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Full text of "The works of Thomas Goodwin"

tihxaxy of t:he 't l^olocjical ^eminarjp 


The Rev. John M. Krebs 
Class of 1832 

BX 9315 .G66 1861 v. 11 
Goodwin, Thomas, 1600-1680. 
The works of Thomas Goodwin 







W. LINDSAY ALEXANDER, D.D., Professor of Theology, Congregational 
Union, Edinburgh. 

JAMES BEGG, D.D., Minister of Newington Free Church, Edinburgh. 

THOMAS J. CRAWFORD, D.D., S.T.P., Professor of Divinity, University, 

D. T. K. DRUMMOND, M.A., Minister of St Thomas's Episcopal Church, 

WILLIAM H. GOOLD, D.D., Professor of Biblical Literature and Church 
History, Reformed Presbyterian Church, Edinburgh. 

ANDREW THOMSON, D.D., Minister of Broughton Place United Presby- 
terian Church, Edinburgh. 

©ftieral ©ttitor. 
REV. THOMAS SMITH, M.A., Edinbdroh. 















This is the only Treatise in the whole of this Series on a subject on which 
there is material difference of opinion amongst Protestants. It is believed 
that even those Subscribers who least agree with the sentiments of the 
Author would have been dissatisfied if his works had been rendered im- 
perfect by withholding this Treatise. 

That it is not published with any sectarian view, is sufficiently vouched 
for by the fact, that both the Publisher and Editor belong to that section of 
the church whose views are specially controverted. Ed. 




Book I. — Of the right institution of the churches of Christ. — That 
the order and government of those churches are established by 
divine institution. — What is the nature of divine institutions, 
and how the koowledge of them is conveyed to us ; that Christ 
hath settled ordinances for worship and discipline, which are 
to continue unto the end of the world ; that the power of 
church censures and excommunication hath its institution 
in a more especial manner from Christ, as head of the 
church. ...... 3 

Book II. — Of the divine institution of a congregational church. — 
That it is not secondary, or consequent upon a charter given to 
the church universal, as virtually included therein, but is im- 
mediate and proper to it. — That Christ instituted such a 
church in Mat. xviii. and gave the power of the keys to it. — 
That such congregational churches were primitive and apos- 
tolical, proved from the instances of churches planted by 
the apostles. — That the constitution and order of such 
churches, is most fitly suited for the edification of the saints, 
and most exactly accommodated to their various conditions. 
— That Christ hath not only instituted a congregational 
church, but hath appointed what the extent and limits of it 
should be. ...... 50 

Book III. — Particular congregations, having a'sufiicient number of 
elders and officers, are completely enabled for all acts of 
government, and excommunication itself, within themselves, 
as well as for worship. . . . . .132 

Book IV. — The claims of the Presbyterian government considered 
and refuted. — That the church universal is not a church poli- 
tical, and the seat of government. — That the institution for 
worship and government falleth not upon the saints in a 
nation, as a nation or kingdom, to be the seat of it. — That an 
argument cannot be urged for a national church government, 
from the instance of the Jewish pattern. — That a standing 
presbytery is not to be set up to exercise power and juris- 
diction over particular congregations. . . . 179 

Book V. — The jurisdiction of synods debated. — That appeals are 
not necessary to the government of the churches, and there- 
fore there is no necessity of synods upon that account. — 
What power may be allowed to a synod occasionally meeting 
to consider the maladministration of any particular church. 
— That they have not that gi-and prerogative of power given 


by Christ to excommunicate other churches, and so by that 
rod to enforce them to revoke their sentence of malad- 
ministration, and to receive a person wrongfully excommuni- 
cated by them. — The subordination of synods considered 
and refuted. — Though particular churches are not subject 
to the jurisdiction of synods, yet they are not wholly in- 
dependent, but there is a communion which they ought to 
hold one with another. ..... 232 

Book VI. — Of the constitution of a particular congregational 
church. — The rise, institution, and definition of it. — A com- 
parison between it and the church universal. — That Christ 
hath given to his saints a right and liberty of gathering into 
such holy societies. — That in doing so they are not guilty of 
sinful separation or schism. — Of the divers kind of officers in 
a church. — That there is an institution for each sort. — 
That the pastor and teacher are equal in authority and 
power. — Of the exercise of the communion of saints, which 
the members of a church ought to have, one with another. 285 

Book YII. — That the preaching of the gospel is an ordinance of 
Jesus Christ, instituted for the conversion of sinners, and 
for the edification of the saints. — Of the use and necessity 
of ministers wholly set apart to preach. — That Christ by his 
institution hath appointed a due maintenance for ministers. — 
Concerning the time for the administration of ordinances, and 
whether the sacrament of the Lord's supper ought to be ad- 
ministered on every Lord's day. — Whether, in case of neces- 
sity, a church may by common consent divide themselves, to 
meet in several parts, and receive the Lord's supper in such 
distinct meetings, rather than omit that ordinance wholly. — 
Whether in case of apparent danger of hfe, loss of estate 
rationally foreseen, or in case of force and violence, causing 
ordinances to cease, there may not be prudent forbearance 
or secret avoidance. — Whether one who is not a church 
member may be the subject of baptism. — Whether one who 
is not a pastor may administer baptism. — Whether a church 
may depose an officer for a fault, which doth not deserve ex- 
communication. — Of anointing with oil. — Of toleration and 
liberty of conscience to be granted to particular churches, 
though differing from the national constitution. . . 359 

The Government and Discipline of the Churches of Christ, 

SET down by way OF QUESTIONS AND AnSWERS. . . 485 

Two Letters concerning a Church Covenant. . . 626 

Two Letters concerning Church Government. . . 54:1 







""'Or n 



Of the riffht institution of the churches of Christ. — That the order and 
f/overmnent of those churches are established by divine institution. — What is 
the nature of divine institutions, and how the knowledge of them is conveyed 
to US', that Christ hath settled ordinances for ivorship and discipline, which 
are to continue unto the end of the world ; that the power of church censures 
and excommunication hath its institution in a more especial manner from 
Christ, as head of the church. 


A brief scheme of the several opinions concerning the constitution and govern- 
ment of the church of Christ. — The truth stated and vindicated. 

If it were granted that the churches in the New Testament were formed and 
fixed bodies, yet the question would still remain about the tenure whereon 
they hold their formation and constitution ; of what kind that tenure is, 
whether of divine institution ; and therefore it will be most seasonable, and 
conducing to the understanding of all that follows, to give a general prospect 
of the several opinions about church constitution that are amongst us, ere we 

There are three eminently differing opinions, one of which will certainly 
prove to be the truth of God, and which soever of them, when all of them 
are once thoroughly and fairly examined, shall be found to be the truth, we 
shall rejoice, though it prove that we do suffer loss in our own. 

1. Our presbyterian brethren hold the institution of church state to fall 
upon the whole universal church, as one great body by institution ; and 
then, likewise, upon all the parts thereof, according to the division and sub- 
division of the whole into several subordinations of greater and lesser bodies, 
or fixed assemblies, national, provincial, classical, or congregational ; so as 
the universal church on earth being, by Christ's institution, a body politic, 
and a kingdom in the total consideration of it, and being a similar body, 


consisting of similar or like parts for state and condition, it becomes 
throughout such in all parts thereof. Even as every part of water hath the 
nature of the whole, so every integral church, be it lesser or greater, national, 
provincial, congregational, &c., as they are all churches, so in their propor- 
tion they are all of them seats of government by an equal, uniform, general 
institution ; and the whole being ordained such, each part, by association 
and consent, doth become such also. For Christ, by one great charter 
granted to the whole, did at once authorise and endow all such particular 
subordinations with ecclesiastical power ; only left the distribution of this 
vast and great commonwealth and body politic, into its parts greater or lesser, 
to be made by general rules for edification and order, as the law of nature 
and human wisdom should see fit. But yet all is ordered'with this law, 
that the lesser bodies should be subject to the greater, from top to bottom, 
and so all to the church universal, and the judicature thereof, so as judica- 
tory appeals might be made from the less to the greater, by virtue of this 
divine right granted to the whole. And this is said to have been the scope 
of Christ in his first institution. Tell the church ; and by it this kind of 
power and government being wholly given to the elders of the church, is to 
be transacted by them in their consistoi'ies and associations, even from con- 
gregational to general councils, and is therefore only practicable by the 
meetings of elders chosen and sent from the lesser assemblies to the greater, 
as abstracted from, and without the convening of the saints, whereof they are 
elders ; for convention of all the particular saints is not only unpracticable 
in those greater bodies, but in classical assemblies too. And we do freely 
give this testimony of honour to this opinion, that of all other grounds unto 
which the presbyterian divines have in these latter days, when put to prove 
their government, had recourse, this is the most consistent and fairest prin- 
ciple (if it could be proved) to rear up all their subordinations at once, and 
to endow the constitution of them with a divine light,* which, as the soul in 
the body, will be equally diffused through every part thereof, and which, if it 
prove true, we must all turn presbyterians. 

2. Some other godly and reverend divines, who do with us wholly reject 
any such politic model, as an invention of man (which reareth up a worldly 
frame and theatre for elders, through several stairs, to enter upon the heri- 
tage of the Lord), yet agree with our presbyterian brethren in this principle 
■ of the catholic universal church being a similar body in the whole, and all 
the parts thereof. So that as a congregation is in no further respect or con- 
sideration a church, nor to any other end, use, or purpose than is the uni- 
versal ; so, likewise, the warrant for, and the privilege of congregational 
churches being a seat for ordinances and elders, is but from the bare general 
grant and privilege given to the church universal, which is one day ordained 
to meet together in heaven, and should now on earth aspire to the state and 
perfection thereof. And by virtue of this canon law and charter only, saints 
gather iato particular churches, and enjoy ordinances, and all power of 
government executed therein. So that the whole constitution and order of 
congregational churches, is only by virtue of that general law of communion 
of saints, without any further superadded institution of Christ, either electively 
ordaining of all such other bodies of saints to be the seat of ordinances, or 
endowing them with any further privilege or power of government than the 
whole body of saints in the world hath. In a word, the appointment of con- 
gregational bodies is, according to this opinion, only virtual, and arising from 
the general grant to the universal church, and founded but upon the common 
law of the communion of saints. These two opinions, though thus agreeing 

* Qu. ' right 'V— Ed. 

Chap. L] the churches of christ. 5 

in that fore-mentioned general principle, yet do differ, as two extremes. The 
one, as we conceive, diffuseth a pretended instituted policy too vastly, en- 
gaging all saints and particular churches to subject their consciences, under 
pain of excommunication, to the determinations and decisions of all the 
clergy in the world ; which is by this constituted as one body, inspired with 
this soul of government in all the divisions of them as parts of the whole; and 
such a government may possibly issue in the greatest tyranny. The other, 
whilst they betake themselves to the common privilege of the church mystical 
and universal, and merely to that law of communion of saints that is therein, 
doth hereby shut out and exclude all government or censures, but such as 
the common law of communion of saints, and the law of nature common to 
all societies will admit, yea, and in the consequence thereof, takes away all 
institutions whatsoever of any such discipline or censures, whereof, if par- 
ticular congregations be found the seat, those congregations themselves also 
must be by institution. 

3. We profess, as in other things, so in this, to run a middle way, which, 
for aught we yet see, the Scripture chalks out to us. 

1. We maintain that assertion of a church universal, as the general body 
of all, and that particular churches are as parts thereof. Yet so as with our 
own Amesius, and others who have been esteemed orthodox ''divines, we 
conceive that the notion or consideration of church, which the universal body 
of saints stands under, is merelj' and purely mystical, and such also to be 
the union and communion thereof, as with Christ, so of all the members 
thereof among themselves. And further, we assert this notion or name of 
mystical church, to be given not only to the invisible company of the elect, 
and real members of Christ the Head, but to the visible company of pro- 
fessors of Christianity that do walk as saints, and are esteemed as such by 
saints through the world. Unto whom, as taken in the lump and outward 
view, as Christ is reckoned to be an outward head to them, as on earth 
considered, so upon whom also, taken in the lump and outward visibility, 
as well as upon the invisible company, the notion of the church mystical 
may be put, it being in this distinction opposed to a church instituted, or 
that which is a politic body under Christ. 

2. We assert, that until the mystical body of the elect shall meet together 
in heaven, God hath appointed and ordained the visible saints on earth, 
being diffused over all the world, and thin sown therein, to be knit together 
in particular bodies, over which he hath appointed elders, pastors, and 
teachers, officers by his institution ; which bodies, consisting of both, should 
be the public holders forth of his truth and worship, and the subject of the 
privilege of all ordinances, and seats also of a power and government, for these 
saints to be subjected to, and reduced in case of scandals. And the honour 
of Christ is hereby to be vindicated, and his ordinances kept pure, although 
there were no Christian magistrates in the world that would take cognisance 
of such scandals. 

3. And further, we conceive that the gathering of saints into such par- 
ticular bodies to Christ, thus to be the seat of such officers, ordinances of 
worship, and government, is, by a general institution and endowment of 
Christ, over and above the catholic warrant of communion of saints, although 
including and taking in all the rules and laws thereof. And accordingly the 
measure and proportion and extent of these bodies, and what the limits and 
bounds thereof were to be, is set forth by institution, as also the organisa- 
tion of this body, what kind of officers or organical members shall be in it. 
These are all to be found set out by him, as in his wisdom he foresaw would 
best suit those ends which this institution of such bodies of saints should 


serve fo, and as should be fitted to the privileges these bodies are endowed 
with, Christ having also (as to his own institution he doth) made an answer- 
able special blessing (which special promise of blessing doth indeed, if there 
were no more, make an institution and ordinance of that thing to which it 
is made) of being with such assemblies of his, over and above the blessing 
which, from the virtual catholic relation and communion between Christians 
in general, and on occasional waj'S, would flow. 

4. These instituted bodies of churches we humbly conceive to be, for the 
bounds and proportion, or measure of them, only congregational, which are 
the fixed seat and subject of all ordinances of worship, and who are the 
seat of all sorts of officers or organical members, that serve for the use of 
the whole ; and that these also, by and with their officers, are the sole seat 
of that government, and the acts thereof, which may more properly be 
termed government, i. e. that is judicially to bind the soul (which is accom- 
panied with a promise, that such a soul shall be bound in heaven), and in 
Christ's name also to deliver to Satan, &c., which is an instituted punish- 
ment, over and above the sphere of that catholic communion, and beyond 
what any company of angels or saints as members of, or by virtue of the 
catholic grant, can or ought to take on them, execute, and pronounce ; and 
from which, rightly administered, there can be no appeal, nor of which no 
act of repeal can be made by any supreme court on earth ; though, if not 
rightly administered, it is null, and of no force. And these bodies thus en- 
dowed hath Christ appointed as under- schools of his foundation, wherein, by 
the enjoyment of all his ordinances, his saints living therein whilst on earth 
might be tutored, built up, and formed and fashioned for that great univer- 
sity, when all the saints shall meet in heaven. And thus, over and above 
the general communion of saints, there are, and ought to be by Christ's in- 
stitution, political, ecclesiastical bodies or churches, that are the seat of a 
spiritual government, wherein we join with the first opinion. 

5. And yet we further affirm, that out of the circuit and bounds of these 
instituted privileged seats for worship and government, taking all these 
saints, elders, and churches, whether in a city, province, nation, yea, the 
whole world, among them as so considered, that common law of the mystical 
communion of saints which the catholic relation obligeth to, takes place ; so 
that as there is a law of single communion and non-communion between 
saint and saint in case of ofi'ence, so between church and church, or greater 
or lesser combinations of churches, as occasion is, or may be, of intercourse 
either way. And therein churches proceed with churches, not poUtice, or as 
armed by Christ with a judicial power of giving up to Satan ; but they pro- 
ceed and deal each with other modo myslico, or with a moral declarative 
power only, which law of mystical communion yet obligeth them to all the 
same duties for substance, each to other, that that political power obHgeth 
them in a congregation unto. And thus far we also join with the second 
opinion, humbly professing that either to make the church universal in the 
whold, and all the parts, to be a political instituted body, armed with go- 
vernment, as the first opinion doth ; or, on the other side, to make the com- 
munion and power in congregational bodies, and the institution thereof, to 
be but virtual, from what is given to the church universal, and but similar 
thereunto, as the second opinion doth ; to be both of them mistaken. Ap- 
prehending much rather the truth to lie in a communion of saints here on 
earth, compounded and made up (for the kind thereof) of both kinds of con- 
stitution ; the one a fixed, instituted, and political communion, superadded 
to the obligation of the mystical relation of saints one to another, as such, 
and this to be in and between the members of a particular congregation ; the 


other, simply mystical, and moral, and occasional, and that to be between 
congregations each with other, and indeed between all the churches in the 
world. So as, whilst these saints are knit and united into such particular 
churches for the enjoyment of ordinances, with power to preserve them pure, 
they yet are both, as saints and as a church, to hold all sorts of correspon- 
dency, and are by Christ obliged to all sorts of communion, and which, ac- 
cordingly, we do profess to hold and maintain with all saints and churches, 
according to the several degrees of purity amongst them. 

This being a true scheme and general prospect of the several opinions 
amongst us, the particulars of all which we shall in order pursue in this 
discourse in such a due method as may conduce most to clear the truth, I 
shall now apply myself to consider whether these particular churches, or 
fixed bodies of saints and elders (whether congregational or classical, or 
whatever else they shall prove to be), are to hold their constitution and for- 
mation by any special divine institution ; for the clearing of which we shall 
have occasion first to have to do with that principle forementioned, whether 
over and above the general charter of the church universal, and the laws and 
rules of the communion of saints belonging thereunto, there is not a super- 
added institution for the constitution of particular churches, and for the en- 
dowing them with these privileges which, as churches, is found to be bestowed 
upon them ; and then we shall prove that even the setting forth the bounds and 
limits of those bodies, the extensive power of elders, and measure and pro- 
portion of these churches that are the seat of government, must also neces- 
sarily be set forth by such a special divine institution. 


That the constitution of a church, and the rules of -its order and rfovernment, 
are established by a certain institution of Christ. Some propositions laid 
down in order to the demonstration of this truth. 

The church universal is a church by an higher ground than by that of insti- 
tution ; it is rather the object of God's decree. And their meeting in heaven, 
and making a general assembly, is not so much by virtue of a command, or 
by appointment declared in his revealed will, as by a decree of his secret 
will, and through the efiicacious power of it, the same that raiseth them, 
wraps them up in the clouds, and after carries them to heaven, and presents 
them together at the latter day, as it is said of Christ, Ps. ii. As their wor- 
ship there is only natural worship, not anything that belongs to the second 
command, so, nor is their meeting by virtue of that command. But now, 
if all the saints on earth were no more than could meet in one place, yet 
that these should meet as a church for such and such ordinances, which in 
heaven they shall not have, this must needs be from an institution of Christ's, 
over and above their being the church in general, as the ordinances them- 
selves are established by such an institution ; for they gather together in his 
name, and excommunicate in his name, as well as they baptize in his name ; 
and therefore, if baptism be an institution, their gathering together must be 
an institution also ; and indeed, if the government and the worship be by 
institution, the seat or subject must needs be so. As if the officers and the 
laws of a college or incorporate town be by a law and a charter, the college 
or corporation itself, the form of it and warrant to be so, must be much 
more. Nothing in any kingdom depends more upon a charter and the 
supreme authority than the embodying of men into societies, and the enab- 


ling them to act in them. And so the constitution of these spiritual hodies, 
the churches, hath a necessary dependency on this authority of Christ. 
Those bodies to be ruled, they are called the house of God, and the church 
of God. ' If he rule not his own house well, how shall he take care of the 
church of God ?' 1 Tim. iii. 5. Why is it called the church of God, but 
because of God's institution, as the Lord's supper and the Lord's day, have 
their names from the Lord's institution ? And it is called the house of 
God and the temple of God ; and as the temple was by institution, so this 
church of Christ too. 

And, indeed, that to which a promise is, for that there is a command, 
which is all one with an institution, and an institution is conveyed in a pro- 
mise. In the Old Testament all their solemn assemblies (which were the 
types of ours) were by an institution, both who, and where, and how, as 
those for worship in the temple, the Sanhedrim for government ; therefore 
the things typified much more. 

But farther, what the apostles did teach the saints to become, for that 
there is an institution, for they taught nothing but what Christ commanded 
them. Mat. xxviii. 20. And when they had taught them to become churches, 
they wrote to them us such, and the Holy Ghost owneth them as such. And 
the Holy Ghost did ordain, by institution, pastors and teachers, and set them 
as overseers over each flock, as an whole flock, Acts xx. 28 ; therefore or- 
dained the bounds of their flocks too. 

Again, the seven churches are seven candlesticks, whereof the type was 
the candlestick of God, made by God's appointment. In the candlestick 
there were two things : 1. Matter, which was gold, that they should be 
saints ; 2. Form, which is therefore Christ's institution, to be cast into such 
or such a mould. And for one candlestick then, there are many candlesticks 
now. Seven in Kev. i. 20. And the form of these many are now as well 
from Christ as the form of that one then was. 

And as it is God's house, he hath not left it unto man to frame his building 
to what proportion he pleaseth; Christ's body instituted (which is resembled 
unto the natural body throughout the epistles), is to have set limits of it, a 
maximum quod sit ; and as the natural body, if it have all the parts that can 
have communion natural in the same common acts of nature together, though 
it be never so small, is a perfect body, so it hath also a prescription of big- 
ness, and bounds are set it, both for parts and a maximum, quod sit, for 
proportion of stature, which none should exceed. Thus Christ hath also 
constituted his body the church, in a due measure and proportion. 

But to make a distinct demonstration, that the form and order of con- 
gregational churches is of Christ's institution, I shall proceed in this method. 

1. I shall prove that God hath not left the government of his church to 
be ordered by the laws of nature, or the arbitrary maxims of human reason, 
but hath prescribed rules for it by his own institution. 

2. I shall shew what is the nature of a divine institution. 

3. I shall describe the ways whereby Christ hath derived his institutions 
to us, to ascertain us that they are genuinely his own. 

4. I shall demonstrate the order, and worship, and ordinances of the 
churches of Christ, to be of a perpetual continuance. 

5. I shall prove that excommunication, being more than non-communion 
or casting out of the church, hath in it a superadded institution of Christ. 

6. I shall at last shew that a congregational church is, by Christ's insti- 
tution, the only subject and seat of church government, and the grand charter 
of the power of the keys is granted to it alone. 

1. To prove that Christ hath not left his churches destitute of rules for 

Chap. II.J the churches of cheist. . 9 

her government, but hath established them in his divine word of the Scrip- 
tures, I shall lay down and demonstrate these following propositions. 

Prop. I. That the right government of a church is a part of worship under 
the New Testament ; which is evident, 

1. Because all means of worship are called the keys of heaven. Mat. xvi. 
18, 19 ; and by excommunication men bind and loose, as well as by preach- 
ing or by praying. 2. This act of government, excommunication, is paral- 
leled with prayer ; the agreement of the church to cast out is paralleled 
with this, What two shall agree to ask, Mat. xviii. 19. 3. Excommunica- 
tion is done in the name of Christ and in the power of Christ, which is the 
same thing that makes baptism a part of worship. ' Baptize them in the 
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,' Mat. xxviii. 19. 
So as the Lord's supper also is constituted. 4. In Kom. xii. all is called 
XoyiTir] Xargs/a, reasonable worship, which referreth to ruling afterward, as 
well as teaching and exhorting. And 5. If a contribution to uphold the 
ministry, and giving to poor Christians, be called a sacrifice, and a service 
done unto God, 2 Cor. ix. 12 (the word is XsiTov^yia), then church censures 
also as well may have that name, and therefore must have a rule for them 
as well as other parts of worship. And therefore now to determine as who 
shall baptize, and who shall administer the sacrament of the Lord's supper, 
depends upon his having a power to do it, so to determine who shall excom- 
municate, there is some rule to direct us. 

Prop. II. The law of nature is not sufficient to set up any thing which is 
parallel to a divine institution. 

As for example, if the government of congregations by elders and officers 
be in a particular congregation set up by divine institution, no law of nature 
alone will be ground enough to erect the like power in any other company 
of elders, if they have not that other by institution. The laws of nature may 
-indeed direct ns how to manage ordinances that Christ hath erected, accord- 
ing to the common nature in which those ordinances partake with other 
things civil. As if that there be many prophets in a church, the law of nature 
will teach that they should not speak many at once, because it is against 
the end of prophesying ; but the laws of nature would not be sufficient to 
erect an order of prophecy in the church, which Jesus Christ hath not ap- 
pointed, although speech is a natural means to persuade by. The laws of 
nature will also teach us to take the benefit of ordinances, if they be insti- 
tuted by Christ. As supposing that Christ had appointed a superior power, 
a superior court over churches, having the same power which the churches 
have, the laws of nature woiild have taught me to have made use of this, but 
would never have warranted the erection of such, armed with the same power, 
if Jesus Christ should not be found to have appointed it. The proposition 
is evident by these reasons : 

1. Because that institutions and ordinances flow from Christ, not as the 
author of nature, but as the author of grace, as Lord and King of his church, 
and so depend upon his will. If therefore he by his will have made one in- 
stitution, the laws of nature cannot make a parallel to it ; and parallel it is 
if it be supposed to have the same power and influence that the other hath 
which Christ hath instituted. 

2. Nothing can work beyond its own sphere ; and therefore, though the 
laws of nature may be sanctified to subserve the institutions of Christ, yet 
not to raise up anything anew parallel to an institution of Christ. A spiritual 
court parallel to such a spiritual court as Christ hath instituted, is what ex- 
ceedeth the power of nature, as truly as that it is not in the power of nature 
to produce a spiritual act of grace parallel to what the Holy Ghost produceth. 


Natural gifts and natural parts may be subservient unto grace that sancti- 
fieth them, but they cannot produce or educe the least spiritual act. And 
thus Christ's government excludeth not nature, but will take in the help of 
it, but exceeding it ; nature cannot be the rise of any part of it. 

Prop. III. That there must be a special divine institution for the govern- 
ment of the churches of Christ. 

For all church power and government which bath a spiritual punishment 
annexed to it, must be by special institution ; and that is in a special manner 
government, by a divine institution, which hath a power annexed to it, to 
inflict a spiritual punishment, beyond what is in the common nature of the 
act itself to do. And therefore, although to withdraw from every brother that 
walketh inordinately, be from the common law of Christianity, in all sorts 
of arbitrary converse ; yea, and to throw out of a fixed body or society, to 
have power to do so, be from the common and ordinary nature of all other 
societies, if the laws of those societies be so and so transgressed ; yet that 
there should be a delivering over to Satan with the power of the Lord Jesus 
Christ, that this should be annexed to the casting of a man out, this is 
apparently by special institution, for no body of men by the common law of 
nature could have power so to do. So also although upon all admonitions 
there is a binding the sin upon the conscience so far forth as the nature of 
the sin is laid upon it, which is common to all other reproofs of any kind in 
other sorts, yet that there should be a promise that where such and such, 
rather than others, do bind sin upon a man's conscience on earth by their 
sentence and judgment, this sin is also bound upon them in heaven. Mat. 
xviii. 18, this must be from an institution superadded. Whether Christ's 
will that this should be done by such and such be apparent to us by an 
express command in the letter of it, or is held forth in some example or 
some promise which do imply it, yet it is an institution, because it holds 
forth a supernatural efficacy. For whatsoever is set apart by Grod electively, 
and culled out from other things to be the instrument of a supernatural 
power and efficacy, that is such by divine institution ; and all such power 
as is thus supernatural, must be disposed of and executed according to his 
mind, by his own instruments, and where he hath placed it. Every man is 
to admonish his brother upon that common ground, that he is to love him 
and not to hate him ; this is a common ground belonging to all sorts of men 
whatsoever ; but that any select company of men should be peculiarly singled 
out to have power to admonish a man, to bind sin upon him, this is from 
the institution of Christ. And that they should have the promise of the 
power of Jesus Christ to accompany them ; that this should be in order to 
a throwing the sinner out, and a dehvering him up to Satan if he repent not, 
this is from Christ's institution. Thus God doth take things, that by the 
common law of Christianity do serve for such an end, and yet over and 
above puts an institution upon them to serve for some special end, in such a 
way, by such and such persons ; as in those instances given of reproving and 
admonishing by any Christian which serveth to a spiritual end, he takes it 
up to be performed in a church and by elders in public in a more special 
manner, to have a further efficacy in it, because he hath put a further insti- 
tution upon it. Thus also the gifts out of which men preach and pray, 
they are common to multitudes of men, and are given in a providential way, 
and not by institution ; but that men should exercise these by way of office, 
in a constant, selected way, and separated hereunto, this is by special insti- 
tution. So likewise God doth take such things as have a ground in the law 
of nature, and over and above stamps his institution upon them in a super- 
natural way further than naturally they serve to ; so that Christ's institutions 

Chap. II.] the churches of cheist. 11 

they do not exclude natural grounds, but comply with them, only elevate 
them, cause them to exceed their natural power and force with a peculiar 
efficacy and blessing, and so fall in with the rules of nature. Thus that 
not two or three should speak at once in a church, it is in itself a law of 
nature common to all men ; that women should not speak in public, but be 
silent, it is the law of nature ; yet over and above they are delivered as the 
commands of God, which he that is spiritual acknowledgeth, as the apostle 
saith, 1 Cor. xiv. It is the law of nature, that no man should war upon his 
own charges, that the labourer is worthy of his hire, &c., and the apostle 
allegeth these for ministers' maintenance, 1 Cor. ix. 7, and yet withal addeth, 
so I ordain in all the churches, and makes an institution of it. And for 
the due companies of men to meet and assemble themselves together, and 
no more to assemble than can meet in one place to be edified by ordinances, 
agrees with that law of nature that is common to it as to other things. But 
yet this, which had but a natural and moral foundation, hath Jesus Christ 
now made an institution of, and hath therefore put his own name upon it, 
and called it, a gathering together in his name, and he hath enabled them 
with a power beyond the power of nature in the throwing of a man out, for 
it is to give him up to Satan. 

So also in the judging of a man for having committed a sin there is always 
a kind of censure. In a large sense indeed, vita est censura, and thus a man 
condemns and censures another by his practice and example, and so a godly 
man doth judge wicked men, and they are reproved and judged by all the 
saints. But there is also a special judicature out of authority, and the power 
of Jesus Christ accompanying of it, namely, that spoken of in 1 Cor. v. 12, 
when he saith, ' Do not ye judge those that are within ? What have I to do 
to judge them that are without?' therefore, this is by special institution. 
And in this place of the Corinths, compared with chap vi., this difiering way 
of judgment, one by way of institution, and the other by way of the common 
law of nature, seems to be held forth by the apostle himself; for when he 
comes to speak of judging the incestuous person for his sin, with a spiritual 
power, the power of the Lord Jesus, he makes that a settled government, 
' Do not ye judge them that are within ?' as they were a body to Christ. But 
when, in chap, vi., he speaks of taking up diiferences about things of this life, 
though he would have the saints do it among themselves by way of arbitra- 
tion, and not to carry it out of themselves (for the sake of avoiding scandal) 
to heathen magistrates ; yet this latter he doth found only on the common 
law ; it is not an ordinance, though it was Christ's will and command it 
should be in that case. Therefore he doth not bid them go to the elders to 
take up differences, or to the whole church, but he bids them take whom 
they would, the least saint, who is able to judge upon that common ground 
of ability, whereby one day they shall be able to judge the world. So that 
this latter was only occasional, and by way of arbitration, according to the 
law of nature ; whereas the other was a constant and settled government, 
and that invested with spiritual power supernatural, which the other is 

All the duties that are performed in a church, they are duties amongst all 
Christians by the common law of Christianity ; for by the law of love they 
are to instruct, to pray for, to reprove, to avoid, &c., as occasion is. But 
that all these should be performed in a public body of saints, gathered 
together, not occasionally but fixedly, and that special persons should have 
the power or part of the power committed to them, separated thereunto, and 
that it should be done in such and such an order ; all this both because of 
the constancy of it, of the electiveness of it, and the special power and effi- 


cacy that doth accompany it, over and above what is promised in an ordi- 
nary way to the common law of Christianity, must needs be an institution. 

So that whatsoever be the subject or the instrument in a constant and 
elective way of a supernatural power, or a supernatural administration, over 
and above what is common to all Christians, or societies of men, that 
power must be placed by institution, whoever hath it, or wherever it is. It 
is not a supernatm-al quality indeed, but it is a relative respect, whereby a 
company of men are called by God, and enabled unto a supernatural adminis- 
tration, which a special efficacy shall accompany ; and so by virtue of God's 
promise it is concomitantly a supernatural power, though not inherent. 

And yet it is not so to be understood as if that such a power should always, 
for the effect, have that efficacy that it is assigned to, for that is as God 
pleaseth. He works not as natural agents do, because God's promise to 
accompany his ordinances is in a free way ; as in preaching the word, though 
it is an ordinance, yet it had not always the effect, though Christ himself 
and the apostles preached it. It might always have an issue indeed one 
way or other, and be a means to condemn men, because they receive it not ; 
but it had not always that effect, for which it was more principally and 
directly appointed, as natural agents have. 

And so on the other side, we deny not but that admonitions and other 
means which run according to the law of the new creature and Christianity, 
which one saint is to perform to another, may have the like effects, through 
God's dispensation, that excommunication hath, to bind sin upon a man's 
conscience, give him up to Satan to terrify him, and the like ; even as God 
also may bless private instructions, yea, the private example of a private 
Christian, to convert an heathen ; yea, and that also when his own ordinance will 
not do it, 1 Peter ii. 12. But yet still church admonition and excommuni- 
cation is an ordinance in a special manner, which the other is not. So as 
because that God's power supernaturally must concur for the effecting of 
what it is ordained for ; hence, therefore, it must be seated where God would 
have it be, by a special institution, and not misplaced, or else he will not 
work in it and with it. If a man had stirred the waters, God would not have 
wrought ; or if Satan had done it, he would not have wrought ; but when 
the angel did it, he did, John v. 4. All such supernatural administrations 
they are limited. As the power is from God, so in whom this power should 
be is also from him and by his appointment. Though magistrates are the 
ordinance of God in this general respect, that it is his will and command 
that there should be magistrates, yet the power that God accompanieth 
magistrates withal in their administration, is not supernatural to those ends 
for which they are appointed, farther than in this proportion, as in general 
he hath appointed magistrates to be his vicegerents. And hence, therefore, 
what sort of magistrates to have, whether monarchial or aristocratical, of what 
extent their dominions shall be, and the like, is still left to men, because the 
power that the magistrate hath of any kind, it is indeed executively but the 
power of the people committed to him and betrusted to him, whose power he 
acts, so as what he pardons the people pardon, what he punisheth the people 
punish : the people's power is engaged in it ; and hence as Solomon saith, 
in the word of a king there is power, Eccles. viii. 4. Hence they are called 
human creations, though an ordinance of God, 1 Peter ii. 3, Rom. xiii. 1. 
But that supernatural ecclesiastical power that Jesus Christ doth appoint is 
not simply an ordinance that there should be ministers in the general that 
shall have this or that power, leaving it unto men to appoint what sort of 
ministers, whether in a way of monarchy or in a way of aristocracy, whether 
popes or bishops, &c. And so likewise as to the seat or relation over which 

Chap. II.] the churches of christ. 13 

these officers shall have power, and the extent of it. But these must be all 
divine creations and institutions, as the sort of magistrates and extent of 
commonwealths is a human creation. If the power that these did manage 
were immediately the power of men, or given to them by the church as that 
of magistrates is by the commonwealth, then indeed the several administra- 
tions might be appointed by men, and the bounds thereof set forth, for the 
power they have would be proportioned to the cause or rise of it. Magistrates, 
as they have their power thus from men by human creation, so the punish- 
ments that they inflict are but corporal punishments which the people that set 
them up can inflict. Indeed, rebellion against the lawful magistrate works 
damnation in the issue by consequence, because it is a sin against the gene- 
ral ordinance of God ; but yet it is but as any other sin brings damnation. 
But now in church power there is a special supernatural efficacy of God im- 
mediately accompanying it ; and therefore this power, as it can no way be 
delegated by the person or persons that have it, so as they should make any 
one vicars or substitutes to execute it for them, as the bishops do the chan- 
cellors, so also by the same ground it cannot be placed or seated but where 
Christ would have it by his commission. For if the persons that already 
have it from Christ cannot give it unto another than to whom Christ hath 
appointed, or to any other body or society than Christ hath appointed, and 
hath by institution placed it, then assuredly neither magistrates nor any com- 
pany of men whatsoever can place it but where he would have it. 

And surely for excommunication, of all other (if for any other ordinance) 
there must be an institution, and by whom it shall be administered in a cer- 
tain way defined, because of all ordinances it is the greatest. If, therefore, 
for preaching, who shall administer it, and where, thei'e is an institution, 
then certainly for this, for this is an act of mere authority. To preach is an 
act of gift also, and he that hath gifts may, for the materiality of preaching, 
perform all that a minister doth out of gifts ; but the act of delivering to 
Satan, and the act of throwing a man out, are acts of mere power ; do cast 
him out of all ordinances, and therefore of all ordinances they are the greatest ; 
and besides that, it is delivering to Satan with the power of Christ, which 
who can assume but those to whom Christ hath committed it ? It is to a 
spiritual end, and it is not therefore enough to say that if there be nothing 
in the word against it, but that these and these may excommunicate, that 
then they may do it ; no, there must be something in the word positive for 
it, and that limiteth it, and here placeth it. It will otherwise be a nullity for 
want of commission in the persons that do it. 

And if that excommunication were not so an institution as that also the 
sort of persons to whom it is to be performed should be by institution, and 
were not a delivering up to Satan also, then the magistrate could inflict it as 
well as the ministers of the church, for he can cast men out of such and such 
a society, and keep men from ordinances, as well as they. 

Hence excommunication being an ordinance depending wholly upon insti- 
tution, and that which makes ecclesiastical authority to be properly govern- 
ment and jurisdiction, lying in a power so to excommunicate, none may 
therefore take upon them to administer this ordinance without a special corn- 
mission and institution ; and in this hes the knot of the diflerence in the 

Prop. IV. God's institution must put an efficacy into all censures. 

Nothing in nature hath further perfection in it than God hath put into 
it ; therefore much more this holds in power ecclesiastical. Man cannot 
limit that power of ministry which he cannot give. All church censures, they 
are accompanied with a supernatural power, as the word of God is, which 


bath not in itself a power inherent to work without the Spirit accompany it. 
There is this difference between civil power and ecclesiastical ; tbat though 
God's power doth accompany the civil power of the magistrate because it is 
his ordinance, yet he doth not accompany the acts thereof supernaturally, but 
the power that accompanieth the magistrate's acts is the power of the people 
in whose name magistrates execute it ; and, therefore, if the magistrates be 
resisted, the whole people are obliged to back and strengthen him. But here 
now the ministerial power is ordained to convey a special supernatural 
efficacy from God, and ministers do work wholly in his power : ' The weapons 
of our warfare are mighty through Grod, having in us a readiness to revenge 
all disobedience,' 2 Cor. x. 4, 5, 6. As, therefore, if the powers of a king- 
dom are engaged in the sentence of any court, it must be because they have 
set it up and confined it, and given commission, and appointed who should 
execute it, so as if any should exercise a power further than they have ap- 
pointed, they were not engaged to back it : so nor will God also assist with 
.his power further than as he hath placed it, and where he hath placed it. 

Prop. V. That the constitution of churches is uniform, and of one kind 
and sort. 

All churches are of a like sort, and, for their constitution and government, 
are uniform ; 

Or else, 1, there should be a double constitution, one for the one sort, 
and the other for the other, and therefore a classical and congregational 
church, being two several sorts of churches in respect of their end, the one 
beinff for worship, the other for government ; the one a representative church 
(for so the elders in a dassis are), the other of the people, or consisting of 
people and elders both ; and being also truly several forms of churches in 
respect of government, as economical government differs from political and 
the like, they cannot both of them be by divine institution. 

Object. In the Jewish government both small towns and great had entire 


Arts. Therefore, therein lay their uniformity ; and whilst power was lodged 
only in the elders, and they kept court in the gate, it might be so, and the 
same order be preserved ; but it cannot be so here, when the people also are 
by institution taken in, and are to be present. 

2. When the apostle saith, ' So I ordain in all the churches,' 1 Cor. vii. 17, 
there could not be the same ordination of government and constitution unless 
there were an uniformity in these churches. 

3. Again, Christ writing to the churches of Asia in Rev. ii. and iii., he not 
only calls them seven candlesticks, as being of the same make, uniform, of 
the same parts, and the like ; but what he writes to one, he writes to all 
that were churches, concluding all his epistles thus, ' Hear what the Spirit 
saith to the churches,' which is all one with what is in Rev. xxii. 16, * I 
sent mine angel to testify these things in the churches.' 

4. And it is argued from that common type of the visible churches, which 
is shewn unto John, Rev. iv., as the form of the tabernacle was shewn unto 
Moses in the mount, where there are twenty-four elders, and four beasts, 
and the acts they do perform are principally worship, and therefore it is the 
form of congregational churches.* 

5. Of Thessalonica he saith, 1 Thes, ii. 14, ' That they became followers 
of the churches of God, which in Judea aVe in Christ Jesus.' If it had 
been meant only of following of them in matters of faith, in receiving of the 
gospel in the doctrine of it, as every particular Christian doth, he needed 
not have used the phrase, ' followers of the churches,' but of the church in 

* Parkerus de Polit. Eccles. lib. iii. 

Chap, III.] the churches of christ. 15 

Judea, if it had been spoken in respect as they were members of the visible 
church, visible professors of Christianity. He speaks it therefore, also, in 
reference to having received the gospel, and casting themselves, as a church, 
into the same form and constitution with those churches ; for by reason of 
their form and constitution they are called churches, as they are bodies 
gathered up for worship and government. 

6. For the confirmation of this, add that the institution cannot fall both 
upon congregational and classical ; but one would destroy the other if it 
were left arbitrary to take one or the other. 

7. As one baptism, one body, one faith, are in the church mystical, so 
one sort of body, as well as one baptism for kind, is instituted in the con- 
stitution of the churches of Christ. 


That Christ hath, hi/ his own institution, established the order, discipline, and 
government of his churches, proved by several arguments. 

As there is a distinction commonly made between discipline, and worship, 
and doctrine of the church, so such a distinction hath an apostolical stamp 
upon it for its warrant ; for materially we find it, though in other terms. 
Col. ii. 5, where by order among them he means that which we call dis- 
cipline, or ordering the administration or government of the church and 
worship ; and hj faith, that which we call doctrine, or the system of truths 
to be believed and practised, for so everywhere the word is used. And so 
in 1 Cor. xi. 34, having treated of matters pertaining to worship and dis- 
cipline, the administration of the Lord's supper, &c., he concludes, ' The 
rest will I set in order when I come.' So 1 Cor. xiv. 40, ' Let all be done 
decently,' which respects the outward circumstances, ' and according to 
order,' which respects those apostolical commands about matters of discipline 
and ordering, as he calls them, ver. 37, such as he had given in that chapter 
and at other times. Therefore, Titus i. 5, when writing to an evangelist 
about rectifying matters in Crete, and ordaining elders in every city, matters 
that concern discipline, he adds, ' as I had ordered thee, or given order to 
thee.' The word is the same in all these places. And by order, he means 
not simply their having all those principally instituted ordinances as are 
essential, as preaching the word, sacrament, and censure, and officers to 
administer these ; but all such rules as the apostles gave for the ordering 
and administering those ordinances right, many of which rules are more 
than mere external circumstances, and yet not principal ordinances, but 
directions to manage ordinances, as even those directions given about pro- 
phesying in that 1 Cor. xiv., that they should speak by course, and one at 
once, that the women should keep silence, &c., which yet are points of that 
order he would have them observe in their assemblies, ver. 40. And so in 
the Old Testament there was the like ufi«*'»e. As they had the ark, so they 
had direction how to carry it, 1 Ch'^^^AV. 2 ; none ought to carry the ark 
but the Levites, for them hath tLd Lord chosen ; and because they carried 
it in a cart, he tells them they sought not the Lord after the due order, 
ver. 13. Now for the demonstration of this, that the order of the churches 
of Christ is to be distinguished from their doctrine and worship ; — 

1. Consider, that very place itself even now cited for this distinction, doth, 
if viewed in the context of it, afford argument for this, the apostle delight- 
ing himself with a rare and worthy sight, worthy an apostle's joy : Col. ii. 5, 
' Though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I present with you in the spirit, 


joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.' 
Where by sj)irit, if his own mind and heart be meant, then the meaning is, 
that both those were estabhshed according to his own heart, as he an 
apostle led by the Holy Ghost would have them ; therefore he says he was 
present with them in liis spirit. Or if the Holy Ghost be meant more im- 
mediately, then the meaning is, that in respect of those, the same Spirit of 
Christ that dwelt in the apostle, and guided him in settling the church in 
both these, was present also with them in both faith and order, both being 
established and settled among, them according to the dictates of the Holy 
Ghost in the apostle ; and therefore he says, he was present with them in 
the Spirit, joying in a spiritual manner to behold both. So that the Colos- 
sians had all ordinances and officers, and all those ordinances managed by 
those officers amongst them, according to the directions the Holy Ghost 
had given. This was their order he rejoiceth in, as well as in their faith, 
and is in respect of both these present with them in spirit. And this being 
their present state in both, he exhorts them to continue therein, in those 
words, ' As ye therefore have received Christ the Lord, so walk ye in him,' 
ver. 6. He speaks in relation to both these, for his scope is to exhort them 
to persevere in what he had before commended them for, which hitherto 
they had held on in ; which was for their order, as well as faith, which the 
particle therefore implies, ' as ye have therefore received, so walk.' And as 
in their faith they had received Christ Jesus for their Saviour, so in sub- 
mitting to his orders and rules for their church government, they had re- 
ceived him for their Lord ; and to walk on in both as they had begun, he 
exhorts them. So that all churches, then, as they had received from the 
apostles the doctrine of faith, so directions for order too, and it was not left 
to their power, to their arbitrament, to innovate or alter in either, but to 
continue to walk as they had begun. 

And this further appears to have been his scope, because he prefaceth 
this commendation of their faith and order, that he might preserve them 
from the errors of some who went about to pervert them in both. Into the 
order of their worship there were those that would have obtruded Jewish 
rites and ceremonies, of abstinence from meats, and of holy days, and the 
Jewish Sabbath, ver. 16, and so a seeking God after the old order of the 
Jewish church. And into the doctrine of their faith there were some that 
would have introduced things they had not seen, ver. 18, by which doctrines 
they destroyed the foundation of their faith, not holding the head, ver. 19. 
Now, to settle them against these innovations, both in doctrine and rites, 
and against all whatsoever that might arise of the like kind, to the end of 
the world, he tells tbem that they were, in respect of that order and faith 
they had received Christ in, in him complete, ver. 10. He and his word 
was a sufficient director to them in both, and they needed neither to be 
beholden to human philosophy or policy, or any traditions of men, either to 
order their churches for them, otherwise than as Christ by his apostles had 
tanght, or to coin new doctrines, ver. 8. And because that, take them quel 
colentes, as worshippers in a church, they were dead with Christ from all 
rudiments of the world whatever, ver. 20, he wonders that any among them 
should be so seduced, and why as though living in the world they would be 
subject to ordinances human of what kind soever. Where he takes away 
the fairest pretence for such innovations as could be, that they, because men 
as well as others, lived in the world (the example of which is apt to mould 
men much to conform to their practices), and therefore they should take 
liberty to loose their orders in their church aftairs, to come the nearer to 
the model of worldly governments. Ay, but the apostle tells them that they 

Chap. III.] the churches of cheist. 17 

were worshippers in a church that held of Christ as their only Lord, they 
were of another world, and so ought not to subject themselves to any matters 
of order, as well as matters of faith in their church administrations, but 
what were purely from Christ. And in relation to both these (which he 
still carries in his eye), he useth two words, ver. 22, not to go after the 
commandments of men in matters of order, nor the doctrines of men in 
matters of faith (for still such new invented ways profit not the soul, but 
perish in the using), nor be deceived by the vain show of what wisdom so- 
ever appeared in either. And although the swervings and aberrations there 
mentioned from right order and faith were more gross than many of those 
amongst us, yet the arguments and exhortations the apostle useth (to pre- 
vent any of what sort soever for ever) are such as reach ours, and all other 
digressions from the right order and faith at first delivered by the apostle, 
and received by the apostolic churches ; and we are to reduce all to the 
word, we being complete in Christ for either. The like exhortation unto 
this (which further strengtheneth this) we have also Rom. xii. 1. 

2. I add to this, that there are in the books of the New Testament, written 
by the apostles, manifold particular directions and notes, purposely and pro- 
fessedly written to direct in the government of churches, and ordering the 
worship of them. Thus in the book of the Acts, which is an historical 
narration, and in the Epistles, there are divers and several passages scat- 
tered, which put together will rise up to a platform ; whereas for ordering of 
commonwealths there are only general rules, as to be sixbject to the higher 
powers, &c., but neither directions nor examples left or intimated how they 
are to be governed. Thus in 1 Tim. ii. he gives many directions about the 
public prayers of the church, as for their order, that they should be first 
made afore any other, that ' first of all prayers be made,' ver. 1. So for their 
kind, all sorts of prayers ; supplications, prayers, intercessions, &c. For 
their subject, for all men, kings, all in authority ; for the places of worship, 
not in places dedicated as holy with difiierence from others, as the temple was, 
but ' I will that prayers be made everywhere,' &c, ver. 8. For the carriage of 
women, that in the public assemblies they wear modest apparel, and not 
affect that splendour and costliness as elsewhere, ver. 9 ; and that they keep 
silence in all administrations whatever, ver. 10 ; and that they be not rulers 
nor teachers of the church, ver, 11. Then in chap. iii. he gives directions 
about officers ; their distinction, bishops and deacons ; their quahfications, 
when to be chosen. And chap, v., he adds many more of the like nature, 
both about officers and church censures. And what was the scope of all 
this ? Even to shew that the ordering and disposing of all such things are 
fixed somewhere or other in the writings of the apostles, and left as rules for 
us by apostolic authority. He accordingly, in the conclusion of all this, 
doth more strongly enforce his former directions : 1 Tim. iii. 14, 15, 'These 
things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly (and so not 
writing all that might be written now). But if I tarry long, that thou mayest 
know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the 
church of the living God.' He puts an emphasis upon the subject he was 
to converse in, ' the house of God, and the church of the living God ;' as if 
he had said, the house or family of God, and the ordering of it, requires an- 
other manner of skill than the societies of men. Timothy was an evangelist, 
whose office it was to perfect discipline and doctrine in the churches, which 
the apostles first planted ; and the evangelists received extraordinary gifts to 
that end, and such gifts as made them to exceed, in spiritual wisdom and 
spirit, all the bishops, yea, all the states in the world ; and yet it was not 



left unto their wisdom or arbitrament, to dispose or give such directions as 
these in church allairs and administrations ; but they were tied to the direc- 
tions of the apostles, under whom they were evangelists, and who were guided 
infallibly by the Spirit, that these evangelists might be guided by them to 
mould churches accordingly. Timothy's wisdom could not direct him herein, 
but he was to learn and know from Paul, ' That thou mayest know how to be- 
have thyself,' &c., 1 Tim. iii. 15. This is a skill then which depends upon 
apostolical revelation. And the directions were not so loosely given as they 
might vary from them, for Paul says even to Timothy, ' how thou oughtest 
to behave thyself,' as a matter of duty. Neither doth Paul only give general 
rules, which might help human wisdom in the ordinance of things, for many 
of the rules in that epistle are particular, and as express as may be, not only 
directing to the substantial parts of worship, but giving directions for the 
manner, as the word -roog, how, implies. Yea, and he makes these things 
part of that mystery of godliness, ver. 16, for which Christ was made manifest 
in the flesh, and ascended, as well as matters of doctrine ; and so they needed 
a revelation as well as the greatest truths of faith. And further, he insinu- 
ates the reason why he left these things in writing, because the Spirit fore- 
told that there should be an apostasy of the churches to popery in the latter 
times ; when there should be a perversion, as of the doctrine, so of the apos- 
tolical order and worship set up in the first churches, he instancing in some 
particulars for the rest, 1 Tim. iv. 1, which Daniel (whence he quotes it) 
instanceth in, Dan. xi. 36, 39. And so he writ these things, that the church 
might in after ages have a rule to restore all things to the primitive condi- 
tion again. 

The like we have delivered by Paul to Titus, another evangelist : Tit. i. 5, 
' For this cause (says he) left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order 
the things that are wanting ;' or, as the word in the original is, iTridiopduari, 
thoroughly set straight, or reduce to the right, things that were left unset 
right. And he instanceth in one matter of discipline for all the rest, ' and 
ordain elders in every city.' And how w^as he to order all things, and by 
what rule ? ug syu) (To/ diiTa^dfji.riv, as I ordered them to thee, or gave order. 
Evangelists were appointed for church discipline, as well as doctrine ; so 
Timothy you see was by the directions given him, and so Titus was, as 
appears by the following directions, and as the word 5/ararrw implies, for 
that signifies the ordering of matters aright. And he was to make an exact 
or thorough reformation, and to constitute things fully aright ; and all this 
not according to rules of general wisdom and discretion, but according to 
particular and express order from the apostle, * as I gave order to thee.' Now 
if the apostle gave particular orders for all these things then, and that to 
abler and wiser men than ever were to succeed in the church, and they 
needed them ; then if they have not left in their writings somewhere or other 
all the directions they gave to them by word of mouth, there had not been 
sufiicient provision made for us in these days, nor the succeeding churches 
in all ages, who know less how to behave ourselves in the church of God 
than they did. 

3. Add to this that so usually cited place, Heb. iii. 1-3, which comes 
fitly in to second this reason, and confirms it. As Moses is said to be faith- 
ful in all God's house, so Christ also both in God's and his own house ; as 
Moses was under the Old Testament, so Christ is under the New ; Moses 
was concerned in that old visible constituted church of the Jews (for so also. 
Acts vii. 38, it is called the church in the wilderness), and Christ in the new 
constituted assemblies of the gospel. Even in the language of that Epistle 
to the Hebrews, as well as in this to Timothy, these particular assemblies 

Chap. III.] the churches of christ. 19 

are called, with respect to Christ, his house, for, Heb. x. 21, the apostle 
there shewing that, as we have an high priest now as they had then, so an 
house of God now as then ; ' We having an high priest over the house of 
God ;' he infers from thence, that as we should draw near in worship as the 
priests did, having our consciences sprinkled, and our bodies washed with 
pure water (following the allusion of the worship in that old house), so we 
should go on with other duties of church fellowship ; as inferences from 
thence, and among others, he brings in this last, ' not forsaking the assemb- 
ling of ourselves together.''"' And his argument lies thus : as there was an 
high priest then, so now ; as a public worship then, so now ; and as an 
house of God, and assemblies then to exercise public worship in, over which 
the high priest was placed, so there must be such an house now ; which, be- 
cause they are not national, but parochial, therefore he expresseth them by 
the synagogues of the Jews. Now if such congregations be God's house 
appointed for his public worship under the New Testament, we needed par- 
ticular directions how to behave ourselves in this house of God, as much as 
the Jews of old did in that house which God built them for public worship ; 
as that place in Timothy shews, ' That thou mayest know how to behave 
thyself in the house of God,' 1 Tim. iii. 15. Yea, and Christ also hath 
been as faithful to God in directing us now, as Moses was. in ordering all 
things then, as this place in the Epistle to the Hebrews shews. Moses was 
faithful, as in giving a right platform of doctrine to that church, both of the 
law and gospel ; so in giving a perfect platform of discipline of the govern- 
ment of that church, and ordaining all things in the worship of it (' He made 
all things according to the pattern in the mount,' Exod. xxv. 40, Heb. 
viii. 5), therefore, so hath Christ done also. Faithfulness implies going 
exactly according to directions given, and Christ his faithfulness lay in giving 
out those directions to us his church. Neither is it only in matters of faith 
and manners ; for it is spoken of building Grod's house under the New Testa- 
ment, which is done by ministry, and the government of the church also, as 
well as by faith and manners ; for the building and edification of the church 
is as well by the ministry and officers of the church, Eph. iv. 12, and all the 
ordinances of it, 2 Cor. x. 4-6, as by the doctrine of faith and good manners. 
Neither is the comparison of Christ with Moses, as to giving rules for a 
commonwealth (and so this needs not be brought in for a disproportion), but 
as to the house of God only, in which Christ only did meddle, and refused to 
be a judge in other things. And herein, as Moses is said to be faithful, 'Ev 
o>.w rw or/.w, in the whole house ; that is, in every particular about it, a 
complete director of all things, in every room of it ; so must Christ be also 
in all sorts of things, that concerned it any way as an house to God, whether 
as mystical, in giving doctrines to build it, or visible and constituted, in giving 
discipline. He was faithful to God in the whole house ; that is, in every- 
thing wherein we are an house to God. Neither do we fetch an argument 
from the particulars of Christ and Moses ; but further, from the very reasons 
that the apostle here suggests. For, 

1. In reason says the apostle, ' E,very house is built by some man,' 
Heb. iii. 4. And for the building of it, there must be a platform, and 
direction in some man's head. A pattern there was for the tabernacle, and 
for Solomon's temple given by David, and that by the Spirit, as is warily 
put in, 1 Chron. xxviii. 12-14, and the faithfulness of him that is to build 
this house must lie in building it according to that pattern. Now this 
house of God, neither under the Old nor New Testament, could have man 
for its builder ; for no man hath either power to do it, nor skill to give the 

■* M?! lyxtCTCif ilrovn; t7,v iVKrvvayoiynv iKuraiv, Ilcb. X. 25. 


pattern ; therefore, ver. 3, he says, that Moses, and all the saints of the 
Old and New Testament, apostles and others, were, and are but a part of the 
house, and so could not give of themselves directions to build it. There- 
fore, as it is the house of God (both now and then), so God must be the 
master-builder, as then so now ; therefore, ver. 3, he both calleth Christ the 
builder of his house, in those words, ' he that built the house' ; and adds, 
ver. 4, that whereas men build every other house, he that built this house 
is God, ' but he that built all things is God.' Men love to have the contrivance 
of their houses to be drawn by themselves, and are as curious in it to please 
themselves, as in any other thing ; and so Christ likewise. 

2. To build and give directions for the building of God's church, as unto 
Moses was given, he makes a matter of honour and prerogative due only to 
God and Christ, and shall man arrogate it ? Ver. 3, ' This man (meaning 
Christ) was counted worthy of more glory than Moses was, inasmuch as he 
who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.' Under 
the word building, he includes giving the pattern, for Moses was but faith- 
ful in doing then according to the master builder's direction. Therefore, to 
give but such kind of directions for the building and ordering God's house 
under the New Testament, as Moses by direction gave under the Old, about 
church officers, &c., if men should undertake it, would be to assume the 
glory of that wisdom that is due only to Christ. It was the masterpiece 
wherein Solomon's wisdom (Christ's type) is said to have been shewn : 
2 Chron. ix. 3-5, ' When the Queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solo- 
mon, and the house that he had built, the meat of his table, attendance of 
his servants, and so the rest of the ordering of his house, she professeth 
she had not heard the one half of the greatness of his wisdom.' And cer- 
tainly in God's house, which he hath built for his glory, much more of his 
wisdom is expected. And if God, who built that old house of the Jewish 
church, shewed his own wisdom in the exact particular directions about it, 
surely in this new house of the New Testament, which in true glory is to 
exceed that other, and which is built for the glory of his wisdom, as well as 
the former, he hath displayed the like, or else he hath imparted the honour 
to men under the gospel in the framing this better house, which he accounted 
part of his glory, and so reserved it to himself under the Old. 

So that, to sum up this, the apostle doth here at once exclude both men's 
hands and skill from the building of any of God's house, both because it is 
God's house, and themselves but part of this house. And is it not as absurd 
for all men and angels to take on them to direct (otherwise than by direc- 
tion first given) how any of God's house should be made and built, as it were 
for any part of the house to give order for the rest ? It is as much as for the 
clay to say to the potter. Why hast thou made me thus ? Is it fit for the 
whole house, or any part of it, to say. Make me this house thus ? Who 
shall give Christ a pattern of any house he hath promised to dwell in ? Who 
hath been his counsellor ? Men love to have the contriving their houses 
themselves, and are as curious in it to please themselves, as in any other 
thing ; so is Christ. And the apostle withal expressly affirmeth, on the 
contrary, that all things in this house are to be built by God, for so I 
understand ra rtdvra, he that built all them thiu(js is God, all those things 
that belong to this house, which was the thing he was speaking of. So as 
Christ, not as a servant as Moses was, but as being God, built this house, 
and all things in it, and yet according to a pattern, in respect of which he is 
said to be faithful. 

We shall annex to these scriptures but one reason for the confirmation 
hereof, which is this, that if the Scripture hath condescended to set down a 

Chap. III.] the chueches of christ. 21 

multitude of particular directions, either in examples, or in more express 
rales, about the ordering of government and worship, whereof some are in 
appearance of but small importance, and might seem to be left to discretion 
(as that every man should lay aside, as God hath blessed him, on the first 
day of the week, rather than on another day, &c., 1 Cor. xvi. 2), that 
then the word hath left a full and complete direction, as to matters of greater 
importance. The strength of the consequence, viz., that if the New Testa- 
ment hath given particular directions for many things, then for all of like 
nature, appears by this. 

1. Because the word of God is perfect in whatever it meddles with. If it 
had not meddled at all with church matters, but only given in general rules, 
then indeed no complete pattern could have been pleaded for ; but having, 
to our view, set out so many pieces of this building, for any man to say, 
Christ hath left other things of like nature and use unto general rule, is to 
argue the Scriptures to be guilty of imperfection, whereas Paul writing to 
Timothy an evangelist, about matters of church government (which was one 
main part of an evangelist's office, and one main argument of his epistles to 
him before), says, the word of God was given to make the man of God per- 
fect, 2 Tim. iii. 17. 

2. A divine wisdom of God being manifest in these directions in view thus 
given, which man's wisdom in the like must not presume to imitate or come 
near, if God should have given some directions, and left to man's wisdom 
other of the same kind and use, in this man's wisdom had been made equal 
to God's, in matters of this nature. 

3. Those many directions and appointments God hath given, have a 
supernatural efficacy and blessing in them, because they are his institutions 
over and above what is in the dictates of nature, or what reason can invent. 
Now if it were left to man to add the like out of his own wisdom, to the 
like uses in the government of the church, then man must be supposed to 
have the power or promise from God, to have his ordinances accompanied 
with the like supernatural efficacy. All God's institutions have for their 
object, men's souls and consciences ; so the dispensers of ordinances, the 
ministers, and therefore likewise the things dispensed : ' Obey them that 
rule over you, for they watch for your souls,' Heb. xiii. 17. And then for 
their end, they are to be for the edification of men's souls, and to convey the 
Spirit, 1 Cor. xii. 5, 7, and therefore are wholly supernatural and spiritual. 
And the ministers, which are to be the means to efi'ect those ends, should 
therefore not be left to the arbitration of natural reason or human wisdom, 
though never so much elevated, as the ordering of a family or commonwealth 
is, which have for their immediate object but men's bodies and estates, and 
for their immediate end but men's natural and civil good. But if the end 
of church ordinances be supernatui'al in an immediate way, then all the 
means should be supernatural also in their appointment and institution ; 
for between the end and the means there must be a proportion, nothing 
being enabled to a spiritual effect that hath not a supernatural and spiritual 
original. We could not tell how to imagine or expect that God would 
accompany such media or means, of what kind or rank soever, as the wisdom 
of man invents, with such a power. And, therefore, the apostle speaking 
of all means spiritual (and by a metaphor calling these things weapons, 
which logicians call instruments or means), opposeth these two : 2 Cor. 
X. 4, ' The weapons of our warfare are not carnal (or human), but mighty 
through God ;' and by that negation insinuates, that they must be spiritual 
in their rise, if mighty in their working. It is as proper to the Holy Ghost 
to sanctify any thing to a spiritual end, as it is for God the Father to create. 


or the Son to redeem; and, therefore, for man to appoint any thin^ to a 
spiritual end, is as derogatory to the Holy Ghost iu his work, as the hke 
would be to the other persons in theirs. 

4. It was expressly forbidden for man to go about to make anything of 
his invention hke unto God's, not like oil, not hke days, not like-posts to 
God's ; and, therefore, much more it is prohibited, that man should frame 
like institutions for the order and government of the churches under the 


What power spiritual or ecclesiastical is. — Of the nature of a divine institution. 
— How the knowledge of divine institutions is derived to us, that we may he 
assured ivhat are truly and, really such. 

Power spiritual is an impress of, or an investiture with, the authority of 
Christ, merely out of his will, whereby men are authorised and enabled by 
commission from Christ, and in his name, to do that which others cannot do ; 
and by virtue of which what they so do hath a special efficacy in it from 
the power of Christ, seconding and accompanying of it ; which also the con- 
science acknowledging subjects itself to, as unto the power of Christ, for the 
sake of his will and institution. 

An institution is that which is merely founded upon God's will, raising up 
a thing beyond its own natural or moral efficacy, with an efficacy beyond if. 
As for men to humble themselves is a moral duty ; but that God should 
appoint and set apart a whole day for them to do it with fasting, and so 
have a blessing therefrom, this is beyond the nature of the thing, and is 
therefore an institution. The trumpets in the wars, they had a natural effi- 
cacy to encourage ; but that the priests should blow trumpets when the people 
of Israel went to war, had a blessing beyond the natural efficacy of the thing ; 
therefore those persons were appointed to do it. To hear the word, it is a 
duty we owe to God, as we are men, whomsoever he shall appoint to preach 
it to us, whether he should speak it himself or by others ; but that he should 
appoint men rather than angels, or rather than speak himself, that he should 
single out some men for that office, and put a special efficacy upon them as 
sent by him, this is to raise up what hath a natural and common efficacy in 
it, beyond the nature of the thing ; and as it dependeth merely upon his 
will, so it hath a special institution in it, because of a special efficacy accom- 
panying it. 

Institutions are not only express commands in the letter of them ; for 
examples and promises, hints and implicit intimations, may hold forth the 
will of Christ. Neither is everything that is the will and command of Christ 
an institution ; but it must be judged to be distinguished from other com- 
mands by the matter of it. If anything be taken out from the course of 
nature, from the course of God's providence, or from the common law of 
nature, and be peculiarly raised up above other things of its rank, to have a 
special force and efficacy in it ; then if the will of Christ be declaimed con- 
cerning such a thing, it is peculiarly an institution, although other things be 
commanded as well as it. That bread and wine should signify and convey 
to us the body and blood of Christ, this is by special institution, because it 
is beyond the nature of the thing ; it depends only upon God's will, to have 
chosen these elements to do it rather than others ; and so they have a spe- 
cial efficacy in them. But to have the death of Christ set forth by way of 

Chap. IY,] the churches of christ. 23 

preaching, that is not an institution simply as such ; but that there should 
a peculiar blessing go along with the apostles in preaching, or with evange- 
lists, or with the ministers, this depends upon God's will, for he might have 
chosen others. A butcher or any man could have killed the sacrifices, as 
well as the priests, or any of the tribes of Israel could have done it ; but 
God singles out the tribe of Levi, separates them to this work. To give 
alms to men as men, is the command of God: 'Do good unto all,' Gal. vi. 10; 
but this is not an institution, because founded also upon a common ground. 
To give alms to saints is founded also upon the like ground, analogous to 
the other, if to men as men, then especially to saints as saints ; but to make 
collections in the church where God is worshipped, here it becometh a sacri- 
fice ; and then to make this collection upon the first day of the week rather 
than upon another, this must needs be an institution. So that oftentimes 
God doth take such things as are prescribed by the law of nature, and such 
things as are commanded upon other common grounds, and yet annexeth 
some special and peculiar stamp of his own will upon them, as they are done 
thus and thus, or by such and such. Hence is the distinction that our 
divines give upon the first and second commandment : that as there is cult.ioi 
naturaUs in them, as to fear Grod, and to love him, obey him, to hear his 
word, &c., so also there is cultiis institntus, which is the substance of the 
second commandment. So also there are means of edification which are 
providential, and so occasionally will serve : if a man should walk in a church- 
yard and see a death's-head, it might put him in mind of death ; but for a 
man to set up a death's-head in his study, continually to do it, this were the 
imitation of an institution. If a man went forth and heard a lark sing in 
this providential way, it might stir up his mind to think of God or heaven ; 
or if a man hears music, it may do the like ; but to keep a lark in cage on 
purpose, that when it sings my mind should be stirred up, or to have music 
on purpose to stir up the mind in a constant settled way, this were to make 
it as an institution, as in the temple it was, when music was there used. 
So as the constant setting apart of such a thing for such an end (though 
providentially and occasionally it may serve for such an end), riseth up to 
an institution also. 

We come now to consider the ways whereby institutions are delivered unto 
us by Christ, or made known to us. Institutions are but the will of Christ, 
declared concerning such things as are exercised above the common nature 
of them, to a further spiritual end. Therefore the declaring the will of God 
about them, holds in common with the declaration of God's will in other 
commands. It doth difier only in the matter, that the matter of institutions 
are such things as are exercised above the common nature to some spiritual 
end and efiicacy. In the delivery of these, Jesus Christ is as faithful as 
Moses was, though he hath not delivered them in the New Testament, in 
written Scriptux'e, as in a body of laws formed up by themselves as Moses 
did ; with express positive directions, by way of command, as the law of 
Moses is given. There is a double reason of it. 

1. Because the Jews they needed much more express holdings forth of all 
their laws, because they were in the infancy of the church ; therefore God 
dealt with them accordingly, in giving here a line, and there a line, and it 
was necessary to that state ; and yet, even their system of laws is in many 
things obscure. There are many cases which the rabbins make in the inter- 
pretation of the ceremonial law, which have a great deal of difficulty in 

2. But the chief reason is this : because (as was hinted afore) Moses his 
law was given to a church and nation formed up, and that by writing from 


the first. But the apostles did not so ; they dehvered these rules to the 
churches by way of tradition, 1 Cor. xi. 1. They converted men by preach- 
ing, and formed up churches, and settled government and order amongst 
them, as well as faith. And it was the pleasure and mind of the Holy Ghost 
to leave to posterity those rules which the apostles expressly gave out to 
churches then by word of mouth, to leave them, I say, to posterity in writ- 
ing, by hinting what practices were in churches, recorded in the Epistles and 
in the Acts ; so as what was delivered to them in a way of command posi- 
tively, is traduced to us by way of example, how churches were then governed.* 
Therefore, suitably the apostle saith, ' we have no such custom, nor the 
churches of God,' 1 Cor. xi. 16. And those customs of the churches were 
traduced and derived down to us ; and unto this day, the vestigia of them 
all hath (though with superadditions and perversions) remained in the 
church of Rome ; so as we have both the hints and practices of the primi- 
tive times, and also those footsteps remaining in the churches to this day. 

1. Now, such institutions as those, they are sometimes delivered to us in 
promises, and we may gather them by the promises that are made to things 
above their natural efficacy. And when we find such promises, although we 
have it not in express letter, You shall do thus or thus ; yet to such things 
as we find promises made, which are above the natural efficacy of them, we 
may warrantably argue their institution ; as for the sentence the church 
shall give, the promise being, ' whose sins you bind on earth shall be bound 
in heaven,' Mat. xviii. 18, John xx. 23, which is beyond the efficacy of the 
sentence of men upon earth, this evidently argueth a church, and their sen- 
tence, to be by institution. And so also when Christ sailh, ' Where two or 
three are gathered together in my name, I will be in the midst of them,' 
Mat. xviii. 20, this implies that the gathering together in his name is an 
institution, for there is a special promise of his being in the midst of them ; 
and this being spoken upon occasion of his mentioning a church, is evidently, 
therefore, the institution of a church. 

Ohj. If you will make everything a promise is made to, to be an institu- 
tion, we shall then have too many institutions. 

Ans. We do not make everything a promise is made to an institution. 
Promises are made to the people of God, but institutions are in this case to 
be distinguished from all things else by the matter. However, promises are 
the declaration of God's will, be they made to what things soever ; and if 
they fall upon such things as are raised up above natural and common effi- 
cacy, with promise of a supernatural power to accompany them, then they 
are institutions. If that promises be made to any action, as, to ' honour thy 
father and mother, that thy days may be long,' &c., then that action is a 
duty, although there were no commandment for it, only it is not an institu- 
tion, because there is not a supernatural spiritual efficacy put upon it. So, 
if promises be made to the people of God, the people of God be not an 
institution indeed, but it argues that they are the people of God : it doth 
separate them from the rest of the world ; but if it falleth upon actions, or 
things, or persons raising them up to have a spiritual efficacy unto others 
above their natures, then it is an institution. 

2. These institutions are sometimes declared by implicit .directions, as 
when the apostle saith, ' Do not ye judge them that are within ?' 1 Cor. v. 12, 

* It were a good project to add in every particular how that tliere is no particular 
that we stand for, but there is a vestigium of it left in some of those churches, and to 
give instances still all along of all the particulars, and so as to prove every one first 
by Scripture ; 2, by consonancy to spiritual reason ; and, 8, by the opinion of the 
reformed churches, &c. ; so, 4, by the footsteps of them in all churches. 

Chap. IV.] the chueches of cheist. 


that is, Have not you power amongst you ? It is but an implicit institu- 
tion, but it holds forth that there had been an institution and commission of 
power given them ; he takes it for granted ; and so the like should be amongst 
us. So when he saith to the Corinthians also, ' When ye are gathered toge- 
ther, deliver such an one to Satan,' 1 Cor. v. 3-5, making it their sin that 
they did not, it implies there was therefore a law that had been given them, 
or else there had been no transgression. Thus, by the same kind of arguing, 
we find a promise in Scripture to be argued even out of a threatening ; so 
Heb. iv. 5, ' If they shall enter into my rest.' Hence the apostle argues 
' some shall enter in.' 

3. When there is a commission of power given, there is a declared insti- 
tution, as in those words, ' What you bind shall be bound, go and teach all 
nations ;' therefore there is an institution of a church in Mat. xviii. 18-20, 
for there is a commission given to bind. And if apostolical power be an in- 
stitution by virtue of that in John xx. 23, ' Whose sins ye remit are remitted,' 
&c., then here also, by virtue of these words, ' If thy brother oficnd, tell the 
church,' ' If thou wilt circumcise thyself and thy seed, I will bless thee' ; ' Obey 
them that watch over your souls,' there is an institution ; for it doth not 
only hold that every Christian should obey the minister he is under, but 
that he should be under his ministry, and that the minister should w^atch 
over him. 

4. There are virtual institutions as well as formal ; for the consequence 
which argues God's will, be it in one thing as well as in another, is as truly 
the word as in the express letter of it. So many points of doctrine are 
demonstrated, as the case of the resurrection of Christ the third day, and 
Jesus Christ's proof of the resurrection, by the instance of God's being the 
God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ; and as one truth may be gathered out 
of another, so one institution may be gathered out of another, for they are 
both but the declarations of God's will. And if there be a necessaryconse- 
quence, that if there be such an institution there must be likewise this, that 
It is God's will that such a thing must be, then that is to be taken for an 
institution also. 

When, therefore, many things that God hath instituted, being put altoge- 
ther, do necessarily infer something else, then that also in an institution. 
As if that God hath appointed officers and overseers, limited to a flock by a 
special relation, over whom God hath made them overseers, then that there 
should be a flock, and that that flock should have its bounds which they 
have relation to, must be by institution also. If when they are gathered 
together they must deliver to Satan, and they must gather together to ex- 
communicate and dehver to Satan, and this delivering to Satan be by institu- 
tion, then their meeting also. As the conclusion is rightly fetched out of a 
major and minor, so if there be several particulars which, put together, sup- 
poseth some fourth or fifth thing, then God hath instituted that thing ; if it 
be such as is not necessarily in nature, but dependeth upon the institution 
of his will. As if he hath commanded men to assemble and meet, to tarry 
one for another till they meet, and that if any of them sin they should cast 
them out, and that their power reacheth to them that are within, this ne- 
cessai'ily implies that this company thus meeting are a church by institution 
in relation to such meetings. If a king did write to a town to do all such 
things as an incorporate town useth to do, if such and such offences fall out 
amongst them to judge them that are within, would not this be evidently a 
charter to them to make them an incorporate town ? As lords are made 
lords being called up by a writ, so here ; therefore all such directions as we 
find iu the epistles, as in 1 Cor. v., to do thus and thus, implies them to 


be incorporate bodies, which incorporation depends as much upon God's 
will as the acts themselves which they are to do being so incorporated do. 

And perhaps the synagogues under the Old Testament, though we do not 
read when they were instituted by express command or law, as for making 
of the temple and the like there is, yet was derived out of the general 
charter for their meetings in the temple, and every seventh year to read the 
word, as less leases are by parcels made out of a greater lease ; and so they 
were by institution consequentially. 

5. Institutions are made known by prophecies in the Old Testament con- 
cerning the times of the gospel. As that upon every assembly there should be 
a cloud, that the day of Christ's resurrection should be the Christian Sabbath, 
' This is the day that the Lord hath made,' Ps. cxviii. 24. Or appointed by pro- 
phecy ; he had said, ' To-day, if ye will hear his voice,' in another psalm, and if 
not, that they should not enter into his rest, and this in Heb. iv. 3, 4 is by the 
apostle made an institution of the Christian Sabbath. He hath appointed, 
saith the apostle, another day, in opposition to the seventh da}^ which he had 
spoken of in the 5th and Gth verses; so Clement answerably in his epistle, speak- 
ing of the institution of the offices of bishops and deacons, quoteth the prophecy 
in Isa. Ix. 17 out of the Septuagint, as then it was ; neither, saith he, is 
this a new institution, but many years afore it was thus written of bishops 
and deacons. So also in the applying of types, we may discover what is 
an institution of God, but then we must find them so applied.-'' If we find 
them warrantably applied by the Holy Ghost in the New Testament, or by 
prophecy in the Old (for the signification of a type it is by the Holy Ghost, 
as in Heb. ix. 8, ' the Holy Ghost thus signifying'), we may infer an institu- 
tion from them. So when it is said in Isa. Ixvi. 21, I will take of them for 
priests and for Levites, it implies that there should be these two ranks and 
sorts of officers in the New Testament, answerable to those two in the Old, 
for ordinarj"^ officers, as indeed there are, viz., bishops and deacons. 

6. We may be assured what is of divine institution by parallel reason 
between things of a kind and of a like nature ; as, for example, God having 
appointed baptism a sacrament, and the Lord's supper a sacrament, these 
being things of a kind. If he hath bidden and appointed ministers by insti- 
tution to baptize, the reason is good that therefore they should have power 
to administer the Lord's supper, although there is no instance in Scripture 
for it ; so if he have given them power to be the mouth of God in preaching 
to the people, then also that they should be the mouth of the people to God 
in prayer, we finding that public prayer is appointed as well as preaching, 
although we have not one instance in the New Testament that the officers 
of the church did perform public prayer. So also God hath appointed 
deacons, and he hath appointed elders ; he hath appointed deacons to be 
set up by choice, and the elders to be set up by choice. We find that 
the people did choose their deacons ; we warrantably argue therefore they 
may choose their elders. In things that are thus of a like reason, we 
argue from one to the other in other cases, as, for instance (since to us 
Christians it is not the judicial and ceremonial, but the moral law which is 
obligatory), how do we know, and why do we take the Levitical law for 
degrees prohibited in marriage ? Lev. xviii. Because we find in 1 Cor. v. 1 
one of those degrees forbidden in the New Testament, viz. for one to have 
his father's wife ; and therefore all the rest, although we have no warrant in 

Ka) TOVTO oh xaivus' ix yao d>i rroXxZv ^^ovav lyiy^a.'TrTo "jri^i i-ttktk'ovuv, xa) ^ii/.xivuv. 
ouTco; ya^ -ttou Xiyn ri ypaiph, K(x.TaffTri(riii to'j; l'7i'i(7xoTotj; auraiv iv oixaioiT'Jv/i, xcci rrov; ^laxovovs 
aurav iv ■TTiffrii Clem, epist. ad Corinth, p. 55; edit. Fatr. Juiiii. Oxon. 1G33. 

Chap. IV.] the chukches of chkist. 27 

Scripture for every particular degree. Also in that law the letter of it only 
forbiddeth the aunt to marry the nephew, the popish divines have argued 
that yet it is lawful for the uncle to marry the niece ; whereas, on the con- 
trary, by a parity of reason it is unlawful, for it is all of a like kind, as the 
same way from Thebes to Athens that is from Athens to Thebes ; the one 
therefore being forbidden to marry because they arc nigh akiu, since the 
other is of as nigh akin, therefore the law holds in the one as well as in the 
other. So under the New Testament we have days of fasting set apart as well 
as in the Old, for the same moral grounds, but we have no one instance of a 
day of thanksgiving in the New Testament ; but these being parallel ordi- 
nances (for as thanksgiving and humbling of a man's self before God for sin 
are parallel duties, so to have a day of thanksgiving and a day of fasting are 
parallel ordinances), therefore since we find the one in the New Testament, 
and find both in the Old, we may argue the other from this one. But then, 
that we may argue rightly, the things must be collateral, and of a kind, as 
the Lord's supper and baptism are both sacraments, elders and deacons are 
both officers of the church ; they are things co-ordinate, ejmdem orcUnis, and 
so we may argue from one to the other in things that may be supposed 
common to both, and is not upon a peculiar reason restrained to one. But 
otherwise for things that are subordinate, as we may call them, and of an- 
other kind, there i^rtr ratio will not make an institution, for then it is not 
par ratio, because it is not inter paria, or things co-ordinate. As we can by 
no means infer that because God hath set up an office of elders superior to 
that of deacons, because he hath set up the office of pastors and teachers 
superior to that of ruling elders, that therefore upon a pretended necessity we 
may set up an office over all these elders, as the ancient times did a bishop. 
And so neither will it follow that because God hath set up a court in a par- 
ticular church to correct offending brethren, by delivering up to Satan, that 
therefore they may set up an higher court in like manner to correct churches 
by excommunicating them. These are not things of the same order, but they 
are things of superiority and inferiority. Though we may argue in the judi- 
cial law, that if the aunt may not marry the nephew, likewise the uncle may 
not marry the niece, because they are things of the same order, yet we must 
not now go and make a new degree forbidden ; as is the case betwixt our 
brethren and us in the Presbyterian controversy. Reason will help us to 
apply the same things in things collateral, but not to institute and set up 
things anew. 

Concerning the use of man's reason in this point about institutions, we 
only say this, that man's reason may, by way of interpretation, find out what 
God hath set up, but it cannot proceed further. Men mistake in thinking 
that if God hath set up this, that therefore they may by like reason set up 
another thing ; as because that God hath made set forms of prayer, that there- 
fore men may ; or as because that God did deliver the Scriptures to be read, 
therefore men may appoint sermons to be read. For in so doing man's 
reason becometh a judge, and takes on him God's authority, in* inventing and 
authorising this, as God hath done another thing, whereas we should be con- 
tent with God's means that he hath appointed ; but in the other, man's reason 
is only but as a witness, that applies a thing according to what by reason he 
gathers God's mind to be. And there is this difference between doctrinal 
truths and institutions, that one truth may be by reason better fetched out of 
another, and more safely and easily than institutions. For one truth begets 
another, and truth is infinite in the consequences of it, but so institutions are 
not. And the reason of the difference is this, because they depend upon a 
promise, and upon the power and will of God immediately to concur with 


them, and set them up. They are things that are singled out by the will of 
God to a spiritual end, with a spiritual efficacy. 

7. We may be assured what is an institution of God, by examples which 
we meet with in the Scriptures. For one way by which Christ was pleased 
to convey his institutions to us, is by way of examples in the New Testament, 
without the which, being intended as a rule for us, we acknowledge, that a 
complete rule for all things could not be made forth. We shall therefore 
endeavour to give reason and demonstration, that the example of the prac- 
tices of the primitive churches are to be taken as rules to us. It is true 
indeed examples then bind not, when the story is so written as there may be 
a supposition of error in the example, as the story of the lives of the patriarchs 
is. And also those examples bind not which we find expressly contradicted 
by a law, or which we find blamed, as that of Peter dissembling, Gal. ii. 11 ; 
and that of John's worshipping the angel, Kev. xix. 10. These are not rules. 
But if an example be written as a rule, then it will bind, because there is no 
supposition of error. But the apostles' ways in churches, and ordering of 
them, yea, and of the churches erected by them, are propounded and pro- 
fessed to be recorded as patterns and rules to us. Neither needs there a 
particular warrant to make every one a rule, whilst the general one that pro- 
pounds all to be such will sanctify all. I shall first prove my assertion, and 
then shew the reasonableness of it that it should be so. 

1. My first proof is from comparing the commission Christ gave his apostles 
at his ascending. Mat. xxviii. 20, with the Book of the Acts, the title and 
preface to it, and matter in it. In Mat. xxviii. 20, this is the commission 
he gave to his apostles considered as common persons, as the last clause 
argues, ' Lo, I am with you, to the end of the world.' His commission is, 
that they should teach those that were converted to observe whatever he had 
commanded them. For the matter of the doctrine of the gospel, what they 
should preach, he had given commission for that in the verse afore, ver. 19, 
' Go, teach all nations ;' which Mark interprets, chap. xvi. 15, ' Go, preach 
the gospel to every creature,' that is, as to matters of faith, what they are to 
believe ; for it follows, ver. 16, ' He that believes shall be saved.' But for 
matter of evangelical pract'ces, what Christians are to do and to observe by 
special command from Christ, that injunction he gives in a distinction from 
the other, ver. 20 ; he speaks of matters of practice, as the word tti^bTv, 
observe, implies. And their commission is precisely limited unto what 
Christ had commanded ; he gives them no authority to impose and cause 
them to observe any other thing in practice but what he commanded ; they 
went beyond their commission if they did. For matters of practice and 
observancy, apostles are to meddle with nothing else but Christ's commands; 
and they are enjoined to teach men to observe all that Christ commanded. 
Now, the story of the Acts relating what was observed and practised by the 
churches founded by the apostles, and so in the Epistles, they giving many 
hints what were the observations and orders of churches, we finding these, 
and gathei'ing them into a body together, cannot look otherwise upon them 
than as practices taught them by the apostles ; and if so, then no other than 
what Christ commanded. Observations of churches recorded, not blamed, 
we take to be directions from the apostles, and to that end written ; and 
directions of the apostles we may safely take to be commands of Christ, as 
well in matters to be done as to be believed. This gives us a general ground 
to argue from examples of the apostolical churches. 

2. But, secondly, when we find the book of the Acts to contain many prac- 
tices in and about churches, and the officers of them, recorded but by way of 
story, and hints of examples to shew us what was the order of churches in 

Chap. IV.] the churches of christ. 29 

the apostles' times, we may be well assured that these were written on pur- 
pose to shew what the apostles, taught them from Christ to observe; which 
we gather from all these things laid together. 

(1.) From the professed title of the Book of the Acts, which, as those titles 
to the Psalms, hath ever been acknowledged part of canonical Scripture. It 
is entitled The Acts or Tlpd^sig, practices, of the Apostles. That book con- 
tains much of their doctrine, and yet it is not entitled the doctrine of the 
apostles, but their practices. And it contains mostly the story of one apostle, 
Paul ; and yet because his ordering and settling churches (as we shall anon 
observe) was by the same rule that the other apostles all went by, it is called 
The Acts of the Apostles, on purpose to consign and give warrant unto those 
practices as apostolical. Yea, also, though many things ai'e the practices in 
churches themselves, and of the elders and brethren of them, yet they are 
called The Acts of the Apostles, because even those practices of churches 
were guided by the apostles, and so they are called their acts ; and they 
taught them but to observe what Christ commanded. 

(2.) Then, secondly, after Luke had given it this title, see further what his 
preface is, which further declares this to have been the scope and drift of it. 
He connects it with the story of Christ in the Gospel, as passing from all 
that Jesus began both to do and teach, ver. 1, from his example and doc- 
trine, unto what the apostles did do, and what they did teach churches to 
observe by commandment from Christ ; therefore he makes mention of the 
commands that Christ by the Spirit had given them unto the day he was 
taken up, ver. 2. All which commandments, and those especially which 
pertained to his kingdom and government of his church on earth, he re- 
newed after his resurrection, speaking, says he, by the space of forty days 
of the things of the kingdom of God, ver. 3. The meaning of which both 
title and preface, and connecting it with the story of the evangelists, is evi- 
dently this, that these apostles being thus thoroughly furnished with com- 
mands from Christ, and especially about the things of his kingdom, in 
governing his saints (all which, whenas he was about to ascend, he gave in 
charge, as the evangelist Matthew tells us), that therefore they should teach 
those whom they converted to observe them ; and that done, you have the 
story declaring the practices of the churches they reared, and the ways of 
the apostles in them, and both as such as were according to these com- 
mands of Christ given them, which he therefore mentions in the preface to 
give a countenance to them as rules. And the language of it is as if he had 
said, you shall know what those special commands pertaining to the king- 
dom of God, and which they taught the churches to observe, were, by their 
ways and practices here recorded, and mentioned as practised in the first 
churches. What reader, observing that charge in Matthew, given by Christ 
at his ascension, with the title of, and the preface to this book of the Acts, but 
will acknowledge all the story of all the practices here recorded to be Scrip- 
ture, written for our admonition, and think this to be the scope and intent 
of them ? So that although we have not a particular warrant annexed to 
every example here to make it a rule, yet we have this general, which if it 
make out this, that they are written to let us see the commandments of 
Christ in the apostles' practices, it is enough. 

(3.) Then add to this, thirdly, that the practices here recorded of the 
apostles in the first churches of Judea, were settled generally in other 
churches of the Gentiles also, who yet varied in language, in fashion, and 
manners, and government civil. They ordain deacons in the church of 
Jerusalem, Acts vi., and elders, we read, mentioned chap. xi. 30, which are 
mentioned but historically ; and yet we read of the same kind of officers, 


deacons and elders, in other clmrclies of the Gentiles ; at Philippi, Philip, i. 1, 
and in many other churches mentioned in the Acts. Yea, and we find the same 
practices and officers, &c., in the churches of the Gentiles settled by Paul, that 
was converted and made an apostle many years after the other, and who 
learned not the gospel, nor any part of it, from the apostles or the churches 
of Judea, but had it by revelation of Jesus Christ, as himself says. Gal. i. 17, 
he immediately conferred not with flesh and blood, that is, with no man. 
' Yea, I came not to Jerusalem (says he) to them which were apostles afore 
me, ver. 17 ; but I went into Arabia, and returned again into Damascus ; 
and then after three years I came again unto Jerusalem to visit Peter, 
ver. 18, and none apostles saw I save James,' ver. 19. And yet he set up 
the same practices in churches that the other apostles did, ordained elders in 
every city, and deacons, &c. Now that they should so agree in the same 
practices ; that these all here recorded should be entitled the practices of the 
apostles ; that they should be the same in several churches, in that first of 
Judea, and the same from several apostles in those several churches, and 
some of these apostles not consulting each with other ; how could this be, 
but as guided by the same Spirit, and as going by the same rule common to 
all, which was the commands of Christ ? 

(4.) Yea, fourthly, as they have thus Christ's commands (afore the record- 
ing these practices) for their warrant, so some of them that are recorded in 
the Acts but as historically done at the first as acts of the apostles, yet are 
in after times in other scriptures given by way of command. Now this 
farther confirms this same, being thus warranted and consigned for the rest, 
to shew the like reason of all the other. Thus the first mention of the office 
of deacons in the church, is but historically and by way of example set down 
with the occasion of it, Acts vi. As also of bishops and elders in the Acts often, 
and not at all as recorded therein with any commands from the apostles ; and 
yet to shew that these examples are recorded for commands and rules, Paul, 
in his epistle to Timothy, writing to him how to behave himself in the house 
of God, mentions these offices of deacons and elders as the commands of Christ, 
1 Tim. iii. ; and, on the contrary, that which Christ gave a precept and an 
institution about. Matt, xviii., namely, church censure and excommunication, 
3'ou have it in a directive example given to the church of Corinth, 1 Cor. v. 

(5.) And for a fifth argument, yet further to confirm this, the apostles do 
in their epistles refer churches and others to their example in the churches, 
as rules for their imitation ; and this in matters of church order. Thus, in 
1 Cor. xi., Paul, when he was to write to the church of Corinth about 
ordering matters of order, as ver. 34 shews, and also all the particulars in 
that chapter do shew it (for they are matters of that nature, as about cover- 
ing and uncovering, in token of subjection, and about their love feasts 
breeding divisions, and eating in the assemblies, and the abuse in the Lord's 
supper, &c.), he makes this the preface to all these, ' Be ye followers of me, 
even as I am of Christ,' ver. 1, commending them in other things of their 
church order ; such as these, they had remembered all these things, and 
kept the ordinances as he had delivered them ; so ver. 2. But in these 
abuses and disorders, he saith he could not but dispraise them, ver. 17. 
Now, in all matters of this nature, as well as matters of doctrine, he exhorts 
them to be followers of his example and practice in the churches, as he was 
of Christ : so as about all such things Christ gave a command and the 
apostles gave order, and by their doctrine and practices delivered them. 
We have no such custom, says he, that is, no such practice, and so con- 
demns their disorder, by bringing them to that as the rule. So also in his 
preface to that discourse of his about church censures to be executed upon 

Chap. IV.J the churches of cheist. 31 

that iucestuous member of the church, which you read of, chap, v., and other 
particular directions that follow in that epistle, he tells them, chap, iv., that 
though they may have many thousand instructors, yet he was their father, 
ver. 15 ; telling them, ver. 17, that he had sent Timothy, an evangelist, 
unto them, which should put them in remembrance of his ways in Christ, ' as 
I teach everywhere in every church'; the meaning whereof is plainly this, 
that he did bind them to no other rule than what he bound all other churches 
to ; and that his example or way, whereof Timothy could put them in mind, 
was that rule he would have them and other churches follow, he teaching all 
churches to follow those his ways ; for otherwise Timothy could not know 
what he taught everywhere in every church ; so as he means not his doctrine 
materially, but his ways which he taught every church to follow, as also he 
requireth them. So in his writing to the church of the Philippians, his 
general conclusion in matters of practice is, chap. iv. 9, ' Those things which 
you have both learned and received, and heard, and seen in me, do' ; what 
you have received by he;mng and learned by seeing. 

1, I observe, his ways and practices in all the churches were regular and 
alike, and all tied to the same rule, and given by doctrine and by example 
also. Look what his ways were ; the same he taught, and this universally 
in all churches, teaching them to observe it as Christ charged them. 

2. He means his ways in matters of discipline and government of the 
church, as well as doctrine, and indeed those matters of discipline were 
delivered also by doctrine to those churches. For, 1, this is a preface to 
his discourse about matters of discipline, which he enters into in the following 
verses and following chapters. 2. Therefore he calleth them ways, not vjai/, 
as being acts and practices of him as an apostle ; things to be done, which 
matters of faith are not called. And 3. They were not moral ways of the 
moral law, for these the Old Testament directed to, and he might refer them 
unto the rules there ; but evangelical ways he means, which the gospel 
brought in, ways in Christ, given as directions in all churches. And 4. To 
that end he sent Timothy, an evangelist, whose office it was to order things 
in church government, as appears by the matter of the epistles to Timothy 
and Titus. Add but this, that if anywhere he calls on them to imitate him 
in discipline, then in these places matters of discipline are meant and included ; 
but he doth this in many places, as in 1 Cor. xi., and the matters of this first 
epistle to the Corinthians are much about order : ' The rest will T order when 
I come,' 1 Cor. xi. 34 ; and so Timothy was sent to establish them therein. 

Again, 3. Writing to Timothy, an evangelist, on purpose to direct him 
how to behave himself in the house of God (this being the chief scope of 
those epistles, as was noted), he calls him to his example as his rule, as one 
that had known his doctrine, manners, life, &c. : 2 Tim. iii. 10, * But thou 
hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long-sutfering, 
charity, patience.' The word is, TaorjKoXovdriKa;, juxta seqiii, vestif/iis iii- 
.sistere, hast followed it step by step. ' 1. In doctrine ; 2. sv rri uyuyrj, in 
converse or ways in the churches, as that place, 1 Cor. iv. 17, shews, in my 
platform, or form, or leading, or method ; which may very well mean his 
institution of churches, his leading or framing them, and training them up. 

4. Yea, yet further, to shew that the practices of churches settled by 
the apostles are rules unto us, we find him calling upon churches then to 
imitate the orders of other churches in those times planted by the apostles ; 
therefore the practices of churches recorded, and not blamed, are intended 
as rules. The customs of churches is now much urged in the world to bind 
others to them, because the apostles referred to them ; but the argument 
fails and differs in this, which is not considered, that the custom of churches 


then were apostolical ; and such customs in such churches, so directed in- 
fallibly, and recorded then when the apostles were present, we may safely 
account obligatory, but not customs merely human. Thus Paul argues from 
the custom of all churches, in that 1 Cor. xi. 16, ' We have no such custom, 
nor the churches of the saints,' that is, thus founded by apostles. Thus, 
1 Thes. ii. 14, he commends them for having become followers of the churches 
of God in Judea, because they being the first churches planted by the 
apostles, were most exact according to the pattern. Of other churches he 
says, ' Came the word of God out from you ?' 1 Cor. xiv. 36. Now, from 
the churches of Judea it did. And he speaks it generally of all their imita- 
tions of them, and that both in matters of order as well as faith, they being 
constituted and settled in both ; for if not in all things, why puts he not the 
difi'erence ? 

And to shew that all churches in such matters were ordered by the same 
rule, one as well as another, and that therefore what we find recorded of one 
church was in like manner in all, the apostle sometimes, in giving directions 
to one church, adds, ' As I ordain in other churches of Christ also.' Thus, 
1 Cor. xvi. 1, in the ordering of collections on the first day of the week, 
which is in view but an inferior matter, and might have been done any day, 
yet when he gives instruction about it to the Corinthians, though it had 
been enough that he an apostle gave it, yet he puts this in, ' As I ordained in 
the churches of Galatia, so do ye also.' So in giving those rules about pro- 
phesying, to speak one by one, and the lesser number of prophets to submit 
to the greater, he enforceth it by this, in 1 Cor. xiv. 33, ' as we see in all 
the churches of the saints ;' and ver. 87, ' let him that is spiritual acknow- 
ledge that these are the commands of God.' To this doth that old saying 
aoree, Constahit id esse ah apostoUs traditum, quod ecdesiis oj)ostolorum. fuit 
sacrosanctum, That is evident to have been delivered by the apostles, which 
hath been sacredly observed by the churches of the apostles. 

5. Christ calls upon the same churches to imitate the first pattern given 
them, and wherein they or any swerved, he reduceth them to what they had 
at first received and learned from the apostles, as containing an immutable 
rule not to be swerved from. Now, if they had not liberty to swerve from 
them, then not we : Rev. iii. 3, ' Remember how thou hast received and 
heard, and hold fast and repent.' Those epistles to the seven churches do 
as much concern discipline as matters of doctrine ; for the chief fault he 
doth find with them still is slackness of discipline, whereby they sufi'ered 
men to teach or practise amiss. 

Now the general reason of this, why the apostle left these things in ex- 
ample, is, first, because this agrees with the nature of the thing, for matters 
of practice and order are as well, if not better, represented in examples than 
rules. Men are moved more by examples than by precepts (as Seneca said), 
as buildings and their platform are best set out in pictures. And, 2. Con- 
sider the manner of writing scriptures, the occasion of writing these of the 
New Testament, both Acts and Epistles, and it will appear that this way of 
example was most suitable. 1. The manner of the Scriptures, even as to 
matters of doctrine, is not to write methods or harmonies, truths ordered, 
but scattered, and often left to us to pick them out by intimations and co- 
herences, and this as to many great truths. And 2. Let us consider when 
it was they were written. The work was not first to write scriptures, as 
having churches constituted to their hands. Though Moses' case was other- 
wise, who had a people already gathered, the nation of the Jews, which were 
in one place, whom he could therefore dehver a law unto, in precepts, yet 
the apostles dispersed themselves to several places ; and their first work was 

Chap. IV.] the churches of christ. 33 

to convert men in all nations, and so to build them up into churches, and so 
carry their directions with them in their breasts. Thus they did tirst in 
Judea, then among the Gentiles ; and every one of them (when apart) was 
led with an infallible Spirit in so doing, and all with one spirit agreeing and 
conspiring in the same, as by the churches set up by them doth appear. 
And many years after this were the Scriptures written to those churches (as 
occasion was) whom they had first ordered and disciplined, and this for the 
direction of times to come ; and so, in writing to them, they hint relations 
of what was done and constituted among them historically (for the rule was 
already put in practice, and they were framed and reared). And so Luke 
writes an historical relation (after the apostles had set many churches) of 
their acts and practices ; and it was not comely to write a law to such 
churches, to have such and such officers, &c., when already they had them ; 
but rather they maintain their officers as existing among them already, and 
shew their diversity, by exhorting them to their several duties, as Rom. xii., 
and elsewhere ; which yet, because they were erected by apostolical direc- 
tion, is hint enough to us to have the like. If they had written to any 
company in a place that had not been gathered into church fellowship, to 
ecclesia constituenda, a church that was to be constituted, then it had been 
meet to have written the laws and rules of it how to order themselves. But 
the apostles had already, afore writing the Scripture, cast all churches into 
that order which Christ had appointed, and by example and precept, in word 
of mouth, delivered them the traditions, as the apostle speaks, 1 Cor. xi. 2. 
And after upon occasion, writing to some of them as churches already con- 
stituted, he mentioneth matters of discipline, but either historically, as 
already settled among them, or by way of precept, in such particulars as they 
were amiss in ; yet so as divine providence, that took care for after times, 
hath given a complete direction, either in hints and records of those ex- 
amples, of what was already constituted in some churches, or in such those 
occasional precepts. 

