- A Just and Necessary Apology.
- Chapter I.: Of the Largeness of Churches.
- Chapter II.: Of the Administration of Baptism.
- Chapter III.: Of Written Liturgies.
- Chapter IV.: Of the Ecclesiastical Presbytery.
- Chapter V.: Of Holy Days.
- Chapter VI.: Of the Celebration of Marriage By the Pastors of the Church.
- Chapter VII.: Of the Sanctification of the Lord's Day.
- Chapter VIII.: Of the Exercise of Prophecy.
- Chapter IX.: Of Temples.
- Chapter X.: Of Things Indifferent.
- Chapter XI.: Of Civil Magistrates.
- Chapter XII.: Of the Church of England,
- Notice Respecting the Two Letters.
- On Religious Communion
- The Preface.
- Chapter I.: Of Private Communion.
- Chapter II.: Of Public Communion.
- Chapter III.: Of Flight In Persecution.
- Chapter IV.: The Outward Baptism Received In England Is Lawfully Retained.
- Chapter V.: Of the Baptism of Infants.
- Chapter VI.: A Survey of the Confession of Faith Published In Certain Conclusions By the Remainders of Mr. Smyth's Company After His Death. *
- The People’s Plea For the Exercise of Prophecy
- An Answer to the Arguments Laid Down By Mr. John Yates, Preacher In Norwich , to Prove Ordinary Prophecy In Public, Out of Office, Unlawful; Answered By John Robinson.
- A Treatise On the Lawfulness of Hearing Ministers In the Church of England
- On the Lawfulness of Hearing the Ministers of the Church of England. By John Robinson.
- A Letter to the Congregational Church In London
- An Appeal On Truth's Behalf.
- To Our Beloved, the Elders and Church At Amsterdam , Grace and Peace From God the Giver Thereof, and In Him Our Salutations .
- An Answer to a Censorius People
- Letter By Rev. Joseph Hall, B.d., Rector of Halstead, Called By Mr. Robinson “a Censorious Epistle.”
- An Answer to “a Censorious Epistle.”
- A Catechism
- An Appendix to Mr. Perkins’ Six Principles of Christian Religion.
- No I.: The Church In Southwark.
- No. II.: The Exiles and Their Churches In Holland.
- Chronological Index of Mr. Robinson's Works.
- Index of Subjects.
- Index of Authors Referred to Or Quoted, With Occasional Brief Notices of Their Works and Lives.
- Index of Important Texts of Scripture Illustrated Or Quoted.
PREFATORY NOTICE BY THE EDITOR.
The Rev. John Yates, B.D., was Fellow of Emanuel College, Cambridge, and subsequently minister of St. Andrews, Norwich. He was a Puritan, distinguished for his piety and abilities, and for whom Mr. Robinson entertained great respect. He wrote a treatise against “Persons Prophesying out of Office,” or, what in modern times is designated “Lay-preaching.” The arguments of Mr. Yates were copied out, and, when duly attested, were forwarded to Mr. Robinson, at Leyden, by a person whom he designates by the initials W. E. On reading them, the solicitudes of the expatriated minister of Norwich were revived, and he resolved on publishing, for the benefit of his former friends in that city, a Defence both of Lay-preaching in general, as a substitute for official ministrations when such could not be obtained, and of the practice which was not uncommon among the early Independents, of allowing any gifted brother who felt disposed, to arise and speak at the close of the minister's discourse.
The “People's Plea” contains this Defence, and consists, first, of a summary of Mr. Yates' arguments, seriatim; secondly, of Mr. Robinson's reply to each argument; and, thirdly, of a general view of the whole subject, confirming, illustrating, and amplifying the arguments already adduced.
Lay-preaching has long been a controverted subject among various parties. The Congregationalists themselves have not always been agreed respecting its validity and expediency. Generally, however, it has been allowed and encouraged by them, as a means of supplying the lack of ministerial service.
Mr. Hanbury has given an extended list of works on the subject, which were published shortly after the death of Mr. Robinson.
To my Christian Friends in Norwich and thereabouts, Grace and Salvation from the God and Giver thereof.
That loving and thankful remembrance in which I always have you, my Christian friends, provoketh me as continually to commend unto God your welfare, so to rejoice greatly when I understand thereof, and especially that your souls do prosper. And as the prosperity of the soul is principally furthered by the zealous preaching of the gospel, so hath it been matter of unfeigned rejoicing unto me, to hear how God hath of late stirred up amongst you divers instruments, whose zealous endeavours he hath used that way, and covering in mercy what is evil of ignorance and infirmity on their parts (I hope) in their entrance and ministrations, doth bless what is of himself to the good of his chosen. But, as it falleth out in nature that the pure waters draw off the tainture of the soil through which they run, so with you, it seems, the pure truths of the gospel have suffered by some, too great mixture with sundry popish errors about the church and ministry, in and by which, they are propounded: and this more especially by Mr. Yates, a man of good gifts in himself, and note amongst you; pleading the cause of the whore of Babylon, the Church of Home, as Christ's wife; and of Antichrist's clergy, as of Christ's ministry. And as this clergy's exhortation is not a little furthered by usurpation on the people's liberty, which it swalloweth up, and thereby swelleth above proportion, so in all his pleading for the one, he doth necessarily implead the other; and as in other things, so especially in the exercise of prophecy, or teaching in the church by an ordinary gift; in which every one that is able, bringeth his shot (reckoning, share) in due time and order, for a joint feast of that heavenly repast, the Word of God.
The arguments in his writing, (sent unto me by W. E., with his consent, and that, before the magistrate,) I have set down word for word, and answered, and therewith confirmed what I have elsewhere published, in justification of this exercise against his exceptions and answers, which being scattered, here and there, in his large discourse and divers of them divers times repeated, I have collected, contracted, and set in orderly opposition to their contrary arguments; and that without any the least wrong (to my knowledge) unto him or his cause; as, having left out nothing in his writing, which might seem to bring advantage to his purpose.
Now if any shall ask me why I have not rather answered Mr. Hall's large and learned volume against me, and the general cause which I profess, my reasons are,—First, Because it is a large volume so full farced by him, as it seems, that he might prevent further answer. Secondly, His treatise is as much (and more immediately) against the Reformists, and their cause in the main, as against us and ours. Thirdly, The truth requireth not that persons but things be answered; and things in it know I none, not answered in my defence against Mr. Bernard. Lastly, I do put as great difference between him and Mr. Yates, as between a word-wise orator, both labouring more, and being better able to feed his reader with the leaves of words, and flowers of rhetoric, than with the fruits of knowledge, as also striving rather to oppress the person of his adversary with false and proud reproaches, than to convince his tenet by sound arguments: and between a man sincerely zealous for the truth, and by his simple and solid dealing by the Scriptures, as Mr. Yates doth, giving testimony of his unfeigned love thereof. Which truth my prayer to God is, that he, with myself, and all others so seeking it, may find, and therein accord in all things.
And for you, my Christian friends, towards whom, for your persons I am minded, even as when I lived with you, be you admonished by me (which I also entreat at the hands of the Lord on your behalf) that you carefully beware, lest in anything you fall from your steadfastness; but on the contrary, grow in grace, and in the knowledge and obedience of the Lord Jesus in his whole revealed will. And let me the more earnestly exhort you hereunto, by how much the contrary evil is the more both dangerous and common. A man may fall forward, and in so doing endanger his hands and face; but in falling backward, the danger is far greater, as we see in old Eli, of whom we read, that he fell backwards and his neck brake and he died. 1 Sam. iv. 18. And how common a thing is it for men amongst you and the whole land throughout, in their declining age to decline in grace, woeful experience teacheth; there being few old disciples to be found, who in their age do hold the same temper of zeal and goodness, which they had upon them in their younger times; this being one main reason thereof,—That the means amongst you are far more for conversion than preservation; and for birth than nourishment: whereas they (by the Lord's gracious dispensation in the orderly state of things) who are planted in the house of the Lord, in the courts of our God, shall flourish, yea, shall sprout, in old age, and are fat and green, to show that the Lord is just and with him is none unrighteousness. Psa. xcii. 13–15. Of this grace, he who is the author and finisher of our faith, make both you and us partakers always. Amen.
ARGUMENTS LAID DOWN BY MR. JOHN YATES,
preacher in norwich,
to prove ordinary prophecy in public, out of office,
ANSWERED BY JOHN ROBINSON.
Argument First.—Mr. J. Yates.
“From the commission of Christ, John xx. 21–23, all prophecy in public is to remit and retain sins; and Christ grants this power to none but such as he sends, ver. 21, and ordains thereunto, ver. 22. But men out of office are neither sent nor ordained thereunto, therefore in public ought not to meddle with the power of the keys. I know the exception will be this, that many out of office have prophesied, the Scriptures approving it. I answer, an ordinary rule is never infringed by an extraordinary example, but ever by an ordinary. To marry my sister is incest, yet in Cain it was no incest, because the example was extraordinary. I may not steal; and yet it was lawful for the Jews to rob the Egyptians, because that was God's extraordinary permission. Extraordinary examples, as they make no rules, so they break none; but ordinary examples must ever follow the rule; and if they do not, they break it. Christ therefore laying down a perpetual rule of binding and loosing to all such as are sent and ordained, either by himself immediately or by such as he shall appoint thereunto, it must necessarily follow that any ordinary example will break this rule, if it be not framed accordingly; therefore, I constantly affirm that no ordinary prophecy ought to be out of office. As for extraordinary, that cannot oppose this rule, because it is of another nature, and therefore is not to be limited within the compass of an ordinary rule. Secondly, I answer, that all the prophecies out of office were by the secret motion of the Spirit, which was warrant for all such as had no calling, by office, thereunto.”
