§ I Separation of Churches FROM EPISCOPAL GOVERNMENT, As practised by the present Non-Conformists, PROVED SCHISMATICAL From such Principles as are least controverted, and do withal most popularly explain The Sinfulness and Mischief OF SCHISM. In this Treatise The Sin against the Holy Ghost, the Sin unto Death, and other difficult Scriptures are occasionally discoursed of, and some useful Rules are given for EXPLICATION of SCRIPTƲRE.

By HENRY DODWELL, M.A. and sometimes Fellow of Trinity-College near Dublin in Ireland.

[...].

Ign. Ep. ad Ephes. p. 20. Edit. Voss.

[...].

Clem. Ep. ad Corinth. §. 30.

LONDON: Printed for Benjamin Tooke, at the Ship in S. Paul's Church-Yard. MDCLXXIX.

THE PREFACE.

THE interests of those many parties which, at present, keep up the Divisions of Chri­stendom, are so highly concerned in the consequences of my present undertaking; And the generality of men are so visibly partial in disputes wherein interest is concerned, so much more inclinable to resent the severity of a conclusion that charges them with dangerous mistakes, than to think how much indeed it is their interest rather to beware of errors that may prove dangerous than to stand out in the defence of what they have once undertaken to defend, and how much it is therefore their interest to examine the premises with all possible accurateness and candor, from whence such conclusions are deduced; as that I cannot but expect some indications of the resentment of concerned Persons, though I have endeavoured that the way of management might be as unoffensive as was possible. Though my design be Peace, yet that it self is enough to alarm the Spirits of many in the contenti­ous Age we live in, who, when they are spoken to of peace will make them ready to battle. And therefore I cannot but think my self concerned to foresee and pre­vent such prejudices as may hinder such who most need the informations given in the present Work, either from reading them, or from benefiting by them.

§ II [Page iv]I MUST therefore warn my Reader in the first place that when he finds the Title promise him a Dis­course concerning SCHISM, he do not under­stand it in the same sense as it has been considered in so many modern discourses upon that Subject between us and the Romanists. SCHISM not here considered as be­tween Churches, but as between particular Members and their own Churches. I do not here consider the question of Schism between Churches, but between Subjects separating from particular Churches and the Churches from which they separate. This is all for which my present design does concern me, and if my reasons prove, that Subjects separating from their own particular Churches for unsinful Impositions are Schismaticks, I shall perform what I intended. But the same reasons will not prove a Church Schismatical for re­fusing impositions, though unsinful, from another Church. For I suppose all Churches originally equal, and that they have since submitted to prudential compacts, which though they may oblige them as long as the reason of those compacts last, and as far as the equity of those com­pacts may hold as to the true design of those that made them, and as far as those compacts have meddled only with the alienable rights of particular Churches; yet where any of these conditions fail there the particular Churches are at liberty to resume their antient rights. And I suppose the power of judging when these conditi­tions fail to be an unalienable right of particular Churches, and not only to judg with the judgment of private dis­cretion, but such a judgment as may be an authentick mea­sure of her own practice.

§ III I DO not undertake to prove that these things are so in this discourse. I only mention them that the Reader may understand on how different Principles these two questions are to be stated;The Romanists can make no advantage of the Principles of this discourse to charge our Church with SCHISM. and therefore how far it is from following, that if the Non-Conformists be Schismaticks for separa­ting [Page v] from the Church of England, therefore the Church of England must be Schismatical for refusing Communion with the Church of Rome; and how far the reasons which I have here used for proving the Non-Conformists Schismatical, are from being applicable to such a case of the Church of England. I do not now insist upon those reasons which might have been produced to prove that the impositions of the Church of Rome are not unsinful, no nor innocent of so high a degree of sin as might be grea­ter than that of a particular Church's refusing correspon­dence with another. The things which I have sugge­sted plainly shew that the case will prove extremely different, though we consider them barely as impositions, not as sinful impositions. And to let our Romish Adver­saries know that I have already foreseen the use they would be likely to make of a discourse of this nature, and how wary I have therefore been of using any rea­sons that might prove more than I intended, or might hinder us from Principles sufficient for our own defence against them; I shall desire them to consult my two short Discourses published with a design to prepare the way for this Work. There they will find such principles of defence of our Church against them, which will not clash with any thing said here, which I verily believe true, and which being supposed true, I also conceive ve­ry sufficient to vindicate our Church from their imputa­tion of SCHISM for our not communicating with them. And I know not what they can desire more who will desire no more than what is equal.

§ IV BUT as to the main mischief of SCHISM insisted on in this discourse, the Nullity of Orders and Sacra­ments in the Persons guilty of separation, and the con­sequent Sacriledg of those who shall presume in such a case to administer the Sacraments without sufficient Authority: That they cannot charge us with, even by [Page vi] their own Principles, purely on the account of the se­paration. They cannot deny but that Bishops, even ac­cording to the design and practice of their own Church when we began our Reformation, had all that power given them by them who made them Bishops, which was requisite, not only for mainteining a Church at present, but also for mainteining a Succession in it through all suc­ceeding generations. They had the power, not only of making other Priests who might administer the Sacra­ments during their own lives, but also of making other Bishops who might convey this power to others. Who­ever they were that nominated the Persons, whether the People, or the Clergy, or the Prince, or the Pope; yet still they were the Bishops who performed the office of Consecration, which was that which was then thought immediately to confer the power. It was then also be­lieved that the Orders given, and the Sacraments admi­nistred out of the Church by Persons duly Authorized by such as had power to authorize them, were valid as to the substance of the things, though uncanonical as to the Persons who performed them. This plainly ap­peared in their dealings with the Greeks, and with all such established Churches. They did not think it neces­sary to reordein their Clergy when they came over to them. They cannot therefore for the same reason deny but that our first Bishops who were consecrated in their own Church had all that power given them at their Consecration, which was requisite for the Successi­on since continued from them. As for the pretended uncanonicalness of what they have done for mainteining this Succession, besides what might have been said to shew the unobligingness of Canons in their case; besides what might have been said to shew that they were per­formed canonically, even by the then established Canons of their own Church; besides, that that is a pretence [Page vii] wherein they are too much parties to be our competent Judges: However if all they said to this purpose were as true as they pretend it to be, yet they can shew no such Canonical defect as themselves can, by their own Principles, judg sufficient to invalidate the whole per­formance.

§ XIII AND for my part I cannot but look upon it as an Argument that God never intended to oblige particular Churches to as great a dependence on other Churches as that is wherein he has obliged Subjects to depend on their own Churches, because by his contrivance of things it does not follow that separating Churches must be left as destitute of the ordinary means of salvation upon their separation from other Churches, as it has appeared, from our Principles, that particular Subjects are, upon their separation from their own Churches. It rather appears, that abating what obligations they have brought upon themselves by their own compacts, God has made them equal, when he has contrived no obligation in interest to make one yield rather than the other. There is no way of judging who is in the right but by the intrinsick merit of the cause, nor is there any presumption in fa­vour of a particular Church to presume the cause right because it is hers. So that there remains no way of deciding such differences but that which is necessary and very proper for those who are exactly equal. And for my part I do really believe that the true original design of those compacts whereby particular Churches have voluntarily submitted to restrictions of their original power, was only that every particular Church might have her censures confirmed in all other Churches in reference to those who were originally her own Subjects; not to gain a power over any other Subjects but her own; nor to submit to any other power any farther than was requi­site to oblige her to observe the same equity to them, [Page viii] which, whatever it may do in that Community of Churches which may be enabled, by such compacts, to maintein a mutual correspondence; yet cannot in any equity be so expounded as to make her absolutely sub­ject to any particular Church of that Community.

§ VI IN managing therefore this charge of SCHISM in the sense now explained, I have indeed insisted on such Principles which may seem something strange and surprising to the Age we live in, but certainly much more likely to give light to the Subject than any I know of promoted by any other,The advantages of the particular way of management of this discourse. and with­al much more consonant to the sentiments of Ca­tholick Antiquity. To shew that they are more agreeable to the sense of Catholick Antiquity is to be the Subject of my Second Historical Part. That they are peculiarly fitted to give light to this Subject above any other Hypothesis hitherto promoted, I have shewn in the last Chapter of this, whither the Reader may have recourse who desires before his reading of the whole, to have a short account of the peculiar advantages of these Principles. Besides to facilitate his understand­ing of what is there said, and withal to let him under­stand in short a Summary of the whole design, and the accurateness of the way by which I have endeavoured to manage it; I have prefixed a short account of it di­gested into the several Propositions whereof it consists, and ranked in the natural order wherein they follow each other with references also to the Chapters where they are particularly proved. And if any desire to know in short what Topicks are insisted on for their proofs, those he may also find in the Contents of those Chapters immediately subjoined. This way of ordering them will be of great use both for him who has not yet read the whole Discourse to know what he is to expect in it; and for him who has to recollect what influence [Page ix] every particular discourse has upon the whole design. Besides it will be a great ease to the Readers of different Principles. Each of them does grant things which others deny. But by these references every one may know where to find that particular Proposition discour­sed which he particularly doubts of. This may serve for those who are by all means willing to shorten their pains. Otherwise I should rather intreat him who would be willing to bestow pains on a Subject of so great importance to him, and so worthy of his pains, rather to read the whole, which will best qualifie him to judg of the particulars by reason of their connexion. The reason will appear more solid and convincing, when it is found to hold good in all the train of conse­quences, than when it is applied only to one particu­lar.

§ VII AND the least that I hope the Reader will find from a candid perusal of what is here said, is that the question is of much greater importance than it is commonly conceived to be.The great Consequence of the present contro­versie. And this is but very necessary for that multitude of well-meaning Persons among us who go indifferently to the Church or Conventicle, according as they are affected to the Minister that officiates in either place. I will not undertake to judg how far their good meaning may go to excuse them before God, whilest they are inquisitive and desirous of conviction and cannot find it, but it is certain it cannot alter the nature of the thing. If the thing they do be a great sin, it is never the less so, be­cause it is done with a good meaning, though it may indeed be less imputed, whilest they sincerely seek for in­formation. The Crucifixion of our Saviour was a great sin to the Jews, though they did it ignorantly, and St. Paul calls himself the chief of sinners for having persecuted the Church, though he was conscious of having [Page x] done it out of a Principle of zeal. Now if there be such a sin as SCHISM possible to be committed, I do not see how the breach on both sides can be excused from it. Either we must be guilty of it for exercising our Authority over them, if we have no just title to such Authority, or they must be guilty of it for refusing their obedience if we have. And if either side prove guilty, these men take the infallible way to make themselves accessary to the guilt, whilest they communicate with both. If our Communion be unlawful, it is certain that no personal gifts, or goodness of a particular Minister among us can excuse them for communicating with him in what they think to be unlawful. If our Communion be lawful, it will then highly concern them to think how they can excuse themselves for separating them­selves from them whom they must all acknowledg to have been once their lawful Ecclesiastical Governours, when the Schisms first began; nay, for joyning in oppo­site Communions with the professed Adversaries of such Governours, and for refusing passive as well as active obedience.

§ VIII AND if the sin of SCHISM be so piacular and mischievous as it must be if our Principles should prove true, then certainly it will oblige them to a care of avoiding it proportionable to the danger, What will follow from it. not only of the sin it self, if they should prove guilty of it, but of our discourses and reasonings, lest they may prove true. Where a great danger is likely to be­fall men a little probability is thought sufficient to ob­lige them to great caution. Though the proof should not be necessary, though it may prove very possible that the thing may be otherwise, yet if it cannot be satisfa­ctorily answered, if it cannot be disproved, if there be not great assurance of its falshood, men think themselves, in all prudence, obliged to keep on the securer side. The [Page xi] danger of the sin will oblige them to yield in all things which are confessedly not dangerous, nay, in all things that are, where the danger is not as great or as probable, though it were of sin, as this. It is no sin but prudence to fall into a less sin for to avoid a greater where both are really unavoidable. Not to say that a greater danger though on less proof is rather to be avoided than a lesser danger or greater proof, where the difference between the dangers is very considerable. And the danger lest our proofs should hold will oblige them not to venture on a thing which, if they should hold, must appear so very dangerous, but upon very good assurance that they do not conclude the thing for which they are produ­ced.

§ IX AND if our reasonings hold, how sad must their condition be who prove guilty of the sin of SCHISM here described?The mischief of the condition of Schisma­ticks, if our Principles should prove true. They must be guil­ty of disobedience to the Divine Government, which by the Principles of Government is always counted greater than the violation of any parti­cular Laws. None of them, how momentous soever, can be of greater moment than the Legislative power it self from whence they all derive their obligation. They must be guilty of giving or abetting a Divine Authority in men to whom God has never given such Authority; nay, in opposition to all the Authority he has really esta­blished among men. They must be guilty of forging Covenants in the name of God himself, and of counter­feiting the great Seals of Heaven for the ratification of such Covenants. And what can be more Treasonable by all Principles of Government? What is more provoking and more difficultly pardonable than sins of so high pre­sumption as these are? They must be guilty of sinning against the Holy Ghost, and unto Death, and of the sins described in the passages of the Epistle to the Hebrews, [Page xii] with which none do terrifie the consciences of igno­rant unskilful Persons more frequently than they do. They must be guilty of such sins which, as they need pardon more than any others, so they do in the nature of the things themselves more effectually cut off the offender from all hopes of pardon in an ordinary way. By being disunited from the Church he loses his Ʋnion with Christ and all the Mystical benefits consequent to that Ʋnion. He has thenceforward no title to the sufferings or merits or intercessions of Christ, or any of those other blessings which were purchased by those me­rits, or which may be expected from those Intercessions. He has no title to pardon of sin, to the gifts or assistan­ces of the blessed Spirit, or to any promises of future re­wards, though he should perform all others parts of his duty besides this of reuniting himself again to Christs Mystical Body in a visible Communion. Till then there are no promises of acceptance of any Prayers, which ei­ther he may offer for himself, or others may offer for him. And how disconsolate must the condition be of such a Person? Who would not think himself obliged to use all diligence, and to yield all possible condescensi­ons, rather than to fall into such a condition, or to con­tinue in it?

§ X AND if this be so, methinks all interessed Persons should rather take it kindly than be angry for being warned of a course so mischievous to themselves as well as to the publick, What will follow from hence. so dangerous upon spi­ritual as well as worldly considerations. If they should not be warned, their little apprehensions of dan­ger would not make it less, but it would make it less re­mediable. They are not likely to have a better title to forgiveness of sins, or any other benefit of the Evangeli­cal Covenant, but they are less likely to qualifie them­selves for a title to them. And why should they take [Page xiii] it ill to be warned of their danger; when upon warn­ing they may so easily avoid it, only by returning to Catholick Ʋnity? Why should they censure us as un­charitable who force our selves on so unwelcome an of­fice wherein we must expect such censures, for thinking so hardly of their present condition, rather than exa­mine our reasons whether they have not reason to think as hardly of themselves? If it should prove so, it were well they would consider that they are the Persons principally concerned in the consequences of such dis­courses, and then the truth will be more their interest than it is ours, and we cannot shew our Charity to them better than by warning them of such truths wherein their greatest interests are so greatly concerned. If a Pa­tient in a bodily distemper should take the Physician for his enemy for thinking him distempered, and should thereupon not only reject his Medicaments, but divert himself from all reflections on his condition, how would they think it possible that such a Patient should be cured of his distemper? I could heartily wish they would consider how exactly this agrees with their own case.

§ XI IF they think it hard that we should think so hard­ly of so great Multitudes as are concerned in the conse­quences of the present Discourse, I confess I should think so too,The Objection con­cerning the multitudes concerned in the con­sequence of this Dis­course. Answered. if our hard thoughts had the least influence on the hardness of their condition. I should think it cruelty to think hardly of any one, so far I should be from excusing any hard thoughts concerning a Multitude. But if the knowledg of their danger be the most likely means to secure them from it; if more of them will come to understand their danger when they are warned of it by others, than would if they were left to the ingenuity and sagacity of their own reflections: It must be then the greatest cruelty to con­ceal our apprehensions of their danger as it would be in [Page xiv] the other case to reveal them. And the greater the multitude is of them that are indangered, the more piti­able is their case, and the more obliging a tender, com­passionate, truly Christian Spirit, to endeavour all he can for their relief. How can such a one who has learned the true value of Souls from what his Lord has done and suffered to save them, endure to see his Lords de­signs so frustrated, and such numbers of Souls fall short of those favours which were designed for them by what he had done and suffered for their Salvation? Could the danger of his Fathers Life extort words from the dumb Son of Croesus? And can any Lover of the Fa­ther of Spirits keep silence, when thousands of those Spirits are in danger of perishing for want of season­able information? To think that there are such multi­tudes of those who unfeignedly believe the truth of the Christian Religion who yet are destitute of the ordina­ry means of Salvation, required by that Religion; to think how many more are like to be engaged on the same dangerous courses in all those future generations wherein these SCHISMS may last, if they be not timely obviated; to think how many of these poor Souls neither think of any danger in the state of SCHISM, nor are sensible of the true stating of those disputes which might in all likelihood convince them how nearly they are concerned in that danger, who if they were but rightly informed and made sensi­ble of their danger would in all likelihood receive con­viction and escape the danger, at least would be more inquisitive, if they knew their present course to be in­deed so dangerous, if they should prove mistaken: To think I say, on these things seriously must sure raise the zeal of him who has any zeal of God in him, or any bowels of compassion for Souls, that is indeed, who has any thing of the Spirit of Christianity. So that hither­to [Page xv] the multitude of them who are concerned ought ra­ther to be an inducement than a dissuasive to a compassi­onate soul to let them see their danger.

§ XII BUT if another use be made of this consideration of the multitude of those who are concerned in the consequences of this discourse, for a charge against our modesty for dissenting from so great a multitude, in think­ing their condition so dangerous when they think it so secure, in pretending to any thing new that such a mul­titude have not discovered before us; though I know how little such an Objection becomes the Person of those who are most of all concerned to make it, who make no scruple to practise and avow this liberty of dis­senting from greater multitudes than themselves, yet ma­ny other considerations may be pleaded for our defence, even in this particular also. First, the multitude though they may seem many when we confine our thoughts to the narrow extents of our own Dominions, yet are re­ally inconsiderable in comparison of the whole Church, I do not say, only, of former Ages, but even of this al­so wherein we live. And what immodesty can it be to dissent from a multitude when we have so much greater a multitude to confront against them? Next, this mul­titude it self are so disunited among themselves as that no particular party will make a multitude in comparison of the whole. And if they be united in this conclusion that their condition is not dangerous, it is not from any common principles, but purely from common interest that they are so united. It is plain that the different parties do state the question of SCHISM, and their own de­fence from the charge of it very differently, and are ob­liged to do so by the different interests of their causes. So that no one set of Principles can pretend even to the patronage of a multitude. And sure a Ʋnion in Nega­tive conclusions without any Ʋnion in Principles to prove [Page xvi] those conclusions, a Ʋnion not of unprejudiced Judg­ment, but plainly suspicious of common interest, a Ʋni­on of innovaters against the concurrent sense and Prin­ciples too of all Antiquity, cannot have any thing very venerable in it for the recommendation of its Authority, though a higher deference were due to Authority than can be allowed by the common Principles of the Refor­mation.

§ XIII AS for the multitude of those whose Authority is re­ally considerable in this case, I mean that of Catholick An­tiquity, I hope hereafter to make it appear in my Second Part, that I have said nothing as to my general charge but upon their common Suffrages and Principles too. And why should we presume a multitude of innovaters better acquainted with the principles and practices of the Apostles than they who had so much better ad­vantages of knowing them by living so much nearer to their times? I do not prejudg against their actual know­ing some things better than the ancients. But if there can be no general presumption in favour of them, but the enquiry, in what particulars they do so, be resolved in­to particular information; that is enough to overthrow their Authority as a presumption against us in point of modesty, which is all for which I am concerned at pre­sent. Besides that this acknowledgment that Persons of less advantages for finding the truth in general, and therefore of less Authority, may yet be so happy as to light upon better information in some particulars, is that which might be a very satisfactory plea, (and by them against whom we plead it undeniable,) for our dissent from them in these particulars, though we had been more destitute otherwise of Authority for our dissent than indeed were are. And to know when the case may prove so that Persons more unlikely may discover some particular truths which have escaped the observation [Page xvii] of others who were otherwise much more able to have made the discovery, a better rule can hardly be given in general, than that this may be then expected when either some false Principle was taken up unwarily at first by them who, (though they were themselves as sub­ject to humane frailties as others, yet by their being the first) had the Authority with their Successors as to re­commend them as Principles to posterity, so that all their future enquiries were only into their consequences, not in­to the truth of such Principles themselves; or when some other means of information were made use of, which either were not known, or not made use of, by those more able Persons. Thus it is very justly plead­able against the Romanists, that whilest they made un­written traditions of equal Authority with the written word of God, and the present sense of their Occidental Church the standard of Tradition without recourse to the monuments of the Primitive times, and admitted withal so many incompetent ways of bringing in new opi­nions, as new pretended revelations attested by justly-su­spicious miracles, not to mention the Authority of the Pope, whereby it came to be in the power of a few to impose upon the whole; it could not be admi­red that the further they pursued the consequences of these Principles, the more they should prove mistaken, and that meaner Persons who had the happiness to exa­mine things by more certain Principles should discover many things which they had overseen. And as to the means of information, that those Ages of Popery where­in their errors were introduced, wanted many such means with which God had blessed the World at the be­ginning of the Reformation. Such were the edition of many of the unquestionable Records of the Primitive times, the study of the tongues wherein the Scriptures and those Primitive Monuments were written, the ex­acter [Page xviii] skill in Ecclesiastical Antiquity by which they were better enabled to distinguish counterfeit from genuine Writers. With these assistances it could not be admi­red if meaner Persons made greater discoveries than great multitudes of others who were otherwise more sagacious, if they wanted them.

§ XIV THE same plea I have to make against our present Adversaries, both as to Principles and as to the means of information. As to Principles, that one great Prin­ciple by them opposed to the other extreme of the Ro­manists, That the Scripture alone is the adaequate Digest of all Ecclesiastical Practices as well as of matters of belief, was by rational consequence like to lead them in­to multitudes of errors, into a contempt of Authority, into a rejection of Ecclesiastical Constitutions prudently fitted to circumstances of present practice, into an im­possibility of Ecclesiastical Peace, till all sorts of Persons, Laicks as well as Clergymen, may be agreed on which side the Scripture is clear in many things whereof (if this Principle should prove false) no account at all is to be expected in the Scripture. Now the mistake of these men is not in any thing that concerns their abilities, but meerly in their infelicity in lighting on such a very fal­lacious principle. They judg of the consequences, and judg rightly, and I am so far of their mind that these and the like things are indeed just consequences from that Principle. But the Principle it self they take up as a Principle, that is precariously, either without any reason at all, or upon such reasons as could signifie no­thing with any but such as are already possessed with a great favour to it. They do not ordinarily dispute it without some indignation at the supposed impiety of him who questions it, and, by their whole behaviour, clearly shew that it is rather their affection and the in­sensible prejudices of education that has engaged them [Page xix] in defence of it than any shew of reason either that it is true, or that it is impious to question it. And can we think it any reflection on the abilities of such, to be in­sensibly carried away into a belief of such Principles, when they make so little use of their abilities in judging concerning them?

§ XV THE like may be also said concerning our means of information, that our Adversaries generally use such means of understanding the Scripture, as must necessari­ly leave them ignorant of many things which yet might certainly have been designed by the sacred Writers, and by the Holy Ghost who inspired them. Which is one general way of their making disputes endless, by requi­ring a resolution in such cases wherein their own unwary stating of things have made them uncapable of a resolu­tion. They are for expounding the Scriptures only by themselves, especially in matters doctrinal; without al­lusion to the sense of those times in terms of Art which were plainly suited to the capacities of them who used those terms; without allusion to the Notions and Do­ctrines of those times which were either confirmed or con­futed by the sacred Writers; without allusion to the whole Systemes of Principles then mainteined, though they are very forward to expound difficult obscure passages by their modern Systemes, without so much as offering to shew that any then mainteined them, which yet they call expounding it by the Analogy of Faith; without allusion to the Systemes of the immediately succeeding Ages of the Church, who certainly took up their Systeme from what they understood of the Apostles minds from their Writings, and Preachings and Conversations, to whose capacities the Sacred Writings themselves were more immediately accommodated than they were to ours. Upon these and the like Principles most of those things are grounded which may look like Paradoxes in [Page xx] my Expositions of the Scripture. And I shall say no more at present in defence of them, because something has been suggested to that purpose in several parts of this discourse, but principally and professedly in my Pro­legomena to my Tutors Book de Obstinatione, whither I must again by all means refer my Reader who shall be curious to know what I have to say in favour of these seeming Novelties. All that I shall at present remark to my present purpose is, that by either not thinking on these things, or by utterly neglecting them if they did think of them, they must have deprived themselves of all possibility of understanding those Scriptures which were not intelligible without them. And then what wonder is it that many things may be cleared by these assistances which they had never thought on? nay, that they should be cleared by one who had been incompa­rably less able to clear them, if he, as well as they, had wanted these assistances?

§ XVI BUT to give them all they can, with any shew of reason, desire, Suppose I were as much mistaken, as it the interest of their cause to wish I should be; suppose their condition were not indeed so dangerous as I con­ceive it to be: Yet why should they take it ill to be warned of a danger which I thought to be a danger, though I were mistaken in thinking so? Can I do other­wise if I would let them see my hearty well-wishes for their welfare? Can I do it more fairly or with less sus­picion of imposing on them than by tendring my reasons why I think their condition dangerous, to their impar­tial consideration? And what hurt is done them, if my reasons should prove less convincing? Must it not be a great satisfaction to themselves to be assured that those reasons are not convincing which make others think their condition dangerous? Must it not be much more satis­factory even to themselves to know the uttermost of those [Page xxi] reasons, than only to be left to indefinite suspicions, which usually, in matters wherein mens fears are con­cerned, make men apt to think they may be more solid than they appear to be upon enquiry? No doubt they would think so who were as serious and sincere for their spiritual security as they are for their temporal. And would it not become their Charity, and their concern­ment for the publick peace, to satisfie us that our fears are groundless, and that we may joyn with them on easier terms to which themselves may be more willing to condescend? These are so useful and excellent de­signs as that no good Spirit could think his pains and diligence ill bestowed in knowing and examining what we have to say upon this Subject, how weak or fallaci­ous soever it might prove upon examination.

§ XVII IF after all I cannot avoid the popular odium of those who are otherwise minded, I confess I am likely to be the less solicitous on my own account by how much I am the less conscious of having deserved it. I know our Saviour himself had the like return of his well-meant endeavours. I know it has always been the fate of Peace-makers and faithful Monitors. And I hope I shall always be heartily willing to suffer more than this is like to signifie to me, in so good a cause. The best is, I can­not foresee any occasion of such a tryal from truly pious and ingenuous Persons who will understand before they censure, and who will reflect on the considerations now mentioned. For others I cannot think them so compe­tent Judges, nor do I see any reason to reverence their cen­sures.

§ XVIII THERE is also one thing more of which I am to warn the Reader. That is, that the following discourse was first designed as a defence of a Ser­mon preached on this Subject before the Lord Mayor. Mr. John Sharp on Rom. xiv.19. But having made some entrance on it, I did not think [Page xxii] it so convenient to be confined to anothers method in delivering my own sentiments, nor to concern any par­ticular Author in the Controversie, but rather to under­take the whole Subject in a method most natural to my own conceptions of it. And the rather so, because most of the Answerers Objections would have no place on my way of stating the Controversie, and I could not think it worth the while to spend time on such things as were grounded on misunderstandings. I speak not this with the least design of disparaging the performance of the Adversary, for the misunderstandings are no other than such as are common to him with the generality of the dissenting parties. Otherwise his management is more accurate for the destructive part, (which is the Ta­lent of those Persons) than usual, and with better tem­per to his Adversary. However these considerations be­ing approved by several of my worthy Friends to whom I communicated them, and among others by the Author of that excellent Sermon, I easily obteined his leave to proceed in my own way. Yet I thought it convenient withal to give this warning of it, that the Answerer, whoever he be, may know that his Objections have been allowed for in my Hypothesis, though they be not ex­presly mentioned, and that he may not look on the si­lence of his Adversary as an Argument of any neglect of him.

§ XIX IF any shall think of a Reply, I shall humbly desire▪ That he would keep to the cause, avoiding all personal reflections as far as the cause will permit;Requests to him who shall think of a Reply. That he will not take any advantage against the propriety of particular expressions, in which it is as usual for Adversaries to be mistaken in misunderstanding the expressions, as for the Author who has used them; That he would rather judg concerning my particular expressi­ons by the exigency of my Cause and Principles, which [Page xxiii] will be the surest way, not only to assure himself of my meaning, but to make his Arguments against such ex­pressions conclusive against my cause it self; That he would be pleased to remember how easie it is to object against any thing Arguments more plausibl [...] than those are on which the vulgar believe the truth it self; and therefore that he would object nothing but what a seri­ous impartial enquirer after the truth, would think fit to be urged as an Objection; nothing but what he thinks true; nothing but he thinks he has reason to think so; nothing but what he is willing to stand by the con­sequences of, if it should be retorted against him; no in­convenience of the thing which he opposes but such as may be greater than the conveniences of it; no reasons but such as may have greater evidence of their truth than those have which are produced for the thing which he opposes; that he would oblige the world with ano­ther Scheme of Principles suited to his own cause, (which may not only solve the Phaenomena accounted for by ours, but may also not be liable to those Objections which he conceives uncapable of a solution by our Hypothesis) rather than only content himself with the Person of an Objector; and that all may be managed with those com­mendable presumptions which all disinterested Persons do commend for the securest guides where the reasonings are less evident, a hearty love of truth, of peace, and of Government, and such a love of these as may be pru­dent, as may secure the practicableness of what they pre­tend to love, without which it is in vain to love, or to pretend to love them.

§ XX IF these things be punctually observed on both sides, there will be many advantages to the common cause, which methinks may prevail with any who wishes well to it, not to be difficult in suffering himself to be per­suaded to observe them. We shall avoid many things [Page xxiv] which the Reader, who is only concerned for the cause, and for his own conscience, will certainly think imper­tinent. We shall on both sides be better qualified for finding the truth, and leave the way more open for mu­tual ingenuity. We shall neither prejudice our Readers nor our selves to judg otherwise than the merit of the cause, and our own convictions of it shall oblige us. We shall intermingle nothing unbecoming the seriousness wherewith matters of this nature ought to be handled. We shall thus be surest to improve the common stock of knowledg with which the world has been hitherto ac­quainted in this matter. I have endeavoured what I was able to observe these things my self in the following Discourse, and shall be willing to be corrected, if I have failed in any of them. The things themselves are so intrinsecally reasonable, as that I cannot doubt but they who are reasonable will readily accept of these conditi­ons, and will withal be so grateful to the unengaged Reader as that even he who were less solicitous for truth, should yet think himself concerned, even to rival me in the glory of observing them. Not to mention that it is indeed more glorious to be overcome by truth than to obtein the cause we contend for.

The general Proposition to be proved in this Work.

1 THAT all are obliged to submit to all unsinful conditions of the Episcopal Communion where they live, if imposed by the Ecclesiastical Governours thereof; 2 and that the nature of this Obligation is such, as will make them who, rather than they will submit to such conditions, either separate themselves, or suffer themselves to be excluded from Communion by such Go­vernours for such a refusal of submission, guilty of the sin of SCHISM.

A Here are two Parts.

I. That all are obliged to submit to all unsinful con­ditions of the Episcopal Communion where they live,α if imposed by the Ecclesiastical Government thereof.

This proved by these two Degrees:

1. That the supposition, of their being less secure of Salvation out of this Episcopal Communion than in it, is sufficient to prove them obliged to submit to all terms, not directly sinful, however unexpedient, ra­ther than separate themselves, or suffer themselves to be excluded, from this Communion. Ch. I. §. 7, 8, 9, 10.

2. That there is indeed less security of salvation to be had even on performance of the moral conditions. of Salvation, out of this Episcopal Communion than in it.

This proved from two things:

(1.) That they cannot be so well assured of their sal­vation in the use of extraordinary as of ordinary [Page] means; nay, that they being left to extraordinaries is a condition either very hazardous, or, at least very un­comfortable at present, whatever it may prove here­after. Ch. II.

(2.) That these ordinary means of Salvation, are, in respect of every particular Person, confined to the Epis­copal Communion of the place he lives in, as long as he lives in it.

This proved from two things.

(I.) That these ordinary means of Salvation are con­fined to the external Communion of the visible Church.

B This proved from four things.

1. We cannot be assured that God will do for us what is necessary for our Salvation on his part, other­wise than by his express Promises that he will do it. Ch. III. §. 1, 2.

2. The ordinary means how we may assure our selves of our interest in his Promises is by our interest in his Co­venant, by which they are conveyed to us. Ch. III. from §. 5. to the end.

3. The only ordinary means, by which we may assure our selves of our interest in this Covenant with him, is by our partaking in these external Solemnities by which this Covenant is transacted and mainteined. Ch. VI, V, VI, VII.

4. The participation in these external Solemnities with any Legal Validity is only to be had in the external Communion of the visible Church. Ch. VIII.

(II.) That this visible Church, to whose external Com­munion these ordinary means of Salvation are confi­ned, is no other than the Episcopal Communion of the place where any one lives, whilest he lives there.

a This proved in both parts.

(1.) That the visible Church to whose external Com­munion these ordinary means of salvation are confined is the Episcopal Communion.

(A) [Page] This proved by these Degrees.

I. That Salvation is not ordinarily to be expected without an external participation of the Sacraments.

1. Negatively, Not by those other popular means which ordinary Persons are apt to trust in to the neglect of the Sacraments, that is,

  • 1. Not by hearing the Word Preached. Ch. IX.
  • 2. Not by private Prayer, nor ind [...]ed by any, out of the Communion of the Church. Ch. X.XI, XII, XIII, XIV.

2. Positively, That Salvation is ordinarily to be ex­pected only by this external participation of the Sa­craments.

  • 1. Proved concerning Baptism. Ch. XV.
  • 2. Concerning the Lords Supper. Ch. XVI, XVII.

(B) II. That the validity of the Sacraments depends on the Authority of the persons by whom they are admi­nistred. Ch. XVIII.

(C) III. No other Ministers have the Authority of admi­nistring the Sacraments but only they who receive their Orders in the Episcopal Communion.

b This proved by four Degrees.

1. That the Authority of administring the Sacra­ments must be derived from God. Ch. XIX.

2. That though it be derived from God, yet it is not so derived without the mediation of those men to whom it was, at first, committed. Ch. XX.

3. That it cannot be so derived from those men to whom it was, at first, committed without a continued succession of Persons orderly receiving Authority from those who had Authority to give it them from those first times of the Apostles to ours at present. Ch. XXI.

4. That this Authority is not now to be expected any where but in the Episcopal Communion. Ch. XXII, XXIII, XXIV, XXV.

[Page] (2.) That the Episcopal Communion to which every particular Person is obliged to joyn himself, as he would enjoy the ordinary means of his own particular salva­tion, is the Episcopal Communion of the place wherein he lives, whilest he lives in it. Ch. XXVI.

II. That the nature of this Obligation to unsinful con­ditions of their Episcopal Communion is such as will make them guilty of the sin of SCHISM, β who, rather than they will submit to such conditions, either separate themselves, or suffer themselves to be excluded from Com­munion by their respective Diocesan Ordinaries. Ch. XXVII.

INTRODUCTION.
THE CONTENTS.

  • The concurrent sence of all, Irreligious as well as Religious, concern­ing the present necessity of our Ecclesiastical peace, and the great mischief of our Ecclesiastical Divisions. §. 1. The management of Religious Controversies with a design of peace, will best an­swer the qualifications of an useful Controvertist. §. 2. It is most agreeable with the most prudent Rules of managing Contro­versies either for finding the truth it self, or, where humane frail­ty might fail of that, for making the error innocent and excusa­ble. §. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. What influence this design of peace would have particularly in those Controversies which are debated between us and our Non-Conforming Brethren. How far the unpeaceable­ness of a Position of this kind may be urged as an Argument of its falshood, and on the contrary. §. 8 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29. That our present undertaking is not unsuitable to the Office of a peace­maker. §. 30, 31, 32. How much the peace of the Church is concerned in this Controversie concerning SCHISM. How dif­ferently the Notion of SCHISM must be stated by them who make the Church a Body Politick, and by them who make it not so. Our Adversaries Notions of SCHISM, and of the duty of a peace­maker, exactly fitted to the supposition of the Churches being no Body Politick, and indeed very rational on that supposition. What is to be thought of the Independent [...]enet of placing all Ec­clesiastical Authority originally in the people, and how far that will clear their practices from the charge of SCHISM. §. 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40. How the Notion of SCHISM must be stated on supposition of the Church's being a Body Poli­tick. §. 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51. An ac­count of the Division of this Work into the Rational and Historical parts. Some intimations concerning the usefulness and design of the Historical. §. 52. page 1.
  • [Page] CHAP. I. 1. That for proving our Obligation to enter into the Communion of the visible Church it is not requisite to prove that we must otherwise be excluded from all hopes of Salvation, but it is abundantly sufficient to make it appear, that we cannot be so well assured of it. This proved as to both parts: 1. As to the Negative, That it is not requisite for this purpose to prove that we must otherwise be excluded from all hopes of Salvation. §. I, II, III, IV, V VI. 2. As to the positive part, That, for pro­ving this Obligation to enter into the external Communion of the visible Church, it is sufficient to shew that, without such an external Communion with it, we cannot so well be assu­red of our Salvation; and that this supposition, of our less security without it, is sufficient to prove us obliged to submit to all terms not directly sinful, however inexpedient, in order to the procuring this external Communion. §. VII, VIII, IX, X. An Application of what has been said in this Chapter to the Adversaries. §. XI, XII. p. 55.
  • CHAP. II. The second Head, That for proving this want of so solid assu­rance of the welfare of particular Persons out of Ecclesiastical Communion as may be had in it, it will be sufficient to shew that, however God may provide for the Salvation of par­ticular Persons, in an extraordinary way, without this exter­nal Communion, yet, that this is a case indeed rare and ex­traordinary, and not easily to be expected, and therefore not to be trusted with any confidence; and that, at least, the ordina­ry means of Salvation are confined to the external Commu­nion of the visible Church. The difference betwixt the ordi­nary and extraordinary means of Salvation. §. I, II, III, IV. The former Head proved in both particulars. 1. That we can­not be so well assured of our Salvation in the use of extraor­dinary, as of ordinary means. The extraordinary means where­by we may be assured of our Salvation are conjectures concern­ing the Divine Uncovenanted goodness. Concerning these it is proved. 1. That the assurance grounded on these conjectures [Page] is not such as can afford any solid comfort to the Person con­cerned. The extreme difficulty of making application of what might be concluded from this Divine Uncovenanted goodness to particular cases. §. V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X. The particu­lars necessary for assurance in this case are such as God is not obli­ged to by his Uncovenanted goodness. §. XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI.XVII. 2. The comfort that might otherwise have been expected from these conjectures is not comparable to that which may be had from those general ordinary means which God hath provided for by express Revelation. This proved by three Degrees. §. XVIII, XIX, XX, XXI, XXII. 3. These expe­ctations from extraordinaries not seasonable in our Adversaries case who might obtein the ordinary means by concessions not sin­ful. §. XXIII. 4. The relief by extraordinary pretences to Gods Uncovenanted goodness must needs be rendred more difficult since the establishment of ordinaries. §. XXIV, XXV, XXVI, XXVII. p. 66.
  • CHAP. III. The ordinary means whereby we may be assured of Salvation must be promises conveyed to us in a Legal way by the Solemnities of a Covenant. §. I, II. 2. The ordinary means of Salvation, at least, whereby we may be satisfied of it, and receive any comfort from it, are confined to the external Communion of the visible Church; and that the Episcopal Church under whose Jurisdi­ction any one lives is that visible Church out of which these ordi­nary means of Salvation are not to be bad by any whilest he lives under that Jurisdiction. This to be proved in two Parts: 1. That these ordinary means of Salvation are confined to the ex­ternal Communion of the visible Church. §. III, IV. This proved by three Degrees: 1. The ordinary means whereby we may assure our selves that we in particular have any interest in the Divine Promises is by assuring our selves that we in particular are in Covenant with God. §. V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX. p. 89.
  • CHAP. IV. 2. The only ordinary means whereby we may assure our selves of our interest in this Covenant is by our partaking in the external So­lemnities [Page] whereby this Covenant is transacted and mainteined. This cleared in two particulars: 1. That the partaking of these external Solemnities of initiation into, and maintenance of, this Evangelical Covenant is the only ordinary means of procuring and mainteining a Legal interest in it. §. I, II. An Objecti­on urged and Answered. The Assertion proved from Gods actu­al establishment. §. III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI. The same proved from the reason of the thing. 1. God is con­cerned to take care that these external Solemnities be punctually observed as he is a Covenanter. §. XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII, XXIV, XXV, XVI. p. 109.
  • CHAP. V. 2. God is also concerned to see the same external Solemnities obser­ved as he is a Governour. 1. He is as a Governour concerned to confederate us into a Body Politick. 1. That he may thus se­ [...]ure the performance of his own will. The great usefulness of the distinction betwixt God as a Governour and as a Covenanter. §. I, II, III. The forementioned point proved. §. IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X. 2. That it may thus appear, even to men, that his will is performed by us because it is his will. How necessary this is for Government. How necessary a visible Society is for making this appear to others. §. XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV. 2. He is, as a Governour, concerned to oblige us to the performance of our Duty by such means as may prove most likely to prevail with us for its actual performance. §. XVI, XVII, XVIII. p. 131.
  • CHAP. VI. Both the ends now mentioned concerning God as a Governour are more likely to be atteined by admitting us to the benefits of the Covenant by the external Solemnities of it than otherwise. §. I. 1. That of confederating us into a Body Politick. A short account of the usefulness of the whole Hypothesis promoted in this discourse for this purpose. §. II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII, XXIV, XXV. 2. That of securing our performance of Duty. §. XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX, XXX, XXXI, XXXII, XXXIII. p. 138,
  • [Page]CHAP. VII. 2. That, at least, our partaking in the external Solemnities of this Evangelical Covenant is the only ordinary means whereby we may be satisfied of our title to the Covenant it self. §. I, II. This proved by three Degrees: 1. That, for our satisfaction, it is requisite that we have positive Arguments for us, as well as that there appear no positive Arguments against us. §. III, IV, V, VI, VII. 2. That no Arguments can comfort but such as may exter­nally appear, and so be capable of being judged of by the Per­sons concerned. §. VIII. 3. Our partaking of the external So­lemnities of the Covenant, is, at least the only Argument appear­ing to us whereby we can be assured of any Legal title to the bene­fits of it. §. IX, X, XI, XII. A further presumption for pro­ving the same thing. §. XIII. p. 156.
  • CHAP. VIII. 3. The participation in these external Solemnities, with any legal validity, is only to be had in the external Communion of the visible Church. §. I. The Church as taken for the body of the Elect uncapable of being communicated with externally. §. II, III. That all things here contrived are exactly fitted for a visible Church, and no other. §. IV, V. p. 163.
  • CHAP. IX. 2. That, in reference to the duty of particular Persons, the visible Church, wherein they may expect to find these ordinary means, is the Episcopal in opposition to all other Societies not Episcopally governed; and particularly that Episcopal Communion under whose Jurisdiction the Persons are supposed to live. §. I. 1. The Episcopal Communion in opposition to all other Societies not Epi­scopally governed is that visible Church to whose external Com­munion these ordinary means of grace are confined. This proved by several degrees. §. II. 1. The ordinary means of grace are now confined to the Sacraments. Two things premised. The former. §. III, IV. The later. §. V. The thing to be proved. §. VI. Proved two ways: 1. Exclusively, of other means of [Page] gaining that Grace which is necessary to Salvation besides the Sa­crament. §. VII, VIII. 1. Of the Word Preached. Some things premised. §. IX, X, XI, XII. 1. Much of the Grace con­veyed by the Word Preached in the Primitive times was undoubt­edly proper to those times, and not fit to be expected now. §. XIII, XIV, XV. 2. There were reasons proper to those times why such Grace might be expected then, which will not hold now, for the conviction of the Persons who then received the Spirit. §. XVI. 3. There were also other proper reasons necessary for the conviction of those with whom they had to deal. §. XVII. 4. That Grace which might otherwise have been expected in attending on the Word Preached, is yet not so probably to be expected in the Preaching of Persons unauthorized; especially if they Preach in opposition to those who are Legally invested with Spiritual Authority. §. XVIII, XIX. 5. It is yet further doubtful whether the Grace, which which may now be ordinarily expected at any Preaching whatsoe­ver, be so great as to be able to supply the want of Sacraments, at least so great, as to secure the Salvation of those who enjoy this Ordinance whilest they want the Sacraments? §. XX XXI. 6. It is also very doubtful, whether all the Grace which is supposed to accompany the Word Preached be any more than what is neces­sary to dispose the Auditors to receive and believe the truth of the Doctrines Preached to them? or whether there be any the least ground to believe that they shall there receive that further Assistance which is necessary to help them to practise what they have thus recei­ved and believed? §. XXII, XXIII, XXIV. 7. This first Grace of persuasion, if we suppose it alone to accompany the Word Preached, will fully answer the design of the Word Preach­ed. § XXV. 8. The Grace here received seems to be only some actual influences of the Spirit (which wicked men may receive whilest they continue so, and which therefore cannot alone be thought sufficient for Salvation) not the Person of the Divine Spirit him­self. §. XXVI. p. 166.
  • CHAP. X. The exclusive Part proved. 2. as to Prayer, That neither this alone, nor the Grace which may be expected in the use of it, are sufficient for Salvation without the Sacraments. The Objection proposed, §. I, II. The Answer. 1. That no Prayers can expect accep­tance with God but such as suppose the use of the ordinary means, [Page] and consequently of the Sacraments if they should prove such. §. III. 2. No Prayers can expect acceptance which are offered by a sinner, continuing in the state of sin, even at the same time when he offers them. §. IV. 3. It is more to be considered what is the ordinary means appointed by God, than what is ordinarily observed by the best and wisest men. §. V. 4. It is no way safe for us to venture on our own Judgments, concerning the design of God in instituting the Sacraments, to neglect them. This proved by several degre [...]. It is hard to know the true design of the Sacraments §. VI. They are not sure that raising Devotion by the sensible representa­tions was the principal design of these Sacraments. §. VII. They cannot assure themselves that this use of the sensible representations was the only, or the principal end of the Sacraments. §. VIII. Though they were sure of these things, yet they have no reason whereby to be assured that God will be pleased with their taking upon them to judg of his designs, and by that means allowing them­selves the liberty of paying their obedience at their own discretion. §. IX. 5. Another design of the Sacraments has been proved, the confederating Subjects into a Body Politick, and the obliging Subjects in it to a dependence on their Governours. It is no way convenient that any should be excused from these establishments up­on pretences to perfection. They who were really perfect would not make this use of such pretences for their own sake. §. X. They would not do it for the sake of the publick. §. XI, XII, XIII. They would not do it on account of the Divine actual establish­ment, and the Divine assistances conveyed by the Sacraments, which are necessary for perfection of the Person. §. XIV. And of his Prayer. §. XV. 6. The Scripture no where allows such a degree of Perfection atteinable in this life, as can in reason excuse from the reason of the Obligation to Ecclesiastical Assemblies. All Members of the Church need the gifts of each other. §. XVI. They need particularly those gifts which belong to Government. §. XVII. All the other Members need the Head, which cannot be understood of Christ, but of Persons eminently gifted. §. XVIII. This Head not a Head of Dignity only, but also of influence, and Authority. §. XIX. Though they needed not the gifts of others, yet they are obliged to joyn themselves in Ecclesiastical Societies, in regard of the good they may do to others. They are obliged to this as Platonists, and as Christians. §. XX. p. 191.
  • [Page]CHAP. XI. 7. The Scripture gives us no encouragement to believe that any Prayers shall be heard which are made out of the Communion of the Church, or even in the behalf of those that are so, ex­cepting those which are made for their Conversion. This pro­ved from St. John who was the only Apostle who lived to see the case of separation. §. I. St. Joh. xvii.9. §. II. Where by being given to Christ is meant a being given by external Professi­on §. III. By the World all they are meant who were out of the visible Society of the Professors of the Christian Doctrine. §. IV, V. They are said to be in the World purely for this reason, be­cause they did not keep to the Society of the Church. §. VI. The same thing proved from 1 St. Joh. v. concerning the sin unto Death. The Argument according to the Alexandrian MS. §. VII. According to the vulgar reading. The sin unto Death is leaving the Orthodox Party. § VIII, IX, X, XI. The same thing pro­ved from 2 St. Joh. 10, 11. §. XII. Pardon possible for Per­sons out of the Church's Communion upon their admission into it, according to the Doctrine of those times, but much more difficult for Relapsers than others. The later part proved from 2 Pet. ii.21. §. XIII. And from Heb x.25, 26, 27. §. XIV, XV. And from Heb. xii.15, 17. 1 Joh. v.16. §. XVI. And from other Argu­ments. §. XVII, XVIII. The actual practice of the Primitive Church not to pray for spiritual benefits for those who were not actual Members of the Church's Communion. §. XIX, XX. An Application of what has been said. §. XXI. Obj. That these things are spoken of a total relapse from Christianity, not from one party of Christians to another. §. XXII. That Life was properly ascribed to the true Christ as the Messias according to the Notions of the ordinary Jews. §. XXIII and according to the sense of the generality of the first Converts to Christianity. That the [...] was thought to be the proper Principle of Life. §. XXIV. That the Messias as Messias was to be the [...] also. §. XXV. Answ. 1. It were well our Brethren would allow the same candor in expounding other Texts produced by them as they do in these pro­duced against them. §. XXVI. 2. It is not likely that the Anti­christs of those times did generally deny the true Christ to be so. §. XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX. 3. Whatever the occasion was, [Page] yet the reasoning used in those disputes is to prove their being sepa­rated from Christ from their being separated from the external Communion of the visible Church. §. XXX. p. 212.
  • CHAP. XII. 8. This very pretence of absteining from the external Ordinances under the pretence of Perfection seems to have been taken up, even in those Primitive Ages. The Philosophical N [...]tions of those Ages concerning the worship of the Supreme Deity. §. I. How this Hypothesis was received first into the Elective Philoso­phy, thence taken up by the Hellenistical Jews and from them to the first Converts to Christianity. §. II. The several reason­ings of the Primitive Christians that might make them, in interest, favourable to this Hypothesis. §. III. Particularly their pre­tending to a Mystical Priesthood might make them less solicitous for their dependence on the Levitical external Priesthood. §. IV. Instances of several like mistakes of those times in reasoning from Mystical titles. §. V. How the Genius of this Philosophy has inclined men to this way of reasoning, wherever it has prevailed, even among our modern Enthusiasts. §. VI. Inference 1. That what the Apo­stles did resolve in this particular, they did resolve with a particular design upon our Adversaries case. §. VII. That the prudential establishments of the Apostles are sufficiently secure. §. VIII. Inf. 2. Hence may appear the insecurity of this way of arguing in general, from Mystical Titles to the neglect of external Obser­vances. §. IX, X, Inf. 3. It plainly appears to have been a­gainst the design of the Legislator in the very case of the Jews from whom the Christians borrowed it. §. XI. Inf. 4. That the whole contrivance of things by the Apostles plainly supposes that they did also not allow of this plea for excusing any from the publick ordi­nances. §. XII. Inf. 5. The Philosophers themselves never in­tended this plea for their exemption from the Mysteries and exter­nal Rites of Initiation then used, to which the Sacraments are an­swerable among Christians. §. XIII, XIV. Inf. 6. The great design of this way of arguing was to excuse themselves from pay­ing any external worship to the supreme being, and so destru­ctive to the very foundation of the Christian Religion. §. XV. And this very rationally on the Hypothesis then received. §. XVI. But the reason of this Argument does not hold against those exteri­tors [Page] which are observed by the Christian institution. §. XVII. It is very probable that our Adversaries case is particularly spoken to in Heb. x.22, 23. §. XVIII. p. 247.
  • CHAP. XIII. Lastly, This sin of withdrawing from the publick Assemblies, on any pretence whatsoever, is highly condemned in the Scrip­tures, and the condition of Persons guilty of it is described as extremely dangerous. §. I. This proved from Heb. vi. The design of the sacred Authors in those kinds of discourses is to warn the Persons with whom they had to deal, against Lap [...]s, not, from a good Life, but, from the true Communion. §. II.III. This proved particularly to be the design of this place. Illumination put for Baptism, both because of the interest Baptism gave them in Christ who was the true Light. §. IV. And in regard of the visible Glory which then seems to have accompanied Baptism, in which regard this title was more likely to have been taken up in the Apostles Age than afterwards. §. V. How properly this title was given it as a lesser Purgative Mystery. Fire the most Purgative Element, §. VI. And that by which the Purgativeness of our Sa­viours Baptism had been before particularly described. §. VII. The other Expressions of this Text applied to Baptism. §. VIII. That separating from the visible Communion of the Church was a breach of their Baptismal Obligations proved from the de­sign of the Baptisms of those times. Baptism a solemnity of ad­mission into their Schools, and an obligation to adhere to the Master. §. IX. And not only to the first Masters, but to the law­ful Successors to their Chairs. §. X. The dishonour to Christ by falling away mentioned in the Text to be understood only inter­pretatively. How this was proper to the Case of Desertors in those times. §. XI, XII. How it is applicable to our present Adversa­ries. §. XIII. The punishment of this crime mentioned in the Text. §. XIV. The Application of this also to our present Adver­saries. §. XV. What it is to baptize in the name of the Spi­rit. §. XVI, XVII. What is meant by the impossibility to r [...]new the Lapsers here spoken of. §. XVIII. An Objection. §. XIX. Answered. §. XX. Application to our present Adversaries. §. XXI, XXII. p. 267.
  • [Page]CHAP. XIV. The danger of the sin of separation and the difficulty of its pardon­ableness are very prudent and lawful reasons for bearing with a lesser sin that is more easily pardonable. §. I, II. What is meant by grieving Gods Spirit, and how it comes to be unpardonable. §. III, IV. Two influences of the Spirit resisted by the Israe­lites. §. V. This applied to the state of the Gospel. How the Christians were likely to understand these things according to the Mystical way of expounding the Old Testament which prevailed among them. §. VI. Our Saviour used herein a way of speaking notorious to the Jews. §. VII. Grieving the Spirit the same with grieving of Christ. §. VIII. 1. As to the testimony which the Spirit gave him by miracles. §. IX. How our Saviours threatning was fulfilled. §. X. The sin against the Holy Ghost a resisting of the Gospel-Dispensation. §. XI. 2. Murdering of the Pro­phets a sin against the Holy Ghost as he is particularly a Spirit of Prophesie. §. XII. This particularly applied to our Saviour and the state of the Gospel. §. XIII. 3. Resisting the influ­ences of the Holy Ghost in us. Applied to the Jews. §. XIV. to the Christians. §. XV. According to the Hellenistical Philoso­phy. §. XVI, XVII, XVIII. 4. Resisting the Government of the Church which was then ordered by the Spirit. §. XIX. Se­paration from the Canonical Assemblies of the Church a sin a­gainst the Holy Ghost. §. XX. Concerning the punishment of this sin against the Holy Ghost, and the way of arguing used by the Writers of the New-Testament from Old-Testament prece­dents. §. XXI, XXII. p. 294.
  • CHAP. XV. 2. Directly, That Salvation is not ordinarily to be expected without Sacraments. §. I. This proved, 1. concerning Bap­tism. 1. By those Texts which imply the dependence of our Sal­vation on Baptism. 1. Such as speak of the Graces of Bap­tism. §. II. 1. The Spirit of God is said to be given in Bap­tism, and so given as that he who is not baptized cannot be sup­posed to have it. §. III. The Spirit it self is absolutely necessary to Salvation, as to his actual influences. §. IV. as to his con­stant [Page] presence as a living and abiding Principle. §. V. That the Spirit is first given in Baptism. This proved from our new Birth's being ascribed to our Baptism. §. VI. It is safe to argue from Metaphorical expressions in a matter of this nature. St. Joh. iii.5. considered. §. VII. Water to be understood in this place Literally. §. VIII. These words might relate to our Saviours Baptism. §. IX. The Objection concerning the sup­posed parallel place of baptizing with the Holy Ghost and with fire. §. X. The fire here spoken of a material fire, and contra­distinct to the Holy Ghost. §. XI. Our Saviours baptizing with the Holy Ghost and with fire as well applicable to our Saviours or­dinary baptism as to that of the Apostles at Pentecost §. XII. The true reason why this descent of the Holy Ghost in Pentecost, is called a Baptism, was because it was a consummation of their former Baptism by Water. §. XIII. The reason why this part of their Baptism was deferred so long. §. XIV. Other instan­ces wherein the Holy Ghost was given distinctly from the Baptism by Water. §. XV, XVI, XVII. Our Saviour alluded herein to the Jewish Notions concerning Baptismal Regeneration. §. XVIII. What the Rabbinical Notions are. §. XIX. How agreeable to the Doctrine of the New-Testament. §. XX. The Notions of the Hellenistical Jews, and of the Philosophers. §. XXI, XXII, XXIII. How imitated by our Saviour. §. XXIV. An Obje­ction. §. XXV. Answered. §. XXVI, XXVII. 2. Grace of Baptism, forgiveness of sins. §. XXVIII, XXIX, XXX. That unbaptized Persons cannot be supposed to have received the benefits of the washing of the blood of Christ, or of the Mystical Baptism, proved from two things: 1. That all who would be Christians are obliged to receive even the Baptism by Water. §. XXXI. 2. That every one who comes to Baptism is supposed to continue till then under the guilt of his sins. §. XXXII, XXXIII, XXXIV, XXXV. 2. The same dependence of Sal­vation on Baptism proved from those Texts which speak of the Pri­viledges of Baptism. §. XXXVI. The same thing proved 2. from those Texts which expresly ascribe our Salvation to our Baptism. §. XXXVII. A sum of the Argument from 1 Pet. iii.21. §. XXXVIII. from other Texts. §. XXXIX. The Appli­cation, §. XL. p. 321.
  • [Page]CHAP. XVI. Things to be premised. §. I. 1. That this dependence on the Epi­scopal Communion for a valid Baptism will alone suffice, so far, for my purpose, as to discourage the perpetuating any opposite Communion. §. II, III, IV. Inference 1. That, if this were granted, even the absteining of pious Persons from the lawful Communion would be very rare. §. V. Inf. 2. That, even those few pious Persons who, after all diligence used to inform them­selves, and all lawful condescensions, could not submit to the terms of the lawful Communion, would yet never perpetuate so much as their Non-Communion. §. VI, VII. 2. Premisal, That it cannot be expected that this Sacrament of the Lords Supper should be as necessary as that of Baptism. §. VIII. The necessity of the Lords Supper to Salvation proved from the Mystical style by which this whole matter is expressed in the Scripture. And that by these degrees: 1. The Life of particular Members of the Mystical Body of Christ is in the Scripture supposed to depend on a constant repetition of vital influences from the common vital Principle, as the Life of particular Members in the Natural Bo­dy does. §. X. 2. The Scripture also supposes the Life of par­ticular Members to depend as much on their conjunction with the whole Mystical Body, in order to their receiving these repeated influences, as the Life of particular Members in the natural Body depends on their conjunction with the whole natural Body. §. X. 3. The Church with which it was supposed so necessary for particular Members to be united in order to their participation of this Spiritual Life is plainly supposed to be the Church in this World, and that visible Society of them which joyned in the same publick exercises of Religion in that Age when these things were written. §. XI, XII. 4. The Reasons used by the Sacred Writers for this purpose are such as concern the Church as a Church, and so as suitable to the later Ages of the Church as those earlier ones wherein they were used first. §. XIII. 5. In order to this Mystical Union with the Church it is absolutely ne­cessary as far as an ordinary means can be so, that we partake of the Lords Supper. This proved from 1 Cor. x.17. §. XIV. The same thing proved from the true design of the Eucharist right­ly explained. This done by these degrees. 1. The design of our [Page] Saviour seems to have been the Mystical [...] so much spoken of in the Philosophy then received as the peculiar Office of the [...]. 2. In this Union the reason of our being in Christ is his being in us. 3. Two things, according to the Scripture, to be distinguish­ed in Christ, his Flesh and Spirit, and in both regards we are con­cerned that he be united to us. §. XV. 4. There are very mate­rial reasons why our Saviour should require this bodily Union in contradistinction to the Spiritual, viz. the benefits which our Bodies in contradistinction to our Spirits may receive by it: 1. That by this Corporal Union with Christ we may be made sensible of the interest he has in our Bodies, and of our Obligation to serve him with our Bodies, and to abstein from those sins which are seated in the Body. The great necessity of this in that Age. §. XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX, XX. 2. That by this means they might be assured of the Resurrection of their Bodies. §. XXI. 5. Therefore, according to the Practices and Conceptions then prevailing, the Eucharist was the most proper means whereby this Bodily Union with Christ could have been contrived, whether it be considered, 1. as a Sacrifice, and that either as an ordinary Sacrifice. §. XXII, XXIII, XXIV. Or as a Federal Sacrifice. §. XXV. Or, 2. as a Mystery, and this of the greatest sort. The likeness between the Heathen Mysteries and the Blessed Sacrament. The Mysteries were Commemorative, and that generally of the sufferings of their Gods. §. XXVI. They were performed by external Sym­bols. Particularly Bread was a Sacred Symbol of Unity. Ob­served in the Rites of Mithras, among the Pythagoraeans. §. XXVII, XXVIII. In the ancient way of marriage by Con­farreation, and in Truces. §. XXIX. And among the Jews. §. XXX. The Mysteries designed particularly for the good of the Soul, and that in the state of Separation. §. XXXI. In the Mysteries they were obliged to Confession of sins, and to under­take new Rules of living well. §. XXXII. In the Mysteries it was usual to change the Names of the things used in them with­out any thoughts of a change of Nature. §. XXXIII. 6. Ʋpon these Principles, and according to the nature of these Mystical con­trivances▪ this Bodily Union may very well be supposed to be made by our Saviours changing the Name of Bread into that of his own Body. §. XXXIV, XXXV, XXXVI. p.352.
  • [Page]CHAP. XVII. It is probable that our Saviour spake the words in St. Joh. vi. with relation to the Sacrament which he was to institute. §. I. It is probable that St. John also understood and designed them so. §. II. Being so understood they agree very well with the account of the de­sign of this Sacrament already given. §. III. The meaning of the signs expected from Prophets. §. IV. Manna the sign of Moses, which our Saviour designed to imitate in giving the Bread here spoken of. §. V. An account from the Hellenistical Philo­phy of those times how the Bread given by our Saviour is called the true Bread. §. VI, VII. Mystical Manna understood by Phi­lo of the ΛΟΓΟΣ §. VIII. The Bread given by our Saviour Bodily as well as Mystical. §. IX. The way of reasoning in the New-Testament from Mystical Expositions of the Old. §. X. The prudence of this way of reasoning. §. XI. The course this way of reasoning obliged them to in proving the Christian Sacra­ments. §. XII, XIII. The Ideal Manna communicated to us by the Eucharistical Bread. §. XIV. The consequent danger of want­ing this Eucharistical Bread. §. XV. The usefulness of the method here proposed for understanding this, and many other like places in the New-Testament. Submission to Superiors. §. XVI. p. 389.
  • CHAP. XVIII. 2. The validity of the Sacraments depends on the Authority of the Persons by whom they are administred. This Assertion explain­ed. §. I, II, III, IV. Proved by these degrees. 1. The Spiritu­al advantages of the Sacraments are not immediately conveyed in the external Participation of them. §. V, VI. 2. The reason of this holds not only in acts of Authority, that no Authority can be derived from God unless the Persons pretending in his Name to give it be Authorized by him to give it, but also in deeds of gi [...]t. §. VII. 3. There is much less reason to expect that God should perform what is done in his Name by such Unauthorized Persons than to expect it from ordinary Governours. §. VIII. 4. The case we are now speaking of is such as where it does not oblige him to performance, will oblige God to punish such Usur­pers of his Authority. §. IX. It will oblige him as a private [Page] Person §. X. It will oblige him as a Governour. §. XI. The heinousness of sins against Authority. §. II. An infe­rence by way of Application. §. XIII. 5. All these Reasons will particularly hold in those places where these Usurpations are in danger of proving injurious to the rights, even of subordinate Governours, that is in a place already possessed. §. XIV. How God as Supreme Governour is concerned for the honour of the Supreme visible Governours. §. XV, XVI. This honour due to inferior Governours impossible to be preserved if Subjects be al­lowed the liberty of setting up opposite Societies as often as they are of another mind, and of perpetuating such disorders by the validity of what they do in such their Usurpations. §. XVII, XVIII. It is inconsistent with Government that Subjects should be allowed to r [...]fuse their duty in case of inevidence against a pre­sumptive title. This proved in two particulars: §. XIX. 1. It is necessary for the security of visible Government, as such, that a presumptive title be not rejected, but on very evident proofs to the contrary. §. XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII▪ XX▪ V, XXV. 2. The failures of this presumptive title in those who were at present pos­sessed of the Government cannot justifie the like Usurpation in them who should discover it. §. XXVI. It cannot secure their doings from a Nullity. §. XXVII. It cannot secure their Per­sons from a crime which may oblige God to take the uttermost ad­vantage which the Legal invalidity of their proceedings might af­ford him. §. XXVIII. The case proposed concerning the assu­ming an Authority to administer the Sacraments in a desolate Island. How impertinent this is to our Adversaries case, and therefore how little temptation we have to be partial in answering it. §. XXIX. Answer. §. XXX. Their Persons could not be excused from presumption. §. XXXI. Their proceedings could not be secured from Nullity. §. XXXII. p. 404.
  • CHAP. XIX. 3. No other Ministers have this Authority of administring the Sa­craments but only they who receive their Orders in the Episcopal Communion. This proved by several degrees. §. I. 1. he Authority of administring the Sacraments must be derived from God. Explained. §. II. The importance of this Proposition. §. III. Though this were not proved, yet our Adversaries practices are [Page] unjustifiable by the Principles of Government in general. §. IV. As they were at first unjustifiable by the Principles of Government, so they can plead nothing which may make that justifiable now which was then unjustifiable. They cannot plead a lawful pre­scription. §. V. If they could, yet this Proposition will cut them off from pleading it against God. §. VI, VII, VIII. The Pro­position proved, 1. From the reason of the thing. §. IX. This performed by two degrees: 1. It is God alone that has the right of disposing the Spiritual benefits here conveyed §. X, XI, XII. The reason of the Adversaries mistakes. §. XIII. 2. It is none but he that can give Possession of them. §. XIV. 2. From the actual establishment of God. No such Authority actually con­ferred upon the people. §. XV, XVI, XVII. The weakness of the Argument from bare Primitive precedent for proving a right conferred shew [...] from the many condescensions of those times, and the prudence of the reasons that required them. §. XVIII, XIX, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII▪ XXIV, XXV. The unreason­ableness of this way of arguing▪ §. XXVI. There were then circumstances proper to that Age which required particular con­descension. §. XXVII. Though the Negative Argument be not good, yet the Positive is, that the actual claim of Governours then is a good Presumption that they had a right to the Power so claimed by them. §. XXVIII. Persons extraordinarily gifted at length made subject to the ordinary Governours of the Church. §. XXIX, XXX, XXXI. This derivation of Power rather from Governours than from the People agreeable to those Pre­cedents whom the Primitive Christians were m [...]st likely to imi­tate. §. XXXII▪ XXXIII, XXXIV, XXXV. A way proposed for accommodating the several interests concerned in Ordinations according to the practice of those times. §. XXXVI, XXXVII. The Apostles unlikely to confer this right of Government on the People, if left by God to their own Liberty, according to the No­tions which then prevailed among the Christians. §. XXXVIII. Remarks tending to the satisfaction of the lovers of Truth and Peace: 1. This way of arguing from the actual establishments of God, as it is much more modest, so it is also more secure for finding out the right of Government, than any conjectures we can make from the reason of the thing. §. XXXIX, XL. 2. Though the People had this inherent right of Government originally, yet it cannot exclude a right of God who may, when be [Page] pleases, resume this right into his own hands. §. XLI. 3. If the people ever had such a right originally, yet all that has been done since for alienating that right which could be done. §. XLII. p. 423.
  • CHAP. XX. 2. This Authority of administring the Sacraments must be derived from God by the Mediation of those men to whom it was at first committed by him. The Negative to be proved, That none can be presumed to have a call from God without, at least, an appro­bation from the Supreme visible Governours. §. I. 1. It is, in reason, and by the Principles of visible Government, requi­site that this Negative be granted for the Conviction of false Pretenders to a Power received from God. 1. It is necessary that Pretenders should be discovered. §. II, III, IV. 2. It is also requisite that the means of discovering Pretenders be notori­ous to all, even to ordinary capacities. §. V, VI. 3. These notorious means for discovering Pretenders must be common to all Ages of the Church, not proper only to that of the Apo­stles. §. VII. 4. Hence it follows that God left them to the same ordinary means of judging concerning the right of Spiritual Go­vernours as had been used in judging concerning the right of their temporal Superiors. §. VIII, IX. 5. By this Rule of judging concerning Spiritual right the same way as we judg concerning temporal, none can be presumed to have this Power, but they who have received it from them to whom it was at first commit­ted. §. X, XI. 6. This Inference will especially hold when access to the Supreme is most difficult. §. XII, XIII. This is the case of Ecclesiastical Government. §. XIV. Application to the Prin­ciples of a Modern Writer. §. XV, XVI. 2. Our Brethren must be obliged, in equity, to grant this way, because they cannot pitch on a more certain way for the tryal of Pretenders. §. XVII. 1. They cannot do it by deriving their Authority from God immediately. §. XVIII, XIX, XX. 2. They cannot do it by pretending to receive their Authority im­mediately from the Scriptures independently on the Act of their ordinary Superiors. §. XXI. An Objection answered. §. XXII. p. 438.
  • [Page]CHAP. XXI. 3. This Ecclesiastical Authority cannot be derived from those men to whom it was at first committed, to the Age we live in, without a continued Succession of Persons orderly receiving Authority from th [...]se who had Authority to give it them. §. I. 1. This Authority could not be derived from the Apostles themselves to any beyond their own times: Neither by their own Persons, nor by their deed of Gift, nor by their Writings. §. II. 2. It hence follows that the only way they could use for conveying this Autho­rity to others, after their decease, must be by appointing sufficient Substitutes who might act for them after their departure. §. III. 3. The same reasons which prove it impossible for the Apostles to convey this Power to any who did not live in their own Age do al­so prove it impossible for any of their Successors to do so. §. IV, V. 4. This Negative Argument will only hold concerning the only substitutes of the Apostles, and concerning them it will hold, That they who have not received Power from them who are alone substi­tuted by the Apostles to convey their power to others, cannot at all receive any power from the Apostles. §. VI, VII, VIII, IX. 5. That this Negative Argument applied to any particular Age will hold concerning the only substitutes remaining in that par­ticular Age. Bishops were the only substitutes of the Apostles then remaining when our Brethren began their Innovations. §. X. p. 476.
  • CHAP. XXII. 4. The Authority of administring the Sacraments is not now to be expected any where but in the Episcopal Communion. §. I. Hence it follows that all the Authority which can be pretended in any other form of Government now, must be derived from the Episcopal Government of that Age wherein that form first be­gan. §. II. The first Dividers of the several parties had never a Power given them of ordeining others by them who made them Presbyters. §. III, IV. 1. They have actually received no more Power from God than they have received from their Ordei­ners. §. V. 2. They have actually received no more from their Ordeiners than what their Ordeiners did actually intend to give them, according to their presumable intention. §. VI. 3. That [Page] is to be presumed likely to be the intention of their Ordeiners which may be presumed likely to be thought becoming by Persons in their circumstances. §. VII. 4. The securest way of judging what the Bishops, who first ordeined these Dividers, thought be­coming must be by the Notions then prevailing when these first Dividers were ordeined. §. VIII. p. 483.
  • CHAP. XXIII. The Objection concerning the Opinion prevailing in the modern Schools that Bishops and Presbyters differed not in Order but Degree. Answ. 1. It seems rather to have been Interest than Conscience that inclined men to the belief of this Opinion. This cleared from a short History of this Opinion. §. I, II, III, IV, V. Answ. 2. Though this Opinion had been received more uni­versally than it appears it was, by the Multitude, yet it is not like­ly that it would be so received by the Bishops, upon whose intenti­on the validity of the Orders conferred by them must depend. §. VI. Answ. 3. Though the Bishops of those Ages had been universally of this Opinion, yet it does not thence follow that they must have given the Presbyters ordeined by them the Power of or­deining others. It does not follow from the Notions of those times. §. VII. Nor from the reason of the thing. §. VIII.IX. The Principles on which these Persons proceeded in making on [...] Or­der of Episcopacy and Presbytery did not oblige them to believe that the Power of ordeining others was a right of simple Pres­byters. §. X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV. Answ. 4. They who then held this Opinion, did, in all likelihood, neither intend, nor think of, any consequence from it prejudicial to the establishments then received. §. XV, XVI. p. 491.
  • CHAP. XXIV. This supposition, That the Bishops had the right of Presiding over Ecclesiastical Assemblies sufficient for our purpose. §. I. 1. In regard of that Power which must be granted due to him, even as President. This proved by these degrees: 1. Even by the Prin­ciples of Aristocratical Government, no Power can be given but by the act of that Body wherein the right of Government is originally seated. §. II. 2. No act can be presumed to be the [Page] act of that Body but what has passed them in their publick As­semblies. §. III. 3. No Assemblies can dispose of the right of such Societies but such as are Lawful ones according to the con­stitutions of the Societies. §. IV, V. 4. The Indiction of the Assembly by the President is a right consequent to the Office of a President as a President, and a circumstance requisite to make the Assembly it self Lawful. §. VI, VII. 5. The Bishops have always been the Presidents of Ecclesiastical Assemblies, even as high as our Adversaries themselves do grant the practice of Presi­ding Presbyters. §. VIII, IX. This invalidates the Orders of our Adversaries. §. X. This was a right which no Bishops, how great Assertors soever of the Identity of their Order with that of Presbyters, ever did renounce. or could renounce, without making their Government unpracticable. §. XI. Though the Bishops had received their Power from their Election by men, yet that would not suffice to make valid any acts of the same men without their consent after their Election. §. XII, XIII. This right of Presidency might hold, though the whole right of their Power had been purely Humane. §. XIV. But supposing that right Di­vine, all that men can do can be only to determine the Person, not to confine the Power. The reasoning here used will proceed though Bishops had been made by Presbyters alone without the concurrence and consecration of other Bishops. §. XV. The Primitive Bishops seem indeed to have been made so by Presby­ters without Bishops. §. XVI. p. 508.
  • CHAP. XXV. 2. The Nullity of the same Ordinations proved even from the Prin­ciples of Aristocratical Government, from the right which E­piscopal Presbyteries ought to have in giving Orders as they are considered as Presbyteries. §. I, II. This proved by these de­grees: Though a Presbyter, when he is once made, is a Pres­byter in the Catholick Church, yet the reason that makes him so is the correspondence of the whole Catholick Church with that particular one of which he was made a Member at his Ordinati­on. §. III, IV, V, VI. 2. Hence it follows that he who cannot validly make out his Authority in the particular Church in whith he pretends to have received his Orders, cannot, in reason, ex­pect that the Exercise of his Authority should be ratified in other [Page] Churches who cannot thus be satisfied that he has received them. §. VII. 3. The Church, by which the validity of the Orders of every particular Presbyter must expect to be tryed, must not be a Church that derives its beginning from him, but such a one as must be supposed settled and established before he could be capable of any pretensions to Orders. Applied to single Presbyters. §. VIII. To whole Presbyteries made up of over-voted single Presbyters. §. IX, X, XI. 4. No Orders can be presumed to have been va­lidly received in any particular Episcopal Church as Presbyteri­an without the prevailing suffrages of the Presbyteries. §. XII. A smaller over voted number of Presbyters cannot validly di­spose of the common rights of the whole Presbyteries. §. XIII, XIV, XV. The Power given in the Ordination of a Pres­byter is a right of the Presbytery in common, by the Principles of Aristocratical Government. §. XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX, An Objection Answered. §. XX, XXI, XXII. Another Obje­ction. Answered. §. XXIII, XXIV. Retorted. §. XXV. The reason of the Retortion given. §. XXVI. p. 525.
  • CHAP. XXVI. 2. The Episcopal Communion to which every one is obliged to joyn himself, as he would secure the ordinary means of his own par­ticular Salvation, is the Episcopal Communion of the place wherein he lives, whilest he lives in it. §. I. This proved against the several sorts of the Non-Conformists according to their seve­ral Principles. §. II. 1. As to the Presbyterians, and those who acknowledg an Obligation of Government antecedently to the consent of particular Subjects. And that by these degrees: 1. That, by the obligation of Government in general, all those particulars must be obliging without which it cannot be practica­ble. §. III. 2. Many of the Presbyterians themselves do ac­knowledg the determination of particular circumstances, and the Application of general rules to particular cases, to belong to the Office of Ecclesiastical Governours. §. IV. 3. It is absolutely necessary for the practicableness of Government in general, that every Subject know his Governour, and him particularly to whom be in particular owes Obedience. §. V. 4. The means whereby every particular Person may be convinced, to whom it is, that he in particular owes Subjection, must be such as may be presumed [Page] notorious to the whole Community, and such whereof others may judg as well as the Person particularly concerned, and by which they may judg as well concerning his Duty, as their own. §. VI. 5. The Authority of these means must be from God. §. VII, VIII. Two Consequences inferred from hence: 1. Positive, That they must be under a Divine Obligation to own the Authority of these Jurisdictions whilest they live within them. §. IX. 2. Negative, That from this Divine Authority of Jurisdictions, they must find themselves obliged to forbear all opposite Communions or Assemblies within those Jurisdictions. §. X, XI, XII. Application made par­ticularly to the Presbyterians. §. XIII. 2. As to the Independents, who deny all Ecclesiastical Au­thority antecedently to the voluntary obligation of particu­lar Persons. §. XIV, XV. That there is really a Power of Government in the Church. §. XVI. That this Power is not derived from the Multitude. §. XVII, XVIII. p. 547.
  • CHAP. XXVII. 2. That the nature of this Obligation to submit to all unsinful conditions of the Episcopal Communion is such as will make them guilty of the sin of SCHISM who will rather suffer themselves to be separated than they will submit to such con­ditions. The Notion of SCHISM as it is only a breach of correspondence not sufficient for my purpose. §. I. As it is a breach of a Body Politick it is. Application to our Adver­saries. §. II. That by the Principles here proposed, the Persons from whom they separate must be their Governours. §. III, IV, V, VI, VII. Other things proved that are necessary for this Ap­plication. §. VIII. That this separation from their own particular Churches must necessarily infer a separation from the Catholick Church also. The Objection proposed. §. IX. Answ. If it were otherwise, it would destroy all Discipline, and therefore all the dividing parties who are for Discipline are obliged, as well as we, to answer this Objection, and to be favourable to what we shall say in answer to it. §. X, XI. A more particular Answer proving the thing principally designed. 1. This pretence of Union with the Catholick Church can be no encouragement [Page] for any to neglect any means of continuing his Union with his own particular Church, unless he may be assured that, whilest he wants it, he may notwithstanding continue united to the Catholick Church. §. XII. 2. That Union with the Catholick Church, of which we may be assured, must be such as may appear to us by the use of those external ordinary means which God has appointed for mainteining that Union. §. XIII. 3. In this way of judging, He that would assure himself of his being united to the Catholick Church, must do it by proving himself united to some particular visible Church by an external Communication in their Sacraments. §. XIV. 4. The external Communion of another Church, which while a separated Person does maintein, he may have hopes of keep­ing still his interest in the Unity of the Catholick Church, must not be any other Communion within the Jurisdiction in which he lives, and from which he is supposed to be sepa­rated. This proved in regard of Usurping Members of the same Church. §. XV, XVI. And of Unauthorized Members of other Churches, within the same Jurisdiction. §. XVII, XVIII. 5. Such Separatists cannot maintein their title to Ca­tholick Unity by being received into any other Churches, though otherwise absolute and unaccountable to the Church from whence they are separated. §. XIX, XX, XXI. This proved. 1. The nature of the inconvenience, incurred by deprivation of Com­munion in a particular Church, is such as that it is impossi­ble that the censure can be valid in that particular Church, unless it be valid in others. §. XXII. 2. Hence it follows that, if such a Person be received to the Sacraments in ano­ther Church without as good an Authority, for uniting him to the Unity of the Catholick Church, as that was by which he was deprived, only on supposition of the conti­nuance of his invisible Unity with the Catholick Church notwithstanding his visible separation from a part of it, such Sacraments must, as to him, be perfect Nullities. §. XXIII. 3. No particular Church can, by its Authority alone, restore any to Catholick Unity who has been separated from it by another Church, without the consent of the Church by which he was at first separated. §. XXIV. 4. Hence it follows, That all that can be done by other Churches receiving a Per­son separated from the Communion of his own Church, can [Page] only be to judg of his case, not so as to oblige the Church to which he belongs originally to stand to their judgment, but only so far as concerns their own Jurisdiction. §. XXV, XXVI, XXVII. 5. Whatever is necessary for the design of Gods e­stablishment, that he must, by his design, be obliged to ratifie, whether he has expresly said he will do so, or no. This ap­plied. §. XXVIII. The validity of the separation proved when it is the act of the Separatists themselves, without any censures of Ecclesiastical Authority. §. XXIX, XXX. p. 564.
  • CHAP. XXVIII. The usefulness of this discourse as to its two great designs. §. I, II. 1. For the most likely Notion of SCHISM. Two advanta­ges of this way of stating the Government of the Church a­bove others. §. III. 1. That the Government thus contrived will be most wisely fitted for practice. §. IV, V. Because best fitted to the capacity of the illiterate multitude. §. VI. Who will, 1. By these Principles, be best enabled to distinguish their true Superiors from false pretenders. §. VII. As to the Or­dination of our Ministers. §. VIII, IX, X, XI, XII. As to that of the Non-Conformists. §. XIII. 2. They will hereby be best enabled to judg of the extent of their Duty to their true Superiors themselves. §. XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII. 2. This Hypothesis is peculiarly suited to the practice of such a Society as the Church is, for preserving Unity and a due respect to Authority in it, especially in times of perse­cution. §. XIX, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII, XXIV, XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX, XXX, XXXI. 2. The usefulness of this discourse as to its second great design, the shewing the real danger and mischievousness of the sin of SCHISM. The impossibility of doing this on our Adversaries Principles. §. XXXII, XXXIII, XXXIV, XXXV, XXXVI, XXXVII, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XL, XLI. On our Principles the Notion given hereof is popular, derived from the nature of the sin it self. §. XLII, XLIII. And suited to the affections and relish of pious Persons, though illiterate. §. XLIV. The great advantage of reasons suited to the affe­ctions of the Persons to be persuaded by them. §. XLV. These Principles are more easie to be judged of by popular capaci­ties, [Page] in three regards. §. XLVI. 1. Most of those disputes which are matters of Learning are here avoided. §. XLVII. 2. The remaining disputes are reduced to such things which even illiterate Persons must be supposed experienced in, even in their worldly affairs. §. XLVIII, XLIX. 3. The main Principles of this discourse are such as are granted by our Adversaries themselves. §. L, LI, LII. The great advantages of proceeding on granted Principles. §. LIII, LIV. Particular­ly in relation to the accommodation of our present disputes. §. LV. p. 593.