And further, in general, that examples recorded in Scripture are intended 
as rules, and so are understood by divines, appears by these instances. 

1. It is evident in the matter of the Sabbath ; for which, suppose that we 
have no positive command given in the New Testament (and the command 
in the Old was evidently pitched on the seventh day from the creation in the 
letter of the command), yet because we have mention of it by way of prac- 
tice, and administration of holy meetings on that day, — as in that of collec- 
tion of saints upon the first day of the week ; and Acts xx. 7, of breaking bread 
on the first day of the week, &c., — our divines have warrantably concluded the 
alteration of it. And therefore we do alike wonder at those that are for church 
ways, that they should be against the Lord's day, and that those that are for 
the Sabbath should be against the form of examples in the New Testament. 

2. This is evident also in matters of contract afore marriage ; but a hint, 
by the by, in a rule given concerning adultery, and in the example of Joseph 
and Mary, confirms the obligation of it. 

8. The same appears in many particular explications of the moral law. 
All that write upon the commandments, though for greater things of the law 
they follow the express rules, yet the lesser explications are but from ex- 
amples of holy men. Now allow but the same liberty in these evangelical 
precepts, that for the great things there are express precepts ; as for the 
sacraments, for institution of chui'ches. Mat. xviii. ; for officers, in Timothy 
and Rom. xii. ; for censures. Mat. xviii ; but for many branches, for matter 
of carriage in these, we must have them out of the examples and hints in 
the New Testament, and it is all that we ask. 



4. We find our Saviour Christ, and the apostles, arguing from examples 
of first patterns, thus : 1. To prove what is lawful. Mat. xii. 3, Christ argues 
from David's example iu breaking a law, in eating when he was hungry the 
shew-bread (which was not otherwise lawful for him to eat, Exod. xxix. 33), 
to prove it lawful to pull ears of corn on the Sabbath day, and eat them. 
And so, from the example of the priests profaning the Sabbath, and being 
blameless, Mat. xii. 5, that is, not found fault with ; and though Christ an- 
nexeth a ground out of one of the prophets, ' I will have mercy, and not 
sacrifice ;' yet consider that that law came long after, and these examples 
were in force long before this law, for Hosea wrote long after. 2. Examples 
are urged, not only to prove what is lawful, but also what is a duty. Thus 
the apostle Peter, 1 Peter iii. 3, 4, exhorts wives that their ' adorning should 
not be that of putting on apparel, but the ornament of a meek spirit,' for, 
ver. 5, ' after this manner in the old time, the holy women who trusted in 
God adorned themselves.' Thus also in the matter of praying twice a daj^ 
morning and evening, says Paul : 2 Tim. i. 3, ' Whom I serve from my forefathers 
without ceasing, having them in remembrance in my prayers, day and night.' 
This custom to pray so often was from the forefathers, who in the temple 
did so, and in their houses ; and this is argued not so much from an express 
command as from their examples. 3. Especially when the first institution 
is founded upon an example, then the example is the great argument for it : 
As prlmum in qiiolihet genere est viensura reliquorum, the first in every kind 
is the measure of the rest, so in this case too. Thus the law of marriage is 
founded upon the example of Adam's marriage, and so argued from, both by 
the prophet Malachi and by Christ also, both that a man should have but 
one wife, and not put her away. Thus Malachi argues from the very crea- 
tion of but one woman for Adam, as a rule for us : Mai. ii, 15, ' And did he 
not make one ? And wherefore one ? Yet had he a residue of spirit ' 
(namely, to have made more), ' that he might have a lawful and godly seed ;' 
for which cause adultery and unlawful marriages are not sanctified from the 
first institution. And so our Saviour Christ, Mat. xix. 4-8, ' In the be- 
ginning it was not so,' argues from the practice then. 

If it be said that there was a law, ' Therefore shall a man leave his father 
and his mother,' &c., yet still the law is founded upon the example of Adam 
and Eve, the first pattern, that because God made but two at first, therefore 
no more should be joined together, as Christ reasoneth. Mat. xix. 4, ' Have 
ye not read, that he that made them at the first, made them male and 
female ?' He argues from that very instance. Yea, and he made the first 
woman of Adam's flesh, so as Adam said, ' She is bone of my bone, and flesh 
of my flesh,' and therefore, or for this cause (as Christ and the apostle in- 
terprets it), was the law given, yet so as Adam's example is made the founda- 
tion of it, because primiun in isto genere, what Adam did then by God's 
appointment is a rule for ever. 

Only to prevent a mistake, we will add these cautions as limitations. 

1. That for the great and more essential parts of church order and wor- 
ship, we have express and direct rules. As for the institution and constitu- 
tion of a church. Mat. xviii. ; for the administration of censures by admonition, 
excommunication ; for the chief ofiicers thereof, bishops and deacons; for the 
sacraments, pubhc prayers, preaching, &c. The examples do only mostly 
concern the limits, order, and administration of all these. And in such 
things. Scripture examples should be admitted for rules, for so it is in in- 
terpreting the moral law. The great things of each commandment concern 
the grosser sins, and, mainest general duties, for which you have express 
rules and commands ; but for all the particular branches and cases about 

Chap. IV. J the churches of christ. 35 

particular sins and duties, it will be hard to fetcli express rules to direct 
men's consciences, but men take the help and benefit of examples unblamed 
in Scripture, for a decision of them. Look all interpreters of the ten com- 
mandments, and their quotations, and you will find it so. Now why should 
not as great a liberty be left us to find out God's politics as God's ethics, it 
being as necessary, if not more, that men should have directions to guide 
their converse in the house of God as in their own houses and private afiairs ? 

2. We must be careful that we take such examples as are written and are 
not blamed, supposing this to be the rule, that what is not blamed or con- 
tradicted by a rule doth bind us. Christ, arguing from an example of the 
priests, allegeth that for a warrant ; you read (saith he), ' how that the priests 
profaned the Sabbath, and are blameless,' Mat. xii. 5. Hence, because 
apostolical examples in the converse in churches are recorded as rules, there- 
fore such examples of theirs as were faulty are blamed, and took notice of, 
as Peter's example in a church matter at Antioch, Gal. ii. ; Paul reproved 
him to his face, and that upon this ground, because his example, being an 
apostle, ' compelled men,' Gal. ii. 14, it had the force of an argument in it. 

3. We must get characters to distinguish between extraordinary and ordi- 
nary examples, recorded of churches and the apostles. As we do make a 
distinction of Chi'ist's own example, and of Philip's baptizing out of a church 
(he being an evangelist, and carrying church power about with him, and the 
person's case requiring present departure into a far country), and of Chris- 
tians selling their estates in the first churches of the Jews, when there were 
many poor, and of the apostles being maintained and sent into all the world. 

If you ask how we shall distinguish them ? we answer, even as you do 
other things that are extraordinary, promiscuously recorded with ordinai'y ; 
for the things distinguish themselves, as 1 Cor. xii., speaking of gifts, he 
promiscuously reckons up ordinary and extraordinary, vers. 8-10, ' To one 
is given a word of wisdom; to another a word of knowledge; to another the 
gifts of healing ; and to another working of miracles ; to another divers 
tongues ;' here is no greater matter of distinction put for the things, than 
what themselves afi"ord. The gifts that remain still in the church are ordi- 
nary, they that do not are extraordinary. So for officei's : ver. 28, ' God 
hath set in the church, first, apostles ; secondarily, prophets ; thirdly, 
teachers ; after that miracles ; then helps in government.' How can we 
distinguish here, and know that we have teachers and government, and not 
apostles, &c., but by this, that the necessity of gifts for teaching and govern- 
ment still remains, not the other ? And so do we as easily distinguish of 
examples ; such as were things common, founded upon common and general 
respects, these we account ordinary, and to bind, because they may con- 
tinue, and the reason of them continue, where it is not so in extraordinary. 

4. The like we say of examples merely occasional. The occasion ceasing, 
the thing ceaseth ; and therein we judge but as we do of other things under 
the law, when yet Moses gave direct rules, as in eating the passover, that 
they were commanded to do it with staves in their hands, and in haste, was 
merely suited to the occasion of the first passover, because that night they 
were to travel, and so it did not bind afterward. 

If you say. Shew me a complete system of directions out of the examples 
or rules given, and we will believe you ; 

To this we answer : 1. That in the main and substantial matters, we can 
shew enough to guide the present practices of churches in managing the 
great and necessary ordinances of Christ. We gave one instance afore for 
all the rest, about dispensing the censures of the church. And 2. By find- 
ing express order taken about small things (as to carnal eyes they may seem 


to be), we may be directed in greater ; as how and when to order the col- 
lection for the saints, on the first day of the week, and to treasure up bj' a 
man's self weekly, as God hath blessed him, whereas another set day in the 
week might have served, according to human prudence, as well ; and to lay 
up as God hath blessed a man, at the month's end, might seem to have been 
as well in a way of human arbitrary prudence, and have been left to men's 
directions, and yet the apostle makes this an order in Corinth, and in the 
churches in Galatia. Now, think we, if God took care and bound up human 
wisdom, and interposed his own in matters of such small moment, as these 
circumstances seem to be, we cannot but believe he hath done the like in all 
things else of a like nature; and either he would have given no rules about 
such things, or have left a complete rule, if we could find it out. That in dig- 
ging, we find such small medals as these, here and there, stamped by God's 
authority, and bearing the image of his wisdom and sovereignty, doth en- 
courage us to dig, hoping to find that whole treasure that is hid in Christ, 
in whom we are complete for all treasures of knowledge and wisdom. And 
this binds up our understandings from daring to coin by human wisdom and 
authority, any the like institutions, lest we should set up our posts by God's, 
and eke out by human prudence those things which we see God hath 
used his wisdom to deliver to us (as by such instances evidently appears), 
wherein we ought to suspect our ignorance of his will, rather than his faith- 
fulness, to deliver all of the like nature. And, 3dly, AVe are to be careful in 
doing what we find a rule and examples for, and so whereunto we have 
attained, walk. We find that true of Christ, and made good by him unto 
us, that in doing the will of God, we know it ; and in matters of practice, 
experience, with faith waiting for light, helps to the knowledge, more than 
all the study in the abstract in the world can do. And therefore, though 
we profess we know not rules for every case or query that may be put, yet 
so far as we have attained, we walk ; suspending where we want light till 
God reveal it, knowing that God will accept this : we finding that in all 
sorts of human actions, in all callings and relations, there are a thousand 
cases wherein men are to seek for direction out of the word, and yet they 
do not forbear to walk in all those relations, till they are resolved of every 
particular case and duty that may fall out. And so in matters of doctrine, 
if we should forbear to believe the truths we know and have received, until 
we have a complete system of undoubted verity, and Paul's form of whole- 
some words in all particulars, we should be ever learning, and never come 
to the knowledge of, and assent to, any truth. 

And therefore our desire is, that the churches of Christ would in this age 
(wherein these things are inquired into, and the reformation of discipHne 
yet imperfect) walk by this rule, that so far as they agree, and in common 
have found out the rule, to walk by it, and be obliged so to do ; and wherein 
they difier, or want that light which others have, they might be left to that 
rule which God hath set up, as the great peace-maker and arbiter in his 
churches, not to judge one another for these things, but to say with the 
apostle, * These that are otherwise minded, God shall reveal it to them in his 
due time ;' and in so doing, know God will accept us, and we hope men will. 

Chap. V.] the churches of christ. 37 


That there are ordinances of ■public worship established in churches wider tlie 
New Testament, which are to continue to the end of the world. 

I design not to discourse here of the doctrine of ordinances, as it is stated 
against the seekers, who yield the being of such ordinances to be of divine 
right, and no deficiency to be in Christ's institution ; and yet assert that as 
a rose in winter hath a being in the world, of right, as well as any other 
fruit of the earth then extant, only there is not a way or means of its actual 
existence by reason of the season, so ordinances have a right of being in the 
church, but antichrist hath withered all things, and made an interruption in 
ordinances, ministry, &c. An unhappy generation of men have risen up, 
who cry down all ordinances as forms, yea, and would rank them as forms 
equally with all the idolatries in popery, or any other superstitions, in all 
which (say they) God was in those appearances served, as well as in those 
that were once of his own institution ; so making them all one, and all 
forms alike, they pretend to live in the Spirit, and not only without all 
these, but above them. But the prophecy of Jude, and other holy 
apostles, Paul and Peter, have given in caution concerning these : Jude ver. 
18-21, ' How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, 
who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they which sepa- 
rate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building 
up yourselves on your more holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep 
yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ 
unto eternal life.' The separation there is to be interpreted by what, as the 
opposite thereto, the apostle exhorts true behevers unto. ' But you, beloved, 
building up yourselves,' &c., ver. 20. What he mentioneth as means of 
grace to preserve them to eternal life, from these it was these men separated, 
pretending to live in the Spirit ; and therefore, with indignation, the holy 
apostle saith of them, that they were ' sensual, not having the Spirit.' They 
separated not from other Christians, but from these things, that were means 
of grace when influenced by the Spirit. I will not meddle with any of their 
evasions, but only positively speak that which concerns the truth of my posi- 
tion, and prove the existency and continuance of gospel ordinances, as bap- 
tism, the Lord's supper, &c. I will begin with that scripture upon which I 
have discoursed on another occasion, namely, to shew the danger of living in 
the practice of prevailing lusts, under ordinances. That which now I shall 
make use of that scripture for, is to shew both the existence and continuance 
of ordinances, of baptism, and the Lord's supper, under the New Testament. 

1 Cor. X. 1-6, ' Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be igno- 
rant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through 
the sea ; and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same 
spiritual drink : for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them ; and 
that rock was Christ : but with many of them God was not well pleased ; for 
they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our 
examples, to the intent we should not lust after e\i\ things, as they also 
lusted.' Compare it with ver. 11 : ' Now all these things happened unto 
them for ensamples ; and they were written for our admonition, upon whom 
the ends of the world are come.' 

The general scope is, to shew how, for the substance of them, the fathers 
enjoyed the same spiritual ordinances, which now our baptism and the Lord's 
supper answers to, and which these Corinthians, and all Christians generally, 


lived under, only with that diflference which that dispensation of the old had 
in it from this of the new. As that those were more shadowy, and in their 
immediate ordination but tj-pes, as their baptism then pointed forth imme- 
diately ; their total deliverance from Egypt, as then baptized unto Moses in 
the cloud and the sea ; (but yet under that to us believers is held forth our 
baptism as union unto Christ, of whom Moses was a type, and the deliver- 
ance of our souls from hell and Satan) ; whereas our ordinances now have 
that outward rind shaled off, and Christ only, and baptism unto him, are 
barely and nakedly held forth, &c. Now, I shall but prosecute two obser- 
vations, which to me seem natural as to this assertion out of the Scripture, 
concerning these tw^o ordinances of baptism and the Lord's supper here par- 
ticularly specified, and so consequently concerning all other parts of insti- 
tuted worship under the gospel. 

Obs. 1. Observe first, that these ordinances were generally received and 
practised by the Christians of those times. 

Obs. 2. Observe secondly, that these ordinances are to continue to the 
end of the world. 

To prove the first observation, I remark the note of universality which the 
apostle useth. As he says that those Israelites were types of us, and their 
ordinances types of ours, so in making the parallel between us and them, he 
carefully inserts this, that as all of them were partakers, and lived under 
those ordinances then, so all of us Christians do partake, or ought to do, of 
these sacraments that answer unto those tj^pes of theirs now. Of the fathers, 
as he calls them, in the wilderness, he says it no less than five times : ' All 
our fathers were in the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and were all 
baptized unto Moses in the cloud, and in the sea, and did all eat the same 
spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink.' And answerably, 
concerning the Christians of those times, he utters it in all their names, and 
involves himself: ver, 17, ' We are all partakers of that one bread ;' and 
says the same of baptism : 1 Cor. xii. 13, ' We are all baptized by one 
Spirit, into one body, and do all drink,' &c. ; andKom. vi. 3, 4, ' Know ye 
not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized 
into his death ? Therefore are we buried with him by baptism into death,' 
He argues from the known and generally received profession and practice of 
all Christians : Know ye not, ' that so many of us as were baptized,' that is, 
that whoever of us that profess baptism into Christ, profess baptism into his 
death, as the thing intended by it. The ks there is the generality of Chris- 
tians, distinguished usually by that word from heathens : as Rom. xiv. 7, 
1 Cor. viii. 6, ' To us there is but one God,' &c., that is, we Christians pro- 
fess all, and generally so. And his scope being to shew how sanctification 
flows from being in Christ, his argument is drawn from a general principle 
of the 7ts of Christians. As many of us, to a man, as we use to say, as have 
been baptized into Christ, and do profess that part of religion, are all taught 
that the import thereof is to be therewith baptized into his death. So that 
his expression, as many of us, imports not, as if some were and some were 
not baptized (for then his argument of sanctification had not been binding to 
the generahty of Christians, which, it is evident, it was in his intention), but 
it imports the contrary, that as many as were Christians were all baptized, 
and were taught this to be the meaning of that great point and principle of 
religion, that as they were baptized into Christ thereby, so also into his death. 

I observe, also, out of this, 1 Cor. x., that it was in esteem, yea, and 
taken for granted, a point of the then religion, to receive the Lord's supper. 
For observe how he reasons against their eating in the idol's temple things 
sacrificed to idols : ver. 21, 'Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup 

Chap. V.] the churches of cheist. o9 

of devils: Ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of 
devils.' He set these two one against the other ; to eat in the idol's temple 
as a point of heathenish religion, and to partake of the Lord's supper as a 
point of our Christian profession. Now, that he might be sure at once, for 
ever to knock down that idolatrous practice, he useth this argument drawn 
from that, which, according to all the then received principles, could not 
be denied. He argues with them in this manner: A main practice of your 
Christian profession, which you all take up, and of which you must in effect 
renoance your profession if you renounce this practice, is the Lord's supper. 
It is the "outward badge of your Christian religion, and you must utterly 
renounce that if you will needs also practise this other of eating in the idol's 
temple, for there is a contradiction between them, ye cannot drink the cup 
of the Lord, and the cup of devils. Christ cares not for your coming to his 
supper, but had rather you should keep away, if you also receive the devil's 
sacraments. Thus he plainly works upon this firm ground, in which they 
knew he must not be at a loss, that they must continue to drink of that cup, 
that they must partake of that table ; so he takes that for granted, as sacred 
to them, and then infers that other, of not eating in the idol's temple. And 
it is as if he had said, I know I have you fast here ; that you will never for- 
sake assembling yourselves for the Lord's supper, or neglect to do it ; this, 
I hope, you will all say presently, that you will never do. Now, then, saith 
he, I tell 3'ou, you cannot partake of the Lord's cup and of the devil's ; 
choose you whether you will give over the one or the other, upon your 
peril. He holds them hard to It, in this one, whilst he argues from thence 
against the other. Now, as to the opinion of some men in our days, that 
profess they are not bound to the Lord's supper, and think it is no point of 
any religion, but that they can live without it or above it. If the devil had 
thought of this, yea, and put it into the heads of any in those days, unto such 
the apostle Paul's argument would have had no strength or force of conviction. 
For if he had said to them, ' Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord in the 
sacrament,' &c., as ver. 16, they might readily have said, or any one for them : 
This is no argument to us, it reacheth not our principles, for we think not 
ourselves obliged to drink the cup of the Lord, nor to eat at his table. And, 
indeed, those that profess this principle, I except the dark scrupled seekers, 
can as well partake of the mass as of the Lord's supper; they are all to them 
but forms, the one as well as the other, and a Christian may use all, and is 
above all. This, as to the first thing I observed, concerning these ordinances. 
Obs. The second observation is, that there is to be a continuance of these 
ordinances to after ages, which, out of the scope of the text, I demonstrate 
thus : that twice in the 6th verse, and in the 11th verse, in making the 
reddition or application of the story of the Israelites, both for ordinances and 
for like punishment due to the abuse of them, he says, that in these they 
were tLttoi i'Moov, types of us ; so ver. 6, which is their conclusion as to 
their enjoyment of like ordinances, and so ver. 11, as to our incurring the 
same punishment he had from the 6th verse discoursed of ; he subjoins, 
' These things were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the 
world are come.' So that all Christians, that do live under, or ought to live 
under, these ordinances, partaking of those sins, are to partake of these 
punishments, as well as these Corinthians. Some of the seekers, interpret- 
ing that place in Mat. xxviii. 20, ' Go, preach and baptize, I am with you m 
all things, to the end of the world ;' the words being in the original, rsXiiac, 
roD dtojvog, in the singular number, would have this determine in the first 
age of the church ; whereas, everywhere in Christ's speeches afore, the 
very same phrase in the singular also is put to express the end of the 


world, or, as Paul says, 1 Cor. xi. 2G, until Christ come. In Mat. xiii. 
40, 49, also, you have the same phrase, where is meant the end of this 
world, when the day of judgment comes, as also plainly distinguished 
from the end of that age wherein Jerusalem was destroyed, Mat. xxiv. 3. 
And Christ also adds in this place of Mat. xxviii. 20, the word ahvcnj, 
which means, all the days or times to the end of the world. And 
so all the ages hetween are implied. Well, but farther, here you see 
that, in 1 Cor. x. 11, it is affirmed of the Lord's supper, as well as 
baptism, that they concern all them upon whom the ends of the world (in the 
plural) are come, that is, all the ages that succeed each other in this last 
scene of the world. So as indeed, if any were to be excepted, those rather 
that lived in the first age comparatively should. We have lived sixteen 
hundred years since Paul wrote this, and upon us, rather than upon them, 
it might be said that the ends of the world are come. I will but cast in this 
out of this scripture more, and I think it is not altogether to be slighted as 
to this head. You see he plainly parallels our sacraments and theirs as 
types and anti-types. Now, what should be the mystery then, that when he 
speaks of that sacramental rock, which was Christ, and says that they drunk 
thereof, he would needs insert one circumstance concerning it, that is yet 
not so evident in the story of the Old Testament '? The rock (says he) 
' which followed them,' that is, all along through their travel in the wilderness. 
It is to be supposed the rock stood in its own place, but Moses striking it, 
and a river of water springing forth served them with water, not only in that 
place, but followed them in all their journey in that desert ; which the 
Psalmist intimates, Ps. cv. 41, ' He opened the rock, and the waters gushed 
out ; they ran in the dry places like a river.' Surely this is (as here) added 
to no other purpose but to make up the parallel in our ordinances, the anti- 
type. When God had struck Christ the rock, and opened his side (and it 
was for us rebels too, as Moses then called the Israelites, that water and 
blood came forth, which are communicated to us in baptism, which is a 
washing by water, as blood is held forth in the Lord's supper), these ordi- 
nances were as channels cut out by God, through the means and conduct of 
which this rock should follow us, and that whilst the church is in the wilder- 
ness, and on this side Canaan ; as that did, as a sacrament to the end of their 
journey. And so in this was the type fulfilled to them, in the primitive ages 
of the church, and is yet to be fulfilled unto us, upon whom the ends of the 
world are come. 

I shall now, by other arguments, farther prove that there are ordinances, 
or instituted worship, under the New Testament, to continue unto the end 
of the w^orld. 

1. The new covenant hath ordinances of divine worship annexed unto it, 
as well as the old covenant had ; for which the coherence of the eighth and 
ninth chapters to the Hebrews, the latter part of the ninth, and the beginning 
of the tenth, are a clear evidence. The scope of that epistle is indeed to 
shew how the worship and ordinances of the Old Testament were translated 
into a worship under the New, in substance answering to it ; and how Christ, 
as an high priest, was as faithful to God in his house as Moses was, Heb. 
iii. In the eighth chapter, having treated of the two covenants, the old and 
new, and by the new understanding that, wherein the promise was, ' that 
they should not need to be taught,' &c., ver. 10, then presently upon it, 
chap. ix. 1, he goes on thus : ' Then verily the first covenant had also ordi- 
nances of divine service,' which was the tabernacle, and the worship per- 
formed there ; so ver. 2-7 : * For there was a tabernacle made ; the first, 
wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shew-bread ; which is 

Chap. V.] the chueches of christ. -Al 

called the Sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle ^Yhich is 
called the Holiest of all : which had the golden censer, and the ark of the 
covenant, overlaid round about with gold, v.'herein was the golden pot that 
had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant ; 
and over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy-seat ; of which we 
cannot now speak particularly. Now when these things were thus ordained, 
the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service 
of God.' I lay hold of the word also, as implying that therefore the new 
covenant hath the like ordinances ; and not only so, but observe that, in 
God's intention, our ordinances were the first of the two, and the chief, 
though theirs first in time. For he says not, the new covenant hath also, 
but the old had also ; for ours were more the substance, theirs more the 
type and shadow ; yet so as both must have ordinances of divine worship, 
the new as well as the old, whilst it continues. And ver. 10, they were 
appointed, but until the time of the reformation, or change of worship to be 
made, not of the abolition of it ; and what those ordinances are you know. 

2. If there be no instituted ordinances to continue, then the second com- 
mandment is utterly obliterated under the gospel, or under the times of the 
gospel, in which these ordinances are supposed to cease. What is the dif- 
ference between the first commandment and the second ? The first com- 
mands such worship to God as is always and for ever due to him ; as he is 
God, and we creatures, which is termed cultus natundis, natural worship ; 
because due upon the account of our being creatures, and so indispensable 
and eternal, and continuing in heaven, as to fear God, love him, &c. The 
second commands instituted worship, or such means and helps of worship 
as God sanctifies by his institution, as helps and means to worship him by, 
and convey himself to us, which continues whilst we are on earth. Now 
this commandment hath been and hath continued in all the states which men 
have gone through, or shall go through, whilst on earth. And though the 
duties have been changed, as the priesthood hath varied, or as God was 
pleased to signify his good pleasure, how he meant to be worshipped, yet so 
as in all states on earth, there have been some or other such duties belong- 
ing to the commandment in force ; which sufiiciently argues that command 
to have been, and to be still, in force in all states. 

1. In innocency, those two trees, the tree of life and of the knowledge of 
good and evil, were two sacraments admonishing Adam, the one of his 
mutable condition, the other sealing up the promise of life. Under the law, 
it is evident that a commanded worship was in force ; under the gospel, which 
began to be preached by John, together therewith was baptism instituted, 
of which Christ (who represented us) did m the name of us all as head 
say, ' Thus it becomes us to fulfil all righteousness ;' and he began an ex- 
ample unto us therein. And indeed, if there were no second command in 
force under the gospel, then there were no such sin as idolatry, or false wor- 
ship of the true God, as far as concerns the means of worship. There will 
be no idolatry but what is heathenish, or the worship of a false God. Now 
the consequence is good, for the negative part of the command, ' Thou shalt 
not make to thyself an image,' or use false means to worship the true God, 
is founded on the existence of a positive part, that there are means or insti- 
tutions of true worship appointed by God. But now there is such an idolatry 
and superstition of worshipping God by false means, forbidden under the 
New Testament. For, Col. ii., Paul bids them to take heed of will-worship, 
and voluntary humility not commanded : ver. 21-23, ' Touch not, taste not, 
handle not : which all are to perish with the using, after the commandments 
and doctrines of men. Which things have indeed a show of wisdom, in will- 


■worship and humility, and neglecting of the body, not in any honour to the 
satisfying of the flesh.' And John, that lived to the end of that age, at last 
still chargeth them to keep themselves frOm idols, 1 John v. 21. It was an 
admonition not so much against heathenish idolatry, which is to worship 
outwardly another god, as against popish, which was coming upon the world 
(as Paul also foretold both to Timothy and in his other epistles), and for 
which God brought upon the Christian world those plagues which have 
befallen the Grecian churches, Rev. ix. 20, and for which Rome also is 
threatened, Rev. xvii. xviii. 

3. If there were no ordinances, God should have no provision for his pub- 
lic worship, and Christ should have no court on earth. Two things are the 
glory of a king, the laws and jurisdiction by which he rules abroad, and the 
state and reverence done him in his own house at home. Christ is the king 
of nations. Rev. xv. 8, and therefore all are exhorted to worship him, ver. 4. 
In Heb. iii. 1, Christ is as well termed our high priest as our apostle. As 
our apostle, he hath given forth our faith in the doctrine, and we believe it; 
as our high priest, he is the leader of all the worship of the New Testament, 
as the high priest was of old. The apostle makes an inference from this : 
Heb. X. ver. 21-25, ' By a new and living way, which he had consecrated 
for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh : and having an high priest 
over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance 
of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies 
washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith with- 
out wavering (for he is faithful that promised), and let us consider one 
another, to provoke unto love and to good works, not forsaking the assem- 
bling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one 
another ; and so much the more as ye see the day approaching.' Christ is 
an high priest, therefore he hath an house, a court on earth, and therefore 
worship, in which you must draw near with inward washings and sprinklings 
(as the priests of old in the type did with water, &c.) ; and therefore he must 
also have assemblies to be worshipped in. So, ver. 25, it follows, 'Not 
forsaking the assembling of yourselves together.' He exhorteth them to 
meet in churches, as the Jews did in synagogues ; so the word rriv hTrmuva 
'yc^jy/jv signifies. And now such assemblies must have ordinances to converse 
with God in, as they accordingly had preaching and singing of psalms, 
1 Cor. xiv. 23-26, and sacraments of the Lord's supper, 1 Cor. xi., to which 
all were bound, for they were to tarry one for another, ver. 83 ; and that 
being the top ordinance of the gospel, their whole assembling or meeting 
was denominated from it. Acts xx. 7, when the disciples met to break 
bread ; and 1 Cor. ii. 20, ' When ye come together into one place, this is not 
to eat the Lord's supper.' Thus their assembling to worship, and their eating 
the Lord's supper, are promiscuously put one for the other. So among the 
ancients, this did bear the denomination, being termed sacra ffuva^ig,* and 
is put for the whole of gospel worship in the prophecy : ' From the rising of 
the sun, even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great 
among the Gentiles, and in every place incense shall be ofiered unto my 
name, and a pure offering ; for my name shall be great among the heathen, 
saith the Lord of hosts,' Mai. i. 11. 

But to prove the continuance of these two ordinances, both of preaching 
and of the Lord's supper, we need only consider that Christ hath adjoined 
his promise to them both. Christ's promise is annexed to that of preaching, 
Mat. xxviii. 20, ' Teaching them to do whatever I have commanded you, 
and lo, I am with you to the end of the world ;' and as for the Lord's supper, 
* See Mr Joseph Mcde, p. 355 of Lis works, Edit. London, 1677. 

Chap. VI.] the churches of christ. 43 

Paul expressly says, ' As I received of the Lord, so I deliver to you,' 1 Cor. 
xi. 23. It is therefore one of those commands of Christ, ' And do this (said 
Christ, Luke xxii. 19) in remembrance of me,' which is there expressed as a 
command, and implied by the apostle, 1 Cor. xi. 2, ' I praise you that you 
keep the ordinances as I delivered them to you ;' whereof this of the Lord's 
supper was one, and a great one, insisted on throughout the chapter. And 
writing to the Thessalonians, and giving a warning to them, and to those that 
should live in the times when popery should overspread the world (of which 
speaks 2 Thes. ii. 3-13), he admonisheth as a remedy against these seduce- 
ments: ver. 15, 'To hold fast the traditions which you have been taught, 
whether by word or by epistle.' This, though given to the Thessalonians, 
yet must needs more properly concern those that should live in the times 
when the perverting of ordinances should come into the world, for then is 
the most need of that exhortation; when there is an advance of popish inno- 
vations, then is the proper season for it. And therefore, though it con- 
cerned those Thessalonians in those times, when the mystery of iniquity 
began to work, yet upon the same ground more fully it concerns us in these 
times, when this mystery of iniquity hath prevailed. For their sakes, there- 
fore, this was written, upon whom these latter ends of the world are come, 
and so concerns us and our forefathers who reformed from popery, to hold 
firmly to Scriptures and ordinances as a preservative against popery. Yea, 
Paul goes further : 1 Cor. xi. 26, ' For (says he) as often as ye eat this 
bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew forth the Lord's death till he come ;' 
and again, ' Do this in remembrance of me.' It is as if he had said, Christ 
must be absent till the day of judgment, and the heaven of heavens must 
contain him till then ; and to keep up the remembrance of that great love 
of his in dying, he hath appointed this as the memorial of him whilst 
absent, till he come. And what maoner of coming that is, which puts the 
period to this his absence, the angels have resolved us, and also how 
he will come: Acts i. 10, 11, 'And while they looked stedfastly to- 
wards heaven, as he went up, behold two men stood by them in white ap- 
parel, which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into 
heaven ? This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven shall 
so come in Hke manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.' If ye say 
he is already come in spirit, do but consider who was more filled with the 
Spirit than Christ himself? and yet he was not only baptized, but in being 
baptized, professeth his observance of it to be for this end, to fulfil all right- 
eousness ; and he seems also to speak in the name of us, i. e. of all believers, 
and so it becomes us to fulfil, &c., Mat. iii. 15, because he, as the head, 
gave example to all his succeeding members. And not only so, but though 
he thereupon received the Spirit, and was in spirit in the wilderness, and 
that above measure, as John testifies of him, John iii. 34, yet he lived under 
the observation of all the Jewish ordinances of worship, as going to the 
feasts, eating the passover, &c. 


That hy excommunication viore is meant than bare casting out of the church. — 
That it is an ordinance of Christ, to deliver the excommunicate jjcrson to 
Satan in his name and jwwer. — The rules ivhich Christ hath given for 
church admonitions and censures. 

Though this ordinance of excommunication be described many ways ; 
as, 1, ' Let him be to thee as an heathen and a publican,' Mat. xviii. 17 ; 


and 2, ' With such an one, no, not to eat,' 1 Cor. v. 11 ; and 3, it is ex- 
pressed as a ' casting out of the church,' 3 John 10 ; yet over and 
ahove all this, it is called a delivering unto Satan, 1 Cor. v. 5. And now 
that by this phrase more is intended than simply an ejection out of the 
church, these following arguments evince. 

1. That word of delivering to Satan imports something positive, distinct 
from and including more in it than ejection out of the church. It imports 
a giving up a person to receive a positive punishment from Satan, therefore 
is more than a casting out of the church. This is appai-ent, for as the 
sentence of a judge (though it doth not pitch upon the consequent of the 
punishment of death, viz., the sending a man to hell, nor doth he express 
the sentence he judgeth him to by that) imports more than a mere casting 
the condemned man out of the world, for the sentence directly expresseth 
that punishment which the judge hath power to inflict, viz. the carrying 
of the man back to the gaol from whence he came, and from thence to 
the place of execution, and that there he should be hanged (though he 
doth not put it into the sentence, in the name of the king to deliver this 
man to the devil to be damned), so in the sentence of excommunication 
there is more implied than a casting out of the person out of the society 
of Christians ; for the judgment, the sentence, and that in the name and 
power of Christ, is to deliver unto Satan. It is not to leave the man 
unto Satan only, but it is to deliver unto Satan, which is an act of authority; 
to give him up unto him, as to give a man up to the jailor or to the tor- 
mentor. Thus when God speaks to Satan of Job, he is in thine hand (saith 
he), I have given him up unto thee. Job i. 12 and ii. 6. 

But you will say the bare casting of a person out of the church still im- 
ports but the consequent of it, viz. a delivering him up to Satan, as to 
deprive of light is to give up to darkness. But unto that it is answered, 
that what the formal sentence of excommunication pitches upon is more than 
a mere consequent of the person's being cast out, or is more than accidental ; 
for what the very formal sentence of excommunication pitches upon, and 
which is in the power of Christ, is not barely leaving the man unto Satan, 
but a delivering of him unto Satan. Yea, this is in the very definition of 
excommunication, and therefore is not to be omitted. For that which is 
the positive form of the sentence, and by which excommunication is expressed, 
containeth the essential terminative object or matter of it, that a man is so 
delivered up to the devil, as in the name, so in the power of the Lord Jesus. 
Now this, viz. the delivering of a person to Satan in the name of Christ, is 
a distinct character of excommunication, as that is of baptism, I baptize 
thee in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. As in 
the act of ordination, when you say, I ordain thee a minister or a pastor, it 
imports truly what is said, and not only in a metaphor but a reality ; so in 
this act of excommunication, it is with the power of the Lord Jesus to de- 
liver such an one unto Satan ; therefore when Christ doth give commission 
to the church to do it, in his name and power, this being the formal sen- 
tence, his power concurreth to it. Now this is more than to throw out of 
the church, for if there was only a power to throw the man out of the church 
in the name of Christ, without a power to deliver unto Satan, the church 
would have no more prerogative than what is a common thing to all societies. 
But now when the church can give Satan power over a man, this is an act 
of the power of Jesus Christ indeed, peculiar to a church of his. 

2. Again, if excommunication puts a man into a different state than 
merely that of being again thrown into the world under Satan, as the world 
is that never professed Christ, then it imports some distinct thing from 

Chap. VI.] the churches of christ. 45 

casting out of the church. But a person's being excommunicated is a dif- 
fering thing from being in the world, or under Satan, as the world is. And it 
is so not only in this respect, that they that are in the world, and never 
were of any church, are so in the world as withal they never were of any 
church, as this man hath been, but it is also difierent in respect of some 
special power that Satan should have over this excommunicated person ; 
which is evident by this, because that power which Satan hath over a man 
unregenerate in the world is to carry him on to sin, to work effectually in 
the children of disobedience, Eph. ii. 2, therefore we are said, Col. i. 13, 
to be translated out of the kingdom of darkness, that is, of Satan, who, as 
the strong man, keepeth all in peace. But so to be delivered to Satan cannot 
be the meaning of excommunicating a man, for the intent of this is to destroy 
the flesh and to save his spirit, therefore it is not to deliver a man unto 
Satan so as to be a man of the world out of the church. Again, the differ- 
ence is evident by this, that this man's punishment is in other respects 
greater than that of a man unregenerate in the world, for as the apostle 
saith, the saints may eat with them of the world, but with such a one as is 
excommunicate they are not to eat, 1 Cor. v. 11. 

3. Excommunication imports a positive punishment, for it is a spiritual 
revenge. The negative throwing out of the church is but that which is 
common to all societies ; ' But the weapons of our warfare ' (says the 
apostle) ' are mighty through God, having in a readiness to revenge all dis- 
obedience,' 2 Cor. X. 4-6, as will be evident if we do but lay all these fol- 
lowing things together. 1. That Satan is ready to punish the man in his 
spirit by terrors, and to set on his sins with horrors if he have leave from 
Christ. 2. This man is by the power of Christ given up, and not left only 
to him. 3. He is given up to Satan to punish and correct him : 1 Tim. i. 20, 
' Whom I have delivered to Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme,' 
that is, that they may learn how horrid a sin it is to blaspheme by what 
Satan inflicts. The word translated to learn is in the Greek 'TraidivOOJsi, which 
is, to be disciplined as a child is, to learn by rods ; so that being delivered 
unto Satan to learn how dreadful it is to blaspheme, impHes that Satan is 
to whip them, that they may learn by a suitable punishment what it is to 
blaspheme, by Satan's casting hellish terrors into their mind. 

4. And the analogy of a man's sin when he deserveth excommunication, 
and the punishment itself, seem to be suitable, and that the sin deserves it 
in a way of proportion. For when a man is obstinate, the frame of his 
spirit is such that he doth not regard the ordinances, therefore to be cast 
out of the communion of saints would not be a sore punishment to him, 
neither would that be enough to bring him in ; and therefore the only way 
to bring this man in is to have Satan set on his back with terrors, as in the 
work of humiliation at first. 

5. Then again, such a man hath grieved the Holy Ghost the Comforter, 
and therefore he is suitably given up unto Satan as an accuser and tormentor ; 
and so the phrase of delivering unto Satan seems to mean a spiritual pun- 
ishment opposite unto joy in the Holy Ghost, which is the fruit of obedi- 
ence ; that as the ' kingdom of God is joy, and righteousness, and peace,' 
Rom. xiv. 17, ' the peace of God shall guard your hearts through the work- 
ing of the Holy Ghost,' Philip, iv. 7, so that estate this man is given up to 
is an estate of terror and darkness ; it is not to be an unregenerate man, 
but it is to be under the bondage of Satan. 

6. And then again, excommunication is called the retaining of sin, and 
binding of sin, a binding of sin upon the conscience. Now the question is. 
Quo eficiente ? by whom this should be done. This sentence of delivering 


him unto Satan, implies that Satan hath power given him to set his sin on 
upon his conscience ; and that he is ahle to set sin on upon the conscience is 
evident from other scriptures. 

7. Attain, we do find by experience that where excommunication is not 
administered rightly, there the saints oftentimes are given up to very great 
terrors of conscience, and that from Satan, and left to great temptations ; 
the Lord sometime working without the ordinance that which he doth work 
by the ordinance of excommunication when it is rightly administered. 

8. This fruit doth seem to have been in that Corinthian, 2 Cor. ii., for 
the apostle desires them to forgive him, lest he should be swallowed up with 
over much sorrow, ver. 7. It seems to be more than an human sorrow, or 
more than a sorrow which would have been from the Holy Ghost's working, 
for that would not have swallowed a man up. It implies, therefore, that he 
was in Satan's power, ' We are not ignorant (saith he) of his devices,' 
ver. 11, and that his devices were to keep this poor man in his clutches. 
And the phrase there, ' swallowed up,' answereth to what is said of Satan 
in other cases, ' He goeth up and down seeking whom he may devour,' 
1 Peter v. 8; whom he may drink up, so the word signifieth, xaracr/?). 

9. And again, excommunication may seem to be more than merely a 
throwing out of the church, by that parallel of a greater excommunication 
than what is ordinary, that anaUioiia-maranatha, 1 Cor. xvi. 22, which was 
not only to give a man up to Satan for a time, but to give him up into an 
eternal curse, when they saw that a man which had been a professor loved 
not the Lord Jesus Christ, that is, hated him, as sinning against the Holy 
Ghost. Now, if the church in that case hath power more than to eject, viz., 
to eject with an eternal curse, never to receive a man more, which God 
ratifieth in heaven, then in the ordinary casting a man out of the church, 
though there be hope that he may be recalled again, the way of doing it is 
not merely a private punishment, or a throwing him out of the church, which 
should work upon him in a moral way of a sorrowful thought and sense, that 
he is cast out from among the people of God, but it is a giving him up to 
Satan to terrify him ; God sanctifying that, as he doth other afflictions, to 
bring him in. 

10. If excommunication were nothing else but a seclusion from the church, 
then for the substance of the act it would be no more than a continued sus- 
pension ; for if the substance of the act be the same, they do not differ, 
though the one be done out of an act of authority, the other not. They will 
admit him again upon repentance if he be excommunicated, as well as when 
suspended ; and if he do not repent, they will not admit him, no more than 
when he is excommunicated ; and when he is excommunicated he needs not 
a new admission, as when he is suspended and repents he doth not ; so that 
for the extrinsecal act they are all one. But excommunication hath a spiritual 
punishment attending it, and therefore answerably when that Corinthian was 
to be received again, 2 Cor. ii., they are not simply to pass an act of for- 
giveness, and to receive him again, but to comfort him also. 

If it be objected that we do not always see this efiect of a spiritual punish- 
ment following excommunication. 

1. We reply first, that there have been very few excommunications in the 
world that have been from those that have had the right power of doing it, 
and those excommunications which have been administered by the rightful 
persons yet have not been due, because proceeding on too slight occasions, 
and such as have not deserved excommunication. 

2. They have in their excommunication trusted more to the power of the 
magistrate, when it should have come to a writ de excommunicato capiendo, 

Chap. YI,] the chukches of cheist. 47 

or to horning of a man as in Scotland, banishing him, or depriving him of 
his estate, &c., thej' have confided, I say, in the magistrate's power, and in 
his punishment, more than in excommunication, or else why have they 
recourse to it to make a man repent ? Whereas if they would wholly leave 
it unto God to inflict that which he hath ordained to be the punishment, and 
that sufficient too (for all his means are sufficient, as the apostle says, ' the 
weapons of our warfare are mighty through God to revenge all disobedience '), 
2 Cor. X. 4, it would prove efficacious enough to all ends and purposes, 
and sufficient for such a man would that punishment be. But because they 
put confidence in an arm of flesh to bring him in, as if that were more an 
eft'ectual means than the power of God, therefore God makes his ordinance 
to be but as an arm of flesh, and to have no other effect or fruit than what 
the magistrate's punishment hath, 

3. It is with this as with all other ordinances, which do not always attain 
their end which they are principally ordained for, because that God works 
freely by them. Preaching is ordained to convert, yet there are millions of 
men to whom the word is preached upon whom it hath not this effect ; for 
although they have all heard, yet they have not all believed, Rom. x. 18. 
It is enough that God hath ordained it to such an end, and it takes place in 
some, as the apostle speaks ; and so also hath this very ordinance wrought 
in that very way, as divers instances might be shewn. 

4. Jesus Christ always fulfils what he hath promised : Mat. xviii. 20, ' I 
will be with you, and in the midst of you,' either to bless this my ordinance 
by giving repentance, or giving up to a reprobate sense.* So as excom- 
munication hath usually its eftect one way or other, the man is given up unto 
Satan ; and if it have not that direct effect of terrifying of him, so as to bring 
him to repentance, he is given up to a reprobate sense, that Satan entering 
into him as into Judas, so that he turneth a persecutor, as was frequent in 
the primitive times, that men once excommunicated turned persecutors ; they 
forsook the assemblies of the saints, which was a step to the sin against the 
Holy Ghost, Heb. x. 25-27. When they were thrown out, they would come 
at them no more, and so were given up unto Satan for ever. 

Obj. In Mat. xviii. 17, all that is said is only, ' Let him be to thee as an 
heathen and a publican.' 

Ans, 1. There he speaks in the language of the Jews, and so expresseth 
excommunication only by what easting out of the synagogues was amongst 
them ; as elsewhere Christ expresseth the ordinances of the gospel, under 
the Jewish phrase, ' Leave thy gift at the altar,' Mat. v. 24. Now the Jews 
did not know what it was to be delivered unto Satan, and therefore no 
wonder if Christ did not expressly speak of it in that place of Mat. xviii. 17. 

But, 2, one place expounds another, and that which he calleth there. 
Mat. xviii. 17, ' Let him be to thee an heathen and a publican,' is in 1 Cor. v. 
called a delivering unto Satan. 

Then, 3, this delivering unto Satan was exemplified in the punishment of 
Judas, for after he was gone out (as it is judged by Piscator and others, he 
did not receive the Lord's supper, but was sent out) presently the devil 
entered into him ; he was a branch cast out, John xv. 6. 

4. Though our Saviour Christ expresseth it to them in the Jewish 
language in Mat. xviii. 17, yet to the same apostles when this ordinance of 
excommunication came to be exercised in a church, his Spirit expresseth 
more fully what was the intent of that ordinance, not simply to throw a man 
out, to avoid outward converse with him, and in that sense to be as an 
heathen and a publican, but to be a delivering unto Satan. So that as the 
* Parlverus de PoHt. Eccles. lib. cap, 5. 


chnrch of the gospel in the privileges of it exceedeth that of the law, and 
that privilege thej had in the synagogues, so the disprivileging of a man 
from the communion of the saints under the gospel hath an higher punish- 
ment than the sj^nagogues knew. 

5. When Christ said, let him be to thee as an heathen and a publican, he 
expresseth there not so much what the church's censure pitcheth upon, but 
what the consequent is, viz., the manner of their converse afterwards towards 
him, therefore he saith, let him be to thee ; he saith, not only let him be to 
the church, but to thee ; he expresseth it by what is the consequent, but in 

1 Cor. V. 5, he expresseth the formal sentence, when the apostle saith, ' No 
not with such an one to eat' ; he expresseth there indeed the consequent of 
the sentence, but delivering unto Satan is put into the sentence itself. 

I shall urge one argument more to prove that excommunication is not 
merely an human ejection out of a society, but an ordinance in the church 
established by Christ's institution, because Christ hath given us express rules 
for church admonitions and censures ; we find as direct rules chalked out for 
the series and order of proceedings therein, as any state can take for order- 
ing proceedings in civil causes. 

1. For the matter of Christ's censures, what we are to censure in men, 
and how we must apply those censures, we have our limits and rules in the 
word, so as we need no orders or canons to be made to make new matter, 
or the chief matter of church censures ; for plainly it is told us that sin only 
is the subject of church cognisance, that it is a transgression of some law of 
God : ' Them that sin (says Paul to Timothy, 1 Tim. v. 20) rebuke.' Now, 
what is sin and not sin, the word is the sole judge of, and a perfect rule of. 

And 2. It is scandalous sin that is the matter of censure, sin judged so 
by common light, and received principles ; sin that goes afore to judgment, 
that you may read afar off, 1 Tim. v. 24. Doubtful disputations and sins 
controverted are not to be made the subject of church censures ; for if the 
weak are not to be received to such, then neither are they to be cast out for 
such. Instruction may be used to consciences ignorant, as the phrase is, 

2 Tim. ii. 25 ; but admonition only for sins taken forgi'anted, and professed 
to be sins by the light of nature, and the common light of saints, 1 Cor. v. 
1, 8, 3 ; ' For how else shall all fear ' ? 1 Tim. v. 20. 

2. For the ways of dealing with such sinners, we have admonition, ex- 
communication, and rejection prescribed. 

(1.) Admonition : ' Them that sin rebuke,' 1 Tim. v. 20, and that not 
privately (if the sin be open), but publicly, afar off, to the end others may 

(2.) For excommunication we have warrant, after admonition : Titus, iii. 
10, * After the first and second admonition, reject,' which, in 1 Cor. v. 5, is 
called, ' delivering unto Satan,' &c. 

(3.) We have order given for the degrees of proceedings in these, as 
orderly as any law can make provision, for the indemnity of men innocent 
and just, proceeding in any civil court in order to amend men. 

1. If the sin be private, so as thou alone knowest it, ' That thy brother 
sin against thee,' Mat. xvi. 11, 15, ' Go and tell him his fault, between him 
and thee alone, if he hear and repent (as it is Luke xvii. 3), thou shalt for- 
give him,' and it shall go no further. This provision hath Christ took to 
preserve the reputation of persons, so to mend them as not to blaze their 
faults ; and this not for one so sinning, but if seven times, that is, never so 
oft, Luke xvii. 4. 

2. If he neglect to hear thee, that is, repents not, then take two or three 
and tell him of it afore them, and if he denies not the fact, and yet repents 

Chap. "VI.] the churches of christ. 49 

not, then thou hast two or three witnesses of his not denying the fact, and 
yet of his obstinacy and hardness in not relenting, and of his impenitency ; 
so it follows, ' That in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word may 
be established,' that is, brought into public. 

Therefore, 3. Now the matter, though but private at first, is ripened for 
church cognisance : 'If he neglect to hear them, tell it to the church.' But 
if it were a sin that is public, that it is, though privately committed, yet 
made known, commonly reproved, and so commonly known, as it is 1 Cor. 
V. 1, then the church is to take immediate notice of it publicly, without 
telling it in private ; and those that can accuse, should impeach, as 1 Cor. 
V. he shews, and also 1 Tim. v. 20. 

But, 4, if it be a sin that is suspected, and cannot be proved (whether 
commonly reported or private), and that by two or three witnesses, the offi- 
cers are to cast it out of the church proceeding, and not to receive it : ' Re- 
ceive not an accusation,' so as to proceed in it, unless it appears evident by 
two or three witnesses. This rule is given about admonishing officers, 2 
Tim. V, 19 ; but it regards also every man else, Mat. xviii. IG. Then, when 
any sin is thus made of public congnisauce, 1, they are to admonish; 2, 
to excommunicate in case of obstinacy and impenitence. 

To conclude all in a word : if Christ had not settled by his institution the 
order, discipline, and government of his churches ; if he had not given 
established rules for church censures, admonitions, and excommunication ; 
if a certain platform of church government had not been fixed by him, we 
should have no warrant to endeavour a reformation, when the order and dis- 
cipline of the churches of Christ is impaired, and almost lost; for there would 
be no rule to go by in such a reformation. And without a rule of divine 
institution, there could be no setting things right when amiss, no 6/og' 
dunjg, as the apostle calls it, Heb, ix. 10. Nor could we produce any 
warrant to advance the spiritual sceptre and kingdom of our Lord Christ, 
if we did not know, by the rules and laws of his own institution, what it is. 



BOOK 11. 

Of the divine institution of a congregational church. — That it is not secondary, 
or consequent iq^on a charter given to tlie church universal, as virtually in- 
cluded therein, but is immediate and proper to it. — That Christ instituted such 
a church in Mat. xviii. and gave the pou-er of the keys to it. — That such con- 
gregational churches u-ere primitive and apostolical, liroved from the instances 
(f churches planted by the apostles. — Tliat the constitution and order of such 
churches, is most fitly suited for the edif cation of the saints, and most exactly 
accommodated to their various conditions — That Christ hath not only insti- 
tuted a congregational church, but hath appiointed what the extent and limits 
of it should be. 


That the institution of particular churches is not virtual only, or secondary, 
and dependent on the charter given to the church universal, but immediate 
and proper to them, as particular churches. 

They who assert the general church to be a pohtical body, seem to be divided 
into those two several ways of explaining it : 1. That it cometh to be a po- 
litical body ascendendo, so making a congregation to be ecclesia p)rima, a 
church first designed in the institution, and which the institution falleth 
upon ; but yet, that by the virtue of the same commission, that saints make 
up a particular church, many churches may make up one church, and more 
of those churches may make up a greater church, for appeals, &c. And so, 
by the like reason, the universal church cometh to be a political body, the 
national or provincial churches being but ecclesicB orUc, removes from, and 
representations of those that are ecclesia; primer., the first churches, which are 
congregations. This opinion I shall consider when I come to discourse of 
the nature of synods, and their subordination. 

2. Others form the institution to be descendendo, as asserting the first 
principal charter to be given to the church universal, so as that is by insti- 
tution first a church, and particular congregations have it but by a derived 
right, as lesser leases have theirs out of a greater charter. And the reason 
that is given is this, that when the church universal was but so many (or if 
it were again reduced to so small a number) as might meet in one place, they 
met by virtue of being the church universal ; but that it afterwards was mul- 
tiplied to so many as that they must meet in several places, which is the 
occasion of forming particular churches ; this is accidental and occasional, 
and so they are to be regarded as one church still, and so that first funda- 
mental institution goes on. For number or multiplication of churches is not 
the object of God's institution ; for God ordained not first that churches 
should be many. If these many particular churches are framed, it is with 
proviso and sub conditione, namely, only when they are so far multiplied. 

Chap. I.] the churches of christ. 51 

Nor did Christ give such command, that when they did arise to such a num- 
ber, they should make several churches ; only necessity doth that, which yet 
still proceeds by virtue of the general grant. 

But to refute this, consider, 1. That if there had been a time in which 
the universal church was so small under the New Testament, living also to- 
gether, as they might have met in one place, they had not met by virtue of 
their being the universal church, or being a mystical body to Christ, as the 
church universal is ; for they had been a church mystical unto Christ, though 
they had not so met, even as the church mystical now is a body to Christ, 
though it never doth thus meet. Yea, those saints who then made this 
church universal might have worshipped apart, and singly, and God might 
have ordered it so ; therefore, that they should meet, and meet together 
fixedly for supernatural ends and ordinances, this dependeth over and above, 
upon a special will of God superadded to this universal church as such. If, 
therefore, when the universal church was no more than could meet in one 
place, it must have had for those fixed meetings, and the privileges of them, 
a divine appointment, and if it met then, it must be by virtue of a special 
institution ; then, afterward, when it was divided into many congregations, 
they must meet by a special divine institution too. If the universal church 
was no more than could meet in one, yet they must then have, for those 
fixed meetings, met by a special institution and privileges, and afterward, 
when they are many, they met by the same special institution also ; and 
so what at fii'st suited their condition, when they were no more than could 
meet in one place, suiteth their condition afterward, when they are mul- 

2. They could not then meet qua universal catholic church, for the uni- 
versal catholic church is called such in respect of its being in all nations, 
both Jews and Gentiles. Whereas the institution of a particular church is 
the same, whether there be no more saints than can meet in one place at 
once, or whether there be more. When they are many, those many do set 
up several congregations, upon the same special ground that the universal 
church did set up a meeting. And the universal church did so meet in a 
congregation, by a special superadded ground over and above their being a 

' church universal, for it further depended upon God's will, that they should 
all meet thus together fixedly ; for they might have met but occasionally 
sometimes, and they might have met in several companies, or they might 
have worshipped privately, and God's ordinance might only have been so 
administered; for if they meet for these ordinances qua church universal, 
then in heaven they should meet for them too. So, then, that they should 
meet in one fixed society for public worship, is by institution. And, 

3. This institution of meeting together, was rather made and suited for the 
saints when multiplied, than in respect of their being one body as an univer- 
sal church. 

For, 1, under the New Testament there never was a time that we know 
of, after the Jewish law came to be dissolved, that this universal church 
could meet in one ; for although not at Jerusalem, yet surely in whole 
Judea there were more scattered up and down than could have met in one 

2. Under the New Testament, when the church universal is multiplied to 
all nations, in respect of which it is called the church catholic, by way of 
distinction from the Jews, then it is so scattered as that they cannot meet 
together, no, not by way of representation. So as, indeed, this pretended 
principle, that institutions should mainly fall upon the church universal, is 
such as was never practised, nor extant de facto, neither at first nor at last. 


Then, 3, we may observe that God did frame the institution of his 
chnrches, according to what, in the wisdom of his counsel, he hath deter- 
mined and foresaw would fall out. His institutions are such, as he in 
wisdom knew would best suit the condition of saints in all ages to come, 
under the gospel. He therefore ordered particular congregations, as the 
most commodious seat of public worship, government, and order, and as the 
best and fittest security to preserve the saints from scandal, and also the 
means of maintaining among them the most entire kind of communion which 
could be attained. 

That particular congregations do not meet as assemblies for public wor- 
ship and ordinances, by virtue of a charter given first to the church univer- 
sal, is evident from these reasons. 

1. If they do meet by virtue of the general charter of the church universal, 
and they needed no other warrant than that, then if they meet occasionally 
only, some saints together at one time, and others at another, and not fixedly, 
whether for government or worship, they do thereby satisfy the obligations 
they have by virtue of the general warrant. And, indeed, to make running 
churches and societies of saints up and down in the world, would more satisfy 
the obligation of the general charter, and come up more nearly to it. There- 
fore, for them to have a fixed special tie to particular churches in a constant 
way, when the churches are many, must needs be by a further special 

2. If they thus meet by virtue of their being the church universal, then 
they met by virtue of it only in all times, and then afore the law was given ; 
and so the same government that is now pleaded for, from the notion of the 
church universal, should have been then. And then, likewise, after the law, 
the Jews should have met by the law of the church catholic'; and if so, there 
should be now the like meeting for public worship of the whole church as 
was then, viz., three times a-year. Was their meeting by virtue of their 
catholic communion, or as they were a nation ? As they were a nation, 
surely ; for if multitudes out of other nations had been converted, they had 
not been (as the Ninevites, and the like, where they had not been bound to 
the ceremonial law, neither were the Jews themselves, that lived out of the 
land, dispersed) bound to come up to the Sanhedrim. And suppose that they 
had been the church universal, yet that they were cast into a national way 
v/as by institution, over and above that universal consideration, as they were 
the seed of Abraham. 

3. If the institution of a particular church depend on the charter first 
given to the church universal, then where there are more of believers, and 
more of elders, there would be more of the keys, if they had them by virtue 
of the universal church. For why ? There would be more of the universal 
church in such a body. The institution, therefore, must fall primarily upon 
their being a particular body to Christ, meeting in his name, by his special 
commission, though the persons be but two or three, that is, a few in number ; 
which argues that he doth not put his institution barely upon their member- 
ship or station in the church universal, but upon the formality of their being 
his body thus united ; his blessing is given to them, as formed up by insti- 
tution, whether they be saints more or fewer, as among the Jews also it was 
in their cities and towns, as well as they were a commonwealth in their 

According to this asserted charter of the church universal, whenas he saith, 

'Tell the church,' Mat. xviii. 19, it should be meant primarily of the church 

universal, for the institution and rule for church proceedings would fall first 

upon it. But he speaks plainly of a paiticular church (and the Christian 

Chap. IL] the churches of christ. 53 

church being as then to be gathered when he uttered it, if he would have 
made a charter to the universal, then had been the fittest time to have ex- 
pressed it) for he declareth his institution there, when he had but a few 
disciples about him, and those with him, and yet declareth his institution 
for all ages, to tell it to that next church whereof a man is a brother. And 
if the church universal had been intended here, then the church of the Jews 
had not been intended as the pattern, which would overthrow the main asser- 
tion of our presbyterian brethren. 

5. The truth is, that the meeting of the universal church is but occasional, 
for in all the ages that the church was to run through, it hath seldom been, 
3'ea, could never be. And when that which we call general councils have 
been, that they were rather for matter of docti'ine than for government, or 
for appeals about persons, and that the institution could not fall upon. It 
is true in Mat. xvi. 18, the word church is taken indefinitely, and for the 
church universal, but yet not as an institution political, therefore he doth not 
say, he will give the keys to it, but unto Peter, as representing both saints 
and ministers, to be divided into several bodies, as afterwards Christ should 
appoint it. 


Thai the grand charter of church government, or the power of the keys, is 
granted not to ministers in particular only, excltiding the people, but to the 
whole body of believers. 

If any were to set down the model of any government whatsoever, the 
first and most necessary thing is, to set out first what commonwealth, cor- 
poration, or body politic, should be the substratum, the seat of that govern- 
ment, in and among whom it is exercised ; and to set out the bounds 
and extent thereof, by which the jurisdiction of that government is limited, 
and unto which, as the subject matter thereof, all the particulars of that 
government are suited and proportioned, as the building is to its foundation ; 
and also the situation and measure of the ground which they make the seat 
thereof. Therefore, in the inquisition after that order and frame of govern- 
ment which, we conceive, Christ hath instituted for his church, it is most 
proper to begin in seeking out what kind of body or society it is which should 
be that proper, adequate, entire seat and subject of this government, what the 
bounds and extent thereof are wherein Christ would have his government 
exercised, and within which confined. I call the church sedes, or seat, not 
in allusion to that ancient phrase used for the subject of ecclesiastical juris- 
diction, which phrase yet strengthens this use of it, but in allusion to that 
Scripture phrase, 1 Tim. iii. 15, where he calls the church a^sa/w/xa, that 
is, the ' seat or ground of truth ;' and as of truth there, so, say I, of worship 
and government. This, therefore, as the foundation, shall be the subject of 
discourse, and upon the finding the true abutments hereof, doth the ending 
and determining of most of those suits and quarrels of this age about church 
government depend. The first charter granted by the founder, and the pat- 
terns of those master builders the apostles, and the proportions of those 
primitive churches, must be our guide herein. 

Begin we therefore to inquire what is the true purport of the first grand 
charter of all the rest, and what help that will contribute hereunto ; as we 
find in Mat. xvi. 19, ' And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of 
heaven : and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven ; 
whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.' 


1. Where, first, ho no sooner mentions (and it is the first mention) a new 
church to be builded by him under the New Testament, but he, together 
therewith, makes mention of keys, both as means of building it and of 
governing it, following the metaphor of a house therein. And Peter having 
newly made a confession that Jesus was the Son of God, he being declared 
and owned by him as such, Christ utters himself again to him, as the Son 
of God indeed, speaks of building and contriving anew of his house, as a 
prerogative proper to him as the Son, which to the same pui'pose the apostle 
in like manner allegeth : Heb. iii. 3-5, ' Christ as the Son over his own 
bouse, is the builder thereof,' which prerogative he here holds forth, saying, 
I will build my church, and I will give keys. The church he intends is the 
church of the New Testament, which (the Son being himself come) was to 
be moulded and built anew by him, especially after his ascension. And the 
keys he means are ' the keys of the kingdom of heaven ' (as the state of the 
church under the gospel is called), which, to shew he is the Son, and hath 
all power committed to him, he professeth to dispose of anew (as the keys 
themselves were new) to another sort of persons than before ; the keys of 
knowledge and government having been before in the hands of high priests 
and Levites, &c. Now as the church was to be of a new frame, and the 
keys were new, so he declares a new disposement of them to other persons 
than the former. So that this place strengthens the assertion that Christ 
as the Son is the builder of his church, Heb. iii. 3, 6, and the institutor of 
all power and means of building in it ; and also it proves that the frame and 
government of the church under the Old Testament, delivered by Moses to 
those that sat in his chair, cannot be a set rule of the frame and form of 
government of the church under the New. For Christ the Son being come, 
shews his prerogative by declaring the old to be done away with, saying, I 
will build, I will give the keys, &c. Whilst he speaks of a new, the old is 
done away ; yea, the persons to whom, and the extent and limits of the power 
are to be set out by him, as well as what those keys shall be by which he 
will build and have his church governed, and he therefore says to Peter, ' I 
do give to thee.' In that he singles him out electively, it argues his special 
designation of the subject or persons (whoever they be) to whom he will be- 
queath them. 

2. That Peter here, in this promise of the keys for the future to be given, 
should stand in a representative respect, and not merely personal, all writers 
in all ages and all sides, though in Peter's name laying several claims unto 
these keys, do universally acknowledge and observe. Some say the grant is 
to Peter only considered as a believer, having made confession of his faith, 
that Christ was the Son of God, and therefore representing the church of be- 
hevers, as unto whom all church power should be first given. Otbers assert 
this grant to be made to Peter as an apostle, and so representing the apostles 
and ministers only. Thirdly, others, as the papists, vindicate a personal 
privilege of Peter's above all other apostles, yet therein representing his sup- 
posed successor, the bishops of Rome. Learned Cameron almost alone 
would have it that this was a personal privilege to Peter, wherein none others 
did succeed him. Thus much seems evident to us, that our Saviour Christ 
speaks unto Peter under a double consideration in these words, ver. 19, and 
the words before. The one was merely personal, and therein he speaks to 
him under his own proper name, Simon son of Jonas, and so pronounceth 
him blessed, for that his confession, which accordingly expressed his personal 
privilege (which under that name he had even from circumcision) of his 
being saved, without any mention of the gift of the keys. But then, secondly, 
he gives him withal a new name, and ' I also say unto thee. Thou art Peter,' 

Chap. II.] the churches of cheist, 55 

or rock, which was a new and mystical name, as the words following shew, 
' upon this rock.' Usr^oc and 'jsT^a answ'erincf each other as fides and fideJis. 
And under this new name now put upon him he gives him a further privilege, 
' I will give to thee the keys,' namely, as thou art Peter. This was not so 
much in a personal as a mystical consideration, upon which his new name 
was given him. And to strengthen this, it may be observed that God in 
first delivering his promises and grand charters unto all sorts, singled out 
some one man in whose name the grand charter should eminently run. So 
Adam was fixed upon, when God, in his name, gave the earth unto the rest 
of the sons of men. So Abraham was singled out to represent the church, 
both of the Jews and Gentiles, but especially to represent the Jews who 
were his children, to whom God gave the promises of the Land of Canaan, 
as representing all his seed, and of the whole world as representing all the 
saints, Eom. iv. 13. And accordingly he did upon it change his name from 
Ahram to Abraham. Thus in like manner here doth Christ deal with Peter. 
He first blesseth him personally as Simon, then changeth his name to Peter, 
and so bequeaths this charter of the keys, in his like representation of others, 
to whom in him the grant is made, as well as to himself. For Peter was still 
more forward than all the rest to utter his faith that Christ was the Son of 
God. Elsewhere indeed (as in John vi. G9) he speaks in the person of all 
the apostles, but here, where this grant is first uttered, singly in his own ; 
and on this occasion Christ honoureth this great and eminent confessor of 
him, as that man in whose name this great charter should run, he bearing 
therein the persons of all sorts that were to have any portion of power, 
whether of his apostles, extraordinary officers, or of ordinary officers, as also 
of the church of believers, and even of all to whom ever any portion of the 
keys was for the future to be given : yet so as this honour was peculiarly 
his, and he is singled out to be this common representer of all others under 
the New Testament, which honour he doth bear to this day in his name, 
even as Abraham had the like honour under the Old Testament. And to 
evidence this the more by the event, Christ did in an especial manner honour 
Peter to be the founder; as it were, and beginner of the new Christian church 
(as Cameron hath observed out of Tertullian) when he converted that multi- 
tude at one sermon, Acts ii. 

Neither yet is this to be understood, as if those keys were given unto Peter 
to convey the keys unto others derivatively, but he takes them representa- 
tively (and therefore it was not necessary that all power should be in Peter's 
person as an apostle, otherwise than representatively) and that not repra- 
sentatione reali, as if he received all power for the church over her, as a king 
or a parliament doth, who represents a commonwealth (as the papists and 
episcopal divines and others say of the officers, that they represent the 
church) but only repraseutatione typicali, a typical representation (as Baynes 
distinguisheth), that is, that power which the church, or others that were 
officers unto her, should receive in themselves afterwards, he now received 
in a representation both of her and them, as a common person standing for 
and spoken to for all the rest. And Christ therefore doth not say / [lire, 
which if he had spoken to him as an apostle, constituting him such thereby 
at present, he would have done, but / u-ill (jire, for the future, because many 
of those whom Peter represented here the power was afterwards to be given 
to, when the Lord should be pleased to declare it by himself or his apostle. 
3. Further, as all this is spoken of Peter here as a representative person, 
so in an indefinite and general way. And as it is the first great promise and 
charter, in which all particular portions of power, to whomsoever afterwards 
distributed, are included, so likewise as the other first and great promises of 


God use to be, this is as comprehensive, so indefinite also, not designing at 
particulars. Such was that grant of the earth to the sons of men, whom 
afterward God divided into several nations, to whom by his providence, suited 
to his decrees, he set out the bounds of their several habitations, Acts xvii. 26, 
and in Deut. xxiii. 8. The like was that first charter made of Canaan to 
Abraham, which was afterwards particularly designed out by lot to the 
several tribes, &c., whose right was yet all indefinitely comprehended, and 
intended in that first grant to Abraham. So accordingly all the expressions 
in this promise are general and indistinct, and to be taken in an indefinite 
and comprehensive Avay. 

1. As first, where he saith, he will build his church, it is hard to know 
how to limit it, for he means all sort of churches ; he means the mystical 
church, for he saith, 'The gates of hell shall not prevail against it,' which 
is only true thereof, for they have prevailed against particular churches, and 
may ; and yet again he must include particular churches too, for it is certain 
that the mystical general church hath not the power and exercise of all the 
keys, but only as divided into particular churches, or if it might be supposed 
to have the keys of rule in general councils, yet not of the sacraments, not 
of preaching the word, for, as for such ordinances, that church cannot meet, 
and therefore exerciseth them only in several parts, and divisions of itself. 

2. Those words, the keys, are a general comprehensive expression, an- 
swerable to that of the word church, taking in keys of all sorts, viz., the keys 
whereby the universal church, as such, is built and reared, that is, those 
means whereby men are converted and made members thereof, which God 
oftentimes blesseth in the hands of others than ministers. And they are 
therefore called * the keys of the kingdom of heaven ' at large, not the keys 
of the church, as restraining it to a political church ; and therefore (as Bel- 
larmine, though to a wrong purpose, urged, namely, for the transcendency 
of the pope's power above the church, yet for the thing itself rightly) is larger 
than that in Mat. xviii. It is there meant of a church political, but the keys 
here in Mat. xvi. 19 have relation to the opening tlie door of faith, as in 
Acts xiv. 27 it is called, and therefore implies all means of conversion. And 
accordingly the opposite thereunto is the gates of hell, which shall not pre- 
vail. And yet again, on the other side, the keys or the power that is given 
to particular churches are intended, for this is the general grant, afterwards 
settled in Mat. xviii., where * Go tell the churches ' is mentioned. And the 
binding and loosing spoken of there is comprehended under the binding and 
loosing which is spoken of here ; so as churches of all sorts, and keys of 
all sorts, keys given to churches in a way of discipline, and to private per- 
sons to build up one another, keys given to officers of all sorts, apostles and 
others, are all here intended. And therefore Melancthon well saith, Claves 
eccleskc data; sunt, sed juxta electionem a Christo institatam. And it is cer- 
tain that in Mat. xviii. he instituteth a church power, as touching the per- 
sons to whom it belongs, distinct from Peter's, and that of the apostles as 
such ; and yet whatsoever church power there mentioned was to be in any, 
Peter receiveth it here. And as when we say all civil power is in a kingdom, 
it is meant, sensu diviso, the king hath one part, the nobles another, the 
people another ; and the several oflacers of a kingdom, they have their part; 
and so it is here, and all at the first was now given unto Peter, as bearing 
the person of all these. 

4. Whereas the controversy hath been, whether Peter represented the 
apostles and the ministers only, or whether he represented the church also, 
or whether Peter is here personally to be taken as the sole and single sub- 
ject of a personal privilege ; we say all these are here intended by Christ 

Chap. II.] the churches of cheist. 


in this his first promise, uttering it himself in this indefinite way, which was 
afterwards to be further and more distinctly divided, and set out by himself 
and his apostles. So that whether Peter had it granted to him as an apostle, 
and as an apostle representing apostles and other ministers, we will not 
contend ; but yet, that Peter had it also representing the church itself, and 
saints built upon the rock, the arguments are as convincing and concluding 
to prove it, if not more, than those that on the other side are framed to prove 
the words should be spoken of him as an apostle representing the other 
apostles and elders ; and therefore we safely take in all. The main argu- 
ment urged to prove that it is spoken to him as an apostle, is drawn from 
this, that the person spoken unto, viz. Peter, was an apostle, and the other 
apostles were present, and so intended ; and therefore this grant here should 
be restrained to Peter and them as such. And the arguments for the other, 
namely, that ordinary believers also should be intended, is taken from the 
occasion and gx'ound of Christ's speech, which was a confession of faith made 
by Peter, and therefore that Christ should take in, and intend other ordinary 
believers and confessors to have an interest in the keys, as well as elders 
and apostles, and accordingly to have been by Peter represented. So as the 
pleas of this suit (so far as concerns this place) do lie between the sort of 
persons spoken to, and that were present, and the qualification of that person 
as a believer, namely, and the ground of Christ's speech ; and all the argu- 
ments that are brought to prove they were given him as an apostle, are not 
exclusive that they are not given him also as a believer. Austua's expres- 
sion, Non tantum Petro, sed ecclesia, not to Peter (that is, as an apostle) 
only, but also to the church, doth rightly divide the share between both. 

The occasion of the promise was Peter's confessing that Christ was the 
Son of God, which holds forth nothing proper unto ministers only, or him- 
self as an apostle only ; and therefore the privilege here must be common 
unto that sort that make confession of faith, as well as to ministers. It was 
a common faith confessed, not of what belonged unto apostles only, but unto 
believers ; the promise is therefore suited unto the occasion. And this is a 
stronger inference than that other which is brought, that he represented the 
other apostles only, namely, because that they were present, whenas Peter 
here did not intend to speak it in their names, as in John vi. 69 he did ; 
but rather, he steps out and prevented them, and therefore also Christ speaks 
first unto him in his personal condition, ' Blessed art thou, Simon Bar- Jonas ;' 
and then in his representative condition, as representing those whose faith 
he had confessed, as well as the apostles, whom, if only or simply Christ 
had intended that he should represent, he might have spoken to them all as 
well as to Peter, they being then present. 

And then, again, his name, Fetros, Peter, which Christ here anew gives 
him, with the reason of it, viz. ' upon the rock,' &c., in an allusion to Pe- 
tra, signifying one built on the rock, and so of the same nature with the 
rock, argues this to have been Christ's scope in promising to him the keys. 
This change of his name thus into Peter elegantly served to suit and answer 
the thing which Christ was speaking, namely, the bmlding his church on 
the rock, whereon Peter, thus confessing himself, was built. ' Thou art 
Peter,' that is. Thou art built on this rock, thou art a stone in this rock, and 
unto thee as such I speak. And further, he doth not say, lliou shalt be 
called Peter, but Thou art Peter, that is. Thou art a stone, thou art built on 
a rock ; and thus it answereth to his being a believer, which is all one as to 
be a member of the church so built, and therefore it is spoken of Peter, con- 
sidered in the person of believers, built with the rest of the church upon the 
rock, as well as the apostles, whose privilege alone this was not ; aud it is 


farther observable, that of all the apostles, this Peter, here spoken to, should, 
if only intended, alone use this very similitude to this particular purpose, and 
in eftect apply what is said here of himself, Thou art Peter, to all believers, 
in 1 Peter ii. 5, ' Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house,' 
&c. ; as if he had said, It is not I only that am the Peter that Christ in- 
tended ; it was not spoken to me, but unto jou. all. And his expression in 
2 Peter ii. 1 is all one with this in his first, ' To all that have received like 
precious faith with us,' i. e. with me ; as in 3 John 9 John saith, « that 
receiveth not us,' that is, that receiveth not me. And almost all divines 
of all sides do thus far yield this : they say the keys are given primarily to 
the faithful, only they explain it and say, they are given in honuvi ecdesicr, 
for the good of the church, but unto the officers of it. 

Ohj. 1. If it be said that if they be given to Peter as a believer, then unto 
all believers, to women and children, and the like. 

Ans. The answer is, first, when it is said the keys are given to a behever, 
it is to be understood not rediiplieatire, as if only and to all such all sorts 
of the keys are given ; but extensive, that is, to Peter, as representing believers 
also, and not barely as an apostle, but yet such believers as after should be 
more specially determined to have their share in them. For they are given 
unto believers, in Peter representing such, according to Christ's disposement, 
alter to be declared. It is an indefinite charter, to be formed up by him 
afterwards, only now declaring that those of that sort should have them. 
And Christ hath afterwards made a peculiar exception of women not to 
speak nor to usurp authority in the church, 1 Cor. xiv. 34 ; w'hich being an 
exception, it must be from a rule, and so, finnat regulam, argues and con- 
firms that the rule is, that males have liberty and power to speak and judge 
in some cases. And yet, secondly, even they have a sprinkling of the keys 
in their proportion, if you take keys in that large sense before explained ; for 
the keys of conversion and edification may be, through God's blessing, in 
their hands. Their speeches and instructions in private may, and often do, 
convert and edify the souls of others ; thus, Titus ii. 4, ' That the aged 
women may teach ' (namely, by private instructions and the like) ' the 
younger women to be sober, to love their husbands.' And other of them 
may be instruments to convert or build up servants and children, friends, 
&c., in their families ; yea, ' their husbands may be won without the word, 
by their chaste conversation,' 1 Peter iii. 2. Yea, and as members of a 
church, they have power to bind sin upon a man, in private personal admoni- 
tion first, which is a degree, and in order to that public, if a man repents 
not, which yet personal admonitions of others to those not in church fellow- 
ship (as in England formerly) are not in order unto. For when a woman 
doth tell a man of his sin, if she makes it out and prove it, she tells it him 
with this bond upon him, that if he repent not, she bringeth it to the church ; 
and so she binds him before and in the church, which she doth as a fellow- 
member, though not as a judge. And the same sentence that a woman hath 
thus pronounced in private against him, the same the church afterward 
ratifies, even as what the church ratifies is bound in heaven. The mistake 
of the objection lies in this, to infer that because women have not the autho- 
rity, the public power of the keys, that therefore they have no power of the 
keys committed to them, whereas none have all that others have, not the 
apostles themselves. 

Ohj. 2. If further it be objected, that the keys are given to others than 
believers, as to ministers, though not true believers ; — 

Ans. The answer is : Yet so as that they are visibly believers, or they ought 
not to be ministers ; so Judas was. And so if it be given to ministers only, 

Chap. III.] the churches of christ. 59 

and apostles, it is supposed that they are faithful : ' The things that thou 
hast heard, commit to faithful men, that they may teach others,' 2 Tim. 
ii. 2. ' Just, sober, holy,' Titus i. 18. 

Ohj. 3. And if it be said further, that then they are given to believers 
singly, and out of church fellowship ; 

Ans. The answer is : Although they are here given to believers materially, 
yet formally, but as built up in a church, according as Christ should after 
order it. And if we speak of the judiciary power, elders themselves must 
needs be supposed to be set over a church ere those keys are given unto 
them ; and so also what is granted to saints hereof, those keys must needs 
fall under the same supposition. But if we speak of the keys in a larger 
sense, so they are given to all and every one singly, whether they be in 
church fellowship or no. Now, Christ's grant here being general and inde- 
finite, though it takes in all, yet each according to Christ's order ; and so if 
the judiciary keys ai*e said to be intended, they must be understood to be here 
given, as Christ afterwards should particularly design how they should lie 
exercised, and that is, and can be, only in church society ; and whether by 
saints or elders only, as they are rightly formed up into fixed bodies. 

But for a conclusion, that which from this place we take along with us, 
towards the finding out the seat or subject of church power, is this, that the 
keys were indefinitely and materially here given, as well to saints as elders, 
in the person of Peter, in their several proportion, and afterwards were 
particularly determined, and held forth in the rules and examples set by the 


That before a covipany of believers or saints can become the formal seat of 
(jovermnent, they m^ist be united into the state and order of a church. — 
Reasons given ichy this is necessary. — A demonstration of it also from the 
example of the j)rimitive churches, 2)lanted by the apostles. 

This first charter, or grant of the keys, both to the saints and officers, 
being but indefinite, and given unto them as materially considered, as the 
command and blessing to multiply, is to men, Gen. i. ; ere these can become 
the formal seat of government or public worship, there must be an orderly 
moulding and casting of this matter, both saints and officers, into several 
bodies or societies, for the exercise of these keys ; which both the necessity 
of the thing requires, and also the examples in the New Testament do wai'- 
rant and confirm unto us. 

1. The necessity of the thing requires it. 

For, first, otherwise there would be no order, which in the church of the 
Colossians the apostle doth so praise in them. He might have commended 
the saints in that city for their personal holiness, the teachers among them 
for their gifts, but he further rejoiceth in their order. And as order in any 
multitude or company of men primarily respects their union into a body for 
such ends and purposes among themselves as thereby they seek to attain, 
so here in this case cpiod non est forinatnm, non est vere uniim, what is not 
formed is not truly one. This outward order is as the form that gives the 
unity. An heap of stones is not one body so properly as an house, although 
the parts in such a heap be homogeneal, and of one and the same kind ; and 
the other consists of several materials, heterogeneal, and of several kinds, as 
wood, stone, iron, clay, &c. Yea, and the indefinite collection of all such 
materials into one heap are not a building, although they be squared and 


fitted to be joined each to other, the beams and rafters by their tenons and 
mortices and the like ; but that all these should be reared, and artificially 
erected into one building, it is that which makes them one body, in such 
a respect as the other are not. 

2. Secondly, There would otherwise be no government at all. When God 
gave forth that law, Gen. ix, 6, ' He that sheddeth man's blood, by man shall 
his blood be shed ;' over and above this indefinite commission given, it was 
necessary for the due and orderly execution hereof that there should be 
orderly societies of men, which should be the seat of a government by which 
this punishment should be exercised. God's way in this law, and so Christ's 
meaning in that gift of the keys. Mat. xvi. 19, cannot be like to that which 
Cain, through the horror of his conscience, feared, that any man or every man 
that met him might kill him. So neither is it indefinitely and promiscuously 
in the power of any, the next company of saints and elders, to judge an 
offending brother. And reason confirms this ; for, 1, it is this form and 
orderly union of them into a body that makes any company the seat of 
government, and to have a power among them ; and how can there be true 
government without a seat of jurisdiction in which it must be exercised ? 
And that must be a body politic, according to the nature or kind of the 
government or polity exercised in it ; if civil, then it is a commonwealth or 
corporation, &c. ; if ecclesiastical, it is a church. A politic body is not 
made up by a multitude, for then a company of men at a horse-race were 
such ; nor is it local union in the same place, for so at a stage play a throng 
or a crowd meeting would be such. 

As forms in natural bodies are necessary to constitute them such as well 
as matter, so an union and moulding into one is needful to constitute a body 
politic ; yea, a judicial power doth as much depend upon a formahty of order 
as it doth upon a material qualification of persons. Take a company of 
ministers, or what sort of persons else, however qualified or denominated, 
they have not that power (which yet doth belong to ministers) indefinitely, 
or as any way met, but as formed up into bodies, as a power in a kingdom 
is not given to justices of peace indefinitely or promiscuously met, but as met 
according to commission in several circuits and distinct bodies from them. 
Burgesses of parliament, although lawfully chosen to be such, yet they have 
not parliamentary power, but as met in parliament according to the law of 
the kingdom ; and the legality of the meeting doth give as much power and 
authority as the qualification of the persons. The authority is the result of 
union, and that legally and lawfully made, as well as it is founded in persons 
fitly qualified. Power in civil things is not so much given to mayors and 
aldermen as to the corporation; though the whole '.corporation exerciseth it 
not, yet it is their privilege, and they have such and such a power amongst 
them ; it is not alone the privilege of the magistrates so much. That 
heathenish town-clerk of Ephesus, when the men of that city met in a 
promiscuous way (and perhaps the very same men of that city had panegyrical 
meetings for some acts of government, as election of magistrates and the hke), 
yet because then they met not according to the order of that city, he says of 
it that it was an illegal fxxXjjty/a, assembly. 

3. Without this union and order of society, persons offended, that ought 
to complain, should not have whither to go to accuse, or the party offended 
be obliged to come. Nor would it be known whose the care and duty were 
to take on them the cognisance and judging of it, and whose sin it was if it 
were neglected. If these companies of elders and saints in a great city were 
fluid and promiscuous, and but like such companies as met at sights, or 
shows, or ordinances, without any incorporation or embodying, so as all being 

Chap, III.] the churches of christ. 61 

in an equal liberty to go one day to this, another to that, company, &c., the 
same persons never met in one place unless casually and providentially. 
If twelve such meetings were in one such city, what shall oblige me to any 
one more than the rest ? If I come to receive in any one, and they upon 
occasion would proceed judicially to deal with me, I might plead and say, 
I am no more accountable to you than the rest, I receive as often with 
them as with you, I belong as much to other assemblies as to you ; and what 
have you to do to judge me more than they? And besides, it being (in this 
way) but providential that the same persons the offender is accused unto 
to-day should meet in one place another day, when ail have an indifferent 
liberty, without any set or fixed incorporation, at the utmost it is but his 
forbearing to assemble with the company for that time or in that place any 
more, and retire unto those other, for he is at his freedom so to do. 

Again, in this case, all that any of those companies can inflict upon him 
is but for that time to suspend him from communion with them ; but to pro- 
ceed to excommunication they cannot, not only because that imports a fixed 
company he is cast out of, but also because there is nothing to oblige him to 
attend that company to be so often admonished, as his sin shall become an 
obstinacy and fit matter for excommunication. Or what shall oblige those 
of this individual company to whom the complaint first came, that they in re- 
lation to and for his censure's sake should meet so often together, as that he 
may be publicly admonished by them so many times as in the end deservedly 
to be thrown out ? 

Yea, 4, this union and order must needs hold in such societies where the 
very punishment is to cast out of that body they were first within, for to cast 
out and to be within are correspondent, and answer each to other. Now the 
punishment to be exercised is not only a personal withdrawing by every man 
apart (as occasionally they should meet him), but a sentence publicly agreed 
on ; and the sentence then in use in the primitive churches was to cast out 
of the church, John iii. 10 (as to expel and cast out of a city, or town, or 
family), which unless they were a body formed up among themselves, and he 
one within to them, they could not do. 

II. As the necessity of the thing, so the examples of those primitive 
churches argues them to have been formed and fixed bodies that were the 
seat of worship and government, and do agree with these fore-mentioned 
principles. :; 

First, The very denomination of churches (as of churches in Judea, Galatia, 
&c.) doth fall in with and confirm that first reason, that the saints and elders 
in those coimtries were cast into distinct and several bodies, and diversified 
by several corporations and relations. It imports not a distinction of them 
only as saints materially from the world (as the universal church whereof they 
are parts doth), but a distinction of them into several companies among 
themselves, namely, the universal and great church parted into several lesser 
companies and churches. Nor can those set and fixed titles arise from 
several promiscuous acts of meeting of these saints and elders providentially, 
but it includes, in the Holy Ghost's language, a settled state and incor- 
poration in order to settled meetings. As the word preshyterij notes out not 
simply a company of elders, but united into a body for government ; so the 
phrase churches imports not simply a company of saints and elders met, but 
a stated society ; so as when the union of their actual meeting is dissolved, 
they still continue the same, as the companies in London are still so many 
companies in state, though not in act, when every man is gone to his own 
house, as well as when met in their common hall. They are not only a body 
because or when they actually meet, but they are a body in order to meeting, 


and there is a power in their governors to call them together again. And 
this also all the comparisons of an house to God, &c. (speaking of particular 
churches), implies, not simply acts of meeting, but a compacted state. 

And that the churches then in the primitive times of Christianity were 
such bodies is evident, for, 1 Cor. xiv., the apostle calls not only a parti- 
cular church an whole church (as likewise elsewhere, Acts xx. 28, the church 
of Ephesus is called the 'whole flock, '-^ and that at Corinth ' a whole lump,' 
1 Cor. V. 6, each therefore making a distinct body, an whole and entire body, 
bounded within itself, as any other corporation is) : but further, he speaks 
of that church as importing a stated union in relation to meeting actually : 
• If the whole church,' says he, ver. 23, ' come together.' They were there- 
fore a church in order to meeting, even when they met not, and are at home, 
in respect that the union and bond to the same laws and ordinances still re- 
mained. They were not a church simply because they met or when they 
met, but they, the same persons, were to meet because they were a church 
in a stated and constant relation. And suitably to this, he elsewhere says 
of them, ' When you are gathered together to cast out such an one,' 1 Cor. 
V. 4, 5, because they were to meet as a body in a constant way. And upon 
this fixed relation of each unto the whole, the apostle lays upon this same 
church this as a duty, as to meet for worship, so to stay each for other, in 
1 Cor. xi. 33, and so not to meet in promiscuous several companies (as men 
at ordinaries) for the sacrament. There was therefore a set company known 
to each other, obliged to meet in one in a constant way, and so was an whole 
church in a fixed relation. 

And such were all the churches the apostles wrote unto, and gave ordi- 
nances forth unto : ' So I ordain in all the churches,' 1 Cor. vii. 17 ; * we 
have no such custom,' saith he, 1 Cor. xi. IG, * nor the churches of Christ,' 
whom he praiseth for keeping the traditions he gave thern, as 1 Cor. xi. 2 ; 
and rejoiceth in their order, and whom he blameth for occasion of divisions, 
in respect of their public meetings, as vers. 18, 19, 21, 22. Now all this 
argues that, as churches, these were bodies and societies in a fixed and set- 
tled relation, for his manner of writing is parallel with that, as if a king or 
his superior ofiicers should write in his name to all corporations, shires, and 
bodies politic, giving out laws and proclamations and edicts to be observed 
by them in their assemblies, which, if they were not fixed and settled bodies, 
but only unfixed and uncertain fluid assemblies, they were not meet sub- 
jects capable thereof, nor of orders to regulate them. This also the state of 
the seven churches of Asia, whom Christ directeth those seven epistles unto, 
with several inscriptions to the several angels of those churches, evidently 
argues ; they were fixed bodies, having each their elders, an angel (collec- 
tively taken, as the use of that phrase in that book is), in a special relation, 
to whom therefore, as to the mayor or alderman in a settled corporation, tha 
letters are directed. And he blames them, as bodies or societies of men, 
fixedly incorporate, for sins passed in their public transactions as they were 
a body, as suffering Jezebel to teach, &c. And further, he threateneth to 
remove the candlestick, Ptev. ii. 5, that is, their church state, as they were 
a standing seat and subject of the ordinances of the gospel, as the Jewish 
candlestick was ; for the seven candlesticks are the seven churches. Rev. 
i. 20. As these candlesticks were these churches, distinguished each from 
other, so these churches were the saints and elders, as candlesticks cast and 
moulded into a set and standing form, and so thereby made distinct each 
from other, though all made out of the same lump of the church universal, 
therefore chosen out as standing patterns of the frame and fabric of other 
* Though it be not 'oXc? in Acts xs., vet it is so elsewhere in other places. 

Chap. III.] the chueches of christ. G3 

churches then extant or to come. And as that and the like threatening con- 
cerns succession, so it further argues a fixed combination, that is the subject 
of guilt, for that combination continuing, though the persons then alive 
should all die, yet if the same sins continued in persons that succeed mem- 
bers of that combination, that church or body, in respect of the fixed state 
of it continuing, would inherit it ; for by reason of such a fixed union or 
stated society or corporation, it comes to pass that not only a company of 
men are one body when their assemblings or meetings are not, though in 
order to such meetings, as well as when they are, but farther, that they con- 
tinue the same body to succession, and so each of these the same church or 
candlestick, notwithstanding it may snfier alteration in increase or lessening, 
in respect of particular persons. Yea, though the matter, the gold, the per- 
sons that now make up one of these candlesticks, should all be removed by 
death or otherwise, yet the candlestick continued the same, because the 
same settled church state continued ; as in this respect the company of mer- 
cers, or any corporation, is the same it was an hundred years ago, because 
of this settled order and union, and is capable of being threatened to have 
their charter taken away, their corporation removed, or the main privileges 
of it some way nullified, though the original persons do not still dwell in the 
same city. 

2. And as in respect of public worship, so in respect of judicature ; the 
churches then were bodies cast into fixed relations. This made the church 
of Corinth (as, 1 Cor. i. 2, it is called), a seat and subject of judicature and 
government : 1 Cor. v. 12, ' Do not ye judge them that are within ?' and 
' What have I to do to judge them that are without ? ' Here was, first, a set 
and certain judicature among themselves, as the word judging imports ; 
secondly, a body, within which whoever was, he came under this judicature, 
for they judged them within, as corporations or bodies politic use to do them 
within themselves. There was something then that made a special relation, 
which was the ground of their power to judge this person, and brought him 
within the compass of their jurisdiction. And it is further expressed with a 
denial of power over others that are without, ' What have I to do to jud^e 
them that are without?' I that am an apostle, that have the largest jurisdic- 
tion and commission, what have I to do in it ? And his power and theirs 
did ditfer ; for though he might judge as occasion was in any church where 
he came, yet he lays it as a special peculiar duty upon them, to have power 
over them that were within themselves ; and that power belonged unto them, 
as the other belonged unto him. And the persons that are said to be 
within, to that church of Corinth to whom he writes, could not be the 
church universal, for then the church of Corinth should have had power to 
have judged all or any other churches of saints in the world, as well as 
itself, and so a part had power over the whole. There was, thirdly, a duty 
lay upon some persons among them, to whom this belonged, ' Do not ye 
judge ?' and a sin that lay upon them for their neglect, which lay not upon 
another company, ' Do not ye judge them within ?' Aoid have you hitherto 
neglected it ? 

3. Thirdly, The special relation of elders to their churches, and the mem- 
bers in particular churches among themselves, doth evidence that not any 
company of Christians, but such as embodied together into and settled in 
the order of a church, are the subject and seat of this grand charter of the 
keys, or the ecclesiastical power. 

(1.) The relation of the members among themselves doth evidence it, 
1 Cor. xii. 27, where he descends from the discourse of union of the mem- 
bers in the universal body of Christ, which he calls Chrut, ver. 12, to a 


more particular enforceirient of the duties of that special relation that was 
amongst the members of the church, as a particular body to Christ ; and so 
to oblige each to other, not only by that general law of the universal rela- 
tion, but further by virtue of a more special one contracted among them- 
selves, being made a distinct and entire body to Christ in particular, by 
being one church. And so the obligation was not only doubled upon them, 
but further, the proportion of the general tie (which was more difiused) was 
contracted into a narrow and lesser compass, and as holding analogy with it, 
was so made stronger and more vigorous. Thus we understand those words 
to be a special application of that general doctrine premised in the former 
part of the chapter, which treats of Christ's body, the church universal. 
' Now ye,' the church of Corinth, ' are the bod}' of Christ, and members in 
particular,' in a more special relation ; and so owe all those duties in a 
special manner, one to another. In this respect also, sometimes when the 
apostle hath occasion to mention a member of a particular church, he 
specifies it with a special distinctive relation, 'Epaphras, who is one of you,' 
Col. iv. 12 ; and Rom. xvi. 1, 'Phoebe, our sister, who is a servant of the 
church which is at Cenchrea,' is commended to communion with them, as 
standing in special relation to that church. So when he speaks of elders, a 
special relation to a particular church is intimated, which could not be 
unless those churches had been fixed bodies for state, and not promiscuous 
assemblies in respect of acts of meeting. Thus the same Epaphras, as to 
his common relation of membership in that church of Colossians, is men- 
tioned, ' who is one of you ; ' as afore, cha.p. iv. 12, and also as to his more 
special relation as an officer of that church, ' who is for you a faithful minis- 
ter,' of whom they had been taught the gospel : * As ye also learned of Epa- 
phras, who is for you a faithful minister,' and in a special relation your 
minister. He still held his relation of a minister for them, though for the 
present occasionally employed with Paul. Thus the ordinary elders were 
set over particular churches, and so had a special relation to those churches 
as elders of them ; and the relation was the rise and foundation of their call 
to be elders, as Acts xiv. 23. The apostles, who were general elders in all 
churches, by virtue of apostolical commission, ordained ordinary elders in 
every church ; and these elders were specially appropriated hg rovg, to them, 
and were to take care of that whole flock which appertained to them. Acts 
XX. 28 ; and so they were entrusted with the care of them, and to watch 
over them, as those that were to give an account to God for their souls ; and 
therefore they were their pecuHar charge, Heb. xiii. 17. And in respect of 
this relation, the Holy Ghost directs those epistles, mentioned Rev. ii. 2, 3, 
to the several particular angels of those churches in Asia, who therefore had 
their churches assigned to them, for which they were to give an account, 
and more accountable for their sins, in which they are accordingly blamed. 

And these elders could not have a special settled relation, if these churches 
were not cast into a fixed settled state, as churches under them ; for the one 
are relations to the other ; and therefore the Holy Ghost dii-ects his epistles 
to the churches also, chap, i., as well as to the angels of these churches, for 
in their relations these two were commensurable. 

4. And lastly, these elders and these churches were formed up into fixed 
and settled presbyteries, so 1 Tim. iii. ; and the acts of ordination were not 
attributed simply to an indefinite company of elders (as promiscuously or 
any way met), but to a presbytery, which imports not simply an act of meet- 
ing by a company of elders, but (as the word is paraphrased by our trans- 
lators, with respect to the Jewish Sanhedrim) ' the estate of elders,' Acts 
xxii. 5. As if we should say, The common couacil did ordain so and so, 

Chap. IV.] the churches of christ. 65 

it notes not out simply a meeting of a company of wise men in such a city, 
but as met in an united body. And if these presbyteries were a fixed and 
united company of elders, then the churches must needs be also, to whom 
they were a presbytery. And so this is a further argument than that former, 
which was drawn from the special relation of elders, singly or personally, 
or loosely taken, which was ordinarily fixed to be a settled church. But if 
further, we consider these elders as united into a presbytery, it yet more 
importeth this. For though it should be granted to be a truth, which some 
affirm, that every elder were an elder indefinitely of the church universal, 
yet every presbytery is not a presbytery to the whole universal (no more 
than every common council in each corporation is a common council for the 
kingdom, though each burgess met therein must be capable of being a 
burgess in parliament for the whole kingdom), but, as specificated, such 
must relate only to some particular church. If therefore the government 
were seated (as our brethren would have it) in presbyteries, yet these bodies 
must be fixed and incorporated. Or if in churches with their elders (or else 
nowhere), yet if their elders were presbyteries to their several churches (as 
is evident they must be), then those churches also were fixed bodies over 
which they were placed. Yea, and the Scripture doth, in terminis, in plain 
terms, attribute the act of ordination to a presbytery, that is, a company of 
elders united in their relation and in that action ; and as much to this their 
united relation, as to their being elders. And so the validity and legality of 
the act depends as much upon this as upon their being elders met ; as if a 
man should say. Such a thing was done by the common council, certainly 
he means thereljy that it was done not only by men that are councillors 
promiscuously, in that sense as lawyers are called to give counsel, as 
occasion is, singly or apart ; but it imports they met as a common council, 
so embodied, that the act hath a legality, an authority therefrom. And 
the validity as much depends upon that incorporation of theirs according 
to a law, as upon their being men, and so qualified. 


That Christ in his institution of ecclesiastical power, Mat. xviii., hath r/mnted 
this ■power of the keys only to saints embodied and united in the state 
and order of a congregational church. — That though it should he granted 
that Christ in this institution had a regard to the constitution of [the 
church of the Jews, yet it would be evident that he intended a congrega- 
tional church. 

Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his 
fault between thee and him alone : if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained 
thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or 
two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be 
established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: 
but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen 
man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind 
on earth shall be bound in heaven; and ivhatsoever ye shall loose on 
earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again. I say unto you, That if two of 
you shall agree on earth as touching anything ichich you shall ask, it shall 
be done for them of my Father ivhich is in heaven. For where two or 



three are cjathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. — 
Mat. xviii. 15-20. ' 

There are three things may be proved out of this place. The first is, 
that church power is by Christ's institution. Secondly, that a particular 
congregation is there meant, and so we have an institution for it. Then, 
thirdl}-, that suppose there were a subordination of churches above parti- 
cular churches, that yet the particular church should finally excommunicate, 
and that the supposed superior orders of presbyteries should not take it out 
of their hands. 