That all prophecy in public (and in private also) is for the remitting and retaining of sins I acknowledge: but that Christ grants this power to none but to such as he sends and ordains by the commission given, John xx. 21, &c., I plainly deny, and require his proof. He should then grant it to none but to apostles; for the commission there given is peculiar to such, conveyed to them immediately from Christ, confirmed by the miraculous in-breathing of the Holy Ghost, and by them to be exercised and dispensed principally towards unbelievers; of all which, nothing is common to ordinary officers. As Christ then gives power of binding and loosing sins to the apostles there, so elsewhere to ordinary pastors. Eph. iv. 8–12. Elsewhere to the whole church gathered together in one, Matt. xviii. 17, 18; 1 Cor. v. 4; 2 Cor. ii. 6–10; and lastly, in other places, to every faithful brother, confessing Jesus Christ. Matt. xvi. 18, 19, and chap, xviii. 15; Luke xvii. 3. And since the power of binding and loosing sins is only by way of manifestation and declaration of the Word of God, the law, and the gospel; look unto whom the Word of God is given, unto him the power of binding and loosing, sins is given, though to be used by divers states of persons after a diverse order, which order doth, in no sort, abolish the being of the thing, but only preserves it from confusion.
And where he takes it for granted that the examples for prophesying out of office, in the Scriptures, were extraordinary, as Cain's marrying his sister, and the Jews' (the Israelites he should say ) stealing from the Egyptians, his comparisons are without compass, and his affirmation without truth. These their practices were against the light of nature, and moral law, then written in the tables of men's hearts, and afterwards written in the tables of stone, save as there was an extraordinary dispensation by the Lord of the law, and God of nature. But what like is there in this that a man, out of office, having received a gift of God (whether extraordinary or ordinary) by which he is enabled to prophesy, that is to speak to edification, exhortation, and comfort of the church, should so use the same good gift of God, in his time and order? What eclipse is here of the light of nature, or violation of natural honesty? If Mr. Yates had remembered the law which forbade men to plough with an ox and ass together, Deut. xxii. 10, he would not thus have yoked together things of so unlike kind.
And for the secret motion of the Spirit by which, in his second answer he affirmeth “that all prophecies out of office were,” he speaketh both that which is true and against himself. For what were these secret motions of the Spirit, but the prophets' zeal for God's glory, and man's good? which also were sufficient on their part, for the use of the gift, whether ordinary or extraordinary; whether in men, in office or out of office, it was not material. So that for the use even of an extraordinary gift there was required (at least at all times) no extraordinary motion of the Spirit, but only that which was, and is, ordinary to them and us. God therefore for his own glory, and the good of his people, giving the gift, whether extraordinarily or ordinarily unto a man, he hath warrant sufficient from his zeal to God's glory, and man's salvation, to use the same gift in his time, place, and order. Of which hereafter.
Mr. Yates. Argument Second.
“From the execution of a public function in the church. Prophecy ordinary, is by preaching to bring the glad tidings of peace and good things to God's people; and this the apostle says is not warrantable without sending. Rom. x. 15. We must feed the flock because we are set over it, Acts xx. 20; to prophesy to God's people is an honourable calling, and none ought to take it upon him but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. Heb. v. 4. The place of Judas is called a charge, Acts i. 20; the ministers are the light of the world. Matt. v. 14. Stars in the right hand of Christ. Rev. i. 20. John was a man sent from God. John i. 6. Christ sent his apostles in the midst of wolves. Matt. x. 16. I have not sent these prophets, saith the Lord, and yet they ran. Jer. xxiii. 21. As many as found not their genealogy to be from Levi (from Aaron he should say) were put from the priesthood. Neh. vii. 64. All these places keep us to an ordinary rule, and for all ordinary prophesying there can be no exception from it, without an open breach thereof; as for all your places of prophesying out of office, they are all of them to be understood of the extraordinary; which cannot be tied to ordinary rules. For so we should abridge God of his liberty: but we must beware of imitation, lest we become licentious.”
Here is a long harvest for a small crop. All that can be gathered hence, either by reaping or gleaning, is no more, than that no man may exercise a public function, or office of ministry in the church, without a lawful sending or calling from the Lord, by the means which he has sanctified, which, as it concerneth Mr. Yates well to consider of, especially reckoning, as he professedly doth, his genealogy from the Pope of Rome; so doth it not impeach our prophets at all, who have a lawful calling for the use of their gift, though not so solemn, neither need they, as they who are to exercise and fulfil a constant ministry and charge. But for the word “sending,” which he so much urgeth, it must be known, that as all that teach lawfully, whether in office or not, are sent by Christ in respect of their personal gifts and graces, so ordinary officers are not sent by those who appoint them to minister, as were the extraordinary apostles sent by Christ, who appointed them. Sending importeth a passing of the sent from the sender to another; and so the apostles were sent by Christ to preach the gospel to the Jews and Gentiles; but so are not pastors sent by the church, which calleth them, unto others, but by her appointed to minister unto herself. They who were, in their time, apostles, were first called in their persons by Christ to be his disciples, that as apostles afterwards they might be sent to minister: they who are pastors, are sent by Christ, first as members, or in their persons and personal gifts, that as pastors they may afterwards be called to minister. And that Mr. Yates may have for the calling of our prophets, whereon to insist, thus we practise. After the exercise of the public ministry ended, the rulers in the church do publicly exhort, and require that such of their own or other church, as have a gift to speak to the edification of the hearers, should use the same; and this, according to that which is written, Acts xiii. 14, &c., where Paul and Barnabas coming into the synagogue, the rulers, after the work of the ordinary ministry was ended (considering them not as apostles, which they acknowledged not, but only as men having gifts) sent unto them, that if they had any word of exhortation to the people, they should say on.
Mr. Yates. Argument Third.
“From the true causes of prophecy in the New Testament, which are two, either immediate revelation, or imposition of hands; the first is Acts ii. 17, and x. 44; the second, Acts viii. 1 7, and xix. 6. A third cause of public prophecy cannot be given; therefore, ordinary prophecy in public, out of office, being neither by immediate revelation, nor imposition of hands is unlawful. You may say the contrary, but it will be without all warrant of the Word.”
In this argument are sundry errors, logical and theological. And first, Why doth he not make Christ's breathing upon the apostles, John xx. 22, and the descending and sitting of the cloven fiery tongues upon them, Acts ii. 3, 4, causes of prophecy, as well as imposition of hands? Secondly, Imposition of hands is no cause at all of prophecy, to speak properly, as Mr. Yates should do, affecting the name of a logician. It is no natural cause; for to imagine that men took the Holy Ghost in their hands and reached it to others, were ridiculous; neither is it a moral cause, as in it there are propounded no arguments and motives of persuasion. It is, indeed, no more than a sign denoting the person, not a cause effecting the thing. Thirdly, If it were a cause, yet should it not be made the member of a division opposed to revelation, but a cause or means subordinate unto it, as unto the end; since it served to the conveying of the Spirit, by which Spirit all revelation is, and by revelation, all prophecy—extraordinary by immediate revelation, ordinary by mediate—both which, then, were in the church, as is the latter now, even in men out of office, by means of their study, and God's blessing upon the same, else could there never be lawful office, pastor or teacher chosen in the church to the world's end. The gift of prophecy comes not by the office, but being found in persons before, makes them capable of the office by due means.
Mr. Yates. Argument Fourth.
“From distinction of spiritual gifts, administrations, and operations. 1 Cor. xii. 4–6. All these are to be referred to that general, ver. 1. Gifts, therefore, in this place must be but one kind of spiritual gifts, and be distinguished from the other two. The first, then, are merely gifts; the second, gifts and offices together; the third, rather the effect of a gift, than the gift itself; and, therefore, the Holy Ghost knowing how to speak aptly, gives more to the effect, than the cause; the work, than the worker; for, in truth, miraculous works exceed all the virtue that possibly can be imagined to be in a mere creature; and, therefore, it is only a passive belief, or faith, whereby man is rather a patient than an agent in the work. These three general heads are divided again, or rather exemplified by many particulars. First, ver. 8— 10, all lay down a kind of spiritual gifts; 1, a word of wisdom; 2, a word of knowledge; 3, of miraculous faith; 4, of healing; 5, operations of great works; 6, prophesying; 7, discerning of spirits; 8, of tongues; 9, of interpretation. That some of these gifts are extraordinary, no wise man will deny; yet that I may prove them all extraordinary, consider three things: First, the cause; secondly, the effect; thirdly, the subject. The cause without all doubt is the Spirit; yet question, may be of the manner and measure. For manner, whether the Spirit alone, or the Spirit assisting our industry and pains. I say alone, because all these effects depend equally upon the same cause; and I have no reason to say, that prophecy should he more by my pains and industry, than strange tongues, or any other gifts: for then I should magnify the Holy Ghost in one gift more than another. That which is given by the sole operation of the Spirit is more than that which is come by, through ordinary pains. I bless God for his ordinary providence, where my hand goes with the Lord in any ordinary affairs. But wherein I find the Lord do for me where I had no hand, there I ought to magnify him much more. So in these gifts, if some were ordinary, some extraordinary, then the Spirit should not have equal praise in them all. The orator, proving Cæsar to deserve more praise for his clemency towards Marcellus, than all his famous victories, useth the manner of the cause to show it. ‘ In thy wars, 0 emperor! thou hadst captains and soldiers, virtue and valour, weapons and munition, &c.; but sparing Marcellus thou alone didst it, to thee alone it belongs, and all the glory of it.’ So, if prophecy in this place, above all the rest, must come in for an ordinary gift, then may I say, ‘ O blessed Spirit, prophecy is thy gift! yet do I acknowledge thy ordinary blessing upon my labours in this; but as for strange tongues and the rest, I acknowledge they are thy mere gifts, without all pain and labour of mine; therefore the greater praise I give thee.’ Were not this to diminish prophecy in regard of the rest, which the Holy Ghost prefers before them all? and, therefore, did show as great power in that gift as in any other. The manner, then, being all one in giving, the second question is, whether they were given in the same measure. I answer, No. Rom. xii. 6. And, hereupon, the apostle commanded that one prophet should be subject to another, and willingly yield place to him, that had the greater measure. I leave the cause, and come to the effects, which learned men cannot distinguish. I will show you my judgment, and follow it as you please. To the two first gifts is given a word, by words we express our meanings, therefore, the Spirit doth not only give a gift, but an ability and power to utter that gift for the greatest good of the hearers. Brother, it is the part of a divine, to study for apt and fit words; and, indeed, when God hath given us learning by exceeding great pains, yet we find great imperfection for want of words. Now, here I learn that the Spirit of God did extraordinarily supply this want, by giving unto men excellent utterance of heavenly things. The first two gifts are wisdom and knowledge; wisdom is a holy understanding of heavenly things, with a prudent application of them to their several uses. Knowledge, or science, is an insight into divers heavenly truths, yet wanting that prudent application; these two gifts with a fruitful utterance of them, could be no ordinary gifts studied out by their own pains, but such as the Holy Ghost did immediately inspire into them. I should be very glad to hear that your congregations were full of these wise and understanding men, then 1 doubt not but you would the sooner recal yourselves. The three next gifts of faith, healing, and great works, are undoubtedly extraordinary, and were never to be obtained by any study of ours. For the four last, I doubt not but you will grant three of them extraordinary. Discerning of spirits was not by ordinary means, but extraordinary, as you may see in Ananias and Sapphira, Simon Magus, and others, which were seen by an extraordinary spirit. For strange tongues, I hope you will not stand in granting it, if you consider but the first original of them, Acts ii. 2–4, and for interpretation of these tongues, that was as difficult as the other: why should you now stick at prophecy, which I will plainly show is more difficult than both the rest? For how should either you, or I come to be able to prophesy, except there were some skilful in the original tongues, as likewise the helps of commentaries and interpretations? You see God appointed these as means to help us to prophesy; and where they are wanting, it is simply impossible for any man to become an ordinary prophet. Indeed, the Holy Ghost can supply the want of both these, and therefore will you, nill you, it must be granted that this prophecy was extraordinary. For take away the ordinary means of prophecy, and then the thing itself will cease. Now, you may plainly understand that the primitive church had not these means of prophecy, that you see we have: they had not the original tongues translated, and therefore God gave men extraordinary gifts in speaking and interpreting them. See, then, I intreat you, how these two means being extraordinary, enforce you to yield the other of the same nature. Were it possible for you to become a prophet, wanting the translation of the New and Old Testament, as likewise all interpretations with which, now, through God's blessing the whole work is replenished? I know you will answer, and say No; then say, prophecy in the primitive church was extraordinary, because the Gentiles had not ordinary translations and interpretations of them.”
