separation, Matt. x. 23.

15. If the public service of the church require a minister or private christian to remove to another church, if it be done deliberately and upon good advice, it is no sinful separation.

16. If a lawful prince or magistrate command us to remove our habitation, or command a minister from one church to another, when it is not notoriously to the detriment of the common interest of religion, it is no sinful separation to obey the magistrate.

17. If a poor christian that hath a due and tender care of his salvation, do find that under one minister his soul declineth and groweth dead, and under another that is more sound, and clear, and lively, he is much edified to a holy and heavenly frame and life, and if hereupon, preferring his salvation before all things, he remove to that church and minister where he is most edified, without unchurching the other by his censures, this is no sinful separation, but a preferring the one thing needful before all.

18. If one part of the church have leisure, opportunity, cause, and earnest desires to meet oftener for the edifying of their souls, and redeeming their time, than the poorer, labouring, or careless and less zealous part will meet, in any fit place, under the oversight and conduct of their pastors, and not in opposition to the more public, full assemblies, as they did, Acts xii. 12, to pray for Peter at the house of Mary, "where many were gathered together praying;" and Acts x. 1, &c. this is no sinful separation.

19. If a man's own outward affairs require him to remove his habitation from one city or country to another, and there be no greater matter to prohibit it, he may lawfully remove his local communion from the church that he before lived with, to that which resideth in the place he goeth to. For with distant churches and christians I can have none but mental communion, or by distant means (as writing, messengers, &c.); it is only with present christians that I can have local, personal communion.

20. It is possible in some cases that a man may live long without local, personal communion with any christians or church at all, and yet not be guilty of sinful separation. As the king's ambassador or agent in a land of infidels, or some traveller, merchants, factors, or such as go to convert the infidels, or those that are banished or imprisoned. In all these twenty cases, some kind of separation may be lawful.

21. One more I may add, which is, when the temples are so small, and the congregations so great, that there is no room to hear and join in the public worship; or when the church is so excessively great, as to be uncapable of the proper ends of the society; in this case to divide or withdraw, is no sinful separation. When one hive will not hold the bees, the swarm must seek themselves another, without the injury of the rest.

By all this you may perceive, that sinful separation is first in a censorious, uncharitable mind, condemning churches, ministers, and worship causelessly, as unfit for them to have communion with. And secondly, it is in the personal separation which is made in pursuance of this censure: but not in any local removal that is made on other lawful grounds.

Direct. IV. Understand and consider well the reasons why Christ so frequently and earnestly presseth concord on his church, and why he so vehemently forbiddeth divisions. Observe how much the Scripture speaketh to this purpose, and upon what weighty reasons. Here are four things distinctly to be represented to your serious consideration. 1. How many, plain, and urgent are the texts that speak for unity, and condemn division. 2. The great benefits of concord. 3. And the mischiefs of discord and divisions in the church. 4. And the aggravations of the sin.

I. A true christian, that hateth fornication, drunkenness, lying, perjury, because they are forbidden in the word of God, will hate divisions also when he well observeth how frequently and vehemently they are forbidden, and concord highly commended and commanded. John xvii. 21-23, "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." Here you see, that the unity of the saints must be a special means to convince the infidel world of the truth of christianity, and to prove God's special love to his church, and also to accomplish their own perfection. 1 Cor. i. 10, "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions (or schisms) among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared to me of you, my brethren,—that there are contentions among you." 1 Cor. iii. 3, "For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, (zeal,) and strife, and divisions, (or parties, or factions,) are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not carnal?" Phil. ii. 1-4, "If there be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves." Rom. xvi. 17, 18, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions (or parties) and offences, (or scandals,) contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them." Abundance more such texts may be recited.[151]

The benefits of concord.

II. The great benefits of the concord of christians are these following. 1. It is necessary to the very {602} life of the church and its several members, that they be all one body. As their union with Christ the head and principle of their life is principally necessary, so unity among themselves is secondarily necessary, for the conveyance and reception of that life which floweth to all from Christ. For though the head be the fountain of life, yet the nerves and other parts must convey that life unto the members; and if any member be cut off or separated from the body, it is separated also from the head, and perisheth. Mark well those words of the apostle, Eph. iv. 3-16, "Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.—And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that—speaking the truth in love, we may grow up into him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ; from whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by every joint of supply, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love." See here how the church's unity is necessary to its life and increase, and to the due nutrition of all the parts.

2. The unity of the church, and the concord of believers, is necessary to its strength and safety; for Christ also strengtheneth as well as quickeneth them by suitable means. Woe to him that is alone! but in the army of the Lord of hosts we may safely march on, when stragglers are catched up or killed by the weakest enemy. A threefold cord is not easily broken. Enemies both spiritual and corporal are deterred from assaulting the church or any of its members, while they see us walk in our military unity and order. In this posture every man is a blessing and defence unto his neighbour. As every soldier hath the benefit of all the conduct, wisdom, and valour of the whole army, while he keepeth in his place; so every weak christian hath the use and benefit of all the learning, the wisdom, and gifts of the church, while he keepeth his station, and walketh orderly in the church. The hand, the eye, the ear, the foot, and every member of the body, is as ready to help or serve the whole, and every other particular member, as itself; but if it be cut off, it is neither helpful, nor to be helped. Oh what mercy is it for every christian, that is unable to help himself, to have the help of all the church of God! their directions, their exhortations, their love, their prayer, their liberality and compassion, according to their several abilities and opportunities! as infants and sick persons have the help of all the rest of the family that are in health.

3. Unity and concord, as they proceed from love, so they greatly cherish and increase love; even as the laying of the wood or coals together is necessary to the making of the fire, which the separating of them will put out.[152] Holy concord cherisheth holy converse and communion; and holy communion powerfully kindleth holy love. When the servants of Christ do see in each other the lustre of his graces, and hear from each other the heavenly language which floweth from a divine and heavenly mind, this potently kindleth their affections to each other, and maketh them close with those as the sons of God, in whom they find so much of God; yea, it causeth them to love God himself in others, with a reverent, admiring, and transcendent love, when others, at the best, can love them but as men. Concord is the womb and soil of love, although it be first its progeny. In quietness and peace the voice of peace is most regarded.

4. Unity and concord is the church's beauty: it maketh us amiable even to the eye of nature, and venerable and terrible even to the eye of malice. A concord in sin is no more honour, than it is for conquered men to go together in multitudes to prison or captivity; or for beasts to go by droves unto the slaughter. But to see the churches of Christ with one heart and soul acknowledging their Maker and Redeemer, and singing his praise as with one voice, and living together in love and concord, as those that have one principle, one rule, one nature, one work, one interest, and hope, and end, this is the truly beauteous symmetry, and delectable harmony. Psal. cxxxiii. "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, that went down to the skirts of his garment. As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descendeth upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore." The translators well put this as the contents of this psalm, "The benefit of the communion of saints."

5. The concord of believers doth greatly conduce to the successes of the ministry, and propagation of the gospel, and the conviction of unbelievers, and the conversion and salvation of ungodly souls. When Christ prayeth for the unity of his disciples, he redoubled this argument from the effect or end, "that the world may believe that thou hast sent me;" and "that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them," &c. John xvii. 21, 23. Would this make the world believe that Christ was sent of God? Yes, undoubtedly if all christians were reduced to a holy concord, it would do more to win the heathen world, than all other means can do without it. It is the divisions and the wickedness of professed christians, that maketh christianity so contemned by the Mahometans, and other infidels of the world; and it is the holy concord of christians that would convince and draw them home to Christ. Love, and peace, and concord are such virtues, as all the world is forced to applaud, notwithstanding nature's enmity to good. When the first christian church "were all with one accord in one place, and continued daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house partook of food with gladness and singleness of heart," and when "the multitude of believers were of one heart and of one soul," Acts ii. 1, 46; iv. 32, then did "God send upon {603} them the Holy Ghost, and then were three thousand converted at a sermon," Acts ii. 41; and with "great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all," Acts iv. 33.

How our concord would promote the conversion of infidels.

Our concord in religion hath all these advantages for the converting of unbelievers and ungodly men. 1. It is a sign that there is a constraining evidence of truth in that gospel which doth convince so many; a concurrent satisfaction and yielding to the truth, is a powerful testimony for it. 2. They see then that religion is not a matter of worldly policy and design, when so many men of contrary interests do embrace it. 3. And they see it is not the fruit of melancholy constitutions, when so many men of various temperatures entertain it. 4. They may see that the gospel hath power to conquer that self-love and self-interest which is the most potent thing in vitiated nature: otherwise it could never make so many unite in God as their common interest and end. 5. They may see that the gospel and Spirit of Christ are stronger than the devil and all the allurements of the flesh and world, when they can make so many agree in the renouncing of all earthly vanities, for the hopes of everlasting life. 6. They will see that the design and doctrine of christianity are good and excellent, beseeming God, and desirable to man; when they see that they produce so good effects, as the love, and unity, and concord of mankind. 7. And it is an exceeding great and powerful help to the conversion of the world in this respect, because it is a thing so conspicuous in their sight, and so intelligible to them, and so approved by them. They are little wrought on by the doctrine of Christ alone, because it is visible or audible but to few, and understood by fewer, and containeth many things which nature doth distaste; but the holy concord of believers is a thing that they are more able to discern and judge of, and do more generally approve. The holy concord of christians must be the conversion of the unbelieving world, if God have so great a mercy for the world; which is a consideration that should not only deter us from divisions, but make us zealously study and labour with all our interest and might, for the healing of the lamentable divisions among christians, if we have the hearts of christians, and any sense of the interest of Christ.

6. The concord of christians doth greatly conduce to the ease and peace of particular believers. The very exercise of love to one another doth sweeten all our lives and duties; we sail towards heaven in a pleasant calm, with wind and tide, when we live in love and peace together. How easy doth it make the work of godliness! How light a burden doth religion seem, when we are all as of one heart and soul!

7. Lastly, consider whether this be not the likest state to heaven, and therefore have not in it the most of christian excellency and perfection? In heaven there is no discord, but a perfect consort of glorified spirits, harmoniously loving and praising their Creator. And if heaven be desirable, holy concord on earth is next desirable.

The mischiefs of division.

III. On the contrary, consider well of the mischiefs of divisions. 1. It is the killing of the church, (as much as lieth in the dividers,) or the wounding it at least. Christ's body is one, and it is sensible; and therefore dividing it tendeth directly to the destroying it, and at least will cause its smart and pain. To reform the church by dividing it, is no wiser than to cut out the liver, or spleen, or gall, to cleanse them from the filth that doth obstruct them, and hinder them in their office; you may indeed thus cleanse them, but it will be a mortal cure. As he that should divide the kingdom into two kingdoms dissolveth the old kingdom, or part of it at least, to erect two new ones; so he that would divide the catholic church into two, must thereby destroy it, if he could succeed; or destroy that part which divideth itself from the rest. Can a member live that is cut off from the body, or a branch that is separated from the tree?

Quest. O but, say the Romanists, why then do you cut off yourselves from us? the division is made by you, and we are the church, and you are dead till you return to us. How will you know which part is the church, when a division is once made? Answ. |Whether papists or protestants are schismatics.|Are you the church? Are you the only christians in the world? The church is, all christians united in Christ their Head. You traitorously set up a new usurping head; and proclaim yourselves to be the whole church, and condemn all that are not subjects to your new head: we keep our station, and disclaim his usurpation, and deny subjection to you, and tell you that as you are the subjects of the pope, you are none of the church of Christ at all; from this treasonable conspiracy we withdraw ourselves; but as you are the subjects of Christ we never divided from you, nor denied you our communion.[153] Let reason judge now who are the dividers. And is it not easy to know which is the church in the division? It is all those that are still united unto Christ: if you or we be divided from Christ and from christians that are his body, we are then none of the church; but if we are not divided from Christ, we are of the church still: if part of a tree (though the far greater part) be cut off or separated from the rest, it is that part (how small soever) that still groweth with the root that is the living tree. The Indian fig tree, and some other trees, have branches that take root when they touch the ground: if now you ask me whether the branches springing from the second root, are members of the first tree, I answer, 1. The rest that have no new root are more undoubtedly members of it. 2. If any branches are separated from the first tree, and grow upon the new root alone, the case is out of doubt. 3. But if yet they are by continuation joined to both, that root which they receive their nutriment most from, is it which they most belong to. Suppose a tyrant counterfeit a commission from the king to be vice-king in Ireland, and proclaim all them to be traitors that receive him not; the king disclaimeth him, the wisest subjects renounce him, and the rest obey him but so as to profess they do it because they believe him to be commissioned by the king. Let the question be now, who are the dividers in Ireland? and who are the king's truest subjects? and what head it is that denominateth the kingdom? and who are the traitors? This is your case.

2. Divisions are the deformities of the church. Cut off a nose, or pluck out an eye, or dismember either a man or a picture, and see whether you have not deformed it. Ask any compassionate christian, ask any insulting enemy, whether our divisions be not our deformity and shame, the lamentation of friends, and the scorn of enemies?

{604} 3. The church's divisions are not our own dishonour alone, but the injurious dishonour of Christ, and religion, and the gospel. The world thinketh that Christ is an impotent king, that cannot keep his kingdom at unity in itself, when he hath himself told us, that "every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand," Matt. xii. 25. They think the gospel tendeth to division, and is a doctrine of dissension, when they see divisions and dissensions procured by it; they impute all the faults of the subjects to the King, and think that Christ was confused in his legislation, and knew not what to teach or command, because men are confounded in their opinions or practices, and know not what to think or do. If men misunderstand the law of Christ, and one saith, This is the sense, and another saith, That is the sense, they are ready to think that Christ spake nonsense, or understood not himself, because the ignorant understand him not: who is there that converseth with the ungodly of the world, that heareth not by their reproach and scorns how much God and religion are dishonoured by the divisions of religious people?

4. And thus also our divisions do lamentably hinder the progress of the gospel, and the conversion and salvation of the ungodly world: they think they have small encouragement to be of your religion, while your divisions seem to tell them, that you know not what religion to be of yourselves. Whatever Satan or wicked men would say against religion to discourage the ungodly from it, the same will exasperated persons in these divisions say against each other's way; and when every one of you condemneth another, how should the consciences of the ungodly persuade them to accept salvation in any of those ways, which you thus condemn? Doubtless the divisions of the christian world have done more to hinder the conversion of infidels, and keep the heathen and Mahometan world in their damnable ignorance and delusions, than all our power is able to undo; and have produced such desolations of the church of Christ, and such a plentiful harvest and kingdom for the devil, as every tender christian heart is bound to lament with tears of bitterness. If it must be that such offences shall come, yet woe to those by whom they come!

5. Divisions lay open the churches of Christ, not only to the scorn, but to the malice, will, and fury of their enemies. A kingdom or house divided cannot stand, Matt. xii. 25. Where hath the church been destroyed, or religion rooted out, in any nation of the earth, but divisions had a principal hand in the effect? Oh what desolations have they made among the flocks of Christ! As Seneca and others opened their veins and bled to death, when Nero or such other tyrants did send them their commands to die; even so have many churches done by their divisions, to the gratifying of Satan, the enemy of souls.

6. Divisions among christians do greatly hinder the edification of the members of the church; while they are possessed with envyings and distaste of one another, they lose all the benefit of each other's gifts, and of that holy communion which they should have with one another.[154] And they are possessed with that zeal and wisdom, which James calleth earthly, sensual, and devilish, which corrupteth all their affections, and turneth their food to the nourishment of their disease, and maketh their very worshipping of God to become the increase of their sin. Where divisions and contentions are, the members that should grow up in humility, meekness, self-denial, holiness, and love, do grow in pride, and perverse disputings, and passionate strivings, and envious wranglings; the Spirit of God departeth from them, and an evil spirit of malice and vexation taketh place; though, in their passion, they know not what spirit they are of: whereas if they be of one mind, and live in peace, the God of love and peace will be with them. What lamentable instances of this calamity have we in many of the sectaries of this present time; especially in the people called quakers, that while they pretend to the greatest austerities, do grow up to such a measure of sour pride, and uncharitable contempt of others, and especially of all superiors, and hellish railing against the holiest ministers and people, as we have scarce known or ever read of.

7. These divisions fill the church with sin, even with sins of a most odious nature. They introduce a swarm of errors, while it becomes the mode for every one to have a doctrine of his own, and to have something to say in religion which may make him notable. "Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them," Acts xx. 30. They cherish pride, and malice, and belying others, (the three great sins of the devil,) as naturally as dead flesh breedeth worms; they destroy impartial, christian love, as naturally as bleeding doth consume our vital heat and moisture. What wickedness is it that they will not cherish? In a word, |The Greek word is zeal.|the Scripture telleth us that "where envying and strife is, there is confusion, and every evil work." (And is not this a lamentable way of reformation of some imaginary or lesser evils?)

8. These divisions are the grief of honest spectators, and cause the sorrows of those that are guilty of them. They make all their duties uneasy to them, and turn their religion into a bitter, unpleasant, wrangling toil; like oxen in the yoke that strive against each other, when they should draw in order and equality. What a grievous life is it to husband and wife, or any in the family, if they live in discord? So is it to the members of the church. When once men take the kingdom of God to consist of meats, or drinks, or ceremonies, which consisteth in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, and turn to strive about unedifying questions, they turn from all the sweetness of religion.[155]

9. Sects and divisions lead directly to apostasy from the faith. Nothing is more in the design of Satan, than to confound men so with variety of religions, that they may think there is no certainty in any; that so both the ignorant spectators may think all religion is but fancy and deceit, and the contenders themselves wheel about from sect to sect, till they come to the point where they first set out, and to be at last deliberately of no religion, who at first were of none for want of deliberation. And it is no small success that Satan hath had by this temptation.

10. The divisions of christians do oft proceed to shake states and kingdoms, having a lamentable influence upon the civil peace; and this stirreth up princes' jealousies against them, and to the use of those severities, which the suffering party takes for persecution; yea, and Turks, and all princes that are enemies to reformation and holiness, do justify themselves in their cruelest persecutions, when they see the divisions of christians, and the troubles of states that have followed thereupon. If christians, and protestants in special, did live in that unity, peace, and order as their Lord and Ruler requireth {605} them to do, the consciences of persecutors would even worry and torment them, and make their lives a hell on earth, for their cruelty against so excellent a sort of men; but now when they see them all in confusions, and see the troubles that follow hereupon, and hear them reviling one another, they think they may destroy them as the troublers of the earth, and their consciences scarce accuse them for it.

The aggravations of schism.

IV. It is necessary also for your true understanding the malignity of this sin, that you take notice of the aggravations of it, especially as to us. 1. It is a sin against so many, and clear, and vehement words of the Holy Ghost, (which I have partly before recited,) that it is therefore utterly without excuse: whoredoms, and treasons, and perjury are not oftener forbidden in the gospel than this.

2. It is contrary to the design of Christ in our redemption; which was to reconcile us all to God, and unite and centre us all in him: "To gather together in one the children of God that are scattered abroad," John xi. 52. "To gather together in one all things in Christ," Eph. i. 10. "To make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace," Eph. ii. 15. And shall we join with Satan the divider and destroyer, against Christ the reconciler, in the very design of his redemption?

3. It is contrary to the design of the Spirit of grace, and contrary to the very nature of christianity itself. "By one Spirit we are all baptized into one body—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit," 1 Cor. xii. 13. "As there is one body and one Spirit, so it is our charge to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace," Eph. iv. 3, 4. The new nature of christians doth consist in love, and desireth the communion of saints as such; and therefore the command of this special love is called the new commandment, John xvii. 21; xiii. 34; xv. 12, 17. And they are said to be taught of God to love one another, 1 Thess. iv. 9. As self-preservation is the chief principle in the natural body, which causeth it to abhor the wounding or amputation of its members, and to avoid division as destruction, except when a gangrened member must be cut off, for the saving of the body; so it is also with the mystical body of Christ. He is senseless and graceless that abhorreth not church wounds.

4. These divisions are sins against the nearest bonds of our high relations to each other:[156] "We are brethren, and should there be any strife among us?" Gen. xiii. 8. "We are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus," Gal. iii. 26. We are the fellow-members of the body of Christ; and should we tear his body, and separate his members, and cut his flesh, and break his bones? Eph. v. 23, 30. "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body being many, are one body, so also is Christ," 1 Cor. xii. 12. "As we have many members in one body—so we being many are one body in Christ; and every one members one of another," Rom. xii. 4, 5. He that woundeth or dismembereth your own bodies, shall scarce be taken for your friend; and are you Christ's friends, when you dismember or wound his body?[157] Is it lovely to see the children or servants in your family together by the ears? Are civil wars for the safety of a kingdom? Or doth that tend to the honour of the children of God, which is the shame of common men? Or is that the safety of his kingdom, which is the ruin of all others? "We are all fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God," Eph. ii. 19. "We are God's building," 1 Cor. iii. 9. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God; and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy: for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are," 1 Cor. iii. 16, 17. Will he destroy the defilers, and will he love the dividers and destroyers? If it be so great a sin to go to law unnecessarily with our brethren, or to wrong them, 1 Cor. vi. 8, what is it to disown them, and cast them off? And if they that salute and love only their brethren, and not also their enemies, are not the children of God, Matt. v. 47, what are they that separate from and condemn even their brethren?

5. Church dividers either would divide Christ himself between them, or else would rob him of a great part of his inheritance: and neither of these is a little sin. If you make several bodies, you would have several heads; and is Christ divided? saith the apostle, 1 Cor. i. 13. Will you make him a sect-master? He will be your common head as christians; but he will be no head of your sects and parties. (I will not name them.) Or would you tear out of the hands of Christ any part of his possessions? Will he cut them off, because you cut them off? Will he separate them from himself, because you separate from them, or separate them from you? Will he give them a bill of divorce, whenever you are pleased to lay any odious accusation against them? Who shall condemn them, when it is he that justifieth them? Who shall separate them from the love of God? Can your censure or separation do it, when neither life, nor death, nor any creature can do it? Rom. viii. 33, &c. Hath he not told you, that "he will give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of his hand?" John x. 28. Will he lose his jewels, because you cast them away as dirt? He suffered more for souls than you, and better knoweth the worth of souls! And do you think that he will forget so dear a purchase? or take it well that you rob him of that which he hath bought so dearly? Will you give the members and inheritance of Christ to the devil, and say, They are Satan's, and none of Christ's? "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant?"

6. Church dividers are guilty of self-ignorance, and pride, and great unthankfulness against that God that beareth with so much in them, who so censoriously cast off their brethren. Wert thou ever humbled for thy sin? Dost thou know who thou art, and what thou carriest about thee, and how much thou offendest God thyself? If thou do, surely thou wilt judge tenderly of thy brethren, as knowing what a tender hand thou needest, and what mercy thou hast found from God. Can he cruelly judge his brethren to hell upon his petty differences, who is sensible how the gracious hand of his Redeemer did so lately snatch him from the brink of hell? Can he be forward to condemn his brethren, that hath been so lately and mercifully saved himself?

7. Church dividers are the most successful servants of the devil, being enemies to Christ in his family and livery. They gratify Satan, and all the enemies of the church, and do the very work that he would have them do, more effectually than open enemies could do it. As mutineers in an army may do more to destroy it, than the power of the enemy.

8. It is a sin that contradicteth all God's ordinances and means of grace; which are purposely to procure and maintain the unity of his church. The word and baptism is to gather them into one body, {606} and the Lord's supper to signify and maintain their concord, as being one bread, and one body, 1 Cor. x. 17. And all the communion of the church is to express and to maintain this concord. The use of the ministry is much to this end, to be the bonds and joints of this unity of believers, Eph. iv. 13, 14, 16. All these are contemned and frustrated by dividers.

9. Church division is a sin (especially to us) against as great and lamentable experiences as almost any sin can be. About sixteen hundred years the church hath smarted by it. In many countries where the gospel prospered, and churches flourished, division hath turned all into desolation, and delivered them up to the curse of Mahometanism and infidelity. The contentions between Constantinople and Rome, the eastern and the western churches, have shaken the christian interest upon earth, and delivered up much of the christian world to tyranny and blindness, and given advantage to the papacy to captivate and corrupt much of the rest, by pretending itself to be the centre of unity. Oh what glorious churches, where the learned writers of those ages once lived, are now extinct, and the places turned to the worship of the devil and a deceiver, through the ambition and contentions of the bishops, that should have been the bonds of their unity and peace! But doth England need to look back into history, or look abroad in foreign lands, for instances of the sad effects of discord? Is there any one, good or bad, in this age, that hath spent his days in such a sleep, as not to know what divisions have done, when they have made such ruins in church and state, and kindled such consuming flames, and raised so many sects and parties, and filled so many hearts with uncharitable rancour, and so many mouths with slanders and revilings, and turned so many prayers into sin, by poisoning them with pride and factious oppositions, and hath let out streams of blood and fury over all the land? He that maketh light of the divisions of christians in these kingdoms, or loveth not those that speak against them, doth show himself to be so impenitent in them, as to be one of those terrible effects of them, that should be a pillar of salt to warn after-ages to take heed.

10. Yea, this is a heinous aggravation of this sin, that commonly it is justified, and not repented of, by those that do commit it. When a drunkard or a whoremonger will confess his sin, a church divider will stand to it and defend it; and woe to them that call evil good, and good evil! Impenitency is a terrible aggravation of sin.

11. And it is yet the more heinous, in that it is commonly fathered upon God. If a drunkard or whoremonger should say, God commandeth me to do it, and I serve God by it, would you not think this a horrid aggravation? When did you ever know a sect or party, how contrary soever among themselves, but they all pretended God's authority, and entitled him to their sin, and called it his service, and censured others as ungodly, or less godly, that would not do as bad as they? St. James is put to confute them that thought this wisdom was from above, and so did glory in their sin, and lie against the truth, when their wisdom was from beneath, and no better than earthly, sensual, and devilish. For the "wisdom from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy," &c. James iii. 17.

12. Church divisions are unlike to our heavenly state, and in some regard worse than the kingdom of the devil, for he would not destroy it by dividing it against itself, Matt. xii. 26. Oh what a blessed harmony of united holy souls, will there be in the heavenly Jerusalem, where we hope to dwell for ever! There will be no discords, envyings, sidings, or contendings, one being of this party, and another of that; but in the unity of perfect love, that world of spirits with joyful praise will magnify their Creator. And is a snarling envy or jarring discord the likely way to such an end? Is the church of Christ a Babel of confusion? Should they be divided, party against party, here, that must be one in perfect love for ever?[158] Shall they here be condemning each other, as none of the children of the Most High, who there must live in sweetest concord? If there be shame in heaven, you will be ashamed to meet those in the delights of glory, and see them entertained by the Lord of love, whom you reviled and cast out of the church or your communion, causelessly, on earth.

Remember now that schism, and making parties and divisions in the church, is not so small a sin as many take it for: it is the accounting it a duty, and a part of holiness, which is the greatest cause that it prospereth in the world; and it will never be reformed till men have right apprehensions of the evil of it. Why is it that sober people are so far and free from the sins of swearing, drunkenness, fornication, and lasciviousness, but because these sins are under so odious a character, as helpeth them easily to perceive the evil of them. And till church divisions be rightly apprehended, as whoredom, and swearing, and drunkenness are, they will never be well cured. Imprint therefore on your minds the true character of them, which I have here laid down, and look abroad upon the effects, and then you will fear this confounding sin, as much as a consuming plague.

Two hinderances of our true apprehensions of schism.

The two great causes that keep divisions from being hated as they ought, are, 1. A charitable respect to the good that is in church dividers, carrying us to overlook the evil of the sin; judging of it by the persons that commit it, and thinking that nothing should seem odious that is theirs, because many of them are in other respects of blameless, pious conversations. And indeed every christian must so prudently reprehend the mistakes and faults of pious men, as not to asperse the piety which is conjunct; and therefore not to make their persons odious, but to give the person all his just commendations for his piety, while we oppose and aggravate his sin; because Christ himself so distinguisheth between the good and the evil, and the person and the sin, and loveth his own for their good while he hateth their evil; and so must we; and because it is the grand design of Satan, by the faults of the godly to make their persons hated first, and their piety next, and so to banish religion from the world; and every friend of Christ must show himself an enemy to this design of Satan. But yet the sin must be disowned and opposed, while the person is loved according to his worth. Christ will give no thanks for such love to his children, as cherisheth their church-destroying sins. There is no greater enemy to sin than Christ, though there be no greater friend to souls. Godliness was never intended to be a fortress for iniquity; or a battery for the devil to mount his cannons on against the church; nor for a blind to cover the powder-mines of hell. Satan never opposeth truth, and godliness, and unity so dangerously, as when he can make religious men his instruments. Remember therefore that all men are vanity, and God's interest and honour must not be sacrificed to theirs, nor the Most Holy be abused, in reverence to the holiest of sinful men.

The other great hinderance of our due apprehension {607} of the sinfulness of divisions, is our too deep sense of our sufferings by superiors, and our looking so much at the evil of persecutions, as not to look at the danger of the contrary extreme. Thus under the papacy, the people of Germany at Luther's reformation were so deeply sensible of the papal cruelties, that they thought by how many ways soever men fled from such bloody persecutors, they were very excusable. And while men were all taken up in decrying the Roman idolatry, corruptions, and cruelties, they never feared the danger of their own divisions till they smarted by them. And this was once the case of many good people here in England, who so much hated the wickedness of the profane and the haters of godliness, that they had no apprehensions of the evil of divisions among themselves: and because so many profane ones were wont to call sober, godly people, schismatics and factious, therefore the very names began with many to grow into credit, as if they had been of good signification, and there had been really no such sin as schism and faction to be feared: till God permitted this sin to break in upon us with such fury, as had almost turned us into a Babel, and a desolation. And I am persuaded God did purposely permit it, to teach his people more sensibly to know the evil of that sin by the effects, which they would not know by other means: and to let them see when they had reviled and ruined each other, that there is that in themselves which they should be more afraid of, than of any enemy without.

Direct. V. Own not any cause which is an enemy to love; and pretend neither truth, nor holiness, nor unity, nor order, nor any thing against it.[159] The spirit of love is that one vital spirit which doth animate all the saints. The increase of love is the powerful balsam that healeth all the church's wounds; though loveless, lifeless physicians think that all these wounds must be healed by the sword. And indeed the weapon-salve is now become the proper cure. It is the sword that must be medicated, that the wounds made by it may be healed. The decays of love are the church's dissolution; which first causeth scissures and separations, and in process crumbleth us all to dust: and therefore the pastors of the church are the fittest instruments for the cure, who are the messengers of love, and whose government is paternal, and hurteth not the body; but is only a government of love, and exercised by all the means of love. All christians in the world confess that love is the very life and perfection of all grace, and the end of all our other duties, and that which maketh us like to God; and that if love dwelleth in us, God dwelleth in us; and that it will be the everlasting grace, and the work of heaven, and the happiness of souls; and that it is the excellent way, and the character of saints, and the new commandment. And all this being so, it is most certain that no way is the way of God, which is not the way of love; and therefore what specious pretences soever they may have, and one may cry up truth, and another holiness, and another order, and another unity itself, to justify their envyings, hatred, cruelties, it is most certain that all such pretences are satanical deceits.[160] And if they bite and devour one another, they are not like the sheep of Christ, but shall be devoured one of another, Gal. v. 15. "Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law," Rom. xiii. 10. When papists that show their love to men's souls by racking their bodies, and frying them in the fire, can make them apprehensive of the excellency of that kind of love, they may use it to the healing of the church. In the mean time as their religion is, such is their concord, while all those are called members of their union, and professors of their religion, who must be burnt to ashes if they say the contrary. They that give God an image and carcass of religion, are thus content with the image and carcass of a church for the exercise of it. And if there were nothing else but this to detect the sinfulness of the sect of quakers, and many more, it is enough to satisfy any sober man, that it cannot be the way of God. God is not the author of that spirit and way which tends to wrath, emulation, hatred, railing, and the extinction of christian love, to all save their own sect and party. Remember, as you love your souls, that you shun all ways that are destructive to universal christian love.

Direct. VI. Make nothing necessary to the unity of the church, or the communion of christians, which God hath not made necessary, or directed you to make so.[161] By this one folly, the papists are become the most notorious schismatics on earth; even by making new articles of faith, and new parts of worship, and imposing them on all christians, to be sworn, subscribed, professed, or practised, so as that no man shall be accounted a catholic, or have communion with them, (or with the universal church, if they could hinder it,) that will not follow them in all their novelties. They that would subscribe to all the Scriptures, and to all the ancient creeds of the church, and would do any thing that Christ and his apostles have enjoined, and go every step of that way to heaven that Peter and Paul went, as far as they are able, yet if they will go no further, and believe no more, (yea, if they will not go against some of this,) must be condemned, cast out, and called schismatics by these notorious schismatics. If he hold to Christ the universal Head of the church, and will not be subject or sworn to the pope, the usurping head, he shall be taken as cut off from Christ. And there is no certainty among these men what measure of faith, and worship, and obedience to them, shall be judged necessary to constitute a church member: for as that which served in the apostles' days, and the following ages, will not serve now, nor the subscribing to all the other pretended councils until then will not serve without subscribing to the creed or council of Trent; so nobody can tell, what new faith, or worship, or test of christianity, the next council (if the world see any more) may require: and how many thousand that are Trent catholics now, may be judged heretics or schismatics then, if they will not shut their eyes, and follow them any whither, and change their religion as oft as the papal interest requireth a change. Of this Chillingworth, Hales, and Dr. H. More have spoken plainly.[162] If the pope had imposed but one lie to be subscribed, or one sin to be done, and said "All nations {608} and persons that do not this, are no christians, or shall have no communion with the church," the man that refuseth that imposed lie or sin, is guiltless of the schism, and doth but obey God, and save his soul; and the usurper that imposeth them, will be found the heinous schismatic before God, and the cause of all those divisions of the church. And so if any private sectary shall feign an opinion or practice of his own to be necessary to salvation or church communion, and shall refuse communion with those that are not of his mind and way, it is he, and not they, that is the cause of the uncharitable separation.

Direct. VII. Pray against the usurpations or intrusions of impious, carnal, ambitious, covetous pastors into the churches of Christ.[163] For one wicked man in the place of a pastor, may do more to the increase of a schism or faction, than many private men can do. And carnal men have carnal minds and carnal interests, which are both unreconcilable to the spiritual, holy mind and interest; for the "carnal mind is enmity against God, and is not subject to his law, nor can be," Rom. viii. 7. "And they that are in the flesh cannot please God," ver. 8. And you may easily conceive what work will be made in the ship, when an enemy of the owner hath subtilly possessed himself of the pilot's place! He will charge all that are faithful as mutineers, because they resist him when he would carry all away. And if an enemy of Christ shall get to be governor of one of his regiments or garrisons, all that are not traitors shall be called traitors, and cashiered, that they hinder not the treason which he intendeth. And "as then he that was born after the flesh, persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now: but what saith the Scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son," &c. Gal. iv. 29, 30. It is not the sacred office of the ministry, nor the profession of the same religion, that will cure the enmity of a carnal heart, against both holiness and the holy seed. The whole business of the world from age to age is but the management of that war, proclaimed at sin's first entrance into the world, between the seed of the woman and the serpent, Gen. iii. 15; and none of the serpent's seed are more cruel or more successful, than those of them that creep into the armies of Christ; and especially that get the conduct of his regiments.[164] Neither brotherhood nor unity of professed religion, would hold the hands of malignant Cain from murdering his brother Abel. The same religion, and father, and family reconciled not scoffing Ishmael to Isaac, or profane Esau to his brother Jacob. The family of Christ, and an apostle's office, did not keep Judas from being a traitor to his Lord. If carnal men invade the ministry, they take the way of ease, and honour, and worldly wealth, and strive for dominion, and who shall be the greatest, and care not how great their power and jurisdiction are, nor how little their profitable work is; and their endeavour is to fit all matters of worship and discipline to their ambitious, covetous ends; and the spiritual worshipper shall be the object of their hate: and is it any wonder if the churches of Christ be torn by schism, and betrayed to profaneness, where there are such unhappy guides?[165]

Direct. VIII. In a special manner, take heed of pride; suspect it and subdue it in yourselves, and do what you can to bring it into disgrace with others.[166] "Only by pride cometh contention," Prov. xiii. 10. I never yet saw one schism made, in which pride conjunct with ignorance was not the cause: nor ever did I know one person forward in a schism, (to my remembrance,) but pride was discernibly his disease. I do not here intend (as the papists) to charge all with schism or pride, that renounce not their understandings, and choose not to give up themselves to a bestial subjection to usurpers or their pastors: he that thinks it enough that his teacher hath reason and be a man, instead of himself, and so thinketh it enough that his teacher be a christian and religious; must be also content that his teacher alone be saved: (but then he must not be the teacher of such a damning way:) but by pride I mean a plain overvaluing of his own understanding, and conceits and reasonings, quite above all the evidences of their worth, and an undervaluing and contempt of the judgments and reasonings of far wiser men, that had evidence enough to have evinced his folly and error to a sober and impartial man. Undoubtedly it is the pride of priests and people, that hath so lamentably in all ages torn the church. He that readeth the histories of schisms and church confusions, and marketh the effects which this age hath showed, will no more doubt whether pride were the cause, than whether it was the wind that blew down trees and houses, when he seeth them one way overturned by multitudes, where the tempest came with greatest force. Therefore a bishop must be "no novice, lest being lifted up with pride (ἵνα μὴ τυφωθεὶς) he fall into the condemnation of the devil," 1 Tim. iii. 6. And if such stars fall from heaven, no wonder if they bring many down headlong with them. Humble souls {609} dwell most at home, and think themselves unworthy of the communion of their brethren, and are most quarrelsome against their own corruptions. "They do nothing in strife and vain-glory, but in lowliness of mind each one esteemeth other better than themselves," Phil. ii. 2, 3; and "judge not lest they be judged," Matt. vi. 1. And is it likely such should be dividers of the church? But proud men must either be great and domineer, and as Diotrephes, 3 John 9, 10, love to have the pre-eminence, and cast the brethren out of the church, and prate against their faithfullest pastors with malicious words; or else must be noted for their supposed excellencies, and set up themselves, and speak perverse things, to draw away disciples after them, Acts xx. 30; and think the brethren unworthy of their communion, and esteem all others below themselves; and, as the church of Rome, confound communion and subjection, and think none fit for their communion that obey them not, or comply not with their opinion and will. There is no hope of concord where pride hath power to prevail.

Direct. IX. Take heed of singularity, and narrowness of mind, and unacquaintedness with the former and present state of the church and world. Men that are bred up in a corner, and never read nor heard of the common condition of the church or world, are easily misled into schism, through ignorance of those matters of fact that would preserve them. Abundance of this sort of honest people that I have known, have known so little beyond the town or country where they lived, that they have thought they were very catholic in their communion, because they had one or two congregations, and divided not among themselves. But for the avoiding of schism, 1. Look (with pity) on the unbelieving world, and consider that christians of all sorts are but a sixth part of the whole earth. And then, 2. Consider of this sixth part how small a part the reformed churches are. And if you be willing to leave Christ any church at all, perhaps you will be loth to separate yet into a narrower party, which is no more to all the world, than one of your cottages is to the whole kingdom. And is this all the kingdom on earth that you will ascribe to Christ? Is the King of the church, the King only of your little party? Though his flock be but a little flock, make it not next to none; as if he came into the world on so low a design as the gathering of your sect only. The less his flock is, the more sinful it is to rob him of it, and make it lesser than it is. It is a little flock, if it contained all the christians, protestants, Greeks, Armenians, Abassines, and papists on the earth. Be singular and separate from the unbelieving world, and spare not; and be singular in holiness from profane and nominal hypocritical christians; but affect not to be singular in opinion or practice, or separated in communion, from the universal church, or generality of sound believers: or if you forsake some common error, yet hold still the common love and communion with all the faithful, according to your opportunities. 3. And it will be very useful when you are tempted to separate from any church for the defectiveness of its manner of worship, to inquire how God is worshipped in all the churches on earth, and then consider, whether if you lived among them you would forsake communion with them all, for such defects (while you are not forced to justify or approve them).[167] 4. And it is very useful to read church history, and to understand what heresies have been in times past, and what havoc schisms have caused among christians: for if this much had been known by well meaning persons in our days, we should not have seen those same opinions applauded as new light, which were long ago exploded as old heresies: nor should we have seen many honest people, taking that same course to reform the church now, and advance the gospel, which in so many ages and nations hath heretofore destroyed the church, and cast out the gospel. A narrow soul, that taketh all Christ's interest in the world, to lie in a few of their separated meetings, and shutteth up all the church in a nutshell, must needs be guilty of the foulest schisms. It is a catholic spirit and catholic principles, loving a christian as a christian, abhorring the very names of sects and parties as the church's wounds, that must make a catholic indeed.

Direct. X. Understand well the true difference between the visible church and the world, lest you should think that you are bound to separate as much from a corrupted church as from the world. It is not true faith, but the profession of true faith, that maketh a man fit to be acknowledged a member of the visible church. If this profession be unsound, and accompanied with a vicious life, it is the sin and misery of such a hypocrite, but it doth not presently put him as far unrelated to you, as if he were an infidel without the church! If you ask what advantage have such unsound church members? I answer with the apostle, Rom. iii. 1, 2, "Much every way, chiefly because unto them are committed the oracles of God." Chap. ix. 4, "To them pertaineth the adoption and the glory and covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises." Till the church find cause to cast them out, they have the external privileges of its communion. It hath made abundance to incur the guilt of sinful separation to misunderstand those texts of Scripture that call christians to separate from heathens, infidels, and idolaters: as 2 Cor. vi. 17, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord," &c. The text speaketh only of separating from the world who are infidels and idolaters, and no members of the church; and ignorant people ordinarily expound it, as if it were meant of separating from the church because of the ungodly that are members of it: but that God that knew why he called his people to separate from the world, doth never call them to separate from the church universal, nor from any particular church by a mental separation so as to unchurch them. We read of many loathsome corruptions in the churches of Corinth, Galatia, Laodicea, &c.; but yet no command to separate from them. So many abuse Rev. xviii. 4, "Come out of her, my people;" as if God commanded them to come out of a true church because of its corruptions or imperfections, because he calleth them out of Babylon! It is true, you must partake with no church in their sins, but you may partake with any church in their holy profession and worship, so far as you can do it without partaking with them in their sins.

Direct. XI. Understand what it is that maketh you partakers of the sins of a church, or any member of it, lest you think you are bound to separate from them in good, as well as in evil. Many fly from the public assemblies, lest they partake of the sins of those that are there present. Certainly nothing but consent (direct or indirect) can make their faults to become yours. And therefore nothing which signifieth not some such consent should be on that account avoided. 1. If you by word, or subscription, or furtherance, own any man's sin, you directly consent to it. 2. If you neglect any duty which lieth {610} upon you for the cure of his sin, you indirectly consent; for you consent that he shall rather continue in his sin, than you will do your part to help him out of it. Consider therefore how far you are bound to reprove any sin, or to use any other means for the reformation of it, whether it be in the pastor or the people; and if you neglect any such means, your way is to reform your own neglect, and do your duty, and not to separate from the church, before you have done your duty to reform it. But if you have done all that is your part, then the sin is none of yours, though you remain there present.

Whether presence be not a consent to sin.

It is a turbulent fancy and disquieting error of some people, to think that their presence in the assembly, and continuance with the church, doth make them guilty of the personal faults of those they join with: if so, who would ever join with any assembly in the world? Quest. But what if they be gross and scandalous sinners that are members of the church? Answ. If you be wanting in your duty to reform it, it is your sin; but if bare presence made their sins to be ours, it would also make all the sins of the assembly ours; but no word of God doth intimate any such thing. Paul never told the churches of Galatia and Corinth so, that had so many defiled members. Quest. But what if they are sins committed in the open assembly, even by the minister himself in his praying, preaching, and other administrations? and what if all this be imposed on him by a law, and so I am certain beforehand that I must join with that which is unwarrantable in God's worship? Answ. The next direction containeth those distinctions that are necessary to the answer of this.

Direct. XII. Distinguish carefully, 1. Between a minister's personal faults and his ministerial faults. 2. Between his tolerable weaknesses and his intolerable insufficiencies. 3. And between the work of the minister and of the congregation. And then you will see your doubt resolved in these following propositions.

1. A minister's personal faults (as swearing, lying, drunkenness, &c.) may damn himself, and must be matter of lamentation to the church, and they must do their best to reform them, or to get a better pastor by any lawful means.[168] But in case they cannot, his sin is none of theirs, nor doth it make his administration null or ineffectual; nor will it allow you to separate from the worship which he administereth. Though many of the priests were wicked men, the godly Jews were not thereby disobliged from God's public worship, or sacrifices which were to be offered by their hands. Otherwise how sad a case were the church in, that must answer for the sins which they never committed, nor could reform. But no Scripture chargeth this upon them.

2. It is not all ministerial faults that will allow you to separate from or disown a minister; but only those that prove him or his ministration utterly intolerable.[169] Such are, 1. An utter insufficiency in knowledge or utterance for the necessary parts of the ministerial work: as if he be not able to teach the necessary points of the christian religion, nor to administer the sacraments and other parts of public worship. 2. If he set himself to oppose the very ends of his ministry, and preach down godliness, or any part of it that is of necessity to salvation: for then he doth the devil's work, in seeking the damnation of souls, and so maketh himself the devil's minister, and is not the minister of Christ: for the end is essential to the relation. Herein I include a preacher of heresy that doth preach up any damning error, and preach down any necessary saving truth; that is, that preacheth such error as subverteth either faith or godliness, and doth more harm in the church than good. 3. If he so deprave God's public worship as to destroy the substance of it, and make it unacceptable, and offer up a public false worship to God, which he disowneth in the very matter of it. As if he put up blasphemy for praise and prayer, or commit idolatry, or set up new sacraments, and guide the people thus in public worship. As the papist priests do that adore bread with divine worship, and pray to the dead, and offer real sacrifices for them, &c.: such worship is not to be joined in. 4. Or if they impose any actual sin upon the people: as in their responds to speak any falsehood, or to adore the bread, or the like: these faults discharge us from being present with such pastors at such worship. But besides these there are many ministerial faults which warrant not our separation. As, 1. The internal vices of the pastor's mind though manifested in their ministration: as some tolerable errors of judgment, or envy and pettish opposition to others. "Some indeed preach Christ of envy and strife, and some of good will: the one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds; but the other of love," &c. Phil. i. 15. Here is an odious vice in the public ministry, even an endeavour to increase the sufferings of the apostle; yet it was lawful to hear such preachers; though not to prefer them before better. Most sects among christians are possessed with a tang of envy and uncharitableness against dissenters, which useth to break forth in their preaching and praying: and yet it is lawful to join with such. 2. It is not unlawful to join with a minister that hath many defects and infirmities in his ministration or manner of worship: as if he preach with some ignorance, disorder, unfit expressions or gestures, unmeet repetitions; or if he do the like in prayer, or in the sacraments, putting something last that should be first, and leaving out something that should be said, or praying coldly and formally. These and such like are faults which we should do our best to reform; and we should not prefer such a ministry before a better; but it is lawful and a duty to join with such, when we have no better. For all men are imperfect, and therefore the manner of worship as performed by them will be imperfect. Imperfect men cannot be perfect in their ministrations: we must join with a defective and imperfect mode of worship, or join with none on earth: and we must perform such or none ourselves. Which of you dare say that in your private prayers, you have no disorder, vain repetitions, flatness, or defects? 3. It is not unlawful to join with a minister that hath some material error or untruth in his preaching or praying, so be it we be not called to approve it, or make it ours, and so it be not pernicious and destructive to the ends of his ministry. For all men have some error, and they that have them may be expected sometimes to vent them. And {611} it is not our presence that is any signification of our consent to their mistakes. If we run away from all that vent any untruth or mistake in public or private worship, we shall scarce know what church or person we may hold communion with: the reason of this followeth.

3. The sense of the church, and all its members, is to be judged of by their public professions, and not by such words of a minister which are his own, and never had their consent. I am by profession a christian, and the Scripture is the professed rule of my religion; and when I go to the assemblies, I profess to worship God according to that rule: I profess myself a hearer of a minister of the gospel, that is to preach the word of God, and that hath promised in his ordination, out of the holy Scriptures to instruct the people committed to his charge, and to teach nothing (as required of necessity to eternal salvation) but that which he shall be persuaded may be concluded and proved by the Scripture. This he professed when he was ordained, and I profess by my presence, only to hear such a preacher of the gospel, and worship God with him in those ordinances of worship, which God hath appointed. Now if this man shall drop in any mistake in preaching, or modify his prayers or administrations amiss, and do his part weakly and disorderly, the hearers are no way guilty of it by their presence. For if I must run away from God's public worship because of men's misperformance, 1. I should join with none on earth; for a small sin may no more be wilfully done or owned than a greater. 2. And then another man's weakness may disoblige me and discharge me from my duty. To order and word his prayers and preaching aright, is part of the minister's own work, and not the people's; and if he do it well, it is no commendation to me that am present, but to himself; and therefore if he do it amiss, it is no fault of mine or dispraise to me, but to himself. If the common-council of London, or the court of aldermen, agree to petition the king for the renewing of their charter, and commit the expressing of their request to their recorder, in their presence; if he petition for something else instead of that which he was intrusted with, and so betray them in the substance of his business, they are openly to contradict him and disown his treachery or mistake; but if he deliver the same petition which he undertook with stammering, disorder, defectiveness, and perhaps some mixture of untruths in his additional reasons and discourse, this is his failing in the personal performance of his duty, and no way imputable to them that sent him, and are present with him, though (in modesty) they are silent and speak not to disown it; for how can it be their fault that a man is wanting in his personal sufficiency and duty (unless it be that they choose not a better). And whether he speak ex tempore or more deliberately, in a written form or without, in words that other men taught him or wrote for him, or in words of his own devising, it altereth not their case.

Of imposed defective liturgies.

Object. But if a man fail through weakness in his own performance, I know not of that beforehand; but if his faulty manner of praying be prescribed and imposed on him by a law, then I know it beforehand, and therefore am guilty of it.

Answ. To avoid confusion, fix upon that which you think is the thing sinful. 1. Either it is because the prayers are defective and faulty. 2. Or because they are imposed. 3. Or because you know the fault beforehand. But none of all these can prove your joining with them sinful. 1. Not because they are faulty; for you may join with as faulty prayers, you confess, if not imposed.[170] 2. Not because imposed, (1.) Because that is an extenuation, and not an aggravation: for it proveth the minister less voluntary of the two than those are that do it without any command, though the error of their own judgments (as most erroneous persons will). (2.) Because (though lawful things oft become unlawful when superiors forbid them, yet) no reason can be given why a lawful thing should become unlawful, because a lawful superior doth command it. Else superiors might take away all our christian liberty, and make all things unlawful to us by commanding them. You would take it for a wild conceit in your children or servants, if they say, when you bid them learn a catechism, or use a form of prayer, It was lawful to us till you commanded us to do it; but because you bid us do it, it is unlawful. If it be a duty to obey governors in all lawful things, then it is not a sin to obey them. 3. And it is not your knowing beforehand that maketh it unlawful: for, 1. I know in general beforehand, that all imperfect men will do imperfectly; and though I know not the particular, that maketh it never the lawfuller, if foreknowledge itself did make it unlawful. 2. If you know that e. g. an antinomian or some mistaken preacher would constantly drop some words for his error in prayer or preaching, that will not make it unlawful in your own judgment for you to join, if it be not a flat heresy. 3. It is another man's error or fault that you foreknow, and not your own; and therefore foreknowledge maketh it not your own. 4. God himself doth as an universal cause of nature concur with men in those acts which he foreknoweth they will sinfully do; and yet God is not to be judged either an author or approver of the sin because of such concurrence and foreknowledge: therefore our foreknowledge maketh us no approvers, or guilty of the failings of any in their sacred ministrations, unless there be some other guilt. If you say that it is no one of these that maketh it unlawful, but all together, you must give us a distinct argument to prove that the concurrence of these three will prove that unlawful, which cannot be proved so by any of them alone, for your affirmation must not serve the turn; and when we know your argument, I doubt not but it may be answered. One thing I still confess may make any defective worship to be unlawful to you; and that is, when you prefer it before better, and may (without a greater inconvenience) enjoy an abler ministry, and purer administration, but will not.

