The Dying man's TESTAMENT to the Church of Scotland;

OR, A Treatise concerning Scandal. Divided into Four Parts.

  • 1. Concerning Scandal in the general.
  • 2. Concerning Publick Scandals, or Scandals as they are the object of Church-censures, and more par­ticularly as they are in practice.
  • 3. Concerning Doctrinal Scandals, or scandalous errors.
  • 4. Concerning Scandalous Divisions.

In each of which there are not a few choice and useful Questi­ons, very shortly and satisfyingly discussed and cleared.

BY

That singularly faithfull and wise Servant of Jesus Christ, Mr. IAMES DURHAM, late Minister of the Gospel in Glasgow, Who being dead (by this) yet speaketh: And published by Iohn Carstares, one of the Ministers in GLASGOVV.

To which is prefixed an excellent PREFACE of famous Mr. Blair, Minister of the Gospel at St Andrews, (wherein he also vigorously driveth the main design of the blessed Author in this last Piece of his Labours)

Together with a TABLE of the CONTENTS of the several Chapters of each Part.

Matth. 18. 7.
Wo unto the world because of Offences: for it must needs be that Offences come: but wo to that man by whom the Offence cometh.
1 Cor. 10. 32.
Give none Offence, neither to the Iews, nor to the Gen­tiles, nor to the Church of God.
Psal. 119. 165.
Great peace have all they which love thy Law: and no­thing shall offend them.

Edinburgh, Printed by Christopher Higgins, in Harts Close, over against the Trone-Church, 1659.

The Preface.

THe rise of the subsequent Treatise, the blessed Author, in the very first words thereof, declareth to be the occasion he had from Revel. 2. on the Epistle to the Church of Perga­mos, to meditate on the nature and sorts of Scandal. And before I say anything of this present work, I shall hence take occasion, to shew my thoughts of his Commentary on the Book of Revelation. In my hum­ble opinion, that which was spoken of the vertuous wo­man, Prov. 30. v. 29. may well be applied to the pains this Author hath taken on that Book: Many Writers have done worthily, but thou excellest them all. The reason of my so high estimation thereof, is taken from a threefold excellencie I find therein. The first is, a brief, clear and accurate opening of the most difficult Text in the whole Bible, applying with great sagacity and admirable dexterity, dark Prophecies to their histo­rical events: and yet with judicious sobriety, not re­straining, as it were, to single stars of several persons, that which rather relateth to conglobate constellations of agents or patients: together with a modest, yet a di­ligent search of those things which are not yet accom­plished. Whoever would compendiously have an ex­periment hereof, let him read the first Lecture on Chap. 6. (which parcel, with some others, were sent to me by the Author, some moneths before the printing) And as herein I did find great satisfaction, by reason of the clearnesse and notable coherence of the Interpretation, and convincing grounds and arguments proving the so­lidity thereof▪ So may thou, Christian Reader, be sweet­ly refreshed and strongly confirmed thereby. The [Page] second excellencie hereof, is the great plenty of practi­cal Divinity, relating to all Christians, but more espe­cially to Ministers of the Gospel. I cannot name any Authors work, wherein I have perceived so many edifying overtures, so many searching discourses and encouraging helps as this Commentary abounds with. From the first Lecture on Chap. 3. both the carefull Chri­stian and the well-gifted diligent Preacher, may be first allarmed, and then well strengthened, by that searching discourse on these words, Thou hast a name that thou livest, but art dead. The third excellency of this work, lieth not only in clearing and answering many doubts very succinctly, but also in discussing more largely, by way of digression, many weighty and important Truths, even to the number of twenty five: So that this Commentary, besides profitable opening of such a Text, and handling much practical Divinity, cleareth with great modesty, without any personal reflections, and discusseth edifying­ly as much darkened Truth, as if the whole work had been written to dispute and determine pertinent and im­portant questions.

But now, to say no more of that Work, which speak­eth for it self, being in the hands of many, and I wish it be diligently perused with a blessing from Heaven: I come to say something of this Treatise of Scandal.

And well was he fitted to write of this subject, whose exercise it was, to have alwayes a conscience void of of­fence toward God and toward men: and very succes­full was he in walking this way; for, in a time where­in scandals of all sorts did abound exceedingly, few there were (if any at all) who did stumble at his way, or he at the way of others, endeavouring still and by all means winning and edifying. And whoever knew his way of walking, they will read the same in this Trea­tise, set forth to others▪

In the first part thereof thou wilt find, Christian Rea­der, the nature of Scandal dexterously opened, with the several sorts of it, and the variety of wayes whereby [Page] it is both given and taken, with considerable grounds to make Christians loth and wary, both as to the giving of offence and taking. And withall, many intricate cases are cleared, as namely, what is to be done when the matter is lawfull, and the offence doubtfull: Also what ought to be our carriage, when there is a real dif­ference between parties upon the account of a civil in­terest: Also what behaviour is requisit, when the com­mand of Superiours and the eschewing of offence are in opposition: Also that very important case, is accuratly debated and wisely determined, what is to be done when offence is like to follow on either side. And finally, what course both private Christians and Pastors ought to hold when scandals and offences abound. The an­swer to which alone, holdeth forth a very excellent di­rectory for christian walking toward others.

The second part treateth of Scandal as it is publick, and falleth under Ecclesiastick censure, wherein there are many excellent overtures for the wise and right ex­ercise of Church-discipline. Among many, this is con­siderable, That the saving grace of repentance, is not to be enquired into, as the alone ground upon which Church-officers are to rest for removing an offence: but that a sober, serious acknowledgment of the offence, with the expression of an unfeigned-like purpose to walk in­offensively is sufficient. This is very accurately deba­ted, and solidly and soundly determined. There is also, Chap. 12. a clear discussing of that tickle Question, What ought to be done by privat persons when Church­officers spare such as are scandalous, to wit upon suppo­sition that there is a real defect (in the truth wherof often there is a mistake) yet private professors are to conti­nue in the discharge of the duties of their stations, and not to separate from the Communion of the Church, but to count themselves exonered in holding fast their own integrity, mourning for offences, representing the same to Church-officers, and, if need be, to superiour Judi­catories. All this is strongly, convincingly, and very satisfyingly proven by Scripture.

[Page]The third part is concerning Doctrinal Scandals, or Scandalous Errours, a Theme very necessary for these reeling times. If I should offer to pick out thence points very remarkable, I would far passe the just bounds of a Preface. Wherefore, I shall only thereof say this, That both Christian Magistrates, Ministers and People, will find their duty laid before them, no lesse solidly than ac­curatly, what to do in the case of spreading errour. And, O that the Most High would strike in with His sove­raign Authority upon the hearts and consciences of all so [...]ts, especially Magistrates, in whose hands this Tra­ctate shall come!

But now I come to speak a word of the fourth part of this Treatise, and that so much the more, 1. Because it was the last labour of this precious man of God, and so it is his Swan-like song. The Only Wise thought it fit to recommend to all His People, especially within this Land, in these distracted times (when passion and preju­dice makes it most difficult, if not altogether impossible to speak a word in season acceptably) the hatefulnesse of scandalous division and the lovelinesse of a godly union by the words of a Messenger, who was one of a thou­sand▪ known to be moderate, wise and faithfull, very far from factiousnesse, sharply perceiving what was duty, and very impartially uttering the same. At the dictating of this Part, the infirmity of the decaying ta­bernacle was so great, that he could not endure the la­bour of writing with his own hand, But being now ripe for glory, and having entered the suburbs of Heaven, he breathed-out his wise and godly thoughts to a borrowed p [...]n.

Next, I have the greater reason to consider diligently this piece of the work; and having considered it, to re­commend it the more earnestly to all Christs People, and especially to my reverend and dear Brethren of the Mi­nistery, because it was sent to me sealed from the Author, in the beginning of his last sicknesse, as a Depositum com­mitted to me to make it ready for publishing; which I [Page] performed carefully and faithfully, without the alterati­on of one material word: and having lately perused the Copie the Printer makes use of, I hereby testifie it is the same for matter, order, sentences and words, the Au­thor sent to me and I transmitted to him a little before the Lord removed him.

And now, upon the matter, I think verily that this healing Tractate is so full of that wisdom, which is from above, first pure, and then peaceable, that it will speak plainly the Author fitted of God to bring forth a sea­sonable word. At the first reading thereof, my spirit was greatly refreshed, and my heart enlarged to blesse the Lord, conceiving that the Prince of peace, in com­passion over our putrified sores, had provided this mol­lifying oyntment and cleansing plaister, in order to a cure of the same. And I doubt nothing but every true-hearted lover of Sions peace, who longs to see the Lord exalted, in binding-up our hither-till incurable wounds, will magnifie the Lord with me and exalt his Name to­gether. Herein thou wilt find excellently discovered, the rise of divisions, what hand the holy Soveraignty of God hath therein, and how the corruptions of men, even of the Godly, both raise and wonderfully heighten divi­sions; and how great influence occasional means may have in the same; together with the sad and dreadfull effects thereof; and the necessity of endeavouring unity herein. Thou wilt also find the cure and remedy singu­larly opened, not only general grounds and preparatory endeavours for uniting, but also what things are to be forborn, and what is to be done in order to uniting, and that as well in closing doctrinal differences, not funda­mental nor nigh the foundation, as for union in points not doctrinal, arising from diversity in external admini­strations, and especially practical differences in Church-government, and about the Constitutions and Acts of Synods, when the Authority thereof is declined and de­nied: Yea, remedies are proposed, of divisions arising from the misapplication of power, in censuring or spa­ring [Page] Church-officers, real or supposed. And finally, against the fears of misgovernment for the time to come, overtures are prudently given-in: and all closed with laying out briefly, and yet very effectually, grounds and motives of the desired union. That which I conceive is most eminent in this choice Treatise, lyeth in these two things: first, That this our Cancer is most tenderly handled, in a very abstract way, never so much as sta­ting or particularly touching any difference among us, and yet, upon the matter, the whole discourse cometh home to the very point most pertinently. Herein appears the finger of God to them that will have eyes to see it. The next is this, That the holy Scriptures are diligently searched, both in order to the disease and remedy: and the ancient Church-history and purer Antiquity, is most plentifully and sweetly made use of. The judicious and impartial Reader will, I think, say Miscuit utile dulci, and that here are words fitly spoken, like apples of gold in pictures of silver. One thing I shall intreat, that the Reader judge not finally of any parcel or section thereof, till he read and ponder the whole. Stumble not at his asserting, That authoritative wayes at first are not the best to cure rents. A rent would be handled as a broken bone or a dislocation, where anointing and ligatures are so necessary, as without these, healing cannot in haste be attained. If the question be made, How a man in that case should carry himself? Ought he to stretch himself to the full and put forth his whole strength? Or is that then impossible? And if through passion in a fit it be practised, is it not obstructive to the recovery of strength and healing? Let the Reader remember this when he cometh to that part of the discourse, and he will, upon that consideration, make the better use of the whole remedy as it is proposed. I shall not detain much longer the Reader from the Treatise it self, having added these few considerations, for advancing heart-uniting in the Lord, which of all other, I conceive, ought to be most weighty in the judgment and on the affections of [Page] all the lovers of our Lord Jesus Christ. First, from Eph▪ 2. v. 14, 15, 16 17. the great Peace▪ maker, in offering­up Himself a sacrifice for the sins of the Elect, intended, with the reconciling of them to God, to unite them in one body among themselves: yea, even those who were at furthest distance and greatest enimity, Iew and Gentile, and consequently other His Elect in their several diffe­rences and divisions throughout their generations. He took on HIm the debt of their sins and their enimities, and lifted up with Himself these on His Crosse, represen­tatively, virtually and meritoriously, to expiate them in His flesh: and by His Spirit efficiently to slay and abolish them in due time, by making them one new man in him­self. Mark, I pray, from that Scripture cited, that this complex businesse is the great design of our blessed and great Peace-maker. Also, secondly, in the Sacrifice-feast of His Supper, this is still represented and exhibited, till He come again: So that this standing Ordinance, desti­nated and appointed of God to carry-on and seal-up uniting with God, and one with another, till He come again; at His coming will stand up and testifie against all who comply not with Christ, but, following their own inclination, act rather against His design. And, thirdly, in His solemn prayer, Ioh. 17. which is a speci­men of His future intercession, He mainly presseth after the salvation and sanctification of those that are given Him, ver. 21. That they also may be one, as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. Do not these words significantly and shyningly hold out, what the Mediator is still about, and that uniting in God is His design still? And fourthly, upon this same very ground, the great Apostle, speaking to Iews and Gentiles who had imbraced the Gospel, and in them to all dissentients who love the Gospel-truths and Ordinances, saith, Rom. 15. 7. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. Meritoriously and virtually the Elect are received to the glory of God, and to the end they [Page] may be actually received, Receive one another, saith the Apostle, as it were suspending the one upon the other. And now upon these grounds, Christ our Lord his grand design being so conspicuous, His Supper-ordinance stan­ding as a Land-mark in the way, having this engraven upon it, Union Communion, the glorious Mediator his intercession running in that same channel, and the blessed Apostle making this the upshot of his doctrine; what lover of our Lord, well advised and recollecting himself, dare stiffly stand out from complying with Him, to satisfie their own inclination and habituated custom and carriage. My fear is, that every one of us will look to some others rather than themselves, as obstructing the desired uniting in the Lord. But upon mature after­thoughts, it will be found the mind of Christ, that we narrowly search our selves, every one of us, how we have provoked the Holy One to smite us so in His displeasure, and accuratly to try what yet remaines in us obstructive to this union: and withall to flie to our slighted duty, as in a City they run to the quenching of a publick burn­ing, laying this evil to heart more than sword or pesti­lence. All the vvritings and actings against Presbyte­rial-government, which is the wall of the house of God, have never wronged or hurt it so much, as our ill raised, and worse-continued contests. Our nakednesse-disco­vering writings, what have they done but added oyl to the flame? For Christs sake, my reverend and dear Bre­thren, hearken to this word in season, from the Oracles of God, and treasures of pure Antiquity, pointing-out the way of a godly and edifying peace. It will be no grief of heart, but sweet peace and consolation, when we are to appear before the Judge of the quick and dead. Now the God of patience and consolation, grant you to be like minded one towards another, according to Christ Jesus; So heartily prayeth

Your Brother and fellow-servant, ROBERT BLAIR.

THE Publisher to the Reader.

THere are, I suppose, few or none amongst us, or about us, so great strangers to the obser­vation of Providential Occurrents in Scot­land, as to be altogether without the know­ledge of what hath come to pass here in these dayes, How the holy, just and soveraign Lord, who sometime lifted us up, hath now cast us down; who crowned us with glory and honour, hath stript us of our glory and made the crown to fall from our head, (though we have not said, Wo unto us, for we have sinned) who sometime made us a praise in the earth, hath now made us a hissing, a by-word and reproach to all that are round about us; How He, who once by our unity and one­shoulder▪ service did make us beautifull as Tirza, comely as Jerusalem, and terrible as an Army with Banners, hath now, alas, (which is one of the most imbittering ingredients in our cup) in stead of giving us one heart and one way, in His an­ger, divided, sub-divided, weakned, disjoynted and broken us; So that Judah vexeth Ephraim, and Ephraim envyeth Judah, and every mans hand almost is against his brother; and through our lamentable and most unseasonable intestine jars and divisions we bite and devour one another, and are like to be consumed one of another; O tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoyce▪ lest the daughters of the uncir­cumcised triumph! that when God hath cast us all down to­gether, we endeavour to keep down and tread upon one ano­ther, That when He hath been justly angry with our mother▪ her children are sinfully angry one with another, and when He hath cast us all into the furnace, we are even there strug­ling and wrestling one with another to the encreasing of the [Page] flame; And when brotherly love and lothnesse to give or take offence, is in a special manner called-for, love did never wax▪ more cold, nor offences more abound. Now, when our Church thus in a manner distracted and drunk with the wine of asto­nishment, is in so sad a posture, and but few of the sons she hath brought forth to guide her or take her by the hand, they all almost fainting and lying at the head of every street as it were so many wild bulls in a net, full of the fury of the Lord and of the rebuke of our God; Then steppeth forth (the Spirit of the Lord coming upon him) one of her sons, the Author of this excellent Treatise concerning Scandal (having made some serious essayes before to take his mother by the hand, though but with small acceptance with many of his Brethren, for which, it may be, the jealous God was in part provoked to remove him) whereby, as by his latter Will and Testament, especially to the Ministers of the Church of Scot­land, he doth again renew his formerly fruitlesse and un­successfull attempt: In which Treatise as there breatheth a far more sweet and savoury spirit▪ than in most, if not all of the Papers published upon occasion of our late lamentable differences, (which I hope will by none be looked upon as any reflection) So there is throughout a most strong and fragrant smell of more than ordinary piety, that it may be averred of him, as once it was of Cyril of Jerusalem, in his last and best dayes, he was magnae sanctimoniae vir, a man of emi­nent sanctity: It plainly also speaketh forth special acquaint­ance with the Scriptures (for, in all his discourses (as it's said of Basil) he doth exquisitly mingle divine testimo­nies of Scripture, that they are like precious stones, not sewed to, but bred in purple cloathes) and intimacy with the mind of God, as to what may be duty under the various dispensations of his providence, So that it may be said of him, he was a man that had understanding of the times, and knew what Israel ought to do; for he doth with admirable perspicacity take up▪ and with no lesse dexterity direct unto, what ought to be done in this, and that, and the other case, as a most skilfull Anatomist dissecting the whole complex body of duties in reference to ordinary and extraordinary cases [Page] and emergents, never missing, as it were, one lith or joynt▪ and like a left-handed Benjamite, that in the greatest in­tricacies, and gravest difficulties can sling stones at an hairs breadth and not misse. It savoureth likewise all-along of [...] most sharp, strong and pregnant wit, in supposing cases, proposing pertinent overtures and expedients, in disposing of arguments, framing distinctions, anticipating objections, in cautious guarding against mistakes and inconveniences, &c. So that it's verified of him what was once said of Origen, Origenis ingenium sufficiebat ad omnia perdiscenda, he had such pregnancy of wit that he could reach any thing; and of Joseph Scaliger, he was portentosi inge­nii vir, a man of a stupendious wit. It discovereth withall so very great insight in Church-history and Writings of the ancient Fathers, where with it is every where most beau­tifully illuminate, that it may well be said of him, as once of sweet Bucholtzer, that one would have thought univer­sam antiquitatem in ejus pectusculo latuisse recondit [...]m, that all antiquity lay hid in his breast; and of famous Mr. Holland, Regius Professor of Divinity in Oxford, Adeo familiaris erat cum Patribus ac si ipse pater, He was so familiarly acquainted with the Fathers as if himself had been one of them. As for his stile and manner of expressing himself, it savoureth very much of the primitive and Gospel-simplicity, So that what is spoken to the commendation of Basil by a learned man, may fitly be applied to the Author, The Reader will find in him a sim­ple and natural form of speech, flowing from his holy breast, much drained of all humane passions; And that which is said of Ambrose, he studied non aures titillare, sed corda pungere, not to tickle and please ears, but to prick hearts: As likewise that which is said of another great man, His words were, non inflantia sed inflam­mantia, not inflating but inflaming: He sheweth him­self here many wayes to have been indeed a great man; but I (having been his Colleague in the Ministery and of his very intimate acquaintance for some years) knew him to be such more particularly and several other wayes, So that while I [Page] reflect upon, and call to remembrance what I have seen in, and heard from him, I am constrained to say, as once Urba­nus Regius (a man much more able indeed to discern) said of Luther, upon occasion of a conference with him, Semper fuit mihi magnus, at jam mihi maximus est; vidi enim praesens & audivi quae nullo calamo tradi possunt ab­sentibus, He was alwayes to me a great man, but now very great; for I saw and heard things when I was present with him, which can hardly by any pen be communicated to those that were absent. In a word, as to the whole Treatise, it may, I think, without any hyper­bole be said, that it is universally most profitable and sea­sonably beautiful; For, in the first part of it concerning Scandal in the general (excellently compended and com­mended as all the rest are, by the stately-styling profound and precious Prefacer, like-minded in all these things with the blessed Author, whose sage mind in them, and not the lesse because of this co-incidency, would be more laid weight upon, lest we be put out of time to lament also the losse of such a Healer and Piller in this sorely sick and shaken Church) In the first part, I say, the ancient, primitive, long-dead, buried, and almost-forgotten tendernesse in the matter of Offence (a specially-adorning requisit to a Christian and Gospel-becoming conversation) is again rivived and por­traied as risen from the dead with a most amiable and come­ly countenance and taking aspect, so that it forceth the serious beholders to say, Peace be upon as many as walk ac­cording to this Rule. In the second part concerning Scan­dals as they are the object of Church-censures, there is a very compleat and compact directory according to the Scripture­pattern for Church-officers how to manage the great Ordi­nance of Discipline in its exercise▪ which, if it were diligently and conscienciously followed in the several steps of it, (as it was most convincingly so by the Author himself) would un­doubtedly make that work both much more easie and much more succesfull than it useth ordinarily to be. In the third part concerning Scandalous Errours, wonderfully suited to this time of so great infection, sicknesse and mortality, by [Page] the raging plague and botch of errour, exceedingly gathered to a head, ripened and made to break and run out, to▪ the in­fecting, in a manner, of the very air wherein the Churches of these Nations breath, by the heat and warmnesse afforded to it from a lamentable liberty and vast Toleration; In this third part, I say, there is, as it were, a Physicians Shop, full of choice preservatives against, and soveraign remedies of, poy­sonable errours and heresies. In the fourth part, concerning Scandalous Divisions, he doth, as another Irenaeus, with much meeknesse of wisdom and singular moderation of spirit, without any the least reflection or irritation, most tenderly, singly, unbyassedly and impartially, and most affectionatly, as a man burnt with the offence that waiteth on divisions amongst godly Ministers especially, strongly endeavour an innocent and wholesom union and composure, so that (as an eminent, aged and experienced servant of Iesus Christ, whose praise is in the Gospel throughout all these Churches, when he first saw this Piece in writ, said) it will be unwelcom to none but such as are led with a bitter spirit; to which may well be added, that as it's reported of Nazianzen, he was of such authority in the Greek Churches, that whosoever durst oppose his testimony, was suspected to be an Heretick: So may it be said of the piously and prudently-peaceable, and healing-spirited Author, that he deserveth to be of such authority, at least in the Scottish Church, that whoever shall adventure to oppose (as it's hoped none will) his wise, harm­lesse, holy and healing Overtures, may be suspected to be no great friend to the union and peace of this afflicted and rent Church. I will not, Christian Reader, detain thee any longer from perusing this notable Tractate, but shall only offer to thy grave and serious consideration these two things, which I suppose will not a little commend the same unto thee, especi­ally as to the last part of it; one is▪ That the Author, when he was (but a very little before his last sicknesse, and after his finishing the three first parts) most unexpectedly surprised with a motion suggested to him anent the expediency of hand­ling somewhat of the Scandal of Divisions, it did so ex­ceedingly affright him, and had such astonishing influence up­on [Page] him through the apprehended difficulty and ticklishnesse of the subject (so tender was he) that (as himself did to some afterward professe) he sunk down in his seat, and yet being convinced of the necessity of saying somewhat to it, the Lord having withall helped him in the other parts, he durst not forbear; whereupon this choice discourse (for it was no [...] divided in Chapters till afterward) did follow, much whereof I know and am perswaded did occur and was given unto him inter dictandum. The other thing is, That sometimes be­fore his death to some friends, he did humbly and gravely call it his Testament to the Church of Scotland; which Testament and Latter-will of a dead, but yet speaking­faithfull servant of God, will, I hope, in due time be con­firmed by all godly, judicious, sober, peaceable and unpreju­dicate men, as containing in it a most excellent and enriching Legacy, worthy to be put into the Churches Treasury. Now, that it may go forth with a rich blessing from the God of truth and peace, to all the honest-hearted lo [...]ers of the truth in peace, for the advancement of truth and a holy peace, is the desire of him, who desireth to be

Thine to serve thee in the Gospel of Peace, J. C.

The Contents.

  • THe rise of the Treatise, pag. 1, 2. The ground [...] of it, p. 2, 3.
PART I. Concerning Scandal in the general, The sum of it, p. 4.
CHAP. 1.
COncerning several distinctions of Scandal, p. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14.
CHAP. 2.
Holding forth what offence is not, and what it is, p. 15, 16, 17.
CHAP. 3.
Concerning the several wayes that offence may be given, p. 17, 18, 19, 20, 21.
CHAP. 4.
Concerning that upon which offence worketh, or the several wayes by which it is taken, p. 21, 22, 23.
CHAP. 5.
Concerning what ought to make men loth and wary as to the giving of offence, p. 23, 24, 25.
CHAP. 6.
Holding forth the difficulty to lye mainly in practice, and shewing how far offence ought to have influence on a Christian in his walk, p. 25, 26, 27, 28, 29.
CHAP. 7.
Shewing what the Scandal of the Pharisees or malicious is, and clearing several other important questions, p. 29. as, What is to be done when men stand not to offend us, p. 30. What, when the matter is lawfull, and the offence doubtfull [...] p. 30, 31. What, if sufficient pains have been taken to inform, [...]or preventing of mens taking offence? p. 31, 32. What is to [...] [...]one when there is a real difference betwixt parties upon [...]dac count of a civil interest? p. 32, 33. What is to be done [Page] when the Commands of Magistrates and Offence are in oppo­sition? p. 34, 35. What is to be done when offence is like to follow on either side? p. 35, 36, 37. What when doing will offend the weak and tender, and irritate the perverse, & contra? p. 37, 38, 39.
CHAP. 8.
Holding forth what is called-for when offences abound, in several directions, p. 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48.
CHAP. 9.
Holding forth what ought to be the carriage of Ministers when offences abound, p. 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 44, 55.
PART II. Concerning Publick Scandals, or Scandals as they are the object of Church-censures; and more particularly as they are practical, or in practice.
CHAP. 1.
SHewing that every offence is not publick, and when it is so, p. 56, 57, 58. When a Scandal is to be brought to publick, p. 58, 59. Where offences are publick, yet difference is to be made, p. 60, 61.
CHAP. 2.
Concerning what order is to be keeped in the following of publick Scandals, p. 62. Herein the ends of discipline would be respected, which are set down, p. 62, 63. All offences of the same kind not alway to be equally dealt with, p. 63, 64. What is to be guarded against when there is a different way ta­ken for censuring of the same offences, p. 64, 65. How Church­officers ought to carry in Censures, p. 65, 66, 67, 68. How Discipline is to be ordered so, as it may not mar, but further the Word, p. 69, 70.
CHAP. 3.
Shewing that Christs order and method, Matth. 18. is to be keeped, and what it doth imply, p. 71, 72, 73, 74, 75.
CHAP. 4.
Holding forth the frame wherewith Church-officers ought to proceed in Censure, and helps towards the same, p. 76, 77, 78. Church-processes would be carried-on with expedition, the reasons why, p. 79.
[Page]CHAP 5.
Concerning what is to be done when offending persons give no satisfaction, p. 80, 81, 82, 83. When is a person to be ac­counted obstinate, p. 83, 84. What is to be done when an offence is not grosse, and yet hath contempt with it, p. 85.
CHAP. 6.
Concerning what is to be accounted satisfying as to the sisting of process and removing of the offence, p. 86. What kind of satisfaction is not sufficient for making a Church-judicatory to sist their processes, p. 86, 87. How dissembling may be disco­vered when a person maketh offer of satisfaction, p. 87.
CHAP. 7.
Shewing what is not necessary to satisfaction; where it is cleared, that the saving grace of repentan [...]e, or godly sincerity therein, is not the alone ground upon which Church-officers are to rest satisfied, p. 88, 89, 90, 91, 92.
CHAP. 8.
Holding forth what may be satisfying, to wit, a sober, serious acknowledgment of the offence, with the expression of an un­fained-like purpose to walk inoffensively for the time to come, p. 93, 94. How moral seriousness may be discerned, p. 94, 95▪ If alwayes charity should judge a person sincere, who is thus morally serious, p. 95, 96, 97, 98. If not, upon what account is this morally-serious profession to be accepted as satisfying, p. 99. That this moral seriousness is sufficient, confirmed by several reasons, p. 100, 101, 102, 103, 104. Some differences betwixt the key of Doctrine and the key of Discipline are as­signed for further confirming of this, p 104 105, 106, 107. That such a profession was satisfying for admitting to Ordinances amongst the Jews after uncleanness, and therefore ought to be so now, proved, p. 107, 108.
CHAP. 9.
Concerning what is to be done when men appear neither se­rious nor obstinat, p. 109. How a publick rebuke is to be given, ibid If it be alwayes necessary that the offender speak in publick when he is rebuked, p. 110. How an offender is to be reckoned after a publick rebuke, p. 111. If an offence may at first instant be brought to publick, p. 112. When an offence is to be accounted publick, p. 113, 114, 115, 116, 117.
CHAP. 10.
Clearing whether in Church-processes an Accuser be alwayes necessary, p. 118, 119, 120.
[Page]CHAP. 11.
Concerning what is to be done when the complaint is, some injury done to the complainer, p. 121, 122, 123. What is to be done when a Calumniator, being complained of, offereth to make out the thing, p. 123, 124 What if a profane confessing party refuse to give satisfaction, p. 125.
CHAP. 12.
Concerning what ought to be done by private persons, when Church-officers spare such as are scandalous, p▪ 126, 127, 128. They are to continue in the discharge of the duties of their sta­tions, and not to separate from the communion of the Church, nor withdraw from the Ordinances, but to count themselves exonered in holding fast their own integrity, since their con­sciences are not defiled by the presence of scandalous persons, as is cleared by several pregnant arguments, p. 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135. For further confirming of this, there is a particular consideration of 1 Cor. 11. v. 17, 18, &c. p. 136, 137, 138, 139, 140.
CHAP. 13.
Shewing more particularly what it is that private persons are called unto in such a case, p. 141, 142. Why it is necessary to ac­quiesce in the Churches determination as to practice, p. 143, 144, 145. which is confirmed by those three New-England Divines, Cotton, Hooker, and Norton, p. 145, 146, 147.
CHAP. 14.
Clearing whether the Ordinances of Christ be any way pol­luted by corrupt fellow-worshippers, p. 147, 148, 149, 150, 151.
CHAP. 15.
Shewing if any thing further in any imaginable case be allow­ed to privat Christians, p. 151, 152, 153.
PART III. Concerning Doctrinal Scandals, or Scandalous Errors.
CHAP. 1.
HOlding forth the expediency of handling this matter, p. 154. Errour vented by those who are corrupted therewith, is no lesse scandalous, and no lesse to be accounted so than grosse practices, p. 155, 156.
CHAP. 2.
Concerning the spreading of errour; Gods displeasure at [Page] the suffering thereof, and the fainting even of good men in re­straining the same, p. 157. What height delusions of this kind may come unto, p. 158, 159. with what use may be made of the same, p. 159, 160. The tolerating of grosse errour is most displeasing to God, and why, p. 160, 161. Sometimes those who want not affection are too condescending to erroneous Teachers, and why, p. 162, 163.
CHAP. 3.
If any of the People of God may be carried away with grosse delusions, p. 164. It is not simply impossible but some may, in a great measure, for a time be carried away, ibid. yet not so easily as unto grosse practical evils, p. 165, 166. When any Believers fall in such evils, usually the Lord singularly chastneth them for the same, p. 166. Ordinarily corrupt Teach­ers set more upon Professors to withdraw them than upon others that want profession, and why, p. 167, 168, 169.
CHAP. 4.
How it is that grosse delusions may come to such an height as they often do, p. 170. What hand the Lord may have in such a plague, cleared, p. 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 176, 177.
CHAP. 5.
How errour may be known to be a judicial stroke, and why the Lord smiteth with it, p. 177, 178, 179. What causes do most ordinarily procure this plague of delusion, p. 180, 181.
CHAP. 6.
By what means, and how, Satan driveth on this plague amongst a people, p. 182, 183. What is Satans method of proceeding, p. 183. How he prosecuteth it, p. 184, 185, 186, 187, 188. The means and arguments that are used to carry on this design, 189, 190, 191, 192, 193. The manner how this design is carried on by Satan through corrupt Teachers his emissaries; p. 194. What accession a people may have to the bringing of this plague upon themselves, cleared, p. 195, 196.
CHAP. 7.
What is called for as duty in such a case, p. 196. What is not the proper duty or remedy in such a case; Sure an abso­lute toleration of all errours and the promoters thereof is not, p. 197, 198. Extreams here are to be eschewed, p. 198, 199, 200.
CHAP. 8.
When some errours are to be forborn, p. 201. Some necessary and usefull distinctions hereanent, p. 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206, 207. Some things not at all to be forborn, p. 208.
[Page]CHAP. 9.
What is called-for from Church-officers in the case of spreading errour, p. 209. What a Minister is called unto, in reference to God and himself at such a time, p. 210, 211, 212, 213, 214 Union amongst Ministers, and their flocks, is carefully to be studied in such a case, p. 215. What is the Mi­nisters duty in reference to the flock in general at such a time, p. 216, 217, 218, 219. What is spoken of the duty of Ministers, doth by proportion agree to Ruling-Elders according to their station, p. 220. What is a Ministers duty in reference to those that are seduced, ibid. Tryal and discovery is to be made of what errours are maintained, and by whom; Then the party is to be convinced, p. 222, 223.
CHAP. 10.
Whether at all times a publick debate be necessary with such persons upon these points, p. 223. In what cases it is called-for, ibid. and p. 224. In what cases it is not called-for, p. 225. What is to be accounted the sufficient conviction of a gain­sayer, where it is cleared, that it is not only the putting of the adverse party to silence, p 226, 227, 228. How a publick debate is to [...]e managed when necessary, p. 229, 230.
CHAP. 11.
Admonition is necessary, and how to be performed, p. 231. The several steps of admonition, p. 232. Some things ob­servable in the way of admonishing, p. 233. That rejecting of an obstinate Heretick, is to Church-officers a necessary duty, and a mean to be made use of for the Churches edification, ibid. and p. 234. What if the person seduced, be judged to be truly gracious, p. 234 What if he be no fixed Member of any par­ticular Congregation, p. 235. What if Civil Magistrates con­cur not to the backing of the Sentence, ibid. and p. 236. Two limitations to be adverted to in the rejecting of Hereticks, p. 236, 237.
CHAP. 12.
What is to be accounted a satisfying and succesfull admoni­tion. p. 237. Some usefull distinctions of satisfaction are set down for the clearing of this, ibid. and, p. 238, 239. Whether any thing be required of Ministers towards those that are re­jected as Hereticks, p. 239.
CHAP. 13.
What is required of Magistrates for restraining of seducing [Page] spirits, p. 240. They are called, according to their places, to interpose, p. 241. They are not meerly to look to outward order, p. 242, 243. That the grounds against Toleration con­cern Magistrates as well as Ministers, p. 244, 245. That total forbearance is not like the Gospel, cleared, p. 246, 247. It's Magistrates duty to prevent the infection of the people under them by corrupt doctrine, p. 247.
CHAP. 14.
What may be justly acknowledged to be within the reach and power of the Magistrate in such a case, and so, what is his du­ty, p. 248. Some Cautions premitted, ibid. and, p. 249. The Magistrates duty may be considered, first, with respect to God, p. 249. Secondly, with respect to themselves, p. 250. Thirdly, with respect to those that are yet free of infection, p. 250, 251, 252, 253. Fourthly, with respect to the Deluders, or those that are deluded, p. 254, 255, 256. It is not sufficient for a Magistrate to maintain civil peace only, p. 256, 257.
CHAP. 15.
What is called-for from people who are desirous to keep them­selvs pure in such a time and case as the increasing of errors and seducers, p. 258, 259, 260, 261. What is their duty in refe­rence to the persons infected, And if they ought to refrain from their fellowship, p. 262, 263, 264. A main part of the peoples duty lyeth in countenancing and adding weight unto the several steps of procedure by Church-officers, against such persons, p. 264, 265.
CHAP. 16.
What further duty is required of private professors towards Hereticks that are cut-off, p. 265, 266, 267. Some Conside­rations to provoke Ministers and others to the faithful discharge of their duty in all the fore-mentioned particulars, p. 268, 269.
PART IV. Concerning Scandalous Divisions.
CHAP. 1.
HOw Heresie, Schism and Division differ, together with the several kinds of Division, p. 270. The Introduction to to this Part, ibid. The Scandal and hurtfulnesse of Divi­sions, p. 271. The beads of this part of the Treatise, p. 272. [Page] What Heresie is, ibid. What Schism is, and the kinds thereof, p. 273, 274, 275, 276, 277. What is here meant by the word Division, the several kinds thereof, p. 278, 279, 280. Division amongst the godly is a thing incident to the Church, p. 281. It may continue long and come to a great height, ibid. It is not easily removed even when amongst such, p. 282.
CHAP. 2.
Whence Divisions do arise, and how they are fostered and in­creased, p. 282. Sometimes various apprehensions of inferi­our truths have influence upon this, ibid. Sometimes the mistake of some dispensations, p. 283. Sometimes different apprehensions about persons and things, ibid. and p. 284. usu­ally heart-burnings at the credit of others, ibid. aggreging the infirmiries of others, p. 285. A factious vindicating of truth, ibid and p. 286. Undue censures, ibid. Leaving the matter, and falling upon reflections, p. 287. Studious engaging of others in the difference, ibid. Too much liking of corrupt men, because of some fair pretences, p. 288. Peremptoriness without condescending, ibid. Dissatisfaction about some persons, ibid. Encroachment upon the exercise of one anothers power, p. 289. Much medling in extrinsick things, ibid. Novelty of notions and expressions, ibid.
CHAP. 3.
The height of evil that division bringeth, p. 290. as, heat and contention, ibid. Alienation in affection, ibid. Jea­lousie and suspicion, p. 291. Virulent expressions, ibid. Per­sonal reflections, and condemning what formerly they com­mended in each other, & contra ibid. Imprecations and in­stigations of the Civil Magistrate against one another, p. 292. Inflicting of sharp censures, ibid. Renting of whole Churches, ibid. Heat and fury amongst their respective followers, ibid. Furious madnesse of Divines, ibid. Diversion of them from their main work to the great advantage and satisfaction of open adversaries, p. 293. Both schism and heresie often fol­low division, ibid. Both sides of the division are often faulty though not equally, 294. Division is very hardly curable, ibid.
CHAP. 4.
The causes why division usually cometh to such an height, p. 295. The Lord hath an holy soveraign hand in this, partly trying both good and bad, chastising also and punishing, ibid. yea, plaguing the world thereby, p. 296. Division burdeneth [Page] the godly, ibid. It hardeneth the adversaries of the Truth, p. 297. Some characters of judicial division, ibid. and p. 298. Men engaged in this division may have accession to it several wayes, p. 299. a [...], by former guiltiness, ibid. present distem­pers, ibid. inconsiderat expressions or actings, p. 300. Too great severity in Discipline and Censures, ibid. Sleighting of the persons, writings or actings of others, ibid. Hunting after credit, ibid. Little condescending to remove mistakes and pre­judices, ibid. Acts that state a Schism, ibid. which are of se­veral sorts, p. 301. Some other wayes by which men may have accession to this, ibid.
CHAP. 5.
What occasionall means may have influence upon division amongst the godly, p. 302. Tale▪ bearers, ibid. fears of Cen­sures in many, p. 303. Civil Powers may have influence upon this by pretending to side with one party against another, and by their weakning of Government and giving men liberty to do what they will, ibid. Peoples engaging and siding in such diffe­rences doth not a little heighten and lengthen the same, p. 304. Applications to Magistrates for ratifying or crushing of electi­ons, ibid. Miscariages of persons differing, p. 305. Occurring dispensations of providence, are sometimes made use of for this end, p. 306. The strength of the tentation in respect of some other circumstances, As personal credit acting under the covert of zeal for God, p. 307. Evil grounded confidence, ibid. A judging of the matter in difference to be necessary and of great moment when it may yet be far otherwayes, p. 308. A par­ticular mistake of mens persons and actions as they agr [...]e with▪ or d [...] from them, ibid. A conviction of singleness in pro­secuting and adhering, p. 309. fear of losing credit by relent­ing, p. 310. fear of hurting their respective followers, p. 311. The tentation strengthned, by looking upon the failings of op­posits, ibid. and by the hope of the ceding of others, ibid.
CHAP. 6.
What be the sad effects of division, and the necessity of endea­vouring unity, p. 312, 313. The necessity of endeavouring unity, granted by all, ibid. and p. 314.
CHAP. 7.
General grounds leading to unity, p. 314. The cure of di­vision most difficult, ibid. An absolute necessity laid upon a tent Church to unite, p. 315, 316. Union a thing attainable [Page] amongst orthodox Divines or Ministers, p. 316, 317. En­deavouring union doth not infer union in all points of judge­ment and practice, but may stand with several defects, p. 317, 318, 319. Union may stand with some defects in Worship, and manner of Government, p. 319. With what kind of de­fects union may be made up, cleared in several Rules, p. 320, 321, 322. When inconveniencies are on all hands, what side is to be followed, cleared, p. 322, 323. What may be accoun­ted such impediments as a tender conscience may be scared by from uniting, cleared, p. 323, 324. Mutual cond. scending at such a time in a special manner necessary, p. 324. Wherein there must be no condescending, p. 325. Condescension ought to be mutual, ibid. What side ought to be most condescending, even that which is right and hath Authority, ibid. and p. 326. They who did the wrong, ordinarily most averse from condescending, p. 326. Those who have condescended most, have alwayes been thought the greatest friends to the Church, ibid. Yeelding in all particulars that do not involve any con­sent unto, or approbation of what is wrong, commendable, p. 327, 328. Some negative Conclusions concerning the up­making of a breach; as, division not to be cured by destroying any orthodox side or party, p. 329. Division not to be cured by incapacitating any profitable Officer or Member to do his duty, ibid. Union not to be studied with any note of disrespect upon either side, ibid. No simply authoritative way is the fit mean to begin the healing of a rent Church, p. 329, 330. Though one side fail in condescending, the other ought not to fail, but to go the furthest warrantable length, p. 330, 331. Better any orthodox side be practically condescended unto in the supposed case than that division should be keeped up, p 331. It was the actings and not the formality of the constitution of Synods that occasioned divisions of old, p. 332, 333. Debates concerning Government most difficultly removed, and whence it cometh to be [...]o, p. 334.
CHAP. 8.
Some preparatory endeavours for uniting, p. 335. Walking under an impression of the dreadfulnesse of such a plague, ibid. and p. 336. Division would be looked upon as having a fear­full snare in it, p. 336, 337. Ministers and others would di­ligently view their own inward condition, p. 337. There would be repentance suitable to what is sound, p. 338. Union [Page] would by all warrantable means be commended unto, and pres­sed upon, those that differ, and by those that differ, one upon an­other, ibid. The design of union would be prosecuted with singlenesse and constancy, p. 339. Union would be endea­voured with all tendernesse and respect to the persons, actions and qualifications of men differing, ibid. and p. 340. Several particulars wherein this respect would be manifested, spoken unto, p. 341. It would be further manifested in expressions of mutual confidence, p. 342. kind visits, ibid. abstaining of personal reflections, even though there be much provocation given, ibid. and p. 343. In such a case Ministers would in a special manner stir up themselves and others to the life and pra­ctice of Religion, p. 344. There would at such a time be so­lemn addresses to God for his leading in the way to this desi­rable end, ibid.
CHAP. 9.
What things are to be forborn in order to uniting, p. 345. All things that weaken the reputation of others to be avoided, ibid. Evil counsel would be taken heed to; neither at such a time in this business would all mens advice be indifferently laid weight upon, p. 346, 347. There would be a forbearing to engage judicially pro or contra, and why, p. 348, 349. There would be abstaining from propagating different opinions facti­ously, and why, p. 349, 350. All contrary acting would be abstained, p. 351. Separated meetings to be eschewed, and se­parated fasts, ibid. Acts and principles laying restraints upon either side, would be abstained, p. 352.
CHAP. 10.
What is to be done in order to uniting, p. 352. There would be a seeking after meetings and conferences, ibid. In such meet­ings there would be an offer made of fair conditions, p. 353. There would be a right way of carrying-on such meetings, p. 353, 354. Contentions about formalities, as also personal cri­minations, would be forborn at such meetings, p. 354. There would be condescending in some circumstances though they should not seem so reasonable, p. 355. The most tender of the Church most condescending, ibid and, p. 356.
CHAP. 11.
What is to be done in closing doctrinal differences, p. 357▪ The first way of closing doctrinall differences, when one par­ty bringeth the other to the same judgement with them; [Page] or, when both parties quit something of extremities, and joyn in a middle opinion, p. 357. The second way of compo­sing such differences, by endeavouring to keep unity notwith­standing thereof, by a mutual forbearance in things contro­verted, which is of two sorts, p. 358, 359. The third way of composing such differences, is, When though there be some medling with such questions, and so a seen difference, yet it is with such forbearance as there is no schism nor division, but that is seriously and tenderly prevented, p. 360, 361, 362.
CHAP. 12.
What to be done for union in points not doctrinal, but about matters of fact or personal faults, p. 363. Contests about these are of several sorts, As sometimes there is dissatisfaction with the constitution of a Church as to its Officers and Members, ibid. and p. 364. A second sort of such contests, is, when faults are alseaged, which either are not true, or cannot be proven, p. 364, 365. A third sort of such contests, is, when there is a pleading for such persons as are justly censured, or censurable, p. 366. There is a threefold way of composing these last con­tests, 1. by clearing the justness of the Sentence, 2. by recal­ling the Sentence when the person may be profitable, ibid. 3. By the sentenced persons submitting themselves, p. 367. A fourth sort of contests of this kind is, when there are mutual upbraidings for failings in a time of darkness and tentation, ibid. These most satisfyingly removed by forgiving one ano­ther, ibid.
CHAP. 13.
What is to be done towards uniting in divisions arising from diversity of circumstances in external administrations, and espe­cially arising from Church-government, p. 368. Condescen­dency in such things, necessary, p. 368, 399. In such things better to forbear some new thing, than to alter the old, without some considerable reason, ibid. Divisions about Church-govern­ment ordinarily most bitter, and of many kinds, ibid. Con­cerning the form of Government, p. 370. Practical difference herein maketh division, ibid. Characters of Government fit for uniting, p. 371, 372. Debates about the Constitution of Synods, p. 373. Defects in the constitution of a Synod, will not easily annul without defect in the matter, ibid. In ancient Councils soundness of matter more regarded than formality or [Page] number, ibid. and, p. 374. What should be done for union when division ariseth about the constitution of a Synod, p. 375. It would be considered how little usefull the thing controverted is, as to the Churches edification, ibid. and 376. This diffe­rence is either in judgment and may be forborn, p. 376. or, it relateth to practice, and so somewhat is to be tolerated, and somewhat done, p. 377, 378. What usually hath been done when Authority was declined, p. 379. There is great diffe­rence betwixt declining of synodical Authority simply, and the constitution of a particular Synod, p. 380.
CHAP. 14.
What is to be done in order to union when divisions are about doctrinal Determinations, p. 381. Such Determinations are here understood as are in Doctrines not fundamental nor near the foundation, ibid. Some of which are meerly doctrinal, ibid. Others have practical consequents following upon them, some of which again infer division, others but diversity, p. 382. Some determinations are of things daily practicable, others only for an exigence scarcely ever again occurring, p. 383. Some determinations are for Ministers practice, others are answers to the questions of Rulers, p. 384. Meer doctrinal decisions about smaller points, ought to make no division, p. 385, 386, 387. How the smaller number should in such decisions yeeld to the greater, cleared, p. 387, 388.
CHAP. 15.
What should be done in order to union about such decisions as have practical consequents following thereupon, p. 388. Contrary practices build a wall of separation, p. 389. There may be diversity without division, ibid. It is great folly to make, or keep up division for what is rarely or never practi­cable, ibid. Union is not impossible notwithstanding diversity of judgment, And though neither party should acknowledge any offence, p. 390, 391. What to be done when the decision is a simple declaration of the lawfulness of a thing, and where the matter determined concerneth such practices as actually are to be performed but in some extraordinary case by civil powers, cleared, p. 392, 393, 394.
CHAP. 16.
The remedies of divisions arising from the misapplication of Power in Ordination of Ministers, and admitting unto, or de­barring [Page] from, communion, p. 395. The ordination of a per­son worthy of the Ministery, ordained by Church-officers, i [...] not to be accounted null for some defects, ibid. Union would not be suspended upon the tryal of the worthiness or unwor­thiness of some persons, but the rather endeavoured, that such tryals may be the better compassed, p. 396, 397. What to be done where there are contrary Ordinations, cleared, p. 397, 398.
CHAP. 17.
Remedies of divisions arising from the misapplication of power, in censuring or sparing Ministers, real or supposed, p. 399. In what cases extremities hereanent are to be eschewed, ibid. Church judicatories their wise remitting of rigour, of great advantage in such a case, p. 400. Corrupt, or grosse and profane men for no interposition to be received, p. 401. How to carry when debate falleth to be about conniving at guilty men, p. 402. Union is the rather to be followed that satis­faction in this may be attained, p. 403. In times of division, rumours especially concerning eminent persons, not so to be re­garded, p. 404. Zeal in justly-censuring, well consistent with a spirit of union, ibid. Yet union is to be preferred to the censuring of some unfaithfull men, p. 405 Union no pre­judice to the purging-out of corrupt Ministers, ibid. and, p. 406. Purging not to be so vehemently pressed till union be fixed, p. 406, 407.
CHAP. 18.
The fears of misgovernment for the time to come, and the remedies thereof, p. 408. The difference here, is either anen [...] the persons that are to govern, p. 409. or anent the ordering of things that may fall out, p. 410. The satisfaction here must be such as neither party is fully satisfied, ibid. The abstaining of union, will not prevent the inconveniences upon either side, p. 411. The thing feared in this case, is not the bringing-in of new Doctrine, nor a wrong Government, ibid. Union is not to be suspended till there be satisfaction in every particular, p. 412. Some particulars to be referred to some persons accep­table to both sides, who may be trusted with the decision of them, ibid. and, p. 413. Such things are not to be decided by a meer authoritative way, ibid. and, p. 414. Better for a time to forbear many things, than to brangle union, p. 414. Doubtfull practices to be abstained in such a case, p. 415. [Page] There would at such a time be many brotherly conferences for preventing of abrupt surprisals by things moved in Judica­tories, ibid. Matters of difficulty rather to be committed to [...]ome deputed persons, than instantly decided, and why, p. 416. It is not unfit some persons be designed to compose such occasional differences as may arise, ibid. and, p. 417. This [...]endeth to recover strength to Judicatories, p. 418. And is consistent with Ministerial Church-authority, ibid. and, p. [...]9. The great Apostle often layeth aside authority, ibid. Se­veral other reasons also are brought to prove the consistency, ibid. and, p. 420.
CHAP. 19.
Some Advertisments concerning the Overtures proposed, p. 421, 422.
CHAP. 20.
What is incumbent to Magistrates and People for remedying this evil, p. 423, 424.
CHAP. 21.
The grounds and motives of the desired union, p. 425, 426, 427, 428, 429, 430, 431, 432: all pertinently, pathetickly and pungently proposed and pressed.

If there be any thing in the Collection and frame of these Contents unsuitable to, or unworthy of, the precious Author, let it not be imputed to him, but to the Publisher.

ERRATA.

Pag.lineread
3526Jews for hearers
4110an for and
45ultadde, after taken
4634way for may
6032light for like
9624not to be
9713evident
1006recovering
ibid35an for one
12317dele it
1264adde, after these
15312possible
16035adde: after entred in
166211 for 10
16727many for away
1684leavening
17110Rom. 1. 21, &c.
176252 Tim. 4. 1, &c.
19512 Cor.
1974Gal. 5. 9.
20418unto for too
ibid27alse for also
2053one for an
21033his for this
2194alse for also
22821for the last an, one
2343commended
24514hath not made
2523burying for burning
26131dele and
2724dele 2.
2897adde, after others
29811crosses for cases
30036in for one
30227suggested
3108aim for mind
3306not as what agreeth
33711constructions
33930of others
35328where for when
36021the others
ibid36writings f. meetings
3771put, after debating
3925dele &c.

Pag. 385 in the margent, read meer for more.

Any other such or lesser escapes thou wilt easily help as thou goest through.

The Rise of this following TREATISE.

HAving had occasion to consider the Book of the Revelation, and being on the Epistle to the Church of Pergamos in the second Chapter, ground was given to speak somewhat of Scandal, by reason of several doctrines clearly arising from that place: upon this occasion I did first essay the writing of something of the doctrine of Scandal in general, intending only to have spent a sheet or two thereupon, as elsewhere on some other subjects: When this was brought to a close, I found the place to give ground to speak of publick Church-offences, as they are the object of Church-discipline and Censures; And being con­vinced, that that subject was not impertinent to be spoken of, I yeelded to spend some thoughts upon it also, which did draw to a greater length than at first was intended, or was suitable for a digression: This being finished, as it is, and any moe thoughts of this subject laid by, it occurred again to me to think of doctrinal Scandals, or of scandalous Errors; And considering that the Scandals, mentioned in that place▪ are of such nature, and that such are very frequent in this time, I yeelded also to put together what thoughts the Lord would furnish concerning the same; whereupon followed the third part of this Treatise. When this was even at the closing, there was a fourth part of the same subject that did occur [Page 2] to me to be thought on, which before that had never been minded, and that was concerning scandalous Church-divisions: To this my mind and inclination was exceeding averse at first, as knowing it not only to be difficult in it self to be medled in, but also ex­ceedingly above me, who am altogether unsuitable to hazard on such a subject: Yet, considering the rise of the motion, and how the Lord had helped-through the other parts, I did resolve to condescend to follow it, at least so far, till it might appear what was His mind to me therein, and accordingly did follow it till it came to the period (whatever it be) that now it is at.

This is the true rise and occasion of this Treatise, and of the several parts thereof, and therefore I have continued its entry in the original mould thereof, to wit, in laying down some general doctrines from that place of Scripture, and if there be afterward any more particular relation to the second and third chap­ters of the Revelation than to other Scriptures, this simple narration of the rise thereof may satisfie any concerning the same: whereof we shall say no more, but, first, lay down the grounds of all from that text, and then proceed in the Treatise, which is divided in four parts, upon the reasons formerly hinted at.

The Grounds of this Treatise.

AMongst other things that troubled the Church in the primitive times, Scandal, or, offence, was a chief one; and the many directions that are given concerning it, and the reproofs that are of it, shew that it is a main piece of a Christians conver­sation to walk rightly in reference thereto, and a great evidence of loosnesse where it is not heeded. On ver. 6. we shew that this was a foul fault of the Nicolaitans to be carelesse of offending, or of giving of offence, and not to regard Scandal; and here the Lord holdeth it forth to be so, by comparing it with [Page 3] Balaam's practice, ver. 14. which is aggreaged from this, that he taught Balac to lay a stumbling-block be­fore Israel. From which these doctrines may be ga­thered, 1. That there is such a fault incident to men in their carriage, even to lay stumbling-blocks before others, and to offend them. 2. That men ought to walk so as not to offend others, or so, as to lay no stumbling-block before them: So that it is not enough not to stumble themselves, (if this could be separated from the other) but also they ought to be carefull not to stumble others▪ 3. The Lord doth take special notice how men do walk in reference to others in this, and is highly provoked where He seeth any guilty of it. 4. The devil hath ever endea­voured to have offences abounding in the Church, and to make some lay such stumbling-blocks before others. 5. It is most hurtfull to the Church, and de­structive to souls where offences abound, and men walk not tenderly in reference to these; so that the Lord expresseth it with a twofold wo, Matth. 18. as being a wo beyond sword or pestilence. 6. We may gather, that corrupt doctrine never wanteth of­fences joyned with it, and that ordinarily those who spread that, are untender in this. 7. That offences often accompany the rise and beginning of any work of Christ's amongst a people; these tares of offences are ordinarily then sown. 8. That some offences are of a publick nature, and that Church-officers should take notice of such, and that it is offensive to Christ when they are over-seen and not taken heed unto. 9. Church-officers, even such as otherwayes are ap­proved in their carriage and ministery, may fall in this fault, as by comparing the Epistles to Pergamos and Thyatira, is clear. 10. When Officers fall in this fault, it is yet no reprovable thing in members that are pure in respect of their own personal carriage to continne in communion with such a Church, the Ordinances otherwayes being pure.

PART I. The sum of it.

THese doctrins being in the words, and Scan­dal being a great part of the challenge of the Nicolaitans, or at least a great aggrava­tion of their challenge, and also being a most necessary thing for a Christian's daily walk, to be carefully taken heed unto, there is ground here to speak to the same, (in a time especially wherein of­fences abound) and that in respect of what is called­for, both in private persons and in Church-judica­tories; or, of private scandals, and such as are pub­lick. We shall draw what we would say of the first to these five, 1. To shew what an offence is. 2. To shew how it is given. 3. To shew some considera­tions that ought to deter from giving of it. 4. To shew what weight it ought to have on a Christian in his walk. 5. Point at some directions necessary to be adverted unto when offences are rise and multiply.

CHAP. I. Several Distinctions of Scandal.

FOr clearing of the first two, we shall premit some distinctions; and we would advert, that by offence here, is not understood that which doth actually displease or grieve another alway: for there is a great difference betwixt displeasing and offend­ing; as also betwixt pleasing and edifying: for, one may be displeased, and yet edified; well satisfied, and yet offended. First then, we are to distinguish be­twixtFirst Di­stinction. displeasing and offending; for, here offence is [Page 5] taken in opposition, not to a man's being pleased, but to his edification; and so offence or stumbling in short here, is something that doth, or may mar the spiritual edification of another, whether he be pleased or displeased, as by comparing Rom. 14. ver. 13. with ver. 20, and 21. is clear: for what he first cal­leth a stumbling-block, or an offence, he expoundeth it afterward to be any thing that may be the occasion of a fall to another, and make him stumble, or weak, or to halt in the course of holinesse, as some block would hinder or put a man in hazard to fall in the running of a race; And from this is the similitude drawn in this phrase.

2. Scandal is either given only, or taken only, orSecond Di­stinction. both. Given only, is, when one doth lay something before another which is apt of it self to cause him fall or sin; although the other do not fall by occasion of it, yet if it be inductive to sin of its own nature, it is an offence or stumbling-block, as Christ saith to Peter, Matth. 16. Thou art an offence to me; though there was nothing could stick to Him, yet that was in its nature such, which Peter had given Him in ad­vice. 2. It is taken only, when no occasion is given, but when a man doth what is not only lawfull, but necessary, and yet others from their own corruption do carp thereat, and stumble thereon: Thus did the Pharisees offend at Christ, Matth. 15. 12. who did never give offence to any; and this is common to wicked men, that stumble where no stumbling-block is, and, as it is said, they know not whereat they stumble, Prov. 4. 19. This also is called passive offence, as the other is called active. 3. It is both given and taken, when there is something active on the one side, that is apt to draw another to sin, and something that is yielded unto on the otherside, and the bait is accepted: This was it in that stumbling-block which Balaam laid before Israel; and thus ordinarily it is amongst men, who, having corruption, are soon inflamed in [Page 6] lesse or more with every incitement. Thus, Gal. 2. Peter gave Barnabas offence, and he took it, when he was also carried away to dissemble. It is this active Scandal that properly is to be enquired in, and is meant here, which is, in short, any deed or word that in it self is apt to make another to sin, or to weaken them in their spiritual course, either in respect of life, or comfort, and that whether the person be actually stumbled or not, or whether the person actually in­tend offence or not. In all this we are to understand, that one act may be offensive in many considerations, as one deed may be against many commands, and be many wayes sinfull.

3. There are doctrinal offences, and there are someThird Distinction. that are practical: doctrinal, are such as flow from matters of judgement, wherein men vent some un­truth, and so lay a stumbling-block before others, this is to break a Commandment and to teach others so to do, Matth. 5. 19. And this is sometimes also in matters of practice, when a corrupt practice is de­fended, as these Nicolaitans strove to do theirs. Scan­dall in practice, without any doctrinal defence, is, when doctrine being kept pure, a person falleth in some practice, that of it self without any verball ex­pression, is inductive to sin. Thus David's adultery was a scandal: and this was the fault of the Priests, that made the people stumble at the Law: And thus every publick or known irregular action is offensive, because it is of ill example to others, or otherwise may have influence on them to provoke to some sin.

4. We may distinguish offences according to theFourth Distinction. matter thereof. And, 1. some are in matters that are simply sinfull in themselves, and have this also following on them: Thus all errors and publick sin­full practices are offensive. 2. Some matters are not simply and in themselves sinfull, yet have the appea­rance of evil, 1 Thess. 5. 17. and thus dangerous and doubtfull expressions in doctrine, that have been, or [Page 7] use to be, abused; and practices also that are not be­coming that honesty and good report which a Chri­stian ought to study, as it is Philip. 4. 8. 9. are offen­sive. In the first respect, David would not take the name of Idols in his mouth, Psal. 16. because others did too much reverence them: Of the last sort was Peter's dissimulation and withdrawing, Gal. 2. be­cause, that appeared to strengthen the opinion of the continuing of the difference betwixt Jew and Gen­tile, &c. for that cause, Paul would not circumcise Titus, Gal. 2. 3. and did condemn eating in the Idol­temples. 3. Some offences are in matters otherwise lawfull and indifferent, though not necessary, as the eating of, or abstaining from meats, or what was offered to Idols in the primitive times, which was in­different to be done in the house of an Heathen, and so was sometimes lawfull, but was not indifferent to be done in the Idol-temple, because that had the ap­pearance of evil, as if he had had some respect to the Idol; nor was it to be done, if any weak Brother had been at table in the house, because it grieved him, 1 Cor. 8, and 10. It is these last two, (and more espe­cially the third) that are concerned in the doctrine of offences properly, and do rather arise from circum­stances in the thing, as time, place, person, man­ner, &c. than from the deed considered in it self.

5. We may distinguish them in respect of the in­tentFifth Di­stinction. of the work, or of the worker: some things may be offensive in themselves as so circumstantiated, and yet not be so to the person that may give offence by them, I mean, not be esteemed so; and thus was Peters offence which he laid before Christ, Matth. 16. And sometimes the person may intend the others ad­vantage, and yet may offend and stumble him, as Eli intended his sons good, but really by his too gentle reproof did stumble them by confirming them in their offence; And thus some, by unseasonable re­proofs or censures, and commendations also, may re­ally [Page 8] make another worse, although they intend the contrary.

6. Whence ariseth another distinction of offences,Sixth Di­stinction. viz. from the matter of a practice, or from the man­ner of performing of it, or the circumstances in the doing of it: for, as it is not an act materially good that will edifie, except it be done in the right man­ner; so will not an act materially good keep off of­fence, if it be not done tenderly, wisely, &c. And often we find circumstances have much influence on offence, as times, persons, places, manner, &c. for, it is not offensive to one to pray or preach, but at some times, as before an Idol, or on an Holy-day it may be offensive.

7. As sins are distinguished in sins of omissionSeventh Distinction and commission; So offences may be distinguished also: for, some give offence when they swear, pray irreverently, &c. others, when there is no seeming respect to prayer at all, in the very form; for this fostereth profanity as the other doth: And for this Daniel will open his window, lest he should be thought to have forborn prayer: and this offence of omission, or omissive offence, is not guarded against only by doing what is duty, except there be also a doing of it so as conveniently, and as becomes it may be known to be done, as in the former instance: and this, Rev. 6. 9. is called the holding of the Testimony; and it is this mainly that is edifying to others, when the light of holinesse doth shine; and when that is vailed, others in so far have darkness to walk in, and so it is as to them an occasion to stumble, because they hold not forth the light unto them; but still this is to be done without affectation or ostentation, lest a new offence should follow thereupon.

8. Some offences contrare the graces of GodsEighth Distinction People, and these make them sad; some foster cor­ruptions, and these are too pleasant: thus, soft re­proofs, corrupt advices, flatteries, &c. minister matter to many to fall on.

[Page 9]9. Some offences may be called personall, when aNinth Di­stinction. person committeth them in his private carriage, that is, when his way of eating, drinking, living, &c. offendeth others, although he hath no medling with them, but live retiredly: Some again are more direct offences (as the first are indirect and consequential) that is, which flow from men in their publick actings, or in their mutual converse with others, which have more direct influence to offend.

10. Offences may be distinguished as they hurtTenth Di­stinction. folks either by pleasing them in their corruptions and strengthening them in what is sinfull, or when they hurt by irritating and stirring up corruptions to vent. In the first respect, too much gentlenesse in admoni­tions, rashnesse or imprudence in commendations of what is good in one, or extenuation of what is evil, corrupt advice, and such like, do offend: Thus Io­na [...]ab offended Amnon, 2 Sam. 13. and Eli his sons. In the last, sleighting of men, wronging of them, or not condescending to remove a wrong, or to vindi­cate our selves, if there be a supposed wrong, doth grieve and offend; so do evil-grounded reproofs, or unadvertent admonitions that are not seasoned with love, hard reports, &c.

11. We may consider offences with respect to theEleventh Distinction. party offended; and so, first, we offend friends in ma­ny respects, whom, it may be, we would not desire to grieve, yet unadvertingly we stumble them, and hurt their spiritual condition by unfaithfulnesse to them, carnalnesse in conversing with them, siding with their infirmities, and many such like wayes. Or, second­ly, they are enemies, or such to whom we bear no such respect, these also are scandalized when they are provoked through the carnalness of our way to judge hardly of us, or of Religion for our sake, or to follow some carnal course to oppose what we carnally do, when we irritate them and provoke their passion, &c. and thus men in all debates are often guilty, whether [Page 10] their contest be in things Civil, Ecclesiastick or Scho­lastick, when, beside what may further their cause (suppose it to be just) they do not carry respectively to the adversary, and tenderly and convincingly, so as it may appear they seek the good of their soul, and their edification, even when they differ from them. Thirdly, we may look on offence as it offendeth wicked or profane men, possibly Heathens, Jews, or Gentiles; they are offended when hardened in their impiety by the grossnesse and uncharitablenesse of those who are professedly tender: thus it is a fault, 1 Cor. 10. 32. to give offence either to Jews or Gen­tiles, as to the Church of God. Fourthly, Amongst those that are tender, some are more weak, some are more strong: the first are often offended where there is no ground in the matter, as Rom. 14. 1 Cor. 8. &c. and it venteth readily by rash judging and censuring of others that are stronger than themselves, for go­ing beyond their light, or because of their seeming to be despised by them, &c. which sheweth wherein the offence of the strong also lyeth; therefore these two are put together, Rom. 14. 3. Let not him that eateth, (that is, him that is strong) despise him that eateth not: And let not him that eateth not (that is, the weak) judge him that eateth.

12. Offences may be considered as they directlyTwelfth Distinction. incline or tempt to sin, either in doctrine or practice; or, as they more indirectly scare and divert from, or make more faint and weak in the pursuing of holi­nesse either in truth or practice: Thus a blot in some professor maketh Religion to be some way abhorred; this especially falleth out when Ministers and Pro­fessors that are eminent, become offensive: For that is as a dead fly in the box of the Apothecaries oynt­ment▪ that maketh all to stink: Thus, Mal. 1. the Priests made the people stumble at the Law; as also did the sons of Eli, 1 Sam. 2. and this is charged on David, that by his fall he made the Heathen blas­pheme: [Page 13] and thus contention and division amongst Ministers and Disciples is insinuated to stand in the way of the worlds believing in, or acknowledging of Christ, as it is, Ioh. 17. 21.

13. Sometimes Scandal is in immediate duties ofThirteenth Distinction. religious worship, as praying, preaching, conferring, speaking, judging of such things, &c. that is, either by miscarrying in the matter of what is spoken, or by an unreverent, light, passionate manner, &c. or, it is given by our ordinary and common carriage in our eating, drinking, apparelling, manner of living, buy­ing and selling, &c. that is, when something of our way in these things giveth evidence of pride, vanity, unconstancie, covetousnesse, addictedness to pleasure, carnalnesse, or some such thing wherby our neighbour is wronged: Thus the husband may offend the wife, and the wife the husband by their irreligious con­versing together, whereby one of them doth streng­then the other to think exactnesse in Religion not so necessary. And so a servant who hath a profession may stumble a master, if the servant be not faithfull and diligent in his service.

14. Again, some offences are offensive, and areFourteenth Distinction. given from the first doing of the action; thus where there is any appearance of evil, the offence is given in this manner. Again, offence may be at first only taken and not given, and yet afterward become given, and make the person guilty, although in the first act he had not been guilty. This is, first, when suppose a man eating without respect to difference of meats as he might do indifferently, if he were told by one that such meat were offered to an Idol, and therefore in his judgment it were not lawfull to eat it, although before that, it were not offence given, but taken, (he not knowing that any were present that would offend) yet if he should continue after that to do the same thing, it should be offence given upon his side. Secondly, If a man should know one to have [Page] taken offence at him, or his carriage, in a thing indif­ferent (although he had given no just occasion there­of) and if, after his knowledge thereof, he should not endeavour to remove the same according to his place, In that case the offence becometh given also, because he removeth not that stumbling-block out of his brother's way.Fifteenth Distinction

15. Some offences are offensive in themselves, that is, when the thing it self hath some appearance of evil, or a tendencie to offend in it self. Again, some but by accident in respect of some concurring circumstance of time, place, &c. Some offences also may be said to be given of infirmity, that is, when they proceed from a particular slip of the party offending, when they are not continued in, stuck to, or defended, or, when they fall into them, not knowing that they would be offensive; and when that is known, endea­vouring to remove them. Again, other offences are more rooted and confirmed, as when a person hath a tract in them, is not much carefull to prevent them, or remove them, is not much weighted for them, but sleighteth them, or defendeth them, &c. This di­stinction of offences answereth to that distinction of sins, in sins of infirmity and sins of malice: which maliciousness is not to be referred to the intent of the person, but to the nature of the act; so is it to be un­derstood here in respect of offences.

In the last place, we may consider that distinctionSixteenth Distinction of Scandals in private and publick: both which may be two wayes understood; either, 1. in respect of the witnesses; or, 2. in respect of the nature of them. 1. It is a private scandal in the first respect, which doth offend few, because of its not being known to many, and so a publick offence in this respect is a scandal known to many. Thus the same offence may be a pri­vate offence to one at one time, and in one place; and a publick offence to another, or the same person, in re­spect of these circumstances. In the last respect, a pri­vat [Page 13] offence is that possibly which doth stumble many, yet is not of that nature, as publickly, legally, or ju­dicially it might be made out to be scandalous, for the convincing of a person offending, or of others, al­though it may have a great impression upon the hearts of those who know it. Thus the general tract of ones way and carriage (who yet may be civil, legal, and fair in all particulars) may be exceeding, offensive, as holding forth to the consciences of those that are most charitable to him, much vanity, pride, earthly-mind­ednesse, untendernesse, want of love and respect, and the like; which saith within the heart of the be­holders, that there are many things wrong, when yet no particular can be instanced wherein the person cannot have fair legal answers; Of this sort are un­seasonable starting of questions, or doubtfull disputa­tions, Rom. 14. wherein possibly the person may as­sert truth, yet by moving such things, at such times, and in such expressions, he doth confound and shake the weak: Those offences especially arise from a sup­posed unstreightnesse in the end, excesse in the manner of a thing, disproportionablenesse betwixt a man's way and his station, and such like, whereof a man may have much conviction in himself, from obser­ving of such an ones way; yet it is not a publick offence in the sense spoken of here, because there is no demonstrating of those. Thus Absolom's insinuat­ing, self-seeking way gave evidence of pride; and such as Paul speaketh of, Philip. 1, and 2. that some preached out of envie, and others sought their own things, &c. are of this nature, which by his discern­ing he was convinced of, yet did not found any sen­tence on them.

Again, oppositly to these, Offences may be cal­led publick, when there is a possible way of bearing them out before others, or instructing them in parti­culars to be contrary to the rule, as drunkennesse, swearing, &c. These may be called ecclesiastick or [Page 14] judicial offences, as being the object of Church­censure, all the other may be called conscience, or charity-wounding offences, because they are the ob­ject of a persons conscience and charity, and do wound them, and are judged by them, and may be the ground of a christian private admonition but not of publick reproof; or rather may be called uncon­sciencious, and uncharitable offences, as being oppo­sit to conscience and charity.

Many other distinctions of Scandals may be given,Other Di­stinctions of Scandal. as, some are immediate, that is, when we hear or see what is offensive from the person himself; Some again are mediate, and so the very reporting of some­thing that is true may be offensive to those to whom it is reported; As, 1. when it may alienate them from, or irritate them against another person. 2. When it may occasion some sinfull distemper, or incite to some corrupt course, or any way provoke to carnal­nesse, those to whom it is reported; and thus offence differeth from slander: for, slander affecteth and wrongeth the party spoken of, who, it may be, is ab­sent: Offence again, stumbleth those who are present, although the same act in a person may be both a ca­lumny and an offence upon different considerations. Thus Ziba calumniateth Mephibosheth, but really stumbleth and offendeth David, 2 Sam. 16. (although David was not so displeased with him as Mephibosheth was) So also Doeg calumniateth David and the Priests in a thing which was true, but really offended Saul, as the effect cleared, 1 Sam. 21, and 22. Also some things offend others properly; as when a Minister faileth in giving of an admonition prudently, or sea­sonably. Again, some things offend virtually, when, it may be, a Minister giveth an advice in season, but in something hath not condescended formerly, where­by he hath not such accesse with his admonition to edifie; Thus Paul prevented offence, when by be­coming all things to all, he made way for his being [Page 15] acceptable in his station. Again, some offences may simply be offences, as having hurt with them. Some again may be comparatively; so it is when a thing actually hurteth, not by an emergent losse, but when it keepeth from that growth and edification, that otherwayes might have been, it's a comparative losse, and so offensive.

CHAP. II. Holding forth what Offence is not, and what it is.

THese generals may give a hint of what is sig­nified by Offence and how it is given. To adde a word more particularly to the first Question, Let us consider, 1. what offence is not; 2. what it is. 1. It is not alwayes any hurtfull and actually displeasing thing to the party that is offended; and so is not to be constructed such, or not, from their pleasure, or displeasure. 2. It is not alwayes to be judged by the matter; for, an offence may be in a lawfull matter, that simply is not to be condemned, as in eating, drinking, taking wages for preach­ing, &c. 3. It is not alway to be determined by the effect; sometimes one may be offended, when no of­fence was given: sometimes again, offence may be given, and the person be guilty thereof (as hath been said) when no actual stumbling hath followed, but the thing of it self was inductive thereto. 4. Nor is it to be judged by the person's intention; one may be without all design of hurting, who yet may really wound, and offend another, and be guilty by rash­nesse, omission, too much love and condescension in sparing, unfaithfulnesse (it being much to be faith­full to one that we love, and, which is a pity, we are readiest to offend them, as in Ionadab's case to Am­non; yea, in Iob's friends to him, &c.) inconsiderate zeal, imprudency, or falling in some thing, that is as [Page 16] a dead fly, which may make much that is profitable, become unsavoury. 2. Scandal then must be some­thing accompanying some external deed or word (for internal give not offence) which being considered at such a time, in such a place, or in such a person, &c. may be inductive to sin, or impeditive of the spiri­tual life or comfort of others. When this doth flow from a sinfull act, it is not so difficultly discernable, readily all actions that are materially evil, are clear; but the difficulty is when the matter is lawfull or in­different in it self; or when it is in the manner and other circumstances of a lawfull or necessary duty, then to discern when they become scandalous in such respects; and accordingly to be swayed to do or ab­stain in the matter, and to do in this or some other manner, as may eschew the same. This properly and strictly is that which is called offence, and is that wherein most wisdom is to be exercised in ordering and regulating us in the use of christian liberty; and concerning this are the great debates in Scripture, that men may know, that not only the Command is to be looked unto in the matter of the act, so that no­thing be done against it in that respect, nor only that our own clearnesse be considered▪ that we do nothing doubtingly, but that others be considered also that they by our deed be not in their spiritual estate wron­ged or hurt▪ that is, to do or abstain for conscience­sake, not our own, but of him that sitteth with us, 1 Cor. 10. 24, and 28. for, if charity and love be the end of the Law, and men ought not only to seek their own things, but the things one of another, and love their neighbour as themselves, then ought they to seek their neighbours edification as their own, and to eschew the prejudging of them. Hence Scandal is opposit to that charity and love, and also to that respect which we ought to carry to our brother, Rom. 14. v. 10, and 15. yea, it is a scandal and offence as it is opposite to, and inconsistent with, love to his spiritual well­being; [Page 17] and so, in a word, that which is apt to make him worse in that respect, or that which may impede and hinder his spirituall growth and advancement therein, is an offence and scandal, Rom. 14. 21. And thus a scandal differeth from an injury: for, this hurt­eth his person, name, or estate, or some outward thing; that, again, hurteth his spirituall condition, either by wronging his livelinesse, or activity, or com­fort, &c. though the same thing often, which is an injury, is an offence also, but not contrarily.

CHAP. III. Concerning the severall wayes that Offence may be given.

IT is hardly possible to shew how many wayes one may offend another, there being so many, yea, so very many wayes whereby men both wrong themselves and others; yet, by considering the effects that offence given, hath, or may have upon others (al­though the effect follow not) and by considering that upon which active offence worketh, and which usual­ly is offended at in another, We may draw them to some heads accordingly; As, 1. men may be drawn to some sinfull action upon such an occasion: thus an action materially lawfull and good in it self, be­cometh a scandall, when by our deed another is fo­stered in some sin, or encouraged to commit it, as supposing himself to be strengthned therein by our practice; Or when it may occasion others to go be­yond our intent, or to do what we do in another man­ner which may make it sinfull: So, zeal inconside­rately vented, may strengthen folks in passion; and thus eating in Idols temples (which in it self was no­thing) was scandalous when done publickly, because it strengthned Idolaters to think somewhat of their [...]ols, and made others who were weak, to continue [Page 18] some respect to them, because they supposed such men, by such a practice to do so; or made some judge them to have respect to Idols, and so to be lesse in their esteem; or, caused others to eat with respect to the Idol, when they themselves did it without it: Thus doubtfull expressions in points of Truth▪ and uncir­cumspectnesse in not abstaining from all appearance of evil, or what doth appear to be evil to such a per­son, and at such a time, &c. may be offensive; as suppose one in their apparrel, diet, or otherwayes, should by some be conceived to go beyond their sta­tion, and what is fit at such a time, or be an occa­sion to some others indeed to exceed, when, without such misconstructing beholders, there might be no­thing offensive in the deed it self; and thus the deed of one person may be offensive (supposing him to be esteemed proud, covetous, unclean, &c.) which would not be so in another: So also, a thing will be offen­sive to one, and not to another. Wherefore, in refe­rence to Offence, men would have an eye on them­selves, and what generally they are reputed to be, and so would abstain from the least appearance of what is supposed to be predominant in them, as also they would have respect to others that are present, or may be hearers or beholders, considering what are their thoughts of them, or of such deeds, &c. and accor­dingly would carry, although it were to abstain from such a place, apparrel, diet, &c. which in reason, ab­stractly from offence, might be pleaded for, as becom­ing. Thus one walking abroad on the Sabbath, may be sanctifying it, yet by his example some other may be provoked to vage and gad and cast off all duties of the day, and to neglect what is called-for in secret, or in the family; in that respect, it becometh offensive to go abroad, although it be lawfull in it self to medi­tate abroad in the fields, as well as in the house.

2. When a lawfull act doth breed or occasion mis­construction or rash judging in an other, then it be­cometh [Page 19] offensive to him; As, 1. when it maketh him think the thing unlawfull, which is lawfull, that is, (Rom. 14. 16.) to make our good to be evil spoken of: Or, 2. when it occasioneth our selves by that deed to be condemned as untender and unconscientious in the performing of such an act, that is, to make one judge his brother rashly, Rom. 14. 10. 1 Cor. 10. 30. Or, 3. when it occasioneth our profession, or the Gospel to be mistaken and mis-judged, or godlinesse to be accounted fancie, hypocrisie, &c. Thus by the indis­creet use of liberty, the Gospel was evil spoken of by some, as if it had given way to loosnesse, for so those that were zealous for the Law did esteem of it.

3. The effect of a Scandal, is to grieve and make heavie others; and so any indifferent action which is apt to do that, is a scandal, as we may see, Rom. 14. 15. because it marreth their spiritual comfort, weak­neth them in love to us, fainteth them in the doing of duty, at least marreth their chearfulnesse in it▪ &c. and so is against charity, and becometh a breach of the sixth Command, Rom. 14. 15. This is the notion that most ordinarily we use to take up offence under, viz. when it may grieve some to hear that we have done such a thing, when it may lessen their esteem of us, (and so much incapacitate us to be profitable to them) or alienate them from us, &c.

4. We may try Scandal by our hazarding to dis­quiet the peace of our brother's conscience: that is, when by our lawfull deed we engage or virtually perswade him to follow our example, supposing him to doubt of the lawfulnesse of that practice, or to condemn the same. Thus, 1 Cor. 8. 10. one is embol­dene [...] to eat of things offered to Idols, with respect to them, because he beholdeth another that is more strong than he to do the same. And so by his eating, he giveth ground to his conscience afterward to chal­ [...]enge him, for which cause he that gave the example, [...]s said to wound his weak conscience. The like also is, [Page 20] Rom. 14. 22, 23. in the case of doubting: for, suppo­sing one to doubt whether such a thing be lawfull or not, meerly by our example to go before him, is to put him in that strait either to condemn our deed, or doubtingly to follow; for, the meer example of no man can warrant any other to follow, or satisfie a conscience in the lawfulnesse of such and such a deed. This also may be when a weak man, having possibly done something in another manner, (and that lawful­ly) than afterward he beholdeth one that is strong to do, (which also may be lawful in it self) he is brought to look over his own practice, and to condemn the same as sinfull, meerly because that other did it in an­other manner. For, though indifferency in the man­ner of practices in lawfull things, is sometimes edify­ing, yet in such cases when they have not sufficient information joyned with them, they drive men on the extremities foresaid, and so become offensive, especi­ally then when such things are actually doubted of, or disputated in their lawfulnesse.

5. Things become offensive when they prove ob­structive to the edification of others, and, as the word is, Rom. 14. 21. do make them weak, or infirmeth them▪ not only by fainting and weighting them, as is said before, but by confounding them in the Truth or pra­ctices of Religion, whereby they are either shaken in their former assurances, and so weakened, or made doubtfull whether such things be Duties and Truths, or not; or, by such and such things, are diverted from the more necessary practices of Religion. This is the scope of Rom. 14. ver. 1, &c. and of other Scriptures elswhere, wherby the Apostle Paul doth guard against doubtfull disputations, which do not profit them that are occupied therein, Heb. 13. 9. And thus, not only writing and reasoning for what is not Truth, but writing and speaking of Truth in a new manner with new expressions and multiplying moulds of these, or doing it unseasonably, passionatly, contentiously &c. [Page 21] doth prove offensive. Thus what is not actually edi­fying, is offensive; and upon this account, Paul be­cometh all things to all, that he may gain some, as in his circumcising of Timothy that he might have access to edifie the Jews, and such like; And thus often not condescending in indifferent things to please others, doth much incapacitate them to be edified by us, or doth give them prejudice at the way of the Gospel, whereby their edification is obstructed and they of­fended.

6. An action becometh offensive when it stirreth corruption, wakeneth passion, or confirmeth jealousie and suspicion, &c. although that jealousie and suspi­cion be groundlesse. Thus Paul's taking of wages in the Church of Corinth, had been offensive, because it had confirmed the suspicion of his seeking of himself amongst them, and would have strengthened his tra­ducers in their calumnie, and given them occasion of venting their carnall cheerfulnesse and insolency; And thus, when one is unjustly suspected of errour or inclination thereto, to dispute for such things, even when he disowneth them, to converse with persons of that stamp, or such like▪ are offensive, and are to be shunned, though it may be there would be no such construction put upon another doing so.

CHAP. IV. Concerning that upon which Offence worketh, or, the several wayes by which it is taken.

THe considering of the second thing, to wit, that upon which Offence worketh, and by which it is taken, will clear this more: For, sometimes, 1. it affecteth the weaknesse of under­standing and light; So, it raiseth doubts, misconstru­ctions▪ &c. 2. Sometimes through that it affecteth the conscience; whence cometh judging and condem­ning [Page 22] of others, and their deeds, and the awakening of challenges, &c. 3. Sometimes it stirreth the af­fections, either by awakening carnal joy, or carnal grief. 4. It affecteth corruption, when men, from prejudice, are fretted or grieved upon such an occasi­on; Thus often deeds become offensive, when they confirm mens jealousie▪ stir their pride, emulation, &c. 5. A deed may have influence on some folks infirmity or impotencie; So, some that are more given to passi­on, suspicion, or such like, will be offended sooner than others, and some things will be offensive to them that are not so in themselves. 6. Men as they are gracious may be offended; for, though grace, as such, is not capable sinfully to take offence, yet gracious persons may offend, or some actions may have an aptitude to offend a gracious zealous person rather than another. Thus Peter's dissimulation might be said to be offensive to Paul, Gal. 2. though more properly it was a scandal to Barnabas, yet it grieved and stirred Paul, though in a sanctified manner he did vent that which possibly some other gracious person might ei­ther have been irritated with, or, out of respect to Peter, led away, as Barnabas was; when an ungracious per­son would not have laid any weight on Peter's deed, as to any of these, that is, either to follow it, or be grieved with it.

From what is said, it may be someway clear how an indifferent or lawfull act may become offensive, to wit, as it doth, or is apt to work any of these effects upon others, whether they be weak or strong, gra­cious or prophane, and whether conscience or cor­ruption doth rise at the offence that is taken: for, as giving of offence, doth imply uncharitablenesse and pride to be in the giver, so that he neither loveth nor regardeth his brother as he ought to do, neither doth in this as he would have others do unto himself; So offence taken, doth imply corruption and infirmity, (at the best) to be in him that taketh it; and therefore in [Page 23] this matter of offence, respect would be had to the in­firmity and corruption of others, as well as to their graciousnesse and affection. The not observing of which, maketh us take liberty in giving offence to many, because we do either esteem them to be wic­ked and prophane, or not affectionat to us, or, at the best, weak; and therefore not much to be regarded whether they be satisfied or not with our practices, which doth evidently shew, that there is despising and uncharitablenesse in the heart, when there is this re­gardlesnesse in our practice, as may be gathered from Rom. 14. ver. 2, 10, and 15.

