Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER II.: of public communion. - The Works of John Robinson, vol. 3
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CHAPTER II.: of public communion. - John Robinson, The Works of John Robinson, vol. 3 
The Works of John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, with a Memoir and Annotations by Robert Ashton, 3 vols (London: John Snow, 1851). Vol. 3.
Part of: The Works of John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, with a Memoir and Annotations by Robert Ashton, 3 vols.
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of public communion.
As we are, then, to join ourselves with them, wherein God hath joined us; so are we, wherein he severeth us, to sequester and sever ourselves. And this I verily believe he doth, in their and our church communion, service, order of government, ministry, and ministrations. If the parish assemblies, gathered by compulsion, of all the parishioners promiscuously; the provincial, diocesan, and lordly government; the ministry thence derived, with the service-book, and administrations accordingly, be of God; then is our fellowship, only of persons sanctified, at least outwardly, joining themselves by voluntary profession under the government and ministry of an eldership; conceiving prayers and thanksgivings, according to the churches' present occasions, by the teachings of the Spirit, and so administering the sacraments according to the simplicity of the gospel, not of God, nor from heaven. If on the contrary, ours be of God, and of his Christ; then is theirs of antichrist, God's and Christ's adversary. Either the one or other are plantings which God hath not planted, and shall be rooted up. We will briefly consider of the particulars.
And first, the word, “kahal,” in Hebrew; in Greek, “ecclesia;” in English, “church;” signifieth, a company of people called out; and that in respect both of the voice or will of the caller, and obedience of the called: and so, restrained to religious use, signifieth a company of people called, and come out of the state of nature, into the state of grace; out of the world, into the kingdom of Christ. Who are therefore entitled, “saints” by calling, and “sanctified,” or separated, “in Christ Jesus:” the temple, “house,” and “household of God,” and “kingdom of heaven,” and “of God.” 1 Cor. i. 2; Eph. ii. 19–21; 1 Tim. iii. 15; Matt. xiii. 24; xxi. 43; Acts i. 3. And since the church is neither a natural, nor a civil, but a spiritual state, it must not be gathered, nor consist, of natural, or civil, or other than spiritual persons. And this will yet better appear, if we consider it, as the Scriptures direct us, as the body of Christ, under him the head; unto which therefore it must be conformable in every part, by the indwelling of his Spirit, effectually working in the measure thereof. Eph. i. 22, 23; iv. 15,16; Col. i. 24.
2ndly, Unto the true church, appertain the covenant and promises, the ministry, sacraments, and services of God, with all the holy things of God and of Christ, Rom. ix. 4; 1 Cor. iii. 21, 22: which must, therefore, be gathered, and consist of such persons, as unto which, these things belong in communion, and by common right. And both the Scriptures, and common reason teach, that whomsoever the Lord doth call, and use to and in any special work, and employment, he doth, in a special manner, separate and sanctify them thereunto. And so the church, being to be employed in the special service of God, to the glory of his special love, and mercy in their happiness, and to show forth his virtues, must be of such persons, as by, and in whom, he will, and may thus be worshipped, and glorified: and as are by him, both in their persons, and fellowship, separated and sanctified thereunto.
But here, the authors of a certain treatise published against M. de Lescluse,* charge him with much falsehood, for affirming all true churches from the beginning of the world, to have been established by this separation, which we, whom they call Brownists, as the Church of England calls them Puritans, do desire. And for this they desire it may be showed, how the church of God before the flood was gathered by such a separation, to wit, of the godly, from the profane; for this is the separation we desire. And know they not, that God, in establishing the first church of the gospel, “put enmity,” which is more than separation, “between the seed of the woman, Christ and the faithful in him: and the seed of the serpent, Satan, and the wicked with him their father,” Gen. iii. 15; iv. 12, 16; John viii. 44; which separation also stood so firm, as the sons of God might not so much as take them wives of the daughters of men. Gen. vi. 2–5. Or if these men will have marriage, as by their practice they make it, a church action, then they see an express separation for church communion before the flood.
And where they further allege that the Dutch and French churches which we acknowledge for true churches, were not established by such a separation, as we make, they accuse them unjustly, to excuse themselves.
They were, at the first, established of a sanctified people, by voluntary profession separating themselves into particular churches from the profane multitudes in the places and parishes where they lived, and that with great persecution: and so do still continue a separated people, though, through continuance of time and peace, they, as all other churches use to do, have lost of their first purity and zeal. Were or are any compelled into them by penal laws? Or do they consist of all the parish inhabitants, as the English parishional churches were, and do? Doth not M. de Lescluse and we all and these men themselves know, that scarce one of ten in the parish, is of the church in the whole country throughout? How do they then reproach the churches of God, (contrary to their own, and all men's knowledge,)as not being a separated people from the profane multitude? The thing is, they would by casting dirt and mire in other men's faces, make their own seem the fairer.
That the Dutch and French churches condemn our separation, or schism, is neither to the purpose nor true; neither can they name one church that ever passed any such censure upon us; neither hath any one learned and godly man amongst them (to my knowledge) ever gone about to refute our practice or confession, though published both in Dutch and Latin unto them; which, notwithstanding, they have done in their public writings generally, against such heretics and schismatics as have been amongst them. It is more both pertinent and true, that the Church of England, for which these men plead, condemns them, her proctors, as schismatics, and excommunicates for their wicked errors.
If Mr. Johnson confess, as they tell us, the Church of England a true church, he must be able to prove it established by separation, and a separated body in the constitution. He, with the rest, has formerly defined “a true visible church, a company of people called, and separated from the world by the Word of God,” &c., and proved the same by many scriptures.*
And to conceive of a church, which is the body of Christ and household of God, not separated from the profane world, which lieth in wickedness, is to confound heaven and earth, and to agree Christ with Belial, 1 John v. 19; and in truth, the most profane and dangerous error which, this day, prevails amongst them that fear God; and by which Christianity is more exposed to the contempt of Turks and Jews, than by any other evil.
But here a defence, by many made and much set by, must be considered of; which is, That the wicked and profane in the parishes, though frequenting the same place with the rest, are not of the church; but only they who fear God, and make conscience of their ways.
If they said no other should be of the church, though coming into the same place, it were true; but to argue from that which should be, to that which is, when that is not which should be, is unsound and presumptuous; as is that indeed of all other defences, most frivolous. Thus might the Corinthians have answered Paul, that the incestuous man was not of the church, though he frequented the same place with them. 1 Cor. v. 1–6. And if this defence were good, the greatest part of the ministers of the church should not be of the church; for the greatest part, from the prelate to the paritour,* are (God knoweth) irreligious and unconscionable persons. For conclusion, then, we all know that the ministers, parsons, vicars, or curates, are appointed, and so called, the parish priests, and are accordingly to minister; offering up the parish prayers and sacrifices, and of the parishes to receive tithes and offerings, as their duties; to marry, church after child-birth, baptize, and bury, all that are married, delivered of child, born, and do die in their parishes; and so to give the Lord's Supper to every one of them at sixteen years old. If it be said the minister may suspend, and so procure, if they reform not, the excommunication of all unworthy persons; admit it; and even this proves the whole parish, yea, the most wicked with the rest, to be the church. For, otherwise, what needed they to be suspended? or, how could they be excommunicated, since the church is not to judge them which are without, but them which are within?