Object. But he that sitteth by in silence, in the posture as the rest of the congregation, seemeth to consent to all that is said and done: and we must avoid all appearance of evil.

Answ. The appearance of evil which is evil indeed, must be always avoided; but that appearance of evil which is indeed good, must not be avoided. We must not forsake our duty lest we seem to sin: that were but to prefer hypocrisy before sincerity, and to avoid appearances more than realities. The omission of a duty is a real sin; and that must not be done to avoid a seeming sin. And whom doth it appear so to? If it appear evil to the blind or prejudiced, it is their eyes that must be cured; but if it appear so to the wise, then it is like it is evil indeed: for a wise man should not judge that to be evil that is not. But I confess that in a case that is altogether indifferent, even the mistakes of the ignorant may oblige us to forbear: but the worship of God must {612} not be so forborne. It is an irrational fancy to think that you must be uncivil, by contradicting, or covering your heads, or doing something offensive to the congregation, when any thing is said or done which you disallow. Your presence signifieth your consent to all that you profess, even to worship God according to his word, and not to all the human imperfections that are there expressed.

Direct. XIII. Distinguish carefully between your personal private duties, and the duty of the pastor or church with which you must concur. And do not think, that if the church or pastor do not their duty, that you are bound to do it for them. To cast out an obstinate, impenitent sinner by sentence from the communion of the church, is the pastor's or church's duty, and not yours, unless in concurrence or subserviency to the church. Therefore if it be not done, inquire whether you did your duty towards it: if you did, the sin is none of yours; for it is not in your power to cast out all that are unworthy from the church. But private familiarity is in your power to refuse; and with such know not to eat.

Direct. XIV. Take the measure of your accidental duties more from the good or hurt of the church, or of many, than from the immediate good or hurt that cometh to yourself. You are not to take that for the station of your duty, which you feel to be most to the commodity of your souls; but that in which you may do God most service. If the service of God for the good of many, require you to stay with a weaker minister, and defective administrations, you will find in the end that this was not only the place of your duty, but also of your benefit: for your life is in God's hands, and all your comforts; and that is the best way to your peace and happiness, in which you are most pleasing unto God, and have his promise of most acceptance and grace. I know the least advantage to the soul must be preferred before all earthly riches; but not before the public good. Yea, that way will prove most advantageous to us, in which we exercise most obedience.

Direct. XV. Take heed of suffering prejudice and fancy to go for reason, and raise in your minds unjustifiable distastes of any way or mode of worship. It is wonderful to see what fancy and prejudice can do! Get once a hard opinion of a thing, and your judgments will make light of all that is said for it, and will see nothing that should reconcile you to it. Partiality will carry you away from equity and truth. Abundance of things appear now false and evil, to men that once imagine them to be so, which would seem harmless, if not laudable, if they were tried by a mind that is clear from prejudice.

Direct. XVI. Judge not of doctrines and worship by persons, but rather of persons by their doctrine and worship (together with their lives). The world is all prone to be carried by respect to persons. I confess where any thing is to be taken upon trust, we must rather trust the intelligent, experienced, honest, and credible, than the ignorant and incredible; but where the word of God must be our rule, it is perverse to judge of things by the persons that hold them or oppose them: sometimes a bad man may be in the right, and a good man in the wrong. Try the way of the worst men before you reject it (in disputable things). And try the opinions and way of the best and wisest before you venture to receive them.

Direct. XVII. Enslave not yourselves to any party of men, so as to be over-desirous to please them, nor over-fearful of their censure. Have a respect to all the rest of the world as well as them. Most men that once engage themselves in a party, do think their honour and interest is involved with them, and that they stand or fall with the favour of their party, and therefore make them (before they are aware) the masters of their consciences.

Direct. XVIII. Regard more the judgment of aged, ripe, experienced men, that have seen the fruits of the various courses of professors of religion, than of the young, unripe, unexperienced, hot-headed sort. Zeal is of great use to execute the resolutions of a well-informed man: and the zeal of others is very useful to warm the hearts of such as do converse with them. But when it comes to matter of judgment once, to decide a case of difficulty, aged experience hath far the advantage; and in no cases more, than in those where peace and concord are concerned, where rash, hot-headed youth is very prone to precipitant courses, which must be afterwards repented of.

Direct. XIX. When fervent, self-conceited people would carry down all by censoriousness and passion, it is time for the pastors and the aged and riper sort of christians openly to rebuke them, and appear against them, and stand their ground, and not to comply with the misguided sort to escape their censures. Nothing hath more caused schisms in the church (except the pride and ambition of the clergy) than that the riper and more judicious sort of people, together with the ministers themselves, have been so loth to lie under the bitter censures of the unexperienced, younger, hotter sort; and to avoid such censures and keep in with them, they have followed those whom they should have led, and have been drawn quite beyond their own understandings. God hath made wisdom to be the guide of the church, and zeal to follow and diligently execute the commands of wisdom. Let ignorant, well meaning people censure you as bitterly as they please, yet keep your ground, and be not so proud or weak as to prefer their good esteem before their benefit, and before the pleasing of God. Sin not against your knowledge to escape the censure of the ignorant. If you do, God will make those men your scourges whom you so much overvalued: and they shall prove to their spiritual fathers as cockered children (like Absalom) do to their natural fathers, and perhaps be the breaking of your hearts. But if the pastors and the riper, experienced christians will stand their ground, and stick together, and rebuke the exorbitancies of the censorious younger ones, they will maintain the credit of the gospel, and keep the truth, and the church's peace, and the hotspurs will in time either repent and be sober, or be shamed and disabled to do much hurt.

Direct. XX. Take heed how you let loose your zeal against the pastors of the church, lest you bring their persons and next their office into contempt, and so break the bonds of the church's unity and peace. There is no more hope of maintaining the church's unity and concord without the ministry, than of keeping the strength or unity of the members without the nerves. If these nerves be weak or labour of a convulsion or other disease, it is curing and strengthening them, and not the cutting them asunder, that must prove to the welfare and safety of the body. Meddle with the faults of the ministry only so far as tendeth to a cure, of them or of the church, but not to bring them into disgrace, and weaken their interest in the people, and disable them from doing good. Abhor that proud, rebellious spirit, that is prone to set up itself against the officers of Christ, and under pretence of greater wisdom or holiness, to bring their guides into contempt; and is picking quarrels with them behind their back, to make them a scorn or odious to the hearers. Indeed a minister of Satan that doth more harm in the church than good, must be so detected as may best disable him {613} from doing harm. But he that doth more good than hurt, must so be dissuaded from the hurt as not to be disabled from the good. "My brethren, be not many masters, (or teachers,) knowing that ye shall receive the greater condemnation," James iii. 1.

Direct. XXI. Look more with an eye of charity on what is good in others and their worship of God, than with an eye of malice to carp at what appeareth evil. Some men have such distempered eyes, that they can see almost nothing but faultiness in any thing of another party which they look at; envy and faction make them carp at every word and every gesture: and they make no conscience of aggravating every failing, and making idolatry of every mistake in worship, and making heresy or blasphemy of every mistake in judgment, and making apostasy of every fall; nay, perhaps the truth itself shall have no better a representation. As Dr. H. More well noteth, It would do much more good in the world, if all parties were forwarder to find out and commend what is good in the doctrine and worship of all that differ from them. This would win them to hearken to reforming advice, and would keep up the credit of the common truths and duties of religion in the world, when this envious snarling at all that others do, doth tend to bring the world to atheism, and banish all reverence of religion, together with christian charity, from the earth.

Direct. XXII. Keep not strange to those from whom you differ, but be acquainted with them, and placidly hear what they have to say for themselves: or else converse with them in christian love in all those duties in which you are agreed, and this (if you never talk of your differences) will do much to reconcile you in all the rest.[171] It is the common way of division, uncharitableness, yea, and cruelty at last, to receive hard reports of those that differ from us behind their backs, and to believe and aggravate all, and proceed to detraction and contention at a distance, and in the dark, and never be familiarly acquainted with them at all. There is something in the apprehension of places, and persons, and things, by the eye-sight, which no reports are able to match: and so there is that satisfaction about men by familiar acquaintance, which we cannot attain by hearsay from any, how judicious soever. All factions commonly converse together, and seek no familiar converse with others, but believe them to be any thing that is naught, and then report them to be so, before they ever knew the persons of whom they speak. I am persuaded this is one of the greatest feeders of enmity, uncharitableness, contention, and slanders in the world. I speak it upon great observation and experience, I have seldom heard any man bitterly oppose the servants of Christ, but either grossly wicked, or those that never had much acquaintance with them; and I see commonly, how bitter soever men were before, when once they converse together, and grow acquainted, they are more reconciled. The reason is, partly because they find less evil and more good in one another than before they did believe to be in them; and partly because uncharitableness and malice, being an ugly monster, is bolder at a distance, but ashamed of itself before your face: and therefore the pens of the champions of malice are usually more bitter than their tongues when they speak to you face to face. Of all the furious adversaries that have raged against me in the latter part of my life, I remember not one enemy that I have, or ever had, that was ever familiar or acquainted with me; and I have myself heard ill reports of many, which by personal acquaintance I have found to be all false. Keep together, and either silence your differences, or gently debate them; yea, rather chide it out, then withdraw asunder. Familiarity feedeth love and unity.

Direct. XXIII. Whenever you look at any corruption in the church, look also at the contrary extreme, and see and avoid the danger of one as well as of the other. Be sure every error and church corruption hath its extreme, and if you do not see it, and the danger of it, you are the liker to run into it. Look well on both sides if you would be safe.

Direct. XXIV. Worship God yourselves in the purest manner, and under the most edifying ministry that lawfully you can attain; but be not too forward to condemn others that reach not to your measure, or attain not so much happiness; and deny not personal communion sometimes, with churches that are more blemished, and less fit for communion. And when you cannot join locally with them, let them have the communion of your hearts, in faith and charity, and prayer for each other. I fear not here openly to tell the world, that if I were turned loose to my own liberty, I would ordinarily worship God in that manner that I thought most pure and agreeable to his will and word; but I would sometimes go to the churches of other christians, that were fit for christian communion, if there were such about me; sometimes to the independents, sometimes to the moderate anabaptists, sometimes to such as had a liturgy as faulty as that of the Greek or the Ethiopian churches; to show by my practice, what communion my heart hath with them all.

Direct. XXV. Take heed that you interest not religion or the church in civil differences.[172] This error hath divided and ruined many famous churches, and most injuriously made the holy truth and worship of God to be a reproach and infamy among selfish, partial, carnal men. When princes and states fall out among themselves, they will needs draw the ministers to their sides, and then one side will certainly condemn them, and call them all that self-interest and malice can invent; and commonly when the controversy is only in point of law or politics, it is religion that bears the blame of all: and the differences of lawyers and statesmen must be charged upon divines, that the devil may be able to make them useless, as to the good of all that party that is against them, and may make religion itself be called rebellion. And oh that God would maintain the peace of kingdoms; and kings and subjects were all lovers of peace, the rather because the differences in states do cause so commonly divisions in the church. It would make a man wonder (and a lover of history to lament) to observe in the differences between the pope and Henry the fourth, and other emperors, how the historians are divided, one half commending him that the other half condemneth; and how the bishops and churches were one half for the pope, and the other for the emperor; and one half still accounted rebels or schismatics by the other, though they were all of one religion. It is more to ruin the church, than kingdoms, that Satan laboureth so much to kindle wars, and breed civil differences in the world; and therefore let him that loveth the church's peace, be an obedient subject, and an enemy of sedition, and a lover and defender {614} of the civil peace and government in the place that God hath set him in: for this is pleasing unto God.

I know there are some, that with too bloody and calamitous success, have in most ages given other kind of directions for the extirpation of error, heresy, and schism, than I have here given:[173] but God hath still caused the most wise, and holy, and charitable, and experienced christians to bear their testimony against them. And he hath ever caused their way of cruelty to turn to their own shame: and though (like treasons and robberies) it seem for the time present to serve their turn, it is bitterness in the end, and leaveth a stinking memorial of their names and actions to posterity. And the treatises of reconcilers, (such as our Halls, Ushers, Bergius, Burroughs, and many other,) by the delectable savour of unity and charity, are sweet and acceptable to prudent and peaceable persons, though usually unsuccessful with the violent that needed them.

Besides the forecited witness of Sir Francis Bacon, &c. I will here add one of the most ancient, and one or two of this age, whom the contrary-minded do mention with the greatest honour. Justin Martyr, Dial. cum Tryph. doth at large give his judgment, that a judaizing christian, who thinketh it best to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses, be suffered in his opinion and practice, and admitted to the communion and privileges of the church, and loved as one that may be saved in that way, so be it he do not make it his business to persuade others to his way, and teach it as necessary to salvation or communion; for such he doth condemn.

King James by the pen of Is. Casaubon telleth Cardinal du Perron, that "His Majesty thinketh, that for concord there is no nearer way, than diligently to separate things necessary from the unnecessary, and to bestow all our labour that we may agree in the things necessary, and that in things unnecessary there may be place given for christian liberty. The king calleth these things simply necessary, which either the word of God expressly commandeth to be believed or done, or which the ancient church did gather from the word of God by necessary consequence.——"

Grotius Annot. in Matt. xiii. 41, is so full and large upon it, that I must entreat the reader to peruse his own words; where by arguments and authority he vehemently rebuketh the spirit of fury, cruelty, and uncharitableness, which under pretence of government, discipline, and zeal, denieth that liberty and forbearance, even to heretics and offenders, (much more when to the faithful ministers of Christ,) which human frailty hath made necessary, and Christ hath commanded his servants to grant. Concluding, Ubi solitudinem fecerant, pacem appellabant (as Tertul.). Et his omnibus obtendi solet studium divini nominis; sed plerumque obtendi tantum. Nam Deus dedignatur coacta servitia; nec placere illi potest quod vi humana exprimitur. Reipsa solent qui id faciunt non nomini divino, sed suis honoribus, suis commodis et tranquillitati consulere; quod scit ille qui mentes introspicit. Atque ita fit, ut lolium evellatur cum tritico, innocentes cum nocentibus: immo ut triticum sæpe sumatur pro lolio: non enim tam bene agitur cum rebus humanis, ut semper meliora pluribus aut validioribus placeant: sed ut in grege taurus, ita inter homines, qui viribus est editior, imbecilliorem cædit: et iidem sæpe quæ pati se quærebantur, mox in alios audent.—Lege cætera.

Again, I entreat those that would escape the sin of schism, to read seriously the foresaid Treatises of peacemakers; especially Bishop Hall's "Peacemaker;" Bishop Usher's "Sermon on Ephes. iv. 3;" and Mr. Jeremy Burroughs' "Irenicum:" to which I may add Mr. Stillingfleet's "Irenicum," for the hot contenders about church government; though I believe all the substance of church order to be of divine institution: and Jac. Acontii "Stratag. Satanæ."

And it must be carefully noted, that one way by which Satan tempteth men into church divisions, is by an over-vehement zeal against dividers; and so he would draw the rulers of the world, under pretence of a zeal for unity and peace, to raise persecutions against all that are guilty of any excess of scrupulosity about church communion, or of any principles or practices which a little swerve from true catholicism: and so by the cruelty of their penalties, silencing ministers, and vexing the people, they much increase the divisions which they would heal: for when Satan cannot do his work barefaced and directly, he useth to be the forwardest in seeming to do good, and to take part with Christ, and truth, and godliness; and then his way is to over-do: he will be over-orthodox, and over-godly, and over-peaceable, that he hug the church and truth to death, by his too hard embracements. As in families and neighbourhoods, some cross words must be passed over if we would have peace; and he that for every provoking, unpeaceable word of another, will raise a storm, shall be himself the most unpeaceable: so is it in the church; he that cannot bear with the weaknesses of the younger sort of christians, who are too much inclined by their zeal against sin, to dividing ways, but will presently let fly at them as schismatics, and make them odious, and excommunicate or punish them according to his wrath, shall increase the zeal and the number of dividers, and prove himself the greatest divider.

And by this violence and destroying zeal of orthodox rulers, against the real faults and infirmities of some separating, well meaning men, a far greater number of heterodox rulers are encouraged to persecute the most learned, sober, and peaceable ministers, and the most godly and faithful of their subjects, who dare not conform to all their unrighteous edicts, and ecclesiastical laws, in things forbidden by the law of Christ: and all this is done upon pretence of promoting unity and peace, and suppressing heresy and schism. And so persecution becometh the devil's engine to keep out the gospel and godliness from the infidel world, and to keep them under in the christian world.

Sed tamen sive illud (Origenis de Redemptione futura diabolorum) error est, ut ego sentio; sive hæresis ut putatur, non solum reprimi non potuit multis animadversionibus sacerdotum, sed nequaquam tam late se potuisset effundere, nisi contentione crevisset: inquit Posthumianus in Sulp. Severi Dialog. i.

Sed non fuit animus ibi consistere, ubi recens fraternæ cladis fervebat invidia. Nam etsi fortasse videantur parere episcopis debuisse, non ob hanc tamen causam multitudinem tantam sub Christi confessione viventem, præsertim ab episcopis oportuisset affligi. Id. ibid. speaking of the bishops provoking the secular power to afflict the monks of Alexandria for defending Origen.

When the emperor Constantius would by violence force the orthodox to hold communion with the Arians, he did but make the breach the wider. Read Lucifer Calaritanus de non conveniendo cum hæreticis (in Biblioth. Patr. tom. ix. p. 1045, &c.). The emperor saith, that the orthodox were enemies to peace, and unity, and brotherly love, and that he was resolved to have unity and peace in his dominions: {615} therefore he imprisoned the orthodox and banished them. Propterea odis nos, quia concilium vestrum malignantium execremur; propterea in exilio sumus; propterea in carcere necamur; propterea nobis solis prohibetur conspectus; idcirco reclusi in tenebras custodimur ingenti custodia: hujus rei causa nullus ad nos visendos admittitur hominum; quia videlicet noluerimus vobiscum impiis sacrilegis ullam scelerum vestrorum habere societatem. Ibid. p. 1050. Which stirred up this bishop in particular to go too far from free communion even with the penitent Arians, and heap up more scriptures against that communion which the emperor commanded, than any had done before. Nobis dicebas, Pacem volo fieri; et in corde tuo manens adversarius religionis nostræ, cogitabat per te facere nos idololatras, &c. p. 1051. Consilia vestra contra suam prolata ecclesiam reprobat Deus: nec enim potest odire populum suum, hæreditatem suam, et amare vos filios pestilentiæ, vos persecutores servorum suorum: dixisti, Facite pacem cum episcopis sectæ meæ Arrianis, et estote in unum; et dicit Dei Spiritus, vias impiorum noli exequi, neque æmuleris viam iniquorum. &c.——Dulce quibusdam videtur, quo tibi regi in amicitias jungantur suscipiendo hæresin tuam: sed amarius felle sensuri cum tecum in perpetuum cœperint in perpetua gehenna sentire, qui tecum esse deligerunt, tunc dicturi, Væ nobis, qui Constantium Imperatorem Deo præposuerimus. Abundance more he writeth to prove that the emperor being a heretic, they must have no communion with him or his bishops. And when the emperor complained hereupon, that they wronged and dishonoured him whom they should honour, the said Lucifer wrote his next book, de non parcendo in Deum delinquentibus; which beginneth, Superatum te, Imperator, a Dei servis ex omni cum conspexisses parte, dixisti passum te ac pati a nobis contra monita sacrarum Scripturarum contumeliam: dicis nos insolentes extitisse, circa te quem honorari decuerit. Si quisquam Dei cultorum pepercit apostatis, sint vera quæ dicis de nobis; and so he heapeth up as many texts for rough dealing with offending kings; I give this one instance to show the fruits of violence, as pretended for peace and unity.

Of the persecutions of the faithful in most ages, even by professed christians themselves, and God's disowning that spirit of cruelty by his special providences, all church history maketh mention: and how the names of such persecuting hypocrites have stunk in the nostrils of all sober men when their tragedy was fully acted and understood. Especially the poor churches called Waldenses, Picards, and Albigenses, have felt the grievousest effects of this tyranny, and yet have the testimony of the best and wisest men, to have been the purest and the nearest to the apostolic simplicity in all the world; and the memory of their enemies and persecutors is an abhorrence to the sons of charity and peace. Read Lasitius and Commenius of their discipline, and Bishop Usher de Eccles. succes. et statu. I will recite one notable passage mentioned by Thuanus and Commenius, the one Hist. lib. xxxvi. the other de bono Unit. et Ord. Discipl. p. 59. Maximilian, that good and moderate emperor, being one day in the coach with Joh. Crato only, (his chief physician and a learned protestant), lamenting the divisions of christians, asked Crato, which sort he thought came nearest to the apostolic simplicity: he answered, He thought that honour belonged to the brethren called Picards. The emperor said, He thought so too: which Crato acquainting them with, encouraged them to dedicate to him a book of part of their devotions; for the year before God had thus marvellously saved him from having a hand in their blood. Joachimus a Nova Domo, chancellor of Bohemia, went to Vienna, and gave the emperor no rest, till he had procured him to subscribe a mandate for the reviving of a former persecuting mandate against them: having got his commission, and passing just out of the gates of Vienna, as he was upon the bridge over the Danubius, the bridge brake under him, and he and all his retinue fell into that great and terrible water; and all were drowned except six horsemen, and one young nobleman, who, seeing his lord in the waves, catched hold of his gold chain, and held him till some fishermen came in boats, but found him dead, and his box with the commission sunk past recovery. This nobleman who survived, was sensible of God's judgment, and turned to the brethren in religion, and the mandate was no further prosecuted. (Such another story Bishop Usher was wont to tell how Ireland was saved from persecution in Queen Mary's days.)

But it is the most heinous cruelty, when, as in Daniel's case, there are laws of impiety or iniquity, made of purpose to entrap the innocent, by them that confess, We shall find no fault against this Daniel, except it be concerning the law of his God: and then men must be taken in these spiders' webs, and accused as schismatical, or what the contrivers please. And especially when it is real holiness which is hated, and order, unity, concord, peace, or obedience to our pastors, is made the pretence, for the malicious oppression of it. Gildas and Salvian have told church governors of this at large: and many of the persecuted protestants have more largely told the Roman clergy of it.

It is a smart complaint of him that wrote the Epist. de malus Doctoribus, ascribed to Pope Sixtus III. Hujus doctrinæ causa (pro sanctitate scilicet) paucos amicos conquirunt, et plures inimicos, necesse est enim eos qui peccatorum vitia condemnant, tantos habere contrarios, quantos exercere vitia delectat: inde est etiam quod iniquis et impiis factionibus opprimuntur: quod criminibus falsis appetuntur, quod hæresis etiam perfunduntur infamia: quod hic omnis inimicorum suorum sermo ab ipsorum sumit obtrectatione materiam. Sed quid mirum ut flagitiosis hæresis videatur doctrina justitiæ? Quibus tamen hæresis? Ipsorum secretum patet tantum inimicis, cum si fides dictis inesset, amici illud potius scire potuissent, &c.

The cause is, saith Prosper de vit. Contempl. lib. i. cap. 20. et ex eo Hilitgarius Camarac. lib. v. cap. 19. Sed nos præsentibus delectati, dum in hac vita commoda nostra et honores inquirimus, non ut meliores sed ut ditiores, non ut sanctiores, sed ut honoratiores simus, cæteris festinamus. Nec gregem Domini qui nobis pascendus, tuendusque commissus est, sed nostras voluntates, dominationem, divitias, et cætera blandimenta carnaliter cogitamus. Pastores dici volumus, nec tamen esse contendimus. Officii non vitamus laborem, appetimus dignitatem; immundorum spirituum feras a grege dilacerando non pellimus; et quod eis remanserat, ipsi consumimus: quando peccantes divites vel potentes non solum non arguimus, sed etiam veneramur; ne nobis aut munera solita offensi non dirigant, aut obsequia desiderata subducant: ac sic muneribus eorum et obsequiis capti, immo per hæc illis addicti, loqui eis de peccato suo aut de futuro judicio formidamus; ad hoc tantum potentes effecti, ut nobis in subjectos dominationem tyrannicam vindicemus; non ut afflictos contra violentiam potentum qui in eos ferarum more sæviunt, defendamus. Inde est quod tam a potentibus hujus mundi, quam a nobis, quod pejus est, nonnulli graviter fatigati deperiunt, quos se de manu nostra Dominus requisiturum terribiliter comminatur——

Sulp. Severus also toucheth the sore when he saith, Hist. lib. ii. Certatim gloriosa in certamina ruebatur, multoque avidius tum martyria gloriosis mortibus {616} quærebantur, quam nunc episcopatus pravis ambitionibus appetuntur.

But when he saith, ibid. after Constantine's delivery of the church, Neque ulterius persecutionem fore credimus, nisi eam quam sub fine jam sæculi antichristus exercebit, either he was grossly mistaken, or else those are the instruments of antichrist that are not thought so.

It is a most notable instance to our purpose which Severus ends his history with, of the mischievous zeal of orthodox Ithacius and Idacius against Priscillian and his gnostics; and worthy of the study of the prelates of the church: Idacius sine modo et ultra quam oportuit Istantium sociosque ejus lacessens, facem nascenti incendio subdidit: ut exasperaverit malos potius quam compresserit. In sum, they got the magistrate to interpose and banish the gnostics, who quickly learned, by bribing court officers, to turn the emperor against the orthodox for themselves; till the zeal of Idacius and Ithacius grew so hot as to accuse even the best men, yea, St. Martin himself, of favouring the gnostics: and at last got another tyrannical emperor to put Priscillian and many other gnostics to death, though they withdrew from the accusation, as tending to their own confusion. And Severus saith, Certe Ithacium nihil pensi, nihil sancti habuisse definio: fuit enim audax, loquax, impudens, sumptuosus, veneri et gulæ plurimum impertiens. Hic stultitiæ eo usque processerat, ut omnes etiam sanctos viros, quibus aut studium inerat iectionis, aut propositum erat certare jejuniis, tanquam Priscilliani socios et discipulos, in crimen arcesseret. Ausus etiam miser est, Martino episcopo, viro plane apostolis conferendo, palam objectare hæresis infamiam:——quia non desinebat increpare Ithacium, ut ab accusatione desisteret. And when the leaders were put to death, the heresy increased more, and honoured Priscillian as a martyr, and reproached the orthodox as wicked persecutors: and the end was, that the church was filled by it with divisions and manifold mischiefs, and all the most godly made the common scorn. Inter hæc plebs Dei et optimus quisque, probro atque ludibrio habebatur. They are the last words of Severus's History; and changing the names are calculated for another meridian, and for later years.

[136]   Of this subject I have written already, 1. My "Universal Concord." 2. My "Catholic Unity." 3. Of the "True Catholic Church." 4. My "Christian Concord."

[137]   Read over Sir Francis Bacon's third Essay; and Hales of Schism.

[138]   In veste Christi varietas sit; scissura non sit. They be two things, unity and uniformity. Lord Bacon, Essay iii.

[139]   1 Thess. v. 12, 13.

[140]   Gal. iii. 20; iv. 5, 6; Eph. iv. 5; 1 Cor. xii. 12, 13; 1 Pet. i. 16; Eph. iv. 11-13; ii. 20, 21, 19; 1 John iii. 11, 14, 23; Psal. cxxii. 2; 1 Pet. ii. 1, 2; John iii. 6; Heb. x. 25; 1 Cor. x. 16, 17; Rom. xii. 1; Eph. ii. 10, 11.

[141]   1 John ii. 12-14; Heb. v. 11-13; Matt. xvii. 2; xiii. 31; Rom. xiv. 1, 2, 21; xv. 1; 1 Cor. viii. 7, 10, 12; ix. 22; Acts xx. 35; Luke i. 6; Phil. ii. 15; Gal. ii. 9, 11, 13, 14; 1 Thess. v. 4; 1 Cor. iii. 1, 4, 5; Eph. iv. 11, 12,13; Rom. xiv.; xv.; Col. ii. 18, 22; Phil. ii. 20, 21; 1 Cor. xii. 22, 24; 1 Sam. ii. 30; Matt. xxiii. 11; Luke xxii. 26; Matt. xx. 23; Luke xx. 30; Matt. xix. 30; xx. 16.

[142]   The true placing the bonds of unity importeth exceedingly. Which will be done if the points fundamental, and of substance in religion, were truly discerned and distinguished from points not merely of faith, but of opinion, order, or good intention. This is a thing that may seem to many a matter trivial, and done already; but if it were done less partially it would be embraced more generally. L. Bacon, Essay iii.

[143]   James iii. 13-17.

[144]   1 Pet. ii. 5, 7, 9. Leg. Grotium de Imp. p. 230, 231.

[145]   Leg. Grotium de Imp. p. 223, 226.

[146]   But not denying her to be a church, unless she cast off some essential part; but so disowning her as in 2 Thess. iii.

[147]   Where any church retaining the purity of doctrine doth require the owning of and conforming to any unlawful or suspected practice, men may lawfully deny conformity to and communion with that church in such things, without incurring the guilt of schism. Mr. Stillingfleet. Iren. p. 117.

[148]   1 Sam. xv. 22; Prov. xv. 8.

[149]   2 John x. 11; 2 Tim. iii. 5; Rom. xvi. 17; 1 Cor. v. 11.

[150]   Matt. xiii. 41, 30; Jer. xv. 19; 1 Cor. xii. 23, 24.

[151]   See Rom. xiv. throughout; Rom. xv. 12, 5-7; Eph. iv. 4-7; 1 Pet. iii. 6; 1 Cor. xii. throughout; Phil. iii. 15, 16; Acts ii. 1, 46; iv. 32; Rom. xii. 4, 5; Psal. cxxxiii; 1 Cor. viii; 1 Tim. i. 4; James iii.

[152]   Peace containeth infinite blessings: it strengtheneth faith: it kindleth charity. The outward peace of the church distilleth into peace of conscience: and it turneth the writing and reading of controversies into treatises of mortification and devotion. Against procuring unity by sanguinary persecutions, see Lord Bacon, Essay iii. Surely there is no better way to stop the rising of new sects and schisms, than to reform abuses, to compound the smaller differences, to proceed mildly, and not with sanguinary persecutions, and rather to take off the principal authors by winning and advancing them, than to enrage them by violence and bitterness. Lord Bacon in his Essay lviii. Ira hominis non implet justitiam Dei. And it was a notable observation of a wise father, that those which held and persuaded pressure of consciences, were commonly interested therein themselves for their own ends. Id. Essay iii. p. 19.

[153]   Concil. Tolet. 4. c. 16. 28. q. 1. Ca. Judæi qui—allow separation from a Jewish husband, if after admonition he will not be a christian: and so doth Acosta and his Concil. Limens. l. 6. c. 21, and other Jesuits, and allow the marrying of another: and sure the conjugal bond is faster than that of a pastor and his flock: may not a man then change his pastor when his soul is in apparent hazard?

[154]   Eph. iv. 16; 1 Tim. i. 4; Rom. xv. 19; Acts ix. 31.

[155]   Rom. xiv. 17; 1 Tim. i. 4.

[156]   Rom. viii. 16; ix. 26; 1 John v. 2.

[157]   Quicquid ad multitudinem vergit, antipathiam continet; et quanto magis multitudo augetur, tanto et antipathia: quicquid vero ad unitatem tendit, sympathiam habet; et quanti magis ad unitatem accedit, tanto pariori sympathia augetur. Paul Scaliger, Epist. Cath. lib. iii. p. 176.

[158]   Eph. xiv. 13-16.

[159]   Phil. i. 9; 1 Thess. iv. 9; Col. ii. 2; 1 Thess. iii. 12; Phil. ii. 12; Lev. xviii. 9; 1 Pet. i. 22; 1 Thess. v. 3; Rom. xii. 9, 10; 2 Tim. i. 7; Heb. x. 24; 1 Cor. xii. 31; Gal. v. 6, 13.

[160]   1 John iv. 7, 8; John xiii. 35; James iii. 15; 1 John iv. 16; Gal. v. 19-22; 2 Cor. xiii. 11; 1 Tim. vi. 11; Gal. v. 14; 1 Cor. xiii; Eph. iv. 2, 15, 16; Col. i. 4.

[161]   See Mr. Stillingfleet, Iren. p. 119, 120. Bilson for christian subjection, p. 525.

[162]   Dr. H. More saith, Myst. Redempt. p. 495. l. 10. c. 2. There is scarce any church in christendom at this day that doth not obtrude, not only falsehood, but such falsehoods that will appear to any free spirit pure contradictions and impossibilities; and that with the same gravity, authority, and importunity, that they do the holy oracles of God. Now the consequents of this must needs be sad; For what knowing and conscientious man, but will be driven off, if he cannot assert the truth, without open asserting of a gross lie? Id. p. 526. And as for opinions, though some may be better than other some, yet none should exclude from the fullest enjoyments of either private or public rights; supposing there be no venom of the persecutive spirit mingled with them; but every one that professeth the faith of Christ, and believeth the Scriptures in the historical sense, &c. See Hales of Schism, p. 8.

[163]   In ecclesiis plus certaminum gignunt verba hominum quam Dei; magisque pugnatur fere de Apolline, Petro, et Paulo, quam de Christo: retine divina: relinque humana. Bucholcer.

[164]   Poetæ nunquam perturbarunt respublicas: oratores non raro. Bucholtz.

[165]   Acosta, l. vi. c. 23. p. 579. Nothing so much hurteth this church as a rabble of hirelings and self-seekers: for what can natural men, that scarce have the Spirit, do in the cause of God? A few in number that are excellent in virtue, will more promote the work of God.—But they that come hither being humble, and lovers of souls, taking Christ for their pattern, and bearing in their bodies his cross and death, shall most certainly find heavenly treasures, and inestimable delights. But when will this be? When men cease to be men, and to savour the things of men; and to seek and gape after the things of men. With men this is utterly impossible; but with God all things are possible: Because this is hard in the eyes of this people, shall it therefore be hard in my eyes, saith the Lord? Zech. viii. 6. pag. 580. I may say to some ministers that cry out of the schismatical disobedience of the people, as Acosta doth to those that cried out of the Indians' dulness and wickedness. It is long of the teachers. Deal with them in all possible love and tenderness, away with covetousness, lordliness, and cruelty; give them the example of an upright life, open to them the way of truth, and teach them according to their capacity, and diligently hold on in this way, whoever thou art that art a minister of the gospel, and (saith he) as ever I hope to enjoy thee, O Lord Jesu Christ, I am persuaded the harvest will he plentiful and joyful. Lib. iv. p. 433, et passim. But (saith he) we quickly cease our labours, and must presently have hasty and plenteous fruit. But the kingdom of God is not such: verily, it is not such, but, as Christ hath told us, like seed cast into the earth, which groweth up by degrees we know not how, p. 433, 434. Jerom's case is many another's: Concivit odia perditorum: oderunt eum hæretici, quia eos impugnare non desinit: oderunt clerici, quia vitam eorum insectatur et crimina. Sed plane eum boni omnes admirantur et diligunt. Posthumianus in Sulp. Severi Dialog. 1. And Dial. 2. Martinus in medio cœtu et conversatione populorum, inter clericos dissidentes, inter episcopos sævientes, cum fere quotidianis scandalis hinc atque inde premeretur, inexpugnabili tamen adversus omnia virtute fundatus stetit.—Nec tamen huic crimini miscebo populares, soli illum clerici, soli nesciunt sacerdotes, nec immerito: nosse illum invidi noluerunt: quia si virtutes illius nossent, suorum vitia cognovissent.

[166]   How the Jesuits have hereby distracted the church, read Mariana, et Archiepisc. Pragensis Censur. de Bull. Jesuit. et Dan. Hospital. ad Reges, &c. Aug. Ardinghelli Paradoxa Jesuitica. Galindus, Giraldus, &c. Arcana Jesuit.

[167]   That God above that knoweth the heart, doth discern that frail men in some of their contradictions intend the same thing, and accepteth both. L. Verul. Essay iii. p. 15.

[168]   Saith Cleanthes (in Laert.) The Peripateticks are like letters that sound well, but hear not themselves.

[169]   Yet I excuse not impiety or insufficiency in ministers. It was one of Solon's laws, Qui nequitia ac flagitiis insignis est, tribunali, publicisque suggestis arcendus est. And Gildas saith to the ungodly pastors of Britain, Apparet ergo eum qui vos sacerdotes sciens ex corde dicit, non esse eximium christianum.—Quomodo vos aliquid solvetis, ut sit solutum in cœlis, a cœlo ob scelera adempti? et immanium peccatorum funibus compediti? Qua ratione aliquid in terra ligabitis, quod supra mundum etiam ligetur, propter vosmet ipsos qui ita ligati iniquitatibus in hoc mundo tenemini, ut in cœlos nunquam ascendatis, sed in infausta tartari ergastula, non conversi in hac vita ad dominum, decidatis, Fol. ult. O inimici Dei, et non sacerdotes! O licitatores malorum, et non pontifices! Traditores, et non sanctorum apostolorum successores; impugnatores, et non Christi ministri.—p. 571. Impres. Basil.

[170]   Pii hominis est facere quod potest, etiamsi non faciat hoc quod est eligibilius. Bucholtz.

[171]   Prince Frederick of Monpelgard being instructed into a distaste of the reformed protestants, when he had been at Geneva and Helvetia, was wont to say, Genevæ et in Helvetia vidi multa de quibus nihil, pauca eorum de quibus sæpe audivi: ut Tossanus ad Pezelium referente Sculteto in Curric. p. 26.

[172]   Since the writing of this, I have published a book called "The cure of Church Divisions," and a "Defence of it:" which handle these things more fully.

[173]   Beda Hist. Eccles. lib. i. c. 26. Didicerat enim (Rex Edilburth) et a doctoribus, auctoribusque suæ salutis, servitium, Christi voluntarium, non coactitium debere esse.



I have purposely given such particular directions in part ii. on this subject, and written so many books about it,[174] and said so much also in the Cases of Conscience, that I shall here only cast in a few common directions, lest the reader think I make a balk.

Direct. I. Let your preparations in secret and in your family on the beginning of the Lord's days, be such as conduce to fit you for the public worship.[175] Run not to church as ungodly people do, with a carnal heart, that never sought God before you went, nor considered what you go about; as if all your religion were to make up the number of the auditors; and you thought God must not be worshipped and obeyed at home, but only in the church. God may in mercy meet with an unprepared heart, and open his eyes and heart, and save him; but he hath made no promise of it to any such. He that goeth to worship that God at church, whom he forgetteth and despiseth in his heart and house, may expect to be despised by him. O consider what it is for a sinner that must shortly die, to go with the servants of God to worship him; to pray for his salvation, and to hear what God hath to say to him by his minister, for the life of his immortal soul!

Direct. II. Enter not into the holy assembly either superstitiously or unreverently. Not as if the bending of the knee, and mumbling over a few words with a careless, ignorant mind, and spending an hour there as carelessly, would save your souls: nor yet as if the relation which the worship, the worshippers, and the dedicated place have unto God, deserved not a special honour and regard. Though God be ever with us, every where; yet every time, and place, and person, and business is not equally related to God. And holiness is no unfit attribution, for that company or that place, which is related to God, though but by the lawful separation and dedication of man. To be uncovered in those countries where uncovering signifieth reverence, is very well becoming a reverent soul; except when the danger of cold forbids it. It is an unhappy effect of our contentions, that many that seem most reverent and holy, in their high regard of holy things, do yet carry themselves with more unreverent deportment, than those that themselves account profane. God is the God of soul and body, and must be worshipped by both; and while they are united, the actions of one are helpful to the other, as well as due and decent.

Direct. III. If you can, come at the beginning, that you may show your attendance upon God, and your esteem of all his worship. Especially in our assemblies, where so great a part of the duty, (as confession, praises, reading the Scriptures,) are all at the beginning. And it is meet that you thereby show that you prefer public worship before private, and that needless businesses keep you not away.

Direct. IV. If you are free, and can do it lawfully, choose the most able, holy teacher that you can have, and be not indifferent whom you hear. For oh how great is the difference; and how bad are our hearts; and how great our necessity of the clearest doctrine, and the liveliest helps! Nor be you indifferent what manner of people you join with, nor what manner of worship is there performed; but in all choose the best when you are free. But where you are not free, or can have no better, refuse not to make use of weaker teachers, or to communicate with faulty congregations in a defective, faulty manner of worship, sobeit you are not compelled to sin. And think not that all the faults of the prayers, or communicants, are imputed to all that join with them in that worship. For then we should join with none in all the world.

Direct. V. When the minister is weak, be the more watchful against prejudice and sluggishness of heart, lest you lose all. Mark that word of God which he readeth to you, and reverence, and love, and lay up that. It was the law, read and meditated on, which David saith the godly do delight in.[176] The sacred Scriptures are not so obscure and useless as the papists do pretend, but convert the soul, and are able to make us wise unto salvation. Christ went ordinarily to the synagogues, where even bad men did read Moses and the prophets every sabbath day. There are thousands that cannot read themselves, who must come to the assembly to hear that word read, which they cannot read or hear at home. {617} Every sentence of Scripture hath a divine excellency, and therefore had we nothing but the reading of it, and that by a bad man, a holy soul may profit by it.

Direct. VI. Mind not so much the case of others present as yourselves; and think not so much how bad such and such a one is, and unworthy to be there, as how bad you are yourselves, and unworthy of communion with the people of the Lord, and what a mercy it is that you have admittance, and are not cast out from those holy opportunities.

Direct. VII. Take heed of a peevish, quarrelsome humour, that disposeth you to carp at all that is said and done, and to find fault with every mode and circumstance, and to affect a causeless singularity, as thinking that your own ways, and words, and orders, are far more excellent than other men's: think ill of nothing out of a quarrelsome disposition, but only as evidence constraineth you to dissent. And then remember that we are all imperfect, and faulty men must needs perform a faulty worship, if any, for it cannot be better than the agent.

Direct. VIII. When you meet with a word in a sermon or prayer, which you do not like, let it not stop you, and hinder your fervent and peaceable proceeding in the rest; as if you must not join in that which is good, if there be any faulty mixture in it. But go on in that which you approve, and thank God that pardoneth the infirmities of others as well as your own.

Direct. IX. Conform yourselves to all the lawful gestures and customs of the church with which you join. You come not hither proudly to show the congregation, that you are wiser in the circumstances of worship than they, nor needlessly to differ from them, much less to harden men into a scorn of strictness, by seeing you place religion in singularities in lawful and indifferent things. But you come to exercise love, peace, and concord, and with one mind and mouth to glorify God. Stand when the church standeth; sit when the church sitteth; kneel when the church kneeleth, in cases where God doth not forbid it.

Direct. X. Take heed of a customary, formal, senseless heart, that tolerateth itself from day to day, to do holy things in a common manner, and with a common, dull, and careless mind: for that is to profane them. Call in your thoughts when they attempt to wander; stir up your hearts when you feel them dull. Remember what you are about, and with whom it is that you have to do, and that you tread on the dust of them who had such opportunities before you which are now all gone, and so will yours. You hear and pray for more than your lives; therefore do it not as in jest or as asleep.

Direct. XI. Do all in faith and hope. Believe what you may get of God in prayer, and by an obedient hearing of his word. Would you not go cheerfully to the king, if he had promised you to grant whatever you ask? Hath not God promised you more than kings can give you? Oh it is an unbelieving and a despairing heart, that turneth all into dead formality! Did you but hope that God would do all that for you which he hath told you he will do, and that you might get more by prayer than by your trades, or projects, or all your friends, you would go to God with more earnestness and more delight.

Direct. XII. Apply all the word of God to yourselves according to its usefulness. Ask as you go, How doth this concern me? this reproof, this mark, this counsel, this comfort, this exhortation, this direction? Remember as much as you can, but especially the most practical, useful parts. Get it home so deep upon your hearts, that it may not easily slide away. Root it by close application as you go, that affection may constrain you to remember it.

Direct. XIII. Above all, resolve to obey what God shall make known to be his will; take heed lest any wilful sin should escape the power of the word; and should ordinarily go away with you as it came. Careless hearing and careless living tend most dangerously to a hardened heart and a forsaken state. If you regard iniquity in your heart, God will not hear your prayers. The sacrifice of the wicked is abominable to him. The foolish shall not stand in his sight, he hateth all the workers of iniquity.[177] He that turneth away his ear from hearing (that is, obeying) the law, even his prayer is abominable. To the wicked saith God, What hast thou to do to take my covenant into thy mouth, seeing thou hatest instruction, and hast cast my words behind thee? Obedience is better than sacrifice. He that nameth the name of Christ must depart from iniquity, or else God will not find his mark upon him, nor take him to be one of his. Christ's sheep know his voice and follow him, and to them he will give eternal life. But if you had preached or done miracles in his name, he will say to you, "Depart from me, I know you not," if ye be workers of iniquity. Look therefore to your foot (to your heart and life) when you go to the house of God, and be more ready to hear (his law that must govern you, that you may know his will and do it) than to offer the sacrifice of fools, (that is, disobedient sinners,) that think by sacrifices and outside worship to get pardon for an unholy life, and to reconcile God to them in their sins, not knowing that thus they add sin to sin.[178] If you seek God daily, and delight to know his ways, as a nation that did righteousness and forsook not the ordinance of their God; if you ask of him the ordinances of justice, (sound doctrine, regular worship, strict discipline,) and take delight in approaching to God; if you humble your souls with frequent fasts; and yet live in a course of wilful disobedience, you labour in vain, and aggravate your sins, and preachers had need to lift up their voices and be louder trumpets to tell you of your sins, than to other men.[179] But if ye will wash you, and make you clean, and put away the evil of your doings, cease to do evil, learn to do well, seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, &c.; you may then come with boldness and confidence unto God. Otherwise to what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices? your oblations will be vain, and your incense abominable. If ye be willing and obedient, you shall be blessed; but if ye refuse and rebel you shall be destroyed, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.[180] If you do well shall you not be accepted? but if ye do evil, sin lieth at the door. Let your profession be never so great, and your parts and expressions never so seraphical, sin is a reproach to any people; and if you would hide yourselves from justice in the purest church, among the holiest people, and the most numerous and longest prayers, be sure that your sin will find you out.[181] Your secret lust, your covetous over-reaching, your secret gluttony or tippling, much more your crimson sins, will surely find you out.[182]

{618} Alas! what then will those miscreants do, whose sins are scarlet, bloody persecutions, under pretence of promoting unity, and obedience, and the catholic church, while the cloak or cover of it is but the thin, transparent spider-web of human traditions, and numerous ceremonies, and childish complimenting with God; and when they have nothing but the prayers of a long liturgy, to cover the effects of their earthly, sensual, and diabolical zeal and wisdom, (as St. James calls it, chap. iii. 15, 16,) and to concoct the widows' houses which they devour, and to put a reverence upon the office and work, which they labour all the week to render reproachful, by a sensual, luxurious, idle life, and by perfidious making merchandise of souls.[183]

As ever you care what becometh of your souls, take heed lest sin grow bold under prayers, and grow familiar and contemptuous of sermons and holy speeches, and lest you keep a custom of religious exercises and wilful sins. For oh, how doth this harden now, and wound hereafter! He is the best hearer, that is the holiest liver, and faithfullest obeyer.

Direct. XIV. Be not a bare hearer of the prayers of the pastor, whether it be by liturgy or without. For that is but hypocrisy, and a sin of omission; you come not thither only to hear prayers, but to pray; and kneeling is not praying; but it is a profession that you pray. And will you be prayerless even in the house of prayer, and when you profess and seem to pray, and so add hypocrisy to impiety? I fear many that seem religious, and would have those kept from the sacrament that pray not in their families, do very ordinarily tolerate themselves in this gross omission, and mocking of God, and are prayerless themselves even when they seem to pray.

Direct. XV. Stir up your hearts in an especial manner to the greatest alacrity and joy, in speaking and singing the praises of God. The Lord's day is a day of joy and thanksgiving, and the praises of God are the highest and holiest employment upon earth. And if ever you should do any thing with all your might, and with a joyful and triumphing frame of soul, it is this. Be glad that you may join with the sacred assemblies, in heart and voice, in so heavenly a work. And do not as some humoursome, peevish persons (that know not the danger of that proud disease) fall to quarrelling with David's Psalms, as unsuitable to some of the hearers, or to nauseate every failing in the metre, so as to turn so holy a duty into neglect or scorn; (for alas! such there are near me where I dwell;) nor let prejudice against melody, or church music (if you dwell where it is used) possess you with a splenetic disgust of that which should be your most joyful work. And if you know how much the incorporate soul must make use of the body in harmony, and in the joyful praises of Jehovah, do not then quarrel with lawful helps, because they are sensible and corporeal.

Direct. XVI. Be very considerate and serious in sacramental renewings of your covenant with God.[184] O think what great things you come thither to receive! And think what a holy work you have to do! And think what a life it is that you must promise! So solemn a covenanting with God, and of so great importance, requireth a most holy, reverent, and serious frame of soul. But yet let not the unwarrantable differencing this ordinance from God's praises and the rest, seduce you into the common errors of the times: I mean, 1. Of those that hence are brought to think that the sacrament should never be received without a preparatory day of humiliation, above the preparation for an ordinary Lord's day's work. 2. And therefore receive it seldom; whereas the primitive churches never spent a Lord's day together without it. 3. Those that turn it into a perplexing, terrifying thing, for fear of being unprepared, when it should be their greatest comfort, and when they are not so perplexed about their unpreparedness to any other duty. 4. Those that make so great a difference betwixt this and church prayers, praises, and other church worship, as that they take this sacrament only for the proper work and privilege of church members; and thereupon turn it into an occasion of our great contentions and divisions, while they fly from sacramental communion with others, more than from communion in the other church worship. Oh what hath our subtle enemy done against the love, peace, and unity of christians, especially in England, under pretence of sacramental purity!

Direct. XVII. Perform all your worship to God, as in heart-communion with all Christ's churches upon earth; even those that are faulty, though not with their faults. Though you can be present but with one, yet consent as present in spirit with all, and separate not in heart from any one, any further than they separate from Christ.

Direct. XVIII. Accordingly let the interest of the church of Christ be very much upon your heart, and pray as hard for it as for yourself.

Direct. XIX. Yea, remember in all, what relation you have to the heavenly society and choir, and think how they worship God in heaven, that you may strive to imitate them in your degree. Of which more anon.

Direct. XX. Let your whole course of life after, savour of a church frame; live as the servants of that God whom you worship, and as ever before him. Live in the love of those christians with whom you have communion, and do not quarrel with them at home; nor despise, nor persecute them with whom you join in the worshipping of God. And do not needlessly open the weaknesses of the minister to prejudice others against him and the worship. And be not religious at the church alone, for then you are not truly religious at all.

[174]   See my "Treatise of the Lord's Day," and my "Cure of Church Divisions."

[175]   Eccl. v. 1-4; 1 Pet. ii. 1, 2; Prov. i. 20, to the end.

[176]   Psal. i. 2, 3; xii. 6, 7; xix. 7-9.

[177]   Acts x. 33; 1 Sam. iii. 9, 10; Prov. viii. 34; Ezek. xxxiii. 4; Psal. lxvi. 18; v. 5.

[178]   Dan. iv. 27; Prov. x. 29; xxviii. 9; Psal. l. 16-18; cxxv. 5; 1 Sam. xv. 22; 2 Tim. ii. 19; Matt. vii. 23; Luke xiii. 27; John x. 3, 4, 27; Eccles. v. 1-4.

[179]   Isa. lviii. 1-3.

[180]   Isa. i. 10-20.

[181]   Gen. iv. 7; Prov. xiv. 34; Numb. xxxii. 23.

[182]   James i. 22; Rom. ii. 13.

[183]   Ezek. vii. 19; Jer. vii. 23; xi. 4, 7; xxvi. 13; Matt. xxiii. 14; Mark xii. 40; Exod. vi. 30; Deut. vii. 12; xi. 13; xiii. 18; xv. 5; xxvi. 17; xxviii. 1; Psal. lxxi. 8-12.

[184]   See Mr. Rawlet's Book of Sacramental Covenanting.



The oversight and neglect of our duty concerning the souls of the blessed, now with Christ, doth much harden the papists in their erroneous excesses here about.[185] And if we will ever reduce them, or rightly confute them, it must be by a judicious asserting of the truth, and observing so much with them as is our duty, and commending that in them which is to be commended, and not by running away from truth and duty that we may get far enough from them and error: for error is an ill way of confuting error. The practical truth lieth in these following precepts.