If I should follow Mr. Yates in his course, I should rather write one sermon against another, than bring an answer to an argument. Briefly then as I can, omitting other things to that which concerns directly our present purpose; his affirmation that the gifts mentioned, 1 Cor. xii., are only extraordinary, I do deny and answer his reasons as followeth, and, First: that, contrary to his unreasonable reason, we both may and ought to magnify the Holy Ghost more in one gift than another, since the same Holy Ghost worketh more excellently and for our good in one gift than in another. Secondly: as a further truth and more contrary to his strange assertion, that in some works of the Spirit, though not here expressed, in which the Lord useth our industry and care, he is infinitely more to be magnified, than in any whatsoever, the immediate and miraculous work of the same Spirit, wherein he useth it not; for example, in saving faith and repentance: for the working of which by his Spirit, God useth our careful hearing and meditation of his Word, the law and gospel. Thirdly: compare we even extraordinary gifts with extraordinary; we see that God used the industry, and pains of the extraordinary prophets, for the reading and meditating in and of the law, Dan. ix. 13, and of the latter prophets, of the former prophets’ writings. Dan. ix. 2. As also of the apostles in the reading, knowledge and memory of them both; yea, even of the very heathen authors whose sayings they sometimes quote in their prophecies or sermons, Acts xvii. 28; Rom. iv. 3–10; 1 Cor. xv. 33; Tit. i. 12; 2 Tim. iv. 13; the like industry or care not being required for the gift, or use of strange tongues, and yet did the Holy Ghost much more excellently utter itself in their prophecies and sermons, than in their tongues, as Mr. Yates oft and truly affirmeth.
Upon ver. 8 he rightly describeth wisdom, “a holy understanding of heavenly things, with a prudent application of them to their several uses and knowledge; an insight into divers heavenly things, yet wanting that prudent application, with the fruitful utterance of them;” but, that these could be no ordinary gifts, studied out by their own pains, but such as the Holy Ghost did immediately inspire into them, he barely affirmeth; and I think, singularly, but am sure, untruly. I marvelled what he would say to these two gifts of wisdom and knowledge, to prove that they could not be ordinary, and did expect some special reasons for his so singular interpretation; but, behold a bare bone of affirmation brought by him, without marrow, flesh, skin, or colour of proof. Wherein he is also the more blameworthy, considering that he cannot be ignorant, how the most judicious both at home and abroad, do understand these two gifts as meant of the two special qualifications of the pastor and teacher, ordinary gifts of ordinary offices; of which ministries amongst the rest ordained by Christ, the one Lord of his church, the apostle speaketh ver. 5, as ver. 4 of their gifts by that one Spirit. Which ordinary gifts, all lawful pastors and teachers, ordinary offices, then had, and besides them, many others not in office. And by the grace of God, some amongst us, and that by the help of nature, study, and prayer, and the blessing of God's Spirit thereupon; which blessing of God I will not deny to have then been for degree extraordinary upon men's weaker endeavours for their furnishing with these ordinary gifts; which makes nothing against our purpose. That the gift of faith is undoubtedly extraordinary, is said by him, but doctors have doubted of it. See for one, Beza, in his great annotations upon the words, both affirming and proving, that by faith is meant an assent unto the doctrine propounded, which is an. ordinary gift of the Spirit.
Where he makes no doubt, but we will grant that three of the four last were extraordinary, he but “threaps kindness” upon us, as we use to say. That Peter's gift of discerning was extraordinary in the case of Ananias, Acts v., we confess, but not so in the case of Simon Magus, Acts viii., of whom he judgeth by his words, as of the tree by the fruit, in which he did notoriously betray himself to be in the gall of bitterness, to the discernment of any ordinary Christian. The gift of discerning both of doctrine and manners, is in a measure required of every Christian, Phil. i. 9, 10; 1 John iv. 1; Heb. v. 14; but is bestowed by the Giver thereof upon some more liberally; sometimes extraordinarily, as then upon some, in some cases; sometimes ordinarily, as both then and now on all such as had, and have more Christian discretion than other men.
That interpretation of tongues was as difficult as strange tongues immediately inspired, is not true. They who, Acts ii.6–8, heard the apostles speak in their own tongue, and were able to speak the Jews’ language then in use, might interpret these strange tongues unto the Jews without any extraordinary gift; as Mr. Yates hearing a glorious formalist speak much Latin in his sermon, can interpret that strange tongue of his unto the people, without any extraordinary gift of interpretation; and so might it well be in the church of Corinth with some, though the tongue were given extraordinarily.
Lastly, It doth not show plainly that prophecy was more difficult than strange tongues, though all were true which he speaks of the difficulty thereof. For, by all reason and experience, a man then might, and now may, become an ordinary prophet for ability, by ordinary helps; but so neither could, nor can he speak a strange tongue, as there meant, but by extraordinary inspiration. That simple necessity of commentaries and interpretations which he requireth for a man's becoming an ordinary prophet, I dare not acknowledge; of great use they are, but not of simple necessity; that prerogative royal of simply necessary, I would challenge as peculiar to the holy Scriptures; which are able to make the man of God perfect, fully furnished to every good work, 2 Tim. iii. 16,1 7; but where he adds that the primitive church had not the original tongues translated, it is something for his, yea, and for the Pope's purpose also, if it be true, and that the church, especially some good space after her constitution, might be without the Scriptures in a known tongue. But how unadvised and unskilful is he in so saying! How detracting from God's gracious providence towards His Church! and how partial on the clergy's part, and against the commonalty of God's inheritance! For the thing then. The Old Testament was wholly translated by the seventy interpreters, at the instance of Ptolemy Philadelphus, King of Egypt, into Greek, the mother tongue of the Corinthians; Corinth being in Achaia and Achaia in Greece, in which, the same tongue, they had also every part of the New Testament then written, as the most was. Which language was also so universally known throughout the whole world, by reason partly of the Greek monarchy under Alexander, and partly of the Greek learning at Athens, as that the apostle could write his Epistle in Greek to the Romans. though in Europe, as understanding the tongue sufficiently. Besides the Corinthians had had Paul's and other apostolical men's preachings and conferences amongst them a long time; which were incomparably better than all the commentaries in the world. And for the Corinthians’ ability for this work, it is but reason we respect this apostle's testimony of them, which is, that they were enriched in all utterance and in. all knowledge. 1 Cor. i. 5. In which two gifts as the ability for ordinary prophecy doth properly consist, so to appropriate them unto extraordinary prophets, considering the generality of the apostle's speech and drift, with other circumstances elsewhere observed, were to fetter them in unjust bonds of restraint.
And having thus wiped off his colours of reason, that the apostle, 1 Cor. xii., speaks only of extraordinary gifts, I will, by the grace of God, plainly show the contrary; and that he speaks of ordinary also. And first: in teaching, ver. 3, that no man can call Jesus the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost, he points out a gift and grace of the Spirit, ordinary and common to all Christians; secondly, ver. 5, he speaks of diversities, that is, of all the divers and several ministries, ordinary and extraordinary, in the church under Christ the Lord; and ver. 4, of the several gifts for the same, and so necessarily of the ordinary gifts for the ordinary ministries then and now; thirdly, from ver. 8, where mention is made of the word of wisdom, and the word of knowledge, ordinary gifts of ordinary persons, both in and out of office now and then; fourthly, ver. 12, he compares the church at Corinth to a body having Christ the head, and each of them members for their parts: of whom, one had this gift, another that, given of God for their mutual good; but by them abused otherwise. Whereupon I conclude, except there were in Corinth no ordinary gifts in pastors, teachers, or others, of God given, and by them abused, that he speaks not of extraordinary gifts only; fifthly, ver. 28, after apostles and prophets, he mentioneth teachers, which were ordinary officers, and therefore speaks of ordinary gifts and teaching; as also, helpers and governors, who, what were they but deacons and elders? Or take the words as they are, “helps and governments,” than which, what is now, or was then, more ordinary both in respect of ministry and gifts? Whereupon, I conclude with good assurance, that the apostle, 1 Cor. xii., treats of the gift of the Spirit both extraordinary and ordinary.
Mr. Yates. Argument Fifth.