1. The first is plain, that here is an institution of church power, as is 
evident by comparing it with Mat. xvi. 18, 19, where it is said, ' I will build 
my church, and I will give thee the keys.' He speaks indefinitely. That 
place affordeth this evidence, that Christ is the only builder of his church 
(' Every house is built by some one,' Heb. iii. 4), and of all things about 
the house : ' The builder of all things is God' (saith he), namely, Christ, 
who is God, as he had proved in chap. ii. Having spoken this indefinitely in 
Mat. xvi. 18, 19, here, in Mat. xviii. 15, IG, he particularly determines the 
seat and subject of this ecclesiastical power. Here, in Mat. xviii. 17, Christ 
uttereth himself definitely, ' Tell the church.' The jus proprietatis is in 
Mat. xvi. 19 ; the right of propriety is stated in the right of administration. 
The jus executiouis, in Mat. xviii. 16. He doth not give it to saints and 
officers simply, but as formed up into bodies. Mat. xvi. holdeth forth that 
they are to be saints, making confession as Peter did. There is the matter 
of a church, to whom the keys is given ; but Mat. xviii. holdeth forth how 
that these saints are to be formed up into several bodies or churches, and 
so to execute this power. Therefore he speaks of them as ' being gathered 
together in his name,' Mat. xviii. 20. Their being saints, or faithful, is not 
enough ; but order is to be added to faith (as in Col. ii. 5), which order is 
held forth here, in Mat. xviii. ver. 15 to 20. 

2. The words of Christ here, in Mat, xviii. 18, ' Verily I say unto you,' 
which are institutive ; ' And again I say unto you.' 

(1.) That word Amen, or verily, est idem quod firmum et ratum, shews the 
thing to be firm aniil ratified, as Amen doth also, being set to our prayers. 
And here so it is taken ; for it is with a promise of power from him, confirm- 
ing and ratifying of such meetings as he speaks of. And a promise to any 
thing that is beyond the law of nature implies an institution ; for what is an 
institution but a setting up something with promise, to have a blessing in 
it beyond the efiicacy of the thing ? 

(2.) ' Again I say unto you,' saith he, ver. 19. The word arjaiji is 
additiotm, moreover, a superadded expression, as Mat. iv. 7, ' Again it is 

(3.) The words I say are institutive, or commanding with an efficacy ; 
as they are used in Luke v. 24, 'I say unto thee. Arise.' And if they be 
only assertory (as some say they are), yet being spoken by the Son, of his 
own house, in his mouth they are edificatory, or institutive of it. 

(4.) Jesus Christ giveth power to a brother to admonish, and that in an 
ordinary way, in order to excommunication ; then bids him take two or 
three, and then tell the church. And it is not a matter of indulgency or 
liberty, or privilege (as Cameron observeth), that his speech importeth, for 
that is, whenas there is a benefit to one's self by it, which, if I will forego, I 
may ; but what is spoken here is j^er modnm imperii, by way of command, 
for it is for the gaining of a brother. And it is in order also to a court sen- 
tence, when it is brought to the church ; and the word established. Mat. 

Chap. IV. J the churches of christ. 67 

xviii. IG, that is, the sentence shall be firm, and fixed, or ratified, confirms 
this to be his design and meaning. 

(5.) To reckon a brother as an heathen, if obstinate after this course is 
taken with him, is an act of power, which, if Christ had not given, should 
not have absolutely necessitated it. 

(6.) He saith, ' Where two or three are gathered in my name,', therefore 
it is an ordinance. What makes other things an ordinance, bitt' that they 
are done in the name and power of Christ ? Is baptising in hi-s name an 
ordinance, and so gathering together in his name also ? And'in his name is 
all one, as in his power and authority, by commission from him ; and to 
such ends and purposes as he hath appointed, whereof one is to throw: out 
an ofiending brother. He speaks as the Messiah, that did anew form his 
church, and put a new title upon their gathering together ; calls it ' assem- 
bled in my name,' as the Messiah is come in the flesh. And whereas before 
he did authorise the whole nation, and made the trust unto them, he reduceth^ 
it now to a fewer company, to two or three gathered together in his name. 
All assemblies, if they be not established by authority, are unlawful. Acts 
xix. 39. Therefore these assemblies that Christ here speaks of, must be- 
established by the law of Christ. 

And thus much may suffice to shew in general, that let it be meant in^ 
church power, whatever it is, it is by institution. 

And when he saith, ' go tell the church,' he imports authority and power, 
placed in that company he calls a church, with which he invests them. The- 
word church in this is an authoritative word, and the authority the cliurch- 
hath is his ; and whom should she have it' from, but from him ? And 
therefore, in 1 Cor. v. 4, they are said to be ' gathered together in his name, 
and in his power.' And by comparing this place and that together, it 
appears that his intent is both institutive and directive, only with this dif- 
ference, that in Mat. xviii., Jesus Christ speaks by way of directing a bro- 
ther what to do when he is offended ; and upon that occasion mentions what 
authority he would give unto his church, and assemblies of his saints ga- 
thered together in his name ; but in the other text, 1 Cor. v., Paul gives 
forth the direction to the church itself, calling upon them to perform their 
duty, according to the power and authority given him by Christ. As an 
apostle, he commands them, when gathered together, to deliver such an one 
to Satan, and (saith he) ' do ye not judge them that are within ?' That is, 
have ye not power to do it from Christ, is it not a duty lies upon you ? 
And he parallels it with that power himself had, according to proportion. 
Now the power he had, all grant to be institutive, for otherwise, what 
power could one man assume over the churches of Christ ? And so like- 
wise without the like institution, what power could a church assume to 
deliver a man to Satan, which is out of their natural and moral power 
to do ? 

I shall now demonstrate that a particular congregation is meant in this. 
Mat. xviii., and that a particular congregation is there instituted, and insti- 
tuted, too, as having that power of excommunication. 

Now that a particular congregation is here meant, is proved first out of 
the place. The church intended here, is a church appointed for worship as 
well as for discipline. Not only because that meeting to pray is mentioned, 
as well as to correct ofi"ences ; but because if that be a church which is ap- 
pointed for worship, it were strange if Christ should in his first institution 
mention that church which is only for discipline, and not that which is for 
worship also. 2. Out of presbyterian principles. 

And, 1, out of the place it is apparent that a particular congregation is 


meant, take church to be interpreted by whatsoever you will that Christ 
-alluded to, then in use. 

There were many unformed sects, that had several companies belonging to 
them, that were of the same principles and regular order ; who, although 
they held a general communion with the church of the Jews, yet the manner 
of these sects was to have their synagogues and schools (as Paul was brought 
up at the feet of Gamaliel ; and we read of the school of Tyrannus). And 
if any of them transgressed the principles of their order and sect, they were 
brought (as Grotius saith) before the whole ; and so they were reproved Ivwcnoi/ 
'jrdvTMv, that is, before all. And now if this allusion be to such a church or 
company, then the people are taken in, such as should meet and hear ; and 
so then, Jesus Christ so fixed his institution, as the people as well as the 
officers met, for even those sects supposed guides, who did bring it to the 
whole company of that sect, whereto a man belonged. Secondly, if the 
allusion were to this, then according to the liberty that was then given, of 
having disciples, our Saviour Christ had then a church upon earth which he 
spoke actually unto. For he had by him twelve apostles and disciples, who 
after grew unto one hundred and twenty. And, therefore, according to the 
law of those times, he directs them, that if any oflences were among them, 
after two or three witnesses taken, they should tell it to this church. 
Although Judas had sinned, yet he had not so sinned, as to have witnesses 
against him, until his betraying of Christ, and then (as our Saviour Christ pro- 
phesied of him, John xv. 6) he was cast out as a withered branch. And 
then, 3, that phrase of gathering together in my name, is an allusion to that 
custom in those times ; for the manner was then to call disciples by the 
names of those they followed, and their meetings by their names, as Hero- 
dians were so styled from the name of Herod. ' In my name' (saith Christ), 
that is, such as profess me, and set up such schools in my name, are to 
observe the rules which I set them, for their order and government. Christ 
here expressed how his churches should, after his death and ascension into 
heaven, be ordered under the New Testament. As it is said, ' the Scripture 
foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles through faith (Gal. iii. 8), 
made the promise unto Abraham ; ' and as God, foreseeing that when the 
Israelites came into Canaan, they should live in cities, and be a kingdom or 
a nation, accordingly ordered beforehand their government, and gave laws 
aforehand, for that nation of the Jews as such, when they should be in their 
own land. So here, the church of the New Testament, being to be multiplied 
and scattered, that they could not assemble in one, as that national church 
of the Jews did, Christ aforehand speaks, what he would have his churches 
under the New Testament to be ; and his institutions are suited to what in 
his counsels and providence he had determined should be, and he knew 
aforehand would fall out. 

2. If, secondly, the allusion be to the Jewish way that was appointed by God, 
and had been of old, then either the Sanhedrim is meant, or the synagogues, 
with the officers there. But in the first place, the Sanhedrim is not meant ; 
for (as Cameron saith) that is never called eccJesia, a church, no, not by the 
Septuagint. But be it that this word had been used of it, yet private 
oftences (of which Christ here speaks) were never brought to the Sanhedrim ; 
but Christ speaks this of private oflences, for it is, * if he ofiend thee, then 
take two witnesses,' and then tell it to the church. Whereas there were 
but four cases which belonged immediately unto the Sanhedrim, and those 
were cases of difficulty, when the private judges in the cities could not end 
the controversy, who yet had full power to have done it. And then, in the 
third place, Cameron's reason why the Sanhedrim is not meant, is good. 

Chap. IY.] the churches of christ. 69 

because the evangelists do still call it 'TrosaiSur'spiov -rou Xdov, and that now only 
Christ should call it ecclesia, a church, when it is nowhere used by the 
Septuagint, under that name, would be very strange. Secondly, if his allu- 
sion be to the government of every town, this makes for the way of congre- 
gational churches. For every village had their government entire within 
themselves : Deut. xvi. 18, ' in all their gates.' If it were a small town, 
there were three elders (to which Christ here alludeth), and in the cities one 
and twenty. And from the towns to the cities there was not an appeal, but 
immediately to the Sanhedrim. 

3. His allusion rather is unto the synagogues in every town, which were 
the ecclesiastical state. The books of Moses were read in every city, in the 
synagogues. Acts v. 21. For every city had their synagogue, and so then 
in this sense, to ' tell the church,' was to tell that particular synagogue 
(whereof they were members), both to people and rulers. Now thair Christ 
alludeth to this appears, 

(1.) Because that excommunication was exercised in their synagogues, not 
in the Sanhedrim. Indeed, the Sanhedrim might make a law, as a rule 
according to which men should be excommunicated ; but the synagogues 
executed it, therefore it is called, ' casting out of the synagogues,' John 
xvi. 2. And synagogues were not governed by an association, but each 
synagogue had its rulers, John ix. 22 ; and in John xvi. 2, ' They shall cast 
you out of the synagogues.' And a synagogue was a particular assembly, 
such as congi'egations now : Luke vii. 5, ' He hath built us a synagogue ;' 
Mark i. 21, "Christ entered into the synagogue and taught.' And when a 
man was cast out of the synagogue, and w^ould come into the temple, they 
used to say to him, when he would offer to enter into the temple (although 
they refused him not to enter thither, for he held communion still with the 
temple). May he who inhabits this temple give thee an heart to hearken to 
the words of thy brethren, that so they may receive thee. 

(2.) In every one of these synagogues there were two or three officers. 
They had rulers, Acts xiii. 1-4, 15, xviii. 7, 17. And therefore Christ 
alluding unto this saith, ' If two or three agree.' They used to have three 
at least, that a major vote might cast it among the rulers. And they used 
to have two or three admonitions afore they cast out, and thirty days between 
every admonition. 

(3.) In a manner, all other authority was taken from them, but what they 
exercised in their synagogues thus, or in the Sanhedrim, which dealt only in 
the great matters of blasphemy ; whereas this authority of synagogues was 
for offences of brethren ; and therefore it is still said, they should bring them 
into their synagogues when they questioned them, -as Luke xii. 11. The 
Romans took away all other power ii'om them. But here they could inflict 
punishments : ' They shall scourge you in their synagogues ;' it was the place 
of then' punishment, so Mat. xxiii. 34 ; they whipped in them, for they had 
no other courts left. Acts xxvi. 11. And they had rulers, for the casting 
men out from thence. And perhaps these meetings in the synagogues are 
those which are called Synediia in Mat. x. 17. And in Luke xii. 11, 
' when they bring you into the synagogues,' is mentioned first, and then, 
* unto magistrates and powers,' namely, the civil magistrate, which in Mat. 
X. 17 is rendered thus, ' They will deliver you up to the council,' or San- 
hedrim, and they will scourge you in their synagogues ; and then follows 
their being brought to the civil magistrate in the next verse, ' and shall bring 
you before kings and governors.' And some interpreters say, that the allu- 
sion is here, in Mat. xviii. 17, to that synagogue government and worship, 
ecclesia and sijnayofjus being used promiscuously. 


(4.) These synagogues were oratories, places of prayer and preaching, there- 
fore Christ doth also subjoin here, ' if two meet together, to ask,' or to pray. 
It is not meant only of praying when they administered discipline, for it is 
praying about any business, for they used to worship and pray in the syna- 
gogues, as well as to cast out of the synagogues ; their worship and their 
discipline there being of equal extent. And the word that is used in this 
text of Mat. xviii. 19, au^a^ajvrjGMSiv, shall agree, signifies a meeting, as well 
as a consent, so Gen. xiv. 3 ; and the words also that Christ useth, ver. 19, 
' Again,' or moreover, ' I say unto you' (having spoken of discipline afore, 
and now of prayer), do hold forth the scope of this church to be as well for 
prayer as for discipline, and so to be understood of such a synagogue as 
was both for discipline and worship, or prayer. And then the addition of 
the last words, ver. 20, ' For where two or three are gathered together in my 
name, I am in the midst of them,' is the general conclusion to both ; so that 
the meaning is, that whether they meet for worship or prayer (of which he 
had spoken, ver. 19), or for discipline (of which he had spoken, ver. 17, 18), 
Christ is in the midst of them. Now, as our Saviour Christ's allusion was 
unto that synagogue government and worship then extant, so particular 
churches and congregations under the gospel, in answer thereunto, are 
expressed unto us, under the word synagogue. They have that name, 
because unto them did Christ allude ; and they suited his institution under 
the New Testament. James ii. 2, ' If one come into your assembly, it is in 
the Greek, hg rriv eumyuyriv, ' into your synagogue.' He speaks of synagogues 
for worship, as in Heb. x. 25, ' Forsake not the assembling of yourselves 
together.' It is there imffuvayojyriv, meetivg in a synagogue, which is a par- 
ticular meeting for worship, which is therefore called the house, that God hath 
under the New Testament, ver. 20, whereof Christ is said to be the high priest. 

And, indeed, the analogy between their sj'nagogues and our congregations 
holdeth exceeding far. They hold two or three officers that were rulers of 
the synagogue, and we profess, for kind, that there are three sort of officers, 
• — pastors, teachers, and .elders. And the Jews, in a manner for the sub- 
stance, use the same expression concerning their synagogues ; they had two 
wise men to teach, and one to discern ; and therefore Christ saith, * where 
two or three are gathered together.' And to be an heathen and a publican, 
and to be cast out of the synagogue, was all one ; and the word synagogue and 
ecclesia, lOr church, are all one in the Septuagint ; and -so, consequently, to 
be cast out of the church, corresponds to their ejection out of the synagogue. 

And to this hath Christ framed the constitution of his church under the 
New Testament, that it should be both for worship and government, as the 
synagogues were within themselves. And although these assemblies are 
called synagogues as for their extent, yet they are called temples as for their 
privilege. And this constitution of Christ suited with the primitive times 
of the gospel ; for the Jews, being dispersed in several nations, they had 
synagogues in all cities, and an entire government within those synagogues. 
Yea, even in Judea, in some one great city, there was but one synagogue, 
as in Capernaum, Mark i. 21. Thus, at Antioch too, the Jews had a syna- 
gogue. Acts xiii. 14, 15, as also at Thessalonica, Acts xvii, 1, and at Cormth, 
Acts xviii. 4, where the Greeks and the Jews were met in one. Now, the 
Christians being to be called out of all places, and being dispersed, as these 
Jews were, in all nations, Christ suited a government to these conditions of 
the synagogue-government, and answerably fixed his institution of churches, 
in imitation of the Jews dispersed, who had synagogues amongst all the 
Gentiles, in their several cities. Christ chose not the legal way of a national 
church, or of a sanhedrim, or of going up to one temple for a whole nation, 

Chap. IV. J the churches of christ. 71 

but he fixed on synagogues, as fitting his turn best, for he chose churches out 
of nations, and so did not hold to one national church of the Jews ; and, 
therefore, we read of churches in Judea itself, and not church, Gal. i. 22. 

And to strengthen this assertion, it may be observed that our Saviour 
Christ did not take nor follow the institution of the Old Testament, but the 
appendixes of it ; as for example, in the Lord's supper he instituted the bread 
and wine, answerably to the bread and wine which were appendixes of the 
passover, and he refuseth the paschal lamb, and chooseth the bread and wine. 
80 likewise, as the Jews used to baptize proselytes, so he refuseth circum- 
cision and takes that baptism. Thus also as the synagogues were, as it were, 
chapels of ease to the great church, the temple, where moral worship only 
was, he lets the stately temple worship go, and the glory of a national 
government, and chooseth this mean way of a synagogue, but yet endows it 
with the privilege of a temple ; that so whereas, before, God was worshipped 
in the mount and in the temple, he is now worshipped as much, and as 
truly, and as spiritually everywhere, and in every synagogue having the 
same privilege. And, indeed, Christ's way in the ordinances and institu- 
tions of the gospel was to choose that which, in comparison, was before to 
the Jews, and to the world, fooHshness ; thus he chose the foolishness of 
preaching, and instead of taking the high priests and rulers, he takes fisher- 
men, &c. 

4. But yet, though Christ might speak in the language of the Old Testa- 
ment, it is not necessary that his meaning should be that the churches in the 
New Testament should be formed according as the old were, but the con- 
trary. Our Saviour Christ had said before, in Mat. xvi. 18, ' I will build 
my church ;' and, as he speaks of new keys that are to be given, so by that 
he prepares their minds to a persuasion, that he would have a new church 
distinct from the former. And then afterward, here in Mat. xviii. 17, he 
tells them more distinctly, that they should ' tell the church.' And if it be 
said that they understand not what he meant by the word church, or that 
they could not apprehend that he meant by it a particular congregation, 
and that they knew not too what he meant by keys, for certainly they knew 
not the particular ordinances which he intended under that general expres- 
sion, the keys of heaven ; and so neither knew they what this new church, 
in Mat. xviii. (to which they were to tell) might import ; the answer is 
plain, that the Holy Ghost was to come on them, to tell them afterwards. 
And, indeed, our Saviour Christ spake of many things which they then under- 
stood not, as of the resurrection : Mat. xvi. 21, ' I will destroy this temple, 
and build it in three days ;' and also, ' that his kingdom was not of this 
world,' John xviii. 36. So when he washed his disciples' feet, they knew not 
then the meaning of it ; but he saith, he would * send them the Comforter, 
which should tell them all things,' John xiv. IG, and chap. xvi. 30 ; but yet 
it was necessary that Christ should deliver the main foundations of all those 
truths which the Holy Ghost afterwards should enlighten them in. Moses 
delivered many things in the wilderness concerning the government of the 
church of the Jews, which they could not so well understand, till they came 
into the land of Canaan ; and though they knew not the place that God would 
choose, yet many of the laws that Moses gave depended upon it. But, 

2. Our Saviour Christ had, according to the liberty that then was given 
unto all several sects (though we call not his such), built a church; he had a 
little flock, as he calls it; and as he began to institute baptism, and began 
to institute the Lord's supper afore he died, so to institute this church; he 
began it as other ordinances, afore his death, and he did cast Judas out of it. 


3. The manner is oftentimes to speak in the language of the Old Testa- 
ment when the same thing is not meant. As when Christ speaks of the 
person offending, Mat. v. 22, he expresseth the degrees of punishment to 
several sins, under the names of three courts amongst the Jews, and yet he 
meaneth spiritual degrees of punishment. Thus, too, in 1 Cor. ix. 13, the 
whole service of the sanctuary is called the allar (' He that serveth at the 
altar, must live of the altar') ; yet there is no such altar erected amongst us, 
as was amongst the Jews. And the prophets also, prophesying of the times 
of the gospel, spake of our ordinances under the notion of the Old Testa- 
ment, yet meant other ordinances anew to he instituted ; so in Isa. Ixvi. 23, 
' They shall go from one new moon unto another.' Though under the 
gospel we have not monthly feasts and meetings as they had, yet the meet- 
ings that we have are expressed thereby. And so now here Christ speaks 
of a church, that as the Jews had a church, so likewise, under the New 
Testament, there should be a church to which oifences should be brought ; 
but that officers alone should be that church (supposing that the ruling 
officers are called the chui'ch in the Old Testament), it foUoweth not. For 
the word presbytery, which was given to the eldership of the great Sanhedrim 
of the whole nation of the Jews, is now given to the presbytery of every 
congregation. So as though he useth the same word to express the institu- 
tion of the new churches of the gospel by, yet it follows not that it is of the 
same kind with the old, or that it runneth in the same way. But, 

4. We are rather to interpret it by what kind of churches we read after- 
wards that the apostles erected. As Moses was interpreted by the prophets, 
so is Christ's mind in this to be known by his apostles ; for the Spirit came 
on them, and did reveal unto them Christ's mind and intention. The trial, 
therefore, will lie upon this, what bodies, and consisting of whom, are called 
a church in the Acts of the apostles, and in their epistles. 

What that church is upon which the institution of Christ falleth, is not to 
be argued merely out of the analogy of the Old Testament, for that will not 
set up an institution in the New. But when we have found out what manner 
of church in the New Testament Jesus Christ hath instituted, we are then 
to consider the analogy of that form thereunto, so far forth as Christ hath 
applied it. 

Now both in the phrase of the New Testament, assemblies, consisting of 
elders and people, and of the saints, are called churches ; and in the words 
also of Mat. xviii. 20, ' Where two or three are gathered together in my 
name,' Christ tells us his meaning of a church. And unto this church, say 
we, doth the analogy of all the church under the Old Testament hold, if you 
take the due proportion ; and as the excellent stories and allusions in the 
Old Testament are brought into the New, to set forth things that come under 
the New, in the book of the Pievelation, in their several proportions (there- 
fore, speaking of Rome, he calleth it spiritual Sodom, and Egypt and Baby- 
lon, &c.), so we find that all the types of the Old Testament are applied unto 
these assemblies. Thus as to the temple, which was the seat of worship, 
and the sacrifices there, congregational assemblies have carried away the 
analogy of them by Christ's institution ; for they only are the fixed public 
seats of worship, where spiritual sacrifices are ofi'ered. In congregations, the 
living stones are built up together, to offer up living sacrifices, acceptable 
unto God, as in 2 Peter ii, 5, Eph. ii. 22. And unto these assemblies are 
the same promises made that were made to the whole nation of the Jews, 
when they were a church encamped in the wilderness : ' Upon all their as- 
semblies shall be a cloud, and a pillar of fire,' prophesying of the gospel, 
sailh the prophet Isaiah, chap. iv. 5. And all the privileges which that 

Chap. IV.] the churches of christ. 73 

nation had as a church (take them in a spiritual respect) hath every congre- 
gation of saints now. This, therefore, is called the house of God, over 
which Christ is an high priest, Heb. x, ; which, in ver. 25, he interprets to 
be the assembling of themselves together. In the compass of such an as- 
sembly also hath Jesus Christ contracted appeals sufficient, for first (says 
he) tell him of his fault thyself, then take two or three, and then go tell the 
church ; and then he is bound in heaven, as the supremest judicature. Mat. 
xviii. 15-19 ; and God hath so advanced the state of the New Testament 
above that of the Old, that as the glory of the second temple exceeded the 
first, so doth the glory of the saints now in these assemblies excel all former. 
Every believer is a priest now ; yea, the allusion in the company of saints 
assembled for worship, in Eev. iv., is unto the twenty -four priests that were 
over the twenty-four companies of priests. And the officers now are, as the 
four beasts in Ezekiel, Rev. iv. 8, and are as angels rather than priests, 
called therefore the angels of the churches. Rev. i. 20. The saints all are 
a royal nation, and the name of the city of God is written upon every as- 
sembly. The great presbytery or Sanhedi-im of the people is the presbytery 
of every congregation. Every church is a city unto God ; it is the city of 
the living God ; it is the holy city, and hath a government within itself, of 
elders within its own gates. Yea, here is the synagogue-government also, 
unto which the allusion also is ; and these assemblies are so called, as I 
proved in the foregoing chapter. Yea, and as God chooseth the mean things 
of the world under the gospel, so he chose that synagogue frame, because 
the worship therein was wholly spiritual and moral ; it was not the seat of 
ceremonial worship, as was the temple. The government of the synagogues 
was natural, to cast any person out of themselves, as all bodies have by the 
law of nature, with a punishment suitable annexed, viz., to keep such from 
the esteem of worshippers, and that they should be accounted as heathens 
and publicans. Thus Christ hath chosen a way more spiritual, more natural, 
suitable to the communion of saints, that hath less pomp and glory in it. 
He hath taken this Bethlehem, that was the least, the lowest of the govern- 
ments amongst them, and hath made it the greatest, and endowed it with 
the privileges of all the rest. It hath both national and temple privileges, 
and Sanhedrim privileges also ; it hath the spirituality of them all. There 
they have the Lord's supper instead of the passover ; there they have the 
altar, 1 Cor. x. 16, 17, &c. What glorious things are spoken of in Jer. iii. 
14-16 : ' You shall say no more. The ark of the covenant of the Lord, 
neither shall it come to mind,' &c. ; 'I will give you pastors, according to 
mine own heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding; 
and I will take you, one of a city, and two of a tribe, call them out, and 
bring them to Zion.' That Zion is where the pastors are teaching, there- 
fore meant of congregations. He doth not take nations, but select out of 
nations, out of cities and tribes, saints here and there, and formeth them up 
into congregations, because they have pastors that feed them ; and in such 
congregations is the feeding of the pastors with knowledge and understand- 
ing. And this succeedeth the ark of the covenant, having the privileges 
thereof. It is a prophecy of the calling of the Jews under the gospel. 

And yet if that judicial government (as we may so call it), that was in 
Jewry, were the pattern of all church government future, although it would 
indeed then, by the analogy of it, erect a national assembly over the lesser 
churches, yet even that would conduce more to the establishment of the 
congregational way we contend for than our brethren will yield them, and 
will militate against the presbyterian pattern as it is practised, and that in 
these particulars. For, 


1. First, each town, as well as each city, had all government within their 
gates as much as cities ; and the elders in the towns were not to appeal to 
the elders in the cities, but immediately to the national assembly. In Ezra 
X. 14, there were the rulers of all the congregations (which was all the whole 
nation) mentioned, and the elders of every city, and judges thereof; city, 
according to the Hebrews, was every little town. Thus Moses is said to be 
read in every city in the synagogues, that is, in every town ; for they had 
synagogues in villages. Acts xv. 21. In Deut. xvi. 18 (saith he), ' Judges 
and officers shall thou make thee in all thy gates,' that is, in every town ; 
and therefore the rabbins do say, that if it were a big city, where there were 
one hundred and twenty families in it, there were twenty-three sat in the 
gate ; if it were less, then but three, for there was no court consisted of less. 

2. Secondly, those towns were not ruled by a combination, but had a 
government entire within themselves, unless things were too hard for them. 

3. Thirdly, the appeals unto the Sanhedrim was only for the decision of 
law-causes, in a doctrinal way (as if that the judges of Westminster Hall 
should inquire of the parliament for the meaning of a statute ; and were 
bound to pronounce sentence according to their interpretation of the law), 
though still the judgment of the matter of fact, and to pronounce the sen- 
tence itself, was to be done by authority and jurisdiction of each town, like 
as we also contend that all censures should be by particular congregations. 

Obj. If so, then their government was not uniform. 

Aus. Yes, only in lesser proportions ; in the smaller towns, they had 
three rulers, and in their cities and greater towns twenty-three, the law of 
God not determining how many elders should make up the judicature, either 
in the one or in the other ; as also in congregations, God hath not deter- 
mined how many, but, according to their proportion and necessity, hath left 
a liberty of choosing a greater or lesser number. 


That tJwvt/h it were granted that the power of the keys in Christ's institution, 
Mat. xviii., ivas r/iven to the elders or officers, and not to tJie j^eople, that yet 
in a f/reater probability of reason, the officers or ciders of a particular con- 
gregational church are meant. — That in all probability, too, the institution 
of such churches ivas designed by him, because tJieir conditions and order 
best suits the ends of the edification of liis saints. 

If by church, in Mat. xviii. 17, were meant the officers, yet still the 
officers of a particular church, for there is a presbytery in every church. 
And the mention of two or three doth rather carry it to that meaning. So 
that if by church should be meant the elders, yet the question will return, 
What elders, in relation to what church ? To a particular church, say we. 
Thus when it is said, in James v. 14, ' Send for the elders of the church,' 
it could not be the elders of a presbyterian church. Our presbyterian 
brethren acknowledge that particular congregations are churches ; the}'' are 
the first of the name in this institution, and are first intended, and are there- 
fore called ecclesiic primir, the first churches, even by presbyterians them- 
selves. We are sure also that particular churches have the name of a whole 
church : 1 Cor. xiv. 23, ' If the whole church meet in one.' We are sure, 
too, that the first churches in all places were but particular churches, even in 
Jerusalem itself. The apostles did not forbear making a particular church in 
any place ; they did not stay till Christians were multiplied, so as to make many 

Chap. V.] the chueches of christ. 75 

churches in one place. Now such a particular church, before churches ever 
multiplied, had a government within itself, by virtue of Mat. xviii. 17. 
And if so, if here be an institution, it falleth upon it, and it exercises its 
government as a church by virtue of its charter. 

1. That a particular church is meant in Mat. xviii. is evident, because 
it is such a church that is spoke of, whereof a man is a brother ; and now 
he is a brother first, and more peculiarly, of a particular congregation ; that 
is the reason why you excommunicate him out of the particular church, 
when out of none of all the rest. And when you bring the matter at last to 
an issue, you tell the church of it more than any of the rest, for that con- 
gregation being a church by the order of Christ, it is to be brought unto that 
church first, which the offending person hath the relation of a brother unto. 
Now, see who are in the right, our presbyterian brethren or we ; they think 
themselves bound to tell the church, because he is a brother of it, but not 
at first ; whereas Christ saith, Tell this church first, and if he will not hear 
what that church says, ' let him be an heathen.' 

2. The method that Christ here prescribeth evidently argueth it to be a 
particular church; for, 1, saith he, do thyself deal with him ; 2, take two 
or three witnesses ; 3, tell the church. This must needs be that particular 
church, that is, the next body, for that particular church is a church, and it 
is his church ; and it is a body in ascent next to the two or tbree witnesses ; 
and if there be any such thing as a church classical, that is a degree be- 
yond it. 

3. All that are for presbyterial government, do by virtue of this place 
in Mat. xviii. tell it to the congregational elders, the presbytery. And so 
then, that the particular congregation is meant in this, Mat. xviii., both 
their practices and principles do import ; for they argue from this place by 
way of analogy. They argue from hence the power of many churches over 
any church, because, look what power the first church hath over a brother, 
that many churches hath over a church ; and therefore, according to their 
own concessions, this first church is first meant as the measure of the other, 
and, therefore, what is said here in Mat. xviii. must be first true of the par- 
ticular congregation. For they make a combination of churches, for to deal 
with oftending or disagreeing churches upon this ground, that a particular 
church is that which is here appointed to deal with a brother. If, then, the 
argument doth run by way of analogy, then the power of their greater 
churches is fetched from the power that this particular church hath. And 
they argue that therefore they have an entire power over many churches, 
because that this hath an entire power over its own members ; and that 
what power is in a particular church, is in the whole body of churches 
jointly. And therefore, by the presbyterial concessions and principles, the 
institution must first fall upon this church congregational. For if any man 
would argue from what power a corporation hath over its members, that the 
like power many corporations may have over that corporation, it would im- 
ply that that corporation hath an entire power over its own members ; and 
look how much of the entireness of the power you take away from the par- 
ticular corporation over its members, so much you weaken the argument and 
analogy for the power of many. 

In a word, all the arguments of all sides, — of papists, that would have the 
pope to be the church ; of the episcopal party, that would have the bishops 
to be the church, — all argue from the word church. And they say, that a 
diocesan hath power in a diocese, because a whole diocese may be one 
church ; and so many elders may make up a presbytery over many congre- 
gations, because many congregations make one church. So as all these, and 


the presbyterian government itself, can prove their claim only as they can 
make it out that they are a church. Now, particular congregations do, and 
may, put first in for it, that they are churches ; therefore, as a church, 
they must have a power over their own members, as the other have over 
churches, according to their own principles. 

4. The first and primary institution must fall upon particular congrega- 
tions as the seats or bounds of the first power, whether the institution be 
supposed to fall upon them as churches or as a presbytery. If it falls on 
them as churches, the greater churches consisting of many congregations are 
but ortic, or sprung of this ; if it falls on them as a presbytery, they are but 
compounds and decompounds. The native and first genuine church is the 
congregational, the other are but representative churches, whenas this is 
more real. 

5. As the institution of a congregational church in Mat. xviii. most suits 
with Christ's aim and design, the communion of saints, so it most agrees 
too with that promise of his presence, ver. 20. What kind of assembly is most 
likely to be pitched upon by Christ, to be made his court on earth, but that 
wherein he is worshipped ; and where there is the personal presence of his 
saints, for whose sake he is present with the oflicers of a church, and not as 
the}' are oflicers abstracted from the church, or meeting without it ? And, 
indeed, it was for the honour of the saints, and was becoming of their state 
under the gospel, that not elders alone, but that saints gathered together 
with the elders, should be those fixed bodies to which the power should be 
given : for so the style runneth, ' the churches of the saints,' 1 Cor. xiv. 33. 
And what is the church without the presence of Christ ? And what is more 
a church, than that to which more of the promise of the presence of 
Christ is made ? Now to the saints, and also to the elders, as joined and 
united in bodies with saints, is the promise made. Those promises, ' I will 
walk among you,' &c., 1 Cor. vi. 16, Ezek. xsxvii. 26, 37, is made to the 
bodies of saints. So then, if we take the state of the saints under the New 
Testament, where every one comparatively is said more to know the Lord, 
comparatively unto those of the Old, it is answerably in a way of comparison 
more suitable to reason, than if the government should be placed upon 
bodies formed up, the institution should fall upon such bodies as have both 
saints and elders. And if there were no other reason, yet this might be 
pleaded for it, that the oificers have, though not formal power from the 
people as oflicers, yet a virtual power, concurrence, and assistance (through 
the promise of Christ's presence with them) as such from the presence of 
the saints, in respect of the execution of their oflice and the blessing thereof, 
which they do not carry about them alone, especially in such acts, wherein 
they do things as for the people, and which do concern them, as acts of juris- 
diction do. Although, as elders dedicated unto Christ, they might have a 
blessing in preaching unto them, and that as elders, or in prayer, or the like ; 
yet in all ministerial acts of jurisdiction that belong to a church as a cor- 
poration, they have a virtual assistance from the concurrence of the people 
with them, doing all this in their presence. Thus the elders among the 
Jews, besides the blessing of their calling, as being elders, and united into a 
body over that nation in a Sanhedrim or council, had also a blessing from the 
place where they should meet, the place that God should choose, as also 
their sacrifices had ; and should the same Sanhedrim have met out of that 
place, they had not had that assistance, neither could the acts have been 
counted acts of jurisdiction. This principle the papists themselves seem to 
acknowledge, who make the assistance that the pope hath, when he speaks 
infallibly as a pope, to be not alone, but in the cathedra, in the chair ; and 

Chap. V.] the churches of christ. 77 

so in council with the cardinals ; and so in a state or kingdom, though the 
ultimate concluding and ratifying of laws doth lie in the king, yet he doth 
not do it alone, but having all other estates of nobles and commons present, 
or else what he doth is not legal nor binding. Now so, under the New 
Testament, though all church power should be supposed to be formally in 
the elders, yet not as abstracted from the presence of the saints, which is 
instead of the place that God then chose among the Jews, in which they 
had an especial blessing and assistance. Nay, he hath now chose a better 
temple for elders to exercise their jurisdiction in, temples made of living stones, 
that is, churches consisting of saints, from the concurrence of whose spirits, 
prayers, and applications, the acts done by the elders in a church do receive 
their strength. So Jesus Christ is in the midst of the elders, because his 
promise is to be in the midst of the saints, their spirits join and concur 
in the act, and so there is an efficacy running along therewith. And this 
honour at least was meet to be given by Christ to his saints ujider the New 
Testament. For what thongh the elders be as the loadstone, yet as the 
virtue and efficacy of the loadstone depends upon its being set in steel, so 
the virtual blessing of the elders' actions in matters of jurisdiction (which are 
the highest acts of church government) depends upon their being in the midst 
of saints that concur with them. And therefore, in Mat. xviii. 17, it is said, 
' Tell the church,' that is, the elders joining with, and in presence of the 
people. Although the eye is that member that doth see for the body, yet 
it hath the virtual efficacy that enableth it to see, from its being placed in 
the body ; and as the eye cannot see out of the body, nor can one body 
bring in another body's eye to see withal ; so cannot this power of 
the elders be carried out of its seat, nor a foreign power be brought in. 
And therefore, when the apostle says, in 1 Cor. v. 4, ' When ye are gathered 
together with the power of the Lord Jesus;' and so in 2 Cor. vi. 16, 'I 
will walk among you ;' and in Mat. xxviii. 20, when Christ promised, 
' I will be with you to the end of the world ;' he speaks not only of 
ministers, and the successors of the apostles, but of those also that believe 
through their word, for so in John xvii. 20 he interprets it, and likewise in 
John XV. 16, ' your fruit shall remain,' and so be both with ministers and 
saints as successors of the apostles ; this being the honour of the apostles, 
not only to have ministers to succeed them, but churches and believers also, 
with whom Christ is. And therefore in the Revelation, where Jesus Christ's 
presence in the church of the New Testament is presented, with allusion to 
that of the Old, chap, iv., although the vision is of the church universal 
materially considered, yet formally the representation of it is made as it is 
the seat of public worship, and therefore represented under the idea of a con- 
gregational assembly, as appeareth (as Mr Brightman and Parker and others 
have observed) in that it is set forth in order to acts of public worship per- 
formed therein. Thus there is the laver to wash in, as in the temple there 
was before they worshipped, unto which the apostle makes the allusion for 
meeting in the house of God for worship, Heb. x. 21, 22, 25, verses com- 
pared, ' Let us draw near with a pure heart and bodies washed,' which after- 
ward (ver. 25) he expounds to be assembling themselves together. And in that 
Rev. iv,, the four beasts, who are the leaders and the chorus for worship, when 
they fall down and cast down their crowns, the elders do so too. Now those 
assemblies, in which Jesus Christ hath thus set his throne and temple, they 
consist of elders and beasts having eyes, &c., that is, saints and officers,* for 

* See his exposition on the 4th and 5th cliap. Rev. in vol. 2 of his woiks. [Vol. 
III. of this edition. — £d.] 


snch is the advancement of the saints now in comparison of those under the 
Old Testament, that they themselves are called the elders, and the four living 
wights are those four sorts of officers of congregations. The thing we 
cite it for is this, that the throne and presence of Christ is with the beasts, 
as joined with the twenty-four elders, and in assemblies made up of both. 
And therefore the officers are said to be set in the church, 1 Cor. xii. 28, and 
so to work still as set in the church, but they are nowhere called the church 

Yea, and though the apostles were made immediately by Christ without a 
relation to any special or particular church, and in order principally unto 
gathering and rearing up churches, yet the choice of one apostle was made in 
a congregational church consisting of angels and people, Acts i. ; and Paul 
and Barnabas, though made apostles immediately by Christ, yet received 
their ordination in such a particular church, whilst the elders were ministering 
unto the Lord in the church of Antioch, Acts xiii. ; yea, and they themselves 
ordinaril}' did not exercise any acts of jurisdiction, either of ordination or ex- 
communication, but as still present in a particular church. They did not 
set up a court unto which churches were to come, but they rather came 
themselves and visited churches, ordained elders in every church, with fasting 
and prayer in the churches, and ordinarily they excommunicated not (though 
they might give general directions) but in a church. And however, if there 
might be cases wherein the apostles did excommunicate alone, yet they were 
very extraordinary, and no way to be imitated, as their miracles are not. 
They did not excommunicate when absent : 2 Cor. xiii. 10, ' Shall I come 
with a rod ?' ' And when I come, I shall bewail some of you,' &c. As, 
therefore, the apostles did not set up a court out of particular presbyteries, 
so presbyteries are not to set up a court out of particular churches. Yea, in 
that only instance of a synod which we have in Acts xv., the transactions of 
the apostles and elders were in and with that church of Jerusalem, where 
the brethren also were present. Thus hath God honoured the saints of the 
New Testament, that the promise of the presence of Christ should be made 
to them when gathered together with their officers, and that he will be with 
the officers even as such for the people's sake. ' You know' (saith the apostle 
to the Thessalonians) ' what manner of men we were among yon for your 
sakes,' 1 Thes. i. 5. They have not only a ministerial power for them, but 
they have a ministerial power through them, as having it for their sakes and 
by virtue of their communion, God'spromise being to be in the midst of them by 
virtue of their presence. So as although they have not a power derived to 
them ah ecclesid, as from the church, yet they have it derived to them in 
ecclesia, in the church, and also instrumentally ab ecdesid; and although 
they act not the power that is in the church in their stead, and for their ease 
doing such acts as otherwise the church should (as those of the separation 
have held), yet the assistance of the execution of their power is virtually 
in the church, the promise being made to them as a church. Neither are 
they the church representative, having a power absent and abstracted from 
the people, as is the nature of all representations (for nothing is represented 
that is present), but the church itself is the scdes, the virtual seat, in which 
this power is exercised, as the body is of the actions of the principal mem- 
bers, the spirit, and strength, and vigour of the whole body concurring and 
assisting in the acts of all such members, and therefore excommunication is 
in the name of Christ, that is, as some say, invocato noniue, or of Christ 
called upon ; and so as having the prayers of the people of God to assist, to 
put force and efficacy into it. And so ordination is done with fasting and 
prayer ; and the prayers of the saints, the least saints, have as much inlluence 

Chap. V.J the churches of christ. 79 

unto the virtual assistance of the officers in their acts before them as the 
prayers of the elders themselves ; and, therefore, the presbyterial acts that 
are abstracted thus from the people have not that efficacy in them as when the 
body of saints and elders are joined together. So as the institution falleth 
not only upon elders, but upon elders and people as a body formed up of 
both, not only because all acts of worship and jurisdiction are for the edifi- 
cation of the saints as well as of the elders, but it is because that Jesus Christ 
will have the assistance of their spirits and of their prayers, &c., which have 
as much efficacy in them to prevail with him for a blessing as those of the 
elders had. 

And in this respect the keys (as was said before) are given unto Peter both 
as a saint and as a minister, as both respects considered did meet in him, 
when the keys were given to him, so that the words to thee include both ; so 
that at least the keys are so given to the ministers as to be exercised before 
and in the presence of the saints, having an assistance from the concurrence 
of their spirits and desires. The papists would have the keys given to Peter 
alone, simply and absolutely, only they say indeed for the church, but they 
do not make the church the subject to which the keys are given. Others do 
make the church the fii'st subject to whom the keys are given, and not only 
for whom, but then they make the elders the representative church, and so 
that they are given to elders only to be exercised instead of the church. But 
we say they are given so to the church as that if they should not be the 
formal subject of parted power together with the elders, yet they are the 
virtual subject in which the elders should exercise them ; and hence it is 
that the denomination of church is from the saints, and not given to the 
officers anywhere in the New Testament. The officers are said to be set in 
the church, but they are not called the church. For the church of Christ 
must needs be a body to Christ, that still is the periphrasis of a church. 
Now, as in 1 Cor. xii. 12, 'A body is not one member but many,' (and from 
thence it is rightly argued that a bishop is not the church, for he is but one) ; 
so nor is a presbytery of elders, although many, the body, for they bear not 
the immediate relation of a body to Christ himself, but are only the repre- 
sentation of his body. And as members of all sorts do make a natural body, 
not only members that are the principal, and rule the body, but also those 
that are ruled and ordered, so is it here. 

And when Christ in Mat. xviii. saith, ' tell the church,' having first told 
the party alone himself, then brought a brother or two, as the sin of the 
ofiending party doth by this increase and grow more heinous, so the number 
of those by whom he is now to be rebuked, that are called the church, must 
be supposed to increase also, and therefore not two or three elders of a 
congregation alone. This last is the last and the highest remedy, and there- 
fore the publicness must not lie only in respect that they are public persons, 
officers ; for if it be told privately only in a consistory, it is as private as if 
it were told to two or three of the bi'ethren before, or^it may so be that the 
same elders had been taken to be the brethren that should admonish him. 
By the word church, therefore, is meant a greater company, and therefore 
not the elders alone, but the elders before the church, or rather the elders 
in the church, with whom the church is to join in the admonitions and re- 
bukes of him. 

If it be said that by making the people thus the church rather than the elders, 
it argues that more authority is given to the people than the elders in the 
church. The answer is, that that follows not ; it only follows that there is 
more efficacy and virtue by reason of the church, and the presence of the 
elders in the church, although the authoritv should lie in the elders them- 


selves, as the virtue by which the eye seeth lieth in the body subjectively and 
virtually more, though the eye alone is the instrument of seeing. 

We ar^ue also for this congregational institution to have been rather ap- 
pointed than the other, because that the bounds of this are certain, and are 
natural. God (as Baines saith) did never set a church but he did set cer- 
tain bounds of it ; as when he made the Jewish church a nation, he set the 
bounds of it to be that of a nation. Bellarmine argueth that therefore 
bishops are not divino jure, of divine right, because God did not make 
dioceses, and did not set them out by lot, as he did that of the tribes. And 
it was therefore a great contention among bishops of old, in those times of 
the fourth and fifth century, to whose jurisdiction such and such villages 
or towns should belong. In a word, the church is God's house, and God 
hath not left it unto man to frame his building to what proportion he 
pleaseth. Christ's body instituted (which is resembled unto the natural 
body throughout the epistles) is to have set limits of it, a maximum quod sic, 
and if it have all the parts that can have communion natural in the same 
common acts of nature together, though it be never so small, it is a perfect 
body ; so as it hath a prescription, and bounds are set it, both for parts, 
and a maximum, quod sic for degrees of stature. Now we have natural and 
set bounds for all instituted churches, in this way of congregational churches. 

1. The same assembly that doth meet for worship is to meet for disci- 
pline, so that discipline and worship is of equal extent as touching the seat of 
it. Now the public worship is upheld by no other society in a constant way, 
nor can be, but by congregations, as many as can meet to edify in one place. 
And therefore by preserving of fixed congregations, God hath always pre- 
served the essentials of a ministerial church, that although it suffered addi- 
tionals of corruption in power, and of tyranny in popish bishops and popes 
and the like over them, yet still because the institution of a church fell upon 
concreffations, there were true ministerial churches, and a true baptism and 
the like in all ages. 

2. The congregational government hath its bounds natural from a suf- 
ficiency of elders, for the sorts and kinds of them. There is no sort appointed 
on purpose or alone for presbyterial government ; as for episcopal, it was 
pretended there was ; but even all the sorts that are, the seats of them are 
congregational ; and where all are, there is a sufficiency of eldership, as we 
shall after shew. A congregational church had elders of all sorts appointed 
to it, as for what belongeth to worship, pastors and teachers, and as for what 
belon^eth to men's lives, ruling elders ; and there is no more elders but of 
these sorts in the greatest presbyteries over many congregations. Yea, the 
presbyteries themselves of many congregations must come furnished of all 
these sorts, out of their having all these sorts in their particular congrega- 
tions. And our presbyteries cannot say. This church shall have a pastor, and 
this church shall have a teacher, and this church shall have a ruling elder, 
and so we will make up a presbytery out of all these ; but every church is 
the seat dejure, by divine right, of all these, and every church hath need of 
all these, and Christ hath appointed these to congregations first. 

3. We can derive the limits of congregational churches from the time that 
is instituted for worship, which is the Lord's day, which God hath fixed, 
and on which day no other churches meet, and so there is no set time for 
the exercise of a presbyterial church. It is Baines his argument against the 
bishops, that God did appoint for all church meetings under the law a time. 
And in Tertullian's time we read that the censures of excommunication were 
executed upon the Lord's day, and admonition and the like, though things 
mi'^ht be prepared upon the week days. And the apostle's words in 1 Cor. v., 

Chap. V.] the churches of cheist. 81 

that they shall cast him out when they are met together (he doth not bid 
them meet together on purpose), seems to incline to it. We know of no 
time that God hath appointed for all ordinances (whereof this is one) in a 
set way as the fixed season of them, but only this Lord's day, and upon this 
day pi'esbyterial churches cannot meet for government. 

4. That the duties which lie upon the relation of elders to preach and to 
rule should all be of the same extent (for the subject of them over which 
they are exercised), all this fallethin naturally with the institution of congre- 
gations, and elders over them, and the relation of elders to them. Men 
should not govern ordinarily beyond their preaching. This is evident from 
what the New Testament holds forth concerning elders in their relations to 
their flocks committed to them, the exhortations and charges to them of 
duties towards those flocks, founded upon that relation ; as also the duties 
of their flocks to them, which is like to be the truest measure to find out the 
extent of their power and bounds of their flocks, whether for the ordinary 
way it be hmited to one congregation or many. For those exhortations 
must needs be supposed suited to the boundaries of churches, and to that 
constitution and extent of relation wherein the elders of these primitive times 
were placed over them. And like as in the question about polygamy, what 
the Scripture hath said of the duties of man and wife, which were given and 
suited to the extent of that relation, as God from the beginning bounded it, 
manifestly evinceth that one man cannot have many wives, but one ; so it 
may be argued as to the point in hand. 

We have hitherto taken this for an undoubted maxim, that as a mutual 
relation is the fountain of all power, whether economical, civil, or ecclesias- 
tical, so the extent of all power is commensurable with the extent of that 
relation. A master, as a master, hath power but over such servants of 
whom he may say, * I am your master' ; and they of him, ' We are your 
servants;' 'for what hath any man to do to judge another man's ser- 
vant ?' as the apostle speaks, Rom. xiv. 4. And so correspondently here, 
those elders that assume to be over either one or many congregations, 
must have, as the office of elders, so the relation of elders unto that one, or 
those many congregations, that they may be able to say. We are your elders, 
and you all our church ; which two are, in Scripture expression, the relate 
and correlate, as king and kingdom, magistrate and commonwealth ; all 
which falls in naturally for the set bounds of a church to be those of con- 
gregations. Whereas the bounds that the presbyterial way goeth by in all 
their subordinations are uncertain. You have not a certainty of number of 
oflicers. Some particular congregations have as many officers as some 
classes have had. Neither is it essential to that government that there 
should be many congregations ; for they acknowledge that it may so fall out 
that there may be but one congregation that may have all the government in 
it in cases of necessity. But it is essential to upholding worship in all the 
parts of it, that there be a fixed congregational church. 

And to make the jurisdiction of cities to be the pattern of ecclesiastical 
government cannot be a certain rule. For London, or greater cities (as 
suppose Grand Cairo was converted), would vastly exceed the lesser ; and so 
the rule would fall in disproportion if you come in the country towns and 
villages. And indeed what reason can be given that God should proportion 
an ecclesiastical government to the boundaries of the civil '? What ! Be- 
cause the cities under the Roman empire had a jurisdiction in them, and 
they over their suburbs, must their churches have so too ? Hath God thus 
conformed his church unto the government of this world ? And besides, all 



states have not the Hke government, neither was the government of all 
countries a city government ; and so thei'e could be no certain rule for 
church government, if it were to be chalked off by these measures. 

Neither is the government of nations a certain rule for that of the church, 
for the Jews after that rate, when they were two nations, should have been 
but one church. And, indeed, to form the institution of a church to that 
boundary had been to do it from what is accidental ; for that they should 
grow up to a nation is accidental. God did find the Jews a nation entire, 
entered into a covenant with them, and so made them a national church. 
And if God had designed a national church under the New Testament, he 
would have given laws aforehand, as he did for the Jews when they should 
come into cities ; so that, although they were now in the wilderness, and they 
were not to come into cities, till they came into Canaan many years after, yet 
he giveth a law for that condition of their being a nation and living in cities. 


That conf^rcgational churches were desir/ned in the institution of Christ, proved 
from instances of the primitive churches planted hj the apostles. — The first 
instance assigned from the states and order of the church at Corinth. 

Now, for the proof of all or most of the particulars of which I have dis- 
coursed in the preceding chapters, I shall bring, as the conclusion of all, the 
instance of the church of Corinth, which is the greatest and surest pattern, 
and the most complete of all other. It is the greatest pattern, because it 
answers to the institution in Mat. xviii. (as in the directions given to that 
church in the 1 Cor. v. and the phrases that about excommunication are put 
into it, being compared with that in Mat. xviii. doth appear.) As there 
Christ, in the promise that he makes to the church, when it bindeth sin, 
useth that phrase, ' Where two or three are joined together, I am in the 
midst of them,' Mat. xviii. 20 ; so here likewise, in 1 Cor. v. 4, the apostle's 
direction runs in the same phrase, ' when you are gathered together.' As 
there Christ saith, ' gather together in my name,' so here the apostle saith, 
. ' when ye are gathered together in my name, and with the power of the 
Lord Jesus.' As Christ there in his promise saith, ' I will be in the midst 
of you,' when ye are so gathered ; so here, speaking of their gathering to- 
gether, and throwing him out of the congi-egation, the apostle useth the 
same phrase, ' Take him from the midst of you.' As there, upon his being 
cast out, he is to be reckoned as an heathen and a publican, with whom the 
Jew'S would not eat, so here, if a brother be thus, they are not to accompany 
with him, no, not to eat with him. It is the surest instance of the ordinary 
power left in a church, because it was a church that was formed up, in which 
there was that ordinary government which was to continue to the end of the 
world. The instance of the church of Jerusalem is an instance, though of 
the first church, yet for the government of it hath this extraordinary in it, 
that it was then governed by the apostles, and therefore cannot make a pat- 
tern of the government of churches, and the power of elders therein, which 
should ordinarily and for continuance be exercised. But this is an instance 
of a church Vv^hom the apostle Paul leaves to their own power that is within 
them ('Do not ye judge,' &c., 1 Cor. v. 12), which they had exercised and 
practised. The church of Jerusalem also had many other things extraordi- 
nary, as that about having their goods common, &c. But the rules that he 
gives to this church are such as he gave to all churches ; so when he speaks 
about laying up, not making their goods common, as at Jerusalem, but the 

Chap. VI.] the churches of chkist. 83 

ordinary way that was to be observed conceruiug alms, * Lot every man lay 
up' (saith he, 1 Cor. xvi. 3, 4, vii. 17) 'as God hath blessed him; and so 
I ordain in all the churches.' So as the pattern hereof is held forth, as that 
which held correspondency with the ordinances in all churches in the primi- 
tive times. And therefore is* an argument against the bishops ; when they 
urged the instances of Timothy and Titus, presbyterian divines used to 
answer, that the instance of their government will not hold as a pattern for 
episcopal government, because that their government was extraordinary and 
for the present, but that we must take that which was the ordinary govern- 
ment that was left in the church, and make that the pattern. So we may 
say of the church of Jerusalem, and the government thereof at first by the 
apostles, whilst they were there, comparatively to this of the church of 
Corinth, that it is not so great a standing pattern to us. And this of the 
church of Corinth is the most complete pattern of all other churches, for he 
doth give direction almost about all sort of things concerning worship and 
government, and he utters more rules in his epistles to this church than any 
other. Thus he gives instructions concerning the sacrament, 1 Cor. xi. ; 
about ministers' maintenance, chap. ix. ; about matter of scandal and offence, 
chap. viii. ; about collection for the poor, chap, xvi.; how to order their 
meetings, chap. xiv. ; about covering and uncovering in their assemblies, he 
saith he had left ti'aditions with them, and wherein they practised according 
to his traditions he commendeth them, 1 Cor. xi. 2. He speaks also of the 
power amongst them to judge of doctrine, chap. xiv. ; and that they were a 
church that had power amongst them to order things for matter of worship 
in a decencj' — ' Let all be done decently, and according to order,' 1 Cor. 
xiv. 40 — and many things of the like natui-e. And last of all, it is the only 
instance and example of excommunication, the highest censure which the 
apostle gives direction about, and tells them they had power to do it, 1 Cor. v. 
Now, concerning this church, there are all these things appertaining to a 
church, and the institution, and power, and government thereof held forth 
here ; as, 

1. Here is a church ; so it is called. 

2. Here is the qualifications of the members, a church of saints, 1 Cor. 
i. 2, conformable to which all other churches were to be as to the constitution 
of their members also : chap. xiv. 33, * As in all the churches of the saints.' 
All the churches consisted of saints then, that were visibly such, as this of 
Corinth also did. 

3. It was a church formed up into a body, as all those phrases imply, that 
they are called a whole lump, chap. v. 6, and a whole church, chap. xiv. 23, 
entire, complete within itself; which whole lump would be leavened, not only 
by way of infection by the incestuous person, but by way of guilt, if ho were 
not cast out. 

4.1 It was a body which had power to judge them that are within : ' Do 
not ye judge them that are within?' chap. v. 13, that is, within your own 
body, and society, and fellowship; therefore he saith, 'Put away from 
among yourselves,' chap. v. 13 ; therefore he useth those phrases, ' Forni- 
cation is committed among you ; that he that did this deed may be taken 
from among you,' chap. i. 1, 2. It was a church formed up that had a 
jurisdiction over them within (and to them without he could not reach) ; and 
if they had power to cast out, they had also power to take in ; it was therefore 
a formed body. 

5. It was a fixed body in respect of the relation of the members one unto 
another. Why else doth he bid them to tarry one for another when they 

* Qu. 'in'?— Ed. 


were to eat the Lord's supper ? chap. xi. 33. And that they should not take 
the sacrament alone, one company by themselves, and another company by 
themselves, which, if such a promiscuous unfixed way was lawful, they might 
have done, but thej' were to tarry one for another, that all the church might 
as one body at once receive. Now, if they had not been a fixed company, 
why should they have been obliged thus to have tarried, or who could have 
known who was absent and who present ? 

•6. It was a church also that had elders over them, and those more than 
one; for speaking of the ordinary teachers that were ministers amongst 
them, some say (saith he), * I am of Paul, and I am of ApoUos, and I am 
of Christ,' 1 Cor. i. 12 ; which he in a figure transferred to himself and to 
Apollos, herein speaking in his own person ; but it tendeth to represent the 
persons of their teachers, the ministers to whom they did give maintenance, 
and were therefore officers : 1 Cor. ix. 12, 'If others be partakers of this 
power over you, are not we rather?' 

7. It was a church having set bounds, by which they might know who 
were within and who not ; for when he saith, ' Do not ye judge them that 
are within ?' 1 Cor. v. 13, he doth not mean all saints in all churches, but 
it must be tliose within themselves. The bounds set by this, that they 
might be as many as could meet in one assembly, 1 Cor. xiv. 23. ' K the 
whole church be come together in one place,' &c. 

8- It was a particular congregation. 1. This is evident from their divi- 
sions and contentions, which he findeth fault withal, as in a whole church, 
a whole body, ' that there be no schism in the body,' as he himself expresseth, 
1 Cor. xii. 25, applying it to them, ' now ye are the body of Christ, and mem- 
bers in particular.' He speaks of these divisions as being among those that 
did meet in one for worship : 1 Cor. xi. 18, * For first when ye come together 
in the church, I hear there be divisions among you, and I partly believe it.' 
And this division was in their meetings in the church for worship, 1 Cor. 
xi. 22. And ' have ye not houses to eat and drink it, but despise ye the 
church of God ? ' the assembly of the saints, as he reproves their divisions 
and disorders in respect of the sacrament. To remedy these divisions, he 
bids them tarry one for another, ver. 33. Thus these directions concern 
them that are one congregation for worship, that use to meet in one place ; 
and, chap. xii. 21, he saith they were members of one another in particular, 
in a more special relation. Now, that special particular near relation is that 
between those of the same congregation, where they meet fixedly for wor- 
ship, by the consent and before the people, of which a man is therefore cast 
out, which he is not out of any other church in the world. 2. In this respect 
he calleth them a temple to God, spealdug against them that caused divisions 
in the church : 1 Cor. iii. 16, ' The temple of God are ye,' and that he that 
went about to destroy it by divisions, God would destroy him. He speaks 
not personally of each member, as in chap, vi., but in respect of their church 
state, as they were a body, in opposition to divisions. Now the temple is for 
all the ordinances of worship, therefore called the house of God. 3. He 
gives directions to them as to a whole church, chap. xiv. 23, ' If the whole 
church be come together in some place.' 4. He speaks of it also as a 
church, which was to receive edifying together by the ordinances adminis- 
tered, so chap. xiv. ver. 5, ' I would that ye all spake with tongues, but 
rather that ye prophesied : for greater is he that prophesieth than he that 
speaks with tongues, that the church may be edified ;' so ver. 12, ' See that 
ye excel to the edifj'ing of the church.' And if the whole congregation, &c. ; 
and ver. 2G, he speaks this in application to them all in respect of their 
meeting : ' How is it then, brethren, when ye come together,' &c. 

Chap. VI.] the churches of christ. 85 

As their assembly for worship proves them to have been a particular con- 
gregation for worship, so also the directions given concerning excommuni- 
cation evince it, chap v. ; for if they had been many congregations in respect 
of their members, 1. He would have written to that particular congregation 
whereof the man was, as that congregation (at least the elders thereof) which 
should (according to presbyterial principles) be told first of an offending 
member before he is brought to the classical. He would have named that 
church he was thus a member of, and written to it in a peculiar manner, 
whereas now he names none, but writes to the whole church. 2. When his 
dii-ections come to fall upon the execution of the act, he doth not mention 
the sentence so much that was to be passed (according to our brethren) in 
the presbytery, but the act of execution, the act of delivery to Satan, was to 
be done when they were met together ; which being to be done in that par- 
ticular church whereof he was a member, if there had been many congrega- 
tions there, he would have named that church as that in which it should 
have been done. Especially considering that the apostle in his writing 
pitcheth upon that solemn act of excommunication, which completeth the 
throwing of a man out, which, as all grant, is done and performed in the 
gathering together of that particular congregation, whereof a man is a mem- 
ber. 3. If there had been a classical church over many congregations where 
the elders meet, and a congregational church too, where this person did meet 
with the elders of his own church and the congregation, if there had been 
these two several sorts of church meetings, it would have been obscure and 
dark, unto which the apostle's directions should refer him ; so as there 
would have been need of new distinctions of meetings as well as of elders 
and churches, when the apostle speaks but of one. Yea, the apostle saith, 
' when met together,' 1 Cor. v. 4, namely, for other ordinances upon the 
Lord's day, that then they should give this sentence of excommunication. 
He doth not give directions that they should meet together on purpose for 
that, but as discipline is to keep worship pure and subserveth it, so also is 
it to be performed when the whole meet together for worship, that the person 
also may see out of what a communion he is cast. 5. Saith he,. ' Do not ye 
judge them that are within ? ' If there had been congregational churches, 
one whereof he had been a member of (for he could be but a member of one), 
and another classical church, here had been two vHthins, and which of these 
should the apostle intend ? Our presbyterian brethren say, that the con- 
gregations have power to judge things within themselves, so that they must 
needs have one u-ithiii, and why should not their within be the within here 
intended for the ultimate throwing out of this man ? 

9. This church at Corinth also had an entire judicature within itself, not 
depending upon the advice of any for sentence, and the like ; for he speaks 
of the whole act, ' Do not ye judge them that are within ? ' He useth the 
same word that he useth of himself and his power, ' Do not ye judge' (saith 
he), speaking of them ; ' what have I to do to judge,' speaking of himself. 
And (saith he) ' when ye are gathered together with my spirit, and the 
power of the Lord Jesus, to deliver such an one to Satan.' So that they 
were not dependent upon the apostle, to come to him for the sentence ; only 
in their neglect the apostle writes to them as an apostle, with this rule, to 
excommunicate such an one if the parly be found guilty, which the apostle 
did never know but by hearsay, therefore could never pass a judicial sen- 
tence ; but he finds fault with them, because they had not done it, for do 
not ye use to do it ? saith he. Have not ye power to do it ? ' Do not ye 
judge them that are within ? ' He doth not say, * whom I have delivered 
unto Satan,' but directs them as a church of Christ having such power to do it. 


Object. But it is objected by'some that he did it for a trial of their obedience, 
and therefore their act was but an act of obedience in them, but the power 
was in him. 

Ans. The answer is this, that the power might completely rest in them, 
and yet they obey the apostle in the act, as an apostle directing them, when 
they neglected it ; as when a prophet in the name of God bade the magistrate 
to do his duty, though it is an act of obedience in him to do it thus com- 
manded, 3'et he hath power as a magistrate in himself. And as in case a 
minister had neglected to baptize, and the apostle had sent to him or com- 
manded him to have done it, the power of baptizing must be said to be in 
him that baptizeth. 

10. If this church of Corinth had been a church that might have asso- 
ciated, it would have done it, for it had neighbour church near it, the church 
of Cenchrea, which was a port town to Corinth, as Leith is to Edinburgh ; 
and Cenchrea was but a small town, not a city ; but he writeth to the church 
of Corinth as an entire church distinct of itself. 

That the people have an interest in judging, we refer that to the proofs 
out of this place, only we name it here to shew the completeness of this 
pattern, for the forming of congregational churches answerable to it. 


That the nam^ of a church given in the New Testament to conrjregational 
churches rather than any other [as is proved from several texts, 1 Cor. xi. 
18, Rom, xvi. 1, 5, 1 Cor. iv. 17, dc), proves congregational churches to 
have been intended by Christ in his institution of a church, they most pro - 
2)erly being both in name and nature such. — T/iat a presbyterian assembly of 
elders cannot lyroperly be called a church, evinced by several arguments. 

To decide the controversy about the divine institution of a congregational 
church, we may put it to the trial, whether single congregations with their 
elders have more the style of churches in the New Testament, than the elders 
of many congregations as assembled in a consistory, and let that determine 
it. Now that those congregations where God is publicly worshipped, and 
the preaching of the word, and the sacraments administered, are called each 
of them a church, is evident. 

1. In 1 Cor. xi. 18, ' When you come together in the church,' he speaks 
of their meeting for the Lord's supper, ver. 20, and in ver. 22 he calls it so 
again. So their meeting for preaching and for singing of psalms, he calls it a 
church, chap. xiv. ver. 2, 19, 23 ; he calls it a whole church meeting for 
those ends. And there he gives not the name to the meeting or assembly, 
but to the state and company, ver. 28, for the rules he giveth there are for 
ordering of worship. So too in Rom. xvi. 4, saluting Aquila and Priscilla 
(who for his life would lay down their own necks), he giveth these congre- 
gations the name of churches ; 'unto whom' (sai'h he) * not only I give thanks, 
but also all the churches of the Gentiles ;' and ver. 16, ' The churches of 
Christ salute you.' Were those a company of elders over many congrega- 
tions met ? presbyterial churches, that did testify their thanks unto Aquila 
and Priscilla ? Or were they congregations of saints and strangers also 
where Paul had been ? He had related unto them his own danger, and 
Aquila's, and Priscilla's, exposing their lives for his ; and can it be 
supposed that the saints, as making several presbyterial churches (who 
are so vast, like ours, as the people never meet to do it), did salute 

Chap. VII.] the churches of christ. 87 

the Eomans, and Aquila and Priscilla ? No ; rather the several con- 
gregational churches might well have an opportunity to express the re- 
membrance of them at their meetings. And the first verse and the fifth 
verse of Rom. xvi. "will easily prompt us what manner of churches he 
meaneth, when he speaks of all these churches, that they were such as 
was at Cenchrea ; ' the church which is at Cenchrea,' saith lie, which was 
a small port seven miles off Corinth ; and ver. 5, saith he, ' Greet ye the 
church that is (i. e. that met) in Priscilla's house.' Such churches as these 
were the churches of the Gentiles, who saluted them. If we come to the 
epistle of the Corinths, saith the apostle, 1 Cor. iv. 17, ' As I teach every- 
where in every church.' Doth he mean these presbyterial churches or con- 
sistories, or congregational ? Surely the churches where Paul still preached 
and taught must be congregational ; for those assemblies are the subjects 
and seats of teaching. Take also the 17th verse of the 7th chapter, and 
bring it along unto the 11th chapter, ' So I ordain in all the churches ;' and 
* We have no such custom, nor the churches of God.' What ! presbyterial 
or congregational ? Let but this one consideration decide it. The custom 
of which he speaks that the contentions were about, was whether men should 
be uncovered or covered praying or prophesying. Now, all the meetings for 
worship where men and women, and where the angels (whether celestial or 
elders), were present, these assemblies where these ordinances were used he 
calleth churches, and he saith they had no such custom. And in these re- 
spects of meeting thus for worship they are distinguished, churches, and are 
made several churches, in the plural ; and the general usages of all these 
churches, as constituted and ordered by the apostles everywhere, he here 
presseth. If we come to chap, xiv., he there gives order about prophesying 
in their meetings, into which strangers came and were converted ; ver. 25, 
in which they had psalms and doctrines ; ver. 26, where men and women 
were present ; vers. 34 and 35, and therefore congregational meetings are 
meant. And he enforceth these directions he gives, with the examples of 
all the like churches in all their meetings : * God is not the author of con- 
fusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints,' ver. 33. These 
must needs be congregational assemblies and churches that met, for he speaks 
of the churches of the saints in common. Yet still, you see when he speaks 
of churches, yea, and of all churches, he speaks of them as such. And, chap, 
xvi. 1, when he writeth about laying up contribution for the saints (the 
gathering and disposing of which belongeth unto particular congregations, 
for the money, to be sure, is had from thence) : ' As I have given order,' 
says he, 'to the churches of Galatia, so do ye;' he meaneth those churches 
of Galatia he wrote to. Gal. ii. ; and these must be all congregational, for 
to order that collection belongeth to the several congregations. And ver. 19, 
' The churches of Asia,' saith he, 'salute you.' Now, the many congrega- 
tions under a presbytery, they do not meet to give salutes ; they were there- 
fore congregational, for with a congregational church in this salute he doth 
join them all ; for he addeth, ' Aquila and Priscilla saluteth you, with the 
church that is in their house,' and why should we not think that he speaks 
uniformly in the same verse ? This, we see, is the uniform style of the 
apostle when he speaks of churches, and of all churches. 

2. As for the very name church in the New Testament, the place of con- 
gregational meetings almost in all languages hath the name of church, which 
name no places for general councils or presbyterial meetings over many con- 
gregations at any time have had. Not that we think the place of meeting 
to be properly called the church, but only ■/.arayjniartxZic,, but yet it had 
originally its name from the meeting and the persons, which were properly 


called the church, and from their stated condition to meet in one place, the 
place was so named. The clergy, indeed, hath been called the church, but 
not as met or assembled in any synod, but in the indefinite universal notion. 
But the place for the congregation is called the church, and the meeting of 
the saints hath the same name : 1 Cor. xiv. 34, ' Let your women keep 
silence in the churches.' And their constant meeting in a fixed manner, and 
their state in order thereto, is called the church, Acts xi. 26. The sacra- 
ment also was anciently called eum^ig, i. e. the meeting, their meetings being 
said to be to break bread. Acts xx. 7. And in the great Bible the word church 
is always translated by congreyation. And among the Grecians, ' 'Exx'f^riGia 
was never used for a representative meeting only of officers, but of the people 
also ; and so it is in Acts xix. 39-41, where the people making a tumult, it 
is called 'ExxX^ff/a, although an unlawful one. And although that Christ, 
Mat. xviii., used the Hebrew phrase, yet churches being to be set up among 
the Gentiles under the New Testament, that phrase was used also which was 
conformed unto what theirs signified. 

Also, under the New Testament, the name church imports the saints, the 
people, in a more peculiar manner ; and therefore the meetings where elders 
are severed from the people are not called the church (Grotius in Mat. xvi. 
18). And this too the expressions which are used in 2 Cor. vi. 16 shew ; 
' Ye are the temples of the living God ; I will dwell in them, and walk in 
them ; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.' And in Acts 
xii. 5, ' Prayer was made of the church,' i. e. of the saints, ' unto God for 
Peter.' Yea, this word church is taken for the people of Israel under the 
Old Testament, as Acts vii. 38. 

3. We desire one place to be given where the name church in all the New 
Testament is given to the meeting of the elders alone. When the apostle 
speaks of all the churches, he gives them this appellation, ' all the churches 
of the saints,' 1 Cor. xiv. 33 ; but he nowhere expresseth the churches of 
the ministers or elders, no, nor of the apostles neither. Now, can we think 
that Christ in his first institution (Mat. xvi. and Mat. xviii.), which the 
apostles were to interpret afterward, and to give directions to us about it, 
meaned the word church in a signification different from what the apostles 
used ? This would be a strange procedm-e indeed. How, then, can the 
elders lay a claim to the things, when they have not a sufficient ground to 
challenge the name of a church ? As Parker, replying to Dr Billson's asser- 
tion of the keys being given in Peter's person to the church of ministers, 
very well says,* that it may be denied that the name church is ever in the 
Scriptures restrained only to the priests. Clemens Romanus, when he 
writes to the church of Corinth, writes to the church, and not to the presby- 
ters (so the apostles too in their epistles), and writes also from the church 
at Rome. And when all the apostles were met at Jerusalem, yet they alone 
are not called the church, being but (as Moses is said to be, Heb. iii. 2-5, a 
part of the house, but nowhere called the house) a part of it : Acts viii. 1, 
' The church was scattered except the apostles.' And indeed, if the elders 
were the entire church, then they were the house of God, whereas they are 
but stewards in it, 1 Cor. iv. 1. The apostles, though they had the care of 
all the churches, and that power in their hands which the generality of elders 
would never claim, yet they were but officers in the church, not the church. 
Many churches become one church to no officer in the world but Christ; but 
this pretence of the elders being the church, would make many churches one 
church to a company of elders, that they may govern them ; and in relation 
to them as representers of the church, they must be called one church. 
* Parkerus de Polit. Eccles. lib. iii. c. i., Clemens Epist. ad Coriutb, p. 1. 

Chap. VII.J the churches of christ. 89 

What though the Old Testament frame or language be urged, we grant 
there was then a church representative, but the gospel knows no such now. 

4. Surely a settled congregation of saints deserveth the name of church 
more ; and suppose places could be found in Scripture where it is taken both 
for elders and the people apart, yet those meetings that have both elders and 
people of both sorts must needs have more of church in them. We can give 
instances that the disciples apart are caUed the church, in distinction from 
the officers. You cannot give one instance where the officers are called 
the church in distinction from the disciples. Certainly those that have 
the power have the name, and not those only that have the name equivocally 
or metaphorically. 

5. A presbyterial church is called a church in relation to the people of 
those congregations, by their own confessions, when they interpret the church 
of Jerusalem, the church of Ephesus, to be many congregations (and the 
presbyterial's argument is built thereon), and that the people of all those 
congregations make one church under that one eldership. Now, it is strange 
that they should have a name of church only as they are the subject or ob- 
ject of discipline, and yet not so much as meet for that discipHne actually 
neither, for so they cannot in a presbyterial church. The poor people of 
those churches have no communion of saints together herein, but such as 
they hold with all other churches that are not under the same presbytery ; 
and yet they are, according to presbyterial principles in their officers, as re- 
presenting them, a distinct church classical from all churches else. So they 
make use of the name from the people, when the people enjoy not the thing. 
The poor church of Jerusalem, Acts viii. 1 (when it is said that the church 
was scattered), affords you an argument that therefore there was but one 
church for discipline in Jerusalem, and in that respect it is called one 
church, when yet the scattering was not upon the presbyterial church that 
exercised discipline, but upon the people. They were not in the repre- 
sentative body persecuted, and yet though they were scattered as a church 
personally, and not representatively, and persecuted as a church personally, 
not representatively only, yet, according unto the presbyterian principles, 
they never met as a church personally, but only representatively. 

If it be said that the people in classical assemblies may meet ; yet it is 
no otherwise than the people in the next classes, which if they will may come 
thither, neither can they all possibly. You lay no more obligation on them 
to be present than you do upon the people of the next classes, and therefore 
in that respect the people of that particular classis are no more of that church 
than those of other neighbouring presbyters. 

6. Those assemblies must have more of church in them, not only that 
have both elders and people, as congregations have, but that have constant 
worship in them, as well as government ; and our presbyterians allow some 
government to congregations, i. e. to the elders of congregations. Worship 
is the chief end of a church. The formal notion of a church is to meet and 
communicate in worship ; and where there can be no church- fellowship and 
communion to the edification of the whole, there cannot be a church, which 
may be illustrated by the natural body, to which still instituted churches in 
Scripture are compared. The eye, the hand, the head, they serve to several 
uses m the body, yet they are so united as they are all nourished with the 
same individual nourishment, and from the same stomach, and therefore 
this is a several body, having all these parts, from another body. So is it 
here in the churches instituted, they are such as have a communion in all 
the common ordinances, not only in the same kind, but in the same ordi- 
nances individually in a constant way. And the analogy of the church uni- 



versal, and the churches particular, will help to illustrate this further, for 
the church universal being one body, is therefore fed by one kind of ordi- 
nances. As there is one body, so there is one baptism for kind. But the 
particular churches which are instituted, are such bodies as are fed with one 
and the same individual baptism, and one and the same individual Lord's 
supper, and so are one bread. In a word then, all can come to those 
classical churches, or they cannot come. If they come, then they are to 
make one church for worship too ; if they cannot come, then there cannot 
be a fellowship for the edification of the whole ; and when the communion of 
saints cannot be exercised, how can that be a church ? Every chui'ch is a 
temple : Eph. ii. 22, 1 Cor. iv. 16, ' The temple of God are ye.' Now the 
temple did chiefly relate to worship, and was the subject of all ordinances, 
and the place where the Sanhedrim sat too. Answerably under the New 
Testament, the preaching of the gospel is called serving at the altar, 1 Cor. 
ix. 14.^ tio 1 Pet. ii. 5, the saints are built up to oiler sacrifices. God's 
house is called an house of prayer. The church is called a body to Christ : 
' One body and one bread ' (as was said afore), 2 Cor. x. 17, because they 
partake of one bread. But none of these do belong to a presbyterial 
church ; they may pray occasionally, but the ordinance of prayer and con- 
stant worship is not there. Public worship lies in a commuuion, therefore 
it is to be only with those that can enjoy communion together. Yea, it is 
made the very definition of a church in the article of the church of England, 
which article we hope will never be changed, Ecclesia est numerus fidelium 
(so others also defiine it) in cultu divino et discipUna commmiicantium. The 
church is a number of believers communicating in divine worship and dis- 
ciplme, which a presbyterial church is not. The end of a church is that 
God may be publicly worshipped ; he would not have instituted churches 
else, but principally for that, therefore he had cougregations to do it, in 
which only it is done ; and discipline superadded is but to keep that kind 
of worship pure, for government is but casting out of the body impure 
members ; and therefore the great ordinance of discipline, of excommunica- 
tion, is when they are met together, then they are to cast out from amongst 
them. As the intent of it is but to keep the worship pure, so answerably it 
is to be exercised then when they meet to worship ; but presbyterial churches 
meet not for worship, but discipline only. Now as the body is ordained for 
meat principally, and nourishment, and is not ordained for physic but 
occasionally, so it is as to the state of the church, and therefore our divines 
make the essential notes of a church to be the word, sacraments, and dis- 
cipline ; but in these presbyterial churches the word and sacraments are 
wanting, and there is only government. The general assembly of the saints 
in heaven is a church in relation unto worsbip, and though there is no dis- 
cipline there, yet they are never more a church than when they are there. 
And the apostle also, speaking of the church in the New Testament in Heb. x., 
saith that now there is an house of God, because there is an high priest, 
as well as before, ver. 21 ; and therefore (he saith) ' Let us draw near ' (he 
speaks of public worship), ' not forsaking the assembling of ourselves to- 
gether,' ver, 25, and that in synagogues, for so the word signifies. And 
therefore in Mat. xviii., as discipline, so prayer is meant, and unto that is 
the promise of Christ to be in the midst of them more peculiarly made, and 
upon occasion of that. And indeed it were exceeding strange, that seeing 
the chief end of churches (which are congregations) is for worship, and that 
is the great business for which they are appointed, that if there were many 
congregations in those of Jerusalem, and those of Antioch, and the hke, as 
is pretended, that there should not be mention of those many congregations, 

Chap. VII.] the chukches of christ. 91 

under the names of churches, but that discipline only must carry away 
the denomination of their being one church, though many in relation unto 
it. If there were one word in any of those instances, that there were many 
churches among them making one church, it were something ; but there 
is not. 

7. If such a presbyterial company of elders were a church, then discipline 
must merely constitute a church as a church. And so the objection against 
the episcopal government, viz. that for government alone there was an order 
of priesthood, namely, a bishop, will come with greater force here, as being 
very strange, that for government alone there should be a church instituted. 
And that discipline doth never constitute any kind of church is clear, because 
that which can abesse, not he, and adesse, be, without the destruction of the 
subject, will never constitute it. But so all divines do say of discipline, 
that a church may be a church, though it be defective in discipline, there- 
fore it is not that which doth constitute a church. And this principle the 
church of England is concerned to hold up, or else they will justify separa- 
tion from them, as having been hitherto no true churches. But lo, here is 
a church, a presbyterial church, that is a church upon no other considera- 
tion but for discipline. 

8. And add to this, that since presbyterial government makes congrega- 
tions (which are churches, having each their elders over them) to be united 
for government unto one presbyterial church, let us but consider how many 
several churches it makes. 

(1.) For, first, there is the particular congregations, consisting of people 
and their elders, for worship ; they are one sort of churches. 

(2.) There is, secondly, the eldership in everyone of those congregations, 
which, according to their principles, is the church, for they interpret Mat. 
xviii. to be, tell that eldership, that is, tell the church ; there is a second 

(3.) Then, thirdly, there is all these elders met in one for the government 
of any of these congregations ; there is a third sort of churches. For these 
elders must be a church in a true sense for the people, or they cannot meet; 
and if they will challenge government by virtue of Mat. xviii., they must 
needs challenge to be a church. Now let it be considered, that those are 
not so much subordinations as national and provincial (which are but sub- 
ordinations of the same kind, for the same ends), which consists of greater 
or lesser number of elders ; but these are diversifications, several sorts of 
bodies going to make up one church, that it might be complete both for 
worship and government. And that it is a diversification is clear by this, 

[1.] Because they are churches for difi'ering purposes. The congregations 
are churches for worship, but the particular elderships and presbyterial 
elderships are only for discipline ; now ends do diversify such bodies. 

[2.] They are not the same churches by way of accumulation, as many 
things of the same sort laid together, which is clear by this, because the 
particular churches consist of people and elders, but these have elders of 
chui'ches only. And as we urge in our argument that is drawn from elders, 
that this presbyterial government would make one man to be a double sort 
of elders, both a ruling and a teaching elder, — a ruling elder to some 
churches, and a teaching elder to others, — so also this makes them several 
sorts of churches. 

[3. J It must needs make a diversification of churches. For as when 
many families unite into a city for government, there is a new relation and 
notion, so now here, there is the notion of a new church. And then, 

[4. J Add to this (which heighteneth the absurdity of it), that whereas the 


presbyterial church is made the complete church, they yet do want those 
great and main ordinances for which principally a church is said to be a 
church, as the saci'aments and the like. So of the two, this greater church 
is the less complete, and therefore is less the church than a particular con- 

And if 3'-ou say they are made complete churches by being both, yet you 
make at leastwise two sorts of churches, as we said before ; and you make 
a whole church more uncomplete as it is in the whole than it is in the parts. 

If it be said that the church universal is one, and yet hath no ordinances 
as a church, as preaching the word and sacraments, and yet it is truly a 
church, we answer, it is not a church instituted in relation unto ordi- 
nances, but a church mystical in relation unto persons and personal graces. 

This also farther addeth confirmation to us, that the supposition of there 
being many congregations in all, or many of those cities, under a common 
presbyterian government of many elders, thus in the general only held forth, 
leaveth room for, yea, is the occasion of, a variety of suppositions of several 
frames and forms of government which those congregations might be cast 
into, both in relation to their officers and to the members mutually among 
themselves. 1. As that either they were conventus promiscui (as Didoclavius 
calls them), promiscuous unfixed assemblies, some meeting together at one 
place or time, some at another time with others, having no fixed relations. 
Or else that they were fixed meetings, in respect of the members divided 
into set determinate companies meeting constantly together. 2. Or else, 
otherwise, supposing them set and fixed congregations in respect of the 
members, yet there are other as various and more difficult suppositions that 
may still be made concerning the relation of these officers and elders, how 
they were disposed of to the right performance of their duties, which the 
command of the word lays on them toward their flock ; as whether they 
were either fixed and appropriated to these several congregations respectively, 
some to one, some to another (as it is in most of the reformed churches, 
and is with us, and we suppose will not be altered amongst us), or else un- 
fixed in respect of all the congregations, so as equally and mutually in their 
course these ministers might preach and officiate to them all by turns (as 
in some cities in Holland). And then, 3, if you suppose them fixedly 
divided into several congregations, then another question cometh, what 
power those elders that are appropriated to each congregation should have 
over the flock ? Whether over all, or none, or some part ? Now it is the 
supposition of there being many congregations under one presbytery, that 
only is the ground of this uncertainty, and bringeth in this variety of sup- 
positions of these several ways how these things should be cast, whereas the 
supposing of them to be but several distinct churches, though great ones, 
will make all things fall in naturally. For then there could be but one way 
of casting and moulding members, nor could there be but one common re- 
lation of elders ; and so all those duties and things that are spoken about 
the power and duties of elders, and of the members amongst themselves, 
and whatsoever is spoken of churches and elders, their dues and duties, run 
all but in one channel. And then consider too (supposing them many con- 
gregations) that the designing out which of those suppositions was the pat- 
tern left by the apostles, was a matter of as much moment (as touching the 
point of the right ordering of congregations) as this common presbyterial 
government can be supposed to be of, inasmuch as it concerns the execution 
of all mutual duties between people and pastors, and the administration of 
all holy things amongst them, appertaining to this particular government of 
the several congregations ; and upon the right ordering and settlement of 

Chap. VIII.] the churches of cheist. 93 

them, and of these elders' relations to them, doth the right government and 
administration of all holy things depend. And yet consider too, at the 
same time, that we do not find the Holy Ghost making so much as a men- 
tion of any such distinct subordinated congregations to a classis (only the 
multitudes of behevers are looked upon through multiplying glasses to argue 
it), much less giving any hints to discern by, in the history of the apostles, 
or in the epistles, what the frame was of these supposed churches, and what 
their particular special relation to elders in this supposed variety was. 
There is not anything to any such purpose extant, in either that instance of 
Jerusalem, or any other of those examples of cities, that are pretended to 
hold forth this multitude of congregations making one church under one 
common presbyterial government. This hath long and doth still stick in 
our consciences, because the Holy Ghost is silent, and hath not left us the 
least footsteps in the sacred history, to discern in which of these ways (sup- 
posing many congregations thus making a church for government) the 
apostles did settle the constitution of this church, and how they did dispose 
the relation of these elders and officers to those several congregations. 


The instances of the churches settled by the apostles in the lesser cities and 
villages, prove a congregational church to be according to the apostolical and 
primitive form. 

Let us now go over all the examples of the churches in the New Testament 
(which must interpret Christ's speech in Mat. xviii.), and let us see whether 
they were classical or congregational. For the instance of the church of 
Jerusalem and the like, we will speak to them under the consideration of 
the churches in greater cities. But let us now go over all the other. 

The first churches we read of in the beginning of the gospel are in Acts 
ix. 31, ' Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and 
Samaria, and were edified,' &c. These are called churches in that common 
notion whereby churches constituted by the apostles were distinguished one 
from the other. And is this their diversification and title of churches like 
to have been in a classical respect or congregational, as here he speaks of 
them generally ? Let the words and circumstances of the story be consi- 

1. It was in the beginning of the gospel that these churches had been 
raised ; and the special means we read of whereby they were erected, was 
Peter and John's ministry, of whom we read, chap. viii. 25, that ' returning 
to Jerusalem, they preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans,' 
as also some of the dispersed from Jerusalem had done. Ver. 4, ' They 
went everywhere, dir/Xdov, they went through all or about,' namely Judea and 
Samaria, as Philip in Samaria, ver. 5. And as their preaching had been 
everywhere, and in villages, which is chiefly noted, ver. 25, so accordingly 
the churches that were constituted out of those converted, are said to have 
been in all Judea and Samaria, &c., and therefore in villages. For that the 
Holy Ghost should aforehand in the Acts so remarkably relate their preach- 
ing in many villages of Samaria, and then make mention of churches through- 
out Samaria, argues his intent to have been to shew that these churches were 
those in these villages ; and these not as gathered into cities, but remaining 
throughout Samaria, as the gospel had been preached in the villages. Nor 
needed they now (for they had rest) forbear to hold up their church-fellowship 


in the several places of tbeir abode. And therefore when upon this rest Peter 
took the opportunity to visit them (as in the next verse of that 9th chapter 
it is said Peter passed through all, namely, as it is translated, all quarters 
where these churches were scattered, some here, some there, up and down), 
all of them, whether in cities or in villages, are in one uniform respect called 
churches, for his speech wherein he involves them all promiscuously is 
similar, and so meant of the same kind of churches. Now is it imaginable 
that throughout these regions or countries the churches whereof he speaks 
should be all such classical churches as are now amongst us, when at the 
beginning of the gospel but a few saints and professors of Christianity can 
be supposed to be scattered everywhere up and down ? It was well if, by 
reason of their being so thin sown up and down in those regions, they could 
make up congregational churches with elders to them. 

2. When it is said that these churches had rest and were edified, is it 
likely he should speak this of these churches as classical, as such which 
meet but in their elders for exercise of discipline ; or rather of these churches 
as enjoying rest in the ordinances of worship on the Lord's day, public 
prayers, the word, sacraments, and all other means of edification and com- 
fort, for the preservation of the purity of which, discipline doth but sub- 
serve ? They are the congregational churches, and the communion the 
saints have therein, that are the great means of comfort, edification, and 
multiplication of churches ; and the enjoyment of these, in rest, is that 
which is the greatest outward mercy and privilege. And therefore when 
he sets out the condition of those times, ' Then had the churches rest, and 
were edified,' he means congregational churches. And when he says the 
churches were multiplied, which if understood of more and new churches 
erected, doth he reckon their multiplication by presbyterian churches, that 
do consist of many congregations each of them ?. Is it likely a multitude of 
many more such churches were erected ? No, rather they were so many 
fixed congregations of believers. 

2. Let us come to the next mention of churches in that story. Acts 
xiv. 23 (slipping over that church of Antioch, chap, xiii., the demonstra- 
tion of which to have been a congregational church, we refer to another 
place, when we examine the state of churches in cities), 'And when they 
had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they 
commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.' That these were 
congregational churches, will appear in like manner by the like circumstances 
of the story. In Acts xiii. 14, we read that Paul and his company came to 
Antioch in Pisidia, where the Jews refusing the gospel, * Lo, we turn to the 
Gentiles,' said Paul and Barnabas, ver. 46, ' For so the Lord hath com- 
manded us ; I have sent thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldst 
be for salvation to the ends of the earth, and many believed ;' and ac- 
cordingly, ver. 48 and ver. 49, ' The word of the Lord was published 
throughout the regions.' Then chap, xiv., Paul and Barnabas fled to Derbe 
and Lystra, cities of Lycaonia, and ' unto the region that lieth round about, 
and there they preached the gospel.' Here again, as afore in Pisidia, so 
now in Lycaonia, not in cities only, but in the regions they preached. And 
this is noted to shew the spreading of the gospel (for to what end else should 
the preaching of it be recorded ?). And ver. 21 it is said, that when at Derbe 
they had taught 'r/.avouc a sufficient competent number in that city, they 
went again to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, the chief cities of those 
countries Lycaonia and Pisidia, in the regions of which they had preached 
the gospel, as well as in those cities. And the story relates that the end 
and purpose of this second visit of these places was to confirm the disciples, 

Chap. VIII.] the churches of cheist. 95 

ver. 22, and to gather them into churches, and ordain elders over them, 
ver. 23, whom they had afore preached unto and made disciples. Thus 
they made fit matter for churches by making disciples, ver. 24, and then 
moulded and formed them up into a way of order for worship and govern- 
ment by elders established in the several congregations. For these churches 
they thus formed and ordained elders unto were surely congregational. For, 

1. If we suppose them to have been only the disciples in these cities of 
Lj'stra and Derbe, Iconium and Antioch, yet it is not supposable that in 
each the number of disciples should arise to more than one congregation in 
a city, now in this beginning of the gospel, and in so short a time ; and yet 
they were formed up into churches, and had elders in every church. Or, 

2. Can we suppose that the apostles stayed gathering them into those 
churches with elders till their number would arise to many congregations in 
each city sufficient to make classical churches, and that they did not till 
then constitute them churches, nor placed elders over them ? Can it be 
imagined they would keep men out of ordinances so long, or that themselves, 
being apostles, and to sow the gospel in the world, would still stay so long 
till everywhere such members did arise ? Yea, 

3. The 21st verse intimates (in the instance of Derbe) their manner to 
have been (and as there so in other places), that when they had preached the 
gospel to that city, and had taught many (or as the word is, '/-/.moiig, made a 
sufficient and competent number of disciples, and sufficient for what ? 
ver. 23, to make up a church, and whereof some might be fit persons for 
elders therein), then they used to leave that city and went to other places, 
as there it is said they did, and so long to stay there till there were a suffi- 
ciency for a church and elders ; or if before they could accomplish this, they 
were driven out, then they either returned to form them into churches with 
elders (which was their end of coming this second time to Lystra and those 
cities, to confirm the disciples, and ordain them elders, as now to become a 
church), or else afterwards sent evangelists to them. 

And 4. As those disciples were in the regions about as well as in the 
cities (for afore it was noted in the story, that in the regions about, both of 
Pisidia and Lycaonia, the gospel was preached), so it must be supposed that 
these churches were set up in the countries about, as well as in the cities. 
And it is hard to think that all the Christians should leave their callings and 
dwellings they were bred and born in, to come up to the cities to make 
classical churches, or that they were so many converted in the villages as to 
make classical churches there. Paul saith, 1 Cor. vii. 10, that he ordained 
in all churches, that men should abide in the callings wherein God called 
or converted them in ; and to suppose that husbandmen in the countries 
should leave their callings of husbandry, &c., and come up to the cities, 
where they could not exercise that calling, to leave their livelihood, and 
wives converted to leave their husbands, children their parents, servants 
their masters, and come to dwell in the cities only, and not rather have 
churches made up in the countries also, is hard to think. But, 

5. And lastly. These could not be classical churches here, but congrega- 
tional, for it is the first ordaining of these elders to these churches that is 
here mentioned, and not an associating of many congregations into one 
eldership ; and therefore here is a gathering congregational churches, and 
ordaining elders thereunto apart, -/.ar sxx.Arj(jiav. And there must be a 
sufficient company of Christians ere a congregational church is made up, as 
a number of congregations with elders must be supposed ere a classical 
church can be framed. This being therefore the first framing them into 
churches, and ordaining them elders (or else you must suppose churches long 


afore tlaey had elders), it must be in a congregational way. And further also, 
there is this reason, that these congregations being then fixed for officers 
and elders, if these elders were ordained to these churches, their ordination 
as elders must be to their several churches respectively, and not to the 
common eldership made up of them. And such were called churches, endowed 
with elders proper unto them, and so much the word (and that is added in 
that Acts xiv. 23) doth import, ' they ordained or chose auroTi to them 
elders in every church,' that is, to every church they chose their own proper 
and pecuHar elders, fixed and appointed unto them. 

That this was the primitive way of planting the gospel may further be 
confirmed by that parallel place to this, Titus i. 5, where there being many 
believers already converted (as many passages in that epistle do argue) and 
vet not in most places formed up into churches with elders, the apostle left 
Titus an evangelist (whose proper office it was, as appears by the epistle, 
and that to Timothy, to settle believers and churches in their right frame and 
order, according to the apostle's directions given), to ordain elders in every 
city or town (as shall be shewn by and by) where any number of believers 
were to make a church, and where fit and meet men for elders might be 
found to set over those churches. And that which Luke, in the fore-cited 
Acts xiv. 23, calleth ' ordaining elders in every church,' Paul here calleth 
' ordaining elders in every city,' and the one interprets the other. And the 
apostle's practice there is here turned into a command or direction, as given 
to Titus, which therefore, as it bound him, binds us to the ends of the world ; 
and he adds, * as I appointed thee.' Now his meaning is, not that elders 
shoiild be ordained in every city simply as it was a city or body of men, 
for elders and church were relatives, as shepherd and flock, and therefore 
elders were not ordained but to a church ; and therefore to say he ordained 
elders in the city, necessarily supposeth a church extant in that city unto 
which these elders were ordained, and therefore the ordination was only in 
such cities or towns where a church was, and a competent sufficient number 
of behevers to make a church. For that must needs be the reason why 
Paul himself did not cast and mould these people in Crete converted by him 
presently into churches with elders as fast as thej^ were converted, because a 
church should have a convenient competent number, and fit men to be 
elders unto them, before they be formed into such a body. And therefore 
he being called away too soon, he left Titus behind him to finish that work. 

The writers for episcopacy have made use of this place to shew that in 
the apostle's times they planted churches only in cities (and it is certain 
that they bestowed their pains chiefly therein), so that they make the apos- 
tolical institution to be, that look how many believers soever were in a city 
and the villages about it, so many were to make one church diocesan for 
government ; and therefore to ordain elders, xar' IxxKriaiav, in every church, 
Acts xiv. 23, is all one, and to ordain elders Kara <7r6'Kiv, in every city, as 
here, Titus i. 5, and this by the apostle's own ordination, ' as I appointed 
thee,' i.e. over these cities, and so the churches therein and the vicinity 
thereof, he as one man was as a bishop set. And some of those for the 
classical government do make use of the same notion, that all churches in a 
city, when multiphed, were by apostolical institution to be but one church 
for government, as well as at first when they were but one congregation ; and 
the elders at first planted in that first chm-ch were still to continue, together 
with all the elders that should anew be set over those churches, as one elder- 
ship, a presbytery unto them in that city as one church. The appearances 
for this opinion we shall speak to when argumenis for the presbyterial govern- 
ment come to be discussed. In the mean time, as to this place, if we inter- 

Chap. VIII.] the churches op cheist. 97 

pret it by that former, and consider all circumstances, it makes for congre- 
gational churches and elderships over them. For, 

1. This direction was given to Titus, now in the first beginning of the 
gospel in Crete; for Paul having newly been there with him, and having con- 
verted many up and down in the island, he left Titus behind, to ordain them 
elders. So as here was the first erection of churches and elders ; and there- 
fore it was in the beginning of the gospel, at which time all the saints, in 
each great city converted, were but as many as might make but one church. 
And it was the duty of saints, that all the saints in a place cohabiting should 
join in one, rather than in divers companies, for worship, and all ordinances, 
and not divide, both because of unity and more presence of the Spirit, and 
the solemnity of the worship, and for all these ever to continue one church, 
till absolute necessity would cause a division into many ; hence in this be- 
ginning of the gospel, he writes to him to ordain elders in every city, because 
his ordination was, that saints cohabiting should make one church, and 
not divide for all ordinances, and that they should have elders, more than 
one, set over them, both for worship and government, because, de facto, 
there were but so many in the greatest cities as would make but one church. 

2. This being interpreted by the former, xara 'ttoXiv by xar s-/.zXri<rlav, city 
here therefore is not meant literally the extent of a city, but metonymically 
it is put for the church then extant in any city, and so doth not necessarily 
import that the extent of the church government should be by God's ordina- 
tion equal to the extent of the city ; as if because there were in a city so 
many as would make more churches, he was not to ordain them elders, xar 
exTiXrisiav, in every church in those cities, as the apostle had done, for they 
were not to be elders to that city, as a city, but to the churches in that city ; 
and as congregational churches are meant in Acts xiv., so also they are 
here intended. But, 

III. And chiefly, as church by church, in Acts xiv., was not in cities 
only, but in villages, or market country towns, so here also zara mXiv is to 
be understood, for the word mXig, when indefinitely used (as here), is taken 
not for great cities only, but country towns. And according^, in the New 
Testament, when the planting and propagating the gospel is mentioned, the 
business here spoken of and concerned, we find that when the commission 
to preach the gospel is given to the apostles and disciples, that the word 
mXig is taken for villages as well as great cities, as being those they were 
sent to preach unto, as indifterently and promiscuously as to cities ; and, 
therefore, when like directions are given to frame churches, and set up elder- 
ships over them (as here), it is answerably to be taken. Thus in the com- 
mission given, Mat. x. 11, whereas Christ says, 'Into what city or town ye 
enter,' the evangehst Luke says, chap. x. 8 (uttering the same commission), 
' Into what city ye enter.' That word therefore is put for all and both, and 
therefore he useth a general indefinite word, hg nv 3' av toXiv, ' Into what- 
ever city ye enter;' that is, city of any sort or kind, small or great, as in- 
tending towns, as well as cities strictly so called. And further, he, in his 
speech, useth it as the contradistinct term to house or family, of which he 
had said before, 'into what house ye enter,' so now into what city, and there- 
fore intended to take in all sorts of towns, consisting of more families than 
one. And the practice of the twelve apostles, who had received commission, 
in Mat. ix. interprets it ; ver. 6, it is said they went through towns, preaching 
the gospel, where the word towns is only used, as including cities, as in Luke 
the word cities only is used, as including towns ; and so the one promiscuously 



is put for the other ; for in the preceding verse, ver. 5, Christ, in his com- 
mission given, calls them cities; 'When ye go out of a city' (says he) 'where 
you have preached, shake off the dust ;' and then, in the execution of this 
commission, they are called towns, 'they went through the towns preaching,' 
ver. G. And further, in Mat. x. 23, when Christ teaching them if they 
were persecuted where they preached, to fly ; if they persecute you in one 
city, fly into another ; that is, if persecuted in one town, fly into another ; 
what, were they persecuted only in great cities? Yes, in towns, for they 
were whipped in synagogues, and synagogues were in villages. Mat. x. 33. 
And is the direction given to them to fly into smaller towns, if they might 
be safe there, as well as into cities, or there only were they to have the pro- 
mise of protection ? So Acts xiv. 6. Paul and Barnabas fled to Derbe and 
Lystra, and the regions about, as well as to the cities, and there had safety, 
and preached the gospel. And Christ further adds in that place, ' you shall 
not have gone over all the cities of Israel,' &c., that is, the towns, for in 
towns they preached. And so Christ himself preached in all cities and 
towns, and so did the apostles, and it was their commission so to do. 

