HEAD I.-Where the sufferings of many, for refusing to acknowledge a corrupt Ministry, are vindicated; and the question of hearing Curates is cleared.
This question, though it may seem nice, and of no great moment, to persons of Gallio’s or Laodicea’s temper, indifferent and lukewarm dispositions, consulting their own more than the things of Christ, which make it pass without any inquiry with the most part of the world; yet, to all who are truly tender in keeping a good conscience, free of the times contagion, to all who have the true impression of the fear of God, who is jealous, especially in the matters of his worship; to all who have the true zeal of God eating them up, in a just indignation at the indignities done to him, in usurping the office, and corrupting the administration of the ministry, to all who truly love the gospel, and put a due value on the ordinances of Christ, the corruptions whereof this question touches, it will be accounted of great importance.
There are three questions about the duty of hearing the word, concerning which the Lord Jesus gives us very weighty cautions, to wit, what we should hear Mark 4:24, how we should hear, Luke 8:28, and whom we should hear. The last of which, though it be not so expressly stated as the other two, yet the searcher of the scriptures will find it as clearly determined, and as many cautions to guard from erring in it, as in any other case, and that the concern of conscience in it is very weighty. And certain it is, if there had been more advertency in this point, there would not have been such inconsideration and licentiousness in the matter and manner of hearing. Nor would that itching humour and luxuriancy of lust, in heaping up teachers to please the fancy, have been so much encouraged, to the great detriment of the church, disgrace of the gospel, and destruction of many poor souls. But through the ignorance and neglect of this duty of trying whom we should hear by seeking some satisfying evidence of their being clothed with authority from Christ, the world hath been left loose in a license to hear what they pleased, and so have received the poison of error from the mountebanks [charlatans], instead of the true and wholesome potions of Christ’s prescripts from them that had power and skill to administer them. Hence the many sects, and schisms, and errors that have pestered the church in all ages, have in a great measure proceeded from this latitude and laxness of promiscuous hearing of all whom they pleased, whom either the world’s authority empowered, or by other means were possessed of the place of preaching, without taking any cognizance whether they had the characters of Christ’s ambassadors or not. If this had been observed, and people had scrupled and refused to hear these whom they might know should not have preached; neither the great antichrist, nor the many lesser antichrists, would have had such footing in the world as they have this day. It is then of no small consequence to have this question cleared. Neither is it of small difficulty to solve the intricacies of it, what characters to fix for a discovery of Christ’s true ministers; whom we should submit to and obey in the Lord, and love and esteem them for their work’s sake, and for their qualities sake, as standing in Christ’s stead, having the dispensation of the word of reconciliation committed to them; and how we may discern those characters; what judgment is incumbent to private christians, for the satisfaction of their own consciences in the case; and how they ought to demean themselves in their practice, without scandal on either hand, or sin against their own conscience; how to avoid the rocks and extremes that inadvertency or precipitancy in this matter may rush upon; so as to escape and fail by the Scylla of sinful separation on the one hand, and the Charybdis of sinful union and communion on the other, which are equally dangerous; especially how these cautions are to be managed in a broken, and disturbed, and divided case of the church. The question also is the more difficult, that as it was never so much questioned before this time, and never so much sought to be obscured by the perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, to find out evasions to cover sin and escape sufferings upon this account; so it hath never been discussed by divines either at home or abroad, with relation to our case, except what hath been of late by some faithful men, who have suffered upon this head, from whom I shall gather the most of my arguments, in as compendious a way as I can without wronging them. The reason, I fancy, that we are at such a loss in our helps from the learned on this head, is partly, that they have written with relation to their own times, in a constitute case of the church, when corruptions and disorders might be orderly rectified, and people might have access to get their scruples removed in a legal way by church order, in which case the learned and judicious Mr. [James] Durham hath written excellently in his book on Scandal; but therein neither he nor others did consult, nor could have a prospect of such a case as ours is; and partly, that foreign divines, not having this for their exercise, could not be acquainted with our circumstantiate case, and so are not fit nor competent arbiters to decide this controversy; hence many of them do wonder at our sufferings upon this head. Every church is best acquainted with her own testimony. Yet we want not the suffrage of some of the learnedest [most learned] of them, as the great Gisb[ertus] Voetius in his Polit. Eccles. in several places comes near to favour us: where he allows people to leave some, and hear such ministers as they profit most by, from these grounds, ‘That people should choose the best and most edifying gifts, and from that scripture, 1 Thess. 5:21. Prove all things, etc. and answers objections to the contrary, and granteth, that, upon several occasions, one may abstain from explicit communion with a corrupt church, for these reasons, that such communion is not absolutely necessary, by necessity either of the mean or precept where the christian shall have more peace of conscience, and free exercise of christian duties elsewhere, and that he may keep communion with more purity in other places Polit. Eccles. Quest. 17. Pag. 68. And he approves of the people refusing to bring their children to be baptized by such corrupt ministers, because they may wait until they have occasion of a minister; for if the best gifts be to be coveted, why should not the best ministers be preferred? and why should not christians show by their deeds, that they honour such as fear the Lord, and contemn a vile person? They ought not to partake of other men’s sins, 1 Cor. 5:9,11. Eph. 5:11. They should not strengthen the hands of the wicked, and make sad the godly; the authority of such ministers should not be strengthened, Voet[ius] Polit. Eccles. Page 637 to 640.’ But though it labour under all these disadvantages; yet it is not the less, but so much the rather necessary, to say somewhat to clear it, with dependence upon light from the fountain, and with the help of faithful men who have sufficiently cleared it up, to all that have a conscience not blinded nor bribed with some prejudices, by which more light hath accrued to the church in this point of withdrawing from corrupt ministers, than ever was attained in former times; which is all the good we have got of Prelacy. In so much that I might spare labour in adding anything, were it not that I would make the arguments, vindicating this cause of suffering, a little more public, and take occasion to show, that the grounds espoused by the present and reproached party for their withdrawings, so far as they are stretched, are no other than have been owned by our writers on this head; to the intent it may appear, there is no discrepancy, but great likeness and harmony between the arguments and grounds of withdrawing, in the late Informatory Vindication [written by James Renwick and Alexander Shields], etc. and those that are found in other writings. And so much the rather I think it needful to touch this subject now, that not only this hath been the first ground of our sufferings, but many that suffered a while for it, now have fainted, and condemned all their former contendings for this part of the testimony, calling in question all these reasons that formerly satisfied them. But to proceed with some distinctness in this thorny point: some concessory assertions must first be permitted, and then our grounds propounded.
First, I willingly yield to, and cordially close with the truth of these assertions.
I. The unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, ought to be the endeavour of all that are members of the one body of Christ, partakers of his one Spirit, called in one hope, professing one Lord, confessing one faith, sealed with one baptism, Eph. 4:3, etc. And for brethren to dwell together in unity, is good and pleasant, and like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon Aaron’s beard, Psal. 133:1,2. A fragrant ointment indeed, if it be composed aright of gospel simples, according to divine art, and the wisdom that is from above, which is pure, and then peaceable: and not made up of adulterate politics: that union that hath the spirit for its author; the scripture for its rule, peace for its bond and beauty, love for its cement, faith for its foment, Christ for its foundation, and truth and holiness for its constant companions, cannot but be intensely desired, enixly [forcibly] endeavoured, and fervently followed by all the professors of the gospel of peace, and subjects of the prince of peace: which makes division and schism not only a great misery, but a grand sin. But it must be in the way of truth and duty, and consistent with holiness and the honour of Christ, otherwise if it be in the way of apostasy and defection, it is but a confederacy and conspiracy against the Lord. And true union can neither be attained, nor retained, nor recovered, except the sinful cause of division, defection; and the holy overruling cause, the anger of the Lord be removed in turning to and following him.
II. Though there be not perfect union, but diversity both of judgments and practices, in several cases there may be communion with a church in its ordinances and ministry. As, 1. We may have a catholic communion with all christian ministers and members of the catholic church, considered as such; holding the head Christ, and the fountain sure. And so we may meet for worship with all devout men in every nation under heaven, whether they be Parthians, or Medes, or Elamites, or French or Dutch, etc. though differing in controversies of lesser moment, not overturning that; if they hold the universal testimony of the gospel, against the common enemies thereof, Jews, Turks, or Pagans: for there is neither Greek nor Jew, if he be a christian, Christ is all and in all, Col. 3:11. But if they be heretics, we can have no communion with them. 2. We may have a more special communion with all Protestant ministers and members of the Reformed church, considered as such, more strictly, and upon stricter conditions: providing they hold, not only the universal of Christians, but the general testimony of Protestants, against the greater and lesser Antichrists; though differing from us in some circumstantial points, not Reformed, and not contradictory unto the Protestant testimony against Popery, and all heresy; nor declining from their own reformation, by defection or schism. And consequently, it is lawful to own communion with the churches of the United Provinces, and take ordination from them, though they have some forms not allowable, from which they were never Reformed, because they are sound in the Protestant testimony. But with the Sectarians, or Schismatics, or Apostates among them, we cannot own that special communion. 3. We may have a more particular communion upon yet stricter conditions with all our Covenanted brethren, ministers and members of the churches of Britain and Ireland, considered as such: providing they hold, not only the universal; not only the more special, Protestant testimony against the greater and lesser Antichrists, but the Covenanted testimony for the reformation in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, against popery, Prelacy, superstition, heresy, schism, and profaneness, according to the Covenant; though differing from us in those controversial points, never Reformed, and which were never the word of Christ’s patience, and do not overturn the covenanted testimony. But with those that contradict and counteract that, we cannot own that particular communion. 4. We may have yet a nearer organical communion, upon stricter conditions still with all the ministers and members of the national church of Scotland constitute and confederate under one Reformed government, according to the rule of Christ: providing they hold, not only all the former testimonies under the foresaid considerations, but the Presbyterian testimony as stated in the ecclesiastical constitution, and sworn to in the national covenants and engagements of that church, founded upon the word of God, against popery, Prelacy, Erastianism, sectarianism, toleration, schism and defection; though differing in some things from us, never Reformed, never considered in ecclesiastical judicatories, never engaged against in our covenants, never stated as the word of patience and matter of testimony. But with these that oppose, suppress, reproach, and abandon this testimony, we cannot own this organical communion, in this broken state of the church. We may have yet a stricter congregational communion, upon stricter conditions, and with the ordinary or extraordinary meetings or societies of the Lord’s people for gospel ordinances, with any minister or ministers, duly and truly admitted to that function, according to Christ’s appointment, and the call of the people, whether in a fixed or unfixed relation; providing he holds the testimony of Christ, under all the considerations, and owns and adheres unto the true received principles of the church of Scotland, in doctrine, worship, discipline and government, founded upon the written word of God, and whatsoever declarations or testimonies, former or latter, particular or more general, are agreeable thereunto; though differing from us in some of the integral and not essential parts of our testimony against the enemies of our covenanted reformation. But with such as deny or decline from it, by schism or defection, or compliance with the enemies thereof, we cannot own this congregational communion, in this broken state of the church.