ERRATA.

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THE INTRODUCTION.

THE CONTENTS.

The concurrent sense of all, Irreligious, as well as Religi­ous, concerning the present necessity of our Ecclesiasti­cal Peace, and the great mischief of our Ecclesiastical Divisions. §. 1. The management of Religious Con­troversies with a design of Peace, will best answer the Qualifications of an useful Controvertist. §. 2. It is most agreeable with the most prudent Rules of managing Controversies, either for finding the Truth it self, or, where humane frailty might fail of that, for making the Errour Innocent and Excusable. §. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. What influence this design of Peace would have particularly in those Controversies which are de­bated between Ʋs and our Non-Conforming Brethren; How far the Unpeaceableness of a Position of this kind may be urged as an Argument of its Falshood, and on the Contrary. §. 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29. That our present undertaking is not unsuitable to the Office of a Peace-maker, §. 30, 31, 32. How much the Peace of the Church is concerned in this Contro­versie concerning SCHISM. How differently the No­tion of SCHISM must be stated by them who make the Church a Body Politick, and by them who make it not so. Our Adversaries Notions of SCHISM, and of the Duty of a Peace-maker, Exactly fitted to the [Page 2] Supposition of the Church's being no Body Politick, and indeed very Rational upon that Supposition. What is to be thought of the Independent Tenet of placing all Ecclesiastical Authority Originally in the People, and how far that will clear their Practices from the charge of SCHISM. §. 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40. How the Notion of SCHISM must be stated on Supposition of the Church's being a Body Politick. §. 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51. An ac­count of the Division of this work into the Rational and Historical Parts. Some intimations concerning the usefulness and design of the Historical. §. 52.

THE Peace of the Church is a thing at present so extremely desirable, not only in regard of its intrinsick Chari­tableness, but its many happy influen­ces on our dearest Interests, not only Sacred but Secular, that he must be as Imprudent as Impious, as Inhumane as Ʋnconscientious, as little deserving the name of a Friend of his Country, as of a Lover of his Religion, who can still be uncon­cerned for a design (I do not say of such worth, but) of such importance for our settlement. For though there are few so Prudent as to foresee Inconveniences at a distance, or of so tender sense as to be vehement­ly concerned for Absurdities in Reasoning, or of so Spiritual an apprehension as to be moved by the purely Spiritual Threats or Rewards of the Gospel; yet eve­ry one is apt to be affected by his own Experiences. And accordingly we find, not only the Practicers, but, the very Enemies, of Religion to be now more than ordinarily inclinable to a Reconciliation: Not only such who are endued with that Modesty which would hinder Men from Imperious Dogmatizing or easie Cen­suring [Page 3] of Dissenters; or that ardent Charity for their Brethren of the same Profession, which would hinder them from either giving or taking any Offence which were by any Lawful means avoidable; or that Humility which would incline unskilful Persons to submit to the Judgment of Persons more skilful, at least in such mat­ters wherein they might be convinced of their own Unskilfulness, and would make them diffident, if not in their Judgment, yet, at least in their Practice, when contrary to the sense of the more Judicious (which would very much conduce to secure the Church from disturbing Innovations) or that Pious Prudence which would make Men especially cautious of Errors, either in Opinions or Practices, which would prove extraor­dinarily mischievous, if Erroneous, as those must do which are destructive of the Government of that Socie­ty to which the Erroneous Persons are related, and yet more especially Cautious in such Cases wherein their past Experiences might be sufficient warnings against fu­ture Inconveniences, as they may here, where Men may find how little available the goodness of their Intention is for preventing the dangerous Events of their mi­stakes, when they have found themselves transported or deluded into Events very distant from their Origi­nal designs. But even the Enemies of Religion seem so far, at least, desirous of the Reconciliation of the Religious, as they think nothing of Religion worth contending for with that eagerness and bitterness which they find so very prejudicial to their worldly Interests. And considering that Providence has thus found out inducements to prevail with all Parties and all Inte­rests to be thus Inclinable to receive, if not Industri­ous to promote and offer, terms of Reconciliation; it will now less than ever become the Sons of Peace, the Subjects of the Prince of Peace, the Professors of the Gospel [Page 4] of Peace, to be averse to it. And as there are not ma­ny Truths whose momentousness might in any Case make amends for publick disturbances; so it may be Questi­onable whether any may now, when so many Parties and Conditions, so many different and great Interests, are concerned in the Consequences of it, when even the Reputation of Religion it self, and its most Fundamen­tal Maxims are involved in the same success, and it is thought no very good Argument for the Prudence of an Institution, that its Votaries are conceived by it to be made implacable in their Contentions for many Propositions so impossible to be decided to the satis­faction of the different Parties; whilst they expose their common Belief to the derision of common Ad­versaries, and cause them to blaspheme that worthy Name by which they are called, and weaken their own Credit for the things of principal Importance by their mutual Reflections and Animosities and extreamly-partial be­haviour for Propositions of inferior moment and Cre­dibility. And as these very weighty Considerations of the present mischiefs of our Divisions must highly aggravate the Sinfulness and Disingenuity of such as cannot clear their Consciences from the guilt of having contributed to them; so the great Benefit of avoiding them, besides the many Positive advantages of Peace, must now more than ever intitle the endeavours of Peace-makers to that peculiar Beatitude promised to them by our Saviour himself in his Sermon on the Mount.Mat. v.9.

§ II BUT however seasonable it be for this present Age, yet it is not so absolutely necessary for my present design, to enlarge on a Topick so acknowledged as this, of the necessity of Catholick Peace, is. My desire only is to let my Dissenting Brethren know that, as it is my hearty desire to make this the design of all my Studies, [Page 5] and the employment of my Life; and as I am not Con­scious to my self herein of any partial favour, but am induced to it by a hearty conviction of the value and necessity of the design it self, that there is indeed no other end more Pious, or more Generous, or more ef­fectually conducive to the Service of God or the good of Mankind; so it shall be my particular endeavour to demean my self accordingly in the following Discourse; as not to oppose, so neither to abet, any Party as a Par­ty, that is, as subsisting by any peculiar Principles inconsistent with Catholick Peace. And if I might prevail with my Adversaries to concur with me in the observation of the same Rule, I am confident that as our Disputes will prove more Edifying to all truly Christian Spirits, both for discovering the Truth, and prevailing with our Readers to receive it in the love of it; so our Errors, if after all our diligence we shall prove mistaken, must needs prove more Innocent, and, in regard of their good design; incomparably more excusable than otherwise. And I am the rather induced to believe that this is indeed the best way of managing these Disputes, because it does not only best comply with, and preserve, that temper which would most of all accomplish an useful Controvertist, and best fit him for publick Service; but also, because it will in regard of the Considerations now mentioned, answer the most Prudent Advices for the manner of their manage­ment.

§ III THIS way of managing Controversies will best com­ply with the Qualifications of an useful Controvertist. And he must needs be a Person very little versed in our mo­dern Controversies who has not observed the great in­fluence of the humours of the Controvertists on the Event. For when Men are Angry and Aery, forward to give and to receive provocation, how very easily do [Page 6] they digress to Personal Quarrels? And such, as they are perfectly useless to the Publick, so they have a ve­ry ill influence on such as might otherwise prove useful. For by that means they are blinded in the search of Truth, and indisposed for following their own Con­victions where they know it, and inclined to engage the Publick in their private animosities. It makes them favourable to such Principles, not which are true, but which are for their purpose; It naturally loosens and and emasculates that closeness of Discourse which is absolutely necessary for our security where the Truth is obscure, and the Error dangerous; It takes them off from that awe of Conscience which would both quicken their Diligence, and oblige them to Sincerity; It na­turally diverts them from sober reasonings to Popular flourishes and Rhetorical Arts of insinuation. And the shame of owning their mistakes in matters wherein they had been extremely confident, or of yielding to a despised, yet upbraiding, Adversary, or of losing their Authority and Interest in a Party which had admired them, when they cannot be Ingenuous at any lower rate than that of a publick Penance for their Extrava­gances, does many times necessitate them to poor and palpable contrivances of Evasion. And yet the con­cealment of their mistakes is not the only inconveni­ence to the Publick from the disingenuity of these Per­sons, but many times they think themselves obliged to justifie their former vehemence by a continued eagerness, and so to maintain their own reputation by ruining the Churches Peace. To which might have been added that averseness to conviction, to which such a way of dealing does naturally incline the Adversaries for whose conviction such Discourses are designed; how little they can value their Authority when they find them so palpably swayed by other motives than the [Page 7] merit of the Cause and the real conviction of their Con­sciences; with what regret they must be likely to bear with any Victory, though even of Truth it self, from such an Adversary who gives such indications of un­kindness and hostility against their very Persons; how very unwilling they must be to prove mistaken when they must expect to be upbraided with their mistakes; how glad of any shifts that may silence either their Ad­versaries or their own Consciences. And to Persons thus disposed, it is hard to conceive a Cause so bad that can­not afford sufficient and plausible Palliations. But on the contrary all the Qualifications requisite for fitting a Controvertist for publick use, whether of Industry or Ʋnprejudicedness, or Sincerity, or of a fair and candid demeanor which may sweeten the temper of the Erro­neous Person, and dispose him to receive Conviction, which are absolutely necessary to recommend his En­deavours for the direction of the Judicious, or the Au­thoritative Guidance of the Multitude, are not only very reconcilable with, but very naturally consequent to, the temper of a Pious and Peaceable Person.

§ IV BUT this way of managing Controversies with a design of Peace, is not only fitted to the Qualifications of an useful Controvertist, but the most Prudent Rules of managing that Employment. For the true design of an useful Controvertist being the discovery of such Truths wherein Mankind is concerned for their Practice ▪ those means must be most Prudent for this purpose which may either secure us of finding the Truth it self, where it is capable of being found, or make the Igno­rance excusable, and the Practice secure, where it can­not. And for both these purposes this design of Peace in our Religious Disputes does best fit us, especially in such as these concerning Government, for which we are at present concerned.

§ V [Page 8] OƲR Enquiring with a design of Peace does best fit us for the discovery of Truth it self, I do not now mean only as it provokes our Industry in our search, and makes us Candid both in judging, and in acknowledging the success of our own Convictions; but also as the Peaceableness of a Proposition of this na­ture may be made an Argument of its Truth it self. For considering that the Catholick Peace of the Christian Churches within themselves and with each other is an End not only worthy of the Divine Providence, but actually designed by him; and considering that it is not agreeable to the Divine Prudence that he should have designed an End without Means, or with Means repug­nant to it; and particularly in our Case that he should design an End to be procured by the Church (as cer­tainly in all Bodies Politick whatsoever is necessary for the preservation of its publick Peace is inseparably and peculiarly the Province of its Governours) without Means in the power of the Church for procuring it, or with Institutions directly contrary; and considering withal that God in dealing with the Church, has not considered her Abstractly, but as she is at present in this Life, under all her frailties and disadvantageous Cir­cumstances: We may therefore argue both Positively, that whatever is necessary for preserving this Peace of the Church in this Life as consisting of Persons, though well-meaning, yet generally frail, and obnoxious both to mistakes and Prejudices, that has certainly been pro­vided for by God; and Negatively, that what is ne­cessarily destructive of that Peace, (I mean with a Moral Necessity considering the frailties of the genera­lity, even of well-meaning Persons) that is certainly contrary to the true design of God. So that though we had no other Argument against our Adversaries Principles and Practices but this, that Catholick Peace [Page 9] is by them rendred unpracticable and Morally impossible, at least, in this Life, and that by ours alone it is capa­ble of being maintained, this alone were sufficient to prove as well their Falshood, as their Inexpediency and mischievousness, and as well to prove the Truth of our own Principles and Practices, as the convenience of them on Politick Considerations. I am aware what ill Arguments some Men have deduced from this Topick, whilst they argue what God must have done, or not have done, independently on Revelation. But then I consider also that their mistakes are not deduced from this Proposition in the general and indefinite way where­in I have expressed it, but from their particular Appli­cations, whilst they gratuitously presume either that an End was intended by God which was not, or that some Means was conducive or necessary for it, which has proved otherwise on a particular Examination. And I confess that before this can be applyed to our Dissent­ing Brethrens Case, it will need several other more particular improvements. But though this Principle or its Application were indeed as fallible as they are concerned to believe it to be, yet I add farther,

§ VI THAT it will, at least, even in that Case, secure the Practice Innocent, and render the Error Excusable. In Reason and Conscience, as well as in Policy, we are obliged to be more wary, where our mistakes are like to prove of dangerous Consequence; and where the mis­chief will be very great, there the necessity of the thing and our Conviction of it must be proportionable, that may secure our Practice. For besides that no Error of our Judgment is ever likely to be imputed to us to our Prejudice, but that which is joyned with some ill dis­position of our Will, and that it is certainly no such ill disposition of our Will to prefer a Duty of greater, be­fore another of lesser consequence, and to prejudg in [Page 10] favour of it where there does not appear such evident conviction to the contray, as may make amends for the danger of venturing on it (for in matters of Practice, the dangerousnes as well as the Falshood of an Assertion is very Justly and Conscientiously considerable, especi­ally when the danger is of offending God, and ruining our own Souls) and besides that no Prudent and Good Legislators could think it convenient for the Publick, that their greatest and most important commands should be neglected as often as there might appear some little probable Evidence for some lesser Duty that were in­consistent with them, and that they must therefore be better pleased with him who in such a Case should stick to the greater Duty and neglect the less, than with him who should extremely prejudice the Publick by a too scrupulous adherence to his own Convictions, and must judg it reasonable to be better pleased with him though in the Event he should prove mistaken, not only in regard of his good meaning and the pitiableness of his condition, but also in regard of the real usefulness of such a Presumption for the Publick in such a Case, wherein it were managed with Sincerity and Candor, (and it can certainly be no dishonour to Presume him pleased with that, which we have reason to believe would please a Good and Just humane Legislator, in re­gard of its reasonableness and good influence on the Pub­lick, for which he were concerned) and besides that this is a certain Rule in all Positive Commands, where the omission is not intrinsecally evil, that all such things cease to be, so much as Duties when they prove incon­sistent with others of greater consequence to the Pub­lick, nay and that this is a Rule approved by God him­self in the practice of his own Commands, as is pro­fessedly proved by our Saviour himself,Mat. XII.7. in that of the Sabbath (which is an Observation which I believe might [Page 11] prove very useful to facilitate our Dissenting Brethrens complyance if they would be pleased to consider it) I say besides all these Considerations, the very want of such an Evidence for smaller Duties as may make amends for their consequential Prejudice to the Publick, is indeed a more rational Argument to prove them false, than such Probability as falls short of it is to prove them true.

§ VII FOR considering God only as a Good and Prudent Governour, and who withal cannot be forgetful of doing what he knows to be most Prudent, as Humane Governours may, it is not Credible that he should not give that Evidence of Conviction for every particular Duty which is suitable to the moment of the thing re­quired in it, that, as he is, by his Government, ob­liged to value Duties differently according to their dif­ferent influence on the Publick; so he might according­ly secure their performance, that those which are more necessary for the Publick may be principally secured, which he cannot be conceived to have done if he have not proportioned their Evidence to their momentous­ness. And therefore where a Duty doth interfere with the publick Interest, though we may have some probabi­lity for it, yet if the Probability be not so great as, up­on the account now mentioned, may be expected for an Action of such consequence, whatever we may think of it in regard of its Probabilities, yet this will be a much more certain Argument to us that God ne­ver intended in such Circumstances to oblige us to it. But, to omit any further reasonings, this Presumption is in it self so very Equal as that, I think, all Parties will acknowledg it to be so where they are unconcerned, that is indeed, where they are Equal Judges. And as, I think, all Protestants will believe that that degree of Probable Appearance, which might have excused an Er­roneous Conscience in Practices of inferior concernment, [Page 12] could not yet be admitted as a sufficient Apology for Ravilliac, and the Powder-Traitors, for their attempts against the Lives of their Princes, and the welfare of their Countries; so the Romanists themselves will pass the same Censure on those Laws and Severities against themselves, which they call Persecution, that these are less easily excusable in us than our Heresie; because they are more mischievous. And certainly the disturbance of the Churches Peace, not only by forbearing Commu­nion (which would expire with the Persons Life) but also by erecting opposite Communions (which is the means to perpetuate the disturbance to all succeeding Generations) would in the Judgment of every Peace­able, that is indeed every truly Christian Spirit, be re­puted a mischief so great as that the moment of very few Propositions would be able either to excuse, or make amends for it. Which is sufficient to shew that it is as Safe as Wise, as Pious as Politick, to be favoura­ble to the Churches Peace in judging concerning the merit of particular Controversies.

§ VIII IN pursuance therefore of this Discourse it would concern every Conscientious Person in our Adversa­ries Case, dissenting from the Church wherein he was Born and Baptized, to Enquire Impartially 1. Whether the thing maintained by him be True or False? And if upon the most accurate and Sincere Enquiry he still think it True, then 2. With what degree of Evidence it appears so to him, whether Certainly, or only Pro­bably; and with what degree either of Certainty or Probability? For it is certain that variety herein will vary the Case of the Lawfulness of the complyance of such a Person, for it may be much more Lawful to suppress his sentiments in Probabilities than Certainties, and in less than greater Probabilities. If he conceive it Certain, then 3. Whether it be also Necessary, and [Page 13] with what degree of Necessity? Whether it be only Necessary for himself who is already convinced of it, or it be Necessary for others that they be convinced al­so? For it can only be in this latter kind that any can pretend to any Obligation to divulge their Sentiments. If it be conceived also necessary for others, then 4. Whether it be necessary to be taught them by a Per­son in his Condition? For it is certain that according to the difference of Mens Conditions their Obligations are also very different; and some Mens Conditions may free them from those Obligations to which others may remain obnoxious. If even this be so, that he be the Person obliged to Teach and Propagate his different Sentiments, yet 5. Whether the mischiefs naturally consequent to such an attempt be not greater than those which are likely to follow from his omission, and there­fore sufficient to excuse it? For it is, in Conscience, as well as Prudence, Lawful to permit a lesser Evil for avoiding a greater, though it be never Lawful to incur the guilt of a Sin for avoiding any; and the Obligati­on incumbent on us for instructing others is to be de­duced from their Interest in the Truth wherein they are to be instructed, and therefore where this Interest proves inconsistent with a greater, there it can be no Sin, but only a lesser Evil, to omit it. If these mischiefs should not be conceived sufficient to disoblige him, then 6. Whether he be obliged any farther than on­ly to propose it, and so to leave it to the Judgment and Approbation of his Superiors, I do not mean in order to the determination of his own Internal Assent, but as competent Judges of what is fit to be externally trans­acted for the Proselyting of others? Or whether he be also obliged to resist their determination, when different from his own? If he conceive himself ob­liged to resist them, then 7. How far he is so ob­liged? [Page 14] Whether only so far as to suffer himself rather to be cast out of Communion than to comply? Or, whether he may also be Active in withdrawing his own Communion, even before he is Judicially Excommuni­cated? Or whether, being Excommunicated for such a Cause, he be not so much as Obliged to give Passive Obedience to such Censures of his Lawful Ordinary Su­periors, but may also be Active, not only in encourag­ing and favouring, but also in erecting, an opposite So­ciety; seeing that if he himself should prove the Per­son mistaken (as he has no reason to think himself more Infallible than his Superiors) this is a way to perpetuate the Quarrel, and that, in such a Case, very Injuri­ously? Especially 8. If he be a Person to whom the power of Governing and maintaining Ecclesiastical So­cieties, either by an administration of the Sacraments in his own Person, or by providing for an Ordinary Succession in Ordaining others, has never been in an ordinary way communicated (which is generally the Case of our Seperating Brethren) Whether this sup­posed Justice of his Cause can excuse or warrant such an arrogating of a Power never received? Or whether he can expect that God will countenance him in such his Usurpations?

§ IX IF all these Enquiries were made with that accurate­ness and exactness with which they ought and would be examined by every truly Pious and Peaceable Per­son; though Men, whilst they are Men, might still be supposed likely to dissent in matters truly Disputable and of inferior concernment, yet, I believe, the Cases would be found very rare wherein themselves would Judg it safe or excusable to prosecute their differences so far as to divide the Church for them. And if the Persons concerned would be pleased to consider further (what all wise men that are any thing conversant in [Page 15] Controversies will acknowledg from their own Experi­ence) that it is in all Questions much more easie to Object than to establish any thing Positive; that espe­cially matters of Practice are only capable of high Pro­babilities, or Morally Certain Presumptions, which not amounting to a proof a priori may therefore be concei­ved very consistent with the unaccountableness of many Phaenomena, so that if we were never to presume any thing true in order to Practice till we were able to give a Positive account of all Objections against it, much the greater part of Mans Life must be spent in a Pyrrho­nick [...]; that seeing this is so, and that it must be therefore Prudent to proceed to Practice in many Cases wherein we cannot Answer contrary Objections, there­fore it must be the wisest course to rule our Selves by Positive consistent Notions fitted for the Difficulties on both sides, rather than by particular Objections.

§ X WHICH if our Dissenting Brethren would ob­serve, and would therefore consider the Interest of the Church in a due respect to be paid to Governours in order to the establishment of a Just and solid Peace, as well as in preserving the Liberty of private Christians, and preventing Tyrannical Impositions; and would therefore be so wary in their Arguments for the latter as that they may not prejudice the former; but would there­fore first think of a Prudent Mean which might avoid both Extremes, and reconcile both Objections,, and then be wary that the Arguments insisted on might prove no more than what they ought to do consequent­ly to such an Hypothesis; if, I say, they would seri­ously consider these things, this would prove both a more Prudent Expedient for finding out the Truth than that which is usually observed by them; and I veri­ly believe, would, in the Event, discover to them the Fallacies of many of their Arguments.

[Page 16] § XI IT would better help them to find the Truth; for they would thus be forewarned how much their Arguments must prove, and therefore which if they exceed they may justly be presumed Fallacious, though their parti­cular Fallacy be not as yet discovered, which must needs be of excellent use in affairs of Practice. Thus they who admit of the Churches being a Body Politick and subject to a Government properly so called, and yet withal hold the unlawfulness of some Impositions on Subjects, must Consequently be assured that all those Arguments in favour of the Liberty of the Subject which either encroach on the Rights of Government in general, or render the Government of that particular Society unpracticable in such Circumstances with which all humane Government is to be considered, or over­throw the Moral possibility of Catholick Peace, on the one side; and those which so favour the Governours of the Church as to make all their Impositions obliging, even in those Instances wherein their Subjects have a Right to Liberty, on the other; they must, I say, pro­ceeding on these Principles, be assured that both these sorts of Arguments, how plausible soever they may seem, yet are really Fallacious.

§ XII IT would also discover to them the fallaciousness of their own Arguments. For let this Principle only be taken for granted, that all Arguments pleading for the Liberty of Subjects from Ecclesiastical Impositions (so that by an unavoidable Parity of Consequence they overthrow the Moral possibility of Catholick Peace) conclude too much, and therefore indeed conclude nothing at all; and it will then concern them to be­ware that their own Arguments be not chargeable with this Fallaciousness.

§ XIII BUT because Men are extreamly partial in Judg­ing concerning a Cause which they have already [Page 17] espoused, therefore it would be much more equal to represent their own Case in others Persons before they pass their Censure concerning it. I take it therefore for granted that God hath established Catholick Ʋnity on such Terms as are not likely to fail frequently and perpetually among Pious well-disposed Persons, nay not at all perpetually. This I do not therefore take for granted because I think it difficult to be proved, but because I conceive its proof easie and unnecessary. This there­fore being supposed, it will follow that, if, by the ge­neral Principles of our Non-Conforming Brethren, many and perpetual Divisions must in all Probability happen even among Pious well-disposed Persons, the Preservation of Catholick Peace is on these Principles Morally impossible, and therefore that the Principles themselves are certainly Fallacious.

§ XIV AND that our Dissenting Brethren themselves may understand this, I shall intreat them to consider, Whe­ther upon the same Principles by which they excuse their Separation from us, and their Erecting opposite Commu­nions, which is the way to perpetuate their Separation, they have not given other Pious Persons an Apology, by themselves unanswerable, to separate also from themselves, whom yet they will undoubtedly blame for doing so? Which will consequently oblige them, when this is proved true, to acknowledg the Fallaci­ousness of their own Arguments. For what can be pretended in defence of their Separation from Ʋs, that may not be pleaded by others against themselves, for Justifying eternal Subdivisions of their own Con­gregations into inconsiderable Fractions?

§ XV IS it the moment of the things? But they are as little momentous as is possible, even such as themselves confess to be only Circumstantials of Religion, and in their own Nature perfectly Indifferent. It were easie [Page 18] here to retort the Arguments themselves make use of to perswade our Governours to yield them. For can they pretend that they are Indifferent to be yielded by Governours in condescention to their weaker Subjects? And can they at the same time think them not Equally Indifferent for Subjects to be complyed with in Submissi­on to their Governours? Or can any Cause be thought too frivolous and inconsiderable for Justifying a Sepa­ration when such as these are thought sufficient for it?

§ XVI OR is it the Imposition of such things that is thought so very grievous, though the things themselves were (as Calvin was pleased to call them) tolerable Follies? Indeed this might rationally be urged to perswade Governours to forbear the interposition of their Au­thority in such Cases where there were so little need to interess it. But that it self were only rational when Governours were also perswaded of their needles­ness. But when it is further urged, as it is by them, to Justifie the Separation of Subjects in such Cases wherein Governours cannot be convinced of their need­lesness; how can they Answer such as, on the same Terms, should be desirous to separate from themselves? For if this be so, Governours must never expect to be obeyed but in such Cases wherein Subjects are equally convinced with themselves of the particular Necessi­ty of their Impositions. Which must make Govern­ment perfectly useless, and must necessarily leave themselves destitute of an Apology against Subdivi­ders.

§ XVII IT must make Government perfectly useless. For Government must needs be unsignificant without a Coercive power over Dissenters, and on th [...]se Terms it will be impossible for it to have any such power. For how easie is it for Dissenters to pretend that they are [Page 19] not satisfied with their Impositions if by this Means they may expect to be excused from their Jurisdiction? And if this Plea be not conceived sufficient to exempt such Subdividers from themselves, why do not them­selves think of a better for their Exemption from ours?

§ XVIII POSSIBLY they will Reply that it is impossible to establish any Preservatives of Peace which may not be abused by Pretenders. I confess it is so, and from this very Concession I infer the necessity of Governours following their own Judgment in their Government, how different soever it may prove from that of their undutiful Subjects. For if Pretenders may evacuate the best Preservatives of Peace, when they may be per­mitted not only to Judg concerning them, but to con­form their Practice to such their Judgment; and it be also impossible to distinguish Pretenders from such as dissent on account of real Conviction, as certainly it is impossible to know their thoughts, and without that impossible also to distinguish them; it will follow that no preservatives of Peace thus permitted to the Judg­ment of Subjects can be significant, at least, that Go­vernours cannot, in that way of proceeding, of suit­ing their own Decrees to the Consciences of their Subjects, fix on any certain Rules how the Publick Peace may be preserved, and therefore that they must be put on an unavoidable Necessity of trusting their own Judgments. If a Coercive Power be necessary for the ends of Government, certainly there are no Subjects more proper on which it should be exercised than such Pretenders. And because such Pretenders cannot be distinguished from others; and, if they Could, yet generally the Arguments for the Merit of the Cause are more cogent than those which prove the Sincerity of any particular Person whatsoever; and be­cause in the Judging concerning such Arguments, eve­ry [Page 20] one, and much more Governours, can better assure themselves of their own Industry in Enquiring, and their own Sincerity in following Conviction; therefore every one who is capable of Judging (which sure must not be denyed to Governours only) must find it much more reasonable to trust his own Judgment than that of any other, which if he do, he must also conceive it most Prudent to Practice accordingly. I cannot ima­gine what use there can be of Government, if, after its determinations, private Persons must still be permitted to Dispute their own Duty, nor with what confidence our Brethren can deny this Liberty to others which they have so freely Practiced themselves.

§ XIX IF they say further, that if Governours did their Duty, and were careful either to impose nothing but what themselves, at least, conceived very Necessary and very Reasonable, or to Enquire into the Merit of the Thing before they imposed it; they would not be likely to impose any thing that the generality of well-meaning Persons would not think reasonable as well as themselves: And that Providence is only concerned for the generality of Persons so qualified, that they have means sufficient to inform them of their Duty if they be not deficient to them­selves (for that some few well-meaning Persons, or that even greater numbers of such of them as are not suf­ficiently Industrious to inform themselves of their Du­ty through their own fault, or that even the generality of ill-meaning Persons, should be permitted to be mi­staken, is so far from being derogatory to Providence as that indeed it is very agreeable to the Rules of its pro­ceedings) and that in such a Case there could be no In­convenience if Governours were indeed rigorous in urg­ing the observation of their own Decrees when it might justly be presumed that either none but ill-meaning Persons, or, if any others, yet but few of them, or such of them [Page 21] as were otherwise culpable for not using sufficient dili­gence in procuring a better information, would suffer un­der such Severities. This I do indeed conceive to give the most tollerable account of the Practicableness of any Authority on their Principles who conceive it necessary that Subjects be particularly convinced of the reasona­bleness of those things which are made the Instances of their Obedience. Only for deducing even this Con­sideration it self nearer home to Practice, several things would be further considerable to let our Brethren un­derstand that even by these Principles themselves, if Prudently applyed, their own Separation cannot be excused; or if it may, it must be by such Arguments as may be urged unanswerably by Subdividers from them­selves. For I would intreat them to consider, Who must be Judg of this Presumption? What things may be presumed so necessary and evident as that well-meaning and Industrious Persons may generally be presumed ca­pable of being convinced concerning them? What kind of things especially may be presumed capable of that Evidence, and so fit for the Exercise of Authority? And in what Cases there is indeed any need of such particular Conviction in order to the Practice of Obedience?

§ XX 1. WHO must be Judg of this Presumption, Whether the Impositions may be presumed so Necessary and Evident as that the generality of well-meaning and Industrious Persons may be presumed capable of being convinced con­cerning them? By Judg I mean not, as the Romanists do, such a one as must never be supposed by his Sub­jects to be capable of being mistaken, and therefore whose Authority must be allowed as a certain Argu­ment of the Justifiableness of his determinations; but as it is understood in our ordinary Secular Courts, whom none think Infallible, and yet all Equal Persons think fit to be submitted to in Practice, with an Active [Page 22] Obedience in all things Lawful, however inconvenient, and a Passive even in things unlawful. Now if we do not agree who shall Judg of this Presumption, it will be in vain to pretend there may be such a one for re­conciling our Differences, or healing our Divisions. For if every private Person must still Judg of this Pre­sumption in order to his own Practice, it will never be serviceable as a Presumption. For can they think that he, who dissents from his Superiors, can at the same time presume their Determinations (so repugnant to his own present Sentiments) to be so Necessary, and Evident, and so capable of affording him sufficient Conviction? And yet the whole Use of this Presump­tion as a Presumption is only for Dissenters. For to such as are already of the same mind with their Superi­ors, what need can there be of any Presumption to make them so? If therefore the Superiors themselves must be taken for the competent Judges of this Presump­tion, how can they excuse themselves for so manifest an opposition of them? Or what can they pretend to implead the Separation of others from themselves, when they have given them so pregnant and undenia­ble a Precedent of opposition to their own Superi­ors?

§ XXI BUT admit that some things were indeed so Evi­dent as that no Industrious and Ingenuous Persons could differ concerning them; yet it would further have concerned our Brethren to have Enquired 2. Whe­ther the matters wherein they differ from their Ecclesia­stical Superiors be generally capable of such a degree of Evidence? For if they be only capable of Probable Evidence, it cannot be Presumed that the Generality of those whose Ʋnanimity must, on these Principles, be necessary for the preservation of Ecclesiastical Peace, can be induced to an Unanimity by the intrinsick Merit of [Page 23] the Cause. And generally matters of Practice, such as are the Subjects of our dividing Disputes, are not ca­pable of stronger Arguments than Probabilities, espe­cially such of them as are Prudentially fitted to present Circumstances. Either therefore they must acknow­ledg themselves obliged to yield to the Judgment of their Superiors, which may especially prove oftener reasonable in such Cases where many times the Extrin­sick Probability deduced from such Authority may be greater than that which is Intrinsick from the Merit of the Cause: Or they must (as indeed they seem incli­nable to do) deny the use of Authority generally in such Prudential Interpositions. If the former, that, though it be indeed an excellent Expedient for Peace, yet I doubt they will never be able to explain how it is reconcilable with their own Practices. If the latter, they must deny all Authority in those Cases wherein Authority is principally needful. For indeed this is the principal use of a Succession of Authorized Per­sons, not only to make application of the perpetual standing Laws of a Society to particular Cases, (though even that must require a decision of many doubtful Cases undecided by the Laws themselves, and many times capable of as little Evidence as those we are dis­coursing of, and yet in such our Brethren cannot them­selves deny the necessity of a standing Authority, which yet is not Intelligible, at least, not Practicable, with­out a reciprocal Duty of Submission in their Subjects) but also to provide for those varying Cases, which, be­cause they are themselves so obnoxious to change in variety of Circumstances, are not therefore so fitted for the determination of Laws perpetually obligatory. For though the Circumstances themselves be of their own nature indifferent, yet their determination is ma­ny times absolutely necessary for rendring those general [Page 24] Laws Practicable, so that in such Cases they are not properly so indifferent as our Adversaries conceive them. And yet if they were prescribed by general immutable Laws they must have been prescribed in such Cases wherein they had not been either expedient or good, which, I believe, our dissenting Brethren themselves will Judg unreasonable. And if when they are good or evil there be no power to make provision concern­ing them, methinks all wise men should look on it as a considerable defect in the Polity of that Society which is concerned for them. But if any Provision be, it must either be by a particular conviction of every parti­cular Person (for it is the Ʋnanimity of their Obser­vation that makes them edifying and useful) and that cannot be expected in matters of so obscure Evidence, and so variable a nature; or by the determination of Superiors, which is the thing they are so desirous to avoid.

§ XXII ACCORDING to the Topicks insisted on by our dissenting Brethren against these Impositions, I can­not conceive any Evidence so great as that (if them­selves would be pleased candidly and calmly to reflect on it) they could think it sufficient to perswade all In­quisitive unconcerned Governours infallibly to their Opinion. As for clear Scripture against them, it is not as much as pretended. All that is pretended, to prove their contrariety to it, is its Silence concerning them. But how far from Infallibly-convincing Evidence are those Arguments which they produce to prove this Si­lence to be a sign of Disapprobation? That the Scrip­tures are perfect none will deny them; nor that they adaequately contain all those things for which they were designed by the Holy Ghost as an adaequate Rule. But what those things were for which the Holy Ghost designed the Holy Scripture as an adaequate Rule, seeing [Page 25] they depend on his unsearchable Counsels, and his Ar­bitrary pleasure, we have no reason to be very confi­dent of, till we be assured by very particular, and ve­ry express, Revelation. And here, where the true stress of the Controversie lies, where is that Evidence which may be presumed sufficient to prevail with all Candid Industrious Persons to make them Infallibly of one mind, if any Probabilities may be allowed so inevi­dent in themselves as even such after all their Industry and Candor may be presumed still likely to differ con­cerning them? How do they prove that the Holy Ghost ever intended it as an adaequate Rule of Disci­pline, I do not only mean so as to prejudg against all Provisional Constitutions of Ordinary Governours fitted to the Circumstances of future Ages, but even so as that any Platform of Government, even of that Age, was designed to be explained to us, much less recom­mended or imposed as an unalterable unimprovable Precedent to all succeeding Generations? None of the Sacred Writers ever tell us that this was so much as designed by them, nor can it be necessarily concluded from the design of any particular Book in it. Nay ra­ther, by all the ways by which we can judg of such a thing, we have reason to presume that even those parts of Discipline, which are occasionally alluded to, were never designed for the Information of Posterity. For no more is mentioned concerning them than what fell in very appositely with their other designs, and even those that are mentioned are not explained, but presumed as Notorious to those to whom their Writings were addres­sed, as other Antiquities and Customes peculiar to that Age in which Posterity was never likely to be further concerned. And where is then this Evidence which may be presumed by our dissenting Brethren themselves Infal­libly convictive of all Candid and Industrious Persons?

[Page 26] § XXIII BUT that which would have been more likely to have discovered to them the Fundamental mistakes of this kind of Discourse, is to consider 3. In what Cases there is indeed any need of this particular Convicti­on? Indeed where the mistake might involve them in a Sin, that might be imputed as such to their parti­cular Persons, I confess they could not be too wary in Enquiring after particular Conviction. But where the matter is of it self naturally Indifferent, where it is on­ly the Ʋnanimity of its observance that makes it good and useful, and it is plain that this Unanimity is best procured by standing to the Arbitrement of Gover­nours; such Submission must, even in the Judgment of every private Person, be esteemed the most Prudent Expedient for securing a good Practice, which is as much as a Private Person is concerned for. And in­deed this preserving Order, and a due respect to Go­vernours, is a Consideration so principal in this kind of performances as may make amends for any mistakes in the Expediency of particular Impositions. Nay I might have shewn that the great Ends of publick Edi­fication might, on these Supposals, have been as effectu­ally promoted in many mistaken Impositions, as if there had been no mistake at all. And where the mistake is so no way dangerous, where it has so very little, if any, influence on that which alone, in the estimation of Equal Persons, makes the Practice commendable, nay where Disobedience is certainly a greater Evil than can be feared from any mistake in the Imposition it self; what imaginable reason is there why we should be refractory?

§ XXIV BESIDES the mistake, if any were, belong's not to our Province, and consequently cannot be im­putable to Ʋs, but our Superiors. And though the mistake were chargeable on us as an Imprudence, yet [Page 27] how can it be reputed as a Sin? Especially consider­ing that it neither involves us in the violation of any of the Divine Commandments, nor even in a sinful violation of the Moral Obligation of Prudence it self. For can they think all our less discreet Actions to be For­mal Sins on account of their being so? Or can it be a Sinful violation of the Law of Prudence it self to do that which is not so serviceable to its immediate end with a design upon a greater? And is not that the Case exactly here? Is not the preservation of the Churches Peace by a complyance with less Prudent Impositions a more considerable End than the Edification of particu­lar Persons by the suitableness of every particular Ce­remony? Will themselves think it agreeable to the Laws of Christian Prudence, sometimes to comply with the weakness, nay with the humoursomness of well-meaning Brethren, whom they think mistaken? And can they think the same condescention Sinful and Imprudent only when it connives at the equally-par­donable mistakes of a Lawful Authority? If these Pre­sumptions be not sufficient for Governours to exert their Authority over Refractory Subjects, that either the matters themselves are of so little concernment as that the Consciences of their Subjects cannot be reasonably prejudiced by any mistakes concerning them; or if otherwise, that the native Evidence of the things is sufficient to satisfie all Inquisitive well-meaning Per­sons; I confess I do not see how they can avoid making the Duty of Governours intricate and unpracticable, which certainly is to make it otherwise than God has made it. And if Governours acting bona fide on these Presumptions must necessarily interfere with the Con­sciences of the generality of their well-meaning and Inquisitive Subjects, (as I think it follows unavoidably from our dissenting Brethrens Principles) this methinks [Page 28] would be sufficient to discover the Falshood of them. For certainly the Catholick Peace of the Church as a Body Politick is Fundamentally grounded on this recon­cileableness of the Duty of well-meaning Conscientious Governours with the Duty of the generality of their well-meaning Conscientious Subjects; and therefore those Principles which hinder the possibility of recon­ciling them, must, on that very account, remain con­victed of being False, as well as Ʋnpeaceable.

§ XXV AND if our Brethren do not allow this power to the Governours of their own Parties, why do they Censure or separate from Dissenters from themselves? If they do, how can they excuse themselves for sepa­rating from their own Governours at first, and giving others a Precedent by them unanswerable? I am con­fident their own Doctrines and Decrees are not in many Cases capable of higher Evidence than ours, as little clear from express Scripture, or any obvious Consequence deduced from it, and according to the sense of any Judicious impartial Person as liable to mistake. If therefore notwithstanding this they think their Proof sufficient to ground a Presumption of their Ingenuity, even in Persons dissenting from them, I do not under­stand any disparity why they should not admit the like Presumption for our Ecclesiastical Governours.

§ XXVI I KNOW there is a complaint taken up by some of our modern Adversaries, that we misrepresent them as often as we tell them that they break off Communi­on with the Church, of which they were Members, for things Indifferent ▪ Nor do I conceive it necessary on this occasion to convince them of their mistake, and our own Fidelity, by references to their own more ancient and famous Authors. For my part I do not think that there is any real difference betwixt even them and their Predecessors, but only in a misunder­standing [Page 29] of the Notion of Indifferency that is ascribed to such Impositions of their Superiors. For if by In­differency be meant an Indifferency in the Circumstan­ces of Practice after they are Imposed; we are so far from thinking that they believe them thus Indifferent, as that we our Selves do not believe them so, nor con­sequently have we here that ordinary occasion of such mistakes of ascribing our own Sentiments to them. We our Selves believe them as Necessary to be done when they are commanded by our Lawful Superiors, as they believe them Necessary to be omitted. The In­differency therefore which we our Selves believe to be in them, and wherein we believe our Brethren also to be of our mind, is in the nature of the things them­selves antecedently to the determination of ordinary Ecclesiastical Superiors.

§ XXVII AND if they do not believe them Indifferent in this sense, why do they insist on the same Arguments with their Predecessors concerning Christian Liberty and the Perfection of the Scriptures? For can they pre­tend Christian Liberty in such Instances wherein Christ himself has imposed on their Liberty? Or do they think that the Scriptures taking no notice of a thing is sufficient not only to make the thing so omitted unlaw­ful to be Imposed, but unlawful also to be Practiced?

§ XXVIII THIS acknowledged Indifferency therefore of the things Antecedently to the Interposition of Ecclesiastical Authority is the thing we conceive them to believe. And their belief that the things are thus Indifferent Antecedently to Ecclesiastical Authority, and yet are Ʋnlawful when Authority has interposed, this, I say, we conceive perfectly destructive of such Authority. For by this means such Authority can never oblige us to do any thing for its own sake, when its interpositi­on in a thing otherwise Lawful in it self is conceived [Page 30] sufficient to make it Ʋnlawful. For it cannot be dis­cerned what is done for the sake of this Authority, but only in such instances where no other reason of doing a thing can be pretended. If therefore nothing be done for it, it cannot be conceived to have any obliga­tion of its own, which if it have not, it is impossible it should be owned as an Authority.

§ XXIX AS for the Authority of proposing Divine Laws ob­ligatory Antecedently to their Proposal, besides that when it comes to Practice, it will not be found very sig­nificant with our Brethren, when every private Person among them is permitted to Judg so freely for himself, and so freely to practice according to his own Judg­ment, however different from that of these Authori­tative Proposers of the Divine Pleasure to him; I say, besides this, the Authority thus acknowledged is not confined to the Office or Jurisdiction, but is wholly grounded on the Personal skill of the Persons Autho­rized, and consequently is not the Authority of a Bo­dy Politick, so that at least this is utterly subverted by these Principles and Practices of our Brethren, which is all that I am concerned for at present. This there­fore may suffice at present to shew the inconsistency of these Principles and Practices of our Brethren with Catholick Peace, because I am desirous to hasten to my principal design.

§ XXX I PROCEED therefore to shew that my present undertaking is not unsuitable to the Person I am here desirous to observe, viz. that of a Peace-maker. This is the rather fit to be taken notice of, because it is con­ceived that the Apostles Precedent in that great Dis­pute, concerning eating things offered to Idols, does oblige Peace-makers to avoid maintaining either side of such disputed Propositions, or abetting either Party. So the Apostle advises even them,Rom. XIV.VIII. whose better in­formed [Page 31] Consciences were sufficiently convinced of the Indifferency of such meats in regard of themselves, to yield their own Right rather than offend their weaker Brethren, who might take their eating them for an ho­nour to the Idol, and might be tempted not only to hard and undeserved censures of such a Precedent, but might be induced, by Authorities so revered by them, to believe such honours innocent, and by degrees to give those honours which themselves conceived to reach the Idol, which, in regard of Consciences so perswaded could be no better than downright Idola­try. In such a Case as this he professes himself so ten­der of the welfare, even of such weak Brethren, and so willing to abridg himself even of his own Liberty where it might prove prejudicial to it, that he would rather never eat at all than scandalize a weak Brother by doing so.1 Cor. VIII.13. Which way of accommodation seems rather to silence the Disputes than to decide them, and is thought as suitable to the office of a Peace-maker in these Controversies which occasion our present Divisi­ons as in those which occasioned those Discourses of the Apostles, both of them being alike conceived to concern only things indifferent.

§ XXXI BUT the Answer will be very easie, whether we consider the reason of the thing, or the Authority of the Apostle. I confess it is very agreeable with the Office of a Peace-maker not to interpose with any earnestness in such Controversies which are not momentous for Peace, and wherein his earnest interposition may weak­en his Authority with that Party with which he en­gages, especially then when he foresees his Authority not to be so great with the contrary Party as to oblige them to acquiesce in his determination (which is a Consideration of more efficacy now when no particular Person whatsoever can pretend to such an Authority [Page 32] with those of a different Perswasion as the Apostle might then) and I confess withal that this is a Case very applicable to many of our present Controversies, that either they are no more than mutual misunder­standings, or if real (like those in these Texts) yet they are not worth contending for, especially when they are debated betwixt private Persons, whereof nei­ther are under the others Jurisdiction. But does it therefore follow that, even in such as these a Peace-maker may not declare his Opinion, and offer his Rea­sons, in a way Modest and unprovoking? Nay is it not warrantable by the Apostles Precedent, who plainly takes their part who esteemed all meats alike, Rom. XIV.14. the Controversie then so fiercely disputed? Or do they, think it unbecoming a Peace-maker so far to interess himself in a Party, as to let Dissenters understand the reason they had, rather to yield to those for whom he had declared? Did not the Apostle even so, whilst he defends his own Party as strong, v. 1, 2, 3. and only excuses the other as tollerable in their weakness and frailty? Wherein therefore is it that we deviate from the Apo­stles Precedent? Is it that, though we do not per­swade to, yet, we also do not disswade Superiors from, the prosecution of Dissenters? But this is plainly none of the Apostles Case, who had not to do with Diffe­rences betwixt Superiors and Subjects, but only be­twixt private co-ordinate Christians. So he argues: Who art thou that Judgest anothers Servant? v. 4. To his own Master he standeth or falleth; Clearly implying a want of Jurisdiction in their mutual Censures, which sure our Adversaries themselves cannot understand of the Censures of the Church▪ if any such had been inter­posed, especially considering her, as She was then to be considered, as under the extraordinary Priviledges of the Apostolical Office, and several other Extraor­dinary, [Page 33] both Officers and Assistances of those earlier Ages.

§ XXXII BUT as the limitation of the Apostles Case plain­ly destroys the Conclusiveness of his Rule in a lati­tude disproportionable to his design; so the reason of the thing does oblige Peace-makers to abett some Con­troversies. For sure it will not be denyed but that there are some Controversies of that sort, that, Men differing in their Judgments concerning them, and Practicing consequently to such Differences, must be ob­liged to violate the publick Peace. And sure it can­not be thought dissonant to the Office of a Peace-maker that he should oppose himself to such Opinions as are themselves so opposite to his great design. It is easie to discern how improperly the Topicks, on which our Adversaries would have us insist, are applicable here, so easie as that I cannot think it necessary to in­stance in them. Nay indeed the very same reason which would prove it advisable for Controvertists not to abett Parties in matters of inferiour concernment, will, I do not say, prove it only advisable, but oblige them to do it here. For can there be a more suitable employ­ment for a Peace-maker than to shew his Zeal against the obstacles of Peace? And can any obstacles of Peace be more mischievous than such as necessarily engage Men into Parties and Factions, and when they are once so engaged make their differences irreconcilable? And what can more effectually do this than Dividing Princi­ples? For what can more seriously terrifie well-mean­ing Persons from their complyances with Men, than to think that such complyances cannot be purchased at an easier rate than the loss of their Peace with God? Or what can make them more implacable to one another, than when all Moderation is interpreted as a defect of Zeal? Nay when they are not only actually so per­swaded, [Page 34] but even in their cooler humors can have no reason to be perswaded otherwise as long as they were serious in the belief of their first Dividing Principles? For such there are no other Means of making them Peaceable than either the Contradiction, or the better Information, of their present Consciences; and I am confident our Brethren themselves are more Ingenu­ous than to assert the former only for avoiding the lat­ter. But besides this agreeableness to the Office of a Peace-maker to engage in Controversies necessary to be abetted for the interest of Peace, I might have added farther, that it is very suitable to the Office of a Lover of Peace to be favourable to such endeavours; which how near it will concern our dissenting Brethren as they would approve themselves Lovers of it, themselves will easily understand without any application of mine. And how far even a favour to Peace might proceed towards an actual reconciliation, notwithstanding Mens other differences in Opinion, I have already intima­ted.§. 8, 9.