CHAP. V. Concerning what ought to make men loath and wary as to the giving Offence.

TO come now to consider those things which ought to make men tender in this, we will find, first, that there is not any duty in the matter thereof more commanded than this of giving no offence, nor any sin more condemned than unten­dernesse in this, as we may find from the Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, &c. wherin whole chapters are spent on this subject: Yea, Act. 15. The Apostles and Elders thought the regulating of indifferent things for preventing of scandal, worthy to be enacted in the first Synod and Council. Secondly, There is no sin that hath moe woes pronounced against it, the Lord Him­self denounceth and doubleth a wo against it, Matth. 18. 7. and the Apostle confirmeth it, Rom. 14. 20, &c. Thirdly, The hatefulnesse of it may appear in the rise thereof, it being, 1. an evident sign of dis-respect to God, and want of the impression of His dread, 2. of inward pride and self-conceitednesse, 3. of uncha­ritablenesse and regardlesnesse of others, and setting them at nought, which may be gathered from Rom. [Page 24] 14. 1 Cor. 8, and 10. and can there be any thing more to be shunned than these? And upon this we will find, that men are tender and conscientious in the mat­ter of offence, and the use of their christian liberty, as they are tender or untender in the material duties of Religion towards God, and towards others. Fourth­ly, There can be no worse effects than follow upon this, It bringeth a wo to the world, and is in Christ's account a most grievous plague when abounding; for, it hath destruction with it to many souls, Rom. 14. 20. It bringeth reproach upon the profession of Christianity, cooleth love among brethren, begetteth and fostereth contention and strife, marreth the pro­gresse of the Gospel, and, in a word, maketh iniquity to abound, and often, in particular, ushereth-in error into the Church, which may be gathered from the places cited, and from Matth. 24. 10, 11, 12. And we suppose when it is tried, it will be found, that unten­dernesse in the matter of scandal, hath been as pre­judicial to the Church of Christ in respect of her out­ward beauty and peace, and the inward thriving of her members, as either errour or prophanity, which have been but the product of this. Fifthly, Unten­dernesse in this, openeth a door to all untendernesse in the person that giveth offence, because by it the con­science becometh lesse sensible of challenges, and so he hath the greater boldnesse to do things that are materially evil; by this also he becometh habitually regardlesse of others. And although where respect to others is predominant, it be no good principle; yet often hath it great influence in restraining men from loosnesse, and in its own place ought to have weight. And doth not experience teach, that once liberty be­ing taken in this, even things materially sinfull do of­ten follow? Sixthly, Tendernesse in this adorneth the Gospel exceedingly, convinceth those we live among, entertaineth charity, and warmeth love, even as carelesnesse in this doth open mens mouthes, and [Page 25] make both profession and professors a reproach. Se­venthly, Untendernesse as to offences, striketh at the root of Christian communion: there can be no free­dom in admonitions, little in conferences, and, it may be, no great fervour in prayers with▪ and for others, where these abound; And is it possible that Religion can be well where these are? And may it not from these appear why Christ hath said, Wo to that man by whom offences come?

CHAP. VI. Holding forth the difficulty to lye mainly in pra­ctice, and shewing how far Offence ought to have influence on a Christian in his walk.

THe greatest difficulty is in reference to practice; (for Scandal cannot but be accounted abo­minable) We shall therefore answer some Questions for the clearing of this. 1. It may be que­stioned, How far offence ought to have influence on a Christian in his walk? In answering of it, we would, I. consider the matter in which offence may be given or taken. 2. The persons who may be offended. For, some things in the matter are simply sinfull, some things are necessary duties; some things▪ again, are in themselves indifferent: So some persons are gracious and tender, some are prophane and malicious, &c. We answer therefore in these Assertions,

1. For no offence whatsoever should men forbear a necessary duty, or commit any thing which is mate­rially sinfull. Christ would need, go up to Ierusalem, although His Disciples were displeased, and would continue in preaching the Gospel, and in doing what was intrusted to Him, although the Pharisees were offended, Matth. 15. This is clear: For no evil should be done that good may come of it. Rom. 3.

2. Assert. Yet in other things there ought to be [Page 26] great respect had to offence, and men ought to be swayed accordingly in their practice, as the former reasons clear; As, first, If the matter be of light con­cernment in it self, as how mens gestures are in their walking, (suppose in walking softly, or quickly, with cloak or without) men ought to do, or abstain as may prevent the construction of pride, lightnesse, &c. or give occasion to others in any of these; of such sort are salutations in the very manner of them: of this sort was womens praying with their head uncovered amongst the Corinthians, it being then taken for an evil sign; yet, if it be necessary, there is nothing little, as Moses will not leave an hoof, Exod. 10. nor Mor­decai bow his knee to Haman, because that it looked like fauning on an accursed enemy: Of this sort also are offences in the fashions of cloathes, as some mens wearing of ribbands, and such like, which being of small concernment, ought certainly to be regulated by offence. Secondly, If it be indifferent, that is, in the matter thereof, such as may be done, or forborn; as eating or not eating such a meat for such a time, (for although no action is indifferent when it is done, because the circumstances of end, motive and manner, do determine them either to be good or bad, as they are agreeable or disagreeable to the Law when they are done, yet some actions in themselves are such) in these actions a Christian ought to do or abstain accordingly, as his doing or not doing may edifie or give offence; yea, in such things he may be for ever restrained, according to that word of Paul's, 1 Cor. 8. 13. I had rather not eat flesh while the world standeth, than by my meat make my brother to offend. This is to be­come all things to all men for their gaining, 1 Cor. 9. when our practice in such things is conformed to others edification rather than our own inclination or light; And thus many things, which we are perswa­ded are lawfull, and that we desire to do, are to be forborn out of conscience, conscience, I say, not our [Page 27] own, but of some others that have not such clear­nesse, as 1 Cor. 10. 28, 29. Thirdly, In positive du­ties of worship and things that are necessary by affir­mative precepts, Scandal ought to have weight to time them so as not to give offence by them. For, al­though a Scandal cannot make duty to be no duty for ever, yet it may for a time suspend one from the ex­ercise of a lawfull duty, although not alwayes: Thus to give alms, is a commanded duty, yet if there be hazard that an indigent person may abuse it, or others may take offence by that example either ostentatively in a selfie way to give, or to account so of him that doth give, or such like, in that case giving of alms is for that time to be forborn, except the persons strait make it necessary, or some other circumstance, and a privat way afterward is to be taken: So, preaching to a Minister, and hearing to a professour, are com­manded duties, Yet supposing that a particular mans preaching at such a time, would stumble more than edifie, it is to be forborn. So in giving of admoni­tions, or in correcting of children, we are not to do these when we, or others, are in passion, although they be duties, but to take a fit time, l [...]st more hurt follow than advantage: That being a rule anent af­firmative precepts, that they bind continually (or semper) but not alway to the actual performing of them, (or ad semper) Thus a servant, or wife, or any other person are bound to pray alwayes, yet to do it then when the master, husband, or family calleth-for some other thing necessary, would be an offence. Fourthly, In necessary things, offence ought to have weight according to the circumstantiat case, to sway one in the manner and circumstances of that necessary duty; Thus, supposing it necessary to pray, a man is to choose the place and posture of praying according­ly; Thus it is offensive in some cases to pray so as we may be observed, because that looketh hypocri­tical like, and is condemned, Matth. 6. Sometimes [Page 28] again, it is offensive not to be known to pray, as was in Daniel's case, Dan. 6. because his not evidencing of it by opening of his windows, had looked like his re­ceding from his former piety, &c. And in this respect, what is ofensive at one time, may be edifying at ano­ther, And what is edifying now, may become offen­sive afterward upon another occasion, As by Paul's circumcising of Timothy, and refusing to circumcise Titus, doth appear. So sometimes (suppose it when Nehemiah is standing before the King) to kneel down to pray, would have been offensive; at other times for a man to pray and not to kneel in his chamber, (as in Daniels case) may be offensive also. And in this sort of offence, custom guideth much in the indifferent circumstances; and alteration in these, is often of­fensive. Fifthly, In our particulars, in temporall things we ought rather to cede in what is our own, than to offend others, and mar their spiritual good. Thus Christ condescended to quit His priviledge, Matth. 17. 27. rather than to offend, And thus Paul shunned the taking of wages in Corinth, although he had right thereto, and did even then take from other Churches: The reason is, because the spiritual edifi­cation of our brother is of more value than our tem­poral right; much more is this to have influence in limiting and hedging us up from lawfull pleasures and contentments, or what our inclination and af­fection leadeth to, even though it be lawfull, if so be the following thereof may be an offence to any. It is for this also that Paul, 1 Cor. 6. condemneth their con­tentions going to Law before Infidels▪ because of the scandal thereof, And why (saith he) do ye not rather suffer wrong? Our Lord also, as was just now hinted, went before us in this, Matth. 17. 27. when He paved Tribute, and in that ceded His own right, lest He should offend; and it's like they were not of the most tender men.

3. Assert. We say that there is equal respect to be [Page 29] had to all kind of persons in the giving of offence, if the matter be equal that is, we ought to shun the of­fence of the weak as well as o [...] the strong, of the pro­phane as of the gracious▪ &c. For, 1. the command is general, 1 Cor. 10. 32. Give no offence, neither to [...]ew nor Gentile, nor to the Church of God, under which three, all sorts of persons are comprehended. 2. As we ought not to sin in reference to any person, so ought we not to give to any of them an occasion of sinning, be­cause that is never good. 3. I [...] we look to the good or strong, as we ought not to do any thing that is sinfull to please them or abstain from any thing that is necessary to prevent their offence; So ought we to do in reference to the weak and prophane. Thus Paul would not give the false teachers of Corinth ground of stumbling more than the Church-members; And in this respect we are debtors both to the Jews and Greeks, to the unwise as to the wise, Ro. 1. 14. Yea, we are in indifferent things to become all things to all men, even to those that are weak and without Law (though still we are to be under the Law) that the moe may be gained, 1 Cor. 9. 20, 21, &c.

CHAP. VII. Shewing what the Scandal of the Pharisees or ma­licious is, and clearing several other important Questions.

IF it be said, What then is it which is called the Scandal of the Pharisees or the malicious, which ought not to be respected? We answer, 1. In con­structing any maliciously to take offence, there is great need of spiritualnesse, lest we account men malicious because of some particular difference from us or some other persons; even as from David's imprecations against his malicious enemies, we would not draw an example for regulating of our prayers, in reference to [Page 30] our enemies. 2. There is need also here to take heed what spirit we be of in our accounting men to be such, as the Lord said to the Disciples, Luke 9. when they pretended Elias example: for, to make a man malicious in taking offence in this respect, so as not to be regarded. 1. It must be a necessary duty that he offendeth at, even the best, as the Pharisees did at Christ's preaching of the Gospel. 2. It must not be out of ignorance or weaknesse that this offence is taken. 3. It must not arise from any personal or par­ticular account, but from a man's being instrumentall in furthering and advancing the Gospel, and so must be very sib to the sin against the holy Ghost, and therefore ought not to be pretended in our ordinary carriage.

If it be yet said, that they do not stand to offendWhat, when men stand not to offend us? us, therefore they are not to be regarded by us, when the thing we do is lawfull. Answ. This were to ren­der evil for evil, whenas we should overcome evil with good; and if it be a sin in them not to care for us in their practices, can it be otherwise in us? and our meeting of them in their untender way, is to har­den them in it, and bring their bloud on our own head, whereas more tender dealing might edifie them, and, as by heaping coals of fire upon their heads, soften them and make them more pliable.

If it be asked further, what one is to do in such aWhat, when the matter is lawfull & the offence doubtfull? case when the matter is lawfull and it be withall doubtfull whether it can be offensive or scandalous to any? Answ. 1. Beside the consideration of the thing, we would also consider circumstances of time, person, occasion, &c. 2. We would try what an acti­on, so circumstantiated, hath formerly been thought of in the case of others in former times; Yea, 3. what use to be our own thoughts of such actions in other persons, if we have not counted them offen­sive in them? for often men more impartially judge, especially of what is offensive, in the persons of others [Page 31] than in themselves. 4. The conscience would be re­flected on what it saith; for often there is a murmur­ing in the conscience, which sheweth its suspicion, that such a thing is offensive and hurtfull, before it be acted, which is yet often born down by the im­petuousnesse of mens inclination. 5. Others that may be more impartial, would be tryed; yea, the thoughts of these that we supposed to be the least ten­der of us are not to be neglected, for often they are most impartial in judging what is offensive. These things may have the more weight to sway one in their determination, because the trial runneth not to know what is duty, or lawfull in it self, but whether or not such a lawfull practice may be done or forborn with­out wronging the spiritual estate of any. 6. If it continue yet doubtfull whether it be offensive or not, the same rule is to be followed, as if it were doubted whether it were lawfull or not? to wit, It is to be abstained from, because as he that doubteth of the lawfulnesse of a thing, cannot do it in faith, because he knoweth not but it may be sinfull; So neither can he that doubteth whether a lawfull thing be expedient or not, do it with perswasion, because he knoweth not but it may be scandalous to some, and so cannot but be sinfull to him. Lastly, pains would be taken rightly to inform others, and to rectifie them that they may not take offence at things lawfull in them­selves.

If it be said, that sufficient pains have been takenWhat, if sufficient pains have been taken to inform? to inform them already, and that therefore their taking offence is inexcusable. Answ. 1. Men would be­ware of making this an excuse, for many have great ignorance and are not soon capable of instruction, others have prejudice which is hardly rooted-out; Therefore I conceive it will not be easie to be able to assert an exoneration in this case. 2. If the thing continue to be indifferent (which is the matter con­cerning which the question is) there can be no terme [Page 32] set to it: It is the Apostle's word, 1 Cor. 8. 13. If meat make my brother to offend▪ I will not eat flesh while the world standeth. I [...] the case alter and the matter be­come necessary by some circumstances, as Daniel's opening of his window did, then that which for­merly was indifferent, becometh necessary, and it would be offensive to omit it.

It may be further asked, What is to be done whereWhat to be don whe [...] there is a real [...] be­tw [...]xt p [...]r ti [...], upon account of a civil in­terest? there is a real difference betwixt parties, suppose for a civil interest? for▪ a man, by seeking his own, may irritate another, and, Is there a necessity of abstaining in that case? Answ. 1. There is no question but in some cases a man is to cede in his particular right, ra­ther than to give offence by a legal pursuit, as when it may occasion the Gospel to be evil spoken of, and harden corrupt men in their ha [...]ed of the same. On this ground, 1 Cor. 6. the Apostle condemneth their going to Law before infidel Judges, and doth ex­presly say, ver. 7. Why do ye not rather take the wrong? and suffer your selves to be defrauded? And though the case now be not every way the same, yet we suppose Christians ought to lay weight on this, l [...]st in their pursuits they give occasion to make the professors of the Gospel to be accounted contentious, covetous▪ &c. And therefore it would seem, that when they contend for civil things, it would be for something of moment at least to the person, which also is clearly, or may be made appear to be clearly theirs, and that after friendly wayes are essayed for attaining satisfaction. 2. We say, it ought to sway Christians in their man­ner of pursuing differences, so as there be not heat, passion▪ carnalnesse, over-reaching and going beyond one another, nay nor the appearance of these to be seen in their carriage, but still following a civil dif­ference, with respect to the spiritual good of the ad­versary, and that in such a manner as may be con­vincingly evidencing thereof both to him and others. 3. We say, that these cautions being observed, this [Page 33] doctrine of Scandal will not simply bind up a Chri­stian from pursuing of a civil difference, because, in some respect, it may be a necessary dutie for a man to recover his own in a legall way, as it is for a man to labour, and otherwise by lawfull means to provide for his Family: for which end God hath appointed Judges and Magistrates to hear complaints, and to rectifie wrongs; and to hear complaints is a main part of their duty, without which humane society would turn like to the fishes of the sea, Hab. 1. There­fore we would distinguish here betwixt displeasing, yea angering and offending, and would desire rather not to stumble than to please; for there may be anger when there is no offence given, as suppose one should fret because they get not their will vented unjustly on some other in their [...]rson or estate. In that case, their satisfaction is not their edification, nor their dis­pleasing their offence; So is it in this case, where a man pursues his own in a due manner, there is no just ground of offence given: because, 1. The thing it self is neither evil, nor hath the appearance of evil, but hath an approbation from God who hath ap­pointed Magistrates for that end to hear and redresse wrongs, and cannot but be approven by others; yea, the deed it self cannot but be approven in the consci­ence of him that is offended, seing it is taught to men by nature to keep themselve, from injury, and it is not in things so clearly approven by God, and taught by nature, that offence is given, but where the action is doubted in conscience to be unlawfull, at least▪ as so circumstantiat, which cannot be in this case. 2. It is no offence to complain to a Church-judicatorie of one that offendeth, if it be done in a right manner, though it anger him, because it is a legal allowed way, Therefore neither is it so here. 3. To condemn this, were really to offend many, even those, who from their covetous and malicious humour might clearly be emboldned to wrong others; wherefore we see Paul [Page 34] and others do approve legall defences for preventing or remedying of hurt, though, no question, malicious opposers were fretted therewith. Yet where two are Ministers, or eminent in profession, we suppose there ought to be more warrinesse, because so necessarily it is implyed, that the one hath the wrong side, which cannot but offend.

It may be further moved, what is to be done whenWhat, when the Com­mands of Magistrates and Offence are in oppo­sition? there seems to be an opposition betwixt the command of a Superiour, and the eschewing of offence, so that we must either disobey him or give offence in obey­ing, as suppose a Magistrate should command to preach upon some pretended holy day: the thing is lawfull upon the matter, but the doing of it is offen­sive, either by grieving many, or strengthening others in the esteeming somewhat of [...]hat day? Answ. In that case, the Scandal is still active and given, and therefore no command or authority can warrand one in such a deed: for, as these two worthy Divines (Ames in his Cases of Conscience, lib. 5. cap. 11. and Gillespie in his Dispute of Ceremonies, chap. 7. sect. 5.) observe, no man can command either our charity or our consciences, or make up the hazard of a given of­fence; and therefore none can command us warrant­ably to hurt the spiritual good of our neighbour, that being contrary to the command of love that God hath laid on. And we may add, that an indifferent action, being involved with offence, cannot but be in its practising sinfull as it is complexly considered, and therefore cannot be the object of a Magistrats com­mand more than an action that is sinfull in it self. On this ground, many of the Saints in the last perse­cution, did choose rather to suffer Martyrdom, than to be constructed to have ceded, or delivered the Bible, and therefore they would not redeem their life by gi­ving of any piece of paper at the command of the Officers, lest thereby they should have been by others interpreted to have given up their Bible. It is to be re­membered [Page 35] that we spake not of displeasing, seing by a Superiours command that may be done, but of Scan­dalizing, either by strengthening somewhat that is wrong, ot seeming to do so, by wounding the con­sciences of others, provoking them to judge us, or some such way: And if it were not so, the three chil­dren▪ Dan. 3. might have escaped the furnace; for, to fall down at the Kings command, was not simply sin­full (and had they done that, no more had been called for) but to fall down at such a time, in such place, &c. had at least the appearance of evil, and therefore there was no room left for obedience. And, no que­stion, Ioabs resisting, and in part neglecting of Davids command for numbering of the People, was more ap­provable than his obedience, yet was the thing lawfull in it self; but considering it as circumstantiat, it tended to foster Davids pride, and to be subservient in that which brought on wrath, Therefore was not to be obeyed to the confirming of him in his sin. The same also may be said, when doing something that is offen­sive may seem a way to prevent a crosse; for, active offence being ever sinfull in respect of the complex case, it is not to be allowed whatever perill follow, as we may see in Daniels case who would not stumble others by shutting of his window, although it ha­zarded his own life, and the welfare of the [...]: And in this case Paul saith, that it were better for him to die than that any should make his glorying void, or make him an occasion for others to stumble upon, 1 Cor. 9. 15. &c.

It may be said, that sometimes the case is so stated,What is t [...] be done in a case when of­fence is like to follow on either side. that whatever be done there will be offence, as if Paul take wages, he is called a self-seeker, that is, one that maketh gain of preaching the Gospel, if he forbear, it is said he loveth not the Corinthians, and therefore he taketh not from them; again, some weak Jews are ready to stumble, and not receive the Gospel if he cir­cumcise not Timothy; others again, are readie to take [Page 36] advantage and to plead the necessity of the ceremoni­all Law if he circumcise Titus: It may be asked, what is to be done in such cases? In reference to which we answer, 1. That we would ever look▪ what is most expedient as to edification, it is like it did dis­please Peter and the Iews more that he did not cir­cumcise Titus, and the false Apostles that he did not take wages, than if he had done it, yet he did what was most edifying, and of it self aptest to further their spirituall good; and a spirituall discerner will readily find what is most edifying in it self, or in that case, which is to be followed, although it may be most displeasing. 2. Respect would be had to these that are most unbyassed; prejudice possessed the Jews and these corrupt Teachers, and therefore whatever Paul did they stumbled at it; but it is like he had re­spect to others, and did what might most wipe away the calumnies that were cast upon him and the Gospel by these false Apostles. 3. In such a case, a man would look to what is most denied like, and it is ever safest to sway to that hand, as suppose a man were in hazard upon one side to be thought negligent, if he be not painfull, and even someway rigorous in his deal­ings with men, as on the other side, covetous, if he be but painfull. It is safest to hazard upon diligence without rigidity, although it should occasion him to be accounted negligent: Because there is least selfi­nesse on that side, and that hath least to commend it unto mens corruptions. Thus Paul rather hazardeth upon what might follow upon his refusing to take wages than to take them, because taking is of it self more apt to give offence than refusing, and doth not look so single like, and there is not so easie accesse to vindicat that against clamorous mouths. 4. When the offence seemeth to follow both from omitting and committing, Paul chooseth often to commend for­bearance, as in the cases of forbearing to eat meats, and to take wages, at least, in Corinth, seing he was [Page 37] otherwise supplied. So, when there is hazard of be­ing accounted proud on the one side, if men take so and so on them, or live in such and such a rank, on the other side, they may be accounted silly, and of no spi­rit, if they be short of that; it is yet safest to eschew what may look like ostentation, because the tenta­tion of self-seeking lyeth neerest that. 5. The pre­sent state of the time, and the temper of those we live among, would be observed; as sometimes folks are ready to count an indifferent thing necessary, then it is to be abstained from; Therefore Paul would not cir­cumcise Titus: Sometimes again, the omitting of an indifferent thing may seem to import the condemning of some necessary duty, and therefore Daniel will not forbear his ordinary circumstances in prayer: thus it is to be observed, to what side (to speak so) the tide of offence doth run, and that is to be shuned. 6. The nature of the persons is to be observed, which we have to do with in the mentioned case. Some are weak, So condescending edifieth them, and grieving of them might stumble them at the Gospel; others are perverse, and condescending to them, strengthneth them in their opposition, and so proveth a stumbling to them. Upon this ground, circumcising of Timothy to the weak at one time is edifying, and forbearing thereof had been a stumbling-block: at an other time, and to other persons circumcising had been an offence, as in the case of Titus instanced; and Paul's refusing to circumcise him, was not that he regarded not their stumbling, but that he knew the circumcising of him would puffe them up and strengthen them, and so stumble them indeed, therefore he would not do it.What, when doing will offend the weak and tender, and irritate the perverse, & contra.

If it be asked, what if the case stand so stated, that do­ing will offend the weak and tender, no doing will dis­please and irritate the perverse? as suppose in the case of eating things sacrificed to Idols; or contrarily doing offendeth the grosse, and no doing the tender, what is to be done in such a case? Answ. As there is never [Page 38] a necessity of sinning, so there is never a necessity that one should fall in an active offence, the offence there­fore upon the one side must be taken, and that is not to be regarded in comparison of the other. As sup­pose in some cases the weak be really offended, and the perverse are but irritated, in that case their irrita­tion is not to be stood upon: for often they are really edified when they are dissatisfied, as in the instance proposed; eating of things sacrificed to Idols, was really offensive to the Godly, as being ready to draw them to sin, but though it might possibly displease others that the Believers did not eat with them, yet was there nothing in that deed of it self apt to stumble them, and induce them to sin; Again, sometimes the Godly are displeased, and the perverse and profane are really stumbled, as when Paul refused to circum­cise Titus, it is like his not doing thereof did really displease many godly Jews that were zealous in the Law, yet his doing of that had really been a stum­bling to many corrupt Teachers who did teach the necessity of circumcision, and would have been con­firmed by that practice. Therefore Paul will rather displease the godly Jews than stumble the pro­fane Teachers by a deed which had also been a reall stumbling unto the Jews. This then is the first rule, to wit, that we would look well upon what side the active offence lieth, and upon what side the displea­sure only, and to choose the eschewing of offence, who ever be displeased. 2. When the thing is in it self in­different to be done, or not to be done, it is safest to forbear whoever be displeased▪ as we see in the in­stances given, Paul inclineth still to forbearance, he forbore to eat flesh, and to circumcise Titus, and to take wages, &c. when the case is so stated, because whoever be displeased, that is not of it self so inductive to sin, as doing is, Which either doth strengthen others to do doubtingly upon our example, or to judge us for doing what they account sinfull, or some such like. [Page 39] Indeed, in some cases where there is no hazard of Of­fending by doing, we may do what is indifferent to prevent the irritating of any, that so there may be the greater accesse to edifie them: And therefore, Act. 16. 2. Paul will circumcise Timothy, lest he make himself ungracious to the Jews in those parts; yet, had there been any there to take advantage from that to confirm their errour, he had not done it, as in the other in­stance of Titus doth appear; for so it had not been an offence, but somewhat which was displeasing to those Jews. Yet, 3. supposing it to be so, that neither have ground, but both may be displeased, Then the tender are to be respected, and the preventing their offence is to be preferred. 1. Because they are displeased out of conscience, and that is wounded; others are but irritat in respect of some lust, and so it is displeasure simply to them, but it's offence to the other, because on a ground of conscience they are displeased. 2. The Lord is most tender in the grieving, or not grieving of the godly (as is clear, Matth. 18▪) Therefore ought we to be so also. Hence the Prophet professeth, 2 Kin. 3. 14. that had it not been respect to Iehosaphat, he had not stood much on the displeasing of others; or, suppose some prophane person should be displeased, because a man doth not drink so much, (although it be not inconsistent with moderation) and suppose some tender person should think his drinking thereof inconsistent with sobriety, I say, in that case he should respect the last, because this offence doth flow from a ground of conscience. Lastly, it would be looked to in such a case, what may be most in the upshot or event for edification, supposing there should be in­volvements on all hands; for some things being compared may be better discerned, than when they are abstractly considered in themselves; Now, edifi­cation and offence do never lie upon one side: there­fore if it be found that such a thing comparatively be edifying, it is to be done, and what seemeth to oppose it, is not to be accounted offence.

CHAP. VIII. Holding forth what is called-for when Offences abound.

IT may be profitable to enquire what is called for from a Christian living in the time when offences abound, and when there is too great a readinesse both to give and take offence? Answ. It is hardly possible to condescend on all particulars here; yet be­cause the thing is usefull, and the Scripture is full in reference to this matter, in the fourteenth Chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and in both the Epistles to the Corinthians, and elsewhere, We may hazard to propose these general directions.

1. A man would not only respect his own clear­nesse in conscience as to the lawfulnesse of a deed, but would even have respect to the satisfaction of the consciences of others, as it is, 1 Cor. 10. 29. The neglect of this casteth a door open to many evils; and did this abound, that men were burning with any of­fence taken by others, as was Pauls case, 2 Cor. 11. 29. there would be fewer offences given. It ought to affect us, as it were a pang or stound at our hearts, to hear or see of any that are offended. This is a prin­cipal remedy from an inward sympathie to study this, and there will be directions furnished where that touch is, Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? Sooner would we put our head in the fire than hazard to offend any, if this were.

2. As men would be carefull not to give offence, so also not to take offence, or to stumble even when blocks are cast in the way. It is a piece of our folly sometimes to be exclaiming against the frequencie of offences and the givers of them, and yet not to be adverting, but to be stumbling at these our selves; [Page 41] either by waxing cold in our love to the Godly, or faint in duties, or ready to take liberty to speak and to judge of others, even of their state that we offend at, or passionately to be irritate to some carnal re­venge, &c. for, seldom are many offences given active­ly, but many also are offended passively, as Matth. 24. 10. and at such time, they are blessed who are not of­fended in Christ, it being both a good thing, and a rare thing in such a case, Matth. 11. 6. for, as it is in carnal contests, often an [...] ill reply bringeth on more sinfull contention; so it is here: And offence taken by one, leadeth him to give another, as the result of that, whereas were it our care not to stumble our selves, we might be keeped from giving occasion of that to others, and brook much more peace, as it is, Psal. 119. 165. Great peace have they who love thy Law: and nothing shall offend them. Sometimes, again, the falls of others are matter of mocking and mirth, and we are puft up because of that, as if there were not such corruptions in us: This was the Corinthians fault, 1 Cor. 5. 2. and many other wayes are there of stumbling, and O but watchfulnesse is necessary when folks walk thus in the midst of snares▪ and are so ready to fall either upon one hand or another!

3. Folks would beware of despising or judging one another, but would [...]y all means endeavour the entertaining and confirming of love▪ which is in this respect the bond of perfection. The Apostle giveth this direction, Rom. 14. 3. Let not him that eateth, de­spise him that eateth not; and let not him that eateth not, judge him that eateth. He that eateth is the strong pro­fessor, who is through in the knowledge of what is right and what is wrong; It is the fault of such rea­dily to condemn and despise the weaker who cannot go alongst with them. Again, he that eateth not, is the weak, who, wanting clearnesse in what the other is clear of, is ready to judge the other as an untender person, because he doth what he cannot [Page 42] do. These evils are rise where offences abound, and are the oyl which nourisheth them: for, if there were not pride and despising in some, and untendernesse and rash judging and jealousies in others that are weak, the plague that followeth offences would not be so great in the world. But these two are most di­rectly opposit to the rule of charity that ought to be amongst Christians, both in guiding us in doing of our own acts, and in constructing and judging of the actions of others. And, in a word, love, that i [...] the fulfilling of the Law, is the fulfilling of this pre­cept also. See 1 Ioh. 2. 10. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stum­bling in him. Offences could neither be given not taken if love to our brethren were fresh.

4. We would beware of moving or fostering needlesse and perplexed disputings, these have ever proved exceeding hurtfull to the Church, and pro­portionally wronged edification, as errour and pro­phanity have done. It is the Apostle's first direction, Rom. 14. 1. Him that is weak receive, but not to doubt­full disputations; for such breed strife, and often waken carnalnesse in the contenders rather than pure zeal. And in this case, it is better for some to possesse clearnesse in their own judgment, and to condescend in their practice to others, than by venting their judgment unseasonably, to confound others, that is the meaning of the word, Rom. 14. 22. Hast thou faith? that is, clearnesse in such a particular, have it to thy self, that is, make your own privat use of it with­out troubling others with the same. And we will see, that this spirit of contention, and the abounding of offences, have ever been together in the Church. For certainly such contentions cannot but obstruct the growth of the weak, and grieve the strong, and stumble all. We conceive therefore, that at such a time it were more safe to abstain the wakening of new debates, raising of old, or using of new expressions, [Page 43] than to hazard upon the offence which may follow upon mens mistaking of them, or taking advantage by them, which will be more hurtful than any advan­tage they can bring. We conceive also that it were fitter to overlook some mistakes in some Writings at such a time, than unnecessarily to table a debate on every thing that seemeth dissatisfying in the writings and expressions of others, which is become too com­mon, and by this, professed enemies are let alone and have peace, and all the debates in the Church, are almost amongst men that agree in fundamentals, be­cause of some lesser differences.

5. There would be an abstinence from things that are controverted either in doctrine or practice, if they be not necessary things▪ As we see the Apostle doth in the Epistles to the Romans and Corinthians. The reason is, because it is the strong who are clear to do, and it's the weak who are doubtfull. Now, it is more just and safe, that the strong should condescend to the weak, because that is within their reach, than that the weak should be driven up to the strong, which were to overdrive them.

6. At such a time folks would be much in the study and practice of the more necessary and mate­riall things, which come nearer the life and power of godlinesse. We see, when offences abounded in the primitive times, the Apostle withdraweth them from too much seriousnesse in more circumstantiall things, to the working-out of their salvation in fear and trembling, Philip. 2. 12. for, experience telleth us, that offences rise most, yea cannot rise, but in things which may be done or forborn, as in eating, and such other things as troubled the primitive Church. We see also, that where there is most heat in these things, there is an overvaluing of them, and an undervaluing of faith, repentance, prayer, com­munion with God, &c. Hence it is, (Rom. 14. 17.) that the Apostle correcteth this fault, saying, The [Page 44] Kingdom of Heaven (which is the Gospel in its power) doth not consist in meat and drink, that is, in the eat­ing of, or abstaining from, such meats as were then disputable, much lesse in the disputes that were con­cerning them; but it consisteth in righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Ghost, that is, in material duties. Therefore he addeth, that he that serveth God in these (that is, righteousnesse and peace and the more material things) is accepted of God, and approved of men.▪ Which sheweth, that they placed too much of religion in these extrinsick things, and in the mean time sleighted the main. For, in necessary things there is no hazard of offending, and few usually of­fend at these.

7. At such a time great care would be had to en­tertain peace, even publick Church-peace, and re­spect to the Ordinances, particularly to that of Dis­cipline, because that is the proper remedy for remo­ving offences, Matth. 18. 17. and without unity this hath no weight. Also offences of their own nature tend to make rents, and where unity is preserved many are keeped on their feet which otherwayes would have fallen. Therefore, Rom. 14. 19. that di­rection is given▪ Let us follow those things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edifie another. And often union and edification are joyned together, which sheweth, that it must be a great restraint to offences, which are so opposit to edification.

8. When offences abound, it is often most safe to be least appearing, except a mans call be the more clear and convincing: For, as in the multitude of words there wanteth not sin, So in much medling there wan­teth not offence. This is also clear in experience, because offences come more ordinarily, and are more observed when something is done, than when some­thing is forborn. Yet this is not to be extended to the omission of any necessary duty, but is to have great weight in indifferent things, that are not necessary, [Page 45] specially such as for the time are most ordinarily the stone of stumbling. Hence we find, that though in some questions the Apostle is full to dispute down adversaries, as in the case of Justification; Yet there are some other things that he seeketh rather to have restrained than moved, such as he calleth doubtfull, Rom. 14. 1. endlesse, 1 Tim. 1. 4. that gender strife, and are not edifying, but foolish and unlearned questions, 2 Tim. 2. 14, 16, 23. men are to flee, and to shun these, even when occasion is given. For, though every question hath a truth upon one side, and the searching into necessary truths be edifying, yet as to such, considering the contention that waiteth on them, and the difficulties that are about them, the Church gaineth more by silence in them, than by too fervent pursuing of them.

9. Men at such a time would be diligent in the duties of their stations, and keep themselves within these; and, as the Apostle saith, 1 Cor. 7. 20. would abide in the calling wherein they are called: for, by so doing there is no occasion of offence. When a Magistrate holdeth in the duties of a Magistrate, and Ministers, Masters, Servants, Husbands and Wives, and so all sorts contain themselves within the bounds of their respective stations, that is a thing offensive to none; But when they exceed or give oc­casion to others to think that they exceed, then it be­cometh offensive, and maketh the Gospel to be evil­spoken of. For which cause, the Apostle commendeth to Subjects, Wives, Servants, and all sorts, the do­ing of the duties of their respective stations▪ as that which doth adorn the Gospel, and stop the mouthes of gainsayers.

10. There would be mutual faithfulnesse, and a condescending upon their side who are offended, freely and soberly to admonish those by whom they are offended; and upon the otherside, a condescend­ing to satisfie and remove any offence▪ taken by those [Page 46] who have given it, or at whom it is taken. This is our Lord's rule, Matth. 18. 15. &c. There is no­thing more needfull, when offences abound, than these, and yet often there is little or no accesse to them, or practice of them when they are most need­full, And this maketh offences to abound the more. And what thing is more unsuitable than for one to take or keep offence at another, and yet never to endeavour his recovery who hath offended, and by so doing to hazard both their souls? Or, when one hath given offence, and is admonished, to refuse to come out himself, or to keep another out of this snare?

11. This endeavouring to have offence removed, ought to be followed convincingly, and that in the several steps laid down, Matth. 18. and if privat rea­soning and admonition prevail not, it is to proceed further till it come to the Church. But because the Scandal then becometh publick, we shall speak of it in the next branch. Only now it is to be adverted concerning these offences in reference to which we are to admonish our brother, and thus to follow them in case of sleighting▪ 1. They are not only wrongs done to the person immediatly or directly, but it may be his being stumbled at his seeing a mans miscar­riages towards others, So the injury may be to one, but the offence to another. 2. This duty is to be gone about, not only without all heat, prejudice, or contention, but with the spirit of love, as a duty pro­ceeding there from for his good, even from that same spirit by which we pray for him, they being both equally necessary duties. And, 3. That this Order of Christ's is not to be interverted by any, nor the publick gone to, till the private [...]ay be effectually essayed.

12. There is a necessity in every thing (especially at such a time) to be single in our end, having the glory of God mainly in our eye. And that not on­ly [Page 47] for our own peace, but also for the conviction of others. It is often our unsinglenesse that maketh us carelesse in giving offence, and also the evidence or appearance of that, that maketh others readily to take offence at our carriage. Hence we see, that the actions of such who are supposed to be single, are not so readily stumbled at. And this direction is ex­presly laid down in reference to this end, 1 Cor. 10. 31. Whether therefore ye eat or ye drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God: give none offence neither to Iew nor Gentile, &c. It were fit therefore at such a time, that a man should examine his own breast, and try what leadeth him on such a design, or act; for often by-ends and motives will steal in, when we seem to our selves to be most servently zealous: self-interests had need to be much denied in such a time.

13. Much care would be had to keep up the au­thority of all Christ's Ordinances; they are the lights and means whereby men are to be directed, lest they stumble, and to be strengthened and comforted in their spiritual consolations: and hardly offences arise, but the Devil seeketh to discredit these, because then men are in the dark, and so cannot but fall when blocks are in their way. Hence often are the Ordi­nances of life the very pretended rise of offences, as concerning a Ministery, Baptism, the Lords Supper, Sabbath Day, Singing of Psalms, Constitution of a Church, Discipline, &c. because by making these to be stumbled at, or stones of stumbling, men can have accesse to no other means, either for direction or consolation. On this ground Paul endeavoureth so much to vindicate himself from what was impu­ted to him, 2 Cor. 12. 19. And for this end so many directions are given for keeping up the credit of the ordinances in the most difficult dark cases, as Song 1. 8. Eph. 4. 12▪ 13. Heb. 13. 7, 8, &c. & 17. especially Mat. 18. 17, 18, &c. And on the contrary, for eschewing [Page 48] corrupt teachers, and those who cause divisions and offence contrary to the doctrine learned, &c. Rom. 16. 17. Then it is a time to try the spirits, and to fear snares, and to hate every garment that is spotted with the flesh; and we find in Scripture, and experience that ever these two go together, to wit, shunning of those who bring false doctrine, and the adhering to those who are faithfull on the other side.

14. At such a time especially, Christians in their walk toward one another, ought to be of a sympa­thizing and condescending temper. This is to bear the infirmities, of the weak, and not to please our selves, but our neighbour for his good to edification, even as Christ pleased not himself, &c. as the Apostle hath it to the same scope, Rom. 15. 1, 2, 3. Tenaciousnesse and self-willednesse do often breed offences, and con­tinually stand in the way of removing of them, and although there is nothing more ordinary in a time of offences than that, to wit, for men to stand to their own judgement and opinion as if it were a piece of liberty and conscience, not to condescend in a thing that we judge lawfull, yet is there nothing more un­suitable for Christians in such a time: for, as Solomon saith, Only by pride cometh contention, Prov. 13. 10. So this self-pleasing humour is the great fomenter of of­fences in the Church. This condescending was Paul's practice in this case, 1 Corinth. 9. ver. 19, 20, &c. who became all things to all men, for their edification, be­ing in the use of indifferent things so dependent upon the edification of others, and so denied to his own pleasing and inclination; yea, even to his own light, as if he had had none himself. And although this be incumbent to all Christians, yet these who are more eminent and strong, are especially called to this for­bearance and condescending, as i [...] is Rom. 15. 1. We then that are strong ought to bear▪ &c▪ Gal. 6. 1, 2. It is a great mistake in Religion, to think, that in indiffe­rent circumstantiall things, the weak should follow [Page 49] the strong, and upon that ground to undervalue the offending of them: It is quite contrary to Scripture, the strong are to carry to the weak as men do to brittle and weak vessels, using tendernesse to them lest they be crushed. What is said in all the directions, doth therefore specially concern the more strong Believers, that in these they may go before others.

CHAP. IX. Holding forth what ought to be the carriage of Ministers when Offences abound.

15. THe last direction is, That then Ministers in a speciall manner, are called to bestir themselves for draining this torrent of Offences, even as they are to set themselves against the abounding of sins. And indeed we know no mean fitter and more comprehensive for this end, than that Ministers cordially interpose for the removing thereof. For, this is a speciall end for which they are given to the Church, as was formerly said, and this is a special part of their charge, to watch over souls in reference to this. Hence we see, that the Apostle Paul doth not insist more in his publick doctrine, or in his private carriage, upon any thing, than upon this, to wit, That the Church may be made and keeped free of offences, as what hath been observed from him out of the Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, &c. doth evince. Nor doth he with any kind of persons deal so much to restrain strifes, contentions, janglings about words, and such things which do gender of­fences, as in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus, charging them, that not only in refere [...]ce to their own carriage, but, as Ministers of the Gospel, they would endeavour this in their charges; and there can be no reason of this, but because the matter is of such concernment to the Church, and because they by their stations have a [Page 50] main influence either on the restraint or growth of scandals and offences. Yea, doth not the blessed Prince of Pastors Himself, often take notice of offences in His sermons? sometimes reproving them, some­times shewing the ill of them, and often purposly in­sisting in instructions for this very end, that His Dis­ciples should not be offended, as Ioh. 16. 1. and in His practice, condescending to prevent the offence, even of carnal men, Matth. 17. 27. and doth much insist on that doctrine, giving directions for prevent­ing and removing thereof, Matth. 18. and particular­ly He giveth direction for the promoving of mortifica­tion, by cutting off the right hand, and plucking out the right eye, &c. which being given by the Lord, if well studied and practised, might be a compend of all other directions, it is so well chosen for that purpose, as all His directions were. All which sheweth, that when offences abound, much doth ly upon Mini­sters at such a time, and that both in reference to their own personall carriage, and also in their ministeriall stations; and in sum, in their whole walk, both amongst themselves, and towards others of all sorts, which we may hint at in some particular instances: As, 1. that their conversations be then grave, sober, holy, denied, &c. and eminent in all that is called for from private Christians, at such a time. For, as their carriages are more observed than others, So do spots upon them more discernably appear, and when ap­pearing, are more readie to stumble and harden others. It is for this, that a Minister is to shew him­self a pattern and as a copie or example to the Believer, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, &c. as it is, 1 Tim. 4. 12. Upon this ground also are they at such a time to flee youthfull lusts of contentions, strife, and such like, even when these seem to follow them; and on the contrary, to pursue righteousnesse, faith, charity, peace, &c. even when these seem to flee from them, as it is, 2 Tim. 2. 22. Both which places relate [Page 51] especially to perrillous times, as the scope in the pre­ceeding words doth hold forth. And if this be not in Ministers, what can be expected amongst the people? and without this, can their carriage or publick Mini­stery have weight to this end? 2. Ministers would be watchfull, not only over sins, but even over of­fences, yea, even over passive offences, lest any by them­selves, or any other be offended, which was our Lords way and the practice of the Apostles, as in the places cited. For, to be offended, is an infirmity and sick­nesse, even when the offence is meerly taken; and for a Minister not to be affected with that, doth hold forth a most unministeriall cru [...]ll disposition; that is spoken of by the Apostle as a great part of the care of the Church, 2 Corinth. 11. 28, 29. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn you? The hearing of a persons stumbling, ought to stound and will stound the heart of a sympathizing Minister, as if it were a fire in his bosome. And were this one thing in vigour, to wit, native sympathie with those that are offended, it would usher-in all other directions: This would make Ministers pray much to have it pre­vented, as our Lord doth, Ioh. 17▪ and Paul doth, Rom. 15. 5. This would make Ministers sparing to give offence, or to laugh at the offences of others, or to despise and sleight those that are offended, much lesse to spread rumours, entertain contentions, or so to aggrege miscarriages in others, as thereby the floud of offences may rather be increased than dried up by them. And it is found, that seldom offences have been in the Church, but Ministers have had a prime hand therein, as if it had been a part of their duty to promove the same: which sayeth, that especially they had need to be watchfull at such a time. 3. Mi­nisters would endeavour much unity amongst them­selves, and unity amongst Professours. There is no keeping off of offences without this; for strife and contention are the fewell by which this plague of [Page 52] scandal is kindled and entertained, when offences are abounding in Corinth: it is the first direction that Paul giveth, 1 Epist. 1 chap. ver. 10. I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Iesus Christ, that ye all speak the same things, that there be no divisions among you, &c. And when he hath been large in two Epistles, he doth almost close with this, 2 Epist. chap. 13. 11. Fi­nally, brethren, farewell: Be perfect, be of good com­fort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of peace shall be with you. And he not only exhorteth to it, But, Rom. 15. 5. he prayeth for it upon the back of all his doctrine and directions concerning offences; Yea, it was the way that our blessed Lord Jesus took, to com­mend union, and to pray for it to His Disciples, lest thereby the world should be stumbled and keeped back from the acknowledging of Him, and the beau­ty of the Church should be obscured, so as the mem­bers thereof should not be known to be His Disciples, as may be at length seen in the Gospel, and particu­larly, Ioh. 17. 4. Ministers would study the di­verting of people from these things which ordinarily breed offences, as striving about words, and jang­ling in controversies not materiall, the judging and condemning of others, and such like; and they would study to be occupied themselves, and to have others exercised in these things that come nearer the power of Godlinesse and the life of Religion. We see when the rest of the Disciples offend at Zebedee's children for their suit, the Lord checks that, and proposeth to them the necessity of humility and mortification, and such like, that he might put the unprofitable question, (who should be greatest?) out of their head, as it is in Matth. chap. 18. 1, &c. and chap. 20. ver. 20, and 25, &c. And this is frequent in Paul's Epistles to Timothy and Titus, whereas upon the one side, he dehorteth from strife, contention, vain jangling, following of fables, and such like, So he doth, upon the other side, exhort to the exercise of godlinesse, and to the pressing of good [Page 53] works, as good and profitable to men in opposition to these, as may be gathered from 1 Tim. chap. 1. ver. 4. 5. and chap. 4. ver. 7, 8. 2 Tim. chap. 2. ver. 14. 15, &c. Titus 3. ver. 8. 9. Yea, the Apostle will have Ministers so serious in this, as to charge and ob­test their hearers (as he did his, 1 Corinth. 1. 10. and Phil. 2. 1.) to eschew these things, and not to strive about words, 1 Tim. 1. 3. 4. 2 Tim. 2. 14, &c. Espe­cially Ministers would beware of mentioning such things unnecessarily, as are the bone of contention, or which may foster mistakes of, or grudges against, others, or make themselves to appear to be carnal, and to walk like men, But rather they would endeavour to hush them to silence, as they would have blocks removed out of the peoples way, otherwise they can­not but lose of their ministeriall authority, and dis­compose the frame of the people, which by all means should be e [...]chewed by them.

The considering of three Scriptures will give a view of Paul's carriage in reference to this, And O how commendable is it! The first is, 1 Corinth. 9. 19, 20. 21, 22, &c. Though I be free from all men, yet have I made my self servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Iews, I became as a Iew, that I might gain the Iews; to them that are under the Law, as under the Law, that I might gain them that are under the Law; to them that are without Law, as without Law, (being not without Law to God, but under the Law to Christ) that I might gain them that are without Law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Where, his condescending to others, his insinuating by all means to win the affection of people, his greedinesse to edifie and save souls, and his endeavouring by his own example to engage others to that same condescending way, are abundantly holden forth as an useful and excellent co­pie to be followed especially by Ministers, who should [Page 54] studie edification at such a time most seriously.

The second is, 2 Corinth. 6. from ver. 1. to ver. 11. It is a great word that he hath ver. 3. Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministery be not blamed: (for un­tendernesse in offences maketh the Ministery obnoxi­ous to contempt) But in all things approving our selves as the Ministers of God; that pointeth out a ministe­riall walk which studieth more the Masters honour, the credit of the Ordinances, and the good of souls, both his own and others, than the pleasing of others, and the making themselves acceptable only a [...] men, or as familiar companions to those they converse with. Then followeth, In much patience, in afflictions, in ne­cessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in [...], in labours, in watchings, in fastings, By pure­nesse, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindnesse, by the holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousnesse, on the right hand, and on the left; By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowfull, yet alway rejoycing; as poor, yet making many rich; as hav­ing nothing, and yet possessing all things. Wherein, as in so many steps, he setteth forth his ministerial walk, for the preventing of offence, being a most excellent description of a patient, diligent, faithfull, denied, impartiall, single, powerfull preacher, driving and pressing the great design of Reconciliation, as his main scope, as from the close of the former Chapter, and the beginning of this, is clear. And this is pointed out as his work at such a time, amongst such a people for such an end, as the preventing of offence.

The third Scripture is▪ 2 Corinth. chap. 11. ver. 28, 29. which was formerly cited, and is worthy to be engraven on a Ministers heart. Beside that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the Churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn [Page 55] not? Never man was more serious in quenching fire in his house than Paul was in removing of offences, and in recovering such as were offended. He was not only carefull not to give offence himself, nor only to keep others from giving offence, nor yet only for re­moving of such as were taken at himself; nay, nor only to satisfie those that were strong that had offend­ed, but the very stumbling, although without cause, of the most weak, ignorant, silly persons, affected him more, than if it had peirced himself. It is not like that he could have continued carelesse of mens con­structions of him, of their being grieved and made weak, or of their being offended any other way, (as, alas, it is like too many do now!) It was no matter of laughing to him to hear of the sadnesse of any, that did proceed even from mistakes; and there was no rest in his mind till such an infirmity was cured. These three places and others, being soberly considered in their matter and scope, will give the serious consci­encious Minister insight in a great part of his duty, and (it may be) in no little part of his sin and chal­lenge at such a time. The Notes also of the Reverend Master Dickson upon the same subject, (worthy to be taken notice of) do more fully confirm this. Happy were the Ministers that were of such a frame and of such a practice; And happy were the Church under their inspection. O that it may once thus be!

PART II. Concerning Publick Scandals, or Scandals as they are the object of Church-censures; and more particularly, as they are practical, or, in practice.

IT resteth now that we should speak something of Scandal as it is the object of Church-discipline; for that is implyed here, to wit, That this scan­dal, given by the Nicolaitans, was such as ought to have been taken notice of by the Church-officers: for, the neglect thereof is reproved by the Lord; and in such a case privat admonitions are not sufficient. We may therefore speak a word to these Questions, 1. When a Scandal is to be esteemed publick, that is, to be taken notice of by a Church-judicatory. 2. What Order is to be observed in proceeding therein. 3. What is to be accounted a sufficient ground for removing of such an offence, so as it may [...]ist all ecclesiastick Processe, or may remove a Sentence when it is passed. 4. What is the duty of private Christians, when Church-officers seem to be, and possibly indeed are, defective in reference to this?

CHAP. I. Shewing that every Offence is not publick, and when it is so.

COncerning the first Question, we lay down these grounds, 1. Every thing offensive is not publick, or immediatly to be brought before a Church-judicatory. Of this sort are, 1. sins of [Page 57] infirmity, which possibly may be offensive for the time, Yet the persons way being considered, they are to be thought to proceed from his infirmity, they being incident to such who are in some serious man­ner watchfull over their way; and therefore are not the object of Discipline, which is to curb and restrain the more grosse humours of Professors: Otherwayes the exercise of Discipline, in reference to infirmities, would utterly prove an intanglement both to Officers and Members, and so occasion more stumbling, contrary to Christ's scope. 2. Offences that are in disputable practices, or that flow from miscarriage in things indifferent, are not properly the object of Church-censure, because there is not solid accesse of through convincing the party. Hence we see, that in these disputes concerning indifferent things, or of practices following thereupon, the Apostles reprove mens untendernesse in them, but do never make them the ground of Censure as such, except they be aggre­ged by some other circumstance. Of this sort al [...]o are offences that may proceed from mens carriage in legal pursuits and civil contracts which may offend; yet cannot they be legally convinced to have broken a rule, when the strain of their way is legal, although it may be sinfull before God, and be to be reproved by private admonition where men have accesse. 3. Some offences are grosse, and, it may be, known to some to be true; yet possibly there is no convin­cing way of demonstrating the truth thereof to o­thers: in that case, it's more safe and edifying to for­bear publick mentioning of that scandal, than to pro­secute the same, seing it may more irritate the person, and weaken the Church-authority, than edifie. 4. Some scandals are grosse, and may be made-out by two or three witnesses; yet are not immediatly to be brought to publick, except upon the supposi­tion of following obstinacy, and not satisfying of those two or three, which especially is to be consi­dered, [Page 58] if the persons carriage be otherwayes cleanly▪ This is Christ's expresse rule, Mat. 18. and to bring it immediatly to publick, is not consistent with that love that we ought to have to one another: For, charity requireth that he should be admonished, and also if he hear, that it should sist; Otherwayes, such being satisfied as were offended, it were to waken a scan­dal, and not to remove one. But now especially we consider what is a publick scandal in respect of its nature, and afterward we shall enquire when it is so to be accounted publick in respect of its notority; and so when immediatly it is to be brought in pub­lick: for, it is certain▪ that these two may be divided, and so are to be distinguished, as was formerly hinted. For, a scandal may be publick, to say so, for its notority, but yet not for its nature.

2. Scandals may be of that nature, that it is fitWhen a scan­dall is to be brought to publick. to take publick notice of them, and to follow them with Church-censures till they be removed. This is clear in the Lord's rep [...]oving the neglect of publick Censure in these Churches; for, His finding fault that they had such, and suffered such (as in the next Epi­stle) can be construct [...]d no otherwayes, but that they did not by Church-censure cut them off from their fellowship, which is elsewhere abundantly clear. And it is true in these cases, 1. When a scandal is of its own nature grosse and infectious, like a little leaven ready to leaven the whole lump. 2. When it is clear and in the matter of fact cannot be denied: the first is requisit to a publick scandal for convincing of the conscience of the evil it self; the second for making application of the consequents of such an evil to such a person. 3. An offence becometh pub­lick, though it be not of its own nature so at first, if it be afterward aggreged by such circumstances as ob­stinacy and contempt of private admonition, frequent relapsing therein, and such like, as Christ's rule, Matth. 18. and the general nature of offence doth [Page 59] confirm: Scandals that are so circumstantiated, and they only, are to be taken notice of by Church-judi­catories as the proper object of Church-discipline. Hence we may see a great difference betwixt offence as it is the object of private discretion, and as it is the object of Church-discipline. I call them grosse evils and of an infectious nature, which are against a clear Law of God, and of that influence in a man's christian walk, as any sober man▪ acquainted with the Word of God, and reflecting upon conscience, cannot but acknowledge to be sinfull, obstructive to the work of grace where they are, and tending to the marring the beauty of a Church, and the edification and salvation of her members if they should spread, such as Sabbath-breaking, swearing, and what doth directly contradict a moral command, these things are obviously censurable. And upon this occasion, I cannot but much wonder at, and regrate the unwar­rantable expressions, at least, in the matter of fact, of a Learned man, Mr. Baxter against Blake, pag. 130. his words are, In some Countries, where some oaths are grown customary and of no great evil repute, it is possible for a godly man to be long guilty of them, as it is known that many well reputed of for godlinesse are in Scot­land, &c. where he doth misrepresent the Church of Scotland in a twofold mistake (to say no more.) 1. as if some swearing were so customary in Scotland as to abound even amongst the Godly. 2. As if it were not taken notice of, or of no evil repute or scanda­lou [...]: It is like, this may be his information, but certainly Christian charity would have pleaded, that such information should not have been received against a Brother, without some convincing ground; much lesse to have been vented as a thing known against a Christian Church, which, however she be otherwise afflicted and rent, and so obnoxious to much contempt and reproach, yet hath a witnesse both in Heaven and Earth of zeal against that sin, and in­nocencie [Page 60] in that respect, as to these that are Godly, even but seemingly, There being nothing more ab­horred by a godly heart, and accounted a greater evi­dence of profanity amongst us, than customary irre­verent medling with the holy Name of God, and swearing of any kind: and although we be many wayes guilty before God, even in this respect; yet we suppose she may hold up her face therein, beside, and with, any Church on earth.

3. We say, That even among these Scandals thatWhere offen­ces are pub­lick, yet dif­ference is to made. are in this sense publickly to be taken notice of, there is many wayes difference to be made in the prosecut­ing of them, and that in diverse respects. 1. Some scandals are of such grosse nature and publicknesse in the fact, that they cannot be passed without some publick rebuke, at least, even though the person should seem satisfyingly to resent his deed, because in this, respect is to be had to the edification of others, and not of the person only. 2. Some scandals again are such, as by authoritative admonition may be helped: and in this sense, if a person hear the Church-guides and take their admonition, there is no further pro­gresse to be made. Again, 3. sometimes persons are to be followed with the highest censure of Excommu­nication, when open rebukes cannot do the businesse, as we see in the case before us, and other practices of Pauls. And we suppose, that such a scandal as hath this Sentence following upon it, would be in the gros­nesse of its nature, and clearnesse of its proof, con­vincingly made out both to the person himself, and to others. Because, 1. otherwise it may make this great Ordinance contemptible, if upon like, or disputable grounds, it be drawn forth. 2. Neither can it have weight with the person to gain its end upon him natively, as a Church-ordinance ought to have, the first step whereof is, convincingly to argue him to the sense of his fault, as the word is, Matth. 18. 15. 3. Neither can it be expected to have such [Page 61] weight with others who ordinarily carry towards them that are under it, as they are convinced of the weightinesse or lightnesse of the ground of that Sen­tence. 4. The nature of this Ordinance cleareth this also; for (as Divines say) it is added to confirm Gods threatnings, as Sacraments do seal the promises; then it importeth, that there must be a clear threatning ere this can be appended; and there can be no such threatning applyed, but where both the sin in its na­ture, and the fact in its notority are convincing; and indeed all the precedents of this Sentence in Scripture are of this nature, to wit, they are both rare, and also upon most convincingly grosse evils. I cannot ex­presse it better than it is done by that Reverend Di­vine, Mr. Thomas Hooker of New England in his Hi­story, part 3. pag. 39. Such evils, (the words are his) which are either heynous and abommable, as fornication, murther, adultery, incest, treason, &c. or, if not so grosse, yet carry the face of evil in their forehead, upon the first serious and well grounded consideration of reason; and have been pertinaciously and obstinatly persisted in after the improvement of all means upon them for conviction and reformation: These only deserve Excommunication by the rules of Christ, 1 Cor. 5. Matth. 18. 17. thus far he. Advert, that what we speak here of a pub­lick scandal, is spoken in respect of the nature thereof; what is to be accounted such, in respect of its mani­festnesse and notoritie, followeth afterward to be spoken of.

CHAP. II. Concerning what order is to be keeped in the fol­lowing of publick Scandals.

THe second thing, to wit what order and man­ner is to be observed in the following of pub­lick Scandal▪ is not easily determinable, there being such variety of cases in which the Lord exer­ciseth the prudence and wisdom of his Church-offi­cers: and indeed the gift of Government (to speak so) doth especially kyth in the right managing of Discipline, in reference to the severall humours and constitutions (to say so) which men have to do with. For, as in bodily diseases the same cure is not for the same disease in all constitutions and seasons, and as Ministers in their Doctrine are to presse the same things in diverse manners, upon diverse auditories; So this cure of discipline, is not to be applied equally unto all persons; nay, not to such as are in the same offences. For, that which would scarce humble one, may crush another; and that which might edifie one, might be stumbling to another, of another temper. Therefore we suppose there is no peremptor determin­ing of rules for cases here, but necessarily the man­ner of procedor in the application of rules, is to be left to the prudence and conscienciousnesse of Church­officers, according to the particular circumstantiate case. Yet we may lay down these generals▪

1. All publick processing of scandalous persons,The ends of Disci­pline. or judiciall taking notice of scandals, would be done with respect to the ends for which Discipline is ap­pointed, and so as may attain the same. This, I sup­pose, cannot be denied: for, the mids must be suited to its end. Now▪ the ends of publick Censuring, are, 1. for vindicating the honour of J [...]sus Christ, that suffereth in the miscarriage of a member. 2. The [Page 63] preserving of the authority of His Ordinances, and the chastening of disobedience thereunto, Therefore it is called, 2 Corinth. 2. 6. The punishment that was inflicted, and chap. 10. 6. This is said to revenge all disobedience, it being appointed as an Ecclesiastick whip to keep up His Authority in His House, and thereby to note those that are unruly therein, 2 Thess. 3. 6, 14. 3. It is for the persons good, as it is said, 1 Corinth. 5. 5. for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved, that by this, admonitions, re­proofs, yea, threatnings, may have the more weight, for the persons humiliation and up-stirring: and the constraining of them at least to a more orderly walk in the Church, as the Apostle hath it, 2 Thess. 3. 6, and 14. 4. It is for the good of the Church, that the leaven of profanity spread not, and that others may thereby learn to fear: This reason is given, 1 Cor. 5. 6, 7 &c. and 1 Tim. 5. 20. Now, when we speak of the end of publick trial and censure, respect is to be had to all these, but especially to the more publick and generall ends, so as the persons particu­lar edification be not neglected; and therefore in pro­cedor, particular and speciall respect would be had to that manner (whether by m [...]eknesse, or rigidity, by forbearing or proceeding) which may most attain these ends.

Hence, 2. we say, that the same offences, uponAll offences of the same kind, not al­way equally to be d [...]alt with. the matter, are not equally nor at all times, nor in all persons, and, it may be, in all places in the same man­ner, to be pursued and followed; and the reason is clear, because according to circumstances, that man­ner which is edifying at one time, and in one case, may be destructive in another, and so is not to be fol­lowed, because that power which God hath given is for edification and never for destruction, 2 Corinth. 13. 10. And accordingly, we see Paul in some cases censuring corrupt men, as Hymeneus and Phyletus, 1 Tim. 1. 20. Sometimes again, he threatneth and yet spareth, al­though [Page 64] the scandal in it self deserved Censure, as when he saith, Gal. 5. I wish they were cut off that trouble you, and yet doth it not, because he found not the Churches edification so to require. So also, 2 Corinth. 10. 4. and 6. Having in a readinesse to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled: which yet he thought not meet for the time to do, lest it should have irritated to more disobedience, and have bred some greater rent or schism, or have made the authority of the Or­dinances lesse weighty, and so have marred his end, which was in all things (and so in this forbearing) their edification, as he expresseth it, chap. 12. 19. Brethren, we do all things (and so this also) for your edifying.

When I speak of edifying, I do not speak of plea­sing the persons (for, that may be often destructive to them, and others also) But this is intended, that it is to be weighed in Christian prudence, whether consi­dering the time and place we live in, the nature of the person we have to do with, and of those also among whom we live, it be more fit to follow this way with such a person, at such a time, or another way? and accordingly as it seemeth probable, that this way will honour God most, more fully vindi­cate His Ordinances, gain the person from sin to holi­nesse, at least, to a regular walk, and edifie others most; So accordingly ought Church-judicatories to take the way that leadeth most probably to that end. And therefore it ought not alwayes to be accounted parti­ality when such difference in Church-procedour is observed: yet these things would by all means beWhat is to be guarded against, when there is a different way taken in censuring the same of­fences. guarded against.

1. That nothing be done with respect to persons, or appear to be done so; that is, for outward, civil, or naturall respects, to be more gentle to one than to another, than which nothing is more derogatory to ecclesiastick Authority, and stumbling to people.

2. This difference of proceeding, would rather be in [Page 65] the manner and circumstances of proceeding in refe­rence to some offences, than in dispensing with what seemeth to be materiall; or, it would be in such of­fences where there is no settled rule, and wherein Church-officers have more latitude: as for instance, some offences are of that publick nature that usually they are followed with a publick reproof; such cannot be conveniently past-by in any ordinary conceivable case, suppose it be fornication, or some such thing; yet, in the manner of citing and dealing with the per­son, or expressing or timeing of the reproof, there may be condescending; but to omit it altogether, would hazard the casting loose of that Ordinance of publick reproof, which would mar the edification of the Church more than advantage any particular party: Other offences again, are more occasional▪ in reference to which, there is no definit law, or practice; suppose it be speaking, reproachfull words of some persons, Officers, or others, in such there is more li­berty to condescend which way may be most con­vincing to the party. Lastly, in trying what may be most edifying, we are not to look to one end alone, to wit, the persons particular good only, or the pub­lick good only, &c. but to put all together, and to try how joyntly they may be best attained.

3. From this also it will appear, that Church-offi­cersHow Church officers ought to carry in Censures. ought with such tendernesse, love and sympathie to walk in publick Censures, as not only they may have a testimony in their own Consciences, but also that those who have offended, and others that ob­serve their way, may also be convinced of the same; for, if this be not, what can their Censure gain? and if it be needfull for a Minister in preaching, to study that, it is in some respect more necessary here: be­cause ordinarily, men out of their corruption, are more ready to mistake mens intentions in this: and we conceive, that in this a Church-judicatories proce­dour, ought discernably to differ from a civil Court, [Page 66] in that they are not only out of Justice censuring the party, with a respect to the common body, for whose good in some cases the most penitent member must be cut off, and cannot be reprived, but as endeavouring the Churches freedom from offences, that the offend­ing member may be thereby with all tendernesse re­stored and cured; and in experience we see, that often Church-censures have weight, as they are constructed to proceed from love. And we conceive, that the following of these and such like directions, may have much influence for attaining of this. 1. That no­thing be rashly and hastily brought to publick, but that which is a convincing Scandal in it self, clear in the matter of fact, and also after privat dealing with the person, and triall of his carriage afterward: if the scandal be not very grosse and publick▪ Hastie bringing to publick, irritateth: and if a private ad­monition of Minister and Elders might gain a Bro­ther, what needeth further? And by so doing, a person is convinced, that that Minister, or Elder, de­sireth his amendment, and on that condition to cover his offence. 2. There would be no rigid insisting in what is personall, in reference to any of the Judica­tory, as suppose, they should sometimes get snarling answers, or unbecoming words, or be met with by irreverent carriage: in that case, there would be con­descending, and what is offensive beside, would be insisted on, and these personall things forborn. It is true, the authority of the Ordinances would ever be kept up, yet that is not alwayes done by a rigid pro­secuting of personal reflections; but on the contrary, it often looketh likest Christs Ordinance, when meek­nesse is most prevalent, and so in the end, it cometh to have greater weight; for, many cannot discern be­twixt Officers seeking their own authority, and the authority of the Ordinances; and when the rise of the offence is from a miscarriage to some person im­mediately, it looketh to them to be carnall and vin­dictive [Page 67] like, and so hath the appearance of evil, and is to be eschewed. This we may observe also in Pauls carriage, and in the practices of most zealous men, who never wronged the Ordinances by denying of their own respect in such cases. And Church-officers would especially advert to this, because often in our hotest fits, it is rather respect to our own authority, than zeal for Christ that acteth us, which appeareth by this, that a practical contempt of the Ordinances in our own hands▪ will st [...]r more than many other grosse evils, or doctrinall blasphemies, or contemptuous practices which immediately reflect on others, al­though these may be [...]ore dishonourable to Christ. 3. For attaining this end, the rigidity and strictnesse of law would not be stuck to, as the persons not ap­pearing at such a day if afterward they condescend; their hastinesse in expressing themselves rashly at one time, or carrying themselves irreverently, which af­terward they may passe from: these and such like, I say, are not to be stuck to, lest Church-officers seem, under pretext of Church-discipline, to take advantage of them; and it is an evidence of the contrary, when they are condescended unto in this. Advert, this is to be observed in practices that seem to [...]low from in­firmity; but, suppose the person were some subtile, deceitfull, dissembling one, using his pretexts of re­pentance for furthering his design▪ this condescension may be hurtfull to the Church of God, in leting such an occasion slip, and therefore is not to be admitted. 4. It contributeth to this end also, that publick ap­pearances and publick rebukes be not frequent, nor in cases but such as are in the nature and evidence thereof convincing, and that also after private ad­monitions have been fruitlesly given. We suppose that mid step in Christs direction, Matth. 18. doth warrand this, Take to thee two or three before thou tell the Church. Hastie bringing to publick reproof, is constructed by many to be a seeking of their shame, [Page 68] but when it is rare, and done in the order foresaid, and also with some reasons why a publick rebuke in such a case is just and expedient, seing other means have failed, and the condition of others calleth for that now, &c. it doth much allay that prejudice; for every man hath reason and a conscience, though many often want the exercise thereof. We find also pub­lick rebukes rare in Scripture: And although some­times, a publick appearing may be thought most edi­fying to the Congregation; Yet, 1. If they were very frequent, they would lose their weight. 2. One publick rebuke in this manner▪ and order, will edifie more than many otherwise: for, it is not the multitude of them that edifieth, but the convincingness of the manner of proceeding. And therefore we conceive it is never fit to multiply publick rebukes, even sup­posing that scandals were multiplied, but that some should be pitched-on that might most convincingly edifie, and that private dealing with others for con­viction be made the more weighty, which also is the judgement of the great Augustine. 3. Peoples offend­ing for the omiting of publick rebukes, is, when the scandal thereof doth flow from this, that they con­ceive it to proceed from carlesnesse, negligence, par­tiality, or some such thing in the Officers, whereas, if by custome it shall be known to a people, that Offi­cers are diligent observers of these things, and are not defective in dealing with scandalous persons for con­vincing of them, and do take this way as the most loving and tender mean of their [...]aining, such man­ner of proceeding will be more convincing and edify­ing▪ than if the thing were instantly brought to pub­lick; for, people generally approve of tendernesse and condescending in Church-officers, as looking like love to the gaining of souls, and so lay much weight on their Censuring, even of others, when they see them, as it were, constrained thereto. And on the contrary, there is nothing more offensive to them [Page 69] than when this tendernesse is desiderated. It is to be guarded here, that this be not made a cloak to negli­gence and unfaithfulnesse; for, diligence and freedom is to be no lesse used with the parties, yea more, than if they were brought to publick. Only, this fore­bearance is to be made use of as a mean for making that diligence and freedom the more succesfull: other­wise, whether it be forborn or followed, it conti­nueth still to be hurtfull. Also, when one of these abounding scandals, or scandalous persons is rebuked▪ then especially the Minister would so gravely and zealously agrege that evil, that in some respect all that are under it may be reproved, and his indignation at it may be so discernable, that that one reproof may be in place of many, and yet the forbear­ance will give accesse for some to come off the same.

4. It is also to be remembered, that this exercise ofHow Dis­cipline is so to be order­ed, [...]s it may not mar but further the Word. Discipline for restraining of scandals, is to be subser­vient to the preaching of the Word: which is the main and great edifying Ordinance; Therefore Dis­cipline would be ordered so as it may not mar, but further that. In reference to which, these things are to be adverted to, 1. That no censure would be blindly or implicitely made use of, but both in refe­rence to the party, and others, there would be instru­ction, exhortation, conviction, &c. by the Word, going before, or alongst with the same. In which respect (though improperly) Censures may be some way looked upon as Sacraments in a large sense in these particular cases, because there is in them both some signifying and confirming use; They being con­sidered with respect to the end wherefore they were appointed. 2. Church-officers, especially Mini­sters, would not make Discipline the great uptaking businesse, so as it may prove an intanglement unto them, or diversion from the Ministery of the Word: The great Apostles, Act. 6. thought not fit to be [Page 70] diverted with the serving of Tables, but appointed Deacons to be chosen for that end, that they might give themselves principally, and, in comparison of other duties, fully (or as they say themselves, ver. 4. continually) to prayer, that is, to the private exercise thereof; and the Ministery of the Word, that is, the preaching thereof in publick. By which we may see, 1. what a Ministers great task is, wherein he should be taken up, to wit, secret prayer, (under which are comprehended, reading, meditation, and other du­ties meet for his own particular case, and preparation for the duties of his calling, as may be gathered from 1 Tim. 4. 13, 14, 15.) and the publick preaching of the Gospel. 2. We see also, that though Ministers are virtually both Elders and Deacons, (as the Apostles were) yet ought they to regulat their ex­ercising of both these, with respect to the former two. And, 3. that Elders and Deacons ought in govern­ing, and overseeing the poor, to have special respect to keep Ministers from being burthened or toyled with these, that they may have freedom to follow the Mi­nistery of the Word, as the main thing: Yea, even to have much accesse to privacy and solitarinesse, which is both most necessary for, and a well becoming duty to a Minister; This is a special end of the appoint­ment of these Officers, and in reference to which they are helps, 1 Cor. 12. 28. both to the people and to the Ministers. A third thing to be adverted to, is, that contentious and irritating processes be so fol­lowed, as by these there be no prejudice laid before persons▪ to make them stumble at the Word, or to render it the more unprofitable. It is true▪ sometimes such things are necessary for the good of the body, and for the vindicating of Christs Ordinances, yet as much as may be they would be shuned, and Mini­sters especially ought to carry so in the manner, as to keep room for the Word in the affections of the par­ties. And we conceive, that multiplying and length­ning [Page 71] of processes (except where there is grave and weighty cause) and the way of triall of members, penitents, or such as are to be admitted to Sacra­ments, which is pleaded for by some, if it were put in practice, could not but much intangle Ministers, yea, become a more weighty and intolerable burthen to them, than the preaching of the Word: yea, could not but be obstructive thereto, contrary to the nature of Discipline, as said is.

CHAP. III. Shewing that Christs order and method, Matth. 18. is to be keeped, and what it doth imply.

THe fourth generall concerning proceeding in publick Scandals, which we would lay down, is, that Christs order, Mat. 18. be indispensab­ly kept. Which we conceive, being compared with other Scriptures, doth imply these things, 1. That offences whether they be in lesser patticulars, or in more grosse things, yet if they be but known to few, are not instantly to be brought to publick, (except some circumstance necessitate the same for greater edi­fication) and this order is to be observed both by Officers and private persons. It were not therefore unfit, when any delation cometh by an Elder, or com­plaint by a private Professor, to enquire if they had observed this rule with such a party? and if alone, and with some others, friendly and rationally they have endeavoured to convince them? and if not, that they be remitted to follow that way, and if they have done it, It would be enquired, if their so doing have had no weight? Or if the person hath conti­nued in the offence notwithstanding? If none of these can be said, there is yet no ground for publick tabling of a scandal: and this we suppose would cut off many needlesse processes, and prove more edifying. [Page 72] 2. It is clear from that place, that the offences to be complained of, are not injuries or wrongs to us un­der that notion as such, but what is offensive in its na­ture and under that consideration, whether any wrong be intended to us in it or not. It is not suitable to a Church-court to have only persons complaining of wrongs done to themselves, as if they be cursed, de­ [...]amed, &c. and yet not to take notice of what is of­fensive, as wronging the honour of God, reflecting upon the profession of the Gospel, and really laying a stumbling-block before themselves and others. This is to neglect scandals, and to take notice of slanders, which, as we said, differ from these. Hence, such persons ordinarily follow their complaints with much bitterness, and never seek to convince the party pri­vately. We conceive therefore, that such direct com­plaints, so circumstantiate, ought not to be admitted, at least, upon that consideration; lest the Ordinance of Christ be made subservient to mens particular pas­sions and interests. It is therefore more fit when such offences arise, that they be taken notice of abstractly from such complaints, and that in the order that other scandals are to come in, whereof now we are speak­ing. 3. It is clear from that order, Matth. 18 that when the person offending, doth accept of the admo­nition, there is no mention further to be made there­of; yea, it would not be so much as reported private­ly, if it be not otherwayes known. 4. If that pri­vate admonition prevail not, then is the person to take two or three with him before it come to the Church, and this is not to be done superficially, and for exo­neration meerly, but convincingly, and for the per­sons edification. Therefore we suppose, that this is not to be astricted to one time, either in private, or before these two or three: for, once speaking may be but little usefull; and seing the Church is to continue in dealing with the person before they give him over and proceed, and before they can account that he [Page 73] heareth not them, So ought it to be in the preceeding two steps, seing the words are the same. Again, I say, this would be done convincingly, they would argue (as the word is) with the offending brother, and not rest satisfied with some passing word or ad­monition. Further, these two or three would be chosen, so as may be most fit for that purpose, and may have most weight with him, (we think some Elder, one at least, or two, were not unfit) and this would be done purposly, gravely and seriously, as the words, Take with thee, &c. import. All this is to preceed the bringing of a scandal to publick, which is to sist here if this prevail. Whence, 5. also we may see, that every scandal which is known to two or three, is not to be accounted a publick scandal, and at the first instant to be brought to the Church, be­cause it is supposed, that these two or three may have knowledge of the same scandal, and yet may it war­rantably never come to publick, if the person hear them. It looketh unlike this way to bring scandals to publick, wherein scarce two witnesses can be had. Indeed, after the fault noised and flagrant, and the presumption is great, and the party suspect like, such things are publickly to be taken notice of, though the proofs be not so pregnant. 6. If this do not the bu­sinesse, but the person continueth obstinate, although to the conviction of those two or three assessors, the fact be grosse, and the party guilty, then it is to be brought to publick▪ either immediately by the person that was stumbled, or by an Elder, (for which cause, we said, it was not unmeet that one of these should be among the former witnesses) When it cometh to the Church, we conceive, that with the parties, it were meet to call some one, or moe of those who were witnesses of the private admonition, that the Judica­tory may be informed by them of the case, seing probably they may be more impartiall than the other. And it will be conduceable for attaining [Page 74] clearnesse in the thing, to know what hath preceeded▪ and where it left; and this would make private ad­monitions and witnesses therein, to have the more weight with men; for, knowing that their carriage at such a time would be made manifest to others, it would have influence to make them at first more ra­tionall and sober, if they knew that what they said then, would afterward be repeated to them before two or three; and what they spoke before those, were to be again impartially reported to the Eldership▪ And we conceive, it is for this cause amongst others, that Christ calleth them witnesses, and such witnesses, as may establish the matter, which must be rather in their testifying to the Church, than in private ac­companying the offended party. Fo [...], when a per­son bringeth such an offence to a publick Judicatory, he must make out these two, 1. That such a person hath actually given offence, 2. That he hath effe­ctually admonished him▪ and he hath not heard him, not satisfied him. Now, though the first be made out by other witnesses, yet the last cannot be made out but by such as were called by him; and therefore with respect to that, they are called wit­nesses by our Lord, as is said.

When this is done, the convincing and recovery of the party is yet to be essayed; and for that end, pains are to be taken, with all patience, gentlenesse, and long-suffering: if that prevail, there is no further pro­cedour called-for; if not, then publick admonitions and rebukes are to be added. If nothing prevail, the Sentence of Excommunication is to be added, the ground being convincingly scandalous in its nature, and clear in its evidence, as was formerly said; and it will not be found often in a Church where that pro­gresse is keeped, that it will come to this.

If the offences be of that nature, that a publick re­buke be necessary, in respect of the circumstances and aggravations thereof, it is not to be neglected: [Page 75] Yet, it is not necessary that every offence that cometh to the Eldership, yea, even these that are known to many, should at all times be brought to a publick re­buke. For, if the Sessional or Elderships admoniti­on have weight with the party, what needeth more in reference to him? And if there be no hazard that others be infected by that deed, or provoked by that example, there is no necessity alwayes in reference to them, especially, where it is known that such offences are not passed. For, that is one end of publick re­bukes, 1 Tim. 5. 20. That others may fear. Yea, much more we conceive, that many offences may be brought the length of publick rebukes, which yet are not to be drawn out unto Excommunication, even though compleat satisfaction seem not to be given. Because, 1. that Sentence is not to proceed, but upon weighty convincing causes, as is said, 2. Because, if the cause be convincing, the person offending may be ex­pected sometimes upon after thoughts to admit of con­viction, though distemper or prejudice may for a time keep it off, as experience doth prove.

But where the case is such as hazardeth infection to others, and the persons such as are contemptuous and ready to spread their leaven, as was both in the case of the doctrine and deeds of these Nicolaitans, the Sentence is to proceed, and that more summarily: I say, more summarily in comparison of what is pas [...], yet not altogether summarily; for, Paul alloweth an Heretick to be once and again admonished, Tit. 3. 10. And in this Chapter, the Lord giveth Iezebel time to repent: and here, those corrupt persons are exhorted to repent before He come to fight against them with the sword of His mouth, ver. 16. which (as we take it) looketh to the same Sentence. We will not be peremptory to deny what may be done when the crime is atrocious, the evidence palpable, the scandal great, the contemptuousnesse of the party, by their former and present carriage, rendering all hopes of [Page 76] recovering so desperate, that there is not so much as accesse to get a hearing, and a following of convicti­ons, and the hazard of the scandal not admitting of delay: I say, in such a case, we will not deny what may be done for the Churches edification more sum­marily; yet we are sure, ordinarily the way laid down is to be followed.

CHAP. IV. Holding forth the frame wherewith Church-Offi­cers should proceed in Censure, and helps to­wards the same.

IN the last place, the manner of proceeding in all this, is especially to be looked to, without which all the rest will be weightlesse. Therefore in all the procedure, the Church-officers especially would have a zealous, serious, grave and authoritative manner of carriage, having weight and authority in their least looks and words, with all gravity: For, can that admonition have weight with others, that ap­peareth not to have weight with those that give it? Or, can the scandalous be serious in hearing, when there is no conviction on them, that they are serious and affected that speak? Ministers therefore especi­ally, as also Elders in their place, would endeavour seriously and zealously with all tendernesse to the per­son, to expresse their indignation at, and abhorrency of such deeds; as it is commended in Ephesus, ver. 6. that they hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans. And cer­tainly, a Court of Christs ought to look like Him, and like that businesse intrusted to them, and to have a different stamp from other Courts. And there is no­thing that weakneth the authority of a Sentence more than the want of this. For helping therefore to it, we propose, 1. That the conversations of such as take notice of Scandals in others, should be shining them­selves, [Page 77] There can be no weightinesse without this; because the weight and authority that is to be stu­died here, is that which may be convincing to con­sciences, rather than compulsive to the outward man: and upon this ground, it is not the most honourable and rich that give Church-judicatories most autho­rity, But those who are most shining and convincing in their carriage, particularly in reference to this trust: For, though outward place may gain more outward respect, yet this cannot but have more weight upon the conscience, which is especially to be affected by this Church-authority. 2. We would be­ware of founding this authority upon carnal grounds, or to lay the weight of it there, such as the power and authority of men; yea, or upon our own place, parts, or weight: and upon that account (as it were) to boast, rather than to perswade or convince. This sometimes may have weight as to some outward con­formity, but doth ever lose more of its native weigh­tinesse: Therefore Ministers and Elders in the prose­cuting of this, would lay the weight here, that it is Christ's Ordinance, and that they act in His Name. 3. They would even in that procedure aim especial­ly to deal with consciences to convince them, rather than to wrangle with corruptions, or to throw the outward man. 4. The Masters honour would ever be respected, yea, reverently and frequently menti­oned, that all of them may be put and kept in minde that it is His Ordinance, and appointed for such an end: and the more room He get in the meeting, the more weight will their procedure have. 5. Mini­sters, and Elders particularly, would pray for the bles­sing to Discipline, as well as to the Word; and for the persons offending, even those that appear to be most stuborn, this becometh their ministerial autho­rity well to acknowledge Him, and is the way to have His presence in the midst of them, without which they can expect no weight; and the more He [Page 78] be seen that is the Master, the more authority will they have who are the Servants. 6. It helps this also to have the matter and proofs convincing. There­fore particulars that look self-like, or siding with in­terests, or such as are involved in civil debates and contests, are to be shunned, or at least, not to be in­sisted upon: for, readily a convincing weighty mat­ter, will have some impression of it self upon consci­ences. Hence, we will find in Scripture that gene­rally (if not alwayes) publick processes are tabled upon scandals that flow from commissions, and that of such nature, as is said. It is true, where an omis­sion is owned, as suppose one should refuse to pray, or where palpably defended, and is not of infirmity, as idlenesse was in Thessalonica, 1 Epist. chap. 3. such are by their circumstances rather indeed commissions, and so to be accounted after admonition, and upon just ground are convincing. 7. There would be weight, gravity, impartiality, self-deniednesse, and affection kything in every circumstance, that they may look like the servants of Jesus Christ, who are seeking thee good of His people; and so foolish sport­ing and laughing, idle and triviall questions, passio­nate words, heat, or particular and personall refle­ctions, and the like, are most derogatory to the autho­rity of a Church-judicatory, and do mar the weight of any Sentence upon a conscience, as is evident in daily experience, where sometimes Censures in their giving and receiving, are, upon the matter, an irre­verent taking of the name of the Lord in vain. 8. There would be in all this, an holy boldnesse▪ and an undauntoned fearlesnesse in respect of men. When it cometh to any difficulty, minding the authority of Him whom we represent; yet so, as in this boldnesse, conscience of duty and zeal may both in our own consciences, and to the conviction of others, be the ground, end and motive thereof, and not any car­nall flash of passion or pride, or fit of naturall cou­rage, [Page 79] which may make Church-officers look like men, but not like their master; for, as His Kingdom is not of this world in these respects, so ought His Officers to administrate the same otherwayes than a wor [...]ly au­thority useth to be; our weapons are not carnall, but spirituall, and mighty through God, and therefore as such should be used.

