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Title: The Divine Right of Church Government by Sundry Ministers Of Christ Within The City Of London
Author: Sundry Ministers Of Christ Within The City Of London, - To be updated
Language: English
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After what the authors of the following Treatise have said in their
preface, the Editor judges it unnecessary for him to detain the reader
long with any observations of his upon the subject. He, however, could
sincerely wish that the friends of Christ would pay that attention to
the government and discipline of his Church which it justly deserves.
Although this subject should not be placed among the things essential to
the being of a Christian; yet if it be found among the things that
Christ has commanded, it is at our peril if we continue wilfully
ignorant of, or despise it. He has expressly declared, that he who
breaks one of the _least_ of his commandments, and teacheth men to do
so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven. It is an opinion too
common, that if we believe the _essentials_ of religion, there is no
occasion for so much preciseness about the forms of church government,
which are only _circumstantials_, as there will be no inquiry made about
these at the tribunal of Christ. But whatever relative importance the
things of religion may have, when compared with one another, we ought to
reckon nothing which God hath appointed, nothing which Jesus hath
ratified with his blood, nothing which the Holy Spirit hath indited, so
_circumstantial_, as to be unworthy of our serious regard. It is at
least very rash, if not presumptuous, to say, that nothing about the
circumstantials of religion will be inquired into at the tribunal of
Christ. God has expressly said, that every work, good or evil, every
idle word, and every deed done in the body, shall be brought into
judgment; and false worshippers will, perhaps, find that their form of
worship consisted in something worse than idle words, or sinful words
either, even in sinful deeds, for which they will be accountable at the
judgment. As Christ laid down his life for his people, has instructed
them, and has set a hedge about all that they have, it would be most
ungrateful to requite him with pouring the highest contempt on his
kingly honor and authority; and when his worship is polluted, his truth
perverted, and the walls of his New Testament Zion broken down, to care
for none of those things. Government and discipline are the hedge of his
garden, the Church; and how will what men call the essentials of
religion remain in their glory, when this is broken down, the present
state of affairs can sufficiently attest, when the most damnable errors
are propagated with impunity.

In our times the enemies of the scriptural order of the house of God are
very numerous and very active, exerting all their power to break down
the carved work of God's sanctuary. The present spirit for novelty and
innovation, together with the rage for infidelity so prevalent, strongly
favors the opposition made to every thing which has a tendency to bind
men closely to God, to his truths, to the purity of his worship and
ordinances, or to one another by a holy profession. The design,
therefore, of republishing this Treatise is to assist Presbyterians of
all denominations in the understanding of those passages of Scripture
upon which their wall is built, that they be not led aside by the
cunning speeches of false teachers, whereby they deceive and draw aside
the hearts of the simple.

This work was first published at London, at the time when the
controversy between the Presbyterians and ancient Independents ran very
high, and every intelligent and unprejudiced reader will see, that the
Holy Scriptures have been carefully perused, accurately compared, wisely
collected, and judiciously explained, in order to evince that the
Presbyterian government has the only lawful claim to a divine right, and
is the only form appointed by Christ in his Church. It is, therefore, to
be wished, that all his people would endeavor, in the strength of Divine
grace, to observe the laws of his house, and to walk in all his
ordinances and commandments blameless.

Considerable pains have been taken to make this edition more easily
understood by common readers than the former, and yet several difficult
and hard words have passed unnoticed. The Latin quotations from the
Fathers have been omitted, because they contain nothing materially
different from what is in the body of the work, and modern Independents
pay little regard to any human authorities but their own. It was
proposed to have added a few extracts from Messrs. Rutherford and
Gillespie, but upon looking into their works nothing of consequence was
observed, that tended to cast any new light upon the subject. It is
hoped, however, that the Appendix is filled up with extracts from other
authors upon subjects of considerable importance, and very necessary for
these times, concerning the scriptural qualifications and duties of
church members; the divine right of the gospel ministry; the people's
divine right to choose their own pastors; with an abstract of Dr. Owen's
arguments in favor of the divine right of the ruling elder: and as there
are many serious Christians who have not a capacity to take up and
retain a long chain of reasoning, a summary of the whole Treatise is
given by way of question and answer as a conclusion.

The Editor is not to be understood as approving of, or vindicating every
single sentiment, or mode of expression, used in this Treatise: at the
same time, next to the Holy Scriptures, he recommends it as one of the
best defences of presbytery which he has seen.

That it may be blessed of God for informing the ignorant, settling the
wavering, and establishing the believers of _the present Truth_, is the
earnest desire of,

Christian reader,

Your humble servant in the Gospel,


_Paisley, 28th February, 1799._




Thou hast in the ensuing treatise, 1st, a brief delineation of the
nature of a divine right, wherein it consists, and how many ways a thing
may be accounted of divine right, according to the Scriptures; as also,
2d, a plain and familiar description of that church government which
seems to have the clearest divine right for it, and (of all other
contended for) to be the most consonant and agreeable to the word of
Christ; which description (comprehending in itself the whole frame and
system of the government) is in the several branches thereof explained
and confirmed by testimonies or arguments from Scripture; more briefly,
in particulars which are easily granted; more largely, in particulars
which are commonly controverted; yet as perspicuously and concisely in
both as the nature of this unusual and comprehensive subject insisted
upon would permit. Things are handled rather by way of positive
assertion, than of polemical dissertation, (which too commonly
degenerates into verbal strifes, 1 Tim. vi. 3, 4; 2 Tim. ii. 23; and
vain-jangling, 1 Tim. i. 6,) and where any dissenting opinions or
objections are refuted, we hope it is with that sobriety, meekness, and
moderation of spirit, that any unprejudiced judgment may perceive, that
we had rather gain than grieve those who dissent from us; that we
endeavor rather to heal up than to tear open the rent; and that we
contend more for truth than for victory.

To the publication hereof we have been inclinable (after much
importunity) principally upon deliberate and serious consideration of,
1st, the necessity of a treatise of this kind; 2d, the advantage likely
to accrue thereupon; and, 3d, the seasonable opportunity of sending it
abroad at such a time as this is.

I. The necessity of a treatise of this nature, is evident and urgent.

1. We hold ourselves obliged, not only by the common duty of our
ministerial calling, but also by the special bond of our solemn
covenant with God, especially in Art. 1, to bend all our best endeavors
to help forward a reformation of religion according to the word of God,
which can never be effected without a due establishment of the
scripture-government and discipline in the Church of God. And to make
known what this government is from the law and testimony, by preaching
or writing, comes properly and peculiarly within the sphere of our place
and vocation.

2. A cloud of darkness and prejudice, in reference to this matter of
church government, too generally rests upon the judgments and
apprehensions of men (yea of God's own people) among us, either, 1st,
through the difficulty or uncommonness of this matter of church
government, (though ancient and familiar in other reformed churches, yet
new and strange to us;) or, 2d, through the strange misrepresentations
that are made hereof, by those that are small friends to the true
presbyterial government, or that are enemies to all church government
whatsoever; or, 3d, through the different opinions about church
government, which are to be found among pious people and ministers: by
all which the weak and unstable minds of many are cast into a maze of
many confused thoughts and irresolutions.

3. Though many learned treatises have been published, some whereof have
positively asserted, others have polemically vindicated divers parts of
church government, and the divine right thereof, yet hitherto no
treatise of this nature is extant, positively laying open the nature of
a divine right, what it is, and a system of that government, which is
so, and proving both by the Scriptures; without which, how shall the
judgments and consciences of men be satisfied, that this is that church
government, according to the word of God, which they have covenanted to
endeavor to promote, and whereto they are obliged to submit? And since
it is our lot to travel in an unbeaten path, we, therefore, promise to
ourselves, from all sober and judicious readers, the greater candor and
ingenuity in their measuring of our steps and progress herein.

II. The advantage which may probably accrue hereupon, we hope shall be
manifold: For, 1. Who can tell but that some of them, that in some
things are misled and contrary-minded, may be convinced and regained?
and it will be no small reward of our labors if but one erring brother
may be brought back. 2. Some satisfaction may redound to such as are of
doubtful, unresolved minds, by removing of their doubts and scruples,
and ripening of their resolutions, to settle more safely in point of
church government. 3. Those that as yet are unseen in the matter of
church government, or that want money to buy, or leisure to read many
books upon this subject, may here have much in a little, and
competently inform themselves of the whole body of the government. 4.
Consequently upon the attaining of the former ends, the work of
reformation will be much facilitated and smoothed, the hearts of the
people being prepared for the Lord and his ordinances. 5. The present
attempt (if it reach not to that completeness and satisfactoriness which
is desired) may yet incite some of our brethren of more acute and
polished judgments to embark themselves in some further discoveries for
the public benefit of the Church. 6. But though it should fall out that
in all the former we should be utterly disappointed, we shall have this
peace and comfort upon our own spirits, that we have not hid our talent
in the earth, nor neglected to bear witness to this part of Christ's
truth, touching the government of his Church, by his kingly power,
wherein Christ was opposed so much in all ages, Psalm ii. 1, 2, 3; Luke
xix. 14, 27; Acts iv., and for which Christ did suffer so much in a
special and immediate manner, as[1] some have observed. For this end
Christ came into the world, (and for this end we came into the
ministerial calling,) to bear witness to the truth.

III. Finally, the present opportunity of publishing a treatise on this
subject doth much incite and encourage us therein. For at this time we
are beginning, in this province of London, (and we hope the whole
kingdom will, with all convenient speed, and due caution, second us,) to
put that covenanted church government into actual execution, which we
have a long time intended in our deliberate resolutions. So that
generally we shall be engaged in the government one way or other, either
as acting in it as the church officers, or as submitting to it as church
members: now, how shall any truly conscientious person, either act in
it, or conform and submit unto it with faith, judgment, and alacrity,
till he be in some competent measure satisfied of the divine right

Will mere prudence, without a divine right, be a sufficient basis to
erect the whole frame of church government upon, as some conceive?
Prudentials, according to general rules of Scripture, may be of use in
circumstantials, but will bare prudentials in substantials also satisfy
either our God, our covenant, our consciences, or our end in this great
work of reformation? What conscientious person durst have a hand in
acting as a ruling elder, did he not apprehend the word of God holds
forth a divine right for the ruling elder? Who durst have a hand in the
censures of admonishing the unruly, excommunicating the scandalous and
obstinate, and of restoring the penitent, were there not a divine right
hereof revealed in the Scripture, &c. Now, therefore, that ruling
elders, and the rest of the people, may begin this happy work
conscientiously, judiciously, cheerfully, in some measure perceiving the
divine right of the whole government, wherein they engage themselves,
cleared by Scripture, we hope, by God's blessing, that this small tract
will afford some seasonable assistance, which will be unto us a very
acceptable recompense.

Thus far of the nature of this treatise, and the grounds of our
publishing thereof. In the next place, a few doubts or scruples touching
church government here asserted, being succinctly resolved, we shall
preface no further.

_Doubt_ 1. Many scruple, and much question the divine right of the whole
frame of church government; as, 1. Whether there be any particular
church government of divine right? 2. What that government is? 3. What
church officers or members of elderships are of divine right? 4. Whether
parochial or congregational elderships be of divine right? 5. Whether
classical presbyteries be of divine right? 6. Whether provincial,
national, and ecumenical assemblies be of divine right? 7. Whether
appeals from congregational to classical, provincial, national, and
ecumenical assemblies, and their power to determine upon such appeals,
be of divine right? 8. Whether the power of censures in the
congregational eldership, or any other assembly, be of divine right? 9.
Whether there be any particular rules in the Scripture directing persons
or assemblies in the exercise of their power? 10. Whether the civil
magistrates, or their committees' and commissioners' execution of church
censures be contrary to that way of government which Christ hath
appointed in his Church?

_Resol_. To all or most of these doubts some competent satisfaction may
be had from this treatise ensuing, if seriously considered. For, 1. That
there is a church government of divine right, now under the New
Testament, declared in Scripture, is proved, Part I. 2. What that
government is in particular, is evidenced both by the description of
church government, and the confirmation of the parts thereof by
Scripture, Part. II. chap. 1, and so to the end of the book: whereby it
is cleared that the presbyterial government is that particular
government which is of divine right, according to the word of God. 3.
What ordinary church officers, (members of the several elderships,) are
of divine right, is proved, Part II, chap. 11, sect. 1, viz. pastors and
teachers, with ruling elders. 4. That parochial or congregational
elderships, consisting of preaching and ruling elders, are of divine
right, is manifested, Part II. chap. 12. 5. That classical presbyteries,
or assemblies, and their power in church government, are of divine
right, is demonstrated, Part II. chap. 13. 6. That synodical assemblies,
or councils in general, (consequently provincial, national, or
ecumenical councils in particular,) and their power in church
government, are of divine right, is cleared, Part II. chap. 14. 7. That
appeals from congregational elderships, to classical and synodical
assemblies, from lesser to greater assemblies associated, and power in
those assemblies to determine authoritatively in such, appeals, are of
divine right, is proved, Part II. chap. 15. 8. That the power of church
censures is in Christ's own church officers only as the first subject
and proper receptacle there of divine right, is cleared, Part II. chap.
11, sect. 2, which officers of Christ have and execute the said power
respectively, in all the ruling assemblies, congregational, classical,
or synodical. See section 3, and chap. 12, 13, 14, 15. 9. That the
Scriptures hold forth, touching church government, not only general, but
also many particular rules, sufficiently directing both persons and
assemblies how they should duly put in execution their power of church,
government. This is made good, Part II. chap. 4; and those that desire
to know which are these rules in particular, may consult those
learned[2] centuriators of Magdeburg, who have collected and
methodically digested, in the very words of the Scripture, a system of
canons or rules, touching church government, as in the preface to those
rules they do profess, saying, touching things pertaining to the
government of the Church, the apostles delivered certain canons, which
we will add in order, &c., the very heads of which would be too prolix
to recite. 10. Finally, that neither the supreme civil magistrate, as
such, nor consequently any commissioner or committees whatsoever,
devised and erected by his authority, are the proper subject of the
formal power of church government, nor may lawfully, by any virtue of
the magistratical office, dispense any ecclesiastical censures or
ordinances: but that such undertakings are inconsistent with that way of
government which Christ hath appointed in his Church, is evidenced, Part
II. chap. 9, well compared with chap. 11.

_Doubt_ 2. But this presbyterial government is likely to be an arbitrary
and tyrannical government, forasmuch as the presbyters of the assembly
of divines and others (who, Diotrephes-like, generally affect
domineering) have desired an unlimited power, according to their own
judgments and prudence, in excommunicating men from the ordinances in
cases of scandal.

_Resol_. A heinous charge, could it be proved against the presbyterial
government. Now for wiping off this black aspersion, consider two
things, viz: I. The imputation itself, which is unjust and groundless;
II. The pretended ground hereof, which is false or frivolous.

I. The imputation itself is, that the presbyterial government is likely
to be an arbitrary and tyrannical government. _Ans_. How unjust this
aspersion! I. What likelihood of arbitrary conduct in this government,
that is, that it should be managed and carried on according to men's
mere will and pleasure? For, 1. The presbyterial government (truly so
called) is not in the nature of it any invention of man, but an
ordinance of Christ; nor in the execution of it to be stated by the will
of man, but only by the sure word of prophecy, the sacred Scriptures.
This government allows not of one church officer at all; nor of one
ruling assembly made up of those officers; nor of one censure or act of
power to be done by any officer or assembly; nor of one ordinance to be
managed in the Church of God, but what are grounded upon, and warranted
by the word of God. This government allows no execution of any part
thereof, neither in substantials, nor circumstantials, but according to
the particular, or at least, the general rules of Scripture
respectively. And can that be arbitrary, which is not at all according
to man's will, but only according to Christ's rule, limiting and
ordering man's will? Or is not the Scripture a better and safer
provision against all arbitrary government in the Church, than all the
ordinances, decrees, statutes, or whatsoever municipal laws in the world
of man's devising, can be against all arbitrary government in the
commonwealth? Let not men put out their own eyes, though others would
cast a mist before them. 2. Who can justly challenge the reformed
presbyterial churches for arbitrary proceedings in matters of church
government, practised in some of them for above these fourscore years?
Or where are their accusers? 3. Why should the presbyterial
government, to be erected in England, be prejudged as arbitrary, before
the government be put in execution? When arbitrary conduct appears, let
the adversaries complain. 4. If any arbitrary conduct hath been
discovered in any reformed church, or shall fall out in ours, it is or
shall be more justly reputed the infirmity and fault of the governors,
than of the government itself.

II. What probability or possibility of tyranny in the presbyterial
government? For, 1. Who should tyrannize, what persons, what ruling
assemblies? Not the ministers; for, hitherto they have given no just
cause of any suspicion, since this government was in hand: and they are
counterpoised in all assemblies with a plurality of ruling elders, it
being already studiously[3] provided that there be always two ruling
elders to one minister: if there be still two to one, how should they
tyrannize if they would? Neither ministers nor ruling elders are likely
to tyrannize, if due care be taken by them, whom it doth concern, to
elect, place, and appoint, conscientious, prudent, and gracious
ministers and ruling elders over all congregations. Nor yet the ruling
assemblies, lesser or greater; for in the presbyterial government all
lesser ruling assemblies (though now at first, perhaps, some of them
consisting of more weak and less experienced members) are subordinate to
the greater authoritatively; and persons aggrieved by any
mal-administrations have liberty to appeal from inferior to superior:
and the very national assembly itself, though not properly subordinate,
yet is it to be responsible to the supreme political magistracy in all
their proceedings so far as subjects and members of the commonwealth.

III. How can they tyrannize over any? Or in what respects? Not over
their estates: for they claim no secular power at all over men's
estates, by fines, penalties, forfeitures, or confiscations. Not over
their bodies, for they inflict no corporal punishment, by banishment,
imprisonment, branding, slitting, cropping, striking, whipping,
dismembering, or killing. Not over their souls; for, them they desire by
this government to gain, Matth. xviii. 15; to edify, 2 Cor. x. 8, and
xiii. 10; and to save, 1 Cor. v. 5. Only this government ought to be
impartial and severe against sin, that the flesh may be destroyed, 1
Cor. v. 5. It is only destructive to corruption, which is deadly and
destructive to the soul. Thus the imputation itself of arbitrary conduct
and tyranny to the presbyterial government is unjust and groundless.

II. The pretended ground of this aspersion is false and frivolous. The
presbyters of the Assembly of Divines, and others (_Diotrephes_-like,
affecting pre-eminence) have desired an unlimited power, according to
their own prudence and judgment, in keeping men from the ordinances in
cases of scandal not enumerated. _Ans_. 1. The presbyters of the
Assembly and others, are so far from the domineering humor of
Diotrephes, that they could gladly and heartily have quitted all
intermeddling in church government, if Jesus Christ had not by office
engaged them thereto; only to have dispensed the word and sacraments
would have procured them less hatred, and more case. 2. They desired
liberty to keep from the ordinances, not only persons guilty of the
scandals enumerated, but of all such like scandals, (and to judge which
are those scandals, not according to their minds unlimitedly, but
according to the mind of Christ in his word, more sure than all
ordinances or acts of Parliament in the world.) And was this so hideous
a desire? This liberty was desired, not for themselves, but for
well-constituted elderships. As great power was granted by the very
service-book to every single curate; (see the Rubric before the
communion.) A perfect enumeration and description of scandals can be
made in no book but in the Scriptures; and when all is done, must we not
refer thither? All scandals are punishable, as well as any, and to
inflict penalties on some, and not on others as bad or worse, is
inexcusable partiality. Why should not presbyteries duly constituted,
especially the greater, be accounted, at least, as faithful,
intelligent, prudent, and every way as competent judges of what is
scandal, and what not, according to the Scriptures, and that without
arbitrary conduct and tyranny, as any civil court, committees, or
commissioners whatsoever? Ruling church assemblies are intrusted with
the whole government in the church, consequently with this, and every
part. The best reformed churches allow to their presbyteries power to
keep from the ordinances scandalous persons, not only for scandals
enumerated, but for scandals of like nature not enumerated, with some
general clause or other, as may appear in eight several churches,
according to the allegations here in the foot-note;[4] and, therefore,
no new thing is desired, but what is commonly practised in the reformed
churches, whom we should imitate so far as they lead us on towards
purity and perfection.

_Doubt_ 3. But the independent government seems to be a far more
excellent way, and it is embraced by many godly and precious people and

_Ans_. 1. What true excellency is there at all in the whole independent
government, save only in those particulars wherein it agrees with the
presbyterial government; and only so far as it is presbyterial?
Therefore, the presbyterial government is equally, yea, primarily and
principally excellent. Wherein is the excellency of the independent way
of government? 1st. Have they only those officers which Christ himself
hath appointed, pastors and teachers, ruling elders and deacons? So the
Presbyterians. 2d. Have they those spiritual censures, of admonishing,
excommunicating, and receiving again into communion, which Christ
ordained in his Church, for guarding his ordinances, and well guiding of
the flock? So the Presbyterians. 3d. Have they congregational
presbyteries duly elected, and constituted for the exercise of all acts
of government, proper and necessary for their respective congregations?
So the Presbyterians. 4th. Have they liberty of electing their own[5]
officers, pastors, elders, and deacons? So the Presbyterians. 5th. Have
they power to keep the whole lump of the Church from being leavened, and
purely to preserve the ordinances of Christ, from pollution and
profanation, &c.? So the Presbyterians, &c. So that whereinsoever the
independent government is truly excellent, the presbyterial government
stands in a full equipage and equality of excellence.

II. What one true excellence is there in the whole independent
government in any one point, wherein it really differs from the
presbyterial government? Take for instance a few points of difference.

_In the independent government._

    No other visible Church of Christ is acknowledged, but only a single
    congregational meeting in one place to partake of all ordinances.

    The matter of their visible Church must be to their utmost judgment
    of discerning such as have true grace, real saints.

    Their churches are gathered out of other true visible churches of
    Christ, without any leave or consent of pastor or flock; yea,
    against their wills, receiving such as tender themselves, yea, too
    often by themselves or others, directly or indirectly seducing
    disciples after them.

    Preaching elders are only elected, not ordained.

    Ruling elders also preach.

    The subject of church government is the community of the faithful.

    The church officers act immediately as the servants of the church,
    and deputed thereby.

    All censures and acts of government are dispensed in single
    congregations ultimately, independently, without all liberty of
    appeal from them to any superior church assembly; so the parties
    grieved are left without remedy.

    There are acknowledged no authoritative classes or synods, in
    common, great, difficult cases, and in matters of appeals, but only
    suasive and consultative; and in case advice be not followed, they
    proceed only to a non-communion.

_In the presbyterial government._

    One general visible Church of Christ on earth is acknowledged, and
    all particular churches; and single congregations are but as similar
    parts of that whole.

    The matter of the Church invisible are only true believers, but of
    the Church visible persons professing true faith in Christ, and
    obedience to him according to the rules of the Gospel.

    Parochial churches are received as true visible churches of Christ,
    and most convenient for mutual edification. Gathering churches out
    of churches, hath no footsteps in Scripture; is contrary to
    apostolical practice; is the scattering of churches, the daughter of
    schism, the mother of confusion, but the stepmother to edification.

    Preaching elders are both elected and ordained.

    Ruling elders only rule, preach not, 1 Tim. v. 17.

    The subject of church government is only Christ's own church

    The church governors act immediately as the servants of Christ, and
    as appointed by him.

    All censures and acts of government are dispensed in congregational
    presbyteries subordinately, dependently, with liberty of appeal in
    all cases to presbyterial or synodal assemblies; where parties
    grieved have sufficient remedy.

    There are acknowledged, and with happy success used, not only
    suasive and consultative; but also authoritative classes and synods,
    in cases of great importance, difficulty, common concernment, or
    appeals; which have power to dispense all church censures, as need
    shall require.

Let these and such like particulars in the independent way, differing
from the presbyterial, be duly pondered, and then let the impartial and
indifferent reader judge, whether they be not the deformities, at least
the infirmities of that way.

III. How many true excellences are there in the way of the presbyterial
government, wherein it utterly surpasses the independent government!
Read but the particulars of the former parallel in the presbyterial
government, and then consider how far this transcends, yea, how the
independent government is indeed no government at all, to the
presbyterial government; wherein is to be found such ample provision,
and that according to the word of God, for comely order against
confusion; for peace and unity of the Church against schism and
division; for truth of the faith against all error and heresy; for piety
and unblamableness against all impiety and scandal of conversation; for
equity and right against all mal-administrations, whether ignorant,
arbitrary, or tyrannical; for the honor and purity of all Christ's
ordinances against all contempt, pollution, and profanation; for
comfort, quickening, and encouragement of the saints in all the ways of
Christ; and consequently for the honor of God and our Lord Jesus Christ
in all the mysterious services of his spiritual sanctuary: all which
rich advantages, how impossible is it they should ever be found in the
independent government so long as it continues independent? And what
though some pious minister and people embrace the independent way! This
dazzles not the eyes of the intelligent, but of the infirm; we are to be
regulated by Scripture warrant, not by human examples. The best of
saints have failed in the ecclesiastical affairs; what a sharp
contention was there between Paul and Barnabas, Acts xv. 39, &c.; what a
dangerous dissimulation was there in Peter, the Jews, and Barnabas! Gal.
ii. 11, 12, 13, &c.; and, therefore, it is not safe, prudent, or
conscientious, to imitate all the examples of the best, and yet how few
are those that have engaged themselves in the independent way, in
comparison to the multitude of precious ministers and people, inferior
to them neither in parts, learning, piety, nor any other spiritual gift,
who are for the presbyterial way of church government! Notwithstanding,
let all the true Israel of God constantly follow, not the doubtful
practices of unglorified saints, but the written pleasure of the most
glorious King of saints; and as many as walk according to this rule,
peace shall be on them, and upon the Israel of God.





_That there is a Government in the Church of_ DIVINE RIGHT _now under
the New Testament._

Jesus Christ our Mediator hath _the government_ (both of the Church, and
of all things for the Church) laid _upon his shoulder_, Isa. ix. 6, and
to that end hath _all power in heaven and earth given to him_, Matth.
xxviii. 18, John v. 22, Ephes. i. 22. But lapsed man (being full of
pride, Psal. x. 2, 4, and enmity against the law of God, Rom. viii. 7)
is most impatient of all government of God and of Christ, Ps. ii. 1, 2,
3, with Luke xix. 14, 27; whence it comes to pass, that the _governing_
and _kingly power_ of Christ hath been opposed in all ages, and
especially in this of ours, by quarrelsome queries, wrangling disputes,
plausible pretences, subtle policies, strong self-interests, and mere
violent wilfulness of many in England, even after they are brought under
the _oath of God to reform church government according to the word of
God_. Yet it will be easily granted _that there should be a government
in the Church of God_, otherwise the Church would become a mere _Babel_
and _chaos_ of confusion, and be in a far worse condition than all human
societies in the whole world: and _that some one church government is
much to be preferred before another, yea, before all other_; as being
most desirable in itself, and most suitable to this state; otherwise,
why is the _Prelatical_ government rejected, that another and a better
may be erected instead thereof? But the pinch lies in this, _Whether
there be any government in the Church visible of divine right?_ And, if
so, _which of those church governments_ (which lay claim to a divine
right for their foundation) _may be most clearly evinced by the
Scriptures to be of_ divine right _indeed?_ If the former be
convincingly affirmed, the fancy of the _Erastians_ and _semi-Erastians_
of these things will vanish, that deny all government to the Church
distinct from that of the civil magistrate. If the latter be solidly
proved by Scripture, it will appear, whether the _monarchical
government_ of the pope and prelates; or the _mere democratical
government_ of all the people in an equal level of authority, as among
the Brownists; or the _mixed democratical government_ of both elders and
people within their own single congregation only, without all
subordination of Assemblies, and benefit of appeals, as among the
Independents; or rather the _pure representative government_ of the
presbytery or church rulers only, chosen by the people, in subordination
to superior synodical assemblies, and with appeals thereto, as it is
among the Presbyterians, be that peculiar government which Jesus Christ
hath left unto his church, by divine right, and in comparison of which
all others are to be rejected.

To draw things therefore to a clear and speedy issue about the divine
right of church government, let this general proposition be laid down--

_The Scriptures declare, That there is a government of_ DIVINE RIGHT _in
the visible Church of Christ now under the New Testament._

This is evident, 1 Cor. xii. 28, _God hath set some in the Church,
first, Apostles, secondly, Prophets, thirdly, Teachers--Helps,
Governments;_ in which place these things are plain: 1. That here the
Apostle speaks of the visible Church: for he had formerly spoken of
visible gifts and _manifestations of the Spirit given to profit this_
Church _withal_, ver. 7 to 12. He also compares this Church of God to a
visible organical body, consisting of many visible members, ver. 12, 13,
&c. And in this 28th verse he enumerates the visible officers of this
Church. 2. That here the Apostle speaks of one general visible Church;
for he saith not _churches_, but _church_, in the singular number, that
is, of one; besides, he speaks here of the Church in such a latitude as
to comprehend in itself all gifts of the Spirit, all members, and all
officers, both extraordinary and ordinary, which cannot be meant of the
church of Corinth, or any one particular church, but only of that one
general Church on earth. 3. That this general visible Church here meant,
is the Church of Christ now under the New Testament, and not under the
Old Testament; for he mentions here the New Testament officers only,
ver. 28. 4. That in the visible Church now under the New Testament,
there is a government settled; for besides _Apostles, Prophets_, and
_Teachers_, here is mention of another sort of officer distinct from
them all, called, in the abstract, _Governments_, a metaphor from
pilots, mariners, or shipmasters, who by their helm, card, or compass,
cables, and other tacklings, guide, and order, turn and twine the ship
as necessity shall require; so these officers called _Governments_, have
a power of governing and steering the spiritual vessel of the Church;
thus, Beza on this place, says he declares the order of Presbyters, _who
are keepers of discipline and church polity_. For how improperly should
these, or any officers be styled _Governments in the Church_, if they
had not a power of government in the Church settled upon them? Nor can
this be interpreted of the civil magistrate; for, when the Apostle wrote
this, the Church had her government, when yet she had no civil
magistrate to protect her; and when did God ever take this power from
the Church and settle it upon the civil magistrate? Besides, all the
other officers here enumerated are purely ecclesiastical officers; how
groundless then and inconsistent is it under this name of _Governments_
to introduce a foreign power, viz. the political magistrate, into the
list and roll of mere church officers? Finally, the civil magistrate, as
a magistrate, is not so much as a member of the visible Church, (for
then all Pagan magistrates should be members of the Church,) much less a
governor in the Church of Christ. 5. That this government settled in the
Church is of divine right; for, of those _Governments_, as well as of
_Apostles, Prophets_, and _Teachers_, it is said, _God hath set_ them
_in the Church. God hath set_ them, _hath put, set_--Tremellius out of
the Syriac. Hath _constituted, ordained_--Beza out of the Greek. Now, if
they be set in the Church and God hath set them there, here is a plain
divine right for government in the Church.

Add hereto, 2 Cor. x. 8, "Of our authority, which the Lord hath given to
us for the edification, and not for the destruction of you." Here are
mentioned--1. Church power or authority for government in the Church. 2.
The end of this power--positively, for the edification; negatively, not
for the destruction of the Church. 3. The Author or Fountain of this
authority--the Lord Christ hath given it, dispensed it; there is the
divine right. 4. The proper subjects intrusted with this authority, viz:
the church guides, our authority, which he hath given to us. They are
the receptacle of power for the Church, and the government thereof.
Compare also 1 Thes. v. 12, Matth. xvi. 19, 20, with xviii. 11, and John
xx. 21, 22, 23. In which and divers like places the divine right of
church government is apparently vouched by the Scripture, as will
hereafter more fully appear; but this may suffice in general for the
confirmation of this general proposition.


_Of the Nature of a_ DIVINE RIGHT _in general._

Now touching this divine right of church government, two things are yet
more particularly to be opened and proved, for the more satisfactory
clearing thereof unto sober minds, to unprejudiced and unpre-engaged
judgments, viz:--1. What the nature of a divine right is, and how many
ways a thing may be said to be of divine right, and that by warrant of
Scripture. 2. What the nature of the government of the Church under the
New Testament is, which is vouched by the Scripture to be of divine

For the first--viz. What the nature of a divine right is--consider both
what a divine right is in general, and how many ways a thing may be said
by Scripture warrant to be of divine right in particular.

_Right_ is that which is most proper, just, or equal; or that which is
prescribed or commanded by some statute law, and is just to be received
in virtue of said law.

_Divine_ sometimes points out a divine warrant or authority from God,
engraven or enstamped upon any thing, whereby it is exalted above all
human or created authority and power. And thus, all Scripture is styled
divinely breathed or inspired of God. Hence is the divine authority of
Scripture asserted, 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17; and in this sense divine right
is here spoken of, in reference to church government, as it signifies a
divine warrant and authority from God himself, engraven upon that church
government and discipline, (hereafter to be handled,) and revealed to us
in his holy Scriptures, the infallible and perfect oracles. So that
divine right, according to this interpretation of the terms, is that
which is either just, meet, and equal; or commanded and enjoined by any
divine warrant or authority. And generally, a thing may be said to be of
divine right, which is any way divinely just, equal, &c.; or divinely
commanded by any law of God, or by that which is equivalent to a divine
law. And whatsoever matters in church government can be proved by
Scripture to have this stamp of divine warrant and authority set upon
them, they may properly be said to be of divine right, and that by the
will and appointment of Jesus Christ, to whom God hath delegated all
power and authority for the government of his Church, Matth. xxviii. 18,
19, 20, Isa. ix. 6, John v. 22, Eph. i. 22. In this sense, if church
government, or any part of it, be found to be of divine right, then
consequently--1. It is above all mere human power and created authority
in the world whatsoever, and that supereminently. A divine
right is the highest and best tenure whereby the Church can hold of
Christ any doctrine, worship, or government; only God can stamp such a
divine right upon any of these things, whereby conscience shall be
obliged. All human inventions herein, whether devised of our own hearts,
or derived as traditions from others, are incompatible and inconsistent
herewith; vain in themselves, and to all that use them, and condemned of
God. See 1 Kings xii. 32, 33, Isa. xxix. 4, Matth. xv. 6, 7, 8, 9. 2. It
is beyond all just, human, or created power, to abolish or oppose the
same, or the due execution thereof in the Church of Christ; for what is
of divine right, is held of God, and not of man; and to oppose that,
were to fight against God. The supreme magistrates in such cases should
be nurse-fathers, Isa. xlix. 23, not step-fathers to the Church; their
power being cumulative and perfective, not privative and destructive
unto her; for she both had and exercised a power in church government,
long before there was any Christian magistrate in the world; and it
cannot be proved that ever Christ took away that power from his Church,
or translated it to the political magistrate, when he became Christian.
3. It is so obligatory upon all churches in the whole Christian world,
that they ought uniformly to submit themselves unto it; for a divine
right is equally obligatory on one church as well as on another. And it
is so obligatory on all persons, states, and degrees, that none ought to
be exempted from that church government which is of divine right, nor to
be _tolerated_ in another church government, which is but of human
invention; nor ought any Christian to seek after, or content himself
with any such exemption or _toleration_; for in so doing, the inventions
of men should be preferred before the ordinances of God; our own wisdom,
will, and authority, before the wisdom, will, and authority of Christ:
and we should in effect say, _We will not have this man to reign over
us_, Luke xix. 27. _Let us break their bands asunder, and cast their
cords away from us_, Psalm ii. 3.


_Of the Nature of a_ DIVINE RIGHT _in particular. How many ways a thing
may be of_ DIVINE RIGHT. _And first, of a_ DIVINE RIGHT _by the true
light of nature._

Thus we see in general what a divine right is: now in particular let us
come to consider how many ways a thing may be said to be of divine right
by scripture-warrant, keeping still our eye upon this subject of church
government, at which all particulars are to be levelled for the clearing
of it.

A thing may be said to be of divine right, or (which is the same for
substance) of divine institution, divers ways. 1. _By the true light of
nature._ 2. _By obligatory scripture examples._ 3. _By divine
approbation._ 4. _By divine acts._ 5. _By divine precepts or mandates._
All may be reduced to these five heads, ascending by degrees from the
lowest to the highest divine right.

I. _By light of nature._ That which is evident by, and consonant to the
true light of nature, or natural reason, is to be accounted of divine
right in matters of religion. Hence two things are to be made out by
Scripture. 1. What is meant by the true light of nature. 2. How it may
be proved, that what things in religion are evident by, or consonant to
this true light of nature, are of divine right.

1. For the first, What is meant by the true light of nature, or natural
reason? Thus conceive. The light of nature may be considered two ways.
1. As it was in man before the fall, and so it was that image and
similitude of God, in which man was at first created, Gen. i. 26, 27, or
at least part of that image; which image of God, and light of nature,
was con-created with man, and was perfect: viz. so perfect as the sphere
of humanity and state of innocency did require; there was no sinful
darkness, crookedness, or imperfection in it; and whatsoever was evident
by, or consonant to this pure and perfect light of nature, in respect
either of theory or practice, was doubtless of divine right, because
correspondent to that divine law of God's image naturally engraved in
Adam's heart. But man being lapsed, this will not be now our question,
as it is not our case. 2. As it is now in man after the fall. The light
of nature and image of God in man is not totally abolished and utterly
razed by the fall; there remain still some relics and fragments thereof,
some glimmerings, dawnings, and common principles of light, both
touching piety to God, equity to man, and sobriety to a man's self, &c.,
as is evident by comparing these places, Psal. xix. 1, 2, &c., Acts
xiv. 17, and xvii. 27, 28; Rom. i. 18-21, and ii. 12, 14, 15; 2 Cor. v.
1: in which places it is plain, 1. That the book of the creature is able
(without the scriptures, or divine revelations) to make known to man
much of God, his invisible Godhead and attributes, Psalm xix. 1, 2, &c.;
Acts xiv. 17, and xvii. 27, 28; yea, so far as to leave them without
excuse, Rom. i. 18-21. 2. That there remained so much natural light in
the minds even of the heathens, as to render them capable of instruction
by the creature in the invisible things of God; yea, and that they
actually in some measure did know God, and because they walked not up to
this knowledge, were plagued, Rom. i. 18-21, 24, &c. 3. That the work of
the law (though not the right ground, manner, and end of that work,
which is the blessing of the new covenant, Jer. xxxi. 33; Heb. viii. 10)
was materially written in some measure in their hearts. Partly because
they did by nature without the law the things contained in the law, so
being a law to themselves, Rom. ii. 14, 15; partly, because they by
nature forbore some of those sins which were forbidden in the law, and
were practised by some that had the law, as 2 Cor. v. 1; and partly,
because according to the good and bad they did, &c., their conscience
did accuse or excuse, Rom. ii. 15. Now conscience doth not accuse or
excuse but according to some rule, principle, or law of God, (which is
above the conscience,) or at least so supposed to be. And they had no
law but the imperfect characters thereof in their own hearts, which were
not quite obliterated by the fall. Now so far as this light of nature
after the fall, is a true relic of the light of nature before the fall,
that which is according to this light may be counted of divine right in
matters of religion, which is the next thing to be proved.

For the second, how it may be proved that what things in religion are
evident by, or consonant to this true light of nature, are of divine
right. Thus briefly,

1. Because that knowledge which by the light of nature Gentiles have of
the invisible things of God, is a beam of divine light, as the apostle,
speaking of the Gentiles' light of nature, saith, That which may be
known of God is manifest in them--for God hath showed it to them. For
the invisible things, &c., Rom. i. 19, 20. God himself is the Fountain
and Author of the true light of nature; hence some not unfitly call it
the divine light of nature, not only because it hath God for its object,
but also God for its principle; now that which is according to God's
manifestation, must needs be of divine right.

2. Because the Spirit of God and of Christ in the New Testament is
pleased often to argue from the light of nature in condemning of sin, in
commending and urging of duty, as in the case of the incestuous
Corinthian; "It is reported commonly, that there is fornication among
you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the
Gentiles," (who had only the light of nature to guide them,) 1 Cor. v.
1. In case of the habits of men and women in their public church
assemblies, that women's heads should be covered, men's uncovered in
praying or prophesying. "Judge in yourselves, is it comely that a woman
pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that if
a man hath long hair, it is a shame to him? but if a woman have long
hair it is a glory to her," &c., 1 Cor. xi. 13-15. Here the apostle
appeals plainly to the very light of nature for the regulating and
directing of their habits in church assemblies; and thus, in case of
praying or prophesying in the congregation in an unknown tongue, (unless
some do interpret,) he strongly argues against it from the light of
nature, 1 Cor. xiv. 7-11, and afterwards urges that women be silent in
their churches, from the natural uncomeliness of their speaking there,
for it is a shame for women to speak in the church, 1 Cor. xiv. 34, 35.

Now, if the Spirit of God condemn things as vicious, and commend things
as virtuous from the light of nature, is there not divine right in the
light of nature? May we not say, that which is repugnant to the light of
nature in matters of religion, is condemned by divine right; and what is
correspondent to the light of nature, is prescribed by divine right? And
if not, where is the strength or force of this kind of arguing from the
light of nature?

Consequently, in the present case of church government, that which is
agreeable to the true light of nature, must needs be confessed to be of
divine right. Though the light of nature be but dim, yet it will lend
some help in this particular: e.g. the light of nature teaches, 1. That
as every society in the world hath a distinct government of its own
within itself, without which it could not subsist, so must the Church,
which is a society, have its own distinct government within itself,
without which it cannot subsist more than any other society. 2. That in
all matters of difference the lesser number in every society should give
way to, and the matters controverted be determined and concluded by the
major part; else there would never be an end: and why not so in the
Church? 3. That in every ill administration in inferior societies the
parties aggrieved should have liberty to appeal from them to superior
societies, that equity may take place; and why not from inferior to
superior church assemblies?


II. _Of a Divine Right by obligatory Scripture Examples._

II. By obligatory scripture examples (which God's people are bound to
follow and imitate) matters of religion become of divine right, and by
the will and appointment of Jesus Christ, by whose Spirit those examples
were recorded in Scripture, and propounded for imitation to the saints.
The light of nature in this case helps something; but the light of
obligatory scripture examples helps much more, as being more clear,
distinct, and particular. We say scripture examples; for only these
examples are held forth to us by an infallible, impartial, divine hand,
and those scripture examples obligatory, or binding; for there are many
sorts of scripture examples that oblige not us to imitation of them,
being written for other uses and purposes.

Great use is to be made of such examples in matters of religion, and
particularly in matters of church government, for the clearing of the
divine right thereof; and great opposition is made by some against the
binding force of examples, especially by men of perverse spirits, (as
too many of the Erastian party are;) therefore it will be of great
consequence to unfold and clear this matter of scripture examples, and
the obliging power thereof, that we may see how far examples are to be a
law and rule for us by divine right. In general, this proposition seems
to be unquestionable, that whatsoever matter or act of religion Jesus
Christ makes known to his Church and people, by or under any binding
scripture example, that matter or act of religion so made known, is of
divine right, and by the will and appointment of Jesus Christ: But to
evince this more satisfactorily, these several particulars are to be
distinctly made good and manifested: 1. That some scripture examples are
obligatory and binding on Christians in matters of religion. 2. Which
are those obligatory scripture examples? These things being made out, we
shall see with what strength scripture examples hold forth a divine
right to us in the mysteries of religion, and particularly in church

I. That some scripture examples in matters of religion are obligatory on
Christians, as patterns and rules, which they are bound in conscience to
follow and imitate, is evident,

1. By the divine intention of the Spirit of God, in recording and
propounding of examples in Scripture: for he records and propounds them
for this very end, that they may be imitated. Thus Christ's humility,
in washing the feet of his disciples, was intentionally propounded as an
obligatory example, binding both the disciples, and us after them, to
perform the meanest offices of love in humility to one another. "If I
then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash
one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do
as I have done to you," John xiii. 4, &c., 13-15. Thus Christ's
suffering with innocence and unprovoked patience, not reviling again,
&c., is purposely propounded for all Christians to imitate, and they are
bound in conscience as well as they can to follow it--"Christ suffered
for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps," &c., 1
Pet. ii. 21-23. Hence, the apostle so urges the example of Christ for
the Corinthians to follow in their bounty to the poor saints, yea,
though to their own impoverishing, "For you know the grace of our Lord
Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became
poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich," 2 Cor. viii. 9. Nor
was the example of Christ only written for our imitation; but the
examples of the apostles also in the primitive churches were
intentionally left upon record for this end, that they might be binding
patterns for us to follow in like cases in after ages. And in
particular, this seems to be one singular ground, scope, and intention
of Christ's Spirit in writing the history of the Acts of the Apostles,
that the apostles' acts in the primitive churches might be our rules in
successive churches. For, 1. Though this book contain in it many things
dogmatical, that is, divers doctrines of the apostles, yet it is not
styled the book of the doctrine, but of the Acts of the Apostles, that
we may learn to act as they acted. This being one main difference
between profane and sacred histories; those are for speculation, these
also for admonition and imitation, 1 Cor. x. 11. The history, therefore,
of the Acts propounds examples admonitory and obligatory upon us, that
we should express like acts in like cases. 2. Luke (the penman of the
Acts) makes such a transition from his history of Christ, to this
history of Christ's apostles, as to unite and knit them into one volume,
Acts i. 1; whence we are given to understand, that if the Church wanted
this history of the apostles, she should want that perfect direction
which the Spirit intended for her: as also that this book is useful and
needful to her as well as the other. 3. In the very front of the Acts it
is said, that _Christ after his resurrection_ (and before his ascension)
_gave commandments to the apostles--and spake of the things pertaining
to the kingdom of God_, Acts i. 2, 3; viz. of the polity of the Church,
say some.[6] Of the kingdom of grace, say others.[7] Judicious
Calvin[8] interprets it partly of church government, saying, Luke
admonisheth us, that Christ did not so depart out of the world, as to
cast off all care of us: for by this doctrine he shows that he hath
constituted a perpetual government in his Church. Therefore Luke
signifies, that Christ departed not, before he had provided for his
Church's government. Now those expressions are set in the frontispiece,
to stamp the greater authority and obligatory power upon the acts after
recorded, being done according to Christ's commandments; Christ
intending their acts in the first founding of his kingdom and polity
ecclesiastic to be the rule for after churches. For what Christ spoke of
his kingdom to the apostles is like that, "What I say to you, I say to
all," Matt. xiii. 37, as what was said to the apostles touching
preaching and baptizing, remitting and retaining of sins, was said to
all the apostles' successors, "to the end of the world," John xx. 21,
23, with Matt, xxviii. 18-20.

2. By God's approving and commending such as were followers not only of
the doctrine, but also of the examples of the Lord, his apostles, and
primitive churches; "And ye became followers" (or imitators) "of us and
of the Lord," 1 Thess. i. 6, 7; and again, "Ye, brethren, became
followers" (or imitators) "of the churches of God, which in Judea are in
Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own
countrymen, even as they have of the Jews," 1 Thess. ii. 14. In which
places the Holy Ghost recites the Thessalonians imitating of the Lord,
of the apostles, and of the churches, to the praise of the
Thessalonians, by which they are given to understand that they did well,
and discharged their duty in such imitations: for God's condemning or
commending any thing, is virtually a prohibiting or prescribing thereof.

3. By the Lord's commanding some examples to be imitated. Commands of
this nature are frequent. In general, "Beloved, imitate not that which
is evil, but that which is good," 3 John 11. In particular, 1. Imitating
of God and Christ; "Be ye, therefore, followers of God as dear children:
and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us," Eph. v. 1, 2, with Eph.
iv. 32. "He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also to walk,
even as he walked," 1 John ii. 6. 2. Imitating the apostles and other
saints of God. "I beseech you, be ye imitators of me: for this cause
have I sent unto you Timothy--who shall bring you into remembrance of my
ways which be in Christ," 1 Cor. iv. 16, 17. "Be ye imitators of me,
even as I also am of Christ," 1 Cor. xi. 1.

"Those things which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and
seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you," Phil. iv. 9.
"Be not slothful, but imitators of them who through faith and patience
inherit the promises," Heb. vi. 12. "Whose faith imitate, considering
the end of their conversation," Heb. xiii. 7. "Take, my brethren, the
prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example" (or
pattern) "of suffering affliction, and of patience," James v. 10. These
and like divine commands infallibly evidence that many scripture
examples are obligatory, and do bind our consciences to the imitation of

4. By consent of orthodox and learned writers, both ancient and modern,
acknowledging an obligatory force in some scripture examples, as being
left upon record for our imitation. As among others Chrysostom,[9] and
Greg. Nyssen[10] well observe.

Among modern writers, Mr. Perkins excellently observes, This is a rule
in divinity, that the ordinary examples of the godly approved in
Scripture, being against no general precept, have the force of a general
rule, and are to be followed. See also Pet. Martyr, Calvin, and

II. Thus, it is clear that some scripture examples are obligatory. Now
(to come closer to the matter) consider which scripture examples are
obligatory. 1. How many sorts of binding examples are propounded to us
in Scripture. 2. What rules we may walk by for finding out the
obligatory force of such examples.

How many sorts of binding examples are propounded unto us in Scripture,
and which are those examples? Ans. There are principally three sorts,
viz: Examples of God, of Christ, of Christians.

I. Of God. The example of God is propounded in Scripture as obligatory
on us in all moral excellencies and actions: e.g. Matt. v. 44, 45, 48;
Eph. v. 1; 1 Pet. i. 14-16; 1 John iv. 10, 11.

II. Of Christ. That the example of Christ is obligatory, and a binding
rule to us for imitation, is evident by these and like testimonies of
Scripture, Matt. xi. 29; 1 Cor. xi. 11; Eph. v. 2, 3, 25, &c.; 1 John
ii. 6; 1 Pet. ii. 21-23. "If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed
your feet, ye ought also to wash one another's feet. For I have given
you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you," John xiii. 14,
15. In this place we must follow the reason of the example, rather than
the individual act, viz: after Christ's example, we must be ready to
perform the lowest and meanest offices of love and service to one

But which of Christ's examples are obligatory on Christians, will better
appear, by distinguishing the several sorts of Christ's actions.
Christ's actions were of several kinds; and to imitate them all is
neither needful, nor possible, nor warrantable. Orthodox writers thus
rank Christ's actions:

1. Some of Christ's actions were of divine power and virtue; as his
miracles, turning water into wine, John ii. 7, &c.; walking on the sea,
Mark vi. 48, 49; dispossessing of devils by his word, Mark i. 27; Luke
iv. 36; curing one born blind with clay and spittle, John ix.; healing
the sick by his word or touch, John iv. 50; Mark vi. 56; raising the
dead to life again, as John xii. 1; Matt. xi. 5; Luke vii. 22.

2. Some were acts of divine prerogative, as sending for the ass and
colt, without first asking the owner's leave, Matt. xxi. 2, &c.

3. Some mediatory, done by him as Mediator, Prophet, Priest, and King of
his Church: e.g. inditing the Scripture, called therefore the word of
Christ, Col. iii. 16; laying down his life _for the sheep_, John x. 15,
&c.; giving of the Spirit, John xx. 22; Acts ii.; appointing of his own
officers, and giving them commissions, Eph. iv. 7, 10, 11; Matt. x. and
xxviii. 18-20; instituting of new, and thereby abrogating of old
ordinances, Matt. xxviii. 18, 19; 1 Cor. xi. 23, &c.

4. Some accidental, occasional, incidental, or circumstantial, as in
the case of his celebrating his supper, that it was at night, not in the
morning; after supper, not before; with none but men, none but
ministers; with unleavened, not with leavened bread, &c.; these
circumstantials were accidentally occasioned by the passover, nature of
his family, &c.

5. Some acts of Christ were moral, as Matt. xi. 29; Eph. v. 2, 3, 25,
&c.; or at least founded upon a moral reason and foundation, as John
xiii. 14,15.

To imitate Christ in his three first sort of acts, is utterly unlawful,
and in part impossible. To imitate him in his circumstantial acts from
necessity, were to make accidentals necessary, and happily to border
upon superstition; for, to urge any thing above what is appointed, as
absolutely necessary, is to urge superstition; and to yield to any thing
above what is appointed, as simply necessary, were to yield to
superstition. But to imitate Christ in his moral acts, or acts grounded
upon a moral reason, is our duty: such acts of Christ ought to be the
Christian's rules.

III. Of prophets, apostles, saints, or primitive churches. That their
examples are obligatory, is evident by these places, 1 Cor. xi. 1; Phil.
iv. 8, 9; 1 Pet. iii. 4, 5, 6; 1 Thess. i. 6, and ii. 14; Heb. xiii. 7;
James v. 10, 11; 3 John 11.

Which of their examples are obligatory, may be thus resolved, by
distinguishing of their actions.

1. Some were sinful; written for our caution and admonition, not for our
imitation: as 1 Cor. x. 5, 6, 10, 12. That neither the just be lifted up
into pride by security, nor the unjust be hardened against the medicine
through despair. See the fourth rule following.

2. Some were heroical; done by singular instinct and instigation of the
Spirit of God; as divers acts may be presumed to be, (though we read not
the instinct clearly recorded:) as, Elias's calling for fire from
heaven, 2 Kings i. 10; which the very apostles might not imitate, not
having his spirit, Luke ix. 54, 55; Phinehas's killing the adulterer and
adulteress, Numb. xxv. 7, 8; Samson's avenging himself upon his enemies
by his own death, Judges xvi. 30, of which, saith Bernard, if it be
defended not to have been his sin, it is undoubtedly to be believed he
had private counsel, viz. from God, for his fact; David's fighting with
Goliath of Gath the giant, hand to hand, 1 Sam. xvii. 32, &c., which is
no warrant for private duels and quarrels. Such heroic acts are not
imitable but by men furnished with like heroic spirit, and instinct

3. Some were by special calling, and singular extraordinary
dispensation: as Abraham's call to leave his own country for pilgrimage
in Canaan, Gen. xii. 1, 4, which is no warrant for popish pilgrimages
to the holy land, &c.; Abraham's attempts, upon God's special trying
commands, to kill and sacrifice his son, Gen. xxii. 10, no warrant for
parents to kill or sacrifice their children; the Israelites borrowing
of, and robbing the Egyptians, Exod. xii. 35, no warrant for cozenage,
stealing, or for borrowing with intent not to pay again: compare Rom.
xiii. 8; 1 Thess. iv. 6; Psal. xxxvii. 21; the Israelites taking usury
of the Canaanitish strangers, (who were destined to ruin both in their
states and persons, Deut. xx. 15-17,) Deut. xxiii. 20, which justifies
neither their nor our taking usury of our brethren, Lev. xxv. 36, 37;
Deut. xxiii. 19, 20; Neh. v. 7, 10; Psal. xv. 5; Prov. xxviii. 8; Ezek.
xviii. 8, 13, 17, and xxii. 12; John Baptist's living in the desert,
Mat. iii., no protection for popish hermitage, or proof that it is a
state of greater perfection, &c.

4. Some were only accidental or occasional, occasioned by special
necessity of times and seasons, or some present appearance of scandal,
or some such accidental emergency. Thus primitive Christians had all
things common, Acts iv. 32, but that is no ground for anabaptistical
community. Paul wrought at his trade of tent-making, made his hands
_minister to his necessities_, Acts xx. 34; would not take wages for
preaching to the church of Corinth, 2 Cor. xi. 7-9; but this lays no
necessity on ministers to preach the gospel _gratis_, and maintain
themselves by their own manual labors, except when cases and seasons are
alike, Gal. vi. 6-8; 1 Cor. ix. 6-13; 1 Tim. v. 17, 18.

5. Some were of a moral nature, and upon moral grounds, wherein they
followed Christ, and we are to follow them, 1 Cor. xi. 1; Phil. iv. 8,
9, and other places forementioned; for, whatsoever actions were done
then, upon such grounds as are of a moral, perpetual, and common
concernment to one person as well as another, to one church as well as
another, in one age as well as another, those actions are obligatory on
all, and a rule to after generations. Thus the baptizing of women in the
primitive churches, Acts viii. 12, and xvi. 15, though only the males
were circumcised under the Old Testament, is a rule for our baptizing of
women as well as men, they being _all one in Christ,_ Gal. iii. 28. So
the admitting of infants to the first initiating sacrament of the Old
Testament, circumcision, because they with their parents' were accounted
within the covenant of grace by God, Gen. xvii., is a rule for us now to
admit infants to the first initiating sacrament of the New Testament,
baptism, because infants are federally holy, and within the covenant
with their believing parents now, as well as then, Rom. xi. 16; 1 Cor.
vii. 14; Col. ii. 11, 12. Thus the baptizing of divers persons formerly,
though into no particular congregation, nor as members of any
particular congregation, as the eunuch, Acts viii.; Lydia, Acts xvi.;
the jailer, Acts xvi.; because it was sufficient they were baptized into
that one general visible body of Christ, 1 Cor. xii. 12, 13, is a rule
for us what to do in like cases upon the same common ground. Thus the
Church's practice of preaching the word, and breaking bread on the first
day of the week, Acts xx. 7, &c., is our rule for sanctifying the Lord's
day, by celebrating the word, sacraments, and other holy ordinances, at
these times. And in like manner, the primitive practices of ordaining
preaching presbyters, by laying on of hands, 1 Tim. iv. 14; 2 Tim. i. 6;
Acts xiii. 3; of governing all the congregations of a city by one common
presbytery, in which respect they are all called by the name of one
church, as the church of Jerusalem, Acts viii. 1, and xv. 4; the church
of Antioch, Acts xiii. 1, and xi. 25, 26; the church of Corinth, 1 Cor.
i. 2, 2 Cor. i. 1; which had churches in it, 1 Cor. xiv. 34. Of healing
common scandals and errors, troubling divers presbyterial churches by
the authoritative decrees of a synod, made up of members from divers
presbyterial churches, as Acts xv., and such like, are our rules in like
particulars, which the Lord hath left for our direction, the same
grounds of such actions reaching us as well as them.

Now this last kind of examples are those which we are, by divers divine
commands, especially enjoined to follow; and therefore such examples
amount to a divine right or institution; and what we ought to do by
virtue of such binding examples is of divine right, and by the will and
appointment of Jesus Christ.

What discriminatory notes or rules may we walk by, for finding out the
obligatory force of scripture examples; and what manner of examples
those be? For discovery hereof, take these ensuing general rules:

1. Those examples in Scripture, which the Spirit of Christ commands us
to imitate, are undoubtedly obligatory. Such are the moral examples of
God, Christ, apostles, prophets, saints, and churches, recorded in
Scripture, with command to follow them, Eph. iv. 32, and v. 1, 2; 1 John
ii. 6; 1 Cor. xi. 1; Phil. iv. 6; Heb. vi. 12, and xiii. 7; James v. 10;
3 John 11.

2. Those examples in Scripture, which the Spirit of Christ commends and
praises, are obligatory; his commendings are virtual commandings; and we
ought to follow whatsoever is praiseworthy, especially in God's account,
Phil. iv. 8, 9; 2 Cor. x. 18. Now the Spirit of Christ commends many
examples to us: as, _Enoch's walking with God_, Gen. v. 24; _Noah's
uprightness,_ Gen. vi.; _Abraham's faith_, Rom. iv., _and obedience_,
Gen. xxii.; _Lot's zeal against Sodom's sins_, 2 Pet. ii. 9; _Job's
patience_, James v. 10, 11. And in a word, all the examples of the
saints, which the Lord approves and speaks well of; as Heb. xi.; 1 Pet.
iii. 5, 6: together with all such examples, whose imitation by others is
commended in Scripture; as, 1 Thess. i. 6, 7, and ii. 14.

3. Those examples in Scripture are obligatory, whose ground, reason,
scope, or end, are obligatory, and of a moral nature, and as much
concern one Christian as another, one church as another, one time as
another, &c., whether they be the examples under the Old or New
Testament. Thus the example of the church of Corinth, in excommunicating
the incestuous person, because he was a wicked person--and lest he
should _leaven the whole lump;_ and that they might keep the
evangelical passover sincerely, and for that they had power _to judge
them within_; and that his "flesh might be destroyed, and his spirit
saved in the day of the Lord Jesus," 1 Cor. v. 5-8, 11-13: which grounds
and ends being moral, oblige us to use the like remedy against all
wicked and scandalous persons.

4. Those acts which are propounded in Scripture as patterns or examples,
that we should act the like good, or avoid the like ill, are an
obligatory law to us. There is an example of caution, and an example of

Thus in reference to well-doing, or suffering for well-doing, the
examples of Christ, his apostles, and other saints, are propounded as
patterns to write after, as John xiii. 14, 15; Heb. xi. tot. with Heb.
xii. 1, _with such a cloud of witnesses_. This verse is as the epilogue
of the former chapter, (saith the learned Calvin,) showing to what end
the catalogue of saints was reckoned up, who under the law excelled in
faith, viz: that every one may fit himself to imitate them. Another
adds,[12] He calls them a cloud, whereby we may be directed; in allusion
to that cloud that went before Israel in the wilderness, to conduct them
to the land of Canaan. See also 1 Pet. ii. 21-23; James v. 10.

Thus also, in reference to ill-doing, that it may be avoided by us, the
bad examples of saints and others are laid before us as warnings and
cautions to us, binding us to eschew like evils, 1 Cor. x. 5, 6, 11.
"Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust
after evil things, as they also lusted. Now all these things happened
unto them for examples," &c., Jude 7.

5. Those acts of saints or Christians, which were done by them as saints
and Christians, are obligatory upon, and to be followed by all
Christians; but those acts which are done by magistrates, prophets,
apostles, ministers, &c., only as such, are only obligatory on such as
have like offices, not on all; according to the maxim, that which agrees
to any thing as such, agrees to every thing that is such. Thus James
urges the example of Elias in praying, James v. 17. Paul presses the
example of Abraham in being justified by believing, Rom. iv. 23,24.
Peter prescribes, as a pattern to wives, the example of Sarah, and other
holy women of old, for "adorning themselves with a meek and quiet
spirit,--being in subjection to their own husbands," 1 Pet. iii. 4-6.

6. Those acts that were commonly and ordinarily done, are ordinarily to
be imitated; as, baptizing _in water only_, and not in any other
element, was the ordinary practice of the New Testament, Matt. iii. 11,
16; Mark i. 6, 10; Luke iii. 16; John i. 26, 31, 33; Acts i. 5, and
viii. 36, 38, and x. 47, and xi. 16; and by that practice we are obliged
to baptize in water only. Joining of many Christians together in
receiving the Lord's supper was an ordinary practice, Matt. xxvi. 20,
26, 27; Acts ii. 42, and xx. 7, &c.; 1 Cor. xi. 20, and by us ordinarily
to be imitated; how else is it a communion? 1 Cor. x. 16, 17.

But such acts as were done only upon special causes or singular reasons,
are only to be imitated in like cases. Thus Christ argues from a like
special cause, that he was not to do miracles at Nazareth without a
call, as he did in other places where he had a call of God; from the
particular example of Elijah and Elisha, who only went to them to whom
God called them, Luke ix. 25-27; so he proves that in like case of
necessity it was lawful for his disciples on the sabbath-day to rub ears
of corn and eat them, &c., from David's example of eating show-bread when
he had need, Matt. xii. 1-5.

7. Those acts that were done from extraordinary calling and gifts, are
to be imitated (in regard of their special way of acting) only by those
that have such extraordinary calling and gifts. Christ therefore blames
his apostles for desiring to imitate Elijah's extraordinary act in
calling for fire from heaven, &c., when they had not his spirit, Luke ix.
54, 55. Papists are blameworthy for imitating the extraordinary forty
days' and nights' fast of Moses, Elijah, and Christ, in their Lent fast.
Prelates argue corruptly for bishops' prelacy over their brethren the
ministers, from the superiority of the apostles over presbyters.


_Of a Divine Right by Divine Approbation._

III. By divine approbation of the Spirit of Jesus Christ in his word.
Whatsoever in matters of religion hath the divine approbation of the
Spirit of Christ in the Scriptures, that is of divine right, and by the
will and appointment of Jesus Christ. God's approving or allowing of any
thing, plainly implies that it is according to his will and pleasure,
and so is equivalent to a divine institution or appointment; for what is
a divine institution or law but the publishing of the divine will of the
legislator, touching things to be acted or omitted? and God cannot
approve any thing that is against his will. Contrariwise, God's
disallowing of any thing, plainly implies that it is against his will,
and so of divine right prohibited, and unlawful. God allows or disallows
things not because they are good or evil; but things are, therefore,
good or evil, because he approves or disallows them.

Now God approves or disallows things divers ways:

1. By commending or discommending. God commended king Josiah for his
zeal and impartiality in completing of the reformation of religion, 1
Kings xiii. 25. This is a rule for all princes and magistrates how they
should reform. The angel of the church of Ephesus is commended, for not
bearing of those that were evil, for trying and detecting the false
apostles, and for hating the works of the Nicolaitans, Rev. ii. 2, 3, 6.
The angel of the church of Pergamus is praised, for holding fast
Christ's name, and not denying his faith in places of danger, and days
of deepest persecution, Rev. ii. 13: a rule for all pastors and
churches, how in all such cases they should carry themselves. God's
commendings are divine commandings. On the contrary, God dispraises
Ephesus, for falling from her first love, Rev. ii. 4. Pergamus, for
holding the doctrine of Balaam, and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans,
Rev. ii. 14, 15. Thyatira, for tolerating the false prophetess Jezebel,
to teach and seduce his servants, &c., Rev. ii. 20. Laodicea, because
she was neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm, Rev. iii. 15. The church of
Corinth, for coming together in public assemblies, not for better but
for worse, by reason of schisms, scandals, and other disorders about the
Lord's supper, 1 Cor. xi. 17, &c. In these and all such divine
discommendings of the churches for their corruptions, all succeeding
churches are strongly forbidden the like corruptions: God's dispraises
are divine prohibitions. Thus good church elders are commended in this
notion, that they are _elders ruling well_, 1 Tim. v. 17; therefore,
that elders in the church should rule, and rule well, is by this
commendation of divine right.

2. By promising and threatening. What promise did God ever make to any
act or performance, which was not a duty? or what threatening against
any act which was not a sin? He promises to them that forsake all for
Christ, a "hundred-fold now in this time, and in the world to come
eternal life," Mark x. 29, 30; therefore it is our duty to forsake all
for Christ. He promised to ratify in heaven his disciples' sentences of
_building or loosing on earth_; and to _be with them_ whensoever _two or
three of them were met together_ for that end, Matt. xvi. 19, and xviii.
18-20, and John xx. 23. Therefore binding and loosing, remitting and
retaining of sins, and meeting together for that end, belong to them by
divine right. He promised to be with them that baptize, preach, remit,
and retain sins in his name, &c., _always, to the end of the world_,
John xx. 23; with Matt, xxviii. 18-20, which promise shows, that these
works and employments belong to all succeeding ministers to the world's
end, as well as to the apostles by divine right. On the contrary, the
Lord threatens Ephesus for decay of first love, Rev. ii. 4, 5; Pergamus,
for holding false doctrine, Rev. ii. 14, 15; Thyatira, for tolerating of
Jezebel and her false teaching, &c., Rev. ii. 21, 21, 23; and Laodicea,
for lukewarmness, Rev. iii. 15, 16. Therefore, all these were their
sins, and we are bound, even by this divine threatening, to avoid the
like by a divine warrant.

3. By remunerating or rewarding; whether he reward with blessings or
with judgments. With blessings God rewarded the Hebrew midwives, because
they preserved the male children of Israel, contrary to Pharaoh's bloody
command; _God made them houses_, Exod. i. 17, 20, 21. He will have the
elders that rule well _counted worthy of double honor_, &c.; i.e.
rewarded with a bountiful, plentiful maintenance, 1 Tim. v. 17.
Therefore, their ruling in the church is of divine right, for which God
appoints such a good reward. Contrariwise, with judgments God rewarded
king Saul, for offering a burnt-offering himself, 1 Sam. xiii. 12-14;
Uzzah, for touching the ark, though it was ready to fall, 2 Sam. vi. 6,
7; and king Uzziah, for going into the temple to burn incense, 2 Chron.
xxvi. 16. None of these being priests, yet presuming to meddle with the
priest's office. A rule for all persons, being not church officers, yea,
though they be princes or supreme magistrates, that they are hereby
warned by the divine law, not to usurp church authority or offices to
themselves. God rewarded the Corinthians with the judgments of
weakness, sickness, and death, for unworthy receiving of the Lord's
supper, 1 Cor. xi. 30. So that this is a divine warning for all after
churches against unworthy communicating.


IV. _Of a Divine Right by Divine Acts._

IV. By divine acts. Whatsoever matters of religion were erected in, or
conferred upon the Church of God, by God, or any person of the blessed
Trinity, and are left recorded in the Scripture, they are of divine
right, by the will and appointment of Jesus Christ. Shall divine
approbation, yea, shall the saints' binding example hold forth to us a
divine right, and shall not the divine actions of God, Christ, and the
Spirit, do it much more? Take some instances: the Lord's-day sabbath,
under the New Testament, was it not instituted (the seventh day being
changed to the first day of the week) by the acts of Christ, having now
perfected the spiritual creation of the new world? viz: by his
resurrection and apparitions to his disciples on that day, and
miraculous blessing and sanctifying of that day, by pouring forth the
gifts of the Holy Ghost, Acts ii., all which were seconded with the
apostolical practice in the primitive churches, Acts xx. 7, &c.; 1 Cor.
xvi. 1, 2. And do not the churches of Christ generally conclude upon
these grounds, that the Lord's-day sabbath is of divine warrant? Thus
circumcision is abrogated of divine right, by Christ's act, instituting
baptism instead thereof, Col. ii. 11, 12. The passover is abolished of
divine right, by Christ himself, our true passover, _being sacrificed
for us_, 1 Cor. v. 7; and the Lord's supper being instituted a memorial
of Christ's death instead of it, Matt, xxvi., Mark xiv., Luke xxii. And
the whole ceremonial law is antiquated and made void by Christ's death,
accomplishing all those dark types; therefore Christ, immediately before
his yielding up the ghost, cried, _It is finished_, John xix. 30. See
Col. ii. 14; Eph. ii. 14, 15; _abolishing the law of commandments in
ordinances_, Heb. viii. 13, and x. 4, 5, &c. Thus by Christ's act of
giving the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter and the apostles,
Matt. xvi. 19, and xviii. 18, 19, the keys belong to the officers of the
church by divine right. By God's act of _setting in the Church some,
first apostles_, &c., 1 Cor. xii. 28, all those officers belong to the
general visible Church by divine right. By Christ's act of bounty upon
his triumphant ascension into heaven, _in giving gifts to men_, Eph.
iv. 7, 11, 12; all those church officers being Christ's gifts, are of
divine right. Finally, by the Holy Ghost's act, in setting elders,
overseers over the flock, Acts xx. 28, elders are such overseers by
divine right.


V. _Of a Divine Right by Divine Precepts._

V. Finally, and primarily, by divine precepts, whatsoever in matters of
religion is commanded or forbidden by God in his word, that is
accordingly a duty or sin, by divine right: as, the duties of the whole
moral law, the ten words, commanded of God, Exod. xx.; Deut. v.
Believing in Christ, commanded of God, 1 John iii. 23. The plentiful and
honorable maintenance of ministers, commanded of God, 1 Tim. v. 17, 18;
1 Cor. ix. 9-11, 13, 14; Gal. vi. 6. The people's esteeming, loving, and
obeying their pastors and teachers, commanded of God, 1 Thess. v. 12;
Heb. xiii. 7, 17. Ministers' diligence and faithfulness, in feeding and
watching over their flocks, commanded of God, Acts xx. 28; 2 Tim. iv.
1-3; 1 Pet. iv. 1-3; with innumerable commands and precepts of all
sorts: now all things so commanded are evidently of divine right, and
without gainsaying, granted on all hands, even by Erastians themselves.
But the question will be, how far we shall extend this head of _divine
commands_. For clearness' sake, thus distinguish, thus resolve:

God's commands are either immediate or mediate.

1. Immediate divine commands: as those which God propounds and urges; as
the ten commandments, Exod. xx., Deut. v., and all other injunctions of
his in his word positively laid down. Of such commands, the apostle
saith, "I command, yet not I, but the Lord," 1 Cor. vii. 10.

Now these immediate commands of God, in regard of their manner of
publishing and propounding, are either explicit or implicit.

1. Explicit: which are expressly and in plain terms laid down, as the
letter of the commandments of the decalogue, Exod. xx. The commands of
Christ, "Feed my lambs, feed my sheep," John xxi.; "Go, disciple ye all
nations," &c., Matt, xxviii. 19; "Do this in remembrance of me," Matt,
xxvi; 1 Cor. xi. 23, 24, &c. Now whatsoever is expressly commanded of
God in plain, evident terms, that is of divine right, without all color
of controversy. Only take this caution, the divine right of things
enjoined by God's express command, is to be interpreted according to the
nature of the thing commanded, and the end or scope of the Lord in
commanding: e.g. 1. Some things God commands morally, to be of perpetual
use; as to honor father and mother, &c.; these are of divine right
forever. 2. Some things he commands but positively, to be of use for a
certain season; as the ceremonial administrations till Christ should
come, for the Jewish church, and the judicial observances for their
Jewish polity; and all these positive laws were of divine right till
Christ abrogated them. 3. Some things he commands only by way of trial,
not with intention that the things commanded should be done, but that
his people's fear, love, and obedience may be proved, tried, &c. Thus
God commanded Abraham to offer up his son Isaac for a burnt-offering,
Gen. xxii.: such things are of divine right only in such cases of
special infallible command. 4. Some things he commands extraordinarily
in certain select and special cases: as, _Israel to borrow jewels of the
Egyptians to rob them_, without intention ever to restore them, Exod.
xi. 2, &c. The disciples to _go preach_--yet to _provide neither gold
nor silver_, &c. Matt. x. 7-10. The elders of the church (while miracles
were of use in the church) _to anoint the sick with oil in the name of
the Lord_, for their recovery, James v. 14. These and like extraordinary
commands were only of force by divine right, in these extraordinary
select cases, when they were propounded.

1. Implicit, or implied: which are either comprehensively contained in
or under the express terms and letter of the command; or,
consequentially, are deducible from the express command.

Comprehensively, many things are contained in a command, that are not
expressed in the very letter of the command. Thus sound interpreters of
the decalogue generally confess, that all precepts thereof include the
whole parts under the general term, and God wills many things by them
more than the bare words signify: e.g. in negative commands, forbidding
sin, we are to understand the positive precepts prescribing the contrary
duties; and so, on the contrary, under affirmative commands, we are to
understand the negative thereof: thus Christ expounds the sixth
commandment, Matt. v. 21-27, and ver. 43, to the end of the chapter. So
when any evil is forbidden, not only the outward gross acts, but all
inward acts and degrees thereof, with all causes and occasions, all
fruits and effects thereof, are forbidden likewise: as, under killing,
provoking terms, rash anger, Matt. v. 21, 22; under adultery, wanton
looks, lustful thoughts, &c., Matt. v. 27-30. Now all things
comprehended in a command (though not expressed) are of divine right.