Direct. I. Remember that the departed souls in heaven are part, and the noblest part, of the body of Christ and family of God, of which you are inferior members; and therefore that you owe them greater {619} love and honour, than you owe to any saints on earth. "The whole family in heaven and earth is named of Christ," Ephes. iii. 15. Those are the happiest and noblest parts, that are most pure and perfect, and dwell in the highest and most glorious habitations, nearest unto Christ, yea, with him. If holiness be lovely, the most holy are the most lovely; we have many obligations therefore, to love them more than the saints on earth: they are more excellent and amiable, and Christ loveth them more. And if any be honourable, it must especially be those spirits that are of greatest excellencies and perfections, and advanced to the greatest glory and nearness to their Lord. Make conscience therefore of this as your duty, not only to love and honour blessed souls, but to love and honour them more than those that are yet on earth. And as every duty is attended with benefit, so we shall find this exceeding benefit in the performance of this duty, that it will incline our hearts to be the more heavenly, and draw up our desires to the society which we so much love and honour.

Direct. II. Remember that it is a part of the life of faith, to see by it the heavenly society of the blessed, and a part of your heavenly conversation, to have frequent, serious, and delightful thoughts of those crowned souls that are with Christ.[186] Otherwise God would never have given us such descriptions of the heavenly Jerusalem, and told us so much of the hosts of God that must inhabit it for ever; that must come from the "east and from the west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God." When it is said that our conversation (πολίτευμα) is in heaven, Phil. iii. 20, the meaning extendeth both to our relation, privileges, and converse: we are denizens or citizens of the heavenly society; and our title to their happiness is our highest privilege and honour; and therefore our daily business is there, and our sweetest and most serious converse is with Christ and all those blessed spirits. Whatever we are doing here, our eye and heart should still be there: for we look not at the temporal things which are seen, but at the eternal things which are not seen, 2 Cor. iv. 18. A wise christian that hath forsaken the kingdom of darkness, will be desirous to know what the kingdom of Christ is into which he is translated, and who are his fellow-subjects, and what are their several ranks and dignities, so far as tendeth to his congruous converse with them all. And how should it affect us to find that "we are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant!" Heb. xii. 22-24. Live then as the members of this society, and exclude not the chief members from your thoughts and converse: though our local, visible communion be only with these rural, inferior inhabitants, and not with the courtiers of the King of heaven, yet our mental communion may be much with them. If our home and treasure be there with them, our hearts will be there also, Matt. vi. 21.

Direct. III. It is the will of God that the memory of the saints be honoured on earth when they are dead. It is some part of his favour which he hath promised to them. Prov. x. 7, "The memory of the just is blessed; but the name of the wicked shall rot." Matt. xxvi. 13, "Verily I say unto you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her." The history of the Scripture recordeth the lives of the saints to their perpetual honour. And God will have it so also for the sake of his abused servants upon earth, that they may see that the slanders of malicious tongues shall not be able to obscure the glory of his grace, and that the lies of the ungodly prevail but for a moment. And God will have it so for the sake of the ungodly, that they may be ashamed of their malicious enmity and lies against the godly, while they perceive that the departed saints do leave behind them a surviving testimony of their sanctity and innocency, sufficient to confound the venomous calumnies of the serpent's seed. Yea, God will have the names of his eminent servants to be honoured upon earth, for the honour of their Head, and of his grace and gospel; so that while malice would cast dishonour upon Christ; from the meanness and failings of his servants that are alive, the memory of the dead (who were once as much despised and slandered) shall rise up against them to his honour and their shame. And it is very observable how God constraineth the bitter enemies of holiness to bear this testimony for the honour of holiness against themselves! that many who are the cruelest persecutors and murderers of the living saints, do honour the dead even to excess.[187] How zealous are the papists for the multitude of their holidays, and the honouring of their names and relics, and pretending many miracles to be wrought by a very touch of their shrines or bones, whilst they revile and murder those that imitate them, and deprive temporal lords of their dominions that will not exterminate them. Yea, while they burn the living saints, they make it part of their crime or heresy, that they honour not the days and relics of the dead, so much as they; to show us that the things that have been shall be, and that wickedness is the same in all generations. Matt. xxiii. 29-33, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" I know that neither did the Pharisees, nor do the papists, believe that those whom they murdered were saints, but deceivers and heretics, and the troublers of the world; but if charity be the grace most necessary to salvation, then sure it will not keep any man from damnation, that he had malice and uncharitableness sufficient to persuade him, that the members of Christ were children of the devil. But thus God will force even the persecutors and haters of his saints to honour them. And if he constrain his enemies to it, his servants should not be backward to do it according to his will.

Direct. IV. Only such honour must be given to departed saints, as subserveth the honour of God; and nothing must be ascribed to them that is his prerogative. All that of God which was communicated to them and appeared in them, must be acknowledged; but so that God must still be acknowledged the spring of all; and no honour given ultimately to them; but it is God in them that we must behold and love, admire and honour.

Direct. V. The honour of the saints departed must {620} be only such as tendeth to the promoting of holiness among the living. It is a most horrid aggravation of those men's sins, who make their honouring of the saints departed a cover for their hating and persecuting their followers; or that make it an engine for the carrying on some base design. Some make it a device for the advancing of their parties and peculiar opinions. The papists make it a very great means for the maintaining the usurped power of the pope, giving him the power of canonizing saints, and assuring the world what souls are in heaven. A pope that by the testimony of a general council (as Joh. 23. Eugenius, &c.) is a heretic, and a wicked wretch, and never like to come to heaven himself, can assure the world of a very large catalogue of persons that are there. And he that by the papists is confessed fallible in matters of fact, pretendeth to know so certainly who were saints, as to appoint them holidays, and command the church to pray to them. And he that teacheth men that they cannot be certain themselves of their salvation, pretendeth when they are dead that he is certain that they are saved. To pretend the veneration of saints for such carnal, ambitious designs, and cheats, and cruelties, is a sin unfit for any that mentioneth a saint. So is it when men pretend that saints are some rare, extraordinary persons among the living members of the church;[188] to make men believe that honouring them will serve instead of imitating them; and that all are not saints that go to heaven. God forbid, say they, that none but holy persons should be saved; we confess it is good to be saints, and they are the chief in heaven; but we hope those that are no saints may be saved for all that. But God saith, "that without holiness none shall see him," Heb. xii. 14. Heaven is the inheritance of none but saints, Acts xxvi. 18; Col. i. 12. He that extolleth saints to make men believe that those that are no saints may be saved, doth serve the devil by honouring the saints. The same I may say of those that give them divine honour, ascribing to each a power to hear and help all throughout the world that put up prayers to them.

Direct. VI. Look up to the blessedness of departed souls, as members of the same body, rejoicing with them, and praising God that hath so exalted them. This is the benefit of holy love and christian unity, that it maketh our brethren's happiness to be unto us, in a manner, as if it were our own. 1 Cor. xii. 25, 26, "That there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care one for another—that if one member be honoured all the members rejoice with it." So far as selfishness is overcome, and turned into the uniting love of saints, so far are all the joys of the blessed souls in heaven become the joys of all that truly love them upon earth. How happy then is the state of all true believers, that have so many to rejoice with! Deny not God that thanks for the saving of so many souls, which you would not deny him, if he saved but your friends, estates, or lives. Especially when afflictions or temptations would deprive you of the joy which you should have in God's mercies to yourselves, then comfort yourselves with the remembrance of your brethren's joy. What an incongruous, indecent thing is it for that man to pine away in sorrows upon earth, who hath so many thousand friends in heaven, in joy and blessedness, whose joys should all be to him as his own.

Direct. VII. When you feel a cooling of your love to God, or of your zeal, or reverence, or other graces, think then of the temper of those holy souls, that see his glory! O think, with what fervour do they love their God! with what transporting sweetness do they delight in him! with what reverence do they all behold him! And am not I his servant, and a member of his family, as well as they? Shall I be like the strangers of this frozen world, when I should be like my fellow-citizens above? As it will dispose a man to weep to see the tears and grief of others; and as it will dispose a man to mirth and joy to see the mirth and joy of others; so is it a potent help to raise the soul to the love of God, and delight in his service, to think believingly of the love and delight of such a world of blessed spirits.

Direct. VIII. When you draw near to God in his holy worship, remember that you are part of the same society with those blessed spirits that are praising him in perfection. Remember that you are members of the same choir, and your part must go to make up the melody; and therefore you should be as little discordant from them as possibly you can. The quality of those that we join with in God's service, is apt either to dull or quicken us, to depress or elevate us; and we move heavenward most easily and swiftly in that company which is going thither on the swiftest pace. A believing thought that we are worshipping God in concert with the heavenly choir, and of the high and holy raptures of those spirits, in the continual praise of their great Creator, is an excellent means to warm and quicken us, and raise us as near their holy frame, as here on earth may be expected.

Direct. IX. When you would possess your hearts with a lively sense of the odiousness of sin, and would resist all temptations which would draw you to it, think then how the blessed souls with God do judge of sin, and how they would entertain such a temptation, if the motion were made to them! What think they of covetousness, pride, or lust? What think they of malice, cruelty, or lying? How would they entertain it, if lands and lordships, pleasure or preferment, were offered them to entice their hearts from God? Would they venture upon damnation for a whore, or for their games, or to please their appetites? Do they set as light by God and their salvation as the ungodly world doth? O with what scorn and holy indignation would they refuse a world, if it were offered them instead of God! with what detestation would they reject the motion to any sin!

Direct. X. When you would revive in your minds a right apprehension and estimation of all earthly things, as riches, and honours, and greatness, and command, and full provisions for the flesh, bethink you then how the blessed souls with Christ esteem them. How little do they set by all those things that worldlings make so great a stir for, and for which they sell their God and their salvation! How contemptible are crowns and kingdoms in their eyes! Their judgment is more like to God's than ours is. Luke xvi. 15, "That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." All the world would not hire a saint in heaven to tell one lie, or take the name of God in vain, or to forget God, or be estranged from him for one hour.

Direct. XI. When you see the godly under the contempt of sinners here, accounted as the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things,[189] defamed, reviled, hated, and persecuted, look up then to the saints with Christ, and think how they are esteemed and used. And when you would truly know what a believer is, think not how they are esteemed and used by men, but how they are esteemed and used by Christ. Judge not of them by their short afflictions, {621} nor by their meanness in the flesh, but by their endless happiness and their glory above. Look up to the home and world of saints, if you would know what saints are, and not to the few, scattered, imperfect passengers in this world, that are not worthy of them, Heb. xi. 38.

Direct. XII. When you are tempted to think meanly of the kingdom of Christ, as if his flock were so small, and poor, and sinful as to be inconsiderable, look up to the world of blessed souls which dwell above. And there you shall see no such paucity, or imperfections, or blemishes, as here below. The subjects there are such as dishonour not their King. Christ's kingdom is not of this world, John xviii. 36. If you would know it in its glory, look up to the world where it is glorious. If when you hear men contemn the kingdom of the saints of Christ, and at the same time did but see (as Stephen did) a glimpse into that kingdom, and all the glory of the blessed there, what thoughts would you have of the words which did dishonour it?

Direct. XIII. When you hear sinners boast of the wisdom or numbers of their party, and appealing to the learned or great ones of the world, look up to the blessed souls with Christ, and ask whether they are not more wise and numerous than all the sinners upon earth. The greatest doctors are ignorant and unlearned in comparison of the meanest soul with Christ: the greatest monarchs are but worms in comparison of the glorified spirits with God. If they say to you, Are you wiser than so many and so wise and learned men? ask them, Are you, or all the ungodly, wiser than all the blessed souls with Christ? Let the wiser party carry it.

Direct. XIV. When you are tempted to be weary of a holy life, or to think all your labour is vain, look up to the blessed souls with Christ, and there you will see the end of holiness. There you will see that of all the labour of your lives, there is none that you are so sure to gain by; and that in "due time you shall reap, if you faint not: and if you sow to the Spirit, of the Spirit you shall reap everlasting life," Gal. vi. 8, 9; and that when you have "done the will of God," if you "have but patience, you shall inherit the promise," Heb. x. 36. Ask yourselves, whether any of those blessed souls repent now of the holiness of their lives on earth? or their mortifying the flesh, and denying themselves the delights of sin?

Direct. XV. When you are tempted to turn back in the day of trial, and to forsake Christ or his cause when persecution ariseth, then look to the blessed souls above, and see what is the end of suffering for the sake of Christ and righteousness. To foresee the great reward in heaven, will convince you that instead of being terrified by sufferings, you should "rejoice and be exceeding glad," Matt. v. 11, 12. Are you to lie in prison, or to burn in the flames? so did many thousands that are now in heaven. And do you think that they repent it now? Ignatius, Polycarp, Cyprian, and many such holy men, were once used as hardly as you are now, and put to death by cruel men. Rogers, Bradford, Hooper, Glover, and multitudes with them, were once in prison and burnt in the flames; but where are they now, and what is the end of all their pains? Now whether do you think the case of Bonner or Bradford to be best? Now had you rather be Gardiner or Philpot? Now which think you doth most repent, the poor Waldenses that were murdered by thousands, or the popes and persecutors that murdered them?

Direct. XVI. When you are dismayed under the burden of your sins, the greatness of your corruptions, the weakness of your graces, the imperfection of your duties, look up to the blessed souls with Christ, and remember that all those glorified spirits were once in flesh as you now are, and once they lay at the feet of God, in tears, and groans, and cries, as you do: they were once fain to cry out of the burden of their sins, and mourn under the weakness of their graces, as you now do. They were once as much clogged with flesh as you are; and once as low in doubts and fears, and bruised under the sense of God's displeasure. They once were as violently assaulted with temptations, and had the same corruptions to lament and strive against as you have. They were once as much afflicted by God and man; but is there any of the smart of this remaining?

Direct. XVII. When you are deterred from the presence of the dreadful God, and think he will not accept such worms as you, look up to the blessed souls with Christ; and remember how many millions of your brethren are there accepted to greater familiarity than that which you here desire. Remember that those souls were once as dark and distant from God, and unworthy of his acceptance, as you now are. A fearful child receiveth boldness, to see his brethren in his father's arms.

Direct. XVIII. When you are afraid of Satan lest he should prevail against you and devour you, look up to the blessed souls with Christ; and see how many millions are there safely landed, that once were in as dangerous a station as you are. Through many tribulations and temptations they are arrived at the heavenly rest: Satan once did his worst against them: they were tossed on the seas of this tempestuous world; but they were kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation, and so may you.

Direct. XIX. When you would duly value all your present means and mercies, and see whither they tend, look up then to the souls with Christ, and see whither the like mercy hath conducted them. The poorest cottage and the hardest fare are great mercies, as they tend to endless blessedness. This now and heaven after, is great, though the thing in itself be never so small. Heaven puts the value and signification upon all your mercies. The wicked make ciphers of their greatest blessings, by separating them in their esteem and use, from God and heaven, which is the measure of their estimate.

Direct. XX. When you see divisions among believers, and hear one for this party, and another for that, and hear them bitterly censuring each other, look up then to the saints with Christ, and think what perfect love, and peace, and concord is among them. Consider how unlike our factions and schisms are to their fervent love and unity; and how unlike our jarring strifes and quarrels are to their harmonious praise of God. Remember in what work it is that they are so happily united, even love and praise incessant to Jehovah: and then think, whether it would not unite the saints on earth, to lay by their contendings for the pre-eminence in knowledge, (covered with the gilded name of zeal for the truth of God,) and to employ themselves in love and praise, and to show their emulation here, in striving who shall love God and each other with the more pure heart and fervent love, 1 Pet. i. 22, and who shall praise him with the most heavenly alacrity and delight. Consider whether this work of blessed souls be not like to be more desirable and excellent, than the work of self-conceited, wrangling sophisters. And whether there be any danger of falling into sects and factions, or falling out by emulations or contentions, while we make this work of love and praise the matter of our religious converse. And consider whether almost all the schisms that ever vexed the church of {622} God, did not arise, either by the pastors striving "who should be the greatest," Luke xxii. 24, 26, or by the rising up of some sciolist or gnostic, proudly pretending to know more than others, and to vindicate or bring to light some excellent truth which others know not, or oppose. And when you see the hot contendings of each party, about their pretended orthodoxness or wisdom, (which James iii. is purposely written against,) remember how the concord of those blessed souls doth shame this work, and should make it odious to the heirs of heaven.

Direct. XXI. When you are afraid of death, or would find more willingness to die, look up to the blessed souls with Christ, and think that you are but to pass that way, which all those souls have gone before you; and to go from a world of enmity and vanity, to the company of all those blessed spirits. And is not their blessed state more desirable than such a vain, vexatious life as this? There is no malice, nor slandering, nor cruel persecuting; no uncharitable censures, contentions, or divisions; no ignorance, nor unbelief, nor strangeness unto God; nothing but holy, amiable, and delightful. Join yourselves daily to that celestial society: suppose yourselves spectators of their order, purity, and glory, and auditors of their harmonious praises of Jehovah. Live by faith in a daily familiarity with them: say not that you want company or are alone, when you may walk in the streets of the heavenly Jerusalem, and there converse with the prophets and apostles, and all the glorious hosts of heaven. Converse thus with them in your life, and it will overcome the fear of death, and make you long to be there with them: like one that stands by the river side, and seeth his friends on the further side, in a place of pleasure, while his enemies are pursuing him at his back, how gladly would he be over with them! And it will imbolden him to venture on the passage, which all they have safely passed before him. Thus death will be to us as the Red sea, to pass us safe to the land of promise, while our pursuers are there overthrown and perish. We should not be so strange to the world above, if we thus by faith conversed with the blessed ones.

Direct. XXII. When you are over-much troubled for the death of your godly friends, look up to that world of blessed souls, to which they are translated, and think whether it be not better for them to be there than here; and whether you are not bound by the law of love, to rejoice with them that are thus exalted. Had we but a sight of the world that they are in, and the company that they are gone to, we should be less displeased with the will of God, in disposing of his own into so glorious a state.

All these improvements may be made by a believer, of his daily converse with the souls above. This is the communion with them which we must hold on earth: not by praying to them, which God hath never encouraged us to do; nor by praying for them (for though it be lawful to pray for the resurrection of their bodies, and the perfecting of their blessedness thereby, yet it being a thing of absolute certainty as the day of judgment is, we must be very cautelous in the manner of our doing this lawful act; it being a thing that their happiness doth not at all depend on, and a thing which will-worshippers have showed themselves so forward to abuse, by stepping further into that which is unlawful; as the horrid abuses of the names, and days, and shrines, and relics, of real or supposed saints, in the papal kingdom, sadly testifieth). But the necessary part of our communion with the saints in heaven, being of so great importance to the church on earth, I commend it to the due consideration of the faithful, whether our forgetfulness of it is not to be much repented of, and whether it be not a work to be more seriously minded for the time to come.

And I must confess I know not why it should be thought unlawful to celebrate the memorial of the life or martyrdom of any extraordinary servant of God, by an anniversary solemnity, on a set appropriate day: it is but to keep the thankful remembrance of God's mercy to the church; and sure the life and death of such is not the smallest of the church's mercies here on earth. If it be lawful on November the fifth to celebrate the memorial of our deliverance from the powder-plot, I know not why it should be thought unlawful to do the like in this case also: provided, 1. That it be not terminated in the honour of a saint, but of the God of saints, for giving so great a mercy to his church. 2. That it be not to honour a saint merely as a saint, but to some extraordinary eminent saints: otherwise all that go to heaven must have festivals kept in remembrance of them; and so we might have a million for a day. 3. That it be not made equal with the Lord's day, but kept in such a subordination to that day, as the life or death of saints is of inferior and subordinate respect to the work of Christ in man's redemption. 4. And if it be kept in a spiritual manner, to invite men to imitate the holiness of the saints, and the constancy of the martyrs, and not to encourage sensuality and sloth.

[185]   I have said more of this since, in my "Life of Faith."

[186]   Heb. xi. 1.

[187]   Concil. Later. sub Innoc. III. Can. 3.

[188]   Rom. i. 7; 1 Cor. i. 2; xiv. 33; Eph. i. 8; ii. 19; iv. 12; v. 3; Rom. xv. 25, 26.

[189]   1 Cor. iv. 12, 13: Lam. iii. 45.



Direct. I. Be satisfied in knowing so much of angels as God in nature and Scripture hath revealed; but presume not to inquire further, much less to determine of unrevealed things. That there are angels, and that they are holy spirits, is past dispute; but what number they are, and of how many worlds, and of what orders and different dignities and degrees, and when they were created, and what locality belongeth to them, and how far they excel or differ from the souls of men, these and many other such unnecessary questions, neither nature nor Scripture will teach us how infallibly to resolve. Almost all the heretics in the first ages of the church, did make their doctrines of angels the first and chief part of their heresies; arrogantly intruding into unrevealed things, and boasting of their acquaintance with the orders and inhabitants of the higher world. These being risen in the apostles' days, occasioned Paul to say, Col. ii. 18, "Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility, and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind."

Direct. II. Understand so much of the ministry of angels as God hath revealed, and so far take notice of your communion with them; but affect not any other sort of communion.[190]

I shall here show how much of the ministry of angels is revealed to us in Scripture.

1. It is part of the appointed work of angels, to be {623} ministering spirits for the heirs of salvation, Heb. i. 14.[191] Not ministers or servants of the godly, but ministers of God for the godly: as the shepherd is not a servant of the sheep, but for the sheep. It is not an accidental or occasional work which they do extraordinarily; but it is their undertaken office to which they are sent forth. And this their ministry is about the ordinary concernments of our lives, and not only about some great or unusual cases or exigents, Psal. xxxiv. 6, 7; xci. 11, 12.

2. It is not some, but all the angels that are appointed by God to this ministration. "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth," &c. Heb. i. 1, 4. Mark here, that if you inquire whether God have any higher spirits, that are not employed in so low an office, but govern these angels, or if you inquire whether only this world be the angels' charge, or whether they have many other worlds also (of viators) to take care of; neither nature nor Scripture doth give you the determination of any of these questions; and therefore you must leave them as unrevealed things (with abundance more with which the old heretics, and the popish schoolmen, have diverted men's minds from plain and necessary things). But that all the angels minister for us, are the express words of Scripture.

3. The work of this office is not left promiscuously among them, but several angels have their several works and charge; therefore Scripture telleth us of some sent on one message, and some on another;[192] and tells us that the meanest of Christ's members on earth have their angels before God in heaven: "I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven," Matt. xviii. 10. Whether each true believer hath one or more angels? and whether one angel look to more than one believer? are questions which God hath not resolved us of, either in nature or Scripture; but that each true christian hath his angel, is here asserted by our Lord.

4. In this office of ministration they are servants of Christ as the Head of the church, and the Mediator between God and man, to promote the ends of his superior office in man's redemption.[193] Matt. xxviii. 18, "All power is given to me in heaven and earth;" John xiii. 3. Eph. i. 20-22, "And set him at his right hand in the celestials, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church." Rev. xxiii. 16, "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches."[194] Whether the angels were appointed about the service of Adam in innocency; or only began their office with Christ the Mediator as his ministers, is a thing that God hath not revealed; but that they serve under Christ for his church is plain.

5. This care of the angels for us is exercised throughout our lives, for the saving of us from all our dangers, and delivering us out of all our troubles.[195] Psal. xxxiv. 6, 7, "This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles: the angel of the Lord encampeth about them that fear him, and delivereth them." Psal. xci. 11, 12, "For he shall give his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways: they shall bear thee up in their hand, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." In all our ways, (that are good,) and in every step we tread, we have the care and ministry of tutelar angels. They are our ordinary defence and guard.

6. In all this ministry they perfectly obey the will of God,[196] and do nothing but by his command, Psal. ciii. 10; Zech. i. 8, 10; Matt. xviii. 10, being his messengers to man.

7. Much of their work is to oppose the malice of evil spirits that seek our heart, and to defend us from them;[197] against whom they are engaged under Christ in daily war or conflict, Rev. xii. 7, 9; Psal. lxi. 17; lxxviii. 49; Matt. iv. 11.

8. In this their ministration they are ordered into different degrees of superiority and inferiority,[198] and are not equal among themselves, 1 Thess. iv. 16; Jude 9; Dan. x. 13, 20, 21; Eph. i. 21; Col. ii. 10; Eph. iii. 10; vi. 12; Col. i. 16; Zech. iv. 10; Rev. iv. 5; v. 6.

9. Angels are employed not only about our bodies, but our souls, by furthering the means of our salvation: they preached the gospel themselves, (as they delivered the law,[199]) Luke ii. 9, 10; i. 11, &c.; Heb. ii. 2; Gal. iii. 19; Acts x. 4; Dan. vii. 16; viii. 15-17; ix. 21, 22; Luke i. 29; ii. 19. Especially they deliver particular messages, which suppose the sufficiency of the laws of Christ, and only help to the obedience of it.

10. They are sometimes God's instruments to confirm, and warn, and comfort, and excite the soul, and to work upon the mind, and will, and affections:[200] that they do this persuasively, and have as much access and power to do us good, as Satan hath to do us evil, is very clear. Good angels have as much power and access to the soul, to move to duty, as devils have to tempt to sin. As God hath sent them oft upon monitory and consolatory messages to his servants in visible shapes, so doth he send them on the like messages invisibly, Judg. v. 23; Matt. i. 20; Psal. civ. 4; Luke xxii. 43, an angel from heaven is sent to strengthen Christ himself in his agony.

11. They persecute and chase the enemies of the church, and sometimes destroy them: as Psal. xxxv. 5, 6; 2 Kings xix. 35; Isa. xxxvii. 36; and hinder them from doing hurt, Numb. xxii. 24.

12. They are a convoy for the departing souls of the godly, to bring them to the place of their felicity, Luke xvi. 22, though how they do it we cannot understand.

13. They are the attendants of Christ at his coming to judgment, and his ministers to gather his elect, and sever the wicked from the just, in order to their endless punishment or joy. 1 Thess. iv. 16, "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up," &c. Matt. xiii. 41, 42, 49, "The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all offences or scandals, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire. At the end of the world, the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire," &c.[201]

Direct. III. Understand our near affinity or relation to the angels, and how they and we are concerned in each others' condition and affairs. As to our {624} nature our immortal souls are kin or like unto the angels, though our bodies are but like the brutes. Those souls that are created after the image of God, in their very natural essence, (as rational and free agents,) besides his moral image of sanctity, Gen. ix. 6, may well be said to be like the angels: "He made us a little lower than the angels," Psal. viii. 5. And God hath made us their charge and care; and therefore no doubt hath given them a special love unto us, to fit them to the due performance of their trust. As ministers have a special paternal love to their flocks, and as christians are to have a special love to one another to enable and engage them to the duties appointed them by God towards each other; so these excellent spirits have no doubt a far purer and greater love, to the image of God upon the saints, and to the saints for the image and sake of God, than the dearest friends and holiest persons on earth can have. For they are more holy, and they are more perfectly conformed to the mind of God, and they love God himself more perfectly than we, and therefore for his sake do love his people much more perfectly than we. And therefore they are more to be loved by us than any mortals are; both because they are more excellent, pure, and amiable, and because they have more love to us. Moreover the angels are servants of the same God, and members of the same society which we belong to. They are the inhabitants of the heavenly Jerusalem, of which we are heirs: they have possession, and we have title, and shall in time possess it. We are called to much of the same employment with them; we must love the same God, and glorify him by obedience, thanks, and praise, and so do they. Therefore they are ministers for our good, and rejoice in the success of their labours, as the ministers of Christ on earth do, Heb. i. 14. There is not a sinner converted, but it is the angels' joy, Luke xv. 10, which showeth us how much they attend that work. "We are come to mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels," &c. Heb. xii. 22-24. They are especially present and attendant on us in our holy assemblies and services of God; and therefore we are admonished to reverence their presence, and do nothing before them that is sinful or unseemly, 1 Cor. xi. 10; Eccles. v. 6. The presence of God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, must continually awe us into exact obedience, 1 Tim. v. 21. With the church they pry into the mystery of the dispensations of the Spirit to the church, 1 Pet. i. 12. And so "by the church," that is, by God's dealings with the church, is "made known the manifold wisdom of God," even to these "heavenly principalities and powers," Eph. iii. 10. In conclusion, Christ telleth us that in our state of blessedness we shall "be equal to the angels," Luke xx. 36, and so shall live with them for ever.

Direct. IV. When your thoughts of heaven are staggering or strange, and when you are tempted to doubt whether indeed there is such a life of glory for the saints, it may be a great help to your faith, to think of the world of angels that already do possess it. That there are such excellent and happy inhabitants of the superior orbs, besides what Scripture saith, even reason will strongly persuade any rational man: 1. When we consider that sea, and land, and air, and all places of this lower, baser part of the world, are replenished with inhabitants suitable to their natures; and therefore that the incomparably more great and excellent orbs and regions should all be uninhabited, is irrational to imagine. 2. And as we see the rational creatures are made to govern the brutes in this inferior world, so reason telleth us it is improbable that the higher reason of the inhabitants of the higher regions should have no hand in the government of man. And yet God hath further condescended to satisfy us herein, by some unquestionable apparitions of good angels, and many more of evil spirits, which puts the matter past all doubt, that there are inhabitants of the unseen world. And when we know that such there are, it maketh it the more easy to us to believe that such we may be, either numbered with the happy or unhappy spirits, considering the affinity which there is between the nature of our souls and them: to conquer senseless Sadducism is a good step to the conquest of irreligiousness; he that is well persuaded that there are angels and spirits, is much better prepared than a Sadducee to believe the immortality of the soul: and because the infinite distance between God and man, is apt to make the thoughts of our approaching his glory either dubious or very terrible, the remembrance of those myriads of blessed spirits that dwell now in the presence of that glory, doth much imbolden and confirm our thoughts; as he that would be afraid whether he should have access to and acceptance with the king, would be much encouraged if he saw a multitude as mean as himself, or not much unlike him, to be familiar attendants on him. I must confess such is my own weakness, that I find a frequent need of remembering the holy hosts of saints and angels, that are with God, to imbolden my soul, and make the thoughts of heaven more familiar and sweet, by abating my strangeness, amazedness, and fears; and thus far to make them the media (that I say not the mediators) of my thoughts, in their approaches to the most high and holy God (though the remembrance of Christ the true Mediator is my chief encouragement). Especially when we consider how fervently those holy spirits do love every holy person upon earth, and so that all those that dwell with God, are dearer friends to us, than our fathers or mothers here on earth are, (as is briefly proved before,) this will imbolden us yet much more.

Direct. V. Make use of the thoughts of the angelical hosts, when you would see the glory and majesty of Christ. If you think it a small matter that he is the Head of the church on earth, a handful of people contemned by the satanical party of the world, yet think what it is to be "Head over all things, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come," (that is, gave him a power, dignity, and name, greater than any power, dignity, or name of men or angels,) "and hath put all things under his feet," Eph. i. 21-23. "Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they;" of him it is said, "Let all the angels of God worship him," Heb. i. 4, 6. Read the whole chapter. Our Head is the Lord of all these hosts.

Direct. VI. Make use of the remembrance of the glorious angels, to acquaint you with the dignity of human nature, and the special dignity of the servants of God, and so to raise up your hearts in thankfulness to your Creator and Redeemer who hath thus advanced you.[202] 1. What a dignity is it that these holy angels should be all ministering spirits sent for our good! that they should love us, and concern themselves so much for us, as to rejoice in heaven at our conversion! "Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man {625} that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour," Psal. viii. 4, 5. 2. But yet it is a higher declaration of our dignity, that we should in heaven be equal with them, and so be numbered into their society, and join with them everlastingly in the praise of our Creator. 3. And it is yet a greater honour to us, that our natures are assumed into union of person with the Son of God, and so advanced above the angels. "For he took not on him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham:" nor hath he put the world to come in subjection to the angels, Heb. ii. 5, 16. This is the Lord's doing, and it is wondrous in our eyes.

Direct. VII. When you would admire the works of God and his government, look specially to the angels' part. If God would be glorified in his works, then especially in the most glorious parts: if he take delight to work by instruments, and to communicate such excellency and honour to them as may conduce to the honour of the principal cause, we must not overlook their excellency and honour, unless we will deny God the honour which is due to him. As he that will see the excellent workmanship of a watch or any other engine, must not overlook the chiefest parts, nor their operation on the rest; so he that will see the excellent order of the works and government of God, must not overlook the angels, nor their offices in the government, and preservation of the inferior creatures, so far as God hath revealed it unto us. We spoil the music if we leave out these strings. It is a great part of the glory of the works of God, that all the parts in heaven and earth are so admirably conjoined and jointed as they are; and each in their places contribute to the beauty and harmony of the whole.

Direct. VIII. When you would be apprehensive of the excellency of love and humility, and exact obedience to the will of God, look up to the angels, and see the lustre of all these virtues as they shine in them. How perfectly do they love God and all his saints! even the weakest and meanest of the members of Christ! With what humility do they condescend to minister for the heirs of salvation! how readily and perfectly do they obey their Maker![203] Though our chiefest pattern is Christ himself, who came nearer to us, and appeared in flesh, to give us the example of all such duties, yet under him the example of angels is also to be observed, and with pleasure to be imitated. And ask the enemies of holiness, who urge you with the examples of the great and learned, whether they are wiser than all the angels of God?

Direct. IX. When you are tempted to desire any inordinate communion with angels, as visibly appearing or affecting your senses, or to give them any part of the office or honour of Jesus Christ, then think how suitable that office is to your safety and benefit which God hath assigned them, and how much they themselves abhor aspiring to, or usurpation of, the office or honour of their Lord: and consider how much more suitable to your benefit this spiritual ministration of the angels is, than if they appeared to us in bodily shapes.[204] In this spiritual communion they act according to their spiritual nature, without deceit; and they serve us without any terrible appearances; and without any danger of drawing us to sensitive, gross apprehensions of them, or enticing us to an unmeet adhesion to them, or honouring of them: whereas if they appeared to us in visible shapes, we might easily be affrighted, confounded, and left in doubt, whether they were good angels indeed or not. It is our communion with God himself that is our happiness; and communion with angels or saints, is desirable but in order unto this: that kind of communion with angels therefore is the best, which most advanceth us to communion with God; and that reception of his mercy by instruments is best, which least endangereth our inordinate adhesion to the instruments, and our neglect of God. We know not so well as God, what way is best and safest for us: as it is dangerous desiring to mend his word by any fancies of our own, which we suppose more fit; so it is dangerous to desire to amend his government, and providence, and order, and to think that another way than that which in nature he hath stated and appointed, is more to our benefit. It is dangerous wishing God to go out of his way, and to deal with us, and conduct us in by-ways of our own; in which we are ourselves unskilled, and of which we little know the issue.

Direct. X. When you are apt to be terrified with the fear of devils, think then of the guard of angels, and how much greater strength is for you than against you. Though God be our only fundamental security, and our chiefest confidence must be in him, yet experience telleth us how apt we are to look to instruments, and to be affected as second causes do appear to make for us or against us; therefore when appearing dangers terrify us, appearing or secondary helps should be observed to comfort and encourage us.

Direct. XI. Labour to answer the great and holy love of angels with such great and holy love to them, as may help you against your unwillingness to die, and make you long for the company of them whom you so much love. And when death seemeth terrible to you because the world to come seems strange, remember that you are going to the society of those angels, that rejoiced in your conversion, and ministered for you here on earth, and are ready to convoy your souls to Christ.[205] Though the thoughts of God and our blessed Mediator should be the only final object to attract our love, and make us long to be in heaven, yet under Christ, the love and company of saints and angels must be thought on to further our desires and delight: for even in heaven God will not so be all to us, as to use no creature for our comfort; otherwise the glorified humanity of Christ would be no means of our comfort there; and the heavenly Jerusalem would not then have been set out to us by its created excellencies, as it is Rev. xxi. xxii.; nor would it be any comfort to us in the kingdom of God that we shall be with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Luke xiii. 28; Matt. viii. 11.

Direct. XII. Pray for the protection and help of angels, as part of the benefits procured for the saints by Christ; and be thankful for it as a privilege of believers, excelling all the dignities of the ungodly. And walk with a reverence of their presence, especially in the worshipping of God. It is not fit such a mercy should be undervalued or unthankfully received: nor that so ordinary a means of our preservation {626} should be overlooked, and not be sought of God by prayer. But the way to keep the love of angels, is to keep up the love of God; and the way to please them, is to please him; for his will is theirs.

Direct. XIII. In all the worship you perform to God, remember that you join with the angels of heaven, and bear your part to make up the concert. Do it therefore with that holiness, and reverence, and affection, as remembering not only to whom you speak, but also what companions you have; and let there not be too great a discord either in your hearts or praises. O think with what lively, joyful minds they praise their glorious Creator; and how unwearied they are in their most blessed work! And labour to be like them in love and praise, that you may come to be equal with them in their glory, Luke xx. 36.

[190]   Angelorum vocabulum nomen est officii, non naturæ: nam sancti illi cœlestis patriæ spiritus, semper sunt spiritus, sed semper vocari angeli non possunt. Gregor.

[191]   Dan. iv. 13; Gen. xxxii. 1, 2; Exod. xxxii. 2; Dan. vi. 22; Acts xii. 7, 11; 1 Kings xix. 5, 6.

[192]   Luke i. 13, 18, 19, 26, 28; ii. 10, 13, 21; Acts x. 7, 22; xii. 8, 9; Dan. iii. 28; vi. 22; Gen. xxiv. 40.

[193]   1 Pet. iii. 22; Matt. xxvi. 53.

[194]   Rev. i. 1.

[195]   2 Kings vi. 17.

[196]   Dan. iv. 35.

[197]   1 Kings xxii. 19-22; 1 Thess. ii. 18.

[198]   Luke i. 19, 26.

[199]   Acts vii. 53.

[200]   Acts xxvii. 24; Luke i. 13, 30; ii. 10; Dan. x. 12; 2 Kings vi. 16; Gen. xvi. 9, 10; Numb. xxii. 32.

[201]   2 Thess. i. 7, 8; Mark viii. 38; Matt. xxv. 31.

[202]   Magna dignitas fidelium animarum ut unaquæque habeat ab ortu nativitatis in custodiam sui angelum deputatum: imo plures. Hieron. Luke xx. 36.

[203]   Heb. i. 14; Psal. ciii. 20, 21.

[204]   Timet angelus adorari ab humana natura, quam videt in Deo sublimatam. Gregor.

[205]   Simus devoti, simus grati tantis custodibus: redamemus eos quantum possumus, quantum debemus effectuose, &c. Bernard. Væ nobis si quando provocati sancti angeli peccatis et negligentiis, indignos nos judicaverint præsentia et visitatione sua, &c. Cavenda est nobis eorum offensa, et in his maxime exercendum, quibus eos novimus oblectari: hæc autem placent eis quæ in nobis invenire delectat, ut est sobrietas, castitas, &c. In quovis angulo reverentiam exhibe angelo, ne audeas illo presente, quod me vidente non auderes. Bernard.





I have something to say to thee of the number of these cases, somewhat of the order, and somewhat of the manner of handling and resolving them. I. That they are so many is because there are really so many difficulties which all men are not able to resolve. That they are no more, is partly because I could not remember then any more that were necessarily to be handled, and I was not willing to increase so great a book with things unnecessary.

II. As to the order, I have some reasons for the order of most of them, which would be too tedious to open to you. But some of them are placed out of order, because, 1. I could not remember them in due place. 2. And great haste allowed me not time to transpose them. If you say that in such a work I should take time, I answer, You are no competent judges, unless you knew me and the rest of my work, and the likelihood that my time will be but short. They that had rather take my writings with such defects which are the effects of haste, than have none of them, may use them, and the rest are free to despise them and neglect them. Two or three questions about the Scripture, I would have put nearer the beginning if I could have time; but seeing I cannot, it is easy for you to transpose them in the reading.

III. The resolution of these cases so much avoideth all the extremes, that I look they should be displeasing to all that vast number of christians, who involve themselves in the opinions and interests of their several sects as such, and that hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect of persons. But there will be still a certain number of truly catholic, impartial readers, whose favourable acceptance I confidently prognosticate; and who, being out of the dust, and noise, and passions of contending sides and parties, and their interests, will see a self-evidencing light in those solutions, which are put off here briefly, without the pomp of formal argumentation, or persuading oratory. The Eternal Light revealeth himself to us, by Christ who is the Light of the world, and by the illumination of the Spirit and word of light; that we may walk in the light, as the children of light, till we come to the world of glorious everlasting light. And what other defect soever our knowledge have, if any man hath knowledge enough to kindle in him the love of God, the same is known of him, and therefore is beloved by him, and shall be blessed with and in him for ever, 1 Cor. viii. 1-3.

Quest. I. How to know which is the true church, among all pretenders, that a christian's conscience may be quiet in his relation and communion.

I have written so much of this already in four books, (viz. one called, "The Safe Religion," another called, "A Key for Catholics," another called, "The Visibility of the Church," another called, "A true Catholic, and the Catholic Church described,") that I shall say now but a little, and yet enough to an impartial, considerate reader.

The terms must first be opened. 1. By a church is meant a society of christians as such. And it is sometimes taken narrowly, for the body or members as distinct from the head, as the word kingdom is taken for the subjects only as distinct from the king; and sometimes more fully and properly for the whole political society, as constituted of its head and body, or the pars imperans et pars subdita.

2. The word church thus taken, signifieth sometimes the universal church called catholic, which consisteth of Christ and his body politic, or mystical; and sometimes some part only of the universal church. And so it is taken either for a subordinate, political part, or for a community, or a part considered as consociate, but not political; or as many particular, political churches agreeing and holding concord and communion without any common head, save the universal Head.

{627} 3. Such political churches are either of divine constitution and policy, or only of human.

2. By christians, I mean such as profess the essentials of the christian religion. For we speak of the church as visible.

3. By true, may be meant, either reality of essence, opposite to that which is not really a church in this univocal acception; or else sound and orthodox, in the integrals, as opposite to erroneous and defiled with much enormity. And now I thus decide that question.

Prop. I. The true catholic church consisteth of Christ the Head, and all christians as his body, or the members. As the kingdom consisteth of the king and his subjects.[206]

Prop. II. As all the sincere heart-covenanters make up the church as regenerate, and mystical or invisible; so all that are christened, that is, baptized, and profess consent to all the essentials of the baptismal covenant, not having apostatized, nor being by lawful power excommunicated, are christians, and make up the church as visible.[207]

Prop. III. Therefore there is but one universal church, because it containeth all christians; and so leaveth out none to be the matter of another.[208]

Prop. IV. It is not ignorance or error about the mere integrals of christianity, which maketh them no christians who hold the essentials, that is, the baptismal covenant.[209]

Prop. V. That the baptismal covenant might be rightly understood and professed, the churches have still used the creed as the explication of the covenant, in point of faith; and taken it for the symbol of the christian belief. And no further profession of faith was or is to be required, as necessary to the being of christianity.[210]

Prop. VI. If proud usurpers or censurers take on them to excommunicate, or unchristian, or unchurch others, without authority and cause, this maketh them not to be no christians, or no churches, that are so used.[211]

Prop. VII. Therefore to know which is the true catholic or universal church, is but to know who are baptized, professed christians.[212]

Prop. VIII. The reformed churches, the Lutherans, the Abassines, the Coptics, the Syrians, the Armenians, the Jacobites, the Georgians, the Maronites, the Greeks, the Moscovites, and the Romanists, do all receive baptism in all its visible essentials, and profess all the essentials of the christian religion, though not with the same integrity.[213]

Prop. IX. He that denieth any one essential part, in itself, is so a heretic as to be no christian, nor true member of the church, if it be justly proved or notorious: that is, none ought to take him for a visible christian, who know the proof of his denying that essential part of christianity, or to whom it is notorious.[214]

Prop. X. He that holdeth the essentials primarily, and with them holdeth some error which by unseen consequence subverteth some essential point, but holdeth the essentials so much faster, that he would forsake his error if he saw the inconsistence, is a christian notwithstanding; and if the name heretic be applicable to him, it is but in such a sense, as is consistent with christianity.[215]

Prop. XI. He that is judged a heretic and no christian justly by others, must be lawfully cited, and heard plead his cause, and be judged upon sufficient proof, and not unheard, or upon rash presumption.[216]

Prop. XII. Christianity and heresy being personal qualities, and no where found but in individuals, nor one man guilty of another's error, it followeth that it is single persons upon personal guilt that must be judged.[217]

Prop. XIII. Any man may judge another to be a christian or heretic, by a private judgment of discerning, or the reason which guideth all human actions; but only church rulers may judge him by that public judgment, which giveth or denieth him his public privileges and communion.[218]

Prop. XIV. If by notorious injustice church rulers condemn christians as no christians, though they may thereby deny them communion with those public assemblies which they govern, yet do they not oblige the people to take such injured persons for no christians. Else they might oblige all to believe a lie, to consent to malicious injuries, and might disoblige the people from truth, righteousness, and charity.[219]

Prop. XV. There is no one natural or collective head and governor of all the churches in the world (the universal church) but Jesus Christ; and therefore there is none that by such governing power, can excommunicate any man out of the universal church; and such usurpation would be treason against Christ, whose prerogative it is.[220]

Prop. XVI. Yet he that deserveth to be excommunicated from one church, deserveth to be excommunicated by and from all, if it be upon a cause common to all; or that nullifieth his christianity.[221]

Prop. XVII. And where neighbour churches are consociate and live in order and concord, he that is orderly excommunicate from one church, and it be notified to the rest, should not be taken into the communion of any of the rest, till he be cleared, or become fit for their communion.[222] But this obligation ariseth but from the concord of consociate churches, and not from the power of one over the rest; and it cannot reach all the world, where the person cometh not, nor was ever known; but only to those who through neighbourhood are capable of just notice, and of giving or denying communion to that person.

Prop. XVIII. From all this it is clear, that it is not either papists alone, or Greeks alone, or protestants alone, or any party of christians, who are the universal church, seeing that church containeth all christians.[223] And that reviling others (yea, whole nations) as heretics, schismatics, and no christians or churches, will no more prove the revilers to be the only church or christians, than want of love will prove a man to be one of Christ's disciples, who by love are known to all men to be his.

Prop. XIX. It is therefore the shameful language of distracted men, to cry out against other christian nations, It is not you, but we that are the catholic or universal church. And our shameful controversy, which of them is the catholic, is no wiser than to question, Whether it be this house or that which is the street? Or this street or that which is the city? Or whether it be the kitchen, or the hall, or the parlour which is the house? Or the hand, or foot, or {628} eye which is the man? O when will God bring distracting teachers to repentance, and distracted people to their wits?[224]

Prop. XX. There is great difference in the purity or soundness of the several parts of the universal church; some being more orthodox and holy, and some defiled with so many errors and sins, as to make it difficult to discern whether they do not deny the very essentials.[225]

Prop. XXI. The reformed churches are the soundest and purest that we know in the world, and therefore their privilege exceeding great, though they are not all the universal church.

Prop. XXII. Particular churches consisting of lawful pastors and christian people associated for personal communion in worship and holy living, are societies or true churches of Christ's institution, and the chief parts of the universal church; as cities and corporations are of the kingdom.[226]

Prop. XXIII. There are thousands of these in the world, and a man may be saved in one, as well as in another; only the purest give him the best advantages for his salvation; and therefore should be preferred by all that are wise and love their souls, so far as they are free to choose their communion.

Prop. XXIV. The case then being easily resolved, (which is the true church?) viz. All christians as christians are the catholic or universal church;[227] and all congregations afore described, of true pastors and christians, being particular true churches, differing only in degrees of purity, he is to be suspected as a designing deceiver and troubler of the world, that pretending to be a learned man and a teacher, doth still perplex the consciences of the ignorant with this frivolous question, and would muddy and obscure this clear state of the case, lest the people should rest in the discerned truth.

Prop. XXV. The papal church as such, being no true church of Christ's institution, (of which by itself anon,) it followeth that a papist as a papist is no member of the church of Christ, that is, no christian.[228] But yet, whether the same person may not be a papist and a christian, and so a member of the catholic church, we shall anon inquire.

Prop. XXVI. There are many things which make up the fitness and desirableness of that particular church, which we should prefer or choose for our ordinary personal communion:[229] as, 1. That it be the church of that place where we dwell; if the place be so happy as to have no divided churches, that it be the sole church there; however, that it be so near as to be fit for our communion. 2. That it be a church which holdeth communion with other neighbour churches, and is not singular or divided from them; or at least not from the generality of the churches of Christ; nor differeth in any great matters from those that are most pure. 3. That it be under the reputation of soundness with the other churches aforesaid, and not under the scandal of heresy, schism, or gross corruption among those that live about.[230] 4. That it be under the countenance and encouraging favour of the christian magistrate. 5. That it be the same church of which the rest of the family which we are of be members; that husband and wife, parents and children, masters and servants, be not of several churches. 6. That the pastors be able teachers, prudent guides, and of holy lives, and diligent in their office. 7. That the pastors be regularly called to their office. 8. That the members be intelligent, peaceable, and of holy, temperate, and righteous lives. But when all these cannot be had together, we must choose that church which hath those qualifications which are most needful, and bear with tolerable imperfections. The most needful are the first, second, and sixth of these qualifications.

Prop. XXVII. He that is free, should choose that church which is the fittest for his own edification; that is, the best pastors, people, and administrations.

Prop. XXVIII. A man's freedom is many ways restrained herein. As, 1. When it will tend to a greater public hurt, by disorder, ill example, division, discouragement, &c. 2. When superiors forbid it; as husbands, parents, masters, magistrates. 3. By some scandal. 4. By the distance or inconvenience of our dwelling. 5. By differences of judgment, and other causes of contention in the said churches; and many other ways.[231]

Prop. XXIX. A free man who removeth from one church to another for his edification, is not therefore a separatist or schismatic; but it must not be done by one that is not free, but upon such necessity as freeth him.

Prop. XXX. It is schism or sinful separation to separate from, 1. A true church as no true church. 2. From lawful worship and communion, as lawful; but of this more in its proper place.

[206]   1 Cor. xi. 3; xii. 12; Eph. i. 22, 23; 1 Cor. vi. 15; xii. 27.

[207]   Eph. iv. 4, 5; Matt. xxviii. 19, 20.

[208]   Eph. iv. 4, 5; 1 Cor. xii. 12; Mark xvi. 16.

[209]   Rom. xiv. 1, 6, 7; xv. 1, 3, 4.

[210]   1 Cor. xv. 1, 2, &c.; Matt. xxviii. 19, 20.

[211]   Rom. xiv. 3, 4.

[212]   Rom. vi. 1, 2, &c.

[213]   Eph. iv. 4, 5.

[214]   Tit. iii. 10; 3 John.

[215]   James iii. 2; Phil. iii. 15, 16; Heb. v. 1, 2.

[216]   Tit. iii. 10; Matt. xviii. 15.

[217]   Ezek. xviii. 17; Gen. xviii. 23-25.

[218]   1 Cor. x. 15; Acts i. 19; 1 Cor. v. 3-5; xi. 3.

[219]   Matt. v. 11, 12; John xvi. 2.

[220]   1 Cor. xii. 27-29; Eph. iv. 5-7; 1 Cor. i. 12, 13; iii. 22, 23; Eph. v. 23; iv. 15; Col. i. 18; ii. 19.

[221]   3 John.

[222]   Eph. v. 11; 1 Cor. v. 11.

[223]   1 Cor. xii. 12; John xiii. 35; 1 Cor. xiii. 1, 2, &c.

[224]   1 Cor. xii. 12; vi. 17; x. 17; Eph. iv. 3, &c.

[225]   Gal. iv. 11, 12.

[226]   Rev. iii. 8-12; ii. 10, 11; Acts xiv. 22; Tit. i. 5; Rom. xvi. 4, 16; 1 Cor. vii. 17; xi. 16; xiv. 33, 44; 2 Thess. i. 4; Rev. ii. 23.

[227]   1 Cor. i. 13; Rom. xvi. 17; Acts xx. 30.

[228]   Acts ii. 44; 1 Cor. i. 10; 1 Thess. v. 12, 13.

[229]   Heb. x. 25; 1 Tim. iii. 7; 3 John 12.

[230]   Acts xvi. 32, 34; x. 2, 22; xviii. 8; Col. iv. 15.