The last general direction concerning this, is, thatChurch-pro­cesses would be carried­on with ex­pedition. when Scandals are thus to be taken notice of, this proceeding ought to be with expedition: my meaning is not, that we should precipitate contrary to the for­mer directions; But, 1. That after notice of an of­fence, with all conveniency, the first steps of this pro­cedure would be essayed. 2. That there would not be long intervals betwixt these steps, although they may be frequently repeated. 3. That persons would not be kept long under processe, especially they would not have their appearances multiplied, except when it may be for good use. The reasons of all these, are▪ 1. Because when offences are fresh, then often the parties offending, and offended, as also others, are most affected therewith; whereas, if a long time in­terveen, that edge weareth away, and whatever the close be, it proveth not so edifying to any. 2. Men weary, and so fall from that zealous, serious manner of carriage in it that becometh, for our spirits are soon out of bensall, and that deroga [...]eth from the weight of the thing. 3. It proveth irritating and burthensom to the parties offending, rather than con­vincing, and so the end is missed. 4. It hath also influence upon the confusing and burthening of Offi­cers when processes are multiplied and lengthened, and it cometh some way to look like mens civil Courts, and that in such things as they use to be grie­vous unto these who are necessitate to wait on them.

To close this, we conceive it were fit for the au­thority of Church-judicatories, the weight of ad­monition, and the edification of persons, that there [Page 80] were some specially set apart for government, although they were fewer: And, O that this might be attained! for, ordinary conversing of Elders in common and ordinary Callings, doth not a little obscure the weight of that Ordinance to many, except the conversation of the Elder in such things be singularly convincing: And untill this be attained, there is the greater need for Church-officers to be as little in common businesse and discourses with those over whom they are set, as conveniently may be, that there may be the more ac­cesse to converse with them as becometh Officers; and when necessity calleth to it, there is need of gravity and circumspectnesse, that it mar not their weight in the duties of their office at any other time. And also Church-officers in their meetings amongst them­selves, would be alwayes grave and serious, as being about an Ordinance of Jesus Christ.

CHAP. V. Concerning what is to be done, when offending persons give no satisfaction.

IF it be asked then, what is to be done, supposing persons not to give any satisfaction, even when they are brought to publick? This is indeed a dif­ficulty, and will, no question, pusle any consciencious Church-officer; Yet we suppose, we may classe such offences that are brought to publick in these three sorts, and then answer. 1. Some offences are in matters that are lesse horrid and scandalous, and come neerer to sins of infirmity, which yet are scanda­lous, being continued in suppose officious lying, angry passionat words, and such like, where these are re­peated, the persons are to be rebuked in some cases; yet if they be not contemptuous, or the ills otherwise aggreged, we see not how there can be proceeding to Excommunication upon such grounds, because Ex­communication [Page 81] is a chastisement for some singular offenders, and is not for offences that are so common, as hath been formerly said. Of this sort may be the sparingnesse of charity in Church-members, in giving little to the poor, or lesse than proportionally they should, though they do not altogether shut their bowels▪ This may be the object of admonition, but we think hardly of Excommunication, except it have grosse contempt with it, and so hazard of making void, by evil example, the course that Christ hath ap­pointed for overseing the poor in His house, for which He hath appointed Deacons: and if publick charity upon any pretext were restrained▪ that were to no pur­pose: which certainly highly reflecteth on Christ, and is a grievous scandal. We find the Reverend Master Hooker, part 2. chap. 2. pag. 57. lay these two conclu­sions, 1. That the Church is to stint her Members, and determine the quota of their charity and free will­offerings, and that of her self. 2. That if after the Deacons private diligence, this be not given in, he is to follow the action before the Church. Although we think defect of charity, in this respect, a great sin and an offence, and may be justly reproved, and the person admonished that is defective palpably in that which is proportionable to his ability; yet, that such a particular stint should be made by Church-power, and exacted under such certification, we cannot yet find to be warrantable. Although we give the Ma­gistrate that liberty, and where he exerceth it not, we acknowledge mutuall condescension may do much. And we are sure, that if any such like thing should be found in the Presbyteriall way, it had been charg­ed with tyrannie, and encroaching on the place of the Magistrate long ere now: yet it may be (when it is well managed) no great corruption in a Church.

A second sort of offences are such, as are of them­selves grosse and publick; yet not atrocious, or ag­greged with contempt, such as fornication, some acts [Page 82] of drunkennesse, and such like. The party▪ I say, not being obstinate, but seriously acknowledging his fault, and promising to abstain and amend, in that case there is no ground to proceed to the highest Cen­sure, though there may be a publick rebuke; yea, though their acknowledgment be not altogether satis­fying; yet, if after the publick rebuke, the person ab­stain these evils, and renue not the offence, the pro­cesse is to close, and to proceed no further: Because, 1. In that case it cannot well be said, that he hath re­fused to hear the Church when that abstinence fol­loweth. 2. The end of a publick rebuke is not al­wayes to be an evidence of the persons full recovery, But, 1. to be a mean to recover him. 2. It is in it self a publick acknowledgment of the fault▪ and a virtuall engagement to abstain. And 3. it hath a warning force and certification with it for the party offending, if he continue in his offence: Now, if he continue not, it cannot be said that he hath incurred the certification, or made the rebuke altogether inef­fectuall: And therefore in such cases, a publick re­buke being accepted. it putteth a close unto such pro­cesses: for, such publick rebukes are not an exerci­sing of the ke [...]s for letting-in any to the Church, that was not a member formerly; and therefore there is not such exactnesse required here, as in the first admission of heathens, yea, or in restoring of Ex­communicate persons▪ who have been bound and shut out, but it is the warning of a member to pre­vent his being cast out. Seing therefore this rebuke louseth nothing, there can be [...]o necessity alleged here of searching into his acknowledgements or profession; and we make no question, that offending persons be­ing rebuked before all, and abstaining from such of­fences afterward, were still to be accounted Church­members, capable of all priviledges, notwithstand­ing of the former offence. For, although he was offensive before that rebuke, yet was he not actually [Page 83] bound or excluded from any Church priviledge by that offence (because offence giveth ground to exclude, if contempt follow, but doth not actually exclude of it self) neither doth the rebuke bind and exclude any if no further Censure follow and be added thereunto, but is intended to prevent both, And therefore, I say, that a person meerly rebuked for such an offence, and not continuing in, or renuing the same, hath right to all Church-priviledges, seing he is by no Ordinance of Christ excluded; and that way of publick rebuking, is appointed to prevent the falling of others, by that occasion.

A third sort of offences are such as of their nature are grosse, and in their evidence clear, suppose drunk­ennesse, fornication, grosse swearing, corrupt er­rours, &c. and the person offending, after much pains, doth yet continue obstinate, refusing to hear the Church; in that case the rule is clear to proceed with the Sentence of cutting off, If no accidentall thing call for the suspending thereof, for respect to the Churches good.

If it be asked, when a person is to be accounted ob­stinateWhen is a person to be accounted obstinate. and guilty of not hearing the Church? We answer, It may be in these four cases, 1. When the persons do contemptuously refuse, or decline ap­pearance, that is, either to hear private admonition, or to answer for removing of their offences before the publick Judicatory. This indeed is not to be astricted to once or twice refusing, even when no reasonable excuse can be given: for, sometimes offenders are ticklish for a time, while their distemper continueth; and Church-officers would be favourable in admit­ting of excuses, and in their condescending to them, (as edification may be most furthered) as Mothers and Nurses will do to children: which similitudes the Scripture sometimes useth.

2. It is contempt, supposing a person to appear, and yet either to justifie his offence, as if it were no [Page 84] wrong; or to deny an evident fact, or to refuse any way to remove an offence given &c. yet in such cases there i [...] both for bearance and gentlenesse for a time to be essayed, and the offence is to be made in­excusable both to the conscience of the party, and to the consciences of others.

3. Contempt may appear in this, when persons offending appear, and do not deny the offence, yet by such proud carriage, haughty reflecting, irreve­rent expressions, and such like, do bewray contempt in the manner of their carriage, and there by do give more offence than by their former miscarriage, or than if they had not appeared at all: Because, that doth reproach the Ordinance of Christ more, as it were in His presence to affront Him, and like the soul­diers, to say, Hail, King of the Iews, and to mock Him.

A fourth thing that may be judged contempt, and not hearing of the Church▪ is, when a person appear­ing, doth with some seeming reverence acknowledge the fault, suppose drunkenesse, slander, fornica­tion, &c. and yet doth notwithstanding continue in, or frequently reiterate the same offence for these can­not be judged sins of infirmitie, especially when they are so frequent, and that after admonition; for, the Churches admonition doth not only tend to draw forth an acknowledgement of the offence past, but to prevent the like for time to come; and where that is not, it cannot be said that Christs Ordinance hath had weight. And in such a case, the accounting of verball acknowledgements enough, where there is a continuance in some seen evils, were to make the Ordinance of Christ obnoxious to reproach, and to frustrate it of its end, which is to remove and pre­vent offences, (for in that case they abound more) and it would strengthen men that could dissemble, to continue in their profanitie, seing by that they might ever escape the Sentence of Excommunication, and [Page 85] so profane persons might abound in Christs Church to the dishonour of his Name, and the reproach of the Gospel, and yet there be no accesse to His Offi­cers by His Ordinances to purge them out. And se­ing this would be ridiculous in any humane Court, to account such a man a receiver of admonitions, it were absurd to assert it here.

If it be asked, what is to be done in cases whereWhat, when an offence is not grosse, yet hath con­tempt with it. the offence is not of a more grosse nature, and cometh neer to a sin of infirmity, and yet hath contempt added thereto, in one of these respects? Answ. 1. We have said already, that it is hard to ground Excom­munication upon such a rise: Therefore, 2. Church­officers would warrily deal with such offenders, so as there be no seeming occasion given them to con­temn; and much forbearance, and even a kind of overlooking (so far as is consistent with faithful­nesse) is to be exercised in such cases, in reference to some persons, for it hath prejudice with it to take notice of such Scandals, and thereafter without sa­tisfaction to passe from them, and it is difficult and not alwayes edifying to pursue them: we conceive it therefore more fit, not to take Judiciall notice (at least) of them all, but to continue a serious and loving dealing with such persons in private, because possibly more rigid dealing might wrong them and the Church more than edifie▪ Yea, 3. If it come to publick, frequent trials would be taken of them be­fore it be judged contempt, that so if it be found need­full to proceed further, the contempt may be so ag­greged, that it may be seen, that edification requireth the same to be prosecuted, and then it is the contempt that beareth the weight of the Sentence, and not the first offence; Therefore this would be so manifest▪ as it may be convincing to the consciences of all to be insufferable.

CHAP. VI. Concerning what is to be accounted satisfaction, or satisfying.

THe great Question is, when a person doth ap­pear and acknowledge his offence, and sub­mit to a publick rebuke, what is to be judged satisfying here, so, as a Church-judicatory may sist Processe, and rest satisfied▪ and admit the person to Church-priviledges, as if the former offence had not been? In answering of this, we shall, first, shew what is not sati [...]sying. Secondly, what is not ne­cessary to be enquired after by a Church-judicatory, for this ecclesiastick satisfaction. Thirdly, we shall shew what is necessary and satisfying. Then, answer a Question or two, for absolving of this.

1. We say, every verball acknowledgement of a fault, even though it have a promise of amending, isWhat kind of satisfa­ction is not sufficient for making a Church-ju­dicatory to sist their pro­cesses▪ not sufficient; for, that may be in two of the cases formerly mentioned, to wit, in a person that doth, in his so doing but mock the Ordinance; or in a person that hath often relapsed after such a profession, or for the time doth continue in that or some other grosse evil: in▪ that case to account such a profession of re­pentance satisfying, were to fall in the former incon­veniencies, and would prove a manifest taking of the Nam of the Lord in vain, which we may ga­ther by this. Such a circumstantiat profession ought not to satisfie a Brother in a privat admonition, so that notwithstanding thereof (yea, the rather) he ought thereafter to take two or three with him, as being more offended▪ and if they meeting with the same, may put it to the Church, as not being well sa­tisfied with such mockings; then much lesse ought the Church to be satisfied therewith, because they do more formally represent Jesus Christ and His Au­thority, and therefore mockings and contempt to them, [Page 87] is the greater offence. And that place, where the Lord speaketh to Peter▪ Luk. 17▪ 3. of forgiving his brother seven times a day, and elsewhere▪ seventy times seven times a day, is not to be understood to speak principally of such grosse publick offences, or of such discernable counter feit turning (for that is not turning at all) but of private offences, or of the first sort formerly mentioned, and also where there seemeth to be ingenuity in the person, otherwise it were to remove one offence by another; and in that the Lord ordereth men in reference to their private carriage, for they ought to forgive wrongs, and doth not regulate Church-actings, as judicious Calvin doth give warning upon the place; Beside, the cha­stening, and bumbling of the offending party, the making of others to fear, and the turning away of the reproach that cometh to Christs name by offences, being the great ends of Church-censure, by admit­ting of such a profession as satisfying, all of them would be utterly enervated and overturned, which were most absurd.

If it be asked, how this dissembling, mocking pro­fessionHow may dissembling be disco­vered. may be discovered? Answ. 1. By somewhat palpable in the very present gesture, words, expre­ssions, &c. which evidence the same, and leave no room for charity; as when men (as it were) with a word, say Hail to Christ, and at the next, spit in His face, it is easie to say, that their Hail was not serious. 2. By comparing it with a persons former carriage in such a case wherein so much hath been professed, and yet he afterward hath been found to be mocking even in the time of his profession▪ his for­mer carriage calleth men, at least, not to be soon sa­tisfied▪ if no difference be. 3. By some words or expressions in other Societies and Companies, which being vented during the time of this publick professi­on, and that contrary thereto, cannot but evidence it to be a mocking. And, 4. When the fruit ap­peareth [Page 88] to be contrary thereto in a habituall way, as hath been said. Indeed if there be not convincing evidence of this mocking, but it be doubtfull; or, if a person that at one occasion is irreverent, should after­ward appear more sober, we conceive in▪ that case, determination is to be suspended, till after carriage give more ground of clearnesse, either to the one hand or the other.

CHAP. VII. Shewing what is not necessary to satisfaction.

TO the second thing, to wit, what is not ne­cessary, or to be enquired for, by Church-offi­cers to be an ecclesiastick satisfaction for re­moving of an offence. We answer, That the saving grace of repentance, or godly sincerity therein in the person, is not to be enquired into, as the alone ground upon which they may rest satisfied. For, 1. That would put a Church-judicatory so far as they could to determine of the state and graciousnesse of every offending person before they were satisfied, which were absurd, that not being the object of Church­discipline, and it's nowhere to be found that men are called judicially to determine of the state of another. 2. It would lay this ground, That none should be af­ter any offence recovered and admitted to priviledges, except they were thought really to be gracious; which would infer, that none should be admitted to the Church, but such; yea, that none should be continu­ed in the Church, but such; because readily there are none, but in lesse or more give offence, so far as may be the ground of a private admonition, which doth once table them▪ and if nothing can be satisfying but what giveth ground to account them gracious, it would come to that, that men are to be excommuni­cated because they are not thought to be gracious, [Page 89] and cannot give evidence of that. 3. So every per­son that were received after an offence, would have a Sentence of a Church-judicatory standing to prove them to be converted, which certainly would prove offensive, and a stumbling to many who are too apt to ground presumption on a lesser occasion. 4. It would put Church-officers upon the rack, and prove a tortour to them: For, 1. There is no evidence given in the word whereby one may know the gra­cious estate of one another infallibly; And shall that be only satisfying to us, which by no means we can know? 2. God hath not given men dominion over consciences to search or censure them in their ends, motives, &c. but as appeareth in their outward acti­ons, and there being nothing that can evidence soundnesse in the outward action it self, because Hy­pocrites may come that length, it cannot be that that must be their task, to decide where there is no possibility to attain to a satisfying decision. If it be said▪ that they are to proceed as in charity they judge the person to be sincere, Then we oppose, proce­dure in Church-judicatories must be according to such rules as a person that judgeth wrong may be convinced that he judgeth wrong, if a wronged party should complain; But if the man's own thoughts and charity of such a man were the rule, whereby he is to judge, then suppose some Judica­tories unwarrantably to admit, or to debar some, there were no way to convince them that they had judged wrong▪ because none could judge their single­nesse. Again, if it be said, that that may be ga­thered from evidences, Then we desire to know what evidence is to charity a sufficient ground to make a man to be accounted gracious, and without which he is not to be accounted such? If there be no such evidence, then the decision lieth upon the persons judgement and inclination, which falleth in the former inconvenience: If there be such evidences, [Page 90] 1. It will be hard to condescend upon them. 2. They are either such evidences as may be judicially demon­strated to be in such a person, or not to be in him: If they may be demonstrated to be in him, then it is not charity that decideth, but a law, which we will acknowledge when it is discovered, if they cannot be judicially demonstrated to be in such a person, or not to be in him; then the redressing of any corrupt decision is still made impossible▪ and there is no more but the conjectures of such mens charity in such a case; Then, how can these absurdities be answered? As▪ 1. What if such Church-officer, should be par­tial? in that case their charity will either be too nar­row, or too broad, and can that be the rule of pro­cedure in Christ's House? and yet Church-officers are men subject to such infirmities. 2. What if the person should think himself wronged by their ac­counting him not to be gracious, would that be suffi­cient to convince him, because they thought so? and yet it cannot be said, that according to Christ's order Church-officers should Sentence an o [...]ending party, and not be able to convince him; and he cannot de­monstrate it to them so as to convince them, and so it is for ever undeterminable, which is most absurd▪ What if he appeal to a supream Judicatory? how could they defend their Sentence? Or, what if the su­periour Judicatory judged him to be sincere? how could one of these Judicatories convince the other, if charity only were the rule? And yet it cannot be thought, that by Discipline and Censures, which are appointed by Jesus Christ for entertaining of union, that such inevitable grounds of division should be laid? Again, could it be but irritating to a person ju­dicially to be declared unregenerate, and would it not afterward both make such Sentences, and those that pronounce them to have the lesse weight? 3. Suppose in the same Judicatory some persons charity should be larger nor others, what is to be done in that case? [Page 91] There is no possibility for one of them to convince the other; yea, can it but stir up new offences? for, the one of them is ready to judge the other, either un­acquainted with spirituall conditions, or untender; for, the judging upon the sincerity of grace, requireth the exercise of a christian and spiritual discerning; and therefore accordingly as it is exercised differently, so are men ready to account of others to be at best Christians of different siezes: and we suppose that in nothing a man's grace hath more occasion to vent than in his uptaking and judging of the gracious estate of another, because this supposes acquaintance and sympathy with, and experience of sincere grace, more than is either in preaching, prayer, or such ex­ercises. And this certainly would be no little stum­bling to Church-officers, to be so frequently put to give triall of their own graciousnesse, whereas if we walk by setled rules, there is no such occasion to stumble. 4. Do not we see that one mans charity doth differ from another, and so diverse men in the same extrinsick action of judging in a Church­court, should have diverse rules to judge-by in the same act, possibly leading them to judge contrarily, which were absurd. 5. Doth not oftentimes the same one mans charity differ from what it was at an­other time, and he will be more and lesse in extending it according to the frame of his own spirit, the dul­nesse or confusion of his mind, or possibly according­ly as he hath some relation or obligation to, or preju­dice at the person, which may steal-in on his judg­ment, and (as it is said) blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the understanding of the just, and he really think himself single in judging? And can such afle [...]ting unconstant rule be that which Christ hath appointed in His Church to order the removing of offences? 6. Do we not know, that often mens cha­rity, in such cases, is swayed much by the judgment of some one or other who is esteemed of? and so [Page 92] this way which pretendeth to give most liberty, doth in seed bind up most: For, men either in that case satisfie themselves, that such a man is sincere, or not, because such another saith so, and so he goeth on implicitly, not doing what he doth in faith; or, he hath his own suspicions that others do not deter­mine rightly of such a person's sincerity, and then he is at this strait, either to contrary his own light, and go on with the other, or to judge otherwayes, and by so doing to give out his own spiritual dis­cerning to be beyond that others▪ and therefore to judge him for mistaking in it. And contradiction in this, is not as in other cases, where only mens moral light and understanding do vary; but here, as we said, it is in a thing that is most purely spi­tuall, and peculiar to the People of God onely, whereof naturall men and hypocrites are not ca­pable.

What the Reverend and most convincing Writer, Mr. Wood, hath in his Examination of Mr. Loc­kiers Little-stone, to prove that sincerity of true grace is not to be enquired for, as the constitution or complexion (as Mr. Lockier speaketh) of visible members in the visible Church, doth fully make out this also; for, there is the same reason against the enquiring after the sincerity of grace, in re­spect of the impossibility thereof in this case, as in that; and there needeth nothing further to be ad­de [...] for confirming of this, till those his pregnant Arguments be answered.

CHAP. VIII. Holding forth what may be satisfying.

THe answering of the third Question, to wit, what is to be accounted satisfying, and what is to be rested on in such a case by Church­officers, will clear and confirm this more. Before we answer, we premit, 1. That a difference is to be made between what is satisfying to a Church-ju­dicatory, so as to admit an offending person to all pri­viledges, as if the offence had not been, and what may be satisfying to sist further procedor, and prevent Excommunication. For, I suppose, a persons satisfacti­on may not be sufficient as to the first, which yet may be sufficient as to the second, as (for instance) it may be thought of Simon Magus, Act. 8. 24. who, after Peter's rebuke, carried so, as he did not proceed to cast him out, yet may he well be esteemed of, notwith­standing of such professed conviction, not to have had the full priviledge of a Church-member instantly; and this may proceed either from the grossenesse of an offence (such as that was) or the unsatisfyingnesse of a persons satisfaction, or both; in which cases edification requireth some time of triall, before there be a proceeding either to an off-cutting, or to admit­ting to the former liberty. 2. We would distingish (which is sib to the former) between that which is not fully satisfying, and that which is altogether dis­satifying; for there may be a mids, as suppose, that a man by silence should accept a reproof; or in words and carriage expresse something which neither doth speak seriousnesse, nor mocking, We suppose it is hard instantly to judge that person either to be ob­stinate, or yet to have full accesse to all Ordinances.

To the Question then we answer that for full satis­faction, [Page 94] so as to have accesse to all the priviledges, there is requisit a sober, serious acknowledgement of the offence with the expression of an unfeigned-like pur­pose to walk inoffensively, especially in reference to these former offences; and where this is we say, it is sufficient. When we speak of a sober, serious acknow­ledgement, we speak of it as it standeth contradistin­guished upon the one side from sincere grace; for, one may have this, and not have that: And, as upon the other side, it is distinguished, not only from grosse contempt and profane mocking, but from grosse dis­simulation appearing to be such, or from carnall in­differencie and unseriousnesse. By Divines, this is called morall seriousnesse, or sincerity, (as it is distin­guished from that which is gracious) and usually is in subtile legall hypocrites, and sometimes may be in some grosse persons in fits. It cannot be better ex­pressed, than it is by the forementioned worthy Au­thor Mr. Wood, part. 1. pag. [...]0▪ that is, That which is not openly and discernably simulate, histrionick, sce­nicall, and hypocriticall in that hypocrisie which is grosse: but all circumstances being considered, by which ingenuity is estimate amongst men, giving credit one to another, there appeareth no reason why the man may not and ought not to be esteemed, as to the matter, to think and purpose as he speaketh from whatsoever habituall principle it doth proceed, viz▪ whether from a saving principle, or whe­ther from a common operation of the spirit only, Thus far he.

If it be asked, how this seriousnesse may be discern­ed.How morall seriousnesse may be dis­cerned. It may be again enquired, How useth a man to be thought serious in his pursuit after any thing? I grant, this is not only to be gathered from his words, or carriage possibly at one time, But, will not seri­ousnesse, even in a particular, kyth in a mans manner of urging it? 2. It kyths in a mans using of fit means for attaining of it, which are suitable to that end. 3. By his carriage, abstaining from such things [Page 95] as may any way make his profession to be suspect­like. And▪ 4. not doing this for a day, or upon a particular occasion, but for a time continuing con­stant and instant therein, with such affectionatenesse and earnestnesse in the circumstances that are necessa­ry, that whatever be the motive that swayeth such a man▪ yet that he appeareth to be morally serious and through in the thing, cannot be denied. So in this case, [...] [...] may be a conviction that persons are seri­ous, and are affected so, that we may expect they will endeavour really the preventing of such an of­fence, and yet we may not be able to judge them so convincingly sincere, because to that there is more required, to wit, a new decision whether that seri­ousnesse, be morall only, or gracious, according to the principles, ends, motives, &c. which cannot be so evidenced externally, as seriousnesse in the generall may be.

I [...] any say that charity ought to judge such a manIf alwayes charitie should judge a person to be sincere, who is thus morally se­rious. sincere seing it can have no more? Ans. 1. What may be a persons p [...]vat thoughts upon these grounds we are not to determine; we only say, that this acknow­ledgement cometh not to be judged by a Church­judicatory upon that account. And, Secondly These who desire more for the constituting of Church members, require beside this, evidences of the work of grace upon the heart, and expressions and narra­tions to that purpose. And indeed if the accounting of a person [...]o be gracious and sincere, were the alone account, upon which a person were to be admitted or restored to an actuall right to the Ordinances, such a serious profession would not be sufficient for the convincing of Church-officers of a persons gracious­nesse even probibly; for that which is to be accounted a probable signe of saying grace, must be that which though it doth not alwayes hold and be convincing, yet for the most part doth so; for if it doth more or­dinarily fail than hold, it cannot be called probable: [Page 96] but experience in all times will confirm this, that more frequently such a profession faileth, and afterward the person is found not to be gracious; therefore it cannot be a probable signe, nor are we to account it such: we suppose, that if all the Churches of Christ that have been gathered, and all the penitents that have been received, were compared together, it will be found, that there have been many moe hypocrites than sincere Believers, yet in these cases this serious profession was called for. And, though it might be pleaded, that charity may construct the best of a per­son, where the case is doubtfull, yet (to speak ab­stractly of a signe) to account that a probable signe of sincerity, and such which ought to sway charity to account a person gracious, when yet it is clear in reason, that such a sign is ordinarily but an indicium or evidence of moral sincerity, but not of saving grace, were against reason; for, even in bodily diseases, that cannot be counted a probable signe of health, to ground a judgement of such a persons livelinesse, with which many moe do die than recover. Nor can it be called uncharitablnesse, because the profession is not so accounted; for, it is charity here to account the person serious, and to think as he saith, and not be dissembling therein, although it be not impossible for a dissembler to come all that length in outward evi­denc [...]s and prof [...]ssion. But to believe that he is in­deed so, as he saith, or thinketh, is not a thing which charity is bound positively to conclude, but, at the most, by judgeing nothing to the contrary to forbear any judgeing of the partie till time evidence more afterward. And, I suppose, there are few who have experience, but know that there are many cases wherein they are fully satisfied to judge the person se­rious, and yet dar not determine of their sincerity and graciousnesse, yea, even as to the probability thereof, although they dar not deny but it is possible; yet durst they not found a Sentence of absolution [Page 97] upon that as such, to their own satisfaction, al­though upon the former account they can: which evidently sheweth that these two considerations may be separated.

Hence, the first doth follow, that whatever be a private persons account of such a profession, yet it is not considered by the Judicatory as the evidence of sincerity in their being satisfied with it: Because, 1. It can be no evidence thereof, as is said; and we would be necessitated then to say, (if sincerity were the account upon which a Church-judicatory were to be satisfied) that either they behoved to have that evidence proven, and made [...]vident to them, or they behoved to proceed, without any certain, yea, or probable evidence: for, certainly, that which giveth a Judicatory warrand to proceed to declare a person to have right to any priviledge, must both be a thing that is relevant in it self, and evident in the proof thereof, in reference to that party; But, none of these can be said: Therefore the judging such a thing to be sincere, is not the account on which they proceed. This cannot be said to be a certain proof of sincerity, yea, none will deny but it is difficult, if not impossible, for one to have infallible proof of an others sincerity: Then it must be said, that it is but a probable proof that can be given of sinceritity. To which we reply, 1. That this profession formerly described, cannot be called such, as hath been shown, So it would fol­low, that a Church-judicatory doth account a man sincere, and doth admit him to such priviledges as they ought to admit only such unto, and yet it was not made so much as probable to them that he was such. 2. Although it did probably evidence him to be such, yet that were not enough, if that were the alone account upon which they were to proceed, be­cause no judiciall procedour in determining a mans right, will go upon probabilities, because the Law decideth not upon a probable, but upon a real right: [Page 98] and indeed, if in this case sincerity were the ground of procedour, no man could judge but doubtingly and upon conjecture, and so could he not have peace af­terward, because it was still uncertain to him whe­ther he had determined warrantably or not: yea, if it should be said, (which yet will not be sufficient) that it may give a man peace, if in his charity he ac­count the person sincere, although indeed he be not so: this will not quiet the mind, because I put no question but experience will teach any that are tender, that there are many cases, that if they were put to it, they durst not, even according to their own charity and opinion, determine of a persons sincerity, so as to take upon them a decision in that, either by deter­mining of the person to be sincere or not, and so of his admission or seclusion to, or from Church-ordi­nances and priviledges.

2. The account upon which we admit, and the proof thereof also, must be proportionable and op­posit to the account and proof upon which we debar: for, binding and loosing are both of the same nature, acts of the same power, in reference to the same end, and the one of them answereth to the other. Now, when we bind a man for a Scandal, 1. It is not ac­cepted as a ground of binding, untill it be proven and made evident, and not probably only, Therefore nothing can be the account upon which we can loose but that which may be evidently proven also; for, it looketh not suitable-like to bind a man upon clear evidence, and to exclude him from a right, and to admit him again, only upon probabilities and pre­sumptions, much lesse where the proof doth not amount so high. Again, 2. When a person is shut out, he is not shut out upon the account that he is un­renued, or upon the account that such an act was not sincere, or that he appeared to be such, But he is shut out, because it was scandalous to others, and unbecoming the Gospel, even though the persons [Page 99] sincerity should not be questioned: Therefore, by the rule of contraries, it followeth, that it is not sincerity which is the account upon which Church-officers are to loose.

If it be asked then, under what notion, or upon what account that morall serious profession is to be accepted as satisfying? We answer, upon this ac­count, as it is apparently serious and edifying, with­out determining whether it be sincere or not, but as convinced that by such a profession the prejudice and offence that came by the former miscarriage, and left a blot upon the Church, and a stumbling-block be­fore others, may be removed. So, that as it was un­becoming a Church-member to commit such a scan­dalous sin, So now by such a serious profession, that blot of making Christianity to be accounted a foster­ing of profanity is wiped away, that stumbling­block of his example is taken out of the way, so that this profession may be edifying to prevent the stum­bling of any other upon his Scandal, and the ac­cepting thereof may look like a hope [...]ull mean of edi­fying the person for the time to come, and recover­ing of him from that snare he was into; and so as his scandalousnesse in these respects was the account upon which he was actually, or was to have been Sentenced, So oppositly thereto this serious profession having a proportionable edification, or of it self a tendencie to edi [...]ying, in all the respects mentioned going alongst with it, it is the account upon which it is accepted as satisfying, without determining of the sincerity thereof, leaving the person to answer before God for that, and before men to bring forth fruits meet for repentance, which was Iohns way in deal­ing with such as came to his Baptism, Matth. 3. upon whose sincerity we think its clear that he did no way decide; but of this enough: We come to confirm our answer.

For confirming of this, to wit, that such sober and [Page 100] serious profession of repentance, is sufficient with­outThat this morall seri­ousnesse is sufficient, confirmed. further enquiry after the graciousnesse of the sin­cerity thereof, We may consider these grounds, 1. If such a profession be sufficient for admitting members to the Church, Then such is also sufficient for the [...] of offending members and continu­ing them in their former priviledges; for, no reason can be given why there should be greater rigidity for r [...]admitting to the actuall use of Church-priviledges, a Christain after he hath fallen in drunkenesse, for­nication, &c. than was requisit for the admitting of a Heathen, possibly guilty of these same sins beside; But the first is true, as is irrefragably and convincing­ly demonstrated by the forementioned worthy Au­thor Mr. Wood. Ergo, &c.

2. It may be supposed, that a gracious man, of whose graciousnesse there is no question in the charity of any, doth fall in some Scandal, what is to be ac­counted satisfying in him, must be satisfying in others. Now, it is not any conviction of the graciousnesse of his state that can be satisfying in this case, nor yet is that the account upon which we can proceed, because that is never questioned even when he is under the of­fence. If it be said, it must be the sincerity and graciousnesse of his particular act of repentance. Answ. 1. It is difficult to give judgement of the state of the person, but more difficult to give judgement of the graciousnesse of a particular act. 2. Suppose such a person had a particular acknowledgement so circumstantiated as is formerly described in this mo­rall sincerity, would not that be sufficiently satisfy­ing? And if it be satisfying in one, in reference to a particular offence, why not in another? Because, 1. There is one rule given by Jesus Christ to all. 2. The removing of [...] offence relateth to the offence given, and not to the state of the person who gave it. Therefore if that satisfaction be sufficient to remove that particular offence in one, it must also be so in re­ference [Page 101] to another, because the question [...] [...] not what may be sufficient to evidence a person to be gra­cious, but what may be sufficient in a person to re­move such a particular offence? If it be said, that it is accepted of that gracious person as satisfying, because he is accounted to be gracious, it may still be urged, The Question is not, whether the person be gracious, but whether that act of repentance of his be so, or not? for, it cannot be denied, but a gra­cious person may have acts of hypocrisie, and in particular acts be carnall: either then such a person must be excluded though he be gracious, and in this respect seriously doth professe repentance, which were hard to do; or, he must be upon that profession ad­mitted, and so that must be sufficient for Church-sa­tisfaction, as is said.

3. That which ought to satisfie a Brother in pri­vate, or after his taking of two or three witnesses with him, and which may be accounted a hearing of a private admonition; that sort of repentance ought to be satisfying to the Church-officers: Because, tell the Church, succeedeth to the contempt of private ad­monition, and therefore they are to obtain by their interposing of authoritative rebukes, what the other did not obtain, and so they are to rest satisfied when that is obtained, as the gradation, Matth. 18. is clear, hearing of the Church, being in respect of the effects, that same which hearing of the private admonitions is, to wit, the obtaining of satisfaction. But the for­mer is true, to wit, a Brother ought to rest satisfied with such a sober serious profession and acknowledge­ment as giveth him ground to judge him really af­fected for his offending, and under a purpose to ab­stain and amend for the time to come: and who will say, that a Brother in such a case can rationally com­plain of an other, as not having had his admonition? So, neither can the Church procee [...]d further, when her admonition hath that weight, seing there had been [Page 102] no [...] for her judicially to have admonished, if so much had formerly been obtained: and if it may be said, that such a private admonition so succesfull, did gain the offending Brother, Is not that same to be said of the Churches admonition having that suc­cesse? and when he is gained, are not they to rest sa­tisfied? and yet we suppose, that none will say, that by gaining in that place, real conversion is intended, and that a private Brother should insist to the utter­most, till he be satisfied in that.

4. We may argue thus: If such a profession, and a persons amendement in the manner spoken, be the hearing and gaining that is intended, Matth. 18. Then are Church-officers to be satisfied therewith; But the former is true, as appeareth thus, The Churches sa­tisfaction must be in respect to her speaking, her speaking to the party must be with respect to the com­plaint made to her by a particular person; that com­plaint, again, must have respect to what offended him, which is some particular act having offence with it; and it was not the ungracious state of the person, (for so the word, If thy brother offend thee, &c. import­eth) Now, from the first to the last, such satisfaction as is described, may be satisfying in reference to such a particular offence, and be sufficient for removing the same, and restoring the person to the esteem and condition which formerly he was into, And therefore it is to be accounted as satisfying by the Church. And if more were to be enquired for, it were to make the satisfaction beyond the offence, which were unjust.

5. That which may be accepted as a satisfaction from an Heretick, as the satisfying fruit of a publick admonition, cannot be refused as satisfaction in other cases; for, if circumspectnesse and rigidity be to be used in any case, it is in this: But a serious acknow­ledgement of an error▪ and an abandoning of it in­deed, is to be accepted for Church-satisfaction from an Heretick, and as the fruit of an publick admoniti­on, [Page 103] and he in that respect is supposed to be gained: Ergo, &c. That this is to be accepted from him, may be gathered from Tit. 3. 10. A man that is an heretick, reject after the first and second admonition. Where these things are clear, 1. That an Heretick that continu­eth so, and heareth not the Church, is to be rejected. 2. That an Heretick renouncing his errors after ad­monition, and not continuing such, is not to be re­jected, and so is not to be accounted an Heretick or under that scandal of heresie, and therefore his dis­claiming of it, is to be accounted satisfying as to the Church-officers; otherwayes, it would follow, that although he renounced his heresie in that serious and morally sincere manner, yet were he still to be dealt with as such by the Church, except they were satis­fied in the sincerity of his grace, which is contrary to Paul's direction, and the end of that publick admo­nition: which is not given him because of his unre­nued state, but because of his heresie. Now, that being taken away and satisfied by his submission, the admonition must be acknowledged to be satisfied, and so he is neither to be dealt with as an Heretick, nor as obstinate, but as one who hath heard the Churches admonition.

6. From the 2 Thess. 3. 6, 14, 15. we may gather the same: for we have these things clear, 1. That there were some there who walked disorderly as to some particular acts. 2. That the Apostle account­eth that disorderly walking to be scandalous, and judicially to be taken notice of, if it be not removed. And, 3. what that satisfaction is which removeth the same, is expressed by him, ver. 14. If a man obey not our word by this epistle▪ &c. So that it was actuall amending of what was scandalous, and thereby giv­ing obedience to his direction, which was so to be accounted. And in that case, a brother offending, was neither further to be noted, nor to be esteemed scandalous, without any further enquiry to be had of [Page 104] the graciousnesse of his state, or the principle ends or motives of his obedience.

7. It may appear thus, That which may remove reproach from the Ordinances, and offence in refe­rence to these that are without, is to be accounted sa­tisfying, because that is one of the ends of Discipline to stop the mouths of such as are without: Now as it is not any thing within, or the want of sincerity which doth offend them, and open their mouths, So this mo­rally sincere and reall change, (to speak so) is suffici­ent to satisfie them, at least, it cannot be said that they can reach further. This argument alone we ac­knowledge might not seem to be cogent, yet consi­dering, that what is offensive, is some externall [...]hing having a proportionable offensivenesse, both to those that are within, and also to those that are without, and a thing is offensive, because it is apt to offend such, There ought therefore also a proportionablnesse to be between what removeth an offence in reference to both.

8. If we consider the proper object, nature andDifferences between the key of Do­ctrine and Discipline. end of the key of Discipline, as it is abstractly consi­dered, as contra-distinct from the key of Doctrine, we will find that no more by it can be expected. For, 1. its proper object is somewhat, that is scandalous, and so it reacheth only to restrain, regulate, and judge the outward man, or somewhat in the outward conversation firstly, though the fruit of that hath a further look mediately. The key of Doctrine again, or the Word reacheth in, and becometh a judge of the thoughts and intents of the heart; and to make Disci­pline judge the inner-man, in this respect, were to confound these two keys which the Lord hath made distinct: and therfore, if Discipline have any influ­ence upon the inner-man savingly, it is but mediately by condemning his outward practices, and him as such, or making of directions, reproofs, &c. in the Word▪ more weighty. 2. The key of Discipline doth [Page 105] only shut from outward priviledges▪ and doth not shut from any spirituall interest in Christ, but as it concurreth to confirm some threatning in the Word, which debarreth many from saving promises and the things contained in them, which Discipline may ad­mit to outward priviledges. 3. There is a difference in respect of absolution also, to wit, the Word when it absolveth, it doth absolve from the curse of God, and giveth accesse to the promises, and a title to the things promised; Discipline again, doth but absolve from outward Censures and restraints, and doth but give right to Church-priviledges. 4. There are dif­ferent conditions and qualifications upon which these two keys bind and loose: for, the Word openeth to none but upon condition of sincere faith and re­pentance, and absolveth none but reall Believers, pronouncing all unbelievers to be under the curse; Again, Discipline (as such) cannot shut out men from externall priviledges, because they are not rege­nerate, and sincerely gracious; and so in that respect, it must have a different condition of shuting men out, or it must consider them upon another account, in excluding them from Church-priviledges, than the Word doth in excluding them from saving promises, to wit, it considereth them as scandalous, and unbe­coming the Gospel whatever their state be, and so it may censure Believers, as the key of Doctrine may shut out the most subtile hypocrite which the other cannot reach. Therefore also must it be a different account upon which Discipline doth admit, or re­store men to outward priviledges, and absolve men from outward Censures, than that upon which the Word doth admit to saving priviledges. And seing this last is sincere faith and repentance, the other must have somewhat different from this, upon the account whereof it doth give right, which can be no other thing than the moral sincerity mentioned. 5. Upon these differences followes another (which doth con­firm [Page 106] all the former) to wit, a diversity that is in the manner of binding and loosing by these two keys; for, when a Minister useth the key of Doctrine, he doth exclude from heaven and saving priviledges but conditionally, and he can warrantably exclude no particular professour absolutely; So no Minister can absolve absolutely, by the key of Doctrine, but conditionally, to wit, if the person believeth that he speaketh unto; for, it runneth on these tearms, If thou believest, thou shalt be saved. But, again, in the exercise of the key of Discipline it is not so, no Church-judicatory doth debar a man from priviledges conditionally, if he believe not, but absolutely he is debarred because of some present scandal; and although the person were or should become a real Believer, yet he continueth bound from outward priviledges by the key of Discipline, untill that scandal be removed: So when they receive any into Church-communion, they do not absolve them from their former Censure, and give them right to Church-priviledges upon condition they believe, but absolutely that Censure is removed, and they are admitted unto these priviledges.

If it be asked, What is the reason of this difference betwixt these two keys? Answ. It is, first, because the ground upon which we loose and bind with the key of Discipline, is something obvious to men's view, wherein they may warrantably judge and proceed, and therefore that is done absolutely: But in the key of Doctrine it is not so; for, men cannot tell who really believe, and who not, and it cannot by judicial proofs be made-out, Therefore they can­not bind or loose but conditionally. Secondly, God hath committed the outward man to be the object of Discipline, but the inner man and conscience is re­served to the Word and Doctrine, and men have not gotten authority over consciences and hearts; There­fore what concerneth the outward man, and out­ward [Page 107] priviledges, may be determined absolutely, But what concerneth the conscience and inner man only conditionally, because He hath reserved the absolute decision of that to himself, Therefore there is a sixth difference also. The word may and doth bind in­definitly, that is, persons so and so qualified, without making application in binding or loosing to indivi­dual persons, and doth not so bind or loose but con­ditionally, as is said; But Discipline striketh at in­dividual persons, and as such, doth not otherwayes affect: for, suppose an indefinit Sentence of Excom­munication, against persons so qualified, to be pro­nounced, it doth debar none from Church-privi­ledges, as it is such; and for what influence it hath fur­ther, it is as it cometh under the key of doctrine, which doth bind or loose such, but not as it is under the key of Discipline, and that for the reasons mentioned.

From these grounds we may see how warrantable and necessary it is to put difference betwixt saving grace, which is the condition upon which the key of Doctrine absolveth, and serious profession, and a fair inoffensive carriage, which is the condition up­on which the key of Discipline absolveth: And we may see also what absurdities would follow the con­founding of these. And indeed we see no other way how these two keys may be kept distinct, but this.

To sum up this from what is said, we may, ninth­ly, conclude, If every simulat profession be not suffi­cient, and if gracious sincerity be not to be enquired for, Then this morall sincerity and amendment is to be accepted as satisfying, and that which properly Church-judicatories are to enquire in, for a fourth cannot be conceived. But the former is truth. Ergo, &c.

Lastly, That which was satisfying for giving ac­cesse to the Ordinances amongst the Jews after un­cleannesse, must be satisfying now for removing of offences; But such a serious profession was satisfying then: For, 1. it cannot be denied that there was a [Page 108] separating of some for uncleannesse from the Ordi­nances; and it is at large and strongly made-out by that learned vindicater of Church-government and Discipline, Mr. Gillespie, that there was separation for moral uncleannesse; But however, ceremonial uncleannesse did then prove ground enough of ex­clusion, because so the Law of God had appointed it, even as now He hath appointed other grosle sin­ners to be cast-out. 2. It is clear. That there was some satisfaction required, as washing, offering of sacrifices, and such like, before they could be ad­mitted. 3. It cannot be said, that a mocking, pal­pable, irreverent manner of performing these things would have been accepted by the Priest, but would have been more offensive; nor yet can any say, that enquiry was made after their end▪ principles, or gra­ciousnesse of their act; So the assumption is clear: Neither can the connexion of the minor be denied, if we consider. 1. That there was no lesse moral holi­nesse called-for from the Jews, than from us. 2. That there was as great external strictnesse for keeping-up the sanctity of external Worship. 3. If we consi­der that their Ordinances and ours are materially the same. 4. If we consider that Christ, even in respect of the external administration of His Kingdom and Dis­cipline, is not more rigid or restricted in His admit­ting to priviledges now, nor then, yea, that He is even in that more condescending to us under the days of the Gospel. 5. If we may reason from the Lord's manner of admitting unto His Church then, to His admitting unto the Church now upon the same qua­lifications that were satisfying then, Then we may also conclude from what was satisfying then for the admitting of persons excluded, unto the admitting of them now; and this is fully made-out, beside others, by worthy Mr. Wood, in that fore-cited solid and learned Treatise, and before him, (to which he re­lateth) by learned Mr. Baxter, in his dispute with Tombs.

CHAP. IX. Concerning what is to be done, when men appear neither serious nor obstinat.

IT may be now asked, What is to be done in refe­rence to those who, after some grosle offence, can neither be counted thus serious, nor yet obstinat? Ans. Such cases may be frequent; Concerning which we say, 1. That it is neither fit altogether to absolve them, as being fully satisfied, nor yet to proceed to the highest Sentence with them, nor to leave them altogether without a rebuke. But in the second place, we say, That it is fit to proceed to rebuke them ac­cording to the direction, 1 Tim. 5. 20. Because, 1. This rebuke may be a mean, through God's blessing, to humble them, and to restrain such an offence. And, 2. it is also usefull in reference to others, although the mans own carriage and acknowledgment be not every way satisfying; for, the Apostle's direction to rebuke him openly, doth respect more the offence past and the fruit that may follow to him and others, than any present satisfying frame in the person to be re­buked.

When it is found meet thus publickly to rebuke,How is a publick re­buke to be given. the circumstances and manner are to be adverted to, 1. Although the designing of a particular place be not in it self necessary, nor in every case expedient, yet for the solemnity of the reproof, it is not unsuit­able, it being such as is rather accommodated for the edification of the whole Congregation, than other­wise pointed at as a place of pennance or punish­ment, or yet as a mark of reproach, and such like, which wrongeth the nature of Christ's Ordinance; And circumstances would be so ordered as the ap­pearance of that may be eschewed. 2. It would be gone about with much gravity and reverence in re­spect [Page 110] of all that are concerned. The Minister especi­ally is to carry weightily and authoritatively, having words fitted for the edifying of the Congregation, the humbling of the person, the convincing of both, and for the credit and weight of Christ's Ordinance be­fore all; The party rebuked would minde whose Or­dinance it is, and be suitably affected as the receiving of a particular rebuke from Jesus Christ doth call­for; The on-lookers also would be grave, having re­spect to Christ's Ordinance, tendernesse to the person offending, but indignation at the offence; and this would be testified by their carriage, so as thereby the authority and solemnity of all may have the deeper stamp upon the person. And for attaining of this, something would be gravely spoken to the hearers, as their use thereof, according to the case; and it may be, that some addresse to God in prayer together, in reference thereto, before or after the rebuke, would not be unusefull for that end.

If it be asked, if speaking in publick by the personIf it be al­wayes neces­sary that the offender speak. rebuked be alwayes necessary? Answ▪ 1. Although it may be often usefull and expedient, yet in ordina­ry rebukes, for ordinary scandals, where no contemp [...] hath preceeded, we conceive it not simply necessary, 1. Because, though the rebuke be clear in the Word, yet is not this by the same evidence, alwayes requi­red. 2. Their appearing to receive it, hath an im­plicit assent to, and acceptation of it. 3. The effect of the rebuke is rather to be gathered from their after carriage, for it hath with it an obliging weight to them, and a virtuall certification before the people, whether they expresse any thing or not. Beside, eve­ry one cannot edifyingly speak, and in that case, the Ministers rebuke is appointed to edifie others, and to remove that offence from them.

Yet there are two cases especially wherein we think this is expedient and necessary unto edification▪ 1. When either by the attocity of some offence, or [Page 111] continuance in contempt, a person▪ hath be [...] pro­cesse towards Excommunication; or, when there is a relapse after a former rebuke: in such cases it is for the edification of the people, to know upon what grounds the Eldership doth fist from proceeding; And engagements publickly and explicitly taken on before a Congregation, are often more weighty to the person. And if there be a failing, there is the greater evidence against them for after proceeding.

2. Suppose there hath been some Sentence binding or shuting out the person formerly, in that case, we conceive, speaking in publick to be necessary for con­firming the people in their love to him again, which was hazarded by his former evident fall; and an im­plicit accepting of a reproof is not sufficient in such a case.

There may be also other cases, as suppose one hath been carried away with error, which he hath fre­quently vented before men, or in some such case where it may be edifying to have it from the parties own mouth, especially if the person be in such a frame, or of such ability, as by so doing he may edi­fie. But this is to be decided by the prudence of the overseers.

If it be asked again, how is he to be accounted ofHow is an offender to be reckoned after a re­buke. after this rebuke? We answer, Even as by some competent continuance of time, he doth discover the seriousnesse, or unseriousnesse of his profession, So that if he relapse, he is the more inexcusable, and to be proceeded with in due manner: but if he take up himself, and carry to the view of others seriously, he is not to be accounted as scandalous, because it can­not be said, that he hath refused to hear the Church in that publick admonition: and a publick rebuke doth not of it self bind any and shut them out as scandalous, (yea, it giveth not ground for it, if ob­stinacy followeth not) but if it be hearkened unto, and received, it doth prevent that, it being a right satis­fying [Page 112] [...]rt of Christianity to admit of, and to im­prove a rebuke. Yet we think it incumbent to Church-judicatories, after some competent time, to en­quire in the after carriage of such, and so accordingly to determine, whether they have satisfyingly accep­ted of the admonition or not. And that therefore the person so rebuked, ought to have such a Sentence before he can plead full admission to all priviledges, if at the time his profession was not satisfying. This is usefull for the persons behove, when he knoweth he is still to be looked upon in a speciall manner, as a sickly member of the body. And it is also agreeable to reason; for, if when a private person giveth an admonition he be to judge of the fruit of it, whe­ther it be satisfying; and if the Church-judicatory, when they admonish judicially, be to weigh, whether the effects be satisfying or not: So by the like reason, when an admonition is publickly given, ought they to enquire what hath followed, and if that be sa­tisfying or not.

If it be asked, if in no case an offender may beIf an offence may at first instant be brought to publick. brought immediately to publick, but by the former steps, and upon supposition that these be fruitlesse? Ans. It may be in these two or three cases, 1. When the offence, being of a grosse nature, is publick and open, so that many are in hazard to be infected, in that case a private rebuke would not be sufficient: Because, respect is to be had to the good of others. And so in some cases, even though as to the persons own conviction and carriage, a Church-judicatory may be satisfyed; yet there is a necessity for the rea­son foresaid of a publick rebuke. Yet every offence that is known to moe than one, is not to be accounted an offence of this nature: Because from that word of Christs Take with thee two or three witnesses, &c. it is evident, that even after those are made acquaint with the scandal, it is not publick, except obstinacie follow. Yea, it would appear, that such a scandal [Page 113] might be known to others, when yet one private per­son might only admonish; and if the admonition were accepted, might fist. And in case the fact be de­nied, then he is thereafter to bring two or three con­junct witnesses, who may convince the party offend­ing of the truth of the fact as well as of the nature thereof, by their joynt testifying, that the party offen­ded had reason to seek satisfaction in such a thing: Otherwayes, if that were only a privat offence which is known to one▪ supposing the party offending to de­ny the fact, there were no accesse to an offended brother to pursue the same, and by witnesses to make it out, if his private admonition should be rejected. And this may be one reason also why those two or three are called Witnesses, whose part is to confirm the matter of fact, as the Law cited there to that purpose doth evidence. Nor is it alway necessarily thus publick when it is made known to a Church­officer or a Church-judicatory, because in that case, even they may find it more edifying to admonish pri­vately than publickly; And it is their part rather to hinder the spreading of a scandal, than to make the same needlesly more publick. An offence then thatWhen an offence is to be accounted publick. is to be accounted publick, that is▪ which is so in re­spect of its notority or publicknesse, and such as is not the object of private admonition, but whereof a Church-judicatory is immediatly to take notice, may be considered in respect of its first instant o [...] in re­spect of some following circumstance; for what is required in the nature of the sin it self hath been spoken to already. It is publick in the first respect, 1. When it is done before so many as probably can­not be satisfied with private admonition, so that thereby there is a hazard to many to be scandalized. 2. It is publick, when it seemeth to be done with con­tempt and an high hand, as if a person were own­ing the same; Thus a scandal that hath fewer wit­nesses, may be accounted publick, when another, it [Page 114] may be, actually known to as many, is not to be ac­counted such, because in this case there is no accesse to private admonition, the person being like a swine, ready to turn on the admonisher. Thus suppose Ab­solom's incest had not been actually known to many, yet the very circumstances of his doing it openly, and purposly that it might be known, made it of a publick nature: Thus sometimes it is more necessary to take notice of an offence committed in a publick place, though, it may be, few know the same, than of a thing done more privatly, because as to them it might have been publick to many; and it sheweth an humour and corruption that is beyond privat admo­nition, when a thing is so circumstantiated. 3. Some­times offences will have an horrour, and an indigna­tion wakened against them, even in respect of such circumstances, as to be drunk, lascivious, and such like, are offences; but to be so in a Market-place, or in publick streets, even supposing it to be in a day when few do actually see it, doth waken an indig­nation in the hearts of sober men, as being an affront to Religion and Order, and inconsistent with Chri­stianity and Civility, much more than if it had been in a private place, or privatly; for, that is before the Sun to do so, as Zimries act was, which provoked Phineas's zeal. 4. An offence is publick, when it is generally accounted to be a certain truth, and not a suspicion only; as being a thing in its evidence known to so many (beside what is reported to others) that it cannot be supposed that an ingenuous mind can have accesse to deny or shift the same, without some indignation in the hearts of those that know it. 5. Sometimes an offence is to be accounted publick when, though it may be, many are not witnesses there­of, yet when many are in hazard to be infected there­by; as suppose those witnesses to be such as cannot rest quiet in a private satisfaction, but they have either spread it, or are in hazard to spread it, and, it [Page 115] may be, long afterward they make it a ground of re­proach: In this case it becometh a scandal not only to the first witnesses, but also to those to whom it is reported; So that although it was not at first pub­lick, yet it becometh so by the rumour thereof. This infectiousness may also proceed from the time where­in it is committed, the person who committeth it▪ the nature of the fact that is committed, (which may more readily insuare others than facts of some other nature) from those also before whom it was com­mitted; Therefore in such cases it is necessary that publick notice be taken thereof.

Therefore, in the second place, we said that some offences not very publick in respect of the fact, yet may, by some concurring circumstances, be such as the bringing of them in publick, may be necessary for the edifying of the Church at such a time, then that way is to be taken; As suppose, 1. that such a sin is in some places scarce counted a sin; Or, 2. if it be secretly and frequently in use among others; Or, 3. if the person found guilty be generally suspected of loose and untender walking in such things, although particulars be not publick; Or▪ 4. if they be under false pretexts of tendernesse, ready to seduce others to something sinfull, or in the like cases. In which, though the fact be not so publick, yet the scandal, or hazard, and the benefit of a rebuke are publick; and therefore that way is to be followed, Because they are necessary for the edifying of the Church, which is the end wherefore publick rebuks are ap­pointed. The same may be said of atrocious hor­rible crimes, which being but known to few, yet are not to be, nor cannot be past with a meer private ad­monition, such as witchcraft, incest, &c. which are defiling sins, the bringing whereof in publick doth honour God the avenger and discoverer of such works of darknesse, suppose also, that the evidencing of somewhat, may serve to remove some former [Page 116] prejudice, as if it had been thought that an innocent person had been father of such a childe, or actor of such a murther; if God bring it about, that those who truely are guilty be discovered, it is not to be keeped close, because it is the removing of a former stumbling-block, and may keep others from sinning in mis-judgeing an innocent, and it also glorifieth God whose wise way is to be observed in such dis­pensations.

2. Although a fact be not publick, yea, in some cases although it be not true that there hath been any ground of offence given: Yet, 1. If the report of such an act be publickly rumoured; Or, 2. if such presumptions thereof be publick, which are ready to leave the impression of the thing; Or, 3. if the fame or brute of such a thing be come to such an height, that either it be believed by many to be true, (and that by such who are neither too simply credu­lous without all presumptions, nor malitious or in­fected with prejudice in reference to the person) Or, suppose that a person is accounted to be habitually in secret evils, the riping up whereof might be edifying; in such and such like cases, a Church-judicatory is at the first instant to meddle with, and enquire in the same: because, although possibly there may be no ground, yet the offence is great, and may stumble many as if it were so: and the neglecting thereof cannot but be offensive, whereas inquiry therein is usefull, whether the fame be grounded or not. But in this there would be great tendernesse and prudence used in considering, both upon whom, by whom, and upon what occasion the report is raised and en­tertained, and whether dipping therein be edifying or not.

3. Upon supposition that private persons be de­fective in giving admonitions, or following of them before a Church-judicatory, and yet there be preg­nant presumptions of miscarriages in such and such [Page 117] persons, although they be not publick; or, suppose, through fear, ill grounded affection, or other carnall respects, others should concur to keep from publick view the offences of some person, to the stumbling of themselves, in becoming partakers of their sin, and to the prejudice of others: I say▪ in such like cases, a Church-judicatory is to enquire into the carriage of such a person, and to put others to declare and testi­fie therein, although they be not complained of, and although the Scandal be not so every way obvious: Because admonition is needfull both for the good of the person offending, and of others also: and when private persons become defective, Church officers are bound rather to interpose immediately than to suf­fer such a person to continue under sin, to the hazard of himself and others; for, they must either do it, or it is to be left undone, which would be a stumbling­block to many, and strengthen wickednesse exceed­ingly, in case untender men fell only to be accessory to the knowledge of the offences of each other (as often it is) yet though it be necessary for a Church-judi­catory to interpose, it is not alwayes necessary to bring the matter to a publick rebuke, but as from consideration of the thing, person, or, other circum­stances it shall be thought sit to rest in a private admo­nition or not.

From which we may see the necessity of processing parties, and leading witnesses (in case the matter be denied) without any particular accuser or delater: because in such cases, either publick Scandal of the thing, the nature of the Church-officers oversight, or the edification of the body, which they are to pre­fer to every thing, do require that such a thing or person be put to triall.

CHAP. X. Clearing whether in Church-processes an Accu­ser be alwayes necessary.

IF it be asked, concerning an accuser, Whether it be necessary in all Church-processes, that one, under such a consideration, be fixed, before there can be proceeding against any party, in reference to triall. We answer in these assertions.

Asser. 1. It is not alwayes necessary in every case that there should be a formall particular accuser, as may appear from the cases formerly instanced; for, that any offence or offender should passe without being taken notice of, (especially if offences be continued in) is contrary to the end for which Church-censures are appointed, and yet neither de facto is there alwayes an accuser where there is an offence; nor de jure can any be constrained to be an accuser: therefore it is necessary that in some cases there must be a processe without an accuser, in this way of enquiry.

Asser. 2. Where an offended Brother followeth Christs way in pursuing of an offence, he is not to be accounted an accuser formally, as the terme of accusation useth properly to be taken: Because, 1. To accuse often is a thing that may be omitted, but this kind of pursuit is laid on as a necessary duty. 2. To accuse, respects some paticular wrong and injury usu­ally, and the following thereof▪ importeth a prejudice and hurt to the party accused. But this which respects offence without any particular injury, proceedeth from love, tendeth to the advantage and recovery of the party, and so properly cannot be called accusa­tion. Yea▪ 3. When a person hath followed the se­cond step, and made out his private admonition by two or three witnesses, when he cometh to the Church with them, neither of them can be accounted accusers [Page 119] more than when he did privately speak to the person, or after that to those witnesses, because all is dutie, and a piece of that Christian mutuall communion, that brethren and members of the same body, owe one to another, and to the body in common; yet is he who so entereth a complaint, oblieged to make it evident to the Judicatory; and if he hath rightly per­formed the second step, and made it appear before two or three, there is no hazard or difficultie in this; but if he hath failed in that, he ought not to have proceeded to this.

Asser. 3. We say, that to have a formal accuser, seemeth not so well to agree to the nature of ecclesia­stick processes, and looketh liker a civil Court. For, 1. If the offence be publick, there is no accuser need­full, as is said. 2. If it be privat, no accuser is to be heard, but in the ordinary method, because Christs Ordinance is not to be subservient to mens passions, or to be the mean of their seeking revenge for injuries: And therefore in some cases, though an accuser would undertake the pursuing of some processe against a person, where neither the Scandal is flagrant, nor the party accused, after private admonition and con­viction, obstinate, in that case the accusation might be rejected; because so the accuser looketh not like a Brother, that is stumbled, seeking the gaining of the other, and his own satisfaction upon that account, but rather like a person that is irritate, vindictive or mali­cious, to whose humour Church-officers ought not to give way; neither doth such an accusation become Christs Court. Yet, if the thing be indeed scanda­lous, Church-officers are to enquire therein, and not to sleight any mean of evidence which may be had, lest profane persons mouths be opened; but that rixal and contentious way of following of processes by particular accusers, against particular persons, as useth to be in other Courts, we conceive no way becoming the gravity and convincing way that ought to be in [Page 120] this; And we suppose in experience is not often found to be edifying, but rather doth ingender hatred, pre­judice, contention, and such like, which is altogether contrary to Christs scope.

Again, on the other side, there may be no parti­cular accuser against the person and yet it be necessary that he be tried, as hath been said.

Asser. 4. The [...]e may be some cases in which it is expedient to admit an accuser, and not to admit a pro­cesse without one. As suppose one were under no ill report, and yet some grosse scandal were imputed to him, which were not of such fame, or had not such presumptions, as to give ground for a Church­judicatory immediately to interpose, and the scandal being of such a nature as the trial thereof could nei­ther be omitted, not closed in private; in that case, suppose one should complain of the Churches negli­gence in the same, asserting the evidences to be clear, and offering to make them out; In such a case, I say, the Church can hardly refuse to hear him, lest they be thought partiall; nor is there ground, nor is it fit for them immediately to pursue it: Therefore an ac­cuser is expedient, that so, upon the one side, the Chur­ches impartiality may be vindicated, in refusing the complaint of no sober man, nor the uttermost of any triall, that in well grounded reason they may expect; And, on the other side, that the mouths of some need­lesse and too importunate complainers may be stop­ped, and they themselves found censurable, if either without cause they traduce the Church-officers as ne­gligent and partiall, while there is accesse to make out before them such a truth if it be truth; or if pre­cipitantly and inconsiderately (if not maliciously) they have tabled a scandal against another as a pub­lick scandal, which they cannot make out, and so have needlesly troubled a Church-judicatory in such a matter, and sinfully wronged their neighbour.

For, a processe in such cases where it cannot be [Page 121] made out, is scandalous: therefore if a person rest not▪ satisfied, so as to abstain till he have triall put to the utmost, he is to be dealt with as a scandalous person, lest men take liberty, under the pretext of pursuing offences, to defame others, and abuse the Ordinance of Christ. And though it be just in such a case, that he be materially dealt with as unjust accusers use to be in civil courts, yet this doth not only flow from the consideration of such a persons being a formall accuser, but from the nature of the deed which is scandalous in such a meature, and that publickly, and therefore is to be restramed, whether the person take on him that formall consideration or not, lest yet, upon the matter, he continue publickly and importu­nately to presse the pursuit. And we conceive, the imposing the title of accuser in such a case, or the making of it necessary, that one take on him that for­mall no ion, is rather for coveniencie to restrain mens inordinatenesse, and stop their mouths, and to add weight to the matter of the sentence, if they fail, than as being simply necessary for making such a person to be accounted scandalous, if he come short.

CHAP. XI. Concerning what is to be done when the complaint is of some enjury [...]one to the complainer.

THere is one case yet to be enquired in▪ viz. how to account of a particular person his complain­ing or pursuing an offence which carrieth with it a particular enjury unto himself? As suppose, that such a person did calumniate him, calling him false, covetous, hypocrite, thief, or such like, or did im­precate curses unto him? Answ. 1 If the way laid down were followed, and a publick complaint made the last step, it may be, there would be few of these complaints. Of this we have spoken already. 2. Al­though [Page 122] such enjuries have with them a spirituall hurt also, and so indeed are real stumbling-blocks to the spirituall state of the party enjured. Yet, 1. it is hard for men enjured, singly to abstract the scandal given them from the enjury done them, and so to fol­low the offence with respect to their own and the others edification, as to entertain no thoughts of re­venge in the pursuing thereof: for certainly, often it is the reparation of a wrong, and to vindicate folks own name and credit, rather than edification, which in such cases is aimed at: Therefore we find ever the most irreligious, carnall and proud persons, hotest in such a pursuit, and with greatest difficulty to be satis­fied; and the satisfaction intended by them, is not any Chistian gaining often, but some publick shame, or such like: And therefore if that follow, although the person fall over again in many other scandals that are worse, or others shall sin more grosly; yet that stirreth them not, neither are their complaints in such cases heard of. 2. We find, that such a case hath often great difficulties with it, and readily much heat and carnalnesse; yea, in things that are personall between parties, it is more difficult for them to abstain from carnalnesse, or the appearance thereof, and also for Church-judicatories to walk so as not to be thought partiall to one of the sides, and so by intending the removall of one offence, more may be given. There­fore we would suppose such a procedor to be suitable to Christs order and ordinance, 1. That as much as may be, these personal things may be waved by pri­vate persons themselves who are so [...]. Cer­tainly men lose not by condescending in their parti­culars, and it may afterward tend more to the con­vincing of the party and others, and to the vindicating of themselves that they forbear (at least, till the fer­vour be abated, both in them and in the offending party) than by kindling of their own passions by the passions of others, to hazard upon more sin and of­fence. [Page 123] 2. When such things occur, its fit that Church­officers should endeavour to compose and to remove them privately; yea, if any complaint come in a persons heat, that yet notwithstanding, means be used to compose and allay the same; and if that fail, that the scandal be brought to publick, rather by the Eldership it self, than by the party offended, because so the thing, as scandalous, may be more abstractedly considered▪ the person easilier convinced, and the heat of parties prevented, which often mar the beauty of the Ordinance, and so there is nothing overseen that ought to be redressed. 3. If persons will needs en­ter their own complaint▪ Then it would be enquired, 1. Whether it be really the enjury to their name, or outward condition that swayeth them? or, if it be the offence, that is, the stumbling-block that goeth alongst there with, and [...] is ready to hurt their spiri­tuall estate, that doth move them? This question is fit for curbing of carnall humours, and keeping the Ordinance of Christ from being abused, and made subservient to mens sinfull passions.

If it cannot be hid that it is the injury which affects them▪ Then would they be admonished for that, and remitted to follow their injury otherwise, and to par­don it, as to any vindictive humour; yet the thing as it is scandalous, would be still followed without them. 2. It would be enquired, if they followed the privat steps? And, 3. what sort of satisfaction they aim at, and if it be the parties gaining that they seek with their own satisfaction?

Sometimes there ariseth a new difficulty in suchWhat, when a calumnia­tor complai­ned of, offer­eth to make it out. cases, as suppose one complained of for calumniat­ing another, should offer to make good his word, or what he hath said; In such a case it is difficult for a Church-Judicatory to carry rightly, if probation be refused, the slanderous mouth is not stopped, And to admit it, it seemeth neither pertinent nor profitable to any Church-end. This sometimes is one of the [Page 124] evils of making Church-judicatories the stage of mens passions: Yet in such a case we say, 1. That whether the thing be true or not, the casting of it up at such a time, and with such circumstances, was of­fensive; and therefore no following probation can exempt the offender from being accounted scandalous, because the end of bringing forth that, was really the hurt of his brother, and neither private nor pub­lick edification. 2. Some manner of offered probation is indirect, (as also some sort of slandering) as, sup­pose one would complain of another as guilty of theft, or some other sin, and give for the ground there­of some instances of corruption or deceit in their trade of merchandizing, or taking some advantage by law or other wayes, to the hurt of another. These are causes and matters wherein properly Church-of­ficers are neither fit nor called to decide; and the event thereof doth depend upon some civil contest, therefore are not meet to be admitted as the ground of a complaint or probation in a Church-judicatory. Again, some manner of probation is more direct, as suppose one would prove by witnesses direct theft up­on another▪ Yet considering that Church-judicatories are not to be sub-servient to mens passions, as hath been said, and also, that their end ought ever to be edification, and there being no probable ground to expect it in such a processe, we conceive it were fit altogether to wave such contests. For, though there be a shaming of offenders allowed in Church-disci­pline, yet it looketh harsh-like to make it the mean of bringing civil shame and infamie upon any; Be­cause such a blot, as to be accounted or declared infa­mous, even as to civil things, is a civil punishment; and therefore is not to be the effect of a Church-judi­catory, properly, Although we will not deny but by accident, these may be sometimes necessarily joyned.

[Page 125]It may be asked, What if an offending party ap­pearing,What if a profane of­fending con­fessing party refuse to give satisfaction. professe repentance for their fault, &c. as hath been desired, and should yet refuse to give obe­dience to such things and in such manner as is thought fit to be done by the Church-officers for the removing of the offence? Answ. 1. It is not like that any who are serious in their profession of rep [...]ntance, will stand on such a thing; and where that is, it is too pro­bable-like an evidence of their dissembling, if some convincing reason cannot be given by them for sway­ing to that refusall. 2. Their disobedience is either in materiall things, or such as are but circumstanti­all. Again, it is either done with contempt, or with professed continued [...]espect and a desire to satisfie. As for instance, some may refuse to receive a publick re­buke where edification requireth it, or to acknow­ledge their offence to an offended party, or they may be willing to appear, and willing to acknowledge their offence, but differ as to the time, place, manner, &c. For the first, Though a Church-judicatory may wait for a time, yet can they not in some cases dis­pense with them, because otherwayes, they are not heard, nor is the end obtained; and therefore may processe proceed, especially if that disobedience look contemptuous-like: For the second sort of disobe­dience, to wit, in the manner or circumstances of giving satisfaction, although in this also, those that are serious to have offences removed, will not readily stick, yet if it be, there is difference between this and the former, if there be no discernable evidences of contempt in it; and in this, no question, Church-ju­dicatories have a greater latitude to do as may edifie: wherein they are especially to take notice of these things, 1. That by too much rigidity in circum­stances, they seem not unnecessarily to wrong them, or to lay too much weight of satisfaction upon such formalities. 2. That by too easie passing from such, they do not strengthen any to follow that example for [Page 126] the time to come. And, 3. that even in circum­stances there be an equality in reference to these same scandals in all persons. And if there be hazard in reference to any of these by condescending, to alter or forbear a circumstance in a publick rebuke, we con­ceive it is safer to abstain from [...]hat forbearance, and not to yeeld it; and yet not simply upon that account to pursue a processe, but to continue dealing with the person, while either he be convinced and brought, for the good of order and edification of the Church, to yeeld, or there be more clearnesse to do other­wise.

CHAP. XII. Concerning what ought to be done by private persons, when Church-officers spare such as are scandalous.

WE come now to the last Question proposed, to wit, supposing that Church-officers should be defective in trying and censuring scandalous persons, what is the duty of private Chri­stians in such a case, and if notwithstanding, they ought to continue in the communion of such a Church, or to separate from her?

This Question hath troubled the Church, and been the occasion of many [...] in many ages, the devil thereby under pretext of indignation at offences, hath made them to abound in the Church, as the Church­histories and Writings of the Fathers, in what con­cerneth the Novatians, Donatists, and such like, do fully evince; And although we have great ground to acknowledge Gods mercy, in the sobriety of His people amongst us, so that we have unity, with pu­rity; yet, seing in order this doth follow, we shall answer shortly, in laying down these grounds.

1. It cannot be denied, but such a case may be, and [Page 127] often de facto is, that Church-officers are defective in the exercising of Discipline upon scandalous per­sons, what from negligence, what from unfaithful­nesse, what from fainting, or some other finfull in­firmity at the best, as may be gathered from the second and third Chapters of the Revelation.

2. Though this be true, yet possibly it is not al­wayes their fault when it is charged on them: as sup­pose, 1. That no private person, or, possibly even the complainer, hath admonished such persons as are counted scandalous, nor have given-in sufficient proofs of their scandal to any Church-judicatory; or, it may be, many are counted scandalous who can­not legally and judicially be found to be such; for it is more easie to assert a scandal, than to prove, even often when it is true: and it being rather a ground of irritation than edification, when a processe is entred, and not convincingly made-out, Therefore often in duty some proces [...]es are abstained. Sometimes also Church-officers may be faithfully dealing with per­sons to recover them from scandals, and yet not find it fit for edification to proceed to high Censures; In such cases, Church-officers cannot reasonably be blamed, and those who complain would pose their own consciences, if they have exonered themselves and done their duty, and have put it to the Officers doors, before they account it their fault: And it is most unbecoming for persons to charge others and to be defective in their own duty, which necessarily in­ferreth the other. And if it were as difficult and weighty a task to calumniate and groundlesly to charge Church-officers with this, as it is, faithfully to follow private admonition, there would not be so much of the one, and so little of the other. And if it be rightly looked to, it will not be easie to charge them with grosse defects (and if they be not grosse, the matter is not so to be stumbled at, they being in the exercise of Discipline as in other things) for, that [Page 128] must be upon one of these accounts, either, 1. Be­cause such scandalou [...] persons, after refusing of private admonitions, were complained of to them, and that evidence of the fact was off [...]red, and Church-officers refused to put the same to trial: Or, it must be be­cause when they did try, they did determine such a thing to be no scandal or not to be p [...]oven, or that (supposing it to be proven) they did not c [...]nsure it; or, at least, when scandals were open and obvious, and palpable, they did not take notice of them. Now, is it probable that such a Church-judicatory will frequently be found that will fail grosly either of these wayes? And if they do, then there is acces [...]e to convince them, by an appeal to a superiour Court, which in that case is a duty. If it be said that their failing and neglect▪ is▪ in some covered manner, so carried-on as there is no accesse to such legal com­plaints. Answ. 1. We suppose if the things be that grosse, and the fact so clear and frequent, as that there be just ground to complain then there will be also accesse to such a proof. 2. If it be so carried and not owned, then it may be their sin before God; but it is not to be accounted a proper Church-offence in the sense before-m [...]ntioned, seing they could not be convinced judicially even before the most impartial Judge. And as in such a case we cannot account a private brother ecclesiastically scandalous, although the general strain of his way may be dissatisfying to us, So ought we not to account this; for, there is a great difference, betwixt that which may be offensive to a persons private discretion, and put him possibly in a christian way to desire satisfaction, and that which is to be noised as a publick Church-scan­dall.

Asser. 3. Upon supposition that the defect be true, yet private professors are to continue in the discharge of the duties of their stations, and not to separate from the Communion of the Church, but to count [Page 129] themselves exonered in holding fast their own inte­grity. It's true, it cannot but be heavie to those that are tender, and, if it become scandalously ex­cessive, may give occasion to them to depart and go where that Ordinance of Discipline is more vigo­rous; and concerning that, there is no question, it be­ing done in due manner; Yet, I say, that that can be no ground for withdrawing from the Ordinances of Christ, as if they or their consciences were polluted by the presence of such others. For, 1. That there were such defects in the Church of the Jews, cannot be denied, and particularly doth appear in the in­stance of Elie's sons, who made the Ordinances of the Lord contemptible with their miscarriages; yet that either it was allowable to the people to withdraw, or faulty to joyn in the Ordinances, can no way be made out. If it be said, there was but one Church then, Therefore none could separate from the Ordinances in it? Answ. 1. This doth confirm what is said, to wit, that the joyning of scandalous persons in Or­dinances doth not pollut them to others; for if so, the Lord had not laid such a necessity upon those that were tender, that they behoved to partake of pol­luted Ordinances, or to have none; and if it did not pollute them then, some reason would be given that doth evidence it now to do so. 2. If there be an unity of the Church now, as well as then, then the con [...]equence must be good; because, so where ever folks communicate, those many that communicate any where, are one bread, and one body, as the Apostle speaketh, 1 Cor. 10. 17. compared with chap 12, 13. And so by communicating any where, we declare our selves to be of the same visible Church and poli­tick body, with those who communicat elswhere, even as by Baptism we are baptized into one Church, and into communion with all the members of the body any where. And therefore, if this be considered, it will not be enough to eschew pollution (if the ob­jectio [...] [Page 130] be true and well grounded) to separate from one Society, or one particular Congregation, except there be a separation from the whole visible Church; for so also Jews might have separated from particu­lar Synagogues▪ or have choosed times for their of­ferings and sacrifices distinct from others. Famous Cotton of New England, in his Holinesse of Church­members, pag. 21. grants that there were many scanda­lous persons in the Church of the Jews. 2. He saith, that that was by the Priests defect, for they ought not to have been retained. And, 3. though he say that that will not warrand the lawfulnesse of admit­ting scandalous persons to the Church, yet he assert­eth, that it may argue the continuance of their Church-estate notwithstanding of such a toleration; and if so, then it approveth continuing therein, and condemneth separation therefrom; and consequently a Church may be a Church, having the Ordinances in purity, and to be communicate in, notwithstand­ing of the form [...]r fault. 3. What hath been marked out of Learned Writers, for paralleling the constitu­tion of the Church under the Gospel, with that under the Law in essentiall things, doth overthrow this ob­jection; for now separation is as impossible as formerly.

2. This defect is to be observed in severall of the Primitive Churches, as we may particularly see in the second and third Chapters of the Revelation, yet it is never found that any upon that account did with­draw or were reproved for not doing so, even when the Officers were reproved for defect: Yea, on the contrary, these who keeped themselves pure from these Scandals, though continuing in that communion, are commended and approven, and exhorted to continue as formerly. Now, if coutinuing in communion in such a case be of it self sinfull, and personall inte­grity be not sufficient to professours where the defect is sinfull to the Officers, even though in other perso­nall [Page 131] things and duties of their stations they were ap­proveable, How can it be thought that the faithfull and true Witnesse should so sharply reprove the one, and so fully approve the other at the same time?

3. The nature of Church-communion doth con­firm this: because such influence hath the scandalous­nesse of one to make another guilty, as the approven conversation of the other hath to make the Ordi­nances profitable to him that is scandalous, for we can no otherwise partake of the evil than of the good of another in Church-communion; But it is clear, that the graciousnesse of one cannot sanctifie an Ordi­nance to one that is profane; and therefore the pro­fanity of one cannot pollute the Ordinance to one that is tender. And, as he that examineth himself, partaketh worthily in respect of himself and his own condition, but doth not sanctifie communicating to another; So, he that partaketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, and not to ano­ther: and for that cause, is both the precept and the threatning bounded, Let a man examine himself, &c. For, he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself; for, upon doing or omit­ting of duty in himself, doth follow worthy, or un­worthy communicating to him. And if in the most near conjugall fellowship, the company of a profane Husband may be sanctified to a gracious Wife, even when hers is unsanctified to him, (because that de­pendeth upon the persons own qualification and way of usemaking of Gods Ordinance of marriage) much more may it be here: this last might be a distinct ar­gument of it self.

4. If continuance in communion with such per­sons be sinfull, Then it must either be because commu­nion with such as are profane indeed, whether we know or think them to be so or not, is sinfull; or, it must be because we know them, or think them to be such; But neither of these can be said: Not the first, [Page 132] because so to keep communion with an hypocrite, or a Believer in a carnall frame, were sinfull, although we thought them to be sincere, which cannot be pleaded: nor can it be said, it is because we know them to be so, Because, 1. If we knew a man to be so, and another knew not, in that case, the Ordi­nances were pollutted to one, and not to another, at the same time, though possibly both were exercising the same faith, and having examined themselves, were in the same frame, which were absurd. Yea, 2. If it depended on our knowledge of it, Then our very supposing it to be so, although it were not so, would pollute the Ordinance; and what confusion would be there, may be afterward hinted. Nor can it be said, it is because we think so, because, suppo­sing some to think otherwise, it would be still an ordinance to them, and a duty to continue in it, and not to us, which is the former absurdity; and this doth not flow from the binding nature of an errone­ous conscience (which may be alleged in other cases) but from the difference of persons light, charity, or other apprehensions of things, whereby one is in­duced to esteem that scandalous, which another doth not.

5. If communion with profane persons that are such to our knowledge be sinfull, and polluteth Or­dinances, Then these things may be enquired, which will inf [...]r diverse absurdities, 1. Ought persons to try all those that they keep communion with, whe­ther they be profane or [...]? For, if any profane per­son be in that communion which they might have known if they had tried, then their ignorance can­not excuse. 2. It may be enquired, what degree of triall and search doth sufficiently exoner, because pos­sibly a further triall might have discovered some to be profane? 3. It may be enquired, what evidences may demonstrate persons to be scandalous, and make them to be so accounted of? If only something seen [Page 133] by themselves, or if something reported by others; and that whether it be judicially made out or only asserted? and how manies report is to be taken for proof; or if any that be so reported of, be so to be accounted? 4. What sort of sca [...]dals are to be en­quired-in to make a person such as polluteth the Or­dinances? If it be any kind of scandal, or but scan­dals of such a nature? If one scandal be sufficient, or if the [...]e must be many? and how many are to be laid weight upon in this? and some satisfying grounds how, and where to fix the difference, are to be laid down? 5. It may be asked, if one scanda­lous person alone doth pollute the Ordinances? or if there must be moe? and if so, How many? 6. Sup­pose such a scandal were known to us alone, charity, and Christs command do say, it is not to be publish­ed; conscience saith in that case, the Ordinance is polluted, time straits either to communicate doubt­ingly, or with offence to abstain and hide the cause, or contrary to charity to signifie the same. These and many such like things are requisit to satisfie one, upon this supposition, that communion in such a case is sinfull, Therefore it is not to be admitted.

6. If the Ordinance be polluted to one that is clean Then it is either the deed of the Church-officers that doth pollute it, or the deed of the scandalous per­son that doth communicate; But neither of these can be said: Not the first, for that would suppose that all the Ordinances were polluted, although no scan­dalous person were present actually, because they were not actually excluded, and though they were absent, yet there being no impediment made to them by Church-officers, as to their guilt, it is the same. Nor the second, Because, supposing a person not to be debarred, it is his duty to communicate; and can it be said, that he in doing of his duty upon the matter, should make that not to be a duty to us, which lieth on by a joynt command, which requireth eating [Page 134] from him and from us, as it requireth praying?

7. The Lords ordering it so in His providence, that He admitteth unsanctified Officers to administrate His Ordinances, and yet withall, accounting them Officers, and the Ordinances in their hands to be His Ordinances, and that even when they are known to be unsound (till in His own way they be removed) doth demonstrate this, that pollution in joynt wor­shippers doth not pollute the Ordinances to others. For, if any did pollute them, Then most of all scan­dalous Officers; But these do not. Ergo, &c. We may see it, first, in the scandalousnesse of Priests under the Law; for we must either say that there were no scan­dalous Priests, or that the people did then offer no sa­crifice and joyn in no worship, or that sinfully they did it: All which are absurd. 2. We see in Christs time, the Scribes and Pharisees were pointed out by Him as scandalous, Mat. 23. v. 3. Yet even there doth He require continuance in the Ordinances admini­strate by them, notwithstanding. 3. Doth not Paul speak of some that preached out of envy, Philip. 1. 15. which is a most grosse scandal, and of others who sought their own things, and not the things of Christ, Phil. 2. 21? Both which are grosse, and clear­ly evidenced by his testimony, yet is he content that people continue, yea, he supposeth that they may profit in communion with them, which he would not, had the Ordinances been polluted by them to others. And the same may be said of several Chur­ches in these second and third Chapters of the Revela­tion, where both grossnesse of Ministers, and of many Professors, is notified by Christ to the Church, yet it cannot be supposed that that might have been made the ground of separation afterward from them, more than not doing of it was reprovable before.

8. If known evil in any that doth communicate, pollute the Ordinances in themselves, Then how can a Believer communicate with himself? Because, [Page 135] 1. he hath corruption. 2. He hath as full knowledge of it as of any other mans, yea, that which may make him think it more than what he knoweth of any other man. 3. That corruption is as near him as the corruption of any. 4. The Law doth more particularly strike against corruption in him as to himself, than that which is in any other. Yea, 5. this corruption doth certainly, in so far pollute the Ordinance to him, and make him guilty. Now the same grounds that say he may communicate with a good conscience, notwithstanding of his own cor­ruptions, will also say, he may communicate not­withstanding of that which is in another, much more: because the sins that follow his corruption are his own sins, which cannot be said of the sins of others. And if repentance for his own sin, resting upon Christ, protesting against the body of death (which yet are but the acts of the same person, in so far as re­nued, differing from himself as unrenued) If, I say, such acts may quiet his conscience, and give him confidence to partake, notwithstanding of his own corruption, and that even then when he as unrenued may be accounted guilty, may they not much more give him confidence in reference to the sins of another, which are not so much as his deeds.