§ XXXIII AND certainly if the Peace of the Church be con­cerned in any Controversies, it cannot be denyed to be most considerably so concerned in these of Schism. Which the rather deserve an exact discussion, because, as Schism is the great Ecclesiastical Crime of our Age and Countries, so the Persons guilty of it have rendred the very Notion of it intricate, that they might clear their own Practices from such an Aspersion. Nor in­deed have these false Notions only found acceptance among such as are at present concerned to clear them­selves from its Guilt, but have been taken up from se­veral disorderly Practices of some of the first Re­formers, who were not obliged to Enquire into it by the opposition of their Romish Adversaries, who ge­nerally in the last Age did not insist on the charge of [Page 35] Schism, but Heresie, against them; Nay have been too much countenanced by several less wary Sons of our own Church, who partly being themselves ill Princi­pled in the Right of Church-Authority, which they made very deeply, if not wholly dependent on the power of the Secular Magistrate, (and such a Party there has been among us from the beginning of the Reformati­on to this very day, occasioned by the first Disputes concerning the Supremacy in these Kingdomes, as it is not ordinary for the generality in such Disputes of In­terest, and especially where there were so great and intollerable Encroachments on the Secular Power chal­lenged by their Competitors, to avoid Extreams) on which Principles it was easier to charge Dissenters with Sedition in the State, than Schism in the Church; And partly being favourable to some Forreigners who were hardly, if at all, excusable from that Notion of Schism with which our own Non-Conformists have been chargeable; And partly finding so much advantage in the Particulars Disputed of to convince Dissenters of the Unreasonableness and Injustice of their Separation on such Pretences without engaging themselves in those less grateful Controversies wherein they were likely to expose themselves to the Odium of the Populacy and Ci­vil Magistracy; And partly being unreasonably fearful to give their Romish Adversaries any advantage either against themselves, if they defended themselves by such Principles as might reach all the Cases of the several Reformers or against their Friends in the main Cause, if they had thus a vowedly disowned their proceedings in the manner of its management; These, I say, seem to have been the real Motives which in all likely­hood prevailed with the more Prudent and Intelli­gent Controvertists to divert them to another way of managing those Disputes, and the Authority of these [Page 36] may have been conceived sufficient for influencing others.

§ XXXIV IT is therefore easie to foresee the Odium to which an Enquiry of this Nature must be obnoxious, and the great advantage our Adversaries have of us in the Sen­timents of the vulgar. Yet the establishing the true Notion of Schism is so extreamly necessary for fixing any solid grounds of Catholick Peace, as that I hope our Judicious and Candid Brethren will not only excuse us, but conceive themselves obliged in Equity and Con­science to hearken patiently, and to Judg favourably, especially when they shall find in our way of manage­ment nothing offensive to such as are not ready to be offended with Truth itself when it shall declare it self their Adversary. For though it cannot be thought in­credible here what we Experience so usual in other In­stances wherein particular Interests are concerned, that Men in reducing their general Notions to Practice are many times swayed, and many times misguided, into Extravagances unjustifiable by their general Princi­ples, and that well-meaning Persons as well as others are obnoxious to the same frailties; yet many of our Non-Conforming Brethrens Errors in Practice are so naturally consequent from their Principles, as that in­deed they cannot be sufficiently prevented without dis­covering the Errors of the Principles themselves.

§ XXXV THUS, as their Doctrine in this Question per­fectly overthrows all exercise of Ecclesiastical Govern­ment, nay plainly supposes that either there is no such thing, or that it is perfectly Democratical (if indeed that may be called properly so much as Democratical Government it self where there is no obligation to sub­mit acknowledged even in the smaller part, when Go­vernment is exercised upon them, but what arises from their disability to resist) so I confess their Notion of [Page 37] Schism and the Duty of a Peace-maker as described by them are exactly fitted to this Hypothesis. For sup­posing the Church as established by Christ not to have been confederated, as all Commonwealths are, by a Political Subordination of Governours and Governed, but only to have been a Multitude of Men no other­wise united among themselves than by the Ʋnanimity of each particular, or, at the uttermost, only as the Schools of the Philosophers were, by a reverential respect, and gratitude, of Disciples to their Teachers; no Man can here be supposed to have any reason to impose his own Judgment on another; or if he does, he cannot in reason expect that the Person so imposed on should conceive himself obliged to yield to the Imposition, or think the others proceedings Just if he should en­deavour to force him to it, any further than he is sa­tisfied that the other has reason to justifie his proceed­ings.

§ XXXVI FOR this Ʋnity being, as I said, founded on the Ʋnanimity of the particulars, they cannot be obliged further to maintain this Ʋnity of Amicable Correspon­dence than as they are on all sides convinced concern­ing the reasonableness of the Particulars exacted as Conditions of that Correspondence; or if any yielding may be thought reasonable in such a State, even in particulars which are thought unreasonable, yet it can only then be thought obliging, when the Particulars are of absolute Necessity for maintaining such an Amicable Correspondence. Otherwise, where the things themselves are not thought true, or yielding them is not thought absolutely Necessary, I do not say, for humouring the Person, but, for maintaining an Amica­ble Correspondence with the whole Multitude; though it may be Lawful, nay sometimes Noble and Generous, to bear even with the humours of particular weaker [Page 38] Persons, and much more when they are Numerous; yet there being no Jurisdiction on either side, there can also be no obligation to yield. And therefore they who deny their Correspondence without submission to Terms unnecessary and humoursome, cannot in any rea­son exact a complyance from Dissenters who believe their Terms to be of that nature; and such Dissenters, refusing such Terms, and consequently such Correspon­dence which cannot be had without them, do no more than what they can justifie (which in this Case cannot be pretended concerning the Imposers, who are sup­posed to arrogate a Power not belonging to them, without any pretence either of Authority or even of Necessity for maintaining a confident Correspondence) and consequently the blame of such a breach cannot be charged on such Dissenters, but such Imposers.

§ XXXVII AND as, upon this Hypothesis, that the Church is only such a Multitude united on no other Terms than the neces­sity of an Amicable Correspondence betwixt the particu­lars, this must indeed be the true Notion of a Formal and Culpable Schism; so it would be very congruous to the Office of a Peace-maker, not to perswade the Dissenters to yield, but the Imposers to forbear Impo­sing. For seeing in such a Case there can be no other Necessity pretended for submitting to such Impositions, in order to the signifying their own desires of main­taining an Amicable Correspondence with their Brethren, but either their willingness to be convinced of the Reasonableness of the things exacted from them, or their willingness to yield in things necessary for a Cor­respondence, that is, which the Exacters think them­selves obliged to exact, and which they from whom they are Exacted do not Judg more intollerable than the loss of their Correspondence, which must not be hoped for but on such Concessions; They must as well [Page 39] be guilty of the interruption of this Correspondence who confine it to Conditions which even themselves confess unnecessary to be imposed, as they who so undervalue it as to refuse to purchase it by some inconsiderable Submissions even to humoursome Conditions.

§ XXXVIII AND as little as our Brethren are aware that their Discourses of this kind are founded on this Hypothesis of the Churches being no Body Politick, especially when themselves are obliged in Interest to urge Au­thority for the restraint of their own refractory Sub­jects; yet, if any do yet doubt of it, I shall, without Digression, only desire them to consider the natural and obvious tendency of those Principles so eagerly maintained among them concerning the Power of the Church's being not a Power of Coercion but only of Perswasion (which coordinate private Persons may as well challenge as Governours) and concerning the Justice of their defending their Christian Liberty (as they call it) even in things Indifferent and in opposi­tion to Ecclesiastical Governours (which plainly over­throws the Duty of Submission in Subjects which ne­cessarily answers Authority in Governours) and the great Disparities, which they always pretend when they are urged with any Parallel Instances wherein themselves acknowledg any Coercive Authority, be­twixt such an Authority and that which they will ac­knowledg in the Church, that I may not now charge them with such Extravagancies of particular Persons as are neither generally owned, nor are Fundamental to their Non-Conformity.

§ XXXIX AND from this Irreconcilableness of their Practices in urging the same Authority to their own Subjects which they have denyed to their Governours, it comes to pass that they are unable to give any Positive consistent Hy­pothesis agreeable with it self, and exclusive of the [Page 40] pretences of Seditious Persons. Though I must withal confess that of all the Non-Conformists the Independents, as in other Cases, so here, seem to me to speak most Con­sequently to the Principles granted them by the Presby­terians (who shewed them the first Precedent of Divi­sion) in placing the first Seat of Government in the Com­mon People. For this gives the most consistent account of the Calling & Succession of their Ministers notwith­standing their not being empowered by such Officers as, according to the Government established, from which they separated, were only possessed of the power of Cal­ling in an Ordinary way, and will afford the best Apolo­gy for their resisting the first Church-Officers, whilst they were countenanced by the Communalty, to whom they conceive the Officers themselves accountable.

§ XL BUT besides that this Hypothesis is very Precari­ous, and because that, though the Communalty had been Originally invested with this power, yet, the Peaceable Prescription of so many Centuries against them wherein this Power has been exercised by, and ac­knowledged as the Right only of Church-Officers, and unanimously submitted to as such by the concerned Communalties themselves (which is certainly sufficient to alienate even a Just Title that is by any Humane Means alienable, and, by the Principles of Government, must make it as Schismatical for them forcibly to re­trive it without the consent of those whom they found actually possessed of it, as it would be Seditious now for any to attempt to restore the old British, or Ro­man, Title to England, because they were once good and Legal) I say besides these Presumptions which lie against this power of the People for legitimating their Ʋsurpations; yet if this were granted to be the Peo­ples Right, there are further very Just Exceptions against their Dissenting Brethrens Proceedings which [Page 41] may make it questionable, whether what has been done in favour of them be fit to be reputed as a valid Act of the People themselves. For either they must establish some. Ordinary Rules of Assembling and Acting by which it may be known what is really transacted by the Communalty, and what is only pretended to be so by a few Seditious Dissenters (without which no Notion of Government, not so much as Democratical, is in­telligible) and upon these Principles either they will, I doubt, find it more difficult, than they seem to be aware of, to Justify their first Separation from any Regular Proceedings of the Communalties themselves, (neither their Assemblies being Legally indicted, nor their Suffrages being Legally managed, according to the necessary Laws of Democratical Government:) Or they must allow a liberty of Separation to every one who can perswade so many of the Communalty to joyn with him as may make a distinct Church, that is ac­cording to them, Seaven Persons. That is, two Parties, two Witnesses, two Judges and an odd Person that the Suffrages of the Judges may not be even. And thus they plainly overthrow all Government, so much as Democratical, unless over such small Numbers as Seaven, and allow every Seditious Person, who can Proselite them, a Liberty of Subdividing from, and in opposition to, themselves, by the same Precedent as they have done from others.

§ XLI BUT if on the other side the Ʋnity of the Church be supposed to be that of a Body Politick, the true No­tion of SCHISM must be this, that it dissolves the Church's Ʋnity in such a sense as this. And because this Ʋnity consists in a due Subordination of Governors and Governed, therefore the Notion of Schism con­sequent hereunto must be this, that it is an Interruption of this Subordination. And therefore 1. such a Se­paration [Page 42] as denies not only Actual Obedience, but the Lawful Jurisdiction of Superiors, and withdrawes Subjects from the proper Legal Coercions of such a Society, especially if continued in the same Districts where Separation from Government is not intelligible without opposition to it, must needs be Schismatical. For where there are two Governments not Subordinate there must needs be two Bodies Politick, and therefore that Separation which interrupts this Subordination, and erects an Independent Government must conse­quently dissolve this Political Ʋnity, and be Schisma­tical. This therefore, being the true ground of this Notion of Schism, must be the principal thing re­quisite to be proved against our Adversaries. And whether it be proved directly, that the Church is such a Body Politick, and it be thence inferred that such a Separation as that I have been speaking of is properly Schismatical; or whether the Separation be first proved Schismatical and this Political Ʋnity of the Church be thence deduced, both ways of proceeding will come to the same event.

§ XLII ESPECIALLY considering 2. that though indeed we can by Reason prove it very convinient and avaylable for the Salvation of particular Persons, that they be thus confederated into Political Societies, yet we cannot prove it so necessary as that, Antecedently to all Po­sitive Revelation, we might have been able to conclude that God must have thus confederated them. For besides the great Presumption and Ʋncertainty of this way of Arguing what God must have done from what we esteem fit and convenient, (acknowledged by all Equal Persons in Instances whereof they may be pre­sumed Equal Judges, that is, when this Argument is produced in favour of Adversaries) the Argument is then more especially Weak and Imprudent when the [Page 43] conveniences are no greater than still to leave many things to the determination of Humane Prudence (and such they are here) and when we can have securer ways of Arguing, as none will doubt but that it is much more secure to Enquire what God has actually done from actual Revelation, than from our own fal­lible. Conjectures what was fit to have been done by him, especially in things so Indifferent and Arbitrary as these are concerning which I am at present discoursing. If therefore it may appear that God has actually made the Church a Body Politick, it will follow that resistance to Ecclesiastical Governors must be actually comdemned by God as Shismatical; and, on the contrary, if it appear that God has actually condemned Resistance to Ecclesiasti­cal Officers as Schismatical, it will also follow that he has made the Church a Body Politick, there being no other difference betwixt these two ways of Arguing, but that one of them is a priori, the other a posteriori, but in both of them the Connexion is equally certain from its own rational Evidence.

§ XLIII 3. THEREFORE, As this actual Constitution of the Church is most proper to be proved from Scripture, so the most satisfactory way of proving it thence will be, not only to prove thence the Duty of Obedience to be required from Subjects to their Ecclesiastical Superiors, but also to discover from thence the mischief likely to befall Subjects upon their Disobedience. For 1. it is in vain to constitute a Government, or a Body Poli­tick, properly so called, without a Coercive Power over its particular refractory Members. And therefore if, in the Constitution of the Church as established in the Scriptures, there appeared nothing Coercive over its particular Members to force them to the perfor­mance of their Duty under pain of a greater Preju­dice to be incurred by them in case of refusal than that [Page 44] of barely acting irrationally and indecorously, this very Omission would make it suspicious that the Duty exacted from them were no more than that Reveren­tial respect which we commonly conceive due to Per­sons of excellent accomplishments, or from whom we have received particular Obligations, though they have no Right of Jurisdiction over us; but not that Obedience which is properly due to Governours of So­cieties by virtue of their Offices, without any regard to their Personal accomplishments, and our Obligations to them. So that this real Prejudice which is likely to be incurred by the Subject in Case of Disobedience, is very necessary to be discovered from the nature of the Constitution of the Church, as it is expressed in the Scripture, even in order to the clearing the Nature of the Duty, and the extent of the obligation of this Authority.

§ XLIV AND 2. the Church being, on this Supposal, an External Body Politick, its Coercive Power must also be External. And therefore, though the validity of her Censures be derived from Gods seconding them, that is, from his remitting or binding in Heaven what she remits or binds on Earth, yet this power will indeed be very little Coercive if Gods confirmation be thought easily separable from the Churches Act. For seeing that a Society of this nature cannot imply any External Coercion of the External Act, all the Coer­cion she can pretend to, can be no other than a De­privation of those Priviledges which are enjoyed and may be pretended to by virtue of her visible Member­ship, and an exposing the Person so deprived to all the Calamities consequent to such a Deprivation. But if the Confirmation of these censures by God be wholly resolved into the merit of the Cause for which they were inflicted, they can never be feared, nor consequently [Page 45] prove Coercive to their Subjects who are not con­vinced of the merit of the Cause it self. Which in the event will make them never properly Coercive at all, especially in regard of a Government which is ac­knowledged Fallible, as the Church is generally by Protestants. For it is to be presumed that all who stand out so obstinately against the Churches Authority as to provoke her Censures, either are not, or pretend not to be, satisfied with the Justice of her Decrees; and therefore if their own Judgments may be taken (as all the Coerciveness of such Censures as these are, which are not Externally Coercive must be derived from the Judgments of the Persons lying under them con­cerning their validity) there can be no hopes of re­claiming them by Censures who are not already such as may be presumed satisfied concerning the Justice of the Cause for which they were inflicted, and yet such alone are the proper Objects of Coercive Power.

§ XLV BESIDES those Censures which are supposed only Declarative, not Operative, are not properly the Acts of Authorized, but Skillful, Persons; for it is Skill, not Authority, that is a Prudent Presumption that any thing is such as it is Declared, and therefore the Opin­ions of Learned Doctors, though but private Persons, would, in this way of Proceeding, be much more formidable than the Peremptory Sentences of Eccle­siastical Governours as they are considered only under that Relation. I cannot see how this can be denied by those who conceive the Declaration to be purely-Speculative, and to be of no further force for obliging particular Persons than as upon particular examination of its Grounds it may appear to be well grounded. But if the Declaration be conceived to be Authentical as it is performed by such Persons, the meaning of that must be, that it must be generally presumed valid, so [Page 46] that the cases may be but rare wherein the Person ob­noxious to it may presume his own cause so good as to venture to stand out in opposition to it. And to that purpose it will be requisite that the Sentences be pre­sumed valid before God even in cases wherein Gover­nours may themselves be mistaken in the Causes of their Infliction (as I see no reason why they may not where the mistake is at the uttermost no more than an Impru­dence, not a Sin, either to Governours, or Governed; for in such a case though the Omission it self be not Sinful as considered Precis [...]ly, yet it may as Obstinacy against lawful Governours, and Disobedience and vio­lation of Peace, which will oblige us to condescend in Instances, howere Imprudent, if not Sinful, may make it so) or that the Instances wherein they may prove Invalid before God be either so rare, or so difficult to be known more securely by a Mans private Judgment than by the publick, as that it can very rarely be Judged Safe or Prudent for a Man to rely on his own private Judgment concerning them in opposition to the Pub­lick.

§ XLVI ESPECIALLY considering 3. that this Church Go­vernment is by all acknowledged Fallible in matters of that nature for which we are concerned in our present Controversy. The very Romanists themselves confess their Ordinary Ecclesiastical Governors, at least, Fal­lible in matters of Fact, and in Rules of Prudence; and our dissenting Brethren themselves do not charge our Impositions with Heresy or Immorality. But if the Censures of a Fallible Church cannot be presumed valid in any Instances wherein we cannot be assured that she is not actually mistaken, and the nature of the thing is such as does not afford certain Arguments on either side, but generally contrary probabilities on both; such a Government must generally prove Ʋseless and Ʋn­practicable, [Page 47] and therefore unlikely to have been settled by God.

§ XLVII AND then 4. the very design of the Constitution of this Body Politick being Spiritual, the Rewards and Punishments must be so too. And therefore that Sub­jects may be encouraged to Obedience, and discouraged from Disobedience, it will be requisite that they may as confidently presume that they shall receive such Spiri­tual Advantages by virtue of their admission into such a Society to which no private Dispositions whatsoever could, so assuredly, intitle them (I do not say, if they had proved negligent in their Addresses to be admit­ted into it, but also if they had not submitted to all Impositions not Sinful in Order to their reception into it) and have as Just and Probable Reasons for fearing Spiritual Inconveniences by their exclusion from it as Secular Subjects are assured of Secular Advantages or Disadvantages by their admission to, or exclusion from, Secular Societies.

§ XLVIII AND 5. it is very agreeable to the same design, that where exclusion does not (as it did in the Apostles time) expose the Person to external visible Corporal Inflictions, (as now generally it does not) there it be at least un­derstood to deprive the Person excluded of all the Priviledges he enjoyed by virtue of his being a Mem­ber of such a Society, and so to expose him to those mischieves, whatever they be, that are necessarily con­sequent to such a deprivation.

§ XLIX AND 6. it is also very consequent to the same purpose, that the Priviledges of such a Society be understood to be all the Advantages designed by God in its Erecti­on. And therefore whatever good was designed to Mankind in the Gospel there is no reason to believe that he designed it for any particulars, any farther than as they should approve themselves willing to sub­mit [Page 48] to such Terms as he was pleased to prescribe them; and it is not Credible that, if he were pleased to erect a Body Politick, he should be thought at the same time, to allow such encouragements out of it, and inde­pendent on it, as that it should be left to the Liberty of particular Subjects either to enter themselves into it, or not to enter themselves; or to submit to its con­stitutions, or to refuse submission.

§ L AND 7. that these hopes and fears may prove in an external way Coercive, it is very convenient that their application to particular Persons be transacted with particular external Solemnities. For it is by this means that particular Persons may be justly terrified with the loss of the Spiritual Advantages when they are exclu­ded from the external Solemnities of Application, without which they are not Ordinarily to be expected. And this is all which can be done by Governours, to exclude particular Subjects from such Solemnities, which can be of no efficacy for terrifying Conscien­tious Persons if the Advantages to be gained by them may also be easily expected without them. And as all this is very naturally consequent to a design of Erecting the Church into a Body Politick, and does effectually promote that design by letting Subjects understand their obligation to submit to all Impositions not Sin­ful, under pain of losing all the Ordinary means of intitling themselves to the Priviledges of the Gospel; so certainly it must give Men the most satisfactory ac­count that God has actually intended such a design, to let them understand that this is the very Method observed by God in the actual Constitution of the Church under the Gospel. And indeed whoever denies any of them will make Government so un­practicable as that it would be improbable to have been designed by God.

[Page 49] § LI But for proving all this I cannot think it rea­sonable to confine my Discourse to express Scrip­tures, both because (as I have already observed) we do not find the Scripture to enlarge profes­sedly on Instances of this nature, but rather Oc­casionally to intimate them as coincident with its principal design, as presuming them already sufficiently Notorious from the Practices of the Church to the capacities of the meanest Idiotes then living; And be­cause it is not usual for the Scriptures, even where they do indeed allude to notorious Practices, to insist Criti­cally on their true design and usefullness, which were then also so very notorious from the manner of their Practice as that the weaker fort of Christians (for whose use the Scripture was principally accommo­dated) could not be presumed Ignorant of them as they were then concerned to know them; And because it is not the Letter, but the Sense, of the Scripture for which I am at present principally concerned, and it is in Prudence the most advisable means to expound the Sense of all Laws, especially concerning Power, by the actually avowed Practices of the Courts of their respective Jurisdictions; And because the Practices of the Churches in those Primitive Ages, especially those concerning the power of the several Orders of Gover­nours undoubtedly established by the Apostles, were not permitted to the Judgment of Church Officers only as they were able to inform themselves out of the Scriptures, but were as undoubtedly settled by the Apostles themselves Personally, where themselves had propagated their Doctrine, and therefore as agreeably to their minds as if it had been expressed in the Scrip­ture it self, and accordingly those Primitive Authors on whose Credit alone we can be rationally assured of the Books of the Scriptures themselves, were as [Page 50] confident that what they could thus make out from such Practices instituted by the Apostles was as agree­able to the Apostles mind as what was written by them, and were as confident that several of these Practices were indeed derived from the Apostles as they were that several of these Books, which they have recom­mended to us, were written by them; And because the usefullness of Arguments deduced from Scripture-Consequences is generally owned by that sort of Adver­saries with whom I am at present dealing. But yet I do not intend to make use of any other Arguments for clearing the design of the Scriptures in these Par­ticulars, but such as are, in Prudence, most proper for discovering it, and such as were in all likelyhood made use of by those then living for whose use the Scripture was Primarily written, either plain Consequences, or plain Correspondencies to those Patterns from which they were Originally derived, and Notorious and Ʋn­iversally-received Practices then prevailing. And cer­tainly if the Holy Ghost had any design to be under­stood by them, he must have expressed himself so as that the Sense, which he saw them inclinable to con­clude from the use of those Means they were likely to Judge most Prudent, must have been that which was intended by himself; and it cannot be reasonable for us to fear that We should be misguided by those means now, by which they were securely conducted then. The distinct Proof of these Particulars I shall endea­vour as they fall in with the principal design of my following Discourse, not being willing to be more tedious than my Subject will necessarily Oblige me.

§ LII BUT as that Noble Society which has intitled our Nation to the Honour of being the first that has car­ried on a Publick design for the Reformation of Natural [Page 51] Philosophy, and rendring it useful for material purposes in Humane Conversation, have now unanimously agreed on it as the most Prudent Course for erecting a rational solid Hypothesis, first to inform themselves accurately of the Phaenomena by a Natural History Prudently col­lected, and Credibly attested; so the like Method of adjoyning Historical Experiments to our other Infor­mations, in Order to our passing an accurate Judgment of the whole, must needs be of Universal use in all kind of knowledge, which is only Probable and Con­jectural and a posteriori, but more especially in matters of Practice, and even among them yet more especially in such as depend on Arbitrary Institution, as matters of Government generally do. Nor will it only be a pleasing entertainment to the Reader in affairs of this nature to find the Principles so exactly agreeable to Practice and Experience and the Reasons so illustrated by all the stages and Periods of History, even where there could be nothing to reconcile them but the in­trinsical agreeableness of their natures; but a very solid Argument for mutually proving both the Reason and the History. For as it will appear that the Practice of that Power cannot be excepted against as unfit to be proposed to us as a Precedent when it is found agreeable to the Principles of the Government; so it must needs be a very strong Conviction that those Principles of the Government are genuine and natural which exactly are found Answerable to all its justifi­able Practices. It is certain that the true Hypothesis (whatever that be) must necessarily be supposed agreeable with all its Iustifiable Practices; and though it may be possible that a false one may be so too; yet neither is it likely that it should be false which is found to do so, and if it were, yet it will serve our pur­pose [Page 52] for the direction of our Practices (which is all for which we are concerned in its Truth) so well as that our mistake cannot prove Prejudicial to us, and we may therefore as confidently rely on it as ordinarily Astronomers do on their Hypotheses of the Heavens in their Calculations for which they have no better security. Besides this way of Proceeding will mu­tually supply each others defectiveness. For as there are some things so clear in Reason and express Testimony as that by them we may be able to Judge concerning Practices whose allowableness or unlawfullness is not so clear from the Histories by which they are delivered to us; so on the other side there are some Practices of whose allowableness we may be better assured from their Histories, than by the Antecedent Evidence of those Principles, on which they are immediately grounded; so that from both, a much more intire account may be expected concerning this whole affair, than from either singly. This is the reason that has induced me to divide my Discourse accordingly into two Parts, the Rational and Historical. For I con­ceived it more convenient thus to consider them distinctly than to mix them together, both that I might thus confine them within more Legible limits; and because in a Discourse of this nature wherein a Series of Principles is indeavoured, the very Inter­ruption which must have been occasioned by so fre­quent Digressions, must needs hinder the Reader from discerning the closeness of the Discourse. In this former Part, I keep close to my Method, and am more solicitous to prove my Assertions and to prevent any Adversaries Exceptions than to make formal Answers to every one particularly, which will be very easy to any who has understood my Principles; but I do not intend [Page 53] to neglect any thing that I conceive considerable, and to multiply words concerning such things as upon my stating of the Question appear to be plain mis­understandings of it, I cannot conceive likely to prove grateful to the Intelligent Reader. In the later I intend, not only to shew, that, by the Notion of Shism which was condemned for such in the first and purest Ages, our Separating Brethren cannot be ex­cused from its Guilt, but also, that the several Prin­ciples on which I ground it were owned by them, and are certainly agreeable to the sense of the A­postles.

Separation of Churches from EPIS­COPAL Government as Practi­sed by the NON-CONFOR­MISTS Proved Schismatical, &c.
CHAP. I. Less security of Salvation out of the Episcopal Com­munion, than in it, sufficient to oblige to submit to all unsinful Conditions of con­tinuing in it.

THE CONTENTS.

1. That for proving our Obligation to enter into the Commu­nion of the visible Church it is not requisite to prove that we must otherwise be excluded from all hopes of Salvation, but it is abundantly sufficient to make it appear, that we cannot be otherwise so well assured of it. This proved as to both parts. 1. As to the Negative, That it is not requisit for this purpose to prove that we must otherwise be excluded from all hopes of Salvation. §. I.II.III.IV.V.VI. 2. As to the Positive part, That for proving this Obligation to enter into the External Communion of the visible Church, it is sufficient to shew that, without such an external Communion with it, we cannot so well be assured of our Salvation; and [Page 56] that this supposition of our less security without it, is sufficient to prove us obliged to submit to all terms not di­rectly sinful, however inexpedient, in Order to the procu­ring this external Communion. §. VII.VIII.IX.X. An application of what has been said in this Chapter to the Adversaries. §. XI.XII.

§ II FIRST therefore, for proving our Obligation to en­ter into External Communion with a visible Church, and of that part of it for which we are at present more particularly concerned, it is not requisite to prove that we must otherwise be excluded from all hopes of Salvation, but it is abundantly sufficient to make it appear that we cannot otherwise be so well assured of it; And this want of so good Assurance of Salvation out of a Church-Communion as may be had in it, is sufficient to oblige a Subject to submit to all unsinful Impositions (how grievous soever otherwise) of them who have the power of such a Communion, rather than suffer himself to be excluded from Communion by them for want of such submission. Here are two things to be considered di­stinctly: 1. Negatively, that for this purpose it is not requisite to prove that we must otherwise be excluded from all hopes of Salvation. For supposing that their exclusion from all hopes of Salvation could not indeed be proved; Yet what possible security can we have, upon that account, to conclude that it is not true? It is certain many things are actually true whose truth may not appear to us who are so short sighted in our Informations, and so easily seduced in our Reasonings. And the uttermost that, in any Prudence can be concluded from this way of arguing is, only that, for ought we know, the Salvation of such may be possible, and that, considering the unavoidableness of this case to some particular Persons, and the Divine Goodness and Indulgence in such cases as are really unavoidable, and the Divine Arbitrary freedom, if not in inflicting Punishments, yet, at least, in for­bearing them, and in the dispensation of his Favours, notwith­standing his Covenant, it may be also Probable. But what then? Can any of our Brethren assure themselves that this is their case, and that they are in these Pardonable Cercumstances, and intituled to these extrordinary unpromised favours? No prudent consider­ative person can think that they are as easily excusable who can­not [Page 57] find conviction, when offer'd to them, as they who never had it offered. And is not this exactly their case? If they should prove mistaken, and they should really, as we suppose them to do, deprive themselves, by their separation, of the Ordinary means of Salvation; can they to excuse themselves pretend that they want any evidence of which the Cause is capable, or of which their dissenting Brethren are able to informe them?

NOR must they think that the supposition of their being mist­aken is precarious or unseasonable here where we are discoursing concerning the excusableness of such a mistake so supposed. For this is sufficient to shew that the confessed excusableness of the case of some Persons not communicating with the Church, and consequently the possibility of the Salvation of such Persons, is not sufficient to infer the possibility of the Salvation of our Bre­thren, unless their case be proved equally pardonable with that of those whose Salvation is acknowledged possible; so that in both cases a mistake is plainly supposed, and its excusableness is the only thing disputed of.

§ III BESIDES none can think them who venter on a course certainly mischievous, where nothing but the great apparent merit of the cause on an impartial examination can make amends for their personal guilt, as excusable as they whose Practises need no excuse, whatever their Opinions may. None can think them who separate only for indifferent Practises and probable Opinions as excusable as they who do not separate, but are driven out, because they cannot profess to believe gross Falshoods, and to approve undefensible Immoralities. None can think them who Ʋsurp a power never given them, and who refuse passive, as well as active, Obedience, and who propagate their Errors and perpe­tuate them to the perpetual disturbance of the publick Peace as excusable as they who confine themselves within their due bounds, discharge their duty to their Superiors as far as their Consciences will permit them, by a passive where they cannot with an active Obedience, and who neither propagate nor perpetuate their Errors, nor disturb the publick Peace. So that in all these particulars, to repeat no more, the disadvantage lies plainly on our dissenting Brethrens side.

§ IV AND can these general hopes and possibilities of Salvation give any comfort to them whose case is so extremely different? [Page 58] Can they still assure themselves so well of their Title to them as to venture all that is pretious and valuable, their very Souls and their Eternity upon it? If notwithstanding all these heavy ag­gravations, Schismaticks may still be rationally confident of the security of their condition; I must then indeed confess that Schism will be no more than a Theological Scare-crow (as an Ad­vocate for it has been pleased to stile it) and it will then be so generally true that their Salvation is possible, Mr. Hales. as that the Cases must be rare where they can be presumed likely to fail of it, which must perfectly overthrow the terror and abhorrency which God as a Prudent Governour must necessarily be supposed to have obliged men to, against a Sin of so extremely malignant influence on the Publick as this is.

§ V BUT suppose they were able, from this acknowledged Possi­bility of some mens Salvation out of the External Communion of the visible Church, to make out their Title to a Pardon for their mischievous Practises better, than I doubt they can; yet what wise man would not be very wary of committing that which must need a Pardon in hopes of obtaining one? Who would not ra­ther choose that side on which the most probable presumtions lay, and where fewest miscarried? Who would not think it safer to yield to any Imposition, how heavy so ever it were, if it were not directly sinful than so much as to hazard the guilt of a sin so criminal and mischievous as real Schism is? Especially considering that the cases wherein a Possibility of Salvation is to be allowed to persons out of Ecclesiastical Communion, must be rare and difficult, that the condition it self may be rendred formidable; and the very hazarding such a guilt rather than yield to an Im­position that is not sinful is certainly none of the most excusing Circumstances. Though it were possible for such a Person to nourish some hopes, yet it is not so easily intelligible how he could rationally enjoy any comfort.

§ VI THIS I am sure seems agreeable to the common sense of mankind, and I think I might appeal to the Judgment of our dissenting Brethren themselves concerning it, where they are disinteressed. It is well known what advantages the Romanists make of the Ingenuity of the Reformed Churches in acknow­ledging a Possibility of Salvation to particular Persons of their Communion; and it is as well known how unreasonable as well as unequal they are thought by Protestants in this way of pro­ceeding. [Page 59] And yet there are no Arguments producible by them to prove it unreasonable, which may not be applyed to shew the unconclusiveness of our dissenting Brethrens supposal of the security of some persons out of the External Communion of the visible Church to prove the Prudence of their venturing on it. For will they say that, notwithstanding this Salvability of particular Persons in the Romish Communion, yet it is so little to be ascribed to their being of that Communion, as that their being so is rather a Prejudice, than an Advantage, to their Salvation, to be rather excused, than recommended; nay that their danger is so great, and the escapes so rare, and so incapable to be made out to the comfort of the Person concerned, as that not only that Commu­nion cannot Prudently be chosen upon equal terms where a better may be had, but that all tolerable terms, that is, all that are not sinful, are rather to be born with than that a better should not be actually obtained? And is not this a plain Confession that a bare possibility of Salvation out of the external Communion of the visible Church is not sufficient to excuse them from submitting to all lawful, however inconvenient, terms of obtaining this external Communion? Especially when it may appear that this state of wanting this external Communion, is, and may be, not­withstanding this Argument, as prejudicial to Salvation, and as dangerous, and as rarely escaped, and as little capable of admini­string comfort to the Party concerned, as that of Popery. And this is as much as I am concerned for at present, only to shew the weakness of this Argument, from the acknowledged salvability of some particular Persons out of the external Communion of the visible Church to overthrow the necessity of our joyning with it in order to our comfort and assurance of Salvation; whence it also appears clearly how little we are concerned to disprove that Salvability.

§ VII I PROCEED therefore 2. To shew farther Positively, that for proving this Obligation to enter into the external Com­munion of a visible Church it is sufficient to shew that without such an external Communion we cannot so well be assured of our Sal­vation; and that this supposition alone of our less security with­out it is sufficient to prove us obliged to submit to all terms not directly sinful, however in-expedient, in Order to the procuring this external Communion. This will be easy if it be considered. 1. That there may be a Rational Obligation in Prudence to secure [Page 60] our own Interests, and what may prove conducive thereunto, and to avoid such things as may prove prejudicial to them, as well as an Authoritative Obligation to submit to the Impositions of any Superiors whatsoever. Nay this Rational Obligation is so far from falling short of that which is Authoritative, as some less wary persons may conceive, as that on the contrary it is the Foundation of all Authoritative Obligation. For all Authorita­tive Sanctions are imposed on Subjects only in vertue of the Re­wards and Punishments annexed to them, so that, as he who undervalues the Rewards and Punishments can have no rational inducement to submit to the Laws, so the only Original reason of valuing the rewards and punishments can only be the value of those interests which are concerned in them. And as, in this re­gard, this kind of Obligation is generally greater than that which is Legal, so there cannot be a securer measure for discerning the greater or lesser Obligation of things of this kind than by the greater or lesser momentousness of the Interests concerned in them. For as it is certain, that lesser Interests ought in Prudence to give way to greater, and consequently may be denied in com­pliance with those Impositions which are necessary to be submitted to in Order to the securing those which are greater; so the greatest of all are most Obligatory, and can never yield to any Laws whatsoever, because no Rewards or Punishments whatsoever can be ever supposed sufficient to countervail them. Now this is the Case exactly here, there being no other Interest comparable to that of our eternal Salvation.

§ VIII HENCE it will be easy to infer, 2. That all terms not di­rectly sinful, however in expedient, are necessary to be submitted to in Order to the securing this great Interest of our Salvation. For as this obligation to secure our greatest Interests in the first place is the first fundamental Principle of all Laws, so the second is this, That for securing our greater Interests we are in prudence obliged to yield those which are inferior. For this is the reason why we are obliged to Laws even contrary to our own humours and interests of lesser concernment, because the Interest yielded in obedience to Laws is less than the Interest procured by the rewards and other advantages of the society established by them, and because the prejudice incurred by the performance of Duty is less than the Prejudice of the Penalty, or of the Dissolution, or disturbance, of the Society it self. Seeing therefore that all [Page 61] terms not sinful are lesser evils than the loss of our Salvation, it will follow by this second fundamental Principle of humane So­cieties that they are all to be yielded as far as such yielding may prove necessary for the security of this. But because it is not so much the hazard of our Salvation it self, as the hazard of our assurance of it, and consequently of our present comfort of it, that we can so properly take for granted in our present discourse, therefore it will concern us to shew that though our Condition were never so secure in it self, yet even the loss of our Assurance that it is so, and of that Evidence which is requisite for ground­ing a prudent rational Assurance, is a mischief to us greater than any we can suffer by the most, I do not say Imprudent, but Op­pressive, Ecclesiastical Constitutions, if they be not sinful. Which will therefore by these principles of Obligation, oblige us ra­ther to yield to all compliances of this nature than to hazard the loss or considerable diminution even of this Assurance.

§ IX TO this purpose I consider further, 3. that this security of greater Interests designed in the practise of this compliance in yielding of lesser is not indeed barely for the securing those In­terests in themselves, but also and Principally the securing them to the Judgment of the Person complying, that he may also Judge them to be secure; and that this is not only actually true in practice, but also that it must be so considering the reason of the thing. For neither indeed can any real security of any external Object whatsoever be really for our Interest any further than it may be known and judged to be so; nor if it were capable of being our Interest, yet is it capable of being a reason of any of our compliances; nor is it capable of being either our present In­terest, or the present Reason of our Practice without a present sa­tisfaction of our Judgments concerning it that we really believe it to be our Interest, and really believe it secured by this compliance, so that it is in vain to pretend that the excellency of the promises of the Gospel can be a rational inducement to us, to do any thing for them at present any farther than we may at present be satisfied that by doing so we shall secure our Interest in them. These things I conceive so easy as that I cannot think it necessary to digres so far as to prove them: and accordingly we find that no man can be rationally induced to enter into any So­ciety, or to submit to any Impositions barely on account of the real conduciveness of such submissions to his greater Interests, [Page 62] unless he may be rationally convinced that they are his real In­terests which are promoted by such submissions and that they are really promoted by them. So that, in order to our present design, it comes to the same purpose in reference to our present actings, whether we lose our Salvation it self, or lose the comfort of being secured of it by our being deprived of the External Communion of the visible Church Submissions, and that they are really promoted by them. So that, in order to our present design, it comes to the same purpose in reference to our present actings, whether we lose our Salvation it self, or lose the comfort of being secured of it by our being deprived of the External Communion of the visi­ble Church.

§ X THIS therefore being supposed, that our assurance of our Salvation is the great reason of all our Religious performances; it will be easy to infer further, 4. that where we may be better assured of our Salvation, there we have the greatest reason to oblige us to a compliance. For if our Assurance be the ground of our Religious performances, then where our assurance is greater, our performances ought to be so too; and where the assurance, even to us, is greatest, there can be no inexpediency in any thing else so great as that of venturing our greatest concerns on more hazardous Conditions, and therefore there can be nothing which, by the common Rules of Prudence, can be judged more avoy­dable. If therefore it may appear that, by our External Com­munion with a visible Church, we may be better assured of our own Salvation than by any performances whatsoever that we are capable of doing out of that Communion, at least may be better assured of the Success and efficacy of a good life within the Com­munion of the Church in Order to our Salvation than we can of the same good life in a separated condition; it will follow that the proof of this better Assurance will be alone sufficient to oblige all considerative Persons (as they tender the better Assurance of their Salvation, that is indeed, all the comfort they are capable of receiving from the hopes of it in this Life) not only to embrace this External Communion, where it may be had, but also to submit to all tolerable, that is, all unsinful Conditions of obtaining it, notwithstanding that all possibility of Salvation were not denyed without it.

§ XI NOW to make some application of what has been said to our Adversaries, by this First Observation it appears how un­conclusive [Page 63] to our purpose it is what they discourse concerning the Salvability of particular Persons either out of Church Society, or independently on it. For though their pains had been more success­ful for proving the sufficiency of Faith and Repentance for Salvation independently on the Sacraments, or any other Exercise of Ec­clesiastical Society, than, from our following Principles, it will appear that they are; yet all this would not come home to dis­prove our Obligation resulting hence to submit to all unsinful Conditions for obteining Ecclesiastical Communion; unless they could prove, either that such a Condition is more secure than that of being in the External Communion of the Visible Church, that is, that we can be better secured of the success of Faith and Re­pentance out of the Church, than in it; or that, supposing the contrary (that we can be better satisfied of the security of our condition, even upon performance of Conditions, in this Exter­nal Communion of the Visible Church than out of it) this would not oblige us, in the way I have explained it, to submit to all such Conditions of obtaining it; neither of which has been as much as attempted by them. Nay I very much doubt whether they themselves, when the Case is thus truly stated, will differ from us in asserting the much better security of a Communicant, where Communion may be had on terms not sinful, than of a Person out of Communion. Nor indeed do I see how they themselves can avoid it.

§ XII FOR though the Sacraments were no channels of Divine Grace, and though there were no Divine Influences Instrumentally con­veyed in the Exercises of Ecclesiastical Communion any more than in our ordinary Political and Oeconomical Duties, and though they had no other goodness in them than what they are capable of receiving from an Arbitrary Positive Command; yet even this were sufficient to make a state of Actual Communion preferrible to that of a separate Condition, even in reference to our Assu­rance, inasmuch as there is far more reason for him to be assured of the Divine Favour, who besides his Moral Eternally obliging Duties is also punctually observant of the Positive Commands of God than for him who neglects lesser on pretence of observing greater Duties; and he has certainly a better Title to the Divine Favour who yields to any thing not sinful rather than he would break even a Positive Command, (which breach must needs be sinful when it may be avoided on such Terms) than he who [Page 64] suffers himself, to avoid such yielding, to be transported into such a violation of his Duty. Our Saviours words are very express, That whosoever shall break the least of his Commandments, St. Matth. v.19. and teach men so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven, that is, as it is usually understood, none at all; And St. James, That he that should keep the whole Law, and yet offend in one point, is guilty of all. St. Sam. 11.10. And certainly he that is so, cannot be so well assured of his Salvation. And if it be not so much as the violation of a Positive Command to abstain from actual Communion, I do not see how they can avoid denying the Divine Authority to be con­cerned for the Sacraments (for if they acknowledged it to be so they could not deny the Sinfullness of resisting it) and conse­quently denying the perpetual Obligation of the Sacraments. And then it will be impossible for them to explain any Sinfulness in Schism, as it is a Division of a Body Politick; which as they are Consequences I doubt unavoidable from this Supposal, so I verily believe that they will be so detested by our ingenuous Ad­versaries as that they will oblige them to some serious second thoughts how they may avoid them.

§ XII BUT though we could be better assured that true Repentance should find acceptance with God independently on Sacraments, or any other Act of Church-Communion; yet it is not conceivable how there can be true Repentance in them who willingly abstain from Communion when it may be had by compliances not Sinful. For I believe our dissenting Brethren themselves do not under­stand by Repentance a bare sorrow for our past Sins, but a serious and universal design of Reformation for the future, and accordingly that he who lives in any known avoidable Sin cannot be said to be truly Penitent. Nor do I believe that they will deny any viola­tion of our Political Duties to be as truly and properly Sins as the violation of those which are Personal, so that he who lives never so Temperately as to himself, yet if he disturb the Society where he lives, he cannot be supposed in this sense universally Re­formed, and therefore not truly Penitent; nor do I think that they will deny that there is a Duty incumbent on private Persons to preserve the Peace of Ecclesiastical, as well as Civil, Societies (I am sure the Scripture recommends this principally, even above the other) and that nothing but direct Sin can excuse us for the omission of any Duty. Now upon these Concessions it is impos­sible that he who is hindred from the Peace of the Church, or from [Page 65] her Communion by any Impositions not Sinful can be supposed thoroughly reformed, or consequently truly Penitent. So that still this obligation to maintain the Church's Peace, and to submit to its unsinful Impositions, on account of the greater security of our Salvation in its Communion than out of it, remains unshaken by any thing which our Adversaries have yet Objected to the contrary.

CHAP. II. That we cannot be so well assured of our Salvation, in the use of Extraordinary, as of Ordinary Means.

THE CONTENTS.

§ I The 2. Head, That for proving this want of so solid Assurance of the welfare of particular Persons out of Ecclesiastical Com­munion as may be had in it, it will be sufficient to shew that, however God may provide for the Salvation of particular Per­sons, in an Extraordinary way, without this external Commu­nion, yet, that this is a Case indeed rare and Extraordinary, and not easily to be expected, and therefore not to be trusted with any confidence; and that, at least, the Ordinary Means of Salvati­on are confined to the External Communion of the Visible Church. The difference betwixt the Ordinary and Extraordi­nary Means of Salvation. §. I.II.III.IV. The former Head proved in both particulars: 1. That we cannot be so well assured of our Salvation in the use of Extraordinary, as of Ordinary, Means. The Extraordinary Means whereby we may be assured of our Salvation are Conjectures concerning the Divine Uncovenanted Goodness. Concerning these it is proved 1. That the Assurance grounded on these Conjectures is not such as can afford any solid comfort to the Person concerned. The extream difficulty of making application of what might be con­cluded from this Divine Uncovenanted Goodness to particular Cases. §. V.VI.VII.VIII.IX.X. The particulars necessary for Assurance in this Case are such as God is not obliged to by his Uncovenanted Goodness. §. XI.XII.XIII.XIV.XV.XVI.XVII. 2. The comfort that might otherwise have been expected from these Conjectures is not comparable to that which may be had from those general Ordinary Means which God hath provided for by express Revelation. This proved by three Degrees. §. XVIII.XIX.XX.XXI.XXII. 3. These expectations from Extraor­dinaries [Page 67] not seasonable in our Adversaries Case who might ob­tain the Ordinary Means by Concessions not Sinful. §. XXIII. 4. The relief by Extraordinary pretences to Gods Uncovenanted Goodness must needs be rendred more difficult since the establish­ment of Ordinaries. §. XXIV.XXV.XXVI.XXVII.

I PROCEED therefore to the 2. thing proposed, That none be can so well Assured of his Salvation out of this visible Church, or consequently out of that part of it of which Providence has made him a Member, as in it; And that this Visible Church must be the Episcopal, that particularly to whose Jurisdiction he belongs. This may be resolved into two easie parts: 1. That though our Salvation might be equally sure in it self, yet, at least, that none can be so well assured of it in the use of Extra­ordinary, as of Ordinary, Means; 2. That the Ordinary Means, at least, of Salvation are indeed confined to the External Com­munion of the Visible Church; And that the Episcopal Church, under whose Jurisdiction any one lives, is that Visible Church, out of which the Ordinry Means of Salvation are not to be had by any whilst he lives under that Jurisdiction.

§ II 1. THOƲGH our Salvation might be equally sure in it self, yet none can be so well assured of it in the use of Extraordina­ry, as of Ordinary, Means. For clearing this it must first be un­derstood what we mean by Ordinary, and what by Extraordina­ry, Means of our Salvation. The Means therefore whereby we may be assured of our Salvation are those whereby the Difficul­ties occurring in the procurement of our Salvation are most Re­gularly provided for. And they are reducible to these Heads: 1. To assure us that our past misdemeanors Antecedent to our ad­mission into the Favour of God, both of Original and Actual Sins, shall not be imputed to us for the future, to our Prejudice. For till we be assured of this we shall have very Just reason to Question the real security of our condition. And because our Natural Strength is not sufficient to perform our Duty for the fu­ture, though all our past offences had been really forgiven us, and yet without probable hopes of our future performance we can have no assurance of our future Security; therefore it is further re­quisite 2. That we be, upon our own Endeavours, assured of those Supernatural Divine Assistances without which our unassisted natural Endeavours are not likely alone to prove sufficient. For [Page 68] Rewards promised to impossible performances cannot afford us any comfort, and without these Assistances our Duty would prove im­possible to us. And yet, notwithstanding these Assistances, we are still obnoxious to so many inadvertencies and impure mixtures by reason of the faint concurrence of our Wills, as might render our best performances unacceptable if God should deal in rigor with them, so that even these Assistances themselves could not sufficiently secure us of the Event, unless 3. We may also be Assured further that neither the frequent Imperfections and faileurs to which the most regular Lives here are obnoxious shall be rigorously insisted on to the Prejudice of the principal Duties to which they do adhere; nor that even those lapses into Sins, to which Sincerely-meaning Persons are sometimes inclinable, shall hinder their reception again upon a serious Repentance and Refor­mation. And yet further after all Heaven is a Supernatural re­ward and therefore not due nor proportionable, to our performance of Duty though it had been more accurate than we can pretend it is; and therefore it is requisite 4. That we be assured actually of these Supernatural rewards on performance of these Duties, which, though performed by the assistance of Divine Grace, and expiated from their appendent weaknesses and Imperfections, do very much fall short of an adaequate proportion to so glorious a reward. These are the true inducements to all those Duties which are required of us in the Gospel, and upon these depends all that rational comfort of our Consciences which we are capa­ble of receiving in this Life even from the performance of our Du­ty; and therefore those are the Means of our Salvation by which we may be secured of them.

§ III AND the difference betwixt Ordinary and Extraordinary Means, upon these Principles, is, that we call those Ordinary to which God has left the Generality of that part of Mankind for whom he has intended these Favours to assure themselves of their performance; but those Extraordinary by which those may as­sure themselves of them whose Case has something singular, not comprehended under▪ those Generals for which Ordinary Means are calculated, and therefore not capable of being Judged by those General Measures by which other Mens Cases are generally to be Judged, and yet withal has something singular not only to excuse the deviation, but also to intitle to the principal Benefits at­tainable in the use of Ordinary Means by the Equity of Gods de­sign [Page 69] in settling those that are Ordinary. For without these excu­sing Circumstances, which may expiate the deviation; and with­out these recommending, which may in Equity i [...]itle them to the reward according to the true design of God in giving it; the Sin­gularity of such a Persons Case is so far from intitling him to Ex­traordinary Means of Salvation, that as it plainly supposes him destitute of all good hopes by Gods Ordinary provisions, so it can secure him no other refuge in that destitute condition.

§ IV SO that, to explain this difference by an Ordinary familiar Parallel, the Ordinary Means of Salvation are like our Courts of Common Law by which he only can expect any benefit who can justifie his Title by Ruled Cases or standing Laws or some such other express provisions of the Legislative power, but the Ex­traordinary are like our Courts of Chancery to which he only has recourse who finds himself unable to hold out in a Legal way of tryal, and who can expect no advantage to his Cause from the general express Provisions, but only from the Equity of the true design of the Legislators.

§ V THESE things therefore being thus premised to clear the meaning of the terms, I now proceed more immediately to shew the thing designed, That we cannot be so well assured of our Sal­vation in the use of Extraordinary as of Ordinary Means. And though I might, from the Explication now given, appeal to the Consciences of our dissenting Brethren themselves, whether themselves would not be more confident of a Title which might abide a Legal tryal, than of such a one as must need the relief of Chancery; and of such a one as might be cleared from the plain and express words of the Legislator, than of such a one as is capa­ble of no other Evidence than only Conjectures concerning the de­sign of the Legislator, and Conjectural Consequences deduced from it, which may be judged of so very differently by different Per­sons; Yet to satisfie them of the reasonableness of it, and to make a more particular application to their Case, and that they may not think my following Discourse superstructed on any gra­tuitous Presumptions which have not been proved true in that sense which is requisite for my design, I shall therefore consider it a little more particularly. In order whereunto I consider that, though the Ordinary Means whereby Men were to assure them­selves of the Particulars now mentioned which are necessary to assure them of their Salvation, were, before the Revelations of [Page 70] the Gospel, at least in regard of the greatest part of Mankind, no better than such indefinite Conjectures concerning the Divine Goodness, yet God may alter that Case, and actually has done it since the Gospel, and clear and express Revelations of his Will when they are made are as capable of being the Ordinary Means whereby Mankind may assure themselves of their Security in these Particulars as those indefinite Conjectures to which they had been necessitated formerly for want of better Evidence. But we do not call express Revelation an Extraordinary Means, though it had been concerning a particular Case which is the only possible pretence for calling it Extraordinary.

§ VI HOWEVER as to what we are at present concerned for, it is plain, and I believe unquestionable by our Adversaries them­selves, that the Means of Salvation mentioned in the Scriptures are such only as are common to the Generality of Mankind, and that there are no favours there promised to particular Persons but such as may be equally expected by all upon an equal performance of Conditions; so that though Means of Salvation provided for by express Revelation might, in propriety of Speech, be called Ex­traordinary, yet that is not a thing capable of being pleaded in our Case. And therefore all the Assurance of which a Person is capable whose Case is so singular as that it cannot be Judged of by the general provisions of the Gospel, and who therefore can derive no comfort from any Topick deducible from thence, can only be grounded on those general indefinite Notions of the Di­vine Goodness, whereby he is ready to pardon unavoidable fail­ings, and to accept of our Wills and sincere designs for Perfor­mance even in order to the reward which he had designed for us upon performance, when it is not our own fault that we are hin­dred from actual performance. I shall therefore endeavour to shew 1. That the Assurance which can be grounded on this No­tion of the Divine Ʋncovenanted Goodness is not such as may af­ford a Person concerned any solid comfort for the performance of the things now mentioned; 2. That though it might afford some comfort, yet that comfort cannot be comparable to that which may be had from those general Ordinary Means which God has provided for by express Revelation; 3. That the expectations from Extraordinaries are not seasonable in our Adversaries Case who might obtain the Ordinary Means by Concessions not sinful; and 4. That the relief by Extraordinary pretences to Gods [Page 71] Ʋncovenanted Goodness must needs be rendred more difficult up­on the establishment of Ordinaries.

§ VII 1. THE Assurance which can be grounded on this Notion of the Divine Ʋncovenanted Goodness is not such as may afford a Per­son concerned any solid comfort for the performance of the things now mentioned. I will not in general deny it to be possible that a Man may be actually saved by being actually assisted in the perfor­mance of his Duty, and actually indulged in the defect [...] of that Performance, and actually settled in the possession of this reward. Nor will I deny that God may actually do this on account of his Natural and Essential Uncovenanted Goodness; nay may be pre­sumed frequently to do it, where he is not confined in his transacti­ons by Threat [...] expresly denounced, and clearly promulged, against Offenders (which, besides the obligation on his part from his own Veracity to performance, must certainly prove, in the Event, an exceeding aggravation of their guilt, and an incapaci­ty of pardon to them, to whom they are so denounced and pro­mulged) Not only because God is naturally Arbitrary in the di­stribution of his Favours, and he is not in that Case supposed to have confined himself by any voluntary Obligations; but also because the pardonableness of such Persons in their omissions of those Duties which to such Persons are Morally impossible, and their good meaning to the uttermost of their Abilities Morally considered may be rational inducements to a Nature so generous and beneficient as God is, not only to pardon, but reward, them. Nor will I deny further that even after God has been pleased to provide better for us Ordinarily, by admitting us into Covenant with him, and by giving us express Revelations, yet he may be merciful to particular Persons wanting the Ordinary Means with out any fault of their own, that is, when they are in a place where they cannot be had at all, or where their Fallible Superiors are so unreasonable as that they cannot be admitted to them with­out Sinful complyances. This is a thing so universally acknow­ledged, as that it is not denyed by the Romanists themselves who are the most rigorous Assertors of strict Discipline, and blind Obedience, who hold Ordinary Superiors generally Fallible, and others Fallible at least in matters of Fact, of which kind some­thing is generally mixed in most exercises of Ecclesiastical Disci­pline. And I am so sensible that this is an undue deference to Ec­clesiastical Powers to make all their Censures even where mi­staken [Page 72] and unjustly inflicted to destroy the possibility of the Sal­vation of such a Person who is not only Innocent of the Crime for which he is censured, but is ready to submit to all unsinful Con­ditions whereby he may recover the Communion he has lost, and in the mean time behaves himself Modestly, and gives Active Obedience as far as his Conscience will permit him, and Passive where it will not; as that, according to my own Observations in the Introduction, §. 10.11.12. I shall readily acknowledg those Arguments Fallacious that prove it, and shall therefore be wary that my own Arguments be not liable to any such Excep­tion.

§ VIII THAT therefore which I shall at present endeavour shall be only to shew that how much soever Gods Natural Goodness may incline him to do for us; yet these general Presumptions con­cerning it are not so satisfactory to our particular Consciences, to assure us of any of the Favours now mentioned, barely on that account; And consequently cannot Encourage us either easily to presume that God may not be of the mind of our Superiors in matters Disputable, or that he will not confirm their censures, though mistaken, if we do not make use of all the Modesty and Endeavours now mentiond for recovering actual Communion. For though it be indeed most certain that God is good, and that his Goodness does exceed infinitely that of the best natured Men; yet it is withal as certain that he is not Fond, and that his Good­ness must be reconciled, not only with his other Attributes, but also the Intrinsick Merit of the thing, especially as it may have influence on the Government of the Word, and particularly on that of Mankind, that is, that his Goodness cannot prompt him to do any thing but what, on some of these accounts, is really rea­sonable. Now in this regard many things may be so pernicious, not only in respect of their intrinsick malignity, but also of the ill influence of their Example for encouraging others by their Im­punity, as that even his Goodness may not hinder him from an Ob­ligation to punish them. It is certain that in this regard many faults neither otherwise very great in themselves, and very par­donable in their Circumstances, are yet thought very Necessarily and Justly punishable with great severity, as the sleeping of over-watched Sentinels.

§ IX AND considering the Obscurity of many things very requi­site in this way for passing an accurate and Impartial Judgment [Page 73] concerning any particular Action; and withal considering the weakness of our Faculties either for discerning or judging with­out Prejudice; and Considering that what may indeed be great in regard of Us or that Society for which we are concerned, may yet be very little in comparison of the great designs of God for the Universal good of Mankind, and on the contrary; so that it may be as Just and Obliging, for any thing we know to the contrary, to destroy whole Nations for the good of Mankind in general, as it is confessedly obliging, notwithstanding any pre­tence of the Obligingness of Goodness to pardon, to destroy many Criminals for the good of a particular Nation; and con­sidering particularly what Liberty our dissenting Brethrens Cal­vinistical Principles allow God in the actual exercise, not only of his Justice, but, his Soveraign Dominion, notwithstanding any Obligingness of his Goodness to the contrary; and Lastly consider­ing that the Sin of Schism, of which they must prove guilty if by their own faults they are deprived of actual Communion, is of that sort which is mischievous to the Publick and for whose Pu­nishment God is therefore more concerned, and wherein his Relation of a Governour confines that Liberty he might other­wise have of pardoning it: I say, all these things being im­partially considered, it cannot be thought so easy a matter to assure him of his good condition that, upon any account so­ever is deprived of actual Communion, as our Brethren con­ceive it.

§ X SEEING therefore that in these Extraordinary Cases, God may, with perfect Justice, withdraw his Ʋncovenanted mercies, such of them especially as he is not by his Goodness obliged to grant us; and Seeing that our Information is so extremely im­perfect as that we cannot secure our Selves in these Cases, whe­ther his Justice be not only permitted, but obliged, to the actual infliction of Punishments (in which Case it is unreasonable to expect that his Justice should be over ruled by his Goodness) and Seeing that his Justice which is infallibly guided by his Omnis­cience is certainly obliged in many Cases which our weaker and more Prejudiced Faculties may not Judg so dangerous; the com­fort must needs be very small that can be gathered from these general Presumptions. Nor is it in the least disagreeable with the design of God as a Governour, that even they who in the event shall have the benefit of his Indulgence should at present [Page 74] want the comfort of it. Not only to oblige them to greater cautiousness in approving their own Sincerity by all Lawful en­deavours to recover Communion; but also to discourage all others who might otherwise venture on their Case though they would not manage it with like Sincerity. For by rewarding them in the other World God sufficiently corresponds with his natural Goodness; and yet by making their condition uncom­fortable in this World he does no more than what becomes him as a Governour to deter others from imitating them without the like necessity; Seeing nothing but a like necessity can make it any way Prudent to venture on a State in it self so extremely dangerous and uncomfortable.

§ XI BUT besides this extreme difficulty in making application to particular Cases even in those very Instances wherein God may be supposed Obliged, by his natural Goodness to do something for them (without which particular application it is impossible that particular Persons should enjoy any solid comfort) I consider fur­ther that the particulars now mentioned, for which we are at present concerned, are such as purely depend on his Arbitrary pleasure, and to which he is not obliged by that Beneficence which is natural to him as he is the Creator and Governour of the World. And when this is proved it will then appear how little ground there can be for any to be confident of any comfort in this con­dition so as to venture on it on any avoidable, that is, on any unsinful conditions. For how can any one assure himself of Gods actual will in things depending on his Arbitrary disposal without particular express Revelation? And I have already given warn­ing that that is not to be expected in this Case of Extraordinary Means of which I am now discoursing. And yet this will ap­pear true in all the Particulars now mentioned. For neither is he obliged by this Natural Beneficence to do any good to his Creature as Offending, but only as Obedient; Nor does any necessary reason oblige his natural Goodness to pardon that of­fence of which his Creature must be supposed Guilty Antece­dently to his Indulgence; Nor, if he would pardon the offence, does his natural Goodness oblige him to give his further assist­ances for future Obedience; Nor, if he would do this, is he obliged to reward his Creature having once offended, and much less to accept of an imperfect instead of a perfect Obedience in order to a reward; Nor, if he would be further pleased to [Page 75] admit us to a capacity of a reward, is he obliged by this na­tural Goodness to reward our best performances with a Superna­tural and Eternal reward.

§ XII He is not Obliged by this natural Goodness to do any good to his Creature as Offending, but only as Obedient. For as a good Go­vernor of the World he is only so far Obliged to do good to his Creatures as may make them voluntarily subservient to the end of his Government. Now to this purpose, the most rational way (and it is by the reasonableness of the thing that this sort of Obli­gation is to be measured) is only to do good to those that are Obedient. For if they who are disobedient do yet partake of the Divine Goodness as well as the Obedient, it will thence appear that Obedience is not made the only Means of obteining the in­fluences of that Goodness, and therefore that such Goodness cannot be a rational inducement to secure actual Obedience, if it may be hoped for without it. I desire it may be remembred that I am not now speaking of the Divine Goodness as inducing, but as Obliging, God, that is, only of that precise degree of Goodness which is necessary to be exerted by him if he would approve himself a gracious God and a good Governour. And so the Argu­ment will proceed with greater cogency. For if, notwith­standing our Sins God be Obliged by his natural Goodness still to do us good, and especially if he be obliged to shew his Goodness to us in the instances now mentioned, to forgive us our Sins and to receive us to Favour and Rewards, &c. So that he cannot ap­prove himself a good God, and a gracious Governour, without it (and it is impossible that he should not act according to the Obli­gation of that natural Goodness, as impossible as it is for him to cease to be a good God, and a gracious Governour) than it will be plain that our Sins can prove no hindrances to his Goodness to us. Which if they do not, what rational Obligation can car­nal Persons have to leave them, when notwithstanding their com­mitting them they can lose nothing by them?

§ XIII POSSIBLY it may be Objected, that God may be as much obliged by rational inducements as others are by Positive Commands, and it may be conceived to be as difficult for him not to do what he knows to be fit and rational, or to do what he knows to be otherwise, as to omit what he knows necessary to be done, or to do what he knows necessary to be omitted; inasmuch as he may be conceived obliged, not only by the necessity of the [Page 76] thing, but by that also of acting rationally. But besides that this Objection does as much overthrow the Divine Liberty in other things as in the distribution of his Goodness, and therefore must in other regards be acknowledged solvible by our Adversaries them­selves as well is in this: I am not at present particularly con­cerned to undertake it. For my present design it is abundantly sufficient that by the same reason whereby we Judg any thing else free to God. (and it must be a great violence to our own Faculties and a contradiction to the Current of the Scripture totally to deny the Divine Liberty) we have also reason to believe that he freely distributes the good things for which we are at pre­sent concerned. For supposing there were nothing really free as to God himself, the reason then why we should conceive any thing as▪ free to him would be only this, that we should conceive those things as free to him for which we knew no necessarily ob­liging reason, and we must necessarily be ignorant of such a rea­son in such things which exceeded our natural capacities. And therefore considering that, Antecedently to Positive Revelation, the only reason which we can conceive as obligatory to God, to do any good to his Creature, is his Relation of a Creator or Go­vernour to it, whatsoever is not obligatory to him on these ac­counts must, in this way of proceeding, be conceived as free to him. At least our Ignorance of any obligatory Cause is perfectly sufficient for my present design, to shew how little ground of comfort we can have from such an expectation on these Terms.