III. Though there be many things in a church, to brangle [squabble] and lessen the comfort of our communion with it, and the ministry thereof; yet we may keep fellowship with a true church, though in many things faulty and corrupt, as all churches are in some measure in this militant state. As the church of Corinth had many corruptions in their practice, yet no separation is enjoined from it. And the Lord did not require separation from the churches of Pergamos and Thyatira; though they had many corruptions and deficiencies in discipline, in a toleration of heretics; and would lay no other burden upon them, but to hold fast what they had: as Mr. Durham shows in his Commentary on the Revelation, Chap. 2. Lect. 6. Pag. 148, 149. as also Chap. 18. Lect. 1. Pag. 585. in 4to. This must be granted especially in these cases, 1. In the infant state of the church, when the reformation is only begun: then many things may be tolerated, before they be gradually Reformed, which, in an adult state, are not to be suffered. 2. In a growing case of the church, advancing out of corruptions, then many things may be born with, while they are ascending and wrestling up the hill, which in a declining state, when the church is going backward, must not be yielded unto. See that objection of hearing Prelatical men in the time of former Prelacy, answered above, Peri[od]. 4. Pag. [TAG]. In a constitute and settled case of the church, enjoying her privileges and judicatories, corruptions may be forborne, and the offended are not to withdraw, before recourse to the judicatories for an orderly redress; but in a broken and disturbed state, when there is no access to these courts of Christ; then people, though they must not usurp a power of judicial censuring these corruptions, yet they may claim and exercise a discretive power over their own practice; and by their withdrawing from such ministers as are guilty of them, signify their sense of the moral equity of these censures that have been legally enacted against these and the equivalent corruptions, and when they should be legally inflicted. As we do upon this ground withdraw from the Prelatic Curates, and likewise from some of our covenanted brethren upon the account of their being chargeable with such corruptions and defections from our reformation, as we cannot but show our dislike of. This the reverend author of Rectius Instruendum [Thomas Forrester], justifies Confut. 3. Dial. Chap. 11. pag. 8. where he is showing what separation is not sinful; and gives this for one. If we separate in that, which a national church hath commanded us as her members to disown, by her standing acts and authority, while those from whom we separate own that corruption. Which holds true of the Curates, and indulged and addressers, and all that we withdraw from. However it be, certainly those are to be withdrawn from, with whom we cannot communicate, without submitting to the laws establishing them, and taking on that test and badge of our incorporation with them, and partaking of their sin, and in hazard of their judgment.
IV. Though in some cases, as we are warranted, so are necessitated to withdraw: yet neither do we allow it upon slight or slender grounds, nor can any tender soul be forced to discountenance the ministers of Christ, (I do not speak here of the Prelatical Curates), without great reluctancy and grief of heart, even when the grounds of it are solid and valid, and the necessity unavoidable; therefore we reject these as insufficient grounds. Besides what are given already 1. We cannot withdraw from a minister, for his infirmities or weakness, natural, spiritual or moral. 2. Neither for personal faults and escapes: we expect a faithful, but not a sinless ministry. 3. Nor for every defect in faithfulness, through ignorance, want of courage, misinformation, or being biased with affection for particular persons. We do not hold, that faults in members or defects in ministers, do pollute the ordinances, and so necessitate a separation; but agree with what Mr. Durham says on Revelations, Chap. 2. Lect. 6. Pag. 147. in 4to. Sincerity discovered will cover many faults. 4. Nor for every discovery of hypocrisy; though we may have ground to suspect a man’s principle and motive be not right, yet if he be following duty unblameably, and have a lawful call, What then! notwithstanding every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached, therein we may rejoice, Philip. 1:18. 5. Nor yet for real scandals, not attended with obstinacy, if ministers will take reproof and admonition, and at least by doctrinal confessing and practical forsaking them satisfy the offended. 6. Yea though his scandals be so gross, that we must discountenance him, when he persists in them: yet that is not a disowning of his ministry, or a rejecting his commission, but a discountenancing for his disorders, until they be removed. But the Apologet. Relat. Sect. 14. pag. 290, 291. says, (1.) ‘There may be ministerial corruptions, that cut the very throat of the office, and make one no officer,—–and it is past questioning, such may be shunned, without all hazard of separation. (2.) When personal faults are very gross and palpable, open and avowed, such may be shunned without any hazard of separation; because the man’s being an officer, before God, is much to be questioned, and there is great probability, that by the very deed itself, he had forfeited the same, though such should be the corruption in a church, that notwithstanding of all this he may be maintained. (3.) Separation is one thing, and not hearing such or such a man is a far other thing: there may be many just grounds of exception against a particular person, why people may refuse to countenance him, without any hazard of separation, or joining with separatists in their principles: separation is one thing, and refusing to attend the ministry of such a man is another thing; for a man may join with ordinances in another congregation, and so testify that he hath no prejudice at the ministry, but only against such a man in particular.’ Whence it is an ignorant as well as malicious calumny, to say, that our withdrawing from the Curates, and also from some ministers, whom other wise we respect and reverence as godly ministers, for their offensive defections, is a disowning all the ministry of Scotland. Whereas, we do profess indeed a disowning of the Curate’s ministry, but for our reverend Presbyterian ministers, though we do discountenance many of them with sad hearts, for not keeping the word of the Lord’s patience in this hour of tentation, nor adhering to the principles and constitutions of the church of Scotland: yet this is not a disowning of their ministry, but a refusing to countenance them in their present administrations, in this disturbed state, till these offenses be removed.
V. As to disown the ministry, were hateful sectarianism; so to dissolve or break off communion with a true church, whereof we are members, were an unnatural schism, which is horrid sin. But because among all the various sufferings, wherewith the poor tossed and racked remnant now persecuted, have been exercised, this hath not been the lightest; that they have been on all hands stigmatized as schismatics and separatists, not only because they have maintained a resolved withdrawing from the Curates, but also have discountenanced many Presbyterian ministers, with whom they have been offended for their declining courses, and compliances with the times corruptions, and forsaking in a great measure the duty of this day: I shall distinguish some cases of separation, out of the writings of our approven authors, which will justify all their withdrawings. 1. Mr. Durham distinguishes these three; schism, separating from the unity and communion of a true church, consisting not always in diversity of doctrine, but in divided practices, according to that of Augustine, It is not a different faith makes schismatics, but a broken society of communion: then separation, either in whole from a church as no church, or in part in some things wherein they cannot communicate with that corrupt church, which is lawful if it exceed not its ground; then, lastly, secession, a local removing to a better church. The first of these cannot be imputed to the persecuted wanderers: for they separate from no true church, whereof they were members, but these from whom they separate, will be found to be the schismatics. 2. The second of these, to wit, separation, is either positive and active, or negative and passive. The first is, when a party not only leaves communion with a church whereunto they were formerly joined, but also gathers up new distinct churches, different from the former, under another government and ministry, and ordinances, disowning those they left. The latter is, when the faithful remnant of a declining church, standing still and refusing to concur with the backsliding part of the same church, after they have become obstinate in their defections, hold closely by, and adheres unto the reformation attained. This famous Mr. Rutherford, in his Due Right of Presbyteries, pag. 25, 254. showeth to be lawful, and calleth it a non-union, as that in Augustine’s time, when the faithful did separate from the Donatists, which is lawful and laudable. 3. ‘Mr. Rutherford there proceeds to distinguish between a separation from the church in her worst and most part, and a separation from the best and least part: and these who separate from the worst and greatest part, do not withstanding retain a part of, and a part in the visible church, because they do not separate from the church, according to the least and best part thereof; as the godly in England, who refused the popish ceremonies and antichristian bishops. Hence it will follow, that though now people should withdraw from communion with the greatest part of the church, which is now corrupted, they cannot be counted separatists, because they hold still communion with the better, though lesser part. Moreover he saith, pag. 254, 255. That there may be causes of non union with a church, which are not sufficient causes of separation. Lastly, He tells us in the same place, pag. 258. When the greatest part of a church makes defection from the truth, the lesser part remaining sound, the greatest part is the church of separatists; though the maniest and greatest part in the actual exercise of discipline be the church, yet in the case of right discipline the best through fewest is the church. For truth is like life, that retireth from the maniest members unto the heart, and there remaineth in its fountain in case of dangers. So that it is the major part which hath made defection, that are to be accounted separatists, and not such who stand to their principles, though they cannot comply or join with the corrupt majority.’
Thus the Apol[ogetical] Relat[ion] rehearsed his words, sect. 14. pag. 292-293. 4. There may be a lawful withdrawing, where the ordinances and ministry are not cast at, as the Apol[ogetical] Rel[ation] saith ibid. 291. ‘So then, so long as people do not cast at the ordinances, but are willing to run many miles to enjoy them: nor cast at the church as no church (tho’ they sadly fear, that God shall be provoked by this dreadful defection which is carried on by these men and their favourers, to give her a bill of divorce) nor at the ministry, for they love those that stand to their principles dearly, and are most willing to hear them either in public or private. 5. It is granted by all that write against separatists, that separation from a church is lawful, when the case so falleth out, that union cannot be kept up with her without sin, Voet[ius] Polit. Eccles. p 68. quest. 17.’ 6. The grave author [Thomas Forrester] of Rectius Instruendum Confut. 3 dial. chap. pag. 7. etc. ‘Allows, every separation is not schism, even from the church which hath essentials; yea, and more than essentials: if it be from those though never so many) who are drawing back from whatever piece of duty and integrity is attained; for this is still to be held fast, according to many scripture commands. So Elias, when God’s covenant was forsaken, was as another Athanasius (I and I only am left) in point of tenacious integrity. 7. Next he says, If we separate in that which a national church hath commanded us as her members to disown, by her standing acts and authority, while those from whom we separate own that corruption. 8. Likewise he there asserts, there is a lawful forbearance of union and compliance with notorious backslider, in that which is of itself sinful, or inductive to it: which is far from separation strictly taken. The commands of abstaining from all appearance of evil, and hating the garment spotted with the flesh, do clearly include this. 9. He adds, many things will warrant separation from such a particular minister or congregation; which will not warrant separation from the church national; nor infer it, by Mr. Durham’s acknowledgment (on Scandal, pag. 129.) for if scandals become excessive, he allows to depart to another congregation. 10. Lastly, He says, There is a commanded withdrawing from persons and societies even in worship, the precepts, Rom. 16:17. 2 Cor. 6:17. Prov. 19:27. Acts 2:40. will clearly import this by consequence.—–Surely the ministers and professors, adhering to the reformation, must be the true church of Scotland, tho’ the lesser number: these soldiers who keep the generals orders, are the true army, not the deserters of the same.