And it seems there was something special in the state and condition of 
Crete, why the word '^rokig should be there used. Crete is but a small island, 
and there are at this day but three cities in it. In the apostle's times, there 
were four hundred cities (for so Pliny, who lived not long after them, 
relates) said to have been in it, which were but small towns. And there- 
fore Beza hath translated it opjyidatim, town by town, as also so under- 
standing it. 

Now, therefore, if the word 'ttoXiq be indefinitely taken for country towns, 
as well as great cities, when commission was given to preach the gospel, 
why should it not be taken also in that sense, when direction is given to 
make up churches, and ordain elders to them, in the same places where it 
hath been preached ? And therefore to ordain elders, Kara tgXiv is not to 
be confined to cities only (where many congregations, as is supposed, have 
been), but in country towns, or very small cities (when in Crete there were 
so many), where churches may be supposed to have been, and those to be 
sure but congregational, and in both such cities and towns only where 
churches and saints, havoi, sufficient to make churches, were found. So 
then -/M-d 'xoXiv, city by city, Titus i. 5, and zar exxXriaiav, church by 
church. Acts xiv. 23, are all one. And if in greater churches there were 
more than one elder, then their elders were ordained y.ar r/tyCkriSiav, church 
by church. 

And surely it is a hard supposition to suppose that in Crete the apostle 
Paul, and Titus the evangelist, had preached only in the cities, when the 
commission was to teach all nations, and therein towns as well as cities, as they 
. had occasion. Was God's elect in cities only ? and were not country souls 
as precious ? And if they be converted unto God, were not they to be 
taught to do what Christ commanded, as well as those in cities ? and to be- 
come churches, and to have the privilege of all ordinances ? Or were they 
to come up to the cities for them, and to the elders there, as the tribes did 
for judgment to Jerusalem ? These are harder suppositions than what the 
presbyterians put upon us, as an absurdity, that the fruit of the apostles' 
preaching should in great cities arise to the conversion but of so many, as 
to make but one congregation. 

And besides, if city should here, Titus i. 5, be taken strictly for greater 
cities, then here is no commission to Titus to ordain elders to churches else- 
where. And so then the institution of the bounds of a church, and the ex- 
tent of the jurisdiction of elders, should be cast rather to the mould and 

Chap. VIII.] the churches of cnrasT. 99 

extent of great cities ; that if one city, then one church, one eldership, though 
there were never so many congregations in it ; and thus elders in every city 
is to be understood of greater cities, then not of the churches in towns and 
villages, where there could rationally be but one church in a town. But 
why the pattern of church government should fall upon, and be framed 
rather to the example of a city, and so conformed to the mould of the civil 
government in cities especially, and not as well upon the way of country 
towns, when Kara 'jtoXiv will import the one as well as the other (and the 
pattern surely was uniform in both), we see no ground of reason for differ- 
ence. Why should we imagine that the apostle should still so have in his 
eye in these directions to Titus, classical presbyteries (which are but the 
external government of the church), as to take care of the ordaining elders, 
as in relation hereunto, and not much rather for the ordaining elders in 
order to the worship of God in churches, and for the establishment of their 
relation of elders to congregations or churches. 

Let us go on fi'om, these fore-mentioned, to all other that are either called 
churches, or where the saints, written to by the apostles, may by circum- 
stances be supposed to have been gathered into churches, under elders and 

In the epistles of James and Peter, written to the scattered Jews, we find 
mention of elders, and therefore there must be supposed churches, whereof 
they were elders ; and we find indeed mention of elders of the church ; and 
let the circumstances be considered, whether those may be more rationally 
supposed congregational or classical. Let us consider their condition. 

1. They were Jews scattered, and as some probably conceive, were many 
of them of those scattered. Acts viii. And as such, both of these apostles 
did write to them ; and as scattered up and down vast regions, whole coun- 
tries, Asia, Bythinia, Cappadocia, and therefore not thick sown (being 
strangers), nor in multitudes, living so near, that they can be supposed to 
have made associated churches. 

2. Those scattered persons, therefore, must rationally be supposed to have 
made up churches of themselves, as those of the Dutch strangers do in Lon- 
don, and the English in Holland ; and not to have promiscuously mingled 
themselves with those natives of the countries they were scattered into ; for 
they had a differing language from the Gentiles, though turned Christians. 
And this we find in Aquila and Priseilla, who being Jews, and having had 
a church in their house (namely of Jews), in Rome, as chap. xvi. of that 
epistle ; and afterwards the Jews being banished from Rome, Acts xviii. 2, 
Aquila and Priseilla removed, but kept their church together still distinct 
from the native Asiatic Christians. Therefore, in 1 Cor. xvi. we read of the 
church at their house in Asia, and as some think at Ephesus, and there 
joined or mentioned with the rest of the chui'ches of Asia, in Paul's salute 
unto the Corinthians, and is mentioned apart from them, because it was a 
church of Jews, strangers scattered among them, and kept distinct from 
them. And yet it was such a kind of church (though less) that all those 
churches in Asia, made mention of together with it, were of (both that par- 
ticular church, and all the rest, being alike spoken of promiscuously under 
the name of church and churches, as being all like churches) ; and it will 
easily be granted, that that church in Acjuila and Priscilla's house was con- 
gregational, for it is an instance alleged by the Assembly at Westminster, of 
many congregational churches in Ephesus, whereof that was one particular. 
Now look as Aquila and Priseilla, and their fellow strangers, kept a distinct 
church of their countrymen (which is the reason that church is in two 
epistles so apart singly mentioned), so in like manner did these scattered 


strangers cast themselves into churches of themselves, and their own nation, 
distinct from the other Gentile believers in the places where they came. 
And it was usual then for the Jews to have synagogues for them of their 
nation in several cities. And, therefore, both James and Peter writeth unto 
them apart as strangers ; and they involve not the mention of any Gentile 
Christians with them, because they themselves were apart from them. And 
yet they -writ to these thus scattered and kept distinct, as to churches that 
had elders, ' The elders that are among you' (says Peter), 1 Pet. v. ver. 1, 2, 
sv v/uv. The phrase is of distinction, that as they writ to these Jews apart 
from the Christian Gentiles, so the elders that are h ufj,Tv, elders of you Jews, 
peculiar to you, that is, that belong to any of you. And therefore James, 
chap. V. 14, also exhorts them that were sick among them, or of them, to 
send for the elders of the church, not as if these had but one church, for 
that was impossible, being scattered over so many countries ; therefore he 
speaks indefinitely, as giving a direction that they should send for the elders 
of those churches where they were, so as they had churches and elders. And 
these elders must be considered (in that speech) as elders of congregational 
churches (as was afore observed), for how can it be imagined that men scat- 
tered so far ofi" from one another, should be commanded to send (when sick) 
for the elders of a church classical, and such a church and elders, as com- 
mon to such churches, to be intended ? The sick persons could not send but 
for elders that were ready at hand ; and therefore a congregational church 
is meant and intended, and the elders of it. And, therefore, farther in the 
second chapter, the same apostle James, speaking in the like indefinite man- 
ner, ' if a man come into your synagogue,' s'lg rriv auvayuyTiv (says he, ver. 2), 
that is, into any of your synagogues where you worship, a phrase proper to 
express their church meetings unto the Jews (seeing, as was said, they had 
synagogues in several places). And what in the 5th chapter he calls the 
elder's of the church, here in the second he calls a synagogue, calling their 
assembly (as it is well translated) such. And these elders of the church 
(which was a phrase suited to the Greek idiom) is in analogi€al phrase of 
speech, or by way of simihtude, all one as to say, rulers of the synagogues 
among the Jews, their churches being congregational, of as many as could 
meet to worship, like as the Jews' sjmagogues were ; and their elders as their 
rulers, and the government of these Christian synagogues of Christian Jews, 
like to the government of those Jewish synagogues, that were scattered up 
and down out of Judea in Gentile cities (whereof we so often read), which 
was an entire government within themselves, for they were therefore called 
rulers of their proper synagogues. And according unto the analogy of those 
assemblies of churches of theirs, with their elders over them synagogue- 
wise, is that in Peter (who wi'ites to the same persons) to be understood : 
1 Peter v. 1, 2, ' Let the elders among you feed' (by preaching and ruling) 
' the flock' (indefinitely taken as synagogue in James, and for the several 
flocks respectively) ; and in that he writes to them to feed by preaching as 
by ruling, and the same to do the one that did the other, it falls in with the 
former notion, that he means congi-egational elders, who as they are fixed 
for feedinfT by preaching to one flock, so they must be for ruling also, or else 
these are divided in their extent, when yet the precept both is alike given, 
and made of like extent. But of this hereafter. 

Chap. IX.J the churches of christ. 101 


That the account which the Scripture gives us of a single chnrch established by 
the apostles in one city, demonstrates congregational churches to have been 
by the primitive institution of Christ. 

We now will go over all other instances of congregational churches, as they 
appear settled by the apostles in cities. 

1. The church of Colossians was but one, which is argued by this, 1. That 
the apostle, writing to that church, writes to them as a whole church; and also 
that their ministers that were over this whole church were fixed ministers unto 
them ; and, if so, then that whole church could be but one congregation, for he 
that is a fixed minister hath a relation, for hia teaching, but to one congre- 
gation. Now their chief minister Epaphras was a fixed minister to that 
church : Col. i. 7, ' who is for you a faithful minister of Christ :' chap. iv. 12, 
' Epaphras, who is one of you.' If there had been many congregations, to 
one of which he had been fixed, he had been more that congregation's 
minister than all the rest ; and his special rela/tion had been to them, and 
therefore his salutation would have been mentioned, as especially to his own 
church, more than to all the rest of the congregations, as his labour and pains 
(when constant among them), was more to that particular congregation than 
any other. Since, therefore, his salutation is to all the Colossian Christians, 
it is evident that they were but one congregational church, whose pastor he 
was. And again, the apostle writes to the whole church, as those that had 
learned the gospel of Epaphras, who was for them a faithful minister. Now 
if Epaphras had been a fixed elder to one congregation, and there had been 
many more there beside, that one congi-egation had been the congregation who 
had comparatively learned the gospel of him, more than all the congregations 
besides ; and Paul would not have written thus indefinitely, and alike of all, 
if there had been many. For he had been a faithful minister only to that 
congregation he was fixed to, and properly theirs as concerning communion, 
by way of learning and teaching, wherefore the apostle would have singled 
out that congregation in his speech from all the rest, if there had been more 
than one. And then, as to their other ministers, Archippus,- Col. iv. 17, 
the apostle enjoins them to say to him, ' Take heed to the ministry that 
thou hast received of the Lord, that thou fulfil it.' Had he been a fixed 
minister to one congregation, and there had been many congregations there 
besides, the main of his ministry lying in his preaching and personal watch- 
ing over that one congregation he was fixed to (for that which a minister 
doth in ruling in common over all the congregations, according to the classi- 
cal suppositions, is the least part of his ministry), the apostle would have 
singled out that congregation, with whom he walked continually, as those 
that should have said to him. Fulfil thy ministry ; because that they who 
were his constant hearei^s must needs be best, if not only acquainted with 
what the fulfilling of the main and constant part of his ministry was, and 
with what were any neglects or defects therein. Seeing, therefore, he 
Avrites to them thus indefinitely, in relation to their own ministers, without 
any distinction, it argues that they were but one church, having these elders 
fixed to them for preaching and government. And of this church he saith, 
that for their faith and order, for their doctrine and worship and govern- 
ment, they were complete, and his heart was comforted, as well in the one 
as in the other. Col. ii. 2, 5 ; and he encourageth them to walk in both, 
according as they had received of Jesus Christ the Lord ; and, if so, then to 
keep that order too (which akeady they had), without any alteration, to 


which he would never have exhorted them, if it had been their duty (when 
multiplied to more chui'ches) to enter into another diJSferent order and form 
of government, xar' sxx>.»j(j/ai/. 

2. There is the church of Philippi. The apostle speaks of them in the 
beginning of the gospel as a church, saying, Philip, iv. 15, that 'in the 
beginning of the gospel, no church communicated to him by way of giving 
and receiving, but only them -, ' and in the beginning of the gospel, even in 
the greatest cities, a church was no more than could meet together in one. 
Now, look what manner of church they were at the first, he speaks of them 
as such still, and useth the same style : ' No other church but you,' saith he. 

3. The church of Antioch is another that is to be considered. It was an 
entire church, having government within itself. For if it could have dis- 
cerned that controversy in Acts xv., and so had been capable of deciding it, it 
had power to have done it, and need never have sent to Jerusalem. They did 
not, therefore, as wanting power, appeal thither as to a court of judicature, 
but only sent for advice and counsel in a difficult case, wherein their opinions 
disagreed. ' And the church at Antioch ordained that Paul and Barnabas 
should go to the apostles at Jerusalem, to consult them about this question ' ; 
and it was as one church that they did thus determine ; also of Barnabas and 
others, that * for a whole year they assembled themselves with the church,' or 
in the church, h <rfj h.yJ.yjdi'a, ' and taught much people.' And the word 
sKzXrjaia relateth to assembling together ; so the kind of the church must be 
answerable to the kind of the assembling ; and if the assembling was for 
worship, then the church in which they met was a congregational church, 
which is the seat for worship ; and we believe that none will say that many 
churches are ever called one church in respect of assembling for worship. 
But here that they assembled for worship is plain, for they assembled them- 
selves in the church and taught much people. Now the church in which there 
is teaching is a congregational church. And besides that, he saith it was 
in the church (as the Greek hath it), not only with the church. If there had 
been several congregations in this city where the word had been taught, 
speaking of assembling for teaching, if ever, or at any time he would have 
mentioned those many congregations, surely he would have done it upon 
this occasion, especially relating to matter of fact, he would have spoken 
distributively. For why should he call congregations churches upon other 
occasions (as often he doth), or in any other relation, and not upon this ; 
whereas the relation here is purely congregational, for it is for teaching the 
word and worship ? Again, 2, we read twice of the meetings of that church 
together, Acts xiv. 27. When Paul and Barnabas came back to give an 
account to those of Antioch, from whom they had been commended to the 
grace of God, it is said, 'When they were come'and had gathered the church 
together, they rehearsed all that God had done by them.' Did they make the 
relation to the classical elders only ? Did not the rehearsal concern all the 
people, as well every soul amongst them as any sermon, it being to shew 
how God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles that they might 
glorify God ? And in Acts xv. '30, it is said when they came to Antioch to 
deliver the epistle from the church at Jerusalem, they gathered the multi- 
tude together, and at that time made a sermon, an exhortation to them; and 
he calleth this multitude brethren : ver. 32, ' They exhorted the brethren 
with many words, and confirmed them.' Thus, as the meetings in the 
church of Jerusalem are six or seven times mentioned to be in one, so the 
church of Antioch is here twice so mentioned. 

4. We have an account of the church of Troas. A church they were, 
for they had elders ; and elders they had, for they had the sacrament ; and 

Chap. IX.] the churches of cheist. 103 

it was at a meeting but in one place, Acts xx. 70, and Paul stayed there 
seven days, till they met. They all met to break bread, and all in one ; for it 
was in an upper room where Paul preached to them, and if there had been 
more congregations than one, he would have preached to one at one time, 
and to another at another time. 

5. By the churches of Galatia (as they are styled 1 Cor. xvi. 1), doth he 
mean congregational churches or classical ? Congregational only ; for, first, 
when he speaks of them, it is concerning collection for the saints : ' Even 
as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, so do ye.' Now the order 
for collection for the saints concerns congregational churches, not classical : 
' Let every one of you, upon the first day of the week, lay up in store as 
God hath prospered him ' (i. e. lay up in the common treasury of the con- 
gregation), ' that there be no gathering when I come.' And then, 2, if they 
bad a provincial church, he would certainly have called them so in his 
epistle to the Galatians ; but when (as we see there) those churches were 
corrupted with corrupt doctrine, and he exhorts them to purge out the old 
leaven. Gal. v. 9, he then writes to them as to churches that were apart, to 
purge out the old leaven, as the church of Corinth did, and each to become 
a new lump. If they be considered as one lump, yet it was as being 
leavened by way of infection, but that in 1 Cor. v. is by way of guilt. 

6. The church of Laodicea, mentioned in the epistle to the Colossians, 
was also but a congregational church. Col. iv. 16. * When this epistle is 
read amongst you, cause it to be read also in the church of the Laodiceans.' 
That church wherein reading the word is, is a congregational church, for 
reading is a work of worship. And if in other places he had ever called a 
church in relation to government consisting of many churches, yet here, 
if there had been many churches, and many churches for worship, he 
would have said so, and have thus expressed himself, ' Let it be read in 
the churches of Laodicea.' He would have spoke of the duty, and of the 
subject of the duty, in a suitable way. When he speaks of the reading of 
the word among the Jews, he saith it is read in every synagogue every 
Sabbath day ; he speaks distributively, and so he would have done here. 

7. I shall now proceed to prove that the churches of Asia were congrega- 
tional churches. 

1. That the church of Laodicea was a congregational church we refer to 
what hath been said. 

2. Five of these Asiatic churches even Downam acknowledgeth not to have 
been in great cities ; and such are to be supposed probably to have but one 
congregation, those smaller cities containing but Christians as made one 
church in each of them. 

3. The constitution of all those churches for worship and government was 
one and the same; and therefore, if Laodicea and some of the rest were but 
congregational churches, then all the rest were so too. For they are in- 
tended all as types of all churches to the end of the world. Now, if some of 
them had been congregational churches, and others had been classical, they 
could not have suited the state and condition of all churches, both congre- 
gational and classical, which have a government and a constitution different. 
And the apostle, Rev. ii. and iii., writes to the angels of those churches, as 
having an entire government among themselves ; and he writes to them 
about matters of discipline, and therefore regards them as uniform for the 
matter and seat of government. And if that be true, which some historians 
have reported,"" that Laodicea was destroyed by an earthquake in Nero's 
reigu, long afore the time of John's writing the Revelation, then it must 

* Tacit. Annal. lib. xiv. 


needs have been intended only as a type. And that all these churches were 
uniform, appears by this also, that in the closure of this epistle, what he 
writes to one church he writes to all, ' Hear what the Spirit saith unto the 
churches,' which is all one with the conclusion of the whole book in Rev. 
sxii. 16, *he sent his angel to testify these things in the churches.' And 
if congregational churches be acknowledged churches in the Scripture phrase, 
they must be intended in that speech ; and that those should be mainly in- 
tended appears by this, because that the book of the Revelation was only to 
be read in such churches. And likewise that they were congregational 
churches appears by this, that he writes to them as to the seven candlesticks 
which Christ walked in the midst of, and he threateneth them that he would 
remove the candlestick. Now, by candlestick he interprets the churches, 
chap. i. 1. ; and they are candlesticks especially in relation to worship. It 
was an ordinance of worship in the temple ; and it is therefore in Zech. iv. 2 
put for the completing of all the temple for worship, and all the utensils of 
it, for though their Sanhedrim for government might be complete before, yet 
the temple was not then built, in which God was to be worshipped ; and 
indeed the promise of the presence of Christ is most in respect of worship, 
which the saints are most constant in ; and when he threateneth to remove 
the candlestick, certainly the chief threatening falls upon their church state, 
and the enjoyment of the ordinances of worship, such as preaching, the 
sacraments, &c. And whereas some would argue many congregations to have 
been in every one of these churches ; bishops have done so, because in the end 
of each epistle he concludeth, ' Let them hear what the Spirit saith to the 
churches,' as having many churches in each church of them ; we answer, 

1. That it is a speech all one with that in Rev. xxii. 16, ' I have sent 
mine angel to testify these things in the churches ;' for as that is the closure 
of all, and is meant of all churches, so this is the closure of each epistle, and 
is meant by way of example of all churches in the world, he singling out 
seven for all the rest. 

And 2. It is but such an indefinite speech as that in Rev. xiii. 29, ' If any 
have an ear, let him hear ;' so here the meaning is, let every church hear. 

And 3. If that notion be true of Mr Brightman's, that they are types of all 
churches to come to several nations (as it is most probable they are), then it 
hath a clear other meaning than that of there being many particular churches 
in each of those cities. 

To conclude, we find that in all those epistles of Paul when he writeth to 
the several churches of Philippi, Colossus, Thessalonica, &c., he writeth to 
them most .and chiefly concerning the duties which lay upon them in respect 
of their particular relation to that particular congregation whereof they are 
members, and with whom they have a fixed communion, and do ordinarily 
converse with both ofiicers and people. Now, if there had been more congre- 
gational churches than one in each of these cities (as is supposed), there is 
far more reason why he would rather have written to them under the style 
of several churches in such a place (as he doth when he writes to the Gala- 
tians), when he urgeth such duties upon them, rather than to have given 
them the title of one church, in respect of an association for government only. 
If he had written of matters of government only or chiefly to them, then the 
expression of calling them one church had been suitable to the duties he 
exhorts them to ; but the duties principally concerning them, as they were 
members of distinct congregations, having a nearer communion both towards 
their officers fixed to them, and the people fixed in a near communion with 
them, he would rather have used the style of churches than of one church, 
if there had been many churches in those cities. And farther, since, according 

Chap. IX.] the churches of christ. 105 

to this supposition, the primary relation of pastors to churches being in the 
several distinct congregations, but the relation of these members one to an- 
other, as they are a classical church, being but a secondary relation, it were 
strange that when the Holy Ghost writes and speaks to such and such 
churches in such and such a city (supposing many), he should write to them 
only under the notion of a classical church, and mention that only, and not 
mention their other church state as being several churches, making one 
church, nay, not so much as speak, that they were several congregations. 
Since they are churches congregational in the language of the Holy Ghost, 
and that the main of what is a church (as hath been shewed) falls upon 
them as such, how can we think that this association into oim church, which 
is a secondary thing, should wholly carry away and swallow up the name, style, 
and title of the other ? And that which further strengthens this consideration 
is, that when they write to churches, in a nation or in a province (as in 
Galatia, and in Asia, and in Judea, and the like), if that a politic association 
(such or the like association to this whereby it is afhrmed that in one city 
many particular congregations are made one classical church for government), 
if such a one were intended, then they would as well, and by the same reason 
(in writing to such churches in a nation or province), have written to them 
under the notion of one church as well as when they did write thus to them 
in a city. But the apostle when he writeth to a whole province, then he saith 
churches (although according to presbyterian principles they are as truly one 
church in the same political respect that a classical church is one in respect 
of many congregations of a city) ; but, on the contrary, when he writeth to 
a city, he doth give them the name of church, without the least mention of 
churches therein as making that one church. And the reason is strong, that 
he should have done the one as well as the other ; for if many churches were 
called one church in a city, because that is the greater association whereby 
the lesser churches were governed, by the same reason he would much rather 
have called the churches of Judea one church, because the association in a 
province or nation is larger and greater than that of many congregations in a 
classical church in a city. 

And whereas some argue from the multitude of believers in a city, as too 
great to make but one congregational church ; if the case had been so, it 
had been then more conducible for the apostle to have expressed the multi- 
tude in such cities by the name of churches in a city than by calling them 
one church. And it is strange that when the story is told of the apostles' 
coming to such or such a city (as in the Acts it is), it is still said they called 
the church together, as when the people were called together in Antioch, 
Acts xiv. 27. For if they had been many congregations, and had met in 
parts by way of distribution, it had been a much more proper phrase to say, 
they called the churches, if there had been more in such a city. 

Object. The apostle still, in writing unto th« saints in great cities, calleth 
them one church ; and it were strange if that, in the apostle "^s times, they 
should not have multiplied in such great cities to more than one congregation. 

Ans. 1. As you say it is hard to think that there were no cities that had 
but* one congregation, so it is as hard to think that all the churches in other 
places, villages and cities, should not be uniform. 

2. There might be some cities where there might be more churches than 
one, to whom they wrote, as the city of Rome to whom Paul wrote, might 
have more churches than one ; for he doth not in his epistle call the saints 
there one church ; and though he speaks of a church in Aquila and Priscilla's 
house, yet his phrase of writing otherwise is only to the saints at Home. 
* Qu ' more than ' ? — Ed. 


3. All those that write against episcopacy, both of the Scottish nation and 
of our own, have with one mouth affirmed, that it cannot by manifest argu- 
ment be made out that the chui'ches mentioned in the New Testament were 
more than could meet in one congregation. 

4. The meaning is, that when the story of the Acts and those Epistles were 
written, that then there were no more, but not that afterwards there were no 

5. Although the apostles did specially preach to cities, yet let it be con- 
sidered how little time they were forced to stay in cities, because they were 
to lay the foundation of the gospel in all the world. And though Paul stayed 
three years in or about Ephesus, yet it doth not appear that he sta^-ed so long 
time in Ephesus itself; but, as in the 13th and 14th chapter of the Acts it is 
said they went into the countries, so likewise he did. 

6. The apostles did teach the saints in every city to become one church, 
and to hold together so long as possibly they could continue in one congre- 
gation with edification. And how great and large a synagogue in a city was, 
we may see by that instance of Capernaum. And the Christians met in the 
cities, and built synagogues for meeting-places, as well as the Jews were 
allowed to do in the cities of the Gentiles. 


The constitution of a congregational church evidenced to be by the ivise appoint 
ment of Christ, because it is so exactly accommodated to the various condi- 
tions of saints. 

Let us now see whether of these two should in reason be the institution 
of Christ, and which, a classical or congregational church, would suit most 
with the condition of the saints under the New Testament. God hath still 
moulded his institution, and varied it himself according to what was the 
future condition of his church. Whilst the church was continued in 
families, as under the old law, he sorted his government and ordinances 
accordingly. When they grew up to a nation, he fitted a new government 
on purpose for them. When in the wilderness, a tabernacle only ; when 
fully settled under a kingly power, a temple. Now, under the gospel, the 
•condition of saints in nations varying in several ages, he hath framed his 
ordinance of church-state suitably. 

If it be said that therefore when churches should multiply to a nation, then 
the government is to be suited unto that nation as such. 

We reply, 1. When we see v/hole nations truly turn Christian, an answer 
is to be given. 

2. God saw it would fall out otherwise with his saints in the New Testa- 
ment, that they would still be redeemed out of nations, therefore still suited 
his government to his own design. 

3. If in his providence he foresaw that nations, being turned to him, should 
have an answerable government, as the Jews had, he would have given rules 
answerable. As although the church in the wilderness was not grown up to 
a kingdom, and had not a set place for worship, and was not come to be dis- 
posed of in several cities (as when they should inherit the land of Canaan 
they should), yet God, foreseeing what he would bring them to, did not give 
laws only that suited their church state in the wilderness for the present, but 
he told them that when they should come into Canaan he would choose a 
place to which they should bring their oiicring, that this should be the law 

Chap. X.] the churches of chkist. 107 

of their king, and also appointed what their government should be when dis- 
persed into several cities and towns. And so answerably if he had intended 
a national form of government for his saints under the New Testament, and 
all things suitable thereunto (when as j-et they were not grown up to national 
churches), he would aforehand have prescribed laws accordingly. 

Now, 1, this institution of congregational churches was such as would 
suit all times, of the beginning of the gospel and of the continuance of the 
gospel. The first churches were such necessarily, as was said afore, and 
when multiplied did still continue so, and might govern themselves, without 
foreign oppression. 

2. It suits all places, villages as well as cities ; and we must suppose saints 
to be as well in villages as in cities. And those villages had elders for wor- 
ship and government, and the rights of a church. And if God were to make 
one uniform law, why should the institution be conformed to cities, as is pre- 
tended, and that made the pattern and the jurisdiction of all the rest, rather 
than that of villages ; for God is the God of the valleys as well as the hills, 
and there must be the same uniform rule of both ? But now, though the in- 
stitution, to have the saints with their elders malie one classical church, might 
be supposed to suit cities well enough (for it was but having many churches 
in them), jei the lesser towns it would not suit, thus to form them up, under 
the government of a presbytery of many congregations, especially in those 
times when they were scattered. 

3. This institution of congregational churches suits also with all conditions 
of the church of Christ. 

1. With the tilnes of persecution as well as the times of peace. I may 
say of this congregational government as of faith ; it is said of faith that it 
is a standing grace, it is the materia jviina, the first matter, out of which all 
riseth and into which all resolveth. A man liveth by it in prosperity, and 
if he be in desertion, all is resolved into it. And so it is of congregations, 
it agrees with all estates, with all times. And though you suppose other 
governments, yet that always existeth, a^nd all begin from thence ; therefore 
these are called ecclesim prima',, and the other ecclesia ovUp. 

2. It suiteth the condition of the saints, being scattered all the world over. 
Whole nations are not saints fit for churches, for the saints are but a com- 
pany redeemed out of nations. As therefore among the Jews, when they 
were scattered, their government was a synagague government (therefore 
some think they began that of synagogues when they first went into Babylon, 
which we will not dispute), therefore as synagogue government suited with 
the scattered, the dispersed condition of the Jews, so this suits best with the 
scattered condition of the saints under the gospel. 

3. The constitution also of churches was certainly uniform, in cities and in 
villages, or wheresoever or in what time soever, the government of them was 
uniform. When Christ bade them teach every nation to do what he com- 
manded them, he intended that the rule should be uniform, whatever govern- 
ment the nations had ; and therefore also the aj)0stle's phrase and style is 
still, 1 Cor. xvii. 17, ' So I ordain in all the churches.' And that which will 
suit all churches, all states, all times, is certainly rather the pattern than any 
other. Christ did not make one form for cities and another for villages, one 
form for times of persecution and another form for times of peace, for what 
suited times of persecution would suit times of peace also ; and, as the laws 
of men consider what is best for the generality of men, so the institutions of 
Christ considered what was best for his church of the New Testament, 
throughout all ages, and all conditions and places whatsoever. 

4. It suits best for the condition of churches, in times, whether pure or 


corrupt^ reformed or to be reformed, when the churches are generally over- 
grown with corruptions. 

5. By reason of this, that th-e institution of Christ doth thus fall upon 
congregational churches, to be those churches which should be the complete 
seat of worship and government, there was a provision made (and in the 
event it hath fallen out prosperously) that the truth and the substance of 
his ordinances, and of church state (taking it as it is itself, a ministerial 
ordinance), and of the ministry, might and hath continued in all ages. For 
there being a necessity (if there should be any worship at all) to have con- 
gregations for to continue, and uphold the public worship of God ; and to 
that end, to have ministers over them to perform the worship, in this funda- 
mental institution of his, all that profess the Christian name throughout the 
world in all ages have agreed ; and by this means, Jesus Christ hath pre- 
served the truth of a church and ministry, and substance of worship, in the 
midst of all those varieties of government of several sorts of patriarchs, 
archbishops, and bishops in that hierarchical way, as also of general councils 
and other assemblies subordinate to them ; and so whatsoever false super- 
structions have been made, or whatever interruptions, yet still this funda- 
mental constitution of his hath remained, and could not have been secured 
to continue in all ages (fall out what would) in any other way. 

But the great thing, upon which all depends, is to find out what essential 
thing it is that church institution should fall upon. We say, that the end 
of churches is a fixed and immediate communion of saints in all ordinances, 
and that the formal and external part of the institution is but suited so as to 
attain this end ; which is, that saints should be knit together to meet in one 
for ordinances, having their officei's that have relation to them, by whom the 
ordinances are externally dispensed. So as it is not an accidental thing, or 
mere external thing (as that they should meet in one place) that the institu- 
tion falleth upon, but it is the most solid, and substantial, and essential 
thing, that can be supposed to be the ground of so great an institution. 
We shall gradually make out the meaning of this assertion, by these follow- 
ing considerations, which will make the glory of Christ in this institution, 
and the consentaneousness of it to spiritual reason, and the highest ends 
that may be supposed to be aimed at, to appear. 

1. Communion of saints is the adequate end of a church as such, be it 
what kind of church soever ; and therefore in the creed, the church catholic 
and communion of saints are joined together, and do follow one another, for 
the one is the end of the other ; and all particular churches are therefore 
also called the churches of the saints. And as the church is framed and 
formed, answerably, such is the communion ; and such as the communion is 
to be, such is the church to be reckoned, the one being suited to the other. 

The church catholic (as now it is called, in respect it is in all nations), 
although it is one body to Christ, yet the saints therein cannot have, as 
saints, a fixed, standing, set communion, but occasional ; either occasional if 
outward, or secret and invisible if inward, such as the church, in one age, 
hath with the church of another age that went afore ; such as the church 
now in heaven and in earth may have together, and in that respect, an ordi- 
nance or an institution could not so well fall upon it. But meet it was, that 
besides this kind of communion, there should be on earth a communion of 
saints, suited to the state of the church whilst on earth, that should be most 
entire, and the nearest that can be, and most resembling heaven, for the 
public worship and glorifjdng of God in a common enjoyment of ordinances. 

2. Under the gospel, the communion of saints is nearer and more inti- 
mate than was under the law. As the church exceedeth it, so the communion 

Chap. X.] the churches of christ. 109 

is to exceed it ; and as their ordinances are more spiritual, so their com- 
munion. There is a greater distance of the saints of the church catholic in 
their habitations under the gospel, than of the Jews under the law. The 
Jews were nearer as people dwelling in one land, and so were capable of a 
nearer communion all together than the church catholic now is capable of; 
yet because it was a nation, therefore their communion was ordered in the 
way of a national polity, as a government by representation and a represen- 
tative worship, wherein the females were represented in the males, and yet 
not frequent and often neither, for it was but three times a year. The com- 
munion therefore of saints, then, was carried on in a worldly way (as the 
state of men in kingdoms, and commonwealths, and in civil things is), and 
therefore it was a worldly external frame, and the communion answerable. 
And that of the synagogues was but for the reading the word and prayer 
only, and not for all sorts of ordinances of worship. The catholic universal 
church cannot attain to so general a communion under the gospel, as the 
national church of the Jews did, by reason of the difference of language, and 
distance of places, and dispersions into all nations ; and yet they were to 
attain to a nearer communion, and more intimate, and the entirest that the 
saints on earth are capable of, and so to have churches framed as to attain 
to this. 

3. The greatest and entirest communion that saints are capable of, must 
therefore be by parts on earth, to have communion in public worship and 
ordinances. It is therefore necessary that the saints should be cast into 
such assemblies, wherein they might partake of one spirit by 'one bread,' 
whereby they might partake of one and the same bread individually, which 
is therefore called the communion of the body of Christ, and whereby they 
are made one bread, as in the 1 Cor. x. 17. And therefore it is that the 
Scripture doth express that communion by that word meeting, or beinq toqether, 
in ordinances. Acts ii. 46, oiJ^oSiifLabov, ' with one mind or spirit,' importing 
that which is the spirit and life of public worship, which (above all other 
actions done by a multitude) is to have the nearest union of spirits, wherein 
the entire communion of saints lieth, and whereby God is glorified. And 
for several churches to meet in the same manner, or at the same time, for 
the same kind of ordinances, herein doth not lie so much communion, as an 
uniformity between them. But this is the most internal lively communion, to 
join in the same act, at the same instant, altogether to God, and is the 
greatest imitation of heaven, where one spirit will run through all, and God 
will be all in all at once. 

4. And to make yet the communion nearer (for it is to be the nearest), it 
must be of persons fixed and constant in such a communion ; for that is 
still a more entire nearness, that the same persons should still in an ordinary 
way meet to join in their spirits in the same ordinances, and so inwardly 
and jointly thus to glorify God as well as externally. The continuance and 
the fixedness of the same persons, makes still the union the entirer. And 
therefore, if, for to enjoy the entirest communion of saints on earth, it was 
necessary to part the saints for public worship, then also it is needful to 
part them into fixed bodies, which still also is the nearest resemblance to 
heaven, which is the perfection of communion. 

5. To make this communion yet more entire, it is necessary that, as they 
should fixedly join in ordinances of worship, so in all other; and that the 
same persons should enjoy the same ordinances, and one kind of ordinances 
as well as another, that as they are preached to by the same elders, so they 
should join in the same prayers, have the same breathings of the Spirit from 
those prayers, partake of the same bread, feed at the same table ; as in a 


family, the entireness of it lies in this, that they have the same father and 
mother, the same master and misti'ess, partake of the same bread every way, 
and of the same family duties and family comforts ; and so now this com- 
munion, in a particular church, both as to worship and government, is uni- 
form. Yea, and acts of government being worship (which the souls of men 
are edified by, as well as they are by sermons) are wholly spiritual. It is 
not here as in Israel, whose government was more carnal ; for it was the 
judging of civil causes (civil and ecclesiastical government being all one, 
mixed together, as the church itself was), it was in such controversies and 
cases, as now men plead in civil bars about estates ; only God was pleased 
to give laws himself for ordering of such things. But the apostle in 1 Cor. 
v., and in 1 Cor. vi., severeth the judging of matters in the church, as a 
church, by way of excommunication, &c., from their judging of things about 
this life. A church as a chui'ch meddleth not now with them, for these 
affairs of it are wholly spiritual. 

So that, for a conclusion, if all the wits of the world should have studied 
a way to contrive what kind of church to erect for the entircst communion of 
saints, to attain to that end which is the end of a church instituted, they 
could have pitched upon no other but this ; neither could there have been 
such a way found out of all other as this is. If that the church universal, 
the communion of it, had been only occasional, the saints meeting only by 
virtue of being members of the catholic church promiscuously and indefinitely, 
sometimes in one company, sometimes in another, though by this promis- 
cuous and indefinite way, there had been a more extensive communion of 
saints indeed (that is, each saint might have come to have joined in public 
worship with more numbers of saints, at several times, with more variety) ; 
yet it had not been so intensive, so near and high a communion, as for the 
same saints under the same ofiicers fixedly to meet. And besides, they could 
not have had an excommunication out of this communion, unless first knit 
into fixed bodies ; neither could they have chosen ofiicers, unless such whose 
office should cease with the act and performance, which indeed is not an 
ofiice ; for that is a separation of a man to a continued performance of a duty. 
Nor would it have brought that blessing, that a constant dedication of men 
to an ofiice for perpetuity would do, which could not be done in that occa- 
sional fluid way. 

If that such congregations and officers, though bounded within such a 
compass of a city or so, should have remained unfixed, though associated 
together within such a circuit or compass, yet this would not have made 
this entireness of communion of saints, as by this way of fixed congregations 
there is. And also, in this case, the institution of a church would have been 
pitched upon some one part, or particular kind of communion, and upon 
something less principal in it, and not upon the adequate and full founda- 
tion of it. 

For, first, in this unfixed way of people and officers, though bounded in 
a compass, this number of saints should have heard this minister to-day, 
and with other saints have heard another to-morrow, none meeting one day 
together, that do another day, in which also all might run to one officer still 
where he preached and leave the other, which would not breed an orderly 
communion, but rather a confusion ; but to have the same officers to be fixed, 
and the same persons to enjoy the dispensation of the same officers, as in a 
family children and servants are under the same governors, this is a nearer 
and entirer communion. 

Secondly, in this classical way, there would indeed be a constant and a 
fixed communion in government, of the elders (namely, of such a circuit) 

Chap. X.] the churches of christ. Ill 

who, when matter of government was to be exercised, should all meet ; but 
they would not permit (in such a way) or let in the elders of the same pro- 
vince, to meddle as often as they would come, no, not though occasionally 
they were present there, or came thither to that end. But now to have the 
same elders and people fixed for all acts of government, and yet to have them 
unfixed in respect of performing of worship (when that is the main end both 
of the communion, and for which elders are appointed), and not to have the 
same fixed companies of people that communicate in this company with those 
elders, as in this unfixed way they have not, this would put too great an 
inequality between communion in government and communion in worship, 
and make the inequality on the part of worship rather, because government 
is fixed of the same persons, people, and eldei-s, and yet worship, wherein is 
the nearest communion, is left unfixed. And surely, if communion, and 
entireness of public communion, be the end of a church, the frame and 
mould of the church should rather be cast and shaped to that which is the 
entirest communion, than unto that which is more loose. Now, in worship 
(as to the acts and duties of it performed) there is a capacity of an entirer com- 
munion than in government, because the duties thereof are more constant. 

If, thirdly, the people be fixed for worship in several bodies, but the elders 
fluid in a circulatory preaching (as it is pleaded), and so they are made one 
church, because the same elders that teach do also govern them too, and so 
they have a near communion in worship too, because they are at times taught 
by the same elders ; if this (I say) be made a ground of moulding these 
several congregations into one church, yet it is defective, for it makes the 
people's communion, in enjoying the same elders at times successively, to be 
the foundation of church institution (yea, and in this case of the first church 
proprie dicta, or properly so called), rather than the communion of saints, and 
of the same persons of the saints meeting fixedly for worship. But it is hard 
to conceive how the oneness of a church should be settled, rather on such a 
temporary communion in elders, than on a constant communion in ordinances, 
whenas the same elders are enjoyed by these persons but at times (which is 
an uninterrupted* communion also) ; yea, and there are no times neither, 
wherein as to acts of worship they enjoy the same elders all together. Now 
that such a relation of elders, and communion in them, in such a broken 
way, should carry away the great privilege of a thing (becoming the ground 
of the institution of it) from constant communion, both of the same saints 
and elders, and be preferred thereto in this respect, seems strange. And if 
it be said, that yet the saints themselves in this way meet, and have all 
communion in those acts of government, though not in worship, yet first, 
however, it cannot be thought that an occasional communion (as acts of 
government comparatively are) should carry away the formation, the shaping, 
and the institution of the first church ; secondly, the women (who though 
they have not the interest of jurisdiction, yet of communion, and of depriva- 
tion, and of virtual assistance by their prayers, &c., they have) are excluded, 
unless such churches be so framed that they also be present. 

Fourthly, if we take that other presbyterial way that is practised, wherein 
they are fixed for communion in worship, both elders and people, but not 
for government, yet even here that fore-mentioned entireness of government 
is parted, and the communion of saints in that one respect divided ; and, 
being divided, the ground and foundation of all and either being (as was 
said) the communion of saints, is thereby weakened many ways. For, 
1. Still this communion is partial, and by that means each stands but upon 
one single basis, whereas both joined it might stand on two. For now, in 
* Qu. ' interrupted '? — Ed. 


this case, the communion in worship (the blessing of which should strengthen 
that of censures, which is a casting out of the communion) is the gi'ound of 
the meetings of each congregation ; but communion in government in com- 
mon, is the foundation of another church over all congregations. 2. A com- 
munion of elders, rather than of the saints, is the foundation of this supposed 
institution of a church ; and the communion of saints therein is but repre- 
sentative, and at second hand, themselves being absent. It is a communion 
for them, but not a communion of them ; yea, they have no communion, not 
of presence in the sentence and in the execution, but are only congregations 
of those elders, that did make a church concerned therein ; but, on the con- 
trary, a communion of saints, even in government, is the ground and end of 
erecting of a church, and therefore it is called one church in relation princi- 
pally unto them. 

Now, then, to wind up all : if there may be such a communion of saints 
under the gospel, so adequate and entire, and churches so formed, as that 
the same saints should join in the same worship, with a joint, constant, 
inward, individual communion therein, and these saints may have, and do 
enjoy (as our brethren gi'ant) fixed elders, by whose ministry and dispensa- 
tion they partake with them in the same worship, which makes their com- 
munion yet comparatively more entire (for, in the presbyterial way, there 
communion is principally by elders, and therefore in this also, a due consi- 
deration is to be had, as adding a farther entireness) ; and these elders being 
a presbytery, yea, and enough to make a presbytery for all acts of government 
(as we shall after shew a company of elders in congregations to be), at all 
which acts of government, which are for the edification of the saints, they 
can be present and have a personal communion, as well as in those of wor- 
ship ; if, also, the communion of saints be the end of erection of particular 
churches, and is the measure fitted ; for finis dat viensuram mediis, the end 
gives measure to the means; and if this end may be adequately and entirely 
attained this way, why should partial ends be preferred to total and com- 
plete, all ends meeting in one ? Yea, if communion of saints in worship be 
the chief communion, yea, and the communion of saints be the principal 
fundamental cause of all church institution, why should not it draw to itself 
communion in government also, when there is a sufiiciency for the performing 
the acts thereof? Why should the communion of elders be taken ofi" from 
the communion of the saints ? Why should a presbytery be erected that is 
taken off from a church and assembly of saints, when yet there is a sufficient 
presbytery over a church of saints, that meet for all acts both of worship and 
government, and when yet these greater presbyteries would challenge their 
power from this lesser presbytery of churches, rather than from the name 
church, and yet take it oif from these churches they pretend to be a presby- 
tery unto ? Yea, why should any aflirm that, although a particular congre- 
gation had a sufiiciency of elders, yet it is God's ordinance that they should 
associate, for whereas the avoiding of division is pretended, it makes a worse 
division, dividing worship from government, and elders from the particular 
churches of saints, and so parting from them, that wherein they ought to 
have the entircst communion. So as, all things considered, the institution 
of a particular church falls most happily, uniformly, and adequately upon a con- 
gregation entirely and alone, and upon no other manner of assemblies at all. 

Chap. XI.] the churches of christ. 113 


That the forming of saints into churches, under the government of elders, is a 
matter of that needful order as requires a divine institution for it. — That it 
teas also requisite that the extent of those churches, and the limits of the elders' 
jurisdiction, should he set and determined by Christ, 

But this being granted, that churches in the New Testament are formed 
and fixed bodies, which are either the seat of worship or of ecclesiastical 
government, and likewise that there is a necessity it should be so, yet the 
next question will be, whether the settled form and order of these bodies, 
the extent, bounds, and compass thereof, into which the church universal 
should be parted and divided, and which should be the seat of government, 
be set out by Christ's special appointment and institution, or hath been left 
by him to men to frame and order, according to the common rules of edifi- 
cation, as matters of circumstantial order use to be. But we humbly con- 
ceive this to be a point of such order, and of so much weight and moment, 
and belonging to the substance of government, as that, if there were any 
special institution and designment of other things belonging to the order of 
church government, then also of this ; as appears to us whilst we take esti- 
mate and comparison with any other particular acknowledged to be the 
subject of institution, as also established by more direct wan-ant. For the 
satisfaction of this query, we shaU give the general demonstration of the 6V/ 
of it, that it is and must needs be so, whatever the form and extent of 
these churches and bodies that are the seat of government shall prove to 
be, which, whether congregational, classical, provincial, or national, we yet 
dispute not. What at the present we endeavour to make forth is only tliis 
in the general, that whatsoever kind of form or extent they are moulded 
into, this form and extent must be set out and taken ti-om some institution. 
The quale, or what sort of bodies, and what measure thereof Christ hath in- 
stituted, is to be afterwards discussed. And although the proof hereof will 
not be full and complete until the demonstration of the quale, or of what is 
the particular form or boundary and extent, both of church and the elders' 
jurisdiction, and this be shewn to have been instituted, yet we shall for the 
present endeavour such a demonstration as shall be sufficient for a general 
foundation to that which follows, and enough to confirm the point as in the 

Now, for the more distinct proceeding in this, there is a double seat of 
government conceived to be in these bodies of saints and elders, whether 
according to our brethren's principles or our own. According to our 
brethren's, all government is put into a body of elders, and so they make 
the elders the suhjectum inhasionis, the inherent subject of all power ; and 
the church or the company of the faithful to be suhjectum occupationis, that 
is, the subject committed to them to be governed. Even as in a corpora- 
tion, where, though the power and government is in the magistrates alone, 
and so they are the subjects of inherency in whom the power resides, yet a 
limited extent of jurisdiction, namely, a corporation of people, in such a 
compass or precinct, is the suhjectum occupationis, the seat, the circuit over 
whom and among whom their government is extended, and within which 
confined. But if, according to our principles, the government is instituted 
by Christ to be mixed of an aristocracy of elders and a democracy of the 


people, yet still the like supposition necessarily ariseth, that there is, and 
must be, a limited scat or precinct in which this ecclesiastical government 
is exercised, which we call the seat of government. And look what autho- 
rity is in the body of elders, as elders, it is within that seat or compass. 
That which therefore these following general arguments and demonstration 
aim at, is to prove that the extensive limits and bounds of such ecclesiasti- 
cal authority, and accordingly the proportion and measure of those bodies, 
or churches, the seat thereof, and in which it is exercised, is a matter of 
that nature, weight, and moment, as to have a special line of institution, by 
which it may be measured forth. And to that end the demonstration hereof 
shall be framed and fitted to prove these two things. 

1. That the forming up of elders into bodies or presbyteries, and the 
limits and boundaries of the extent of their power, is a matter of that nature, 
as must be set out by institution. 

2. That, answerably thereunto, the setting out the compass, measure, 
limits, and extent of those bodies of saints and elders making churches 
(which are the seat or subject in which a company of elders shall have a 
jurisdiction, and that company of saints the privilege of government, and 
unto which the extent of their jurisdiction is to be limited), must also be set 
out by a special institution, and that their privilege to become such de- 
pends upon a special charter also. 

We might speak to each and either of these severally and apart, but that 
indeed these two, the setting the limits to the extensive power of elders, 
and also the setting out the measure of those bodies unto which their go- 
vernment (whether joined with the people, or alone, we yet argue not) shall 
extend and be confined, are both commensurable each to other, and do 
mutually argue each other. For all power and government, in what com- 
pany or body of rulers soever, that are the subject in whom it resides, must 
have a seat, compass, or precinct of men united in one in which to exercise 
their power. And the true measure of their extensive power is from the 
measure of the extent of that seat, so as the proving of either of them to be 
necessarily done by institution is to prove both ; for they mutually argue 
each other, and the extent of the one is resolved into the other. And there- 
fore if the extent of any one be of divine institution, the other must be of 
divine appointment also, as we shall after shew. 

Seeing, therefore, that these two are so conjunct in the nature of the 
thing, and mutvially the demonstrations each of other, we will, in discours- 
ing of them, put them together, sometimes having demonstrations that 
jointly concern both and are common unto both, sometimes such as concern 
either of them singly, in such a method as may best serve to clear the truth 
of this assertion, which to us lays the foundation of deciding this groat con- 
troversy, as in the sequel will appear. 

We shall rank our arguments under these four heads : 

1. That these two fore-mentioned are substantial points of order, and 
therefore are to be fetched from institution. 

2. That they are matters of such order, as other things are of, which we 
do find (and all do so acknowledge) to have been matter of institution. 

3. That the wisdom and prerogative of Christ (who is the supreme in- 
stituter and lawgiver to his church) is as much concerned and interested 
in the institution of these, as in any other things he hath instituted about 
ofilcers and church government. 

4. That spiritual reasons, suited to the nature of the things themselves, 
fall in to confirm this. 

^ The truth of the consequence of these three first is justly founded upon 

Chap. XL] the churches of chkist. 115 

what we have already said of institution, as that the Colossians received 
their order from Jesus as the Lord, as well as their faith. And besides, that 
the substantials of church government should be set out by institution, all 
sides have acknowledged, and the case therefore must needs be like, in all 
matters of like order and substantialuess ; for the wisdom and prerogative of 
the lawgiver is alike concerned to appoint one as well as another ; and else, 
too, church government consisting of things of like rank and nature, some 
of them should yet be divine, some human, and so it would consist some 
part of gold and some of wood. So as here we need but apply those gene- 
rals to the confirQiation hereof; but yet we shall further endeavour to con- 
firm them all along, in the mention of, and together with, those particular 
proofs which we shall allege for the heads fore-mentioned. And those rea- 
sons shall not only or simply be drawn from paralleling these two points of 
order with other things, which are substantial in all government, and are 
acknowledged almost by all, especially by our brethren, to be matter of 
divine institution, in and about church officers and government. We shall 
not thus only deal by consequence in the closure of the proofs for the second 
head, but also by Scripture, more directly holding forth the truth thereof, 
and all backed and seconded with an harmony of spiritual reasons, accord- 
ing to the nature of the thing, falling in and suiting to it. 

Only let this be taken along and remembered, that the scope of these 
reasons in this place is only to demonstrate this in the general, and in the 
6V/, that it is so, and not now to prove the point, by laying out the very par- 
ticular bounds and limits set by the Holy Ghost ; for that is to be tried out 
afterwards by our brethren and us, who of us can shew the surest and most 
ancient landmarks hereof; which particulars, when they shall come to be 
delineated and set out, and confirmed by Scripture and reason, the proof of 
this general truth will be found more full and complete, by whatever either 
side can shew to be the true and notive characters of the institution thereof. 
But till then we must necessai'ily, here in this place, content ourselves with 
general arguments, and which are accordingly suited to this scope, and none 

1. I shall begin with the first head, that both these are as substantial 
matters in church government as any of those other about the institution of 
officers' power, &c., can be supposed to be. To evidence which, what fairer 
estimate can be taken, whereby to judge of what is substantial in this govern- 
ment, than from what is in all men's apprehensions such, in any government 
whatever ? Now, take any society of men that are embodied for govern- 
ment, and if the officers and laws of it are defined, the commonwealth or 
body itself, the bounds and limits of its jurisdiction, are defined also, and by 
the same hand the one at first is constituted, the other is too ; and this is 
true especially of such bodies as hold, from a supreme power, the charter 
for then' government, as all churches do hold their order from Christ the 
supreme founder. In this case, it is every way as essential to have the 
body of people itself formed up into an unity, and the extent of their juris- 
diction set by that supreme power, as to have officers over it, and laws by 
which they are governed^ The first is necessary in itself for the good of 
those bodies (in relation to orderly government), and it is as necessary as 
the setting out the extent of every man's lands which he possesseth, and 
of which the abutments and limits are as exactly mentioned in their deeds 
ab anything else ; and thus necessary is setting down the extent of jurisdic- 
tion of every incorporate town, and accordingly set forth in their charter. 
Thus Loudon is differenced from Westminster, which otherwise would be 
judged but one city and one incorporate body ; and this was necessary in 


their first edition, and to preserve distinction and entireness of government, 
without confusion and usurpation. 

2. For the other particular, it is as necessary to confine those officers 
and their jurisdiction within the compass of certain seats and bodies poHtic, 
as to define and limit the acts of their power, and wherein to judge and 
intermeddle. In all civil bodies, kingdoms, commonwealths, &c., their laws 
are as exact to set down the limits of jurisdiction, the extent of power, as 
the degree, or kind, or sort of acts of power to be put in execution by those 
entrusted with it ; and all ofiicers in several provinces, or bodies incorpo- 
rate, that get a commission of power from the supreme power, have in their 
commissions and charters as express a mention and definition of the cii'cuit 
and extent of power as of their acts of power, so as a greater nullity ariseth 
not from any other thing than from extending power committed beyond the 
bounds of jurisdiction ; and it is a pramunire as well to do an act of govern- 
ment out of their jurisdiction as an undue act M-ithin it, as to arrest or 
imprison out of their jurisdiction. And that mayors or bailiffs shall judge 
only within such a town or borough, is as express in their charter (or at 
least that the limit of their jurisdiction being determined within the same, 
theu' power without is null and void), as that they shall be mayors and 
bailiflfs there. And thus this parallel confirms both parts of the argument, 
both that it is alike substantial, and also that therefore it alike depends 
upon the determining of the supreme lawgiver. And although this estima- 
tion be taken from man's law and civil government, yet it is in a matter 
that is alike common to both. If indeed church government could be sup- 
posed to be a matter of that nature, that such boundings and determinings 
of the seat and extent of elders' jurisdiction, in order to government, were 
not existent in it, and necessary thereunto, as well as to other government 
also, but might be transacted promiscuously without any such boundings, 
then indeed the form of the parallel would not carry it to erect anything in 
church government by a parallel from the civil. But all that do or will 
acknowledge any ecclesiastical government, as they do acknowledge fixed 
bodies of saints and elders (which the former assertion cleared), so withal 
they must acknowledge such a determination necessarily to be made to 
bound those seats of government and extent of elders' jurisdiction, either by 
God or men. Now, therefore, in this we only argue that the determination 
thereof is of that nature that it must be set out by the supreme Lawgiver, as 
well as other things are that concern this government. Thus much, how- 
ever, is preparatory to what follows, that this assertion is most rational and 
coincident with the like principles of reason human, though of and about a 
matter spiritual. Yet because it will be said it is but an argument from 
men (which yet in the case of ministers' maintenance, as in other things 
also, the apostle useth to produce and confirm thereby the rationality of a 
divine ordinance about this matter, when yet there were other grounds 
also for it in the Scripture that it is such), therefore we will proceed to the 
other general head, that the forming saints into churches, and setting the 
bounds thereof, are matters of such order as God and Christ hath instituted, 
we shall endeavour to make forth (proceeding by degrees) both by paralleling 
these with other matters of order about ofiicers and church government 
which God hath instituted, and by demonstrating that these are as great 
points of order as those other which Christ as a Lord hath given ; and we 
shall also evidence it by the addition of such Scripture proofs and instances 
as do directly hold forth the truth thereof, and so confirm too that other 
parallel reason about them. 

Now, to prove the parallel between this and other matters of order, let 

Chap. XI.] the chueches of christ. 117 

this be premised and taken along, that this second sort of reasons, drawn 
from comparing these, or either of them, with other things that are insti- 
tuted, and thence proving the institution of these also (though we insist not 
only or wholly on them) is in this case just and sure ; for we stretch not 
the argument from parallel or hke reason to find out any new thing in 
church government, whose existenoy is argued and founded merely upon 
parallel reason. That way of reasoning we leave to our brethren, in rear- 
ing up their whole fabric upon the parallel reason of a particular church, 
Mat. xviii., to the prejudice of that foundation which these are built on. 
But the limiting of elders' jurisdiction and the seat of their ordinary govern- 
ment being a thing that necessarily existeth, and which must be acknow- 
ledged to have place already, or else no orderly government can at all be 
supposed to be (as both sides do acknowledge) ; if, then, the question shall 
be (which is the thing now before us), whether the setting out those limits, 
&c., be a matter of that nature, as should be set out by the institution of 
Christ, as other matters of parallel nature are, or whether Christ hath left 
them as things of that inferior alloy and nature, and so of small moment as 
to be determined by the common rules for edification, as other circumstan- 
tial matters are ; in deciding this case and question, and for the general 
demonstration of it, certainly parallel reason will carry it, that these things 
are to be set out by God and not left to men, especially when there shall be 
added unto these, scriptures that directly speak the same thing that 
parallel reason doth. This being premised, we shall speak to each singly. 

I. We begin first with that of the bounding the extent of the power and 
jurisdiction of elders. That this is to be found sot out by institution will 
appear, for the on of it in the general, both ways, either, 1, by comparing 
it with other matters of order, &c. ; or, 2, by what the Scriptures do more 
directly hold forth about setting the limits of the extensive power of officers ; 
or, 3, by reason falling in therewith. 

1. It is evident, by comparing this point of order with other things which 
our brethren themselves, according to their principles, do hold to, and 
acknowledge to be matters of instituted order, in many of which we also 
concur with them. Let but an impartial comparison and estimate be taken 
and made with other things, concerning church elders and their power, which 
they cleave to, as instituted, even to a nullity for the want of it in other 
persons and things. They do shew themselves sufficiently tender and jealous 
of having institutions, for the exercise of any part of ecclesiastical power, 
and will allow none but persons authorised by an institution, and in such 
and such a way, to the exclusion of others for want of institution. For ex- 
ample, 1, why else do they exclude the body of the people from having an 
interest of sufi"rage in excommunication, or casting out of the church, or 
ordaining eldei's, and confine these acts, and all other supposed acts of 
government, unto elders only? 2. Although to excommunicate, &c., be an 
act of government that belongs to the office of eldership, yet they would 
allow no one elder to excommunicate alone, no, not in that church whereof 
he is pastor in a special fixed relation, but it must be elders united into an 
ai-istocracy, because it is by institution so implied, ' Tell the church,' &c., 
which is always more than one. Yea, they assert* that such an act of ex- 
communication is null and void, if but by one elder alone. Yea, 3, if any 
one pastor, though never so eminent, should be set up in a lawful presbytery 
to be of the quorum in that presbytery wherein he is a member and an elder, 
so as nothing should be done but with and by his consent and suflrage, 
though not without the rest of the presbytery also (which was all that power 
* Mr Piutherford's Temperate, Peaceable Plea, p. 5. 


that bishops anciently challenged and exercised), yet this would be, and is 
denied to any, as a thing beyond that degree of power given any one man 
among the rest. And, 4, those that are acknowledged elders, namely, 
ruling elders, they would strictly debar from preaching, from praying in 
public, or blessing the people, or administering the sacrament, because these 
are acts of the preaching elder's office by institution, or else why are they 
excluded if Christ would not have them so ? Yea, 5, though the substance 
of the act of ordination (which they call missio potestatira) be an act of the 
whole presbytery, ruling elders and others, yet the right of laying on of 
hands, which is the lesser, they allow not to ruling elders, but appropriate 
it to preaching presbyters in the presbytery. And, 6, although there may 
be many elders in a particular church that make up therein an eldership, 
who, when alone, without neighbour churches, did exercise all, and had 
complete power of excommanication, &c., within themselves (as they grant), 
yet vhea churches come to be multiphed, or there are neighbour churches 
whom they may associate with, many of our brethren hold that in this case 
they have no longer warrant or power (at least not as to the exercise of 
government within themselves), but are to join in common with those other 
elders of churches for all acts of government. And all this must be because 
Christ hath, by institution, so fixed the power of governing (in respect of the 
acts thereof), as they are not, by any other or any otherwise, to be put in 
execution. Yea, 7, if that the churches go and choose, &c., cull out a cer- 
tain company of their officers, and all the churches in a kingdom should 
choose them that should be set apart for acts of jurisdiction only, and attend 
them in a set and constant way (as the Sanhedrim in Jerusalem was chosen), 
our brethren would say, that although here were elders chosen out of all the 
churches unto such acts as are the acts of elders, according to their prin- 
ciples, lawfully thus chosen, and that they make up (according to them) 
one body or corporation representatively of all the rest, as the national as- 
semblies use to do ; yet if these should be thus constantly set apart unto 
such a work, they would deny this to be lawful ; and the unlawfulness must 
lie in this, that they are not formed up according to the institution. So 
that a little variation, in this kind, must still have a new institution for it, 
according unto them. And shall there not be the like for the bounding the 
exercise of elders' extensive power, which is of as much, if not far more 
moment, than many of these things can be supposed to be of? And then, 
lastly, add to all these an eighth principle, which singly and alone concludes 
the general point in hand, but, joined with those other, brings the forces of 
them all more strongly up to the conclusion. In the controversy with the 
bishops, there is a distinction of a double ecclesiastical power ; the one 2^otestas 
■ intensiva, the other extendva. The one imports a further degree or kind of 
power, the other a further extension of power. And in both these respects they 
distinguished a bishop from an ordinary presbyter. In respect of power in- 
tensive, a bishop might do some acts a presbyter might not do, even as a pres- 
byter might do acts a deacon might not do, which constituted these three several 
orders in the church. A bishop might ordain and excommunicate, not so a 
presbyter. And as they made them to differ thus in acts of order, and intension 
of power, so in respect of jurisdiction, and in that respect chiefly, that is, that 
an ordinary presbyter was set over some particular flock and congregation, but 
a bishop was, for acts of ordinary government, set over a whole diocese, and 
over many congregations, to rule them in common, as making one church. 
And so an archbishop, though he was of the same order with a bishop (for they 
made those two not to constitute two several orders), yet, in respect of a larger 
extent in territory or jurisdiction, they were said to differ in respect of ex- 

Chap. XL] the churches of christ. 119 

tension of power. Now our brethren, and all those who writ against this 
further power of extension and jurisdiction in bishops, called for an institu- 
tion for such a further degree and extent of power, as well as for a new order 
of power, and that not only as to the large pretended power in a bishop be- 
yond a presbyter's, but also of an archbishop over a bishop. So do we also 
require an institution for that power which our brethren claim. An usurpa- 
tion lies not only in an undue form of government that Christ hath not in- 
stituted, as to set up one man to rule, when it is in the hands of many, 
which is to erect a monarchy when Christ hath ordained an aristocracy, 
which is the ground of exception against episcopal power. Nor doth it only 
lie in usurping undue acts of power, which Christ never instituted ; but, fur- 
ther, it lies in a company of elders taking on them an extent of power, for 
territory and jurisdiction, larger than that extent which an evidence of in- 
stitution can be produced to warrant. In this case, although a company of 
elders do in their proceedings take on them to execute none other but such 
as are due acts of government, for the kind of them, and those regulated 
according to such rules as the word warrants (as in respect to the sins pro- 
ceeded against), nor none other acts but which belong to the office of elders; 
yea, and though all this be done by them, as cast and combined into a 
joint body (no one man amongst them assuming more power than the rest), 
and so this government be carried in an aristocratical way (which is the right 
form that Christ, according to them, hath instituted), yet if they stretch 
the extent of their power unto a larger line or circuit than Christ hath made 
the territory or seat of church government, this must needs prove an usurpa- 
tion, let the pretence be never so specious, and the proceedings otherwise 
never so just. For extensive power must be warranted by institution, as 
well as intensive, or the measure or kind of power ; whereas yet we perceive 
many that are zealous for institutions in those other things, would (so far 
as we can understand) have the boundaries of the extent of power ecclesi- 
astical to be left (with other things of less moment) to be ordered only ac- 
cording to the common rules of edification, and of the law of nature, as 
human prudence shall think fit to dispose and set them out. 

II. Unto which add, secondly, that God hath, both under the Old Testa- 
ment, as also the New, made the bounding and setting the extent of church 
officers' extensive power the subject of his own institution and designment ; 
which confirms the truth of this point in the general. 

1. First, in the Old Testament (which we have not now recourse to, as 
our brethren use to have, as an instance that the same particular extent of 
government that was then should be the model of Christ's institution under 
the New, we shall confute that largely afterwards) ; this was the matter of 
Christ's institution. As therefore, under the Old, the several sorts of 
officers were appointed, and also their limits of jurisdiction, so now under the 
New, as Christ hath instituted the kind of officers and elders, so he should 
set out the extent of their jurisdiction ; especially since we suppose such 
officers having such a power (as our brethren and we suppose) by institution, 
it is therefore necessary that it should be determined, either by God or man, 
what the extent of their jurisdiction should be. We do not herein urge the 
analogous like reason, of the Old Testament and the New, to raise up the 
like particular rule and institution, for the extent of elders' power, now as 
then ; but only as a proof of this general maxim, that when we find the like 
subject of institution in the New, the reason will hold, that as there was an 
institution set for the bounds of the intensive power of officers among them (as 
of the order of priests above Levites, &c.), and their several work accordingly 
designed, so the bounds of jurisdiction and of extensive power, in the govern- 


ment of that state and church, were set out by the same hand also. So, in 
like manner, Christ hath ordered things in the new gospel administration. 
They under the Old Testament had those that were their elders of cities and 
towns, whose power was bounded within their several cities and territories, 
and this set out by a law. They were, in the case of murder, to measure 
the ground, and the elders of that city unto which the field a man was killed 
in was nearest, were to intermeddle in it. And they had their general elders 
for the nation or people distinguished from the other, so that the extent of 
their jurisdiction was general, proportioned to the extent of the nation, who 
are therefore called ' the elders of the people' in general, Luke xxii. 66, and 
which were that Sanhedrim and ' state of elders' at Jerusalem for the nation, 
Acts xxii. 5, and so distinguished from those they called elders of a city, 
Ruth iv. 2, Judges ix. B, 2 Kings xxiii. 8. And as in these scriptures 
singly, so Ezra x. 4, we have both mentioned with their titles of distinction : 
' Let the elders of all the congregation stand, and with them the elders of 
every city, and the judges thereof.' The one had the whole body of the 
nation for their jurisdiction ; the other had only their several cities. Thus 
also the bounds of extensive power, as well as intensive, was set out by the 
word of the Lord in the hand of Moses. The several charge of four sort of 
Levites^ in the things of the sanctuary, was divided amongst them to have 
care of, and the limits of extensive power of jurisdiction were fixed in the 
hands of four men over each of those companies and bodies of those 
Levites, as you have it, Num. xiii. 3, which were called overseers over the 
rest. Num. xi. 14, 22. The like might be shewn in the order of priesthood ; 
there was the intensive power, which was equal among them all ; and above 
the Levites (for order of ofiice) there was by institution, in the high priest 
(as Aaron), a further or intense power of ofiice, for some services above the 
rest ; which degree of intense power was by the special call of God, Heb. 
V. 4. And as of a power of intension, so of extension or jurisdiction, there 
was a settled appointment. There were set over several companies of priests, 
chief priests that were in those several circuits superior to them. Mat. ii. 4 
and xxvii. 1, Acts xix. 4, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 14, who were twenty-four in number. 

2. Secondly, In the New Testament, we find the several extent of officers' 
power and jurisdiction to have been matter of institution. Our scope is not 
here to set out what the particular hmits are, for that belongeth to an after 
discussion. But all that we shall now produce, is but to confirm the point 
in the general. 

(1.) We find difiering extent of officers' jurisdiction to have been, not only 
matter of institution, but also to have, among other things, put a difierence 
upon officers, such as, in imitation hereof, the pope and the bishops chal- 
lenged, in difierence from ordinai*y presbyters. This was one thing made an 
apostle differ from an evangelist, and an evangelist from ordinary pastors 
and teachers, that an apostle had the care of all churches committed to 
him, whereas an ordinary elder was designed to an actual care of a church, 
as a governor in a family is of his house, 1 Tim. iii. 5. In the 1 Cor. v., 
the apostle strongly intimates the difierence by a comparison of his power as 
an apostle, and theirs as Corinthians, and that this power differed in extent : 
'Do not ye,' says he, 'judge them that are within ?' Namely, yourselves, 
and within your own body : ' What have I to do to judge them that are 
without ?' His main scope is to shew, that in their proportion they had 
power to judge all within their jurisdiction, as he had in his ; and that as 
his jurisdiction was, in the extent of it, limited to all within, that is, all 
churches of Christ, in opposition to heathen, and he had no power, he had 
nothing to do to judge them without, so theirs was also extended to all 

Chap. XI.] the churches of cheist. 121 

within themselves, but no further. I that am an apostle (says he) have a 
limited jurisdiction in my kind, and you in yours, and as I am to do my 
duty in my jurisdiction, so you in yours. And if the apostle would not 
stretch himself beyond his line (as his own phrase is) of jurisdiction set out 
to him, then ordinary elders much less are to go beyond theirs. 

(2.) The New Testament is express for it. The Holy Ghost hath appointed 
the extent of elders' jurisdiction over their own flocks, and to extend to every 
soul therein in particular, even over the whole flock whereof they are elders, 
and that as a whole flock, importing an entire body of persons committed to 
them. Therefore, the extent of a like kind of power any further, or over 
any other, ought much more to have a special institution, which so far as it 
wanteth and cannot produce and shew the bounds for, from institution, so 
far it is a nullity. Now we have an express scripture concerning the elders 
of the church of Ephesus (whether it be congregational, or presbyterial, or 
diocesan, we do not now dispute, but shall afterwards try it out upon which 
the institution falls), that they all and every one of them had an extent of 
power by express commission given them to that whole flock, and that the 
Holy Ghost set them over that whole flock,, as in charge commended to them : 
Acts XX. 28, ' Take heed to yourselves, and all the flock, over which the 
Holy Ghost hath made you overseers.' Men had not chalked out the limits 
of this flock,^ nor set them out this their bounds of power and care over it, 
but the Holy Ghost made them overseers, that is, constituted them, as, Heb. 
iii. 2, it is said of Moses. And when it is said the Holy Ghost made them, 
it is not meant in respect of the personal call of those elders, for ordinary 
elders were not chosen by an immediate revelation of the Holy Ghost, as 
Paul and Barnabas was : ' The Holy Ghost said. Separate me Paul and Bar- 
nabas,' Acts xiii. 2. But so these elders were not made here : the consti- 
tution, or making, or appointing and instituting them, must therefore 
necessarily be meant of the Holy Ghost's appointing that ofiice of elders in 
which they were, and that he specially was the author by his institution of 
that kind of designment of elders to an whole flock as elders, as their special 
charge, within which to take care as elders of all, and by virtue of which 
(they undertaking the charge) the institution and commission of the Holy 
Ghost fell upon them. As when a king hath granted a charter to such or 
such towns, to have such and such rulers over each of those whole towns, 
though the king put not in the ofiicers, yet because the towns choose them, 
as authorised by his special charter, ordering their choice and designing their 
jurisdiction, it may in charge be given to them, that the king hath set them 
over this whole town to govern it. And what is attributed to the Holy 
Ghost thus, respects not a prudential management only, but the Holy 
Ghost's ofiice being in a special manner to be the author of that word, and 
those directions of Christ, by which the apostles did give forth the pattern 
of ordering and framing churches to these Ephesians and other churches, 
therefore it is peculiarly appropriated to him to be the author of all such 
constitutions ecclesiastical, and this by so peculiar a prerogative, as is as 
proper to him as to redeem is to the Son. And therefore man may no more 
assume to set up a new kind of olficers, or appoint them the bounds of their 
jurisdiction in the church, than he can redeem us. And therefore, as to the 
work of the Holy Ghost to the church herein, mention is made of it, parallel 
with Christ's redemption, in those words : ' Take heed to all the flock over 
which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, 
which he hath purchased by his own blood.' And one special thing which 
is attributed to the Holy Ghost (as an instituter and ordainer of matters in 
the church, and for which we cite this place) is, as to constitute the ofiice of 


elders, and the form of government, that all should take care in common 
(for elders, not elder, are mentioned) so to fix also the extent of their care, 
charge, and commission to all that flock, the church of Ephesus, whereof 
they are said to be elders, ver. 17. It is his institution that elders should 
take care, according to the extent of their relation to a particular flock, as 
their whole flock committed to them ; and by virtue of this his ordination 
had they the full power of elders unto this flock. So as that such an office 
of elders (not one elder only), that such a flock, as an whole flock, should 
stand in relation to these elders in common as the seat of their care and 
jurisdiction, — all this was the ordination of the Holy Ghost ; and if so, then 
the extent of jurisdiction over such a flock is instituted, as well as the office. 
Therefore, if these all, or any company of more elders, will challenge a new 
and further extent of jurisdiction, than to such a flock as Ephesus was, they 
must shew the like commission for that extent from the Holy Ghost ; for it 
was by a special commission from the Holy Ghost they had power of juris- 
diction to this flock. And by the same reason that their commission over 
this flock was by the Holy Ghost, by the same reason they must shew the 
like new commission for a larger from the same Holy Ghost. We will only 
add this, that in cases of this nature a negative argument holds ; for when 
extent of power depends upon a superior appointment and designment, no 
further power than what is affirmatively declared and extended in the com- 
mission can be extended but with a nullity, yea, and with the greatest 
danger ; and so, unless the Holy Ghost declares affirmatively the extent of 
elders' powers as elders, in a body united (as here he doth) over a larger 
company of churches, as the seat of their jurisdiction, all the elders in the 
world met together cannot, nor may not, challenge it. A defect of commis- 
sion affirmative is exclusive in this case. Yea, farther, in that he mentions 
this flock as that whole flock they had commission over, he thereby speaks 
exclusively of any other, that as elders in a body they were to exercise 
authority in. As in the like case, if a king gave a charter to a mayor and 
company of aldermen, to rule such a company or body of men in a corpora- 
tion as an whole body they were set over, it manifestly imported, not only 
that the extent of their power therein being by his charter, therefore they 
must not exercise it as such a company out of the confines thereof, without 
the like charter renewed ; but also, on the contrary, he who is the founder 
of their power, and of whom they hold it, in his charter, makes that com- 
pany committed to them to be all or the whole flock committed to their 
charge. This evidently argues that his charter sets bounds to them, re- 
straining them from taking on them to exercise their juridical power else- 
where. So far is it from what the presbyterial principles hold forth, that in 
an analogous way they may make new extensions of jurisdictions, and in the 
same form model them. 

(3.) Add to this that the Holy Ghost hath been pleased to set limits and 
bounds of power to several ordinary officers in the same church, wherein 
they are, in respect of a continual charge and service, ordinary standing 
officers, and where all of them are in a joint and common commission for 
the government thereof. And look what distinction there is in their offices, 
and what is proper to each office by his appointment, his command is 
answerably that the one should not, by assuming to exercise the part of 
another, entrench upon the office of another ; so that he who is a ruling 
elder should not take on him to teach as an ordinary pastor, no, not in the 
church where he bears the office of an elder : * But let him that teacheth, 
attend on teaching ; he that exhorteth, on exhortation ; he that ruleth, on 
ruling,' Eom. xii. 6. Now, if Christ hath so set these bounds in the same. 

Chap. XI.] the churches of christ. 123 

church and body, as for any to usurp the other's office, is that v'rss(ppovsT\/, 
or ' takmg on him above his proportion' (which he condemns, ver. 3, and 
prefaceth that general rule with special aim to keep each in their due bounds 
and station) ; then much more, or at least as much, hath his care extended 
to set down the bounds of extensive power, which they might know, that as 
in the same church the officers might not vt-co^sohTv, so the elders of other 
churches ought not aXkorPiociszo'^uv, intermeddle as bishops in another's 
jurisdiction (to use the apostle's allusion), nor stretch themselves beyond 
their line, as the apostle would not. Thus I have proved that the extent of 
elders' jurisdiction is to be fetched from an institution. 

What is next to be demonstrated is, that the constituting and setting out 
the measure and extent of that church which is to be the seat of govern- 
ment, is also matter of divine order, and so to be fetched from an institution. 

The popish and episcopal divines have appropriated that word order unto 
the constituting a church officer, and unto his ministry, whether bishop or 
presbyter, &c. This, in their phrase, they called being in orders, which in 
the thing carried this with it, viz., their being of such orders or kinds of 
offices as Christ had by his order appointed. But surely they narrowed the 
signification of it too much, for it may be extended to all institutions what- 
ever, and, among other, to this of church state, and the constitution thereof, 
according to an order set by Christ. 

For, 1, in that order of the church of the Colossians, in which the apostle 
rejoiced, the right constitution and formation of their church state must 
needs be a main part intended. Order (says Bishop Davenant) denotes their 
coadunation into one body, namely, such as in an army useth to be, and so 
respects the whole body itself, as united and consenting together, and so 
made the seat of order. Now, as the disposement and appointment of the 
bulk and body of the army itself, and the form, the extent, the wings thereof, 
is a matter of as much order, and as essential, as to appoint what officers 
shall be over it, or what discipline in it, so it is here ; and the order of this 
body of the church itself must be by some hand, either human or divine ; 
and sure it was a divine order the apostle here rejoiced in, as we have before 
shewed. And this will appear, 

For, 1, if we consider the moment of this their church constitution and for- 
mation, we shall find it was meet and necessary that the Lord Jesus himself 
should appoint it; for this is the form which the efficient always gives, as well 
as the matter. As in natural bodies, the form constitutes them, as well as mat- 
ter, so in all bodies that are the seat of government, their ordinary frame 
and form, wherein they are united according to a law or fundamental custom, 
constitutes them such (that is, as they are politic bodies), as much as being 
men of such a function or qualification and rank. Yea (as was said before), 
since a judicial power of government depends as much upon a formality of 
order, as it doth upon a material qualification of persons, hence, therefore, 
it is as necessary (as was shewed by many instances) that Jesus Christ should 
design out, and constitute, and authorise the form and order, and the bounds 
of his church, as that he should determine the qualification of the persons 
or functions to Whom the power is committed. For acts of government, 
being to have his blessing in a peculiar manner, to accompany them with a 
spiritual efficacy, as well as acts of worship, it is as necessary for him to 
appoint the form or orders of that body, in which he would accompany them 
with that efficacy, as it is to assign out the material subject of persons and 
functions that are to execute it ; and this our brethren assent to, making it 
as necessary for Christ to institute the form of government, namely, an aris- 
tocracy of elders, as to appoint the function or the persons, namely, elders 


themselves. For it may fall out, and often cloth, that for the matter hereof, 
the members of a church are not such, in respect of their lives and qualifi- 
cations personal, as should be in the members of a church ; and yet, be- 
cause they take on them to be a church,, professing the name of Christ, and 
public worship, &c., hence ministerially they are a true church, as truly as 
an ungodly, profane minister is a true minister, not in respect of his per- 
sonal qualifications, but as his office is an ordinance which he bears, and 
whence it is that all his administrations, while in that office, are not null, 
nor to be reiterated. The like is to be said of the church itself, whereof he 
is a minister ; it subserves ministerially as a church to God, rightly to have 
baptism and other ordinances of Christian communion administered in it, so 
as those ordinances are not null, though administered among such as are 
generally corrupt, and not fit matter to be a church. That, therefore, these 
ordinances come to be rightly and lawfully administered, in this church as a 
church, must be by virtue of Christ's institution and charter, that hath made 
such a company of men, so and so meeting for such ends and purposes, to 
be a ministerial church to him, and to be that great ordinance, which is the 
seat of all other ordinances. 

2. It is no less than the seat, the iboaioyixa, the grand repository, as of 
truth (as 1 Tim. iii. 15), so of government and worship, and so it is the 
next receptive of all the promises that are made to accompany the ordinances 
administered therein. We say it is the seat, as of truth, so of government and 
worship ; for, by comparing the 5th and lith verses with that 15th, we 
shall find that the church of God is the same with that house of God men- 
tioned ver. 14, and likewise ver. 5 : ' If a man know not how to rule his 
own house well, how shall he take care of the church of God ?' A church, 
that is, the subject of government, as compared to an house, wherein the 
governor of a family ruleth. And it cannot be intended of the church uni- 
versal, though universally, or rather indefinitely expressed, namely, for any 
or for all the particular churches that are by God's appointment the sub- 
jects of government, of an elder's care and rule, as a family (to which it is 
here set in comparison), is of an economic or household government ; for 
the church there spoken of is such a church as ordinary ministers take an 
actual special care of, like as he that is a master of a family doth of his 
own house more than all other. And this kind of church, to which the 
proper care and rule of elders is limited, as it is the subject of government, 
so it is the seat of truth, where by God's ordinance it is held forth with a 
promise to preserve it among them, and to provide that it shall be sown in 
the hearts of the people of God, in that great ordinance of preaching by pas- 
tors, which are God's own institution, and accordingly gifts are preserved and 
continued. As, if the officers, the laws and statutes by which a college or town 
is governed, be by charter, the incorporation itself is such much more ; so 
now, if the church be the seat of oflioers, then truly if God instituteth the 
officers themselves to feed the flock, the flock, over whom they are set, is 
appointed and ordained much more, and to it, as to an ordinance of his set- 
ting up, the promise of preserving truth is made. And if it be the seat of 
all ordinances (as the apostle says, 1 Cor. vii. 17, ' I ordain in all the 
churches'), then the churches themselves, which are in this respect the or- 
dinance of these ordinances, where he reposeth and betmsts them, and in 
which he blesseth them, is much more Christ's ordinance. 

Yea, 3, whereas if either of these two, the bounds of elders' jurisdiction, 
or the churches over which they are elders, are to be fetched from divine 
right, it necessarily argues both ; yet of the two, the institution of the bounds 
doth mainly and principally fall upon church, primarily upon church, and 

Chap. XI.] the churches of christ. 125 

but secondarily upon the extent of presbyteries. That of church is the 
more fundamental measure of the division of jurisdiction, and that of pres- 
b}i;eries proportioned thereunto. Thus, when it is said, ' The apostles or- 
dained elders,' %ar ixyCkr^eioLv , ' in every church,' or church by church, it is 
not said that churches were made, xara Tssff/Sursoou?, according to the mould 
or cast of presbyters, but elders were assigned according to the mould, mea- 
sure, or latitude of churches, and so the several bounds of church power is 
limited by the distinction of church. Thus the style of the Scripture runs, 
and churches were settled, and not presbyteries ; and the distinction was 
not then taken from the names of classes and presbyteries, provincial and 
national assemblies, &c. And in Rev. xi. (where John takes the measuring 
reed in his hand), what is the subject that reed is applied to, and whereof 
the measure is taken ? It is the temple, the church, and not presbyteries 
or elderships. Therefore also Mat. xviii., the style runs thus, ' Go tell the 
church,' which if it should be granted to be meant of the elders, in our bre- 
thren's sense, yet of elders in relation to a church, and in that respect so 
styled, as they are relatively the representation of some church, within which 
their jurisdiction is bounded. So that if there be any institution that limits 
the bounds of their power, it must necessarily fall upon the bound of church 
first. Again, our brethren's reasonings doth confirm this, for the chief 
weight of their arguments for the extent of the power of elders over many 
churches, in those instances of Jerusalem, Ephesus, &c., is taken from hence, 
that many congregations are called one church ; and so, from the extent of 
elderships and elders, power is derived, and measured thereby ; and the 
chief power that is exercised, is to cast out of the church, i. e. to judge them 
within then' circuit. 

To conclude : If either of these, the jurisdiction of elders, or the measure 
of churches, are to be fetched from institution, or set thereby, then both are 
to be so. The reason of this consequence is clear from this (which was but 
intimated afore), that all power in governors, or any other company of men 
whatever, must have a territory, a precinct, a seat in which, and among 
whom to exercise their power, and accordingly the extent or limits of that 
seat, is the true measure of the extent of these governors' power and juris- 
diction, the one being resolved into the other. If the one be divine, the 
other is also ; yea, so as although the Holy Ghost should not have expressly 
and directly set down both, yet having done either, it is sufficient ; for the 
one follows upon the other, and so consequently (as was said) if either be 
of divine institution, they both are so. Now the reason of this consequence 
is clear, not only from common reason, in its parallel of all jurisdictions else 
(wherein the measure of the officer's extent of power is resolved into the 
measure of the bodies of men knit together in one, to such or such an extent, 
whether taken from place, or whatever else is made the boundary) ; but 
further, it may be particularly demonstrated, that this ecclesiastical govern- 
ment is according to the order of the New Testament. For suppose the 
power of government, whether in whole or in part, be in a company of 
elders, yet it is not given them simply as elders to their persons, no, nor 
simply as a presbytery abstractedly considered (that is, as a company of 
elders merely as such, continuing as they please over these and these churches, 
or as few as they will), but whatever jurisdiction is in them is given in rela- 
tion to a seat ; so as the division and partition of elderships and presb}-te- 
ries, &c., and their extent and compass, ariseth from the partition and 
division of churches, and the extent thereof. And although what these due 
limits of either are is to be afterwards considered, yet these general do 
argue, that such are to be found set out by the Holy Ghost. ^ 



lliat it is the prerorfative of Christ's poiver and wisdom to determine the due 
limits of churches, and the boundaries of the elders' power. 

The prerogative of Christ the instituter, is as much seen in assigning a 
due extent of power to elders, and in measuring oat the just bounds wherein 
their authority is to be exercised, as in anything which he hath instituted. 

1. Christ useth his great prerogative in setting out, and in constituting 
and bounding of the church that shall be the seat of government, which is 
his house. 

1. In all civil government (and if there be a government spiritual derived 
from Christ, this parallel will hold) the stamp of royal and supreme authority, 
which is the fountain of government, is seen and exercised in nothing more 
than in the grant of privileges unto a company of men dwelling together to 
incorporate for government, as also in setting the bounds and limits of such 
a jurisdiction ; and this is fundamental to all the rest ; and answerably speaks 
the Scriptures. Thus in Heb. iii. 3-5, the prerogative of Christ above 
Moses is argued from this as the highest branch of it, that Christ was he 
that built the very house itself; and therefore, answerably, this is for the 
honour of Christ. If a king had an infinite number of subjects scattered 
over all the world, which could not be governed in the whole or lump, but by 
pgrts, distinguished and formed up into several bodies knit together, were it 
not his prerogative as much, yea more, to appoint out the several provinces 
or territories, and the bounds thereof, which he would have governed exactly, 
as to appoint the kind of officers, or acts of government ? Sui-ely it is more. 
Therefore, the founders and disposera of the bounds of commonwealths at 
first have been esteemed great, and more renowned than those that gave 
laws or established the several kinds of officers. It cannot be denied, but 
that there must be a commission from Christ to empower a company of 
saints, that live in a neighbourhood together as saints, to become a church 
to Christ, not in a mystical relation only (for that they are as saints, though 
they become not a seat of pubUc worship, and of an orderly government here 
on earth), but further to become a subject of public worship, and also to en- 
joy a government among them. As the things themselves thus enjoyed are 
such as nothing more concerns God's glory in the world, and the good and 
benefit of the saints, so their becoming a church, which is the foundation of 
this, and unto which, as such, the privilege of these is vouchsafed, is as great 
a favour and privilege as could be bestowed on them ; which, therefore, must 
needs hold as much upon a free gift and charter of Christ, the head and lord 
of his church, as any other thing can be supposed to do. A gift and favour 
it is, over and above their being saints and members of the church mystical, 
electively bestowed, for such they might have been, and yet never have been 
ordered so to meet. As to be a minister to the church, it is a favour beyond 
a man's being a saint, or having gifts, and none is to take that honour to 
himself, but he that is called of God, and hath a charter from him for the 
kind of ministry designed (and therefore Paul makes that great character of 
himself from God's putting him into the ministry) so for a company of saints 
to take on them the title and honour of a church, and an whole church, as 
every particular seat of worship and government doth, which is the title of 
the whole universal body of Christ, yea, to take on them the relation of a 
body, an whole body to Christ, this must be by a special charter and war- 
rant, whatever company of men there be that do it. Kone can give that 
title of church, unless Christ hath given it, as none can take the title of being 

Chap. XII.] the chukches of christ. 127 

a city in a kingdom, or of being a privileged place, but by charter. If none 
can take on him the dignity of an earl, or of a viscount, or of any officer of 
state, so no company of people can of themselves presume to be a city, but 
by special charter, much less to be a seat of government, whereby they be- 
come not simply a company, but a body politic. Church, in this sense, is 
an authoritative word, and such authority ariseth not from place or any 
external circumstance, no, nor from meeting, but from a charter that adds 
authority, aud above such considerations, unto such a company. 

2. That it should belong to the prerogative of Christ to determine the 
bounds of elders' jurisdiction, as much as to appoint the elders or kinds of 
officers themselves, evidently appears by its parallel. When any officers 
derive their governing power from a supreme state, it concerns the honour 
and prerogative of that state to define the extent of the division of their 
jurisdiction, as much as the kind of officers. If, therefore, it be universally 
found to be the wisdom of all supreme powers, with one consent to judge 
and account this bounding as justly to concern their prerogative, shall we 
think that Christ hath been less jealous and careful of his honour herein ? 
Surely, either is no government at all defined by him, and no sort or kind 
of officers set and distinguished by him, but all is alike left to human pru- 
dence, as in civil government all these things alike are, or it must be ac- 
knowledged, that the one concerns the honour and prerogative of Christ to 
determine, as well as the other. 

I know it may be said, that though it is necessary, yet it must be safely 
left to the law of natui*e, and to the rulers-^' of prudence for men to appoint it ; 
aud that yet however the partition or measure of churches' and officers' ex- 
tent is divine, because God hath appointed that to be the measure which men 
in their prudence shall think good to appoint. But this is, indeed, to make 
both the extent of officers' government and the measure of the churches, and 
the seat thereof, to be both human, even as the extent of the power and office 
of civil magistrates is, and is called, 1 Peter ii. 13. And magistracy is 
called an ordinance of man, because the extent of it is left to men to appoint 
as they shall think meet. And yet, if God had either set the bounds and 
extent of officers' jurisdiction, or of commonwealths, which are both con- 
siderable, then had both been of divine institution ; but since neither of 
them are so set, they are human, although in the general God hath com- 
manded that magistrates shall have that measure of power which men and 
commonwealths shall give them. 

I will add one thing more to strengthen Christ's prerogative in this case, 
that spiritual reason, suited to the nature of the thing itself, falls in to prove 
both the bounding the elders' power, and the bounds of churches as the seat 
of government. 

1. I argue from the rise of the call of elders. For though it were true, 
as some say, that all saints as saints, or as they are mystical members of the 
church universal, have a full and immediate right, without any further rela- 
tion of order and union to a particular church, ipw facto to enjoy all ordi- 
nances, yet take elders, or ministers, and church governors as such, and 
they cannot be supposed to have it simply as members of the church catholic, 
nor have they it from their having gifts. The law of nature they cannot 
plead, why they should have that power rather than other persons in the 
church ; and Christ's charter immediately they have not, as naming their 
persons. From whence, then, must it be that they have their power as 
elders, but from an instituted relation ? This must be, then, some other 
instituted right and privilege given them. They are given to the church, 

* Qu. ' rules ' ?— Ed. 


and so their rise must be from their relation to a church ; and by the same 
reason, the extent of the jurisdiction of their office must depend upon the 
like ; for what else should give them power over these, or these churches, 
and not others ? As it is asserted by some that the power is given to saints, 
yet not to saints, but as formed up into bodies ; so those that will say it is 
wiven to elders, must at least acknowledge it is given to elders as knit into 
bodies, and set over such formed bodies. So as their jurisdiction doth de- 
pend upon a relation to, and a rise of call, either from that body, or at least 
into that body, which is more evident upon this further reason, than that 
fore-mentioned will reach to. Because God makes not elders immediately by 
his providential converting and working on them, for so he makes saints ; and 
yet he gives not, say our brethren, the power to them, but as united into an 
orderly body by institution, in which they exercise each to other. And the 
case of elders' power is more depending upon an order and institution, because 
they are called to be elders by a designation of men. Their being elders at 
least is in order to a relation, and not by a providential immediate working 
on them, or from God's giving them gifts, or by an immediate call, as the 
apostles were chosen, afore God erected his church, to that end to erect it. 
There must be formed bodies to give a rise to their call, by designing and 
accepting them ; and there must be a relation to those formed bodies which 
they are set over, which must be set out by divine appointment, which alone 
maketh elders, and .^ives them their powers ; and so the rise of their call 
and their jurisdiction is commensurable. 

2. I argue from the necessity of the thing itself. Necessary it was that 
the extensive power of elders should be determined (as well as the intensive) 
either by God or man. If by God, we have what is desired ; if by man, 
either by the civil magistrates (and they were not Christians for above three 
hundred years after Christ) or by the elders themselves, and the churches, 
as they should agree it. Now see the inconvenience to leave this part of 
extensive power to be determined by men, especially by the elders them- 
selves, whilst Christ should take on him to determine only the other. Of 
all sort of power, church power is that wherein, when men have any part or 
any pretence to it, they are more apt to be ambitious of extending it than 
any other. Witness the ambition of the prelates, and the usurpation of the 
pope, &c. And they are as apt to usui'p an undue power in the extension 
of jurisdiction, as well as unlawful intensive authority, as we have seen in 
popes and bishops. The latter have assumed an undue extensive power 
over whole dioceses, archbishops over provinces, and primates over nations, 
and popes have usurped such a power over the universal church. This too 
larce power they have all challenged, as well as too much intensive power, 
by'which the bishops appropriate ordination to themselves, which presby- 
teries (say they) may not do ; and the popes lay a claim to infallibility, &c. 
Now our presbyterian brethren quarrel at that power in bishops, and the 
bishops oppose that universal extensive power in the popes. Now the pope 
challengeth this intensive power of infaUibility, but upon this right, that 
having such universal extensive power as the apostles had, therefore God 
hath enabled him (as in that case he did the apostles) with an infallibility 
suitable to that large extent of power ; and therefore he began his usurpa- 
tion, with the pretence only at first to an universal power for extent, in his 
title of universal bishop, and that brought on the other, and crept up with 
it, and is supported by it, as the ivy is by the elm. Thus Alexander the 
Great, being lord of all the world in his own opinion, flattered himself into 
the conceit of divinity, and of being a god, as annexed to that crown uni- 
versal. So that men are as apt to err this way as the other, and as danger- 

Chap. XII.] the churches of christ. 129 

ously in the consequence. It was therefore as necessary that Christ should 
set bounds to the usurpation of men who were to be trusted with church 
power, as to anything else ; it was necessary to prevent the claim of any one 
(as of bishops) to determine the form of government in the church not to 
be monarchical ; it was necessary to prevent impertinent intermeddling in 
officers, to set the proper bounds of each several officer ; it was necessary to 
prevent a lording over the flock, by setting down the acts of government 
proper to elders. And so, that a stretching themselves beyond their line, 
and an intermeddling authoritatively in churches not in their jurisdiction 
might be prevented, it was needful to set down by certain limits the territory 
of church government, seeing as true a tyranny and lording might equally 
arise over the church by an undue extent of jurisdiction as by the exercise 
of unlawful and new invented acts of church power. And all this was the 
rather necessary, because that if it had been left to common rules (as other 
things of outward order are), and by human prudence to be shared and 
divided, the clergy themselves, and elders of churches, were like to arrogate 
the determination hereof (as in all ages they have done) ; and if they them- 
selves were to be the allotters of it, they would be sure to look to their 
share, and that wisdom (they would have it left to) would be sure to cast it 
so, and mould the frame of the power of jurisdiction into such an order as 
should advance and set up their power over all the churches. And herein 
the whole multitude of elders and the clergy are as apt (yea, more apt) to 
be tempted, as a few prelates, that usurp it singly, because the dominion 
extends to the totum genus, the whole kind of them. Meet therefore it 
was that the Lord Jesus himself should fix this, and determine it as much 
as anything else that he hath done. 

Then, 3, as to the bounding the churches or bodies of saints and elders 
that should be the seat of church power, it agrees with all reason that Christ 
should keep this to him as a part of his prerogative, and that it should depend 
on his supreme authority. It cannot be denied, but that (as was said) for 
a company of saints to be a distinct fixed church within themselves, and so 
to be the seat of either the ordinances for worship or government, is a super- 
added privilege to their being saints. If pastors and teachers be ordinances 
and the gift of Christ, Eph. iv., then to be churches, and the privileges 
thereof, in and by means of which the saints come to have a propriety in 
these, and a special relation unto these, is a gift also, and so dependeth 
electively upon God's will, and so is the subject of institution as well as any 
other thing. And these churches of saints are not only the object of govern- 
ment, and in that respect the seat of it, but the privilege of government; the 
endowment thereof is in a special manner conferred on the churches, who 
are the seat of it ; and thereunto is the grant primarily made, and unto 
them the benefit redounds. Thus in civil bodies that are the seat of govern- 
ment, the privilege and charter of having a government respects the whole 
community itself principally, and not the officers ; and therefore it is called 
the corporation's, the town's, or the city's charter, and not the mayor's and 
aldermen. As, therefore, the main institution or charter falls on the seat 
itself, and so upon the officers and the power in them for them, and indeed 
on both by one and the same appointment, so answerably tlae Scripture 
style runs still upon the church, taking in the whole community of elders 
and people (' So I ordain in the churches,' &c., says the apostle), because 
that is the seat, the subject of the privilege, and so of that institution that 
bestows and endows it. Yea, and therefore the promise of Christ's blessing 
and presence is made to the church, that is the seat of government : ' I will 



be present,' says Christ, ' in the midst of you,' &c., which, if it should be 
interpreted of a company of elders, yet it must be as relating to a church 
that is their seat, and to which they have a special relation, and so by 
virtue of the promise made to the church itself, Christ walks in the midst 
of the candlesticks, which are the churches. And the efficacy of this govern- 
ment and censures therein depends upon a special blessing, and the promise 
of a special blessing is always the companion of his own institution. As no 
acts of government, but such as are instituted, have the ordinary promise of 
blessing, nor in the hands of any other than such as Christ hath given the 
power unto, so all is confined too within that seat or extent of jurisdiction 
he hath appointed ; and upon this ground he is specially present with those 
oificers and those acts, in relation, and in a respect to that body or church 
whose elders they are, and to whom the promise is principally made, and 
upon whom the privilege and institution chiefly falls. In this respect, then, 
it must also as much belong to his power and prerogative to set out some 
bounds and limits of these churches, as to institute and appoint that there 
should be churches that should have such a privilege. And the reason is, 
because the greatness and worth of the privilege doth more or less depend 
upon the ordering the extent and bounds of that chui'ch, and will accord- 
ingly more or less redound to the good and benefit of the saints therein, as 
these are set and ordered. And therefore it was fit that the saints should 
owe this to none but the wisdom of Christ himself ; yea, nothing concerns 
the substance of the privilege more ; and therefore if the privilege itself be 
from Christ, then this also. Take any incorporate body, if it be a privilege 
to any such body to have ofiicers and certain acts of government appointed 
for and over them, then it is as much so too to have also a circumscription 
of jurisdiction among themselves, as they are incorporate; yea, their privilege 
and the benefit of it depends so much upon it, that according to the order- 
ing thereof it is rendered greater or lesser, or perhaps made as good as void, 
so that all depends upon the set determination of it, and had need therefore 
to be set out by the founder as distinctly as anything else. The benefit of 
all privileges depends upon bounds of enclosure, which, if left common, the 
privilege is impaired. The privilege of such a body lies, that inclusively they 
should have such a government and officers within themselves, and also exclu- 
sively be free in such and such cases from the jurisdiction of others ; and if there 
be not something of either of these, there is no benefit or privilege in having 
such a govenmient or officers ; and yet neither of them can be accomplished 
unless the extent of the seat of government itself, and jurisdiction thereof, be 
set out and determined. And if so much of the privilege depends hereon 
(as apparently it doth), should not he appoint and set out the limits of these 
bodies, who is the author, giver, and bestower of the privilege itself, to 
whom these societies should wholly owe it, and not to the discretion of 
others, and who also takes on him as his peculiar to appoint both the acts 
of government, and afiairs for it, and form of government they should be 
ruled by, the one being of as much consequence as the other ? Thus the 
proportion of the greatness of the privilege and benefit of government, so 
much depending on it, it is meet, yea, necessary, that he that is the author 
of this government should define and fix it. 