Let all them, then, that fear God, know and consider, that when they come to worship in the parish assemblies, they join themselves where God hath not joined them, and acknowledge that society for the true church of God and communion of saints, which he hath not sanctified for that purpose; that they offer their solemn sacrifices out of the true temple, made of lively stones, 1 Pet. ii. 5; Deut. xii. 5–7, where alone they should present them; that in eating of one bread, they make themselves one body with them, 1 Cor. x. 17, and them members of Christ, who are, for the present, apparent limbs of Satan; and that, in saying “Our Father” with them, they acknowledge them for the children of God, who, in the persuasion of their own consciences, are of their father, the devil, and do his lusts. John viii. 44.
And, which is most of all to be observed, and wherein those parish assemblies do differ from all true churches in the world, this mischief is not casual, and falling in by occasion, but of the very first frame and constitution; into which false brethren and wicked men have not crept privily, as into the churches of God of old, and of late also, but have been, and are, by bodily punishments, publicly and openly into them constrained, and in them continued. Gal. ii. 4; Jude 4. Neither, in this confusion, did the wicked intrude and thrust themselves into the fellowship of holy assemblies, as in true churches is too commonly to be seen; but, on the contrary, the godly, few as they were and yet are in comparison, did unite and mingle themselves (after their dispersion in popery) in and into the profane parishes, where their outward estates and occasions lay. And, secondly, Whereas the true churches of Christ enjoy his presence and power, for the purging out of persons appearing ungodly and incorrigible, Matt. xviii. 17; 1 Cor. v. 4, 5; Heb. xii. 15; Gal. v. 12; 2 Thess. iii. 14; these parishional assemblies want not only all such power, in them or their ministers, which the prelates and their substitutes have seized into their hands, and for the stablishing of whose state, and advantage of whose honour and profit it is to have them no better, but even all possibility of reformation, except they cease to be gathered by their parish perambulation, as they are, instead of holy, voluntary, and personal profession of faith, and confession of sins, as they should be.
Now touching their solemn, and set book-service, thus much. Since the Lord hath nowhere commanded, or required in his Word, which is the only rule for his worship, any human, and apocryphal writings to be used in his church to worship him by, much less to be read, by stint, for prayer, it is unlawful for any of God's servants to submit unto any such voluntary religion, through humbleness of mind, or for any other cause, Col. ii. 23: or to partake in the holy things of God by it administered: lest they worship in vain, and God reprove them, saying, “Who hath required these things at your hands?” Matt. xv. 9.
But they tell us, that Christ hath taught his disciples when they prayed, to say, “Our Father,” &c. True, but I deny it to be Christ's meaning to bind them to these very words: as the ministers are bound to say their “Certain.” For neither do the two evangelists use the very same words: neither, if that were Christ's meaning, were it lawful to use any other form of words.
For he saith, “When you pray,” that is, whensoever you pray, “say,” &c., Luke xi. 2: and he who prays not, as Christ there teacheth, offers strange fire before the Lord. He, then, there teacheth to pray without hypocrisy and vain babbling, and with faith, and perseverance: though I doubt not, but these words also, being applied to present occasions, and without opinion of necessity, may be used. But admit Christ's meaning were to tie his disciples to a form of words: will the bishops, therefore, presume to impose upon men, another form of words, and so another form, and manner of worship? which, if Christ tied his disciples to worship him by a certain form of words, they appointing another form of words for his worship, they undeniably do. Will they thus walk cheek by jowl with Christ in his house, and set up “their thresholds by God's,” Ezek. xliii. 8, and appoint a new manner of worshipping God, and so a new will of God, as indeed they do?
M.de Lescluse's forenamed adversaries demand, touching a prayer of his in the end of his book, whether any of his flock in reading of that his prayer, may lift up their heart, and say Amen to his petition. If not, then, say they, It is a sorry prayer, &c.: if they may, then according to our doctrine, he sets up a golden calf, or erects an idol, by setting down this form of prayer: and they, which in the reading of it, lift up their hearts in prayer to desire the same thing, commit idolatry.*
Nothing is absolutely, or in itself, an idol: but in relation to, and respect of the end, to which it is appointed and used. And we do, therefore, repute the service-book an idol, because it is, and is appointed to be read by the minister, for his, and the church's prayers. But what proportionable to this hath M. de Lescluse's prayer? Is it appointed by him to this end, or by the church with him so used? It is published by him for the manifestation unto others of his desire, that they by reading the same privately, might be admonished of, and provoked unto their duty. It is his prayer, but their instruction, and provocation: and so by them to be read, and used. And for the inward lifting up of the heart, is nothing to the question in hand; which is about the outward exercise, and manifestation of prayer. A man in reading, or hearing read, Paul's Epistles: or in singing, or hearing sung, David's Psalms, or in opening, or hearing opened those, or any other scriptures in the church, may say, “Amen,” to any truth, or desire in his heart that the good things in them contained may be accomplished, and come to pass. Are therefore these scriptures and sermons the prayers of the church? or, which is the very point, is the reading, singing, preaching, and hearing of them the church's exercise of prayer, or praying? We doubt not but it is lawful to read privately the prayers, or sermons of any godly men that come to our hands for instruction, and provocation in and unto any good duty, and to have the heart therewith affected accordingly: but to conclude, that therefore it is lawful to bring the same into the church, and to read them publicly for that end, and, which is more, that the so reading of them is the preaching, and praying which the ministers of Christ are to give themselves unto, Acts vi. 4: and for their furnishing whereunto, he giveth them the special gifts of his Spirit, 1 Cor. xii. 4, 7, 8; is to make ropes of sand: both will hold alike, and are indeed alike childish. But let us a little further weigh their words. They call it De Lescluse's prayer, because he penned it: acknowledging therein, that their church service is the prayers of the bishop or chaplain that penned them: and the manifestation of the Spirit given to him, that is dead, and rotten. Whereas the ministers of Christ have received their proper measure of the manifestation of the Spirit to profit withal:, by which their infirmities are holpen, and they taught to pray, as they ought, and as are the church's necessities, and occasions. 1 Cor. xii. 7; Rom. viii. 28.