But, Secondly, it being in part cleared by these assertions, what is our mind in this controversy, I shall lay down from scripture oracles, all the causes and cases justifying and warranting withdrawing from any ministers; with application of all of them to the Curates, and accommodation of some of them to all that the wanderers withdraw from: with arguments endeavouring to evince the validity of them, and evidencing they are not new notions, but the same grounds which approven authors have improved in this controversy. I shall omit the ordinary criticisms in stating the question, in distinguishing betwixt hearing and joining in worship, and owning them as our ministers, and submitting to them, etc. And only essay to prove this thesis: We cannot, without sin, own church communion in gospel ordinances with the Prelates or their Curates, as our ministers, but must withdraw from them, and any other guilty of the like corruptions, which we can make out against them. I shall not resume what confirmations this thesis is strengthened with, from the testimonies, or church constitutions of former periods, which are permitted in the foregoing discourse; nor make any repetition of the circumstances of our present condition, represented above, which contributes to clear it: but shortly come to the arguments.
I. It is necessary that we must acknowledge them Ministers of Christ, and his ambassadors clothed with his commission, from whom we receive the ordinances of the gospel. For otherwise they must be looked upon as thieves, robbers, usurpers, and strangers, whom Christ’s sheep will not, nay must not hear, John 10:1,5. And how shall they preach, or be heard, except they be sent, Rom. 10:15. For such whom we know may not lawfully preach, we cannot lawfully hear. These from whom we may receive the mysteries of God, we must account Ministers of Christ, 1 Cor. 4:1. and Ambassadors for Christ, standing in his stead, beseeching us to be reconciled to God, 2 Cor. 5:20. Hence such as we doubt to acknowledge ministers of Christ, clothed with his commission, them we cannot hear without sin: but the Prelatical Curates are such as we doubt to acknowledge Ministers of Christ, clothed with His commission: Therefore we cannot hear them. The Minor only needs probation. These who neither have nor can have the qualifications of a minister of Christ, cannot be acknowledged with confidence to be ministers of Christ clothed with his commission; but the Prelatical Curates are such: Ergo———First they neither have nor can have the qualifications of Christ’s ministers; since few of them have the personal, as christians, far less the ministerial as officers, mentioned 1 Tim. 3:2,3. Tit. 1:6,9, except it be to be husbands of one wife, and if that do not make them ministers, they have nothing else, especially four are wanting in all of them. (1.) Blamelessness, and freedom from Scandal, even such as affects the office (besides other gross disorders in their life and conversation, obvious to the view of onlookers, being men who have denied the faith; and therefore unfit to have the privilege of church members in any well governed church) being in the experience of all that know them signalized under the characters of those that run unsent, and from whom we are commanded to withdraw: causing the people to err by their lies, and by their lightness, not sent of God, Jer. 23. making the heart of the righteous sad, and strengthening the hands of the wicked, Ezek. 13:22. See also Ezek. 34:2,3. Such as we are commanded to beware of Matth. 7:15,16. Such as we must mark and avoid, Rom. 16:17,18. Philip. 3:2. Disorderly walkers from whom we must withdraw, 2 Thess. 3:6. Covenant breakers from whom we are commanded to turn away, 2 Tim. 3:3,5. They are not then blameless: and in showing how fitly these agree unto the persons now spoken of, time needs not be spent, such as know them can best judge. Hence, such as either are not fit to be church members, or have all the characters of such officers from whom we are to withdraw, cannot be acknowledged capable of the qualifications of the ministers of Christ; but such are the Curates: Ergo———(2.) The qualification of vigilancy cannot be found with them: for all that know them will acknowledge that they neither do, nor can in preaching the word by instant in season and out of season so as to make full proof of their ministry, 2 Tim. 6:1-5. Nay they can give no proof of their ministry at all, further than may be competent to dumb dogs that cannot bark, Isa. 56:10,11. For they nor no man can say, That the diseased they have strengthened, or healed that which was sick, etc. Ezek. 34:4. And it is known to all that know them, that if ever there were any that assumed to themselves the name of Levites, who departed out of the way, and caused many to stumble at the law and corrupted the covenant of Levi, and therefore were deservedly contemptible and base before all the people, (Mal. 2:8,9.) they are the men. Let any man judge them, whether they have the qualifications of the Messengers of the Lord of hosts. Hence, they that can give no proof of their ministry, but that which proves them to be such whom the Lord condemns, and such who deserve to be contemned of all, cannot be acknowledged to be qualified as the Lord’s ministers; but the Prelatic Curates can give no proof of their ministry, etc. Ergo———(3.) The qualification of aptness to teach is wanting; yea, incompatible with them not only such of them as are noted for ignorance, of whom clearly that is verified, they are blind watchman, they are all ignorant (Isa. 56:10.) but even their greatest clerks and Rabbis may fitly be called after the name of their forefathers, whom Christ calls blind leaders of the blind, concerning whom he gives a command to let them alone, Matth. 15:14. Either generally they are discovered to be such masters of Israel, as know not these things, John 3:10. being men not exercised in religion, and have not learned the truth as it is in Jesus; or they are such, as if they have had gifts of grace, yet now they are palpably blasted of God, and so cannot profit the people at all, being such as do not stand in God’s counsel, for then they should have turned the people from their evil way, and so they are not apt to teach others when they are not taught of God, but steal his words every one from their neighbour, clearly discovering they are not sent of him, Jer. 23:20,22,30,32. And because they do not stand in God’s counsel, they cannot declare all the counsel of God, Acts 20:27. For they can neither be apt to teach repentance towards God, since they cannot be supposed to be sensible of these sins to be repented of, for which the land perisheth, and is burnt up like a wilderness, Jer. 9:12. For then they would first repent themselves of their own conformity with Prelacy, of their breach of covenant, etc. All that they can do in such a subject is, to see vain and foolish things, and not to discover the land’s iniquity, but to see false burdens, and causes of banishment, Lam. 2:14. Nor can they be apt to teach faith, seeing in many things they teach otherwise than Christ hath taught us in his word, and consent not to wholesome words, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, from such the command is to withdraw, 1 Tim. 6:3-5, whose mouths must be stopped when they teach things which they ought not, Tit. 1:9-11, which is undeniable to all that know what sort of stuff they preach, contrary to the word of God, and the principles of our covenanted reformation. Hence if none of them be apt to teach, then none of them is fit to be heard; but none of them is apt to teach; Ergo———"It is true private christians may not judge of the endowments and qualifications of ministers; yet every private christian hath the judgment of discretion, and that way may judge such an one if he appear qualified according to the rule of the word; and may doubt if he be a qualified minister before God, wanting these qualifications which the word requireth, Apol[ogetical] Relation sect. 15. p. 285." Secondly, They have not the lawful call of a minister of Christ, so much as an external call of his institutions: which I prove thus. They that have presentations [ceremonious introductions] from patrons, and collations [bestowals of preferment] from Prelates, and no more for a call, have no lawful call at all; but the Curates have presentations from patrons, and collations from Prelates, and no more for a call: Ergo they have no lawful call at all. The Minor cannot be doubted: "For, in this government, the minister’s mission, call, ordination, and relation to such a people over whom he is to officiate, flows all from the Prelate; the congregational eldership hath not the least interest in it: hence the Presbyterian way of calling pastors was ranversed [reversed] by the parliament, when Prelacy was set up, and the old custom of Patronages was restored, Rectius Instru[endum] Confut. of 1 Dial. Chap. 4. pag. 3." The Major proposition may be proven by parts. First, presentations from patrons cannot give a lawful call; for besides what other reasons might be given against this old relict of Popish bondage of patronages; it destroys that privilege and liberty of the church in calling their own pastors, and makes all intruders, without the churches choice; whereas the flock are allowed a judgment of discretion, knowledge of, and consent to the admission of their pastors, to whom they entrust their soul’s directions, before they be subject to and obey him in the Lord, for otherwise he is a stranger that hath not come in at the door, and they must not, nor will not be imposed upon, John 10:1-5. They had an interest in choosing and nominating even the apostles though there were other apostles of infallible knowledge, as to qualifications, present to ordain them; and they appointed two to be chosen by lot, Acts 6:23, and even the Deacons were looked out and chosen by the people, and appointed over their business, Acts 6:3. ‘Much less ought ministers to be thrust upon such a weighty employment, to pleasure great men who are patrons, since in their faithfulness the people are infinitely more concerned.’ Rectius Instruen[dum] ubi Supra. Hence, if the Curates have no call but what destroys the peoples privilege, they have no lawful call at all, neither ought they to be owned, or countenanced as called ministers; but by the presentation of patrons they have no call, but what destroys the people’s privilege: Ergo———Next, Collations from Prelates cannot give a lawful call: for (1.) they cannot give that to others which they have not themselves; but they have not a lawful call themselves, because they are not lawful officers, as is clear, and may be proven afterwards. (2.) The only way of conveyance of an ordinary call to this office, is by the act of a Presbytery, 1 Tim. 4:14. And, by ministers, their ordaining elders in every church, with the consent of that church; but a Prelate’s collation is not this act of a Presbytery. (3.) That which only makes a man a Prelate’s depute, cannot give him a call to the ministry of Christ; but this collation only makes a man a Prelate’s depute. Or thus, a Prelate’s depute is no minister; but a Curate is a Prelate’s depute: Ergo———That a Prelate’s depute is no minister, I prove; not only from that, that a Prelate, as such, is not a servant of Christ but an enemy, and therefore cannot confer upon another, that dignity to be Christ’s servant; but from this, that the scripture allows no derivation of deputed officers. If no officers of Christ can have deputes of Christ’s institution; then the deputes that they make cannot be Christ’s officers of his institution; but no officers of Christ can have deputes by Christ’s institution: every man that hath any piece of stewardship in God’s family, must ever see and execute it immediately by himself and wait upon it, Rom. 12:7,8. That Curates are Prelates deputes is clear: for they are subject to them in order and jurisdiction, and derive all their power from them, and are accountable to them: therefore they cannot be acknowledged with confidence of conscience to be Christ’s ministers. ‘Because they have not such a visible evidence of the call of Christ, as, in reason and charity, doth oblige all men to receive the person so called, as truly sent: which things are so evident in themselves, that whoever denieth them, is obliged by the same consequence to affirm, that if Simon Magus had in his horrid wickedness, purchased the apostleship by money, the Christian world had been bound to receive him as an apostle, Naphtali, p. 105, 106, first edition.’ That their ministry is the Lord’s ordinance is plainly denied, Naphtali, pag. 109. ‘They have nothing like a solemn ordination, having no imposition of hands of the Presbytery with fasting and prayer, according to the order of the gospel, but the sole warrant and mission of the Prelate, and therefore it cannot be lawful to countenance such, and to look upon them as lawful ministers, Apol[ogetical] Relat[ion] sect. 15. pag. 183.’ It will be objected here, 1. ‘That then their baptism is no baptism, if they be no ministers.’ Ans. (1.) what sad consequences may follow upon the nulling of their office, let them see to it who either send such forth, or employ them.’ Apol[ogetical] Relat[ion] ibid pag. 294 the best way to avoid these inconveniences is not to countenance them. But (2.) the same answers may serve which are adduced for Popish baptisms and ordinations: and the deed sometimes signifies, That it ought not to be done. Next it will be, Object[ion] 2. That many of the Curates were in the ministry before, therefore the argument is not stringent against them. Ans. The one half of it about the qualifications does still urge them, through the want of which, and their base treachery and betraying their trust, and perjuries in breaking covenant, they have really forfeited their ministry, and loosed all from an obligation to hear them, or any other to whom these scripture characters may be applied, and brings all under the guilt of partaking with them that hear them.