“From comparison of prophecy and strange tongues, which are laid together through all the 1 Cor. xiv. ver. 1, prophecy is preferred before all other spiritual gifts, which cannot be ordinary: for no ordinary and common gift is to be preferred before all extraordinary and spiritual gifts. But, you will say, though it be not more excellent, yet it is more profitable. I answer, it is both more excellent and more profitable; for the apostle intends both extolling it for the end, which shows how good and excellent it is, as likewise for the use, making known the profit and benefit of it. That which is the beat object of our desire, must needs be the best; but, of spiritual gifts, prophecy is the best object of our desire. 1 Cor. xii. 31. Desire the best gifts, chap. xiv. 1. Covet spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. Secondly: as it is the best to ourselves, so it is the best to others, as may appear by the whole chapter. Thirdly: all other gifts are given for the good of prophecy, and not prophecy for them. As it is the best gift, so it is the most profitable, as being especially for edification, exhortation, and comfort. But it may be you will object, Is not an ordinary gift of prophecy better than the extraordinary gift of tongues, or at least, more profitable? I answer, No. For the tongues, Acts ii. 3, 4, were more profitable to the church than ever was the ordinary gift of any men. But compare ordinary with ordinary, and extraordinary with extraordinary, and we grant prophecy the privilege.”
To this argument, he himself gives a sufficient answer in our name, only he sets it down something lamely; where, if it came in the full strength, it would easily withstand the force of his argument. For where he should say for us, if he spake out, that ordinary prophecy is more excellent than tongues, because more profitable; he makes us to stammer thus, though it be not more excellent, yet it is more profitable, it being most plain that the apostle prefers prophecy before tongues, because it tends more to edification of the church; according to which respect alone we are to measure the excellency of church ordinances, and so to frame the object of our desire unto them. But what speak I of more excellent, and more to edification, since the strange tongues as there used without an interpreter, were so far from being comparable to ordinary prophecy, for any good end or use, as they were on the contrary, most vain and ridiculous, as appears, ver. 11, 22, 23. That, then, which he brings for the commendation of tongues from Acts ii. 3, 4, is nothing for tongues as used at Corinth. The former were, as of simple necessity in themselves, and to the apostles, for the spreading of the gospel unto all nations, so then and there profitably used; but in Corinth, ambitiously and profanely abused, which Mr. Yates should have observed, but hath not in his comparison. Lastly, I add, as a just answer to whatsoever he hath objected, that tongues considered in themselves, how rightly soever used, are not comparable for use; and so for excellency unto ordinary prophesying or preaching considered in itself; seeing that by it, as well as by extraordinary, saving faith is wrought, Rom. x. 14, 17; which none can say of strange tongues in themselves, without a strange tongue both from truth and sense; no, nor of any other spiritual gift. And as it doth not appear by the apostle's preferring of prophecy before tongues, that therefore the prophecy was extraordinary, so it appears unto me, by the Corinthians’ preferring of tongues before it, that it was but ordinary, and therefore disregarded by them in comparison of the extraordinary and miraculous gift of tongues; whereas, had it also been extraordinary, immediate, and miraculous, most likely it would have carried with it, the like with the other, or greater regard in their eyes.
Mr. Yates. Argument Sixth.
“From exemplification, ver. 6, ‘ If I come unto you, &c.,’ I hope you will grant that the apostle Paul had all those spiritual gifts; and therefore speaking of such prophecy as he had himself, he must needs speak of extraordinary. Likewise, he had the knowledge of tongues, and yet prefers prophecy before all his languages, though ‘he spake more than they all.’ Now the example in his own person, must needs set forth the general; and, therefore, if, in the general, he should speak of ordinary prophesying, and in the particular of extraordinary, it would prove idle; for an example is of the same kind with the general. Again, in bringing four particulars, he puts revelation first, as the cause of all the rest, which shows plainly he speaks of such prophecy as came by revelation, for revelation brings a man knowledge, and knowledge teacheth wholesome doctrine, and prophecy serveth to utter it.”
I do plainly deny the ground upon which he builds the whole weight of his argument, which is, that the example and the thing exemplified must be of the same kind. How oft doth Christ exemplify the sufferings of his disciples by his own sufferings, and the sending of his apostles, by his Father's sending of him? Were they, therefore, of the same kind; their sufferings meritorious, and their sending mediatorious, because his were such? But amongst other evidences against him, wherewith all writings, divine and human, are stored, see one fitly pairing with this in hand. The apostle provoking the Galatians, chap. i. 6, unto just detestation of such as preached another gospel amongst them, takes an example from his own preaching, ver. 8: “But though we, or an angel from heaven preach another gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” As if he should say, I have preached unto you formerly justification by faith, without the works of the law of Moses; they now preach unto you justification by the works of the law joined with Christ, &c. He exemplifieth their preaching by his: were they therefore of one kind, both apostolical because Paul's was such? It is sufficient for an example, if it agree with the thing which it is brought to exemplify, in that for which it is brought. And so the coming of Christ to judgment is by the apostle exemplified by the coming of a thief in the night, 1 Thess. v. 2. Are therefore their comings of the same kind? or is it not sufficient that, being most contrary in their kind, they do yet agree in the adjunct of suddenness? So is it sufficient, if Paul's extraordinary prophesying, and the Corinthians’ ordinary, agree in the adjunct or effect of profitableness or edification, which thing alone, the apostle in his exemplification hath respect unto. His observation about revelation seems true and good in itself, but shows not plainly that for which he brings it; no, nor hath so much as a plain show for it. For what show hath it of proof that he speaks of extraordinary prophecy, because it comes from revelation, except he takes it for granted, that there is in the church no revelation of the Spirit for teaching but extraordinary, or miraculous; which how can I grant, or he affirm? Of this more, in Argument 8.
Mr. Yates. Argument Seventh.
“From the fruition of spiritual gifts, 1 Cor. xiv. 26, hath a psalm, that is, some admirable praise of God, or doctrine, that is, some worthy point of instruction, or a tongue, that is, can speak mysteries with admiration, or revelation of some secrets either for doctrine or prediction. Lastly, or interpretation, whether of tongues, doctrines, or Scripture: all these must needs be had either by the ordinary pains of the church, or by the extraordinary gift of the Spirit; you say, by the one, and I say, by the other: and that I agree more with the Scripture than yourself, consider but the distinction of the gifts, and their admirable matter. A psalm must needs consist of metre, which required art to compose it. Secondly: it could not, for the matter of it, but sound forth some worthy praise of God. Do you think the Corinthians did study the art of music, or likewise read some admirable Divine books to find out sweet matter to make their songs of? Alas, brother, give God the glory, it was no doubt some sudden motion of the Spirit, that did inflame the hearts of believers with some worthy matter of praising God. Doctrine, that is, laid down by our ordinary pains, is that which we usually give unto doctors, which after long study, and reading the Scriptures, is drawn to some profitable heads, pithily proved, and contrary errors refuted by it. I think in Corinth, there were none of these doctors, and yet I doubt not but they were as excellent; for such doctors as delivered these doctrines, had them after a more easy manner; even the immediate work of the Spirit. I hope without any further dispute you will yield that the having of a strange tongue was extraordinary, as likewise the revelation, and interpretation.”
Not to meddle with his description of a psalm, doctrine, &c., further than concerns our present occasion: The first, a psalm, was not so undoubtedly as he maketh it, some sudden, to wit, extraordinary motion of the Spirit, &c. The Scriptures rather insinuate the contrary, and that these psalms and spiritual songs were also, beside the psalms of David, and those then made by extraordinary motion, which I will not deny, even ordinary, and conceived by ordinary men and motions, Eph. v. 18, 19; Col. iii. 16; James v. 13. The Scriptures are to be extended as largely, and to as common use as may be, neither is anything in them to be accounted extraordinary, save that which cannot possibly be ordinary, which these might be. For the finding out of sweet matter, they had admirable Divine books to read, even the wonderful Divine Scriptures. For music, as without doubt many in that most rich and delicate city were expert in it, so what reason he hath to require for the church singing then in use, such study and art, I see not, except it be because he dwells too near a cathedral church. He may see, for the plainness of singing used in former times (and before the spouse of Christ, the church in all her ordinances, was by Antichrist stripped of her homely but comely attire, and tricked out with his whorish ornaments) that which Austin hath of this matter. Confess, lib. x. c. 13.
For the second, which is doctrine, he but thinks there were no doctors in Corinth; but he may well change his thoughts, if he both consider how that church abounded, in the body of it, even to excess, in all knowledge and utterance, the doctors’ two special faculties; as also, how this apostle, in this Epistle, ch. xii., ver. 28, affirmeth expressly, that God had set in the church amongst other officers, doctors or teachers: besides that, it is enough for my purpose, if there were any in Corinth, though not officers able by ordinary gift to deliver doctrine: which, considering the fore-signified state of that church, both in respect of Paul's ministry among them, and testimony of them, being in that city which was the chief of all Greece for government, (Greece also being the fountain of learning and eloquence) cannot I think be reasonably denied.
To yield you without further dispute, that revelation and interpretation were, viz. only, the immediate work of the Spirit, were in us, more courtesy than wisdom. For interpretation, I see not, but that either he himself who spake the tongue by an extraordinary gift, or any other man that understood it, having ordinary ability to interpret the matter delivered, both lawfully might, and in conscience ought so to do; except he would quench the Spirit both in respect of the extraordinary gift of the tongue, and ordinary gift of interpretation, but that the pastor or teacher might not do this by his ordinary gift, which is yet a fort, strong enough to keep us from yielding, were strange to imagine. Besides, let it be noted how the apostle, ver. 13, exhorts to pray for the gift of interpretation. Now, how a man might pray for an extraordinary and miraculous gift, which he wholly wanted, without an extraordinary motion, or promise, and merely upon the apostle's exhortation general, I see not, but would learn of him that could teach me.
Mr. Yates. Argument Eighth.