Consequentially, many things are clearly deducible from express commands
in Scripture, by clear, unforced, infallible, and undeniable
consequence. Now what things are commanded by necessary consequence,
they are of divine right, as well as things in express terms prescribed:
e.g. in the case of baptism, have the ordinary ministers of the New
Testament any punctual express command to baptize? yet, by consequence,
it is evident infallibly, the apostles are commanded to baptize, and the
promise is made to them by Christ, that he _will be with them always to
the end of the world_, Matt, xxviii. 18-20, which cannot be interpreted
of the apostles' persons only; for they were not to live till the
world's end, but are dead and gone long ago; but of the apostles and
their successors, the ministers of the gospel to the world's end; now to
whom the promise of Christ's presence is here to be applied, to them the
precept of baptizing and teaching is intended by clear consequence and
deduction. So, infants of Christian parents under the New Testament are
commanded to be baptized by consequence; for that the infants of God's
people under the Old Testament were commanded to be circumcised, Gen.
xvii.; for, the privileges of believers under the New Testament are as
large as the privileges of believers under the Old Testament: and the
children of believers under the New Testament are federally holy, and
within the covenant of God, as well as the children of believers under
the Old Testament, Gen. xvii., compared with Rom. xi. 16; 1 Cor. vii.
14: and what objections can be made from infants' incapacity now,
against their baptism, might as well then have been made against their
being circumcised: and why children should once be admitted to the
initiating sacrament, and not still be admitted to the like initiating
sacrament, (the Lord of the covenant and sacrament nowhere forbidding
them,) there can be no just ground. And baptism succeeds in the room of
circumcision, Col. ii. 11, 12. _Thus in case of the Lord's supper_,
apostles were commanded to dispense it, and men commanded to receive it.
"Do ye this in remembrance of me," Matt, xxvi., 1 Cor. xi. 24, 25; yet
by consequence, the ministers of the gospel succeeding the apostles,
being stewards of the mysteries of God, have the same charge laid upon
them; and women as well as men are enjoined to keep that sacrament,
whole families communicating in the passover, the forerunner of the
Lord's supper, Exod. xiv., and male and female being _all one in
Christ_, Gal. iii. 28. _Thus in case of the maintenance of ministers
under the New Testament_: the apostle proves it by consequence to be
commanded, God hath ordained, &c., from God's command of not _muzzling
the ox that treads out the corn_, and of maintaining the priests under
the Old Testament, 1 Cor. ix. 14, &c.; l Tim. v. 17, 18. And thus, in
case of church polity, the Hebrews are commanded to obey and be
subordinate to their rulers in the Lord, Heb. xiii. 17; consequently,
other churches are commanded not only to have rulers, but to obey and
submit to their rule and government. Timothy is commanded to lay hands
_suddenly on none_, &c., in ordaining of preaching elders, 1 Tim. v. 21,
22; consequently, such as succeed Timothy in ordaining of preaching
elders are enjoined therein to do nothing suddenly, hastily, &c., but
upon mature deliberation. The apostle commands, that men must _first be
proved, and found blameless, before they execute the deacon's office_, 1
Tim. iii. 10; by consequence, it is much more necessarily commanded,
that ruling elders should first be proved, and be found blameless,
before they exercise rule; and that ministers be examined, and found
blameless, before they be ordained to or execute the ministerial
function, for these offices are of greater and higher concernment than
the deacon's office.

2. Mediate divine commands, which are mediately from God, but
immediately from men; and these come under a double consideration, being

1. Such commands whose general principles are immediately the Lord's,
yet accommodations and determinations of particulars are from men, by
apparent deductions from those grounds. Of such the apostle saith, "But
to the rest speak I, not the Lord," 1 Cor. vii. 12; not that Paul
delivered any commands merely of his own head, (for he had "obtained
mercy of the Lord to be faithful," ver. 25, and did _think that he had
the Spirit of the Lord_, ver. 40,) but grounded his commands upon the
word of God, whereof the apostle was the interpreter. The case is
concerning divorce when it fell out that believer and unbeliever were
married together: the Lord had given general rules about divorce, but no
particular rule about this case, (it being not incident to the Jews;)
the apostle, therefore, accommodates the general rule to the particular
case; he, not the Lord, determined the particular. This sound
interpreters conceive to be the apostle's meaning: Thus the apostle,
treating of order in public assemblies, saith, "The prophet and the
spiritual man must acknowledge the things which I write, to be the
commandments of the Lord," 1 Cor. xiv. 37. Understand it mediately, as
being agreeable to the Lord's principles revealed: for otherwise how
should the prophet know what the Lord immediately revealed to the
apostle? or why should we think it probable that what Paul here speaks
of order and decency in church assemblies, was immediately and expressly
delivered him by speech or revelation from the Lord, seeing these
particulars have such easy and apparent deduction from general
principles, and revelations are not unnecessarily multiplied? Yet these
particular deductions and determinations are here styled the
commandments of the Lord.

2. Such commands, which are accidental and occasional, whose grounds and
general principles are also the Lord's; yet determination or deduction
of particulars can hardly be made, but in such emergent cases and
occasions accidentally falling out, as necessitate thereunto. As in that
case, Acts xv., when the synod commands abstinence _from blood, and
things strangled_, and that necessarily, (though the Levitical law was
now abrogated,) because the common use thereof by accident grew very
scandalous: therefore, by the law of charity, the use of Christian
liberty is to be suspended, when otherwise the scandal of my brother is
endangered; yet from any ground of equity to have provided such a
particular rule as this, without such a case occurring, would scarce
have been possible. Now the synod saith of this determination, "It
seemed good unto the Holy Ghost, and unto us," Acts xv. And another
synod, walking by the like light and rule of the Scripture as they did,
may say of themselves as the apostles said.




_The Description of Church Government._

The nature of that church government which is of divine right according
to Scripture, comes next to be considered; (having so fully seen what
the nature of a divine right is, and how many several ways matters in
religion may be said to be of divine right.) For the fuller and clearer
unfolding whereof, let us first see how church government may be
described; and then how that description may be explained and justified
by the word of God, in the branches of it.

Church government may be thus described:

Church government is a power[13] or authority spiritual,[14] revealed in
the holy Scriptures,[15] derived from Jesus Christ[16] our Mediator,[17]
only to his own officers, and by them exercised in dispensing of the
word,[18] seals,[19] censures,[20] and all other ordinances of
Christ,[21] for the edifying of the Church of Christ.[22]

This description of church government may be thus explained and proved.
Three things are principally considerable herein, viz: 1. The thing
defined, or described, viz. church government. 2. The general nature of
this government which it hath in common with all other governments, viz.
power or authority.

3. The special difference whereby it is distinguished from all other
governments whatsoever. Herein six things are observable. 1. The special
rule, wherein it is revealed, and whereby it is to be measured, viz. the
holy Scriptures. 2. The proper author, or fountain, whence this power is
derived, viz. from Jesus Christ our Mediator, peculiarly. 3. The special
kind of this power or authority, viz. it is a spiritual power, it is a
derived power. 4. The several parts or acts wherein this power sets
forth itself, viz. in dispensing the word, seals, censures, and all
other ordinances of Christ. 5. The special end or scope of this power,
viz. the edifying of the Church of Christ. 6. The proper and distinct
subject or receptacle wherein Christ hath placed and intrusted all this
power, viz. only his own officers. All these things are comprehended in
this description, and unto these several heads the whole nature of
church government may be reduced. So that, these being explained and
confirmed by the Scriptures, it will easily and fully be discovered,
what that church government is which is of divine right, and by the will
and appointment of Jesus Christ, our Mediator.


_Of the Subject Described, viz. Church Government, the terms being
briefly opened._

Touching the thing defined or described, it is church government. Here
two terms are to be a little explained: 1. What is meant by church? 2.
What is meant by government?

1. Church is originally derived from a Greek word,[23] which signifies
to call forth. Hence church properly signifies a company or multitude,
called forth; and so in this notation of the word, three things are
implied: 1. The term from which they are called. 2. The term to which
they are called. 3. The medium or mean by which they are brought from
one term to another, viz. by calling. And these things thus generally
laid down, do agree to every company that may properly be called a
church. Now, this word translated church, never signifies one particular
person, but many congregated, gathered, or called together; and it hath
several acceptations or uses in the New Testament: 1. It is used in a
common and civil sense, for any civil meeting, or concourse of people
together: thus that tumultuous and riotous assembly is called a church,
Acts xix. 32, 39, 40. 2. It is used in a special religious sense, for a
sacred meeting or assembly of God's people together: and thus it
signifies the Church of God, either, 1. Invisible, comprehending only
the elect of God, as Heb. xii. 23, "and Church of the first-born," Eph.
v. 23, &c., "Even as Christ is the head of the Church." 2. Or, visible,
comprehending the company of those that are called to the visible
profession of the faith in Christ, and obedience unto Christ, according
to the gospel, as Acts ii. 47, and v. 11, and viii. 3, and xii. 1, 5; 1
Cor. xii. 23, and often elsewhere. Now in this description, church is
not understood of a civil assembly; for such assemblies are governed by
civil power. Nor of the invisible Church of Christ; for, as the Church
is invisible, (to speak properly,) it is invisibly governed by Christ
and his Spirit, Rom. viii. 14; Gal. ii. 20. But of the visible Church of
Christ, for which Christ hath provided a visible polity, a visible
government, by visible officers and ordinances, for the good both of the
visible and invisible members thereof, which is that church government
here spoken of.

2. Government is the translation of a Greek word, which properly
signifies the government of a ship with chart, &c., by the pilot or
mariner, and thence metaphorically is used to signify any government,
political or ecclesiastical. But the word is only once used in all the
New Testament, viz. 1 Cor. xii. 28: _Governments_, h.e. ruling elders in
the church; the abstract being put for the concrete, governments for
governors. But whatever be the terms or names whereby government is
expressed, government generally considered seems still to signify a
superiority of office, power, and authority, which one hath and
exerciseth over another. This is the notion of government in general. So
that church government, in general, notes that pre-eminence or
superiority of office, power, and authority, which some have and
exercise over others in spiritual matters, in church affairs. And here
we are further to consider, that church government is either, 1.
Magisterial, lordly, and supreme; and so it is primitively and
absolutely in God, Matt. xxviii. 18. Dispensatorily and mediatorily in
Jesus Christ our Mediator only, whom God hath made both Lord and Christ,
Acts ii. 36; Matt, xxiii. 8, 10; 1 Cor. viii. 6, and to whom God alone
hath dispensed all authority and power, Matt, xxviii. 18, 19; John v.
22. Now church government, as settled on Christ only, is monarchical. 2.
Ministerial, stewardly, and subordinate; and this power Jesus Christ our
Mediator hath committed to his church guides and officers in his Church,
2 Cor. x. 8, and xiii. 10; and church government, as intrusted in the
hands of church guides, is representative. This ministerial church
government, committed by Christ to his officers, may be considered
either, 1. As it was dispensed under the Old Testament, in a Mosaical,
Levitical polity; in which sense we here speak not of church government;
(that polity being dissolved and antiquated.) 2. Or, as it is to be
dispensed now under the New Testament, in an evangelical Christian
polity, by Christ's New Testament officers; and this is that church
government which is here described, viz. not the supreme magisterial
government of Christ, but the subordinate ministerial government of
Christ's officers; and this not as it was under the Old Testament, but
as it ought to be now under the New Testament.


_Of the general Nature of Church Government, viz. Power or Authority._

Touching the general nature of this government, which it participates in
common with all other governments, it is power or authority. Here divers
particulars are to be cleared and proved, viz:

1. What is meant by power or authority? The word chiefly used in the New
Testament for power or authority is used not only to denote Christ's
supreme power, as Luke iv. 36; Mark i. 17, with Luke vi. 19; but also
his officers' derived power, as with 2 Cor. x. 8, and xiii. 10. It is
used to signify divers things: as, 1. Dignity, privilege, prerogative.
"To them he gave prerogative to be the sons of God," John i. 12. 2.
Liberty, leave, license; as, 1 Cor. viii. 9, "But so that your liberty
become not an offence to the weak;" and 1 Cor. ix. 4, 5, "Have not we
liberty to eat and drink? Have not we liberty to lead about a sister, a
wife?" 3. But most usually right and authority; as, Matt. xxi. 23, 24,
27, and xxviii. 18; so 2 Cor. x. 8, and xiii. 10: in this last sense
especially it is here to be taken in this description of church

Power or authority in general is by some[24] thus described: that
whereby one may claim or challenge any thing to one's self, without the
injury of any other. Power is exercised either about things, or actions,
or persons. 1. About things, as when a man disposes of his own goods,
which he may do without wrong to any. 2. About actions, as when a man
acts that which offends no law. 3. About persons, as when a man commands
his children or servants that are under his own power.--Proportionably,
the power of the Church in government is exercised, 1. About things, as
when it is to be determined by the word, what the Church may call her
own of right; as, that all the officers are hers, Eph; iv. 7, 8, 10, 11;
1 Cor. xii. 28: that all the promises are hers, 2 Pet. i. 4; 1 Tim. iv.
8: that Jesus Christ, and with Christ all things, are hers, 1 Cor. iii.
21, 22. The keys of the kingdom of heaven are hers, Matt. xvi. 19, and
xviii. 18, &c.; John xx. 21, 23, &c.: these things the Church may
challenge without wrong to any. 2. About actions. As when it is to be
determined by the word, what the Church of divine right may do, or not
do: as, the Church may not _bear with them that are evil_, Rev. ii. 2;
_nor tolerate women to teach_, or false doctrine to be broached, Rev.
ii. 20, &c. The Church may _warn the unruly_, 1 Thess. v. 14:
excommunicate the obstinate and incorrigible, Matt, xviii. 17, 18; 1
Cor. v. 4, 5, 13: receive again penitent persons to the communion of the
faithful, 2 Cor. ii. 7, 8: make binding decrees in synods, even to the
restraining of the outward exercise of due Christian liberty for a time,
for prevention of scandal, Acts xv. 3. About persons. The Church also
hath a power to be exercised, for calling them to their duty, and
keeping them in their duty according to the word of God: as, to _rebuke
them before all_, that sin before all, 1 Tim. v. 20: to prove deacons,
Acts vi. 2, 3, &c.; 1 Tim. iii. 10: _to ordain elders_, Tit. i. 5; Acts
xiv. 23: to use the _keys of the kingdom of heaven_, in the dispensing
of all ordinances, Matt, xviii. 18-20, and John xx. 21, 23, with Matt,
xxviii. 18-20: and, in a word, (as the cause shall require,) to judge of
all them that are within the Church, 1 Cor. v. 12.

This is the power and authority wherein the nature of church government
generally doth consist.

2. That all governments in Scripture are styled by the common names of
power or authority: e.g. the absolute government of God over all things,
is power, Acts i. 7: the supreme government of Jesus Christ, is power,
Matt, xxviii. 18; Rev. xii. 10: the political government of the
magistrate in commonwealths, is power, as John xix. 10; Rom. xiii. 1-3;
Luke xxiii. 7: the military government of soldiers under superior
commanders, is power, &c., Matt. viii. 9: the family government that the
master of a family hath over his household, is power, 1 Tim. iii. 5, "If
any man know not how to rule his own house." Yea, the very tyrannical
rule that sin and Satan exercise over carnal men, is styled power, Acts
xxvi. 18; Col. i. 13. Thus, generally, all sorts of government are
commonly called power or authority.

3. That thus the Scripture also styles church government, viz. power or
authority, as 2 Cor. x. 8, "Of our authority" (or power) "which the Lord
hath given us for your edification." Paul speaks it of this power of
church government. And again, speaking of the same subject, he saith,
"Lest being present, I should use sharpness, according to the power
which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction." 2
Cor. xiii. 10.

For further clearing hereof, consider the several sorts or kinds of
ecclesiastical power, according to this type or scheme of ecclesiastical
power and authority here subjoined.

Ecclesiastical power is either supreme and magisterial; or subordinate
and ministerial.

I. Supreme magisterial power, consisting in a lordly dominion and
sovereignty over the Church; and may come under a double consideration,

1. As it is justly attributed to God alone. Thus the absolute
sovereignty and supreme power (to speak properly) is only his over the
Church, and all creatures in the whole universe: now this supreme divine
power is either essential or mediatorial.

1. Essential, viz. that power which belongs to the essence of God, and
to every person of the Trinity in common, as God. "His kingdom ruleth
over all," Psal. ciii. 19. "God ruleth in Jacob to the ends of the
earth," Psal. lix. 13. "The kingdom is the Lord's, and he is the
Governor among the nations," Psal. xxii. 28.

2. Mediatorial, viz. that magisterial, lordly, and sovereign power or
dominion, which God hath dispensed, delegated, or committed to Christ as
Mediator, being both head of the Church, and over all things to the
Church. This power is peculiar only to Jesus Christ our Mediator. "All
power is given to me both in heaven and in earth," Matt. xxviii. 18.
"The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand,"
John iii. 35. "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all
judgment to the Son," John v. 22. "One is your Master, even Christ,"
Matt. xxiii. 8, 10. "God hath put all things under his feet, and gave
him to be head over all things to the Church," Eph. i. 20-23.--This
power of Christ is the only proper fountain whence all ecclesiastical
power flows to the Church.

II. As it is unjustly arrogated and usurped by man; whether, 1. By the
pope to himself; who arrogates to himself to be Christ's vicar, the
supreme visible head on earth of the visible catholic Church of Christ;
who exalts himself above all that is called God on earth, over
magistrates, princes, kings, yea, over the souls and consciences of
men, and the holy Scriptures of God themselves, &c., 2 Thess. ii. 4;
Rev. xviii. 10-13.

2. By earthly princes to themselves: as, King Henry VIII., who, casting
off the papal power and primacy, was vested with it himself within his
own dominions, over the Church, accounting himself the fountain of all
ecclesiastical power, (it being by statute law annexed to the crown,)
and assuming to himself that papal title of supreme head of the Church,
&c., which is sharply taxed by orthodox divines of foreign churches.
Thus, that most learned Rivet, taxing Bishop Gardiner for extolling the
king's primacy, saith, "For, he that did as yet nourish the doctrine of
the papacy, as after it appeared, did erect a new papacy in the person
of the king."--Andrew Rivet, _Expli. Decalog. Edit._ ii. page 203.
Judicious Calvin saith thus: "And to this day how many are there in the
papacy that heap upon kings whatsoever right and power they can
possibly, so that there may not be any dispute of religion; but should
this power be in one king, to decree according to his own pleasure
whatsoever he pleaseth, and that should remain fixed without
controversy? They that at first so much extolled Henry, king of England,
(certainly they were inconsiderate men,) gave unto him supreme power of
all things, and this grievously wounded me always; for they were
blasphemers, when they called him the supreme head of the Church under
Christ: certainly this was too much. But let this remain buried, because
they sinned by an inconsiderate zeal. But when that impostor, (he means
Bishop Gardiner, as Rivet notes,) which after was chancellor of this
Proserpina, which there at this day overcometh all the devils, he when
he was at Ratisbon did not contend with reasons, (I speak of this last
chancellor, who was Bishop of Winchester,) but as I now began to say, he
much regarded not scripture testimonies; but said, it was at the
pleasure of the king to abrogate the statutes, and institute new rites.
Touching fasting, there the king can enjoin and command the people, that
this or that day the people may eat flesh: yea, that it is lawful for
the king to forbid priests to marry; yea, that it is lawful for the king
to forbid to the people the use of the cup in the Lord's supper; that it
is lawful for the king to decree this or that in his kingdom. Why?
Because the king hath the supreme power. It is certain, if kings do
their duty, they are both patrons of religion, and nurse-fathers of the
Church, as Isaiah calls them, Isa. xlix. 23. This, therefore, is
principally required of kings, that they use the sword wherewith they
are furnished, for the maintaining of God's worship. But in the mean
time there are inconsiderate men, that make them too spiritual; and this
fault reigns up and down Germany; yea, spreads too much in
these countries. And now we perceive what fruits spring from this root,
viz: that princes, and all that are in place of government, think
themselves to be so spiritual, that there is no other ecclesiastical
government. And this sacrilege creeps among us, because they cannot
measure their office with certain and lawful bounds, but are of opinion
they cannot reign, unless they abolish all the authority of the Church,
and become the chief judges both in doctrine, and in the whole spiritual
government. At the beginning they pretend some zeal; but mere ambition
drives them, that so solicitously they snatch all things to themselves.
Therefore there ought to be a temper kept; for this disease hath always
reigned in princes, to desire to bend religion according to their own
pleasure and lust, and for their own profits in the mean time. For they
have respect to their profit, because for the most part they are not
acted by the Spirit of God, but their ambition carries them." Thus
Calvin in Amos vii. 13. Oh what exclamations would this holy man have
poured out, had he lived to see the passages of our days! _Quis talia
fando temperet a lachrymis!_[25]

II. Subordinate ministerial power, which is either,

1. Indirectly, improperly, and only objectively ecclesiastical or
spiritual, (so called, because it is exercised about spiritual or
ecclesiastical objects, though formally in its own nature it be properly
a mere civil or political power.) This is that power which is allowed to
the civil magistrate about religion; he is _an overseer of things
without the Church_, having an external care of religion as a
_nurse-father_, Isa. xlix. 23; as had Hezekiah, Josiah, Asa,
Jehoshaphat, &c.; so as, by the law, to restore religion decayed, reform
the Church corrupted, protect the Church reformed, &c.

2. Directly, properly, and formally ecclesiastical or spiritual, having
respect properly to matters within the Church. This power only belongs
to church officers, who are overseers of things within, 1 Cor. iv. 20,
21; 2 Cor. x. 8, and xiii. 10; and this is either, 1. More special and
peculiar to the office of some church governors only, as the power of
preaching the gospel, dispensing the sacraments, &c., which is only
committed to the ministers of the gospel, and which they, as ministers,
may execute, in virtue of their office. This is called by some the key
of doctrine, or key of knowledge; by others, the power of order, or of
special office. See Matt, xxviii. 18-20; Rom. x. 15; 1 Tim. v. 17. 2.
More general and common to the office of all church governors, as the
power of censures, &c., wherein ruling elders act with ministers,
admonishing the unruly, excommunicating the incorrigible, remitting and
receiving again of the penitent into church communion. Compare Matt,
xviii. 17, 18; 1 Cor. v. 2, 4, 5, 7, 11-13; 2 Cor. ii. 6-12, with Rom.
xii. 8; 1 Cor. xii. 28; and 1 Tim. v. 17. This is called the key of
discipline, or power of jurisdiction.


_Of the special difference of Church Government from other Governments.
And first of the Special Rule of Church Government, viz. the Holy

Touching the special difference, whereby church government is in this
description distinguished from all other governments whatsoever, it
consists of many branches, which will require more large explication and
confirmation; and shall be handled, not according to that order, as they
are first named in the description, but according to the order of
nature, as they most conduce to the clearing of one another, every
branch being distinctly laid down, as followeth:

The rule or standard of church government is only the holy Scriptures.
Thus in the description, church government is styled a power or
authority revealed in the holy Scriptures. For clearing hereof, take
this proposition, viz:

Jesus Christ our Mediator hath laid down in his word a perfect and
sufficient rule for the government of his visible Church under the New
Testament, which all the members of his Church ought to observe and
submit unto until the end of the world. For clearing this, weigh these

1. The government of the visible Church under the New Testament is as
needful as ever it was under the Old Testament. What necessity of
government could be pleaded then, which may not as strongly be pleaded
now? Is not the visible Church of Christ a mixed body of sound and
unsound members, of fruitful and barren branches, of tares and wheat, of
good and bad, of sincere believers and hypocrites, of sheep and goats,
&c., now as well as it was then? Is there not as great cause to separate
and distinguish by church power, between the precious and the vile, the
clean and the unclean, (who are apt to defile, infect, and leaven one
another,) now as well as then? Ought there not to be as great care over
the holy ordinances of God, to preserve and guard them from contempt and
pollution, by a hedge and fence of government, now as well as then? Is
it not as necessary that by government sin be suppressed, piety
promoted, and the Church edified, now as well as then? But under the Old
Testament the Church visible had a perfect rule of church government,
(as is granted on all sides:) and hath Jesus Christ left his Church now
under the New Testament in a worse condition?

2. The Lord Jesus Christ (upon whose shoulder God hath laid the
government, Isa. ix. 6, and unto whom _all power both in heaven and in
earth is given_ by the Father to that end, Matt. xxviii. 18) _is most
faithful in all his house_, the Church, fully to discharge all the trust
committed to him, and completely to supply his Church with all
necessaries both to her being, and well-being ecclesiastical. Moses was
faithful in the Old Testament; for, as God gave him a pattern of church
government in the ceremonial law, so he did all things according to the
pattern; and shall the Lord Jesus be less faithful as _a son over his
own house,_ than was Moses as a servant over another's house? "Consider
the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus, who was
faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all
his house--and Moses verily was faithful in all his house as a
servant--but Christ as a son over his own house, whose house are we,"
Heb. iii. 1, 2, 5, 6. Yea, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and
to-day, and forever," Heb. xiii. 8, giving a pattern of church
government to Moses, and the church officers of the Old Testament, (the
Church being then as a child in nonage and minority, Gal, iv. 1, &c.,)
can we imagine he hath not as carefully left a pattern of church
government to his apostles, and the church officers of the New
Testament, the Church being now as a man come to full age and maturity?

3. The holy Scriptures are now completely and unalterably perfect,
containing such exact rules for the churches of God in all states and
ages, both under the Old and New Testament, that not only the people of
God, of all sorts and degrees, but also the men of God, and officers of
the Church, of all sorts and ages, may thereby be made perfect,
thoroughly furnished unto all good works. "The law of the Lord is
perfect," Psal. xix. 7. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,
and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for
instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect,
thoroughly furnished to every good work," 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17. And in his
first epistle to Timothy, (which is the Church's directory for divine
worship, discipline, and government,) he saith, "These things write I
unto thee--that thou mightest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself
in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God," (this is
spoken in reference to matters of church government peculiarly,) 1 Tim.
iii. 14, 15. And the apostle, having respect to the former matters in
his epistle, saith to Timothy, and to all Timothies after him, "I give
thee charge in the sight of God--that thou keep this commandment without
spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,"
(therefore, this charge is intended for all ministers after Timothy to
the world's end,) 1 Tim. vi. 13, 14, compared with 1 Tim. v. 21, observe
_these things_. And the perfection of the whole scripture canon is
sealed up with that testimony in the close of the last book, "If any man
shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are
written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of
the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book
of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written
in this book," Rev. xxii. 18, 19. Now, if the Scriptures be thus
accurately perfect and complete, they must needs contain a sufficient
pattern, and rules of church government now under the New Testament;
which rules are scattered here and there in several books of the word,
(as flowers grow scattered in the field, as silver is mingled in the
mine, or as gold is mixed with the sand,) that so God may exercise his
Church, in sifting and searching them out.

4. All the substantials of church government under the New Testament are
laid down in the word in particular rules, whether they be touching
officers, ordinances, censures, assemblies, and the compass of their
power, as after will appear; and all the circumstantials are laid down
in the word, under general rules of order, decency, and edification, 1
Cor, xiv. 40, and ver. 5,12, 26.

Consequently, there is a perfect and sufficient rule for church
government laid down in the Scriptures, which is obligatory upon all.


_Of the Proper Author or Fountain, whence Church Government and the
authority thereof is derived by Divine Right, viz. Jesus Christ our

As the Scripture is the rule of church government, so Christ is the sole
root and fountain whence it originally flows; therefore, it is said in
the description, church government is a power or authority, derived from
Jesus Christ our Mediator. Take it in this proposition, viz:

Jesus Christ our Mediator hath all authority and power in heaven and in
earth, for the government of his Church, committed unto him from God the
Father. This is clearly evident,

1. By plain testimonies of Scripture, declaring that the government of
the Church is laid upon his shoulder, to which end the Father hath
invested him with all authority and power. "The government shall be upon
his shoulder," &c., Isa. ix. 6,7. "All power is given me in heaven and in
earth: go, disciple ye all nations," &c., Matt, xxviii. 18, 19. "He shall
be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God
shall give unto him the throne of his father David; and he shall reign
over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no
end," Luke i. 32, 33. "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all
judgment to the Son; and hath given him authority to execute judgment
also, because he is the Son of man," John v. 22, 27. "The Father loveth
the Son, and hath given all things into his hand," John iii. 35. "It is
he that hath the key of David, that openeth and no man shutteth, and
shutteth and no man openeth," Rev. iii. 7. "God raised him from the
dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 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 the
head over all things to the Church, which is his body," Eph. i. 20-23,

2. By eminent princely titles, attributed unto Jesus Christ our
Mediator, having such authority, power, rule, and government legibly
engraven upon their foreheads, in reference to his Church.

"A Governor which shall feed" (or rule) "my people Israel," Matt. ii. 6.
"That great Shepherd of the sheep," Heb. xiii. 20. "That Shepherd and
Bishop of our souls," 1 Pet. ii. ult. "One is your master, Christ,"
Matt, xxiii. 8, 10. "Christ as a son over his own house," Heb. iii. 6.
"The Head of the body the Church," Col. i. 18; Eph. v. 23. "Head over
all things to the Church," Eph. i. 22. "To us but one Lord Jesus
Christ," 1 Cor. viii. 6. "Made of God both Lord and Christ," Acts ii.
36. "Lord of lords," Rev. xix. 16. "He is Lord of all," Acts x. 36.
"God's King set on his holy hill of Zion," Psal. ii. 6. "David their
king," Jer. xxx. 9; Ezek. xxxiv. 23, and xxxvii. 24; Hos. iii. 5. "King
of kings," Rev. xix. 16.

3. By those primitive, fundamental, imperial acts of power, and supreme
authority in the government of the Church, which are peculiarly ascribed
to Jesus Christ our Mediator, as appropriate to him alone, above all
creatures, e.g.

1. The giving of laws to his Church. "The law of Christ," Gal. vi. 2.
"Gave commandments to the apostles," Acts i. 2. "There is one Lawgiver,
who is able to save and to destroy," James iv. 12. "The Lord is our
judge, the Lord is our lawgiver," (or statute-maker,) "the Lord is our
king," Isa. xxxiii. 22.

2. The constituting of ordinances, whereby his Church shall be edified:
as _preaching the word_, Matt. x. 7; 1 Cor. i. 17; Matt, xxviii. 18-20;
Mark xvi. 15. _Administering of the sacraments. Baptism_, John i. 33,
with Matt. iii. 13, &c., and xxviii. 18, 19. _The Lord's supper_, 1 Cor.
xi. 20, 23, &c.; Matt. xxvi. 26, &c.; Mark xiv. 22, &c.; Luke xxii. 19,
20. _Dispensing of censures_, Matt. xvi. 10, with xviii. 15-18, &c.

3. The ordaining and appointing of his own church officers, by whom his
ordinances shall be dispensed and managed in his Church. "He gave gifts
to men; and he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some,
evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers," Eph. iv. 7, 8, 11; compare
1 Cor. xii. 28; 1 Thess. v. 12; Acts xx. 28.

4. The dispensing of Christ's ordinances, not in the name of
magistrates, ministers, churches, councils, &c., but in Christ's own
name. The apostles did "speak and teach in the name of Jesus," Acts iv.
17, 18. "Whatsoever ye ask in my name," John xiv. 13, 14, and xvi. 23.
"Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son," Matt,
xxviii. 18, 19. "They were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus," Acts
xix. 5. "In the name--with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to
deliver such a one to Satan," 1 Cor. v. 4. Yea, assemblies of the Church
are to be in Christ's name: "Where two or three are gathered together in
my name," Matt, xviii. 20.


_Of the Special Kind, or Peculiar Nature of this Power and Authority._

Having viewed what is the rule of this authority, viz. the holy
Scriptures, and what is the fountain of this authority, viz. Jesus
Christ our Mediator; now consider the special kind or peculiar nature of
this authority, which the description lays down in two several
expressions, viz: 1. It is a spiritual power or authority. 2. It is a
derived power, &c.

1. The power or authority of church government is a spiritual power.
Spiritual, not so perfectly and completely as Christ's supreme
government is spiritual, who alone hath absolute and immediate power and
authority over the very spirits and consciences of men; ruling them by
the invisible influence of his Spirit and grace as he pleaseth, John
iii. 8; Rom. viii. 14; Gal. ii. 20: but so purely, properly, and merely
spiritual is this power, that it really, essentially, and specifically
differs, and is contradistinct from that power which is properly civil,
worldly, and political, in the hand of the political magistrate. Now,
that this power of church government is in this sense properly, purely,
merely spiritual: and that by divine right may be evidenced many ways
according to Scripture; forasmuch as the rule, fountain, matter, form,
subject, object, end, and the all of this power, is only spiritual.

1. Spiritual in the rule, revealing and regulating it, viz. not any
principles of state policy, parliament rolls, any human statutes, laws,
ordinances, edicts, decrees, traditions, or precepts of men whatsoever,
according to which cities, provinces, kingdoms, empires, may be happily
governed: but the holy Scriptures, that perfect divine canon, wherein
the Lord Christ hath revealed sufficiently how his own house, his
Church, shall be ruled, 1 Tim. iii. 14, 15; and all his ordinances,
word, sacraments, censures, &c., shall therein be dispensed, 2 Tim. iii.
16, 17. (See chap. IV.) Now this Scripture is divinely breathed, or
inspired of God--holy men writing not according to the fallible will of
man, but the infallible acting of the Holy Ghost, 2 Tim. iii. 16, with 2
Pet. i. 20, 21.

2. Spiritual in the fountain or author of this power, whence it
originally flows; it being derived, not from any magistrate, prince, or
potentate in the world, not from any man on earth, or the will of man;
but only from Jesus Christ our Mediator, himself being the sole or first
receptacle of all power from the Father, Matt. xxviii. 18; John v. 22:
and consequently, the very fountain of all power and authority to his
Church, Matt. xxviii. 18-20, with John xx. 21, 23; Matt. xvi. 19, and
xviii. 18-20; 2 Cor. x. 8. See this formerly cleared, chap. III. and V.

3. Spiritual in the matter of it, and the several parts of this power:
therefore called the _keys of the kingdom of heaven_, not the keys of
the kingdoms of earth, Matt. xvi. 19, (as Christ professed his _kingdom
was not of this world_, John xviii. 36; and when one requested of
Christ, that by his authority he would speak to his brother to divide
the inheritance with him, Christ disclaimed utterly all such worldly,
earthly power, saying, "Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?"
Luke xii. 13, 14.) Consider these heavenly spiritual keys in the kinds
of them, whether of doctrine or discipline; or in the acts of them,
whether of binding or loosing, in all which they are spiritual: e.g. the
doctrine which is preached is not human but divine, revealed in the
Scriptures by the Spirit of God, and handling most sublime spiritual
mysteries of religion, 2 Pet. i.; 2 Tim. iii. 16,17. The seals
administered are not worldly seals, confirming and ratifying any carnal
privileges, liberties, interests, authority, &c., but spiritual,
_sealing the righteousness of faith_, Rom. iv. 11; the death and blood
of Jesus Christ, with all the spiritual virtue and efficacy thereof unto
his members, Rom. v. 6; Gal. iii.; 1 Cor. x. 16, 17, and xi. 23, 24, &c.
The censures dispensed are not pecuniary, corporal, or capital, by
fines, confiscations, imprisonments, whippings, stocking, stigmatizing,
or taking away of limb or life, (all such things this government meddles
not withal, but leaves them to such as bear the civil sword,) but
spiritual, that only concern the soul and conscience; as _admonishing_
of the unruly and disorderly, Matt, xviii. 18, 19; _casting out the
incorrigible_ and obstinate from the spiritual fellowship of the saints,
Matt. xviii. 18, 19; 2 Cor. v. ult.: _receiving again into spiritual
communion_ of the faithful, such as are penitent, 2 Cor. ii. 6. Thus the
binding and loosing, which are counted the chief acts of the keys, are
spiritually by our Saviour interpreted to be the _remitting and
retaining of sins_; compare Matt, xviii. 18, 19, with John xx. 21, 23.

4. Spiritual in the form and manner, as well as in the matter. For this
power is to be exercised, not in a natural manner, or in any carnal
name, of earthly magistrate, court, parliament, prince, or potentate
whatsoever, as all secular civil power is; no, nor in the name of
saints, ministers, or the churches: but in a spiritual manner, in the
name of the Lord Jesus, from whom alone all his officers receive their
commissions. The word is to be _preached in his name_, Acts xvii. 18:
seals dispensed in his name, Matt. xxviii. 19; Acts xix. 5: censures
inflicted in his name, 1 Cor. v. 4, &c. (See chap. V.)

5. Spiritual in the subject intrusted with this power; which is not any
civil, political, or secular magistrate, (as after will more fully
appear, in chap. IX.) but spiritual officers, which Christ himself hath
instituted and bestowed upon his Church, _apostles_, &c., _pastors,
teachers, elders_, Eph. iv. 7, 8, 10, 11. To these only he hath given
the _keys of the kingdom of heaven_, Matt. xvi. 19, and xviii. 18,19,
and xxviii. 18, 19; John xx. 21-23; 2 Cor. x. 8, _authority which the
Lord hath given us_. These he hath made _governments in his Church_, 1
Cor. xii. 28. To these he will have _obedience and subjection_
performed, Heb. xiii. 17, and _double honor_ allowed, 1 Tim. v. 17.

6. Spiritual in respect of the object about which this power is to be
put forth and exercised, viz. not about things, actions, or persons
civil, as such; but spiritual and ecclesiastical, as such. Thus
injurious actions, not as trespasses against any statute or law
political; but as scandalous to our brethren, or the Church of God,
Matt, xviii. 18, 19; are considered and punished by this power. Thus the
incestuous person was cast out, because a wicked person in himself, and
likely to leaven others by his bad example, 1 Cor. v. 6. Thus the
persons whom the Church may judge are not the men of the world without
the Church, but those that are in some sense spiritual, and within the
Church, 1 Cor. v. 12.

7. Spiritual also is this power in the scope and end of it. This the
Scripture frequently inculcates: e.g. a brother is to be admonished
privately, publicly, &c., not for the gaining of our private interests,
advantages, &c., but for _the gaining of our brother_, that his soul and
conscience may be gained to God and to his duty, and he be reformed,
Matt, xviii. 15. The incestuous person is to be "delivered to Satan, for
the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of
our Lord Jesus," 1 Cor. v. 5; yea, the whole authority given to church
guides from the Lord was given to this end, _for the edification, not
the destruction_ of the Church, 2 Cor. x. 8, and xiii. 10; all which,
and such like, are spiritual ends. Thus the power of church government
here described is wholly and entirely a spiritual power, whether we
respect the rule, root, matter, form, subject, object, or end thereof.
So that in this respect it is really and specifically distinct from all
civil power, and in no respect encroacheth upon, or can be prejudicial
unto the magistrate's authority, which is properly and only political.

2. The power or authority of church government is a derived power. For
clearing this, observe, there is a magisterial primitive supreme power,
which is peculiar to Jesus Christ our Mediator, (as hath been proved,
chap. III. and V:) and there is a ministerial, derivative, subordinate
power, which the Scripture declares to be in church guides, Matt. xvi.
19, and xviii. 18; John xx. 21, 23; Matt, xxviii. 19, 20; 2 Cor. x. 8,
and xiii. 10, and often elsewhere this is abundantly testified. But
whence is this power originally derived to them? Here we are carefully
to consider and distinguish three things, touching this power or
authority from one another, viz: 1st. The donation of the authority
itself, and of the offices whereunto this power doth properly belong.
2d. The designation of particular persons to such offices as are vested
with such power. 3d. The public protection, countenancing, authorizing,
defending, and maintaining of such officers in the public exercise of
such power within such and such realms or dominions. This being
premised, we may clearly thus resolve, according to scripture warrant,
viz. the designation or setting apart of particular individual persons
to those offices in the Church that have power and authority engraven
upon them, is from the church nominating, electing, and ordaining of
such persons thereunto, see Acts iii. 1-3; 1 Tim. iv. 14, and v. 22;
Tit. i. 5; Acts iv. 22. The public protection, defence, maintenance,
&c., of such officers in the public exercise of the power and authority
of their office in such or such dominions, is from the civil magistrate,
as the _nursing-father_ of the Church, Isa. xlix. 23; for it is by his
authority and sanction that such public places shall be set apart for
the public ministry, that such maintenance and reward shall be legally
performed for such a ministry, that all such persons of such and such
congregations shall be (in case they neglect their duty to such a
ministry) punished with such political penalties, &c. But the donation
of the office and spiritual authority annexed thereunto, is only derived
from Jesus Christ our Mediator. He alone gives all church officers, and
therefore none may devise or superadd any new officers, Eph. iv. 7, 8,
10, 11; 1 Cor. xii. 28. And he alone commits all authority and power
spiritual to those officers, for dispensing of word, sacraments,
censures, and all ordinances, Matt. xvi. 19, and xxviii. 18-20; John xx.
21-23; 2 Cor. x. 8, and xiii. 10: and therefore it is not safe for any
creature to intrude upon this prerogative royal of Christ to give any
power to any officer of the Church. None can give what he has not.


_Of the several Parts or Acts of this power of Church Government,
wherein it puts forth itself in the Church._

Thus far of the special kind or peculiar nature of this authority; now
to the several parts or acts of this power which the description
comprehends in these expressions, (in dispensing the word, seals,
censures, and all other ordinances of Christ.) The evangelical
ordinances which Christ has set up in his church are many; and all of
them by divine right that Christ sets up. Take both the enumeration of
ordinances and the divine right thereof severally, as followeth.

Jesus Christ our Mediator hath instituted and appointed these ensuing
administrations to be standing and perpetual ordinances in his church:
which ordinances for method sake may be reduced into two heads,
according to the distribution of the keys formerly laid down, (chap.
III.,) viz., ordinances appertaining, 1st, To the key of order or of
doctrine; 2d, To the key of jurisdiction or of discipline.

1. Ordinances appertaining to the key of order or doctrine, viz:

1. Public prayer and thanksgiving are divine ordinances: for 1st, Paul
writing his first epistle to Timothy, "that he might know how to behave
himself in the house of God," 1 Tim. iii. 14, 15, among other directions
in that epistle, gives this for one, "I exhort therefore that first of
all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made
for all men," 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2, "for this is good and acceptable in the
sight of God our Saviour," verse 3. 2. The apostle, regulating public
prayers in the congregation, directing that they should be performed
with the understanding, takes it for granted that public prayer was an
ordinance of Christ. "If I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth,
but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with
the spirit, and will pray with the understanding also. Else when thou
shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the
unlearned, say amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not
what thou sayest? for thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is
not edified." 1 Cor. xiv. 14-17. 3. Further, the apostles did account
public prayer to be of more concern than serving of tables, and
providing for the necessities of the poor, yea, to be a principal part
of their ministerial office, and therefore resolve to addict and "give
themselves to the ministry of the word and to prayer," Acts vi. 4; and
this was the church's practice in the purest times, Acts i. 13, 14,
whose pious action is for our imitation. 4. And Jesus Christ hath made
gracious promises to public prayer, viz., of his presence with those who
assemble in his name; and of audience of their prayers, Matt, xviii. 19,
20. Would Christ so crown public prayer were it not his own ordinance?

2. Singing of psalms is a divine ordinance, being,

1. Prescribed; "be filled with the spirit: speaking to yourselves in
psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs," Eph. v. 18, 19. "Let the word
of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing
one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs," Col. iii. 16.

2. Regulated; the right performance thereof being laid down, "I will
sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also," 1
Cor. xiv. 15, 16. "Singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord," Col.
iii. 16. "Singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord," Eph. v.

3. The public ministry of the word of God in the congregation is a
divine ordinance. "We will give ourselves," said the apostles, "to the
ministry of the word and prayer," Acts vi. 4. The ministry of the word
is a sacred ordinance, whether read, preached, or catechetically

1. The public reading of the word is a divine ordinance, (though
exposition of what is read do not always immediately follow.) For, 1.
God commanded the reading of the word publicly, and never since repealed
that command, Deut. xxxi. 11-13; Jer. xxxvi. 6; Col. iii. 16. 2. Public
reading of the scriptures hath been the practice of God's church, both
before Christ, Exod. xxiv. 7; Neh. viii. 18, and ix. 3, and xiii. 1; and
after Christ, Acts xiii. 15, 27, and xv. 21; 2 Cor. iii. 14. 3. Public
reading of the scriptures is as necessary and profitable now as ever it
was. See Deut. xxxi. 11-13.

2. The public preaching of the word is an eminent ordinance of Christ.
This is evident many ways, viz:

1. Christ hath commanded that the word shall be preached. "Go ye into
all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature," Mark xvi. 15.
"Go ye, therefore, and disciple ye all nations; teaching them to observe
all things whatsoever I have commanded you," Matt, xxviii. 19, 20. "As
ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand," Matt. x. 7.
See also Mark iii. 14. "I charge thee," &c. "Preach the word," 2 Tim.
iv. 1, 2. "Necessity is laid upon me, yea, wo is unto me if I preach not
the gospel," 1 Cor. ix. 16, 17. "Christ sent me--to preach the gospel,"
1 Cor. i. 17; with which compare also Acts xx. 28, and 1 Pet. v. 1-4.

2. Christ hath appointed who shall preach the word. "How shall they
preach except they be sent?" Rom. x. 15. The qualifications of preaching
elders see in 1 Tim. iii. 2-8, and Tit. i. 5-9.

3. Christ hath appointed how the word shall be preached. "Be instant, in
season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering
and doctrine," 2 Tim. iv. 2. "That he may be able by sound doctrine
both to exhort and convince gainsayers," Tit. i. 9. "He that hath my
word, let him speak my word faithfully: what is the chaff to the wheat,
saith the Lord?" Jer. xxiii. 28.

4. Christ hath made many encouraging promises to the preaching of his
word, which he would not have done, were it not his own ordinance.
"Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you,
and lo I am with you every day to the end of the world," Matt, xxviii.
20. "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and
whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven," Matt.
xvi. 19, and xviii. 18. "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted
unto them: and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained," John xx.
23. Both these are partly meant of doctrinal binding and loosing,
remitting and retaining. "Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy
peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee,
for I have much people in this city," Acts xviii. 9, 10.

3. The catechetical propounding or expounding of the word, viz. a plain,
familiar laying down of the first principles of the oracles of God, is
an ordinance of Christ also. For, 1. This was the apostolical way of
teaching the churches at the first plantation thereof. "When for the
time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again
which be the first principles of the oracles of God, and are become such
as have need of milk and not of strong meat," Heb. v. 12. "Therefore,
leaving the word of the beginning of Christ, let us go on unto
perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead
works, and of faith towards God," &c., Heb. vi. 1,2. "And I, brethren,
could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto
babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat, for
hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able," 1
Cor. iii. 1, 2. 2. And this is the sense of pastor and people which the
Holy Ghost useth, setting forth the reciprocal relation and office
between them, with his own approbation. "Let him that is catechized in
the word, communicate to him that catechizeth him, in all good things,"
Gal. vi. 6.

4. The administration of the sacraments is of divine institution.

1. Of baptism. "He that sent me to baptize with water," John i. 33. "Go
ye therefore, disciple ye all nations, baptizing them into the name of
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," Matt, xxviii. 18-20.

2. Of the Lord's supper, which Christ ordained _the same night in which
he was betrayed_: which institution is at large described, 1 Cor. xi.
20, 23, &c.; Matt. xxvi. 26-31; Mark xiv. 22-27; Luke xxii. 19, 20.

2. Ordinances appertaining to the key of jurisdiction or of discipline,

1. The ordination of presbyters with imposition of the hands of the
presbytery, after praying and fasting, is a divine ordinance. "Neglect
not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy with the
laying on of the hands of the presbytery," 1 Tim. iv. 14. Titus was left
in Crete for this end, "To set in order things that were wanting, and
ordain presbyters" (or elders) "in every city, as Paul had appointed
him," Tit. i. 5. Timothy is charged, "Lay hands suddenly on no man,
neither be partaker of other men's sins; keep thyself pure," 1 Tim. v.
22. Paul and Barnabas came to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, and "when
they had ordained them presbyters in every church, and had prayed with
fasting, they commended them to the Lord," &c., Acts xiv. 21, 23.

2. Authoritative discerning, and judging of doctrine according to the
word of God, is a divine ordinance. As that council at Jerusalem,
authoritatively (viz. by ministerial authority) judged of both the false
doctrine and manners of false teachers, branding them for "troublers of
the Church, subverters of souls," &c. "Forasmuch as we have heard that
certain, coming forth from u, have troubled you with words, subverting
your souls, saying, ye ought to be circumcised, and keep the law, to
whom we gave no such commandment," Acts xv. 24; "it seemed good to the
Holy Ghost, and to us, to impose upon you no greater burden than these
necessary things," v. 28; and this was done upon debates from scripture
grounds, "and to this the words of the prophets agree," Acts xv. 15:
and afterwards their results and determinations are called "decrees
ordained by the apostles and elders," Acts xvi. 4.

3. Admonition and public rebuke of sinners is a divine ordinance of
Christ. "If thy brother trespass against thee, go and tell him his
fault between thee and him alone: if he will not hear thee, then take
with thee one or two more--and if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it
unto the Church," Matt, xviii. 15-17. "Whose soever sins ye bind on
earth shall be bound in heaven," John xx. 23. One way and degree of
binding is by authoritative, convincing reproof. "Admonish the unruly,"
1 Thess. v. 14. "An heretic, after the first and second admonition,
reject," Tit. iii. 1. "Them that sin, convincingly reprove before all,
that the rest also may fear," 1 Tim. v. 20. "Rebuke them sharply," (or
convince them cuttingly,) Tit. iii. 13. "Sufficient to such an one is
that rebuke, which was from many," 2 Cor. ii. 6.

4. Rejecting, and purging out, or putting away from the communion of the
Church, wicked and incorrigible persons, is an ordinance of Christ. "And
if he will not hear them, tell the Church; but if he will not hear the
Church, let him be unto thee even as a heathen and a publican." "Verily,
I say unto you, what things soever ye shall bind on earth, they shall be
bound in heaven," Matt, xviii. 17, 18, compared with Matt. xvi. 19, and
John xx. 21, 23. "An heretic, after once or twice admonition, reject,"
Tit. iii. 10; i.e. excommunicate, till he repent--_Pisc. in loc._ By
the lawful judgment of the Church, to deliver the impenitent to
Satan.--_Beza in loc._ "Of whom is Hymeneus and Alexander, whom I have
delivered to Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme," 1 Tim. i. 20.
The apostle's scope in 1 Cor. v. is to press the church of Corinth to
excommunicate the incestuous person. "Ye are puffed up, and have not
rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed may be taken from the
midst of you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit,
have already as present judged him that thus wrought this thing. In the
name of our Lord Jesus Christ, you being gathered together, and my
spirit with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one
to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved
in the day of our Lord Jesus," 1 Cor. v. 2-5. "Know ye not that a little
leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven,"
ver. 7. "I wrote to you in an epistle, not to be mingled together with
fornicators," ver. 9, 11; and explaining what he meant by not being
_mingled together_, saith, "If any named a brother be a fornicator, or
covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or drunkard, or rapacious, with
such an one not to eat together," ver. 11. "Therefore take away from
among yourselves that wicked person," ver. 13.

5. Seasonable remitting, receiving, comforting, and authoritative
confirming again in the communion of the Church those that are penitent.
"What things soever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven,"
Matt. xvi. 19, and xviii. 18. "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are
remitted unto them," John xx. 23. This loosing and remitting is not only
doctrinal and declarative in the preaching of the word, but also
juridical and authoritative in the administration of censures. This is
called, for distinction's sake, absolution. After the church of Corinth
had excommunicated the incestuous person, and he thereupon had given
sufficient testimony of his repentance, the apostle directs them to
receive him into church communion again, saying, "Sufficient to such an
one is that rebuke inflicted of many; so that contrariwise you should
rather forgive and comfort him, lest such an one should be swallowed up
of abundant sorrow. Wherefore I beseech authoritatively to confirm love
unto him: for to this purpose also I have written unto you, that I may
know the proof of you, if ye be obedient in all things," 2 Cor. ii. 6-9.


_Of the End and Scope of this Government of the Church._

The end or scope intended by Christ in instituting, and to be aimed at
by Christ's officers in executing of church government in dispensing the
word, sacrament, censures, and all ordinances of Christ, is (as the
description expresseth) _the edifying of the Church of Christ_. This end
is very comprehensive. For the fuller evidencing whereof these two
things are to be proved:1st, That Jesus Christ our Mediator hath under
the New Testament one general visible Church on earth. 2d. That the
edification of this Church of Christ is that eminent scope and end why
Christ gave the power of church government and other ordinances unto the

I. For the first, that Jesus Christ our Mediator hath under the New
Testament a general visible Church on earth, made up of all particular
churches, may be cleared by considering well these particulars.

1st. That it is evident by the Scriptures that Jesus Christ hath on
earth many particular visible churches: (whether churches
congregational, presbyterial, provincial, or national, needs not here be
determined.) "Unto the churches of Galatia," Gal. i. 2. "The churches
of Judea," Gal. i. 22. "Through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the
churches," Acts xv. 41. "To the seven churches in Asia," Rev. i. 4, 20.
"The church of Ephesus," Rev. ii. 1. "The church in Smyrna," ver. 8.
"The church in Pergamus," ver. 12. "The church in Thyatira," ver. 18.
"The church in Sardis," Rev. iii. 1. "The church in Philadelphia," ver.
7. And "the church in Laodicea," ver. 14. "The church that is in their
house," Rom. xvi. 5; and Philem. 2. "Let your women keep silence in the
church," 1 Cor. xiv. 34. "All the churches of the Gentiles," Rom. xvi.
4. "So ordain I in all churches," 1 Cor. vii. 17. "As in all churches
of the saints," 1 Cor. xiv. 33. "The care of all the churches," 2 Cor.
xi. 28. The New Testament hath many such like expressions.

2d. That how many particular visible churches soever Christ hath on
earth, yet Scripture counts them all to be but one general visible
Church of Christ. This is manifest,

1. By divers Scriptures, using the word church in such a full latitude
and extensive completeness, as properly to signify, not any one single
congregation, or particular church, but one general visible Church: as,
"Upon this rock I will build my Church," Matt. xvi. 18. "Give none
offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Greeks, nor to the Church of
God," 1 Cor. x. 32. "God hath set some in the Church, first, apostles;
secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers," &c., 1 Cor. xii. 28. "I
persecuted the Church of God," 1 Cor. xv. 9; Gal. i. 13. "The Church of
the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth," 1 Tim. iii. 15.
"Might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God," Eph. iii. 10.
"In the midst of the Church will I sing praise unto thee," Heb. ii. 12.
In which, and such like places, we must needs understand, that one
general visible Church of Christ.

2. By such passages of scripture as evidently compare all visible
professors and members of Christ throughout the world to one organical
body, having eyes, ears, hands, feet, &c., viz., several organs,
instruments, officers, &c., in it, for the benefit of the whole body; as,
"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," Eph. iv.
11, 12. "There is one body," Eph. iv. 4. "As we have many members in one
body, and all members have not the same office; so we being many are one
body in Christ, and every one members one of another," &c., Rom. xii.
4-9. "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," (i.e.,
Christ considered mystically, not personally,) "for by one Spirit are we
all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we
be bond or free," &c., 1 Cor. xii. 12, to the end of the chapter, which
context plainly demonstrates all Christ's visible members in the world,
Jews or Gentiles, &c., to be members of one and the same organical body
of Christ, which organical body of Christ is the general visible Church
of Christ; for the invisible church is not organical.

II. That the edification of the Church of Christ is that eminent scope
and end, why Christ gave church government and all other ordinances of
the New Testament to his Church. This is frequently testified in
scripture. 1. The apostle, speaking of this power generally, saith, "Our
authority which the Lord hath given to us for edification, and not for
the destruction of you," 2 Cor. x. 8. The like passage he hath again,
saying, "according to the authority," or power, "which the Lord hath
given to me for edification, and not for destruction," 2 Cor. xiii. 10;
in both which places he speaks of the authority of church government in
a general comprehensive way, declaring the grand and general immediate
end thereof to be, affirmatively, edification of the church; negatively,
not the subversion or destruction thereof. 2. In like manner, when
particular acts of government, and particular ordinances
are mentioned, the edification of the Church, at least in her members,
is propounded as the great end of all: e.g. 1. Admonition is for
edification, that an erring _brother may be gained_, Matt. xviii. 15,
16, that wavering minds may be sound in the faith. "Rebuke them
cuttingly, that they may be sound in the faith," Tit. i. 13, that
beholders and bystanders may fear to fall into like sins. "Them that sin
rebuke before all, that others also may fear," 1 Tim. v. 20. 2.
Excommunication is for edification; particularly of the delinquent
member himself; thus the incestuous person was "delivered to Satan for
the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit might be saved in the day
of the Lord Jesus," 1 Cor. v. 4, 5. "Hymeneus and Alexander were
delivered to Satan, that they might learn not to blaspheme," 1 Tim. i.
20: more generally of the Church; thus the incestuous person was to be
put away from among them lest the whole lump of the church should be
leavened by him, 1 Cor. v. 3. Absolution also is for edification, lest
the penitent party "should be swallowed up of too much sorrow," 2 Cor.
ii. 7. 4. All the officers of his Church are for edification of the
Church, (Eph. iv. 7, 8, 11, 12, 16,) together with all the gifts and
endowments in these officers, whether of prayer, prophecy, tongues, &c.,
all must be managed to edification. This is the scope of the whole
chapter. 1 Cor. xii. 7, &c., and 1 Cor. xiv. 3-5, 9, 12, &c., 26; read
the whole chapter. That passage of Paul is remarkable, "I thank my God,
I speak with tongues more than you all; yet in the church I had rather
speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach
others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue," verses 18,
19. Thus church government, and all sorts of ordinances, with the
particular acts thereof, are to be levelled at this mark of edification.
Edification is an elegant metaphor from material buildings (perhaps of
the material and typical temple) to the spiritual; for explanation's
sake briefly thus take the accommodation: The _architects_, or builders,
are the _ministers_, 1 Cor. iii. 10. The _foundation_ and _corner-stone_
that bears up, binds together, and gives strength to the building, is
Jesus Christ, 1 Cor. iii. 11; 1 Pet. ii. 4, 6. The _stones_ or
_materials_ are the _faithful_ or _saints_, 2 Cor. i. 1. The _building_,
or house itself, is the _Church_, that spiritual house, and _temple of
the living God_, Eph. ii. 21, and iv. 12; 1 Cor. iii. 9, 16, 17. The
edification of this house is gradually to be perfected more and more
till the coming of Christ, by laying the foundation of Christianity, in
bringing men still unto Christ, and carrying on the superstruction in
perfecting them in Christ in all spiritual growth, till at last the
top-stone be laid on, the Church completed, and translated _to the house
not made with hands, eternal in the heavens_.


_Of the proper receptacle and distinct subject of all this power and
authority of Church Government, which Christ hath peculiarly intrusted
with the execution thereof according to the Scriptures. And_ 1.
_Negatively, That the political magistrate is not the proper subject of
this power._

Thus we have taken a brief survey of church government, both in the
rule, root, kind, branches, and end thereof, all which are comprised in
the former description, and being less controverted, have been more
briefly handled. Now, the last thing in the description which comes
under our consideration, is the proper receptacle of all this power from
Christ, or the peculiar subject intrusted by Christ with this power and
the execution thereof, viz. only Christ's own officers. For church
government is a spiritual power or authority, derived from Jesus Christ
our Mediator, only to his own officers, and by them exercised in
dispensing of the word, &c. Now about this subject of the power will be
the great knot of the controversy, forasmuch as there are many different
claims thereof made, and urged with vehement importunity: (to omit the
Romish claim for the pope, and the prelatical claim for the bishop,) the
politic Erastian pretends that the only proper subject of all church
government is the political or civil magistrate; the gross Brownists or
rigid Separatists, that it is the body of the people, or community of
the faithful in an equal even level; they that are more refined, (who
style themselves for distinction's sake[26] Independents,) that it is
the single congregation, or the company of the faithful with their
presbytery, or church officers; the Presbyterians hold that the proper
subject wherein Christ hath seated and intrusted all church power, and
the exercise thereof, is only his own church officers, (as is in the
description expressed.) Here, therefore, the way will be deeper, and the
travelling slower; the opposition is much, and therefore the
disquisition of this matter will unavoidably be the more.

For perspicuity herein, seeing it is said that this power is derived
from Christ only to his own officers; and by this word (only) all other
subjects are excluded; the subject of church power may be considered,
1. Negatively, what it is not. 2. Affirmatively, what it is.

Negatively, the proper subject unto whom Christ hath committed the power
of church government, and the exercise thereof, is not, 1. The political
magistrate, as the Erastians imagine. 2. Nor the body of the people,
either with their presbytery or without it, as the Separatists and
Independents pretend. Let these negatives first be evinced, and then the
affirmative will be more clearly evidenced.

Touching the first of these--that the political magistrate is not the
proper subject unto whom Jesus Christ our Mediator hath committed the
power of church government, and the exercise of that power; it will be
cleared by declaring these two things distinctly and severally, viz: 1.
What power about ecclesiasticals is granted to the civil magistrate. 2.
What power therein is denied unto him, and why.


Such power is granted by the reformed churches and orthodox writers to
the political magistrate, in reference to church affairs. Take it in
these particulars.

A defensive, protecting, patronizing power to the church, and all the
members thereof. "Kings shall be thy nursing-fathers," &c., Isa. xlix.
23. "The magistrate is the minister of God for good to well-doers, as
well as the avenger, executing wrath upon evil-doers; a terror not to
good works, but to the evil," Rom. xiii. 3, 4; he is called _an heir,
or, possessor of restraint, to put men to shame_, Judges xviii. 7. And
as the church ought to pray for kings and all in authority, so
consequently all in authority should endeavor to defend it, that the
church and people of God should lead a quiet and peaceable life, (under
the wing of their protection,) "in all godliness and honesty," 1 Tim.
ii. 2; and this is evident from the end and scope of these prayers here
prescribed, as interpreters unanimously agree. And hereupon are those
promises to the church, "The sons of strangers shall build up thy walls,
and their kings shall minister unto thee," Isa. lx. 10; "and thou shalt
suck the breast of kings," Isa. lx. 16. Now, this nursing, protecting
care of magistrates towards the church, puts forth itself in these or
like acts, viz: He,

1. Removes all external impediments of true religion, worship of God,
&c., by his civil power, whether persons or things, whether
persecutions, profaneness, heresy, idolatry, superstition, &c., that
truth and godliness may purely flourish: as did Jehoshaphat, Asa,
Hezekiah, Josiah. And hereupon it is that God so oft condemns the not
removing and demolishing of the high places and monuments of idolatry,
1 Kings xv. 14, with 2 Chron. xv. 17; 1 Kings xxii. 44; 2 Kings xii. 3:
and highly commends the contrary in Asa, 2 Chron. xv. 8, 16: in
Jehoshaphat, 2 Chron. xvii. 3, 4, 6-10: in Hezekiah, 2 Chron. xxxi. 1; 2
Kings xviii. 4: in Manasseh, 2 Chron. xxxiii. 15: in Josiah, 2 Kings
xxiii. 8, 13, 19, 20, 24: whereupon the Holy Ghost gives him that
superlative commendation above all kings before and after him, ver. 25.

2. Countenanceth, advanceth, and encourageth by his authority and
example the public exercise of all God's ordinances, and duties of
religion within his dominions, whether in matter of divine worship,
discipline, and government, maintaining for the Church the fulness of
spiritual liberties and privileges communicated to her from Christ: as
did Asa, 2 Chron. xv. 9-16: Jehoshaphat, 2 Chron. xx. 7-9: Hezekiah, 2
Chron. xxix., xxx., and xxxi. chapters throughout: Josiah, 2 Chron.
xxxiv. and xxxv. chapters. And to this end God prescribed in the law
that the king should still have a copy of the law of God by him, therein
to read continually, Deut. xvii. 18-20; because he was to be not only a
practiser, but also a protector thereof, a keeper of both tables.

3. Supplies the Church with all external necessaries, provisions, means,
and worldly helps in matters of religion: as convenient public places to
worship in, sufficient maintenance for ministers, (as the Scripture
requireth, 1 Tim. v. 17, 18; 1 Cor. ix. 6-15; Gal. vi. 6:) schools and
colleges, for promoting of literature, as nurseries to the prophets,
&c.; together with the peaceable and effectual enjoyment of all these
worldly necessaries, for comfortably carrying on of all public
ordinances of Christ. Thus David prepared materials, but Solomon built
the temple, 1 Chron. xxii. Hezekiah commanded the people that dwelt in
Jerusalem, to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they
might be encouraged in the law of the Lord; and Hezekiah himself and his
princes came and saw it performed, 2 Chron. xxxi. 4, &c., 8: Josiah
repaired the house of God, 2 Chron. xxxiv.

Nor need the magistrate think scorn, but rather count it his honor to be
an earthly protector of the Church, which is the _body of Christ, the
Lamb's wife_, for redeeming of which Christ died, and for gathering and
perfecting of which the very world is continued.

An ordering, regulating power is also allowed to the magistrate about
ecclesiastical matters in a political way, so that he warrantably,

1. Reforms the Church, when corrupted in divine worship, discipline, or
government: as did Moses, Exod. xxxii.; Joshua, Josh. xxiv.; Asa, 2
Chron. xv.; Jehoshaphat, 2 Chron. xvii.; Hezekiah, 2 Kings xviii.;
Josiah, 2 Kings xxiii.; 2 Chron. xxxiv.

2. Convenes or convocates synods and councils, made up of ecclesiastical
persons, to consult, advise, and conclude determinatively, according to
the word, how the church is to be reformed and refined from corruptions,
and how to be guided and governed when reformed, &c. For, 1. Pious
magistrates under the Old Testament called the Church together, convened
councils. David, about bringing back the ark, 1 Chron. xiii. 1, 2, and
another council when he was old, 1 Chron. xiii. 1; Solomon, 1 Kings
viii. 1; Hezekiah, 2 Chron. xxix. 4; and Josiah, 2 Kings xxiii. 1, 2. 2.
All ought to be subject to superior powers, who ought to procure the
public peace and prosperity of the Church, Rom. xiii. 1, 2, &c.; 1 Pet.
ii. 13, &c., 17; 1 Tim. ii. 2. Therefore superior powers may convocate
councils. 3. Christian magistrates called the four general councils:
Constantine the first Nicene council; Theodosius, senior, the first
council of Constantinople; Theodosius, junior, the first Ephesian
council; Marcian Emperor, the Chalcedon council; and, 4. Hereunto
antiquity subscribes, as Dr. Whitaker observes.

3. Supports the laws of God with his secular authority, as a keeper of
the tables, enjoining and commanding, under civil penalties, all under
his dominion, strictly and inviolably to observe the same: as "Josiah
made all that were present in Israel to serve the Lord their God," 2
Chron. xxxiv. 33. Nehemiah made the sabbath to be sanctified, and
strange wives to be put away, Neb. xii. 13, &c. Yea, Nebuchadnezzar, a
heathen king, decreed, that "Whosoever should speak amiss of the God of
Shadrach," &c., "should be cut in pieces, and their houses made a
dunghill," Dan. iii. 28, 29. And Darius decreed, "That in every dominion
of his kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel," &c., Dan.
vi. 26, 27.

And as he strengthens the laws and ordinances of God by his civil
authority, so he ratifies and establishes within his dominions the just
and necessary decrees of the Church in synods and councils (which are
agreeable to God's word) by his civil sanction.

4. Judges and determines definitively with a consequent political
judgment, or judgment of political discretion, concerning the things
judged and determined antecedently by the Church, in reference to his
own act. Whether he will approve such ecclesiasticals or not; and in
what manner he will so approve, or do otherwise by his public authority;
for he is not a brutish agent, (as papists would have him,) to do
whatsoever the Church enjoins him unto blind obedience, but is to act
prudently and knowingly in all his office; and therefore the judgment of
discerning (which belongs to every Christian, for the well-ordering of
his own act) cannot be denied to the Christian magistrate, in respect of
his office.

5. Takes care politically, that even matters and ordinances merely and
formally ecclesiastical, be duly managed by ecclesiastical persons
orderly called thereto. Thus Hezekiah commanded the priests and Levites
to do their duties, 2 Chron. xxix. 5, 24, and the people to do theirs, 2
Chron. xxx. 1; and for this he is commended, that therein he did cleave
unto the Lord, and observed his precepts which he had commanded Moses, 2
Kings xviii. 6. Thus when the king is commanded to observe and do all
the precepts of the law, the Lord (as orthodox divines do judge)
intended that he should keep them, not only as a private man, but as a
king, by using all care and endeavor that all his subjects with him
perform all duties to God and man, Deut. xvii. 18-20.

6. A compulsive, coactive, punitive, or corrective power, formally
political, is also granted to the political magistrate in matters of
religion, in reference to all sorts of persons and things under his
jurisdiction. He may politically compel the outward man of all persons,
church officers, or others under his dominions, unto external
performance of their respective duties, and offices in matters of
religion, punishing them, if either they neglect to do their duty at
all, or do it corruptly, not only against equity and sobriety, contrary
to the second table, but against truth and piety, contrary to the first
table of the decalogue. We have sufficient intimation of the
magistrate's punitive power in cases against the second table; as the
stubborn and rebellious, incorrigible son, that was a glutton and a
drunkard, sinning against the fifth commandment, was to be stoned to
death, Deut. xxi. 18-21. The murderer, sinning against the sixth
commandment, was to be punished with death, Gen. ix. 6; Numb. xxxv.
30-34; Deut. x. 11-13. The unclean person, sinning against the seventh
commandment, was to be punished with death, Lev. xx. 11, 12, 14, 17,
19-25; and before that, see Gen. xxxviii. 24. Yea, Job, who is thought
to live before Moses, and before this law was made, intimates that
adultery is a heinous crime, yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by
the judges, Job xxxi. 9,11. The thief, sinning against the eighth
commandment, was to be punished by restitution, Exod. xxii. 1, 15, &c.
The false witness, sinning against the ninth commandment, was to be
dealt withal as he would have had his brother dealt with, by the law of
retaliation, Deut. xix. 16, to the end of the chapter, &c. Yea, the
magistrate's punitive power is extended also to offences against the
first table; whether these offences be against the first commandment, by
false prophets teaching lies, errors, and heresies in the name of the
Lord, endeavoring to seduce people from the true God. "If there arise
among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, that prophet, or that
dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he hath spoken to turn
you away from the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of
Egypt," &c., Deut. xiii. 1-6. From which place Calvin notably asserts
the punitive power of magistrates against false prophets and impostors
that would draw God's people to a defection from the true God, showing
that this power also belongs to the Christian magistrate in like cases
now under the gospel.

Yea, in case of such seducement from God, though by nearest allies,
severe punishment was to be inflicted upon the seducer, Deut. xiii.
6-12. See also ver. 12, to the end of the chapter, how a city is to be
punished in the like case. And Mr. Burroughs,[27] in his Irenicum, shows
that this place of Deut. xiii. 6, &c., belongs even to us under the

Or whether these offences be against the second commandment, the
magistrate's punitive power reaches them, Deut. xvii. 1-8; Lev. xvii.
2-8; 2 Chron. xvi. 13, 16. "Maachah, the mother of Asa the king, he
removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove." Job
xxxi. 26-28, herewith compare Exod. viii. 25, 26. Or whether the
offences be against the third commandment, "And thou shalt speak unto
the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth God shall bear his
sin: and he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord he shall surely be put
to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him, as well
the stranger as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the
name of the Lord shall be put to death," Lev. xxiv. 15, 16. Yea, the
heathen king Nebuchadnezzar made a notable decree to this purpose,
against blaspheming God, saying, "I make a decree, that every people,
nation, and language, who speak any thing amiss against the God of
Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their
houses shall be made a dunghill," Dan. iii. 29: and the pagan
magistrate, king Artaxerxes, made a more full decree against all
contempt of the law of God: "And whosoever will not do the law of thy
God," saith he to Ezra, "and the law of the king, let judgment be
executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment,
or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment:" and Ezra blesses God
for this, Ezra vii. 26, 27.

Besides all this light of nature, and evidence of the Old Testament, for
the ruler's political punitive power for offences against God, there are
divers places in the New Testament showing that a civil punitive power
rests still in the civil magistrate: witness those general expressions
in those texts--Rom. xiii. 3, 4: "Rulers are not a terror to good works,
but to the evil. If thou do that which is evil, be afraid, for he
beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger
_to execute_ wrath upon him that doeth evil." 1 Pet. ii. 13, 14: "Submit
yourselves unto every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether it
be to the king as to the supreme, or unto governors which are sent for
the _punishment_ of evil-doers,[28] and the praise of them that do
well." Now, (as Mr. Burroughs[29] notes,) seeing the Scripture speaks
thus generally, except the nature of the thing require, why should we
distinguish where the Scripture doth not? so that these expressions may
be extended to those sorts of evil-doing against the first as well as
against the second table; against murdering of souls by heresy, as well
as murdering of men's bodies with the sword; against the blaspheming of
the God of heaven, as well as against blaspheming of kings and rulers,
that are counted gods on earth. That place seems to have much force in
it to this purpose, Heb. x. 28, 29: "He that despised Moses' law, died
without mercy under two or three witnesses. Of how much sorer
punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden
under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant,
wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto
the Spirit of grace?" Yea, what deserve such as deny the Spirit to be of
God? Papists exempt their clergy from the judgment of the civil power,
though they be delinquents against it; and their states, both civil
and spiritual, from civil taxes, tributes, and penalties, both which we
deny to ours: for, 1st, This is repugnant to the law of nature, that
church officers and members, as parts and members of the commonwealth,
should not be subject to the government of that commonwealth whereof
they are parts. 2d, Repugnant to the laws and practices of the Old
Testament, under which we read of no such exemptions. Yea, we have
instance of Abiathar the high-priest, who, for his partnership with
Adonijah in his rebellion, was exiled by king Solomon, and so
consequently deprived of the exercise of his office, 1 Kings ii. 26, 27.
3d, Inconsistent with our Saviour's example, who, as subject to the law,
held himself obliged to pay tribute to avoid offence, (Matt. xvii. 26,)
which was an active scandal; and he confesses Pilate's power to condemn
or release him was _given him from above_, John xix. 11. 4th, And
finally, contrary to the apostolical precepts, _enjoining all to be
subject to superior powers_, Rom. xiii. 1-4; 1 Pet. ii. 13-15.

Now, all the former power that is granted, or may be granted to the
magistrate about religion, is only cumulative and objective, as divines
used to express it; thus understand them:--

Cumulative, not privative; adding to, not detracting from any liberties
or privileges granted her from Christ. The heathen magistrate may be a
_nurse-father_, Isa. xlix. 23; 1 Tim. ii. 2, may not be a _step-father_:
may protect the Church, religion, &c., and order many things in a
political way about religion; may not extirpate or persecute the Church;
may help her in reformation; may not hinder her in reforming herself,
convening synods in herself, as in Acts xv., &c., if he will not help
her therein; otherwise her condition were better without than with a
magistrate. The Christian magistrate much less ought to hinder her
therein, otherwise her state were worse under the Christian than under
the pagan magistrate.

Objective or objectively ecclesiastical, as being exercised about
objects ecclesiastical, but politically, not ecclesiastically. His
proper power is _about_, not _in_ religious matters. He may politically,
outwardly exercise his power about objects or matters spiritual; but not
spiritually, inwardly, formally act any power in the Church. He may act
in church affairs as did Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah; not as did
Corah, Saul, Uzzah, or Uzziah. He is an overseer of things without, not
of things within. And in a word, his whole power about church offices
and religion is merely, properly, and formally civil or political.[30]

Nor is this only our private judgment, or the opinion of some few
particular persons touching the granting or bounding of the magistrate's
power about matters of religion; but with us we have the suffrage of
many reformed churches, who, in their Confessions of Faith published to
the world, do fully and clearly express themselves to the same effect.