II. It is necessary also, that all whom we may lawfully hear as ministers and ambassadors of Christ, should not only have had a commission from Christ, sometimes conveyed to them in his orderly appointed way, by and from approven church officers; but they must have it then when we hear them, at this time when we own communion with them. For if they have sometimes had it, and forfeited or changed it, by taking a new right another way, it is all one in point of owning them, as if they had none at all: and we must not meddle with such changelings, in things that they and we must not come and go upon, Prov. 24:21. Now plain it is, that some Curates sometimes had a commission from Christ, when they were Presbyters; but now they have changed their holding, and taken a new right from them who are no officers of Christ, invested with power to confirm or convey a ministerial mission; and so they have forfeited what they had. Mr. Durham, in a digression on this subject of hearing, shows, that ministers may forfeit, on Revel. chap. 1. p. 55. in 4to. ‘In matter of hearing (says he) it is not so hard to discern, who are to be counted to speak without God’s commission; because ordinarily such have no warrantable call at all (no not in the outward form, and so cannot be counted but to run unsent) or by palpable defection from the truth, and commission given them in that call, they have forfeited their commission: and so no more are to be counted ambassadors of Christ, or watchmen of his flock, than a watchman of the city is to be accounted an observer thereof, when he hath publicly made defection to the enemy, and taken on with him.’ Let the indulged and addressing ministers advert to this: and consider, whether or not the truly tender have reason to discountenance them, while they continue in their palpable defection. But undeniably this refels [refutes] that objection of the Curates ordination before they were Curates; for they that change their holding of a right, and take a new right which is null, they forego and forfeit their old right, and all right; but the Prelatic Curates have changed their holding of their right, and taken a new one, which is null: therefore they have foregone and forfeited their old one. The Minor I prove thus. They who had a right from Christ by conveyance of his officers, and take a new grant for the exercise of it, not from Christ, but by conveyance of such as are none of his officers, they change their holding, and take a new one, which is null. But the Prelatic Curates, who had a right by conveyance of his officers, have taken a new grant for the exercise of it, not from Christ, but by conveyance of the Prelate, which is none of his officers; Therefore———The stress of all will lie in the probation of this, that the Prelate is none of Christ’s officers, and therefore the conveyance of a power from him is not from Christ. Which I prove, l. Because his office is cross to the very nature of gospel church government and therefore he cannot be a gospel church ruler. Christ discharged his officers to exercise dominion (or Lordship, Luke 22:25,) or authority, as the gentiles did, but that the chiefest should be only a minister, Matth. 22:25,26. The apostle Paul disclaims dominion over the church, 2 Cor. 1. ult. Peter exhorts the elders not to be lords over God’s heritage, 1 Pet. 5:3. The authority of church officers then is not a despotic power, but a ministerial stewardship. But the diocesan bishop is both a lordly title and power, having all authority in the diocese derived from him, as being as it were the universal pastor, and so taking upon him a power, which is neither commanded, nor can be discharged. Hence, he that subjects his ministry to the domination of a strange lord, inverting the nature of gospel church government, cannot be owned in his ministry; but all Curates subject their ministry, etc. Therefore—2. Because he is an officer distinct from, and superior to a Presbyter or pastor; whereas the scripture makes a bishop and Presbyter all one. The elders of the church of Ephesus are call episcopi or overseers, Acts 20:17,28. An ordained elder must be a blameless bishop, as the steward of God, Tit. 1:5,7. Again, it cannot be shown, where the scripture mentions either name, qualification, work, duty, or ordination of an ordinary church officer superior to Presbyters, and which are not likewise appropriate to them who are called rulers, governors, bishops. In all the holy Ghost his purposed recitals of ordinary church officers, there is not the least hint of a Diocesan bishop; and yet a deacon is described the meanest [lowest] officer in his work and qualifications. Hence then, if this Diocesan Prelate be such an uncouth beast that neither in name nor nature is found in the word of God, all the power derived from him is null; but the first is true: therefore——3. Because every officer in the scripture relates to the flock (except the extraordinary officers, who were further extended, now ceased) bishops of Ephesus, were overseers over the flock, Acts 20, the elders that Peter writes to were over the flock. But this Diocesan antiscriptural monster pretends to be over the shepherds, and invents new degrees and orders of superiority and inferiority of officers of the same kind, beside and against the scripture, which makes all apostles alike, and all evangelists, so all teachers; tho’ there be a distinction and superiority in diverse kinds, yet not in the same. God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, 1 Cor. 12:28, but not among teachers, some above others, in a power of order and jurisdiction. Hence, an officer over officers of the same kind, is not an officer of Christ’s institution, and consequently any power conveyed from his is null; but a Prelate pretends to be an officer over officers of the same kind: therefore——4. Because every officer in the church hath equally, and in perfect parity, equal power and authority allowed them of God in the exercise of both the keys, both of order and jurisdiction; all ruling elders may rule alike, and deserve equal honour: and all preaching elders have the like authority, and the like honour conferred upon them, 1 Tim. 5:17. The scripture attributes both power of order and jurisdiction; to all preaching Presbyters equally. They must oversee the flock (or as the word is, do the part of a bishop over them) Acts 20:28. and they must also feed the flock, 1 Pet. 5:2. Subjection and obedience is due to them all alike: all that are over us and admonish us, we must esteem highly for their works sake, 1 Thess. 5:12. and obey and submit ourselves to them that watch for our souls, Heb. 13:17. We find also excommunication belongs to all alike, 2 Cor. 2:6. and ordination, 1 Tim. 4:14. But the Diocesan Prelate takes from Presbyters to himself power of ordination, assuming only his Curates for fashion’s sake, and the sole decisive power in church judicatories, wherein he hath a negative voice; like a Diotrephes, the first Prelate who loved to have the pre-eminence, 3 John 9. the only precedent for Prelacy in the scripture. Hence, he that would take all power to himself, which is undivided and equal to all officers by Christ’s appointment, hath none by Christ’s allowance, but is to be reckoned an usurping Diotrephes; but the Diocesan Prelate would take all the power to himself, which is undivided and equal to all. By all which it appears, the Prelate being no authorized church-officer of Christ’s, no authority can be derived from him; and so that such as betake themselves to this pretended power, for warranting them in the function, can warrantably claim no deference thereupon, nor can be owned as ministers, whatever they were before. ‘For this were an acknowledging of the power and authority of Prelates (especially when the law commands our hearing as a submitting to them.) The reason is, because these men came forth from the Prelate, having no other call or warrant but what the Prelate giveth: and so a receiving of them will be a receiving of the Prelate, as a refusing of them will be accounted a slighting of the Prelate and his power, Apol[ogetical] Relat[ion] 15. p. 272.