They further call this “the reading of De Lescluse's prayer:” and therein confess their church's praying to be reading. And is reading praying? or are not these two distinct exercises, and for divers ends? Do men read to God, which if to read be to pray, they must do? In praying, we pour matter out of the heart: but in reading we receive matter in: as common reason teacheth. How ignorant then or obstinate soever men are in their customs, and traditions received from their ancestors, their set service read for prayer is but a human device for God's worship (and that unreasonable also:) and so an idol and against the second commandment; with which no fellowship is to be had. Which whilst these men, and others will not learn of God, by us, whose persons they despise, but will still plead for it, as they do; most justly do they provoke God to punish them, and their fellows by it, as he doth. It is just, that whilst one kindleth, and another bloweth, and a third offereth this strange fire, they should together be scorched with the flame of it.
It now remains, I add a few things touching the government ecclesiastical, and ministry. But for that it becometh all honest, and modest men to be more forward in defending their own, than in reproving other men's doings; and that many loud clamours of Anabaptistry, and popularity are raised against our government, I think it meet, briefly, to insert a few things touching our profession, and practice therein.
The government of the church, then, as it is taken most strictly for the outward ordering, directing, and guidance of the same church in her affairs, (for in a more general sense the whole administration of Christ's kingdom by himself, or others, inwardly, or outwardly, publicly, or privately, may be comprehended under the government of the church,) we place in the bishops, or elders thereof, called by Christ, and the church to feed, that is to teach, and rule the same. Acts xx. 17, 20; 1 Tim. v. 17. Which their government, and the nature thereof, I will plainly lay down in such particulars, as wherein the people's liberty is greatest: which are reduced to these three heads: 1. Exercise of prophesying: 2. Choice of officers: and 3. Censuring of offenders.
And 1. For the exercise of prophesying; wherein men, though not in office, have liberty to move, and propound their questions, and doubts for satisfaction, as also having received a gift, to administer the same, unto edification, exhortation, and comfort. As then Paul, and Barnabas coming into the synagogue of the Jews, where they were no officers, the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them after the lecture of the law, if they had any word of exhortation to the people, to say on, Luke ii. 46; Rom. xii. 6; 1 Pet. iv. 10; 1 Cor. xiv.; Acts xiii. 14, 15 (which order the Jews also observe in their synagogues at this day): so with us, the officers after their ordinary teaching, signify, and exhort unto the use of, the like liberty, in that, and the other particulars formerly named: and so, as there is occasion, open and explain things obscure and doubtful: reprove things unsound and impertinent: and so order, moderate, and determine the whole exercise by the Word of God. And in this I suppose it appears to all men, that the officers govern.
For the choice of officers, we do take for our directions the practices of the apostles, and apostolical church, Acts i. and vi. and xiv., grounded upon a perpetual equity, that men should choose them under Christ, unto whose faithfulness, under the same Christ, and by his appointment, they are to commit themselves, and their souls: and them, as Christ's, and their servants to maintain: in any one of which examples, the conscience of a godly man is better established, than in all the canons of popes, or prelates, or other devices of politic men whatsoever, departing from the apostolical simplicity. I will instance in one example where this point is most largely and clearly set down; unto which therefore the rest must be referred, and by it other places, handling the same matter more briefly, explained, and opened. We do read, Acts vi., how the apostles call together the multitude; show them the necessity of choosing deacons, what their work is, and how they must be qualified, and how many they would have chosen: whom, being chosen accordingly, by the multitude, they ordain; sanctifying the whole action with prayer. Where it is evident, that though the calling did chiefly depend upon the multitude, yet did the government of the whole action lie upon the officers. Conformable whereunto is our practice, so near as we can, upon the like occasion.
Lastly, for our direction in the public use of the censures, we propound to ourselves the rule of Christ, Matt. xviii. 17, touching sins private in themselves, but to be made public by the sinner's refusing to hear admonition: and with it, the practice thereof by the doctrine of his apostle, 1 Cor. v., about a sin of public nature. For the not censuring whereof he sharply reproveth the church; vehemently exhorting them, that being “come together in the name of the Lord Jesus,” they would “by his power,” for the use whereof he shows his judgment, for his part severally, and promiseth his joint assent in their public assembly, excommunicate the offender. For neither could the apostle being but one, be the church, or congregation, which consists of two or three, that is a company, though never so small, gathered together in Christ's name, as he expounds himself, Matt. xviii. 20: neither did he seize into his own hands the liberty of the Corinthians, for their neglecting it; as oppressors use to deal with their tenants and debtors, taking the advantages of forfeitures against them: neither indeed could the apostle with any equity or justice proceed to any censure against the offender, he not being before sufficiently convinced of and rebuked for his sin, as he should have been. 1 Tim. v. 20.
Answerable to the course by Christ and the apostle there directed, and by the Corinthians observed, as appeareth, 2 Cor. ii. 6, we desire our practice may be. In which, sins scandalous, if in themselves of public nature, are brought to the church by one of the officers: or, if private, and to be made public by the sinner's impenitence, by the brother offended, and his witnesses, at the officer's appointment. Where the sin, being manifested, and for fact orderly proved against the offender, is by the elders condemned, and rebuked by the Word of God, and the sinner exhorted to repentance, according to the quality of the sin. In which conviction, and admonition lawfully, and sufficiently made, the church resteth: the men manifesting their assent thereunto by some convenient word, or sign, and the women by silence. And so the admonition which before was Christ's, and the officer's, becomes the church's: following the other as their governors, and not otherwise.
Upon which admonition if it please God to give the sinner repentance, 2 Tim. ii. 25, answerable, and that he so manifest, God thereby receiveth glory, who was dishonoured by his sin, and men who were offended, satisfaction: and so all further proceeding is stayed, and the person exhorted, and others by his example, to sin no more lest a worse thing happen unto him. But if he remain obstinate, and refuse to hear the church, and in it, Christ, admonishing him, then with sorrow for the hardness of his heart, all long sufferance, and patience in the meanwhile used, according to the nature and circumstances of the offence, by the power of the Lord Jesus, not given to the church in vain, the impenitent sinner is, for his humbling, to be cut off, and excommunicated from the fellowship of the church: the elders, as governors, going before in decreeing the sentence, and so one of them, upon the people's assent, as in admonition, pronouncing it in the name of Christ, and his church.