The Helvetian church thus: Since every magistrate is of God, it is
(unless he would exercise tyranny) his chief duty, all blasphemy being
repressed, to defend and provide for religion, and to execute this to
his utmost strength, as the prophet teacheth out of the word; in which
respect the pure and free preaching of God's word, a right, diligent,
and well-instituted discipline of youth, citizens and scholars; a just
and liberal maintenance of the ministers of the church, and a solicitous
care of the poor, (whereunto all ecclesiastical means belong,) have the
first place. After this, &c.

The French churches thus: He also therefore committed the sword into the
magistrates' hands, that they might repress faults committed not only
against the second table, but also against the first; therefore we
affirm, that their laws and statutes ought to be obeyed, tribute to be
paid, and other burdens to be borne, the yoke of subjection voluntarily
to be undergone, yea, though the magistrates should be infidels, so long
as the supreme government of God remains perfect and untouched, Matt.
xxiv.; Acts iv. 17, and v. 19; Jude verse 8.

The church of Scotland thus: Moreover we affirm, that the purging and
conserving of religion is the first and most especial duty of kings,
princes, governors, and magistrates. So that they are ordained of God
not only for civil polity, but also for the conservation of true
religion, and that all idolatry and superstition may be suppressed: as
is evident in David, Jehoshaphat, Josiah, Hezekiah, and others, adorned
with high praises for their singular zeal.

The Belgic church thus: Therefore he hath armed the magistrates with a
sword, that they may punish the bad and defend the good. Furthermore, it
is their duty not only to be solicitous about preserving of civil
polity, but also to give diligence that the sacred ministry may be
preserved, all idolatry and adulterate worship of God may be taken out
of the way, the kingdom of antichrist may be pulled down, but Christ's
kingdom propagated. Finally, it is their part to take course, that the
holy word of the gospel be preached on every side, that all may freely
and purely serve and worship God according to the prescript of his word.
And all men, of whatsoever dignity, condition, or state they be, ought
to be subject to lawful magistrates, to pay them tribute and subsidies,
to obey them in all things which are not repugnant to the word of God;
to pour out prayers for them, that God would vouchsafe to direct them in
all their actions, _and that we may under them lead a quiet and
peaceable life in all godliness and honesty_. Wherefore we detest the
Anabaptists and all turbulent men who cast off superior dominions and
magistrates, pervert laws and judgments, make all goods common, and
finally abolish or confound all orders and degrees which God hath
constituted for honesty's sake among men.

The church in Bohemia thus: They teach also that it is commanded in the
word of God that _all should be subject to the higher powers_ in all
things, yet in those things only which are not repugnant to God and his
word. But as touching those things which concern men's souls, faith, and
salvation, they teach that men should hearken only to God's word, &c.,
his ministers, as Christ himself saith, _Render to Cæsar the things
that are Cæsar's, and to God those things that are God's._ But if any
would compel them to those things which are against God, and fight and
strive against his word, which abideth forever; they teach them to make
use of the apostle's example, who thus answered the magistrate at
Jerusalem: _It is meet_ (say they) _to obey God rather than men_.

Finally, the church in Saxony hath expressed herself notably in this
point, saying, among many other passages, God will have all men, yea,
even unregenerate men, to be ruled and restrained by political
government. And in this government the wisdom, justice, and goodness of
God to mankind do shine forth. His wisdom, order declares, which is the
difference of virtues and vices, and the consociation of men by lawful
governments and contracts ordained in wonderful wisdom. God's justice
also is seen in political government, who will have manifest
wickednesses to be punished by magistrates; and when they that rule
punish not the guilty, God himself wonderfully draws them to punishment,
and regularly punishes heinous faults with heinous penalties in this
life, as it is said, _He that takes the sword shall perish by the
sword_; and, _Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge_. God will have
in these punishments the difference of vices and virtues to be seen; and
will have us learn that God is wise, just, true, chaste. God's goodness
also to mankind is beheld, because by this means he preserves the
society of men, and therefore he preserves it that thence the Church may
be gathered, and will have polities to be the Church's inns. Of these
divine and immoveable laws, which are testimonies of God, and the chief
rule of manners, the magistrate is to be keeper in punishing all that
violate them. For the voice of the law, without punishment and
execution, is of small avail to bridle and restrain men; therefore it is
said by Paul, _The power should be a terror to evil works, and an honor
to the good._ And antiquity rightly said, _The magistrate is the keeper
of the law, both of the first and second table,_ so far as appertains to
_good order_. And though many in their governments neglect the glory of
God, yet this ought to be their chief care, to hear and embrace the true
doctrine touching the Son of God, and to foster the churches, as the
psalm saith, _And now understand, ye kings, and be instructed, ye judges
of the earth._ Again, _Open your gates, ye princes_, i.e., Open your
empires to the gospel, and afford harbor to the Son of God. And Isa.
xlix.: _And kings shall be thy nursing-fathers, and queens_, i.e.,
commonwealths, _shall be thy nursing-mothers_, i.e., of the Church, they
shall afford lodgings to churches and pious studies. And kings and
princes themselves shall be members of the Church, and shall rightly
understand doctrine, shall not help those that establish false doctrine,
and exercise unjust cruelty, but shall be mindful of this saying, "I
will glorify them that glorify me." And Daniel exhorteth the king of
Babylon unto the acknowledgment of God's wrath, and to clemency towards
the exiled Church, when he saith, "Break off thy sins by righteousness,
and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor." And since they are
among the chief members of the Church, they should see that judgment be
rightly exercised in the Church, as Constantine, Theodosius, Arcadius,
Marcianus, Charles the Great, and many pious kings, took care that the
judgments of the Church should be rightly exercised, &c.

Thus those of the presbyterian judgment are willing to give to Cæsar
those things that are Cæsar's, even about matters of religion, that the
magistrate may see, it is far from their intention in the least degree
to intrench upon his just power, by asserting the spiritual power, which
Christ hath seated in his church officers, distinct from the
magistratical power: but as for them of the independent judgment, and
their adherents, they divest the magistrate of such power.[31]


II. Some power on the other hand touching religion and church affairs,
is utterly denied to the civil magistrate, as no way belonging to him at
all by virtue of his office of magistracy. Take it thus:

Jesus Christ, our Mediator, now under the New Testament, hath committed
no spiritual power at all, magisterial or ministerial, properly,
internally, formally, or virtually ecclesiastical, nor any exercise
thereof, for the government of his Church, to the political magistrate,
heathen or Christian, as the subject or receptacle thereof by virtue of
his magistratical office.

For explication hereof briefly thus: 1. What is meant by
spiritual power, magisterial and ministerial, is laid down in the
general nature of the government, Chap. III. And, That all magisterial
lordly power over the Church, belongs peculiarly and only to Jesus
Christ our Mediator, Lord of all, is proved, Chap. V. Consequently, the
civil magistrate can challenge no such power, without usurpation upon
Christ's prerogative. We hence condemn the Pope as Antichrist, while he
claims to be Christ's vicar-general over Christ's visible Church on
earth. So that all the question here will be about the ministerial
power, whether any such belong to the civil magistrate. 2. What is meant
by power, properly, internally, formally, or virtually ecclesiastical?
Thus conceive: These several terms are purposely used, the more clearly
and fully to distinguish power purely ecclesiastical, which is denied to
the magistrate, from power purely political about ecclesiastical
objects, which is granted to him; which is called ecclesiastical, not
properly, but improperly; not internally, but externally; not formally,
but only objectively, as conversant about ecclesiastical objects. Nor
hath he any such ecclesiastical power in him virtually, i.e. so as to
convey and give it to any other under him. He may grant and protect the
public exercise of that power within his dominions; but designation of
particular persons to the office and power, is from the Church; the
donation of the office and power only from Christ himself. So that
magistracy doth not formally nor virtually comprehend in it
ecclesiastical power for church government; for a magistrate, as a
magistrate, hath no inward ecclesiastical power at all belonging to him.

For confirmation of this proposition, consider these ensuing arguments.

_Argum_. 1st. The keys of the kingdom of heaven were never given by
Christ to the civil magistrate, as such: therefore he cannot be the
proper subject of church government as a magistrate. We may thus reason:

_Major_. No power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven was ever given by
Christ to the civil magistrate, as a magistrate.

_Minor_. But all formal power of church government is at least part of
the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

_Conclusion_. Therefore no formal power of church government was ever
given by Christ to the civil magistrate, as a magistrate.

The major proposition is evident.

1. Because when Christ gave the keys of the kingdom of heaven, he makes
no mention at all of the civil magistrate directly or indirectly,
expressly or implicitly, as the recipient subject thereof. Compare Matt.
xvi. 19, and xviii. 18, John ii. 21-23, with Matt. xxvii. 18-20. 2.
Because, in Christ's giving the keys of the kingdom of heaven, he makes
express mention of church officers,[32] which are really and essentially
different from the civil magistrate, viz. of Peter, in name of all the
rest, Matt. xvi. 18, 19, and of the rest of the apostles as the
receptacle of the keys with him, Matt. xviii. 18, all the disciples save
Thomas being together, he gave them the same commission in other words,
John xx. 20-24, and Matt. xxviii. 18-20. Now if Christ should have given
the keys, or any power thereof to the magistrate, as a magistrate, he
must consequently have given them only to the magistrate, and then how
could he have given them to his apostles, being officers in the Church
really distinct from the magistrate?

3. Because Jesus Christ, in giving the keys of the kingdom, gave not any
one sort, act, part, or piece of the keys severally, but the whole power
of the keys, all the sorts and acts thereof jointly. Therefore it is
said, _I give the keys of the kingdom_--and _whatsoever thou shalt
bind--whatsoever thou shalt loose--whose soever sins ye remit--whose
soever sins ye retain_--Matt. xvi. 19, John xx. 23. So that here is not
only key, but keys given at once, viz. key of doctrine, and the key of
discipline; or the key of order, and the key of jurisdiction; not only
binding or retaining, but loosing or remitting of sins, viz. all acts
together conferred in the keys. Now if Christ gave the keys to the
magistrate, then he gave all the sorts of keys and all the acts thereof
to him: if so, the magistrate may as well preach the word, and dispense
the sacraments, &c., (as Erastus would have him,) as dispense the
censures, &c., (for Christ joined all together in the same commission,
and by what warrant are they disjoined?) and if so, what need of
pastors, teachers, &c.,, in the Church? Let the civil magistrate do all.
It is true, the ruling elder (which was after added) is limited only to
one of the keys, viz. the _key of discipline_, 1 Tim. v. 17; but this
limitation is by the same authority that ordained his office.

4. Because if Christ gave the keys to the civil magistrate as such, then
to every magistrate, whether Jewish, heathenish, or Christian: but not
to the Jewish magistrate; for the sceptre was to depart from him, and
the Jewish polity to be dissolved, and even then was almost extinct. Not
to the heathenish magistrate, for then those might be properly and
formally church governors which were not church members; and if the
heathen magistrate refused to govern the Church, (when there was no
other magistrate on earth,) she must be utterly destitute of all
government, which are grossly absurd. Nor, finally, to the Christian
magistrate, for Christ gave the keys to officers then in being; but at
that time no Christian magistrate was in being in the world. Therefore
the keys were given by Christ to no civil magistrate, as such, at all.

The minor, viz. But all formal power of church government is at least
part of the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven is clear. If we
take church government largely, as containing both doctrine, worship,
and discipline, it is the whole power of the keys; if strictly, as
restrained only to discipline, it is at least part of the power. For,
1st, Not only the power of order, but also the power of jurisdiction, is
contained under the word keys; otherwise it should have been said key,
not keys; church government therefore is at least part of the power of
the keys. 2d, The word key, noting a stewardly power, as appears, Isa.
xxii. 22, (as Erastians themselves will easily grant,) may as justly be
extended in the nature of it to signify the ruling power by
jurisdiction, as the teaching power by doctrine; in that the office of a
steward in the household, who bears the keys, consists in governing,
ordering, and ruling the household, as well as in feeding it, as that
passage in Luke xii. 41-49, being well considered, doth very notably
evidence. For, Christ applying his speech to his disciples, saith, "Who
then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his Lord shall make ruler
of his household?--he will make him ruler over all that he hath," &c.
3d, Nothing in the text or context appears why we should limit keys and
the acts thereof only to doctrine, and exclude discipline; and where the
text restrains not, we are not to restrain. 4th, The most of sound
interpreters extend the keys and the acts thereof as well to discipline
as to doctrine; to matters of jurisdiction, as well as to matters of
order. From all we may conclude,

Therefore no formal power of church government was ever given by Christ
to the civil magistrate, as a magistrate.

_Argum_. 2d. There was full power of church government in the church
when no magistrate was Christian, yea, when all magistrates were
persecutors of the Church, so far from being her _nursing fathers_, that
they were her _cruel butchers_; therefore the magistrate is not the
proper subject of this power. Thus we may argue:

_Major_. No proper power of church government, which was fully exercised
in the Church of Christ, before any magistrate became Christian, yea,
when magistrates were persecutors of the Church, was derived from Christ
to the magistrate as a magistrate.

_Minor_. But all proper power of church government was fully exercised
in the Church before any magistrate became Christian, yea, when
magistrates were cruel persecutors of the Church of Christ.

_Conclusion_. Therefore no proper power of church government was derived
from Christ to the civil magistrate as a magistrate.

The _major_ proposition must be granted. For, 1st, Either then the
Church, in exercising such full power of church government, should have
usurped that power which belonged not at all to her, but only to the
magistrate; for what power belongs to a magistrate, as a magistrate,
belongs to him only; but dare we think that the apostles, or the
primitive purest apostolical churches did or durst exercise all their
power of church government which they exercised, merely by usurpation
without any right thereunto themselves? 2d, Or if the Church usurped
not, &c., but exercised the power which Christ gave her, let the
magistrate show wherein Christ made void the Church's charter, retracted
this power, and gave it unto him.

The minor proposition cannot be denied. For,

1st. It was about 300 years after Christ before any of the Roman
emperors (who had subdued the whole world, Luke ii. 1, under their sole
dominion) became Christian. For Constantine the Great was the first
emperor that received the faith, procured peace to the Church, and gave
her respite from her cruel persecutions, which was in Anno 309 (or
thereabouts) after Christ; before which time the Church was miserably
wasted and butchered with those ten bloody persecutions, by the tyranny
of Nero, and other cruel emperors before Constantine.

2d. Yet within the space of this first 309 or 311 years, all proper
power of church government was fully exercised in the Church of Christ;
not only the word preached, Acts iv. 2; 1 Tim. iii. 16; and sacraments
dispensed, Acts xx. 7; 1 Cor. xi. 17, &c.; Acts ii. 4, and viii. 12: but
also _deacons_ set apart for that office of _deaconship_, Acts vi.:
_elders_ ordained and sent forth, Acts xiii. 1-3, and xiv. 23; 1 Tim.
iv.; Tit. i. 5: public _admonition in use_, Tit. iii. 10; 1 Tim. v. 20:
_excommunication_, 1 Cor. v.; and 1 Tim. i. 20: _absolution_ of the
penitent, 2 Cor. ii. 6, 7, &c.: synodical conventions and decrees, Acts
xv. with xvi. 4. So that we may conclude,

Therefore no proper power of church government was derived from Christ
to the civil magistrate, as a magistrate.

_Argum_. 3d. The magistratical power really, specifically, and
essentially differs from the ecclesiastical power; therefore the civil
magistrate, as a magistrate, cannot be the proper subject of this
ecclesiastical power. Hence we may thus argue:

_Major_. No power essentially, specifically, and really differing from
magistratical power, was ever given by Christ to the magistrate as a

_Minor_. But all proper ecclesiastical power essentially, specifically,
and really differs from the magistratical power.

_Conclusion_. Therefore no proper ecclesiastical power was ever given by
Jesus Christ to the civil magistrate as a magistrate.

The major is evident: for how can the magistrate, as a magistrate,
receive such a power as is really and essentially distinct and different
from magistracy? Were not that to make the magistratical power both
really the same with itself, and yet really and essentially different
from itself? A flat contradiction.

The minor may be clearly evinced many ways: as, 1st, From the real and
formal distinction between the two societies, viz. the Church and
commonwealth, wherein ecclesiastical and political power are peculiarly
seated. 2d. From the co-ordination of the power ecclesiastical and
political, in reference to one another. 3d. From the different causes of
these two powers, viz. efficient, material, formal, and final; in all
which they are truly distinguished from one another.

1st. From the real and formal distinction between the two societies,
viz. church and commonwealth: for, 1. The society of the Church is only
Christ's, and not the civil magistrate's: it is his _house_, his
_spouse_, his _body_, &c., and Christ hath no vicar[33] under him. 2.
The officers ecclesiastical are Christ's officers, not the magistrate's,
1 Cor. iv. 1: _Christ gave_ them, Eph. iv. 8, 10, 11: _God set them in
the Church_, 1 Cor. xii. 28. 3. These ecclesiastical officers are both
elected and ordained by the Church, without commission from the civil
magistrate, by virtue of Christ's ordinance, and in his name. Thus the
apostles appointed officers: _Whom we may appoint_, Acts vi. 3, 4. The
power of ordination and mission is in the hands of Christ's officers;
compare Acts xiv. 23; 1 Tim. iv. 14, with Acts xiii. 1-4: and this is
confessed by the parliament to be an ordinance of Jesus Christ, in their
ordinance for ordaining of preaching presbyters. 4. The Church, and the
several presbyteries ecclesiastical, meet not as civil judicatories, for
civil acts of government, as making civil statutes, inflicting civil
punishments, &c., but as spiritual assemblies, for spiritual acts of
government and discipline: as preaching, baptizing, receiving the Lord's
supper, prayer, admonition of the disorderly, &c. 5. What gross
absurdities would follow, should not these two societies, viz. church
and commonwealth, be acknowledged to be really and essentially
distinct from one another! For then, 1. There can be no commonwealth
where there is not a Church; but this is contrary to all experience.
Heathens have commonwealths, yet no Church. 2. Then there may be church
officers elected where there is no church, seeing there are magistrates
where there is no church. 3. Then those magistrates, where there is no
church, are no magistrates; but that is repugnant to Scripture, which
accounts heathen rulers the servants of God, Isa. xlv. 1; Jer. xxv. 9:
and calls them kings, Exod. vi. 13; Isa. xxxi. 35. And further, if there
be no magistrates where there is no church, then the church is the
formal constituting cause of magistrates. 4. Then the commonwealth, as
the commonwealth, is the church; and the church, as the church, is the
commonwealth: then the church and the commonwealth are the same. 5. Then
all that are members of the commonwealth are, on that account, because
members of the commonwealth, members of the church. 6. Then the
commonwealth, being formally the same with the church, is, as a
commonwealth, the mystical body of Christ. 7. Then the officers of the
church are the officers of the commonwealth; the power of the keys gives
them right to the civil sword: and consequently, the ministers of the
gospel, as ministers, are justices of the peace, judges, parliament-men,
&c., all which how absurd, let the world judge.

2d. From the co-ordination of the power ecclesiastical and political, in
reference to one another: (this being a received maxim, that subordinate
powers are of the same kind; co-ordinate powers are of distinct kinds.)
Now, that the power of the Church is co-ordinate with the civil power,
may be evidenced as followeth: 1. The officers of Christ, as officers,
are not directly and properly subordinate to the civil power, though in
their persons they are subject thereto: the apostles and pastors may
preach, and cast out of the church, against the will of the magistrate,
and yet not truly offend magistracy; thus, in doing the duty they have
immediately received from God, they must "obey God rather than men,"
Acts iv. 19, 20. And the apostles and pastors must exercise their office
(having received a command from Christ) without attending to the command
or consent of the civil magistrate for the same; _as in casting out the
incestuous person_, 1 Cor. v. 5: telling the Church, Matt. xviii. 17:
_rejecting a heretic_, Tit. iii. 10. And, 2. Those acts of power are not
directly and formally subordinate to the magistrate, which he himself
cannot do, or which belong not to him. Thus the kings of Israel could
not burn incense: "It appertaineth not unto thee," 2 Chron. xxvi. 18,
19. Likewise, none have the power of the keys, but they to whom Christ
saith, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel," Matt. xxviii.
19: but Christ spake not this to magistrates: so only those that are
_sent_, Rom. x. 15, and those that are governors, are by Christ placed
in the Church. 3. The officers of the Church can ecclesiastically
censure the officers of the state, though not as such, as well as the
officers of the state can punish civilly the officers of the Church,
though not as such: the church guides may admonish, excommunicate, &c.,
the officers of the state as members of the Church, and the officers of
the state may punish the officers of the Church as the members of the
state. 4. Those that are not sent of the magistrate as his deputies,
they are not subordinate in their mission to his power, but the
ministers are not sent as the magistrate's deputies, but are _set over
the flock by the Holy Ghost_, Acts xx. 28: they are likewise the
_ministry of Christ_, 1 Cor. iv. 1, 2: they are _over you in the Lord_,
1 Thess. v. 12: and in his name they exercise their jurisdiction, 1 Cor.
v. 4, 5. 5. If the last appeal in matters purely ecclesiastical be not
to the civil power, then there is no subordination; but the last appeal
properly so taken is not to the magistrate. This appears from these
considerations: 1. Nothing is appealable to the magistrate but what is
under the power of the sword; but admonition, excommunication, &c., are
not under the power of the sword: they are neither matters of dominion
nor coercion. 2. If it were so, then it follows that the having of the
sword gives a man a power to the keys. 3. Then it follows that the
officers of the kingdom of heaven are to be judged as such by the
officers of the kingdom of this world as such, and then there is no
difference between the things of Cæsar and the things of God. 4. The
church of Antioch sent to Jerusalem, Acts xv. 2, and the synod there,
without the magistrate, came together, ver. 6; and determined the
controversy, ver. 28, 29. And we read, "The spirits of the prophets are
subject to the prophets," 1 Cor. xiv. 32; not to the civil power as
prophets. So we must seek knowledge at the priest's lips, not at the
civil magistrate's, Mal. ii. 7. And we read, that the people came to the
priests in hard controversies, but never that the priests went to the
civil power, Deut. xvii. 8-10. 5. It makes the magistrate Christ's
vicar, and so Christ to have a visible head on earth, and so to be an
ecclesiastico-civil pope, and consequently there should be as many
visible heads of Christ's Church as there are magistrates. 6. These
powers are both immediate; one from God the Father, as _Creator_, Rom.
xiii. 1, 2; the other from Jesus Christ, as _Mediator_, Matt. xxviii.
18. Now lay all these together, and there cannot be a subordination of
powers; and therefore there must be a real distinction.

3d. From the different causes of these two powers, viz. efficient,
material, formal, and final; in all which they are truly distinguished
from one another, as may plainly appear by this ensuing parallel:

1. They differ in their efficient cause or author, whence they are
derived. Magistratical power is from God, the Creator and Governor of
the world, Rom. xiii. 1, 2, 4; and so belongs to all mankind, heathen or
Christian; ecclesiastical power is peculiarly from Jesus Christ our
Mediator, Lord of the Church, (who hath all power given him, and the
government of the Church laid upon his shoulder, as Eph. i. 22; Matt.
xxviii. 18, compared with Isa. ix. 16.) See Matt. vi. 19, and xviii. 18,
and xxviii. 19, 20; John xx. 21-23; 2 Cor. x. 8: and consequently
belongs properly to the Church, and to them that are within the Church,
1 Cor. v. 12, 13. Magistratical power in general is the ordinance of
God, Rom. xiii. 1, 2, 4; but magistratical power in particular, whether
it should be monarchical in a king, aristocratical in states,
democratical in the people, &c., is of men, called, therefore, a human
creature, or creation, 1 Pet. ii. 13; but ecclesiastical power, and
officers in particular, as well as general, are from Christ, Matt. xvi.
19, and xxviii. 18-20; Tit. iii. 10; 1 Cor. v. 13; 2 Cor. ii. For
officers, see Eph. iv. 11, 12; 1 Cor. xii. 28.

2. They differ in their material cause; whether it be the matter of
which they consist, in which they are seated, or about which they are
exercised. 1. In respect of the matter of which they consist, they much
differ. Ecclesiastical power consists of the keys of the kingdom of
heaven, which are exercised in the preaching of the word, dispensing the
sacraments, executing the censures, admonition, excommunication,
absolution, ordination of presbyters, &c.; but magistratical power
consists in the secular sword, which puts forth itself in making
statutes, inflicting fines, imprisonments, confiscations, banishments,
torments, death. 2. In respect of the matter or object about which they
are exercised, they much differ: for, the magistratical power is
exercised politically, about persons and things without the Church, as
well as within the church; but the ecclesiastical power is exercised
only upon them that are within the Church, 1 Cor. v. 13. The
magistratical power in some cases of treason, &c., banishes or otherwise
punishes even penitent persons: ecclesiastical power punishes no
penitent persons. The magistratical power punishes not all sorts of
scandal, but some: the ecclesiastical power punishes (if rightly
managed) all sorts of scandal.

3. They differ in their formal cause, as doth clearly appear by their
way or manner of acting: magistratical power takes cognizance of crimes,
and passes sentence thereupon according to statutes and laws made by
man: ecclesiastical power takes cognizance of, and passes judgment upon
crimes according to the word of God, the Holy Scriptures. Magistratical
power punishes merely with political punishments, as fines,
imprisonments, &c. Ecclesiastical merely with spiritual punishments, as
church censures. Magistratical power makes all decrees and laws, and
executes all authority, commanding or punishing only in its own name, in
name of the supreme magistrate, as of the king, &c., but ecclesiastical
power is wholly exercised, not in the name of churches, or officers, but
only in Christ's name, Matt, xxviii. 19; Acts iv. 17; 1 Cor. v. 4. The
magistrate can delegate his power to another: church-governors cannot
delegate their power to others, but must exercise it by themselves. The
magistrate about ecclesiasticals hath power to command and compel
politically the church officers to do their duty, as formerly was
evidenced; but cannot discharge lawfully those duties themselves, but in
attempting the same, procure divine wrath upon themselves: as Korah,
Numb. xvi.; King Saul, 1 Sam. xiii. 9-15; King Uzziah, 2 Chron. xxvi.
16-22: but church-guides can properly discharge the duties of doctrine,
worship, and discipline themselves, and ecclesiastically command and
compel others to do their duty also.

4. Lastly, They differ in their final cause or ends. The magistratical
power levels at the temporal, corporal, external, political peace,
tranquillity, order, and good of human society, and of all persons
within his jurisdiction, &c. The ecclesiastical power intends properly
the spiritual good and edification of the Church and all the members
thereof, Matt, xviii. 15; 1 Cor. v. 5, &c.; 2 Cor. x. 8, and xiii.
10.[34] May we not from all clearly conclude, Therefore no proper
ecclesiastical power was ever given by Jesus Christ to the magistrate as
a magistrate?

_Argum_. 4th. The civil magistrate is no proper church officer, and
therefore cannot be the proper subject of church power, Hence we may

_Major_. All formal power of church government was derived from Jesus
Christ to his own proper church officers only. To them he gave the _keys
of the kingdom of heaven_, Matt. xvi. 19, and xviii. 18; John xx. 21,
28: to them he gave the _authority for edification of the church_, 2
Cor. x. 8, and xiii. 10: but this will after more fully appear in Chap.
XI. following.

_Minor_. But no civil magistrate, as a magistrate, is any of Christ's
proper church officers. For, 1. The civil magistrate is never reckoned
up in the catalogue, list, or roll of Christ's church officers in
Scripture, Eph. iv. 10-12; 1 Cor. xii. 28, &c.; Rom. xii. 6-8; if here,
or anywhere else, let the magistrate or the Erastians show it. 2. A
magistrate, as a magistrate, is not a church member, (much less a church
governor;) for then all magistrates, heathen as well as Christian,
should be church members and church officers, but this is contrary to
the very nature of Christ's kingdom, which admits no heathen into it.

_Conclusion_. Therefore no formal power of church government was derived
from Jesus Christ to the magistrate as a magistrate.

_Argum_. 5th. The civil magistrate, as such, is not properly subordinate
to Christ's mediatory kingdom; therefore is not the receptacle of church
power from Christ. Hence thus:

_Major_. Whatsoever formal power of church government Christ committed
to any, he committed it only to those that were properly subordinate to
his mediatory kingdom. For whatsoever ecclesiastical ordinance, office,
power, or authority, Christ gave to men, he gave it as Mediator and Head
of the Church, by virtue of his mediatory office; and for the
gathering, edifying, and perfecting of his mediatory kingdom, which is
his Church, Eph. iv. 7, 10-12. Therefore such as are not properly
subordinate to Christ in this his office, and for this end, can have no
formal church power from Christ.

_Minor_. But no magistrate, as a magistrate, is subordinate properly to
Christ's mediatory kingdom. For, 1. Not Christ the Mediator, but God the
Creator authorizeth the magistrate's office, Rom. xiii. 1, 2, 6. 2.
Magistracy is never styled a ministry of Christ in Scripture, nor
dispensed in his name. 3. Christ's kingdom is not of this world, John
xviii. 36; the magistrate's is.

_Conclusion_. Therefore no formal power of Church government is
committed by Christ to the magistrate as a magistrate.

6th. Finally, divers absurdities unavoidably follow upon the granting of
a proper formal power of Church government to the civil magistrate:
therefore he cannot be the proper subject of such power. Hence it may be
thus argued:

_Major_. No grant of ecclesiastical power, which plainly introduceth
many absurdities, can be allowed to the political magistrate, as the
proper subject thereof. For though in matters of religion there be many
things mysterious, sublime, and above the reach of reason; yet there is
nothing to be found that is absurd, irrational, &c.

_Minor_. But to grant to the political magistrate, as a magistrate, a
proper formal power of church government, introduceth plainly many
absurdities, e.g.: 1. This brings confusion betwixt the office of the
magistracy and ministry. 2. Confounds the church and commonwealth
together. 3. Church government may be monarchical in one man; and so,
not only prelatical but papal; and consequently, antichristian. Which
absurdities, with many others, were formerly intimated, and neither by
religion nor reason can be endured. We conclude:

_Conclusion_. Therefore the grant of a proper formal power of church
government cannot be allowed to the political magistrate as the proper
subject thereof, because he is a magistrate.


_That the community of the faithful, or body of the people, are not the
immediate subject of the power of Church government._

Thus we see, that Jesus Christ our Mediator did not commit any proper
formal ecclesiastical power for church government to the political
magistrate, as such, as the Erastians conceive. Now, in the next place
(to come more close) let us consider that Jesus Christ our Mediator hath
not committed the spiritual power of church government to the body of
the people, presbyterated, or unpresbyterated (to use their own terms)
as the first subject thereof, according to the opinion of the
Separatists or Independents. Take it in this proposition:

Jesus Christ our Mediator hath not committed the proper formal power or
authority spiritual, for government of his Church,[35] unto the
community of the faithful, whole church, or body of the people, as the
proper immediate receptacle, or first subject thereof.


Some things herein need a little explanation, before we come to the

1. By _fraternity, community of the faithful, whole church or body of
the people_, understand a particular company of people, meeting together
in one assembly or single congregation, to partake of Christ's
ordinances. This single congregation may be considered as presbyterated,
i.e., furnished with an eldership; or as unpresbyterated, i.e.,
destitute of an eldership, having yet no elders or officers erected
among them. Rigid Brownists or Separatists say, that the fraternity or
community of the faithful unpresbyterated is the first receptacle of
proper ecclesiastical power from Christ: unto whom some of independent
judgment subscribe. Independents thus resolve: First, That the apostles
of Christ are the first subject of apostolical power. Secondly, That a
particular congregation of saints, professing the faith, taken
indefinitely for any church, (one as well as another,) is the first
subject of all church offices with all their spiritual gifts and power.
Thirdly, That when the church of a particular congregation walketh
together in the truth and peace, the brethren of the church are the
first subjects of church liberty; the elders thereof of church
authority; and both of them together are the first subject of all church
power.[36] Which assertions of Brownists and Independents (except the
first) are denied by them of presbyterian judgment, as being obvious to
divers material and just exceptions.[37]:

2. By _proper formal power or authority spiritual, for church
government_, thus conceive. To omit what hath been already laid down
about the natures and sorts of spiritual power and authority, (part 2,
chap. III. and VI.,) which are to be remembered, here it may be further
observed, that there is a proper public, official, authoritative power,
though but stewardly and ministerial, which is derived from Jesus Christ
to his church officers, Matt. xvi. 19, and xviii. 18; John xx. 21-23;
Matt, xxviii. 18-20; of which power the apostle speaking, saith, "If I
should somewhat boast of our power which the Lord hath given us to
edification," 2 Cor. x. 8; so 2 Cor. xiii. 10. The people are indeed
allowed certain liberties or privileges; as, _To try the spirits_, &c.,
1 John iv. 1. To prove all doctrines by the word, 1 Thess. v. 21. To
nominate and elect their own church officers, as their deacons, which
they did, Acts vi. 3, 5, 6; but this is not a proper power of the keys.
But the proper, public, official, authoritative power, is quite denied
to the body of the people, furnished with an eldership or destitute

3. By _proper immediate receptacle, or first subject of power_,
understand, that subject, seat, or receptacle of power, which first and
immediately received this power from Jesus Christ; and consequently was
intrusted and authorized by him, to put forth and exercise that power in
his Church for the government thereof. And here two things must be
carefully remembered: 1. That we distinguish betwixt the object and
subject of this power. The object for which, for whose good and benefit
all this power is given, is primarily the general visible Church, Ephes.
iv. 7, 10-12; 1 Cor. xii. 28; Rom. xii. 5,6, &c. Secondarily, particular
churches, as they are parts and members of the general. But the subject
receiving to which the power is derived, is not the Church general or
particular, but the officers or governors of the Church. 2. That we
distinguish also betwixt the donation of the power, and the designation
of particular persons to offices ecclesiastical. This designation of
persons to the offices of key bearing or ruling may be done first and
immediately by the Church, in nominating or electing her individual
officers which is allowed to her; yet is no proper authoritative act of
power. But the donation of the power itself is not from the Church as
the fountain, but immediately from Christ himself, 2 Cor. xi. 8, and
xiii. 10. Nor is it to the Church as the subject, but immediately to the
individual church officers themselves, who consequently, in all the
exercise of their power, act as the _ministers and stewards of Christ_,
1 Cor. iv. 1, putting forth their power immediately received from
Christ, not as the substitutes or delegates of the Church putting forth
her power, which from Christ she mediately conveys to them, as
Independents do imagine, but by us is utterly denied.


For confirmation of this proposition thus explained and stated; consider
these few arguments:

_Argum_. I. The community of the faithful, or body of the people, have
no authentic commission or grant of proper spiritual power for church
government; and therefore they cannot possibly be the first subject or
the proper immediate receptacle of such power from Christ. We may thus

_Major_. Whomsoever Jesus Christ hath made the immediate receptacle or
first subject of proper formal power for governing of his Church, to
them this power is conveyed by some authentic grant or commission.

_Minor_. But the community of the faithful, or body of the people, have
not this power conveyed unto them by any authentic grant or commission.

_Conclusion_. Therefore Jesus Christ our Mediator hath not made the
community of the faithful, or body of the people, the immediate
receptacle or first subject of proper formal power for governing of his

The major proposition is evident in itself: For, 1. The power of church
government in this or that subject is not natural, but positive; and
cast upon man, not by natural, but by positive law, positive grant: men
are not bred, but made the first subject of such power; therefore all
such power claimed or exercised, without such positive grant, is merely
without any due title, imaginary, usurped, unwarrantable, in very fact
null and void. 2. All power of church government is radically and
fundamentally in Christ, Isa. ix. 6; Matt, xxviii. 18; John v. 22. And
how shall any part of it be derived from Christ to man, but by some fit
intervening mean betwixt Christ and man? And what mean of conveyance
betwixt Christ and man can suffice, if it do not amount to an authentic
grant or commission for such power? 3. This is evidently Christ's way to
confer power by authentic commission immediately upon his church
officers, the apostles and their successors, to the world's end. "Thou
art Peter; and I give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven," &c.,
Matt. xvi. 18, 19. "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth," &c., Matt,
xviii. 19, 20. "As my Father sent me, so send I you; go, disciple ye all
nations; whose sins ye remit, they are remitted--and lo, I am with you
always to the end of the world," John xx. 21, 23; Matt, xxviii. 19, 20.
"Our power, which the Lord hath given us for edification," 2 Cor. x. 8,
and xiii. 10: so that we may conclude them that have such commission to
be the first subject and immediate receptacle of power from Christ, as
will after more fully appear. 4. If no such commission be needful to
distinguish those that have such power from those that have none, why
may not all without exception, young and old, wise and foolish, men and
women, Christian and heathen, &c., equally lay claim to this power of
church government? If not, what hinders? If so, how absurd!

The minor proposition, viz: But the community of the faithful, or body
of the people, have not this power conveyed to them by any authentic
grant or commission, is firm. For whence had they it? When was it given
to them? What is the power committed to them? Or in what sense is such
power committed to them?

1. Whence had they it? _From heaven or of men?_ If from men, then it is
a human ordinance and invention; _a plant which the heavenly Father hath
not planted_; and therefore _shall he plucked up_. Matt. xv. 13. If from
heaven, then from Christ; for _all power is given to him_, Matt, xxviii.
18, &c.; Isa. ix. 6. If it be derived from Christ, then it is derived
from him by some positive law of Christ as his grant or charter. A
positive grant of such power to select persons, viz. church officers,
the Scripture mentions, as was evidenced in the proof of the major
proposition. But touching any such grant or commission to the community
of the faithful, the Scripture is silent. And let those that are for the
popular power produce, if they can, any clear scripture that expressly,
or by infallible consequence, contains any such commission.

2. When was any such power committed by Christ to the multitude of the
faithful, either in the first planting and beginning of the Church, or
in the after establishment and growth of the Church under the apostles'
ministry? Not the first; for then the apostles themselves should have
derived their power from the community of the faithful: now this is
palpably inconsistent with the Scriptures, Which tell us that the
apostles had both their apostleship itself, and their qualifications
with gifts and graces for it, yea, and the very designation of all their
particular persons unto that calling, all of them immediately from
Christ himself. For the first, see Gal. i. 1: "Paul, an apostle, not of
men, nor by man, but by Jesus Christ," Matt, xxviii. 18-20. For the
second, see John xx. 22, 23: "And when he had said this, he breathed on
them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whose soever sins
ye remit, they are remitted unto them," &c. For the third, see Luke vi.
13, &c.: "And when it was day he called to him his disciples: and of
them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; Simon--" Matt. x.
5-7, &c.: "These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying."
And after his resurrection he enlarges their commission, Mark xvi. 15,
16: "Go ye into all the world;" and, "As my Father hath sent me, so send
I you," John xx. 21. See also how the Lord cast the lot upon Matthias,
Acts i. 24-26. Nor the second; for if such power be committed to the
community of the faithful after the apostles had established the
churches, then let those that so think show where Christ committed this
power first to the apostles, and after to the community of the faithful,
and by them or with them to their ordinary officers, for execution
thereof. But no such thing hath any foundation in Scripture; for the
ordinary Church guides, though they may have a designation to their
office by the church, yet they have the donation, or derivation of their
office and its authority only from Christ: their office is from Christ,
Ephes. iv. 8, 11; 1 Cor. xii. 28; Acts xx. 28, 29. Their power from
Christ, Matt. xvi. 19, and xxviii. 18, 19; John xx. 21, 23. "Our power
which the Lord hath given us," 2 Cor. viii. 10. They are _Christ's
ministers, stewards, ambassadors_, 1 Cor. iv. 1; 2 Cor. v. 19, 20. They
are to act and officiate _in his name_, Matt, xviii. 19; 1 Cor. v. 4, 5;
and to Christ they _must give an account_. Heb. xiii. 17, 18; Luke xii.
41, 42. Now if the ordinary officers have (as well as the apostles their
apostleship) their offices of pastor, teacher, &c., from Christ, and are
therein the successors of the apostles to continue to the world's end,
(Matt, xxviii. 18-20,) then they have their power and authority in their
offices immediately from Christ, as the first receptacles thereof
themselves, and not from the Church as the first receptacle of it
herself. A successor hath jurisdiction from him from whom the
predecessor had his; otherwise he doth not truly succeed him.
Consequently the Church or community of the faithful cannot possibly be
the first receptacle of the power of church government from Christ.

3. What power is it that is committed to the body of the Church or
multitude of the faithful? Either it must be the power of order, or the
power of jurisdiction. But neither of these is allowed to the multitude
of the faithful by the Scriptures, (but appointed and appropriated to
select persons.) Not the power of order; for the whole multitude, and
everyone therein, neither can nor ought to intermeddle with any branches
of that power. 1. Not with preaching; all are not _apt to teach_, 1 Tim.
iii. 2, nor able to exhort and convince gainsayers, Tit. i. 9; all are
not gifted and duly qualified. Some are expressly prohibited _speaking
in the church_, 1 Cor. xiv. 34, 35, 1 Tim. ii. 12, Rev. ii. 20, and none
are _to preach, unless they be sent_, Rom. x. 15, nor _to take such
honor unto themselves unless they be called_, &c., Heb. v. 4, 5. Are all
and every one of the multitude of the faithful able to teach, exhort,
and convince? are they all sent to preach? are they all called of God?
&c. Nay, hath not Christ laid this task of authoritative preaching only
upon his own officers? Matt, xxviii. 18, 19. 2. Not with administration
of the sacraments; this and preaching are by one and the same commission
given to officers only, Matt, xxviii. 18-20; 1 Cor. xi. 23. 3. Nor to
ordain presbyters, or other officers. They may choose; but extraordinary
officers, or the presbytery of ordinary officers, ordain. Acts vi. 3, 5,
6: "Look ye out men--whom we may appoint." Compare also Acts xiv. 23; 1
Tim. iv. 14, and v. 22; Tit. iii. 5. So that the people's bare election
and approbation is no sufficient Scripture ordination of officers. Nor
is there one often thousand among the people that is in all points able
to try and judge of the sufficiency of preaching presbyters, for
tongues, arts, and soundness of judgment in divinity. Nor is the power
of jurisdiction in public admonition, excommunication, and absolution,
&c., allowed to the multitude. For all and every one of the multitude of
the faithful, 1. Never had any such power given to them from Christ;
this key as well as the key of knowledge being given to the officers of
the Church only, Matt. xvi. 19, and xviii. 18-20. _Tell the church_,
there, must needs be meant of the ruling church only.[38] 2 Cor. viii.
10; John xx. 21-23. 2. Never acted or executed any such power, that we
can find in Scripture. As for that which is primarily urged of the
church of Corinth, that the whole church did excommunicate the
_incestuous person_, 1 Cor. v. 4, &c., many things may be answered to
evince the contrary. 1st, The whole multitude could not do it; for
children could not judge, and women must not speak in the Church. 2d, It
is not said, _Sufficient to such an one is the rebuke inflicted of all_;
but _of many_, 2 Cor. ii. 6, viz. of the presbytery, which consisted of
many officers. 3d, The church of Corinth, wherein this censure was
inflicted, was not a congregational, but a presbyterial church, having
divers particular congregations in it, (as is hereafter cleared in Chap.
XXIII.,) and therefore the whole multitude of the church of Corinth
could not meet together in one place for this censure, but only the
presbytery of that great church. Again, never did the whole multitude
receive from Christ due gifts and qualifications for the exercise of
church government and jurisdiction; nor any promise from Christ to be
with them therein, as officers have, Matt, xxviii. 18-20. And the
absurdities of such popular government are intolerable, as after will

4. Finally, in what sense can it be imagined that any such power should
be committed from Christ to the community of the faithful, the whole
body of the Church? For this power is given them equally with the
church-guides, or unequally. If equally, then,.1. The church-guides have
power and authority, as primarily and immediately committed to them, as
the Church herself hath; and then they need not derive or borrow any
power from the body of the faithful, having a power equal to theirs. 2.
How vainly is that power equally given as to the officers, so to the
whole multitude, when the whole multitude have no equal gifts and
abilities to execute the same! If unequally, then this power is derived
to the church-guides, either more or less than to the multitude of the
faithful. If less, then how improperly were all those names of rule and
government imposed upon officers, which nowhere are given by Scripture
to the multitude! as _Pastors_, Eph. iv. 8, 11. _Elders_, 1 Tim. v. 17.
_Overseers_, Acts xx. 28. _Guides_, Heb. xiii. 7, 17, 22. In this last
verse they are contradistinguished from the saints; church-guides, and
saints guided, make up a visible organical church. _Rulers in the Lord_,
1 Thes. v. 12; Rom. xii. 8: and _well-ruling Elders_, 1 Tim. v. 17.
_Governments_, 1 Cor. xii. 28. _Stewards_, 1 Cor. iv. 1,2; Luke xii. 42,
&c. And all these titles have power and rule engraven in their very
foreheads; and they of right belonged rather to the multitude than to
the officers, if the officers derive their power from the multitude of
the people. If more, then church-guides, having more power than the
Church, need not derive any from the Church, being themselves better

Thus, what way soever we look, it cannot be evinced, that the multitude
and body of the people, with or without eldership, are the first subject
of power, or have any authoritative public official power at all, from
any grant, mandate, or commission of Christ. From all which we may
strongly conclude,

Therefore Jesus Christ our Mediator hath not made the community of the
faithful, or body of the people, the immediate receptacle, or first
subject of proper formal power for governing of his church.

_Argum_. II. As the multitude of the faithful have no authentic grant or
commission of such power of the keys in the Church; so they have no
divine warrant for the actual execution of the power of the said keys
therein: and therefore cannot be the first receptacle of the power of
the keys from Christ. For thus we may reason:

_Major_. Whosoever are the first subject, or immediate receptacle of the
power of the keys from Christ, they have divine warrant actually to
exercise and put in execution the said power. _Minor_. But the
multitude or community of the faithful have no divine warrant actually
to exercise and put in execution the power of the keys.

_Conclusion_. Therefore the community of the faithful are not the first
subject, or immediate receptacle of the power of the keys from Jesus

The major proposition must necessarily be yielded. For, 1. The power of
the keys contains both authority and exercise; power being given to that
end that it may be exercised for the benefit of the Church. It is called
the _power given us for edification_, 2 Cor. viii. 10. Where there is no
exercise of power there can be no edification by power. 2. Both the
authority and complete exercise of all that authority, were at once and
together communicated from Christ to the receptacle of power. "I give
unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt
bind on earth," &c., Matt. xvi. 19, and xviii. 18. "As my Father sent
me, so send I you--whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted," John
xx. 21, 23. Here is both power and the exercise thereof joined together
in the same commission. Yea, so individual and inseparable are power and
exercise, that under exercise, power and authority is derived: as, "Go,
disciple ye all nations, baptizing them," &c., Matt. xxviii. 18, 19. 3.
How vain, idle, impertinent, and ridiculous is it to fancy and dream of
such a power as shall never be drawn into act by them that have it!

The minor proposition, viz. But the multitude or communion of the
faithful have no divine warrant, actually to exercise and put in
execution the power of the keys, is clear also:

1. By reason: for, the actual execution of this power belongs to them by
divine warrant, either when they have church officers, or when they want
church officers. Not while they have officers; for, that were to slight
Christ's officers: that were to take officers' work out of their hands
by them that are no officers, and when there were no urgent necessity;
contrary whereunto, see the proofs, Chap. XI. Section 2, that were to
prejudice the church, in depriving her of the greater gifts, and
undoubtedly authorized labors of her officers, &c. Not when they want
officers in a constituted church: as in case where there are three or
four elders, the pastor dies, two of the ruling elders fall sick, or the
like; in such cases the community cannot by divine warrant supply the
defects of these officers themselves, by exercising their power, or
executing their offices. For where doth Scripture allow such power to
the community in such cases? What one church without its eldership can
be instanced in the New Testament, that in such cases once presumed to
exercise such power, which might be precedent or example for it to
other churches? How needless are church officers, if the multitude of
the faithful may, as members of the church, take up their office, and
actually discharge it in all the parts of it?

2. By induction of particulars, it is evident, that the community cannot
execute the power of the keys by any divine warrant. 1. _They may not
preach_: for, "how shall they preach, except they be sent?" Rom. x. 15;
but the community cannot he sent, many of them being incapable of the
office, either by reason of their _sex_, 1 Cor. xiv. 34, 35; 1 Tim. ii.
11, 12: or by reason of their _age_; as children, and all or most of
them by reason of their deficiency in gifts and in scripture
qualifications, Tit. i. and 1 Tim. iii. For not one member of a thousand
is so completely furnished, as to be "apt to teach, able to convince
gainsayers, and to divide the word of truth aright." Besides, they may
not send themselves, were they capable, for, _no man takes this honor to
himself_--Yea, _Jesus Christ himself did not glorify himself to be made
an high-priest_--Heb. v. 4, 5. Now only officers are sent to preach,
Matt. xvi. 19, and xviii. 19, 20; Mark xvi. 15. 2. They may not
administer the seals, the sacraments, baptize, &c. under the New
Testament; for who gave the people any such authority? hath not Christ
conjoined preaching and dispensing of the sacraments in the same
commission, that the same persons only that do the one, may do the
other? Matt. xxviii. 18, 19. 3. They may not ordain officers in the
church, and authoritatively send them abroad: for, ordinarily the
community have not sufficient qualifications and abilities for proving
and examining of men's gifts for the ministry. The community are nowhere
commanded or allowed so to do in the whole New Testament, but other
persons distinct from them, 1 Tim. v. 22; 2 Tim. ii. 2; Tit. i. 5, &c.
Nor did the community ever exercise or assume to themselves any such
power of ordination or mission, but only officers both in the first
sending of men to preach, as 1 Tim. iv. 14; 2 Tim. i. 6: and to be
deacons, Acts vi. 6, and also in after missions, as Acts xiii. 1-3. 4.
The community, without officers, may not exercise any act of
jurisdiction authoritatively and properly; may not admonish,
excommunicate, or absolve. For we have no precept that they should do
it; we have no example in all the New Testament that they ever did do
it; we have both precept and example, that select officers both did and
ought to do it. "Whatsoever ye bind on earth" (saith Christ to his
officers) "shall be bound in heaven," &c. Matt. xviii. 18, and xvi. 19.
"Whose soever sins ye remit," &c., John xx. 21, 23. "An heretic, after
once or twice admonition, reject," Tit. i. 10. "I have decreed--to
deliver such an one to Satan," 1 Cor. v. 4. "The rebuke inflicted by
many," not all, 2 Cor. ii. "Whom I have delivered to Satan," 1 Tim. i.
_ult_. And the Scriptures nowhere set the community over themselves to
be their own church-guides and governors; but appoint over them in the
Lord rulers and officers distinct from the community. Compare these
places, 1 Thes. v. 12; Acts xx. 28, 29; Heb. xiii. 7, 17, 22. "Salute
all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints." From the
premises we conclude,

Therefore the community of the faithful are not the first subject, or
immediate receptacle of the power of the keys from Jesus Christ.

_Argum_. III. Jesus Christ hath not given nor promised to the community
of the faithful a spirit of ministry, nor those gifts which are
necessary for the government of the church: therefore the community was
never intended to be the first subject of church government.

_Major_. Whomsoever Christ makes the first subject of the power of
church government, to them he promises and gives a spirit of ministry,
and gifts necessary for that government. For, 1. As there is diversity
of ecclesiastical administrations (which is the foundation of diversity
of officers) and diversity of miraculous operations, and both for the
profit of the Church; so there is conveyed from the Spirit of Christ
diversity of gifts, free endowments, enabling and qualifying for the
actual discharge of those administrations and operations. See 1 Cor.
xii. 4-7, &c. 2. What instance can be given throughout the whole New
Testament of any persons, whom Christ made the receptacle of church
government, but withal he gifted them, and made his promises to them, to
qualify them for such government? As the apostles and their successors:
"As my Father sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he
breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose
soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins
ye retain, they are retained," John xx. 21-23. And, "Go ye therefore,
and disciple ye all nations, &c.--And lo, I am with you alway," (or
every day,) "even to the end of the world," Matt. xxviii. 19, 20. 3.
Christ being the _wisdom of the Father_, Col. ii. 3, John i. 18, and
_faithful as was Moses in all his house_; yea, _more faithful_--_Moses
as a servant_ over another's, he _as a son over his own house_, Heb.
iii. 2, 5, 6--it cannot stand with his most exact wisdom and fidelity,
to commit the grand affairs of church government to such as are not duly
gifted, and sufficiently qualified by himself for the due discharge

_Minor_. But Christ neither promises, nor gives a spirit of ministry,
nor necessary gifts for church government to the community of the
faithful. For, 1. The Scriptures teach, that gifts for ministry and
government are promised and bestowed not on all, but upon some
particular persons only in the visible body of Christ. "To one is given
by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge,"
&c., not to all, 1 Cor. xii. 8, 9, &c. "If a man know not how to rule
his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" 1 Tim. iii.
5. The hypothesis insinuates that all men have not gifts and skill
rightly to rule their own houses, much less to govern the church. 2.
Experience tells us, that the multitude of the people are generally
destitute of such knowledge, wisdom, prudence, learning, and other
necessary qualifications for the right carrying on of church government.

_Conclusion_. Therefore Christ makes not the community of the faithful
the first subject of the power of church government.

_Argum_. IV. The community of the faithful are nowhere in the word
called or acknowledged to be church governors: therefore they are not
the first subject of church government.

_Major_. Those persons, who are the first subject and receptacle of
proper power for church government from Christ, are in the word called
and acknowledged to be church governors. This is evident, 1. By
Scripture, which is wont to give to them whom Christ intrusts with his
government, such names and titles as have rule, authority, and
government engraven upon them: as _overseers_, Acts xx. 28;
_governments_, 1 Cor. xii. 28; _rulers_, 1 Tim. v. 17, and Rom. xii. 8;
with divers others, as after will appear in Chap. XI. 2. By reason,
which tells us that government and governors are relative terms; and
therefore to whom government belongs, to them also the denominations of
governors, rulers, &c., do belong, and not contrariwise.

_Minor_. But the community of the faithful are nowhere in the word
either called or acknowledged to be church governors. This is clear.
For, 1. No titles or names are given them by Scripture which imply any
rule or government in the visible Church of Christ. 2. They are plainly
set in opposition against, and distinction from, church governors: they
are called the _flock_; these, _overseers_ set over them by the Holy
Ghost, Acts xx. 28: they, _the saints_; these _their rulers_, Heb. xiii.
22: these are _over them in the Lord_; and consequently they are _under
them in the Lord_, 1 Thes. v. 12. 3. The community of the faithful are
so far from being the subject of church government themselves, that they
are expressly charged by the word of Christ to _know, honor, obey_, and
_submit_, to other governors set over them, and distinct from
themselves. "Know them who are over you in the Lord," 1 Thes. v. 12.
"Let the well-ruling elders be counted worthy of double
honor; especially," &c., 1 Tim. v. 17. "Obey ye your rulers, and submit,
for they watch for your souls," Heb. xiii. 17.

_Conclusion_. Therefore the community of the faithful are not the first
subject and receptacle of proper power for church government.

_Argum_. V. This opinion of making the body of the Church, or community
of the faithful, the first subject and immediate receptacle of the keys
for the government of the Church, doth inevitably bring along with it
many intolerable absurdities. Therefore it is not to be granted. Thus we
may argue:

_Major_. That doctrine or opinion which draws after it unavoidably
divers intolerable absurdities, is an unsound and unwarrantable opinion.

_Minor_. But this doctrine or opinion that makes the whole community or
body of the Church to be the first subject and immediate receptacle of
the keys, draws after it unavoidable divers intolerable absurdities.

_Conclusion_. Therefore this doctrine or opinion that makes the whole
community or body of the Church to be the first subject, and immediate
receptacle of the keys, is an unsound and unwarrantable opinion.

The _Major_ is plain. For, 1. Though matters of religion be above
reason, yet are they not unreasonable, absurd, and directly contrary to
right reason. 2. The Scriptures condemn it as a great brand upon men,
that they are absurd or unreasonable; "Brethren, pray for us--that we
may be delivered from absurd and evil men," 2 Thes. iii. 2; and
therefore if absurd men be so culpable, absurdity, and unreasonableness
itself, which make them such, are much more culpable.

The _Minor_, viz. But this doctrine or opinion that makes the whole
community or body of the Church to be the first subject and immediate
receptacle of the keys, draws after it unavoidably divers intolerable
absurdities, will notably appear by an induction of particulars.

1. Hereby a clear foundation is laid for the rigid Brownist's confused
democracy, and abhorred anarchy. For, if the whole body of the people be
the first receptacle of the keys, then all church government and every
act thereof is in the whole body, and every member of that body a
governor, consequently every member of that body an officer. But this is
absurd; for if all be officers, where is the organical body? and if all
be governors, where are the governed? if all be eyes, where are the
feet? and if there be none governed, where is the government? it is
wholly resolved at last into mere democratical anarchy and confusion,
"but God is not the author of confusion," 1 Cor. xiv. 33. What an
absurdity were it, if in the body natural _all were an eye_, or _hand_!
for _where_ then _were the hearing, smelling_, &c.; _or if all were one
member, where were the body_? 1 Cor. xii. 17,19. So if in the family all
were masters, where were the household? where were the family
government? If in a city all were aldermen, where were the citizens?
where were the city government? If in a kingdom all were kings, where
were the subjects, the people, the commonalty, the commonwealth, or the
political government?

2. Hereby the community or whole body of the faithful, even to the
meanest member, are vested from Christ with full power and authority
actually to discharge and execute all acts of order and jurisdiction
without exception: e.g. To preach the word authoritatively, dispense the
sacraments, ordain their officers, admonish offenders, excommunicate the
obstinate and incorrigible, and absolve the penitent. For _the keys of
the kingdom of heaven_ comprehend all these acts jointly, Matt. xvi. 19,
and xviii. 18-20, with John xx. 21, 23: and to whom Christ in the New
Testament gives power to execute one of these acts, to them he gives
power to execute all; they are joined together, Matt, xviii. 19, (except
in such cases where himself gives a limitation of the power, as in the
case of the ruling elder, who is limited to ruling as contradistinct to
_laboring in the word and doctrine_, 1 Tim. v. 17.) Now what gross
absurdities ensue hereupon! For, 1. Then the weak as well as the strong,
the ignorant as well as the intelligent, the children as well as the
parents, yea, and the very women as well as the men, may preach,
dispense seals, ordain, admonish, excommunicate, absolve
authoritatively; (for they are all equally members of the body, one as
well as another, and therefore, as such, have all alike equal share in
the keys and exercise thereof:) viz. they that are not gifted for these
offices, shall discharge these offices; they that are not called nor
sent of God to officiate, (for God sends not all,) shall yet officiate
in the name of Christ without calling or sending, contrary to Rom. x.,
Heb. v. 4. They that want the common use of reason and discretion (as
children) shall have power to join in the highest acts of order and
jurisdiction: yea, they that are expressly prohibited _speaking in the
churches_, as the _women_, 1 Cor. xiv., 1 Tim. ii., shall yet have the
_keys of the kingdom of heaven_ hung at their girdles. 2. Then the
Church shall be the steward of Christ, and dispenser of the mysteries of
God authoritatively and properly. But if the whole Church be the
dispenser of the mysteries of God, what shall be the object of this
dispensation? Not the Church, for according to this opinion she is the
first subject dispensing; therefore it must be something distinct from
the Church, unto which the Church dispenseth; what shall this be? shall
it be another collateral church? then particular churches collateral may
take pastoral care one of another reciprocally, and the same churches be
both over and under one another; or shall it be those that are without
all churches? then the ordinances of the gospel, and the dispensation of
them, were not principally bestowed upon the Church and body of Christ
for the good thereof, (which is directly repugnant to the Scriptures,
Eph. iv. 8, 11-13;) but rather for them that are without. How shall the
men, who maintain the principle's of the Independents, clearly help
themselves out of these perplexing absurdities?

3. Hereby the body of the people (as Mr. Bayly well observes in his
Dissuasive, chap. ix. page 187) will be extremely unfitted for, and
unwarrantably taken off from the several duties that lie upon them in
point of conscience to discharge in their general and particular
callings, in spiritual and secular matters, on the Lord's days and on
their own days. For, if the ecclesiastical power be in all the people,
then all the people are judges, and at least have a negative voice in
all church matters. They cannot judge in any cause prudently and
conscientiously, till they have complete knowledge and information of
both the substantials and circumstantials of all those cases that are
brought before them; they must not judge blindly, or by an implicit
faith, &c., but by their own light. For all the people to have such full
information and knowledge of every cause, cannot but take up abundance
of time, (many of the people being slow of understanding and extremely
disposed to puzzle, distract, and confound one another in any business
to be transacted in common by them all.) If these matters of discipline
be managed by them on the sabbath day after the dispatch of other public
ordinances, ministry of the word, prayer, sacraments, &c., what time can
remain for family duties privately, as repeating sermons, and meditating
upon the word, searching the Scriptures, whether things preached be so
indeed, reading the Scriptures, catechizing their children and servants,
&c.? and how will the life of religion in families, yea, and in churches
also, languish, if these family exercises be not conscientiously upheld?
If they be managed on the week days, how can all the people spare so
much time, as still to be present, when perhaps many of them have much
ado all the week long to provide food and raiment, and other necessaries
for their families? and "if any provide not for his own, and specially
for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than
an infidel," 1 Tim. v. 8. Let the case of the church of Arnheim[39]
witness the mischief and absurdity of this popular government once for

4. Hereby, finally, the community of the faithful (being accounted the
proper subject of the power of the keys) have authority and power not
only to elect, but also to ordain their own officers, their pastors and
teachers. And this they of the independent judgment plainly confess in
these words:[40] Though the office of a pastor in general be immediately
from Christ, and the authority from him also, yet the application of
this office, and of this authority to this elect person, is by the
church; and therefore the church hath sufficient and just warrant, as to
elect and call a presbyter unto an office, so to ordain him to it by
imposition of hands. They that have power to elect a king, have power
also to depute some in their name to set the crown upon his head. But
for the whole church or community to ordain presbyters by imposition of
hands, is very absurd. For, 1. Their women and children, being members
of the church and of the community, may join in ordaining presbyters by
imposing of hands, and have as great an influence in appointing them
that shall actually impose hands, as the rest of the church members
have, being as properly members as they. 2. Then the community, that
generally are unable to judge of the fitness and sufficiency of
presbyters for the pastoral office, in point of necessary gifts of
learning, &c., shall, without judicious satisfaction herein by previous
examination, ordain men notwithstanding to the highest ordinary office
in the church. How ignorantly, how doubtfully, how irregularly, how
unwarrantably, let the reader judge. 3. Then the community of the
faithful may assume to themselves power to execute this ordinary act of
ordination of officers, without all precept of Christ or his apostles,
and without all warrant of the apostolical churches. But how absurd
these things be, each moderate capacity may conceive. Further
absurdities hereupon are declared by Mr. Bain,[41] and after him by Mr.

Whence we may justly conclude,

Therefore this doctrine or opinion, that makes the whole community or
body of the church to be the first subject and immediate receptacle of
the keys, is an unsound and unwarrantable opinion.

The middle-way men, (that profess to go between the authoritative
presbyterial, and the rigid Brownistical way,) seeing these and such
like absurdities, upon which the Brownists inevitably dash themselves,
think to salve all by their new-coined distinction of the keys; viz. 1.
There is a key of faith or knowledge, Luke xi. 52. The first subject of
this key is every believer, whether joined to any particular church or
not. 2. There is a key of order, Col. ii. 5, which is either, 1. A key
of interest, power, or liberty, Gal. v. 13, which key is of a more large
nature; 2. A key of rule and authority, which is of more strict nature,
Matt. xvi. 19, John xx. 23. Hence, upon this distinction premised, they
thus infer, 1. A particular congregation of saints is the first subject
of all the church offices with all their spiritual gifts and power, 1
Cor. iii. 22. 2. The apostles of Christ were the first subject of
apostolical power. 3. The brethren of a particular congregation are the
first subjects of church liberty. 4. The elders of a particular church
are the first subjects of church authority. 5. Both the elders and
brethren, walking and joining together in truth and peace, are the first
subjects of all church power needful to be exercised in their own body.

_Answer_. A rotten foundation, and a tottering superstruction, which
tumbles down upon the builders' own heads: for,

1. This distribution of the keys is infirm in divers respects: e.g. 1.
In that the key of knowledge (as it stands here distinguished from the
key of order, comprehending the key of power and authority) is left
utterly devoid of all power. Now no key of the kingdom of heaven is to
be left without all power, Independents themselves being judges. 2. In
that the key of power is left as utterly void of all authority, (being
contradistinguished from the key of authority,) as the key of knowledge
is left void of power. Now, power and authority, in matters of
government, seem to be both one; and the word in the original signifies
the one as well as the other. 3. The key of liberty or interest is a new
key, lately forged by some new locksmiths in Separation-shop, to be a
pick-lock of the power of church officers, and to open the door for
popular government; no ordinance of Christ, but a mere human invention,
(as will after appear upon examination of that scripture upon which it
is grounded,) and therefore this limb of the distribution is redundant,
a superfluous excrescence. 4. The texts of Scripture upon which this
distribution of the keys is grounded, are divers of them abused, or at
least grossly mistaken; for, Luke xi. 52, key of knowledge is
interpreted only the key of saving faith. But knowledge, in strict
speaking, is one thing, and faith another; there may be knowledge where
there is no faith; and knowledge, in a sort, is a key to faith, as the
inlet thereof. And the key of knowledge, viz. true doctrine and pure
preaching of the word, is a distinct thing from knowledge itself. This
key the lawyers had taken away by not interpreting, or misinterpreting
of the law; but they could not take away the people's faith, or
knowledge itself. Touching Col. ii. 5, 6, _your order_, it will be hard
to prove this was only or chiefly intended of the keys delivered to
Peter: doth it not rather denote the people's moral orderly walking,
according to the rule of faith and life, as in other duties, so in
submitting themselves to Christ's order of government, as is elsewhere
required, Heb. xiii. 17? And as for Gal. v. 13, produced to prove the
key of liberty, _Brethren, you have been called unto liberty_, there is
too much liberty taken in wresting this text; for the apostle here
speaks not of liberty as a church power, of choosing officers, joining
in censures, &c., but as a gospel privilege, consisting in freedom from
the ceremonial law, that yoke of bondage, which false teachers would
have imposed upon them, after Christ had broken it off; as will further
appear, if you please with this text to compare Gal. v. 1, 11, 15, 10,
and well consider the current of the whole context.

2. The inferences upon this distribution of the keys premised, are very
strange and untheological. For it may be accepted in general, that it is
a groundless fancy to make several first subjects of the keys, according
to the several distributions of the keys; for, had all the members of
the distribution been good, yet this inference thereupon is naught,
inasmuch as the Scripture tells us plainly, that all the keys together
and at once were promised to Peter, Matt. xvi. 19, and given to the
apostles, Matt, xviii. 18, 19, with xxviii. 18-20, and John xx. 21-23;
so that originally the apostles and their successors were the only first
subject and immediate receptacle of all the keys from Christ. And though
since, for assistance and case of the pastor, they are divided into more
hands--viz. of the ruling elder, Rom. xii. 8; 1 Cor. xii. 28; 1 Tim. v.
17--yet originally the subject was but one. Further, here is just ground
for many particular exceptions: as, 1. That every believer, whether
joined to any particular church or not, is made the first subject of the
key of knowledge, which seems to be extremely absurd: for then every
particular believer, gifted or ungifted, strong or weak, man, woman, or
child, hath power to preach, (taking the key of knowledge here for the
key of doctrine, as it ought to be taken, or else it is no
ecclesiastical key at all,) which is one of the highest offices, and
which the great apostle said, "Who is sufficient for these things?" 2
Cor. ii. 16. How unscriptural and irrational this is, all may judge.
Then also some of the keys may be committed to such as are without the
Church. Then finally, it is possible to be a believer, and yet in no
visible church; (for Independents hold there is no church but a
particular congregation, which is their only church:) but a man is no
sooner a true believer, but he is a member of the invisible Church: he
is no sooner a professed believer, but he is a member of the general
visible Church, though he be joined to no particular congregation. 2.
That a particular congregation of saints is made the first subject of
all the church offices, with all their spiritual gifts and power, 1 Cor.
iii. 22. But is the word subject used here properly, for the first
subject recipient of all church offices, with all their gifts and power?
Then the congregation of saints are either officers themselves formally,
and can execute the function of all sorts of officers, and have all
gifts to that end; what need then is there of any select officers? for
they can make officers virtually, and furnish those officers with gifts
and power to that end; but who gave them any such authority? Or what
apostolical church ever assumed to themselves any such thing? Officers,
not churches, are the first subject of such gifts and power. Is the word
subject here used improperly, for object, whose good all offices with
their gifts and power are given? Then not any particular congregation,
but the whole general visible Church is the object for which all offices
and officers with their gifts and power are primarily given, 1 Cor. xii.
28; Eph. iv. 8, 11, 12. As for that place, 1 Cor. iii. 22, "All is
yours," &c., it points not out the particular privilege of any one
single congregation, (nor was the church of Corinth such, but
presbyterial, see chap. XIII.,) but the general privilege of all true
saints, and of the invisible mystical Church: for were Paul and Cephas
apostles given peculiarly to the church of Corinth only? Or was the
_world, life, death, things present and to come_, given to the wicked in
the church of Corinth? 3. That the apostles are made the first subject
of all apostolical power. But then, how doth this contradict the former
assertion, that a particular congregation is the first subject of all
offices with their gifts and power? Are there two first subjects of the
same adjuncts? Or is apostleship no office? Are apostolical gifts no
gifts, or power no power? or have apostles all from the Church?
Doubtless apostles were before all Christian churches, and had the keys
given them before the churches had their being. 4. That the brethren of
a particular congregation are made the first subjects of church liberty.
But, if that liberty be power and authority, then this evidently
contradicts the former, that a particular congregation is the first
subject of all offices and power; for brethren here are distinct from
elders, and both do but make up a particular congregation. If liberty
here be not power, then it is none of Christ's keys, but a new forged
pick-lock. 5. That the elders of a particular church are made the first
subject of church authority; but then here is a contradiction to the
former position, that made the particular congregation the first subject
of all power. And though apostles and elders be the first subject of
authority, yet, when the keys  were first committed to them, they were
not in relation to any particular church, but to the general. 6.
Finally, that both elders and brethren, walking and joining together in
truth and peace, are the first subjects of all church power, is liable
also to exception. For this joins the brethren (who indeed have no
authoritative power at all) with the elders, as the joint subject of all
power. And this but allowed to them walking and joining together in
truth and peace: but what if the major part of the Church prove
heretical, and so walk not in truth; or schismatical, and so walk not in
peace, shall the elders and the non-offending party lose all their
power? Where then shall that independent church find healing? for
appeals to presbyteries and synods are counted apocryphal by them. But
enough hath been said to detect the vanity of these new dreams and
notions; it is a bad sore that must be wrapped in so many clouts.[43]


_Of the proper Receptacle, or immediate subject of the Power of Church
Government: affirmatively, what it is, viz. Christ's own Officers._

Thus the proper receptacle or subject of ecclesiastical power hath been
considered negatively, what it is not, viz: not the political
magistrate, nor yet the community of the faithful, or body of the
people, with or without their eldership. Now this receptacle of power
comes to be evidenced affirmatively, what it is, viz. (according to the
express words of the description of government,) Christ's own officers.
This is the last branch of the description, the divine right whereof
remains to be cleared; which may most satisfactorily be done by
evidencing these three things, viz: 1. That Jesus Christ our Mediator
hath certain peculiar church guides and officers which he hath erected
in his Church. 2. That Jesus Christ our Mediator hath especially
intrusted his own officers with the government of his Church. 3. How, or
in what sense the ruling officers are intrusted with this government,
severally or jointly?


1. _Of the Divine Right of Christ's Church Officers, viz. Pastors and
Teachers, with Ruling Elders._

Touching the first, that Christ hath certain peculiar church guides and
officers, which he hath erected in his Church. Take it thus:

Jesus Christ our Mediator hath ordained and set in his Church (besides
the apostles and other extraordinary officers that are now ceased)
pastors and teachers, as also ruling elders, as the subject of the keys
for all ordinary ecclesiastical administrations. The divine right of
these ordinary church officers may appear as followeth:

I. Pastors and teachers are the ordinance of Jesus Christ. This is
generally granted on all sides; and therefore these few particulars may
suffice for the demonstration of it, viz:

1. They are enumerated in the list or catalogue of those church officers
which are of divine institution. "God hath set" (or put, constituted)
"some in the Church, first, apostles; secondarily, prophets; thirdly,
teachers," 1 Cor. xii. 28. These are some of the triumphant gifts and
trophies of Christ's ascension: "Ascending up on high, he led captivity
captive, and gave gifts to men: and he gave some apostles, and some
prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers," Eph. iv.
8, 11. Thus in that exact roll of ordinary officers: "Having, therefore,
gifts different according to the grace given unto us; whether prophecy,
let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let
us wait on our ministry;" (here is the general distribution of all
ordinary officers under two heads, _prophecy_ and _ministry_:) "or he
that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation," (here
is the teacher and the pastor, that come under the first head of
prophecy,) Rom. xii. 6-8. "Take heed to yourselves, and to all the
flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made" (or set) "you overseers,"
Acts xx. 28. Note--God hath set in the Church; Christ hath given for his
body; the Holy Ghost hath made overseers over the flock, these pastors
and teachers: and are not pastors and teachers church officers by divine
right, having the authority of God, Christ, and of the Holy Ghost?

2. They are to be thus and thus qualified according to divine direction.
The qualifications of these pastors and teachers, (called presbyters and
overseers,) see in 1 Tim. iii. 2-8, "An overseer," or bishop, "must be
blameless," &c.; and Tit. i. 5-10, "To ordain presbyters," or elders,
"in every city--If any be blameless," &c. Now, where God lays down
qualifications for pastors and teachers, there he approves such officers
to be his own ordinance.

3. They have manifold church employments committed to them from Christ,
as ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God, (1 Cor. iv.
1, 2,) they being intrusted in whole or in part with the managing of
most if not all the ordinances forementioned in part 2, chap. VII., as
there by the texts alleged is evident. Matters of order and special
office are committed to them only _divisim_: matters of jurisdiction are
committed to them with ruling elders _conjunctim_. If Christ hath
intrusted them thus with church ordinances, and the dispensing of them,
sure they are Christ's church officers.

4. The very names and titles given them in Scripture proclaim them to be
Christ's own ordinance; among many take these: "Ministers of Christ," 1
Cor. iv. 1; "Stewards of the mysteries of God," 1 Cor. iv. 1;
"Ambassadors for Christ," 2 Cor. v. 20; "Laborers thrust forth into his
harvest by the Lord of the harvest," Matt. ix. 38; "Ruling over you in
the Lord,"[44] 1 Thess. v. 12.

5. The Lord Christ charges their flock and people with many duties to be
performed to their pastors and teachers, because of their office; as to
know them, love them, obey them, submit unto them, honor them, maintain
them, &c., which he would not do were they not his own ordinance. "But
we beseech you, brethren, to know them that labor among you, and rule
over you in the Lord, and esteem them very highly in love for their
work's sake," 1 Thess. v. 12, 13. "Obey your rulers, and submit; for
they watch for your souls as those that must give an account," Heb.
xiii. 17. "The elders that rule well count worthy of double honor;
especially them that labor in the word and doctrine; _for the Scripture
saith_, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the
corn, and the laborer is worthy of his hire," 1 Tim. v. 17, 18; compared
With 1 Cor. ix. 6-15. "Let him that is catechized, communicate to him
that catechizeth him in all good things," Gal. vi. 6-8.