III. It is necessary also, that all with whom we own communion as ministers, should be Christ’s ambassadors, having then, when we hear them, and holding still, their commission from Christ as king, and only head of his church: conveyed not only from church officers, in a way that he hath revealed as the prophet of his church, but in a way of dependence upon, and subordination to Christ as king, who ascending far above principalities and powers, appointed and gave the gifts of the ministry, Eph. 4:8,11, and set them in the church. 1 Cor. 12:28, and gave them commission to go and teach the nations, by virtue of that all power that was given to him in heaven and earth, Matth. 28:18,19. If then they take a new holding and close with a new conveyance of the ministry, and of the power to exercise the same, from a new architectonic usurped power in the church, encroaching on Christ’s royal prerogative, we dare not homologate such an affront to Christ, as to give them the respect of his ambassadors, when they became the servants of men, and subject even in Ministerial functions to another Head than Christ; for then they are the ministers of men, and by men, and not by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead, because they do not hold the Head, Col. 2:19. Hence those that receive and derive their church power from, and are subordinate in its exercise to, another head than Christ Jesus, should not be received and subjected to as the ministers of Christ in his church; but the Prelates and their Curates do receive and derive their church power from, and are subordinate in its exercise to, another head than Christ; therefore they should not be received, etc. The first proposition cannot be denied, the second is proved thus: Those officers in the church, professing themselves such, that derive their church power from, and are subordinate in its exercise to, a power truly architectonic and supreme in the church (to wit the magistrate) beside Christ, do derive their power from, and are subordinate in its exercise to, another head than Christ Jesus; but so it is that Prelates and their Curates do derive, etc. Therefore——The Major is evident; for whosoever hath a supreme architectonic power in and over the church, must be a Head to the same, and the fountain of all church-power. The Minor is also clear, from the foregoing historical deduction, manifesting the present Prelacy to be gross Erastianism: for the disposal of the government of the church is declared by law to be the crown right, and an inherent perpetual prerogative, and thereupon the bishops are restored to the episcopal function; and it is expressly declared, that there is no church power in the church office bearers, but what depends upon, and is subordinate unto the supremacy, and authorized by the bishops, who are declared accountable to the king for the administration; by virtue of which ecclesiastic supremacy, he put excommunication and spiritual censures, and consequently the power of the keys, into the hands of persons merely civil, in the Act for the High Commission. Hence it is clear, that as the fountain of all church government, he imparts his authority to such as he pleases, and the bishops are nothing else but his commissioners in the exercise of that ecclesiastic power, which is originally in himself, and that the Curates are only his under clerks. All the stress will lie in proving, that this monster of a supremacy, from which the Prelates and their Curates have all their authority, is a great encroachment on the glory of Christ as king; which will appear, if we briefly consider these particulars. 1. It usurps upon Christ’s prerogative, who only hath all undoubted right to this architectonic and magisterial dominion over the church, his own mediatory kingdom; not only an essential right by his eternal Godhead, being the everlasting Father, whose goings forth hath been of old, from everlasting, Isa. 9:6. Mic. 5:2. in recognizance of which, we own but one God the Father, and one Lord, by whom are all things, and we by him, 1 Cor. 8:6 but also a covenant-right, by compact with the Father, to bear the glory and rule upon his throne, by virtue of the counsel of peace between them both, Zech. 6:13. A donative right by the Father’s delegation, by which he hath all power given in heaven and in earth, Matth. 28:18, and all things given into his hand, John 3:35. and all judgment and authority to execute it, even because he is the Son of Man, John 5:22,27 and to be Head over all things to the church, Eph. 1:22. An institute right, by the Father’s inauguration who hath set him as king in Zion, Psal. 2:6, and appointed him Governour that shall rule over his people Israel, Matth. 2:6. An acquisite right, by his own purchase, by which he hath merited and obtained, not only subjects to govern, but the glory of the sole sovereignty over them in that relation. A name above every name, Philip. 2:9, which is, that he is the Head of the church, which is as much his peculiar prerogative, as to be Saviour of the body, Eph. 5:23. A bellical right by conquest making the people fall under him, Psal. 14:4. and be willing in the day of his power, Psal. 110:3. and overcoming those that make war with him, Rev. 17:14. An hereditary right by proximity of blood and primogeniture being the first born, higher than the kings of the earth, Psal. 89:27. and the first born from the dead, that in all things he might have the preeminence, Col. 1:18. An elective right, by his people’s choice and surrender, having a crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, Cant. 3. last verse. By all which undoubted titles, it is his sole incommunicable prerogative, without a copartner or competitor, coordinate or subordinate, to be judge, and only lawgiver and king in spirituals, Isa. 33:22. to be that one lawgiver, Jam. 4:12. who only can give the power of the keys to his officers, (which comprehends all the power they have) Matth. 16:9. to be that one Master over all church officers, who are but brethren, Matth. 23:8,10, in whose Name only they must perform all Church acts, and all parts of their ministry, and not in the Name of any mortal, Matth. 28:18,19. Matth. 18:20, from whom only they receive whatever they have to deliver to the church, 1 Cor. 11:23. To be the only Instituter of His officers, who hath set them in the church, 1 Cor. 12:28, and gave them to the church, Eph. 4:11, whose Ambassadors only they are 2 Cor. 10:8. 2 Cor. 13:10, in whose Name only they are to assemble, and keep and fence their Courts, both the least, Matth. 18:20, and the greatest, Acts 15. But now all this is usurped by one who is not so much as a church member, let be a church officer, as such: for the magistrate is neither, as he is a magistrate, otherwise all magistrates would be church members. Hence they that have all their power from a mere usurper on Christ’s prerogative, who is neither member no officer of the church, have none at all to be owned or received at his lawful ambassadors; but the Prelates and their Curates have all their power from a mere usurper on Christ’s prerogative, who is neither member nor officer of the church: Ergo——2. It confounds the Mediatory kingdom of Christ with, and subjects it to the kingly government of the world, removes the scripture landmarks and limits between civil and ecclesiastic powers in making the governors of the state to be governors of the church, and denying all church government in the hands of church officers, distinct from and independent upon the civil magistrate: which clearly derogates from the glory of Christ’s Mediatory kingdom, which is altogether distinct from and not subordinate to the government of the world, both in the Old Testament and in the New. For, they have distinct fountains whence they flow; civil government flows from God Creator, church government from Christ the Lord Redeemer, Head and King of his church, whose kingdom is not of this world, John 18:36, though for this end he came into the world, that he should have a kingdom there, verse 37. They have distinct objects: civil government hath civil object, the outward man; church government a spiritual object, men considered as Christians; in the Old Testament, the matters of the Lord are clearly distinguished from the matters of the king, 2 Chron. 19 last verse. In the new testament, there are matters of church cognizance which do not at all belong to the civil magistrate; as, in the case of offense, they must tell the church not the civil magistrate, Matth. 18:15,20. In the case of excommunication, the church is to act by virtue of the power of the Lord Jesus Christ 1 Cor. 5:4,5, not by the magistrate’s power; in the case of absolution, the church is to judge what punishment is sufficient and what evidence of repentance is sufficient to remove it, 2 Cor. 2:6,7. So in the case of trial and ordination of ministers, etc. None of these belong to the magistrate. They have distinct natures: the civil is a magisterial, the ecclesiastic is a ministerial government; the one is the power of the sword, the other of the keys; the one put forth in political punishments, the other in ecclesiastic censures: In the Old Testament, the magistrates power was coactive, by death, banishment, confiscation, etc. Ezra 7:26, the church, by putting out of the synagogue, interdiction from sacred things, etc. In the New Testament, the magistrates power is described, Rom. 13. to be that of the sword by punishment; the power of the church only in binding and loosing, Matth. 16:19. They have distinct ends, the end of the one being the good of the commonwealth the other the church’s edification: In the Old Testament, the end of the civil government was one thing, and of the church another, to wit to warn not to trespass against the Lord, in that forecited, 2 Chron. 19:10. In the New Testament, the end of magistratical power is to be a terror to evil works, and a praise to the good, Rom. 13:3, but the end of church power is edification, 1 Cor. 5:5, 2 Cor. 10:8, 2 Cor. 13:10. They have distinct courts of officers: in the Old Testament, the distinction of the civil and ecclesiastic Sanhedrim is known, where there were distinct causes, and persons set over them to judge them respectively, 2 Chron. 19. last verse. In the New Testament, we find officers given unto the church, 1 Cor. 12:28. with no mention of the civil magistrate at all, and church assemblies distinct from parliaments or senates (yea, when the magistrate was an enemy, determining questions that did not belong to the magistrate at all, Acts 15, we have rulers distinct from the rulers of the commonwealth, 1 Thess. 5:12, whom we are to obey and submit ourselves to as those who are accountable to Christ only, for to whom else can they give account of souls? Heb. 13:17 we have rulers inferior to labourers in word and doctrine, not to be honoured so much as they: sure these cannot be civil rulers, 1 Tim. 5:1. we have rulers commended for trying impostors, which were not magistrates, Rev. 2:2. And others who are rebuked for suffering heretics ibid verse 14,15,20, which supposes they had authority to do it; yet distinct from and not depending on the magistrate. Besides from this confusion of the two governments together, and making the supreme magistrate to be supreme governor of the church, would follow many absurdities, as that they who are not church members should be church officers, even heathen magistrates; yea, women should be church officers; and none should be chosen for magistrates, but such as have the qualifications of Church officers. See Apol[ogetical] Relat[ion] Sect. 12. pag. 190. Rectius Instruen[dum] Confut. I Dial. Chap. 6 pag. 50. Hence, they that in deriving their authority do confound the two governments, civil and ecclesiastic, and take it all from a mere civil power, cannot be owned as having any authority of Christ’s institution; but the Prelates and their Curates, in deriving their authority, do confound the two governments civil and ecclesiastic, and take it all from mere civil power. This same argument equally militates against hearing the indulged ministers who have taken a license and warrant from the usurper of this supremacy: because it is highly injurious to Christ’s headship; very contrary to Presbyterian principles; clearly homologatory of the supremacy; plainly prejudicial to the power of the people: very much establishing Erastianism; sadly obstructive and destructive to the good of the church; wronging our cause and ground of suffering; strengthening the Prelates hands; contradictory to our covenants; prejudging the meetings of God’s people; and heinously scandalous, and offensive: as is clear by, and unanswerably proven in the History of the Indulgence [by John Brown, of Wamphray].