[231]   Of these things I have said so much in my "Cure of Church divisions," and in the "Defence" of it, and in the end of my "Reas. of Christ. Relig." Consect. i. and ii. that I pass them over here with the more brevity.

Quest. II. Whether we must esteem the church of Rome a true church? And in what sense some divines affirm it, and some deny it.

Want of some easy distinguishing hath made that seem a controversy here, which is so plain, that it can hardly be any at all to protestants, if the question had been but truly stated.[232]

Remember therefore that by a church is meant, not a mere company of christians, any how related to each other; but a society consisting of an ecclesiastical head and body, such as we call a political society. 2. And that we speak not of an accidental head (such as the king is, because he governeth them suo modo by the sword); for that is not an essential constitutive part; but of a constitutive ecclesiastical head and body. 3. That the question is not, Whether the church of Rome be a part of the church, but whether it be a true church? And now I answer,

1. To affirm the church of Rome to be the catholic or universal church, is more than to affirm it to be a true catholic church, that is, a true part of the catholic church: and is as much as to say that it is the whole and only church, and that there is no other; which is odious falsehood and usurpation, and slander against all other churches.

2. The church of Rome is so called in the question, as it is a policy or church in a general sense; and the meaning of the question is, Whether it be a divine, or a human or diabolical policy; a lawful church.

3. The church of Rome is considered, 1. Formally, as a church or policy. 2. Materially, as the {629} singular persons are qualified. It is the form that denominateth. Therefore the question must be taken of the Roman policy, or of the church of Rome as such; that is, as it is one ruler pretending to be the vicarious, constitutive, governing head of all Christ's visible church on earth, and the body which owneth him in this relation.

4. Therefore I conclude (and so do all protestants) that this policy or church of Rome is no true church of Christ's instituting or approbation, but a human, sinful policy, formed by the temptation of Satan, the prince of pride, deceit, and darkness. The proof of which is the matter of whole loads of protestant writings. And indeed the proof of their policy being incumbent on themselves, they fail in it, and are still fain to fly to pretended, false tradition for proof, in which the sophisters know that either they must be judges themselves, and it must go for truth because they say it; or else that if they can carry the controversy into a thicket or wood of fathers and church history, at least they can confound the ignorant, and evade themselves. Of this see my "Disput. with Johnson," and my "Key for Catholics," &c.

5. The bishop of the English papists, Smith called bishop of Chalcedon, in his Survey, c. v. saith, "To us it sufficeth that the bishop of Rome is St. Peter's successor; and this all the fathers testify, and all the catholic church believeth; but whether it be jure divino or humano, is no point of faith." The like hath Davenport,[233] called Fransc. a Sancta Clara more largely. By this let the reader judge whether we need more words to prove their church to be such as Christ never instituted, when the belief of their divine right is no part of their own faith.

6. If the church of Rome in its formal policy be but of human institution, it is, 1. Unnecessary to salvation. 2. Unlawful; because they that first instituted it had no authority so to do, and were usurpers. For either the makers of it were themselves a church or no church. If no church, they could not lawfully make a church. Infidels or heathens are not to be our church makers. If a church, then there was a church before the church of Rome, and that of another form. And if that former form were of Christ's institution, man might not change it; if not, who made that form? and so on.

7. Our divines therefore that say that the church of Rome is a true church, though corrupt, do not speak of it formally as to the papal policy or headship, but materially. 1. That all papists that are visible christians are visible parts of the universal church. 2. That their particular congregations considered abstractedly from the Roman headship may be true particular churches, though corrupt; which yet being the only difficulty shall be the matter of our next inquiry.

[232]   See Mr. Barton's and Bp. Hall's contest hereabouts.

[233]   System. Fidei.

Quest. III. Whether we must take the Romish clergy for true ministers of Christ? And whether their baptism and ordination be nullities?

I join these two distinct questions together for brevity.

I. As true signifieth regularly called, so they are commonly irregular and not true ministers. But as true signifieth real opposed to a nullity, so it is now to be further considered.

The doubt lieth either of the sufficiency of his call, or of somewhat that is supposed to destroy it by contradiction or redundancy. 1. Whether he want any thing of absolute necessity to the office, who is called in the church of Rome? or, 2. Whether there be any thing in his office or entrance, which nullifieth or invalidateth that which else would be sufficient?

For the first doubt, it is not agreed on among papists or protestants what is of necessity to the being of the office. Some think real godliness in the person is necessary; but most think not. Some think that visible, that is, seeming professed godliness, not disproved by mortal sin, is necessary; and some think not. Some think the people's election is necessary, and that ordination is but ad bene esse; and some think ordination necessary ad esse, and election ad bene esse, or not at all; and some think both necessary ad esse, and some neither. Some think the election of the people is necessary, and some think only their consent is necessary, though after election by others; some think it must be the consent of all the flock, or near all; and some only of the major part; and some of the better part, though the minor. Some think the ordination of a diocesan bishop necessary ad esse, and some not. Some think the truth of the ordainers' calling, or power, to be necessary to the validity of his ordination, and some not. Some think the number of two, or three, or more ordainers to be necessary, and some not. Some think it necessary to the validity of the ministry that it come down from the apostles by an uninterrupted succession of truly ordained bishops, and some think not. Some few think that the magistrates' command or licence is necessary, and only it, and most deny both. Johnson, alias Terret, the papist, in his Disputation against me, maintaineth that consecration is not necessary ad esse, nor any one way of election, by these or those, but only the church's reception upon such an election as may give them notice, and which may be different, according to different times, places, and other circumstances.

In the midst of these confusions, what is to be held? I have opened the case as fully and plainly as I can, in my second "Disput. of Church Government," about ordination, to which I must refer the reader: only here briefly touching upon the sum.

1. There are some personal qualifications necessary to the being of the office, (of which anon,) and some only to the well-being.[234]

2. The efficient conveying cause of power or office, is God's will signified in his own established law; in which he determineth that such persons so called shall receive from him such power, and be obliged to such office administrations.[235]

3. Any providence of God which infallibly or satisfactorily notifieth to the church, who these persons are, that receive such power from God, doth oblige them to submit to them as so empowered.

4. God's ordinary established way of regular designation of the person, is by the church's consent, and the senior pastor's ordination.

5. By these actions they are not the proper donors or efficients of the power, or office given, but the consent of the people and the ordination do determine of the recipient, and so are regularly causa sine qua non of his reception. And the ordination is moreover a solemn investiture in the office, as when a servant is sent by delivering a key to deliver possession of a house, by his master's consent, to him that had before the owner's grant; and so it ceremoniously entereth him into visible possession; like the solemnizing of marriage, or the listing of a soldier, &c.

6. The people's consent (before or after) is not only by institution, but naturally necessary, that a {630} man become a pastor to those persons (for no man can learn, obey, &c. without consent): but it is not of necessity to the being of the ministry in general, or in the first instant: a man without it may be authorized as a minister to go preach the gospel for conversion, and baptize and gather churches, though not to be their stated pastor.

7. When death, distance, corruption, heresy, or malignity of pastors within reach, maketh it impossible to have ordination, God's choice of the person may be notified without it: as by, 1. Eminent qualifications. 2. The people's real necessities. 3. And the removal of impediments, and a concurrence of inviting opportunities and advantages. 4. And sometimes the people's desire. 5. And sometimes the magistrate's commission or consent; which though not absolutely necessary in themselves, yet may serve to design the person and invest him, when the ordinary way faileth; which is all that is left to man to do, to the conveyance of the power.

The case being thus stated, as to what is necessary to give the power or office, we may next inquire whether any papist priest have such power, by such means.

And, 1. We have sufficient reason to judge that many of them have all the personal qualifications which are essentially necessary. 2. Many among them have the consent of a sober christian people (of which more anon). And Mr. Jacob, who was against bishops and their ordination, proveth at large, that by election or consent of the people alone, a man may be a true pastor, either without such ordination, or notwithstanding both the vanity and error of it. 3. Many of them have ordination by able and sober bishops; if that also be necessary. 4. In that ordination, they are invested in all that is essential to the pastoral office.

So that I see not that their calling is a nullity through defect of any thing of absolute necessity to its being and validity; though it be many ways irregular and sinful.

II. We are next therefore to inquire whether any contradicting additions make null that which else would be no nullity. And this is the great difficulty. For as we accuse not their religion for having too little, but too much, so this is our chief doubt about their ministry.

And, 1. It is doubted, as to the office itself, whether a mass priest be a true minister, as having another work to do, even to make his Maker, and to give Christ's real flesh with his hands to the people; and to preach the unsound doctrines of their church; and these seem to be essential parts of his function.

The case is very bad and sad; but that which I said about the heresies or errors which may consist with christianity, when they overthrow it but by an undiscerned consequence, must be here also considered. The prime part of their office is that (as to the essentials) which Christ ordained: this they receive, and to this they sew a filthy rag of man's devising; but if they knew this to be inconsistent with christianity or the essentials of the ministry, we may well presume (of many of them) they would not receive it. Therefore as an error which consequentially contradicteth some essential article of faith, nullifieth not his christianity who first and fastest holdeth the faith, and would cast away the error if he saw the contradiction, (as Davenant, Morton, and Hall have showed, Epist. Conciliat.) so is it to be said as to practical error in the present case. They are their grievous errors and sins, but, for aught I see, do not nullify their office to the church. As a mass priest, he is no minister of Christ (as an anabaptist is not as a re-baptizer, nor a separatist as a separater, nor an antinomian, or any erroneous person, as a preacher of that error); but as a christian pastor ordained to preach the gospel, baptize, administer the Lord's supper, pray, praise God, guide the church, he may be.

The same answer serveth to the objection as it extendeth to the erroneous doctrines which they preach, which are but by consequence against the essentials of religion.

2. But it is a greater doubt, Whether any power of the ministry can be conveyed by antichrist, or from him? and whether God will own any of antichrist's administrations? Therefore seeing they profess themselves to have no office but what they receive from the pope, and Christ disowning his usurpation, the same man cannot be the minister of Christ and antichrist; as the same man cannot be an officer in the king's army and his enemies'.

But this will have the same solution as the former. If this antichrist were the open, professed enemy to Christ, then all this were true: because their corrupt additions would not by dark consequences, but so directly contain the denial of christianity or the true ministry, that it were not possible to hold both. But (as our divines commonly note) antichrist is to sit in the temple of God, and the pope's treason is under pretence of the greatest service and friendship to Christ, making himself his vicar-general without his commission. So they that receive power from him, do think him to be Christ's vicar indeed, and so renounce not Christ, but profess their first and chief relation to be to him, and dependence on him, and that they would have nothing to do with the pope, if they knew him to be against Christ. And some of them write, that the power or office is immediately from Christ, and that the pope, ordainers, and electors do but design the person that shall receive it (because else they know not what to say of the election and consecration of the pope himself, who hath no superior). And the Spanish bishops in the council of Trent held so close to this, that the rest were fain to leave it undetermined; so that it is no part of their religion, but a doubtful opinion, Whether the power of bishops be derived from the pope, though they be governed by him?

But as to the other, the case seemeth like this: if a subject in Ireland usurp the lieutenancy, and tell all the people that he hath the king's commission to be his lieutenant, and command all to submit to him, and receive their places from him, and obey him; and the king declareth him a traitor, (antecedently only by the description of his laws,) and maketh it the duty of the subjects to renounce him; those now that know the king's will, and yet adhere to the usurper, though they know that the king is against it, are traitors with him: but those from whom he keepeth the knowledge of the laws, and who for want of full information believe him to be really the king's lieutenant, (and specially living where all believe it,) but yet would renounce him if they knew that he had not the king's commission; these are the king's subjects, though in ignorance they obey a usurper. And on this account it is that Archbishop Usher concluded, that an ignorant papist might be saved, but the learned hardly. But when the learned, through the disadvantages of their education, are under the same ignorance, being learned but on one side but to their greater seduction, the case may be the same.

The same man therefore may receive an office from Christ, who yet ignorantly submitteth to the pope, and receiveth corrupt additions from him.

But suppose I be mistaken in all this, yet to come to the second question,

{631} III. Whether baptism and ordination given by them be nullities? I answer, no; on a further account, 1. Because that the ministry which is a nullity to the receiver, (that is, God will punish him as a usurper,) may yet perform those ministerial acts which are no nullities to the church.[236] Else how confused a case would all churches be in! For it is hard ever to know whether ministers have all things essential to their office. Suppose a man be ignorant, or a heretic against some essential article of faith; or suppose that he feigned orders of ordination when he had none; or that he was ordained by such as really had no power to do it; or suppose he pretended the consent of the majority of the people, when really the greater part were for another: if all this be unknown, his baptizing and other administrations are not thereby made nullities to the church, though they be sins in him. The reason is, because that the church shall not suffer, nor lose her right for another man's sin! When the fault is not theirs, the loss and punishment shall not be theirs. He that is found in possession of the place, performeth valid administration to them that know not his usurpation, and are not guilty of it. Otherwise we should never have done re-baptizing, nor know easily when we receive any valid administrations, while we are so disagreed about the necessaries of the office and call; and when it is so hard in all things to judge of the call of all other men.

2. And as the papists say, that a private man or woman may baptize in extremity, so many learned protestants think, that though a private man's baptism be a sin, yet it is no nullity, though he were known to be no minister.

And what is said of baptism, to avoid tediousness, you may suppose said of ordination, which will carry the first case far, as to the validity of the ministry received by papists' ordination, as well as of baptism and visible christianity received by them. For my part, God used Parson's "Book of Resolution corrected," so much to my good, and I have known so many eminent christians, and some ministers, converted by it, that I am glad that I hear none make a controversy of it, whether the conversion, faith, or love to God be valid, which we receive by the books or means of any papist?

[234]   Eph. iv. 6-11.

[235]   Matt, xxviii. 11, 20; Tit. i. 5; Acts xx. 28; xiv. 23; 1 Pet. v. 2.

[236]   Matt. vii. 23-25; Phil. i. 15-17; Mark ix. 40.

Quest. IV. Whether it be necessary to believe that the pope is the antichrist?

It is one question, whether he be antichrist? and another, whether it be necessary to believe it? To the first I say, 1. There are many antichrists: and we must remove the ambiguity of the name, before we can resolve the question. If by antichrist be meant, one that usurps the office of a universal vicar of Christ, and constituting and governing head of the whole visible church, and hereby layeth the ground of schisms, and contentions, and bloodshed in the world, and would rob Christ of all his members, who are not of the pope's kingdom, and that formeth a multifarious ministry for this service, and corrupteth much of the doctrine, worship, and discipline of the church, in this sense no doubt but the pope is antichrist.

But if by antichrist be meant him particularly described in the Apocalypse and Thessalonians, then the controversy de re, is about the exposition of those dark prophecies. Of which I can say no more but this, 1. That if the pope be not he, he had ill luck to be so like him. 2. That Dr. More's moral arguments, and Bishop Downham's and many others' expository arguments, are such as I cannot answer. 3. But yet my skill is not so great in interpreting those obscure prophecies, as that I can say, I am sure that it is the pope that they speak of, and that Lyra, learned Zanchy, and others that think it is Mahomet, or others that otherwise interpret them, were mistaken.

II. But to the second question, I more boldly say, 1. That every one that indeed knoweth this to be the sense of those texts, is bound to believe it.

2. But that God, who hath not made it of necessity to salvation to understand many hundred plainer texts, nor absolutely to understand more than the articles and fundamentals of our religion, hath much less made it necessary to salvation to understand the darkest prophecies.

3. And that as the suspicion should make all christians cautelous what they receive from Rome, so the obscurity should make all christians take heed, that they draw from it no consequences destructive to love, or order, or any truth, or christian duty. And this is the advice I give to all.

Quest. V. Whether we must hold that a papist may be saved?

This question may be resolved easily from what is said before.

1. A papist as a papist, that is, by popery, will never be saved, no more than a man's life by a leprosy.

2. If a papist be saved, he must be saved against, and from popery, either by turning from the opinion, and then he is no papist, or by preserving his heart from the power of his own opinions.[237] And the same we may say of every error and sin. He that is saved, must be saved from it, at least from the power of it on the heart, and from the guilt of it by forgiveness.

3. Every one that is a true, sincere christian in faith, love, and true obedience, shall be saved, what error soever he hold that doth consist with these.

4. As many antinomians and other erroneous persons, do hold things which by consequence subvert christianity; and yet not seeing the inconsistence, do hold christianity first and faster, in heart and sincere practice, and would renounce their error if they saw the inconsistence, so is it with many papists. And that which they hold first, and fastest, and practically, doth save them from the power, operations, and poison of their own opinions: as an antidote or the strength of nature may save a man from a small quantity of poison.

5. Moreover we have cause to judge that there are millions among the papists, corrupted with many of their lesser errors, who yet hold not their greater; that believe not that none are christians but the pope's subjects, and that Christ's kingdom and the pope's are of the same extent, or that he can remit men's pains in another world, or that the bread and wine are no bread and wine, or that men merit of God in point of commutative justice, or that we must adore or worship the bread, or yet the cross or image itself, &c. or that consent to abundance of the clergy's tyrannical usurpations and abuses: and so being not properly papists, may be saved, if a papist might not. And we the less know how many or few among them are really of the clergy's religion and mind, because by terror they restrain men from manifesting their judgment, and compel them to comply in outward things.

6. But as fewer that have leprosies, or plagues, or that take poison, escape, than of other men, so we {632} have great cause to believe, that much fewer papists are saved, than such as escape their errors. And therefore all that love their souls should avoid them.

7. And the trick of the papists who persuade people that theirs is the safest religion, because we say that a papist may be saved, and they say that a protestant cannot, is so palpable a cheat, that it should rather deter men from their way. For God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God; and all men must know us to be Christ's disciples, by loving one another; and he that saith he loveth God, and loveth not his brother, is a liar; and charity believeth all things credible. That religion is likest to be of God which is most charitable, and not that which is most uncharitable, and malicious, and like to Satan.

To conclude, no man shall be saved for being no papist, much less for being a papist. And all that are truly holy, heavenly, humble lovers of God, and of those that are his servants, shall be saved. But how many such are among the papists, God only knoweth who is their Judge.

The questions whether the Greeks, Abassines, Nestorians, Eutychians, antinomians, anabaptists, &c. may be saved, must be all resolved as this of the papists, allowing for the different degrees of their corruption. And therefore I must desire the reader to take up with this answer for all, and excuse me from unnecessary repetition.

As for such disputers as my antagonist Mr. Johnson, who insisteth on that of Tit. iii. 10, "A man that is an heretic—is condemned of himself;" when he hath proved that the word heretic hath but one signification, I will say as he doth. Till then, if he will try who shall be damned by bare equivocal words, without the definition, let him take his course, for I will be none of his imitators.

[237]   Vid. Hun. Eccl. Rom. non est christiana: et Perkins. A papist cannot go beyond a reprobate.

Quest. VI. Whether those that are in the church of Rome, are bound to separate from it? And whether it be lawful to go to their mass or other worship?

These two also for brevity I join together.

I. To the first, we must distinguish of separation: 1. It is one thing to judge that evil which is evil, and separate from it in judgment. 2. It is another thing to express this by forbearing to subscribe, swear, or otherwise approve that evil. 3. And another thing to forbear communion with them in the mass and image worship, and gross or known sins. 4. And another thing to forbear all communion with them, even as to baptism and other lawful things. 5. And another thing to use some open detestations or protestations against them.

2. And we must distinguish much of persons, whether they be ministers or people, free or bound, as wives, children, &c. And now I answer,

1. There is no question but it is a duty to judge all that evil which is evil among the papists or any other.

2. It is the duty of all to forbear subscribing, swearing to, or otherwise approving evil.

3. It is the duty of all mass priests to renounce that part of their calling, and not to administer their mass, or any other unlawful thing.

4. It is the duty of all private christians to forbear communion in the mass, because it is a kind of idolatry, while they worship apiece of bread as God; as also image worship, and all other parts of their religion, in which they are put upon sin themselves, or that which is notorious scandal and symbolizing with them in their bread worship, or rather corruptions of the substance of God's ordinances.

5. It is their duty who have fit opportunity, (when it is like to do more good than harm,) to protest against the papal corruptions where they are, and to declare their detestation of them.

6. It is the duty of those that have children to be baptized or catechised, to make use of more lawful and sound ministers, when they may be had, rather than of a papist priest.

7. But in case they cannot remove, or enjoy better, I think it is lawful, 1. To let such baptize their children, rather than leave them unbaptized. 2. To let their children be taught by them to read, or in arts and sciences, or the catechism, and common principles of religion, so they will mix no dangerous errors. 3. And to hear those of them preach, who preach soundly and piously (such as were Gerrhard, Zutphaniensis, Thaulerus, Ferus, and many more). 4. And to read such good books as these now mentioned have written. 5. And to join with them in such prayers as are sound and pious, so they go no further.

8. And wives, children, and such other as are bound, and cannot lawfully remove, may stay among them, and take up with these helps, dealing faithfully in abstaining from the rest.

II. The second question is answered in this. Only I add, that it is one thing to be present as Elias was, in a way of opposition to them; or as disputants are, that open their errors; or as a wise man may go to hear or see what they do, without compliance, as we read their books; and it is another thing to join with them in their sinful worship, or scandalously to encourage them in it by seeming so to do. See Calv. contr. Nicod. &c.

Quest. VII. Whether the true calling of the minister by ordination or election, &c. be necessary to the essence of the church?

By a church here we mean a political society of christians, and not any assembly or community. And no doubt pastor and flock are the constitutive parts of such a church; and where either of them are notoriously wanting, it is notorious that there is no true church. Therefore all the doubt is, whether such parts of his call be necessary to the being of the ministry, or not? And here we must conclude, that the word ministry and church are ambiguous. By a minister or pastor is meant, either one that God so far owneth as to accept and justify his administrations as for himself, even his own good and salvation; or one whose administrations God will own, accept, and bless to the people.

I. In the former sense, 1. He is no true minister that wanteth the essential qualifications of a minister, viz. that hath not, (1.) The understanding and belief of all the essential articles of faith, without heresy. (2.) Tolerable ability to teach these to the people, and perform the other essentials of his office. (3.) Sincere godliness, to do all this in love and obedience to God as his servant, in order to life eternal. 2. And he is thus no true pastor as to God's acceptance of himself, who hath not a lawful calling; that is, (1.) Ordination, when it may be had. (2.) The consent or reception of that church of which he pretendeth to be pastor, which is still necessary, and must be had, if ordination cannot.

II. But in the second sense, he is a pastor so far as that God will own his administrations as to the people's good, who, 1. Hath possession. 2. And seemeth to them to have necessary qualifications, and a lawful call, though it prove otherwise, so be it, it be not through their wilful fault, that he is culpable, or they mistaken in him. If he be not a true {633} believer, but an infidel, or heretic, he is no minister as to himself, that is, God will use him as a usurper that hath no title:[238] but if he profess to be a believer when he is not, he is a true pastor visibly to the people; otherwise they could never know when they have a pastor: even as real faith makes a real christian, and professed faith makes a visible christian, so is it as to the ministry. If he seem to understand the articles of faith, and do not, or if he seem to have due ordination when he hath not, if he be upon this mistake accepted by the people, he is a true visible pastor as to them, that is, as to their duty and benefit, though not as to himself. Yea, the people's consent to his entrance is not necessary ad esse, nor to his relation neither, so far as to justify himself, but to his administrations and to his relation, so far as their own right and benefit are interested in it. So that two things are necessary to such a visible pastor as shall perform valid administrations to the church: 1. Seeming necessary qualifications and calling to it. 2. Possession, by the people's reception or consent to his administrations and relation so far as to their benefit.

And, III. Thus also we must distinguish of the word church. It is, 1. Such an entire christian society as hath a minister or pastor whose office is valid as to himself and them; or it is such a society only as hath a pastor whose office is valid to them but not to himself. Let us not confound the question de re and de nomine. These societies differ as is said. Both may fitly be called true churches.

As it is with a kingdom which hath a rightful prince, and one that hath a usurper, so it is here. 1. If it have a rightful king accepted, it is a kingdom in the fullest sense. 2. If it have a usurper accepted as king, it is a kingdom, but faulty. 3. If the usurper be only so far accepted as that the people consent not to his entrance, no, nor his relation so as to justify his title, but wish him cast out if they could procure it; but yet consent to receive that protection and justice which is their own due from the possessor, and consent to his relation only thus far, this is a kingdom truly, but more defective or maimed than the first. 4. But if the people do not so much as receive him, nor submit to his administrations, he is but a conqueror, and not a king, and it is (in respect to him) no kingdom (though in respect to some other that hath title and consent, without actual possession of the administration, it may be a kingdom). And this is the true and plain solution of this question, which want of distinction doth obscure.

[238]   Acts i. 17; Matt. vii. 23.

Quest. VIII. Whether sincere faith and godliness be necessary to the being of the ministry? And whether it be lawful to hear a wicked man, or take the sacrament from him, or take him for a minister?

This question receiveth the very same solution with the last foregoing, and therefore I need not say much more to it.

I. The first part is too oft resolved mistakingly on both extremes. Some absolutely saying that godliness or faith is not necessary to the being of the ministry; and some that it is necessary. Whereas the true solution is as aforesaid; sincere faith and godliness are necessary to make a man a minister so far as that God will own and justify him as sent by himself, as to his own duty and benefit: for he cannot be internally and heartily a christian pastor that is no christian, nor a minister of God who is not godly, that is, is not truly resigned to God, obeyeth him not and loveth him not as God. But yet the reality of these are not necessary to make him a visible pastor, as to the people's duty and benefit.

2. But the profession of true faith and godliness is necessary so far, as that without it the people ought not to take him for a visible minister (as the profession of christianity is to a visible christian).

3. And in their choice they ought to prefer him cæteris paribus, whose profession is most credible.

Object. That which maketh a minister is gifts and a calling, which are distinct from grace and real christianity. Answ. Every minister is a christian, though every christian be not a minister or pastor: therefore he that is a visible pastor must visibly or in profession have both.

Object. But a man may be a christian, without saving grace or godliness. Answ. As much as he may be godly without godliness. That is, he may be visibly a christian and godly, without sincere faith or godliness, but not without the profession of both. It is not possible that the profession of christianity in the essentials, can be without the profession of godliness; for it includeth it.

II. To the other question I answer, 1. A man that professeth infidelity or impiety, yea, that professeth not faith and godliness, is not to be taken for a minister, or heard as such.

2. Every one that professeth to stand to his baptismal covenant professeth faith and godliness.

3. He that by a vicious life or bad application of doctrine contradicteth his profession, is to be lawfully accused of it, and heard speak for himself, and to be cast out by true church justice, and not by the private censure of a private person.

4. Till this be done, though a particular private member of the church be not bound to think that the minister is worthy, nor that the church which suffereth and receiveth him doth well, yet they are bound to judge him one who by the church's reception is in possession, and therefore a visible pastor, and to submit to his public administrations; because it is not in a private man's power, but the church's, to determine who shall be the pastor.

5. But if the case be past controversy and notorious, that the man is not only scandalous, and weak, and dull, and negligent, but also either, 1. Intolerably unable; 2. Or an infidel, or gross heretic; 3. Or certainly ungodly; a private man should admonish the church and him, and in case that they proceed in impenitency, should remove himself to a better church and ministry. And the church itself should disown such a man, and commit their souls to one that is fitter for the trust.

6. And that church or person who needlessly owneth such a pastor, or preferreth him before a fitter, doth thereby harden him in his usurpation, and is guilty of the hurt of the people's souls, and of his own, and of the dishonour done to God.

Quest. IX. Whether the people are bound to receive or consent to an ungodly, intolerable, heretical pastor, yea, or one far less fit and worthy than a competitor, if the magistrate command it, or the bishop impose him?

For the deciding of this, take these propositions.

1. The magistrate is authorized by God to govern ministers and churches, according to the orders and laws of Christ (and not against them); but not to ordain or degrade, nor to make ministers or unmake them, nor to deprive the church of the liberty settled on it by the laws of Christ.

2. The bishops or ordainers are authorized by Christ to judge of the fitness of the person to the office in general, and solemnly to invest him in it, {634} but not to deprive the people of their freedom, and exercise of the natural care of their own salvation, or of any liberty given them by Christ.

3. The people's liberty in choosing or consenting to their own pastors, to whom they must commit the care of their souls, is partly founded in nature, (it being they that must have the benefit or loss, and no man being authorized to damn or hazard men's souls, at least against their wills,) and partly settled by Scripture, and continued in the church above a thousand years after Christ, at least in very many parts of it.[239] See Blondel's "Full Proof de jure plebis in regim. Eccles." Hildebertus Cænoman. (alias Turonensis) even in his time showeth, that though the clergy were to lead, and the people to follow, yet no man was to be made a bishop, or put upon the people, without their own consent: Epist. 12. Bibl. Pet. to. iii. p. 179. Filesacus will direct you to more such testimonies. But the thing is past controversy. I need not cite to the learned the commonly cited testimony of Cyprian, Plebs maximam habet potestatem indignos recusandi, &c. And indeed in the nature of the thing it cannot be: for though you may drench a mad-man's body by force, when you give him physic, you cannot so drench men's souls, nor cure them against their wills.

4. Not that the people's consent is necessary to the general office of a gospel minister, to preach and baptize; but only to the appropriation or relation of a minister to themselves; that is, to the being of a pastor of a particular church as such, but not of a minister of Christ as such.

5. A man's soul is of so great value above all the favour of man, or treasures of this world, that no man should be indifferent to what man's care he doth commit it; nor should he hazard it upon the danger of everlasting misery, for fear of displeasing man, or being accused of schism or disorder.

6. There is as great difference between an able, learned, judicious, orthodox, godly, diligent, lively teacher, and an ignorant, heretical, ungodly, dull, and slothful man, as there is between a skilful and an ignorant pilot at sea; or between an able, experienced, faithful physician, and an ignorant, rash, and treacherous one, as to the saving men's lives. And he that would not take a sot or an empiric for his physician, who were like to kill him, and refuse the counsel of an able physician, in obedience to a magistrate or bishop, hath as little reason to do the like by his soul; nor should he set less by that than by his life.[240] And if Paul said, We have this power for edification and not for destruction, we may say so of all magistrates and bishops. Sober divines have lately showed their error who teach men that they must be ready to submit to damnation if God require it, or to suppose that his glory and our salvation are separable ends; because damnation is a thing which nature necessitateth man not to desire or intend! And shall we ascribe more to a magistrate than to God? and say that we must cast our souls on a likelihood of damnation to keep order and in obedience to man? No man can be saved without knowledge and holiness: an ignorant, dead, ungodly minister is far less likely to help us to knowledge and holiness, than an able, holy man. To say God can work by the unfittest instrument is nothing to the purpose; till you prove that God would have us take him for his instrument, and that he useth equally to work by such, as well as by the fit and worthy, or that we expect wonders from God, and that ordinarily without tempting him! yea, when such a usurper of the ministry is like to damn himself, as well as the people.

And here to lenify the minds of Ithacian prelates towards those that seek their own edification, in such a case as this, or that refuse unworthy pastors of their imposing, I will entreat them to censure those near them no more sharply than they do the persons in these following instances. Yea, if a separatist go too far, use him no more uncharitably, than you would do these men.

(1.) Gildas Brit. is called Sapiens, and our eldest writer; and yet he calleth the multitude of the lewd British clergy whom he reprehendeth in his "Acris Correptio," traitors and no priests; and concludeth seriously, that he that calleth them priests, is not eximius christianus, any excellent christian. Yet those few that were pious he excepteth and commendeth. Shall he account them no priests, for their sinfulness, and will you force others, not only to call them priests, but to commit their souls to such men's conduct? when Christ hath said, "If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the ditch?" and Paul, "Take heed unto thyself and unto thy doctrine; for in so doing, thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee?"[241]

The second is our second (and first English) historian, Beda, and in him the famous Johannes Episc. Hagulstadensis Eccles. who, as he reporteth, wrought very great miracles, as Eccles. Hist. lib. v. cap. 2-5, is to be read. This man had one Herebaldus in his clergy, after an abbot; who himself told Beda as followeth:—That this Johannes Ep. cured him miraculously of a perilous hurt, taken by disobedient horsemanship; and when he recovered, he asked him, whether he were sure that he was baptized? who answered, That he knew it past doubt, and named the presbyter that baptized him. The bishop answered him, If thou wast baptized by that priest, thou wast not rightly baptized: for I know him, and that when he was ordained presbyter, he was so dull of wit, that he could not learn the ministry of catechising and baptizing. Wherefore I commanded him altogether to give over the presumption of this ministry, which he could not altogether fulfil. And having thus said, he himself took care to catechise me the same hour; and—being cured—vitali etiam unda perfusus sum, I was baptized.

I commend not this example of re-baptizing, the rather because it seems the priest was not deposed till after he had baptized Herebaldus: but if he went so far as to re-baptize, and account the baptism a nullity, which was done by an unable, insufficient presbyter, though rightly ordained, judge but as favourably of men that avoid such presbyters in our age.

The third instance shall be that of Cyprian, and all the worthy bishops in the councils of Carthage in his time, who re-baptized those baptized by heretics. And consider withal that in those times many were called heretics whom we call but schismatics, that drew disciples after them into separated bodies and parties, speaking perverse things, though not contrary to the very essentials of religion, Acts xx. 30. I justify not their opinion: but if so many holy bishops counted the very baptism of such a nullity, be not too severe and censorious against those that go not at all so far from an insufficient, or ungodly, or grossly scandalous man, for the mere preservation of their own souls.

{635} To these I will add the saying of one of the honester sort of Jesuits, Acosta; and in him of an ancienter than he: lib. iv. c. 1. p. 354. de reb. Indic. He extolleth the words of Dionysius Epist. viii. ad Demoph. which are, Si igitur quæ illuminat sacerdotum est sancta distinctio, proculdubio ille a sacerdotali ordine et virtute omnino prolapsus est, qui illuminans non est, multoque sane magis qui neque illuminatus est. Atque mihi quidem videtur audax nimium hujusmodi est, si sacerdotalia munia sibi assumit; neque metuit, neque veretur ea quæ sunt divina præter meritum persequi; putatque ea latere Deum, quorum sibi ipse conscius sit; et se Deum fallere existimat, quem falso nomine appellat patrem; audetque scelestas blasphemias suas (neque enim preces dixerim) sacris aris inferre; easque super signa illa divina, ad Christi similitudinem dicere. Non est iste sacerdos; non est; sed infestus, atrox, dolosus, illusor sui, et lupus in dominicam gregem ovina pelle armatus. His plura aut majora de evangelici ministerii et culmine et præcipitio qui expectat, cuique ad resipiscendum non ista sufficiunt, infatuatum se juxta Domini sententiam, et nullo unquam sale saliri posse demonstrat. I will not English it, lest those take encouragement by it who are bent to the other extreme.

7. Yet it will be a great offence, if any censorious, self-conceited person shall on this pretence set up his judgment of men's parts, to the contempt of authority, or to the vilifying of worthy men; and especially if he thereby make a stir and schism in the church, instead of seeking his own edification.

8. Yea, if a minister be weaker, yea, and colder and worse than another, yet if his ministry be competently fitted to edification, he that cannot leave him and go to a better, without apparent hurt to the church, and the souls of others, by division, or exasperating rulers, or breaking family order, or violating relative duties, must take himself to be at present denied the greater helps that others have, and may trust God in the use of those weaker means, to accept and bless him; because he is in the station where he hath set him. This case therefore must be resolved by a prudent comparing of the good or hurt which is like to follow, and of the accidents or circumstances whence that must be discerned.

[239]   In the time of the Arian emperors the churches refused the bishops whom the emperors imposed on them, and stuck to their own orthodox bishops; especially at Alexandria and Cæsarea, after the greatest urgency for their obedience.

[240]   Matt. xvi. 26; Prov. x. 32; xix. 8; Luke xii. 4.

[241]   Matt. xv. 14; 1 Tim. iv. 6, 16; Matt. xvi. 6; xxiv. 4. Mark iv. 24; Luke viii. 18; Matt. xxiii. 16.

Quest. X. What if the magistrate command the people to receive one pastor, and the bishops or ordainers another, which of them must be obeyed?

1. The magistrate, and not the bishop or people, (unless under him,) hath the power and disposal of the circumstantials or accidents of the church; I mean of the temple, the pulpit, the tithes, &c.[242] And he is to determine what ministers are fit either for his own countenance or toleration, and what not. In these therefore he is to be obeyed before the bishops or others.

2. If a pope or prelate of a foreign church, or any that hath no lawful jurisdiction or government over the church that wanteth a pastor, shall command them to receive one, their command is null, and to be contemned.

3. Neither magistrate nor bishop, as is said, may deny the church or people any liberty which God in nature, or Christ in the gospel, hath settled on them, as to the reception of their proper pastors.

4. No bishop, but only the magistrate, can compel by the sword the obedience of his commands.

5. If one of them command the reception of a worthy person, and the other of an intolerable one, the former must prevail, because of obedience to Christ, and care of our souls.

6. But if the persons be equal, or both fit, the magistrate is to be obeyed, if he be peremptory in his commands, and decide the case in order to the peace or protection of the church; both because it is a lawful thing, and because else he will permit no other.

7. And the rather because the magistrate's power is more past controversy, than, whether any bishop, pastor, or synod, can any further than by counsel and persuasion, oblige the people to receive a pastor.

[242]   See more of this after.

Quest. XI. Whether an uninterrupted succession either of right ordination or of conveyance by jurisdiction, be necessary to the being of the ministry, or of a true church?

The papists have hitherto insisted on the necessity of successive right ordination; but Voetius de desperata Causa Papatus hath in this so handled them, and confuted Jansenius, as hath indeed showed the desperateness of that cause: and they perceive that the papacy itself cannot be upheld by that way; and therefore Johnson, alias Terret, in his rejoinder against me, now concludeth, that it is not for want of a successive consecration that they condemn the church of England, but for want of true jurisdiction, because other bishops had title to the places whilst they were put in; and that successive consecration (which we take to include ordination) is not necessary to the being of ministry or church. And it is most certain to any man acquainted in church history, that their popes have had a succession of neither. Their way of election hath been frequently changed, sometimes being by the people, sometimes by the clergy, sometimes by the emperors, and lastly by the cardinals alone. Ordination they have sometimes wanted, and a layman been chosen; and oft the ordination hath been by such as had no power according to their own laws. And frequent intercisions have been made, sometimes by many years' vacancy, when they had no church (and so there was none on earth, if the pope be the constitutive head) for want of a pope: sometimes by long schisms, when of two or three popes, no one could be known to have more right than another, nor did they otherwise carry it, than by power at last: sometimes by the utter incapacity of the possessors, some being laymen, some heretics and infidels, so judged by councils at Rome, Constance, Basil; and Eugenius the fourth continued after he was so censured, and condemned, and deposed by the general council. I have proved all this at large elsewhere.

And he that will not be cheated with a bare sound of words, but will ask them, whether by a succession of jurisdiction, they mean efficient, conveying jurisdiction in the causers of his call, or received jurisdiction in the office received, will find that they do but hide their desperate cause in confusion and an insignificant noise. For they maintain that none on earth have an efficient jurisdiction in making popes. For the former pope doth not make his successor; and both electors, ordainers, and consecrators, yea, and the people receiving, they hold to be subjects of the pope when made, and therefore make him not by jurisdiction giving him the power. Therefore Johnson tells me, that Christ only, and not man, doth give the power, and they must needs hold that men have nothing to do but design the person recipient by election and reception, and to invest him ceremonially in the possession. So that no efficient jurisdiction is here used at all by man. And for received jurisdiction, 1. No one questioneth but when that office is received which is essentially governing, he that receiveth it receiveth a governing {636} power, or else he did not receive the office. If the question be only, whether the office of a bishop be an office of jurisdiction, or contain essentially a governing power, they make no question of this themselves. So that the noise of successive jurisdiction is vanished into nothing. 2. And with them that deny any jurisdiction to belong to presbyters, this will be nothing as to their case, who have nothing but orders to receive.

They have nothing of sense left them to say but this, That though the efficient jurisdiction which maketh popes be only in Christ, because no men are their superiors, yet bishops and presbyters who have superiors, cannot receive their power but by an efficient power of man, which must come down by uninterrupted succession.

Answ. 1. And so if ever the papal office have an intercision, (as I have proved it hath had as to lawful popes,) the whole catholic church is nullified; and it is impossible to give it a new being, but by a new pope.

But the best is, that by their doctrine indeed they need not to plead for an uninterrupted succession either of popes, bishops, or presbyters, but that they think it a useful cheat to perplex all that are not their subjects. For if the papacy were extinct a hundred years, Christ is still alive; and seeing it is no matter ad esse who be the electors or consecraters, so it be but made known conveniently to the people, and men only elect and receive the person, and Christ only giveth the power, (by his stated law,) what hindereth after the longest extinction or intercision, but that somebody, or some sort of person, may choose a pope again, and so Christ make him pope? And thus the catholic church may die and live again by a new creation, many times over.

And when the pope hath a resurrection after the longest intercision, so may all the bishops and priests in the world, because a new pope can make new bishops, and new bishops can make new priests. And where then is there any show of necessity of an uninterrupted succession of any of them? All that will follow is, that the particular churches die till a resurrection; and so doth the whole church on earth every time the pope dieth, till another be made, if he be the constitutive head.

2. But as they say that Christ only efficiently giveth the power to the pope, so say we to the bishops or pastors of the church. For there is no act of Christ's collation to be proved, but the Scripture law or grant: and if that standing law give power to the pope, when men have but designed the person, the same law will do the same to bishops or pastors; for it establisheth their office in the same sort. Or rather in truth there is no word, that giveth power to any such officer as a universal head or pope, but the law for the pastoral office is uncontrovertible.

And what the Spanish bishops at Trent thought of the Divine right of the bishop's office, I need not mention.

I shall therefore thus truly resolve the question.

1. In all ordinations and elections, man doth but first choose the recipient person. 2. And ceremoniously and ministerially invest him in the possession when God hath given him the power; but the efficient collation or grant of the power is done only by Christ, by the instrumentality of his law or institution. As when the king by a charter saith, Whoever the city shall choose, shall be their mayor, and have such and such power, and be invested in it by the recorder or steward: here the person elected receiveth all his power from the king by his charter, (which is a standing efficient, conveying it to the capable chosen person,) and not from the choosers or recorder; only the last is as a servant to deliver possession. So is it in this case.

2. The regular way of entrance appointed by Christ to make a person capable, is the said election and ordination. And for order sake where that may be had, the unordained are not to be received as pastors.

3. If any get possession, by false, pretended ordination or mission, and be received by the church. I have before told you that he is a pastor as to the church's use and benefit, though not to his own. And so the church is not extinct by every fraudulent usurpation or mistake, and so not by want of a true ordination or mission.

4. If the way of regular ordination fail, God may otherwise (by the church's necessity, and the notorious aptitude of the person) notify his will to the church, what person they shall receive; (as if a layman were cast on the Indian shore and converted thousands, who could have no ordination;) and upon the people's reception or consent, that man will be a true pastor.

And seeing the papists in the conclusion (as Johnson ubi supra) are fain to cast all their cause on the church's reception of the pope, they cannot deny reasonably but ad esse the church's reception may serve also for another officer; and indeed much better than for a pope. For, 1. The universal church is so great, that no man can know when the greater part receiveth him, and when not, except in some notorious declarations. 2. And it is now known, that the far greater part of the universal church (the Greeks, Armenians, Abassines, Coptics, protestants, &c.) do not receive the Roman head. 3. And when one part of Europe received one pope, and another part another pope, for above forty years together, who could tell which of the parties was to be accounted the church? It was not then known, and is not known yet to this day; and no papist can prove it, who affirmeth it.

As a church, e. g. Constantinople, may be gathered, or oriri de novo where there is none before, so may it be restored where it is extinct. And possibly a layman (as Frumentius and Edesius in the Indies) may be the instrument of men's conversion. And if so, they may by consent become their pastors, when regular ordination cannot be had.

I have said more of this in my "Disputations of Church Government," disp. ii. The truth is, the pretence of a necessity of uninterrupted, successive ordination, mission, or jurisdictional collation ad esse, to the being of ministry or church, is but a cheat of men that have an interest of their own which requireth such a plea, when they may easily know, that it would overthrow themselves.

Quest. XII. Whether there be, or ever was, such a thing in the world, as one catholic church, constituted by any head besides or under Christ?

The greatest and first controversy between us and the papists, is not what man or politic person is the head of the whole visible church; but, whether there be any such head at all, either personal, or collective, monarchical, aristocratical, or democratical under Christ, of his appointment or allowance? or any such thing as a catholic church so headed or constituted? Which they affirm and we deny. That neither pope nor general council is such a head, I have proved so fully in my "Key for Catholics" and other books, that I will not here stay to make repetition of it. That the pope is no such head, we may take for granted, 1. Because they bring no proof of {637} it, whatever they vainly pretend. 2. Because our divines have copiously disproved it, to whom I refer you. 3. Because the universal church never received such a head, as I have proved against Johnson. 4. And whether it be the pope, their bishop of Chalcedon, ubi supra, et Sancta Clara, "System. Fid." say is not de fide.

That a council is no such head I have largely proved as aforesaid, part ii. "Key for Catholics." And, 1. The use of it being but for concord proveth it. 2. Most papists confess it. 3. Else there should be seldom any church in the world for want of a head, yea, never any.

For I have proved there and to Johnson, that there never was a true general council of the universal church; but only imperial councils of the churches under one emperor's power, and those that having been under it, had been used to such councils; and that it is not a thing ever to be attempted or expected, as being unlawful and morally impossible.[243]

[243]   See also my "Reasons of Christian Religion," Cons. ii. of the interest of the church.

Quest. XIII. Whether there be such a thing as a visible catholic church? And what it is?

The ancients differently used the terms, a catholic church, and, the catholic church. By the first they meant any particular church which was part of the universal; by the second they meant the universal church itself.[244] And this is it that we now mean. And I answer affirmatively, there is a visible universal church, not only as a community, or as a kingdom distinct from the king, but as a political society.

2. This church is the universality of baptized visible christians headed by Jesus Christ himself.[245]

There is this, and there is no other upon earth. The papists say, that this is no visible church because the Head is not visible.

I answer, 1. It is not necessary that he be seen, but visible: and is not Christ a visible person?

2. This church consisteth of two parts, the triumphant part in glory, and the militant part; and Christ is not only visible but seen by the triumphant part: as the king is not seen by the ten-thousandth part of his kingdoms, but by his courtiers and those about him, and yet he is king of all.

3. Christ was seen on earth for above thirty years; and the kingdom may be called visible, in that the King was once visible on earth, and is now visible in heaven: as if the king would show himself to his people but one year together in all his life.

4. It ill becometh the papists of any men, to say that Christ is not visible, who make him, see him, taste him, handle him, eat him, drink him, digest him in every church, in every mass throughout the year, and throughout the world; and this not as divided, but as whole Christ.

Object. But this is not quatenus regent.

Answ. If you see him that is regent, and see his laws and gospel which are his governing instruments, together with his ministers who are his officers, it is enough to denominate his kingdom visible.

5. The church might be fitly denominated visible secundum quid, if Christ himself were invisible; because the politic body is visible, the dispersed officers, assemblies, and laws are visible. But sure all these together may well serve for the denomination.

[244]   1 Cor. xii. 12, and throughout.

[245]   Eph. iv. 1, 5-7, 16.

Quest. XIV. What is it that maketh a visible member of the universal church? And who are to be accounted such?

1. Baptism maketh a visible member of the universal church; and the baptized (as to entrance, unless they go out again) are to be accounted such.[246]

2. By baptism we mean, open devotion or dedication to God by the baptismal covenant, in which the adult for themselves, and parents for their infants, do profess consent to the covenant of grace; which includeth a belief of all the essential articles of the faith, and a resolution for sincere obedience; and a consent to the relations between God and us, viz. that he be our reconciled Father, our Saviour, and our Sanctifier.

3. The continuance of this consent is necessary to the continuance of our visible membership.

4. He that through ignorance, or incapacity for want of water, or a minister, is not baptized, and yet is solemnly or notoriously dedicated and devoted to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in the same covenant, though without the outward sign, and professeth openly the same religion, is a visible christian, though not by a complete and regular visibility; as a soldier not listed nor taking his colours, or a marriage not regularly solemnized, &c.

5. He that forsaketh his covenant by apostasy, or is totally and duly excommunicated, ceaseth to be a visible member of the church.

[246]   Matt. xxviii. 19; Mark xvi. 16.

Quest. XV. Whether besides the profession of christianity, either testimony or evidence of conversion, or practical godliness, be necessary to prove a man a member of the universal visible church?

1. As the Mediator is the way to the Father, sent to recover us to God, so christianity includeth godliness; and he professeth not christianity, who professeth not godliness.[247]

2. He that professeth the baptismal covenant, professeth christianity, and godliness, and true conversion. And therefore cannot be rejected for want of a profession of conversion or godliness.

3. But he that is justly suspected not to understand his own profession, but to speak general words, without the sense, may and ought to be examined by him that is to baptize him; and therefore though the apostles among the Jews who had been bred up among the oracles of God, did justly presume of so much understanding, as that they baptized men the same day that they professed to believe in Christ; yet when they baptized converted gentiles, we have reason to think, that they first received a particular account of their converts, that they understood the three essential articles of the covenant.[248] 1. Because the creed is fitted to that use, and hath been ever used thereunto by the churches, as by tradition from the apostles' practice. 2. Because the church in all ages, as far as church history leadeth us upward, hath used catechising before baptizing; yea, and to keep men as catechumens some time for preparation. 3. Because common experience telleth us, that multitudes can say the creed that understand it not.

If any yet urge the apostles' example, I will grant that it obligeth us when the case is the like (and I will not fly to any conceit of their heart-searching, or discerning men's sincerity). When you bring us to a people that before were the visible church of God, and were all their lifetime trained up in the {638} knowledge of God, of sin, of duty, of the promised Messiah, according to all the law and prophets, and want nothing, but to know the Son and the Holy Ghost, that this Jesus is the Christ, who will reconcile us to God, and give us the sanctifying Spirit, then we will also baptize men the same day that they profess to believe in Jesus Christ, and in the Father as reconciled by him, and the Holy Ghost as given by him. But if we have those to deal with who know not God, or sin, or misery, or Scripture prophecies, no nor natural verities, we know no proof that the apostles so hastily baptized such.

Of this I have largely spoken in my "Treatise of Confirmation."

4. It is not necessary to a man's baptism and first church membership, that he give any testimony of an antecedent godly life; because it is repentance and future obedience professed that is his title; and we must not keep men from covenanting, till we first see whether they will keep the covenant which they are to make. For covenanting goeth before covenant keeping: and it is any, the most impious sinner, who repenteth, that is to be washed and justified as soon as he becometh a believer.

5. Yet if any that professeth faith and repentance, should commit whoredom, drunkenness, murder, blasphemy, or any mortal sin, before he is baptized, we have reason to make a stop of that man's baptism, because he contradicteth his own profession, and giveth us cause to take it for hypocritical, till he give us better evidence that he is penitent indeed.[249]

6. Heart covenanting maketh an invisible church member, and verbal covenanting and baptism make a visible church member. And he that maketh a profession of christianity, so far as to declare that he believeth all the articles of the creed particularly and understandingly, (with some tolerable understanding, though not distinct enough and full,) and that he openly devoteth himself to God the Father, Son, and Spirit, in the vow and covenant of baptism, doth produce a sufficient title to the relation of a christian and church member; and no minister may reject him, for want of telling when, and by what arguments, means, order, or degrees he was converted.

7. They that forsake these terms of church entrance, left us by Christ and his apostles, and used by all the churches in the world, and reject those that show the title of such a profession, for want of something more, and set up other, stricter terms of their own, as necessary to discover men's conversion and sincerity, are guilty of church tyranny against men, and usurpation against Christ; and of making engines to divide the churches, seeing there will never be agreement on any human devised terms, but some will be of one side, and some of another, when they forsake the terms of Christ.

8. Yet if the pastor shall see cause upon suspicion of hypocrisy, ad melius esse, to put divers questions to one man more than to another, and to desire further satisfaction, the catechumens ought in conscience to answer him, and endeavour his satisfaction. For a minister is not tied up to speak only such or such words to the penitent; and he that should say, I will answer you no further than to repeat the creed, doth give a man reason to suppose him either ignorant or proud, and to suspend the reception of him, though not to deny it. But still ad esse no terms must be imposed as necessary on the church, but what the Holy Ghost by the apostles hath established.