“From present revelation, ver. 30. In the verse going before is laid down in what order they shall prophesy, even as it was before for strange tongues: yet here is a further injunction and that is of silence, if anything of more weight shall be revealed unto another: why should the other keep silence if it were known before that this man should speak after him? If it were ordinary prophesying, and such as our pains and study brought us unto, then were it fit that we should have our liberty to go on and not be interrupted by another: but the apostle, upon the revelation to another even sitting by, enjoins silence to the present speaker, which if his revelation had been studied before, could not be any motive or persuasion why he should yield to the other, that is, now upon the sudden, to take his place: this were for one prophet to disgrace another: but the clear sense is to any man that will not wrangle, that because it pleaseth the Spirit to inspire one sitting by, with some more excellent matter, either in regard of the same subject or some other, the apostle enjoins silence.”
To his question, Why the former speaker should keep silence, if it were known before that a second should speak after him? It is easily answered; that even therefore he was to keep silence; that is, to take up himself, in due time, as being to think, in modesty, that the conduits of the Spirit of God did not run into his vessel alone, but that others also might receive of the fulness of the same Spirit, to speak something further to the edification of the church. Especially sitting down in some appointed place which it should seem, ver. 30, and Acts xiii. i 4, he that purposed to prophesy used to take, and which order I think the Jews yet observe in their synagogues. And where he adds, that if it were ordinary prophecy, and such as our study brought us unto, then were it fit we should have our liberty to go on, and not to be interrupted by another, which he also accounts a disgracing of the former; I would know of him whether it were not as fit, and much more, that the extraordinary prophets immediately inspired by the Holy Ghost, and who could not err, should have their liberty to go on uninterrupted? Is not this without all compass of reason, that the extraordinary prophet immediately inspired, should not have as much liberty to go on without being interrupted, as the ordinary, who might worthily deserve to be interrupted for speaking untruly or impertinently? Although I do not think that the apostle requires any interrupting of the former by the latter, which were rude if not worse, but only a convenient cession or place-giving to a second by the first speaker, as hath been said. Now the exception of disgrace to the former by the latter's speaking is well to be minded, that it may appear, how evil customs do infect the minds of godly men, so as they think it a disgrace that one should give place to another, to speak after him, further or otherwise than hehath done. But it was not so from the beginning: but since they, who under Christ, should be servants of the church, have been her masters, and have exercised this magisterial teaching now in use, where ordinarily, one alone in a church (divers others in divers places, better able than he, sitting at his feet continually to learn), must be heard all his life long; thinking it a disgrace, to have another speak anything further than he hath done: which was the very disease of the church at Corinth, wherein he that spake first would take up all the time himself; whereas he should in modesty have conceived, that a second or third, especially seeming provided to speak by seating themselves in the same place with him, might have something revealed further, or otherwise than he had.
Which revelation the apostle doth not oppose to foregoing study, as Mr. Yates thinketh, but unto emulation, and study of contradiction: teaching that the Spirit alone must he heard in the church, speaking by whose mouth soever. And that there is in the church an ordinary. Spirit of revelation; besides comfortable experience, these places amongst many others do clearly prove. Matt. xi. 25, 28 and xvi. 17; Eph. i. 17; Phil. iii. 15.
Mr. Yates. Argument Ninth.
“From vocation, ver. 29, 32, 37, these spiritual men are called prophets, and to imagine a prophet without a calling, is that which the Scripture will not endure; therefore all these prophets either had immediate calling from God, or mediate from men, or else they took it up themselves; the two first, we grant lawful callings, but this, intolerable. The servant of Moses says, ‘Forbid Eldad and Medad to prophesy.’ Numb. xi. 28. His reason was, because he thought they had no calling, which had been true if they had taken it up without immediate inspiration; but Moses, knowing that it was from God, wished that the like gift might be upon all God's people; so that those were true prophets for the instant, by an immediate call from God; and the text says, they added no further, showing, that as the gift ceased, so did they.”
It is true that spiritual men are called prophets, or rather prophets, spiritual men. What is it, then, that makes a spiritual man, but a gift of the Spirit? And what a prophet, ordinary or extraordinary, but the gift of prophecy, ordinary or extraordinary? “Whereupon it followeth undeniably, that so many, with us or elsewhere, as have the ordinary gift or ability to prophesy, are prophets, though out of office. In this argument he hath made a snare, wherewith himself is taken unavoidably. Secondly, We affirm that our prophets have a calling, which I have declared formerly, not to make them prophets by condition or estate, for that, they are by their gift, but for the use or exercise of the same gift before bestowed upon them by the Lord, through their labour and industry. Of Eldad's and Medad's prophesying, we shall speak hereafter; only note we, in the meanwhile, how Mr. Yates, and rightly, apportioneth their prophesying to their gift, as we do also ours, according to that of the apostle, “having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or a ministry, let us wait on the ministry.” Rom. xii. 6, 7. They, then, that have a gift, must prophesy according to their proportion.
Mr. Yates. Argument Tenth.
“From distinction, ver. 37, the apostle from the whole church, turns himself to their prophets and spiritual men, showing plainly that these had some particular place above the rest; and he gives them special charge to observe the things he writes to the church, therefore, those were in some calling above others; and to imagine the contrary, is to run wide of the current of the whole scripture: to set men in public place without calling, is the same with confusion and disorder.”
This argument is founded upon the groundless presumption with the former: namely, that there is in the church no lawful calling for men able to prophesy, but by officing them. And for Paul's turning his speech to the prophets, ver. 37, it shows indeed that they were above the rest after a sort; and so they are with us rightly preferred before others which want that endowment of the Spirit, by which they are enabled to speak to the edification of the church.
The Confirmation of the Scriptures, and Reasons brought in my Book to prove Public Prophesying out of Office by an Ordinary Gift.
And before we come to examine Mr. Yates’ answers to the scriptures by me produced, I desire the reader to observe with me these two things: First, That I do not affirm in my book, that all the there alleged scriptures are meant of ordinary prophecy; but that the same is proved by them. Neither will he, I presume, deny, but that many things are sufficiently proved from a scripture, by necessary consequence and just proportion, besides the particular properly intended in it. Secondly, That Mr. Yates so puts the question, as that it is hard to say whether he do me or himself the more injury: viz. whether the places prove an ordinary gift of prophecy out of office. For, as I do not say that they prove the gift, but the use and exercise of the gift bestowed by God, whether ordinary or extraordinary; so neither would he have denied, had he not leaped before he looked, but that others besides ministers have an ordinary gift of prophecy. Where the apostle requires of him that desires the office of a bishop, that he be apt to teach, 1 Tim. iii. 1, 2, and able to exhort with sound doctrine, Tit. i. 9, doth he not therein most evidently teach that the gift and ability to teach, preach, and prophesy, not only may, but must both be and appear to be, in the person to be called to the office of ministry? He that is not a prophet, or hath not the gift of prophesying or preaching (for by his gift he is a prophet, and by the use of it he occupies the place of a prophet) before he be appointed a pastor, is an idol-shepherd set up in the temple of God; neither doth the office either give, or so much indeed as increase the gift, but only gives solemn commission and charge to use it. The first scripture by me brought, is Numb. xi. 29, where Moses the man of God wisheth that the whole people of the Lord were prophets, “the Lord putting his Spirit upon them.”
This place, saith Mr. Yates in his answer, speaks of the pouring out of the Spirit in an extraordinary manner, as may appear by the occasion of the speech, ver. 24, &c. Where also, in a tedious manner (as his manner is), he proveth the gift of prophesying given to the seventy elders to have been extraordinary, which, as I deny not, so neither needed he to have proved. But this I affirm, that hence is proved the lawfulness of ordinary prophesying out of office, by men enabled thereunto. And First, As Moses wisheth that all the Lord's people were prophets, the Lord giving his Spirit unto them; so the minister may, and ought to wish that the Lord would so bless the ordinary endeavours of his people now by his Spirit, as that they all might be prophets, that is, able for gifts to speak to edification. The minister who desireth not this, envieth for his own, and the clergy's sake, which Moses would not, that Joshua should do for his. Secondly, Moses makes it all one to be a prophet, and to have the Lord putting his Spirit upon a man. Now if the Lord's so giving his Spirit unto a man, as that he be thereby enabled extraordinarily to prophesy, make him an. extraordinary prophet, why should not, by due proportion, such a gift of the Spirit given by the Lord to a man, as by which he is enabled to prophesy ordinarily, serve also to make him an ordinary prophet? And so by consequence, if there be amongst us any, though out of office, so enabled to prophesy, or preach, what hindereth them from being prophets, even of the Lord's own making by his Spirit's gift and work upon their study and endeavours? And if they be prophets, then may they prophesy, which Moses also in that place insinuates; for in wishing that they were all prophets, he wisheth as well the use, as the possession of the gift. Mr. Yates may see a very learned man, Joh. Wolphius, in his Commentary upon 2 Kings xxiii., showing by this place, the liberty of private Christians that are able to speak, and teach not only in ordinary congregations, but even in most solemn councils.
The next place is 2 Chron. xvii. 7, where King Jehoshaphat sent his princes to teach in the cities of Judah, and with them the Levites, &c.
Mr. Yates accounts it a monstrous conceit that the princes should be public teachers, which, saith he, were only by their presence and authority to back the Levites: adding that the translation is mended by Junius and Tremellius, &c.; but if the Jews heard him, professing the knowledge of Moses and the prophets, so speak, they would marvel at his ignorance of a thing so frequent and evident in their writings; with whom it is, and ever hath been a received truth, that any of their (םימכח) or wise men, as they after the scriptures, Matt. xxiii. 34; 1 Cor. i. 20; Jer. xviii. 18, call them, may, and ought to teach in their synagogues without respect had to office: neither doth the translation of Junius and Tremellius by any necessity make for him: neither can it be set against me without violence to the original: from the simplicity whereof they do (with due reverence unto them be it spoken) seem unto me something to turn aside in the 8th verse. Pagninus, the Seventy Interpreters, Jerome, and all our English Bibles, carry it directly to our sense. And if the conceit be monstrous that these princes preached publicly, it is not bred only in my brain: the very same scripture having been alleged very lately by the public professor in the University of Leyden, in a solemn assembly, as expressly proving it lawful for others than ministers to teach publicly. And because much weight lieth on this ground, which yet he thinketh very sandy and light, I will make it clear to all indifferent men's judgments, that these princes, and so others in Israel, and Judah, though no Levites nor church officers, might lawfully teach and preach publicly in the temple, synagogues, and cities.