IV. There is a necessity that any man whom we may join with as a minister, must not only be a minister, and a minister clothed with Christ’s commission then when we join with him, but he must also have a right to administer there where we join with him. Else we can look upon him no otherwise than a thief and a robber, whom Christ’s sheep should not hear, John 10:1-5. Now the Prelates and Curates, though they should be accounted and acknowledged ministers, yet they have not a right to officiate where they have intruded themselves. Hence we have several arguments, as, 1. They who have no just authority, nor right to officiate fixedly in this church as the proper pastors of it, ought not to be received, but withdrawn from; but the Prelates and their Curates have no just authority, or right to officiate in this church as her proper pastors therefore they ought not to be received, but withdrawn from. All the debate is about the Minor, which may thus be made good. They who have entered into and do officiate fixedly in this church without her authority and consent, have no right so to do: but the Prelates and their Curates have entered into and officiate fixedly in this church, without her authority and consent: Ergo——The Major is manifest: for if this church have a just right and power of electing and calling of ministers, then they who enter into and officiate fixedly in this church, without her authority and consent, have no just authority or right so to do: but this church hath a just right and power of electing and calling of ministers; as all true churches have: and, if it were not evident from what is said above might be easily demonstrated from scripture. The Minor, to wit, that the Prelates and their Curates have entered into and officiate fixedly in the church without her authority and consent, is evident from matter of fact: for there was no church judicatory called or convocated, for bringing of Prelates into this church; but, on the contrary, her judicatories were all cashiered and discharged and all her officers turned out to let them in; and all was done immediately by the king, and acts of parliament without the church; a practice wanting a precedent in this, and (for any thing we know) in all other churches: all that the Curates can say is, That they came in by the bishop and patron, who are not the church, nor have any power from her for what they do; all their right and power is founded upon and derived from the supremacy, whereby the diocesan Erastian Prelate is made the king’s delegate and substitute, only empowered thereto by his law. this is Mr. Smith’s 1st and 6th Argum. ‘If we suppose a particular congregation acknowledging their own lawful pastor, and a few violent persons arise and bring in a minister by plain force, and cast out their lawful pastor; are not the faithful in that church obliged to relinquish the intruder, and not only discountenance him, but endeavour his ejection? This is our case, Naphtali pag. 106. Sect. 5. first edition.’ 2. If we cannot submit to these Curates, without consenting to the great encroachments made upon the privileges of this church, then we cannot submit to them without sin; but we cannot submit to them without consenting to the great encroachments made upon the privileges of this church: therefore we cannot submit to them without sin. The Minor is all the question: but instances will make it out. As first, The robbing of the privilege of election of her pastors, and substituting the bondage of patrons presentations, is a great encroachment upon the privilege of this church: but accepting of Curates as ministers lawfully called, notwithstanding that they want the election of the people, and have nothing for their warrant but a presentation from the patron, were a consenting to that robbery and wicked substitution. It will be of no force to say, Our forefathers did submit to this, and to a ministry who had no other call. This is answered above in the narrative; ‘tis a poor consequence to say, The posterity may return backward, because their forefathers could not advance further foreword. Secondly, The thrusting out of lawful ministers without any cause but their adhering to the covenanted work of reformation, and the thrusting in others in their rooms who denied the same, is a great encroachment on the churches privileges; but embracing and encouraging Curates by countenancing their pretended ministry were a consenting to this violent extrusion and intrusion. The Minor is proven thus. They who leave the extruded, and countenance the intruded, they consent to the extrusion and intrusion, and declare they confess the intruded his right is better than his who is extruded: but they who embrace and encourage Curates by countenancing their pretended ministry, do leave the extruded, to wit, their old ministers, and countenance the intruded: Ergo———–To say, that people, in this case, should protest against these encroachments is frivolous; for withdrawing is the best protestation: and if after their protestation they still countenance the encroachment, they should undo their own protestation. The same argument will militate against countenancing the indulged, or any that obtained authority to preach in any place by a power encroaching on the churches liberties. There is an objection to be removed here, from Matth. 23:2,3. The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses chair; therefore whatever they bid you observe, that observe and do; therefore they who, without a title, usurp the office, may be heard. Ans. 1. The case is no ways alike; for then the Lord had no other church in the world but that, which was confined in its solemnities of worship to that place, where they intruded themselves: he had not yet instituted the New Testament form of administration in its ordinances and officers. Therefore the Head of the church being present might give a toleration, during pleasure [as long as it pleased him well]: but it is not so now. But 2. Our Lord’s words bear no command for the people to hear them at all, but only not to reject sound doctrine, because it came from them: surely he would not bid them hear such, as he calls plants that his father had never planted, whom he bids let alone, Matth. 15:13,14, and who were thieves and robbers whom his sheep should not hear.
V. They must not only be ministers, and acknowledged as such then and there, when and where we join with them; but they must be such as we can own church communion with in the ordinances administrated y them, as to the matter of them. Otherwise, if they pervert and corrupt their ministry, by preaching and maintaining errors, either in doctrine, worship, discipline, or government, contrary to the scriptures, our confessions, and principles of our covenanted reformation, and contradictory to our testimony founded thereupon, and agreeable thereunto, maintaining errors condemned thereby, or condemning truths maintained thereby, we must withdraw from them. For if any seek to turn us away from the Lord our God, we must put away that evil, and not consent nor hearken to them, Deut. 13:5,8. We must cease to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge, Prov. 19:27. We must have a care of these leaders that will cause us to err lest we be destroyed with them. Isa. 9:16. We must mark these who contradict the doctrine that we have learned and avoid them, Rom. 16:17. If any man teach otherwise we must withdraw ourselves from such, 1 Tim. 6:3,5. If there come any, and bring not this doctrine, we must not receive him, nor bid him God speed, in that work of his preaching or practicing against any of the truths, we have received from the word, 2 John 10,11. Hence we must not hear false teachers, who in preaching and prayer, bring forth false doctrine contrary to the principles of our reformation; but the Curates are false teachers, who, in preaching and prayer, bring forth false doctrine, etc. Therefore we must not hear them. The Minor is certain, in that not only many of them are tainted with points of Popery and Arminianism; but all of them do teach false doctrine tending to seduce the hearers: when in their preaching they cry up the lawfulness of Prelacy, and vent bitter invectives against Presbyterian government, condemn the work of reformation, and inveigh against the Covenant, and so teach and encourage people to follow them in open perjury, and condemning all our testimony, as nothing but treason and sedition; which we are persuaded is truth, and that therefore they are blasphemers: and in their prayers, stuffed with error, and larded [greased] with blasphemy, they reproach the work of reformation, and the power of godliness, and pray for a blessing on the Prelates, and on their courses which are cursed; besides their parasitic prayers for the king, to be blessed in his government when, stated in opposition to Christ, and several other things that tender consciences cannot go along with them therein. And yet if they hear them, they must go along and actively concur with them, as their mouth to God. If it be objected here: that this doth not strike against all, nor against any at all times, because some preach always sound doctrine, and all preach sometime sound doctrine; and the like may be said of their prayers: therefore sometimes at least they may be heard. I answer 1. This may be alleged for all heretics, who do all at sometimes preach sound doctrine and yet these scriptures are stringent against them at all times, which I have adduced; for by these fruits which they bring forth at sometimes, they show themselves to be such as we must beware of at all times. 2. We cannot know when they will preach sound doctrine, seeing by their subjection to that government, they are obliged to maintain Prelacy, and impugn our covenanted constitution.
VI. They must not only be such as we can join with in the ordinances as to the matter of them, but in the manner also they must be such administrators, as we are obliged in charity to think the Lord will approve of them, and their administrations, and of us in our communion with them; or at least, that, in their manner of dispensing ordinances, they be not such as we find are under a recorded sentence of dreadful punishment, both against them and their partakers: for if it be so, it is as sufficient a ground to withdraw from them, as for men to withdraw from a company staying n a house, that they see will fall and smother them in its ruin; yea it is as warrantable to separate from them, as for Israel to separate themselves from the congregation of the rebels who were to be consumed in a moment, Numb. 16:21, or for the Lord’s people to come out of Babylon, that they receive not of her plagues, Rev. 18:4. Now we find that not only the prophets of Baal, and enticers to idolatry and leaders to error upon the matter are threatened, and the people for adhering to them, but we find also (as is observed by Rectius Instruendum confut. Dial. chap. 1. pag. 21.) many terrible charges and adjurations laid upon ministers, in reference to a faithful diligence in their ministerial function and a suitable testimony concerning the sin and duty of the time, that they are commanded to cry aloud and show the people their sin, Isa. 58:1, and as they would not have the blood of souls upon them, to give faithful warning touching the peoples case and hazard, sin and duty, especially in times of great sin and judgment, when God is terribly pleading his controversy with them, Ezek. 3:17, therefore they must be instant in season and out of season, 2 Tim. 4:2. And for their negligence and unfaithfulness herein, we find many Scripture woes and threatenings thundered against them. When in the deceit of their own heart they promise assured peace, when the Lord is pleading against a generation, they are threatened to be consumed with sword and famine, and the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets, Jer. 14:13,15,16, therefore we dare not admit them to prophesy to us. When they strengthen the hands, and harden the hearts of evil doers, that none doth return from his wickedness the Lord threatens to feed them with wormwood, and commands not to hearken to them, Jer. 23:14-16. Their blood shall be required at their hands, Ezek. 3:18. one builds a wall, and another daubs it with untempered mortar, then ye, O great hailstones, shall fall, and they shall be consumed in the midst thereof, Ezek. 13:10,11,14,18,22, we dare not join with either builders or daubers of such a work as is carried on to the dishonour of Christ and ruining of reformation, nor by our countenance and concurrence strengthen either builders or daubers; lest we also be consumed in the midst thereof. When there is a conspiracy of the prophets, and the priests violate the law, and profane holy things, and show no difference between the unclean and the clean, then the Lord will pour out his indignation upon all Ezek. 22:25,——to the end. We would endeavour to keep ourselves free for having any hand in that conspiracy. These scriptures do give the perfect portraiture of our Curates, in the conviction of all that know them. Hence we draw a complex argument: such ministers, as can do no good by their ministry, but a great deal of hurt to their hearers , and expose themselves and them both to the indignation of a jealous God, are not to be heard; but the Curates are such as can do no good by their ministry but a great deal of hurt to their hearers, and expose themselves and them both to the indignation of the jealous Lord: therefore they are not to be heard. The connection of the Major is clear from what is said above. The Minor is also evident from the application of these scriptures, thus: they that in the deceit of their own heart promise peace to, and strengthen the hands of evil doers, and give them not warning, but seduce them by daubing their wickedness, and show no difference between the unclean and the clean, etc. are such as can do no good by their ministry, but a great deal of hurt to hearers, and expose themselves and them both to the indignation of God; but the Curates are such, and all others who are so unfaithful as to give no warning against, but justify the sins of the times. To be short, the Minor of both these foregoing arguments, is evident from the experience of all that go to the Curates, who wrong thereby their own souls, mar their edification; and run to cisterns without water. What blessing can be expected upon the labours of such, who having perjured themselves in taking on with the Prelates, are prosecuting that course of defection, and making themselves captains to lead the people back to Egypt, encouraging profanity and wickedness, being themselves patterns and patrons of the times corruptions? And seeing a blessing cannot be expected upon their labours, but rather a curse, as daily experience maketh good, when instead of any work of conversion or conviction among people, there is nothing seen but a fearful hardening in profanity, ignorance and atheism: so that many that seemed to have somewhat like religion before, through hearing of them, are turned loose and lax in all duties: yea never can it be instanced these twenty seven years, that they have brought one soul to Christ, from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God: but many instances might be given of their murdering souls, as indeed they cannot be free of it, who cannot warn nor declare the whole counsel of God. Hence these who cannot but be soul-murderers. Again, we can expect no good from them, but a great deal of hurt; seeing their ministry is not the Lord’s ordinance, which he will approve, and no performances can be acceptable unto the Lord which are not, in manner as well as in matter, agreeable to his will: hence the wickedness even of the Lord’s lawful priests, not only caused the people to abhor the offerings of the Lord, but even the Lord himself to abhor his sanctuary, and to account their incense an abomination, so that he could not away with the calling of their assemblies, which yet upon the matter were duties. Should not we then hate that which the Lord hates, and withdraw from that which he hath forsaken? But the meetings of the Curates for administration of ordinances in their way, the Lord hates, and hath signally forsaken: therefore we should hate and forsake them. This is confirmed by what Mr. Durham says in that digression about hearing, Rev. 1. pag. 55 in Quarto, ‘Seeing edification is God’s gift, can it be expected but in his way, or can that be accounted his way which he hath not warranted.’