9. In that directory which Christ giveth, Mat. 18. this is implied, because he doth warrand an offended brother to bring obstinate offenders to the Church, as the last step of their duty, and as their [...]ull exonera­tion, Tell the Church, saith he; and no more is requir­ed by him after that, but conforming of his carriage to the Churches Sentence in case of obstinacie. And none can think, upon supposition that the Church did not their duty, that then they were from that forth, not to joyn in that Church, but to separate from them as from heathens and publicans: because so a particular person might Excommunicate a Church, whom yet Christ will not have to withdraw from [Page 136] communion with a private member, till obstinacie and the Churches censuring interveen; Yea, by so doing, a private person might account another a hea­then and publican without any publick Censure, which is contrary to Christs scope, which subjoyneth this withdrawing of communion from him to the Churches Censure. This will bind the more if we consider that Christs words have an allusion (as is commonly acknowledged) to the Jewish Sanedrim, which being but one, could not admit of any separa­tion from its communion, though there had been de­fect in this: What may be done in abstaining of per­sonall communion in unnecessary things, is e [...]er to be acknowledged; yet if separation in such a supposed case, were called-for as a duty, that direction would not be a sufficient direction for an offended brother, because it leaveth him without direction in the last step: Yet Christs progresse so particularly from one step to another, saith, that it is otherwayes in­tended.

Who would have more full satisfaction in this, may look the Learned Treatises that are written against Separation, which will hold consequentially in this; and therefore we may here say the lesse, And shall only add the consideration of one Scripture.

For confirming of this Assertion then, we may takeA particu­lar conside­ration of 1 Cor. 11. 17, &c. more particular consideration of one place, which seemeth more especially to relate to this purpose, That is, 1 Corinth. 11. from the 17. ver. foreward: Where it doth appear, first, That there were divisions amongst that people, even in respect of communicat­ing together at the Lords Table, so that some of them would not communicate with others: for that there were divisions is clear. Now, these divisions are ex­pressed to be in the Church when they came together to eat the Lords Supper, ver. 18, and 19. and some did communicate at one time, and some at another, without tarrying one for another, as is expressed, v. 33.

[Page 137]Secondly, We may also gather what might be the reason of this divided communicating, or, at least, what some might alleage why they would not com­municate joyntly with others: For, it is like, they fell in this irregularity deliberately, as thinking they did well when they communicated apart, and not with others. So much is insinuated in the Apostles expostulation, ver. 22. What, shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. Now these reasons might be alleged, to justifi [...] their divided communicating, 1. That the Ordinances were not reverently administred, nor with that gravity and discerning of the Lords Body, as was fit. 2. That many unworthy persons were ad­mitted to communion, even such as were drunken, ver. 21. &c. and therefore it might be alleged by them, that joynt communicating with such was to be abstained.

Thirdly, It is evident also, That notwithstanding of these grounds▪ the Apostle doth condemn their practice, and presseth them to joynt communicating, as appeareth from ver. 22. and 33. From which, this clear argument doth arise, If the members of the Church of Corinth, who did separate from the Ordi­nances, because of the sinfulnesse of these that did joyntly partake with them, were condemned by Paul, and required to communicate joyntly, and if it be made clear by him how they might do so and not be guilty, Then separation in such a case cannot be a du­ty but a sin: But the former are true. Therefore▪ &c. I know nothing can be objected against this argu­ment, but either to say, That the Apostles scope is in that eating together, to regulate their love feasts, and to condemn their practice in these; or, that he com­mends joynt communicating simply, but not in such a case, because it is not clear whether any of them did scruple upon that ground or not: for, the remov­ing of these, we say to the first, That the main scope of the place is to regulate them in going about the [Page 138] Sacrament of the Lords Supper: And therefore it is that the Apostle doth so clearly and plainly insist in clearing the institution thereof, thereby to bring them back to the way that was laid down and delivered to him by the Lord. And for any other sort of eating or drinking, the Apostle doth send them to their houses▪ v [...]r. 22. and more expresly he repeateth that direction, that if any man hunger and desire to eat his ordinary meat, Let him do it at home, ver. 34. So that no direction for the time to come can be inter­preted to belong to common eating in the Church, or in the publick meetings thereof, but such as is sacra­mentall only.

To the second, to wit, if the Apostle doth dip in this question, with respect to that objection of the im­purity of joynt communicants, we do propose these things for clearing of the same,

First, We say, that whether they did actually ob­ject that or not, yet there was ground for them to object the same if it had weight, as the Text cleareth: Neither could the Apostle, knowing that ground, and having immediately mentioned the same, have ac­cesse to presse them all indifferently to communicate together, if his direction meet not the case; for this might still have stood in the way, that many of them were such and such, and therefore not to be commu­nicated with; and if it be a sufficient reason to keep them from joynt communicating, then the case being so circumstantiated, it would also be a sufficient rea­son to keep him from imposing that as a duty upon them, at least, so long as the case stood as it was.

Secondly, We say, that it is not unlike there was such hesitations in some of them; and that (what­ever was among them) it is clear, that the Apostle doth expresly [...]peak to this case, and endeavour to re­move that objection out of the way, to wit, that men should not scare at the Sacrament, because of the pro­fanity of others: and that therefore they might with­out [Page 139] scruple as to that, communicate joyntly, and [...]arry one for another, which is his scope, ver. 33. This will appear by considering severall reasons whereby he presseth this scope, for that, ver. 33. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together, tarrie one for another, is the scope laid down as a conclusion from the former grounds which he hath given. Now, when he hath corrected their first fault, to wit, their irreverent manner of going about the Ordinance, by bringing them to Christs institution, ver. 23, 24, 25, 26, 27. He cometh, in the last place, to meet with this objection, What if others be present who palpably cannot discern the Lords Body, and so cannot com­municate worthily? Can it be safe to communicate with such? Or, is it not better to find out some other way of communicating apart, and not together with such? The Apostle giveth severall answers to this, and reasons, whereby he cleareth, that their di­vision was not warrantable upon that ground, from ver. 28. And so concludeth, ver. 33. that notwith­standing thereof, they might tarry one for another.

The first reason, is, ver. 28. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat. Which sheweth, 1. That a mans comfortable preparation for this duty, is to ex­amine himself; and that the fruit may be expected, or not expected, accordingly as it shall be with himself: Otherwayes, it were not a sufficient di­rection for preparation, to put him to examine him­self. Again, 2. these are knit together, Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat. Which is in sum, this, when a man hath in some sincerity looked upon his own condition, and hath attained some suitable­nesse to the Ordinances, as to his own private case, then, (saith the Apostle) Let him eat, without re­specting the condition of others. Otherwayes, a man having examined himself, yet could not eat, though his own disposition were as it should be, if the case of others might hinder him in eating. And [Page 140] we conceive, it is a main part of the Apostles scope, by knit [...]ing these two together (to wit, a mans eating with the examining of himself) purposly to prevent such a deba [...]e.

The second reason which he giveth, will confirm this also; for, saith he, ver. 29. He who eateth and drinketh unworthily, he eateth and drinketh unto himself damnation▪ or judgement. Which is, in [...]um, this, a man that hath examined himself, may eat of the Sa­crament, though many persons communicate unwor­thily with him, because (saith he) he that eateth un­worthily, doth not bring damnation or judgement upon others, nor is his sin imputed to them that com­municate with him, but he doth bring it upon himself, and therfore no other hath cause to scare at the Ordi­nance because of that, if he hath examined himself. This reason he again confirmeth from experience, ver. 30. For this cause (saith he) many are sick, and many among you are weak, &c. that is, not because they did communicate with those who are scandalous being in good case themselves; but for this cause, saith he, many are sick, &c. and have brought upon themselves great plagues, because by not examining of themselves, they did communicate unworthily, and so, by their own sin, brought these stroaks upon themselves.

He gives a third reason for making out of his scope, ver. 3 [...]. For, if we will judge our selves, we should not be judged, that is, men need not be anxious in this case, whether others judge themselves or not; for, saith he, Gods absolving or judging of us, doth not depend upon what they do▪ but upon what we our selves do. And therefore presseth them still to look to themselves, because the judging and humbling of our selves before God, is the way not to be judged by Him, even in reference to that Ordinance, whatever others do.

Now, when he hath fully cleared the reasons, and, [Page 141] as it were, made out this proposition, that if a man be right in his own frame, the sin of another joynt communicant, cannot be hurtfull to him, or b [...] ground to mar him in eating, and when by an interserted pa­renthesis, he hath obviated a doubt, v. 32. he con­cludeth, ver. 33. Wh [...]refore, saith he, my brethren, (seing it is so) [...]arry one for another, and be not anxi­ously feared to communicate joyntly; Now, seing all alongst the Apostle hath been giving such grounds as may clear a conscience in that case, and doth in these words lay down the direction of tarrying one for another, or of joynt communicating, as a conclu­sion drawn from the former grounds, It cannot be thought, but that purposly he intended these reasons to be grounds for the quieting of consciences, to obey that direction in such a case; and that therefore it cannot be warrantable to separate upon that ground.

CHAP. XIII. Shewing more particularly what it is that pri­vate persons are called to in such a case.

IF it be asked then▪ What is that which private persons ought to do in such a case? Answ. They are certainly to contain themselves within their station, yet so, as some things are called for at such a time more than at another time; As, first, There is need of much circumspectnesse in our own personal walk and watchfulnesse, in observing of oppor­tunities wherein we may edifie others, as Heb. 3. 13. Secondly▪ There is need of more frequency, and of a more weighty circumspect manner in giving private admonitions and exhortations, &c. Thirdly, There would be much exercise of prayer, and even fasting there with (though in a secret inoffensive manner) both for the restraining of offences which dishonour God, and for zeal to Officers to perform their duty; [Page 142] if in this respect, rivers of tears were running down our cheeks, because of the abounding of offences, there might be much more solid peace (we are [...] ­swaded) in keeping communion with others, than without that to separate with much, at least seeming pride and uncharitable cruelty in giving of offence to them, and thereby confirming them in their pro­fanity. Fourthly, It is private persons duty to re­present such offences, with their evidences, to Church­officers, or Church-judicatories, thereby to put them to the removing of such offences. Fifthly, They may freely, though humbly and reverently, expostu­late with Church-officers, when they are defective, and endeavour to convince them of that offence: The force of that precept, If thy brother offend thee, go and tell him, &c. warranteth so much; and this the Colossians are to say to Archippus, that he be not de­fective in his Ministery which he had received, &c, Col. 4. 17. This decently and convincingly done, is usefull. Sixthly, If all that prevail not, private per­sons may communicate it to other Church-officers; and no redresse following, it is their duty to follow it before the competent superiour Judicatories: for, Christ's direction, Tell the Church, importeth and warranteth the same.

If it be asked, What further is to be done, if that fail? Answ. We know no other publick redresse; Christ hath left it there, and so may we also. Neither can it be insttucted from Scripture, that Christ hath appointed separation to be the next step of a private persons duty for removing of offences, much lesse to go before these. Indeed the Scripture calleth for with-drawing from personall communion with grosse, scandalous persons, as a thing necessary; as also from communion in the corrupt designes and courses of any, though they may have a form of godlinesse, as 2 Tim. 3. 4, 5, &c. which doth belong to, and is comprehended under the first parti­cular [Page 143] direction. And if these be faithfully observed by private Christians, we are hopefull that either there would be lesse ground of complaint for the de­fect of Church-officers, or more acces [...]e to remove such as continue unfaithfull, and more peace to the consciences of particular private Christians, and lesse offence and more edification to all, than any other way whatsoever.

That it is thus necessary for private persons to ac­quiesceWhy it is necessary to acquie [...]ce in the Churches Determina­tion as to practice. in the Churches determination, in manner as is said, may appear from the unsetlednesse and con­fusion, both in private and publick, which otherwise would follow: For, either there must be a sisting in this determination of the Church, or, there must be some other period to fix at, or, there must be no fix­ing at all. Neither of the two last can be said, Therefore, &c. Not the last, to wit, that there is no fixing at all; for so a particular person that were of­fended, would not know what were duty, or what to follow; and it would infer a defect in the Lord's Or­dinance in reference to His Peoples direction and peace in such cases, which is most absurd.

If the second be said, viz. That there is some other thing to fix on for quieting of consciences in such a case, as to their exoneration beyond that publick de­cision; We desire to know what that is which is called-for, and by what rule we are to proceed in it? If it be said, that in such a case the duty is to sepa­rate from that Church, where the plurality of Offi­cers do admit such as are accounted to be scandalous; Then we ask, 1. What is next to be done? it must either be to continue as no member of a Church, which is both impossible and absurd. It is impossible that there can be any particular visible baptized member, and not belong to the visible body, at least, being considered, as the Church maketh one integral visible body. It's absurd, because it would say, That either Christ had no visible Church, or, that He hath [Page 144] an ordinary way of edifying by external Ordinances without His visible Church, or, that a person might be regardlesse of, and without His Church and Ordi­nances, and be approven of Him▪ and expect the be­nefit; yea, upon this supposition▪ the unfaithfulnesse of Church-officers in not casting-out of scandalous men, would infer the actual unchurching of those that were not scandalous, and so the sin of the one should be the punishment of the other, which is absurd.

If it be said that another Church of more pure mem­bers is to be gathered, in which persons in such cases are to joyn for obtaining of pure Ordinances; Then we ask further, What if such a Congregation cannot be had? Then, what is duty in that case? Is there a necessity of living without a visible Church-state, wanting all Church-ordinances to our selves, and Baptism to our children? What can be the fruit of that? Is it not a more uncontrovertible hazard to put our selves without all communion of Church­ordinances, than to enjoy them where they are pure, though some joynt partakers be offensive? Is not the other the way to make our children heathens, and for ever to be without Baptism, seing warrantably they cannot be entered where we cannot a bide? Doth not this also make way to make all the Ordinances con­temptible, and to be undervalued by the profane, seing such persons do so conten [...]edly live without them?

Further, we ask▪ What if other persons and we cannot agree upon jo [...]nt members; for, if it be left to mens particular discerning, that rule is uncertain and various, being involved in many difficulties, as was formerly hinted: in that case, either there must be no separated Church, or diverse separated Churches, ac­cording to the latitude of diverse persons charity. This being certain, that one will think a person scan­dalous, which another doth not esteem so; and one will approve that, which another will condemn.

[Page 145]Again, we ask, What if such persons that with­draw and seek to enter a more holy society, should be refused? Then, how could they evidence their own holinesse, and convince these refusers that they were graciously qualified, and so to be admitted if that were stuck upon, for whatever profession were made, it behoved still to be tried by no other rule, but by folks particular discerning and charity?

Again, suppose this difficulty to be overcome, and such a congregation to be settled, Is it not possible that even some of those members should become scanda­lous? Then, supposing that by the plurality of that Church, such persons were not accounted scandalous, or not cast out, what were to be done? According to the former grounds, these who suppose themselves only pure, could not continue in communion, but behoved again to separate; and if so, then upon the renuing of the former supposition, there behoved still to be a separation in infinitum. For, there can no Church be expected on earth, in which these cases are not supposable and possible. And so now we may resume the conclusion, Either a private person must acquiesce, as being exonered when he hath fol­lowed the action before the Church, or he shall have no ground of peace any where, till he be out of the world, or out of all visible Churches. And so al­so there can be no other way of keeping publick order and ordinances; and of eviting scandal and confusion.

This truth is fully made out by those three worthy and pious Divines of New England, Cotton, Hooker, and Norton: The last whereof, by many reasons evinceth this in his answer to Appolonious his last que­stion, pag. 162, 163. and doth from the Church of Corint [...] in particular confirm this: ‘There (saith he) was impurity or corruption in worship, for women taught in the Church; There was corrupt Doctrine, many denied the Resurrection; in man­ners, [Page 146] she was most corrupt, there being so many fornications, sects, palpable love of the world, &c. Yet (saith he) the Apostle did not command those that were worthily prepared to abstain from the Supper, but, rectifying abuses, he did command every one to try himself, and so to eat, &c.’ And many other things hath he excellently to this purpose, and laieth this for a ground, that per alios indigne accedentes non polluitur communio, licet minuitur conso­latio, that is, the communion in worship is not pol­luted, though the consolation be diminished by such joynt worshippers.’

The second, to wit, Mr. Hooker doth confirm this Maxime fully, part 1. chap. 9. pag. 119, 120. and doth call it irrationall, that the fewer should be judges of the deed of the plurality: and elswhere, that to admit sepa­ration in such a case, were to lay a ground for separation in infinitum. Only, we may add these two observati­ons thereon, 1. May not this be allowed to the Presbyteriall Church where the plurality of Church­officers think fit n [...]t to cast out? 2. That the Pres­byteriall government is upon this consideration, un­justly loaded with an absurdity, as if necessarily up­on their grounds, the minor and better party being overswayed (suppose a particular Congregation were wronged by the plurality of a Presbyterie) could have no redresse; for, according to his grounds the same would follow upon the congregationall way; for, suppose the plurality of the Congregati­on should wrong some officer, contrary to the vote of the minor and better party, there can be no other redresse there, than for men to keep themselves free: For, it still recurreth, if the minor part should claim to have their Sentence weighty, because it is upon the matter right, which the other is not, he hath already determined in the place cited, that that is, contrary to all orderly proceeding and rules of reason and layeth open the gap to endlesse dissention, and the [Page 147] annulling of all publick proceeding; for, men in such cases, being their own judges, are ever ready to think themselves in the right.

By the first, to wit, Mr. Cotton, it is laid down as an unquestionable agreed ground, with this note up­on the back of it, By hasty withdrawing, Reformation is not procured but retarded. Thus he, pag. 2. of the bolinesse of Church-members. And hath not expe­rience confirmed this? Might not Discipline have been more vigorous in many Congregations, if this had not been? And what can be expected of Refor­mation in the body of the Christian world, if to the offence of the rest, those who suppose themselves to be more tender, should instantly withdraw from them.

CHAP. XIV. Clearing whether the Ordinances of Christ be any way polluted by corrupt fellow-worshippers.

BUt yet two things are to be satisfied. 1. It may be said, But are not the Ordinances of Christ someway polluted by the unworthinesse of such scandalous partakers? and if so, can polluted Ordi­nances be partaken of without sin? Answ. We may consider polluting of Ordinances in a threefold sense. 1. An Ordinance may be said to be polluted, when the essentials and substantials thereof are corrupted, so as indeed it ceaseth to be an Ordinance of Jesus Christ: Thus the Masse in Popery, is a fearfull abo­mination, and a corruption of the Sacrament: in this respect, the Ordinance (if it may be called an Ordinance after that, for indeed it is not an Ordi­nance of Christ) is polluted, and this may be many wayes fallen into, and communion in this, is indeed sinfull and cannot but be so.

2. An Ordinance may be said to be polluted, when [Page 148] it is irreverently and profanely abused, though essen­tials be keeped: Thus the Lords Sabbath may be polluted, which yet is holy in it self; So was the Table of the Lord polluted, Mal. 1. And in this sense the Sacrament of the Lords Supper was indeed pollu­ted by the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 11. when some came drunk or otherwayes irreverently to the holy Ordinances; in this respect, an Ordinance may be said to be pol­luted to him that so goeth about it, because to the un­clean all things are unclean; but it is not polluted in it self, nor to any other that examine themselves, as the former instance doth clear, because that polluti­on cometh from nothing in the Ordinance, (it being in its essentials compleat) but doth arise from the sin­fulnesse of such and such persons, and therefore must be commensurable with them.

3. An Ordinance may be said to be polluted, up­on this extrinsick consideration, to wit, when by some circumstance in it, or miscarriage of those that are about it, it is made common-like, and so want­eth that luster and honourablenesse that it ought to have; by such a fault the Ordinance is made obnoxi­ous to contempt, and is despised by others, contrary to the Lords allowance. Thus the Priests of old made the offerings of the Lord vile and contemp­tible, which was not by corrupting them in essenti­als, nor making them cease to be Ordinances, bu [...] by their miscarriages and corrupt irreverent way of going about them, they did lay that stumbling-block before others, to make them account these Ordi­nances contemptible. This may be diverse wayes fallen into, As, 1. when the Officer, or Minister, hath a profane carnall carriage, So he maketh the Ordi­nance of the Ministery, and every other Ordinance vile in this sense: Thus, if an Elder or any other [...] should take on them to admonish while they are in drunkennesse or passion, or such like, they do pol­lute that admonition, yet still these Ordinances are [Page 149] Ordinances, and that admonition an admonition. 2. It is fallen into, when an Officer doth indiscreetly and indifferently administrate Ordinances to preci­ous and vile, as if they were common things. Thus a reproof may be polluted when a manifest known contemner is reproved, because, so a pearl is casten before swine, which is derogatory to the excellency thereof. Thus a Minister may profane or pollute the most excellent promises or consolations of the Word, when he doth without discretion apply the same indifferently; or, without making difference between the tender and the untender and profane; yea, even between the hypocrites and the truely god­ly. This is not to divide the Word of God aright, and is indeed that which the Lord mainly account­eth to be Not separating of the precious from the vile, when peace is spoken to them to whom he never spoke [...] This is also committed, when grosly scandalous persons are permitted, without the exercise of Disci­pline upon them▪ [...] live in the Church, or are admit­ted to Sacraments, because so Gods institution is wronged, and the luster thereof is lessened, and men are induced to think lesse thereof. 3. This may be also by the irreverent mann [...]r of going about them, when it is without that due reverence and gravity that ought to be in His worship. Thus one may make the Word and Sacrament to be in a great part ridi­culous; and so suppose, that at the Sacrament of the Supper, in the same Congregation, some should be communicating at one place, some at another, some should be palpably talking of other things, some miscarrying by drunkennesse, &c. as its clear was in the Church of Corinth. All those may be said to pollute the Ordinances, as they derogate from their weight and authority, and miscarry in the admini­stration of them, and are ready to breed irreverence and contempt in others where the Lords Body in the Supper, or the end of His instit [...]tion in other Ordi­nances, [Page 150] is not discerned and observed: yet all these do not pollute the Ordinance in it self, or make it to be no Ordinance, nor do pollute it to any that doth re­verently partake of the same, and doth not stumble upon the block that is laid before him: Because an hearer that were suitably qualified, might comfort­ably receive and [...]eed upon a sweet promise, even when it might be extended in its application beyond the Lord's allowance; yet doth not that alter the na­ture thereof to him: So may worthy Communicants that have examined themselves, and do discern the Lord's Body, partake of that Sacrament with His ap­probation, and to their own comfort; Because they might discern Him and by that come to get the right impression of the Ordinances, although many blocks were lying in their way: for, it is not others casting of snares before them, but their stumbling at them, that doth pollute the Ordinance to them. Hence we see, that though all these were in the Church of Co­rinth, so that there was neither [...] in the man­ner, nor discretion in respect of the Receivers (for, some came drunken, and some came and waited no: on others, some came hungry, and others full) yet was it still the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and unpolluted to those, who by examining of themselves, and discerning of His Body (which others failed in) did reverently and duly partake of the same.

Besides these wayes of pollution mentioned, we cannot conceive of any other (for now legal and ce­remonial pollution, such as was by touching a dead body, &c. and was opposit to ceremonial holinesse, is not in this case to be mentioned) yet we see the first cannot be alleaged here, and none of the other two ought to scare tender persons from the Ordinances of Jesus Christ.

If it be said, That communicating in such a case▪ doth seem to approve such an admission, and to con­firm those in some good opinion of themselves who [Page 151] are admitted, and so there is a necessity of abstain­ing, though not upon the account, that the Ordinan­ces are polluted, yet, for preventing the foresaid of­fence, which might make us guilty. Ans. If weight be laid upon offence, we make no question but it will sway to the other side. O what offence hath this way given to the Church of Christ! how hath it hardned those that had prejudice at Religion? How hath it opened the mouths of such as lie in wait for some­thing of this kind? How hath it grieved and weight­ed others? how hath it made the work of Reforma­tion, profession of Holinesse, exercise of Disci­pline, &c. to stink to many, and so to be loaded with reproaches, as hath marred much that accesse to keep the Ordinances unpolluted in the former re­spect, which otherwise might have been? 2. Is not reverent and exemplary partaking of the Ordinances at such a time, a more edifying and convincing testi­mony against such untendernesse, than by withdraw­ing to give a new offence? 3. The Lord's precept in such a case, Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat, doth not leave the thing indifferent upon that ground; And therefore that objection is not here to have place, as the grounds formerly laid down do evince: For, we are not to be wise or holy beyond what the Lord hath commanded.

CHAP. XV. Shewing if any thing further in any imaginable case be allowed to privat Christians.

2. IT may be yet further moved, Can there be no more allowed in any supposable case? Answ. It is most unsuitable, in a matter of practice, when folks are not contending for curiosity, but for direction, to suppose cases hardly or rarely possible in a constitute Church, which is worthy of that name, or, upon that ground, to found a contest in dispute, or [Page 152] schism in practice, in cases palpably different; At least, union should be kept till such a case come about. And is it likely, where the order formerly laid down▪ is observed, that there can be habitual admission of notoriously or grievously scandalous persons, though, it may be, there be lesser fa [...]lings of several sorts: Yet, supposing that any out of infirmity or affection, not having such knowledge, or otherwise, should stick to joyn in the Ordinances at some times, or in some places, upon such an account, who yet do not love separation, or the erecting of a different Church, We say further,

1. That, in such a case, such persons may remove from one Congregation to another, where such gros­nesse cannot be pretended to be; and the persons being otherwise without scandal, can neither be pressed to continue (they being so burdened) nor yet refused to be admitted where orderly they shall desire to joyn, seing this could not be denied to any. And, we sup­pose, few will be so uncharitable, as to think there is no Congregation whereunto they can joyn, or yet so addicted to outward respects, as to choose separation with offence to others, disturbance to the Church, and, it may be, with little quiet [...]esse to themselves, whenas they have a remedy so inoffensive allovved unto them.

2. Although separation be never allowable, and secession be not alway at an instant practicable; yet we suppose, in some cases, simple abstinence, if it be not offensive in the manner and circumstances, if it be not made customary, and if the ground be so con­vincing, and the case so grosse that it will affect any ingenuous hearer, and so evident that there is no ac­cesse to any acquainted in such places, to deny the same, or that there be a present undecided processe concerning such things before a competent Judge; in some such cases, I say, as might be supposed, we con­ceive abstinence were not rigidly to be misconstruct­ed, it being for the time the burdeen of s [...]ch persons, [Page 153] that they cannot joyn; and, it may be, having some publick complaint of such a thing to make-out, and in dependence elsewhere: Although we will not strengthen any to follow this way, nor can it be pre­tended to, where the case is not singularly horrid; yet supposing it to be such, we conceive it is the safest one way for the persons peace, and the preventing of of­fence together; yet, much christian prudence is to be exercised in the conveying of the same, if it were by removing for a time, or otherwayes, that there appear to be no publick contempt; but we conceive this case is so rarely incident, and possibly that there needeth be little said of it, much lesse should there be any needlesse debate or rent entertained upon the conside­ration or notion thereof. And certainly, the case be­fore us of the admitting of the Nicolaitans and Ie­zebel, considering their doctrine and deeds, is more horrid than readily can be supposed; and yet it would seem, that though this defect should still have conti­nued, the Lord doth require no other thing of private professours, but their continuing-in, or holding fast of, their former personal purity, which is all the bur­den that He doth lay upon them.

To shut up all, we may see what evils are to be evited in the prosecution of publick Scandals, and what a commendable thing it were to have this in the right manner vigorous; if private Christians were zealous, loving and prudent in their private admoni­tions; if Officers were diligent, single, grave, and weighty in what concerneth them; if offending per­sons were humble and submissive, and all reverent and respective of the Ordinances, and studious of private and publick edification, How beautiful and profitable a thing would it be? Certainly this man­ner of procedure, would be more beautifying to the Ordinances of Christ, more convincing to all on­lookers, more sweet and easie both to Officers and People, and more edifying and gaining to all, and, by [Page 154] God's blessing, were the way to make the mistaken yoke of Discipline to be accounted easie and light. And if all those ends be desirable, and the contrary evils be to be eschewed, then unquestionably the right manner of managing this great Ordinance of Dis­cipline, is carefully to be studied and followed both by Officers and people.

PART III. Concerning Doctrinall Scandals, or Scan­dalous Errours.

CHAP. I. Holding out the expediency of handling this matter.

ALthough somewhat hath been spoken in re­ference to practicall Scandals, (to call them so) Yet there hath been little or nothing at all spoken of Doctrinal Scandals, and what may be called for in reference to them.

It is true, that these cases are so various and diffi­cult, that there can hardly be any thing particularly spoken to them; also what hath been said, may, for the most part, proportionably be applied to them: yet considering that this place doth look so directly to such Scandals as are in Doctrine; and that the case of these times doth call for some consideration of such, lest what hath been formerly said, be altogether de­fective as to this, it will not be impertinent to insist a little on it also, although already this Tractate hath drawn to a greater length than was at first intended.

We may in prosecution of this, 1. consider some generall Doctrines. 2. Some generall Questions. [Page 155] 3. More particularly speak to the severall duties ac­cording to particular cases and remedies that are called for. 4. Shew the necessity of orderly Judicial procedour here, in reference to such Scandals, as well as in reference to Scandals in practice formerly men­tioned.

For Doctrines, we find here. 1. That Errour, vented by these that are corrupted therewith, is no lesse scandalous, and no lesse to be accounted so, than grosse practices; for it is as ready to be an occasion of stumbling, and to marr the spirituall edification and well-being of the people of God, as any scandalous practices: Which is confirmed, 1. By the conse­quents of Errour, it destroyes the soul, 2 Pet. 2. 1. 2 Thess. 2. 12. yea, it bringeth on swift damnation, 2 Pet. 2. 1. overthrows the faith of many. 2 Tim. 2. 18. perverts the Scripture to mens destruction, 2 Pet. 3. 16. deceives many, Matth. 24. Therefore for this cause, it is called also, 2. Pet. 2. damnable, pernicious, and such like: which sheweth, that really it becomes a stumbling block where it is.

2. This will appear if we consider the titles that the holy Ghost usually giveth to such in Scripture, as are promotters of corrupt Doctrine: there are not titles bearing greater indignation and abomination, given to any, than to such, as they are called dogs, evil workers, Phil. 3. 2. wolves, yea, grievous wolves, Matth. 7. 15. Act. 20. deceitfull workers, ministers of Satan, as if expresly they were commissionated by him, 2 Cor. 11. 13. deceivers, liars. Rev. 2. ill men and se­ducers, that wax worse and worse, 2 Tim. 3. 13.

3. Consider the many threatnings and woes that are in Scripture against them, Matth. 23. the many warnings that are given to Ministers to watch against them, Acts 20. the plain directions that are to cen­sure them, Tit. 3. 10. the particular examples of cen­suring them recorded in Scripture, (as after will ap­pear) Christs commending it where it is, His repro­ving [Page 156] of it where it is not, as in these second and third Chapters of the Revelation is manifest: these and such like, do evidently make out how exceedingly scandalous the venting of corrupt Doctrine is▪ which Rev. 2. 6. the Lord saith, He hates, and therefore it cannot but be loathsome and abominable.

4. Consider the many warnings that people have to eschew such, and that upon this account as being offensive, as Rom. 16, 17. Act. 20. Phil. 3. 1, 2. 2. Ioh. 10. which evidently showeth the scandalousnesse thereof.

5. Consider the nature of Errour more particu­larly. 1. It is contrary to the truth of God, and therefore is a lie, as scandalous practices are contrary to the holinesse of God: now Gods truth and vera­city is no lesse an essentiall attribute than His holiness. 2. This is not only to lie, but it is to attribute that unto the most High, by fathering these lies upon Him; and saying, thus saith the Lord, when He hath said no such thing but the contrary. 3. It teacheth others to lie, as it is, Matth. 5. 19. and that more forcibly and impudently than any practice can do. 4. It hath its original from the devil, who was a liar from the beginning, and the father thereof, Ioh. 8. 44. And spreaders of corrupt Doctrine, have special influence on the upholding and spreading of his kingdom. 5. It is a fruit of the flesh, even as murther, adul­tery, witchcraft; and seing it is so ranked by the Apostle, Gal. 5. 19, 20. can it be but scandalous?

6. The effects of it will evidence this. 1. It spoil­eth the vines, Cant. 2. 15. for, there is a wronging of purity where it is. 2. It spoileth Government and order, it hath confusion with it. 3. It spoileth unity, and it hath ever contention with it, and (as it is, Gal. 5. 15.) a biting and devouring one of another; and contention cannot be eschewed but by harmony in evil, which is far more desperate. 4. Which follow­eth on all, it destroyeth souls; and infecteth more [Page 157] speedily, dangerously and spreadingly than other practicall Scandals; never hath the Church been so defaced, nor so many souls destroyed by any scanda­lous practice, as by the venting of corrupt Doctrine; and however we take scandal, as in the general was laid down, as that which is apt to stumble others, and occasion their fall, or to weaken the confidence and jumble the peace, and disquiet the minds of some, or as it grieves the hearts of others, or, as it maketh the wayes of God to be ill spoken of, it will be still sound, that such kind of errours, are still to be ac­counted scandalous; and that nothing opens mouths more against Religion than that, See 2 Pet. 2. 2. By all which it appeareth, that grosse errour is not only a sin, but a scandalous sin, and that of a most grosse nature.

CHAP. II. Concerning the spreading of Errour; Gods dis­pleasure at the suffering thereof, and the faint­ing even of good men in restraining the same.

BEside this, there are three things considerable, which from this and other Epistles we have oc­casion to observe and enquire a little into, before we propound any particular question.

The first, is, concerning the spreading and increase of Errour, and that of the most unreasonable and absurd Errours, even in the Primitive times. The second is, anent the Lords detesting of it, so that the very suffering of the spreaders of it, is hatefull to Him in His Angels and Churches, that otherwise are ap­provable for their own particular carriages, as in Pergamos; and their not induring thereof is com­mendable, even when their own inward condition is not altogether approvable, as may be seen in Ephe­ [...]us. The third is, how that sometimes there may be [Page 158] fainting, as to zealous restraining of Errour, even in men that are not the worst.

For the first, Can it but be thought strange that de­lusionWhat height delusions of this kind may come unto. should come to this height so soon: and it may make all to tremble at the impetuousness thereof, 1. It is a most foul absurd errour, this of the Nicolaitans, even against natures light. 2. It spreadeth and encreas­eth in severall persons and Churches: and Church­story doth show that it abounded, and no lesse is in­sinuated in these Epistles. 3. That it spreadeth not only among heathens, but in the Church, and among Christs Servants, who are seduced therewith; which sheweth, that even some of note were carried away with it. 4. This is in the Churches most pure times, some of the Apostles (at least Iohn) being yet alive when this was vented. 5. It is carried-on by despicable instruments in comparison of others, a woman calling her self a prophetesse, some fellows calling themselves Apostles and new lights, that men would think, should rather have been counted di­stracted, than to have been so reverenced. 6. This is done against the testimony of their own faithful Mi­nisters, and in such Churches where God had witnes­ses keeping themselves from that evil, yea, where ma­ny Professors were in that respect pure, yet others are following that errour, receiving and reverencing these seducers more than any faithfull Pastors. 7. This is done where there neither wanted light nor authori­ty to convince them; for, no question, both were, as may be gathered from the trial of these in Ephesus; yea, Iohn writeth from the Lords own mouth to con­fute them; and though there could be no exception against the application of his Doctrine, yet it was adhered to for many years after that. 8. Iohn or some other Apostle was the instrument to convert them from Paganism to Christianity, yet, now can he not recover them from a foul errour in Christiani­ty when they are bewitched therewith: and though [Page 159] no question his authority and arguments had lesse weight with them now than before they were Christi­ans; yet what can be thought of more force for their conviction and reclaiming, than these conside­rations? The like was often Paul's case, who at first had an easie work with people, when they were hea­thens, in comparison of what he had with the same when they became Christians, and tainted with false doctrine, or listeners to corrupt teachers, as in the Epistles to the Corinthians and Galatians is clear. Which doth shew, 1. The unreasonablnesse and power of a deluding Spirit, that nothing can convince, when once people come to like that way they go on, deceiving and being deceived, and, as Peter saith, 2 Pet. 3. 16. pervert the Scripture to their own de­struction; And as may be gathered, they do so by corrupting, first, that which doth appear to be more obscure, and then they mould other Scriptures so as may consist with their fancies, that they have con­ceived to have ground in the former, and so they, first, form notions out of obscure places, and thereafter conform the more plain Scriptures to these, whereas the just contrary is most safe; and when the ignorant and unstable shall account themselves the only learn­ed in the mysteries of God, what wonder is it that they be thus given up? and when they think the plain truths, and duties wherein there is no shaddow of a ground of stumbling, are below them? and thus they may attain so much dexterity to wrest the Scrip­tures, even the plainest (as is implied there) as may be judicially subservient to their own destruction, and to prevent their being convinced, which might put them to shame; and occasion their abandoning of that. 2. We may see, that it is no easie thing to recover a misled people into errour; that peradventure, 2 Tim. 2. 25. is not accidently put in, but to show that it is a hundred to one if such get repentance, whereby the Lord would scare all from that evil, and [Page 160] the more grosse their error is, often men are the more unreasonable in the defence thereof, and obstinate in adhering thereunto, because there is most of a judi­ciall stroak seen there, in giving up men to such fool­ries, it is not credible that otherwise they could fall in them, and so being smitten of God, is it possible that any reason can prevail with them, while that plague lieth on? Was there any errour like to that of worshipping stocks and stones? it being even against sense and reason, that men should burn a part thereof, and make some common work of ano­ther portion, and of a third make a deity and fall down and worship it, as the Prophet doth expostu­late, Isa. 44. 19. which upon consideration might be found to be absurd: this is premitted as the reason of such blockishnesse, ver. 18. For he hath shut their eyes that they cannot see, and their hearts that they cannot understand. 3. The unreasonablnesse of this Spirit in men, would not be thought strange in any of the for­mer respects, even although no person could stop their mouth, but they should seem to themselves to triumph in the bringing-in of unheard▪of senses of Scripture; the more they abound in that, it is the more judicial to them, even as the moe they carry after them, and the more they be forborn by others, it worketh the more to their destruction: men would keep a distance from these infections, none can tell what they may turn unto if once entred in a giddy unstable soul, car­ried with the spait of a spirit of errour, and being given-up of God thereto for itching after it, and not receiving the love of the truth, may come to the most horrible things, and that without shame or remorse, ere there be any end; and on-lookers would acknow­ledgeThe suffring of gross er­ror is a most displeasing thing to Christ. God's justice in such stroaks, and learn to re­verence and fear him the more.

The second cannot but be clear from this: for, if errour be such an evil that thwarteth, 1. both with Gods holinesse and truth; And, 2. that hazardeth so [Page 161] many souls, (for, never a plague hath so destroyed the face of the visible Church, nor carried so ma­ny souls to hell as errour hath done) Then the suf­fering of it cannot but be hatefull to Him who loveth His Church. 3. There is no way by which the devil reproacheth Ordinances and the Word more than this, by turning them to the quite contrary end, as if he would out-shoot the Lord in His own bow, (which is abominable to mention) and invert His own means, and turn His own weapons on Him; and suffering of this, is a conniving at his design. 4. There is no way by which the devil may so win in on Christ's Servants to seduce them as by this, as in the Epistle to Thyatira is clear. And can there dan­ger come so night to Christ, and He not be displeased with what strengtheneth their snares? 5. This doth equal, yea, in some respect, prefer the devil to Him, so far as in us lieth, and so cannot but provoke His jea­lousie; for, so the devil hath liberty to vent his lies with Truth equally; and there being many lies, though there be but one Truth, he hath by this moe doors opened to him than the Gospel hath. 6. This doth make even the Truth, Ordinances, and Religion it self to be thought light of; when all these have tole­ration, it is, on the matter, a proclaiming an indiffe­rency to be in these things, than which nothing can more reflect on the jealous God, who in His Word putteth such a difference, and showeth such detesta­tion at indifferency. 7. This bringeth hudge confu­sions on the Church. For, 1. If these errours and corrupt teachers prevail, they carry souls after them, and destroy them; and ought that to be thought light of? 2. If they prevail not, yet they crosse, afflict and offend them, and so prove a snare and burden to them of whom the Lord is tender. 8. Toleration doth either account little of errour, as being no hurtfull thing, and so there can be no esteem of truth; or, it doth account little of the destruction of souls▪ both [Page 162] which must be abominable. 9. Errour doth not only break God's Law, but doth teach others to do so; and suffering thereof, must be a maintaining of Teachers to teach Transgression and Rebellion against the Lord.

The third thing observable, is, That though zeal inSometimes those who want not af­fection, are yet too con­descending to erroncous Teachers: and why? a Minister, especially against errour, be exceedingly commendable; yet oftimes is there fainting, even among Ministers who are not of the worst: and the Angel is here reproved for sparing of these Nicolai­tans, at least in being faint and defective in pursu­ing them in a ministerial way, as Antipas is com­mended for his faithfulnesse, and the Angel of Ephe­sus for his not fainting in prosecuting of this trial; the Lord hath put these two together, the faithfull and wise Steward; and when they are carried equally on, O how commendable are they! yet in the recko­ning, the one is but mentioned, Well done thou good and faithfull servant, not to give a dispensation in reference to the other, but to shew the necessity and excellency of this, that there by Ministers may be put to it, lest, under pretext of prudence, they incroach upon that freedom and faithfulnesse which is called-for from them, whether in undertaking, or in prosecuting of this charge, in which there will not want many dif­ficulties, that will be ready to occasion fainting, if they be not boldly in the Lord's strength set against, as we may instance in these respects, 1. In respect of the time: there are some evil times, wherein it is hard to know what to say, for which the prudent may be said to keep silence, and often that pretext may be the occasion of fostering too much fainting, when the Lord calleth-for faithfulnesse. 2. It may arise from a man's sensiblenesse of his own infirmities and un­equalnesse for that charge, as seems to be in Ieremiah, Ier. 1. when a mans own self, or thoughts of himself, without respect to his call, is made the rule whereby he proceedeth. 3. It may arise from the message [Page 163] which he is called to carry: sharp messages are heavy and burdensom, that maketh Ionas to shift for a time to undertake that denunciation against Niniveh, espe­cially considering that these Messengers ordinarily are not acceptable to hearers; and that there are with all usually not a few who sew pillows under arm holes; and are ready to destroy, in that respect, what others build. 4. It may arise from hearers, and that of di­verse tempers; some are ready, like swine, to turn back on the Carriers as if they did hate them▪ as Micajah was met with by Ahab, 2 King. 22. who yet had four hundred flattering liars in request. Some again, are of an itching humour, and do not abide con­vincing doctrine and faithfulnesse, such are ready to breed a separation from them that do faithfully re­prove, at least much to cool their affections to them, which (as it is, 2 Tim. 4.) is no little piece of trial to a Minister: Many also that are affectionate, are yet hasty, and cannot abide plain dealing; and it is no lesse difficulty to win to be faithfull to these, than to others who are openly prophane. 5. There is a fainting that ariseth from distrust of God, as not be­ing confident of the performance of His promise, and of their being countenanced in His work; and so seeing it impossible in themselves and in their own eyes, they give it over as if it were so simply. 6. There is a fainting that ariseth from supposed events, either as thinking there will be no fruit of such a thing, or, that some inconvenience will follow it: It is like that Moses was not free of the first when he saith. Israel doth not, or, will not hear me; And what will Pharaoh do? And the last is common, when once flesh and bloud are admitted to consult of duty from the supposed in­conveniencies that will follow, then readily it deci­deth, that it is not duty at all. It may be somewhat of that was here, that the Angel feared the disquieting of the Church, or some schism that might follow on it; and the Lord's threatning to take another way of [Page 164] fighting against them with the sword of His mouth' doth insinuate this: for, a carnall shift, to prevent some inconveniences, often draweth-on that which men feared, the more speedily. Other grounds of it also may be given, which yet are not approvable be­fore God.

CHAP. III. If any of the People of God may be carried away with grosse delusions.

FRom these Doctrines several Questions may be moved. And, 1. If any of the People of God may be carried away with such abominable er­rours in doctrine? We shall answer in these Asser­tions.

Assert. 1. There is no errour so grosse materially,It is not simply im­possible but some may, in a great mea­sure, for a time, be car­ried away. but Believers may fall into it: For, although they have a promise that errour shall not separate wholly betwixt Christ and them, nor that finally they shall be carried away therewith; yet, seing they have cor­ruption that is capable to be tempted to all sin, and so to this among other sins, they cannot be exempted from this, neither is there any promise by which they can expect absolutely to be kept from heresie, more than murder or adultery, which are fruits of the flesh with this: yea, except the sin against the holy Ghost and final impenitencie, there is no absolute exemption to the Believer from any sin; which the Lord hath wisely ordered so, to keep the Believer from security, even in reference to such tentations: Beside, in expe­rience it is found, that grace exempteth not from error in judgment; for, it is like, that Solomon, if he did not actually commit idolatry himself, yet became too inclinable that way, as we may gather from what is in Scripture recorded concerning him; Neither can we altogether, as to their state, condemn these in Co­rinth, [Page 165] in Galatia, and in other Churches, who were drawn from the Truth after their conversion, as if none but unregenerate professors had been so. Yea, it is possible, if not probable, that some of these, whom the Lord calleth His Servants, and yet were seduced in the Church of Thyatira, were not still in the state of nature.

Assert. 2. Although we dare not altogether say it'sYet not so easily as un­to grosse pra­ctical evils. impossible, yet we think that it is more rare for a Be­liever to fall in grosse errours, and for any conside­rable time to continue therein, so as to be accounted an Heretick, than in other scandalous practices. For, 1. The Scripture doth more rarely mention this, than other sins of Believers, which are more frequently re­corded. 2. There are very special promises for pre­serving of the Elect from being seduced by false christs and false teachers: and though it do not hold univer­sally in all particulars, except in as far as reaches their everlasting state; yet it may be extended in some good measure, even to seduction it self; and we suppose may be more clear from these considerations, 1. Be­coming erroneous in such a manner, doth not proceed from some sudden surprising-fit of tentation, as grosse practices oftentimes may do; but it implieth a deli­beratenesse therein, which is not so readily incident to a Believer, and it cannot so well be called a sin of infirmity; and therefore the Scripture doth ever set out such teachers of false doctrine as most abomi­nable, to wit, as not serving the Lord Christ, but their own bellies, Rom. 16. 18. as being enemies to the crosse of Christ, Phil. 3. 19. as being ministers of Satan, 2 Cor. 11. 15. Other men (as it were) that are unrenewed, are com­mon subjects and servants to the devil; but corrupt teachers they are apostles to him, and prime officers in his kingdom: These titles, and such like, cannot well be applicable to Saints in respect of their infirmities; and therefore, we think, that (at least) it is more rare­ly incident to them, to be carriers on and promoters [Page 166] of corrupt doctrine. 2. It appeareth from this, that an Heretick is said to be self-condemned, Tit. 3. 1 [...]. because ere one can be so denominated, there must be a rejecting of admonitions, which stands not so very well with the nature of a Saint. 3. This conside­ration will also make it evident, that the Scripture speaketh of repentance of, and recovery from corrupt doctrine, as a very rare and uncertain thing, Gal. 4. 10 the Apostle fears he did bestow labour in vain in this businesse; and 2 Tim. 2. 25. the Apostle doth put a peradventure upon this, If peradventure God will give them (to wit, those that oppose themseves) repen­tance unto the acknowledging of the Truth. There is not such a peradventure put to any kind of sin: which sheweth that it must be more difficult to be recovered from it, than from other sins; and that therefore Be­lievers, ordinarily at least, must be in a special man­ner preserved from it. 4. Which doth confirm the former, This delusion is a main spiritual plague; and is often the punishment not of former sins of infirmity, but of not receiving the love of the Truth, and of hypocrisie and proud presumption; and al­though the Lord is not to be limited and bound up from chastening His own with this rod, yet we may say from experience in the Word, and from the na­ture of the plague, and other grounds, It is neither the ordinary spot nor rod of His Children; and if at any time it be, it doth speak out readily much spiri­tuall pride, self seeking, lightnesse, security; wan­tonnesse of spirit, ignorance and conceitednesse joyned with it, want of exercise, or some one thing or other of that kind. And, as we hinted, when they are over­taken,When any believers fal in such evils usually the Lord lingu­larly [...] [...]emsor the same. we will not readily find in Scripture that such are heads to promote and carry on the design of error.

Assert. 3. When a Believer falleth in such an evil, the Lord usually chasteneth him, either with more grosse out-breakings, or with some sharp way of restoring, or with removal under a cloud, without much seen [Page 167] evidence of recovery, as we see in the case of Solomon, who became some way guilty of this ill, of whose re­covery the Scripture is very silent, even though his sin be fully recorded, and the remainders of his idolatry are marked to be standing in the dayes of Hezekiah; and indeed there is but little on record in Scripture of the recovery of those that have been carried so away, though we may judge charitably of some of them in the general: The Lord wisely ordereth this, partly, as a chastening to them, partly, as a warning to others, and to make all men, especially Believers, to fear, and to take heed lest they fall; because, recovery is not so easie, and even they that are spiritual may be tempted, Gallat. 6. 1.

Asser. 4. These that are spreaders of errour, do mostUsually cor­rupt teachers set more up­on professors to withdraw them than others that want profes­sion▪ although such may also be set upon. frequently set upon these who have some profession of Religion, more than upon others who walk not under that name. For, the spreading of grosse errour, although it do not carry away many really godly, nor finally any at all, yet doth it often prove the most searching triall to them, and doth prove exceed­ingly strong and successefull against many unhum­bled Professors.

There are two things comprehended here, 1. That this tentation to errour doth often prevail more among Professours, and doth prove a stumbling to them more than any other grosse practices; they may stand out against these, and yet be prevailed over by it.

2. It comprehendeth this also, that this tentation of errour doth rather attempt the gaining of these that are eminent for profession, than others who have no such name, although such sometimes may be car­ried also away therewith. We see that these Nicolai­tans, and false Apostles, and the prophetesse Ieze­bel, are not teaching nor seducing heathens, but the Church of Christ, and such as he calleth His Ser­vants, Rev. 2. 20. which may take in even such as [Page 168] eminently gave out themselves to be Christs Servants; yea, it is clear, that neither did this errour have such successe amongst heathens, as amongst Christians, nor did the teachers thereof so intend the leaving of them▪ as they did vehemently endeavour the corrupt­ing of the Church; we see it also in other Churches, Was there any Church more shining with gifts▪ than that of Corinth? and yet there did false Apostles breed great distractions and opposition to the Apostle Paul, and that as taking occasion from the giftedness and eminencie of that Church beyond others, to drive on that design. Again, was there any Church that did more tenderly receive the Gospel, than these of Galatia? as we may see from chap. 4. 14 15. They received him as an Angel of God, and as Christ Je­sus, they would have plucked out their own eyes for him; and yet there is no Church so soon shaken and infected by corrupt teachers, and so bewitched with them and their tentations, as we may gather from chap. 1. 6. chap. 3. 1, 2. and throughout the Epistle: It is like the devil took occasion of their warmnesse instantly to set upon them before their setling, more than on other places, or Churches, where such hopeful beginnings did not appear; And thus we see in ex­perience daily, that where profanity aboundeth, there are fewer onsets to tempt to errour, and lesse successe, than where the Gospel hath had more wel­come and fruit; as it were, the devil bendeth this tentation against the last, with more vehemencie and subtilty, than he doth against the former: for which we may give these Reasons, 1. His hatred is most at them▪ and he would fainest have them overturned. 2 Because he hath other baits that are more suitable to profane men: and so long as they are his, he doth not so much seek to engage them by this, for that is no gain to him. 3. Because especially, these who have a form of Religion, if withall weak in know­ledge, are most capable, in some respect, of a tentation [Page 169] to errour; for, profane men, care not (like Gallio) what be truth, and what be errour; but a poor soul that hath some conscience, is ready to debate, and desireth the truth to be cleared, and when not so strong as to rid it self, it is readily drawn away like these silly women Paul speaketh of, 2 Tim. 3. 6 7. who were ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 4. Because grosse ten­tations to profanity (wherewith others are carried away) are not so taking with them, therefore the devil essayeth them with errour, under colour of some truth, or new discovery of some more strict and holy way, which often prevaileth when the other would not. 5. Because it is most advantagious to errour, and make it digest with others, to have one of name or parts, or piety for it, this being ordinary among most men, to look more to these who maintain such a thing, and what such a man thinketh of it, than to the thing it self. Therefore doth the devil drive this as a main design whereby he may prevail over many; this was ever a great mean made use of to in­duce to errour, that many who were accounted god­ly, did imbrace the same, as may appear from the histories of the Novatians, Donatists and others, who called themselves the pure and holy Church of Martyrs, and took other such like titles in opposition to the Or­thodox Church, whom they accounted carnall; and by this mean they did brangle many. 6. He doth this also, that he may divert the exercises of these that look honest like from self-searching repentance, &c. that if he cannot get them engaged to errour, he may bring them, at least, to dispute truth, whereby he essayeth to extinguish the former conviction, or to give it a wrong mould before it be setled; or to keep them, as it were, taken up about the shell, while he intendeth to rob them of the kirnell, and so one way or other, if he gain not all, he doth yet disquiet them, and weary them by wakening of questions [Page 170] and debates, which are without their reach, and possibly also beyond their station.

CHAP. IV. How it is that grosse delusions may come to such height, as they often do.

IT may be also questioned, How it cometh that such absurd errours can come to such a height, and prevail so against the Church? Or, what way the devil by corrupt teachers doth so delude Professors?

There are some reasons that are more generall, and others more particular and usefull in the considerati­on of them for practice; that we may not be igno­rant of the devils devices, we shall insist most in these, all of them may be drawn to three heads. 1. The Lords over-ruling, holy, just and wise (though of­ten secret) way of punishing mens ingratitude. 2. There is something in the devils way of carrying on the tentation. 3. There is something in the di­stemper of Churches and persons to be considered: Which three, being put together, will make it not seem strange that the most grosse and absurd errour prevail. For the first, The Lord hath an over-ruling hand in such a design, which is partly, to try his own, therefore heresies must be, 1 Cor. 11. 19. partly, to punish the generation of ungrate hypocrites, who receive not the love of the truth, as it is, 2 Thess. 2. in both which he is to be glorified, either in his grace, or justice, or both: Now these being the Lords de­signs, the absurder that the errour be, it attaineth his end the better; and appeareth to be the more judicial­like, as by comparing, Isa. 44. 18, 19. and Rom. 1. 21, 25, 28, &c. and 2 Thes. 2. 10, 11, 12. is clear. All which places speak not only of the most grosse spiri­tuall abominations, but of the Lords judiciall hand therein.

[Page 171]If it be asked, What hand the Lord can have inWhat hand the Lord may have in such a plague. such a plague? Or, how He may be said to send it? Answ. It is not so much to our purpose here, to dis­pute the Question of Gods providence in such acti­ons; But for clearing of this reason, we may lay down these grounds,

1. There are spiritual plagues, wherewith God justly punisheth the ingratitude and other sins of peo­ple, aswell as there are external and corporal plagues; these places cited, Isa. 44. 18, 19, Rom. 1. 21. [...]2 Thess. 2.&c: 10, 11. Rev. 7, 8, and 9. Chapters, and almost that whole Book doth confirm this: only this would be adverted, that most ordinarily grosse practices, as adultery, murther, uncleannesse of all sorts, are pu­nishments for abusing the light of nature, as may be gathered from Rom. 1. 21. 25. 28. But to be given up to strong delusion, and to believing of lies, is a plague that ordinarily followes the abuse of the light of the Gospel, as we may see from 2 Thess. 2. 9, 10. and this may be one reason, why more commonly such grosse scandals and practices abound, where the Gospel is not, or at least, is in lesse power, and why errour prevaileth most, where the Gospel hath been, or is with more clearnesse, because they are plagues to such respectively. This, I say, it is most ge­nerally, though it be not alwayes and universally, especially where there are some other concurting rea­sons to make a difference.

2. We say, that the Lord is no lesse just, holy and pure in punishing men with such plagues, than when He maketh use of some other rods or judge­ments, neither is there any thing in this to be attri­buted to Him, that is unbecoming His absolute pu­rity and holinesse. For, 1. He doth not punish any with this plague, but such as have by their former abuse of light and other miscarriages justly deserved the same. 2. He doth not infuse any maliciousnesse in the heart, nor increase what was, but justly permits [Page 172] what is to break out, and overules the same for His just ends. 3. He doth not strain them to any such course, but doth make use of their own willingnesse there­unto, and of their free choosing to follow such a way for the glory of His justice. 4. He doth not con­nive at, nor dispense with the sinfull practice of any instrument, but doth really abhor, and will also se­verely punish the same. So, that as the same act hath a twofold consideration, to wit, [...]s it is sin­full, and as it is penall, So it is diversly to be ascribed, to wit, in the first respect, to man only; and in the last, to Gods overruling providence, who can bring good out of evil, seing there is nothing so evil, but He can bring some good out of it, and make it sub­servient to Him, otherwise He that is Omnipotent and only wise, would never suffer it to be.

3. We say, although the Lord be not, neither can be accessory to this delusion, as it is sinfull, (for this im­possibility belongeth to His infinite and blessed per­fection) yet hath He a just hand in the complexed designe, which doth add exceedingly to the strength of the delusion. As, 1. He may justly give the de­vil way to set on with his tentations, at one time, and on one person, more than at another time, or in re­ference to an other person, as by proportion we may gather from the case of Iob. 2. He may furnish men with gifts that are of themselves good, and justly permit them to use the same, for the promoving of errour; this hath been often exceedingly instrumen­tall, in the furthering of Satans design in all ages, wherein he hath made use of some great Schollers, and men of subtile wits to oppose the truth, and to per­vert the Scriptures of God, as is clear in all the he­resies that ever have been; and this is no lesse just in God, to furnish with parts, an instrument of a spi­rituall plague, than to give strength and power to some whom he imployeth, in temporall judgements, who also may be found guilty before him, for abu­sing [Page 173] of the same. Hence it is said, 2 Thess. 2. 2. that there is not only a word and letter to shake the minds of people at such a time, but there is also a Spirit or gift in an eminent degree, and therefore it is called, ver. 10. All deceivablenesse; and, no question, these that called themselves Apostles, 2 Cor. 11. 13. and made Paul's gifts to be accounted weak in respect of theirs, had more than ordinary gifts; and in this re­spect, sometime the Lord saith, a false Prophet might foretell something that was to come to passe; and so truly have an extraordinary gift, when yet the Lords design is by such, to try the peoples adherence to him, Deut. 13. 1, 2, 3. Thus often promovers of errour may be gifted with ability to reason, make querees, shift arguments and places of Scripture, preach well, pray well with a great deal of eloquence, and liberty of plausible expressions, yea, they may possibly not want, as it were, signs and wonders (as in the place formerly cited) and yet the Lords end be to try, as is said: of this sort are such as are spoken of, 2 Pet. 3. 16. Who wrest or pervert Scripture to their own de­struction; it is a strange word, they are unlearned and unstable, (and, it may be, are crying down learning in others) yet, saith he, they have a dexterity to wrest the Scriptures, to coin new interpretations, possibly never heard of before, to the admiration of others. And what is the consequent thereof? It is their own destruction. It had been advantage to many such themselves and others also, that they had never had such a gift. 3. The Lord also may someway arme the devil, as His executioner to carry on this design, by furnishing him with such instruments, giving him time, opportunities and occasions to tempt, and suf­fering him in many things to prevail: thus, 2 Thes. 2. Satan is said to have a power, and to exercise the same, by bringing forth of lying wonders; and, no question, the devil when he getteth way, may do much, when it is said that he put it in the heart of Iu­das [Page 174] to betray his master, who yet was furnished with parts, and admitted into Christs company by Him­self; all which was subservient to carry on the devils and the Pharisees design, of betraying the Lord; which, notwithstanding, tended to the greater ruine of his own kingdom.

4. In such a case also, the Lord doth justly deprive men, whom He mindeth to plague with that delusion, of these means, which might be usefull to discern and resist the same. As, 1. he may take away all outward restraints, which usually keep corrupt teachers from open and professed spreading of their errours; and in His providence, give them full way to multiply, and avowedly to pursue their design. This is to pluck up the hedge, Isa. 5. and to suffer the winds to blow, Rev. 7. which are ever great inlets to this judgement of delusion, when, to say so, there is a floud spewed out, and there is no earth to help the woman, and to dry up that floud. 2. He may take away prime lights and guides, which are use­full to keep people right; or, if they continue, he may suffer jealousie, division and other things to interveen so, that thereby their weight and authority is lessened to such persons: in which respect, Ahab becometh jealous of Micajah, whereby the devil hath occasion to make the lies of the false Prophets the more to be commended to him. 3. The Lord may withdraw the light that persons have (and, it may be, some com­mon gifts of the Spirit) and by depriving them of that, they become the more obnoxious to tentation, although it may be they think themselves wiser, and more understanding than they were: thus the Apostle calleth the Galatians foolish and bewitched, Gal. 3. 1, 2. as having fallen from that light which at first they had. 4. He may remove common convictions of the Spirit, and challenges of a naturall conscience, so that they may go on in their delusion without a challenge; yea, (as it is said, Ioh. 16. 2.) think that [Page 175] they do God good service in so doing: this is, to have the conscience feared with an hot iron, 1 Tim. 4. 2. that waiteth upon seducing Spirits; and thus we see, that the most vain and reasonlesse confidence doth of­ten wait upon the foulest errours, as, Isa. 44. 9. unto 20. This is called, Gal. 5. 8. a perswasion in respect of its confidence, which yet cometh not of God. And the Lord may not only justly deprive of such common gifts, but even of ordinary reason and judg­ment, whereby men become, at least, in the prose­cution of their errours, absurd and unreasonable, without all capablnesse of seeing the weight of a rea­son, or receiving a conviction, or observing their own folly, and to carry without all respect to credit, honesty, good manners, and such things as are even respected among civil men; yea, sometimes without respect to their own estates, or their own persons, as we may see in the prophets of Baal, 1 King. 18. and many others in Antichrists kingdom; these are called by the Apostle, 2 Thess. 3. 2. unreasonable, or absurd beastly men, as if they wanted reason: this is also a companion of delusion, and a piece of Gods judge­ment, as is clear from that of Isa. 44. The Lord thinking good, for the abuse of light, to deprive men of reason, as he did Nebuchadnezar, whereby the vilest and absurdest tentations have accesse to men, (that otherwayes may be reasonable) to carry them on with greedinesse, and without all reluctance or contradiction.

5. When men are in the Lords justice thus de­prived, and being set upon with the tentation, which he hath letten louse upon them, the Lord may in His providence tryst many things that may be abused, for the carrying on of this judgement, As, 1. he may tryst such a person with such a tentation, to live in such a place, to have such acquaintance, &c. 2. He may tryst such a tentation to fall in such a time, as there is no externall aw-band to restrain; yea, in his [Page 176] wisdom, order it so, as that then there may be many occasions of stumbling among the Professors of the truth, what by scandals in practice, what by divi­sion and other distempers, as the way of truth may be ill spoken of by many; and the Ordinances in that resp [...]ct made vile, as is said in the case of Elie's sons, 1 Sa [...]. 2. Sometime he may tryst such tentati­ons with some ignora [...]t, unskilfull▪ in [...]exterous hands, who may rather [...] than help any in the remov­ing of their doubts: These and many such like things may the wise and just Lord order in His providence, which may be as snares and stumbling-blocks to proud secure hypocrits, who by their corruption may fall thereon; yea, sometime the very Ordinances and the exercising of them, to wit, the Word, Sacra­ments and Discipline, may, through mens corrupti­ons, be stumbled at more than if they were not; in this sense, when the Lord reproveth the unfaithfull Prophets an [...] Priests, Ier. 6, 14. and the peoples not hearkening to his faithfull Prophets, ver. 17. although they keeped the form of Religion, ver. 20. he doth threaten to [...] stumbling-blocks before them, upon which they should fall, ver. 21. All which and ma­ny moe wayes, (as sometimes following of errour hath applause attending it, as, 2 Tim. 4. [...] Some­times it hath gain waiting upon it, as, [...] Pet. 2. 3. 1 Tim. 6. 10. and Gal. 6. 12. Philip. 3. 19) being trvsted in the Lords just providence, have often much influence, through mens corruption, to make delusion the more successefull.

6 Beside these, the Lord hath a judiciall upgiving of proud, corrupt men, u [...]to the ha [...]ds of such ten­tations: so that when as it were, the devil setteth on by such a blast of wind, and seeketh to win [...]ow such and such persons, the Lord doth as a just judge▪ sen­tence them to be committed thereto, as to the execu­tioner of His justice; in this sense, he is said to give them up: and in this respect, such defection, as it is a [Page 177] punishment, is judicially permitted and ordered by Him, who willingly and purposly Sentenceth such persons to be so given up, because of former sins, whereas others whom He doth not so Sentence, are not so carried away with that same tentation.

Also the Lord, who is wonderfull in couns [...]l, and whose wayes and judgements are past finding out, may have many other wonderfull and inconceivable wayes in the carrying on of this judgement; for, if all His judgements be a great depth, much more are His spirituall judgements. It is upon this ground, to wit, the considering of the Lords just severity of con­cluding all under sin, all in unbelief, of the rejecting of the Jews▪ &c. that the Apostle doth cry out▪ O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements, and his wayes past finding out? Therefore we shall search no further in this. Only, from what is said, we may see, that the Lord hath a just hand in the over ruling of such delusions; and also, that they cannot but be strong and successefull which are guided so, as to be executioners of His justice; this also may make men tremble the more, considering that the opening up of sl [...]ces, to let in the spait of delusion, is no lesse Gods judgement, and no lesse to be feared, than the sending of Sword or Pestilence, or the opening up the foun­tains of the great depths, to let in a deluge upon the earth; and were men so looking on it, and affected with it, it might possibly be much more bounded.

CHAP. V. How errour may be known to be a judiciall stroke. and why the Lord smiteth with it.

IT may be asked here, 1. How errour may be known to be a judgement or judiciall? And, 2. for what cause most ordinarily the Lord doth send such a judgment?

[Page 178]We cannot insist in every occurring Question; Yet to the first, We say, 1. there is no errour or de­lusion, but may be well accounted penall and judici­all, either as to the persons who fall therein, and vent the same, or as to others who may be infected therewith, (although it may be but a triall in refe­rence to some) for, blindnesse of mind was a fruit and cons [...]quent of the fi [...]st sin, and followeth not only as a sin, but as a punishment upon all the chil­dren of Adams house. And therefore as in some re­spect, all following sins may be accounted punish­ments of the first, this may be so in a speciall man­ner. 2. Beside this generall consideration, it is of­ten the punishment of some speciall sins, and in some cases is more judiciall and penall than in other cases, as may be gathered from these Characters. 1. When in the nature of it, it is very absurd and unreasonable, as is said, such as these delusions of the Nicolaitans were, because in such delusions the judgement of God doth especially appear, when they cannot be thought to be consequent in any reasonable way, or, to flow from common infirmity. 2. When the persons that vent it, are, in respect of their conversation, parts, place or profession, someway eminent, as was for­merly cleared, because so the tentation seemeth to be armed of the Lord, which usually is not for nought. 3. When it is trysted with such a time and with such circumstances as hath been described; for, such things happen not by chance, but are ruled by providence. 4. When it breaketh in violently, and, it may be, carrieth away some whom men would not have sus­pected, that is judiciall-like, when, as it were, the Dragon with his tail and subtility, doth bring stars from heaven, and surprise some that thought them­selves without the reach of such a tentation. 5. It may be known by the gifts (to speak so) of such as carry on the same; for, as in carrying on the work of the Gospel, the Lord doth furnish His Ministers, with [Page 179] gifts and painfulness, when He hath to do with them; So upon the contrary, when He hath a work of judg­ment on the wheels, and the devil a design of carry­ing-on delusion, the instruments are fitted propor­tionably, to wit, there is a zeal carrying them here and there, So that by all means, as it were, they compasse sea and land to make Proselytes; there is dexterity, quicknesse and nimblnesse in starting of doubts, wresting of Scripture, &c. as is said; and there is a sort of patience in enduring, boldnesse and confidence in attempting, and some successe, as in the case of the false Prophets against Micajah, 1 King. 22. and against Ieremiah, Ier▪ 29. When, I say, cor­rupt instruments are fitted by these and such like means, it is probable, that the Lord intendeth some­thing by them which they themselves do not minde. 6. It is judiciall-like, when it trysteth on the back of a peoples having the truth, and being unfruitfull under it, because, so it speaketh out the very end of its appearing, especially, if there be in people an itching-new-fanglnesse after novelties, and if there have been needless and affected stirings and question­ings about lesser truths, If then greater delusion come, it doth look judiciall-like, as being a stroke for their former unsettlednesse; this is to give men up to heap up teachers to themselves, that have itching ears, 2 Tim. 4. 3. and this is, to give men teachers accord­ing to their own hearts, that there may be like people like priests, which is often threatned by the Lord. And thus of old, when the people began to miscarry in the wildernesse, in reference to the second Com­mand, He gave them up to worship the hoast of hea­ven, and to miscarry in the first, as is mentioned, Acts 7. 41. 7. It appeareth to be judiciall indeed when it doth hurt, either by corrupting of truth, or ma [...]ing of unity, or wakening of divisions, &c. which a [...]e consequents of the first four trumpets that bring spiritual plagues, Rev. 8. These and such like chara­cters [Page 180] may sufficiently convince that the Lord is angry.

To the second we may soon answer: And, 1. weWhat causes do most or­dinarily pro­cure this plague of delusion. say, that such a plague is not the consequent of com­mon out-breakings and sins of infirmity; Nor, 2. of ingratitude for, and abuse of, common mercies; Nor, 3. ordinarily is it the punish­ment of grosse sins of the flesh, to speak so; for, this is rather a fruit of that: but it doth follow upon, 1. the abuse of sprituall mercies, such as the light of the truth of the Gospel, sleighted convictions, smothered challenges, broken promises made for fur­ther Reformation, and such like, as may be gathered from 2 Thess. 2. 9, 10. 2. It followeth upon spiritu­all sins, such as spirituall pride, security, hypocrisie and formality, keeping up of the form without the power, having truth but not the love thereof, as in the place formerly cited, and elsewhere. 3. There are some sort of distempers, which especially procure this, beside others. As, 1. an itching humour, that beginneth to loath the simplicity of truth. 2. A ha­stie partial humour that cannot abide sound Doctrine, if it be not someway curiously drest, especially if it reprove their miscarriages: both which are spoken of, 2 Tim. 4. 3. 3. There is a proud self-conceitednesse, whereof the Apostle speaketh, 2 Tim. 3, 4. when persons are selfie, proud, boasters, &c. such are a ready prey to such tentations. 4. Little respect to faithfull Ministers that preach truth, may procure this plague, to get Pastors according to their own heart, and judgements that are not good, as the Lord threat­neth, Ezek. 20. and is threatned by the Lord, Ioh. 5. ver. 43. I have come in my Fathers Name, and ye have not received me; if another shall come in his own name, him will ye receive. 5. It may be procured by lightnesse and unstablnesse, when folks goe vainly beyond their reach to seek or meet a tentation, the Lord justly may smite them with their own sin; and thus reading of corrupt books, hearing of corrupt preachers, con­versing [Page 181] with corrupt men, and such like, which the Lord hath cōmanded to eschew, doth not only prove, in Gods righteous judgement, a snare or mids of folks insnaring, but also the procuring deserving cause of being given up to that delusion, which they make themselves obnoxious to, by going without His call, although, at first, possibly there was no positive affecti­on to that way, but, it may be, the contrary; even as suppose one hazarding, contrary to the Command, to go nigh the door of the adulterous womans house, should for that cause be given up to fall in her snare and to enter, although at first he did not intend it, as these places do insinuate, Prov. 5. 8. and 6. 26, 27, 28. where he saith, to this purpose, that a man cannot take fire in his bosome and not be burnt, &c. And it is said, Prov. 22. 14. such as are abhorred of the Lord, shall fall in that pit. 6. There is a jangling questioning strain; this often brings on this ill, when all truths are not received, but folks begin to cast at the lesser truths; this procureth delusion in a greater height, as is said, because every truth is precious, and when men become untender in the smallest truths, (if any may be called so) it is just with God to de­prive them of all, even as smaller sins in practice, being connived at, do bring on more grosse outbreak­ings: and thus the visible Church, by her declining from the truth, in the Primitive times, and becoming more to be taken up with Ceremonies and other un­necessary debates, did draw on upon themselves An­tichrists delusion at length: of this sort are ignorance in the fundamentall truths, that doth proceed from negligence, little love to, and delight in, the Word and Ordinances, little bemoaning of the falls and miscarriages of others, when we hear them to be overtaken with such snares; and many such like things might be named, but we will not insist further.

We come then to the second thing proposed, and that is to consider how corrupt Teachers do carry on [Page 182] their design; and what means the devil useth by them to prevail with poor souls, for to cast at the truths of God, and to drink up the most absurd delusions: and although we cannot reach Satans depths, he ha­ving much subtiltie, and many wiles, to carry on his designe, as it is, 2 Cor. 11. 3. and it is called, Eph. 4. 14. a cunning craftinesse, whereby they lye in wait to deceive, Yet seing we ought not to be ignorant of his devices, 2 Cor. 2. 11. We shall gather somethings from Scripture, that may be usefull to arm us against the same: and to take up his way the better, we may consider, 1. The instruments which he chooseth. 2. The method that he keepeth in tempting by them. 3. The means which he useth, or common places from which he draweth his arguments. 4. The man­ner how these are carryed on.

CHAP. VI. By what means, and how Satan drives on this plague among people.

1. SAtan doth not act in this design immediately, nor doth he act indifferently by any instru­ment, but he hath his special ministers, as it were, set apart for that end, as the Apostle speaketh 2 Cor. 11. 15. He hath many subjects indeed, but be­side these, he hath some special ministers for this de­signe, as our blessed Lord Jesus hath Ministers spe­cially set apart in His Kingdom. Concerning which we may observe, 1. That he employeth some more eminently to traffique, as it were, in this very imploy­ment, who, by compassing sea and land, and travelling to and fro, may further his designe, such were these who were called false Apostles, 2 Cor. 11. 13. Revel. 2, 3. and in the history of the Acts we will find such coming from one place to another, as from Ierusalem to Antioch, Act, 15. and elsewhere, purposly to spread their errours, as the Apostles did travel for preaching the truth. 2. He hath particular instruments, preach­ing [Page 183] in particular places, that are, as it were, his mini­sters of such and such bounds, as in the place cited. 3. Beside these, he hath stickling underhand-dealers, who, not appearing openly, yet creep into houses; and ordinarily he hath some women, who are specially employed in this, as he hath Iezebel the Prophetesse in the Church of Thyatira, Rev. 2. and such he had in the primitive heresies, particularly one of the Mon­tanists, because such are often vehement in what they are engaged in, and have accesse to pervert and se­duce, which others cannot easily have; his assisting of them withall to speak sometimes to the admirati­on of others, seemeth more wonderful like. 4. Whom ever he maketh use of, they are someway fitted (to say so) for the designs they are employed in, although their manner of carrying on these designes may be diverse, as experience showeth.

2. In the method which he followeth, we willWhat is his method of proceed­ing. find this progresse, 1. He setteth himself by all means to make the Ministers of the truth odious and contemptible, and that either by crying down a Mi­nistery altogether, or making all indifferently to be Ministers, which is, upon the matter, one with the former: this was Korah, Dathan, and Abirams fault, Numb. 16. which is applied to corrupt teachers, Iude 11. or if that fail, he endeavoureth to make their persons odious, who are in the station: thus we see, even Paul is traduced by the false teachers of Corinth and Galatia. The reason of this, is, 1. because Mi­nisters are appointed, and gifts are given to men by Jesus Christ, purposely to guard the Church from be­ing tossed to and fro with corrupt Doctrine, by the sleight of men, as it is Ephes. 4. 11, 12, 13, 14. that he may therefore have the more easily his will, he endeavoureth to bring the Watchmen in suspicion, and to render them uselesse. 2. Teachers of the truth, and corrupt teachers cannot both together have peoples affection, and no teacher readily will have [Page 184] weight, if he have not affection from his hearers: Therefore he by all means endeavours to traduce Mi­nisters that by excluding them, he may make way for his Emissaries, for they are like [...] wooers [...] the same Bride, So that both cannot have her affection, to this purpose is the Apostles word, Gal. 4. [...]7. they zealously affect you, but not well, yea, they [...] exclude you; it is in the Originall, and on the M [...]rgent, they would exclude us, (that is, the true Apostles) that you might affect them. And consider­ing the great accesse that the devil hath to destroy, when once Ministers are in contempt, it is no mar­vell he begin at the removall of this impediment out of his way; and s [...]ing he attempted this against the great Apostl [...] Paul, so often and frequently, it can­not be thought strange that he seek to defame others.

If it be enquired how he prosecuteth this? WeHow [...]e [...] [...]. may observe these particular wayes; As, 1. Al­though he question not a Ministery in the general, Yet he wakeneth Questions, 1. concerning the calling of such and such men, if they be duly called Mini­sters or not; thus Paul's Apostleship is questioned, b [...]cause he had not conversed with the Lord; and for thi [...] cause he is put, in the Epistles to the Corinthians and Galatians, so largely to vindicate his Calling and Apostleship, and to produce, as it were, not only his Commission, but the Seal thereof also, particularly, 2 Cor 3. 2, 3. and the occasion thereof is expressed, 2 Cor. 13. 3. since [...]e seek a proof of Christ speaking in me▪ 2. He endeavoureth the discrediting of their gifts, as if the m [...]tter spoken by them were common, their expressions mean, and their carriage base and contemptible, as we may see in the instance of that s [...]me great Apostle Paul, 2 Cor. 10. 1. and 11. 6, he is called [...]ude in spe [...]ch. 3. This is especially by com­paring them with the fair shew of corrupt teachers in their flourishing, spiritual, ravishi [...]g▪ like discour­s [...]s, which are by many [...] mysteries, and are [Page 185] called depths, Revel. 2. 24. The Lord indeed calleth them depths of Satan, but it is not to be thought that they themselves meaned so, who yet are said to give them the name of depths; sometimes unconceivable non-sense, will be admired, and plain truths and duty despised. 4. They cry-up their revelations and spi­ritual attainments in an immediate manner beyond what is in the Ministers of Christ: Therefore, 2 Cor. 11. 12. Paul is put to compare himself with them, and particularly in revelations and singular manifestati­ons of God to him. 5. They endeavour to make the Ministers of Christ to be esteemed covetous, self-seek­ers, earthly-minded, and such like, because of their taking wages to preach the [...]ospel, as if they were making a prey of the people, which is often objected to the Apostle, and answered by him in these Ep [...]stles to the Corinthians. 6. When evidences fail, then they raise suspicions of Ministers craftinesse and under­hand dealing, as if in every thing they were seeking their gain, as that Apostle answereth it, 2 Cor. 12. 16▪ 17. 7. Whatever the Ministers carriage be, they lie in wait to traduce it, if he be more meek and fa­miliar in his conversing, they say he is a carnal man, a friend and lover of sinners and corrupt men, as was said of our blessed Lord; if he be more aust [...]re in checking their faults or retired in shunning their com­pany, he is called intolerable and devilishly proud, as was imputed to Iohn; if he take wages or gifts, he is accounted greedy and covetous; if he refuse and ab­stain, it is expounded to be want of love and respect to them, as was also said of Paul when he continued firm in his former resolution, 2 Cor. 11. 10▪ 11. 8. They are usually counted proud, exalters of themselves above, and despisers of, the people, and to take too much on them to the prejudice of the Flock, whose liberty and priviledges corrupt teachers ordinarily pretend to vindicate against Ministers tyrannous encroachments (as they say) This was pretended by Korah, Dathan, [Page 186] and Abiram against Aaron, and was revived and fol­lowed in the primitive times by these corupters, spoken of, Iude 11. 9. They endeavour to have the people suspecting the Ministers love to them, as 2 Cor. 11. 11. yea, that all his freedom to them, and his speaking against their faults and errours is bitternesse, railing, and the like, which the Apostle toucheth, Gal. 4. 16. Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? 10. It is ordinary to charge Ministers with lightnesse and changeablnesse, and that therefore much weight is not to be laid on them, for, they think one thing this year, (say they) and alter the next, when yet, it may be, edification hath moved them in such a change; this hath been imputed to Paul, 2 Cor. 1. 17. purposedly to make his word to have little weight, and it is no marvell that that same way be followed in reference to others. For this end also, where there is any personal fault in a Minister, it is not past over but exceedingly aggreaged; yea, though it hath been in his youth, before his conversion or entry into the Minist [...]ry, it is not forgotten, if it may serve to defame the holy Calling: For preventing of this, it is re­quired of Ministers, that they be of good report, even among those that are without; and it is like the false apostles spaired not to upbraid Paul with his former conversation and persecution. 11. Differences of judgement and divisions among Ministers, are much made use of for that end, even sometimes when they are but apparent: Thus Paul is said to preach another doctrine, by the false teachers, than those at Ierusa­lem did, whereupon he is often put to show the har­mony that was betwixt them, as particularly in the Epistle to the Galatians; And Iosephus marketh, that Ahab's false teachers did oppose Elias his Prophecy (wherein it is said that dogs should lick Ahab's bloud at Iezreel) to Micajah, who said he should die at Ra­moth ▪ gilead; Also, that others did harden Zedekia, by this that Ezekiel said, that he should not see Babylon, and [Page 187] that Ieremiah said he should be carried thereto; which they took to be contrary, and did thereby seek to defame the Prophets, and to weaken the esteem of their Prophecies; and though there was no real dif­ference there, yet it sheweth how, and to what end, they lie in wait to aggreage the differences of God's Servants, though but apparent, which should make Ministers carefully avoid those things. Again, se­condly, Though, at first, principal truths are not alto­gether and plainly denied, Yet by degrees he doth engage many, 1. To reject some lesse fundamentall truths concerning Government, communion with others in the Ordinances, and such like. 2. He draweth them to separate in practice from the fellow­ship of others, under the pretext of more purity and spiritualnesse; this seems to be exprest by Iude, v. 19. These are they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit, although it is insinuated that they did pretend to it: And indeed this way was followed in the first heresies, which began at small things, as those of the Novatians, Donatists, &c. who at first only separated to eschew the impurity of promiscuous communion. 3. He cometh then to quarrel expressi­ons that are used by the Orthodox, and to commend, as it were, a new kind of language; for which cause, the Apostle commendeth the holding fast the form of sound words, 2 Tim. 1. 13. And these corrupt teachers are said to speak great swelling words of vanity, and to have expressions much more weighty like, than what formerly hath been used, Iude 16. Thus the Arians will not admit the word [...], or consubstantial, and a Council must be called to lay by that: and so they come to question, in the next place, the Truth it self, alleaging men are too confident to determine such things, It's not clear, much may be said against it, and such like; whereby, under pretext of doubting, they endeavour to a wake scruples in others, that they may be disposed the more to admit of their resolu­tions. [Page 188] 4. Absurdities are laid down as consequences that follow upon Truths▪ and thus the doctrine of Providence▪ Election and Reprobation, &c. are loa­ded with horrible consequences and absurdities, pre­tended to follow on them, [...] so the do [...]trine of Gods absolute Soveraignity, [...] Justification by free grace, were loaded in the [...] times, as if thereby Paul had taught that men might do evil that good might come of it; That the Law was wholly made void; That men might sin securely, because grace did so much the more abound, as in the second, third, and sixth Chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, is clear. 5. He endeavoureth to diminish mens hatted and zeal against errours and the most absurd opinions, that he may either obtain some actual toleration to them, or, at least, keep off such hard constructions of them; for, if that be gained at first, although errour get not a direct approbation, yet a great point is gained, if he can get some to tolerate, and others to hear: This is condemned in the Church of Thyatira, that the Of­ficers suffered Iezebel to teach, and that the people, who are there called Christ's servants, did counte­nance and hear her; And it seems something of this was in Corinth, which maketh the Apostle say, that evil communication corrupteth good manners, and that therefore men should not become cold in reference to errour, although they be not tainted with it, 1 Cor. 15, 33. And upon this ground the most grosse Here­ticks of old and of late, as Socinians, Arminians, those of the Family of Love, and others of that kind, have maintained a liberty in prophesying a problematick­nesse in the main truths of the Gospel, and a tolera­tion in matters of doctrine, &c. as principles sub­servient to their design. 6. He proceedeth then to have the persons of such as are tainted with errour, much beloved and esteemed of by others, that there may be the more familiar accesse to converse with them, and the readier disposition to receive their lea­ven [Page 189] from them: this he doth sometimes by making mens gifts in their quicknesse and nimblnesse to be commended, sometimes by the seeming gravity, au­sterity and holinesse of their carriage, for which cause they are said to be wolves in sheeps cloathing, Mat. 7. and he is said to transform himself into an angel of light, and his ministers into the ministers of Christ, 2 Cor. 11. 14. Sometimes by flattery, and seeming sympathy and affection, for which the lying Pro­phet is called the tail; and if it were by no other mean, he doth it by their reproaching of honest and faithfull Ministers, and, it may be, hitting upon some real ills among them, which is often but too too pleasing to the carnall humour of the generality of people, as in the instances formerly given is clear. Lastly, when this is obtained, then there is easie ac­cesse to make the most grosse Doctrines and delusions to be drunken in, which at first would have been ab­horred: by these degrees Antichrists delusion came to its height, and by such steps, some, that at first only separated from the Novatians and Donatists, came at last to that height of delusion, as to become Circum­cellians (a strange wild kind of delusion) Anthro­pomorphits, and such like.

3. The means and arguments that are used to carryThe means and argu­ments that are used to carry on this design. on this delusion, are to be observed, which are these or such like. 1. The carriage and conversation of the abetters thereof, is made very plausible, fair and approveable-like, that there may be no suspicion of the devils influence on such a work; Therefore they are said to be transformed into the Ministers of Christ; thus the Pharisees make long prayers, live austere­ly, &c. thereby to gain reputation to their traditions: for, the devil would mar all his design, if he did not look like an Angel of light: yea, there will be much seeming like zeal, patience and suffering in such, as may be gathered from 2 Cor. 11. 23. and in experience it will be found, that the most grosse Hereticks in do­ctrine, [Page 190] have had (at least for a long time) a great shew of holinesse before others, as might be instanced in the greatest deluders.