[247]   John xiv. 6; 1 Tim. iii. 16; vi. 3, 11; 2 Pet. i. 3.

[248]   Acts ii. 38, 39.

[249]   Cor. vi. 9, 10; Tit. iii. 3-5; Eph. ii. 1-3; Acts ii. 37, 38.

Quest. XVI. What is necessary to a man's reception into membership in a particular church, over and above this foresaid title? whether any other trials, or covenant, or what?

1. A particular church is a regular part of the universal, as a city of a kingdom, or a troop of an army.

2. Every man that is a member of the particular church, is a member of the universal; but every one that is a member of the universal church, is not a member of a particular.

3. Every particular church hath its own particular pastor, (one or more,) and its own particular place or bounds of habitation or residence; therefore he that will be a member of a particular church, 1. Must cohabit, or live in a proximity capable of communion. 2. And must consent to be a member of that particular church, and to be under the guidance of its particular pastor, in their office work. For he cannot be made a member without his own consent and will; nor can he be a member, that subjecteth not himself to the governor or guide.

4. He therefore that will intrude into their communion and privileges without expressing his consent beforehand to be a member, and to submit to the pastoral oversight, is to be taken for an invader.

5. But no other personal qualification is to be exacted of him as necessary, but that he be a member of the church universal. As he is not to be baptized again, so neither to give again all that account of his faith and repentance particularly which he gave at baptism; much less any higher proofs of his sincerity; but if he continue in the covenant and church state which he was baptized into, he is capable thereby of reception into any particular church upon particular consent. Nor is there any Scripture proof of any new examinations about their conversion or sincerity, at their removals or entrance into a particular church.

6. But yet because he is not now looked on only as a covenant maker, as he was at baptism, but also as a covenant keeper or performer, therefore if any can prove that he is false to his baptismal covenant, by apostasy, heresy, or a wicked life, he is to be refused till he be absolved upon his renewed repentance.

7. He that oft professeth to repent, and by oft revolting into mortal sin, (that is, sin which showeth a state of death,) doth show that he was not sincere, must afterward show his repentance by actual amendment, before he can say, it is his due to be believed.

8. Whether you will call this consent to particular church relation and duty, by the name of a covenant or not, is but lis de nomine: it is more than mutual consent that is necessary to be expressed; and mutual consent expressed may be called a covenant.

9. Ad melius esse, the more express the consent or covenant is, the better: for in so great matters men should know what they do, and deal above-board: especially when experience telleth us, that ignorance and imagery is ready to eat out the heart of religion in almost all the churches in the world. But yet ad esse churches must see that they feign or make no more covenants necessary than God hath made; because human, unnecessary inventions have so long distracted and laid waste the churches of Christ.

10. The pastor's consent must concur with the persons to be received: for it must be mutual consent; and as none can be a member, so none may be a pastor, against his will.[250] And though he be under Christ's laws what persons to receive, and is not arbitrary to do what he list, yet he is the guide of the church, and the discerner of his own duty. And {639} a pastor may have reasons to refuse to take a man into his particular charge, without rejecting him as unworthy. Perhaps he may already have more in number than he can well take care of. And other such reasons may fall out.

11. In those countries where the magistrate's laws and common consent, do take every qualified person for a member of that church where his habitation is, (called a parish,) and to which he ordinarily resorteth, the pastor that undertaketh that charge, doth thereby seem to consent to be pastor to all such persons in that parish. And there cohabitation and ordinary conjunction with the church, may go for a signification of consent, and instead of more particular contract or covenant, by virtue of the exposition of the said laws and customs. Yet so, that a man is not therefore to be taken for a member of the church merely because he liveth in the parish; for so atheists, infidels, heretics, and papists may do; but because he is, 1. A parishioner, 2. Qualified, 3. Joining with the church, and actually submitting to the ministry.

12. Where there is this much only, it is a sinful slander to say that such a parish is no true church of Christ; however there may be many desirable orders wanting to its better being. Who hath the power of trying and receiving we shall show anon.

[250]   Matt. xxviii. 19, 20; Heb. xiii. 7, 17; 1 Thess. v. 12, 13; 1 Tim. v. 17.

Quest. XVII. Wherein doth the ministerial office essentially consist?

The office of the sacred ministry is a mixed relation (not a simple).[251] I. As the minister is related to Christ, he is his servant or minister by office; that is, one commissioned by him for that sacred work: where there is, 1. The commission itself (which is not particular, but general, in a general law, applicable to each singular person when qualified). 2. The determination of the individual person who is to receive it: which consisteth in the call, which I have opened before and therefore repeat not. Only note again, 1. That by virtue of the general commission or institution of the office in specie, the power is conveyed from Christ to the individual person, and that the church (electors or ordainers) are not the donors, authorizers, or obligers, but only instruments of designing an apt recipient, and delivering him possession. 2. That by virtue of this institution, charter, or law commission, it is that the acts of a man seemingly or visibly called, are valid to the church, though really he were not ordained or truly called, but deceived them by hypocritical intrusion.[252]

2. The causation or efficiency of Christ in the making any one a minister, is, 1. Dispositive, making him a qualified, fit recipient; 2. Then applying the general commission to him, or giving him the function itself.[253]

1. The dispositive acts of Christ are, 1. Giving him competent knowledge for a minister. 2. Giving him competent goodness; that is, love to God, truth, and souls, and willingness for the work. 3. Giving him competent power and abilities for execution, which is principally in utterance; and so qualifying his intellect, will, and executive power.[254]

2. The immediate conveyance or act of collation, is, 1. An obligation laid on the person to do the work. 2. Authority given him to warrant him, and to oblige others; that is, a jus docendi, gubernandi, &c.

3. The form of the relation is denominated, 1. From the reception of these efficiencies in general. 2. From the subordination which hereby they are placed in to Christ, as their relation is denominated a termino.

1. Formally the office consisteth in, 1. An obligation to do the work of the office. 2. Authority to do it, and to oblige others to submit to it.

2. These make up an office which being denominated also from the terminus, is considered, 1. As to the nearest term, which is the work to be done. 2. The remote, which is the object of that work.

The work is, 1. Teaching: 2. Ruling: 3. Worshipping.[255] And so it is essentially An obligation and power of ministerial teaching, ruling, and worshipping God.

2. As to the object it is, 1. The world to be converted. 2. The converted to be baptized, and congregated or ordered into particular societies (so far as may be). 3. The baptized and congregate to be, (1.) Taught; (2.) Ruled; (3.) Guided in worship.[256]

From all which resulteth an office which is ministerially subordinate to Christ, 1. The Prophet or Teacher; 2. The Ruler; 3. The High Priest and Lover of his church; and it may be aptly called both a teaching ministry, a ruling ministry, (not by the sword, but by the word,) and a priesthood or priestly ministry.[257]

II. As the pastor is related to the church, he is, 1. A constitutive part of particular political churches. 2. He is Christ's minister for the church and for Christ; that is, to teach, rule, and worship with the church. He is above the church, and greater than it, as to order and power, and not the minister of the church as the efficient of the ministry: but he is less and worse than the church finally and materially; and is finally the church's minister, as the physician is the patient's physician; not made a physician by him, but chosen and used as his physician for his cure: so that to speak properly, he is not from them, but for them. He is Christ's minister for their good; as the shepherd is his master's servant, for his flock, and so finally only the servant of the sheep.[258]

The whole uncontrovertible work of the office is laid down in my small book called "Universal Concord," to which I must refer you.

[251]   John xx. 21; xiii. 20; Luke x. 3; Rom. x. 15; Acts xx. 28.

[252]   Phil. i. 15-17; Matt. vii. 22; Rom. xv. 14.

[253]   Eph. iv. 7, 8; 2 Tim. ii. 2; i. 5, 7; Eph. vi. 19; Col. iv. 3; 2 Cor. x. 4, 5.

[254]   Tit. i. 2; 2 Cor. viii. 6; 1 Cor. iv. 1, 2; Tit. i. 7.

[255]   2 Tim. 2; iii. 2; iv. 11; vi. 2, 3; 1 Thess. v. 12, 13.

[256]   Heb. xiii. 7, 17; Acts vi. 4; ix. 40; xx. 36; Mal. ii. 7; Heb. x. 11.

[257]   Rev. i. 6; v. 10; xx. 6; 1 Pet. ii. 5, 6.

[258]   Rom. i. 1; Col. iv. 12; 2 Pet. i. 1; 1 Cor. iv. 1, 2; iii. 5; 2 Cor. iii. 6; xi. 4; xi. 23; Matt. xxix. 45, 46, 48; 1 Cor. ix. 19.

Quest. XVIII. Whether the people's choice or consent is necessary to the office of a minister in his first work, as he is to convert infidels, and baptize them? And whether this be a work of office? And what call is necessary to it?

I conjoin these three distinct questions for expedition.

1. That it is part of the minister's office work to teach, convert, and baptize men, to bring them out of the world into the church, is undeniable; 1. In Christ's express commission, Matt. xxviii. 19, 20, "Go, disciple me all nations, baptizing them—" 2. In the execution of this commission.

2. That this was not peculiar to the apostles or their age is proved, 1. Because not an extraordinary work, like miracles, &c. but the first great business of the gospel and ministry in the world. 2. Because others as well as the apostles did it in that age, and ever since. 3. Because the promise is annexed to the office thus described, "I am with you always to the end of the world." Or if you translate it "age," {640} it is the age of the church of the Messiah incarnate, which is all one. 4. Because it was a small part of the world comparatively that heard the gospel in the apostles' days.[259] And the far greatest part of the world is without it at this day, when yet God our Saviour would have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5. Even where the gospel hath long continued, for the most part there are many still that are in infidelity. And so great a work is not left without an appointed suitable means for its performance: and if an office was necessary for it in the first age, it is not credible that it is left to private men's charity ever since. 6. Especially considering that private men are to be supposed insufficient; (1.) Because they are not educated purposely for it, but usually for something else. (2.) Because that they have other callings to take them up. (3.) Because they have no special obligation. And that which is no man's peculiar work, is usually left undone by all.

II. The people's call or consent is not necessary to a minister's reception of his office in general, nor for this part of his work in special; but only to his pastoral relation to themselves.

1. It is so in other functions that are exercised by skill. The patients or people make not a man a physician or lawyer, but only choose what physician shall be their physician, and what lawyer shall be their counsellor.

2. If the people's call or consent be necessary, it is either the infidels' or the church's. Not the infidels to whom he is to preach: for, 1. He is authorized to preach to them (as the apostles were) before he goeth to them. 2. Their consent is but a natural consequent requisite for the reception and success of their teaching, but not to the authority which is prerequisite. 3. Infidels cannot do so much towards the making of a minister of Christ. 4. Else Christ would have few such ministers. 5. If it be infidels, either all or some? If some, why those rather than others? Or is a man made a minister by every infidel auditory that heareth him?

2. Nor is it christian people that must do this much to the making of a general minister: for, 1. They have no such power given for it, in nature or the word of God. 2. They are generally unqualified and unable for such a work. 3. They are no where obliged to it, nor can fitly leave their callings for it; much less to get the abilities necessary to judge. 4. Which of the people have this power? Is it any of them, or any church of private men? or some one more than the rest? Neither one nor all can lay any claim to it. There is some reason why this congregation rather than another should choose their own pastors; but there is no reason (nor Scripture) that this congregation choose a minister to convert the world.

III. I conclude therefore that the call of a minister in general doth consist, 1. Dispositively in the due qualifications and enablement of the person. 2. And the necessity of the people, with opportunity, is a providential part of the call. 3. And the ordainers are the orderly electors and determiners of the person that shall receive the power from Christ.

1. For this is part of the power of the keys or church government. 2. And Paul giveth this direction for exercising of this power to Timothy, which showeth the ordinary way of calling; 2 Tim. ii. 2, "And the things which thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also."[260] Acts xiii. 1-3, "There were in the church at Antioch certain prophets—As they ministered to the Lord, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them; and when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. And they being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed." In this (whether it be called an ordination, or rather a mission) there is somewhat ordinary, (that it be by men in office,) and somewhat extraordinary (that it be by a special inspiration of the Holy Ghost).

And Timothy received his gifts and office by the imposition of the hands of Paul and of the presbytery. 1 Tim. iv. 14; 2 Tim. i. 6, 1 Tim. v. 22, "Lay hands suddenly on no man."

These instances make the case the clearer, 1. Because it is certain that all the governing power which is given by Christ to the church under the name of the keys, is given to the pastors. 2. Because there are no other competitors to lay a reasonable claim to it.

[259]   Rom. x. 15, 16.

[260]   1 Tim. iii. 6, 7; Tit. i. 5, 6.

Quest. XIX. Wherein consistent the power and nature of ordination? And to whom doth it belong? And is it an act of jurisdiction? And is imposition of hands necessary in it?

I. This is resolved on the by before. 1. Ordination performeth two things: (1.) The designation, election, or determination of the person who shall receive the office. (2.) The ministerial investiture of him in that office; which is a ceremonial delivery of possession; as a servant doth deliver possession of a house by delivering him the key, who hath before received the power or right from the owner.

2. The office delivered by this election and investiture, is the sacred ministerial office in general to be after exercised according to particular calls and opportunities; as Christ called the apostles, and the Spirit called the ordinary general teachers of those times; such as Barnabas, Silas, Silvanus, Timothy, Epaphroditus, Apollos, &c. And as is before cited, 2 Tim. ii. 2. As a man is made in general a licensed physician, lawyer, &c.

3. This ordination is ordinis gratia, necessary to order; and therefore so far necessary as order is necessary; which is ordinarily, when the greater interest of the substantial duty, or of the thing ordered, is not against it. As Christ determined the case of sabbath keeping, and not eating the shewbread. As the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath, and the end is to be preferred before the separable means; so ordination was instituted for order, and order for the thing ordered, and for the work of the gospel, and the good of souls, and not the gospel and men's souls for that order. Therefore when, 1. The death; 2. Distance; 3. Or malignity of the ordainers depriveth a man of ordination, these three substitutes may notify to him the will of God, that he is by him a person called to that office: 1. Fitness for the works, in understanding, willingness, and ability; 2. The necessity of souls; 3. Opportunity.

II. The power of ordaining belongeth not, 1. To magistrates; 2. Or to private men, either single or as the body of a church; but, 3. To the senior pastors of the church (whether bishops or presbyters of a distinct order, the reader must not expect that I here determine).

For, 1. The power is by Christ given to them, as is before proved; and in Tit. i. 5.

2. None else are ordinarily able to discern aright the abilities of a man for the sacred ministry. The people may discern a profitable moving preacher, but whether he understand the Scripture, or the substance {641} of religion, or be sound in the faith and not heretical, and delude them not with a form of well-uttered words, they are not ordinarily able to judge.

3. None else are fit to attend this work, but pastors who are separated to the sacred office.[261] It requireth more time to get fitness for it, and then to perform it faithfully, than either magistrates or people can ordinarily bestow.

4. The power is no where given by Christ to magistrates or people.

5. It hath been exercised by pastors or church officers only, both in and ever since the apostles' days, in all the churches of the world. And we have no reason to think that the church hath been gathered from the beginning till now, by so great an error, as a wrong conveyance of the ministerial power.

III. The word jurisdiction as applied to the church officers, is no Scripture word, and in the common sense soundeth too big, as signifying more power than the servants of all must claim; for there is "one Lawgiver who is able to save and to destroy."[262] But in a more moderate sense it may be tolerated; as jurisdiction signifieth in particular, 1. Legislation; 2. Or judicial process or sentence; 3. Or the execution of such a sentence, strictly taken; so ordination is no part of jurisdiction. But as jurisdiction signifieth the same with the power of government, jus regendi in general; so ordination is an act of jurisdiction. As the placing or choosing of inferior officers may belong to the steward of a family, or as the calling or authorizing of physicians belongeth to the college of physicians, and the authorizing of lawyers to the judges' society, or the authorizing of doctors in philosophy to the society of philosophers or to particular rulers. Where note, that in the three last instances, the learning or fitness of the said persons or societies, is but their dispositio vel aptitudo ad potestatem exercendam; but the actual power of conveying authority to others, or designing the recipient person, is received from the supreme power of the land, and so is properly an act of authority, here called jurisdiction.

So that the common distinguishing of ordination from jurisdiction or government, as if they were tota specie different, is unsound.

IV. Imposition of hands was a sign, (like the kiss of peace, and the anointing of persons, and like our kneeling in prayer, &c.) which having first somewhat in their nature to invite men to the use, was become a common significant sign, of a superior's benediction of an inferior, in those times and countries. And so was here applied ordinarily for its antecedent significancy and aptitude to this use; and was not purposely instituted, nor had its significancy newly given it by institution; and so was not like a sacrament necessarily and perpetually affixed to ordination.

Therefore we must conclude, 1. That imposition of hands in ordination is a decent, apt, significant sign, not to be scrupled by any, nor to be omitted without necessity, as being of Scripture, ancient, and common use.

2. But yet that it is not essential to ordination; which may be valid by any fit designation and separation of the person. And therefore if it be omitted, it nullifieth not the action. And if the ordainers did it by letters to a man a thousand miles off, it would be valid: and some persons of old were ordained when they were absent.

V. I add as to the need of ordination, 1. That without this key, the office and church doors would be cast open, and every heretic or self-conceited person intrude.

2. It is a sign of a proud, unworthy person, that will judge himself fit for so great a work, and intrude upon such a conceit, when he may have the judgment of the pastors, and avoideth it.[263]

3. Those that so do, should no more be taken for ministers by the people, than any should go for christians that are not baptized, or for married persons whose marriage is not solemnized.

[261]   Acts xiii. 2; Rom. i. 1; 1 Tim. iv. 15.

[262]   Isa. xxxiii. 22; Jam. iv. 12.

[263]   Acts xiii. 2; Heb. v. 4, 10.

Quest. XX. Is ordination necessary to make a man a pastor of a particular church as such? And is he to be made a general minister and a particular church elder or pastor at once, and by one ordination?

I have proved that a man may be made a minister in general, yea, and sent to exercise it in converting infidels, and baptizing them, before ever he is the pastor of any particular church. To which I add, that in this general ministry, he is a pastor in the universal church, as a licensed physician that hath no hospital or charge, is a physician in the kingdom.

And, 1. As baptism is as such our entrance into the universal church, and not into a particular; so is ordination to a minister an entrance only on the ministry as such.

2. Yet a man may at once be made a minister in general, and the pastor of this or that church in particular: and in kingdoms wholly inchurched and christian, it is usually fittest so to do; lest many being ordained sine titulo, idleness and poverty of supernumeraries, should corrupt and dishonour the ministry: which was the cause of the old canons in this case.

3. But when a man is thus called to both at once, it is not all done by ordination as such; but his complicate relation proceedeth from a complication of causes. As he is a minister, it is by ordination. And as he is the pastor of this people, it is by the conjunct causes of appropriation: which are, 1. Necessarily the people's consent. 2. Regularly, the pastor's approbation and recommendation, and reception of the person into their communion. 3. And sometimes the magistrate may do much to oblige the people to consent.

4. But when a man is made a minister in general before, he needeth no proper ordination to fix him in a particular charge; but only an approbation, recommendation, particular investiture, and reception. For else a man must be oft ordained, even as oft as he removeth. But yet imposition of hands may fitly be used in this particular investiture, though it be no proper ordination, that is, no collation of the office of a minister in general, but the fixing of one that was a minister before.

Quest. XXI. May a man be oft or twice ordained?

It is supposed, that we play not with an ambiguous word, that we remember what ordination is. And then you will see cause to distinguish, 1. Between entire, true ordination, and the external act, or words, or ceremony only. 2. Between one that was truly ordained before, and one that was not. And so I answer,

1. He that seemed ordained, and indeed was not, is not re-ordained when he is after-ordained.

2. It is needful therefore to know the essentials of ordination, from the integrals and accidentals.

3. He that was truly ordained before, may in some cases receive again the repetition of the bare words and outward ceremonies of ordination (as imposition of hands). Where I will, I. Tell you in what cases. II. Why.

{642} I. 1. In case there wanted sufficient witnesses of his ordination; and so the church hath not sufficient means of notice or satisfaction, that ever he was ordained indeed: or if the witnesses die before the notification. Whether the church should take his word or not, in such a case, is none of my question, but, Whether he should submit to the repetition if they will not.

2. Especially in a time and place (which I have known) when written and sealed orders are often counterfeited, and so the church called to extraordinary care.

3. Or if the church or magistrate be guilty of some causeless, culpable incredulity, and will not believe it was done till they see it done again.

4. Or in case that some real or supposed integral (though not essential) part was omitted, or is by the church or magistrate supposed to be omitted; and they will not permit or receive the minister to exercise his office, unless he repeat the whole action again, and make up that defect.

5. Or if the person himself do think that his ordination was insufficient, and cannot exercise his ministry to the satisfaction of his own conscience, till the defect be repaired.

In these cases (and perhaps such others) the outward action may be repeated.

II. The reasons are, 1. Because this is not a being twice ordained. For the word ordination, signifieth a moral action, and not a physical only; as the word marriage doth, &c. And it essentially includeth the new dedication and designation to the sacred office, by a kind of covenant between the dedicated person and Christ to whom he is consecrated and devoted. And the external words are but a part, and a part only as significant of the action of the mind. Now the oft expressing of the same mental dedication doth not make it to be as many distinct dedications. For, 1. If the liturgy or the person's words were tautological, or at the ordination should say the same thing often over and over, or for confirmation should say often that which else might be said but once, this doth not make it an often or multiplied ordination: it was but one love which Peter expressed, when Christ made him say thrice, that he loved him; nor was it a threefold ordination which Christ used, when he said thrice to him, "Feed my lambs and sheep."

2. And if thrice saying it that hour make it not three ordinations, neither will thrice saying it at more hours, days, or months, or years distance, in some cases; for the time maketh not the ordinations to be many; it is but one moral action. But the common error ariseth from the custom of calling the outward action alone by the name of the whole moral action (which is ordinarily done to the like deceit in the case of the baptismal covenant, and the Lord's supper).

3. The common judgment and custom of the world confirmeth what I say. If persons that are married should for want of witness or due solemnity be forced to say and do the outward action all over again, it is by no wise man taken in the proper, moral, full sense, for a second marriage, but for one marriage twice uttered.

And if you should in witness-bearing be put to your oath, and the magistrate that was absent should say, Reach him the book again, I did not hear him swear, the doing it twice is not morally two witnessings or oaths, but one only twice physically uttered.

If you bind your son apprentice, or if you make any indentures or contract, and the writings being lost or faulty, you write, and sign, and seal them all again, this is not morally another contract, but the same done better, or again recorded. And so it is plainly in this case.

4. But re-ordination morally and properly so called, is unlawful: for, (1.) It is (or implieth) a lie, viz. that we were not truly dedicated and separated to this office before.

(2.) It is a sacrilegious renunciation of our former dedication to God: whereas the ministerial dedication and covenant is for life, and not for a trial; which is the meaning of the indelible character, which is a perpetual relation and obligation.

(3.) It is a taking the name of God in vain; thus to do and undo, and do again; and to promise and renounce, and promise again, and to pretend to receive a power which we had before.

(4.) It tendeth to great confusions in the church; as to make the people doubt of their baptism, or all the ministerial administrations of such as are re-ordained, while they acted by the first ordination.

(5.) It hath ever been condemned in the churches of Christ, as the canons called the apostles', and the church's constant practice, testify.

5. Though the bare repetition of the outward action and words be not re-ordination, yet he that on any of the forementioned occasions is put to repeat the said words and actions, is obliged so to do it, as that it may not seem to be a re-ordination, and so be a scandal to the church. Or if it outwardly seem so by the action, he is bound to declare that it is no such thing, for the counterpoising that appearance of evil.

6. When the ordainers, or the common estimation of the church, do take the repetition of the words and action for a re-ordination, though the receiver so intend it not, yet it may become unlawful to him by this accident, because he scandalizeth and hardeneth the erroneous, by doing or receiving that which is interpretative re-ordination.

7. Especially when the ordainers shall require this repetition on notoriously wicked grounds, and so put that sense on the action by their own doctrines and demands: as for instance,

(1.) If heretics should (as the Arians) say that we are no ministers, because we are not of their heresy, or ordained by such as they.

(2.) If the pope or any proud papal usurpers shall say, You are no ministers of Christ, except we ordain you; and so do it to establish a traitorous, usurped regiment in the church; it is not lawful to serve such a usurpation. As if cardinals or archbishops should say, None are true ministers but those that we ordain; or councils or synods of bishops or presbyters should say, None are true ministers but those that we ordain; or if one presbyter or one bishop without authority would thus make himself master of the rest, or of other churches, and say, You are no ministers unless I ordain you; we may not promote such tyranny and usurpation.

(3.) If magistrates would usurp the power of the keys, in ecclesiastical ordination, and say that none but they have power to ordain, we may not encourage such pretences by repetition of the words and action.

(4.) If they would make something necessary to ordination which is not, as if it were a false oath, or false subscription or profession, or some unlawful ceremony, (as if it were anointing, wearing horns, or any the like,) and say, You are no ministers without these, and therefore you must be re-ordained to receive them.

(5.) Yea, if they declare our former ministry causelessly to be null, and say, You are no ministers till you are ordained again, and so publicly put this sense upon our action, that we take it as re-ordination; {643} all these accidents make the repetition of the words and actions to be unlawful, unless when greater accidents notoriously preponderate.

Quest. But if such church tyrants should have so great power, as that without their repetition of ordination on those terms, the ministry might not be exercised, is it lawful so to take it in a case of such necessity?

Answ. 1. Every seeming necessity to you, is not a necessity to the church. 2. Either you may publicly declare a contrary sense in your receiving their new orders or not.

1. If you may not as publicly declare that you renounce not your former ministry and dedication to God in that office, as the ordainers declare their sense of the nullity of it, so that your open declaration may free you from the guilt of seeming consent, I conceive it is a sinful compliance with their sin. 2. Yea, if you may so declare it, yet if there be no necessity of your ministerial liberty in that place, I think you may not take it on such terms. As, (1.) If there be worthy men enough to supply the church's wants there without you. (2.) And if you may serve God successfully in a persecuted state, though to the suffering of your flesh. (3.) Or if your imprisonment for preaching be like to be as serviceable to the church and gospel as your continued preaching on those scandalous terms. (4.) Or if you may remove and preach in another country.

8. When any such case doth fall out, in which the repetition of the outward action and words is lawful, it is not lawful to mix any false and scandalous expressions: as if we were required to say falsely, I accept this ordination as confessing myself no minister of Christ till now: or any such like.

9. In a word, a peaceable christian may do much as to the mere outward action and submission, for obedience, peace, order, or satisfaction to his own or other men's consciences. But, (1.) He may do nothing for good ends which is false and injurious to the church.[264] (2.) And he may not do that which otherwise were lawful, when it is for evil ends, or tendeth to more hurt than good; as to promote heresy, or church tyranny and usurpation, whether in pope, prelates, presbyters, or people.

[264]   1 Thess. v. 22; Gal. ii. 4, 5, 14.

Quest. XXII. How many ordainers are necessary to the validity of ordination by God's institution? whether one or more?

My question is not of the ancient canons, or any human laws or customs, for those are easily known; but of divine right. Now either God hath determined the case as to the number of ordainers necessary, or not. If not, either he hath given the church some general rule to determine it by, or not. If not, then the number is not any part of the divine order or law; and then, if we suppose that he hath determined the case as to the ordaining office and not to the number, then it will follow that one may serve. The truth I think may be thus explained.

1. There is Ordo officialis primarius, and Ordo ordinis, vel exercitii, vel secundarius; an order of office primary, and an order of exercise secondary, in the church. As to the first, the order of office, God hath determined that the ordaining officers, and no others, shall ordain officers, or give orders. And having not determined whether one or more, it followeth that the ordination of one sole lawful ordainer is no nullity on that account because it is but one, unless somewhat else nullify it.

2. God hath given general rules to the ordainers for the due exercise of their office, though he have not determined of any set number. Such as are these: that all things be done in judgment, truth, love, concord, to the church's edification, unity, and peace, &c.

3. According to these general laws, sometimes the ordination of one sole ordainer, may not only be valid but regular; as when there are no other to concur, or none whose concurrence is needful to any of the aforesaid ends. And sometimes the concurrence of many is needful, (1.) To the receiver's satisfaction. (2.) To the church's or people's satisfaction. (3.) To the concord of pastors, and of neighbour churches, &c. And in such cases such consent or concourse is the regular way.

4. Where there are many neighbour pastors and churches so near, as that he that is ordained in one of them, is like oft to pass and preach, and officiate obiter in others, and so other churches must have some communion with him, it is meetest that there be a concurrence in the ordination.

5. The ordainer is certainly a superior to the person that cometh to be ordained while he is a private man; and therefore so far his ordination is (as is said) an act of jurisdiction in the large sense, that is, of government; but whether he be necessarily his superior after he is ordained, hath too long been a controversy. It is certain that the papists confess, that the pope is ordained such by no superior; and it is not necessary that a bishop be ordained by one or more of any superior order (or jurisdiction either). And though the Italian papists hold that a superior papal jurisdiction must needs be the secondary fountain of the ordaining power, though the ordainer himself be but of the same order; yet protestants hold no such thing. And all acknowledge that as imposition of hands on a layman to make him a minister of Christ or an officer, is a kind of official generation,[265] so the ordained as a junior in office, is as it were a son to the ordainer, as the convert is said to be peculiarly to his converter; and that a proportionable honour is still to be given him. But whether he that ordaineth a presbyter, and not he that ordaineth or consecrateth a bishop, must needs be of a superior order or office, is a question which the reader must not expect me here to meddle with.

[265]   Ejusdem speciei vel inferioris: How then is the pope ordained or made?

Quest. XXIII. What if one bishop ordain a minister, and three, or many, or all the rest protest against it, and declare him no minister, or degrade him; is he to be received as a true minister or not?

Supposing that the person want no necessary personal qualification for the office, there are two things more in question; 1. His office, whether he be a minister. 2. His regularity, whether he came regularly to it; and also his comparative relation, whether this man or another is to be preferred. I answer therefore,

1. If the person be utterly incapable, the one bishop, or the many whosoever taketh him for incapable, is for the truth sake to be believed and obeyed.

2. If the man be excellently qualified, and his ministry greatly necessary to the church, whoever would deprive the church of him, be it the one or the many, is to be disobeyed, and the ordainers preferred.

Object. But who shall judge? Answ. The esse is before the scire; the thing is first true or false before I judge it to be so; and therefore whoever judgeth falsely in a case so notorious and weighty, as that the {644} welfare of the church and souls is (consideratis considerandis) injured and hazarded by his error, is not to be believed nor obeyed on pretence of order; because all christians have judicium discretionis, a discerning judgment.

3. But if the case be not thus to be determined by the person's notorious qualifications, then either it is, 1. The man ordained. 2. Or the people that the case is debated by, whether they should take him for a minister. 3. Or the neighbour ministers.

1. The person himself is, cæteris paribus, more to regard the judgment of many concordant bishops, than of one singular bishop; and therefore is not to take orders from a singular bishop, when the generality of the wise and faithful are against it; unless he be sure that it is some notorious faction or error that perverteth them, and that there be notorious necessity of his labour.

2. The auditors are either infidels to be converted, (and these will take no man upon any of their authorities,) or else christians converted. These are either of the particular charge of the singular bishop who ordaineth, or not; if they be, then pro tempore for order's sake, they owe him a peculiar obedience, till some further process or discovery disoblige them, (though the most be on the other side). But yet they may be still bound in reason most to suspect the judgment of their singular bishop, while for order's sake they submit to it. But if they are not of his flock, then, I suppose the judgment and act of many is to prevail so much against the act of a single and singular person, as that both neighbour ministers and people are to disown such an ordained person as unfit for their communion under the notion of a minister (because communion of churches is maintained by the concord of pastors). But whether the ordained man's ministry be, by their contradictory declaration or degradation, made an absolute nullity, to himself and those that submit to him, neither I will determine, nor should any other strangers to the particular case; for if he be rejected or degraded without such cause and proof as may satisfy other sober persons, he hath wrong; but if he be so degraded, on proved sufficient cause, to them that it is known to, he giveth the degraders the advantage.[266]

And as, 1. All particular members are to be obedient to their proper pastor.

2. And all particular churches are to hold correspondency and communion according to their capacity. So must men act in this and such like cases respectively according to the laws of obedience to their pastor, and of concord of the churches.

[266]   Eph. iv. 3; 1 Cor. xii; Rom. xiv. 17, 19; 1 Cor. xiv. 33; 1 Thess. v. 12, 13; Phil. ii. 1-3; Eph. iv. 15, 16; 1 Cor. i. 10.

Quest. XXIV. Hath one bishop power by divine right to ordain, degrade, or govern, or excommunicate, or absolve, in another's diocess or church, either by his consent, or against it? And doth a minister that officiateth in another's church, act as a pastor, and their pastor, or as a private man? And doth the ministerial office cease when a man removeth from his flock?

I thrust these questions all together for their affinity, and for brevity.

1. Every true minister of Christ, bishop or pastor, is related to the universal church by stronger obligations than to his particular charge; as the whole is better than the parts, and its welfare to be preferred.

2. He that is no pastor of a particular church, may be a pastor in the universal, obliged as a consecrated person to endeavour its good, by the works of his office, as he hath a particular opportunity and call.

3. Yet he that hath a particular charge is especially and nearlier related and obliged to that charge or church, than to any other part of the universal (though not than to the whole); and consequently hath a peculiar authority, where he hath a peculiar obligation and work.

4. He that is (without degrading) removed from a particular church, doth not cease to be a general minister and pastor related to the universal church; as a physician put out of an hospital charge, is a physician still. And therefore he needeth no new ordination, but only a special designation to his next particular charge.

5. No man is the bishop of a diocess as to the measure of ground, or the place, by divine right, that is, by any particular law or determination of God; but only a bishop of the church or people: for your office essentially containeth a relation to the people, but accidentally only to the place.

6. Yet natural convenience, and God's general laws of order and edification, do make it usually (but not always) best, and therefore a duty, to distinguish churches by the people's habitation: not taking a man for a member eo nomine, because he liveth on that ground; but for order's sake taking none for members that live not on that ground, and not intruding causelessly into each other's bounds.

7. He that by the call or consent of a neighbour pastor and people doth officiate (by preaching, sacraments, excommunication, or absolution) in another's special charge for a day, or week, or month, or more, without a fixed relation to that flock, doth neither officiate as a layman, nor yet unlawfully or irregularly; but, 1. As a minister of Christ in the church universal. 2. And as the pastor of that church for the present time only, though not statedly; even as a physician called to help another in his hospital, or to supply his place for the time, doth perform his work, 1. As a licensed physician. 2. And as the physician of that patient or hospital for that time, though not statedly.

8. No man is to intrude into another's charge without a call; much less to claim a particular stated oversight and authority. For though he be not a usurper as to the office in general, he is a usurper as to that particular flock. It is no error in ordination to say, Take thou authority to preach the word of God, and administer the holy sacraments, when thou shalt be thereto lawfully called; that is, when thou hast a particular call to the exercise, and to a fixed charge, as thou hast now a call to the office in general.

9. Yet every bishop or pastor by his relation to the church universal, and to mankind, and the interest of Christ, is bound not only as a christian, but as a pastor, to do his best for the common good; and not to cast wholly out of his care a particular church, because another hath the oversight of it. Therefore if a heretic get in, or the church fall to heresy, or any pernicious error or sin, the neighbour pastors are bound both by the law of nature and their office, to interpose their counsel as ministers of Christ, and to prefer the substance before pretended order, and to seek to recover the people's souls, though it be against their proper pastor's will. And in such a case of necessity, they may ordain, degrade, excommunicate, and absolve in another's charge, as if it were a vacuity.

10. Moreover it is one thing to excommunicate a man out of a particular church, and another thing {645} for many associated churches or neighbours to renounce communion with him. The special pastors of particular churches, having the government of those churches, are the special governing judges, who shall or shall not have communion as a member in their churches; but the neighbour pastors of other churches have the power of judging with whom they and their own flocks will or will not hold communion. As e. g. Athanasius may as governor of his flock declare any Arian member excommunicate, and require his flock to have no communion with him. And all the neighbour pastors (though they excommunicate not the same man as his special governors, yet) may declare to all their flocks, that if that man come among them, they will have no communion with him, and that at distance they renounce that distant communion which is proper to christians one with another, and take him for none of the church of Christ.[267]

[267]   1 Cor. v.; Tit. iii. 10; 2 Thess. iii. 6, 14; 2 John 10; Rev. ii. 14, 15, 20.

Quest. XXV. Whether canons be laws? and pastors have a legislative power?

All men are not agreed what a law is, that is, what is to be taken for the proper sense of that word. Some will have the name confined to such common laws as are stated, durable rules for the subject's actions: and some will extend it also to personal, temporary, verbal precepts and mandates, such as parents and masters use daily to the children and servants of their families. And of the first sort, some will confine the name laws to those acts of sovereignty which are about the common matters of the kingdom, or which no inferior officer may make: and others will extend it to those orders which by the sovereign's charter, a corporation, or college, or school may make for the subregulation of their particular societies and affairs.

I have declared my own opinion de nomine fully elsewhere, 1. That the definition of a law in the proper, general sense, is to be a sign or signification of the reason and will of the rector as such, to his subjects as such, instituting or antecedently determining what shall be due from them, and to them; Jus efficiendo, regularly making right.

2. That these laws are many more ways diversified and distinguished, (from the efficient, sign, subjects, matter, end, &c.) than is meet for us here to enumerate. It is sufficient now to say, 1. That stated regular laws, as distinct from temporary mandates and proclamations. 2. And laws for kingdoms and other commonwealths, in regard of laws for persons, schools, families, &c. 3. And laws made by the supreme power, as distinct from those made by the derived authority of colleges, corporations, &c. called by-laws or orders (for I will here say nothing of parents and pastors, whose authority is directly or immediately from the efficiency of nature in one, and divine institution in the other, and not derived efficiently from the magistrate or any man). 4. That laws about great, substantial matters, distinct from those about little and mutable circumstances, &c. I say the first sort, as distinct from the second, are laws so called by excellency above other laws. But that the rest are univocally to be called laws, according to the best definition of the law in genere. But if any man will speak otherwise, let him remember that it is yet but lis de nomine, and that he may use his liberty, and I will use mine. Now to the question.

1. Canons made by virtue of the pastoral office and God's general laws (in nature or Scripture) for regulating it, are a sort of laws to the subjects or flocks of those pastors.

2. Canons made by the votes of the laity of the church, or private part of that society as private, are no laws at all, but agreements; because they are not acts of any governing power.

3. Canons made by civil rulers about the circumstantials of the church, belonging to their office, as orderers of such things, are laws, and may be urged by moderate and meet civil or corporal penalties, and no otherwise.

4. Canons made by princes or inferior magistrates, are no laws purely and formally ecclesiastical, which are essentially acts of pastoral power; but only materially ecclesiastical, and formally magistratical.

5. No church officers as such, (much less the people,) can make laws with a co-active or coercive sanction; that is, to be enforced by their authority with the sword or any corporal penalty, mulct, or force; this being the sole privilege of secular powers, civil, or economical, or scholastic.

6. There is no obligation ariseth to the subject for particular obedience of any law, which is evidently against the laws of God (in nature or holy Scripture).

7. They are no laws which pastors make to people out of their power: as the popes, &c.

8. There is no power on earth under Christ, that hath authority to make universal laws; to bind the whole church on all the earth; or all mankind. Because there is no universal sovereign, civil or spiritual, personal or collective.

9. Therefore it is no schism, but loyalty to Christ, to renounce or separate from such a society of usurpation; nor any disobedience or rebellion, to deny them obedience.

10. Pastors may and must be obeyed in things lawful as magistrates, if the king make them magistrates: though I think it unmeet for them to accept a magistracy with the sword, except in case of some rare necessity.

11. If pope, patriarchs, or pastors shall usurp any of the king's authority, loyalty to Christ and him, and the love of the church and state, oblige us to take part with Christ and the king against such usurpation, but only by lawful means, in the compass of our proper place and calling.

12. The canons made by the councils of many churches, have a double nature: as they are made for the people and the subjects of the pastors, they are a sort of laws; that is, they oblige by the derived authority of the pastors; because the pastors of several churches do not lose any of their power by their assembling, but exercise it with the greater advantage of concord. But as they are made only to oblige the present or absent pastors who separatedly are of equal office power, so they are no laws, except in an equivocal sense, but only agreements or contracts.[268] So Bishop Usher professed his judgment to be; and before him the council of Carthage in Cyprian's time; but it needs no proof, any more than that a convention of kings may make no laws to bind the kings of England, but contracts only.

13. But yet we are aliunde obliged even by God, to keep these agreements in things lawful, for the church's peace and concord, when greater contrary reasons, a fine, do not disoblige us. For when God saith, You shall keep peace and concord, and keep lawful covenants, the canons afford us the minor, But these are lawful contracts or agreements, and means of the church's peace and concord; therefore (saith God's law) you shall observe them. So though the contracts (as of husband and wife, buyer and seller, &c.) be not laws, yet that is a law of God which bindeth us to keep them.

{646} 14. Seeing that even the obliging commands of pastors may not by them be enforced by the sword, but work by the power of divine authority or commission manifested, and by holy reason and love, therefore it is most modest and fit for pastors (who must not lord it over God's heritage, but be examples to all[269]) to take the lower name of authoritative directions and persuasions, rather than of laws; especially in a time when papal usurpation maketh such ruinating use of that name, and civil magistrates use to take it in the nobler and narrower sense.

The questions, 1. If one pastor make orders for his church, and the multitudes or synods be against them; which must be obeyed, you may gather from what is said before of ordination. And, 2. What are the particulars proper, materially, to the magistrate's decision, and what to the pastor's? I here pass by.

[268]   Grotius de imperio sum. pot. circ. sacr. most solidly resolveth this question.

[269]   1 Pet. v. 2, 3; 2 Cor. i. 24.

Quest. XXVI. Whether church canons, or pastors' directive determinations of matters pertinent to their office, do bind the conscience? and what accidents will disoblige the people? you may gather before in the same case about magistrates' laws, in the political directions: as also by an impartial transferring the case to the precepts of parents and schoolmasters to children; without respect to their power of the rod (or supposing that they had none such).

Quest. XXVII. What are Christ's appointed means of the unity and concord of the universal church, and consequently of its preservation, if there be no human universal head and governor of it upon earth? And if Christ have instituted none such, whether prudence and the law of nature oblige not the church to set up and maintain a universal ecclesiastical monarchy or aristocracy; seeing that which is every man's work, is as no man's, and omitted by all?

I. To the first question I must refer you in part to two small, popular, yet satisfactory Tractates,[270] written long ago, that I do not one thing too oft. Briefly now,

1. The unity of the universal church, is founded in and maintained by their common relation to Christ the head (as the kingdom in its relation to the king).

2. A concord in degrees of goodness, and in integrals and accidentals of christianity, will never be obtained on earth, where the church is still imperfect; and perfect holiness and wisdom are necessary to perfect harmony and concord, Phil. iii. 12-14.

3. Experience hath long taught the church, if it will learn, that the claim of a papal headship and government over the church universal, hath been the famous incendiary and hinderer of concord in the christian world.

4. The means to attain such a measure of concord and harmony which is to be hoped for, or endeavoured upon earth, I have so distinctly, fully, and yet briefly described (with the contrary impediments) in my treatise of the "Reasons of Christian Religion," part vii. chap. 14. p. 470, 471, in about two leaves, that I will not recite them. If you say, you are not bound to read the books which I refer you to; I answer, Nor this.

II. To the latter question I answer, To set up such an universal head on the supposition of natural reasons and human policy is, 1. To cross Christ's institution, and the laws of the Holy Ghost, as hath been long proved by protestants from the Scripture.

2. It is treason against Christ's sovereign office to usurp such a vicegerency without his commission.

3. It is against the notorious light of nature, which telleth us of the natural incapacity of mortal man, to be such a universal governor through the world.

4. It is to sin against long and dreadful common experience, and to keep in that fire that hath destroyed emperors, kings, and kingdoms, and set the churches, pastors, and christian world in those divisions, which are the great and serviceable work of Satan, and the impediment of the church's increase, purity, and peace, and the notorious shame of the christian profession in the eyes of the infidel world.

And if so many hundred years' sad experience will not answer them that say, If the pope were a good man, he might unite us all, I conclude that such deserve to be deceived, 2 Thess. ii. 10-12.

[270]   "Catholic unity," and "the True Catholic and Church described."

Quest. XXVIII. Who is the judge of controversies in the church? 1. About the exposition of the Scripture, and doctrinal points in themselves: 2. About either heresies or wicked practices, as they are charged on the persons who are accused of them; that is, 1. Antecedently to our practice, by way of regulation; 2. Or consequently, by judicial sentence (and execution) on offenders.

I have answered this question so oft, that I can persuade myself to no more than this short, yet clear solution.

The papists used to cheat poor, unlearned persons that cannot justly discern things that differ, by puzzling them with this confused, ambiguous question. Some things they cunningly and falsely take for granted, as that there is such a thing on earth as a political, universal church, headed by any mortal governor. Some things they shuffle together in equivocal words. They confound, 1. Public judgment of decision, and private judgment of discerning. 2. The magistrate's judgment of church-controversies, and the pastor's, and the several cases, and ends, and effects of their several judgments. 3. Church-judgment as directive to a particular church, and as a means of the concord of several churches. Which being but distinguished, a few words will serve to clear the difficulty.

1. As there is no universal human church, (constituted or governed by a mortal head,) so there is no power set up by Christ to be a universal judge of either sort of controversies, by decisive judicial sentence, nor any universal civil monarch of the world.

2. The public, governing, decisive judgment, obliging others, belongeth to public persons, or officers of God, and not to any private man.[271]

3. The public decision of doubts or controversies about faith itself, or the true sense of God's word and laws, as obliging the whole church on earth to believe that decision, or not gainsay it, because of the infallibility or governing authority of the deciders, belongeth to none but Jesus Christ; because, as is said, he hath made no universal governor, nor infallible expositor.[272] It belongeth to the lawgiver only to make such a universally obliging exposition of his own laws.

4. True bishops or pastors in their own particular churches are authorized teachers and guides, in expounding the laws and word of Christ; and the people are bound as learners to reverence their teaching, and not contradict it without true cause; yea, and to believe them fide humana, in things pertinent to their office: for oportet discentem credere.

{647} 5. No such pastors are to be absolutely believed, nor in any case of notorious error or heresy, where the word of God is discerned to be against them.

6. For all the people as reasonable creatures, have a judgment of private discerning to judge what they must receive as truth, and to discern their own duty, by the help of the word of God, and of their teachers.

7. The same power of governing judgment lawful synods have over their several flocks, as a pastor over his own, but with greater advantage.

8. The power of judging in many consociate churches, who is to be taken into communion as orthodox, and who to be refused by those churches as heretics, in specie, that is, what doctrine they will judge sound or unsound, as it is judicium discernendi, belongeth to every one of the council singly: as it is a judgment obliging themselves by contract, (and not of governing each other,) it is in the contracters and consenters; and for peace and order usually in the major vote; but with the limitations before expressed.

9. Every true christian believeth all the essentials of christianity, with a divine faith, and not by a mere human belief of his teachers, though by their help and teaching his faith is generated, and confirmed, and preserved. Therefore no essential article of christianity is left to any obliging decision of any church, but only to a subservient obliging teaching: as whether there be a God, a Christ, a heaven, a hell, an immortality of souls? Whether God be to be believed, loved, feared, obeyed before man? Whether the Scripture be God's word, and true? Whether those that contradict it are to be believed therein? Whether pastors, assemblies, public worship, baptism, sacrament of the Lord's supper, be divine institutions? And the same I may say of any known word of God: no mortals may judge in partem utramlibet, but the pastors are only authorized teachers and helpers of the people's faith. (And so they be partly to one another.)

10. If the pope, or his council, were the infallible or the governing expositors of all God's laws and Scriptures, 1. God would have enabled them to do it by a universal commentary which all men should be obliged to believe, or at least not to contradict. For there is no authority and obligation given to men (yea, to so many successively) to do that (for the needful decision of controversies) which they never have ability given them to do. For that were to oblige them to things impossible. 2. And the pope and his council would be the most treacherous miscreants on earth, that in so many hundred years, would never write such an infallible nor governing commentary, to end the differences of the christian world. Indeed they have judged (with others) against Arius, that Christ is true God, and one with the Father in substance, &c. But if they had said the contrary, must we have taken it for God's truth, or have believed them?

11. To judge who, for heresy or scandal, shall be punished by the sword, belongeth to none but the magistrate in his own dominions: as to judge who shall have communion or be excommunicated from the church, belongeth, as aforesaid, to the pastors. And the said magistrate hath first as a man his own judgment of discerning what is heresy, and who of his subjects are guilty of it, in order to his public governing judgment.

12. The civil, supreme ruler may antecedently exercise this judgment of discerning (by the teaching of their proper teachers) in order to his consequent sentences on offenders; and so in his laws may tell the subjects, what doctrines and practices he will either tolerate or punish. And thus may the church pastors do in their canons to their several flocks, in relation to communion or non-communion.

13. He that will condemn particular persons as heretics or offenders, must allow them to speak for themselves, and hear the proofs, and give them that which justice requireth, &c. And if the pope can do so at the antipodes, and in all the world, either per se, or per alium, without giving that other his essential claimed power, let him prove it by better experience than we have had.

14. As the prime and sole universal legislation belongeth to Jesus Christ, so the final judgment, universal and particular, belongeth to him, which only will end all controversies, and from which there is no appeal.

[271]   Eph. iv. 7, 13-16; 1 Cor. xii. 28, 29; Acts xv. 17.

[272]   See my "Key for Catholics."

Quest. XXIX. Whether a parent's power over his children, or a pastor or many pastors or bishops over the same children, as parts of their flock, be greater, or more obliging in matters of religion and public worship?

This being touched on somewhere else, I only now say, That if the case were my own, I would, 1. Labour to know their different powers, as to the matter commanded, and obey each in that which is proper to its place.

2. If I were young and ignorant, natural necessity, and natural obligation together, would give my parents with whom I lived such an advantage above the minister (whom I seldom see or understand) as would determine the case de eventu, and much de jure.

3. If my parents command me to hear a teacher who is against ceremonies or certain forms, and to hear none that are for them, natural necessity here also (ordinarily) would make it my duty first to hear and obey my parents; and in many other cases, till I came to understand the greater power of the pastors, in their own place and work.

4. But when I come to church, or know that the judgment of all concordant godly pastors condemneth such a thing as damnable heresy or sin, which my father commandeth me to receive and profess, I would more believe and follow the judgment of the pastors and churches.

Quest. XXX. May an office teacher or pastor be at once in a stated relation of a pastor and a disciple to some other pastor?

1. That Timothy was still Paul's son in point of learning, and his disciple, and so that under apostles the same persons might be stated in both relations at once, seemeth evident in Scripture.

2. But the same that is a pastor is not at once a mere layman.

3. That men in the same office may so differ in age, experience, and degrees of knowledge, as that young pastors may, and often ought, many years to continue, not only in occasional reception of their help, but also in an ordinary stated way of receiving it, and so be related to them as their ordinary teachers, by such gradual advantages, is past all doubt. And that all juniors and novices owe a certain reverence and audience, and some obedience, to the elder and wiser.

4. But this is not to be a disciple to him as in lower order or office, but as of lower gifts and grace.

5. It is lawful and very good for the church, that some ordained persons continue long as pupils to their tutors in schools or academies (e. g. to learn the holy languages, if they have them not, &c.) But this is a relation left to voluntary contractors.

6. In the ancient churches the particular churches {648} had one bishop, and some presbyters and deacons, usually of much lower parts, who lived all together (single or chaste) in the bishop's or church house, which was as a college, where he daily edified them by doctrine and example.

7. The controversy about different orders by divine institution, belongeth not to me here to meddle with: but as to the natural and acquired imparity of age and gifts, and the unspeakable benefit to the juniors and the churches, that it is desirable that there were such a way of their education and edification, I take to be discernible to any that are impartial and judicious.