4. I shall further add another thing, which depends upon the former, that 
the efficacy of all ecclesiastical power and censures, depending on so super- 
natural a blessing, to subject the conscience unto those censures (against 
which men's consciences are apt to be as obstinate and rebellious as to any 
kind of punishment inflicted by men) it was as necessary that Christ himself 
should set out the bounds of jurisdiction, within the compass of which men 

Chap. XII.] the churches of christ. 131 

■were to be subject to those whom he betrusted with the government, as to 
appoint any of those other things fore-mentioned ; for men were hke to 
quarrel at nothing more than the right of power in those that executed it, 
and nothing was more hable to exception than is this. They still might say, 
What have you to do to judge me, unless you can shew from Christ I am in 
the way of your jurisdiction ? Yea, how else also should it be known to 
•whom it belonged, and over whom to execute these censures ; and who were 
in fault if they were not executed ? The apostle therefore stirs up the 
Corinthians to it, as a duty belonging to them ; and convinceth them of their 
sin (on whom it lay, and on none else), that they neglected to censure that 
offender, who was within their jurisdiction ! ' Do not ye judge them that are 
within ? ' says he, 1 Cor. v. 12. And so far as the sword of the Spirit is not 
managed by that hand, where Christ hath placed it, it will be naked. And 
if so much of the blessing depends upon other things of as small moment, 
as upon the true form of government that Christ hath appointed, that is, to 
be administered by the many (as Paul speaks), and not by one man, a bishop, 
and by men in office, and not the people only, though many (as our brethren 
will say, in so much as for want of these some of them do account the act 
null and void, and to have been weakened, and as a wooden dagger) ; surely 
of these censures it may as well be imagined, they might receive a propor- 
tionable strength from the addition of the like institution of the extent of 
jurisdiction over those that should be within the reach of them, these being 
acts of the power of jurisdiction, as they have been commonly called, in dis- 
tinction from those other of doctrine and the sacraments. Sure we are that 
Paul seems to put as much of the promise of the power to accompany it 
upon this, that the incestuous Corinthian was within the jurisdiction of the 
church of Corinth, and so had the promise of Christ's power to accompany 
that ordinance to that man, as upon anything else. For Christ still blessetii 
his own oixiinance, when in that right hand he hath placed it, and it may 
well be thought one, if not the main reason, why the edge of this sword hath 
been found so blunt and dull (as Laurentius Andreas observes) that there 
hath been more power in one excommunication in the primitive times, than 
in all since, though backed with the civil sword ; because it hath been in 
them that have not had the right of jurisdiction to execute it ; that whereas 
TertuUian says, it was in their congregations tangumiifiilmen, as a thunder- 
bolt, it hath been bnitum fulmen to us, a thunderbolt of no force ; nulla 
major nidUtas quam defectus juris, nee major defectus quam jurisdktionis, there 
is no greater nullity than a deficiency of right, nor a greater defect than that 
of jurisdiction. 

In the conclusion of the whole, I infer from this assertion chiefly these 

1. That our brethren of the presbyterian way, if they would prove and 
establish their several orders, and classical, &c. assemblies, they must shew 
us institution for them. 

2. And in this agitation let those that can produce out of the New Testa- 
ment the truest, genuine, natural evidences of the bounds of an instituted 
church, as the seat of officers and government, carry it. 

8. 'That an instituted church, according to the true and lawful bounds 
thereof, being the seat of the privilege, all power of elders and officers is to 
be drawn down thereto, in the exercise thereof; and in case of defect, elders 
are to be chosen to such a church, and not that church taken in to other 
elders, and also all acts of jurisdiction are to be exercised therein. 



Pa,rtic%dar congregations, having a sufficient miwher of elders and officers, are 
completely enabled fur all acts of government, and excommunication ilaelf, 
uithin themselves, as well as for uorshijy. 


TJiat a particular congregation of saints, having a sufficient number of elders, 
is a complete subject of church power and government, 2^'>'oved : 1, from the 
power wliich tJieg have to examine and admit members ; 2, from their pjower 
of suspending from tlie sacrament ; 3, from their being a perfect jwlitical 

This is agreed upon by all hands, that some particular church is such a 
politic body, as hath entire power to cast out by excommunication ; and a 
casting out of that particular body is consequently a casting out of all the 
rest, by the law of communion of churches, whether imphcit (one church 
reverencing the judgment of another, till they see apparent cause to the con- 
trary), or explicit, by virtue of that their association. Now the question 
is, what particular body or church it is, whether a fixed congregation 
(whereof a man is a constant member), when it hath a sufficiency of elders 
over it, or a presbytery of many congi-egations ? 

Proposition, One single congregation of saints, having a sufficient number 
of elders and officers, is an entire seat of all acts of government, and of ex- 
communication itself, as well as of worship. The truth of this proposition 
will appear, if we consider the following arguments, 

Arg. I. If such a church with the elders are sufficient to try and examine, 
and so admit ordinary members, without the help of other churches, then it 
is sufficient to cast them out. For, 

1. The one is an affirmative act, the other a negative act, but both are 
acts of the keys, only turning several ways ; the one opening, the other 
shutting ; the one is but judging initial repentance, the other is a judging of 
occasional repentance for a gross sin. And there is as much reason you 
should require as evident signs of repentance from the state of nature, as 
you do in case of scandal. For as to men grown up, till they shew repent- 
ance, there is this prejudice against them, that they are children of wrath 
by nature even as well as others. 

2. The not admitting of men to church ordinances, and not receiving 
them, is an act of as great moment to men's persons, as to be cast out. IF, 
then, churches be betrusted with the one, why should not they be betrusted 
with the other ? 

3. If excommunication were more to the man excommunicated, than a 
not receiving by way of admission, yet Christ's honour is as much concerned 

Chap. I.] the churches of christ. 133 

in what members are taken in and owned for his body, as in what are cast 

4. In all commonwealths, to enfranchise and to cut off belong to the same 
power ; yea, to enfranchise doth more appertain to it. For parliaments only 
do enfranchise strangers, but yet lower courts do cut men oft' by death, 
according to the law. And it holds in all bodies else, for in families they 
have power to take in servants, and power to cast out, and in colleges to 
admit and to expel. 

Object. But it will be objected that, to excommunicate a man, is to cast 
him out of all churches, and therefore it is the greater act. 

Ans. 1. That simply alone doth not make it greater; for a man is cast 
out of all churches, not formally but only consequently, because the churches 
have and hold communion one with another. Let the proportion be held 
between admission and excommunication in this, and they will be parallels ; 
for if you will say that all churches about have an interest, because they are 
to reject a man that is excommunicated, so they have an interest also in 
admission, to receive him also if he be admitted, and they cast a reflection 
upon that church he is of, if they receive him not by virtue of his fellow- 

Ans. 2. A man in being so admitted into a particular church, by virtue 
of that fellowship, he is received occasionally into communion with any other 

Arg. II. If a single congregation may suspend from the sacrament without 
consulting others, then they may excommunicate. This is evident, 

1. From presbyterial principles, for those that hold excommunication to 
be but a casting one ofi' from communion with the church, and not to include 
a further thing, viz., a formal delivering him unto Satan, do make but a 
very small ditierence between suspension and excommunication. A man 
excommunicated they will admit to hear, and therefore his being cast out of 
the communion of the church is but a depriving him of the communion of 
the Lord's supper, and that is also done by suspension. Only the one is 
but a suspension from a few acts, this from many ; but both are till he 

If it be said that the consequent of excommunication is to avoid civil con- 
verse, which is more than suspension, we reply, that even so it is in sus- 
pension also ; for there is to be a withdrawing from a brother that walks 
inordinately, before he is excommunicated, 2 Thes. iii. 6. Yea, because a 
private brother ought to withdraw converse with such an one, it is made a 
ground of suspension from the Lord's supper by the church, that the church 
should withdraw communion with him, and so suspend him. 

Arr/. III. Add to this, that they who are a politic church, having a suffi- 
cient presbytery and eldership, have a power to do all acts in a church, and 
therefore to excommunicate. But such a congregation is a politic chm'ch, 
and have a sufficient presbytery and eldership. 

1. They are a politic church, and the least church hath thus much power, 
that he that hears it not, let him be as an heathen and a publican ; and the 
greatest hath no more. All the churches in the world may add advice in 
difficult cases, and a reverential authority, but they cannot add power, for 
that Christ hath given to a church as it is a church. The presbyterial 
divines themselves do argue the power of excommunication in a presbytery, 
because it is a church ; only they say a congregation is an imperfect church. 
Whereas there is not one Scripture in the New Testament that doth so 
much as call a presbytery, over many congregations, church ; or if it did, 
there is then a greater thing to be proved (namely, this distinction which 


the Scripture hath not made), that a congregation having an eldership is an 
incomplete church politic, and the other complete. All churches may be 
imperfect in respect of moral power, in some cases, wherein they need advice ; 
and so a presbyterian church may be imperfect, and may run into error, 
and so may a provincial, so may a national, so may a general council. And 
if the imperfection of a church should lie in this, that it is subject to another 
church, and accountable thereunto (according to presbyterial principles), 
then also a provincial and a national church were imperfect, and by that 
rule they also srhould not excommunicate. But in a word, the imperfection 
of a congregational church must lie, either in respect of what they are as a 
church, or in respect of their eldership. 

(1.) Their imperfection doth not lie in their being a church, for they have 
more of church than any classical meeting of elders hath, because they have 
both people and elders also, and so partake of both sorts, which the other 
doth not. And the assembly have in their vote acknowledged Mat. xviii. 
to intend a particular church, and the eldership thereof to be a church, 
although they do not acknowledge it only to be a church, and our reformed 
writers call congregations, ecclesice prima:, the first churches. 

(2.) Neither doth their imperfection He in their eldership, as being insuffi- 
cient, for if so, then either elders are not an eldership unto them for acts of 
government ; or they are not a sufficient eldership for all acts of govern- 
ments. But, 

[1.] They are an eldership or presbytery unto them for acts of govern- 
ment. For where there are more elders than one united in common for 
acts of government, there they are an eldership or a presbytery, but so there 
are here. This is evident in the instance of Jerusalem, brought by the 
assembly themselves, for they therefore prove presbyterial government over 
many congregations, because those elders met for acts of government, and 
that those many congregations were one church to those elders. Now in a 
particular congregation, where there are more elders than one, there is one 
church, and there are likewise the elders thereof, meeting (say we) with 
that church for acts of government, and that they may meet apart (say 
they) for some acts of government. Of a bishop it is said, 1 Tim. iii. 5, 
' If he do not rule his own house well, how shall he take care of the 
church of God ? ' that is, to rule it, as the answering of one phrase to the 
other imports. And surely, if by bishop there be meant a particular elder, 
having relation unto a particular congregation, ruling in that congregation is 
there intended ; and to suppose that the house of God, that he is to take 
care of and to rule, is many congregations, as met in a classis, is too hard a 
supposition, especially seeing the argument is taken from ruling his family, 
and he is placed in a congregation ; and if the congregation should not be 
meant here by the house of God, the comparison went j^er saltum, by too 
wide a leap. 

[2.] As the name church is applied to the house of meeting in our lan- 
guage to this day, so this is an argument that congregational meetings are 
churches, and so the name rector, which imports ruling, continues also to 
this day. * Presbyters (saith Bains*) in ancient time were in great differ- 
ence, or of a double sort, those who are called j;;-o;)?/i sacerdotes, rectores, 
seniores, minorum ecclesiarum j^rapositi. The bishop had not, nor challenged 
not, that respective power over them, which he did over those who were 
numbered among his clerks, who were helps to him in the liturgy, in chapels 
and parishes which did depend on him as their proper teacher, though they 
could not so ordinarily go out to him. The first sort had power within 
* Bains' Diocesan Trial, p. G6. 

Chap. I.J the chukches of christ. 135 

their churches to teach, administer, excommunicate, and were counted breth- 
ren to the bishops, and called cpiscopl or coepiscopi, even of the ancient ; 
but the presbyters, which were part of their clergy, they had this directive 
power over them, indeed, the canons ecclesiastical allowing the same. And 
this power, in their own congregations, these rectors had, although they 
were miiwrum ecdesianim pnqwsiti, rulers over lesser churches. And 
surely they that are fit to teach their own congregation, are fit to govern 
their own congregation : the word to feed the flock implying feeding them 
by ruling as well as by teaching. They that are parents to beget, have 
power of the rod betrusted to them ; and if they be fit to govern /o/o iiiterno, 
then much more with others /o/o externa. It is a more apostolical work to 
beget, and to plant, and to multiply, than to govern men being converted. 
That those that should be fit to gather a church, and to bring it to falness 
from small beginnings, should not be fit to govern it, and to reap the fruit 
of it, but that the power should be in others that are extrinsecal to their 
congregations, is absurd to think.' 

In the classical government, if they admonish not personally only, i. e. 
each minister apart, but as a body in common, then they meet for acts of 
government, and that in common as united ; and if there be no admonition 
in common wherein they all join, as an act of authority of the whole, then 
such admonitions proceed from the minister alone that doth admonish, and 
the other elders therein are but as cyphers. Now, therefore, when there is 
elders, and these elders united in acts and common, and those acts are acts 
of government, there must needs be an eldership. And this the reformed 
churches do acknowledge, and the commissioners of Scotland in their papers 
do own this to be an eldership. The reformed churches in France call it a 
presbytery, and the meeting of the elders over many congregations, that 
they call the classis. And what doth make a classical eldership to be a 
presbytery, but that materially there are elders that have relation to those 
congregations, and that formally they are united for acts in common ? 

(2.) It is as evidently true that they are a sufficient presbytery. It is 
true, indeed (as was said afore), no one is sufiicient for any of these things ; and 
thus for moral imperfections, power might be taken from the apostles them- 
selves, who acknowledge this imperfection of themselves ; but they have a 
political sufficiency. For 

[1.] If it be said that the insufficiency lies in the fewness of the number, 
and that in a classical presbytery there are more, in answer to that, the 
rale saith, ' elders of the church,' and so speaks of them indefinitely ; and 
our Saviour Christ saith in Mat. xviii., 'Where two or three are gathered,' 
which the presbyterial divines do interpret of the elders. In Acts xiii. 1, 
there are three elders mentioned at Antioch, and that they ordained two 
apostles, Barnabas and Paul, who (say our brethren) acted as ordinary 
elders, when joined together in the same act, and yet they ordained also. 
Acts xiv. 23. Thus the church of Colosse had two ministers, Epaphras 
aud Archippus, and yet that church was complete. Col. ii. 10. And they 
were but one congregation, for they were pastors to them ; ' who is a faith- 
ful minister to you,' saith he, and that in respect of teaching, for, saith he, 
they had ' heard it from him,' Col. iv. And when the Scripture hath not 
put the sufficiency upon a number, why, if there be but two, should they be 
excluded "? And then too it may fall out, that as many elders are in one 
congregation as in some chififies. It will not be denied by our brethren, 
that two churches may associate and make a classis, and one congregation 
may have as many elders, ns these two smaller ones that do associate. And 
assuredly their sufiiciency doth not he, that they have relation unto many 


congi-egations, for tliat this should have the influence into their sufficiency 
is hard to be supposed ; besides that this is but a secondary relation, for 
the primary relation is to their own several churches, insomuch as it was 
sometimes aflirmed by our brethren, that they were not elders to all those 
several congregations associated, but an eldership only. And that is but an 
extrinsecal relation neither, whereas that relation they have to their own is 
more intrinsecal, because they are chosen by them, and because they per- 
sonally watch over them, and are fixed amongst them, whereas this is but 
raised by a mere association. And therefore this relation, that they are 
elders over many congregations, can add nothing to their sufficiency. 

[2.] Or else, secondly, their insufficiency is supposed to lie in not having 
all sort of elders in this congregational eldership, both as pastor, teacher, 
and ruling elder. But if so, then a classical eldership may be imperfect 
too, for in some of these, one that hath the office of a teacher, or a doctor 
may be, is often found wanting ; or what if all ruling elders were wanting, 
and only pastors met, were this an imperfect eldership ? And if all sorts 
and kinds of elders were necessary to make up the sufficiency of an elder- 
ship or presbytery classical, then it were first necessary that every congrega- 
tion should have all these sorts of elders ; for a classis cannot oblige the con- 
gregations under them, that some should have a teacher, others a ruling elder, 
others a pastor, to make up all sorts among them ; and besides, the first rela- 
tion of all officers, being unto particular congregations, as being primarily 
ordained for them (for none is an officer simply made for a classical church), 
therefore the seat of all these sorts of officers is congregations. And so, if 
that the classis have it, it is because the congregations have all first ; and if 
the classes be bound to have all to make theirs sufficient, the congregations 
also are bound to have all to make theirs sufficient. 

[3.] Or else, thirdly, they are supposed deficient, because they want 

But [1. J if they are elders of the church universal (as some of our breth- 
ren affirm) and of all the world, and accordingly fit for any work of elders, 
as their office is, it were strange that a company of them in a congregation, 
two or three or more, should not be fit for all the business in that con- 

But [2,] their inability must lie either in want of skill or want of power. 
If in want of skill, it must be either skill to discern the proof of the fact, for 
which men are to be excommunicated ; and if so, then they are unable to 
admonish also, for they should not admonish but upon proof of the fact ; 
and to disable a congregation, people and elders, to do that which any jury 
of a few men use to do ordinarily in point of life and death, is very hard. 
Or else their want of skill must lie in discerning, whether the sin be a sin 
of that nature, that it deserves excommunication for the matter of fact, if it 
be not repented of; but they cannot be supposed to want skill in that, for 
then they cannot likewise suspend from the sacrament, for they are to sus- 
pend but for such sins as, if not repented of, would deserve excommunica- 
tion. Or else they must want skill to judge of repentance, or the want of 
it ; but surely if a brother may be able to judge of the repentance of a 
brother, in case of a flagitious sin (which in public he should be excom- 
municated for, if he repented not), then a church and these elders may be 
able to judge of his repentance of public sins. Yea, if a particular eldership 
(according to presbyterial principles) do find that the man repenteth upon 
their admonition, though the sin be gross and heinous, they may forbear to 
bring him to the chissis, and receive him again, or else their admonitions are 
in vain, and all must be brought however to the classis. And if they may 

Chap. I.] the churches of christ. 137 

judge of his repentance, so as to prevent excommunication, then they may 
as well judge of his repentance, or of his obstinacy, when he is to be excom- 

If it be said that the fault may be so atrocious that they cannot so well 
judge of his repentance, the answer is, 

1. Then all such sins should be brought immediately to the classical pres- 
bytery, and not to the particular eldership at all, for them to admonish or to 
deal with him in order to repentance. 

2. The more heinous the lault is, the more apparent it is ; and therefore 
the better they may judge of it, and the easier an excommunication should 
be for it. 

Or, 2, their insufficiency must be supposed to lie in want of power. 

But, 1, if they be a presbytery in a church, they must needs have power 
and authority to do all that a presbytery is ordered for, or is ascribed to it. 
A presbytery and presbyterial acts are relative and mutual. 

2. All Christ's ordinances and means are sufficient unto his end. As a 
minister, if he be a true and lawful minister, hath sufficiency both of gifts 
and power to do what belongeth unto him as a minister, as to acts of all 
sorts, and the least as well as the greatest, so if Christ do ordain a presby- 
tery to govern as a presbytery, it is a perfect means for all presbyterial acts ; 
for God's appointments are perfect, and God's means for government are as 
complete as his other means, of preaching and the sacraments. A presbytery, 
if it be a presbytery, is as perfect as a presbytery, as a particular minister is 
as a minister. A minister is a complete minister, not to preach only, but to 
baptize; not to baptize only, but to administer the Lord's supper; not to 
preach one part of the counsel of God, but all ; not to administer the bread 
only, but the cup ; and if he is the minister of one sacrament, then also of 
another, for there are no such ministers as the bishops, deacons.'"'' Now, look 
what a minister is in his kind, that elders are in their kind; and if they have 
power to admonish, then power to excommunicate. 

3. If they be fit for one act of government, then for all acts, of all sorts 
and kinds (for of them we speak now) ; we do not say in all cases, for a case 
may be too difficult for them, and then they seek advice ; but we speak of the 
kinds. If they be able, they have the power, in one as well as the other, 
which is proved. 

1. Because our presbyterian brethren's own arguments do run from 
instances of one part of government to all. They cannot give instances of 
all acts of government done by those that they suppose to be classical 
churches ; but they argue from some few, and those less than excommuni- 
cation, as in the instance of the church of Jerusalem, they argue from the 
less, from having received alms, that they meant to prevent a scandal. 
Yea, they argue that because the synod in Acts xv. might with an authority 
doctrinal declare, that therefore they might excommunicate ; so we argue, 
if a congregational presbjiery may do all these, then they may excommuni- 
cate, and it is their right to do it. Our presbyterian brethren can give no in- 
stance of any one that did all ; and until they have an instance that classical 
churches did all these, it may still be said that classical churches be imper- 
fect. And how then shall they or we know what is a perfect presbytery, and 
what is not ? To give them power to admonish, to suspend from the sacra- 
ment, and not to excommunicate, is to make them imperfect. If, then, they 
are furnished with power, they must likewise have ability ; for what Christ 
gives power to do, to that he gives ability sufficient. 

If it should be said that congregational elders do but govern iiiforo interna, 
* Qu. ' bishops' deacons ' ? — En. 


I answei-, 1, that is the game that the bishops allowed, only unto pastors of 
congregations, affirming themselves had only the external judicature. Then, 

2, they rule more than in foro interno, for they set up an outward judicature 
in a church, of elders, united in common, even while they admonish in com- 
mon, and suspend from the sacrament in common. 

So that, to conclude this argument, to say that they are insufficient for 
ability and power, it is, 1, a wrong to Christ in reproaching his means as 
insufficient to his ends. It is, 2, a wrong to the pi-esbytery itself. It is 
enough to take away the power from them ; but to take away a man's power 
and his estate, and make him a ward, under pretence that he is not able to 
manage it, or hath no power to do it, is the greatest wrong that can be. 

3. If some elders and congregations be found insufficient, then they are in- 
sufficient to be elders ; put them out, or let them only be wards ; shall the 
law be general for their sakes ? 4. If you ask what is a sufficient eldership, 
we ask you what is an insufficient, and wherein insufficiency lieth ? And 
let not churches be kept imperfect (when it is their due to have a sufficient 
eldership), that under the pretence of that, the necessity of presbyterial 
government may appear. But as in case of separation, the assembly hath 
affirmed that if there be want of officers or the like, it is required that there 
be a supply, and that there be not a separation ; so in congregations, let there 
be a sufficient eldership, let there be a supply, let not the power be taken 
away. For thus the bishops took away ruling elders, and did leave but 
one pastor in a congregation, that so they might have the better pretence to 
govern, and to do all themselves. 


The fourth, fiJOi, and sixth arguments, to j^i'ove a single congregation to he a 
complete subject of ecclesiastical iwwer, drawn, l,from being a body of i'krist 
completely ordained ; 2, because u-orship and government are commensurate; 
3, from the nature of excommunication. 

Arg. IV. They that are a body organised with all the members, have all 
the privileges of a body ; but a church having a company of elders, especially 
if of all sorts, is a body to Christ, and completely organized. The complete- 
ness of the natural body lies not in the multitude of members, but in having 
all. And that such a body thus complete should not have all power that a 
body can be supposed to have over its members, is very strange. And again, 
that power and liberty Avhich is to be given to every brother in his propor- 
tion, is to be given to every complete body of Christ in the like proportion as 
it is a body. Now, every brother hath power as a brother (and as it is his 
duty) to withdraw from him he doth judge to walk inordinately, 2 Thes. 
iii. 5. And then every body that is rightly organised must therefore have 
power as a body, in a suitable proportion, to cut off any rotten member ; 
and if it can heal itself, to do it of itself, the law of nature will teach it, as 
it is a body, so to do. That is not a sound body that hath not strength to 
purge out its own excrements. All bodies and societies of men have power 
still within themselves to cast out any who are destructive to the society, so 
families have (every lump purgeth out its own leaven), and every particular 
company in a greater city have that power so far as their own company 

The power which the synagogues had and exercised, congregations surely 
may have now. The Sanhedrim might give the law in the abstract, direct- 

Chap. II,] the churches of christ. 139 

ing who and what kind of persons were to be east out, and for what ; but 
they meddled not with the particnh^r sentence and applying of it to any 
man, nor did the towns and cities that judged in their gates. Neither were 
the synagogues bound to advise, but only when the case was difficult, which 
is clear by this, that the Jews had synagogues in all the cities of the Gentiles, 
dispersed up and down the world, and had their several rulers in them, and 
they were not bound to come up to Jerusalem to the Sanhedrim. These 
synagogues, though they could not cast out of the temple, yet cast out of 
themselves they might ; and therefore a man was cast out of the synagogue. 

As we argue in the case of baptism of children, that God hath not strait- 
ened but rather enlarged his grace, and the liberty and promises thereof 
under the gospel, so we do argue here, that the liberty of such assemblies 
(as the synagogues were), which Christ hath now instituted, must have all 
the privileges they had, and so much the more, by how much, that the 
assemblies of the saints are now more noble than synagogues were then, 
they being called a temple, the house of God, a holy nation, and a royal 
priesthood ; and upon every assembly, under the gospel, God creating a 
cloud and a pillar of fire, these have all the promises and privileges that the 
temple and the nation of the Jews had, therefore surely as much as the syna- 
gogues. The prophet Jeremiah, iii. 16, makes the privilege of every church 
under the gospel to be as great as that of the temple at Jerusalem, where 
the ark was, the place where God did choose for the Sanhedrim to sit in, and 
to govern that nation. ' In those days' (saith he, speaking of the times of the 
gospel), 'they shall say no more. The ark of the covenant of the Lord' (which, 
therefore, must needs be meant of the times of the gospel ; for the ark of the 
covenant of the Lord was the chiefest privilege, under the law, till Christ), 
* neither shall it come unto mind, neither shall they remember it, neither 
shall they visit it, neither shall that be done any more.' But, instead thereof, 
be takes one of a city, and one of a family, and brings them to Zion, takes 
not the nation, but selects some out of the nation ; and gives them pastors 
according to his own heart, as a greater privilege than that of the ark, and 
therefore it is meant of congregational assemblies ; for to them pastors are 
fixedly and properly given to feed them with knowledge and understanding. 
And if that every congregation enjoyeth a greater privilege than the ark of 
the Lord, in having such pastors, then surely it should also.be governed by 
them, as the synagogues also were by their rulers, who were called rulers 
of the synagogue, not of the synagogues ; for each synagogue had more 
rulers than one for the government of them, as they were a synagogue, 
Mark v. 22. 

Arg. V. If the seat of worship and government be commensurable, and of 
equal extent, then a single congregation, as it is the seat of worship, so of 
government. Now for worship, none else do meet but congregations ; and 
if the temple, altar, and worshippers, be measured by the same line, Kev. xi., 
the power that is in the temple is likewise so measured. If altar and judi- 
cature be of like extent also (as they are, since the end of discipline is to 
keep worship pure), then where the constant worship is, there should be 
constant discipline, especially if excommunication be a part of worship, as 
was said afore, as well as admonitions are. It cannot be otherwise, but that 
the proceedings of the whole discipline, admonitions and all, should be before 
the whole church, which is as well to be edified by it as by preaching ; and, 
therefore, particular congregations are to be the seat of it. Thus we shewed 
before, that the main end of a church was worship, and that discipline was 
the appendix thereunto, to keep the worship pure ; and that so Christ, under 
the gospel, had made the bounds of a church to be measured by that of wor- 


ship : Rev. xi. 1, ' Measure the temple and the altar, and the worshippers ;' 
and so all that belongs unto it. And this worship and government, for the state 
of it, are of equal extent, commensurable one to the other, which is made 
out by this ; that all sorts of churches that ever were, had worship and go- 
vernment of equal extent. Before the law, when there was a church in the 
house, and it went in a family -way, as the worship was in the family, so the 
disciple* was in that family ; and excommunication was a casting out of that 
family ; so in Adam's famil}^ it is said of Cain, that he fled from the pre- 
sence of the Lord, that is, from his father's house. Wheuas God did make 
a nation a church, the church of the Jews (as it is called. Acts vii.) in the 
wilderness, they did set all their tents about the tabernacle, and so, as one 
church, they saw the sacrifices. And when they were at Jerusalem, they 
had answerably a national worship, they had ordinances, as they were a 
national church ; therefore the Sanhedrim was to sit in the place that God 
should choose, to be there for government, as well as he appointed the sacri- 
fices to be there. And for that moral worship in the synagogues, so far 
forth as they were the seat of worship, prayer, and reading the word, &c., 
so they had also casting out of the synagogues. And although the Sanhe- 
drim might make laws for what sins to do it, yet the exercise of it was by 
the proper rulers, who are called therefore rulers of the synagogue. It 
is therefore Bains his argument against diocesan churches, f that there 
could be no such churches, because there was no public ordinances of wor- 
ship, as was in the national churches of the Jews, unto which the males 
came. And yet the episcopal government kept up this principle, for as they 
had a diocesan government, so they had a cathedral worship in the same 
place, as in a mother church, like that representative worship of sacrifices in 
Jerusalem ; and they had set meetings at them, to which all came up ; and 
therefore their principle in this w^as better than this of the presbyteries, 
for they had a worship and a government that was commensurable. 

Ohj. 1. The performing of acts of worship bj^ a minister belongs to the 
power of order, but the power of jurisdiction is a further thing. A minister 
may administer the sacrament, and perform a work of order alone, but he 
cannot govern alone, but he must be joined with others ; and therefore wor- 
ship and government are not commensurable. 

jlns. The question is not of the power, but of the extent of the state both 
of the worship and government. He that is a minister, and can alone per- 
form an act of public worship, yet he must do it in public congregation ; and 
so, although it be done alone by his person, yet not beyond the extent of a " 
congregation, but still according to the limits and bounds of it. Now 
the seat of government, and the extent thereof, is commensurable to the 
seat of worship ; so as, although he cannot perform an act of government 
alone in the congregation, but with others, yet still those others are but to 
be those who belong to that congregation whereto he is a minister or an 
elder for performing acts of worship. 

Obj. 2. The apostles had a latitude of power over all sort of churches, 
and therefore the extent of worship, and the power of government, are not 

A71S. Although the apostles had, in their persons, power of government 
over all churches, yet still they exercised that power (for acts of censure), 
but when they were in any of these congregations, not in a consistory out 
of those churches, but as personally present in the churches. And there- 
fore the apostle saith, ' When I come,' I will do so and so ; and ' shall I 
come with a rod ?' 1 Cor. iv. 19-21. And when they came to any particu- 
* Qu. ' discipline' ? — Ed. t Bains' Diocesan Trial, p. 69. 

Chap. II.] the churches of christ. 141 

lar church, it was an apostolic privilege proper to them, which is not com- 
municable to other elders ; the}^ were, eviU^-z^salS-orBPoi, ' fellow elders' (as 
Peter's phrase is, 1 Peter v.), in every one of those churches ; and did for 
that time concur in the government of that church, though with the interest 
of an apostle. So as still, de facto, the exercise of all their government was 
in a congregation ; and as they administered not the sacrament of the Lord's 
supper alone, or out of churches, so nor did they excommunicate, but as 
joined with a particular church ; nor did they choose officers or elders, 
but as present with churches, whom these were to be officers to. They 
might give doctrinal directions to churches concerning government, in which 
they were infallibly guided by the Holy Ghost, but acts of government they 
performed not but in the churches themselves, and as concreted and becom- 
ing one with that particular church ; and therefore the churches remained 
as distinct churches, notwithstanding they were under apostolical govern- 
ment, and many churches are nowhere called one church, because under an 

An/. VI. That a single congregation, with its elders, is an entire seat of 
government, is proved from the nature of excommunication itself. 

1. Excommunication relateth to communion, and communion with churches 
is either fixed, and in a constant way, or occasional. To throw a man out 
of occasional communion, is not excommunication, it is but a secondary act, 
that supposeth first to throw him out of a fixed communion. It is but non- 
communion, or denial of communion, and keeping of him out of it, as all 
other remote churches may do. And the execution of the act is from the 
power of Christ ; and that promise which he hath made, ' I will be in the 
midst among you, when thus gathered together,' Mat. xviii. 20, whereas the 
way of presbytery classical excommunication is as if the congregation w'as 
gathered in the name of the presbyters, and with their power, and that they 
could promise to be in the midst among them. Excommunication there- 
fore, formally and properly, is a casting him out of a fixed communion ; 
therefore that church, which actually doth hold a fixed communion with him, 
hath that power, and to them properly must belong the casting of him out : 
' Do not ye judge them that are within ? saith the apostle, 1 Cor. v. 12. 
And so far as any were uithin to them, so far they had power over them. 
Now to that particular congregation, whereof a man is a member, a man is 
so within, in respect of a fixed communion, as to no church else in the world ; 
there is therefore a power of throwing of him out, belonging to them, w^hich 
belongs to no church, nor unto all the churches in the world. Other 
churches can but throw him out of an occasional communion as he shall 
come to them, and therefore, answerably, their throwing of him out must be 
but occasionally, as he shall at any time offer to come to them ; hence, 
therefore, the formal act of excommunication must needs be proper unto 
them whom he holdeth a fixed communion with. Add to this that other 
churches can throw him out but of that communion which he holds with 
them, and the communion ordinarily he holds with them, is but as being a 
member of a church associated with them, supposing such an association, 
and as far as their interest goes, so far their power may go, they may throw 
him out of their association, but no further. But excommunication is a 
throwing of a man out of a fixed communion of all ordinances for worship ; 
now such a communion he holds not with other churches. They may indeed 
throw him out of their own icithin, which is, for the fixed part of it, but a 
matter of association for government ; but the congregations within, are in 
respect of ordinary communion in worship. Now, answerable unto their 
interest is their power, and therefore excommunication is to take him from 


the midst of them (' from among you,' 1 Cor. v. 13) with whom he did use to 
worship. The very import of the word excommunication is ex communi cietu ; the 
formal and direct act therefore of excommunication is to throw him out of 
that fixed communion which he had. It is a casting out of all other churches 
consequently, yea, out of the visible catholic church consequent^, but formally 
it is only out of that particular church whereof he is a member. Other 
churches, by virtue of their communion together, may ratify it by approving 
it, but that church, which the act properly concerns in the formality of it, 
is a particular church whereof he is a member, and therefore, answerably, 
the formal power must lie there. And although this government of Christ 
hath been never so much corrupted by a power set over congregations, yet 
still the act of excommunication, or at least the execution, hath been per- 
formed in the particular churches whereof a man is a member. 

2. Where, and by whom that act is done that excommunicateth a man, 
there the power and the main of the power must lie, for the substance of the 
act, and there alone. But in particular congregations, and by the elders of 
the people thereof, that act alone is done by which a man actually is cut off 
from communion with all other churches, and whereby he is excommuni- 
cated ; therefore that particular congregation is the only, or at least the 
main substantial subject of that power whereby a man is excommunicated. 
We have an instance in the church of Corinth, when the apostle directs them 
to deliver that man unto Satan when they were met together. Whether the 
man was excommunicated or no, it matters not ; however, the direction was 
given, and the direction falls upon the very act itself, when and where it was 
actually to be executed and done, and in them it puts the power : ' When 
ye are "met together in the name, and with the power of the Lord Jesus, de- 
liver such a man to Satan,' 1 Cor. v. 4, 5. There is the act, and there is 
the power, all met together, and he speaks of the ultimate act of excommu- 
nication : and where, and in what meeting that is to be done amongst them, 
there the power resideth. 

1. In all spiritual ordinances, the power is inseparable from the act ; and 
therefore to make the power whereby a man is excommunicated to lie in one 
assembly, and the act of excommunication to be performed in another, is to 
divide what Christ hath put together. He that baptizeth hath the power 
of baptizing, and that preaeheth of preaching, and so those that actually ex- 
communicate of excommunication ; and the act is more than the sentence. 
If, therefore, they have the greater committed to them, they must needs have 
the less. And, 

2. Whom Jesus Christ betrusteth with the act, he must betrust them the 
power, because his power, whereof theirs is but the execution, doth accom- 
pany their act ; and therefore Paul saith, ' when you are met with the power 
of the Lord Jesns, give such an one to Satan.' It is not as in civil cases ; 
there the power lies in the sentence, but here in the execution. And indeed, 
the ultimate sentence lies in the execution, and is all one with it, when in 
the presence of all the church it is said. Wo deliver this man to Satan. And, 

3. In Scripture the power is expressed by the act. Paul saith, * Wliom 
I did deliver unto Satan ;' and so ordhiation is called the laying on of the 
hands of the presbytery. The power of the presbytery is expressly their act; 
and, therefore, where the act lies, the power must lie. 

Now, we ask this question. Whether a man be actually excommunicated 
and delivered up unto Satan until he is so delivered up at a meeting of that 
particular church w^hereof he is a member, elders and people being present ? 
We are not now inquiring what proceedings are to go before preparatory here- 

Chap. II.J the churches of christ. 143 

unto ; but this is that we contend for, that where the act is done which 
ultimately excommunicates him, there the substance of the power lies. 

Whereas it may be answered, that the execution is in the congregation, 
but the sentence is in the presbytery ; as in civil courts it is, where the man 
is sentenced by the judges, but actually executed by the sherifls. We reply, 

1. That instances of civil proceedings will not hold here. For the sen- 
tence by the judge is that authoritative act, as by him that hath the power 
in law to cut the man off; but to execute the man, to put him to death, that 
is an act of nature which any man can do, though he that doth it is to do 
it lawfully, by virtue of the sentence ; but the act, whereby the man is in law 
killed, is the sentence, and therefore he is from that time civiUtcr mortiim, 
dead in law. But so it is not in this spiritual act of binding of sin, and of 
delivering unto Satan; there must be a power and an authority that is in the 
persons, that doth accompany them, and that as met together. And the 
execution of the act is from the power of Christ, and that promise which he 
hath made : ' I will be in the midst among v'ou, when thus gathered together,' 
Mat. xviii. 20. Whereas the way of presbyterial classical excommunication, 
is as if the congregation was gathered in the name of the presbyters, and 
with their power, and that they could promise to be in the midst amouw 
them ; and however there may be many preparatory acts unto it, yet the thing 
is not done till it be done by them that have the power; and, therefore, if the 
classical presbytery will challenge it, they must all be present, but if the 
congregation must do it, it is an evident argument that the power lies there. 

2. If the classical presbytery had the power hereof, then when they do 
sentence him to be excommunicated, they ought actually to excommunicate 
him, and complete it ; for to say that the power should be in them and not 
the act, whenas those that do the act are to meet and gather together in the 
power of the Lord Jesus, is very inconsistent. If they do not actually ex- 
communicate, what they do must be only a doctrinal direction, that the man 
deserveth to be excommunicated, such as the apostle put forth in case of ne- 
glect, when he gave his judgment: ' I have judged already,' saith he, 1 Cor. v. 
' Let such a one be dehvered unto Satan,' &c. But he acknowledgeth the power 
to be in them, for saith he, ' Do not ye judge them that are within ?' ' And 
therefore he saith not, /hath delivered him, but that he he delivered. And it is 
in this as in case, suppose of baptism, that a minister had neglected his duty to 
baptize one, and the apostle had sent to him to baptize him, and given his sen- 
tence such a one should be baptized, and should further press it, Do not you bap- 
tize such and such a one? do not you use to do it? so he speaks here, 'Do not 
ye judge them that are within ?' Do you not use to do it ? Now, as in this 
case, the question will be, whether the power of baptizing lay in the apostle 
or in the minister that upon this doth baptize ? Certainly in the minister, and 
he doth that by an immediate commission from Christ ;' for he that doth the 
substance of the act, in him the power lies, though he may be directed in a 
case of neglect by an apostle when alive. And so now, though a particular 
congregation in case of a neglect may be called upon and urged by other 
churches, yet still, in the one case as in the other, in them the power lies by 
whom the substance of the act is done. Neither yet do we hereby intend to 
give that power to a classical presbytery that the apostle had over Corinth, 
but only we allege it thus far, that though the apostle had power to command 
now when absent, and if he had been present, liad power to have concurred 
with them in the very act, that yet still the power lay in them without the 
apostle to have proceeded, by whom the act was to be done, according to the 
apostle's direction. 

3. According to the presbyterial practice, it is evident that the power is 


not in them, but in the congregation ; for after that they have sentenced a man 
to be excommunicated, and it is to be supposed that his sin is ripe for ex- 
communication, and that he is obstinate enough to be now excommunicated, 
then it should be presently acted and done, if the power were in them. But 
they stay the execution of it in the particular congregation for three days. 
They give him three admonitions more, and the people are to pray for him ; 
and so they do manifestly de facto hereby put the ultimate judgment of his 
impenitence into the congregation, and the ultimate act of execution also. 
For if the man did repent, they were not to excommunicate him ; and be- 
cause they judge him to continue impenitent, they do excommunicate him, 
according to the presbyterial practices. 

If it be answered, as it is by some, that the sentence by virtue of which he 
standeth excommunicated is that of the classical presbytery, and that the 
elders of the congregations are but the pnvcones, they do not exercise the 
substance of the act, only declare and publish it, then we reply : 

1. That here is more than a promulgation, not only because it is not pre- 
sently done, but because other means of admonitions, as ordinances of Christ, 
are applied to him to bring him to repentance ; and if so, it is apparent that 
when the classical presbytery intended him to excommunication, that he was 
then not fit for excommunication ; for why should these authoritative admoni- 
tions of his own elders come afterwards ? They may as well continue their 
admonitions publicly after his excommunication. Now, if his sin were not 
fit for excommunication, so as they might take it upon their consciences, he 
ought not now to be excommunicated ; then by virtue of their sentence he is 
not excommunicated when he is excommunicated, for they sentenced him when 
his sin was not ripe for it. So that according to their own practices, they 
make the presbytery's act to be but a doctrinal discernment, that in such a 
case, if he continues thus and thus obstinate, he is to be excommunicated. 

2. That which the elders in the congregation do is more than to be pra- 
cones of the sentence of the presbytery, and their delivering of him to Satan 
actually is more than a publishing, not only because they do authoritatively 
as elders admonish him after the presbytery's sentence (and if they do autho- 
ritatively admonish him, certainly they do authoritatively also excommunicate 
him after their admonitions if he continues impenitent), but also because 
when it is done they call upon the name of the Lord Jesus, and they do it 
in the name, and with the pow-er, of the Lord Jesus. If it were a mere pro- 
mulgation, there needed no invocation as an act of theirs. 

3. Again, if the form of the sentence whereby the elders of the congre- 
gation do excommunicate him be considered, do not they say. We, in the 
name of the Lord Jesus, and with his power, deliver thee to Satan to excom- 
municate thee ; yea, v»'ere not that congregation in Corinth to do so, which 
the man belonged unto ? Whereas if the classical presbytery had the power, 
and these were only the publishers, then the classical presbytery were only 
to use those words because the power was in them, and the ministers were 
only to declare that such an one was excommunicated by them in the name 
of the Lord Jesus. And if so, then all the eldership of a congregation are to 
the classis, but even as curates are to the bishops ; and indeed the bishops' 
principles are more consonant to themselves than this, for they say that the 
act of excommunication is done and absolved, and perfected in their courts ; 
and that the curate doth only promulge it (as their manner is), but that the 
man is indeed excommunicated by the bishop. But here there is a pretence 
of leaving the substance of the act to be formally done and executed by the 
elders of the congregation, and yet a denial that a power to do it lies in 

Chap. III.] the churches of christ. ' 145 

them, and the power to do it assumed to be in them, who yet profess they 
do not actually excommunicate. 

4. If they were only 2^ rcccones, then any man may do it, as well as the elders 
of his own church. 

If it be objected that in a congregation itself, when it is done, it is done by 
one man that pronounceth it, the pastor of the place, or the like. 

The answer is, 1. That as in praj-er, when the pastor is the mouth of all 
the people unto God, he is but the mouth of those people that are present, 
and do join with him ; and it is their act, and not the act of men absent; so it 
is here : in this act he is the mouth of the elders, and the whole congregation 
as present, as of God to throw this man out. But to make the elders of the 
congregation, and the whole congregation, to be but the publishers of what the 
presbytery hath done when they were absent, this is indeed to make them 
mere publishers, which any man may do ; yea, they themselves may do it by 
fixing it upon the church door. 


The seventh argumeHt, to prove that a single congregation is the entire seat of 
church power, because thus there appears a harmony in all the ecclesiastical 

Arg. As we proved that the constitution falls upon particular churches, by 
shewing how naturally all things fall out in that way, and what distortions 
are in the other, so for the confirmation of the complete power of particular 
churches for matter of government, we shall now proceed in the like way of 
argument. For the upholding of the subordinations of congregational and 
classical assemblies, and of many congregations being under one common pres- 
bytery, made up of elders fixed to several congregations, the presbyterial divines 
are forced to invent multitude of distinctions and divisions, thereby to uphold 
their principles. They are forced to make one church for worship and another 
church merely for discipline ; a church real, which is of the saints, the body 
of the faithful, that are a church to Christ, and a church representative, in 
their elders meeting in a classical assembly ; a church incomplete and imper- 
fect (such they make congregations) ; a church perfect and complete for 
government (such they make a classical presbytery) ; yea, indeed, as was 
observed before, they must make three sorts of churches to make up one : 
1, a church of the faithful (for so the brethren are called in distinction from 
the elders) ; 2, the eldership of each congregation, a representative church 
thereof; and 3, a church classical, the elders of all those congregations as- 
sembled in one. They must also be put upon finding out a double presby- 
tery for ordering of government, one congregational, the other classical, when 
yet they are not able to give one note or character of such distinction in the 
Scriptures. Yea, fm-ther, to answer our arguments, they have been fain to 
say that the elders of particular congregations have the relation of elders in 
sensu diviso to each congregation, but the relation only of an eldership in sensu 
conjuncto, as met in a classical presbytery, to all and each of these congre- 
gations. And then also they must find out distinctions of the difterence of 
duties, what the elders owe to a particular church, and what to all the con- 
gregations in common. They must also make the same persons to be preach- 
ing elders in the exercise of their office to their particular congregations, and 
ruling elders also in the exercise of their oflice to all the rest, and yet are not 



able to make any footsteps of any such distinction, or of any such boundary 
of duties. And as the reformed churches would not have made that distinc- 
tion of those several sorts of elders under the New Testament, had tlicy not 
had distinct and peculiar characters of some that ruled, of others that espe- 
cially laboured in the word and doctrine, — Rom. xii. 8, ' He that ruleth, let 
him wait on ruling ; he that exhorteth, on exhortation ; he that teacheth, on 
teaching,' — and unless they had found these footsteps of distinction bounding 
their several offices, they would never have invented these several sorts 
without them ; so if thei'e cannot be found like warrant for all the presby- 
terian distinctions, can they be able to say that Jesus Christ hath made these 
several sorts of churches, and these various reflections of elders and their 
duties, &c. ? And thus, whilst to them there are many bodies and many 
churches, and lords many and presbyteries many, our way is single, natural, 
uniform, and to us there is but one church, one presbytery, having mutual 
relation one unto another ; one church for the seat of worship, the same 
church for the seat of discipline, and hereby all these groundless distinctions 
are in a few words taken away. 

Now, as in the point of institution of congregational churches, this uni- 
formity is a confirmation to us, and the contrary is an evidence of the false- 
ness of the constitution of the other ; so when the point of power cometh 
to be disputed, what shall belong to each congregation, the observation of 
the like uniformity in ours, and distortion in theirs, confirmeth us that the 
power is completely and entirely in each congregation, having a particular 
eldership of itself. As before they are put to distinguish, so now in this to 
part and divide the power between the congregations and these classical 
presbyteries, and that for ordinary government. Their being out of the 
right way produceth manifold distortions ; their administrations of the dis- 
ciphne, differing from the rules and practices held forth by Christ, and his 
apostles in their epistles, unto which the placing the power wholly and 
entirely, and completely, in a particular congregation, falleth uniform and 

Presbyterial divines, finding that particular congregations were churches, 
and that as such they are intended in Mat. xviii., ' Tell the church,' for 
shame they could not take all power from them, but they must allot them 
some, because they were a church. And yet because they could not uphold 
the constant and ordinary intermeddling (and that not by way of appeal) of 
a classical presbytery, which did challenge its primary cognisance, and right 
in excommunication, as well as the congregations, however, therefore, they 
divided the power, and they put part of the power in one, and part in the 
other. They put the sentence of excommunication in a classical church, 
and the execution of it in the congregational ; and so, indeed, they do make 
two sort of governments ordinary, for one and the same suit or cause or mat- 
ter, and person to be proceeded against. The particular eldership of the 
congregation proceedeth so far as to admonish, and to suspend from the 
sacrament ; and then when the man is obstinate, the classical congregation 
saith, Bring him to us ere you presume to excommunicate him, that we may 
admonish him again, and so he may bo found further obstinate ; and then, 
for the execution, carry him down again to the congregation, and let him be 
admonished before all by the elders thereof, and then again, if obstinate, 
excommunicate him. Surely, if to complete excommunication, there had 
been such divided proceedings in Mat. xviii., Jesus Christ would have said, 
Go tell the chiirchc!^, and not the church ; for it cannot be denied but that these 
are distinct churches, the congregational and presbyterial. Whereas, to us, 
as there is but one congregation and presbytery, so but one complete and 

Chap. III.j the churches of christ. 'liT 

entire government, whereof the congregation is the seat. And however the 
knowledge of the matter may be first given to the elders, and by way of pre- 
paratory cognisance they may consider of it (to cut oiF accusations imperti- 
nent, and apparently defective), yet therein they proceed not- by authority; 
bat all that they do in an authoritative way, is done before the whole con- 
gregation, to the edification of all ; and so there is but one sort of public 
proceeding, whereas our presbyterian brethren have many. 

Now, to demonstrate the distortions of administrations in their way, and 
the nullity of founding any such divisions and parting of government and 
proceedings, we present these considerations. 

1. According to their own principles and practices, this division of power, 
and proceeding, to complete an act of government and excommunication, is 
not paralleled with, or uniform to, the power and the proceedings, in those 
other subordinances of churches or assemblies which they would have erected 
for government. It is known that they make five several subordinations : 
1, ecumenical ; 2, national ; 3, provincial ; 4, classical ; 5, congregational. 
And all these are built upon this one ground (the same that a congregation 
puts in for), that they are all churches, only the greater still having power 
over the lesser, as is affirmed ; they are cast into these subordinations. Now, 
then, let but the same be granted to congregations in this its lowered condi- 
tion ; let it but have the same proportion of subordination to itself, in 
comparison of classical, that the rest have one to another ; let all these 
contignations, that consist of lower and upper rooms, be but uniform in this 
model ; and then, until a congregation doth miscarry in its excommunication, 
it must needs have all the power within itself. For classical and provincial, 
which are the two next subordinations, each to other, provincial and national, 
do not divide a power of proceeding, to complete one act of government be- 
tween them (so as the classical should have one part, and the provincial 
another ; or the provincial one part, and the national another ; and so as 
after the lower hath performed his part, it should be brought to a higher, to 
complete the sentence) ; but each of them have an entire and complete power 
to perfect what they take in hand to excommunication ; and matters are car- 
ried from one to another, but only by way of appeal, and that too after they 
have completed the sentence and execution, having full power to excom- 
municate within themselves. Why, then, should the congregational, in its 
conjunction and subordination to and with a classical presbytery, be more 
injured than all the rest ? Why should the classical alone put in to divide 
the lands with them, and go half, and the greater half; and not suffer the 
congregational to perfect and complete the sentence of excommunication, as 
well as any of the other, and so all to be brought (if at all) only by way of 
fippeal to them ? Whereas now all is brought to the classical presbytery, 
from the congregational, in a way of imperfection and deficiency of power to 
complete the sentence. And this is the greater injury, inasmuch that one of 
the great arguments, that (until of late, and of late also) hath been pleaded 
for the power of classical presbyteries, and so of synods, is but from the ana- 
logy of the congregation's right, that what power they have over a brother, a 
classis should have over a congregation (as in our kingdom, the plea of inhe- 
ritance of the eldest son of a yeoman is the same with that of nobles and 
gentry ; yea, and in the throne itself). But why alone should the poor con- 
gregations be made copyholders, when all the rest are free and entire in their 
own acts of judicature. 

2. Our presbyterian brethren, by this, makes two courts of judicature for 
one and the same cause, which is not ordinarily found amongst men. It is 
true, indeed, in human courts, the lower have only lesser matters or faults 


committed to them, debts of such a value ; and highei' courts have those of 
an higher nature, or a greater value. But look what matters are committed 
to them, they are able to pass a final and complete sentence upon them, 
and have power to execute it, if an appeal be not made ; and if once a suit 
be put in, they have power to end it, else it is no court. But here now the 
congregational elders are allowed to intermeddle, and have authority in all 
causes, even those that are the greatest, and the most heinous sins, that de- 
serve excommunication, without any controversy and difficulty ; but then they 
are allowed to proceed but so far in it, and then to bring it to the classical 
assembly for sentence, where all must be heard over again, ere they can 
proceed to a sentence ; and then it is brought to the people, and there it is 
acted over again. And thus, as they make two sorts of churches, one for dis- 
cipline and another for government, and part the seat of government and 
discipline, so, for to complete an act of one and the same discipline, they 
make two several courts ; and that not by parting them, by distribution of 
causes of less and of greater moment only, but of acts of judicature. And 
whereas the classis pretends that it is the perfect and complete church, and 
the congregational imperfect, according to these practices it makes nothing 
more perfect than the congregational doth, as the law did not ; but when 
the case is brought to this same perfect church, yet it is forced to send the 
party down again to the congregational (which is the imperfect church), there 
to have the sentence completed. 

3. Whereas the apostles, in their rules for public admonitions, do make them 
to be two or three ; Titus iii. 10, * An heretic, after one or two admonitions, re- 
ject ' as obstinate. This way of proceeding makes three sort of public admoni- 
tions, to the number of six or seven. It makes three obstinacies, and three 
public sentences against a man that is excommunicated. First, he is admo- 
nished by a particular eldership (and we would know whether those be not 
public admonitions, yea or no, such as the apostle intendeth ; which is done 
by a public court, to which we presume they will say, that all the people may 
come, and in that respect it is to be accounted public ; or if not, yet that 
which is done by public persons, in a public judicature, is public admo- 
nition). Then, before they bring him to the classis, they must judge and 
censure him as obstinate, and that by a major vote, or he is not further to 
be brought (and we believe they will not censure him to be obstinate, unless 
he hath had one or two admonitions, and that by them) ; there is the first 
obstinacy. Then he is brought before the classical presbytery, who are to 
sentence him to be excommunicated (which we believe they will not do, un- 
less they also have, by admonitions, tried whether he hath been obstinate 
and impenitent, or no, upon those means which they are to use also, which 
is admonition) ; then he is brought before the congregation, there he is admo- 
nished again over and over. And is it for the good of the man, or is it for the 
satisfaction of the people, that they may see him obstinate, that he hath so 
good admonitions given him ? It cannot be merely for the satisfaction of 
his obstinacy, unless these admonitions can be supposed fit to work upon 
him. And then again, in the third place, he is to be judged obstinate after 
all those, or else he is not be excommunicated ; for if he repented after all 
these, they are to forbear. And we may add, that they must needs make a 
judging of as many repentances for his absolution; and the judging of his 
repentance must be a personal experience. Thus they multiply public pro- 
ceedings beyond the rule, whereas the proportion of Christ's patience seems 
to be set. 

4. How doth the dividing of things thus retard their proceedings in case 
of open and manifest scandals ! Kow must needs so many removes rather 

Chap. III.] the chueches of christ. 1-19 

harden the man than soften him, and instead of being^ a means of doing him 
good, be a vexation to him ! The pretence is, that hereby scandal is avoided 
if the party repents ; but the truth is, this enlargeth it, for either the scandal 
is a thing commonly kno-^^n in the congregation of the people, and then it is 
best to have it examined and cleared, and that before them presently, if it 
may be, either by his repentance afore them, that they may be witnesses 
thereof, or by his appearing innocent. If it be not known commonly and 
ordinarily abroad, it is more scandal to have it brought to strangers than to 
have it to be kept in his own church ; especially if that those of all the 
churches (who are interested in what the elders of the classical presbytery 
do) or any of them, may be present at pleasure. 

5. This presbyterian way of excommunication causeth ordinances to be 
misplaced, a less effectual after a more effectual, for those admonitions by 
his own elders before the congregation, being the last (according to order of 
nature in all remedies, according to Christ's order and degrees of proceed- 
ing in Mat. xviii., and according to God's order in his dealing with us), must 
be supposed more powerfully effectual than the first. And yet, if the power 
of sentencing the man be in the classsical presbytery, by virtue of which he 
is excommunicated, that must be supposed to be more effectual to bring him 
to repentance. And then, also, they let their classical admonitions be the 
last before excommunication, whereas if those before the congregation be 
acknowledged to be the more effectual) then where the more effectual admoni- 
tions, according to the ordinance of Christ, are supposed to lie in order to 
excommunication, there the power of excommunication must be supposed to 
lie also. 

6. A sixth distortion is, the deformity that is occasioned by putting an 
interest into those two sorts of churches, congregational and classical, in the 
point of excommunication, and dividing the power between them, one for the 
sentence, the other for the execution ; which will appear from that interest 
the people have, commensurable with the power that the elders are to have. 
We speak not now of joining in the sentence of excommunication, and of 
suffrage in the judgment, which will make a distinct argument, and is as 
strong as any of the rest, for power of excommunication to be proper and 
peculiar to a congregational church, and to prove that whatever other power 
classical presbyteries or synods pretend to, yet of all other they can claim 
no interest in this, because in them there is wanting one sort or kind of 
judges into whose hands God hath put the power. But suppose for the 
present that the whole people have but an interest of presence only at the 
admonitions that are to be given to the party afore excommunication, and at 
the act of excommunication itself, and give them but the lowest kind of con- 
sent that may be, a tacit consent, when the act is to be done ; yet allow 
them to be present, that thereby such a tacit consent may be held forth, and 
that they may be edified thereby, and that by mourning over the party his 
heart may be broken, and the more wrought upon, and their consciences may 
be satisfied in the justness of his excommunication, because that they are to 
join in the execution of it, and not so much as to eat with him afterwards. 
Now this interest, both presbyterian principles and preachers do give and 
allow unto the people of that particular church, whereto he doth belong. 
Yea, the papists themselves, who do hold that what is done in the con- 
gregation is but the promulgation of the excommunication already com- 
pleted in the bishop's consistory, yet give so much to the people, to that 
particular congregation whereof he is a member, that there should be a pro- 
mulgation. See the Rhemist's notes on 1 Cor. v. But presbyterian 
principles do give more, for they will not excommunicate if the people be 


against it ; yea, a whole national assembly, if they should determine it, would 
yet stop the execution if the people be against it. And therefore we argued 
afore from dividing discipline itself, and from the sentence of excommunica- 
tion being given ^to the presbyterian classes, and the execution unto the 
elders in the congregations, so we shall now argue from the deformity or 
distortion that is between the power given to the elders of those churches as 
one church, compared with the interest of the people of these chm-ches con- 
sidered as one church also. 

The interest that these classical elders come to have together with the 
elders of the congregation in the sentence, must be because that they are 
elders of all those congregations as of one church. For the strength of the 
argument that is alleged by the presbyterial divines for such a classical 
eldership, is, that many congregations make one church, whereof these elders 
in common are the representation ; and when they pronounce the sentence 
of excommunication, as elders of all those congregations, as one church, 
which they are an eldership unto, and by that one individual act of theirs, 
the man is authoritatively, and (so far as concerns the interest of elders) in 
a special manner, excommunicated out of all those congregations whereto 
they are an eldership, as well as out of his own (so far as the sentence goes) 
in such a special manner, as belongeth not to the next churches of the pres- 
byteries about, but by virtue of that fore-mentioned special relation. And 
this common eldership, in this sentence of theirs, must either have the 
relation of an eldership only to that particular church whereof this man is a 
member, so as that particular church and that common eldership make up 
the adequate relation of church and eldership, in and for this their act, or 
this eldership hath a relation to all the congregations. If the first be 
asserted, then there would be so many several relations of elderships and 
churches as there are churches upon occasion. For this common eldership, 
and this particular church, would be one church in this act for this time, and 
for this man's excommunication, and they would be another church at 
another time, in relation to another man's excommunication, in another 
particular church, which were absurd. And if they act in this act as a com- 
mon eldership to all the congregations as one church, then the sentence 
doth formally cast the man (so far as the sentence goes) out of all those 
churches as well as out of his own, and by one single entire individual act 
they do, as elders to this church, excommunicate him formally out of these 
churches, and but virtually only, and consequently, out of all other churches 
belonging to other presbyteries, as out of the universal itself. And so far 
as the power of the sentence reacheth in this common classical presbytery, 
he is afterward cast out executively in that particular church whereof he is 
more especially a member, by the same way of authority by which he is 
cast out of that one church whereto he doth belong. For these classical 
elders, being in their vote a church representative, they represent that 
church whereof the man is a member, as making one with all the rest of 
the churches. 

Now, then, make these three things proportionable : 1, make this interest 
of the people of all these churches, in their kind and relation, proportion- 
able to the interest of the elders to all these churches, in their kind and 
relation, these making one church, and they being but a common eldership, 
because these are one church ; and 2, make the interest of execution but 
answerable to the interest of sentence ; yea, 3, make the interest of the 
elders of that particular church whereof the person is a member, but answer- 
able to the interest of the people of that particular church whereof he is a 
member; and there will appear so great a distortion in the presbyterian 

Chap. III.] the churches of christ. 151 

government, thus sharing with the congregational, as will confute and over- 
throw it, and such an uniform in the congregational as will establish it. 

1. As for the first, there is all the reason in the world, that if these 
classical elders do lay the pretence to their common power and authority, 
because these churches are one church (and they are all one church in re- 
spect of the people as well as of all the elders), if this be the foundation of 
their plea, if it ariseth from this relation and respect, then look what 
interest the elders as elders can pretend to as one church, being one 
church representative, that individual and like interest must the people 
that are one church also lay claim to ; for there is a disproportion, a great 
and a manifest; disproportion, in giving that to the elders as elders of a 
church, that is not given to the people according to their proportion as a 
church. As then by these elders in common, the sentence of excommunica- 
tion goes forth, and the man is admonished by them as elders to bring him 
to repentance, and this is a common act of that whole eldership, making a 
church to all these churches, so the people must be present at these or 
some other admonitions of the person (and that both for their edification 
and for to work repentance in the party), that their tacit consent by presence 
might be given, and that they (seeing they are to execute it) might be satis- 
fied in his being cast out. If, indeed, the people had, as a church, no 
interest at all, then we acknowledge this argument would wholly fail, and 
these elders must have the whole full and entire power to give sentence, to 
execute, to admonish, and all were to be done there in the classical 
assembly, and nowhere else, but the whole business would be there com- 

(1.) If it be said, first, that the power of sentencing, and so of the act of 
excommunication, is performed in this common presbytery, and that what is 
done in the particular congregation whereunto he belongeth, is but the i ro- 
mulgation of it ; 

Besides what was said against that before, this further here may be added, 
that the interest which the people have is not merely to have it promulged 
before them, but that they may be edified, and that they knowing the party, 
he having lived amongst them, may mourn over him, yea, and bewail that 
such a scandal is fallen amongst them, whereby their ordinances and com- 
munion was in danger of being defiled, &c., and that the man hereby may 
be wrought upon ; yea, and it is necessary that the man be brought afore 
that church, where he is personally to be excommunicated. Now, all this 
is more still than bare promulgation of the sentence, for that might be done 
whether he were present or absent. Yet still, if there be an interest of pro- 
mulgation, let it be in all the churches, and all these churches as met in one 
common church, as the elders themselves are. Or if there be an interest 
of beuig edified by the admonitions, let it be in all the churches. But how 
can this be ? If in each congregation apart, how will your admonitions be 
more multiplied, that were multiplied enow afore ? And if in common, how 
can they meet, as presbyteries are cast ? Or when did they ever ? 

(2.) If, secondly, it be said, that it is promulged in that fixed church 
whereto he doth belong, in regard they have a special primary interest, be- 
cause usually he receiveth the sacrament there, we shall speak to that under 
the third particular, by and by. Only for the present consider, that if the 
interest of people and elders be made up proportionally, so as that church 
hath a primary interest in the person, because he hath a fixed communion 
in the sacrament with them, which, if he there partake, would be ordinarily 
defiled ; and other churches have but a secondary and remote interest, as 
genus hath to the Indivldiium, whereas this particular congregation is as the 


species to this individuum ; then let the elders of the classical presbyterj', to 
make things commensurable, acknowledge to have a remote and secondary 
interest also in their power to sentence him, and so let him come to them 
but at second hand. Or to make the commensurableness yet nearer, as in 
the matter of promulgation, the people of all the other churches have but a 
promulgation at second hand, by hearsay, and have no interest of presence 
at all; so answerably, let these elders of other churches have but the like 
share in that power, and the controversy is at an end ; for then, as it is not 
at all promulged in other churches, so the man would not be at all sentenced 
in the classical presbyteries. But if they challenge the primary interest, and 
that the power by which he is sentenced belongeth unto them, then let the 
people of all those churches be acknowledged to have the like primary in- 
terest of promulgation also, because that they are the greater number in com- 
parison of the church whereof he is a member, that being but a part, the other 
the whole, and therefore the congregation must have the lesser principal in- 
terest therein. 

2. And secondly, if that the act of excommunication, that is done in his 
particular church, is the formal act of excommvinication, by which actually 
he standeth excommunicated and delivered up to Satan, and not until then ; 
let but this act of execution be but commensurable to the sentence, and then, 
as the sentence was denounced by those classical elders, as making elders to 
all those congi-egations as one church, so also should the execution be ; 
and so the man must be actually excommunicated, over and over, as often 
as there are many particular churches to that presbytery. 

3. And thirdly, if the interest of the elders of that church make an elder- 
ship to that congregation, and be made commensurable with the interest of 
the congregation, the one as elders, the other as people, then, first, as this 
church hath the primary and the fixed interest, and such a peculiar interest, 
as all the churches about him have not, viz., an interest of communion suit- 
able to his casting out ; as he had a fixed communion with them, it is there- 
fore a fixed casting out, which is properly the act of excommunication ; and 
for these reasons their consent is so required as none of all the churches 
about, and their satisfaction to be sought, so as of none of all the churches 
about. Now, then, answerably, let the eldership of this particular church 
have but a like power of an eldership in their relation to them as a church, 
and then the people's interest being consent, where consent only is required, 
and the elders' interest being authority and the sentence, it will follow that, 
as the liberty of consenting is only in this congregation, so that the authority 
of sentencing should only be in these elders. And as other churches do but 
declare their ofience, if things have not been rightly administered, so the 
elders of other churches should do no more. At leastwise, as the consent 
of this people is actually required, which is not of all the other churches, 
and as without which, because of their interest, the classical congregation 
will forbear the execution of excommunication, yea, a whole assembly will; 
so, then, let the elders of this congregation, when they meet in this classical 
presbytery, have but the like privilege ; that if they do dissent, and think 
the man is not to be sentenced, or be excommunicated, the whole classical 
presbytery should not have power to proceed to sentence. For will not you 
give as much to the elders in government, as elders of that church, as to the 
people ? Will you prefer the interest of the people, which is otherwise laid 
so low, before the interest of the elders, that are over them in the Lord ? 
And if that the elders of that church should have this prerogative in the 
classical presbytery, the power thereof would soon come to nothing, without 
disputing against it. And in this case, these classical elders are not a pres- 

Chap. IV.] the churches of christ. 153 

bytery in common, but the pastor or eldership of the particular congregation 
would have some kind of episcopal power in this presbytery, having a nega- 
tive among them. Or suppose that the elders of his own congregation deny 
to promulge the sentence, and actually to excommunicate the man, will you 
not give them the ministerial interest of elders in the execution of the sen- 
tence of excommunication, as the elders in common had in the sentence ? 
Or will you send other elders to do it ? If so, then they, in that act, are an 
eldership to them only, 


The eighth, ninth, and tenth argument, to prove a congregational church to be 
the due subject of ecclesiastical power ; because admonitions are to be given, 
and excommunication to be administered, in the presence of such a church. 

Arg. 8. If, further, the presence of the people in the church is to be the 
seat of all authoritative admonitions that go before the sentence of excom- 
munication, made by the elders to them that are accused of public sin and 
scandal, for their edification, and if the act of excommunication is to be (as 
was granted) afore them, then the seat of the power of excommunication is 
not in classical elders by Christ's ordination, but in elders that are elders of 
a particular congregation. The reason of the consequence is clear, because 
the party is to be sentenced to be excommunicated upon his being judged 
obstinate, and he is to be judged obstinate after admonitions. That, there- 
fore, which is the seat or place in which these admonitions are to be given, 
is also to be the seat of the judgment of his obstinacy, and of the sentence 
thereupon. It were strange that the admonitions and other proceedings 
that make way should be public, and the judgment and sentence should be 
private. It is so in no public courts. And if the particular congregation 
be the seat of the antecedent acts, the admonitions, and of the consequent 
act, the act of excommunication itself, it were as strange that only that im- 
mediate* act of the sentence should be privately done by the classical elders, 
and not afore the people. Besides, that the classical elders are not to sen- 
tence, is evident by this, because those that have the power to admonish,, 
surely they must have the power to sentence. And therefore, if the classi- 
cal elders cannot nor do not come to perform the acts of admonition before 
the people, then they cannot be those that, according to the Scriptures, have 
interest in the sentence as elders. Neither can they be that church which 
our Saviour Christ speaks of, Mat. xviii., because that the admonitions of 
that church are expressed as liable to be neglected, and therefore they must 
be supposed present at the admonitions. And as the apostle too commends 
it as an ordinance, that the admonition should be before the people, 1 Tim. 
V. 20, so classical elders cannot be present. 

Now, to prove that particular congregations are the seat of public admoni- 
tions, there is that place in 1 Tim. v. 20, which gives evidence, ' Them that 
sin' (saith he) 'rebuke before all, that others also may fear.' It is evident 
here that he doth give a direction to Timothy concerning church proceedings 
and keeping of a spiritual court, and therefore in the verse before gives direc- 
tions about receiving an accusation, and how that accusation must be proved, 
by two or three witnesses ; and he speaks of all such public admonitions or 
rebukes as are to follow upon the receipt of the accusation, when it is made 
evident by witnesses, and of such admonitions hkewise as are in order to ex- 
communication, and for such sins as will deserve excommunication, if men be 
* Qu. 'intermediate'? — Ed. 


obstinate (for if for any other sins, then certainly for those), and it is of sins 
in case of pubUc scandal which are the subject of excommunication ; therefore 
he saith, ' Them that sin rebuke afore all,' then when a man's sin is public 
and comes to be taken notice of afore all. Now he speaks to Timothy, that 
was an evangelist, and under him to all church officers, to the end of the 
world, when evangelists (who were extraordinary ministers) should be removed ; 
and as other directions that are given to him do concern the eldership of 
congregations in after ages, so also this, to teach them how to behave them- 
selves in the house of God. Now with the same breath that he doth give 
them power and warrant to rebuke when accusations are brought orderly to 
them, he withal directs (and his directions fall chiefly thereon) where these 
rebukes should be, not privately, but afore all ; and what all ? Not afore all 
that are their elders only, for they are to rebuke them afore all, that all may 
fear. Surely therefore it is intended for the benefit, not only of the elders, but 
of all the people. 

If it be said that this place is to be understood but as that of the old law, 
when a malefactor was to be put to death, it was that all might hear and fear ; 
and so these admonitions may be given privately in the consistory, and yet 
all may hear of it and fear. The answer is, that there is this difference 
between executing of corporal punishment and giving of spiritual admonitions, 
that the terror of spiritual admonition doth not lie in the hearsay, but it 
works by the people's personal hearing of it, and it is ordained so to do. The 
power of that ordinance (as of preaching) lies in personal hearing, and as 
faith cometh by hearing, so this fear must come by hearing also ; otherwise 
it were all one as to say such a man preached a comfortable sermon that all 
might be comforted, or he preached the law that all might be terrified, and 
yet should mean that all those that were at the sermon should have comfort 
in it or be terrified by it. Therefore, as those that are wrought upon to fear 
must be wrought upon b}- the admonitions, so it must be by being personally 
present and hearing of them. 

If it be said that it is in a classical assembly done in a place so public, and 
in a court so open, where all may come if they please, we reply that the 
apostle doth not only say that it should be done in a place where all may 
come, but he lays it as a duty upon Timothy to do it in a place where all 
do come, for otherwise one of the great ends of admonition is lost ; he bids 
him rebuke them that sin afore all, ' that all may fear.' If, therefore, our 
presbyterian brethren will attain the end of their admonitions (that all may 
fear), it must be done where all do use to meet ; and if so, then either their 
classical elders must come and meet in the particular congregations, or the 
particular congregations must come to them, and so all the company of people 
of the classical church must meet, women as well as men ; for they are 
capable of that particular part of edification, of fearing, and why should they 
be excluded the benefit of it ? And whether the proceedings to excommuni- 
cation according to our own way, which is for the party to have his own 
elders, before his own people, judicially to examine the tact and to give public 
admonitions, edged with all sorts of Scripture, to bring him to repentance ; 
and if he remain obstinate in the view of all, then for him to be excom- 
municated, or if he repents, to have that repentance appear upon the place 
afore all (which all suit best, and fall in with the congregational way) whether 
that this doth not agree more with right reason, and all the ends that can be 
supposed of examination, admonitions, and excommunication, either to work 
upon the party, or to work upon others, or for the fairness and equity of the 
proceedings, rather than the way of the classical presbytery, let any rational 
man judge. 

Chap. IV. J the churches of cheist. 155 

For what hath been said of excommunication or admonition, and the ends 
of them, or any other end that the Scripture holds forth therein (that go 
before or accompany excommunication) they are better attained in this con- 
gregational government than in the other. 

As, 1, for the examination of the person, that the evidence of the fact, in a 
judiciary way, should be before his own people, and by his own elders, is 
every way most equal, because that they are to join in the casting of him out, 
and in the execution of the sentence afterwards, and are therefore to be satisfied 
of the justness of his being cast out ; and there is that proper communion 
they have held with, viz. a fixed communion, which no church else on earlh 
can pretend to. And if the people must be satisfied at any time, if after the 
sentence by hearsay, and by relation (as the presbyterians themselves acknow- 
ledge), it will much more satisfy them before, when they hear the person 
himself examined, and all that he can say. And if that be true of Cyprian, 
quad omnes tamjit, ah omnibus tractari debet, that which concerns all, the whole 
community, it should be handled and transacted by all ; and if that were not 
true, yet surely this, that what concerns all should be handled afore all. 

The like, 2, holds for those public admonitions that are to be given, wherein 
also the people have an interest, that they may be edified thereby, as well as 
by preaching ; for what is discipline or public admonitions but a public appli- 
cation of the truths of the word of God to the conscience of a scandalous 
sinner, to warn others and to bring him unto repentance ? So as indeed 
acts of discipline-admonitions are the most pastoral sermon, and so are a 
part of the worship of God, which therefore the people of his own church 
must have a peculiar interest in, as they have in other sermons. 

3. If it be looked at that the man is to be shamed as a means to bring him 
to repentance, as in 2 Thes. iii. 14 ; to have all these examinations and 
admonitions, and to have all transacted that concerns a scandalous sin before 
the whole church, tendeth more to this. Neither can he be thought obstinate 
until' such time as he hath this means (which we see God hath sanctified) in 
a spiritual way applied to him. In a word, for the whole we say, as Baines 
long since said (and it hath a reason in it, therefore we quote it), that when 
censure is the most sharp spiritual medicine, it were ill with our church if 
he (speaking of their pastor) who is resident always amongst them as the 
spiritual physician, should never have the power of administering it. That 
which he saith of the pastor, to whom he gives the chief stroke in it, we say 
of all the elders of a congregation that are continually resident with it. 

If it be said that, afore he is put to this public shame before the congre- 
gation, he shotild be authoritatively admonished by the eldership to see first 
how that woxild work, we reply, 

1. That either his sin is notoriously known to the whole congregation 
already, res farnosa, as was the case of the incestuous Corinthian ; and 
then it is fit it should be brought instantly to the congregation, that he may be 
shamed ; neither is it to any end that the elders should deal in the case 
privately with him ; but as the scandal is public, the admonition should be 
public also, even from the first. Or suppose his sin be more private, then if 
the private means which Christ hath appointed hath not been used by those 
that bring the accusation, as telling it first to himself and exhorting him to 
repentance ; and if that could not gain him, then taking two or three or more, 
who also have dealt with him, and yet could not gain him to repentance ; in 
this case also the elders are not to meddle in it before the church till such 
time as those means have been used, for no man's sin is to be brought to 
them till he hath passed through those ways and means which Christ hath 
appointed ; which being done, then indeed the elders may admonish him, 


having tlius the cognisance of it ; but yet therein they are not to deal as an 
eldership in a judiciary way, but as those two or three brethren who are 
to be called to admonish him should proceed ; though even such admoni- 
tions from elders would perhaps have more authority, in respect of their 
relation, than those of private brethren. But in case that a man hath passed 
through all these means, and still is obstinate and impenitent, and hath stood 
out Christ's proceedings, now it is the man's own fault that his sin should 
thus be brought to light, and now nothing will cure him but the shame of it 
by public admonitions before all. 

Ans. 2. If (for the tenderness of his shame) he is first to be dealt withal 
by the elders before he be brought to the congregation, yet not by the 
classical elders, who are strangers to him, who, if they keep an open court, 
as they ought to do (as all other courts are), whither any one may come, 
then if not the shame of his sin, yet the dishonour of it will be greater 
this way than the other, whilst it is kept within the compass of his own 
church, and of these who are his brethren, and have known his converse, 
and have known also his graces. And that shame he shall have thus before 
strangers will be a means to harden him, whereas the shame that he shall 
have before his own people will work more kindly, and be a means to melt him. 

A71S. 3. The presence of his own people in all these proceedings, when 
he is thus convicted of the sin, when he is thus admonished, and upon 
obstinacy cometh to be excommunicated, serveth to a further double end, 
both as it respects themselves (so as no church, nor no elders else whatso- 
ever) and as it respects the pei'son also, and his good. For it respects the 
congregation themselves, both by virtue of that special relation to, and com- 
munion they have with him as one body to Christ ; and therefore they are 
to sympathise with him, to be humbled together with him for his sin, to 
bemoan and bewail him and themselves, that such a punishment, even as to 
them, should befall them, by such a sin falling out amongst them. ' You 
are puffed up,' saith the apostle, 'you have not mourned,' 1 Cor. v. 2. 
That law is to take hold on them, in respect of this proper near relation 
which Paul giveth : 1 Cor. xii. 26, ' If one member suffer, all the members 
suffer with it; or if one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with 
it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular ; ' that is, 
the church of Corinth being a particular body, have a more special relation 
one unto another more than to any other churches. And this mourning, 
and the hke, is to shew themselves clear of that matter, which otherwise 
would be a sin of that body ; and as in all other relations, members of a 
nation mourn for the sins of a nation, members of a family for the sins of a 
family, so especially in this nearest special relation of all other, each member 
is to mourn and sorrow for the sins of a member as if it w^re the whole's ; 
because a dishonour is thereby reflected also upon the whole, and an auger 
of God expressed against the whole ; for even church sins make God to be 
angry with particular persons. As for that sin about the sacrament in the 
church of Corinth, 1 Cor. xi., particular persons were visited: 'for this 
cause some are weak and sick,' &c. ; ' therefore,' saith he, 'judge yourselves, 
that ye be not judged.' It is therefore necessary, when a man's sin is ripe 
for public admonitions, that his own people should know it ; and there- 
fore that all these admonitions should be afore his own, that the height and 
aggravation of the sin thus set open before his conscience, to make him 
repent, should be set open also before theirs, for all those ends a-fore men- 
tioned. And to think that the elders of a classical church should represen- 
tatively mourn for all the rest, or that, whereas the cause of mourning is 
nearness of relation, that they should mourn as his own would do, cannot 

Chap. V.] the chueches of cheist. 157 

be supposed. And then, 2, if it respect working upon the man, if that be 
the end of this bewailing and of this mourning, to break his heart, to have 
his own congregation thus mourning, who have thus known him, and with 
whom he hath communicated, and to see their hearts broken for his sin, 
when thcj have not sinned, only are of the same body with him, this must 
needs be an ordinance much more effectual to work upon him than if he 
were brought afore all the national councils in the world, who are taught* 
with his sin but remotely, as the body of a national church must needs be 
very remote to a provincial church, and this also remote in its proportion 
to a classical. 

Now we find that the proceedings thus to excommunication are expressed 
to us by the very phrase bewailing: 'I am afraid,' saith the apostle, ' that 
when I come, I shall bewail some of you ; ' that is, I shall be enforced, as to 
admonish you, so to proceed further. And so in 1 Cor. v. 2, ' You have 
not mourned, that he that hath done this deed may be taken from among 
you.' To bring him before national and classical assembles, and the like, 
may work in a civil way more upon him, but in a spiritual way this is a 
means much more suited. 

Lastly, for the act of excommunication itself, that then the people should 
be present, we need not contend for, because it is granted. And assuredly, 
if that they are to be present that they may mom-n and wail when any if, 
thus cast out, their presence is much more required afore, because their 
wailing and bemoaning of him then might have been a means to prevent 
what befalls him. 

Arg. 9. But if besides all these interests it be found that the people 
of his own congregation have a joint interest to judge, and that by way of 
suffrage, and concur in the sentence with the elders in the throwincr of him 
out, or have such an interest with judgment and cutting ofi' a member that a 
jury have, joined with the bench of justices and judges, and that they are to 
judge of the fact, and of his obstinacy, and the hke, why then it will clearly 
follow that the power of excommunication must be in every congregation of 
people and elders; and thus to have the man judged, both by the one and 
the other, is the fairest law in the world. And we account it even the glory 
of our nation, that no man's life is subjected to the judgment of all the 
judges of the kingdom, but that he must be tried by his peers, ^jer j)ares. 
That we shall speak unto when we come to that head, that the people are 
to have a concurring interest with the elders. 

Arg. 10. If no elders are to set up a consistory for ordinary government 
but in the presence and before the church, then the power of all acts of 
government must lie within the body of a congi'egational church, because 
there are no other ordinary constant church meetings of the body of the 
people, but only by congregations ; for all such meetings are to be of as 
many as can meet in one place ; and all are interested in it for the present, 
one as well as another. 


The eleventh and tivelfth arguments, proving single congregations enabled to 
exert all acts of church j)ower. — That such churches there ivere in the first 
ages of Christianity. — That the apostles planted such churches that had the 
entire power within themselves. 

Arg. 11. There were in the first ages of Christianity bishops in churches 
and villages. And in the sense of the ages in which this was, it was all one 
* Qu. ' touched ' '? — Ed. 


as to have an entire government in a church, in a village ; for the entire 
government was in the hands of their bishops in those times, such a govern- 
ment as is now claimed by the presbytery. Therefore, from the practice of 
the primitive times it is evident that one single congregation, with its elders, 
is a complete seat of government as well as worship. 

Arrf. 12. The churches, in the first planting of them by the apostles, were 
in all places congregational churches. Those in smaller cities may well be 
supposed to have been always such. Those in the great cities were at first 
such. Of Philippi, it is said that in the beginning of the gospel it was a 
church, and it was so called, Philip, i. 4, 15 ; and it was a church that had 
bishops and deacons, chap. i. 1, who communicated to Paul by way of giving 
and receiving. In a manner, all sides have acknowledged this, even the 
bishops themselves. Jerusalem itself at first was but one congregation, and 
other greater cities also were n o more ; for can we imagine that the apostles 
should stay forming up churches till such time as they should multiply to so 
many as to make many congregations under classical churches ? So this is 
not supposable, because that the apostles were to go over the world, and 
could not everywhere stay so long ; they therefore stayed till there were a 
suflicient number to make up a church, and elders over them. And to be 
sure, the first church of all had a sufficient eldership, for they had the 
eleven apostles. And for them all to be officers to so small a number at 
the first is infinitely less disproportionable to them than for our great Lord 
and Master to serve and minister (as himself was pleased at his last supper 
to term it) the sacrament of bread and wine unto eleven apostles, and then 
to preach a long sermon unto these eleven whom he had taken care of. 
And at the first, when they were so few, as they continued in prayer to- 
gether, Acts i., it is to be supposed they had the sacrament of the Lord's 
supper, and so were a church, seeing they had received it with our Lord and 
Saviour, with commission from him to do the like. And this congregational 
church at first having these apostles over them, who (as our brethren say) 
acted the part of ordinary elders, must needs be supposed to be as sufficient 
for a presbytery as afterwards their acts can be supposed to be when they 
multiphed to more congregations (as our brethren affirm). And if we could 
give no instance of any act of government they did, yet it is certain that the 
same power with which they did acts of government afterward as such a 
presbytery, they had then at first ; for they acted but out of that power 
afterward which they had afore. And so in all those other churches, when 
they were single congregations, having elders set over them, the like must 
be supposed. And when there was thus congTegational churches, having 
elders over them, they had the right, and they had the power, to exercise 
all acts of government within themselves, or else when the apostles left them, 
and commended them to the grace of God, having set elders over them, they 
had not been left to a sufficient means to take away offences, and to purge 
out scandals, and to keep the worship pure, and to preserve themselves for 

And if they had this right and power, they must have it by virtue of that 
institution. Mat. xviii. Here then, cle facto, congregational churches were 
invested with a complete power. And so according to that maxim, Primum 
in quolihet rjenere est viensura reliquonim, the first in every kind is the mea- 
sure of the rest, we have to plead, that the first churches in existence, with 
that power we contend for, were such congregational churches which we 


We further add, that suppose that these churches came to be multiplied, 
or to have neighbour churches near them, what became of that power and 

Chap. V.] the churches of christ, 159 

right, which as congregations haying elders in them, and as a church to 
Christ, they were invested with ? How should this power come to be taken 
away, or they come to lose it, and be transferred unto an associate presby- 
tery of many congregations ? If upon this association there had been a new 
power, yet the old former power must be supposed to stand still entire, or 
else they lose it (as the cities in Germany, before they were united into that 
imperial body, had entire privileges within themselves, and that they retain 
still notwithstanding their union, only their association was for appeals and 
cases of common concernment) ; and as the multiplication was accidental, so 
a new accidental power might come over them, which they had not afore, if 
they should miscarry in that they had afore ; therefore that power, which 
was first in them, is never to be taken from them. It is true indeed, before 
their multiplication, this must be said, they were independent churches, in 
that gross sense which is imposed upon us ; that is, they were accountable 
unto none. Why ? Because there were none near them to be accountable 
unto. But that was not a privilege essential, but accidental ; not positive, 
but because there was no other near existent. And yet not so neither ; for 
if there were any in the world, they should have appealed unto them. And 
suppose a congregational church, alone by itself, can be supposed to have an 
accidental independency private (which in this respect is a negative privilege 
rather than a positive), yet still that positive power, which they were entirely 
invested withal within themselves, for positive acts of government, that was 
not invested in them, because there were no other churches, but because they 
were a church of themselves. And this power, if once they had it, is not, 
by multiplication of churches, to be taken away from them. The multipli- 
cation is but accidental, but the form they were cast into at first is the 
essential form that constituted them a church and a politic body. 

2. When these churches were multiplied, and (as our brethren would have 
it) continued, many congregations, under one presbytery of the elders of each 
of these churches thus multiplied, either that first church and their elders 
(which still remained fixed elders unto them) have all the power and privi- 
lege they had afore, or not, in this new government to come upon their 
multiplication and association. If they have the same power and privilege, 
then this proposition standeth good ; only the question then will be, what 
power over them (their own remaining thus entire) in a way of dependency 
any other church can have, which we must afterwards speak to. If upon 
this association, this particular congregation have not the power it had afore 
entire within itself, then the form of the government first constituted is clean 
altered, and clearly a new form of government is set up ; and that both in 
respect of the right of the people, and the right of the elders in that congre- 
gation. If the people had any interest of presence or of suffrage (which we 
contend for) at the sentence of excommunication, and the examination of 
things, by virtue of this new association that interest is taken from them, 
and removed up into the classical meetings of the elders, and into a govern- 
ment that is merely aristocratical. And look as in a government consisting 
both of people and rulers, and the interest of both, or including in it privi- 
leges that the one hath as well as the other (though the one in a lower 
degree), if the one becomes merely aristocratical, we count that government 
changed, and it will be a new form of government, so it would be here. 
Nor, 2dly, is it true that because the government (as our brethren affirm) is 
in the rulers only, therefore it may be enlarged and dispersed to other rulers 
of other congi'egations taken in with them, and the people not wronged of 
their right. For, first, if the charter of a people, of a corporation or body, 
should be that they should be ruled by their own elders (whom themselves 


chose as a corporation) by their own mayor, recorder, and aldermen, yet it 
were a new form of government for them to come under two or three mayors, 
recorders, and aldermen of other incorporate towns, and they would account 
it so. And, 2, the rulers would think so too. As if there were a family, 
the master whereof had entire government within itself, and there were families 
increased, and they all joined in a combination to rule all those families in 
common, and that in such things wherein before he ruled alone ; surely 
this would be counted a new form of government. How else doth economics 
differ from politics ? Would not colleges think so, though associated into 
an university ? If the colleges should have those privileges of choosing 
master-fellows, scholars, of admitting, of expelling, invested into other hands, 
if all the jurisdiction which the}^ had when alone, or if any great part of it, 
should be exercised in common for them, when other colleges are built ; 
because they become an university, they would account this a disprivileging 
of them. So it would be here in this case of churches. 


Some exceptions made against the last arrjument, as not conclusive, removed, Jioxv 
vce are to consider the churches, at Jirst planted by the apostles, asj^atterns and 
examples to us. 

To this argument there are many exceptions, which I shall consider. 

1. It is excepted, that the first churches, though but single congregations, 
having elders in them, which did or might exercise all church acts, cannot 
yet be drawn into an ordinary pattern ; because the first must, out of a 
necessity, do that which afterwards, when multiplied, single congregations 
that can associate may not do. Even as though Cain at fii'st married his 
sister, yet that is no warrant for us now to do the like, when men and w'omen 
are multiplied ; so neither can the instance of the church of Jerusalem, or 
any other first churches, be the pattern to warrant single churches now mul- 
tiplied to do that which they then did. 

Ans. 1. The apostles did stay in places but till there were a sufficiency to 
set up a church ; but if that presbyterian government, over many congrega- 
tions, had been the rule of Christ, and that they must of necessity have 
been set up, they would have rather stayed, or sent an evangelist to convert 
so many as to make up a sufficient presbytery for a classical church. If 
Adam could, with his breath, have made men and women, though he had 
stayed a while, Cain should not have married his sister. And therefore, if 
that, by the ordination of Christ, a presbyterial church were the first church, 
God would have stayed, and the apostles would have stayed, as God stayed 
giving the ark, and the tabernacle, and the law of the government of a national 
church, till such time as the Jews became so many, as to rise to a nation. 

Ans. 2. It lies upon those that affirm it, to prove that the endowing single 
congregations at first with an entire power was an act of necessity, and not 
voluntary, and as it should stand in all ages. Had a presbyterian church 
government been according to Christ's institution, the apostles would have 
taught Christians to remove out of the places where they could not make 
up presbyterian churches, and to go into cities, where they might make 
them, that so churches might be set up in their fulness at first. 

Ans. 3. The power of a single congregation, to have acted as a presbytery 
at the first, was not grounded on a case of necessity (because there were no 
other churches existing to associate with, and so was accidental to them), 

Chap, "VI.] the churches of christ. 161 

but this one alone congregation, was essentially, and innately, and entirely 
complete in itself, and within itself, as much as when afterward there were 
many. To say the power of eleven apostles, as combined, was defective, 
because but over one congregation, and but out of an extraordinary necessity, 
would be the greatest derogation in the world. And if there could be a 
supposition, that there had been other churches existing, or coming to Jeru- 
salem, this presbytery of the first church had not been bound to associate, 
as not having sufficient power within itself. To affirm these things of this 
first presbytery of the eleven apostles (as our brethren suppose it, and it is 
the main foundation of their case) to have been defective, and their power 
(now because over one congregation) to have been founded on an extraordi- 
nary necessity only, as for Cain to marry his sister, in a way below the war- 
rant, as of the ordinary rule ; thus first to cast them (in this example) into 
the condition of ordinary presbyters, to make it an argument for the presby- 
tery, and then to cast tlieir power at first below the power of an ordinary 
classis, and to make it then to be dependent on a providential necessity ; 
how derogatory is it to that transcendent power of such officers ! So then, 
if they are to be looked upon at all as the pattern of an ordinary presbytery, 
then as such now, when over but one congregation, as much as if they had 
been over many. For to say they were but as extraordinary persons when 
over but one congregation, and afterwards an ordinary college of presbyters, 
when many, is too incoherent and inconsistent with itself to be affirmed. 
And then what is the reason that this first existence of an eldership over 
one congregation should not be as ordinary a pattern to warrant, as full and 
sufficient a presbytery in one congregation, as it is for the supposed presby- 
terial government over many ? So that if it were ordinary, it serves as 
much for us as them ; and indeed for us first, because this, as one congre- 
gation, existed first ; and they were as much an ordinary presbytery at first, 
as at last, and endowed with the same sufficiency of inherent power. And 
if it were extraordinary, the instance will not serve them at all, first nor 
last, for a ground of presbyterial government. And surely if this church at 
Jerusalem had so many teachers besides apostles, as is pretended, when 
these congregations came to be multiplied (as is supposed) and divided, here 
was (if ever) enough to have made several sufficient presbyteries to these 
several congregations ; and the association of many congregations into one 
can have place but in case of defect, not of sufficiency. 

2. It is excepted, that we are not to consider churches as they were when 
the apostles first began, but as they were when the apostles left them ; and 
that ordo intendentis is one thing, and ordo generantls is another. Thus 
nature first makes but a child, which afterward grows up to a man. 

Ans. 1. As to the first, we argue the example of those churches which 
the apostles left, and, when they left them, commended them to the grace 
of God, as in Acts xiv., when they had chosen them elders, as having suffi 
cient means to support themselves. And (as Bains* argues against bishops 
and their government over churches) those whom the apostles placed as 
chief, in the first constituting of churches, and left as their successors in 
their last farewell which they gave to the churches, they had not, nor were 
to have, any superior unto them in the churches, as is evident in the instance 
of Ephesus, Acts xx. 28, and 1 Peter v. 2. So say we, that those whom 
the apostles left, having placed elders over them, and left as their successors 
at their last farewell, commending them to the grace of God, and so con- 
stituted, without mentioning of association for government with other 
* Baius' Diocesan Trial, p. 65. 



churches, they, by apostolical warrant, were not to enter into such asso- 
ciations for matter of government and jurisdiction. 

A71S. 2, As to that other part of the exception, we reply, that certainly 
those churches that the apostles did thus leave, and the power in them, and 
the presbyteries thereof, to do all church acts as a presbytery now at first, 
were as perfect churches the first day (as Adam was a perfect man when 
first created) as afterwards they could be supposed to be. If nature at first 
do beget a perfect child, with all the parts, it may indeed grow in stature; 
but all the natural parts it hath when a man, it hath when a child ; and 
though it may grow in stature, it doth not grow in perfection, nor is defec- 
tive of any of its natural powers when a child, but all exercise their natural 
functions when a child, as truly as when a man. And beside, join a thou- 
sand children together, they will not make one man. 

3. It is excepted, that although no churches may give away their right, 
yet they may join with them that will corroborate their right ; so if the 
congregation that had a presbytery afore, be multiplied into another congre- 
gation, it retains the same presbytery, and is one church still. 

Ans. 1. Either it is at their liberty to retain their proper presbytery, 
proper to themselves, and the other congregation goes from them to have 
a new, or not. If it be at liberty, then Jesus Christ hath instituted two 
forms of government, made two several seats or subjects of entire church 
power, for men arbitrarily to cast themselves into, which they please. This 
is to make two ordinary patterns of two sorts of church government, one of 
a single congregation, the other of the presbyterial over many, and to war- 
rant the sufficiency and completeness of either, when either of them have a 
sufficient presbytery. But that Christ should leave the government of his 
church so indefinite cannot be imagined ; not only because it is impossible 
that one of them should not be better than the other, but also (as hath been 
said before) in respect to the congregations themselves, because the one 
makes a vast difference from the other in the point of fixedness and unfixed- 
ness of officers ; and further, because one would destro}'^ the other. For 
allow but this principle, that all congregations that may have a sufficient 
presbytery may retain the right and whole government within themselves, 
as the first subjects of it, as agreeing with the pattern, and what church will 
subject itself to the presbyterial government ? And that this is not indiffer- 
ent to all our judgments, the contentions on all hands do testify. If it be 
arbitrary, then it would have been unlawful for any congregation in the 
primitive times to have retained the right that was first settled upon them ; 
and to have in exercise all power within themselves as whole, as when 
churches did multiply. If it be given as a liberty by Christ, voluntary sub- 
jection is not to take it away, and that form of government, which it doth 
give up its right to, being a new change of government (as was said afore) 
there must be as much an institution for it as there was for that right it 
had afore. It is impossible there should be two rights to the same thing, 
whereof the one is incompatible with the other ; for if the congregation can 
claim it as its right, then the presbytery cannot ; for that both should exer- 
cise it, is impossible. There may be diflering interests of power in the 
same politic body, but that one and the same whole power should be in 
one, and also in a greater, and in another, cannot be imagined. 

Ans. 2. To the second part of the exception, viz., that it is a strengthen- 
ing of the power of congregations, and not a taking of it away, it being an 
intrinsecal government, we reply, 1, that of all other answers, we wonder 
at that ; for if a master of a family, that ruled as a master afore, should have 
his power, in governing of his family, committed into the hands of other 

Chap. VI.] the churches of christ. 1G3 

masters of families, together with himself, would he account this a strengthen- 
ing of his power, as he is a master of a family, or a losing of it ? Masters 
of colleges would judge it a taking away of their power, not a strengthening 
of it, for by this they lost it as masters. And, 2, if that all these do rule 
in common, and so the major vote of them in common carries it,, multitude 
of cases will fall out, whereto, though he gives a negative, that shall be car- 
ried by the major vote, so as he utterly loseth his power, it being thus 
swallowed up by the greater number, how is this a strengthening of it then ? 
And in this case, is it not an extrinsecal power to that congregation which 
overrules it, as well as in the case of bishops, whenas the votes of their own 
officers that are proper to them, and fixed to them, whom they have chosen 
to watch over them, shall not carry matters that belong unto them as afore 
they did. 3. The strengthening of churches' power lies in countenancing of 
what churches have done, after they have done it, out of an honour to them, 
and not Hghtly to hear appeals from them ; but it is not confirmed by tak- 
ing the power out of their hands, and doing their acts for them. Thus, 
kingdoms in a league strengthen each other's acts, whenas they do not foster 
traitors against each other ; but if they should mingle powers in common, 
this were to destroy their power and right as they be politic bodies. 

If it be said, it makes churches equal still, it is granted that it is true it 
makes churches in a like condition indeed, but how ? Not in the privileges 
of churches; it makes them in like condition of subjection, but not of free- 
dom, as they are churches or incorporate bodies,, to judge within themselves. 
As if incorporate towns should have their privilege of life and death within 
themselves, given up to. a combination of many incorporate towns together, 
they were 2^ares indeed, compeers ; and here is an equality they are brought 
unto in this condition, but what equity there were in it we see not. 

That I may conclude, if, when congregations are thus multiplied, a con- 
gregation that before had the government entire in itself, being invested 
with it, began anew to associate with others for government, either the clas- 
sical elders associated have taken up the whole government and jurisdiction, 
and left to that congregation and elders, which once were invested with it, 
no part of it (which once they had proper to them afore) but as it is exer- 
cised in common ; or else there is a parting and a dividing of that power and 
acts of government they had afore. If all be taken away, let that be affirmed 
and practised, and a warrant for it shewed; let the classical presbytery 
choose and ordain their deacons, let them suspend from the sacrament, let 
them only admonish, let them admit their members, let them choose their 
elders, let them do all. If they part it, either it must be arbitrarily, as 
themselves please (we will retain this, and you shall have that); and if so, 
then they arbitrarily part with that which was once given them by Jesus 
Christ; or else they part with all by a rule and a command from God, putting 
the bounds between what the one shall have, and what the other shall have ; 
let these bounds then be shewn, or any instances in the primitive churches 
be assigned, of such alterations when churches were multiplied, which in this 
case is necessary. This will breed also a great alteration and change in the 
constitution of these congregations themselves, and their relations to their 
officers, as is obvious to any one who considers it. 



Two queries resolved : 1. When a cluirch hath hut one elder, or none at all, 
whether it retains its power ? 2. Whether a j^arlicxdar congrer/ation, having 
complete power in itself, may oblige itself, in a constant way, to ask advice 
and direction from a consistory of presbyteries f — Resolved in the negative, 
and proved by several reasons. 

I shall now resolve some queries that maybe put, and in answering them, 
shall farther clear up my assertion, which I have demonstrated by so many 

Quest. 1. Suppose a church have but one elder ? Yea, suppose it have no 
elders at all ? What is become of its power then ? 

Ans. 1. Yet that church, whereof there is but one elder, being the seat of 
this government, it is in this politic body as in the natural body. A man, 
according to the law of nature, hath two hands, but if one be cut off, or that 
he wants one, then he useth that one hand for which both were used afore. 
In this case, vis rccurret in proximum. membrum, the entire vigour will return 
into the next member. And this is properly a case of necessity, and not 
that other case which our brethren would have, that one congregation being 
alone should therefore have the government within itself of necessity, which 
it must part withal, according to the ordinary rule, when more congregations 
are multiplied. 