Thus much for the present may suffice to have been spoken touching the
divine right of pastors and teachers, the ordinary standing ministers of
Christ under the New Testament. But forasmuch as we observe that in
these days some rigid Erastians and Seekers oppose and deny the very
office of the ministry now under the gospel, and others profess that the
ministry of the church of England is false and antichristian; we
intend, (by God's assistance,) as soon as we can rid our hands from
other pressing employments, to endeavor the asserting and vindicating of
the divine right of the ministers of the New Testament in general, and
of the truth of the ministry of the church of England in particular.

II. Ruling elders, distinct from all preaching elders and deacons, are a
divine ordinance in the Church of God now under the New Testament.

The divine right of this church officer, the mere ruling elder, is much
questioned and doubted by some, because they find not the Scriptures
speaking so fully and clearly of the ruling elder as of the preaching
elder and of the deacon. By others it is flatly denied and opposed, as
by divers that adhere too tenaciously to the Erastian and prelatical
principles: who yet are willing to account the assistance of the ruling
elder in matter of church government to be a very prudential way. But if
mere prudence be counted once a sufficient foundation for a distinct
kind of church officer, we shall open a door for invention of church
officers at pleasure; then welcome commissioners and committee men, &c.;
yea, then let us return to the vomit, and resume prelates, deans,
archdeacons, chancellors, officials, &c., for church officers. And where
shall we stop? who but Christ Jesus himself can establish new officers
in his church? Is it not the fruit of his ascension, &c.? Eph. iv. 7,
11, 12. Certainly if the Scriptures lay not before us grounds more than
prudential for the ruling elder, it were better never to have mere
ruling elders in the church. Both the Presbyterians and Independents[45]
acknowledge the divine right of the ruling elder. For satisfaction of
doubting unprejudiced minds, (to omit divers considerations that might
be produced,) the divine right of the ruling elder may be evinced by
these ensuing arguments.

_Argum_. I. The first argument for the divine right of the ruling elder
in the Church of Christ, shall be drawn from Rom. xii. 6-8: "Having,
then, gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us,
whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
or ministry, _let us wait_ on our ministering; or he that teacheth, on
teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation; he that giveth, _let him
do it_ with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence," &c. Let the
scope and context of this chapter be a little viewed, and it will make
way for the more clear arguing from this place. Briefly thus: The
apostle having finished the principal part of his epistle, which was
problematical, wherein he disputed--1. About justification, chap,
i.-vi.; 2. Sanctification, chap. vi. 7, 8; and, 3. Predestination, chap.
ix. 10, 11, he comes to the next branch, which is more practical, about
good works, chap. xii.-xvi. This twelfth chapter is wholly in the way of
exhortation, and he herein exhorts to divers duties. 1. More generally
that we should even consecrate ourselves wholly to the service of God,
ver. 1; that we should not conform to the world, ver. 2. More specially
he descends to particular duties, which are of two sorts, viz: 1. Such
as concern ecclesiastical officers as officers, ver. 3-9; 2. Such as
concern all Christians in common as Christians, both towards one another
and towards their very enemies, verse 9, to the end of the chapter.
Touching ecclesiastical officers, the apostle's evident scope is to urge
them not to be proud of their spiritual gifts, (which in those days
abounded,) but to think soberly, self-denyingly of themselves, and to
use all their gifts well. This he presseth upon them, 1. From the nature
of the Church, which is as a natural organical body, wherein are many
members, having their several offices for the good of the whole body; so
the members of Christ's body being many, have their several gifts and
offices for the good of the whole, that the superior should not despise
the inferior, nor the inferior envy their superior, ver. 3-5. 2. From
the distribution or enumeration of the several kinds of ordinary
standing officers in this organical body, the Church, who are severally
exhorted duly to discharge those duties that are specially required of
them in their several functions, ver. 6-8. These officers are reduced
first to two general heads, viz: Prophecy (understand not the
extraordinary gift of foretelling future things, &c., but the ordinary,
in the right understanding and interpreting of Scripture) and ministry;
and the general duties thereof are annexed, ver. 6, 7. Then these
generals are subdivided into the special offices contained under them,
the special duty of every officer being severally pressed upon them.
Under prophecy are contained, 1. _He that teacheth_, i.e., the doctor or
teacher; 2. _He that exhorteth_, i.e., the pastor, ver. 7, 8. Under
ministry are comprised, 1. _He that giveth_, i.e., the deacon; 2. _He
that ruleth_, i.e., the ruling elder. The current of our best
interpreters to this effect resolve this context. So that here we have a
very excellent and perfect enumeration of all the ordinary standing
officers in the Church of Christ distinctly laid down. This premised,
the argument for the divine right of the ruling elder may be thus

_Major_. Whatsoever members of Christ's organical body have an ordinary
office of ruling therein given them of God, distinct from all other
ordinary standing officers in the church, together with directions from
God how they are to rule; they are the ruling elders we seek, and that
by divine right.

_Minor_. But _he that ruleth_, mentioned in Rom. xii. 8, is a member of
Christ's organical body, having an ordinary office of ruling therein
given him of God, distinct from all other standing officers in the
church, together with direction how he is to rule.

_Conclusion_. Therefore he that ruleth, mentioned in Rom. xii. 8, is the
ruling elder we seek, and that by divine right.

The major proposition is clear. For in the particulars of it, well
compared together, are observable both a plain delineation or
description of the ruling elder's office; and also a firm foundation for
the divine right of that office. The ruling elder's office is described
and delineated by these several clauses, which set out so many
requisites for the making up of a ruling elder, viz: 1. He must be a
member of Christ's organical body. Such as are without, pagans,
heathens, infidels, &c., out of the Church, they are not fit objects for
church government, to have it exercised by the Church upon them; the
Church only judges them that are within, (1 Cor. v. 12, 13,) much less
can they be fit subjects of church government to exercise it themselves
within the Church. How shall they be officers in the Church that are not
so much as members of the Church? Besides, such as are only members of
the invisible body of Christ, as the glorified saints in heaven, they
cannot be officers in the Church; for not the Church invisible, but only
the Church or body of Christ visible is organical. So that every church
officer must first be a Church member, a member of the visible organical
body: consequently a ruling elder must be such a member. 2. He must have
an office of ruling in this body of Christ. Membership is not enough,
unless that power of rule be superadded thereto; for the whole office of
the ruling elder is contained in the matter of rule; take away rule, you
destroy the very office. Now, rule belongs not to every member: "Salute
all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints," Heb. xiii.
24, where rulers and saints are made contradistinct to one another. In
the body natural all the members are not eyes, hands, &c., governing the
body, some are rather governed; so in the body of Christ, 1 Cor. xii. 3.
This his office of ruling must be an ordinary office; apostles had some
power that was extraordinary, as their apostleship was extraordinary;
but when we seek for this ruling elder, we seek for a fixed, standing,
ordinary officer ruling in the church. 4. All that is not enough, that
he be a member of the church, that he have an office of rule in the
church, and that office also be ordinary; but besides all these it is
necessary that he be also distinct from all other standing officers in
the church, viz. from pastors, teachers, deacons; else all the former
will not make up a peculiar kind of officer, if in all points he fully
agree with any of the said three. But if there can be found such an
officer in whom all these four requisites do meet, viz: That, 1. Is a
member of Christ's organical body; 2. Hath an office of rule therein; 3,
That office is ordinary; and, 4. That ordinary office is distinct from
all other ordinary standing offices in the church; this must unavoidably
be that very ruling elder which we inquire after. By this it is evident,
that in this proposition here is a plain and clear delineation of the
ruling elder's office. Now, in the next place, touching the foundation
for the divine right of this office; it also is notably expressed in the
same proposition, while it presupposeth, 1. That God is the giver of
this office; 2. That God is the guider of this office. For whatsoever
office or officer God gives for his Church, and having given it, guides
and directs to the right discharge thereof, that must needs be of divine
right beyond all contradiction. Thus this proposition is firm and
cogent. Now let us assume:

_Minor_. But _he that ruleth_, mentioned in Rom. xii. 8, is a member of
Christ's organical body, having an ordinary office of ruling therein,
given him of God, distinct from all other ordinary standing officers in
the church, together with direction from God how he is to rule.

This assumption or minor proposition (whereon the main stress of the
argument doth lie) may be thus evidenced by parts, from this context:

_He that ruleth_ is a member of Christ's organical body. For, 1. The
Church of Christ is here compared to a body, _We being many are one body
in Christ_, ver. 5. 2. This body is declared to be organical, i.e.
consisting of several members, that have their several offices in the
body, some of teaching, some of exhorting, and some of ruling, &c. "For
as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same
office, so we being many are one body in Christ, and every one members
one of another," &c., ver. 4-6, &c. 3. Among the rest of the members of
this body, _he that ruleth_ is reckoned up for one, ver. 5-8; this is
palpably evident.

_He that ruleth_ hath an office of ruling in this body of Christ. For,
1. This word (translated) _he that ruleth_, in the proper signification
and use of it, both in the Scriptures and in other Greek authors, doth
signify one that ruleth authoritatively over another, (as hereafter is
manifested in the 3d argument, § 2.) 2. Our best interpreters and
commentators do render and expound the word generally to this effect:
e.g. He that is over[46]--one set over[47]--he that stands in the head
or front[48]--as a captain or commander in the army, to which this
phrase seems to allude--_he that ruleth_. 3. This word, wherever it is
used in a genuine proper sense, in all the New Testament, notes rule, or
government. It is used metaphorically for taking care (as one set over
any business) of good works, only in two places, Tit. iii. 8, and iii.
14. Properly for government which superiors have over inferiors; and
that either domestical, in private families, so it is used in 1 Tim.
iii. 4, 5, 12, or ecclesiastical, in the church, which is the public
family of God; in this sense it is used, 1 Thes. v. 12, 1 Tim. v. 17,
and here, Rom. xii. 8, and these are all the places where this word is
found used in all the New Testament.

3. _He that ruleth_ here, hath an ordinary, not an extraordinary office
of rule in the church. For he is ranked and reckoned up in the list of
Christ's ordinary standing officers, that are constantly to continue in
the church, viz. pastors, teachers, deacons. Commonly this place is
interpreted to speak of the ordinary church officers, and none other;
consequently he that ruleth is such a one.

4. _He that ruleth_ here, is an officer distinct from all other ordinary
officers in the Church of Christ. For in this place we have a full
enumeration of all Christ's ordinary officers, and he that ruleth is a
distinct officer among them all. 1. Distinct in name, he only is called
_he that ruleth_, the rest have every one of them their several distinct
name, ver. 7, 8. 2. Distinct in his work here appropriated to him; the
doctor teacheth; the pastor exhorteth; the deacon giveth; this elder
_ruleth_, as the very name signifieth, ver. 8. Compare 1 Tim. v. 17, 1
Cor. xii. 28. As the elder ruleth, so he is distinct from the deacon
that hath no rule in the church; and as he only rules, so he is distinct
from both pastor and teacher, that both teach, exhort, and rule; they
both have power of order and jurisdiction, the ruling elder hath only
power of jurisdiction. 3. Finally, he is distinct among and from them
all in the particular direction here given these officers about the
right discharge of their functions. The teacher must be exercised _in
teaching_; the pastor _in exhortation_; the deacon must _give with
singleness_; and the elder, he must _rule with diligence, studiousness_,
&c. Now what other solid reason can be imagined, why _he that ruleth_
should here have a distinct name, distinct work and employment, and
distinct direction how to manage this work, than this, that the Holy
Ghost might set him out unto us as an ordinary officer in the church,
distinct from all the other standing officers here enumerated?

5. God himself is the author and giver of this office of him that
ruleth, as well as of all the other offices here mentioned. For, 1. All
gifts and endowments in the church in general, and in every member in
particular; they are from God, it is he that gives and divides them as
he will, _as God hath dealt to every one the measure of faith_, Rom.
xii. 3. 2. All the special offices, and gifts for these offices in
special, are also from the same God, _we having therefore gifts
according to the grace given unto us, differing; whether prophecy_, &c.,
Rom, xii. 6, 7, &c. Here it is plain that he distinguished betwixt grace
and gifts. By grace here we are to understand that holy office or charge
in the church, which is given to any man by the grace and favor of God.
And in this sense the apostle in this very chapter, ver. 3, useth the
word _grace: For I say through the grace given to me_, i.e. through the
authority of my apostleship, which by grace I have received, &c. By
gifts, we are to understand those endowments wherewith God hath freely
furnished his officers in the church for their several offices. Now both
these gifts and this grace, both the endowments and the office, are
originally from God, his grace is the fountain of them; and both the
grace of each office, and the gifts for such office, relate to all these
ordinary offices here enumerated, as is evident by the current and
connection of the whole context, see ver. 6-8; consequently the grace,
i.e. the office of ruling, which is of divine grace, and the gifts for
that office, arise from the same fountain, God himself.

6. Finally, God himself is the guider and director of him that ruleth,
here prescribing to him how he is to rule, viz. _with diligence, with
studiousness_, &c., ver. 8. Now we may receive this as a maxim, That of
divine right may be done, for which God gives his divine rule how it is
to be done: and that office must needs be of divine right, which God
himself so far approves as to direct in his word how it shall be

Now, to sum up all, he that ruleth here, 1. Is a member of Christ's
organical body. 2. Hath an office of ruling in this body. 3. This his
office is not extraordinary but ordinary, standing, and perpetual. 4. He
is an officer distinct from all other ordinary officers in the Church.
5. God himself is the giver and author of this office. 6. And God
himself is the guider and director of this office: and then see if we
may not clearly conclude,

_Conclusion_. Therefore, he that ruleth, mentioned in Rom. xii. 8, is
the ruling elder we seek, and that by divine right.

The adversaries of ruling elders muster up divers exceptions against the
alleging of Rom. xii. 8, for proof of the divine right of their office,
the weakness of which is to be discovered ere we pass to another
argument. _Except_. 1. This is an arguing from a general to a special
affirmatively. It doth not follow, because the apostle here in general
mentioneth him that ruleth, therefore in special it must be the ruling

_Ans_. This exception is the same with first exception against the
second argument hereafter laid down. There see. For the same answer
appositely and satisfactorily is applicable to both.

_Except_. 2. But the apostle here speaks of them that rule, but we have
nowhere received that such elders have rule over the church--and he
speaks of all that rule in the church, who therefore would wrest this
place only to elders? One cannot rightly attribute that word translated
_he that ruleth_ to elders only, which is common unto more. If these
elders he here meant, neither pastors nor teachers ought to rule, for
this word agrees no otherwise to him that ruleth, than the word of
exhorting to him that exhorteth.[50]

_Ans_. 1. That such elders rule in the church is evident, both by Rom.
xii. 8, where this word implies rule as hath been showed, and he that
ruleth is reckoned up amongst ordinary church officers, as hath been
said, therefore he rules in the church: these the apostle also calls
ruling elders, 1 Tim. v. 17, viz. officers in the church, and distinct
from them that labor in the word and doctrine; as in the third argument
will appear: yea, they are governments set of God in the church,
distinct from other officers, 1 Cor. xii. 28, as in the second argument
shall be evidenced: there see; therefore these elders have rule.

2. Though in this term the apostle speaks of him that ruleth, yet he
speaks not of every one that ruleth. For, 1. He speaks singularly, he
that ruleth, as of one kind of ruling officer; not plurally, they that
rule, as if he had indefinitely or universally meant all the ruling
officers in the church. 2. He reckons up here distinct kinds of ordinary
officers, pastors, teachers, elders, and deacons; and pastors and
teachers, besides laboring in the word, have power of rule, 1 Thes. v.
12, Heb. xiii. 7-17, and he that ruleth, here, is distinct from them
both; and therefore this term cannot mean all church rulers, but only
one kind, viz. the ruling elder.

3. Though this name, _he that ruleth_, be common unto more rulers in the
church, than to the mere ruling elder; yet it doth not therefore
necessarily follow, that it cannot here particularly point out only the
mere ruling elder, inasmuch, as _he that ruleth_, is not here set
alone, (for then this objection might have had some color,) but is
enumerated with other officers as distinct from them.

4. Though the ruling elder here be called _he that ruleth_, yet this
doth not exclude the pastor from ruling, no more than when the ordinary
ministers are called pastors and teachers, the apostles and evangelists
are excluded from feeding and teaching, in Eph. iv. 11, 12; 1 Cor. xii.
28. This elder is called, _he that ruleth_, not that there is no other
ruler than he, but because he doth no other thing but rule, others rule
and preach also.

_Except_. 3. If this were meant of such elders, then these elders were
as necessary to the church as pastors, being given to the church by the
like reason. Consequently where these elders are not, there is no
church; as there is no church where the word and sacraments are not.[51]

_Ans_. 1. According to this argument deacons are as necessary as either
pastors, teachers, or elders, and without deacons there should be no
church; for they are all enumerated here alike, Rom. xii. 7, 8, and in 1
Cor. xii. 28; but this would be absurd, and against experience. 2.
Though both pastors and ruling elders belong to the church by divine
right, yet doth it not follow that the ruling elder is equally as
necessary as the pastor. The ruling elder only rules, the pastor both
rules and preaches, therefore he is more necessary to the church. There
are degrees of necessity; some things are absolutely necessary to the
being of a church, as matter and form, viz. visible saints, and a due
profession of faith, and obedience to Christ, according to the gospel.
Thus it is possible a church may be, and yet want both deacons, elders,
and pastors too, yea, and word and sacraments for a time: some things
are only respectively necessary to the well-being of a church; thus
officers are necessary, yet some more than others, without which the
church is lame, defective, and miserably imperfect.

_Except_. 4. Should ruling elders here be meant, then deacons that obey,
should be preferred before the elders that rule.[52]

_Ans_. Priority of order is no infallible argument of priority of worth
and dignity; as is evidenced in answer to the third exception against
Arg. II.--there see; we find Priscilla a woman named before Aquila a
man, and her husband, Acts xviii. 18; Rom. xvi. 3; 1 Tim. iv. 19; is
therefore the woman preferred before the man? the wife before the
husband? And again, Aquila is set before Priscilla, Acts xviii. 2, 26, 1
Cor. xvi. 19, to let us see that the Holy Ghost indifferently speaks
of superior and inferior before one another.

_Except_. 5. But here the apostle speaketh of divers gifts and graces,
for so _differing gifts_ do import, not of divers offices: for then they
might not concur in one man, and consequently neither might the prophet
teach, nor exhort, nor the deacon distribute, nor show mercy. Many gifts
may be common in one man, many offices cannot;--which of these gifts in
the apostles' times was not common as well to the people as to the
pastors; and to women as well as to men? &c.[53]

_Ans_. Divers considerations may be propounded to discover the vanity of
this exception: chiefly take these three.

1. There is no sufficient reason in this exception, proving the apostle
here to speak only of divers gifts and graces, and not of divers offices
also. For, 1. This is not proved by that expression, _differing gifts_,
ver. 6, for these differing gifts are not here spoken of abstractly and
absolutely, without reference to their subjects, but relatively with
reference to their subjects wherein they are, viz. in the several
officers, ver. 7, 8, and therefore, as the apostle mentions the
_differing gifts_, so here he tells us in the same sixth verse, that we
have these "different gifts, according to the grace given unto us," i.e.
according to the office given unto us of God's grace, (as hath been
manifested,) after which immediately is subjoined an enumeration of
offices. 2. Nor is this proved by the inference made, upon the granting
that divers offices are here meant, viz. [Then they might not concur in
one man, the prophet might not teach nor exhort, &c.; many gifts may be
common in one man, many offices cannot.] For who is so little versed in
the Scriptures, but he knows that apostles, pastors, elders, deacons,
are distinct officers one from another; yet all the inferior offices are
virtually comprehended in the superior, and may be discharged by them:
elders may distribute as well as deacons; and beyond them, rule: pastors
may distribute and rule as well as deacons and elders, and beyond both
preach, dispense sacraments, and ordain ministers. Apostles may do there
all, and many things besides extraordinary. Much more may the prophet
teach and exhort, and the deacon distribute and show mercy; these being
the proper acts of their office. 3. Nor, finally, is this proved by that
suggestion, that all these gifts in the apostles' times were common to
all sorts and sexes, women as well as men; as he after takes much pains
to prove, but to very little purpose. For not only in the apostles'
times, but in our times also, all Christians may teach, exhort,
distribute, show mercy, &c., privately, occasionally, by bond of
charity, and law of fraternity towards one another mutually: but may not
teach, exhort, rule, distribute, &c., authoritatively by virtue of their
office, so as to give themselves wholly to such employments, which is
the thing here intended; yet it is worth observing how far Bilson was
transported against ruling elders, that rather than yield to their
office, he will make all these gifts common to all sorts and sexes, men
and women. This is new divinity; all sorts and sexes may both preach and
rule. Let Bilson have the credit of symbolizing with the Separatists, if
not of transcending them.

2. Here is good ground in the context to make us think that the apostle
here spoke of distinct church officers, and not only of distinct gifts.
For, 1. In the similitude of a natural body (whereunto here the church
is compared) he speaks of distinct members, having distinct offices,
ver. 4. "For as we have many members in one body, and all members have
not the same office." 2. In his accommodation of this similitude, he
speaks not only of gifts, but also of offices according to which these
gifts are given, which he calls _grace_, ver. 6, (as was noted.). This
grace given, or this office given of grace, is branched out, first, into
two general heads, viz. _prophecy_ and _ministry_, ver. 6, 7. Then these
generals are subdivided into the special offices contained under them,
viz.: Under prophecy the teacher, _he that teacheth_; and the pastor,
_he that exhorteth_; under ministry the deacon, _he that distributeth_;
and the ruling elder, _he that ruleth_. Now there is in the text just
ground for this resolution of the text, in making prophecy and ministry
generals, and all the rest special kinds of officers; forasmuch as
prophecy and ministry are expressed abstractly, _whether prophecy_,
(not, whether we are prophets;) _whether ministry_, (not, whether we are
deacons, ministers:) and both prophecy and ministry are put in the
accusative case; and both of them have relation, and are joined unto the
participle of the plural number _having_, intimating that divers do
share in prophecy, pastor and teacher; divers in ministry, deacon and
ruling elder. But all the other are expressed concretely, and in the
nominative case, and in the singular number, and to every of them the
single article is prefixed, translated He--_He that teacheth--He that
exhorteth--He that giveth--He that ruleth_. Hence we have great cause to
count prophecy and ministry as generals; all the rest as special offices
under them.

_Argum_. II. The second argument for the divine right of the ruling
elder shall be grounded upon 1 Cor. xii. 28: "And God hath set some in
the church, first, apostles, secondly, prophets, thirdly, teachers,
afterwards powers, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, kinds of
tongue." God, in the first founding of Christianity and of the primitive
churches, bestowed many eminent gifts upon divers Christians; the church
of Corinth greatly excelled in such gifts, 1 Cor. i. 5, 7. Hence their
members gifted, grew spiritually proud, and despised their brethren; to
correct which abuse of gifts, and direct them to the right use thereof
for the common profit of all, is the chief scope of this chapter, see
verse 7, "The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to
profit withal." For, 1. All their gifts flow from one and the same
fountain, the Spirit of God, therefore should be improved for the common
good of all, especially considering no one man hath all gifts, but
several men have several gifts, that all might be beholden to one
another, ver. 8-11. 2. The whole Church of Christ throughout all the
world is but one body, and that body organical, having several members
therein placed for several uses, as eyes, hands, &c., wherein the
meanest members are useful and necessary to the highest: therefore all
members should harmoniously lay out their gifts for the good of the
whole body, without jars or divisions, ver. 12-28. 3. All the several
officers, whether extraordinary or ordinary, though furnished with
several gifts and several administrations, yet are placed by one and the
same God, in one and the same general Church; and therefore should all
level at the benefit of the whole church, without pride, animosities,
divisions, &c., ver. 28, to the end. These things being briefly premised
for the clearing the context and scope of the chapter, we may thus argue
from ver. 28:

_Major_. Whatsoever officers God himself, now under the New Testament,
hath set in the Church as governors therein, distinct from all other
church governors, whether extraordinary or ordinary; they are the ruling
elders we inquire after, and that by divine right.

This proposition is so clear and evident of itself, that much needs not
to be said for any further demonstration of it. For what can be further
desired for proof that there are such distinct officers as ruling elders
in the Church of Christ, and that of divine right, than to evince, 1.
That there are certain officers set of God in the Church as governors
therein. 2. That those officers so set of God in the Church, are set in
the Church under the New Testament, which immediately concerns us, and
not under the Old Testament. 3. That these officers set of God as
governors in the Church of the New Testament, are distinct from all
other church governors, whether extraordinary or ordinary? For, by the
third of these, we have a distinct church officer delineated and
particularized: by the second we have this distinct church officer
limited to the time and state of the Church only under the New
Testament, which is our case: and by the first of these, we have this
distinct New Testament officer's ruling power in the Church, and the
divine right thereof evidently demonstrated, by God's act in setting him
there in this capacity; (see Part 1. Chap. VI.;) so that by all put
together, the consequence of this major proposition seems to be strong
and unquestionable.

_Minor_. But the governments named in 1 Cor. xii. 28, are officers which
God himself now under the New Testament hath set in the Church as
governors therein, distinct from all other church governors, whether
extraordinary or ordinary.

This minor or assumption is wholly grounded upon, and plainly contained
in this text, and may thus be evidenced by parts.

1. The church here spoken of [_in the church_] is the Church of Christ
now under the New Testament: for, 1. The church here mentioned, ver. 28,
is the same with that ONE BODY mentioned, ver. 12, 13, of this chapter,
as the whole context and coherence of the chapter evinceth; but that ONE
BODY denotes not the Church of God under the Old Testament, but only the
Church of Christ under the New Testament; partly, inasmuch as it is
counted the Church of Christ, yea, (so intimate is the union between
head and members,) it is called CHRIST, _so also is_ CHRIST, ver. 12,
(viz. not Christ personally considered, but Christ mystically
considered, as comprehending head and body;) now this denomination of
the Church, viz. Christ, or the Church of Christ, &c., is peculiar to
the Church under the New Testament: for where in all the Scripture is
the Church of God under the Old Testament called the Church of Christ,
&c.? and partly, inasmuch as all, both Jews and Gentiles, are
incorporated jointly into this ONE BODY, and coalesce into one Church:
"For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or
Gentiles, whether bond or free," 1 Cor. xii. 13. Now this union or
conjunction of Jews and Gentiles into one body, one Church, is only done
under the New Testament; see Eph. ii. 11, to the end of the chapter. 2.
The officers here mentioned to be set in this Church, are only the New
Testament officers, ver. 28. 3. The scope of the whole chapter is to
redress abuses of spiritual gifts in the church of Corinth, which was a
church under the New Testament; and therefore it would have been too
remote for the apostle to have argued from the several distributions of
gifts peculiar to the officers or members of the Church under the Old

2. The governments here mentioned are officers set in this church as
governors, or rulers therein: "Hath set some in the Church, first,
apostles--governments." For clearing of this, consider the enumeration
here made; the denomination of these officers, governments; and the
constitution or placing of these governments in the Church. 1. The
enumeration here made is evidently an enumeration of several sorts of
church officers, some extraordinary, to endure but for a time, some
ordinary, to continue constantly in the Church; to this the current of
interpreters doth easily subscribe: and this the text itself plainly
speaks; partly, if we look at the matter, viz. the several officers
enumerated, which are either extraordinary, these five, viz. apostles,
prophets, powers, or miracles, gifts of healing, and kinds of tongues:
these continued but for a season, during the first founding of Christian
churches: (the proper and peculiar work of these extraordinary officers,
what it was, is not here to be disputed.) Or ordinary, these three, viz.
_teachers_, (there is the preaching elder,) _governments_, (there is the
ruling elder,) _helps_, (there is the deacon;) these are the officers
enumerated; and however there be some other officers elsewhere
mentioned, whence some conceive this enumeration not to be so absolutely
perfect, yet this is undoubtedly evident, that it is an enumeration of
officers in the church: partly, this is evident, if we look at the
manner of the apostle's speech, which is in an enumerating form, viz.
first, secondly, thirdly, afterwards, then: and partly, it is evident
that he intended to reckon up those officers that were distinct from all
other parts of the mystical body of Christ, by his recapitulation, "Are
all apostles, are all prophets?" &c., ver. 29, 30, i.e. not all, but
only some members of the body are set apart by God to bear these offices
in the church. Now, if there be here a distinct enumeration of distinct
officers in the church, as is evident; then consequently _governments_
must needs be one of these distinct church officers, being reckoned up
among the rest; and this is one step, that governments are in the roll
of church officers enumerated. 2. The denomination of these officers,
_governments_, evidenceth that they are governing officers, vested with
rule in the Church. This word (as hath been noted in chap. II.) is a
metaphor from pilots or shipmasters governing of their ships by their
compass, helm, &c., James iii. 4, (who is hence called _governor_, viz.
of the ship, Acts xxvii. 11; Rev. xviii. 17,) and it notes such officers
as sit at the stern of the vessel of the Church, to govern and guide it
in spirituals according to the will and mind of Christ: governments--the
abstract is put for governors, the concrete: this name of governments
hath engraven upon it an evident character of power for governing. But
this will be easily granted by all. All the doubt will be, whom the
apostle intended by these governments? Thus conceive, negatively, these
cannot be meant, viz. not governors in general, for, besides that a
general exists not but in the particular kinds or individuals thereof, a
member of a body in general exists not but in this or that particular
member, eye, hand, foot, &c.: besides this, it is evident that Christ
hath not only in general appointed governors in his Church, and left
particulars to the church or magistrate's determination, but hath
himself descended to the particular determination of the several kinds
of officers which he will have in his Church; compare these places
together, Eph. iv. 7, 11, 12; 1 Cor. xii. 28; Rom. xii. 7, 8: though in
the ordinance of magistracy God hath only settled the general, but for
the particular kinds of it, whether it should be monarchical, &c., that
is left to the prudence of the several commonwealths to determine what
is fittest for themselves. (See Part 2, chap. IX.) 2. Not masters of
families: for all families are not in the Church, pagan families are
without. No family as a family is either a church or any part of a
church, (in the notion that church is here spoken of;) and though
masters of families be governors in their own houses, yet their power is
not ecclesiastical but economical or domestical, common to heathens as
well as Christians. Not the political magistrate,[54] for the reasons
hinted, (Part 1, chap. I.; see also Part 2, chap. IX.,) and for divers
other arguments that might be propounded. 4. Not the prelatical bishops,
pretending to be an order above preaching presbyters, and to have the
reins of all church government in their hands only; for, in Scripture
language, bishop and presbyter are all one order, (these words being
only names of the same officer;) this is evident by comparing Tit. i. 5,
with ver. 7. Hereunto also the judgment of antiquity evidently
subscribeth, accounting a bishop and a presbyter to be one and the same
officer in the church; as appears particularly in Ambrose, Theodoret,
Hierom, and others. Now, if there be no such order as prelatical
bishops, consequently they cannot be governments in the church. 5. Not
the same with _helps_, as the former corrupt impressions of our Bibles
seemed to intimate, which had it thus, _helps in governments_, which
some moderns seem to favor; but this is contrary to the original Greek,
which signifies _helps, governments_; contrary to the ancient Syriac
version, which hath it thus, (as Tremel. renders it,) _and helpers, and
governments_: and therefore this gross corruption is well amended in our
late printed Bible. _Helps, governments_, are here generally taken by
interpreters for two distinct officers. 6. Nor, finally, can the
teaching elder here be meant; for that were to make a needless and
absurd tautology, the teacher being formerly mentioned in this same
verse. Consequently, by _governments_ here, what can be intended, but
such a kind of officer in the church as hath rule and government
therein, distinct from all governors forementioned? And doth not this
lead us plainly to the ruling elder?

3. These governments thus set in the Church, as rulers therein, are set
therein by God himself; God hath set some in the Church, _first,
apostles--governments--God hath set, put, made, constituted_, &c., (as
the word imports,) _in the Church_. What hath God set in the Church?
viz. apostles and--governments, as well as apostles themselves. The
verb, _hath set_, equally relates to all the sorts of officers
enumerated. And is not that officer IA the Church of divine right, which
God himself, by his own act and authority, sets therein? Then doubtless
these governments are of divine right.

4. Finally, these governments set in the Church under the New Testament
as governors therein, and that by God himself, are distinct from not
only all governing officers without the Church, (as hath been showed,)
but also from all other governing officers within the church. For here
the apostles make a notable enumeration of the several sorts of church
officers, both extraordinary and ordinary, viz. eight in all. Five of
these being extraordinary, and to continue but for a season, for the
more effectual spreading and propagating of the gospel of Christ at
first, and planting of Christian churches, viz. apostles, prophets,
powers, gifts of healings, kinds of tongues: three of these being
ordinary, and to be perpetuated in the Church, as of continual use and
necessity therein, viz. teachers, governments, [i.e. ruling elders,] and
helps, [i.e. deacons, who are to help and relieve the poor and
afflicted.] This is the enumeration. It is not contended, that it is
absolutely and completely perfect, for that some officers seem to be
omitted and left out, which elsewhere are reckoned up, Eph. iv. 11; Rom.
xii. 7, 8. Evangelists are omitted in the list of extraordinary
officers, and pastors are left out of the roll of the ordinary officers;
and yet some conceive that pastors and teachers point not out two
distinct sorts of officers, but rather two distinct acts of the same
officers; and if this will hold, then pastors are sufficiently comprised
under the word teachers; yea, some think that both evangelists and
pastors are comprehended under the word teacher.[55] But, however, be
that as it will, these two things are evident, 1. That this enumeration
(though evangelists and pastors be left out) is the fullest and
completest enumeration of church officers which in any place is to be
found throughout all the New Testament. 2. That though we should grant
this defect in the enumeration, yet this is no way prejudicial to the
present argument, that governments here mentioned are ruling officers in
the Church, distinct from all other church officers that have rule; for
they are plainly and distinctly recited as distinct kinds of officers,
distinct from apostles, from prophets, from teachers, from all here
mentioned. And thus interpreters[56] commonly expound this place, taking
governments for a distinct kind of church officer from all the rest here

Now to sum up all that hath been said for the proof of the assumption;
it is evident, 1. That the church here spoken of is the Church of Christ
now under the New Testament. 2. That the governments here mentioned, are
officers set in this church, (not out of the church,) as rulers
governing therein. 3. That these governments set as rulers or governors
in this church, are set there not by man, but by God himself; _God hath
set in the Church--governments_. 4. And, finally, That these governments
thus set in the Church, are distinct, not only from all governors out of
the Church, but also from all governing officers within the Church. And
if all this laid together will not clearly evince the divine right of
the ruling elder, what will? Hence we may strongly conclude,

_Conclusion_. Therefore these governments in 1 Cor. xii. 28, are the
ruling elders we inquire after, and that of divine right.

Now against the urging of 1 Cor. xii. 28, for the proof of the divine
right of the ruling elders, divers exceptions are made, which are to be
answered before we pass to the third argument.

_Except_. 1. The allegation of this place is too weak to prove the thing
in question. For will any man that knoweth what it is to reason, reason
from the general to the particular and special affirmatively? or will
ever any man of common sense be persuaded that this consequence is good:
There were governors in the primitive church mentioned by the
Apostles--therefore they were lay governors? Surely I think not.[57]

_Ans_. This exception hath a confident flourish of words, but they are
but words. It may be replied, 1. By way of concession, that to argue
indeed from a general to a special, is no solid reasoning; as, This is a
kingdom, therefore it is England; this is a city, therefore it is
London; the apostle mentions government in the primitive Church,
therefore they are ruling elders: this were an absurd kind of reasoning.
2. By way of negation. Our reasoning from this text for the ruling
elder, is not from the general to a special affirmatively--there are
governments in the Church, therefore ruling elders: but this is our
arguing--these governments here mentioned in 1 Cor. xii. 28, are a
special kind of governing officers, set of God in the Church of Christ
now under the New Testament, and distinct from all other church
officers, whether extraordinary or ordinary: and therefore they are the
ruling elders which we seek after, and that by divine right. So that we
argue from the enumeration of several kinds of church officers
affirmatively: here is an enumeration or roll of divers kinds of church
officers of divine right; governments are one kind in the roll, distinct
from the rest; therefore governments are of divine right, consequently
ruling elders; for none but they can be these governments, as hath been
proved in the assumption. If the apostle had here mentioned governments
only, and none other kind of officers with them, there had been some
color for this exception, and some probability that the apostle had
meant governors in general and not in special: but when the apostle sets
himself to enumerate so many special kinds of officers, apostles,
prophets, teachers, &c., how far from reason is it to think that in the
midst of all these specials, governments only should be a general. 3. As
for Dr. Field's scoffing term of lay governors or lay elders, which he
seems in scorn to give to ruling elders; it seems to be grounded upon
that groundless distinction of the ministry and people into clergy and
laity; which is justly rejected by sound orthodox writers[58], as not
only without but against the warrant of Scripture, clergy being nowhere
appropriated to the ministry only, but commonly attributed to the whole
church, 1 Pet. v. 2, 3. The Scripture term given to these officers is
_ruling elders_, 1 Tim. v. 17; and so far as such, (though they be
elected from among the people,) they are ecclesiastical officers.

_Except_. 2. But it is not said here governors in the concrete, as
apostles, prophets, teachers are mentioned concretely, which are
distinct officers: but it is said governments, in the abstract, to note
faculties, not persons. The text may be thus resolved: The apostle first
sets down three distinct orders, apostles, prophets, and teachers: then
he reckons up those common gifts of the Holy Ghost (and among the rest
the gift of governing) which were common to all three. So that we need
not here make distinct orders in the Church, but only distinct gifts
which might be in one man.[59]

_Ans_. 1. As the apostles, prophets, and teachers are here set down
concretely, and not abstractly, and are confessed to be three distinct
orders enumerated: so all the other five, though set down abstractly,
are (by a metonymy of the adjunct for the subject) to be understood
concretely, helps for helpers; governments for governors, &c.; otherwise
we shall here charge the apostle with a needless impertinent tautology
in this chapter, for he had formerly spoken of these gifts abstractly,
ver. 8-10, as being _all given to profit_ the Church _withal_, ver. 7;
but here, ver. 28-30, he speaks of these gifts as they are in several
distinct subjects, for the benefit of the organical body the church;
else what saith he here, more than he said before? 2. That all these
eight here enumerated, one as well as another, do denote, not distinct
offices or acts of the same officer, but distinct officers, having
distinct administrations, and distinct gifts for those administrations,
is evident, partly by the apostle's form of enumeration, _first,
secondly, thirdly, afterwards, then_ or _furthermore_: if he had
intended only three sorts of officers, he would have stopped at thirdly,
but he goes on in an enumerating way, to show us those that follow are
distinct officers as well as those that go before; partly, by the
apostle's recapitulation, ver. 29, 30, which plainly points out
different officers, persons not gifts, besides those three: _Are all
apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers?_ (and here he stops not,
but reckons on) _are all workers of miracles? have all the gifts of
healing?_ &c. If it should be replied, But he doth not add, Are all
helps? are all governments? therefore these are not to be accounted
distinct officers from the rest; otherwise why should the apostle thus
have omitted them, had there been any such distinct officers in the
Church in his time? It may be replied, These two officers, helps and
governments, are omitted in the recapitulation, ver. 29, 30, not that
the Church then had no such officers, for why then should they have been
distinctly mentioned in the enumeration of church officers, ver. 28? But
either, 1. For that helps and governments were more inferior ordinary
officers, and not furnished with such extraordinary, or at least,
eminent gifts, as the other had, (which they abused greatly to pride,
contention, schism, and contempt of one another, the evils which the
apostle here labors so much to cure,) and so there was no such danger
that these helps and governments should run into the same distempers
that the other did. Or, 2. For that he would instruct these helps and
governments to be content with their own stations and offices, (without
strife and emulation,) though they be neither apostles, nor prophets,
nor teachers, nor any of the other enumerated, which were so ambitiously
coveted after; and the last verse seems much to favor this
consideration, _but covet earnestly the best gifts_, viz. which made
most for edification, not for ostentation.[60]

_Except_. 3. But helps here are placed before governments, therefore it
is not likely that governments were the ruling elders; Helps, i.e.
deacons, which is an inferior office, seeming here to be preferred
before them.[61]

_Ans_. This follows not. Priority of order is not always an argument of
priority of worth, dignity, or authority. Scripture doth not always
observe exactness of order, to put that first which is of most
excellency: sometimes the pastor is put before the teacher, as Ephes.
iv. 11, sometimes the teacher before the pastor, as Rom. xii. 7, 8.
Peter is first named of all the apostles, both in Matt. x. 2, and in
Acts i. 13, but we shall hardly grant the Papist's arguing thence to be
solid--Peter is first named, therefore he is the chief and head of all
the apostles; no more can we account this any good consequence--helps
are set before governments, therefore governments are officers inferior
to helps, consequently they cannot be ruling elders: this were bad

_Except_. 4. But the word governments is general, and may signify either
Christian magistrates, or ecclesiastical officers, as archbishops,
bishops, or whatsoever other by lawful authority are appointed in the
Church.[62] And some of the semi-Erastians of our times, by governments
understand the Christian magistracy, holding the Christian magistracy to
be an ecclesiastical administration.[63]

_Ans_. 1. Governments, i.e. governors, (though in itself and singly
mentioned, it be a general, yet) here being enumerated among so many
specials, is special, and notes the special kind of ruling elders, as
hath been proved. 2. As for archbishops and diocesan bishops, they are
notoriously known to be, as such, no officers set in the Church by God,
but merely by the invention of man; therefore they have no part nor lot
in this business, nor can here be meant. And if by others, by lawful
authority appointed in the Church, they mean those officers that God
appoints well: if those whom man sets there without God, as chancellors,
commissioners, &c., such have as much power of government in the Church,
as they are such, as archbishops and bishops, viz. just none at all by
any divine warrant. 3. Nor can the civil Christian magistrate here be
implied. 1. Partly, because this is quite beside the whole intent and
scope of this chapter, treating merely upon spiritual church-matters,
not at all of secular civil matters, viz: of spiritual gifts for the
Church's profit, ver. 1 to 12; of the Church herself as one organical
body, ver. 12 to 28; and of the officers which God hath set in this
organical body, ver. 28, &c. Now here to crowd in the Christian
magistrate, which is a mere political governor, into the midst of these
spiritual matters, and into the roll of these merely ecclesiastical
officers, how absurd is it! 2. Partly, because the magistrate, as such,
is not set of God in the Church either as a church officer, or as a
church member, (as hath been demonstrated formerly, chap. IX.;) and
though he become a Christian, that adds nothing to the authority of his
magistracy, being the privilege only of his person, not of his office.
3. Partly, because when this was written to the Corinthians, the apostle
writes of such governments as had at that time their present actual
being and existence in the Church: and neither then, nor divers hundreds
of years after, were there any magistrates Christian, as hath been
evidenced, chap. IX.[64]

_Except_. 5. Teachers are here expressed, but pastors omitted; and
therefore well might governors be mentioned instead of pastors.[65]

_Answ_. 1. Then, according to his judgment, pastors were a distinct kind
of officers from teachers; otherwise the naming of teachers would have
sufficiently implied pastors, without the addition of the word
governors, one act or function of the office being put for the whole
office. But prelates did not love to hear of such a distinction.
However, it is the judgment of many others no less learned or pious than
they, that in the same congregation where there are several ministers,
he that excels in exposition of scriptures, teaching sound doctrine, and
convincing gainsayers, may be designed hereunto, and called a teacher or
doctor: he that excels in application, and designed thereunto, may be
called a pastor; but where there is only one minister in one particular
congregation, he is to perform, as far as he is able, the whole work of
the ministry. 2. If pastors are to be understood by this term governors,
as contradistinct from teachers, formerly enumerated in the text; doth
not this seem to devolve the matter of government so wholly upon the
pastor, as that the teacher hath nothing to do with it? and hereby both
pastor and teacher are wronged at once: the teacher, while power of
governing is denied him, which belongs to him as well as to the pastor;
the teacher being a minister of the word, hath power of administration
of the sacraments and discipline, as well as the pastor: the pastor,
while he consequently is deprived of the necessary and comfortable
assistance of the teacher in point of government. Therefore the pastor
cannot here be intended by governors. 3. Bilson himself was not very
confident of this gloss, and therefore he immediately adds, "If this
content you not, I then deny they are all ecclesiastical functions that
are there specified," &c. What then doth he make them? viz. he makes
divers of them, and governments among the rest, to be but several gifts,
whereof one and the same officer might be capable. And a little after he
ingenuously confesses he cannot tell what these governors were, saying,
"I could easily presume, I cannot easily prove what they were. The
manner and order of those wonderful gifts of' God's Spirit, after so
many hundreds may be conjectured, cannot be demonstrated--governors they
were, or rather governments, (for so the apostle speaketh,) i.e. gifts
of wisdom, discretion, and judgment, to direct and govern the whole
church, and every particular member thereof, in the manifold dangers and
distresses which those days did not want. Governors also they might be
called, that were appointed in every congregation to hear and appease
the private strifes and quarrels that grew betwixt man and man, lest the
Christians, to the shame of themselves, and slander of the gospel,
should pursue each other for things of this life before the magistrates,
who then were infidels; of these St. Paul speaketh, 1 Cor. vi. 1-7.
These governors and moderators of their brethren's quarrels and
contentions I find, others I find not in the apostle's writings, but
such as withal were watchmen and feeders of the flock." Thus
inconsistent he is with himself: one while these governors must be
pastors; another while arbitrators or daysmen about private differences;
another while gifts, not officers; another while he cannot easily prove
what they were. But they have been proved to be ruling elders, and the
proof still stands good, notwithstanding all his or others' exceptions.

_Argum_. III. The third argument for the divine right of the mere ruling
elder shall be drawn from 1 Tim. v. 17, "Let the elders that rule well,
be counted worthy of double honor, especially they that labor in the
word and doctrine." From which words we may thus argue for the divine
right of the ruling elder:

_Major_. Whatsoever officers in the Church are, according to the word of
Christ, styled elders, invested with rule in the Church, approved of God
in their rule, and yet distinct from all them that labor in the word and
doctrine; they are the ruling elders in the Church which we inquire
after, and that by divine right.

This proposition seems clear and unquestionable. For, 1. If there be a
certain kind of church officer which Christ in his word calls an elder,
2. Declares to have rule in his church, 3. Approves in this his rule,
and, 4. Distinguished from him that labors in the word and doctrine;
this is plainly the ruling elder, and here is evidently the divine right
of his office. Such a divine approbation of his office, testified in
Scripture, implies no less than a divine institution thereof.

_Minor_. But the officers mentioned in 1 Tim. v. 17, are, according to
the word of Christ, styled elders, invested with rule in the church:
approved of God in their rule, and yet distinct from all them that labor
in the word and doctrine. This assumption may be thus evidenced by

1. The officers mentioned here in this word of Christ, are styled
elders. This Greek word translated _elder_, is used in the New Testament
chiefly in three several senses: 1. For men of ancient time, not now
living; and so it is opposed to modern: Tradition of elders, Matt. xv.
2, i.e. of them of old time, see Matt. v. 21. 2. For elders in age now
living; so it is opposed to younger, 1 Tim. v. 1; 1 Pet. v. 5. 3. For
elders in function or office, opposed to private men not in office, as
Acts xiv. 23; and in this last sense it is to be taken in this place, an
office of ruling being here ascribed to these elders. They are called
elders, say some, because for the most part they were chosen out of the
elder sort of men: others better, from the maturity of knowledge,
wisdom, gifts, gravity, piety, &c., which ought to be in them. This name
elder seems to have rule and authority written upon it, when applied to
any church officer; and it is by the Septuagint often ascribed to rulers
political, _elders in the gate_, Judges viii. 14; Ruth iv. 2, 3; 1 Sam.
v. 3; 1 Chron. xi. 3. In this place (as it is well noted by some[66])
the word elders is a genus, a general attribute, agreeing both to them
that rule well, and also to those that labor in the word and doctrine:
the one sort only rule; the other sort both rule and preach; but both
sorts are elders.

2. The officers here mentioned are not only styled elders, but invested
with rule in the church. For it is plain both by the text and context
duly considered, and the apostle's scope in writing of this epistle, 1
Tim. iii. 15, that these elders are officers in the Church. And that in
the church they are vested with rule appears not only by their name of
elders, which when applied to officers, imports rule, authority, &c., as
hath been said; but also by the adjunct participle _that rule_, or
_ruling_, annexed to elders--_Let the elders ruling well_. So that here
we have not only the office, the thing, but the very name of ruling
elders. The word seems to be a military term, for captains and
commanders in an army, _foremost slanders_, (as the word imports,) that
lead on and command all the rest that follow them: hence metaphorically
used for the foremost-standers, rulers, governors in the church. It
noteth not only those that go before others by doctrine, or good
example: but that govern and rule others by authority. For, 1. Thus the
word is used in Scripture: "One that ruleth well his own house, having
his children in subjection with all gravity," 1 Tim. iii. 4: where it
plainly notes an authoritative ruling. Again, "If a man know not how to
rule his own house," 1 Tim. iii. 5. And again, "Ruling their children
and their own houses well," 1 Tim. iii. 12. And can any man be so absurd
as to think that a master of a family hath not a proper authoritative
rule over his own children and family, but rules them only by doctrine
and example?

2. Thus learned divines[67] and accurate Grecians[68] use the word to
denote authority: so that the Holy Ghost here calling them ruling
elders, implies they are vested with rule: and those that deny this
place to hold out two sorts of elders, yet confess it holds out two
sorts of acts, ruling and preaching.

3. These ruling elders are here approved of God in their rule; and that
two ways, viz: 1. In that God's Spirit here commends their ruling, being
duly discharged, _ruling well, excellently_, &c. Did no rule in the
Church belong to them for matter, God would never command or approve
them for the matter. He cannot be accounted with God to do any thing
well, that hath no right to do it at all. 2. In that God's Spirit here
commands their well ruling to be honorably rewarded. _Let them be
counted worthy of double honor:_ or, _Let them be dignified with double
honor_. Here is not only reward, but an eminent reward appointed them,
and that urged from Scripture, ver. 18. Where God thus appoints rewards,
he approves that for which he rewards; and what God thus approves is of
divine right. See part 1, chap. V.

4. Yet, finally, These elders, vested with rule in the Church, and
divinely approved in their rule, are distinct from all them that labor
in the word and doctrine. This may thus he evidenced from the text, as
some[69] have well observed: For, 1. Here is a general, under which the
several kinds of officers here spoken of are comprehended, _elders_; all
here mentioned are elders. 2. Here are two distinct kinds of elders,
viz: _those that rule well_, there is one kind; and _they that labor in
the word_ (as the pastors) _and doctrine_, (as the doctors and
teachers,) here is the other kind. 3. Here are two participles
expressing these two species or kinds of elders--_ruling_, and
_laboring_: those only rule, that is all their work, and therefore
here are called ruling elders; not because _they_ alone rule, but
because their only work is to rule: but these not only rule, but, over
and besides, _they_ labor in the word and doctrine. 4. Here are two
distinct articles distinctly annexed to these two participles--_they
that rule; they that labor_. 5. Finally, here is an eminent disjunctive
particle set betwixt these two kinds of elders, these two participles,
these two articles, evidently distinguishing one from the other, viz.
especially _they that labor in the word_, &c., intimating, that as there
were some ruling elders that did labor in the word and doctrine, so
there were others that did rule, and not labor in the word: both were
worthy of double honor, but especially they that both ruled and labored
in the word also. And wheresoever this word, here translated
_especially_, is used in all the New Testament, it is used to
distinguish thing from thing, person from person, that are spoken of;
as, "Let us do good to all, but especially to those of the household of
faith," Gal. vi. 10: therefore there were some of the household of
faith, and some that were not; and accordingly we must put a difference
in doing good to them. "All the saints salute you, especially those of
Cæsar's household;" some saints not of his household: all saluted them,
but especially those of Cæsar's household. "He that provides not for
his own, especially for them of his own house, he hath denied the
faith," 1 Tim. v. 8. A believer is to provide for his friends and
kindred, but especially _for those of his own house_, wife and children.
See also 1 Tim. iv. 10; Tit. i. 11; 2 Tim. iv. 13; 2 Pet. ii. 10; Acts
xx. 38, and xxvi. 3; in all which places the word _especially_ is used
as a disjunctive particle, to distinguish one thing from another,
without which distinction we shall but make nonsense in interpreting
those places. And generally the best interpreters[70] do from this text
conclude, that there were two sorts of elders, viz: the ruling elder,
that only ruled; the preaching elder, that besides his ruling, labored
in the word and doctrine also.

Now, therefore, seeing the officers here mentioned are, 1. According to
the word of Christ, (for this is the word of Christ,) styled elders; 2.
Vested with rule; 3. Approved of God in their rule; and yet, 4. Distinct
from all that labor in the word and doctrine, as hath been particularly
proved; we may conclude, that,

_Conclusion_. Therefore the officers here mentioned are the ruling
elders in the Church which we inquire after, and that by divine right.

But against this place of 1 Tim. i. 17, and the argument from it, divers
cavils and exceptions are made; let them have a brief solution.

_Except_. 1. There were two sorts of elders, some laboring in the word
and doctrine, some taking care of the poor, viz. deacons; both were
worthy of double honor, especially they that labored in the word,

_Ans_. 1. This is a new distinction of elders without warrant of
Scripture. Deacons are nowhere in all the New Testament styled
elders;[72] nay, they are contradistinguished from elders, both teaching
and ruling. "He that giveth _let him do it_ with simplicity: he that
ruleth, with diligence," Rom. xii. 8. "Helps, governments," 1 Cor. xii.
28. Compare also Tit. i. 5, 6, &c., 1 Tim. iii. 2, &c., with 1 Tim. iii.
8, &c. 2. As deacons are not elders, so deacons have no rule in the
church. It is true, they are to "rule their children and their own
houses well," 1 Tim. iii. 12; this is only family rule: but as for the
church, their office therein is to be _helps_, 1 Cor. xii. 28; _to
distribute_, Rom. xii. 8; _to serve tables_, Acts vi. 2, 3; but no rule
is ascribed to them.

_Except_. 2. But by ruling well, some understand living well, leading a
holy, exemplary life. The apostle would have ministers not only to live
well themselves, but also to feed others by the word and doctrine; they
that live well are to be double honored, especially they who labor in
the word, &c., as 1 Thess. v. 12, 13.[73]

_Ans_. 1. The apostle here speaks rather of officers than of acts of
office: of persons rather than of duties, if his phrase be observed. 2.
Living well is not ruling well here in the apostle's sense, who intends
the rule of elders over others; he that lives well rules well over
himself; not over others: else all that live well were church rulers;
they conduct by example, do not govern by authority, Altar. Damasc. c.
xii. 8. If well ruling be well living, then double honor, double
maintenance from the church is due for well living, (1 Tim. v. 17, 18,)
consequently all that live well deserve this double honor. 4. This seems
to intimate that ministers deserve double honor for living well, though
they preach not. _How absurd_! 5. D. Downham, once pleased with this
gloss, after confessed it was not safe.

_Except_. 3. Those that rule well may be meant of aged, infirm,
superannuated bishops, who cannot labor in the word and doctrine.[74]

_Ans_. 1. Here is no speech of prelatical bishops, but of ruling and
preaching elders in this text. 2. How shall old, decrepit bishops rule
well, when they cannot labor in the word and doctrine? 3. By this gloss,
the preaching elders that labor in the word and doctrine, should be
preferred before the most ancient bishop in double honor; such doctrine
would not long since have been very odious and apocryphal to our late
prelates. 4. Those preachers that have faithfully and constantly spent
their strength, and worn out themselves with ministerial labor, that
they cannot rule nor preach any longer, are yet worthy of double honor
for all their former travels in the service of Christ and his Church.

_Except_. 4. Among ministers some did preach, others only administered
the sacraments; so Paul showeth that he preached and "labored more than
all the apostles," 1 Cor. xv. 10; but baptized few or none, 1 Cor i. 14,
leaving that to be performed by others; and when Paul and Barnabas were
companions, and their travels were equal, yet Paul is noted to have been
the chief speaker, (Acts xiv. 12:) all were worthy of double honor, but
especially they who labored in the word and doctrine.[75]

_Ans_. 1. This gloss imagineth such a ministry in the apostles' times as
the prelates had erected of late in their days, viz: many dumb dogs that
could not bark nor preach at all, yet could administer the sacraments by
the old service-book. But the apostles, as Cartwright[76] observes,
allowed no such ministers, will have every bishop or preaching elder to
be both "apt to teach, _and_ able to convince," 1 Tim. iii. 2; Tit. i.
9. So that it was far from Paul to countenance a non-preaching or
seldom-preaching ministry, by allowing any honor at all, much less a
double honor, to such. Sure, preaching is one part, yea, a most
principal part or duty of the minister's office, (as hath been evidenced
before, Part 2, Chap. VII.,) and shall he be counted worthy of double
honor that neglects a principal duty of his office? Nay, he deserves not
the very name of such an officer in the church: why should he be called
a pastor that doth not feed? or a teacher, that doth not teach his
flock? &c., saith Chrysost. Hom. xv. in 1 Timothy. 2. Why should Paul's
laboring be restrained here to his preaching only? when Paul speaks of
his own labor elsewhere, he speaks of it in another sense, 2 Cor. xi.
17, "in labor and weariness"--compare it with the context; and in this
place judicious Calvin seems rather to interpret it of other manner of
labor, and Pareus extends it, besides preaching, to divers other labors
which Paul did undergo. 3. What warrant doth this exception hold out for
two sorts of ministers here pretended, some _preaching_, others _only
administering the sacraments_? Thus, _Paul preached much, baptised but
few_: therefore, _there were some that only administered the
sacraments_: well concluded. Yet Paul baptized some, 1 Cor. i. 14, 16,
distributed the Lord's supper to some, Acts xx. 7, 11; so that he both
preached and dispensed the sacraments. Let any show where any person
dispensed the sacraments that was not a preacher. Again, _Paul and
Barnabas equally travelled together, but Paul was chief speaker_: what
then? therefore _some labored in the word, others in the sacraments
only_. This is woful logic. 4. To whomsoever the power of dispensing the
sacraments was given by Christ, to them also the power of preaching was
given; dispensing the word and sacraments are joined in the same
commission, Matt, xxviii. 18-20: what Christ joins together let not man
put asunder. 5. Touching the preaching elder there is mentioned only one
act peculiar to his office, viz. _laboring in the word_, &c.; but,
taking a part for the whole, we may understand his dispensing the
sacraments also, and what else is peculiar to the preaching elder's
office, though for brevity's sake it be not here named.[77]

_Except_. 5. By elders that rule well may be meant certain governors, or
inferior magistrates, chosen to compose controversies or civil strifes.
Suitable hereunto is the late Erastian gloss, that by elders ruling well
may be meant kings, parliament-men, and all civil governors.[78]

_Ans_. 1. It is well known that in the primitive times there was no
Christian magistrate in the Church, and for the Church to choose heathen
judges or magistrates to be arbitrators or daysmen in civil
controversies, is a thing utterly condemned by the apostle, 1 Cor. vi.
1, &c. 2. The apostle speaks here of ecclesiastical, not of civil
officers, as the latter phrase intimates. The main scope of this epistle
was to instruct Timothy how to behave himself, not in the commonwealth,
but in the Church of God, (1 Tim. iii. 15,) and here he speaks of such
officers as were in being in the Church at that time. 3. If kings,
parliament-men, and all civil governors be these ruling elders, then
ministers have not only an equal share with them in government by this
text, which the Erastians will not like well; but also are to have a
superior honor or maintenance to kings, parliament-men, and all civil
governors. Certainly the magistrates will never triumph in this gloss,
nor thank them that devised it. 4. Sutlive seems to be against this
opinion, (though no great friend to ruling elders,) saying Beza bestows
many words to prove that the judges in 1 Cor. vi. were not of the number
of presbyters: which truly I myself should easily grant him. For there
were none such ever constituted. 5. This is a novel interpretation, as
some observe,[79] unknown among ancient writers.

_Except_. 6. Those words [_especially they who labor in the word and
doctrine_] are added to the former explanatively, to teach us who they
are that rule well, viz. _they who labor much in the word and doctrine_,
and not to distinguish them that labor in the word, from elders ruling
well; as if Paul had said, "Let the elders that rule well be counted
worthy of double honor, greatly laboring in the word," &c. For the word
translated _especially_ here more aptly signifies _much, greatly_, than
especially. For though with the adversative _but_ along with it, it
signifieth especially, yet alone (as it is here) it signifies _much,

_Ans_. 1. If this sentence [_especially they who labor_, &c.] were added
only to explain who are well-ruling elders, viz. such as greatly labor
in the word, &c., then few of the prelatical bishops were to be counted
well-ruling elders, for very few, if any of them, were guilty of
laboring greatly in the word and doctrine. 2. Then also the apostle
would have said, either who especially labor, or simply without the
article, especially laboring; then especially, they who labor, as here
he doth, carrying his speech rather to distinct persons and officers,
than to distinct duties or actions. 3. This word translated
_especially_, hath been already in the minor proposition proved to be
rather disjunctive, than explanatory; a term of distinction to point out
a several sort of elders from only ruling elders, rather than a term of
explication, signifying who are to be reputed these well-ruling elders.
4. The word _especially_ is used for a term of distinction, even in
those places where the adversative _but_ is not joined to it, as in Tit.
i. 10, "For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers,
especially they of the circumcision:" where _especially_ distinguishes
_them of the circumcision_, from all other _vain talkers, and
deceivers_; and in 1 Tim. iv. 10, "Who is the Saviour of all men,
especially of them that believe;" here _especially_ without _but_
distinguishes them that believe from all other men, as capable of a
special salvation from God; if here it were not a note of distinction,
according to this gloss, we should thus read the place, "Who is the
Saviour of all men, greatly believing;" but this were cold comfort to
weak Christians of little faith. So here _especially_, though _but_ be
wanting, distinguished them that labor in the word and doctrine, from
them that labor not therein, and yet rule well.

_Except_. 7. It is one thing to preach, another thing to labor in the
word and doctrine. If there be here any distinction of elders it is
between those that labor more abundantly and painfully, and between
those that labor not so much. This objection takes much with some.[81]
B. Bilson much presses this objection from the emphasis of the word
_laboring_; signifying endeavoring any thing with greater striving and
contention, &c., to this sense, "Let the elders that rule well be
counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor and sweat,
&c., in the word--who give themselves even to be tired and broken with
labors;" and this, saith he, is the genuine signification of the word
translated laboring, when it is borrowed from the labor of the body, to
denote the contention or striving of the mind, &c.[82]

_Ans_. 1. This gloss takes it for granted, that this text speaks only of
preaching, or the ministry of the word, and therein of the lesser or
greater pains taken: which (besides that it begs the thing in question)
makes the ministry of the word common to both sorts here distinctly
spoken of, whereas rather the plain current of the text makes ruling
common to both, over and beyond which the preaching elder _labors in the
word_. 2. Doth not this interpretation allow a double honor to ministers
that labor not so much as others in the word? And can we think that the
laborious Paul intended to dignify, patronize, or encourage idle drones,
lazy, sluggish, seldom preachers? Ministers must be exceeding instant
and laborious in their ministry, 2 Tim. iv. 1-3. If this were the sense
only to prefer the greater before the less labor in the ministry, the
apostle would have used this order of words, "Let the elders that rule
well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor," &c.,
take upon themselves more weighty cares. For those words (in the word
and doctrine) should either have been quite omitted, as now was
expressed, or should have been inserted immediately after them that rule
well, and before the word especially, to this effect, "Let the elders
that rule well and preach the word and doctrine well, be counted worthy
of double honor; but especially those who labor much in well ruling and
in well preaching:" in such an expression the case had been very clear
and evident. 4. Should this comment stand, that they who labor more in
the ministry than others should have more honor, more maintenance, than
others, how many emulations and contentions were this likely to procure?
Who shall undertake to proportion the honor and reward, according to
the proportion of every minister's labor? 5. As for the criticism of the
word _laboring_, which Bilson lays so much stress upon, these things are
evident, 1. That here _laboring_, signifies emphatically nothing else
but that labor, care, diligence, solicitude, &c., which the nature of
the pastoral office requires in every faithful pastor; as is implied 1
Thess. v., 12, 13, "Know them which labor among you, and are over you in
the Lord;" and the apostle saith that every minister "shall receive a
reward according to his own labor," 1 Cor. iii. 8. Such labor and
diligence also is required in them that rule, whilst they are charged to
rule _with diligence_, Rom. xii. 8, which is as much as _with labor_:
yea, the common charity of Christians hath its labor; and this very word
_labor_ is ascribed thereunto, _labor of love_, 1 Thess. i. 3; Heb. vi.
10. 2. That if the apostle had here intended the extraordinary labor of
some ministers above others, not ordinarily required of all, he would
have taken a more emphatical word to have set it out, as he is wont to
do in some other cases, as in 2 Cor. xi. 27, "In labor and weariness." 1
Thess. ii. 9, "For ye remembered, brethren, our labor and weariness." 6.
Finally, "If there be but one kind of church officers here designed,
then," as saith the learned Cartwright, "the words (_especially those
that labor_) do not cause the apostle's speech to rise, but to fall; not
to go forward, but to go backward; for to teach worthily and singularly
is more than to teach painfully; for the first doth set forth all that
which may be required in a worthy teacher, where the latter noteth one
virtue only of pains taking."

_Except_. 8. Though it could be evinced, that here the apostle speaks of
some other elders, besides the ministers of the word, yet what advantage
can this be for the proof of ruling elders? For the apostle being to
prove that the ministers of the word ought to be honored, i.e.
maintained; why might he not use this general proposition, that all
rulers, whether public or domestic, whether civil or ecclesiastical, are
to be honored? And when the apostle speaketh of the qualifications of
deacons, he requires them to be such as have ruled their own houses

_Ans_. 1. This slight gloss might have appeared more tolerable and
plausible, were it not, partly, that the grand scope of the apostle in
this chapter and epistle is to direct about church officers and church
affairs, as both the context, and 1 Tim. iii. 14, 15, clearly evidence;
and partly, had the word rulers been expressed alone in the text, and
the word elders left out: but seeing that the apostle speaks not
generally of them that rule well, but particularly of the elders that
rule well in the Church; here is no place for this poor faint gloss. 2.
Had the apostle here intended such a lax and general proposition for all
sorts of rulers, then had he also meant that an honorable maintenance is
due from the Church to domestic as well as public, yea, to civil as well
as ecclesiastical rulers: then the Church should have charge enough:
yea, and then should ministers of the word (according to this
interpretation) have more honor and maintenance than any other rulers,
domestic or public, civil or ecclesiastical. Magistrates will never
thank him for this gloss. 3. Though some kind of skill to rule and
govern be required in deacons, yet that is no public rule in the Church,
but a private rule in their own houses only, which the apostle mentions,
1 Tim. iii. 12.

_Except_. 9. But these Well-ruling presbyters may be referred to these
pastors and teachers which were resident in every church, who therefore
are properly said to have care and inspection of the faithful, as being
affixed to that place for that end; but the word _laboring_, or _they
that labor_, may be referred to them who travelled up and down for the
visiting and confirming of the churches.[84] "There were some that
remained in some certain places, for the guiding and governing of such
as were already won by the preaching of the gospel: others that
travelled with great labor and pains from place to place to spread the
knowledge of God into all parts, and to preach Christ crucified to such
as never heard of him before. Both these were worthy of double honor,
but the latter that builded not upon another man's foundation, more
especially than the former, that did but keep that which others had
gotten, and govern those that others have gained."[85]

_Ans_. 1. If this be the sense, that there were some ministers fixed,
and limited to particular places and churches; others unfixed, having an
unlimited commission, and these are to be especially honored: then the
meaning is, that the apostles and evangelists who were unfixed, and had
unlimited commissions, and laid the foundation, were to be especially
honored above pastors and teachers that were fixed and limited, and only
built upon their foundation. But how should this be the meaning? For
this seems a needless exhortation; what church would not readily yield
an especial honor to apostles and evangelists above pastors and
teachers? This would savor too much of self-seeking in the apostle, and
providing for his own honor. This implies that the text hath reference
to apostles and evangelists, whereas it evidently speaks only of
ordinary ruling and preaching presbyters.

2. If this be the sense of Dr. Field and Bilson, that some mere
ordinary presbyters travelled laboriously to lay the foundation of
Christianity, others were fixed to certain places to build upon that
foundation: this seems to be false; for we read that mere ordinary
presbyters were ordained for several cities and places as their peculiar
charges, whom they were to feed, and with whom they were to remain, as
Acts xiv. 23; Tit. i. 5; herewith compare Acts xx. 28; 1 Pet. v. 2; 1
Thess. v. 12. But that mere ordinary presbyters were ordained and
employed in the Church without limitation of commission, where can it be
evidenced in all the Scriptures? Wandering presbyters are nowhere
commended; wandering stars are condemned, Jude, ver. 13.

3. To refer the word _laboring_ to them that travelled from place to
place for visiting and confirming of the churches, is very weak and
unjustifiable in this place; for this clashes with Dr. Field's former
gloss, (mentioned Except. 4, limiting _laboring_ to preaching.) But any
thing for a present shift. This word is sometimes given to the apostle,
as 1 Cor. xv. 10; 2 Cor. xi. 27: but where are apostles and evangelists
called _laboring_, merely in respect of their travelling from place to
place, to lay the foundation of Christianity, thereby to distinguish
them from ordinary pastors and teachers? Nay, the apostle himself makes
_them that rule_, and _them that labor_, the same, 1 Thess. v. 12, 13.
So here in 1 Tim. v. 17, _they that rule_--_and they that labor_--are
the same, i.e. both of them ordinary presbyters, both of them ruling,
only to one of them the office of _laboring_ in the word and doctrine is
superadded; yea, the very women that _were_ godly were said _to labor in
the Lord_, Rom. xvi. 6, 12, not for their far travels up and down
several countries to propagate the gospel, for where are Mary and Persis
reported to have done this? Yet doubtless such good women privately
labored much to bring in others, especially of their own sex, to hear
the apostles, and entertain the gospel; and if the women may be said to
_labor much in the Lord_, in respect of their private endeavors, how
much more may labor be ascribed to presbyters in respect of both their
private and public employments! So that this word _laboring_, which is
applied in Scripture not only to ordinary presbyters, but also to women,
cannot (without violence) be drawn peculiarly to signify apostles and
evangelists, as this exception intends.

_Except_. 10. Seeing in every minister of the word three things are
requisite, unblamableness of life, dexterity of governing, and integrity
of doctrine; the two first are commended here, but especially the labor
in doctrine above them both; therefore here are set down not a two-fold
order of presbyters, but only two parts of the pastoral office,
preaching and governing; both which the apostle joins in the office of
pastors, 1 Thes. v. 2-13.[86] "The guides of the church are worthy of
double honor, both in respect of governing and teaching, but especially
for their pains in teaching; so noting two parts or duties of
presbyterial offices, not two sorts of presbyters."[87]

_Ans_. 1. It is true, pastors have the power both of ruling and
preaching belonging to their office, as is intimated, 1 Thes. v. 12, 13,
and Heb. xiii. 7, and in other places; but doth it therefore follow,
that none have the power of ruling, but those that have the power of
preaching? or that this text, or 1 Tim. v. 17, intends only those rulers
that preach? 2. Bilson, in this exception, confesseth that _laboring_
belongs to ordinary fixed pastors, and therefore contradicts himself in
his former objection, wherein he would have appropriated it to unfixed
apostles and evangelists; yea, by this gloss it is granted, that
preaching presbyters are to be more honored than non-preaching ruling
prelates. These are miserable shifts and evasions, whereby they are
necessitated thus to wound their own friends, and to cross their own
principles. 3. According to this gloss, this should be the sense, "Let
the ministers that rule well by good life, and skilful government, be
counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word
and doctrine." Now doth not this tacitly insinuate, that some ministers
may rule well, and be worthy of double honor, though they labor not in
the word and doctrine? and how absurd were this? But if the text be
interpreted not of several acts of the same office, but of several sorts
of officers, this absurdity is prevented, _Let ruling elders be doubly
honored, especially those that both rule and preach_. 4. The text
evidently speaks not of duties, but of persons; not of acts, but of
agents; not of offices, but of officers; for it is not said, "Let the
elders be counted worthy of double honor, for well ruling; especially
for laboring"--but, _Let the elders that rule well, especially they that
labor in the word, &c._ So that this gloss is vain, and against the
plain letter of the text.

_Except_. 11. Though the emphasis of the word, _they that labor_, be not
to be neglected, yet the difference betwixt presbyters is not put by
that word, but by those (_in the word and doctrine_.) This does not
signify two kinds of presbyters, but two offices of ministers and
pastors; one general, to _rule well_; another special, _to labor in the
word and doctrine_. To rule well, saith Hierom, is to fulfil his office;
or, as the Syriac interpreter expounds it, "to behave themselves well in
their place;" or as the Scripture speaks, _To go in and out before God's
people as becomes them, going before them in good works in their
private conversations, and also in their public administrations_; whence
the apostle makes here a comparison betwixt the duties of ministers
thus, "All presbyters that generally discharge their office well are
worthy of double honor; especially they who labor in the word, which is
a primary part of their office."[88]

_Ans_. 1. For substance this objection is the same with objection 10,
already answered, therefore much more needs not to be added. 2. It is to
be noted, that the apostle saith not, "Let the presbyters that rule well
be counted worthy of double honor, especially because they labor in the
word--for then he should have pointed at the distinct offices of
ministers;" but he saith, _especially they that labor_, which clearly
carries the sense to the distinction of elders themselves, who have
distinct employments. 3. If preaching presbyters only should here be
meant, and under that phrase (_that rule well_) their whole office in
general, and the right managing thereof, should be contained, whereas
_laboring in the word and doctrine_ (as this exception implies) is but
one part thereof, then hence it would inevitably follow, that a minister
deserves more honor for the well administration of one part of his
office only, than for the well managing of the whole, which is absurd!
Here therefore the apostle doth not compare one primary part of the
pastor's office, with the whole office and all the parts thereof; but
one sort of presbyters with another, distinguishing the mere ruling
presbyter from the ruling and preaching presbyter, as the acute and
learned Whitaker hath well observed.