Ambrose was at once a teacher and a learner, Beda, Eccl. Hist. mentioneth one in England, that was at once a pastor and disciple. And in Scotland some that became bishops were still to be under the government of the abbot of their monasteries according to their first devotion, though the abbot was but a presbyter.

8. Whether a settled, private church member may not at once continue his very formal relation to the pastor of that church, and yet be of the same order with him in another church, as their pastor, at the same time, (as he may in case of necessity continue his apprenticeship or civil service,) is a case that I will not determine. But he that denieth it, must prove his opinion (or affirmation of its unlawfulness) by sufficient evidence from Scripture or nature; which is hard.

Quest. XXXI. Who hath the power of making church canons?

This is sufficiently resolved before. 1. The magistrate only hath the power of making such canons or laws for church matters as shall be enforced by the sword.

2. Every pastor hath power to make canons for his own congregation; that is, to determine what hour or at what place they shall meet; what translation of Scripture, or version of Psalms, shall be used in his church; what chapter shall be read; what psalm shall be sung, &c.: except the magistrate contradict him, and determine it otherwise, in such points as are not proper to the ministerial office.

3. Councils or assemblies of pastors have the power of making such canons for many churches, as shall be laws to the people, and agreements to themselves.

4. None have power to make church laws or canons about any thing, save, (1.) To put God's own laws in execution. (2.) To determine to that end, of such circumstances as God hath left undetermined in his word.

5. Canon-making under pretence of order and concord, hath done a great deal of mischief to the churches; whilst clergymen have grown up from agreements, to tyrannical usurpations and impositions, and from concord about needful accidents of worship, to frame new worship ordinances, and to force them on all others: but especially, (1.) By encroaching on the power of kings, and telling them that they are bound in conscience to put all their canons into execution by force. (2.) And by laying the union of the churches and the communion of christians upon things needless and doubtful, yea, and at last on many sinful things; whereby the churches have been most effectually divided, and the christian world set together by the ears; and schisms, yea, and wars have been raised: and these maladies cannot possibly be healed, till the tormenting, tearing engines be broken and cast away, and the voluminous canons of numerous councils (which themselves also are matter of undeterminable controversy) be turned into the primitive simplicity; and a few necessary things made the terms of concord. Doubtless if every pastor were left wholly to himself for the ordering of worship circumstances and accidents in his own church, without any common canons, save the Scriptures, and the laws of the land, there would have been much less division, than that is, which these numerous canons of all the councils, obtruded on the church, have made.

Quest. XXXII. Doth baptism as such enter the baptized into the universal church, or into a particular church, or both? And is baptism the particular church covenant as such?

Answ. 1. Baptism as such doth enter us into the universal church, and into it alone; and is no particular church covenant, but the solemnizing of the great christian covenant of grace, between God, and a believer and his seed.

For, (1.) There is not essentially any mention of a particular church in it.

(2.) A man may be baptized by a general unfixed minister, who is not the pastor of any particular church:[273] and he may be baptized in solitude, where there is no particular church. The eunuch, Acts viii. was not baptized into any particular church.

(3.) Baptism doth but make us christians, but a man may be a christian who is no member of any particular church.

(4.) Otherwise baptism should oblige us necessarily to a man, and be a covenant between the baptized and the pastor and church into which he is baptized: but it is only our covenant with Christ.

(5.) We may frequently change our particular church relation, without being baptized again. But we never change our relation to the church which we are baptized into, unless by apostasy.

2. Yet the same person at the same time that he is baptized may be entered into the universal church, and into a particular; and ordinarily it ought to be so where it can be had.

3. And the covenant which we make in baptism with Christ, doth oblige us to obey him, and consequently to use his instituted means, and so to hear his ministers, and hold due communion with his churches.

4. But this doth no more enter us into a particular church, than into a particular family. For we as well oblige ourselves to obey him in family relations as in church relations.

5. When the baptized therefore is at once entered into the universal and particular church, it is done by a double consent to the double relation. By baptism he professeth his consent to be a member of Christ and his universal church; and additionally he consenteth to be guided by that particular pastor in that particular church; which is another covenant or consent.

[273]   Matt. xxviii. 19, 20.

Quest. XXXIII. Whether infants should be baptized, I have answered long ago in a treatise on that subject. Also what infants should be baptized? and who have right to sacraments? and whether hypocrites are univocally or equivocally christians and church members? I have resolved in my "Disput. of Right to Sacraments."

Quest. XXXIV. Whether an unbaptized person who yet maketh a public profession of christianity, be a member of the visible church? And so of the infants of believers unbaptized.

{649} Answ. 1. Such persons have a certain imperfect, irregular kind of profession, and so of membership; their visibility or visible christianity is not such as Christ hath appointed. As those that are married, but not by legal celebration, and as those that in cases of necessity are ministers without ordination; so are such christians as Constantine and many of old without baptism.

2. Such persons ordinarily are not to be admitted to the rights and communion of the visible church, because we must know Christ's sheep by his own mark; but yet they are so far visible christians, as that we may be persuaded nevertheless of their salvation. As to visible communion, they have but a remote and incomplete jus ad rem, and no jus ad re, or legal investiture and possession.

3. The same is the case of unbaptized infants of believers, because they are not of the church merely as they are their natural seed; but because it is supposed that a person himself devoted to God, doth also devote his children to God: therefore not nature only, but this supposition arising from the true nature of his own dedication to God, is the reason why believers' children have their right to baptism: therefore till he hath actually devoted them to God in baptism, they are not legally members of the visible church, but only in fieri and imperfectly, as is said. Of which more anon.

Quest. XXXV. Is it certain by the word of God that all infants baptized, and dying before actual sin, are undoubtedly saved; or what infants may we say so of?

Answ. I. 1. We must distinguish between certainty objective and subjective; or plainlier, the reality or truth of the thing, and the certain apprehension of it.[274]

2. And this certainty of apprehension, sometimes signifieth only the truth of that apprehension, when a man indeed is not deceived, or more usually that clearness of apprehension joined with truth, which fully quieteth the mind and excludeth doubting.

3. We must distinguish of infants as baptized lawfully upon just title, or unlawfully without title.

4. And also of title before God, which maketh a lawful claim and reception at his bar; and title before the church, which maketh only the administration lawful before God, and the reception lawful only in foro ecclesia, or externo.

5. The word baptism signifieth either the external part only, consisting in the words and outward action, or the internal covenanting of the heart also.

6. And that internal covenant is either sincere, which giveth right to the benefits of God's covenant, or only partial, reserved, and unsound, such as is common to hypocrites.

Conclus. 1. God hath been pleased to speak so little in Scripture of the case of infants, that modest men will use the words certainly and undoubtedly, about their case, with very great caution. And many great divines have maintained that their very baptism itself, cannot be certainly and undoubtedly proved by the word of God, but by tradition; though I have endeavoured to prove the contrary in a special Treatise on that point.

2. No man can tell what is objectively certain or revealed in God's word, who hath not subjective certainty or knowledge of it.

3. A man's apprehension may be true, when it is but a wavering opinion, with the greatest doubtfulness. Therefore we do not usually by a certain apprehension, mean only a true apprehension, but a clear and quieting one.

4. It is possible to baptize infants unlawfully, or without any right, so that their reception and baptizing shall be a great sin, as is the misapplying of other ordinances. For instance: one in America, where there is neither church to receive them, nor christian parents, nor sponsors, may take up the Indians' children and baptize them against the parents' wills: or if the parents consent to have their children outwardly baptized, and not themselves, as not knowing what baptizing meaneth, or desire it only for outward advantages to their children; or if they offer them to be baptized only in open derision and scorn of Christ; such children have no right to be received. And many other instances nearer may be given.

5. It is possible the person may have no authority at all from Christ who doth baptize them. And Christ's part in reception of the person, and collation and investiture in his benefits, must be done by his commission, or else how can we say that Christ doth it? But open infidels, women, children, mad-men, scorners, may do it that have none of his commission.

6. That all infants baptized without title or right by misapplication, and so dying, are not undoubtedly saved, nor any word of God doth certainly say so, we have reason to believe on these following grounds.

1. Because we can find no such text, nor could ever prevail with them that say so, to show us such an ascertaining word of God.

2. Because else gross sin would certainly be the way to salvation. For such misapplication of baptism, by the demanders at least, would certainly be gross sin, as well as misapplying the Lord's supper.

3. Because it is clean contrary to the tenor of the new covenant, which promiseth salvation to none but penitent believers and their seed: what God may do for others unknown to us, we have nothing to do with; but his covenant hath made no other promise that I can find; and we are certain of no man's salvation by baptism, to whom God never made a promise of it. If by the children of the faithful, be meant not only their natural seed, but the adopted or bought also, of which they are true proprietors, yet that is nothing to all others.

4. To add to God's words, especially to his very promise or covenant, is so terrible a presumption, as we dare not be guilty of.

5. Because this tieth grace or salvation so to the outward washing of the body, or opus operatum, as is contrary to the nature of God's ordinances, and to the tenor of Scripture, and the judgment of the protestant divines.

6. Because this would make a strange disparity between the two sacraments of the same covenant of grace: when a man receiveth the Lord's supper unworthily, (in scorn, in drunkenness, or impenitency,) much more without any right, (as infidels,) he doth eat and drink damnation or judgment to himself, and maketh his sin greater; therefore he that gets a child baptized unworthily and without right, doth not therefore infallibly procure his salvation.

7. Because the apostle saith, 1 Cor. vii. 14, "Else were your children unclean, but now are they holy;" and the Scripture giveth this privilege to the children of the faithful above others: whereas the contrary opinion levelleth them with the seed of infidels and heathens, as if these had right to salvation by mere baptism, as well as the others.

8. Because else it would be the greatest act of charity in the world, to send soldiers to catch up all heathens' and infidels' children, and baptize them; which no christians ever yet thought their duty. {650} Yea, it would be too strong a temptation to them to kill them when they had done, that they might be all undoubtedly saved.

Object. But that were to do evil that good might come by it. Answ. But God is not to be dishonoured as to be supposed to make such laws, as shall forbid men the greatest good in the world, and then to tempt them by the greatness of the benefit to take it to be no evil: as if he said, If soldiers would go take up a million of heathens' children and baptize them, it will put them into an undoubted state of salvation; but yet I forbid them doing it: and if they presently kill them, lest they sin after, they shall undoubtedly be saved; but yet I forbid them doing it. I need not aggravate this temptation to them that know the power of the law of nature, which is the law of love and good works, and how God that is most good is pleased in our doing good. Though he tried Abraham's obedience once, as if he should have killed his son, yet he stopped him before the execution. And doth he ordinarily exercise men's obedience, by forbidding them to save the souls of others, when it is easily in their power? especially when with the adult the greatest labour and powerfullest preaching, is frequently so frustrate, that not one of many is converted by it?

9. Because else God should deal with unaccountable disparity with infants and the adult in the same ordinance of baptism. It is certain that all adult persons baptized, if they died immediately, should not be saved; even none that had no right to the covenant and to baptism; such as infidels, heathens, impenitent persons, hypocrites, that have not true repentance and faith. And why should baptism save an infant without title, any more than the adult without title? I still suppose that some infants have no title, and that now I speak of them alone.

Object. But the church giveth them all right by receiving them.

Answ. This is to be further examined anon. If you mean a particular church, perhaps they are baptized into none such. Baptism as such is a reception only into the universal church, as in the eunuch's case, Acts viii. appeareth. If you mean the universal church, it may be but one single ignorant man in an infidel country that baptizeth, and he is not the universal church! yea, perhaps is not a lawfully called minister of that church! However, this is but to say, that baptism giveth right to baptism; for this receiving is nothing but baptizing. But there must be a right to this reception, if baptism be a distinguishing ordinance, and all the world have not right to it. Christ saith, Matt. xxviii. 19, "Disciple me all nations, baptizing them—:" they must be initially made disciples first, by consent, and then be invested in the visible state of christianity by baptism.

10. If the children of heathens have right to baptism, and salvation thereby, it is either, 1. As they are men, and all have right; or, 2. Because the parents give them right; 3. Or because remote ancestors give them right; 4. Or because the universal church gives them right; 5. Or because a particular church gives them right; 6. Or because the sponsors give them right; 7. Or the magistrate; 8. Or the baptizer. But it is none of all these, as shall anon be proved.

11. But as to the second question, I answer, 1. It will help us to understand the case the better, if we prepare the way by opening the case of the adult, because in Scripture times, they were the most famous subjects of baptism. And it is certain of such, 1. That every one outwardly baptized is not in a state of salvation. That no hypocrite that is not a true penitent believer is in such a state. 2. That every true penitent believer is before God in a state of salvation, as soon as he is such; and before the church as soon as he is baptized. 3. That we are not to use the word baptism as a physical term only, but as a moral, theological term. Because words (as in law, physic, &c.) are to be understood according to the art or science in which they are treated of. And baptism taken theologically doth as essentially include the will's consent or heart covenanting with God, as matrimony includeth marriage consent, and as a man containeth the soul as well as the body. And thus it is certain that all truly baptized persons are in a state of salvation; that is, all that sincerely consent to the baptismal covenant when they profess consent by baptism (but not hypocrites). 4. And in this sense all the ancient pastors of the churches did concur that baptism did wash away all sin, and put the baptized into a present right to life eternal: as he that examineth their writings will perceive: not the outward washing and words alone, but when the inward and outward parts concur, or when by true faith and repentance the receiver hath right to the covenant of God. 5. In this sense it is no unfit language to imitate the fathers, and to say that the truly baptized are in a state of justification, adoption, and salvation, unless when men's misunderstanding maketh it unsafe. 6. The sober papists themselves say the same thing, and when they have said that even ex opere operato baptism saveth, they add, that it is only the meet receiver; that is, the penitent believer, and no other of the adult. So that hitherto there is no difference.

2. Now let us by this try the case of infants; concerning which there are all these several opinions among divines.

(1.) Some think that all infants (baptized or not) are saved from hell, and positive punishment, but are not brought to heaven, as being not capable of such joys.

(2.) Some think that all infants (dying such) are saved as others are, by actual felicity in heaven, though in a lower degree. Both these sorts suppose that Christ's death saveth all that reject it not, and that infants reject it not.

(3.) Some think that all unbaptized infants do suffer the pœnam damni, and are shut out of heaven and happiness, but not sensibly punished or cast into hell. For this Jansenius hath wrote a treatise; and many other papists think so.

(4.) Some think that all the children of sincere believers dying in infancy are saved, (that is, glorified,) whether baptized or not; and no others.

(5.) Some think that God hath not at all revealed what he will do with any infants.

(6.) Some think that he hath promised salvation as aforesaid to believers and their seed, but hath not at all revealed to us what he will do with all the rest.

(7.) Some think that only the baptized children of true believers are certainly (by promise) saved.

(8.) Some think that all the adopted and bought children of true christians, as well as the natural, are saved (if baptized, say some; or if not, say others).

(9.) Some think that elect infants are saved, and no other, but no man can know who those are. And of these, 1. Some deny infant baptism. 2. Most say that they are to be baptized, and that thereby the non-elect are only received into the visible church and its privileges, but not to any promise or certainty of justification, or a state of salvation.

(10.) Some think that all that are baptized by the dedication of christian sponsors are saved.

(11.) Some think that all that the pastor dedicateth to God are saved (because so dedicated by him, say {651} some; or because baptized ex opere operato, say others). And so all baptized infants are in a state of salvation.

(12.) Some think that this is to be limited to all that have right to baptism coram Deo; which some think the church's reception giveth them, of which anon.

(13.) And some think it is to be limited to those that have right coram ecclesia, or are rightfully baptized ex parte ministrantis, where some make the magistrate's command sufficient, and some the bishop's, and some the baptizer's will.

Of the title to baptism I shall speak anon. Of the salvation of infants, it is too tedious to confute all that I dissent from: not presuming in such darkness and diversity of opinions to be peremptory, nor to say, I am certain by the word of God who are undoubtedly saved, nor yet to deny the undoubted certainty of wiser men, who may know that which such as I do doubt of, but submitting what I say to the judgment of the church of God and my superiors, I humbly lay down my own thoughts as followeth.

1. I think that there can no promise or proof be produced that all unbaptized infants are saved, either from the pœna damni or sensus, or both.

2. I think that no man can prove that all unbaptized infants are damned, or denied heaven. Nay, I think I can prove a promise of the contrary.

3. All that are rightfully baptized in foro externo are visible church members, and have ecclesiastical right to the privileges of the visible church.

4. I think Christ never instituted baptism for collation of these outward privileges alone, unless as on supposition that persons culpably fail of the better ends.

5. I think baptism is a solemn mutual contract or covenant between Christ and the baptized person. And that it is but one covenant, even the covenant of grace which is the sum of the gospel, which is sealed and received in baptism; and that this covenant essentially containeth our saving relation to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and our pardon, justification, and adoption or right to life everlasting; and that God never made any distinct covenant of outward privileges alone, to be sealed by baptism. But that outward mercies are the second and lesser gift of the same covenant which giveth first the great and saving blessings.

6. And therefore that whoever hath right before God, to claim and receive baptism, hath right also to the benefits of the covenant of God, and that is, to salvation; though I say not so of every one that hath such right before the church, as that God doth require the minister to baptize him. For by right before God, or in foro cœli, I mean such a right as will justify the claim before God immediately, the person being one whom he commandeth in that present state to claim and receive baptism. For many a one hath no such right before God to claim or receive it, when yet the minister hath right to give it them if they do claim it.

The case stands thus. God saith in his covenant, He that believeth shall be saved, and ought to be baptized, to profess that belief, and be invested in the benefits of the covenant; and he that professeth to believe, (whether he do or not,) is by the church to be taken for a visible believer, and by baptism to be received into the visible church. Here God calleth none but true believers (and their seed) to be baptized, nor maketh an actual promise or covenant with any other; and so I say that none other have right in foro cœli. But yet the church knoweth not men's hearts, and must take a serious profession for a credible sign of the faith professed, and for that outward title upon which it is a duty of the pastor to baptize the claimer.[275] So that the most malignant, scornful hypocrite, that maketh a seemingly serious profession, hath right coram ecclesia, but not coram Deo, save in this sense, that God would have the minister baptize him. But this I have largelier opened in my "Disputations of Right to Sacraments."

7. I think therefore that all the children of true christians, do by baptism receive a public investiture by God's appointment into a state of remission, adoption, and right to salvation at the present; though I dare not say that I am undoubtedly certain of it, as knowing how much is said against it. But I say as the synod of Dort, art. 1. That believing parents have no cause to doubt of the salvation of their children that die in infancy, before they commit actual sin; that is, not to trouble themselves with fears about it.

The reasons that move me to be of this judgment (though not without doubting and hesitancy) are these; 1. Because whoever hath right to the present investiture, delivery, and possession of the first and great benefits of God's covenant made with man in baptism, hath right to pardon, and adoption, and everlasting life: but the infants of true christians have right to the present investiture, delivery and possession of the first and great benefits of God's covenant made with man in baptism; therefore they have right to pardon and everlasting life.

Either infants are in the same covenant (that is, are subjects of the same promise of God) with their believing parents, or in some other covenant, or in no covenant. If they be under no covenant, (or promise,) or under some other promise or covenant only, and not the same, they are not to be baptized. For baptism is a mutual covenanting; where the minister by Christ's commission in his name acteth his part, and the believer his own and his infant's part: and God hath but one covenant, which is to be made, sealed, and delivered in baptism. Baptism is not an equivocal word, so as to signify divers covenants of God.

Object. But the same covenant of God hath divers sorts of benefits; the special God giveth to the sincere, and the common to the common and hypocritical receiver.

Answ. 1. God indeed requireth the minister to take profession for the visible church title; and so it being the minister's duty so far to believe a liar, and to receive dissemblers who had no right to lay that claim, you may say that God indirectly and improperly giveth them church privileges: but properly, that is, by his promise or covenant deed or gift, he giveth them nothing at all; for his covenant is one and undivided in its action, though it give several benefits, and though providence may give one and not another, yet the covenant giveth all or none. God saith that godliness hath the promise of this life and of that to come; but he never said (that I know of) to the hypocrite or unsound believer, I promise or give right to common mercies.[276]

2. But suppose it were otherwise, yet either the children of true believers have the true condition of right to the special blessings of the covenant, or {652} they have not the condition of any at all. For there can no more be required of an infant, as to any special blessings of the covenant, than that he be the child of believing parents, and by them dedicated to God. Either this condition entitleth them to all the covenant promises which the adult believer is entitled to, (as far as their natures are capable,) or it entitleth them to none at all; nor are they to be baptized; for God hath in Scripture instituted but one baptism, (to profess one faith,) and that one is ever for the remission of sins:[277] "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," Mark xvi. 16.

3. Or if all the rest were granted you, yet it would follow that all infants in the world, even of true believers, are left out of God's covenant of grace, that is, the covenant or promise of pardon and life; and are only taken into the covenant of church privileges. And so, 1. You will make two covenants, (which you denied,) and not only two sorts of benefits of one covenant. 2. And two species of baptism; while all infants in the world are only under a covenant of outward privileges, and have no baptism, but the seal of that covenant, while believers have the covenant, promise, and seal of pardon and life.

2. And this is my second reason; because then we have no promise or certainty, or ground of faith, for the pardon and salvation of any individual infants in the world. And so parents are left to little comfort for their children. And if there be no promise there is no faith of it, nor any baptism to seal it; and so we still make antipædobaptism unavoidable. For who dare set God's seal to such as have no promise? or pretend to invest any in a near and saving relation to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, (which is the very nature of baptism,) when God hath given no such commission?

Object. Yes: baptism and the covenant of special promises are for all the elect, though we know not who they are.

Answ. 1. I deny not God's eternal, antecedent election; but I deny that the Scripture ever mentioneth his pardoning or glorifying any, upon the account of election only, without certain spiritual conditions, which may be given as the reason of the difference in judgment. God may freely give the gospel to whom he will, and also faith or the first grace by the gospel, without any previous condition in man, but according to his free election only: but he giveth pardon and heaven as a rector by his equal laws and judgment; and always rendereth a reason of the difference, from the qualifications of man.

2. And if this were as you say, it would still overthrow infant baptism. For either we must baptize all indifferently, or none, or else know how to make a difference. All must not be baptized indifferently: and election is a secret thing to us, and by it no minister in the world can tell whom to baptize: therefore he must baptize none, if there be no other differencing note to know them by.

Object. God hath more elect ones among the infants of true believers than among others: and therefore they are all to be baptized.

Answ. 1. It will be hard to prove that much (that he hath more) if there be no promise to them all as such. 2. If he have more, yet no man knoweth how many, and whether the elect be one of ten, twenty, forty, or a hundred, in comparison of the non-elect; for Scripture tells it not. So that no minister of a church is sure that any one infant that he ever baptized is elect. 3. And God hath given no such rule for sealing and delivering his covenant with the benefits as to cast it hap hazard among all, because it is possible or probable it may belong to some.

Object. You have no certainty what adult professor is sincere, nor to which of them the special benefits belong; no, not of any one in a church. And yet because there is a probability that among many there are some sincere, you baptize them all. Take then the birth privilege but as equal to the profession of the adult.

Answ. This partly satisfied me sometimes: but I cannot forget that a visible, false, or hypocritical profession is not the condition of God's own covenant of grace, nor that which he requireth in us, to make us partakers of his covenant benefits; nay, he never at all commandeth it; but only commandeth that profession of consent, which followeth the real consent of the heart:[278] he that condemneth lying, maketh it neither the condition of our church membership, as his gift by promise, nor yet our duty.

And mark well, that it is a professed consent to the whole covenant that God requireth, as the condition of our true right to any part or benefit of it. He that shall only say, I consent to be a visible church member, doth thereby acquire no right to that membership; no, not in foro ecclesiæ, but he must also profess that he consenteth to have God for his God, and Christ for his Lord and Saviour, and the Holy Spirit for his Sanctifier. So that he must be a liar, or a sound believer, that maketh this profession.

But for an infant to be born of true believers, and sincerely by them dedicated in covenant to God, is all the condition that ever God required to an infant-title to his covenant; and it is not the failure of the true condition as a false profession is.

Indeed if the proposition were thus laid, it would hold good: As we know not who sincerely covenanteth for himself, and yet we must baptize all that soberly profess it; so we know not who doth sincerely covenant for his infant, and yet must baptize all whom the parents bring with such a profession, for themselves and them.

But if the sincere dedication of a sound believer, shall be accounted but equal to the lying profession of the adult, which is neither commanded, nor hath any promise, then infants are not in the covenant of grace, nor is the sincerest dedication to God either commanded or hath any promise.

If I were but sure that the profession of the adult for himself were sincere, I were sure that he were in a state of grace. And if I am not sure of the same concerning the parent's dedication of his infant, I must conclude that this is not a condition of the same covenant, and therefore that he is not in the same covenant (or conditional promise of God) unless there be some other condition required in him or for him; but there is no other that can be devised.

Object. Election is the condition.

Answ. Election is God's act and not man's; and therefore may be an antecedent, but no condition required of us. And man is not called to make profession that he is elected, as he is to make profession of his faith and consent to the covenant. And God only knoweth who are his by election, and therefore God only can baptize on this account.

And what is the probability which the objecters mean, that many of the infants of the faithful are elected? Either it is a promise, or but a prediction; if no promise, it is not to be sealed by baptism; if a promise, it is absolute or conditional. If any absolute promise, as, I will save many children {653} of believers, 1. This terminateth not on any singular person, as baptism doth, and, 2. It is not the absolute promise that baptism is appointed by Christ to seal. This is apparent in Mark xvi. 16, and in the case of the adult. And it is not one covenant which is sealed to the adult by baptism, and another to infants. Else baptism also should not be the same. But if it be any conditional covenant, what is it, and what is the condition?

And what is it that baptism giveth to the seed of believers, if they be not justified by it from original sin? You will not say, that it conveyeth inherent sanctifying grace, no not into all the elect themselves, which many are many years after without. And you cannot say, that it sealeth to them any promise, so much as of visible church privileges; for God may suffer them presently to be made janizaries, and violently taken from their parents, and become strangers and despisers of church privileges, as is ordinary with the Greek's children among the Turks. Now God either promised such church privileges absolutely, or conditionally, or not at all. Not absolutely, for then they would possess them. If conditionally, what is the condition? If not at all, what promise then doth baptism seal to such, and what benefit doth it secure? God hath instituted no baptism, which is a mere present delivery of possession of a church state, without sealing any promise at all. True baptism first sealeth the promise, and then delivereth possession of some benefits.

Yea, indeed outward church privileges are such uncertain blessings of the promise, that as they are but secondary, so they are but secondarily given and sealed, so that no man should ever be baptized, if these were all that were in the promise.[279] The holiest person may be cast into a wilderness, and deprived of all visible church communion; and doth God then break his promise with him? Certainly no. It is therefore our saving relations to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, which the promise giveth, and baptism sealeth; and other things but subordinately and uncertainly as they are means to these. So then it is plain, that believers' infants have a promise of salvation, or no promise at all, which baptism was instituted to seal.

I have said so much more of this in my Appendix to the "Treatise of Infant Baptism," to Mr. Bedford, in defence of Dr. Davenant's judgment, as that I must refer the reader thither.

8. I think it very probable that this ascertaining promise belongeth not only to the natural seed of believers, but to all whom they have a true power and right to dedicate in covenant to God; which seemeth to be all that are properly their own, whether adopted or bought; but there is more darkness and doubt about this than the former, because the Scripture hath said less of it.

9. I am not able to prove, nor see any probable reason for it, that any but sound believers have such a promise for their children, nor that any hypocrite shall certainly save his child, if he do but dedicate him to God in baptism. For, 1. I find no promise in Scripture made to such. 2. He that doth not sincerely believe himself, nor consent to God's covenant, cannot sincerely believe for his child, nor consent for him. 3. And that faith which will not save the owner, as being not the condition of the promise, cannot save another. Much more might be said of this. I confess that the church is to receive the children of hypocrites as well as themselves; and their baptism is valid in foro externo ecclesiæ, and is not to be reiterated. But it goeth no further for his child, than for himself.

10. Therefore I think that all that are rightfully baptized by the minister, that is, baptized so as that it is well done of him, are not certainly saved by baptism, unless they be also rightfully baptized, in regard of their right to claim and receive it. Let them that are able to prove more do it, for I am not able.

11. Whereas some misinterpret the words of the old rubric of confirmation in the English liturgy, as if it spake of all that are baptized, whether they had right or not, the words themselves may serve to rectify that mistake, "And that no man shall think any detriment shall come to children by deferring of their confirmation, he shall know for truth, that it is certain by God's word, that children being baptized have all things necessary for their salvation, and be undoubtedly saved." Where it is plain that they mean, they have all things necessary ex parte ecclesiæ, or all God's applying ordinances necessary, though they should die unconfirmed, supposing that they have all things necessary to just baptism on their own part. Which is but what the ancients were wont to say of the baptized adult; but they never meant that the infidel, and hypocrite, and impenitent person was in a state of life, because he was baptized; but that all that truly consent to the covenant, and signify this by being baptized, are saved. So the church of England saith, that they receive no detriment by delaying confirmation; but it never said, that they receive no detriment by their parents' or sponsors' infidelity and hypocrisy, or by their want of true right coram Deo to be baptized.

12. But yet before these questions (either of them) be taken as resolved by me, I must first take in some other questions which are concerned in the same cause; as,

[274]   Since the writing of this, there is come forth an excellent book for Infant Baptism by Mr. Joseph Whiston, in which the grounds of my present solutions are notably cleared.

[275]   Mark xvi. 16; Acts ii. 37, 38; xxii. 16; 1 Cor. vi. 11; Tit. iii. 3, 5, 6; Heb. x. 22; Eph. v. 26; Rom. vi. 1, 4; Col. ii. 12; 1 Pet. iii. 21, 22; Eph. iv. 5; Acts viii. 12, 13, 16, 36, 38; ix. 18; xvi. 15, 33; xix. 5; Gal. iii. 27.

[276]   Acts ii. 39; Gal. iii. 22, 29; 1 Tim. iv. 8; Eph. ii. 12; 2 Tim. i. 1; Heb. iv. 1; vi. 17; ix. 15; x. 36; viii. 6; 2 Pet i. 4, 5.

[277]   Acts ii. 38; xxvi. 18; Luke xxiv. 47.

[278]   Rom. x. 9; Acts viii. 37.

[279]   Matt. vi. 33; Rom. viii. 28, 32, &c.

Quest. XXXVI. What is meant by this speech, that believers and their seed are in the covenant of God; which giveth them right to baptism?

Answ. Though this was opened on thee by before I add, 1. The meaning is not that they are in that absolute promise of the first and all following grace, supposed ordinarily to be made of the elect, (as such unknown,) viz. I will give them faith, repentance, conversion, justification, and salvation, and all the conditions of the conditional promise, without any condition on their part, which many take to be the meaning of, I will take the hard heart out of them, &c. For, 1. This promise is not now to be first performed to the adult who repent and believe already; and no other are to be baptized at age. If that absolute promise be sealed by baptism, either it must be so sealed as a promise before it be performed, or after; if before, either to all, because some are elect, or only to some that are elect. Not to all; for it is not common to infidels. Not to some as elect; for, 1. They are unknown. 2. If they were known, they are yet supposed to be infidels. Not after performance, for then it is too late.

2. The meaning is not only that the conditional covenant of grace is made and offered to them; for so it may be said of heathens and infidels, and all the world that hear the gospel.

But, 1. The covenant meant is indeed this conditional covenant only, Mark xvi. 16, "He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved."

2. To be in this covenant is, to be a consenting believer, and so to be one that hath by inward heart consent the true conditions of right to the benefits of the covenant, and is thereby prepared solemnly {654} by baptism to profess this consent, and to receive an investiture and seal of God's part, by his minister given in his name.

3. Infants are thus in covenant with their parents, because reputatively their parents' wills are theirs, to dispose of them for their good. And therefore they consent by their parents, who consent for them.

Quest. XXXVII. Are believers' children certainly in covenant before their baptism, and thereby in a state of salvation? or not till they are baptized?

Answ. Distinguish between, 1. Heart-covenanting and mouth covenanting. 2. Between being in covenant before God, and visibly before the church.

1. No person is to be baptized at age, whose inward heart consent before professed, giveth him not right to baptism. Therefore all the adult must be in covenant, that is, consent on their part to the covenant, before they are baptized.

2. Therefore it is so with the seed of the faithful, who must consent by their parents, before they have right; otherwise all should have right, and their baptism be essentially another baptism, as sealing some other covenant, or none.

3. If there be no promise made to the seed of the faithful more than to others, they have no right more than others to baptism or salvation. But if there be a promise made to them as the seed of believers, then are they as such within that promise, that is, performers of its conditions by their parents, and have right to the benefit.

4. If the heart consent or faith of the adult, do put themselves into a state of salvation, before their baptism, then it doth so by their children; but, &c.—

5. But this right to salvation in parents and children upon heart consent before baptism, is only before God. For the church taketh no cognizance of secret heart transactions; but a man then only consenteth in the judgment of the church, when he openly professeth it, and desireth to signify it by being baptized.

6. And even before God, there is a necessitas præcepti obliging us to open baptism after heart consent; and he that heartily consenteth, cannot refuse God's way of uttering it, unless either through ignorance he know it not to be his duty, (for himself and his child,) or through want of ability or opportunity cannot have it. So that while a man is unbaptized, somewhat is wanting to the completeness of his right to the benefits of the covenant, viz. A reception of investiture and possession in God's appointed way; though it be not such a want, as shall frustrate the salvation of those that did truly consent in heart.

7. I take it therefore for certain, that the children of true believers consent to the covenant by their parents, and are as certainly saved if they die before baptism, as after; though those that despise baptism, when they know it to be a duty, cannot be thought indeed to believe or consent for their children or themselves.

Quest. XXXVIII. Is infants' title to baptism and the covenant benefits given them by God in his promise, upon any proper moral condition, or only upon the condition of their natural relation, that they be the seed of the faithful?

Answ. That which is called a mere natural condition is properly in law sense no condition at all; nor doth make a contract or promise to be called conditional in a moral sense. But it is matters of morality, and not of physics only, that we are treating of; and therefore we must take the terms in a moral sense. For a physical condition is either past, or present, or future, or not future; if it be past or present, the proposition may indeed be hypothetical, but it is no such conditional promise as we are speaking of; for instance, if you say, If thou wast born in such a city, or if thy name be John, I will give thee so much. These are the words of an uncertain promiser; but the promise is already either equivalent to an absolute gift, or null. So if the physical condition be de futuro, e. g. If thou be alive to-morrow, I will give thee this or that; or if the sun shine to-morrow, &c. This indeed suspendeth the gift or event; but not upon any moral being which is in the power of the receiver, but upon a natural contingency or uncertainty. And God hath no such conditional covenants or promises to be sealed by baptism. He saith not, If thou be the child of such or such a man, thou shalt be saved, as his natural offspring only. If the papists that accuse us for holding that the mere natural progeny of believers are saved as such, did well understand our doctrine, they would perceive that in this we differ not from the understanding sort among them, or at least, that their accusations run upon a mistake.

I told you before that there are three things distinctly to be considered in the title of infants to baptism and salvation. 1. By what right the parent covenanteth for his child. 2. What right the child hath to baptism. 3. What right he hath to the benefits of the covenant sealed and delivered in baptism?

To the first, two things concur to the title of the parent to covenant in the name of his child. One is his natural interest in him; the child being his own is at his disposal. The other is God's gracious will and consent that it shall be so; that the parent's will shall be as the child's for his good, till he come at age to have a will of his own.

To the second, the child's right to baptism is not merely his natural or his birth relation from such parents, but it is in two degrees, as followeth: 1. He hath a virtual right, on condition of his parent's faith: the reason is, because that a believer's consent and self-dedication to God doth virtually contain in it a dedication with himself of all that is his: and it is a contradiction to say that a man truly dedicateth himself to God, and not all that he hath, and that he truly consenteth to the covenant for himself and not for his child, if he understand that God will accept it. 2. His actual title condition is his parent's (or owner's) actual consent to enter him into God's covenant, and his actual mental dedication of his child to God, which is his title before God, and the profession of it is his title before the church. So that it is not a mere physical but a moral title condition, which an infant hath to baptism, that is, his parent's consent to dedicate him to God.

3. And to the third, his title condition to the benefits of baptism hath two degrees: 1. That he be really dedicated to God by the heart consent of his parent as aforesaid. And, 2. That his parent express this by the solemn engaging him to God in baptism; the first being necessary as a means sine qua non, and the second being necessary as a duty without which he sinneth, (when it is possible,) and as a means coram ecclesia to the privileges of the visible church.

The sum of all is, that our mere natural interest in our children is not their title condition to baptism or to salvation, but only that presupposed state which enableth us by God's consent to covenant for them; but their title condition to baptism and salvation, is our covenanting for them, or voluntary {655} dedicating them to God; which we do, 1. Virtually, when we dedicate ourselves, and all that we have or shall have. 2. Actually, when our hearts consent particularly for them, and actually devote them to God, before baptism. 3. Sacramentally, when we express this in our solemn baptismal covenanting and dedication.

Consider exactly of this again; and if you loathe distinguishing, confess ingenuously that you loathe the truth, or the necessary means of knowing it.

Quest. XXXIX. What is the true meaning of sponsors, patrimi, or godfathers as we call them? And is it lawful to make use of them?

Answ. I. To the first question; all men have not the same thoughts either of their original, or of their present use.

1. Some think that they were sponsors or sureties for the parents rather than the child at first; and that when many in times of persecution, heresy, and apostasy, did baptize their children this month or year, and the next month or year apostatize and deny Christ themselves, that the sponsors were only credible christians witnessing that they believed that the parents were credible, firm believers, and not like to apostatize. 2. Others think that they were undertakers, that if the parents did apostatize or die, they would see to the christian education of the child themselves. 3. Others think that they did both these together; (which is my opinion;) viz. that they witnessed the probability of the parents' fidelity; but promised that if they should either apostatize or die, they would see that the children were piously educated. 4. Others think that they were absolute undertakers that the children should be piously educated, whether the parents died or apostatized or not; so that they went joint undertakers with the parents in their lifetime. 5. And I have lately met with some that maintain that the godfathers and godmothers become proprietors, and adopt the child, and take him for their own, and that this is the sense of the church of England. But I believe them not for these reasons.

1. There is no such word in the liturgy, doctrine, or canons of the church of England: and that is not to be feigned and fathered on them, which they never said.

2. It would be against the law of nature to force all parents to give the sole propriety, or joint propriety, in their children to others. Nature hath given the propriety to themselves, and we cannot rob them of it.

3. It would be heinously injurious to the children of noble and learned persons, if they must be forced to give them up to the propriety and education of others, even of such as perhaps are lower and more unfit for it than themselves.

4. It would be more heinously injurious to all godfathers and godmothers, who must all make other men's children their own, and therefore must use them as their own.

5. It would keep most children unbaptized; because if it were once understood that they must take them as their own, few would be sponsors to the children of the poor, for fear of keeping them; and few but the ignorant that know not what they do, would be sponsors for any, because of the greatness of the charge, and their averseness to adopt the children of others.

6. It would make great confusion in the state, while all men were bound to exchange children with another.

7. I never knew one man or woman that was a godfather or godmother on such terms, nor that took the child to be their own: and if such a one should be found among ten thousand, that is no rule to discern the judgment of the church by.

8. And in confirmation the godfather and godmother is expressly said to be for this use, to be witnesses that the party is confirmed.

9. And in the priest's speech to the adult that come for baptism, in the office of baptism of those of riper years, it is the persons themselves that are to promise and covenant for themselves, and the godfathers and godmothers are only called "these your witnesses." And if they be but witnesses to the adult, it is like they are not adopters of infants.

II. Those that doubt of the lawfulness of using sponsors for their children, do it on these two accounts: 1. As supposing it unlawful to make so promiscuous an adoption of children, or of choosing another to be a covenanter for the child instead of the parent, to whom it belongeth; or to commit their children to another's either propriety, or education, or formal promise of that which belongeth to education, when they never mean to perform it, nor can do. 2. Because they take it for an adding to the ordinance of God, a thing which Scripture never mentioneth. To which I answer,

1. I grant it unlawful to suppose another to be the parent or proprietor that is not; or to suppose him to have that power and interest in your child which he hath not; or to desire him to undertake what he cannot perform, and which neither he nor you intend he shall perform; I grant that you are not bound to alienate the propriety of your children, nor to take in another to be joint proprietors; nor to put out your children to the godfather's education. So that if you will misunderstand the use of sponsors, then indeed you will make them unlawful to be so used.

But if you take them but as the ancient churches did, for such as do attest the parents' fidelity, (in their persuasion,) and do promise first to mind you of your duty, and next to take care of the children's pious education if you die, I know no reason you have to scruple this much.

Yea more, it is in your own power to agree with the godfathers, that they shall represent your own persons, and speak and promise what they do, as your deputies only, in your names. And what have you against this? Suppose you were sick, lame, imprisoned, or banished, would you not have your child baptized? And how should that be done, but by your deputing another to represent you in entering him into covenant with God?

Object. But when the churchmen mean another thing, this is but to juggle with the world.

Answ. How can you prove that the authority that made or imposed the liturgy, meant any other thing? And other individuals are not the masters of your sense. Yea, and if the imposers had meant ill, in a thing that may be done well, you may discharge your conscience by doing it well, and making a sufficient profession of your better sense.

2. And then it will be no sinful addition to God's ordinance, to determine of a lawful circumstance, which he hath left to human prudence: as to choose a meet deputy, witness, or sponsor, who promiseth nothing but what is meet.

Quest. XL. On whose account or right is it that the infant hath title to baptism and its benefits? Is it on the parents', ancestors', sponsors', the church's, the minister's, the magistrate's, or his own?

Answ. The titles are very various that are pretended; let us examine them all.

I. I cannot think that a magistrate's command to {656} baptize an infant, giveth him right, 1. Because there is no proof of the validity of such a title. 2. Because the magistrate can command no such thing if it be against God's word, as this is, which would level the case of the seed of heathens and believers. And I know but few of that opinion.

II. I do not think that the minister as such giveth title to the infant: for, 1. He is no proprietor. 2. He can show no such power or grant from God. 3. He must baptize none but those that antecedently have right. 4. Else he also might level all, and take in heathen's children with believers'. 5. Nor is this pretended to by many, that I know of.

III. I cannot think that it is a particular church that must give this right, or perform the condition of it. For, 1. Baptism (as is aforesaid) as such, doth only make a christian, and a member of the universal church, and not of any particular church. And, 2. The church is not the proprietor of the child. 3. No Scripture commission can be showed for such a power. Where hath God said, All that any particular church will receive, shall have right to baptism? 4. By what act must the church give this right? If by baptizing him; the question is of his antecedent right. If by willing that he be baptized; (1.) If they will that one be baptized that hath no right to it, their will is sinful, and therefore unfit to give him right. (2.) And the baptizing minister hath more power than a thousand or ten thousand private men, to judge who is to be baptized. 5. Else a church might save all heathen children that they can but baptize, and so level infidels' and christians' seed. 6. It is not the church in general, but some one person, that must educate the child: therefore the church cannot so much as promise for its education: the church hath nothing to do with those that are without, but only with her own; and heathen's children are not her own, nor exposed to her occupation.

IV. I believe not that it is the universal church that giveth the infant title to baptism: for, 1. He that giveth title to the covenant and baptism, doth it as a performer of the moral condition of that title. But God hath no where made the church's faith to be the condition of baptism or salvation, either to infidels or their seed. 2. Because the universal church is a body that cannot be consulted with to give their vote and consent: nor have they any deputies to do it by. For there is no universal, visible governor: and if you will pretend every priest to be commissioned to act and judge in the name of the universal church, you will want proof, and that is before confuted. 3. If all have right that the universal church offereth up to God, or any minister or bishop be counted its deputy or agent to that end, it is in the power of that minister (as is said) to level all, and to baptize and save all; which is contrary to the word of God.

V. I believe that godfathers as such, being no adopters or proprietors, are not the performers of the condition of salvation for the infant, nor give him right to be baptized. 1. Because he is not their own, and therefore their will or act cannot go for his; because there is no word of God for it that all shall be baptized or saved that any christians will be sponsors for. God's church blessings are not tied to such inventions, that were not in being when God's laws were made. Where there is no promise or word, there is no faith. 3. No sponsors are so much as lawful (as is showed before) who are not owners or their deputies, or mere secondary subservient parties, who suppose the principal covenanting party. 4. And as to the infant's salvation, the sponsors may (too oft) be ignorant infidels and hypocrites themselves, that have no true faith for themselves; and therefore not enough to save another. 5. And it were strange if God should make no promise to a wicked parent for his own child, and yet should promise to save by baptism all that some wicked and hypocrite godfathers will offer him. And that thus the seed of heathens and christians should be levelled, and yet an ignorant, bold undertaker to carry away the privilege of saving persons from them both. All this is but men's unproved imaginations. He that never commandeth godfathers, but forbiddeth the usurping sort, and only alloweth human prudence to use the lawful sort, did never put the souls of all children, christians and heathens, into their hands (any more than into the hands of the priest that baptizeth them).

VI. I do not find that remote ancestors that are dead, or that are not proprietors of the children, are the performers of the condition by which they have right to baptism or salvation. 1. Because God hath put that power and work in the hands of others, even the parents, which they cannot nullify. 2. Because the promise of mercy to thousands is on supposition that the successors make no intercision. 3. Else the threatenings to the seed of the wicked would signify nothing, nor would any in the world be excluded from right, but all be levelled; because Noah was the common father of mankind: and if you lay it on dead ancestors, you have no rule where to stop till you come to Noah.

VII. I conclude therefore that it is, clearly, the immediate parents, (both or one,) and probably any true domestic owner of the child, who hath the power to choose or refuse for him, and so to enter him into covenant with God, and so by consent to perform the conditions of his right. For, 1. Abundance of promises are made to the faithful and their seed, of which I have spoken at large in my book "Of Infant Baptism." And besides the punishment of Adam's sin, there is scarce a parent infamous for sin in Scripture, but his posterity falleth under the punishment, as for a secondary, original sin or guilt. As the case of Cain, Ham, the Sodomites, the Amalekites, the Jews, Achan, Gehazi, &c. show. And 1 Cor. vii. 14, it is expressly said, "Else were your children unclean, but now are they holy" (of the sense of which I have spoke as aforecited).

Object. But if owners may serve, one may buy multitudes, and a king or lord of slaves, whose own the people are, may cause them all to be baptized and saved.

Answ. 1. Remember that I say, that the christian parent's right is clear, but I take the other as more dark; for it is principally grounded on Abraham and the Israelites circumcising their children born to them in the house or bought with money: and how far the parity of reason here will reach is hard to know. All that I say is, that I will not deny it, because favores sunt ampliandi. 2. If such a prince be a hypocrite, and not a sincere christian himself, his faith or consent cannot save others, that cannot save himself. 3. It is such a propriety as is conjunct with a divine concession only that giveth this power of consenting for an infant: now we find clear proof of God's concession to natural parents, and probable proof of his concession of it to domestic owners, but no further that I know of.[280] For, (1.) It is an act of God's love to the child for the parent's sake; and therefore to such children as we are supposed to have a special nearness to, and love for. (2.) And it is a consent and covenanting which he calls for, which obligeth the promiser to consequent pious education, which is a domestic act. (3.) They are comprised {657} in the name of parents, which those that adopt them and educate them may be called. (4.) And the infants are their children, not their slaves. But now, if the emperor of Muscovy, Indostan, &c. had the propriety in all his people as slaves, this would not imitate paternal interest and love, but tyranny, nor could he be their domestic educater. Therefore I must limit it to a pro-parent, or domestic, educating proprietor.

[280]   Deut. xxix. 10-13.

Quest. XLI. Are they really baptized who are baptized according to the English liturgy and canons, where the parent seemeth excluded, and those to consent for the infant who have no power to do it?

Answ. I find some puzzled with this doubt, Whether all our infants' baptism be not a mere nullity: for, say they, the outward washing without covenanting with God, is no more baptism, than the body or corpse is a man. The covenant is the chief essential part of baptism. And he that was never entered into covenant with God was never baptized. But infants according to the liturgy, are not entered into covenant with God, which they would prove thus: they that neither ever covenanted by themselves, or by any authorized person for them, were never entered into covenant with God (for that is no act of theirs which is done by a stranger that hath no power to do it); but, &c.—That they did it not themselves is undeniable: that they did it not by any person empowered by God to do it for them they prove, 1. Because godfathers are the persons by whom the infant is said to promise; but godfathers have no power from God, (1.) Not by nature. (2.) Not by Scripture. 2. Because the parents are not only not included as covenanters, but positively excluded, (1.) In that the whole office of covenanting for the child from first to last is laid on others. (2.) In that the twenty-ninth canon saith, "No parent shall be urged to be present; nor admitted to answer as godfather for his own child:" by which the parent that hath the power is excluded: therefore our children are all unbaptized.

To all this I answer, 1. That the parent's consent is supposed, though he be absent. 2. That the parent is not required to be absent, but only not to be urged to be present; but he may if he will. 3. That the reason of that canon seems to be their jealousy, lest any would exclude godfathers. 4. While the church hath no where declared what person the sponsors bear, nor any further what they are to do, than to speak the covenanting words, and promise to see to the pious education of the child, the parents may agree that the godfathers shall do all this as their deputies, primarily, and in their steads, and secondarily as friends that promise their assistance. 5. While parents really consent, it is not their silence that nullifieth the covenant. 6. All parents are supposed and required to be themselves the choosers of the sponsors or sureties, and also to give notice to the minister beforehand: by which it appeareth that their consent is presupposed. And though my own judgment be, that they should be the principal covenanters for the child expressly, yet the want of that expressness, will not make us unbaptized persons.

Quest. XLII. But the great question is, How the Holy Ghost is given to infants in baptism? And whether all the children of true christians have inward sanctifying grace? or whether they can be said to be justified, and to be in a state of salvation, that are not inherently sanctified? And whether any fall from this infant state of salvation?

Answ. Of all these great difficulties I have said what I know, in my "Appendix to Infant Baptism," to Mr. Bradford and Dr. Ward, and of Bishop Davenant's judgment. And I confess that my judgment agreeth more in this with Davenant's than any others, saving that he doth not so much appropriate the benefits of baptism to the children of sincere believers as I do. And though by a letter in pleading Davenant's cause, I was the occasion of good Mr. Gataker's printing of his answer to him, yet I am still most inclined to his judgment; not that all the baptized, but that all the baptized seed of true christians, are pardoned, justified, adopted, and have a title to the Spirit and salvation.

But the difficulties in this case are so great, as drive away most who do not equally perceive the greater inconveniences which we must choose, if this opinion be forsaken: that is, that all infants must be taken to be out of the covenant of God, and to have no promise of salvation. Whereas surely the law of grace as well as the covenant of works included all the seed in their capacity.

1. To the first of these questions, I answer, 1. As all true believers, so all their infants do receive initially by the promise, and by way of obsignation and sacramental investiture in baptism, a jus relationis, a right of peculiar relation to all the three persons in the blessed Trinity: as to God, as their reconciled, adopting Father; and to Jesus Christ, as their Redeemer and actual Head and Justifier; so also to the Holy Ghost, as their Regenerator and Sanctifier.[281] This right and relation adhereth to them, and is given them in order to future actual operation and communion: as a marriage covenant giveth the relation and right to one another, in order to the subsequent communion and duties of a married life; and as he that sweareth allegiance to a king, or is listed into an army, or is entered into a school, receiveth the right and relation, and is so correlated, as obligeth to the mutual subsequent offices of each, and giveth right to many particular benefits. By this right and relation, God is his own God and Father; Christ is his own Head and Saviour; and the Holy Spirit is his own Sanctifier, without asserting what operations are already wrought on his soul, but only to what future ends and uses these relations are. Now as these rights and relations are given immediately, so those benefits which are relative, and the infant immediately capable of them, are presently given by way of communion: he hath presently the pardon of original sin, by virtue of the sacrifice, merit, and intercession of Christ. He hath a state of adoption, and right to divine protection, provision, and church communion according to his natural capacity, and right to everlasting life.