But, for that the officers are frail men, and those not “lords over God's heritage,” as are princes, and magistrates over their subjects, but ministers and servants of Christ the husband, and the church the wife, whom the thing concerns in their places, as well as them, 1 Pet. v. 3; 1 Cor. iv. 1; 2 Cor. iv. 1, 5, we think it lawful for the brethren, either doubtful of anything in the officer's administration, to propound their doubt for satisfaction; or seeing them failing in any material thing, to admonish them of their duty and that they “look to their office,” Col. iv. 17, or, if need stand, to supply the same for the further clearing of things. And this whole proceeding we make, and use ordinarily on the Lord's-day, as being properly the Lord's work, a work of religion, directly respecting the soul, and conscience: and of spiritual nature, as being an administration of Christ's kingdom, which is not of this world. John xviii. 36. And this also when the whole church is gathered together, as which it concerneth many ways. 1 Cor. iv. 4, 5. 1. Because the church which is offended by public sins, must be publicly satisfied. 2. A little leaven, leaveneth the whole lump, to wit of the church, being unpurged out. 3. They that sin must be rebuked openly, that the rest may fear. 1 Tim. v. 20. 4. The elders, or bishops are to feed the flock by government publicly, as well as by doctrine; and being by them, over whom they are, to be highly loved for their work's sake, their work of government must be seen by the church which is for the same so to esteem them. 1 Thess. v. 12, 13. And thus we believe, and practise accordingly, though, we confess, with great weakness. By which our weakness it cometh also to pass, that this comely order is sometimes interrupted, and human frailties intermingle themselves, either by the officer's fault, in not governing, or the people's in not obeying, as they ought: so as we are at times overtaken with some things both disorderly, and difficult to determine; as it also cometh to pass in all societies, and governments of, and by men, whatsoever. And as in nature, the corruption of the best thing is the worst, so in the breach of the most comely order, there is the greatest both uncomeliness, and disorder. But things are not to be defined by their abuses, as the philosophers teach, and all wise men know: so neither must the Lord's ordinances be esteemed by the disorders personally incident unto them, but as they are in their right state, and lawful use.
The order of our government then being such, as I have described it, let every indifferent reader judge, whether or no, in respect of outward order, it be popular, and wherein the people govern, as many please to reproach us, and it. But if men will still shut their eyes against the things we plainly and simply lay down, and yet open their mouths against us for popularity, and Anabaptistry, we can but, making this and the like our just defences, commit both ourselves, and cause to God.
And thus much of our order of government. I will now go on where I left, to show that the Lord's people may not communicate with the Church of England in regard of the government ecclesiastical, and ministry thence derived.
And 1. The Scriptures teach us, that the Holy Ghost hath appointed sundry overseers, or bishops over one flock to feed, that is, to teach, and govern it: of which it also standeth in need. It is then the unholy ghost of Antichrist, which hath devised one bishop over many flocks, which he cannot possibly feed, if he would. Acts xx. 17, 20; xiv. 23; Phil. i. 1; 1 Tim. v. 17; Tit. i. 5. Only for his government he hath this help, that he is a lord over them, and not a minister, and servant unto them, and so bears more sway over the profane multitude, whereof those churches most-what consist, by lording it with his imperious canons, and purse-penalties, than many true bishops could do, by their faithful ministry, and service, according to Christ's testament.
2. It is written, Eph. iv. 8, 11–13, that Christ “when he ascended on high, gave gifts to men:” “some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors, and teachers, for the work of the ministry,” &c. “until all the saints were met together unto a perfect man,” &c. Where the apostle teacheth, how Christ the king of his church hath set in it certain orders of officers, answerably gifted, extraordinarily and ordinarily, and those also there to be, and continue in their time, till the same church and body of Christ were complete, both for number of persons, and measure of graces. Now if the bishops be pastors, or shepherds, and teachers, as some would make them, over their provinces, and dioceses, how will they answer the Lord for not teaching them? Or how hath the Lord appointed such a ministry, being an office of trust, and wherein the personal ability, and faithfulness of the minister is required, as which, he that received it, cannot possibly fulfil if he would? Col. iv. 17, Or if the bishops be of the order of pastors, and teachers, which are the lowest ministers, of what order are the parishional ministers, which are below them? And for the first three, apostles, prophets, and evangelists, they were extraordinary, for the first planting, and watering of the churches. The apostles, and prophets laying the foundation, by doctrine infallibly true: and the evangelists employed by the apostles' direction, here and there, for the perfecting of their work, as there was need. Neither were they, one or other, tied to any particular flock, diocese, province, or nation; but were general men, and for all places; being thereunto furnished with the knowledge, and use of all tongues, as there was occasion. Matt. xxviii. 19, 20; 1 Cor. iii. 6, 10, 11; Eph. ii. 20; Acts xvi. 1–3; Rom. xvi. 21; 1 Cor. xvi. 10; 2 Cor. viii. 6, 16, 23, and xi. 28; 2 Tim. iv. 5, 21; Tit. i. 5, and iii. 12. So that whilst our English bishops plead their provincial, and diocesan jurisdiction from the commission of the apostles and evangelists, they are found to be of their number, who said they were apostles, and were not. Rev. ii. 2. They then, in their order of ministry, are not of the gifts, which Christ, the king of his church gave, when he ascended on high, but of the gifts of Antichrist in his ascent to the throne of his apostacy: of whose body also they are natural members, without which it cannot consist: as may all other bodies, whether civil or ecclesiastical. And since the officers of the church are members of the body, 1 Cor. xii. 12, 27, 28, of Christ, as the eyes, mouth, hand, &c., he who adds to, or takes from the church an order of ministry or office, presumes to add to, or take from Christ's body, a member: and so abolishing a member of the body, he doth also abolish a gift, and grace of the Spirit, working effectually according to the measure, or proportion of every part; or adding a member, he must be able to quicken, and furnish it with a proportionable gift of that same Spirit, who distributeth to every member, as it pleaseth, ver. 11. And so where the apostle saith, ver. 4, 5, “that there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit: and diversities of ministries, but the same Lord:” he plainly teacheth these two things. 1. That all lawful ministries in the church are of Christ: 2. That none may appoint a ministry in the church but he who can bestow an answerable gift of qualification: which is not in the power of any man, or angel.
3. The Lord by his apostle hath ordered, that the elders, or bishops which labour in the word, and doctrine, should have double honour, specially, and above them that rule, though well: and that upon a ground of perpetual equity, that since the bishop's, or elder's office is a work, the chief work, which preaching is, should have the chief honour. 1 Tim. v. 17; iii. 1. But this order of Christ, and of nature itself, is clean subverted by the order of the prelacy, and ministry in England, where tenfold honour is given to ruling, though not well, above the most painful labouring in the word, and doctrine. It well suits with the spirit of Antichrist, that imperious lording over the souls and consciences of men should be advanced above the base, and burdensome work of preaching God's Word.
Lastly, the rights, and liberties wherewith Christ the Lord hath in his Word endowed his church, the elders for their government, and the people for their liberty, for the calling of officers, and censuring of offenders these oppressors spiritual have seized into their own hands, as their peculiars, Matt. xviii. 17; 1 Cor. v.; Acts i. and vi.: in, and upon which their usurpation, which is specially to be noted, their very office, and order is founded. “Woe be to him,” saith the Lord, “that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong,” Jer. xxii. 13: how much more then unto them, who build their high palaces by such spiritual injury against the Lord, his house, ministers, and people as they apparently do.