_Except_. 12. It is evident in the text itself, that all these elders
here meant were worthy of double honor, whether they labored or
governed; which by St. Paul's proofs, presently following, and by the
consent of all old and new writers, is meant of their maintenance at the
charges of the Church.[89] Now that lay-judges and censors of manners
were in the apostle's time found at the expense of the Church, or by
God's law ought to have their maintenance at the people's hands, till I
see it justly proved, I cannot believe it: which yet must be proved
before this construction can be admitted.[90]

_Ans_. 1. This word _honor_ signifies (after the custom of the Hebrews,
Exod. xx. 12) all pious offices and relief. This phrase (_double honor_)
interpreters expound either absolutely or comparatively. Absolutely
thus: _double honor_, i.e. great honor, so some; maintenance in this
life, happiness in the life to come, so others; honor of reverence to
their persons, and of maintenance for their labors, so Chrysostom, of
which saith Calvin, "That Chrysostom interprets double honor to be
maintenance and reverence, I impugn not." Comparatively thus: _double
honor_ here seems to relate to what was before spoken, ver. 3, "Honor
widows that are widows indeed." Now here he intimates, that though
widows are to be honored, yet these should be much more honored; they
should have single, these double honor. In this last sense, which seems
most genuine, it seems most likely that the apostle here intended
principally, if not only, the honor of maintenance; partly because the
honor appointed for widows, ver. 3, &c., was only maintenance; partly
because the reason of this charge to honor, &c., refers only to
maintenance, ver. 18. Thus far we grant, that the text speaks of
maintenance. 2. It may be further yielded that all the presbyters here
spoken of are to be counted worthy of double honor, of honorable,
liberal maintenance; even they that rule well (if need require) are to
be thus honored, but the principal care of maintenance ought to be of
them that labor in the word and doctrine, because the apostle saith
_especially they that labor, &c._: the like injunction, see Gal. vi. 6,
"Let him that is catechized, communicate to him that catechizeth him in
all good things;" and thus much this text plainly evidenceth. 3. What
then can be inferred hereupon by the adversaries of ruling elders?
"Therefore the ruling elders (in the reformed churches) that take no
maintenance of the church, are not the elders that rule well here
mentioned?" This follows not: the apostle Paul took no wages of the
church of Corinth, 2 Cor. xi. 7-9, and xii. 12, 13, &c., was he
therefore not an apostle to them, as to other churches of whom he took
maintenance? Divers among us in these days labor in the word and
doctrine, and are not sufficiently maintained by their churches, but
forced to spend of their own estates to do others service; are they
therefore no ministers? _Forgive them this wrong_. Most churches are not
able (or at least not willing) to maintain their very preaching
presbyters and their families comfortably and sufficiently, as the
gospel requireth: if therefore in prudence, that the Church be not
needlessly burdened, those ruling elders are chosen generally that need
no maintenance, doth their not taking maintenance of the church make
their office null and void? Or if the church do not give them
maintenance (when they neither need it, nor desire it, nor is the church
able to do it) is the church therefore defective in her duty, or an ill
observer of the apostolical precepts? Sure maintenance is not
essentially and inseparably necessary to the calling of either ruling
or preaching elder. There may be cases when not only the preaching, but
the ruling elders ought to be maintained, and there may be cases when
not only the ruling but also the preaching presbyter (as it was with
Paul) should not expect to be maintained by the church. 4. It is as
observable that the apostle here saith, let them be counted worthy of
double honor, though the reformed churches do not actually give double
maintenance to elders that rule well, yet they count them worthy of
double maintenance, though the elders do not take it, though the
churches cannot give it.

Finally, unto these testimonies and arguments from Scripture, many
testimonies of ancient and modern writers (of no small repute in the
Church of God) may be usefully annexed, speaking for ruling elders in
the Church of Christ from time to time: some speaking of such sort of
elders, presbyters, or church-governors, as that ruling elders may very
well be implied in their expressions; some plainly declaring that the
Church of Christ _in fact_ had such officers for government thereof; and
some testifying that of right such officers ought to be in the Church of
Christ now under the New Testament for the well guiding thereof; by
which it may notably appear, that in asserting the office of the ruling
elder in the Church, we take not upon us to maintain any singular
paradox of our own devising, or to hold forth some new light in this old
opinionative age: and that the ruling elder is not a church officer
first coined at Geneva, and a stranger to the Church of Christ for the
first 1500 years, (as the adversaries of ruling elders scornfully
pretend,) but hath been owned by the Church of Christ as well in former
as in later times.[91]

_An Appendix touching the Divine Right of Deacons._

Though we cannot find in Scripture that the power of the keys is
committed by Christ unto deacons, with the other church governors, but
conceive that deacons, as other members of the church, are to be
governed, and are not to govern; yet forasmuch as deacons are ordinary
officers in the Church of God, of which she will have constant use in
all ages, and which at first were divinely appointed, and after
frequently mentioned in the New Testament; it will not be thought unfit,
before we conclude this section, touching the divine right of Christ's
church-officers, briefly to assert the divine right of deacons, as

Deacons in the church are an ordinance of Jesus Christ. For,

1. They are found in Christ's catalogue of church officers, distinct
from all other officers, both extraordinary and ordinary. _Helps_, 1
Cor. xii. 28. The Greek word in the natural acceptation properly
signifies, to lift over against one in taking up some burden or weight;
metaphorically, it here is used for deacons, whose office it is to
_help_ and _succor the poor and sick, to lend them a hand to lift them
up_, &c., and this office is here distinctly laid down from all other
ordinary and extraordinary offices in the text. So they are
distinguished from all ordinary officers reckoned up, Rom. xii. 7, 8:
under _prophecy_, there is the _teacher_ and _pastor_; under _ministry_,
the _ruling elder_, and the _deacon_, verse 8. This officer was so well
known, and usual in the primitive churches, that when the apostle writes
to the church at Philippi, he directs his epistle not only to the
saints, but to the officers, viz. _to the overseers, and deacons_,
Philip, i. 1. The occasion of the first institution of this office, see
in Acts vi. 1, 2, &c. At the first planting of the Christian Church, the
apostles themselves took care to receive the churches' goods, and to
distribute to every one of their members _as they had need_, Acts iv.
34, 35; but in the increase of the church, the burden of this care of
distributing alms increasing also, upon some complaints of the Greeks,
_that their widows were neglected_, the office of deacons was erected,
for better provision for the poor, Acts vi. 1-7; and because the
churches are never like to want poor and afflicted persons, there will
be constant need of this officer. The pastor and deacon under the New
Testament seem to answer the priests and Levites under the Old

2. The qualifications of deacons are laid down by Christ in the New
Testament, at large: 1 Tim. iii. 8-14, _Deacons also must be grave, not
double-tongued_, &c., and Acts vi. 3, 5.

3. The manner also of deacons' vocation or calling unto their office is
delineated, viz: 1. They must be chosen by the church; "Look ye out
among you seven men of honest report," &c., "and they chose Stephen,"
&c., Acts vi. 3, 5. 2. They must first be proved and tried by the
officers of the church, before they may officiate as deacons; "and let
these also first be proved, then let them use the office of a deacon,
being blameless," 1 Tim. iii. 10. 3. They must be appointed by the
officers of the church to their office, and set apart with prayer, Acts
vi. 3, 6: "Look ye out men--whom we may appoint over this business--whom
they set before the apostles, and when they had prayed, they laid their
hands on them."

4. Deacons have by Scripture their work and employment appointed them.
Their work is, _to serve tables_, (hence the name deacon seems derived,)
Acts vi. 2, 3. To be an help, no hinderance in the church; called
_helps_, 1 Cor. xii. 18.

5. Deacons have a divine approbation and commendation in Scripture, if
they execute their office well. "For they that have used the office of a
deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in
the faith which is in Christ Jesus," 1 Tim. iii. 13. Here the well
administration of deaconship is commended as producing two good effects
to such deacons, viz: 1. _A good degree_, i.e. great honor, dignity, and
reputation, both to themselves and to their office; they adorn, grace,
and credit their office in the church; not that they purchase to
themselves by desert a higher office in the church, that from deacons
they should be advanced to be presbyters, as some would interpret this
text. 2. _Much boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus._ For
nothing makes a man more bold than a good conscience in the upright and
faithful discharge of our duties in our callings; innocency and
integrity make brave spirits; such with great confidence and boldness
serve Christ and the church, being men that may be trusted to the
uttermost. Now where God thus approves or commends the well managing of
an office, he also divinely approves and allows the office itself, and
the officer that executes the same.[92]


2. _Of the first receptacle, or subject of the power of church
government from Christ, viz. Christ's own officers._

Touching the second, that Jesus Christ our Mediator hath peculiarly
intrusted his own officers with the power of church government: take it

Jesus Christ our Mediator did immediately commit the proper, formal,
ministerial, or stewardly authority and power for governing of his
church to his own church guides as the proper immediate receptacle or
first subject thereof.

For explication of this proposition, four things are to be opened.

1. What is meant by proper, formal, ministerial or stewardly authority
and power for church government? See this already discussed, Part 2,
chapters III., V., and IX., in the beginning of Section 2, so that here
there needs no further addition, as to this point.

2. What is meant by church guides? By church guides here understand,
negatively, 1. Not the political magistrate. For though he be the
_nurse-father_ of the church, Isa. xlix. 23, _the keeper and avenger of
both the tables_; and _have an outward care of religion_, and _may
exercise a political power about sacred things_, as did Asa,
Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, &c., yet hath he no proper, inward,
formal power in sacred things, nor is it lawful for him to exercise the
same; as Korah, Num. xvi.; King Saul, 1 Sam. xiii. 9-15; Uzzah, 2 Sam.
vi. 6-8, 1 Chron. xiii. 9, 10; and King Uzziah, 2 Chron. xxvi. 16-22,
did to the provoking of God, and to their own destruction. (But see what
power is granted, and what denied to the civil magistrate in matters of
religion, and why, Part 2, Chap. IX. Sect. 1.) 2. Not any officer of
man's mere invention and setting up in the church, whether papal, as
cardinals, &c., prelatical, as deans, archdeacons, chancellors,
officials, &c., or political, as committees, commissioners, &c. For who
can create and institute a new kind of offices in the church, but Jesus
Christ only, who alone hath the lordly magisterial power as Mediator
appropriated to him? Eph. iv. 8, 11; Rom. xii. 5-8; 1 Cor. xii. 28; and
therefore how can such acts be sufficiently excused from bold usurpation
upon Christ's own prerogative? 3. Nor the deacons themselves, (though
officers of Christ's appointment, as was formerly proved;) for their
office is not to rule and govern, but _to serve tables_, &c., Acts vi.
2, 3. None of these are the church guides which Christ hath committed
his proper power unto. But affirmatively understand all these church
guides extraordinary and ordinary, which Christ hath erected in his
Church, vesting them with power and authority therein, viz. apostles,
prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, governments, or ruling
elders, mentioned together in Eph. iv. 8, 11; 1 Cor. xii. 28; 1 Tim. v.
17; Rom. xii. 6-8. These are Christ's own church officers, these Christ
hath made the immediate receptacle and first subject of the keys, or of
ecclesiastical power derived from himself.

3. What is meant by Christ's committing this stewardly power first and
immediately to the church guides? _Ans_. There is, 1. A priority and
immediateness of the donation of the power of the keys: thus Christ
first and immediately gave keys to his own officers, whom Scripture,
therefore, calls _the ministers of Christ_, (not of the Church,) 1 Cor.
iv. 1, not first and immediately to the community of the faithful, or
Church, and then by the Church secondarily and mediately to the
officers, as her substitutes and delegates, acting for her, and not in
virtue of their own power from Christ. 2. A priority and immediateness
of designation of particular individual persons to the office of
key-bearing, and this is done by the mediate intervening act of the
church officers in separating of particular persons to the office which
Christ instituted; though it is not denied but that the church or
company of the faithful may lawfully nominate or elect individual
persons to be officers in the congregation, which yet is no act of
authority or power.

4. How hath Christ committed this power of the keys to his church
guides, that thereby they become the most proper receptacle thereof?
_Ans_. Thus briefly. All absolute lordly power is in God originally: all
lordly magisterial mediatory power is in Christ dispensatorily: all
official, stewardly power is by delegation from Christ only in the
church guides[93] ministerially, as the only proper subject thereof that
may exercise the same lawfully in Christ's name: yet all power, both
magisterial in Christ, and ministerial in Christ's officers, is for the
Church of Christ and her edification objectively and finally.

These things thus explained and stated, we come now to the confirmation
of the proposition. Consider these arguments:

1. Jesus Christ committed immediately ecclesiastical power and the
exercise thereof to his church guides. Thus we may argue:

_Major_. All those that have ecclesiastical power, and the exercise
thereof, immediately committed to them from Jesus Christ, are the
immediate subject or receptacle of that power.

For what makes any persons the immediate subject of power, but the
immediate derivation and commission of power to them from Jesus Christ,
who is the fountain of all power?

_Minor_. But the church guides have the ecclesiastical power and the
exercise thereof immediately committed to them from Jesus Christ. This
may be evinced many ways by Scriptures. 1. It is said expressly, "Of
our authority which the Lord hath given us for your edification," 2 Cor.
10, 8: by _us_ here we are to understand church guides, for here they
are set in opposition to the church members (_for edification_,) not
destruction of (you.) Here are edifiers and edified. Now these church
guides have authority given them, and that from the Lord, i.e. Christ;
here is their commission or power, not from the Church or any creature,
but from Christ; hence the apostle calls church guides, "Your rulers or
guides in the Lord," 1 Thes. v. 12; _in the Lord_, i.e. by the Lord's
authority and commission. So that church officers are _rulers in the
Lord_, and the churches ruled by them; yea, ruling elders being one sort
of church guides, have such an undoubted power of governing in the
Church divinely committed to them, that of them it is said, "God hath
set in the church governments", 1 Cor. xii. 28, i.e. governors, the
abstract being put for the concrete. If _God have set governors in the
Church_, then God vested those governors with a power of governing,
whence they have their name of governments.

2. The keys of the kingdom of heaven, with all their acts, were
immediately committed to the church guides, viz. to the apostles and
their successors to the end of the world; compare these testimonies,
Matt. xvi. 16, 19, and xviii. 18-20; John xx. 21-23; with Matt, xxviii.
18-20: therefore consequently ecclesiastical power was committed
immediately unto them as the subject thereof. For, _By the kingdom of
heaven_ here we are to understand (according to the full latitude of the
phrase) both the kingdom of grace in this world, and of glory in the
world to come; _binding and loosing both in earth and in heaven_, upon
the right use of the keys, being here the privileges promised to church
guides; and _by kingdom of heaven_--on earth, understand the whole
visible Church of Christ in the earth, not only some single
congregation. By _keys of the kingdom of heaven_, thus apprehend, Christ
promiseth and giveth not the sword _of the kingdom_, any secular power;
nor the sceptre _of the kingdom_, any sovereign, lordly, magisterial
power over the Church. But the _keys_, &c. i.e. a stewardly, ministerial
power, and their acts, _binding and loosing_, i.e. _retaining and
remitting sins on earth_, (as in John it is explained;) opening and
shutting are proper acts of keys; binding and loosing but metaphorical,
viz. a speech borrowed from bonds or chains wherewith men's bodies are
bound in prison or in captivity, or from which the body is loosed: we
are naturally all under sin, Rom. v. 12, and therefore liable to death,
Rom. vi. 23. Now sins are to the soul as bonds and cords, Prov. v. 22.
_The bond of iniquity_, Acts viii. 23; and death with the pains thereof,
are as chains, 2 Pet. ii. 4, Jude 6; in hell as in a prison, 1 Pet.
iii. 10: the remission or retaining of these sins, is the loosing or the
binding of the soul under these cords and chains. So that the keys
themselves are not material but metaphorical; a metaphor from stewards
in great men's houses, kings' houses, &c., into whose hands the whole
trust and ordering of household affairs is committed, who take in and
cast out servants, open and shut doors, &c., do all without control of
any in the family save the master of the family. Such, in the Hebrew
phrase, are said to be _over the house_, Gen. xliii. 18; Isa. xxii. 15;
2 Kings xviii. 18: and the keys of the house are committed to them as a
badge of their power. So that when God threatens to put Shebna out of
his office in the king's house, and to place Eliakim, son of Hilkiah, in
his room, he saith, "I will commit thy government into his hand--and the
key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder," Isa. xxii. 21,
22, parallel of that phrase, "and the government shall be upon his
shoulder," Isa. ix. 6. Hence, as key is in the Old Testament used for
stewardly power and government, Isa. xxii. 21, 22; (only twice properly,
Judges iii. 25; 1 Chron. ix. 27;) so in the New Testament, _key_ is
always used, metaphorically, to denote power, and that about
ecclesiasticals or spirituals, viz. in Matt. xvi. 19; Luke xi. 52; Rev.
i. 18, and iii. 7, and ix. 1, and xx. 1. So that _keys_, &c., are
metaphorically the ordinances which Christ hath instituted, to be
dispensed in his church, preaching the word, administrations of the
seals and censures: for it is not said _key_, but _keys_, which
comprehendeth them all: by the right use of which both the gates of the
Church here, and of heaven hereafter, are opened or shut to believers or
unbelievers; and Christ promising or giving these _keys_ to Peter and
the apostles, and their successors _to the end of the world_, Matt.
xxviii. 20, doth intrust and invest them with power and authority of
dispensing these ordinances for this end, and so makes them _stewards_
in his house _of the mysteries of God_, 1 Cor. iv. 1, so that we may

_Conclusion_. Therefore the church guides are the immediate subject and
receptacle of that ecclesiastical power, and of the exercise thereof.

_Argum_. II. Jesus Christ our Mediator did institute ecclesiastical
offices for church government under the New Testament before any
Christian Church under the New Testament was gathered or constituted.
Therefore those persons that were intrusted with those offices must
needs be the first and immediate receptacle or subject of the power of
the keys. Thus we may argue:

_Major_. All those whose ecclesiastical offices for church government,
under the New Testament, were instituted by Christ, before any formal
visible Christian Church was gathered or constituted, are the first and
immediate receptacle or subject of the power of the keys from Jesus

_Minor_. But the ecclesiastical offices of Christ's own officers for
governing of the Church, now under the New Testament, were instituted by
Christ before any formal visible Christian Church was gathered or

_Conclusion_. Therefore Christ's own officers for governing of the
Church now under the New Testament are the first and immediate
receptacle or subject of the keys from Jesus Christ.

The major proposition cannot reasonably be denied, and may be further
cleared by these considerations, viz: 1. That the Church offices for
church government under the New Testament are in their own nature
intrinsically offices of power. The apostle styles it _power_, or
_authority_, which is _given_ to these officers by _the Lord_, 2 Cor. x.
8, and xiii. 10. _The keys of the kingdom of heaven_ are committed to
them, Matt. xvi. 19, and _keys_ import a stewardly power: compare Matt.
xvi. 19, and xviii. 18, John xx. 21, 23, with Isa. xxii. 21, 22.
Materially, the acts and exercise of these officers are acts of power,
as _binding, loosing_, &c., Matt, xviii. 18; not only _preaching_, &c.,
but _excommunicating_, is an act of power, 1 Cor. v. 4. Absolving the
penitent, and confirming him again in the Church's love, is an act of
power:--_to confirm love unto him_, i.e. authoritatively to confirm,
&c., as the word signifies, 2 Cor. ii. 8. Formally, these acts are to be
done as acts of power, in Christ's name, and by his authority, Matt.
xxviii. 19; 1 Cor. v. 4. Now if these offices be in their own nature
offices of power, consequently they that have such offices conferred
upon them by Christ, before the Christian Church had being or existence,
they must needs be the first and immediate recipient subject of the
power of the keys from Christ. 2. Either those church officers, whose
offices were instituted before the Christian Church was constituted,
must be the first subject of the power, &c., or some others. If any
other, then, 1. Either heathens, or heathen magistrates, who are out of
the Church: but both these were absurd to grant; for then they that are
not so much as church members should be church governors, and the Church
be ecclesiastically judged by them that are without. 2. Or the first
subject of this power was the Christian Church itself before it had
existence; but that were notoriously absurd; and besides these, no other
can be imagined, but the church officers; therefore they must needs be
the first subject of the power of the keys.

The minor proposition (viz. But the ecclesiastical offices of Christ's
own officers for governing of the Church now under the New Testament,
were instituted by Christ before any formal visible Christian Church
was gathered or constituted) is so evident in the current of the New
Testament, that it needs little confirmation. For, 1. The church offices
under the New Testament, as apostleship, pastorship, &c., were
instituted by Christ either before his death--compare these places
together, Mark iii. 13, 14, &c.; Luke ix. 1, &c., and x. 1, 2, &c.; John
xx. 21-23; Matt, xxviii. 18-20--or presently upon his ascension, Eph.
iv. 8, 11, 12, &c.; Acts ii.; 1 Cor. xiii. 28. Now no formal Christian
Church was constituted and gathered till the feast of Pentecost and
afterwards. Then, after the apostles had received the gifts of the Holy
Ghost, &c., Acts ii., great multitudes of Jews and Gentiles were
converted to Christ, and being converted, incorporated and associated
themselves into churches, as the history of the Acts, chap, ii., and
forward, evidenceth abundantly. 2. Church officers, under the New
Testament, are for the calling and gathering men unto Christ, and to his
body mystical; and for admitting of those that believe into that one
body, Matt, xxviii. 18, 19; 1 Cor. xii. 28. And is not he that calleth,
before them that are called by them; they that baptize, before the
baptized; and they that gather the churches, before those churches which
they gather? May we not hence conclude, _Therefore_, &c.

_Argum_. III. The names, titles, and other denominations purposely and
peculiarly given to the church guides in Scripture, generally do bear
power and authority engraven upon their foreheads. _Therefore_, they are
the proper, immediate, and only subjects of ecclesiastical power. Thus
we may argue:

_Major_. All those persons in the Church, that have such names, titles,
or denominations given to them peculiarly in the Scriptures by the
Spirit of Christ, as generally have authority and power engraven upon
them in reference to the Church, are the immediate and only proper
subjects of ecclesiastical power.

_Minor_. But Christ's officers in the Church have such names, titles, or
denominations given to them peculiarly in the Scriptures by the Spirit
of Christ, as generally have authority and power engraven upon them in
reference to the Church.

_Conclusion_. Therefore Christ's own officers in the Church are the
proper, immediate, and only subjects or receptacles of ecclesiastical

This major proposition must be granted. For, 1. Is not this the Holy
Ghost's familiar and ordinary manner in Scripture, to give titles and
denominations, which are apt, pertinent, significative and instructing
both to others and themselves that have such denominations conferred
upon them? As in the family, the husband is called _the head of the
wife_, 1 Cor. xi., because he is to govern, she is to be subject: the
wife is called _an help-meet_, &c., Gen. ii.: to teach the wife her
duty, to help his good and comfort every way, to hinder it no way. So in
the commonwealth, magistrates are called _heirs of restraint, to put men
to shame_, Judges xviii. 7, because they are to restrain disorders,
shame evil-doers: higher powers, to teach others subjection to them,
Rom. xiii. 1. "An ordinance of man or human creation," 1 Pet. ii. 13:
because, though magistracy in general be an ordinance of God, yet this
or that special kind of magistracy, whether monarchical, aristocratical,
&c., is of man. Thus in the Church: the Church is called _Christ's
body_, Ephes. iv. 12, to show Christ's headship, the Church's subjection
to Christ, and their near union to one another. Christians are called
_members_, Rom. xii.; 1 Cor. xii., to teach them mutual love, care, and
serviceableness to one another. Ministers are called _ambassadors of
Christ_, 2 Cor. v. _Angels of the churches_, Rev. ii., to teach them to
be faithful in their offices, and others to respect them for their
offices. _Salt of the earth_, Matt. v. 13, because they are to season
others spiritually. _Stars_, Rev. i., because they are to shine forth
for the enlightening and guiding of others, &c. 2. If this proposition
be denied, then to what end are such names and denominations, importing
authority, generally given by the Spirit of God to some sort of persons
only, and not to others? Is it for no end? That would be a dangerous
charge upon the Spirit of Christ. Is it for any end? Then what other can
be imagined, than to signify, hold forth, and instruct both themselves
and others in their duties, and to distinguish them that are vested with
authority in the Church, from them that are not?

The _major proposition_ (viz. But Christ's own officers in the Church
have such names, titles, or denominations given to them peculiarly in
the Scriptures by the Spirit of Christ, as generally have authority and
power engraven upon them in reference to the Church) may be evinced, 1.
By induction of particular names attributed to Christ's officers. 2. By
a denial of them, or the like, to any other members of the Church.

1. By induction of particular titles or denominations attributed to
Christ's officers, which generally have power and authority palpably
engraven upon them: (yea, the self-same names are given to them, by
which not only heathen writers, but also the Greek version of the Old
Testament by the Septuagint, and the very original of the New Testament
are wont to give to political officers, to express their political
authority, power, and government,) as, for instance:

1. _Presbyter or elder_, is ascribed often to Christ's church officers,
as in Acts xiv. 23, and xv. 2, 4, and xx. 17; 1 Tim. v. 17; Tit. v.; 1
Pet. v. 1. This same word is ascribed to _rulers political_, to _elders
in the gate_, by the Septuagint, in Judges viii. 14; Ruth iv. 2, 3; 2
Sam. v. 3; 1 Chron. vi. 3.

2. _Overseer_ or _bishop_, noting authority and power in having the
charge and oversight of the flock, is ascribed to church officers in
Acts xx. 28; Phil. i. 1; 1 Tim. iii. 2; Tit. i. 7. This same word is
used by the Septuagint, to denote the power of the civil magistrate, to
whom the care and oversight of the commonwealth is committed, Numb.
xxxi. 14; Judges ix. 28; 2 Kings xi. 15.

3. _Guide, leader, conductor, captain, governor_, signifies them all,
and is given to church officers, as contradistinct from the _church_ and
_saints_, Heb. xiii. 7, 17, 24. It is also attributed to civil rulers to
set forth their power, in Deut. i. 13; Micah iii. 9, 11; 2 Chron. v. 1;
Ezek. xliv. 3, and xlv. 7; Dan. iii. 2; Acts vii. 10. This very word
_governor_, is attributed to Christ himself, _out of thee shall come
forth a governor, that shall rule_ (or _feed_) _my people Israel_, Matt.
ii. 6.

4. _Steward, dispenser_. "Stewards of the mysteries of God," is the
title given to ministers, 1 Cor. iv. 1, 2. "Steward of God," Tit. i. 7.
"That faithful and wise steward, whom his Lord shall make ruler over his
household," &c., Luke xii. 42. This also is a title of power given to
them that are set over families, as Gal. iv. 2, "he is under tutors and
stewards." And to them that are set over cities--as Rom. xvi. 23,
"Erastus the steward" (or as we render it, _the chamberlain_) "of the
city saluteth you."

5. _Pastor_ is ascribed to Christ's officers; Eph. iv. 11, "and some
pastors and teachers." They govern the Church as the shepherd his flock,
feeding, ruling them as well with the shepherd's staff, as with food.
This term is sometimes given to civil magistrates, Isa. xliv. 28; Micah
v. 5: sometimes to Christ the great shepherd of the sheep, 1 Pet. v. 4;
noting his authority, Matt. xxvi. 31; John x. 2, 11, 14, 16; Heb. xiii.
20; 1 Pet. ii. 25: sometimes to God himself the supreme Ruler of the
world, Ps. lxxx. 1.

6. _Governments_, a denomination given to _ruling elders_, 1 Cor. xii.
28, as hath been proved Sect. 1 of this Chapter. A metaphor from
mariners or pilots, that steer and govern the ship: translated thence,
to signify the power and authority of church governors, spiritual
pilots, steering the ship or ark of Christ's Church. This word is used
also by heathen authors, to signify political governors.[94]

_Ruler_. 1 Tim. v. 17, "Let the elders that rule well"--and,

"He that ruleth," Rom. xii. 8, and "Your rulers in the Lord," 1 Thes.
v. 12, viz. not only in the fear of the Lord,[95] nor only in those
things that appertain to God's worship,[96] but also in the Lord; i.e.
who are over you, to rule according to the will of the Lord,[97] even by
the Lord Christ's power and authority derived to them. Now these names
are among heathen authors ascribed to rulers of cities, armies, and

By these among other titles given to Christ's officers in Scripture, he
that runs may read a plain authority and power enstamped on them in
reference to the Church; and consequently on them that are thus
denominated, unless they be applied to them improperly, unfitly,
abusively; which we suppose no sober intelligent reader dare affirm.

2. By a denial of these and like titles to the whole Church of Christ,
or to any other members of the Church whatsoever, besides church
officers. For where can it be showed in all the book of God, that in
this sense, either the whole Church or any members thereof besides
officers, are ever styled _presbyters, bishops, governors, stewards of
God, or of the mysteries of God, pastors, governments, or rulers_? The
greatest factors for popular government must let this alone forever.
Thus, from all that hath been said, we need not fear to conclude:

_Conclusion_. Therefore Christ's own officers in the Church are the
proper, immediate, and only subjects or receptacles of ecclesiastical

_Argum_. IV. The relations which Christ's officers have unto his Church,
imply and comprehend in themselves authority and power in reference to
the Church, and therefore they are the proper subjects of ecclesiastical
power. Thus we reason:

_Major_. Whosoever they are that peculiarly stand in such relations to
the Church of Christ, as imply and comprehend in themselves authority
and power for governing of the Church, they are the only subject of
ecclesiastical power.

This proposition is evident; for, otherwise, to what end are those
peculiar relations to the Church which comprehend government in them,
unless such as are so peculiarly related be the only subjects of
government? Shall all those relations be mere names and shadows? or
shall others in the church be counted the subject of this authority and
power for church government, that have no such relations to the Church
at all implying any such power?

_Minor_. But the officers of Christ peculiarly stand in such relations
to the Church of Christ as imply and comprehend in themselves authority
and power for the government of the church.

This assumption or minor proposition will be evident by a due induction
of some of their particular relations that have such power enstamped on
them; as for instance, Christ's officers stand in these relations of
power to the Church and people of God.

1. _They are pastors_, Eph. iv. 11. The church is the _flock_, John x.
16; 1 Cor. ix. 7; _flock_, Acts xx. 28, 29; 1 Pet. v. 2, 3. Hath not the
_pastor_ power to rule and govern his _flock_?

2. They are _stewards_. "Who is that faithful and wise steward?" Luke
xii. 42. "Stewards of the mysteries of God," 1 Cor. iv. 1, 2. "Stewards
of God," Tit. i. 7. The Church and people of God are the Lord's
_household_, over which these stewards are set, &c., Luke xii. 42.
_God's house_, 1 Tim. iii. 15; Heb. iii. 6. Have not stewards power to
govern and order those _families_ over which they are set, and wherewith
they are intrusted? Gal. iv. 1.

3. They are _bishops_ or _overseers_, Phil. i. 1; 1 Tim. iii. 2; Tit. i.
7. The Church and people of God are that _charge_ which the Lord hath
committed to their inspection. "Over which the Holy Ghost hath made you
overseers," Acts xx. 28. Have not _overseers_ power over that which is
_committed to their inspection_?

4. They are _catechizers_ and _teachers_, Rom. xii. 7, 8; Eph. iv. 11.
The Church and people are _catechized_, Gal. vi. 6; _taught_. Hath not
he that _catechizeth_ power for government of him that is _catechized_?
He that _teacheth_ of him that is _taught_?

5. They are _co-workers_ with God, 1 Cor. iii. 9; 2 Cor. vi. 1.
_Architects, builders_, &c., 1 Cor. iii. 10; some of them _laying the
foundation, others building thereupon_. The Church and people of God are
God's building. "Ye are God's building," 1 Cor. iii. 9. Have not
_builders_ power of disposing and ordering affairs appertaining to the

6. Finally, to add no more, the officers of Christ in the Church are not
only as _nurses_; "We _were_ gentle among you, even as a nurse
cherisheth her children," 1 Thess. ii. 7: and as _mothers_; "My little
children, of whom I travail in birth again," Gal. iv. 19: but also as
_fathers_, 1 Thess. ii. 11; 1 Cor. iv. 15, spiritual fathers in Christ:
and the Church and people of God, they are the _sons_ and _daughters_,
the spiritual _babes_ and _children_, begotten, brought forth, and
nursed up by them, 1 Thess. ii. 7, 11; Gal. iv. 19: and have fathers no
authority nor power of government over their children? See Eph. vi. 1-3;
1 Tim. iii. 4.

Thus Christ's officers stand in such relation to the Church as do
evidently carry power of government along with them; but where are any
other members of the church besides officers, stated in such relation of
_pastors, stewards, overseers, catechizers, builders, husbandmen,
nurses, mothers_, and _fathers_ to the Church of God and members of
Christ, that can be evidenced by the Scriptures? Why may we not then
clearly conclude,

_Conclusion_. Therefore the officers of Christ are the only subjects of
ecclesiastical power.

_Argum_. V. The many divine commands and impositions of duties of
obedience, submission, subjection, &c., upon the Church and people of
God, to be performed by them to Christ's officers, and that in reference
to their office, do plainly proclaim the officers of Christ to be the
proper receptacle and subject of authority and power from Christ for the
government of his Church. Thus it may be argued:

_Major_. Whatsoever persons they are to whom the Church and people of
God are peculiarly bound by the commands of Christ, to perform duties of
obedience and subjection, and that in reference to their office in the
church, they are the only subjects of authority from Christ for the
government of his Church.

This proposition needs no proof, unless we will be so absurd as to say
that the Church and people of God are peculiarly obliged by Christ's
command to obey and be subject to them, that yet have no peculiar
authority nor power over them, and that in reference to their office in
the church.

_Minor_. But the officers of Christ are those to whom the Church and
people of God are peculiarly bound by the commands of Christ to perform
duties of obedience and subjection, and that in reference to their
office in the church.

This assumption or minor proposition may be evidenced, 1. Partly by
induction of some particular instances of Christ's commands, whereby the
Church and people of God are bound to perform duties of obedience and
subjection to the officers of Christ, in reference to their office in
the church. 2. Partly by a denial of the like commands in reference to
all others in the church, except the officers of the church only.

Touching the first, viz. the instances of such commands, consider these
following. The Church and people of God are commanded,

1. To know their rulers. "We beseech you, brethren, to know them that
labor among you, and are over you in the Lord," 1 Thess. v. 12. _To
know_, i.e., not simply and merely to know, but to acknowledge, accept,
and approve of them as such rulers over you in the Lord. This teaches
subjection to the office of ruling.

2. To love them exceedingly for their work's sake. "Esteem them
superabundantly in love for their work's sake," 1 Thess. v. 13. For what
work? viz. both laboring and ruling, mentioned verse 12. If they must
love them so exceedingly for ruling over them, must they not much more
be obedient to this rule?

3. To count them worthy of double honor in reference to their
well-ruling. "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double
honor, especially--," 1 Tim. v. 17: whether we take _double honor_ here
for reverence or maintenance, or both; yet how can we esteem the _elders
ruling well worthy of double honor_ without some submission to their

4. To obey them that are their rulers and governors. _Obey ye your
rulers, or governors_, Heb. xiii. 17; where the words _obey ye_ doth not
(as some dream) signify a persuasion, but obedience, and in this sense
it is commonly used, not only in profane authors, but also in the Holy
Scriptures, as James iii. 3, Gal. iii. 1.

5. Finally, to submit and be subordinate unto them. The Church and
people of God are charged to submit unto them. "Obey your governors and
submit ye," Heb. xiii. 17. The word properly notes a submissive yielding
without opposition or resistance; yea, it signifies intense obedience.
They must not only yield, but yield with subjection and submission,
which relates to authority. They are also charged to be subordinate to
them. "Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves to the elders," 1 Pet. v.
5; i.e., _be ye subordinate_, (it is a military term,) viz: be ordered,
ranked, guided, governed, disciplined by them, as soldiers are by their
commanders. The word _elders_ here is by some taken only for elders in
age, and not in office. But it seems better to interpret it of elders in
office; and the context well agrees with this; for the apostle having
immediately before charged the ruling preaching presbyters with their
duties towards their flock, ver. 1-4, here he seems to enjoin the ruled
flock (which commonly were younger in age and gifts) to look to their
duties of subjection to their elders in office.

Touching the second, viz. the denial of like commands, and upon like
grounds to all others in the church, except to the church officers only:
where can it be evidenced in all the Scriptures that the people of God
are commanded to know, to esteem very highly in love, to count worthy of
double honor, to obey, and submit themselves to any persons in the
church but to the ruling officers thereof in reference to their office,
and the due execution thereof?

Now, seeing the Church and people of God are peculiarly obliged, by so
many commands of Christ, to perform such duties of subjection and
obedience to the officers of Christ, may it not be concluded,

Therefore the officers of Christ are the only subjects of authority from
Christ for the government of his Church?

_Argum_. VI. Finally, the directions touching rule and government in the
Church; the encouragements to well-ruling by commendations, promises,
rewards, together with the contrary deterring discouragements from
ill-ruling, by discommendations, threats, &c., being specially applied
and appropriated by the word of Christ unto Christ's officers, very
notably discover to us that Christ's officers are the only subjects of
power from Christ for the government of his Church. Thus it may be

_Major_. Whatsoever persons in the Church have directions for church
government, encouragements to well-ruling, and discouragements from
ill-ruling, particularly and peculiarly applied unto them by the word of
Christ; they are the only subjects of power from Christ for the
government of his Church:

This proposition is evident: For, 1. How should it be consistent with
the infinite wisdom of God peculiarly to apply unto them directions
about ruling and governing the church that are not the only subjects in
whom the power of government is intrusted by Jesus Christ? 2. How can it
stand with the justice of God to encourage them only unto well-ruling,
by commendations, promises, rewards, &c., or to deter them from
ill-governing by dispraises, threats, &c., &c., to whom the power of
government doth not appertain, as to the only subjects thereof? 3. What
strange apprehensions and distractions would this breed in the hearts of
Christ's officers and others, should those that have not the power of
church government committed to them by Christ, be yet directed by his
word how to govern, encouraged in governing well, and deterred from
governing ill?

_Minor_. But the officers of Christ in the church have directions for
church government, encouragements to well-ruling, and discouragements
from ill-ruling, particularly and peculiarly applied unto them by the
word of God.

This assumption or minor proposition may be cleared by divers Scriptures
according to the particular branches thereof, viz:

1. Directions for church government are particularly applied by the word
of Christ to his own officers: as for instance, they are directed to
_bind and loose_--to _remit_ and _retain sins on earth_, Matt. xvi. 19,
and xviii. 18; John xx. 21, 23. _To judge them that are within the_
Church, _not without_, 1 Cor. v. 12. _Not to lord it, domineer_, or
_overrule the flock of Christ_, 1 Pet. v. To _rule well_, 1 Tim. v. 17.
To rule _with diligence_, Rom. xii. 8. To _lay hands suddenly on no man,
neither to be partakers of other men's sins, but to keep themselves
pure_, 1 Tim. v. 22. _Not to prefer one before another, nor do anything
by partiality_, 1 Tim. v. 21. _To rebuke them that sin before all, that
others also may fear_, 1 Tim. v. 20. _To reject a heretic after once or
twice admonition_, Tit. iii. 10. To use the _authority that is given
them from the Lord to the edification, not to the destruction_ of the
Church, 2 Cor. x. 8, and xiii. 10; with divers such like rules specially
directed to Christ's officers.

2. Encouragements to well-ruling are peculiarly directed to Christ's
officers. For, 1. They are the persons specially commended in that
respect; _well-ruling_, 1 Tim. v. 17. _Good and faithful steward_, Luke
xii. 42. The angels of the churches are praised for their good
government, Rev. ii. 2, 3, 6, and ver. 18, 19. 2. They are the persons
to whom the promises, in reference to good government, are directed, as
Matt. xvi. 19, and xviii. 18-20; John xx. 21, 23; Matt. xxviii. 19, 20;
Luke xii. 42-44; 1 Pet. v. 4. 3. They are the persons whom the Lord will
have peculiarly rewarded, now with _double honor_, 1 Tim. v. 17;
hereafter with _endless glory_, 1 Pet. v. 4.

3. Discouragements, deterring from ill-governing, are also specially
applied to Christ's officers, whether by way of dispraise or threats,
&c., Rev. ii. 12, 14-16, and ver. 18, 20.

Now if, 1. Rules for church government, 2. Encouragements in reference
to well ruling, and, 3. Discouragements in reference to ill-ruling, be
so peculiarly directed by the word of Christ to his own officers, we may

Therefore the officers of Christ in the Church are the only subjects of
power from Christ for the government of his Church.

_Object_. But the church[99] of a particular congregation fully
furnished with officers, and rightly walking in judgment and peace, is
the first subject of all church authority, as appears from the example
of the church of Corinth in the excommunication of the incestuous
Corinthian, 1 Cor. v. 1-5; wherein it appears that the presbytery alone
did not put forth this power, but the brethren also concurred in this
sentence with some act of power, (viz. a negative power:) for, 1. The
reproof, for not proceeding to sentence sooner, is directed to the whole
Church, as well as to the presbytery. They are all blamed for not
mourning, &c., 1 Cor. v. 2. 2. The command is directed to them all, when
they are gathered together, (_and what is that but to a church
meeting?_) to proceed against him, 1 Cor. v. 4, 13. 3. He declareth this
act of theirs, in putting him out, to be a judicial act, ver. 12. 4.
Upon his repentance the apostle speaketh to the brethren, as well as to
their elders, to forgive him, 2 Cor. ii. 4-10. Consequently, Christ's
church officers are not the peculiar, immediate, or only subject of the
power of the keys, as hath been asserted.

_Ans_. I. As for the main proposition asserted in this objection,
something hath been formerly laid down to show the unsoundness of it.
(See chap. X. near the end.) Whereunto thus much may be superadded. 1.
What necessity is there that a particular congregation should be fully
furnished with officers, to make it the subject of all church authority?
For deacons are one sort of officers, yet what authority is added to the
Church by the addition of deacons, whose office it is only to serve
tables, Acts vi., not to rule the Church? or if the Church have no
deacons, as once it had not, Acts i. 2, and before that, all the time
from Christ, wherein is she maimed or defective in her authority? 2. If
the Church, fully furnished with officers, yet walk not in judgment and
peace, then in such case it is granted, that a particular congregation
is not the first subject of all church authority. Then a congregation
that walks in error or heresy, or passion, or profaneness, all which are
contrary to judgment; and that walks in divisions, schisms, contentions,
&c., which are contrary to peace, loseth her authority. Stick but close
to this principle, and you will quickly lay the church authority of most
independent congregations in the dust. But who shall determine whether
they walk in judgment and peace, or not? Not themselves; for that were
to make parties judges in their own case, and would produce a very
partial sentence. Not sister churches; for all particular churches,
according to them, have equal authority, and none may usurp one over
another. Not a presbyterial church, for such they do not acknowledge.
Then it must be left undetermined, yea undeterminable, (according to
their principles;) consequently, who can tell when they have any
authority at all? 3. Suppose the congregation had all her officers, and
walked in judgment and peace also, yet is she not the first subject of
all authority; for there is a synodal authority, beyond a congregational
authority, as confessed by Mr. Cotton.[100]

II. As for the proofs of this proposition asserted here, they seem
extremely invalid and unsatisfying. For,

The instance of the church of Corinth excommunicating the incestuous
person, will not prove the congregation to be the first subject of all
church authority: 1. Partly, because the church of Corinth was a
presbyterial church, having several congregations in it, (as hereafter
is evidenced, chap. XIII.;) now to argue from the authority of a
presbyterial church, to the authority of a congregational,
affirmatively, is not cogent. 2. Partly, because here were but two acts
of power mentioned in this instance, viz. casting out and receiving
again of the incestuous person: suppose the community had joined the
presbytery in these two acts, (which yet is not proved,) will it follow
therefore they are the first subject of all church authority? Are not
ordination of presbyters, determination in case of appeals, of schism,
of heresy, &c., acts of authority above the sphere of a single
congregation? What one congregation can be instanced in the New
Testament that did ever execute any of these acts of authority?

The reasons brought, prove not that the brethren did concur with the
presbytery in this sentence with some act of power, as will appear
plainly, if they be considered severally.

1. Not the reproof, 1 Cor. v. 2, "And ye are puffed up, and have not
rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away
from among you." Here they are blamed, that they no more laid to heart
so vile a scandal, which should have been matter of mourning to the
whole congregation; that they instead of mourning were puffed up,
gloried in their shame; and that they sluggishly neglected to endeavor,
in their sphere, his casting out. And all this blame might justly be
charged upon the whole church, the fraternity as well as the presbytery:
the scandal of one member should be the grief of the whole body of the
church. What then? Hath therefore the fraternity, as well as the
presbytery, power to cast him out? That were a miserable consequence
indeed: the people should not only have mourned for the sin, but have
urged the presbytery to have proceeded to sentence, and after sentence
have withdrawn from him, in obedience to the sentence; but none of all
these can amount to a proper act of church authority in them.

2. Nor doth the apostle's command prove the people's concurrence in any
act of power with the presbytery, 1 Cor. v. 4, 5, "In the name of our
Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, to deliver such an one
unto Satan," &c.: ver. 7, "Purge out therefore the old leaven," &c.: and
ver. 13, "Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person."
In which passages it is supposed the apostle directs his injunction to
them all (as well as to their presbytery) when they come together in
their church meeting to proceed to sentence.

But against this reason, well ponder upon these considerations, viz: 1.
It is certain beyond all controversy, that the apostle did not direct
these commands to the whole church of Corinth absolutely, and
universally, without all exception and limitation to any members at all:
for by his own rule, "Women must be silent in their churches, it being a
shame for a woman to speak in the church," 1 Cor. xiv. 34, 35, and
children or fools were not able to judge. Hence it is evident that a
church absolutely and universally taken, cannot possibly be the
ministerial ruling church which hath the authority. 2. It is evident to
any man that is but moderately acquainted with the Scriptures, that God
useth to direct his commands, reproofs, and other speeches to a people
indifferently, and as it were collectively and generally, which yet he
intends should be particularly applied and appropriated; not to all, but
to this or that person or persons, only among such a people
distributively and respectively; according to their respective callings,
interests, relations, &c., as in the Old Testament God directs a command
to the people of Israel indefinitely, and as it were collectively, to
kill enticers to idolatry, false prophets, Deut. xiii. 9; but intended
that the judge should sentence him, finding him guilty by witnesses. The
Lord also directs his command to all the people, as it were
collectively, to put out of the camp "every one that was a leper, and
had an issue, or was defiled by the dead," Numb. v. 2; but intended that
the priest should peculiarly take and apply this command to himself, who
was to judge in these cases. See Lev. xiii. and elsewhere. So in the New
Testament the apostle praised the Corinthians indefinitely, and as it
were collectively, for "remembering him in all things, and keeping the
ordinances as he delivered them to them," 1 Cor. xi. 2; wherein he
intended only to commend the virtuous; and after he discommends them
indefinitely for "coming together not for better, but for worse," 1 Cor.
xi. 17; intending only their dispraise that were herein particularly
delinquent among them. Again, he speaks indefinitely, and as it were
collectively and generally, "Ye may all prophesy one by one," 1 Cor.
xiv. 31; but he intended it only to the prophets respectively, not to
all the members; for he saith elsewhere, "Are all prophets?" 1 Cor. xii.
29. And writing to the churches of Galatia, Gal. i. 2, against false
teachers he speaks thus to all those churches collectively, "A little
leaven leaveneth the whole lump," Gal. v. 9. And, "I would they were
even cut off who trouble you," ver. 12. Now every one of these churches
were to apply this to themselves respectively, Independents themselves
being judges. So here in this present case of the church of Corinth, the
apostle directs his commands to them, as it were collectively, about
putting away the incestuous person, which commands were particularly to
be put in execution by the presbytery in that church in whose hands the
church authority was.[101]

Thus taking these commands, 1 Cor. v. 4, 7, 13, though directed
indefinitely, and as it were collectively to the whole church, yet
intended respectively to be put in execution by the presbytery in that
church, they hold forth no concurrence of the people in any act of power
at all with the church officers or presbytery. And it is a good note
which Cameron[102] hath upon this place, "These things that are written
in this epistle are so to be taken of the presbytery and of the people,
that every one both of the presbyters and of the people, should
interpret the command according to the reason of his office." 3. When
the apostle reciteth the proceedings of the church in this very case of
the incestuous person, in his 2d epistle, he saith, "Sufficient to such
a man is this punishment" (or censure) "which was inflicted of many," 2
Cor. ii. 6. It is very observable, he saith not, _of all_; nor _of
many_, but _of the chief ones_, viz. the church officers, who had the
rule and government of the church committed to them: (the article _the_
being emphatical;) for this word translated _many_ may as well be
translated chief, denoting worth, &c., as many, denoting number. And in
this sense the Holy Ghost ofttimes useth this word in the New Testament;
as for instance, "Is not the life better than meat?" Matt. vi. 25.
"Behold, a greater than Jonah is here," Matt. xii. 41. "And behold, a
greater than Solomon is here," Matt. xii. 41. "To love him with all the
heart," &c., "is more than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices,"
Mark xii. 33. And again, ver. 43, "This poor widow hath cast more than
all they," &c. And thus it is frequently used to signify quality, worth,
greatness, dignity, eminency, &c., and so it may be conveniently
interpreted in this of the Corinthians. 4. Though all proper acts of
authority appertain only to the church officers, yet we are not against
the people's fraternal concurrence therewith. People may incite the
presbytery to the acts of their office; people may be present at the
administration of censures, &c., by the elders, as Cyprian of old would
dispatch all public acts, the people being present; people may judge
with a judgment of discretion, acclamation, and approbation, &c., as the
elders judge with a judgment of power; and people afterwards may, yea
must, withdraw from delinquents sentenced, that the sentence may attain
its proposed end. But none of these are properly any acts of power.

3. Nor doth the apostle's expression, verse 12, "Do you not judge them
that are within?" prove that the people concur with any authoritative
act in the elders' sentence. For, 1. This being spoken to them
indefinitely, was to be applied distributively and respectively, only to
them to whom it properly appertained, viz. the elders, as hath been
showed. They only have authority to judge. 2. Such a judgment is allowed
to the saints in church censures, as shall be allowed to them when the
saints shall judge the world, yea angels, 1 Cor. vi. 1-3, viz. in both a
judgment of acclamation, approbation, &c., as assessors, as people judge
at the assizes; not in either a judgment of authority, which the judge
and jury only do pronounce.

4. Nor, finally, doth the apostle's direction to forgive the incestuous,
being penitent, 2 Cor. ii. 4-10, which seems to be given to all, prove
the people's concurrence with the elders in any act of power. For the
authoritative forgiving and receiving him again, belonged only to the
elders; the charitable forgiving, receiving, and comforting of him,
belonged also to the people. As the judge and jury at an assizes, acquit
by judgment of authority, the people only by judgment of discretion and

Thus it appears how little strength is in this instance of the church of
Corinth, (though supposed to be the strongest ground the Independents
have,) for the propping up of their popular government, and
authoritative suffrage of the people.


III. Having thus considered the subject of authority and power for
church government: 1. Negatively, what it is not, viz. neither the
political magistrate, nor yet the community of the faithful, or whole
body of the people, Chap. IX. and X. 2. Positively, what it is, viz.
Christ's own officers in his church, as hath been explained and
evidenced, Sect. 2, of this Chap. 3. Now, in the third and last place,
we are to insist a little further upon this subject of the power, by way
of explanation: and to inquire, seeing Christ's officers are found to be
the subject of this power, in what sense or notion they are the subject
and receptacle of this authority and power from Christ, whether jointly
or severally; as solitarily and single from one another, or associated
and incorporated into assemblies with one another; or in both respects?

For resolution herein we must remember that distribution of the keys, or
of proper ecclesiastical power, (which was briefly mentioned before in
Part 2, Chap. III.) into that which is,

1. More special and peculiar to the office of some church governors,
which by virtue of their office they are to execute and discharge: thus
it is peculiar to the minister's office, 1. To preach the word; compare
these places together, Matt. xxviii. 18-20, John xx. 21-23, Rom. x. 15,
1 Tim. v. 17, Heb. xiii. 7, 2 Tim. iv. 1, 2, &c. 2. _To dispense the
sacraments_, Matt. xxviii. 18-20, 1 Cor. xi. 24, 25. The word and
sacraments were joined together in the same commission to the same
officers, viz. the preaching presbyters, &c., as is evident in that of
Matt. xxviii. 19.

2. More general and common to the office of all church governors, as the
power of censures, viz. admonishing, excommunicating, and absolving, and
of such other acts as necessarily depend thereupon; wherein not only the
preaching, but also the ruling elders are to join and contribute their
best assistance; as may be collected from these several testimonies of
Scripture, Matt. xviii. 17, 18, _Tell the Church_,[103] 1 Cor. v. 2-13,
2 Cor. ii. 6-12, compared with Rom. xii. 8, 1 Cor. xii. 28, and 1 Tim.
v. 17.

Now these officers of Christ, viz. they that labor in the word and
doctrine, and the ruling elders, are the subject of this power of
jurisdiction as they are united in one body, hence called a Church,
Matth. xviii. 18, viz. the governing or ruling church; for no other can
there be meant; and presbytery,[104] i.e. a society or assembly of
presbyters together, 1 Tim. iv. 14.

The presbyters, elderships, or assemblies wherein these officers are
united and associated, are of two sorts, viz: 1. The lesser assemblies,
consisting of the ministers and ruling elders in each single
congregation; which, for distinction's sake, is styled the
congregational eldership. 2. The greater assemblies, consisting of
church governors sent from several churches and united into one body,
for governing of all these churches within their own bounds, whence
their members were sent. These greater assemblies are either
presbyterial or synodal. 1. Presbyterial, consisting of the ministers
and elders of several adjacent or neighboring single congregations, or
parish churches, ruling those several congregations in common; this kind
of assembly is commonly called the presbytery, or, for distinction's
sake, the classical presbytery, i.e. the presbytery of such a rank of
churches. 2. Synodal, consisting of ministers and elders, sent from
presbyterial assemblies, to consult and conclude about matters of common
and great concernment to the church within their limits. Such was that
assembly mentioned, Acts xv. These synodal assemblies are either, 1. Of
ministers and elders from several presbyteries within one province,
called provincial. 2. Or of ministers and elders from several provinces
within one nation, called therefore national. Or, 3. Of ministers and
elders from the several nations within the whole Christian world,
therefore called ecumenical: for all which assemblies, congregational,
presbyterial, and synodal, and the subordination of the lesser to the
greater assemblies respectively, there seems to be good ground and
divine warrant in the word of God, as (God willing) shall be evinced in
the xii., xiii., xiv., and xv. chapters following.


_Of the Divine Right of Congregational Elderships or Kirk Sessions, for
the government of the Church._

Touching congregational elderships, consisting of the ministers and
ruling elders of the several single congregations, which are called the
lesser assemblies, or smaller presbyteries, and which are to manage and
order all ecclesiastical matters within themselves, which are of more
immediate, private, particular concernment to their own congregations
respectively; and consequently, of more easy dispatch, and of more daily
use and necessity. Concerning these congregational presbyteries, we
shall not now take into consideration either, 1. What are the members
constituting and making up these elderships; whether ruling elders by
divine warrant may be superadded to the pastors and teachers, and so be
associated for the government of the congregation. For the divine right
of the ruling elders, distinct from the preaching elder for the
government of the church, hath been evidenced at large, Chapter XI.,
Section 1, foregoing. And if any acts of government in the church belong
to the ruling elder at all, sure those acts of common jurisdiction, to
be dispatched in these least assemblies, cannot of all other be denied
unto him. 2. Nor shall it here be discussed, what the power of
congregational elderships is, whether it be universally extensive to all
acts of government ecclesiastical whatsoever, without exception or
limitation; and that independently, without subordination to the greater
assemblies, and without all liberty of appeal thereunto in any cases
whatsoever, though of greatest and most common concernment. Which things
are well stated and handled by others;[105] and will in some measure be
considered afterwards in Chapter XV.

3. But the thing for the present to be insisted upon, against the
Erastian and prelatical party, is, the divine right of authority and
power for church government, which is in congregational presbyteries or
elderships, in reference to their respective congregations. Take it

Elderships of single congregations vested and furnished with
ecclesiastical authority and power to exercise and dispense acts of
government in and over those respective congregations whereunto they do
belong, are by divine right warrantable.

For confirmation hereof the light of nature, the institution of Christ,
the apostolical practice, and the law of necessity, seem to speak
sufficiently unto us.

1. The common light of nature thus far directeth all sorts of smaller
societies, whether political or ecclesiastical, to compose all
particular and more private differences and offences within themselves;
and to decide and determine small, common, easy causes and matters, by
smaller courts and judicatories appointed for that end: a vain thing to
trouble more and greater assemblies with those matters, that may as well
be determined by the lesser. It was wise and grave counsel which Jethro,
Moses' father-in-law, gave to Moses, that he should set up over the
people certain judges inferior to himself, who themselves might judge
all smaller matters, but all _great and hard matters to be brought to
Moses_, Exod. xviii. 22, 26. And our Saviour seems to insinuate, that
the Jews had their inferior courts for inferior causes, superior
judicatories for greater, in that gradation of his, Matt. v. 22.
Likewise they had lesser and greater ecclesiastical assemblies, (as
after will appear.) Now, to what use are greater and lesser
judicatories, civil or ecclesiastical, but that the lesser and lighter
causes may be judged in the inferior, harder and greater in the

2. The institution of Christ recorded Matt. xviii. 15-21, seems to hold
forth notably both single congregational elderships, and their power.
And this, whether we consider the Jewish form, unto which our Saviour
seems to refer; or whether we observe the matter of his discourse.

1. As for the Jewish form of church government (unto which our Saviour
here seems to allude) we may observe it was managed by two, if not three
sorts of ecclesiastical courts, viz: By the Sanhedrin, presbytery, and
synagogue, (much like to the evangelical synod, presbytery, and
congregational eldership since Christ.) 1. They had their
ecclesiastical,[106] as well as their civil Sanhedrin, for high and
difficult affairs of the church; which seems first to be constituted,
Exod. xxiv. 1, and after decay thereof, it was restored by King
Jehoshaphat, 2 Chron. xix. 8; and from this court that national church's
reformation proceeded, Neh. vi. 13. 2. Again, it is very probable they
had between their Sanhedrin and their synagogue a middle ecclesiastical
court called _The Presbytery_, Luke xxii. 66, and Acts xxii. 5, _and the
whole presbytery_. Let such as are expert in Jewish antiquities and
their polity, consider and judge. 3. Finally, they had their lesser
judicatories in their synagogues, or congregational meetings: for, their
synagogues were not only for prayer, and the ministry of the word, in
reading and expounding the Scriptures, but also for public censures,
correcting of offences, &c., as that phrase seems to import, "And I
punished them oft in every synagogue," Acts xxvi. 11. His facts and
proceedings, it is true, were cruel, unjust, impious. But why inflicted
_in every synagogue_, rather than in other places, and that by virtue of
the _high priest's letters_, Acts ix. 1, 2; but there the Jews had
judicatories, that inflicted public punishments upon persons
ecclesiastically offending? Besides, we read often in the New Testament
of the _rulers of the synagogue_, as Mark v. 35, 36, 38; Luke viii. 41,
and xiii. 14; and of Crispus and Sosthenes the chief _rulers of the
synagogue_, Acts xviii. 8, 17; whence is intimated to us, that these
synagogues had their rule and government in themselves; and that this
rule was not in one person, but in divers together; for if there were
chief rulers, there were also inferiors subordinate unto them: but this
is put out of doubt, in Acts xiii. 15, where after the lecture of the
law and the prophets, _the rulers of the synagogue sent unto
them_--_synagogue_ in the singular number, and rulers in the plural.
Thus analogically there should be ecclesiastical rulers and governors in
every single congregation, for the well guiding thereof. But if this
satisfy not, add hereunto the material passages in our Saviour's speech.

2. Now touching the matter of our Saviour's discourse, it makes this
very clear to us; for by a gradation he leadeth us from admonition
private and personal, to admonition before two or three witnesses, and
from admonition before two or three witnesses, to the representative
body of one church, (as the phrase _tell the church_ must here
necessarily be interpreted,) if there the difference can be composed,
the offence removed, or the cause ended; rather than unnecessarily
render the offence, and so our brother's shame, more public and
notorious. And that the presbytery or eldership of a particular
congregation, vested with power to hear and determine such cases as
shall be brought before them, is partly, though not only here intended,
seems evident in the words following, which are added for the
strengthening and confirming of what went before in ver. 17: "Verily, I
say unto you, whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in
heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in
heaven. Again, I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth
as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of
my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered
together in my name, there am I in the midst of them," Matt. xviii.
18-20. In which passages these things are to be noted: 1. That this
church to which the complaint is to be made, is invested with power of
_binding_ and _loosing_, and that so authoritatively that what by this
church shall be bound or loosed on earth shall also be bound or loosed
in heaven, according to Christ's promise. 2. That these acts of
_binding_ or _loosing_, may be the acts but of two or three, and
therefore consequently of the eldership of a particular congregation;
for where such a juridical act was dispatched by a classical presbytery,
it is said to be done of _many_, 2 Cor. ii. 6, because that in such
greater presbyteries there are always more than _two or three_. And
though some do pretend, that the faults here spoken of by our Saviour in
this place, were injuries, not scandals; and that the church here
mentioned was not any ecclesiastical consistory, or court, but the civil
Sanhedrin, a court of civil judicature; and yet most absurdly they
interpret the binding and loosing here spoken of, to be doctrinal and
declarative; not juridical and authoritative; as if the doctrinal
binding and loosing were in the power of the civil Sanhedrin:[107] yet
all these are but vain, groundless pretences and subterfuges, without
substance or solidity, as the learned and diligent reader may easily
find demonstrated by consulting these judicious authors mentioned in the
foot note,[108] to whom for brevity's sake he is referred for
satisfaction in these and divers such like particulars.

3. The consideration of the apostolical practice, and state of the
Church of God in those times, may serve further to clear this matter to
us. For, 1. We sometimes read of single congregations; and as the Holy
Ghost doth call the whole body of Christ _the Church_, Matt. xvi. 18, 1
Cor. xii. 28, and often elsewhere; and the larger particular members of
that body of Christ (partaking the nature of the whole, as a drop of
water is as true water as the whole ocean) churches; as, _the church of
Jerusalem_, Acts viii. 1; _the church of Antioch_, Acts xiii. 1; _the
church of Ephesus_, Rev. ii. 1; _the church of Corinth_, 2 Cor. i. 1;
(these being the greater presbyterial churches, as after will appear,
Chap. XIII.;) so the same holy Spirit of Christ is pleased to style
single congregations, _churches_, "Let women keep silence in the
churches," 1 Cor. xiv. 34, i.e. in the single congregations of this one
church of Corinth: and often mention is made of the church that is in
such or such an _house_, as Rom. xvi. 5; 1 Cor. xvi. 19; Col. iv. 15;
Philem. 2; whether this be interpreted of the church made up only of the
members of that family, or of the church that ordinarily did meet in
such houses, it implies a single congregation. Now shall single
congregations have the name and nature of churches, and shall we imagine
they had not in them the ordinary standing church officers, viz. pastors
and teachers, governments, or elders _ruling well_, and helps or
deacons? or is it probable they were furnished with these officers, and
yet the officers furnished with no power for the government of these
single congregations at all? 2. We find that the apostles being crowned
with such success in their ministry, as to be instruments of converting
such multitudes to the faith as were sufficient to make up many several
churches from time to time, did diligently take care to ordain them
presbyters, or elders _in every church_, Acts xiv. 23; Tit. i. 5. Now
can it be clearly evidenced by any, that these were not ruling as well
as preaching presbyters; especially when it appears by other places that
the primitive churches had both? Rom. xii. 8; 1 Cor. xii. 28;

1 Tim. v. 17. Or can we think that the apostles were not as careful to
erect elderships in several congregations, as to appoint elders?
otherwise how could the apostles have answered it to their Lord and
Master Jesus Christ, in leaving them without that necessary provision of
government, which Christ himself had allowed to them, at least, in some
cases, as hath been evidenced?

4. Finally, necessity (which is a strong and cogent law) plainly and
forcibly pleads for elderships in particular congregations endowed with
authority and power from Christ for government within themselves. For,
1. How wearisome a thing would it be to all congregations, should every
one of their members be bound to attend upon synods and greater
presbyteries, (which in the country are at a great distance from them,)
in all ecclesiastical matters of judicature, if they had no relief in
their own congregations? How impossible would it be for the greater
presbyteries, not only to hear and determine all hard and weighty, but
also all small and easy causes that would be brought before them? And
what should become of such a congregation as either voluntarily
transplants itself, or is accidentally cast among heathens or pagans in
far countries, where there are no Christians or churches to join and
associate withal, if they be denied an authoritative presbytery within
themselves, for preventing and healing of scandals, and preserving
themselves from destruction and ruin, which anarchy would unavoidably
bring upon them?


_Of the Divine Right of Presbyteries, (for distinction's sake called
Classical Presbyteries,) for the government of the Church._

Having spoken of the lesser, viz. congregational elderships, we come now
to the greater ruling assemblies, which are either presbyterial or
synodal. And first, of the presbyterial assembly, or classical
presbytery, viz. an assembly made up of the presbyters of divers
neighboring single congregations, for governing of all those respective
congregations in common, whereunto they belong, in all matters of common
concernment and greater difficulty in the Church. The divine warrant and
right of this presbytery, and of the power thereof for church
government, may principally be evidenced, 1. By the light of nature. 2.
By the light of Scripture, which light of Scripture was followed by the
Church in the ages after the apostolical times.

I. The light of nature and right reason may discover to us (though more
dimly) the divine warrant of the greater presbyteries, and of their
power for the governing of the church. For,

1. There are many ecclesiastical matters which are of common concernment
to many single congregations, as trial of church officers, ordination
and deposition of ministers, dispensation of censures, judicial
determination of controversies, resolution in difficult cases of
conscience, ordering of things indifferent, &c.; here the rule holds
well, that which concerns many congregations, is not to be considered
and determined upon only by one, but those many concerned and interested

2. Single congregational elderships stand in need of all mutual help and
assistance one of another in the Lord, being, 1. Inwardly weak in
themselves; too prone to be turned out of the way, Heb. xii. 13, Gal. v.
15, and too feeble for divers great tasks: as examination and ordination
of ministers, &c., which weakness is healed by association with others
assisting them. 2. Outwardly opposed by many dangerous and subtle
adversaries: men as grievous wolves, &c., Acts xx. 28-30; 2 Pet. ii. 1;
Phil. iii. 2; 1 Tim. iv. 1-7; Eph. iv. 14; devils, 1 Pet. v. 8. In such
cases two are better than one: "Wo to them that are alone; if they fall,
who shall take them up?"

3. Such intricate cases may fall out as cannot be determined and settled
by the eldership of a single congregation. As for instance, some member
in the congregation may conceive himself so wronged by the eldership
thereof, that he cannot submit to their unjust sentence; shall he not in
such case have liberty of appeal from them? If not, then he is left
without a remedy, (which is the calamity of the Independent government.)
If he may, whether shall he appeal regularly but to an associated
presbytery? therefore there must be such a presbytery to appeal unto.
Again, there may be a controversy betwixt the whole congregation, and
their presbytery; yea, the presbytery itself may be equally divided
against itself; yea, one single congregation may have a great and
weighty contest with another sister congregation, (all single
congregations being equal in power and authority, none superior, none
inferior to others.) Now, in these and such like cases, suppose both
parties be resolute and wilful, and will not yield to any bare moral
suasion or advice without some superior authority, what healing is left
in such cases, without the assistance of an authoritative presbytery,
wherein the whole hath power to regulate all the parts?

4. Single congregations, joined in vicinity and neighborhood to one
another, should avoid divisions, (which are destructive to all
societies, as well ecclesiastical as civil,) and maintain peace and
unity among themselves, (which is conservative to all societies;)
neither of which, without associated presbyteries, can be firmly and
durably effected. Both which ought with all diligence to be endeavored.
For, 1. Peace and unity in the Church are in themselves amiable, and
ought to be promoted, Psal. cxxxiii. 1, &c.; Eph. iv. 3, 13; 1 Cor. i.
10. 2. Schisms and divisions are simply evil, and all appearance, cause,
and occasion thereof, ought carefully to be avoided, 1 Cor. xii. 25;
Rom. xvi. 17; 1 Thes. iv. 22. 3. All congregations are but as so many
branches, members, parts of that one church, one body, one family, one
commonwealth, one kingdom, whereof Christ is Head, Lord, and King; and
therefore they should communicate together, and harmoniously incorporate
and associate with one another, (so far as may be,) for the common good,
peace, unity, and edification of all. See 1 Cor. xii. 12-29; Eph. ii.
12-16, and iv. 12-14, and v. 23-25.

II. The light of Scripture will hold forth the divine warrant of greater
presbyteries and their power for church government, far more clearly
than the light of nature. Forasmuch as we find in the Scriptures a
pattern of these greater presbyteries, and of their presbyterial
government over divers single congregations in common in the primitive
apostolical churches. For the greater evidence and perspicuity hereof,
take this proposition:

Jesus Christ our Mediator hath laid down in his word a pattern of
presbyterial government in common over divers single congregations in
one Church, for a rule to his Church in all after ages. For confirmation
hereof, there are chiefly these three positions to make good, which are
comprised in this proposition, viz: 1. That there is in the word a
pattern of divers single congregations in one church. 2. That there is
in the word a pattern of one presbyterial government in common over
divers single congregations in one church. 3. Finally, that the pattern
of the said presbyterial government, is for a rule to the churches of
Christ in all after ages.


That there is in the word a pattern of divers single congregations in
one church, may be plentifully evinced by four instances of churches,
(to mention no more,) viz. the churches of Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus,
and Corinth. Touching which four these two things are clear in the
Scripture, viz: 1. That every of them was one church. 2. That in every
one of these churches there were more congregations than one. Both which
will fully evince a pattern of divers single congregations in one church
held forth in the word.

1. The former of these, viz. That every one of these was one church,
may be proved by induction of particulars. 1. All the believers in
Jerusalem were one church; hence they are often comprised under the word
church, of the singular number:--"Against the church which was at
Jerusalem," Acts viii. 1. "Then tidings of these things came unto the
ears of the church which was in Jerusalem," Acts ii. 22. "And when they
were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the
apostles and elders," Acts xv. 4. 2. All the believers in Antioch were
one church. "Now there were in the church that was at Antioch, certain
prophets," Acts xiii. 1. "And when he had found him, he brought him to
Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled
themselves with the church, and taught much people, and the disciples
were first called Christians in Antioch," Acts xi. 26. 3. All the
believers in Ephesus were one church: "And from Miletus he sent to
Ephesus, and called the elders of the church," Acts xx. 17. And after he
gives them this charge, "Take heed therefore to yourselves, and to all
the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed
the church of God," ver. 28; all were but _one flock, one church_. "Unto
the angel of the church of Ephesus, write," Rev. ii. 1. 4. All the
believers in Corinth were one church, and comprised under that singular
word, church: "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth," 1 Cor. i. 2.
"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, and Timothy our
brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth," 2 Cor. i. 1. Thus
in all these four instances it is clear beyond all contradiction, that
they were every of them respectively one church.

The latter of these, viz. that these primitive apostolical churches of
Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, and Corinth, were not every of them
severally and respectively only one single congregation, (as some
imagine,) but consisted every of them of more congregations than one.
This shall be manifested in these four churches severally, as followeth:

The church of Jerusalem in Judea contained in it more congregations than
one. This may be convincingly evidenced divers ways, particularly from,
1. The multitude of believers in that church. 2. The multitude of church
officers there. 3. The variety of languages there. 4. The manner of the
Christians' public meetings in those primitive times, both in the church
of Jerusalem, and in other churches.

1. From the multitude of believers in the church of Jerusalem. For it is
palpably evident to any impartial reader that will not wilfully shut his
eyes, and subject his reason unto the groundless dictates of men,
against the clear light of the Scripture, that there were more believers
in the church of Jerusalem, than could ordinarily meet in one
congregation, to partake of all the ordinances of Christ.

And this may fully appear by these many instances following. 1. Christ
after his resurrection, and before his ascension, "was seen of above
five hundred brethren at once," 1 Cor. xv. 6. 2. "After that of James,
then of all the apostles," ver. 7. 3. At the election of Matthias, and
before Christ's ascension, there were disciples together, the "company
of their names together was as it were one hundred and twenty," Acts i.
15. 4. At Peter's sermon, "they that gladly received his word, were
baptized. And that day were added about three thousand souls," Acts ii.
1, 4. 5. And "The Lord added to the Church daily such as should be
saved," ver. 27. 6. Afterwards at another of Peter's sermons, "Many of
them that heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about
five thousand," Acts iv. 4. 7. After that, "Believers were the more
added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women," Acts v. 14. 8.
Furthermore, the disciples multiplying, and the work of the ministry
thereupon much increasing, the apostles were necessitated to appoint
seven deacons for serving of tables, that they might wholly "give
themselves to the ministry of the word and prayer," Acts vi. 1 to 7;
whence some have thought, that there were seven congregations in
Jerusalem, a deacon for every one. Certainly there were rather more than
fewer, (saith the author of the Assertion of the Government of the
Church of Scotland,[109]) though we cannot determine how many. However
this, the Holy Ghost clearly testifieth that "The word of God increased,
and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem multiplied greatly." 9.
"And a great company of the priests became obedient to the faith," Acts
vi. 7; and probably the example of the priests drew on multitudes to the
Gospel. All these forementioned were in a short time converted, and
became members of this one church of Jerusalem, and that before the
dispersion occasioned by the persecution of the Church, Acts viii. 1.
Now should we put all these together, viz. both the number of believers
expressed in particular, which is 8,620, and the multitudes so often
expressed in the general, (which, for aught we know, might be many more
than the former,) what a vast multitude of believers was there in
Jerusalem! and how impossible was it for them to meet all together in
one congregation, to partake of all the ordinances of Jesus Christ! 10.
In like manner, after the dispersion forementioned, the word so
prospered, and the disciples brought into the faith by it, so
multiplied, that it was still far more impossible for all the believers
in the church of Jerusalem to meet in one congregation to partake of
all the ordinances of Christ, than before. For it is said, "Then had the
churches rest throughout all Judea" (and the church of Jerusalem in
Judea was doubtless one of those churches) "and Galilee and Samaria, and
were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and comfort of the
Holy Ghost, were multiplied." 11. Again, "the word of the Lord increased
and multiplied," Acts xii. 24. 12. Furthermore, when Paul, with other
disciples, his fellow-travellers, came to Jerusalem, and "declared to
James and the elders, what things God had wrought by his ministry among
the Gentiles--They glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest,
brother, how many" myriads (or ten thousands) "of believing Jews there
are, and they are all zealous of the law"--Acts xxi. 20. Our translation
seems herein very defective, rendering it how many thousands; whereas it
should be, according to the Greek, how many ten thousands: and these
myriads seem to be in the church of Jerusalem, seeing it is said of
them, ver. 22, "The multitude must needs come together, for they will
hear that thou art come." Now considering this emphatical expression,
not only _thousands_, but _ten thousand_: not _only ten thousand_ in the
singular number, but _ten thousands, myriads_, in the plural number: nor
only _myriads, ten thousands_, in the plural number, but _how many ten
thousands_; we cannot in reason imagine but there were at least three
ten thousands, viz: thirty thousand believers, and how all they should
meet together in one congregation for all ordinances, let the reader
judge. Thus far of the proof, from the multitude of believers in the
church of Jerusalem.

_Except_. But the five thousand mentioned Acts iv. 4, are no new number
added to the three thousand, but the three thousand included in the five
thousand, as Calvin and Beza think.

_Ans_. 1. Then it is granted that five thousand one hundred and twenty,
besides an innumerable addition of converts, were in Jerusalem; which if
such a number, and multitudes besides, could for edification meet in one
place, to partake of all the ordinances, let the reader judge.

2. Though Calvin and Beza think the three thousand formerly converted to
be included in this number of five thousand, Acts iv. 4, yet divers both
ancient and modern interpreters are of another mind, as Augustine. There
came unto the body of the Lord in number three thousand faithful men;
also by another miracle wrought, there came other five thousand.[110]
These five thousand are altogether diverse from the three thousand
converted at the first sermon: so Lorinus, Aretius, and divers others.