Ans. 2. The power of government being the right, of that church, and not 
of other churches over it, they are to choose more officers ; and they have a 
right so to do, and so thereby to preserve the right within themselves, rather 
than to borrow an eye or a hand from other churches. We may say in this 
case, as our brethren have said in the case of not separating from a church 
rightly constituted, though it want an officer or officers. They say, that none 
ought in that case to separate, but it is to be required that officers be chosen 
and supplied ; so say we in this case. It is in this case as it is in that of 
small corporations, which, although they are decayed, yet they are corpora- 
tions still ; and they do not lose their privileges, and they do not therefore 
come under other corporations to govern them, but they are enabled them- 
selves to choose who they are that shall govern them. 

Ans. 3. Their having or not having officers doth not take away their 
right, but only it takes away the exercise until such time as they have 
officers. And their not having officers, it doth not put the right into other 
congregations, and the elders thereof. The right in elders doth not lie in 
their being elders, but in having a relation unto this congregation, and in 
being their elders. 

Ans. 4. Suppose when a congregation doth want a sufficiency of officers, 
and so it be disenabled to act according to its right, yet its case is but as 
the case of award, who, though he is not able to manage his own estate, yet 
this doth not put him by his right ; and those that have the wardship for the 
present have not the right, they have but quasi jus. And if a congregation 
useth foreign elders, [these] elders can have a charge in it, but until such time 
as the congregation be able to have officers of itself. And therefore if, in cases 
of defect, congregations should be associated, and by virtue of their associa- 
tion make use of other elders, yet they are not to be kept in that defect ; 
they ought, and they may purchase to themselves such an eldership, and so 
exercise their own right. The churches of Christ are not to be kept under 
age and wardship ; yea, ye ought to reform, so as the churches should be 

Chap. VII.] the churches of christ. 165 

reduced to this, and have their rights. The bishops, because they would 
rule the churches, in ancient time made canons, that there should be but 
one minister in a church ; and they took away the power of ruling elders, 
and so did destroy the presbytery in every church, that so in this defect 
there might be a colour for their government. Whatever inconveniences, 
therefore, may be pretended, or whatever is the present state of things, 
nothing ought to prejudice the rights of churches, but all congregations 
should have liberty to procure themselves a sufficient eldership, so to have 
the government within themselves. 

Again, suppose that such congregations, as having a defect of elders, 
should subject themselves to a classical presbytery for government, until they 
had a sufficient eldership of their own : suppose (I say) that this should be 
the more ordinary condition of the most congregations in this kingdom ; yet 
those congregations that have a sufficient eldership are not, for uniformity's 
sake with them, to subject themselves therein. For uniformity with what the 
Holy Ghost in the word holds forth as perfect, is rather to be held by those 
congregations who are made thus complete, than for uniformity's sake to 
subject themselves to the condition of those that are imperfect, that all may 
be alike, although that hath been the way of uniformity that hath been urged 
amongst us ; that because all ministers cannot pray out of their own gifts, 
that, therefore, for uniformity's sake, there should be forms of prayer for all 
ministers to use, even those that God hath enabled with sufficiency of abili- 
ties and gifts to pray. It is in this case as in the bringing up of fashions, 
many fashions being brought up by those that had infirmities, on purpose to 
cover them ; they who had not infirmities must be obliged to them, because 
they are in fashion, and brought up by some great ones. 

Congregational presbyteries, they are the natural presbyteries ; those others, 
they are but as step-dames, secondaries ; they are but compounds and decom- 
pounds of the several presbyteries of presbyterial churches. 

And what though a congregation want elders ; they are yet a church to our 
judgments, and are so to be acknowledged, as the church in the Canticles 
was a sister, though she wanted breasts. If congregations be small, and want 
sufficiency of elders, they should be united many of them together to one 
church, that they may have a full eldership, and put themselves (though to 
some inconveniences) to come together to worship ; for so, in the primitive 
times, we find that Christians did often come out of villages to their cities, 
to worship on the Lord's day ; and sometimes removed out of the villages 
into the cities, that they might have ordinances. 

Quest. 2. But suppose that congregations, having a sufikient eldership, 
have also both power and ability, and right to act within themselves, yet, in 
a constant way, may they not ask advice and counsel, and oblige themselves 
so to do ; and before tliey proceed to excommunication against their mem- 
bers, if they be obstinate, bring them to the classical presbytery, as to a 
further means, there to be admonished, and to have the sentence of excom- 
munication there delivered by them ? 

Alls. 1. All communion with classical presbyteries (which we rather look 
upon as synods than presbyteries) that we may lawfully hold, we will hold ; 
and all such communion we do account lawful, as it is for such ends and 
purposes, for which they are ordained unto by Christ. But what is beyond 
the ground of erecting such associations, or of calKng such synods, and the 
use and end of them, that will be to put an unlawful power into them ; for 
every ordinance or institution of God is commensurable to the ground 
upon which it is founded. So as suppose for the present, that God had ap- 
pointed synods to be held on some occasions, in case of mal- administrations 


in congregations ; and, in that case, had endowed synods with the same 
power over churches that congregations have over their own members ; yet 
because they had this power in this case, and upon this ground, it would not 
draw on an obligation on the churches congregational constantly to advise 
■with them so, and to bring their members to be admonished by them afore they 
proceed to censure. So as such advice as this is not a case of appeals, which 
always supposeth a sentence passed in inferior courts already ; but it is a 
laying the congregation yet lower ; for it is a suspending the exertion of that 
primary and first right, which they had, until such time as they have advised 
with another supposed more sufficient and able eldership. 

It is with us in this particular respect, unto the presbyteries, as it is 
with those that were moderate separatists, in respect of their communion 
with the ministry of England, although we, in other cases, give more to these 
presbyteries than they would do to such a ministry. Many of them, as Mr 
Kobinson and others, could communicate with the ministry of England, in 
hearing, and in praying, because in these actions they were not necessarily 
or only to be considered as ministers, by all them that should communicate 
with them, there being other grounds, say they, upon which they might 
preach and pray^ and therefore, although there was an unlawful relation or 
respect, which they pretend to preach upon, namely, that they were minis- 
ters, yet, because there was another ground, upon which (suppose they had 
been no ministers) they might have preached, hence, therefore, they did, and 
could, communicate with them in these ordinances, so far as that other 
ground would bear them out. But if it came unto any act, wherein they 
should properly shew themselves to be ministers, in these they did abstain, 
and could not partake with them ; for thereby (according to their principles) 
they might have acknowledged them to be such, which they thought they 
were not, and to have that authority which they thought they had not. 
Therefore, if it came to the receiving of the sacrament, because this is a mi- 
nisterial act, they therefore would not communicate with them, no, not for 
one moment. So also, as touching classical presbyteries, we can and shall 
willingly communicate with them, in all such things wherein we think there 
is a ground for their erection ; and so far as there is such a ground, we can 
preach among them, and hear them preach, where a company of elders might 
resolve cases of conscience, we can pray with them ; yea, and have recourse 
to them for advice in cases of difficulty, being the elders of other churches, 
and able to resolve such cases. And this we can do, although we conceive 
that they are erected to a further end, and invested with a further power, 
which is to us unlawful. But wherein there is a proper acknowledgment of 
such a power, or that the former right of congregations mentioned shall 
be prejudiced, and the power and ability that Jesus Christ hath put in them 
impaired, we cannot do any act that shall join with them herein. We can- 
not do it, no, not for one moment, much less for a constancy. And the 
reasons why we judge congregations should not do all this, namely, advise con- 
stantly, bring their obstinate members to be admonished by the presbytery, 
nor require their sentence, ere they proceed to excommunicate, are these : 

Beason 1. If it were no more but to advise that liberty is not to be taken 
from a body of Christ, enabled by him to act within itself, and purchased by 
him, which is not to be taken from a man by a state or commonwealth, because 
the law of nature hath bestowed it upon him. That liberty is not to be taken 
from a church in its right, which the law of Christ gives it ; that is not to be 
taken from a man in his right which the law of nature giveth him. In 
all actions that a man is the guide of himself in, he is not bound to seek 
advice, much less that there should be a standing court erected for men to 

Chap. VII. J the churches of cheist. 167 

come into. And in all the other rights that a man hath, as he is 'a ruler 
or governor of any society, as suppose he be a master of a family, in which 
he hath a right by the law of nature, it would be an infringement of his 
liberty, if in those acts that belong unto him as a master, he should be 
bound to advise with others, as for the putting away of a servant, &c. To 
direct him, indeed, in what cases he should ask advice, the exigents and ne- 
cessity of the thing is the ground and foundation of it ; but out of those 
cases it is an impairing of his liberty. Wherein he thinks there is a danger 
of miscarrying, and wherein he himself wants light, therein he is to ask 
advice, because there is a ground for it ; and yet therein a man is at liberty, 
of whom, or with whom, he will advise ; and to take that away, were to take 
away from the privilege of a man, if men are to preserve their native pri- 
vileges. Chui-ches are much more to stand fast in the liberty Chiist hath pm*- 
chased for them, G-al. v. 1. 

Reason 2. That which the cities of Judah, having power and jurisdiction 
within themselves, were not obliged to do, nor were to oblige themselves to 
do (although they had a Sanhedrim, a set court set over them by God, for 
advice in cases difficult, and when it was too hard for them to judge), that 
the churches now under the gospel, having the like privileges of power within 
themselves, with a promise of God to be amongst them, are not to do, nor 
are others to usurp it ; for in cases not difficult it had been an usurpation of 
an unlawful power in the Sanhedrim to require they should ask their advice ; 
and it had been a diminishing of that right, and questioning of that promise 
of God's being with them in judgment, to have gone still and advised, m 
cases clear, especially to have always depended upon an authoritative sentence 
of judgment, required of them to be pronounced by the Sanhedrim before 
that they proceeded, and without which theirs should not have been valid. 

Reason 3. A constancy of seeking advice, and to be bound to it, doth in 
itself arise unto a subjection to authority. Thus it is subjection in a child 
to be bound to advise with his parents in all actions of moment (whether 
they be clear to himself or not), as disposing of himself in marriage, and the 
like, and it is an acknowledgement of an authority ; yea, to be bound thus 
always to advise with, and not to proceed without the sentence of a classical 
presbytery, in judgment, is of greater authority in some respect, and is more 
than for them to have a coercive authority over other congregations, in case 
they proceed amiss. It is a further limiting of them thus to tie them up 
thai they should not exercise government without them. For magistrates 
may coerce the churches if they do amiss, when yet they will not oblige 
ministers always to advise with them, and have their sentence afore they 
proceed. For one minister to depend thus on another, for the exercise of 
his calling, is more than to be subject to the censure of another, if he doth 
exercise his calling amiss. It is a greater sign of servitude to do what one 
doth by the direction of another, than to be under authority that shall punish 
him if he do amiss. This latter is the case of a subject, the other of a ser- 
vant. This especially is true, whenas those we should be bound to advise 
with do claim and challenge an authority, upon which it should be done (as 
those that are for the presbyterial government in a rigid way do). It was 
one great ground that the ancient nonconformists went upon, against yield- 
ing to ceremonies, that supposing they were things indifferent, yet to have 
things indifferent in the worship of God determined one way, and men 
obliged to practise one way, whenas God himself had left them indifferent, 
this was to give away that liberty which Jesus Christ had given us. Espe- 
cially whenas those that urged them pretended to have a right and power 
from Christ to determine things indifferent in the worship of God ; in that 


case, to have submitted to them, bad been to have acknowledged an unlawful 


We will put this parallel case, to be judged by their own principles, that 
are for the presbj'terial government. Suppose there were found one man 
in a presbytery, that is but an ordinary minister for his station, in a parti- 
cular congregation (and so he hath a right and lawful calling in the ministry), 
and (as it is possible there may, and oftentimes it doth fall out to be) sup- 
pose that this man hath more abilities for wisdom, holiness, and all other 
ministerial gifts, than all the rest of that presbytery ; suppose such an one 
as Calvin, who was an ordinary minister of Geneva, and an elder in the 
presbytery there ; if now that presbytery he liveth in, having a right and 
an ability in themselves, as a presbytery, to judge and determine in all cases 
that fall within the jurisdiction thereof, should oblige themselves not to pro- 
ceed to sentence without his advice, in a peculiar manner first asked, they 
Mould think it both a lessening of their authority, and a giving of too much 
authority to that man ; much more if this obligation should lie upon other 
presbyteries, whereof he is not a member. This step (which was the first 
episcopal authority) the presbyterians would think unlawful to allow unto 
such a man ; and in tbis point they are so tender, as they will not yield so 
much as a constant moderatorship, without any other power ; and yet that 
there should be always one moderator in such an assembly is necessary, if 
there be an order kept up amongst them, as in other bodies. But now 
for a congregation to advise with a superior presbytery, in a constant way, 
is not so much as necessary ; for where there is no need of advice, it is not 
necessary. Let this case and the other be paralleled, and see whether there 
may not be the like said for congregations, they having this right amongst 

The constancy of asking advice upon all cases, though it were pretended 
to be but advice, yet the act itself, by reason of its constancy, would argue 
a majority of power and rule, it would turn to such in them (at least in the 
issue) that already claim it ; and so claim it as that some of the presby- 
terians pretend all the power to be in the classical presbytery, and not in 
the congregational ; and that the congregational elders, in their act of excom- 
munication, are but the deputies of the classical presbyteries, and that they 
are i^raxones, the proclaimers only of the sentence, but the presbyterians are 
the judges. That power that is already in one kingdom hath a jus divinum, 
and if set up in another would pretend to it ; and when the plurality of men 
shall be once for it (for the rigidity of that power), it will draw up all the 
power to itself. And a church's yielding from such liberties and privileges, 
is by God's usual dispensation the loss of them in the issue ; ' To whom we 
yielded not,' saith the apostle, * no, not for an hour, that the truth of the 
gospel might continue with you,' Gal. ii. 5. 

When the court challenged (about the choice of masters of colleges) this 
as the privilege of the king, that the party should at least be made known 
to him, the university stood upon their privileges, that they might choose 
and admit, without giving notice to the court ; knowing that they should 
soon lose their power if but so much were given up to a greater power over 
them. Had there been yielding but for a time, it would have endangered, 
in the issue and consequence, the very continuance of that truth of the 
gospel, which in that respect was professed by them. Periculosum est in 
rebus divinis ut quis suo jure cedat ac potestate (Cyprian. Epist. ad Jubaian. de 
heret. Baptiz.). And all those arguments which were brought against 
bishops, as having a directive power over ministers, will fall in here ; for 
directive power is that, when the exercise of it is at the direction of another. 

Chap. VII. j the churches of christ. 169 

And farther, consider that what will make the church to be under age, 
and to be a child for knowledge, and not guided of itself, is unlawful ; but 
always to ask advice, and to be bound so to do, is to bring the church under 
age, and so to be in bondage (for to bo under age and in bondage is all one, 
as in Gal. iv. 1, 2), to be as well under these tutors as under governors, 
under tutors whom they must advise withal, and under governors whose 
authoritative sentence must first be asked. 

Reason 4. That which the churches of the primitive times did, having a 
right and an ability to do it, and was a duty lay upon them to do of them- 
selves, that should congregational churches, having a right to do now, do 
without having first recourse for advice to presbyteries. And what the 
apostles, though set over churches, and who were more able to advise than 
all the presbyteries now are, did not yet require of the churches, but blamed 
them if they neglected to proceed of themselves, that presbyteries are not 
now to require of the churches to do, which the apostles did not. But for 
churches then to advise with the apostles or evangelists, or extraordinary 
ofiicers, before they proceed to excommunicate, was not then required, but 
it was their duty to proceed of themselves, according to the power Christ 
had given them, without waiting for such advice. This is clear in the case 
of the church of Corinth (whether it were congregational or presbyterial we 
dispute not now), because that this church had a right to judge that incest- 
uous Corinthian ; and the fact was so evident that advice they needed not ; 
• Do not ye judge,' saith the apostle, ' them that are within ? ' Doth it not 
belong to you ? He blameth them that they did it not. And as Chrysostom 
saith, he accuseth them, not that they did not certify him of it. but because 
they had not mourned or throwna him out. The apostle thus shewing that 
it ought to have been done without a monitor, because of the evidence of the 
sin. And when they had neglected to do it, Paul doth not do it himself, 
but only as an apostle doctrinally declareth such an one to be excommuni- 
cated by the church he hveth in. He doth not require that they should 
come unto him for his sentence before they did it, but he calleth upon them 
to do it themselves, because they neglected it. 

Reason 5. That which is to be supposed needless, that is not to be done 
in a constant way. To go ask advice when there is no need of advice is 
needless. The Sanhedrim was God's ordinance in its place, but if the cities 
should still have come up for advice needlessly, they would not have found 
a blessing in it. And besides, that which is an acknowledgment of the 
deficiency of God's ordinance, and God's presence with his own ordinance, 
that ought not to be done ; but such a constant having recourse for advice 
is acknowledgment of such an insufticiency ; for if they do not want it, why 
should they be bound to ask it ? 

Reason 6. Let this obligation to advise with another presbytery, and for 
them to approve, &c., ere that a church (that hath power and ability from 
Christ) proceed to excommunicate, be but paralleled with the obligation of a 
particular minister or pastor, for the works of his office, which, by virtue of 
his ofiice he is enabled by Christ to do singly and alone ; the presbytery of 
a congregation being (as was said) as perfect and as completely enabled for 
all acts within itself as a particular minister can be supposed alone to be 
enabled to the works of his ofiice (suppose preaching and the like), God's 
means being as perfect for government as they are for preaching or baptizing. 
Now then, as it would be a derogation from the gifts of Christ, and from 
the office that Christ hath put a man into, and a dishonour to the man that 
is a minister, constantly to advise afore he performs any act of his calling, 
and be bound so to do before he prcacheth a sermon or the like ; the like 


derogation would it be to a church, and the presbytery thereof, to be obliged 
to advise for all their acts of government which they perform. And yet look 
what ground or occasion there will be for a man that is a preacher to advise 
with others of his brethren about what he is to preach ; the like will be 
acknowledged, and as far the one as the other in their several proportions, 
for a congregational church, and the presbytery thereof, to advise with other 
churches. If a minister should be to preach anything that is of great diffi- 
culty, and like to be much gainsaid and contradicted, anything that is of 
great moment, or new, or uncouth ; in that case he may do well to advise 
afore he preacheth, and have the judgment of his brethren. So if such a 
case of government cometh, in any kind, that hath a great difficulty in it, 
wherein they are not clear what they shall do, or they, upon grounds, thick 
that the way they are to proceed is like to be offensive and scandalous to the 
churches about them when done, in this case they may advise. Occasional 
advisings, so far as there is a ground for them, we deny not. 
^ Reason 7. That which a classical presbytery is not bound to do to a pro- 
vincial, nor a provincial to a national assembly, that upon the same grounds 
a congregation (if it have a sufficient presbytery) is not bound to do to a classical 
presbytery. What ground can be alleged why a classical presbytery is not 
bound to advise with a provincial assembly ere it proceeds to excommunication 
but this, that it is an ordinance sufficient for those acts within itself ? If 
then a congregation be by Christ enabled (he having given sufficiency of 
power and gifts among them) to do all acts within itself, why should this 
church (which the promise of Christ's presence to be among them is first 
made to), which is the seat both of worship and government, be deprived of 
its privilege when the others are not. Where Jesus Christ hath given power, 
he hath given gifts. 

Reason 8. What is it they should advise thus constantly for, and about 
what should they depend upon the sentence of a classical presbytery ? First, 
it is not out of want of skill, for that must be either of the jus, that is, that 
they are unskilful to know the rule for what sins men should be excom- 
municated. Now in the constant cases that fall out in congregations for 
which men should be excommunicated, the rule is known well enough, that 
excommunication is for such and such gross sins as the Scripture holds forth, 
and as are scandalous to all Christians ; and if any new cases fall out, let 
them advise. And we acknowledge that synods may be of use to find out 
those rules, and to hold them forth; but when once they are held forth and 
known, and commonly received, there needs no advice to know the matter of 
right for which men are to be excommunicated. Or else it must be want of 
skill of judging the matter of fact done ; and for that they need not advise, 
for it is to be proved by witnesses. A company of elders and a congregation 
may as well be able to judge of that as all the assemblies in the world, and 
may be thought as sufficient and as faithful to judge, whether the fact be 
fully proved and cleared by witnesses or no. Or is it want of skill in that 
judging what obstinacy and impenitency is ? As for that (as I said before) 
they are entrusted to judge of it, for if they will receive him upon his repen- 
tance without bringing him to the classis, they may ; neither are they to 
briug him thither till he is obstinate. Secondly, It is not to have authority 
from the sentence of that synod that advice is necessary, for that authority 
must either be an autnority of reverence only, or a farther power political. 
There needs not a further political power to be judged by their sentence, for if 
a congregation and the presbytery thereof should proceed to excommunication 
the party was as truly excommunicated, and with as full a power from Christ 
as if all the synods in the world had ratified it ; and therefore to add autho- 

Chap. VII.] the churches of cheist. 171 

rity as defective in the congregation, to that end their sentence is needless. 
And then when a man is to be excommunicated, he is to be excommunicated 
by them ; when it is done, it is done by them ; and if a classis addeth not 
authority, it should not take away this authority by obliging men to advise, 
and to have their sentence first. If of reverence only, then it should be 
giving a respectful deference to their judgments, which in some cases is 

Reason 9. Those admonitions which the classical presbytery are to give to 
the person that is brought before them by the elders of his congregation (they 
having themselves admonished him, and he remained obstinate under their 
admonitions), are either an instituted ordinance of Christ preparatory to 
excommunication, to be further applied to him over and above those given 
him by his own congregation, or they are to work in a way of moral persua- 
sion, and by the way of reverence that the person hath of the classical pres- 
bjiery more than of his own congregation ; that is, they either work politically 
as an institution of Christ upon him, or only morally ; for what is it by which 
this man's conscience must be wrought upon in these superadded admonitions 
of the classical presbytery, having been obstinate under those of his own ? 
It must either be vi materia, by reason of the matter, and that they have a 
great reverence in the man's conscience, or it must be by their being invested 
with an authority from Christ, And if these admonitions of the classical 
presbytery be as an institution preparatory, they are to be reckoned ordinances 
of the same rank and kind with those which the -elders of his own church 
hath 'given him ; which admonitions are not as if a company of saints or 
ministers should meet him occasionally, and admonish him (for he may have 
a thousand such admonitions, and yet his sin not be accounted ripe for excom- 
munication), but his sin is then ripe for excommunication when admonitions 
ministerially administered by such as Christ hath appointed have been admi- 
nistered to him, and he continues obstinate. So that admonitions either may 
be said to have a persuasive power only, or else a ministerial power by way 
of institution, and so work on a man by the blessing of God upon them, and 
by virtue of the promise ; and in the want of either of them a man cannot be 
judged fit to be excommunicated, because that Christ's means appointed by 
him have not been applied to him. So then every admonition in this way 
of ordinance is in order unto excommunication, if the person continues 

Now then, first, if it be such a necessary ordinance to be administered by 
the classical presbytery afore such a time a« the party can be excommunicated, 
then, 1, the congregational eldership, and the admonitions thereof, is not a 
perfect ordinance ^ and, 2, it were not only a sin for any congregational 
church to excommunicate a man without bringing of him first to the classical 
presbytery, but the man also is not capable till then of being excommuni- 
cated by his own church, for it may be said there wants an ordinance to be 
applied to him before he is to be excommunicated, for all such admonitions 
that are a special ordinance of Christ as being preparatory to excommunication, 
and in order thereunto, are not to be omitted. And let it be shewn that 
Christ hath divided by his institution that some admonitions should be in a 
man's own congregation by his own eldership, and others afterward to be by 
a classical presbytery, before he is to be excommunicated by his own church. 
And also, 3, if it were thus, then a congregational presbytery hath not sufficient 
power to excommunicate a man, for if he is by virtue of an institution to be 
admonished also by a classical presbytery, this presbytery must by institution 
have power also to give sentence, without which the sentence of the congre- 
gation were not sufficient; for that church which hath power to admonish 


publicly in order to excommunication must necessarily have the power 
also to join in the excommunication, or else the excommunication is not 

But secondly, if they be admonitions only in a persuasive way to a man 
that is obstinate, to work upon him as and with a reverence of the persons 
admonishing, and to that end he is brought to the classical presbytery to be 
admonished, consider what will follow from it. 1. That those ministers 
should rather be called out, which he in a peculiar manner most reverenceth, 
they being the fittest persons to give admonitions, as John Baptist was to 
admonish Herod, because Herod reverenced him (as the text saith) ; and 
therefore to make an admonition court of a certain sort of persons whom 
perhaps the man knows not, this is to extend it beyond what the ground of a 
reverence will always reach unto. And by this reason likewise there might be 
some one man of eminent gifts set up to admonish, which should move a 
greater reverence in the hearts of men more than half a dozen presbyteries. 
2. If he be brought only upon this ground to be thus admonished by them, 
then a mere moral ordinance of less force is preferred to a standmg insti- 
tuted ordinance, that, according to Christ's institution, is of a greater. A 
moral power is preferred to a political that is given by Christ, whereas on 
the other side, the means that a man's own congregation hath used being 
instituted means, the blessing of Christ depends upon it. 

It is true we grant that if a company of saints or a company of ministers 
occasionally meet him, they might admonish him, and God may bless it ; but 
when those means that Christ hath appointed hath passed upon him, and he 
is not wrought upon by them, then for us to set up any other court of a 
company of men to bring him unto, which, by Christ's appointment, hath a 
power of a lesser kind (as if it is but a moral reverential power, it is no 
more), this is but a secondary and remote power in comparison of the 
former. It is but persuasive, it is not ministerial, and persuasive admoni- 
tions were applied to him afore, and he was past them ; he was admonished 
by the brother in private, he was admonished by two or three more, which 
that brother took to join with him, and therefore in a congregation Christ 
brings him to an authoritative means which himself hath in a public manner 
instituted, and to bring him then from these means unto persuasive means 
again ; this must needs fall short, and be blasted to this man's conscience, 
when the means that Christ hath in a special manner instituted had taken no 
place upon him, and this would also make Jesus Christ to proceed from the 
greater to the lesser. Unless it be affirmed by those who hold that the con- 
gregations have a sufficient presbyteiy for excommunication, yet Christ's 
appointment is, that classical presbyteries must always join with them, 
without which they are imperfect, which is indeed but a supposition. Thus 
there is the show of an ordinance set up to the prejudice of the ordinance 
of Christ, whereas there should not be set up an image to resemble any 
appointment of Christ ; and if anything put into the road of an ordinance be in 
the stead of an ordinance, or preferred to an ordinance, it will grow flat, 
though of itself 'it be good, and upon occasion may be useful, as we acknow- 
ledge the admonitions of a classical presbytery may be, but not in this case. 
We acknowledge that such an admonition God may bless, as he may bless 
good confei'ence ; but if any would set up good conference as a more efficacious 
ordinance than preaching, when preaching is the special ordinance, there 
would not be found that blessing in it. 

If it be said. But may not all good means be used to reclaim a man that 
is obstinate, before he be proceeded against by excommunication ? and is 
it not good means to be admonished by a company of men grave and holy ? 

Chap. VII.] the churches of cheist. 173 

and is not this better than to be admonished only by those of a man's own 
congregation ? 

I answer, 1. That the goodness of all means lies in the blessing and 
appointment of Christ ; and if he have appointed means sufficient, as the 
admonitions of the eldership of a particular congregation is, then in a con- 
stant and set way, to have an admonition court to bring men unto, further 
to be admonished, hath not a warrant for it. If the congregational pi'esby- 
tery be a sufficient presbytery, then they are a sufficient means ; and cursed 
is he that addeth as well as he that takes from Christ's institution, he that 
will use more than Christ hath appointed as well as he that will use less. 
In this case we may say, ' If they will not believe Moses and the prophets, 
neither will they believe if one come from the dead,' because God had 
appointed Moses and the prophets to be a sufficient means. And thus in 
physic also, to use more than is prescribed, is as dangerous as to use less. 
And further, if he is to be accounted obstinate, after the admonition of his 
own congregation, so as to be excommunicated (as if they be a sufficient 
means, he is to be so accounted), then as God cutteth men off when their 
sins are ripe, so the church also doth. 

Alls. 2. If all good means were to be set up as instituted ordinances, then 
this man should be brought to be admonished by the provincial assembly 
before he is excommunicated, yea, and before the national too. If you will 
set the bounds in a classical presbytery, why had you not as good set them 
in a congi'egational (if a congregational be sufficient), where Christ hath set 
it ? For you may suppose still that if he had the provincial assembly's 
admonition (men of great authority and reverence), it might prevent his ex- 
communication. And besides, if he may after his excommunication appeal 
to them, why should he not be brought unto them before ? 

Eeasoii 10. Add to this, that until the dehnqaent hath been admonished 
before all the people of the congregation, he hath not had all the means 
applied unto him in his own congregation which Christ hath appointed to 
work repentance in him ; for the whole church is not told of it as Christ 
would have it, neither is he rebuked before all, so that all may mourn and 
lament over him to break his heart. And surely it is the right of every con- 
gregation, and of every member in it, to have all means used that are suffi- 
cient within that congregation, afore its members are brought before strangers. 
Now if they are to be admonished by the classical presbytery, after that they 
have been thus admonished twice or thrice publicly in the congregation, then 
in that respect also there is a proceeding from a greater and more sufficient 
means unto a less sufficient. For the admonition of the classical presby- 
tery, though given by public persons, yet it is given privately ; whereas the 
means, according to Christ's order, is to go from more private to more 
public, as a way of doing the person good. And the shame is more public 
afore the congregation than afore the consistory ; and therefore, according 
to the presbyterial practices, they are admonished first by the classical 
presbytery, and when they are found obstinate, there they have two or three 
admonitions publicly before the people afore he is excommunicated ; which 
admonitions, if they are in order to repentance, then they are more effica- 
cious than what hath been done in the consistory of elders, and therefore 
used last; and if more efficacious, why (according to the right of a congre- 
gation, and according to the sufficiency of means in a congregation) were 
they not used first, so as the person need not be brought in order to his re- 
pentance before the classical presbytery, because a more sufficient means 
hath already been used ? So that, in a word, they are carried unto the 
presbytery, either afore or after they are admonished publicly in the con- 


gregation ; if afore, all good means have not been used in the congregation ; 
if after, you go from a more efficacious means unto a less efficacious, even 
in that respect fore-mentioned also. 

Reason 11. When the apostle saith, Titus iii. 10, ' after one or two ad- 
monitions, him that is an heretic reject,' as condemned of himself, as much 
by those means as by a thousand, the admonitions he intendeth there are 
those that are public, and given by them that have the power of excom- 
municating. If he be admonished afore his own congregation, and the elders 
thereof, these are either such admonitions the apostle there intendeth or 
not ; if they be, he is to be rejected without being admonished by any 
other ; for the apostle's rule plainly evidenceth that there is but one kind of 
public power by which the admonitions should be applied ; and therefore, if 
the classical presbytery were that power which should reject and excom- 
municate this man upon their two or three admonitions, then he is not to 
be brought down, to have admonitions again, afore the people in his own 
congregation, but he is to be rejected without any further proceeding ; so 
that if he be brought to the classical presbytery, after he hath been ad- 
monished before the whole congregation, the apostle's rule is not observed ; 
or if he be brought to the congregation after he hath been with those that 
have the public power to admonish and cast him out, the apostle's rule is 
not observed neither. And thus, whereas God hath built one or two altars, 
this would be to build seven. 

Reason 12. That practice which will breed distractions, and more incon- 
veniences, ought not to be. But for a congregation that is supposed to have 
sufficient power in itself to depend upon the classical presbytery for a sen- 
tence first passed, will breed greater inconveniences than for them to proceed 
without them. For the first, if the congregational eldership be of one mind 
that a man ought to be excommunicated, and the classical presbytery is of 
another, the congregational eldership having sufficient power, and the con- 
science of duty lying upon them, they are to proceed notwithstanding ; and 
so by rejecting the advice aforehand of the classical presbytery, they are 
brought to cast a greater contempt upon it than if they had proceeded with- 
out their sentence, and so as to give them an account. And as for the 
party, if he will refuse to go afore the classical presbytery (his conscience 
judging, and that upon right grounds, that the congregation hath sufficient 
power to proceed against him), what rules in Scripture will compel him to 
go to be admonished afore them ? If he goes by an appeal, that is after 
sentence, and then the congregation and he are parties ; if he goes as com- 
plained of by the congregation, by what rule can they constrain him to it? 


Some objections answered. 

Obj. 1. That excommunication is a matter of so great weight, to give a 
man up unto Satan, to throw him out of the communion of saints, as that 
for the weight and greatness of the sentence it should be advised upon by a 
further eldership, by a greater company than those of a man's own congre- 

Ans. 1. You greaten the ordinance of excommunication as the papists did 
that of the Lord's supper, preferring it before preaching, and so magnified 
the clergy and the priests that consecrated the sacrament, and also drew the 
people to the worshipping of the bread. Thus you also advance an undue 

Chap. VIII.] the chubches of chbist. 175 

power of the clergy, 'combined in an association of particular congregations, 
and to take their power away under pretence of the greatness of the ordi- 
nance committed to them. 

Ans. 2. And yet it is not so great and dreadful a sentence, according to 
your own opinion, making it only to be a cutting off of a church, and not to 
import a formal delivering up unto Satan. And, 

Ans. 3. If the congregation and the eldership thereof be sufficient for 
power, and skill, and faithfulness, why, for the greatness of the sentence, 
should there be a going out to other churches, when Christ hath propor- 
tioned his means to his end ? And what is there in the excommunication 
of a brother that these may not be supposed to be sufficient for, and to be 
betrusted with ? They are betrusted to preach the word ; every particular 
person is (whether it prove error or truth) till he do miscarry. They are 
betrusted to admit members, to suspend from the sacrament ; why not to 
excommunicate ? Yea, the sentence and the proof itself depends upon two 
or three witnesses by God's appointment, and they cast it ; and this though 
the matter were brought before all the judges in the world ; then why not 
when the matter is brought afore two or three officers, faithful men, and a 
congregation of saints ? Why should not they be esteemed as faithful judges 
as others ? If you commit to a jury and one judge, a recorder or a lawyer, 
in an incorporate town, though decayed, the power of life and death, and 
cutting a man off' from this life, which, when it is done, cannot be remedied 
again ; then why should you not betrust the power of cutting a man oft' 
from the church, if it be, unto the congregation, as being in this case the 
judges and jury ; especially, whenas there may be a remedy ? For he is not 
so cut off" but he may be restored. 

Ans. 4. Wherein should the greatness of excommunication He but in the 
matter for which a man is excommunicated ? We profess it is not for 
niceties, but for sins against light, against the common principles of nature 
and Christianity ; as the apostle saith, 1 Cor. v. 3, ' He that hath so done 
this deed.' There must be a scelus in it, that if he goes on in it will damn 
his soul ; and therefore the apostle calls that Corinthian ' that wicked per- 
son,' ver. 13. And for these things, the congregation is as well able to 
judge as all the elders in the world. In the matter of fact (as was said 
afore), a jury of twelve men do judge of the fact when a man's life is con- 
cerned, and by a parity of reason, a congregation may judge of the matter of 
fact for which a man is to be thrown out of the church. 

Ohj. 2. But excommunication is res communis, a common concern, which 
other neighbour churches have an interest in, and in that respect they are 
to have a joint concurrence in it aforehand. 

Ans. 1. So it is likewise to all the churches in the world, more especially 
in the nation, and the party may remove to any other part of the kingdom ; 
and so then all the kingdom should have a concurrence in the act aforehand 
as well, and then the whole nation should be called. 

Ans. 2. If the common interest of churches should carry it, then it would 
follow that because he is excommunicated out of all the churches of that 
presbytery, all the churches should be present at his excommunication, as 
well as that particular church he is a member of. 

Ans. 3. If neighbourhood and common interest be insisted on, then the 
churches of the next presbytery (whereof many may be nearer to that con- 
gi-egation to which he is joined than this classical presbytery) should be pre- 
sent also ; for the man may go thither to be received, and "therefore it is fit 
that they should have an interest aforehand too. There is no reason to be 
given why it should be res communis, a common affair, to that classical 


presbytery more than to other neighbour churches ; as to the thing itself, it 
can only be said they have associated voluntarily ; but then the ground of 
that association must be considered. 

Ans. 4. When a man is cast out of one church, he is cast out of all 
churches ; but not formally, but only consequently, and by virtue of com- 
munion of churches, this common law being among them, that no other 
church should receive him till he have given satisfaction to his own ; and 
therefore, answerably, it is not an antecedent cognisance afore by other 
churches that is necessary, but only a consequent, as was the manner of the 
primitive times, to send to churches after, and to tell them, fi-om such an one 
let us abstain, this being the law among churches, that if a man be cast out 
of one church, he is cast out of all. Either all churches must be called, one 
as well as another, or else some particular church must be betrusted, and 
betrusted by Christ ; and if so, why not his own congregation, having a 
sufficient eldership for excommunication ? 

Ans. 5. In admission (as was urged afore), every particular church is 
betrusted to admit members, and, by virtue of the admission of members 
into it, they are admitted to have communion in all churches, and therefore 
why should it not be entrusted for excommunication also ? It is no obstacle 
that it is res communis, a common business, for the other is equally such to 
all other churches. We ask also if that suspension be not res communis, a 
common concern also, insomuch that until such time as he is excommuni- 
cated, all churches are to suspend him from the sacrament after his own 
church hath suspended him ? And if so, upon that ground, why should not 
all churches be acquainted with his suspension aforehand ? 

Ans. 6. The fifth canon of the council of Nice*^ tells us that synods were 
therefore appointed amongst other ends, that all the churches might know 
who had been excommunicated by a particular bishop (as the manner was 
then), that all the rest might account him so until he had given satisfaction. 
They were not therefore to be called aforehand, afore he was excommuni- 
cated, on the pretence of a common interest. 

Obj. 3. But in the multitude of counsellors there is strength. 

Ans. 1. Let them have the use of counsellors only, and we deny it not. 
A man will not go for counsel unless there be need, and in cases of need, we 
do acknowledge it. 

Ans. 2. That rule is the rule of nature ; but we have a rule for the suffi- 
ciency' of the eldership of a congregation, with an institution, and with a 
promise of Christ's presence, ' where two or three are gathered together.' 
If this were founded upon mere nature, then we would yield, that this axiom 
might have place, and they might still take in more counsellors to them. 
But a rule of nature will not set up an ordinance, though it may help to 
manage it, and it should not be set to weaken it, and disparage it, as this 
doth. Let us rest in God's ordinance, and rest in God's number, what he 
hath thought sufficient ; and the conscience will rather be quieted, and 
wrought upon by subjection to an ordinance, than to a multitude. The 
promise is not to a company of more persons, as such, but the promise is 
made to the relation, to the constitution, and the blessing depends upon the 
promise ; and to this purpose, God will be with two or three as well as 
with three thousand in an ordinary way. The laws of England sets not up 
a multitude of counsellors, that is, of lawyers, for the judging of life and 
death, but it sets up a few judges, who sometimes alone, sometimes two or 
three together, do judge all causes, when yet there are multitudes of lawyers, 
and as good lawyers as they, and as able to counsel. If we all do rest satis- 
* In torn, ii., Collect. Concil. Labbei, page 46. 

Chap. VIII.] the churches op christ. 177 

fied in this law as the ordinance of the kingdom, why should we not rest in 
the other as the ordinance of Christ ? 

Ans. 3. If this alleged rule held, then classical preshyteries should go to 
greater synods, for there is a multitude of more counsellors. And then all 
the churches should continually have had recourse to the apostles, while they 
were alive, in all such acts of discipline ; for any apostle might have said, 
Am not I wiser ? send them unto me ; yea, cannot I more eflectually per- 
suade ? Therefore both take my advice, and come to me for my sentence ; 
bring them afore me to be admonished. The apostles, indeed, when they 
were present in churches, did join with the elders and officers of the churches 
in their acts of government ; but they did not require, if absent, that the 
churches should come to advise with them. 

Ohj. 4. But may not this be done for peace' sake, whenas this will com- 
pound all, and accommodate the difierences amongst us ? 

Ans. 1. It is in the case of peace as in the case of scandal. If a brother 
be ofiended, and the thing be indiflferent, and in my liberty, then indeed I 
may forbear, and I ought to forbear, because of an offence ; but I am not to 
forbear if it be a duty which he is offended at, neither am I to give away a 
liberty. So for peace men may forbear things that are indifferent to them, 
and so they ought to do ; j'ea, they may conceal their own judgments, and 
forbear to practise some things which otherwise they might do. As the 
apostle says, Rom. xiv. 22, ' Hast thou faith ? have it to thyself.' But a 
man is to do nothing positive that shall acknowledge a seeming power, and 
bring congregations into bondage, when Christ hath set them free ; for peace 
must be so kept in churches, as that withal their privileges must be kept. 
There is no yielding from that right which Christ hath given. The case of 
peace holdeth not in the acknowledgment of a false power, for that will 
breed destruction. 

Ans. 2. It is the keeping of the true bounds of power, as Christ hath 
seated them, that will preserve the peace of churches; but to yield unto a 
false power will always be occasion of quarrels. 

Ohj. 5. But because that these churches may be perhaps offended with 
what you do, and with that sentence you shall give, and so be engaged to 
question you for that act after you have done it, is it not therefore better to 
advise aforehand, and so to prevent that offence ? 

Ans. 1. It was the preventing offences, and the avoiding of schisms, that 
did set up episcopal power, as Jerome saith ; for because a multitude of 
presbyters could not agree in their presbyteries, they devolved it into one 
man ; but the remedy was worse than the disease, for it degenerated into 

Ans. 2. Simply to prevent an offence, the liberty of churches, nor the 
rights that is in churches, is not to be taken away. An actual offence arising 
is a ground indeed for the neighbouring churches to call upon that church to 
give them satisfaction ; and there doth hereupon a duty lie upon this church, 
if it have miscarried, to give them satisfaction. But then they must be actu- 
ally offended. 

Ans. 3. The ground why they would have us advise with the classical 
presbytery is not merely to prevent offences, but it is because they claim an 

Ans. 4. The case must be supposed so to fall out, that either the classical 
presbytery will be of the same mind with the congregational, or not. If it 
be supposed that they shall be of the same mind, then there needs not to be 
advice to prevent offence ; and this will ordinarily be the case when the rules 



for excommunication are fixed, and by some common agreement concluded 
upon, between churches. Or if it be supposed they may not agree, in that 
case the congregational presbytery is put into a greater strait, and will run 
into an higher contempt and offence of the presbj'tery classical, when they 
shall think themselves bound to excommunicate the man, against the advice 
and sentence of the classical presbytery given them. 

Ans. 5. There is no inferior court which hath a power and ability to judge, 
that upon a supposition of miscarriage, and of oflendiug of an higher court, 
bath an obhgation laid upon it, upon all occasions, therefore to advise with 
that higher court, to prevent these appeals and these ofiences. 

Ans. 6. If, for avoiding of offences, there should be such advising always 
afore sentence with other or more or greater churches, then the classical 
churches should never give sentence ; for they may incur the ofience of the 
provincial, and this latter likewise of the national. And therefore supposing 
that these courts were one above another, and that the inferior had a full 
right and power to finish the sentence of excommunication, it were much 
better to leave it to the cognisance of the higher courts, by way of appeals, 
than under the presupposition and pretence that offences may arise to weaken 
the right of the particular congregation, by an obligation to advise and to 
have the sentence of the higher court antecedent. 

Book IV. Chap. I.] the chueches of Christ. 179 


The claims of the Presbyterian government considered and refuted. — That the 
church universal is not a church political, a)ui the seat of (jovernnient. — 
That the institution for tvorship and government falleth not iipon the saints 
in a nation, as a nation or kingdom, to he the seat of it, — That an argu- 
ment cannot he urged for a national church government, from the instance 
of the Jewish pattern. — That a standing presbytery is not to he setup to 
exercise power and jurisdiction over parlicular congregations. 


That the church universal is not a church political, and the seat of instituted 


I SHALL now examine the validity of the presbyterian claims for their govern- 
ment; and, first, I shall prove that the church universal is not, in the whole, 
and in all the subordinate parts of it, a church political, and the seat of in- 
stituted government. The church catholic is not a formed politic body, 
which Christ hath made the seat of this power. That it indeed affordeth fit 
materials, both of saints and men gifted, we grant ; even as men are by nature, 
having variety of several parts, and variety of gifts, fitted to the bodies politic; 
and if you take all mankind, thei'e is among them variety of gifts and dispo- 
sitions fitted to make up commonwealths ; yet all mankind taken together are 
not a politic body, but as they are formed up into commonwealths or king- 
doms ; and men, having thus several gifts, are put into several offices and 
places in those several kingdoms and commonwealth, which are avd^o^irhri 
TLTiGig, a human creature, as the apostle calls it. Even so it is here. 

We yield also that take the chui'ch universal in its parts, and so the keys 
are given to the whole partitive, as divided into several bodies, in whom God 
hath set teachers and pastors, &c. As we say he hath set in a kingdom con- 
stables and justices of the peace, &c., but yet every constable is not a con- 
stable of the whole kingdom; so he hath set in his church apostles, &c., who 
were as the nobles, and were ministers, and had power in all churches, yet 
exercised their power pier partes, as they came to this church and that 
church; but he hath set other ordinary officers, as other justices of peace, in 
their several less jurisdictions, or as mayor and recorders in incorporate towns. 

We yield also that all these churches, by virtue of their catholic relation, 
are knit together again in a common communion, which they owe one unto 
another by several bands and ties, so as they have communion one with an- 
other, and that as churches too, and with their elders as elders ; but the pre- 
sent question is of the keys of jurisdiction. 

1. These keys cannot be given to the whole universal church; for, first, 
they do not, nor indeed can, assemble. 

2. The whole universal church hath not all the keys ; for it is not capable 


of preaching, nor is it capable of receiving the sacraments altogether. And 
suppose there were a general council of all the ministers of the world, and 
they should receive the sacrament, they should not receive it as ministers, 
but they should receive it only as believers. 

That the church catholic on earth neither is nor can be the seat of this 
public worship, nor of this government, as appears by those arguments. 

1. It can no more be so than all mankind can make a commonwealth. 

2. This is reserved to heaven, which is the only general assembly where 
the worship of God is perfected, to which all other particular assemblies, the 
family on earth, come, Heb. xii. 23. 

3. If this power of governing be given to the church universal, then either 
to a meeting of elders, or of all the faithful. Not of all the faithful, for they 
cannot meet as in congregations they do, nor is there any institution for all 
the males to meet, as in Jerusalem, nor for all the people, male and female, 
as once every seventh year there, so these in some one place in the world. 
Neither is this power of government given to any meeting of elders, as elders 
to the church universal, for then, either it must be that God hath appointed 
a set company, as in the Sanhedrim, whose office peculiarly it is to be these 
catholic elders, set apart for that work, as those who were elders of the 
people ; such in a manner were the apostles ; and if so, let the ordinary insti- 
tution for this be shewn, such as theirs was for that, Dent. vii. 17. This, 
indeed, is the popish principle, that all bishops are by office catholic bishops, 
and may all, by their office, attend a general council. And thus, as in Jewry, 
God might have made two great ordinances for the;government of his church 
only : an universal Sanhedrim for the church catholic, such as the parlia- 
mentary power is in this kingdom, and the other in that of villages and 
cities, there being none intermediate or subordinate between them. But 
if it were so, then all intermediate synods should be taken away, and only 
a general council be that to which all congregations should appeal. And 
that the institution was not so, is evident by this, that all our divines do ac- 
knowledge that general councils are but ad bene esse, and not absolutely 
necessary, which they would be if the primary institution fell upon them, 
and therefore for the first three hundred years there was none. But if the 
meaning be, that each elder is an elder of the church universal, and that the 
church universal is a politic body throughout from top to bottom, the greater 
part still ruling the lesser, and the universal ruKng the whole, so as by 
virtue of their relation to the whole, they act in any part, or may act in the 
whole (which is according to the principles that the assembly goes upon in 
their answer to our reasons), then the institution of the politic power is made 
to fall first and primarily on the church universal, for in their first pracog- 
nitum they say the whole church is one, made up of the collection of all, and 
that hence there is a dependency of all the lesser as parts upon the whole. But, 

4. If the institution falls upon the church universal, then the church uni- 
versal is a politic body ; and if so, then as this whole church should be but one 
politic body, so each elder should be an elder to this whole church for all ends 
and purposes of an elder, both for worship and government, for elder and church 
are relative : as when the apostle saith, ' Ordain the elders to every church,' 
assuredly they had the relation of elders to that church both for worship 
and government. Now, this will set up an unparalleled monster in govern- 
ment, the like to which mankind never knew, and therefore cannot be the 
institution of Christ, for Christ's government is orderly. Now the monstrous- 
ness of this will appear. 1. This will make an external pohtic government 
to be managed by men (by Christ the head, we grant it is now managed), 
that is greater than any of the monarchies, which, through their vastness, 

Chap. L] the churches of christ, 181 

were hurtful to mankind whom they ruled. For the church universal on 
earth is now, and hath been ever since the apostles' time, in most nations, as 
Mr Brerewood proves. There are the Ethiopic and Arabian Christians in 
Africa; the Grecians under the Turk; the Armenians under the Persian ; the 
Indian Christians of St Thomas, so called because he was the converter of 
Christians there ; then there are all which are in Europe. And that many of 
these churches are, in a great measure, pure in their doctrine, or at least have 
enough to save men, and so cannot be excluded out of the list of the church 
catholic, appeareth by that confession of faith made by patriarch Cyril in 
the name of the Grecian churches. Now, to have so vast a body to be in 
the whole the seat of government, especially if you add to it, when the ful- 
ness of the Jews and Gentiles shall come in, and the north and the south 
shall give themselves to Christ, how can this be practicable ? And if not 
so, how can it be the institution ? It is true, that Christ's internal kingdom 
is thus large, and managed by himself, both in whole and in part, and by his 
Spirit ; but that his external kingdom should be such, is inconceivable. 

2. That which increaseth the wonder is, that all these should be governed 
by a general aristocracy, whereas that it should be governed by one man 
would be more feasible. But then, 

3. It makes it more strange that this should further be the law of it, that 
every elder of every congregation should be the elder of these churches, yea, 
of the whole church for all acts of government, and that he should be bound 
up in his constant function and exercise to the compass of one congregation, 
and yet have, by a fundamental institution, a right of eldership in power in all 
the churches of the world besides. See but how absurd such a government will 
bo in the like civil society that were so vast a body ; suppose that in all 
these countries mentioned, or all over the world, the forms of government 
that now are should be pulled down and should begin anew, and that the 
government should be that the burgomasters or aldermen, yea, constables of 
every little town or village, chosen by the people, should be an alderman to 
all ends and purposes, in all towns imperial, incorporate, yea, in villages, to 
hang and draw as occasion is throughout the world, and to have as much 
right as any therein ; and by virtue of the law this duty should lie on him 
to stir up others, and join with others, if there be anything amiss, to assume 
the authority to execute this. We read, indeed, that in the Roman monarchy, 
it was the privilege of private persons, that he who was free of one city, 
Rome, was free of all the world for trading, &c., bat that he should have 
power of office in all cities was never heard of. This is a thing that never 
fell out, no, not in Israel. There were, indeed, general elders on purpose 
appointed over all the nation, but they were not elders over every city. It 
is nowhere found but in Turkey; it is not to be paralleled but in that 
government which the Janissaries have ; and among the Jesuits, it is the law 
of their society, but it is formidable to princes, as was that of the Templars. 

4. It is strange that Christ should appoint such a government, and leave 
it loosely for the persons if they be called, as that is the limitation with 
which our brethren would mollify it, to act in this or that part of the universal 
church, and never so much as set down any of these things. In so great a 
body and latitude of power, there had needed to have been the most sure and 
certain order distinctly appointed by Christ. For let it be considered how 
many things were to be ordered : as whether there should be but one general 
council to which all controversies should be brought, as in Israel the San- 
hedrim was, and whether it should be of a constant standing, or be chosen 
anew every year ; whether in it there should be more of ruling or teaching 
elders, or an equal number of both ; whether there should be many subordina- 


tions of sorts of elders, and how many of them, and by what rules and limits 
set out, and what number of each elders should be therein; and who should 
choose them which are to be sent, whether every individual elder meeting, 
as in provincial assemblies they did, or whether a few chosen should choose 
the others. It is a wonder that Christ hath set down none of these things, 
that he neither appointed one general court, to which all appeals should be 
brought, nor, if there were to be subordinate synods, hath assigned how 
many they should be, nor so much as declared that there should be any 
such subordination. And if the general law of this supposed government 
is, that every greater number should rule the less, this would be an exceed- 
ing loose and confused foundation of a settled government, and a settled 
government Christ must be supposed to have left. In this case, therefore, 
surely there should of necessity be the most positive law to determine what 
that call is whereby such should execute it, as well as to lay down a law for 
the right, or else eveiy one of them would challenge it, for every man will 
say he hath as good a right as another, nay, greater. 

5. This right would both give all a pretence to it, as also lay it upon them. 
For as it is their duty, as it was Paul's, to take care of all the churches, so 
they have a call already by their fundamental relation. And then, if elders 
chosen by the churches should determine one way, yet the rest having a 
fundamental right, being catholic elders by institution, might determine the 
other way, for the obligation is by virtue of their being elders of this catholic 

C. Christ never gave an institution which was never brought forth into act ; 
but such is this pretended institution of a catholic church to be the ^eat of 

(1.) Because that church can never meet ; and asfrustra est potentia, sic 
etiam potesias, qum non reducitur in actum, i.e. not only natural power, but 
authority too, is in vain, which cannot be brought into the condition of act- 
ing. Christ did not set up a doctrinal principle for government and policy 
in the speculation, but such an one as is practical. And our presbyterian 
brethren make use of the notion, yet reject the thing ; for they would be 
unwilling that a general council of all Christians interested should be the 
major part, determining all the parts of government and doctrine, and bind 
up all churches thereunto. Surely Jesus Christ suited his government of 
his church to all times, and there have been few times in the world in which 
this could be done, no, not by general councils. Divisions have and will 
hinder it, persecutions, or distance of place, or want of consent, who shall 
call them, will hinder it. 

(2.) It cannot be that the primary institution should fall upon it, for then 
the institution should fall upon the representative church first, rather than 
on the church both of the faithful and of the elders too. But the institution 
must rather be where both are, for they have more of the reality of a church. 

(3.) God giveth gifts and abilities suitable to all his institutions. When 
God did call apostles to an universal eldership, he gave them gifts suitable. 
Now there are few, we may say none, of elders that are fit to be elders 
catholic, that are fit to act in the church universal ; and yet, every one in 
their place, every ruling elder, by this principle, must be supposed to be fit 
if called ; for the institution and their office (according to this principle) 
doth give them the jus, the right, and the ability ; whereas the choice by 
others gives only the exercise ; but the right, if founded upon an institution, 
supposeth a fitness or an ability in all. That every bishop (who pretended 
to have an higher degree of office than ordinary elders, by divine institution) 
should be a catholic bishop (for by the ancient canon law all bishops m the 

Chap. I.] the chukches of christ. 183 

world might be of a general council, by virtue of their place), is far more 
supposable. For as by their principles they were of an higher function, so 
a supposition might be made of a proportionably higher eminency of parts 
and gifts to be in them above other men, as in some few in the church there 
eminently is, as well as there is a vast difference of natural gifts among the 
sons of men. Thus, as bishops were supposed to be men of an higher 
degree, so, like Saul, they might be supposed taller than their fellows. But 
to make all elders, yea, ruling elders (for they must come in too if they be 
likewise by institution), and all ministers, catholic elders, and fit for general 
councils, is to assert that Christ hath also given to them all gifts and abilities 
suitable to so great a function and charge. 

(4.) God never called men to do work in any part which they are not 
capable of, as these catholic elders are not ; for they ought to have variety 
of languages, as God gave the apostles. For if appeals may be made, they 
are to hear every man in his own language speak for himself. When God 
did make catholic elders, cathohc rulers, he gave them languages. You 
argue more congregations than one, from variety of languages in Jerusalem, 
or else they could not perform their duties to each. We may do the like 
against this cathohc eldership here. If it had been only asserted that every 
man is an elder of a church in the same nation, then indeed such elders 
might, in respect of language, have been fit for their office ; but if you ex- 
tend their office to all the world, then it is impossible for them to discharge 
it when they are called to exercise it in any part of it ; since they have not 
all languages, and so are not capable of a call to exercise their whole func- 
tion (as our brethren say their right and office is) in every part, or in the 
whole. But now, when God made officers of all churches, he gave gifts 
accordingly, tongues, and languages, as to the apostles. Now we believe 
that most ruling elders have but one language ; yea, and if Latin were the 
general language, they were not fit to be catholic elders. 

(5.) By the law of this rule, if the apostles should have met in a general 
council, other elders being also in that general council, catholic elders ; and 
being there, by virtue of being catholic elders, they must needs have been, 
in that respect, equal with the apostles. For in that place, and in that 
sphere, what could the apostles challenge more of authority amongst them, 
since to be a catholic elder was the highest authority of an apostle '? 

(6.) This principle is contradictory to other principles of our presbyterian 
brethren ; for whereas to rear up their subordination of assemblies they 
invented a representative relation, personating many churches, and also other 
superior assemblies, such as national and general councils, this new taken 
up principle, of every elder's being an elder of the universal church, destroys 
it, or makes it needless. It takes away all such representations ; for every 
person chosen to be of them was already a member really, and not repre- 
sentatively of the whole, and hath a full right of eldership of the whole 
church, according to this their notion ; and the special call any one hath is 
but desiguatlo j)ersonrB, a designation of the person, who shall serve at such 
a time ; but in that council, when met, he representeth the whole church, 
as much as any particular church, when he meeteth there. And to make 
him an elder representing any particular church, is to give him a lower title 
than he had, for he is an elder of the universal. And his call only gives 
the exercitiiim ; the other gives the jus, which is more than the exercltium, 
for it is the root of it. 

(7.) It would make Bellarmine's argument good, that the greater company 
of elders simply would have the greater authority ; for, it lying not in repre- 
sentation, but in being elders of the catholic church, they must (though out 


of a council) needs carry it, if more of them will agree to meet in a body at 
any time, 

(8.) If every elder were thus an elder of a church universal, then the 
church universal should call him to his office ; but the church universal doth 
not call him, but only particular churches ; for church and elder are relatives, 
and the call is that which makes the relation. And Jesus Christ calleth 
either mediately or immediately. Immediately, he indeed did call apostles 
to be officers of the church universal, but then himself did it, and gave gifts 
accordingly fit for it. When he calleth mediately, there is a proportion 
between the means by which he calleth and the thing whereto a man is 
called ; and therefore the proportion must lie in this, if he be a member of 
the church universal, the church universal must be the means of his call ; 
and if he be called by a particular church, then his office reacheth no further. 
We have an express institution that elders were set over their particular flocks 
by the Holy Ghost, Acts xx. ; and when the apostles themselves, who were 
general officers of all churches, did ordain any elder, it was but xara 'n-oXiv, 
and xar' suKXriaiav ; so that, although the callers had an universal power, 
which no synod in the world hath the like, yet the office of the called was 
limited, according to the seat and church to which he was called. And if 
the apostle did not make general elders who yet had an universal power, then 
surely a particular church cannot make a general elder ; that exceeds its pro- 
portion ; he is thereby hmited both by the extent of the power of the callers, 
and the Hmits of the seat to which he is called. And indeed the nature of 
an office in the church is a separation of him for a constant work ; it is not 
to do here and there an act of office as a journeyman, but to have a constant 
employment ; which office, therefore, is limited to a certain church, which 
church also calleth him to a certain employment there. And if it be said 
that a corporation hath power to call a man to be a member of the parlia- 
ment for the whole kingdom, j'et there is a double difference in this. The 
law saith not, that every burgess is a parliament man, and a burgess of the 
kingdom ; which is that you would make to be the law here. And then, in 
the second place, the whole tenn'mus and object of his call is to be a burgess 
in that case of the whole kingdom only while the parliament sits ; and the 
relation ceaseth when the use and exercise ceaseth. 

And if it be said that every member is a member of the church universal, and 
therefore every elder is anelder of the church universal, the case is not the same, 
for the one is a mere communion by way of privilege, the other is by way of 
jurisdiction ; and there is a great deal of difference between a man's being 
free to trade in all places and in all countries, and to have the power of a 
senator, or a constable, or a nobleman, in all countries wherever he comes. 
And sure our brethren will not hold themselves to the parallel thereof ; for, 
1, though a member of any other church hath the privilege to receive the 
sacrament, or have his child baptized, yet they would not allow him a capacity 
of being called (when he comes occasionally among them) to choose an officer 
with them, or exercise such a privilege over them or with them. 2, If the pro- 
portion' of elder and members be observed, then by this rule, as any member 
of another church may, without any further special call than barely a testi- 
mony that he is a member of another church, challenge communion with any 
church (without any precedaneous active call of the church intervening), so 
by the same rale of proportion, if every elder were an elder of the church 
uuiversal, you need not say, if he be called by another church, he may do 
thus or thus ; but if it be made out by testimony that he is an elder of another 
church, he may challenge the privilege of an elder, as the other may of a 
member. 3. As for the communion of members in other churches, there 

Chap. I.] the churches of christ. 185 

needs not any special association of churches into a presbytery, neither hath 
a member a further right or call to receive in a church within his associa- 
tion than in any other church in the world. By like reason associations 
should be as needless for these universal elders to exercise government in ; 
and if the proportion holds, then, as the elder or elders of one association is 
excluded from coming to intermeddle in a neighbour association, so members 
of another association should be from communion in those churches which 
are not associated with it. 

(9.) That which is the principle and foundation of popery, and which, if it 
prevailed, and all the churches challenge the right of it, would hinder further 
reformation and growth in the truth, and would make all the reformed churches 
schismatics, and would justify non-residency, and introduce a foreign ecclesi- 
astical government in all states and kingdoms, that cannot be Christ's govern- 
ment. But such is this catholic political church. 

1. As for popery, Bellarmine and Suarez lay this foundation for the pope's 
authority: 1. That the church universal is a politic body ; and he quoteth 
the same scripture that our brethren use to do ; and 2, he saith therefore 
it must have a supreme power existing somewhere ; for as there cannot be 
una respublica sine civUi suprema potentate, nor unus exercitns sine imperatore, 
so nor can there be ecclesicB politia una without an external supreme power 
suited thereunto. And if there be such a politic body, see how easy a step it 
is for the pope's monarchy in the third place ; for if the institution do fall 
first upon it, then there is reason supposed that Christ hath ordered a constant 
existent government, for the greatest institution deserveth the greatest bless- 
ing ; and he that gave ordinances to every particular church, pastors and 
teachers, would be sure to give them to the whole, considered as a politic body. 
So Bellarmine argueth also, that if the particular churches had not been 
united into one body, one pastor might sutHce each ; but if they be all united 
into one great body, there must be (saith he) one external pastor over the 

2. To think that Jesus Christ should make an institution of a doctrinal 
principle only (which should not have existence), namely of this, that the 
church universal is a politic body, only to set up peddling presbyteries by virtue 
of it, or provincial assemblies, when yet his institution is by that principle 
supposed to fall primarily upon the church universal, is not likely. 

3. The competition would be, whether a general council should be the 
constant existent government, or one man. A general council there never 
was yet, one that was truly general (as all acknowledge) ; but that some 
churches have been left out, either those in the Indies or Gothland, or some- 
where else, they have been still, as Chamier argues against the pope ; and 
if it could be, it could be but rarely ; but Christ would have appointed his 
government (if his prime institution had fallen here) for one time as well as 
for another. But now, as when Moses was wanting, they set up a calf, 
the Christian world, if this principle were true, would say, Here is an universal 
church, but where is a government extant ? 

4. And then, if a general council were extant, yet herein one man may 
moderate ; and it is not against the essence or the constitution of govern- 
ment (as presby terial divines acknowledge) that one man should be a constant 

And then, 5, if that this general council were dissolved at some time, they 
might have the same power that a national assembly useth to have in Scot- 
land, to make a committee of a company of a head city to be commissioners 
till the council meet again, and this would be a good standing conclave (such 
as is at Rome) for the whole church. 


And then, 6, if you would help it out with the law of nature, as you use 
to do with this principle of the universal church, if the institution be not 
very express, the law of nature will as well set up one man to whom appeals 
may be made, and the analogy of the forms of civil governments and monar- 
chies of the world, which all the world runs after, will help to strengthen it. 

And then, 7, you shall have the examples in the Old Testament (which 
also in this case you use to have recourse to) to back it. There was a per- 
petual sanhedrim where there was a national universal church, and there was 
an high priest ; and if the high priest were ceremonial, yet that one man 
should be over the several order of priests was according to the law of nations, 
whereby the eldest in a tribe was over the rest. And to have this one man 
and this conclave to be peculiarly designed for the church universal, is more 
practicable ; for if there were such an institution, who would not rather think 
that there should be one man, or some men, whose business should be set 
apart to watch over all in common, with apostolic promise made to them, 
than that those that have charges of their own little congregations (which 
congregations are to be the main of their care) should be all catholic elders ? 
That other way the church would be easily governed, for particular pastors 
would only have the care of particular churches, and one man perhaps, toge- 
gether with others singled out, should be appointed for nothing else but the 
public ; whereas this principle would make it every man's care, and so no 
man's, or divide them between the general and their particular charges. 

8. Then you would have all the inconveniences of an aristocracy in the 
government of so great a body, which will prove equal to those of a monarchy ; 
for, first, all heresies have ever been from the clergy and their divisions ; and 
secondly, the church would ordinarily this way want a supreme government, 
which the other way of one man would be constant in ; and thirdly, divisions 
would not so easily be allayed. So as indeed it is more rational (if this 
principle had been true, that the great body of the church universal should 
be a politic body), that Christ should have instituted a constant conclave for 
the government of it under some one man. 

Lastly, it would make the clergy the catholic church in the creed, for to 
' tell the church,' if it be a politic body, is to tell these elders which represent 
the whole ; yea, by this you would make two churches, one of the elders, 
another of the faithful ; and if you distinguish it yet further into the visible 
and invisible, you make three. And then, as for that catholic church of the 
elders, they would be a fit body for the pope presently to be head of them, 
and to step into the throne, for the pope and the popish clergy make that 
one beast mentioned in the Kevelation. 

2. This principle would hinder all reformation, if practised according to 
the law of it, and prove all reformed churches schismatics. For if there 
were, de jure, a general assembly of all Grecian, Egyptian, Ethiopic, Persian 
Christians, and they would set down the doctrine which we shall all be con- 
fined to, and we should be, by the law of the universal catholic politic 
church, obliged to an uniformity with them, or with the greater part of them, 
as well as now we think ourselves to be with the reformed churches, how 
would this set the clock of reformation back ! And yet, according to this 
principle, we are more bound to the law of uniformity to this general body 
than we are to any particulars. For institution doth fall first, according to 
this notion, upon the church universal, and therefore the law of it would 
oblige more ; and so, if we refuse to do this, we should make ourselves 
schismatics from the great ordinance and institution of Christ. Yea, this 
must have been the law of reforming churches in all ages with respect to the 
church universal. For the law is perpetual, and is at no time dispensable ; 

Chap. I.] the churches of christ. 187 

for Christ is with his own ordinances to the end of the world. If Luther 
had been bound up by this law, how had the church been reformed ? We 
should not have gained that in seven hundred years that he did in twenty. 
Yea, if this synod* had been so chosen by the law of the universal church, 
as to take in the ministers of all England, so that the law were to call all, 
one as well as another (for one and all are ministers as well as churches) 
this would have spoiled your reformation. And besides, this would make us 
all schismatics by our national covenant, for if we were under the law of the 
church universal as a poUtic body, we do make a separation from this law 
by combining oui'selves only with reformed churches, that are so small and 
inconsiderable a part of the church universal. 

3. It justifies non-residency, or makes non-residence jure divino; for 
ministers, being elders of a church universal by a prior institution, can never 
be absent from their flock. And every man may pretend, for a more general 
service of the whole, whereof he is a member, that the lesser should give 
way. And this was the chief grounds for non-residency in the bishops' times, 
that every man was a minister of the church of England in general, and so 
he might serve the whole ; and therefore, though he were a professor in the 
university, he was serving the whole church, and so he might hold other 
livings too, and yet be absent from them. 

4. It layeth a foundation of bringing in a foreign power to bind all or any 
of the kingdoms in Europe. It will bind any ; for the greater part of the re- 
formed churches, if we should go no further, may challenge, by virtue of this 
ordinance and institution, that what they agree upon we all should receive. 

Obj. But you will say still, that tlie magistrate may still call those uni- 
versal elders to meet in a council, or not call them. 

Ans. 1. But still, if this be an ordinance, they are to call themselves ; it 
is their duty, they are to assume it if the magistrate neglect. And, 
, Ans. 2. However, when they are called, they may impose their canons. 

Ans. 3. The magistrate is bound to be subject, for they are Christians, and 
so pars ecdesice, and so to be subject to this ordinance, for they have not a 
power to break the ordinance of Christ ; and they are not to resist it, for 
there is a law of Christ's institution upon it. If it be but consultive to the 
magistrate, then they say no more than we ; if obligatory, then it bindeth, 
and then they must either take the magistrates into the council as members 
also, which is the usual salvo for it, and so they are parts of the parliament 
and commonwealth, which hinders the freeness of the vote of the ecclesiastic 
persons ; and then, if the major part which carry it be not the magistrates, 
but ministers, as usually they are, then the magistrates, in their civil 
assemblies, when they come to confirm it, are bound either to ratify it or not. 
If not, then the authority of the synod is but consultive to them ; if they be 
bound, then this synod is a superior power to the king and state, and this 
within their own dominions, by virtue of this catholic principle. And then, 
without their dominions, the greater number of churches will oblige both the 
one and the other, and is a power over princes ; yea, and a foreign power 
may be brought in hereby, and as well as by popery, only with this difter- 
ence (if you cut off infallibility), that there is but one man, the pope, buf 
here an aristocracy of divines. 

Lastly, any among us would not be more bound to the elders of our own 

churches than to the bishops and elders of eastern churches, if there was to 

be found more of the catholic church, or a greater part among them ; for 

hereby I have as good a warrant and authority to cleave to them. Co- 

* The assembly of divines at Westminster. 


habitation doth not oblige me to my own elders, when the institution is 
universal all the world over. 

Those places that are ordinarily alleged, 1 Cor. xii. 28, and Eph. iv., 
although they import communion amongst churches, by virtue of that 
catholic obligation, yet none of them hold forth that that catholic church is 
a politic body. Indeed, it is said there that God hath set up apostles, &c., 
in that church ; but it is as a man may say, he hath set up kings and 
emperors in the world ; it doth not therefore follow that the whole world is 
one politic body, and all the kings and emperors have an authority over the 
universe, but only partitive in their several dominions. 

And the communion which the members are obliged unto, and the bands 
and ties there mentioned, are not only between the saints and the churches, 
and the officers thereof now extant, and existing in the world ; the catholic 
state of the church in all ages is implied, with whom we profess to hold a 
communion now, and we ought to do it as well as with the churches now 
extant. And that is clearly the scope in Eph. iv., and 1 Cor. xii. 28, for 
he speaks of prophets and evangelists, pastors and teachers, that are given 
to build up the churches in the faith, until the coming of Christ, every age 
being knit unto another by certain bands and ties ; and the church in 
every age receiving a benefit by the pastors and teachers, and by the pro- 
phets and apostles, and their writings in former ages ; and in all ages they 
have conspired so far as to preserve fundamental truths. And from those 
places it may as well be argued, that pastors and teachers, and general 
councils in former ages, have a juridical power upon all the churches after- 
ward, as that the present churches have, for he speaks both of the one and 
the other as one totum complexum. 

Ohj. And if it be said that the apostles were ministers of the church 
universal, having jurisdiction over the whole universal church ; therefore 
once the whole universal church was a politic body in their time, and why 
not now ? it is thus answered : 

Alls. 1. Besides the difierence of apostles and other elders, elsewhere 
spoken of, even to the apostles themselves all the churches universal did 
not make one politic body, to be governed in common ; but the apostles 
still, as they came to several churches, had power in all those churches 
severally apart, so as all those churches are not called one church, no, not 
in respect of the apostles' government. But this opinion of the universal 
cathohc church being a body politic to all these elders, would make it to be 
in order to a combination under those elders as one whole politic body, 
govei'ned by them in common, and in and by common assemblies ; whereas 
the apostles, severally and apart, had, in all these churches, the power still 
as they came occasionally ; and therefore to assert that particular churches, 
having their particular eldership, by whom they are governed, make up one 
mystical church, is in this to answer the pattern of the apostles' government 
itself, that as the whole church then was not governed by the apostles as a 
whole chui'ch, but only by parts, — that is, the particular churches by an 
apostle as he came into it, or as he had occasion to write to it, — that so 
now this whole church is also by parts governed, that is, the particular 
churches are governed by their several elders, having jurisdiction therein, 
and therein only. And if unto apostles themselves, this whole church was 
not a politic body, taken as one, then much less to elders of particular 

2. And also, further, the meaning of that place in 1 Cor. xii. 28 is not 
that every elder hath an authoritative politic jurisdiction in all churches, as 
occasion is, which is evident by this, because other particulars are there 

Chap. I.] the churches of christ. 189 

mentioned, as, namely, ruling elders and deacons (whicli our brethren do un- 
derstand by those words, helps and governments, for so it is in the original), 
so then they also should be officers, as deacons, and as governors in all 
churches also. And therefore his meaning is only this, it is as if it should 
be said, in a commonwealth he hath set noblemen and judges, &c., who 
have the power in the whole, and every part of a kingdom ; and he hath set 
justices of peace, and constables, and headboroughs, &c., but it would not 
follow, that as the noblemen and judges have power in every part, so the 
ordinary justices of peace, and every constable or headborough hath ; and 
yet, if from that place they would argue, that ordinary elders have power in all 
churches, as elders, they must also acknowledge deacons to have the like. 

3. And that place in Ephes. iv. speaks of pastors and teachers, in respect 
of doctrine, and therefore mentioneth only those that did labour in the word 
and doctrine, such as prophets and evangelists, pastors and teachers ; and 
speaks of their being ordained to keep that unity of the faith ; and therefore 
speaks only of their doctrinal power, not of their judicial power of acts of 

4. And it is farther to be considered, that when it is said that he had set 
apostles, &c., in the church, he speaks not of officers in the concrete, or of 
this and that church, in this or that age ; but he speaks of church and of 
officers in the abstract, he speaks of the kind ; and so answerably we read, 
Eph. iv. 8, ' He gave gifts to men,' that is, to such officers in the abstract. 

6. The general church receive th pastors and teachers, but as formed up 
into particulars, therefore they are set in it only partitive ; and though the 
church is said to be the subject in which they are set, yet not as a collective 
body, and therefore they do not make up a general government. 

Ohj. It may be objected, that the apostles are said to be the church uni- 

Ans. 1. They are not set in it as a collective body ; and if they were, yet 
as all pastors cannot supply the office of an apostle, when met all together, 
so they are not set as apostles, as the apostles were. The earls in a king- 
dom are set otherwise in a kingdom than the constables are ; and therefore 
the meeting of all the constables in a kingdom cannot make up one office of 
an earl, or the relation they have in the whole kingdom. 

2. The apostles were executively set in particular churches only, and so 
the whole church was not one church, in relation to them, nor did all churches 
make up one church, in relation to them, for a government. 

Then, 3, we acknowledge that they may be all set in this body as apostles 
and as elders, and that by virtue of communion of churches ; and if you will 
keep it in that mystical way, they are to be respected as elders of such and 
such churches, by all the churches of the world. 

As it is again objected out of those places, Eph. iv. and 1 Cor. xii., that 
the gifts there, that are given to the church, are not proper and peculiar to 
the elect. 

Ans. It is true ; but yet, though they are not given only to those who are 
elect in the issue, and in the event, yet they are given only to those that were 
visibly such unto men, and to be taken for such ; and such as, if we had 
jived in those times, would have been to be accounted saints by us. All that 
are true members of churches we are to look upon as elect, for they are elect 
to us ; and therefore he writes to the ' church elect in Babylon.' They are 
all saints to us, and so they are visibly such that make the visible church. 
And that the visible church there, though consisting of men that in issue 
proved not the elect, is yet under the notion of such as are, appeareth by 
this, that they are said to drink into one Spirit, that is, into the Holy Ghost, 


alluding to the receiving of the sacrament ; because that none should be sup- 
posed to be of that catholic visible body, or of particular bodies of churches, 
but such as are supposed to partake of the Holy Ghost, as every true saint 
doth. And the drinking into one Spirit there cannot be meant of extraordi- 
nary gifts, which may be supposed to be given to reprobates, because the 
Spirit in extraordinary gifts is not received by the sacrament. 

Obj. Whereas it is said, that the elders and the officers are given to the 
whole universal church, therefore that is a politic body ; I answer, that by 
the same reason mankind should be a politic body also, for they are said to 
be given to men, Eph. iv., and the gifts that are there said to be given to 
men, are not to be understood of the inherent gifts or qualifications, in 
respect of those men they are given unto (as the grace of an apostleship to 
an apostle), but it is meant of men giftedly put into office, given unto other 
men, or to mankind ; which appeareth by this, because they are given by* 
conversion, before men are of the catholic body, as well as for building up 
after they are in it. 

It is again objected, that 1 Cor. xii. it is said, that the members are to 
' Honour one another, that there be no schisms in the body,' ver. 25 ; 'If 
one member suffer, all the members sufier with it,' ver. 26. 

A)is. As there is a double body or church to Christ, the one mystical and 
the other instituted, so there is a double union, the one mystical, though 
external, and the other more special for government and jurisdiction. And 
the same things that are spoken of the duty of members in a body instituted, 
that are a body to Christ in particular, as the apostle afterward distinguish- 
eth, are due also to all saints by virtue of their mystical relation. And we 
find that the apostles indeed do argue the instance of the communion of the 
body catholic, which is between all saints, to exemplify and to illustrate the 
duties that are to be between saints, in a particular body so joined ; yet by 
way of similitude, but not oneness for kind. And because also all the duties of 
love, which, in particular congregations, the members are to perform one to 
another, are duties by a mystical relation, as well as by that special obliga- 
tion ; yet they are bound to them by an obligation, beyond that of the mys- 
tical relation, which they bear to all saints in the world. For though the 
church mystical universal affordeth matter for such an instituted congrega- 
tional church, yet that they should thus meet in Christ's name is a super- 
added form to this matter, and lays a further obhgation upon the members. 


That the institution for icorship and government faUeth not upon the saints in 
a nation, qua nation or kingdom, as the seat of it. 

Though the pattern of the Jewish church be urged to prove such a na- 
tional church, yet it will not serve the turn. 

1. For it was not therefore a church, because a nation, but because there 
were no more nations that God had chosen, nor would choose till Christ 
came ; and therefore if any other turned proselyte, they were to turn Jews, 
and to be as natives. 

2. The instance of the Jewish church will rather serve for the proof of 
an universal church, than for any evidence that there should be as many 
churches as there be nations. When the Jews did turn Christians, they were 
the same nation, yet the apostles do nowhere write to them as a national 
church. They write not to the church of Judea, but the churches. 

* Qu. 'for'?— Ed. 

Chap. II.] the churches of christ. 191 

3. That the church of the Jews was a type of the churches in nations, as 
nations, let that be shewn. We can shew that the whole nation and temple 
worship was a type of congregations, and that ' royal nation' (as that whole 
nation was then called), and the ' holy priesthood,' is a type of the saints in 
all nations. 

4. God at first set up a church government, suitable to that of a kingdom, 
and suited unto the government of a world ; that policy is therefore called 
the elements of this world, unto which the church in the New Testament is 
not to be conformed, Rom. xii. 

5. And then, when there was a national church, there was a worship for 
the whole nation, as a nation, to come unto, and so a government in the 
place that God should choose for all to appeal unto ; but there are no such 
orders now. 

6. If the institution do fall upon them, it must fall upon them either as 
they are a church in a kingdom, or as a kingdom ; but not as a church in 
a kingdom, for qua church, there is a greater church out of that kingdom, 
namely, the universal, 

7. This opinion, though it seems indeed calculated to comply with magis- 
tracy, for it divideth the independency of government according to the divi- 
sion of the supreme power of magistrates, and so would seem to fence them 
from any external power, from any other kingdoms or churches, yet it makes 
the church-power in that kingdom independent upon the magistrate ; and 
that united into a greater body would be too hard for them, whereas the dis- 
persing it into particular congregations makes it easily wieldable. 

Neither doth the institution fall upon a conformity, either to the extent or 
to the government of cities, as those who are for episcopacy have intended, 
and some presbyterial divines also, and both upon the same grounds, although 
with this difference, that the bishops would have the government of churches 
to be conformed to that of the cities, taking in the villages about them, and 
so to make a diocese and a diocesan church ; but those for the presbytery 
contract it to the extent of a city within itself, and so make a classical church ; 
the opinions of either differing in this respect only, viz., the point of extent 
of larger and lesser jurisdiction, the one confined within the city walls, the 
other extending without. 

1. Because, if it were so, then the conformity either must fall upon the 
government of cities, or the bounds of the place ; that look what extent 
either the government or bounds of the local circuit of cities have, the same 
extent should your classical presbyteries have, conformable thereunto, and in 
asserting either unavoidable absurdities would follow. 

1. To make the government conformable to the government of cities, as 
their extent should fall out, is to make a worldly government the pattern of 
ecclesiastical, is wholly to conform spiritual government to the government 
of the world ; and then the same degrees of ofiicers of superiority and 
inferiority that is in cities, should be in ecclesiastical government. 

2. The conformity must rather fall upon the bounds of the governments 
of cities, than upon the circuit or material consideration, because that which 
makes it a city is the government of it, whether the bounds of it be within 
the walls, or other towns about it, whether it extend to a larger circuit or 
to a less. 

3. It must either fall upon a city, as having many congregations in it ; 
and if so, it might as well have fallen upon villages in the country, capable 
by association to be many churches as well ; and the one would be as uncer- 
tain as the other, because there may be many congregations in the one as 
well as in the other. Or else, 2, it must fall upon the form of the govern- 


ment of cities. Or else, 3, upon cities of such and such a circuit, and some 
cities greater and some lesser ; that would be uncertain also, because some 
cities are greater and some lesser. 

2. The foundation of this assertion cannot be a conformity to the govern- 
ment of the cities amongst the Jews ; for, 1, the villages among the Jews 
had a government in them as well as the cities. 2. Suppose that the go- 
vernment of the Gentiles, in their cities, was not conformed to the government 
of the Jews in their cities (which may well be supposed), for the government 
of the Gentiles was oftentimes to have whole empires under the government 
of a city ; so Rome had, and then all the world under Rome, whilst it was 
a city government, must have been one classical church ; or, however, among 
the Gentiles, the cities were the head of a whole province, and of all the 
villages under it, and it is so in many cities at this day ; and that would 
make for a diocesan government, and not presbyterial. 

If thus the bounds cannot be fixed, we are still to seek even in cities what 
should be the bounds, and are as uncertain as in villages. So as the con- 
clusion is, the bounds according to this measure are uncertain. 

3. G-od doth not shape a spiritual government unto the political, and the 
bounds thereof. Political government goes by the bounds of the soil, so 
doth not the spiritual. All that do live within such a place, or within such 
a country, because they are of that soil, fall under the same political govern- 
ment ; but there is no reason that they should fall under the same spiritual. 

4. If the frame of the church were to be conformed to the city government, 
then, as the city did take in the suburban towns, the daughters round about, 
60 the church should not be confined only to the compass of the city, but 
extend to a whole province, as the bishops argue for a diocesan church. 

5. Christ's government is suitable to all ages, times, and places ; but now 
in all ages and places there is not the city government, and there could not 
be the same rule for the government of churches in villages, and therefore it 
did not suit all places. 

G. Jesus Christ's way is rather conformed to the synagogue way, for so 
the churches are called, and it is therefore conformed to the government of 
the synagogues, although in cities. 

7. If this were the ordinance of God, to conform church government to 
the government of cities, then all in London should make one church, 
because it is but one city ; and Alexandria and Grand Cairo, if it were con- 
verted, would be so too, nay, Rome itself (whereof the present Rome is but 
the tenth part of what it was, as Lipsius shews) must have been but one 
church if they had been all converted ; and there should have been but one 
classical presbytery to have governed all the churches there. Yea, in some 
places there are two cities built together that have the privileges of cities, 
as Constantinople and Galata, London and Westminster, the two Pragues ; 
yea, Jerusalem had the city of David within it, and so there must have been 
two classical presbyteries in Jerusalem from the first ; for those of the city 
of David might have challenged the privilege of it if the church had been 
conformed to a city government ; and perhaps that was the reason why we 
read of two companies of the three-and-twenty elders that did sit in Jeru- 
salem, because each city had an eldership of twenty-three ; and so there 
being two cities in that one, that of David and the other of Jerusalem itself, 
there might be two elderships for those two cities, besides their great 

8. When cities are decayed and do lessen, and are brought low, it may be 
to as small a number of inhabitants as villages ; yet they often retain their 
privileges as cities, as many decayed incorporations do. Now then, if there 

Chap. II.] the churches of christ. 193 

were but one congregation left in such a lessened city, it would claim, by 
virtue of this city, privilege to be entire within itself. 

Ohj. But the apostle hath said, in Tit. i., * Ordain elders in every city,' 
and that is parallel with that in Acts xiv., ' They ordain elders in every 
church,' holding forth the pattern of a city, and the government thereof for 
the bounds of it, to be set for that of a church. 

Ans. 1. That place in Acts xiv., ' in every church,' hath relation, as well to 
chui'ches in villages as in cities ; and so to churches in those first times of 
the gospel, that consisted of no more than might meet in one place ; and, 
therefore, as well it may be interpreted, that there was but as many as would 
make but one church in every city, as suiting the phrase of his direction, in 
relation to what number of Christians were supposed to be in each city of 
Crete, when first Titus came thither in the beginning of the gospel ; and this 
number may well be supposed to be no more than could make up one con- 
gregation, and it was well if so too. 

A71S. 2. Oi'dinary elders in every church implies farther, that if there were 
more churches to be in a city, that then he should ordain the elders, Kar' 
sx.xXrisiav, to every church apart. 

Ans. 3. That it is so appears ; because, as hath been shewn, by ToXig, city, 
is meant small towns as well as cities. 

Ans. 4. The reason why his direction runs to ordain elders in every city, 
was because, though they did preach the gospel in villages, yet principally in 
cities at the first, because they were to leaven the countries. And the 
apostles, when they did write to churches in a province, did use to write to 
the church of the head city, as more eminent, not because that was either a 
mother church, as the bishops say, or a classical church of more churches, 
as the presbyterians say, but because it was more eminent, and from it the 
epistle might be spread to others, as Paul's Epistle to the Colossians was 
ordered to be sent to Laodicea, which was, in all likelihood, a less city than 
Colosse. And thus, when they write to the churches of Syria and Cilicia, 
Acts XV., they write especially to Antioch. So when he would write to all 
the churches about Corinth, he nameth especially the church of Corinth, 
together with them ; and wrappeth up all the rest thus, ' and all that call 
upon the name of the Lord.' 

Ohj. It was the ordination of the apostles in the primitive times, that all 
in a city should be one church, both because the distinction of churches, 
and also their names, are taken from the city, as the church of Ephesus, &c. 
And therefore, whether in one consideration or more, whether for the present 
or for the time to come, the saints, in such and such a city, were to be one 
church ; and a congregational church they could not be, therefore a distinc- 
tion of a classical church was intended by a church in cities. And the elders 
had charge given them, to take care of that whole city to convert them. And 
to this pattern of a city government were the villages also to be conformed, 
several villages making an association into one church, as those cities did. 
• Ans. 1. To the first part of the objection I answer, that they are called 
one church in a city, and so distinguished. Because there was but one church 
for the present, as in Acts xiii. 1, Kara rr\v ovsav s-/,xXrisiav, ' the church exist- 
ing at' Antioch, that is, which at present was there ; it doth not follow that 
all the churches, that should afterwards be th^e, should be but one church. 
So as Bains saith, there is an adequate acception of these phrases, per acci- 
dens, not because the city and church was to make but one church, but 
because the Christians, by occasion of their number, not being then too great, 
were formed into one church, not because there was to be but one. Now he, 



who thus uscth ihem promiscuously, doth imply that one church was as yet 
constituted ; not that there was to be but one, through the circuit of a city, 
suburbs, and country. Thus likewise it is easily answered to the purpose of 
the proposition, for thus the multitude of citizens, converted and unconverted, 
could not be a church of one congregation ; yet the number of those who, 
in city, suburbs, or territories, were actually converted, was no more than 
might be ordered into one church ; and the apostles framing these into one, 
on the present occasion, did not exclude the after-constituting of any other 
within the same local bounds. But if there had been more, there would have 
been other ways to have distinguished them ; as when there were many syna- 
gogues in a city, they were distinguished (for all the synagogues could not 
have been called by the name of that one city, so nor the congregations) ; 
and perhaps that was the reason why that a school, which was a kind of a 
synagogue, was, for distinction's sake, called the school of Tyrannus, as being 
the ruler of it. 

Alls. 2. If that were a reason, then also the name of a village or smaller 
town, as that of Cenchrea, would make as strong an argument, that in every 
small town, if there be a church there, that it should be one entire church 
(having the government wholly in itself), as well as that many congregations 
in a city should become one church for government. 

Ans. 3. The name of a church, in a city, is not taken simply from the 
city, but from the people ; as in the Revelation, the church of the Smyrnians, 
and of the Laodiceans, &c. Suppose they had removed (as in those times, 
through persecution, they often did) to some other city, they would have 
been the church of the Smyrnians, as well as the church at Arnheim was 
called the English church ; so as the name doth not refer simply to a city, 
and the bounds thereof. And when there was a church of strangers, of Aquila 
and Priscilla, &c., in Rome, it is called the church in their house ; and so 
also when they were removed to Ephesus, it bore the same name, to distin- 
guish it from the church of the Ephesians. It is one exception against us, 
that when we say the bounds of a church should be so many as can meet in 
one place, we hereby do fetch the constitution of a church fi'om what is 
merely external and accidental to it ; and the exception were true, if we fetch 
it from any one set or standing place, or house of meeting ; but we fetch it 
from that which is essential to a church, which is oneness of communion in 
ordinances together, meeting with one accord, as in the Acts their meetings 
are characterised, which, because it cannot be done unless they do meet in 
some place or other, hence we so express it, not as that thing the ordination 
is set upon, but as the necessary consequent or adjunct. But this exception 
made against us falls fully and directly upon them that would make a city 
the extent, either of the local bounds or the government thereof, a pattern or 
measure of a classical church, and the institution of it. 

If many churches had been in one city, they might have been distinguished 
by the names of some of the rulers, or as now they are by the streets, or 
places of their constant meetings ; for as if the Holy Ghost doth write to the 
angel of the church of Ephesus, as if the king doth write to the city of Lon- 
don, he should entitle his letter to the mayor and aldermen, as writing to the 
whole corporation in their names, so also might several chui-ches in cities 
have been as well distinguished by the names of their rulers, and of their 
elders and pastors, as Tyrannus his school was. And there are other reasons 
why in that case the names should be taken from the place ; for cohabitation 
and dwelling together in a place, we acknowledge is a ground why the saints, 
so far as possibly they can, should meet in one church-fellowship, and not 
make several fellowships. And we much rather think that still the denomi- 

Chap. II.] the chukches of ohrist. 195 

nation of one church in a city did hold forth this rule, that in all cities, the 
saints dwelling together, and so elsewhere, should make as big churches as 
they could, to shew their unity, and to make the worship more solemn, and 
to have more of the assistance of the Holy Ghost ; and therefore they should 
not make many congregations where there might be one only. 

Alls. 4. To the second part of the objection, concerning the conversion 
which the elders are to take care of, I answer, 1. To preach is one thing, to 
censure is another. And, besides, at that rate of arguing, all those that a 
man begets to Christ, he hath therefore authority over, to rule them, to be 
their minister. 2. The elders at Ephesus indeed had a charge as elders, 
by way of government over the whole flock, the church that God had re- 
deemed by his blood, that is, of those that were converted ; and although 
that they were to endeavour to convert others (for how should the gospel 
otherwise be propagated), yet if more had been converted, then there must 
have been churches multiplied, but still in the uniform frame that this first 
church was, having the same privileges, and so to have new elders placed 
over them, as over a new flock. And, besides, they are not called elders of 
Ephesus, but elders of the church at Ephesus, The care of elders set in a 
city to convert, was to be extended as well to the neighbour villages as to 
the cities, especially then when they had gained as yet but few in a city, and 
then by this reason those in the villages were obliged to be associated with 
them, as well as those in a city, although all the city should also be con- 
verted, especially if those in the villages were the first converts ; and this is 
one of the episcopal grounds for a diocesan church ; they in efiect tell the 
same story for the rearing up of episcopal government. 

Ans. 5. To the third part of the objection we reply, that the way of consti- 
tution of churches under the gospel, being uniform according to Christ's insti- 
tution, both in villages and cities, it is therefore squared as well to the 
condition of the one as the other, and therefore a church in a village may as 
well be made the pattern for the constituting of churches in a city, as a 
church in a city for forming one in a village. But Christ hath framed his 
institution so as will serve both ; and the certain rules for both are the due 
bounds of a church set (whereof there are many sure and certain characters 
in the word, from the nature and thing itself), that so many as dwell to- 
gether, that can conveniently meet in one place, should become one church. 

We grant (as Bains in the like case, page 12, conclusion 2, concerning a 
diocesan church) that God might have made this pattern of city government 
an ordinance of church government, as he did once take a family govern- 
ment under the old law, and made that a church, and extended the bounds 
still by a family, as they grew either greater or lesser ; but as then, if a 
man's family had spread into many families, though he was the priest of all 
these families in public worship, because he was the eldest of the family, 
whilst he lived, yet that would not have been a binding law to several other 
families living together, that had not sprung one from another, that they 
should have come under the same law of association that the others did. 
And therefore, though this were granted concerning cities, it would not fol- 
low that the villages must be conformed thereunto. 



That the external institutions of Christ, for the government of his saints under 
the New Testament, are not the same that was under the law, nor can the 
government of the Jewish church be made a certain rule for the government 
of the church of Christ. 

There are many things that were commanded to the Jews which are obH- 
gatory to us Christians, though there are also many things which were rules 
and laws to them which are not so to us. It will therefore be necessary, 
in stating the case first, to shew what is equally binding to us both. 

1. All such duties as depend not upon institution, but are duties belong- 
ing to the first commandment, as to pray, to hear the word, to give thanks, 
must needs continue as well under the New Testament as under the Old, 
and are the same. 

2. Such things as then had a morality in them, yet if the morality was 
only by mere institution, which depends upon the will of God (which divines 
call moral positions), even such institutions, in their own individual nature, 
cannot be urged upon us as rules. As to instance in that of the Sabbath 
day : if any should infer that that seventh day should be the Sabbath day 
under the New Testament which was the seventh after the creation, it would 
be a false reasoning, although, indeed, the institution of the seventh day to 
be the Sabbath was not ceremonial merely, but had a morality in it, for 
it was from the creation. The two sacraments of circumcision and the pass- 
over had assuredly, besides the ceremonialness annexed to them, the insti- 
tution of typifying of Christ to come (which circumcision did by blood, and 
being administered the eighth day) ; these sacraments signifying Jesus 
Christ, the substance of them must needs be moral, and that by institution, 
as well as ours are now, as in 1 Cor. x. 1, 2, ' They did all eat of the same 
spiritual meat (the same spiritual manna), and all drank of the same spiritual 
drink.' But yet it doth not follow that the same sacraments for substance 
(cutting off the ceremonial part) should continue, but God was pleased to 
institute other two in their rooms. 

3. Yet whatsoever was moral in the substance of the Jewish institution 
then, there is this equality, that Jesus Christ should institute something in 
the room of it in the New Testament. As for example, because there was 
an high priest, because there was an house of God then, the apostle there- 
fore argues (Heb. xx. 21-26), that we, having an high priest over the house 
of God, there are assemblies to be now as well as then ; but that these assem- 
blies should be formed up, and cast into the same latitude and extent, and 
the like, which their assemblies had then, herein a new institution putteth 
the difference. They had national assemblies then, not so now ; the priests 
were maintained by tithes and ofierings then ; the equity of this continueth, 
and the apostle urgeth it in his epistle to the Corinthians, but yet it followeth 
not that their maintenance now should be the same way. And although 
there was a moral equality in it, yet the apostle superaddeth, ' So I ordain 
in all the churches,' 1 Cor. vii. 17. 

4. When the gospel hath once made an institution in the room of w^hat 
was under the law (as it hath done baptism instead of circumcision, though 
not exactly on the same moral ground, yet on the same evangelical ground, 
as baptism was the substance extant, under the type of circumcision), this 
will warrant the application of baptism unto like infant children now, when 
the gospel itself also holds forth the same privilege for substance unto such 
children now as it did then, and renews the same promise to them, though 

Chap. III.] the churches of cheist. 197 

in an evangelical way, far differing from that in the Old Testament, which 
contained a tj-picalness in it. And this is not to raise up a new institution, 
it is only the application of an institution to a person, and that also when 
the gospel holds forth the same ground which the law did. But if any would 
reason, that because there was a circumcision under the law, a sacrament of 
initiation into the church, therefore there must be the same under the gospel 
(if they cannot shew that Jesus hath appointed it for the continuing of such 
an institution), the argument from the Old will not hold ; or if they would 
argue, that it should be administered in the same latitude ; or that the same 
persons who did administer circumcision under the Old Testament may ad- 
minister baptism now, we believe our brethren will not concede to it, though 
the argument will be as strong one way as the other, for the father of the 
family might circumcise them, and did, but they would have only ministers 
to baptize now ; and they too circumcised them in their families, and did not 
bring their children to the temple. 

5. That the laws of the Old Testament do help up to regulate many in- 
stitutions in the New, we acknowledge (as likewise the laws of nature do), 
but they will not be warrant sufficient to set up the like. So the rules of 
the judicial law, concerning the punishments of criminal acts, that none 
should be condemned under two or three witnesses ; these rules will serve 
unto, and perhaps ought to be received by, every state (as some have held) to 
regulate their proceedings against malefactors. But yet unto Jewish policy 
(take it for the government of it, and the ranks of officers among them, and 
power they had), nations are not bound so, as though the rules of equity, 
whereby that policy did proceed, were perpetual, yet the question remains 
still of the power. That ministers should be maintained, as they were then, 
the equity of the law holds, but it will no way follow, that there should be 
the same ranks of ministers. 

6. That the New Testament entitles some of those ordinances that itself 
hath anew instituted, with the same names and words used in the Old Tes- 
tament, argues not that those ordinances are to be framed and formed ac- 
cording to the analogy of the old, but they have the same names, because 
that the old were types of these. Thus that our ordinances now are called 
sacrifices ; that Christ is called an high priest ; that the officers of the 
cTiurch are called a presbytery ; that excommunication is called a purging 
out the old leaven, and many such hke, in the evangelist : all this will not 
prove that there should be sacrifices, high priests, &c., under the New Tes- 
tament. In the evangelist, Christ, speaking of the teachers of the New 
Testament, saith. Mat. xxiii. 34, ' I will send you wise men, and scribes,' 
&c. ; but yet it follows not that the orders oi the officers of the New Testa- 
ment should be answerable to the wise men, and the scribes ; so when a 
believer or a church is called the temple of God, when the saints are called 
a royal nation, and the like, no inference can be made, that there should 
be now a temple and a national church. 

7. There were many things which are moral now, that were not moral 
then. To cast out of the church for moral sins, as such, q}ia moral, is the 
law of Christ now ; but under the old law, they did not keep men from 
ordinances for sins as moral, but as having a ceremonial uncleanness annexed 
to them. No man is to put his wife away now because she is a heathen, 
bnt they were to put their wives away then, if heathens, after Moses his 
law was settled. In destroying matters of idolatry, they were to be much 
stricter than we are bound to be, as meats sacrificed to idols, they were in 
no place to eat thereof. Daniel refused the king's meat ; but out of the 
idol's temple, we may cat things that have been sacrificed to idols, as the 


apostle saith. They were to destroy all the temples and groves, &c., but 
if places have been abused to idolatry, we under the gospel may make use 
of them ; they were to destroy the Canaanites out of the land, not we so 
now ; they were to burn idolaters' goods, as in Jericho, &c., not so now. 

Having thus made way by these particulars premised, I shall now prove 
my proposition, that the Jewish economy is no pattern or rule for modelling 
the church of Christ, under the gospel. 

1. ' The priesthood being changed, there is a necessity of a change of the 
law,' Heb. vii. 12, and so of the law of the government, which depends on 
Christ's priestly office. We having a new high priest over the house of 
God, we have a new order in this house. For he is the apostle and high 
priest of our profession, and it was meet it should appear he was the new 
high priest, by altering the institution for worship and government. So 
then that old law, which depended upon institutions, as the high priesthood 
itself did, is to be changed, and a new law of institutions is to come in the 
room of it; and therefore in the Heb. ix. 10, it is called a reformation, and 
the time of the gospel is called ' the time of reformation.' 

2. That Jewish frame and form of government is called the elements of 
the world; and therefore, both in Col. ii. and Eom. xii., the apostle bids 
us under the gospel not to be conformed, neither for worship nor govern- 
ment (further than as Jesus Christ hath been pleased to take what was 
before and make it anew) to the elements of the world. So in Gal. iv. 2, 3, 
he saith, they were under tutors and governors till they came to be of man's 
estate, or to be of age ; which under the gospel they are in comparison. 
And, indeed, the gospel being more spiritual, the frame of the government, 
and institutions of it, are not formed to a worldly way to governments of 
nations and of kingdoms, as that was then, to an outward external glory, as 
their worship also was. As God hath chosen the preaching of the word, which 
is foolishness, so he hath also chosen many of those things which are vile, and 
base, and contemptible, and a foolishness of government in comparison of 
what was then. And this is it deceiveth the world ; for the gospel is a 
mystery throughout. He chooseth the synagogue, and not the temple ; he 
chooseth a congregation and eldership, and not the Sanhedrim ; he chooseth 
baptism, and not circumcision, &c. 