For conclusion; the tree is known by the fruits: and too evident it is by their fruits, upon what root the prelates' tree groweth. Their preferring, and that, in their most solemn constitutions, the wearing of a surplice, or making a cross in a babe's forehead by the minister, before the preaching of the gospel; of bowing the knee by the people to, or at the Lord's Supper, before the most worthy receiving otherwise; the reading, and hearing of their, rather than God's, service, by the one and other, above the performance of any part of God's worship appointed in his Word, by either of them, do declare them to be no mean members of that “man of sin, and adversary, who exalteth himself above all that is called God.” 2 Thess. ii. 3, 4.
Their constraining the ministers to receive from them, and by their sole authority, their order of priesthood, and institutions to their cures, with their licences to preach: enforcing them to subscribe, and that from their hearts, to their devised government, service, and ceremonies, and even to swear canonical obedience to them therein; and both them, and the people to obey their summons, and citations, running, and riding to and fro, to sue and serve in their courts: to take the oath ex officio, to accuse themselves, and their friends, and that often for well-doing: to submit to their censures of all sorts, and not so much as to dare to speak against their tyrannies and superstitions, under pain of excommunication, ipso facto do proclaim unto all men that have ears to hear, that they are in a great measure, spiritual Babylonish lords, “causing all both small and great, rich and poor, to receive their mark in their right hand, or forehead, and otherwise not suffering them either to buy, or sell.” Rev. xiii. 16, 17.
Their sale of orders and institutions, and that most-what unto persons utterly unworthy, to the destruction of how many thousand souls for whom Christ died, either by starving them through ignorance, or poisoning them by profane example; of dispensations for pluralities, and nonresidences, of licences to preach up and down the country, and to marry at times by their canons prohibited: of pardons, and absolutions, when men are excommunicated, and sometimes when they are dead, before they can have Christian burial: with their extorted fees, and purse-penalties, the very sinews of their kingdom, do clearly pronounce against them, that they and their subordinates are “merchants of that great city Babylon, trafficking for all manner of ware, and for the souls of men.” Rev. xviii. 10–13.
Now touching the parochial ministers, I have proved against Mr. Bernard,* that neither their office, nor calling by which they administer it, is of Christ. The office of the bishop is a work, 1 Tim. iii. 1; and this work stands in feeding the flock, Acts xx. 28; and this feeding in preaching and ruling. Now, as the government of their flocks is not so much as permitted unto them, so neither is preaching any natural or necessary part of their office, but an accessory and casual ornament, and which may be or may not be, as the persons can or will. And for their calling, whether to their priesthood at large, by the archdeacon's presentation and bishop's ordination; or to their special charges, either by the patron's presentation, bishop's institution and archdeacon's induction, or by the bishop's sole licence; the very naming of the means by which it is had, sufficiently proves it not to be from heaven, but of man, even the man of sin, his vain device. Luke xx. 4. But I will for the present insist only upon this consideration, that the parishional ministry is a branch of the prelacy; and so all communion with the one, as other, is to be avoided by God's people.
And for the better discerning of things, it must be observed, that as the whole nation is divided into two provinces, under the two archbishops, and the two provinces into sundry dioceses under the bishops, and they into their several parishes under the ministers thereof; so do the archbishops and bishops share out unto the parish priests, in their ordination, a part of their charge, to wit, so much as concerns the ordinary service of the parish; as they do also unto their chancellors, commissaries, and archdeacons, another part for inferior government; reserving unto themselves the lordship over both, for the best advantage of their own honour and profit. So that the chancellor in the consistory, and the priest in the pulpit or desk, doth administer by one and the same power: namely, that of the prelate, which from and by him, both the one and the other doth receive. And, as Christ told the twelve when he sent them to preach, that “he who received them, received him; and that he who received him, received him that sent him,” Matt. x. 40; so he that receives or communicates with the minister, in any parish of the land, receives the bishop that sent him, and so indeed, originally, the Pope that sent him; and of whose sending the Pope is, they and we make no question. The prelacy, then, being to be rooted out, as a plant which God hath not planted, and the ministry, in the order and office of which we speak, being a branch of it, can the branch survive, if the root be plucked up? or, shall any of God's people, by their maintenance of it, submission unto it, or communion with it, give thereunto any life or preservation?
But here sundry defences are made, by them who in judgment, word, and writing, and some practices, dislike the prelacy: as that “they are not subject to their government; that the ministers do not stand by the ordination and power received from and by them, but by the people's acceptation; that these things are but matters of outward order and government, which, though they may something concern the ministers themselves, yet are they little or nothing to private persons.”
We will briefly consider of these defences: and let them who make them consider and beware, that they be not of them, who will not be reformed, but seek excuses after their own heart.
And, first, They who thus disclaim, in word, the bishop's government, confess themselves, therein, to be under no spiritual external government at all; and so be lawless persons, and inordinate walkers, and such as have neither that conscience which is meet, of the commandments of Christ by his apostles, to give due honour to them who rule well, and to “submit themselves to those who are over them in the Lord,” 1 Tim. v. 17; Heb. xiii. 17; nor of their own frailty, and in what need they stand of the Lord's ordinances, and of this in special, for their guidance and conservation in his ways. Secondly, The daily practice of these men, every one of them less or more, in the sight of the sun, is a sufficient conviction of their unhonest excuse. Their obedience unto the summons and citations, unto their spiritual courts of the prelates and their deputies; their suing or appearing there by themselves or their proctors; the submission of the ministers to their suspensions and deprivations; and both of ministers and people to their excommunications, do really plead their spiritual subjection to their jurisdiction. Yea, so far are the people from freeing the ministers by their acceptation from the prelates' jurisdiction, as on the contrary, they enthral them much more under the same; not only by accepting them at the first under their mark of institution, or licence, but even ever after, year by year, by choosing a churchwarden, or sides-man as they call him, to present both their own and minister's defaults in and unto their consistories and visitations: as doth the minister also choose another for the same purpose; for the performance of which presentations they are to bind themselves by oath, and so ordinarily do. So that, howsoever many are ashamed of their lords and masters, both ministers and people, not actually separated from their parish assemblies, stand in spiritual subjection to the prelates, and receive their mark, though some in their forehead and more professedly; and others as effectually, though more covertly, in their right hand.