3. Besides a great number of testimonies, there are reasons to induce us
to believe, that the three thousand are not included in the five
thousand, viz: 1. As the three thousand mentioned in Acts ii. 41, did
not comprehend the one hundred and twenty mentioned Acts i. 15, so it
holds in proportion that the three thousand mentioned there, are not
comprehended here in Acts iv. 4. Besides, 2. This sermon was not by
intention to the church, or numbers already converted, but by occasion
of the multitude flocking together to behold the miracle Peter and John
wrought on the "man that was lame from his mother's womb;" as Acts iii.
10-12; so that 'tis more than probable that the five thousand mentioned
Acts iv. 4, are a number superadded besides the three thousand already

_Except_. But suppose such a number as three thousand, and afterwards
five thousand were converted in Jerusalem, yet these remained not
constant members of that Church, for the three thousand were not
dwellers at Jerusalem, but strangers who came out of all countries to
keep the feast of Pentecost: yea, Acts ii. 9, they are said expressly to
be "dwellers of Mesopotamia, Cappadocia," &c., and so might erect
churches where they came.

_Ans_. 1. 'Tis said, Acts ii. 14, "Peter standing" (when he began to
preach this sermon wherein the three thousand were converted) "said, Ye
men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, hearken to my voice;"
intimating that these he preached to dwelt at Jerusalem.

But grant that some of these men that heard Peter's sermon were formerly
dwellers in Mesopotamia and Cappadocia, what hinders but that they might
be now dwellers at Jerusalem?

3. The occasion of their coming up to Jerusalem at this time was not
only the observation of the feast of Pentecost, (which lasted but a
day,) but also the great expectation that the people of the Jews then
had of the appearance of the Messiah in his kingdom, as we may collect
from Luke xix. 11, where it is said, "They thought the kingdom of God
should immediately appear;" so that now they might choose to take up
their dwellings at Jerusalem, and not return, as they had been wont, at
the end of their usual feasts.

4. The Holy Ghost makes mention that in the particular places mentioned,
ver. 9, 10, that of all those nations there were some that dwelt at
Jerusalem; read Acts ii. 5, "There were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews,
devout men out of every nation under heaven;" if out of every nation,
then out of those nations there specified; and even there dwelling at
Jerusalem. 5. Those who were scattered by reason of persecution into
Judea and Samaria, and other parts of the world, did not erect new
churches, but were still members of that one church in Jerusalem; so
saith the Scripture expressly, that "they" (of the church of Jerusalem)
"were all scattered abroad throughout the region of Judea and Samaria,"
Acts viii. 1.

_Except_. Although it should be granted that before the dispersion
mentioned Acts viii. 1, 2, the number was so great that they could not
meet together in one place, yet the persecution so wasted and scattered
them all, that there were no more left than might meet in one

_Ans_. After the dispersion there were more believers in Jerusalem than
could meet together in one place for all acts of worship, as appears by
Acts ix. 31, "The churches had rest throughout all Judea," &c., "and
were multiplied;" Acts xii. 24, "The word of God grew and multiplied;"
and Acts xxi. 20, James saith of the believers of this church, "how many
thousands of the Jews there are which believe, and are zealous of the
law;" or, as it is in the Greek, thou seest how many _ten thousands_
there are of the Jews which believe; this text will evince, that there
were many thousands in the church of Jerusalem after the dispersion, as
hath been observed: and if this number were not more after the
dispersion than could meet together to partake of all ordinances, let
the reader judge.

_Except_. But the text saith expressly, all were scattered except the

_Ans_. _All_ must be understood either of all the believers, or all the
teachers and church officers in the church of Jerusalem, except
believers; but it cannot be understood of all the believers that they
were scattered: and therefore it must be understood that all the
teachers and church officers were scattered, except the apostles. That
all the believers were not scattered will easily appear: For, 1. 'Tis
said that Paul broke into houses, "haling men and women, committed them
to prison," ver. 3, and this he did in Jerusalem, Acts xxvi. 10;
therefore all could not be scattered. 2. "They that were scattered,
preached the word," ver. 4, which all the members, men and women, could
not do; therefore by all that were scattered must of necessity be meant,
not the body of believers in the church, but only the officers of the
church. 3. If all the believers were scattered, to what end did the
apostles tarry at Jerusalem--to preach to the walls? this we cannot

_Except_. But can any think the teachers were scattered, and the
ordinary believers were not, except we suppose the people more
courageous to stay by it than their teachers?

_Ans_. It is hard to say, that those that are scattered in a
persecution, are less courageous than those that stay and suffer. In the
time of the bishops' tyranny, many of the Independent ministers did
leave this kingdom, while others of their brethren did abide by it,
endured the heat and burden of the day, "had trial of cruel mockings,
bonds and imprisonments:" now the Independent ministers that left us,
would think we did them wrong, should we say that they were less
courageous than those that stayed behind, enduring the hot brunt of

II. From the multitude of church officers in Jerusalem, it may further
appear, that there were more congregations than one in the church of
Jerusalem. For there were many apostles, prophets, and elders in this
church of Jerusalem, as is plain, if we consider these following
passages in the Acts of the Apostles. After Christ's ascension, "the
eleven apostles returned to Jerusalem, and continued in prayer and
supplication," Acts i. 12-14. Matthias chosen by lot, was also "numbered
with the eleven apostles," Acts i. 26. "And when the day of Pentecost
was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place," Acts ii. 1.
"Peter standing up with the eleven, lift up his voice and said," Acts
ii. 14. "They were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the
rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Acts ii. 37.
"And the same day there were added about three thousand souls, and they
continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in
breaking of bread, and in prayers," Acts ii. 42. "And with great power
gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus," Acts
iv. 33. "As many as were possessors of lands or houses, sold them, and
brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at
the apostles' feet," Acts iv. 34, 35, 37. "Then the twelve called the
multitude of the disciples to them," Acts vi. 2. "Now, when the apostles
which were at Jerusalem," Acts viii. 14. "They determined that Paul and
Barnabas and certain other of them should go up to Jerusalem unto the
apostles and elders about this question. And when they were come to
Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and
elders; and the apostles and elders came together," Acts xv. 2, 4, 6,
22, 23; xi. 30. And "in those days came prophets from Jerusalem unto
Antioch," Acts xi. 27. In all which places, the multitude of apostles,
elders, and prophets in this church of Jerusalem is evident. And it is
further observable, that the apostles devolved the serving of tables
upon the seven deacons, that they might wholly "give themselves to
prayer and the ministry of the word," Acts vi, 2; which needed not, nor
would there have been full employment for the apostles, if there had
not been divers congregations in that one church of Jerusalem.

_Except_. 'Tis true, the apostles were for a time in Jerusalem, yet when
in Judea or elsewhere any received the gospel, the apostles went abroad
to erect other churches.

_Ans_. Touching the apostles going abroad, there can be given but one
instance, Acts viii. 14, where the whole twelve went not forth, but only
two were sent, viz. Peter and John: but suppose it were granted, that
upon some special occasions the apostles went out from Jerusalem, can it
be imagined that the apostles' ordinary abode would be at Jerusalem, to
attend only one single congregation, as if that would fill all their
hands with work?

_Except_. The apostles were well employed when they met in an upper
room, and had but one hundred and twenty for their flock, and this for
forty days together; now if they stayed in Jerusalem when they had but
one hundred and twenty, and yet had their hands filled with work, the
presence of the apostles argues not more congregations in Jerusalem than
could meet in one place for all acts of worship.

_Ans_. 1. From Christ's ascension (immediately after which they went up
to the upper chamber) to the feast of Pentecost, there were but ten
days, not forty; so that there is one mistake.

2. During that time betwixt Christ's ascension and the feast of
Pentecost, (whether ten or forty days is not very material,) the
apostles were especially taken up in prayer and supplication, waiting
for the promise of the Spirit to qualify them for the work of the
ministry: now, because the twelve apostles, before they had received the
extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, did continue for a short time in
Jerusalem with a small number in prayer, will it therefore follow that
after they had received these extraordinary gifts, that they were bound
up within the limits of one single congregation?

_Except_. The argument that there were many teachers in Jerusalem,
proves not that there were more congregations in Jerusalem than one,
because there were then many gifted men, which were not officers, which
yet occasionally instructed others, as Aquila did Apollos; therefore it
seems they were only gifted persons, not officers.

_Ans_. 1. Grant that in those times there were many gifted men, not in
office, which might occasionally instruct others, as Aquila did Apollos;
yet it is further to be noted, that,

2. This instructing must be either private, or public; if private only,
then the objection is of no force, (because these teachers instructed
publicly;) if in public, then if this objection were of force, it would
follow, that women might instruct publicly, because Priscilla, as well
as Aquila, instructed Apollos.

3. The current of expositors say, that the seventy disciples were at
Jerusalem among the one hundred and twenty, Acts i. 16, who were
teachers by office.

III. From the variety of languages among the disciples at Jerusalem, it
is evident there were more congregations than one in that one church:
the diversity of languages among them is plainly mentioned in divers
places, "And there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men out of
every nation under heaven. Now every man heard them speak in his own
language," &c., Acts ii. 5, 8-12. Now, of those that heard this variety
of languages, and Peter's sermon thereupon, "They that gladly received
his word, were baptized, and the same day there were added about three
thousand souls," Acts ii. 41, which diversity of languages necessitated
those members of the church of Jerusalem to enjoy the ordinances in
divers distinct congregations in their own language. And that they might
so do, the Spirit furnished the apostles, &c., with diversity of
languages, which diversity of languages were as well for edification of
them within the Church, as for a sign to them that were without.

_Except_. Though the Jews being dispersed were come in from other
countries, yet they were all generally learned, and understood the
Hebrew tongue, the language of their own nation, so that diversity of
tongues proves not, that of necessity there must be distinct places to
meet in.

_Ans_. 1. It is easier said than proved, that the Jews were so generally
skilled in the Hebrew tongue, when, while they were scattered in Media
and Parthia, and other places, they had no universities or schools of
learning. Besides, it is not to be forgotten, that the proper language
or dialect in those days in use among the Jews was Syriac; as appears by
divers instances of Syriac words in the New Testament, as of the Jews'
own terms: Acts i. 19, which "in their proper tongue, is called
Aceldama;" John xix. 13. 17, _Gabbatha, Golgotha_, &c.; Mark xv. 34,
_Eloi, Eloi, lama-sabachthani_; with divers other pure Syriac terms.
Grant they did; yet,

2. There were in Jerusalem proselytes also, Romans, Cappadocians,
Cretians, and Arabians, Acts ii. 10, 11; how could they be edified in
the faith, if only one congregation, where nothing but Hebrew was
spoken, met in Jerusalem; if so be there were not other congregations
for men of other languages, that understood not the Hebrew tongue?

IV. From the manner of Christians' public meetings in those primitive
times, both in the church of Jerusalem and in other churches. It is
plain that the multitudes of Christians in Jerusalem, and other
churches, could not possibly meet all together in one single
congregation, inasmuch as they had no public temples, or capacious
places for worship and partaking of all ordinances, (as we now have,)
but private places, _houses, chambers_, or _upper rooms_, (as the
unsettled state of the Church and troublesomeness of those times would
permit,) which in all probability were of no great extent, nor any way
able to contain in them so many thousand believers at once, as there
were: "They met from house to house, to break bread," Acts ii. 46. "In
an upper room the apostles with the women and brethren continued in
prayer and supplication," Acts i. 12-14. We read of their meetings in
the _house of Mary_, Acts xii. 12. In the school _of one Tyrannus_, Acts
xix. 9. In an _upper chamber at Troas_, Acts xx. 8. In _Paul's own hired
house_ at Rome, Acts xxviii. 30, 31. In the _house of Aquila and
Priscilla_, where the church met, therefore called the _church in his
house_, Rom. xvi. 5; 1 Cor. xvi. 19. In the _house of Nimphas_, Col. iv.
15, and in the _house of Archippus_, Philem. 2. This was their manner of
public meetings in the apostles' times: which also continued in the next
ages, as saith Eusebius,[111] till, by indulgence of succeeding
emperors, they had large churches, houses of public meeting erected for

To sum up all: 1. There were in the church at Jerusalem greater numbers
of believers than could possibly meet at once to partake of all Christ's
ordinances. 2. There were more church officers than one single
congregation could need, or than could be fully employed therein, unless
we will say, that they preached but seldom. 3. There was such diversity
of languages among them, that they must needs rank themselves into
several congregations, according to their languages, else he that spoke
in one language to hearers of many several languages, would be a
barbarian to them, and they to him. 4. Finally, their places of ordinary
meeting were private, of small extent, incapable of containing so many
thousands at once as there were believers; and by all these, how evident
is it, that there must needs be granted that there were more
congregations than one in this one church of Jerusalem!

II. The church of Antioch, in Syria, consisted also of more
congregations than one. This appears,

1. From the multitude of believers at Antioch. For, 1. After the
dispersion upon Saul's persecution, _the Lord Jesus was preached at
Antioch, and a great number believed_, &c., Acts xi. 21. 2. Upon
_Barnabas's_ preaching there, _much people was added to the Lord_, Acts
xi. 24. 3. _Barnabas_ and _Saul_ for a year together taught much people
there, and disciples there so mightily multiplied, that there Christ's
disciples first received the eminent and famous denomination of
CHRISTIANS, and so were and still are called throughout the whole world,
Acts xi. 25, 26.

2. From the multitudes of prophets and preachers that ministered at
Antioch. For, 1. Upon the dispersion of the Jews at Jerusalem, _divers
of them (being men of Cyprus and Cyrene) preached the Lord Jesus at
Antioch_, Acts xi. 20; here must be three or four preachers at least,
otherwise they would not be _men of Cyprus and Cyrene_. 2. After this
_Barnabas_ was sent to preach at Antioch; there is a fifth, Acts xi.
22-24. 3. _Barnabas_ finds so much work at _Antioch_, that he goes to
Tarsus to bring _Saul_ thither to help him; there is a sixth, ver. 25,
26. 4. Besides these, _there came prophets from Jerusalem to Antioch in
those days_; there are at least two more, viz. eight in all, Acts xi.
27, 28. 4. Further, besides _Barnabas_ and _Saul_, three more teachers
are named, viz. _Simon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen_, Acts
xii. 1-3. 6. Yea, "Paul and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and
preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also," Acts xv. 35. Now
sum up all, what a multitude of believers, and what a college of
preachers were here at Antioch! How is it possible that all these
preachers should bustle themselves about one congregation (and doubtless
they abhorred idleness) in dispensing the ordinances of Christ to them
only? or how could so many members meet in one single congregation at
once, ordinarily to partake of all ordinances?

III. The church of Ephesus (_in Asia Minor_, Acts xix. 22) had in it
more congregations than one: For,

1. The number of prophets and preachers at Ephesus were many. _Paul_
continued there _two years and three months_, Acts xix. 8, 10; and
_Paul_ settled there about twelve _disciples who prophesied_, Acts xix.
1, 6, 7. And how should these thirteen ministers be employed, if there
were not many congregations? Compare also Acts xx. 17, 28, 36, 37, where
it is said of the bishops of Ephesus, that "Paul kneeled down and prayed
with them all, and they all wept sore." Here is a good number implied.

2. The gift of tongues also was given unto all these twelve prophets,
Acts xix. 6, 7. To what end, if they had not several congregations of
several languages, to speak in these several tongues unto them?

3. The multitude of believers must needs be great at Ephesus: For, 1.
Why should _Paul_, who had universal commission to plant churches in all
the world, stay _above two years together_ at Ephesus if no more had
been converted there than to make up one single congregation? Acts xix.
8, 10. 2. During this space, "all that dwelt in Asia," usually meeting
at Ephesus for worship, "heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and
Greeks," Acts xix. 10. 3. At the knowledge of _Paul's_ miracles, "fear
fell upon all the Jews and Greeks dwelling at Ephesus, and the name of
the Lord Jesus was magnified," Acts xix. 17. 4. _Many_ of the believers
_came and confessed, and showed their deeds_, ver. 18, whereby is
intimated that more did believe than did thus. 5. "Many also of them
that used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them
before all men, and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty
thousand pieces of silver," (this they would never have done publicly if
the major part, or at least a very great and considerable part of the
city, had not embraced the faith, that city being so furiously zealous
in their superstition and idolatry,) "so mightily grew the word of God,
and prevailed," Acts xix. 19, 20. 6. _Paul_ testifies that at Ephesus _a
great door and effectual was open unto him_, viz. a most advantageous
opportunity of bringing in a mighty harvest of souls to Christ, 1 Cor.
xvi. 8, 9. Put all together, 1. The number of prophets and preachers; 2.
The gifts of tongues conferred upon those prophets; and, 3. The
multitude of believers which so abounded at Ephesus: how is it possible
to imagine, upon any solid ground, that there was no more but one single
congregation in the church of Ephesus?

IV. The church of Corinth in Græcia comprised in it also more
congregations than one, as may be justly concluded from, 1. The
multitude of believers. 2. The plenty of ministers. 3. The diversity of
tongues and languages. 4. And the plurality of churches at Corinth. Let
all these be well compared together.

1. From the multitude of believers. There appears to be a greater number
of believers at Corinth than could all at once meet together to partake
of all the ordinances of Christ: For, 1. At Paul's first coming to
Corinth, and at his first sermon preached in the house of Justus, it is
said, "And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the
Lord, and all his house, and many of the Corinthians hearing, believed
and were baptized," Acts xviii. 1, 7, 8. Here is Crispus and all his
house, (which probably was very great, he being the chief ruler of the
synagogue,) and _many of the Corinthians, believing_; an excellent
first-fruits; for who can justly say but Paul at his first sermon
converted so many as might be sufficient to make up one single
congregation? 2. Immediately after this (Paul having shook his raiment
against the Jews, who, contrary to his doctrine, opposed themselves and
blasphemed; and having said unto them, "Your blood be upon your own
heads, I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles," Acts
xviii. 6) the Lord comforts Paul against the obstinacy of the Jews by
the success his ministry should have among the Gentiles in the city of
Corinth: "Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not
afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no
man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this
city," Acts xviii. 9, 10. _Much people_ belonging to God, according to
his secret predestination, over and besides those that already were
actually his by effectual vocation. And _much people_, in respect of the
Jews that opposed and blasphemed, (who were exceeding many,) otherwise
it would have been but small comfort to Paul if by _much people_ should
be meant no more than could meet at once in one small single
congregation. 3. Paul himself continued at Corinth "a year and six
months teaching the word of God among them," Acts xviii. 11. To what end
should Paul the apostle of the Gentiles stay so long in one place, if he
had not seen the Lord's blessing upon his ministry, to bring into the
faith many more souls than would make up one congregation, having so
much work to do far and near? 4. "They that believed at Corinth were
baptized," Acts xviii. 8. (Baptism admitted them into that one body of
the Church, 1 Cor. xii. 13.) Some were baptized by Paul, (though but few
in comparison of the number of believers among them: compare Acts xviii.
8, with 1 Cor. 14-17,) the generality consequently were baptized by
other ministers there, and that in other congregations wherein Paul
preached not, as well as in such wherein Paul preached; it being
unreasonable to deny the being of divers congregations for the word and
sacraments to be dispensed in, himself dispensing the sacrament of
baptism to so few.

2. From the plenty of ministers and preachers in the church of Corinth,
it is evident it was a presbyterial church, and not only a single
congregation; for to what end should there be many laborers in a little
harvest, many teachers over one single congregation? &c. That there were
many preachers at Corinth is plain: For, 1. Paul himself was the
master-builder there that laid the foundation of that church, 1 Cor.
iii. 10, their spiritual father; "In Christ Jesus I have begotten you
through the gospel," 1 Cor. iv. 15. And he stayed with them _one year
and a half_, Acts xviii. II. 2. While the apostle sharply taxeth them as
guilty of schism and division for their carnal crying up of their
several teachers: some doting upon one, some upon another, some upon a
third, &c. "Every one of you saith, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and
I of Cephas, and I of Christ," 1 Cor. i. 12. Doth not this intimate that
they had plenty of preachers, and these preachers had their several
followers, so prizing some of them as to undervalue the rest? and was
this likely to be without several congregations into which they were
divided? 3. When the apostle saith, "Though ye have ten thousand
instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers," 1 Cor. v. 15;
though his words be hyperbolical, yet they imply that they had great
store of teachers and preachers. 4. We have mention of many prophets in
the church of Corinth: "Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the
other judge--And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the
prophets," 1 Cor. xiv. 20, 31. Here are _prophets_ speaking _two or
three_; and prophets judging of their doctrine, which sure were more
than they that were judged; it being unreasonable for the minor part to
pass judgement upon the major part. And though these prophets had
extraordinary gifts, (as the church of Corinth excelled all other
churches in gifts, 1 Cor. i. 7,) and were able to preach in an
extraordinary singular way; yet were they the ordinary pastors and
ministers of that church of Corinth, as the whole current of this
fourteenth chapter evidenceth, wherein so many rules and directions,
aptly agreeing to ordinary pastors, are imposed upon them for the well
ordering of their ministerial exercises. Now, where there were so many
pastors, were there not several congregations for them to feed? Or were
they idle, neglecting the exercise and improvement of their talents?

3. From the diversity of tongues and languages, wherein the church did
eminently excel. "In every thing ye are enriched by him, in all
utterance, and in all knowledge--So that you come behind in no gift,"
&c., i.e., ye excel in every gift, more being intended than is
expressed, 1 Cor. i. 5, 7. Among other gifts some of them excelled in
tongues which they spake, the right use of which gift of tongues the
apostle doth at large lay down, 1 Cor. xiv. 2, 4-6, 13, 14, 18, 19, 23,
26, 27. "If any speak in _an unknown_ tongue let it be by two, or at the
most by three, and that by course, and let one interpret." So that there
were many endued with gifts of tongues in that church. To what end? Not
only for a _sign to unbelievers_, ver. 22, but also for edification of
divers congregations, of divers tongues and languages within that church
of Corinth.

4. From the plurality of churches mentioned in reference to this church
of Corinth. For the apostle regulating their public assemblies and their
worship there, saith to the church of Corinth, "Let your women keep
silence in the churches." It is not said, in the _church_, in the
singular number; but in the _churches_, in the plural; and this of the
_churches in Corinth_, for it is said, _Let your women_, &c., not
indefinitely, _Let women_, &c. So that according to the plain letter of
the words, here are churches in the church of Corinth, viz. a plurality
of single congregations in this one presbyterial church. And this
plurality of churches in the church of Corinth is the more confirmed if
we take the church of Cenchrea (which is a harbor or seaport to
Corinth) to be comprised within the church of Corinth, as some learned
authors do conceive it may.[112]


That there is in the word of Christ a pattern of one presbyterial
government in common over divers single congregations in one church.
This may be evidenced by these following considerations: For,

1. Divers single congregations are called one church, as hath at large
been proved in the second position immediately foregoing; inasmuch as
all the believers in Jerusalem are counted one church: yet those
believers are more in number than could meet for all ordinances in any
one single congregation. And why are divers congregations styled one
church? 1. Not in regard of that oneness of heart and soul which was
among them, "having all things common," &c., Acts iv. 32. For these
affections and actions of kindness belonged to them by the law of
brotherhood and Christian charity to one another, (especially
considering the then present condition of believers,) rather than by any
special ecclesiastical obligation, because they were members of such a
church. 2. Not in regard of any explicit church covenant, knitting them
in one body. For we find neither name nor thing, print nor footstep of
any such thing as a church covenant in the church of Jerusalem, nor in
any other primitive apostolical church in all the New Testament; and to
impose an explicit church covenant upon the saints as a necessary
constituting form of a true visible Church of Christ, and without which
it is no Church, is a mere human invention, without all solid warrant
from the word of God. 3. Not in regard of the ministration of the word,
sacraments, prayers, &c. For these ordinances were dispensed in their
single congregations severally, it being impossible that such multitudes
of believers should meet all in one congregation, to partake of them
jointly, (as hath been evidenced.) 4. But in regard of one joint
administration of church government among them, by one common
presbytery, or college of elders, associated for that end. From this one
way of church government, by one presbytery in common, all the believers
in Jerusalem, and so in other cities respectively, were counted but one
church. 2. In every such presbyterial church made up of divers single
congregations, there were ecclesiastical ruling officers, which are
counted or called the officers of that church, but never counted or
called governors, elders, &c., of any one single congregation therein;
as in the church of Jerusalem, Acts xi. 27, 30, and xv. 2: of Antioch,
compare Acts xiii. 1-3, with xv. 35: of Ephesus, Acts xx. 17, 28: and of
the church of Corinth, 1 Cor. i. 12, and iv. 15, and xiv. 29.

3. The officers of such presbyterial churches met together for acts of
church government: as, to take charge of the church's goods, and of the
due distribution thereof, Acts iv. 35, 37, and xi. 30: to ordain,
appoint, and send forth church officers, Acts vi. 2, 3, 6, and xiii. 1,
3: to excommunicate notorious offenders, 1 Cor. v. 4, 5, 7, 13, compared
with 2 Cor. ii. 6: and to restore again penitent persons to church
communion, 2 Cor. ii. 7-9.

_Except_. Receiving of alms is no act of government.

_Ans_. True, the bare receiving of alms is no act of government, but the
ordering and appointing how it shall be best improved and disposed of,
cannot be denied to be an act of government, and for this did the elders
meet together, Acts xi. 30.

4. The apostles themselves, in their joint acts of government in such
churches, acted as ordinary officers, viz. as presbyters or elders. This
is much to be observed, and may be evidenced as followeth: for, 1. None
of their acts of church government can at all be exemplary or obligatory
upon us, if they were not presbyterial, but merely apostolical; if they
acted therein not as ordinary presbyters, but as extraordinary apostles.
For what acts they dispatched merely as apostles, none may meddle withal
but only apostles. 2. As they were apostles, so they were presbyters,
and so they style themselves, "The elder to the elect lady," 2 John i.
"The elders which are among you I exhort," saith Peter, "who am also an
elder," (i.e. who am a fellow-elder, or co-presbyter,) 1 Pet. v. 1;
wherein he ranks himself among ordinary presbyters, which had been
improper, unless he had discharged the offices and acts of an ordinary
presbyter. 3. Their acts were such, for substance, as ordinary
presbyters do perform, as preaching and prayer, Acts vi. 4: ordaining of
officers, Acts vi. 6, and xiv. 23: dispensing of the sacraments, 1 Cor.
i. 14; Acts ii. 42, and xx. 7: and of church censures, 1 Cor. v. 4, 5,
compared with 1 Tim. v. ver. 1, ult.: which acts of government, and such
like, were committed by Christ to them, and to ordinary presbyters
(their successors) to the end of the world; compare Matt. xvi. 19, and
xviii. 17, 18, to the end, and John xx. 21, 23, with Matt. xxviii.
18-20. 4. They acted not only as ordinary elders, but also they acted
jointly with other elders, being associated with them in the same
assembly, as in that eminent synod at Jerusalem, Acts xv. 6, 22, 23, and
xvi. 4, "And as they went through cities, they delivered them the
decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which
were at Jerusalem." 5. And, finally, they took in the church's consent
with themselves, wherein it was needful, as in the election and
appointment of deacons, Acts vi. 2, 3. 6. The deacons being specially to
be trusted with the church's goods, and the disposal thereof, according
to the direction of the presbytery, for the good of the church, &c.

Let all these considerations be impartially balanced in the scales of
indifferent unprejudiced judgments; and how plainly do they delineate in
the word, a pattern of one presbyterial government in common over divers
single congregations within one church!

_Except_. The apostles' power over many congregations was founded upon
their power over all churches; and so cannot be a pattern for the power
of elders over many.

_Ans_. 1. The apostles' power over many congregations as one church, to
govern them all as one church jointly and in common, was not founded
upon their power over all churches, but upon the union of those
congregations into one church; which union lays a foundation for the
power of elders governing many congregations.

2. Besides, the apostles, though extraordinary officers, are called
elders, 1 Pet. v. 1, to intimate to us, that in ordinary acts of church
government, they did act as elders for a pattern to us in like

_Except_. The apostles, it is true, were elders virtually, that is,
their apostleship contained all offices in it, but they were not elders

_Ans_. 1. If by formally be meant, that they were not elders really,
then it is false; for the Scripture saith Peter was an elder, 1 Peter v.
1. If by formally be meant that they were not elders only, that is
granted; they were so elders, as they were still apostles, and so
apostles as they were yet elders: their eldership did not exclude their
apostleship, nor their apostleship swallow up their eldership.

2. Besides, two distinct offices may be formally in one and the same
person; as Melchisedec was formally a king and priest, and David
formally a king and prophet; and why then might not Peter or John, or
any of the twelve, be formally apostles and elders? And ministers are
formally pastors and ruling elders.

_Except_. 'Tis true, the apostles acted together with elders, because
it so fell out they met together; but that they should meet jointly to
give a pattern for an eldership, is not easy to prove; one apostle might
have done that alone, which all here did.

_Ans_. 1. 'Tis true, the apostles as apostles had power to act singly
what they did jointly; yet, when they acted jointly, their acts might
have more authority in the Church: upon which ground they of Antioch may
be conceived to have sent to the whole college of apostles and elders at
Jerusalem, (rather than to any one singly;) why was this, but to add
more authority to their acts and determinations?

2. Why should not their meeting together be a pattern of a presbytery,
as well as their meeting together when they took in the consent of the
people, Acts vi., in the choice of the deacons, to be a pattern or
warrant that the people have a power in the choice of their officers?
(as those of contrary judgment argue:) if one be taken in as an
inimitable practice, why not the other?

3. If the apostles joining with elders, acted nothing as elders, then we
can bring nothing of theirs into imitation; and by this we should cut
the sinews, and raze the foundation of church government, as if there
were no footsteps thereof in the holy Scriptures.


Finally, That the pattern of the said presbytery and presbyterial
government is for a rule to the churches of Christ in all after ages,
may appear as followeth:

1. The first churches were immediately planted and governed by Christ's
own apostles and disciples; 1. Who immediately received the keys of the
kingdom of heaven from Christ himself in person, Matt. xvi. 19, and
xviii. 17,18; John xx. 21, 23. 2. Who immediately had the promise of
Christ's perpetual presence with them in their ministry, Matt, xxviii.
18-20; and of the plentiful donation of the Spirit of Christ to lead
them into all truth, John xiv. 16, and xvi. 13-15; Acts i. 4, 5, 8 3.
Who immediately received from Christ, after his resurrection and before
his ascension, "commandments by the Holy Ghost,"--"Christ being seen of
them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of
God," Acts i. 2, 3; and, 4. Who were first and immediately _baptized by
the Holy Ghost_, extraordinarily, Acts ii. 1-5. Now, who can imagine
that the apostles and disciples were not actuated by the Spirit of
Christ bestowed upon them? or did not discharge Christ's commandments,
touching his kingdom imposed upon them? or did not duly use those keys
of Christ's kingdom committed to them in the ordering and governing of
the primitive churches? And if so, then the pattern of their practices
must be a rule for all the succeeding churches, 1 Cor. xi. 1; Phil, iv.

2. To what end hath the Holy Ghost so carefully recorded a pattern of
the state and government of the primitive churches in the first and
purest times, but for the imitation of successive churches in after
times? "For whatsoever things wore written aforetime, were written for
our learning," or instruction. But what do such records instruct us?
Only _in fact_, that such things were done by the first churches? or _of
right_ also, that such things should be done by the after churches?
Surely, this is more proper and profitable for us.

3. If such patterns of Christ's apostles, disciples, and primitive
churches in matters of the government will not amount to an obligatory
rule for all following churches, how shall we justify sundry other acts
of religion commonly received in the best reformed churches, and founded
only or chiefly upon the foundation of the practice of Christ's apostles
and the apostolical churches? As the receiving of the Lord's supper on
the Lord's days, Acts xx. 7, &c.; which notwithstanding are generally
embraced without any considerable opposition or contradiction, and that
most deservedly.


_Of the Divine Right of Synods, or Synodal Assemblies._

Thus far of the ruling assemblies, which are styled presbyterial; next
come into consideration those greater assemblies, which are usually
called synodal, or synods, or councils. They are so called from their
convening, or coming together: or rather from their calling together.
Both names, viz. synod and council, are of such latitude of
signification, as that they may be applied to any public convention of
people: but in the common ordinary use of these words, they are
appropriated to large ecclesiastical assemblies, above classical
presbyteries in number and power. These synodal assemblies are made up,
(as occasion and the necessity of the church shall require.) 1. Either
of presbyters, sent from the several classical presbyteries within a
province, hence called provincial synods: 2. Or of presbyters, sent from
the several provincial synods within a nation, hence called national
synods: 3. Or of presbyters, delegated or sent from the several
national churches throughout the Christian world, hence called
ecumenical synods, or universal and general councils.

Touching the divine warrant of synods, and their power in church
affairs, much need not be said, seeing divers learned authors have so
fully stated and handled this matter.[113] Yet, that the reader may have
a short view hereof, and not be left wholly unsatisfied, these two
things shall briefly be opened and insisted upon, viz: 1. Certain
considerations shall be propounded, tending to clear the state of the
question about the divine right of synods, and their power. 2. The
proposition itself, with some few arguments adduced, for the proof

For the former, viz: The true stating of this question about the divine
right of synods, and of their power, well weigh these few

1. Synods differ in some respects from classical presbyteries, handled
in Chap. XIII., though the nature and kind of their power be the same
for substance. For, 1. Synods are more large extensive assemblies than
classical presbyteries, the members of presbyteries being sent only from
several single congregations, the members of synods being delegated from
several presbyteries, and proportionably their power is extended also.
2. The exercise of government by presbyteries, is the common ordinary
way of government held forth in Scripture. By synods it is more rare and
extraordinary, at least in great part, as in case of extraordinary
causes that fall out: as, for choosing an apostle, Acts i., healing of
scandals, &c., Acts xv.

2. All synods are of the same nature and kind, whether provincial,
national, or ecumenical, though they differ as lesser and greater, in
respect of extent, from one another, (the provincial having as full
power within their bounds, as the national or ecumenical within theirs.)
So that the proving of the divine right of synods indefinitely and in
general, doth prove also the divine right of provincial, national, and
ecumenical synods in particular: for, greater and lesser do not vary the
species or kind. What is true of ecclesiastical synods in general,
agrees to every such synod in particular.

_Object_. But why hath not the Scripture determined these assemblies in

_Ans_. 1. It is not necessary the Scripture should in every case descend
to particulars. In things of one and the same kind, general rules may
serve for all particulars; especially seeing particulars are so
innumerable, what volumes would have contained all particulars? 2. All
churches and seasons are not capable of synods provincial or national:
for, in an island there may be no more Christians than to make up one
single congregation, or one classical presbytery. Or in a nation, the
Christian congregations may be so few, or so dispersed, or so involved
in persecution, that they cannot convene in synods, &c.

3. The power of synods contended for, is, 1. Not civil; they have no
power to take cognizance of civil causes, as such; not to inflict any
civil punishments; as fines, imprisonments, confiscations, banishments,
death, (these being proper to the civil magistrate:) but merely
spiritual; they judge only in ecclesiastical causes, in a spiritual
manner, by spiritual censures, to spiritual ends, as did that synod,
Acts xv. 2. Not corruptive, privative, or destructive to the power of
classical presbyteries, or single congregations; but rather perfective
and conservative thereunto. As suppose a single congregation should
elect a minister unsound in judgment, or scandalous in conversation, the
synod may annul and make void that election, and direct them to make a
better choice, or appoint them a minister themselves; hereby this
liberty of election is not at all infringed or violated, but for their
own advantage regulated, &c. 3. Not absolute, and infallible; but
limited and fallible: any synod or council may err, being constituted of
men that are weak, frail, ignorant in part, &c., and therefore all their
decrees and determinations are to be examined by the touchstone of the
Scriptures, nor are they further to be embraced, or counted obligatory,
than they are consonant thereunto, Isa. viii. 20. Hence there is liberty
of appeal, as from congregational elderships to the classical
presbytery, and from thence to the provincial synod, so from the
provincial to the national assembly, &c. 4. Finally, the power of synods
is not only persuasive and consultative, (as some think,) able to give
grave advice, and to use forcible persuasions in any case, which if
accepted and followed, well; if rejected and declined, there is no
further remedy, but a new non-communion instead of a divine church
censure: but it is a proper authoritative juridical power, which all
within their bounds are obliged reverently to esteem, and dutifully to
submit unto, so far as agreeable to the word of Christ.

4. Finally, this authoritative juridical power of synods is threefold,
viz. _doctrinal, regulating, and censuring_. 1. _Doctrinal_, in
reference to matters of faith, and divine worship; not to coin new
articles of faith, or devise new acts of divine worship: but to explain
and apply those articles of faith and rules of worship which are laid
down in the word, and declare the contrary errors, heresies,
corruptions. Hence the Church is styled, _the pillar and ground of
truth_, 1 Tim. iii. 15. Thus to the Jewish Church _were committed of
trust the oracles of God_, Rom. iii. 2. 2. _Regulating_, in reference to
external order and polity, in matters prudential and circumstantial,
which are determinate according to the true light of nature, and the
general rules of Scripture, such as are in 1 Cor. x. 31, 32; Rom. xiv.;
1 Cor. xiv. 26, 40, &c.; not according to any arbitrary power of men. 3.
_Censuring_ power, in reference to error, heresy, schism, obstinacy,
contempt, or scandal, and the repressing thereof; which power is put
forth merely in spiritual censures, as admonition, excommunication,
deposition, &c. And these censures exercised, not in a lordly,
domineering, prelatical way: but in an humble, sober, grave, yet
authoritative way, necessary both for preservation of soundness of
doctrine, and incorruptness of conversation; and for extirpation of the
contrary. This is the power which belongs to synods. Thus much for
clearing the right state of this question.

II. For the second thing, viz. the proposition itself, and the
confirmation thereof, take it briefly in these terms.

Jesus Christ our Mediator hath laid down in his word sufficient ground
and warrant for juridical synods, and their authority, for governing of
his Church now under the New Testament. Many arguments might be produced
for proof of this proposition: as, 1. From the light of nature. 2. From
the words of the law, Deut. xvii. 8, 12, compared with 2 Chron. xix. 8,
11; Ps. cxxii. 4, 5, holding forth an ecclesiastical Sanhedrin in the
Church of the Jews, superior to other courts. 3. From the words of
Christ, Matt, xviii. 15-21. 4. From the unity of the visible Church of
Christ now under the New Testament. 5. From the primitive apostolical
pattern laid down, Acts xv., &c., and from divers other considerations;
but for brevity's sake, only the two last arguments shall be a little
insisted upon.

_Argum_. I. The unity or oneness of the visible Church of Christ now
under the New Testament, laid down in Scripture, gives us a notable
foundation for church government by juridical synods. For, 1. That Jesus
Christ our Mediator hath one general, visible Church on earth now under
the New Testament, hath been already proved, Part 2, Chap. VIII. 2. That
in this Church there is a government settled by divine right, is
evidenced, Part 1, Chap. I. 3. That all Christ's ordinances, and
particularly church government, primarily belong to the whole general
Church visible, for her edification, (secondarily to particular churches
and single congregations, as parts or members of the whole,) hath been
manifested, Part 2, Chap. VIII. Now, there being one general visible
Church, having a government set in it of divine right, and that
government belonging primarily to the whole body of Christ; secondarily,
to the parts or members thereof; must it not necessarily follow, that
the more generally and extensively Christ's ordinance of church
government is managed in greater and more general assemblies, the more
fully the perfection and end of the government, viz. the edification of
the whole body of Christ, is attained; and on the contrary, the more
particularly and singly church government is exercised, as in
presbyteries, or single congregational elderships, the more imperfect it
is, and the less it attains to the principal end: consequently, if there
be a divine warrant for church government by single congregational
elderships, is it not much more for church government by presbyteries,
and synods, or councils, wherein more complete provision is made for the
edification of the general Church or body of Jesus Christ?

_Argum_. II. The primitive apostolical practice in the first and purest
ages of the Church after Christ, may further evidence with great
strength the divine warrant for church government by juridical synods or
councils. Let this be the position:

Jesus Christ our Mediator hath laid down in his word a pattern of a
juridical synod, consisting of governing officers of divers presbyterial
churches, for a rule to the Church of Christ in all succeeding ages.

For proof hereof take these two assertions: 1. That Jesus Christ hath
laid down in his word a pattern of a juridical synod. 2. That this
juridical synod is for a rule to the churches of Christ in all
succeeding ages.


That Jesus Christ hath laid down in his word a pattern of a synod, yea,
of a juridical synod, consisting of governing officers of divers
presbyterial churches, is manifest, Acts xv. and xvi., where are plainly
set forth: 1. The occasion of the synod. 2. The proper members of the
synod. 3. The equal power and authority exercised by all those members.
4. The way and method of ordinary synodal proceeding. 5. The juridical
acts of power put forth by the synod; with the issue and consequent of
all upon the churches.

First, Here was a proper ground and occasion for a juridical synod. For
thus the text expressly declareth, that "certain men which came down
from Judea, taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised
after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved; when therefore Paul and
Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they
determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go
up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question," Acts
xv. 1, 2, compared with ver. 5--"But there rose up certain of the sect
of the Pharisees, which believed, saying, that it was needful to
circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses;" and with
ver. 23, 24--"The apostles, and elders, and brethren send greeting unto
the brethren which are of the Gentiles, in Antioch, and Syria, and
Cilicia: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from
us, have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must
be circumcised and keep the law." In which passages these things are

1. That false doctrine, destructive to the doctrine of Christ in his
gospel, did arise in the Church, viz: That circumcision and keeping of
the ceremonial law of Moses was necessary to salvation, ver. 1, 5, 24;
and this false doctrine promoted with lying, as if the apostles and
elders of Jerusalem had sent forth the false teachers with directions to
preach so, as their apology ("to whom we gave no such commandment," ver.
24) seems to import. Here is corruption both in doctrine and manners fit
for a synod to take cognizance of.

2. That this corrupt doctrine was vented by certain that came down from
Judea. It is evident, it was by certain of the sect of the Pharisees
that believed; as Paul and Barnabas make the narrative to the church at
Jerusalem, ver. 5, therefore the false teachers coming from Judea (where
the Churches of Christ were first of all planted, and whence the church
plantation spread) published their doctrines with more credit to their
errors and danger to the churches; and so both the churches of Judea
whence they came, and of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, whither they came,
were interested in the business.

3. That the said false teachers by the leaven of their doctrine troubled
them with words, subverting the souls of the brethren, both at Antioch,
Syria, and Cilicia, ver. 23, 24; here was the disturbance and scandal of
divers churches: compare ver. 39 with 41.

4. That Paul and Barnabas at Antioch had no small dissension and dispute
against the false teachers, ver. 1, 2, that so (if possible) they might
be convinced, and the Church's peace preserved, without craving further
assistance in a solemn synod.

5. That after these disputes, and for the better settling of all the
churches about this matter, (which these disputes could not effect,)
_they decreed_ (or ordained) _that Paul and Barnabas, and some others of
themselves, should go up to the apostles and elders at Jerusalem about
this question, ver_. 2. Here was an authoritative mission of delegated
officers from the presbyterial church at Antioch, and from other
churches of Syria and Cilicia also, ver. 23, 41, to a synodal assembly
with the presbyterial church at Jerusalem.

Secondly, Here were proper members of a synod convened to consider of
this question, viz. the officers and delegates of divers presbyterial
churches: of the presbyterial church at Jerusalem, the apostles and
elders, Acts xv. 6: of the presbyterial church at Antioch, Paul,
Barnabas, and others; compare verse 2 and 12. And besides these, there
were brethren from other churches, present as members of the synod; as
may appear by these two considerations, viz:

1. Partly, because it is called "The whole multitude," ver. 12; "The
apostles and elders with the whole church," ver. 22; "The apostles, and
elders, and brethren," ver. 23. This whole multitude, whole church, and
brethren, distinct from the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem,
cannot be _the company of all the faithful at Jerusalem_, for (as hath
been evidenced, Chap. XIV., Position 2,) they were too many to meet in
one house. But it was the synodal multitude, the synodal church,
consisting of apostles, and elders, and brethren; which brethren seem to
be such as were sent from several churches, as Judas and Silas, ver. 24,
who were assistants to the apostles and evangelists--Judas, Acts xv. 22,
32; Silas, Acts xv. 32, 40, and xvi. 19, and xvii. 4, 14, 15, and xviii.
5. Some think Titus was of this synod also.

2. Partly because the brethren of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, were
troubled with this question, ver. 23, 24. Therefore it cannot be
reasonably imagined, but all those places sought out for a remedy; and
to that end, severally and respectively sent their delegates to the
synod at Jerusalem: else they had been very regardless of their own
church peace and welfare. And the epistle of the synod was directed to
them all by name, ver. 23; and so did formally bind them all, having men
of their own members of the synod, which decrees did but materially, and
from the nature of the thing, bind the other churches at Lystra and
Iconium, Acts xvi. 4. Now, if there were delegates but from two
presbyterial churches, they were sufficient to constitute a synod; and
this justifies delegates from ten or twenty churches, proportionably,
when there shall be like just and necessary occasion.

Thirdly, Here all the members of the synod, as they were convened by
like ordinary authority, so they acted by like ordinary and equal power
in the whole business laid before them; which shows it was an ordinary,
not an extraordinary synod. For though apostles and evangelists, who had
power over all churches, were members of the synod, as well as ordinary
elders; yet they acted not in this synod by a transcendent, infallible,
apostolical power, but by an ordinary power, as elders. This is evident,

1. Because the Apostle Paul, and Barnabas his colleague, (called a
prophet and teacher, Acts xiii. 1, 2, and an apostle, Acts xiv. 14,)
were sent as members to this synod, by order and determination of the
church of Antioch, and they submitted themselves to that determination,
Acts xv. 2, 3; which they could not have submitted unto as apostles, but
as ordinary elders and members of the presbytery at Antioch: they that
send, being greater than those that are sent by them. Upon which ground
it is a good argument which is urged against Peter's primacy over the
rest of the apostles, because the college of apostles at Jerusalem sent
Peter and John to Samaria, having received the faith, Acts viii. 14.

2. Because the manner of proceeding in this synod convened, was not
extraordinary and apostolical, as when they acted by an immediate
infallible inspiration of the Spirit, in penning the Holy Scriptures,
(without all disputing, examining, or judging of the matter that they
wrote, so far as we can read,) 2 Tim. iii. 16,17; 2 Pet. i. 20, 21; but
ordinary, presbyterial, and synodal; by ordinary helps and means, (as
afterwards shall appear more fully;) stating the question, proving and
evidencing from Scripture what was _the good and acceptable will of God_
concerning the present controversy, and upon evidence of Scripture
concluding, _It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us_, Acts xv. 28;
which words, any assembly, having like clear evidence of Scripture for
their determination, may without presumption use, as well as this synod

3. Because the elders and brethren (who are as authoritatively members
of the synod as the apostles) did in all points as authoritatively act
as the apostles themselves. For, 1. Certain other of the church of
Antioch, as well as _Paul_ and _Barnabas_, were sent as delegates from
the church of _Antioch_, Acts xv. 2. 2. They were all sent as well to
the _elders_, as to the _apostles_ at _Jerusalem_, about this matter,
ver. 2. 3. They were received at _Jerusalem_, as well by the _elders_,
as the _apostles_, and reported their case to them both, ver. 4. 4. The
_elders_, as well as the _apostles_, met together to consider thereof,
ver. 6. 5. The letters containing the synodal decrees and
determinations, were written in the name of the _elders and brethren_,
as well as in the name of the _apostles_, ver. 23. 6. The _elders and
brethren_, as well as the _apostles_, blame the false teachers for
troubling of the Church, _subverting of souls_; declaring, that they
gave the false teachers _no such commandment_ to preach any such
doctrine, ver. 24. 7. The _elders and brethren_, as well as the
_apostles_, say, "It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us," ver. 28.
8. The _elders_ and _brethren_, as well as the _apostles_, did impose
upon the churches "no other burden than these necessary things," ver.
28. 9. The _elders_, as well as the _apostles_, being assembled,
"thought good to send chosen men of themselves," viz. _Judas_ and
_Silas_, with _Paul_ and _Barnabas_, to _Antioch_, to deliver the
synodal decrees to them, and to tell them the same things by mouth, ver.
22, 25, 27. 10. And the decrees are said to be ordained as well by the
_elders_, as by the _apostles at Jerusalem_, Acts xvi. 4. So that
through this whole synodal transaction, the elders are declared in the
text to go on in a full authoritative course of judgment with the
apostles, from point to point. And therefore in this synod, the apostles
acted as ordinary elders, not as extraordinary officers.

Fourthly. Here was the ordinary way and method of synodal proceedings by
the apostles, elders, and brethren, when they were convened unanimously,
ver. 25. For,

1. They proceeded deliberatively, by discourses and disputes,
deliberating about the true state of the question, and the remedy of the
scandal. This is laid down, 1. More generally, "and when there had been
much disputing," ver. 7. 2. More particularly, how they proceeded when
they drew towards a synodal determination, Peter speaks of the Gentiles'
conversion, and clears the doctrine of justification "by faith without
the works of the law," ver. 7-12. Then Barnabas and Paul confirm the
conversion of the Gentiles, "declaring the signs and wonders wrought by
them among the Gentiles," ver. 12. After them James speaks, approving
what Peter had spoken touching the conversion of the Gentiles,
confirming it by Scripture; and further adds (which Peter did but hint,
ver. 10, and Paul and Barnabas did not so much as touch upon) a remedy
against the present scandal, ver. 13-22. Here is now an ordinary way of
proceeding by debates, disputes, allegations of Scripture, and mutual
suffrages. What needed all this, if this had been a transcendent,
extraordinary, and not an ordinary synod?

2. They proceeded after all their deliberative inquiries and disputes
decisively to conclude and determine the matter, ver. 20-30. The result
of the synod (as there is evident) is threefold. 1. To set down in
writing their decrees and determinations. 2. To signify those decrees in
an epistle to the brethren at Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. 3. To send
these letters by some from among themselves, viz. Judas and Silas,
together with Paul and Barnabas, to all the churches that were offended
or endangered, that both by written decrees and word of mouth, the
churches might be established in faith and peace.

Fifthly, Here were several authoritative and juridical acts of power,
put forth in this synod, according to the exigency of the present
distempers of the churches. This appears plainly,

1. By the proceedings of the synod in accommodating a suitable and
proportionable remedy to every malady at that time distempering the
Church, viz. a triple medicine for a threefold disease.

1. Against the heresy broached, viz. that they must be circumcised and
keep the ceremonial "law of Moses, or else they could not be saved,"
Acts xv. 2. The synod put forth a doctrinal power, in confutation of the
heresy, and clear vindication of the truth, about the great point of
"justification by faith without the works of the law," Acts xv. 7-23;
and (Independents themselves being judges) a doctrinal decision of
matters of faith by a lawful synod, far surpasseth the doctrinal
determination of any single teacher, or of the presbytery of any single
congregation; and is to be reverently received of the churches as a
binding ordinance of Christ.

2. Against the schism, occasioned by the doctrine of the false teachers
that troubled the Church, Acts xv. 1, 2, the synod put forth a censuring
power, stigmatizing the false teachers with the infamous brands of
troubling the Church with words, subverting of souls, and (tacitly, as
some conceive from that expression, "Unto whom we gave no such
commandment," ver. 24) of belying the apostles and elders of Jerusalem,
as if they had sent them abroad to preach this doctrine.

_Object_. But the synod proceeded not properly to censure the false
teachers by any ecclesiastical admonition, or excommunication; therefore
the power exercised in the synod was only doctrinal, and not properly

_Ans_. 1. They censured them in some degree, and that with a mark of
infamy, ver. 24, as was manifested. And this was not only a warning and
hint to the churches, to note such false teachers, avoid them, and
withdraw from them, compare Rom. xvi. 17, 18, with 1 Tim. vi. 3-5; but
also was a virtual admonition to the false teachers themselves, while
their doctrines and ways were so expressly condemned. 2. They proceeded
not to present excommunication, it is granted; nor was it at first dash
seasonable, prudent, or needful. But the synod knew well, that if these
false teachers, after this synodal mark of disgrace set upon them,
should still persist in their course, incurably and incorrigibly
obstinate, they might in due time be excommunicated by course; it being
a clear case in itself that such heretics or schismatics, as otherwise
cannot be reduced, are not to be suffered, but to be cast out of the
churches. "An heretic, after once or twice admonition, reject," Tit.
iii. 10, 11; see Rev. ii. 2, 14, 20.

3. Against the scandal of the weak Jews, and their heart-estrangement
from the Gentiles, who neglected their ceremonial observances, as also
against the scandal of the Gentiles, who were much troubled and offended
at the urging of circumcision, and the keeping of the law as necessary
to salvation, ver. 1, 2, 19, 24, the synod put forth an ordering or
regulating power, framing practical rules or constitutions for the
healing of the scandal, and for prevention of the spreading of it,
commanding the brethren of the several churches to abstain from divers
things that might any way occasion the same: "It seemed good to the Holy
Ghost, and to us, to impose" (or lay) "upon you no further burden than
these necessary things," Acts xv. 28, 29. Here is _burden_ and
_necessary things_, (so judged to be necessary for those times, and that
state of the Church,) and imposing of these upon the churches: will not
this amount to a plain ordering power and authority? Especially
considering that the word _to impose_, or _lay on_, when it is used of
the judgment, act, or sentence of an assembly, ordinarily signifies an
authoritative judgment, or decree, as, "Why tempt ye God, to lay, or
impose, a yoke upon the neck of the disciples?" Acts xv. 10. Thus some in
the synod endeavored to carry the synod with themselves, authoritatively
to have imposed the ceremonies upon the churches; whom Peter thus
withstands. So, "They bind heavy burdens, and hard to be borne, and
impose them upon men's shoulders," Matt, xxiii. 4: and this laying on of
burdens by the Pharisees, was not by a bare doctrinal declaring, but by
an authoritative commanding, as seems by that, "teaching for doctrines
the commandments of men," Matt. xv. 9.

2. By the title or denomination given to the synodal results contained
in their letters sent to the brethren. They are styled, "The decrees
ordained, or judged," Acts xvi. 4. Here are plainly juridical
authoritative constitutions. For it is very observable,

That wheresoever the words translated _decree_ or _decrees_ are found in
the New Testament, thereby are denoted, laws, statutes, or decrees: as
"Decrees of Cæsar," Acts xvii. 7: "A decree from Cæsar," Luke ii. 1:
Moses' ceremonial law, "The hand-writing to ordinances," Col. ii. 14:
"The law of commandments in ordinances," Eph. ii. 15: and this word is
found used only in these five places in the whole New Testament: and the
Septuagint interpreters often use the word in the Old Testament to this
purpose; for _laws_, Dan. vi. 8; for _decrees_, Dan. ii. 13, and iii.
10, 29, and iv. 3, and vi. 9.

And the other word translated _ordained_, when applied to an assembly by
the Septuagint, is used for a judgment of authority, as, "And what was
decreed against her," Esth. ii. 1; and so a word derived from it,
signifies a _decree_, Dan. iv. 14, 21.

In this sense also the word is sometimes used in the New Testament, when
applied to assemblies; as, "Take ye him, and judge him according to your
law," John xviii. 31; "Whom we laid hold upon, and would have judged
according to our law," Acts xxiv. 6.

Now, if there be so much power and authority engraven upon these two
words severally, how strongly do they hold forth authority, when they
are applied to any thing jointly, as here to the synodal decisions!

3. By the consequent of these synodal proceedings, viz. the cheerful
submission of the churches thereunto. This appears both in the church of
Antioch, where the troubles first were raised by the false teachers;
where, "when the epistle" of the synod "was read, they rejoiced for the
consolation," Acts xv. 30, 31; and Judas and Silas exhorted and
confirmed the brethren by word of mouth, according to the synod's
direction, ver. 32; and in other churches, to which Paul and Timothy
delivered the "decrees ordained by the apostles and elders which were at
Jerusalem; and so were the churches confirmed in the faith, and abounded
in number daily," Acts xvi. 4, 5; whence we have these evidences of the
churches' submission to the synodal decrees: 1. The decrees are counted
by the churches a consolation. 2. They were so welcome to them, that
they _rejoiced for the consolation_. 3. They were hereby notably
_confirmed in the faith_, against the false doctrines broached among
them. 4. The churches _abounded in number daily_, the scandal and
stumbling-blocks that troubled the Church being removed out of the way.
How should such effects so quickly have followed upon the publication of
the synodal decrees, in the several churches, had not the churches
looked upon that synod as vested with juridical power and authority for
composing and imposing of these their determinations?


That this juridical synod is for a rule to the churches of Christ in all
succeeding ages, there need no new considerations for proof hereof;
only let the reader please to look back to Position iv. of the last
chapter, where the substance of those considerations which urge the
pattern of presbyteries and presbyterial government for a rule to
succeeding churches, is applicable (by change of terms) to the pattern
of juridical synods.[115]


_Of the subordination of particular churches to greater assemblies for
their authoritative and judicial determination of causes ecclesiastical,
and the divine right thereof._

The divine right of ecclesiastical assemblies, congregational,
classical, and synodal, and of their power for church government, being
thus evidenced by the Scriptures, now in the last place take a few words
briefly touching the subordination of the lesser to the greater
assemblies, and the divine warrant thereof. In asserting the
subordination of particular churches to higher assemblies, whether
classical or synodal,

1. It is not denied, but particular churches have within themselves
power of discipline entirely, so far as any cause in debate particularly
and peculiarly concerneth themselves, and not others.

2. It is granted, that where there is no consociation, or neighborhood
of single churches, whereby they may mutually aid one another, there a
single congregation must not be denied entire jurisdiction; but this
falls not within the compass of ordinary rules of church government left
us by Christ. If there be but one congregation in a kingdom or province,
that particular congregation may do much by itself alone, which it ought
not to do where there are neighboring and adjacent churches that might
associate therewith for mutual assistance.

3. It is granted, that every single congregation hath equal power, one
as much as another, and that there is no subordination of one to
another; according to that common and known axiom, An equal hath no
power or rule over an equal. Subordination prelatical, which is of one
or more parishes to the prelate and his cathedral, is denied; all
particular churches being collateral, and of the same authority.

4. It is granted, that classical or synodal authority cannot be by
Scripture introduced over a particular church in a privative or
destructive way to that power which God hath bestowed upon it; but
contrarily it is affirmed, that all the power of assemblies, which are
above particular congregations, is cumulative and perfective to the
power of those inferior congregations.

5. It is granted, that the highest ecclesiastical assembly in the world
cannot require from the lowest a subordination absolute, and at their
own mere will and pleasure, but only in some respect; subordination
absolute being only to the law of God laid down in Scripture. We detest
popish tyranny, which claims a power of giving their will for a law.
'Tis subjection in the Lord that is pleaded for: the straightest rule in
the world, unless the holy Scripture, we affirm to be a rule to be
regulated; peace being only in walking according to Scripture canon,
Gal. vi. ver. 16.

6. Nor is it the question whether friendly, consultative, fraternal,
Christian advice or direction, be either to be desired or bestowed by
neighboring churches, either apart or in their synodal meetings, for the
mutual benefit of one another, by reason of that holy profession in
which they are all conjoined and knit together: for this will be granted
on all hands, though when it is obtained, it will not amount to a
sufficient remedy in many cases.

But this is that which we maintain, viz. that the law of God holdeth
forth a subordination of a particular church to greater assemblies,
consisting of divers choice members, taken out of several single
congregations: which assemblies have authoritative power and
ecclesiastical jurisdiction over that particular church, by way of
giving sentence in and deciding of causes ecclesiastical. For
confirmation of this assertion, thus:

_Argum_. I. The light of nature may be alleged to prove, that there
ought to be this subordination: this is warranted not only by God's
positive law, but even by nature's law. The church is a company of
people who are not outlawed by nature. The visible church being an
ecclesiastical polity, and the perfection of all polity, doth comprehend
in it whatsoever is excellent in all other bodies political. The church
must resemble the commonwealth's government in things common to both,
and which have the same use in both. The law of nature directs unto
diversities of courts in the commonwealth, and the greater to have
authority over the lesser. The church is not only to be considered as
employed in holy services, or as having assemblies exercised in
spiritual things, and after a spiritual manner, but it is also to be
considered as consisting of companies and societies of men to be
regularly ordered, and so far nature agreeth to it, that it should have
divers sorts of assemblies, and the lower subordinate to the higher.
That particular parts should be subject to the whole for the good of the
whole, is found necessary both in bodies natural and politic. Is the
foot to be lanced? though it have a particular use of its own, and a
peculiar employment, yet it is to be ordered by the eye, the hand, and
the rest. Kingdoms have their several cities and towns, which all have
their governments apart by themselves; yet for the preservation of the
whole, all join together in the Parliament. Armies and navies have their
several companies and ships, yet in any danger every particular company
and ship is ordered by the counsels and directions of the officers and
guides of the whole army or navy. The Church is spiritual, but yet a
kingdom, a body, an army, &c. D. Ames himself affirms that the light of
nature requires that particular churches ought to combine in synods for
things of greater moment. The God of nature and reason hath not left in
his word a government against the light of nature and right reason.
Appeals are of divine and natural right, and certainly very necessary in
every society, because of the iniquity and ignorance of judges. That
they are so, the practices of all ages and nations sufficiently testify.

_Argum_. II. The Jewish church government affords a second argument. If
in that they had synagogues in every city, which were subordinate to the
supreme ecclesiastical court at Jerusalem, then there ought to be a
subordination of particular churches among us to higher assemblies; but
so it was among them: therefore,

That the subordination was among them of the particular synagogues to
the assembly at Jerusalem, is clear--Deut. xvii. 8, 12; 2 Chron. xix. 8,
11; Exod. xviii. 22, 26.

That therefore it ought to be so among us, is as plain: for the dangers
and difficulties that they were involved in without a government, and
for which God caused that government to be set up among them, are as
great if not greater among us, and therefore why should we want the same
means of prevention and cure? Are not we in greater danger of heresies
now in the time of the New Testament, the churches therein being thereby
to be exercised by way of trial, as the apostle foretells, 1 Cor. xi.
19? Doth not ungodliness in these last times abound, according to the
same apostle's prediction? Is there not now a more free and permitted
intercourse of society with infidels than in those times?

Nor are the exceptions against this argument of any strength: as, 1.
That arguments for the form of church government must yet be fetched
from the Jewish Church; the government of the Jews was ceremonial and
typical, and Christians must not Judaize, nor use that Judaical compound
of subordination of churches: the Mosaical polity is abrogated now under
the New Testament. Not to tell those that make this exception, 1. That
none argue so much from the Jewish government as themselves for the
power of congregations, both in ordination and excommunication, because
the people of Israel laid hands on the Levites, and all Israel were to
remove the unclean; 2. We answer, the laws of the Jewish church, whether
ceremonial or judicial, so far are in force, even at this day, as they
were grounded upon common equity, the principles of reason and nature,
and were serving to the maintenance of the moral law. 'Tis of especial
right, that the party unjustly aggrieved should have redress, that the
adverse party should not be sole judge and party too, that judgment
ought not to be rashly or partially passed upon any. The Jewish polity
is only abrogated in regard of what was in it of particular right, not
of common right: so far as there was in their laws either a typicalness
proper to their church, or a peculiarness of respect to their state in
that land of promise given unto them. Whatsoever was in their laws of
moral concernment or general equity, is still obliging; whatsoever the
Jewish Church had not as Jewish, but as it was a political church, or an
ecclesiastical republic, (among which is the subordination of
ecclesiastical courts to be reckoned,) doth belong to the Christian
Church: that all judgments were to be determined by an high-priest, was
typical of Christ's supremacy in judicature; but that there were gradual
judicatories for the ease of an oppressed or grieved party, there can be
no ceremony or type in this. This was not learned by Moses in the
pattern of the Mount, but was taught by the light of nature to Jethro,
Exod. xviii. 22, and by him given in advice to Moses. This did not
belong unto the peculiar dispensation of the Jews, but unto the good
order of the church.

To conclude our answer to this exception, if the benefit of appeals be
not as free to us as to the Jews, the yoke of the gospel should be more
intolerable than the yoke of the law; the poor afflicted Christian might
groan and cry under an unjust and tyrannical eldership, and no
ecclesiastical judicatory to relieve him; whereas the poor oppressed Jew
might appeal to the Sanhedrin: certainly this is contrary to that
prophecy of Christ, Psal. lxxii. 12, 14.

_Argum_. III. A third argument to prove the subordination of particular
congregations, is taken from the institution of our Saviour Christ, of
gradual appeals, Matt, xviii. 17, 18, where our Saviour hath appointed a
particular member of a church (if scandalous) to be gradually dealt
withal; first to be reproved in private, then to be admonished before
two or three witnesses, and last of all to be complained of to the
church: whence we thus argue:

If Christ hath instituted that the offence of an obstinate brother
should be complained of to the church; then much more is it intended
that the obstinacy of a great number, suppose of a whole church, should
be brought before a higher assembly: but the former is true, therefore
the latter. The consequence, wherein the strength of the argument lies,
is proved several ways.

1. From the rule of proportion: by what proportion one or two are
subject to a particular church, by the same proportion is that church
subject to a provincial or a national assembly; and by the same
proportion that one congregation is governed by the particular eldership
representing it, by the same proportion are ten or twelve congregations
governed by a classical presbytery representing them all.

2. From the sufficiency of that remedy that Christ here prescribes for
those emergent exigencies under which the Church may lie; since,
therefore, offences may as well arise between two persons in the same
congregation, Christ hath appointed that particular congregations, as
well as members, shall have liberty to complain and appeal to a more
general judgment for redress: the salve here prescribed by Christ is
equal to the sore; if the sore of scandal may overspread whole churches,
as well as particular persons, then certainly the salve of appeals and
subordination is here also appointed. If a man be scandalized by the
neighbor-church, to whom shall he complain? The church offending must
not be both judge and party.

3. From that ecclesiastical communion that is between churches and
churches in one and the same province or nation, whereby churches are
joined and united together in doctrine and discipline into one body, as
well as divers particular persons in a particular congregation; since,
therefore, scandals may be committed among them that are in that holy
communion one with another, most unworthy of and destructive to that
sacred league, certainly those scandals should be redressed by a
superior judicatory, as well as offences between brother and brother.

4. He that careth for a part of a church must much more care for the
whole; he whose love extends itself to regard the conversion of one, is
certainly very careful of the spiritual welfare of many, the edification
of a whole church; the influence of Christ's love being poured upon the
whole body, bride and spouse, by order of nature, before it redound to
the benefit of a finger or toe, viz. some one single person or other.
Nor are the exceptions against this institution of gradual appeals of
any moment.

The grand one, and that makes directly against our position is, that our
Saviour would have the controversy between brother and brother to be
terminated in a peculiar church, and that its judgment should be
ultimately requested, he saith, _Tell the church_, not churches. The
subordination here appointed by Christ is of fewer to more, but still
within the same church, not without it. To which we answer, our Saviour
means not by church only one single particular congregation, but also
several, combined in their officers, as appears by these following

1. A particular church in sundry cases cannot decide the difference, or
heal the distemper our Saviour prescribes against; as when a particular
church is divided into two parts, both in opposition one to the other;
or when one church is at variance with another; if Christ here limits
only to a particular church, how shall such distempers be remedied?

2. When Christ bids _tell the church_, he speaks in allusion to the
Jewish Church, which was represented not only by parts in the single
synagogue or congregation, but wholly in their sanhedrin, consisting of
select persons, appointed by God, for deciding controversies incident to
their particular congregations, and their members. So that we may thus
reason: the subordination here established by Christ is so far to be
extended in the Christian Church, as in the Church of the Jews, for
Christ alludeth to the Jewish practice; but in the Jewish Church there
was a subordination of fewer to more, not only within the same synagogue
or congregation, but within the whole nation, for all synagogues were
under the great council at Jerusalem. Now that Christ gives here the
same rule that was of old given to the Jews for church government, is
clear, 1. From the censure of the obstinate, who was to be reputed a
heathen and a publican; wherein is a manifest allusion to the present
estate of the Church of the Jews; and, 2. From the familiarity and
plainness of Christ's speech, _Tell the church_, which church could not
have been understood by the disciples had not Christ spoken of the
Jewish judicatory; besides which they knew none for such offences as
Christ spake of to them, there being no particular church which had
given its name to Christ: as also, 3. From his citing the words of that
text, Deut. xix. 15, where the witnesses and offenders were, by way of
further appeal, to stand before the Lord, before the priests for
judgment, ver. 17.

3. It is plain that our Saviour intended a liberty of going beyond a
particular congregation for determining cases of controversy, from the
reason of that subordination which Christ enjoins, of one to two or
three, and of them to the church. The reason of that gradual progress
there set down, was because in the increase of numbers and greatness of
assemblies, more wisdom, judgment, and gravity is supposed to be, than
in the admonitions of a few and smaller number; now, then, this power of
right admonition increaseth with the number of admonishers, as well
without as within the same congregation; if ten go beyond two in wisdom
and gravity, forty will go beyond ten, and be more likely to win upon
the offender, and regain him.

_Argum_. IV. A fourth argument is taken from the pattern of the
apostolical churches, Acts xv.

The church of Antioch (though presbyterial, as was proved Chapter XIII.,
Position II.) was subordinate to the synod at Jerusalem; therefore a
particular church is subordinate to higher assemblies, &c.

If a synodal decree did bind them in those times, then may it bind
particular churches now, and these ought even still to be subject to

The consequence is undeniable, unless we hold that what the synod there
imposed was unjust, or that we have now less need of those remedies than
they had; nay, since the apostles (who were assisted with an
extraordinary spirit of inspiration) would nevertheless in a doubtful
business have synodal conventions for determining of controversies, much
more ought we to do so whose gifts are far inferior to theirs; and
unless it had been in their determination to leave us their example of a
synodal way of church government for our pattern, they had not wanted
the meeting together of so many with them for decision of the doubt,
whose doctrine was infallible, and of itself, without an assembly, to be

The exceptions against this pattern of church polity are of no validity,

1. This was no synod. First, that it was no synod appears, in that we
read of no word of a synod. Secondly, no commissioners from Syria and
Cilicia, which churches should have sent their delegates, had they been
a synod, and had their decrees been to have bound in a synodal way.
Thirdly, all the believers had voices here.

2. If it were a synod, yet it is no pattern for us, in regard it was
consisting of members guided by an infallible and apostolical spirit.

We answer, 1. Here is the thing synod, though not the word, which is a
meeting consisting of the deputies of many single churches.

2. That Jerusalem and Antioch had their commissioners there, is evident;
and by consequence many single churches had their commissioners, for
there were many single congregations at Jerusalem and Antioch, as hath
been proved, Chapter XIII., Position II.; that these met together, the
word used, verse 6, _they came together_, evidenceth, and verse 25. For
the churches of Syria and Cilicia not sending their commissioners, it
follows not that because _they are not named_, therefore _they were not
there_; and if _they were not there_, therefore _they ought not to have
been_: but it is rather thought Syria and Cilicia had commissioners
there, in regard the synodal decrees are directed to them as well as
others, and the decrees bound them, which they could not do as formal
Scripture; for the words, _it seemeth good to us_, and their submitting
the matter to disputation, argue the contrary; therefore as synodal
decrees, which inasmuch as they bound those churches, they either were
present, or were obliged to be present by their commissioners.

3. To that exception, that the multitude of believers had voices there,
and therefore it is not one of our synods, ver. 22--

We answer, it can nowise be proved that every particular believer had a
suffrage in the assembly.

Eminent divines[116] understand by _multitude_ and _church_, the
multitude and whole church of apostles and elders, who are said to be
_gathered together_, verse 6, _to consider of the matter_; besides which
no other multitude is said to be gathered together, while the matter was
in debate; yet we shall not deny even to other members the liberty of
their consent and approbation, and freedom to examine all determinations
by the rule of God's word: but the ordaining and forming those decrees
is here evinced to be by the apostles and elders, when as they are
called _their decrees_, Acts xvi. 4,6.

3. Those only had definitive votes, who met together synodically to
consider of the question; but they were only the apostles and elders,
Acts xv. 6. That the epistle is sent in the name of all, is granted;
because it was sent by common consent, and withal thereby was added some
more weight to the message.

4. Further, if the believers of Jerusalem voted in that assembly, by
what authority was it? How could they _impose a burden_ upon, and
command decrees unto the churches of Syria and Cilicia, and other
churches, who, according to our brethren's opinion, were not only absent
in their commissioners, but independent in their power?

To the exception, that other synods may not pretend to the privileges of
that, since its decrees were indited by the Holy Ghost; and therefore no
pattern for our imitation--

_Ans_. The decrees of this assembly did oblige, as synodal decrees, not
as apostolical and canonical Scripture: this appears several ways:

1. The apostles, in framing these canons, did proceed in a way synodal
and ecclesiastical, and far different from that which they used in
dictating of Scripture, and publishing divine truths; their decrees were
brought forth by much disputation, human disquisition, but divine
oracles are published without human reasonings, from the immediate
inditing of the Spirit, 2 Pet. i. 2.

2. Besides the apostles, there were here commissioned elders and other
brethren, men of ordinary rank, not divinely and infallibly inspired.
The apostles in the penning of Scripture consult not with elders and
brethren, (as our opposites here say they did:) our brethren make
mandates of ordinary believers divine and canonical Scripture.

3. Divine writ is published only in the name of the Lord; but these in
the name of man also, "It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us," Acts
xv. 28.

4. Canonical and apostolical writing of new Scripture shall not continue
till Christ's coming, because the canon is complete, Rev. xxii. 18, 19,
&c.; but thus to decree through the assistance of the Holy Ghost, who
remaineth with the Church to the end, and to be directed by Scripture,
shall still continue. Therefore this decreeing is not as the inditing of
the Holy Scripture. The minor is clear both from Christ's promise,
"Where two or three are met together," Matt. xvii. 18-20; Matt. viii.
20; as also by the Spirit's inspiring those councils of Nice of old, and
Dort of late: Therefore the apostles here laid aside their apostolical
extraordinary power, descending to the places of ordinary pastors, to
give them examples in future ages.

To conclude, it is plain, that all the essentials in this assembly were
synodal, as whether we consider: 1. The occasion of the meeting, a
controversy; 2. The deputation of commissioners from particular
churches, for the deciding of that controversy; or 3. The convention of
those that were deputed; or 4. The discussion of the question, they
being so convened; or 5. The determination of the question so discussed;
or 6. The imposition of the thing so determined; or 7. The subjection to
the thing so imposed.

1 Tim. i. 17



[Footnote 1: This truth, that Jesus Christ is a king, and hath a kingdom
and government in his Church distinct from the kingdoms of this world,
and from the civil government, hath this commendation and character
above all other truths, that Christ himself suffered to the death for
it, and sealed it with his blood. For it may he observed from the story
of his passion, this was the only point of his accusation, which was
confessed and avouched by himself, Luke xxiii. 3; John xviii. 33, 36,
37; was most aggravated, prosecuted, and driven home by the Jews, Luke
xxiii. 2; John xix. 22, 23; was prevalent with Pilate as the cause of
condemning him to die, John xix. 12, 13, and was mentioned also in his
superscription upon his cross, John xix. 19; and although in reference
to God, and in respect of satisfaction to the Divine justice for our
sins, his death was [Greek: lytron] a price of redemption; yet in
reference to men who did persecute, accuse, and condemn him, his death
was [Greek: martyrion] a martyr's testimony to seal such a truth.--Mr.
_G. Gillespie, in his Aaron's Rod Blossoming, &c., Epist. to the

[Footnote 2: _Cent. I. lib. 2, cap._ 7, _p._ 407 _ad_ 418, _Edit. Basil.
An._ 1624. De rebus ad Gubernationem Ecclesiae pertinentibus, Apostoli
certos quosdam, Canones tradiderunt: quos ordine subjiciemus, &c.]

[Footnote 3: Directions of the Lords and Commons, &c. Aug. 19, 1645, p.

[Footnote 4: (1) The ancient discipline of the Bohemian Brethren,
published in Latin, in octavo, _Anno_ 1633, pages 99, 100.