2. It must be carefully noted, that the relative union between Christ the Mediator and the baptized persons, is that which in baptism is first given in order of nature, and that the rest do flow from this. The covenant and baptism deliver the covenanter, 1. From divine displicency by reconciliation with the Father: 2. From legal penalties by justification by the Son: 3. From sin itself by the operations of the Holy Ghost. But it is Christ as our Mediator-Head, that is first given us in relative union; and then, 1. The Father loveth us with complacency as in the Son, and for the sake of his first Beloved. 2. And the Spirit which is given us in relation is first the Spirit of Christ our Head, and not first inherent in us; so that by union with our Head, that Spirit is next united to us, both relatively, and as radically inherent in the human nature of our Lord, to whom {658} we are united.[282] As the nerves and animal spirits which are to operate in all the body, are radically only in the head, from whence they flow into and operate on the members as there is need (though there may be obstructions); so the Spirit dwelleth in the human nature of our Head, and there it can never be lost; and it is not necessary that it dwell in us by way of radication, but by way of influence and operation.

These things are distinctly and clearly understood but by very few; and we are all much in the dark about them. But I think, (however doctrinally we may speak better,) that most christians are habituated to this perilous misapprehension, (which is partly against Christianity itself,) that the Spirit floweth immediately from the divine nature of the Father and the Son (as to the authoritative or potestative conveyance) unto our souls. And we forget that it is first given to Christ in his glorified humanity as our Head, and radicated in Him; and that it is the office of this glorified Head, to send or communicate to all his members from himself, that Spirit which must operate in them as they have need.

This is plain in many texts of Scripture. Rom. viii. 32, "He that spared not his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things?" (when he giveth him particularly to us).

1 John v. 11, 12, "And this is the record that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son; he that hath the Son hath the life, and he that hath not the Son hath not the life."

Rom. viii. 9, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, the same is none of his."

Eph. i. 22, 23, "And gave him to be the Head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."

John xv. 26, "The Advocate or Comforter whom I will send unto you from the Father," &c.

John xvi. 7, "If I depart, I will send him unto you."

John xiv. 26, "The Comforter, whom the Father will send in my name."

Gal. iv. 6, "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father."

Gal. ii. 20, "I live: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." (I know that is true of his living in us objectively and finally, but that seemeth not to be all.)

Col. iii. 3, 4, "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God; when Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." I know that in verse 3, by life is meant felicity or glory; but not only; as appeareth by verse 4, where Christ is called our life.

Matt. xxviii. 18, "All power is given unto me in heaven and earth." ver. 20, "I am with you always." John xiii. 3, "The Father hath given all things into his hands."

John xvii. 2, 3, "Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him; and this is life eternal, to know thee," &c.

John v. 21, "The Son quickeneth whom he will:" ver. 26, "For as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself."

John vi. 27, "Labour for that meat which endureth to everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you, for him hath God the Father sealed." Ver. 33, "He giveth life unto the world." Ver. 54-57, "Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life——dwelleth in me and I in him——my flesh is meat indeed——As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me." Ver. 63, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing."

John vii. 39, "This spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe in him should receive." John iii. 34, "God giveth not the Spirit to him by measure."

1 Cor. vi. 17, "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit."

2 Cor. iii. 17, "The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

Phil. i. 19, "Through the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ."

John xv. 4, 5, "Abide in me and I in you: as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me (or, out of me, or, severed from me) ye can do nothing."

I will add no more: all this is proof enough that the Spirit is not given radically or immediately from God to any believer, but to Christ, and so derivatively from him to us. Not that the divine nature in the third person is subject to the human nature in Christ; but that God hath made it the office of our Mediator's glorified humanity, to be the cistern that shall first receive the waters of life, and convey them by the pipes of his appointed means to all the offices of his house: or to be the head of the animal spirits, and by nerves to convey them to all the members.

3. We are much in the dark concerning the degree of infants' glory; and therefore we can as little know, what degree of grace is necessary to prepare them for their glory.

4. It is certain that infants before they are glorified, shall have all that grace that is prerequisite to their preparation and fruition.

5. No sanctified person on earth is in an immediate capacity for glory; because their sin and imperfection must be done away, which is done at the dissolution of soul and body. The very accession of the soul to God doth perfect it.

6. Infants have no actual faith, or hope, or love to God to exercise; and therefore need not the influence of the Spirit of Christ to exercise them.

7. We are all so very much in the dark, as to the clear and distinct apprehension of the true nature of original inherent pravity or sin, that we must needs be as much ignorant of the true nature of that inherent sanctity or righteousness, which is its contrary or cure. Learned Illiricus thought it was a substance, which he hath in his "Clavis" pleaded for at large. Others call it a habit; others a nature or natural inclination, and a privation of a natural inclination to God. Others call it an indisposition of the mind and will to holy truth and goodness, and an ill disposition of them to error and evil. Others call it only the inordinate lust of the sensitive faculties, with a debility of reason and will to resist it. And whilst the nature of the soul itself and its faculties, are so much unknown to itself, the nature of original pravity and righteousness must needs be very much unknown.

8. Though an infant be a distinct natural person from his parents, yet is he not actually a distinct person morally, as being not a moral agent, and so not capable of moral actions good or evil. Therefore his parents' will goeth for his.

9. His first acceptance into the complacential love of God, (as distinct from his love of benevolence,) {659} is not for any inherent holiness in himself; but, (1.) As the child of a believing parent who hath dedicated him to Christ; and, (2.) As a member of Christ, in whom he is well pleased.

10. Therefore God can complacentially as well as benevolently love an infant in Christ, who only believeth and repenteth by the parents, and not by himself, and is not yet supposed to have the Spirit of sanctification.

11. For the Spirit of sanctification is not the presupposed condition of his acceptance into covenant with God, but a gift of the covenant of God itself, following both the condition on our part, and our right to be covenanters, or to God's promise upon that condition.

12. So the adult themselves have the operation of the Spirit by which they believe and repent, by which they come to have their right to God's part in the covenant of baptism (for this is antecedent to their baptism); but they have not the gift of the Spirit, which is called in Scripture the "Spirit of sanctification, and of power, love, and a sound mind," and is the benefit given by the covenant of baptism, till afterward; because they must be in that covenant before it can be made good to them.[283] And their faith or consent is their infant's right also, antecedent to the covenant gift.

13. There is therefore some notable difference between that work of the Spirit by which we first repent and believe, and so have our title to the promise of the Spirit, and that gift of the Spirit which is promised to believers; which is not only the Spirit of miracles, given in the first times, but some notable degree of love to our reconciled Father, suitable to the grace and gospel of redemption and reconciliation, and is called the "Spirit of Christ," and the "Spirit of adoption,"[284] which the apostles themselves seem not to have received till Christ's ascension. And this seemeth to be not only different from the gifts of the Spirit common to hypocrites and the unbelievers, but also from the special gift of the Spirit which maketh men believers. So that Mr. Tho. Hooker saith trulier than once I understood, that vocation is a special grace of the Spirit, distinct from common grace on the one side, and from sanctification on the other side. Whether it be the same degree of the Spirit which the faithful had before Christ's incarnation, which causeth men first to believe distinct from the higher following degree, I leave to inquiry; but the certainest distinction is from the different effects.

14. Though an infant cannot be either disposed to a holy life, or fit for glory immediately, without an inward holiness of his own, yet by what is said it seemeth plain, that merely on the account of the condition performed by the parent, and of his union relatively with Christ thereupon, and his title to God's promise on these grounds, he may be said to be in a state of salvation; that is, to have the pardon of his original sin, deliverance from hell, (in right,) adoption, and a right to the needful operations of the Holy Ghost, as given to him in Christ, who is the first receiver of the Spirit.

15. But when and in what sort and degree Christ giveth the actual operations of the Spirit to all covenanted infants, it is wonderfully hard for us to know. But this much seemeth clear, 1. That Christ may when he please work on the soul of an infant to change its disposition, before it come to the use of reason. 2. That Christ and his Spirit as in covenant with infants, are ready to give all necessary assistance to infants for their inherent sanctification, in the use of those means, and on those further conditions, on which we must wait for it and expect it.[285] For the Holy Ghost is not so engaged to us in our covenant or baptism, as to be obliged presently to give us all the grace that we want; but only to give it us on certain further conditions, and in the use of certain means. But because this leads me up to another question, I will suspend the rest of the answer to this till that be handled. Only I must answer this objection.

Object. It is contrary to the holy nature of God, complacentially to love an unsanctified infant, that is yet in his original corruption unchanged, and he justifieth none relatively from the guilt of sin, whom he doth not at once inherently sanctify.

Answ. 1. God's complacential love respecteth every one as he is; for it is goodness only that he so loveth. Therefore he so loveth not those that either actually or habitually love not him, under any false supposition that they do love him when they do not. His love therefore to the adult and infants differeth as the objects differ. But there is this lovely in such infants; 1. That they are the children of believing, sanctified parents; 2. That they are by his covenant relatively united to Christ, and so are lovely as his members; 3. That they are pardoned all their original sin; 4. That they are set in the way to actual love and holiness; being thus dedicated to God.

2. All imperfect saints are sinners; and all sinners are as such abhorred of God, whose pure eyes cannot behold iniquity. As then it will stand with his purity to accept and love the adult upon their first believing, before their further sanctification, and notwithstanding the remnant of their sins, so may it do also to accept their infants through Christ upon their dedication.

3. As the actual sin imputed to infants was Adam's, and their parents' only by act, and not their own, it is no wonder if upon their parents' faith and repentance, Christ wash and justify them from that guilt which arose only from another's act.

4. And then the inherent pravity was the effect of that act of their ancestors, which is forgiven them. And this pravity or inherent, original sin may two ways be said to be mortified radically, or virtually, or inceptively before any inherent change in them: 1. In that it is mortified in their parents from whom they derived it, who have the power of choosing for them; and, 2. In that they are by covenant ingrafted into Christ, and so related to the cause of their future sanctification; yea, 3. In that also they are by covenant and their parents' promise, engaged to use those means which Christ hath appointed for sanctification.[286]

5. And it must be remembered that as this is but an inceptive, preparatory change, so the very pardon of the inherent vitiosity is not perfect, (as I have elsewhere largely proved,) however some papists and protestants deny it. While sin remaineth, sin and corruption is still indwelling, besides all the unremoved penalties of it, the very being of it proveth it to be so far unpardoned, in that it is not yet abolished, {660} and the continuance of it being not its smallest punishment, as permitted, and the Spirit not given so far as to cure it. Imperfect pardon may consist with a present right both to further sanctification by the Spirit, and so to heaven.

Object. Christ's body hath no unholy members.

Answ. 1. 1 Cor. vii. 14, "Now are your children holy." They are not wholly unholy who have all the fore-described holiness. 2. As infants in nature want memory and actual reason, and yet initially are men; so, as Christ's members, they may want actual and habitual faith and love, and yet initially be sanctified, by their union with him and his Spirit, and their parents' dedication, and be in the way for more, as they grow fit; and be christians and saints in fieri, or initially only, as they are men.

[281]   Matt. xxviii. 19, 20; 1 Cor. xii. 12, 13; Eph. iv. 4, 5.

[282]   The Spirit is not given radically or immediately to any christian, but to Christ our Head alone, and from him to us.

[283]   Acts xxvi. 8; 2 Tim. iv. 7; Rom. viii. 30; Gal. iv. 6.

[284]   Rom. viii. 9, 16, 26.

[285]   Mr. Whiston, p. 60, showeth, That even the promises of a new heart, &c. Ezek. xxxvi. xxxvii. &c. though they may run in the external tenor of them absolutely, yet are not absolutely absolute, but have a subordinate condition, and that is, that the parties concerned in them do faithfully use the means appointed of God in a subserviency to his working in or bestowing on them the good promised.

[286]   God's being a God to any individual person doth require and presuppose that they do for the present, supposing them capable, or for the future as soon as capable, take God in Christ as their God. Ibid. p. 61.

Quest. XLIII. Is the right of the baptized (infants or adult) to the sanctifying operations of the Holy Ghost, now absolute, or suspended on further conditions? And are the parents' further duties for their children such conditions of their children's reception of the actual assistances of the Spirit? Or are children's own actions such conditions? And may apostate parents forfeit the covenant benefits to their baptized infants or not?

Answ. The question is great and difficult, and few dare meddle with it. And almost all infant cases are to us obscure.

I. 1. It is certain that it is the parents' great duty to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

2. It is certain that God hath appointed this to be the means of their actual knowledge, faith, and holiness.[287]

3. And God doth not appoint such means unnecessarily or in vain: nor may we ordinarily expect his grace but in the use of the means of grace, which he hath appointed us to use.

4. It is certain that God's receiving the children of the faithful, is an act of God's love to the parents as well as the children, and promised as a part of his blessing on themselves.

5. It is certain that these parents hold their own mercies upon the condition of their own continued fidelity: and (let their apostasy be on other reasons never so impossible, or not future, yet) the promise of continuance and consummation of the personal felicity of the greatest saint on earth, is still conditional, upon the condition of his persevering fidelity.

6. Even before children are capable of instruction, there are certain duties imposed by God on the parents for their sanctification; viz. 1. That the parents pray earnestly and believingly for them. 2. That they themselves so live towards God as may invite him still to bless their children for their sakes, as he did Abraham's, and usually did to the faithful's seed.[288]

7. It is certain that the church ever required parents, not only to enter their children into the covenant, and so to leave them, but to do their after duty for their good, and to pray for them, and educate them according to their covenant.

8. It is plain that if there were none to promise so to educate them, the church would not baptize them. And God himself, who allowed the Israelites, and still alloweth us to bring our children into his covenant, doth it on this supposition, that we promise also to go on to do our duty for them, and that we actually do it.

9. All this set together maketh it plain, 1. That God never promiseth the adult in baptism, though true believers, that he will work in them all graces further by his sanctifying Spirit, let them never so much neglect or resist him; or that he will absolutely see that they never shall resist him: nor that the Spirit shall still help them, though they neglect all his means; or that he will keep them from neglecting the means (election may secure this to the elect as such; but the baptismal covenant as such, secureth it not to the baptized, nor to believers as such). 2. And consequently that infants are in covenant with the Holy Ghost still conditionally as their parents are; and that the meaning of it is that the Holy Ghost as your Sanctifier will afford you all necessary help, in the use of those means which he hath appointed you to receive his help in.[289]

Object. Infants have no means to use.

Answ. While infants stand on their parents' account, or wills, the parents have means to use for the continuance of their grace, as well as for the beginning of it.

10. Therefore I cannot see but that if a believer should apostatize, (whether any do so is not the question) and his infant not to be made another's child, he forfeiteth the benefits of the covenant to his infant. But if the propriety in the infant be transferred to another, it may alter the case.

11. And how dangerously parents may make partial forfeitures of the Spirit's assistance to their children, and operations on them, by their own sinful lives, and neglect of prayer, and of prudent and holy education, even in particular acts, I fear many believing parents never well considered.

12. Yet is not this forfeiture such as obligeth God to deny his Spirit; for he may do with his own, as a free benefactor, as he list; and may have mercy freely, beyond his promise, (though not against his word,) on whom he will have mercy. But I say that he that considereth the woeful unfaithfulness and neglect of most parents, even the religious, in the great work of holy educating their children, may take the blame of their ungodliness on themselves, and not lay it on Christ or the Spirit who was in covenant with them as their Sanctifier, seeing he promised but conditionally to give them the sanctifying heavenly influences of his life, light, and love, in their just use of his appointed means, according to their abilities.[290]

13. Also as soon as children come to a little use of reason, they stand conjunctly on their parents' wills and on their own. As their parents are bound to teach and rule them, so they are bound to learn of them and be ruled by them for their good. And though every sin of a parent or a child be not a total forfeiture of grace, yet both their notable actual sins may justly be punished, with a denial of some further help of the Spirit which they grieve and quench.

{661} II. And now I may seasonably answer the former question, whether infants' baptismal saving grace may be lost, of which I must for the most that is to be said refer the reader to Davenant (in Mr. Bedford's book) on this subject, and to Dr. Samuel Ward joined with it, (though Mr. Gataker's answers are very learned and considerable,) and to my small book called "My Judgment of Perseverance."

Augustine, who first rose up for the doctrine of perseverance, against its adversaries, carried it no higher than to all the elect as such, and not at all to all the sanctified; but oft affirmeth that some that were justified, sanctified, and love God, and are in a state of salvation, are not elect, and fall away; but since the reformation, great reasons have been brought to carry it further to all the truly sanctified; of which cause Zanchius was one of the first learned and zealous patrons, that with great diligence in long disputations maintained it. All that I have now to say is, that I had rather with Davenant believe that the fore-described infant state of salvation, which came by the parents, may be lost by the parents and the children, (though such a sanctified, renewed nature in holy habits of love as the adult have be never lost,) than believe that no infants are in the covenant of grace and to be baptized.

Object. But the child once in possession shall not be punished for the parents' sin.

Answ. 1. This point is not commonly well understood. I have by me a large disputation proving from the current of Scripture, a secondary original sin, besides that from Adam, and a secondary punishment ordinarily inflicted on children for their parents' sins, besides the common punishment of the world for the first sin. 2. But the thing in question is but a loss of that benefit which they received and hold only by another. It is not so properly called a punishment for another's sin, as a non-deliverance, or a non-continuance of their deliverance, which they were to receive on the condition of another's duty.

Object. But the church retaineth them as her members, and so their right is not lost by the fault or apostasy of the parents.

Answ. 1. Lost it is one way or other, with multitudes of true christians' children, who never show any signs of grace, and prove sometimes the worst of men. And God breaketh not his covenant.

2. How doth the church keep the Greeks' children that are made janizaries?

3. No man stayeth in the church without title. If the church or any christians take them as their own, that is another matter. I will not now stay to discuss the question, whether apostates' baptized infants be still church members? But what I have said of their right before God, seemeth plain.

4. And mark, that on whomsoever you build an infant's right, you may as well say, that he may suffer for other men's default; for if you build it on the magistrate, the minister, the church, the godfathers, any of them may fail; they may deny him baptism itself; they may fail in his education; shall he suffer then for want of baptism or good education when it is their faults? Whoever a child or a man is to receive a benefit by, the failing of that person may deprive him of that benefit. More objections I must pretermit, to avoid prolixity.

[287]   Eph. vi. 4, 5; Col. iii. 21; Gen. xviii. 19; Deut. vi. 6-8; xi. 18-20.

[288]   Second commandment. Prov. xx. 7.

[289]   The Holy Ghost is promised in baptism to give the child grace in his parents' and his own faithful use of the appointed means.

[290]   Mr. Whiston, p. 53. As Abraham as a single person in the covenant was to accept of and perform the conditions of the covenant—so as a parent he had something of duty incumbent on him with reference to his (immediate) seed; and as his faithful performance of that duty incumbent on him in his single capacity, so his performing that duty incumbent on him as a parent in reference to his seed, was absolutely necessary in order to his enjoying the good promised, with reference to himself and his seed: proved Gen. xvii. 1; xviii. 19. He proveth that the promise is conditional, and that as to the continuance of the covenant state the conditions are, 1. The parent's upright life. 2. His duty to his children well done. 3. The children's own duty as they are capable.

Quest. XLIV. Doth baptism always oblige us at the present, and give grace at the present? And is the grace which is not given till long after, given by baptism: or an effect of baptism?

Answ. I add this case for two reasons: 1. To open their pernicious error who think that a covenant or promise made by us to God, only for a future, distant duty, (as to repent and believe before we die,) is all that is essential to our baptismal covenanting. 2. To open the ordinary saying of many divines, who say, that baptism worketh not always at the present, but sometimes only long afterward. The truth I think may be thus expressed.

1. It is not baptism, if there be not the profession of a present belief, a present consent, and a present dedition, or resignation, or dedication of the person to God, by the adult for themselves, and by parents for their infants. He that only saith, I promise to believe, repent, and obey only at twenty or thirty years of age, is not morally baptized; for it is another covenant of his own which he would make, which God accepteth not.

2. It is not only a future, but a present relation to God, as his own, his subjects, his children by redemption, to which the baptized person doth consent.

3. It is a present correlation, and not a future only, to which God consenteth on his part, to be their Father, Saviour, and Sanctifier, their Owner peculiarly, their Ruler graciously, and their chief Benefactor, and Felicity, and End.

4. It is not only a future but a present remission of sin, and adoption and right to temporal and eternal mercies, which God giveth to true consenters by his covenant and baptism.

5. But those mercies which we are not at that present capable of, are not to be given at the present, but afterward when we are capable; as the particular assistances of the Spirit, necessary upon all future particular occasions, &c.; the pardon of future sins; actual glorification, &c.[291]

6. And the duties which are to be performed only for the future, we must promise at present to perform only for the future, in their season, to our lives' end. Therefore we cannot promise that infants shall believe, obey, or love God, till they are naturally capable of doing it.

7. If any hypocrite do not indeed repent, believe, or consent when he is baptized, or baptizeth his child, he so far faileth in the covenant professed; and so much of baptism is undone; and God doth not enter into the present covenant relations to him, as being incapable thereof.[292]

8. If this person afterwards repent and believe, it is a doing of the same thing which was omitted in baptism, and a making of the same covenant; but not as a part of his baptism itself, which is long past.

9. Nor is he hereupon to be re-baptized; because the external part was done before, and is not to be twice done; but the internal part which was omitted, is now to be done, not as a part of baptism, (old or new,) but as a part of penitence, for his omission.

Object. If covenanting be a part of baptism, then this person, whose covenant is never a part of his baptism, doth live and die unbaptized.

Answ. As baptism signifieth only the external ordinance, heart covenanting is no part of it, but the profession of it is; and if there was no profession of faith made, by word or sign, the person is unbaptized. But as baptism signifieth the internal part with the external, so he will be no baptized person while he liveth; that is, one that in baptism did truly consent, and receive the spiritual relations to God; but he will have the same thing in another way of God's appointment.

10. When this person is after sanctified, it is by God's performance of the same covenant in specie, {662} which baptism is made to seal, that God doth pardon, justify, and adopt him; but this is not by his past baptism as a cause, but by after grace and absolution. The same covenant doth it, but not baptism; because indeed the covenant or promise saith, Whenever thou believest and repentest, I will forgive thee; but baptism saith, Because thou now believest, I do forgive thee, and wash away thy sin; and maketh present application.

11. So if an infant or adult person live without grace, and at age be ungodly, his baptismal covenant is violated; and his after conversion (or faith and repentance) is neither the fulfilling of God's covenant, nor of his baptism neither. The reason is, because though pardon and adoption be given by that conditional covenant of grace which baptism sealeth, yet so is not that first grace of faith and repentance which is the condition of pardon and adoption, and the title to baptism itself. Else infidels should have right to baptism, and thereby to faith and repentance. But these are only the free gifts of God to the elect, and the fulfilling of some absolute predictions concerning the calling of the elect, and the fulfilling of God's will or covenant to Christ the Mediator, that "He shall see the travail of his soul and be satisfied," and possess those that are given him by the Father.

12. But when the condition of the covenant is at first performed by the parent for the infant, and this covenant never broken on this child's behalf, (notwithstanding sins of infirmity,) in this case the first actual faith and repentance of children as they grow up, is from God's fulfilling of his baptismal covenant with them. The reason is, because that God in that covenant did give them a right of relation to the Holy Spirit in Christ their Head, as their Sanctifier, to operate on them as they are capable. But if they first prove apostates and be after converted, God is disobliged (yea, to hypocrites never was obliged) as to the engagement made by him in baptism; and doth now, 1. Freely give them faith and repentance as a benefactor to his elect, and then, 2. As a covenanter give them pardon and adoption, &c.

13. So to the adult, that truly made the baptismal covenant and never apostatized from it, all the grace that God giveth them through their lives, is his fulfilling of his promises made to them, and sealed by baptism, and a fruit of their baptism. But to hypocrites and apostates it is otherwise, as is before explained.

[291]   Rom. vi. 1, 4, 6, 7, &c.

[292]   Acts viii. 37, 38; xiii. 20-23.

Quest. XLV. What is a proper violation of our baptismal covenant?

Answ. Note well, that there is a wide difference between these questions, 1. When doth a man miss of, or lose, his present part in the covenant or promise of God in the gospel?[293] (This is as long as he is impenitent, an unbeliever and refuser.) 2. When doth a man totally lose his part and hope in that promise or covenant of God, so as to be liable to all the penalty of it? (That is only by final impenitence, unbelief and refusal, when life is ended.) 3. And when doth a man violate his own covenant or promise made to God in baptism? Which is our present question. To which I answer,

1. This promise hath parts essential and parts integral: we promise not both these parts alike, nor on the same terms; though both be promised. The essential parts, are our essential duties of christianity, (faith, love, repentance in the essential parts,) &c. The integrals are the integral duties of Christianity.[294]

2. He that performeth not the essential duties is an apostate, or hypocrite.

3. He that performeth not the integral duties is a sinner, not only against the law of nature, and Christ's precepts, but his own promise; (and in this sense we all confess our breach of covenant with Christ;) but he is no apostate, hypocrite, or out of covenant.

[293]   John iii. 16-18, 36; i. 11-13.

[294]   2 Pet. ii. 20-23; Heb. vi. 2, 4-8; x. 26-28; 1 John i. 9, 10; James iii. 2, 3.

Quest. XLVI. May not baptism in some cases be repeated? And when?

Answ. 1. You must distinguish between baptism, taken morally, or only physically. 2. Between baptism morally, as it is a church or visible covenant, and as a heart covenant. 3. Between real baptism, and seeming baptism, which is a nullity. 4. Between certain reception of baptism, and that which is uncertain or justly doubted of. And so I answer,

1. Real and certain baptism as a visible church ordinance may not be repeated; though the heart covenant was wanting; and though it wanted not only decent modes, but integral parts.

2. But in these cases baptism may be used where it seemed to have been received before.

1. When the person made no profession of the christian faith (nor his parents for him, if an infant). 2. If that profession notoriously wanted an essential part; as if he only professed to believe in God the Father, and not in the Son, or the Holy Ghost. 3. If the minister only baptized him into the name of the Father, or Son, or left out any essential part. 4. If the person or ministry only contracted for a distant futurity, (as, I will be a christian when I am old, &c.) and not for the present; which is not to be christened, but only to promise to be christened hereafter. 5. If all application of water (or any watery element) was omitted, which is the external sign. 6. Of the baptizer's power I shall speak anon. 7. If the church or the person himself have just cause of doubting, whether he was truly baptized or not, to do it again, with hypothetical expressions, If thou art not baptized, I baptize thee; yea, or simply while that is understood, is lawful, and fit. And it is not to be twice baptized morally, but only physically, as I have fully opened in the question of re-ordination, to which I must refer the reader.

3. And I confess I make little doubt but that those in Acts xix. were re-baptized, notwithstanding the witty evasion invented by Phil. Marnixius Aldegondus, and Beza's improvement of it, and the now common reception of that interpretation.[295]

For, 1. A new and forced exposition which no reader dreameth of till it be put into his head, is usually to be suspected, lest art deceive us.

Whether it were re-baptizing.

2. The omission of the Holy Ghost is an essential defect, and maketh baptism specifically another thing; and he were now to be re-baptized who should be so baptized.

3. Whatever some say in heat against the papists, John's baptism and our christian baptism are so specifically distinct also, that he that had now but John's were to be yet baptized: the person of the Messiah himself being not determinately put into John's baptism as such. Nor can it be supposed that all the Jews that John baptized, were baptized into the profession of faith in this numerical person Jesus, but only to an unknown Saviour undetermined: however he pointed to Christ in the hearing of some of {663} his disciples. We must not run from plain truth in peevishness or opposition to papists or any other men.

4. The fifth verse would not be true of John's baptism, as the history showeth, that "when John's hearers heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus." This is contrary to the text that recordeth it.

5. In the fourth verse, the words "that is, on Christ Jesus" are plainly Paul's expository words of John's, and not John's words. John baptized them "into the name of the Messiah that should come after him," which indeed, saith Paul, was Christ Jesus, though not then personally determined by John.

6. The connexion of the fourth, fifth, and sixth verses puts all out of doubt. 1. In the fourth verse the last words are Paul's, "that is, on Christ Jesus." 2. In the next words, verse 4, "When they heard this, they were baptized," &c. must refer to the last words, or to his that was speaking to them. 3. Verse 6, the pronoun "them," "when Paul had laid his hands on them," plainly referreth to them last spoken of, verse 5, which therefore were not John's hearers as such. 4. And the words, "they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus," are plainly distinctive from John's baptism. Saith Grotius, Sic accepere Latinus, Syrus, Arabs, et Veteres omnes ante Marnixium (ut verba Lucæ). Yet I say not so hardly of John's baptism, as Tertullian on this text, (de Baptis.) Adeo postea in Actis apostolorum invenimus, quoniam qui Johannis baptismum habebant, non accepissent Spiritum Sanctum, quem ne auditu quidam noverant: ergo non erat cœleste, quod cœlestia non exhibebat. See Dr. Hammond in loc.

[295]   Of Acts xix. 1-5.

Quest. XLVII. Is baptism by laymen or women lawful in cases of necessity? Or are they nullities, and the person to be re-baptized.

Answ. I. I know some of the ancients allowed it in necessity. But I know no such necessity that can be: for, 1. God hath expressly made it a part of the ministerial office by commission, Matt. xxviii. 19, 20. 2. He hath no where given to any other either command to oblige them to do it or commission to authorize them, or promise to bless and accept them in it, or threatening if they omit it. 3. He oft severely punisheth such as invade the sacred function, or usurp any part of it. 4. Therefore it is a sin in the doer, and then there can be no necessity of it in such a case in the receiver. 5. He that is in covenant by open, professed consent, wants nothing necessary to his salvation, either necessitate medii vel præcepti, when it cannot be had in a lawful way.

II. As to the nullity, I will not determine so controverted a point any further than to say, 1. That if the layman had the counterfeit orders of a minister, and had possession of the place, and were taken for one, his deceit deprived not the receiver of his right, nor made it his sin, and I should not re-baptize him, if after discovered.

2. But if he were in no possession, or pretence of the office, I would be baptized again, if it were my case; because I should fear that what is done in Christ's name by one that notoriously had no authority from him to do it, is not owned by Christ as his deed, and so is a nullity. As if a deceiver go in my name to make bargains for me.

3. And if any that had after discovered a minister to be indeed no minister that baptized him, should doubt of the validity, and for certainty have it done again by an authorized minister, I would not discommend him: nor would I account it morally twice baptizing, but a physical repeating of that act which morally is but one (as I explained before of re-ordination).

Therefore if one that was a gross heretic in the very essentials, or an infidel, or one that had not knowledge and parts essentially necessary to the ministry, baptize one, (in right words,) I would not blame him that for certainty would have an authorized person to do it; especially if he was notoriously such a one when he did it. Let those that are angry with this resolution be as fair to me as they will be to Venerable Bede, and that great miracle-working bishop John, whom in his ecclesiastical history he reporteth to baptize a man again in England, merely because the priest that did it was so dull, ignorant, and insufficient as in John's judgment to be uncapable of the office, and therefore had been by him forbidden to use it, though the person baptized (at age) knew not this:[296] viz. Herebaldus, ut Bed. l. v. c. 6.

[296]   Of which before.

Quest. XLVIII. May anabaptists, that have no other error, be permitted in church communion?

Answ. Yes: and tolerated in their own practice also: for, 1. They agree with us in all points absolutely necessary to communion.

2. The ancient christians had liberty either to baptize, or to let them stay till age, as they thought best; and therefore Tertullian and Nazianzen speak against haste; and Augustine and many children of christian parents were baptized at age.

3. The controversy is of so great difficulty, that if in all such cases none that differ be tolerated, we may not live together in the world or church, but endlessly excommunicate or persecute one another.

4. Such sober antipædobaptists will consent, to profess openly, that they do devote their children to God according to all the power or duty which they can find communicated or laid upon them in the word of God; and that if they believed that God would accept them into his covenant upon their dedication, they would willingly do it. And that actually they do offer them to God according to their power, and promise to bring them up in his way. And who can force men's wills to choose aright for themselves or others?

Quest. XLIX. May one offer his child to be baptized, with the sign of the cross, or the use of chrism, the white garment, milk and honey, or exorcism, as among the Lutherans, who taketh these to be unlawful things?

Answ. I am not now to meddle with the question, whether they be lawful? but to this question I answer,

1. He that judgeth them unlawful, must first do his best to be certain whether they be so or not.

2. If so, he must never approve of them, or consent to them.

3. He must not offer his child to be so baptized, when, cæteris paribus, he may have it done in a better manner on lawful terms.

4. But when he cannot lawfully have better, he may and must offer his child to them that will so baptize him, rather than to worse, or none at all: because baptism is God's ordinance and his privilege, and the sin is the minister's, and not his. Another man's sinful mode will not justify the neglect of our duty; else we might not join in any prayer or sacrament in which the minister modally sinneth; that is, with none.

5. The milk and honey, white garment and chrism, {664} are so ancient (called by Epiphanius and others the traditions and customs of the universal church) that the original of them is not known. And he that then would not be so baptized, must not have been baptized at all.

6. But in this case he that bringeth his child to baptism, should make known, that it is baptism only that he desireth; and that he disowneth and disalloweth the manner which he accounteth sinful: and then he is no consenter to it.

7. But where law, scandal, or great inconveniences forbid him, he is not to make this profession openly in the congregation, but in that prudent manner which beseemeth a sober, peaceable person; whether to the minister in private, or to his neighbours in converse; it being easy among neighbours to make known a man's dissent, without a disorderly troubling of the church, or violating the laws of obedience, civility, and peace.

8. But he must not, 1. Either offer his child to baptism, where the ordinance is essentially corrupted, or worse than none. 2. Or where he cannot be admitted without an actual sin of his own; as by false professions, subscriptions, &c. For we must not do evil for good ends.

Quest. L. Whence came the ancient universal custom of anointing at baptism, and putting on a white garment, and tasting milk and honey? And whether they are lawful to us?

Answ. 1. We must remember that the signification of these was not by a new institution of theirs, but by former custom of the countries where they lived.[297] As, (1.) Anointing in Judea was like bathing at Rome: it was taken in those scorching countries for a wholesome, and easing, and comforting thing; and therefore used to refresh the weary limbs of travellers, and to comfort the sick.

(2.) And it was the long accustomed ceremony also used on officers accounted sacred, kings and priests, who were anointed at their entrance and investiture.

(3.) White clothing and purple were then and there taken for the noblest attire;[298] not appropriated to sacred things and persons; but as scarlet lately in England, the garb only of great men. On which account, not as a sacred vestment, but as an honourable clothing, when the bishops began to be advanced, they were allowed to wear white clothing, not only when they officiated, but at other times.

(4.) The milk and honey were there highly esteemed for food, and accounted the character of the land of promise.[299]

2. Hereupon by application the churches used these signs in the sacred ordinance of baptism: not by new institution of the signification, I say, but by application of the old well-known signification.

3. As natural signs are commonly allowed to be applied to holy things, so signs whose signification is of old and commonly stated and well known by agreement or custom, do seem in this not to be different from natural signs. Such are all words, as signs of our minds; no word signifying any thing naturally, but by agreement or custom only. And such is kneeling in prayer, and being uncovered, and many the like: about some of which Paul appealeth to the custom of the churches of God.[300]

4. It is most probable that these two things together brought in anointing: (1.) The common use of anointing then, in both the foresaid cases (common refreshment and sacred investiture). (2.) And the mistake of all those Scripture texts, which command or mention anointing metaphorical: as 1 John ii. 27, "The anointing which you have received—teacheth you all things." Ezek. xvi. 9, "I washed thee, I anointed thee with oil," &c. Psal. cv. 15; 1 Chron. xvi. 22, "Touch not mine anointed." Rev. iii. 18.[301]

And withal reading that we are made kings and priests to God, and a royal priesthood, they thought this might be signified by the usual honorary signs of such, as well as by words to be called such. So that they took it as if, in our age, the baptized should be set in a chair of state, and sumptuously apparelled, and a feast made to solemnize it, as they do at weddings, and the baptized person set at the upper end, &c. which are significant actions and ceremonies; but they intended them not as new sacraments, or any part of the sacrament, but as a pompous celebration of the sacrament by such additional ceremonial accidents.

5. And you must remember that they lived among infidels, where their profession was made the common scorn, which tempted them by such ostentation and pomp to seek to make it honourable, and to show that they so accounted it, and to encourage those who were discourageable by the scorn. On which account also they used the cross, and the memorials of the martyrs.

6. Yet some, yea, many afterwards did seem to take the anointing for a sacramental action. When they read that the laying on of hands was the sign of giving the Holy Ghost, as distinct from baptism, and that the Spirit is called in Scripture the anointing, they joined both together, and made that which they now called the sacrament of confirmation.

7. Whether the anointing, milk and honey, and the white garment, were then sinful in themselves to the users, I determine not. But certainly they proved very ill by accident, whilst at this door those numerous and unlawful ceremonies have entered, which have so troubled the churches, and corrupted religion; and among the papists, Greeks, Armenians, Abassines, and many others, have made the sauce to become the meat, and the lace to go for clothing, and turned too much of God's worship into imagery, shadows, and pompous shows.

[297]   Psal. xxiii. 5; xcii. 10; Luke vii. 46; Matt. vi. 17; Amos vi. 6; Psal. lxxxix. 20; Lev. xvi. 32; Luke xvi.

[298]   Rev. iii. 4, 5, "They shall walk with me in white."

[299]   Jam. v. 14; Mark vi. 13.

[300]   1 Cor. xi. 16.

[301]   Rev. i. 6; v. 10; xx. 6; 1 Pet. ii. 5, 9.

Quest. LI. Whether it be necessary that they that are baptized in infancy, do solemnly at age renew and own their baptismal covenant, before they have right to the state and privileges of adult members? And if they do not, whether they are to be numbered with christians or apostates?

Answ. 1. Church membership is the same thing in infants and in the adult.

2. Infants are naturally uncapable of doing all that in baptism which the adult must do; as to understand, profess, &c. themselves.

3. The baptism of the adult, being the most complete, because of the maturity of the receivers, is made the standing pattern in Scripture; for God formeth his ordinances to the most perfect ordinary receivers.

4. Though an infant be devoted acceptably to God by his parent's will, yet when he is at age it must be done by his own will.

5. Therefore a bare infant title ceaseth when we come to age, and the person's title ceaseth, unless it be renewed by himself, or his own consent. The reason is, because the conditions of his infant title {665} then cease: for his parent's will shall go for his no longer.

6. Regularly and ad bene esse the transition out of the state of infant membership into the state of adult membership should be very solemn; and by an understanding, personal owning of the baptismal covenant.[302]

7. There needeth no other proof of this, than, 1. That God in Scripture never gave adult persons title to this covenant, but by their own personal consent; and at the first institution of baptism, both went together, (personal profession and baptism,) because the receivers were adult. 2. And that infants are capable of baptism, but not of personal profession. 3. Therefore though they are not to repeat baptism, which was done before, yet they are bound to make that profession at age which they never made before.

8. Where this solemn owning of their covenant cannot be had, (by reason of church corruptions, and magistrates' prohibition,) there the person's ordinary joining with the church, in the public profession and worship, is to be taken for an owning it.

9. He that being baptized in infancy, doth no way at full age own his baptismal covenant, is to be taken for an apostate: 1. Because his infant title ceaseth. 2. And he notoriously violateth his covenant. 3. Because he can be no adult christian that no way owneth Christ.

10. But this is to be understood of those that have opportunity; for one in a wilderness among heathens only, cannot join in public worship, nor give testimony of his christianity to the church.

11. Though the sacrament of the Lord's supper be appointed for the renewing of our covenant at age, yet is it not the first owning of the covenant, by the aged: for that sacrament belongeth neither to infants nor infidels; and he that claimeth it, must be an adult church member or christian; which those are not, who at full age no way ever owned their baptismal covenant, nor made any personal profession of christianity.

But of this I have written purposely in a "Treatise of Confirmation" long ago.

[302]   See the proofs of all in my "Treatise of Confirmation."

Quest. LII. Whether the universal church consist only of particular churches and their members?

Answ. No: particular churches are the most regular parts of the universal church, but not the whole; no more than cities and corporations be all the kingdom. 1. Some may be, as the eunuch, baptized before they can come to any particular church; or as Paul, before they can be received.[303]

2. Some may live where church tyranny hindereth them, by sinful impositions; as all that live among the papists.

3. Some may live in times of doubting, distraction, and confusion, and not know what church ordinarily to join with, and may providently go promiscuously to many, and keep in an unfixed state for a time.

4. Some may be wives, children, or servants, who may be violently hindered.

5. Some may live where no particular churches are; as merchants and ambassadors among Mahometans and heathens.

[303]   Acts viii. 37, &c.; ix. 17-20, 26-28.

Quest. LIII. Must the pastor first call the church, and aggregate them to himself, or the church first congregate themselves, and then choose the pastor?

Answ. 1. The pastors are in order of nature, if not in time, first ministers of Christ in general, before they are related to a particular charge.

2. As such ministers, they first make men fit to be congregate, and tell them their duty therein.

3. But it is a matter variable and indifferent, whether the minister first say, All that will join with me, and submit to me as their pastor, shall be my particular charge; or the people before congregated do call a man to be their pastor.

Quest. LIV. Wherein doth a particular church of Christ's institution differ from a consociation of many churches?

Answ. 1. In that such particular church is a company of christians associated for personal immediate communion in God's worship and in holy living; whereas consociations of churches are combined for mediate distinct communion, or by delegates, or representatives (as in synods).[304]

2. Such a particular church is constituted of one or more pastors with the people, officiating in the sacred ministry among them, in doctrine, worship, and discipline, in order to the said personal communion. But a consociation of churches hath no particular head as such, of divine institution, to constitute and govern them as one. In Ignatius's time every particular church was characterized or known by two marks of unity: 1. One altar (that is, one place of assembling for holy communion). 2. One bishop with the presbyters and deacons: and two altars and two bishops proved two churches.

3. A particular church under one bishop or the same pastors, is a political, holy society; but a combination of many churches consociate, is not so, but only, 1. Either a community agreeing to live in concord, as neighbour kingdoms may. 2. Or else a human policy or society, and not of divine immediate institution. So that if this consociation of churches be called a church, it must be either equivocally or in a human sense.

[304]   Acts ii. 1, 24, 44, 46; iv. 32; v. 12; 1 Thess. v. 12, 13; 1 Cor. xiv. 19, 23, 24, 28, 35; Acts xiv. 23; Titus i. 5; Acts xi. 26; James ii. 2.

Quest. LV. Whether a particular church may consist of more assemblies than one? or must needs meet all in one place?

Answ. 1. The true distinguishing note of a particular church is, that they be associated for holy communion in worship and holy living, not by delegates, nor distantly only, by owning the same faith, and loving one another, as we may do with those at the antipodes; but personally in presence.

2. Therefore they must necessarily be so near, as to be capable of personal, present communion.[305]

3. And it is most convenient that they be no more than can ordinarily meet in the same assembly, at least for sacramental communion.

4. But yet they may meet in many places or assemblies, as chapels, or oratories, or other subordinate meetings, which are appointed to supply the necessity of the weak and aged, and them that cannot travel far. And in times of persecution, when the church dare not at all meet in one place, they may make up several smaller meetings, under several pastors of the same church. But they should come all together as oft as they can.

5. And it is to be considered that all the persons of a family can seldom go to the assembly at one time, especially when they live far off. Therefore if a church place would receive but ten thousand, {666} yet twenty thousand might be members, while half meet one day and half another (or another part of the day).

6. Two congregations distinctly associated for personal worship, under distinct pastors, or having statedly (as Ignatius speaketh) two bishops and two altars, are two particular churches, and can no otherwise be one church, than as that may be called one which is a consociation of divers.

[305]   1 Cor. xiv. 19, 23; Acts xi. 26, &c. as before cited.

Quest. LVI. Is any form of church government of divine institution?

Answ. Yea: there are two essentially different policies or forms of church government of Christ's own institution, never to be altered by man. 1. The form of the universal church, as headed by Christ himself; which all christians own as they are christians in their baptism.

2. Particular churches, which are headed by their particular bishops or pastors, and are parts of the universal, as a troop is of an army, or a city of a kingdom.

Here it is of divine institution, 1. That there be holy assemblies for the public worship of God.

2. That these assemblies be societies, constituted of the people with their pastors, who are to them as captains to their troops under the general, or as mayors to cities under the king.[306]

3. That these pastors have the power of the keys, or the special guidance and governance (by the word, not by the sword) of their own particular charge, in the matters of faith, worship, and holy living; and that the flocks obey them. And when all this is jure divino, why should any say, that no form of government is jure divino?

3. Moreover it is of divine appointment, that these churches hold the nearest concord, and help each other as much as they can; whether by synods, or other meet ways of correspondency. And though this be not a distinct government, it is a distinct mode of governing.

Object. But that there be pastors with fixed churches or assemblies is not of the law of nature.

Answ. 1. Hath Christ no law but the law of nature? Wherein then differ the christian religion and the heathenish? 2. Suppose but Christ to be Christ, and man to be what he is, and nature itself will tell us that this is the fittest way for ordering the worship of God. For nature saith, God must be solemnly and ordinarily worshipped, and that qualified persons should be the official guides in the performance, and that people who need such conduct and private oversight besides, should where they live have their own stated overseers.

Object. But particular congregations are not de primaria intentione divina: for if the whole world could join together in the public worship of God, no doubt that would be properly a church. But particular congregations are only accidental, in reference to God's intention of having a church, because of the impossibility of all men's joining together for ordinances, &c.

Answ. 1. The question with me is not whether they be of primary intention, but whether stated churches headed with their proper bishops or pastors be not of God's institution in the Scripture?

2. This objection confirmeth it, and not denieth it. For, 1. It confesseth that there is a necessity of joining for God's worship: 2. And an impossibility that all the world should so join: 3. But if the whole world could so join, it would be properly a church. So that it confesseth that to be a society joined for God's public worship, is to be properly a church. And we confess all this: if all the world could be one family, they might have one master; or one kingdom, they might have one king. But when it is confessed, that, 1. A natural impossibility of a universal assembly necessitateth more particular assemblies; 2. And that Christ hath instituted such actually in his word, what more can a considerate man require?

3. I do not understand this distinction, de primaria intentione divina, and accidental, &c. The primary intention is properly of the ultimate end only: and no man thinketh that a law de mediis, of the means, is no law, or that God hath made no laws de mediis: for Christ as a mediator is a means. But suppose it be limited to the matter of church laws; if this be the meaning of it, that it is not the principal means, but a subordinate means, or that it is not instituted only propter finem ultimum, no more than propter se, but also in order to a higher thing as its immediate end, we make no question of that. Assemblies are not only that there may be assemblies; but for the worship and offices there performed: and those for man; and all for God. But what of all this? Hath God made no laws for subordinate means? No christian denieth it.

Therefore the learned and judicious disputer of this point declareth himself for what I say, when he saith, I engage not in the controversy, Whether a particular congregation be the first political church or no? it sufficeth for my purpose, that there are other churches besides.—The thing in question is, Whether there be no other church but such particular congregations? Where it seemeth granted that such particular churches are of divine institution; and for other churches I shall say more anon. In the mean time note, that the question is but de nomine here, whether the name church be fit for other societies, and not de re.[307]

But lest any should grow to the boldness to deny that Christ hath instituted christian stated societies, consisting of pastors and flocks, associate for personal communion in public worship and holy living; (which is my definition of a particular church, as not so confined to one assembly, but that it may be in divers, and yet not consisting of divers such distinct stated assemblies with their distinct pastors, nor of such as can have no personal communion, but only by delegates;) I prove it thus from the word of God.

(1.) The apostles were commissioned by Christ to deliver his commands to all the churches, and settle them according to his will, John xx. 21; Matt. xxviii. 19, 20, &c.

(2.) These commissioned persons had the promise of an infallible Spirit for the due performance of their work, John xvi. 13-15; xv. 26; xiv. 26; Matt, xxviii. 20.

(3.) These apostles, wherever the success of the gospel prepared them materials, did settle christian stated societies, consisting of pastors or elders with their flocks, associated for personal communion in public worship and holy living. These settled churches they gave orders to for their direction, and preservation, and reformation: these they took the {667} chief care of themselves, and exhorted their elders to fidelity in their work. They gave command that none should forsake such assemblies; and they so fully describe them, as that they cannot easily be misunderstood. All this is proved, Acts xiv. 23; Titus i. 5; Rom. xvi. 1; 1 Cor. xi. 18, 20, 22, 26; xiv. 4, 5, 12, 19, 23, 28, 33, 34; Col. iv. 16; Acts xi. 26; xiii. 1; 1 Cor. xvi. 1, 2; Acts xiv. 27; xv. 3, to omit many more. Here are proofs enow that such particular churches were de facto settled by the apostles. Heb. x. 25, "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together." So James ii. 2, they are called synagogues.

2. It is confessed that there is a natural necessity of such stated churches or assemblies, supposing but the institution of the worship itself which is there performed; and if so, then we may that the law of nature itself doth partly require them.

(1.) It is of the law of nature, that God be publicly worshipped, as most expositors of the fourth commandment do confess.

(2.) It is of the law of nature that the people be taught to know God and their duty, by such as are able and fit to teach them.

(3.) The law of nature requireth, that man being a sociable creature, and conjunction working strongest affections, we should use our sociableness in the greatest matters, and by conjunction help the zeal of our prayers and praises of God.

(4.) God's institution of public preaching, prayer and praise, are scarce denied by any christians.

(5) None of these can be publicly done but by assembling.

(6.) No assembly can suffice for these without a minister of Christ; because it is only his office to be the ordinary teacher, and to go before the people in prayer and praise, and to administer the Lord's supper, which without a minister may not be celebrated, because Christ's part cannot be otherwise performed, than by some one in his name, and by his warrant to deliver his sealed covenant to the receivers, and to invest them visibly in the benefits of it, and receive them that offer themselves in covenant to him.

(7.) It is also a ministerial duty to instruct the people personally, and to watch over them at other times, Acts xx. 20, 28. And to be examples of the flock, 1 Pet. v. 1-3. To have the rule over the people, and labour among them, and admonish them, 1 Thess. v. 12; Heb. xiii. 7, 17; 1 Tim. v. 17. To exercise holy discipline among them, Titus iii. 10; Matt. xviii. 17, 18; 1 Cor. v. To visit the sick and pray over them, James v. 14. Yea, to take care of the poor. See Dr. Hammond on 1 Cor. xii. 28. And all this cannot possibly be well done by uncertain, transient ministers, but only by a resident, stated pastor, no more than transient strangers can rule all our families, or all the christian kingdoms of the world.

(8.) And as this cannot be done but by stated pastors, so neither on transient persons ordinarily; for who can teach them that are here to-day and gone to-morrow? When the pastor should proceed from day to day in adding one instruction to another, the hearers will be gone, and new ones in their place. And how can vigilancy and discipline be exercised on such transient persons, whose faults and cases will be unknown? Or how can they mutually help each other? And seeing most in the world have fixed habitations, if they have not also fixed church relations, they must leave their habitations and wander, or else have no church communion at all.

(9.) And as this necessity of fixed pastors and flocks is confessed, so that such de facto were ordinarily settled by the apostles, is before proved, if any Scriptures may pass for proof.

The institution and settlement then of particular worshipping churches is out of doubt. And so that two forms of church government are jure divino, the universal church form, and the particular.

4. Besides this, in the apostles' days there were under Christ in the church universal, many general officers that had the care of gathering and overseeing churches up and down, and were fixed by stated relation unto none. Such were the apostles, evangelists, and many of their helpers in their days. And most christian churches think that though the apostolical extraordinary gifts, privileges, and offices cease, yet government being an ordinary part of their work, the same form of government which Christ and the Holy Ghost did settle in the first age, were settled for all following ages, though not with the same extraordinary gifts and adjuncts. Because, |Reasons for a larger episcopacy.|1. We read of the settling of that form, (viz. general officers as well as particular,) but we never read of any abolition, discharge, or cessation of the institution. 2. Because if we affirm a cessation without proof, we seem to accuse God of mutability, as settling one form of government for one age only, and no longer. 3. And we leave room for audacious wits accordingly to question other gospel institutions, as pastors, sacraments, &c. and to say that they were but for one age. 4. It was general officers that Christ promised to be with to the end of the world, Matt. xxviii. 20.