§ XIV NOR did any necessary reason oblige his natural Goodness to pardon these Offences of his Creatures, at least no such reason as is discoverable by us▪ from these Relations of his being our good Creator and Governour. This appears clearly from the Revelations of the Gospel by which we know that we were, upon account of our Offences, perfectly liable to the actual inflictions of his Justice. If we had not been so, what need had there been of the Satis­faction and sufferings of Christ for attoning the Divine Justice for our Sins Antecedently to our admission into the Evangelical Co­venant? And if we were, it must necessarily follow that he was not obliged by his Providential Goodness to pardon us. For the Divine Attributes must not be conceived as inconsistent with each other, and they must needs be so if God may there Justly punish where he is, by his natural Providential Goodness, obliged to [Page 77] forgive. For in this Case the very Right of his Justice must be overpowered by his Goodness. And it is further considerable in this Case, that his Justice does as well concern him as a Gover­nour as his Goodness; whence it will also further follow that, if the Justice of his Government will permit him actually to pu­nish, then the Goodness of his Government cannot oblige him actually to forgive. For no actual Practice of God can possibly oppose any Obligation of his Nature. Nay further yet it is to be remembred that the Obligation of his Justice it self is indeed no other but a higher Obligation of his Goodness. For it must not be conceived that the essentially-Good nature of God can be ob­liged to inflict any evil whatsoever as an evil. But that he is obliged to punish the offences of particular Persons, when either a greater good is promoted by the punishment than could be by the Impunity, as none can doubt but that the good of the Publick is greater than that of a particular Person, and more concerning God as he is a Governour; or even when the mischief likely to befal even the particular Person himself, if permitted to go on without Punishment is indeed greater than that of the Punishment it self (which may also be applied to our present Case, not that any evil can be greater to the Individual than Damnation, but that real Damnation, which may be avoided by the fear of it in this Life, is indeed incomparably a greater mischief than the fear it self) this is indeed only a higher Obligation of his Goodness, and therefore uncapable of being taken of by such an Obligation of the same Attribute as is certainly inferior.

§ XV NOR, if he would be actually pleased to pardon his Creature, is he yet obliged further to give it his further assistances for future Obedience. For besides that this is a favour Additional to the former, and of which the Creature cannot, even by the Law of Gods Goodness it self, be supposed capable till it be fitted for it by the former (I mean of that Goodness which obliges him to act, not Fondly, but Justly and Rationally, and in compliance with his other Attributes) and therefore cannot be due where the former is not, as none can think him to have any Title to higher, who has none to lower, degrees of favour; I say besides this, there can be nothing said for disobliging God in point of his Goodness from preventing those Sins which were Antecedent to our admission to his favour at first but will proceed with as much force here, and no Objections can be urged for impeaching Gods [Page 78] Goodness, for not giving his restraining and assisting Graces for prevention of future misdemeanors, but will as well reflect on it for not giving the same Grace at first for hindring those Offences which at first made us need his pardoning favour. So that the same Reasons, which prove the former Favour undue, must also prove these Objections false and unconcluding. So that there will be no need for us at present to be-solicitous for their parti­cular Solution. Besides that this Presumption lies against them, that this is a Case wherein Reason is so far from concluding ne­cessarily on either hand, and wherein it is so little able to inform us of those Secrets of Government which if we understood we may conceive very likely exceedingly to alter the merit of the Cause, and therefore actual Revelation concerning it must needs be a surer way of arguing, and in Prudence much fitter to be trusted for regulating our Practice than any of those general Conjectures, which our Reason is able to propose concerning it.

§ XVI NOR yet further (though he should be pleased to grant the Assistances of his Grace for the better security of our future Obe­dience) does his Goodness oblige him to reward his Creature having once offended, and much less to accept of an imperfect instead of a perfect Obedience in Order to a reward. It does not oblige him to reward his Creature having once offended. Indeed Reason of State may sometimes oblige such Princes, whose wellfare depends upon the State, to connive at Rebellions where the Persons en­gaged in them are numerous. But where Princes themselves are less dependent, and can Right themselves notwithstanding any whatsoever opposition of their Subjects, it may indeed become their Clemency, but they cannot be obliged to reward them even upon their return to their Duty and their better observance of it after they have once been pardoned. Especially where Justice and the Publick Interest require a publick satisfaction, for fear of the ill consequence of an Example of Impunity, as our dissenting Brethren themselves confess the Satisfaction of Christ to have been necessary in our present Case. If it be requisite for the Good of Mankind that Divine Justice should be satisfied before the Creature could be pardoned, no Providential Goodness could oblige God to give his own Son to suffer for that purpose; much less to give him for Mankind, and not for the fallen Angels; least of all to purchase rewards for Us whilst we were in a Condition [Page 79] of Hostility, and to reward those Services which as they come from us are weak and imperfect and full of impure ad­herences, and as they come from him are no other than his own Gifts.

§ XVII BUT if his native Goodness should even thus far prevail with him as to pass by these disadvantages on our part, and to pay this debt of a Reward, not to our performances, but to his own [...]ative Generosity; yet the highest Rewards which concern him as a Creator and Governour of the World are only Natural. And the concession of these as they were abundantly sufficient, to prevail with the Creature, in a way of rational inducement, to comply with the designs of his Providence; so they were enough to intitle him a good Creator, and a bountiful Governour. But it could have been nothing more derogatory to his Providential bounty to have refused Supernatural Rewards than it is that he has not given all Men the uttermost advantages for the Goods of their minds their Bodies and their Fortunes, which there is no doubt but that his Omnipotence could have procured for them.

§ XVIII 2. THOƲGH this Assurance, which may be grounded on this Notion of the Divine Ʋncovenanted Goodness, might indeed afford some comfort to a Person who had nothing else to rely on; yet that comfort cannot be comparable to that which may be had from those general Ordinary means which God has provided for by express Revelation. And this Observation comes perfectly home to the Case for which we are at present concerned, that is, to prove our dissenting Brethren obliged to submit to all unsinful compliances rather than want the use of the Ordinary means of Salvation. For, by the Principles proved in the former Chapter, the less security of a State for Salvation (but especially then when this less security is extremely little, as I have now immediately proved it to be) is sufficient, not only in Prudence ▪ to perswade them to endeavour for a State more secure; but also in Conscience, to oblige them rather to submit to any condition of gaining it that is not Sinful, than fail of it. For proving therefore that the Assurance which may be gained by the use of these Ordinary means is indeed greater than that which may be had by Extraor­dinary, I consider that whatever is pleadable from this Ʋncove­nanted Goodness is much more strongly pleadable from that Good­ness which may be expected by such as are in Covenant; That [Page 80] none of those Exceptions which have been objected against the former way of Arguing in Case of Extraordinary means are capable of being urged in Case of Ordinaries; And that indeed the thing is of that Nature that, as it cannot be proved by any necessary consequence from the Divine Nature, so, the only competent proof to be expected for it is only actual express Revelation.

§ XIX WHATEƲER is pleadable from the Ʋncovenanted Good­ness of God is much more strongly pleadable from that Goodness which may be expected by such as are in Covenant. For God does not cease to be naturally Good by entring into Covenant with us; and whatever is necessary for approving himself thus Providenti­ally Good before, must also be necessary after. For his being pleased to condescend so far as to enter into Covenant being only a higher instance of his Goodness cannot be conceived to disoblige him either from being or appearing as Good as he was formerly, and whatever is necessary to make him appear so, being necessary on account of its own nature, must be so unalterably and eternally. And though it be certain that God is not by his natural Providen­tial Goodness obliged to be alike Good to all; yet that it self is not pleadable in our present Case, as if he might on this Arbitrary account in the actual Dispensation of his Goodness be expected better to those who are not in Covenant with him, than to those who are. For they who are so far favoured already as to be admitted into Covenant with him are not only thereby intitled to the further Favours which are expresly treated for in the Covenant, but also to the indefinite expectations of his Provi­dential Goodness. For by admitting them thus far, he plainly owns them as his peculiar Favorites; and Favorites are always looked on as the most likely Candidates for unpromised, as well as promised, and Covenanted, Favours. And as they who are thus far owned have, even in this way of Arguing from the Equity and reasonableness of the thing it self, a much fairer Title, and consequently a much better Argument for assuring themselves in their pretensions to those indefinite Favours than they who are not; so they have above them that evidence of express Revelation of which the condition of others is not capable. Which is not only an Additional but a surer Argument in things of this nature, and of which Men in their Ordinary Conversation are generally more confident. Every one is much better satisfied with the [Page 81] express Promise even of a good Man than with his good inclinations and well wishes; and wher ever they are any thing diffident, it is to these express Promises that they have their ultimate recourse for satisfaction.

§ XX NOR are any of those Exceptions, which have been objected against the former way of Arguing in Case of Extraordinary Means, only from Gods indefinite Goodness, capable of being urged here, in Arguing from his formal Covenant, and express Revelation. All those Arguments concerning the obscurity of many things to our Rational faculties, which in this way of proceeding, are absolutely necessary for Judging accurately, or indeed with any Probability are here prevented. For how obscure soever they are to us, yet they are sufficiently clear to God, on whose Testi­mony it is that we are obliged to believe what he has been pleased to reveal. And when we are thus assured of a Truth by the Testimony of him who infallibly knows it, we are not then so much concerned for other things which may have a connexion with it, either as Objections or Arguments, because we are sure such a Testimony is a much better Argument to prove it true than any deducible from such Topicks, either for proving or dis­proving it. Especially when the thing is such as we have shewn the Subject of our present Disputes to be, that it does not it self fall immediately under our cognizance, and when the Objections also do not disprove it, but only weaken the force of some Argu­ments produced for proving it, as those are which we have made use of against the Arguments only producible by Reason unassisted by Revelation. Especially considering also that not only Gods actual Revelation is a much better Argument to assure us what may be expected from him than only indefinite Conjectures con­cerning his natural Goodness; but also that the Arguments, whereby an actual Revelation may be proved, are more clear, and cogent, than such Conjectures. Nor are those Arguments, which were there made use of, to prove him not obliged by his natural Goodness to confer those favours on us which he has designed for us in the Gospel, conclusive here; because it may please him to do many Favours for us to which he is not obliged by his natural Goodness, and it is his actual pleasure that we are assured of by actual Revelation.

§ XXI FROM whence also appears the Reasonableness of what was proposed in the last place as considerable for clearing this present [Page 82] Head, That the things necessary to be proved, in order to the com­fort of Persons here concerned, are such, that, as they cannot be proved by any necessary consequence from the Divine Nature; so, the only competent proof to be expected for them is only actual ex­press Revelation. This is so clear from what has been already said, that it will only need application. For having shewn that our Title to these favours does not appear from any necessary Obligation incumbent on him by virtue of his natural Goodness, it plainly followes that their distribution is free and Arbitrary to him. Now in such things as these the only way of knowing his actual pleasure is by an actual Revelation. So that from hence it appears, not only, that Revelation is a much more solid Argu­ment for comfort than these Conjectures from the Divine Natural Goodness, but also that it is the only Argument in most of those Particulars requisite for this purpose where these Conjectures are not capable of proving them actually true, but only possible to be so▪ that is, indeed where they are not capable of being any Argu­ments for positive comfort, but only Exceptions against those Argu­ments, that are deducible from the Divine Nature Antecedently to Revelation, which might drive them into direct Despair. Which none can in Prudence think it safe to trust to where better may be had by unsinful condescensions. Especially considering how far actual Revelation may after the Case, and that God may be obliged to do many evils to us, on account of his actual Reve­lation, to which he had not been obliged by any of his Essential Attributes.

§ XXII AND for bringing this whole Discourse more home to our dissenting Brethrens Case, I only desire further that it may be remembred that their Case, who cannot plead a Title to the Pro­mises by the performance even of those External Conditions which are required by the Gospel, is exactly the same in this re­gard with theirs who might have pleaded for Gospel Favours, by the performance of Moral Duties, Antecedently to actual Reve­lation. They can plead as little Revelation for their comfort, as the others. For though the Gospel do not expresly deny its Fa­vours to the performers of the Moral Conditions without the external and ritual ones; yet it is withal as certain, that it does, with as little expressness, intitle such to them. So that both of them are alike necessitated to depend not on its Letter, but its Equity. And it is withal as clear that this Equity of the Gospel [Page 83] cannot be pleaded independently on the Letter, from any other Topick but only the Divine Essential Ʋncovenanted Goodness; and that what is either obliging to God in regard of his Essential Goodness, or the Equity of his design in promulging the Evan­gelical Covenant, is alike obliging to him in respect of Heathens, who never heard of the Gospel, as in respect of those who have heard it, but cannot assure themselves of their Interest in it by their performance of its Conditions, Ritual, as well as Moral. For the only Favour he can be thought to entertain for Christians not performing Conditions is only this, that, by making that per­formance more possible to them, he has thereby admitted them to better advantages for gaining a Legal Title to the Priviledges of the Gospel. But upon any faileur in performance of Condi­tions, the Divine Goodness and Equity is so far from giving them any advantage above others, as that they are less excusable than others to whom that performance is not so possible; and none can doubt but that they, who may be admitted to Ordinary Means by compliances not sinful, and willingly want them rather than they will submit to such compliances, must be much more culpable than they who cannot be admitted to them by any compliances whatsoever. And therefore by the same reason whereby it has appeared that these Conjectures from the Divine Goodness are improper, and insignificant for comfort, in the Case of Heathens, without express Revelation; they will also be as insignificant to failing Christians. For it is altogether as Arbitrary to God whether he will excuse the non-performance of, even External, Conditions when they may be performed without Sinful com­pliance [...], as whether he will accept of the Moral Conditions alone where the Rituals are utterly impossible. And consequently those as well as these are as incapable of being assured of the Goodness of their Condition without express Revelation, which in this Case must be as private and particular as in theirs, seeing it is so little spoken to in the general Revelations of the Gospel.

§ XXIII BUT further 3. These Expectations from Extraordinaries are not so seasonable in our Adversaries Case, who might obtain the Ordinary Means, by Concessions not Sinful. So that whatever force this Argument might have in other Cases, yet it can have none in theirs. For the very name of Extraordinaries plainly implies that they are such Means as God is pleased to make use [Page 84] of upon the fail [...]ur of Ordinaries; and that, if they may be ex­pected by any, they may most probably be expected by them, who (as they cannot be supposed by any fault of their own to have failed of the use of Ordinaries, nor consequently to have for­feited their interest in Gods good will to them as their Creator and Governour so,) may therefore expect those indefinite effects of that good will which is natural to him as so related to them; not only such to which he is obliged by this Good will, but also such as are supposed to be at his Arbitrary disposal. For as even such things may not be despaired of by such, to whom as he is naturally thus well affected, so they are not conscious to themselves of any neglect on their part that might demerit or diminish this Affection. So that it is plain that the whole reason of this hope is their present Interest in Gods good will; which if they have forfeited, God may still wish as well to his Creatures and Subjects as formerly, yet so as that his well wishes can administer no com­fort to them who have lost their Title to it. And how is it possible that he should have the confidence to expect Extraordinary Fa­vours from God, who has through any neglect of endeavour on his own part failed of those that are Ordinary? How can he with any reason expect any of those Favours to which God is not pre­cisely Obliged by that Goodness which is natural to him as a Creator and Governour, whose actual performances have been so little endearing that he has nothing that can recommend him to this natural Love of God but precisely that he is his Creature and Subject, though an undutiful one? How can he expect that God should condescend so far as to vary from his own General Rules and Ordinary Provisions, and not only to excuse his deviations from them, but to contrive Extraordinary Means for his particular Salvation, who in the mean time is so unwilling for his sake to part with his own humour in compliances not Sinful? But this, as it comes also exactly home to our dissenting Brethrens Case, so, I conceive it so clear as not to need any further prosecu­tion.

§ XXIV 4. THEREFORE it is further to be considered, that the relief, by Extraordinary pretences to Gods Ʋncovenanted Goodness, must needs be rendred more difficult upon the establishment of Ordi­naries. For since the establishment of Ordinaries, there is reason to presume that God has declared it, not only as agreeable to his wisdom, but his actual pleasure, neither to save many without the [Page 85] use of those Ordinary Means; nor indeed any but such as have these Ordinaries, at least in voto, and that so efficaciously as that no Difficulties, or Impositions not Sinful, howere Inconvenient, could hinder them from their actual use. So that such a Person who may have the Ordinary Means on any tolerable, that is, not Sinful compliances, cannot, if he want them, have any solid rea­son for Comfort on account of Gods Goodness in an Extraordinary way.2 Kings v.10. St. Joh. ix.7. Act. xxvii.31. Ver. 22.24. This is agreeable with the constant Rule of Gods pro­ceedings in matters of this nature. Thus Naaman could not be cleansed from his leaprosy till he had washed in Jordan; nor the blind man in the Gospel cured of his blindness, till he had washed in the pool of Siloam; nor could St. Pauls companions have expected to have escaped Shipwrack, notwithstanding Gods Promise for it to him (which I am sure is an incomparably stronger and more convincing Argument than our general guesses at the Goodness only of his Natu [...]e) if they had not kept within the Ship. And in the Case I am at present discoursing of, the reason is very easy. For it is not conceivable that God should institute Ordinary Means of Salvation, and yet leave it to the Liberty of his Creatures to neglect them without any pretence of unavoidable Necessity, or Sinful compliances required as Con­ditions of them. And particularly in these External Ordinary Means of Salvation, the only reason obliging us to the Observa­tion of them is the Spiritual and Supernatural benefit to be pro­cured in the use of them (as the Reward is the only Obligation to the performance of Duty in any Case whatsoever) and there­fore certainly it must be the Intention of God, in inviting us to the Observation of these External Ordinary Means of Grace by the Promises of these Supernatural Assistances in the use of them, that they who are deficient to themselves, in not using their ut­most Diligence to procure these Means, should fail of the Re­ward.

§ XXV AND though Antecedently to the Divine Positive Injunctions we might indeed expect the effects of the general Divine Good­ness without such Positive Observations; yet the reason why we might do so is plainly this, because in that Case we should have no reason to fear least we should incur the Divine displeasure by such a neglect, and so being able to maintain a Conscience on our part of having kept a fair correspondence with God according to our weak abilities, we might expect the general [...]ffects of the [Page 86] Divine Goodness and Indulgence. But where God has expresly required an external Observance, and has sufficiently promulged his mind concerning it, and the Creature obliged knows its Duty, and yet neglects it, or does not use all Moral Diligence, or sub­mit to all Lawful compliances rather than hazard the Probability of provoking God by its omission, there it is plain it cannot pre­serve this clearness of Conscience on its own part, which is the only solid ground of any probable expectations of the Divine Favour; whence is necessarily followes, that, in this latter Case its hopes must necessarily be confined to the performance of its Ordinary Duty. And considering that it is God who requires this External Duty from them, and who must therefore be pre­sumed displeased by its Omission; and considering that no In­convenience whatsoever can in any reason be thought comparable to that of the loss of the Divine Favour; it plainly follows that no Inconvenience whatsoever can in any reason be sufficient to excuse this Omission, and therefore, that nothing can do it under Sin.

§ XXVI BUT in the Subject of our present Discourse it is further considerable that besides this general Diffidence which ought in reason to follow from the Omission of any of the Divine Com­mands; there is a particular reason to distrust the conveiances of Grace when we do not make use of the Means of that con­veiance: as in Gods Ordinary Providence there is reason to distrust a Harvest when we have neglected plowing and sowing; not only in regard of the displeasure of God to be feared from the neglect, but also of the nature of the things as he has been pleased to order and establish them. It is very true that God can, even since his establishment of the Ordinary Means of Grace, give his Grace without the use of the Ordinary Means, now as well as formerly, and that he has sometimes done it. And it is withal as True, that he can give a Harvest without the labour of the Husbandman, nay and has sometimes done it too, as in the Seaventh Year,Lev. xxv.5.11. 2 King xix.29. and in other Cases, among the Israelites. But our Enquiry is not what may be done, but of what we may be confident that it will be done; and therefore not what is barely Possible, but what is also Probable: for of such things only we can have any comfort or confidence. And can any Prudent Hus­bandman be confident of a Harvest in such a Case because God can give it him still, and sometimes has given it? If such a hope [Page 87] be counted extremely Irrational and Presumptuous, and God be ordinarily thought obliged by the Rules of his general Providence to defeat and disappoint it, to confine Men to the Ordinary Means of their own Diligence, and so to oblige them to a regular and constant subserviency to the designs of his Ordinary Providence; let it be considered whether it be not as reasonable to expect the same dealing here, to confine Men to the use of the Ordinary means of Salvation. Is not the Salvation of Rational Creatures, for whose use the World it self is Created▪ as considerable in the Eyes of Providence as those Laws of the inferiour Creation which were only designed for their use? God himself has shewn the greater esteem he has for the wellfare of his Rational Creatures, when for their advantage, even in particular Cases, he has broken the general Laws of this inferior Creation.

§ XXVII AND is it probable that he should be more scrupulous in main­taining the Rules of this less valued Government than the Rules of the Government of those whom he is pleased more highly to value? Is it likely that he should be more solicitous to oblige Men to use their utmost Diligence in providing for their Animal Life, than their incomparably more valuable Interests of their Eternal Sal­vation? Or is not a confinement of their Diligence to the use of the Ordinary means of their Salvation as Prudent an Expedient to keep them lively, and active, and subservient to Providence, in working out their own Salvation; as a confinement to the Ordinary means of procuring external advantages is to oblige them to a subser­viency to general Providence? Gods care for the Salvation of one Nation, the Jews alone, induced him not only to perform Miracles at the first Publication of his will to them, but also to a perpetual Succession of Miracles to future Ages. Such, besides those now mentioned, were those of the Shechinah over the Mercy seat, the Oracles of Ʋrim and Thummim, the ordinary Succession of Prophets, the water of Jealously, &c. And can we think that God would prefer the Rules of Ordinary Providence before this infinitely more valuable Dispensation of the Gospel? Could his care then be greater for a single Nation than it is now for the general Salvation of Mankind? Or for a Law designedly Temporal than for his Everlasting Gospel? Or for a Covenant confirmed by the blood of Bulls and Goats than that which has been confirmed by the invaluable blood of his dearest Son? For Promises, Primarily and Literally, only relating to their settle­ment [Page 88] in a terrestrial Inheritance than those exceeding great and pretious ones of an exceeding and eternal weight of Glory? I am sure the Apostle teaches us otherwise to argue.Heb. x.28.29. If he who bro [...]k Moses's Law died without Mercy under two or three Witnesses; Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy who hath troden 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? If there­fore God valued the Law of Moses before that of the inferior Creation, he must rather prefer that of the Gospel before it. And therefore if Men may not expect the benefits of Providence without the Observation of the Ordinary Means, and all possible Industry in obtaining them; no more can they, with any solid Prudent confidence, expect the benefits of the Gospel without their utmost Industry for procuring the Ordinary Means appoin­ted by God for that purpose. Thus much concerning this. 1. Particular, that though our Salvation might be equally sure in it self, yet we cannot be so well assured of it in the use of Extraordin­ary as of Ordinary Means.

CHAP. III. The Ordinary Means of Salvation confined to the External Communion of the Visible Church.

THE CONTENTS.

§ I The Ordinary Means whereby we may be assured of Salvation must be Promises conveyed to us in a Legal way by the Solem­nities of a Covenant. §. I.II. 2. The Ordinary Means of Salvation, at least, whereby we may be satisfied of it, and receive any comfort from it, are confined to the External Com­munion of the Visible Church; And that the Episcopal Church, under whose Jurisdiction any one lives, is that Visible Church out of which these Ordinary Means of Salvation are not to be had by any whilst he lives under that Jurisdiction. This to be proved in two Parts. 1. That these Ordinary Means of Salvation are confined to the External Communion of the Visi­ble Church. §. III.IV. This proved by three Degrees. 1. The Ordinary Means whereby we may assure our Selves that we in particular have any interest in the Divine Promises is by assuring our Selves that we in particular are in Covenant with God. §. V.VI.VII.VIII.IX.X.XI.XII.XIII.XIV.XV.XVI.XVII.XVIII.XIX.

NOW the Ordinary Means of assuring us of the Divine pleasure herein, either concerning his Supernatural As­sistances, or concerning his Indulgences to our ordinary failings, or of his rewarding our weak and imperfect performances with Supernatural Felicities, being all of them things depending on his Arbitrary pleasure can be no other than Promises and a Covenant solemnly confirmed to us. That they are things perfectly at his Arbitrary disposal plainly appears from all that has now been said, by which it has been proved that he [Page 90] is not necessitated to them by any Obligation of his naturally Bene­ficent Nature, nor by any Relation by which he is necessarily re­lated to us as our Creator and Governour, which might further endear him to us. And as for any further Relation to which he is not so naturally determined, the very Favour of entering into such a one is as arbitrary as any thing else that depends on his free disposal, and therefore cannot prejudg against the freedom of all the Favours consequent to it. Now in Arbitrary things wherein God is, as to any Obligation of his Nature, indifferent which way he determines himself, it is impossible to know which way he will be pleased actually to determine himself without actual and express Revelation. And because the actual performance of these things must be future as well as present, not only as to the Re­ward, but as to the Assistances also without which we could have little security of the possibility of our Duty, or consequently of the comfortableness of our Condition; we can upon these terms enjoy no solid comfort unless we may be assured, not only that it is his will at present, but that it shall be also for the future, which actual Revelation of his will for the future performance of good things to us is that which is properly called a Promise. But it is certain that God does not multiply these Promises ac­cording to the multiplicity of the Cases of the Persons concerned in them. And therefore the Promises being only General, the only way how particular Persons can assure themselves of their Interest in them, can only be by their Interest in that Body and Community to whom they are made.

§ II AND because this Community does not consist of a particular number of Persons existing in one Age, but is designed to com­prehend the generality of mankind in a perpetual Succession, and yet God is not pleased Ordinarily to presentiate himself through the several Periods of those Successions in dealing with the several Persons for whom he has designed those favours; and because that it is impossible that any Covenant can be made on Gods part without a Declaration of his consent to the Pro­mises on performance of Conditions on our part, especially in matters of that nature of which we are at present discoursing, that is, in the dispensation of arbitrary Favours, to which he is not obliged by his essential Goodness: Therefore it will be necessary that this Covenant be made in general, but that the admission of particular Persons to it be transacted the same way which is always [Page 91] thought reasonable in Contracts of the same nature where the Party Covenanting does not Personally appear, by delegating and empowering sufficient Proxies who may Seal it in his name, and by whose Act he may therefore declare himself obliged. These things are certainly so essential to the Notion of a Covenant properly so called, as that that consent which may in some Cases be presumed without them, yet cannot for any of these defects deserve the proper name of a Covenant, or infer that Legal Obligation which is the advantage of a Covenant above other Contracts which are not transacted with the like solemnity in order to our Comfort. And therefore as this Conveyance of a right to Promises by a general Covenant is the only ordinary way whereby we may be assured of a Title to them, so the application of this Covenant by these Solemnities is the only Ordinary Means whereby we may be particularly assured of our Interest in the Covenant. But that I may more distinctly shew, not only, that, in reason, this is fit to have been thus contrived, but also that it has been actually Observed in the Evangelical Covenant, and that I may bring the application more home to our particular Case; I therefore proceed to

§ III THE 2. Particular proposed, That, at least, these Ordinary Means of our Salvation, (at least, those whereby we may be satis­fied of it, and receive any comfort from it, that is, (as has ap­peared from the things now premised) Gods Promises as convey­ed to us by a Covenant, and this Covenant as Legally applyed to par­ticular Persons by Persons sufficiently Authorized by God for that purpose, to act in his name, and to engage him with a Legal valid ob­ligation to performance) are indeed confined to the external Commu­nion of the Visible Church; And that the Episcopal Church, under whose Jurisdiction any one lives, is that Visible Church out of which these Ordinary Means of Salvation are not to be had by any whilest he lives under that Jurisdiction. This consists of two Parts: 1. That these Ordinary Means of Salvation are confined to the External Communion of the Visible Church; And 2. That in refe­rence to the Duty of particular Persons that Visible Church wherein they may expect to find these Ordinary Means is the Epis­copal in opposition to all other Societies not Episcopally govern­ed.

§ IV 1. THESE Ordinary Means of Salvation are confined to the External Communion of the Visible Church. I say the External [Page 92] Communion, that I may prevent those Exceptions which many are ready to make in behalf of our dissenting Brethren; that they do already Communicate with Us in 36. of the 39. Articles, which they believe as well as We; and that they heartily wish well to all good Men of what Party soever; and that, at least, they Pray for Ʋs where they cannot Pray with Ʋs. For these, if they could; in any propriety of Speech, be stiled Acts of Communion, which no good Christian can deny even to real Schismaticks themselves, with whom notwithstanding all, who hold that there is such a thing as real Schism, must not hold it lawful to communicate; yet most certainly they are not Acts of External Communion. By this therefore I only mean a participation in those External Exer­cises whereby the Church subsists as a distinct Society, that is, a joining in the Ordinances administred in it, but especially in the Sacraments. I say the Visible Church, purposely to obviate that pretence of the Church's consisting only of the Elect, who, as they are supposed themselves not Visible, nor united among them­selves by any Visible commerce, so they think (and very conse­quently to this Notion) that Communion may be maintained with them in an Invisible way by likeness of design and Sympathy of Affection [...]. And therefore by this Visible Church I mean that Visible Society which is maintained by an acknowledgment of the same common Visible Ecclesiastical Government and by an exter­nal participation of the same common Sacraments. So that my meaning in this whole Proposition is, That a Legal Right, to these Evangelical Promises and Covenant, which are the Ordinary Means whereby we may be assured of our Salvation on performance of Conditions, is not conveyed to Ʋs otherwise than by our partici­pation of these external Ordinances whereby we profess our Selves Members of such a Visible Society which is maintained by those Or­dinances, of which none can be partakers without consent of the Vi­sible Ecclesiastical Governours, which must therefore oblige all to a Subjection to those Governours. This will be clear in discoursing concerning these particulars: 1. That the only Ordinary Means, whereby we may assure our Selves that we in particular have an interest in his Promises of any of the things now mention­ed as necessary for our Salvation, is by our assurance of our be­ing engaged in Covenant with him; 2. That the only Ordinary Means whereby we may assure our Selves of our Interest in this Covenant with him is by our partaking of these external Solem­nities [Page 93] whereby this Covenant is transacted and maintained; and 3. That the partaking of these external Solemnities with any Legal validity (which can only be a ground of comfort to a Person concerned in this Case) is only to be had in the external Communion of the Visible Church.

§ V 1. THEREFORE, the only Ordinary Means whereby we may assure our Selves that we in particular have any Interest in these Divine Promises (without which assurance it has appeared to be in vain for particular Persons to challenge any comfort) is by as­suring our Selves that we in particular are in Covenant with him; so that, at least the Negative way of Arguing (for which alone I am at present concerned) will hold here, That he who cannot as­sure himself that he is in Covenant with God, can also never (in an ordinary way at least) assure himself that he in particular has an Interest in the Divine Promises. For proving this I desire it may be Observed 1. That it is only the Obligatory force either of the Divine Promise, or Covenant, that can be a solid ground, (I do not say, of comfort in general, but, at least) of any positive Assurance, and consequently, at least, of that degree of comfort which requires positive Assurance. This appears from what has been already discoursed under the former Head. 2. Therefore it is to be Observed further, that Promises and Covenants are Legal transactions, and that God himself herein condescends to the capa­cities of his Creatures, so that they may be capable of judging him obliged to them by the same Legal rational measures whereby they are capable of entring into Obligations to one another. That it was Gods design that his Creatures should understand him as thus obliged is very easie to be understood from his using ex­pressions plainly significative of a Legal conveyance with all its Circumstances according to the Customes of those Nations. Thus the name of a Covenant, of a Mediator, of a Testament, of a Surety, of Sealing, of giving an earnest and First fruits, &c. are plain terms of Law, and allusions to the Customes of Legal conveyances in those times, and therefore were so most obviously intelligible by those Persons (who were concerned in them im­mediately, and to whose capacities they were immediately fitted) of a Legal Obligation, and consequently were in all likelihood de­signed by God himself so to signifie. Unless we can suppose that he designedly made use of Expressions which, by all Regular and Prudent measures of Interpretation, were likely to be misunder­stood [Page 94] by his Creatures concerned in them, which it not reconcila­ble with his Goodness and Veracity. Besides this appears from his doing this in Writings of a Popular stile, and particularly fitted to the vulgar capacities, who were certainly like to under­stand him thus where they found their own familiar Expressions used, and their Terms alluded to; nay from the many instances in the Epistle to the Hebrews especially, where that Divine Au­thor himself has given us Precedents of Arguing from the re­ceived Legal Notions, concerning the nature of Contracts (that Testaments are not of force till the death of the Testator, Heb. ix.17. Heb. ix.18. that Co­venants must be confirmed with blood, &c.) which had been ex­treamly improper if he had not supposed in general, that Gods Covenant with Mankind in the Gospel was of the same nature with other Legal Contracts.

§ VI FOR it is to be remembred that in these Discourses he is not so much to be considered in the Quality of a Revealer of Gods Will, as of a Disputant; and therefore as arguing from Pre­misses, not only granted by the Persons with whom he had to deal, but also true in themselves, and secure in their Consequences. For it is not probable that he would have laid the main stress of so considerable a part of his Discourse only on Arguments ad homines. And seeing that, in this way of Arguing, the reason which he supposes sufficient to assure his Readers of the Truth of the Premisses of such Discourses could not be any Authority of his own (for if the Premisses must have been believed for his Authority, why might not the same Authority suffice for rendring the Conclusions also Credible which were to be deduced from them? And if so, what need had there been of any Arguments or deductions?) He must therefore plainly suppose that Gods dealing with them was really by way of a Legal Contract, and that all Maxims requisite to the nature of such Contracts, according to the concurrent sense of such Persons as in that Age were most Prudently to be presumed to be best acquainted with the nature of such Contracts, were also applicable to these Divine Contracts; and that Arguments grounded on such Maxims were solid and conclusive. For these were the only proper reasons for assuring such Persons of their Truth, Antecedently and independently on the Apostles Authority; and therefore, by the same tenor of arguing, all those other Propositions to which they were equally applicable must be presumed equally true.

[Page 95] § VII 3. THEREFORE it hence follows that the nature of the Obligation of these Divine Promises and Covenant is to be ex­plained in a Legal way. And that not only by the Laws of Na­ture, and Nations in general; but also, in many instances, by those then prevailing among the Hellenistical Jews (for whose use the New Testament seems to have been primarily designed) those of the Roman Empire in general, and those of their particular Nation. But especially the securest arguing in this kind will be from the Laws of Nature and Nations, and the general rational Notions concerning the Obligation of this sort of Contracts, not only such as are really agreeable to the nature of the things them­selves, but also such as were conceived to be rational and agree­able to the natures of the things by the unanimous consent of civilized Nations, and of the Masters of reasoning whose Au­thority was then had in general veneration. For though God be not any farther, than he pleases himself, obliged by particular positive Constitutions, because he is not subject to the Authority by which they are established; yet by virtue of the essential rectitude of his Will whereby it is necessarily conformed to the Rule of right Reason, we cannot conceive any thing necessarily obliging in point of Reason, and yet conceive him indifferent to its observation. And therefore whatever, I do not say is, but, is by us conceived to be, rationally obligatory in the nature of these Contracts; that we may presume to be obligatory even to God himself, when he is pleased to enter into such Contracts with us. For the very design of all Contracts being to give mutual secu­rity for performance on both sides, it is very rational that we be the same way assured of performance on Gods part as we give security for performance on ours. But this cannot be unless the same reason of obligation be supposed equally cogent in both Cases. Now it is plain that our own obligations are measured by our own Notions; and therefore unless we may Judg of Gods obligations by the same measures, we may conceive our Selves to give security where none is given us, which is not agreeable with that Simplicity and fair dealing which we must needs conceive in­separable from Divine Contracts.

§ VIII I SAY, not only is, but is conceived, both because our Con­ceptions, as erroneous as they are in themselves, are yet the only possible measures of our comfort; And because I have already shewn that it is not rational to believe that God will suffer the ge­nerality [Page 96] of those, to whom his Revelations were at first proposed, to be lead into any actual Error by following their own conceptions in such Cases; And because I might, by this Clause, give a reason of the latter part of my Assertion, that not only in general Propo­sitions concerning the nature of the Obligation of these Contracts, but also in such as were repvted for such by the greatest Masters of reasoning in that Age, such an Assurance, as I am speaking of, may be securely grounded. Because the sense of these Wise-men was most likely, and in Prudence most fit, to have been followed by the generality of those Ages; and therefore must not have been supposed likely to have been permitted by Providence to mis­guide them. This I do the rather observe because they are these general Rules, and eternal Reasons, concerning the Obligation of these Contracts for which I am at present solicitous, and on which I do intend to superstruct my future Discourse.

§ IX 4. THEREFORE these Promises of forgiveness of our past Sins, and assistance in our future performances, and accep­tance of our imperfect Righteousness as if it had been perfect, and passing by our daily frailties, and accepting of our weak per­formances in order to a Supernatural reward, are to be considered as the things to be performed on Gods part of the Evangelical Covenant. This appears from the expressions of the Covenant it self, as they are transcribed from Jer. XXXI.31, 32, 33, 34. by the Author to the Hebrews Heb. VIII.8, 9, 10, 11, 12. where, on Gods part of this Covenant,Jer. xxxi.33. Heb. viii.10. Jer. xxxi.34. Heb. viii.12. it is promised, That he will put his Laws into their minds, and write them in their hearts (by which terms are implyed all his gracious assistances of them for the performance of their duty) and That He will be merciful unto their unrighteousness, and that their Sins and Iniquities He would remember no more, by which may be included his whole Indulgence to their Sins, not only his perfect forgiveness of their Sins past implyed in his remembring them no more, but also his bearing with their future frailties, which may appositely enough be intimated by his being merciful to their unrighteousness, as Ʋrighteousness may signifie, not that which is contrary to Righteousness, but that which falls short of it in point of Perfection, and as being merci­ful may imply a weakness and imperfection in the Persons to whom it is shewn which might be a rational inducement to the ge­nerous nature of God to incline him to mercy. Though I confess when I consider the frequent use of these terms otherwise in the [Page 97] sacred Writers, and especially that frequent practice among them, of making the later part of a verse exegetical of the former; I cannot undertake that this Critical distinction must necessarily have been designed by the Prophet himself. Yet on the other side considering how many things this Author to the Hebrews himself infers from the Old Testament, from the native signification of the terms whereby they are expressed, as designed by the Holy Ghost, how little soever thought of by the Sacred Writers themselves; this Exposition cannot barely on that account be necessarily concluded irrational, whilst it appears congruous to the strict signification of the terms themselves. But however though this Exposition should fail, on account of the Critical importance of those terms; yet it may be included even in the later expressions themselves, if by the Sins and Iniquities which he promises to remember no more, be not only signified those mis­demeanors whereby they had forfeited their Interest in the first Covenant, and made themselves unworthy of the Second,Jer. xxxi.32. Heb. viii.9. in which regard they are said not to have continued in his Covenant, (that is in the former Covenant) and therefore not to have been re­garded by God, which must therefore only imply such Sins as are Antecedent either to the Constitution of the New Covenant, or at least to their Initiation into it (as I verily believe these alone are primarily and originally intended) but also the Frailties con­sequent to their initiation into the Evangelical Covenant. Which are also capable of being remembred, not indeed in order to the establishment of the New Covenant, or their admission into it, which must here be supposed Antecedent to it; but in regard of the accomplishment of the Evangelical Promises to them, several of which are supposed future to them whilst they live in this World.

§ X BUT whether the remission of Sins of Frailty consequent to the Covenant be implied in these Words or not, yet most cer­tainly it is in the Covenant it self; unless we suppose this New Covenant less merciful than the Old under which there was ad­mitted an ordinary way of expiating Sins of this nature; and besides it might have been proved from several other Texts of the New Testament, if it had been necessary.Jer. xxxi.33. Heb. viii.10. That which I desire only to remark further at present from this Text, is, that it is expresly mentioned as one of the effects of this New Covenant, that God would be unto them a God, and they should be unto him a [Page 98] People. Whence it will be easy to infer that Gods Promises only belong to them as in Covenant with him, because it is only by that Covenant that they become his People. For I believe our dis­senting Brethren themselves will not think that these Promises were ever designed by God for any but his own People, even in this restrained sense whereby they are made his People by virtue of this Covenant with him; and to others that yet are not so only on condition of their becoming so. And if they had doubted of it, it had been easy to have proved it. Thus Christ does not so much as pray for the World, but only for them whom his Father had given him out of the World, St. Joh. xvii.9. In the same sense wherein Judas himself had been given him, Vers. 12. which could not be understood of a giving successful in the event, but only of a giving of external initiation into his Covenant, which is the very sense for which I am at present concerned. And it is only to as many as are thus given him by the Father, that he has power given him of the Father to give eternal Life, Vers. 2. and to raise them up at the last day. St. Joh. vi.39. as both eternal Life and the Resurrection are usually understood in the best sense, only for a state of Happiness. And they are only they who thus come unto him ( [...], a word signifying Proselitism and the external rites of initiation then requisite for that purpose as it was then practiced among the Jews) that he will in no way cast out, St. Joh. vi.37. And to this purpose those Texts might have been urged which are produced for proving Christs dying primarily for the Church. And the Answers to them will be prevented in the Sequele of this Discourse, whence it will appear both that Faith and Repentance themselves, on which they so much insist, are not available to Salvation, at least not pleadable in a Legal way, without our being of the Church; and that the Church of which we are Obliged to be is an External Body Poli­tick.

§ XI BUT at present, for proving that Gods Promises are indeed only His part of the Covenant, what can be more clear than that on this account the Jews are said, under the Old Testament, to have had a particular Interest in Gods Promises? So St. Peter tells them that the Promise was to them and to their Children, Act. ii.39. and to all that were afar of (that is with this limitation) even to as many as the Lord our God should call, Eph. ii.12.13. that is to as many of the Gentiles as should be admitted into their external Society by Proselitism. [Page 99] For by the Phrase afar of the Gentiles are usually signified. And it is not credible that he could here have taken it for granted that the Gentiles were Salvable on the bare Moral Conditions of Faith and Repentance without external Proselitism. For he seems here to argue from the Concessions of his Auditors, concerning whom it is notorious that they never believed the Gentiles Salvable on such easy terms: And St. Peter himself was not as yet convinced of the Salvability of the Gentiles on other terms than Proselitism to the Jewish Worship, Act. x.28. xi.16.17. till his Vision upon occasion of the Story of Cornelius; and when he was, we yet find him difficult in be­lieving of it, as appears from his separating from them as impure upon occasion of the Brethren that came from Jerusalem 14. Years after St. Pauls conversion, which was long after,Gal. ii.12.13. a sign that even then he had not the confidence to urge it as an Argument to the Jews, as it is plain what is here insisted on is urged by way of Argument. Nor is the Promise here mentioned that of the Messiah being of their Nation, or of their numerousness, (of which the Gentiles, though Proselited, were still uncapable) nor indeed any of those Temporal ones which particularly con­cerned them as even their Civil affairs were governed by a Theo­cracy, but Spiritual ones of remission of Sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, as appears from the verse immediately preceding. And certainly these, if any, concerned them more immediately as a Church, and may therefore by exact parity of reason be expected to be confined to the Christian Church now, who have succeeded them in that capacity.

§ XII BESIDES it seems exceeding clear, from the whole cur­rent of the Apostles Discourse upon this Subject, that the Gospel has only thrown down that partition wall (as the Apostle calls it) whereby the Jews as a particular Nation had been discriminated from the rest of Mankind; so that the same Priviledges which had been appropriated then must, by the tenor of this reasoning,Eph. ii.14. be understood to be made common now. Yet so as that this enlargement of the Gospel is not so to be understood as if every Individual Person of other Nations might immediately challenge these Priviledges, by virtue of the Evangelical Covenant, upon performance of the Moral Conditions, but that now all are capable of being admitted into the Covenant it self; which will conse­quently intitle them to those Priviledges, without being obliged to leave their National Customs, or to incorporate themselves into [Page 100] a particular Nation, as they were then conceived obliged to in­corporate themselves into the Nation of the Jews in order to the gaining a compleat Title to all those Spiritual Priviledges. This as it fully satisfies the design of the Apostles Discourse, so it still supposes a like confinement of the Promises to the Evangelical Covenant as had been to the Legal, the only difference being that all are capable of being admitted to the Covenant now, who had not been so formerly. Thus again the Apostle St. Paul tells us, that theirs were the Adoption ( [...]) and the Glory, Rom. ix.4. (the She­chinah) and the Covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the Service of God, and the Promises. And besides this mention of the Adoption, which was clearly a Spiritual benefit, as also that of the Shechinah was, if by it we understand, not that Glory which appeared on mount Sinai at the giving of the Law, nor that which appeared in the cloud and pillar of fire during their journey through the Wilderness, nor that which overshadowed the Mercy seat under the first Temple, but failed under the second; but that which according to the notions of the Rabbins is supposed to rest on every Israelite on account of his being so, which seems to be the same with that which is called the Holy Spirit in the language of Christians, but according to the language of the Jews (which seems here to have been observed by the Apostle) the Ruach Haccodesch seems rather reducible to the [...] or the Gratiae gratis datae than the [...] or Gratiae gratum fa­cientes, concerning which I am at present discoursing: I say, besides these, it also appears further that the other Benefits im­plied in the general name of Promises were not only their Tem­poral Priviledges, by the general design of the Apostle in that whole Epistle, where he frequently mentions Remission of Sins and Justification, as part of those Priviledges which were con­troverted betwixt them and the Gentiles. Now if the Promises had been indefinite to all upon the bare performance of the Moral Duties of Repentance, and even of Faith in the Jewish Religion, as far as it could appear credible to other Nations, that is indeed as far as it could be obligatory to them; I do not understand what special interest the Jews could have had in them. For whosoever reads their Story, and considers the dull and sensual humour of the generality of that Nation cannot believe them more inclin­able to Faith and Repentance than the generality of other civilized Nations; so that they were not likely, by bare performance of [Page 101] the Conditions, to gain any advantage of the Gentiles in the Event, if the Promises had been equally designed for them and others. It must therefore have been from a designed limitation of the Promises themselves that they, and not others, otherwise than by becoming of their Community by Proselitism, should have a singular Interest in these Promises; Especially if we compare them with those Gentiles which lived among them (and it was with them that the Apostle compared them) to whom the Divine Revelations, as to the directive part of them, might have been as notorious as to themselves. And the most rational way conceiv­able of confining them, and which seems to have been alluded to in the Apostles Discourses on this Subject, is this, that the Promises were Gods part of the Covenant, to which the Jews were admitted, as the Gentiles were excluded from it.

§ XIII NOW though the condition of the Jews was indeed singular in this, that it was confined to one Nation so that no other Nations were admitted to it; and even no particular Persons of other Na­tions were capable of being admitted to that favour without an Incorporation into that particular Nation by the compleat Pro­selitism of Justice, whereby they became obnoxious to the Ju­dicial Law which concerned them as a Common-wealth as well as to the Moral and Ceremonial which concerned them as they were a Church; and upon that account it is that the Apostles teach us that in the New Evangelical Covenant God is no respecter of Per­sons, that in every Nation he that feareth him, Act. x.34.35. Eph. ii.14. Ver. 15. and worketh Righte­ousness is accepted by him; and that now the Partition-wall is broken down by Christ; that he has abolished in his flesh the Enmity, even the Law of Commandments conteined in Ordinances, for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making Peace;Rom. x.12. Gal. iii.28. v.6. vi.15. so that there is now no difference between Jew and Greek; but they are all one in Jesus Christ; and now neither Circumcision availeth any thing nor Ʋncircumcision; Yet all these Discourses seem only to aim at this, that all sorts of Nations may now be admitted to the Evangelical Covenant by Baptism, without remitting any of their National or Political Distinctives in compliance to any one, which was not allowed them under the Mosaick Discipline. But this Liberty cannot be urged from any design of the Sacred Writers in these Discourses so far as to excuse them from the external rites of In­itiation into the New Covenant, as if their fearing God and work­ing Righteousness, or the Faith working by Love, or any other [Page 102] Moral Dispositions whatsoever, should prove available to them in order to the procuring Supernatural rewards, without an In­terest in the Gospel-Covenant; or that they alone should, in an Ordinary way, procure an Interest in the Gospel-Covenant with­out an external admission into it in a solemn way where this ad­mission might be obteined on any tolerable unsinful terms, as our Adversaries conceive. But rather seeing the same Legal way of correspondence between God and Us is continued in a way of a Covenant; And seeing the Church with whom this Covenant is made is still a Body Politick as formerly, though not a Civil one; And seeing that God has designed to oblige all Persons to enter into this Society, & to maintein its Peace, (which could not be significant if Persons might Ordinarily hope for the same advantages out of it as in it) They will both of them seem to agree in this, that the Promises are in both alike confined to the Covenant, at least as to an Ordinary way.

§ XIV BUT besides these Arguments from Testimonies, this confine­ment of the Evangelical Promises to the Evangelical Covenant will appear from the Reason of the things themselves, even ac­cording to that account of them which our dissenting Brethren themselves conceive to be rational. To which purpose it is to be remembred that the reason why God has been pleased to admit Mankind to this favour is not his own essential Goodness alone, but the consideration of the Satisfaction of Christ by which it is purchased, and by which it is made reconcilable with the Prin­ciples of Government to admit of this Impunity of our offences without any fear of inconvenience that must otherwise follow from such an example of Impunity and Favour to Persons so of­fending. Whence it will further follow that, seeing they are the purchase of Christs blood, they are to be considered as belonging to his Right, and therefore as disposable only according to his pleasure. Now they themselves acknowledg a Covenant betwixt God the Father and Christ concerning this purchase, not only that the Promises were to become his Property, but also that their actual distribution and extent should be according to his appoint­ment. However whether the distribution of them depended on his pleasure or not, yet, as to the positive way of arguing, we who have an Interest in Christ are sufficiently secure of obteining them,St. Joh. xvi.26.27. because, by virtue of this satisfaction, his Father himself, as himself has told us, loves us, and is as careful for the perfor­mance [Page 103] as if himself had been the Person interessed in our behalf. And accordingly he has given our Saviour this power for this pur­pose that he should give eternal Life to us, St. Joh. vi.40. and he has received a Commandment from the Father to lay down his Life for us. And the very Persons are, as truly given him by the Father, as the Father himself has confined these favours only to the Persons which he should give him.St. Joh. vi.37.39. xvii.6.9.11.12. And if our dissenting Brethren would only be pleased to consider further, that the Covenant betwixt Christ and Ʋs is only pursuant to that betwixt him and his Father, and only designed for its application to particulars, that as by the Covenant betwixt him and his Father it is resolved that only his should have an Interest in these Promises, so by the Covenant be­twixt him and Mankind particular Rules were agreed upon for knowing who should be accounted his; And that Christ tran­sacted this whole affair as a publick Person the same way as Adam had done in the former Covenant; And that accordingly, as the benefit of the former Covenant belonged to all who bore the Image of the first Adam, so the benefit of the later Covenant cannot be challenged by any but those who bear the Image of the second; nay that the name of Christ is more expresly applied to the mul­titude represented by him than that of Adam is to the multitude represented by Adam: That only Adam and his Wife are called Adam, but all who have an Interest in the New Covenant are called by the name of Christ; that only Eve was said to be flesh of Adams flesh and bone of his bone, and one flesh with him, in regard of the singular manner of her production out of him, but the whole Church is said to be of the flesh and bones of Christ; Nay that this Unity betwixt Christ and his Church is expresly urged so far as that whatsoever is done to the Church is, in a Legal sense, 1 Cor. xii.12. Eph. v.30. Act. ix.4. 2 Cor. 1.5.7. 1 Pet. iv.13. Col. 1.24. Gal. vi.17. reputed as if it had been done to Christ himself, and what is not conferred on his Members is said to be wanting to himself their Head (so he was persecuted by St. Paul in his Members, and the remainder of his Sufferings in the flesh was fulfilled by the sufferings of the same St. Paul, when now a Christian, and he bore in his Body the dyings of the Lord Jesus, and from this relation of ours to Christ as of Members to our Head the same Apostle concludes it as impossible for him to have risen if we should not rise also as it is for the Head to be enlivened whilest at the same time its Mem­bers lie rotting in the grave, where I desire it may be observed that the Apostle is to be considered as a Disputant from Reason, [Page 104] not as a Proposer of Revelation) whence it will plainly follow that Christians are also included in this Legal person of Christ which is susteined by him in transacting the New Covenant, and there­fore that as all Christians must necessarily have a Title to these promises (which cannot otherwise be said to be performed to Christ in this Latitude) so that none but they can have a Legal Title to them, because none can have a Legal Title to them but by purchase, and none but Christ has purchased them, and none but they have a Legal Title to the name and consequently to the pur­chases of Christ: If, I say, these things had been impartially considered, I do not conceive what could have been further ne­cessary for shewing that this Legal Title to these promises is con­fined not only to the Covenant betwixt God and Christ, but also to that betwixt Christ and Mankind.

§ XV NOR indeed can I conceive how the Notion of a Covenant is otherwise explicable in these Evangelical Transactions. For considering that that does imply not only a Legal, but a mutual, Contract; it must follow that there must be mutual promises, and mutual Obligations: and therefore that as God is pleased, in this Covenant, to oblige Ʋs in a Legal way to the performance of our Duty; so we may expect that he would also be pleased to oblige himself by promising some advantages to us, to encourage us in it. If he had in another way exacted our Duty, on the bare account of his absolute Authority over us, without any Promises on his part; it might indeed have been called a command, but could never have been properly stiled a Covenant. And if God obliged himself to any promises in this Covenant with us, it is least of all credible that he should leave out those promises which are of all others the most considerable, as these are of which we are here discoursing. Besides that indeed the very na­ture of a promise inferring a Legal Obligation; it is not likely that God would so far condescend as to make them, but upon the like Legal security of Duty to be performed by his Creatures, which when it is mutual on both Parties we call a Covenant. And these promises of Duty, confirmed in a solemn way by a Covenant on our part, being the only rational inducement likely to prevail with God to make these promises; it is not credible that he would design those favours for any but such as give him this solemn security which may induce him to it. For even this exter­nal Solemnity is very considerable in regard of the influence it may [Page 105] have on the Obligation and Security of a Covenant, especially as transacted with a Multitude; how little soever it may seem to be so, in regard of the rational Obligation of the mutual consent of the interessed Parties. Nor is it only thus rational in it self, that God should thus confine his promises to his Covenant, but it appears to have been his actual design in the contrivance of it as I shall have occasion to shew more fully in my future Dis­course.

§ XVI I AM aware some of our Calvinian Brethren may be tempted to think this Discourse for proving the confinement of the pro­mises to such as have an Interest in the New Covenant purchased by Christ, to be both needless as to themselves, and to be disa­greeable to our own Principles in the Remonstrant Controversies: To be needles as to them, because they are for a greater confine­ment than we can approve of; so as not only to confine them in the Event, but also as to the Original design. So that as to others they conceive neither the Promises to have been designed for them on performance of Conditions, nor yet that Grace which might have enabled them for that performance. To be disagreeable to our other Principles when we prove both the Will of God ▪ and the Death of Christ, to have been designed for the Salvation of all. I confess if we understood the Church in the same sense as our Brethren ordinarily do when they produce these same Texts for their own purpose in the Remonstrant Controversies, only for the secret number of Gods Elect; And that by the Death of Christ ▪ not being designed for them as scattered Individuals we meant; not only that his Death should not be available for them as scat­tered Individuals, that is, whilst they continued so scattered; but also that it should not as much as purchase that actual Grace for them, even in that Condition, which might put it in their power to be Incorporated into the Church; there had been some ground for this mistake▪ But these senses are far from being ours. Nor is it indeed our interest that we should own them. For they would fail us when we should have occasion to use them, that is, when we should undertake to shew that they are not in the Church, and their danger in continuing so. Nor is it less disser­viceable to our design to suppose that Persons out of the Com­munion of the Church are so deprived of the Promises by their being so as to want that degree of Grace which is absolutely ne­cessary for making their return to it possible. If that were their [Page 106] Case, to what purpose should we endeavour either to convince them of the dangerousness of their present condition, or perswade them to come out of it? To talk to People of doing that, which we already know they cannot do, is not to perswade, but to up­braid them. And it were not Good will to them, but Inhumanity, as much as to discover to them that danger which we knew it were impossible for them to escape. It would but add to them the trouble of their present fears over and above the future mischief of it when it should befal them.

§ XVII OUR plain meaning therefore is that we believe Gods design to have been unfeignedly for the Salvation of all Mankind, as well those who are out of the Church as those who are within it, yet so as that this general design is not actually available for the Sal­vation of any particular (in an ordinary way so as that the Person may have the comfort of it) without the Church, nay not within it without Universal and Sincere Obedience. And the effect of this design to Persons without the Church, is, to promise Salvation, and a gracious acceptance of them· on condition of their Incor­porating themselves into it; and in the mean time to give that Grace, which, if not resisted by their own free Wills, may be sufficient to invite them into it. So also the present effect even on vitious Livers in the Communion of the Church is not, that they shall be actually Saved whilst they continue so; but that by virtue of their being in Covenant they can challenge acceptance upon Repentance, and plead Promises upon performance of condi­tions, and can have a free and open access to the ordinary chan­nels of Grace to enable them to perform Conditions, none of which can agree to Persons without the Church who cannot as yet be supposed to have any actual Interest in the Covenant. And upon these Supposals it will be easy to conceive how, not only the actual performance of, but the very Title to, Promises may be confined to the Church, and yet God may sincerely design the universal Salvation of Mankind. For I think none can Question but a design on performable Conditions may be easily conceived to be sincere, though it should fail of the Event, through a volun­tary Non-performance of Conditions on the Creatures part; and it hence appears that such a confinement of the Promises to the Church is very reconcilable with such a design as this is for the Ʋniversal Salvation of Mankind.

[Page 107] § XVIII IN the mean time, I think we may with more confidence pretend to all those Tents produced by them for confining Gods designs of Benefits to be conveyed by vertue of the New Covenant to the Elect, than they can. For our Notion of a Church is more obvious and ordinarily intelligible in that Age and even in the Scripture it self than that which they pretend to; And it is ex­ceedingly agreeable with the design of God in erecting the Church a Body Politick, thus to oblige Men to enter into it, and to submit to its Rules of Discipline, however the Secular State should stand affected; And it is better suited to the capacities and practice of even the very Vulgar of that Age, for whose use principally the Scriptures seem to have been Written in that con­descending stile in which we find them (for what use can there be in Practice of either of these Discourses if the Persons hear­ing them cannot make out their interest in them? And it is cer­tainly more easy for the most Vulgar capacity whatsoever to prove their interest in a Visible Church, than in an Invisible one consisting only of Elect Persons.) And I do not know but they may indeed find that it is this Election to Grace actually, and to Glory in de­sign, which the Scripture generally speaks of, and that this Election to Grace does not so much imply an infallible and per­petual influence of Grace on the Person so elected as his actual introduction to the Ordinary Means of Grace which others had been permitted to reject, which amounts exactly to our present design of admission into the Church, as I have now explained it (which though it be a Notion I think exceedingly defensible, yet I would not engage the stress of my present Cause in a Discourse so seemingly exotical to our design any further than needs I must) And it will not engage us to Answer that current of Scripture which seems directly opposite to the meaning imposed on these places by our Adversaries; And less is requisite to justify our Sense than theirs who therefore ought to have more and greater proof for what they add beyond our Assertions.

§ XIX THIS therefore being supposed that the Promises are confined to the Covenant; I infer further 5. That he who would pretend any Title to the Promises, must in order thereunto prove his Interest in the Covenant. For if the Promises be Gods part of the Evangelical Covenant, none can challenge them but he who has a Legal Title to them; And none can have a Legal Title to [Page 108] them who has not an Interest in the Covenant on which such a Legal Title at least must be founded, because the Covenant is indeed it self the Legal conveyance; And it is only such a Legal challenge, that can give us comfort, and confidence, that they be­long to us. And as by our Interest in the Covenant we may argue Positively, that we have an Interest in the Promises not actual and absolute, but upon performance of Conditions (which is more than can be pleaded by Persons not yet admitted into the Covenant) so the Negative way of Arguing (for which we are at present concerned) is much more certain, That he who cannot prove his Interest in the Covenant, whatever his performance of Condi­tions may be, cannot challenge a Legal Title to the Promises. And as I have shewn that even the things promised cannot be hoped for by one in such a Condition, upon any grounds so secure as a Pru­dent Person might safely venture on with any comfort or confi­dence; so indeed a Promise as a Promise is it self a Legal way of conveyance, and therefore, as it is the nature of all like convey­ances, cannot, I do not say, easily, but not, at all, be challenged on any but a Legal Title. But I proceed.

CHAP. IV. The same thing further Prosecuted.

THE CONTENTS.

2. The only Ordinary Means whereby we may assure our Selves of our interest in this Covenant is by our partaking in the Ex­ternal Solemnities whereby this Covenant is transacted and mainteined. This cleared in, 2. Particulars: 1. That the partaking of these External Solemnities of initiation into, and maintenance of, this Evangelical Covenant is the only Ordinary Means of procuring and mainteining a Legal Interest in it. §. I.II. An Objection urged and Answered. The Assertion proved from Gods actual Establishment. §. III.IV.V.VI.VII.VIII.IX.X.XI. The same proved from the reason of the thing. 1. God is concerned to take care that these External Solemnities be punctually observed as he is a Covenanter. §. XII.XIII.XIV.XV.XVI.XVII.XVIII.XIX.XX.XXI.XXII.XXIII.XXIV.XXV.XXVI.

§ I 2. THEREFORE the only Ordinary Means whereby we may assure our Selves of our Interest in this Cove­nant with God is by our partaking in the external So­lemnities whereby this Covenant is transacted and main­teined; So that where we are either not solemnly initiated into this Covenant by the rites and observances that are necessary for such a purpose (that is, according to the Christian Religion by Bap­tism) or where we a [...]e excluded from the Solemnities of main­teining it (that is, according to the same Christian Religion by the Lords Supper) after we have been once admitted to it, there we cannot ordinarily assure our Selves that we have any real Interest in it. This will appear from two things: that this partaking in these external Solemnities of this Covenant is indeed the Or­dinary Means for procuring or mainteining our Interest in the Covenant it self [...] and that though this participation had not in­deed [Page 110] that influence on the thing it self, but that we might obtein or maintein our Interest in the Covenant without it, yet that it is at least the only Ordinary Means of assuring us of such an Interest, so that though it were not so certain that we might not have this Interest, yet certainly we could not be assured of it with­out this external participation.

§ II 1. THEN, The partaking of these external Solemnities of initiation into, and maintenance of, this Evangelical Covenant is the only Ordinary Means of procuring and mainteining an Interest in it, I mean still such a Legal Interest as may immediately im­power us to challenge the Promises on performance of the Duties of it. This I conceive so clear from the nature and Obligation of Covenants in general as that I do not know whether, our Bre­thren themselves can find in their hearts to Question it in instances wherein their Interest may not be Suspicious of tempting them to Partiality. For even in ordinary Contracts we find that Pro­mises, however fully agreed on with all their restrictions and limitations that may prevent all future Cavils betwixt the con­tracting Parties, have, by the unanimous consent of all Prudent Legislators, not been thought fit to be allowed as pleadable in a Legal way till they were mutually Sealed and solemnly confirmed before Witnesses; and though some Courts of Conscience may oblige a Person to the performance of his private Promises, yet not immediately and independently on the solemnity of doing it. But the immediate method is, first to oblige themselves in a solemn way to what they have agreed to privately, and then to perform the Contents of that Obligation. And particularly (that I may give an instance parallel to our present Case wherein Inferiors are supposed to contract with their Superiors) the Princes pardon, though [...]tested from his mouth by Persons never so Credible, is not pleadable in Law till it has past the great Seal, and other Solemnities requisite by Law. And indeed this Solemnity of con­veyance is generally insisted on with much greater rigor in graunts from supreme Governours than in Covenants betwixt private equal Persons. And the reason is clear, because what is transacted be­twixt private Persons is only of private concernment, and there­fore can only be prejudicial in the particular Case if they should prove mistaken in it, and, of such particular prejudices to his own private Interest, every one of ordinary Prudence is, in reason, to be permitted to judg as far as concerns his own parti­cular [Page 111] Practice. But the Acts of Superiors are likely to pass into Precedents, and are therefore likely to prove of greater concern­ment in the consequence than the value of the interest of the par­ticular Person who is immediately concerned. And therefore as Governours are, by their Office, obliged to be more concerned for the Publick than for any particular Case, so it cannot be fit for them to pass any favours to particular Persons by such Forms as may prove hurtful by way of Precedent, that is, which are likely to prove hurtful in more Cases than they are likely to prove con­venient, or even innocent, in. And such certainly must be the omission even of these external Solemnities. For if they had not been thought necessary in regard of their influence on the Publick, that is, if even this Solemnity of conveyance had not been gene­rally necessary for securing the Equity of particular conveyances, so that if such grants were ordinarily passed without such Solem­nities, they would in all likelihood prove unequal more frequent­ly than Equal; it is not probable that the Solemnities would ever have been settled at first by such a Power as must be presumed unwilling to impose any further on the Liberty even of its parti­cular Subjects than it finds it necessary for the Publick to do so. And if they have been thus thought necessary for the Publick it cannot be thought reasonable that they should be omitted in favour to particular Persons without a very particular and express Indulgence, which is not here as much as pretended. So that here the culpable omission of such Punctualities, is, without any relief of Chancery, thought justly meritorious of a forfeiture of the whole grant, especially when the grant is of Favours that are not otherwise due in the rigour of stric [...] Justice, as these have appeared to be.

§ III I KNOW indeed that one great reason of insisting rigor­ously on this solemn way of proceeding is the prevention of Ca­vils and misrepresentations to which private Actions are very obnoxious, and which therefore make them uncapable of that Evidence which is necessary for the full information of Authority in order to the passing a just Sentence concerning them; in which the reason why private Promises cannot be admitted as Legal proof, is not that Legislators have not thought them justly Obli­gatory, but because Judges generally want those Evidences which might convince them that they were ever made. Besides the necessity of formal Bonds in order to a Legal proof seems [Page 112] especially to have been designed for the security of well-meaning Simple Persons, from the Cheats of those who are more subtle, to which they would frequently be betrayed by Precipitation; just as the Roman Axes carried before their Consuls were bound up with the fasces, purposely that if the Consuls were hasty in their Decrees, or too severe, they might, whilst they were en­loosening, gain time for the enterteinment of milder counsels (as it is plain that they have been thus solicitous for the security of weaker Persons, by disannulling such Contracts, even in other Cases, as would otherwise have been thought sufficiently obli­gatory as to the nature of the things themselves, and such as might in the particular Cases have been transacted with sufficient Prudence and Deliberation, such as the Promises of Minors, and the private espousals of Persons to be married) but that in in­stances of the nature of these, concerning which I am at present Discoursing, neither of these Reasons will seem to hold. For neither does there seem to be that danger of Precipitation where the Case is clear, and clear to all, even the meanest, capacities that are concerned in it, as it is here, both that our Baptismal Promises are otherwise our Duty whether we promised them or not, and that the Promises on Gods part are highly conducive to all our Interests, both Temporal and Eternal; Or, if the Benefit had been less considerable, yet there is no dangers of Precipitation where there is no danger of Prejudice to be suffered by it, though we had been guilty of it, as it is also most certain, even to the meanest capacity, that is capable of being rationally Religious, that there is no danger of prejudicing themselves by being so. Seeing it is certain their Duty can do them no hurt in the final Event, and that they cannot possibly fail of Gods Promises whilst they perform their own, and that God will never take the ad­vantage of captious Expositions of their words to ensnare and entangle them, but accept of their Practice in the same Simplicity in which it was designed by themselves. Nor is there here that inconvenience of pleading a Legal Obligation from private Pro­mises, seeing that however private they may be in regard of Men yet they are notorious to God, who, though he be indeed a Party in these Contracts, yet is withal to be considered as the only possible competent Judg of their performance. But otherwise the bare promises of an honest Person is as justly obligatory to him, and as securely to be [...] by the Person concerned in it, [Page 113] as if it had been passed in all the usual Solemnities of Law. And therefore it being certain, that God cannot fail in the performance of what he has once promised, it may be thought unreasonable to distrust his performance only because his Promises have not as yet passed a Legal way of conveyance.