First then, all princes, magistrates, judges, and governors, were bound to open, expound, and apply the laws by which they governed, according to the several occasions offered, otherwise, they ruled by tyranny and appetite; which laws, for all the administrations even of the commonwealth, were only the written Word of God: whereupon I conclude, that if to open, expound, and apply the Word of God, be to preach and teach, they then had not only power, but charge so to do.
Secondly, It may appear what these princes of Jehoshaphat, partaking of his power, were to do in this case, by that which he himself, and other godly kings have done. The sum of his most pithy sermon we have recorded, 2Chron.xix.; unto the Judges, v. 6,7, and unto the Levites, v. 9, 10, 11; as also his divine prayer unto God in the public congregation, chap. xx. 5, 6, &c. Likewise, the excellent sermon of king Hezekiah unto the priests and Levites in the very temple, 2 Chron. xxix. 4, 5, &c.; also of Nehemiah with others, teaching the people the law of the Lord, Neh. viii. 10, the kings and princes being as shepherds to feed the people, as by government, so by instruction in the law of their God. Descend we down lower, to the time of Christ, and we shall see this matter put out of all question. Do we not read everywhere, how the Scribes, Pharisees, and lawyers, did teach publicly amongst the Jews, of whom, yet many were no Levites, or church officers, but indifferently of any tribe, Phil. iii. 5. And if it were not the received order in Israel of old, for men out of office to speak and teach in public, how was Jesus, the Son of Mary, admitted to dispute in the temple with the doctors, Luke ii. 46, and to teach and preach in'the synagogues so frequently as he did? Matt. ix. 35; Luke iv. 16, 17; and how were Paul and Barnabas sitting down in the synagogue, sent unto, after the lecture of the law, by the ruler, that if they had any word of exhortation unto the people they should say on? Acts xiii. 14,15.
But if any man shall answer that these were extraordinary persons, and so taught by an extraordinary gift, he speaks the truth, but to no purpose. For what was that to the order received in the temple and synagogues, and to the rulers thereof, who did not believe in Christ, nor acknowledge either his, or his apostles’ authority; but only admitted them unto the use of their gift, as they would have done, and did ordinarily, any other men able to teach: as also the rulers of the synagogues of the Jews do at this day.
The third place is mistaken by the printer, in omitting only one prick, which was corrected in many copies, and might easily have been observed by the reader. For Jer. 1. 45, it should be Jer. 1. 4, 5. Mr. Yates, therefore, upon that scripture refutes his own guess and not my proof.
The fourth place is Matt. x. 1, 5, 6, where Christ calling unto him his twelve disciples sends them to preach the kingdom of heaven to the lost sheep of Israel.
His answer is, That the twelve apostles were called into office, and had their calling from the first election of Christ, but had a further confirmation after, and greater measure of God's Spirit to lead them into all truth, as a justice of peace may be put in office and yet receive a further confirmation, yea, and greater means to perform his place. I affirm, on the other side, (and shall evidently prove it, God assisting me), that these twelve were not actually possessed of their apostleship till after Christ's resurrection, but were only apostles elect, as you call him the mayor elect, who hath not the office of mayor committed to him of a good space after. Neither am I herein of the mind of the Papists, to put Mr. Yates out of fear, that Peter was not in office until Christ gave him charge to feed his sheep, John xxi. 15–17, (which yet I am persuaded never Papist held of his apostleship, but of his primacy and universal headship, or bishopric) but of the same mind whereof himself is, in his first argument, to wit, that his commission apostolic was actually conferred upon him jointly with the rest. John xx. 32, 23.
Now if the commission apostolic were but then given, they were but then, and not before, actually apostles; except he will say they were apostles before they had commission, that is, calling from Christ so to be. T would now see how he can salve the wound which he hath given himself.
Secondly, After that the Lord Jesus had, Matt. xi. 11, preferred John the Baptist above all the prophets which were before him, he yet adds in the same place, that the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. The least, i. e. the least minister. In the kingdom of heaven, i. e. in the church of the new testament properly called, which began not till after the death of Christ, who lived and died a member of the Jewish church. The apostles, then, being officers of the church of the new testament, and kingdom of heaven, and not of the old Jewish church, it cannot be that they were apostles in act before Christ's death, except an adjunct can be before the subject, and an officer before the corporation in and of which, he is an officer.
Thirdly, Considering the ignorance of these disciples at that time in the main mysteries of Christ: of the nature of his kingdom, his death, and his resurrection, Matt. xx. 21; Luke xxiv. 20, 21, &e.; John xx. 9; Mark xvi. 14: as also, how utterly unfurnished they were of gifts befitting apostolical teaching, for which, as being an extraordinary dispensation, and that in the highest degree, extraordinary and infallible revelation and direction of the Spirit was requisite, wherewith they were but first, as it seemeth, sprinkled, John xx., and afterwards more plentifully filled at the day of Pentecost; they were as fit for an apostleship as David was for Saul's armour, which he could not wield or go with.
Fourthly, Besides, if they had the office of apostleship committed to them, Matt, x., how was it that they continued not their ministration in that office; but returning after a few days to their Master, Christ, continued with Mm as his disciples till his death? Christ Jesus did not keep a company of non-residents about him for his chaplains, as Mr. Yates insinuates against him.
Lastly, We are expressly taught, Eph. iv. 8, 11, when Christ ascended on high he gave gifts unto men, apostles, prophets, &c. The apostles then were first given actually at the Lord's ascension, and were before only designed to become apostles or apostles elect, but not ordained, nor possessed of any office: and therefore preached, and that with warrant from Christ, without office. The next scripture is Luke viii. 39, by Mr. Yates thus opened, Christ having delivered the man possessed, bids him go and show what great things God had done for him: and it is said he went and preached, that is, if it be to their purpose, by ordinary pains and study, he preached the gospel. And with pity upon us poor souls that cannot distinguish the publishing of a miracle, and the gift (he should say the work if he distinguished as he ought) of preaching: he addeth, that if Christ had minded to have made him a public preacher, he would first have taken him with him, and instructed him, and then have sent him abroad.
First, Let it be observed, that the word used by Mark for his preaching, κηρυσσειν is the same word which is commonly used for the most solemn preaching, that is, by the apostles and evangelists.
Secondly, Christ bids him, Mark v. 19, go home and declare how great things the Lord had done for him, and had had compassion on him; and ver. 30, he is said to have published in Decapolis (Luke hath it throughout the whole city) how great things Jesus had done for him. Which he doing, what else did he but preach, publish, and declare the great love and mercy of God in and by Jesus Christ towards miserable sinners for the curing of their bodily and spiritual maladies?
Thirdly, Where he makes the publishing of the miracle, and the preaching of the gospel diverse things, and pities us poor souls that we cannot distinguish between them, as Christ bade the women of Jesusalem not to weep for him bat themselves, Luke xxiii. 27, 28, so surely had he need to pity not us herein, but himself in his so great mistaking. Are not the miracles of Christ, storied in the Scriptures, a main part of the gospel? and the publishing of them, a part of the preaching of the gospel? And when Mr. Yates opens and publishes a miracle of Christ, as this man did, doth he not as well, and as truly preach the gospel as at any other time? Let the wise judge who is to be pitied. To shut up this point, it is said, John xx. 30, that Jesus did many other signs, &c., and ver. 31, “But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” The publishing then of the signs and miracles which Christ did, is the preaching of faith in his name to salvation: which this man, therefore did, especially amongst them which were not ignorant of the law of Moses, and promise of the Messiah to come; which by his glorious miracles, done by his own power, and in his own name, he both declared, and proved himself to be. John v. 36 and x. 37, 38. And where he adds that. Christ gave this man commission to do that which he did, but he admires who gave ours any such authority, I answer, Even the same Christ, as then immediately, so now mediately, by those unto whom he hath given authority under himself, for the ordering of the gifts of his Spirit in his church. And sufficient it is for the question between him and me, if it appear, as in this person, that Christ hath given commission to men out of office by an ordinary gift to publish, and preach in public the gospel of salvation: I do quote next in my book Luke x. 1, 9, which for that W. E. omitteth and leaves out, Mr. Yates thanketh God; but in truth he hath more cause to thank him for sparing him in a place which so pregnantly proveth the preaching of the kingdom of God by men out of office: except he can assign some new-found office, and the same but of two or three days’ lasiing as, ver. 17, to those seventy there sent.
We are in the next place to come unto John iv. 28, 29, 39, which he openeth and answereth with admiration, as the former place, with pity and compassion on this manner: “O simplicity, with contradiction to his own writing! Simplicity which cannot see between preaching of the gospel and carrying tidings of a man that told her, to wit, the woman of Samaria, of all things that ever she did. Is not this, saith she, the Christ? But besides simplicity, here is contradiction; for says Mr. Robinson, and that truly, a woman is not suffered to exercise an ordinary gift of prophecy in the church; and shall the woman of Samaria serve your turn, that it is lawful for men to exercise such a gift?”
It is indeed my simplicity to think that the gospel, as the word importeth, is nothing else but glad tidings; and that to preach the gospel, is nothing else but to carry or bring glad tidings of Christ before promised, then come into the world. It is also my simplicity to think, since by the tidings which this woman brought, many of the Samaritans believed on Christ, in a measure, ver. 39, and that without preaching of the Word of God none can believe, Rom. x. 14, 17, that therefore she preached unto the Samaritans, the same Word of God in a measure also, and that as truly and effectually, as ever Mr. Yates did to his parishioners, though she went not up into a pulpit as he does. And that he may judge aright of this matter, let him call to mind that those Samaritans received the books of Moses, as did the Jews: and as they looked for the Messiah, or Christ promised to, and of Abraham: bearing themselves for the children of the patriarchs, and true worshippers of God, as they had been, ver. 20, 28, and being so prepared were easily made as regions or cornfields white unto the harvest, ver. 35. And so this woman, by declaring unto them that, by which this Jesus, the Son of Mary, proved himself to be the Christ or Messiah promised, preached faith unto them most properly and effectually, even that main point of faith, then in controversy both in Judea, and Samaria, and Galilee, and the countries thereunto adjoining; which was, that Jesus was the Christ. I suppose Mr. Yates hath not sufficiently thought of these things, and do hope, that in godly modesty, he will suffer himself to be better informed.