VII. As we would not partake of their judgment in countenancing of their administration of ordinances, so we would keep ourselves free from all participation of their sin. For we must not be partakers with any in sin, nor have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, that we must reprove, and that we find the Lord reproves and condemns, Eph. 5:7,11. And not only ministers in ordaining, but people in hearing, may be in hazard of partaking of some men’s sins, who enter into the ministry, 1 Tim. 5:22 we must keep at the greatest distance from sin: hence if we cannot hear the Curates without partaking of their sin, then we must not hear them; but we cannot hear the Curates without partaking of their sin: therefore we must not hear them. The Minor I prove: If hearing of them be a tessera of our incorporation with them, a test of our submission to them, a badge of our compliance with them and sign of our approbation of them, then we cannot hear them without partaking of their sin; but hearing of them is such: the Major cannot be denied, if Prelacy and conformity therewith be sin, as is in part proven above: for if these be sins, then we must not incorporate with, nor submit to them, nor comply with them, nor approve them. The Minor I prove by parts. 1. Hearing of Curates is a tessera of our incorporation with them; for communication in sacred things doth infer an incorporation of the communicants or joiners in all cases, both in lawful and unlawful communions 1 Cor. 10:17-20. All partakers of the bread are one body, and they which eat of the sacrifices are partakers of the altar; and also they that partake of the sacrifice offered to devils, though they do not offer it themselves, yet they are incorporate, and have fellowship with devils. And 2 Cor. 6:14-17, where they that do not come out, and are separate from unlawful communions, are expostulated with, as making an unequally yoked fellowship between righteousness and unrighteousness: light and darkness, Christ and Belial, the temple of God and idols: hence then, if we cannot partake of their sacred things, without partaking of their altar, and becoming one body with them, and making such an unequally yoked mixture with them, then we must be separate; but the first is true from these places. This argument concludes with equal force, against joining with any deeply engaged in the gross defections of the time. 2. Hearing of Curates is a test of our submission to them, and compliance with them: for so it is required by law, as the acts themselves say, ‘That a cheerful concurrence, countenance, and assistance given to such ministers, and attending all the ordinary meetings for divine worship, is an evidence of a due acknowledgment of, and heart compliance with his majesty’s government ecclesiastical and civil, is now established by law within this kingdom, Act of Parl[iament] July 10, 1663.’ And themselves look on all such as obey this act as their friends. Hence, if this be sinful to submit to them, and comply with their establishment, in obedience to a sinful act of parliament, then it is sinful to hear them; but the former is true, as hath been shown: Therefore——3. Hence it follows, by native consequence, that hearing of Curates is a sign of our approbation of them: for he that gives that which is required, and accepted, and interpreted as an evidence of a due acknowledgment, and of compliance with the government ecclesiastical, gives the sign of his approbation of it; but the hearer of Curates does that in obedience to the act requiring, accepting, and expressly interpreting it so: therefore, etc.
VIII. As we would be free of their sin, in approving of, and complying with their course; so we must endeavour to stand at the greatest distance from all appearance of sin in ourselves, either by commission or omission, in which our joining with them in these circumstances would involve us. For we must abstain from all appearance of evil, 1 Thess. 5:22. and from every thing that circumstances may make sinful: for otherwise, suppose a thing might be materially lawful and not sinfully sinful, yet circumstances may make it sinful, and a countenancing it so circumstantiated, doth infer a communion in these circumstances that makes it sinful. They that eat of the sacrifice are partakers of the altar, and if the altar be not of God’s approbation, the thing offered, though otherwise lawful to be eaten, cannot justify the eaters, so circumstantiated. An idol is nothing, and that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is nothing, yet they who eat of it, when they know it is so circumstantiated, have fellowship with devils, 1 Cor. 10:18,19,20,21. And it is called idolatry comp. verse 14 which provokes the Lord to jealousy, verse 22. Especially when an action is so circumstantiated, that it would infer an omission of our duty, and a declining from or denying of our testimony, then it is clearly sinful. For whosoever shall deny the Lord before men, him will he deny before his Father, Matth. 10:33. And we must hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, Heb. 10:23. and keep the word of his patience, if we would our crown, Rev. 3:10,11. ‘All truth must be avowed, and practically avowed, on the greatest hazard: and as this testimony must be full, so must it be also constant. It was Demas’s shame, that the afflictions of the gospel made him forsake the apostle, after great appearances for Christ: and therefore whatever truth or duty is opposed, that becomes the special object of this testimony.’ Rectius instruend[um] confut. 3. Dial. Chap. 1. Pag. 18,19. Hence, if hearing of the Curates would infer and involve us under the guilt both of commission of sin, and omission of duty, then we cannot hear them without sin; but the former is true: therefore also the latter. I prove the Minor by parts. First, That it would infer and involve us under the guilt of commission of sin, all that is said above doth evince it; and besides, palpable breach of covenant, hereafter to be charged and cleared: And, idolatry is a great sin of that nature; but the hearing of the Curates doth infer this. Which may be made out thus; the breach of the second commandment is idolatry, (for to make the sins against that command odious, they are all comprehended under that odious name of worshipping images, as the sins against the seventh are called adultery, comprehending all unchaste thoughts, words, and actions); hearing of Curates is a breach of the second command: Ergo——–The Minor I prove thus: Every worship, not according to Christ’s appointment, is a breach of the second commandment; but hearing of Curates is a worship not according to Christ’s appointment. Which I prove thus: a worship enjoined by, and performed in obedience to a law, establishing a human ordinance in the church, besides and against the institution of Christ, is a worship not according to Christ’s appointment; but the hearing of Curates is a worship enjoined by, and performed in obedience to a law establishing a human ordinance, to wit Diocesan Erastian Prelacy, with the Curates their substitutes. Hence also the second doth follow by necessary consequence, that it would infer and involve us under the guilt of omission of duty. For, first, If reductively it may involve us under the guilt of idolatry and breach of the second commandment, then it will infer the guilt of omission of these necessary duties incumbent to the Lord’s people with a reference to idolatry; to make no covenant with them nor with their gods, nor let them dwell in the land, lest they make us sin, Exod. 23:32,33. Exod. 34:14,15, to overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and destroy the names of them out of the place, Deut. 12:3. Judg. 2:2. I do not adduce these precepts, to stretch them to the full measure of the demerit of the grossest of idolaters: for as there are degrees of breaches of the commandment, some grosser, some smaller, so there are also degrees of punishment, and as to the manner of destroying and extirpating all pieces of idolatry; but that the commands being founded upon a moral ground, lest they be sins and snares unto us, do oblige us to some endeavour of expelling, extirpating and overthrowing all pieces of idolatry, according to the word and our covenants; ‘and that the true and right zeal of God should and would not only inspire all with an unanimous aversion against the profane intruding Curates, but animate us as one man to drive away these wolves and thieves, and to eradicate these plants which our heavenly Father never planted, Naphtali Prior edit. pag. 108.’ The least duty that can be inferred is that of the apostles, flee from idolatry, 1 Cor. 10:14. which idolatry, there mentioned to be avoided, is to eat of the sacrifices offered to idols: whence we infer, that if to eat of things consecrated to idols be idolatry, then also to partake of sacred things consecrated by idols must be idolatry; as the Curates dispensing of ordinances is consecrated by, and hath all its sanction from an idol of Diocesan Erastian Prelacy; but we see the apostle expresses the former: therefore we may infer the latter. Further, It will also infer a declining from, and denying a necessary testimony, in the case circumstantiated. Even the smallest matter is great, when a testimony is concerned in it, were it but the circumstance of an open window; Daniel durst not omit it upon the greatest hazard. And now this is clearly come to a case of confession, when there is no other way to exoner our consciences before God and the world, and declare our non-conformity to this course of backsliding, no getting of wrongs redressed or corruptions in the ministry removed, but by this practice; and certainly some way we must give public testimony against these courses, and there is no other way so harmless and innocent as this, though suffering follow upon it, Apol[ogetical] Relat[ion] Sect. 14. 272,273.’ And now there is no other way apparent, whereby the difference shall be kept up betwixt such as honestly mind the covenanted work of reformation, and the corrupt Prelatical and malignant enemies; but this argument also will infer the expediency of withdrawing from all ministers with whom our circumstantiate joining would involve us in a participation with their defections.
IX. As we would endeavour to avoid sin in ourselves; so we must have a care to give no occasion of others sinning, by our taking liberty in a promiscuous joining in church communion, whereby we may offend and stumble the conscience of others: for to that, in this as well as in other things, we must have a special respect, and forbear things, not only for our own unclearness, but for the sake of others also. If therefore the hearing of Curates be a scandal, we must refuse it, be the hazard what will: for whoso shall offend one of Christ’s little ones, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, Matth. 18:6. No man must put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brothers way, Rom. 14:13. They that sin so against the brethren and wound their weak conscience they sin against Christ, 1 Cor. 8:12. we must forbear some things for conscience sake, Conscience, I say not our own, but of others, giving none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God, 1 Cor. 10:28,29,32, and so cut off all occasion from them that desire occasion, 2 Cor. 11:12. ‘These commands discharge whatever practice gives occasion of our brother’s sinning, of calling truth in question, of acting with a doubting conscience, or which weakens his plerophory [peace of conscience] or assurance; and neither the awfulness nor indifferency of the thing itself, nor men’s authority commanding it, nor the weakness, yea, or wickedness of those in hard to be stumbled, will warrant the doing of that out of which offense arises, Rectius Instruend[um] Confut. 3. Dial. chap. 1. pag. 19.’ Mr. Durham in that forecited place saith, ‘It carries offense along with it; in reference to the party who runs unsent, it proves a strengthening and confirming of him, and so a partaking of his sin; in reference to others, either strengthens them by that example, to cast themselves in that snare, which possibly may be their ruin; or it grieves them, and makes them sad, who are tender of such things, or gives occasion to make all difference of that kind to be thought light of.’ Hence, if hearing of the Curates be an offense or scandal, both in reference to malignants, and in reference to the godly, and in reference to the posterity, then it must be avoided; but the former is true: which is evidenced by parts. First, in reference to malignants, it hardens and encourages them in their opposition to the work of God, and all backsliders and compliers with them in their apostasy; this strengthens their hands in their wicked courses, when they see how they are countenanced by all, and that there is no disrespect put upon them, nor dissatisfaction evinced against their courses, then they conclude that they are approven of all: and this hardeneth them, so that they never once think of the evil of their ways. Next, in reference to the godly, it stumbles the truly tender, by encouraging them to do contrary to their light and conscience even when they are not clear to hear them, then they are emboldened thereunto when the see others doing so; and so it tends to the wounding of their peace, and makes them halt in the ways of the Lord. Lastly, with reference to posterity, it would prejudge them very much: though now the honest party be not in a capacity to transmit the work of reformation unto their posterity, in such a manner as were to be wished: yet they should do something for keeping fresh the memory of the good old cause, by keeping up some footsteps of a standing controversy for Zion’s interest against the common enemy: but now let all join with, and own the Curates, what appearance of this shall the posterity see? shall not they conclude that the day is lost, and the cause is gone, when they see that this generation hath fled the fields, or rather sold and betrayed the cause, by owning, countenancing, and complying with the enemy, and no standing testimony against these corruptions? whereas if there were but this much of a standing difference, betwixt the people of God and the common enemies of God, to be seen, posterity shall in some measure be kept from being deceived, and shall see the interest of Christ not killed nor buried quick, but living, though in a bleeding condition, and this will occasion their engaging for Christ, and interesting themselves in the quarrel; and it is far better to see the cause of Christ owned, though by suffering and blood, then sold and betrayed by base flenching [flaying] and complying with persecutors. This argument may also sound and infer a withdrawing from the addressing ministers, who, to the great scandal of Presbyterians, give forth their addresses in the name of all of that persuasion.