2. It is usefull in this design, to have some that have Church-power, and beareth the name of Offi­cers, engaged, that they may come in, not under the name of Ministers of Satan, but as it is, 2 Cor. 11. 23. as Ministers of Christ; and therefore, if no or­dinary call can be alleged by them, they readily dis­claime all such, and yet pretend a calling to be Preachers of Christ, of his Gospel, and such like: as we may see by these false teachers of old, who cal­led themselves Apostles and Prophetesses, as having some extraordinary call from God, thereby making way for their delusions.

3. They follow their designs under a pretext of ad­vancing holinesse and spirituality, to a higher degree, and of having a more humble way of living, and of being a further length in high attainments, than other men can win at, or are capable of: thus some are outwardly despisers of all pride, and of giving respect to men, and that as the Apostle saith, Col. 2. 18. by a sort of voluntary humility, and intruding upon things which they have not seen, casting, in the mean time, at common and plain truths.

A 4. mean, is, the pleasing of ears and itching humours, with great swelling words, new notions, and large discourses of non-sense▪ delivered with great confidence, when as the Apostle saith, 1 Tim. 1. 7. They know not what they say, nor whereof they affirm, yet often such discourses are sublime myste­ries to the ignorant, and such as loath the simple truth.

5. They make use of a pretext of good will and advantage to these that they speak unto, as it is, Rom. 16. 18. by good words and fair speaches they deceive the simple, and by pretending to wish their souls well, and to pity their blindnesse and hazard they are in, they creep into their houses and affecti­ons, [Page 191] 2 Tim. 3. 6. and lead simple persons captive; By this pretext, the serpent beguiled Eve at the first, promising some advantage by hearkening to him, and this way is followed by corrupt teachers still, as it is, 2 Cor. 11. 3.

6. Sometimes there is much more pretended strict­nesse, especially in outward things: thus some of old added the observation of Moses Law to the Gospel, as if that were a more perfect and strict way, and upon this ground have so many traditions been brought in into the Church.

7. There is a pretending to more Christian liber­ty and freedom from the bondage of Ordinances of whatever sort, so as men must not be tyed to hear preachings, keep Sabbaths, Pray, Praise and such like, which are (say they) but formes and burthens to Saints, and unbecoming that freedom and spiri­tualnesse that grown Believers should have. Thus such deceivers and these that are deceived with them, are said to promise liberty to whomsoever they pro­pose their delusions, while in the mean time all of them are made servants to corruption.

8. There is great pretending to know Christs mind, and confident alleaging of the writings of His Apostles, and that in a seeming convincing way: Thus, 2. Thess. 2. 2. there are mentioned Spirit, Word and Letter, as proceeding from Paul, whenas he himself is disclaiming such interpretations as they did put on him.

9. They use to alleage the authority of men, and to oppose such to these who oppose their errours: thus the Pharisees alleaged Moses, and the Nicolaitans Nicolas; and it is like, the false apostles that came from Ierusalem, did oppose other Apostles authority to Pauls, as if they had preached nothing but what they preached in Ierusalem; and very often the in­firmities of some great men, are stumbled upon, and made arguments against truth.

[Page 192]10. Many are stirred up to vent queries and capti­tious questions, (as often the Pharisees did, by send­ing their emissaries to Christ) that some advantage may be gotten that way, and these that are for truth entangled.

11. Sometimes he maketh use of humane reason, and cryeth down every thing that seemeth not con­sonant to it: upon which ground the resurrection was denied by the Sadduces, and some of the Corinthi­ans, 1 Cor. 15. and the most fundamentall truths of the Gospel, are by the Socinians and others unto this day. Sometimes again, all use of reason, learning or prudence is disclaimed; in which respect, such men are called unreasonable, 2 Thes. 3. and bruit beasts, 2 Pet. 2. and Iude, 10.

12. They endeavour by all means to carry the fa­vour of the civil Magistrates, and to have Ministers especially such as are zealous against them, made hatefull and suspected unto them, and the gaining of this hath a double advantage with it to their cause, as it strengtheneth it, and weakeneth the truth: this we see the false Prophets did of old, 1 King. 22. Ier. 26. Amos 7. 10. and so endeavoured the Scribes and Pha­risees to engage the Romans against Christ, and against His Apostles; So also did the Arrians and other Hereticks, and so hath Antichrists emissaries ever endeavoured to stir up civil Magistrates against faithfull Ministers, as most hatefull persons: This they carry on by such like means. 1. They pretend to give the Magistrates more submission, and charge faithfull Ministers with sleighting of their authority, for they know this to be a thing well pleasing to Ma­gistrates: Thus the faithfuln [...]sse of honest Ministers is accounted disobedience and hatred, and the lying flattery of such is given out for re [...]pect and obedi­ence, so was it in the case of Mica [...]ah. 2. They cry out upon faithfull Ministers, as factious and turners of the world upside-down, sowers of sedition, as, [Page 193] Acts 24. 5. troublers of the peace, who do keep the people in a continuall stir, and crosse their designs, and mar the absolutenesse of M [...]gistracy; So, Elijah is counted an enemy to Ahab, and a troubler of Israel. 3. They vent many groundlesse calumnies against them, as if they were guilty of many grosse evils; Thus Athanasius and many others were charged by the Arians, as murderers and adulterers, and some preten­ded proofs made thereof: Yea, it was alleaged to Con­stantine, that Athanasius had medled with civil matters (which was derogatory to his authority) by inhibi­ting all Corns to be exported from Egypt. 4. They bring the Magistrates in tops with them, by appel­lations from Church-judicatories to them, and seem­ing to plead an absolutenesse to Magistrates in things Ecclesiastick; Thus Hereticks in all times have shel­tered themselves under this pretext, till Magistrates declared against them, and then they cast them off al­so, as of late in the practices of the Socinians and Ar­minians hath been made out. 5. They represent them to Magistrates as unsufferable, in respect of their plain threatnings, and that such are not to be endured so to affront Authority, and to weaken these that professe so much to respect the same; thus Amos is re­presented, chap, 7. 10. by Am [...]ziah Priest of Bethel, and often Ieremiah is so by the false Prophets in his time. 6. They propose faithfull Ministers as unwar­rantably arrogating a kind of infallibility to them­selves, and thereby derogating from all others; so is that word, 1 King. 22. What way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to you? and by a certain audacious confidence, seek, as it were, to put out faithfull Mini­sters as despicable men, not worthy to be cre [...]ited, as in the case cited; and Ier. 28. and elsewhere, and often by such means their insinuations and flatteries do exceedingly prevail for promoving their designs. Augustine chargeth the Donatists with this, that in their application to Iulian, they used this phrase, quoniam [Page 194] apud [...]e solum justitia habet locum: and this was (saith he) when they knew he was an apostat, Epist. 48.

The last thing in this, is the manner how this designThe manner how this de­sign is carri­ed-on. is carried on by such corrupt teachers, which is not alway the same in all, and may in part be collected from what is said; Yet we may name these particu­lars. 1. It is covertly and subtilly done, therefore they creep in with insinuations, looking far otherwise than they are. 2. It is done hypocritically▪ 1 Tim. 4. They speak lies in hypocrisie, and do pretend both to be Religious and friends to Religion and Truth, while they do so. 3. It is done somtimes vehemently, as it were knocking with force at hearts, So it shaketh the hearer by the bignesse of words, peremptorinesse of threatnings, confidence of Assertions, and vehemency in the manner, so that it hath (as the Scripture saith) a strength and power with it, and therefore is com­pared to a spait or flood, Rev. 12. and is called strong delusion, 2 Thess. 2. 4. This is done with all dili­gence, compassing sea and land, leaving no mean un­essayed. And, 5. with a kind of seeming simplicity, zeal and singlnesse, and with many professions there­of, as may be gathered from the instances formerly given; and from Gal. 4. 17. where it is said, they zealously affect you, but not well, and from Rom. 10. 2. 6. This is done with great boldnesse, which appeareth, 1. In pretending to eschew no suffering, or to fear no hazard that may follow on their opinion, if it were to give their body to be brunt, and, it may be, doing much in this. 2. It may be stuck to by them at their sicknesse, even in their death beds, as it is not unlike it was with Iezebel and some of her followers, Rev. 2. 21, 22. for, neither is the devil silenced, nor corruptions removed by sicknesse or death. 3. It appeareth in confident undertaking to dispute with any; yea, oftentimes seeking occasion of that: Thus the Libertines arise and dispute with Stephen, Acts 6. and it is like, the false teachers of [Page 195] Corinth, that said of Paul, [...] Cor. 10▪ 10. that his bo­dily presence was weak and his speach contemptible, would not have declined to have disputed even with him. 4. It kythes in their confident t [...]usting to their own judgements, and their undervaluing of all others. 5. It appeareth in confident as [...]erting of any thing, and not only in the reproaching of any private per­son, but of Officers and Ordinances, 2 Pet. 2. 10. they are not af [...]raid to speak evil of dignities.

By these considerations, we may in part see howWhat acces­sion a people may have to the bringing of this plague upon them­selves. delusion cometh to such strength and height, in respect of these who carry on this corrupt doctrine. We come now to consider a thi [...]d thing, to wit, What accession is from the peoples side for the promoving thereof, which we may draw to these three. 1. There is something sinfull in a peoples former carriage whereby delusion is exceedingly strengthened against them, when it cometh as a just plague for former [...]iscarriages; But of those sins we have already spoken.

2. A peoples present temper, or rather di [...]temper, may have much influence on this, and exceedingly dispose them for, and cast them open to, the tenta­tion. As, first, lightnesse of mind, unsettlednesse in the truth; these the Scripture calleth unstable souls, 2 Pet. 2. 14. 2. There is an itching new-fangle humour, desirous of some new thing, and loathing simple Doctrine, as it is, 2 Tim. 4. 3. 3. There is too great facility in believing the spirits, without try­ing of them, which its like hath been in Galatia, whereby they were soon drawn away to another Gospel, and to credit some insinuaters foolishly▪ as, chap. 1. 6. and 3. 1. 4. A secure carnall frame, wanting exercise of conscience, is dangerous So are also proud presumptuous persons▪ (that have an high esteem of themselves, and such as are self-willed, who are mentioned, 2 Pet. 2. 10.) in great hazard of this: The tentation will also sometimes take advantage of [Page 196] some persons who are jumbled in mind, and under some weight and heavinesse, and come in under pre­text of remedying the same; many such distempers there are, whereof some may be gathered from what is said of the sinfull causes that procure this, be­cause that which doth meritoriously deserve to be so punished, proveth often also a disposing mids for re­ceiving of the tentation; But we forbear.

3. People often by their carriage do promove this plague of delusion upon themselves, casting them­selves in the snare, 1. By needlesse familiar con­versing with such persons. 2. Going to hear them. 3. Purchasing or reading their books. 4. Hazard­ing to entertain their doubts, and to prosecute their arguments and questions, to plead for their opinions, and such like, shunning withall of such means and wayes as might recover them, and entertaining pre­judice at such as would aim thereat, and such like, whereby that of the Prophet is verified. The prophets teach lies, and my people love to have it so. Now, if all these be put together, can it be thought strange to see the great [...]st delusion prevail? We have been the longer on these, not only for the confirming of that truth, but for drawing together in some short view, a little map, as it were, of these wayes, whereby the devil driveth on his design by the cunning craft of these that lye in wait to deceive.

CHAP. VII. What is called-for as duty in such a case.

IT resteth now that we should consider what is du­ty in such a time, or case, when delusion in lesse or more doth prevail, or is very like to prevail? It cannot be denied, but that something is called­for, and is necessary where the danger is so great; and also it is evident, that something more than ordi­nary [Page 197] is necessary, because the ill is more than ordinary. The remedy therefore must be proportionable and timous; for, a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump, Gal. 5. [...]. And experience proveth, that such ills do fret and corrupt, as doth a gangrene, 2 Tim. 2. 17. The difficulty is in determining what is to be done, where­in, not only the piety, zeal and conscience of men will have exercise, but also their prudence and parts.

The loosing of this question will relate to three ranks of men. 1. To Church-officers, especially to Ministers. 2. To Magistrates. 3. To people in private stations. Yet before we positively say any thing, We shall, 1. show what is not the remedy called-for. 2. We shall shew what is called-for, but is not sufficient. 3. What seemeth to be called-for as sufficient.

As to the first▪ There are two extremities to be shunned, which we shall lay down in two Asser­tions.

Assert. 1. An absolute and unlimitted forbearanceWhat is not the proper remedy or duty in such a case. and toleration of all errours, and of the promoters thereof, is not the due remedy that is called-for in such a time, in reference to such evils. This, I sup­pose is clear, if there were no more in Scripture than what is comprehended in these Epistles, Rev. 2. and 3. For, 1. the Angel of Ephesus is commended, chap. 2. 2. that he could not bear or endure them that were evil, to wit, the false Apostles: This enduring then cannot be the duty, seing Christ commendeth the contrary. 2. He doth reprove Pergamos, ver. 14. because they had such amongst them that held the do­ctrine of Balaam, that is, because they suffered them. And, 3. this is clearly expressed in the Epistle to Thyati [...]a, ver. 20▪ I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Iezebel to teach and seduce My servants. There can be nothing more clear than this; and it is the more observable, that this not-forbearing is commended in Ephesus, where [Page 198] things in their own particular condition are not al­together right; and the other Churches are reproved for neglect of this, even when their own particular conditions are right. Which sheweth, That the Lord loveth zeal against such scandals, and abhor­reth forbearance of them. What was formerly said in the Doctrine, What is clear in the practice of Scripture, both in examples and commands that are given therein in reference to this, and what may be further said in the positive part of this direction, will clear this.

And whatever humane prudence and carnal faint­ing would suggest concerning such a way, as that it were fittest to deal with persons, in such a distemper, no otherwayes than absolutely to forbear them, at least, so far as relateth to th [...]se distempers as such; yet it is clear, this is not Gods Ordinance so to do, nor the remedy that is by Him appointed: And therefore there is no promise by which we may expect a bles­sing to it, although sometimes the Lord, who is ab­solu [...]ely Soveraign, may condescend without any means, to dry up and bound a floud of errour, even when men are guilty of forbearing: The effect is not to be attributed to mens sinfull forbearance, but to Gods gracious condescendence.

Assert. 2. We say on the other hand, That an in­different,Extreams to he [...]s chewed. rigid, equal pursuing, or not enduring of every thing that is an errour, or of every person who may be in some measure tainted, is not the suitable remedy or duty that is called-for in reference to such a case. For, as neither all errours, nor all persons are alike, So neither is the same way at all times to be followed, because, what may be edifying in one case, may be destructive in another. And as there­fore there is prudent difference to be made, in refe­rence to scandals in practice, and persons in respect of different scandals, yea, even of different tempers are div [...]rsly to be dealt with, So is it also to be here. [Page 199] Men are to walk, as they may most probably attain the great end, edification, which ought to be the scope in this, as in all other Ordinances: And therefore there can be no peremptory rule concluded, that will meet all cases and persons, as hath been said: We see even the Apostles putting difference between per­sons and scandals, according to the severall cases; for, sometimes they Excommunicate, as in the in­stance of Hymeneus and Phyletus, sometimes they in­struct doctrinally, as Paul doth the Church-mem­bers of Corinth and Galatia; others he threateneth, and yet doth not actually Sentence them, as he doth false teachers in these Churches: Sometimes again, no particular Apostle alone, doth decide the question (although doctrinally they might) but there is a Sy­nod called judicially and authoritatively, to decide the same, as, Act. 15.

The reason of the 1. is, because these errours of Hymeneus and Phyletus, were of themselves grosse, de­stroying the faith, and obstinately and blasphemous­ly adhered to. 2. He instructeth and expostulateth with the people of Corinth, and proceedeth not to the highest Censure, 1. Because they were not seducers, but were seduced by others. 2. They could not be accounted obstinate, but might be thought to have sinned of infirmity, Therefore more gentle and soft means are to be applied for reclaiming of them. 3. They were a numerous body, and therefore Ex­communication or cutting off, could not be expected to attain its end. 4. They were in a present distemper, questioning the Apostles authority; he seeketh rather therefore to be again acknowledged by them, that so both his word and his rod might have weight, where­as if he had smitten in their distemper, they had ra­ther broken off further from their subjection. These are clear, beside what may be said of the nature of the scandal or errour.

3. He threatneth the corrupt teachers with off­cutting, [Page 200] because they were leaders and seducers, and so deserved to be more severely dealt with, than those that were seduced by them, although, possibly, as drunk with these same errours: Yet, though he threa­ten, He doth spare for a time to strike, not out of any respect to those corrupt teachers, or from any con­nivance at their errour, but out of respect to the poor seduced people, for whose edification Paul forbare, even when the weapons were in readinesse to avenge all disobedience; he abstained, I say, because such people having a prejudice at him, and being be­witched by these teachers, might more readily in that distemper have cleaved unto them, and have for­saken Paul, which would have proven more destru­ctive to them; he seeketh therefore, first, to have their obedience manifested, and so not only forbeareth them, but even those corrupt teachers, for a time, for the peoples edifying, as may be gathered from 2 Cor. 10. 6. and chap. 12. v. 19.

Lastly, I said, Sometimes Synods or Councils are called, as in that place, Act. 15. which in other cases we find not, 1. Because then that errour was new, and it's like wanted not its own respect from many of the Church, Therefore a Council of Officers joy­ned together to decide it, which is not necessary again, after that decision is past; but Ministers are doctrinally and by discipline to maintain the same, as we see Paul doth maintain, in the Epistles to the Ro­mans and Galatians, the conclusion of the former Sy­nod. 2. This Synod is conveened not for want of light (for, any of the Apostles, as such, were infal­libly inspired to decide in the same, and had in their preachings decided it) but it is to make it have the more weight with others, and therein to be a pre­cedent to us. 3. That was a spreading errour, which did not affect one place only, but many Churches; and it's like that many Believers were in hazard to be shaken therewith: Therefore the most weighty [Page 201] remedy is called-for. 4. There was need now, not only of light to decide the doctrinal things, but there was also need of directions for helping folks how to carry in reference to such times, so as to eschew the snare of errour on the one hand, and of giving offence upon the other, as we may see by the decrees of that Synod: Therefore in such cases, not only would men severally endeavour the duty of their stations, but they would joyntly concur and meet judicially, or extrajudicially, as occasion calleth, to deliberate and consult in these things of so great and common con­cernment: for, seing the Church is one city, and one lump, a little fire may hazard all, and a little leaven corrupt all, and unwatchfulnesse at one part, or post, may let in enemies to destroy all. It is needfull there­fore, that in some cases there be mutual concurrence, although it be not necessary at all times to have a judicial meeting, nor at any time is a present duty to be suspended by any person, if no such meeting can be had. What is said, doth demonstrat that there is a difference to be made in reference to errours, per­sons and cases.

CHAP. VIII. When some errours are to be forborn.

IF it should be enquired, how this difference is to be made? or, how it may be known when with­out guilt there may be some forbearance, and when not? Answ. This is indeed difficult, and we will not undertake in particulars either to be satis­fying or peremptory; yet we supose the considering of these generall Distinctions will be helpfull, and theSome neces­sary an [...] use­full distin­ctions. application of them necessary, in this case. 1. We would distinguish betwixt some errours and scan­dals and others, and that both in respect of their grosnesse and evidence: for, some errours are, as Peter [Page 202] calleth them, 2 Pet. 2. 1, 2. pernicious and damnable, as striking against the special Truths of the Word of God, or inferring grosse practices with them, as this of the Nicolaitans did, and hazarding the souls of the maintainers of them, not as other sins of infirmity, but in respect of the principles which they imply; and of this sort are many both errours and practices. Again, Other things may be errours, that are contrary to Truth, but not destructive unto, nor altogether in­consistent with, the foundation, but such a thing, as possibly many true Saints may be taken with, and yet have accesse to God and may enter Heaven, although they should die in that opinion; of which sort are many things that are debated amongst orthodox Di­vines; and indeed there is nothing but it hath a truth or a falshood in it, yet are not all of equal necessity and weight. Of the first sort was that errour, which the false apostles endeavoured to bring-in, that is, the adding of the practice of the ceremonial Law to Christ in justification, and the mixing-in of works moral and ceremonial therein, as from the Epistle to the Romans and Galatians may be gathered. Of the se­cond kind, was the debate for meats and other things, mentioned, Rom. 14. and in the Epistles to the Corin­thians. Of the first, we say, there ought to be no tole­rance, Therefore the Lord doth here reprove it; and in the Epistles to the Romans and Corinthians, Paul doth plainly and powerfully refute them and reprove them, even when it was exceeding ill taken, and they were ready to count him an enemy, because he told them the truth, Gal. 4. Yet will he not forbear, because a little leaven of that sort will leaven the whole lump, and hazard the making of his labour among them to be in vain.

Of the second sort, we say, That there is a mode­ration called-for in it, and Ministers are not alwayes called either doctrinally, or by Discipline, judicially to reprove or censure them: I will not say but some­times [Page 203] it may be meet to discover the least errour, and it may be by circumstances so aggreged, that it may be needfull judicially to take notice of it, as when it's involved with offence and ready to breed Schism or Scandal, or in such like cases (in which respect there are some things mentioned in the decree, Act. 15. which are not very material in themselves, as the eating of things strangled) yet, we say, it is not simply and al­wayes necessary for Ministers to presse at the con­vincing of all who maintain something different from truth, or which is supposed to be so by them, if [...]it be of things extra-fundamental, or, which have not di­rect or palpable influence upon the violating of faith, or corrupting of manners, much lesse to censure for the maintaining of it. For, it is not of such that these Epistles speak: And we see, Rom. 14. and in the Epistles to the Corinthians, in the debate about meats and eating of things sacrificed to idols, and such like, wherein though there was still a right side and a wrong, yet doth he rather presse the forbearing of these debates, than the dipping into them, not astrict­ing men alwayes to follow this or that, providing it be done without breach of unity and charity. Hence it is▪ that although there be somethings he will give no forbearance unto, but authoritatively and mini­sterially he decideth in them, yet in the same Epistles there is something amongst the Saints that he seek­eth rather to heal, and to obtain mutuall forbearance in, than peremptorily to decide. See Rom. 14. 1 Cor. 8. 2, 3, &c. Phil. 2. 3.

2. There are some truths and practices evident, which by the light of the Word may be solidly de­monstrated to an impartiall and unbyassed searcher; and some contrary errours and scandals, that are at the first obvious (and, it may be, even to a naturall conscience) to be such, so that although men would use tergiversations, and say as Hymeneus and Phyletus did, 2 Tim. 2. 17. that there were no resurrection to [Page 204] come, because the Scripture speaketh of a spirituall resurrection, which in the Believer is passed already. And although many deluded persons, who will not admit of distinctions according to reason, in such a case, may be drawn away with them, and adhere still to them; yet are the things demonstrable to these that are even but of ordinary reach, by sound grounds from the Scripture, and that convincingly: Other things, again, may be truths, and there may be to some persons a possibility of reaching them by many consequences from Scripture, yet are they not so clear to many; whereupon it is, that men, yea, even learned and godly men, do differ in their apprehensions of several truths, the Lord so thinking good to bridle mens humours and to let us see the necessity of humi­lity and sobernesse, and this may be in the meanest­like things; these the Apostle, Rom. 14. 1. calleth doubtfull disputations, as being things wherein too ma­ny, at least there is not such evidence attainable as to stay the minds of ordinary people, or to refute the contrary assertions of any adversary▪ of which are Genealogies, and other things that Paul mentioneth to Timothy, 1 Tim. 1. 4. and calleth them endlesse, be­cause there is no setled ground to rest on, but one question doth generate another; and so the principle that must be laid down for clearing such a thing to one, is also disputable to another as the thing it self is, and men know but in part, even those that are emi­nent, so that an universal harmony in these cannot well be expected: In reference to this, we say, That greater peremptorinesse is required in the first sort than in the second▪ wherein, by reason of the practice of the Apostles in Scripture, yea, and of necessity there is a forbearance requisit, Yet we would beware of partiality in accounting truths, either evident or disputable, as men (according as they are judged) are too apt to do; it is better therefore to try these by the common account that the Godly and Learned have [Page 205] had in all times of such truthes, if there hath been still difference, and yet moderation in these differences; Nor would this be tryed onely by an age or time (wherein a point may be more agitate than at another time) but more generally, especially when the argu­ments on either side want that evidence that the reasons brought for other truths have, and are so ful­ly set down in Scripture, That amongst godly and learned men in all ages there hath been a generall consent.

Again, 3. We would distinguish betwixt errours and the consequents of them, or practices following there­upon; there may be somethings truly errours that may and should be forborn in themselves, yet their conse­quents ought not to be forborn, and this also may be at one time, and in one Church more necessary to be adverted to, than in another, because consequents of schism, faction, division, &c. may sometimes follow on the meanest errours. And seing these are alwayes enemies to edification, even when they arise from the least ground, they are never absolutly to be for­born; for▪ to say, I am of Paul, and I am of Apollos, and for one to think such a man a better Preacher than an other, seemeth to be no great matter; yet when it be­ginneth to rent them, and to make factions in Corinth, it is not to be forborn, but to be reproved: And in the former difference of meats, the Apostle condem­neth alwayes the offence and Schism that followed on it, although he did not peremptorily decide any thing as to mens practices, or censure for the opinion it self: thus one might think the first day of the week not to be Iure Divino, and this might possibly be forborn, But if he were pressing the change of it, and refusing to observe it, or venting it to offend others, that were intolerable; thus the differences and errours con­cerning Church-government by Bishops, and in the Congregational way, may, we conceive, in themselves be forborn in persons where they are not vented to the [Page 206] shaking and drawing away of others; but if pressed in practice, to the renting of a Church, and pre­ferred or equalled to the true Government that is established by the Word, in that case they are not to be forborn, because then truth is to be vindicated, and obstructions to edification in the renting or di­stracting of a Church to be removed, and at on time more than at another, as such an offence doth waken a Schism, and disturb order and Union in one Church or at one time more than another: hence we see, Acts 15. somethings are put in that decree in reference to that time, only for preventing of Schism and Scandal, while the doctrine of the abolition of the ceremoniall Law was not so clear; And somethings were for­born amongst the Gentiles, which were not so amongst the Jews for a time, as circumcision and all the ce­remonies of the Law, which yet for a time the Jews observed; and experience and reason make the thing clear, according to that of Paul, To the Iews I became as a Iew▪ and I became all things to all men, &c. which is not to show his counterfeiting, or his dallying in any necessary thing, but the squa [...]ing of his practice in lawfull things according to the several cases of these he had to do with, which will be applicable both to persons and Churches.

4. We would distinguish betwixt things, and per­sons, Sometimes it will be meet to censure a fault or errour in persons, as Paul doth in the Corinthians and Galatians, and yet it not be fit to censure the persons; he doth indeed threaten these, but doth forbear▪ least thereby he should have hurt moe by a subsequent and following rent, than by his stroak he had cured. So also are persons to be distinguished, some whereof only erre, but others teach others so; and in that re­spect are Hereticks and Schismaticks▪ which, had that been their own opinion only, could not have been imputed to them; these last cannot plead that for­bearance that ought to be had towards the former. [Page 207] Also distinction is to be made in the manner of for­bearance; it is one thing to forbear simply and altoge­ther one that is infected with errour and spreadeth it, it is another thing to for bear, in some respect, to wit▪ of censure only, or it may be in respect of degree, some­thing may be more gently censured, and yet not alto­gether forborn; and one may Ministerially reprove a fault and person by the key of Doctrine, in apply­ing of it, when yet he may forbear the exercise of Discipline and Censure, as in the forecited place, Paul is reproving false teachers in Corinth, yet sparing the rod for a time; and so, wishing that some were cut off in Galatia, yet not doing it; and this is not so much respect to the persons of these teachers, as to the Church and to the multitude of their followers, whom hasty Censures might rather have stumbled than edified, which is the great end of that and of all other Ordinances: Therefore seeketh he first to re­cover them, and again, to bring them back to the ac­knowledgement of his authority, and thereupon to exercise the weapons that he had in readinesse for the avenging all disobedience, when their obedience is made manifest▪ 2 Cor. 10. 6. which he would not do before that, lest they (being addicted to these teach­ers) had sided with them against his authority, and so it had been both more hurtfull to them and to the Church than edifying, by which alone he is swayed. These and other such considerations being had, Mi­nisters by christian prudence, are to gather when to be silent, and when to speak, when to Censure, and when to forbear; but by all means, are ever to be watchfull, lest the grounds that plead for forbearance sometimes for the Churches edification upon the one side, be not stretched out so broad, as to foster our lukewarm temper, coldnesse, and fainting cowardli­nesse in the things of God; and there is much need to try from what that moderation doth flow, and whe­ther even then the heart be hot with holy indignation [Page 208] against these; Even as on the other side, true zeal would be guided towards the scope of edification, lest that duty of exercising Discipline, which is ac­ceptable to God, and usefull to the Church, be re­jected of him, because proceeding from our own spi­rits, and prove more hurtfull than edifying in the ef­fects thereof; Some few instances whereof have given some occasion of speaking evil of this Ordi­nance of Jesus Christ, to these who at all times ly in wait, to catch at what may be wrested to the reproach thereof. But to conclude this, without insisting on particulars, there must be a single, impartial and prudentiall walking, so as may attain edification, and as men may be answerable to Jesus Christ in their trust, having an eye to these things that most contri­bute to edification.

But, 1. if what is vented be blasphemous, and de­stroyethSome things not at all to be forborn. the foundations of faith, that comes not with­in this debate, as in Paul's dealing with Hymeneus and Alexander, 1 Tim. 1. 20. is clear; for zeal for the Maje­sty of God, and love to the salvation of souls (which is the substance of the two great commandements of the Law) will admit of no forbearing in such a case. 2. If it corrupteth or defaceth the Church, and mak­eth her a reproach to the profane, it is not to be for­born. 3. If the things become not the Ordinances of Christ, but reflect on them, and consequently on Him whose Ordinances they are, they are not to be connived at. 4. If such things hazard the publick beauty, order and government of the Church, with­out which there is no keeping up the face of a visible Church, these are not to be over-looked. 5. If they mar the union and love that ought to be in the Church (which is to be preserved, and every thing that may mar it, removed) they ought not to be tole­rated. 6. If they turn to be offensive and scanda­lous, either by making the wayes of the Lord to be ill spoken of, 2 Pet. 2. 2. or by grieving the godly, [Page 209] or by infecting others; they are not the object of for­bearance, except some circumstance concur, as hath been said, in which case it cannot properly be called forbearance: By these and other things, this may be tried, when an errour is to be forborn and when not, in which, consideration is to be had, both of the nature of the errour, and of the person that doth hold it, as also of the case of the Church and people, who may be edified or hurt by the forbearing or Censur­ing of such a person.

What is needfull, but not sufficient, will appear when we come to consider what is called-for; for, what is lesse than what is required, must be defective and not sufficient: as it is requisite that men not only keep themselves free, but also that by admonition and exhortation, means be used to reclaim these that have fallen; yet these are not sufficient if there be no pub­lick mean, yea, though there were publick authorita­tive preaching and exercising of the key of Doctrine, yet that is not sufficient, if there be not also censur­ing by discipline, and an exercise of the key of Iuris­diction; and in some cases every censure will not be sufficient, if it be not extended to the utmost, for Christ hath not given that key for nought to His Church, in reference to all her scandals, nor are men exonered till they reach themselves to the uttermost in their sta­tions, but this will appear more afterward.

CHAP. IX. What is called-for from Church-officers in the case of spreading errour.

WE begin now to speak particularly to the Church-officers duty, and what is called-for from them, especially from Ministers, which we may consider in a fourfold respect. 1. There is some­thing called-for from the Minister in reference to God. 2, In reference to himself. 3. In reference to the Flock [Page 210] and people who are not tainted, but, it may be, un­der the tentation. 4. In reference to these that are in the snare, especially the promotters of these evils.

The first two are interwoven almost, Therefore we shall speak of them together: and we say,

1. When such a tentation setteth on upon a people,What a Mi­nister is cal­led to, in re­ference [...]o God and himself, at such a time. and beginneth to infect or hazard the infection of a particular Flock, or of many together, (for, the ha­zard of one, is the hazard of many in such a case, as is said) the Minister would look first to God as the great over-ruler, even of these things that are evil in the Churches; and he would consider if things be in good case betwixt God and him, especially in respect of his Ministery; for, such an infection in a Flock is a prime stroak upon a Minister, because the spread­ing thereof threatneth the unchurching of that Church and blasting of his Ministery, as, Rev. 2. is threatned against the Angel of Ephesus, and it never cometh but it hath with it a spirit and spait of bitternesse against, and many crosses, faintings and vexations unto, the Minister; he is therefore soberly and composedly to look to God as his party, and is not to think, that such things come by guesse, and spring out of the dust, nor from the corruptions of some giddie people only, but that there is a higher hand; without this there can be no right use made of such a dispensation; and this is it that should humble the Minister and make him serious, lest by the peoples sin, God may be smiting him: Paul hath this word when he speaketh of the Schisms and contentious debates that were in Corinth, 2 Cor. 12. 20, 21, I fear, saith he, lest when I come, my God will humble me amongst you, he did so construct of their miscarrying, as making for this humiliation: yet it is to be adverted, that it is not the Minister or Flock that the Lord is most displeased with, that al­wayes is so assaulted and shaken, although it be ever matter of humiliation.

2. When the Minister is composed to take up Gods [Page 211] hand in the matter, then is he not only to look to Him for direction and guiding in his duty, and without fretting to reverence His dispensation, but he is to re­flect upon himself, and to consider his bygone car­riage, especially in his Ministery, if he may not be chargeable before God with some sinfull influence upon his peoples distempers and miscarriages. And particularly, he is to look to these four, 1. If he be in good terms with God, in reference to his own par­ticular state and condition, and if there was that due tendernesse and watchfulnesse at the time of the out­breaking of such an ill: I grant it may be that things were right, as in the case of Iob, Iob 3. 26. yet it becometh him to try; for, such a thing may be trysted with security and negligence, that thereby he may be awakned to see his former defects. 2. A Minister would then reflect on his clearnesse to that calling, and particularly to such a charge; and though to both he may be called by God, yet it is his part to try, that he may meet the reproaches with the greater confi­dence, as we see Paul doth in the Epistles often men­tioned; for, in such a case a Minister will be put to it, and who knoweth but possibly expectation of ease, quiet accommodation or credit in such a place, and tractablnesse in such a people, and such like, might have had weight with a good man to sway him to one place more than another? and by such a dispen­sation the Lord doth chasten that, to learn Ministers at their entry to be swayed alone with the Churches edification. But, 3. to come nearer, a Minister would try if he hath any sinfull meritorious influence (to speak so) in procuring that stroak to the people, to be given up to these delusions; for, it is certain, a Minister may be smitten in some stroak of this kind upon his people, as is clear from that threatning to the Angel of Ephesus, Rev. 2. even as a Magistrate may be smitten by a stroak that is immediately upon his people, as we see in Davids case, who thus pro­cured [Page 212] the Pestilence, 2 Sam. 24. because, first, the people themselvs are not guiltless, so that there is no injustice. And. 2. Because there is a great sibnesse betwixt Mi­nister and people, so that a rod upon one, doth indeed prove a rod to both: he would therefore try if possi­bly he hath been somewhat proud or vain of his au­thority, or respect amongst them, of their knowledge, orderly carriage, or dependance on the Ordinances, especially if he have any way affected such a thing, and hath withall sleighted the trying of their spiritual estate, and bettering of it, or if he hath been neglective to pray for them, and for their stability in the truth; if he hath been defective to warn or to keep up the au­thority of the Ordinances, and of a Ministery among them; if he hath been too familiar and triviall in his carriage with them, and such like; also, if he hath been affected with zeal for Gods honour, when other Congregations have been infected, if he hath sym­pathized with such Ministers, and born burthen with others in such cases; or, if on the contrary, he hath been carelesse, or, it may be, puffed up because himself was free: these and such like sins would be searched, because their is a Justice, and, if I may say, a con­gruity in Justice, in punishing such sins with such a rod; for its often when the husband men are sleep­ing that the enemy doth sow such tares. 4. He would try if he hath had any sinfull influence on such evils, as if he hath not been full and diligent in grounding them in the fundamentall truths, and clearing to them the Doctrines of the Gospel, as well as preaching duties, cases, and such like, or if he hath needlesly fostered curiosity in starting any questions, or in gi­ving people way to follow them, if he hath made a sport of some errours publickly or privately, if he hath laughen at, or lightly spoken of, the errours and mis­carriages of others, before them, if he hath not been faithfull to admonish and reprove the first gadings, or if he hath fed the people with empty notions and [Page 213] wind, and builded hay and stubble upon the foun­dation, and hath not seriously discovered to them their guiltinesse, and hath not put them to the exercise of Repentance for their corrupt inclinations, thereby to presse humility, fear, watchfulnesse, diligence, &c. that so their hand might be filled with a more solid work, and Christ by them imployed to preserve them, even from this tentation. These, I say, and such like, would be tryed, because where they are, the Minister wants not accession to their sin, as if in some respect he had combined with these seducers.

3. When this is done, the Minister would be af­fected with his own guilt, and then his sympathy with the peoples condition will be the more lively; and he would, first, endeavour the recovery of himself, and his restoring to good tearms with God through Christ Jesus. 2. As he would confesse his own faults, so also the faults of the people; and as he would pray for pardon for himself, so would he do for them, who, it may be, do reproach and curse him, yet would he not cease to pray for them, having that word fresh under such a stroak, As for these sheep, Lord, what have they done? 3. There would be special dealing with God, and dependence on Him for fitnesse rightly to manage such a case; for, the charge becomes more heavie: God therefore should be acknowledged for obtaining suitable furniture, even in reference to that particular: And Ministers would know, that it is not their abilities, gifts, nor parts that can do this; and if we cannot speak profitably to one that is not in such a distemper, what can we do where the person is so prejudged and distempered, if the Lord do it not? Ministers therefore would [...] reference to every word, unto such persons, in a [...]ly fear and jealousie, lest, lippening to themselves, they mar the Master's work, and stumble a poor soul rather than edifie the same. 4. He would aim seriously not only at ex­oneration, but at edification; and for that cause would [Page 214] begin, by dealing with God for successe, and that either the Lord would immediatly Himself convince or blesse His furniture to him for that end; yea, He would be blyth if any mean were provided and bles­sed, though in another hand than his own.

4. The Minister would now use ordinary means for fitting of himself to discover such errours as his people are guilty of, that he may be able solidly to convince them that are stumbled, and to establish others that stand; and pains would be taken in this, aswell as for preaching, or in the studying of com­mon heads at the passing of tryals, which is but a proof of the man's gifts in a more remote reference to such a case, which now is specially to be put in exer­cise; Therefore he would, first, endeavour to be through in the wole body of Divinity and grounds of Christian Religion; for, there is such a connexion among truths, that when one is wronged, many are wronged, and one errour may overturn many foun­dations: And if a Minister have not some generall impression of the whole, he cannot with confidence search in, or undertake the refutation of, any one par­ticular errour: Neither ought a Minister, who pos­sibly for a time hath forborn studies of that kind, think it unbecoming him again to return to them, seing it is duty, and there is no shame to be learning what may fit one for his duty; And who knoweth but among other ends, this may be intended, that Mi­nisters may be put to more constant study and search in the fundamentall truths of the Gospel? 2. He would then, like a wise Physician▪ endeavour to know the malady that hath infected and distempered his people, what are the errours they maintain, what are the arguments that [...]ave weight with them, what are the tentations they have had, or who are the tempters or instruments that have seduced them, and such like; What also is their natural humour, hasty or meek, proud or humble; What hath been their [Page 215] former way of walking, what are their parts and abilities, with whom they converse, who hath weight with them, or are esteemed by them, that by these and such like means he may be in better capacity to know how to apply the remedie, and to deal with them himself, or to make use of others for that end. 3. He would endeavour the furnishing of himself, especially in reference to these errours beyond others which they are tainted with, and for this cause would provide fit Books, converse with others that are able to help him, and gather his own observations from Scripture and other grounds, that through Gods blessing upon his labours he may be able to speak of these things confidently as to himself, and convin­cingly as to others. It is to be observed, that the for­mer order laid down, doth not require a succession in time, in reference to the several steps (for, in some cases a Minister will be instantly put to what is be­yond all these, and to deal by some other means) but it sheweth the order of nature, and what way is to be followed according as there is accesse and op­portunity.

Further, It is necessary for Ministers, at such aUnion a­mongst Mi­nesters and their flocks, is in such a case careful­ly to be s [...]u­died. time especially, to endeavour union among themselves and amongst the people of their flocks; for, often­times division and delusion are trysted together, whereby the deluders are exceedingly strengthened, Truth, and the Ministers thereof, made exceedingly contemptible and put in an incapacity to edifie, or have weight, till that be removed. Therefore we see, that in the Churches of Corinth, Galatia and Philippi, where Seducers were driving their designs, and divi­sion had taken great footing, the Apostle hath a spe­cial regard to the recovering of their union at such a time: We may read it also in the Life of Basilius the great Antagonist of the Arians, who, being by some division with Eusebius, then Bishop of Cesaria, neces­sitated to withdraw for the Churches peace, Where­upon [Page 216] Valence the Arian Emperour, and other Arians, thought that a fit opportunity to vent their errour in Cesaria, which they could not succesfully do, while union continued there. To disappoint this design, Gregory Nazianzen advised his return and uniting with Eusebius, as the only mean to prevent the growth of that heresie amongst the people, which being ac­cordingly done, and both of them forgetting their particular discontents for the publick good, the Church was so established, and the errour so opposed, that the forenamed enterprisers were constrained to give over their design upon that union.

In the third place, We come to consider a Mini­stersWhat is his duty in re­ference to his flock. duty in reference to the flock in generall (and certainly by proportion it may be gathered what se­riousnesse, gravity and diligence ought to be amongst Ruling-elders in their concurring with him in such a case, who are also to joyn with him according to to their places in the former search and triall of their carriage, and in fitting of themselves for being use­full in such a time) for, it cannot be denied, but some­what peculiar is called-for from the Minister, in re­ference to his Ministery in common amongst the people, more than is called-for at another time. As, 1. he is to be in respect of all Christian qualificati­ons in his carriage and all ministeriall duties in his charge, singularly serious and eminently exemplary, because it is now a main and prime thing to have a testimony of sincerity, faithfulnesse and love to the peoples edification in their own consciences; and this cannot be obtained at such a time without the former. For, in experience we see that declining to errour, and falling from esteem of the Minister, go together: and where this is preserved, either the fall is prevented, or there is the greater accesse to recover the person that is fallen. Ministers therefore would especially study that, as a main mean of the peoples edification. And for that cause, would observe, 1. If [Page 217] any thing hath escaped them in their way, which might have given offence, and would by all means endeavour to remove it. 2. If any thing hath been unjustly imputed to them, they would condescend to clear it. 3. They would take notice of what parti­culars they use to be charged with, though, it may be, unjustly, or what usually Ministers are charged with by the corrupt men of the world, as pride, cove­ [...]ousnesse, self-seeking, hypocrisie and the like; and at such a time, Ministers would not only eschew these evils, but also the very appearance of them, which is a part of Paul's becoming all things to all, that he might gain and save some, 1 Cor. 9. And, in a word, a Minister would so carry in that time, as every look, word, action, gesture, yea, as every thing lesse or more in his Ministery, in his family, diet, cloaths, and such like, may abide the triall of the most narrow and watchfull observers, yea, of one that is a more high and narrow observer than they.

2. There are some things wherein particularly he would insist and seek to have born in upon the people. As, 1. to have them sensible of the evil of errour, and of the hazard that cometh by it, also of the devils subtilty and craft in carrying on of such a businesse. 2. To have them instructed and cleared in the truths of the Gospel, especially in such things as are controverted, that the errours and consequents following thereon, may be made as obviously clear and hatefull as may be. 3 This would be done so as they be not diverted from practice in the main du­ties of godlinesse by any speculation; but, searching, up-stirring and materiall Doctrines, with power­full and convincing applications of all kinds, would be in a speciall manner pressed then, as we see in these directions to Timothy and Titus is clear: where, upon the one side, the taking head to fables and vain janglings is dehorted from, and convincing, exhort­ing▪ [Page 218] reproving with all authority, pressing of good works, and exercising to godlinesse, are, on the other side exhorted unto. 4. People would be pressed by all means, to eschew snares and the company of se­ducers, which was both our Lords practice, and the practice of His Apostles. There is no duty more frequently pressed than that: It is true, this is some­times mistaken by people, yet it is the duty of Mini­sters to presse it; yea, they are charged to charge others in reference to this, as in the 1. to Tim. 4. 11. and 6. 13. being compared with the directions that are given in these Epistles. 5. It may be it were not unmeet in such a time, that something were done in writ, for clearing of these things which are especially contro­verted, and that some in particular might be designed for this part of the work: for, often seducers spread their errours by writ, as we may in see in Ier. 29. 25. And sometimes there will be accesse to instruct and edifie by writ, when it cannot be done by word, yea, so, some persons may have objections moved and answered to them, before they be confirmed in such and such opinions, which possibly they would have thought shame to move till they had settled in them; and so have been in a greater prejudice against the truth, and in a greater incapacity to be gained from them; and we see, that the Apostles used this way unto Churches and People, to confute materiall er­rours in writ, and so also to confirm the truth against all cavils of adversaries, even as they did it by word of mouth and preaching.

3. In all this, the Minister would take good heed to his manner of proceeding, that it be grave, weighty, serious, loving, and in every thing such as may con­vince the people, 1. Of his own seriousnesse, and being much affected with such a businesse, There­fore light and mocking expressions would be shun­ned, but the Minister would be affectionate and se­rious, like one travelling in birth, while Christ be [Page 219] formed in them again, as Paul speaketh, Gal. 4. 19. 2. To convince them of the evil of the thing, and for that cause would so carry, as he may make errour also hatefull and loathsome to the people, as any scandalous practice whatsoever; for which cause Ministers would rather endeavour to stir the peoples zeal against such evils, by grave, convincing, affe­ctionate expressions regrates or expostulations, than to move their laughter with triviall mock [...] or taunts, in reference to such principles or persons; for, (as holy Master Greenham used to say) that doth but make sin ridiculous, when it ought to be made hatefull. 3. He would endeavour to convince them of his singlenesse in seeking of their good, and of love to them, and pitty to these that are misled; for which cause any thing that may make him be supposed to resent personall reproaches or indignities, or aim at upholding of his own credit, or to vent bitternesse against the persons of others, would be carefully ab­stained from: for, these things derogate much from the weight of what a Minister can do; and we see the great Apostle Paul, doth not stick to condescend in such cases to vindicate himself from such mistakes, and to use great expressions of love, yea, sometimes to attest God as to the sincerity of his professions, and such like, which are frequent in the Epistles to the Corinthians and Galatians, which may be an example to Ministers in such ca [...]es. 4. Their whole carriage would be affectionate, even to the persons of opposers; for, nothing prejudgeth more, than for a Ministe [...] to be thought carnall and passionate, whereas tender dealing and usage to persons and to their outward estates, doth prove as coals of fire to soften them, as in experience is found; however its becoming of a Mi­nister; yet it is to be done without marring zeal and indignation against their errours, and without pre­judice to his seeking to censure them for these, or his restraining them from venting of the same.

[Page 220]It is here to be adverted, 1. That what was spoken of the manner of a Ministers carriage in reference to practical scandals, and of his duty in a time when offences abound, is also to be remembred here and in what followeth. 2. That what is spoken of Mi­nisters duty, will by proportion agree to Ruling-Elders according to their stations; for, they should no lesse endeavour the preventing and suppressing of corrupt doctrine than of other scandalous practices, and they especially are to endeavour to have the means used by the Minister, made weighty amongst the people; and for that end, are to endeavour to have himself weighty also.

We come now to the fourth step of a MinistersWhat is a Minister's duty in refe­rence to those that are se­duced. duty, and that is, as it relateth to those that are tainted with errour, (we mean grosse errours and delusions, such as this discourse runneth upon) We may con­sider it in these four steps, as it relateth, 1. to disco­very, or tryal, 2. to conviction, 3. to admonition, 4. to rejection.

For the first, as the Apostle saith of men in general, 1 Tim. 5. 24. Some mens sins are open before hand, going before to judgment, and some mens follow af­ter: So here, sometimes errour discovereth it self, and there is no need of search; yet sometimes also there will be many secret objections moved and harboured against truths, which will not be avowed, though they be privately muttered; yea, sometimes corrupt teachers will endeavour the vailing and hiding of their tenets, or errours, by many shifts, even when they are studying to leaven others with their delu­sions. There is therefore a necessity in such a case, 1. to try what opinions are held and vented, and to discover the absurdnesse and grossnesse of them; for, many will maintain the premisses ignorantly, who will not know that such absurd conclusions do fol­low thereupon; It is fit therefore to lay by the names and expressions used by seducers, and to expresse the [Page 221] thing as it is, especially if it be the reviving of some old absurdity under some new coat and pretext; Thus the Lord doth discover the abomination of the Nicolaitans doctrine, by comparing it unto, and evi­dencing it to be, upon the mater, indeed one and the same with the practices of Balaam and Iezebel, Rev. 2. 14. 15, and 20. This way is also followed by Peter, 2 Epist. 2. and by Iude, who compared corrupt teachers to Balaam, Korah, Dathan, &c. thereby to take the vi [...]orn off old newly revived errours, that they may appear as they are; for, often errour is commended to people under some new representation, and many will love it so represented, who yet will abhor former errours, which are still the same, though under another name, which are two tricks of the de­vils subtility, 1. To make old errour passe under the opinion and construction of some new light. And, 2. for that end to disguise it in some circum­stances, and to change its name: And indeed, it is no little piece of spirituall dexterity to remove that mask. Secondly, There is a discovery to be made of the persons who hanker after such opinions, that it may be found who are infected thereby; This would be done to reclaim the persons, and to cure that distemper, before it break out, or come to a height; for, it is more easie often to cure one at the beginning than afterward: also, when it becometh publick, it hath with it some kind of engagement on the person, and he is more hardly recovered, lest he should seem thereby to appear weak, erroneous, unstable, or such like. Beside, it is more gaining-like when the Mi­nister privately findeth them out, and endeavoureth to recover them secretly, before any publick notice be taken thereof, and often hath more successe with it, than after debats, as seemeth to be held forth in that place, Gal. 2. 2. where Paul saith, that he com­municated with them of reputation, the Gospel, first, privately, lest by any means he should have run in [Page 222] vain. Therefore we conceive, persons suspect of er­rour, would not hastily be brought to publick, but in some respect, the publicknesse of their offence, would be, as it were, dissembled, or not positively so publickly taken notice of, that thereby there may be the fairer accesse for them to retreat. 3. If there be any retreat, the person would be waited upon▪ al­though at first it be not fully satisfying, and all due care and diligence would be used to have his former errour buried, as if it had never been, without any publick hearing, except some extraordinary circum­stance perswade to another way. For, (besides the reasons given) errour becometh not readily a publick scandal, except there be tenaciousnesse therein, or some actuall stumbling-block laid before others thereby, which often the persons reclaiming, will remove more than their censuring. Therefore, upon supposi­tion of a persons recovery, there is no great fear of hazard in abstaining from bringing such a thing to publick, except he hath been instrumentall to seduce others, or in some such case which doth make his car­riage open before hand, as is said. 4. This secret dis­covery before things break out, is needfull to prevent the defection of others, because, if the persons be not reclaimed, they may be found out to be dangerous, and may so be noted, for the preventing of their be­ing a snare to others, which they might have been more easily, had they not been marked to be such, which is the reason of that exhortation, Rom. 16. 17. Mark them that caus [...] divisions, and avoid them. When a person is discovered and found to be tainted, then all means are to be used for his conviction by confe­rence, reasoning and other such means as may gain the end, this is a speciall qualification of a Minister, Ti [...]. 1. 9. that he may be able by sound Doctrine to convince gainsayers. And (as it is, 2 Tim. 2. 25.) in meeknesse to instruct these that oppose themselves: Which step may be considered under diverse respects, [Page 223] 1. As it tendeth to the gaining of the person directly, so especially private debatings are requisit, which are to be carried on with all meeknesse and long-suffering, although they meet with reproaches and reflection [...] in the prosecuting thereof. 2. Although there be little hopes of gaining the person, yet there is need of such means for the stopping of his mouth, and the edification of others, that thereby he have not occa­sion to seduce them; for, often such debatings solid­ly and judiciously carried on, though they do not convince the person, so as to make him silent▪ yet do they convince others of the absurdnesse of these er­rours, and the unreasonablnesse of such a persons carriage; and experience hath proven, that often such debats have been blessed for the credit and vindication of the truth, in reference to many others, and by that place, Tit. 1. 9. seemeth to be clear duty, though there be little hopes of coming speed, as to the per­sons seduced.

CHAP. X. Whether at all times a publick debate be necessary with such persons upon these points.

IF it be questioned here, 1. Whether in all cases there be a necessity of a publick debate? 2. What is to be accounted conviction? 3. What is to be done, when the persons are not silent? 4. How this debate is to be managed?

We shall answer by laying down some Assertions promiscuously in reference to all these Questions.

Assert. 1. We say that there are some times andIn what cases it is called [...]or. cases wherein publick debates are not altogether to be shunned; I will not say, that every person is to accept of such a challenge, lest there by truth be wronged; (neither is it alwayes the ablest man that manageth such a businesse best) but in general the thing is ne­cessary [Page 224] in these and such like cases: As, 1. when errours seem to be new among the people. 2. When the promotters of them become insolent, as if they durst come to the light with their deeds. 3. When by forbearance and silence, people are in hazard to think something of these insolent boasters, and of their opinions. In which cases, I say, and the like, there is some necessity of this, for the C [...]urches edification, as may appear from Tit. 1. 9, 10, 11. There are many, saith the Apostle, who are unruly and vain talkers (such as vainly boast of their own ability, to maintain their opinions) whose mouths must be stopped, lest they get advantage to seduce others; and this is given as the reason why Ministers should be qualified with abili­ties to convince gainsayers, because sometimes the in­solencie and vanity of some such, doth necessitate to this; and on this ground we will find our blessed Lord Himself, and Stephen and Paul, frequently dispu­ting even in Assemblies and Synagogues. This will not infer a necessity for every Minister to dispute at all times. even in such a case, but sometimes it may be referred, and put to others; for if truth be maintained, and errour be confuted, it may stop the gainsayers mouth, although every one do it not.

Assert. 2. Yet there are some cases, when such en­teringIn what cases it is not called for. of debats is not necessary nor expedient. As, 1. supposing these things not to be new, but to have been sufficiently confuted formerly, and it may be in other places not far off, nor long before that; for, if there should be a continuing▪ still to debate, there would be no truth acknowledged to be setled, nor ac­cesse to other and further duties. 2. When some persons are known vainly and purposly to seek to put all in confusion, by multiplying such debats, and ir­reverently to prosecute the same, as if they made it their trade or vocation to do so: The answering of such men according to their folly, would be an accessi­on to their guilt of taking the blessed Name of God [Page 225] in vain, and for satisfaction to mens humours, and not for the great end of edification. 3. When men become unreasonable, and in their debatings, shew irrationall contradiction and blasphemy; in such a case, it is to be forborn or broken off with indigna­tion, and with zeal to the glory of God, as we see Paul and Barnabas do, Act. 13. 45, 46. 4. Some erroneous persons are so grosse and absurd, that they are not to be disputed with, but rather to be reproved and abhorred: and therefore we see in these Epistles, Rev. 2. 3. there is no disputing against the Nicolaitans, as Paul useth in other cases, because, where such ab­surdities are owned, there is no accesse to fasten a con­viction from reason, when men by such opinions ap­pear to be unreasonable. 5. When men deny prin­ciples, as the authority or sufficiency of the Scripture, or when they lay new principles, as a light within, revelations, enthusiasms, or such like; or, when they grosly and absurdly wrest and pervert the Scripture, as Peter speaketh of some, denying most clear senses, and forging senses which are most ridiculous: In such cases, there is no accesse to dispute, not only be­cause it cannot be done without admitting of them to blaspheme, but also because there is no mean by which they may be convinced, seing the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, is rendered uselesse unto them: As for instance, Hymeneus and Alexander, said, there was no resurrection to come, because it was past already; they wanted not dexteri­ty to abuse the Scripture, which saith, that there is a resurrection from sin, and by the new birth Believers are raised from the dead. Now, the applying of what is spoken of the generall and second resurrection to this particular and first resurrection, is so grosse, that Paul doth not dispute with but Sentence such blasphe­mers and abusers of the Scripture; for, it is clear, that they did not deny the Scripture, or a resurrecti­on simply, but did grosly and irrationally misapply [Page 226] the same: of this sort, are such as will admit of no distinctions, nor consequences, nor different accepti­ons of words and phrases, and such like: for, accord­ing to these grounds, the Scripture is made to disa­gree from it self, to give no certain sound in any thing, and to infer many absurdities, which is blas­phemous to think.

Assert. 3. It is not to be thought that that only is convi­ction, What is to be accoun­ted as the sufficient conviction of a gain­sayer. which putteth the adverse party to silence, or that when convincing of gainsayers is commanded, that that only is intended: for, men of corrupt unruly spirits (as the Apostle saith) wax worse and worse, and do re­sist the truth, as Iannes and Iambres withstood Moses, 2 Tim. 3. 8. and are therefore called reprobate concern­ing the faith; yea, sometimes the more they be pinch­ed and bound, the more they cry out, and will not yeeld to convincing truth, as we see, Act. 6. 9, 10, 11. and Act 13. 45, 46. and certainly there were none of Paul's opposers able to dispute with him, yet we will never almost find his adversaries silent, though he put them to silence, and did actually convince them; notwithstanding they are still muttering and contra­dicting, so that oftentimes he breaketh off, shaking the dust off his feet against them, when arguments did not the businesse. Oftentimes also, this continuing of contradiction with some dexterity to pervert Scrip­ture to their own destruction, is to them penall and [...]udiciall, as was formerly observed, and doth follow upon their hazarding and daring to oppose the mani­fest truth. And who would have thought, but that these Magicians that resisted Moses, should have been convinced by so many miracles, not to have essayed further to oppose him? which yet notwithstanding they continue to do; and if it was so then, and with Paul and the other Apostles afterward, can it be ex­pected to be otherwayes now? seing the spirit of Iannes and Iambres, and the gainsaying of Core is marked by the Scripture to wait on such.

[Page 227]If it be asked then, What can be understood by conviction? and if a person may be accounted con­vinced, who yet may be keeping the last word, and confidently bragging of the victory? Answ. That conviction is not to be bounded with acknowledgment or silence in the party convinced, we suppose is al­ready cleared; yea, those that are convinced, may, as it were, cry the others out of the company by multi­tude of words and confidence of expressions, as those Jews did cry down Paul and Barnabas, Act. 13. 46. Therefore we see in that precept, Tit. 3. 10, 11. that the Heretick which is to be rejected, is both said to refuse admonition, and also to be condemned of himself; yet it cannot be said that he was put to silence by these admonitions, or did forbear to vent his er­rours: this therefore must be accounted certain, and is confirmed by 2 Tim. 2. 25. where the recovery of opposers, even after sufficient instruction, with meek­nesse, hath a peradventure in it, as a thing most rarely to be found. We must therefore place conviction in some other thing than that: and so in answer to the question, What is to be accounted conviction? We say, 1. it is when a person is so far convinced, and the truth with his errour so far cleared to be truth and errour respectively, that his continuing obstinate, cannot be supposed to be of infirmity, which often will evidence it self in foolish, weightlesse and un­reasonable shifts and answers, or when there cannot be weight in such an answer, to satisfie a mans own reason or conscience, if he were sober and at himself: upon this account, the Heretick is said to be condem­ned of himself, Tit. 3. 11. not because actually his conscience doth condemn him for dissimulation; for even then it is supposed he may be in a delusion, which keepeth off such challenges; and their consciences are said to be seared with an hot iron, 1 Tim. 4. 2. which importeth, they were not capable of positive convictions within themselves; but it must be un­derstood [Page 228] thus, that they are the cause of their own blindnesse, as wilfully and maliciously refusing and rejecting light when it is offered to them, and so the cause of their own damnation doth not flow from the neglect of others, in not holding forth to them suffi­cient light, but from their own obstinacy, prejudice and maliciousnesse. 2. They may be said to be con­vinced when the thing is made clear to sober serious men, even as some stupid ignorant persons are inex­cusable in their ignorance, when they live under such means as others of ordinary capacity thrive by; al­though such plain preachings, discourses or doctrines be no way understood by them, yet may it justly be said, that that light was sufficient to instruct them, or that Gospel to convince them, seing others have been profited by the same. 3. They may be said to be convinced, even when they speak again, when there is no answer to purpose in their speaking, but absurd denying or asserting of things without any reason, or when there is a granting of absurd conse­quences, or an asserting of an absurdity, that possibly is greater nor another which they would eschew; o [...], bitter railing against mens persons, seeking to defame them for strengthening of their cause, as the false teachers did Paul among the Corinthians and Galatians, and as the Libertins did to Stephen by venting calum­nies on him, and provoking others against him, Act. 6. or, when in their answers or debates, they break out in blasph [...]my against God, against His Scriptures, against His Ordinances; such, in such cases, are to be accounted sufficiently convinced, and their obstinacy is to be accounted malicious; and this we may ga­ther, as from others places, so from that, Act. 13. 45, 46. when they come to wilfull contradictions and blaspheming, Paul and Ba [...]nabas will reason no more. And, Acts 28. 24, 25. some Jews are accounted to be sufficiently convinced, and their contradiction to pro­ceed from judiciall blinding, when they reject that [Page 229] word which did sufficiently convince others. Also, we see, Act. 17. 32. when men begin to mock at the fundamentall things of Religion, or to shift clear places of Scripture, by putting strange and absurd ex­positions upon them, as was formerly marked of Hy­meneus and Alexander; such persons are not to be dis­puted with any more, but to be accounted abundant­ly convinced, Notwithstanding of the most confi­dent contradiction: and what was said of some cases, wherein publick debate was not to be admitted, the same may be applied in this case, as being evidences of sufficient conviction and self-condemnation of such persons.

Assert. 4. When any such debate is found necessa­ry,How a pub­lick debate is to be ma­naged when necessary. there is much spiritual zeal and prudence required in the managing thereof: in which, beside what is ge­nerally required in the manner of every thing, these things are to be observed, 1. That it be not tumul­tuary and confused, because so the Name of God is irreverently dealt with, and made obnoxious to re­proach: Therefore order and reverence, and what is needfull and fit for such an end, is to be provided for; otherwise, such confused meetings are to be left when entered into, as dishonourable to the Name of God, and unbecoming the gravity that Ministers should follow, as we see, Act. 13. 45, 46. and Act. 19. 30, 32. for, in such a case there is no accesse to edification. 2. Men would deniedly undertake such a thing when called to it, as being convinced how difficult the task is, how fecklesse they themselves are, and how subtile the principall adversary which they have to do with is. Therefore there would not be an undertaking upon the account of gifts, parts, or learning▪ nor would it be managed only or mainly by subtile ar­guments, nor would advantage be much sought for, that way but simple truth would be plainly, gravely, and zealously proposed, with respect to the affecting the conscience of the party, and of the hearers. [Page 230] And as it is in preaching, not the subtilest and learn­edest discourses do alwayes prove most taking, So in debates that concern conscience, materiall plainnesse demonstrating the truth with power unto the consci­ence, hath often the clearest evidence with it. There is a notable instance recorded by Ruffinus, Eccles. hist. lib. 10. chap. 3. which was thus, at the Councill of Nice, great Schollers were conveened from all places, upon report of that famous meeting, to which also did come some chief Philosophers, of whom one most eminent did dispute frequently with the greatest Schollers, who were never able to bind him, because such (saith he) was his nimblenesse, that like an eel he slipped them, by one shift or other, when arguments did seem most constringent. But God, that he might show that His Kingdom did not consist in word, but in power; one of the Confessors, being a man of a most simple nature, and knowing nothing but Christ Jesus and Him crucified, when he saw the Philosopher insulting and boasting of his quicknesse, desired liberty to speak with him a little, others did shun it, knowing the mans simplicity, and fearing left he should become a reproach to subtile men: notwithstanding, he persisted, and began thus, Philosopher, in the Name of Jesus Christ hear these things that are true, There is one God who made Heaven and Earth, and formed man out of the dust, and gave him a Spirit, who made all things which are seen and unseen, who sent His Son, born of a Virgin▪ to deliver us miserable sinners from everlasting death, by His suffering of death; and hath given us life eternall by His Resurrection, whom we expect to come as Judge of what ever we do: Philosopher, believest thou these things? Then he, as if he had not known how to contradict, astonished with the power of what was said, and put to silence, only could an­swer, that it appeared so, that there was no other thing but truth in what he had said. Then said the aged Con­fessor, [Page 231] if thou believest so, rise and follow me to the Church, and receive the seal of this faith: Then the Philosopher turning to these that were with him, and other hearers, said, Hear, O Learned men, while the matter was managed with me with words, I opposed words to words; but when for words vertue proceeded out of the mouth of him that spake, words (said he) could not re­sist power, nor man God. And therefore, if any of you have felt what I have, let him believe in Christ, and fol­low this old man, in whom God hath spoken. Thus far Ruffinus: a story not unworthy to be observed. 3. It would be known what principles may be laid down, or what rules may be binding, otherwayes there may be an asserting of any thing, or denying of every thing. 4. There would be still a ministerial gravity and au­thority preserved, lest that Ordinance become despi­cable, and so Ministers would both improve their reason, light, authority, and ministerial commission from Christ upon the conscience of those they have to do with, as we see Paul doth in his debates, even where his authority was much questioned.

CHAP. XI. Admonition is necessary, and how to be performed.

THe third step, is Admonition, that is, when convictions have no successe, then ought Mi­nisters to proceed to judiciall and authorita­tive admonitions, as the word is in the direction, Tit. 3. 10. A man that is an Heretick reject, after the first and second admonition. This admonition hath no new reason to inform the judgment, which is already pre­supposed to be done, but it addeth these two, 1. It hath a concurring weight to affect the conscience which hath withstood or smothered the light; and so it is, with Gods bl [...]ssing, usefull to make former despised light more seriously and impartially to be [Page 232] weighed and considered, when in His Name the ad­monition is particularly upon that account directed to them. 2. It is a warning, giving advertisement of some sadder thing coming, if they shall continue to reject the Truth, and so it is a shoring of them for that particular fault, before the stroak be laid on, that either, by Gods blessing, it may humble and soften them, and so put them to endeavour the preventing of the coming stroak; or, if they continue stubborn, it may make them more inexcusable; and thus there is the clearer accesse to proceed to rejection. This ad­monitionThe several steps of ad­monition. may be considered in these three steps, 1. It may be in privat, after the Minister's conferring with the persons and his finding them guilty, he may not only instruct them, but afterward, if they continue, admonish them, and that as a Minister, in the Name and Authority of Jesus Christ, which is more than the admonition of a privat person. 2. There is a step of this admonition to be past judicially by a Church-judicatory when the person is brought be­fore them, whereby they judicially interpose their au­thority to admonish such a person of the evil of his way, and of the necessity of the present duty of re­pentance for the same, like that which sinfully and most abominably was misapplied by the Priests and Pharisees, Act. 4. 5. yet, that in the general there is such an admonition, is apparent. The 3. step is pub­lickly before the people, wherein (after the former hath failed in reaching the desired end) the party in­fected is solemnly and publickly admonished before the Congregation. In which step, 1. The parties good is to be respected, that now it may be tried if the admonition both of officers and people (who are supposed to joyn in this publick admonition) may have weight. 2. It is usefull for the people to guard them against such an evil, and such a person. 3. If it succeed not, it leaveth the person more inexcusable, and convinces all of the justice and necessity of pro­ceeding [Page 233] further, and so tendeth to make the Sentence to be the more respected by all. This, we conceive, is the admonition intended, Tit. 3. 10. and answereth to that publick rebuke, spoken of, 1 Tim. 5. 20.

In carrying-on these admonitions, these thingsSome things observable in the way of admonishing would be observed, 1. That there be no great hast­ing, except the persons readinesse and diligence to infect others require the same, in which case there is no delay to be admitted. 2. All these steps of admo­nition would be so carried-on as becometh an Ordi­nance of Christ, and that the weight of them may lie there. 3. There is difference to be put betwixt giving of an admonition, and entering of a debate for con­ference; Therefore there is no necessity of suspending an admonition, because the person is absent, more than there is of suspending of a warning or citation: And, on the other side, If the persons were present, and should contradict and oppose themselves, there is no necessity nor conveniency of entering in debate again, because that is not the present work, but authoritatively to admonish those who have resisted sufficient conviction, and so they are to be left under the weight of the admonition, from which the renew­ing of debate would diminish.

The fourth thing and that which followeth fruit­lesseThat reject­ing of an ob­stinat Here­tick, is to Church-offi­cers a neces­sary duty, & a mean to be made use of for the Chur­ches edifica­tion. admonition, is rejection, Tit. 3. 10. A man that is an heretick, reject. This rejection is the same with Excommunication or delivering to Satan, 1 Tim. 1. 20. Concerning which these things are clear,

1. That a man, continuing an Heretick, may and ought to be rejected and excommunicated as well as for any other grosse Scandal: For, 1. the precept is plain in the place cited, A man that is an Heretick, reject; which must be a casting of him out from Church-communion, and a giving of him over in respect of the use of any further means for his edification, which is in effect, to account him as an Heathen man and a Publican, which is called, 1 Cor. 5. 13. a putting [Page 234] away from amongst our selves a wicked person. 2. The example and precedent is clear, 1 Tim. 1. 20. 3. Where this is followed, it is commanded, as in Ephesus, Rev. 2. and where it is forborn, and corrupt teachers suffered to be in the Church, it is very sharp­ly reproved, as in the Epistles to Pergamos and Thya­tira. 4. The general grounds of Scandal and of Dis­cipline against the same, and the reasons which in­force the exercise thereof in any case, have weight here. For, 1. It is scandalous exceedingly. 2. It is hurtfull to the Church. 3. Discipline▪ and particu­larly that Sentence, is appointed for remedying the hurts of the Church, and the removing of offences from the same; which grounds have been formerly cleared, Therefore it palpably followeth, that this Sentence is to proceed against such: But for further clearing of this, there are some Questions to be an­swered here, As,

1. It may be questioned, What if the person beWhat if the person sedu­ced be judg­ed to be tru­ly gracious. godly, or accounted so? Answ. I shall not say how unlike it is that a really gracious man will be a minister of Satan, we have spoken of that already; but, supposing it to be so, 1. If it be scandalous in a gracious man, is not the same remedy to be used for the Churches good? 2. That supposition of Paul's Gal. 1. 8, 9. doth put it above all question, Though we (saith he) or an Angel from Heaven, preach another Gospel, let him be accursed. And▪ again, he saith it, to put this out of controversie, If any man shall preach another Gospel, let him be accursed. And, if Paul will except no man, no, not himself, nay▪ nor an Angel from Heaven, who can be excepted? The mistake is in this, that Excommunication is not looked upon as an Ordinance of Christ, usefull through His bles­sing for humbling and reclaiming of a sinner more than if it were not applied; whereas, if it were looked upon as medicinal in its own kind, it would not be [...]o constructed of; For, by comparing 1 Cor. [Page 235] 5. with 2 Cor. 2. we will find that it was more pro­fitable to the excommunicated person himself that this Sentence was past, than if it had been for born.

2. It may be asked, What if the person be no fixedWhat if he be no fixed member of any particu­lar Congre­gation. member of any particular Congregation, who yet doth infect others? Answ. This cannot be sufficient to exempt from Censure, Because, 1. he is a mem­ber of the Catholick Church, Therefore Censures must some way reach him: otherwayes, supposing a man to disclaim all particular Congregations, he might be a member of the Church, who yet could be reached by no Censure. 2. He might claim the pri­viledges in any particular Congregation, if he should carry fairly as he is a member of the Church-catho­lick: Therfore it would seem by proportion and rule of contraries, that Presbyteries may reach him with their Censures, if by his miscarriages he become of­fensive to the people. 3. We see that the Church of Ephesus, Revel. 2. did judicially try and censure those who called themselves Apostles, who, it's like, being strangers, obtruded themselves, under that title, upon them, and so could not be accounted members of that Church; And indeed, there is no lesse needfull for the edification of the people of such particular Con­gregations, and for guarding them from the hurt that may come by vageing persons, than that either they be censured somewhere by one Congregation, or many, in associated Church-judicatories; or, at least that some publick note and mark be put upon such, that others may have warning to eschew them, as the word may be taken, Rom. 16. 17, 18. and 2 Thess. 3. 14. which is there spoken of, busie bodies and wanderers without any certain calling or station.

3. It may be questioned, What if Magistrates inWhat if Ci­vill Magi­strats concur not for the backing of the sentence. their place concur not, or, if the case so fall out, that they be displeased with the drawing▪forth of such a Sentence? Answ. This may require the more pru­dence, zeal and circumspectnesse, but ought not to [Page 236] mar the progresse: Because, 1. Excommunication is an Ordinance instituted by Jesus Christ for the edifi­cation of His Church, as Preaching and giving of the Sacraments are. 2. That same might have been asked in the primitive times when Paul did excom­municate, and when the Lord did reprove the want thereof. Revel. 2. There was then no concurrence of Civil Power. Yea, 3. in this case it seemeth most necessary; and the greatest enemies of Church-disci­pline do allow the Church to Sentence her members in such a case. 4. The weight of this Sentence doth not depend upon Civil Power, but upon Christ's In­stitution, Therefore the weight of it is to be laid here, whatever Civil Powers do. 5. We will find the primitive Fathers hazarding upon Martyrdom even in this very thing, So that when corrupt Emperours have inhibited them to excommunicate Arians and other Hereticks, they have done it notwithstanding; and by designing whom they desired to have suc­ceeding them in their places before they past the Sentence, did declare themselves ready to suffer, upon this account, any thing that might follow, and ac­cordingly some of them have been immediatly put to suffering.

2. We say, That although an Heretick be to be re­jected,Two limi­tations to be advert­ed in the rejecting of Here­ticks. yet is there a twofold limitation to be ad­verted to in that place, Tit. 3. 9. first, That it is not every erroneous person that is so to be dealt with, but he must be an Heretick: Which doth imply these three, 1. A perniciousnesse and destructivenesse in the errour maintained. 2. An actual venting there­of, to the destruction of the Church, either by cor­rupting the doctrine, marring the order, or breaking the unity of the same, or some other way spoiling the vines that have tender grapes. 3. It implieth a per­tinacy in such evils.

It is true, that sometimes lesser errours, in respect of their effects, and other aggravating circumstances, [Page 237] may become intolerable and to be proceeded against by this Sentence, as was said of lesser Scandals in practice. Yet, we conceive, that properly it is some grosser errour than what may be accounted to be of infirmity (such as many godly, sober, unprejudged men may have) that is to be the ground of such a Sentence. Therefore we refer the decision of this to be gathered from the Distinctions formerly laid down.

2. We find it qualified by this, That this rejecti­on is not to proceed hastily, but to follow upon re­jected and sleighted admonitions: Therefore, if an admonition be received before, and the Church there­in be heard, there is no further proceeding to be in in reference to this Sentence: Because, 1. the limita­tion is expresse. 2. The reason is clear; for if the lesser do the turn, and prevail to the recovery of the person, and removing of the offence from the Church, What needeth more?

CHAP. XII. What is to be accounted a satisfying and successe­full admonition.

IF it be asked, What is to be accounted a satisfy­ing and successefull admonition? And how men are to judge of, and walk in reference to, the same? Answ. We would distinguish satisfaction or successe as to an admonition, which may be either full satis­faction or only partiall. Full satisfaction is, When the person is so fully convinced of his ill, as not on­ly to forbear the venting thereof, and to give no of­fence for the time to come, but also fully to abandon the same as being grieved therefore, and willing to edifie others, by a suitable acknowledgement.Some usefull Distinctions of satisfacti­on.

Again, we call that a partial satisfaction or successe, when though there is not a fully satisfying length ob­tained; [Page 238] yet can it not be said to be altogether fruit­lesse. As suppose, 1. a person should not be brought wholly to disclaim his errours, yet should professe a conviction of the ill of venting them, and troubling the Church with them, and afterward should engage to abstain from offending in that kind. 2. Suppose one should be convinced of the more grosse errours, and be content to disclaim these, yet should stick at some others, professing scruple in them.

We would also distinguish these that give partiall satisfaction. 1. Either they are such as appear to be sincere in the length they come, and in the professions they make, as also to be docile and ready to be in­formed; or, they are such who discover the want of ingenuity in their proceeding, and themselves but to be lying at the wait to return to their vomit.

Now to apply this, We say, 1. When this satisfa­ction is full, there is no question; for, thereby not only all further processe is to be sisted, but the per­son is to be admitted to have communion in Church­priviledges.

2. Where this partiall successe is of the first sort, We conceive it may be sufficient to sist processe for a time; and to continue the persons under means with­in the Church, so long as they contradict not their profession; yet it is not sufficient to give them free ac­cesse to all Church-priviledges, as if the scandal were fully removed.

3. Where that satisfaction is but of the last kind, that is, mocking and dissembled, We say, that though it may put a Church-judicatory to try the evidences of this dissimulation, and during that time possibly to stop a little their proceeding; yet ought it not to mar the drawing forth of the Sentence, lest there be an accession to the hurt which is intended to the Church by that dissembler: And here we are to apply both the reasons against, and characters of, dissimulati­on, which were spoken to on practicall offences.

[Page 239]4. If there be no seeming satisfaction at all, then after admonitions given, the person despising the same is to be rejected, as one that is infectious and unfit to have communion in the Church, or the benefit of any Church-priviledge and Ordinance: And, in a word, to be, for his scandal, and obstinacy against Christs Ordinances, declared to be Excommunicate, and casten out of His visible Kingdom, as an out-law to the same; Which is to be done with such gravity, weightinesse, sympathy and authority, as it may look like the Ordinance of Christ, and have an impression of His dread and Majesty upon all that are witnesses thereof.

If it be asked, Whether any further duty be re­quiredWhether any thing be required of Ministers towards he­retick that are rejected from a Minister towards such a person after the Sentence is past? Answ. He is not then properly un­der pastorall charge since he is no member of Christs visible Church, at least, in that respect, as members fall under common and ordinary actuall inspection. Yet we conceive, 1. That the Minister is to continue to deal with God for him (at least in private) if so be he may be recovered out of this snare, because he is under the last cure, which will either prove life or death; Gods blessing therefore to it▪ is to be sought; and it becometh well the naturall care of a kindly Minister, that is thirsting for the blessing, to deal with God for it. 2. Although there be not actuall ac­cesse to any thing; yet ought there to be a lying at the wait to observe any opportunity which may be for his good, and when it offereth, it would be care­fully improven. And therefore, 3. for that end, whatever indignation beshown against a mans wayes or errours, to make these loathsome to others, yet still there would be evidence of tender respect to the persons, and, if need be, means used to supply them, especially if they come to any strait, although in all this they would keep such a distance as may keep up the weight of the Sentence, both to them and others: [Page 240] But, by this way, their suspicious mistakes of Mini­sters, carnalnesse against their persons, are best remov­ed, and accesse is thereby made to be edifying unto them, Some examples whereof are recorded in the life of Musculus▪ as to his tendernesse to most despe­rately deluded persons, when they were in affliction, and discountenanced exceedingly by Magistrates, which God blessed in the end for their recovery; this is suitable, severity in Magistrates, and tendernesse in Ministers. And amongst other ills and snares that that cruell indulgencie (which is indeed cruell to the poor souls, to whom it becometh a snare) hath fol­lowing it, this is one▪ That the Magistrate is ac­counted mercifull, and the zealous Minister cruell, whereby they are put in an incapacity to be edified by the one, and in a capacity, as it were, to mis­carry as they will, by the indulgence of the other.

CHAP. XIII. What is required of Magistrates for restraining of seducing spirits.

THe second thing that we proposed to speak to in this remedy, was, as it relateth to Magi­strates, to wit, Whether any thing be? or what it is that is called-for by the Word of God from them, to be performed in their stations for the drying up of such a floud▪ and removing of such a plague? It is not our mind to insist so much in this as in the former, Yet it is fit that we say something: And who knoweth but it may fall in the hand of some Magistrate, who may be desirous to hear and know his duty? which we shall lay down in an Assertion, or two, thus,

Assert. 1. Although God hath not made Magi­strates, as such, Church-officers, nor intrusted them with the Ecclesiastick Government of His Church; [Page 241] yet doth he allow them, and call them to improveThey are called ac­cording to their places to inter­pose. their civil power for the good of His Church in Ec­clesiastick things in some respect, as well as in civil things. And therefore if a Magistrate see not to the providing of Ministers for a people, and of mainte­nance to them, and such like, that are necessary for the being of a Church, as well as he provideth Offi­cers, and furnisheth them that are needfull in the State, he is faulty and unfaithfull to his trust. For, the Lords design in setling of Societies, and appoint­ing of Magistrates, is to be expounded as subservient to that great end of mens glorifying of God, and en­joying him. And certainly, Magistrates are to have that as their own end, even in the actions of their sta­tion, and to endeavour to promove that amongst these over whom for their good they rule. This is clear in all the Governments and Commonwealths that the Lord did immediately model Himself, Ma­gistrates had this for a speciall part of their task, to keep His Ordinances pure, and to restrain the cor­rupters of them: This is expressed in the Morall Law, where Masters are no lesse to oversee their servants, that they work not on the Sabbath, from respect to the Lord, than to direct their work all the week from respect to themselves; and by the rules of interpreting of these commands, what belongeth to a Master to be done by him as a Master, in reference to these over whom he hath power according to his station, that doth belong to all Magistrates in reference to these under their charge, according to their stations. Also, where one instance is named, all of that kind are comprehended. And therefore as this Ordinance of sanctifying the Sabbath, is to be overseen by Superi­ours, so also are all others: yea, it is acknowledged also, that what is expressed in one command, in respect of the extent thereof, is to be understood in all. And therefore this obligation lyeth on Superiours, to make inferiours observant of Gods Ordinances in reference [Page 242] to all the commands; this is not doubted of the du­ties in the second Table: yet there is no expression in it inferring the same▪ so expresse as is in the first; and this is a common assertion, Magistrates have both Tables of the Law committed to their keeping. This is fully made out by many godly and learned men, and we need not to insist upon it; for, readily, no Magi­strate doth question his own power, but that he may do what is fit, all the matter is to consider what that is.

Assert. 2. It is not a Magistrates duty in the case ofAnd not meerly to look to out­ward or­der. overspreading delusion, meerly to look to outward order and civil peace and enjury, and to give liberty to any o [...] many sorts of dangerous errours and delu­sions to spread; or, to give toleration unto the main­tainers thereof, in their spreading the same. For, 1. such errours, are ill deeds, and such spreaders, are ill doers, bringing great prejudice to people, Gal. 5. 20. 2 Epist. of Iohn 11. 2. Magistrates ought to be a terrour to evil doers indefinitly; and, I suppose, if the sword be born in vain in reference to them, the conscience will not have ground of quietnesse in the day of judgement, upon a distinction of evil doers▪ when the Lord hath made none such in their commis­sion. 3. They ought to be zealous of His honour who is their Superiour, that His name be not blasphem­ed: and can such be tolerate without this constructi­on, upon the matter, that men have liberty to blas­pheme the Name of God, to abuse His truth, re­proach His Ordinances, and to take His Name in vain as they will? Would any supream Magistrate take it well, to have some inferiour officer, or Magi­strate of a Town or Province, to give such liberty to these under his jurisdiction in reference to him? And is there any such distance between the supream and inferiour Magistrate, as there is between the Majesty of God, and the most supream power on earth? And what if He judge between Him and them out of their [Page 243] own mouth, and, according to the measure that they met out to others, met out to them? 4. Are they not to seek the peoples good? And is there any such good, as their spirituall good? Or, are there any such enemies to that as seducers? We conceive therefore▪ it will not be found agreeable to the intent of their of­fice and scope which they ought to aim at therein, that Magistrates should give this liberty or conni­vance to men, to vent and propagate such errours as may destroy souls, and actually overturn the face of a visible Church, so that if something overspread uni­versally, (as Popery, and some other grosse errours and delusions have done in some places of the world) there should be no visible Church within such domi­nions; And indeed, upon these principles, men can­not impute it to their own care, that it is other wayes. Also, such loosnesse may overturn Ordinances, and set up abominations in the room thereof, remove all Ministery, Sacraments, Discipline and Preaching, and all upon pretext of conscience: such delusions have been in the world; and if by Magistrates con­nivance, they should overspread a Nation, so as there could be no remedy applied, would it be satisfying or comfortable to him (supposing him to have a con­science) to see his people under him in such a posture? What if under pretext of conscience, Magistracie should be denied to be an Ordinance of God, and he put therefrom, upon that account, that the people thought it unlawfull to obey him? Would not rea­dily his conscience say, That seing he restrained not others from casting at these Ordinances, in which the honour of God, and good of souls were so much concerned, that it was just with God to permit them to cast at that Ordinance also, wherein he is so main­ly concerned? And indeed, this hath not been un­frequently seen, that these who have begun to cast at Church-ordinances, have come at length (as if they had been thereto disposed by the former) to cast at [Page 244] Civil Ordinances (to speak so) also; and what won­der is it, seing there is no more clear warrant from God for the one than for the other?