§ IV IN Answer hereunto I confess that where the performance of the Conditions is the thing only aimed at in a Covenant, and the external Solemnities of it are only required for the reasons now mentioned; there a Person performing the Conditions of it may have a just Title, though he may want a Legal Evidence to compel his Adversary to the performance on his part. And I confess withal that in dealing with God there being no danger of wanting Evidence; the Justice of our Title is a sufficient Legal plea, not only to oblige him, but also to secure us of the performance of any thing that has been so promised by him. But if the nature of these Covenants of God with Us do require, not only the per­formance of the Conditions to intitle us to the Promises when we are in Covenant with him, but also the external Solemnities of the Covenant it self to th [...] instating us in a Legal Title to the Co­venant; the Case will be clearly otherwise. For upon this lat­ter Supposition, it will plainly follow that the bare performance of the Conditions, as far as they are capable of being performed by us, will not give us so much as a Just Title to the Promises, even in Conscience, that I may not now take any advantage from what might have been said against a Legal Obligation.

§ V NOW for proving that this must have been the actual Case here, that these external Solemnities are by God himself designed as the Ordinary Means of procuring an Interest in the Covenant it self; I desire it may be remembred 1. that the Divine Promises, Antecedently to the Covenant, bear such a disproportion to our performances as that they cannot be thought due to the performan­ces themselves, but still to be pure effects of his own Grace and Liberality.

§ VI HENCE I infer 2. that it is very Free and Just for God, besides the performances themselves, to oblige us to any other Con­ditions, suitable to that disproportion, that he shall Judg conve­nient. Indeed in Contracts of Commutative Justice, where things of equal worth are Covenanted for, though it be free to every one whether he will part with his own Right on any Considera­tions whatsoever, and therefore also whether he will part with it [Page 114] on equal ones; yet it is accounted very hard dealing for him who receives a full value for it to impose any further Conditions on the Person he deals with for gaining the benefit of his Contract. For such a full value does upon the Contract confer a full and actual Right to the thing he contracts for, at least us to the Conscience, and the reason of the thing; and it is not thought fair or reasona­ble that any should have Conditions imposed upon him against his own will for gaining that which, in Justice, and Conscience, is already his own. Especially considering that in all Contracts of this kind the pains that are to be taken are looked on as valuable Considerations, and according to the greatness or inconsiderable­ness of them the value of the things is heightened or lessened; so that what is only equal in it self must with the Addition of further Conditions prove disproportionable, and the exchanging of a thing of less value for things more valuable is that which is reputed foul and over-reaching in this way of Commutative Justice. But in our Case the matter is clearly otherwise. For the Divine rewards incomparably exceeding the merit of our performances of the immediate Conditions, nay, and of all Conditions performable by Us: it plainly follows that they are not given us in lieu of our performance of the immediate Conditions as a thing that may in­title us to them, even upon Contract, by any Rules of Commuta­tive Justice; and that it is therefore very Just for God to add any further Conditions performable by us; and suitable to that excess, in order to the attainment of such rewards. So that now we are only concerned to Enquire further what is his actual pleasure in this whole affair.

§ VII AND in order thereunto I consider 3. that God is here to be considered as bearing the Person of a Governour, and accord­ingly, that the Rule, by which the Equity of his Proceedings is to be estimated, is that of Distributive Justice, such, I mean, as of which the nature of these Divine Contracts with Men are ca­pable. If therefore it may appear necessary for his Government; not only that the Promises should not be given to those who are in Covenant without performance of the immediate Conditions, but also the external Solemnities should be necessary in order to the procuring an Interest in the Covenant; we shall then have reason to believe that this has been actually the design of God in the In­stances whereof we are at present discoursing. Now who is there more competent for informing us in a matter of this nature than [Page 115] God himself? Who can better tell us either what is really more fit for the Government of Mankind in order to their Salvation, or what himself judges to be so (who, as he sees otherwise than we do, may also judg otherwise, by his clear intuition of the things themselves, than we can by our weak Conjectures and extrinsick Probabilities concerning things so little obvious to our discovery) or what he is at length pleased actually to do? And can we think that he would ever have constituted Sacraments to be administred in external Symbols as the Solemnities of giving us an Interest in the Evangelical Covenant? Would he have given them an eter­nal and immutable obligation, not depending on the Prudence of ordinary Sacred Governours in accommodation to times and Cir­cumstances? Would he have done this in a time when himself de­cryed the external observances of the Mosaic Law, as unseasona­ble, though it had formerly been established by himself, when it was his great design and employment to withdraw Men from too great a dotage on external Observances, and to reduce them to the Morals and Spirituals of Religion? Is all this, I say, likely to have been done without a great sense of the necessity of it for the Government of Mankind?

§ VIII AND can any one believe that the bare representation of the Sacramental Graces can be so very useful to this purpose? Is our washing in Baptism so lively a signification of our new Birth in al­lusion to the old Practice of washing Children at their first Nati­vity: or our immersion in water of being buried with Christ, and our rising out of it of our being raised again to newness of Life, and of our being saved by water as Noah and his Family were in the Ark? Is Bread more suitable for signifying the Humane Bo­dy of Christ than many other of our usual Table Flesh-Provisions; or breaking of the Bread, for the piercing of his Body, than that of the Greeks, for piercing it with the [...] (as they call their Instrument for that purpose) or the Ʋnity of the homoge­neal parts of Bread, for signifying the Ʋnity of the Mystical Bo­dy of Christ, which is represented by the Apostle as a Heterogeneous Body, consisting of variety of Members and Offices, than that of the Pascal Lamb which was indeed Heterogeneous? Or is Wine more representative of the Blood of Christ, especially when of a different colour and administred differently from his Body than many red liquors which might have been crushed forth immedi­ately from the Bodies that contained them? If they had con­tributed [Page 116] no further to the raising of Devotion in us than by the liveliness of their natural representation, why might not many things have been more useful for that purpose, whose natural re­presentation is much more lively? Why have we then disconti­nued the Milk, Epist. Bar­nab. Tedall. de Coron. mil. S. Hier. adv. Luci­fer. de Pudici­t. [...]. and Honey, and white Garments, so antiently used in Baptism, for signifying the Infancy of our new Birth? O [...] the Shepherd with the lost Sheep on his shoulders pictured on the Chalices in Tertullians time? And indeed what representations can be more lively of the sensible Mysteries here commemorated than excellent Pictures and Pageantry! Why should we be con­fined either from thinking on these things, or from assisting our thoughts by lively representations of them, without such a tedious solemn Preparation, and at such rarely-returning opportunities of doing it at Publick Assemblies? Why must we have but one op­portunity of raising our Devotion by a lively representation of our dying to Sin and rising to newness of Life through our Bap­tism, in our whole Lives; and that opportunity at a season so in­convenient, when we are Children, and are uncapable of having any Devotion raised in us? Why should not Laicks and Women be permitted to administer the Sacraments, seeing it is not any circumstance of the Administrer that can alter their natural sig­nification? And then what need were there for Ecclesiastical Assemblies; especially for such as can Pray and Meditate, and use the assistance of these lively representations, and read better Books at home than they can expect to hear Sermons in the Church?

§ IX ESPECIALLY in times of Persecution, when it may be dangerous to themselves, and give offence to the Secular powers, what can oblige such Persons as these to meet in Assemblies, when they may, on these Principles, expect as much Grace, and as confidently, in their Closet-Devotions as in Churches? Is it that they may confess Christ before Men? But what need is there of confessing him before them who acknowledg him already? Or how can they be said to confess him before his Enemies, by what is done in their private Assemblies, and with all Arts of conceal­ment? Why should they not rather do it where their Adversa­ries may see and hear them? Is it for their mutual Edification and encouragement to persevere? But why might not this have been done as well, by private conferences at their occasional meetings in their ordinary conversation, as in solemn, and numerous, and therefore Suspicious, Assemblies▪ Why should it only be the [Page 117] employment of Ministers and ordained Persons more than others▪ Nay indeed what will Orders signifie when, upon these terms, they who are able, may not only serve their own Souls, but sup­ply the necessities of others, without any Ordination; and they, who are not able, are never likely to do it to any purpose though they be Ordained? Is it that by Orders some may be engaged to the employment, and being engaged obliged to continue in it for the securing the publick Service, who might otherwise be unwil­ling to neglect their private affairs for it when they might be pre­judiced by such attendance? But what need would there be of this in times of Persecution when the Zeal of particular Persons may be supposed to be more than ordinarily inflamed, and with­al to be less than ordinarily diverted by the care of their Secular affairs? What need even in times of Prosperity, when either many might offer themselves out of Zeal for the Service of Souls, or might be ambitious of the employment as more honourable and gainful than their own, or might conveniently spare as many houres from their own Callings, as professed Ministers, when al­lowance is made for their private Studies? Especially when they might by this Means grow Popular, and either bring in some Ad­dition of gain, or at least save some expences they must have been otherwise charged with for the maintenance of others? I am sure we have not in our late Experiences found these Cases unpracti­cable or unlikely. And if, as often as they happen, every one that pleases, or that can gain a Party to follow him, may with­out scruple invade that sacred employment; there would not be that necessity of insisting on Ordination as the constant ordinary way. For even Ordination cannot compel Men to undertake it, and they who were willing would, on these Principles, need no Ordination to qualifie them for it. And if the Sacred Calling were little esteemed, it would be as hard to get in that number which might be necessary for the Publick as to continue them; but if it were valued, and thought more desirable than Ordinary Callings, it is hard to conceive but that as great numbers would freely offer themselves as are observed to crowd into those Ordinary Callings, which are well reputed of, so that Ordination would be rarely ei­ther necessary or useful. Or is Ordination thought necessary for the exclusion of unfit ambitious Pretend [...] [...]s? But they who could not gain a Party, would [...]ed no exclusion; and they who could, could not, on these terms, [...]e excluded, how unworthy soever. [Page 118] For indeed, on these Principles, all Government must be resolved into the pleasure of the promiscuous Multitude.

§ X SEEING therefore that the signification of the external Sym­bols does as little answer their design as their nature, and that there must be acknowledged in them a more plentiful conveyance of Grace than can proceed from their bare objective representation, and the influence that may have upon us for raising Devotion in us; it will plainly follow that Christ has been pleased actually to convey his Graces by the Sacramental Symbols as Ordinary Means of his own institution by which he has obliged himself to convey them, and not only to raise them up by their Objective representa­tion. That he has therefore thought it convenient to convey his Graces themselves by these external Symbols even unto such as have already all the Moral Dispositions they are capable of having Antecedently to the reception of them (and no more can rational­ly be expected from them) And that he has consequently obliged even Persons so disposed to a participation of the Symbols, as they are desirous to partake of the Graces conveyed by them; And that he has not only done this in particular Cases but to the generality of Mankind that shall ever receive his Doctrine; And not left it to their Prudence, but imposed it with an eternal and immutable obligation: These must certainly be great Arguments that he thought it necessary for the generality of Mankind, and conse­quently for the ends of Government. And it is by this general ad­vantage for the generality of Mankind that the Ordinary Means are to be estimated, seeing it is thought fit in all humane Prudence and Legislations that rarer Cases should be ruled by those which are ordinary, and therefore should be left to extraordinary Pro­visions.

§ XI NOW though these actual establishments be plain Arguments that Christ himself has thought it necessary for the ends of Govern­ment to confine the conveyance of his Graces ordinarily to our participation of the external Symbols; and therefore that it is indeed so, seeing it is impossible he should be mistaken concern­ing it (unless we will suppose him, as some of our dissenting Brethren seem inclinable to do, to act meerly Arbitrarily, and without any other reason than his own pleasure, which is not agreeable to the clear Notions either of the Divine Wisdom o [...] Goodness: Not of his Wisdom, to act without any reason at all; not of his Goodness, to lay such unnecessary useless restraines on [Page 119] his Subjects Liberty) and though I may confidently lay the stress of my present design on this proof (which must needs be of great weight with them who grant the Supposition I here proceed on concerning the eternal obligation of the Sacraments, and withal have honourable thoughts of the Wisdom and Goodness of their Lord and Master in imposing them with such a degree of Obliga­tion; And even to them who do not grant it will easily appear from what we shall hereafter discourse concerning the use of the Sacraments themselves particularly for this purpose) Though to us who are so weak-sighted, and so little acquainted with the In­trigues of his Government, the particular reasonableness and usefulness of this way of contrivance for the great ends of his Government might not appear: Yet because I am willing to en­deavour to give all the satisfaction I am able even to candid Curi­osity, I shall endeavour to shew the necessary and useful influence of this establishment for the ends of Government. In order whereunto I consider

§ XII 1. THAT the great reason of Gods entring into Covenant with Us was not so much to assure us of his Promises to be per­formed on his part (for that might have been sufficiently per­formed by external Revelation) as to assure the performance of Duty on our part. For this fickleness and inconstancy in Us which would make us generally fall short of the actual Benefit of Pro­mises, how much soever we might have been assured of perfor­mance, as long as they were only Conditional (as it is requisite they should be for the ends of Government, which requires that Sub­jects be treated in a moral and rational way, only of Rewards and Punishments) was a thing indeed very suitable to the Goodness of Gods Government, whom it concerns as a good Governour to take care that too great multitudes of his Subjects should not miscarry under his inspection. For this indeed belongs to the reputation of any Government ▪ even among Men, that it attains its end with the generality of its Subjects to put them in a prosperous Conditi­tion, though when all is done, Men being supposed as weak as they are; and the inducements to Obedience only Moral; it can­not be avoided but that some will fail of the Rewards and fall un­der the Punishments. This clearly Answers the Objections. For though it be indeed true that there is indeed no need of these So­lemnities of the Covenant on Gods part to assure us of of his fair and candid dealing with us, nor indeed on our part to let God [Page 120] know the Sincerity of our own dealing with him; yet there may be inas-much as our Sincerity for performing the Moral part of our Duty may be signified to others▪ And this signification of it to others, in a solemn way, may lay a restraint on us for its more punctual performance; And this restraint may secure our actual performance even to God himself, when we believe our whole comfort of the Covenant not capable of being solidly grounded otherwise than on the external Solemnities of our admission and continuance in it.

§ XIII 2. THEREFORE God in entring into Covenant with us did accommodate himself (as we have seen) to our Customes and humours, that so he might make use of the same Motives to induce us to Obedience to himself, who is invisible, as are [...]ound efficacious on us for securing performance in our ordinary dealings with Mankind.

§ XIV AND 3. these external Solemnities of the Covenant are very suitable to Gods design in making it, and very effectually condu­cive to it; nay their imposition as the only ordinary Means of ad­mission into it is so also; and therefore is very likely to have been designed by God as he is solicitous for our good. The Ends are both to confederate us into a Body Politick, and to lay an obli­gation on us more likely to prevail on us for the performance of our Duty than any private Promises, however plainly made and seriously intended. And the promotion of both of these is both very proper and likely to have been designed by God as a graci­ous Covenanter and Governour; and both of them (consider­ing the influence that the Customes and humours of Mankind have ordinarily on their actual performance) are more likely to be at­tained by insisting on these Solemnities as the only Ordinary Means of admission to the Priviledges of the Covenant than they would be otherwise.

§ XV THEY are very proper to have been designed by him. 1. the confederating us into a Body Politick is so. This is proper to have been designed by him 1. as a Covenanter. For Covenants are properly to be transacted between two Parties only; and are properly multiplied, though possibly in the same form, when many are concerned. Now though it be indeed possible that Man­kind considered only as a Multitude consisting of disunited Indi­viduals might make a Party in this Covenant; and though this might indeed be likely to have been actually true if every Indivi­dual [Page 121] had been only obliged to Duties to be performed only by himself in his single capacity (such as the Moral Duties general­ly are) yet even so there would be requisite particular Solemni­ties for admitting particular Persons into it, just as in the instance now mentioned of a Covenant with many, the Bonds are severally repeated according as new Persons are admitted into it. There may indeed be indefinite, and yet obliging, Promises to any who should perform the annexed Conditions, and such as may be pleadable upon such performance. But the name of a Covenant, especially as understood as in the rigour of the Legal Notion of it in that Age (as I have shewn it must be understood) is not so properly intelligible without the external Solemnities by which it is transacted.Digest. L.XLV: Tit. I. de verbor· oblig. For such the presence of both Parties was thought necessary, so that if any Person absent were desirous to Covenant, he must do it by his Servant, according to which God also being absent from our Senses, which is the thing for which we are con­cerned in order to dealing with him, must be understood to Cove­nant with us by the mediation of his visible Ministers. And be­sides the Case it self is plainly against the Apostle who accounts the Children of believing Parents holy (at least in a Federal sense) by the Faith of their Parents, 1 Cor. vii.14. which could not be if the Covenants of Parents did not at least so far concern their Children as to give them a remote Title of admission to it by the external Solemnities of it. For if the performance of the Moral Conditions of Faith and Repentance were the only ordinary Means of intitling Persons to the Benefit of the Covenant, and they were so also as they might make the Person such immediately as God expects he should immediately be in order to an immediate Title to it; it would follow that the Children can no more have any actual Bene­fit of the Covenant on their Parents account than they can be made actually Faithful and Penitent by their Parents Faith and Repentance; but then especially Children who could not expect to be accounted holy on their Parents account could not themselves be reputed holy, in regard of this holiness which depends on the per­formance of Moral Conditions. But I may elsewhere have a fur­ther occasion of clearing this Argument from the Practice and sense of those Ages.

§ XVI BUT further, though the Duties alone were principally design­ed by God to intitle us to the Benefit of this Covenant, yet even this would not excuse us from the Solemnities of it. For I consi­der [Page 122] that God does not only oblige us to such Religious Duties as concern us singly considered, but also to publick and solemn ones,Heb. x.25. of not forsaking the Assembling of our Selves together what­ever worldly inconveniences may follow it, and of all the Duties there to be performed, such as are offering up solemn Prayers to him, hearing his word, and assisting at the celebration of his Sacra­ments. Now for these no particular Persons can undertake as con­sidered singly, because as considered singly they have not that in­fluence over each other as to be able to undertake for any but themselves. Nor are the multitude even of particulars, even as singly obliged, sufficient to engage for it, seeing there is requisite some further obligation when the interests of all the particulars shall be prejudiced by it (as they are like to be in times of Per­secution) and when it may therefore be presumed that many will of themselves be backward in it. Seeing therefore that these are Duties required from us by God, it will concern him as a Cove­nanter to see that we be obliged to the performance of these as well as others. And because the performance of these publick Duties cannot be effectually secured without a power of Commanding in some and a Duty of Obedience in others, therefore it is requisite that some be invested with that power, and all others be obliged to this Subjection, without which it is impossible for us to engage for these parts of our Duty. And yet it cannot be supposed rea­sonable to expect that God, even as a Covenanter, should think himself obliged to perform his Promises which are only Conditio­nal for the security of our Duty, till we have given him the like security of a Covenant for the performance of all that he requires on our part. Thus the very nature of Gods Covenant with us re­quires on our part a Body Politick for securing the performance of it; And that the Constitution of a Body Politick will be best secured by confining the claim of private Persons to its Privi­ledges to its external Solemnities I shall have occasion to prove when I consider Gods obligation hereunto as a Governour.

§ XVII BUT further also, even in regard of our private Duties, God is also as a Covenanter concerned that we give the like security for the performance of them (as far at least as we are capable of such performance) as he does for the performance of his Pro­mises. And therefore any Promise, even of performing our Duty, that is not so likely to hold us, may very justly be excepted against by him as a Covenanter as a proportionable acquittance of him [Page 123] from giving us, at least that higher degree of, security of per­formance on his part, if not indeed from giving us any interest in the Covenant at all. Even in humane Covenants we are apt to look on a backwardness in giving security as an Argument of un­willingness to enter into obligations. And that unwillingness, though joined with no suspicion of designing treacherously (which I therefore wave here because God with whom we deal in this af­fair knows whether we do so) yet by the Rules, even of humane Equity, may provoke God to deny us the benefit of the Covenant it self, even though we were willing, if yet we were not willing, in such a degree, as to overcome all obstacles short of unlawful­ness: (both as it is very reasonable to deny favours to Persons not duly valuing them, as such Persons cannot be supposed to do these Divine favours who are unwilling to purchase them by any lawful condescentions, how hard soever; And as such a present low degree of willingness may be presumed unlikely to hold out in the performance in the time of tryal, and therefore may rationally be supposed not sufficient to give that security of performance on our part of the Covenant which any wise and Prudent Person would think fit to be trusted if he himself were to enter into a Covenant.) Especially considering that this backwardness, in our Case, of not being willing to yield to any unsinful condescen­tions for Gods sake must plainly arise from such a perversity of disposition as would hinder us from the actual advantage of the Covenant, though we had been Legally instated in it, and there­fore may with greater reason and Justice hinder us from our admis­sion to it, seeing a much less misdemeanour may suffice to hinder the Promise of a favour at first, than can afterwards hinder the performance.

§ XVIII NOW though this may only seem to shew how justly God may refuse the benefit of the Covenant to such as neglect the ex­ternal Solemnities whereby it is mainteined upon account of that neglect, on supposition that he has been pleased to require their observance; yet there are two things further very considerable that will bring these proofs more home to my present design, to shew what reason there is to fear that he will actually do, what, it has appeared on these accounts he very justly may do. One is, that, from this Doctrine, a reason is given even antecedently to the Divine Command, why he should insist on the observance of these external Solemnities as a Covenanter, and as he designs not so much [Page 124] his own satisfaction as our good, viz. that by this means he might exercise us to that vigor of Resolution which is necessary for rendring us capable of the favours designed for us, which seems to be the same common reason of all the positive Injunctions he has been pleased ever to lay upon us. Certainly not so much out of often­tation of his own dominion over us, as to produce these beneficial dispositions in us which are not in Prudence immediately to be ex­pected from our conviction of their necessity by the naked reasons of the things without habituating our practick faculties to them by a constant course of exercise. For this we find in experience to be the only prudent means of acquiring new or destroying old inclinations. And yet unless the observance even of these exter­nal Solemnities be so far exacted from us as that our failing in them, on any other reason short of Sin, may proportionably de­feat our expectations of the favours designed by them they can have no influence on us for this purpose, even by way of exer­cise; for these are the only seasons of tryal, and without tryal they can never exercise us.

§ XIX ANOTHER. Observation is that, whether this were in­deed the true state of this affair or not, that the Observation of these external Solemnities is necessary to be thus punctually ex­acted, yet at least as to our means of knowing whether it be so we have no reason to judg otherwise, and consequently have all the ob­ligation that can be to practice accordingly. For it is certain that we cannot as much as pretend to any reason to prove them unne­cessary on the account now mentioned of Exercise, though possibly we may as to the nature of the particular Acts. And it is also further certain that they may be really necessary though we could not prove them so. But in such a Case as this is where neither side is capable of evident proof the only way of securing a prudent Practice, is plainly, not to fluctuate in matters whose practice may, for further designs with which we are not acquainted, prove so very considerable, whatever we may think of their immediate design as far as we are capable of judging concerning it. Now upon this supposal that one side is necessary to be practiced, it can­not be difficult to judg whether side. For upon our observation of the external Solemnities of the Covenant we can plead a Legal Title to the Covenant and Promises on performance of its moral conditions. But whatever claim may be grounded on the per­formance of these Conditions otherwise, yet certainly it is not [Page 125] Legal and express, nor such as we are capable of judging of with any certainty, (as has been already shewn) and therefore cannot, by any Rules of Prudence, amount to such a proof as might any way stand in competition with that which is produci­ble for the necessity of observing these external Solemnities, nay indeed can amount to no Proof at all, but only to Conjectures, which no wise man can think fit to be followed where he may have direct Arguments for his direction, though they were only proba­ble. But then considering this necessity in Prudence for these ex­ternal Practices, not as permitted to the general Laws of Provi­dence, which may undoubtedly permit many mistakes that may, in the event, redound to the prejudice of such a multitude of In­dividuals, as, in regard of the narrowness of our knowledg, may seem very considerable to us; but as particularly designed and contrived by God by this way of management of things which can afford us no evidence for disobliging us from these Practices: And considering withal that we can more certainly assure our Selves of the Divine pleasure in particulars of this na­ture by his general provisions than by particular Cases, for which we cannot suppose God obliged to provide otherwise than as they are reducible to generals: We have reason to presume that these Rules of Prudence to which he has generally left us for our direction were designed by him as means of manifesting his pleasure to us, independently on any actual express Revelation, as we usually expound the minds of those with whom we deal by rational consequences as well as by express words. Which yet is more reasonably to be presumed in our Case because we cannot suppose any consequence, how remote soever, if rational, un­known to God, and therefore undesigned by him, as we may very well suppose some such to have been unknown to the most rational sagacious Creature. And when we consider further how unlikely it is that God would have obliged us, especially in the Gospel, to any thing which he did not judg necessary for us (and his judging any thing necessary is with us a sufficient Argument to assure us that it is so) we shall have reason to believe that the thing is indeed necessary to which he is pleased in this rational way to oblige us, if not for its immediate influence, yet at least re­motely for the ends of his Government, of which we can better assure our Selves from his pleasure who alone is privy to the true nature of our Souls, and the intrigues of his own Government, [Page 126] than from any evidence derivable from the nature of the things themselves. And it is Analogous to the Principles of all Govern­ment that the penalties may very justly be inflicted on particular Persons for neglects prejudicial to the publick interest as well as for such as are immediately hurtful to themselves. Nay it is further Analogous to the same design that the Governours of Societies take care that such Penalties be generally inflicted, which must discourage particular Persons in hoping for indulgence.

§ XX BUT, not to insist any further at present on the particulars of this Argument which will be more conveniently reducible to other Heads, that which I conceive more especially considerable in order to my present design, is that God is pleased in this Cove­nant to admit a certain number of Mankind to the favour of be­ing his People, and of belonging to his peculiar Property. Now let it be remembred 1. how improperly a disunited multitude of Individuals could have been stiled then by the name of a People. For whether we compare them with the People who had been re­jected and in whose stead they were chosen, it is plain that the Jews even in their dispersions were yet confederated as they were a Church in order to their Religious Solemnities; Or whether we consider the notion of a People as it was likely to have been under­stood ordinarily in that Age, there will not, I believe, appear the least ground to suspect that it was ever likely to have been un­derstood for a disunited Multitude. I think there cannot be an instance given of a People under the care of one common God (which is plainly the Notion here alluded to) but who were visibly confederated by some external Religious Solemnities. I am sure they generally were so.

§ XXI AND 2. that this People thus confederated are to profess themselves to be Gods People and to be owned by him for such in a visible way. This plainly appears from the visibility and So­lemnity of the Duties required from them in their Synaxes. And from hence it will plainly follow that their confederation, by which they are made a visible People, must be also visi­ble.

§ XXII AND it is further to be remembred 3. that the Multitudes of Believers are not a visible People Antecedently to their admissi­on into this Society. For Persons of all Nations and Interests are invited into this Society who cannot be supposed Antecedent­ly to have any relation to each other; and therefore all the rela­tion [Page 127] they have afterwards must be intirely derived from their be­ing Members of it, and consequently must be derived from the Fundamental Laws and Constitutions of the Society into which they are admitted. So that hence it will follow that that Ʋnion in which they are confederated on account of their being Members of this Society cannot be conceived to depend on their pleasure any further than as these Fundamental Laws and Constitutions do so too.

§ XXIII AND how little these Fundamental Laws and Constitutions depend on their consent, will appear if it be considered 4. that Antecedently to their entrance into this Society, it is not in the power of all the Individuals, whereof it must afterwards consist, either singly or collectively to procure the End for which it is de­signed, that is, the performance of the Promises and Priviledges designed in it, which are wholly Supernatural, not consequently to secure the Rewards of Obedience which are no other than the performance of these Promises and Priviledges to such as perform their conditions, nor to inflict the Punishments of Disobedience on such as neglect them. And how impossible it is solidly to confe­derate a Society without a power of securing its Essential Ends, or of conferring its Rewards and inflicting its Punishments, our candid Brethren themselves will easily conceive.

§ XXIV HENCE it will follow 5. that every one who would obtein the Benefits of this Society must not expect them otherwise than by submitting to the Conditions prescribed by him by whom it was originally constituted, as well for the terms of Initiation into it, and maintenance of it, as for those which he is afterwards ob­liged to when he is actually in it. Not but that still it is in his pleasure whether he will be a Member of this Society, but that he can have no reason to expect the Priviledges of it if he should refuse it.

§ XXV AND 6. that the observation of these external Solemnities has been always more rigorously insisted on by those who are to be presumed the most competent Judges of intrigues of Govern­ment, in affairs of this nature, where the publick is concerned, or where the Covenant is not only for particular things or Actions expressly mentioned, but where the right of the Person is also disposed which must also consequently infer a right to all his per­formances whatsoever. Where the publick is concerned in the Pre­cedent there it is thought rational and necessary that private Per­sons [Page 128] should want those favours to which their Personal integrity might otherwise recommend them if their Case cannot be distin­guished from others by such Notes as may, in the event, prove more frequently advantageous to the Publick than prejudicial. And in all Societies it is to be presumed that the general Solemni­ties of admission were such as were both thought, by the Persons who had instituted them, most advantageous to the Publick, and most agreeable to that Evidence of which particular Cases are generally capable. And there is hardly any thing imaginable wherein the Publick can be more concerned, and wherein it may be more influenced by a Precedent than in the Solemnity of ad­mitting private [...]Members into it, which must consequently intitle them to all its Priviledges. And in the disposal of Persons, there is not only the moment of the thing which does require Solemni­ty, as we plainly find that by how much the things are more mo­mentous by so much their conveyances are required to be more solemn, but the concern of the Publick. For private Covenants for things or particular Actions may indeed be transacted with­out Ceremony, because the Publick is not so concerned in them as it must unavoidably be in the disposal of Persons, for which it must therefore be concerned to see its general Rules more punctu­ally observed.

§ XXVI AND the reason why it must be so will easily appear from the Premisals now supposed, if it be considered Lastly, that the design of admitting us into the number of Gods People is not so much to assure God of our undertaking the performance of the Duties re­quired of us, (as the Objection supposes) as to put our Selves on those Services to our Brethren, and to submit to those re­straints of our Liberty to which he has been pleased to oblige us consequently to our being Members of such a Society. Now how is it possible for us to be serviceable to a visible People with­out becoming visibly of their number? For as for others they are not so much concerned for them, and therefore are not so na­turally capable of being edified by their behaviour. And how is it possible for others to know who are of their Society without a visible admission to the Solemnities of initiation into it, and a com­munication in their common Offices? Indeed if the whole work of a Christian were only visibly to profess the belief of the Christi­an Doctrines, and visibly to Repent; I confess this were perfor­mable by particular Persons in their private capacity. But con­sidering [Page 129] that it is also to concur to the constitution of a visible People; it cannot be possible for any to do so, at least to appear to do so (as appearance is essentially necessary for the constitution of a visible People as visible) without communicating in all those Publick Solemnities which concern them as a People, and he who designedly refuses to do so, how heartily soever he may Believe and Repent, yet cannot be supposed willing to concur to the con­stitution of a visible People. He cannot do that service to his Brethren which he might by joyning in their number, nor pro­mote the publick Service which must be most advantageously promoted by a visible Ʋnanimity and Ʋniformity, nor give that visible signification of his devoting his Person to the Divine Ser­vice which is requisite to his visible Membership, when he appears to make such Exceptions and Reservations in some parts of his Duty, and is unwilling to submit to such restraints of his Liberty as are necessary to be submitted to in Order to these momentous Services to which he is Obliged, as well in reason, as by positive Prescriptions. Thus far I have considered the reasonableness of Gods insisting on these External Solemnities as he is a Cove­nanter.

CHAP. V. The same thing further Prosecuted.

THE CONTENTS.

2. God is also concerned to see the same External Solemnities observed as he is a Governour. 1. He is as a Governour con­cerned to confederate us into a Body Politick. 1. That he may thus secure secure the performance of his own Will. The great usefullness of the Distinction betwixt God as a Gover­nour and as a Covenanter. §. I.II.III. The forementioned Point proved. §. IV.V.VI.VII.VIII.IX.X. 2. That it may thus appear, even to Men, that his Will is performed by us because it is his Will. How necessary this is for Govern­ment. How necessary a Visible Society is for making this ap­pear to others. §. XI.XII.XIII.XIV.XV. 2. He is as a Governour, concerned to oblige Us to the performance of our Duty by such Means as may prove most likely to pre­vail with Us for its actual performance. §. XVI.XVII.XVIII.

§ I I NOW proceed to shew 2. that God is also concerned to see them observed as he is a Governour. And this again in regard of both the now mentioned particulars: That he is as a Governour concerned both to confederate us into a Body Politick, and to secure the most effectual Means of pre­vailing with us to perform our Duty. 1. As a Governour he is concerned to confederate us into a Body Politick. For as a Gover­nour he is concerned to take care both that his will be performed, and that it may appear that what is commanded by him is there­fore performed by us because it is his Will, not because it is our own humour. And for both of these a Body Politick is very necessary.

[Page 130] § II 1. FOR having his own Will performed, he is equally concerned as he is a Governour, and as a Covenanter. I am therefore the more cautious in distinguishing these two Relations because his concern to see his own will performed as a Governour is indeed very different from that wherein he is considered as a Covenanter, and that even in regard of that performance of his will which is procured by Ecclesiastical Governours themselves. For as a Co­venanter he is only concerned to furnish Ecclesiastical Governours with so much power as may qualify them for entring into Cove­nant with him for its performance by their own Subjects as Per­sons Authorized to transact with him in the name of their re­spective Societies, and then to oblige them▪ by virtue of their Covenant, to employ their Authority for that design for which it was intended by him when he gave it them. So that in this regard they are to be considered as concerned on the part of Mankind, on which account I have already shewn the necessity of investing them with such an Authority. But considering God as a Governour, they will be related to him under that Notion as Subordinate Governours to their principal Head, and Original of Authority. And so they will be concerned, not on Mans part of the Covenant but on Gods, so that He will be more immedi­ately concerned in the Duty and respect that is paid to them; and consequently the principal Duty Covenanted for, on our part, being a submission to the Divine Authority, and a perfor­mance of all his Commands, Temporary and Prudential, as well as of such as are Eternally Obligatory; We cannot perform our Covenant with God without being Dutiful to them because they are invested with his Authority. As he is accounted a Rebel against his Prince, who resists any of his inferior Officers who are Legally empowered and commissioned by him, not only in things for which they have his particular express Warrant, but also in such as are to be presumed to have been left to their Prudence to Determine by Virtue of their General Commis­sion.

§ III AND it is no inconsiderable use of this Distinction to ob­serve, that Ecclesiastical Governours, being invested with a Power of Government in both these respects, cannot be accountable to their Subjects, as our Independent Brethren would have them. Indeed this might have been the Case, if they had been consi­dered only as our Representatives, and God had withal permitted [Page 132] us to our natural Liberty, both to appoint them, and to allow them what degree of trust we had pleased. For then we might as well have allowed them a limitted power as some Democratical Governments in the like manner derived from the consents of their particular Members have confessedly done. And then, by the Fundamental Rules of Democracy, all Persons being Subject to the Multitude in all such instances wherein they had not been parti­cularly empowered, and all power being derived from the Multi­tude; it will follow that, if they should presume to transgress the limits allowed them, they were still Ʋsurpers, and therefore still Subject, and accountable for such misdemeanors to those who had empowered them. But if we consider the Multitude as prevented, even in this their natural Right of choosing and em­powering their Representatives (as it is most certain that God may prevent them by virtue of his Authority over them Ante­cedent to any compacts whatsoever; and it is credible that he would, if he should think a Government independent on the Subjects most likely to promote the designs of such a Govern­ment as this is.) And much more, if we consider them as con­cerned on Gods part of the Covenant; So it will plainly appear that they must derive their Authority wholly from God, and therefore can have no other bounds than he is pleased to prescribe them, and even in Case of their transgressing these they can be accountable for such Transgressions only to God, not to the Mul­titude, from whom as no Authority was in this Case derived, so none could be reserved from them, which might make the Multitude their competent Superiors. So that the nature of this manner of conveyance of Government must make the Governours to whom it is conveyed Absolute and unaccountable, at least to any humane Judgment. At least if the Multitude would challenge any Jurisdiction this way, they ought to derive their claim from the same Original, by as clear and express donation from God him­self as their Governours do, which is not, that I know of as much as pretended to. And it is a very strong Presumption against them that Ecclesiastical Government was never derived from them, that indeed they never were in a condition of doing it. The Primitive Converts, were never united into a Body Antecedently to their admission into Christianity, but were ad­mitted by single persons, and successively; And such could not, even by the Rules of Democracy, be supposed to have a power of [Page 133] disposing of the Original inherent Rights of the Multitude. Besides it is plain that the first propagators of Christianity, Christ himself and the Apostles, had a Right of forming a So­ciety independent on the consent of its particular Nembers, and their admission of all the first Believers into their Society by Baptism does plainly shew that they acted, and owned themselves to act, by a power that could not have been derived from them. But for proving this I may elsewhere have a more convenient occasion.

§ IV TO return therefore to my Subject from which I have hither­to digressed. That God as a Governour is concerned to erect the Church into a Body politick, and to appoint Subordinate Gover­nours under himself, in Order to the seeing his Will performed; This will be easy to understand if it be considered. 1. That no Society whatsoever is governable only by general and immutable Laws without particular prudential accommodations to present circumstances, both of which must be derived from the same Authority; and therefore that there must be also in the Church, if it be governed by God, as well particular Divine Commands for things which are for the good of it in particular Circumstances as for those which are to immutably and eternally.

§ V THAT 2. God does not appear to declare his Will in these particular Circumstances by particular Extraordinary Revelations. And therefore, as in other Cases wherein a Prince cannot be consulted with in things belonging to his Authority, that is to be presumed to be the Princes pleasure which is proposed as such by his Ordinary Officers, and Disobedience to such Injunctions of Ordinary Officers is punished as if it had been committed against the Prince himself; so God must also be supposed to have provi­ded for such Cases by that general Power which he must there­fore give to Ecclesiastical Officers, whom we are therefore ac­cordingly to revere as we would approve our Selves obedient to God himself.

§ VI THAT 3. Besides that general Laws cannot reach all par­ticular Circumstances, because indeed what is Good in Circum­stances is Evil if considered in general, and therefore no way fit to be generally imposed; I say besides this, even in particulars that are reducible to them, they are not sufficient for governing any Society without Officers intrusted with a Power of Authen­tically expounding them, so that Subjects may be obliged to stand [Page 134] to their Decisions, and of compelling Subjects to submission in their practice. For if Subjects be willing to perform their Duty, and able to discern it in all particular Cases, there would be no need of Authority. But if Authority be supposed necessary, and that some Subjects will, in all likelyhood, prove disingenuous as well as mistaken; the Society can never be mainteined without a coer­cive power over such, vested in its Governours, nor without a power of deciding of such Laws Authentically in order to Pra­ctice. For this power of Authentical Exposition is as necessary for preserving the Society in a Succession as the Legislative power it self was for its first establishment; and therefore perfectly ne­cessary for those Governours which are to keep up the Succession. Especially considering that, as I said, no Authentick Interpre­tations are now to be expected from God himself. And there­fore it is as unreasonable to appeal from the Governours of the Church to the Scriptures in things concerning their Government (as matters of Practice certainly must, if any) and to expect that either the Government or the Society could be preserved if such an Appeal were admitted, as to expect that our Secular peace and Ʋnity could be preserved if we were allowed to appeal to the Letter of the Law against all the power of Magistrates, either for their Execution, or Interpretation.

§ VII AND 4. That as it is thus inconsistent with Government, or the Safety of any Society, to admit of an Appeal from all its Magistracy to its Laws; so it is also to admit the like Appeals from all the Visible Present Governours to one that is Invisible, and from whom no present decision is to be expected. For this is plainly to hinder all exercise of Church-Authority in this Life, and consequently to frustrate its whole design, seeing it is here only that it can be seasonable. For if the Appeal be good, the exercise of Government ought to be suspended till the Cause be decided by the Power to which the Appeal is made, which, if it cannot be expected in this Life, will consequently hinder, in this Life, all exercise of Government by the Persons invested with it, and so leave such a Society destitute of the means necessary for its own preservation in such Cases, that is indeed, in all which the frowardness and mistakes of the Appellants, as well as the Justice of their Cause, might make such. Whence it plainly follows that the supreme Visible Governours of the Church must be absolute, and unappealable, even in regard of Appeals to be made [Page 135] to God himself. Nor would our dissenting Brethren think this expression arrogant if they would be pleased to consider it in a parallel Case, wherein themselves (as many of them at least as are sensible of the moment of the things discoursed of, and no others are competent Judges of them) will, I believe think it Just and Reasonable, that is, in Secular Government. For will any of them think it fit that such Appeals should be admitted, I do not say in the State, but, even in their own Families? Could they ever expect to maintein their Authority, or the Peace even of these little Societies, upon these Terms, if their Authority must be controlled, and its execution suspended, as often as their too partially-concerned Subjects should make such Appeals, nay where themselves, the Governours, could not satisfy as much as their own Consciences as to the matter wherein the Appeal were made, as our Church professes her self unable to satisfy hers in the matter of our Brethrens Appeal? At least can any fallible Authority subject to humane mistakes and Prejudices of the Per­sons vested with it, ever reach the end for which it is originally designed (the decision of Controversies among their Subjects) on these Terms?

§ VIII AND yet the very same reasons which they urge for such an Appeal in Ecclesiasticals will proceed as strongly in Seculars. For are the Governours of the Church tyrannical? I believe them­selves will not deny but that many of the Seculars are so too. Are they fallible? Certainly the Secular Governours must be much more so, whose Errors are of less importance, and conse­quently less obliging Providence to prevent them, and who can­not pretend to such assistances of the Spirit as are given to the Ecclesiasticals at their Ordination, for preventing mistakes and extravagances. Are they subordinate to God and Jesus Christ? And are not the Secular Governours so too? Have we the Scrip­tures given us a Rule for us to discover their failings, and as a Law, by which themselves must be judged, at least, by their Supreme Master? And cannot the same Scriptures, besides the Laws of Nature and Nations and the Fundamental Constitutions of their respective Societies, and the Rules of Prudence, serve us for the same purpose to discover the lapses of Secular Princes? And are not they as obnoxious to Gods Tribunal, as the Eccle­siasticks, for the violation of these Laws, at the day of Judg­ment?

[Page 136] § IX WILL they therefore say that their nearer relation to God does make them more severely accountable to him? I confess it does so. But must it therefore withal make them more ac­countable to their own Subjects? Must they therefore be more subject to curbs and interruptions in the present exercise of their Government? I am sure this is contrary to the course of pro­ceedings in humane affairs. We do not find there, that Appeals are more easily admitted, but more difficultly, by how much nearer the Persons, from whom the Appeal is made, are related to the Supreme Prince. Nor are the miscarriages of that Govern­ment, which is limitted or curbed, either thought so aggreable, or accountable, as of that which has been absolute and arbitrary. And I am sure this is contrary to the sense of all those wise and Politick Nations, who have therefore either united their Sacred power with that of the Secular in one Person, though their Offices and Exercises were clearly distinct; or used ceremonies of Con­secration in their admission to the Secular power; or reputed them as mixt Persons, and given them the stile of Sacrosancti, not only to secure their Persons from violence, but to conciliate a greater veneration for their Majesty, not to add any restrictions to their Authority as to Men, but rather to possess them with a greater reverence of their Prudence, when by this Means they should see them intitled to such Extraordinary Divine assistances, and a more profound submission to their Authority when resist­ance to them should look so like fighting against God himself; and the very honour which God was pleased to confer on them in admitting them to so near a relation to himself might justly aw Men into an opinion that God would not admit of any resist­ance in any Case, of Appeal it self, but that where Active Obe­dience could not be paid them, yet Passive should, and that even Appeals themselves would not be admitted, no not even in the Court of Conscience, but in matters of great importance, and very evident, by the same proportion of Government as we see in all other Cases that Appeals are much more difficult by how much the Judicatory from whence the Appeal is made approaches nearer to the Supreme of all. And if the Secular Prince have been always thought a gainer by this accession either of the like Power, or the like Ceremonies of Investiture into his own Power with those whereby the Ecclesiasticks are ordinarily settled in theirs, then certainly the Original Ecclesiastical Power must be [Page 129] conceived more obligatory, and less obnoxious to Appeal than the Secular which has been thus fortified by it.

§ X AND 5. By the general Principles of Government, it is not only true that Officers of higher Dignity are to be obeyed as Representatives of the Prince, (such as are Viceroys and Deputies) but it is also true of the meanest Officers that are (such as Con­stables, &c.) That resistance of them in any Case is counted a resistance of the Prince, and even where they transgress the Laws yet they are not to be opposed. But according to the method of Regular Appeals, not by an immediate recourse to the Prince himself, but their more immediate Superiors; And what is de­creed in such Cases by those inferior Subordinate Officers to whom the Appeal is made is the same way to be obeyed as if it had been decreed by the Prince himself, and under the same hazard of in­curring the guilt of Rebellion against him, especially where there can be no access to the Person of the Prince himself, as there is none in our present Case. So that by this method there can be no lawful remedy against the Exorbitances even of inferior Go­vernours, but by recourse to their Superiors; and the Sentence given by Superiors upon such Appeal cannot be resisted without resisting Christ himself. Thus Christ as a Governour is concerned to take care for the erection of a Body Politick consisting of Vi­sible Governours as well as governed, and Subordinate as well as Supreme Governours, and to provide means of obliging all to obey them all respectively, under pain of being accounted refractory against himself, as a means of securing the performance of his own will by us, which must be performed by us, if we be real Subjects.

§ XI BUT 2. He is also further concerned to see, not only that his Will be performed by us, but also that it be performed by us because it is his Will, and not because it is our own humour; and that it may appear to be so performed by us, the erection of a Body Politick is also necessary. He is con­cerned as a Governour to take care that it may appear, even to Men, that his Will is performed by us because it is his Will, and not only because it is our humour to do the things willed by him. For it is absolutely necessary for Government, that it may attain the ends of Government, to keep up its own reputation in the minds of Subjects. For a despised Government can neither awe by its threats, nor allure by its rewards, nor consequently have any [Page 130] hold on the minds of Subjects to oblige them to perform their Duties, or to preserve the publick Peace, which are the most essential ends of Government. Of this all wise Men have been so very sensible as that it has always been thought fit to punish the least affronts against Majesty, how inconsiderable soever other­wise in themselves, with the severest Penalties. Though all civilized Nations and Places would afford innumerable instances hereof, yet at present I name only one because I believe it will be of most Authority with our dissenting Brethren,2 Sam. x.4.5. 1 Chron. xix.4.5. and that is of David. The affront of Hanun the Ammonite was not that of a Subject, but of a neighbouring absolute Prince; not against his Person, but only his Ambassadors; nor even against them was it such as might do them any permanent inconvenience. It was only a matter of present shame, the shaving of one half of their beards, and cutting off their garments to the middle. Yet we see this occasioned a very severely managed War, wherein, besides the mischief done in hot blood, the whole People, that were taken as Prisoners of War, were treated with excessive rigour. They were put under sawes and harrows of Iron, 2 Sam. xii.31. 1 Chron. xx.3. and axes of Iron, and made to pass under the brick Kilne. And to treat a Prince thus to whose Father David himself had confessed himself so much ob­liged (I suppose in his exile under Saul, for Nahash the Father of Hanun seems to have been the same who was vanquished by Saul. 1 Sam. XI.Ant. l. vi. c. 5. Whereas yet Josephus without any ground from the Sacred Text will have him killed in the fight, though afterwards in the Story it self he makes him newly deceased when this Em­bassy was sent,Id. Ant. l. vii. c. 5. unless possibly the distance between these two actions may incline us to suspect that there were two different Kings of the Ammonites of the same name) To do thus with the Ammonites to whom the Nation of the Jews was so nearly related, to the generality of those who had yielded to his mercy, and in all their Cities, may (to Persons not considering how fatal in their consequences things may be which are inconsiderable in them­selves, and how necessary it is for Government that such conse­quences be in time prevented) seem an excessively harsh expiation of so small a guilt. Yet by David (whom his History shews not to have been cruelly disposed, nor revengeful) this was thought necessary for preservation of his Government.

§ XII NOW as Government can signify nothing, without this repu­tation, for the good of Subjects; so neither can this reputation be [Page 131] preserved among them unless it may appear that they who obey the Authority, do it, not only to please themselves, but him who has commanded the things to be performed by them, and there­by signify their acknowledgment of his Authority and their own Subjection to him. For what good can this reputation do, unless it may appear to them who are to be edified by it? And how can it appear to them that Subjects doing the commands of Autho­rity have really that honour and respect for the Authority that commanded them, unless this may also appear to them by their Practice conformable to such a respect, which is indeed the only Prudent Argument for discovering what another does seriously believe? And how can this appear by their Practice unless they see them do something at the command of the Authority, which they may have reason to believe they would not have done, if the Authority had not commanded it? But in all things wherein themselves are gratified, it may very justly be suspected whether they would not have done them, though no Authority had re­quired them; and in all things wherein this gratification of themselves cannot be disproved, it may be very probably be presumed.

§ XIII NOR indeed is this appearance that Men do what is com­manded by Authority only for the sake of the Authority only necessary (as some may be inclinable to conceive) for ostentation of the Power with which the Persons Authorized are invested, nor only for edifying others with the goodness of the example, but also for securing the performance of the Duties themselves. Indeed if our Judgments were always so uncorrupt as that we might always be sensible of our own interests, or all our Duties were accommodated, not only to our greater and more solid In­terests, but to our humours also, and we were likely always to continue in the same humour, or at least secure from a frequent change; there might then be some pretence that our Duty might generally be secured without contradiction of our humours. But seeing none of these can be presumed certain and constant, nay seeing all of them do most frequently fall out otherwise than it is requisite they should, for securing the performance of our Duty; that we are frequently either prejudiced against our Duty, or changed from our former humours; therefore it is necessary for securing performance that we do our Duty on constant and im­mutable reasons, such as may not be obnoxious to the changes [Page 132] and vicissitudes of our humours. And such is that, and only that, of doing our Duty with regard to the Authority of him who has required it.

§ XIV NOW for discovering this, whether Duty be performed on account of the Authority requiring it, a visible Body Politick, (wherein Men may be invested with the Divine Authority, and may therefore be allowed for Authentical Expositors of the Di­vine Will, that so our Obedience to God may be known by our Obedience to Persons thus empowered by him) is much better accommodated, than if we confine the Divine Authority in mat­ters of this nature to the Scriptures; and allow the exposition of the Scriptures to the Consciences of particular Subjects, as the measure of their Practice. For as the Scriptures are now ma­naged, by them who reject all prudent use of Ecclesiastical Tra­dition for expounding them; it is easy for them who will take their own fancies for the sense of the Scripture, and then concern themselves not so much to prove what they have so presumed, as to evade what may be objected against them, to evade all possible confutation, how false soever the Errors may be which on these terms they shall undertake to maintein. For it is im­possible, on these terms, so to assure any one sense of the Scrip­ture in favour of any one side of a Controversy newly raised to be the true sense of the Holy Ghost as to exclude all other senses inconsistent with it; especially in matters of Practice of a Tem­porary Obligation (and such are the particulars controverted by our dissenting Brethren) wherein, whatever is pretended, it can never appear that the Sacred Writers themselves designed to be so accurate and particular, as our dissenting Brethren conceive. And it is least of all credible that they should rightly understand the sense of the Scriptures in matters of this nature, or assure any thing that may prevent licentious and dangerous expositions of others, who wave the History of the Practice of the Church at, or near, those Ages wherein these Books were Written, which must certainly be of most use for explaining the sense of the Sacred Writers in such matters.

§ XV BESIDES, though there had been even on their Principles, better means for assuring a particular sense of the Holy Ghost, (in such particulars as these) that might not be evaded by a Per­son desirous to practice otherwise; yet how can we be assured that Persons act sincerely in following their convictions? How [Page 133] shall we know that Persons of a violent temper and Seditious may not pretend the commands of God to be contrary to those of their ordinary Ecclesiastical Governours, not that either they themselves believe them to be so, or that they are at all solicitous for doing Gods will; but meerly that so they may make use of a plausible pretence for gratifying their Seditious humours without the infamy of being thought Seditious? It is certain many may do so, who may either not be guilty of any inclination to any of those scandalous vices which are of ill repute with the Vulgar; or if they be, yet they may count it politick, not only to conceal them, but also to make an open solemn profession for the con­trary in order to the gaining of a reputation to their ill designs. And these are Cases which, considering the humour of the Age, and the haughty behaviour of many who are deeply engaged in the several Parties, may, without any uncharitableness, be sup­posed likely to prove ordinary. Now when we find Persons exceedingly pretending to be Religious impatient of all restraints that we can judg of, either to be likely to proceed from God, or to be thought by them to do so, and only pretending to Sub­jection to God in such instances which may be as likely to be de­signed for their own gratification as for the service of God; where we can either not be satisfied of their Sincerity, that they do in earnest believe their own Practices to be warranted by Divine Authority; or where, though they were sincere, yet the Evidence on which they proceed is of so ambiguous Interpreta­tion as to be very capable of a compliance with their own desires whatever they be, and so never likely to impose any thing on them contrary to their own Inclinations (which is the only Case wherein we can conclude that what is performed by them is per­formed with regard to the Divine Authority) how can we con­clude that they have any real reverence for the Injunctions them­selves, or for the Authority by which they are imposed? But further

§ XVI 2.HE is also, as a Governour, concerned to oblige us to the performance of our Duty by such Means as may prove most effectual with us for that purpose; and certainly the ex­ternal Solemnity of undertaking them is such a means, and most likely to prove successful. That he is as a Governour con­cerned to oblige us to the performance of our Duty by such means as may prove most likely to prevail with us for its actual performance, [Page 134] will appear if it be considered that he is as a Governour con­cerned for such things as may make for the advantage of the Society in general; And that withal it is much for the reputa­tion of the goodness and Prudence of his Government, to re­concile this publick benefit with the least prejudice to particular members of the Society; And it is much more for its repute if it may prove advantageous to the interests of most of the particular Members. And for both these purposes, the per­formance of Duty by the particular Persons obliged, is very useful.

§ XVII IT is useful for the Publick. For this is indeed to the com­mendation of the Prudence of any Government in general, and particularly of the Divine Government, to make the Duties of particular Subjects subservient to the good of the whole Com­munity. Nor is this only true of the Duty of Subordinate Eccle­siastical Governours (whose peculiar Province it is to take care of the Publick) though it be indeed most obviously and eminently true concerning them: and God is as peculiarly concerned as a Governour to take care that such means may be used with them as may prevail with them for the actual performance of their Duty (because the neglect of their Duty has a more immediate ill influence on the Publick than that of private Persons) as they are for the actual performance of those who are under them; and there are not more efficacious means for prevailing even on them for the performance of their Duty than these Solemnities which are made use of for the Obligation of private Christians; and they who undervalue their Baptismal Obligations, at their under­taking of Christianity, cannot in any likelyhood be much awed by those which are used ordinarily at the susception of Government. For no particular employments whatsoever for Gods Service can, with any reason, prevail with him who is not already effectually perswaded to be diligent in serving God in general, seeing all particular obligations are only this general one reduced to practice in particulars, and therefore can have no further force than what is derived from it. But the actual performance of Duty by particular private Persons is a thing fit to be regarded by God as a Governour as well as that of Governours: both as it is the primary end of all Government whatsoever that Duty should be performed, and only a secondary one to make them satisfy the Publick for their neglect of it by their punishment; And as none [Page 135] desires a secondary end but upon frustration of his hopes of that which is primary, so it is much for the reputation of a Prudent Person to lay his designs so as that he may not frequently fail of his primary end, or frequently be driven to make amends for its loss by that which is only secondary; And as the Publick good is not possible to be promoted but by the good of the generality of particulars, seeing the Publick is indeed nothing else but a complex of particulars; And as indeed the principal Duties required from particular Persons, by the Precepts of Christi­anity, are likely to prove eminently serviceable for the good of others. For indeed the great design of Christianity seems to be to animate us all with publick and Heroick Spirits; nor are those in­deed its principally-designed Duties which are commonly mi­staken for such by Melancholy devout Persons,the restraining of our Selves from all kind of Sin, or the recollection and fervor of Spirit which is gotten by assiduity in Prayer and Meditation and the like exercises of Devotion, no nor indeed any Personal accomplishment whatsoever any farther than that may make us useful for the Service of God and the good of others. And accordingly our Saviour represents our Tryal at the day of Judgment. Not to be how little mischief we have done, but how much good; Not how Zealous and Devout we were, nay or how Sincere too, but how charitable; Not how good we have been our Selves, but how good we have been to others; Not whether we have prayed or fasted or addicted our Selves to Peni­tential exercises and mortifications, but whether we have given meat to the hungry or drinks to the thirsty; whether we have cloathed the naked, or received Strangers into our houses; whether we have visited the Sick and the Prisoners. St. Matth. xxv.35. And the acceptable Fast, described in Isaiah, is not for a man to afflict his Soul for a day, to bow down his head as a bulrush, to spread sackcloath and ashes under him; but to loose the bands of wickedness to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoak; Is. lviii.6.7. to deal our bread to the hungry, to bring the poor into our houses, to cover the naked, and not to hide our Selves from our own Flesh. And how innocent soever we may be, yet if we do no good; we may justly fear that sentence which shall be pronounced not only against the wicked and the evil, St. Matth. xxv.26.30. but the idle and unprofitable Ser­vant; not only against him who had embezelled his Talent, but [Page 136] against him also who had not improved it. And therefore Daniel advises Nabuchadnezzar to break off his Sins by Righteousness, Dan. iv.27. and his Iniquities (not barely by forbearing them for the future, but) by shewing mercy to the poor; and our Saviour tells us that, if we give alms all things shall be pure unto us, and that our Friends of the unrighteous Mammon are they who shall receive us into ever­lasting habitations. St. Luk. xvi.9. Mic. vi.8. St. Jam. i.27. This it is that God requires from us, to do Justice, and to love mercy (to Men) as well as to walk humbly with Him. And this St. James makes the sum of pure and undefiled Religion, to visit the Fatherless and Widows in their affliction as well as to keep himself unspotted from the World.

§ XVIII VERY many more proofs hereof might have been produced from the Old Testament, but the New does principally abound with them. Here it is that we are required, not that every one should mind his own good, Philip. ii.4. Rom. xii.15. but the good of one another; that we must bear each others infirmities, and sympathize in each others successes, that we rejoyce with them that rejoyce and mourn with them that mourn. And the Analogy betwixt the mistical Body of Christ and a natural humane Body, is paralleled in this as in many other instances, that as every Member in the natural Body is sensible of every thing that befalls the whole, and it is an Argument that it does not partake of the common vital influence if it be not so; so, in the Body Mistical, if one Member suffer that all the Mem­bers must suffer with it, 1 Cor. xii.26. and if one be honoured all the others must rejoyce with it. And it is a great part of the design of the first Epistle of St. John, to ground all our comfort or discomfort on this one Trial of our Love to the Brethren:1 St. Joh. iv.20. So he that loves not his Brother whom he hath seen cannot love God whom he has not seen; and he who does not relieve his Brother when he is able to do so, cannot have the Love of God dwelling in him. 1 St. Joh. iii.17. And on the con­trary it is an Argument with him, that we are in a good condition (not that we behave our Selves innocently, or are frequent at Ser­mons, or feel transports in our Devotions, but) that we love the Brethren, 1 St. Joh. iii.14. Ver. 19. and are ready to lay down our Lives for them. Hereby it is that we know that we are passed from Death to Life, that we are in the Truth, and may assure our hearts before God. Very much more might have been produced to this purpose; but I should not have been willing at present to have said so much if I had not conceived it conveient to take this present occasion of recommending this Tryal of our Consciences, rather by our [Page 137] usefullness in our generation than by any other ordinary signs, not only as most generous and most agreeable with the true de­sign of Christianity, but as more really solid and comfortable to the Persons concerned in it. But I must not digress further from my present design to shew how it comes to be so. All that I am now concerned for in it is, only to observe how great an influence the actual performance of the Duties of Christianity have on the good of that Society wherein they are performed, when by this means the Members must be so mutually endeared, and so strong­ly inclined to the mutual performance of all good Offices; and therefore how very worthy it is of the care of all good Gover­nours, but especially of God as the Governour of that Society for which it is more immediately and principally designed; and withal how very heinous in Gods sight the Sin of Schism must prove, consequently to these Supposals, and how very destructive to the comfort of the Persons engaged in it, when it is so extremly prejudicial to the Publick.

CHAP. VI. The same thing further Prosecuted.

THE CONTENTS.

§ I Both the Ends now mentioned concerning God as a Governour are more likely to be atteined by admitting us to the Benefits of the Covenant by the External Solemnities of it than other­wise. §. I. 1. That of confederating Us into a Body Politick. A short account of the usefullness of the whole Hypothesis pro­moted in this Discourse for this purpose. §. II.III.IV.V.VI.VII.VIII.IX.X.XI.XII.XIII.XIV.XV.XVI.XVII.XVIII.XIX.XX.XXI.XXII.XXIII.XXIV.XXV. 2. That of securing our performance of Duty. §. XXVI.XXVII.XXVIII.XXIX.XXX.XXXI.XXXII.XXXIII.

2. THEREFORE I proceed to prove that both these Ends, of confederating us into a Body Politick, and of obliging us to the performance of the Duties required on our part, are more likely to be at­teined by admitting us to the Benefits of the Covenant only by the External Solemnities of it as the Ordinary Means rather than by admitting us to them immediately by our own Re­solutions or Promises. Both these I shall consider distinct­ly.

§ II 1. THEN, This admitting of us to the Benefits of the Evan­gelical Covenant only by the external Solemnities of it as the Or­dinary Means is very useful for confederating us into a Body Poli­tick, and for obliging us to submit to such Governours as those of the Church, who may be supposed obnoxious to frequent Persecutions of the Secular Power, and then to be left destitute of any thing but their own Sacredness which may aw their refractory Subjects to Obe­dience. For according to the Principles which I have partly proved already, and shall partly have occasion to prove further [Page 139] in prosecution of my designed Method, I suppose 1. That no Prudent Person can ever be willing to venture his Soul on a less secure way that can obtein a more secure one by any condescensions of less concernment than the thing he ventures. As though it be very possible to escape Shipwrack by a plank, yet no wise man will ever venture it that may have a Ship by concessions of less concernment to him than the hazard of his Life by such a ven­ture. The very fear and probability of his miscarriage in such a Case would be thought sufficient to Oblige him to yield to Conditions otherwise very intolerable, if yet they might be less hurtful to him than his present Fears in such a Conditi­on;

§ III AND 2. That the Fear of his Souls miscarriage would be really judged more hurtful, by a Prudent Person, than any con­descension whatsoever, how grievous soever, if it were not directly sinful. Because, at least to him, his own Soul is his dearest interest, and nothing can prejudice that but Sin.

§ IV AND 3. He that wants the Ordinary Means of Salvation, and is only to trust to Extraordinaries, will have reason to judg himself to be in as great and probable hazard of his Soul as he, who in a storm were cast out of a Ship, and had nothing given him to favour him in his escape, but a plank, were of his Body. And such a Person were therefore obliged to yield to all conditions not sinful, because nothing but Sin could make his condition more desperate or less comfortable to him than that wherein he is thus supposed to be already engaged; as in the Parallel condition nothing but Death, or that which were worse, could make that Persons condition, more disconsolate than it is, who in a Shipwrack could have nothing but a plank to trust to.

§ V THAT 4. In regard of the Soul, the only Ordinary Means of its Salvation is its interest in the Divine Promises; at least this is the only Ordinary Means of our Assurance of it.

§ VI THAT 5. The only way of procuring an interest in them is by procuring an interest in the Covenant by which alone it comes to pass that God is Obliged to the performance of them.

§ VII THAT 6. The only Ordinary Means of procuring an interest in this Covenant is by admission to the External Solemnities by which it is ratified and confirmed.

[Page 140] § VIII THAT 7. These External Solemnities are the two Sacra­ments. And therefore that it will hence follow that all unsinful Conditions, however inconvenient, are rather to be submitted to than that we should suffer our Selves to be deprived of the use of them; And that therefore they, and only they, who only have the power of administring them, and of admitting us to them, must, by this very contrivance of things, be necessarily understood to have a power to impose on us what Constitutions they please that are not sinful. And though it be very possible for other Governours, who may not be aware of Consequences, to give away a greater power to their Inferior Officers by the words of their Commission, or by some other subtle Consequence from the nature of the Power intrusted to them, than they inten­ded; yet this cannot be understood of God who is Omniscient. And therefore whatsoever Consequence does follow from the nature of the Government intrusted by him may therefore be concluded to have been by him designed for the Governours so intrusted.

§ IX 8. THEREFORE the administration of these Sacraments, and consequently the admission of particular Persons to them, is not common to all Christians, but only confined to some Per­sons Authorized for that purpose by God; so that if the admini­stration of the External Symbols were attempted by any other, such an attempt were not only irregular, but invalid; and there­fore could not confer any Title to the Spiritual Benefits to be conveyed by it, but rather a Curse for the Presumption it self in the Person principally guilty, and on others also that should prove accessary to it by communicating with him in such his Usurpations.