Now for the outward government, and ordering of the house of God, the church, and the outward calling of the ministers thereof, they are not so slighty matters, as politic men, out of their fleshly hearts would persuade themselves and others. The apostle unto Timothy, treating at large of these things tells him, how the cause why he so writes is, that in his absence, he “might know how he ought to behave himself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar, and ground of truth.” Where he adorneth the church with most honourable titles, for this very end, that he, and all other God's ministers, and people, might be admonished more carefully to preserve unviolated that sacred economy, and church government there prescribed: obtesting, and charging him before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, to observe these things impartially, 1 Tim. iii. 15, 16, 21: as also writing unto the Corinthians he propounds the matter of outward order unto them, as “the commandments of the Lord Jesus,” 1 Cor. xiv. 37, which are all to be observed by his disciples in their places, Matt. xxviii. 20: in whose eyes he is worthy of more honour in his own house, and in the ordering of it, than was Moses a servant in his Master's house, Heb. iii. 3, &c.: according to whose direction, notwithstanding, all things were to be ordered. I add, that the same apostle, whatsoever other men despising, it seems, his simplicity, think or say, testifieth of the Colossians, that they had received Christ, as well in their order, as faith: and rejoiceth as well in their continuance in the one, as other, Col. ii. 5, 6: as on the contrary he sharply reproveth the Corinthians, for the breach of order, and neglect of discipline, as well as for any other evil. 1 Cor. v. 14. And see how unequal these men are. The Pope's arrogating to himself to be the universal bishop, is in itself but a matter of order and government: and yet they generally, who are soundly minded, deem him properly Antichrist therein: alleging that of Gregory against John of Constantinople, for that purpose. And if the universal bishop make Antichrist in the head, surely the bishops of dioceses, and archbishops of provinces, and metropolitans of nations, may well challenge the parts of arms, and shoulders of that body.
Now touching the minister's outward calling, of such force it is, that he is by it alone, if at all, properly, and immediately, a true church officer; as is the magistrate in the commonwealth, the captain in the army, the steward in the family, by the outward calling of those in whom that right is, a true and lawful magistrate, -captain, or steward: and without which, all, and every of them, are mere usurpers, howsoever qualified in their persons, and serviceable in their administrations. “No man,” saith the apostle, “takes unto himself this honour, but he, that is called of God, as Aaron.” Heb. v. 4. And let them who think it a small matter to usurp, or being usurped, to communicate with, a calling without order by God's Word, consider what befel them, who usurped, or communicated in the usurpation of, the priestly honour, not being thereunto called, as was Aaron. Numb. xi. 16. And how it lieth on all the ministers of Christ in hand, to be able to justify their outward calling to their offices, the apostle teacheth by his own example, and, specially, in his Epistle to the church of Galatia, where it was most called in question, Gal. i. 1: which they also that cannot do, are to be served, as were they, who could not find the writing of their genealogy, and were therefore put from the priesthood. Neh. vii. 64.
And, as they know who have experience thereof, what comfort it ministereth against the manifold trials incident to the lawful ministers of Christ, that they are called by them thereunto, whom, under the Lord, it most concerneth, as over whose souls they are to watch: so on the contrary, I verily suppose, it cometh to pass, that even the best ministers in the assemblies, do so easily, and unworthily forsake their flocks, for their greater ease, profit, or credit; and which not, for fear of a little persecution? because they want this testimony, and comfort of good conscience, that they have been lawfully called to minister unto them.
To conclude then this point also: the same scriptures and grounds which prove the order of prelacy, and so of priesthood, being a branch of it, not to be of God, do also prove it unlawful for the people of God to partake in the administrations of the one, or other, and therein to submit themselves unto them.
For 1. Their very administrations, by an unlawful calling, are their sins: and so to partake with them in their administrations, is to partake with them in their sins, contrary to 1 Tim. v. 22; Rev. xv. 4.
2dly. The ground of submission unto the officers of the church is, that they are made “overseers of the flock by the Holy Ghost,” and are “over it in the Lord,” Acts xx. 17, 28; 1 Thess. v. 12: which subjection therefore neither the prelates, nor priests being appointed by their ghosts, can challenge, neither can the people by faith yield the same unto them. The apostle, Rom. xiii., urging submission to all sorts of magistrates doth it upon this ground, that they are of God, and his ordinances: so the ground of our submission to any office of ministry in the church, and stay of our faith, is this, that it is of Christ the Mediator of his church, and one of his ordinances.
3dly. In the second commandment of the first table are commanded all external spiritual ordinances, and so the external spiritual ministry, and government of the church: neither can the same be referred to any other of the ten commandments: whereupon I infer, that every such government, and ministry not commanded by God, and Christ, is as an idol, there forbidden, and all subjection unto it, as the bowing down unto an idol.
Fourthly, They who judge the prelacy not to be of Christ, but of Antichrist, and so speak, and write (to whom more principally I direct my speech), and yet stand members of the parish assemblies under the government, and ministry thereof, do really, and indeed underprop, and uphold that, which in word, and writing they would overthrow: they would blow or dash it down with their mouths, and pens, and yet uphold it with their shoulders. Far are they from giving unto Christ his due honour in his officers and orders, whilst they thus submit unto the officers and orders of his adversary Antichrist, as is that whole hierarchy and every order in it, from the pope unto the sumner. If any traitor, or rebel should now rise up, and strive with the king for any, the dignities or prerogatives royal of the kingdom, and should so far prevail with any able men, as that they should be content to take upon them, by his commission and sending, to administer justice publicly, were it lawful for any the king's subjects to join with, or submit unto them in their ministrations, though in themselves never so just? or were they not all, under pain of disloyalty, bound to abandon them, and their courts, or assemblies, and to adjoin, and submit themselves unto the king's lawful officers, how few, or feeble soever? Even so must all the loyal subjects of Jesus Christ the king of his church, withdraw themselves wholly from the powers of Antichrist, striving with Christ whether shall rule by his officers, orders, and laws: whatsoever truths they teach or administer: and must adjoin themselves to the officers of Christ, lawfully called, and sent to teach, and guide his church by his Word: and therein must show, as in other things, their loyalty to their lord and king.
But here M. de Lescluse's forenamed opposites step in, and plead for submission unto unlawful ministers, 1. That “in Christ's time there were divers officers whose names had not been heard of in the primitive church of the Jews, nor ever were instituted by any example of former times, in that church, as the names of lawyers, scribes of the people, and rulers of the synagogues, or archi-synagogues. 2. If the godly may lawfully submit unto the government, and guidance by private admonition of such private brethren, who for their sects, factions, and superstitious observations have had such names as were formerly unknown unto the church of God; who also in respect of their wickedness deserved to be cast out of the church, and are unjustly retained, as it was in the communion of the godly with the scribes and pharisees, then is it also lawful to stand under the guidance and government of unlawful officers.”*
In whose defence I observe, first, that they yield the ministers of England to be unlawful, and to have had their names of primates, metropolitans, lord archbishops, lord bishops, deans, archdeacons, chancellors, commissaries, priests, parsons, vicars, curates, given unto them for their sects, factions, and superstitious observations: and yet all of them make suit, take, pay for, and answer to some or other of these names, with the orders to which they appertain. Secondly, I note how vain a pretext it is, that the persons, whose names are prefixed, are the authors of the book, as if John Fowler, and his fellows durst take upon them to set down what names of officers had been heard of, or not, in the Jewish church from the first institution, till Christ's time. Thirdly, where in their former reason they make the scribes of the people church-officers, in the second reason they make the scribes and pharisees, private brethren. Fourthly, they grant one private brother to be under the guidance, and government of another, and so establish a popular government, in a sense expressly; and by just consequence, as far as we intend and do, howsoever they reproach us for popularity. Now for their arguments. First, I deny that, which they take for granted, and upon which they build, to wit, that the names of lawyers, scribes of the people, and rulers of the synagogues, were not in the Jewish church, before Christ's time.