3. Our Lord and Saviour speaks altogether of a new church to be made, 
a church gathered in his name : as when he instituted baptism, to shew that 
it was a new ordinance, he bids them baptize in his name ; so, to shew that 
he erected a frame of a new church, he bids that it should be gathered in 
his name. 

4. Our brethren's principles, that hold the universal church to be the seat 
and subject of Christ's institution, argue' this ; for as his church now over 
all nations, both Jew and Gentile, is a differing seat from that of the Jew 
only, so answerably, to set in his church apostles and prophets, &c., instead 
of chief priests, &c., is a new institution ; and it is certain, that that church 
whereof the apostle speaks, 1 Cor. xii. Eph. iv., is the church of the New 
Testament. And therefore, if the church universal being a poHtic, be argued 
from thence, it is by a new institution differing from the former, because 
the church of the New Testament, which he speaks of there, began with the 
apostles. And besides the institution fell upon the church of the Jews qua 
national, but this falls upon the church qua universal, in all nations, else 
it would not extend to all nations to be equal standers in it ; whereas, under 
the law, they were not to be so with the Jews, but were to come under that 
national covenant only when proselyted. 

4. There seems to have been several sorts of policies and orders extant 

Chap. III.] the churches of christ. 199 

under the Old Testament ; and unto which of these should the conformity 
now be made ? By what rules should we now judge ? 

(1.) There were chief rulers over several bodies of the priests and 
Levites, to which government, the bishops say, their order is an allusion. 
There was also a power in these priests and Levites, proper and peculiar to 
them, to judge of the clean and unclean, and concerning the matters of 
worship in the temple. And this government was purel}' ecclesiastical ; and 
unto this therefore, rather should the analogy refer of matters in the 
church, seeing that these were purely such. 

, (2.) Again, there were the civil judicatures in their cities and towns, and 
in their great Sanhedrim at Jerusalem, for all controversies within their 
gates, as the distinction is in Deut. xvii. Yet these were all* ecclesiastical, 
but indeed mixed both in respect of causes and persons ; their church and 
commonwealth being so mixed, as it is hard to distinguish what belonged 
to them merely as a commonwealth, and what belonged to them as a church, 
in respect of what came under the cognizance and power of those courts. 

(3.) Then again, there was their synagogical government, which seems to 
be differing from what either the priests had in the temple, in respect of 
persons clean and unclean ceremonially, or over one another ; or from courts 
of judicature in their gates. A government those synagogues had, for there 
are the rulers of them mentioned ; and also punishments they had, for when 
the Romans took away their government in their gates, they scourged in 
their synagogues. There were admonitions also, or excommunications, or 
casting men out of their synagogues. The great Sanhedrim, and their 
other courts, did punish by civil mulcts, and the Sanhedrim did put to 
death. In the temple, the priests kept out the unclean, and the judgment 
of that was not by the Sanhedrim, but by the priests, that did look to the 
worship of the temple ; but the synagogues did cast a man out, and the 
priests did not supervise the government of the synagogues. 

And that all this was a matter of a differing cognisance from what was 
transacted in their other courts, is evident by this, that for many sins (be- 
sides the civil punishments that were adjudged in the courts of their gates, 
as to restore, and the like) a man was fai'ther obliged to come to the temple 
with confession, and with a sacrifice ; so as the charge of the things of the 
temple, and the order and discipline thereof, was another thing than that of 
their civil courts. And although a man was cast out of the synagogues, and 
was in respect of such a communion as a heathen and a publican, yet he 
might still come to the temple and partake in the worship thereof. But 
that the Sanhedrim did at any time pronounce that sentence, that a man 
should be as an heathen or publican, that this was proper to their courts, 
we believe not. Now, it is left very uncertain to which of these the analogy 
of the government of a gospel church should be accommodated. 

Obj. It is said that our Saviour Christ, in Mat. xviii., reflected upon some 
bench or court, the next then extant, to which the people were wont to resort 
among the Jews, and so intimated that his will was that the church under 
the gospel should be formed up conformably to us, and that so it should be 
like to that of the Jews, and so the policy of the church of the New Testa- 
ment should be conformed to the policy of the Old by virtue of that insti- 
tution. And from thence it is argued that there should be ruling elders 
that are not teachers, because there were such among the Jews ; from 
thence it is argued that there should be a national church, a national sanhe- 
drim or assembly, as was among the Jews ; from thence it is argued that 
the power is in the elders alone, because it was so among the Jews, who 
* Qu. ' were uot all ' ? — Ed. 


are called the cliurcli. And so this analogy of the Jewish church is one of 
the great foundations of the presbyterian government, and of classical and 
national assemblies. 

Ans. But besides that it was not necessary that Jesus Christ should 
allude to it, though he useth the same phrase ; the deformity of that 
pattern, and the poHcy of the government of the New Testament, is such as 
that that cannot be Christ's intent. 

For, 1, if we take the Jewish pattern in matter of government, we shall 
be worse put to it, to judge what is ceremonial and what is perpetual, or 
what was a judicial appendix to the ceremonial, and added upon a supposi- 
tion of it, more than we are put to it to judge what was ordinary, and what 
was extraordinary in the apostles' practices. If that our Saviour Christ 
alluded to it in the gross and in the lump, who shall be able to distinguish ? 

2. If that policy should thereby be established, it would as well serve for 
the erecting of episcopal government over ministers ; for although it is said 
that Aaron's high priesthood was Christ's type, and not the type of bishops, 
yet that the priests and the Levites (several companies of them) should have 
one that was the chief overseer over all,* who is by the Septuagint called 
'Em's-x.o'Troi, bishop and overseer, was no way typical. There were four sorts 
of Levites: priests, Kohathites, Gershonites, Merarites, Num. iii. 30, 35; 
and over each of these were four eminent persons, whereof Eleazar was one. 
Num. iii. 32. And when Eleazar was made high priest, then Phinehas 
was governor of the Levites, and had oversight of them, ruling of them, as 
1 Chron ix. 20, and Num. iv. 33. Ithamar was over the sons of Gershon 
and Merari. And in Neh. xi. 14, 22, they are called overseers, or, as the 
Septuagint translates it, 'E'Trlnxo-mi, bishops; the same word is used of the 
apostles, Acts i. 20, and their office, unto which (say the episcopal party) 
bishops do succeed as rulers over other ministers (though perhaps called 
bishops also), as the apostles were over the seventy, and all other ministers. 
And for this, will the Jewish pattern and policy (if that were alluded to) 
serve as well as for the presbyterian government. And in 2 Chron. xxxv. 8, 
we read of the three rulers of the house of Grod, whereof but one was the 
high priest. Now, although that the high priest, for his going into the holy 
of holies, was a type of Christ, yet not all those other that were the rulers 
of the priests and of the house of God. 

And if it be replied, as it is by some, that this was but the law of nature, 
the heads of these famihes being rulers over the rest, it is answered, 

1. So was not Korah, Num. xvi. 1. 

2. The law of nature makes as well for one man to govern over many, and 
so for a monarchical government, as for an aristocratical ; and so episcopal 
government might be argued to be suited to the law of nature as well as to 
the Jewish. 

3. It belonged not to the ceremonial law, but it served only for order ; 
and although the eldest of the family were those governors that were set over 
the rest of a company of priests of the same family, and so that the eldest 
had it by birth, and by the law of nature, yet that one should be set over 
the rest was merely a matter of order, and therefore will plead for itself as 
strongly (if we take the Jewish pattern) as for any other way of government. 

It may be objected, that upon this ground, that one man makes not the 
church, episcopal power is cut off, and that therefore the allusion of our Lord 
Christ in Mat. xviii. is to those courts that were erected among the Jews. 

Ans. 1. In the first place, either there were two sorts of courts, one civil, 
and the other purely ecclesiastical, two kind of Sanhedrims, both in each 
* These were called the chief priests, Mat. ii. 4 and xxvii. 1, Acts xix. 4. 

Chap. III.] the churches of christ. 


citj-, and in Jerusalem, which can never be proved ; and if two, which of 
these two Christ should allude to will still be the question. Or if there were 
but one kind of court, that was both for civil and ecclesiastical government, then 
the Jewish pattern will not serve the turn, for then, by that reason, persons 
ecclesiastical now should deal in civil causes (for so they did then), and per- 
sons civil should deal in ecclesiastical. Yea, and those that hold there were 
two courts, the one for causes civil, the other for ecclesiastical, yet they say 
the persons in both were mixed. And because that both were thus mixed, 
therefore in Deut. xvii. 9, speaking of the Sanhedrim, he saith, ' When thou 
shalt come to the priest, or the judges, which shall be in those days,' &c. ; 
for sometime a priest was the president of that council, and sometimes a 
civil person, that was not of the priest's office, whom therefore he calleth a 
judge. It was by institution that there should be some priests, Ezek. 
xliv, 24, Deut. xxiv. 8, 2 Chron. xviii. 18, Deut. xvi. 18 ; and also that 
others than priests and Levites were of the Sanhedrim, and also judges of 
particular cities, as all sides acknowledge. For from hence all presbyterian 
divines argue the pattern of lay elders, which yet, if there be not an institu- 
tion for it in the New Testament, would never be able to be argued from 
hence ; and therefore many of our brethren that acknowledge persons civil, 
that were not priests and Levites, to have been mingled in those courts, yet 
deny the consequence of that argument unto ruling elders now, which, if the 
Jewish pattern had held, it would have argued it. And it appears further, 
that therefore the elders and the priests are mentioned. Pharisees that were 
not of the tribe of Levi threw ofl'* their rulers, and the priest or the judge, 
Deut. xvii. ; and the judges, elders, and priests, are usually put together in 
their cities and courts. 

And the reason why both were mixed thus, to become but one court, was 
because that then the church was mingled with the commonwealth, and both 
were but one ; therefore the church of Israel is called the commonwealth of 
Israel. And the laws of their commonwealth were given immediately by 
Grod ; and therefore the Levites, as well as the civil authority, were the 
interpreters of that law. If, therefore, this should now be the pattern, as 
when, according to our brethren's assertion, the church grows up to a 
nation, there should be a national church, because that was the pattern of 
the Jews, so when the churches grew up to a nation, the ecclesiastical state 
and the civil should become mingled, and ministers should judge in civil 
causes, and those that are not ministers should judge in ecclesiastical, for 
so in that Sanhedrim they did. 

If it be said that all the acts were not chm-ch acts, as sending ambassa- 
dors, making wars, and the like, the answer is, that all such acts as were 
towards other nations might not so properly be called church acts, but the 
question is, what was among themselves ? And yet even their wars were 
holy, and their God was called the Lord of hosts ; and the priests wait f 
with trumpets, to encourage the people to fight, as if it had been an ecclesi- 
astical business. 

Aus. 2. Again, secondly, if that be the pattern that Christ alludeth to, 
then if that state had, whilst it stood in the apostles' times, turned Chris- 
tian, it might have been conformed to the Jewish pattern of government as 
it then stood ; and so the persons of the Sanhedrim, that were judges of the 
Jewish church, should have continued judges of the Christian church. 

Ans. 3. If that the Jewish government had been the pattern, then there 
should be but two courts, subordinate one to another ; for so there was no 
more among the Jews in a way of subordination. There was the court in 
* Qu. ' thougli of ' ?— Ed. t Qu. ' went ' ?— Ed. 


each city and town, consisting some of more, some of less, according to their 
proportion and bigness, that did judge of all causes within themselves ; and 
then there was the gi-eat Sanhedrim, and appeals were made immediately 
from each of the inferior courts unto this superior. And whereas it is said 
by some that there were three courts at Jerusalem for appeals, we find not 
by the Scriptures that there were three such courts, although some of the 
rabbins say there were. And when the text saith, in Deut. xvii., that who- 
soever would not obey the sentence of the judge that should be in that place 
should be put to death ; then when they brought it to the first court, the 
judges of the twenty-three at Jerusalem, according to that notion, they 
should have been put to death, and never have come to the great Sanhe- 
drim. And if there were two such courts of the twenty-three, besides the 
Sanhedrim, yet they were not for appeals : but they were either the one of 
that city of Jerusalem, which as a city had the privilege to have a judicature 
within itself, besides the Sanhedrim for the whole nation ; and the other of 
the priests for the matters of the temple (for the temple was an enclosure) ; 
or else the one was for Jerusalem, and the other for the city of David (each 
having the privilege of a city, although in two places, as Westminster and 
London have) ; the one was at the door of the mountain of the Lord, the 
other at the door of the temple. If, then, the form of the Jewish govern- 
ment be the pattern, then all those subordinate congregational, classical, 
provincial, and national assembles, they shall be cut oS; for the Jewish 
pattern will not suit these. 

4. If that were the pattern, then the national assembly should be the 
supreme judge, and there should be none above that ; but over national 
assemblies, presbyterian divines do place an universal general council, and 
make that to be the supreme ; whereas the national Sanhedrim of the Jews, 
qua national, was the highest court. 

6. If that be the pattern, the matters brought to that Sanhedrim, so far 
as we have a rule in the word for it, were only matters that were too diffi- 
cult ; and when they were too difficult for those particular courts in the 
cities or towns, they were brought to the general assembly : Deut. xvii., 
' If a matter be too hard for thee,' &c. ; even as the hard matters, which 
none could determine but God, were brought to Moses, Exod. xviii. 21. 

6. When the inferior court itself did find it to be too hard for them, it 
was not by way of appeal that they brought it to the superior ; so in Deut. 
xvii., ' If it be too hard for thee.' So, as it was not in the libert}^ of any 
person to appeal, but the court, finding themselves not able to decide the 
controversy, they were to carry it to the Sanhedrim (therefore the rabbins 
say that that place, Deut. xvii., belongs only to a rebellious elder) ; and, if 
so, then this place will not serve to have ecclesiastical courts for appeals. 

7. The Sanhedrim did only judge of the matter of the law and right in a 
doctrinal way in such and such a case ; but it was still left, after their sen- 
tence, unto the inferior court to judge of the matter of fact, and to apply the 
sentence ; so as by this rule the greater assemblies of synods and councils 
should not at all excommunicate, but only doctrinally deliver the sentence, 
still leaving to the particular churches the application of that rule, by the 
sentence of excommunication, in whose power alone it is. Therefore, speak- 
ing to the judges of the inferior courts, he says, ' Thou shalt do according 
to the sentence of the law, which they shall teach thee, and according to the 
judgments which they shall tell thee,' Deut. xvii. 10, 11. 

8. The Sanhedrim executed civil punishments, as putting to death, &c., 
if their sentence was not obeyed ; so that they excommunicated not, but 
punishment was civil, which their court inflicted. 

Chap. III.J the churches of christ. 203 

9. If appeals were macle, and things were carried to the higher courts 
from the lower, there was an high punishment for the neglecting of the sen- 
tence (supposing there were an appeal), merely because the sentence of that 
court was contemned. The man was to be put to death, although the matter 
wherein he disobeyed did deserve a lesser punishment. But in the ecclesi- 
astical government that Christ hath set up, there is no higher punishment than 
excommunication and delivering to Satan ; therefore this pattern will not serve. 

10. In that Sanhedrim persons were still the same men, continually resi- 
dent. They were officers on purpose that were set and constant for that 
church (even as bishops are amongst us), and they resided at Jerusalem. 
And so the foundation of the calling of the one to that national assembly, 
and the calling of ministers to our national assemblies (which they would 
pattern by this), do wholly diHer ; for ours are called by a new choice for 
that special assembly, as occasion is, and by a choice too, residing in their 
particular congi-egations and charges. 

Obj. It is said, 2 Chron. xix. 8, * They returned to Jerusalem.' It seems, 
therefore, they rode circuit. 

Am. That was occasional, when first religion was to be reformed, and the 
people instructed, after a neglect of all order and government amongst them. 
Otherwise they were constant at Jerusalem, and had therefore a peculiar 
title, being called * elders of the people ;' whereas others were called ' elders 
of the cities.' And so the pattern of bishops, who were constant ofhcers for 
a national church, and attended wholly upon the public (as the same persons 
did always here in the high commission), will much better suit the Jewish 

11. They had always a chief, whom they called the nasi, or the prince, 
in imitation of the first court, wherein Moses was chief, and the number 
with him, seventy-one; and so it is too, Ezek. viii. 11, seventy elders in 
the midst of them, Jaazaniah as the prince ; and if the Jewish pattern should 
hold, there should be such now. Therefore, in Deut. xvii., the court, being 
denominated from some one, is called the priest or the judge ; and it would, 
according to that, much better suit Kome than Zion, the popish government 
than that of the reformed churches ; it being a nearer pattern to have one 
nasi, one prince, one high priest, with a constant number of cardinals, in a 
place which they pretend the promise is made to. And accordingly Bellar- 
mine urgeth it for the state of antichrist, and with more reason and strength, 
and more likehhood, than for the presbyterian pattern ; for the high priests 
were ordinarily over that Sanhedrim ; so the Asmones in the time of the 
Maccabees, Mat. xxvi. 5-7, and Acts xxiii, 5, compared with Exod. xxii. 28. 

12. There was a pecuHar place which God did then sanctify at Jerusalem, 
in which the great Sanhedrim was always to sit. Therefore it is still said, 
in Deut. xvii., Thou shalt go to the place that God shall choose, as well as 
that they should go to the judge or to the priest, because it was God's 
promise to be in that place, and with the court sitting there ; and therefore 
also it is said, ' If they should not do according to the sentence of the priest 
that standeth before the Lord.' And if they shew us any one place that 
God hath so peculiarly sanctified, and set up such a court, as the papists 
would pretend to do, then it would be a pattern, or else not. But God hath 
not sanctified any place now, therefore the pattern will not hold. It may 
much better, in a type, be transferred to the general assembly in heaven, 
even to which we under the gospel are come, or to the general judgment of 
the great day, when all causes shall be judged over again. 

13. Neither were all causes ecclesiastical brought to this Sanhedrim ; 
therefore it is said, ' Thou shalt bring all causes within thy gates,' not all 


causes in God's house. Therefore the high priest is said to be over the 
house of God, and the charge of that house belonged unto the priests ; and 
there were three rulers over the house of God. Therefore to the Sanhedrim 
belonged judicials, and such ceremonials as did not appertain to the temple, 
as the cutting oli' of a man that had leaven in his house, Exod. xii. ]3ut 
yet the ceremonial belonged to the temple, and the priests themselves were 
judges thereof. And the order of priests and Levites had a peculiar power 
to judge of leprosy, and of persons that were unclean, and to keep them out 
of the temple, Levit. x. 10, 11 ; Ezek. xliv. 23; Hag. ii. 11-13. There- 
fore the priests of the temple put out Uzziah when he was struck with the 
leprosy. So Christ answerably speaks : Mat. viii. 4, ' Go shew thyself to 
the priest,' saith Christ to the man that he cured of the leprosy, that he 
might judge of it whether he were whole or no. Neither were there any 
persons that we read of, but those that were priests, that were to do this. 
Yea, the leprosy was so infectious, that there was no warrant or promise 
that any that conversed with or came to a leper should be kept from it, but 
only the priest ; and in Num. iii. 7, they were to keep the whole charge 
about the tabernacle of the congregation ; and in Ezek. xliv. 27, they were 
to look to the Sabbath. Now it is evident that others besides the i^riests 
made up that great court at Jerusalem. 

14. If that this were the pattern, then the church in each village or city 
now should have an immediate and entire government within themselves ; 
and so it would suit the congregational government. For each town in Judea 
had elders in their gates : in the smaller, there were three to judge their 
causes ; in the greater cities, there were twenty-three. 

15. The number of the persons were all set, they were seventy; so that in 
the conclusion we may say, as Paul of those of the circumcision, and observ- 
ing the law, that they themselves keep not the law, so nor those that are for 
the analogy of the Jewish pattern here ; being these so great, so essential, and 
many diiierences between the Jewish and presbyterial government as to a 
national assembly. 

And if it be said by them, We urge not the identity, that it should be the 
same ; we reply, 1, Why not the identity in things that were not ceremonial 
(for such they pretend to make a pattern), but matters of mere order and 
policy, suited to them as to a national church, and that by God's institu- 
tion ? If they make the institution of God the pattern in one thing, why 
not in another ? 2. If it be only a mere analogy, they themselves must 
shew some other warrant, first, for the like things instituted anew by Christ 
under the New Testament, which, being so instituted, doth bear analogy with 
what was under the Old. For otherwise it is left unto the pleasure of man 
to take and refuse what he pleaseth, and set it up as analogous to the old ; 
and so others may set up other things, and indeed pick another form of 
government out of other things that were analogous to the government of 
that pattern. As when they argue out of Mat. xviii. that Christ alludeth to 
the courts that were then in Jewry, where he saith, ' Go tell the church,' 
and urge the analogy to hold in this, that as their courts, which were called 
ecdesiiB, were a college of elders and judges, and that, therefore, the church 
that Christ means under the New Testament must be a consistory of elders 
and national assembHes, as the lesser and greater Sanhedrim was distinct 
and apart from the people, we have just reason to reply. Why should the 
analogy hold in this only, unless the New Testamant hold forth that the as- 
sembly of a company of elders, apart from the people, are called a church ? 
If that were first found, then, indeed, this analogy might be applied there- 
unto ; but to pick and choose out one piece of the model, and leave out the 

Chap. III.] the churches of cheist. 205 

rest, and to say that Christ intends this rather than the rest, without a special 
warrant of his so to do, is but human and arbitrary, under the colour of 
divine institution. 

To us this is an infalhble rule, that where God hath applied a type or any- 
thing out of the Old Testament to an institution under the New, we 
should so far be led by it as he hath in this or that particular applied it, for 
otherwise the analogy of those chief priests which are called s-TrlaxoTo:, over- 
seers, as the Septuagint rendereth it, Ps. cix. 8, Acts i. 20, Zech. xi. 14, 22, 
would hold for the order of bishops by way of analogy, as strong as any 
argument can be framed from the analogy of their courts to the hke ecclesi- 
astical now. 

It is urged by some, that that which belonged to that church, as a church, 
is moral in all ages, as that which belongs to a child, as he is animal rationale, 
belongs to a man, though what agreeth to him as a child agrees not to all 
men, but what agrees to a child, as it is animal rationale, is common to all 
men. Now this church, say they, did not belong to the church as Jewish, and 
as in its infant condition in a typical respect, but as a pohtic national church. 

We answer, 1, that their being a national church was in a typical respect, 
and therefore all their laws, ceremonial, judicial, moral, the laws that were 
given the state, were given by God. Jus civile Judaicum pars theoloqia: fuit, 
the Jews' civil law was part of their divinity ; and therefore the common- 
wealth of Israel is called the church ; and in 2 Peter i., Peter, speaking to 
the saints, saith, applying the type, you are ' a holy nation, a royal people.' 
He speaks not to them as they were a nation under a government, one na- 
tional church, although he writes to the Jews that were dispersed over many 
provinces, 1 Peter i. 1. Totus status illius 2^opHU fuit Jiguralis (Aquinas, 
prima secundfe, qujest. 104, art. 2). 

Yea, 2, that great Sanhedrim at Jerusalem seems to have a typical respect 
upon it, it being restrained to the place that God should choose, and was a 
type of the general assembly in heaven, or at the day of judgment, for to that 
assembly doth Christ seem to allude when he saith they shall sit upon twelve 
thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel ; and the great Sanhedrim at 
Jerusalem was only that court that did judge the twelve tribes, and no other 
court besides. 

3. There was that peculiar ground of the Jews being a national church, 
which was the main ground why God made them a national church, as is 
compatible to no nation under heaven ; they were a national church, not 
only as men living under the same government, and under the same prince, 
and in the same land, or of the same language, but chiefly and principally 
as they were the children of Abraham, to whom the promises were made as 
to one common father, whose seed did grow up into a nation, whom God 
did sever from all other nations as such, and made a nation of them dwell- 
ing alone, so as they were not to marry out of their own nation. And herein 
Abraham was Christ's type, Jesus Christ being now the Father of all the 
faithful in all nations, who are become one royal nation unto him, but a 
royal nation spiritually, and a royal kindred, although out of several nations, 
but not as formed into a national government. And when they did grow up 
into a nation, then God gave them laws for the government of them as a 
nation, God did institute them to a national church and kingdom, and made a 
new covenant with them, and gave them laws. And if now, under the gospel, 
we should come to a national church and have a like government, it may 
have an institution under the New Testament as that had then. 

And there is hkewise this difference between our churches under the 
gospel and that of the Jews, that the prima notio, the first notion of a church 

206 THE GO^'ERXME^•T OF [BooK IV. 

fell upon them as they were a nation, but now doth not fall upon the saints 
as they are a nation in that sense that they were ; but it falls either upon 
the church universal, which is the church mystical, or upon congi-egational, 
but upon none, qua nation, as it did upon them ; and therefore, their being 
a national church was a type of the universal, and not of this or that par- 
ticular nation now, qua nation ; but we can shew too, that, qua nation, 
they were the type of particular churches and congregations. 

5. There is a great fallacy in this argument. It is true, that that which 
agreeth to a chm-ch, qua talis, as such, is in ever}^ church that is such ; and 
so what was in that chiu-ch as national, purely so considered, may be and 
ought to be in any other church that is national in a political respect, as 
whatsoever belongeth to a man qua rationalis, belongeth to every man. 
When, therefore, it is said this government did belong to it qua church, so 
we deny it, for it belonged only to it qua national church in the general, 
and hath many specifical differences annexed. There is a church national, 
such indeed was the Jews ; and there is a church congregational, and such 
are those under the New Testament ; there is a church universal, which is 
the church mystical. But what belongs to the church of the Jews as na- 
tional and cast into a kingdom, will not belong to the church universal, nor 
will it belong to the church congregational, for it belongs to it only as national ; 
and so we might as well argue, that what belongs to one species under a ()enus, 
belongs to the other species ; or that what belongs to a man qua animal 
rationale, should belong to a beast because he also is animal. So that this 
remaineth fii'st to be proved, that Jesus Christ hath made national churches 
under the New Testament to be politic bodies, and then the argument might 
have some show in it, that what belongs to a church as a national church, 
should belong to a national church under the New Testament for matter of 
government. But otherwise, it may as well be argued, that what form of 
government agrees to a kingdom as a body politic, must be found in every 
corporation, and that the same government must be in the one that is in the 
other ; whereas a body politic is the genus, as also church is, and national, 
presJjyterial, &c., are but specifical differences annexed, and also that what 
belongs to the commonwealth of Venice as an aristocratical commonwealth 
must belong to all commonwealths ; whereas there are commonwealths that 
are monarchical, which we call kingdoms, others that are democratical, and 
what belongs to the one, with these differences, belongs not to the other. 
What belongs simply to a monarchy as a monarchical commonwealth, must 
not be said to belong to a democratical commonwealth. In a monarchy there 
are differing degrees of marquesses, and earls, and lords; it will not therefore 
follow, that in a democracy, or in a commonwealth whose government is 
by several Hanse towns, there should be the same too. 

6. And if Christ had appointed national chm-ches under the New Testa- 
ment in a political respect, it was not necessary that the analogy of the Jewish 
government should be observed ; no more than that, in every kingdom and 
commonwealth, the analogy of the Jews' political government should also be 
observed. And the analogy, too, might be kept and observed in its pro- 
portion in every congregational church, as the analogy of the three estates 
in the superior court in parliament is shadowed out in many corporations, 
where there is the mayor, aldermen, and common council ; but it is not 
necessary that there should be the same subordination of courts, all keeping 
the same analogy as was amongst the Jews ; for churches depending im- 
mediately upon the magistrates in every kingdom might be well governed, as 
we see the church in Geneva is, and the Helvetians are. But we answer, 

7. Whereas the argument runs that that government was not ceremonial, 

Chap. III.] the churches ot christ. 207 

suppose that their having such a form of government with courts of appeals, 
having judicature in them, were not typical and ceremonial, yet it will not 
follow that the like must be in the churches in nations under the gospel ; 
therefore Gersom Bucerus^' distinguisheth that some things were merely 
ceremonial, and they were cut off; other things were perpetually moral, 
and other things, though they were not ceremonial, yet they did peculiarly 
serve to the conservation of that policy, and were annexed for order's sake 
to the preservation of what was ceremonial. Now, that national sanhedrim 
was of that latter sort ; for suppose it were not ceremonial altogether, yet that 
church being constituted a national church as a politic body ecclesiastical, 
it must have a national sanhedrim that was suitable and answerable ; for, if 
we suppose a national church, it must have a national government propor- 
tionable to it, and officers accordingly ; and so that there should be those 
heads of the priests, and that imparity accordingly amongst the priests, was 
a thing proper to the policy of the Levites, and yet not typical ; for multi- 
tudes of them meeting in their ranks and courses for tbe service of the 
temple, it was necessary that there should be one that should order those 
multitudes of them that in their courses came up. 

It must be acknowledged, that whatever constitution of churches as politic 
bodies Jesus Christ hath made, he hath took a suitable order for the preser- 
vation of order among them; so, having made congregational churches those 
politic bodies, he hath taken order for the government of them as such. 
And if he had made churches national, as politic bodies, he would have took 
suitable order for them also, as he did among the Jews, and he would have 
done it afore such time as churches were multiplied, so as to come up to a 
nation, for so he did with the church of the Jews afore they came into the 
land of Canaan ; but so he hath not done in the New Testament, nor did 
the apostles live to see it settled ; and it were strange that that form should 
be erected by Christ that the apostles lived not to see. 

So that the conclusion of all it must be this, that Jesus Christ did still 
suit the government of his church to the condition of the matter. Thus the 
church, when in families, had a family government, and when a nation was 
singled out and chosen, it had a national government ; but the saints being 
to be dispersed over all nations (as the Jews themselves were when they 
had their synagogues dispersed), he hath established a government answer- 

A church is said to be national, either, 1, in respect of the members, that 
all that are of the nation are members of the church, which was the consti- 
tution of the Jewish church ; or, 2, in respect of government, that, because 
they are a nation, they are cast therefore into a national government. Now, 
indeed, the national government of the JevTs did follow upon their national 
constitution of members, and answerably under the gospel, even in nations, 
the government of Christ's church doth follow the condition of the members. 
Now, the condition of those that are saints (which are only fit to be mem- 
bers of churches) is to be scattered up and down, and to be few, for they are 
redeemed out of nations. There are few cities in England will afford more 
saints than will make one church, but London. So as the reason why that 
under the gospel, there is not this national government for churches, is 
because a nation comes not up to Christ's terms; and if it should, there are 
other respects that make the alteration ; for it was fit that the body of the 
saints, the people, should have interest of presence and of a virtual concur- 
rence, and of edification, yea, of suffrage in the government. It was for the 
honour of the saints that are come out of their nonage that it should be so, 
* Ue Guber. Eccl. p. 51. 


and that worship and government, and communion in both, should be com- 
mensurable, God loving more the spiritual communion that saints have in 
public worship under the gospel than the national sacrifices under the old 
law, and did therefore cast the government under the gospel thus to attain 
this end, without which it could not be attained, and also because that 
churches, as churches, would be more sweetly ordered by the law of com- 
munion of churches without jurisdiction, than by a jurisdiction placed in 
combination of many churches over each, seeing that government could not 
be transacted in the presence of the saints, but by delegated messengers and 
representative elders. 


Whether a fixed and constant assembbj of presbyters or elders have a right of 
authority over imrticular congregations. — The question stated. 

Though those who have stood up and written for the presbyterial govern- 
ment (as it is practised in the reformed churches), do assert it to be the 
only ordinary standing and perpetual government which ought to be em- 
braced in all churches and Christian states, yet the wisdom of the assembly 
of divines at Westminster thought meet to propound it to this debate, that 
the Scripture holds forth it may be. 

And whereas, when the asserting the jus divinum of it is waived, that yet it 
is a government the nearest, and in a conspicuous eminency most conformed 
to the Scripture rules and examples in the New Testament, is a position in 
succession the next, though a far lower step than the former. And less could 
not have been expected to have been held forth, when all other governments 
are laid aside, to give room for its entertainment. Yet this first and leading 
proposition to all the other that follow about it, viz., that the Scripture inti- 
mates that such a government may be, falls as low in its undertaking as any 
government that can be supposed to pretend the least for itself. And in the 
like manner the rest of the propositions that follow run but in the same 
style, that it is lawful and agreeable to the word that things should be ordered 
thus or thus. 

Though the reverend assembly would not venture so far, yet the next 
fairest way left for deciding this controversy had been to have patterned the 
practices and directions which the several ways of church government pre- 
tend to for their warrant, and to have compared these each with the other, 
and by an harmonious draught and platform of either, when set together, it 
would easily have been discerned, not only which of them may he, but which 
of them rather should he ; and that of the two which appeared to hold the 
greatest likeness to the primitive picture, drawn in the stories of the New 
Testament, and in the rules and commands in the epistles similar thereunto, 
let that have been esteemed the true child there. But the proposition is so 
cast that we must directly oppose it with such grounds as may shew that 
this presbyterian may not be, without troubling ourselves to consider which 
of the forms of government this should be. 

The proposition as thus stated for the dispute upon a mere it may he, as 
it allows the greatest latitude and compass to the aflirmers of it for their 
way of defending it, and paves the way for passableness with all men, of all 
sides whatever, whose judgments are not bound up with the opinion of a 
jus divinum in church government, so it did put the greatest difficulty upon 
those that were negative in judgment to disprove it. The difficulty lay in 

Chap. IV.] thk chukches of chbist. 209 

this, that the most direct and punctual way to overthrow the proposition is 
first to prove and make good this other more general assertion, so much con- 
troverted, that there is a certain standing ordinary form of church govern- 
ment held forth in the directions given to the apostles, or the examples of 
those churches we read of in the Scripture erected by their guidance, and 
that also seconded by this negative, that there ought to be no other than 
what is by institution. Which two general principles, if supposed or gained, 
then indeed this alone had been argument sufficient to disprove the presby- 
terial government, that if it be not held forth in the Scriptures as the ordi- 
nary standing government for the churches, that then it may not be. These 
aforesaid general propositions having been determined, there needed no more 
words to have been on the opponent's part, but to examine the assembly's 
proofs, whether therein there appeared this standing government instituted. 
But the discussion of the general propositions was denied by the assembly 
(in the very first entrance into the dispute of discipline) to be so much as 
debated, and therefore could not be assumed here nor anywhere else into 
any debate, but against the former order of the assembly ; so that they stood 
upon this advantage, to maintain their assertion upon Erastian principles, 
and yet left us to disprove it upon the contrary principles, which yet are 
common to them and us, and which (as one said when it was laid aside) 
would require a quarter of a year's debate, and also would have been left 
wholly upon us to make good, although it be laid as the foundation by the 
church of Scotland and other reformed churches of the presbyterial govern- 
ment, and made use of against the episcopal to prove that the government 
of the church by bishops may not be. 

And whereas it may be said that yet this was left us, that by proving the 
congregational way to be by institution, we might by that, as another medium, 
have shewed that the presbyterial government may not be, we were in this 
disadvantaged also (if we would have introduced the debate thereof as against 
the proposition), that though we had never so sufficiently proved all (that is, 
a complete government) to be in a congregation by Christ's institution ; and 
yet for this demonstration of that (as our brethren full well know), it had 
been necessary to debate and discuss at large, first, that fore-mentioned prin- 
ciple, by what ways the institutions of Christ in the New Testament are held 
forth, whether in ordinary examples and practices of the primitive churches, 
yet that had been (as to our brethren) an insufficient argument to disprove 
this proposition, that therefore a presbyterial government over many con- 
gregations may not be. And the consequence would have been denied by 
many of our brethren that hold all power of government to be in a congrega- 
tion, but not solely or only ; and so a classical government over many con- 
gregations may yet be. And, therefore, to have overthrown their assertion, 
there were two propositions yet more necessary to have been proved by us, 
or the proof had not been sufficient as to them : first, that an ecclesiastical 
government may not be set up (unless warranted by institution) over many 
congregations that have it by institution within themselves ; or, secondly, 
that the Scriptures do not hold forth by institution an ecclesiastical govern- 
ment in classes, &c., over many congregations. One of these, or both, must 
have been proved by us. If the first, we should fall again into a new general 
head about institutions, namely, that what in church government is not by 
institution, may not be. The latter, we also saw, the assembly did decline, 
and stated their assertion upon an it may he ; and then, again, this latter 
also being a negative, the demonstration lies not in positive arguments to 
the contrary, but in a defensive denial, with answers to the arguments which 



might be brought to prove the affirmative. And our brethren not under- 
taking to prove an institution of the presbyterial government, all our answers 
to their arguments had answerably still fallen short of disproving the insti- 
tution of that government ; so that our attempt this way to oppose their 
proposition would have been unavailable and in vain. 

But this was not all the obstruction that lay in our way to the confuting 
this proposition, in respect of this their stating it upon an it man ^^ •' ^^^ 
the difficulty was increased further also, and yet no less from the vast in- 
definitcness and indeterminate ambiguity and uncertainty of that other term, 
presbyterial government over many conyreyations, which, importing an associa- 
tion of the elders of many congregations for government, doth admit many 
variations, and includes in it several patterns of government, and also diifer- 
ing constitutions of those congregations. For (to give an instance) there 
might be conceived a twofold presbytery or association of elders over many 
congregations. There might be one for the ordinary and standing govern- 
ment thereof, so as the greatest matters appertaining to any of those congre- 
gations should be in a constant way brought before their consistory as 
belonging to their jurisdiction ; so as the congregations and their several 
elderships should not proceed but as first warranted by the sentence of the 
higher presbytery. And there might be another presbytery or meeting of 
elders (and the assembly had not declared any difference between synodical 
and presbyterial assemblies set for a standing government), but only in case 
that schisms and contentions fall out in the several congregations, either 
about matters of doctrine or government, or for difficult cases, which the 
several elderships of the congregations do find too hard for them, and so 
seek their help and direction ; or otherwise, when the eldership of a parti- 
cular congregation hath scandalously managed their government, or wrong- 
fully excommunicated, &c., then the neighbouring elderships offended, or 
appealed unto by the persons offended, are to judge and determine of it. 
This is the first and most general division of the presbyterial government, 
into which, as it is propounded in the may be, it can be cast. If it be 
limited to an ordinary and standing government, yet still as great an ambi- 
guity as the former remains touching the sevei'al ways, sorts, or kinds into 
which this presbyterial government, and the constitution of these congi'ega- 
tions, may be and are cast in the reformed churches, arising from a diflering 
relation that the elders (that thus are to make a common standing presbytery) 
do bear unto these congregations. 

1. The one is common and promiscuous, unfixed for all sorts of duties, 
of preaching, &c., as well as for ruling ; that as in common they make one 
presbytery over them all for government, so likewise they all are alike elders 
and pastors to each congregation, and do bestow like pains and care for all 
pastoral duties of preaching, feeding, &c., in their courses and rounds, as is 
practised in some cities in Holland. 

2. A second variety is, that they are a presbytery unto all in common for 
acts of discipline, yet they are pastors or elders fixed in their relations pro- 
perly but to one congregation, to perform all such duties thereunto, and not 
unto the rest. 

In the first, the ministers of all these congregations do, in a circular way, 
preach to them all in their course, as well as they do rule in common ; as 
if three or four parishes be together, the ministers of each should in their 
turns feed them all, and the people partake of the gifts and graces of all, as 
well as the ministers rule all. Now, if these congregations, for the number 
of the persons belonging to them, consist only of so many as can at times 
meet altogether, with their common elderships, for matters of discipline, 

Chap. IY.] the churches op christ. 211 

choice of ministers, admonitions, and excommunications, and can be all 
present upon such great and solemn acts of government, in which we con- 
ceive all are interested, so to join in them, and to be edified by them, 
although, in respect of convenience, they make several set and fixed con- 
gregations for worship, either on the account of persecution, or of distance 
iVom each other, or the like ; and if they are so few congregations, and so 
near as that elders, that make up an eldership in common, can fulfil the 
duties of the relation of pastors to them all in their round and course, so as 
those congregations do partake of the gifts and graces of them all, as well 
as are ruled by them all, this kind of presbytery of elders in common over 
such a number as can and do for their great acts of government, meet in 
one assembly upon such occasions, both people and elders altogether make 
up one kind of government and constitution of congregations. But when 
there are presbyteries, that either through their extent and compass of the 
number and distance of the congregations under them, or otherwise by the 
law of their combination, neither do nor can hold the relation, nor discharge 
the duties of pastors in common unto them, but do only and merely rule 
them (and so do, in respect to this, make a greater presbytery over their 
many lesser congregations, and this for the ordinary government of them), 
and when the members of these congregations cannot meet to be present at 
the acts of discipline (wherein they have an interest of presence and edifica- 
tion), this is a second sort of presbyterial government, and which is generally 
practised in the reformed churches. 

3. And again, yet further, this latter may also be (in rational supposition) 
cast into two sorts of government. 

The first sort of government is wherein the elders of these many congre- 
gations have no share of government in public admonitions or censures, nor 
bear no rule in those congregations they are respectively affixed to, but such 
as under the bishops, the pastors of the congregations had, of preaching, 
private watching, visiting the sick ; all suspensions from the sacrament, 
public admonitions, censures, being immediately to be brought to the com- 
mon presbytery of elders, set over them all for government. 

2. Another form of government is, that many congregations (as in Scot- 
land), having their proper and peculiar pastors and elders, hereby come to be 
60 many formed and distinct churches, for the relation of a pastor and other 
elders or rulers cannot but be unto a church properly so called, for church 
and elders are relative, as rulers and a commonwealth ; and therefore they 
are called ecdesm prima;, as those to whom the notion and true nature and 
state of a chm-ch doth first belong. And further, these officers, and pastors, 
and teachers, being first in these several churches, and there being in each 
some competent number of elders or officers, as a pastor or teacher, with 
other ruling elders (for otherwise the greater presbytery should not be made 
up complete of some of all these sorts of officers out of each church, since the 
first seat of all these officers is some particular church), these pastors and 
ruling elders do make up a presbytery over each of these churches respect- 
ively. And further, being thus particular churches, or having a presbytery 
or eldership, they have some, yea, and a great part of government allotted 
to them within their several churches, as suspension from the sacrament, 
public admonitions, &c. 

For to suppose them churches, and to have elderships over them, and to 
have no privilege of governing, would be to make an empty title, without any 
of those things the Scripture gives to the churches and their elderships. 
There is only this difference, that when it comes to the great matters of ordina- 
tion or excommunication, these are taken up to the great presbyteiy ; and 


thus within the territory of this presbyterial government intended in the pro- 
position, two sorts of elderships are to be understood as included, lesser, 
and greater ones over them, and two sorts of churches (though called only 
congregations), churches lesser and incomplete, joined to make one church, 
as the subject of the common presbj'terial government. 

In these unlimited and incomprehensive senses was this proposition (the 
first-bom of all that follow about this government) propounded to the debate, 
although we urged upon the assembly that they would specify and determine 
which of these governments they intended and would maintain ; but it would 
not be granted, nor anything added for the limitation thereof, as must be, nor 
ralher he, instead of it may he, not over many churches instead of many congre- 
gations ; the advantage of which on their part was a liberty to defend it in 
any of these senses, and each upon the lowest terms, it may he ; for the pro- 
position might vary and alter with any of these shapes for its defence ; as if 
a standing government immediately over many congregations could not be 
defended, then extraordinary and mediate of elders associated in synods 
might. If the common standing government of fixed elders to their several 
congregations would not abide the touch, then still the proposition (they 
might say) is not confuted, for presbytery of promiscuous unfixed elders might 
notwithstanding be true, and so the truth of the proposition would stand. 

Being reduced to this narrowness in the entrance into the debate, both for 
the state of the question, and for the medium of arguing, w^e (1) profess to 
lay our arguments against that way of presbyterial government over many 
congregations, as it is extant, or practised in the church of Scotland over 
many congregations, having elders fixed to them ; and we did also desire that 
no other answers might be given, but such as they would, in rearing up the 
presbyterial government, reduce to practice ; and, 2, for the medium of 
arguing, we had little else left us to have in a direct and open way recourse 
unto, but those exhortations and charges given to elders in the epistles of 
the apostles, as lying apparently cross to this way of presbyterial government, 
as thwarting the rule of Christ and directions of the apostles. 

The state of the question then is this : 

1. By government is meant a standing, ordinary, and constant govern- 
ment, exercised over many congregations, in all the matters of greatest moment 
that concern any persons therein. 

2. These congi'egations are such, and so continued, as to have severally or 
apart each their proper elders afiixed to them, to preach to them and watch 
over them, and to be interested in lesser cases of government, as admoni- 
tion, &c. 

3. But it is questioned whether for all cases of government that are the 
greater, as excommunication, &c., that shall fall out in any of those congre- 
gations, those elders in common, meeting in one great presbytery or elder- 
ship, and made up of them all (even as for lesser matters, the elders of par- 
ticular congregations meeting are lesser presbyteries to their several congre- 
gations respectively) should not appropriate this greater government to 
themselves, which we deny, and shall endeavour to refute in the following 

Chap. V.] the churches of christ. 213 


That if a presbytery of elders be elected, haviny power over many conyreyations, 
besides their yeneral relation, they would also bear a particular relation to 
each congreyation. 

That no company of elders assembled together hath a power and rule over 
many congi*egations, will appear if we do but consider what the New Testa- 
ment declares concerning elders in their relations to their flocks committed 
to them, and concerning the exhortations and charges to them, of duties 
towards those flocks founded upon that relation, as also the duties of their 
flocks to them ; all which is like to be the surest measure to find out the 
extent of their power and bounds of their flocks, and whether that power for 
the ordinary way be limited to one congregation or many. For those exhor- 
tations and charges must needs be supposed suited to that boundary of 
churches, and that constitution and extent of relation, that the elders of those 
primitive times were placed in over them ; likeas in the question about 
polygamy, what the Scripture hath said of the duties between man and wife, 
which were given and suited to the extent of that relation, as God from the 
beginning bounded it, manifestly evinceth that one man cannot have many 
wives, but one. 

We have hitherto taken this for an undoubted maxim, that as a mutual 
relation is the ordinary foundation of all power, whether economical, civil, 
or ecclesiastical, so the extent of all power is commensurable with the extent 
of that relation. A master, as a master, hath power but over such servants of 
whom he may say, I am your master, and they of him. We are your servants ; 
for what hath any man to do to judge another man's servant ? as the apostle 
saith. And the same is true correspondently here. Those elders that 
assume to be over either one or many congregations, must have, as the oflice 
of elders, so the relation of elders unto that one, or those many, congrega- 
tions, that they may be able to say. We are your elders, and you are our 
church ; which two are in Scripture expression the relate and the correlate, 
as king and kingdom, magistrates and commonwealth. 

Now, against this standing government of these elders in greater presby- 
teries (as the question hath been stated), we shall humbly make use of the 
fore- mentioned maxim for a medium to overthrow this government, by pre- 
senting together therewith the incongruities and inconsistencies of it, and also 
by arguing what the New Testament speaks of the elders and their duties in 
relation to the flocks committed to them, which all do argue that according 
to the Scriptures such a government may not be. And we frame our argument 

If many congi-egations, having all elders already fixed respectively unto them, 
may be under such a standing presbyterial government, then all those elders 
must also (according to the Scriptures) sustain a special relation of ordinary 
and standing elders to all the people of those congregations, as one church 
their flock, and to every one as a member thereof. 

But for a company of such elders already afiixed, &c., to sustain such a 
relation, carries with it so great and manifold incongruities and inconsistencies 
with what the Scripture speaks of elders in their relation to a flock or church 
committed to them, and likewise with the principles of the reformed churches 
themselves, as cannot be admitted, and therefore such a government may 
not be. 

That according to the Scriptures such a standing presbyterial government 


necessarily draws such a standing special relation, we endeavour to evince by 
parts, thus. 

1. They must have the relation of elders, for church and elders are 
relatives. And the argument for the presbyterial government is taken by the 
presbyterial divines from this, that many congregations in Scripture are made 
one church, and the elders thereof elders of that church. This we had the 
greatest reason to take for granted from the former writings and expressions 
of the presbyterial divines ; yea, the main arguments by which themselves have 
proved this government, have been taken from this, that many congregations 
in the New Testament do make one church, and the elders thereof elders of 
that one church, and therefore are to govern that church. And this we 
have the greatest reason to take for granted still, for in the proof which was 
presented to the honourable houses of parliament by the reverend assembly 
(and before we entered into the debate was brought in by the committee in 
the instance of the church of Jerusalem), this is one medium, that mention 
is made of multitudes there as of one church, and of elders as the elders of 
that church. Yea, and there being no mention made of any distinct parti- 
cular congregations or churches therein, but of a church, and the elders 
thereof, as thereby the prime notion of a church is held forth and attributed 
thereto, so the prime and more principal relation of elders, as elders to this 
one church, and every member of them, is imported, and so as true and as 
genuine a relation (according to the Scripture's intent and expression) must 
be supposed to be intended, as can be supposed between any particular con- 
gregation and their elders. Yea, and moreover, to make out the presbyterial 
government over those many congregations, as one church, whilst the apostles 
were the rulers of it, the apostles themselves are made to act and become as 
ordinary elders to that church. It was therefore desired that they who should 
deny this proposition would raze out of their writings for ever all such expres- 
sions ; and that in the proofs after to be brought to establish the presbytery, 
they would forbear that medium, which yet, as a main stud in this building, 
cannot be wanting. 

2. This relation, which these elders have, must be a more special rela- 
tion, as is evident from the practice and principles of this government. For 
when the congregations in shires are divided into several presbyteries or 
deaneries, the elders (though neighbours) of a bordering presbytery inter- 
meddle not with the congregations under another presbytery, and yet they 
are for their office elders. It is therefore a special relation puts the differ- 
ence, that those of these presbyteries judge the congregations under them, as 
having a special relation to them, such as not to other congregations. So the 
elders of the church of Jerusalem, as they all had the relation of elders 
to that church, so they had a special relation to that church ; and the church 
was an entire distinct church within itself from the rest of the churches in 
Judea, and the elders of that church were in such a special manner elders 
thereof as of no church else in Judea; yea, in such a sense as they might be 
said not to be elders of those other churches, but of this. 

3. It is an ordinary standing relation ; for they exercise and assume a con- 
stant and ordinary power, as the presbyters of lesser congregations do. Their 
meetings as elders in a presbytery are constant and ordinary, as those of the 
lesser presbyteries are; and as these are established for the smaller matters 
of government, so these always are for the greater and most solemn, and they 
are both alike ordinary; for their meeting, work, and exercise of power being 
standing, their relation must be suitable and answerable to that of elders in 
their congregations respectively. 

Unto the argument several answers were given by the reverend respon- 

Chap. V.] the churches of christ. 215 

dents. 1. Some said that they meet not qua elders, only qui; they meet as 
commissioners, but not as elders. But this answer is taken away by the first 
and second argument, which proves they have the relation of elders in ruling. 
2. It was denied by others, that if they make up a presbytery to these con- 
gregations, and all the people of them, that then they must bear the relation 
of elders to these congregations, and every member of them ; for though they 
are elders taken singly and apart, as in relation to their several congregations 
which they are affixed unto ; yet in this their conjunction into a common 
presbytery over them all, they bear not the relation of elders, but of a pres- 
bytery or eldership acting all in common. For as all these congregations, 
under this government, are to be considered as one body, and as making up 
one church, so all these elders, met in this community, are to be considered 
as one body and comm.unity ; and therefore, although they be considered alto- 
gether a presbytery to that whole church, yet it follows not that they bear 
the relation of elders to each congregation or person they govern ; for accord- 
to that logic rule, quod convenit totl qua toti, non convenit cuilibet parti, what 
agrees to the whole, as a whole, doth not agree to every part. These elders, 
as in a presbytery, make one totum a gg re;/ at urn; and these congregations, as 
making up one church, make another totum ar/firei/atnm correlative thereunto ; 
but take any elder out of this presbytery, and consider him in a single rela- 
tion to any of those churches under the presbytery, and he is not an elder 
of any of those churches, no more than if you take any member of all those 
congregations that make up a classical church, it would follow that there- 
fore he is a member of all those many congregations, whereas he is only a 
member of that community as making one church. And it was exemplified 
thus, that in Judah the heads of the tribes governed the tribes, but so as the 
heads of the tribe of Benjamin were not the heads of the tribe of Manasseh; 
and so in the university, the particular heads of Trinity College and of 
Queen's College are altogether heads of the university as a common body, 
but it follows not that the head of Trinity College is head of Queen's and 
of all other colleges. And so in parliament, a burgess of Warwickshire acts 
for all England, yet it follows not he is a burgess of Norfolk; so the case is 
here, they are elders in semu compodto, as united into one presbytery or 
community, but not in sensu diviso, to each of these congregations, but each 
to their proper congregations to which they are afiixed ; as the colonels in an 
army are colonels but to their several regiments, yet they all join in one body 
as a council of war to the whole army. And so these are elders here in sensu 
agfirefjato, collectively to all the congregations, though apart with a more 
special relation to each. It was retorted also that in a particular congrega- 
tion, according to our principles, the community of all the brethren have 
power over any particular member, as Thomas and Peter, with the rest, over 
John ; but it follows not that Peter hath power over John apart, but only as 
in this community considered; and so in this presbytery, all these elders are 
a presbytery to the whole, but yet bear not the relation of elders to each apart 
considered. But we answer, 

1. That we had the greatest reason to take it for granted (from the former 
writings and expressions of the presbyterial divines, as also because the mam 
arguments, by which themselves had proved this government, have been taken 
from it), that many congregations in the New Testament do make up one church, 
and that the elders thereof are elders of that one church, and therefore they 
are to govern that church. 

2. That logical axiom is indeed true, quod convenit toti, qua toti, non con- 
venit cuilibet parti ; and so here, that which doth competere toti, to the whole 
of those elders, belongs not to every part ; for take them all as met together, 


they are a presbytery, and accordingly each elder is not a presbytery to all 
these congregations. Nor doth the argument suppose it, but only that if 
they all be a common presbytery to all these congregations, that then they 
bear the relation of elders to them. Thus in a particular congregation, 
though all the elders are acknowledged by all to be elders to every member 
of the congregation, yet each cannot be said to be a presbytery to the whole 
or each member; for that which belongs to the whole as the whole, belongs 
not to every part. That indeed which belongs to an aggregate whole, or col- 
lective community, formally considered as such, cannot be attributed to every 
part; but what materially belongs to them, belongs to each apart. As take 
an heap of stones, it is true each stone is not an heap of stones, but each 
stone is a stone ; and both the stones apart and as an heap may be said to 
be such or such a man's propriety, and to relate to him ; so this company of 
elders must be supposed both a presbytery and also elders to this whole 
people, and every member of them. 

3. If they be a presbytery in common to those congregations, then accord- 
ing to the Scripture notion and expression (and what the Scriptures hold 
forth is the subject-matter of this debate), they bear the relation of elders 
also ; and then they must be such elders as the exhortations and duties of 
elders mentioned do concern. Now, this consequence we make good by 
these arguments. 

(1,) The Scriptures would have the people look at them, and honour them 
as elders in all acts of ruling and governing, those especially wherein the 
most and chief of government lies, and wherein the excellency of their ruling 
is seen. Now the chief of the acts of government, and the most excellent 
thereof, are assumed and exercised by these elders, met in a common pres- 
bytery, as excommunication, &c. And therefore they that exercise such acts 
of government over congregations, must bear the relation of elders to them ; 
for upon that relation we are to honour them as performing this rule, and 
under that relation they must be said to perform it : ' The elders that rule 
well are worthy of double honour, especially those that labour in the word 
and doctrine,' 1 Tim. v, 17. From whom are they to have this honour given 
them, but from the people under them, and to be honoured in their relation ; 
and this as well in ruling as in preaching, though an especially is put upon 
that. And therefore, if in giving this honour to them that labour in preach- 
ing to them, they are to look at them, under the relation of elders, and their 
elders labouring in the word to them, then, in giving that honour to them 
that rule them, they are so to look upon them, and therefore they must sus- 
tain that relation in that ruling ; and besides, otherwise we destroy the relation 
of elders as elders in the highest acts of governing, which are exercised in a 
presbytery, whereas the apostle calls them elders in ruling as well as in 

(2.) The New Testament doth indifferently and promiscuously use the word 
presbytery and the word elders of the same persons, in relation to the same 
people ; and therefore to whom the elders are supposed to be a presbytery, to 
them they must bear the relation of elders. That the phrase is promiscuously 
used, is evident by Mat, xxi, 33, where those that are called ' elders of the 
people' are called, Luke xxii, 66, rh '7r§cgj3vrB^/ov rou Xdov, ' the presbytery 
of the people,' so that if they were related as a presbytery to the people, to 
the same people they were related as elders. Neither are they said to be 
elders in relation to their being a presbytery, but to the people ; therefore it 
is not said the elders of the presbytery, but of the people, as bearing a direct 
relation as elders to the people ; and so in analogy thereunto, if they be a 
presbytery to many congregations, they must be supposed elders of those 

Chap. V.] the chtjkches of christ. 217 

congregations ; for to whomever they are a presbytery, to them they are 
elders ; and to whomever they are elders, to them upon occasion they are a 
presbytery. And in analogy, the New Testament useth the word ■presbytery 
as under the gospel but once, and in all places else, the Holy Ghost still, when 
he exhorts them to their duties, calls them elders, or them * that have the 
rule over you;' and yet, in all those places, he intends to involve the duty 
of elders as met in a presbytery, as well as those singly performed to each 

(3.) It is evident from the like parallel instance of the eldership of a parti- 
cular congregation, where the elders bear the relation of elders to each member, 
and when met in common, they are an eldership or presbytery in common to 
that church, and each member of it. And then this their being a community 
takes not away their relation of being elders, as, if the answer given by the 
respondents should hold, it would; for they would only be a presbytery, and 
not elders in that community, whenas they never are elders more than then, 
and are not elders of that church, because met in a presbytery, but therefore 
meet in a presbytery over that congregation, because they personally bear the 
relation of elders to it ; and when they meet in that presbytery, they are 
elders particularly to each member, as well as are universal elders in the 
assembled presbytery. The Scripture commits the care of churches to these 
aa in a presbytery, as well as out of it ; and therefore they are elders of their 
particular flock in this presbytery, as well as when out of it. Thus (Acts 
XX. 28) all the care of the flock was committed to them as elders, and having 
relation to it as such ; and therefore when met in a presbytery (therein to 
have care of the flock, or any member of it) they were elders to it. And they 
are therefore to meet in a presbytery, because they were first elders to their 
several respective congregations ; and that they must be acknowledged elders 
of all the people in those congregations, the very instance itself alleged by our 
brethren will evidently clear ; for the general elders of all the tribes werS' 
called elders of the people, Mat. xxi. So as suppose the same individual 
persons had been members of the general sanhedrim, or common eldership 
of the people, and also elders of the tribes respectively, yet they might as 
justly be caUed elders of all those tribes in their general relation, for such 
ends and purposes, as truly as they were elders to their particular tribes, for 
other ends and purposes. Now, therefore, by like reason must all the elders 
in this common presbytery have the relation of elders to all the congregations, 
as well as severally they have their proper relations to their several congre- 
gations. For if, in the instance given of the Jewish government, we take all 
causes common to all the tribes, as the elders of Manasseh were elders to the 
tribe of Benjamin, so in like manner must these elders of a presbytery, in 
common to all these congregations, be supposed to be to each congregation, 
when any cause comes afore them in their cognisance. 

(4.) Lastly, Those places and exhortations of Scripture concerning the 
duties of elders, &c., to their flocks, and their flocks to them, may be alleged 
to strengthen the argument : Heb. xiii. 7, ' Remember them that have the rule 
over you, and have spoken the word of God to you.' And 1 Thess. v. 12, 
' Know them which labour among you, and are over you, and admonish you.' 
And to the same purpose is the charge. Acts xx., to the elders of Ephesus, 
* Feed the tlock,' &c. These are all spoken of them, and to them, under the 
very notion and relation of elders and rulers (which is equivalent), and as 
their rulers and elders. And surely if any person in a congregation were 
called afore one of those presbyteries over many congregations, they would 
urge upon the conscience of the person these and the like places, to obey 
them by virtue of these commands. If he should reply, that these places 


speak of such as have the relation of elders to their flocks, and every person 
therein ; and that by virtue of their being such to them this obedience is 
urged upon them ; but you of the presbytery do not own the elders of your 
presbytery to have a relation to the congregation I am of, and so I am quit 
of obedience to you ; how could they, by virtue of these places, holding this 
principle, that they have not the relation of elders to him, enforce obedience 
from him ? And how will his conscience ever be brought to a submission to 
their sentence against him, if not satisfied of this relation to him thus speci- 
fied ? And yet would not these elders, by the presbyterial principles, expect 
equal, if not more obedience from him, than the elders of that particular con- 
gregation he is a member of would do ? I am sure that in practice they 
assume more ; and I doubt not, but any one of these elders, or all of them 
apart, would as authoritatively admonish him (as an elder to him) in private 
after the cause is brought afore the presbytery, to obey and submit to them, 
as any of his own elders would do before or after their public admonition, 
and would require obedience to him as an elder, by virtue of these places of 
Scripture ■ before mentioned. If therefore they would require it, then the 
relation must be the same ; yea, do not often some few of the elders of a 
common presbytery come into particular congregations, and perform acts of 
government, and ordain elders to them ; and, in case of obstinacy, excom- 
municate the elders of any particular congregation ? Upon what plea of 
authority do they this ? as elders to that particular congregation or not ? 

4. We come now to consider the other distinction : 1, Of their being 
elders only in a community to all these congregations as one church, in sensu 
(i'JiP'^Odto ; and, 2, of their being apart elders unto their particular congre- 
gations respectively. And so the duties mentioned of feeding the flock, &c., 
concern them only as considered apart ; but acts of government belong to 
them as elders in a presbytery. We reply, 1, that this answer supposeth 
two distinct difi"ering relations, the one a more particular relation of elders, 
as proper elders to their several congregations apart ; and another more com- 
mon relation of the same persons considered as elders merely, as in a pres- 
bytery. Now, for the confirmation or establishment of this distinction, by 
the one side or the other, the foundation on which we proceed must be 
remembered, viz., what the Scriptures hold forth; and therefore whatever 
suppositions or instances may be found in other constitutions, to illustrate 
such distinctions here, yet, if what the New Testament speaks of elders in 
relation to their flock, warranteth it not, yea, crosseth it, it may not be. 
Now then, it is to be considered that, when the New Testament speaks of 
elders and churches, it speaks universally, and without distinction of a dif- 
ferent relation. It calls them simply and singly elders of the church, and 
delivers (in that relation) to their church they were elders of, exhortations to 
their duties, which that relation specially called for ; and in those exhorta- 
tions intends their duties, as their elders, met in a presbytery, as well as 
those they are to perform in other ministrations towards their flocks ; and on 
the other side, exhorts the people, in like similar expressions, to obey and 
honour their elders that preach the word, rule them, and admonish them, 
prescribing obedience to them in their rule as a presbytery, as well as in 
other administrations ; and all this without any distinction of this relation 
of elders, in common and in special. And farther it is enjoined, that these 
presbyterial elders must perform those duties which belong to their ofliee, 
unto all those they are thus elders unto, without any manifest distinction 
of any several bounds of this so diff'ering relation. This evidently argueth 
that there is but one single relation of elders to one flock, to whom thej per- 
form these duties, and that the same that preach ought to rule them in pub- 

Chap. V.] the churches of christ. 


lie ; and that the same persons that admonish them privately, do also in the 
pubHc presbytery rule them ; and that the same persons that rule them in 
those public presbyteries do admonish them in private. So then, the same 
persons sustain in the Holy Ghost's intention and view, when he made those 
exhortations, one and the same univocal relation of elders to their flocks, 
committed by him to them, whether they be met in a presbytery for acts of 
government, or otherwise perform the duties of elders apart. And it is evi- 
dent, that in a particular congregation they are elders in one univocal simi- 
lar relation unto the whole flock, and every member thereof. But now this 
is the wonder, that when elders are thus aflixed to particular congregations, 
and that their relation is a diflering relation from that other in common 
presbyteries (yea, so vastly diflering, that our brethren dare scarce acknow- 
ledge them elders, calling them rather a presbytery than elders of those 
churches), that yet the exhortations in the Scriptures should so univocally 
fall on them, to so diflering duties, founded on different relations ; and that 
yet this only general relation of elders to their particular congregations 
should not be mentioned apart, and the duties accompanying it, singled 
out from the rest, seems to us very strange. Yea, and to direct the dis- 
charge of the duties of the people likewise to either of these elders (that they 
might know what duties to perform to their more proper elders, acknow- 
ledged theirs by way of so eminent and diflering a relation, and what to those 
more common ; and that all confusion might be prevented, that the one 
assume not the duties of the other), it was as necessary to have set the dif- 
fering limits of these, as to set the bounds of ofiicers in the church, which 
the Holy Ghost hath done. 

2. And secondly, if tliere had been this differing relation of elders, which 
from those similitudes in commonwealths, armies, and universities is given, 
it was necessary that the Scripture should have held it forth, either by differ- 
ing names and respects, or by diflering charges, whereby it might appear that 
this relation obligeth them to this duty, and the other relation to that ; which 
being not done in Scripture, the distinction will not pass upon us. That it 
is thought necessary that the Scripture should prescribe herein, appears 
from the instances brought by the reverend respondents. As, 1, that of 
the tribes, where there were general elders of all the tribes, and there were 
(and perhaps some of them the same men) heads and elders of tribes ; but 
as this was a differing relation and respect in the same or diverse persons, 
so they had names and titles of difference and distinction ; for the heads ge- 
neral (as we call them) were called elders of the people ; the particular 
elders of particular tribes were called, by way of distinction from them, 
elders of such cities, families, &c. ; and there were as distinct laws given, so 
that in some causes the elders of the several tribes did judge such and such 
particulars in their tribes respectively ; and the general elders had reserved 
cases of war, blasphemy, &c. 

So in that instance of heads of colleges and heads of the university, there 
is a differing relation, so a distinguishing character ; for the names are 
changed, since the particular bodies are called colleges, and the general body 
the university. And their several special relation to their colleges is ex- 
pressed by the title of masters of such or such colleges, and the other by the 
title of heads to the university. Yea, and accordingly there are diflering 
statutes, the local statutes for each college apart, or for colleges as colleges, 
and the duties of masters in their special relations ; and there are statutes 
for the university, and for their duties as heads of it. And this distinction 
or diflerence was necessary here too, if there were this diflering relation ; but, 
for the case in hand, if we come to the New Testament, to find out the 


several modifications and relations of elders therein, we still read but simply 
and singly, elders and churches, as relatives, without any such note of distinc- 
tion of a classical church, and the presbytery thereof, and the congregational 
church, and the elders thereof. The New Testament, in all its mentioning 
of elders, speaks uniformly of them as elders of the church, and this rule is 
to us certain. Ubi Scripium non distinr/uit, nee debemus distinguere, where the 
Scripture makes no distinction, we ought not to make any. 

But, however, I will represent the difference between us and our brethren 
by the proposition of such a case in law as this is : If all the records and ruled 
cases and laws of this kingdom should, in setting down the ordinary govern- 
ment thereof, have made mention only and singly of burgesses (as the rulers) 
of corporations (as the correlate to them), and used no other distinguishing 
word (when yet there were undeniably burgesses of every incorporate town 
continued from antiquity), might any one afterwards pretend that this word 
corporation was intended by our ancestors to import an association or com- 
munity of many of these corporations in one shire ; and that by burgesses of 
these corporations were meant a community of all these burgesses in one 
body for government ; and so pretend to the same name without distinction, 
and say that these communities were also meant, and to prove it, give in- 
stance in some foreign government, where there are states general of pro- 
vinces, and states particular of cities, whenas they have in their laws a 
distinction and differencing character, but in the laws of this kingdom there 
is no such distinction made ? But now, if the laws about the choice of such 
burgesses in each corporation, and the duties given them in charge, and their 
relation to their corporations, do run without any distinction of what the 
burgesses in the supposed greater corporations should do in that relation and 
community, from what the same burgesses in their lesser corporations do in 
their more proper relations ; yea, and if the duties set down in those laws, 
mutually between corporations and those burgesses, should argue an incon- 
sistency with the government of burgesses over many corporations in com- 
mon ; but should all naturally fall in with that of burgesses over single 
corporations, and argue such a relation, would not this plainly evidence that 
therefore the laws of the kingdom did hold forth, there might not be (that is, 
according to the laws thereof), such a government of the burgesses of corpo- 
rations over many others ? And if, in answer to such arguments, it should 
be said, that both these might be consistent ; for that in other foreign states, 
and kingdoms, and societies, there are burgesses of particular corporations, 
and there are burgesses in an assembly of parliament (so called by way of dis- 
tinction) met in common for the ordinary government of all those corpora- 
tions in common, and therefore the like may be here in this ; the reply were 
easy, that whatever such distinction there is in other states, yet the question 
is of such burgesses as the laws of this state holds forth, and as this kingdom 
hath set up, where there is no such distinction of burgesses of corporations 
and burgesses in parliament mentioned ; but, on the contrary, only one single 
uniform style and title in the laws, namely, burgesses of the corporations ; 
and further, the rules about their choice and duties mutually between them, 
and the corporation they have relation to, be also delivered without any dif- 
ference ; which doth argue them to have been anciently the relation of bur- 
gesses to some one corporation, and not many, yea, to be utterly incongruous 
and inconsistent with such a manifold relation. Now, parallel to this case, 
are our arguments, and the answers given to the arguments of our presby- 
terian brethren. 

But they retort the argument upon us, and say, that it follows no more 
that they are to be elders to each congregation, because joined in a common 

Chap. VI. j the churches of christ. 221 

presbytery, than that in a particular congregation, Peter, or one member 
apart, hath a power over John, because, in community with the rest of the 
brethren, he hath power over any one. 

We answer, that let this parallel decide it, and then, as the foundation of 
any one member's having an interest in that community over John or any 
other, consists in this, that he stands in the relation of a brother to John, 
as a member of that church, and so ip like manner to all the rest of the 
members in that community ; so likewise all, and every one, when in that 
common fraternity, stand in the very same relation of brethren to John, as 
well as when they are apart out of it, and do not become brethren, having 
power over him, because met in a community, but therefore meet, because, as 
brethren, this duty lies on them in common, to judge him, as much as in 
private to admonish him, and so one and the same relation puts them upon 
both these duties. And in Scripture, the exhortations run to the same 
persons to perform these duties, though of differing sort, because of their 
I'elation as brethren. Let this parallel be applied to the thing in hand, and 
as it answers the instance, so it strengthens our argument. 

Lastly, If they be acknowledged to have the relation of elders as assem- 
bled in a presbytery, and in that respect to have a relation to all the people 
in the several congregations, yet still the same incongruities mentioned will 
follow upon it. For many of those duties, from all the congregation, as 
honour, maintenance, &c., are due to them, as well as to their own elders, 
for that their work's sake ; and the acts, too, also of these elders in this 
presbytery, though in common, are the most eminent acts that belong to the 
office of elders, and in which the consciences and interest of the people, and 
each member, is as much concerned, as in the daily preaching of their more 
proper elders (as for distinction's sake we now call them), for they have power, 
and they alone, to cut them off' from all ordinances, and to deliver them unto 
Satan. Now, then, if they are to be interested in the choice of their proper 
elders, to rule them in smaller things, then their concern ought to be as 
much in the choice of, and consenting to these their general elders, and they 
should be present at the ordination of all of them ; for one great part of their 
function is to be exercised towards any and all of those congregations, in a 
standing way, yea, and to rule them in matters of the greatest concernment. 
Thus, then, so far as they are acknowledged elders, so far these inconveni- 
ences will still follow upon the heels of that acknowledgment ; and the 
Scriptures indifferently speaking of the same thing, without distinction of 
both these kinds of relations, under the common name of elders, the people 
have as much cause to challenge their right about the one as they have about 
the other, and these elders may expect the same (by virtue of those scrip- 
tures) from the people. 


The incongndties which flow from the elders of a preshjterij sustaining special 
relation of elders to all the particular congregations. 

I have proved that if a presbytery be set over many congregations, the 
presbyters thereof must bear a special relation of constant and established 
elders to all those congregations. I shall now evince, that for these elders 
already fixed to several charges, to sustain also a special relation of ordinary 
and standing elders to all these congregations, as one church, and all the 


people thereof as members of that church, carries with it great and manifold 
incongruities and inconsistencies also, with what the Scriptures hold forth 
concerning elders and other officers of churches, as also with the principles 
professed by the reformed churches themselves. 

1. This breeds an incongruous disproportion between the relation of the 
officers of a church, of this sort of officers, namely, elders, in the extent of 
their relation and power ; and of those other sort of officers of the churches 
acknowledged by the reformed churches, viz. deacons. Now let us there- 
fore put it to the examination of the conscientious, whether what the Scrip- 
ture speaks of elders, and of their commission, duties, &c., in their several 
relations to the flock under them, will aff'ord clearer characters of the extent 
of their standing government, to be congregational to one congregation, than 
of its being classical over many. Yea, let us see whether the descriptions 
of elders, and exhortations given unto them concerning their several charges, 
do not plainly overthrow any such relation of elders (as elders) unto many 
congregations, as inconsistent thereunto. Sui'ely unto us there appear many 
great and unanswerable incongruities and inconsistencies in this classical 

If we compare the extent of this office of elders in their relation with the 
extent of other church officers in their relation, we shall find that what holds 
true of one sort of ordinary officers of a church, according to the word, may 
well be supposed to hold true of another ; or else there is a disproportion 
between the several relations of officers, and the one is not of like extent 
with the other, which yet the Scriptures make commensurable, and to be 
of equal extent. More plainly, if the Scriptures had intended, and held 
forth many churches as making one church ; and the elders of those many 
churches to have been elders in common to those churches, as one church ; 
then the deacons of all those churches should make up a common deaconry, 
and be deacons in common unto all those churches in an ordinary way, as 
the other are elders. But this is contrary to the practice of the reformed 
churches, though subject to the presbyterial government, in which the 
deacons have the ordinary relation of deacons, in no respect extended further 
than to a particular congregation ; nor do they exercise acts of that office in 
a set way to other congregations, nor to neighbour congregations more 
than to another, much less is there a common deaconship of them all. And 
yet, why should not this common deaconry be erected over all those churches 
as one church, as well as a common eldership, especially if in matters of 
this nature a parity of reason should carry it ? For, 

1. A church in Scripture, and all the officers, are alike relatives, as a 
church and the elders are. The best of the presbyterial arguments for this 
common presbytery are foimded upon the commensurable extent and relation 
of church and elders, that if any churches make one church, then the 
elders of them all make one eldership, and they are elders in common unto 
them ; then why not the deacons also ? Now this reason of theirs, fetched 
from this mutual relation of one church, and one eldership or elders thereof, 
will require the like for deacons; for every church, as it is a church, being a 
body, hath a relation to all its officers as organical members thereof. As we 
have it asserted, Kom. xii. 4, ' As we have many members in one body, and 
all members have not the same office,' so it is also in the church of Christ ; 
and the members have several offices in the church, which he mentioneth, 
ver. 8 ; and so if that church of Rome were one body, and a church of many 
churches, then the deacons were deacons in common of those many churches 
as they all were one church. For as the pastor's and teacher's office is held 
forth in that following description, ver. 8, ' he that exhorteth,' and ' he that 

Chap. YI.] the churches of christ. 223 

teacheth,' so the deacon's in that, * he that giveth.' And in the analogy of 
the natural body (to which there the apostle refers us, to exemplify this of a 
church organised with officers, as a body to Christ), though one member 
may be less and inferior to another in bulk or use, yet it is a member of that 
whole body in its use. The little finger is a finger of the whole body, as 
well as the arm is a member of the whole ; the foot that serves the whole 
body is a member in its ; office as fully as the hand, and the extent of its 
jurisdiction or use, according to its kind, is the same, by virtue of the same 
relations. If, therefore, these are elders in common, or an eldership do rule 
in common those congregations as one church, and as organical members 
thereof, as one body, then why should not the deacons, in as ordinary a 
way, perform their office in common, and bear the relation of deacons in 
common unto all as one church ? And, 

2. The Scriptures do confirm this like commensurable extent of the 
deacons' and elders' offices, as relating to a church, for the apostle writing to 
Philippi, a church in a city (which therefore we suppose our brethren will 
needs have to have been a presbyterial church, of many congregations, lest 
any one instance of a complete congregational church should be left unto us), 
he wi'ites to the bishops (the elders) and the deacons of that church. And 
Acts vi., the deacons of the church of Jerusalem (if there were many con- 
gregations, as our brethren suppose) were chosen by the whole multitude 
when gathered together by the twelve, and therefore were deacons of that 
whole church, as well as the elders were elders thereof. Now if the deacon's 
office should thus be extended to all the congregations, as the elder's is, then 
why should not each church be bound to bring contributions to the deacons 
of each church, to be distributed in common ; and so our purses should be 
subject to the deacons in common, as far as our consciences to the elders in 
common, and they might challenge the same power in their office over the 
one that the elders do over the other ; and then also each congregation were 
in as ordinary and standing an obligation bound to relieve all the poor in 
those churches, as well as those in their own, not only by the common law 
of charity, but by virtue of a special relation of their being one church, which 
relation in all these things doth beget the like obligation that it doth in 
government, and so all things in this nature should be alike common to all 
and each, and there should be a common treasury for this one great diaconate 
chm'ch (as we may in a parallel allusion to that other name of presbyterial 
call it), as there is a common rer/imeii or government for this great presby- 
terial church. This strange disproportion between the officers or members 
of this body which the presbyterial government doth make, seems to us, at 
least, unnatural, whereas this (as all other things) fall in suitably and natur- 
ally, when the relation of elders and elderships is extended no further than 
each congregation, which, as it is to be an organical body unto Christ, so 
the officers and members thereof, according to the law of nature, are alike 
members of and for that body, and the use, service, relation, of all and each 
in their several kinds bear a like proportion to the whole. And that, even 
by the practice and judgment of the reformed churches themselves, the 
deacons are confined to each particular congregation, is to us a testimony 
(as the remaining office of overseers for the poor under the episcopal govern- 
ment hath been judged a pregnant evidence of the deacon's office once in the 
church) that the limits of a church and elders were all once within a parti- 
cular congregation, although the elders, because a superior office, have 
assumed to extend their power and jurisdiction in their kind further than the 
other more inferior in theirs. 

But let it be supposed that some reason of difference might be given of 


this disproportion in the elders' office, and the deacons', and that a common 
deaconry would not follow upon a common presbytery ; yet, 

2. There are other as great incongruities will fall upon the very relations 
of the elders' office themselves, which this frame of fixed elders to some con- 
gregations respectivel}', and yet of ordinary elders to all of them, causeth. 
God hath made some preaching elders, some ruling elders (as the reformed 
churches allow) or church governors, to assist the pastors in government. 
And to preaching elders both preaching and ruling belongs, which are con- 
junct in that office, according to the principles of the presbyterial govern- 
ment and the Scriptures. But the business of ruling belongs only to the 
other, and by this they are distinct, as two subordinate species, or as the 
sensitive and reasonable soul, whereof the one hath sense only in all its acts, 
the other both sense and reason, and yet are specifically distinct. 

Every church of Christ is a body ordered. Col. ii. 1, 'rejoicing' (says Paul) 
' to see your order.' And the intent of the presbyterial goverment is professed 
to be, to preserve order in the church ; and if in anything this order is most 
to be seen, it is in the distinction and order of the officers thereof. Now 
this frame of government brings in a great disorder in the offices and officers, 
and confounds them and their relations. To demonstrate this, let us con- 
sider the pastors, or preaching elders. They are all undeniably preaching 
elders to their particular congregations, of which they are the fixed pastors ; 
and yet they have another relation of elders (by means of this presbyterial 
government) to all these congregations, considered as one church ; and if 
these pastors be any way elders to both, they must sustain the title of both 
sorts of elders in these two differing relations, which is an evident confound- 
ing of both these offices in one and the same person. For, 

1. It is evident that they do each apart bear the title and relation of 
preaching elders unto their particular congregations, and such pastors, or 
such preaching elders, they can be to no more or other than those they 
ordinarily preach unto, for they labour in the word and doctrine unto no 
other ; and this is the character of distinction from the other elders and 
governors in 1 Tim. v. 17. And it is evident that they, being fixed each as 
pastors to their particular congregations, cannot labour in the word and doctrine 
to them all ; therefore they sustain this title in distinction of elders only unto 
those their several charges. And it is certain that all offices have their dis- 
tinction and denomination from that special praxis or function they are 
ordained unto, as that is an eye to the body whose praxis or function is to 
see for the whole body. They can therefore be said to be preaching elders 
to no other of this classical church than that praxis of preaching is extended 
unto. It is an argument which Whitaker useth against the pope, and our 
divines make use of it against the bishops, that nor he nor they can be said 
to be pastors unto all they jet pretended to be pastors unto, because they 
are not able to exercise the functions of pastors unto them. Therefore, 

2. We ask what sort of elders the pastors are that are in this common 
presbytery ? What sort of relation of elders do they bear to this one pi'es- 
byterial church, over and above that relation they as pastors bear to their 
own (and this church and elders as elders are relatives, as well as the parti- 
cular congregations and their elders, or else this great church must want its 
correlative of elders to it) ? Surely they bear no other relation than of ruling 
elders, if they be elders at all (and to make them no elders, and not to have 
the relation of elders to this great church in this presbytery, we believe will 
not be affirmed) ; and if they be elders, then the notion of their being elders 
must have one of those two fore-mentioned formal diflerences annexed to it, 
either of preaching elders or merely ruling ; and this difference and denomi- 

Chap. VI.] the churches of christ. 225 

nation must be fetched (as was said afore) from the differing praxis or use 
they serve for. And it is evident that the ordinary acts they serve for and 
exercise in those common presbyteries are merely acts of ruHng elders (in all 
which therefore ruling elders concur in common with them), and accordingly 
it is called the presbyterian government. 

And further, the power of an office in the church (though exercised but as 
conjoined with others) is a relation in respect to some administration in a 
constancy ; now the constant and ordinary administration they serve for in 
such a presbytery is only ruling, not teaching, there being no acts but such 
that ruling elders join in. So as by this frame, the same preaching elder 
or pastor must bear two sorts of ordinary offices in these two- relations, of a 
preaching and a mere ruling elder, as if one were both a physician and a 
chirurgeon, and were fixed to one of the companies in the city to practise 
physic to them, he sustained the office of a physician to that company ; and 
if he were besides called to practise chirurgery to many other companies, he 
were certainly only a chirurgeon unto them, as truly as a physician to the 
other. So as we shall not need to dispute the point of ruling elders any 
more ; for here are such as are elders, acknowledged such by all sides, and 
yet for the sort of their office but plain ruhng elders, and deserve properly 
in this relation no other name, if we hold the presbyterial government ; 
and they are as truly and properly to this presbyterial church such, and no 
other, as those governors that preach not at all are unto those they are 
elders unto. 

And this incongruity no distinction will salve ; call them elders in this 
presbytery, in what sense you please, whether in sensu diviso or cvnjuncto, 
yet elders they are ; and if so, then one of these two sorts of elders they 
must be to this presbyterial church, either both preaching and ruling elders, 
or merely ruling. Their being elders together in this presbytery, cannot be 
supposed to divest them of the title of some sort of elders (and there is not 
a third sort), no more than the elders of a congregation, met in a presbytery, 
do thereby lose the title of elders which they sustain to that congregation, 
or no more (as was even now instanced) than when the body hath two eyes 
that always concur in one act of sight, either of them should not be denomi- 
nated eyes unto the body apart, and the one called the left, and the other 
the right. 

The disorder and confusion hereby may be further set out, 1. That by 
this means the same officer hath a full relation to one church, and but half 
a relation unto another ; and it causeth him to perform the whole of his 
offices to one church (the particular church) to which he hath relation, and 
but the half thereof to the other. And 2. It makes an ordinary pastor, not 
only perform the work of two officers, but to bear the relation of two offices; 
for in his several relations to these two several churches, his congregational 
and classical, his relations are parted and divided. 

And it brings up the same absurdity which was put upon episcopal 
•government, that a bishop, professing himself to bear the relation of a pastor 
to the whole diocese, yet was but a ruling elder to them, not a teaching. 

3. To extend a pastor's power of ordinary ruling beyond the extent of 
his ordinary teaching, is against the order which Christ hath set (and all 
extent of power must as well have an institution of Christ, as the power or 
office itself; for the difference of evangelists, and of ordinary pastors, lay 
but in extent of power), and then we argue thus : If the extent of a pastor's 
ordinary ruling power, as a pastor and elder, be but to the flock, as his 
whole flock, which he is able to feed, then to bear the relation of a pastor 



or elder for ordinary government to any more than he is able, and doth thus 
feed, may not be ; but the extent of a pastor's ordinary ruling power is but 
to that flock, as his whole flock, which he is able to feed. And this argu- 
ment, as also the former, besides that it serves to make up more incongrui- 
ties of this presbyterial government, so it might stand alone, and make a 
complete argument of itself against it ; for if the pastor's ordinary power in 
ruling be not to be extended further than of his ordinary preaching, then 
this ordinary standing government of pastors fixed for preaching to their own 
congregations may not be over those many in common. 

Now, that the extent of a pastor's ordinary ruling power reacheth only to 
that flock which he is able to feed, I prove, 1, by Scripture ; 2, by reason. 

1. I prove it by Scripture : Acts xx. 28, ' Take heed to yourselves, and 
to all the flock (the whole flock, ^ravr* rcC toz/xv/w) over which the Holy Ghost 
hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath pur- 
chased with his own blood.' Here are, 1, elders (ver. 17) spoken to. 2. 
Their having relation to a flock, an whole flock, is mentioned. 3. They are 
enjoined to 'feed the flock,' and 'the whole flock;' and all these are com- 
mensiu-able. Whence, 1, we see that the special limitation of their exten- 
sive power and relation to a flock, and to all the flock, is set by the Holy 
Ghost, and not by man ; and therefore is not to be extended by man, further 
than the .Holy Ghost hath appointed. 2. The extent of that relation is to 
that flock, and the whole flock they feed ; and they are to feed all that flock 
aUke. And if they be preaching elders, then they must feed it by preaching ; 
and therefore are overseers to them, to feed them, and because they feed 
them. 3. He speaks to preaching elders especially, that feed by doctrine ; 
for (1.) he propounds his own example to them, ver. 20, that he had re- 
vealed the whole counsel of God ; and (2.) he says, ver. 30, ' Some of you 
shall arise, speaking perverse things.' And it is Paul's farewell ; and (as 
Bains argues against bishops) those to whom at last the apostles commended 
churches, were the ordinary governors left ; but he commended them not to 
a bishop, but ordinary elders. Thus we argue also, for the extent of the 
relation of those elders, that they are to govern only that flock that they are 
able to feed ; and therefore they have not the ofiice of overseeing, as ordinary 
elders, over those whom they feed not. And Peter seconds Paul in this : 
1 Peter v. 2, ' Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the over- 
sight thereof.' The flock, Jv ■J/z./P, among you, is that flock that any of them had 
relation to, as his flock respectively. Thereupon, writing unto the churches 
in a whole nation, in chap. i. ver. 1 (whereas in Acts xx. 28, the charge is 
to the particular elders of Ephesus, to that whole flock), he therefore puts 
in that note of respectiveness, Iv v/jJv, among you, that is, that which respec- 
tively belongs to you, answerable to which is that text. Col. i. 17, ' Who is 
for you a faithful minister,' that is, your proper pastor; and Acts xiv. 23, 
they ordained elders church by church, elders to them, that is, proper 
elders to them ; so the flock, ev v/Uyh, signifies your several proper flocks that 
belong to you. Hereby it appears, that their feeding and their oversight 
over any of those flocks are commensurable ; and that flock which they are 
not able to feed, they have not the oversight over, for they are both of the 
same extent. Thus also, Heb. xiii. 7, 17, ' Remember them that have the rule 
over you, and have spoken to you the word of God,' which he speaks of preach- 
ing elders, for the extent of their rule and their preaching is all one. And 
of ruling elders he speaks, ver. 17, ' Obey them that have the rule over you ; 
for they watch for your souls, as those that must give an account.' And not 
to dispute whether these places note out two sorts of officers, preaching 
elders, ver. 7, and ruling elders, ver. 17, or but one sort, and so but several 

Chap. VI.] the churches of cheist. 227 

acts of the same office, yet this is certain, that these are commensurable, for 
they are officers together in the same church. And if the pastor's power of 
ruling extends no further than his preaching, then the mere ruling elder's 
power, or his that is assistant to him, must extend no further also. 1. Re- 
member those that have spoken the word to you. 2. Obey and submit to 
those that watch for your souls. This is the natural obligation to obedience, 
and so is the measure to set the bounds of the extent of ordinary church 
power. It is one argument used against episcopal power, that they are en- 
forced to obey him that speaks not the word to them, nor watcheth over 
their souls ; and this holds as well against these presbyterial officers. And 
when a man comes before such to be excommunicated, he may say, I am not 
bound to obey you in such an authoritative way, nor do I owe a subjection 
as to a power of censure in you ; for many, nay, most of you, have never 
spoke the word to me, nor do watch over my soul ; nay, perhaps the man 
can say he never saw their faces afore. And it avails not to say, that they 
may occasionally preach ; for the apostle, 1 Thcs. v. 12, speaking of respect 
to their officers, ' Know them,' says he, ' that labour among you, and are 
over you in the Lord, and admonish you.' These two, those that labour 
and are over you, are commensurable, and they are meant, who make it their 
callings to have the care of the flock, which the many pastors and elders in 
a common presbytery do not. But in what is it they labour ? The 1 Tim. 
V. 17 expounds it to be, 'that labour in the word and doctrine;' 'the 
eiders that rule well, as worthy of double honour, especially those that labour 
in the word and doctrine.' Axid whether you expound this latter known place 
of teaching elders only, or of ruling and teaching both (as the reformed 
churches do), however it affi)rds this to us, that the extent of ruling, in either 
the one or the other, is but as large as teaching. And if it be meant of 
teaching elders only, that both rule and labour in the word and doctrine, yet 
if they be limited in labouring in the word, as being fixed pastors to their 
own congregations, then in ruling also. And if it be meant of ruling elders 
(as distinct from them), yet their ruling is of the same extent that the others' 
labouring in the word, and that is extended but to one congregation, where 
as pastors they are fixed. And 

2. Though in a pastor's office preaching and ruling is joined, yet his 
power of ruling flows in him from, and is the adjunct of, his power to preach ; 
and to be sure it is not extendable further. And however, yet there is the 
same proportion of either ; and then by just reason, the extent of the church, 
which is the subject of his ordinary ruling, cannot be extended larger than 
what is the ordinary subject of his preaching ; and so those relations are of 
equal limits (which is the present case of a pastor's authority, appropriated to 
a congregation, and extended but to his own in an ordinary way), and to make 
the ground of a relation narrower than the extent of it is absurd. If a father 
hath the power of governing as a father, then it is extendable only to those 
he is a father to. And that a pastor hath his ordinary ruling power annexed 
to his ordinary power of preaching, we prove by these reasons. 

1. If he hath not his ruling power upon this ground, then must be assigned 
some other. He hath it not by any special faculty or office over and above 
this of preaching ; for then he should be made a ruling elder, over and above 
his being first a preaching elder, as a new faculty given him. Nor hath he 
it by being made a ruler first, and then having this of preaching superadded 
(as the bishops fii'st made deacons, then presbyters). For 

2. All the keys are given him at once, the keys of ruling with the keys 
of knowledge. The power of the staft' intrinsecally follows, his being a pastor 
or shepherd; and though the one is a power of mere order, namely, that of 


preaching, and tliat of bis ruling is of jurisdiction (to be exercised in many 
cases with others, and not alone), yet still bis receiving power to join with 
others in those acts of rule of jurisdiction, is from this power of order, and 
the ordinary extent of his authority therein is extended no further than his 
ordinary call to preaching. Yea, 

3. The extent of the power of the apostles themselves in ruling in all the 
churches was founded upon and extendable with their commission to preach ; 
and their very call and obligation being not to preach in a set and fixed rela- 
tion, as an ordinary pastor's calling is, but to all nations and in all churches, 
hence their power of ruling was answerable. It was their very call to be 
universal pastors, and therefore universal rulers ; yea, and their authority of 
ruhng was narrower in the extent of it than of their preaching. The apostles 
might preach to heathens, and their call was so to do, to convert them, but 
they had not power to rule all men : ' What have I to do to judge them that 
are without ?' says the apostle, 1 Cor. xv. 12. But in this way of presby- 
terial government, though they also may occasionally preach where they may 
not rule, yet the proportion of their ordinary ruling is extended beyond the 
proportion of their ordinary preaching, which was not so in the apostles 
themselves. Let but the same line of proportion equally be drawn over the 
apostles' power in these and theirs, according to their several measures. 
Their call to ruling was uniform to preaching in all churches, though their 
preaching was larger than their rule, namelj', to those without ; but ordinary 
pastors have a standing fixed call to preach but in one congregation. Let 
their call and power of ruling be uniform to it, and they can have an ordinary 
standing power to rule but in that congregation ; either extend both further, 
or contract both to this. It is no answer to say that they may preach as 
pastors in neighbour churches occasionally, for so they may preach to any 
reformed church, as in Scotland, where yet they have not so much as an 
occasional call to rule ; and in such occasional acts of pi-eaching also they 
have but the proportion which the apostles had, whose power in preach- 
ing was larger than of ruling, for it was extended to them without ; but still 
if an ordinary standing power in ruling, although with others (for the apostles 
exercised their power with others), should be stretched where they have not 
an ordinary standing call to preach, it should exceed the proportion of the 
apostles in that respect. 

4. And, fourthly, from hence ariseth another disproportion between these 
officers, ruling and preaching elders, compared among themselves, and it is 
such a disproportion as is like to the former alleged between the deacons and 
the elders ; for this government makes the extent of the ruling elder's ofl&ce 
and relation to be larger than that of the teacher's or pastor's ; for the pastor, 
as pastor, is limited to his particular congregation he is fixed to, as the 
deacons also are ; but the ruling elder's office, as ruling elder, is extended 
over all these congregations in this presbytery. The ruling elder performs 
his office in the highest perfection of it, as to admonish, excommunicate, &c., 
to all in these churches, but the pastors are limited as pastors in the highest 
work of their callings (which preaching is, and more excellent than ruling, 
yea, than baptizing), unto one congregation. That place in 1 Tim. v. 17, 
(interpret how you will) justifies what is asserted. 

Now these are strange disproportions, which are occasioned by this and 
the presbyterial government ; and this greatly makes for the congrega- 
tional way, wherein as to these particulars no such incongruities are found, 
but all things fall naturally uniform. 

2. A second head of incongruities and inconsistencies which will follow 
upon this government, concerns the mutual duties required, that do necessarily 

Chap. VI.] the churches of christ. 229 

follow upon this standing relation for a constant government of these elders 
to all this people of these churches, and of the people to these elders. 

1. The people of all these elders (according to what the Scripture speaks 
of as due to standing elders) owe at least honour and esteem to them, yea, 
maintenance to all of them, whether they ordinarily rule them or preach to 
them, and they owe it on both accounts : 1 Tim. iv. 17, 18, * Let the elders 
that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially that labour in 
the word and doctrine ;' which honour is (ver. 18), in the analogy of that law, 
' not to muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn ;' and this is 
certainly due to elders on account of what is the work of elders, whether 
performed apart or together by way of jurisdiction. And it cannot be denied 
but that their constant ruling, as in the presbytery, is one great part of the 
work of elders here intended, and mentioned with preaching, for which an 
especial honour is due. God appoints no constant work in the ministry, but 
he appoints a reward from those for whom it is performed ; and as they owe 
a duty of ruling to every one in the flock, as Acts xx. 28, so there is a due 
of maintenance and honour due from all this people to all and every one of 
those elders, to those that rule, as well as to those that labour in the word 
and doctrine ; and in reason, if the elders that rule well and perform the 
lesser acts of ruling in their particular congregations are to have this honour 
from them in their relations, then all these elders that rule well in the com- 
mon presbytery, and perform the greatest acts of ruling, are to have the like 
from all of that classical church ; for the emphasis being put upon ruling well, 
and in those acts done by them the excellency of ruling consisting, therefore 
to these is this honour due from this great church, more especially than from 
the lesser congregations respectively unto their proper elders. Neither will 
the distinction of being a presbytery in common salve it, for if the particular 
elders of congregations are to have this honour for what is done by them in 
their joint acts of ruling in the particular presbyteries, then these are to have 
it in what is done in their common presbyteries also ; and the precept is not 
to honour presbyteries in common in an abstract notion, but to honour elders, 
because the particular persons of the elders are to be the object of it, and 
those most who excel most in that rule, that rule well or best. But when 
there are many congregations apart who have their proper fixed pastors and 
elders, whom they maintain for performing one part of the elder's work (for 
they perform but one part of it), how shall they perform this due to all the 
rest for that other part of the work ? How burdensome, how confused, must 
this be ! And j^et due it is, for they are all one church to them. And then 
how can this duty be proportioned (suppose it should not be maintenance, 
but honour and esteem), for the people will not be able well to judge of it, 
not only because they cannot be present at their work, and so cannot judge 
of it, but because either it must be proportioned to them that are constant 
as preaching elders or as ruling ; for the ground it is there (1 Tim. v. 18) 
required upon is that they tread out their corn, and the apostle saj's, ' Esteem 
them for their work's sake that labour among you,' 1 Thes. v. 12, 13, so as 
it is to be proportioned to the work of a pastor, as pastor ; but to honour 
or esteem them as ruling elders only, were to honour the preaching elders 
below the rank and degree of their office. 

2. It also brings the like incongruity upon the performance of those duties 
of elders, which the New Testament indifferently requires of all those that 
it acknowledgeth to be elders unto a people, and therefore no such constant 
relation of elders to so many churches may be. 1. One duty is praying 
with the sick : ' Send for the elders of the church, to pray for them,' James 
V. 11. What ! are these elders of the presbyterial church bound to this ? 


And this duty lies in common upon elders of the churches ; and how shall we 
distinguish when the Scripture doth not ? 2, Another duty is visiting from 
house to house, as Paul in his example instructs the elders of Ephesus, 
Acts XX. 20. B. Another duty is watching over men's souls, as those that 
must give an account, Heb. xiii. 17 ; and that the people should obey 
them, and no warrant is given to obey others in the way of an ordinary rule. 
And to watch, is not to stay till causes are brought by appeals or so from 
the congregations, but personally to watch over them as souls committed to 
them. 4. Another duty is preaching (if they be preaching elders) in season 
and out of season. The bishops said, the flock was theirs, and the whole 
care committed to them ; and to salve the incongruity of not being able to 
preach themselves to them all, they professed a derivative delegated power 
to inferior pastors, whom they called their curates. This was plain dealing, 
but these elders make all the whole flock theirs, and this from those scrip- 
tures that speak of elders and flock ; and yet themselves have no curates, 
and so are personally obliged, according to the rules in Scripture, and yet 
cannot perform the obligation, which is a worse incongruity. 5. It will be 
their duty also to attend to all causes, which so many churches will fill their 
hands with sufficiently, for churches will be full of scandal, and there will 
be cases of difficulty. What a deal of work did one church of Corinth find 
Paul ! And it is the duty of each elder to attend to all those that come in 
his cognisance, as if he alone were to judge, for he is to give his judgment 
of them all, as one that is to give an account. It is an argument against 
episcopacy, that they cannot take the care (according to what the Scripture 
seems to require of an ordinary officer) of so many churches in a diocese ; 
now this work (suppose of ruling only, as in a presbytery) lies upon each of 
these elders, as if he were but one, as to the matters of attending thereto 
(as was said) though each is helped by the suggestion of others. And besides 
the common work that must needs arise from all these churches, they are 
to attend to all cases of conscience and of temptations in their particular con- 
gregations, or from elsewhere, if those churches will have recourse to them. 
If it be said, that they may part these duties among them, and perform only 
to' the whole those that are in common, the answer is plain, Ubi scriptura 
71011 distiiufuit, nee nos dehemus distinrpAere, Where the Scripture makes no 
distinction, we ought not to distinguish. Now all those duties are spoken 
of, as owing from elders to the flock, without any distinction. Paul saith 
to those Ephesians, ' Feed the whole flock,' Acts xx. 28. Peter says the 
like to those he writes to, that they respectively should feed and take the 
oversight over the flock, h v/j^Tv, which was among them. The apostle tells 
the Hebrews that their elders watched over their souls, Heb. xiii. 17. And 
to the Thessalonians, he describes them to be those that are over them, and 
labour and admonish them, 1 Thes. v. 12. When these injunctions are 
thus laid upon all, how shall the conscience of elders be able to part and 
distinguish themselves out of the discharge of them, and to say. Though I 
am an elder in common to all in these congregations; yet I am bound but 
to govern them in greater matters, and to admonish them as with others, 
when publicly met in a consistory, and to no other acts of eldership ; and 
yet to my own particular congregation, I am obliged to private admonition, 
rule, and watchfulness, &c. Where hath the Scripture set these bounds, or 
thus parted them ? Therefore, certainly all these places hold forth singly 
only the elders of a particular church fixed thereto, and their duty to it, as 
knowing no other. And indeed it was necessary that Christ should set the 
bounds and give the distinction, and not indifi'erently lay all these duties upon 

Chap. VI.] the churches of christ. 231 

all ; and either in these places the duties of eiders in a common presbytery 
are contained, or they are not to be found in the New Testament. 