If it be said, that what hath been spoken in theThat the grounds a­gainst tole­ration con­cern Magi­strates as well as Mi­nisters. doctrine, and on these places, Rev. 2. concerning the not suffering of corrupt teachers to vent their errours, doth belong to Ministers and Church-officers, and not to Magistrates. Answ. 1. If thou be a Magi­strate that moveth this objection, pose thy own heart, if that which is so displeasing in Ministers and Church-officers, to wit, toleration of corrupt men to spread their errours; If, I say, that will be well pleas­ing and approven in Magistrates, when Christ Jesus shall come to judge both in reference to this thing; Or, if in that day when the great Judge will Sentence Ministers for tolerating in such a case, He will take another rule to proceed by, with the Magistrate? Or if it be like, that Christ out of love to His Church, shall peremptorily require Ministers, not to suffer false teachers, but to restrain them, according to their stations, and not to endure them to teach and seduce His Servants, and yet, that the same Lord, for the good of His Church, should require Magistrates to tolerate and maintain the same. 2. Consider if the grounds and reasons that bind this duty on Ministers, will not equivalently and proportionably bind all men according to their stations; for, the grounds are in sum, love to God, and love to the edification and salvation of others, which are the substance and ful­filling of the morall Law. 3. If in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, or in History since▪ these two be not ever joyned together, the most com­mended Magistrate, and one who is most zealous against corrupt teachers; the fathers of old were no [...] to spare their children, Deut. 13. nor suffer them to teach or seduce to the dishonour of God, and hazard of souls; and can it be said that souls now are lesse precious, or errour now lesse infectious and dange­rous, [Page 245] or these things lesse to be cared for now in the dayes of the Gospel than formerly, that concern the glory of God, and edification or destruction of souls? 4. Consider if in the Book of the Revelation, the suffering of Antichrist to delude souls, be not menti­oned as reproveable; and if the destroying of that beast, and putting him from corrupting the earth, be not spoken of as a main piece of the commendation of such as shall be instrumentall therein. Now in the Scripture-language, all deluders and seducers are Antichrists, being led with the same spirit, and driving the same design against the Kingdom of Jesus Christ; Can there be therefore any reason to make such diffe­rence, where the Lord hath made it? 5. Consider if it can be accounted single zeal, that perswadeth to permit the Name of God to be dishonoured, when any reflection upon our own, doth so much move us; for, it doth infer, that either there is an indifferency as to truth and errour, So that in the one, the Lord is not more dishonoured than in the other, which will be found exceeding contrary to His own expressing of Himself in Scripture, and will not, I suppose, be pleaded in the day of judgement, when He will avenge Himself on such seducers; or, it must infer, that men are not to take notice of what dishonoureth Him, even though many things be within their reach to impede it. And indeed, if a conscience seriously pondering the thing, will not be provoked out of zeal to God, whose glory suffereth, out of respect to the salvation of many souls, that are hazarded and destroyed by such means, and to prevent the many offences that wait necessarily upon such ills, and the many inconveniencies, divisions, jealousies, rents, &c. that follow in Families, Congregations, Cities and Nations, and the great prejudice that the Common­wealth suffereth, by the distracting of her members amongst themselves, the incapacitating of many for publick trust, the fostering of diverse interests and [Page 246] contrary principles in one body, to the marring of ho­nest publick designs: If by these, I say, the zeal and conscience of these who are concerned, be not pro­voked, by what will, or can, they be?

If it be said, That it looketh more Gospel-like,That totall forbearance is not like the Gospel. and for the furtherance of Christs Kingdom, that Magistrates should leave men to follow their light, and to be dealt with by the preaching of the Gospel, and force thereof. We shall propose these Conside­rations in reference to this, 1. Consider if it looketh christian and tender-like, for men so to stand by in the Lord's Cause, and to let Him do (as it were) for Himself: It was indeed once said of B [...]al, Iudg. 6. If he be a god, let him plead for himself: But will a ten­der heart think or speak so reproachfully of the Ma­jesty of God? He indeed can and will plead for Himself; and it is not for defect of power He maketh use of men, to defend His truth, or to restrain errours; yet it is His good pleasure to make use of Magistrates therein, (and thereby to honour them) as He doth of Gideon in that same place. 2. Consider if it look christian-like, to give the devil equal accesse to fol­low his designs with Jesus Christ in the setting up of his kingdom: Now absolute toleration doth this, and more, because there is but one Truth, and there are many Errours, and each of these hath that same li­berty and indemnity (to say so) that Truth hath, and may with the same confidence come forth to the open light as Truth may, in respect of any Civil restraint. 3. Consider the case of Antichrist, there is no errour against which the Lord hath more directly engaged Himself to fight with the sword of His mouth, than against this of Popery, and yet we suppose none will think that Kings might warrantably suffer it to be spread and preached to the infecting of their People, without adding or injoyning any restraint by their Civil power; certainly their hating of the Whore, and making her desolate, doth imply some other thing: [Page 247] And where-ever true hatred of Errour is, there will be more effectuall streatching of mens power and places for restraining the same. 4. We may adde this Consideration, That hitherto toleration of Errours and diversity of corrupt opinions have ever been loo­ked upon, and made use of, as a most subtil mean for undermining and destroying of the Church. It is marked of that skilfull enemy of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, Julian, That having improven his sub­tility to the utmost to find out means to destroy the Church by craft, which his predecessors by violence could not obtain▪ amongst other means he concluded this Not to raise open persecution but to give liberty to all the differing Bishops and Teachers (which then, after the Council of Nice and Constantins death, were very many and bitter in their differences) to follow their own way, and to vent their own opinions with­out all fear of any restraint: and therefore did call them that he might make intimation thereof to them for their further encouragement therein; The words which he used to them, as they are marked by Ammi­anus and cited by Lodovicus Molineus, pag. 560 are, Ut consopitis civilibus discordiis, suae quisque Religioni ser­viret intrepidus, that is, in sum▪ That every one for­bearing Civil discords, should worship in his own Religion without controle or fear: And is it like, that this shall prove a mean usefull for the good of the Church, which that expert childe of the devil did make use of to destroy the same?

Our third Assertion then is, That Magistrates inIt's Magi­strates duty to prevent the infecti­on of the people un­der them. their places ought to prevent the infection of their people under them by corrupt doctrine, and the re­covery of them when they are insnared: and that therefore they ought to restrain and marre corrupt teachers from spreading of their errours to seduce others. This Assertion we suppose, is clear from the former two: for, if Magistrates be allowed to im­prove their power for the good of the Church, and [Page 248] if it be not their duty to give common protection to Errour, and the venters thereof, with Truth: Then this will follow, that they ought to use their power to restrain the same, and, by the exercise thereof, to procure the good of their people, in preserving of them from such a great evil.

CHAP. XIV. What may be justly acknowledged to be within the reach and power of the Magistrate in such a case, and so, what is his duty.

IT may be more difficult to explicate this, and to shew what is within the Magistrates reach, or, what way he is to follow this. Before we answer, we would premit,

1. That it is not intended, that Magistrates should rigidly and severely (much lesse equally) animadvert upon all that in their judgment are erroneous, or differ from what is truth, that is not called-for from Mini­sters. Therefore here the former distinctions are to be remembred and applyed: for, there is great odds be­twixt animadverting upon an absurd errour, or ta­king notice thereof, as it is a thing of the mind, and, it may be, a scruple in some conscience, and as it is an external deed, having with it real offence, prejudice and hurt unto others; in which case the Magistrate forceth no mans conscience to another Religion, but doth keep his own conscience, by keeping one that is deluded from seducing of others, or wronging the Name of the Lord or His Church.

2. It is to be adverted, that we speak not here of the Magistrates duty in punishing of corrupt teachers with civil or capital punishments, (though we doubt not but in some cases their power doth reach to that) much lesse are the highest punishments to be under­stood here; whatever▪be truth in these, we do not [Page 249] now search into it, because the Scope is according to the Assertion, to consider what is called-for, for the preventing of the spreading of corrupt doctrine, and the preserving or recovering of a people therefrom.

3. This doth not give way to Magistrates to con­demn and restrain what they think errour, or what others think errour; for Ministers that ought to re­ject Hereticks, are not warranted to reject whom they account so, but who indeed are so; So is it here, it is what is indeed errour▪ and who are indeed the teachers thereof, that the Magistrate is to restrain, as those who teach rebellion against the Lord.

We come then to consider what may be a Magi­strates duty when seducing spirits assault the people under their charge, and what is obviously in their power to do for preventing of hurt by them, with­out insisting in any difficult or odious like case. Their duty also may be considered in a fourfold respect, as that of Ministers was. 1. It would be considered with respect to God, and so they ought to fear some stroak coming upon their people, and by looking to Him to endeavour to carry so in reference thereto, as they may be countable to Him: for, if it be a privi­ledge for Magistrates in the Christian Church to have the honour of being nursing fathers therein, Isa. 49. 23. then it must be a great credit, mercy and satis­faction to them, to have their people or foster (to say so) the Church, flourishing and thriving upon their breasts; and if so, then the mis-thriving of the Church by unhealthsom milk of errour should and will exceedingly affect them. And certainly that ex­pression doth both shew what a Magistrate's duty is, and how tenderly he ought to nourish the Church and preserve her from any thing that may hurt her, as also it showeth how nearly any thing that may hurt the Church, ought to touch and prick him.

2. In respect of themselves, they are to consider if by any guiltinesse of theirs the Lord be provoked to [Page 250] let loose such a spirit, as Solomons sins did procure the renting of the Kingdom. So might they be also coun­ted a cause, bringing▪on that idolatry and defection of Ieroboam from the Truth, as well as from him and his posterity: Also if by their negligence in not pro­viding faithfull Teachers to instruct the people, by their conniving at errours, or tolerating them, or other­wayes they may be charged with accession thereto: Thus Ieroboams appointing the meanest of the people to be Priests, and his beginning defection by his ex­ample, (though he seemed not altogether to forsake the true God) disposed the people for a further length, and had influence upon their going a whoring after Baal and other Idols of the Nations: Thus also Solo­mon was guilty of much grosse idolatry by his con­nivance at it, and taking himself to worldly pleasures and miskenning the things of God, although it's like he did not actually f [...]ll in that grosse idolatry himself. And if Magistrates were seriously reflect­ing on themselves, and affected with their own neg­ligence and carelesnesse in preventing of such things, whereof possibly they might find themselves guilty, this were a great length, and other questions would be the sooner cleared, and seriousnesse would make them find out remedies for such an evil.

3. Their duty may be looked upon in reference to others, wherein they may and ought to extend them­selves for preventing the spreading of the infection amongst these that are clean, by such like means, As, 1. by their example, to show themselves zealous against that ill, and to abhor the questioning and dis­puting of the truth; thus the example of a Magistrate is often of much weight, yet car [...] it not be accounted any coaction. 2. They ought to endeavour to have faithfull and honest Ministers, who by their diligence and oversight may exceedingly conduce to the con­firming of these that stand, and to the preventing of more hurt. 3. They may and ought to countenance [Page 251] and strengthen such as are faithfull, whether among Ministers or people, which often hath no little in­fluence upon the disappointing of seducers: thus it is said, 2 Chron. 30. 22. that for promoving of Refor­mation, Hezekiah spoke comfortably to all the Levites that taught the good knowledge of the Lord: which is added, to shew that by this encouraging of honest and faithfull Ministers beyond others, he did design the thriving of the work in their hands, both by heart­ning them to be zealous in it, and also by making them to have the more weight with others: this is also marked of Constantine and other good Emperours, that zealous and faithfull Ministers were particularly taken notice of, and honoured by them, beyond others. 4. They may and ought to employ and make use of some fit instrumen [...]s for the preventing of seduction, and may provide such as may be set apart for study­ing such controversies, and confuting of such errours, that the truth may be the more clear. 5. They may and ought to endeavour according to their place, the composure and allayment of all the lesser and more pet­ty differences and heart-burnings that may be found amongst these that are, in the main, one for truth; for often (as was said) a vehement spirit of errour and delusion is trysted with heart-burnings, divisions and offences in the Church, and amongst the Officers thereof: there were petty contests in Corinth, biting and devouring one of another in Galatia, trysted with the harmony that was amongst the followers of the seducers: and at the Councell of Nice there was not only difference with Arians and other grosse here­ticks, but also there were petty differences and con­tests amongst the Bishops and Confessors who stood for truth; and these differences are most advantagi­ous to the spreading of errour, and the removing thereof is a great bulwark against the same. It is marked of Constantine at that Councell of Nice, that amongst other means which he used to suppresse the [Page 252] Arian heresie, he did most carefully endeavour the removing and burning of such differences and divi­sions, and by serious Oration pressed the oblivion of all such, that they might the more unitedly and with the lesse diversion be in capacity to oppose the com­mon enemy. For certainly, when Ministers are armed one against another upon some lesse concern­ing, and more unprofitable debates, (as, alas! too much of them is in the Christian reformed-Church at this time) there cannot but be the lesse strength, zeal, and vigilancy against professed enemies in the most substantiall things. 6. They may, and ought to interpose their Authority, for inhibiting the re­ceiving and hearing, or conversing with known and manifest seducers: for, this is but to discharge, and thereby to preserve the people from runing to their own hazard, even as men ought to be commanded to keep at distance with a place or person suspected to be infectious because of the Pestilence; neither could such a restraint be accounted any diminution of their just liberty, yea this were but a putting to of their sanction to the clear direction which the Lord layeth upon His people, and therefore there could be no hazard to miscarry in it, especially where the appli­cation to such and such persons, might be as clearly discernable from the Word as the duty is. 7. They might and ought to give their countenance unto, and joyn their Authority with, such ecclesiastick statutes, overtures, or means, as Church-judicatories or Offi­cers might be about to make use of for this end in their places; and this can be no more prejudice to liberty, to countenance with their authority the Or­nance of Discipline, than to confirm by their Autho­rity the Ordinance of preaching the Gospel. 8. They may and ought to preserve the Ordinances from being interrupted, and the administrators thereof from be­ing reproached, and might justly censure these things when committed. 9. In recovering a people, in a [Page 253] reeling and staggering time, a Magistrate may engage them to formerly received truth, and interpose his authority for this end, as is recorded of Iosiah, 2 Chron. 34. 31, 32, 33. Also, 10. He may and ought to re­move all false worships, and endure no corrupt preaching, or writing, or meetings for that end, or administrating of corrupted Sacraments, or any Or­dinance other than what is allowed; for, Iosiah did cause the people stand to the Covenant that was made, and having removed all Idolatrous worship, he made Israel to serve the Lord, that is, he made them aban­don corrupt worship, and waiton pure Ordinances, as keeping of the Sabbaths, offering of sacrifices, &c. and that according to the manner prescribed by the Lord. Neither was it a wronging of their liberty, to do so: Because, 1. it was the preservation of their liberty, to keep them from the abominable bon­dage of these evils. 2. It was their duty to abstain from these, and to follow the Ordinances purely, and the Magistrate may well put people to that. 3. It is one thing by force to keep folks from dishonouring God in a corrupt Religion, (as Iosiah did) another to force them to a Religion; the one belongeth to the or­dering of the outward man, the other to the inward. 4. He might order them to keep the Ordinances, and in going about them to keep the rule, because that is but a constraining of them to the means whereby Re­ligion worketh, and a making them, as it were, to give God a hearing, leaving their yeelding and con­senting to him, when they have heard him, to their own wills, which cannot be forced; yet it is reason that when God cometh by His Ordinances to treat with a people, that a Magistrate should so far respect His glory and their good, as to interpose His Autho­rity to make them hear. 5. Also, there is a diffe­rence between the constraining of a circumcised or baptized people, to worship God in the purity of Or­dinances, as they have been engaged thereto, which [Page 254] was Iosia's practice, and the constraining of a people to engage and be baptized, which were not formerly engaged; because, actuall members of a Church have not even that liberty as others have, to abandon Ordinances: and this putteth them to no new engage­ment in Religion, but presseth them to continue under former engagements, and accordingly to perform: Hence we see, that both in the Old and New Testa­ment, Church-members have been put to many things, and restrained from many things, which had not been pertinent in the case of others. See, 2 Chron. 15. 13.

In the fourth place, there are many things also in their power, in reference to these that are seducers or deluders, or actually deluded, which might be and ought to be improven for the Churches good; (not to speak now of any thing that may infer civil or capi­tall punishment, upon men for their opinions, or any way look like the enforcing of Religion upon con­sciences) As, 1. Magistrates might and ought to put Ministers and Church-officers and others to their duty (in case they be negligent) in trying, discover­ring, convincing, &c. such as by their corrupt do­ctrine may hazard others. 2. They may and ought to discountenance such in their own persons, and, by their authority, inhibit them to vent any such thing; yea under certifications: yet this cannot be called a forcing of their conscience to any Religion, but is only the restraining of them from hurting of the con­sciences of others. 3. When such certifications are contraveened, he may and ought to censure the con­traveeners, and so he may by his authority put them in an incapacity of having accesse to infect others; yet this is not the censuring of a mans opinion, for he might possesse his opinion without censure, but it is the censuring of his disobedience, and the preju­dice done by him to others: Nor is it the restraining of him from personall liberty, because of it, but be­cause [Page 255] he doth not, nor will not use his personall liber­ty without prejudice to the whole body, which is to be preferred to him: even as a man, infected with the pestilence, ought justly to be restrained, though against his will; yet cannot that be accounted a re­straint of just liberty; for, it is no just liberty to have liberty to hurt others. 4. They may and ought to destroy such books as they use to spread for the infe­cting of others, and inhibit and stop printing of them, or actuall selling, spreading or transporting of them, as they may stop carrying of suspected or forbidden goods. 5. They may and ought to restrain idle and vagabound travelling of such suspected persons, with­out representing of their necessary businesse to some, appointed for that effect, in which case their doing hurt by such a voyage, might be prevented, and they have a passe. Also, they might constrain them to follow some lawfull occupation, and to be diligent therein; both these are well consistent with ordering of a State, And yet it is such busie bodies (as the Apostle speaketh) and vagabonds, that go without their station, that often prove most hurtfull to the Church, and instrumentall to the devil, as being Apostles to him in such a businesse. 6. They may and ought to restrain and Censure all blasphemous and irreverent expressions and speaches against the Majesty of God and His Ordinances, and all calum­nies and bitternesse against faithfull Ministers or Pro­fessours that adhere to truth: for, these are moral sins; and blasphemy, calumny, and such like, are no more to be passed over without Censure in such, than in others who are not professedly tainted with errour: and the pretext of following light and conscience, can­not make these sins tolerable, more than the Nicolai­tans pretending the same for their committing adulte­ry and other filthinesse: And this is not to punish mens opinions, or force their consciences, but to pu­nish their vices, even such as have been hatefull unto, [Page 256] and punished by, many naturall and heathen men▪ 7. They may and ought by their authority to cause them hear conferen es orderly and reverently, give answers discreetly, wait on their trial▪ and such like, before Ecclesiastick Assemblies. 8. They may and ought to make such incapable of publick places of trust, and remove them from such: Because, 1. they cannot be supposed to imploy their pow [...]r singly. 2. Because such trust agreeth not to men and subjects as such, but are voluntarily conferred as tokens of respect put upon men eminently qualified, and as may be for the good of the Commonwealth: And there­fore it cannot be justly accounted a marring of their liberty as men or subjects. Upon this ground was Maachah the mother of Asa removed from being Queen, or having any government, 1 King. 15. 13. 2 Chron. 15. 16. yet it cannot be said she was wrong­ed when she was so dealt with.

In these steps mentioned, we have not aimed to lay down what might be done to the utmost in such a case, but what we suppose cannot be in reason denied by these of the widest principles in reference to this matter, if so be they degenerate not utterly to loos­nesse.

If it be said, That it seemeth sufficient for the Ma­igstrateIt is not suf­ficient to a Magistrate to maintain civil peace. to maintain civil peace, and to restrain civil disturbances: We may look to these considerations in answer to this, 1. This is no more than what Iulian did restrain, as the place cited before, cleareth; and certainly, he who ruleth for Christ▪ will no [...] think his example a good pattern. 2. This is that which heathens do out of meer respect to themselves: and shall Christian Magistrates have no respect to Christ but to themselves? o [...], do no more for Christi­anity▪ than heathens who owned it not? 3. Is i [...] possible to separate growth in delusions and variety of absurd errours, and civil faction and discord? o [...], in experience have they ever been separated? We se [...] [Page 257] they made men carnall in Corinth, they made them bite and devour one another in Galatia, as, chap. 5. of that Epistle to them; yea, provoked to d [...]bates, envying, wraths, strifes, back-bitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults, 2 Cor. 12. 20. and can such things be with the entertaining of civil peace? For, doth not the interruption of civil p [...]ace, flow from hatred, bit­ternesse, alienation of mind, envy contradictions, and such like? And do not these necessarily wait on del ates, and diversities of opinions? For, it is not to be [...]upposed, that such differences, proc [...]eding from want of light, can be in men that are altogether mortified, and without corruption: Therefore may it be expected, that that corruption will flam out up­on such occasions; and that order is observable which the Apostle hath, 2 Cor. 12. just now cited, where he beginneth with debates, and proceedeth by diverse steps, till it close with tumults: and these who are ac­quainted with the Histories of older and latter times, will acknowledge this to be a truth. 4. There is al­most but very little in the foregoing particulars men­tioned, but what is necessary for the preserving and restoring of civil peace, or the preventing or censur­ing of the disturbance thereof, s [...]ing there can be no solid ground whereupon to maintain peace, except the springs of debates and tumults be stopped, and such distempers from which they spring, be either cured and purged away, or restrained. 5. It may be considered in experience, if ever such a way hath done good to the Church, (whose divisions and of­fences have often thereby come to an height) or to these that were seduced, seing thereby not only the tentation was armed against them, but they, at least, permitted to harden themselves therein, as in a thing not so gross to wise States-men, as some conceitie Mi­nisters would make it to appear: O [...] in the last place, it may be considered, if ever it hath done good to the State, wherein it was permitted, or to the Magistrates [Page 258] who did permit the same; or, if thereby secret jea­lousies, heart▪ burnings, divisions and factions have not been fostered and brought up to such height as hath proven dangerous to the body, and hath haz­arded the eating out of the belly, where it was bred, or the stinging of the bosome that did give it heat.

CHAP. XV. What is called-for from people who are desirous to keep themselves pure in such a time and case as the increasing of errours and seducers.

IT resteth now, that we speak something of a peo­ples duty, that are members of the Church where such delusions are vented: in speaking to which, we shall follow almost the same method as in the former.

1. Then, people would be affected upon the ap­pearance of such an ill, as upon the news of sword, famine or pestilence; for then, as it were, the trum­pet soundeth like that Angels proclamation, Rev. 8. 13. Wo, wo, wo to the inhabitants of the earth, be­cause of the Angels that are to sound, when as yet all these Angels did principally forwarn of spirituall plagues, and particularly of delusions. This would make people wary and serious; this would curb va­nity, mocking, laughing and puffing-up; this would make him that standeth, take heed lest he fall, if the judgement were considered as a thing coming from God, and evidencing Him to be angry, and to threa­ten: and without this, there is little ground to expect profiting by any other direction.

2. People would be seriously affected with the fal­ling or hazard of the falling of any they hear of, as being touched with zeal for God, and sympathie with them, and for this cause, would humble themselves [Page 259] before God to deprecate that stroak and plague as they would do sword, famine or pestilence.

3. People would try in what tearms themselves are with God, and if things inwardly be in good case, if there be any guiltinesse procuring, or disposing for the same plague, such as little love to the truth, little study of the knowledge of the truth, little zeal against errour, or simpathy with infected Churches that are at a distance, laughing, it may be, at such things without any other use making thereof, little prayer for others, or exhorting or admonishing of them, (which is a mean for preventing of unstedfastnesse) little indea­vour, according to mens places, to have others in­structed, or to have faithfull▪ able, and godly Mini­sters for that end; but, it may be, on the contrary, much spiritual pride, self-conceitednesse, tenacious­nesse, and addictednesse to our own wills and opini­ons, prejudice at able and faithful Teachers, and rea­dinesse to hear every thing, and every person. These, and such like, may be tried, and when found, ought to be mourned for, as causes of humiliation to them for their accession to such a plague.

4. They would endeavour the strengthening and confirming of themselves in the knowledge of neces­sary Truths, and would exercise themselves in the practice of uncontroverted Godlinesse, and, by all means, would eschew jangling debates in unnecessary things, knowing that that is a piece of the enemies subtility, once to engage, if it were but in the meanest thing; for, thereby he doth not only divert from more necessary things, and weareth away livelinesse, but doth dispose for greater things, as was formerly marked in his method of dealing: For, as in corrupt practices, men are not at first brought to an height of prophanity, but by degrees; So is it in corrupt do­ctrines: and therefore there is warinesse called-for here in debating or questioning the meanest Truth, if any Truth be mean.

[Page 260]5. If any thing be really doubted of, means would be used in a sober prudent way for attaining infor­mation, either by providing and reading of some fit Book, wherein often reasons are more deliberate and full, and may be more deliberately studied and di­gested than in a transient discourse; but in this, spe­cial respect would be had to a right choice, and for that cause the judgments of such as are sound and able to discern, would be followed in this; or, where God giveth occasion, it may be done in sober and christian conference with others of ability and inte­grity, especially with Ministers, who ought neither to decline, nor rashly misconstruct the same, but af­fectionatly and tenderly to welcom any such sober persons, lest they be provoked to consult with others, who may prove Physicians of no value. In this, people would not expresse their doubts in all compa­nies at random, nor to, or before, such as may possibly more easily take up the doubt, and with more diffi­culty be brought off; when therefore such a doubt is to be moved, the party and the time would be deli­beratly chosen, that men may be serious therein, and no doubt, would be moved for debate, but either such as the mover can himself loose, or in such company where he may expect to have it loosed.

6. People would endeavour exceedingly to have good esteem of their Ministers and Guides, and to be diligent and reverent observers of all Ordinances, especially at such a time; for, Ministers are Guides, Heb. 13. 17. And Ordinances are appointed to keep people from being staggered, Eph. 4. 11, 12, 13, 14. and it is to such that the Bride is directed, to wit, to keep near the shepherds tents, for being preserved from wandering, Song 1. 9. And the more that the devil driveth to bear-in prejudice at Ministers, and blast the Ordinances in their repute, the more are people to wrestle against that, and, in some respect, to be more blind and deaf to what may be seen and heard [Page 261] concerning Ministers faults, not so much for the Mi­nisters respect, as their own good: Therefore the Apostle giveth this reason for his pressing of obedi­ence and submission to Ministers, Heb. 13. 17. be­cause the want of that, was not only prejudicial to the Minister, but unprofitable to themselves.

7. People would have an eye upon the way that faithfull and eminently godly men have gone to Hea­ven by, before them; This is to follow the foot-steps of the flock, Song. 1. 9. and the faith and patience of those that inherit the promises, Heb. 6. 12. and readi­ly we will find such to be most sober and serious, and farthest at a distance from novelty, curiosity, or ab­surd opinions. And it's no little part of the boldnesse and impudency that often accompanieth new delu­sions, that they generally condemn the generation of Gods People, as if no way were to Heaven but by their vain inventions, this will be no little stick to a tender mind, at once to condemn the Religion and practice of such a cloud of witnesses.

8. They would be carefull when they hear others questioning things, or expressing their p [...]judice at Ministers, Ordinances, or established Truths, to en­deavour the present stopping of the same, and not to foster any thing of that kind by moving new doubts, suspicions, or giving new grounds of jealousie against Ministers or others, but rather would gravely and wisely endeavour the removing of the same.

9. They would then be much and serious in the exercise of christian fellowship, observing or consi­dering one another, provoking one another, and, as the word is, Heb. 10. 24. and 3. 12, 13. taking heed, lest there be amongst them an evil heart of unbelief, and lest any of them be hardened: but, exhort (saith he) one another daily, as the remedy of that. There is no time wherein christian fellowship is more called­for, and wherein it may be more profitable, than at such a time, if it be rightly ordered and managed: I [Page 262] say, rightly ordered and managed; for, often the pre­text of christian fellowship is abused to the hatching and propagating of the most absurd opinions, when people turn light and frothy, taking up their time with vain janglings and diverting from the main scope, to wit, edification. These things are indeed to be shunned, but christian fellowship is not to be disclaimed, but wisely to be ordered in respect of the persons with whom, and occasions upon which it is used, and, in respect of the matter and duties insisted on, which is to be the confirming of themselves in some truth, faithfull freedom in admonishing one an­other of what is wrong, serious endeavour to keep repentance, humility, self-denial, and the like graces, fresh; These and such like things are good and pro­fitable to men, when gravely, singly, faithfully, ten­derly and inoffensively followed.What is their duty in refe­rence to the persons infe­cted, and if they ought to refrain from their com­pany.

In respect of persons infected, the peoples duty may be considered in these steps, 1. As they are to be af­fected with their fault, and to pray for their recovery. 2. As they have occasion, to testifie their dislike of their way▪ 3. Such as are noted or known to be instrumental in the carrying-on of novelties, ought by all means to be shunned. As, 1. their company and fellowship is to be avoided, Rom. 16. 17, 18. Men are to beware of them, Matth. 7. Philip. 3. 2. Se­condly, They are not to receive such into their house, nor to give them a salutation, or bid them God-speed, 3 Epistle of Iohn, ver. 10. They are to have no com­pany with them, 2 Thess. 3. 14. We conceive there is no duty that is more pressingly urged upon the People of God, both in the Old and New Testament, as may be clear by considering, not only the fore-cited places, but many other places of Scripture, especially that place, Prov. 19. 27. Cease, my son, to hear the instructi­on [that causeth] to erre from the words of knowledge. And there is this double reason for it, 1. There is no­thing conduceth more to preserve those that are intire; [Page 263] For, it is hard to walk upon fire, and not be burnt, Prov. 7. 27, 28. and the experience of not a few con­firmeth this; for, many had not declined, had they keeped distance even from the garments that were so defiled and infected; and it's a hearing of such in­struction that causeth to erre from the way of under­standing. 2. There is nothing more usefull to con­vince the persons infected, and to make them asha­med; which is another reason why the Lord doth command this. And we may adde, that there is nothing that doth more evidence respect to God, and reverencing of Him; and nothing that is more be­coming a sinner, that is sensible that he hath corrup­tion, than that he standeth in aw to come near a seen tentation; For, God is jealous, and will not abide mens hazarding of themselves to be carried a whoring from Him: and men are not free of corruption, and so readily are capable of what is corrupt. It may be that people do think that there is no ill and hazard in trying any thing, that so, proving all things, they may hold fast what is good; and also, that it may be Mi­nisters fearing the diminishing of their own particular respect, that doth make them presse this, and that it proceedeth from their carnall passion; But such would consider,

1. If our blessed Lord Jesus, and His Apostles, did restrain people from any due liberty, when they ex­presly prohibit their companying with such, and hearing of such, especially where it is done pur­posely, usually and deliberatly. And, we suppose, that there is scarce a direction in reference to any particular in the Word more frequently, weightily, and peremptorily pressed than this, as the places al­leaged do clear.

2. They [...] consider, if our blessed Lord Jesus, or the Apostles, had any fear of losing their respect, or of inability to maintain their point against any Se­ducers; yet do they presse this themselves, and com­mand [Page 264] and charge other Ministers after them, to presse this also upon their hearers.

3. They would consider, if these (to wit, our blessed Lord and the Apostles) did foster carnal pas­sion, whileas yet they so pressed the people, and did reprove the suffering of such to continue in fellow­ship; Yea also▪ they di [...] so practise it themselves, the Church-history recordeth, that the Apostle Iohn ha­ving entered a Bath, where the heretick Cerinthus was, he did immediatly in hast go out, professing fear to be ruined with him, if he should continue un­der the same roof.

4. They would consider, if the meaning of such places, as, Prove all things, Try the spirits, be such as necessitates folks to give hearing unto every novelty. For, 1. that is not possible, that every person should enquire and put to trial every errour and every opi­nion. 2. Th [...] people are not in capacity to do so. 3. This directly crosseth the letter and scope of the former precepts, which were given even then, when this command of proving all things, was given. It must be understood therefore, as agreeing therewith, and to point-out that no doctrine should be admit­ted without proof, upon the trust of any bearer, but ought to be tried, if it be the Word of God, as the Be­reans did, Act. 17. but it doth not allow them posi­tively to try every thing, especially how grosse so­ever it be, without trial, though it command them not to admit any thing without proof.

Further, a main part of the peoples duty is to con­cur in their places, for countenancing and adding weight unto the respective Sentences, and steps, which are called-for from Ministers in their stations: As, 1. to contribute what clearnesse they [...]an for the dis­covery and triall of such persons. To add their testimony to the truth, and thereby to make the means of conviction the more weighty to them. 3. By evidencing of their dislike of the persons obstinacy, [Page 265] and their acknowledgement of the justice and neces­sity of drawing forth further Sentences against them. 4. In shunning of their company, abstaining from familiarity, and otherwayes, to expresse their indig­nation against their way. 5. In carrying to them ac­cordingly as they are Sentenced, that so they may ra­tifie the same, and in their place, endeavour the mak­ing of it weighty, and eff [...]ctuall upon the persons, that thereby, they being made ashamed, may the more readily be humbled, and turned therefrom. And people are by all means to shun such familiarity, especially with Excommunicate persons, as may lessen the weight of their Sentence, or mar their being ashamed, which indeed will make people guilty of despising the Ordinance of Christ, and obstructing the fruit thereof unto a brother, and also make them­selves obnoxious to Censure, as being scandalous by so doing.

CHAP. XVI. What further duty is required of private Profes­sors towards Hereticks that are cut off.

IF it be asked, What duty further is called-for from private persons towards a person cut off?

Answ. I suppose these things are called-for,

1. Abstinence from unnecessary civil fellowship, as, not to frequent their company, to visit them, to dine or sup with them, or to have them dining or supping with us, or to use such familiarity in such things, as useth to be with others, or possibly hath been with them: So it is, 1 Cor. 5. and it is no lesse the peoples duty to carry so, that it may be a mean for their edification, than proportionally it is the Mi­nisters duty to instruct, passe Sentence, &c.

2. Their would be an abstinence from Christian fellowship, that is, we would not pray with them, [Page 266] read or confer of spirituall purposes, (purposly at least) nor do any such thing that belongeth to Chri­stian-communion, that is, to reject him in that sense from Christian fellowship, and to account him as an heathen man or publican. In this respect, we cannot walk with an excommunicate man, as we may walk with other Christians; And, in the first respect, we cannot walk with them, as we may walk with other heathens, that, it may be, are guilty of as grosse sins upon the matter; for, the Word of the Lord, putteth this differeece expresly between them and these who are simply heathens, 1 Cor. 5.

3. Yet even then prayer may be made for them; for, excommunication is no evidence, that a person hath sinned the sin against the holy Ghost; or, that their sin is a sin unto death, and their necessities, if they be in want, may and should be supplied, be­cause they are men, and it is naturall to supply such; they may be helped also against unjust violence, or from any personall hazard, if they fall in it; and as occasion offereth, folks may give a weighty serious word of admonition unto them, and such like, be­cause by such means, the end of the Sentence and its weight are furthered, and not weakened.

4. These that are in naturall relations, ought to walk in the duties of them, as Husbands and Wives, Parents and Children, Masters and Servants, Magi­strates and Subjects, &c. for, what nature bindeth, the Church doth not loose.

5. Men may follow civil businesse, as paying or exacting payment of debts, buying or selling, and may walk in such things as are requisit for humane fellowship and society, because, though Church Censures be to humble and shame men, by bearing in on them their sinfulnesse, yet it is not to undo them, and simply to take away a being from them.

6. Yet all these things would be done with them in such a manner, As, 1. the persons may shew their in­dignation [Page 267] at their way, even when they expresse ten­dernesse to their persons. 2. It would be done in a different manner from what useth to be with others, not under such a Sentence, that so they may bear out their respect to the Sentence, even when they shew respect to them. Therefore, there would not be such frequencie in medling with such persons, nor would it be with familiarity or many words, and long dis­courses to other purposes, nor with laughing, and with such chearfulnesse, intimacie or complacencie, as is used with others. But, in a word, the businesse would be done, and other things abstained from. 3. When, what is necessary is past, except it be on necessity, folks would not eat or drink with them at the time of doing their businesse, or after the closing of the same; because that doth not necessarily belong to them as men, and by so doing, the due distance would not be keeped; and this is the great practick, so to carry to them as the weight of the Sentence be not lessened, nor they prejudged of what otherwayes is necessary to their being, but that so every opportu­nity may be taken, whereby their edification may be advanced.

If what is before said, be considered, We suppose there will be no great need to add arguments to pro­voke either Ministers or others to be zealous in pro­secuting their respective duties; Yet these few consi­derations may be taken notice of, and pondered to this purpose,Some Consi­derations to provoke Mi­nisters and others to the faithful dis­charge of their duty in all the fore­mentioned particulars.

1. That scarcely hath delusion, though never so grosse, ever broken in into a Church, and for a time been forborn, but it hath carried away many there­with, and hath proven exceedingly inductive to much sin, offence, reproach, division, bitternesse and ills of all sorts into the Church of Christ: Very little acquain­tance with the History of the Church, will put this out of question.

2. Consider that this spirit of delusion, is in a spe­cial [Page 268] manner fore-prophesied of, to have a great revi­ving and strength in the latter dayes; it is said, 1 Tim. 4. 1. That the Spirit speaketh expresly, That in the last times, some shall depart from the faith: And why is that expresly added, but to give warning the more clearly, that men may be at their duty? Again, 2 Tim. 3. 1. This know, that in the last dayes, peril­lous times shall come. It is the observation of a ho­ly and learned man, that in this place, it is the last dayes; in the former, the last times, as if this did re­late to a time nearer the end of the world: and so the first looketh to the Popish superstitions and abomi­nations, (and indeed, the nature of the Doctrines there reproved, doth seem to favour this) and this last place doth relate to the grosse delusions, that un­der the pretext of the form of godlinesse, were to suc­ceed to these; And therefore men, according to their places, ought in these times to be so much the more watchfull and zealous, s [...]ing the Trumpet hath given so distinct a sound.

3. The dreadfull effects which such ills necessarily bring with them, may be considered; it is not ruine to bodies or estates, but to souls; it is not simply to sin, and to permit that, but its rebellion; and which is more, It is to teach rebellion, and to carry on the same with a high hand against God; and what will stir zeal for God, or what will waken love to, and sympathie with, the souls of others, if this do not?

4. It would be considered, how often zeal, dili­gence and faithfulnesse of men in their several places (as hath been laid down) have proved exceeding helpfull for preventing and restraining the growth of such evils, so that thereby such a [...]loud hath been dryed up, as it is Rev. 12. which otherwayes might have drowned the Woman and her seed; and, Matth. 13. it is marked, that such tares are sown and spring up, not while men are watchfull and diligent, but while they sleep and are defective in their duty, [Page 269] ver. 25. for, diligence in the use of means, hath the blessing promised which others cannot expect; and if wrath be come to such an height, as the Lord will not be intreated in that matter, yet the per­son that is diligent may look for his own soul for a prey, and to be kept on his feet in the midst of ten­tations.

5. It may be a provocation to humility and watch­fulnesse, to consider how great men have been car­ried away with the most vile delusions: the Church of Corinth did abound in most eminent gifts, yet cor­rupt teachers wanted not influence upon them. The Church of Galatia hath been most singularly zealous and tender, yet what an height delusion came to amongst them, is evident, so that they were bewitched therewith, Galat. 3. 1. In Church-history also it is evident, that most eminent men have been carried away with the vainest delusions: that great Light, Tertullian, became tainted exceedingly with the delu­sions of the Montanists: and after-times have letten us see, that the eminentest of men are capable of de­fection; and even Stars are often made to fall from heaven by such storms.

6. It is dreadfull also to consider how difficultly men are recovered from these delusions. It's a rare thing to find in Scripture, or in History, any obser­vable recovery of a person that hath slipped in this kind. Sometimes indeed persons, that through fear have been brought to deny Christ, or to countenance Idolatry in a particular act, are marked with much tendernesse and satisfaction to acknowledge their fail­ing, and to abandon it; for, often such a failing is the fruit of some surprizal, and is of infirmity; but the recovery of a person, who hath with a kind of deli­beration drunken-in errour and rejected convictions, is a most rare thing, and hath a peradventure added thereto, 2 Tim. 2. 23. (as was formerly marked) which will not readily be found in any other case; yea, of­ten [Page 270] such persons do wax worse and worse, and one de­lusion draweth-on another till it come to the greatest height of absurdity.

PART IIII. Concerning Scandalous Divisions.

CHAP. I. How heresie, schism and division differ, together with the several kinds of division.

HAving now come this length, there is one thing of nigh concernment to what is past, which possibly might be usefull to be en­quired into, Concerning such scandals as cannot be called in the former sense doctrinall, not yet personall; because there may be purity in the one, and regularity and orderlinesse in the other re­spect, and yet actually there may be a scandal and an offence or occasion of stumbling lying in the way of many, and that is, by schisms and divisions in the Church, or amongst the people of God. This weThe intro­duction. confesse is no lesse difficult to speak to, than any of the former, because there is often more that can be said for both sides, and the side from whence the offence riseth, is not so easily discernable, which maketh, that we are the more unwilling and lesse confident to un­dertake to speak any thing in reference thereto; Yet seing we have in providence been led to the former purposes, without any previous design; and now, having this occuring to us, before we close, we shall endeavour shortly to speak a word in reference there­to, in a generall abstracted manner, without descend­ing to any particulars, which may be dangerous to [Page 271] be touched upon; but shall give some generall hints concerning the same, which we are induced unto up­on these considerations,

1. Because such divisions are as really scandalousThe scandal and hurtful­nesse of di­visions. and hurtfull to the Church, as either scandals in pra­ctice or doctrine are. 2. Because the Word of God hath as fully discovered and abundantly condemned the offensivenesse of this, as of any of the former. 3. Because there is such a connexion amongst these sorts of scandals, that often one is not without the other. Hence we see, 1. that contention and offences and the wo that followeth them, are joyned together, Matth. 18. 1, 2, 3, &c. 2. Divisions and corrupt doctrine, or heresies, are knit together, 1 Cor. 11. 18, 19. so that seldome there is corrupt doctrine, but it hath division with it; and never is division, but it hath offence, As in the Epistles to these of Corinth and Galatia is clear: Hence dogs and evil workers, that is, the spreaders of corrupt doctrine, are also called the concision, Phil. 3. 1, 2, &c. and in experi­ence we often find, that a spirit of division waiteth upon delusion, and oftentimes doth take up and pre­vail, even over those who have been preserved from the delusion; As in a great storm, some places have great and dreadfull blasts and drops, who yet may be keeped free from the violence of the tempest; Even so, this deluge of errour, hath showrs of divisi­ons waiting upon it, which often may affect these who are preserved from the violence of delusion it self; which maketh, that the speaking something to this, doth not impertinently follow upon the former. 4. Because if this be wanting, what is said in the former cases, is palpably defective, especially at such a time, when there is no lesse cause to observe this evil, than any of the former. This being, as to them, in some respect a cause that bringeth them forth and fo­stereth them, and, in some respect, an effect which necessarily and naturally followeth upon them: for, [Page 272] divisions breed both scandals in practice and do­ctrine; And again, scandal in these, doth breed and entertain divisions.

2. What we would say, shall be drawn to theseThe heads of the ensuing part of the Treatise. four heads. 1. To consider what division is, or of what sort it is, which is properly to be spoken of here. 2. What are the causes which do breed and foster the same. 3. What are the evil effects which ordinari­ly flow from it. 4. What may be thought to be du­ty in reference to such a time, and what may be looked upon as suitable remedies of such a distemper.

For the first, We take it for granted, that there is such a thing as division in the Church; which is not to be looked upon as any new or strange thing; for, the Scripture maketh it clear, and the History of the Church putteth it out of question: Concerning which we may premit these few things,

1. That the division which is intended here, is not every contest, and alienation of mind, and diffe­rence of practice incident to men; but that which is proper to the Church concerning Church affairs, and so is to be distinguished from civil debates and con­tentions. We would advert also, that there may be Church differences that fall not under the charge of Scandal, as when in some things, men of conscience are of different judgements, yet carry it without any offence or breach of charity; Or, when in some practices there is diversity with forbearance, as was in Policarpus dayes, and the time of Iraeneus (about Easter matters) These we speak not unto. 2. Al­though sometimes titles and expressions may be used more generally and promiscuously; yet, in this dis­course, we would distinguish between these three, Heresie, Schism and Division, without respect to what otherwayes useth to be done.

And, first, Heresie, is some errour in doctrine, andWhat here­sie is. that especially in fundamentall doctrine, followed with pertinacie, and endeavour to propagate the [Page 273] same. Again, Schism may be where no heresie in doctrine is, but is a breaking of the union of the Church, and that communion which ought to be amongst the Members thereof, and is either in Go­vernment or Worship. As, first, in Government, when the common Government, whereto all ought to be subject, is rent, and a Government distinct, set up. This may be, either when the Government is altered▪ as, suppose some should set up Episcopacy in op­positionWhat schism is, and the kinds thereof. to Presbytery, yet keeping still the funda­mentall truths; Or it may be, where the same Go­vernment is acknowledged, but there be difference concerning the persons to whom the power doth be­long; so, sometimes men have acknowledged Pope­ry, yet followed diverse Popes; So often, Sectaries have not disclaimed Councils and Bishops, but have set up their own, and refused subjection to these to whom it belonged. The first kind implieth a do­ctrinall errour concerning Government; The second may consist with the same principles of Government, but differeth in the application of them, and becom­eth a schism, when men act accordingly in acknow­ledging diverse supream Independent Governments: Because so, when there ought to be but one Church, it becometh, as it were, two: and this is exclaimed against, and regrated by the Fathers, under the ex­pression of erecting altare contra altare, that is, altar against altar, whenas the Lord allowed but one, even in reference to His own worship. 2. Schism may be in worship, that is, when, it may be, both the same Doctrine and Government is acknow­ledged, yet there is not communion keeped in Church­ordinances, as in Prayer, Word and Sacraments; but a separate way of going about these is followed. It seemeth, that this was in part the schism of the Corinthians (whatever was the rise thereof) that they had a divided way of communicating, and of going about other duties, and other Ordinances, as may be [Page 274] gathered from 1 Cor. 11. 18, 19, 20, 21. with 33. This kind of schism hath been frequent in the Church, and hath flowed not so much from dissatisfaction with the Doctrine and Government thereof, as with the constitution of the Members, or failings of the Governours. Thus it was in the case of the Novati­ans, Donatists, Meletians, Cathari and others, of whom it is recorded, that their fault did not consist in setting up any strange Doctrine▪ or in rejecting of the truth (at least at the first) but in breaking the band of communion, as Augustine hath it often; for, saith he, ‘Schismaticos facit non diversa fides sed communionis disrupta societas’, contra Faustum, lib. 20. Again, he saith of the Donatists, Ad Bonifac. Epist. 50. Nec de ipsa fide vertitur quaestio, sed de sola communione infaeli­citer litigant, & contra unitatem Christi rebell [...]s inimici­ti [...]s, perversitate sui erroris, exercent. And this sort of schism doth often draw with it the former, there being no way to maintain this without the other. Of this schism there are many kinds, according to its seve­ral rises and degrees; and also, according as it extend­eth to the breaking of communion in whole, from Ordinances, or in part only from some, or in some Ordinances, as appeareth to have been in the Church of Corinth, where there hath not been a totall schism, though it hath been in that Ordinance of the Supper especially; and it is like also, that that schism hath been occasioned, because of the corruption of some members, with whom others have scared to commu­nicate; and therefore have not tarried for them: for, the Apostle doth particularly condemn this, and ex­hort them to tarry one for another; and to attain this, he doth clear them of what was necessary for right partaking, to wit, the examining of themselves, ver. 28. and doth declare unto them, that who so did eat unworthily, and did not prepare himself, did eat and drink damnation; but to himself, and not to others: wherefore, saith he, ye need not be so anxiously soli­citous [Page 275] how they be prepared, or of what sort they be that are with you, but examine your selves, and tar­ry one for another, that there be not a schism amongst you. And this he speaketh, even when he hath been reproving drunkennesse among the Communicants, yet will he not admit that as an excuse, why private persons should Communicate separatedly, which was their practice. This was spoken of in the first part.

This Schism, however it be understood, hath ever proven exceeding hurtfull to the Church, and hath been an inlet and nursery to the greatest errours; It is most pressingly condemned in the Scriptures, even with as great weight as corrupt doctrine and heresie are, and it is attributed to that same originall, to wit, the flesh, with witchcraft, idolatry, heresie, &c. Gal. 5. 20. It hath ever been most weighting to faith­full Ministers, most offensive to people of all sorts, most advantageous to the enemies of the truth, and hath made the Church most vile and contemptible before the world, as we may see in the sad complaints and writings of the Fathers, in reference to the Nova­tians, Donatists and others of that kind: It hath also proven most dangerous to these who have been en­gaged therein, and often hath been a snare to bring on some spiritual desertion, deadness of spirit, security, self­confidence, or some other spirituall evils of that kind, or to dispose for receiving a more grosse tentation, as was formerly marked. Also, it may be observed, that such schisms have spread very suddenly in some places of the world, but have not been easily re­moved; for, these schisms of the Novatians and Do­natists did trouble the Church for severall generations, which might be enough to make men think the breach of unity, in that respect, to be no little evil, and to make them fearfull to fall in the same. But because every schism properly doth imply some errour in doctrine, although it doth not arise from the same, [Page 276] therefore we shall forbear to speak any thing particu­larly to this, because what hath been said of errours in doctrine, may in part be applyed here: For, we will find, that schism doth imply one, or all of those. 1. That such apprehended corruptions do either make such a society to be no Church, or communion with that Church in other Ordinances, to be unlaw­full because of such corruptions, or of such corrupt members. 2. That there may be a distinct erected Church beside a Church, which yet may not be of communion with that other Church. 3. These or such consequences, that either the Church of Christ in the earth is not one, (which truth of the unity of the Catholick visible Church, is the main ground of all Church-union and communion) Or, that that one Church may be of such heterogeneous or dissi­milary parts, as the one of them ought not to have communion with the other; Or, at least this, that a person ought to seek his own satisfaction and con­solation, though to the prejudice and renting of the Church, and to the generall offence and stumbling of all others; The fairest schism and separation, must imply one of these: for, it cannot be conceived, that otherwayes men would act so directly, according to these principles, if they did not take them for granted.

It is to be adverted, that as there is an unjust schism, that is, a separation without any cause at all; so there is a rash and scandalous schism, that is, when it is beyond the ground given; or, when the ground given, is not such as will warrant such a separation: Which may be, 1. when the separation or schism is upon some occasion which is indeed a defect in the Church, but not such as doth make communion therein sinfull, as that in Corinth. Or, 2. when, it may be, the schism is extended beyond the ground, that is, when sup­pose one could not communicate in the Lords Supper in such a Church, because of some sinfull corruption [Page 277] in that Ordinance, if, upon that occasion, one should separate from communion in all Ordinances, that were to exceed the ground given. Or, 3. when no professed schism is owned; yet when really and in­deed it is practised, so as men can neither justifie a schism, or separation upon such a ground, nor yet altogether vindicate their practice from inferring the same, in which respect, the schism and rent floweth from affection, or inclination, and not from well grounded light, or reason, and so cannot be but rash and unwarrantable. 4. It may be, in the manner, precipitant, when either means have not been used to remove that ground if it be just; or, when men so heighten some lesser defect in a Church by aggreging it with such circumstances, as may make it appear to themselves or others, a ground sufficient to bear and warrant separation; or, in such a way, to vent their dissatisfaction with things, or persons, as thereby to hurt the unity of the Church, or to occasion a rent, or division, or schism in the same, when▪ it may be, others beside their intention may thus conclude, A Church so corrupted, &c. is not to be keeped com­munion with, (and, it may be, the proposition is sound and so qualified, as it is acknowledged by all Divines) But this or that particular Church is such. This again, is offered to be made out by the too vehe­ment aggravation of some lesser defect, which may seem to confirm that assumption: and in practice, it may be observed, that as some will lay down pre­misses concerning a schism, who yet dare not act ac­cording to the conclusion, and actually separate, So others will keep the conclusion, and actually separate in practice, who yet durst not in Thesi absolutely maintain schism to be lawfull upon such a ground. It is to be adverted, that schisms and divisions are so nigh in nature and names, that we may use instances for illustration of either promiscuously.

The third word, is Division, which doth not at [Page 278] the first view differ from Schism; yet we do take it here as different, and to agree to such Divisions and Dissentions in the Church as are consistent with com­munion both in Government and Worship, and have not a divided Government or Worship follow­ing them, as in the former case. Of such there are many instances in Scripture and Church-history, as we may observe by considering these Distinctions thereof. 1. There is a Doctrinal Division, as whenWhat is here meant by the word Division. the matter is not fundamental, nor yet is it pleaded­for as such, to the breaking off of communion amongst these that differ, yet possibly being a meer indiffe­rent matter, is followed with too much eagernesse, vehemency bitternesse. &c. by these who owne theThe seve­rall kinds thereof. same respectively. Thus contentions were hot in the primitive times for meats, and such things which were neither of themselves destructive to the foundation of Faith on either side, at least in that time, and so were not heretical; nor did they break off com­munion in Church-ordinances, and so were not schismatical; yet was the Church troubled there­with by division amongst her members. Of this sort are the divisions that may be amongst godly and orthodox men in some points of Truth, when they too vehemently presse their own opinion to be re­ceived with a kind of necessity, or load the other with too many absurdities beyond what will follow from the nature thereof.

2. There are some Divisions that may be called Practical and do indeed imply some difference of opi­nion, but do also infer somewhat in practice: Of this sort was the division about Easter in primitive times before it came to a schism, some keeping one day, some another. And in after-times it abounded, when some acknowledged the ordination of such a Bishop, and others not; when some acknowledged the authority of such a Council, and others not, and so had divided practices.

[Page 279]3. Some Divisions are betwixt particular men, some have influence upon Churches, and are, as it were, one party against another. The first is more properly a difference, and may be betwixt eminently godly and zealous men, such as was betwixt Paul and Barnabas, Act. 15. 39. and is called a conten­tion. Such also we will find in Church-history be­twixt Augustine and Ierome, Chrysostom and Epipha­neus, which indeed hath a contention with it, and, if the Lord prevent not, is apt to make parties, and to rent the Church; but the other, to wit, the acting of one party against another, as hath been seen in many Councils, and appeareth to have been amongst the Corinthians, when one adhered to one person, and one to another; This, I say, looketh like faction, and is properly division.

4. Division may be considered in all these respects as it is in judgment, or in affection, or in practice. It is in judgment, when they are not of the same mind, but have diverse apprehensions concerning Truths. 2. It is in affection, when upon that difference of judgment alienation followeth, whereby that love, and affection, and charity that one oweth to another, is somewhat cooled or discomposed. 3. It is in practice, when they speak and act differently and op­positly; as if it were an advantage to Truth for the one to crosse and undermine what the other doth: This distinction is clearly insinuated, 1 Cor. 1. 10. I beseech you, brethren, that there be no divisions amongst you; Which is branched-out in union in these three, to wit, speaking the same thing, that relareth to action; Of being perfectly joyned together in the same mind, that relateth to affection; And of being one in the same judgment, that relateth to opinion: which supposeth that there were divisions opposit to all these, which also often go together.

5. There are some Divisions, which (to say so) are negative, and are in the manner and circumstances [Page 280] of doing some duties. Thus men may differ and take diverse wayes, yet both of them be endeavouring the thriving of the work of the Gospel, and no way labouring to crosse each other, or to make one ano­ther lesse weighty and succesful. Thus Paul and Bar­nabas, after their contention, did indeed differ in their manner of prosecuting the work of the Gospel, yet both of them did continue faithfull therein, and nei­ther of them did counter plot nor counteract to others. Again, some divisions are positive (to say so) when men do not only differ from each other, but do op­pose each other, and do not set themselves singly to prosecute the work, which possibly their opposit may be prosecuting with them; but there is an endeavour to lessen the authority and mar the actings of the other, and to engage men in the approbation of that particular wherein they do differ, which savoureth of division and faction properly, and is more hurt­full and intolerable, when as the first is more toler­able amongst men who have their infirmities; and it's like, that such were the divisions of Corinth when there was an endeavour to cry up one, and down another.

6. Some are in doctrine, for difference of judgment; some are in government, for precedency; as some­times was amongst the Disciples, a contest who should be greatest: which is not so much for Go­vernment abstractly, and considered in it self, or about what should be done, as it is for the persons, who should be the governours and doers thereof; as amongst the Disciples, it is not the question, What kind of government shall be? or, What should be the Governours duty? But, who should be chief and have the main hand in ruling?

7. Sometimes Divisions are more stated and deep­ly rooted, when some way mens designs are crosse, though not in the main, yet in the manner of carry­ing them on. Sometimes again, they are more occa­sional, [Page 281] and arise from some particular act or circum­stance, wherein men may differ, and may be when neither side draweth-on a division; So that particu­lar of taking or not taking Iohn Mark in the com­pany, was the occasion of that contention and divi­sion betwixt Paul and Barnabas, Act. 15. when other­wayes there was an harmony in the series and strain of their whole way.

8. Sometimes Divisions are betwixt godly and orthodox men upon the one side, and corrupt men upon the other; as were the divisions of the Church with the Arian Hereticks, and others of that nature. Sometimes again, they are amongst godly and ortho­dox men on both sides, and this is a main ingredient in, and aggravation of, the scandal of Division, when it is amongst Christ's own Disciples; and this is that which we would especially speak to: Concerning which we say,

1. That there is such a thing incident to the ChurchDivision among the Godly. as division amongst godly, able, and orthodox men, as betwixt Paul and Barnabas, Act. 15. The Disciples of Christ and the disciples of Iohn; yea, oftentimes betwixt the Disciples of Christ amongst themselves. And afterward the instances of Augustine and Ierome, Chrysostom and Epiphaneus, with many others of later times, do demonstrat it. In the Old Testament we find Iob and his friends keeping up a long dispute right sharply. And, Numb. 12. something is recorded of a division between Moses, Aaron and Miriam.

2. This Division may continue long, and come toIt may con­tinue long, and come to a great height. a great height, that is, it may be very sharp, although it may be the rise thereof be small; for, contentions are, as the letting out of waters, Prov. 17. 14. and they often grow, even amongst good men, so as to provoke much sharpnesse against each other, and that with much confidence, as the instances given do clear.

3. Though it be frequent to them to come to an [Page 282] height, yet they are not easily removed, even amongst the best; This being true, Prov. 18. 19. That a bro­ther offended, is harder to be won than a strong city, and that their contentions are as the bars of a castle, they are so strongly rooted. Hence, we see, that there is no breaking off between Iob and his friends▪ till the Lord interpose; there is no composing of the matter be­tween Paul and Barnabas, but their contention con­tinueth so hot, that they must separate; Neither isAnd not ea­sily removed there any thing expresly recorded of their meeting to­gether again, although they had long been of most intimate fellowship as nearest colleagues in their journeying and travelling in the Lords work, and that appointed thereto, even by Himself extraordinarily, Acts 13. It is recorded, that Chrysostome and Epipha­neus did sunder so imbittered one at the other, that Epi­phaneus did wish, That Chrysostome should not die a Bishop: He again did wish, That the other might not see his home, to wit, Cyprus, to which he was then making his voyage; both which accordingly fell out: which is a dreadfull instance of this evil, and looketh like the Lords making use of their passi­on, to signifie His displeasure against both their di­stempers.

CHAP. II. Whence Divisions do arise, and how they are fostered and encreased.

THis division doth frequently arise, and is con­tinued upon very small occasions; for, it is not ordinarily grosse heresies or palpable abo­minations, that do draw godly and learned men to side in the defence thereof, but things of lesser con­cernment; which we will find to be such as these,Various ap­prehensions of inferiour truths.

1. Some various and different apprehensions of truths, that are lesse fundamentall, such as was the de­bates [Page 283] about meats, genealogies, and other questions in the primitive times, concerning which, there was no little jangling even amongst good men; thus is it when Divines presse too hotly some truth, not simply necessary. It cannot be supponed, that all men who yet see but in part should be of that same mind; and the Lord hath left some things, as it were, to be the matter of doubtfull disputations, as the Apostle speak­eth, Rom. 14. 1. and though there be truth upon the one side of every debate, yet considering that that is not alway easily demonstrable, too peremptory de­ciding and pressing of such things, cannot but oc­casion strife.

2. Sometimes it floweth from the mistake of someThe mistake of some dis­pensations. dispensations, and the suspecting of the sincerity and integrity one of another; whereby sometimes men are engaged ere they wit, to maintain their prejudice, and to lay the lesse weight upon light holden forth by others, It was thus with Iobs friends, who, mis-in­terpreting Gods hand upon him, and concluding un­charitably of his state, are brought to maintain an unwarrantable These for making out of their point.

3. It may arise from different apprehensions aboutDifferent apprehensi­ons about some persons and things. some persons, or from a different manner of doing the same thing, or from the use-making of different persons; As when one would have such a man to be a Minister, another doth not think him worthy; When one doth think such a man deserveth not to be a Minister, and another thinketh that he doth; when such different thoughts about persons, means or man­ner of doing things, (which are incident to the best of men) are followed with different actings accord­ingly, and none doth cede to another, then necessari­ly followeth contention and division▪ So Paul thought Iohn Mark not meet to be taken to the Mi­nistery again in their company, seing he had left them; Barnabas did think him meet and would have him, whereupon the contention and division fol­lowed. [Page 284] Often also, we find in the Church-history, that good men have divided upon this, that some would ordain such to be Presbyters or Bishops, whom others did not think worthy of that office; and that some would not condemn persons or writings, which others did condemn: for, learned men often think the condemning of a person or doctrine which is owned by them, or the refusing to condemn a per­son or doctrine which they do condemn, to be a re­flection on them, and that therefore they are engaged to deal with such, as with the principall party: It is marked, that the rise of Chrysostome and Epiphaneus their difference, was, That Chrysostome did not so go alongs in the condemning of Origen, and his writ­ings as the other did; and that some of the Clergie of Constantinople had refused the same: whereupon Epiphaneus began in preaching to enveigh against the other, which came to that height that is said. Also, somtimes some have been too favourable constructers of deluders, as if they had been of some honesty, wher­by difference hath grown with others who knew the deceit, As witnesse the first Divisions that were in Phrygia concerning Montanus, because some being simple, and not knowing that prophesie, in an extra­ordinary manner, was laid aside by the Lord, did dispute, that possibly there might be some more than an ordinary thing in his way, and that he might through accesse to God do such things, when as yet they were not infected with his errours: This did breed a schism; when others necessarily behoved to condemn the deeds, and also the persons▪ as not serving the Lord, but their own bellies, Rom. 16. ver. 16 17.

4. It usually ariseth from secret grudges at beingHeart burn­ings at the credit of o­thers. sleighted, or heart-burnings at anothers credit and reputation beyond them, and sometimes indeed, not because of the fact done, but because such persons were the doers thereof, and one way or other springeth [Page 285] from the root of pride, envy, or emulation, which hath many branches whereby it venteth its malignant distempering disposition in sundry shapes. It is in­deed sad that such things should be amongst the Dis­ciples of Christ yet often we see, that this, Who should be the greatest, was a bone of contention among them, especially when some had evidenced their too great pronenesse and inclination to prefer themselves to others; This also had influence upon that muteny which Aaron and Miriam did stir up against Moses, Numb. 12. and it is the Lords word by the wise mouth of Solomon, Only by pride cometh contention.

5. Too much insisting on, and aggreging of theAggreging the infirmi­ties of others infirmities or opinions of others, and loadening and aggreging them with many fearfull consequences, hath much influence upon this, especially where words are wrested beside the intention and sense of the speaker, because such an humour sheweth little love and respect to the person, and by the nature of the work, doth tend to hold him forth as odious, igno­rant, absurd, or some way despicable; which even good men, being but men, are not easily brought to digest. We see this in Iob's friends, who frequently carp at his expressions, and study to aggrege them, which indeed were not alway altogether excusable; yet their scope (at least, in the work) was, to repre­sent them and him much more absurd, than indeed they were. And this was in these debates between Augustine and Ierome, and usually is where such dif­ferences are, as too many reproachfull and bitter differences now in the Church, almost every where, do hold forth.

6. They are occasioned by a carnal and factious­likeA factious vindicating of truth. pleading for, and vindicating even of Truth. Often it is not the matter whereabout godly and learned men debate, that maketh division, (for, there may be difference where there is no division) but it is a carnal manner of prosecuting either side of the [Page 286] difference, even that side whereon the truth doth lye, that doth engender the division; and often, we see men differing about greater points than others do, and yet carrying so as it cannot be called Division. It's marked, 1 Cor. 3. that some were for Paul, some for Apollos, some were for none but Christ; and yet this is counted a side of the faction aswell as any of the other; not because being for Christ is wrong, but because that factiously they walked under that pretext: Which we may take up in these respects, 1. When a man too peremptorily presseth his light upon others, or upon a Church, in a matter that is not fundamental, or necessary, which is condemned, Rom. 14. 22. when men in these debates keep not their faith, or light, to themselves, but do trouble and di­stract others therewith. 2. It is, when men too vehe­mently presse such a thing, as if the contrary there­of, or those who maintain the same, were intolerable; and so in a fiery violent way seek to bear down that which is indeed an errour, though of infirmity. It is marked by some that write Church-history, and Au­gustine is of that same mind, That Stephanus, Bishop of Rome, did more hurt to the Church by his too vehe­ment opposing of Cyprian's errour (which was, That those that were baptized by Hereticks, or Schisma­ticks, ought again to be baptized) because he did therby hazard the dividing and renting of the Church, by refusing communion with such as were against him, than Cyprian did in his maintaining of his er­rour; Because, though it was still his opinion, he did meekly and condescendingly carry in it, with respect to the unity of the Church. 3. This is also, when things are followed with Sentences and Censures onUndue Censures. the opposit opinion, and the abbetters thereof, as if it were a matter of Faith. It's known what influence those Sentences of Victor, Bishop of Rome, had upon renting of the Church, and stating that divisive distinction betwixt the East and West Church, and [Page 287] that for a matter of nothing, to wit, What day of the moneth precisely Easter was to be keeped; and he was for that sharply reproved, even by Iraeneus, who was of that same judgment with him: And many such instances are in History. 4. It is, when in theLeaving the matter and falling upon reflections. prosecution of such things, men leave the matter, and fall on personall reflections, and become bitter in these respects, as to cast-up pride and arrogancy hy­pocrisie, ignorance, heresie, or erroneousnesse▪ or some other personal fault, if any be known or imputed to them or one way or other to sleight them and make them despicable: So Aaron and Miriam murmur against Moses, Numb. 12. that he had married an Ethiopian woman, that he seemed to sleight them, as if God had only spoken by him, and not by them also; Epiphaneus also did upbraid Chrysostom with hypo­crisie; Ierome hugely revileth Vigilantius, whose te­nents seem to be as near truth as his are; so it was between Demetrius and Theophilus, when in the mat­ter of fact, each giveth to other the lie. 5. It is, when the manner of carrying on a thing, is factious, as endeavouring, to make sides and parties under hand, and indirect dealing to engage others in theirEngaging of others. differences, and to stir up men by such means against others: It is like it was so in Corinth, even amongst the people who adhered not to false teachers; It is marked also in that vehement bitter contention that was between Ierome and Ruffinus, that he did endea­vour by all means, to waken hatred against Ieromes person, and to defame his writings more than in any convincing way to make out his point; and yet all this arose from Ierome his alleaging the other to be a favourer of Origens heresie, because he had translated some books of Origens, which was indeed condem­ned by others as being dangerous; yet seing Ruffinus did disclaim these errours, and deny that he approved them▪ there was no such ground to presse him with i [...] ▪ and this became the occasion of that irreconciliable [Page 288] hatred, which was never removed; in which also it is marked, that Ierome doth object to the other, ob­scurity, and harshnesse of stile, adding withall ma­ny other sleighting expressions.

7 It may be by the imprudencie of such as haveToo much liking of some upon fair preten­ces. good affection: As, 1. expressing too much good liking of some corrupt men, because they pretend fairly: Thus the Church was divided in Phrygia for Montanus, because some did too imprudently construct well of him, as if indeed he and his Prophetesses had truly had the gift of prophecy; others again vehe­mently upbraided them for it. 2. It is when things are pressed unseasonably, or in an offensive manner, without respect to the manner of things if they be satisfied in the matter. There followed many divi­sions upon the back of the most famous Councill, (which made Greg. Nazianzen to say, He never de­sired to see many Bishops together) and the Centuria­tors give this reason or occasion, Dum quidam fidem Nicenam imprudenter urgebant, alii eam acriter im­pugnabant.

8. Too much peremptorinesse where there may bePeremptori­ness without condescend­ing. some condescending, hath much hand in this; when men become not all things (so far as is lawfull) unto others. It is marked in the Church-history, That sometimes too tenacious adhering unto Canons and Councils, by some who would not condescend in a syllable, when others did condemn the matter, hath been in this respect prejudicial; Such was the cause of the schism betwixt the East and West Church, and particularly the tenacious adhering in all things, even as to the very manner, to the Council of Chalcedon▪ (which was indeed a famous and orthodox Council in the matter) The former instance cleareth this also.

9. Sometimes this doth come from dissatisfactionDissatisfa­ction about some persons in some particulars of Government, as when some have been displeased that such and such men, formerly cast out, should have been again admitted to com­munion; [Page 289] or, that a person, cast out of communion in one place, hath been admitted in another; This is frequent, as after instances may clear.

10. It is often occasioned by the encroachment ofMutuall encroach­ment. one upon another in the exercise of their power, as to preach, ordain, and such like, within the bounds of others beside, or without their knowledge, or against their will.

11. It hath sometimes arisen from the Churches meddling in extrinsick or unnecessary things; and sel­domeMeddling in extrin­sick things. Church-men have been too much taken up and occupied about such things, but it hath had such a consequent: As when they are too much taken up about ceremonies and things not commanded, as Easter was; or about indifferent things, as the pre­scribing of forms in every thing▪ and such like; Or, about precedency in Government, and what might conduce to the externall splendor of the Church in immunities, priviledges, fabricks, dotations, &c. whereof instances are very many. Or, when Church­men have become too pragmatick in civil things, or affairs of the world, thereby to carry on a temporall grandour in the spirituall Kingdom of Christ; which was often the rise and occasion of difference amongst the Apostles; and although there was scarce accesse to this occasion in respect of practice while Magi­strates were heathens, yet in after times, this is evi­dent; and sundry divisions followed upon such occa­sions, as the approving or condemning of such and such an Emperours Election; the transferring of the Empire from East to West, or from one Family to another.

12. New manner of expressions, or new moulds of the Doctrine of the Gospel, different from what hathNovelty of expressions and noti­ous. been formerly delivered, have given occasion to this; that is, when there is either a new form of speaking, and an affectation of novelty in words▪ different from the form of sound words which Ministers ought [Page 290] to hold fast; or, when things are so proposed, as if all former moulds had been defective, and all other Divines in their Preaching and Writings were no­thing to such. It seemeth that this newfanglenesse of speech had no lesse influence in dividing the Church of Corinth, and begetting factions therein, than the diversity that was in the matter, wherein they are not so generally found guilty, as being carried away with errour, as, of being itched with a humane kind of eloquence in the manner of Preaching. This same also may be in Writtings, and indeed when some cry up one manner or mould, and some others the con­trary, it may breed siding and division, even as well as diversity of Doctrine may do. And it is not for nought that the Lord hath commanded simplicity in the manner, and the holding fast of the form of sound words, even as he hath commanded soundnesse in the matter; and oftentimes there doth arise no lesse tasti­nesse or itching amongst people, nor lesse emula­tion amongst Ministers, from the one than from the other.

CHAP. III. The height of evil that division bringeth.

HAving now seen a little the rises of this evil▪ we may look to the height it hath come to from such beginnings: which we may con­sider in these steps. 1. It engendere [...] heat, strife andHeat and contention. contention; and in that respect, maketh men carnall, 1 Cor. 3. 2. It breedeth alienation in affection, and separateth these in fellowship that have been most in­timate,Alienation as if their companying together had lost that sweetnesse and refreshfulnesse that sometimes it had▪ and thereby even their Christian communion is in­terrupted; both those may be seen in that strange and hot contention, which came to this height be­twixt [Page 291] Paul and Barnabas, Act. 15. 3. It breedeth jea­lousieIealousie. and suspicion of one anothers actions and in­tentions, yea, it may be, of the sincerity of their state: it breedeth envy at one anothers prosperity and re­spect, and maketh them lesse weighted with any crosse or adversity that the other falleth into. Paul is suspected, not only by the false teachers, but even by the professors, to be an enemy to them, and not to be single in his designes amongst them: some have counted others hypocrites, as is before marked. 4. It bringeth forth violent and virulent expressions,Virulent expressions. and reflections upon each other, and greater heat al­most is not to be found than amongst differing Di­vines, that yet do aggree in the main. It is a won­der to read some of the expressions that are betwixt Ierome and Ruffin, and betwixt Demetrius Bishop of Alexandria, and Theophilus Bishop of Ierusalem, with many others; or to consider the sad regrates that Basilius, Gregorius Nazeanzenus, and others, have of these differences; something may be seen of it in the instance of Iob and his friends. And what there is for the present amongst Orthodox Divines abroad, and in this Island, I fear, out of honour to the men, to mention them▪ yet I suppose such things may be read in the Prefaces and Writings of the most emi­nent Divines, as may make the hearts of all to loath such divisions. 5. It hath come to that height, asPersonall reflections. not to spare to publish even personall reflections; yea sometimes, it hath come to that, that men have condem ned deeds in others, after such begun differences, which formerly they did highly commend in them; (thus their estimation & construction of their actions, doth ebb and flow according to their estimation of their persons) It is marked of Demetrius of Alexandria▪ that whiles he and Origen did continue in fellowship▪ he was a great commender of that deed of Origen's, to wit, his gelding of himself while he was young: yet after difference arose betwixt them, upon very [Page 292] mean grounds, (Origen not being come to his grosse­nesse) he did most vehemently object that to him inImprecati­ons and in­stigation of the civill Power. his Writings. 6. Often in hath come that length, that they have imprecated evil to one another, as in the instance of Chrysostom and Epiphanius; sometimes they have informed and most vehemently instigated civil Powers against one another, that they might procure their deposition, banishment, and such like, as Ruffinus did against Ierome, the Clergie at Antioch against Flavianus, and some at Constinople, particularly Severianus, did stir up the Emperour against Chrysostom. 7. Also, it hath been followed in Councels and Sy­nodsSharp cen­sures in­flicted. by the Sentences of Deposition and Excommu­nication, as was frequent in the case of that debate about Easter, and in that debate betwixt Stephanus and Cyprian; Tertullian also was Sentenced upon a prejudice, without just ground; so was Chrysostome deposed even by Bishops that were not heterodox; and many others. 8. It hath extended to divide ChurchesRenting of whole Churches. although it began amongst Ministers▪ and hath come to that height, that they have withdrawn from the communion of one another, and have chosen diffe­rent Bishops and Ministers without communion one with another, or without dependence one upon ano­ther, and yet neither of them have been Hereticks, nor professed Schismaticks, but because of some dis­satisfaction, it may be, with the person, or ordination of such a Minister; or upon some mistake of a par­ticular act of a Councell, even when both did ac­knowledge the same, as particularly is marked to have been betwixt Eustachius of Antioch, and Eusebius of Pamphilia; and again at Antioch in the case of Mi­letus and Paulinus; and again betwixt Flavianus andFurie of their fol­lowers. others; which is marked to be in the fourth Century. 9. It hath extended to great heat and furie, even amongst the followers of each other; whereby much jealousie, heat and dissention hath been occasioned.Furious madness of Divines. 10. In both those there hath been such a fervour, and [Page 293] as it were fury, that there hath been no uptaking nor removing of the same: And although we find diffe­rence to have arisen from little, even amongst good men, yet often we will find that most difficultly it hath been removed, but for many generations it hath continued, when the first authors have been away, and that with very great heat, as almost in all the in­stances given, so that, that sweet and moderate Di­vine Melancthon, did usually call the difference of Divines rabies Theologorum, and at his death did blesse himself, that amongst other sins and miseries he was to be fred from this rabies or furie of Divines, which was evermore sadder to him than any opposi­tion of open adversaries. 11. Usually, it hath di­vertedDiversion of them from their main work. most serious Divines, both from the pressing of piety, and reproving of vice; as also from main­taining of truth against open adversaries, and the pursuing of their errours. Augustine doth complain of this to Ierome, and doth for this end, as it were, crave a cessation; and it cannot be otherwayes, for [...]uch debates do not profit these that are occupied therein. Heb. 13. ver. 9. and when mens edge is hot and sharp against others in such particular differences, it cannot but cool and blunt them in more weighty things, and is no little part of the devils subtilty to make way for errour and profanitie, thus to entangle Ministers. Which occasion he hath ever taken to sow tares, which that great Father and Divine Basi­lius doth condole to this purpose, That while there was concord in every occupation, only in the Church and amongst Ministers there was dissention, and that so hot, that no commiseration of the Flock, which was set upon, and drawn away by perverse men, was prevalent with them, to abstain from such diffe­rences. 12. Hence, it hath followed, that thoughBoth schism and heresie following division. there hath been no considerable difference upon the matter at the first, yet notwithstanding it hath grown and come to a height▪ and that in respect both of [Page 294] Schism and heresie; And it is rare to find in History, that a division hath continued long, but it hath turned to separation in communion, and a Schism; and again, Schism hath not continued long, but it hath brought forth heresie, for divided practices lead men to lay down and maintain such principles as may de­fend them, and the band of unity being broken, there is no stay or hold, because, as that forenamed Father Basilius saith, men take on them then to speak, write, and do as they please. 13. Although sometimes theCommonly both sides faultie, though not equally. fault of division may be more on one side than ano­ther, yet seldom is any side free, at least, in the man­ner of prosecution, and therefore often it turneth in the close to the hurt of both, and the one side becomes more schismaticall and erroneous, at least, in many of their members, as fell out in the case of the Novatians, and Donatists. The other side again, have often be­come more cold and secure in the practice of holinesse, carnall and formall in pursuing ceremonies and exter­nall things, with lesse affection and life in the main, because the edge of their zeal was bended toward these differences; and generally people have been stumbled and offended by them; and by the miscar­riage of some affectionate persons, men more formall and not very zealous in the main thing, have come to have more weight and sway in the Government of the Church; and thus we see that after these hot debates that were in the Church about lesser things, schisms and heresies grew up on the one side; luke warmnesse, formality, and inclination to ceremonies, and a for­mall lazie way of worship, did grow up and increase in the Church, upon the other side. 14. Though weDivision hardly cu­red. find men sadly regrate these, yet was there alwayes a difficulty to get them removed; there being often a kind of inconsideratnesse whereby the publick good hath been overlooked, and men have walked too much by particular inclination and affection, and so have come to hate whom formerly they praised, and [Page 295] to praise whom formerly they hated; by which the Ordinances have become weightlesse to all; and the Ministers, who sometimes were counted a gazing, a reproach and the off-scouring of all men because of afflictions, have become much more despicable be­cause of their own intestine divisions, as one of the Fathers doth pathetically expostulate for the dissen­tions of his time, writing to Nazeanzen.

CHAP. IIII. The causes why Division usually cometh to so great an height.

WE may now enquire what be the causes why Divisions usually come to such a height, and are so difficulty removed, even amongst men that are affectioned in the work of Christ, and otherwayes sound, zealous, and sober; which is in­deed strange, especially considering, that they do of­ten see the evil, regrate it, and professe their desire of a remedy themselves? In answering to this, we are to look, 1. to the Lords soveraign hand even in this. 2. To what accession there is to it from those that differ. 3. To some occasionall accidentall causes that concur therein. 4. We may consider the strength of the tentation in respect of some other circum­stances.

1. That the Lord hath a Soveraign hand therein, cannot be denied, and that in these two respects, notThe seve­raign [...]y of Godtrying good and bad. to insist in all, 1. As it is a triall whereby both mens soundnesse and unsoundnesse have occasion to be manifested; This is asserted, 1 Cor. 11. as a rea­son of the necessity of schisms and divisions, as may be gathered by comparing, ver. 18, with 19. But this we insist not on▪ 2. The Lord hath a judiciall handChastizing also and punishing. in it, that is, as He ordereth divisions for the just chastisement and punishment of some, even as was [Page 296] formerly said of heresies and delusions; and to this purpose, we may consider that wo which floweth from offences unto the world, to relate especially un­to divisions amongst Church-officers, as the subjoy­ning thereof to the contention amongst the Apostles doth evince; and in the nature of it, and in respect of the consequents that follow thereon, It is indeed a wo, and a very great wo unto the world, and an evi­dence of the Lords displeasure; when thus in His anger, divisions come amongst Ministers or People, as it is, Lam. 4. 16. Which we will find true in these re­spects. 1. It looketh angry like against Ministers; for, thereby they become despicable, the Lords coun­tenance and presence seemeth to be withdrawn, and much carnalnesse of frame, and many other evils steal in; which do both eat up much of that inward livelinesse which other wayes they might have, and also discompose that tranquillity and composednesse of mind, which love and unity entertain, and doth propose Ministers unto people, as men destitute of that badge, whereby they may be known to be the Lords Disciples, to wit. love to one another. 2. It is often aYea plagu­ing the world. great snare to many carnall Professors; for, thereby some are hardened in profanity, and become Atheists, as if all that is spoken by Ministers concerning Reli­gion, were not to be believed; Therefore the Lord prayeth for unity, and against differences amongst His Disciples, for this cause, That the world might believe that Christ was sent by God, and that these are loved of him, Joh. 17. 21, 23. which importeth, that this plague of Atheism followeth in the world upon such divisions. Again, others are stumbled so, as they cast at the Truth preached by them, and there­by become a prey to be carried about with every wind of doctrine; for preventing of which, Mini­sters, and union among Ministers are required, Eph. Division burdens the godly. 4. 1, 2, 3. with 11, 12, 13, 14. 3. It becometh an burden, grief and offence to the weak, such divisi­on [Page 297] being a main stumbling-block to the little ones that believe, Matth. 18. 1, and 6. 4. It proveth aHardeneth the adversa­ries of the truth. great confirmation and ground of hardening to the adversaries of the truth, who are thereby exceeding­ly hardened, and brought to applaud themselves in their own way, as if such divided instruments could not be of the one body, the Church, which is guid­ed by one Spirit; And this was cast up by heathens in the primitive times, as we may find by the apo­logies of many of the Fathers; and the same way hath been followed by Antichrist and his followers unto this day; they insult in nothing more than the divisions of the Orthodox▪ and are more proud of nothing than their pretended unity, which they make a mark of the true Church. And when all these are consi­dered, we suppose, it may be evident that such divisions are, when they are, a great plague unto the Church, and may justly be called a wo unto the world.

We need not insist upon characters of a judiciall­like division, seing hardly there is division in a Church, but it is judiciall in some part; Yet these things may be considered to this purpose, 1. WhenCharacters of judiciall division. the division is amongst the more eminent and godly men, as amongst the Disciples. 2. If the matter be light comparatively for which the difference is keep­ed up, as Augustine calleth that with some Donatists, parva dissentio, as to the matter or occasion, which was yet great in its effects, Epist. 203. 3. If it be for dominion, or preheminence, or such things as may look carnall like before men, like that, Matth. 18. 1, &c. Or, 4. if the manner of following it be carnall, or irrationall-like without that respective tendernesse of edification and offence, which ratio­nally might be expected from such men. 5. When there are many palpable convincing reasons, and that in respect of the particular time and case, which might draw men from such divisions. Or, 6. when sometimes healing is essayed, and beyond probable [Page 398] reasons and expectation, it doth break off and turn worse, when it appeared to be near a close. 7. When it spreadeth, and cometh to occupy and take up Pro­fessors, it may be, beyond many more concerning things. This especially is discernable, when the di­vision ariseth suddenly upon the back of a great calm, and after such sins as may procure the interrupting thereof, and when it cometh, in an unexpected way, from such persons, and upon such an occasion, as, it may be, none could have looked-for, or thought of; when it is under afflictions, and other cases and re­proaches, as the Jews divisions were, even when be­sieged by the Romans, and when under them, as Io­sephus writeth. These and such like may evidence somewhat to be judiciall therein. Because, 1. It doth so further what is penall the more in all the for­mer respects, and it cannot but have such effects. 2. Because there being no other probable reason how ordinarily such a thing may come to passe, the Lords hand is to be acknowledged therein so much the more, when even His Servants are drunken but not with wine, and He hath powred upon them the spirit of deep sleep, and covered even the Prophets and Seers therewith, as the word is, Isa. 29. 9, 10. and when they are as so many wild bulls caught in a net, full of the fury of the Lord, and of the rebuke of their God, as it is, Isa. 51. ver. 20. Whereby it cometh to passe, that neither one sort or other can particularly under­stand the duty called-for in reference to their healing, more than if all visions, and directions concerning the same were sealed up, as, Isa. 29. ver. 10, 11. and Isa. 59. 10. And none of all Zions sons are in capa­city to take her by the hand, Isa. 51. 18. 3. Besides these two, the Lord sometimes hath a wise design for promoving of His work, even by occasion of such divisions, as thereby to make the Gospel to be spread further than otherwayes it had been; for, by discon­tents and differences, sometimes men have been put [Page 299] to go elswhere and preach the Gospel; and in that instance of Paul and Barnabas their separating, this is brought about; the Gospel is preached by both in their severall journeys, which had not been so ex­tended had they been together; but this, and others of this kind being only proper to the Lords soveraign wisdom, we will not insist on them,

In the second place, If we consider mens own ac­cessionFormer guiltinesse. who are engaged in such divisions, that is ma­nifold. 1. Men by former guiltinesse may procure the same, as by abuse of former unity, carnalnesse in it, not improving of it for edification, pride and con­ceitedness of it as if it could not be interrupted, not be­ing thankfull to God for it, nor praying for continu­ance of it. These and such like, may draw on such a dreadfull stroke as division; wherefore not only is there a wo to the world because of offences, but also to him by whom they come, Matth. 18. even when notwithstanding, the necessity of them is asserted. 2. Some present sinfull distemper in Ministers frame,Present di­stempers. or disposition, may have influence upon this, as it were disposing them the sooner to take fire upon any occasion. As▪ 1. distance with God, and coldnesse of love to Him, without which, love cannot be keep­ed up with others in Him. 2. Pride, conceitinesse, desire of pre [...]eminencie, respect and applause, which was amongst the Apostles. 3. Which followeth upon this, envy at the respect which is given to others, or the weight that they have in the managing of mat­ters, and carnall emulation at their persons and acti­ons. 4. There is a secret discontentednesse at mens being sleighted by others, or apprehending them­selves to be so. 5. There is a credulousnesse and rea­dinesse to receive wrong impressions, a jealousie or suspicion of others in their designs, ends, or parti­cular respects to them; All which proceeding from want of charity, that thinketh not evil. &c. they can­not but some way dispose for division. 6. There is [Page 300] an itching newfangle humour, not after new Do­ctrines, but after new expressions, formes, or changes in other things. 7. There is sometimes a prejudice at severity and strictnesse, as if it were pride, ambiti­on, or something that is intolerable; which is mark­ed to be the cause of the Clergie of Constantinople, their dissention with Chrysostome their [...]: Of this kind, to wit, sinfull and disposing causes, are igno­rance, imprudence, tenaciousnesse, or self-willedness, and such like; whereby a Minister is the easilier en­gaged, and the more difficul [...]ly brought off.