(2) The discipline of Geneva, _Anno_ 1576, in _Art._ 1, 22, 57, 86, and

(3) The discipline of the French church at Frankfort, _Edit._ 2, in
octavo, _Anno_ 1555, _in cap. de Disciplina et Excom.,_ p. 75, and the
Ecclesiast. Discipline of the reformed churches of France, printed at
London, _Anno_ 1642, _Art._ 15, 16, and 24, p. 44. (1) The Synodal
Constitution of the Dutch churches in England, chap. 4, _Art._ 13, and
_Tit._ 1, _Art._ 2; and the Dutch churches in Belgia, (see _Harmonia
Synodorum Belgicarum_,) _cap._ 14, _Art._ 7, 11, and 15, p. 160. (5) The
reformed churches at Nassau, in Germany, as _Zeoper_ testifies, _De
Politei Eccles.,_ printed _Herborne, Anno_ 1607, in octavo, _Tit. de
Censuris Ecclesiast., Part_ 4, _Art._ 64, p. 813. (6) The discipline in
the churches constituted by the labor of _Joannes â Lasco_, entitled
_Forma ac ratio tota Ecclesiastici Miniterii, &c._, _author Joannes â
Lasco Poloniae Barone, Anno_ 1555, p. 291. (7) The discipline agreed
upon by the English exiles that fled from the _Marian_ persecution to
Frankfort, thence to Geneva, allowed by _Calvin_; entitled _Ratio ac
forma publicè orandi Deum, &c., Genevae_, 1556, _Tit. de Disciplina_, p.
68. (8) The Order of Excommunication and Public Repentance used in the
Church of Scotland, _Anno_ 1571, _Tit._ The offences that deserve public
repentance, &c., pp. 87, 88.]

[Footnote 5: See more in chap. 10, sect. 1.]

[Footnote 6: R. Park, de Polit. Eccl. 1. 2, cap. 42.]

[Footnote 7: Malcolm. Com. in loco.]

[Footnote 8: Calvin in loco.]

[Footnote 9: Chrys. wisheth--"But, O that there had not wanted one that
would have delivered diligently unto us the history of the apostles, not
only what they wrote, or what they spake, but how they behaved
themselves throughout their whole life, both what they did eat, and when
they did eat, when they sat, and whither they went, and what they did
every day, in what parts they lived, and into what house they entered,
and whither they sailed, and that would accurately have expounded all
things; so full of manifold utility are all things of theirs."--Chrys.,
Argum. in Epist. ad Philem. And elsewhere he affirmeth,--"Nor hath the
grace of the Holy Ghost without cause left unto us these histories
written, but that he may stir us up to the imitation and emulation of
such unspeakable men. For when we hear of this man's patience, of that
man's soberness, of another man's readiness to entertain strangers, and
the manifold virtue of every one, and how every one of them did shine
and become illustrious, we are stirred up to the like zeal." Chrys. in
Gen. xxx. 25. Homil. 57, in initio.]

[Footnote 10: "For this cause, therefore, the conversation of these most
excellent men is accurately related, that by imitation of them our life
may be rightly led on to that which is good."--Greg. Nyssen, lib. de
Vita Mosis, tom. i. p. 170, vid. tot. lib.]

[Footnote 11: Perkins on Matth. vi. 16. See him also on Heb. xi. 6, p.
28, in fol. col. 2, B, C, &c., and on Heb. xi. 22, p. 131, col. 2, D,
and notably on Heb. xii. 1, p. 200, col. 2, C, D, &c., and on Rev. ii.
19, p. 313, col. 1, B, and his Art of Prophesying, p. 663, col. 1 and 2.
Vide Pet. Martyr in lib. Jud. p. 2, col. 1, and in Rom. iv. 23, 24. And
Calvin in Heb. xii. 1; and in Rom. iv. 23, 24, and in 1. Pet. i. 21,

[Footnote 12: Park. de Pol. Eccl. 1. 2, c. 42.]

[Footnote 13: 2 Cor. x. 8, and xiii. 10.]

[Footnote 14: Matt. xvi. 19, and xviii. 15-18; 1 Cor. v. 4, 5; 2 Cor. x.
8, and xiii. 10.]

[Footnote 15: 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17; 1 Tim. iii. 14, 15, with all places
that mention any thing of government.]

[Footnote 16: Eph. iv. 8, 11, 12; 1 Cor. xii. 28; Matt. xxviii. 18-20;
John xx. 21-23; Matt. xvi. 19; 2 Cor. x. 8.]

[Footnote 17: Matt. xvi. 19, and xxviii. 19; John xx. 21, 23; 2 Cor. x.
8, and xiii. 10.]

[Footnote 18: Matt, xxviii. 18-20; Acts vi. 4; 2 Tim. iv. 2.]

[Footnote 19: Matt, xxviii. 18-20; 1 Cor. xi. 24.]

[Footnote 20: Matt, xviii. 15-17; Tit. iii. 19; 1 Tim. v. 20; 1 Cor. v.
4, 5, 13; 2 Cor. ii. 6: 1 Tim. i. 20; 2 Cor. ii 7, 8, &c.]

[Footnote 21: 1 Cor. iv. 1.]

[Footnote 22: 2 Cor. x. 8, and xiii. 10.]

[Footnote 23: [Greek: Ekklaesia], Acts xix. 32, 39, 40; Eph. v. 23; 1
Cor. xii. 98.]

[Footnote 24: Cameron. Praelect de Eccles. in fol. pp. 296-298.]

[Footnote 25: Who in relating such things can refrain from weeping?]

[Footnote 26: See Mr. Edwards's Antapologia, page 201, printed in anno
1644, proving this out of their own books. Especially see a little book
in 12mo. printed in anno 1646, styled a collection of certain matters,
which almost in every page pleads for Independency and Independents by
name: from which most of the Independent principles seem to be derived.]

[Footnote 27: Let not any man put off this Scripture, saying, This is in
the Old Testament, but we find no such thing in the gospel; for we find
the same thing, almost the same words used in a prophecy of the times of
the gospel, Zech. xiii. 3. In the latter end of the xii. chapter, it is
prophesied that those who pierced Christ, should _look upon him and
mourn_, &c., having a _spirit of grace and supplication_ poured upon
them, chap. xiii. 1. "There shall now be opened a fountain for sin, and
for uncleanness," ver. 3. "It shall come to pass that he that takes upon
him to prophesy, that his father and mother that begat him, shall say
unto him, Thou shalt not live, for thou speakest lies in the name of the
Lord: and his father and his mother that begat him, shall thrust him
through, when he prophesieth." You must understand this by that in
Deuteronomy. The meaning is not that his father or mother should
presently run a knife into him, but that though they begat him, yet they
should be the means to bring him to condign punishment, even the taking
away his life; these who were the instruments of his life, should now be
the instruments of his death.--Mr. Jer. Burroughs in ills Irenicum,
chap. v., Pages 19, 20, printed 1646.]

[Footnote 28: But schismatics and heretics are called evil-workers,
Phil. iii. 2; and heresy is classed among the works of the flesh, Gal.
v. 20.]

[Footnote 29: Mr. Burroughs in his _Irenicum_, c.v. page 25; printed

[Footnote 30: See this evidenced upon divers grounds in _Appollon. jus
Majest._, pp. 25, 26.]

[Footnote 31: See M.S. to A.S., pages 55-60.]

[Footnote 32: The civil magistrate is no proper church officer, as was
intimated, Part 1 c. 1., and will be further evidenced in this chapter.]

[Footnote 33: That the civil magistrate is not the vicar of Christ our
Mediator, see abundantly proved by Mr. S. Rutherford, in his Divine
Right of Church Government, &c., Ch. 27, Quest. 23, pages 595 to 647.]

[Footnote 34: The formal difference or distinction betwixt these two
powers, is fully and clearly asserted by that learned bishop, Usher, in
these words: "God, for the better settling of piety and honesty among
men, and the repressing of profaneness and other vices, hath established
two distinct powers upon earth: the one of the keys, committed to the
Church; the other of the sword, committed to the civil magistrate. That
of the keys, is ordained to work upon the inward man; having immediate
relation to the remitting or retaining of sins, John xx. 23. That of the
sword is appointed to work upon the outward man; yielding protection to
the obedient, and inflicting external punishment upon the rebellious and
disobedient. By the former, the spiritual officers of the Church of
Christ are inclinable to govern well, 1 Tim. v. 17. To _speak_, and
_exhort_, and _rebuke_ with all _authority_, Tit. ii. 15. To loose such
as are penitent, Matt. xvi. 19, and xviii. 18. To commit others to the
Lord's prison, until their amendment, or to bind them over to the
judgment of the great day, if they shall persist in their wilfulness and
obstinacy. By the other, princes have an imperious power assigned by God
unto them, for the defence of such as do well, and executing revenge and
wrath, Rom. xiii. 4, upon such as do evil, whether by death, or
banishment, or confiscation of goods, or imprisonment, Ezra vii. 26,
according to the quality of the offence.

"When St. Peter, that had the keys committed unto him, made bold to draw
the sword, he was commanded to put it up, Matt. xxvi. 52, as a weapon
that he had no authority to meddle withal. And on the other side, when
Uzziah the king would venture upon the execution of the priest's office,
it was said unto him, 'It pertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn
incense unto the Lord, but to the priests, the sons of Aaron, that are
consecrated to burn incense,' 2 Chron. xxvi. 18. Let this therefore be
our second conclusion: That the power of the sword, and of the keys, are
two distinct ordinances of God; and that the prince hath no more
authority to enter upon the execution of any part of the priest's
function, than the priest hath to intrude upon any part of the office of
the prince." In his speech delivered in the Castle-chamber at Dublin,
&c., concerning the oath of supremacy, pages 3, 4, 5. Further
differences betwixt these two powers, see in Gillespie's Aaron's Rod,
Book 2, Chap. 4.]

[Footnote 35: See this proposition for substance fully and clearly
asserted by that acute and pious author, Mr. P. Bains, in his Diocesan's
Trial, quest. 3, pages 83, 84, conclus. 3.]

[Footnote 36: See Cotton's Keys, &c., pp. 31-33, and Mr. Thomas Goodwin,
and Mr. Philip Nye, in their epistle prefixed thereunto, do own this
book as being for substance their own judgment.]

[Footnote 37: See that judicious treatise, Vindiciae Clavium, chap. III.
IV. V., pp. 33-52.]

[Footnote 38: John Cameron, Praelect. in Matt, xviii. 15, p. 149-151, in
fol, and Baine's Diocesan's Trial, the third quest, pp. 79, 80, and D.
Parcus in Matt. xviii. 15. This is fully discussed and proved by Mr.
Rutherford in his Peaceable Plea, Chap. viii. p. 85, &c.]

[Footnote 39: A difference arose betwixt two gentlemen in that church
about singing of hymns: the second gentleman was complained of to the
church by the first, and upon hearing of the whole business, and all the
words that passed between them, this second gentleman was censured by
the church, and Mr. Nye _charged sin upon him_ (that was the phrase) in
many particulars, and still at the end of every charge Mr. Nye repeated,
"this was your sin." After this censure, so solemnly done, the gentleman
censured brings in accusations against Mr. Nye, in several articles,
charging him with pride, want of charity, &c., in the manner of the
censure; and this being brought before the church, continued in debate
about half a year, three or four days in a week, and sometimes more,
before all the congregation. Divers of the members having callings to
follow, they desired to have leave to be absent. Mr. Goodwin oft
professed publicly upon these differences, If this were their church
fellowship, he would lay down his eldership; and nothing was more
commonly spoke among the members, than that certainly for matter of
discipline they were not in the right way, for that there was no way of
bringing things to an end. At last, after more than half a year's
debate, not being able to bring these differences to an end, and being
come into England, they had their last meeting about it, to agree not to
publish it abroad when they came into England, &c. Mr. Edwards's
Antapolog., pp. 36, 37.]

[Footnote 40: Mr. J. Cotton, in his Way of the Churches of Christ in New
England, chap, ii. sect. 7, p. 43.]

[Footnote 41: Were the power in the church, the church should not only
call them, but make them out of virtue and power received into herself;
then should the church have a true lordlike power in regard of her
ministers. Besides, there are many in the community of Christians
incapable of this power regularly, as women and children. Mr. P. Bain in
his Diocesan's Trial, quest. 3, conclus. 3, page 84, printed 1621.]

[Footnote 42: If spiritual and ecclesiastical power be in the church or
community of the faithful, the church doth not only call, but make
officers out of virtue and power received into herself, and then should
the church have a true lordlike power in regard of her ministers. For,
as he that will derive authority to the church, maketh himself lord of
the church, so, if the church derive authority to the ministers of
Christ, she maketh herself lady or mistress over them, in the exercise
of that lordlike authority; for, as all men know, it is the property of
the lord and master to impart authority. Did the church give power to
the pastors and teachers, she might make the sacrament and preaching
which one doth in order, no sacrament, no preaching; for it is the order
instituted of God that giveth being and efficacy to these ordinances;
and if the power of ruling, feeding, and dispensing the holy things of
God do reside in the faithful, the word and sacrament, in respect of
dispensation and efficacy, shall depend upon the order and institution
of the society. If the power of the keys be derived from the community
of the faithful, then are all officers immediately and formally servants
to the church, and must do every thing in the name of the church, rule,
feed, bind, loose, remit, and retain sins, preach and administer the
sacraments; then they must perform their office according to the
direction of the church, more or less, seldom or frequent, remiss or
diligent; for from whom are they to receive direction how to carry
themselves in their offices, but from him or them of whom they receive
their office, whose work they are to do, and from whom they must expect
reward? If their office and power be of God immediately, they must do
the duties of their place according to his designment, and unto him they
must give account; but if their power and function be from the church,
the church must give account to God, and the officers to the church,
whom she doth take to be her helpers, &c. Mr. John Ball, in his Trial of
the grounds tending to separation, chap. xii. pages 252, 253, &c.]

[Footnote 43: See Vindiciae Clavium, judiciously unmasking these new

[Footnote 44: Here understand by this phrase, (_over you in the Lord_,)
viz: Not only in the fear of the Lord, nor only in those things that
appertain to God's worship, but also according to the will, and by the
authority of the Lord Christ derived to them.]

[Footnote 45: See the Apologetical narration by the five Independents,
page 8; and Mr. Jo. Cotton, at large, asserts the divine institution of
the ruling elder. Way of the Churches of Christ, &c., chap. 2, sect. 2,
page 13-35.]

[Footnote 46: Calvin, Beza, Pareus, Pagnin.]

[Footnote 47: Arias Montan.]

[Footnote 48: Tremel. out of the Syriac; so the old Geneva translation,
and our new translation.]

[Footnote 49: Field, of the Church, book 5, chap. 26.]

[Footnote 50: Sutlive, who afterwards declared, that he was sorry with
all his heart, that ever he put pen to paper to write against Beza as he
had done, in behalf of the proud domineering prelates; and he spoke this
with great indignation.]

[Footnote 51: Mat. Sutliv. de Presbyterio, cap. 12, p. 87, edit. 1591.]

[Footnote 52: Ibid. pages 72 and 87, edit. 1591.]

[Footnote 53: Bilson's perpetual Government of Christ's Church, c. 10,
p. 136, 137, 138, printed in Ann. 1610.]

[Footnote 54: That the magistrate cannot be here meant, see fully
evidenced in Mr. Gillespie's Aaron's Rod, &c., book ii. chap. 6, pages
218-224, and also chap. 9, p. 284.]

[Footnote 55: Pareas in 1 Cor. xii. 28.]

[Footnote 56: D. Field, Of the Church, book v. chap. xxvi.]

[Footnote 57: Peter Martyr, Beza, Piscator, and Calvin.]

[Footnote 58: Calvin in 1 Pet. v. 2, 3. _Vid. etiam Jacob. Laurent.
Comment, in_ 1 Pet. v. 2, 3, _ubi fusius de hac distinctione disserit_,
p. 322, ad. 325.]

[Footnote 59: Mat. Sutliv. De Presbyterio, cap. 12, page 72 and 87:
edit. Lond., an. 1591. Bilson's Perpetual Government of Christ's Church,
chap. 10, page 141; in 4to. printed in anno 1610.]

[Footnote 60: _Vide_ Calv. in loc.]

[Footnote 61: Sutlive.]

[Footnote 62: Whitgift.]

[Footnote 63: Coleman.]

[Footnote 64: Who desire more full satisfaction touching this poor and
empty gloss, that the civil magistrate should be meant by these
governments, let them consult Mr. Gillespie's elaborate treatise, called
Aaron's Rod Blossoming, book 2, chap, 6, pp. 218 to 224.]

[Footnote 65: Bilson.]

[Footnote 66: Mr. Rutherford in his Due Right of Presbyteries, p. 145.]

[Footnote 67: Calvin, Beza, &c. on this place.]

[Footnote 68: See Gillespie's Aaron's Rod, book 2, chap. 9.]

[Footnote 69: Mr. Rutherford in his Due Rights of Presbyteries, chap. 7,
sec. 7, pages 145-147.]

[Footnote 70: Beza, Piscata, Calvin, on this verse.]

[Footnote 71: Bilson's Perpetual Government of Christ's Church, chap. x.
pages 130, 131.]

[Footnote 72: Altar. Damas. cap. xii., page 918 and page 920.]

[Footnote 73: B. King, in his Sermon on Cant. viii., Bilson in his
Perpetual Government of Christ's Church, c. x. page 132, &c.]

[Footnote 74: B. King, in his Sermon on Cant. viii., page 40.]

[Footnote 75: B. Whitgift in his Defence against Cartwright's first
Reply. This is one of D. Field's three glosses. Field, Of the Church,
lib v., chap. 26.]

[Footnote 76: Bishops that have no tolerable gift of teaching, are like
idols, their cases, or rather coffins, set up in the church's choice.
Cartwright Testam. _Annot_., in 1 Tim. v. 17.]

[Footnote 77: Altar. Damasc. chap, xii., page 919.]

[Footnote 78: Bridge, Hussey.]

[Footnote 79: Altar. Damasc. chap, xii., page 919.]

[Footnote 80: Sutlive.]

[Footnote 81: Sutlive, De Presbyterio, cap. 12, pages 72, 73.]

[Footnote 82: Bilson's Government of the Church, page 133.]

[Footnote 83: Sutlive, De Presbyterio, c. 12, pages 72, 73.]

[Footnote 84: Bilson, page 135.]

[Footnote 85: Field, Book v.]

[Footnote 86: Bilson, page 133.]

[Footnote 87: Field, Book v.]

[Footnote 88: D. Downham. See Altar. Damasc. c. xii. page 924.]

[Footnote 89: Chrysost. Homil. 15, in 1 Tim. 5, Hier. in 1 Tim. cap. 5,
Ambr. in 1 Tim. cap., Calv. in 1 Tim. cap. 5, Bullinger in 1 Tim. cap.
5, Beza in 1 Tim. 5.]

[Footnote 90: Bilson, Sutlive, and Downham.]

[Footnote 91: The London ministers have here inserted the testimonies of
these ancient writers in favor of the divine right of the office of the
ruling elder, viz. Ignatius, Purpurius, Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian,
Optatus, Ambrose, Augustine, and Isidorus; and of these three late ones,
viz. Whitaker, Thorndike, and Rivet. The amount of their testimony, when
taken together, appears to be simply this, that there have been ruling
elders, as distinct from preaching elders, in the Church of Christ from
the beginning. It is therefore judged unnecessary to give the quotations
from these authors at large.--_Editor_.]

[Footnote 92: Against the office of deacons, and the divine right
thereof, fourteen objections are answered by Mr. S. Rutherford in his
Due Right of Presbyteries, chap. 7, pages 159 to 175. To which the
reader that shall make any scruple about the deacon's office, is
referred for his further satisfaction.]

[Footnote 93: Some of our brethren in New England, observing what
confusion necessarily depends upon the government which hath been
practised there, have been forced much to search into it within this
four years, and incline to acknowledge the presbyters to be the subject
of the power without dependence upon the people. "We judge, upon mature
deliberation, that the ordinary exercise of government must be so in the
presbyters, as not to depend upon the express votes and suffrages of the
people. There hath been a convent or meeting of the ministers of these
parts, about this question at Cambridge in the Bay, and there we have
proposed our arguments, and answered theirs, and they proposed theirs,
and answered ours; and so the point is left to consideration." Mr.
Thomas Parker in his letter written from Newbury in New England,
December 17, 1643, printed 1644.]

[Footnote 94: Vid. Hen. Steph. Thes. L. Graec. in verb.]

[Footnote 95: Piscator.]

[Footnote 96: Beza.]

[Footnote 97: Zanch. in loco.]

[Footnote 98: Vid. Hen. Steph. Thes. ad verb.]

[Footnote 99: Mr. Jo. Cotton's Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, chap. vii.
in propos. 3, pages 44-46.]

[Footnote 100: See Mr. Cotton's own words in chap. XIV. at the end, in
the margin.]

[Footnote 101: See John Calvin, in 1 Cor. v. 4.]

[Footnote 102: Cameron, in Matt. xviii. 15.]

[Footnote 103: Thus Mr. Bayne remarkably expounds this text, Matt.
xviii., saying: Where first mark, that Christ doth presuppose the
authority of every particular church taken indistinctly. For it is such
a church as any brother offended may presently complain to. Therefore no
universal, or provincial, or diocesan church gathered in a council. 2.
It is not any particular church that he doth send all Christians to, for
then all Christians in the world should come to one particular church,
were it possible. He doth therefore presuppose indistinctly the very
particular church where the brother offending and offended are members.
And if they be not both of one church, the plaintiff must make his
denunciation to the church where the defendant is. 3. As Christ doth
speak it of any ordinary particular church indistinctly, so he doth by
the name of church not understand essentially all the congregation. For
then Christ should give not some, but all the members of the church to
be governors of it. 4. Christ speaketh it of such a church to whom we
may ordinarily and orderly complain; now this we cannot to the whole
multitude. 5. This church he speaketh of then doth presuppose it, as the
ordinary executioner of all discipline and censure. But the multitude
have not this execution ordinary, as all but Morelius, and such
democratical spirits, do affirm. And the reason ratifying the sentence
of the church, doth show that often the number of it is but small, "For
where two or three are gathered together in my name;" whereas the church
or congregations essentially taken for teachers and people, are
incomparably great. Neither doth Christ mean by church the chief pastor,
who is virtually as the whole church.--Mr. Bayne's Diocesan's Trial.]

[Footnote 104: Timothy received grace by the laying on of the hands of
the presbytery. For that persons must be understood here, is apparent by
the like place, when it is said, by the laying on of my hands, he noteth
a person, and so here a presbytery. 2. To take presbytery to signify the
order of priesthood, is against all lexicons, and the nature of the
Greek termination. 3. Timothy never received that order of a presbyter,
as before we have proved. 4. It cannot signify, as Greek expositors take
it, a company of bishops; for neither was that canon of three bishops
and the Metropolitan, or all the bishops in a province, in the apostle's
time; neither were these who were now called bishops, then called
presbyters, as they say, but apostles, men that had received apostolic
grace, angels, &c. Finally, it is very absurd to think of companies of
other presbyters in churches that Paul planted, but presbyteries of such
presbyters as are now distinguished from bishops, which is the grant of
our adversaries.--Bayne's Diocesan's Trial, page 82.]

[Footnote 105: See Assertion of the Government of the Church of
Scotland, Part I. Chap. 2, p. 122, &c.]

[Footnote 106: Mr. Gillespie's Aaron's Rod Blossoming, book i. chap.
iii. pages 8-38.]

[Footnote 107: Vid. Joannis Seldeni de Anno Civili, and Calendario, &c.
Dissertationem in Praefat., page 8. See also Mr. John Lightfoot's
Commentary upon the Acts, c. x. 28, pages 235-239.]

[Footnote 108: John Cameron, Praelect. in Matt. xviii. 15, page 143 ad
162, and Mr. G. Gillespie's Aaron's Rod Blossoming, &c., book i., chap.
3, page 8, &c., and book ii., chap. 9, page 294-297; and book iii.,
chapters 2-6, handling this elaborately, pages 350-423.]

[Footnote 109: Assertion, &c., part 2, chap. 3, p. 139.]

[Footnote 110: Basilius in Psal. cxv. Oecumenius in loc. Jerom.
Chrysostome, hom. 33, in Matt. Irenaeus, lib. 1, chap. 11. Salmeron.]

[Footnote 111: Euseb. Hist. Eccles. 1. 8 c. 1.]

[Footnote 112: If Cenchrea be comprehended under the church of Corinth
in this epistle, and the apostle writing to the Corinthians, wrote also
to this church, called, Rom. xvi. 1, _the church of Cenchrea_, then have
we more congregations than one at Corinth. Now, Cenchrea was a seaport
or harbor of the Corinthians. It was a place near to Corinth, on the
east of the Egean Sea. Rutherford, in his Due Right of Presbyteries,
page 462.]

[Footnote 113: Paget, Gillespie, and the four Leyden professors, unto
whose judicious and elaborate treatises, the reader is referred for more
full satisfaction against the usual cavils and exceptions that are made
against synods, and their power.]

[Footnote 114: This is the judgment of the learned Whitaker upon these
words: other lawful councils may in like manner assert "their decrees to
be the decrees of the Holy Ghost, if they shall be like to this council,
and shall keep the same rule, which in this council the apostles did
keep and follow. For if they shall decree and determine nothing but from
Scripture, (which was done in this council.) and if they shall examine
all questions by the Scripture, and shall follow the voice of the
Scriptures in all their decrees, then they may assert, that the Holy
Ghost so decreed," &c. Whitaker, Cont. page 610.]

[Footnote 115: That there is an authoritative, juridical synod; and that
this synod, Acts xv., was such a one; and that this synod is a pattern
to us;--all this is most ingenuously acknowledged and asserted by that
learned Independent, Mr. John Cotton, in these words, viz:

"IV. Proposition, in case a particular church be disturbed with errors
of scandal, and the same maintained by a faction among them. Now a synod
of churches, or of their messengers, is the first subject of that power
and authority, whereby error is judicially convinced and condemned, the
truth searched out and determined; and the way of truth and peace
declared and imposed upon the churches.

"The truth of this proposition may appear by two arguments

"_Argum_. 1. From the want of power in such a particular church, to pass
a binding sentence where error or scandal is maintained by a faction;
for the promise of binding and loosing which is made to a particular
church, Matt, xviii. 18, is not given to the church when it is leavened
with error and variance. And the ground----If then the church, or a
considerable part of it, fall into error through ignorance, or into
faction; by variance, they cannot expect the presence of Christ with
them according to his promise, to pass a blind sentence. And then as
they fall under the conviction and admonition of any other sister
church, in a way of brotherly love, by virtue of communion of churches;
so their errors and variance, and whatsoever scandals else do accompany
the same, they are justly subject to the condemnation of a synod of

"2. A second argument to prove that a synod is the first subject of
power, to determine and judge errors and variances in particular
churches, is taken from the pattern set before us in that case, Acts xv.
1-28: when certain false teachers having taught in the church of Antioch
a necessity of circumcision to salvation, and having gotten a faction to
take part with them, (as appeareth by the dissension and disputation of
Paul and Barnabas against them,) the church did not determine the case
themselves, but referred the whole matter to the _apostles and elders at
Jerusalem_, Acts xv. 1, 2. Not to the apostles alone, but to the
apostles and elders. The apostles were as the elders and rulers of all
churches; and the elders there were not a few, the believers in
Jerusalem being many thousands. Neither did the apostles determine the
matter (as hath been said) by apostolical authority from immediate
revelation: but they assembled together with the elders, _to consider of
the matter_, ver. 6, and a _multitude of brethren_ together with them,
ver. 12, 22, 23; and after searching out the cause by an ordinary means
of disputation, ver. 7, Peter cleared it by the witness Of the Spirit to
his ministry in Cornelius's family; Paul and Barnabas by the like effect
of their ministry among the Gentiles: James confirmed the same by the
testimony of the prophets, wherewith the whole synod being satisfied,
they determine of a JUDICIAL SENTENCE, and of a way to publish it by
letters and messengers; in which they CENSURE the false teachers as
troublers of their church, and subverters of their souls; they reject
the imposition of circumcision as a yoke which neither they nor their
fathers were able to bear; they IMPOSE upon the Church none but some
necessary observations, and them by way of THAT AUTHORITY which the Lord
had given them, ver. 28: which PATTERN clearly showeth us to whom the
key of authority is committed, when there groweth offence and difference
in a church. Look as in the case of the offence of a faithful brother
persisted in, the matter is at last judged and determined in a church:
so in the offence of the church or congregation, the matter is at last
judged in a congregation of churches, a church of churches; for what is
a synod else but a church of churches?"--Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven,
pages 47-49.]

[Footnote 116: Junius, Beza, Calvin, and Piscator.]


NO. 1.[117]

_Of the Scriptural Qualifications and Duties of Church Members._

_Quest_. What persons have a right in the sight of God to be actual
members of the Church of Christ?

_Ans_. Only regenerated and converted persons, such as are married to,
and have put on Christ; such as are savingly and powerfully enlightened,
quickened, and convinced of sin, righteousness, and judgment;[118] such
as have chosen Christ for their Lord and Saviour, and resigned and made
over themselves to him, and received him upon his own terms;[119] such
only as are reconciled unto, and are in favor with God; as are justified
by faith, sanctified by the Spirit, and set apart for holiness, and unto
a living to God, and no more unto themselves:[120] such as are the
beloved of God, called effectually to be saints, and have really and
sincerely taken upon them the yoke of Christ Jesus, I say such persons,
and only such, doth Jesus Christ account worthy of this privilege and
dignity.[121] Although men do not certainly know those that are such,
and by reason of their darkness and fallible judgments they may and do
admit others into the Church, and unto her privileges, yet in truth
these have no right unto them, and ought not to be there; for these
spiritual holy things are for, and only for, spiritual and holy persons.
Christ prepares men by his grace, word, and Spirit to make them fit
materials, and then he calls them to join together and become a
spiritual house, for his delight, service, and glory.[F] And therefore
holy persons, and such only, ought to be full members of the Church of

This will appear by these following particulars:

1. Because God often declares his detestation and abhorrence of others
being there, and manifests his indignation against them. As to the man
that came to the marriage supper without the wedding-garment, Matt.
xxii. 11-13; and the five foolish virgins, chap. xxv.; and the dreadful
end of the tares, chap. xiii. 38-44, which were the hypocrites, that by
the devil's instigation had crept into the Church. It is true that such
were, and will be, in the best of churches, although their guides may do
all they can to prevent it, because they cannot make an infallible
judgment of persons' states; yet it is as certain these are usurpers and
ought not to be there. For, although they are in God's providence
permitted to creep in, yet we may be sure they are not there with his
approbation:--they are not all Israel that are of Israel; for, saith God
to all uncircumcised, What have you to do to take my covenant into your
mouth, seeing you hate instruction and cast my words behind your back,
(as all hypocrites do,) Ps. l. 16, 17. And Christ says, that such as
will not have him to reign over him (and to be sure hypocrites will not)
shall be destroyed, Luke xix. 27. Now, as hypocrites are most loathsome
and abominable persons in the sight of God, as may be seen at large in
Matt, xxiii. 13-35, they have no right unto the spiritual privileges of
the Church of Christ, because, in the sight of God, the gospel Church
should consist only of new creatures and real members of Jesus Christ.

II. That all church members ought to be sincere-hearted believers
appears by the high titles which the Lord Jesus gives unto them in
Scripture: they are described to be like the king's daughter, all
glorious within. They are called saints, holy brethren, and beloved,
elect, dear children of God, the spouse of Christ, a holy temple of God,
lively stones, built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, and the
Lord's sealed ones. Now such honorable titles belong not unto mere
formal professors, but only unto the real members of Christ: not unto
those that have a name only; but to such as are so indeed and in truth.

III. A third reason is taken from the ends of God in instituting and
appointing churches. They are said to be built by the Spirit for God,
i.e. for God to dwell and walk in them, to repose himself in them, as in
his holy garden, house, and temple. They are designed for promoting his
glory in the world, to distinguish his people from others; that they
should be to the praise of his glorious grace, and be the living
witnesses to his name, truths, and ways; that they should be the
habitations of beauty and glory, of fame and renown in the world, and be
the light thereof; and that with one heart and mouth they should glorify
God. Believers are united into a church capacity for their spiritual
profit and advantage, that God may there give them his love, and
communicate his grace, truths, and counsels to them, as to his avowed
household and family Christ walks there, and God the Father dwells
there, and the Holy Spirit speaks to them in a special and frequent
manner to distribute liberally of their love and fulness. They are
formed and set up by Jesus Christ to be the only seats and subjects of
his laws, ordinances, power, and authority, that they might receive,
obey, and observe his laws, declare before the world their owning of him
for their Lord, by their open and public profession of, and subjection
unto him, as such; and that, by their regular and distinct following of
him in their united church state, they might manifest to all men, that
they are his subjects and disciples, that they have chosen him for their
Lord and King, and his law for the rule of their faith and obedience;
that they are not their own, but his; and that they have reposed
themselves in him, as their happiness and eternal blessedness; that they
are called out of the world and set apart by his grace for himself, to
live unto him; and that they have taken upon themselves his holy yoke,
and the observation of all his laws. God has united believers into
churches, that by his Spirit and ministers he may feed and nourish them
there as his flock, water them as his garden, support them as his house,
and order and govern them as his family and household.

IV. The Church of Christ should consist of new creatures and
sincere-hearted believers, because they only can and will answer and
prosecute the foresaid, and such like holy ends of God, in and by his
Church. They are fitted and framed, moulded and polished, by the Holy
Ghost, for their growing up into a holy temple in the Lord; and so, by
the constant and promised guidance and conduct of their living head
Jesus Christ, with their spiritual qualifications, they are enabled to
answer and perform the great ends of God, in erecting and building them
up in a church state. But unregenerate persons cannot do this, because
they are strangers in heart to Jesus Christ, and to the power of
godliness; nor would they if they could, because they have not the
saving knowledge of Christ in them, but are full of obstinacy against

V. Because all the laws, ordinances, and works of church members are
holy, spiritual, and heavenly. They are such as the natural man
understands not, and cannot discern what they are, because they are
spiritual and holy; and therefore they that are not taught of God
savingly to form a proper judgment of them, do think and judge of them
carnally and vainly. But believers have them written in their hearts
beforehand. Yet they have them not without book, I mean they have the
same laws of Christ written in the books of their hearts which they find
in the Bible, by which they are in some measure enabled to understand,
receive, love, and rightly to obey, the laws and ordinances of Christ
without. Their laws are holy and spiritual, and their works in a church
state are so likewise. They have a holy God, who is a Spirit, to serve
and worship; a spiritual Head to believe in and obey; holy and spiritual
work to do; and therefore they need to be holy and spiritual persons,
not only externally in profession, but also internally, in truth. Almost
all the laws and ordinances of Christ are committed unto them, and God
expects his principal and choicest worship from his Church; and these
are all above and beyond the reach of carnal minds.

VI. The Church ought to be composed of believers and regenerated
persons, because they are called to continue and stand fast in all
storms and tempests; and to hold out unto the end, as being built upon
the rock Jesus Christ. For whatever church is built upon the sand, and
not upon the Lord Jesus, and by the authority of his word and Spirit,
will not stand long, because it wants a foundation to bear up its
weight. They must all be built upon the rock and chief corner-stone, the
sure foundation that God hath laid. The Lord Jesus tells us, Matt. xvi.
18, that upon this rock (i.e. himself and the truths that Peter had
confessed) will I build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not
prevail against it. But it is certain that hypocrites are not built upon
Christ by faith, but fix their vain hopes on a sandy foundation.
Therefore, if their persons are not built upon Christ, their church
state cannot; but upon the sand. Hence then it follows that only true
believers are built on Christ, and so they are the only persons that
Christ wishes to have built up into holy temples; because the churches
that Christ builds shall be built upon himself, that they may stand
impregnable against all opposition: and therefore they should only be
composed of such as are united to him by faith, and have chosen him for
their only rock and foundation, and not of such as do secretly reject

_Quest_. What qualifications should believers find in themselves for
their own satisfaction, before they enter into full communion with the
visible Church of Christ?

_Ans_. They should be able to answer the following questions in the

I. Can you say indeed that you do seriously and heartily desire to see,
and to be more deeply and powerfully convinced of your own vileness and
sinfulness, of your own weakness and wretchedness, and of your wants and
unworthiness? and that, in order to your deep and spiritual humiliation
and self-debasing, that you may be more vile in your own eyes, and Jesus
Christ and free grace more precious and excellent, more high and
honorable, and more sweet and desirable, that your hearts may be melted
into godly sorrow, and that you may be moved thereby to abhor
yourselves, and to repent in dust and ashes? Job xlii. 5, 6.

II. Can you say that you do seriously and heartily desire and endeavor
to believe in Christ, and to receive and accept of him in the gospel
way, such as you find in Mark viii. 34; Luke xiv. 26-28, and elsewhere?
Do you thus desire and choose to have him with his yoke and cross? Matt.
xi. 28, 29. And do you so deny yourselves, and your sinful self,
righteous self, worldly self, supposed able, powerful self, and every
other carnal and spiritual self, that Christ only may be exalted, that
you may be nothing in your justification and salvation, but that Jesus
Christ and free grace may be all, and in all things? Col. iii. 11; Phil.
iii. 7, 8. Do you desire, choose, and endeavor to have Christ on the
hardest terms; and do you desire, that all may go for Christ's person,
blood, and righteousness, his grace, love, life, and Spirit, for the
pardon of your sins, and the justification of your persons, that you may
be found in him, not having your own righteousness, but the
righteousness of Christ by faith? Phil. iii. 9. And do you go and
present yourselves as destitute condemned sinners to him, and to God the
Father in and by him, that you may be clothed with the righteousness of
Christ, and that God may pardon, justify, and accept you for his sake

III. Do you seriously and heartily desire and choose to have Christ
Jesus for your Lord and Ruler too, Col. ii. 6; that he may rule in you,
and over you, and that your lusts and yourselves, your interests, and
your all, may be subject unto him, and be wholly at his command and
disposal continually? Is Christ the Lord as acceptable to you as Christ
Jesus the Saviour? and are you willing to obey him, and to be subject to
his authority and dominion, as well as to be saved by him? Would you
have him to destroy your lusts, to make an end of sin, and to bring all
under his obedience?

IV. Do you seriously and heartily desire and endeavor never to sin more;
but to walk with God unto all well-pleasing continually? Col. i. 10. And
do you pray earnestly that God would work in you that which is
well-pleasing in his sight, Heb. xiii. 21, that you may in all your ways
honor and glorify him, as the end of your living in this world? 2 Cor.
v. 15. Would you indeed live to the praise of his glorious grace, be an
ornament unto his name and gospel, and be fruitful in every good word
and work? Are these things the scope, aim, and intent of your hearts and
souls (in some good measure and degree) daily, in duties and ordinances,
and at other times?

V. Do you seriously and heartily choose and desire communion with
Christ, and in truth endeavor to obtain and keep it? Do you so seek for
it in the way of gospel obedience, and in observing your duty in keeping
Christ's commandments? And do you prefer it to all earthly, carnal
things? Do your hearts breathe and pant after it, and are you willing to
deny self, and all self-interests to get it? Are you glad when you find
it, and sad when by your own carelessness you lose it? Doth it when
obtained quicken your love to and zeal for Christ? Doth it warm your
hearts, and cause them for a time to run your race in gospel obedience
cheerfully? Doth it lead you unto, and cause your hearts to centre in
Christ? and doth it oblige and bind them faster unto him and stir you up
to thankfulness?

VI. Do you sincerely and heartily desire, seriously choose, and
earnestly endeavor, to be filled with gospel sincerity towards God and
man, and would you rather be true-hearted towards God than seem to be so
towards man? Would you much rather have the praise of God, and be
approved of by him, than the praise of men, and be extolled by them? Is
it the great thing you aim at, in your profession and practice, to
attain sincerity and uprightness in heart? Is all hypocrisy hateful and
abominable unto you? Are you afraid of it, and do you watch and strive
against it, as against an enemy to God and your own souls, and are you
grieved indeed when you find it in you?

VII. Do you desire and choose Jesus Christ for the great object of your
love, delight, and joy? and do you find him to be so in some measure? Do
you desire and endeavor to make him the object of your warmest
affections, and to love him sincerely, heartily, spiritually, fervently,
and constantly; and do you express your love to him by keeping his
commandments? Are you grieved in spirit, because you can love him no
more? and do you earnestly pray unto him to shed abroad his love into
your hearts by the Holy Ghost, that you may love him as ye ought? Rom.
v. 5. Doth his love and loveliness attract your hearts to him, and cause
you to yield the obedience of faith to his holy laws?

VIII. Is it the desire, choice, and endeavor of your souls to have all
sins purged out of them, and to have them filled with Christ's grace,
truth, and holiness; and do you hate your sin, watch and fight against
it, and endeavor to keep it under? Do you indeed aim at, desire, labor,
and strive, to be holy in heart and life, and conformable unto Jesus
Christ in all things possible? Are your lusts your heaviest burdens and
your greatest afflictions, and do you intend and endeavor their utter
ruin and destruction? Will no degree of grace satisfy you until you be
perfect to the utmost as Christ is? Are you so much concerned for
Christ's honor, and your soul's holiness and happiness, that you dare
not knowingly sin against them for a world; or do, in word or deed, by
omission or commission, that which may dishonor, grieve, or wound them?
Are these things so indeed?

IX. Have you a measure of spiritual knowledge and discerning of
spiritual things? Do you understand the nature and concerns of the house
of God, and the work and duties, the privileges and enjoyments thereof,
and what you have to do there; together with the ends of God in
instituting and erecting gospel churches?

X. Do you intend and resolve, in the light, life, and power of Christ,
to seek for, and endeavor unfeignedly to obtain, and prosecute the ends
of church fellowship, when you shall he accepted among them? and do you
desire and aim at the holy ends appointed by God in desiring communion
with them? as, 1. To enjoy God and communion with him in all his
ordinances. 2. To worship God there in spirit and truth, and to give him
your homage and service in his house. 3. To show your subjection and
obedience to him, and to make a public and open profession of him, and
of his truths before men. 4. To receive of his grace, to enrich your
souls with his fulness, and to be sealed by his Spirit unto the day of
your redemption. 5. That you may walk orderly and beautifully, and shine
as lights in the Church, and in the world, before saints and sinners. 6.
That you may be established in the truth, live under the watch and care
of Christ's ministers, and of fellow-members; that by their inspection
and faithful dealings with you you may be kept, or brought back from sin
to God, by their wise reproofs and holy instructions. 7. That you may
yield up yourselves in holy obedience to Christ, and do all things
whatsoever he commands you, that you may have the right use and
enjoyment of all your purchased privileges, and be secured against the
gates of hell. Are these and such like ends in your hearts and minds, in
your walk and in church fellowship, and can you find the forementioned
signs of grace in you in some suitable measure, though not so clearly
and fully as you would wish? Then I may venture to assure you, that you
are qualified for being actual members of the Church of Christ, that you
are called and invited into his house, and that you are indispensably
bound to answer to the call of God, and to enter into his holy temple.

I say that church privileges are yours, the doors of God's house stand
open for you, Christ stands at the door and waits for you, he invites
you to come in and to sit down at his table, and you shall be most
freely and heartily welcome to your Lord, and to his people.

_Quest_. What are those qualifications, which the rulers of a church,
for their own satisfaction, should look for, and find in such persons,
as they admit into full communion with the Church of Christ?

_Ans_. It is certain that all that profess the name of Christ and his
ways, ought not, and may not be admitted into the Lord's holy temple,
because many, if not the most of them, are very ignorant of Christ and
his ways, and notoriously scandalous in their lives, as sad and woful
experience shows. If church rulers should admit known hypocrites, they
betray their trust, and defile Christ's holy temple, by taking in such
persons as they know, or ought to know, he would not have there: and
that they ought to try and prove persons, that they may know their
fitness, before they admit them in, is clear in Acts ix. 26, 27, and
because Christ hath committed the keys of his house to take in and
exclude according to his will and appointment.

As to satisfying qualifications in persons desiring admission into the
church, when they appear to be real sound-hearted believers, according
to the judgment of charity, by the rules of the word, the church ought
to receive them in the Lord.

I. If they can satisfy the church, by giving Scripture evidence of their
regeneration, conversion, repentance, and faith in Christ; of their
knowledge of Christ, his laws and ordinances; of their lost and
perishing state by reason of sin, and of their sincere desires and
resolutions to become the Lord's, and to walk with him unto all
well-pleasing in all his ways.

II. If they are sound in the faith of the gospel; I mean in the chief
and principal doctrines thereof, although they may be ignorant of, or
mistaken in matters of less importance. If they have some distinct
knowledge and faith concerning these, and other such truths and matters
contained in the word of God; as of the state and condition in which man
was at first created; how he lost that holy and blessed estate, and the
misery into which he brought himself and all his posterity thereby.
Concerning themselves, that they are by nature children of wrath, dead
in trespasses and sins, and condemned to eternal death; that they are
enemies to, and at enmity with, God; that they have neither will nor
power by nature to will and to do that which they ought, and which is
well-pleasing to God; that they have forsaken God, and are under the
curse of the law; and that they are the children, subjects, and servants
of the devil, the world, and their own lusts; that God left not all men
in this lost state and condition, but provided an all-sufficient remedy,
namely, Jesus Christ, and that by an everlasting covenant, entered into
with him, in the behalf of men, before the foundation of the world, Tit.
i. 2; 2 Tim. i. 9; Prov. viii.: and that, in pursuance thereof, he
elected and gave some to Christ, that he might save them out of his mere
grace and love. John vi. 37, 40:--That God the Father gave and sent his
Son, the second person of the Trinity, to mediate peace between God
and man, and to reconcile them to God, by his active and passive
obedience;--that Jesus Christ gave himself, and became a propitiation
for their sins;--that he assumed our nature into a personal union with
himself, whereby there are two natures in one person, by which he was
made capable of his mediatorship;--that he, being God and man in one
person, took upon himself our guilt and punishment, obeyed the whole law
of God, that men had broke, and did always the things that pleased
God;--that, when he had finished his active obedience, he became
obedient unto the death of the cross, to the wrath of God, and to the
curse of the law, Gal. iii. 13; Phil. ii. 8;--that he really died and
was buried, lay in the grave, and rose again the third day; and after
forty days he ascended into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of
God; and that he will come again to judge the quick and the dead;--that
he is king, priest, and prophet; a king to give laws unto men, and to
command their obedience to him, to rule and govern his subjects, and to
reward the obedient, and to punish the disobedient;--that all power in
heaven and earth is committed unto him; and that he is coequally and
coeternally God with the Father and Holy Spirit;--that as a High Priest
he died and made atonement for the sins of his people, and sits in
heaven to make intercession, and to appear in the presence of God for
them, Heb. vii. 25, and ix. 24;--that there are three persons in the
Godhead, yet but one God;--that the Holy Ghost is eternally God, was
sent into the world, and came from the Father and Son, for the elect's
sake;--that it is he that regenerates persons, works effectually in
their hearts, applies Jesus Christ and all his benefits to men, and
savingly convinces his elect of sin, righteousness, and judgment. That
all that rightly believe in Christ shall be saved, but those that
believe not shall be damned; and that all that believe in him must be
careful to perform good works. That believers are made righteous,
through the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and that they have none of
their own to commend them unto God. That God hath made Jesus Christ unto
his chosen, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; and
that they are made the righteousness of God in him. That God imputed
their sins to Christ, and imputes the blood and righteousness of Christ
to them; and that they are justified thereby, and not by inherent
holiness and righteousness. That God loves, pardons, justifies, and
saves men _freely_, without any respect unto their good works, as any
cause thereof; but that all the moving cause (without himself) is Jesus
Christ in his mediation. That the ground and reason of their obedience,
in performing good works, is the revealed will and pleasure of Christ
commanding them, and the ends of them are to express their thankfulness
to God for his grace and love, to please and honor him, to meet with
God, and to enjoy communion with him, to receive of his grace and the
good of many promises; to shine as lights in the world, and to be useful
unto men; to declare whose and what they are, and to lay up a reward in
another world; to keep their lusts under, and their graces in use and
exercise; and to manifest their respect and subjection to Jesus Christ,
his authority, and law. That the law, for the matter of it, as in the
hand of Christ, is the rule of all obedience; and that all are bound to
yield subjection to it. That there shall be a resurrection of the just
and unjust. That regeneration is absolutely necessary to salvation, and
that without it none can enter into the kingdom of heaven. That the
Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments contain, and exhibit unto men,
the whole revealed will of God, and are sufficient to make the man of
God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work; and that
whatsoever they are to believe and do is contained therein; and that it
is the ground of their faith, hope, and practice. That Jesus Christ hath
instituted and appointed many ordinances of worship, for his own glory
and his people's good, and that all are bound to observe and to wait on
God in them. That all persons are indispensably bound to mind, and
carefully to observe the principal manner and end of all their duties,
and to see that they be right, holy, and spiritual indeed, and not to
please themselves with the matter of them alone. That no man can serve
God, or do any work acceptable unto him, until he be regenerated, and
brought into a state of grace.

These are some of the matters of faith that they should in some measure
be acquainted with and believe, that are admitted into full communion
with the Church of Christ. And these and other truths must not be known
and believed in a general, notional, light, and speculative manner; but
heartily, powerfully, and particularly: not for others, but for
themselves; otherwise their faith and knowledge will no way profit their
souls to salvation.

III. They must be qualified also with a blameless conversation. Their
conversation must be as becometh the gospel, otherwise they are not meet
for communion with the gospel church. Carnal walking will not suit
spiritual temples: for they will greatly pollute and defile them, and
stain and obscure their beauty and glory. Therefore they must not be
brawlers and contentious persons, covetous and worldly-minded, vain and
frothy. They must not be froward and peevish, nor defraud others of
their right. Nor must they neglect the worship of God in their families,
nor be careless in governing and educating them in good manners, and in
the things of God. They must not be such as are known to omit the
duties and ordinances of religion in their proper seasons, or to have
vicious families through their neglect: nor to have any other kind of
conversation hateful to God and to his people. And therefore, whatever
their profession be, they may not be admitted into the Church of God,
until they have repented of these, or any other scandal in their life
and conduct.

IV. They ought to be such as have chosen the Lord Jesus Christ for their
king and head, and dedicated and devoted themselves to him, to live in
him and for him: such as have singled him out, and set him apart, (as it
were,) to be the object of their love, trust, and delight, of their
service and obedience. They must have chosen and closed with him upon
his own terms, (i.e. _freely_,) renouncing and rejecting all their own
righteousness, worthiness, interest, and sufficiency, and choosing and
appropriating him to themselves, for their righteousness, worthiness,
portion, and sufficiency, under a sight and conviction of their own
emptiness and deformity; and with a heart-satisfied persuasion of the
loveliness and fulness of Christ.

V. All this must be done seriously, humbly, and heartily, so far as men
can judge. If persons declare their knowledge of God and faith in Christ
in such a manner, and apparently by such a spirit as evidences some
sense and feeling of what they do declare, church rulers may be much
helped in forming a right judgment of them, that they are fitted by God
for church-membership. If they do seriously profess, that what they do
is in obedience to the will, and, as they judge, to the call of Christ
as their indispensable duty;--that they join in church fellowship to
meet with and enjoy God, to receive out of his fulness to enable them to
perform all duties, and to conform their hearts and lives in his will to
all things;--such persons may undoubtedly be accounted worthy members,
and admitted as such.

_Quest_. What are the duties of church members towards one another?

_Ans_. I. The greatest is love; love and spiritual affections are the
holy cords which tie the hearts, souls, and judgments of believers
together. This is that which, together with the fear of God, makes them
avoid all things that may give just offence or grief to one another, and
that which provokes them to follow after the things that make for peace
and edification. Love is the bond of peace. It is that which, together
with divine light and truth, causes church members to draw together as
in one yoke, and unanimously as with one heart and soul to design, aim
at, and carry on mutual and common good in the church. Without this they
cannot, they will not cement, nor long abide and live together as a
church, in peace and unity, nor promote any good work among themselves.
Without heart-uniting love they will receive and entertain jealousies
and suspicions one of another, and put the worst construction on
whatever is said or done; and they cannot walk together comfortably and
profitably when these are entertained. Therefore it is absolutely
necessary for all church members to be firmly united in cordial love and
charity, which is the bond of perfectness to and in all other duties.
God highly commends and strictly commands this love one to another, and
puts it into the heart of his peculiar people, that they may do what he

1. God highly commends it wherever he finds it in act and exercise; 1
Thess. iv. 10, "and indeed," says he, "ye do it towards all the
brethren." To this duty, and to manifest his high approbation of it, God
hath promised a great reward, Heb. vi. 10.

2. God commands it and vehemently exhorts to it often in the gospel. Oh
how importunately did the Lord Jesus enjoin it, and frequently press it
on his disciples when he was on earth! John xiii. 34, "A new commandment
give I unto you." What is that new commandment? Why, "That ye love one
another, as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." And in
John xv. 12, 17, "This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I
have loved you;" i.e. Take the pattern of my love to you for your
pattern in loving one another. I have loved and will love you--1. With
_great_ love, John xv. 13: so do you likewise. 2. My love to you is
_free_, without any desert in you: let yours be free, without carnal
respects one to another also. 3. My love to you is _real, hearty_, and
_unfeigned_: so let yours be one to another, 1 Pet. i. 22. 4. My love to
you is an exceeding _fruitful love_. I loved you so, as to labor, toil,
sweat, and die for you: so must you love one another with a fruitful,
profiting love. 5. My love to you is a _pitying, sparing, and forgiving
love; a forbearing and tender-hearted love_: so must you be to one
another, Col. iii. 12, 13. 6. I love you with a _warm and fervent love_:
so do you love one another. 7. I love with a _holy, spiritual love_, as
new men who have my image stamped on, and my holy nature in you, and as
you are made perfect by the comeliness and beauty I have put on you: so
do you love one another, because you are a lovely and holy people unto
me. 8. I love you with a _constant and unchangeable love_;
notwithstanding of all your weaknesses, yea, unkindness too, and
unworthy walkings before me: thus you are bound to love one another.

O that church members and all other Christians would seriously,
sincerely, diligently, and constantly mind and practise this grand and
indispensable duty to one another, in all their ways and actions, and
not lay it aside as a little, useless, or indifferent matter, which they
may neglect at their own will and pleasure.

2. As we are indispensably bound to love one another; so we are as
absolutely and perfectly bound to walk in a loving and encouraging
manner towards one another. Our behavior ought to be such in all things,
as to invite all to love us, as holy, humble, and blameless saints, and
brethren in Christ. The Lord Jesus expects church members to walk
lovingly towards one another, as well as to love one another. They
ought, therefore, as much as possible, to provoke and encourage each
other, and to remove out of the way of love all such stumbling-blocks as
may any way hinder it, as we cannot love a sour, peevish, contentious,
and cross-grained professor, with as much complacency as a meek, quiet,
humble, affable, and courteous one.

3. Christ hath charged and strictly commanded all church members to live
in peace: to be at peace among themselves; to follow peace with all men,
and as much as in them lieth to live peaceably with all men. O how
often, and with what vehemency doth the Holy Ghost press and enjoin this
duty, especially among church members, in the Holy Scriptures! See Psal.
xxxiv. 14; 1 Pet. iii. 11; Rom xiv. 19; 2 Cor. xiii. 11; 1 Thess. v. 13;
Heb. xii. 14; Eph. v. 3. The apostle Paul earnestly warns church members
against all debates, strifes, and contentions one with another,
especially in their church meetings, Phil. ii. 3. David tells us, that
it is a most pleasant and lovely thing for brethren to dwell together in
unity, Psal. cxxxiii. 1, 2. Then how much more pleasant and lovely is it
for spiritual brethren to love and worship God in this manner together
Christ came into the world and lived here a peace-maker, and pronounces
them blessed that are so, Matt. v. 9. He is a lover of peace and
concord, especially in his Church; but he is an implacable hater of
strife and discord, and will not endure it therein: much less will he
wink at such as are the first sowers of these seeds. The truth is,
strivers and disputers in a church are the devil's agents, do a great
deal of mischief to it, and are real plagues in it. They greatly hinder
edification, and spoil the order, beauty, and harmony there: they are
the proud, self-conceited men, who are vainly puffed up with high
thoughts of themselves, and their own abilities, because they have got
some speculative knowledge into their heads, with a volubility of
speech, while they are destitute of spiritual wisdom and humility in
their hearts; and therefore they conceive that they are wiser than the
church, and more able to manage and order church affairs than their
rulers. Their pride and self-conceit make them slight and contemn their
teachers, and rise up in a rebellious contention with, and opposition
unto them; as the prophet complains, Hos. iv. 4, _This people are they
that strive with the priests_. Take heed then of strife and contention,
and follow peace one with another, especially in your assembling
together about the work of the church. Endeavor to get humble hearts,
and then you will not be contentious, but quiet and peaceable.

4. Church members ought to sympathize with, and to help to bear one
another's burdens as need requires, Rom. xii. 15, 16; Gal. vi. 2. They
ought to make their brethren's crosses, losses, temptations, and
afflictions their own. And, when they need the helping hand of
fellow-members to support or lift them up, when fallen, they must give
it to them freely, readily, and cheerfully, and not turn a deaf ear to,
nor hide their eyes from, them and their cries. And, if they are cruel
to, or careless of, one another in affliction, our Lord Jesus will
require it at their hands, and lake it as done to himself. Therefore,
seeing it is the will of God, and our indispensable duty to one another,
who are members of the church, let us put on bowels of mercies and
kindness, Col. iii. 12, and be tender-hearted, pitiful, and courteous to
each other, Eph. iv. 32; 1 Pet. iii. 8.

5. Church members ought to exhort and comfort one another, for so is the
will of God concerning them. This is not only their teacher's duty and
work, but theirs also to each other, Heb. x. 24, 25; Heb. iii. 13; 1
Thess. v. 14. Christians stand in continual need of one another's
exhortations and consolations; and if they manage this work well they
may be very useful and profitable to one another, and may help to
awaken, quicken, and provoke one another, to the love and practice of

6. It is the will of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Church's head, that her
members should be each other's keepers; that they should watch over one
another, and admonish and reprove one another, as need requires. It is
not meant, that they should pry into one another's secrets, or be
busybodies in other men's matters, but that they should watch over one
another's life and conversation, that if they do well they may be
encouraged; if ill, that they may, by counsel, reproof, instruction, and
exhortation, be brought to a real sight and sense of their misconduct,
and to unfeigned repentance. By which good work, you will do them, the
church, yea, Christ himself, good and acceptable service. Church members
should carefully observe, if all do keep close to their duty in the
church, or are remiss and negligent;--if they conduct themselves in a
holy, righteous, and sober way; or if, on the contrary, they are frothy,
vain, proud, extravagant, unjust, idle, careless, or any way scandalous.
They should strictly observe if there be any tattlers, backbiters, or
sowers of discord; or such as speak contemptibly of their brethren,
especially of their elders, (ruling or preaching,) and of their
administrations: as also, if there be any such as combine together, and
make parties in the church, or endeavor to obstruct any good work which
their elders are carrying on, for promoting the glory of Christ and the
good of his people, and deal with them accordingly. They ought carefully
to observe if any be fallen under sin or temptation in any case, and
presently to set their hands to help, to relieve, and to restore them,
Rev. vi. 1. They must watch, and endeavor to gain a sinning member, 1.
By their private admonition, in case the offence be private; and if that
will not do, to take one or two more to see what effect that will have.
2. But if that will not answer the end, then they are bound to bring it
to the church representative, that they may deal with the offending
brother, and proceed against him as commanded: This is another great and
indispensable duty required of church members, that they be not
partakers of other men's sins.

7. Church members ought to forbear and forgive one another; for this is
another commanded duty, Eph. iv. 2, 32; Col. iii. 13. When a brother
offends or does another any injury, the offended brother should tell him
of it, examine the matter and search out the circumstances of it, and
see whether he did it unadvisedly, through weakness or ignorance; or
whether he did it wilfully and knowingly. If upon an impartial search he
is found to have wronged his brother through ignorance or weakness, he
must judge charitably of him, and not be harsh and severe towards him,
in his carriage or censure. But if it clearly appear, upon impartial
inquiry, that he did the injury knowingly and wilfully, then the
offended brother must deal with him as a wilful transgressor. He must
lay his sin before him, and show him what laws he hath transgressed;
what evil he hath done him, what wrong to his own soul, and what offence
he hath done to Christ, by breaking his holy laws. He must admonish him
again and again of his sin, and reprove him, but not too severely, until
he find him obstinate and stubborn. And if God convince him of his sin,
and give him repentance unto life, he must readily forgive him. And, if
he be once truly convinced of, and humbled for, his sin, he will most
fully confess it to his brother, as well as to God, and endeavor to make
him amends, and give him all possible satisfaction for the injury he
hath done him, most freely and willingly: for it is a certain sign that
a person is not powerfully and savingly convinced of, and humbled for,
his sin, while he bears off, and must be sought after to make
satisfaction to such as he hath wronged; because were his heart really
melted into the will of God, he could not be quiet, until he have given
all possible satisfaction to his brother whom he has injured, Luke xix.
8. But in case he remain obstinate, and will not hearken to reproof,
then the offended brother should take one or two more and deal with him;
and if that will not do, he ought to bring it to the church
representative, i.e. the elders of the church, that they may see what
they can do with him. But if they cannot prevail on him to repent and to
make satisfaction, then he ought to be cast out of the communion of the
church, Matt, xviii. 17.

8. It is the indispensable duty of church members to hearken to and
receive instruction, admonition, and reproof from one another. For if
some are indispensably bound at certain times to give them, surely
others who need them are as much bound to receive them, Prov. viii. 33,
x. 17, and xxix. 1. These are bound to hearken to their brethren's
reproofs, counsels, and admonitions, with all humility, patience, and
freedom of spirit, with all love, meekness, and thankfulness to God, and
to the givers of them: for they are great mercies to such as need them,
and they are their real and profitable friends, who seek their good, and
endeavor to prevent their destruction. Let it therefore never be said
justly of any of you that are church members, that you were reproved and
admonished of any known sin by a brother, and that you refused and
slighted their counsel or reproof, justified yourselves in your sins,
and were displeased with or angry at such as admonished you, and did
their indispensable duty to you, under your sin, for your salvation.

9. Church members ought to pray for one another, and that with a real
love, fervency, and importunity, as they do for themselves, James v. 16.
O with what serious minds and strong affections should all church
members pray for one another! They should be much in building up one
another, and praying in the Holy Ghost one for another, Jude 20. They
should carry one another in their hearts at the throne of grace,
especially such as are under affliction, the whole Church in general,
and her teachers in particular, Heb. xiii. 18, and wrestle with God for
them; for they have the spirit of prayer given them, and audience and
interest in heaven, for others, as well as for themselves.

10. Church members should often meet together for prayer and holy
conversation, by two or three or more, as they may have opportunity.
This was wont to be the commendable practice of our forefathers, when
Christ, duty, heaven, and religion lay warmer on their hearts than now
they do; and this is still the practice of some, that are now alive. God
hath promised his glorious teaching, and his warming, strengthening,
sanctifying, and comforting presence to such as do so, Matt, xviii. 20.
Church members find time enough to visit one another, and meet together
to tell some idle stories, to tattle about other men's matters, which
do not concern them, and perhaps to _backbite_ some of their brethren,
and to prejudice the minds of persons against their teachers and their
work, if they do not please them. And will not such meetings have
bitterness in the end? Is it not great iniquity for Christians to tempt
one another to sin, and to wrong their own souls, by misspending that
precious time which they might have employed in the service of God, and
one another's spiritual profit. Men and women were wont to discourse
often of the things of God and their experiences one to another, Mal.
iii. 16. But, alas! few persons are now to be found, who can find time
and inclination for such an exercise. And the reason seems to be, that
most are great strangers to God and to themselves, and are so much
intoxicated with the things of this world, that they will not attend
with any pleasure unto the spiritual duties of religion.

11. Church members ought to encourage one another by their example, to
attend regularly on the public ordinances of God's worship in his
church. Whenever the church meets for the celebration of the worship of
God, all her members are bound to meet together at the appointed time,
except in extraordinary cases; otherwise good order cannot be kept, and
the public duties performed, for the glory of God, and the edification
of the church. By church members wilfully or carelessly absenting
themselves at the time of meeting, they give an evil example to others,
tempt them to do the like, and cast a stumbling-block in the way of
their duty, Heb. x. 25.

12. Church members must be charitable to the poor that are among them,
and freely contribute to them according to their ability and _their_
necessity. They are indispensably bound to impart their help and
assistance to the poor, and to give them a little of their estates. It
is a debt which they owe to God, and a duty to them. They will comfort
them thereby; but they will much more profit themselves than them. It is
a more blessed thing to give than to receive. Wealthy persons are
stewards for the poor, and a part of what God hath given those was
designed for these, 1 Pet. iv. 10, and therefore, says God, Deut. xv. 7,
8, "Thou shalt not shut thine hand from thy poor brother, but shalt open
it wide unto him." The rich must not only give to keep the poor alive in
misery, but make comfortable provisions for them, that they may have
enough to keep them from the temptations of poverty and pressing wants,
and to fit them for, and encourage them in, their work and duty, to God
and man.

13. Church members ought carefully, watchfully, diligently, and
conscientiously to beware of and avoid whatever may give any just
offence or scandal to one another. For we are charged to "give none
offence neither to Jew nor Gentile, nor to the Church of God," 1 Cor. x.
32. And our Saviour tells us, that "wo to them by whom the offence
cometh," Matt, xviii. 7.

You must take heed of such evils as the following, and avoid them,
because they all carry scandal in their nature to your own and others'
souls: as, 1. Proud, disdainful, and haughty words conduct, and
conversation; for these are grievous and provoking evils, which will
justly offend all the observers of them. 2. Sullen, sour, and churlish
language and behavior, which is offensive unto all sorts of persons; for
this is an evil altogether unbecoming the followers of Jesus Christ. 3.
A cross, captious, and contradictive spirit and conduct, delighting in
opposition to the judgment of the church and her rulers. This is very
scandalous to the brethren, and very reproachful unto themselves. 4.
Speaking evil of one another behind their backs; backbiting or
publishing their real or supposed evils, before they have been spoken to
in secret. 5. Speaking lightly or contemptibly of one another, either to
themselves or to others in their absence, as few men can bear patiently
to be despised by the slighting carriages of their brethren. 6. Vain,
foolish, and frothy discourses, which are very offensive to gracious
saints. 7. Earthly-mindedness and greedy pursuits after worldly things;
for as these are offensive to God, and hurtful to the soul, so they are
offensive to saints. 8. Strife and contention among brethren, and
grudging or envying one another's prosperity; as these produce many evil
and wicked fruits, and cast blame upon the providence of God, who
bestows his mercies as he will. 9. Defrauding and breaking promises.
Contracting debts and unduly delaying or refusing to pay them, and
disappointing men of their just expectations in virtue of promises made
to them. Those also are scandalous, and cause the name of God to be evil
spoken of. 10. Entering into a marriage relation with such as are
apparently in an unbelieving, carnal, and unconverted state and
condition; for this also is very offensive to holy serious men, although
many make very light of it. 11. Idleness and slothfulness in your
external calling, neglecting to provide for your own house, as that will
prove a scandalous sin to others and to yourselves too. 12. Taking up a
report rashly against one another of a scandalous nature, giving ear
unto tattlers, and busybodies; or being busybodies in other men's
matters yourselves, as this will give great offence.

NO. II.[122]

_Quest_. Who have a right to preach the gospel and dispense the public
ordinances of religion?

_Ans_. Without some proper furniture, it is absurd to imagine any should
be sent of God to the ministerial work. When the ascended Jesus gave to
the church apostles, evangelists; pastors and teachers, he gave gifts to
men. _Who_, saith he, _goeth at, any time a warfare on his own charges?_
What is the furniture, the qualifications prerequisite, according to the
Holy Scriptures? A blameless conversation, a good report; experience of
the self-debasing work of the Spirit of God; compassion to the souls of
men; a fixedness in the Christian doctrines; a disposition faithfully to
perform his vows; an aptness to teach the ignorant, and convince
gainsayers. Knowledge of languages, knowledge of the history and
sciences of this world, are useful handmaids to assist us in the study
of divine things. To preach from the oracles of God, without capacity to
peruse the original, especially if versant in romances and plays, we
abhor and detest. This aptness to teach, however, consists not chiefly
in any of these, but in a capacity to conceive spiritual things, and
with some distinctness to express their conceptions to the edification
of others, in that energy and life, whereby one, as affected himself,
declares the truths of God, in a simple, serious, bold, and
conscience-touching manner. The difference of this, from human
eloquence, loud bawling, and theatrical action, is evident. These may
touch the passions, and not affect the conscience: they may procure
esteem to the preacher, none to Christ. These are the product of natural
art: this the distinguished gift of God, without which, in a certain
degree, none can have evidence that he was divinely sent to minister the
gospel of Christ.

No appearance of furniture, real or pretended, can warrant a man's
exercising of the ministry, unless he have a regular call. That _all may
prophesy one by one_ is indeed hinted in the sacred records: but there
it is evident inspiration treats of what pertains to extraordinary
officers in the church; hence there is mentioned _the gift of tongues_,
extraordinary _psalms, revelations_: the _all_ that might prophesy are,
therefore, not _all_ the members of the church; not _women_, who are
forbid to speak in the church; but _all_ the extraordinary officers
called prophets, 1 Cor. xiv. 31. The _all_ that were scattered abroad
from Jerusalem, and _went about preaching the gospel_, Acts viii. 2,
could not be _all_ the believers; for there remained at Jerusalem a
church of believers for Saul to make havoc of. It must therefore have
been _all_ the preachers, besides the apostles. To strengthen this, let
it be observed, that the word here rendered _preaching_ is nowhere in
Scripture referred to one out of office: that every one of this
dispersion, we afterward hear of, are represented as evangelists,
pastors, or teachers, Acts ix. 1, 11, 19, and xiii. 1. Parents and
masters convey the same instruction that ministers do; but with a
different authority: not as ministers of Christ, or officers in his
Church. If other gifts or saintship entitled to preach the gospel, wo
would be unto every gifted person, every saint, that did not preach it.
If our adored Redeemer refused the work of a civil judge because not
humanly vested with such power, will he allow his followers to exercise
an office far more important, without any regular call? His oracles
distinguish between the mission of persons, and their gifts, sometimes
called a receiving of the Holy Ghost, John xx. 21, 23.

To render the point incontestably evident, he demands, how men shall
preach _except they be sent_? declares, that _no man_ rightly _taketh
this honor to himself but he that is called of God, as was Aaron_. "I
sent them not, therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith
the Lord." The characters divinely affixed to ministers, preachers, or
heralds, ambassadors, stewards, watchmen, angels, messengers, brightly
mark their call and commission to their work. The inspired rules for the
qualifications, the election, the ordination of ministers, are divinely
charged to be kept till _the day_, the second coming _of Jesus Christ_.
For intermeddling with the sacred business without a regular call, has
the Almighty severely punished numbers of men. Witness the destruction
of Korah and his company; the rejection of Saul; and the death of Uzza;
the leprosy of Uriah; the disaster of the sons of Sceva, &c., Num. xvi.;
1 Sam. xiii.; 1 Chron. xiii.; 2 Chron. xxvi.; Acts xix.

To rush into it, if gifted, or to imagine we are so, at our own hand,
introduces the wildest disorder, and the most shocking errors: it did so
at Antioch, and the places adjacent, where some falsely pretended a
mission from the apostles. This, too, was its effect with the German
anabaptists, and with the sectaries of England. Aversion at manual work,
pride of abilities, a disturbed imagination, a carnal project to promote
self, prompts the man to be preacher. Such ultroneous rushing is
inconsistent with the deep impression of the charge, and the care to
manifest their mission, everywhere in Scripture obvious in the ministers
of Christ. However sound his doctrine, great his abilities, warm his
address, where is the promise of God's especial presence, protection,
or success, to the ultroneous preacher? Where is his conduct commanded,
commended, or unmarked with wrath, exemplified in the sacred words? How
then can the preaching, or our hearing, of such, be in faith? How can it
be acceptable to God, or profitable to ourselves? For _whatsoever is not
of faith is sin_. Falsely this preacher pretends a mission from Christ:
wickedly, he usurps an authority over his Church: rebelliously he
deserts his own calling, and attempts to make void the office his
Saviour has appointed; to frustrate the dispensation of the gospel
committed to his faithful ambassadors. For how can they fulfil their
ministry, if others take the work out of their hand? How can they
_commit it to faithful men_, if, not waiting their commission, men rush
into it at pleasure?

In vain pleads the ultroneous preacher, that a particular mission to the
office of preaching and dispensing the sacraments was only necessary,
when the gospel was preached to the heathen. From age to age, it is _as
new_, to children _as new_, to such as never heard it. Nor, when hinting
the necessity of a mission, does the inspiring Spirit make any
distinction, whether the gospel be newly dispensed or not. _What
therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder_. In vain he
pleads an immediate commission from God: in his infallible statutes,
having fixed standing rules of vocation to the ministry, by the
mediation of men, God gives us no command, no encouragement, to hope for
an immediate call, till the end of time. Absurdly then we allow any to
have such a call, till we see _the signs of an apostle wrought in him_.
It is not sufficient he be sound in his doctrine, exemplarily holy in
his life, active in his labors, disinterested in his aims, seeking not
his own, but the honor of Christ, not his own carnal profit, but the
spiritual welfare of men: every ordinary preacher is, or ought to be so.
But, to this claimant of a mission uncommon, working of miracles, or
such extraordinary credentials, must demonstrate he hath not run unsent.

In vain the ultroneous preacher boasts of his feelings; his success; his
moving his audience; his reforming their lives; as if these demonstrated
his call from God. On earth, was ever delusion carried on without
pretence to, or without appearances of these? Let them, who know the
history of Popery, of Mahometanism, Quakerism, &c., say if they were.
Who knows not, that the Pharisaic sect pretended far more strictness,
far more devotion, than the family of Christ? Who knows not, that Satan
may, and has oft _transformed_ himself _into an angel of light_; his
ministers into the form of inspired apostles; and his influences, almost
indiscernibly similar to those of the Spirit of Jesus Christ? Who knows
not, how oft vain-glory, proud and falsely extolling of himself and
party, in their number, their spiritual experience and high advances in
holiness, mark the distinguished impostor? How oft his sermons are
larded with these!

No more tell us, if the sermon be good, you do not regard who preach it.
If God has prescribed a method of call, has stated the qualifications of
the candidate, has warned against preachers unsent, has oft marked their
guilt with visible strokes of his wrath, be ashamed to talk at so
arrogant, so careless a rate. Lay it not in the power of the
Mesopotamian wizard! Lies it not in the power of a Romish Jesuit, nay,
if permitted, of Beelzebub, for a time to preach to you many truths of
the gospel, in the warmest strain, the loftiest language? Would you
acknowledge the _three_ for honored ambassadors of Christ? Tell us not
your preacher is wonderfully pious and good: perhaps you have only his
own attestation; when better known he may be a drunkard, a swearer, a
villain, for you. Suppose he were pious, so was Uzziah; yet it pertained
not to him to execute the priest's office. Say not he is wonderfully
gifted--speaks like _never man_: perhaps so was Korah, a man famous and
of renown: such perhaps were the vagabond sons of Sceva. Say not his
earnestness in his work marks his heavenly call: no, such were the
Satanic exorcists just mentioned; such was Mahomet, the vilest impostor.
To abolish the idolatry, and various other abominations of his country,
he exposed himself to cruel reproach, to manifold hardship and hazard of
life; about fourteen years almost unsuccessful he persevered in this
difficult, but delusive attempt. What hunger, what cold, what torment
and death have some Jesuitic and other antichristian missionaries
undergone, to propagate the most ruining delusions of hell; all under
the pretence of earnestness to gain sinners to Christ and his church.
The Scripture, however, nowhere saith, how shall they preach except they
be gracious? except they be gifted? except they be in earnest? But, _how
shall they preach except they be sent_?