§ X THAT, upon the Supposition of such a confinement, all other attempts for gaining the Benefits of the Sacraments from Persons not Authorized to administer them, would be invalid, ipso jure, that is, would confer no Legal Title to those Benefits, will plainly appear whether we consider God as a Governour or as a Cove­nanter. If as a Governour, then it is necessary that all his in­ferior Governours be impowered by his Commission to act by his Authority, which Commission if they want they cannot be said to act by his Authority, and no Illegal Authority can confer a valid Legal Title. If as a Covenanter, he cannot be thus ob­liged without his own will, and therefore none can celebrate a [Page 141] Covenant in Gods name so as to oblige him to performance of it unless God signify it to be his pleasure to empower him to do so, as in Law none can be obliged by anothers act who has not been empowered to act in his name by his Letters of Proxy. And he that presumes of himself to make a Covenant, wherein God is by him engaged as a Party, without being so empowered by God; as what he does cannot in any Legal exposition be reputed as Gods Act, so neither can it infer any Legal Obligation on him to performance.

§ XI NOR are these Sacraments invalid only as to the Title, but also even as to the Possession of the Benefits to be conveyed by them. For it is to be considered that the Case is very different betwixt the Power given by God to Ministers for the convey­ance of Spiritual Blessings by the Sacraments, and that which is given by Worldly Princes to inferior Officers for the conveyance of Secular Favours. For because the possessions of Lands are in effect subject to the power of the Sword, the inferior Officers who have the power of the Sword, and withal have the Lands within the Jurisdiction wherein that power is allowed them, as they may decree wrong in giving Lands to Persons who have no Legal Right to them, so they may also for a time put them in possession of them. But the advantages of the Sacraments are Spiritual; and consequently their Possession, as well as Right, must depend wholly on the Divine pleasure, and it cannot be presumed likely to please God to give any validity to the Acts of Ʋsurpers. Nay that a Curse instead of a Blessing is to be feared from Ordinances so administred, will appear by the same Prin­ciples of Government. For there are no Crimes more punish­able, by these Principles, than those which encroach on the Su­preme Government, and none reputed more Treasonable than pretending a Commission where none is given, and counterfeiting the Broad Seal; especially when they proceed so far as to raise actual Sedition on these pretences. Now of all these Crimes these Ʋnauthorized Sacraments must be charged by these Prin­ciples.

§ XII THE Administrers of them pretend a Commission from God when they have none; because they plainly take upon them to intermeddle in that Government which nothing can empower them to intermeddle in without an express Commission; at least they cannot expect to be trusted, and submitted to by Loyal Sub­jects, [Page 142] without such a pretence. They presume to counterfeit the broad Seal (for such our dissenting Brethren themselves conceive the Sacraments to be in respect of the New Covenant, and ac­cordingly charge the Romanists with counterfeiting the Broad seal of Heaven for adding to the Number of the Sacraments) in taking upon them to oblige God as a Party of a Covenant, and preten­ding to set his Seal to it, without Power received from him to do so. They raise Sedition, by setting up Societies within the Jurisdiction of those Churches whereof themselves were Ori­ginally Members, and yet independent on the Government of those Churches. Which if it be not Sedition by the Principles of Government in general (not as confined particularly to that which is Civil or Ecclesiastical) for my part I must confess I do not understand what Sedition is. And certainly the Principles of Government in general, as prescinding from both these kinds, must be admitted in these Disputes, unless we will pretend Ec­clesiastical Government not to agree with that which is Secular in as much as one Ʋnivocal Notion, which is indeed to devest it of any thing of Government but a bare Name. And then by the same Principles of Government, not only they are Traitors who raise the Rebellion, but also they who maintein and abet it when it is raised, which will involve the Communicants in these Sacra­ments in this Capital Guilt as well as the Administrers of them.

§ XIII AND that indeed the valid Administration of the Sacraments is thus confined to the Regularly-Ordeined Clergy, will appear whether we consider the Sacraments as Confederations into a Body Politick, or only as sacred Rites and Ceremonies instituted by God in Order to some great effects to be promoted by them without any design upon a Body Politick. If we consider them as confederations into a Body Politick, that is, as Baptism does admit a Member into the Church, and as the Blessed Eucharist does, not only signify, but, perpetuate and effect, that Ʋnion with Christ the Head of this Mystical Body, and with their Brethren as Fellow-Members, which may make them capable of receiving those vital influences which are here expected, the same way as a Member of the Natural Body, by being vitally united to the Living Head and Members, is made capable of receiving that Communication of Blood and Spirits by which the Life of the whole Body is mainteined: Then they will plainly appear to be [Page 143] the Right of Governours. For in all Governments the Right of admitting Members into their Societies at first, or continuing them in it in order to the instating them in the Legal Priviledges of such Societies, is never conceived to belong to particular Mem­bers, but only to Governours. So that if a particular Ʋnautho­rized Member should presume to admit a Member into the Body Politick whereof he is himself a Member, such an Act were not only Irregular, but Invalid in it self, so that a Member so admit­ted cannot be reputed a Legal Member of such a Society, nor consequently be Legally intitled to the Priviledges of it without a new admission. For considering that this admission and con­tinuance of Members in a Society does withal intitle them to all the Priviledges of it, if the power of this admission and depri­vation be not confined to the Governours, they must consequently be deprived of the Rewards and Punishments (for indeed the Priviledges Men gain by being of any Society are the only Rewards that are proper and natural to invite Men to it, or continue them in it, and the deprivation of those Priviledges, especially if they be so necessary for their Preservation as that the loss of them must inevitably expose Persons so deprived to the greatest incon­veniences, are the only natural Punishments to discourage Men from doing any thing contrary to the Will of the Governours of such a Society.) And how possible it is for any Government to be mainteined in a Society where the Rewards and Punishments are not at the disposal of the Governours, I believe our Brethren themselves will never be able to explain. And therefore, pur­suant to these Principles, for my part I must confess I do not understand how the validity of Laicks and much more Womens Baptism (who by the Apostles Rule are much less capable of Ecclesiastical Authority) can be defended, unless it may possibly be by that general Delegation which may be conceived to have been graunted to them by the Governours by those Customes and Constitutions which permit them to administer it. But it would then be a further Doubt, How far such Persons as these are capable of such a Delegation? To which I do not intend at pre­sent to digress.

§ XIV OR if we consider them in the later sense, only as Sacred Rites instituted by God for his publick and solemn Worship, to which he has been pleased to annex such Blessings as might en­courage Persons to their observation; yet even so they will be­long [Page 144] to the Clergy, if not immediately as Governours, yet, at least, as Persons consecrated, and set apart, for the Solemnities of the Divine Worship in Publick. For under this notion it will be their proper Province to officiate in the Solemnities of Divine Worship; and it is plain that the Sacraments do not concern the private Devotions of Closets, but that which is performed pub­lickly in Churches. That Baptism does so, appears from all its ends, both as it is an initiation of a Member into the Church, as a Multitude, at least, if not as a Body Politick; And as we are hereby united to all Christians, by partaking of one Baptism as well as by our believing one God and one Faith; And as we here partake of one Spirit with them, which plainly concern us, not in our private, but publick capacities. And that the Blessed Eucharist does so too, is notorious, and appears from all the Discourses of our Authors against the private Masses of the Romanists.

§ XV AND even this later Notion is abundantly sufficient for my purpose, both to secure these employments from the Invasions of the Laity, and consequently to invest the ordinary Successors into these employments with a power of Government. It will be sufficient to secure these employments from the Invasions of the Laity. For thus God has always been extremely severe against all encroachments in the Publick Solemnities of his Service, usu­ally more severe than against those Sins which our Brethren are generally inclinable to look on as very much more flagitious. The Examples of 2 Sam. vi.6, 7. 1 Chr. xiii.9.10. Ʋzzah and 2 Chron. xxvi.16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21. Ʋzziah are very consi­derable to this purpose. But especially that of Saul, 1 Sam. xiii. who, though he had first waited for Samuel Ver. 8.11. seven days together, and though the People were Ver. 6.11. scattered from him, and those few that followed him were under an excessive Ver. 7. consternation, and that the Ver. 12. Philistines were ready to engage him on these disadvantages, which must be more formidable to him not having first invoked the Divine assistance; Yet, because, upon all these Considerations, he Ver. 12. forced himself (as himself professes) and offered a burnt offering, he had this severe sentence from Samuel at his next meeting, that his Kingdom should not be Ver. 13, 14. esta­blished in his Posterity. Which by the way may let our dissenting Brethren understand how unwarrantable their pretence is for venturing on the celebration of Sacraments without a Call, though they must otherwise be hindred from all Sacraments in a Regular [Page 145] way by the Ordinary Regular Church Governours. For as Saul here might have had more hopes of a merciful return of his Prayers without the Solemnity of Sacrifice in these Circumstances wherein it was impossible to have it performed with its due Solemnity than by presuming to transgress his Order in perfor­ming them irregularly; so by the same proportion God would more easily excuse our Brethren for the want of Sacraments, if they could not have them on Terms consistent with their Con­sciences, than accept of their Devotions accompanied with these Solemnities, when they cannot have them without Ʋsur­pation.

§ XVI FOR as in the former Case Saul and our Brethren too had not been chargeable with the Sin of omitting these Solemnities when they could not have them without Sin (I mean in our Bre­threns Case without the Sin of compliance with Conditions which they think unconscionable, if they were to receive them from their Ordinary Governours; or of Ʋsurpation, if they should attempt to administer them themselves) And besides they might have had great hopes of having such their Prayers heard, not only on account of the general Uncovenanted Goodness of God, but even of the Equity of the Covenant it self, it not being likely that God, who is the Party here concerned, would ever deprive us of Promises so necessary for us meerly on non-performance of Conditions, though Morally only, not Naturally, impossible, I mean such as were impossible to a good Conscience if it would continue good as well as such as were impossible in the nature of the thing: So in the later Case (where both Saul and they usurp a power of celebrating these Solemnities rather than they would be content to want them) they incur the guilt of a Sin in pro­curing it, and that (as has appeared from the instances now men­tioned) of very great heinousness in the esteem of God, seeing he has punished it with so great Severity, which does not only pollute their Prayers, and make them unacceptable, even by the Rules of Equity as well as strict Legal Justice, but also render them very justly obnoxious to a severe punishment.

§ XVII IT is in vain to pretend that these are Legal examples, and therefore not to be extended to the condition of the Gospel. For this unlawfullness for any but Levitical Priests to intermeddle with Sacrifices cannot, I think, be proved from any express prohibition against the other Tribes grounded on any reason sin­gular [Page 146] and proper to that dispensation. If it were I should then confess that such Positive Commands would not oblige us now who are under another Legislator than Moses. But it is not for our Brethrens interest to deny the present Obligation of several Commands of the Mosaick Dispensation so seemingly Positive as that their Moral reason had been very hardly, if at all, dis­coverable by us Antecedently to the Positive Injunction of them. Not to mention the prohibition of incestuous Marriages which all believe us at present concerned in, there are two very consider­able instances for which our Brethren usually plead with no little Zeal, that is, the morality of the Sabbath and of Tiths, wherein they can prove very little, if the perpetual seasonableness of the reason on which the Command was grounded at first be not ad­mitted as a sufficient reason to prove its perpetual and present Ob­ligation.

§ XVIII NOW this is the plain Case here. The reason of that pro­hibition against other Tribes, besides the Levitical, intermed­dling with Sacrifice seems wholly derived from the Notion of Consecration, which is a part of that Natural Religion which, being obligatory by its intrinsick reasonableness, concerns all Mankind independently on Revelation. So because God had set the Levites apart for himself above all the other Tribes of the Israelites, and had appointed Ceremonies of Consecration of which they alone were capable, therefore they alone were em­powered to intermeddle with the Solemnities of Divine Worship, because their Consecration it self was understood as a solemn ad­mission of them to the Right of officiating in the Solemnities of Religion, and therefore they who were not thus admitted were reputed as Intruders. And the same reason may be proportion­ably applied to those higher Offices which were appropriated to the several Orders of the Priest-hood by virtue of their different degrees of Consecration above the other Ordinary Levites. For from the Examples of Korah and Ʋzzah it plainly appears to have been as piacular and Sacrilegious for ordinary Levites to invade the Offices of a higher Consecration as for ordinary Laicks to have invaded the Levites Office without any Consecration at all. And accordingly we find that when Korah murmured against the appropriating of the Priesthood to Aarons Family his Argument was that all the Congregation was Holy, Num. xvi.3. plainly supposing that it must be their holiness above others (I mean this relative holiness [Page 147] which was transacted by these external Solemnities of Consecra­tion) that could give them this advantage above others in order to their having the Priesthood appropriated to them. And Moses by way of reply plainly graunts this, but withal tells them that God would shew who were his, and who were Holy;v.5. that is in that Degree of Holiness which was then disputed of. Which was neither any internal Holiness of their Persons, nor all degrees of relative Holiness on account of Solemn Consecration. For of some such degrees it was notoriously true that the whole Congregation had been indeed consecrated to God by their Circumcision and other external Solemnities) but in regard of that particular degree wherein the Priests had plainly the advantage of them in regard of those particular Solemnities of consecrating them to their Office, which the Ordinary Levites, and much less the Ordinary People, could not pretend to. However we plainly see that Moses did not put the issue of this Dispute to that express prohibition, That the Stranger (that is, as it is explained here, Numb. xvi.40.Numb. iii.10. He who was not of the seed of Aaron) who should come nigh, (that is, to officiate in the Priests Office) should be put to death; but on this, Who of them should be found to be more Holy in regard of this relative Holiness, and the evidence God was to give of his own choice of the Sons of Aaron above others.

§ XIX AND does not this reason hold exactly here? It is very true that all true Christians, Laicks as well as others, are a Royal Priesthood, and a peculiar People. And it was as true what was pretended by Corah Dathan and Abiram in favour of this pro­miscuous Liberty of Sacrifice by the other Levites, at least, as well as those of the Family of Aaron, that all the Congregation was Holy. Nay God himself had frequently owned it in calling them a Holy Nation, and a peculiar People; for these present Priviledges of the Christians are the same and the same way ex­pressed as the Jews had been used to express themselves in this same matter, and very probably used by the New-Testament Writers in allusion to them. And yet as that did not excuse that attempt then, did not conclude against a peculiar Holiness in the Tribe of Levi and the Family of Aaron above others, did not give even the Levitical Family of Corah a Liberty of meddling with the Office of the Priests, nay made them obnoxious to an unexampled vengeance for such their presumption; so neither [Page 148] can the like pretence excuse the like encroachments on the Mini­stry of the Gospel from a proportionable heinousness.

§ XX FOR what was there that could make this Crime so piacular then, that will not proceed with proportionable evidence now? Were those Priests separated from that Holy People to a nearer relation to God, and consequently to a higher degree of this Relative Holiness? And are not ours so too? Were there dis­criminating Solemnities appointed then by God himself for con­secrating such as were admitted to that Honour? And have not we the like Solemnities? Were there Authorized Persons con­tinued in a Succession who only could pretend to an Ordinary Call from God, both to officiate themselves in these sacred Solemnities, and to admit others to a participation of the like Divine Autho­rity? And have not we so too? And where all the tokens of a peculiar Consecration of Officers, and a consequent exclusion of others from that Function who had not been so Authorized, are so extremely parallel; what is it that can make an Invasion of it less piacular and Sacrilegious now than then? Could these par­ticular Solemnities appointed for the Admission of Persons to Sa­cred Offices then, be then understood as a designed exclusion of all such Persons from them who had not been so admitted? And what disparity appears to make it otherwise now? Or was Sa­criledg more punishable then than now?

§ XXI IF the Law whereby this Invasion was forbidden had been Positive and Temporary, I confess there might have been some pretence for this. But I am sure the general sense of Religious Mankind has thought it condemnable by the general Principles of Natural Religion; and that what is so, is so eternally unlaw­ful as that it can never be otherwise under any whatsoever Positive Revealed Religion. And I know none of our Brethren themselves that deny it. They who have defended the Practice of Sacriledg have not done it on this pretence, that the Gospel admitted any Invasion of the Divine Property more than the Law; but that they conceived Gods dispensation under the Gospel to leave all things to their Original Liberty, and to reserve no peculiar Pro­perty to himself. But this pretence has been already prevented in our Case.

§ XXII OR do they think that God may not have as just a Property in Persons as in Things? Or can they think an Invasion of Things chargeable with Sacriledg if the Invasion of Sacred Offices may be [Page 149] excusable from it? This is not only contrary to the same Rules of Natural Religion as agreed in by the consent of all Civilized Religious Nations, but against the Fundamental Principles of Government which allow the Supreme Prince as peculiar a Property in the distribution of Offices as of his Lands or Tributes. Or can they believe the Invasion of Sacred Offices less criminal than that of Sacred Possessions? But however we make the comparison, it will appear to be clearly otherwise. If we make that the greater Sacriledg which is a violation of the more intrinsick unalienable Divine Property, the distribution of Offices is, by the Funda­mental Principles of Government, more unalienable from God as a Governour than that of any Possessions whatsoever. For Majesty may be preserved without private Possessions, but not without the free distribution of Offices. But if we Judg of the greatness of the Sacriledg by the value of the things invaded by it, Offices will appear much more valuable than any Possessions. For both by Offices a Dominion is gotten over Mens Persons which none will deny to be more valuable than their Possessions: and from this Dominion over their persons there arises secondarily a Do­minion over their Possessions also; which is also proportionably true in this Spiritual, as it is in Natural, Dominion. For by this Sacred power the distribution of all Spiritual Benefits is also con­sequently gained, which are truly more valuable to Men than all their worldly Possessions; and by this Sacredness of Office Men be­come intitled even to that Worldly maintenance in which God is allowed to have a real property, so that it will prove in practice impossible to rob God of one without the other.

§ XXIII OR is it Lastly, that God under the Gospel is not conceived to be so rigorous in exacting external Punctualities as under the Law? This, I confess, is a true reason why so few external Ob­servances have been imposed on us under the Gospel; but there is no reason at all, that appears to me, to urge it further, as our dissenting Brethren do, to prove that God will be less Severe, now than formerly, in exacting the performance of those few Externals which he has been pleased to require. Both the ex­cellency of the Dispensation, and the great concernment of the Churches Peace in Order to the great designs of the Gospel-Dis­pensation, and the natural influence of Government for the pre­servation of that Peace, and of Disobedience, even in things seemingly small, to the contempt of Goverment, and the Apostles [Page 150] Argument, Heb. II.3. Would rather incline us otherwise to argue, that all violations of the Gospel-Authority must expect a severer vengence than those of the Law.

§ XXIV AND if this way of Arguing from the Authority, even of the Old Testament, may not be allowed (not to prove any thing to be now a Sin by its Positive Prescriptions, but only to prove how highly Criminal a Sin is in the account of God, and how severe a Punishment Persons now guilty of it may expect, when it is otherwise proved to be a Sin by immutable and unalterable rea­sons, that it can neither cease to be a Sin, nor cease to be Criminal in such a Degree, and therefore if it were Criminal in such a Degree under the Law it must be so under the Gospel too, or if it admit of any variation of Degrees by the variation of Circum­stances (as certainly these Sins against the Law of Nature may, if not in the Kind, yet at least in Individual Instances) that all the alteration of Circumstances under the Gospel tend rather to its aggravation than its excuse) if I say this way of Arguing, even from the Old Testament, be not now admitted as conclusive under the New, it will utterly destroy all use of the Old Testa­ment as a Rule of manners to Christians. For it will, by the same way of Arguing, be easy to evade all proofs from it by pleading our present unconcernedness in it; and if its Authority be taken for nothing, not as much as for the Degree of Crimi­nalness of a Sin in the actual esteem of God, but that other ra­tional proofs must be demanded even for that from the nature of the Sin it self, it is plain that thus the Authority of the Old Testament in affairs of this nature is plainly slighted, and all is ultimately resolved into Reason independent on it, which is a Crime of which, I believe, our dissenting Brethren would be very unwilling to prove guilty.

§ XXV 9. THEREFORE the Administration of Sacraments thus depending on the Authority of those that Administer them, there are none that can lay a just claim to that Authority (now that God does not appear immediately himself to Authorize them, but leaves them to the use of Ordinary Means) but they who can shew a Succession continued in all the intermediate Ages from the Apostles themselves who were thus immediately Authorized, as no Commission can be derived from a Prince, who cannot im­mediately be consulted, but by the mediation of his Ordinary Subordinate Governours. The proof of this I shall not now insist [Page 151] on because I believe I shall have occasion to do it in my follow­ing Discourse. And as it has thus appeared that this confine­ment of the Benefits of the New Covenant to the External Solem­nities of it is very useful for confederating us into a Body Poli­tick; So

§ XXVI 2. THIS Solemnity of Promises is more likely to secure our performance of Duty than any private Resolutions or Promises whatsoever. I know indeed that in reason a Promise made with equal freedom, is as obligatory, if made in private, as if made before never so great an Assembly of Witnesses; nay that in rea­son an Assembly can so little contribute to advance our Obligation, as that it would rather weaken it (for how can He, in reason, be thought capable of being awed by Men who is not affraid to break those promises which are made to God, and wherein God is also invoked as a Witness?) Nay rather might make us distrust our having that due respect for God when we should find our Selves so much more efficaciously influenced by Men: And I know withal that only the performance of Duties on truly-rational Motives does make them strictly virtuous and rewardable. But having already premised that God does, in Covenanting with us, and more in Governing us, treat us suitably to our humours, and does accordingly bear with the Imperfections, if the Duties themselves be performed (both because the External performance of Duties, how little virtuous soever they be to the Persons performing them, yet, is of great use to the Publick, for edifying others, and for mainteining the reputation of the Government, which are the prime designs of Governours; And as, in process of time, a Custom of materially-virtuous Acts, will naturally produce, even in the Person who exerts them, a materially-vir­tuous Habit, which, when it is gotten, is easily made formally-virtuous, only by changing the design on which it was performed, which will then be also easy; And because all the design of Re­ligion is, with Beginners, to Suppose, and therefore to Indulge, these Imperfections which are naturally consequent to the Condi­tion of Man in this Life, where, not being pure Spirits, nor free from the Prejudices of our Complexions, we are not so capable of pure and naked reasonings) And that therefore it does not here concern him to make use of such Inducements as are most solidly conclusive of his purpose, so much as of such as are most likely to prevail with us ▪ how weak soever they be in themselves: [Page 152] These things, I say, being considered; my concernment at pre­sent is only to shew that the Solemnities of a Covenant, how little soever they may add to the reason of the Obligation, yet, do very considerably affect the Generality of Man-kind, as well those who have weaker, as those who have stronger, Impressions of Religion; And therefore must very considerably promote the actual performance of Duty.

§ XXVII AND to this purpose I might Appeal to the common Ex­perience of the World, whether even wicked Persons themselves, who have not arrived to such a degree of wickedness as not only to have lost all real sense of Religious Obligations, but also all sense of the reputation of seeming, at least, to be Religious (and they who are thus wicked can never be trusted on any Compacts whatsoever) do not think themselves much more Obliged by Covenants solemnly engaged on than if the same Covenants had been mutually ratifyed without these Solemnities? And the reason is almost as obvious as the Experience.

§ XXVIII FOR 1. It is certain that the efficacy of all Covenants what­soever for securing performance depends on these natural Im­pressions of Conscience which are to be supposed in Men capable of being obliged by Covenants Antecedently to them; and there­fore where these Impressions are more general, and more deeply rooted, there they must naturally produce a greater horrour against any thing contrary to them, and consequently give a greater se­curity for the performance of such Obligations. If therefore it may appear that Men have naturally a greater horror against the breach of a Covenant solemnly confirmed than if it had not been so confirmed, it will plainly follow that its Solemnity must very considerably add to the Security of its performance. Now for shewing this to be so.

§ XXIX I CONSIDER 2. That the Sense and Experience of Man­kind is the only competent proper Topick for shewing what Mo­tives they are most affected with. I do not mean only that Ex­perience which every one has of his own Inclinations and Affections, but that also which we find every one to have of all Mankind with whom he has to deal, and which he therefore supposes in his conversing with them. My meaning is, that Mankind in general are most probably affected with such Motives which every Indi­vidual in dealing with others, if indeed he think them fit to be dealt with, takes it for granted that those others, with whom he [Page 153] deals, will also be affected with them. For generally their Judgments of others is grounded on their Experience in them­selves; and therefore what they presume others to be fearful of, of that it seems they are fearful themselves, and by the same Rule, that of which every Man supposes another to be fearful, of that they feel themselves to be fearful. And what can be a more cer­tain Argument how every Man is himself affected than his own Experience?

§ XXX 3. THEREFORE that which Mankind generally sup­poses others with whom they deal most affected with, it is most probable that they are generally affected with it In­deed.

§ XXXI AND 4. The only Argument, in conversation, for shewing how every Man believes others affected, is his trust in them when they are engaged by such Motives. As therefore it is an Argu­ment that every one believes others to have a horror of breaking their Promises and Contracts, because when he has them so Ob­liged to himself in matters concerning his own Interest, he is con­fident of performance, so those Obligations which make him more confident, it is a sign that he believes them under a greater horror of violating them.

§ XXXII AND 5. The way of trying Experimentally of which Ob­ligations Men are most confident is to Observe in which they do more ultimately acquiesce. For it is plain that all Persons are not trusted upon the same Obligations, but according to the Opinion Men have of the Integrity and Resolution of the Person with whom they deal, so they desire greater, or are contented with lesser, Assurances. And it is as plain an Argument that New Obligations are desired when the former are, at least comparatively, distrusted, and that even where they are not altogether diffident of the former, yet that they are more confident of the later. So that that Obli­gation to which Men have ultimate recourse after Tryal of all others, is that of which they are most confident, and every one is by so much the more trusted by how much it approaches nearer to it. Now by this way of Tryal it is plain that many Men are trusted on their publick solemn Promises who would not be trusted on their private ones; and that not only in regard of the remedy the Persons to whom they are made may have to force them to performance by proving them (as Solemn Promises are more ca­pable of proof than private) for even such Persons are more [Page 154] trusted on their Solemn Promises as are subject to no exterior compulsion, as Princes (to whom the greatest trusts are com­mitted, and from whom it is therefore very just and reasonable to expect the sacredest Assurances) and there must be something supposed in them more likely to prevail with the Person, who made them, to performance than if they had been made without such Solemnity. And it appears also further that these Sacra­mental Solemnities are of the nature of those Obligations to which Men have their ultimate recourse in their Gradations of Trust. First they who are believed truly-Conscientious, and to have a perfect command of their own desires are trusted on their bare word. Then they, whose repute is more liable to Exception, are yet trusted if the same Promises be made before Witnesses, which kind of Promises not only they will revere who are truly-Conscientious, but as many also as are desirous to preserve the reputation of being accounted so. But even they who neither value the Conscience nor the reputation of being Just, have yet a natural horror of the mischief that may befall them by being otherwise, especially from an Invisible Being whose Knowledg cannot be avoided, nor his Power resisted, and then more espe­cially when this punishment of their Persidiousness is not only likely to befal them on account of Gods general Providence whereby he governs the World, and punishes Mens offences whether they will or no, but also on account of a voluntary con­signation of themselves to it, as it is in Oaths which are always understood to have Imprecations either expressed, or implied, in them. For the Punishment thus feared is both conceived more dreadful, when it is inflicted not only for the Injustice of non-performance, but also for the Impiety of making God a voucher of their falshoods (for Men have naturally a greater horror of Impiety than Injustice) and more inevitable, when they have thus devested themselves of an Apology by contributing to their own Punishment by their own Act. But then an Oath is thought most formidable when it is deliberate and solemn, in matters of the greatest consequence, and where the Punishment to be feared, in Case of Perjury, is therefore to be expected most severe, and where all this is performed before many Witnesses, so that the Perjurer must lose the Reputation, as well as the Truth, of being Conscientious.

[Page 155] § XXXIII THIS is the greatest Assurance Men can have, and He who cannot be trusted on these Terms is looked on as uncapable of any Trust at all, and unfit for any humane Conversation. It were easy to apply all this to our Sacramental Obligations, and to shew that all those Circumstances which can make a humane Obligation formidable do here concur: That they are in matters of the greatest importance, That the Mischief to be feared on these Breaches is most insupportable, That they are most deliberate (for Men are particularly warned to examine and try themselves before they come to them) That God is not here, as in other Oaths, concerned only as a Witness but as a Party too, and that they ought to be performed with the greatest Solemnity. This last thing especially is that for which I am now most nearly concern­ed, to shew the sense of Mankind, how much the Solemnity of these Obligations does contribute to their Efficacy; which appears plainly in this, that no Obligation whatsoever does give that Satisfaction to the Parties concerned for its performance, as when it is undertaken Solemnly. Which is a plain sign that they look on the Solemnity it self as likely to make it efficacious to Humane Nature; and therefore, by the Observations now laid down, it really is so; and therefore is very suitable to Gods purpose, thus to oblige Men to undertake their Religious Obligations in the same way which is found most effectual to secure performance, even in their Worldly concerns.

CHAP. VII. The same thing further Prosecuted.

THE CONTENTS.

2. That, at least, our partaking in the External Solemnities of this Evangelical Covenant is the only Ordinary Means where­by we may be satisfied of our Title to the Covenant it self. §. I.II. This proved by three Degrees: 1. That, for our satisfaction, it is requisite that we have positive Arguments for us, as well as that there appear no positive Arguments against us. §. III.IV.V.VI.VII. 2. That no Arguments can comfort, but such as may Externally appear, and so be capable of being Judged of by the Persons concerned. §. VIII. 3. Our partaking of the External Solemnities of the Covenant, is, at least, the only Argument appearing to Us whereby We can be assured of any Legal Title to the Benefits of it. §. IX.X.XI.XII. A further Presumption for proving the same thing. §. XIII.

§ I BUT 2. Supposing, that this partaking in the External Solemnities of the Evangelical Covenant had not been so necessary to confer a valid Legal Title to the Benefits of the Covenant; yet certainly it is necessary in Order to our Satisfaction, that we in particular have any Title to them. And this alone will be sufficient for my present design. For un­less we may be satisfied of our Interest in the Covenant, we can have no comfort of it; and it has already appeared that this Consideration alone of being better assured of Pardon and Assist­ance and Acceptance on the performance of Duty in the Commu­nion of the Church, and being better secured from the danger of miscarriage than we could have been out of it (especially when it also appears that the Ordinary Arguments of Probability are for the advantage of those who are in Communion, and all the [Page 157] Ordinary Arguments of Improbability either of Salvation, or Security from danger are applicable to them who are out of it) is sufficient in Prudence to Oblige all as they tender their own Comfort and Security to submit to all unsinful Conditions of the Churches Communion rather than want it.

§ II NOW in Order to the proof of this I desire that these three things may be considered: 1. That in Order to our Comfort and satisfaction out of the Churches Communion it is not suffi­cient that there are no Positive Arguments against us to prove us certainly liable to Damnation, but there are also requisite Positive Arguments to prove the Security of our present Con­dition; 2. That no Arguments concerning even the Security of our present Condition can comfort us but such as may Ex­ternally appear, and so be capable of being judged of by the Persons concerned; And 3. That though the thing might be true, That we might indeed have even a Legal Title to the Benefits of the Evangelical Covenant without partaking in the External Solemnities of it; yet the External Solemnities are the only Arguments whereby we can judg of our Title, and therefore that where we want them there we must at least want such Arguments as we can judg of. Of these very briefly now, because I have elsewhere discoursed something concerning them.

§ III 1. THEN, It is not sufficient for our comfort and satisfaction out of the Communion of the Church that there are no Positive Arguments to prove us certainly liable to damnatation, but there are also requisite Positive Arguments to prove the Security of our pre­sent Condition. This is plain from the common Experience of Mankind. For no man in a storm thinks it a ground of Positive comfort that there are no certain Arguments of actual Shipwrack, as long as there are also no Probabilities of escaping it. The want of such Positive contrary Arguments may indeed in reason pre­vent his perfect despair (if indeed his contrary discouragements do not make him uncapable of so very little supporting reason­ings) but cannot so much as in reason be thought a sufficient ground for any Positive comfort. At least no Prudent Person, (let his temper be never so inclinable to hope, and therefore let him be never so ready to lay hold on any Arguments for this purpose) can think this hope so valuable as to be willing to con­tinue in it if he might be relieved from it on any tolerable Condi­Conditions; [Page 158] And I have already proved that all Conditions not Sinful are to be thought Tolerable in such Circumstances.

§ IV BUT indeed we find by Experience that the predominating Argument is that which determines Mens Affections. They will therefore not fear at all if all weighty and Probable Arguments perswade their confidence, and very few and weak and inconsider­able ones discourage them. And we find withal by the same Ex­perience that this want of contrary Arguments is of all weak Arguments that which has the least influence on humane Nature. No Man thinks it a Prudent Argument of Fear in passing the Streets because he is not sure that the next Tile he passes under shall not fall on his head.

§ V AND if this Argument be not sufficient to make Men fearful when all appearing Probable Arguments make for their comfort, much less can it be thought sufficient to give them any Hope where all appearing Probable Arguments Oblige them to be Fearful. For of the two Humane Nature is naturally more inclinable to Fear than Hope (as appears from those Superstitions which have generally prevailed in most ignorant Nations, how resolute so­ever otherwise, which is not so accountable on any other Prin­ciple as this) and it is plain that the efficacy of any Arguments is to be accounted for from the prevailing inclination of him who is to be perswaded by them.

§ VI BUT besides, in our present Case, it is very considerable that the want of all Means necessary for an Escape is by all Pru­dent Persons counted a sufficient Argument to prove the imminent danger of the Person wanting them; so that this alone is sufficient to have all the influence of a Positive Argument on a Person who is concerned. For in several Cases the effect does follow as certainly and inevitably from the want of the interposition of a Cause that may hinder the present natural Course of things, as if it were proved immediately from the influence of the Causes themselves; in which Case, the present Causes not hindred do certainly determine the effect, and all the use of the Negative proof is only to shew, that they shall not actually be hindred. It is thought a certain Argument that a Man falling down [...] pre­cipice shall assuredly come to the bottome, if we be assured that nothing else shall interpose to hinder him, or if we be assured also that even those Causes, which we can apprehend as only capable of interposing, shall not actually interpose. Even in this Case we think our Selves Morally Certain of the Event.

[Page 159] § VII NOW this is the Case exactly here. Our Brethren them­selves acknowledg a sufficient Cause, not only for falling short of the rewards of the Gospel, but also for incurring the Punishment of it, if unrelieved by the favours of it, that is, Original Sin; And therefore they, above all others, are very Pathetical in ag­gravating the inevitableness of Mans l [...]ss without Christ. Thus far therefore it is as certain with them that all must actually perish for whose rescue God does not especially interpose for Christs sake, as it is certain that a stone must fall downwards, if it be not hindred and supported by the interposition of some other Cause. And seeing also that there is not any other Interposition to be ex­pected in this Case, even by our Brethrens own Principles, but that of the mercy of God through Christ, that which will take away all hopes of this Interposition, must in all reason and Pru­dence make us proportionably fearful of the Event, that is, must, at least, perfectly ruin all hopes of escaping, and conse­quently all comfort and satisfaction in our present condition. If therefore it may appear that there are no Arguments to put us in hopes that God will interpose; there can, upon these Prin­ciples, be no hope nor comfort at all, at least, not sufficient for our dissenting Brethrens purpose, to make it safe for any wise man to acquiesce in this condition when he may change it by unsinful condescensions. For indeed for that I have proved it requisite that this continuance out of the Churches Communion had been righter and safer than having it on these Terms, and therefore that the Probabilities making for it had been more, and more preg­nant than those which made against it.

§ VIII 2. THEREFORE no Arguments can comfort but such as may Externally appear, and so be capable of being judged of by the Persons concerned. This is so plain of it self, and so coin­cident with what I have already discoursed as that it cannot need many words to clear it further. For no Person can be comforted by the real goodness or safety of his condition unless he Judg it so, and none can Judg whether it be so but by reasons appearing to himself.

§ IX 3. THEREFORE, Our partaking of the External So­lemnities of the Covenant is, at least, the only Argument ap­pearing to us whereby we can be assured of any Legal Title to the Benefits of it. For, as it has already appeared, it is only by our interest in the Covenant that we can be assured of a Legal [Page 160] Title to the Promises on Gods part; And a Covenant as Obliga­tory in a Legal way does necessarily imply such a Legal Notoreity as that both Parties may be mutually assured of the others Obli­gation. For as in Covenants neither of the Parties singly would engage but on consideration of the Conditions to be performed by the other; so it is not to be presumed in Equity that either of them would ingage without assurance of performance on the other Party, or give any further Assurance of their own performance than they receive from the Party with whom they contract. Now the reason why both Parties are willing to submit to Legal Obligations is only for this mutual Security of performance of what both Parties were Antecedently willing to contract for, and the farther use of making this Contract Legal is, that, by some common means of Communication, each of them may be as well secured of the performance of the Party with whom he deals as that Party is secured of his own performance. And if a Contract were made more secure on the one side than on the other (how Legal soever it might be in regard of Men who can only proceed on generally-fallible Presumptions, yet,) it is not Equal, nor consequently obligatory, in the sense in which we now understand Legal Obligations when we speak of such as are betwixt God and Man; because it is not agreeable with the pre­sumable design of the Contracter, which is all that any can in Equity be obliged to; unless we make the Law a snare to oblige Men beyond their own intentions, which is not agreeable to the nature of voluntary Contracts, such as Covenants are understood to be.

§ X AND by these same Principles it appears that God as Cove­nanting with us must give us the same Security of performance on his part as he receives from us of ours by virtue of the Legal Solemnities whereby the Covenant is managed; And till he does so, and that we have reason to be satisfied that he has done so, the Covenant cannot be said to have been compleated, because this is indeed the tacite Condition on which it was made, and on which it was intended to be ratified, and therefore till this be done it cannot be supposed to have received a final and compleat ratification on both sides, nor consequently to be Obligatory Le­gally.

§ XI AND as this Legal Notoreity of each others Obligation mu­tually is thus necessary to the Equity and Validity of the Obli­gation, [Page 161] so indeed the Ordinary Solemnities of entring into these compacts are the only Instruments of this Legal Notoreity; so that indeed that cannot be presumed to be Legally Notorious which is not transacted with these Solemnities, and therefore, not being Legally Notorious, cannot, on the Principles now mentioned, infer a Legal Obligation. Especially considering that God is pleased herein to condescend to deal with Men according to their own customes and capacities. And therefore having erected a Visible Body Politick, and placed Visible Vice-gerents to act in his name, and appointed Visible Seals, and withal having removed himself from our Ordinary access and consultation; It is very reasonable to believe that it was his design that we should judg of his proceedings the same way as we do of those of other Princes, that having appointed Visible Means of pro­mulging their pleasures they would not have that taken for their will which is not so promulged according to the Method and Rules which themselves had appointed for it. Now this is the Ordinary method observed by such Princes in their promulgations that all their Acts must be promulged by their inferior Officers to whom we may be capable of having an immediate access, and that they be Sealed with their Seal, and that nothing which is not thus attested should be presumed to be the Act of the Su­preme Magistrate, seeing that the very constitution of such a Method of proceeding was purposely designed to let Subjects know the true Acts of such Princes from Counterfeits. And therefore God having made the same External provisions of Visible Officers to represent him, and Visible Seals to confirm what is Covenanted for in his Name, it is the same way to be presumed that he would not have any Covenant trusted to as his which is not thus managed and sealed by his Visible Represen­tatives.

§ XII THIS, for my part, is a very considerable Motive to incline Me to believe that those general Preachings of Pardon and Sal­vation upon the Conditions of Faith and Repentance which the Ministers are Obliged to declare in Gods name to all Men, even Antecedently to their actual initiation into the Church, were never intended for immediate Covenants with them upon performance of those Conditions, but only as preliminary in­vitations to dispose themselves for an actual Reception into his Covenant by qualifying themselves by these Conditions of Re­ception. [Page 162] I say, it seems to me a very just reason to believe that those general Invitations are no Covenants, because they are never Sealed in general, but only then when Persons so quali­fyed are actually Admitted, which had indeed been needless if it had been general on Gods part, Obliging him to every par­ticular, only on the performance of those Moral Conditions, without any further Act of God for the consummating his Ob­ligation in a Form of Law. But whether there may be Obli­gations, or not, Antecedently to Sealing, I am not at present concerned. This, at least, seems clear that Seals are designed as Instruments of Notoreity, and therefore that no Obligation can be Authentical, that is, such as may assure us of its validity, without them. This I have already proved sufficient for my purpose, and shall not need any more to repeat the Arguments whereby I have proved it to be so.

§ XIII BESIDES there lies this futher Presumption in our Case, that though it had been graunted to have been possible for God to have made his Promises immediately to the Moral Duties of Faith and Repentance; Yet our dissenting Brethren can never prove it necessary that he must have done so. And if this be not Necessary, the contrary may be also possible. Which will suffice for shewing the much greater Security these Moral Duties have of a Title to the Promises if accompanied with these Solem­nities than if they be separated from them. All who say that Faith and Repentance alone have a Title to these Divine Promises cannot doubt but that they still retain the same Title when they are practiced in the Church's Communion as when they are practiced out of it. But the very Possibility of the saylour of their Title as considered separately is enough to show how much more secure it is to practice them in the Church's Communion. But considering withal the reasons now given why these Moral Duties alone should not have that Title on the constitution of these Solemnities which they might have expected otherwise; this must considerably add to that Security. And this greater Security has been proved sufficient for our purpose, to shew how our Brethren are Obliged rather to Submit to all Ʋnsinful Impo­sitions than lose, even these Solemnities, on which this greater Security has thus appeared to dep [...]nd.

CHAP. VIII. The same thing further Prosecuted▪

THE CONTENTS.

3. The participation in these External Solemnities, with any Legal Validity, is only to be had in the External Communion of the Visible Church. §. I. The Church as taken for the Body of the Elect uncapable of being Communicated with Externally. §. II.III. That all things here contrived are exactly fitted for a Visible Church, and no other. §. IV.V.

§ I 3. THEREFORE the participation in these Exter­nal Solemnities, with any Legal Validity, is only to be had in the External Communion of the Visible Church. And it is only this Legal Validity that can signify any thing to the comfort of the Persons concerned. For if they be performed without Legal Validity they can Ob­lige God to nothing, neither to pardon past Sins, nor to give Grace for better performance, nor to acceptance upon imperfect per­formance, nor a Title to a Supernatural reward. And he who cannot Judg himself to have a Title to these, nay not, a Legal Title to them, cannot have reason to think his Spiritual Condi­tion very comfortable. Now that these External Solemnities are not to be had in the Church in that notion of it as it is made Invisible, which our dissenting Brethren make use of to over­throw all Ecclesiastical Government and Subjection, and indeed the intire Notion of its being a Body Politick, is very plain. For they are not pretended to have any External Solemnities of confederation among themselves, as well as with God, but those wherein all Visible Professors. Hypocrites as well as others, communicate with them, and therefore by which they are not distinguishable from others. Nay, that these External Solem­nities do not concern them as Elect, is not only clear thence, that others who are not Elect communicate in them as well as these [Page 164] who are; but also that many who are Elect want them, as they who are not yet called, and they who are Excommunicated clave [...]rrante, nay and all they who live where Communion cannot be had, so that with them no Communion is mainteined even in the participation of the External Symbols themselves.

§ II AND indeed how is it possible to maintein any Visible Com­munion with them who are not themselves visible? Gods secret Decrees are known to none. They may indeed be known by the effects and influences of Gods secret Communication with the Spirits of those who are concerned, if our dissenting Brethren may be believed; so that the Argument may hold good, according to them, that they who feel those influences may conclude them­selves to be Elected. Yet will it not hold even in all Elect Persons themselves. Not only they who are not as yet called may never­theless be Elected; but also all they who are called, but are not yet arrived to that singular degree of proficiency in Religion as to feel these Evidences, may notwithstanding not be able as yet to know as much as their own Election, even according to our dissenting Brethrens own Principles▪

§ III BUT however it is certain that no Man can be assured of anothers Election. And seeing the Persons themselves are thus incapable of being distinguished from others; Seeing at least there are no visible distinctives of any Society of them; how is it possible to maintein any visible Communion with them by visi­ble Solemnities? The Elect may indeed be capable of main­teining a Communion with God, because they know him, and are known by him, without any visible Societies; but, for want of these necessary conditions of Communication, they can never constitute any Society nor maintein any Communication with each other. And therefore if this be the Church to which our dis­senting Brethren would pay the respect due to the Church, all our Sacraments must be perfectly insignificant, which seem plainly designed not only, nor principally, to maintein a visible Commu­nication with God, but with each other.

§ IV SEEING therefore that this Legal validity depends on the due administration of these External Solemnities by which they may be believed Obligatory of God by the same Rules of Legal Equity whereby they would be Obligatory of Men; And seeing that this is the only way among Men to infer an Obligation on Persons not immediately appearing in their own Persons ▪ (as God [Page 165] does not in Covenanting with Ʋs) that it may appear that the Persons acting in their behalf be indeed impowered by them to act in their Names, and to pass such Acts into Legal Forms by solemn sealing them; this must also be conceived requisite to Gods Obligation as it may be valid in Law, and as it may be capable of appearing to Ʋs. And therefore▪ his Covenant is Transacted with Ʋs by Ministers dealing with us immediately, and who must make out their Authority to Act and Administer the Seals in his Name; the same way as Legal Procurators do, by their Deputation from them who were Originally con­cerned.

§ V NOW all the things on which this Tryal depends are visible, the Covenant it self, the Seals, the Ministers, their Call by Authorized Persons; and therefore are uncapable of being Tran­sacted any where but in a visible Church and an External Com­munion. And it is further Observable that this way of pro­ceeding will resolve the ultimate Tryal of the validity of these Solemnities into the Authority of the Persons administring them, which will more directly prove that the visible Church here sup­posed must also be a Body Politick. And this may suffice at pre­sent for proof of this second thing necessary for the Justification of this Proposition. That the Ordinary Means of Salvation are confined to the External Communion of the visible Church.

CHAP. IX. That the Grace, to be expected in hearing the Word Preached, is not sufficient for Salvation without the Sacraments.

THE CONTENTS.

11. That, in reference to the Duty of particular Persons, the visible Church, wherein they may expect to find these Or­dinary Means, is the Episcopal in opposition to all other So­cieties not Episcopally governed; and particularly that Epis­copal Communion under whose Jurisdiction the Persons are supposed to live. §. I. 1. The Episcopal Communion in opposition to all other Societies not Episcopally governed is that visible Church to whose External Communion these Or­dinary Means of Grace are confined. This proved by several degrees. §. II. 1. The Ordinary Means of Grace are now confined to the Sacraments. Two things premised. The for­mer. §. III.IV. The later. §. V. The thing to be pro­ved. §. VI. Proved two ways. 1. Exclusively, of other Means of gaining that Grace which is necessary to Salvation besides the Sacrament. §. VII.VIII. 1. Of the Word Preached. Some things Premised. §. IX.X.XI.XII. 1. Much of the Grace conveyed by the Word Preached in the Primitive times was undoubtedly proper to those times, and not fit to be expected now. §. XIII.XIV.XV. 2. There were reasons proper to those times why such Grace might be expected then, which will not hold now, for the conviction of the Persons who then received the Spirit. §. XVI. 3. There were also other proper Reasons necessary for the con­viction of those with whom they had to deal. §. XVII. 4. That Grace which might otherwise have been expected in attending on the Word Preached, is yet not so probably to be expected in the Preaching of Persons Ʋnauthorized, especially [Page 167] if they Preach in opposition to them who are Legally invested with Spiritual Authority. §. XVIII.XIX. 5. It is yet farther doubtful, whether the Grace, which may now be Ordinarily expected at any Preaching whatsoever▪ be so great as to be able to supply the want of the Sacraments at least, so great as to secure the Salvation of those who enjoy this Ordinance whilest they want the Sacraments? §. XX.XXI. 6. It is also very doubtful, whether all the Grace which is supposed to accompany the Word Preached be any more than what is necessary to dispose the Auditors to receive and believe the Truth of the Doctrines Preached to them? Or whether there be any the least ground to believe that they shall there receive that further Assistance which is necessary to help them to Practice what they have thus received and believed. §. XXII.XXIII.XXIV. 7. This first Grace of Perswasion, if we suppose it alone to accompany the Word Preached, will fully answer the design of the Word Preached. §. XXV. 8. The Grace here received seems to be only some actual In­fluences of the Spirit, (which wicked men may receive whilest they continue so, and which therefore cannot alone be thought sufficient for Salvation) not the Person of the Divine Spirit himself. §. XXVI.

§ I I PROCEED therefore to the second Particular requisite for bringing this Proposition home to my present design, viz. That, in reference to the Duty of particular Persons, that visible Church wherein they may expect to find these Or­dinary Means is the Episcopal in opposition to all other Societies not Episcopally governed; and particularly that Episcopal Communion under whose Jurisdiction▪ the Persons are supposed to live. This will also consist of 2. Parts fit to be considered distinctly: 1. That the Episcopal Communion▪ in opposition to all other So­cieties not Episcopally governed, is that visible Church to whose External Communion th [...]se Ordinary Means of Grace are con­fined; And 2. That, in respect to particular Persons▪ that Epis­copal Communion under which the Persons live is that parti­cular Episcopal Communion to which these Ordinary Means of Salvation are confined in the Case of these particular Per­sons.

[Page 168] § II 1. THEN, The Episcopal Communion, in opposition to all other Societies not Episcopally governed, is that visible Church to whose External Communion these Ordinary Means of Grace are confined. This I shall endeavour to prove by these degrees: 1. That the Ordinary Means of Grace are now confined to the Sacra­ments; 2. That the validity of these Sacraments depend upon the Authority of the Persons by whom they are administred; 3. That no other Ministers have this lawful Authority but only they of the Episcopal Communion.

§ III 1. The Ordinary Means of Grace are now confined to the Sa­craments. Before I prove this, it will be necessary that some things be premised. 1. Therefore I am not now considering the Sacraments as they are Ceremonies of initiation into the Evan­gelical Covenant, or of continuing in it; but as to the particular Benefits for which they are designed. In the former regard I have considered them already. And in that Notion there can be no doubt but that all the Benefits of this Covenant will be con­cerned in them. For as they who have no Title to the Covenant it self can pretend no Title to any of the Benefits of the Cove­nant, so they who are not validly initiated into it, or continued in it by the External Solemnities appointed for that purpose, cannot have a Legal Interest in the Covenant it self. So that by this way of proceeding the Negative way of arguing is best secured, "That they who do not partake of the Sacraments as External Solemnities of transacting this Covenant can have no Legal Title to forgiveness of Sins, or the Holy Spirit, or any Supernatural rewards, or any other such Benefits which God is obliged to do for us only by virtue of his Covenant. But though this alone be very sufficient for my purpose, yet that it may ap­pear how exactly our general Hypothesis suits with the nature of the Sacraments themselves; I shall here endeavour to shew that the loss to be susteined by the deprivation of the Sacraments, I mean, the loss of those Graces which the Sacraments Convey, as well as signify, to us by virtue of their Divine Institution, is indeed as great as that of the loss of a Legal Interest in the Covenant it self, at least incomparably too great to be hazarded for want of any condescension that is not Sinful. So that al­though we should not consider the Sacraments as Solemnities of investing us into a Legal Right to the Covenant, but only with relation to those Graces for whose conveyance they were [Page 169] immediately instituted and designed, yet even these are so con­siderable as to oblige us to depend on them who are alone in­vested with the power of administring them. And certainly the least prejudice that can be thought to be susteined by them who want the Sacramental Symbols rather than they will purchase them by unsinful condescensions, must be at least the loss of those Graces for whose conveyance they were purposely designed by God as the only Ordinary Means by which Men might expect them. Especially when the voluntariness of such a want is as well a crime as a neglect, and therefore must so justly cut them off from all hopes of relief by Extraordinaries.

§ IV NOR is this suitableness of this Hypothesis with the nature of the Sacraments, and the great Probability which will thence follow, that both of them must be true when they are found thus exactly to agree, the only reason why I am willing to add this proof from the particular nature of the Sacraments themselves to that general consideration of them as Seals of the New Cove­nant. The truth is I am unwilling to lay the stress of my present design upon a form of speaking so new, and so liable at least to Dispute, as that of the Sacraments being Seals of the New Covenant. I am not so cautious, as if I doubted whether this were true, at least concerning Baptism, that that is indeed a Seal of the New Covenent; but because I had rather, where I can have choice, insist on Principles least liable to contradiction. Nor yet could I think it altogether fit to wave that Argument, both because it is so very apposite for our purpose, and so easily granted by our Adversaries, and so more likely to prevail with them than Arguments less questionable in themselves; and be­cause I think so much of it really solid as is necessary for our pur­pose. Valid Baptism being only to be had from the regularly-Ordeined Clergy is a great Obligation to a dependence on them. And if we only wave the word Seal we may take in the other Sacrament also under the general term of the Solemnities whereby the Evangelical Covenant is transacted and mainteined. Which as it is equally subservient to our purpose, so I have rather chosen to make use of it because I conceive it really more justi­fiable.

§ V A SECOND thing to be premised is this, That it is one thing to say that the Sacraments are Ordinary Means of Grace, and another to say, that the Ordinary Means of Grace are con­fined [Page 170] to the Sacraments. By the former no more is implied but that worthy Communicants do, in the use of these Sacraments, partake of this Grace, which may be very true though God had appointed other Ordinary Means by which the same Graces might be obteined by them who cannot have the Sacraments. But if this were the Case, the Negative Argument (for which we are alone concerned at present) would not hold, that they who want the Sacraments must, even in this ordinary way of proceeding, be presumed to want the Sacramental Graces also. For they who want one Ordinary Means may still make use of another for obteining the same thing, where there is acknow­ledged a variety; and even in this Case they might have comfort and confidence without the desperate recourse to Extraordinaries. My design therefore being to shew that they must want the Sa­cramental Graces who want the Sacraments themselves upon the terms now mentioned, this later thing must be that which I am principally obliged to prove. I confess there are many Errors current among our Brethren concerning the virtue even of Sa­craments in general, especially where they think themselves ob­liged rather to contradict than to lay down any thing positive. And I withal confess that they are their Errors of this kind which have rendred the true Notion of the Sin of SCHISM so very difficult to them. Nor can it be thought strange that their Practice of Schism should unawares betray them into Errors on a Subject whose right understanding would go so far to recover them out of Schism, and to let them see its mischief as well as its Sinful­ness. And though I think we have as great advantage against them on this Topick as on any; and that their Notions herein are so clearly contrary to the sense of Catholick Tradition and Antiquity, and so destructive to the true nature of Sacraments, as that they come the nearest, of any Paradoxes mainteined by them, to their being Fundamental Errors; yet that I may confine my present design within as narrow limits as can be allowed for dispatching it with accurateness and solidity, I shall at present consider this virtue of the Sacraments no further than as it shall fall in with my design of proving that the Ordinary Means of Grace are confined to them.

§ VI NOW even this confinement has appeared from the Prin­ciples laid down in the former Chapters. For as it is certain that the Covenant of God with us is the only Ordinary Means [Page 171] whereby we may be assured of Salvation; so it is withal as cer­tain that our participation in the External Solemnities whereby this Covenant is transacted is the only Ordinary Means whereby we may be assured of our Interest in the Covenant; and that God has neither instituted, nor is pretended by our Brethren themselves to have instituted, any other External Solemnities of transacting this Covenant besides the Sacraments. But be­cause I am now considering the Sacraments under another No­tion, not as Solemnities of transacting the Covenant, but in relation to those Graces for the communication whereof they were particularly designed and instituted by God himself, that which I am at present concerned to prove will be, that the Graces hereby conveyed are such as that, without them, Salvation cannot ordinarily be expected; and withal that they are such as that God has instituted no other ordinary way of giving them besides the Sacraments. Both these I shall endeavour to prove together as I have already exprest them in the Proposition.

§ VII THIS I shall endeavour from two Topicks: 1. By exclu­ding the other Ordinary Means of gaining that Grace which is requisite either for Salvation it self, or, at least, for our Assu­rance of it besides the Sacraments; And 2. By shewing direct­ly that the Grace conferred in the Sacraments is of such a nature as to suppose the Persons to whom it has not yet been given in an unsalvable Condition. From the former it will principally appear that the Grace is not otherwise to be expected Ordinarily than by the Sacraments: From the later, That this Grace is such as that Salvation cannot Ordinarily be expected without it.

§ VIII 1. THEREFORE I shall endeavour to disprove those other Ordinary Means which are, or may be, pretended to, by them who are out of the Communion of the Church. And they are especi­ally two: either the hearing of the Word Preached, or private Prayer. The former will, at least, so far serve our purpose as to oblige Men to depend on some Assemblies, and consequently on the power of those who alone enjoy the power of calling such Assemblies, or at least to depend on the Preachers. But the later is such as, if it be allowed to be an Ordinary Means of obtein­ing that Grace which is necessary for Salvation, will excuse Men not only from all Sacraments, but from all Assemblies too, and will allow a liberty to those who joyn with no Party at all on pre­tence [Page 172] of the sufficiency of their Closet-Devotions. Which is a thing I am therefore the more willing to warn them of, that none may venture to defend this later way till they have first consider­ed how they can give an account of this dangerous Consequence of it. And the same Inconvenience will much more concern them who conceive the Moral Duties of Faith and Repentance to be sufficient for obteining this Evangelical Grace which is ne­cessary for our Salvation. But of this Opinion I shall say no more now, both because I have considered it already, and be­cause it must necessarily fall, if I suceed in my present under­taking.

§ IX THE first Ordinary Means therefore pretended for obteining the Grace of the Gospel, independently on the Sacraments is the Word. But before I oppose this, I shall first lay down some Cautions, from which it may appear how far I am indeed con­cerned to oppose it. 1. Therefore if by the Word be understood the subsistent Word, whether the fontal [...] in Christ himself, or the derivative as the Spirit which is given to us upon our be­coming Christians, in regard whereof Christ himself is said to be Gal. iv.19. formed in us, 2 Cor. iv.10. Col. iii.4. St. Joh. xiv.6. 1 Joh. i.1.2. to live in us, to be Gal. ii.20. crucifyed and Rom. vi.4. Col. ii.10. buried in us; and We are said on account of this living Spirit, which we receive from him, to 1 Cor. xv.49. Comp. wiith Ver. 45. bear his Image as by our Ib. 1 Cor. xv.45.49. Souls we bear the Image of Adam: I then conceive my self so far from being concerned to deny that, by this Word, we re­ceive all the Graces of the Gospel, as that indeed it is from hence that I infer the necessity of Sacraments as the only Ordi­nary Means of partaking of the Word in this sense. And yet it is very much to be suspected that some of the places, produced by our Adversaries for proving the efficacy of the Word, are only to be understood of the Word in this sense. So in 1 Pet. 1.23. Where we are said to be born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God which lives and abides for ever. The abiding for ever here is not so naturally intelligible of the permanency of the Decrees of God, as Ps. cxix.89. elsewhere this Phrase is used, as of the [...] within us. For the Argu­ment here produced is to prove the permanency of our new life to which we are here born, that that should also endure for ever, because it is the fruit of this incorruptible seed. But for that it had not been so proper to argue the incorruptibleness of the effects of the Divine Decrees; because the same Decrees which [Page 173] are the reasons why some things are incorruptible, are also the reason why others are corruptible. But the subsistent [...] is a very proper Argument for concluding the incorruptibleness of those things which partake of it. In this sense Life is an usual Epithete of this Word. And from our partaking of this quick­ening Spirit, the Apostle concludes the necessity of our immor­tality and resurrection. 1 Cor. xv. The only difficulty is that the [...] here spoken of is called [...], Ver. 25. And yet if St. [...]. Justin Martyr understood the [...] in the Orphaicks of this subsistent [...], it must seem less strange in the Hebrew Idiom, according to which it is so very ordinary to put Words for Things, None can doubt but that the Hebrew [...] is as properly rendred by [...] in the Greek as by [...]. And the same way also it may probably be understood in St. James 1.18. Where our [...] by the Word of Truth is opposed to the birth whereby Concupi­scence is said to bring forth Sin, and the [...] whereby Sin when it is consummated brings forth Death. Ver. 15. But this is not so likely to be understood either of the Doctrines of Con­cupiscence, or Sin, as of the things themselves. And therefore it will be also much more suitable to understand our Regeneration by the Word rather of that Subsistent Being which is so called in the ordinary language of those times, than of the Doctrine of the Gospel.

§ X 2. IF by the Word be meant either the Things or Doctrines discovered to us by the Revelations of the Gospel, it will not be the least inconsistent with my design to grant that all the requi­sites of Salvation may be ascribed to it. For in this sense it may include the Sacraments themselves. And in this general inde­finite way of Speaking, that is very properly ascribed to the whole which is performed by any one particular conteined under it, as the whole Man is said to speak though it be only his Tongue which properly performs that office. And yet of the Word in this sense several of those passages will be found to be understood which are produced by our Adversaries for proving this efficacy of the Word Preached. Not of the Preaching of the Doctrines and Institutions of the Gospel in opposition to the other ways of administring them (which is the only thing for which they are concerned in this Dispute) but of the whole complexion of Do­ctrines and Institutions Preached by the Gospel, in opposition to [Page 174] those preached by the Law, or by any other Dispensation which might then pretend to rival it in being a Rule for Manners, and a Guide to Happiness. This plainly seems to have been meant by St. Paul, when he asks his Galatians, whether they had re­ceived the Spirit by the Works of the Law, Gal. iii.2. or by the hearing of Faith? Where the hearing of Faith not being opposed to re­ceiving the Sacraments, but to the Works of the Law, may plainly take in the whole Gospel-Dispensation in opposition to the Legal.

§ XI NOR 3. Am I concerned to take notice of those Texts which ascribe the Benefits of the Gospel to other causes than the Sacraments, so long as those Causes are not pretended to apply them immediately to particular Persons. What if St. Mat. xxvi.28. Remission of Sins be purchased by the bloud of Christ? What if we be 1 Pet. i.3. begotten to a lively hope by his Resurrection? What if the Act. ii.31.33. giving of the Spirit be ascribed to it? What if we are said to Rom. vi.5.8, 10, 11. die to Sin by his Death, to be Gal. ii.20. crucified together with him, to Col. ii.12. iii.1. rise with him, and to be Rom. viii.17. 2 Thes. i.10. glorified with him? My interest does not oblige me to pretend that Sacraments could do these things for us as principal Causes, neither by any power of their own, nor by any which they may derive from his Institu­tion. It is abundantly sufficient for my purpose that these are the only Ordinary Means by which we come to have an Interest in Christ himself, which will consequently give us a Title to all his other Graces, what means soever he have used to purchase them for us. It is sufficient that by these we are immediately initiated and continued in Covenant with him, by virtue whereof we have a Title to his Promises on what account soever he was pleased to make them, or his Father to confirm them. It is sufficient that by these we are united to Christ, and become one Legal Person with him, by which means it comes to pass that what has been done or suffered by him is as much ours as if we had done and suffered it our selves. It is sufficient that these are the only Ordinary Means by which he has promised to commu­nicate, and where we can therefore only be confident to receive, them. These things, if true, will oblige all to a dependence on the Sacraments. And none of these are any way disproved in any of these passages of Scripture.

§ XIII NOR 4. Am I concerned to take notice of all those places which ascribe an efficacy, not only to the things Preached in the [Page 175] Gospel, but even to the Preaching it self. The design of those places being plainly to assert such an efficacy in the Ordinance of Preaching as that they who enjoy this, may enjoy Grace sufficient for their Salvation, though they want the Sacraments, and that it may communicate Grace sufficient for the Salvation of such Persons who have no other Means to trust to, who are in our Brethrens Circumstances; this will abundantly suffice for my present design, to shew our Brethrens Obligation to depend on the Sacraments. Now that they may understand how little en­couragement they can have so to depend on the Grace commu­nicated by the Word Preached, as to neglect any Moral dili­gence, or to refuse any unsinful condescension, requisite for ob­teining the External Sacraments; I shall intreat them seriously to consider;

1. HOW much of that Grace, which accompanyed the Preach­ing of the Word in those first beginnings of the Gospel of which the Scripture History gives us an account, was extraordinary, and proper to those times and Persons? And how much was Ordinary, and fit to be expected now as well as then? It is most certain that the Grace which then accompanied this Ordinance was incomparably greater then than what is ordinary now. Our Saviour St. Joh. vii.46. spake as never man spake, and the transport and courage of the Apostles was Act. iv.13. admired even by their Enemies themselves who had known their Education. And Ver. 33. with great power they gave witness to the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. And the Word of God is observed then to have Act. xix.20. grown mightily and prevailed, and thousands Act. ii.41. iv.4. are said to have been converted at one Sermon, and obdurate and obstinate Persons were on a sudden, and frequently, changed, and changed in the Orig. c. cels. L. I.21, 50. L. II.78, 85, 110. L. III.128, 150. Lactant. L. III.26. Cy­prian. Ep. ad Donat. habitual inclinations of their Wills as well as in the conviction of their Judgments. And must we therefore ex­pect the like things now? I am sure we do not find them so. Nay the Apostle appeals to this efficacy of his Preaching as a sign of his Apostleship, and makes his Auditors who had been so mightily influenced by him the 1 Cor. ix.2. Seal of his Apostleship, when he was to assert the dignity of his Apostolical Office in opposition to the false Apostles, a plain sign that then the pow­er of an Apostle was incomparably greater than that of ordi­nary Preachers.

[Page 176] § XIV AND indeed they had many visible advantages for moving their Auditors then which our present Preachers cannot pretend to: The external gifts of Miracles; their Personal [...], with some of which the Preachers of that Age seem to have been generally indued, but the Apostles more than others; that zeal and courage and confidence which must needs have made their de­livery very pathetical; the fitness of their expressions to their Auditors Cases, when those expressions were none of their own, but inspired on the St. Mat. x.19. particular occasion; that particular gift of 1 Cor. xii.10. discerning their Auditors Spirits, whereby they were forced to confess that 1 Cor. xiv.25. God was in them of a truth. Not to mention their unwearied Zeal, the great toils and dangers they endured in the employment, the shame, and contempt, as well as the other inconveniences attending it, which must needs pos­sess their Auditors with very favourable thoughts of their Persons, of their Sincerity and freedom from sinister designs, and their hearty good will to them, whatever they might think of the Pru­dence of their undertaking. And if it was only this Extraordi­nary degree of Grace that was then sufficient for the Salvation of the Persons influenced by it, that will certainly be no Precedent for what Men may Ordinarily expect now. And where so much was undoubtedly extraordinary, it will be very difficult to distinguish what was not so. At least this will be impossible to be known from the bare Historical Records of these times, wherein so many things in this very Case were extraordinary, which will, at least, suffice to shew how unconcluding such Texts as these are must prove for our Adversaries purpose, without either express Pro­mises assuring us of their actual continuance, or immutable rea­sons from the nature of the things: Which will confine their Proofs within a narrow compass.