Now either this will hold true or not. If not, then this general ministry is to be numbered with the human additions to be next treated of. If it do, then here is another part of the form of government proved to be of divine institution. I say not, another church, (for I find nothing called a church in the New Testament, but the universal church and the particular,) but another part of the government of both churches, universal and particular; because such general officers are so in the universal, as to have a general oversight of the particular; as an army is headed only by the general himself, and a regiment by the colonel, and a troop by the captain: but the general officers of the army (the lieutenants-general, the majors-general, &c.) are under the lord-general in and over the army, and have a general oversight of the particular bodies (regiments and troops). Now if this be the instituted form of Christ's church government, that he himself rule absolutely as general, and that he hath some general officers under him, (not any one having a charge of the whole, but in the whole unfixedly, or as they voluntarily part their provinces,) and that each particular church have its own proper pastor, (one or more,) then who can say, that no form of church government is of divine appointment or command?

Object. But the question is only whether any sole form be of God's commanding? And whether another may not have as much said for it as this?

Answ. Either you mean another instead of this, as a competitor, or, another part conjunct with these parts.

1. If the first be your sense, then you have two works to do. 1. To prove that these before mentioned were mutable institutions, or that they were settled but disjunctively with some other, and that the choice was left indifferent to men. 2. To prove the institution of your other form (which you suppose left with this to men's free choice).

But I have already proved, that both the general and particular church form are settled for continuance as unchangeable ordinances of God. I suppose {668} you doubt not of the continuance of Christ's supremacy, and so of the universal form: and if you will prove that church assemblies with their pastors may cease, and some other way supply the room, you must be strange and singular undertakers. The other two parts of the government (by general officers, and by consociation of churches) are more disputed; but it is the circumstances of the last only that is controverted, and not the thing; and for the other I shall now add nothing to what I have said elsewhere.[308]

2. But if you only mean that another part of the form may be jure divino as well as this, that will but prove still that some form is jure divino.

But, 3. If you mean that God having instituted the forms now proved, hath left man at liberty to add more of his own, I shall now come to examine that case also.

[306]   Eph. i. 22, 23; v. 25, 26, &c.; iv. 4-6, 16; Heb. x. 25; 1 Cor. xiv.; Acts xiv. 23; Titus i. 5; 1 Tim. v. 17; 1 Thess. v. 12, 13; 1 Tim. iii. 3-6; 1 Pet. v. 1-3; Acts xx. 28; Phil. i. 1, 2.

[307]   Dr. Stillingfleet's Iren. p. 154. so p. 173. By church here I mean not a particular congregation, &c. So he granteth that, 1. The universal church, 2. Particular congregations, are of divine institution; one ex intentione primaria, and the other, as he calls it, accidentally, but yet of natural necessity.

[308]   Disput. of Church Gov. disp. 3.

Quest. LVII. Whether any forms of churches, and church government, or any new church officers, may lawfully be invented and made by man?

Answ. To remove ambiguities, 1. By the word forms may be meant either that relative form of such aggregate bodies which is their essence, and denominateth them essentially; or only some accidental mode which denominateth them but accidentally.

2. By churches is meant either holy societies related by the foundation of a divine institution; or else societies related by accident, or by human contract only.

3. By church government is meant, either that government formally ecclesiastical, which constituteth a church, of Christ's making; or else some government about the matters of the church, which is formally either magistratical or human, (by contract,) &c.

4. So by church officers are meant, either such as are accounted essential to a church in the pure christian sense; or integral at least (as deacons); or else such as are accounted but accidental to it, and essential only to the human form. And so I answer,

1. As there are some things circa sacra, or accidents of God's special church worship, which are left to human prudence to determine of, so the same human prudence may determine who shall do them. As, e. g. Who shall repair the buildings of the church; the windows, the bells, the pulpits, the tables, &c.; who shall keep the clock; who shall keep the cups, cloths, and other utensils; who shall be the porter, the keeper of the books, &c.; who shall call the people to church, or ring the bells, or give them notice of church assemblies; who shall make the bread for the sacrament, or provide wine, or bring water for baptism; who shall make the graves, and bury the dead, or attend marriages, or baptizings, &c.; who shall set the tune of the psalm, or use the church music (if there be any); who shall summon any of the people on any just occasion to come to their pastors; or who shall summon the pastors to any synod, or lawful assembly, and give them notice of the time and place; when they are to meet, who shall be called first, and who second; who shall sit highest, and who lowest; who shall take the votes, or moderate or guide the disputations of the assembly; who shall be the scribe, and record what is done; who shall send abroad their agreements, and who shall be the church messenger to carry them. The agents of such circumstantials maybe chosen by the magistrate, or by the churches, or pastors, as is most convenient. Though I doubt not but in the beginning the deacons were mere servants to the pastors, to do as much of such circumstantial work as they were able; of which serving at tables, and looking to the poor, and carrying bread and wine to the absent, &c. were but parts; and all went under the name of ministering to the pastors or churches. And therefore they seem to be such an accidental office, appointed by the apostles, on such common reasons, as magistrates or churches might have appointed them, if they had not.

2. If one will call all or many of these, church officers, and another will not, it is but a strife about names, which one will use more largely and the other more narrowly or strictly.

3. If magistrates by authority, or the churches by agreement, shall distribute the country for conveniency into parishes, (not making all to be church members that dwell in those precincts, but determining that all persons that are fit in those proximities, and they only, shall be members of that particular church,) and then shall denominate the church from this accident of place, it is but what is left to their discretion.

4. And if the said magistrates or churches shall divide a kingdom into provinces, and say, that whereas God commandeth us the use of correspondencies, mutual advice, and synods, for the due help, concord, and communion of churches, and all things must be done in order and to edification; therefore we determine that so many churches shall make up such a synod, and the churches of such a district shall make up another synod, and so shall be specially related to each other for concord as advisers, all this is but the prudent determining of church circumstances or accidents left to man.

5. And if they shall appoint that either a magistrate or one pastor shall be for order's sake the appointer of the times and places of meeting, or the president of the synod, to regulate and order proceedings, and keep peace, as is aforesaid, it is but an accident of the sacred work which man may determine of. Therefore a layman may be such a president or regulator.

6. And if they will call this man by the name of a church governor, who doth but a common part therein, and from thence will call this association or province by the name of a church, which is but a company of churches associated for concord and counsel, the name maketh it not another thing than it is without that name; and the name may be lawful or unlawful as times and probable consequents make it fit or unfit as to use.

7. So much of church matters as is left to the magistrate's government, may be under monarchy, aristocracy, or democracy, and under such subordinate officers as the supreme ruler shall appoint.

8. And if the magistrate will make assemblies or councils of pastors, to be his councils, and require them frequently to meet to advise him in the performance of his own trust and work about religion and the church, he may accordingly distribute them into provinces for that use, or order such circumstances as he please.

9. And if a province of churches be called one church, because it is under one magistrate, or a nation of churches called a national church, because it is under one king, or many kingdoms or an empire called one catholic church, because they are all under one emperor; it must be confessed that this question is but de nomine, and not de re.

And further, 1. That in sacred things that which is of divine and primary institution is the famosius analogatum, and not that which is but formed by man. 2. That when such an ambiguous word is used without explication or explicating circumstances, {669} it is to be taken for the famosius analogatum. 3. That in this case the word church or church form is certainly ambiguous and not univocal. 4. That a national, imperial, or provincial church as headed by a king, emperor, magistrate, or any head of man's appointment, is another thing from a church of Christ's institution; and is but an accident or adjunct of it: and the head of the human form, if called the head of the church of Christ, is but an accidental head, and not constitutive. And if Christ's churches be denominated from such a head, they are denominated but from an accident, as a man may be denominated clothed or unclothed, clothed gorgeously or sordidly, a neighbour to this man or that, &c. It is no formal denomination of a church in the first acception, as it signifieth the famosius analogatum; though otherwise many kind of societies may be called ecclesiæ or cœtus: but divines should not love confusion.

10. It seemeth to me that the first distribution of churches in the Roman empire, into patriarchal, primates, metropolitical, provincial, diocesan, were only the determination of such adjuncts or extrinsic things, partly by the emperors, and partly by the church's consent upon the emperor's permission; and so that these new church governments were partly magistratical, or by power derived from the emperors, and partly mere agreements or contracts by degrees degenerating into governments; and so the new forms and names are all but accidental, of adjuncts of the true christian churches. And though I cannot prove it unlawful to make such adjunctive or extrinsic constitutions, forms, and names, considering the matter simply itself, yet by accident these accidents have proved such to the true churches, as the accident of sickness is to the body, and have been the causes of the divisions, wars, rebellions, ruins, and confusions of the christian world. 1. As they have served the covetousness and ambition of carnal men. 2. And have enabled them to oppress simplicity and sincerity. 3. And because princes have not exercised their own power themselves, nor committed it to lay officers, but to churchmen. 4. Whereby the extrinsic government hath so degenerated, and obscured the intrinsic, and been confounded with it, that both going under the equivocal name of ecclesiastical government, few churches have had the happiness to see them practically distinct.[309] Nay, few divines do clearly in their controversy distinguish them. (Though Marsilius Patavinus and some few more have formerly given them very fair light, yet hath it been but slenderly improved.)

11. There seemeth to me no readier and directer way, to reduce the churches to holy concord, and true reformation, than for the princes and magistrates who are the extrinsic rulers, to re-assume their own, and to distinguish openly and practically between the properly priestly or pastoral intrinsic office, and their extrinsic part, and to strip the pastors of all that is not intrinsically their own (it being enough for them, and things so heterogeneous not well consisting in one person): and then when the people know what is claimed as from the magistrate only, it will take off most of their scruples as to subjection and consent.

12. No mortal man may abrogate or take down the pastoral office, and the intrinsic, real power thereof, and the church form which is constituted thereby; seeing God hath instituted them for perpetuity on earth.

13. But whether one church shall have one pastor or many is not at all of the form of a particular church; but it is of the integrity or gradual perfection of such churches as need many, to have many, and to others not so: not that it is left merely to the will of man, but it is to be varied as natural necessity and cause requireth.

14. The nature of the intrinsic office or power (anon to be described) is most necessary to be understood as distinct from the power of magistrates, by them that would truly understand this. The number of governors in a civil state make that which is called a variety of forms of commonwealths, monarchy, aristocracy, or democracy: because commanding power is the thing which is there most notably exercised, and primarily magnified. And a wiser and better man, yea, a thousand, must stand by as subjects, for want of authority or true power; which can be but in one supreme, either natural or political person; because it cannot consist in the exercise with self-contradiction. If one be for war, and another for peace, &c. there is no rule. Therefore the many must be one collective or political person, and must consent or go by the major vote, or they cannot govern. But that which is called government in priests or ministers, is of another nature; it is but a secondary subservient branch of their office: the first parts are teaching and guiding the people, as their priests, to God in public worship: and they govern them by teaching, and in order to further teaching and worshipping God; and that not by might, but by reason and love. Of which more anon. Therefore if a sacred congregation be taught and conducted in public worship, and so governed as conduceth hereunto, whether by one, two, or many, it no more altereth the form of the church, than it doth the form of a school, when a small one hath one schoolmaster, and a great one four: or of an hospital, when a small one hath one physician, and a great one many; seeing that teaching in the one, and healing in the other, is the main denominating work, to which government is but subservient in the most notable acts of it.

15. No mortal man may take on him to make another church, or another office for the church, as a divine thing, on the same grounds, and of the same nature pretendedly as Christ hath made those already made. The case of adding new church officers or forms of churches, is the same with that of making new worship ordinances for God, and accordingly to be determined (which I have largely opened in its place). Accidents may be added. Substantials of like pretended nature may not be added; because it is a usurping of Christ's power, without derivation by any proved commission; and an accusing of him, as having done his own work imperfectly.

16. Indeed no man can here make a new church officer of this intrinsic sort, without making him new work, which is to make new doctrine, or new worship (which are forbidden): for to do God's work already made belongs to the office already instituted. If every king will make his own officers, or authorize the greater to make the less, none must presume to make Christ officers and churches without his commission.

17. No man must make any office, church, or ordinance, which is corruptive or destructive, or contrary or injurious to the offices, churches, and ordinances which Christ himself hath made. This Bellarmin confesseth, and therefore I suppose protestants will not deny it. Those human officers which usurp the work of Christ's own officers, and take it out of their hands, do malignantly fight against Christ's institutions: and while they pretend {670} that it is but preserving and not corrupting or opposing additions which they make, and yet with these words in their mouths, do either give Christ's officers' work to others, or hinder and oppress his officers themselves, and by their new church forms undermine or openly destroy the old, by this expression of their enmity they confute themselves.

18. This hath been the unhappy case of the Roman frame of church innovations, as you may observe in the particulars of its degeneracy.

(1.) Councils were called general or œcumenical in respect to one empire only; and they thence grew to extend the name to the whole world; when they may as well say, that Constantine, Martian, &c. were emperors of the whole world, seeing by their authority they were called.

(2.) These councils at first were the emperor's councils called to direct him what to settle in church orders by his own power; but they were turned to claim an imposing authority of their own to command the churches as by commission from God.

(3.) These councils at first were only for counsel, or for agreement by way of contract or mutual consent to the particular bishops; but they degenerated into a form of government, and claimed a ruling and commanding power.

(4.) The patriarchs, primates and metropolitans, at first claimed but a power about circumstantials extrinsical to the pastoral office, such as is the timing and placing of councils, the sitting above others, &c. And the exercise of some part of the magistrate's power committed to them, that is, the deposing of other bishops or pastors from their station of such liberty and countenance as the magistrate may grant or deny as there is cause. But in time they degenerated to claim the spiritual power of the keys, over the other bishops, in point of ordination, excommunication, absolution.

(5.) These patriarchs, primates, and metropolitans, at first claimed their extrinsic power but from man, that is, either the consent and agreement of the churches, or the grant of the emperors: but in time they grew to claim it as of divine or apostolical appointment, and as unalterable.

(6.) At first they were taken only for adjuncts, ornaments, supports, or conveniences to the churches: but afterwards they pretended to be integral parts of the church universal, and at last the pope would needs be an essential part; and his cardinals must claim the power of the church universal in being the choosers of a universal head, or a king priest and teacher for all the christians of the world.

(7.) At first laymen (now called chancellors, &c.) were only the bishops' counsellors, or officers to the magistrate or them, in performing the extrinsical work about church adjuncts, which a layman might do: but at last they came to exercise the intrinsic power of the keys in excommunications and absolutions, &c.

(8.) At first a number of particular churches consociated with their several bishops, were taken to be a community or company of true churches prudentially cantonized or distributed and consociated for concord; but after they grew to be esteemed proper political societies, or churches of divine appointment, if not the ecclesia minimæ, having turned the particular churches into oratories or chapels, destroying Ignatius's character of one church, To every church there is one altar, and one bishop with his presbyters and deacons. Abundance more such instances may be given.

Object. Wherever we find the notion of a church particular, there must be government in that church; and why a national society incorporated into one civil government, joining into the profession of christianity, and having a right thereby to participate of gospel ordinances, in the convenient distributions of them in the particular congregations, should not be called a church, I confess I can see no reason.

Answ. 1. Here observe, that the question is only of the name, (whether it may be called a church,) and not of the thing (whether all the churches in a kingdom may be under one king, which no sober man denieth).

2. Names are at men's disposal much; but I confess I had rather the name had been used no otherwise, or for no other societies, than Scripture useth it. My reasons are, (1.) Because when Christ hath appropriated or specially applied one name to the sacred societies of his institution, it seemeth somewhat bold to make that name common to other societies. (2.) Because it tendeth to confusion, misunderstanding, and to cherish errors and controversies in the churches, when all names shall be made common or ambiguous, and holy things shall not be allowed any name proper to themselves, nor any thing can be known by a bare name without a description. If the name of Christ himself should be used of every anointed king, it would seem not a little thus injurious to him. If the name, Bible, Scripture, preachers, &c. be made common to all that the notation of the names may extend to, it will introduce the aforesaid inconveniences; so how shall we in common talk distinguish between sacred societies of divine institution and of human if you will allow us no peculiar name, but make that common which Christ hath chosen?

3. And that the name is here used equivocally is manifest. For the body political is informed and denominated from the pars imperans, the governing part or head: therefore as a head of divine institution, authorized for the spiritual or pastoral work, denominateth the society accordingly; so a civil head can make but a civil society, and a head of man's making, but a human society. It is certain that Christ hath appointed the episcopal or pastoral office, and their work, and consequently episcopal or pastoral churches; and it is certain that a king is no constitutive part of one of these churches, but accidental; and therefore that he is an accidental head to a pastoral church as such, to which the pastor is essential.

Therefore if you will needs call both these societies churches, you must distinguish them into pastoral churches, and regal churches, or magistratical churches; for the word national, notifieth not the government which is the constitutive part; and may be used of consociated churches, though under many civil governors (as in the Saxon Heptarchy).

So that our question is much like this, Whether all the grammar schools in England as under one king may be called one national school? Answ. Not without unfitness, and inconveniences; but rather than breed any quarrel, they may call them so that please: but, 1. They must confess that a particular school is the famosius significatum. 2. That the king is king of schools, but not a schoolmaster, nor a constitutive part of a school. 3. That if you will needs denominate them from the regent part, as one, you must call them all one royal school, if you will leave the well-known sense of words for such uncouth phrases. But give us leave to call the body which is essentiated by a king, by the name of a kingdom only, though it have in it many schools, academies, colleges, cities, churches, which they that please may call all one royal school, academy, college, city, and church, if they love confusion.

4. Christianity giveth men right to communion in particular churches, when they also make known {671} their christianity to the bishops of those churches, and are received (as stated or transient) members by mutual consent; but not otherwise; nor doth mere regal government give any subject right to church communion, except by a church you mean a kingdom.

Object. A particular church then I would describe thus, It is a society of men joined together in the visible profession of the true faith, having a right to, and enjoying among them, the ordinances of the gospel.

Answ. 1. When you tell us by your description what you will mean by a particular church, we may understand your denomination; but yet while it is unusual, you must not expect that other men so use the word. Had you called your description a definition, I would have asked you, 1. Whether by a society, you mean not strictly a political society constituted by a pars gubernans, et gubernata? If not, it is no church save equivocally. If so, should not the pars regens which is constitutive have been put in? If private men join together, &c. it makes but a community. 2. A right to gospel ordinances is supposed, but need not be in the definition. 3. The enjoying of them, is not essential to a church. The relation may continue, when the enjoyment is a long time hindered. 4. Among them is a very ambiguous word; is it among them in the same place; or in the same country or kingdom; or in the same world? If you difference and define them not, by relation to the same bishops or pastors, and by intended personal holy communion, your description confoundeth the universal church, as well as the national, with a particular church; for the whole christian world, is a society of men joining together in the visible profession of the true faith, having a right to, and enjoying among them, the ordinances of the gospel.

Object. A nation joining in the profession of christianity is a true church of God; whence it evidently followeth, that there must be a form of ecclesiastical government over a nation as a church, as well as of civil government over it, as a society governed by the same laws.—For every society must have its government belonging to it as such a society; and the same reason that makes government necessary in any particular congregation, will make it necessary for all the particular congregations, joining together in one visible society, as a particular national church, for the unity and peace of that church ought much more to be looked after than any one particular congregation, &c.

Answ. 1. From one absurdity many follow: our controversy before was but of the name: if an accidental royal or civil head may equivocally denominate an ecclesiastical society, and we grant you the use of an equivocal name, (or rather the abuse,) you will grow too hard upon us, if thence you will gather a necessity of a real ecclesiastical policy, besides the civil. Names abused infer not the things signified by an univocal term.

2. You must first prove the form of government, and thence infer the denomination, and not, contrarily, first beg the name, and then infer the government.

3. If yet by a form of ecclesiastical government, you meant nothing but the king's extrinsic government, which you may as well call also a form of school government, of college government, &c. we would grant you all. But if I can understand you, you now speak of ecclesiastical government as distinct from that. And then,

4. You are now grown up from a may be, to a must be, and necessity; and a greater necessity of one national ecclesiastical government, than of a particular church government; which being undeniably of Christ's institution, (by the Holy Ghost in the apostles,) you do not make all forms to be indifferent, or deny this to be jure divino. What! necessary and more necessary than that which is jure divino, and yet indifferent and not jure divino? If you say, It is necessary only on supposition that there be a national church: I answer, But your reasons evidently infer that it is also necessary that there be such a national church where it may be had; though you deny the necessity of monarchical government by one high priest in it. But I know you call not this a form of government, unless as determinately managed by one, many or most. But why a national spiritual policy as distinct from congregational, may not be called a form of government, as well as one man is distinct from two, over the same people, I see not: but this is at your liberty. But your necessity of such a national regimen is a matter of greater moment.

In these three senses I confess a national church. 1. As all the christians in a nation are under one civil church governor. 2. As they are consociated for concord, and meet in synods or hold correspondences. 3. As they are all a part of the universal church, cohabiting in one nation. But all these are equivocal uses of the word church; the denomination being taken in the first from an accident; in the second the name of a policy being given to a community agreeing for concord; in the third the name of the whole is given to a small integral part.

But the necessity of any other church, headed by your ecclesiastical, national governor, personal or collective, monarchical, aristocratical, or democratical, I utterly deny, and find not a word of proof which I think I have any need to furnish the reader with an answer to.

5. And your judgment in this is downright against the constitution, canons, and judgment of the national church of England; for that they use the word in the senses allowed by me, and not in yours, is proved, (1.) From the visible constitution, in which there is (besides the king) no distinct ecclesiastical head. For the archbishop of Canterbury is not the proper governor of the archbishop of York and his province.

(2.) From the canons. Can. cxxxix. "A national synod is the church representative; whosoever shall affirm that the sacred synod of this nation, in the name of Christ and by the king's authority assembled, is not the true church of England by representation, let him be excommunicated," &c. So that the synod is but the representative church; and therefore not the political head of the church: whether it be the laity, or the whole clergy, or both, which they represent, representation of those that are no national head, maketh them not a national head.

(3.) From the ordinary judgment of episcopal divines, (maintained by Bishop Bilson and many others at large, against the papists,) that all bishops jure divino are equal and independent, further than human laws, or agreements, or difference of gifts may difference them, or as they are bound to consociation for concord.

6. How shall I deny not only the lawfulness, but the necessity of such a papacy as really was in the Roman empire, on your grounds? I have proved against W. Johnson that the pope was then actually but the head of the imperial churches, and not of all the world. And if there must be one national ecclesiastical head under one king, why not one also in one empire? Or whether it be one monarch, or a collective person, it is still one political person which is now in question. (Either a ruling pope, or a ruling aristocracy or democracy, which is not the great matter in controversy.)

{672} 7. And why will not the same argument carry it also, for one universal visible head of all the churches in the world? at least as lawful? at least as far as human capacity and converse will allow? And who shall choose this universal head? And who can lay so fair a claim to it as the pope? And if the form be indifferent, why may not the churches, by consent at least, set up one man as well as many? Whether you carry it to an imperial church, or a papal, to a patriarchal, or provincial, or national, till you have proved it to be of divine institution, (and particular churches to be unnecessary, alterable, and of human institution,) I shall never grant you that it is to be preferred before that which is unquestionably of God. For though I easily grant that all the churches of a nation, empire, or the world, are to be more esteemed and carefully preserved, than one bishop's or pastor's particular church; yet I will not grant you that your human policy is more necessary to the safety of all these churches than the divine. For the safety of these churches may be better preserved by God's three great means, (1. The polity of particular churches with the conduct of their present faithful bishops or pastors. 2. The loving consociation of neighbour churches for concord. 3. The protection and countenance of magistrates,) without any new church form, (or national, or imperial, or universal pastor,) than with it.

Nay, when that sort of usurpation hath been the very engine of dividing, corrupting, and undoing the christian churches above a thousand years, we are not easily persuaded now, that it is yet either necessary or desirable.

8. But the best and easiest way to discern how far the making new churches or church offices is lawful or unlawful, is by trying it by the quality of their office work. For it is the work which giveth us the description of the office; and the office of the ruling part, which giveth us the definition of the church, which that office constituteth.

The work which the new human officer is to do, is either, 1. The same which God hath already appointed bishops or pastors to do, or at least the unfixed ministers in the universal church. 2. Or it is such as he hath appointed magistrates to do. 3. Or it is such as belongeth to private and laymen. 4. Or it is somewhat different from all these.

1. If it be of the first sort, it is a contradiction. For men that are by office appointed to do the same work which ministers are already appointed to do, are not a new office, but ministers indeed, such as Christ hath instituted: for the office is nothing but an obligation and authority to do the work.

2. If it be the same work which belongeth to the magistrate, then it is no new office, for they are magistrates.

3. If it be that which belongeth to private men, by God's appointment, they cannot disoblige themselves by transferring it to a new officer.

4. If it be none of all these, what is it? I doubt it may prove some needless or rather sinful work, which God committed to none of these three sorts, and therefore unfit to make a church office of. Unless it be such as I before described and granted. (1.) I confess that the magistrate may make new inferior officers, to do his own part (as church justices, churchwardens, &c.) (2.) I grant that the people may make an office for the better doing of some parts of their own work: they may make collectors, door-keepers, artists by office, to keep the clock, and bells, and church buildings, &c. if the magistrates leave it to them.

(3.) I grant that the bishops or pastors may do some circumstances of their work by human officers; as to facilitate their concord in synods, by choosing one to preside, to choose time and place, to send messengers to take votes, to moderate disputes, to record agreements, &c. as aforesaid; and these circumstantials are the things that officers may be made for.

But the very modes and circumstances which are part of the work to which every bishop or pastor is obliged, he cannot commit to another; as to choose his text, subject, method, words, &c. These are parts of his own work; though concord in these is the work of many.

Now what is the work besides all these that we must have new churches and offices made for? Is it to govern all these bishops and churches? How? By the word or by the sword? If by the sword, the magistrate is to do it; if by the word, (or spiritual authority,) either God hath made such an office as archbishops or general bishops over many, or he hath not: if he have, we need no new human office for it, God having provided for it already; if not, but God hath left all bishops independent, and to learn of one another, as equal in office, and unequal only in gifts, then either such an office is fit and necessary, or not. If it be, you accuse God of omission in not appointing a bishop over bishops as well as a bishop of the lowest order. If not, then by what reason or power will you make new needless officers in the church? when Cyprian and his Carthage council so vehemently disclaimed being Episcopi Episcoporum?

19. I would fain know whether those new-made churches of human and not of divine fabrication, (whether universal, (or papal,) patriarchal, provincial, &c.) were made by former churches, or by no churches. If by no churches, then either by other societies or by single persons: if by other societies, by what power do they make new churches to Christ, who are themselves no churches? If by single persons, either they are before church members, or not; if not, how can those make new churches that be not so much as members of churches, without a commission from Christ? But if either former churches or their members made these new churches, then, (1.) It followeth that there were another sort of churches before these new or human churches. And if so, either those other that made these were themselves made of God or not. And so the question will run up till you bring it either to some church of God's making which made these other, or some person commissioned to do it. If you say the first, then he that will confess that there is a species of churches of Christ's institution, and a species not of his institution, must prefer the former, and must well prove the power of making the latter. And so they must do, if they say that it was done by particular persons that were no particular church members. For if Christ commissioned them to settle any one species of churches, those are to be esteemed settled by Christ. (2.) But if you say that Christ left them to vary the species of churches as they saw cause, and so on to the end of the world, 1. You must well prove it. 2. It is before disproved (unless you take the word church equivocally).

20. Lastly, all christians are satisfied of Christ's authority; and therefore in that they can agree: but so they are not of any human church maker's authority; and therefore in that there will never be an agreement: therefore such new churches, and ecclesiastical governments, will be but (as they ever have been) the engines of division and ruin in the churches; and the species of God's making, with the mutability of mutable adjuncts and circumstances, will best preserve the church's peace.

{673} But if the true nature of pastoral or ecclesiastical government were well understood, it would put an end to all these controversies. Which may be mostly gathered from what is said before. To which I will add this little following.

Quest. Wherein consisteth the true nature of pastoral church government?

Answ. 1. Not in any use of the sword, or corporal force.

2. Not in a power to contradict God's word.

3. Not in a power co-ordinate with Christ's, to do his proper work, or that which hath the same grounds, reasons, and nature.

4. Not in an unquestionable empire, to command things which none must presume to examine, or judge of by a discerning judgment, whether they be forbidden by God or not.

5. Not now in making a new word of God, or new articles of faith, or new universal laws, for the whole church.

6. Not in any thing which derogates from the true power of magistrates, or parents, or masters.

But, 1. It is a ministerial power, of a messenger or servant, who hath a commission to deliver his master's commands and exhortations.[310]

2. As it is over the laity or flocks, it is a power in the sacred assemblies to teach the people by office, and to be their priests or guides in holy worship;[311] and to rule the worship actions for the time, length, method, and orderly performance of them.[312]

3. As to particular persons, it is the power of the church keys, which is, 1. To judge who is meet to be by baptism taken into the church. 2. To reprove, exhort, and instruct those that by vice or ignorance, in order to repentance, or knowledge, or confirmation, do need the pastoral help.[313] 3. To judge who is to be forbidden church communion as impenitent; or at least, with whom that church must be forbidden to communicate. 4. To judge who is meet for absolution as a penitent. 5. To deliver men personally a sealed pardon from Christ in his two sacraments. 6. To visit the sick, and comfort the sad, and resolve the doubting, and help the poor. This is the true church government, which is like a philosopher's or schoolmaster's in his school among volunteers, supposing them to have no power of the rod or violence, but only to take in or put out of their schools: and what need is there of a universal, patriarchal, or national head, to do any of this work, which is but the government of a personal teacher and conductor; and which worketh only on the conscience?

4. But besides this there is a necessity of agreeing in the right management of this work; which needeth no new head, but only the consultations of the several bishops or pastors, and the magistrate's civil rule, or extrinsic episcopacy (as Constantine called it).

5. And besides this there is need to ordain pastors and bishops in the church. And this is not done by any force neither; but, 1. By judging what men are fit; 2. By persuading the people to consent and receive them; and, 3. By investing them by a delivery of possession by the imposition of hands. Now for all this, there needs no human species of bishops or churches to be made.

6. Besides this there is need of some oversight of these pastors and ministers and fixed bishops when they are made; and of some general care of pastors and people, if they decline to heresies, errors, vices, or lukewarmness: but for this, 1. When magistrates have done their part; 2. And neighbour ministers to one another; 3. And the consociated bishops to the particular ones; 4. And unfixed ministers have done their parts in the places where occasionally they come; if moreover any general pastors or archbishops are necessary, to rebuke, direct, and persuade the bishops or their flocks, by messengers, epistles, or in presence, no doubt but God hath appointed such as the successors of the apostles, evangelists, and other general ministers of those first times. But if no such thing be appointed by Christ, we may be sure it is not necessary nor best.

If it were but considered that the ruling power in the church is so inseparable from the teaching power, that it is exercised by teaching and only by God's word, (either generally or personally applied,) and that upon none but those that willingly and by consent receive it, it would quiet the world about these matters. And oh that once magistrates would take the sword wholly to themselves, and leave church power to work only by its proper strength and virtue, and then all things would fall into joint again; though the Ithacians would be displeased.

[309]   Which tempteth the Erastians to deny and pull down both together, because they find one in the pastor's hands which belongeth to the magistrate, and we do not teach them to untwist and separate them.

[310]   1 Cor. iv. 1, 2.

[311]   1 Pet. v. 1-3; Matt, xxviii. 19, 20.

[312]   1 Thess. v. 12, 13.

[313]   2 Tim. iv. 1-3, 5.

Quest. LVIII. Whether any part of the proper pastoral or episcopal power may be given or deputed to a layman, or to one of any other office, or the proper work may be performed by such?

Answ. 1. Such extrinsical, or circumstantial, or accidental actions as are afore-mentioned may be done by deputies or others (as calling the church together, summoning offenders, recording actions, &c.)

2. The proper episcopal or pastoral work or office cannot be deputed, in whole or part, any other way than by communication, which is, by ordination, or making another to be of the same office. For if it may be done by a layman, or one that is not of the same order and office, then it is not to be called any proper part of the pastoral or episcopal office: if a layman may baptize, or administer the sacrament of Christ's body and blood, or may ordain, or excommunicate, (ecclesiastically,) or absolve, merely because a bishop authorizeth or biddeth him, then, 1. What need Christ have made an office work of it, and persons be devoted and consecrated to it?

2. And why may not the people's election and the king's commission serve to enable a layman to do it? For if commanding only be proper to the bishop or pastor, and executing be common to laymen, it is certain that the king may command all bishops and pastors to do their office work; and therefore he may command a layman to do that which a bishop may command him to do.

3. And is it not a contradiction to say that a man is a layman or of another order, who is authorized by a bishop to do a bishop's work or office? when as the office itself is nothing (as is oft said) but an obligation and authority to do the work. If therefore a bishop authorize and oblige any other man to do the proper work of a bishop or pastor, (to ordain, to baptize, to give the sacrament of the eucharist, to excommunicate, to absolve, &c.) he thereby maketh that man a bishop or a pastor, whatever he call him.

Object. But doth not a bishop preach per alios, to all his diocess? and give them the sacraments per alios, &c.?

Answ. Let not the phrase be made the controversy instead of the matter. Those other persons are either ministers of Christ, or laymen. If laymen, {674} their actions are unlawful. If ministers, they are commissioned officers of Christ themselves, and it is the work of their own office which they do, and it is they that shall have the reward or punishment. But if preaching to all these churches, or giving to all these persons in a thousand parishes the sacraments, &c. were the bishops' or archbishops' work, that is, which they are obliged to do, then they would sin in not doing it. But if they are the governors only of those that are obliged to do it, and are not obliged to do it themselves, then governing the doers of it is only their work; and therefore it is but equivocally said that the work is theirs, which others and not they are obliged to do; and that they do their work per alios, when they do but govern those others in doing their own work.

Of this read the Lord Bacon's "Considerations," and Grotius "de Imper. summ. Potest. circa Sacra," who soundly resolve the case, against doing the pastoral work per alium.

Quest. LIX. May a layman preach or expound the Scriptures? Or what of this is proper to the pastor's office?

Answ. 1. No doubt but there is some preaching or teaching and expounding which a layman may use. So did Origen; so did Constantine; so may a king, or judge on the bench; so may a parent to his children, and a master to his family, and a schoolmaster or tutor to his scholars.

2. It is not any one method or sermon fashion which is proper to a minister and forbidden to a layman; that method which is most meet to the matter and hearers, may be used by one as well as by the other.

3. It is not the mere publicness of the teaching, which must tell us what is unlawful for a layman. For writing and printing are the most public ways of teaching; and these no man taketh to be forbidden the laity. Scaliger, Casaubon, Grotius, Erasmus, Constantine, King James, the Lord Bacon, and abundance more laymen, have done the church great service by their writings. And judges on the bench speak oft theologically to many.

But that which is proper to the ministers or pastors of the church is, 1. To make a stated office of it, and to be separated, set apart, devoted, or consecrated and appropriated to this sacred work; and not to do it occasionally only, or sometimes, or on the by; but as their calling and the employment of their lives.

2. To do it as called and commissioned ministers of Christ, who have a special nunciative and teaching authority committed to them; and therefore are in a special manner to be heard, according to their special authority.

3. To be the stated teachers of particular churches, as their pastors and guides (though they may sometimes permit a layman when there is cause to teach them pro tempore). These three are proper to the ministerial and pastoral office.

But for the regulating of laymen's teaching, 1. They must statedly keep in their families, or within their proper bounds.

2. They must not presume to go beyond their abilities, especially in matters dark and difficult.

3. They must not thrust themselves without a just call and need into public or numerous meetings as teachers, nor do that which savoureth of pride or ostentation, or which tendeth to cherish those vices in others.

4. They must not live or preach, as from under the government of the church pastors; but being members of their flocks, must do all as under their lawful oversight and guidance: much less must they proudly and schismatically set up themselves against their lawful pastors, and bring them into contempt to get themselves reputation, and to draw away disciples after them.[314]

5. Times and places must be greatly distinguished. In infidel or grossly ignorant countries, where through the want of preachers there is a true necessity, men may go much further than in countries where teachers and knowledge do abound.

[314]   Acts xx. 30; Heb. xiii. 7, 17, 24; 1 Thess. v. 12, 13; 1 Tim. v. 17.

Quest. LX. What is the true sense of the distinction of pastoral power, in foro interiore et exteriore, rightly used?

Answ. 1. Not as if the pastors had any power of the sword or outward force, or of men's bodies or estates immediately: for all the pastoral power is immediately on the soul, and but secondarily on the body, so far as the persuaded soul will move it. Reason and love, and the authority of a messenger of Christ, are all the power by which bishops or pastors as such can work, in foro interiore vel exteriore; they rule the body but by ruling the soul.

2. But the true use of the distinction is only to serve instead of the usual distinction of public and personal obligation. It is one thing to satisfy a man's private conscience about his own personal case or matters; and another thing to oblige the whole church, or a particular person, of his duty as a member of the society to the rest. When the pastor absolveth a penitent person, in foro interiore, that is, in his own conscience, he delivereth him a discharge in the name of Christ on condition he be truly penitent; else not. But in foro exteriore he actually and absolutely restoreth him to his visible state of church communion. The rest of the members perhaps may justly think this man unlike to prove a true penitent; and then in foro interiore they are not bound to believe him certainly penitent or pardoned by God; but in foro exteriore that he is restored to church communion, and that for order's sake they are bound to hold communion with him, they are bound (internally) to believe. So that it comes near the sense of the distinction of the secret judgment (of God and conscience) and church judgment.

Quest. LXI. In what sense is it true that some say, that the magistrate only hath the external government of the church, and the pastors the internal?

Answ. 1. Not as external and internal are opposed in the nature of the action. For the voice of the pastor in preaching is external, as well as the king's.

2. Not as they are opposed in the manner of reception. For the ears of the auditors are external recipients from the preacher as well as from the king.

3. Not as distinguishing the parts that are to obey, the duties commanded, and the sins forbidden, as if the king ruled the body only and the pastor the soul. For the soul is bound to obey the king, or else the body could not be bound to obey him; unless by cords. And the body must obey the preacher as well as the soul. Murder, drunkenness, swearing, lying, and such other external vices, are under the pastor's power to forbid in Christ's name, as well as the king's.

4. Not as if all the external parts or actions of religion were exempted from the pastor's power. For preaching, praying, reading, sacraments, church {675} assemblies, are external parts of religion, and under the pastor's care.

But in two respects the external power is only the king's or civil magistrate's. 1. As it is denominated from the sword, or mulcts, or corporal penalties, which is the external means of execution; though in this respect the distinction were far more intelligibly expressed by, The government by the sword, and by the sacred word.[315]

2. But the principal sense of their distinction is the same with Constantine's, who distinguished of a bishop without and within; or of our common distinction of intrinsic and extrinsic government. And though internal and external have the same signification, use maketh intrinsic and extrinsic more intelligible. And by internal is meant that power which intrinsically belongeth to the pastor's office as instituted by Christ; and so is intrinsical to the pastorship and the church (as preaching, praying, sacraments, the keys of admission and exclusion, ordination, &c.). And by external is meant, that which is extrinsical to the pastorship and the church; which princes have sometimes granted them, but Christ hath made no part of their office. In this sense the assertion is good, and clear, and necessary; that the disposal of all things circa sacra, all accidents and circumstances whatsoever, which by Christ's institution are not intrinsical to the pastorship and church, but extrinsical, do belong to the power of kings and magistrates.

[315]   As Bishop Bilson of Obed. useth still to distinguish them; with many others. See B. Carlton of Jurisdiction.

Quest. LXII. Is the trial, judgment, or consent of the laity necessary to the admittance of a member into the universal or particular church?

Answ. 1. It is the pastor's office to bear and exercise the keys of Christ's church; therefore by office he is to receive those that come in; and consequently to be the trier and judge of their fitness.

2. It belongeth to the same office which is to baptize, to judge who is to be baptized; otherwise ministers should not be rational judges of their own actions, but the executioners of other men's judgment. It is more the judging who is to be baptized, which the minister's office consisteth in, than in the bare doing of the outward act of baptizing.

3. He that must be the ordinary judge in church admissions, is supposed to have both ability and leisure to make him fit; and authority and obligation to do the work.

4. The ordinary body of the laity have none of all these four qualifications, much less all. 1. They are not ordinarily able, so to examine a man's faith and resolution with judgment and skill, as may neither tend to the wrong of himself nor of the church; for it is great skill that is required thereunto. 2. They have not ordinarily leisure from their proper callings and labours, to wait on such a work as it must be waited on, especially in populous places. 3. They are not therefore obliged to do that which they cannot be supposed to have ability or leisure for. 4. And where they have not the other three, they can have no authority to do it.

5. It is therefore as great a crime for the laity to usurp the pastor's office in this matter, as in preaching, baptizing, or other parts of it.

6. And though pride often blind men (both people and pastors) so as to make them overlook the burden and look only at the authority and honour; yet is it indeed an intolerable injury to the laity, if any would lay such a burden on them which they cannot bear, and consequently, would make them responsible for the omissions or misdoing of it, to Christ their Judge.

7. There is not so much as any fair pretence for the laity having power to judge who shall be received into the universal church; for who of the laity should have this power? Not all, nor the major vote of the church; for who ever sought the votes of all the christians in the world, before he baptized a man? Not any one particular church or persons above the rest; for they have no right to show for it, more than the rest.

8. It is not in the power of the laity to keep a man out of their own particular church communion, whom the pastor receiveth; because, as is said, it is his office to judge and bear the keys.

9. Therefore, if it be ill done, and an unworthy person be admitted, the consciences of the people need not accuse themselves of it, or be disturbed, because it is none of their employment.

10. Yet the liberty of the church or people, must be distinguished from their governing power, and their executing duty, from the power of judging. And so, 1. The people are to be guided by the pastors as volunteers, and not by violence: and therefore it is the pastor's duty, in all doubtful cases, to give the people all necessary satisfaction, by giving them the reasons of his doings, that they may understandingly and quietly obey and submit. 2. And in case the people discern any notable appearance of danger, by introducing heretics and grossly impious men to corrupt the church, and by subverting the order of Christ, they may go to their pastors to desire satisfaction in the case. 3. And if by open proof or notoriety it be certain, that by ignorance, fraud, or negligence, the pastors thus corrupt the church, the people may seek their due remedy from other pastors and magistrates. 4. And they may protest their own dissent from such proceedings. 5. And in case of extremity, may cast off heretical, and impious, and intolerable pastors, and commit their souls to the conduct of fitter men; as the churches did against the Arian bishops, and as Cyprian declareth it his people's duty to do; as is aforesaid.[316]

[316]   John xx. 21-23; xxi. 15-17; Matt. xxviii. 19, 20; 1 Cor. iv. 1, 21; Tim. v. 17; Heb. xiii. 7, 17; 1 Cor. v. 3-6, 11; 2 Thess. iii. 6, 10, 14; Tit. iii. 10; 2 John; Mark xiii. 9, 23, 33; Mark iv. 24; Matt, vii. 15, 16; xvi. 6, 11, 12; Mark xii. 38; viii. 15; Phil. ii. 2, 3; Col. ii. 8; 1 Pet. iii. 17; Matt. xxiv. 4.

Quest. LXIII. What power have the people in church censures and excommunication?

Answ. This is here adjoined, because it requireth but little more than the foregoing answer. 1. As it is the pastor's office to judge who is to be received, so also to judge who is to be excluded.

2. But the execution of his sentence belongeth to the people as well as to himself. It is they that either hold communion with the person, or avoid him.[317]

3. Therefore though ordinarily they must acquiesce in the pastor's judgment, yet if he grossly offend against the law of God, and would bring them, e. g. to communion with heretics and openly impious, and excommunicate the orthodox and godly, they may seek their remedy as before.

[317]   1 Cor. v. 3, 6, 11; 2 John; Tit. iii. 10.

Quest. LXIV. What is the people's remedy in case of the pastor's mal-administration?

Answ. This also is here annexed for despatch, as being almost sufficiently answered already.

{676} It must be supposed that all church disorders and mal-administrations cannot be expected to be remedied; but many while we are sinners and imperfect must be borne.

1. The first remedy is to speak submissively to the pastor of his faults, and to say to Archippus, "Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received."[318] And if he hear not more privately, for the people more openly to warn and entreat him; not as his governors, but as christians that have reason to regard Christ's interest and their own, and have charity to desire his reformation.

2. The next remedy is, to consult with the neighbour pastors of other churches, that they may admonish him; not as his governors, but as neighbour pastors.[319]

3. The next remedy is to seek redress from those governors that have the power to correct or cast out the intolerable.

4. The last remedy is that of Cyprian, to desert such intolerable pastors.

But in all this, the people must be sure that they proceed not proudly, ignorantly, erroneously, passionately, factiously, disorderly, or rashly.

[318]   Col. iv. 17.

[319]   Acts xv.

Quest. LXV. May one be a pastor or a member of a particular church, who liveth so far from it, as to be uncapable of personal communion with them?

Answ. The name is taken from the relation; and the relation is founded in capacity, right, and obligation to actual communion, duties, and privileges: 1. He that is so statedly distant is uncapable statedly of communion, and therefore uncapable of the relation and name.

2. He that is but for a time accidentally so distant, is but for that time uncapable of communion with them; and therefore retaineth capacity, right, and obligation statedly for the future, but not for the present exercise. Therefore he retaineth the relation and name, in respect to his future intended exercise; but not in so plenary a sense, as he that is capable of present communion.

3. It is not the length or shortness of the time of absence that wholly cutteth off or continueth the relation and name, but the probability or improbability of a seasonable accession. For if a man be removed but a day, with a purpose to return no more, his relation ceaseth. And if a man be long purposing and probably like to return, and by sickness or otherwise be hindered, it doth not wholly end his relation.

4. If the delay be so long as either maketh the return improbable, or as necessitated the church to have another statedly in the pastor's place, where they can have but one, and so the people by taking another, consent (though with grief) to quit their relation and title to the former, there the relation is at an end.

5. It is a delusory formality of some, that call themselves members of a separated (or other) church, from which they most ordinarily and statedly live at an utter distance, and yet take themselves to be no members of the church where they live, and usually join with: and all because they covenanted with one and not with the other.

Quest. LXVI. If a man be injuriously suspended or excommunicated by the pastor or people, which way shall he have remedy?

Ans. As is aforesaid in case of mal-administration; 1. By admonishing the pastor or those that wrong him. 2. By consulting neighbour pastors, that they may admonish him. 3. By the help of rulers, where such are, and the church's good forbids it not. 4. In case of extremity, by removing to a church that will not so injure you. And what needs there any more, save patience?

Quest. LXVII. Doth presence always make us guilty of the errors or faults of the pastor in God's worship, or of the church? Or in what cases are we guilty?

Answ. 1. If it always made us guilty, no man could join with any pastor or church in the world, without being a wilful sinner. Because no man worshippeth God without sin, in matter or manner, omission or commission.

2. If it never made us guilty, it would be lawful to join with Mahometans and bread-worshippers, &c.

3. Therefore the following decision of the question, In what cases it is a duty or a sin to separate, doth decide this case also. For when separation is no duty, but a sin, there our presence in the worship is no sin; but when separation is a duty, there our presence is a sin.

4. Especially in these two cases our presence is a sin: 1. When the very assembly and worship is so bad as God will not accept, but judgeth the substance of it for a sin. 2. In case we ourselves be put upon any sin in communion, or as a previous condition of our communion (as to make some false profession, or to declare our consent to other men's sin, or to commit corporal, visible, reputative idolatry, or the like). But the pastor and church shall answer for their own faults, and not we, when we have cause to be present, and make them not ours by any sinful action of our own.

Quest. LXVIII. Is it lawful to communicate in the sacrament with wicked men?

Answ. The answer may be gathered from what is said before.

1. If they be so wicked for number, and flagitiousness, and notoriety, as that it is our duty to forsake the church, then to communicate with them is a sin. Therefore the after-resolution of the just causes of separation must be perused. As if a church were so far defiled with heresy, or open impiety, that it were justified by the major vote, and bore down faith and godliness, and the society were become uncapable of the ends of church association and communion: in this and other cases it must be deserted.

2. If we do not perform our own duty to remove unlawful communions, (whether it be by admonition of the offender or pastor, or whatever is proved really our duty,) the omission of that duty is our sin.

3. But if we sin not by omitting our own duty, it will be no sin of ours to communicate with the church, where scandalous sinners or heretics are permitted. The pastor's and delinquent's sins are not ours.

4. Yea, if we do not omit our own duty in order to the remedy, that will justify us in denying communion with the church while wicked men are there. But it will rather aggravate our sin, to omit one duty first, and thence fetch occasion to omit another.

Quest. LXIX. Have all the members of the church right to the Lord's table? And is suspension lawful?

Of this see the defence of the synod's propositions in New England. I answer,

1. You must distinguish between a fundamental {677} right of state, and an immediate right of present possession; or if you will, between a right duly to receive the sacrament, and a right to immediate reception simply considered.

2. You must distinguish between a questioned, controverted right, and an unquestioned right; and so you must conclude as followeth.

(1.) Every church member (at least adult) as such, hath the fundamental right of stated relation, or a right duly to receive the sacrament; that is, to receive it understandingly and seriously at those seasons when by the pastors it is administered.

(2.) But if upon faults or accusations, this right be duly questioned in the church, it is become a controverted right; and the possession or admission may, by the bishops or pastors of the church, be suspended, if they see cause, while it is under trial, till a just decision.

3. Though infants are true members, yet the want of natural capacity duly to receive maketh it unlawful to give them the sacrament, because it is to be given only to receivers, and receiving is more than eating and drinking; it is consenting to the covenant, which is the real receiving in a moral sense, or at least consent professed. So that they want not a state of right, as to their relation, but a natural capacity to receive.

4. Persons at age who want not the right of a stated relation, may have such actual natural and moral indispositions, as may also make them for that time unmeet to receive. As sickness, infection, a journey, persecution, scattering the church, a prison. And (morally) 1. Want of necessary knowledge of the nature of the sacrament (which by the negligence of pastors or parents may be the case of some that are but newly past their childhood). 2. Some heinous sin, of which the sinner hath not so far repented, as to be yet ready to receive a sealed pardon, or which is so scandalous in the church, as that in public respects the person is yet unfit for its privileges. 3. Such sins or accusations of sin, as make the person's church title justly controverted, and his communion suspended, till the case be decided. 4. Such fears of unworthy receiving, as were like to hurt and distract the person, if he should receive till he were better satisfied. These make a man uncapable of present reception, and so are a bar to his plenary right: they have still right to receive in a due manner; but being yet uncapable of that due receiving, they have not a plenary right to the thing.

5. The same may be said of other parts of our duty and privileges. A man may have a relative, habitual, or stated right to praise God, and give him thanks for his justification, sanctification, and adoption, and to godly conference, to exercises of humiliation, &c. who yet for want of present actual preparation, may be uncapable, and so want a plenary right.

6. The understanding of the double preparation necessary, doth most clearly help us to understand this case. A man that is in an unregenerate state, must be visibly cured of that state, (of utter ignorance, unbelief, ungodliness,) before he can be a member of the church, and lay a claim to its privileges. But when that is done, besides this general preparation, a particular preparation also to each duty is necessary to the right doing of it. A man must understand what he goeth about, and must consider of it, and come with some suitable affections. A man may have right to go a journey, that wants a horse; or may have a horse that is not saddled: he that hath clothes must put them on, before he is fit to come into company: he that hath right to write, may want a pen, or have a bad one: having of gracious habits, may need the addition of bringing them into such acts as are suitable to the work in hand.

Quest. LXX. Is there any such thing in the church, as a rank or classis, or species of church members at age, who are not to be admitted to the Lord's table, but only to hearing the word and prayer, between infant members, and adult confirmed ones?

Answ. Some have excogitated such a classis, or species, or order, for convenience, as a prudent, necessary thing; because to admit all to the Lord's table they think dangerous on one side; and to cast all that are unfit for it out of the church, they think dangerous on the other side, and that which the people would not bear. Therefore to preserve the reverence of the sacrament, and to preserve their own and the church's peace, they have contrived this middle way or rank. And indeed the controversy seemeth to be more about the title (whether it may be called a middle order of mere learners and worshippers) than about the matter. I have occasionally written more of it than