3. There are some acts whereby men have accessi­on to the raising and heightening of division, and oftentimes they are mutuall: As, 1. some mens do­ingInconsiderat expressions or actings. of some inconsiderate act, or writing some in­considerate expression upon the one hand; and others, too passionatly and vehemently exaggerating such a fact, and condemning such an expression by a tortur­ing deduction of absurdities therefrom, beyond what was intended; So it was between Ierome and Augu­stine, &c. 2. When some presse severity in Disci­plineSeverity in Discipline. and Censures, somewhat too hotely, others, with no lesse discontent, repelling the same. 3. WhenSleighting of the persons, writings, or actings of o­thers. men sleightingly expresse their mind of the persons, writings or actings of others; and they again are engaged by the like reflections, to vindicate the same. 4. When men study not the instruction of themselves or others affectionedly, but hunt after a kind of cre­ditHunting af­ter credit. to themselves, though with the reproach of others. 5. Little condescending to remove mistakesLittle con­descending, &c. and prejudices, abstinence from society, and fellow­ship with such as they differ from in some particular; hasty preaching, and publishing differences of small moment, as Epiphaneus, and some others, formerly cited, did, no condescending in particular facts that might be condescended on, and such like. 6. Espe­ciallyActs that state schism such acts as state a schism, and break commu­nion in Government, Worship, and other Ordi­nances, [Page 301] are exceedingly instrumentall in this. As, 1. to have distinct Bishops or Ministers, Gover­nours or Officers, and so to have opposit Judicato­ries, and opposit Ordinations, which is often found to be the result and great cherishment of divisions in the primitive times. Whereupon followed, 2. divi­sion in administration of Sacraments, when such and such could not acknowledge men so ordained to be Ministers, and so could not communicate with them, if they were ordained in opposition to them, or such as were ordained by them: And this hath a connexi­on with such an act, because the acknowledging of such to be lawfully ordained, would question their own Ordination. Whence, 3. follow divided Congregations and meetings, according to the oppo­sition amongst Ministers, some meeting in one place, and some in another, and so withdrawing communi­on one from another, although both do continue in the same Faith and Government; As may be seen in severall of these divisions mentioned at Antioch, Con­stantinople, &c. Upon which again followed, 4. oppo­sit preaching amongst Ministers, each condemning others as Schismaticks, and not to be keeped commu­on with; one calling that a duty which the other called a sin, and matter of humiliation, and contra­rily: As also, mutuall railing and reviling amongst the followers of such sides, which often hath come to tumults; whereby it appeareth how great influ­ence such things have upon division. Yea, 5. it hath come to divide families; Often Augustine regrateth in his Epistles, that their division made the man and wife whom one bed did contain, in an incapacity to be contained in the same Church, where the same faith was preached, and so he urgeth it also in refe­rence to parents, and children, and to masters and servants. There are many moe things might be named, as censuring of men upon such difference; for, then often some adhere to them, which maketh [Page 302] a rent, as in these instances of Eustachius and Chryso­stome is clear, urging the condemning of some writ­ings and tenents not fundamentall; Thus the pressing of the condemning of Origens writings (which are not supposed by some to have been so grosse as now these which are called his, are) did give much occa­sion of contention and division amongst men, who otherwayes did acknowledge all the fundamentall truths comprehended in the generall Councels, and it is alike also, did not agree with him in his grossest errours, yet would not judicially condemn him, and others such like.

CHAP. V. What occasionall means may have influence upon division amongst the godly.

VVE come now in the third place to consi­der, what occasionall means may have influence upon this division amongst godly men; And such may be, 1. Some talebearersTalebearers and secret whisperers, who may have much influence to alienate good mens affections, by misrepresenting the words and actions of others, under pretext of re­spect to them, when, in the mean time, it may be some particular discontent that putteth them on: It is marked, that one Serapion had much influence to alie­nate Chrysostome and Severinus, who formerly were exceeding intire, who suggesting to the first, many evidences of the others disrespect to him, as if he had been endeavouring to draw the peoples affections from him; and for that cause, picked out some words of Severinus, which being considered alone, did sound grosly, but being considered in the Sentence as spoken by him▪ they were not of such a meaning. 2. Often when differences arise amongst honest men, there wanteth not many, who out of particular designs do [Page 303] then foment that fire, especially such as from some other fear, take occasion to exaggerate such a diffe­rence, because the sostering of that difference is the preventing of what they fear: As for instance, Chry­sostome had threatned the censuring of many of hisFears of censurs. Presbyters for their faults, whereupon they took the occasion of the differences betwixt him and Epi­phanius, Severinus, and others, to irritate and stir up them against him, and to side with them in these differences; whereby the division against him, and such as followed him, was maintained till it came to the height thereof, yet were nei­ther the differences betwixt him and these other men, nor the persons of these other men his op­posites respected by them, further than served to their end of bearing him down, and so of preventing the threatned and feared censure. 3. Sometimes Ma­gistratesThe influ­ence of civil Powers. have had no little influence upon this, either by pretending to side with one party in these diffe­rences against the other, when yet it was not these differences but some other prejudice, as from free speaking or the like, which did engage them. It is marked in that same case of Chrysostome, that the Emperour and Empresse did concur to bear down his followers, and those that sided with him, because of some particular discontent at his free preaching, for which cause they were zealous executers of the Synods Sentence; As these again that were opposite to Chry­sostome of the Clergie, did take no little advantage of that discontent, which they knew the Empresse had at him. Or on the other side, they are sometimes accessory by weakening Government, and giving men accesse to do what they will: when Basilius hath regrated the great differences of the Church in Iulian, and Valens their times, and setting himself to find out the cause thereof, he settleth on this word in the Book of the Iudges, In those dayes there was no King in Israel, every man did what seemed good in his own eyes: which [Page 304] he doth not speak simply, as if there had been no Government; but that by such as was, no course was taken, as the calling of Synods, or such like means, to restrain such things, but rather they were entertained. 4. Sometimes also the peoples engagingPeoples en­gaging. and siding in such differences, hath no little influence to heighten and lengthen the same; hence we find that in some debates, wherein Church-men have been alone engaged, there hath been some stop; but when it hath encreased, to the stating of parties amongst the people, it hath ever been more difficult; because so Ministers were the more encouraged and engaged to be tenacious; vea sometimes fear of displeasing the people that adhered to them, hath not wanted its weight. Also, so it turned more easily to schism and faction in practice, when one part of the people would only call such a man of their Judgement; ano­ther part of the people, such another man of theirs; whereupon followed great dissentions and factious­nesse in Elections, and opposite ordinations, by Bi­shops of several judgements: Whereupon followed, 1. a rent in that particular Church; one part with­drawing with their Bishop and Minister, and the other part with theirs, and neither keeping commu­nion with, but seeking to overturn one another. And, 2. a rent among neighbouring Bishops and Mini­sters, according as they were pleased to admit either side to their communion, and acknowledge or con­demn either of the opposite ordinations. And, 3. Often also, there followed opposite and eager ap­plicationsApplicati­ons to Magi­strates for ratisying elections. to the supream Magistrates and Emperour, to have their own respective Elections ratified, and that which was opposite, by his Authority, crushed; which often hath been followed with much bitter­ness, and sometimes not without calumnies against good men; and also not without prejudice to the Churches liberty, and advantage to corrupt men or Magistrates, that were not tender of truth; who [Page 305] thereby had occasion to interest themselves, and ad­vance their own ends the more; and it is marked of Anastasius the Emperour, who was a Monothelite, that he took occasion upon hot differences in the Church amongst Divines, (who did in both sides differ from him, though one of them was but sound) without respect to right or wrong, equally to endeavour the suppressing of both by sending them into exile; and when Magistrates were more equal to and tender of the Church, as Theodosius, Gratianus, &c. yet they were exceedingly troubled with such adresses, and put to hear such complaint▪ even amongst and against men fully Orthodox and sound, only differing in some particulars which had brought on opposite or­dinations, as in the cases of Miletius and Paulinus, Eustachius and Flavianus, with their respective com­petitors: all which concuring with that heat and fer­vour wherewith Churchmen do usually of themselves follow their differences, did not a little contribute to the heightening and lengthening of divisions and rents, upon the smallest occasions. 5. OccuringMiscarri­ages of persons. miscarriages of persons differing, have often had in­fluence to increase and continue a breach, that is, when some persons on either side become more grosse in other points of Doctrine, or in practice; or fol­low their designs by means that seem grosse and un­warrantable to the other; or when some of one side expresse unjust calumnies on the other: this doth ex­ceedingly alienate affections, confirme jealousies and suspicions, and readily doth engender new Questions and controversies; because some are led to oppose and condemn, and others to defend such practices; therefore there must be opposite principles suitable thereunto, and so they multiply from one step to ano­ther: whereby it cometh to passe, that often where there is but one difference at first, after a time many do arise, which doth make the removall of divisi­ons to be alwayes the longer the more difficult: [Page 306] Whence we see, that seldom one difference continued any time, but there was an addition of many, and that of greater concernment, that, it may be, stuck, whenas the first rise might have been removed. 6. Sometimes also occurring dispensations in provi­denceOccuring dispensati­ons of pro­vidence. will give occasion to this tenaciousnesse, as suppose there be a seeming advantage on the one side to through their point, and bear down the other with­out uniting, it is supposed to be conscience and pru­dence to make use of the same: Hence we will find in History men more or lesse inclinable to unite, as they apprehended their party to be more or lesse strong; sometimes also some singular-like stroak upon the persons names or families of eminent op­posers, proveth a confirmation to the others who escape, as if their way were more approveable, and the others more remarkably condemned; for so are men ready to misinterpret the most occasionall thing, which for other ends may come upon any with whom they differ. Thus Zuinglius his death did not only prove matter of insulting to Papists, but even by Luther and others was misapplied; and Carolostadius his [...]oul defection, afterward became an occasion to harden many, in condemning his condemning of keeping Images in Churches, though without any worship; because, upon the back of that debate, Luther had set him forth as a light, unsettled, unstable person, whose judgement was not to be valued; which ac­cordingly falling out, made many keep up the opinion contrary to his, as if by his fall it had been ratified; And we think, that if either Chrysostome or Epiphaneus their wishes to other respectively had fallen out but upon the one side, it also might have had influence; but seing both came to passe, we conceive that there­by the Lord would keep men from being confirmed in their differences upon such dispensations, and shew himself angry at the carnalnesse of good men, even in their smallest difference on both sides.

[Page 307]In the fourth place, we have to consider, wherein the strength of the tentation to keep up division doth ly, in respect of several circumstances that may have influence, especially upon Church men.

1. There is engagement, credit, and such like,Personall credit act­ing under [...] of zeal for God. which steal in, and vent in heat and tenaciousnesse under other appearances, as of [...] [...]or Gods honour, respect to the credit of the Ministry, and of the Or­dinances: And in this it seemeth not to be any per­sonall credit or respect that s [...]ayeth them, but zeal for, and respect to the Master, as is insinuated in the Disciples carriage, Luk. 9 in their seeking to be avenged on the place that would not receive Christ, by fire from heaven, ver. 54. and also in their for­bidding some to cast out devils▪ even in his name, be­cause they thought it not for Christs honour, ibid. vers. 49.

2. The tentation hath often with it great confi­denceEvill grounded confidence. of the justness and equity of their own side▪ and of the unreasonablnesse of their adversaries. There may be in part much ground for this, where the con­troversie is some doubtfull, disputable thing: How great confidence have both Iob and his friends in their debate, So that both of them are frequent in de­siring Gods decision, when as neither of them in both matter and manner was fully approveable. Some­times also there may be a perswasion very satisfying to the party, when yet it is not from God; this was in Galatia, cap. 5. ver. 8. it is like on both sides, even when they were biting and devouring one another; for, we find often in experience, that a disputable thing, being for a time pleaded for, will become as palpably clear, and altogether necessary to these who have disputed for the same, because engagement bribes the light, and perverteth even the wisdom of the just. Hence we see, that the longer one plead for a thing, he becometh more confident therein, because his own pleading secretly prevaileth more with himself▪ [Page 308] than reasons proposed by any others to the con­trary can.

3. There is a strength in the tentation, in this, that not only the matter is thought just, but it is thought necessary and of great concernment, if it be, 1. a Question of the most circumstantiall truth, (if we may speak so) it looketh out as necessary, and a thing that cannot be quit▪ yea, even those who are en­gaged to maintain that side where the errour lies, will cry up the controversie as in a high point of Christia­nity. Amongst the Fathers, these that maintained the Millenarie opinion, and Christs personall reign, thought it a point of high concernment; Iustine Mar­tyr in his Dialogue with Trifo, saith, he is no Chri­stian, Orthodox in all things, who doth think other­wise; and in later Popish Writers, how is the ne­cessity of oyl, chrisme, and such like pleaded for? which sheweth what impression the appearing weigh­tinesse of such things will have on them, as if it were a main foundation of Religion. And, 2. if it be a matter of fact or Government, it is thought of such concernment for the good of the Church that they cannot quit it, without being accessory to the cor­ruption and hurt, or to the marring of the autho­rity thereof: Hence so often are the faults and con­sequents of the adverse part aggreged; canons and constitutions alleaged to be broken, as we may see (amongst other instances) in that debate betwixt Rome and Constantinople for precedency before Anti­christ was revealed, one alleaging an act of Nice, the other, an act of the Councel of Chalcedon, and Rome pretending the interest of Saint Peter, and the good of the universall Church. And, 3. if it be aA particu­lar mistake of men [...] persons and actions. difference about persons, as who is to be acknow­ledged Bishop or Minister, or if such be lawfully or­dained, deposed, &c. then such as they oppose, are conceived to be notoriously hainous; and such as they are for, are believed to be incomparably singu­lar [Page 309] and eminent, and therefore it is no wonder that they presse vehemently their point, as thinking that much of the good or evil of the Church doth depend upon the admission, or rejection of such men respe­ctively, and this floweth inadvertingly from the for­mer differences; because, when they are confident that themselves are right in a main point, they neces­sarily must think these wrong and untender who are opposit in such a thing, and the hotter the opposition grow, they think still each other the more grosly ob­stinate: By this also they are disposed to hear and re­ceive reports and mis-informations concerning their opponents; whereby they come verily to believe, that they are even in all other things, and in their ve­ry ends and designs, most grosse. And, I suppose, that beside the instances formerly given in all these re­spects, the differences that arose first betwixt Luther and Carolostadius, and afterward betwixt him and such as followed him on the one side, and Zuinglius, Calvin and others upon the other side, do fully demonstrate this; How little were these beginnings at first, and yet how were even the smallest differences aggreged, and the persons differing mistaken, even before these differences came to the height which they are at? And we may observe also, that this mistake of mens persons and actions, and bitternesse that followeth thereupon, is most ordinarily discernable to be upon that side, where there is least to be said in conscience and equity for the defence thereof.

4. Adde to these a conviction of singlenesse, thatA convi­ction of singleness in pro [...]cu­ting and adhering. persons may seem to themselves to have in all the for­mer steps, wherein there may be no positive, corrupt end proposed, nor any palpable dissimulation in their professions, entertained or approven by them: but as they have some confidence of the equity of their side; so may there be an apprehended testimony of their own singlenesse in the following thereof: and there is a great strength in the tentation to continue division, [Page 310] that lyeth here; for, when men apprehend their own singlenesse and streightnesse, and, it may be, have accesse to God, and have liberty to pray, even in re­ference to such things, it is not easie for a man to stop himself in that way; and yet it cannot be thought, but amongst the instances of such divisions that are given, that men on both sides had a single end and mind, did pray and had accesse in prayer; yea, no question, many of them might go to heaven with such differences on both sides; for, we will find them continue zealous in such, even to death. Neither ought this to be thought strange; for, the best but know in part, and are subject to mistakes, and their zeal and singlenesse is squared according to their knowledge: It was such zeal, that is not according to knowledge (though in the most fundamentall things) that made Paul and others, with a kind of singlenesse, persecute the Church; therefore propor­tionally, there may be a zeal and singlenesse in lesser things when there is ignorance of them.

5. After engagement the tentation is strengthenedFear of losing cre dit by re­lenting. by this, lest, by after▪ ceding, their former practice in being so eager, be condemned, and they lose the weight of their Ministery in other things, and their respective followers, which possibly may be more te­nacious and z [...]alous than themselves, should be irri­tated and provoked; which things look to them as greater pr [...]judices, even to the work of the Gospel, than [...]eir continuing divided. It is written of Lu­ther in his life, That being in conference with Melan­cthon and others in his last voyage, he did acknow­ledge to th [...]m, that he had been too vehement and peremp [...]ory in the Doctrine of the Sacrament; and when they urged him then to publish something con­cerning h [...] same, he replied. That he feared by that to diminish the authority and weight of what he had else appeared into for God, [...] therefore did [...]orbear it▪ wit [...]all allowing Melancth [...]n after his death, to do in that as he thought fit:

[Page 311]6. Sometimes also, the tentation is strengthned byFear of hurting their fol­lowers. apprehended consequents of hurt and prejudice to these that side with them in such a thing from others, in case there should be ceding in such and such parti­culars for union, or that by so doing, they might make themselves and their cause odious to others, who possibly may be thought to have more respective thoughts of them, because of their differing in such things from others. It is written of Luther, that he gave this as a main reason why he keeped up the Sa­cramentary difference, and would not unit with Cal­vin and others in that Head, because, said he, that opi­nion which the Sacramentaries (as they were called) hold, is generally more hatefull than that of Consub­stantiation, and will make the Princes and others more obnoxious to malice and hatred.

7. It strengtheneth the tentation also, when menThe tenta­tion streng­thened by looking-on the fail­ings of op­posits. do not look upon the difference simply in it self, but comparatively with respect to the principles and car­riages of others their opponents, and by considering things that are displeasing in them and their way, they are made the more tenacious, and brought to justifie themselves the more. Hence it is in such di­visions, that the great stresse of debates lyeth in re­flections, criminations and recriminations, as if this were the only vindicating argument, They that are opposit to us in many things of their carriage are wrong, Therefore our way is right, or we have rea­son to divide from them; And hence it is, that almost necessarily such reflections are used in such debates, where the matter is not of such moment and evi­dence, as the most convincing defensive arguments upon either side, as in these debates, between Ierome and Ruffinus, cited, where there is no dispute on either side but criminations on both; Also in the Donatists their reflections, this may be observed.

8. In such differences also, men are ready to thinkHope of the ceding of others. that the other should and will cede to them, and will [Page 312] not hazard division upon so little a thing. Hence, many have been drawn on to division from small be­ginnings, which they would not have yeelded to, had they known the consequents thereof, or had they not expected that the other should have yeelded, wherein being disappointed, the engagement thereto becometh more strong, and the division more irrecon­ciliable. This is marked of Victor, of whom it is said, that he had not been so peremptory, had he not supposed, that in such a thing the other should have yeelded.

CHAP. VI. What be the sad effects of division, and the ne­cessity of endeavouring unity.

HAving now some way discovered the nature and causes of the evil of division, it may be easily conjectured what will be the effects thereof, which ever have been most deplorable, as to the torturing of these that are engaged, to the scanda­lizing of the weak, to the hardening and breaking of the neck of many profane light persons, to the spoil­ing of the Church in its purity, Government, order and beauty of her Ordinances, and which is more, to the wearing out of the life and power of Religion; yea, which is above all, there is nothing that doth more tend to the reproach of the blessed Name of our Lord Jesus, that maketh Christianity more hatefull, that rendereth the Gospel more unfruitfull, and more marreth the progresse and interest of the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus; and, in a word, doth more shut out all good, and let in by an open door every thing that is evil into the Church, than this wofull evil of di­vision doth, according to the word, Iam. 3. 16. Where envy and strife is, there is confusion, and every evil work. And we are perswaded, that who hath read [Page 313] the Scriptures, and the many and great motives where­by union is pressed, and have considered the Fathers what great weight they lay upon unity, and with what horrour they mention division, even as maxi­mum malum, or the greatest evil that can befall the Church; Or, have observed in Church-history, the many sad consequents and effects that have followed upon this, and the lamentable face of the Church under the same: when friends thought shame, and were made faint; enemies were encouraged and de­lighted, and on-lookers were either provoked to mock at, or pity the same; Or, who have had some taste in experience of the bitter fruits thereof, will, and if they be not altogether stupid, cannot but be con­vinced of the many horrible evils, that are in this one evil of division. Sure there is no evil doth more sud­denly and inevitably overturn the Church than this; which maketh her fight against her self, and eat her own flesh, and tear her own bowels: for, that a Kingdom divided against it self cannot stand, is the infallible maxime of Him that was greater and wiser than Solomon. And when things are compared, it will be found, there is no more compendious way to blast the fruit of Ordinances, when they cannot be removed or corrupted, and by so doing, to destroy and carry souls headlong, than this, That a Church in her Ministers and Members should be engaged thus, to bite and devour one another, and to coun­teract to the actings one of another; This we sup­pose will not be denied.

It will also readily be granted, That it is the dutyThe necessity of endeav [...]r­ing unity, granted by all. of all Christians, especially of Ministers of the Gos­pel, to endeavour the preserving of unity, and the preventing of division, and the recovering of unity, and removing of division, by healing of the breach when it is made. Never did men run to quench fire in a City, lest all should be destroyed, with more di­ligence, than men ought to bestir themselves to quench [Page 314] this in the Church; never did mariners use more speed to stop a leak in a ship, lest all should be drown­ed, than Ministers especially, and all Christian men, should hast to stop this beginning of the breaking in of these waters of strife, lest thereby the whole Church be overwhelmed; And if the many evils which follow thereupon, the many commands whereby union is pressed; yea, the many entreaties and obtestations whereby the holy Ghost doth so fre­quently urge this upon all, as a thing most acceptable to Him, and profitable to us; If, I say, these and many other such considerations, have not weight to convince of the necessity of this duty, to prevent, or heal a breach, We cannot tell what can prevail with men, that professe reverence to the great and dread­full Name of God, conscience of duty, and respect to the edification of the Church, and to their own peace at the appearance of the Lord in the great Day, wherein the peace-makers shall be blessed; for, they shall be called the children of God.

CHAP. VII. General Grounds leading to Unity.

BUt now, it may be of more difficulty, to speak particularly, to what indeed is duty, at such a time when a Church lyeth under rents and di­visions. For, though the general be granted, yet of­ten,The cure of division most difficult. it is difficult to take up the particular cure, and yet more difficult singly to follow the same: It being still more easy to prescribe rules to others, than to fol­low them our selves, especially in such a case, when spirits are in the heat and fervour of contention, whereby they are some way drunken with affection to their own side, and prejudice at the others, and distracted▪ as it were, with a sort of madnesse in pur­suing their adversaries, as that great and meek Divine [Page 315] Melancthon did expresse it, so that it is hard to get af­fections, that are in such a temper, captivated to the obedience of light. And though we will not take on us to be particular and satisfying in this, wishing and hoping that it may be more effectually done by some other; yet, having come this length, we shall, in an abstracted manner, consider some things in re­ference thereunto, and endeavour to hold forth what we conceive to be duty, especially to the Ministers of the Gospel, that have interest in such a Church; As also what may be required of others, that may possi­bly think themselves lesse concerned therein: Where­in we shall keep this order, 1. we shall lay down some general Grounds, which we suppose as granted. 2. We shall premit some preparatory endeavours agreeable to the same. 3. We shall speak negative­ly to what ought not to be done, or ought to be for­born. 4. Positively to the healing means called-for in reference to several sorts of division, with some questions incident thereupon. And lastly, We shall consider the grounds that do presse the serious and condescending application of these, or other healing means in such a case.

The first generall ground, which we take forAn absolute necessity laid upon a rent Church to unite. granted, is this, That by way of precept there is an absolute necessity of uniting laid upon the Church, so that it falleth not under debate, Whether a Church should continue divided or united in the These? more than it falleth under debate, Whether there should be preaching, praying, keeping of the Sab­bath, or any other commanded duty; seing that uni­on is both commanded as a duty, and comm [...]nded, as eminently tending to the edification of the Church, and therefore is so frequently joyned with edification? Nor is it to be asked by a Church, what is to be done for the Churches good, in a divided way, thereby sup­posing a dispensation, as it were, to be given to divi­sion, and a forbearing of the use of means for the at­taining [Page 316] thereof; or rather supposing a stating or fixing of division, and yet notwithstanding thereof, thinking to carry on edification? It is true, where union cannot be attained amongst orthodox Mini­sters, that agree in all main things, (for, of such only we speak) Ministers are to make the best use of the opportunities they have, and during that to seek the edification of the Church; Yet, that men should by agreement state a division in the Church, or dispense therewith, and prefer the continuing of division, as fitter for edification than union, we suppose is alto­gether unwarrantable. 1. Because, that is not the Lord's Ordinance, and therefore cannot be gone about in faith, nor in it can the blessing be expected, which the Lord doth command to those that are in unity, Psal. 133. 2. Because Christ's Church is but one Body, and this were deliberately to alter the nature thereof: and although those who deny this Truth may admit of division; yea, they cannot have union, that is proper Church-union, which is union in Go­vernment, Sacraments, and other Ordinances, because union, or communion in these, doth result from this principle; yet it is impossible for those that maintain that principle of the unity of the Catholick visible­Church, to owne a divided way of administrating Government or other Ordinances, but it will infer either that one party hath no interest in the Church, or that one Church may be many; and so, that the unity thereof in its visible state is to no purpose: This then we take for granted. And though possibly it be not in all cases attainable, because the fault may be upon one side, who possibly will not act unitedly with others, yet is this still to be endeavoured, and every opportunity to be taken hold of for promoting of the same.Union a thing attain­able among Orthodox Divines.

The second ground which we suppose, is this, That as union is ever a duty, So, we conceive, if men in­teressed will do their duty, there can be no division [Page 317] amongst Orthodox Divines or Ministers, but it is possible also to compose it, and union is a thing at­tainable. For, 1. We are not speaking of compo­sing divisions that are stated upon the fundamentall things; nor are we speaking of removing all diffe­rences, as if all men were to be one in judgment in every point of Truth; there may be difference where there is no division, as hath been said. Nor, 3. when we speak of mens doing their duty, do we mean a full up-coming of every thing in knowledge and practice, and that in a sanctified manner, though that ought to be endeavoured; but it looketh prin­cipally to the doing of duty in reference to this par­ticular (if it may be called so) of attaining union, a great part whereof doth consist in outward obvious things, which do neither require simply sanctifica­tion in the person (though in it self most desirable) nor perfection in the degree, some whereof we may afterward mention; so that the meaning is, if we consider union in it self, without respect to mens cor­ruptions, (which will make the least thing impossible when they are in exercise) it is a thing possible, ac­cording to the acknowledged principles, that sober, orthodox men usually walk by, as experience hath often proven, and reason doth demonstrat in the par­ticulars afterward to be instanced. And this conside­ration ought the more pressingly to stir up the endea­vour of this duty, although oftentimes through mens corruption it hath been frustrated.

Thirdly, we premit, That in endeavouring unionEndeavour­ing union, doth notinfer union in all points of judgement and practice. and healing, men would not straiten it to an univer­sall union in every thing, in judgement and practice, but would resolve to have it with many things de­fective that need forbearance in persons that are unit­ed, which me may take up in these particulars. 1. There may be difference of judgement in many things, I mean in such things that are consistent with the foundation, and edification; and such a forbea­rance [Page 318] would be resolved upon, and to do otherwayes, were to think that either men had no reason at all, or that their understandings were perfect, or at least of equal reach. 2. There may be dissatisfa­ction with many persons, whether Officers or Mem­bers; and to expect a Church free of unworthy Offi­cers, or Members, and to defer Church union there­upon, is to expect the barn-floor shall be without chaff, and to frustrate the many commands whereby this duty is pressed; for, so this command should be obligatory to no Church, but that that is trium­phant; yet certainly our Lord Jesus gave this com­mand to His Disciples when Iudas was amongst them; and Paul gave it and practised it, when some preached out of envy, Philip. 1. and when almost all sought their own things, and not the things of Christ: And certainly, if people ought to carry even to cor­rupt Ministers who yet destroy not the foundation, as Ministers, in the duties that becomes them to Mini­sters in communion with them, while they continue such, Then certainly Ministers ought to keep that communion with Ministers, that becometh their re­lations, seing they are still Ministers in that respect, as well as in the other. And if this corruption will not warrant separation in other Ordinances, as was said in the close of the second part, Then neither will it war­rant division in the ordinance of government. 3. It may also be consistent with many particular failings, and defects in the exercise of government, as possibly the sparing of some corrupt O [...]cers and Members; yea, the Censuring of some unjustly, or the admission of some that are unfit for the Ministery, and such like: These indeed are faults, but they are not such as make a Church to be no Church; and though these have sometimes been pretended to be the causes of schisms and divisions in the Church in practice, yet were they never defended to be just grounds of schisms and divi­sions, but were ever condemned by all Councels [Page 319] and Fathers, and cannot be in reason sustained. For, 1. there should be then no union expected here, ex­cept we supposed, that men that have corruption, could not fall in these faults. 2. It is not unlike, but some of these were in the primitive Churches; some­what is infinuated thereof, Rev. 2. in those Church­officers, their tolerating of Iezebel and the Nicolai­tans to seduce the people, and to commit fornication; yet neither is separation or division called-for, or al­lowed either amongst Ministers or people. Sure there were such corrupt acts of all kinds amongst the Jews Church-officers; yet is it clear, that Nicodemus and Ioseph of Arimathea did continue to govern joyntly, notwithstanding thereof, who yet cannot be counted accessory to any of their deeds; Because (which is a third reason) men in such cases have accesse, even when they are present, to discountenance such cor­rupt acts, by not consenting thereto, and testifying against the same, (yea, they may by so doing, stand in the way of many wicked acts, which by dividing they cannot do) which is sufficient for their exonera­tion both before God and men: As we may see in the instances of Ioseph and Nicodemus mentioned▪ who continue united in the government, keeped the meetings even when Sentences passe against those who will acknowledge Christ, and orders for persecuting Him and them; and yet they are declared free, be­cause they dissented from, and testified against the same; yea, their freedom and exoneration by ver­tue of their dissent being present, is more solemnly recorded to their honour in the Gospel, than if they had divided; And yet the unity of the Church now hath the same ground, and no fewer motives to presseUnion may stand with some defects in Worship and manner of Govern­ment. it than it had then. 4. It may stand with some de­fects in Worship, manner of Government, and rules that are necessary for good government in a Church. It is like, that many things of that kind, were defective in the Church of Corinth, where the [Page 320] Sacrament was so disorderly administrated (as hath been marked) confusion in many things of Worship, and some things still to be set in order; yet doth the Apostle no where press union more than in these Epi­stles, as formerly hath been marked; neither can it be thought that perfection in all these is ever to be ex­pected, or that union, untill such time is to be de­layed. And if there be defects of that kind, it is union and not division that is to be looked upon as the commended mean for redressing of the same.

If it be asked then, With what kind of defects orWith what kind of de­jects union m [...]y be made up. discontents may an union be made up? or, what Rules may be walked by therein? For answer, We offer these Considerations or Rules,

1. What cannot warrant a breach where there is union, that cannot warrantably be the ground to keep up a division; Now there are many miscarriages or defects, which are really grosse, and yet will not war­rant a schism, as all that write thereon do clear, and is obvious to all. The reason of the consequence is, Because making up of a breach is no lesse a duty, than preventing thereof; And further, if it began upon such a ground, Then the continuing thereof upon the same ground, is but the continuing in the same sin; and it cannot be thought that any party by dividing upon an unjust ground, can afterward be justified upon the same ground; It remaineth therefore, that if the ground was not sufficient at first to warrant a separation or division, it cannot be sufficient afterward to continue the same.

Rule 2. Such defects as do not make communion in a Church, and in its Ordinances sinfull, will not warrant a separation or division from the same; for, this followeth on the former. It is acknowledged by all, that there is no separation from a true Church in such Ordinances, as men may without sin communi­cate into, although others may be guilty therein; as, suppose men to have accesse to Government without [Page 321] such bonds and engagements, and such like, as may mar their freedom in following the light of the Word, in deciding whatever shall come before them, even though others should step over the same.

Rule 3. Men may keep communion with a Church, when their calling leadeth them thereto upon the one side, and they have accesse to the discharge of the same upon the other; this also followeth upon the former: for, if some acts of a mans station lead him to an united way of acting, (as the duties of a fixed Minister do) then he is obleiged to follow the duties of his calling, whilst there is no physicall or morall impediment barring him in the same, and others be­ing defective in their duty, will not absolve him from his, which he oweth by vertue of his station.

Rule 4. While the generall rules tending to edifi­cation in the main are acknowledged, union is to be keeped, even though there be much failing in the ap­plication; because, so there are fit weapons to make use of, and who knoweth but single and zealous im­proving of them, may help the application thereof; and if there be a failing therein, it is the persons deed, that by his vote so misapplyeth, and doth not involve any other in that guilt, beside that by joynt and united acting much of that misapplication may through Gods blessing be prevented.

Rule 5. Then there may and ought to be uniting when the evils that follow division or schism, are greater and more hurtfull to the Church, than the evils that may be supposed to follow on union. I speak not of ills of sin, (for, the least of these are never to be chosen) but of evils and inconveniencies that may indeed be hurtfull to the Church in themselves, and sinfull in respect of some persons, yet are not so to all: Now, in such evils the lesser is to be chosen, because uniting and acting joyntly in a Church-way, doth belong to the policy and government of the Church, wherein Christian prudence is to have a main [Page 322] hand, So that when things cannot be done as men would simply, they are to do as they may compara­tively, that is, to choose and make use of what may be most edifying, and least hurtfull to the Churches edification (which is the great end that ought to sway in Government) amongst all these means that seem probable and possible; So that the conscience may have testimonie in this, that the way that had fewest inconveniencies, and manyest advantages to edification, was chosen; and though some inconve­niencies fall out afterward, yet the conscience may be quiet on this ground: Because, sometimes the Lord in His providence will order so in the matters of Go­vernment, that there is no side can be chosen with­out inconveniencies; As suppose, there is not full sa­tisfaction in any way that occureth in planting such a Congregation, in removing of such an offence, heal­ing such a rent, and the like; but whatever side be looked to, many hinderances to edification appear, yet something must be chosen, and may be with peace to the conscience; because we are to regulate our own act suitably to the providences, and cases we meet with, and to the tempers of these we have to do with; but we are neither to regulate nor answer for provi­dences, and the distempers of others. Indeed in such a case, the mind may be disquieted because of fear; and the consolation of the duty may be diminished, because of such circumstances; and affections may be grieved and jumbled, because there is not full satisfa­ction; yet may the conscience have quietnesse and peace in its duty notwithstanding; and men are speci­ally to discern and to put difference between peace of conscience and the former discomposures: other­wayesWhen in­convenien­cies are on all hands, what side is to be fol­lowed▪ there will be many cases wherein it is impos­sible for a zealous Minister to have peace, whatever side he choose, yea, whether he do or forbear.

If it be asked then, What way men may discern the side that is to be followed in such a case, when [Page 323] inconveniencies threaten on all hands? Answ. By these and such like wayes. 1. It is to be looked, what side hath the most dangerous and destructive inconveniencies. 2. What inconveniencies are most certain and inevitable, and the greatest and most ine­vitable inconveniencies are to be shunned, and men would not choose a certain hurt to eschew that which is uncertain. 3. It would be looked, what side du­ty lieth upon, or to what the command doth presse; and although inconveniencies seem to follow that, yet it is to be followed as most safe. Now, as to all these, union hath the advantage o division: Because, 1. it is a commanded mean tending to edification, which division is not. 2. Division hath no lesse nor fewer inconveniencies following it, nor lesse destructive to the Church, than union in the case supposed; yea, schism is one of the greatest hurts that can come to an orthodox Church, it being next to heresie in Doctrine; and therefore no particular evil can be laid in the ballance with it. 3. The ills of division are most in­evitable, for the ills that follow union, through Gods blessing may be prevented, it is not impossible, but in the way of division it is, because it self is out of Gods way.

Rule 6. When men may unit without personall guilt, or accession to the defects or guilt of others, there may and ought to be union, even though there be failings and defects of severall kinds in a Church. The reasons before given will clear this, because men are to reckon not for other mens car [...]iages, but their own, and no such Church-state is to be expected as is free of defects. Beside, can it warrand a man to abstain from his duty because others do not theirs; whileas there is no sinfull impediment lying in the way of his accesse thereto. If it be asked, What may be accounted such impediments, as a tender con­science may be justly scarred by from uniting? It may be answered in these and such like, 1. If a [Page 324] person be put to condemn any thing he thinketh law­full in his own former practice, or the practice of others, or in some point of Doctrine though never so extrinsick, if it be to him a point of truth. 2. If he be put to approve the deed, and practice of some others which he accounteth sinfull, or to affirm somewhat as truth which he doth account an errour. 3. When some engagement is required for the future, which doth restrain from any duty called▪ for, or that may afterward be called-for. These and such like involve persons in the sin of what is past, and also maketh them accessory to the inconveniencies which may come; because they are bound up with their own consent, from endeavouring the preventing thereof in the way of duty, at least it is so to them, and so defileth their conscience. Therefore such entangle­ments are by all means to be forborn; but where no such thing is in condemning or acknowledging any thing that is past, nor any such restraining bond in­consistent with duty for the time to come, there may be accesse to union, even where there are many pub­lick defects, which is the thing laid down to be cleared.

In the fourth place we premit, That for attainingM [...]uali condescend­ing neces­sary. of union there would be, and there ought to be, large mutuall condescending, that is, that both sides ought to streach themselves, not only to forbear what is sinfull; nor only to condescend to what may be thought simply necessary, and may be extorted as du­ty in any case; Nor yet ought condescending to be upon one side levelled according to the length that another goeth, but condescending would be levelled mutually according as expediencie calleth for, with respect to the edification of the Church; for which end even many infirmities of others are to be for born, and things otherwayes unreasonable in respect of these men we have to do with, yet respect to the Churches peace, ought to make men cede in these; [Page 325] for, if there ought to be condescending for private peace, much more ought it to be for Church-peace and publick edification: and though we cannot nor will not now be particular in this, yet concerning it, we may lay down these considerations,

1. In what may involve a man in sin, or in the ap­probation [...] there must be no con­descending thereof in others, there is no condescend­ing, but what length may warrantably be gone, even to the utmost border of duty, men ought to go for this end; so that nothing ought to be a stop or march in condescension, but this, I cannot do this and sin against God; otherwayes, one ought to be all things to others. This consideration will be more clear, by comparing it with the former Rules, and what afterward may be said.

2. This condescension would be mutuall uponIt ought to be mutual. both sides, that is, one party would not expect full submission from the other, for that is not union, but dominion; Hence the Apostle in his pressing of uni­on in such cases, doth ordinarily pray, and obtest both sides. And seing affection is the main ground of union, it is fit, there should be condescension for mutuall testifying of respect each to other. This is also confirmed by an Epistle of Calvines to Mr. Knox (afterward cited) wherein he presseth that condes­cension be mutuall for removing of a division that was in his Congregation at Frankford.

3. Even that party that seemeth to be rightest inWhat [...] ought to be most con­descending the matter, or to have authority on its side, or to have countenance from others, ought yet to conde­scend, yea in some things to be most condescending, because such are in some sort parents and strong; they ought therefore the more tenderly to bear and cover the infirmities of the weak: and because they are more sober and at themselves, they therefore ought to carry the more seriously toward others, whom they suppose to be in a distemper, and not to be equal­ly groffe in handling the tender things of the Church, [Page 326] whereof union is a main one: And considering thatEven that which is right and hath autho­rity. authority is given for edification, it is not unsuitable for it to condescend for attaining its end; for which cause we find often Paul, laying by his authority in such cases, and intreating and wooing, as it were, even the meanest dissenters, in this matter of union, as we see him, Phil. 4. beseeching Euodias and Synti [...]he (who were it is like but very private persons) to be of one mind. And in ancient times we will find, 1. sometimes the innocent party ceding and conde­scending, as in the case betwixt Basilius and Eusebius at Cesarea: Basilius, though having the best side, and of greatest account, yet did first cede, by withdraw­ing for the peace of the Church; and afterward, for the good thereof, to wit, the preventing of its being tainted by the Arian heresie, he did return, and con­descend to be subject to him who was in competition with him, which tended exceedingly to the good of that Church, to the removing of that Schism, and the great praise and commendation of his zeal and singlenesse. 2. We find that oftentimes the most tender and sincere, and these who were upon the right side, have been most condescending, and of­tentimesThey who did the wro [...]g, or­dinarily most a­v [...]rse from condescen­ding. these who did the wrong (such as it was) were most averse from condescension, as in all the Schisms that have arisen upon frivolous grounds will appear. 3. These who condescended most in such things, have ever been thought the greatest friends to the Church, even sometimes when they have been deepest in the rise of the Schism, and when their side was not so justifiable as the other, yet by condescend­ing they have commended themselves more to the Churches friends than their opposites. It is marked in that schism at Antioch, betwixt Miletius and Pauli­nus, who were both Orthodox, yet had they di­vided governments, and Congregations in the Church, because of different Ordinations which had keeped them rent for some time; and although Miletius his [Page 327] Ordination and entry was not so justifiable according to the Canons, as the others was; yet the parties te­nacious upon either side being strong, there was ac­cesse to settle it by no authoritative decision: where­fore it came to a treaty by means of these that were appointed Arbiters, that so union and communion in the Ordinances might be made up in that Church; at which conference Miletius overtured, that they might joyn together as Bishops to take care of one Flock while they lived, and after the death of either, he who survived should be only Bishop of the united Flock, unto whom one only should succeed to have charge of all, for preventing of division for the time to come; to which overture, Paulinus would not ac­quiesce, but stood to the formality of order without valuing the Churches peace, or proposing any just ground of exception against Miletius person or Do­ctrine; he, to wit, Paulinus was counted unworthy to govern such a Church, and removed therefrom, and the other as more worthy because of that his condescending, was therefore alone invested in the go­vernment therof. 4. We will find them sometimes yeeld in all particulars that do not involve any con­sent unto, or approbation of what is wrong. It is marked by Augustine in his Writings against the Do­natists, that sometimes Councels that have condemned men, have for peace without any satisfaction, again restored them upon after thoughts; and he marketh it as a great condescension of the Bishops of Spain, that they did so in the case of Osiu [...] when he was found in­nocent by the French: they did not (saith he) perti­naciously with animosity defend their former Sentences, lest they should fall in the sacriledge of a Schism, which doth exceed all wickednesse; and with that humility, peace was keeped, because (saith he) they had rather be against their own Sentences, than the unity of the Church. And he doth upbraid that principle of the Donatists in the case of one Primianus, who was refused to be restored [Page 328] by an after Councell of theirs, because a former pretended Synod of their own had deposed him, al­leaging, and abusing that word of the Apostles for that end, Gal. 2. If I again build what I have de­stroyed, then am I found a transgressour; and he doth more commend the practice of Pretextatus and Felicianus, who being condemned (it is like unjustly) by three hundreth and eighteen Bishops, yet did, (saith he) for concords sake, return and joyn with these who did condemn them; and by them were without all losse or diminution of their honour, re­ceived into fellowship. And wat ever may be in the justice or injustice of any of these former deeds, upon the matter, yet doth he only make use of them, to shew what condescension ought to be in such cases for peace, both upon the part of Judicatories and particular persons, how ever the matter doth appear unto them; for he condemneth not the rejecting of Primianus because he was unjustly Sentenced, but be­cause there was not due respect had to the Churches peace; nor doth he commend the Spanish Bishops for recalling an unjust Sentence, which ought to be done for Justice sake; but that (though it is no qu [...]stion they did think it just) they did condescend to re­move it for preventing of a Schism, when they saw their deed dissatisfying to others. And it is so in the other case also, it is these mens submission to these that condemned them, as it evidences respect to con­cord, and not as considering any equity of the Sen­tence which is commended by him; this is in what he writeth contra Epistolam Parmeniani. lib. 1. cap. 2 3, 4 &c.

From what is said, we may lay down these nega­tive conclusions, concerning the upmaking of a breach amongst Godly and Orthodox men, where a Church hath harmony in the fundamentall points, Faith, Worship and Government, and where the thriving of the Gospel is mutually designed.

[Page 329]1. Division ought not to be endeavoured to be re­movedDivision not to be cured by destroying any Ortho­dox side or party. in such a case, in such a way as doth undo or destroy either side, because that is not the good of the whole; for every part and side in such a case, is a part of the body, although it may be not so very considerable, and it is no wisdom to cut off a mem­ber of the body, and that way to cure a distemper therein, when possibly the purging away of corrupt humours from the body, or more gentle applications might recover the same.

2. We say, that way of uniting is not to be ad­mitted, but shunned, which may incapacitate any Minister or member of the body that is fit for edify­ing of the same, from having accesse thereunto; for so the Church is prejudged, and men are rendred unable for edifying thereof. And this is not only when Sentences are past, or restraints laid on; But it may be in such like cases. As, 1. when by the terms of union some person is grieved and weighted, by annexing of some unnecessary thing which may be forborn, because by this, men go about duty with heavinesse, which is unprofitable to the Church.Union is to be essayed with due re­spect each to other with­out any note of disrespect. 2. It may be, when something that reflecteth upon any side, or person, unnecessarily, is interwoven; because such things still keep up suspicion, and make the union the more heartlesse, and doth both make such persons more faint, and also in the lesser capa­city to have weight with others for their edifica­tion, and doth leave a ground of dissatisfaction with such an agreement, that is ready afterward to break forth; Therefore union would be essayed with all due respect from each to other, and without any note of disrespect.No simply authorita­tive way is the fit mean to begin the healing of a rent Church.

3. We may gather, that no simply authoritative mean is the fit and only way of healing a rent­Church: That is indeed the way of governing an united Church, but not the way of uniting a rent­Church, especially a Church rent in particulars of [Page 330] practice and government; because the remedy must be extensive to both sides, and in such cases, at least, as to these particulars, Authority usually is declined; and though it be unjustly declined possibly, yet when it is declined, it is unable to effectuate this end; and the remedy is to be applied, not as to what agreeth to a Church that is whole, but what agreeth to a Church in such a distemper; even as a sick body is to be nourished not alwayes with the strongest and wholesomest meats which agree with such as are in health, but it is to be nourished with things suitable to its distemper, and are fit to cure it; yea, sometimes, with such things as may please the taste, when more healthfull things are not admitted. Also when both judgments are to be informed, and affecti­ons are to be gained, there must be prudentiall and affectionat wayes used for gaining these ends. Hence we see, that not only in Church-history, but in the Scriptures especially, the duty of union is more pres­sed by perswasions, intreaties, reasons to move to it, ills that follow the want thereof, and such like, than by an authoritative way, such as is used in the con­demning of Hereticks, and other scandalous persons. And indeed union hath such conjunction with the will and affections, that it must be perswaded and cannot be so commanded. And amongst such persons as are supposed to be in this difference, privat and par­ticular condescension is most becoming that respect which each ought to other.

Fifthly, We premit, That suppose sufficient conde­scensionThough one side fail in condescend­ing, the other ought not to fail. should fail upon one side, yet ought the other to condescend fully the length that is possible.

1. Because Church-union amongst Church-men is no civil bargain to use prigging therein, but what is possible is duty out of obedience to God, who com­mandeth peace in other things (and so, much more in this) as far as is possible, or as in men lyes. And, 2. because respect is to be had to the Churches good, [Page 331] whose advantage we should seek, even though others were defective; and often such condescending gaineth more for the advantage of the Church, and commen­dation of the party condescending, than if there had been more sticking, as we may see in that praise­worthy instance of Basilius his carriage, who stuck on nothing, but absolutely did lay by what was con­tended-for, without respect to his own right or in­jury, for the Churches good. And oftentimes it's one party their waiting for the others condescension, or taking occasion from their tenaciousnesse to stick, that doth keep the distance at a height.

6. Oftentimes in such debates as are amongst or­thodox Divines and Ministers, it seemeth they might be removed if one party should condescend according to the qualifications and cautions formerly laid down; yea, it seemeth it were safer for the Churches good in such a case, that either party should practically con­descend to the way of the other, than that division should be keeped up upon such grounds. For, 1. It is not supposed here, that there is any matter of faith in question, amongst such, often there was full har­mony in the Confessions of Faith, as in the instances cited. 2. There is no question for Government simply, nor for Councils and Canons, these also were acknowledged; none did disclaim the general Coun­cils, nor their acts. 3. The question often is not amongst them, Whether others should be brought to their opinion or not, I mean as to the stick of the di­vision; But often it is either, 1. upon some mistaken expression of another, or errour in some lesser point of Truth; And, in such a case, it is that great Au­gustines word, Disputable errours, or uncertain faults, are not in their pursuit to be preferred to certain peace. Or, 2. it is for some particular act of Government, or other miscarriages by misapplying of rules, or not walking according to them, or something of that kind, as was in contrary Ordinations of orthodox [Page 332] men, and such like: In which cases, we say, (and it will be found from History) That it had been ever better for the Church, that either side had practically condescended to suffer the other to rule and govern, and personally to have keeped themselves free from accession to their guilt, whether of crookednesse neg­ligence, or the like, than to have raised or entertained divisions upon such accounts. For, often orthodox, and otherwayes blamelesse men, have b [...]en made, by such divisions, factious and carnal in their carriage, and much unusefull; who otherwayes, had they been free of that tentation, might have proved sober, and profitable; and, when the tentation was over, were found to be such.

7. We may observe, that though in the primitive times there were diverse schisms and divisions, con­cerning Synods and Government, yet we will find that these contests and divisions did flow from the matter and particular acts and actings thereof, and that there was hardly ever division tabled upon the formality of the constitution of a Council or Synod; nor yet, that much difference was put betwixt decli­ning of their authority, and of the Acts or Censures past by them. Concerning which we may observe these generals,

1. If the matter was right and satisfying that wasIt was the actings and no [...] the for­mality of Sy­nods that oc­casioned di­vision of old. concluded by many Bishops and Church-men, there was an acquiescing in the authority thereof. 2. If the matter were displeasing and hurtfull, of whatever form it was, and of whatever number, its authority was not much respected, because it consisted only in adding weight to these things, as we may see in the Arian Councils, which were often very numerous, and others also that were erroneous, and otherwayes corrupt, although there was no formal declinatour of them, or protestation against them as null; though there were sometimes some dissentients in them, yet was not their authority any way confirmed by the [Page 333] forbearing of such Protestations or Declinatours. 3. Sometimes we will find worthy men appearing before and answering unto most corruptly constituted Synods, as was in those same times, and although they were sentenced and deposed by them, yet did they never esteem these Sentences to have the more authority, as we may see in the case of Athanasius, Chrysostom, and many others. 4. Sometimes they did protest against Synods as null, when they saw violence and iniquity prevail in the [...], as was done in the Council of Antioch, in the case of Eustachius; and was done in the second Council of Ephesus by Flavia­nus and Anatolius. Sometimes also upon seen ha­zard, and designs of professed corrupt enemies, Pro­testations were drawn in writ antecedently; as in that Protestation which the Reformers in Germany gave out against the Council of Trent, after its indicti­on; because there was no probable accesse for Truth to have liberty in speaking, and equity in judgment; And as Sleydan hath it set down, they alleaged Cyril­lus for the first practiser of this, in the time that the Arians prevailed. This we may see is their practice when they have to do with professed enemies; not sticking on formalities, but on what was materiall. And again, amongst themselves, the Orthodox used not to stick upon the trying and scanning of the for­mality of any of these Councils (for certainly in such corruptions as were so universal, Synods cor­rupt for the plurality of them, might have been had with all the formalities and solemnities that could be required in the external constitution of any lawfull Synod) but when they had occasion to meet, they went to the doing of what was for the present good of the Church, condemning the matter of such cor­rupt Synods; which they did account sufficient in such cases: And for difference amongst themselves, when they were of a right temper, they did also en­deavour to redresse such particulars as needed, and [Page 334] to restore persons unjustly sentenced, and the like; Whereby it appeareth that the matter both in things of general and particular concernment, did ever bear most sway.

8. Although such debates concerning Govern­mentDebates con­cerning go­vernment more diffi­cultly remo­ved. seem most easie to be removed, yet often and al­most ever, they have been most difficulty healed, and have been followed with greatest bitternesse and con­tention in the Church; for, different Judgements simply, and also different Ceremonies, and different practices in other things, may consist without direct opposition or counteracting, and may either be the more easily born or removed: but when it comes to Government, whose Sentence shall stand, whose Or­dination shall be acknowledged, who shall have place to decide such and such things, and the like, it is far otherwayes. Hence it came to passe that men could keep union and communion with others that differed from them in far greater points of Truth; but to persons that did not acknowledge their Autho­rity, or did acknowledge those that did controvert with them thereanent, they could by no means so condescend: Because, 1. in Government, mens own particular interest is more concerned than in points of Truth, and that inadvertently stealeth in upon men. 2. Because, in Government the question is not only for what is past, but there is a fear of what may come: Hence men that have some testimony in themselves that they are not ambitio [...]s of Govern­ment, yet having taken up a prejudice against others, they are suspicious that if such had power, they would miscarry, not only in reference to them, but in reference to publick concernment; And there­fore in removing such a division that is in point of Government, the great difficulty is not so much to heal and remove what is past, as to prevent the fear of what may come, if such continue to govern. And this maketh, that the result of such division is, Tha [...] [Page 335] either they themselves, or such as they have confi­dence in particularly, may have the weight of go­vernment upon them, which may indeed be aimed at with some sincerity; because being someway alie­nated with prejudice, they do not think it fit for the good of the work, at least during that time, that any others should have such trust; and this made the heat of debates in the time of division, to break out mainly in the ordination of Bishops, and planting of Churches; because by that means their interest in the government was keeped up, whereby there was after-accesse to the management of every other thing according as this succeeded.

CHAP. VIII. Some preparatory endeavours for uniting.

ALthough we have been somewhat large in these generals, because of the falling in of severall things, yet we conceive it may be usefull to the point, and we may have the speedier progresse afterward in loosing this great que­stion, What an orthodox Church divided in it self in some circumstantiall truths (to speak so) or con­trary practices and actings, when still agreeing in the fundamentals of Doctrine, Worship, Discipline and Government, and having mutuall esteem of the integrity one of another: What, I say, such are cal­led to do for the healing of that breach? In refe­rence to which, these things, or this method would be followed.

1. All, especially Ministers, would walk underWalking un­der an im­pression of the dread­fulnesse of such a plague the impression of the dreadfulnesse and terriblenesse of such a plague; It is like, if God were looked to as angry at a Church, and at Ministers in such a time, men would be in the greater fitnesse to speak concern­ing a healing. Some time therefore would be be­stowed [Page 336] on this, to let that consideration sink down in the soul, that the Lords hand may be taken up therein; the many sad consequents thereof would be represented to the mind, and the heart would be seri­ously affected and humbled therewith, as if sword, pestilence or fire were threatened; yea, as if the Lord were spitting in Ministers faces, rubbing shame upon them, and threatning the making of them des­picable, the blasting of the Ordinances in their hands, the loosing the girdle of their loins, and au­thority amongst the people, the plucking up of the hedges to let in Boars and Wolves to spoil the Vines, and destroy the flock; and, in a word, to remove His candlestick, so that Ministers or other persons in such a case, have not only men that are their opposits to look to as angry at them, but they have the Lord to look to as their party, whose anger hath thus divided them; and the not observing of this, maketh men the more confident under such a judgement; Where­as, seing it is a plague, men, even such as suppose themselves innocent, as to the immediate rise thereof, ought to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, with respect to this as to other plagues.

2. Men would also look upon it as a snare; OA fearfull snare in di­vision. how many tentations have such divisions accompa­nying them, especally to Ministers; and also how many afflictions, crosses and reproaches, upon the back of these! Might it not make a Minister tremble to think upon the matter of divisions, that now be­side all his former difficulties and straits, there is a snare and trial in every thing; in every Sermon that he preacheth it is thus, lest his own affection steal in for the zeal of God, to make him hoter and more vehement against those that oppose him in such things that are controverted, than he useth to be in things more nearly concerning to the glory of God, and lest by discovering his carnalnesse, he make his Ministe­ry despicable before others, when he heareth he is in [Page 337] hazard to be i [...]ritated by a contradiction; and though there be no contradiction, he is in hazard to lay the lesse weight upon what might be for his edification, because it is spoken by one who in such and such things differeth from him. When he is in any Judi­catory, there is a tentation waiting on, by the least motion of such things, to discompose all, and make such meetings scandalous and burdensome; by this all conversing almost becometh heartlesse and com­fortlesse, the most intimate brother is either suspicious, or suspected; all construction of mens ingenuity and sincerity in anything, are, for the most part, grounded upon mens interests, as if men after that had no con­science of sinning, there is a failing of sympathie amongst brethren, &c. And may not these and ma­ny such like, make Ministers circumspect in such a case, that they may be slow to speak to what may foment division, and wary in hazarding upon snares. Alas, it is unlike this, when men use more confidence and liberty in constructing, speaking and acting, and with lesse tendernesse in times of division than at other times; and were men once impressed with the fear of sinning upon the occasions of divisions, they would be much more disposed for speaking of union.

3. Ministers and others would sobe [...]ly retire toDiligent viewing of our inward condition. take a view of their own spirituall condition, and see if they have keeped their own vineyard: and particularly, before the Lord, put themselves to these. 1. How union with him hath been prized, and if there hath been studying to be, and abide, in Christ, and to keep themselves in the love of God. 2. If there be any ground of quarrell in the present strain or by gone practice, that might have influence to pro­voke the Lord to smite them in the generall. Or, 3. and especially, If by their negligence and unfaith­fulnesse, imprudency, heat, passion, tenaciousnesse, addictednesse to other men, and too much loathnesse to displease them, prejudice at, and uncharitablnesse [Page 338] unto others, or the like, they have been any way ac­cessory to the bringing in of this evil; for which cause they would take a view both of the sins that procure it, and the evils which do dispose for it, and increase it, (which were formerly mentioned) and would be impartiall and through in this; for, it is preposterous for men to meddle in removing publick differences, while they know not how it standeth with themselves.

4. When that is done, there would be repentanceRepentance suitable. suitable to what is found, and extraordinary humi­liation and secret prayer to God, not only for them­selves and for their own particular condition, but for the publick, and particularly for healing of that breach, and that thereby God would spare His peo­ple, and not suffer His inheritance to be a reproach. It is no little furtherance to union, to have men in a spirituall, abstracted and mortified frame; for, we are sure, if it remove not difference, it will in a great part moderate the division, and restrain the carnal­nesse that usually accompanieth it, and dispose men to be more impartiall to hear what may lead fur­ther.

5. Men would not fist in this, but as they have in­terest,Union would by all war­rantable means be commended unto, and pressed upon these that differ, and by those that differ one upon ano­ther. and are led by their places, they would en­deavour soberly, warily and seriously, by speaking, writing, obtesting and otherwayes, to commend uni­on to these that differ; yea, even they that differ, would commend it to these that differ from them. We see the Apostles do this frequently in the New Testament, and that not onely in the generall to Churches, but some persons are particularly by name obtested, as, Philip. 4. 2. And in the primitive times, Bishops and Churches who were not engaged, did seriously write, and sometimes did send some of their number to Churches and eminent persons that were divided, and often their interposing did prove effectu­ [...]. And when that difference between Augustine and [Page 339] Ierome did come to some height, he (to wit, Augu­stine) pressed himself so on the other, for the begetting of a better understanding, and the abating of that difference, that he did prevail with him, and by their mutuall apologies, and better understanding one of another, they came notwithstanding of their diffe­rence to have much respect one of another. For this end Policarpus came from Asia to Rome, to stay the di­vision about Easter, which prevailed so far, that it fisted for a time. Also men, especially of the same judgement, would deal with others with whom in that they agree, to be condescending, and seriously obtest them; and when they exceed, would objur­gate them for the Churches good. This is often of great weight, and often also, men that appear most in a difference, will be hoter and carry things further than lesse engaged men of the same judgement will allow, and such ought not to be silent in such a case. Thus Ireneus (though of Victors judgement in the matter of Easter) yet did boldly expostulate with him for his vehemency in pressing of the same, to the hurt of the Churches peace, charging him to forbear and to follow union notwithstanding; which act of his, is still highly commended, and (as Eusebius ob­serveth) counted answerable to his name.

6. Serious and single thoughts of union would beConstancy and single­ness herein. laid down, and that would be purposly driven as the great duty; so that endeavours would not principal­ly tend to strengthen a side, or exouer themselves, or get advantage to others, &c. but to make one of both; and therefore when one mean or occasion faileth, ano­ther would be essayed; neither would men weary or faint herein, although it prove often a most faint­ing businesse.

7. Men would endeavour all this with tendernesseWith ten­derness and respect. and respect to mens persons, actions and qualificati­ons; for, oftentimes the rise of a division, is in the alienation of affections between some persons; which [Page 340] afterward disposeth to construct hardly both of their opinions and actions: and indeed often the stick is here, that mens affections are not satisfied one with another, and that maketh them that they do not trust each other: Hence we see, that in the Scripture, the commending of love, and of honouring and prefer­ing of others in honour to our selves, is ordinarily subjoyned to the exhortations to union, or reproofs of division, as, Philip. 2. Eph. 4. Matth. 18, &c. And we see in the primitive times▪ when no mean could cure schisms, one party shewing respect to another, or to some eminent head of the opposit party, (it may be even after their death) did alley the same, and en­gage these that formerly shunned communion, to joyn with them. It is particularly observed, That when at Constantinople some had continued separated from the Bishops government, and the Church there­of, after Chrysostom's deposition, for the space of thirty five years, and were called Iohanits; yet Proclus, who by some interval succeeded in that See, by re­cording Chrysostom's name amongst eminent persons, and making honourable mention of him, and bring­ing his body from the place where it was buried in his exile, and burying it honourably at Constantinople in the great Church of the holy Apostles, did so ap­pease and engage those that had disclaimed all the in­terveening Bishops, that instantly they did acknow­ledge him and joyn with the Church. The like also is mentioned to have been the end of that Schism at Antioch, because of Eustachius his removal from them, when Callaudion the Bishop did return his body ho­nourably to be buried, and went out with his party to receive the same solemnly some miles from the Town; those also, who out of respect to him (to wit Eustachius) had continued separated from the suc­ceeding Bishops for above an hundred years, now seeing the adverse party put respect on him, they also did from that time forth joyn with them. Both these [Page 341] are recorded in the fifth Century; and if respect to dead men be prevalent to engage affections, certainly mutual respect and evidences of confidence amongst men living, would be much more weighty. This giving of respect would be manifested in these and the like. 1. Respective mentioning in word or writ of the persons, and what concerns those that differ, especially such as are most eminent and leading amongst them. 2. There would be good constructi­ons put upon their end and intentions, and sincerity, even in such actions as are displeasing. 3. Mens opinions and actions would not be loaded with grosse absurdities and high aggravations, especially in pub­lick; because that tendeth but to make them odious, and standeth in the way of a future good understand­ing, when one hath proposed another as so absurd and hatefull a person. 4. All personal reflections would be abstained, as also sleighting answers, dis­dainfull-like words and salutations, and such like, would be shunned; But on the contrary, there would be love, familiarity, tendernesse; and if there have been any reflection or bitternesse to occasion mistake, yea, if it have been unjustly apprehended, there would be condescending to remove the same. I have heard of a worthy person, who being led away in an hour of tentation, was by many of his former friends after­wards discountenanced, whereby he was, as it were, engaged in a kind of discontent to defend his deed, and resent the disrespect of such persons, which al­most grew to a rent: but having occasion to encoun­ter one who was most opposit to his present way, who yet notwithstanding of all, did lovingly and famili­arly, as ever, imbrace him, without mentioning any such thing; it is said, That his heart melted instantly with the conviction of his former opposition, and so any further procedure towards a rent was prevented, when he saw there was yet again access to the affecti­ons of the most eminent of those he did differ from. [Page 342] 5. There would be expressions of mutual confidenceExpressi­ons of mu­tuall confi­dence. in one another, which would appear not only in per­sonall respects, but with respect to the Ministery of such as they differ from, endeavouring to strengthen and confirm that, which was the thing that endeared Basilius to Eusebius, that even while he differed, he endeavoured to have his Ministery weighty amongst the people. 6. Respect would be shewn to men of that judgment and side (it being such a difference as is supposed) they would be helped and furthered, and counted, notwithstanding thereof▪ (if otherwayes qualified) fit for trust and charge; for, this is not only engaging of a particular person, but of all the party, and doth hold forth a confidence in them not­withstanding of that; whereas the contrary is dis­obliging and irritating of all, because it proposeth all of such an opinion or practice to be unworthy of charge or trust, which no man can well digest; and it some way necessitateth them in a divided way to endeavour some other way of entering, and to in­crease their diffidence of them who so partially (in their esteem at least) manages matters, and prefers the strengthening of a side, to the edification of the Church; as any different party cannot but ex­pound it, seing they seem to themselves to have some perswasion of their own integrity in the main work. 7. There would even be mutual visits andKind visit fellowship, civil and christian, as hath been; yea, rather it would be increased; for if men have some confidence that others love their persons, respect them as Ministers, and esteem of them as Christians, they will be easily induced to trust the other as such also. 8. If reflections and bitternesse be vented by some (as even good men are too ready to indulge to themselves a liberty in debate to exceed in this) yet there would be no such meeting given. Luther is censured for ex­ceeding in this, even by such as loved him; and it is a most excellent advertisement that Calvin giveth to [Page 343] Bullenger and others, thus provoked by him, Epist. 57. That either they would not answer such a Paper at all, or, in answering it, to remember, That they had a most eminent servant of Christ to answer, and so not to be provoked by his vehemency, seing he also had corruptions; and thus expresseth his own re­solution, Etiamsi me Diabolum voca [...]et, me tamen hoc illi honoris habiturum, ut insignem Dei servum agnoscam, &c. It is upon this ground, that Augustine and others, most zealously affected with the schism of the Donatists, yet because they keeped in other things sound in the Faith, they mention such of them as were sober, very ho­nourably, and carried to them very brotherly; and particularly he used to visit their Bishops, if he had been going elsewhere for Ordination or other affairs; and some of them also used to visit him, whom he en­tertained most kindly, ever speaking to improve both for begetting a better understanding, as may be ga­thered from instances cited out of his Epistles in what is before and after this. Sometimes also when he wrote to some of them, he desired them to write so to him, as he might acquaint his people with both their Writings, and with his own, if they returned no An­swer, that thereby he might constrain them to rea­sonablenesse, yet saith, it shall be past Discessum mili­tum, that it might appear he intended not to make them odious. He doth also observe, that a main thing that made the Donatists averse from yeelding to uni­on, was a suspicion which they had, that the Catho­licks would still persecute them if they had occasion, speaking of a Conference, Epist. 163. he saith, Dictum erat (meaning by the Donatists) quod adhuc nostri eos persecuturi essent; which he with many words re­jecteth, shewing from Eph. 4. that they had learned to keep union with forbearance: elsewhere also, as Epist. 147. he excuseth the too great vehemencie of the expressions of some that were on his own side in that difference. All which sheweth the great necessi­ty [Page 344] that there is to recover affections in the pressing of union, and how far men ought to condescend in re­ference thereto, both in order to what is past, and for the preventing of what may be feared.

8. Then Ministers would not only in their ownStirring up to the life and pra­ctice of Re­ligion. practice, but in their doctrine, and otherwayes, stir up others to the practice and life of Religion. We ever find the Apostle useth this way upon the back of his exhortations to union, to presse the working out of their salvation with fear and trembling, &c. And in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus, when he dehorts Ministers from foolish and jangling questions, f [...]rifes and contentions, this remedy is either premitted or subjoyned, that they would presse the Believers to be zealous of good works, and carefull to maintain these, Tit. 3. 8, 9. That they would follow after love, righ­teousnesse, faith, peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart, 2 Tim. 2. 22, 23. for, when either Ministers or Professors are exercised and taken­up with these things, there is little accesse to other things: then also they discern the necessity of union the more, and are the more disposed for it themselves, and others are the more easily induced to unite with them. Beside, it is never in such things that godly and orthodox men do differ, but it is in diverting from these; and therefore often much heat in parti­cular differences, carrieth with it, a decay and luke­warmnesse in more practicall things; As on the con­trary, zeal in these materiall things, doth ordinarily alley and mitigate heat and fervour in the other.

9. It is fit that there were solemn addresses to God for directing and guiding in the way to this end; for,Solemn ad­dresses to God. He is the God of peace, and ought to be acknowledged in removing this great evil of division: Hence the Apostle subjoyneth prayers for peace, unto his ex­hortations thereto; and we are commanded to pray for Ierusalems peace, even Church-peace no lesse than Civil peace. It may be that the neglect of this is [Page 345] the cause that sound, godly and peaceable men, who love the welfare of Zion, do yet continue divided, and cannot fall upon means of healing, that thereby the necessity of the Lords interposing may be discer­ned, and that there may be purposed addresses for this same thing, and that men may not undervalue the thing, nor their adversaries in it, so as not to ac­count it a rod, seing it is God they have to do with, nor be content to lye under it without aiming and dealing to have it removed by Him, as we would deal for the removall of any temporall plague, or expect a blessing upon this Gospel.

CHAP. IX. What things are to be forborn in order to uniting.

HAving laid down these generall helps, we are now to consider what is yet to be forborn and abstained from in reference to union: For, as ordinarily divisions rise and are [...]omented, from and by doing and driving of some things, which others cannot concur in, or come up to; So when such things are abstained from, there is the nearer accesse to union; at least, it stoppeth the impetuousness of di­vision, and maketh it to look liker a difference, which (considering humane infirmity) is neither so intole­rable in [...], nor hurtfull to the Church. Beside therefore what hath been said for abstaining of per­sonal reflections, or what may irritate persons, or parties, or what may entertain jealousie or diffidence amongst them, whereof something hath been touched upon, We shall add these things further,

1. All things that contribute to weaken the reputeAvoiding of all things that weaken the reputati­on of others. of others, or to beget an hard impression of them in our selves or in others, in the general, would be for­born; such as telling of reproachfull reports, even though they be true, much more if they be but re­ported, [Page 346] yea, or the hearing of such with any delight, endeavouring to waken up discontents in others against opposits, by such informations, solicitations and the like. These are condemned in private mens carriages, and are the causes of continuing such dif­ferences (for, where no tale-bearer is, strife ceaseth, Prov. 26.) much more amongst Ministers who ought not to walk as men. Also good heed would be taken to such as may have influence on advices, counsels and resolutions to that purpose, lest underhand-whis­perers, who really may mind some further alteration in the Church, and may really be imbittered at ho­nest men for their honesty, should yet insinuat them­selves with eminent men on both sides, and so carryEvil counsel on the division, and disappoint the union; As for instance, Some, not altogether purged from drianism, and imbittered at honest Bishops, as Athanasius, Osius, and others, did steal in upon the one side of a debate, and held on the controversie against faithfull men; So Epiphanius was intangled by Theophilus of Alexan­dria to oppose Chrysostom upon pretext of another dif­ference; Sometimes again, on the other side, such as inclined to the Novatians, wanted not influence to strengthen the opposit party, and to keep them at a greater distance from the other, as being grosse in re­ceiving Traditores (as they called them) unto their society. Sometimes men justly censured, or fearing censure from faithfull Bishops, did spread calumnies against them, and made them odious, under pretext of their pride, arrogance, unsoundnesse and such like, even unto other orthodox men; Sometimes again, time-serving men, by flattering Magistrates did exe­cute their revenge against faithfull Bishops, by keep­ing up Divisions against them, driving on Sentences of Deposition, and such like, under pretext of other faults; whereby the Churches peace hath been often marred and her divisions continued, as is clear in those schisms and divisions at Constantinople, first, in [Page 347] reference to Chrysostom, and afterward in reference to Ignatius, who, by a faction in the Church, was deposed, really to please the Emperour, whose incestuous mar­riage he would not approve as they did: therefore I say in the removing of differences, and resolving of duties in reference to union, there is great need of cir­cumspectnesse in trying and choosing whose counsels are to be laid weight upon; for, all men love not peace, neither seek singly the good of the Church, and want not their own prejudices and grudgings at particular eminent persons, who (where men are not very denied and mortified) will easily steal-in to mar a publick good, under pretext of particular respect to the person, whom, by so doing, they stir up. It's marked by Sleydan as the cause of that unreasonable and unnatural division that brake-out and grew in Germany, almost to the undoing of Religion therein, betwixt the Elector of Saxony, and Maurice afterward Elector, that some Counsellors not well-minded to Religion▪ but favourers of the wicked way of Henry, to whom Maurice succeeded, who for that cause had hatred at the Elector and those who were eminent for Reformation, and now having taken on a profession, and insinuated themselves in the counsels and affecti­on of Maurice, and finding some begun matter of dissention in other particulars, did so kindle and foster it, till they brought the division to that height, that one part of the Protestants were engaged with Anti­christ and his followers to destroy the other; and yet so closely carried, that the difference was never stated upon the real account, which indeed such did intend. Also men not so nearly concerned in the Churches di­visions▪ as suppose they be of another Church, or men not so immediately concerned in the debates thereof, and the effects that follow thereupon; As in that Council of Carthage, they enact that tendernesse be used to the Donatists, and means be used to reclaim them; and for that end did acknowledge their Mini­sters, [Page 348] though ordained in a schism, to be Ministers, although the Church of Rome did write otherwayes to them, and did act otherwayes themselves: These would be looked unto. Sometimes also there are a sort of persons who long not for union; for, as there is an itching after new doctrine in some, so is there for divisions and changes amongst others, who may be sound in doctrine, who in this are to be ad­verted to.

2. Men would eschew in such a case judicially to engage in such differences, either by passing decisions in these things pro or contra in Judicatories, or byForbearing to engage judicially pro or con. censuring, or noting with any reproach such as differ from them. For, 1. that maketh the division the more difficultly removable in it self. And, 2. it en­gageth both sides the more, and proveth a let to re­tiring when men would, and heighteneth the diffe­rence exceedingly. In that difference that was be­tween Cyprian and Stephanus, and other Bishops of Rome, concerning the rebaptizing of such as had been baptized by Hereticks and Schismaticks, It is marked that Stephanus did presse the condemnation of it, did censure and refuse communion with such as joyned with Cyprian in his opinion: On the contra­ry, Cyprian did indeed call Synods and decide, but neither pressed any man to his opinion or practice, nor Censured any that differed in such a matter; And because his carriage is so much commended by the Ancients, especially by Augustine, against the Donatists, not because he counted Cyprian right on the matter; for, he disclaimed that, and owned the contrary opi­nion; but because he carried in his opinion so ten­derly to the Churches union and peace. We shall observe two or three passages of his, and of Augu­stines concerning him. 1. In his Epistle ad Jubian­num, Haec rescripsimus, inquit, nemi [...] praescribentes aut praejudicantes quo minus unusquisque Episcoporum, quod putat faciat. Et ne quisquam pellendus à caeterorum [Page 349] consortio videretur (dicit) nos quantum in nobis est prop­ter haereticos cum collegis & Coepiscopis nostris non con­tendimus, cum quibus aivinam concordiam & pacem tene­mus. Et Paulo post, Serventur (inquit) à nobis patien­ter & leniter charitas animi, collegii honor, vinculum fi­dei, concordia sacerdotii. Which words and many others are cited by Augustine de Baptismo, lib. 6. cap. 17. And in another place, when he hath cited this same last Sentence and other words, giving the reason which the Apostle hath, 1 Cor. 11. If any man will be contentious, we have no such custome, nor the Churches of God: after which a little, Augustine subjoyneth this approbation of his carriage; Majus quippe in eo ro­bur virtutis eminuit, cum ist a quaestio nondum discuss a nu­taret, quod aliter sentiens quam multi collegae, tantam mo­derationem obtinuit, ut Ecclesiae Dei sanctam societatem, nulla schismatis labe truncaret, quam si omnia non solum veraciter, sed etiam pariter sine ista virtute sentiret; De Baptismo, lib. 5. cap. 17. This he saith, even though Cyprians opinion was confirmed by diverse Councels of Carthage. Which sheweth what influence such abstinence hath on the Churches peace, which is the more observable, that he used this forbearance when he had the generality of the Church of Africk, and the authority of their Councels for him; and also was provoked by the vehemency of his opposits, and their Censuring such as were of his opinion; yet he forbare, not because he doubted of the soundnesse of his judgement, but because he respected the Churches peace, and even then did he write sweetly in many Epistles, and a particular treatise, pressing the unity of the Church; for which he is eminently esteemed of as an excellent pattern in such a case by all sober and judicious men.

3. In such cases when union is desired, men would abstain the propagating of their opinions in any pur­posed and publick way. This is not to restrain a mans sober, christian and necessary vindicating of [Page 350] himself in a due way. But, 1. All unnecessaryAbstaining from propa­gating their opinions fa­ctiously. traffick that is principally for strengthening of a par­ty. 2. Publishing in print, things to that purpose, when there is no conveniency for the Churches good. 3. Making motions in Judicatories that awakens siding. 4. Insisting thereon in publick preaching. And, lastly, (When there is some necessity to speak or write on such things) all reflections and irritati­ons, would be abstained; yea, it is fit that some­times every word spoken, or written upon one side, should be past over by the other, without reply, for peaces sake. Because, 1. the broader such diffe­rences spread, they take the deeper root, and increase siding more amongst the people. 2. Because, they irritate more and keep off men from thinking of peace. 3. Because the memory of these things is ready to riffle mens minds, Therefore most eminent men have wished, that all Papers pro or contra in such differences might be buried; for, one difference be­getteth another, and one paper draweth forth another, none being willing that his adversary should have the last word; and oftentimes papers propagate a controversie to a succeding generation, to whom it had been good that many things had never been in writ. Also often, such writings prove edifying to few, and they but make Church-division the subject of more discourse, and Ministers to be the more con­temptible; and do in themselves often involve many contrradictions against one another, which readily are not possible to be cleared in matters of fact, and reflections one upon another; which derogateth ex­ceedingly from the honour of the Ministery. It is marked of Constantine, that when at the Council of Nice, there were many opposit papers of differences amongst Bishops presented, he took them, and hav­ing gravely admonished the Bishops for their con­tending amongst themselves, would not have one of them read, but said, he would cover such infirmities [Page 351] as they were bringing to light, by their contradicti­ons, with his purple. This way also hath been followed for stopping of divisions in diverse reformed Churches.

4. All contrary acting would be abstained, as inContrary acting. Elections, Ordinations, or the like, because these fix▪ as with a nail, the difference, as may be gathered from history. It were better many a time for the Churches good, that any one side had suffered the Bishop, ordained by the other, solely to possesse the place, or that none had been ordained at all, than that opposit Ordinations had been; because, that so the Church was divided even in communion, and such particulars have been ever difficultly composed, and ever exceedingly instrumentall to continue a breach, and it led men in Congregations to be facti­ous, and to seek to gain men and affections to their party.

5. All separated and divided meetings would beSeparated meetings to be eschewed. eschewed, whether the separation be totall in respect of all Ordinances and communion in generall, as sometimes divisions have come amongst orthodox men to such a height; Or, whether it be partiall, suppose in Government, Sacraments, &c. or any of these; because so not only way is made to a totall se­paration, but thereby there is a divided shape put upon the one Church, and occasion is given for one party to condemn another, and so to beget more strife; and especially, because it habituateth men to think themselves not of one body, and, as it were, erecteth a Church or Altar against another (as the Fathers were wont to speak) and so becometh a drawn line of division, and doth really make the difficulty of uniting the more difficult; because ere union be made up, that partition must be pulled down. It is fit therefore that either all such occasions of Fasts, &c.And sepa­rated Fasts. wherein all cannot joyn, should be forborn; or that they be so ordered, as there may bee union in them.

[Page 352]6. Such acts and principles as put restraint uponActs and Principles laying re­straints up­on either side. either side, making others incapable of Church-trust or the like, or which declareth them to be so, would be prevented; and if established, would be orderly removed; because such things make a partition be­twixt two, and heighten such a difference beyond the nature thereof: Also they evidence much prejudice and alienation of mind, and they seem to constrain men to an union, which is never right if it be not vo­luntary. Hence we see that the great friends of peace have ever endeavoured to prevent or remove such; as in the instances of Policarp, Ireneus and Cyprian, is clear, who did not only endeavour to remove Censures, but even censurablenesse from persons so differing. This also is very obliging to the opposit party. In that 163. Epistle of Augustines (which is much to this pur­pose) mention is made of one Cenethlius, a Catholick Bishop, who (saith he) was much esteemed of by the Donatists, Quod constitutionem datam contra eos, compresserit, & effectum habere non siverit.

CHAP. X. What is to be done in order to Uniting.

NOw we may be the shorter in speaking to what is to be done in reference to particular diffe­rences, seing much may be gathered from these generals premitted, and it is not our purpose to be particular; Yet we say,

1. That it is the duty of such to be seeking unionSeeking Meetings. one with another, and for that cause to be making offer of, and desiring meetings and conferences, and to be urging harmony one upon another. In that Council of Carthage, whereof Aurelius was Modera­tor, they did appoint Conferences to be sought for with the Donatists, although they had been long in a schism; and for that end did appoint Com­missioners, [Page 353] and did give instructions to go from place to place, and to endeavour a settlement, whereof these were a part, That their former schism and sepa­rationAnd offer­ing fair conditions. should be prejudiciall to none; That Mini­sters and Bishops should continue in their charges if otherwayes they were worthy, notwithstanding of their former separation: which is observed not to have wanted fruit in many places, as the acts and events are recorded by Balsamon. And this is accord­ing to the generall rule of following peace, even when it seemeth to flie from men; And questions that may engender strife are to be avoided and fled from, when they seem to follow after men, because, as Paul saith, 2 Tim. 2. 22. &c. The servant of the Lord must not strive, &c. On this ground we find, that many of Augustines Epistles, direct to Donatists and others, are to this purpose, craving friendly communings; and when he hath had occasion to be in cities where Do­natist-Bishops were, he used to visit them, and enter conference friendly with them; and if any hope was, he wrote to others to entertain the same, as particu­larly may be gathered from Epist. 147. where he ho­nourably mentioneth Promelianus in the desire of a conference; and because he knew the too great ve­hemency of one Evodius, though of his own side, had offended him, he did excuse it, saying amongst other things, Id hominis aetati ignoscendum est, &c. The like he also hath, Epist. 163. when he mentioneth Fortunius, whom he had conferred with, with this te­stimony to these he writeth to, Quantum enim arbitror difficilime potestis invenire in Episcopis vestris tam utilem animum, & voluntatem, quam in isto sene perspeximus; And therefore presseth them to entertain the begun conference, though he might not stay.

2. In carrying on such meetings, respect would beA right way of car­rying on such meet­ings. had to union in the ordering of every circumstance; as in the persons chosen, that they may be men inclined to peace, respected by the other party concerned in [Page 354] the Churches differences, and free of the suspicions formerly hinted, and such like, lest by an intended union there follow a greater rent and division, as of­tentimes hath been seen in conferences amongst dissen­tient men. Here also a speciall respect would be had to the expressing of mutuall benevolence in words and carriages, lest some hard impression seize on men at the entry. Choise also would be made of the sub­ject first to be spoken of; as what may be thought most subject to mistake, heat or contention, would be left to the last place; and what may be conceived more plausible-like to both, would be begun at, that it may be rather known wherein men agree, than wherein they differ, at the entry at least. Possibly also union in fundamentall things, being accorded un­to, it may make way for moderating affections in other things lesse fundamentall. This method was ever urged by Bucer, Beza and other Reformers, who keeped conferences at first with the Lutheran party; because, beginning at some point of Doctrine, or particular in practice, wherein the difference is high­est, doth often at the entry rifle mens humours▪ and break off conferences abruptly with the more heat, as experience in these debates at that time did make too too manifest.