§ XV AND this will the rather appear, if it be considered further, that according to the Notions of that Age and Nation, wherein the Gospel was first Preached, whoever had the Spirit of God was thereby thought immediately to be made a Prophet. On this account Abraham is called a Gen: xx.7. Prophet; and the Jews, as they pretended all of them, and they alone, to have this Spirit, so they do on that same account pretend to be a Nation Cozri Part I. S. 95.103, 109. of Prophets. Nor are they only the modern Jews alone who make this challenge; their Ancestors did the same. So the Author of the Book of Wisdom, among other effects of this heavenly [Page 177] Wisdom which with him is the same with the Divine Spirit, reckons this that it Wisd. vii.27. enters into holy Souls making them Sons of God, and Prophets. And it is very probable that the Christians, who challenged to themselves all the Priviledges of Israel, as be­ing themselves that true Spiritual Israel for whom God princi­pally designed these favours, did accordingly challenge this Pri­viledg among the rest, that they received not the Spirit by the works of the Law, but by the hearing of Faith, Gal. iii.5. and that this Spi­rit, which they thus received by means of their Christian Profes­sion, made them Prophets, according to the passage in Joel ii.28. Joel thus applyed Acts ii.16, 18. by them. And though the generality of Converts, then, being Heathens, had not been favourable to Jewish Noti­ons, but those of the then prevailing Gentile Philosophy; yet even so they had been inclinable to take this Divine Spirit for a Principle of Prophecy. Every extraordinary Person was, by them, thought inhabited and influenced by a God, to be capa­ble of conversing with Spirits when thoroughly purged from matter, to be conscious of the Divine Secrets, to have a The­urgical power. And what greater thing can be ascribed to true Prophets than these things, especially when put together? And it is observable that all the Language and Notions of Mysti­cal Theology are borrowed from them, which do plainly suppose that these Influences of the Spirit are Extraordinary and Prophe­tical in all Souls capable of receiving them. And to this the Apostle seems to allude when he challenges, in the name of all Christians, to know 1 Cor. ii.16. the mind of Christ, and when, from the nature of the Spirit, he concludes the Spiritual man must know the Ib. v. 10, 11. hidden things of God, because the Spirit of God with which he is endued, is privy to them as naturally as the Spi­rit of every Man is privy to his own Secrets. This discovery of the Divine Secrets is that which most properly belongs to the of­fice of a Prophet. So God is said to teach David the Ps. LI.6. [...], and Ps. xxv.14. the Secret of the Lord is said to be with them that fear him. And this is a thing to which I suppose our Bre­thren will not so much as pretend.

§ XVI ESPECIALLY considering 2. that there were some rea­sons why Persons in that Age should feel extraordinary emotions up­on their hearing the Christian Doctrine preached to them, which were certainly proper to that Age, and cannot now be urged with any proportionable parity. This was then to be made a proof of the [Page 178] Truth of that Religion whose proposal was seconded with such preternatural transports. This was a proof of our Saviours ve­racity when they found the event so answerable to his Promises and Praedictions. This proved him indeed to have a power over the Souls of Men, and to have the disposal of those hidden influ­ences of the other world when they found themselves so unaccount­ably animated and transported beyond what could have been ex­pected from the rational evidence of the things themselves. And therefore the Spirit thus given is said to be the Eph. I.13. IV.30. seal of God, the Rom. VIII.23. first fruits of their new inheritance, the 2 Cor. I.22, V.5. earnest of their promised future possessions, a Eph. I.14. Rom. VIII.16. witness of God to the Spirits of them who had it that they were the Children of God. And St. John tells them of this witness 1 St. John V.10. of God within them, this Ʋnction 1 St. John II.20, 27. that should teach them all things, and particu­larly to distinguish between pretenders to the 1 St. John IV.1, 2, 3. Spirit, whe­ther their pretences were true or false? And 1 St. John IV.13. hereby they might know whether they dwelt in Christ, or Christ in them, because he had given them of his Spirit. By which it appears that their having the Spirit was more notorious to them who had him than their Interest in Christ. And accordingly the state of the new Covenant, as it was then in the Apostles times, is so described that God would Joel II.28, 29. Acts II.17, 18. pour out of his Spirit on all flesh, that all should see visions and dream dreams; that I. LIV.13. all should be taught of God, and so taught as that they should need Heb. V.10, 11. no other In­structors; that the word of God should dwell Col. III.16. plentifully in them, in their Deut. xxx.14. Rom. x.8. mouths, and in their hearts; that even Tongues themselves should be no argument to them who 1 Cor. XIV.22. believed, but only to them who did not yet believe. All which things do cer­tainly imply that they who then had the Spirit could certainly know they had it, and make an argument of it to prove the Do­ctrines and Spirits of others, and much more in themselves. And accordingly wherever this Spirit was given it seems generally to have discovered it self by some sensible indications in the [...] by which others were able to discern it as well as he who had it. Therefore our Saviour promises that miraculous signs should ge­nerally follow them which should S. Mark. XVI.17, 18. believe; and it was by these sensible signs that Simon Acts VIII.18. Magus, though a professed enemy of the Apostles, was notwithstanding convinced that the Spirit was given by the Imposition of the Apostles hands, and this by their Imposition of hands on the generality of those who had [Page 179] been baptized by St. Philip, that we may not suspect that their Case was then thought extraordinary. And St. Paul speaking of the [...], tells us that though they were distributed different­ly, yet that all had some. And this seems to have been con­tinued till the Religion was sufficiently propagated, even to St. Cyprian and Lactantius's times. So far baptized Christians felt that strange and suddain change in themselves which they could not sufficiently admire, and could never have believed if they had not felt it. And particularly ordinary baptized Christi­ans found themselves to have a power over Devils to torment and vex them, and to force them to quit their Oracles, and to con­fess themselves to be seducing Spirits. Now as these sensible in­dications to the Persons themselves are, by the confession of all Parties, long since ceased, so also this reason is ceased of the in­fluences themselves, that the Persons who now receive the Spirit do not expect any new conviction of the truth of the Religion by which they receive it, but confess themselves abundantly satisfied with those Credentials which were exhibited at its first publicati­on. But it is also further considerable that besides these reasons for the conviction of the Persons receiving the Spirit in those Ages,

§ XVII THERE were also (3.) others necessary for the conviction of those Persons who were to deal with them. Especially when they were to be instructed in something new of which they were igno­rant before. Thus it was necessary that the Holy Ghost should fall upon Cornelius and his company upon St. Peters preaching to them, and before their Baptism, because else the Apostle had not been so well satisfied that it was his Duty to baptize them, not­withstanding his vision for that purpose immediately before his coming to them. At least he had wanted that satisfaction which had been requisite for his defence to others, who would have been extremely scandalized at him if he had ventured to practise upon a Revelation made only to himself. We find him expressly making this use of it as an Argument for his own direction in this affair. Who can forbid water that these should not be baptized, Acts X.47. Acts XI.17. who have received the holy Ghost as well as we? And again, If God gave unto them the same gift as unto us who believed on the Lord Je­sus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God? The necessity hereof then appears by the Apology he was afterwards obliged to make for himself in this particular. And indeed it was very [Page 180] agreeable to the methods of Prophecy in that Age, for God to in­struct some even inspired Persons themselves by visible signs of his influences upon others. Thus St. John Baptist himself was di­rected to the knowledg of our Saviour, That whereas he knew him not himself,John I.33. he who had sent him to baptize with water, had said unto him, Ʋpon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descend and abiding on him, that is he who baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. But much more this was requisite then when the matter was of uni­versal concernment, and where it was convenient for the Prophets reputation that others should be satisfied, as well as himself, that he might not seem to impose on them on his single Authority, which was exactly St. Peters Case here. Thus the Apostles Au­thority was recommended to the multitude by the visible descent of the Holy Ghost upon them at the Feast of Pentecost.Acts II. But now that we have no hopes of any further Revelation either concerning things or Persons; but that God hath left us intirely to our own natural Prudence, both for knowing the manner of administring those Sacraments which have been derived to us from the beginning, and what Persons have a Title to them; all those gifts of the Spirit which, on this account, were given at the Preach­ing of the Word cannot now be expected by us.

§ XVIII AND yet farther (4.) even concerning that power of the Spi­rit which accompanies the Preaching of the Word, it is worth considering in what Preaching of the Word it may be expected, Whe­ther it may only be expected in the Preaching of such Persons as are sent and Authorized; Or may also be expected at the Preaching of such as Preach without Authority, nay in opposition to them who are legally invested with this Spiritual Authority. And it may be, when our dissenting Brethren have thoroughly considered the now mentioned Observations, and shall then recollect their proofs for this influence of the Spirit accompanying the word Preached, which may reach our present Case, and prove it reasonable for them to expect the like influences now, possibly they will find this to be the solidest reason for their purpose to shew the parity of the Case now as in the Primitive times, That, whereas they will hardly find an express and immutable Promise which may reach our times, the only reason why we may expect the like Assistance now, is that the Apostolical Office is still continued as to its Ordinaries, though it have ceased long since as to its Ex­traordinaries; that they who are called by Persons Authorized by [Page 181] God to call them are as properly Authorized by God in their seve­ral Successions, as they who were Authorized by him immediately; that deriving their Authority from God, he must in reason be ob­liged to second them in all Exercises of this Authority, relating to the end for which he had designed it, on the same account as every Supreme Worldly Governour thinks himself obliged, by the Principles of his Government, to ratifie and promote all the Legal procedures even of his inferior subordinate Officers; and that God is rather obliged to do this than even worldly Princes themselves, because indeed the effect of all their Ministry depends on his immediate interposition, whereas the power of the Sword committed to inferior Magistrates enables them to do many things without immediate recourse to the Supreme.

§ XIX IF this way of proceeding be allowed, it will plainly resolve all the ground of expecting this influence of the Spirit in the use of their Ministry into the Legality of their Call. And however express Promises might have been found to assure our expectation of the like influences in hearing the word Preached even in our pre­sent Age; yet certainly their actual performance could not be ex­pected in the hearing of any but Authorized Persons, as no Su­preme Prince can, in reason, be thought obliged to ratifie, or second, what any Rebel or Usurper should presume to proclaim or promise in his name. The boldness of such an attempt is so far from a just title to a confirmation from the Lawful Prince, as that it is always thought to deserve the most exemplary punish­ment. And if this be the Case, it will serve my end as well as if these influences of the Spirit were thought to be confined to the Sacraments themselves. For this will oblige all to as strict a dependance on the Governours of the Church as the other. For both the Episcopal Clergy will be found to have as just an Autho­rity, and the Non-Conformists as unjust a one, to Preach the Word, as to administer the Sacraments; and it is as much in their power to whom they will Preach, as to whom they will administer the Elements, and consequently it will be also as much in their power to impose Conditions for the one as for the other. And indeed my whole design, in confining these expectations to the Sacraments, is only, by this means, to confine them to the regularly-ordeined Clergy on account of that Right which they alone have to administer these Sacraments. But though these In­fluences had been granted always to accompany the Word preach­ed, [Page 182] and by whomsoever preached; yet it were fit to be considered farther,

§ XX 5. WHETHER this Grace accompanying this Ordinance be so great as to be able to supply the want of the Sacraments, at least so great as to secure the Salvation of those who enjoy this Ordinance whilest they want the Sacraments? That this may appear, it will be absolutely necessary, that either no grace at all be con­veyed by the Sacraments which may not also be expected in hear­ing the Word; or that, if any be conveyed, at least it be not such as is necessary to Salvation. For if any Grace necessary to Salvation be communicated by the Sacraments, which is not com­municated by Preaching, then still the Sacraments may be also ne­cessary for the Salvation of such a Person who still enjoys the Or­dinance of Preaching; and therefore he may still be obliged to submit to all unsinful Impositions in order to the obteining these Sacraments which, on these accounts, will appear so necessary for his Salvation. But this cannot be much as plausibly pretend­ed from any of the Texts produced for this purpose by our Bre­thren. Where are there any Texts that mention the pardon of their Sins, or the sanctification or acceptance of their Persons, or their actual reconciliation, barely on account of that Grace which they had received in their attendance on the Word preached? Where are they said to be thereby united to Christ, to be made members of his Body, and to be thereby intitled to his constant vital influences? These are the effects of the Sacraments, and what­ever Grace may be otherwise supposed communicated in hearing the Word preached, yet, if it fall short of these, it must also con­sequently fall short of administring any solid security for the Sal­vation of the Persons so concerned. But where is it indeed that they can find that either the Persons who had received this Grace, or the Apostles who were sufficiently satisfied that they had re­ceived it, ever thought them secure without that additional Grace which they were further to expect in the Sacraments? Nay where is it that after the receiving of this Grace they do not immediate­ly hasten to Baptism? Nay they are urged and importuned by their Converters to do so.Acts II.37. Can they deny that the pricking of the heart in St. Peters Auditors was an effect of that Grace which ac­companied the Word preached by him? Yet after this we find the Persons themselves further solicitous what they should do.v.37, 38. We find St. Peter further advising them to repent every one of [Page 183] them, and to be Baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the re­mission of sins, and that so they should receive the Holy Ghost. Whence it appears that as yet they had not received pardon, or the Holy Ghost. Nay further he advises and exhorts them to save themselves from that untoward Generation, v.40. a plain sign that all that had been yet done was not sufficient for their Salvation. What do they think of the Ethiopian converted by St. Philip? He seems to have been a Proselyte of the Gates, at least, because he came up to Jerusalem to worship.Acts VIII.27 And he had received all the Grace of the Word read as well as preached. Nay he had professed to believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. v.30, 37. Yet all this sa­tisfied not him without Baptism.v.36, 38. And certainly they cannot think the Grace received by St. Paul himself in his miraculous conversion, inferior to any that had been received by them who had been converted by the Word preached. And the effects were answerable upon him. As soon as he had been struck down, he immediately cryes out with trembling and astonishment,Acts IX.6. Lord what wouldest thou have me to do? v.11. And he was praying when Ananias was sent to him. And it should seem to be his excessive pensiveness upon that Providence that occasioned his fasting for three days together.v.9. What moral Dispositions could our Bre­thren themselves have required more from him for his Salvation? Yet see how Ananias accosts him: And now why tarriest thou? Acts XXII.16. Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy Sins, calling upon the name of the Lord. It seems then, as yet his Sins were not wash­ed away, and this was it that obliged him to make all possible hast to be baptized. And yet the Case of Cornelius was more re­markable. He was, as to his Person, a devout Man,Acts X.2. and one who feared God, and did many almes. Nay he had also this Testi­mony, that his Prayers and almes had been accepted by God.v.4, 31. And upon St. Peters preaching to him, he received so plentiful a pro­portion of these gifts of the Spirit which accompany the Word preached, as amazed his Spectators.v.45. Yet all this was not thought sufficient to supersede the necessity of Baptism, or to delay it; but was rather thought an Argument to intitle him to it. Even Lydia whose heart God is said to have opened, and whose example our Brethren do so much insist on for proving this efficacy of the Word preached,v.47, 48. Acts XVI.14, 15. did not think her self thereby the more excused either from receiving, or hastening, her Baptism.v.29, 30. So in the Case of the Jaylor, whose excellent demeanour to St. Paul and Silas, [Page 184] even before his conversion, bespeaks an extraordinary change and a mighty influence of the Spirit of God upon him, though they told him that if he believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, he should be saved, and his house; yet by their proceeding with him they plainly shew that their meaning was not that he should be saved by his Faith without Baptism. For the event was, that he and his houshold were immediately baptized upon their profession of this belief.v.33. Acts XVIII.8. Acts XIX.2, 3, 4, 5, 6. I mention not the Baptism of Crispus the Ruler of the Synagogue, and the other Corinthians that believed and were ba­ptized with him, nor even of those Believers at Ephesus, who not­withstanding their having already received the Baptism of St. John the Baptist, notwithstanding their belief in Christ upon the same Baptists Preaching, notwithstanding they heard St. Paul himself Preach, and therefore must in all likelihood have felt that Grace which followed his Preaching in Persons qualified to re­ceive it, yet remained still uncapable of receiving our Saviours Spirit till they had first received his Baptism. By all which in­stances it appears that how great soever the Grace of God was which then accompanied the Word Preached, yet even then it was not thought so great as to supersede, I do not say, the Ʋse, but even the Necessity of Sacraments. So far it is from being reason­able to expect it should do so now when all confess it is not distri­buted in so plenteous a measure.

§ XXI BUT though this be abundantly sufficient for my present de­sign that this Grace is not so great as to encourage them to think themselves in a safe condition whilest they have it, though they want the Sacraments and want them through their own faults, I mean when they are unwilling to purchase them by unsinful con­descensions; Yet because this is the great support of many in our Age, even who pretend to live Religiously, and I do not doubt do really mean so too, that satisfie their Consciences with fre­quenting Sermons, and the ordinary Prayers which accompany them, whilest in the mean time they notoriously neglect the Sa­craments, even where they may have them on neither sinful, nor so much as grievous, terms, nay not on such which themselves think either sinful or grievous, and because this is a Popular mi­stake which certainly hinders many Conscientious Persons from discerning that danger in a state of Schism which they would cer­tainly have discerned, and resented, otherwise; and because it must needs give greater satisfaction to Prudent Enquirers to be­lieve [Page 185] that this Grace is not so great as to excuse from Sacraments when they shall understand Positively, how great it is; it will not be amiss, on this occasion, to invite our Brethren to some closer thoughts concerning this matter than possibly they may yet have enterteined. Let me therefore desire them to consider fur­ther,

§ XXII 6. Whether all the Grace, which is supposed to accompany the Word Preached, be any more than what is necessary to dispose the Auditors to receive, and believe, the Truth of the Doctrines Preached to them? Or whether there be any the least ground to be­lieve that they shall there receive that assistance which is necessary to help them to practise what they have thus received and believed? That thus much Grace is necessary for atteining the end of Preach­ing will not be doubted of by those who believe the Church's De­finitions against the Pelagians concerning the necessity of Divine Grace to make us willing as well as able. Voss. Hist. Pelag. Nay even Julian him­self went so far as to grant, at least, Gods illumination. And this is indeed an eternal immutable reason why the Grace of God should accompany his Ordinance of Preaching, concerning as well our present Ages as those of the Apostles. For if this be the Case, that we can neither apprehend the reasonableness of what is preached to us without the Divine Illumination extinguishing our carnal Prejudices, and quickening and Spiritualizing our faculties, nor be willing to perform Conditions till the Divine Grace has has made us unwilling; it will thence plainly follow that some Di­vine Grace must be granted us Antecedently to the performance of Conditions, namely all that Grace which is requisite to make the Conditions performable by us, that is, all that which is requi­site to make us willing and able to perform them. And because the Preaching of the Word is the first address made to us in Gods name, and so the first ordinary step to our conversion, therefore here it is very suitable to suppose us rather Passive than Active. And therefore if God be supposed indeed to be in earnest with us in his invitations here proposed, it will be absolutely necessary that he perform those beginnings for us without which he knows it impossible that we should perform the rest. But when he has thus put it in our power to receive conviction by the Word Preached to us, this Word will direct us whence we are to ex­pect our further supplies, and it will then be in our Power to go thither for them. And when it is thus in our power to receive [Page 186] those Assistances which he communicates to us in the use of the Sa­craments, it will then be most agreeable to his design in instituting those Sacraments as ordinary Means of conveying those Assistan­ces that he should oblige us to the use of them by refusing to grant them otherwise. For all the Ordinances being instituted by the same Power, it is for the reputation of the wise contrivance of them that no one Ordinance should supersede the use of the other, and that as every Ordinance has its distinct benefit, so there should be that obligation to keep up the respect due to an Ordinance of Divine Institution, that none should be encouraged to hope for the benefit but in the use of the Ordinance. And indeed the only way, to keep up a constant dependance on an Ordinance, is to confine to it the benefit to be expected by it, and therefore it is not agreeable with the Rules of the Divine Government to in­stitute two Ordinary Means of obteining the same benefit, so that it might be in the power of good Persons to live in a perpe­tual neglect of one of them, and it might be in the choice of eve­ry particular Person to choose whether of them he would be plea­sed to neglect.

§ XXIII NOR is this less agreeable with the Politicks of the Divine Go­vernment than it is with the ordinary methods of the Divine Goodness in other Cases. Though he be very Liberal, yet he is not Prodi­gal. Though he distribute favours proportionable to the neces­sities of all, yet he contrives no more Ordinary ways for obtein­ing them than what may make them possible to the generality, Many particular Individuals do want the necessary supports of his Ordinary Providence when they want the Ordinary Means of obteining them. But much more he observes this Method of proceeding when the benefits are very excellent. For these he ordinarily appoints fewer Means, and obliges particular Persons to greater diligence if they will have them, that they may not fail of those few ordinary Means. But God is yet further more sparing in his Provisions when the benefits expected exceed the power of Nature. 2 Kings V.12. S. John IX.7, 11. Numb. V.17, 18, &c. No water but that of Jordan was allowed the power of curing Naamans Leprosie. No Pool but that of Siloam, could recover the blind mans sight. No Water but that of Jea­lousie prepared according to the Rules of his own appointment could discover the Adulteress. It is sufficient in this Case that the methods prescribed by him be generally in the Power of the Per­sons concerned; and they are sufficiently in their Power if, by [Page 187] any Moral diligence, or by any lawful condescendence, they may be obteined.

§ XXIV I BELIEVE our Adversaries will object that these are Reasons rather than Testimonies. But it may be, when they shall examine their Testimonies more narrowly, they will find that they will not be applicable to our present circumstances any far­ther than parity of reason will make them hold; and that these are the properest Reasons for judging of the application. And however this method of Conversion here described do fit our Brethrens Systems who speak only of the Conversion of profes­sed initiated Christians, from a bad, or careless, to a good, and considerate, way of living suitably to their Profession, yet it will certainly better fit those Conversions mentioned in the Scriptures, from a state of Judaism, and Gentilism, to a belief, and Professi­on, of the Christian Religion. Now if this be the Case, not only the Grace of Conversion is to be expected in this Ministry, and that of a Conversion not from one Life to another, but only from one Religion to another, it will thence appear how little comfort can be expected from an attendance on this Ordinance without the Sacraments. For what comfort can it be only to believe the Christian Religion true without performance of the Conditions prescribed by it? Or to know what the Conditions are without ability to perform them? Or to know where this ability may be had if we do not make use of Means to come by it? Nay, to make application even to our Brethrens Systems, what comfort were it, to be convinced of the necessity of a holy Life, nay to be under the greatest and most serious sense of this necessity, if they want that further Grace which is necessary to enable them to practise Holiness? Conditional Promises cannot indeed be va­lued as Promises to them who find themselves unable to perform the Conditions. And therefore if this ability to perform Condi­tions be only to be expected from the Sacraments, this will be sufficient to weaken that extreme confidence which many place in the Word preached without the Sacraments.

§ XXV AND that this first Grace of Perswasion is all that can, in rea­son and Prudence, be expected from the Word Preached, our dissenting Brethren themselves may understand if they shall be pleased further to consider (7.) that this does fully answer the design of the Word Preached. The end of all Popular Discourses is only to perswade and direct, to perswade the Auditory to aim at the [Page 188] End proposed by the Orator, and to direct them to the most Pru­dent Means for obteining that End. And therefore if God do so far assist the Word preached in his name by his Ministers as to make it effectually perswasive to such as are not deficient to themselves, and withal the Word Preached direct them further where they may be furnished with all things necessary for reducing their Con­victions to Practice, this will abundantly answer the end of the Word Preached. If he be withal pleased to assist them further in the actual Practice of what they are perswaded to be necessary to be practised by them, yet that will not concern him as a Pro­poser of his own Will, nor consequently as he uses Preaching as a Means suitable for that purpose; but under another Notion, and therefore will be most proper for another Ordinance. I confess he might have used Words that should at once perform what they represent, as he did in the Creation, and continues to do in the Consecration of the Eucharist, not to the changing of the na­ture of the Elements, but to the producing those Graces in the use of them, which so much exceed the nature of those Elements. But where we have no more express intimation of his actual plea­sure than we have here, there we have no better way of judging what he is pleased to do than by judging what he is, by his de­sign, obliged to do. And whatever may be his design in other words, (as those now mentioned) yet certainly no more than I have said is rational to be expected in Words of address to Per­sons, and especially when those Words are urged with the usual ordinary Arts of Perswasion, as Preaching is, as practised by Ministers.

§ XXVI BUT because one great occasion of mistake in this whole affair, is that the Spirit is conceived to accompany the Word Preached, therefore (8.) it were well our Adversaries would be pleased to consider, Whether by the Spirit he meant only an influence of the Spirit, or the Divine Person of the Spirit himself? If the Person of the Spirit were given, and ordinarily given, to quali­fied Hearers of the Word Preached, by vertue of the Ordi­nance of Preaching, and this as often as they come duly qualified for hearing it; I should then confess that the Spirit thus given would serve all Ends of the Sacraments, and make them unne­cessary to such Persons. For the Spirit thus given would be a Principle of Divine Life in them, and therefore must renew, and regenerate, and sanctifie, them. It must unite them to Christ, [Page 189] for this Ʋnity is the Unity of the Spirit; and as they who have not the Spirit of Christ are none of his, so they who have it must be his. This must therefore intitle them to all that he has done and suffered for them. It must purifie them by his blood. It must make him live and abide in them. It must convey his influences to them. It must be a Spirit of Adoption in them crying Abba Father, and assuring them that they in particular are the Sons of God. And what other favours can be expected from the Spirit which is given in Baptism? It must make them one Body with him. And that is all that our partaking in one Bread can do; or, at least, will necessarily infer whatever other favour may be ex­pected in the Eucharist. And if we may expect new degrees of influence from it, as often as we come prepared Hearers of the Word Preached, what further interest can we have to be pro­moted by receiving the Lords Supper, that can either oblige us to receive it, or be taken for a likely reason why Christ should require it from us, who requires nothing from us in the Gospel, but what either already was our interest, or at least has been made so by his Institution of it, and yet for some more momentous reason than the bare exercise of our Obedience? But it is cer­tain many more are influenced by the Spirit than they who are possessed by him. Caiaphas St. John XI.51. was influenced by the Spirit. So was Balaam, Numb. xxii.xxiii. 2 S. Pet. II.15, 16. and so were all they who are said to have re­sisted Acts VII.51. or grieved Eph. IV.30. him. Our Calvinistical Brethren them­selves distinguish between common and special Grace; and, to keep to the now-mentioned Notion of the Spirits making Pro­phets, the Jews do also distinguish between a Prophetick instinct and the Spirit of Prophecy. These first Impulses of the Spirit are so far from making Men good as that indeed there is no Man so wicked but has them at some time or other, and it is an aggrava­tion of his wickedness by how many more he has resisted of them. They are but dispositions and inclinations to good courses; but do not turn to good will, and good resolutions, till they be con­sented to. And no man is to be reputed either good or bad with­out some kind of consent. And yet even when they are consent­ed to, they make a man only willing; but for ability to perform what he is then willing to perform, they leave him in a need of further Assistances. At least they do not suppose the constant abiding of the same Spirit, as a constant certain Principle from whom they may still expect the like influences. Which conside­ration [Page 190] alone is sufficient to shew how little confidence is to be re­posed in them without the Sacraments. Now that these influen­ces which thus accompany the Word Preached are of this kind, may appear hence, that wicked Men are as apt to feel them as others in the hearing of zealous Preachers, and may at the same time strive against them to stifle and suppress them, and this with too fatal a success. But they who have the Spirit as an inhabiting enlivening Principle, must, whilest they have it so, be predomi­nantly influenced by it. This must at least be granted by our Cal­vinistical Brethren, who think no proper Grace resistible or amis­sible, whereas we daily see many, who have been affected with zealous Sermons, to fall totally and finally too, as far as we can judg of them. And it is clear in the Cases of Herod hear­ing S. Mark VI.20. St. John Baptist gladly, of Felix hearing St. Paul and Acts XXIV.25. trembling upon it, and of all those who received the Word with S. Mark IV.16, 17. gladness, yet fell away in the time of tribulation. This I take at least for an Argument ad homines. I have intimated others which I my self think more solid, but I shall not now re­peat them.

CHAP. X. The Grace, which may be obtained by Prayer is not sufficient for Salvation without the Sacraments.

THE CONTENTS.

§ I The Exclusive Part proved 2. as to Prayer, That neither this alone, nor the Grace which may be expected in the use of it, are sufficient for Salvation without the Sacraments. The Objection proposed. §. I.II. The Answer, 1. That no Prayers can ex­pect acceptance with God but such as suppose the use of Ordi­nary Means, and consequently of the Sacraments, if they should prove such. §. III. 2. No Prayers can expect acceptance which are offered by a Sinner, continuing in the state of Sin, even at the same time when he offers them. §. IV. 3. It is more to be considered what is the Ordinary Means appointed by God, than what is Ordinarily observed by the best-meaning and wisest Men. §. V. 4. It is no way safe for us to venture on our own Judg­ments, concerning the design of God in instituting the Sacra­ments, to neglect them. This proved by several degrees. It is hard to know the true design of the Sacraments. §. VI. They are not sure that raising Devotion by the sensible Representations was the principal design of these Sacraments. §. VII. They cannot assure themselves that this use of the sensible Representa­tions was either the Only, or the Principal, End of the Sacra­ments. §. VIII. Though they were sure of these things, yet they have no reason whereby to be assured that God will be pleased with their taking upon them to judg of his designs, and, by that Means, allowing themselves the liberty of paying their Obedi­ence at their own Discretion. §. IX. 5. Another design of the Sacraments has been proved, the confederating Subjects into a Body Politick, and the obliging Subjects in it to a dependence on their Governours. It is no way convenient that any should be excused from these Establishments upon pretences to Perfection. [Page 192] They who were really Perfect would not make this use of such Pre­tences for their own sake. §. X. They would not do it for the sake of the Publick. §. XI.XII.XIII. They would not do it on account of the Divine actual Establishment, and the Divine assistances conveyed by the Sacraments, which are necessary for Perfection of the Person. §. XIV. and of his Prayer. §. XV. 6. The Scripture no where allows of such a Degree of Perfecti­on atteinable, in this Life, as can in reason excuse from the rea­son of the Obligation to Ecclesiastical Assemblies. All Mem­bers of the Church need the Gifts of each other. §. XVI. They need particularly those Gifts which belong to Government. §. XVII. All the other Members need the Head; which cannot be understood of Christ, but of Persons eminently Gifted. §. XVIII. This Head not a Head of Dignity only, but also of Influence and Authority. §. XIX. Though they needed not the Gifts of others, yet they are obliged to join themselves in Ecclesiastical Societies, in regard of the good they may do to others. They are obliged to this as Platonists and as Christians. §. XX.

THE Second Expedient which many are too apt to trust even to the neglect of the Sacraments is Prayer. And the reason which makes them inclinable to this excessive confidence in this seems to be, that as it is the Ordina­ry remedy to which Men betake themselves when they find them­selves destitute of other supports, so withal the Benefits to be ex­pected by it are not confined to any one certain kind. But as it is the design of Prayer to make God our Friend, so when he is made so, and that his good will is gained, all things then seem fit to be expected from him which are within his power, which is unlimited. And if this be so, that all things may be expected by Prayer, and that Prayer is the Ordinary Means of obteining them, it must then indeed follow that there can be no obligation in interest to use any other Means. And if the Spiritual things of Religion be so Spiritually transacted in the Soul of Man as this kind of Persons seem apt to conceive, as to depend on no externals, but that rightly disposed Souls are capable of receiving them in all times and circumstances, and Prayer be the Ordinary Means to produce those Dispositions; and that it be withal one great de­sign of the Christian Institution to restore Religion to its most natural Spiritual way of management, so that as the nature of [Page 193] the Spiritual things themselves require no externals for their com­munication as Temporals do, nay that Temporal things do so little contribute hereunto as that they cannot communicate them by any general vertue received from the Divine Institution, but that God must be present himself immediately to do the things repre­sented by Externals, it will seem to follow that God may as con­veniently communicate them without them.

§ II AND this the rather if the whole design of God in instituting these Externals were only to raise the Devotion of the Persons by the lively representation of the things signified by them (as these Persons conceive this to have been his whole design in them) for then where this Devotion is already raised by other Means, there can be no need of the Sacraments, at least, to such Persons; and if there be Ordinary Means more effectual than the Sacraments themselves, either for raising the Devotion in a more Spiritual way, without any sensible Representations at all, or where such Representations themselves might seem necessary for weaker Per­sons of a less Spiritual apprehension, by using such as were more lively, such Provisions as these must (on these Principles) pro­duce the effect, and consequently supersede the use of the Sacra­ments themselves. And the design, even of these complyances to sense, being by degrees to fit Men for more immediate and Spiritual ways of communication, as they which are more excel­lent and more agreeable to the nature of the things themselves; therefore by how much the more Spiritual, the more excellent they must be also, and the rather to be preferred by Persons whose improvements are so high as to make them capable of being be­nefited by them. But Closet-Devotions are managed in a much more Spiritual way than these at the Sacraments. And therefore they who, by a devout Meditation on the Death and Resurrecti­on of Christ in their Closets, can find themselves more sensibly affected with them than by that sensible representation of them, by going under water and rising out of it in Baptism, cannot think themselves, on these Principles, obliged to use that which they find less sensibly to affect them. And they who by reading the Story of our Saviours Passion, or by using a lively well [...]contrived Picture of it, can find themselves raised to a greater compassion than by seeing it represented in the breaking of a piece of Bread, or the pouring out some Wine, must needs, on these accounts, be in­duced to prefer their private Contemplations before Communion in [Page 194] the Eucharistical Elements. These are the degrees by which Men come from despising the Authorized Communion of the place where they are born, and of the Church in which they, or their Predecessors, were first Baptized, at length to despise all Com­munion, and from disparaging Notions of these Ordinances which they have first taken up only to defend a neglect of them, at length proceed to a contempt of them, and, on a pretence of their own proficiency beyond the needs of such weak Assistances, turn Superordinances. I could heartily wish that as many of our dis­senting Brethren as dislike this Consequence would review their own Principles, and, at least, so far reject them as they find them, on such a review, to justifie this Consequence. If they would do thus with that Equity and Candor which would become them, they would undoubtedly grant me such Principles as would much facilitate my present design.

§ III TO come therefore more closely to my business, I shall lay down such Observations which, if the Parties concerned will be pleased to consider, may possibly let them see the grounds of their mistakes, and shall withal weaken the proposed Objection. 1. Therefore when it is pretended that it is the Ordinary Course of Men to have recourse to God for such favours as are to be ex­pected from him, I shall desire them to consider what Men they mean? And in what Cases they ordinarily take this course? It is only the Practice of wise men that can be urged for a Precedent. And such can never think it a becoming course, nor can ever ex­pect to be heard in such Prayers as are not accompanied with their own endeavours, so that the only Case wherein they have re­course to such Prayers, is only either for a blessing on the Means when they can procure them, or to supply the want of them when they cannot. No wise man can with any confidence expect that God should as much as supply in his Case the want of ordinary Means till he have used his utmost diligence to procure them, till he have denyed all humours of his own, and submitted to any thing that is no Sin that falls out to be a Condition of procuring them. So that if there be any Ordinary Means of procuring his desires, he must first be supposed to have used these before he can with any reason expect that his Prayers can find acceptance. And therefore this pretence of the efficacy of Prayer can never encou­rage any to the neglect of any Conditions short of Sin that may be requisite to procure the Sacraments themselves. If there be [Page 195] Ordinary Means appointed for that purpose, it matters not what the reason is why they are appointed, whether it be any natural efficacy of the Means themselves, or whether it be only the arbi­trary pleasure of him who has appointed them: The obligation is still the same. While they do any way put the thing in our power, we must endeavour, if we expect that our Prayers should prove successful. But suppose God would excuse our want of en­deavour, yet it is further to be considered,

§ IV 2. THAT we cannot expect that any Prayers should be heard which are offered by a Sinner continuing in the state of Sin, even at the same time when he offers them. He that neglects Ordinary Means, and is guilty of Sin in neglecting them, cannot expect that God should supply the use of those Means which he wants only by his own Sin. Now the breach of any Command of God, how positive and arbitrary soever it may seem, is certainly a Sin, if Obedience be a Duty. So that the issue of the present Question will be, not whether a devout Prayer may hope for a gracious ac­ceptance at Gods hands? But whether such a Prayer as desires the Benefits of the Sacraments whilest the Persons who prays neg­lects the use of them, can be indeed be esteemed by God as de­vout, with what warmth soever it be offered, and how much soe­ver the Person who offers it, pretends to feel himself ravished and transported in offering it? If it be sinful, it is most certain no warmth of the Person can make it really devout. And if it be in disobedience, it is as certain that it is sinful; and as certain also that the breach of any Command whatsoever is Disobedi­ence.

§ V 3. THEREFORE, it is much more considerable, in this Subject, what is the Ordinary Means appointed by God, than what is the Course Ordinarily observed even by the best-meaning and wisest Men? Their good meaning may possibly do something to excuse and expiate their Sin, but can by no means recommend their Example to us as a Precedent fit to be imitated by us. It is only the observing the Divine Institutions that can secure the favour of God, and make him exorable by us. And unless this be first se­cured, we can have no confidence in our Prayers. I have already shewn how free God is from any obligation to accept us from his own Essential Goodness notwithstanding any moral performances or dispositions, which must needs hold more firmly in Prayer which are only addresses, not performances. And yet this natural [Page 196] Goodness is all that can be relyed on for the acceptance of these Prayers. His Promises of hearing us, as well as of his other Graces, are confined to his Covenant, and our interest in that to our performance of the Conditions, even of all those Conditions which he is pleased to prescribe. Where these are willingly neg­lected, we have not so much as his Goodness to plead for us. It is so far from expiating our other guilts as that it is it self a new provocation.

§ VI 4. IT is no way safe for us to neglect the Sacraments, by ven­turing on our own Judgments, concerning the design of God in in­stituting the Sacraments. The neglect of things which he has made so sacred must prove a Crime of a very high nature if it prove one at all, that is, if we should prove mistaken in our conjectures concerning them. And where the danger is great, the Caution ought to be so too. They are not the same Probabi­lities that can excuse us here which might excuse us in matters of smaller importance. We ought to be very sure of Gods design here before we run the hazard of practising our own thoughts concerning it. But if our Adversaries would be pleased soberly to reflect, what reason can they have to be so confident of their own Conjectures as a Practice of this nature would require them to be? Has God told them what his whole design was? This is not, that I know of, as much as pretended by them. Or are the natures of the Sacraments themselves so very obvious as that whoever considers them must needs discover their design? Who­soever thinks so, if any do so, does not consider why they are called Mysteries, which is the Greek term answering the Latine, Sacrament. If God designed them as Mysteries, certainly it must have been his design that the sacredest part of them should not be known, at least not obviously, but only to Persons very well disposed. And if so, it is not likely that he would have ex­pressed it in the Scriptures which all may read, at least not so ob­viously as that every one should understand it. And if so, how come they to be so extremely confident in a matter so extremely obscure which God hath designed to conceal from them?

§ VII BUT how come they particularly to know that the raising of Devotion by their sensible Representations was the principal design of these Sacraments? They have rather all the reason imagina­ble to believe otherwise. The Representation is so weak, and the Elements here made use of so unsuitable, as that any ordinary [Page 197] prudent Man could have made a better choice, if that had been his only design, so far they are, in that regard, from discovering a Divine contrivance. Besides the design of the Gospel being, as themselves think, so much for Spiritualizing the Divine Wor­ship, it is not likely that God would here have instituted new re­presentations merely for Representations sake, when he purpose-came to abolish so many Representations of his own Institution. And certainly it is much rather likely that he would never have in­stituted such Representations whose use should so frequently and so easily fail, than that he would permit them to be neglected as often as they should do so. If particular Persons might be ex­cused, as often as they find other Means of raising their Affections than the Sacramental Representations, who would almost be ob­liged to frequent the Sacraments? They that presumed them­selves most perfect (and they are generally the less perfect who presume themselves to be so) would think themselves disobliged from coming, because they needed no Representations at all. And, according to the humour of our dissenting Brethren, who gene­rally disdain all the Externals of Religion as not only vain, but useless to a truly Religious Soul, the number would be great who would absent themselves on this account. But even the weaker sort would not want an excuse, that they could meet with many other sensible Representations which they feel more moving to themselves than those of the Sacraments. And then what need would there be of such a formal Preparation of Priests, and Al­tars, and appointed Solemnities, when there would be so few, if any, obliged to be present with them? Publick provisions are never made by prudent Governours but upon account of general necessities. And is it probable that God should make such unal­terable Provisions so little permitted to the Prudence of particu­lar ordinary Governours, (whose office it is, by the general Prin­ciples of Government to consider and provide for rarely occur­ring circumstances) for so very few as by these Principles must be obliged to make use of them?

§ VIII BUT further yet how can they assure themselves that this is the only, or the principal end of the Sacraments? If they fail in either, they cannot be excusable. If there be other ends be­sides the raising their Devotion by the sensible Representation, then they may be obliged to receive them for those other ends, though they had not been obliged for this. If it fail of being the princi­pal [Page 198] end, it will then be much more unreasonable to neglect them for the principal end, which they do really need, on pretence that they do not need some other end which is less principal. And it will be impossible to know whether it be the only, or the principal, end till they can first assure themselves that they know all the ends designed by God in the Institution of the Sacraments. For there may be other ends that may have been designed by God, then for ought they know there are. And then how can they pre­sume that this end which they pitch on is either the only or the principal one? How do they know but as there may be more, so there may be also more considerable ones? And indeed how can they presume to know all the Ends of what God has himself designed as a Mystery? Is it by the Scriptures? But God who designed them as Mysteries cannot be supposed to have revealed there what he designed as Mysteries. Is it therefore by the reasons of the things? But alas! how unable are they to fathom the depths of Gods designs? How little acquainted with the in­trigues of Providence! How little with the affairs of the other World! How little with the nature of Spirits! Nay how little with the nature of their own Souls! These are all necessary for judging right in affairs of this nature, and no doubt if we had known them very many things would appear very rational which we now think arbitrary, only because we are ignorant of them. Yet concerning these things, though we do not know the things, we do at least know our own Ignorance. But how many things more are there which may be accounted for by God in instituting the Sacraments concerning which we do not know so much as our Ignorance? And how can any then be confident that he knows all Gods designs, especially in such a matter as this, merely by the reasons of the things? Certainly all these things being con­sidered, it would be much more rational to presume that these things are not arbitrary because God has been pleased to continue them under such a Dispensation as the Gospel, than to presume them arbitrary for no other reason than because we do not know the reasons of them; and much more rational to presume that something more was designed in them than bare Representation, because they are imposed in a Dispensation so Spiritual, and which has taught us so little to esteem sensible Representations, than to conclude their unobligingness to any, because their prin­cipal design is only sensible Representation.

[Page 199] § IX BUT though they were sure that this were the mere and prin­cipal end of the Sacraments, how come they further to be sure that God will be pleased that they should take upon them to judg of his designs, and by that means allow themselves the liberty of paying their Obedience at their own discretion? How do they know but he may value their Obedience more than he does the moment of the thing which he requires of them as the instance of it? How do they know but the Precedent of neglecting their Duty, on pretence of complying with the design of it, may be of worse consequence to the Publick than their reaching the End may be a service to the Publick? It is certain the wisest and most publick spirited Politicians have thought so in many Cases, even concerning the observation of their most arbitrary com­mands. It is no doubt but victory is the principal End of all Ge­nerals of Armies, Yet Manlius put his own Son to death for de­serting his Station though he proved victorious by it.Liv. L. VIII.7. Plut. in Parall. Liv. VIII.30, 31, 32, 33, 34. And Fabius very hardly escaped the like punishment from Papyrius Cursor, though his success was so great as could have been desired or ex­pected from the most punctual observation of Military Discipline. All the intercession of the Army, and even of the Senate too, were little enough to procure his pardon, and that from a Person who had no other Quarrel with him but was concerning the pub­lick interest and the danger of his Precedent. And even among Persons who proceed not with that extreme vigor and punctuali­ty in observing the strict measures of Justice, though Governours have so well approved of the designs of Persons who have done thus as that they have rewarded them for it, yet if they do not punish, at least they have formally pardoned, them the transgres­sion of their Duty. And a Pardon implies the same guilt as Pu­nishment does. So that they seem by no means willing to endure that either many should take this liberty, or that even the same Person should do it frequently. Nay they never allow it but in such Cases wherein the advantage of it is extremely considerable. Nor even in such Cases do they think it allowable, when the Par­ty concerned, presumes on a design which the Prince had not been pleased to discover to him. In this Case his Precedent is of very dangerous consequence as well for the Presumption, in prying in­to what his Prince was not willing he should have known, and the great hazard of missing the design it self, as for his Practice of Disobedience. And certainly no Earthly Prince can be supposed [Page 200] more concerned for the Publick, or more punctual in the Execu­tion of Justice than God is.Gen. XVIII.25. The Judg of all the Earth will un­doubtedly do Righteousness. This consideration may suffice to shew at least how dangerous this Practice is, as our Adversaries are concerned for it, to live in a perpetual neglect of the Sacra­ments, on pretence of reaching the End of Sacraments by their Closet-Devotion. This is yet incomparably less excusable than any of the instances now mentioned. But there is no need thus to implead their Ignorance; for

§ X 5. I HAVE already endeavoured to let them understand ano­ther design of the institution of these Sacraments, that is, the con­federating a Body Politick, and the obliging Subjects in it to a de­pendence on their Governours. And if this design hold true, all sorts of Persons will be obliged to communicate in them notwith­standing the Spiritual nature of the Christian Religion. If God as a Governour and as a Covenanter be concerned to take care that the Church be erected into a Body Politick, it will also as much concern him to take care (when he has done so) that its Rules and Constitutions be punctually observed, and its Government re­vered, without which it is impossible for any Body Politick to subsist. And it is least of all convenient that Men should be per­mitted to plead exemption from these establishments upon pre­tence of their being perfect. For if this pretence be once allow­ed, the least perfect will be found most forward in their pre­tences to Perfection, especially if themselves be also allowed to be Judges in their own Case. And then how can it be expected that Order should be observed? And from whom can this be ex­pected? It is certain that Modesty and Humility are the princi­pal ingredients of true Perfection. And they who were endued really with those vertues, though God should excuse them from these external Observances, yet they could not find in their hearts to excuse themselves. They would be too conscious of their own frailties to think themselves not to stand in need of such Pro­visions as had been fitted by God himself for such frailties as he supposed incident to the generality of the Professors, even of the true Religion. They who were seriously of St. Pauls temper in believing themselves to be the Eph. III.8. least of all Saints, and the 1 Tim. I.15. chief of all Sinners, could not pretend that they needed not those reliefs which were necessary for many whom they would▪ on these terms, believe to be greater Saints, and for many whom they [Page 201] would be lieve to be less Criminal, than themselves. And we have reason to believe that this contrivance of things was designed by God himself, and that he has therefore made good Men by how much really the better they are, by so much the less inclinable to take this Liberty, because he knows how hurtful it would be if they took it.

§ XI AND indeed how little hurtful soever it might prove to them­selves, yet certainly it must prove very hurtful to the publick, that those really-weaker Persons, who, even by the Principles of these pretenders to Perfection, might be supposed to need the Sacraments, should be made less solicitous for them by this be­haviour of them from whom they might justly have expected so much better an example. Which consideration alone were suffi­cient to oblige them who are bound to mind not only their own good, but the good of one another. We find it frequently re­presented as obligatory in the Scripture. Thus he who was in himself assured that no meats could contract any real pollution by being offered in Sacrifice to an Idol, was yet obliged to abstein, not only from such meats, but from any other also, and that for 1 Cor. VIII.13. ever, rather than scandalize his weaker Brother by an undue use of his Liberty. Thus St. Paul shore his head for no other reason but to let the Jews understand that he Act. XXI.24. walked orderly in the Law of Moses, and circumcised Acts XVI.3. Timothy to please them, even after he was himself sufficiently satisfied of the little availa­bleness of Circumcision; nay 1 Cor. IX.20, 21, 22. became as a Jew to the Jew, and as a Gentile to the Gentile, and was made all things unto all Men, that by all means he might save some.

§ XII BUT we have yet a greater Example than that of this great Apostle, even that of our Saviour himself. I mention not his S. Luke II.21, 22. Circumcision, nor his Mothers Purification, which were transact­ed in his younger years, and by such Persons as might probably not have been so well acquainted then with those reasons of singu­larity in his Case which might have justified their exemption from them. When St. John Baptist would have excused himself from Baptizing him on account of the little availableness of his own Baptism to so excellent a Person, Our Saviour denyes not the co­gency of his reasoning for proving the no-necessity of it. Yet however he desists not from his former demand, only for this rea­son, that he might St. Mat III.15. fulfil all Righteousness. And when the tribute of the Temple was demanded from him, he first proves the un­reasonableness [Page 202] of the demand; yet afterwards pays it that he might not S. Matth. XVII.24, 25, 26, 27. offend them who understood not the singularity of his Condition.

§ XIII AND what can these pretenders to Perfection desire more? They dare not pretend to a Perfection greater than that of the Apostle, nay greater than that of our Saviour himself. Do they therefore think themselves less obliged to avoid this scandal? Or can they better secure themselves from giving it in this practice of their Liberty? If they had those mean thoughts of themselves as not to apprehend the likelihood that weaker Persons would be influenced by their example, they could not be so easily puffed up into so great Opinions of their own Perfection. If they think Men so utterly unacquainted with their worth, as that, upon ac­count of that ignorance, they do not think them likely to be in­fluenced by their example; they are then to consider, whether they will not teach Men by their Practice that which they disown in their Judgment. For on this Supposition, Men will take them also for weak Persons. And then the obvious Consequence inferri­ble from hence will be that even weak Persons may also neglect the Sacraments. And yet even in this Case, whether Men value their example or not, yet, at least, they will be likely to derive their contagion to others, which is sufficient to render them Responsi­ble to God for the Liberty taken by them. But if they think Men possessed with great opinions of their worth, but unacquaint­ed with those particular degrees of proficiency which makes their Case so singular; this is the thing which will make their exam­ple so very dangerous. For the good opinion they have enter­tained concerning them will add Authority to their example. And their ignorance of the singularity of their Case will tempt them to believe it is not singular at all, and consequently to presume that they may also venture on it. And this is an inconvenience which they cannot possibly avoid. For the Arguments by which they are capable of judging concerning their own Perfection are of such a nature as that they are uncapable of being known by any but the Person concerned in them, if they be indeed capable of being certainly known, even by him himself.

§ XIV BUT though they were indeed so perfect as not to need any assistance that others might be able to afford them, and though it were possible God might excuse them from giving their assistance to others less perfect than themselves, and it were also consequent­ly [Page 203] possible that they might have been excused from associating themselves in the external Communion of the visible Church on those accounts; Yet if God have been actually pleased to order the matter otherwise, both to oblige them to associate themselves, and in order thereunto to confine the ordinary communication of his Graces to the Sacraments (as by our Hypothesis we suppose him to have actually done) this is a reason which will oblige the perfectest Persons that are to frequent the Sacraments. For sup­pose they were already so perfect as to need no assistances from Men; yet can they have the confidence to pretend the same per­fection in reference to God also? They will not, they dare not, pretend themselves so perfect as to stand in no need of the Divine favour. They cannot challenge acceptance, even upon the most perfect performance of the Moral Duties of Religion, were it not that God has been pleased to promise acceptance on the per­formance of those Duties. They can neither continue to will nor do, nor consequently continue in the state of Perfection without new and continued assistances of the Divine Grace. And if these constant communications of new Grace without which, the most perfect Persons that are, are not able to perform their Duty; and if this Title to acceptance, even on performance of Duty, without which the most perfect performance of Duty were not available, be both of them confined to the Sacraments, as these are things which the most perfect that are do stand in need of, so they must also need the Sacraments, if without them these things be not attainable.

§ XV AND proceeding on the same Principles, the Sacraments will appear necessary, not only to the perfection of the Person who prayes, but also to the perfection even of his Prayer it self. In­deed if Prayer were only a lip-labour, a repetition of the words wherein the Prayer is exprest; if it were only a readiness of in­venting those expressions, or a volubility of the Tongue in pro­nouncing them; if it were only a heat of fancy, or a warmth of temper, or a natural Enthusiasm peculiar to some tempers; if it were any of these things which are usually mistaken for it by our dissenting Brethren: I should then indeed not wonder that a perfect Prayer should be separable from the Sacraments, because I know such a Prayer as this is separable from a good Life it self. But if perfect Prayer be wholly transacted in the Soul of him that prayes; if it be a real and hearty sense of his want of the things [Page 204] he prayes for, and a sincere desire of them, and an intire Resignati­on unto the Divine Will in things wherein he desires the Divine conduct; if it be to think seriously as he speaks, and to be af­fected as he thinks; if it be Prayer Eph. VI.18. and supplication in the Spirit, which helps Rom. VIII.26. their infirmities and intercedes with sighs and groans unutterable: then it will be as impossible to suppose such a Prayer separable from the Sacraments, as it is to suppose it separable from that Grace which, according to our Principles, is confined to the Sacraments. Such a Prayer as this must neces­sarily suppose a good Man, and he who is perfect in it must be perfect in goodness too. For this must suppose good inclinations as well as good Actions, and therefore must suppose extraordina­ry degrees of Grace, and a fixed inhabitation of the Spirit as an abiding and enlivening Principle, which if they be not separable from the Sacraments, this kind of Prayer will also be inseparable from them. At least these other Popular Principles of Prayer are so like in their signs, as to us, to the Spirit it self, that it will be, at least extremely hard, if at all possible, to distinguish them. And therefore it will be a much surer way of arguing to prove a Prayer imperfect if it proceed not from the Spirit, than any other Argument can be to prove it perfect distinct from the Spirit. And we have just reason to suspect that he wants the Spirit who has neglected the ordinary means of coming by it, what preternatu­ral transports soever he may feel otherwise. As therefore none can rationally presume that his Prayer is perfect unless he can be rationally assured that he has these Assistances of the Spirit which are requisite to make it so; so none can rationally presume that he has these Assistances, but by his frequenting the Sacraments themselves, wherein, according to these Principles, these Assi­stances are only to be expected. By which way of proceeding, a perfect Prayer must suppose the use of the Sacraments; so far it will prove from being an Argument to excuse any from them. Nor are these Assistances necessary only to make a Prayer perfect, but also to continue it so, and the Sacraments as necessary to continue these Assistances to a Prayer that is already perfect, as at first to give them, whilest it was imperfect. Which will oblige all, even whilest their Prayer is already perfect to continue the use of the Sacraments if they would continue that Perfection, as well as suppose that they must have made use of them at first before they could attein to that Perfection.

[Page 205] § XVI BUT it is further considerable, 6. That the Scripture no where allows such a degree of Perfection attainable, in this Life, as can in reason excuse, I do not only say, from the obligation to enter into Ecclesiastical Assemblies, but also, from the reason of that obligati­on. One great reason which may oblige any one, in interest, to enter into a Society, and consequently to submit to such conditi­ons without which he cannot expect Admission from them who are supposed alone to have the power of admitting him, is the advantage he may receive from other Members of the Society who are endued with gifts which he cannot pretend to, and which yet he finds very necessary for himself. This is the most likely account why a perfect Person should not need these Assemblies, be­cause such a dependence on others gifts must necessarily suppose the Person so depending imperfect, at least in those gifts for which he depends on others. But whether this notion of Perfection may deserve the name of Perfection properly, or not, it may at least deserve it comparatively, in regard of others inferior to it. And it is plain that the Perfection spoken of in Scripture is such as is only gradual, and still capable of further improvement; and that the highest degree of if attainable in this Life does not make any so perfect as not to need the gifts of others. This is the Apostles express Doctrine, even where he speaks of the gifts of the Spi­rit: That 1 Cor. xii.11. he distributes his gifts to every one as it pleases him; That he gives Rom. xii.3, 6. a certain measure of this miraculous Faith to every one, which I take to be the true meaning of the [...] mentioned afterwards; That 1 Cor. vii.7. every one has his own gift from God, one after this manner, and another after that; That to every one of us is given Grace, but Eph. iv.7. according to the measure of the gift of Christ. And accordingly the fulness, which is that which answers these terms of measure and proportion, is still ascribed either to Christ S. J [...]hn I.14, 16. Col. I.19. II.9. himself, or the Col. I.23. Church, never to any particular Member. And the very design of the Spirit in distributing his Graces so very differently is described to be, that he might, by this means, oblige them to a mutual dependence; That as in the natural Body the several Members have different employments, and it is by this peculiarity of employments that the Unity of the whole Body is maintained, he has taken the same course to oblige them to the same mutual dependence in the Body Mystical. Here also the several Members have not the same Rom. xii.4. [...], that is the Apostles word. Here also the whole 1 Cor. xii.14, 20 Body [Page 206] is not one Member, but many; and the Apostle takes it to be as destructive v.19. to the Body Mystical, as it would be to the Body Natural, if it were otherwise. And that he means by the diffe­rence of Members, not a difference of Individuals only, but a difference of Office which makes them all necessary to each other, he plainly shews by his continuation of the same Allegory; That as in the natural Body v.17. the Eye needs the Ear to hear by, and the Nose to smell by, as well as both those Organs need the Eye to see by; so it is also in the Body Mystical: That as v.21, 22, 23. the Eye cannot say to the Hand, I have no need of you, nor again the Head to the Feet, I have no need of you; but by so much the more those Members which seem to be weaker are yet necessary; and as upon those Members of the Body which seem to be less honourable we yet bestow the more abundant honour, and our more uncomely parts have the more abundant comeliness: So by the same proportion of rea­son he plainly implies that the more noble and more perfect gifts and Members must yet not be understood to be so perfect as to stand in no need of the Assistance of the least perfect ones. And he after tells us that God has therefore followed our example in the Body Mystical also, in bestowing v.24, 25. more abundant honour on those Members which most wanted it, for this very reason, that there might be no SCHISM in the Body. From whence our Brethren may be pleased to observe the original of this term, which will be of great consequence for stating the true Notion of it. But of this I may possibly discourse more largely in the Se­cond Part. At present I only observe that this independence of one Member on another, and the consequent withdrawing of the correspondence of any particular Member from the rest, how per­fect soever he pretends to be, is that which the Apostle stigmatizes here expressly by the name of Schism.

§ XVII BUT that I may bring this whole Discourse yet more close to my present design, it is yet further observable that among these gifts of the Spirit which are reckoned as necessary for the whole, the Rom. xii.8. [...] from whence the name of [...] so frequent­ly given to the Governours of the Church, and the Cor. xii.28. [...] are expressly mentioned. And in all likelihood this was the [...] which was then reputed so necessary for Persons to be or­dained, the 1 Tim. iv.14. 2 Tim. I.6. [...] which St. Timothy received by impositi­on of hands. And to know who had this gift there was also in in those Ages given another gift, the [...], the [Page 207] 1 Tim I.18. IV.14. Prophesies mentioned concerning St. Timothy, in relation to his Ordination, the tryal by the Spirit in Clem. Rom. Ep. ad Cor. Clemens Romanus, and the Clem. Alexandr. [...]. & apud Ews. I.III. Eccl. Hist. c. 23. signification of the Spirit in him of Alexandria. For if it had been any natural gift which they were then so careful should be in Persons to be ordained by them, it had not been ne­cessary that their Ordainers should have been endued with ano­ther gift to know it. And particularly this gift of the Spirit to fit Men for Government was a thing the Jews had been so well ac­quainted with in the Old-Testament-instances of Numb. xxvii.18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23. Joshua, and 1 Sam. x.9. Saul, and 1 Sam. xvi.13. David, and many others; nay was the very Mystical Ʋnion which the external Ʋnction did only signifie and convey, from which their Governours were called the 1 Sam. xvi.6. XXIV.6, 10. XXVI.9, 11, 16, 23. 2 Sam. I.14, 16. XIX.21. XXIII.1. Lam. iv.20. 1 Sam. II.25. 1 Chron. vi.42. XVI.22. Ps. CXXXII.10, 17. LXXXIV.9. LXXXIX.38, 51. Hab. III.13. Lords Anointed Pursuant whereunto it is that (according to the rules of the Philosophy then current, which ascribed the Truth of names rather to the Spiritual things which were represented than to the sensible signs and Types which represented them) the Spirit it self is called Ʋnction by 1 John II.20, 27. St. John that, upon these considerations, it is very unlikely that this gift should have been wanting in those times, where every thing was so fitted to the Jewish Notions, and wherewithal it was so very necessary for the Christian themselves though they had less regarded the Jews in this particular than we find they did in many others. Nay how near a Title even Eccle­siastical Governours as well as others (how little Spiritual soever they were as to their Persons,) were then thought to have even to the Extraordinary [...] on account of that gift of the Spirit which they were supposed to receive upon their investiture into their Office, appears from this, that the Evangelist gives this as the reason why even Caiaphas Prophecyed, because he was High Priest S. John XI.51. that time when he did so. If therefore this was a gift which obliged all that wanted it to a dependence on them who had it, how much less perfect soever they were in other regards; then it will plainly follow that no pretence of Perfection whatso­ever could exempt from a dependence on their Governours. Which will more immediately reach my purpose than if they had de­pended on the Sacraments themselves, or any other Exercises, or Solemnities, of the Ecclesiastical Assemblies.

§ XVIII AND the same thing seems very probable from hence, that, among the Members which are instanced in as necessary, the Head is mentioned as one. Certainly there is no office in the Body My­stical so suitable with that of the Head in the Body natural as that [Page 208] of Governing. Nor can it here be understood of Christ, who is indeed frequently called the Head of the Church, because such a Head is here spoken of as 1 Cor. XII.21. cannot say to the Feet, I have no need of you, that is, such a Head as is capable of receiving necessary offices from the other Members, as well as of performing neces­sary offices for them. And though it should he understood of particular Governours, yet it cannot be thought more strange that, in this Allegory, all particular Governours should be re­presented under the Metaphore of one Head than it is that all their Churches, are frequently in the Scripture, called one Church, and here are represented in a Metaphore exactly answering the other, that of one Body. And the utmost that can be made of this expression will only amount to the one Episcopacy in St. de Ʋnit. Eccles. Cyprian, which he makes common to all particular Bishops. And it deed when one Body had been mentioned before, it had spoiled the suitableness of the Metaphore to have mentioned any more than one Head. Though indeed a shorter way might have been taken for giving an account of this whole matter, that it is not di­stinction of Persons, but distinction of Rom. XII.4. Office, which is here taken notice of by the Apostle for the constitution of a distinct Member. And therefore though the Persons of Governours be different, yet so long as their office is undoubtedly the same, and it is the same [...] that qualifies them for that office, that is sufficient to shew how they may be here all accounted for under the Notion of one Head. And if we may have leave to urge the Allegory further, as the Apostle shews us a Precedent in other the like Arguments from, and applications of, the same Allego­ry, that the dependence of other Members on the Governours of the Church must be as great as that of the Members of the natu­ral Body on their Head; this will both shew how extremely dangerous it must be for them to be cut off from the Communion of their Governours on any account, That it must be in an ordi­nary way as impossible for such Members to live, as it is for Mem­bers of the natural Body when they are deprived of those influen­ces which they receive from their Head; and how necessary it must be for them rather to submit to any Conditions short of Sin than to suffer themselves to be reduced to so dangerous a Condi­tion.

§ XIX I KNOW there is another notion of the word Head, not for a Head of influence and Authority, but of eminency and dignity [Page 209] only; and I know that this is a Notion used in the Scripture also where the Is. IX.14, 15. Head and Tail are taken for the most worthy and un­worthy places, as here the Head and Feet may be taken for the same with the more noble and baser Members in the next verse, and I know that this Notion is suitable enough to the Ebrew [...] in the Syriack Idiome. But withal when I consider how much Numb. XXV.15. Judg. X.18. XI.8, 9, 11. 1 Sam. XV.17. Ps. XVIII.43. Is. VII.8, 9. Hos. I.11. of­tener it is used, even in that stile it self, for a Head of influence and Authority than of dignity only; how much more natural it is in this particular Allegory, where all things in this Mystical Bo­dy of Christ are so exactly parallelled with the like things in the natural Body, nay where they are parallelled in this very instance of the derivation of influences from Member to Member, by which mutual communication the whole Body Mystical is sup­posed to be mainteined, the same way as the Body natural is; When I consider that this communication of influences is that which is absolutely necessary to the Apostles design in this place, to shew the mutual need that the Members have of each other, and that a bare Priority and Posteriority of dignity would be utterly imper­tinent to this purpose, and of the two would rather seem to prove the contrary; When I consider further that according to the customes of those times it seems very probable that according to the greatness of their Gifts they were usually intitled to their several Offices, that as their Gifts were generally given them for the service of the Publick ▪ not for themselves, so they who were found to have the greatest Gifts were generally preferred to the most eminent Offices; Nay when I consider that at first, before the settlement of an ordinary Government in the Christian Societies, that is, while they concorporated themselves with the Jews, and met together with them in their Synagogues, and as to any exter­nal coercion depended also on the Government of the Synagogue, and before there was an ordinary course taken for deriving Autho­rity regularly to Posterity (which was not so necessary at first till they were put upon it either by the gradual decay of these Gifts, or at least of the Evidences of them, and the multitude of false pretenders to them, or by the disorderliness of the admini­stration of them in their publick Assemblies) the very Gifts themselves seem immediately, without any further approbation of Man, to have intitled them to the several Offices, and accord­ingly the Offices themselves are reckoned as 1 Cor. XII.28. Gifts, as indeed the Case now described seems really to have been the Case of the [Page 210] Corinthians when this Epistle was written, that they were not as yet under any settled establishment for Government; and St. Paul proves his Apostleship, among other things, from his Gifts, on which supposition this latter exposition that the Head and Feet signifying higher and inferior dignity of Gifts must infer the for­mer, that the same Persons who were so qualified for their Gifts were accordingly ranked in their Offices in the Church, and the interest they had in the Government, yet still with this advantage for the former Exposition, that that does more immediately com­ply with the Apostles design in shewing the mutual necessity and usefulness of the Members to each other: I say, all these things being considered, whatever may be thought of this latter Exposi­tion otherwise, yet it can hardly be thought so peculiar to the Apostles meaning as to exclude the former, on which I have grounded my Argument.