And for contradiction, between these two propositions: A woman may not teach in the church, and a woman may teach out of the church, or where no church is, as it was in Samaria, it must be by other logic than I have learned: but he will then demand, as he doth, how this woman's preaching can serve my turn? I answer, very well, by good consequence of reason, thus, if a woman may lawfully teach out of the church to the begetting of faith, as this woman did, but not in the church, because she is a woman by sex: then a man, against whom that reason of restraint of sex lieth not, may lawfully teach both within, and without, the church. Of which consequence more hereafter.
Another scripture is, Acts viii. 1, 4, with chap. xi. 19–21, where it is recorded how all the church at Jerusalem were scattered abroad, except the apostles, and that they which were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the Word, &c.
Mr. Yates answereth, “that besides the apostles which were in office, there were seventy disciples, which Christ before his death had made labourers in his harvest; and therefore these might preach, or any other that had an extraordinary gift of prophecy: the one, by virtue of his office and gift together, the other, by commission from the Holy Ghost to exercise that gift which they had received on the day of Pentecost, or any other. But says your author, Compare this place with Acts xi. 19–21, and the truth will fully appear. I answer, it will fully appear against you: for Christ charged both his apostles, and likewise the seventy disciples, that they should preach to none but the Jews: and therefore it is sufficient that they had so many preachers in office already by the commission of Christ, to go through all those places: neither will I deny that there might be others whom the Holy Ghost immediately raised up to manifest the excellent gifts that were to be poured down upon the church in the primitive times.”
His answer is very dark and ambiguous, but in which are contained sundry errors evident enough. First, He makes those of the dispersion, which went about preaching the Word, to be of the seventy disciples, Luke x., and others the like furnished with an extraordinary gift of prophecy; but seems to allow them for no officers, in the beginning of his answer, when he thus speaketh: “Besides the apostles which were in office, there were seventy disciples,” &c., yet afterwards, in these words: “And therefore it is sufficient that they had so many preachers in office already, by the commission of Christ, to go through all these places,” &c., he bestows some office or other upon them. Secondly, He misseth in two scriptures, which, in his answer, he pointeth out; the former is Acts ii., where he gathereth, that others besides the twelve received the gift of prophecy extraordinary at the day of Pentecost. Second, (if I mistake not) is Matt. x. 5, 6, where he racks the edict of prohibition of Christ, laid upon the apostles, and, as he saith, upon the seventy disciples, of preaching to any but Jews, far above the reach thereof; even unto this time of the dispersion, whereas it reached only to the death of Christ, when the wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles was broken down; after which they were, by the express words of their commission, to preach to all people, beginning indeed at Jerusalem and tarrying there, till they were endued with power from on high, and so proceeding unto all nations, Luke xxiv. 47, 49, as it is also recorded, Acts xi. 20, that some of this dispersion preached the Lord Jesus to the Grecians in Antioch. Thirdly, It is plain by that which I have formerly said, that neither these seventy disciples, no, nor the twelve, were by Christ possessed of any office, before his death; no, nor yet furnished with any extraordinary gifts of prophecy: the evangelist, who knew well and is worthy to be believed, bearing also witness with me, that the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified. John vii. 39. Lastly, It is altogether unreasonable to imagine that they who were scattered, and preached abroad, being the body of the church at Jerusalem, excepting the apostles, were all officers; and little more reasonable to think that they were all extraordinarily endued with the spirit of prophecy. For, First, There is no circumstance in the text, leading that way; and to imagine extraordinary and miraculous things, without good evidence, is extraordinary licentiousness and presumption. Secondly, The only titles given unto them, are, all the church which were at Jerusalem; they that were scattered abroad; and again, chap. xi., they which were scattered abroad, some of them were men of Cyprus, and Gyrene, &c., nothing insinuating any office of ministry. Thirdly, Their preaching here and there is only noted to be by reason of their scattering hither and hither through persecution, and not of any extraordinary gift and dispensation committed unto them. Fourthly, If they had been extraordinary prophets immediately and extraordinarily inspired, there had been no need of so speedy sending of Barnabas from Jerusalem to Antioch with supply, though he were a man full of the Holy Ghost, for so were such prophets, as well as he, Eph. ii. 20, and iii. 5. I conclude, therefore, as before, that these men's preaching was by a gift and liberty, common unto them and us. The next scripture is. 1 Pet. iv. 10, 11: “As every man hath received the gift, so minister the same one to another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth, that God in all things may be glorified,” &c. “This,” saith Mr. Yates, “is little to the purpose, only thus much would the apostle persuade, that we ought to be harbourers one of another, and that without grudging, because all that we have is given us of God, who hath left us not as engrossers of his benefits, but as good disposers to his glory, and our brothers’ good?”
He that but vieweth the place without prejudice, cannot but see that the apostle would persuade more than so much; and that Mr. Yates doth injuriously inclose the apostle's words, ver. 10 with ver. 9, which, though they lie in common to both, yet belong much more to the verse following. Ver. 9, he exhorteth to hospitality, and ver. 10, riseth from that particular, to the more general use of all gifts or graces, and so ver. 11, bringeth, for example, two specialities. First, The gift of prophecy in speaking. Secondly, The ministering of the ability which God giveth, bodily or otherwise, in the church. Neither can the apostle's meaning without extreme violence be restrained to ver. 9, which speaks only of hospitality; which is, but the use or ministering of that one gift or grace of liberality. He saith in the 10th verse, “As every man hath received the gift;” that is, as one hath received this gift, another that, and every one some, so minister the same one to another; that is, so let every such person mutually in the bond of love, as ver. 8, communicate his gift; as good disposers of the manifold grace of God; that is, knowing that every one, what gift soever he hath received, is but as the Lord's steward therein. Is liberality alone a manifold grace? and hospitality alone, the ministering of a manifold grace of God? To the ministering of a manifold grace, the apostle persuades, and therefore not only that we ought to be harbourous one to another, which is but the ministering of one grace.
Two other scriptures from the Revelation follow. The former is chap. xi. ver. 3, “I will give to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.” This is meant, saith Mr. Yates, “of the two testaments, and the instruments that God should raise up to use as faithful witnesses against Antichrist: but what is this for an ordinary gift of prophecy? Surely in this, there is some extraordinary thing, because it is said God will give power, that is, give them life again, for Antichrist did kill these witnesses when he stopped the current of the holy Word of God, and shut the mouths of the ministers,” &c.
His exposition I will not deny, nor need to fear, save as with great partiality on the clergy's part, he makes the ministers of the Word of God, that is, men in office, the only faithful witnesses against Antichrist; whereas the contrary is most true; and that in Antichrist's reign no church officer, as an officer, witnessed against him, but all for him: as both having their authority by him, and binding themselves to submit their doctrine to his censure. The persons indeed that were also officers, even mass-priests, monks, and friars, witnessed some of them, against him, but so did not their offices, or they in respect of them, which is all one, but rather with him, as advantaging his state and hierarchy. Something extraordinary I do with him acknowledge to have been in them, in respect of the order then prevailing, and of the bondage spiritual under which, all, both things and persons were: as also, of the degree of their ordinary both gifts and graces, to put them forth in service of the truth: but that these witnesses against Antichrist had any extraordinary or miraculous gift of prophecy, which he insinuateth and must affirm, if he will draw them from our part, is merely imagined, both against experience and their own plea, But for the opening of this place, I refer the reader to our learned countryman, Mr. Brightman, where he shall find affirmed and proved, that these two prophets were the Holy Scriptures, and the assemblies of the faithful.
The other scripture is Rev. xiv. 6, where the angel flieth “in the midst of heaven having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the∗earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.”
“By heaven,” saith Mr. Yates, “is to be understood the visible church, and by the angel, the learned men that God had ever raised up in the midst of popery, to carry the blessed Word of God in the midst of heaven, that is, raised from the earthly corruption of Antichrist, but not as yet at the height of purity,” &c.
As I do not conceive of any such mystery in these words, “flying in the midst of heaven,” but only that these angels should roundly and clearly, especially in respect of former times, publish the gospel far and near, as is the flying of a bird in the airy heaven, or firmament, speedy and evident: so (that signified) I assent to his exposition, as being also no way prejudicial, but much advantageable to my purpose. For, if those learned and angel-like men were to publish the gospel in the midst of popery, and that, neither by any extraordinary or miraculous gift, nor by virtue of their office, then is public prophesying out of office by an ordinary gift approvable. The first part I hope he will easily grant; if not, let him name the man miraculously inspired in the midst of.popery. For the latter, the office itself, or function, was no ministry of Christ's appointment, as being the office of a friar, monk, or mass-priest, so their power to administer it, was from or by, the Pope, as universal bishop: that is, as Antichrist. In respect then of the gospel which they preached, and of their personal gifts and graces, by which they were both enabled and provoked thereunto, they were angels of God; but in regard of their office and power ecclesiastical, and hierarchical, angels of Antichrist. Besides that, when they gave their clearest testimony against Antichrist, they were, for the most part, all excommunicated out of the Church of Rome: and so being no members, could not be officers of any church. Whereupon I conclude, that the witness which they gate unto the truth, was but personal, and not ministerial, so far forth as it was of God, or by him approved. And thus it appeareth how, in the quoting of those scriptures, we have not offered abuse to God's Word, as he abuseth us, but have, with good conscience, as in the sight of God, noted them, as serving to prove lawful, public prophecy by an ordinary gift out of office.
Lastly, 1 Cor. xiv. comes into handling with the proofs thence taken; which, what weight they have shall appear after rehearsal of some more general considerations premised in my book, in the same place, for the better understanding of the point; as, first, That the church of Corinth, above all other churches, did abound with spiritual gifts, both ordinary and extraordinary. Secondly, That they abused these gifts too much unto faction and ambition. Thirdly, That thereupon the apostle takes occasion, in the beginning of the xiith chap. and so forward, to draw them to the right use of these gifts of God, which was the employment of them to the edifying of the body in love. Fourthly, and lastly, That having laid down, in chap. xiii. a full description and large commendation of that grace of love, in chap. xiv., and the beginning of it, he exhorts to prophesying, and to the study and use of that gift; which though it were not so strange a thing as was the sudden gift of tongues, nor which drew with it such wonder and admiration, yet was it more profitable for the church, and though a matter of less note, yet of greater charity, which must bear sway in all our actions.” Whereupon I lay down the first reason for brethren's (though no officers) liberty, in these words: “Because the apostle speaks of the manifestation of a gift, or grace common to all persons, as well brethren as ministers, ordinary or extraordinary, and that at all times, which is love; as also of such fruits and effects of that grace, as are no less common to all, than the grace itself, nor of less continuance in the churches of Christ, to wit, of edification, exhortation, and comfort: ver. 3, compared with 1 Thess. v. 11, 14.”