3. Such meetings for conference would be seriouslyContenti­on about formalities to be for­born. and condescendingly improved for the end designed: As, 1. protractings of time, or janglings about cir­cumstances would be eschewed; as also tenacious­nesse, and contentiousnesse about formalities of pro­ceeding, and particular insisting upon contradictions in matters of fact, because such things become not the gravity and seriousnesse of men aiming at such an end, But the main businesse would be soberly and se­riously gone about, and that timeously; for, men should not meet to take advantage one of another by such formalities, but to procure the good of the Church. 2. Criminations, or objecting of perso­nall [Page 355] faults one to another or difference in particulars,Personall criminati­ons. would either be altogether forborn, or left to the last place, and the main matter would be first handled, and particulars accordingly squared. 3. Their would be condescending to follow some circumstan­ces, even though they seem not so reasonable, lest by the wilfull adhering of one party to a circumstance, the end be disappointed; yea, sometimes more ma­teriall things, at lest till there be a better understand­ing begotten, are to be ceded in, when it may be without sin▪ if so be it may contribute for the carry­ing on of such a design, and we will almost ever findThe most tender of the Church, most con­descending these that are most tender of the Churches good to be most condescending in all these; As amongst other instances, we will find in that conference between the Catholicks and Donatists, at which Augustine was pre­sent, and which is set down by him; wherein, amongst other things, these are clear, 1. That not only the Catholicks sought the meeting, but also pressed the speaking unto the main businesse, which the other did sometimes deny, saying, It was not lawfull for the children of Martyrs to meet with the children of apostate or wicked men; and sometimes by formali­ties, jangling questions, they protracted time to es­chew the main thing. 2. It is clear, that also the Catholicks condescended to many of their suits, and yeelded to account them Bishops, and did not con­tradict, but cede at the entry, that Churches should be rendered to these from whom they were taken, if so be that might have enclined them to union, and that even by benefits they might be mollified, and stood on no circumstantiall thing with them. Such meet­ings have often been disappointed with such vain janglings, especially when numbers have been con­fusedly admitted, and when each party hath charged another with former miscarriages, As Augustine ob­serveth, Epist. 163. and therefore hath that word to them, Neque nos illis debere objicere suorum scelera, [Page 356] neque illos nobis. And, because the Donatists upbraided the Catholicks (as the orthodox are called in all these debates) that they were guilty of persecuting them, because they had proceeded to some Sentences, and procured commission from Civil powers against them to put them from their charges, (These times they called tempora Macariana, because of such a person that was eminent in the executing thereof) And again, the Catholicks used to object to them, beside their schism, Headinesse, irregular violences, and the like, because of the practices of the Circumcellions, who, having fallen off with the Donatists, went also in many ab­surdities beyond them; therefore when he is pressing a conference, Epist. 203. Tollamus (saith he) inania objecta, nec tu objicias tempora Macariana, nec ego sae­vitiam Circumcellionum. And in Epist. 107. saith, that in his conference with Fortunius, Placuit omnibus in talibus disputationibus violenta facta malorum hominum nobis ab invicem objici non debere. And there is no little furtherance or prejudice to a conference accordingly as this advice is followed or not, seing often such bygone particulars will heat more, than that which is of greater concernment in the main cause.

4. To make the instances more particular, the matter concerning which debate arises and falls to be the subject of the conference, may be distinguished, and so more clearly spoken unto: Which is, 1. ei­ther a difference in some doctrinall thing. Or, 2. some particular practice, or some personall mis­carriage. Or, 3. something in Worship. Or, 4. something in Government, or such like.

CHAP. XI. What is to be done in closing doctrinal differences.

1. FOr doctrinal differences of judgment, there are three wayes to close them; (it is to be adverted, that the difference is not supposed to be in any fundamental thing) First, By sober andThe first way of clo­sing doctri­nall diffe­rences. serious conference, one party may bring another to the same judgment with them; or, both parties may quit something of extremities, and joyn in a middle opi­nion. This is the most solid union, when men come to think and speak the same thing, and sometime hath been attained. Yet concerning this, we say, 1. That all union is not to depend on this, as hath been said. 2. It hath been very rarely attained, espe­cially when difference hath spread and rooted it self by debating and contradiction, seing even good men have both infirmity and corruption. 3. We say, that publick dispute, either by word or writ, hath ne­ver proven very usefull, even amongst good men, to attain this end, But ordinarily such debates have heightned the controversie, and engaged men more; so that if any thing prevail towards this, it is friend­ly, familiar conferences opening truth, rather than formal stated disputations; because in such, men are (as it were) upon their guard, and fully do exercise their wit; in the other, there is more accesse to inform the judgment, by a loving, grave, serious manner of speaking of the truth, and that privatly to others, espe­cially to such as are of reputation for parts and abili­ty, and that it be not done in vain, as Paul hath it, Gal. 2. 2. And it's observable that he speaketh this in reference to his way, when he intended the evidencing of his agreement with the chief Apostles in the mat­ter of doctrine. Also we find meeknesse and instruct­ing put together, when there is any expectation to re­cover [Page 358] one from a difference, 2 Tim. 2. 15. and con­vincing or disputing is more especially applicable to these of whom there is little hope, out of respect to the edification of others. Hence we find the Apostles disputing with false teachers in some points of truth, but rather intreating and exhorting Believers to have peace amongst themselves, notwithstanding of lesser differences.

A second way of composure, is, when such agree­mentThe second way of com­posing such differences in judgment cannot be obtained, To endeavour a harmony and keep unity notwithstanding of that difference, by a mutual forbearance in things con­troverted: which we will find to be of two sorts. The first is, to say so total, that is, when neither side doth so much as doctrinally in word, writ, or Sen­tences of Judicatories, presse any thing that may con­firm or propagate their own opinion, or condemn the contrary, But do altogether abstract from the same out of respect to the Churches peace, and for the pre­venting of scandal; and do in things wherein they agree according to the Apostle's direction, Philip. 3. 16. Walk by the same rule, and minde the same things mutually, as if there were no such differences, and waiting in these till the Lord shall reveal the same unto them. This way is safe, where the doctrine up­on which the difference is, is such, as the forbearing the decision thereof, doth neither mat any duty that the Church in general is called to, nor endanger the salvation of souls through the want of clearness there­in nor, in a word, infer such inconveniences to the hurt of the Church, as such unseasonable awakening and keeping up of differences and divisions may have with it; Because the scope of bringing forth every truth, or confirming the same by any authoritative sanction, &c. is the edification of the Church; and therefore when the bringing forth thereof doth de­stroy more than edifie, it is to be forborn. Neither can it be ground enough to plead for such decisions in [Page 359] preaching, that the thing they preach-for is truth, and the thing they condemn is errour. Because, 1. it is not the lawfulnesse of the thing simply that is in question, but the necessity and expediency thereof in such a case: Now, many things are lawfull that are not expedient, 1 Cor. 10. 23. 2. In these differences that were in the primitive times concerning meats, dayes, genealogies, &c. there was a truth or an er­rour upon one of the sides, as there is a right and a wrong in every contradiction of such a kind, yet the Apostle thinketh fitter, for the Churches peace, that such be altogether refrained, rather than any way (at least in publick) insisted upon or decided. 3. Because no Minister can bring forth every truth at all times, he must then make choice; And I sup­pose some Ministers may die, and all do so, who have not preached every truth, even which they knew, un­to the people. Beside, there are (no question) many truths hid to the most learned. Neither can this be thought inconsistent with a Ministers fidelity, who is to reveal the whole counsel of God; because, that counsel is to be understood of things necessary to mens salvation, and is not to be extended to all things whatsoever; for, we find the great Apostle expound­ing this in that same Sermon, Act. 20. ver. 20. I have keeped back nothing that was profitable unto you; which evidenceth that the whole counsel of God, or the things which he shewed unto them, is the whole, and all that was profitable for them, and that for no by-respect or fear whatsoever he shunned to reveal that unto them. Also, it is clear, that there are many truths which are not decided by any judiciall act; and amongst other things, sparingnesse to decide truths that are not fundamentall judicially hath been ever thought no little mean of the Churches peace, as the contrary hath been of division.

The third way (which is the second sort of the for­mer) of composure, is mixed, When there is some [Page 360] medling with such questions, yet with such forbea­rance,The third way of com­posing such differences that though there be a seen difference, yet there is no schism or division, but that is seriously and tenderly prevented; as upon the one side, some may expresse their mind in preaching and writing on a particular question one way, others may do it diffe­rently; yet both with that meeknesse and respect to those they differ from, that it doth beget no rent, nor give just ground of offence, nor mar union in any other thing; Or, it may possibly come to be decided in a Synod, yet with such forbearance upon both sides, that it may prove no prejudice to union; those who have authority for them, not pressing it to the prejudice of the opinion, names, consciences of the other, or to their detriment in any respect; but al­lowing to them a liberty to speak their minds, and walk according to their own light in such particulars: And on the contrary, the other resting satisfied in the unity of the Church, without condemning them, or pressing them to condemn themselves; because so in­deed their liberty is no lesse than others who have the decision of a Synod for them: And thus men may keep communion and union in a Church, even where by the Judicatories thereof, some lesser not fun­damental errour, which doth also infer unwarranta­able practices, is authoritatively concluded. We have a famous instance of this in the Church of Africa in the dayes of Cyprian, which by the Ancients hath ever been so much esteemed of. There was a difference in that Church concerning the Rebaptizing of Here­ticks and Schismaticks after their conversion, or, of such as had once fallen in to them; Cyprian and the greatest part thought their first Baptism null, or, by their fall, made void; others thought it not so, who were the lesser part, yet right as to this particular; There was meetings on both sides for defence of their opinions. Also in a Council of near three hundred Bishops, it is judicially and authoritatively conclu­ded; [Page 361] yet that Synod carried so, as they did not only not censure any that dissented, nor presse them to con­form in practice to their judgment; but did also en­tertain most intimat respect to them, and familiarity with them, as may be gathered from what was for­merly hinted. And upon the other side, we do not find any in that Church making a schism upon the account of that judicial erroneous decision (though at least by three several Synods it was ratified) but con­tenting themselves to have their consciences free by retaining their own judgement, and following their own practice, till time gave more light and more oc­casion to clear that truth. And we will never find in the Writings of any time, more affection amongst brethren, and more respect to peace, than was in that Church at that time amongst those that differed; And there is not any practice more commended in all the Church-history and Writings of the Fathers, than this practice; as partly may be gathered from what was formerly touched out of Augustine. And if we will consider the case rationally, we will find that it is not impossible to have union in a Church where there is in such a difference an authoritative decision, even supposing that side, on which the errour lyes, to be ap­proved. For, 1. There is no necessity for such as have authority for them, to presse others in their judgment or practice in such things; neither can it be thought that such a decision can of it self satisfie all scruples, neither yet that men doubtingly may follow; Nor, lastly, that such controversies can bear the weight of troubling the Church, by censuring such as other­wayes may be faithfull, seing sometimes even unfaith­full men have been spared with respect to the Chur­ches good, as hath been said. And, secondly, upon the other side, such a constitution of a Church, doth not involve all that keep communion therein, in the guilt thereof, if personally they be free; as in the in­stance of the Jewish Church is clear: where, no [Page 362] question many corrupt acts have been established, yet did it neither make communion in Worship or Go­vernment to be unlawfull, where the matter and manner of carriage was lawfull. Beside, this would infer, that no Judicatory could keep union, where there were contrary votes, or a Sentence past without unanimity: because that is certainly wrong to them who think otherwayes, and if so, there could be no Judicatory expected either in Church or State; for, it cannot be expected, that they shall be still unani­mous, or, that the greater part shall cede to the lesser, and rescind their own act. Also, suppose there should be such a division upon one difference, can it be ex­pected that those who unite upon the divided sides respectively, shall again have no more difference amongst themselves? and if they have, shall there not be a new division? and where shall this end? And seing men must resolve to keep unity where there are faults of such a nature, or to have none at all, it is as good to keep it at first, as to be necessitated thereto afterward. The Orthodox urge this argument against the Donatists, who would not keep union with them, because of pretended corruptions in the proceedings of Judicatories and Ordinations; yet were con­strained to bear with such amongst themselves, and particularly to receive, and unite with the Maximinia­nists, whose communion they had once rejected, though a branch of their own faction, because they saw no end of divisions if they did not resolve to dis­pense with such things amongst themselves. And Augustine often asserteth, that they were never able to answer this argument when it was propounded to them, to wit, Why they did not give them that same latitude, in keeping communion with them, which they had given to the Maximinianists, who were guilty of such things as they imputed to them? We con­ceive then, that even in such a case there may be union for prosecuting the main work of the Gospel, not­withstanding [Page 363] of such a circumstantial difference, if men otherwayes set themselves to it; and the generall grounds, formerly laid down, do confirm this.

CHAP. XII. What to do for union in points not doctrinall, but about matters of fact or personall faults.

IF the difference be not doctrinall in point of judg­ment, at least only, but being in matter of fact, as personall faults and corruptions; whereby the one is ready to object to the other some bypast fail­ings, and miscarriages: whereupon by inconsiderat upbraidings, pressing of Censures, or condemnation of what hath been done, the Churches peace is in hazard to be broken, and men like to be rent and di­vided in their communion. And oftentimes such things prove exceeding fashious, where men wilfully, or imprudently pursue such things without respect to the Churches peace. This often waited upon a time of darknesse, or persecution, when men, being in the dark, and in a distemper, were led away by tentati­on, and overtaken with many faults, and sometimes amongst others, made to juffle with, and trample one upon another (as it were) not knowing what they were doing; and when this time was over, some were ready to carp at what was past in the dark, and to quarrell at others for such juffling, when they were so through-other. This indeed was ordinary, but most unbecoming grave men, to make that a ground of contending, which inadvertently was done byContests a­bout these, are of seve­ral sorts. others in the dark (as the great Basilius saith) In no­cturno tempore, & densis tenebris. Such contests are of four sorts.

First▪ Sometimes in generall, there is a dissatis­faction with the constitution of the Church, in re­spect [Page 364] of the grossenesse of the Officers and MembersDissatisfa­ction from constitution of Officers and Mem­bers. thereof. This cannot be removed upon the one side only, because tares cannot but be in the Church, and that discernably, as Cyprian saith; it is removed then by meeknesse and tendernesse upon the one side to­wards such as have withdrawn, and by their yeeld­ing to return who have withdrawn, which when it came to passe, hath been matter of gladnesse to all the Church. Amongst Cyprians Epistles (Epist. 50. edit. Pameli) mention is made of Urbanus, Maximus, and others of the Church of Rome, who being Con­fessors and imprisoned in the time of persecution, and after their delivery finding many grosse Members to be in the Church, and meeting with the doctrine of Novatus that commended separation to the godly for their more comfortable communion together, that they came to be tickled therewith, and for a time to separate from the communion of Cornelius, and others of the Clergy, pretending there could be no communi­on in such an evil constituted Church; but afterward, finding the great hurt that came thereby to the Church, they overcame their own affections and in­clinations, and out of respect to the good of the Church, did unit, which was exceedingly welcomed by all, as their Epistle to Cyprian, and his to them, do manifest. And as their fall sheweth, that it is not impossible, but that zealous Ministers, who have keeped out against defection, may be overtaken with such a fault; So it giveth a sweet copie of Christian deniednesse and tendernesse by others to be followed in the like case. Their words to Cyprian are worthy the observing. Nos habito consilio utilitatibus Ecclesiae, & paci magis consulentes, omnibus rebus praetermiss [...]s, & Iudicio Dei servatis, cum Cornelio Episcopo nostro, pari­ter & cum universo Clero pacem fecisse, cum gaudio etiam The alleag­ing of faults either not true, or not cear. universae Ecclesiae, prona etiam omnium charitate.

A second sort of such contests, are, When faults are alleaged which either are not true, or cannot be [Page 365] proven, although possibly they may be both grosse and true, for both of these did the Novatians and Do­natists trouble the Church, insisting long in charging many crimes upon men particularly upon Cecilianus and Osius, which they could never be able to make out, although they alleaged that such faults were cloaked by the Catholicks, and that they were not to be communicated with. In this case the Orthodox took three wayes to remove such a difference. 1. By pleading forbearance of awakening such contests, and exhorting rather to keep union, than to hazard to break it upon such grounds, and so (as Augustine saith) ut quaedam incerta crimina pro certa pace Deo di­mitterentur, Cont. Epist. Parm. lib. 1. cap. 3. 2. If that could not be acquiesced in, they admitted the thing to proof, over, and over again, that by law­full triall it might be decided, as we will find in the former instances, the same case of Cecilianus was of­ten tryed, even after he was absolved. It is true the Donatists did not acquiesce, but did separate, (for which cause they were ever accounted most grosse Schismaticks) yet is it of it self, a way wherein men may satisfyingly acquiesce. A third way sometimes used, was, That when divisions were like to be occa­sioned by dissatisfaction with a particular person against whom things could not be judicially made out so as to found a Sentence, nor yet possibly was there so full satisfaction with him in every thing, as by owning of him to hazard a rent, where a people were stumbled by him, they did without judiciall processing, or Censuring, interpose with the Bishop to cede, and wrote to the people to choose another. So in that Council of Carthage, Canon. 91. letters are written to Maximianus (called Episcopus Bagiensis) and the people, that he might cede the Bishoprick, and they might choose another; yet there is no menti­on of any made-out accusation, or Sentence, but that for the good of the Church, Synodo placuit, &c. [Page 366] There is mention made elswhere in history of a Bi­shop of that place, of that name, who had been a Donatist, and did return to the communion of the Church; but, if this be he, or what was the cause of this appointment, is neither certain, nor of great con­cernment in this.

A third sort of contests of this kind, are, WhenPleading for such as are most justly censured, or censurable. crimes are grosse and clear, and men are either justly censurable, or Censured; some (possibly honestly minded) may be engaged to do for them, by their in­sinuating upon them, and giving misinformations and prejudices, and so be brought to endeavour the preventing or removing of Sentences against, or from, such as justly deserve the same. In this case we find a threefold way of composure. 1. An endeavourThe justness of the Sen­tence to be cleared. used to clear to others the justice of such a Sentence when it hath been traduced. Thus when Basilides, and Martialis, were justly deposed by a Synod of Spain, they did, by false pretexts, engage the Clergie of Rome to owne them, and write for their recovery, which did exceedingly offend the Bishops of Spain; where­upon they wrote to Cyprian and these in Africk for ad­vice, who, being met in the Synod, approved their de­position, and advised them not to readmit them, be­cause none such who had any blemish and were not holy, ought to minister in the holy things, and that ra­ther they should bear with Stephanus his mistake, who out of ignorance and misinformation was led to side with such: Thus Cyprian hath it in his Epistles to the Church of Spain, Epist. 68. So that schism was stop­ped, and the Churches continued to acknowledge the lawfully ordained Bishops that succeeded these. And the readmission of such, had neither been in it self lawfull, nor yet had compassed the end of ob­taining peace in these Churches where the people wasOr, the Sen­tence recal­led, when the person might be profitable stumbled by their carriages. A second way was, When the men were orthodox and profitable, though failing in some grosse particular, yet when they were [Page 367] owned by others in the Church, Synods did not stand, for concord, to remove such Sentences, as was for­merly instanced in the case of Ostus: Augustine also in a certain Epistle, 164. doth approve the not-cen­suring of one Optatus, lest thereby a schism should be occasioned, because of manies adhering to him. We will find also a third way, That when men have been Sentenced, and some have continued to owne them, and others to oppose them, such have been brought to submit themselves, and so the division hath been removed; It was so in that hot contest that continued long between the Bishops of Rome, and the Church of Africk, in the case of Apiratus Bishop of Sica, &c. who being deposed by the Synod of Car­thage, was pressed to be admitted by the Bishops of Rome, whom by no means these of Africk would ad­mit; at last, these that were Sentenced, came to ac­knowledge the Sentence; whereby the division was stopped.

A fourth sort of contests or divisions for matters ofMutuall upbraidings for failings. fact, is, When both sides have had their failings in a time of darknesse and tentation, some one way, and some another, and after some breathing they fall, by mutual upbraidings, to hazard the Churches peace; one casting up this fault to him, and he again up­braiding him with another. The way taken to prevent this, is most satisfying, when both, acknow­ledgingRemoved by a mutuall forgiving. their own guilt to other, did forgive one ano­ther, and joyn cordially for the good of the work. In the debates with the Donatists there is much men­tion made, not without great commendation of the practice of a Synod, which is called Concilium Cir­tense, wherein the members did mutually confesse their faults, and (saith he, to wit, Augustine, in the conference formerly cited) Sibi invicem ignoscebant ne schisma fieret. And by the scope of the Catholicks in urging that example, and by the vehemency used by the Donatists in denying the same, it would seem, [Page 368] that they looked upon this as a most excellent and sa­tisfying way of removing differences amongst godly men, when every one acknowledgeth their own fault, and doth not upbraid but forgive one another, en­deavouring to have the rememberance of bypast mis­carriages rather forgiven and buried in oblivion, than mentioned. Because good men being but men, usu­ally there are failings on both sides, and the denying of it, provoketh others to insist the more thereon, as the acknowledging thereof doth stop the upbraiding of them with the same; and usually it is to be seen, that the best men had rather mention their own faults in their acknowledgements, than hear the same done by any other. Beza, Epist. 23. also hath such an ad­vice as this to a Church that had fallen into divisi­on, Utinam utraque pars acquiescere malit, quam si curiose nimium & [...] quis sit in majori culpa, inqui­ratur.

CHAP. XIII. What to do toward uniting in divisions arising from diversity of circumstances in external ad­ministrations, and especially arising from Church-government.

A Third matter that occasioneth divisions, is, aDiversity of circumstan­ces in exter­nall admini­strations. diversity in Worship, Ceremonies, or things that relate to externall administration of Or­dinances, when some follow one way in Preaching, administrating of Sacraments, Catechising, &c. and others, another. This ordinarily breedeth janglings, and oftentimes troubled the Church, as we see in the businesse about Easter and Ceremonies. It is not our purpose to insist in this, because ordinarily such de­bates pretend some lawfulnesse, or unlawfulnesse in the thing contended for, and are to be counted [Page 369] amongst the jangling debates that the men of God are to eschew. And also, because these things are often fully and clearly discussed, We shall only say con­cerning them. 1. That, as there is a necessity of suf­fering some difference in Doctrine, So is there also a necessity to bear with some differences in circumstan­ces in the externall manner of Worship▪ &c. and men would not soon offend at every difference, nor be displeased if it proceed not from affectation of sin­gularity, unfaithfulnesse, or some other corrupt rise. And we will find great condescendency in the great­estCondescen­dency there­in. men, both of old and late, in things that are not sinfull in themselves, for keeping of union in the Church: And thus far, the Apostles practice of be­coming all things to all, will warrand. Zanchius in an Epistle to this purpose, giveth both many examples of, and reasons for this. 2. We say, that men espe­cially in a time of divisions, would by all means en­deavour to keep the trodden and approven way that hath been used, and is in use in a Church in such ad­ministrations; because the lesse men be sticking in the manner of these things, and the more simplicity they use, and the lesse they differ from what is most ordinary and approven, the lesse will the hazard of division be in these things, which doth arise from the multiplying of them; the changing of the old, or bringing in of a new manner, the condemning of the way and manner used by others▪ as having someBetter to forbear some new thing, than to alter the old, with­out some con­siderable reason. great absurdity in it, and the pressing of their way, even in circumstances, upon others; These and such things are to be eschewed: and so indeed there is no way to peace in these things but to forbear; for it is more easie to forbear some new thing, than to make others alter what is old, except there be some reason in the matter to move to this▪

The great, and usually the most bitter contentionsDivisions a­bout Church­government. of a Church, as was said before, are in things that belong to Government; which are of many [Page 370] kinds, and have their own proportionable cures when blessed of God, We shall instance in these five kinds of contests in this matter. The first, is con­cerning the form of Government. The second, is concerning the formality of Church-judicatories. The third, concerning the matter enacted or decerned by them. The fourth, concerning particular miscar­riages and abuses of power in Government. And the fifth, concerning the persons who ought to govern, or to whom the Government is due, and whose de­terminations are ultimatly to be obeyed.

For the first, Debates about the nature and formConcern­ing the form of Govern­ment. of Government, may be considered doctrinally, and so it is a difference of judgement; Some think one form of Government lawfull, and others not that, but another. If this difference be fairly carried, it needeth make no division in the Church, as was in the foregoing part hinted. 2. It may be considered practically, that is, when men not only think so dif­ferently in their judgement, but accordingly they act, driving opposit designs, as if they were two parties, seeking to get one Church subdued to them, and nei­therPracticall difference herein ma­keth divi­sion. of them doth acknowledge the other. This can­not be without division; for, the ground of all union and communion in the visible Church in all the Or­dinances of Christ, is, the unity of the visible Church; as even in old time Augustine did presse: So Ecclesi­astick union, must be made up and entertained in a Church, by an unity in the Government thereof; for though there may be a forbearance and a kind of peace where the unity of the visible Church is denied, or where there are divided Governments that are not subaltern; yet there can be no Church-union, nor communion in Ordinances, of Word, Sacraments and Government, which results from the former, and doth necessarily presuppose the same. We dare not, nor cannot offer any directions for making up an union here, save that men would unite in one [Page 371] form of Government that can extend to the whole body, and that in such a Government as is allowed by Christ, otherwayes it can be no union; because so it were not a duty, as union is.

If it were asked, What kind of Government that may be most probably, wherein men ought to unite? Answ. We mind not to digresse to a doctrinall debate; yet these characters may be given of it. 1. It mustCharacters of Govern­ment fit for uniting. be a Government that can extend unto, and reach all the body; for, one main end of Government is uni­on, Eph. 4. 3, 10, 11, &c. and the removing of­fences which make divisions, Matth. 18. And this union is not to be in this or that particular part of the body, but in the whole, 1 Cor. 12. that there be no schism in the body: therefore it must extend to all, or be in a capacity to do so. 2. It would be in a pro­portionable fitnesse to remove these causes that breed divisions, (for, there cannot be union in a Govern­ment that is not fitted for that) and therefore must be able to purge corrupt teachers, and the leaven of corrupt doctrine out of the whole Church, or any part thereof. Hence, both in the Scripture, and pri­mitive times, and all alongs, there hath been still a joynt authoritative concurrence for removing these causes of this evil in whatsoever place they did ap­pear. 3. It must be such a Government as hath an unity amongst the whole Governours for this end, and so it must answer to the unity of the body: Hence, in the Epistle to the Galatians, Paul commend­eth the remeeding of that evill to them all in a joynt manner, as being one lump, without respect to their subdivision in particular Churches; and if this Au­thority did not imply unity amongst the Governours wherever they lived, and a capacity to act unitedly upon occasion, there could be no accesse authorita­tively to remove such evils from the Church, nor such weight in the mean applied. 4. It must be a Go­vernment wherein there is a coordinatenesse amongst [Page 372] the Governours; because so not only the union of the Church is made up, but her communion is repre­sented; and to place the Government in one, as Pa­pists do in the Pope, doth not make an union in the Government, which implieth a mutuall and kindly co-ordinatnesse and associating one with another; but whatever they pretend of union in it, it is really but tyrannie, and such as the most arbitrary ruler may have, when by violence he seemeth to keep down all divisions under him, neither so can that body be said to be united in him. And we see in the primi­tive times, even after Bishops and Patriarchs were brought in into the Church, that still the supream Go­vernment, whereby union was entertained, did reside in a mutual co-ordination, and combination, even of such Bishops, Metrapolitans, Patriarchs, &c. acting in an united and joynt way: whereby manifestly it appeareth, that such a Government as is to be united into, must be extensive unto the body, at least be in capacity so to be extended, and it must be in a co­ordination and consociation of many Church offi­cers together; and that such subordinations as mar this coordination and equality, must be swallowed up, ere there can be an united Government for the preservation of the union of the Church, because the supream Government and decision must be in many; and many of different degrees and places, cannot be so one as these who are of the same order, to speak so.

Yet we think, that where such an union cannot be had in Government, men that have liberty, without entanglement to their own consciences, to follow their duty, ought to do it with all tender respect to the edification and union of the Church wherein they live, and to make the best of their particular case that may be for that end. But seing the wisdom and goodnesse of God hath made it our lote in this Land, to live under a Government, to which the abovemen­tioned characters do well agree; it is hopefull, if as [Page 373] we ought we conscionably adhere to the principles thereof, we may, yea, shall unite in the Lord.

Secondly, Supposing, that men agree in that same supream government, to wit, Councils and Synods, thereDebates a­bout the con­stitution of Synods. may be some debate concerning the formal constitution thereof, what is to be accounted a rightly constitute Synod, and such as ought to be acknowledged so? It cannot be denied, but that there is a right and a wrong in this, and that there are rules to be keeped, and that also de facto they may be broken, even where there is no failing in the mater. It is true also, that we will sometimes find worthie men quarrelling the constitu­tion of Synods, and declining them, as was formerly hinted, refusing to appear before them, till some per­sons were removed from them, as Chrysostom and fourty two Bishops with him, did in reference to that particular Synod at Chalcedon: and sometimes their Acts were declared void, because the meetings were not numerous, as Balsamon doth instance in the case of one Iohannes Amathuntus, whose deposition was declared null, because all the Bishops of Cyprus were not conveened to his tryall, which might have been; and because, in strict reckoning, there was one fewer at his deposition than was allowed by the Canons. Yet concerning this we say, 1. That it will be foundDefects in constitution cannot easily annull with­out defect in the matter. very difficult to pitch on such defects in the constitu­tion of a Synod, as will make the same null without respect to the matter thereof▪ seing there may be many defects that will not infer this. 2. It will be hard to gather from Church-history, or Writings of the Anci­ents, or Canons of Councils, what hath been a perem­ptory rule to them to walk by in such a case. TheirIn ancient Councels soundnesse of matter more regarded than forma­lity or num­ber. practices in this are so various, that it appeareth, the matter hath ever been more headed by them▪ than the formality of the constitution. And therefore, 3. We will find their practice to be according to this; When the matter was sound and profitable, it was accepted, and the Synod was reverenced, although it hath had [Page 374] lesse formality, and hath been of a fewer number; So the Council of Sardica, Laodicea, and some particu­lar Provincial Synods, have ever been of great autho­rity because of their matter, when more numerous Synods, with moe formalities, have never been so ac­counted of, nor reckoned amongst the General Coun­cils, although their number hath been far greater than many of these other. 4. When they come to deter­mine any thing after the close of corrupt Synods, they do not usually sift the constitution thereof, but exa­mine and condemn the matter thereof, and do repeal their Sentences, and account them null from the be­ginning; not because of questioning their Authority that did it, but because of their doing the same un­justly, as in the cases of Athanasius, Eustachius, Chry­sostom, and Ignatius, that followed him in the same See: All whose depositions were accounted null, be­cause of the unjust violence that was used in them. 5. We say then, that hardly it will be observed, that this consideration of a particular Synods constituti­on, hath been the rise or ground of division amongst godly and orthodox men agreeing in the same Truth, Form of Government, and Rules for constituting of Assemblies or Synods. But we will ever find where Declinators or Protestations are mentioned, 1. That the party declined hath been palpably corrupt in fun­damental doctrines. Or, 2. palpably driving on that general design, and violence against particular per­sons, as subserving the same. And, 3. it hath been also, after many evidences of such corruptions and violences, as in the former instances that are given of Declinators is clear; where we find, that Synods have been acknowledged, and yet upon the discovery of their corrupt designs and violence, have been de­clined and protested against as null, as that second Council at Ephesus was. Whereby it appeareth, that if their proceedings had been acceptable, their consti­tution and authority had not been called in que­stion.

[Page 375]If it be asked upon supposition, That a difference concerning the constitution of a particular Synod, and a division upon that account fall to be amongst godly and orthodox Divines, agreeing in the same Truths, form of Government, general Rules, for constituting of Synods, &c. What should be done for union in such a case?

Answ. It would seem there should be no great needWhat should be done for union, when division a­riseth about the constitu­tion of a Sy­nod. to give directions here, the difference being so nar­row; certainly many of the Ancients, and also of our Reformers, and eminent Divines, who have groaned and do groan under many sad pressures, corruptions, and divisions in the Church, would have thought, and think it a great mercy to have had, and to have the difference brought to such a point, and betwixt such parties; Yet, seing it is too too possible to be stood upon, we do conceive it is no such thing as may make union, amongst parties so differing, impossible. We say therefore,

1. That such would consider the little usefulnesseLittle use­fulness as to the Churches edificationin the thing controvert­ed. and weightinesse, as to the main of edification that is in the thing controverted whatever way it be deci­ded: For, 1. the declaring of such a Synod valid, or null, as to its constitution, doth not corrupt any point of Truth, nor bring-in any new Form of Govern­ment, nor alter any Rule concerning the Form agreed in; because the question is not in thesi, what is the form and rule according to which a Synod ought to be constituted? that is agreed upon: But the question is, Whether such a particular Synod be agreeable to such a Rule? and respect to the Rule makes the one that they cannot approve it, and the other that they cannot condemn it: And is it of great concernment to the main of the Churches edification to say it is so, or not, considering it abstractly, or supposing it should never be determined at all? 2. We say, That it is not of much concernment, even to Government, to say that such a particular Synod is right or wrong [Page 376] constituted: for, though a Church cannot want Go­vernment, and that cannot be casten; yet a Church cannot lose much by questioning the constitution of one Synod, suppose rightly constituted, abstracting it from the consideration of its matter contained there­in; and if its matter be warrantable, it hath weight in it self without such consideration of a constitu­tion, if it be not warrantable, such a consideration of a lawfully constituted Synod cannot make it war­rantable. Again, upon the other side, The counting of a particular Synod to be rightly constituted when it is not, cannot be of great hurt to the Church where the Rule is acknowledged. For, 1. It doth not alter the nature of the matter; Nor, 2. doth it alter the manner of constituting Assemblies, because one par­ticular failing in misapplying the Rule cannot inca­pacitate a Church for all time to come to keep the same, especially if it be guarded that no precedent be drawn from that pattern, to bind any new sense upon the rule. 3. We say, that it would seem if any de­bate be such as decision may be forborn therein, this may be accounted of that nature, to wit, Whether such a particular Synod be rightly constituted, or not? because, if more corruption and inconvenience, that may be feared, follow, there are more material things to debate, and to differ upon; if more follow not, but that there may be accesse to an united Govern­ment whereby these suspicions may be put out of question, then it seemeth unsafe to mar that, and the fruit which may follow by the disputing of what is past.

But more nearly to take notice of such a difference, we may consider it two wayes. 1. As it implieth aThis diffe­rence is ei­ther in judgement, and may be forborn. difference in judgement. 2. As it inferreth a diffe­rent practice. First, then, As it inferreth the difference of judgement, there ought certainly to be a forbea­rance, seing such things are often involved with ma­ny difficulties and contradictions in matter of fact, [Page 377] that it is not possible, by debating fully, to convince either party to assent to the other, especially where heat and prejudice hath someway fixed and preoccu­pied the judgement; and certainly, forbearance here cannot be inconsistent with the duty of Ministers, although there were not such a motive to perswade it. By forbearance we understand, 1. That none pe­remptorily presse the other either to acknowledge the validity or nullity of such a constitution. 2. There would be a forbearance of publick debating of it, or of any thing that may occasion the same, as pres­sing of the Acts thereof, if no other ground support the same, but the Authority of such a Synod. And we conceive in the by, this occasion may be prevented by a mutual condescending, or joynt authoritative enacting, that such and such things, as possibly may be usefull afterward, be of force to all, if not by the former constitution, yet by the present appointment, and so both may agree in the matter. 3. A con­demning of others for approving or disapproving the former constitution, would be forborn; and seing the question is so little and inconsiderable in it self, it would not be odiously aggreaged or insisted upon.

Secondly, Considering it as it relateth to practice, Or it relates to practice, and so some­thing is to be tolerate and something done. something is to be forborn, and something is to be done. 1. For forbearance What might involve ei­ther party in the matter of fact contrary to their judg­ment, would be abstained; and this forbearance in practice would be as broad as forbearance in judg­ment, that, as Cyprian saith, (in another case) differ­ing brethren may both have their judgment and pra­ctice in such things at their own free arbitrements, as to such restraints. Neither can this forbearance mar the peace of any, because if such things be indifferent, and although lawfull, yet not necessary, the preserving of the Churches peace, and the preventing of what offence would follow, is ground enough to abstain from such things, out of respect to the consciences of [Page 378] others. If the thing be necessary, then indeed it is not to be forborn, neither is that pleaded-for here; yet the doing of it upon the account of such an au­thority, is not necessary; but the matter of the thing or some uncontroverted ground may be had for war­ranting the same. 2. That which is to be done, we conceive, is this, That there be endeavours to have some united, uncontroverted authority established, by whose authority things necessary may be done, without infringing the authority of what was past in respect of those who acknowledge the same, and also without leaving the weight of the authority up­on the former to those who question the same: And we conceive this being done, neither is there any con­science straitened, nor any thing necessary for the Churches good omitted; yea, by this means there is access unitedly to seek the Churches edification, with­out any prejudice by the former contention; because by laying this new foundation posteriour to the for­mer, the Church is put beyond that stumbling­block, and carried over, or by the same; And therefore there is no reason to fear falling upon such a difficulty, but rather with the greater speed to make progresse when men may win by it and leave it be­hind them. This was the way that the Ancients took in the primitive times, even when Synods in this respect might have been said to have been cor­rupted, when God gave opportunity they set them­selves to rectifie the matter, and to do upon it what was fit for the good of the Church, without men­tioning the nullity of the form thereof, or insisting thereupon. And indeed, the doing otherwayes seems to lay too much weight upon the authority or consti­tution of a Church-judicatory, as if when the same is every way regular, it could adde something, or ought to have weight, where the matter is not in it self approvable; which hath been eschewed by Or­thodox Divines both of old and late, who ever [Page 379] therefore looked most unto the matter determined or decided.

If it be asked, What usually was done in suchWhat usually hath been d [...]ne when Authority was decli­ned. cases where the Authority seemed to be declined? From what is said, the Answer may be gathered, to wit, That both sides satisfied themselves with the rectifying of the matter wherein there was any grie­vance. And therefore▪ 1. it will hardly be found, when such a Declinatour was expressed in one Synod that any mention is made thereof in the next ensuing Synod that did rectifie the matter, but instantly they fall upon that. 2. We will find, that where [...]o ex­presse Declinatour was, yet did not that any way strengthen such an Authority, nor mar the condem­ning thereof more than in other Synods where it was, and therefore neither is so much weight to be laid up­on it, whether it be or not; for, its standing doth not weaken Authority where it is, and its removing or not being at all, doth not adde Authority where it is not, because Authority must stand and fall accord­ing to its own intrinsick grounds and warrant. And we conceive that it is not suitable to the Authority of Christ's Ordinances, and the nature of His Courts, that either the removing or standing of such a legall formality, should be rigidly pressed, and it maketh proceedings in Christ's Courts to be involved in too many subtilties that are used in humane Laws. And also supposing, that a corrupt constitution may be without such a formal Protestation, it seems to give too much advantage thereto, as if there were lesse accesse afterward to condemn the same; And upon the other side, supposing that a lawfully constituted Synod should be declined, as the Synod of Dort was lately by the Arminian Remonstrants, the pressing too vehemently of the removing thereof, doth suppose some way the constitution to be lesse valid if such a thing should stand. This is only to be understood in the case presupposed, to wit, Where the question is [Page 780] not about the authority of Synods simply, but of thisGreat diffe­rence be­tween the declining of Synodicall Authority simply, and the constitu­tion of a par­ticular Sy­nod. or that constitution of a particular Synod: the first indeed, that is, the questioning of Synodical Autho­rity, hath been thought intolerable in all times, be­cause it strake at the root of Church-government and Order, without which the Church cannot subsist; But the second, which acknowledgeth the same Go­vernment in general, and Rules of Constitution, and professeth respect to that same Authority, is indeed not so intolerable, because it doth suppone still the Church to have power, and the exercise thereof to be necessary. Hence we will find, that in the primi­tive times they did utterly condemn appellations from Synods simply, that is, the betaking them to ano­ther Judge, as more proper than, or superiour unto, such Synods; and there are severall Canons in the Councils of Africk that threaten Excommunication to such as decline their Authority and appeal to Rome, or any forreign power as a superiour Judge; Yet we will find, that the Councils do allow Appeals from a lesser number to a greater, or from particular Councils to a general. Yea, from their own parti­cular Synods to a more general hearing of others in the Province; yea, they allow even adjacent Pro­vinces to be appealed to in case corruptions should be in one particular Province: This was enacted in the Council of Sardica, and Bishops are requested by severall Canons not to think this derogatory from their authority, because this did consist well with re­spect to Church-authority and Government in it self, but tended only to prevent or remedy exorbitances and abuse therein; which of it self, if it be not abu­sed, is not ill.

CHAP. XIV. What is to be done in order to union about divisi­ons concerning doctrinall determinations.

THe Question may be concerning the matter enacted by some Synod, even when there is no exception against the constitution thereof, that is, when the matter approven by it, is unfound, or when a truth is condemned, at least it is judged to be so. We are not here speaking of such matter as is fundamentall, but such as is consistent with sound­nesseDoctrinall, not funda­mentall, or nigh the foundation. of judgement in the main, and piety in these who may be upon either side. Such as were these debates concerning the rebaptizing of Hereticks, and Schismaticks; or for the admitting them unto the Church by confirmation only, and questions of that nature, which may fall to be amongst orthodox men. I suppose it were good, that judicial decisions of such things, were not multiplied; yet upon supposition that they are past, somewhat would be said. Such determinations are of two sorts.

First, Some are meerly doctrinall, and of this kind are such questions as are concerning the object of Predestination, order of Gods Decrees, and such like, and others, it may be, which are of lesser con­cernment than these. These being meerly doctrinal and inferring no diversity in practice, or Worship, there is the easier accesse to union notwithstanding of such, respect being had to the mutuall forbearance mentioned, so that none be constrained to acknow­ledge what is enacted by vertue of such a decision, be­cause such a determination in matter of Doctrine is but ministeriall, and declarative: And therefore as one man may forbear another to speak his own mind in some things that differ from his, and, it may be, from truth also, and not instantly divide from him, [Page 382] or much contend with him; So ought he to bear with a Synod and not to divide from them upon that ac­count, he having accesse so to declare his own mind and the reasons thereof, and otherwayes to carry himself, as may keep him free of that apprehended guiltinesse; and so a Synod ought to bear with some particular men that differ. But by adding the second kind, there will be ground to speak more.

The second kind is of such determinations as have not only a doctrinall decision, but also some practi­callSome doctri­nal decisions infer divisi­on, others but diversi­ty. consequents following thereupon: which we may again distinguish these wayes. 1. They are ei­ther such consequents and practices as infer a division and opposition, or a diversity only▪ some consequents infer a division or separation. As suppose a Church­Synod should enact, that no persons should keep com­munion with such as they judge not to be godly, nor joyn in Ordinances, nor so much as sit down with them; Or that no persons, thinking otherwayes, might lawfully be ordained Ministers, or admitted to that office, as sometimes appeareth, hath been de­termined in very numerous Synods of the Donatists. Indeed the standing of such Sentences in force, and having execution accordingly following them, are such, as there can be no union had upon such tearms. Again, some practices imply no division in Worship, or Government, but only something which possibly is in it self unwarrantable, as that Act of rebaptizing was, which was determined and enacted by severall Councils in Africk: which kind of determination may be considered either as peremptory, and exclu­sive, that is, allowing none to do otherwayes, or to be admitted to Ministery and Ordinances which should not engage to do so; Or moderated. so as though it held forth such a determination concerning the fact, yet doth not peremptorily presse others be­yond their own light. Of the first sort were the pe­remptory Acts of the West-church concerning Easter, [Page 383] holy dayes and other ceremonies; Of the last, were these Acts of the Council of Africk concerning the rebaptizing of Schismaticks wherein none were pressed beyond thir own judgement.

Again, such consequents and practices that followSome deter­minations are of things dayly practi­cable, others only for an exigence, scarcely ever again occur­ring. Church-determinations, may either be presently ne­cessary to be practised and dayly practicall, as sup­pose a Church should make constitutions for admini­stration of Baptism and the Lords Supper, by mixing in with the essentials thereof, such and such corrupt ceremonies and additions; Or, they may be such practices as are only supposable and possible; but it may be exceeding improbable-like, at least for the future, that there shall be occasion to put them in actuall exercise; though, it may be, there was some present exigent giving occasion to such a determina­tion, which possibly may never recur; As suppose, a Church should determine, that a converted Iew, or Turk, should not be baptized in the manner that others are baptized, but some other way; it may be there was some Iew or Turk to be baptized when that de­termination passed; but that particular Act being by, there is no probability that ever there may be accesse to put the same in practice again, although it be not simply impossible. Now there is great odds betwixt these two; and in effect this last case, doth look liker a doctrinall determation when the occasion thereof is past, than any way to be practicall.

Further, we may distinguish these also in such pra­ctices, that are positively enacted to be practised, by an authoritative Act, ordaining in such possible cases, that it be so done, that is, when such a case occurreth, men should be astricted to follow the same, and Mi­nisters should accordingly act; Or they are such cases, as do not ordain any practice to be done, but do declare such a thing to be lawfull; As suppose they should declare, a Minister might lawfully bap­tize a Iew so as is formerly said, without any peremp­tory [Page 384] ordaining of the same, which is still, rather a doctrinall decision than a positive ordinance.

We may yet add one distinction more, which is this,Some deter­minations are for Mi­nisters pra­ctice, others are answers to the questi­ons of Ru­lers. determination is either to declare such a thing lawful to Church-men in some Ecclesiastick matter, as sup­pose (as was sometimes in the primitive persecutions) upon some Querie from some Ministers, it should be enacted, that in such and such cases Ministers might flie, sell the Church-goods, or use such and such shifts and means for their escape and deliverance, as others, it may be, would think unlawfull. Or it is, when the practising of the supposed case belongs to Magistrates, or men in civil stations; as suppose, upon some Queries from Magistrates or others, en­quiring if it were lawfull to admit Iews to dwell in such and such places meerly for civil traffick; or if they might eat and drink with an Ambassador of the Cham of Tartaria; or help Chinas against the Tartars; or such cases, which possibly, beside the occasion of the Querie, might never occur: now supposing the case to be decided affirmatively by a Church-judica­tory, and a rent to have followed thereupon, and to continue after the case is not probably practicall, be­cause of the former decision, and so in the rest of the former suppositions, it is to be enquired, If? and, How union may be win at in them respectively?

Now these distinctions being premitted, we come to consider accordingly, How union may be made up, where division standeth upon such accounts?

In reference to all which, in the general, we say, That peremptorinesse and self-willednesse being ex­cluded (which are expresly prohibited to be in a Mi­nister) it is not impossible to attain union amongst faithfull, sober, and orthodox men, who will ac­knowledge that mutuall condescending and forbea­rance is necessary; which by going through the par­ticular steps will appear: wherein we may relate to the former generall grounds laid down, and be the [Page 385] shorter in instances and reasons, because this draweth out in length beyond our purpose; and also, because Verbum sapienti satis est: and these especially that are concerned in this, need not by us either to be instruct­ed, or perswaded to their duty, many of whom the Lord hath eminently made use of to teach, convince, and perswade others. We shall only, as in all the rest, offer some things to their view, which may occasion the remembering of what they know, and the awaken­ing of the zeal and affection that they have, to act accordingly.

To come then to the first sort of determinations,More do­ctrinal de­cisions in smaller points ought to ma [...]e no division. which are doctrinall; it may appear from what is said, that there can be no just ground of division upon that account; for, in such things a Church may for­bear particular persons: and again, particular per­sons may forbear a Church. It is not to be thought, that all orthodox Divines are of the same mind in all things that are decreed in the Synod of Dort, particular­ly in reference to the object of predestination; yet the Synod hath not made any division by Censuring of such, neither these who differ from that determination have broken off communion with the Church, but have keeped communion: and union in the Church hath not been thereby interrupted; yet these who ap­prehend themselves to be right, cannot but think the other is in an errour: and if this forbearance be not allowed, there can never be union in the Church, ex­cept we should think that they behoved all to be in the same mind about such things, and that there should never be a decision in a Church, but when there is ab­solute harmony; for supposing the plurality to decide right, yet these, whose judgement were condemned, were obliged according to their light to divide, seing they are in their own judgments right, It is true, I sup­pose that it is not simply unlawful, or hurtful to truth for a Church-judicatory, out of respect to peace in the Church, to condescend abstractly to wave a ministe­riall [Page 386] decision without wronging of the matter; As suppose these in Africk, for peace had waved their ju­diciall decision of the necessity of rebaptizing in such a case; or these who determined the contrary, might have waved theirs, yet neither of them had hurt their own opinion. Or suppose, that in the decisions that were concerning Easter, upon both sides of the contro­versie, either had past from their decisions, and left the matter in practice to mens arbitrement without any decision, I suppose this had not been a wrong to truth (supposing it to have been on either side) And indeed considering what is written in the History, something like this may be gathered. For, first, It is clear, that there were determinations on both sides, and particu­larly, That the West Church, and these that joyned with them, did determine the Lords Day necessarily to be keeped for distinguishing them from the Iews. 2. It is also clear, That Policrates, with many Bishops in Asia, did judicially condemn that deed, appointing the fourteenth day of the month to be keeped, So that ne­cessarily both decisions could not stand. And▪ 3. this is clear also, That the way that was taken to settle that difference so stated, was, That judiciall decisions should be waved, and men left to their own arbitre­ment to observe what day they thought good, whether in the East or West Church, whereupon followed an union; and Policarpus did communicate with Anicetus at Rome upon these tearms, Ut neuter eorum sententiam suam urgeret aut defenderet (as the Centariators have it out of Ireneus) that is, that neither of them should urge or defend their own opinion: and upon this there followed peace notwithstanding of that difference. It brake up again more strongly in the time of Victor, and although Ireneus was of his judgment, yet did he vehemently presse him not to trouble the Church by pursuing such a determination, and did exceeding weightily expostulat with him for it; He wrote also to the other party, that both of them might forbear [Page 387] the pressing of such decisions, and that the thing might be left to mens arbitrement, without prejudice to the Churches union, as formerly it had been used: this is clear from Church-history, and that word of Sozomen, lib. 7. cap. 19. is weighty, Frivolum enim, & quidem me­rito, judicarunt, consuetudinis gratia, à se mutuo segregari eos qui in praecipuis religionis capitibus consentirent, that is, They judged it, and upon good ground, most frivo­lous for men to be separated or divided one from ano­ther, because of a custome, who did agree together in the main points of Religion. And though this matter be of it self no controversie decided in the Word, (at least as it was stated) yet considering their thoughts of it, and the grounds which they alleage for it, it was not so to them: and that peremptorines of Victors, who afterward would not be reclaimed from that second determination, is condemned by all, as being the ground of that following schism. And indeed in such cases, where two parts of a Church are divided, hav­ing independent authorities as to one another, and there being contrary determinations in the same que­stion, it seemeth convenient and necessary for peace, that either both should wave their decisions, or that both should permit the decisions of each other to stand and be in force, to such only as should acquiesce therein, and willingly acknowledge the same.

Again, where there is nothing like a party or equa­lity,How the smaller number should yeeld to the greater. but the division is in the same one Church betwixt a greater and smaller number, and the greater will not be induced to remove their determination; It is no way sinfull to the lesser to joyn with them notwith­standing thereof, they having their own freedom and liberty cautioned, as was formerly said; Yea, this seemeth not unexpedient that they should do for the good of the Church. 1. Because it is not so readily to be expected, that men who have such an advantage will cede to these who have it not. 2. It may have in­conveniencies, if a smaller dissenting number should [Page 388] necessitat a Church to wave former determined truths, though possibly not fundamental, because of their dis­satisfaction therewith, who esteem them not to be truths, and strengthen others in a schism, as if they could not keep union and communion with a Church where any thing contrary their mind were determin­ed. Also, 3. it seemeth most agreeable to reason, that in sinlesse cedings, the lesser number should cede to the greater. And, 4. because by so doing, this accidental confirmation of an opinion, by having the plurality of a Church or Synod for it, is left open to the other side, when they may be the plurality. Hence we see gene­rally, that the minor part cedeth to the greater (if the not pressing of the removal of such a decision be a ced­ing) yea, even when the plurality were wrong, as in that case of Africk, these who differed, did not presse the rescinding of that determination, having their own liberty: Nor did these that had the plurality then for them, impose any bond to keep the other from rescind­ing their determinations, if they should come to be in such a capacity, but both keeped peace for the time; and afterwards, in the dayes of Augustine, we will find Councels of the Church of Africk, determining the just contrary concerning that case of Baptizing, and yet still entertaining peace and communion amongst themselves, although the authoritative decision stood alwayes upon the side of the plurality.

CHAP. XV. What shall be done in order to union about such de­cisions, as have practical consequents following thereon.

TO come to the second case, to wit, anent such decisions as have some practicall consequents following thereupon; For the more short an­swering, we shall lay down these Assertions.

[Page 389] Assert. 1. In such practices as are opposit, and inferContrary practices build a wall of separa­tion. division in the cases mentioned, there can be no union or communion expected, as we see in all the cases where such have been practised, as of the Novatians, Donatists, and such like; there may be more or lesse heat and bitternesse betwixt men that differ so: but there cannot be union, because, such determinations and practices do draw a line, and build a wall of se­paration betwixt the one and the other, and so makes one side to be accounted as not of the same body.

Assert. 2. Where the consequents only infer someDiversity there may be without di­vision. difference, or are not peremptorily pressed, they do not infer necessarily a division, as we see in the cases of Africk, and others mentioned; and Sozomen in the chapter cited, giveth many instances of diversities of this kind in Churches, without any breach of com­munion, and saith it is necessary, because, Neque easdem traditiones per omnia similes, in omnibus Ecclesus, quamvis in omnibus consentiant, reperire possis, that is, Ye will hardly find the same traditions alike in all things in all the Churches, even though they agree in all things that are ma­terial. And, upon the matter, such determinations are but indeed as if they were doctrinall to such as ac­knowledge them not, and men are accordingly to walk in them.

Assert. 3. In such practices as are daily practicable,Great folly to make, or keep division for what is rarely or ne­ver practi­cable. in respect of the occasions thereof, union is more dif­ficult (though not impossible) than in such cases where the occasion of practice is not probable, be­cause there being no present occasion to practise the same, it looketh most unwise like, to bring in, or keep in, a more certain and greater evil in the Church, for eschewing of what folks may never be put to; and suppose the case to be past, that may probably never recurre, it is more for the Churches good by abstain­ing the approbation of such an act, and by not being involved in the apprehended guilt thereof, to make up again the communion of the Church, for the preven­ting [Page 390] of a greater hurt, because that continueth to be a duty, and is necessary to edification; and the thing being past, ought not to be the occasion of a present and following division, as was formerly said.

If it be said, How can there be union in such a case upon the principle supposed, till (as may be said by one side) those who have decided and acted corruptly should repent, and (as may be said by the other) till those who have divided unjustly from the Church, and wronged the authority thereof, should acknow­ledge their offence, without which there cannot be union? For answer to which we say, 1. What if neither party shall ever be brought to repent or ac­knowledge an offence? shall the Church in such a case never attain to union? Repentance implyeth a conviction, and this implyeth information and clear­ness in the judgment that such a thing is wrong. Now,Union is not impos­sible not­withstand­ing diver­sity of judgment. it being often seen that it is impossible to get men of one judgment concerning such a thing, Must there­fore union be impossible till men be of one judgment? This hath been formerly disproved. 2. What if this had been the mind of the Churches and Servants of God from the beginning of the world? there had ne­ver been publick-ecclesiastick, nor privat-christian peace; for they were never all of one judgment: and to assert or write what is supposed to be an errour, is proportionably a sin and an offence, as to determine it judicially; and it would infer the necessity of re­pentance▪ even in such cases, for the attaining of peace and making up of differences; And shall we thus at once condemn the generation of Gods People, who have, without proposing, or, at least, pressing of such a thing, entertained peace and union amongst them­selves? 3. This would enervate all the former grounds that plead for union with forbearance, and such like, which, I suppose, will not be warrantably done. 4. This way is indeed either to make union the more impossible, or if union be attained in any measure, [Page 391] both the lesse hearty amongst themselves, and the lesse profitable unto others, as hath been formely cleared. 5. We are not to respect in this, mens particular car­riage or desert (which possibly would not be thought of great concernment by others, not engaged in that debate) but the Churches good is to be looked to, and what it doth require, as we may gather from what hath been formerly said. And if Church-censures (such as the enjoyning of publick repentance, or ac­knowledgment of an offence, are) be to be abstained from, even in reference to open corrupt teachers some­times for respect to the union of the Church, and for the preventing the stumbling of those that are weak, and prone to divide or miscarry (if such should be censured) as we see in Paul's abstaining to censure the false teachers, Gal. 5. and 2 Cor. 10. (spoken to in the former part) much more are Censures of any sort to be abstained from upon that ground, in the case proposed, as it is considered in its matter and persons differing. Hence we may find what condescendence hath been formerly used in such cases, when union hath been closed, or proposed to be closed, (in matters possibly of greater moment than are supposed) Sine detrimento honoris, aut charitatis, that is, without prejudice to reputation, or charity. 6. We therefore say in op­position to that objection, That union is to be studied, by endeavouring to joyn in what is for the good of the Church, and by burying the resentment of each others wrongs, rather than (as Beza saith in that fore­cited Epistle to Grindal concerning division) There should be too curious, and, as it were, contention-affecting enquiry made, who is most in the wrong, and thereby a bringing the matter to that passe, that the whole body can­not be saved, but by cutting off of some members. 7. We adde▪ If repentance be necessary, will any think that division is the way or mean to attain the same, which doth imbitter and confirm men in their opinion and opposition respectively, as formerly hath been said?

[Page 392]It will be now no great difficulty to answer in the last two cases, to wit, When the decision is a simple declaration of the lawfulnesse of a thing, without any positive appointment that such a thing should be put in practice, &c. For, if upon the former grounds union may be attained, and division removed in the former cases, it may be much more in this; most of all, where the matter determined, concerneth such pra­ctices as actually are to be performed but in some ex­traordinary case by Civil Powers. Because in such cases men may more easily condescend to forbearance, than in matters of greater necessity and concernment; and there can be but little prejudice alleaged to follow unto the Church (to be put in the ballance with the Churches peace) either by condescending that such a determination should be waved, or stand with the qualifications foresaid; It's true that tenaciousnesse in the least particular, and peremptory refusing to con­descend therein, will breed a rent and schism, and make union as impossible, as if it were the greatest matter that were the ground of distance; yet it would seem, that in the case presupposed, (especially these last three being put together) that judicious, sober, and godly men should be very easily induced to conde­scend to each other, with the qualifications foresaid, for the Churches peace.

For, 1. The matter, although it hath a right and wrong in it, yet it is among the least of the truths that may be accounted to relate to the foundation. 2. It's in a matter most improbably practicable, and which may possibly never occur. 3. It's a determination, or an exercise of Church-power that hath least influence upon Church-matters, seing it positively ordaineth nothing. 4. It's in a thing most extrinsick, which might have been put in practice, and usually is put in practice without the Churches intermedling therein, either pro or contra. It seemeth therefore unsuitable that such a determination in reference to such practi­ces, [Page 393] should be greatly contended-for, when neither the standing of such a decision can procure, nor the re­moving thereof mar, the practices concerning which the decision is. 5. Supposing the qualifications fore­said, the standing of such a decision doth not streng­then the affirmative opinion, because it doth not infer any bond or obligation upon others who do not of their own accord acquiesce in the same; nor doth it give ground for alleaging such a decision to any but to such as of themselves are swayed with the matter thereof: And therefore seing it hath no force to bind moe than would be bound with the matter if it were not; nor can infer that it is the judicial decision and judgment of such a Church, more than this, to wit, That it is the judgment of the plurality for the time, yet so as it is not acknowledged by others, and who are not to be constrained to any alteration in their judgment, or in their practice, by that determination, more than if it had never been (which is a necessary qualification of the forbearance mentioned) and sup­posing the said decision to be waved, these particulars would be true. Again, upon the other side, The removing of that decision doth not strengthen the ne­gative (for that cannot be intended by such a compo­sure that either side should be strengthened) nor doth the standing thereof weaken the same; because▪ ac­cording to the qualifications foresaid, not only there can be no Censure following upon it, but even as to the Determination it self, though it be not formally removed, to be no decision simply, it is no decision to them, nor can be alleaged to them against their opi­nion, more than if it were not: And thus it becometh of equall extent with those who approve the matter, and so it doth bind only such as account themselves bound; and if men account themselves bound, the removing of such a decision, will not loose them; and if they account not themselves bound otherwayes, the standing thereof in such a case, will not bind them; [Page 394] and therefore, upon the matter, we suppose, it is hardly imaginable that there can be a lesser ground of divisi­on, (the qualifications necessary for union in the cases of greater concernment being granted in this) sure we are there was never division continued upon a lesser account, to whatsoever side we look; for, in effect, it is for the time to come as if that decision had never been, as to its efficacie and weight in producing any effect. And we are sure that the great Divines that have so eagerly pursued, and so much coveted union, would have thought themselves happy if they might have had it by condescending and yeelding either to the one side or the other. And though the moderate divine Bucer, was thought to thirst after peace in the Church so vehemently, that some zealous men said, that out of love thereto he was like almost haurire foe­ces, that is, to drink down the dregs with it; yet I am confident, that had the state of the controversie come so near, and in such matter, and amongst such men, as is formerly presupposed, he would not have been so charged by the most rigid, although for the peace of the Church he had drunken-over all the dreggs that might be in both the cups, the mentioned qualifica­tions being observed; For, I suppose, that the remo­ving or standing of such a decision in the former re­spects, will neither be found inconsistent with any Confession of Faith, even the most full that ever was in any Orthodox Church; nor with the Fundamen­tals of Religion that are laid down in any Catechisms or Writings of any sound Divines; nor with the Constitutions and Acts that have been thought neces­sary to be inrolled amongst the Acts of any Council or Synod; nor, for ought we know, will be found to have been the matter of debate, even in the most con­tentious times amongst Orthodox Divines: It would seem then, that if there be a latitude allowed without hazard for one to condescend to another for the good of the Church in any thing, it must be in the case presupposed,

CHAP. XVI. The remedies of divisions, arising from misappli­cation of power in ordination of Ministers, and admitting to, or debarring from, communion.

THe fourth matter of controversie in reference to Government, is usually some misapplication of that power, or what is apprehended to be so in some particular acts. As, 1. Ordaining such as were not thought to be worthy. 2. Deposing others (as was thought) unjustly. 3. Admitting unto, or debarring from communion without ground respe­ctively, and such like cases. Upon the first ground arose the great schism of the Donatists, because of the Ordination of Caecilianus, esteemed by them to be a Traditor. Of such sort also were the schisms frequently at Antioch, Constantinople, Alexandria, and other places, because some were ordained to the dissatisfaction of others. And sometimes the dissatisfaction was well grounded; because the persons ordained, were not worthy: Sometimes it was groundlesse; But often it tended to double Ordination, and Separation in theThe Ordi­nation of a person wor­thy of the Ministery, ordained by Church-Offi­cers, is not to be accounted null for some defects. close. These things had need to be prevented, so as there be no just ground of dissatisfaction given by the Ordination of an unworthy man in such a time, nor any opposit Ordination to fix a schism; because these things are more difficulty removed, as hath been said: Yet supposing them to be, these generals may be pro­posed for healing of the same. 1. We will not find an Ordination easily counted to be null, even though done in a schism, as all the instances do clear; yea, the Orthodox stood not to account the Bishops and Presbyters ordained amongst the Donatists, to be such, because they had the essentials of Ordination, and were ordained by Church-officers. 2. We suppose it need­full for peace, that there be no rigid sticking to have [Page 396] some particular Ordinations rectified, to the prejudice of the Church in general, especially, where the un­fitnesse or unworthiness of the person is not easily de­monstrable. 3. It seemeth right and just, that no Ordination of such a kind should establish one that is unworthy in the Ministery: for, that is not to be dispensed with; although it be not a valid ground to keep up a division, where the removall of such a per­son cannot be attained: and the most unquestionable Ordination for the form, cannot make one a worthy Minister, who otherwayes is not a worthy person. In the conferences with the Donatists, the Catholicks offer­ed to quarrell the Ordination of none amongst them that otherwayes was worthy, nor to maintain any amongst themselves who were not worthy. 4. YetUnion would not be su­spended on such tryals. union would not be suspended till this be done, but it is to be made up, that it may be done, as in the in­stance formerly given. Because, 1. this trial is the work of an united Kirk, and will require joynt strength and concurrence for the same. 2. Because union is a present duty, although there were defect in such a trial, and a defect in that, will not warrant a division. 3. It is not only a duty commanded, but it is a mids necessary for promoving the triall and cen­suring of unworthy Ministers, for times of division are ever times of liberty, and thereby Authority is wea­kened, men are discouraged to follow it, and are other­wayes diverted, &c. 4. Because division can never be looked upon as the mean to effectuate that tryall, but it strengthens the person who is to be tryed, and lesseneth the number of zealous pursuers of such a de­sign, and incapacitates men for this duty, who other­wayes might be instrumental therein. 5. Beside, if the guilt be not so very palpable, as it may be demon­strated to be in persons, at such a time, it is safer to pre­serve certain peace in the Church, than to hunt for an uncertain crime, as hath been often said.

Fifthly, Where a persons being in a place, is the [Page 397] ground of contention, and things look not satisfying­like in his way, even though grosnesse be not demon­strable, we think it not unbecoming the authority of Church-judicatories, which is given for edification, to appoint the removal of such a person from such a place, (as was formerly hinted) for, it looketh sad like, that a Minister's being in such a particular place, should be more obstructive to edification and to the Churches peace, than if he were not a Minister at all. And it becometh well that singlenesse that a Minister ought to have in seeking the edification of the Church, to yeeld to such an advice and appoint­ment, or, of himself willingly to overture the same. For, Ministers are not to plead interest in a Congrega­tion simply, as a man doth his particular right; be­cause every thing of this kind ought to be done with respect to the edification of the body, the promoting whereof, ought to regulate both entries and removals. It's true, there would be warinesse here, lest dangerous precedents be given; yet considering, that a Minister who may somewhat peremptorily plead interest, and that jure in the Ministery, that yet cannot with that same strength of reason plead it in such and such a particular Congregation; and considering, that it is a publick good that is respected, and not the satisfacti­on or dissatisfaction of some in a particular Congre­gation, we conceive the former assertion cannot be simply denied.

Where contrair Ordinations are, it is more diffi­cult; Yet it would be considered that all these things we speak of now, are but particular: and therefore although full satisfaction should not be obtained in them, yet ought they not to be stumbled upon to the prejudice of union in generall, in which the good of the Church is more eminently concerned, as hath been said; Yet where peace is intended, we suppose this difficulty may be win over, one of these wayes, which have been formerly in use in such cases. As, 1. Some­times [Page 398] one person did willingly cede to another for the good of the Church; So did Basilius in a case former­ly mentioned, for which his condescendency he is ever highly commended. Neither can this be thought to be a casting by of the care of such a people, but rather the contrary, it is more their good, that they should be united under one orthodox Minister, though the more weak man, than to continue a division with two that are more able. 2. Sometimes where two were, it was thought good to unite them in their meetings, and that the longest liver should alone be acknowledged, if no other occasion offered, and neither were unworthy of the place, as in a case at Antioch formerly mentioned. 3. Sometimes both have been laid aside, where nei­ther have been worthy, or factions have been strong for either party, and so rooted prejudice of the adhe­rers to the one side against the other. This overture is offered by Augustine to the Donatists, for composing that difference of opposit Ordinations, which was frequent amongst them, each city almost having two Bishops; And this way hath been followed in composing many schisms, even of late. 4. Sometimes the party offend­ed and wronged by an opposit Ordination, hath keep­ed division down in some respect, by ceding, or with­drawing, or hiding their offence, till some probable or regular way hath occurred; rather choosing never to possesse such a place than to do it by wronging of the Church, in keeping up an irregular schism, when there was no accesse orderly to redresse it. Thus Eusebius being offended that Lucifer had ordained Paulinus a Bishop in Antioch to a party disclaiming him, who were called Eustachians▪ he moderated his carriage and withdrew, waiting to have had a lawful decision, and resolving to be submissive to that. Where men mind the good of the work, it is not like but some such way will compose these things; and if these fail, we will find also adjacent Bishops travelling to compose the same; Yea, sometimes men of authority coming from [Page 399] very far; And also some by civil Authority appoint­ed to treat therein, as in the closing of that schism at Antioch; for, schisms, arising from such discontents, are not ordinarily by meer Authority removed, be­cause there is often something both of affection and conscience in the businesse: there is need therefore of mutuall friendly conferring for giving and receiving of satisfaction therein.

CHAP. XVII. Remedies of divisions arising from the misappli­cation of power, in censuring, or sparing Mi­nisters, reall or supposed.

ANother part of the exercise of this power (which often in its misapplication, or its being pretend­ed to be so, is the ground of Church-divisions) is The matter of censuring and deposing of Ministers, and that two wayes.

The one is, When some good men are deposed, or such as are supposed to be so, whereby persons that appre­hend the injustice of the fact, do disclaim such a pow­er, and adhere to such a person notwithstanding. Thus did the schism at Constantinople arise for the unjust de­position of Chrysostom, and his adherents were called Ihoannitae, as if they had been of another Religion; Such also was that of the Eustachians at Antioch; which being driven against honest men, and there be­ing no condescending, at least what was once con­descended unto, being again recalled, there was noIn what ca­ses extremi­ties are to be shunned. stopping of such divisions, till in the manner, formerly hinted, and that being after both their deaths. In such cases extremities are to be shunned, for, its extremity that maketh rents, that is, too little condescending on the one side, and too much tenaciousness on the other.

One extremity to be eschewed, is, When Church­judicatories are too tenacious of a past Sentence, or [Page 400] the formality of some legall advantage which seemeth to justifie the Sentence, as in that case of Chrysostoms, almost all the weight was laid on this at first, That he refused to appear before them, or acknowledge their Authority as they were constituted: and although both the people and others did adhere to him, yet there was no condescending, which occasioned a great schism▪ and was exce [...]dingly condemned by the gene­rality of faithfull men in these dayes. Another extre­mity is, upon the other side, When for satisfaction of a Judicatory too little is ceded; or upon supposition, even of an unjust Sentence, a schism is stated, to theIudicatories wi [...]ely re­mitting ri­gour. hurt of the Church. In this case we may observe these things, 1. That sometimes the Judicatory hath condescended to re-admit a person, otherwayes of esteem, although possi [...]ly some particular slip hath been, that in strict justice might have deserved the Sentence: this was in the case of Osius formerly cited. It is true, there is no mention of the cause wherefore the Synod of Spain did depose him, nor is it clear whe­ther it be that famous Osius, whom the Arians deposed and whipped till he approved Athanasius his depositi­on; yet this is clear, that he being a man esteemed of in the Church, though possibly out of infirmity having fallen in that fault, he was for concord restored, Sine detrimento honoris, without prejudice to his credit. 2. Where men have been deposed upon the breach of some legality, or contempt, if otherwayes they have been men of gifts, and approv [...]n integrity in the main, though possibly thought proud and rigid by others, as in that case of Chrysostom; they were again received into the Church, and the Sentences with consent laid by, as appeareth in the readmitting of Chrysostom after his first deposition (of the justice of whose Sentence of deposition, because there was no convincing evi­dence to satisfie the people, Severinus in preaching did say. That his pride was reason sufficent) which for a time removed the division, and brought a chearfull [Page 401] calmnesse, till shortly after his old enemies interrupted it, and did enter a new processe with him, because he had re-entered his Bishoprick being once deposed by a Synod, and not having their authority; (which was grounded even upon the constitutions of Arian Councils) this being the second time driven-on against the intreaties and obtestations of many worthy Bi­shops and good people who adhered to him, did again renew and fix that schism. 3. When the menCorrupt, grosse, and prophane men, for no interpositi­on to be re­ceived. were otherwayes corrupt, or discovered to be grosse and prophane, although many other orthodox men did interpose for them, yet by all means it was re­sisted; because they still supposed such worthy men that sided with such to be mis-informed. And it's observable, that the most peaceable Synods who did most for union, as those in Africk, and that of Spain, who had received Osius, because of the Churches of France their interposing, by that to prevent a schism, yet were they most peremptory, as it were, in this, and refused to receive Barsilides and Martialis, as that of Carthage did refuse Apiarius, notwithstanding that Rome interposed for them, giving this reason, That there was a necessity of having the Churches provi­ded with faithfull and holy Ministers. 4. Some­times, and oftentimes men sentenced, though possibly with too much rigidity, if not with injustice, have yet submitted with respect to the Churches peace, ei­ther totally, and upon that ground have again been admitted; or partially, by abstaining to act any thing contrary to such a Sentence, but for reverence there­unto waiting for some legal redresse, as in history is frequent; and it is fit it should be so in such cases where the hurt is particular, and proceedeth not from a common design of undoing all faithfull Ministers; because the making of a schism, doth more hurt than the contending for their particular Ministery doth edifie in such a case; and therefore sometimes though some men have been pressed to under value an unjust [Page 402] Sentence, and to continue to officiate notwithstanding, Yet out of respect to Church-authority and order, have refused till they should be admitted orderly unto the same. Indeed when the Arians drave on the de­position of their most eminent opposers, it was other­wayes, because (as is marked in the Councill of Sar­dica) in bearing down of them, they endeavoured to bear down the truth which they maintained: But, where the controversie is not such, but the men ortho­dox and sound on both sides, though possibly there may be some particular faults or mistakes; in such a case, it is safer for either side to cede in part, or wholly, than to keep up a division: and we conceive, when one side cedeth not, if the other should cede wholly, it would be most to the advantage of their cause, and to the commendation and strengthening of their autho­rity in the Churches of Christ.

The other occasion of bebate in such Church-mat­ters,Debates about con­niving at guilty men is upon the defect, that is, when some are really, or are thought to be, connivers at guiltie men, or at least defective in putting of them to triall: others again, may be thought too forward and precipitant in that, whereupon ariseth difference; and if one cede not to another, it becometh the occasion of division, as may be seen in instances formerly given: Con­cerning which, we say,

1. That men would remember, this is but one par­ticular of many, that tend to the Churches good, (though indeed a main particular) and so ought not to be the rise of a division, nor of continuing thereof, to the marring of the Churches peace in other things, but men ought singly to do their duty, and therein to acquiesce, without partaking of the faults of others, whether it be by being defective, or by exceeding in that mater; and seing there may be no corrupt design in either who may be upon these extreames, it would not be so highly aggreaged on either side.

2. We say, that as often difference in this, may [Page 403] breed divisions; so again, divisions do occasion mens differing more in this: and it cannot be expected where division is, that men who are men and subject to be byassed, can be so single in receiving testimonies of the innocency of these that differ from them, or of the guiltinesse of these that agree with them, as if there were no division at all: And again, it is impossible, that where there is a difference in some other thing, that men can think others differing from them so single and unbyassed, as they suppose themselves to be, but are still ready to construct their differing from them in this to be occasioned from some former preju­dice; for, as was said, division breedeth jealousie, sus­picion, and distrust among men, and men are natu­rally inclined to suspect that others drive the design of strengthening themselves by the sentencing of such a person, whereby they are secretly induced, even una­wares, to disappoint such a supposed unstreight end, which maketh them on both sides suspect every thing, dispute every thing, and readily reject every thing that cometh from the other.

3. We say therefore, that union would not be sus­pendedUnion ra­ther to be followed that satis­faction herein may be had. upon satisfaction in this, but rather union would be pressed, that satisfaction in this may be at­tained; because satisfaction in this cannot be expect­ed till there be mutuall confidence of one anothers in­tegrity: and till there be some walking together, and some further evidence of the sincerity of each other in the main businesse, this mutuall confidence cannot be expected: and again, this cannot be obtained with­out an union, and so consequently union would be laid as a foundation for attaining of satisfaction even in this.

4. It would be considered, that oftentimes such ap­prehensions of extremities, which are imputed to ho­nest and zealous men, are most groundlesse; but there being something in them as men, it is conceived on the other hand, because of secretly entertained jealousie, [Page 404] to be much more. There was nothing more casten up to the Orthodox by the Novatians and Donatists, than that they were defective in this, in admitting to, and retaining in the Ministery, men that were cor­rupt, Yet after many trials they were never able to prove what they alleaged upon some eminent persons when it came to triall, even when such things were generally accounted true amongst them. This wouldIn times of division, aumours concerning eminent persons, not to be so re­garded. be adverted, that every general rumour be not accoun­ted a truth, especially in the times of division, for so, few of the most eminent on both sides should be inno­cent. Again, on the other side, it occasioned much heat against Chrysostom, that he had censured many of his Bishops, and threatened many of his Clergie; this did exceedingly provoke envy against him, and made such men to vent many calumnies on him, which were too much regarded, even by some orthodox and good men, who differed from him upon another account (as Epiphanius did upon the occasion of Origens writ­ings) yet in no history it is recorded, that he aimed at the censuring of any unjustly, though he did censure with a naturall vehemency, as he did every other thing; but the history saith, men spake much of the number of these that were sentenced by him, and of the vehemency of his manner in reproving and cen­suring of their faults, which they accounted to be pride, not considering the faults for which he did cen­sure them; But men having conceived prejudice at him, were the readier to admit of their accusations against him, as if they had been unjustly dealt with by him, and upon that same ground of prejudice at him, were the more inclinable to restore them whom he sentenced.Zeal in justly cen­suring, well consistent with a spi­rit of uni­on.

5. It is to be considered also, That zeal against such as are justly censurable, is most consistent with a spirit of union in the Church, as appeareth by the former instances of men most tender of union, and yet most zealous in this: yea, these two go together; [Page 405] because zeal for the Churches edification, constraineth to union, and doth also presse the removing of corrupt unfaithfull Ministers, which, next to division in a Church, is the greatest plague of a Church. Therefore these things would be adverted, 1. That the purging of the Church of such, and the work of union, would be joyntly respected, otherwayes if union be sleighted, it will hazard the falling in too nearly with the schisms of the Novatians and Donatists, which have been so hurtfull to the Church. 2. Union when it isYet union is to be pre­ferred to the censur­ing of some unfaithfull men. in competition with the deposing of some unfaithfull men, and both cannot be obtained together, it ought to be preferred, as we see the Apostle doth, 2 Cor. 10. 6. who will not censure in such a case, lest he state a schism; for, the continuing of such in a Church, is in­deed a hurt, seing they are uselesse, and in a great part hurtfull, yet so, honest Ministers may have accesse to do good beside them: but when schisms enter, the hurt thereof is more comprehensive, and they do render unusefull the Ministery both of good and bad. 3. It would be considered also, that the division being in the case supposed, where men are orthodox and pious on both sides, it is not so exceedingly to be feared, that either men, palpably corrupt in doctrine, or conversa­tion, should be entertrained upon the one side or that men useful in the Church, and blamelesse in their con­versations, should be crushed upon the other. 4. ItUnion no prejudice to the pur­ging out of corruption. would follow also, that union should be no prejudice to the ridding of the Church of corrupt Ministers, but that it should be studied where there is need, because it is a fruit of the same spirit (to be zealous against cor­rupt men) from which meeknesse and moderation to­ward these who are not such, do proceed; and there­fore if there be any such object of zeal, as an unfaith­full Minister, (as it is not like that ever the Church was, or shall be free of such) then ought men to bestir themselves faithfully in the removing of such. It is marked and commended in the Angel of Ephesus, [Page 406] Rev. 2. v. 2, 3. That he was eminent in patience and enduring, and yet so zealous in this, that he could en­dure no unsent Minister, but tryed such as called themselves Apostles, &c. which contemperature or mixture is exceedingly commended: And in refe­rence to the scope which we are upon, zeal in this, is not only a duty as at other times, but a speciall mean having influence on the procuring of union; because so, one of the great stumblings that hath been in the Church to make the Ministery contemptible is remov­ed, and a practicall evidence of mens zeal is given, which tendeth to lay a ground of confidence of them in the hearts of others; so, also men are keeped from falling under the tentation of luke-warmnesse, and forgetting of every duty, but the supporting of the side, at least, that which usually is imputed in such a case, is removed; and also by this, men would find the necessity of bearing with many things in others, who may in the main be supposed to be honest: And however, it is the way to be approven before God, and to have a testimonie in the consciences of others. All which conduce exceedingly to union; whereas universall cessation from this, as if there were no such matter to work upon, and obstructing formally, yea, or materially or virtually any thing thereof, doth ex­ceedingly tend to the fixing of division, and cooling of the affections of many that look on, without which, that is, warmed affections, there is little accesse to hearty union.

6. We say, that this duty of purging would not bePurging not to be much pres­sed till uni­on be fix­ed. so in its vehemency pressed, either under a division, or while union is not confirmed, as when a Church is in a good condition; because, that were to give strong physick to an unsettled weak body, that might rather stir the humours to the prejudice of the whole, than remove them: Therefore we conceive, that sobriety and prudence would be used here, in moderating of the exercise of this duty, till the union be confirmed, [Page 407] and, as it were, by preparations the body be disposed for the same: Therefore if faults be not grosse, evi­dences clear, and a persons unfruitfulnesse or hurtful­nesse demonstrable, (in which cases no difference amongst such parties as are to be united, is to be fear­ed) It is safer for the Church to abstain the same, than to hazard the opening or ruffling of a wound scarcely cured, by the unseasonable pressing of such a duty. The Apostle doth in severall cases spare consures of unfaithfull men, out of respect to the Churches good, as hath been formerly hinted; and as the judicious divine Mr. Gillespy (who yet cannot be branded with luke-warmnesse in this duty) in his Aarons rod, mak­eth out, and doth give instances of severall cases, wherein this forbearance is called-for. In sum, we suppose that having to do in such a case with such per­sons, it is more safe for men to do their own duty, keep­ing the peace of the Church, and to leave others to do according to the manifestnesse of things as they shall answer before God, as to their seeking the good of His Church; and if this prevail not with such men for ordering them in their duty, will any think that the keeping up, or threatening of division, will prevail?

Lastly, It would be considered, if such ends as any side would propose, either in keeping in, or purging out of men who are thought fit or unfit respectively, can be attained without union, so as with it. There­fore seing that is a thing which belongeth to Govern­ment, and men are to be swayed in such Acts by what conduceth most to edification, when they cannot at­tain the length they would (as we suppose men shall never do, in this matter of purging) they then are to walk by this rule of choosing what comparatively is most edifying, as was formerly said. Sometimes also difference hath been about the excommunicating of per­sons, or readmitting again to communion: but what concerneth this may be somewhat understood from the former grounds, wherein extremities would be [Page 408] shunned, and the Churches peace, and the Authority of the Ordinances studied: Also, we have otherwayes beyond our purpose become so long, (and possibly ad nauseam usque) in other things, we shall therefore for­bear particular descending into this, but proceed in the generals proposed.

CHAP. XVIII. The fears of mis-government for the time to come, and remedies thereof.

THe last thing in Government, which was proposed, as that whereabout differences and divisions do arise, is, in reference to Govern­ment for the time to come, and resolves in this, Who shall have chief hand in the decision of matters that after may fall out, supposing the union to be made up. This resulteth from the present diffidence and preju­dice which each hath in reference to other, and from that impression that men have, that there will be a driving of sides, according to power, even under a concluded union: And indeed somewhat may be feared and expected, at least for a time, considering mens distance in such a case; for, if diffidence and suspicion be come to that height under divisions, that one will not trust another in some petty particular fact that is past; or lay by jealousie where no proof is, notwithstanding of all solemn attestations; it's no marvel that in matters of greater consequence which are to come, they do not easily give them credit. This is often the greatest businesse to be composed in a dif­ference: hence it is, that sometimes bygones, which have been the rise of the division, may be removed, when as yet this cannot be composed, because there is no way conceivable how both parties may have the chief hand in Government, and neither being wil­ling to cede to the other, either from a secret ground [Page 409] of sleighting one another, or from that root of suspi­cion whereby they conceive all lost that the other is able to carry over them, whereby from fear of ha­zarding the Churches good condition, they run here in a certain prejudice, and, in some sense, fall in that inconvenience, which a Writer observeth on the con­tending of two Bishops, expressed in this as the ground of their division▪ [...]nus ut prae [...]sset alter ne sub­e [...]et. sed neuter ut prodesset; which is often-times, on the matter, too true in all such contests, this last being a consequent of the former two.

This difference may be considered two wayes, 1. As it pretendeth a dissatisfaction with the persons who are to govern; some, upon the one side, thinking it unfit to joyn with prophane men; some, upon the other, disdaining to joyn with Schismaticks. In this strait were the Fathers of the Council of Carthage in their dealing with the Donatists; some of them assert­ing, on the one side, That there was no uniting with such as the generality of the Catholicks were; and Au­gustine often citeth the word of P [...]tmianus, given-in to them as an Answer to the desire of a Conference, In­dignum est ut in unum conventant fi [...]ii Martyrum, & pro­genies traditorum; that is, It is a most unseemly thing that the sons of Martyrs, and the brood of Traditors should assemble together in one place. On the other hand, they were pressed from Rome and parts adjacent, not to unite with these Schismaticks the Donatists, as may be seen in that Council; yet did they find it their duty to seek union with them notwithstanding, and to ad­mit, that such of them as were put before from their Churches, should be repossessed by him that was ap­pointed Cognitor, and deputed by the Emperour in that Conference, Ut eo modo eos ad conferendum etiam bene­ficiis invitaret; that is, That so he might invite them to conference at least by such benefits. This principle, we suppose, ought not, nor will not stick in the hearts of such men, and in such a case, as is presupposed, and [Page 410] it leadeth to a These, That there is no communion in Government to be keeped, where, upon any of the former accounts, men are displeased with such persons as are joyned therein with them: and though affecti­on, and sometimes inclination, being stirred with pre­judice and discontent, will be ready to make some such practices to be plausible, which do infer this; yet, I suppose, the Thesis it self will not be maintained, more than such a ground will warrant Separation in any other Ordinance; and the grounds formerly laid down in several parts of this discourse, will not admit of such a principle, which, if admitted, would exclude union for ever, We shall therefore passe this.

The second and main difficulty then, is, In the or­dering of things so for the time to come, as the ends of union and government may thereby be obtained, and that nothing that may be justly feared by one side or other, may be altogether sleighted. In reference to this, it will not be expected that we should be parti­cular or satisfying, yet not to leave it altogether im­perfect. We shall, first, propose some general con­siderations, to mollifie the sharpnesse of division upon this account. 2. Offer some general helps, which in such cases may be thought on. 3. Lay down some advertisements upon supposition that full satisfaction be not obtained.

We propose these considerations to be thought on concerning this, 1. In such a thing it is impossibleIt must be such a satis­faction as neither is fully satisfi­ed. that men on both, or either side, can expect full satis­faction to their mind, or even simply to their light; because men have not th