§ XX BUT supposing this were true as we have proved it false, that some Men might be so perfect, even in this Life, as not to need the Society of others in regard of any advantage themselves were capable of receiving by such a Society; yet still they might be obliged to it, and to submit to all unsinful Conditions of being admitted into it, on account of the benefit that others might be capable of receiving from them. Even the Principles of that Philosophy which generally inclines Men to these Enthusiastick fancies, I mean the Platonical, would have taught them that they are Tull. Somn. Scipion. not born for themselves, and that all the good which they are able to do they are also bound to do by the great design of So­cieties, and of God himself, if he design the maintenance of them, whose principal advantage is this, that they who of themselves are weak may there expect the benefit of all the gifts of those which are more able. But the Christian Religion does further as­sure us that all our Gifts are S. Matth. xxv.15. Talents, which we are bound to improve for the good of others as well as our Selves, and that ac­cordingly we must at length be accountable, not only for the Principal it self which we have received, but also for the v.27. im­provements we might have made if we had used our utmost dili­gence in improving them; and for those Gifts, whose nature is ra­ther to be useful for others than for the Possessor, they are such wherein Men are principally obliged to use this diligence; that all Men have some of these; but that they who are perfect must be supposed to enjoy them in a more plentiful measure: And in­deed [Page 211] none are more capable of doing good to others than they who are perfect themselves. They must be supposed to be best experienced, their Examples would be more securely imitated (and in matters of this nature Examples are more instructive than the most accurate Notions) there would be that pretence which the vulgar are too apt to make use of, to recommend the very failings of great Persons by the Authority of the Persons who are guilty of them. These would approve the Practicableness of Virtue, even in our present Age and circumstances, and the very reverence which Men would have for such Persons must needs go far to recommend their advices and Instructions. And yet all these usefulnesses would be in a great measure lost if this Perfection were practiced any where else than in the visible Communion of the Church where all Men might observe it. And particularly, how very useful would they prove to the Publick who had attained to the Perfection of Prayer? How generous and noble, how free from corruption and base designs, must those excellent Souls prove who had by this exercise raised themselves above the World, and temporal considerations? With what a vigorous Zeal? with what courage and confidence, must they be animated, both to undertake and dispatch their great designs, when they undertook them purely for the sake of God, and the love of Goodness; and when they might therefore confidently expect his irresistible as­sistance? Who could have the confidence to oppose them when they might justly fear least they should oppose God himself in do­ing so? This is an obligation to the Publick from which Perfect Persons are so unlikely to be excused on account of their Perfecti­on, as that indeed their being supposed Perfect is a stronger Argu­ment to prove them obnoxious to it.

CHAP. XI. Prayers for Persons out of the Church have no encou­ragement that they shall be accepted.

THE CONTENTS.

7. The Scripture gives us no encouragement to believe that any Prayers shall be heard which are made out of the Communion of the Church, or even in the behalf of those that are so, ex­cepting those which are for their conversion. This proved from St. John who was the only Apostle who lived to see the Case of Separation. §. I. St. John xvii.9. §. II. Where by being given to Christ is meant a being given by external Profession. §. III. By the World all they are meant who were out of the visible Society of the Professors of the Christian Doctrine. §. IV.V. They are said to be in the World purely for this reason, because they did not keep to the Society of the Church. §. VI. The same thing proved from 1 St. John v. concerning the Sin unto Death. The Argument according to the Alexan­drian Ms. §. VII. According to the Vulgar Reading. The Sin unto Death is leaving the Oxthodox Party. §. VIII.IX.X.XI. The same thing proved from 2. St. John 10, 11. §. XII. Pardon possible for Persons out of the Church's Communion upon their admission into it, according to the Doctrine of those times, but much more difficult for Relapsers than others. The latter part proved from 2 Pet. II.21. §. XIII. and from Heb. X.25, 26, 27. §. XIV.XV. and from Heb. XII.15, 17. 1 Joh. V.16. §. XVI. and from other Arguments. §. XVII.XVIII. The actual practice of the Primitive Church not to pray for Spi­ritual benefits for those who were not actual Members of the Churches Communion. §. XIX.XX. An application of what has been said. §. XXI. Object. That these things are spoken of a total relapse from Christianity, not from one Party of Christians to another. §. XXII. That Life was properly as­cribed to the true Christ as the Messias according to the Notions [Page 213] of the Ordinary Jews. §. XXIII. and according to the sense of the generality of the first Converts to Christianity. That the [...] was thought to be the proper Principle of Life. §. XXIV. That the Messias as Messias was to be the [...] also. §. XXV. Answ. 1. It were well our Brethren would allow the same Candor in expounding other Texts produced by them, as they do in these produced against them. §. XXVI. 2. It is not likely that the Antichrists of those times did generally deny the true Christ to be so. §. XXVII.XXVIII.XXIX. 3. What­ever the occasion was, yet the reasoning used in those Disputes is to prove their being separated from Christ from their being se­parated from the External Communion of the Visible Church. §. XXX.

§ I BUT to speak yet more closely to the Case of Prayer, I consider further 7. That the Scriptures give us no encou­ragement to believe that any Prayers shall be heard which are made out of the Communion of the Church, or even in the behalf of those who are so, excepting those which are for their conversion. And no Prayers can be thought to supply the want of the Sacarments but only such concerning which the Person who makes them may be confident that they shall find acceptance. I know this will look like a Paradox to them who have been ac­customed to believe otherwise. But I shall intreat them to con­sider what I shall say concerning it impartially, because they are very highly concerned if they should prove mistaken concern­ing it. Of all the Apostles St. John is the only Person concerning whom we have reason to be confident that he lived to see the open separation of the Hereticks from the Church's Communion, at least so as to convene in opposite Assemblies. Hegesippus assures us that till Trajans time, the Church of Hierusalem, at least,Apud Eus. L. III. Hist. Eccl. C. 32. L. IV.22. continued a pure Virgin. So far he says that if there were any of them, they did yet [...], lurk in dark dens, a Meta­phor taken from hurtful Beasts; But that after the Apostles were all gone by different sorts of deaths, and that that generation was past of them who had had the honour to hear the Divine wisdome with their own ears; then began the conspiracy of Atheistical Error by the deceit of other Masters, who, when none of the Apostles were now left to confront them, had then the confidence to preach up their [...] in opposition to the Preaching of the Truth. Though [Page 214] the Case be here mentioned only of Hierusalem, yet the reason extends to all other places whilest any Member of the Apostles were living. And it is very probable that it was in memory of these happy times of Unity as far as he was capable of remem­bring them, which was not very far, that St. Ep. ad Florin. apud Eus. L. v. c. 20. Irenaeus tells us that Polycarp, when he saw the multitude of Heresies in the se­cond Century used to cry out, O God to what times hast thou reserved us! From St. John therefore we have reason to expect that he should speak more distinctly to our Case than any of the rest because he lived to see more of it than they did.

§ II AND in him we have our Saviours Intercession on Earth, no doubt a pattern of what we have reason to believe is continued by him in Heaven, only for Members of the Church: I John XVII.9. pray for them. I pray not for the World, but for them whom thou hast gi­ven me. And least we should understand this Intercession to have been proper for the Age wherein it was made, he afterwards ex­pressly adds: v.20. I pray not for them only, but for all those who shall hereafter believe on me through their word. Here we find that the Prayer of Christ is expressly confined to those, and those alone, who either then were, or should afterwards be, given him; and that the World is as expressly excluded from the benefit of his Prayers. It remains therefore only to shew who these are who are said to be given him? and who they are who are signified un­der the Notion of the World? Which are the rather to be ex­plained because of the Popular mistakes, concerning both, of them who chuse rather to bring their Notions to the Scriptures than to deduce them from them.

§ III AS to the meaning therefore of this giving, if we may judg of it by the Parallel expressions here used concerning it, it will rather imply a giving by external Profession, than of a giving of Predestination, in the sense wherein Predestination is commonly understood, that is such as is infallible in the event. For thus it is explained by their v.8. knowing assuredly that Christ came from the Father and by their believing that the Father had sent him. And accordingly they who are opposed to them who are already given him, that is, they who were to be given him for the future, are they who should afterwards v.20. believe on him through the word of the Apostles, in the place already mentioned. And thus Judas said to be v.12. given him, who [Page 215] yet seems never to have been Christs otherwise than by an exter­nal Profession: Not by Grace, for he is said to have been a Joh. XII.6. Thief, and to have had a John VI.70. Devil in him, before his at­tempt to betray his Master; Not by Election, in our Adver­saries sense, because he fell away totally and Joh. XVII·12. finally, and therefore also, by their Principles, could never have been really in a state of Grace. So he also prays that his Father would v.11. keep them in his name whom he had given him, which he afterwards explains by v.15. keeping them from the evil of the World. But giving in our Adversaries sense, for gi­ving effectually and finally, had implyed keeping them, and therefore could have left no room for a new request of that nature. And the Phrases of v.11, 12. v.17, 19. keeping them in his name, and of sanctifying them by the Truth, seem rather to imply the Party they were of, than any peremptory Decree concern­ing them what they should be. That of being in his name seems to imply their being 2 Chron. VII.14. Is. XLIII.7. LXV.1. LXIII.19. Jer. XIV.9. Dan. IX.19. called by his name as it is ex­pressed in the Old Testament, that is their owning him for their God, their giving up their names to him, and stiling themselves his Servants, in opposition to the Gods of the Heathen, and his owning them for his People in opposition to all other Peoples whatsoever. So that by keeping them in his name is understood a keeping them in that visible Society which he was pleased to own for his People. And the same thing is generally understood in the stile of St. John by the term of Truth, the true Orthodox Party in opposition to all erroneous ones, as appears generally in the same Apostles Epistles, which seem generally to have been written in the same later times of that Apostle as his Gospel was, and on the same occasions, and with the same design, to keep the Persons he wrote to from the Societies of those Seducers who then began to appear. So to 2 John 4. 3 John 3, 4. walk in the Truth is plainly to be of the true Communion out of which those deceivers had de­parted. And to have 2 John 2.9, 10. the Truth remaining in them is the same thing with remaining in the Doctrine of Christ, which is immedi­ately opposed to the receiving him who should bring another Do­ctrine. Which plainly implyes only an external Profession of that Doctrine, and a keeping within the Society of them who did so. I need not multiply instances out of the First Epistle where it seems also to have been the constant language of this Apostle in the matter we are speaking of. St. Peter also seems to [Page 216] have used it the same way, where he exhorts 1 Pet. V.12. and testifies that that was the true Grace wherein they stood to whom he then wrote, which he does plainly to prevent their falling away to those deceiver of which he then only Prophesied that they should come, and therefore still understands it of that visible So­ciety wherein the true Doctrine of the Gospel, (which was then frequently called [...]) was taught and professed. And that St. John speaks consonantly to himself even here also in his Go­spel, appears plainly in this that they who are said to have been given him by his Father are they who have John XVII.6. kept his word. And what that word is appears also from v. 17. where it is said to be Truth. So that as the word of Christ rather implyes the Doctrine of Christ than his Commands (at least when it is made to be the same with the Truth, we have seen it explained so by this Author himself in the forementioned passage of his Second Epistle) so the keeping of this word as true must accordingly rather signifie an adherence to the Profession of this Doctrine as true, and conse­quently a continuing firm to that Society wherein it was taught, than a practice of its Prescriptions as useful and convenient. And accordingly when he prays that his Father would v.17. sanctifie them in this Truth, as he plainly implies that they might be in the Truth without any further Holiness than that of external Professi­on only; so the thing he further desires for them is that his Father would further improve this Profession of the Truth of his Doctrine into a Practice of what they believed which was that alone which could effectually sanctifie them.

§ IV SO also by the World, who are expressly excluded from the benefit of Christs Prayers, all they are meant who were out of the visible Society of the Professors of the Christian Doctrine, at least this seems to be the meaning of it in the customary stile of this Apostle. The World is said not John XVII.25. to know either Christ or his Father, in the same sense as the Disciples are said to have known them. And this knowledg is plainly explained in the same place what it is, that it was their knowledg that Christ was Ib. v.8, 25. sent by his Father. It seems therefore that the World who in this sense did not know him, were not they only who denyed him in their Works by not practicing as the belief of his true Mission would have obliged them to do, but they who denyed him even as to the very external Profession. And on the contrary they who in this sense are said to have known him are they who, whatever their [Page 217] works were, yet at least joyned with others in an external Pro­fession of a belief that Christ was the Son of God, and the true Messias, and a Prophet sent by God. And this is the rather credible to have been St. Johns meaning, because we find it to have been the pretence of the Seducers alluded to by him, that they also pretended to 1 Joh. ii.4. know him in owning the An­tichrists which they received in his stead. Therefore it is that in opposition to this pretended knowledg of theirs; he does al­so so frequently make use of the same word though in a more justifiable sense. Nor does he observe this only in his Epistle, but in his 1 Joh. iii.14, 16. v.13, 16. v.15, 18, 19, 20. Joh. xix.35. xxi.24. Gospel also. As whoever will accurately observe, will find that most of his peculiar terms, which he seems so much pleased with, and which he therefore does repeat so frequently, were such as were taken from the pretences of the adversaries, and by him challenged as justly due only to the Orthodox Communion; and that this is observed in his Gos­pel as well as in his Epistle.

§ V This is an observation, though little taken notice of, yet of great consequence for rightly understanding all this Apostles writings, and particularly to our present design, and therefore I desire the Reader that he would be the more mindful of it. For on this supposition the controversie will appear plainly so have been be­tween the Society of the Church, and all those opposite visible Socie­ties of deceivers who had departed from the Church. As therefore these Deceivers did pretend only to the [...], (if this be that from whence the Gnosticks received their name, who seem to have appeared more publickly about these times), and consequently held all that were not visibly of their parties, to be * [...], [Page 218] [Page 219] and therefore subject to the [...], and to be igno­rant of this knowledg which they pretended to as so pecu­liar to themselves: so the Apostle shews that this does really belong to the Catholick Society in opposition to all others, that they know 1 St. John v.20. Christ and the 1 Joh. ii.13. Father as they are vi­sible [Page 220] members of that Society which professed the belief of Christs Doctrine, and that none other knew them but they; that as they who are in the Communion of the Church are frequently said not to be Chap. iv.4. of the World, so all who are not of that Communion are still in Ver. 5. the World, how much so­ever they pretend to be above it, the same way as St. Jude twits the Gnosticks who pretended that they themselves were [...] and the Catholicks only, [...] ▪ when he tells them that they, the Gnosticks themselves were only St. Jud. 19. [...], and like Rom. 1.22. St. Pauls [...]. And indeed for any deeper knowledg of the Chri­stian Religion than a bare belief of the Truth of Christs Do­ctrine in general, the Apostles themselves could not pretend to when Christ spoke these words, no not till the descent of the Spirit upon them at Pentecost, which was to Joh. xvi.13. lead them into all truth. It was but little before that they were asking him concerning his Act. i.6. restoring the Kingdom to Israel, so that it seems they had so long retained their old fancies that he should be a temporal Prince, which must needs put them into very different apprehensions concerning the whole scheme of the Christian Religion from what it really was. But besides the great design of the Apostle being to perswade his Readers to keep to one visible Society in opposition to many others, it had been extremely improper to understand the World only of ill Livers, seeing there might have been many such in the Society he perswaded them to continue in, and many otherwise in those which he perswaded them to avoid. But the sense I have given is as opposite as could have been thought of, that being out of the visible Church they were in the World, and so were excluded from this Intercession of Christ of which we are now speaking.

And from this way of arguing it will appear that they who were out of the visible Society of the Church are not there­fore said to be in the World, because of the peculiar impiety of the Heresies then taught by them, or because of the peculiar de­bauchery of their lives, but purely for this very reason, because they did not keep to the Society of the Church. This I the rather observe that our dissenting Brethren of the present Age, who neither teach such wicked Heresies, nor lead so wicked lives, may not think themselves unconcerned in this Argument as long as they yet keep themselves at as great a distance from [Page 221] the visible Society of the Church as they did then. Now this does plainly follow from the appropriation of the Gnosticks, who made all who were not of their Sect to be of the World, for that very reason because they were not of it, their Sect, which must therefore also hold proportionably here if the appro­priation be made the same way to the Orthodox Church, as those Seducers had made it to their own party. And besides, it appears from the constant adequate opposition between the Orthodox Society and the World, which must therefore ne­cessarily suppose all who are not of that Society to be there­fore in the World, because there is no third to which they may be supposed reducible. And accordingly the false Pro­phets who are said to have gone 1 Joh. ii.19. out of the visible Soci­ety of the Church, are said to be gone 1 Joh. iv.1. 2 Joh. 7. into the World, and Demas's forsaking St. Pauls company is ascribed to this, that he 2 Tim. iv.10. loved the present World. And plainly St. John gives this as a reason why the seducers he there speaks of, 1 Joh. iv.5. spoke of the World, and were heard by the World, because they them­selves were in the World, a plain sign that he had concluded them to have been in the World for something antecedent to their worldly practices and interests. This may suffice to shew, that they who are out of the visible Communion of the Church are expresly excluded from the intercession of Christ.

§ VII But though this might have been sufficient to shew how little advantage they can have either from their own Prayers, or the Prayers of any others made in their behalf, because none can pretend to any hopes of acceptance otherwise than by vir­tue of his general intercession; yet that our Brethren may un­derstand how constant this Apostle is to the sense I have gi­ven of him: I proceed further, to shew that he allows no hopes of acceptance for any Prayers to be made by such Per­sons themselves whilest they continue in that separate Condi­tion, nor for any others in their behalf, allowing only the exception now mentioned. This appears from what the same Apostle discourses concerning 1 Joh. v. [...] the Sin unto Death. There­fore this sin is said to be of so heinous a nature, as that Pray­ers made for any good things for Persons guilty of it, whilst they continue guilty of it, cannot hope to find acceptance. For when he had told the Persons to whom he writes, that this was their V.14. [...], the condition of their confidence of [Page 222] shewing their faces before Christ when he should appear for the destruction of their enemies, mentioned before, Chap. ii.28. that if they would ask any thing from him he would hear them; he expresly limits this general encouragement by tel­ling them that what was to be thus asked by them must be asked, [...], as it is commonly read, or [...], according to the Alexandrian MS. If this la­ter reading be taken, then the meaning will be that what they who were on Christs side in opposition to the Antichrists there discoursed of throughout that whole Epistle, might alone expect to have their Prayers heard, and none others. For the phrase is not the same as in other places where such Pray­ers are spoken of as are offered for his sake, or by vertue of his general Intercession. That is [...]. But [...] does frequently signifie distribution of Parties. This [...] and [...] signifies them of those Parties. And the name of Christ is frequently taken for his Authority. Thus it is said concerning the Heathens, Isa. lxiii.19. Thou never barest rule over them; they were not called after thy name. Where bearing Rule, and being called after the name of their Ruler, are ta­ken for the same thing. And thus the name of Christ is taken else-where for the external Profession of the Christian Religion. So that, according to this reading, the sense will be, that on­ly they who take Christs part in opposition to all other Parties by an external Profession of his Doctrine, and a visible acknow­ledgment of his Authority, that is, by owning those visible Go­vernours who can prove their Authority derived from him, can offer any Prayers to him with any confidence of a gracious acceptance: which is the very thing I am immediately con­cerned to prove. And indeed it is not possible to understand the owning it as a Party in opposition to all other Parties, without external Communion with those who are of that Par­ty, and external Submission to the visible Government of it. For whoever does disown a subordinate Governour who can make out his Commission, cannot be supposed to own the supreme Governour from whom he derives his Commission.

§ VIII If therefore to avoid this, our adversaries be rather willing to adhere to the common reading; at least thus much will be gained for our purpose, that those Prayers only may expect to find acceptance which are according to the will of Christ, [Page 223] and that therefore those Prayers which are discouraged, are for that very reason to be presumed to be disagreeable to his Will. And to know what they are on which the Apostles de­sign is particularly bent, we must have regard to that which follows. And there we find the reason of this limitation, and what Prayers they are which are agreeable to his Will, and what are not so: Ver. 16. If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and shall give him life, to them that sin not unto death (this is the Prayer suppo­sed to be according to the will of Christ.) There is a sin unto death. I do not say that he shall pray for it. This is the com­monly received reading, according to which the Prayer of o­thers in behalf of the sinner is spoken of, that that must not be put up for him who has sinned unto Death; and consequent­ly, that being put up, it must not expect acceptance because it is supposed disagreeable to the Will of God. But the vulgar Latine [...]Ve­les. in var. Lect. 5. vulgata edi­tione collectis. reading it in the third Person, seems rather to refer it to the Prayer of the sinner himself, that he must not expect to be heard so long as he continues in that state. It re­mains therefore that I now enquire what this sin unto Death is, that our Brethren may understand how nearly they are concerned in it. And this will not be so difficult to know as it is commonly conceived if the former observation be remembred, that it is the Apostles whole design in this Epistle to deal with whole Parties, and to appropriate to the Orthodox Society what the Societies of Deceivers had been used to appropriate to themselves as signs that they were in the Right, and as invitations and allurements to draw Disciples after them. Now among other things that were then insisted on as Arguments or advantages of the Orthodox Party, this was one that in the Orthodox Party, where-ever it was, Life was only to be expected, and that all other Parties or Societies besides were in a state of Death. This was granted on all sides. So that the Topicks for managing the remaining di­sputes of those times, if they were to prove their own Party true, was either to infer that it was the true Party because Life was at­tainable in it, or to prove the advantage of Life being attainable in it from the other proofs they had that their own was the Ortho­dox Party; or if they were to confute their Adversaries, either to prove that their way was wrong, because Life was not attainable in the way observed by them, or to prove that they were in a state [Page 224] of Death, because their way of serving God was not such as had been appointed by him. It had been easie to have shewn that all the Arguments produced by the Apostle upon this Subject are reducible to some of these Topicks, not only in his Epistle, but his Gospel also. Where he makes use of the Authority of an A­postle, there his own Testimony was a sufficient Argument; be­cause such a Person was indeed most competent for witnessing the Doctrine of his Master, and because his Testimony was general­ly revered even by the seducers themselves, as appears from their backwardness to appear publickly whilest any of the Apostles were living, at least it was generally revered by those good well mean­ing persons who might otherwise have been in danger of being se­duced by them. But where he is more distrustful of his Autho­rity, either in regard of the perverseness of the persons he had to deal with, or in regard of the peculiar Principles of the seducers who denied the Authority of his Master himself, which must con­sequently overthrow all his credit as an Apostle, which was only to bear witness to the Doctrine of his Master, yet still the things he either says as an Apostle, or proves as a Disputant, belong to some of these Topicks.

§ IX I am unwilling to run through the particulars for fear of being tedious. The very design of all the Miracles he had spoken of in his Gospel, himself expresly tells us was, that they, for whose use he wrote them, Joh. xx.30, 31. might believe that Jesus was the Christ the Son of God, and that believing they might have Life in his Name. Where the name is taken the same way as formerly for that Party which owned him for the true Messias, and the Son of God in oppo­sition to those other Parties, which then followed the Antichrists or false Christs, who pretended to that name as well as he. And we see that Life is immediately made a consequent to his being the true Christ, and the true Son of God, that he who really was so must give that Life to his followers. And when he had thus proved the credit of his Master by credentials much greater than any of his rivals could pretend to, from hence he proves his own credit as an Apostle: Joh. xxi.24. This is the Disciple who testifies concerning these things, and who wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true. And particularly he proves his own credibility from his presence at our Saviours Transfiguration, Joh. i.14. which was at once an Argument of our Saviours being really such as he pretended to be, when he was owned for such by God himself, and of the cre­dit [Page 225] of him as an Apostle, who was made choice of as one of his Lords greatest favourites to be privy to his most secret concern­ments. But most fully he insists on this in the beginning of this Epistle. 1 Joh. i.1, 2. That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have beheld, and our hands have handled of the word of Life: (And the Life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and bear witness and declare unto you the Eternal Life which was with the Father, and was mani­fested unto us). And immediately after he tells the reason why he so much urges his Testimony in this particular: Ver. 3. That which we have seen and heard, that we declare unto you, that ye might have [...] with us, that is, Communion or Participation rather than Fellowship, as it is rendred in our English. No doubt meaning in the first place that they should leave or avoid the ex­ternal Communion of the Seducers, and joyn in the Communi­on of the Orthodox Church; and in order hereunto implying, 2. That by doing so, that is, by being externally joyned to the Church, they might expect to be made partakers of the benefits of the Churches Communion, which was a very proper Argument to induce them to the external Communion; and certainly, 3. Including among those benefits of the Churches Communion, that which he had before so particularly, nay only, mentioned, that of Life. And therefore seeing this Life was to be gained by keeping in the Churches Communion, it plainly follows, that till they had that Communion they must be supposed to want this Life, and therefore to be in a state of Death.

§ X I forbear to shew how this Exposition agrees with the Particulars of the Apostles management, and with his rea­sonings also as a Disputant: having thus shewn that himself owns it as his principal design, both in his Epistle and his Gospel. That which I shall now observe, is, that this is men­tioned immediately before this whole passage concerning the sin unto Death. 1 Joh. v.13. These things I have written unto you that believe on the Name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have Life Eternal. And then follows the farther priviledg of those who enjoy this Life, that they shall be heard in their Pray­ers, but with the limitation of which I have already taken notice. And therefore the Death mentioned on this occasion must in all likelihood be opposed to the Life here mentioned at the first oc­casion of introducing it. Consequently whereunto the sin not [Page 226] unto Death will be such a sin as is consistent with their being in a state of spiritual Life. And because they Ver. 12. who have the Son have Life, as the Apostle had told them immediately before; and they who had Communion with that Party in which he en­deavoured to confirm them, had Chap. i.3. Communion also with the Father and the Son; therefore none of those sins which did not cut them off from the Orthodox Party could be unto Death, but were such for which their Prayers for forgiveness, might be heard, on the conditions of Repentance and amendment. Nay, on these terms he assures them of a [...], a confidence of being heard in such Prayers. And that they might not wonder that he now supposed even these persons capable of sinning, though he had told them before that Chap. iii.9. he that is born of God sinneth not, nay, cannot sin; he therefore adds, that every unrighteousness, [...] (opposed to [...] which in the Hellenistical style is fre­quently taken for that eminent degree of Righteousness, which the Cicer. Off. L.i. Greeks call [...]) that is, every failure of an emi­nent degree of Righteousness, which might be very capable of be­falling even Righteous Persons themselves, but Righteous in an in­feriour degree, was sin, and that by this means it came to be very possible that there might be a sin not unto Death. Which exactly agrees with what he had said Chap. i.7, 8, 9, 10. ii.1, 2. before concerning these sins, even of such Persons: but especially where he said, If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And he is the propitiation for our sins. For that is certainly the ground of the 1 Joh. v.14. [...] mentioned here. For Christ is by his Office an Advocate for all his Church, but not for those who are out of it, especially as their case stood then with them, who maintained other false Christs in opposition to him.

§ XI And so on the contrary, considering also that Chap. v.12. he who has not the Son, has not Life, and he who has not Life is cer­tainly in a state of Death; therefore whatever sin does deprive of this Communion with the Son, that must consequently be a sin unto Death. It must be unto Death, both as it self deprives of the principle of Life, and as it makes all the other sins and lapses such a person may be guilty of, unpardonable, though he should amend them, without a change of his state, by depriving him of the benefit of Christs Intercession for him, by vertue whereof alone he can expect that any Prayers him­self can make for pardon can prove acceptable. Now that [Page 227] such a Person cannot expect the Benefit of the Intercession of Christ, I have already proved from the Doctrine of the same Apostle in his Gospel.

§ XII And that they did not then think it lawful to pray for Persons out of the Churches Communion, especially for such as had sepa­rated themselves from it, (for concerning such only the Apostle speaks, and concerning such alone I desire to be understood;) nay, that they thought such Prayers to be sins, and so disagreeable to the will of God, as was implied in the passage already mention­ed, appears plainly from the second Epistle, where the Author charges them to whom he wrote, that 2 Joh. x.11. if any came unto them, and did not bring with him the Doctrine of the true Christ, they should not receive him into their houses, not give him the jus Hospitii, which was then a part of Communion; nay, more than so, should not bid him [...], the usual Greek form of civil Salutation at their first meeting, to which [...] was answerable at their parting. And that for this reason, be­cause he that should bid him [...], should thereby make him­self a partaker of his evil deeds. By which it appears, that he who used only this civil Salutation to such a Person, sinned in doing so, and yet of all Prayers this seems to have had the least of a Prayer in it.

§ XIII I dare not indeed altogether deny a possibility of pardon to be obtained for such Persons as are out of the Churches Communion, upon their coming over to it, and their pray­ers for Pardon. For the same Apostle expresly tells us that Christ is the 1 Joh. ii.1. Propitiation, not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world; Where certainly the whole World opposed to us must imply those who are at present out of the Communion of the Church. And seeing Christ is the Propitiation even for their sins also, they also may expect to have their Prayers for pardon heard on his account, upon condition of their repentance, and entring into the Churches Communion. And accordingly they are also mentioned in our Saviours Intercession, where he also prays for them who should afterwards Joh. xvii.20. believe on him on the Apostles Preaching. And therefore also St. Paul exhorts that 1 Tim. ii.1. Prayers, &c. should be offered for all men, and says it is good and acceptable to God to do so, for this reason, because he wills Ver. 3, 4. that all men should be saved, and come unto the knowledg of the Truth, and that [Page 228] Christ has therefore also given himself Ver. 6. a ransome for all. So Cornelius's Prayers were heard Act. x.4. before his Baptism. But all this might be true though all men were allowed, on­ly once, the liberty of being admitted into the Church. And it is certain that the case of Desertors is described in the Scrip­tures as much more desperate than it would have been if they had never been of the Communion deserted by them. As all Persons who were out of the Communion of the Church were supposed to be under the power of the Devil, and according­ly, casting out of the Church is the same thing with 1 Cor. v.5. de­livering over to Satan: so our Saviour himself describes the condition of a Desertor to be so much worse than it was at his first reception, and his last end to be so much worse than the first, that if he had one Devil at his first reception, he has Matt. xii.43, 44, 45. Luk. xi 24, 25, 26. seven (which is usually the number used in Scripture for perfection) at his Desertion, and those more wicked than that which first possessed him. So also St. Peter; 2 Pet. ii.21. It had been better for them that they had not known the way of Righteous­ness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment which had been given them. For it is happened to them accor­ding to the true Proverb, The dog is returned to his own vomit, and the sow that is washed to her wallowing in the mire.

§ XIV And particularly the Doctrine of the Epistle to the Hebrews is very severe in this case; especially that passage in the tenth Chapter: where having perswaded them not to Heb. x.25. forsake the assembling of themselves together, as the manner of some was, He immediately gives this reason why they should not do so. V.26, 27. For if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledg of the Truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a cer­tain fearful looking for of Judgment and fiery indignation, which should devour the adversaries. Here, by the connexion, it is very plain that the forsaking of the Assemblies, the visible Com­munion of the Church, is the sin here spoken of, which will also give light to other parallel places in this Epistle, parti­cularly that in the 6th Chapter. And concerning this it is expresly said that there remains no more Sacrifice even for the other sins of those who are guilty of this. This plainly de­pends on what he had observed before V.11, 12. concerning the several daily Sacrifices offered under the Law, to which the one only Sacrifice of Christ was answerable under the Gospel. [Page 229] From whence he argues, that they who had forfeited their in­terest in this one Sacrifice must not expect any relief by any other, because the dispensation of the Gospel affords no other; no, nor any other repetition of this one Sacrifice which is but Chap. x.26. once offered, neither daily, nor once a year, as those under the Law; nor that any further dispensation can be expected by them who fail of a relief by this, because the only reason why the Law allowed a further dispensation was its own im­perfection and insufficiency to perfect its observers: but the Gospel is perfect, and its Salvation [...], for ever. Nay, he further urges the Argument, that even the Law it self allowed no Sacrifice for Apostatizers, Heb. x.28. not from its Pra­ctice, but from its Religion. For the place alluded to is cer­tainly that of Deut. xvii, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. especially compared with Chap. xiii. for it is the worshiping of other Gods, the trans­gressing the Covenant, Deut. xiii.6, 7, 13. xvii.2, 3, that is the [...] the despising of the Law, Heb. x.28. and the [...], Heb. xi.2. The [...] here, Heb. x.28. seems to allude to, Deut. xiii.8. The two or three witnesses here are also mentioned expresly in that very case, Deut. xvii.6. And ac­cordingly he argues, that they who offer the same despite to the Gospel, not by transgressing its particular Precepts, but by disowning the very Covenant of it (which he supposes them to do who forsook the Christian Assemblies) must be liable to a much sorer punishment. Because hereby he Ver. 29. trampled un­der foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the Covenant, by which he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and had done despite unto the spirit of Grace. For these are the priviledges of the New Covenant, which he had been formerly so much com­mending above the old one of Moses, which must therefore ag­gravate any contempt that may be offered to this beyond the contempt of the Law of Moses. And accordingly this sorer punishment allotted for this contempt, is greater than that of stoning which was the highest that was proper to be infli­cted by the highest Legal Judicatories, and which was the pu­nishment appointed for this very crime, the now-mentioned place of Deuteronomy. Exactly the same way as our Saviour expresses the greater severity of the Gospel Punishment above the Legal by this same instance of Matt. v.22. fire, after he had men­tioned the inferiour degrees by two of the supreme Judica­tories, [Page 230] the [...] that of the Ordinary City Sanhedrims, con­sisting of xxiii. and the [...], properly so called the great Sanhedrim of lxxii. at Hierusalem. And indeed this punishment of fire is that the Apostles always mention as the punishment, not only of those who finally persist in opposing the Gospel, but also, and more particularly of them who should Apostatize to them.

§ XV Now by this way of reasoning it plainly appears, that they who deserted the Covenant-Assemblies, do thereby forfeit their interest in the Covenant it self; nay, are reputed despi­sers of the Covenant it self, which exactly agrees with the Principles of which I have been hitherto discoursing; and that they who do so have no interest in the Sacrifice of Christ, nor in any other, which indeed will cut them off from any be­nefit of Prayers, if we consider, that Sacrifices are only So­lemnities of Prayers; and particularly, that Christs intercession does principally consist in his presenting to his Father the me­mory of his own Heb. vii.25, 27. ix.7, 8, 9, 24, 25. Sacrifice once offered for us here on earth, as the intercession of the High-Priest among the Jews consist­ed in his presenting the blood of the Sacrifice, which had been offered without, before the Mercy-seat in the Holy of Ho­lies, and that this is the very Doctrine of this Author con­cerning it; and that it is only on this account of the Sacri­fice of Christ that any Prayers of men can expect to find ac­ceptance, so that they who are defeated of their expectations this way, cannot expect that their Prayers should be accepted in the use of any other way.

§ XVI I have the rather insisted on this place, because of the ve­ry ill use which is made of it by many of our Adversaries for perplexing the Consciences even of them who continue stedfast to their Church-Assemblies, to whom it appears that, according to this exposition of it, it will no way agree (which certainly must needs be an acceptable piece of Service to those who have suffered by their common misunderstandings con­cerning it, and must oblige all to keep close to the Churches Communion as they would secure themselves from being con­cerned in it) and that our Adversaries may understand how far themselves contribute to the bringing Persons under the discomforts of this Text, which themselves account so formi­dable, whilest they endeavour to withdraw them from the Re­gular Church Assemblies. Thus much, at least, seems certain, [Page 231] that if any be concerned in this Text in our present Age, these separaters are the Persons most likely to be concerned in it. But that they may see how constant this Author is to himself in this Doctrine, there is another Parallel place to this purpose in the 12th Chapter; Heb. xii.15. where having warned them that they should not fall short of the Grace of God, (which is the term whereby the Gospel is usually expressed) to shew the danger of doing so, he produces the example of Ver. 17. Esau, who though he afterwards desired to inherit the blessing, was yet rejected, and found no place of repentance, though be sought it carefully with tears. And if this be the case of Lapsors, to be like the Transgressors of Moses's Law, to die without Mercy, to be like Esau, to find no place of Repentance; nay, not to have their Prayers heard for it, though they should be as [...]ar­nest for it as he was for the Blessing, though they should seek it carefully, and even with Tears; then I doubt it will be too likely to expound St. Johns words, 1 Joh. v.16. [...], not of the sins which such Persons are guilty of, who are in a state of Death, but of that very sin of lapsing from the Church, which at first reduced them into that state, that he durst not encourage them to Pray for forgiveness of it with any confidence that they should find acceptance in such Prayers.

§ XVII Nor need any wonder that this should be so, who believes that the passages of Scripture usually produced to prove the limittedness of the day of Grace do prove the thing they are produced for: Which is the rather apposite to pur present purpose, because this Author to the Hebrews makes the time of adhering to the Church-Assemblies to be the day Heb. iii.13. of Grace, if he carry on the same design in that place as in the 10th Chapter. And indeed the [...] in the 3d Chap­ter, seems to make it exactly Parallel with the [...] in the Heb. x.25. 10th. and to express the very use of their Ecclesiastical Assemblies. And what do we think was the use of that ceremony of shaking off the dust of their feet against re­fractory Persons, for a testimony against them, which was in­stituted by our Saviour himself, with a promise that he would ratifie their censures in using it, that it should be x.14, 15. Mark. vi.11. Luk. ix.5. x.11, 12. more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of Judgment, than for such Persons on whom these censures should be inflicted? [Page 232] Why do we find St. Paul, Act. xiii.51. xviii.6. when he used these censures, immediately to desert the Society of those against whom he had used them, and to forbear the use of any farther m [...]ans for their recovery, if he had not thought the condition of such Persons desperate, and the use of any further means un­available for their good? And if they dealt so with those who never yet had received the Gospel, on their first addresses to them, when they had behaved themselves very obstinately and perversly; and yet withall profess that the condition of Lapser [...] is much worse than if they never had received the Gospel: it must follow, that whatever was implyed by that ceremo­ny must much rather agree to these Apostates, than to those to whom it was used.

§ XVIII Besides, the Apostle pronouncing the sentence of 1 Cor. xvi.22. Anathema Maranatha against those who loved not the Lord Jesus, if by not lov­ing our Lord Jesus be meant Apostatizing from the visible Professi­on of his Doctrine, and the visible Communion of those who were united in that Profession, as a Dr. Ham­mond. Learned Man has proved; and if by Maranatha be meant the same degree of Excommunication in the Syriack Idiome, with that which the Jews in the ordinary Hebrew Idiome, call Shammat [...]a, as there is very little doubt but it is, this will also suppose the Persons, against whom it was used, in the same condition uncapable of being benefit­ed by Prayers, which were afforded them under the first cen­sures, but denied them under the last, which was a consig­nation of them to the Judgment of God himself. And indeed the fiery indignation which should devour the Adversaries menti­oned in the Heb. x.27. Hebrews, as it is frequently mentioned as the punishment of refractory Persons and Apostates, so the time allotted for the infliction of this punishment is still de­termined to the 2 Thess. i.7, 8, 9, 10, 11. St. Jud. 13.14, 15. coming of the Lord, which exactly describes the condition of Persons described in this Sentence. Howe­ver, the least that can be inferred from these places concern­ing the desperate condition of Relapsers, is that, at least, they have not that confidence of being received, even upon their return, without compleat satisfaction which those have who at first come over to the Christian Profession; which was unani­mously granted by the Catholick Church, even in those times when the Novatian Heresie was unanimously condemned by them; and that Relapsing is a sin of so great guilt, as, though [Page 233] every inferiour degree of it be not unpardonable, yet becomes easily so when it is persisted in with any great degree of ob­stinacy and obduration, and which withall, of its own nature, is more likely to come to that degree than other sins which are not naturally so placular, which is a very prudent suffi­cient reason of that particular degree of zeal which the sacred Writers make use of against this rather than any other sin, and which may withall as nearly concern our Brethren, and oblige them to recover themselves out of the danger, as it did those to whom these things were addressed by the Apo­stles. And indeed I am very apt to believe that this was the true sense of the sacred Writers. But concerning the Nova­tian Heresie I have elsewhere Proleg. ad D. Stearne de Obstin. discoursed as much as may suffice for our present concernment. And thither I refer my Reader.

§ XIX However, Whether it were impossible to hope, or not im­possible, that the Prayers of Persons out of the Churches Com­munion might be heard for their reconciliation, yet there can be no reason to admire that this should have been the Pra­ctice of the Church, to forbear Praying for Spiritual Benefit of Religion for Persons, who, as yet, were not actual members of the Churches Communion, nay, to distrust their being heard in such Prayers, if they should have made them. I will not now mention any Arguments taken from the reason of the thing, but only such as may clear the actual Practice of the Church. And certainly there cannot be a more likely Prece­dent for the Church's behaviour in this particular, than our Saviours first instructions to his Disciples when he sent them forth to preach the Gospel. And they were these. St. Matt. x.12, 13. When ye come into any house salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it be not worthy, let your peace return unto you. I need not warn that the wishing Peace among the Jews was the same customary form of Salutation, as [...] was among the Greeks. It appears sufficiently from the Text it self, to go no further, where Salutation mention­ed in the former verse is explained in the latter by letting their Peace come upon it. And particularly, that by this form of Peace all Prosperity is understood, but especially that of their Ecclesiastical state. So it appears when the Psalmist is so ear­nest in exhorting every Pious Person to Psal. cxxii.6. pray for the peace [Page 234] of Hierusalem. And therefore when it is said that in case the house where they were proved not worthy, their Peace should return to themselves, the meaning seems plainly the same with that already observed in the 2d Epistle of St. John, that they should forbear those Salutations, and consequently that they should not presume to pray for any of those Spiritual good things as were signified by them, for such Persons as these were; and indeed he gave them no encouragement to expect that such Prayers should be heard, because he did not under­take to ratifie them as he did where the Persons were wor­thy. And accordingly as this form of Salutation is used in several of the Apostles Epistles, so it is never used but to those who were in the Church's Communion; nay, frequently this li­mitation is expressly inserted. St. Paul prays for Peace, but it is only to the Rom. i.7. 1 Cor. i.2, 3. 2 Cor. i.1, 2. Eph. i.v.2. Phil. i.1, 2. Col. i.1, 2. Saints, to them that Eph. vi.24. loved the Lord Jesus, [...] without following any of his Rivals, to the Gal. i.2, 3. 1 Thess. i.1. 2 Thess. i.1, 2. Eph. vi.23. Churches and the Brethren, to them that walk accor­ding to the Gal. vi.16. Rule, and at the utmost extends his wish no further than to the whole Ib. Israel of God, and to them that 1 Cor. i.2. every where call on the name of the Lord Jesus. St. John 2 Joh. i.2.3. the Elder does so too, but it is only for such as are in the Truth, and for this very cause, because they were so. I mention not other places in their writings where the parti­cularity of their address required this limitation.

§ XX As for the Jews, they did so appropriate Spiritual favours to themselves,Sanhedr. cap. 10▪ as that they did not allow any Nations a portion in the World to come, how excellent lives soever they might lead, whilest yet they continued in their National distinction. And therefore it must have been extremely vain to have pray­ed for any such thing for them, that I may not now take notice of that contempt and hatred of all other Nations but themselves, which we see plainy possessed them by the Histo­ries of the first times of Christianity. And it is very obser­vable that the great design of the Apostles, and that which, no doubt, very much facilitated the progress of their Doctrine with many others in that Age, who had hardly ever been in­duced to have received it otherwise, being not to overthrow the confinement of these Promises (which are the foundation of the Prayers we are speaking of) to Israel, but only the confinement to the carnal Israel, to the seed of Abrahams flesh [Page 235] rather than of his faith; we have very great reason to believe that those great multitudes of them who came over to the Christian Religion on these terms, and who would not have done so on any other, must still have believed this confinement of the Promises to the Spiritual Israel. And considering with­all that of the three Ceremonies of initiation, even of the car­nal-Israelites, only two were disliked by those first Preachers of the Christian Religion, viz. those of Circumcision and Sa­crifice; but that of Baptism was so well approved by them, as that they did not only receive it from the Jews as they had found it, but also endeavoured to prove that it had been prefigured and prophesied of, even in the Old Testament, as the proper way of distinguishing the Spiritual Israelite from others, as it had been formerly of the carnal Israelite; they must, on these Principles, have been inclinable to believe that herein the carnal and the Spiritual Israelite agreed, and there­fore that still the Promises were confined, though not to Cir­cumcised, yet at least to Baptised Persons. And this being an errour (if indeed it had been one) so obviously following from the Principles by which the generality of them were then made Christians; and being so likely to be taken up by those who had been made Christians on those Principles, as recommended to them with the same Authority which had made their Christianity it self seem credible to them: it had highly concerned them who had used such Principles to them to have warned them of the error of such a consequence.

§ XXI And now, if these things be so, they will deserve to be seriously laid to heart by our Brethren who shall find them­selves concerned in them. If whilest they are out of the true Communion they have no interest in the Intercession of Christ, no Interest in that one perfect Sacrifice of his, nor hopes of any other: If they have no Title, even to the Prayers of good Christians for any Spiritual favours for them whilest they con­tinue in that condition, excepting only that one for their Con­version: If such Prayers as should be offered for them cannot be offered with any confidence of being heard, because they are not agreeable to the Divine Will; nay, if they be so far from any hopes of acceptance as that they rather provoke God against them who offer them, by making them partakers of the sins of those for whom they are offered. If at least, neither they, [Page 236] nor the Persons who need the relief of such Prayers, have any Promise of being heard in them, and therefore must at length be left to the extraordinary uncovenanted mercies of God,Chap. 2 [...] which we have already shewn how very weak and uncertain a sup­port it is to them who have no better confidence; nay, if it should prove true that Desertors of the Church's Communi­on, on any pretence whatsoever, though it be that of Perfe­ction, have not the very hopes of being heard in such Prayers as should be offered by themselves or others even for their Conversion it self, which I only propose as a thing too much, at least, in danger of being the sense of the places produced for it. I say, if these things should prove true, or even prove so much as probable to be so; it will concern them all to be, at least, more solicitous for finding out the true Communion, than as yet they seem to be, when their error is like to prove of so fatal consequence, if they should prove to be mistaken concerning it. At least it will follow (what I am at pre­sent only concerned for) that no pretence of Closet-Prayer without the Sacraments can supply the use of the Sacraments, when they are so far from being heard for those great and necessary Spiritual favours which are procured in the Sacraments, as that they have no hopes of being heard at all, if the Sacra­ments be neglected for them. But the reasons given by St. John through the current of his whole Epistle, why such Pray­ers should not be heard, are yet more formidable, that they who are not in the true Communion are in a state of Death, that they are in the World, how much soever they pretend to have escaped out of it, that they are really in darkness what Light soever they pretend to, which comes more immediate­ly home to the case of these Enthusiastick Persons with whom I am at present dealing.

§ XXII All that I can foresee as capable of being Objected for a­voiding these consequences is only this, that forsaking the Christian Assemblies then was a forsaking, at least of the ex­ternal Profession of the Christian Religion it self, whether upon the forsaking them they went over to the Heathen Idolatries, or to the Jewish Law, or kept themselves from all external Profession of any Religion whatsoever, so to avoid the Per­secutions which attended the external Profession of Christiani­ty. But that now there is no necessity of this, seeing the se­veral [Page 237] Parties are all agreed in this, in the external Profession of the Christian Religion. That indeed the Reasons here urg­ed for shewing the danger of withdrawing from the publick Assemblies do only concern the Christian Religion in general, not any particular Party of it in contradistinction to others. That the Reason why Separaters were supposed to be in a state of Death, was because such their separation divided them from Christ who is their Life. That this derivation of Life was from Christ himself, and Christ alone, according to whatever Hypothesis we understand it, whether of the Palestines or Hel­lenistical Jews. For the Jews generally expected that the true Messias should be the Author of Life to them; and according­ly it is urged by St. John, not to discriminate one Christian Communion from another, but to discriminate the Christian Communion from the Antichristian, that is, indeed the Pro­fessors of the true Christ from the Professors of those who falsely pretended to his name. For certainly the Antichrists in St. John seem to be the same with the false Christs prophesi­ed of by the true Matt. xxiv.24. Mark. xiii.22. Christ himself in the Gospel, and concern­ing those our Saviour himself had warned them, that they should pretended to be Christs themselves, and therefore that they should Matt. xxiv.5.23. Mark. xiii.6.23. Luk. xvii.23. xxi.8. come in his name, because they would take his name upon them. And indeed the current of the reasoning of the whole Epistle does seem plainly to suppose this Notion.

§ XXIII As to the Notion therefore of the ordinary Jews Vid. Maimon. in Chap. x. Sanhedr. Edit. Poco [...]k. p. 159. Coch in Exc. Gem. Sanhedr. Cap. 11. p. 317. Buxtorf. Syn. Jud. c. 50. in which they ascribed Life to the Messias, all that they could mean by it could only be that portion in the first Resurrection in the times of the Messias, when they should live long and happily in Earth, but however should dye at length; and possibly af­terwards a Portion in the second Resurrection, when they should not eat nor drink, but enjoy pleasures wholly intellectual. Though I cannot tell whether the ordinary Palestine Jews did believe any thing concerning the second Resurrection. The Scribes pronouncing him blessed who should Luk. xiv.15. eat bread in the King­dom of God, and the Sadduces Question concerning the Woman who had married seven Brethren, Matt. xxii.28. Mar. xii.23. Luk. xx.33. Whose wise she should be of them in the Resurrection, seem to imply the state only of the first Resurrection. And even this Notion we find to have been de­rived to the Primitive Christians, no doubt from their former Sentiments concerning the Messiah then expected among the [Page 238] Jews, and applied to our Saviour when they believed him to be the true Messias who had been promised to them. But because the generality of those who were converted to the Chri­stian Religion were of a more Philosophical genius, and were better pleased with the Mystical than the Literal expositions of their Law, as indeed being that which then had generally the greatest influence on their conversion; therefore the Life like­ly to be expected by them, and most likely to be valued by them, was the [...], not only as that might signifie a Life during the [...] of the Messias, who was to be the Prince of the [...], whom the modern Jews make to be mor­tal himself, but as it signifies a Life for ever. For indeed the Doctrine then received concerning the Messias himself, was, that he should Joh. xii.34. [...], so as not to die at all; nay, this was received as the sense of the Law, no doubt ac­cording to the Mystical and Cabalistical sense of it, which had been given of it by their sublimer Doctors. Wherein are they also seconded by some of the modern Vid. Coch in Sanhedr. ubi suprà p. 365. Doctors themselves, how con­sonantly to the sense of their Brethren, I leave them to de­termine.

§ XXIV Now according to these Philosophical Hellenistical Jews of the Dispersion who were influenced by the School of Alexan­dria, this Notion of Life was properly to be expected only from the [...], and therefore St. John 1 Joh. i.1. calls it [...] in his Epistle, and in his Gospel he tells us that Joh. i.4. in him, that is, in the [...], was Life. Which agrees exactly with the Philosophical Systemes of those times. For, 1. They granted a Mystical Life belonging to the Soul, as well as a Natural one belonging to the Body, and this opposed to a Mystical Death, which was only capable of agreeing to immortal Beings; And, 2. As they made this Mystical Death to consist, not in a ces­sation of Being, but a separation from God, so, by the Rule of the same proportion, they made the Life opposed to it to con­sist in an Ʋnion of the Soul with God, who was thought to have the same influence in quickening the Soul, as the Soul had for quickening the Body. These two things are the express Doctrine of the Pythagoreans, if In Aur. Carm. Hierocles may be believed; and of the [...]. Trism. Poem. c. 1. Aegyptians, if the counterfeit Trismegistus represent their Doctrine faithfully. 3. The God with which the Soul was ca­pable of being united immediately was not the [...], but [Page 239] the [...]. For the [...] was conceived to be a [...], having no certain seat in the Ʋniverse, and therefore uncapable of being enjoyed by Mortals, but by the mediation of the Son; just as the Apostle tells us, that he inhabits [...], the 1 Tim. vi.16. Light unapproachable, that no man hath Joh. i.18. seen God at any time, that no man 1 Tim. vi.16. either hath or can see him. But the [...] being the resemblance of his Father, the [...] as the Author to the Heb. i.3. Wised. vii.22. Hebrews, there­fore in being joyned to him they were made capable of con­templating and enjoying the perfections of the Father, as far as it was possible for a creature to do so. And therefore John i.18· the only begotten Son is said to reveal him to us, and we are said to see his glory in the face 2 Cor. iv.6. of Jesus Christ; and our Saviour himself tells St. Philip that he who had seen Joh. xiv.9. him had seen the Father also. And hence that Doctrine of the Philosophers, and from them of Origen and the Alexandrians, however mi­staken by later Fathers, that the Father was [...], but the [...] in the sense that the word [...] was used against the Pyrrhonians, not for an adequate compre­hensive knowledg, but for any that was certain. And particu­larly, 4. They held the [...] to be the [...] mentioned in Plato's Timaeus, from whence the Daemons, whom they sup­posed to be the immediate Authors of this inferiour World, were supplied with the immortal seed which they were to in­fuse into those Beings, who were to consist of a nature mix­ed of mortal and immortal. So that by this means the im­mortal part, even of the Soul of Man, was thought derived from the [...]. And who can then think it strange that this Diviner kind of Life should be derived from him also? Nay, 5. the [...] is one of the benefits expressly ascribed to this God of the Ʋniverse. So Pythagoras (or whatever an­tient Pythagorean is the Author of that antient fragment quo­ted by the Apud Justin. Martyr. Paraen. p. 18. Ed. Par. sed correctiùs apud. Clem. Alexandr. Protrep.. p. 47. Ed. Par. Fathers under his name.) [...], that I may not mention later Testimo­nies. And, 6. They take the [...] for the whole Arche­typal World and the repository of all the Divine Ideas. And [Page 240] they did not think its influence to be only as a Pattern for the Father to work by, but ascribed the production also of the things to the [...] it self. They allowed it the influence of a Didym. apud Euseb. Pr. Eu. L.xi. c. 23. Seal not only to represent, but impress its own likeness. And therefore as the Son is said to bear the character Heb. i.3. of the Father, so we are said to bear [...] the image, not immedi­ately of the Father, but of the second 1 Cor. xv.49. Adam who is the Son. And therefore among other things derived from him this of Life is also reckoned, That Joh. v.26. as the Father has Life in him­self, so has he given to the Son to have Life in himself; And Ver. 21. as the Father quickens so also the Son quickens whom he will. And accordingly as these Philosophical Authors call him [...] and [...], &c. in regard of the [...] and [...] which we derive from him; so for the same reason they call him [...] in regard of the Life which we derive from him also. For, in this Philosophical language, this seems to be the true Importance of this term [...], to signifie the abstract Ideal perfections as they are in the Patterns in contradistincti­on to the like perfections as they are received by the Crea­tures. Which if others had observed, they would never have fallen into so strange misunderstandings concerning the name [...] as ascribed to Christ. For by it no more is meant than that, beatified men are called Proleg. ad D. Stearne de Obst. Gods in the language of that same Philosophy, so they are made Gods by participating immediately of the Deity of the Son. But as the Sons Deity is not Archetypal in regard of the Father, but of the Creatures, so there will nothing hence follow so dangerous as these men apprehend, who have not acquainted themselves with the Prin­ciples of this Philosophy, as if he should therefore have his Deity uncommunicated from the Father. Nay, rather as the Creatures cannot be called [...], in the language of this Philosophy, in regard of the Son, because they are according to the Image of the Son, so, by the same Principles, the Son cannot be called so, because he is, even as to his Divine Per­son, the Image of the Father. But this only by the way to shew the use of this same Philosophy for clearing this diffi­culty with which others have been so much perplexed. 7. There­fore it is yet more particularly observable, that, by the whole Scheme of this Philosophy, the recovery from a state of Death to this Divine Life must wholly depend on the [...]. For [Page 241] this new Divine Life was recovered by the awakening of the [...], by aspiring upwards, which is the [...] so much spoken of in this Philosophy, by exercises of the in­tellectual operations, and by disuse and dying to the [...]. But all these things are most properly ascribed to the [...], according to this Philosophy. I need not instance in particulars, because themselves make application this way as often as they speak concerning these matters.

§ XXV And therefore if these Persons would ascribe the original of this Life to their Messias, it was requisite that they should hold that as Messias he was to be [...] also. And when I consider the several Arguments made use of by the Apostles for proving Christ to be the Messias, from the old Testament it self, from such Expositions as were not likely to have a­greed to a pure Man, according to the Principles of these Persons; nay, when I consider that Philo in his Mystical Al­legories of the Scripture does expound some things of the [...] which the Apostles do by way of Argument apply to Christ as acknowledged Characters of the true Messias, with those Persons with whom they had to deal; nay, when I con­sider that all the Spiritual benefits which were expected from a spiritual Messias, such as was most likely to have been own­ed by the Persons I am speaking of, were not, according to their other Principles, capable of being expected from any but the [...]: I say, when I consider these things, I cannot but think it very probable that these Persons did own indeed that the true Messias was to be the [...]. Whence it will fol­low that in all regards true Life must be expected from the true Messias only, so that they who are separated from the true Messias must, for that very reason, be supposed also from the true Life, and therefore to be in a state of Death. But then this state of Death being proved only from Principles proper to the true Messias, will only by force of the conse­quence agree to Persons wholly separated even from the ex­ternal Profession of him, not to them who separate only from any one of the several Parties which all agree in Profession of him, which is our Adversaries Case at present.

§ XXVI In answer hereunto, I confess I could be heartily willing that our Brethren could excuse themselves from the danger of their separate condition by this Apology which I have sug­gested [Page 242] in their behalf; and I confess withall that there were peculiar aggravations in the circumstances of Apostates in the Apostles times which do not agree to their condition. But e­specially I am concerned for those severe Texts which seem not to allow of any hopes of acceptance for Lapsers, even up­on condition of a return, and a serious Repentance, which might have been more fit to have been expected than in our Brethrens case whose circumstances are less aggravating. But, 1. If our dissenting Brethren would allow the same candor in expounding other Texts produced by them for their own designs, as they are likely enough to allow here where they are so deeply concerned, they would find the unjustifia­bleness of many of their pretences. Particularly they would find how little reason they have to look on the Discipline de­scribed in the Scripture as a precedent for us now, when they should find most of the Officers and Offices there mentioned occasionally, to have been fitted peculiarly to that Age of mi­raculous and extraordinary effusions of the Spirit which we cannot now pretend to; and that no part of the Scripture-History which they make use of, comes down so low, as that either the Death of the Apostles, or the withdrawing of those Gifts should oblige them to take care of settling an ordinary esta­blishment when those Extraordinaries should fail them.

§ XXVII But, 2. If we may judg by Ecclesiastical History, we can hardly think that the generality of those Seducers did so set themselves up for Christ, as directly to deny that he was so who was so really. We cannot understand these false Christs of any of the Jewish Seducers. The times of Judas Galilaeus and Theudas were too early for these writings of St. John, nay, by that time his Epistle and Gospel were written, it is very probable that their whole Sect was extinguished; nay, it ap­pears to have been so from what Act. v.36, 37. Gamaliel says concerning them in the Acts. And the times of Barcocheba and his fel­low Seducers were too late. And therefore they seem re­ally to have been such as were received for Christs, even by Christians themselves. Thus Simon Iren. L.1. adv. haer. c. 20. Simon and Do­sitheus. Orig. L.1. c. Cels. p. 44. Magus pretended to have been, as the Father in the time of the Law, so the Son in the time of the Gospel; so that they who owned him for Christ, were so far from disowning the true Christ to be so too, as that the only reason why they took Simon for Christ, was [Page 343] only because they took him for the same with him who re­ally was so. Indeed the Basilidians would by no means allow that he was really Iren. L.i. c. 23. crucified, but Simon of Cyrene in his stead. But then the reason was, because they thought the Jews were deluded, and did not crucifie that Person whom they intend­ed to crucifie, and who had transacted the rest of the Histo­ry of the true Christ. Iren. L.i. c. 21. Euseb. L.iii. Hist. c. 26. Menander also pretended to be the Saviour, which no doubt was then taken for a proper attri­bute of the true Messias, but being Simons Scholar, it is very probable that he followed Simons Doctrine concerning the Per­son who was truly the Messias as to humane nature, because we do not find that he innovated in that particular. If the Ebionites did any way derogate from the office of Jesus as the true Christ, it was in denying him to be the eternal [...] (as the Socinians do now) which I have already shewn to have been probable, to have been also ingredient in the no­tion of the true Messias, according to the Doctrine of those times. I need not mention Cerinthus, because his Doctrine was the same with Ebions in this particular, if his Person were not also the same. As for the Vid. [...]rudi­tissimum Pear­son. vind. Ig­nat. Part. 2. p. 6.24. [...] they indeed did make his humane nature an appearance only, that they might avoid the scandal of the Cross. But then whatever reality did be­long to this appearance they did not deny to belong to Jesus, much less did they deny that Salvation which was the great benefit of the Messias, to have been really performed by that Jesus (for that is the absurd consequence which their Catho­lick Adversaries charge upon them, but never charge them with asserting it in express terms) and therefore their denying Jesus to be the Christ, was only interpretatively and consequent­ly, so far only as a true humane nature was an essential ingre­dient in a true Christ.

§ XXVIII And therefore when the Catholicks prove their own Christ to be the true one, and from thence immediately overthrow all the pretences of others that pretend to that name: the main force of the Argument consists in this, not but that the same Christ might have appeared at se­veral times and in several Persons, Sometimes of an Angel, sometimes of a Man. Justin. Mart. as themselves had acknow­ledged concerning his apparitions in the old Testament, so that for all that the Catholicks Christ and the Hereticks might have been the same; but that taking for granted (which all [Page 244] these Hereticks seem to have granted them) that Jesus was the Christ. The Question whether he intended to appear again in the Persons of Simon, or Menander, or any of those other Seducers, was much fitter to be decided from his own Doctrine than from the Enthusiastical pretences of concerned Persons? And for his Doctrine, the notorious Tradition of the Church was a much more likely way of conveying it than the secret infor­mations to which the Hereticks pretended; and that they who had constantly continued under the Government and Officers appointed by himself and his Apostles, were as certainly in his Communion as any Sect of the Philosophers derived their Succession from their first Founder by keeping up the Successi­on of his Chair: that if themselves were in Communion with him, the others who had visibly innovated and set up them­selves in opposition to them could not be at the same time in Communion with them also. So that the principal Argument made use of against the Hereticks was the credibility of the Church's Doctrine; and the principal expedient for securing Persons from the danger of those errours, was to recommend their keeping close to those Assemblies which could derive a regular Succession: And this was not only used by Ignatius, Hegesippus, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and so downwards, but even in the Apostolical Age it self.

§ XXIX Now in this way of arguing, they are not so much proved separated from Christ, because the Doctrines maintained by them did really destroy Christ, as their Doctrines are proved destructive to Christ, because they were thought to be so by that Commu­nion which had the best means of knowing the mind of Christ; and their Communion is proved to be not with the true Christ, because they had departed from the Communion of them who undoubtedly were at first in Communion with him, and still continued so by all the proofs by which a Succession was ca­pable of being proved. In which way of proceeding, it is plain that it is supposed that Communion with Christ could not be maintained without Communion with his visible Church, and in after Ages, without a Communion with that Church which could derive a visible Succession from that which originally was so; I say this is supposed Antecedently to the proof, that the Seducers were disunited from Christ, both because it was from hence proved that their Doctrines ▪ were destructive to the [Page 245] true Christ, because the Church said they were so, and because their Communion is proved not to have been with the true Christ because it was not with his Church. But of this I may have more occasion to discourse more largely hereafter. I on­ly observe at present that they are not therefore said to have been disunited from Christ, because they did in express terms disown him, which is the principal thing which is urged to shew how different their case was from the present case of our Brethren.

§ XXX. But, 3. Whatever the occasion was, yet the Argumnets u­sed by those Primitive Writers to convince those Seducers of the dangerousness of their condition do certainly come home to our Brethrens Case. My meaning is, they do not only prove that the Seducers could have no Communion with Christ, because they did either expressly or interpretatiuely deny him; but also because they had no visible Communion with the visible Church. So I have already shewn that it was a visible Association which St. John meant 1 Joh. i.3., when he exhorted them to whom he wrote to communicate with his own Party, because he and his commu­nicated with the Father and the Son. It seems then there was no communicating with Christ, however Orthodox a Professi­on they made of him, without a continuance in the Orthodox Communion. So the Author to the Hebrews Heb. x.25, 26. does not make the denying of Christ to be the true Messias to be the willful sin of which he there speaks so dreadfully, but the forsaking of the publick Assemblies. And the whole reasoning of St. Paul in comparing the Mystical Body of Christ with the natural Bo­dy, does plainly suppose, that although all Grace be derived from Christ the Mystical Head to the several Members of his Mystical Body, as in the natural Body all the vital influences are derived from the Head to the several Members respective­ly; yet there is withall the same mutual necessity of the Mem­bers to each other for receiving these influences from the My­stical Head, as there is in the Natural Body for receiving in­fluences from the Natural Head. And therefore it is impossi­ble▪ in the Natural Body that any particular Member should re­ceive influences from the Head, if separated from its Fellow-Members, by which those influences are to be propagated to it; so it will also be as impossible by the same Analogy of reasoning, for any Member of the Mystical Body of Christ to [Page 246] receive vital influences from Christ the Mystical Head of that Body, if separated from its Fellow-Members of the same Mysti­cal Body. And it is observable from the Offices and Gifts there mentioned that it must be an external Organical Body that is there spoken of, in which only it is that those Offices and Gifts were capable of being exercised. And from the reasoning, they must not only be the Gifts but the Graces of the Spirit, which are most properly to be considered as vital in­fluences, that are thus derived. And then Persons divided from the Church must necessarily be in the state of Death, as St. John supposes them, as necessary as it is in the Body na­tural that that Member should be dead which receives no vital influences from the Head. But these are also things which I may have occasion to discourse more largely in my second Part, and therefore say no more concerning them at present.