Lastly, That which is inconsistent with the ordinary way of the call of 
elders held forth in the word, and by the reformed churches allowed, may 
not be; but such is this presbyterian government. It is the call which breeds 
relation between elders and church, and is the foundation of it. None are to 
assume the honour of ruling the church of Christ, that are not called thereto, as 
Aaron was not to have been over all the church, but that he was called of God. 

There are two parts of this calling: 1, choice; 2, ordination. 

1. As for choice, Chamier, in the name of all the reformed churches, allows 
to the people the approbation of their elders ; and so it is in Scotland. And 
if the apostles themselves allowed them the choice of the deacons that had 
the charge of the church treasury, and took care of their bodies, then much 
more of their elders, that have to do with their consciences. Look whatever 
right of the people is in the choice of those who should preach to them, there 
is as much reason they should have the exercise of it in the choice of these 
that in a common presbytery do rule over them ; for they perform one part 
of the elders' duty, namely, ruling, as the preaching elders do the other; and 
therefore by the equity of the same law that speaks of elders indefinitely, if 
they choose any elders as elders to them, they are to choose these also, there 
being no distinction put of choosing preachiug elders only,^ but elders inde- 
finitely. And further, the greatest and highest acts of power over them are 
committed in an ordinary way unto them, as of excommunication, which is 
of all punishments the most formidable ; and so there is put as much, if not 
more, than every man's life, that is a member of that classical church, into 
their hands. The enjoyment of all ordinances for ever, and the power of de- 
posing their ministers already fixed to them, and the power of refusing to 
ordain them they shall approve, is lodged in this classis. And therefore in 
the primitive church the persons of the bishops, who had the power of all 
these, were chosen by all the people, and by panegyrical meetings. 

And the argument is strengthened by this further paa'allel. A minister's 
call hath two parts : 1, ordination, which belongs to the elders ; 2, choice, 
in which the people have some interest ; therefore these elders as elders in 
common, and these congregations as one church, being relatives, that interest 
which a church hath as a church is commensurable to the interest of these 
elders as elders. If therefore in ordination all the elders in a common pres- 
bytery join to ordain an officer, then all the people as a church must join in 
choosing and approving him ; for the common right of choosing cannot be 
swallowed up by the interest of their elders ordaining him. And if it be said 
they all choose by virtue of the general law of combination, as in the shires 
they do parliament men, it is answered, that the constitution of the state 
makes it so, and if the like be found in Scripture for this other, it is sr.lfi- 
cient ; but if not, but that this interest must be common to the people of 
the classical church, it is asked, when a fixed pastor is to be chosen to a 
particular church, what office he shall be chosen to with respect unto the 
people of the other congregations ? Not to a pastor's office, for he is not to be 
such to them. If he be chosen to be a ruling elder only, then besides that 
he hath two offices, he must have two choices and two ordinations. We 
choose him for our pastor, says the particular church he belongs to ; and we, 
say the other, to rule us. And besides, the people have an interest of pre- 
sence, and joining in fasting and prayer, at his ordination. And this there- 
fore must be performed either in a panegyrical meeting of all, which cannot 
be as the practice is, or in all the several churches, which will multiply the 
ordination of him. 



The jurisdiction of synods debated. — That appeals are not necessary to the 
government of the churches, and therefore there is no necessity of synods npon 
that account. — What p)ower may he allowed to a synod occasionally meeting 
to consider the maladministration of any particular church. — That they have 
not that grand j^Terogative of poiver given hy Christ to excommunicate other 
churches, and so by that rod to enforce them to revoke their sentence of mal- 
administration, and to receive a jjerson wrongfully excommunicated by them. 
— The subordination of synods consideo-ed and refuted. — Though particular 
churches are 7iot subject to the jurisdiction of synods, yet they are riot ivholly 
independent, hut there is a communion ivhich they ought to hold one with 


Concerning appeals ; that they are not absolutely necessary to the government of 

the churches. 

That appeals are not of absolute necessity to the government of the churches, 
and that the law of nature doth not necessarily require them, is apparent from 
these reasons : 

1. In the first government under the law of nature there were no appeals 
in criminal causes, but Judah, the head of his family, peremptorily pro- 
nounceth the sentence, ' Let her be burnt,' Gen. xxxviii. And indeed, to 
whom then should any appeal have been made ? Therefore appeals are not 
necessary by the light of nature. 

2. The law of nature among the Jews required them not. The govern- 
ment was in the cities, and no appeals (in Deut. xvii. or elsewhere) in case of 
wrong were made by the injured party, but only in case of difiiculty they 
had recourse to the judgment of the great sanhedrim to resolve cases that 
were too hard for them. And as for that instance of Moses, Exod. xviii. 22, 
that the great matters were brought to him and the small matters to other 
elders, it was a dividing of causes according to their sort and kind, and not 
a bringing of matters by way of appeal unto him. 

3. Some of the reformed churches have no appeals, and yet are well 
governed, and in as much peace as those in Scotland. In Geneva there is 
but one consistory, and if there be any appeals in case of maladministration, 
they are made to the magistrate. And if it be said that it is so because 
they, being a commonwealth, and having supreme power, do bound the 
church power, yet still however, if the power of this our government would 
appoint magistrates to hear appeals of particular churches, and so bound 
their power in themselves (as the imperial towns in Germany or the cantons 
in Switzerland do), there is a great possibility to govern these churches 
without any other or further appeals in case of unjust sentences, as well as 
Geneva and other reformed churches are governed. 

Chap. I.] the churches of cheist. 233 

4. In matters of life and death in this kingdom there is no appeals, not 
such as to right the man if wronged, but every corporation hath the privi- 
lege touching the execution of the man to do it within themselves, and yet 
if in anything, De morte hominis dcUberandum est, there is the greatest deli- 
beration to be had about the life and death of a man; and yet this way of 
proceeding without appeals in such a case as this is not against the law of 

5. In democracies, where the sentence of life and death (as in many cases 
it was so) were referred to the immediate sentence of the people, there were 
no appeals ; and yet such a government is not against the light of nature. 
Now, taking away of a man's life may well be conceived to be of as much 
moment as casting a man out of a church, for that deprives the subject of 
all ordinances for ever, and also of further time to repent; and yet incor- 
porations and a recorder are betrusted with this, without the ordinary benefit 
of appeals to relieve the man; and therefore why may not a church, a com- 
pany of saints, that hath the promise of Christ's presence to guide them, 
and which is a body to Christ, being sufficiently furnished with officers, 
having two or three elders over them, be as well betrusted in ecclesiastic 
administrations ? Nor can it be supposed that God should take more care 
under the New Testament for relief of wrongs in churches scattered than he 
did in that national church of the Jews, which (as a nation) was capable of 
appeals, or that God, for the pretended relief of particular persons wronged, 
should subject whole churches, yea, provinces, to a coercive power armed 
■with the dreadful sentence of excommunication in a national assembly. 

(2.) That appeals are not absolutely necessary is evident, because if they 
were so they should be brought either antecedently to the sentence of 
excommunication in a particular church, or after it hath passed on the 
person excommunicated. 

[1.] But that an appeal should not go before the sentence of excommuni- 
cation, appears, 

1. From the power and duty of that court to which the person's cause is 
first brought. The congregation that is told of the person's sin (according 
to Christ's institution. Mat. xviii. 17) hath the power of the censures, and 
Christ's command lies upon them to execute Christ's ordinance, if he hears 
not that church to whom the accusation of him is first brought ; whereas, by 
an appeal afore, the sentence would be suspended, and so it would be in 
the power of an obstinate sinner to hinder the sentence from coming into 

2. It is apparent from the good of the person. For, 1, if an appeal was 
thus brought antecedent to the sentence of excommunication passed in a parti- 
cular church, then a man should never be obstinate until he came to the 
national assembly, and so he would want the means of his conversion all that 
while, which would be the ready way to harden him in his sin, to defer his 
repentance at least for a year ; and then he must run through all the same 
course of admonitions by the higher courts ere they can pronounce the sen- 
tence. 2. Then God must wait upon and lacquey after men, and suspend a 
sentence till a man hath gone through all these courts on earth, and baflied 
both God's sentence and also man's. 

[2. J That appeals are not to be made after the sentence of excommunica- 
tion passed in a particular church appears, 

(1.) From the nature of the sentence, which is decisive, and is irreversible, 
as being bound in heaven, unless the person repents, and upon his repent- 
ance is restored again. 

(2.) Because a particular church, by yielding to such appeals, would give 


up that power and authority with which Christ hath entrusted them. For 
Christ hath given them full power to exercise all acts of discipline within 
themselves (as hath been proved) ; but if they admitted of appeals to be made 
to a superior court, as having power over them, to disannul their acts, they 
would thereby acknowledge a supreme authority, and that they had not the 
perfect power in themselves. 

2. If there may be such appeals, whether afore or after sentence (other 
than to relieve the person, and those we grant), then there should be a greater 
punishment for the appellant, if he be cast in the provincial assembly, and yet 
a greater also than that if he be cast again in the national. So it is in civil 
courts, and it deserves it here as much as in any, for a man becomes guilty 
of a greater sin by so appealing (if indeed he is criminal), for he is guilty of 
more obstinacy ; if the appeal be afore the sentence, by hindering it, if after, 
by continuing more impudently impenitent, and in both cases in troubling 
all the churches. But these courts have no greater punishment to inflict 
than what the congregation or first church hath ; for the man is by excom- 
munication out of his own church, cast out of all churches as well as when 
cast by the national. They can only admonish and excommunicate at last, 
if the sentence be not passsed afore the appeal ; or if the appeal be after the 
sentence, they can only pronounce the sentence to be just, they have no 
further or more grievous excommunication for him. There is indeed a final 
excommunication with a curse, Anatliema Maranatha (1 Cor. xv. 22), to 
him that loves not (which is a diminutive), that is, that shews hatred against 
the Lord Christ after enlightening, and so hath sinned against the Holy 
Ghost ; but we believe that such an excommunication is not that which upon 
appeals to the national assembly (if the person be cast there also), they shall 
have power to inflict. In the case indeed of eternal damnation, every degree 
for every sin is another hell added to the former (not an increase of torment 
by a circumstance, but substantially), but it is not so here, for every new 
sentence of these gradual courts add not a new degree of excommunication. 
Whereas excommunication is a giving up to Satan, if the congregation excom- 
municating gave up to one devil, and the classical to more, and the provincial 
assembly to more, and then the national to worse than the former (as in 
the Gospel Christ says of a man apostatising, that seven devils worse than 
before enter into the man), then these courts might arrogate such appeals to 
them, and proportionably punish the person's obstinacy who wrongfully 
makes them ; but the case is otherwise. If it be replied that the shame is 
increased, that he is rebuked by so many, and that is a punishment ; and 
that as Christ's death is aggravated by the shame, so here the excommunica- 
tion is made the more shameful in the national than it would have been in 
the lesser assembly. The answer is, 1, That still that which is of the sub- 
stance of this spiritual punishment, and which is spiritual in it, and in which 
the spirit of it lies, is not, nor cannot be, added unto, viz. ; Gad's binding the 
man in heaven, which God did, and doth as much upon the first excommunica- 
tion as upon the second or third ; and as for Satan's power to terrify him, he is 
as much delivered thereby to it, and he is as much cast out of the ordinances 
in all churches by it, as by the confirmation of the sentence in the national 
assembly. And what is that outward shame of it (such as follows upon all 
other civil crimes made public), to be compared with these, or to correspond 
to that further proportion of authority, that these higher courts, by challeng- 
ing of appeals to be made to them, do seem to usurp, as if an answerable 
degree of spiritual punishment were by God's promise ministered in them ? 
And if there should not be a further punishment unto the appellant, then it 
comes all to one with what we afiirm ; for if it be in order to relieve the party 

Chap. I.] the churches of chkist. 235 

only, we acknowledge appeals in those respects to be useful to, by declaring 
the sentence null, and that there was no due or just excommunication. And 
if it be a just sentence, we acknowledge appeals so far to be made to neigh- 
bour churches, that they may declare it is a just excommunication already 
past. So that what we contend against is this, when under the colour of 
appeals they challenge to themselves a juridical power, to rescind sentences, 
to have the power of excommunication as much as the churches that do ex- 
communicate, to oppose or stop any church inferior from proceeding ; and 
in a reverence to this their power, to give liberty to any person otiending, to 
appeal before sentence unto them to judge of it, and to pronounce it. 

3. The liberty of such appeals, afore or after sentence, through all those 
gradual remedies, of classical, provincial, national (which we conceive should 
be rather for matters of doctrine, than for the relief of persons of all sorts ; 
and they should deal in generals rather than in such particulars, as them- 
selves are more general assemblies), will breed great inconveniences. As, 

1. Either the lower churches must spare many gross offenders in a nation, 
that there may be few excommunications, and so prevent occasions of appeals 
(and then they would not take away the dishonour done to Christ by multi- 
tude of scandals), or else, if the lower churches be faithful in proceeding 
against all such otfenders, yet by setting up three such courts over them for 
gradual appeals, with liberty to appeal to them, there will, instead of reliev- 
ing particular persons, be occasioned the greatest trouble and cumber to these 
assemblies in multitude of causes depending ; for who will not appeal, know- 
ing at last he can be but excommunicated '? And they must despatch these 
causes either by committees only (and so to do, is to reduce the supreme 
judgment to a fewer company of elders than were in the first classis or pro- 
vincial synods that judged it, besides that it is a mere delegated power which 
such committees exercise), or else they must trust the lower courts wholly, 
and proceed according to their sentence ; and then to what end are such 
appeals ? Surely the highest national court cannot deny to hear any man 
that appeals to them, and if they will hear all that will appeal, they will be 
filled with them ; and that will prove vexatious both to the persons and 
churches appealing, and will be impossible to be despatched. And besides, 
no man being to be excommunicated, but upon impenitency, which may be 
where the fact is acknowledged and confessed, and yet the church not satis- 
fied with the repentance (for an undue outward formal confession will easily 
be acknowledged not to be that upon which churches should forbear excom- 
munication, m case the fact be scandalous, it being a godly sorrow, 2 Cor. 
vii. 9, 10, that is required of men in such a case), may therefore proceed 
justly to excommunication, because they judge that he repents not, though 
the appealer says he doth repent ; and then the trial will be of the man's 
repentance, performed at his confession, whether it be godly or no, which how 
can any judge of but upon their own having seen it, or putting the man to 
a new repentance afresh upon a reiterated admonition by them, and how 
then will a national assembly so easily be able to judge of it ? And if they 
could, yet if they hear all things as fully over again, as all the inferior courts 
did (or how shall they judge to the satisfaction of the appellant?), what 
work would this create to all such assemblies ! It was objected against the 
bishops' extensive power over so many congregations, that they had more 
churches, and so more business to come before them, than any one man 
could or themselves did manage, and therefore had their archdeacons and 
chancellors, and the like under them ; but a national assembly will have 
much more to do, and yet it sits not as the Sanhedrim, all the year, but only 
a few weeks. To discourage men from those appeals at last by banishment, 


&c., if cast, is to eke out the spiritual power with the temporal. A sufficient 
spiritual remedy is sought for, and it must be within itself; for that of the 
magistrate is but external, though helpful, and we seek a sufficient govern- 
ment, that was in the primitive times, when there was no Christian magis- 

2. Such national assemblies, in a due proportion, should rather have work 
suited to their constitution, viz., national reformation, and advices to the 
magistrate about that which is common to all churches in the nation (and 
they will find enough of it in all times), than every man's personal cause by 
way of appeal (that hath a mind to appeal), to come afore them ; even as 
civil assemblies, parhaments, &c., do not admit ordinary appeals from all 
courts in this kingdom, but leave them to these courts, the kingdom afford- 
ing matters of iar greater moment for their cognisance. 

3.. These appeals still being made from one ecclesiastical court to another, 
and those superior (when the cause is out of the congregation's hands), con- 
sisting most of pastors, or if of others, yet of persons ecclesiastical (for as 
such they sit in those assemblies, being homogeneal members of presbyteries, 
and lay elders you will not call them), by this means all causes are taken up 
into the clergy's hands, abstracted from the people ; and the clergy will take 
part one with another, and the one ratify what the lower hath done, as the 
high commission did what a particular bishop had done, against an inferior 
minister or other. 

4. When the cause comes to the national assembly, whose power is purely 
ecclesiastical, either the appeals must rest here and go no further, and the 
civil magistrate, if he back their sentence with a civil mulct, must, without 
his examining of the cause, judge as they have determined it ; and so the 
temporal power must pursue and execute the decrees of the spiritual, by an 
implicit faith (which was the bondage the secular powers were in unto the 
popish bishops in those times) ; or else they also must take full cognisance 
of the cause, and have a power to redress and rectify the wrong, if they find 
all these courts to have injured a person, perhaps difiering in judgment, or 
the like. And then it must either be the supreme power, the high court of 
parliament (and then that honourable court must be filled with all men's 
ecclesiastical appeals), or it must be some lesser ordinary court of magistracy 
inferior, which shall have power to correct the wrong ; and we believe the 
national assembly will very hardly subject their sentence to their power, to 
rescind and declare it to be unjust, so as to be bound by the magistrates' 
power on them to recall it ; and yet, otherwise, it is in vain to appeal at all 
to the magistrate. One of these ways must be taken, or else the civil magis- 
trates must be denied to have appeals in such cases brought to them, but all 
be left in the church's hands, and the benefit of appeals made to them alto- 
gether be cut oft'. 

5. If the king and parliament should, in the judgment of the national 
assembly, aggrieve you in point of religion, may appeals be made to the 
national assembly therein ? Will you appeal to the national assembly against 
them ? Whether our brethren will not decline that answer that was given 
by one of the brethren in the debate, why should we be afraid to affirm they 
might appeal to them, we know not ; but we cannot see how the principles 
of the prcsbyterial government can avoid the asserting of it. Surely that inde- 
pendency so opprobriously ascribed to us, and retorted on us, is with sub- 
mission to the magistrate, and an obedience by sufi'rage, without appealing 
farther, we professing not to know any spiritual power on earth, to which an 
appeal may be made from the sentence of the magistrate, especially if it be 
the supreme authoritative magistrate. Though we acknowledge a relation to 

Chap. ILJ the churches of christ. 237 

no other ecclesiastical autliority that hath a coercive power sub poena excom- 
municationis, or of delivering unto Satan, yet we own a subjection to an 
assembly of other churches, as occasion is, and that as to an ordinance of 
Christ. But now, to set up a national assembly, growing up from the eccle- 
siastical state, as a court to whom appeals may be made from the sentence of 
the supreme magistrate itself, is so transcendent a waj^ of independency, not 
negatively only, as knowing no superior, but affirmatively also, subjecting the 
civil power to the church, as the other deserves not the name of it. And if, 
from the civil power, appeals may be made to such assemblies, then they have 
the authority over it, such as under the notion of appeals is contended for. 
They will have a power to convent, yea, to excommunicate, and that as a 
joint body or parliament. 


What power synods composed of the elders of particular churches, occasionally 
assembled, have in case of maladministration by any particular church. 

As we acknowledge elective occasional synods of the elders of many 
churches, as the churches have need to refer cases of difference to them, so 
in case of maladministration, or an unjust proceeding in the sentence of 
excommunication and the like, we acknowledge appeals or complaints may 
be made to other churches ; and the elders of those churches met in a synod, 
who being offended may, as an ordinance of Christ, judge and declare that 
sentence to be null, void, and unjust ; and that not simply, as any company 
of men may so judge, giving their judgments of a fact done, but as an ordi- 
nance of Christ in such cases, and for that end sanctified by him to jud^e 
and declare in matters of difference. And the church and eldership of a par- 
ticular church, that proccedeth so unjustly, ought to look at this their deter- 
mination as an ordinance of Christ to them ; and, entertaining it as such, 
more sadly to review their own act and proceedings, to consider the grounds 
which the synod gives why it is unjust, and themselves ought to acknowledo'e 
it such, and receive the brother again, with acknowledgment of their sin, and 
of the wrong done him ; yet not with an implicit faith, because the synod 
hath so determined, as having a greater power from Christ to restore the inan. 

In case this church will not own this person thus wrongfully ejected, these 
churches, or any of them, upon this determination of their elders (the churches 
at their return approving their sentence), may both receive the party in amoncr 
themselves, and so relieve the man ; and further, also profess to hold no 
communion with that church, if they perceive that church doth continue 
obstinate, having either for the manner proceeded therein against the com- 
mon principles of equity and right (such as in judging of matters of fact, civil 
courts proceed by, as when matters are not sufficiently proved, &c.), or against 
and besides the principles whereby churches are to proceed (as for the matter 
of excommunication itself), which that church itself hath, and doth hold 
forth and profess. 

If it fall out that a person be thus cast, first by his own church, and now 
by a synod of many churches, to whom he referred his cause and appealed, 
he is bound rather to sit down than cursitare (as Cyprian's word and advice 
is), run up and down, still to other and greater number of churches, and to 
suffer wrong rather (as in 1 Cor. vi. the apostle in another case exhorts) than 
engage churches against churches (which may prove the event) in his own 
private quarrel. 

In Christian commonwealths, appeals may be made in all such cases of 


wroncf to the magistrate, as to the other churches, the subject-matter of 
excommunication being but such things as are against the common profession 
of Christianity, in doctrine and manners, and not the niceties and curiosities 
in theology, and such as the laws of the magistrate approve of; and the 
manner of proceeding for the proof of the fact being the same that are to be 
in all other courts civil. 

Now these things being premised and acknowledged by us, we proceed to 
the negative part, what power we deny to synods in point of maladministra- 
tions, which our brethren would give them ; and herein the points in difference 
are three. 

1. We deny them to have power to rescind a sentence, but only doctrinally 
to judge a sentence of excommunication to be void and unjust. Now the 
power to rescind a sentence, according to the acceptation of the words, im- 
ports, 1, An act of the same kind of ministerial power that gave the sentence. 
It imports the same power to make it void that did establish it ; yea, a power 
containing in it all that the inferior hath, and is withal superior to it. The 
Christian magistrate hath a power over churches, in case of wrong, not only 
to declare the sentence to be unjust, as he is a Christian magistrate, but to 
cause that church that pronounced it to revoke it as such ; but yet the assem- 
blv will not own that they have power to rescind the sentence, as they say 
synods may. Therefore this word (as in synods the assembly would place 
the power of it) must import not simply power of judging and declaring the 
sentence unjust, for that is refused ; but further, a power of the same kind, 
and yet superior, by virtue of which the sentence is made void, coram ecclesia, 
before the church, and is now so to be conceived of all. And as in the act 
of the church that excommunicated the man, there was a further power put 
forth than a bare declaration that he was to be excommunicated ; for they 
actually, with the power of Christ, did cast out and deliver the man to Satan ; 
so here, in this act that bears the name of rescinding, there must be supposed 
a power not simply to declare the sentence unjust, but further, a power upon 
their sentence to make void the other's act, that the person before excom- 
municated stands now coram ecclesia, unexcommunicated. 

2. A second power which we deny to synods, which is contended for by 
our brethren, which also the word rescind imports, is the like coercive power in 
this svnod given them by Christ, whereby to compel this church to acknow- 
ledge their sentence unjust, and to receive that brother again. And the 
punishment by which they are enabled to compel them to it, must be of the 
same kind with that which these supposed inferior churches have over their 
members, if they did not obey ; namely, to excommunicate and deliver up 
to Satan that church, classis, or province, that hath thus unjustly proceeded, 
and will not receive this man in again, upon their rescinding it. And this 
it imports in the sense of our brethren, for otherwise they do but intend that 
government in these cases to be in synods, which we the dissenting brethren 
contend for ; which is, that these synods, and the churches under them, may 
in some cases withdraw a communion from other churches offending, but not 
presume to excommunicate, or deliver them to Satan, or unchurch them ; 
and lay a law upon their consciences to shut up their church meetings, and 
to be all heathens and publicans to one another, as well as to their synod 
and their churches. And yet this which we contend for is cried down with 
this common prejudice, that it is no government, because their power of ex- 
communication is wanting. Again, when they restore the party wronged, is 
it to their communion only, or to the communion of that church out of 
which he was excommunicated also ? If only to their own, then still it is 
no more than what we acknowledge neighbour churches may do in case of 

Chap. II.] the churches of christ. 239 

wrong, and it is a relief to the party. But if also they have power to re- 
store him to the cliurch he was cast out of actually, then they must have 
power to compel that church to receive him. In this case these whole 
churches and their officers would be subjects to be dealt with by these 
synods ; for, 1, the appellant wroncjed is one party, and they another ; and, 
2, the excommunication was a public church act, wherein the elders and the 
people are involved, especially when they all stand to own him, and^' to exe- 
cute the sentence. 

3. A third thing wherein we differ is concerning matters of appeals, we 
taking them as importing, in the sense of our brethren, a juridical superior 
power, in the superior synods to be appealed unto. Concerning which we 
say, 1, that such appeals are not so absolutely necessary to the government 
of the churches, nor doth the law of nature necessarily require them ; 
2, especially not such appeals as should acknowledge a superior power in the 
synod appealed unto, either by making the appeal afore the sentence is 
given in particular churches, and so the matter is taken out of their hands, 
by virtue of a superior power in synods, or by making the appeal after 
sentence given, we deny them to be such fixed and solemn courts of judi- 

First, As for that rescinding power pretended, if more than declarative is 
intended, we conceive that the nature of the sentence of excommunication, 
when untimely executed, is such, that by whatever court (that is the first 
subject of pronouncing it) it is pronounced and executed, it is not capable 
of being rescinded. It is capable of being declared void, null, or unjust ; 
but not of being rescinded, in the sense afore explained. In matters civil, 
one court having a superior power may in a true and proper sense rescind 
the sentence of another, because it hath a proper power of the same kind, 
by virtue of which it can make that act void which stood before by virtue of 
the inferior power as valid, each act depending upon that power which on 
earth is set up ; and so the greater may undo and reverse what the former 
did. But thus to rescind a sentence of excommunication, no power on earth 
is able to do. Which is evinced thus : 

There are two parts of that sentence, one outward, which the church per- 
forms (which is ejection out of communion), the other inward, which God 
accompanies the sentence with. And if the sentence were formally no more 
but a casting out of the outward communion of the church on earth, then a 
greater power in earth might have power to rescind their sentence, and re- 
store him to communion ; but there is a further judicial act annexed unto it, 
which is binding in heaven, and delivering to Satan, &c., which must be sup- 
posed a special judicial act of God. Such man's sin is in some sense bound 
in heaven, till he repents, when he commits it, and is admonished by any 
Christian, whether he be in the church or no, and whether he be brought 
before the church or no for it ; and so the brethren that admonish him in 
order to excommunication, may be said, in some sense, to bind his sin. But 
there is a further judicial act of God's put forth, when the church hath 
ministerially sentenced the man aright ; for the church so binds sin as no 
private brother can, or else it might be said, that a brother may deliver to 
Satan. Hence that assembly, which is the first subject of this power from 
God, hath the promise of this, and God is supposed by us to have performed 
it upon their sentence ; and then it is impossible there should be a superior 
power of the same kind on earth to rescind it, or unbind it in heaven, and to 
whom a further promise is made, that when they pronounce it void there is an 
unbinding in heaven. So as suppose the congregational or classical church (be 
* Qu. ' to own and '? — Ed. 


it either the one or the other that is acknowledged the first subject of this 
power ; and which of these should be, could never yet be brought to the de- 
bate) hath bound the man, and the provincial confirms it, and binds him 
also, if the national hath power to rescind this, it hath then one key to 
unloose what these three keys have locked. The answer to this is only that 
this argument goes upon a false supposition, that appeals should be when 
the excommunication is just, whereas they are only when the appeal is 
unjust, and so the sin is not bound in heaven. To which it is replied, 

1. In case of appeals. That is the thing still in question between the 
parties, whether it be just or unjust ? And therefore to suppose that all 
appeals fall out only in cases of real injustice and wrong, cannot be a suffi- 
cient answer. Yea, 

2. The sentence is to be judged by all the churches (till the matter is 
examined and cleared to the contrary) to be a right sentence of excommuni- 
cation, and that his sin is bound in heaven : for they are rather to judge that 
the church hath proceeded rightly, than to judge on the appellant's side, 
until the matter is cleared. And so still it goes up as a sentence binding 
in heaven. 

3. "Whether the sentence be just or unjust, the matter is capable of no 
more than declaring and adjudging it such accordingly ; and therefore it is 
capable of no such act as may be called rescinding. For if it be just, no 
sentence on earth can rescind God's act upon that first sentence, for it is 
bound in heaven, and man cannot alter God's act ; and if it be unjust, then 
there needs no power to rescind it, but only to declare it to be unjust and 
void, and so to hold the man as if he had never been excommunicated. And 
if synods have but such a declarative power, then let no more be affirmed, 
and we will not contend about it. 

4. If they have power of rescinding the sentence, then the act done by 
the inferior courts is made void by their sole sentence, without any act of 
reversing, by the consent of those congregations or churches that have pro- 
nounced it. For no superior court hath that power to rescind the sentence 
of another, but hath it so, as by their act the sentence is made void, with- 
out any act of revocation by the lower court. Thus the honourable house of 
parliament, if it rescinds an act of an inferior court, sends not down to that 
inferior court to reverse it, but doth it without them. And if that be the 
intent of this rescinding, let it be so declared. 


The other prerogative of power chaUenged by synods, to excommunicate other 
churches, considered and invalidated. 

The second prerogative of power challenged by synods, which we contend 
against, and deny to them, is such a coercive power to be in them, as given 
them by Christ, to excommunicate other churches, and so by that rod to 
enforce them to revoke their sentence of maladministration, and receive a 
person wrongfully excommunicated by them. 

That such a power is not in synods to excommunicate a church or churches, 
or so rescind a sentence passed in a particular church, is evinced by these 
following arguments. 

1. For such a pretended power, there is neither precept nor example. 

(1.) The apostles never did exercise such a power, who yet had power in 
all churches, and over persons among them. 

Chap. III.] the ohueches of cheist. 241 

(2.) None of the reformed churches ever practised it. Mr Paget, a learned 
presbyterial writer, acknowledgeth that none of the reformed churches ever 
practised it. Mr Cartwright, speaking of this power, did in his days put 
an if it may he upon it. 

If it be said their government is so good, as it hath had no occasion to put 
such a power into act : I answer. 

Let the Arminian congregation, that were in the low countries, be remem- 
bered. Though a national synod was called, yet none of them were excom- 
municated ; and yet we believe they judged their errors worthy of their cen- 
sure. So the churches of anabaptists among them, who not only hold the 
not baptizing of children, but run into many other gross errors, were never 
yet excommunicated. 

If it be said that they forbear to do it, because of great inconveniences 
that would follow, by provoking of multitudes ; and that it tends more (in 
such cases) unto edification to forbear it, than to execute it ; it is replied, 

1. That God hath suited his ordinances to the ordinary way of his provi- 
dence, and therefore would not have given an ordinary standing power for 
government, which could not ordinarily be executed without tumult and dis- 
turbance ; and therefore there is no such power given. 

2. If a church or churches did deserve it, it cannot be for edification to 
forbear it ; for not to excommunicate them is to edify them in sin. Churches 
that deserve excommunication, can bo edified in nothing by being connived 
at in their sin, that will damn them. And excommunication is the means 
appointed by God for the destroying the flesh and saving the soul. 

3. Neither can a multitude be an excuse for the neglect. For, however, 
these synods (if they have such a power) are to discharge their duty, and 
the soul or souls of sinners must thus be punished. 

4. Let it be observed, that such a power is contended for by the presby- 
terial divines which was never practised, which themselves think and judge 
inconvenient to practise ; and yet without this power granted to them, they 
say there is no government. And herein lies the main of this great con- 
troversy, whether they should have such a power or no, which they never 
have exercised; and themselves think it to be ordinarily inconvenient to 
exercise it, reserving it as a rod in the house which they never will use, as 
if they kept it to scare children with. But the efficacy of government lies 
not in the speculation and doctrine, but in what is practicable. Shall king- 
doms be disturbed about the dispute of that which in the practice is a 
chimera, and when they have it, shall be exercised arbitrarily, and at discre- 
tion? Yea, may not a trial be made, whether that the other way (which 
they call no government) may not be sufficient ? 

We further conclude this first head of argument with this, that as such a 
synodical power hath no precedent or example in the primitive practices, nor 
in the reformed churches, so it hath this character upon it, that none but 
the pope and bishops, and synods of bishops, ever practised it ; and they 
have practised it by interdicting kingdoms, not simply as civil states, but as 
churches in kingdoms, commanding the ministers to forbear to administer 
the holy things unto any that did cleave to their prince, or for any the like 
causes. And certainly, by the principles of this doctrine, a general council 
of all the reformed churches may in like manner excommunicate any nation 
or kingdom whom they judge heretical, or to make a schism from them ; for 
whilst the foundation of the power of synods is pleaded to lie in Christ's in- 
stitution, as it hath ordinarily been urged in the assembly in answer unto 
our reasons, that the church catholic is one politic body, and so the elders 



of all churches have power over any churches that are parts of that great 
body, be they in nations or in provinces ; which subjects all states as truly 
to the thunderbolt of excommunication from foreign churches, as it did once 
to Rome. 

What though it be said that such counsels are not likely to be practised ; 
or if so, it must be with the states' own consent. Yet still the mystery is, 
that such a power is contended for as a rod over them, as well as over lesser 
churches ; for though they have not excommunicated, de facto, any particular 
churches, yet they have claimed that power as a rod to keep them in awe 

If it be said, the pope challenged to do this as an head of the church 
universal, and as infallible, we reply, that there is indeed this difterence, 
that he, as but one, usurps it, and as the external head of the church ; but 
yet these challenge the same power, as being themselves the catholic church 
itself representatively. For if to tell the church, Mat. xviii., be in its ascent 
to tell general councils as the church, then they must be interpreted to be 
the catholic church, and infallibility may in the issue (through men's pride) 
become the claim also, by how much many consenting are more likely to 
have the Holy Ghost to assist them. than that, and so have more reason for 
their claim than one set up to challenge it. And at first, that one was set 
up only to receive appeals, and to rescind sentences, and to excommunicate 
churches ; and from granting to them that power at the first, did that other 
of infallibility spring. 

A second head of arguments is drawn from the nature of excommunication, 
because that it contains more in that, than that which we call non-com- 
munion, namely this, that persons are not only cast from communion with 
all these churches (which we acknowledge), but further, are delivered to Satan 
for the internal part thereof. And for the external part, it is strange that 
this law of synods should oblige their conscience, that they should not meet 
among themselves, whenas yet they are already a church, and were a church 
without any power derived from their associating with others. All then that 
they can fall from by virtue of the sentence of the synod, is but what they 
have from them and among them by their association, and not what they 
have among themselves. Yea, the very words whereby excommunication is 
expressed is but this. Sit tihi ethnicus, 'Let him be to thee an heathen,' and 
* Take that wicked one from among you' ; and therefore when neighbour 
churches deal so with a church, they can but eject and keep them and their 
members out from amongst them. But this power contended for goes fur- 
ther, for the synod assumes to throw a church out of itself, and to make 
them to be heathens and pubhcans inter se, among themselves, who yet have 
all this while been a church. 

And that which further strengthens all this, is that very principle which 
the assembly doth go upon to establish this power in synods and presbyteries 
(given up in their answer to our reasons against presbyteries), that as fami- 
lies are bound to join into some congregational church, so those churches 
into association together ; and as these joined in a new congregation gives 
them power over each other, so this association of churches gives the whole 
a power over each of these churches. Though we wholly assent not to this 
latter, yet supposing it (and it is one of the best and fairest grounds for the 
presbyterial way), the law of this principle (if the parallel be rightly made 
up) will not extend to a power of excommunicating any of these churches so 
associated. For, 1, if you take that external part of excommunication, it 
is a cutting men off from all ordinances wherein church communion Hes (as 
some hold), but more especially from the sacrament of the Lord's supper 

Chap. III.] the churches of christ. 243 

(which latter is acknowledged by all) ; for since suspension cuts off from 
the Lord's snpper, therefore excommunication must do it much more. 
Now the parallel law between these two kinds of associations must run thus, 
that as a congregation casts out of the communion of all those ordinances 
which a congregation is the proper seat of, so this greater association can by- 
virtue of its association only cast out of those ordinances that belong unto 
them, as such an associated body in common, and from among themselves 
in particular ; and then that sentence can arise to no more than what we 
contend to be the only power that churches have one with another, and that 
is non-communion. The reason is clear, because they can but cast that 
church out of their association, and from having any interest in their counsel 
and advice, &c., for associated presbyteries have not the sacraments, nor 
the solemn constant ordinances of worship, and therefore they can but by 
virtue of this association deny them communion with themselves ; and this 
we grant to neighbour churches, that they may and ought to deal thus with 
an offending church, by virtue of that apostolic rule, ' From such turn away.' 
But this power of excommunicating a church contended for is a further thing : 
it is a laying a law upon a church, to dissolve their being any longer a church, 
until they do repent of that sin they charge them vv'ith ; it is to call in their 
charter, that they can meet no more inter se, among themselves, to enjoy the 
sacrament, or any other ordinance whatsoever. This is beyond the extent 
of the power of an association ; yea, this is more than they are able to exe- 
cute ; and doth Christ give power to do that which they cannot execute ? 
Now they may keep them from communion with them, either by not letting 
them into the assembly (and therefore they had ostiarii, door-keepers, in the 
primitive times), or they may do it by thrusting them out, as the priests of 
Israel did the king when he came to offer sacrifice ; or rather by a moral 
contest against them, or forbearing to communicate when they are present ; 
but they cannot keep them from meeting inter se, among themselves. In 
the primitive times, indeed, they had recourse to the power of magistrates 
for it, but we seek for a sulficient ecclesiastical remedy. 

To this, if it be retorted, that such will the case be too when in a particular 
congregation a company of persons deserving excommunication are ejected 
(as a pastor, and others with him), yet they will meet still, and no law can 
oblige them to the contrary ; we reply by giving this difference of the case. 

1. That when a congregation doth cast out the very members, the act itself, 
whereby they cast them out from among them, leaves them barely a company 
of outlaws, without church state or relation among themselves ; for they had 
it but as members of that church they are now cast out of; and they can 
retain no other relation left them that gives them actual right to ordinances, 
for this is their original first relation. And therefore if they meet, yea, with 
a mutual consent to be a new church, they meet as men, and outlawed from 
a church relation which they had put their souls upon the laws of, or at least, 
by a judicial act passed on them, they have now forfeited. They fall as the 
angels from that original state, and if they will set up a new kingdom, they 
do it but as the devils do. But although neighbour churches did cast them 
out from among them, that act, in the nature and extent of it, reacheth not 
to cast them out of that relation of a church that they had originally among 
themselves ; neither do they fall by virtue of that act (which is all that is in 
the Synod's power) from that church relation they had among themselves, 
which they had before their associating with them, and was the foundation 
of it. 

2. By that act of being cast out of this congregational relation, they are 
cast out of the formerly enjoyed communion of the Lord's supper, in a con- 


staney in that church, which they never enjoyed at all in that other classical 
church, for it is not the seat of it. And so this act of excommunication, as 
in a congregational church performed, casts them out of all ordinances, and 
out of all that is proper to such relation and fellowship ; but it is not so in 
the other case. And hence it comes to pass that excommunication from all 
ordinances can only be in a church where all ordinances are ; and therefore 
not in or by a classical church, where the main ordinances men are shut out 
from are not administered. 

3. This act of a synod's excommunicating a church is yet further, for the 
external part of it, not simply an obligation not to meet for ordinances, and 
to account of each other as heathens, but further yet, the sentence terminates 
itself upon their church fellowship and communion, dissolves that, cuts them 
off from being an external body or spouse to Christ, gives them such a bill 
of divorce as removes the candlestick, takes that in pieces, yea, delivers them 
as such to Satan, and makes them as heathens and publicans each to other. 
For otherwise, if the act be only the synod's putting away this church from 
among themselves, or the communion of other churches, that we readily grant 
may be done, and surely it is remedy sufficient, through Christ's blessing, 
(although this is reckoned no government). But to do the other act men- 
tioned to church or churches, Christ hath not given power to synods. 

If it be answered, as it is by some, that the object of this excommunica- 
tion of a church is only the persons therein materially considered, but not 
their church state, otherwise than by consequence, we reply, that formally, 
the object of this sentence is a church as such, which is evident from this, 
that the great argument alleged by the presbyterial divines is, that else there 
is no remedy for an erring church as well as for heretical persons ; and 
also that the sins which are the grounds of such excommunications be still 
church acts, public, not personal, as grossly evil administrations, or per- 
missions of notorious sins, or heresies professed, upheld, defended, adhered 
to by all in their assemblies. And how else should excommunication of a 
church differ from the suspension of a church ? This puts them into that 
state, as during the time of their excommunication they are to be reckoned 
as no church until they repent ; for if they are as heathens and publicans, 
then they are no church, unless we will make heathen churches, which is a 
contradiction. And if that whole church should die impenitent, they are to 
be reckoned to die as out of church state among themselves, as well as in 
relation to other churches. 

Now, to prove that it is not in the power of synods thus to do to churches, 
let the following reasons be considered. 

1. This is a maxim of the reformed churches, that ecclesia sunt pares, 
churches are equal, and par in parem non hahet potestatem, one equal hath 
not power over another. Admonish they may, withdraw communion they 
may ; for as one brother may do so from another, so these churches may 
from an erring church ; yea, and a synod being an ordinance to them to heal 
them, and consisting of more elders than are in that church, they may declare 
Christ's command and will to them, but yet they have not power to deliver 
to Satan, to unchurch them, &c. We find not that a synod or company of 
elders are called a church, and if they should be so named, yet still they 
have not more of church in them than other churches have ; nay, they have 
less, for they want a body of the faithful, and their interest joined with these 
elders, who are more usually called the church. They are not the seat of 
the main ordinances for which churches were constituted, they have not the 
sacraments administered, they are not bodies erected primarily for worship, 
but only so far as may occasionally accompany and subserve their discus- 

Chap. III.] the churches of christ. 245 

sions and determinations. It would therefore be strange that these should 
have so much more of church in them, as to have power to unchurch other 
churches and bodies to Christ, when themselves are but representative at 
most of the body of Christ (for Christ hath no representative body to him), 
but every church consisting of elders and people are the body of Christ, and 
so called, when the other never hath that name. 

2. To dissolve a church's external estate as to all ordinances is a matter 
so far above excommunicating single persons, though never so many, that it 
is Christ's j)rerogative alone to do it. This is confirmed, 

(1.) By like instances in civil states, wherein to dissolve an incorporate 
town, and to call in and take away their charter and privilege, belongs to the 
supreme power ; and though judges and others may deal with persons in 
corporations, yet the corporations themselves depend on the crown. 

(2.) It is confirmed by Scripture, Rev. ii. 5. Christ from heaven makes it 
his prerogative to remove the Ephesian candlestick : ' Repent, or I will come 
quickly and remove thy candlestick.' The candlestick was their church state : 
Rev. i. 23, ' The seven candlesticks are the seven churches ; ' and therefore he 
speaks not of their mystical state as they were members of the mystical body, 
but of them as they were a candlestick artificially formed up into that holy 
fellowship amongst them. So also it was God's prerogative alone to give a 
bill of divorce to Israel as she was a church, and so it is expressed. And if 
it be said it was done ministerially, by the prophets declaring it, and so may 
this also be done to a church by its ministers, we reply, that it was done by 
them prophetically, as foretelling it ; but there is no such spirit of prophecy 
in synods. 

(3.) It is Christ's prerogative alone to build and erect a church, without the 
intervention of ministerial ecclesiastical power to derive power to them ; 
therefore also to dissolve that fellow-ship, and the use thereof, belongs only 
to him. Churches to be erected may and ought to have the direction and 
consent of neighbour churches, because a new sister is to be added to, and 
associated with them, but they receive no power from them to become a 
church. It wasjiot the intervention of the apostles' power that constituted 
churches, further than as they converted materials for churches to be made 
out of, and as they directed and taught them to become bodies unto Christ, 
teaching them to do whatsoever Christ hath commanded them ; but we never 
read that making them churches was a ministerial act in them ; we read they 
ordained elders, but not that they ordained churches. Paul says he planted 
indeed, and he was a wise master builder ; but he speaks the one of con- 
verting persons, the other of doctrines, because he speaks of building hay 
and stubble afterwards. 

It is the great error of some of this age, that having lost all church state 
and ministry, therefore, say they, there must come apostles to make churches 
again ; whereas if all ordinances had been lost under antichrist, yet if there 
be saints alive, and they have the apostles' writings, those writings do 
authorise them as fully to become a church, and choose ministers, and then 
to ordain them, as if the apostles were alive. Moses was not the builder of 
the national church of the Jews, but Christ immediately did it, and not 
merely gave directions : Heb. iii. 3, ' This man Christ hath more honour 
than Moses, inasmuch as he that builded the house hath more honour thaa 
the house,' whereof Moses was but a part himself. 

If it be answered to all this, that by excommunication their fundamental 
church state is not dissolved, as the character of a brother or of a minister 
is not so defnced when excommunicated ; but that, if he repent again, he re- 
mains a minister without a new ordination ; we reply. Besides the reasons 


fore-mentioned, that so likewise if Christ should remove the candlestick and 
unchurch any, if they repent their church-state would be restored ; and 
2, if they be thrown out of their own church by excommunication, this 
church-state must remain as it were in the air, as an accident without a 
subject ; and 3, if they be cast out of the visible church, which is the greater, 
by excommunication, then they are cast out of the less also. 

It may, and hath been said, that in cases of maladministrations, wherein 
churches have miscai'ried and erred, though synods have the power of ex- 
communication in such cases, yet it is not necessary for the rectif3'ing of that 
evil that they should proceed against the church, so as the church should 
be the object of their dealing with ; but it may be enough for them to deal 
with persons only that are scandalous, whom the church will not amend; 
and that then, in case of the church's neglect, they may excommunicate 
those persons. 

Now unto this we reply, that in these cases of evil administrations, what 
power synods are to be trusted withal is to be primarily, or at least as much, 
exercised upon the church that hath miscarried and neglects its duty as upon 
the persons ; and therefore it will not salve it that they should let the church 
alone, or deal more lightly with them, and so take upon them to excommu- 
nicate the persons whom the church neglects to excommunicate. Which is 
made good by these reasons. 

1. From the privilege and power of that church, be it classical or con- 
gregational, that is the first subject of excommunication ; they have the 
power first from Christ to do it, and a command so to do, and the duty lies 
on them. And therefore synods are to call upon them, and to provoke them 
to do it who have that power committed to them, and not to take it out of 
their hands ; for synods are not to assume more power than the apostles did. 
When the church of Corinth had neglected to excommunicate the incestuous 
Corinthian, Paul did not take it upon him and excommunicate him himself; 
but in this case he deals with the church for not doing their duty, because 
the power of judging was committed to them : ' Do not ye judge them that 
are within ?' 1 Cor. v. 12. He blames them, lays it upon them as a sin, 
and if they had still continued in that neglect, their sin had been as great as 
that of the man himself, and greater. And therefore, Christ also in his 
epistle from heaven to the church of Thyatira, Rev. ii. 20, blames that 
church and the angel thereof for suflering Jezebel to teach, and lays the sin 
upon them in this case, as well as upon Jezebel herself. And therefore, if 
synods are to excommunicate at all, and have power to excommunicate the 
persons, they must proceed against the church also. 

(1.) If it be said that the church must be supposed not to see that reason, 
for want of light, to excommunicate a member or members, that the synod 
doth, and so they may not have that cause to deal with the churches that 
they have with the person or member ; we reply, that if the sin be not evi- 
dently notorious in all men's eyes, deserving excommunication, but such as 
it may be well supposed the inferior church might not see ground for ex- 
communication, why should the synod meddle with cases of that nature, why 
should they not rather rest in the sentence of those inferior courts ? And 
if it be such a sin as is notorious, and the scandal answerably, then, surely, 
this church that person belongs unto is as much, yea more, in fault for their 
neglect or partiality. And surely synods, if they had any such authority, 
being such great and superior bodies, should not intermeddle but in cases 
suitable to themselves, in cases of moment, great and manifest to all men's 

And (2) the constitution of synods, and the relation they bear to churches, 

Chap. III.] the chubches of chkist. 247 

argues it. They are not as totum integrale, but colledivum, not an integral 
whole; they are not ecdesia inteyralis, but collectiva, not an integral church, 
but collective ; that is, they are in our brethren's intent a church of churches, 
if a church at all, and not in an immediate way a church of the members of 
those churches singly and apart considered. Their first and primary rela- 
tion is therefore to the churches as a part of that whole, and but secondarily 
unto the members ; and they are therefoi-e accordingly to deal in all such cases 
of omission with the churches. Their work is to have the care and cure of 
churches, and their miscai'riages ; and therefore, to deal with members only, 
and let the churches alone, is to neglect that which is their proper charge. 

(3.) So it was in the government of Judah ; the Sanhedrim did not them- 
selves meddle with the person to be judged, and pronounce the sentence in- 
stead of the judges of a particular city, but left it to them still to judge, 
according to their proper privilege, but dealt with the judges in case they 
pronounced not the sentence. And so here it should be, if we will suppose 
any such power at all to be in synods. 

2. It may, and hath been said, that presbyterial government supposeth 
the fault of this excommunication to lie in the elders that excommunicated 
the man, and so need not deal with the churches by way of coercion to them, 
but only with those elders that had the hand in it, who may be deposed, and 
others placed in their room. 

To which we reply, 1, That the people are supposed also at least to give 
their consent to the excommunication of a person in a church, by their own 
acknowledgment, and according to the practice of the reformed churches, 
yea, and are to judge, as the jury doth, by finding a man guilty ; and the 
officers are as the judges ; so in the church of Corinth, 1 Cor. v. vi., and if 
so, then they are to be judged in fault as well as the officers. 

But, 2, if the people are not to be censured and judged, yet suppose they 
cleave to their officers in this act, as thinking that they ought, and as being 
convinced with them that this man is to remain excommunicated, and there- 
fore dare not partake with him, as it is their duty in such a case, then the 
people are to be excommunicated as well as their officers, and both of them 
for this same thing, as being a church act according to their interests common 
to both. 

3. If the officers only should be excommunicated in this case, and others 
put in their rooms, then, 1, if the people do cleave to their former officers, 
these officers will want a church to officiate unto ; and why should they desert 
their elders, when they in their consciences judge their act to be just ? It 
becomes them to say. Let us all die with them in such a case. And if the 
synod will excommunicate a pastor and the elders of a congregation (supposing 
the people cleave to them), where is it that you will excommunicate him ? 
In their own church, or in your churches ? In his own church the people 
are against it ; and if in your churches, where is the people's concurring 
consent to this man's excommunication ? And if it be done in your churches, 
you only throw him out of your own ; or, 2, if they do not cleave to their 
officers, yet they conscientiously judging that they ought not to receive the 
man into communion with themselves, here is still no sufficient remedy for 
the man by this. 

4. Let it be further considered, that if these elders only should be deposed, 
yet they are perhaps the whole, the greater part at least, of a classis (for by 
the greater part everything is carried), and so of the elders of many congre- 
gations ; yea, if the provincial had seconded the sentence, then the greater 
part of the elders of a province are to be excommunicated also, and if the 
people cleave to them (as of old they did use to do to theu' bishops), then the 


people of all those churches also must be excommunicated, and what a havoc 
of the churches will this make ! 

If it be said that in this case, as in a rebellion, some few are singled out 
for example to the rest, it is answered, 

1. It is not in this as in civil government, for there capital punishments 
are chiefly for example, to prevent and deter others ; but here this of excom- 
munication is for the personal good of those that have sinned, to destroy the 
flesh that they may be saved, and therefore the souls that deserve it ought 
and must be excommunicated ; neither is there any warrant to think that 
when the merit and obstinacy of the sin calls for that ordinance appointed, the 
only means to cure it (which ciire is only to bring sinners to godly repentance), 
that that sin will be healed by any lower means of making others an example. 
The excommunication of some few may be a means to prevent those that are 
not fallen, but not those that are fallen into obstinacy. 2. In such civil 
mulcts, princes and states have power to pardon the rebels, or to pass the 
crime by, because the injury (so far as it is civil to themselves), but no 
ecclesiastical court hath power to forgive but where Christ forgives, and he 
forgives only the penitent ; nor yet ought they to forbear if they have the 
power of inflicting this spiritual punishment. 

Lastly, let the inconvenience be considered, if synods should excommunicate 
persons (when the inferior churches did acquit them) without excommunicating 
the churches themselves, what confusion and disturbance it is like to bring. 
The persons excommunicated will say. Where I am known and am a member, 
there I am acquitted and not meddled with ; but by strangers and the elders 
of a nation (having taken the cause out of their hands) I am condemned. 
This will bolster up persons, and make them obstinate, and they will oppose 
sentence against sentence. 


Arguments against subordination of synods to exercise ecclesiastical jurisdiction 
or government. — The first argument, that there is no warrant or designment 
of such a subordination in all the Scriptures. 

Though we judge synods to be of great use for the finding out and declaring 
of truth in difficult cases, and encouraging to walk in the truth, for the healing 
ofi'ences, and to give advice unto the magistrate in matters of religion ; and 
though we give great honour and conscientious respect unto their deter- 
minations ; yet since not only an occasional but a standing use of them is 
asserted and maintained, and that in subordination of one unto another, as 
juridical ecclesiastical courts, and this in all cases, we humbly present these 
reasons against it. 

All subordinations of these spiritual courts, having greater and lesser degrees 
of power, to which in their order causes are to be brought, must have the 
greatest and most express warrant and designment in the word for them. 
"Whence it is argued thus. 

Arg. 1. Those courts that must have the most express warrant and design- 
^ment for them in the word, and yet have not the least, their power is to be 
suspected, and not erected in the church of God ; but these have not the 
least : therefore, &c. 

There ought to be the greatest and most express warrant, and that for two 
things belonging to them: 1, for their subordination and number; 2, for 
their bounds and limits of power ; and because this principle is made use of 

Chap. IV.] the churches of christ. 249 

both in the point in hand and other of like nature, namely, to argue a pari 
ratione, from like and parallel reason, the argument to establish this propo- 
sition shall proceed accordingly from the strength of like reason in other cases 
and instances, that there ought to be a warrant and designment in the word 
for them. 

1. From the like reason, in the case of subordination of officers in the 
church one over another, there was a special institution, and it is required, 
or we own them not ; and that for intensive power and extensive power ; 
and therefore for the subordination of such courts also. The rule of pro- 
portion holds ; for a government of and by special subordinations, whether 
of one church officer or person over another, and of him over others, or of a 
many in the like degree of subordination, are but several forms of govern- 
ment, of which there is the like reason in common. As of subordinations 
in a monarchical way, wherein but some one person is superior to another 
downwards, or in an aristocratical way throughout, in tbis they come all to 
one ; that if there be to be an institution or warrant for the one, there is to 
be for the other, whether God or men be to be the instituters of them. Now, 
in the government of the church for the subordination of officers, there was 
an express institution, or men ought not to have assumed it : 1 Cor. xii. 18, 
' God hath set in his church, first apostles, secondarily prophets and evan- 
gelists' (who were of a parallel order), ' thirdly teachers ;' and the difference 
of power in apostles and evangelists is by subordination ; but Christ hath 
not set the like subordination of courts. 

2. It is proved from what the presbyterial principles themselves reject. 
An institution is required by them in the case of subordination of bishops, 
archbishops, popes, in their arguing against them and their power ; yea, and 
by the episcopal writers themselves, who, when it is objected that if there 
may be a bishop and an archbishop over them, why not a patriarch over 
archbishops, and a pope over all ? they deny this, and reject a patriarch 
or pope (although these popes should renounce infallibility), as not warranted 
by the word. They say, an higher and more universal subordination alters 
the case. And the usual exception against this subordination of such church 
governors is, that in Scripture we read neither of the name of an archbishop, 
nor of the thing, and therefore not of a subordination. The hke may be 
said of these ; where read we of councils provincial, national, names, or 
things ? Yea, and in this way of arguing (in this respect) the advantage is 
on this side rather ; for we are sure that once there was in the church such 
a subordination in church officers, evangelists over pastors, apostles over 
evangelists (only they were extraordinary, and so no patterns). But of such 
subordinations of councils in an aristocratical way, there is nothing to be found. 

3. It is argued from like and just reason, in other societies and bodies 
politic. In all kingdoms and commonwealths, well ordered and constituted, 
there is, and ought to be, a set and express order, by the laws, both of the 
number and bounds of courts of judicatory, from whom and to whom appeals 
are made, and in what cases, &c. ; and that this subordination should be set 
forth and fixed by the law, is as necessary as the laws and rules by which 
men in a kingdom are to be governed. The wisdom of the law doth judge 
it not enough to appoint several kinds of officers, as to say, councillors, Ser- 
jeants, judges ; but designeth also and appoints several courts, with their 
power and bounds, the designment of which (especially standing courts being 
made up of these) is a matter of much more moment than the other. Yea, 
and still the greater and higher such courts and assemblies are, having 
amplitude of power over others, the more express evidence and warrant for 
their power there is and ought to be, as for parliamentary power, and the 


privileges thereof. And this is evident, as from the example of all kingdoms, 
so from what the Scripture speaks of the constitution of them. Each part 
of the subordination of such power, in all government, both was and is called 
a creation of men in things human, whether it be in a monarchical or aris- 
tocratical way : 1 Pet. ii., ' Submit ^yourselves to every human creation.' 

Aud he speaks there evidently of (and therefore thus styleth) the subor- 
dination of powers in a commonwealth, whether officers or courts ; for it 
follows, * whether unto the king as supreme, or unto governors, as those that 
are sent by him,' &c. ; and so have subordinations of power under him. Now 
parallel, spiritual, and ecclesiastical government with this. As in the rear- 
ing of an human fabric, and contignation of power, there must be an ordi- 
nance or creation from man, when God hath left the framing of it (as in this 
case he hath), so this subordination being in divine power, there must be a 
divine institution of it, besides that of the distinction of the officers them- 

4. It is argued with like reason from Christ's institution. Mat. xviii. If 
in a particular church Christ hath prescribed the several subordinations of 
proceedings, and set forth the degrees, bounds, and orders of them, then 
much more it is required in these, by how much a larger extent of power is 
committed to them. The fii'st rule in Mat. xviii. for proceeding is, ' If thy 
brother ofiend thee, tell him thyself ;' then, 2, ' Take two or three, and if he 
hear not them,' then, 3, ' tell the church.' If there were a thousand breth- 
ren in a congregation, a man were not bound, nor were it orderly in an 
ordinary and set way, to take, as the church shall please, first two or three, 
and then ten, and then twenty, and still the like proportion of a greater and 
greater number, ere he comes to the church itself. But Christ hath set the 
order, and his wisdom saw it meet thus to design and limit the proceedings 
in a particular church. And it had been much more necessary to have 
appointed the like about these more general and greater assemblies, because 
every one of these courts (intended) have the power of a sentence and judg- 
ment, whereas those two or three proceed but in a way of admonition, in 
order to a superior court. Shall he take care of congregations (which are 
esteemed the meanest), and not for these, of which, if he should not have 
set the bounds of power, and the subordination thereof, none would know 
what belongs to them, who is in fault, if offences be not corrected ? Nor 
would any know whom first to appeal unto. I will appeal to the national 
assembly first, says one, and am not bound to the classical or provincial. 
Another would say, I will appeal to a general council, which can best judge, 
and will be sure to make an end of it. Why should any be hindered from 
going, jMr saltiim, if Christ hath not set forth and obliged us to these sub- 
ordinations in their order ? 

5. In the churches of the Jews, the subordinations that were, were set 
forth and determined by institution or example, how many courts there 
should be, and where to rest. There were the courts of the cities and the 
towns, and then their Sanhedrim, to which the cause v/as to be carried, if 
it were too hard for their particular courts, Deut. xvii. In the New Testa- 
ment, we have, for removing scandals, a congregational standing court and 
government (or be it a classical standing presbytery, over many congrega- 
tions, as our brethren say), and we have an example also of going out from 
a particular standing church, whether the one or the other, electively to 
another church or churches, when divisions are therein (which Acts xv. holds 
forth), but still for such standing subordinations and courts as these, out of 
this church, nothing at all. If there had been any national Sanhedrim, a set 
and constant judicatory, then Christ would have appointed it as he had done 

Chap. IV. J the chukches of christ. 251 

before ; but he bath not ; no example, no constitution, holds it forth, which 
is the second. And 

I come now to prove that these subordinations of synods have not the 
least warrant and designments of them in the word of God. 

1. The New Testament is silent in it. And if it be said that all nations 
were not then converted when the apostles wrote, it is answered, that God, 
in the Old Testament, took care aforehand to set the order when they had 
no cities, nor were settled in the land. And, accordingly, if the apostles 
had not lived to see that which might occasion such an institution or precept, 
yet thej would some way have left order for time to come. 

2. But, secondly, though the apostles lived to see many famous particular 
churches erected in a province as well as in cities, in a nation, as in Judea, 
in Asia, in Crete, there were many cities and churches in each ; and 
although all the people in those countries were not Christians nor members 
of churches, yet there was matter for the moulding and casting them into 
these subordinations, as well as now in France, where not the third part are 
protestants ; or in the low countries, where not the tenth part of the inhabi- 
tants are members of their churches. It had been as necessary to have 
appointed them. They set up and appointed all needful remedies for order- 
ing the churches after them when they should be gone. And it is more 
strange, that in the case of the spreading of errors they should not write to 
churches as gathered into synods, and as having the standing power to pre- 
vent and suppress them (if such ordinary standing assemblies, armed with 
coercive power, had been then in that existence as now), that upon no 
occasion this should be done, when yet they had occasions. 

Take the seven churches in Asia, Ephesus, Tbyatira, Smyrna, &c., with 
the rest of the churches there, in a province, called therefore proconsular 
Asia, and though therein we find many great disorders, and some in doctrine 
(the more proper work of these standing synods), yet we see that Christ 
writes only to each of these churches apart, and reproves each for the dis- 
order in each. Whereas, had they been one church, in such a standing 
association for government, and had had ordinary provincial and national 
assemblies extant, as now, the reproofs would have been especially directed 
thereunto. As if errors and disorders were in the classical churches (as 
those all are pretended to be) of Scotland, the chief rebuke would now more 
justly fall upon the national and provincial assemblies, as their constitution is. 

3. Yea, thirdly, the Holy Ghost would have at least vouchsafed to these 
or some other churches that were in like manner in a nation or province, 
as Galatia, &c., in respect of such a combination, the name of a church, who 
must have had, according to the principles of this government, so much of 
the power of a church. But nowhere are the churches in a province called 
a church, but churches, in the plural. And if the lesser churches, then 
these ; yea, rather these, having most of the power, should therefore rather 
have had most of the name. Yea, and by how much the church power 
thereof should have been most independent (as a nation is), and so come 
most eminently within that rule, I'ell the church (from which words these 
pretend their power, and yet cannot shew so much title thereto as to have 
the name church given them), let a rational account be given of this. 



The second argument against subordination of synods, that it woidd introduce 
a foreign ecclesiastical power over every state and kingdom. — The third 
argument, that there is no constant standing rule by which such a subordina- 
tion should be ordered and managed. 

Arg. 2. If there be such a subordination of synods in the church of 
Christ, then there is no independency but in an ecumenical council, which, 
first, would bring in a foreign ecclesiastical power over each state and king- 
dom ; and secondly, which therefore of all other should have its designation 
and existence in the word, and is more needful than all the other two sorts 
of synods mentioned ; for if any should be extant, then that which is reme- 
dium ejficacissimnm. It is said there is wanting remedium efficax, if these 
subordinations be not ; but according to these principles, there is wanting 
that which is the most efficacious remedy, if a general council be not extant. 
For if there be not a resting in a classical presbytery, but provincial also 
must be, and appealed to ; neither are they reckoned efficacious enough, but 
there must be national also, upon this supposition, that the greater assembly 
hath more of the promise and assistance of Christ than the lesser ; then, of 
all other, a general council must be supposed, in a transcendent manner 
above all the rest, to have the promise of assistance made to it, and so to be 
the most eminently efficacious (if not the only) remedy on earth ; yea, and 
only to be rested in, being that which only is the ultimate. Some of the 
papists, they give this to such a general council, that it cannot err ; but 
according to these principles of presbyterial divines, though it might err, yet 
it is supposable to be transcendently more irrefragable than all the other 
under it, and God more with it than with all the rest. And therefore God 
in his word would have given especial order for this above all other ; and 
the same God that suits his providences to his institutions would not have 
failed in what is the most sovereign remedy of all other, that it might have 
been existent in all ages ; as we see his promise was to the Jews, to keep 
their land when the males thrice a-year went up to the general assembly at 
Jerusalem. But for three hundred years the churches wanted them, and 
could not enjoy them, and they are adjudged therefore not necessary to the 
government of the church, which yet, according to these principles, must 
have been the most necessary of all the rest. Yea, and further else, thirdly, 
there must be an injurious independency set up in a national synod ; for 
when a man hath appealed from one court to another, and comes to this 
national, that is the ultimate existent, and upon the sentence thereof comes 
next to be banished out of a nation, to have his estate forfeited, to the ruin 
of himself and posterity, then it is he most of all needs the relief of an 
higher remedy, more efficacious than all those he hath gone through (if such 
an one may be) ; yet then he is left remediless, and (according to those 
principles) left more unsatisfied than ever ; because, thinks he, there is by 
God's appointment a court that hath more of God and of Christ in it than 
all these, to judge of the truth and right, and lo it is not, nor can ever be 

Let it be withal considered, that when God appointed a subordination of 
standing courts, he withal designed out which should be the supreme, and 
made it the ultimate ; and the supremacy and independency of it, in a set 
and standing way, was his institution as much as the appointment of the 
court itself, so that he was to be put to death that obeyed not the sentence 

Chap. V.J the churches of christ. 253 

of it, and all appeals were thereby cut off. Therefore if a national church 
doth take upon it to be an independent church, upon the sentence thereof, 
to have the extremest punishment executed (but that of death) that in a 
nation men are capable of, it had need, for the quieting of all men's spirits, 
that must submit to it, not only shew a warrant from God, to be an ecclesi- 
astical judicatory, but also to be the supreme court, as the Sanhedrim was, 
that appeals should be made unto. 

Arg. 3. To that end, thirdly, let it be examined what set rules there is, 
or may be supposed to be, of these subordinations, and their bounds, and 
the ultimate independency in a national church, which should be fetched 
from some standing considerations which the word warrants : God never 
having constituted a church, but he gave the bounds thereof. All variation 
of church power is from God. The alteration of the government of his 
people, the Jews, from a family government (which had been under the law 
of nature) to national in Moses his time, was by express appointment ; and 
as himself made and constituted it a national church, so there was an ecclesi- 
astical government framed by himself suited thereunto. And in the New 
Testament there is a reed to measure the temple, Rev. xi. 1, a rule to set 
out the limits of church power, as well as under the Old. And therefore the 
argument is framed thus : 

That church power which cannot shew a set and constant divine rule for 
its variation and subordination, and ultimate independency, is not of God, 
and so may not be. But this variation of church power into these subordi- 
nations cannot shew any such steady constant rule for these things. There- 
fore, &c. 

The major is evident from what hath been said. The minor is made good 
by a removal of all particulars that may be supposed to be the square of 
framing these subordinations, &c. 

1. Not that rule that the greater number or company of churches should 
rule and govern the less, and that the whole should rule the part, is a suffi- 
cient square by which to frame these subordinations. 

For then, 1, there would be as many several subordinations as there can 
be supposed variations of greater numbers, and that will arise to more than 
these three only. Every new greater company would constitute a new synod. 
2. Where is the promise of God, that he will be more with the greatest part 
of them that profess Christianity, rather than with a few, so far as to con- 
stitute a new power and government ? Yea, 3, the greater number of 
churches professing religion are more corrupted, the pure churches are fewer. 
It had been ill for Philadelphia, and the angel and elders thereof, if those 
seven churches in Asia had been cast into such a subordinate association for 
government, to be exercised by the angels and elders of all the other six 
churches, with the rest in Asia. And the like may be said of the purer re- 
formed churches in Germany ; if the gi-eater number of those that yet were 
true churches should have ruled the lesser, then (Lutherans and Calvinists 
being bound to this government) the Lutherans (being also true churches, 
and yet the more in number) would by virtue of this law have soon corrupted 
the purer. And what reason can be pretended (according to this rale and 
the principles of this government) to leave any true churches out of an asso- 
ciation ? 4. Suppose there should be as many elders and churches more 
purely reformed in one province or shire as in the rest of a whole nation be- 
sides (as instance might be given in some of the reformed churches that 
there are), why should not God be thought to be as much with them as with 
the national assembly ? And if all are to give themselves up to this law, 
how will the greater, which is the worse, either corrupt the purer, or expel 


them? 5, 11 qua greaier, then the decrees of greater (viz., general councils) 
in former ages should bind us more than national or provincial now, for they 
should have had more of church in them (by this rule), and so more of 
Christ ; and then take all general councils that set up popes and bishops, and 
all other superstitions, if it be said we chose them not, yet still that is not 
the ground makes their decrees less divine, or obliging to us, but it lies in 
the authority of God's ordinance, that they were the greater and more gene- 
ral councils. And, however, still if this be the rule, that .the greater number 
of churches rule the less, then take the measure of this greatness and num- 
ber of churches from time, stretching the line over all ages past, as well as 
from the greater number of churches in such or such a place or nation in 
the present times, and so look what general councils for most ages of the 
world did establish, should (by virtue of this law) oblige the present times, 
and have more force upon us, than the universal church in this present age, 
much more than of any national assembly, if either be simply considered 
under a mere ecclesiastical obligation, that is, qua greater, and more of 
church. Time varies not the case so, but that all their acts, having been acts 
of the church universal in all ages, should comparatively stand more in force ; 
but, however, the acts of any of the last general councils will stand in force 
until a general council of like extent repeal those acts, as the statutes of par- 
hament of our ancestors do, if not repealed by like and equal authority. 

2. It is not the notion, or the consideration of their being churches in 
such or such a nation or province, that can be the rule of making this obli- 
gation, or setting of these bounds. It must be considered that the question 
is of a mere ecclesiastic obhgation, by virtue of church principles, such as 
should have been a just rule and measure to the primitive churches, ere 
princes turned Christian, to have reared up the like subordinations. Now 
then the limits from hence must either rise, from being first one church in a 
kingdom, under the same civil government ; or, secondly, one church in a 
nation, that is, either from a national respect or political. 

(1.) First, in general, from neither; for that instance in Acts xv., of the 
council there, its rise, or the bounds of its authority, was founded upon 
neither ; for if either national or political respects should have obliged them, 
they should have sent to Syria or Cilicia, and not Jerusalem, who were both 
under a differing government civil, and of another nation. But, 

(2.) Secondly, more particularly. 

[l.J Not qua church in one kingdom, for that is pe7- accidens to a church, 
that it grows up to a kingdom, or that the whole nation is converted to Chris- 
tianity, and therefore a set rule for all times cannot be fetched from thence. 
This could not be the certain measure of the independency of church power 
in the apostles' times. [2.] This makes the bounds of ecclesiastical indepen- 
dency and jurisdiction uncertain, varying as the bounds of kingdoms do vary. 
When the Roman empire had all kingdoms under it, all the churches must 
then have been obliged to have had then general standing councils, suited to 
the extent of the empire, to have been the next unto the provincial, for their 
supreme judicatory, such as the national are now to the provincial, or else 
before the empire turned Christian, there was this rule, even as many inde- 
pendencies as churches. And then again, when this empire was broken into 
ten kingdoms, yea, and many more, there arose, instead of the former, many 
new independent boundaries of church power (of which only the question is, 
and not of that power which a church doth come to have, and simply and 
alone holds of the magistrate, which will be merely civil), and then, as king- 
doms vary by conquest, the like alteration the bounds of church power must 
receive. Among the Jews it did not, which when the church was broken 

Chap. VI.] the churches of christ. 255 

into two kingdoms, by God's appointment, yet the cliurch state, by God's 
institution, varied not, but was still one church. Lastly, if this independency 
ariseth from the magistrate, then there is no need of such subordinations, 
which is proved by experience in reformed churches abroad, who are well 
enough governed, without these subordinations. Geneva hath no appeals, 
but is governed by one classical church ; and why may not all other churches, 
as well without them, if the magistrate oversees them, and keep each to their 
duties ? The churches in the low countries want national synods, and yet 
are peaceably governed ; yea, some for a long time have been without pro- 
vincial, and say, if they can, they will never have more ; and yet are peace- 
ably and quietly governed. It is as the civil magistrate will terminate the 
independency, and himself overlook it. 

2. Secondly, If these bounds be fetched from national respects, then in 
Germany, the Calvinists must be subject to the greater number of Lutherans ; 
and, in this kingdom, all ministers must make up this association, and the 
greater number will be the worse, and oppose the good. If because the Cal- 
vinists, that profess a further reformation, are disobliged from associating with 
the Lutherans, then those in any nation that profess a further reformation 
than others, are free by the same law. Surely uniformity of principles is a 
more intimate bond of such association than any such outward extrinsecal 
respects. 2. If qua nation, then Wales must be independent. 3. If (7?^rt nation, 
then, 1, if nation be taken for a people of the same tongue and kindred, all 
the Christian Jews in the primitive times, when scattered into any nations, 
were bound to have made one church distinct from all the churches they 
cohabited with ; 2, if for a people dwelling in the same national bounds, then 
the same Jews, being dispersed into several countries and nations, must have 
made one church with the several nations where they lived ; whereas Peter 
in his epistle, and James in his, and Paul to the Hebrews, wrote unto the 
Jews apart, as churches in all nations. 


The fourth arrfument against subordination of synods, that it reqnireth repre- 
sentation of spiritual power, arising from other representations. 

Arcj. 4. That government which necessarily requireth and producoth repre- 
sentations, arising out of other representations of spiritual power, having a 
derived power therefrom, there is no warrant for. ]jut these subordinations 
of synods, provincial, national, ecumenical, for the government of the church, 
do so, &c. 

The major shall be spoken to, after the minor proposition is both cleared 
and proved, which is done by putting two things together: 1, that if there 
be an authoritative subordination of all churches in the provinces to a 
national assembly, and so of many nations to an ecumenical, binding unto 
subjection ; that then all in the provinces must be interested in that national, 
and all in the nation in that ecumenical ; so as it may be said, that they are 
all involved and included, and so obliged, as it is in parliamentary power, 
wherein the shires are involved. 2. That this interest in this subordination 
cannot arise but either by immediate choice of those elders who shall repre- 
sent them, by each church and congregation immediately (which is the case 
of our parhament men, chosen immediately by those they represent), or else, 
that the provincial elders sent by the congregations shall choose out of 
themselves some few that shall represent the provinces ; and so likewise the 


national assemblies shall choose out some few that shall represent the whole 
nation in a general council. Now, the first of these is not, nor can be : the 
congregations meet not for any such immediate choice, but the elders of 
them all choose out of themselves. So as the obligation of all the churches 
to be subject to a national assembly (arising out of those other subordinations), 
is not because they are a greater number of elders or divines ; for in a pro- 
vincial synod there may be assembled as many as in the national ; but it 
ariseth from hence, that some out of all do represent the rest; and other- 
wise, when a national assembly sits in a great city, all other neighbour 
ministers must come and vote with them, and outvote them who are the 
representors of the whole. 

Now such a representation, having a derived spiritual power from other 
representations, is not in matters spiritual warrantable. Besides all argu- 
ments against delegated power in matters spiritual, all ministers being imme- 
diately Christi vicarii, and that all such representations grow weaker, as 
reflections use to do ; elders represent the churches in classical and provincial 
assemblies, as being immediately chosen by them ; but the elders in national 
assemblies are the representations of elders in provinces, and so are a shadow 
of that first shadow, whereas yet they have the most of power, even all that 
can be supposed to belong to the whole substance. Besides such considera- 
tions, it is argued thus : 

1. If that these few out of nations should bind all those nations in matters 
spiritual, and a few out of provinces, the nation, they must be supposed to 
have the promise, and an assistance answerable. But where is either the 
promise, or can gifts in a few be supposed to produce such an obligation ? It 
is true, ' where two or three are gathered together,' his promise is to be in 
the midst of them, and so suppose with more when more are met ; but that 
his promise should be to be with a few out of a nation, as with the whole 
nation, and those not chosen immediately by the nation, but the representers 
of them, cannot be expected. It is granted, that each so met hath the gifts 
and assistance of an elder ; and so the whole, as of so many elders met (as 
we in this assembly are to be looked upon, and the judgment thereof accord- 
ingly reverenced) ; but that as they are elders representative of hundreds 
of other elders, who themselves are representers of churches, that any such 
addition should arise to them, by virtue of this duplicated representation, 
over and above what is in their single gifts and oflices, let either a warrant 
be produced or a promise. Two things are allowed them, but a third 
denied them : 1, it is granted, they may have assistance to judge as elders, 
which is their ofiice ; 2, assistance to judge according to their personal 
abilities, being thus called to give their advice ; but, 3, such a superadded 
assistance as holds proportion to that spiritual bulk and body which they 
represent (for suppose that always it falls out, that the best and choicest of 
a nation are chosen, yet still not to hold proportion to a whole nation), there 
must be a more than ordinary promise for it, and therefore had need be ex- 
press and evident. That it is otherwise in commonwealths, is because the 
representations, and also the power conveyed, being human creations, the 
persons represented can set up a power which shall represent them ; but 
this power we speak of is supernatural, and must be from God and his in- 
stitution. The Sanhedrim of Jerusalem had a special assistance above all 
courts else ; and therefore God appointed causes to be brought to it, which 
special assistance is intimated twice in the institution of it, Deut. xvii., by 
this, that they ' should go up to the place which God should choose,' ver. 8 : 
and ' do according to the sentence which they of that place (which the Lord 
shall choose) shall shew thee.' An emphasis is put upon the blessing, which 

Chap. VII.] the churches of christ. 257 

by God's choice and election did accompany that place wliicli God had 
chosen to put his name, and promised to be in an eminent manner present 
in, and to accept their sacrifices there oftered (which was a representative 
worship of that nation), and not elsewhere. Now, as that was the repre- 
sentative worship of the nation, so these governors were the representative 
governors of the nation, and both sanctified in that place, as the gift was by 
the altar, as that which God had chosen. If the like institution were found, 
with the intimation of such a blessing from a peculiar choice of God's, of 
national assemblies, all ought to subject to them in matters spiritual. 

2. If there be such representations as these, in one or few persons of many 
churches, they have each for that time, whilst in such an assembly, archi- 
episcopal and episcopal power ; and their case is parallel (parallel then for 
that time and occasion, and as met in a synod) with that of so many bishops, 
when met in a council, whose episcopal power, as then and therein met, lies 
in this, that they are so many churches representative ; especially this would 
fall out if these synods should still consist of the same men, or if some few 
should be always chosen to them. And why may there not be standing 
persons, that are more skilful in such affairs through exercise, usually 
chosen,, as well as standing assemblies themselves ? And then as touching 
matters of jurisdiction in such an assembly, they are for the present the 
same with so many bishops met in a coavocation. 

3. If these representations, having the power of all the churches in the 
nation, were warrantable, they must be a church. Besides that they are 
nowhere so called (we leave the usurpation of that name to the popish 
clergy), and if so, then a body to Christ ; for so every church is; and where 
is Christ said to have a representative body of his body ? They are a 
church, that is, a company of elders personally gathered ; but a represen- 
tative church they are not, cannot be; and yet must be, or they have not the 
power of all the churches in a nation in them, nor otherwise do their acts 
oblige them to subjection, 


Reasons against the allegation brought, of Acts xv., for the subordination of 
synods, provincial, national, ecumenical. — And, reasom against the argument 
drawn from the analogy o/"Mat. xviii. 

Besides what hath been said against this example, alleged to prove presby- 
terial acts of government, by the elders of the church of Jerusalem, in the 
reasons formerly presented; proving, 1, that that one example cannot serve 
to prove both the presbyterial government and synodical, but that if the 
assembly will lean to the one, the other must be quitted ; 2, that the 
assembly was not a formal synod, but only a reference by the particular 
church of Antioch, of their differences among themselves, unto this particular 
church of Jerusalem, and no other ; it is moreover added, that the example 
of it is here further extended, to prove all sorts of synods and subordinations 
thereof, both provincial, national, and ecumenical, and so it must suit all 
these so great varieties, when it was not made tit for any one of them. 

But if it had been a synod, yet, 1, neither provincial nor national, but 
the contrary ; for Antioch consults not with the churches of her own nation, 
but seeks to Jerusalem, a church of Judea, of another nation and another 
province. 2. Neither is it the instance of a standing synod (which the word 
subordination doth necessarily infer them to be standing courts, or else the 



links of those chains will not hang together), but elective ; for they sent, out 
of election and choice to them, but about this one question at this time, 
without any obligation to refer all other matters to them in an ordinary way. 
3. Nor is it the multiplication of synods, but only of one, in whose judgment 
those of Antioch rested. 4. Much less is it the instance of rearing up of a 
subordination and contignation of synods, superior and inferior, which is a 
further thing ; for though, when offences are not healed, and one reference 
to other churches is not sufficient to cure them, there should be a seeking 
to others, yet the example obligeth the churches that are in difference, not 
to take and choose the churches of that pro%ance, either as of that pro- 
vince, or as the greater number to whom both those among whom the 
■controversy is, and those to whom it was afore referred, must be subordi- 
narily subject. Much less doth it hold forth, that the churches of that pro- 
vince may judicially challenge a right of authority to decide it, and oblige 
them, sub jni'iui, to their determination, and then the churches of that whole 
■nation challenge the like over all. But still it runs in this way only, that 
those who shall be judged meetest and ablest, and faithfuUest, to determine 
and compose it, by those who are to refer it. 

The argument is usually drawn from like reason, and let there be found 
like reason, and it is granted ; and though itself is not the pattern of a formal 
synod, yet it holds forth this rule of equity, that when offences arise among 
churches, references ought to be made, from out of themselves, to churches 
abroad, to heal them. But the question is, To what churches these references 
are to be made ? And let the like reason, held forth in the example, be kept 
unto, and decide it. Say we still to those churches, the churches offended 
or divided shall choose, as fittest and ablest to determine it. This is clear 
in the example : Antioch was not bound to refer it to the church of Jerusa- 
lem, as greater, or &s a next neighbour, or of the same province, but as best 
able to judge of the differences. And this way agrees with the law of nature 
and of arbitration, so usual amongst men, which God hath there set up as 
an ordinance and pattern of proceeding in such cases. But this subordination 
of synods intended holds so differing a course from this, as, 1, instead of 
elective synods and occasional, it sets up standing, and so set to be the judge 
of the churches under them for ever; 2, not in one case (as Antioch to 
Jerusalem), but in all cases whatever shall fall out; 3, not in a way of 
multiplication or diversification, as need shall be, but of subordination and 
settled superiority ; and the grounds of this to be, because the gi'eatest must 
rule the less, and that they are neighbour churches, in the same province or 
nation. And this the like reason, in Acts xv., is so far from countenancing, 
that in all things it is unlike, and so there is a differing constitution, and 
rise of those synods thus subordinate, from what the reason drawn from Acts 
XV. will warrant ; and therefore doth make a differing formal reason in the 
government ; and human prudence added will not rectify it, when the rea- 
son of the institution is so much varied from. For instance, if the funda- 
mental law for remedy of wrongs, and deciding controversies, in any king- 
dom, were by arbitration elective, to take them their judges whom the parties 
in difference judge aptest every way for the present controversy, and that 
the precedents and ruled cases hold forth no more ; and if that the govern- 
ment of another kingdom were, that the greater should rule and determine 
the causes of the less, and according to the proportion thereof, to have subor- 
dinate standing courts erected, to which (by appeal from the one to the 
other) all causes should be brought ; whether were not these two such dif- 
fering frames of government, so as that he that would mould the first to the 
second might not be challenged to set up a new government, differing from 

Chap, VII.] the churches of Christ. 259 

the fundamental law of that kingdom ? and whether the one is not at 
liberty to withstand the second, if it were vouchsafed to any kingdom (and 
that is the case here) ? is humbly submitted. And the bounds of such 
assemblies elective needed no set or standing rule, because they rise from 
occasional electiveness, in case of controversy and offence, and the extent 
thereof. And so the condition and nature of the things themselves do pre- 
scribe their own limits, and hold forth their own rise, like as the bounds of 
particular congregations, to be of such as live so as conveniently to meet in 
one place, ariseth from the nature of the thing itself, and the necessary 
requisites thereunto. 

I shall now consider the argument drawn from the analog}' of Mat. sviii. 

1. The strength of the argument runs, that because there should be this 
remedy, that therefore there is such a remedy. 

2. It is granted there is a remedy, which is a going forth to other churches, 
which Acts XV. holds forth ; but that excommunication (which is the remedy 
held forth in Mat. xviii.) of the offending church or churches, should be the 
remedy, is not there held forth, as hath been shewn. There is a remedy of 
co-ordination, such as between two nations, and as between jjams (as churches 
are) proceeding in a way suitable to their condition, but not this of subordi- 
nation, that the greater number of churches should become standing courts, 
and have power to excommunicate the lesser ; but that all churches have a 
power to declare the offence, and withdraw communion from those churches. 
And, in reason, how is it possible for a national church to excommunicate 
all the churches of a province ? And how ineffectual would that be ? Or 
for a general council to excommunicate a nation ? And if they cannot use 
this remedy, to what end is this subordination of synods, having this autho- 
rity, pleaded for ? 

And whereas it is said, that there must be the same remedy that is in a 
congregation for an offending brother, or else where the disease is strongest 
the remedy is weakest, it is answered, 

1. That where the disease is strongest, there this, which is called the 
strongest remedy, cannot be applied, or with an apparent efficaciousness ; 
for when the churches in a province err, or a national, here the disease is 
strongest, and yet it would be in vain to interdict them communion among 
themselves or deliver them unto Satan. Yea, when it comes to the highest, 
and where the disease is greatest and strongest, there is not only no remedy, 
but the highest and greatest power to do hurt upon all under them, as when 
the generality of the clergy were Ai'ians ; and if they err, the error is worse 
than of a pope's erring or of a bishop's. He is but one, and may be deposed; 
and in the greater bodies of the clergy the greater part are and have been 
still the worser and more corrupt, as is apparent in this kingdom at present, 
in which (by virtue of the presbyterial principles) all ministers must be taken 
in ; and if you will put them out, where will others be had in their room ? 
Convert men we cannot ; and if not converted, ministers of all others are the 
worst and greatest opposites to religion ; and if a national assembly be 
chosen by these, the greater number are like to be of the worst, and such as 
may alter all that you now have done. And if it be said that this would 
hold against great politic bodies as well, who may undo the commonwealth, 
the answer is, that the common and equal interest of all, and the common 
principles of preserving the rights and liberties of a state, and seeking the 
common good, is natural to the generality of men ; but the truth of the 
gospel and purity of religion, and the power thereof, is contrary to the prin- 
ciples of all natural men, and in all ages the most of the clergy have been 
aptest to cprrupt the cue and oppose the other. And in those ages when 


such councils began to bo standing, and in most credit, after the first three 
hundred years, then was it that the mystery of popery did work most power- 
fully, and those superstitious and corrupt opinions grew up which made way 
for the man of sin, and that body of popish doctrine that hath overspread 
the world. And if there should be no danger of corrupting the truth, yet 
the churches (though reformed) coming all out of popery, and not being 
fully enlightened in all things, and the first notion of anything further in 
matters of theology usually falling into the hearts and spirits but of a few, 
we shall have no further truth taught, but suppressed, till a whole nation is 
enlightened in it. 

2. The efficacy of all remedies doth depend first upon Christ's blessing 
on them, which depends upon his institution of them, and iiar ratio, or, like 
reason, will never set up an ordinance, unless Christ hath himself appointed 
it; and in the example. Acts xv., there is not this way of proceeding held 
forth. Secondly, it hes in suitableness to the condition of those that are to 
be dealt with. Now, when many churches deal with an erring church, the 
churches in a province with many erring churches, or of a nation with a 
province, they must be in reason dealt with, suitably to the condition of 
churches, and of a multitude, and surely a brotherly way of admonition and 
withdi'awing communion is more suitable unto such ; as in the civil govern- 
ment, if a province rebelleth, or a great multitude of subjects, should the 
state presently hang up all in that province ? although unto particular per- 
sons rebelling this is efficacious to suppress rebellion. Thirdly, Christ hath 
suited his remedies unto all times and unto all conditions, and how national 
and provincial assemblies could be during the first three hundred years, when 
yet the churches were all governed, is submitted. 

3. And lastly. If the analogy of this 18th of Matthew be argued, then 
first let the analogy be kept, and then when a church hath ofi'ended other 
churches, they are not to bring them to a set court of judicatory at first; for 
Christ's rule is otherwise in dealing with an ofiending brother, electively to 
take two or three churches and admonish them, which is suited to that way 
fore-mentioned, Acts xv. But as for the proceedings against a brother in a 
congregation, there is not a set appointed number of two or three standing 
persons to be the admonishers of all, ere it comes to the church, nor have 
they power to excommunicate ; and thus by this proportion, instead of these 
set and standing provincial assemblies to whom causes are next brought, and 
these armed with power of excommunication, there should only be two or 
three or more neighbour churches to admonish the ofi"ending church, and 
not a stated court to bring it unto. Secondly, let it be shewn where a stand- 
ing synod of elders is called the church, and how then can the analogy hold 
when it holds not in this, the main, 'Tell the church'? Lastly, the hke 
reason holds not, unless these particular congregations have the powder of 
excommunication ; for otherwise, if these greater assemblies' power be argued 
from the analogy of the lesser, and the same remedy, excommunication, and 
the particular congregations have not that allowed them, then, by the prin- 
ciples of this analogy, it is nowhere to be found ; but as the congregational 
churches have a power only to admonish and to suspend the sacraments, that 
so the greater assemblies should have no more also. And though the church 
universal is called a church, and one body to Christ, yet as materially con- 
sidered, and not as a politic body in respect to government, which was never 
yet asserted by this assembly. ••' 

* The assembly of divines at Westminster, 

Chap. VIII.] the churches of christ. 2G1 


Of the intercourse or communion which 2^arlicular churches are to hold one with 
another. — That there is a twofold communion of saints, the one arising from 
the relation which they all hear to one another as members of Christ's mystical 
body ; the other, ivhich jnoceeds from their being formed into particular 
churches by Christ's institution. — That the duties of catholic communion, 
which one believer owes to another, by virtue of their all being members of 
the same mystical body of Christ, those duties one or many churches may 
and ought to perform to another church. 

Having proved that neither the church universal, nor a church as national, 
or in a kingdom, nor a church classical of manj^ congregations associated, are 
the subjects and seats of political power for juridical censures, as excommuni- 
cation, &c., but a congregational church only, there yet remaineth to be con- 
sidered ^Yhat intercourse, communion, and correspondency we assert to be 
between each church and their elders, by virtue of any or all those considera- 
tions and respects. We acknowledge that by virtue of the consideration of 
the church universal, whereof each congregation is a part, and by virtue of 
churches being in a nation of the same language, under the same civil govern- 
ment, or living in the same neighbourhood, and being of the same judgment, 
there is to be a great and near communion to be entertained between all such 
churches, and according to such respects. This communion is to be observed 
with some more nearly and strictly; and such is the nature of this communion, 
as it will oblige all churches one to another in a multitude of mutual duties, 
which, if observed, may help to preserve churches from running into confu- 
sion, may rectify miscarriages, preserve them from errors, and may salve all 
those inconveniences which use to be objected against this assertion, of 
placing only political power in congregational bodies. 

We lay this for a general rule, that there is a twofold church and church- 
relation which the New Testament holds forth ; and answerably, a twofold way 
of communion. There is, first, a church mystical ; and secondly, there is a 
church political, or a politic body, which is the seat of government by institu- 
tion. We said at first, that communion of saints and churches do both run 
along together in a parallel proportion, communion of saints being the foun- 
dation of uniting all into that body of the church ; and as we said there is 
a twofold communion of saints, one fixed, for communion in pubHc ordinances, 
the other occasional, so there is a double constitution of church. 

1. There is first a church mystical, and a communion answerable, whether 
we take it for the invisible company of the elect, or for the visible company 
of the professors of Christianity, that do walk as saints throughout the 
world. The invisible church is acknowledged by all sorts to be a mystical 
body ; but it is not only called a mystical body, as it is opposed to the church 
visible, but as it is opposed to a church by institution, that is, a politic body. 
The visible catholic church is not a body by institution, as in heaven it shall 
not be. We acknowledge that the visible saints in a kingdom, or in a city, 
may be called the church, as bearing the respect, or consideration, or notion 
of the mystical universal church ; as every part of water bears the name of 
the whole, so as it is not only the church universal that hath the considera- 
tion of a mystical body put upon it, but the same consideration may be put 
upon any company of saints, whether smaller or greater, in a kingdom, or 
in a city, or in a province. And so we believe, that oftentimes in the New 


Testament, the saints in such a place are spoken of and called the church ; 
they are called so, sub consideratione viystica, under that mystical considera- 
tion, and not as considered as a politic hody ; as when it is said that Saul 
persecuted the church, 1 Cor. xv. 9, it was not the church universal that he 
persecuted, it was not a church under a political consideration, hut it was 
the saints in every place where he came. So when it is said that prayers 
were made by the church for Peter, Acts xii. 5, it is not spoken of them as 
a chm-ch congregated for worship, or a church political, but the meaning is, 
that the saints generally in Jerusalem, and about in Judea, prayed for him, 
the saints being there called a church under that mystical consideration that 
the church universal is called. 

Now answerably unto these two several considerations and notions of 
church, whether applied to the church universal or to any parcel of saints, 
there is a twofold communion, and the duties are twofold which the saints 
owe one to another : the one in respect of mystical and general relation, 
us occasionally they meet or are cast together; and the other is as they are 
formed up into several bodies by Christ's institution. This may be exempli- 
fied by the like among mankind. Take all mankind as they are made of 
one blood, under the general notion and consideration of being men ; by virtue 
hereof there is a communion that one man may have with another, and 
there are duties that thence do arise ; and as it is the law of nature, singly 
and apart considered, which obligeth them, as they are men, so answerably 
there is a communion, and there is a duty which every man oweth to every 
man as a man, and a duty which one man oweth to many men, considered 
as many, or to a greater number of mankind; and therefore we say, there 
is the law of nature, which holds all the world over, and laws of nature that 
are fundamental to men as men. And if you cast men into several nations, 
there is the law of nations, common to all nations as they are nations, which 
binds them to duties one toward another. But there is another communion 
that mankind hath as they are formed up, and when they are formed up, into 
several commonwealths, which, though it be a mutual communion of those 
commonwealths one with another, yet it ariseth not to government and 
authority over one another, but is but suitable and answerable to that com- 
munion which men have one with another as men. Thus, in the matter of 
communion of saints as saints, there is a communion which is carried through 
all saints, as it were by the law of nature, and that is carried between these 
saints as formed up into several bodies or churches. The same kind of 
communion holdeth between church and church, elders and elders, that 
would hold between mankind as formed into several commonwealths ; and 
there are duties which they are obliged unto mutually, for mutual help, for 
mutual strength, &c. There are associations and leagues made to several 
purposes; and there are defiances and renunciations, when the laws of nations 
and nature common to kingdoms are broken. Amongst the saints, there is 
a communion betwixt the saints cast into the same family, and there are 
duties answerable and suitable ; and then there is a communion which the 
saints have, consisting of many famihes united into one church, and there 
are duties agreeable. And there is a communion and duties which are to 
pass between these saints, as they are members of a nation, and as they are 
churches in the same nation, and upon many such respects, yea, and also 
as they are parts of the church universal. Only in this, here lies the ditier- 
ence between us and our brethren, that they would make the communion 
which is between all the saints and all the churches in the world to be as 
truly political, the lesser being subject to the greater, in the church uni- 
versal, or in a nation, as it is in a particular congregation, as we would; or 

Chap. VIII. J the churches of christ. 263 

as it is in a church classical, according to their opinion, or as it is in a par- 
ticular congregation, as we assert it. 

Now that there is such a differing kind of communion, the one by way of 
authority and jurisdiction, and the other according to the common law of 
nature (as we may so express it), is evident by the principles of either side. 
For the presbyterian divines, who hold national churches, in a political 
consideration (when churches come up to that number as to make a nation, 
and so several nations, several national churches), yet hold that there is a 
communion to be held between these, and an obligation to a multitude of 
duties ;* yea, and an uniformity that is to be between these, when yet they 
will not say, that the one hath, authority or power of jurisdiction over the 
other. As for instance, if you take the national church of Scotland and the 
national church of England, or if you suppose that there were but two 
churches in the world, there would be a great deal of communion held between 
the one and the other, and ought to be, when yet the one could not assume 
a power over the other, but each retains a power of jurisdiction entire within 
themselves. This different kind of communion appears likewise by this, 
that there are duties which one saint oweth to another upon mere moral 
grounds, as that a man should pray with, and pray for a saint, and build 
him up in his holy faith, and admonish him, and not let sin lie upon him, 
or withdraw from him, if he do not repent, &c. So that if there were but 
two saints in the world, which could not make a politic church, they 
would owe all these duties one to another ; but not upon a ground of insti- 
tution, as a duty of the second commandment, but as of a duty of the second 
table, which bindeth us to love our neighbour as ourselves. And so if there 
were no congregations or churches in the world, the saints would upon such 
a consideration owe to one another abundance of duties. Yea, indeed, there 
is almost no duty that is practised in a congregation, by way of institution, 
but a duty of a like kind upon another ground is required occasionally of 
saints one to another. Men that have preaching gifts, might exercise them 
occasionally to the edification of others in a natural way, where there was 
iiot a church nor officers of a church ; and yet God hath took up preaching 
into an office, made a caUing on purpose for it by way of institution. So, 
to avoid any man that walk inordinately, to instruct him, to reprove him, 
are duties which one saint oweth to another, and one saint to many saints, 
and many saints to any saint ; which kind of discipline the saints did practise 
one toward another, in the bishops' times, and had a warrant so to do in 
the word of God ; but all this did run, as it were, by the law of nature in a 
moral way, by virtue of the second table and the duties of it. But as Jesus 
Christ hath by institution formed up his saints into several churches (so that 
such bodies are by institution), he hath stamped all such duties as are 
amongst Christians by this general law of nature, with an institution over 
and above that former mere natural or moral consideration. He hath here 
appointed one brother to admonish another, in order to bring him up to that 
church he belongs unto, to a censure ; and he hath ordained public persons 
that should be by way of office admonishers in public, and that should 
admonish with authority, and with such an authority put upon that admoni- 
tion, as thus performed, as is not to be found in all the saints in the world, 
if they should admonish a man. There is not only a withdrawing (which one 
saint may do from another, though there was no way of church-fellowship), 
but there is superadded an institution of casting out ; and not only so, but 
a delivering unto Satan, which all these saints in the world cannot do; for 
what power had they, unless it be from a promise annexed to an institution, 
* See the Scotch Reasons for Uniformity. 


to deliver a man to the devil, for him to seize upon a man's conscience when 
he is thrown out. 

Hence, therefore, the saints formed up into congregations, with their 
elders, heing to us the only ecclesiastical body by institiition, an instituted 
authority and power of jurisdiction is found only answerably in them, and all 
other relations of saints and churches one to another fall only under a 
mystical consideration, and therefore their communion and their power is 
answerable. The one runneth in a way of special institution ; the other 
modo myslico^ in a way of mystical communion. To the one, the ordinance 
of excommunication is therefore only proper and peculiar ; to the other, a 
withdrawing or a non-communion appertains. 

1. Hence, therefore, in the first place, we do grant and acknowledge, that 
many of the same duties and actions, which performed in a particular church 
do rise up to jurisdiction, are and may be performed by a greater number of 
churches to another church ; but only modo jnijfitico, in a way of mystical 
communion, because the relation is such, and yet the duties may be the 
same, and the actions the same. A greater number of churches may admonish 
another church, they may cast out another church from their communion 
and association, but all this will not arise to a juridical power of excommu- 
nication. They may declare men to be perverters of the faith, to be heretics, 
so as to fulfil the apostle's rule, not to eat with them, or bid them God 
speed, 2 John 10, 11, and yet in all this it doth not arise to assuming juris- 

2. "We acknowledge, in the second place, that in such actions of many 
churches toward one church, there is an impress of authority, taking it in 
a larger sense, for that which hath a persuasiveness and an inducement in 
it ; but it will not arise to an authority juridical, such as Jesus Christ hath 
placed in them, as they are a political body. But for that power which is 
placed by Christ, by virtue of an institution, there is a superadded authority 
of Jesus Christ beyond the force of moral or rational inducements, and the 
conscience is to be subject to the power and authority therein, as unto the 
power of Christ, for his will and institution's sake. If we take the elders of 
one congregation, besides all the considerations that are common to them 
with all other elders and saints in the world, there is an authority stamped 
by Christ upon them, by virtue of their relation and oflice, so as the members 
of that congregation are to be subject to them, not only upon moral grounds, 
but on account of that authority with which Christ hath invested them ; and 
in the acts that they do (admonitions, casting men out, excommunication, 
and the like) there is an efficacy to be expected, w^hich is in no other order 
of men in the world, if they would undertake the like. The difierence of 
these two powers may appear by abstracting all rational or moral induce- 
ments. 1. This authority of the elders is more than authority by way of 
reason, or by one's alleging an express rule out of the word, which a man's 
conscience may apprehend by faith from the mouth of him that doth direct 
him, or lay it before him. Another man's wife or servant may subject her- 
self to the guidance of a reason, or of a scripture, that is brought by another 
man, who yet hath not authority added to it, such as her husband hath 
when he addeth a command thereunto besides. A child is said to lead one 
new converted, Isa. xi. 6 ; but in this case it is merely the authority of the 
word or reason alleged that the conscience subjects itself to,