X. Our duty to themselves, yea our greatest office of love we owe to them, in order to their conviction, does oblige us to withdraw from them. This may seem a paradox, yet it will be apparent, if we search the scriptures, to see what we owe to scandalous brethren. There we find it is a duty, to endeavour by all lawful means to shame them out of their sin; and it is an argument of hatred, when we do not rebuke our neighbour, or when we suffer sin upon him, Lev. 19:17. If we consider them then as neighbours and friends, we must use endeavours to take away their sin from them; if we consider them not as such, but as enemies, then we must avoid them, and not be mingled with them, as I could adduce many Scriptures for that. But I suppose all that will oppose my thesis, would have them considered as friends. Well then, if they be scandalous brethren, this is the way prescribed by the apostle to deal with them, in order not to suffer sin upon them, that we should withdraw from them our company; and if we must withdraw our company, then also a fortiori, we must deny them our religious communion: for that must either be included there, or necessarily inferred. He writes, not to keep company: If any man that is called a brother (mark that specially) be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or an extortioner, with such an one no not to eat, 1 Cor. 5:11. And I presume they that know them best, will grant, that it would not be hard to prove, that all the Curates in Scotland were chargeable with some of these, or at least partakers with them; and that if they were all impartially impaneled, they would be rare ones, whom an honest jury would not bring in guilty of this libel. They we are expressly commanded, ‘in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw ourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the received tradition. And if any man obey not the word, to note him, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed, 2 Thess. 3:6,14.’ Sure neither their office nor their innocency can exempt them from these rules. For either they must be considered as our brethren; or not; if not, then we own no church communion with them; for that is only among brethren that are so in sympathy and affection, and affinity, having one father and one mother, if they be brethren, then all scandalous brethren are to be withdrawn from; but they are scandalous brethren: therefore they are to be withdrawn from. The Minor will not be doubted by any, but such as are strangers to them, who both in their ministerial and personal capacity are so scandalous to the conviction of all, that profaneness hath gone forth from them into all the land, and they, as much as ever the profane sons of Eli, have made men to abhor the offering of the Lord, 1 Sam. 2:17. But even strangers, that are unacquainted with their personal profligateness and ignorance, etc. cannot be altogether ignorant of the scandal of Prelacy and Erastianism, in which they are involved, of the scandal of apostasy, perjury, and reach of covenant, which is their brand, and the nation’s bane, that hath countenanced them. And none can doubt, but if our church were duly constitute, and invested with the orderly power of Christ, and in capacity to exerce [exercise] and improve it, they would soon be censured every soul of them as scandalous, as they have been also previously sentenced as such, by the acts of our general assemblies. This argument levels also against all complying, indulged, addressing ministers, who by these courses have incurred the character of disorderly brethren.
XI. Our faithfulness to God, and to one another, engaged in our covenants, doth oblige us to turn away from them who have broken it, and so classed themselves among these truce breaking traitors, who make our times perilous, from whom we must turn away, 2 Tim. 3:1-5. It appears from the foregoing deduction, how solemnly these nations were engaged, both to keep out and put out this generation of Prelatists, now prevailing; the obligation of which yet lies upon all the inhabitants of the land, with a binding force, both in regard of their form, and object and end. Hence, if the Curates be covenant breakers, and we also in owning them, then we cannot own them without sin; but the Curates are covenant-breakers, and we also in owning them: Ergo——The Minor may be manifest by an induction of all the articles of the Solemn League and Covenant, broken by them, and all that own them. 1. That doctrine, worship, discipline and government in the 1st article, sworn to be preserved and propagated, was the Presbyterian then established, which our church was in possession of, which they have opposed, and their owners refiled [drew back] from, and have not maintained. 2. We are engaged in the 2d article, to endeavour the extirpation of Prelacy, and its dependents; which is diametrically opposite to owning of Curates: can we own them whom we are bound to abhor? and submit to them whom we are bound to extirpate? Surely this were to rebuild what we have destroyed, see Napht[ali] p. 104 and since in relation to popery, heresy and schism, this article obliges us to disown, and not to hear papists and schismatics, why not also in relation to Prelatists, who are greatest schismatics? 3. They have established and homologated an Erastian supremacy, to the prejudice of true religion, and the liberties of the church and kingdom; and their owners have abetted and countenanced the same, and not preserved either the liberties of church or kingdom, contrary to the 3d article. 4. they have not only concealed and countenanced malignant enemies to this church and kingdom, but have themselves been real incendiaries, hindering the reformation of religion, making factions and parties among the contrary to this League and Covenant: and their hearers are so far from bringing them to condign punishment, that they have strengthened their hands in their avowed opposition to the covenants, contrary to the 4th article. 5. They have broken our conjunction in firm peace and union, and yet their hearers have not marked and avoided these causers of division, contrary to scripture, and the 5th article. 6. Instead of assisting and defending all these that entered into this league and covenant, etc. they have been the greatest persecutors of all them that adhered to it; and their owners have suffered themselves, by combination or persuasion or terror, to be divided and withdrawn from their suffering brethren, and have made defection to the contrary part, and given themselves to a detestable indifferency in this cause, contrary to the 6th article. 7. Instead of humbling themselves for their sins, and going before others in the example of a real reformation, they have obstinately defended their breach of covenant, and have been patrons and patterns of all deformations; and their owners and hearers have not repented of that neither, when they countenance such covenant-breakers and profane persons, nor of their not labouring for the purity and power of the gospel when they seek it from such impure hands: neither do they go before others in reformation, when they are such bad examples of defection, contrary to the conclusion of the covenant. This argument will also strike against hearing of such ministers, that have made themselves guilty of the same or equivalent breaches of covenant.
XII. Finally, for union’s sake, and to avoid schism in the body, we must withdraw from them. This may seem another paradox; but it is apparent if we consider, ‘That there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care one for another, 1 Cor. 12:25.’ And that for to prevent and remeid [amend] this, the apostle ‘beseeches us to mark them which cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which we have learned, and avoid them, Rom. 16:17.’ Now then, if the Prelates and their Curates be schismatics and separatists, and dividers, then we must avoid and withdraw from them, but so it is, that the Prelates and their Curates are schismatics and separatists, and dividers: therefore we must avoid and withdraw from them. The Minor I prove from all the constituents of a formed schism, separation and sinful division. 1. They that start out from under due relations to a church, and from her ministry, are schismatics, separatists and dividers; but the Prelates and their Curates have started out from under due relations to the covenanted church of Scotland, and from her ministry, in being so unnatural rebellious children, as have broken their mother’s beauty and bands, order and union, and razed her covenanted reformation in doctrine, worship, discipline and government. 2. These who withdraw from the communion of a true church, and therefore are censurable by all her standing acts, are schismatical separatists; but the Prelates and their Curates have withdrawn from the communion of the true church of Scotland, and therefore are censurable by all her standing acts, in that they have made a faction and combination repugnant to the communion of this church, and all her established order. 3. Those who separate from a church, whose principles and practices are subservient to that church’s true union and communion, and right establishment are properly schismatics; but the Prelates and their Curates have separated from this church, whose principles and practices are subservient to true union and order, but their principles and practices are stated in opposition to her purity and reformation. 4. Those who innovate the worship and government, owned and established in a true church, are schismatics; but the Prelates and their Curates have innovated the worship and government of the true church of Scotland, in bringing a doctrine new and odd, and not the voice of this church; and their worship, over and above the corruption adhering to it is the worshipping of an innovating party, contrary to our church’s established order. 5. They that make a rent in the bowels of the true and genuine church, are the schismatics; but the Prelates and their Curates have made a rent in the bowels of this church, and have caused all the divisions in this church. 6. Those that divide themselves from the fellowship of a pure church, either in her ministry, lawful courts and ordinances, are the schismatics; but the Prelates and their Curates have divided themselves from the fellowship of this pure church, in her ministry, lawful courts and ordinances, in that they have caused the ejection of her ministry, dissipation of her assemblies, and subversion of her pure ordinances. 7. Those that break union with such, to whom they were under obligations to adhere, are schismatical dividers; but the Prelates and their Curates have broken union with such to whom they were under obligations to adhere, both from the antecedent morally obliging duty, and from the superadded obligation of the covenants, neither could they ever pretend any thing that might loose the obligation. 8. That party in a Reformed church, which having overturned her reformation, hath shut out, laid aside, and persecute away found adherers thereunto, both ministers and professors, and will not admit ministers to officiate, but upon the sinful terms of compliance with their way, are schismatics; but Prelates and their Curates are that party in this Reformed church, which having overturned her reformation, hath shut out, laid aside, and persecute away sound adherers thereunto, etc. therefore they are the schismatics to be withdrawn from, and their way is the schism, which we are bound to extirpate in the covenant.
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