NO. III.[123]

_On the same subject--Who have a right to preach the gospel_?

It is expressly enjoined in the word of God that we should earnestly
contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. This faith includes
all the ordinances, as well as all the doctrines of Christ; and it is no
less our duty to contend for the former than for the latter. They have
been equally opposed, and there is the same necessity why we should
contend for both. Among the ordinances of Christ, the preaching of the
gospel holds a principal place, and it hath accordingly, in all ages,
met with considerable opposition. Like other ordinances, it hath been
often grievously abused, and perverted to the most unworthy purposes. By
many who would be esteemed the wise of the world, it is counted unworthy
the attention of any but the vulgar: it has been called the foolishness
of preaching. The infidels of our time, and some who, by attachment to
the Arian and Socinian system, are in a progress to infidelity, cry it
down as a human device or piece of craft. This need not, however,
occasion any great surprise: the spirit of the world savoreth not the
things that be of God, and the enemies of the truth naturally wish to
have full scope to propagate their delusions. But it is matter of regret
that the preaching of the gospel is, by many who attend upon it, too
little regarded as an ordinance of Christ. And some of the professed
friends of gospel doctrine so far mistake the nature and institution of
preaching, as to engage in it without any other call than their own
abundant zeal, and even to plead that all should do so who find
themselves qualified. To show that such a sentiment and practice have no
warrant from the word of God, the following observations are offered.

I. The preaching of the gospel is an ordinance that Christ hath
appointed for the gathering and edification of his Church; and, being a
matter of positive institution, all that belongs to the administration
of it can be learned only from the rules and approved examples recorded
in the New Testament. It is not like those duties that are incumbent
upon all, according to the opportunities they have in providence for the
performance of them, and which, without any express commandment, could
be urged upon Christians by the common principles of moral obligation,
such as to teach and admonish one another. And because the obligation to
such moral duties depends not upon positive institution, it must equally
extend to all, and no person whatever can be free from it. But it is
otherwise as to the preaching of the gospel, which is a positive
institution of Christ; for it is a duty enjoined upon some only; yea,
some are even absolutely prohibited from intermeddling in it, 1 Cor.
xiv. 34; 1 Tim. ii. 12: and this could not be the case if it were a
matter of common moral obligation. All arguments therefore taken from
general principles, to prove the obligation that Christians are under to
exert themselves for promoting the cause of religion, are to no purpose
here, as they do not prove that the preaching of the gospel is one of
those means that all are warranted to use.

II. There is an instituted ministry of the ordinances of Christ unto his
Church, by such ministers and office-bearers as he hath appointed. And
the preaching of the gospel is frequently referred to as a principal
part of that ministry. We read of a ministry of the word, Acts vi. 4; a
ministry received of the Lord Jesus to testify the gospel of the grace
of God, Acts xx. 24; a ministry of reconciliation, 2 Cor. v. 18; and a
ministry into which some are put by the Lord Christ, 1 Tim. i. 12. This
ministry is not left open to all the members of the church, in such a
manner as that everyone who finds himself disposed, of supposes himself
to be qualified, may engage in it as he finds opportunity; but
office-bearers are appointed for it by the Lord Christ, Eph. iv. 11,12:
"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, and for the edifying of the body of Christ." Some
of these officers were extraordinary and temporary; they had an
extraordinary call, and were endued with miraculous powers, which are
now ceased: but the work of the ministry, and particularly the preaching
of the gospel, is to continue to the end of the world, as appears from
the promise given for the encouragement of those that are employed in
it, Matt, xxviii. 20. There are accordingly ordinary officers, pastors,
and teachers, appointed for the continued exercise of that ministry.

To these instituted office-bearers is this ministry exclusively
committed, Mark xvi., Matt, xxviii. The gospel of Christ, in respect of
the public ministry thereof by preaching, is frequently mentioned as a
special and peculiar _trust_ committed unto them, 2 Cor. v. 18-20; 1
Tim. i. 11, and vi. 20. In all the passages of Scripture where we have
any mention of a charge or commission to preach the gospel, it would be
easy to show that it is directed only to persons in office; and a
variety of names are given to those that are employed in a ministry of
the word, all of which are expressive of their peculiar office. They are
called ministers, 1 Cor. iii. 6; officers and stewards, 1 Cor. iv. 1;
ambassadors for Christ, 2 Cor. v. 20; heralds (so the word preacher
signifies) and teachers, 2 Tim. i. 11.

There is no room to plead here, that though a constant ministry of the
word, in a pastoral charge, belongs only to persons in office, yet all
may occasionally exercise their gifts in preaching the gospel. The word
of God acknowledges no such distinction as that between a constant and
an occasional ministry of the gospel. It enjoins upon those who are
called to the work of the ministry, not an occasional, but a constant
exercise of that ministry; so that whether they be paid pastors, or
itinerant preachers, they are not to entangle themselves with the
affairs of this life, but must be devoted wholly to the work of the
gospel, 1 Tim. iv. 13-16; 2 Tim. ii. 4, and iv. 2. And because they must
thus devote their time and attention to this work, the word of God also
enjoins that a maintenance be given them by those to whom they exercise
their ministry, 1 Cor. ix. 7-14; Gal. vi. 6; 1 Tim. v. 17. This is a
farther evidence that the ministry of the word is restricted to persons
in office, and that they are to devote their time and attention to it,
not entangling themselves in the prosecution of a secular business.

III. Those only can be warrantably employed in a ministry of the
ordinances of Christ, and particularly in preaching the gospel, who are
thereunto called by him, and admitted according to the rule laid down in
the word. And none can be warrantably acknowledged and received as
office-bearers, to whom that ministry is committed without some proper
evidence of their being called and sent by Christ. "How shall they
preach except they be sent?" Rom. x. 15. How, without this, can they do
it warrantably or profitably? And, without some evidence of this, what
ground have we to expect a blessing in waiting upon their ministry? It
is not a mere providential sending that is here meant, as if there were
no more necessity than abilities, and an opportunity of exercising them;
for so the ministers of Satan may be sent, and a lying spirit was thus
sent among the prophets of Ahab. But this sending means the call of
Christ, intimated in such a way as to warrant the preacher, and with
such evidence as may satisfy the conscience of the hearers, in receiving
his ministry as the ordinance of Christ. A zeal for God, a strong desire
of being useful to souls, and even a persuasion of having the call of
Christ, cannot be sufficient warrant to the preacher; far less can the
hearers, in receiving him, proceed upon grounds so uncertain.

The apostles, and some other ministers in the beginning of the Christian
dispensation, had an extraordinary call and immediate mission by Christ,
and this was evidenced to all by the miraculous powers bestowed on them.
These powers are now ceased, and it is vain to plead any such immediate
call. The ordinary call of Christ to the work of the ministry is
intimated by or through the church, judging thereof by the rules laid
down in the word; and according to these rules, they that are found
qualified and called, are to be admitted to the ministry by them who are
already invested with it. The charge is given to the office-bearers of
the church, to commit that ministry which they have received "to
faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also," 2 Tim. ii. 2;
Tit. i. 5. And for their direction in this matter, the qualifications
necessary, both as to character and abilities, are laid down in the
Word, particularly in 1 Tim. iii.; of these qualifications they are
required to make an impartial and deliberate examination, so as to _lay
hands suddenly on no man_, 1 Tim. iv. 22, but to admit to the office of
the ministry those only, who, by this trial, they have reason to judge
are called and sent by Christ.

It is vain to distinguish here between a pastor of a congregation and an
itinerant preacher; as if the call of the church was necessary only to
the former and not to the latter. If by the call of the church is meant
only the choice and call of the people, it is admitted, that this is
only necessary to fix a pastoral relation to that part of the flock; but
a regular admission to the work of the ministry, by the office-bearers
of the church, is equally necessary in the case of all that are employed
in it, whether they have a fixed charge or not. Timothy, who had no
fixed charge, and though pointed out by prophecy as designed for the
ministry, was ordained and admitted to it by the presbytery. And though
Paul and Barnabas had an extraordinary call, yet the prophets and
teachers of the church at Antioch are directed to separate and send them
out, according to the call of the Holy Ghost, to preach the gospel unto
the Gentiles, Acts xiii. A principal design of this seems to have been,
to set an example of procedure to the church in after times.

It appears, then, that the preaching of the gospel is an ordinance or
institution of Christ--that the ministry of that and other ordinances
belongs only to those office-bearers whom he hath appointed and
commissioned for that end--and that in ordinary cases, none can be
acknowledged as sent by him, but such as are admitted to the ministry in
the way above mentioned. These observations would have admitted a much
larger illustration; but as they are, they may assist an attentive
reader to consult his Bible for further satisfaction. It is necessary,
however, to take some notice of the arguments urged in support of the
opposite sentiment, and of the attempt to prove that every man who is
qualified has a right to preach the gospel, without any regular call and
admission by the church. And,

1st. It is pretended that this is enjoined upon all that are qualified
for it, because Christians are called to teach, exhort, and admonish one
another. But even supposing that this were to be understood of
preaching, or a public ministry of the word, such directions, though
expressed generally, would not apply to all, but to those only who are
called to the ministry, according to the limitation and restriction that
is laid down in other places of Scripture. There is, however, no
necessity of understanding these directions in that sense. The
Scripture evidently distinguishes the preaching of the gospel, or that
public teaching which belongs to an instituted ministry, from that
private teaching which is competent to, and obligatory on, all
Christians by the law of love; the latter is enjoined upon some to whom
the former is absolutely prohibited: compare 1 Tim. ii. 12, with Tit.
ii. 3, 4. Christians in a private station have abundant opportunity, and
ordinarily much more than they improve, to exercise their talents in
teaching their families, friends, and neighbors, without interfering
with that public ministry of the word which is committed to those who
are especially called thereto.

2d. Some passages of Scripture are urged, wherein it is supposed all
Christians are enjoined to exercise their qualifications in public
teaching or preaching: particularly Rom. xii. 6-8; 1 Pet. iv. 10, 11.
These Scriptures, on the contrary, restrict the public ministry of the
word to those invested with an office, and it is that ministry which
belongs to their office that is spoken of. In Rom. xii. persons in
office are exhorted to apply themselves faithfully and diligently to
that ministry to which they are called, whether it be a ministry of the
word, and of spiritual things, or a ministry of temporal things, and
that without envying others who have a different office and ministry.
And, to enforce this exhortation, the apostle compares the Church to the
natural body, ver. 4, in which all members have not the same office, but
one member is appointed to one office, and another member to a different
office: and so it is in the Church of Christ, ver. 5. The same allusion
is applied more largely, 1 Cor. xii. 27, 28, to illustrate this very
point. The other passage, 1 Pet. iv. 10, 11, is of the very same import:
those in office are called to exercise their ministry faithfully,
whether it be in spiritual or temporal things, and are addressed as
stewards, ver. 10; "As every man hath received the gift, even so
minister the same one to another as good stewards of the manifold grace
of God." Some are led to mistake the meaning of these Scriptures, by
misunderstanding the word _gift_, as if it meant only talents or
qualifications; whereas, in these and many other passages, it means a
certain office and ministry to which one is appointed. Eph. iv. 8, 11:
He gave gifts unto men; he gave some apostles, some prophets, &c. 1 Tim.
iv. 14: "Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by
prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery." Timothy
was ordained to the office of the ministry in consequence of special
direction of the spirit of prophecy. See 1 Tim. i. 18.

3d. It is also supposed and much insisted on by some, that both precept
and example for the preaching of the gospel, by what they call every
gifted brother, may be found in 1 Cor. xiv. 31, which is particularly
urged in support of their opinion: "For ye may _all_ prophesy, one by
one, that _all_ may learn, and _all_ may be comforted." But universal
terms, such as are here used, are limited or extended according to the
subject; and that even in the same verse, as in chap. xv. 22. In like
manner here, the _all_ that may prophesy are not the same _all_ that may
learn and be comforted. The latter may extend to all the members of the
church, and even to strangers who might come into their assemblies; the
former could apply only to a few. Some members of the church are
expressly prohibited from public teaching, ver. 34. Besides, all were
not prophets, chap. xii. 29, and therefore all could neither prophesy,
nor could warrantably attempt it. The state of matters referred to in
that chapter seems to have been this: The church at Corinth was
numerous, and had many ministers, of whom the most, if not all, were
endowed with some miraculous power, such as that of prophecy, of
speaking strange languages, and the like; they were proud of these
gifts, and forward to show them, ver. 26, which occasioned disorder in
their assemblies for worship; those that had the gift of tongues
prevented the prophets, and did not modestly give place to one another.
These disorders the apostle reproves, and exhorts them to exercise their
gifts in a more regular and decent manner, for the edification of the
church. This being the case, it is strange to plead this passage as a
warrant for the preaching of the gospel by those who are in no office,
and who neither have any miraculous power to prove their immediate call
by Christ to the work of the ministry, nor are admitted thereto by the
call of the church.

4th. Further, we are referred to Acts viii. 1-4, for an example of the
preaching of the gospel by persons not in office. We are told, ver. 1,
that "there was a great persecution against the church which was at
Jerusalem, and they were all scattered abroad--_except the apostles_."
And it is said, ver. 4, "_they_, that were scattered abroad, went
everywhere _preaching the word_." From this it is argued, that _the
Church in general_ proclaimed the gospel of the Lord Jesus. But why
mention the Church in general, when the method of reasoning used would
equally prove that the Church universally did so; and the absurdity of
such reasoning must be evident upon a very little consideration of the
subject. How absurd to suppose that _all_ mentioned in ver. 1, refers to
and comprehends all the members of that church, and that all the
thousands and ten thousands belonging to it were all scattered abroad,
or that they all, men, women, and children, went _everywhere preaching_
the word! Are we not told, ver. 3, that some of them, probably many of
them, both men and women, were haled and committed to prison? Or, had
all the members of the church been driven from Jerusalem, how were the
apostles to be employed? Did they only tarry to gather a new church?
When it is said, ver. 3, that Saul entered into every house, how absurd
would it be to suppose that it is meant every house in Jerusalem, or
even every house in which there was a Christian! The expression, also,
_everywhere_, ver. 4, must be limited. It would therefore be
unreasonable to object against a proper limitation of the word _all_,
ver. 1. And about the just limitation of it we need be at no loss. They
were all scattered abroad--except the apostles. What reason can there be
for mentioning only the apostles as excepted, while there were so many
other members of that church still remaining at Jerusalem, but this,
that the persons referred to were of the same description in general
with the apostles, persons in office, ministers of the church? Others
might also be scattered, but these are here spoken of; and Philip, an
evangelist, and endowed with miraculous powers, is mentioned as one of

5th. As to the case of Apollos, which some urge as affording
irresistible evidence to prove that all who are qualified may preach the
gospel, a few words may suffice. He spoke boldly in the synagogue, the
practice of which is no rule to the Christian Church. He was not yet
acquainted with some important doctrines of the New Testament Church,
much less could he be acquainted with the ordinances of it. Two
intelligent Christians instructed him more perfectly in the way of God.
He was recommended by the brethren to the church at Corinth, and there
he labored successfully in the work of the ministry. And what is all
this to the purpose for which his example is urged? We have no
information, indeed, of what time, nor in what manner, he was called and
admitted to the work of the ministry, more than we have about many
others mentioned in Scripture: but he is expressly called a minister,
and is, once and again, classed with the chiefest of the apostles, 1
Cor. i. 12, iii. 5, 22.

Lest these and the like arguments should be found insufficient, recourse
is had by some to the plea of pure motives and good designs, with a kind
of appeal to the judgment of the great day, and profession of trust,
that they are such as will not then be condemned. It is a great
satisfaction to have the testimony of conscience to the purity of
motives in every part of conduct that is warranted by the word of God,
and also to know that the judgment of the saints at the great day will
be a judgment of mercy. But every part of the truth of Christ will be
determined at that day in exact conformity to what is now declared in
the word. And the purest motives and most noble designs are no rule of
conduct to any; much less can they give satisfaction to others.

These observations concerning the institution of a gospel ministry, the
writer is persuaded, are agreeable to the word of God: if they be not,
it would be idle to appeal to his motives in support of them. But he can
freely say that they are here offered to the public, not from a desire
of controversy, but from a conviction, that at this time it is
necessary, on different accounts, to call people's attention to the mind
and will of Christ, as revealed in the word concerning this subject. Let
not such of the friends of religion, as may be of different sentiments
from what are here expressed, be offended at an attempt, in the spirit
of meekness, to remove their mistakes: nor let them impute it to envy,
pride, or selfish principles. In a perfect consistency with all that he
hath advanced, the writer can say, "Would to God that all the Lord's
people were prophets."

It is a necessary consequence of what is advanced on this subject, that
all should be careful that the ministry of the ordinances they attend
upon be such as is warranted in the word. If none can warrantably preach
except they be sent, we cannot warrantably attend on the ministry of any
but those who we have reason to believe have Christ's call and mission.
And if it be an objection against a pastor of a congregation, that he is
imposed upon the flock without their choice, it is no less an objection
against a preacher, if he be not admitted to the ministry of the word by
those whose office it is to examine his qualifications, and judge of his
call. It must, however, be acknowledged, that to have gone through the
ordinary forms of admission is no sufficient evidence of one's having
the call of Christ. The outward forms may be observed, while the spirit
and design of them is neglected, and the rule of the word transgressed.
Nor can any be acknowledged as sent by Christ, unless their character
correspond with that pointed out and required in the word, and unless
the doctrine they teach be the gospel of Christ. None can be supposed to
have a mission from Christ, who do not bring his message, 2 John ver.
10: "If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him
not into your house, neither bid him God speed." But when we are favored
with the pure gospel, and an administration of it agreeable to the word,
let us wait upon it diligently; regarding the preaching of the gospel as
an ordinance of Christ, and depending on his promised blessing to make
it effectual: for when "the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased
God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe," 1 Cor.
i. 21.

Both parts of this number are recommended to the serious consideration
of what are called _lay-preachers_, and of such as favor that scheme.
And let all intruders upon the office of the holy ministry, with their
deluded votaries, beware lest it should be said to them, _Who hath
required this at your hands_?


_Quest_. Have not the people a divine right to choose their own pastors
and other church officers?

_Ans_. In those divinely qualified for the ministry, there are
diversities of gifts, though but one spirit. As the same food, though
abundantly wholesome and nourishing, is not equally suited to the taste,
appetite, and constitutions of different persons and nations; so the
same gifts in a candidate for the gospel ministry are not equally
adapted to every person and place. To secure edification there must
therefore be a choice of the gifts most suitable. And who fitter to make
it than those who are to enjoy the use thereof, if their senses be
exercised to discern good and evil? Can any man pretend to know better
what gifts suit the case of my soul than I do myself?

Those ignorant of the fundamental truths of Christianity; those
scandalous, profane deniers of the divine original of the Old and New
Testaments, or of any truth therein plainly revealed; those neglecters
of the public, private, and secret worship of God; those given to
cursing, swearing, Sabbath profanation, drunkenness, whoredom, or other
scandalous courses, are destitute of capacity and right to choose a
gospel minister. The ignorant are utterly incapable to judge of either
the preacher's matter or method. The openly wicked have their hatred of
Christ, and a faithful minister, marked in their forehead; neither are
such qualified to be visible members of the Christian Church. To admit
them therefore to choose a Christian pastor would be a method,
introducing ruin and we; a method equally absurd as for unfreemen to
choose the magistrates of a burgh: rather, equally absurd as if ignorant
babes, and our enemies the French, should be sustained electors of our
members of parliament and privy council.

Whether visible believers, adults, and having a life and conversation
becoming the gospel, have a right from God to choose their pastors and
other church officers, must now be examined.

All along from the Reformation it has been the avowed principle of
Scotch Presbyterians, that they have a divine warrant to choose their
own pastors and other ecclesiastic officers. The first book of
discipline, published A.D. 1560, declares the lawful calling of the
ministry to consist in the election of the people, the examination of
the ministry, and administration by both, and that no pastor should be
intruded on any particular kirk without their consent. Their second book
of discipline declares that the people's liberty of choosing church
officers continued till the Church was corrupted by antichrist: that
patronage flowed from the Pope's canon law, and is inconsistent with the
order prescribed in God's word. From various documents the assembly of
1736 declared it obvious, that from the Reformation it had been the
fixed principle of this church that no minister ought to be intruded
into any church contrary to the will of the congregation. They seriously
recommended a due regard hereunto in planting the vacancies, as
judicatories would study the glory of God, the honor of God, and the
edification of men. It is the law of heaven, however, the book of the
Lord, that here and everywhere we intend to build our faith upon.

That of Matthias is the first instance of an election of an officer in
the Christian Church. No doubt, then, it is marked in the sacred history
as a pattern for the ages to come. Being an officer extraordinary, his
call was in part immediately divine, by the determination of the lot.
Being a church officer, he was chosen by the Church as far as consistent
with his extraordinary office. The disciples about Jerusalem (120) were
gathered together. Peter represented the necessity of filling up Judas's
place in the apostolate with one who could be a meet witness of Jesus'
doctrines, miracles, death, and resurrection. The one hundred and twenty
disciples chose, appointed, or presented to whom they judged proper for
that work. The office being extraordinary, and perhaps the votes equal,
the decision which of these two was referred to the divine determination
of the lot. After prayer for a perfect _one_, it fell upon Matthias, and
he was, by suffrages, or votes, added to the number of the apostles.

Had the next election of a church officer entirely excluded the
Christian people, one had been tempted to suspect that Matthias's
extraordinary case was never designed for a pattern. Instead hereof, the
choice being of an ordinary officer, is entirely deposited in their
hands. Never were men better qualified for such an election than the
inspired, the spirit-discerning apostles; yet when restrained by
laborious attendance to their principal work, the ministry of the word
and of prayer, from sufficient leisure to distribute their multiplied
alms to their now numerous poor, and directed by the Holy Ghost, they
ordered the Christian people _to look out_, choose seven of their
number, _men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and of wisdom_,
who might be ordained to the office of deacons. Judging of the mentioned
qualifications, the Christian multitude, entirely of their own accord,
chose Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and
Nicolas. These they presented to the apostles, who immediately ordained
them by prayer, and imposition of hands, Acts vi. 1-6. Here, by inspired
appointment, the people had the whole power of electing their deacons.
If they have the power of electing one ordinary officer, why not of all?
If in the case of deacons they can judge of the qualifications of
_honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and of wisdom_, what hinders them
to judge of these and the like of ministers? If Jesus and his apostles
argued from the less to the greater, Matt. vi. 30,1 Cor. ix. 10, who can
forbid us to argue so? If it be right and equal for the Christian people
to choose deacons who take care of their sacred alms, is it not much
more right and equal that they have the choice of their pastors, who
take the oversight of their souls?

A third instance of the Christian people electing their ecclesiastical
officers, relates to the joint travels of Paul and Barnabas at Lystra
and places around, Acts xiv. 23. These two divinely directed messengers
of Christ, having ordained (or, as properly translated from the Greek,
_through suffrages or votes constituted) them elders_ (presbyters) _in
every city, and prayed with fasting, commended them to the Lord_. Here
it is plainly marked that these elders, _presbyters_, were chosen by
_suffrages (votes)_ in order to ordination. This the Greek word in our
version, by the fraud of the English bishops rendered _had ordained_,
plainly imports. The root of this word is borrowed from the custom of
giving votes at Athens and elsewhere in Greece, by lifting up of the
hand. Wherever it is used in the Greek Testament, and for anything we
know in every Greek author, not posterior to Luke, the writer of the
Acts, it constantly implies _to give vote or suffrage_. In the text
before us it agrees with Paul and Barnabas; because they presided in the
choice, and finished the design of it by ordination. Here, moreover, it
is evident that the persons chosen for elders _(presbyters)_ were set
apart to their office, not by a hurried prayer and riotous banquet, but
_by prayer and fasting:_ and this manner of choice and ordination was
used in every church. The very performance of the work of ordination in
public conjunction with the church tacitly infers their consent.

Christ's commanding his people _to try the spirits_, to try false
prophets, and to flee from them, 1 John iv. 1, 2, necessarily imports a
right to choose the worthy, and reject the vile; to choose what suits
our edification, and to reject what doth not; for, if we must receive
whoever is imposed, there is no occasion for trial, we can have no
other. The privilege of trial here allowed to his people by Christ
plainly supposes their having some ability for it; and, by a diligent
perusal of his word, and consulting his ministers, they may become more
capable. Has our adored Redeemer thus intrusted to his adult members the
election of their pastors? at what peril or guilt do any ministers or
laics concur to bereave them thereof, thrusting men into the evangelic
office by another way; thus constituting them spiritual _thieves_ and
_robbers_? Instead of being _gentle_ to church members, as a _nurse
cherisheth her children_; instead of _condescending to men of low
degree_, and _doing all things to the glory of God_ and the _edification
of souls_, is not this to set at naught their brethren; exercise lordly
dominion over the members of Christ; and rule them with rigor?

In the oracles of God, where is the hint, that the choice of pastors for
the Christian people is lodged in any but themselves?--Since men
apostolic and inspired put the choice from themselves to the Christian
people; who can believe that it belongs to the clergy? Acts i. and vi.
When Christ avers _his kingdom is not of this world_; when he threatens
judgment without mercy to such as in his worshipping assemblies more
readily give a seat to the rich, with his gold ring and gay clothing,
than to the poor; can it be imagined that he has intrusted the choice of
his ambassadors to men, for their greatness?

There is indeed a haughty objection often stated against the people's
choice: Shall a cottager, poor and unlearned, who pays not one farthing
of the stipend, and at next term will perhaps remove from the
congregation, have an equal choice of a minister with his master, a
gentleman, a nobleman, of liberal education, of distinguished abilities,
who is head of a large family, has a fixed property and residence in the
parish, and furnishes almost the whole benefice? Will you fly in the
face of our civil law? Will you plead for the method of choosing church
officers, which already has produced so much strife, bloody squabbling,
or riot? If Christ's _kingdom_, as himself when dying attested, _is not
of this world_, how can outward learning, riches, settled abode, or any
worldly thing, constitute one a member thereof? These do not make one a
better Christian. No. _Not many wise men after the flesh, not many
mighty, not many noble, are called_ with a holy calling. How ordinarily
do rich men oppress the saints, draw them before judgment-seats, and
blaspheme Jesus' worthy name, by which they are called! If worldly
privileges and endowments cannot make one a subject of the Mediator's
spiritual kingdom, how can they entitle any to, or raise him above his
brethren in, the privileges thereof? If by the Son of God the poor
cottager has been made free indeed; has been taught to profit; is rich
in faith; is a king and priest unto God; and hath received a kingdom
that cannot be moved; in the view of the Omniscient and his angels, and
every man wise to salvation, how little is he inferior to his rich,
perhaps his graceless, master? Your rich man has college education,
understands philosophy, history, law, agriculture; but will that infer
that he understands his Bible, understands Christian principles,
spiritual experiences, and what spiritual gifts best correspond
therewith, better than his cottager, who daily searches the Scriptures,
and has heard and learned of the Father? How oft are the great things of
God hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes! Christ
crucified was to the learned Greeks foolishness; but to the poorest
believer the power of God and the wisdom of God. "The natural man,"
however learned, "receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither
can he know them; for they are spiritually discerned," 1 Cor. ii. 14.
How easy to find the herdman, or the silly woman, who will endure a
trial on Christian principles to far better purpose than many of your
rich, your great men!--Your great man is the head of a numerous family,
and has great influence in the corner. That, no doubt, is a strong
motive for him, if he is a Christian, to be exceeding wary in his
choice: if he is so, no doubt his Christian judgment, as far as is
consistent with spiritual liberty, is to have its own weight. But while
Christ's _kingdom is not of this world_; while in him there is _neither
male nor female, bond nor free_; headship over a family can found no
claim to a spiritual privilege. Thousands of heads of families are
plainly _aliens from the commonwealth of Israel_, without God, and
without hope in the world. Many are heads of families who, by neglect of
the daily worship of God, of religious instruction, and by other
unchristian conduct, ruin the same.

Boast not of the great man's settled abode, boast not of to-morrow, for
thou knowest not what a day may bring forth; how suddenly may disaster
and death pluck him up by the roots! The rich fathers, where are they?
Do the nobles live forever? Shall their dwelling continue to all
generations? How often, in a few years, the rich inheritance changes its
master, while the race of the poor hovers about the same spot for many
generations! What if the cottager attend more to gospel ministrations,
in one year, than the rich in forty! what if, removing at next term, he
carry his beloved pastor in his heart, and by effectual fervent prayers,
availing much, by multiplied groanings that cannot be uttered, he bring
manifold blessings on the parish and ministry which he leaves; while
your rich man, if wicked, if of the too common stamp, continues in it,
for no better purpose than to distress the faithful pastor, corrupt the
people, bring down a curse, and cumber the ground! The great man bears
the load of the stipend no more than the poorest cottager. He purchased
his estate with this burden upon it, and on that account had its price
proportionally abated. Suppose it were otherwise, might not a poor
widow's _two mites_ be more in Jesus' account than all he gives? Will
we, with the Samaritan sorcerer, indulge the thought that the _gifts of
God_, the spiritual privileges of his Church, _are to be purchased with
money_? For money to erect the church or defray the benefice we must
not, with the infamous traitor, betray the Son of God in his church--his
ordinance, his ministry, into the hands of sinners to be crucified.

It is in vain to mention the civil law: the very worst statute thereof,
relative to the point in hand, indirectly supposes the consent of the
congregation. It leaves to the presbytery the full power to judge
whether the presentee is fit for that charge. If the congregation
generally oppose, with what candor do the presbytery, in Jesus' name,
determine that he is fit? The last statute relative hereto declared the
presentation void, unless accepted. Nor is there in being any, but the
_law of sin and death_ within them, the law of itch after worldly gain,
that obliges candidates to accept. How unmanly, how disingenuous, to
blame the civil law with the present course of intrusions!--Since the
resurrection of Christ, we think we may almost defy any to produce an
instance of bloody squabbling, or like outrageous contention, in the
choice of a pastor, where none but the visible members of Christ's
mystical body, adult, and blameless in their lives, were admitted to act
in the choice. But if at any called popular elections, the power was
sinfully betrayed into the hands of such baptized persons, as in
ignorance and loose practice equalled, if not transcended, _heathen men
and publicans_; into the hand of those who, to please a superior, to
obtain a paltry bribe, or a flagon of wine, were readily determined in
their vote for a minister; let the prostitutes of Jesus' ordinance
answer for the unhappy consequences of their conduct. If they so
enormously broke through the hedge of the divine law, no wonder a
serpent bit them. But who has forgot what angry contentions, what
necessity of a military guard at ordinations, the lodging of the power
of elections in patrons or heritors, _as such_, has of late occasioned?

To deprive the Christian people of their privilege in choosing their
pastor, and give it to others upon worldly accounts, is the grossest
absurdity. It overturns the nature of Christ's spiritual kingdom,
founding a claim to her privileges on worldly character and property. It
gives those blessed lips the lie, which said, _"My kingdom is not of
this world."_ It counteracts the nature of the church, as a voluntary
society; thrusting men into a momentous relation to her, without, nay
contrary to, her consent. It settles the ministerial office upon a very
rotten foundation: for how hard is it to believe the man is a minister
of a Christian congregation, who never consented to his being such! to
believe he has a pastoral mission from Christ, for whom providence would
never open a regular door of entrance to the office; but he was obliged
to be thrust in by the window, _as a thief and a robber_! If he comes
unsent, how can I expect edification by his ministry, when God has
declared, _such shall not profit his people at all_? It implies the most
unnatural cruelty. If the law of nature allow me the choice of my
physician, my servant, my guide, my master, how absurd to deny me the
choice of a physician, a servant, a guide, to my soul; and to give it to
another, merely because he has some more money, has a certain _piece of
ground_, which I have not! How do these qualify him, or entitle him to
provide, what the eternal salvation of my soul is so nearly connected
with, better than myself, if taught of God?

By patronage how oft the honor of Christ and the souls of men are
betrayed into the hands of their declared enemies! If the patron is
unholy, profane, how readily the candidate he prefers is too like
himself! If a candidate be faithful, be holy, how readily, like Ahab in
the case of Micaiah, he hates, he sends not for him! The complaisant
chaplain, who almost never disturbed the family with the worship of God;
who along with the children or others took off his cheerful glass; sung
his wanton song; attended the licentious ball, or play-house; connived
at, or swore a profane oath; took a hand at cards; or ridiculed the
mysteries, the experiences, the circumspect professor of the Christian
faith, is almost certain to have the presentation: perhaps he covenanted
for it as part of his wages. For what simony, sacrilege, and deceitful
perjury, with respect to ordination vows, patronage opens a door, he
that runs may read. Shocked with the view, let us forbear!

       *       *       *       *       *

N.B. The London ministers in the preceding treatise have a large note
respecting the election of ministers, which does not fully invest this
right in the people. The editor, therefore, omitted that note
altogether, and has inserted this number, extracted from Brown's
Letters, in the place of it, as better adapted to the nature of the
gospel church, and to that liberty wherewith Christ has made his people

NO. V.[124]

_Of the Ordination and Duty of Ministers._

That the ordination of pastors is an ordinance of Christ, the sacred
volumes clearly prove. Through election by suffrages (or votes) Paul and
Barnabas ordained _elders_ (presbyters) _in every church_, Acts xiv. 23.
By Paul's inspired orders Titus was left at Crete to ordain elders
(presbyters) in every city, Tit. i. 5. By the laying on of the hands of
the presbytery was Timothy himself ordained: he was apostolically
authorized and directed to ordain others; and informed that these
directions are to be observed, _till the day of Jesus Christ_, 1 Tim.
iv. 14, 15.

That not election, but ordination, confers the sacred office is no less
evident. Election marks out the person to be ordained; ordination fixes
the relation of a candidate to a particular congregation, upon receiving
a regular call; while at the same time it constitutes him a minister of
the whole catholic Church. Ordination made men _presbyters_ and
_deacons_, which were not so before. If a person be destitute of the
distinguishing ministerial gift, or any other essential qualification,
ten thousand elections or ordinations cannot render him a minister of
Christ. But solemnly tried and found qualified, he is to be set apart to
the ministry, by prayer, fasting, and laying on of the hands of the

Nowhere in the heavenly volume do we find either precept or example that
Christian people have a whit more right to ordain their pastor, than
midwives have to baptize the children they assist to bring forth.
Ordination appears to have been performed by apostles, by evangelists,
and by a presbytery, Acts vi. 6, and xiv. 23; Tit. i. 5; 1 Tim. v. 22,
and iv. 14: but never by private Christians. Could these ordain their
pastors or other ecclesiastic officers, to what purpose did Paul leave
Titus at Crete to _ordain elders in every city_? or why did he write
never a word about ordination to the people, in any of his epistles, but
to their rulers?

Thus regularly ordained, the Christian pastor must enter upon his
important work. Endowed with spiritual wisdom and understanding;
possessed of inward experience of the power of divine truth; inflamed
with zeal for the glory of God, love to his work, and compassion to the
perishing souls of men, he is to endeavor to acquaint himself with the
spiritual state of his flock; and to feed them, not with heathenish and
Arminian harangues, but with the gospel of Christ, the sincere milk of
the word, diligently preaching and rightly dividing it, according to
their diversified state and condition, 1 Pet. v. 3; 2 Cor. v. 11; 1 Cor.
ix. 16. Assiduously growing in the knowledge and love of divine things,
he is to instruct and confirm his hearers therein. Every divine truth he
is to publish and apply, as opportunity calls for: chiefly such as are
most important, or, though once openly confessed, are in his time
attacked and denied, 1 Tim. vi. 20, iii. 15. Painfully is he to
catechize his people, and in Jesus' name to visit and teach them from
house to house. To awaken their conscience, to promote the conversion of
sinners, to direct and comfort the cast down, perplexed, tempted, and
deserted; to ponder the Scripture, and his own and others' experience,
to qualify him for this work, must be his earnest care. Faithfully is he
to administer the sacraments to such (only) as are duly prepared; and in
the simple manner prescribed by Christ. Tenderly is he to take care of
the poor; to sympathize with the afflicted; impartially to visit the
sick; to deal plainly with their consciences, and to exhort and pray
over them in the name of the Lord. With impartiality, zeal, meekness,
and prudence, he is to rule and govern the church, to admonish the
unruly, to rebuke offenders, to excommunicate the incorrigible, and to
absolve the penitent. Habitually is he to give himself to effectual
fervent prayer, for his flock, and for the Church of God, travailing as
in birth till Jesus be formed in the souls of men. Be a man's parts,
diligence, and apparent piety what they will, negligence in this will
blast his ministrations, and too clearly mark, that he is therein
chiefly influenced by some carnal motive of honor or gain. Finally, he
is constantly to walk before his flock a distinguished pattern of
sobriety, righteousness, holiness, humility, heavenliness, temperance,
charity, brotherly kindness, and every good word and work. Without this
his ministrations appear but a solemn farce of deceit, 2 Tim. ii. 4; 1
Tim. iv. 15; 2 Tim. iv. 2.

Can ministers' reading of sermons consist with the dignity of their
office? Did Jesus or his apostles ever show them an example of this? No.
At Nazareth, when he read his text in the book of Esaias, he _closed his
book_, and discoursed to the people. On the mount _he opened his mouth,
and taught_: we hear not that he took out his papers and read. Peter, in
his sermon at Pentecost, _lifted up his voice, and said_: his papers and
reading we hear nothing of. After reading of the law and the prophets,
the rulers of the synagogue of Antioch in Pisidia, desired Paul and
Barnabas, not to _read_, but to _say on_. Our adored Saviour knew well
enough how to direct his ambassadors; yet he ordered them to _go and
preach_, not _read_, the gospel to every creature, Luke iv. 20, 21;
Matt. v. 2; Acts ii. 14, and xiii. 15. How hard to believe, that he who
gives gifts to men, for the edifying of his body, would send the
sermonist, whose memory and judgment are so insufficient, that from
neither he can produce an half hour's discourse without reading it! How
dull and insipid the manner! How absurdly it hinders the Spirit's
assistance, as to matter during the discourse! How shameful! Shall the
bookless lawyer warmly and sensibly plead almost insignificant trifles,
and shall the ambassador of Christ, deprived of his papers, be incapable
to plead so short a space in favor of his Master, and of the souls of

NO. VI.[125]

_Of Ruling Elders._

The rule and government of the Church, or the execution of the authority
of Christ therein, is in the hand of the elders. All elders in office
have rule, and none have rule in the church but elders: _as such_, rule
doth belong unto them. The apostles by virtue of their special office
were intrusted with all church power; but therefore they were elders
also, 1 Pet. v. 1; 3 John i.: see Acts xxi. 17; 1 Tim. i. 17. They are
some of them on other accounts called bishops, pastors, teachers,
ministers, guides; but what belongs to any of them in point of rule, or
what interest they have therein, it belongs unto them as elders, and not
otherwise, Acts xx. 17, 18. The Scriptures affirm, 1st, That there is a
work and duty of rule in the Church, distinct from the work and duty of
pastoral feeding, by the preaching of the word and administration of the
sacraments, Acts xx. 28; Rom. xii. 8; 1 Cor. xii. 28; 1 Tim. v. 17; 2
Tim. iv. 5; Heb. xiii. 7, 17; Rev. ii. 3.

2d. Different and distinct gifts are required unto the discharge of
these distinct works and duties. This belongs unto the harmony of the
dispensation of the gospel. Gifts are bestowed to answer all duties
prescribed. Hence they are the first foundation of all power, work, and
duty in the church. Unto every one of us is given grace according to the
measure of the gift of Christ, that is, ability for duty, according to
the measure wherein Christ is pleased to grant it; Eph. iv. 7: see also
1 Cor. xii. 4, 7, 8-10; Rom. xii. 6-8; 1 Pet. iv. 10: wherefore
different gifts are the first foundation of different offices and

3d. That different gifts are required unto the different works of
pastoral teaching on the one hand, and practical rule on the other, is
evident, 1st, From the light of reason, and the nature of the works
themselves being so different. And, 2d, From experience; some men are
fitted by gifts for the dispensation of the word and doctrine in a way
of pastoral feeding, who have no useful ability in the work of rule; and
some are fitted for rule, who have no gifts for the discharge of the
pastoral work in preaching, Yea, it is very seldom that both these sort
of gifts do concur in any eminent degree in the same persons, or without
some notable defect.

4th. The work of rule, as distinct from teaching, is in general to watch
over the walk or conversation of the members of the church with
authority, exhorting, comforting, admonishing, reproving, encouraging,
and directing of them, as occasion shall require. The gifts necessary
hereunto are diligence, wisdom, courage, and gravity; as we shall see
afterwards. The pastoral work is principally to reveal the whole counsel
of God, to divide the word aright, or to labor in the word and doctrine,
both as unto the general dispensation and particular application of it,
in all seasons and on all occasions. Hereunto spiritual wisdom,
knowledge, sound judgment, experience, and utterance are required; all
to be improved by continual study of the word and prayer. But this
difference of gifts unto these distinct works doth not of itself
constitute distinct offices, because the same persons may be suitably
furnished with those of both sorts.

5th. Yet distinct works and duties, though some were furnished with
gifts for both, were a ground in the wisdom of the Holy Ghost, for
distinct offices in the church, where one sort of them were as much as
those of one office could, ordinarily attend unto, Acts vi. 2-4.
Ministration unto the poor of the church, for the supply of their
temporal necessities, is an ordinance of Christ, instituted that the
apostles might give a more diligent attendance unto the word and prayer.

6th. The work of the ministry in prayer, and preaching of the word, or
labor in the word and doctrine, whereunto the administration of the
seals of the covenant is annexed, with all the duties that belong unto
the special application of these things before insisted on unto the
flock, are ordinarily sufficient to take up the whole man, and the
utmost of their endowments who are called unto the pastoral office in
the church. The very nature of the work in itself is such, as that the
apostle giving a short description of it adds, as an intimation of its
greatness and excellency, "Who is sufficient for these things?" 2 Cor.
ii. 16. And the manner of its performance adds unto its weight. For not
to mention that intenseness of mind in the exercise of faith, love,
zeal, and compassion, which is required of them in the discharge of
their whole office; the diligent consideration of the state of the
flock, so as to provide spiritual food for them; with a constant
attendance unto the issues and effects of the word in the consciences
and lives of men; is enough for the most part to take up their whole
time and strength. It is gross ignorance or negligence that causeth any
to be otherwise minded. As the work of the ministry is generally
discharged, consisting only in a weekly provision of sermons, and the
performance of some stated offices by reading, men have time and liberty
enough to attend unto other occasions. But in such persons we are not at
present concerned. Our rule is plain, 1 Tim. iv. 12-17.

7th. It doth not hence follow, that those who are called unto the
ministry of the word, as pastors and teachers, who are elders also, are
divested of their right to rule in the church, or discharged from the
exercise of it, because others, not called unto their office, are
appointed to be assistant unto them, that is, _helps in the government_.
For the right and duty of rule is inseparable from the office of elders,
which all bishops and pastors are. The right is still in them, and the
exercise of it, consistent with their more excellent work, is required
of them. The apostles in the constitution of elders in every church
derogated nothing from their own authority, nor discharged themselves of
their care. So when they appointed deacons to take care of supplies for
the poor, they did not forego their own right, nor the exercise of their
duty as their other work would permit them, Gal. ii. 9, 10. And in
particular the apostle Paul manifested his concernment herein, in the
care he took about _collection for the poor_ in all churches.

8th. As we observed at the entrance of this chapter, the whole work of
the church, as unto authoritative teaching and rule, is committed unto
the elders. For authoritative teaching and ruling, is teaching and
ruling by virtue of office: and this office whereunto they do belong is
that of elders, as is undeniably attested, Acts xx. 17, &c. All that
belongs unto the care, inspection, oversight, rule, fend instruction of
the church, is committed unto the _elders_ of it expressly. For _elders_
is a name derived from the Jews, denoting them that have _authority_ in
the church.

9th. To the complete constitution of any church, or to the perfection of
its organical state, it is required that there be _many elders_ in it;
at least more than one. I do not determine what their number ought to
be; but it is to be proportioned to the work and end designed. Where the
churches are small, the number of elders must be so also. So many are
necessary in each office as are able to discharge the work which is
allotted unto them. But that church, be it small or great, is defective,
which hath not more elders than one; so many as are sufficient for their
work. The pattern of the first churches constituted by the apostles,
which it is our duty to imitate and follow as our rule, plainly
declares, that many elders were appointed by them in every church, Acts
xi. 30, xiv. 23, xv. 2, 4, 6, 22, xvi. 4, xx. 17; 1 Tim. v. 17; Phil. i.
1; Tit. i. 5; 1 Pet. v. 1.

10th. We shall now make application of these things unto our present
purpose. I say then, 1st, Whereas there is a work of rule in the Church,
distinct from that of pastoral feeding: 2d, Whereas this work is to be
attended unto with diligence, which includes the whole duty of him that
attends unto it: 3d, That the ministry of the word and prayer, with all
those duties that accompany it, is a full employment for any man, and so
consequently his principal and proper work, which it is unlawful for him
to be remiss in, by attending on another with diligence: 4th, That, in
the wisdom of the Holy Ghost, distinct works did require distinct
offices for their discharge: and, 5th, Whereas there ought to be many
elders in every church, that both the works of _teaching_ and _ruling_
may be constantly attended unto; all which we have proved already: our
inquiry herein is, whether the same Holy Spirit hath not distinguished
this office of elders into those two sorts, namely, those who are called
unto teaching and rule also, and those who are called unto rule only,
which we affirm.

The testimonies whereby the truth of this assertion is confirmed are
generally known and pleaded. I shall insist on some of them only,
beginning with that which is of uncontrollable evidence, if it had any
thing to conflict with but prejudices and interest, and this is 1 Tim.
v. 17, the meaning of which is, the elders or presbyters in office,
elders of the church _that rule well_ or discharge their presidency for
rule in due manner, are worthy, or ought to be reputed worthy, _of
double honor_; especially those of them who labor, or are engaged in the
great labor and travail of the word and doctrine.

According to this sense the words of the text have a plain and obvious
signification, which at first view presents itself unto the common sense
and understanding of all men. On the first proposal of this text, that
the elders that rule well are worthy of double honor, especially those
who labor in the word and doctrine, a rational man, who is unprejudiced,
and never heard of the controversy about ruling elders, can hardly avoid
an apprehension that there are _two sorts of elders_, some that labor in
the word and doctrine, and some who do not. This is the substance of the
truth in the text. There are elders in the Church; there are or ought to
be so in every church. With these elders the whole rule of the Church is
intrusted; all these, and only these, do rule in it. Of these elders
there are two sorts; for a description is given of one sort distinct
from the other, and comparative with it. The first sort doth rule, and
also labor in the word and doctrine. That these works are distinct and
different was before declared: yet by the institution of Christ the
right of rule is inseparable from the office of pastors or teachers. For
all that are rightly called thereunto are elders also, which gives them
an interest in rule. But there are elders which are not pastors or
teachers. For there are some who rule well, but labor not in the word
and doctrine; that is, who are not pastors or teachers.

Elders which rule well, but labor not in the word and doctrine, are
ruling elders only; for he who says, The elders who rule well are worthy
of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine,
saith that there are, or may be elders who rule well, who do not labor
in the word and doctrine; that is, who are not obliged to do so.

The argument from these words may be otherwise framed, but this contains
the plain sense of this testimony.

Our next testimony is from the same apostle, Rom. xii. 6, 7, _He that
ruleth with diligence_. Our argument from hence is this: there is in the
Church one that ruleth with authority by virtue of his office. For the
discharge of this office there is a differing peculiar gift bestowed on
some, ver. 7, and there is the special manner prescribed for the
discharge of this special office, by virtue of that special gift; it is
to be done with peculiar _diligence_. And this ruler is distinguished
from him that exhorteth, and him that teacheth, with whose special work,
as such, he hath nothing to do; even as they are distinguished from
those who give and show mercy; that is, there is an elder by office in
the Church, whose work and duty it is to _rule_, not to exhort or teach
ministerially, which is our ruling elder. He that ruleth is a distinct
officer, and is expressly distinguished from all others. Rule is the
principal part of him that ruleth; for he is to attend unto it with
_diligence_; that is, such as is peculiar unto _rule_, in
contradistinction unto what is principally required in other

There is the same evidence given unto the truth argued for in another
testimony of the same apostle, 1 Cor. xii. 28: that there is here an
enumeration of offices and officers in the Church, both extraordinary
for that season, and ordinary for continuance, is beyond exception. Unto
them is added the present exercise of some extraordinary gifts, as
miracles, healing, tongues. That by _helps_ the deacons of the Church
are intended most do agree, because their original institution was as
helpers in the affairs of the Church. _Governments_ are governors or
rulers; that is, such as are distinct from teachers; such hath God
placed in the Church, and such there ought to be. It is said that
_gifts_, not _offices_, are intended; the gift of government, or the
gift for government. If God hath given gifts for government to abide in
the Church, distinct from those given unto _teachers_, and unto other
persons than the teachers, then there is a distinct office of rule or
government in the Church, which is all we plead for.

_Of the Duties of Ruling Elders._

1st. To watch diligently over the ways, walk, and conversation of all
the members of the church, to see that it be blameless, without offence,
useful, exemplary, and in all things answering the holiness of the
commands of Christ, the honor of the gospel, and the profession thereof
which they make in the world. And upon the observation which they make
in the watch wherein they are placed, to instruct, admonish, charge,
exhort, encourage, or comfort as they see cause. And this they are to
attend unto, with courage and diligence.

2d. To endeavor to prevent every thing that is contrary unto that love
which the Lord Christ requireth in a peculiar and eminent manner to be
found among his disciples. This he calls his own _new command_, with
respect unto his authority requiring it, his example first illustrating
it in the world, and the peculiar fruits and effects of it which he
revealed and taught. Wherefore, the due observance of this law of love
in itself and all its fruits, with the prevention, removal, or
condemnation of all that is contrary unto it, is that in which the _rule
of the church_ doth in a great measure consist. And considering the
weakness, the passions, the temptations of men, the mutual provocations
and differences that are apt to fall out even among the best, the
influence that earthly objects are apt to have upon their minds, the
frowardness sometimes of men's natural tempers; the attendance unto
this one duty, or part of rule, requires the utmost diligence of them
that are called unto it.

3d. To warn all the members of the church of their special church
duties, that they be not found negligent or wanting in them. These are
special duties required respectively of all church members, according
unto the distinct talents which they have received, whether in things
spiritual or temporal. Some are rich and some are poor; some old and
some young; some in peace and some in trouble; some have received more
spiritual gifts than others, and have more opportunity for their
exercise: therefore it belongs unto the rule of the church, that all be
admonished, instructed, and exhorted to attend unto their respective
duties, by those in _rule_, according to the observation which they make
of people's diligence or negligence in them.

4th. To watch against the beginning of any church disorders, such as
those that infested the church of Corinth, or any of the like sort; and
to see that the members of the church attend regularly upon the
ordinances of the gospel, as by slothfulness in this, decays in faith,
love, and order have insensibly prevailed in many, to the dishonor of
Christ, and the danger of their own souls.

5th. It belongs unto them also to visit the sick, and especially such as
their inward or outward conditions do expose them unto more than
ordinary trials in their sickness; that is, the poor, the afflicted, the
tempted in any kind. This in general is a moral duty, a work of mercy;
but it is moreover a peculiar church duty by virtue of divine
institution, ordaining, that the disciples of Christ may have all that
spiritual and temporal relief, which is necessary for them, and useful
to them, in their troubles and distresses.

6th. To assist the pastor in watching over and directing the flock, and
to advise with the deacons concerning the relief of the poor. According
to the advantage which they have by their peculiar inspection of the
conversation of all the members of the church, they ought to acquaint
the teaching elders with the state of the flock, as to their knowledge,
conditions, and temptations, which may be of singular use unto them, for
their direction in the exercise of their ministry. The liberal
contributions at Antioch for the brethren which dwelt in Judea, were
sent by the hands of Barnabas and Saul unto the elders in Judea, Acts
xi. 27, 30.

7th. To unite with teaching elders in admitting members into the
fellowship of the church, upon a visible evidence of their being
qualified as the Scriptures direct. Unto them God bath given the keys of
the kingdom of heaven, to open the door of admission unto those whom God
hath received, Matt. xvi. 19.

8th. To meet and consult with the teaching elders about such things of
importance as are to be proposed to the members of the church for their
consent. Hence nothing rash or indigested, nothing unsuited to the duty
of the church, will at any time be proposed therein, so as to give
occasion for contests, janglings, or disputes, contrary to order or
decency, but all things may be preserved in a due regard unto the
gravity and authority of the rulers.

9th. To sit in judgment upon offenders, to take the proof, to weigh the
evidence and determine accordingly, justifying the innocent, and
ordaining censure to be inflicted on the convicted brother, according to
the nature of the offence, Matt. xviii. 15, 17, 18.

10th. Whereas there is generally but one teaching elder in a church,
upon his death or removal, it is the work and duty of the ruling elders
to preserve the church in peace and unity, to take care of the
continuation of its public ordinances, to prevent irregularities in any
persons or parties among them, and to give all necessary aid and advice
in the choice and call of some other meet person to be their pastor, in
the room of the deceased or removed.


_A Summary of the preceding Treatise on Church Government,_


_Quest_. What is meant by church government?

_Ans_. That particular form and order, which Christ has fixed in his
Church, for the proper management thereof.

_Quest_. How does it appear that there is a particular form of
government appointed in the New Testament Church?

_Ans_. As there is as great, if not greater, need of a government, in
the New Testament Church, than there was in the Old, all the ordinances
of which were most minutely described. Satan is now more experienced in
deceiving, and his agents are still alive, and very actively employed,
in attempting to waste and destroy this sacred vineyard, if without its
proper hedge. Her members are still a mixture of tares and wheat; of
sheep and goats: so that there is still a necessity of discerning
between the precious and the vile; of trying and censuring false
teachers; and of guarding divine ordinances from contempt and pollution.
As Jesus gives the New Testament Church the peculiar title of the
_kingdom of heaven_, he could not, in a consistency with his wisdom,
leave it without any particular laws or form of government, except the
changeable inclinations of men. As he was faithful in his New Testament
house, he must fix a particular form of government for her, such as
tends to her peace, order, and spiritual edification. And, amidst the
prophet's vision of the New Testament Church, he is directed to teach
his people _the form of the house, the laws of the house_, &c., Ezek.
xliii. 11.

_Quest_. When may a particular form of church government be said to be
of divine right?

_Ans_. When all the parts thereof are agreeable to Scripture precepts;
to approved Scripture examples; or are deducible by fair Scripture

_Quest_. How does it appear, that Scripture consequences are to be
admitted to prove any particular truth or doctrine?

_Ans_. Because God has formed man a rational intelligent creature,
capable of searching out the plain meaning and import, and also the
necessary consequences of his express declarations. We find Christ
reasoning by a deduction of consequences, when he showed that the
doctrine of the resurrection was revealed to Moses at the burning bush;
that the sixth commandment forbids angry words; and the seventh
lascivious looks, Luke xx. 37, 38; Matt. v. 21, 28. And a great part of
the inspired epistles to the Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews consists in
such a deduction of consequences. And as all Scripture is said to be
profitable "for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for
instruction in righteousness," 2 Tim. iii. 16, without a rational
deduction of consequences, every portion of Scripture cannot answer each
of these valuable ends.

_Quest_. What particular form of church government may lay the only
proper claim to a divine right, according to the Holy Scriptures?

_Ans_. The true presbyterian form, without that lordly dominion and
tyrannical power, which has too often been exercised by courts, bearing
this name. This government claimeth no power over men's bodies or
estates. It does not inflict civil pains or corporal punishments. But it
is a government purely spiritual, dealing with the consciences of men,
and exercising the keys of the kingdom of heaven, doing all things
according to the word of God.

_Quest_. What are the parts of presbyterial church government?

_Ans_. It consists of a people, having the qualifications which the
Scriptures require; of certain rulers, who are to perform the duties of
their respective offices; and of certain courts, in which these rulers
sit and act in matters of judgment.

_Quest_. What are the qualifications of persons who constitute the
private members of the visible church?

_Ans_. They ought to be true believers in Christ, to have a competent
knowledge of the doctrines of the gospel, to make a sound profession of
their faith, and to maintain a holy conversation.

_Quest_. What rulers are there in the presbyterian church?

_Ans_. Preaching elders, ruling elders, and deacons.

_Quest_. Where is the divine warrant for the preaching elder?

_Ans_. In the Holy Scriptures we find that God hath set some in the
Church, TEACHERS: that our ascended Redeemer hath given her PASTORS and
TEACHERS: that the Holy Ghost had made some BISHOPS, OVERSEERS, to feed
her; and qualifies some for _prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation_,
1 Cor. xii. 28; Eph. iv. 11; Acts xx. 28; Rom. xii. 6-8.

_Quest_. What are the duties of preaching elders?

_Ans_. To preach the word; to dispense the ordinances of baptism and the
Lord's Supper; to administer church discipline; and to rule and govern
the church, 2 Tim. iv. 2; Matt. xxviii. 19; 1 Cor. xi. 23-29; 1 Tim. v.
20; Tit. ii. 15, and iii. 10; Heb. xiii. 17; 1 Pet. v. 2, 3. _Quest_.
Is the office of the gospel minister instituted by God to continue to
the end of time?

_Ans_. Yes; the ends of it are of a permanent nature, the converting and
confirming of the elect, and the silencing of gain-savers, Acts xxvi.
18; Tit. i. 9, 11.

_Quest_. Where is the divine warrant for the office of the ruling elder?

_Ans_. From the three following passages of sacred Scripture: 1. From
Rom. xii. 5 to 8: "We being many are one body in Christ, and members one
of another. Having then gifts, differing according to the grace that is
given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the
proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering; or he
that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation; he
that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with
diligence," &c. Here we have a list of the ordinary officers of Christ,
one body, the church. Here is the teacher: _he that teacheth_. Here is
the pastor: _he that exhorteth_. Here is the deacon: _he that giveth_.
And here is another officer distinct from all them, _he that ruleth_.
His description attests, that _ruling_ is, if not his only, yet his
principal work. He that _ruleth_ is here marked by a distinct character,
as having a different _gift_, and a distinct work from his
fellow-officers. This office therefore must be _distinct_. 2. From 1
Cor. xii. 28, where the _Spirit of God_ informs us, that God hath set
some in the Church, GOVERNMENTS. These must be understood of
_governors_, as _miracles_ are afterwards explained of _workers of
miracles_. These governments and governors are said to be _set_ in the
church, not in the state; by God, not by men: they are declared to be
distinct officers by themselves. Their title, government, implies, that
_ruling_ is their principal work. 3. From 1 Tim. v. 17, where the divine
warrant for ruling elders shines with more peculiar brightness than
anywhere in the book of God: "Let the elders that rule well be counted
worthy of double honor; especially they who labor in the word and
doctrine." The ruling elders here mentioned necessarily pertain to the
church. Two sorts of ruling elders are here plainly distinguished: some
that only rule well; others that also labor in word and doctrine. There
is not one place in the New Testament, nor perhaps in any Greek author,
where the word here translated ESPECIALLY does not distinguish between
different persons or things, Gal. vi. 10; Phil. iv. 22; 1 Tim. iv. 10; 2
Tim. iv. 13; and it would be absurd to suppose, that it does not
distinguish here also. Therefore this single text shows the divine right
of both the teaching and ruling elder.

_Quest_. What are the duties of ruling elders?

_Ans_. To exercise ecclesiastical rule in church courts with the same
authority as the preaching elder; to watch over the flock; impartially
to receive or exclude members; to warn and censure the unruly; and to
visit and pray with the sick.

_Quest_. Where is the divine warrant for deacons?

_Ans_. From Acts vi., where we are informed of the original and design
of their office; and from 1 Tim. iii. 8-12, where the inspired apostle
describes their necessary qualifications.

_Quest_. What are the duties of deacons?

_Ans_. To look into the state and to serve the tables of the poor, by
distributing the funds of the church, according to the respective
necessities of the saints, 1 Tim. iii. 12.

_Quest_. What are the courts in which presbyterian rulers meet?

_Ans_. Congregational sessions, presbyteries, and synods.

_Quest_. Where is the divine warrant for congregational sessions?

_Ans_. From Matt, xviii. 15-18, where, in the Christian form of church
discipline prescribed by the Church's Head, the concluding expression,
"Let him be unto thee as a heathen man and publican," plainly alludes to
the Jewish form of procedure in scandals. They had rulers, and
consequently courts in every synagogue, or worshipping congregation,
Mark v. 35-39. By virtue of letters from the high-priest to these, Saul
had free access to punish the Christians in every synagogue, Acts ix. 1,
2. To these congregational courts it pertained to cast out of the
synagogue, and to order transgressors to be held for heathen men and
publicans, John ix. 22. Now Jesus, in alluding to these, intimates that
similar courts should be in every Christian congregation. In this form
of discipline our divine Saviour shows his utmost aversion against
private offences being unnecessarily published abroad: and therefore the
church, to which the offence is to be told, after private admonition is
fruitless, must be understood in the most private sense of the word. The
following context evidences that it is a _church_, which may consist
only of _two or three_ met together in Christ's name; yet,
notwithstanding, a church having power to bind and loose from censure;
that is, a church having the keys of the kingdom of heaven. It cannot
then be the whole congregation or body of the people, as they are in
general far too numerous to conceal offences, and to them Christ has
given no formal judicial power, Matt. xviii. 18-21.

_Quest_. Where is the divine warrant for a presbytery?

_Ans_. Timothy is expressly said to be ordained by the laying on of the
hands of the PRESBYTERY, 1 Tim. iv. 14. And the number of different
Christian congregations governed by one presbytery, as at Jerusalem,
Antioch, Ephesus, and Corinth, proves the divine right of this court. It
is shown in the xiii. chapter of the preceding treatise, that in each
of these places there were more Christians than could meet in one
worshipping congregation, for the enjoying of public ordinances: and yet
all these different congregations, at Jerusalem, are expressly said to
have been one church, Acts viii. 1: so those at Antioch, Acts xiii. 1:
so those at Ephesus, Acts xx. 17: and those also at Corinth, 1 Cor. i.
2. Now the question is, How were the different congregations in each of
these places ONE CHURCH? Not merely in union to Christ and mutual
affection one to another; for in this respect all the saints are ONE,
whether in heaven or in earth. And therefore they are one church in
virtue of conjunct government under ONE PRESBYTERY. And in difficult
cases, or where a single congregation is so divided into parties that it
cannot act impartially; where the difference is between the pastor and
the people, a superior court is necessary to obtain material justice.

_Quest_. Where is the divine warrant for an ecclesiastical synod?

_Ans_. In Acts xv. and xvi., where we have a cause referred; the proper
members of a synod convened; the ordinary and equal power exercised by
all those members; the ordinary method of procedure in such courts; and
the judicial decrees given by the synod; together with the effect which
their judgment, in this matter, had upon the churches.

_Quest_. What was the cause referred to this synod?

_Ans_. False doctrine propagated by some Judaizing teachers, who had
gone down from Jerusalem to Antioch, and maintained that circumcision
and the observance of other branches of the ceremonial law continued
necessary for salvation, whereby they subverted some, and troubled other
members of the churches there. After much unsuccessful disputing, Paul,
Barnabas, and others were delegated to go up to Jerusalem to the
apostles and elders about this matter.

_Quest_. Who were the proper members of the synod convened here?

_Ans_. The apostles and elders at Jerusalem; Paul, Barnabas, and others,
from Antioch; and other commissioners from the troubled churches to whom
the decrees were sent.

_Quest_. Are not the brethren, the church, the whole church, mentioned
here as well as the apostles and elders?

_Ans_. But none of these expressions can mean, that all the members of
the church of Jerusalem either were present or judged in that synod; for
women, real members of the church, of the whole church, are expressly
forbid to speak in the church, 1 Cor. xiv. 34. Church sometimes
signifies only a small part of the church, either as delegates or
commissioners, and in this sense it is used in verse 3, where the
commissioners from Antioch are said to be brought on their way by the
_church_; and in chap. xviii. 22, it is said that Paul saluted the
_church_ at Jerusalem. Now, it is not credible that all the Christian
professors at Antioch would attend their commissioners a part of the way
to Jerusalem; or that Paul saluted the many ten thousand Christians at
Jerusalem, Acts xxi. 20. And the _whole church_ does not necessarily
mean the whole individual members of the church, more than the _whole
world_ mentioned, 1 John ii. 2, means every individual in the world. If
any, to support a favorite opinion, will still insist that the whole
members of the church actually met and judged of this affair equally
with the apostles and elders, they may inform us where they obtained a
proper place for so many judges to reason and determine with
distinctness or order. That the brethren who joined in judgment with the
apostles and elders were not private persons, but rather delegates from
the troubled churches around, appears from Judas and Silas, two of them
being preachers, v. 22.

_Quest_. How does it appear that the power of all the members was
ordinary and equal?

_Ans_. As every member, inspired or not, acted equally in the whole
business laid before them. Paul and Barnabas were delegated by the
church of Antioch: and the elders, who convened, had the same power as
the apostles. To the elders, teaching or ruling, as well as to the
apostles, was the matter referred: both met to consider of it: both were
equally concerned in the decision, saying, _It seemed good to the Holy
Ghost and to us_. Elders, as well as apostles, imposed the necessary
things upon the churches, and authoritatively determined the decrees. In
the name of the elders, as well as of the apostles, the letters of the
meeting, containing their decision, were written to the churches. And
the only reason why the inspired members put themselves on an equality
with others was to exhibit a pattern to after ages.

_Quest_. How does it appear, that this synod followed the ordinary
method of procedure in such courts?

_Ans_. As they examined the cause by much reasoning and dispute. In
consequence of mature deliberation they determined the question, and
sent letters, containing their decrees, by proper messengers, to the
churches concerned. In their disputation they reasoned from the oracles
of God: on these they founded their decision; and hence therein they
say, _It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us_. And if this had not
been to have given a pattern to succeeding ages, all this was
unnecessary: how absurd for inspired men to reason and dispute on the
subject, when the sentence of one inspired was sufficient for decision!

_Quest_. How does it appear that there were judicial decrees given by
this synod?

_Ans_. In opposition to the false doctrine taught, they, by a judicial
decision, plainly declared, that obedience to the ceremonies of the law
of Moses was no longer necessary: and by a decree for promoting decency
and good order, they enacted, that to avoid offence, the believing
Gentiles should abstain from fornication, from things strangled, and
from blood, verse 24-29.

_Quest_. What effect had the decision of this synod upon the churches?

_Ans_. They cheerfully submitted to these _decrees_, and were by them
conformed in the faith, comforted in heart, and increased in number
daily, Acts xv. 31, and xvi. 4, 5.

_Quest_. But might not this be a meeting merely for consultation, and
their decision a mere advice?

_Ans_. No: for every word here used imports authority. The word
translated _lay upon_, commonly signifies an authoritative imposition,
Matt. xxiii. 4. The decision is expressly called a _necessary burden_,
and _decrees ordained_, which imply power and authority, Acts xv. 16,
xvii. 7.

_Quest_. How does it appear that inferior courts are subordinate to
those that are superior; sessions to presbyteries, and presbyteries to

_Ans_. The true light of nature (which is proved, chap, iii., to be one
of those ways, whereby a thing is of divine right) teacheth us, that, if
we be injured by an inferior court, we may appeal to a higher court for
redress, if there be one. As in the Jewish church there was evidently a
subordination of judicatories, so that those injured in the synagogue
might appeal to the Sanhedrin, Deut. xvii. 8, 12; 2 Chron. xix. 8, 11;
Exod. xviii. 22, 26; Ps. cxxii. 5: therefore as our dangers,
difficulties, and necessities are as great as theirs, by reason of false
teachers and corrupt doctrines, which were foretold should appear in the
last times, 1 Tim. iv. 1; 2 Pet. ii. 1; we cannot, without dishonor to
Christ, suppose that he would deprive us of a proper remedy for
redressing our grievances, which was afforded unto them:--the gradual
advance in managing offences prescribed by Christ himself, Matt. xviii.
19, as his care for the whole church cannot be less than for a single
member. If then an inferior judicatory offend or injure us, we ought to
carry the matter to another that has more influence and authority. If
the offending judicatory neglect to hear this, we ought to tell the
offence to the church in the highest sense, that redress may be
obtained--the apostle Paul declaring, _that the spirits of the prophets
are subject to the prophets_. But the right of reference or appeal from
an inferior to a superior court is most clearly evinced from the case
of the presbytery of Antioch, respecting circumcision, being referred
for decision to the synod of Jerusalem, and their readily submitting to
its determination, Acts xv.

_Quest_. How does it appear that no power of authority is lodged in the
body of the people, the private members of the church?

_Ans_. Although every church member has a right to all the spiritual
privileges purchased with the Saviour's blood, and given to the church,
as need requires; although he has a right to try the spirits, and to
prove all things by the word of God; a power to choose the church
officers who are immediately to rule over him; yet the Holy Scriptures
allow the exercise of no official power to the private members of the
church. Not the Christian people, but their pastors have power to preach
the gospel, Rom. x. 15; and to administer the sacraments, those
mysteries of God, which are connected with preaching, 1 Cor. iv. 1;
Matt. xxviii. 19. Not the people, but their rulers, are divinely
warranted. Timothy was ordained, not by the people, but by the
presbytery: elders, not by the people, but by Paul and Barnabas: and
deacons, not by the people, but by the apostles, 1 Tim. iv. 14; Acts
xiv. 23, and vi. 3, 6. Not the people, but their rulers are to censure
the scandalous, and to absolve the penitent, Matt. xviii. 18; 1 Cor. v.
The Scripture nowhere ascribes to the people any such characters as
imply authority lodged in them; but the contrary. Instead of being
styled pastors, they are called the _flock_, watched over and fed;
instead of overseers, the family overseen; instead of _rulers, guides,
governors_, they are called the _body_ governed, the persons subject in
the Lord, and they are solemnly charged to know, honor, obey, and submit
to those that are over them.

_Quest_. What is the proper method of dealing with persons that fall
into scandal?

_Ans_. If the offence be known only to one or to a few, the offender is
to be told his fault secretly, with Christian meekness, plainness, and
love. If he profess his sorrow and resolution to amend, the whole matter
ought to be carefully concealed; and those offended ought to be well
pleased that their offending brother is gained. If, after one or more
secret reproofs, he continue impenitent, defending his fault, one or two
more Christian brethren, grave, judicious, and meek, are to be taken
along, and the offender to be dealt with by them, and in their presence.
If now he appear to repent, the several persons concerned in his reproof
are, with care and in love, to conceal his offence, lest, by divulging
it, they be reproached as wicked calumniators. If the offender contemn
one or more such private admonitions or reproofs, or if his scandal be
of such a nature that it will necessarily become public, the affair is
to be told to the church court, to which he is most immediately subject.
And, to bring him to a due sense of his fault, he is to be there dealt
with in a prudent, affectionate, plain, and convincing manner. If this
prove a means of bringing him to a sense of his offence, the censures of
the church are to be executed upon him according to the laws of Christ's
house, and the nature of his crime, and he is to be restored to the
privileges of the church. But if, after due pains taken by the
judicatories, he remain obstinate, he is then to be cast out of the
church, and held as a heathen man and publican, Matt. xviii. 15 to 18.



PREFACE                                                               7


CHAP. I.--That there is a Government in the Church of divine
right now under the New Testament                                    19

CHAP. II.--Of the nature of a divine right in general                22

CHAP. III.--Of a divine right in particular, which is five ways;
first, by the true light of Nature                                   24

CHAP. IV.--Of a divine right, second, by obligatory Scripture        27

CHAP. V.--Of a divine right, third, by God's approbation             37

CHAP. VI.--Of a divine right, fourth, by divine acts                 39

CHAP. VII.--Of a divine right, fifth, by divine precepts             40


CHAP. I.--A description of church government                         45

CHAP. II.--The subject described, and the terms church government
briefly defined                                                      46

CHAP. III.--The general nature of church government, viz., power or
authority                                                            48

CHAP. IV.--The special difference of church government from other
governments, as to the special rule of it, viz., the Holy            53

CHAP. V.--The proper fountain from which church government is
derived, so as to constitute it of divine authority, viz., Jesus
Christ our Mediator                                                  55

CHAP. VI.--The peculiar nature of this power and authority           57

CHAP. VII.--The several acts about which this power and authority
is exercised, viz., doctrine and discipline                          61

CHAP. VIII.--The end and design of this government of the church     67

CHAP. IX.--The peculiar subject intrusted by Christ with this
power, and the execution thereof according to the Scriptures         70

SECT. I.--The power granted to the civil magistrate about the        92

SECT. II.--The power utterly refused him in church affairs           94

CHAP. X.--That the community of the faithful, or body of the
people, are not the immediate subject of the power of church         97

CHAP. XI.--That Christ's own officers are the immediate subject of
it; pastors and ruling elders                                       111

The divine right of the ruling elder at large                       114

The divine right of the deacon                                      149

CHAP. XII.--The divine right of congregational elderships, or kirk
sessions, for the government of the Church                          172

CHAP. XIII.--The divine right of presbyteries, consisting of rulers
from different neighboring congregations                            177

CHAP. XIV.--The divine right of synods                              197

CHAP. XV.--The subordination of particular congregations to greater
assemblies, for their judicial determination of ecclesiastical
causes, proved to be of divine right                                210


No. I.--Of the qualifications and duties of church members          219

No. II.--Who have a right to preach the Gospel                      237

No. III.--On the same subject                                       240

No. IV.--On the people's right to choose their own pastors          249

No. V.--On the ordination and duty of ministers                     256

No. VI.--Of ruling elders, from Dr. Owen                            258

Conclusion                                                          266


[Footnote 117: The substance of this Number is extracted from Ford's
Gospel Church, printed 1675.]

[Footnote 118: John xvi. 8, 9; 2 Cor. v. 5; Eph. ii. 1, 5.]

[Footnote 119: Col. ii. 6; 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20.]

[Footnote 120: Col. i. 12.]

[Footnote 121: 1 Pet. ii. 5.]

[Footnote 122: From Brown's Letters.]

[Footnote 123: Extracted from the Christian Magazine for Sept. 1797--a
periodical publication well worth the perusal of the friends of
evangelical doctrine.]

[Footnote 124: From Brown's Letters.]

[Footnote 125: This number is a summary of Dr. Owen's arguments in favor
of the divine right of the ruling elder, with an abstract of the duties
which he ought to perform. Although the Doctor was a professed
Independent, yet he was entirely different, both in doctrine and church
government, from any in Scotland that bear that name, as all who are
acquainted with his works will easily observe. The writer of his life
asserts that he heard him say, "He could readily join with presbytery as
it was exercised in Scotland." And indeed it appears very probable that
the difference between the consultative synod which he allows, and the
authoritative synod contended for by true Presbyterians, is not so far
different as many apprehend, because the decisions of either bind the
conscience only as they are agreeable to the Holy Ghost speaking in the

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