And 1. The lawyers were such as were skilful in the Law of God, and the scribes such as gave themselves either to expound, or write it, or both: being also Levites for the most part, in which respects these their names, as honourable, and not for their factions, were most fitly given them: and not first in Christ's time, as is affirmed, but long before, as appeareth, Jer. viii. 8, and Ezra vii. 6, 11,12, where Ezra is called a scribe prompt in the law of Moses; which Tremelius and Junius translate* a lawyer, or one skilful in the law: as indeed these scribes and lawyers were the same, as is testified, Matt. xxii. 35, compared with Mark xii. 28, and so the Hebrew word† may indifferently be turned and is. And if there were nothing else, that which we read, 1 Maccab. v. 42 reproves these men's peremptory affirmation, that the names of the scribes of the people were not in the church of the Jews, before Christ's time. But both better, and more ancient testimony may be brought against it: take that one, amongst many, in the Greek Bible, Numb. xi. 16, where the seventy interpreters have it, πρεσαύτεροι τοῦ λαοῦ καὶ γραμματεῖς ἀυτῶν. So for the names of archi-synagogues, or rulers of the synagogues spoken of, Mark v. 22, &c., the same interpreters use the same words, Exod. xxxiv. 31; Numb. xxxi. 13, &c., which the evangelists do writing in Greek, and herein without doubt, following them, as in other things. And there being synagogues of old among the Jews, there must needs be rulers of them and the same so called.
Touching the second argument: I deny the proportion upon which they build it. In receiving an admonition from an unlawful brother, as they speak, I do submit only to that which is good in itself, and of God: but in submitting to an unlawful officer, prelate, or priest, I submit to that which is evil in itself and not of God, to wit, his very office, or order. The unlawful brother, though in sin, yet doth not perform the admonition by virtue of his sin, but out of his personal knowledge, and zeal, at least in appearance, against the sin he reproves in particular, but the unlawful officer doth administer the public doctrine, (as the sacraments) by virtue, or rather by vice, of his very sin immediately, and properly: wherein I may not partake with him. These men have refused to submit to Mr. Johnson's public ministry, and so profess: do they, therefore, think it unlawful to receive any information, or admonition, or reproof by the Word of God for their sins, from him, or any the people with him privately, and upon occasion? And, by their large grounds, it should be lawful to submit to the ministry of any heretical minister: for from such a one it is not unlawful to receive a private admonition for sin, upon occasion. But how much better were it for these men, and their friends to advance by all good means a lawful ministry, than thus to support that which is unlawful, by pleading for submission unto it. But if they needs will, as they plead in their book, submit their souls to thieves, and robbers, and to such ministers, as were the scribes, and pharisees in Christ's time, in whom they instance, notorious heretics denying both the nature, offices, and person of the Messiah, teaching justification by the works of the law, and power in man to keep it, let them rejoice in their ministers, and let their ministers also rejoice in them, as Jotham said of the men of Schechem and Abimelech: but for us, we have learnt to give more honour to God's ordinance, and to have more care of Christ's precious purchase, our souls, than to commit the same to such watchmen's keeping.
Thus have I briefly noted down, and confirmed the principal grounds of our separation from the communion, and order of the church assemblies, notwithstanding the admission of the personal communion before mentioned. And I have of purpose taken in, and answered the chief reasons brought by M. de Lescluse's accusers, against our practice, that it may appear, both, how they fail of that they promise in the Preface of their book; as, also, that it is a far more easy thing to reproach men's persons, than justly to evince their profession. And would the king but give toleration, and withhold from bodily violence against their persons and estates, I doubt not, but we should have many thousands in the land concurring with us for substance of practice, as they do now in opinion: who would speedily unite themselves in other spiritual societies, than the profane parishes: leaving the service-book, and ceremonies to the prelates, with their dumb priests, and formal clergy: withdrawing from their and their chancellor's, and official's spiritual jurisdiction, neither obeying their summons, nor regarding their censures: neither would the ministers sue to them for their orders and licences; nor the people receive them of their making, nor present them by their church-wardens to their courts, nor keep them by their leave, and under their correction: but both ministers, and people would find other, and better rules of direction in Christ's testament, for their walking, and worshipping of God, than the bishop's canons and injunctions. Which so being, he, who indeed “judgeth his people with justice, and his poor afflicted ones with judgment,” be judge between them and us, Psa. lxxii. 2: and whether, we, submitting ourselves so near as we can discern to all the commandments and ordinances of Christ in his gospel, reject them; or they, us, who rather choose the unhallowed church-state, order, and ordinances in and under which they stand, than that, and those, by themselves, esteemed more agreeable to the will of God, with persecution: but specially whether we, for these things, do deserve that cruel hatred, and those most hostile carriages, which many of them, who would be thought to mourn for reformation, do bear, and use towards us: making it their glory to cast shame upon us, and their great matter of rejoicing to add to our afflictions, and who say to our souls in the day of our sorrow, “Bow down, that we may go over.” Isa. li. 23.
There is yet another danger, into which men may easily fall by occasion of the former doctrine: which is, in taking liberty to withhold, or withdraw from the church of God, and ministry thereof: satisfying themselves in that, their private fellowship, with the better sort of people: with whom, by this means, they may converse with more comfort to themselves, and contentment to them. For the preventing of which evil, I will here annex a few reasons to enforce the necessity, and conscience of living, and walking with the church of God, and so under the ministry thereunto given, if it can be had.
And, 1. The Scriptures calling the church “the house,” “temple,” and “tabernacle of the living God,” where he hath promised that most full presence of his grace, and “to dwell with,” and “amongst men,” and “in the midst of them, as their God,” do, therein, effectually admonish the people of God to beware, that by their own default, they do not any way deprive themselves of the fruit of this, God's so gracious promise and presence, in the true visible church, his house, and temple, 1 Tim. iii. 15; 2 Cor. vi. 16; Rev. xxi. 3; Matt. xviii. 20; 1 Cor. v. 4: either by not adjoining themselves thereunto, as members: or being members, by withdrawing from her actual communion: therein making themselves, to speak as the truth is, but idol members, and as “eyes which see not, ears which hear not, and feet which walk not,” at least, in respect of the body, whereof they are.
2. And if we look to the most worthy servants of God, for our examples, we shall find them always to have had a most ardent desire unto, and vehement delight in this visible presence of God in his church and ordinances: the necessary use and sweet fruit whereof they so sensibly found in their own experience. Take we David for an instance: whose love was such, to the mansion of God's house, and place of the habitation of his glory, as that it was the only thing he desired, in comparison, that he might dwell in the Lord's house all the days of his life, and there behold his glory, Psa. xxvii. 4; xxvi. 8: professing in his absence from it, that the thirsty hind did not more bray after the rivers of waters, than did his soul for God's presence, and that he might appear before his face in his tabernacle, Psa. xlii. 1,2: deeming them most happy, who did always abide in God's house; and himself in that his sequestration more miserable than the sparrows and swallows, which could nestle, and lay their young near God's altars. Psa. Ixxxiv. 1, 2, &c. And yet, was he a most excellent prophet himself, and so could abundantly instruct both himself, and them with him. It is likewise testified of Moses the servant of God, that he “rather chose to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season: esteeming the rebuke of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.” Heb. xi. 25, 26. A plain, and loud testimony against them, who, because they would not bear their part in the rebuke of Christ, and afflictions of his people, do rather withdraw or withhold themselves from Christ's church, and ordinances; or, which is worse, defile themselves with the pleasures of sin in Egypt spiritual: of whom without their repentance, Christ Jesus will be ashamed, before his Father, and the holy angels. Luke ix. 26.
3. That which the wise man speaketh more generally, “Woe be to him that is alone, for he falleth, and there is not a second to lift him up; but if two be together, the other lifteth up his fellow when he falleth,” Eccl. iv. 9, 10, &c., is of special use this way. And, considering how subject even the strongest are to fall, by occasion, it is most necessary, all so walk in the communion of saints, as that others, upon such occasion, may by the hand of their godly admonitions and exhortations reached out unto them, again restore them, 1 Cor. x. 12; or, if need so require, that they may have use of the stronger hand of the church and ministry, strengthened with Christ's power, for their recovery; through the want whereof, how many fall and perish, which by it, and the blessing of God thereupon, might be restored, as we doubt not but we may truly affirm from experience! And if any man think himself to have received that strength of grace, that he stands in no great need of these helps, “let him that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall:” and let him also in love consider, that the less need he hath of the church, by reason of his greater measure of grace, the more need the church hath of him and it, unto which and whose service, they of due belong.
4. “When the Lord Jesus ascended on high, he gave gifts unto men,” to wit, his ministers gifted accordingly, for the edification of the body and help of the joy of the faithful, and furtherance of their salvation; unto whom they are bound, therefore, to submit, and them, in the Lord, to obey, for their own great good. Eph. iv. 8–11; 2 Cor. i. 24; 1 Tim. iv. 6; Heb. xiii. 17. From whom, and whose ministrations, whilst men without just and necessary cause, withdraw themselves, they break Christ's commandment, lose this fruit of his ascension, and fail in their own edification and salvation many ways.
5. This duty yet lieth more specially upon them that have families and children about them; whom they shall hardly govern at home in private, as they desire, if they have not public encouragement and help from abroad, but they shall have them still in danger to be corrupted with the superstitions of the times, or with greater evils, or both. Which dangers yet will be the greater, and that of the first kind almost inevitable, if the parents die, whilst their children are young and unestablished in the truth; whereas living with the church, they might much more easily dispose of them for their education and establishment in the ways and ordinances of the Lord; into the fellowship whereof, together with themselves, they are taken. Gen. xvii. 7, 10.
6. Lastly. It is a great offence to all, who have known men, formerly zealous hearers of God's Word in the parish assemblies, to see them hear the same in no assemblies, or where no public ministry is in use; and this, more especially, to the better sort of people, who will run and ride to hear a sermon, if they want at home, though they go but a borrowing of him who hath indeed no right himself so to dispense it publicly, or any other holy thing of God as he doth.
But it will here be objected, that “the church's ministry and ordinances are indeed to be desired, if men could enjoy them in their own country, and amongst their friends; otherwise, it seems better to witness the truth and suffer persecution at home, though without them, than for the use of them to flee into a strange country.”
It must here be known, that the truth of the Lord is witnessed two ways: first, when men walk in the obedience of it, and of all the ordinances thereof, roundly and holily, Deut. xxviii. 1; Matt. vi. 10; xxviii. 20; Psa. cxix. 4, 6; and, secondly, when men, being called thereunto, suffer persecution for the same. And of these two, the former is the more necessary, as being commanded of God, and by men to be desired and prayed for; the latter not so. For neither doth God command persecution, neither are we to desire it, or to pray for it, but to avoid it by all good means; and, being laid upon us by the Lord, with patience to bear it. Yet they that desire to please God, and to walk roundly in his appointments, shall not want persecution of sundry kinds; neither if the world thought we did, would so many -withhold or withdraw from us, as do some under one, and some under another pretext, besides those who are persuaded indeed of the unlawfulness of flight.
Now touching our country, and friends, our answer is, that we deem the want of them a grievous loss, which we would also redeem at a great rate. Yet for our country, we do not forsake it, but are by it forsaken and expelled by most extreme laws, and violent proscriptions, contrived and executed by the prelates, and on their behalf. And for private friends thus we judge, that the wife is no way to leave her husband, but to give him, as the head, the honour, of choosing probably, the place of their cohabitation: nor children and servants, their parents and masters to their prejudice, without their consent, or an apparent impossibility of doing them service: nor at all, where through their absence, they shall want necessary help and comfort. But for those, who are either the.governors of others, or free, we think they may use greater liberty.
“The Shield of Defence, written against Master De Leluse, in defence of Master Brightman, 1612.” Supposed to be written by Christopher Lawne and his party. De Leluse's name is thus variously written by different authors, De Cluse, De les Cluse, Cluse, De la Cluse. He belonged to the French church at Amsterdam, but became a Separatist from that church on account of its “known evils,” and held the office of elder in the church, over which Henry Ainsworth was pastor. On the death of Mr. Ainsworth, the church divided; one portion chose M. de Lescluse as their pastor, and the other Mr. Canne. The title of de Lesduse's work is not known. He translated Henry Ainsworth's treatise on “Communion of Saints” into French, and thus subscribed—”Translaté d'Anglois en François, par Jean de Lescluse.”
Confess, of Faith, Apol. Posit. 3, Art. 17.
Apparitor—an inferior officer of the Ecclesiastical Court.
A Shield of Defence, &c, pp. 38, 39.
A Justification, &c., vol. ii., pp. 370, &c.
A Shield of Defence, &c., pp. 24, 25.