In answering the former part of the reason, he is very large but more negligent, as appears in his denying that the apostle speaks of a gift, common to all persons; and in more than denying, (for his rude term I will conceal for his credit's sake,) that it was common to all persons, at all times, admiring how I dare affirm any such thing: adding, that love was enjoined to all, but this gift only of such as did excel amongst them. Whereas, the very gift which I speak of in that place, or grace rather, as I there call it, was none other but the grace of love; as any that will may see in the reason, which general grace ought to manifest, and express itself in the edifying use of all the special gifts of the Spirit, which by it are set at work and moved, as the lesser wheels of a clock by the greater; and from which grace the apostle provoketh the church to the stirring up of the gift of prophecy, unto edification, as well now as then. And whereas, to my ground (as he puts it, and as after a sort I intend it, from ver. 3, compared with 1 Thess. v. 11, 14, viz. that since the end, which is edification, exhortation and comfort continueth, therefore the gift of prophecy also continueth,) he answereth: “ That there are many means to effect one end, and yet some of them may cease, yea all of them, and others come in their room, as, for extraordinary gifts, ordinary; and so for apostles, ordinary ministers; instancing further, in tongues, which, ver. 26, are for edification:” he neither speaks so properly as is meet, nor (all admitted which he saith) takes away the force of the argument. Strange tongues, to speak properly and pressly, as in disputing, are no means of edifying the church; but the interpretation and application of the matter of the tongues: neither doth the office of the ministry in itself edify, but the use and exercise of it, in teaching and exhorting; no, nor yet the gift of prophesying, but as it is used in speaking: as ver. 3, “He that prophesieth,” that is, useth the gift of prophecy, “speaketh unto men, to exhortation, edification, and comfort.” There being, then, no other means to edify, exhort, and comfort in the church, but prophesying, the apostle, as appeareth by the two places set together, laying these duties, from the common grace of love, as well upon brethren as officers, ordinary as extraordinary, and at all times in the church, therein gives warrant to an ordinary exercise of prophecy in the church, by men out of office, to wit, having gifts and abilities answerable, to the end of the world. The second argument is from ver. 21, where the apostle saith, “Ye may all prophesy, one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted:” he speaks of all's prophesying, as largely as of all's learning.
“This,” saith he, “is absurd. Are all the church prophets? If all may prophesy, who shall learn? The Holy Ghost says all, but that is to be understood of such as have gifts; all ought to have the gift of hearing, but the like is not prophesying; and I say this gift was extraordinary, for how could all men study the Scriptures when they had them not in their native tongues? “It were absurd indeed if I thought that every person in the church were to prophesy, but why should he challenge me, or I purge myself of this absurdity? Whereas the contrary is most evident, both in the words of the question, which are, “that others having received a gift thereunto, may, and ought to stir up the same, and to use it in the church,” and everywhere in the handling of it.” By “all,” then, I mean all that have gifts; and so take “all” for prophesying as largely, (yet in the subject, according to the received rule of expounding the notes of universality) as the other, “all” for learning. His question, “If all may prophesy, who shall learn?” is easily answered. For they who prophesy at one time, may learn at another. It is the disease of the exalted clergy, to scorn to learn anything of others, than themselves, and almost one of another. Where he further saith, that “all ought to have the gift of hearing, but the like is not prophesying,” it is true, and that every particular person in the church is not bound to have the gift; but if he speak anything to the purpose in hand, he must go further, and say, that no ordinary brethren out of office ought to have the gift of prophecy; which if it were true, then ought none to strive for fitness to become officers; neither were the reproof just, which the apostle lays not only, nor so much, if at all, upon the officers, as upon the brethren, Heb. v. 12, “that for the time they ought to be teachers.” Of his unworthy mistaking about the Scriptures not being in the Corinthians’ native tongue, which he makes the only ground of his answer (I have taken notice) elsewhere.
To conclude this argument. The apostle writing to the church of Corinth, “Ye may all prophesy one by one,” cannot be understood of extraordinary prophets, except we conceive that the body of that church was, or might be, prophets extraordinary, and miraculously inspired; which, considering the super-excellency of that state by me elsewhere laid down, is a presumption above my reach, and least of all agreeing with Mr. Yates’ judgment in his answer to the next argument, which is, that extraordinary prophecy did then begin to cease in the church.
The third argument is from ver. 34, where the apostle “restrains women from prophesying or other speaking in the church with authority, as also 1 Tim. ii. 11, 12: and in forbidding women, gives liberty to all men gifted accordingly; opposing women to men — sex to sex—and not women to officers: and again, in restraining women, shows his meaning to be of ordinary, not extraordinary, prophesying: for women immediately, extraordinarily, and miraculously inspired, might speak without restraint. Exod. xv. 20; Judges iv. 4; Luke ii. 36; Acts ii. 17, 19.
It is a piteous thing to see how Mr. Yates entangles himself about this argument, straining all the veins of his wit, if not of a more tender part, his conscience, to draw some force of answer upon it. That which hath any show of answer, either in that place, or any other throughout his tedious and perplexed discourse, I will relate and refute, confirming the argument clearly, as I am persuaded to any indifferent judgment.
His first answer, or exception is, “That it is most absurd to imagine that the Corinthian women did follow their study, and take ordinary pains to make sermons. Secondly, That extraordinary prophecy did cease; and that, not all at once, but first in women, and that the apostle therefore especially aims at them, as though, to wit, in their own judgment, the same measure were still upon them, as well as in former times, when Christ, that saves both man and woman, would extraordinarily manifest himself in both, yet first after a sufficient manifestation of his grace and goodness, he withdrew those extraordinary gifts from that sex, then afterwards from the other.” His third answer, upon which he doth most insist is, “That the apostle forbids two general faults in the women; the one that they would pray and prophesy uncovered, 1 Cor. xi. 5, imitating the Pythonesses and the Sibyls of the Gentiles in laying aside their veil, and spreading their hair against decency and comeliness. The second is, that in their husbands’ presence they would be as ready to speak as they: and therefore the apostle, finding the women to abuse this gift, prohibits the use of it, whether simply or no, he cannot judge. Fourthly, He admires by what logic this will follow; women are forbidden to prophesy, therefore men have liberty; which,” says he, “is an ill consequence.”
In his first answer, or rather exception, he mistakes both the state of the question, and also the nature of the ordinance. The question is not of the study, or ability of these women, which yet I think was greater than he maketh account of, but of their forwardness to teach, which was certainly too great. And what consequence is this? The Corinthian women were not sufficiently furnished to teach by an ordinary gift, therefore they needed not to be restrained from teaching. Nay, therefore, they needed much more such bridle of restraint to be cast upon them; especially considering their mannish boldness and immodesty, insinuated against them here, by the apostle in part, but much more, chap. xi.
Neither, for the second point, are they that speak in the exercise of prophecy to make a sermon by an hour-glass, as Mr. Yates gathers: that, were to abuse the time and wrong the gifts of others; but briefly to speak a word of exhortation as God enableth, and that, after the ministerial teaching be ended, as Acts xiii., questions also about things delivered, and with them, even disputations, as there is occasion, being part, or appurtenances of that exercise. 1 Cor. xiv. 35; Acts xvii. 2 and xviii. 4. For the prophets’ gifts and abilities then, as under the law, a “bullock or lamb that had anything superfluous or lacking in his parts might yet be offered for a free-will offering; but for a vow it was not to be accepted,” Lev. xxii. 23, so, in this exercise of prophecy, as in a free-will offering according to the gift of God, that which is less perfect and exact may far better be accepted, than if the same were presented in the pastor's vowed service and ministration.
For his second answer. As it is true that extraordinary prophecy did cease by degrees, so, is it not certain, but a mere presumption, that it ceased first in women: but most untrue it is that the apostle there aims at all at the ceasing of that gift in women. Ecclesiastical histories worthy of credit in this kind, do testify, that the stream of the Spirit was so far from being near dry at this time, as, that it ran a strong current well nigh a hundred years after, for all the extraordinary gifts thereof; as for the casting out of devils, foreseeing and foretelling things to come, healing the sick, and raising the dead, of whom, divers so raised, lived many years after; witness amongst others, Irenæus, adv. Her. lib. ii. c. 57, whom also for the same purpose Euseb., Hist. Eccl., lib. v. cap. 7, allegeth, and even for women. Evident it is by the Scriptures, that extraordinary prophecy in a very plenteous manner by them, and that, in the presence of men, continued in the church for many years after Paul's writing of this Epistle. “Philip the evangelist had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy,” and that, hi the presence of the apostle. Acts xxi. 9. Lo, four extraordinary prophetesses in one house, and the daughters of one man: so that hitherto the conduit of the Spirit of prophecy, kept his course as well upon their daughters as sons. Joel ii. 28; Acts ii. 17. So Rev. ii. 20, we read how the woman Jezebel, calling herself a prophetess, taught, and by teaching, seduced the Lord's servants in the church of Thyatira. In which place, as the errors and evils of the person are condemned, so is the formal order of the church manifested to be that women, prophetesses extraordinary, might teach. Lastly, The prohibition of women by the apostle is perpetual, and not with respect to this, or that time, as appears by the reasons thereof both in this place, and in the Epistle to Timothy, and such as equally belong to former times and latter: and no more to the latter end, than to the beginning or middle time of the manifestation of the grace and goodness of Christ.
What can be more absurd than to say that these reasons, “The woman must be under obedience, 1 Cor. xiv. 34, and not usurp authority over the man, but be in silence, because Adam was first formed, then Eve, and Adam was not seduced, but the woman,” &c. 1 Tim. ii. 12–14, were not moral and perpetual? Were not those reasons and grounds for women's silence in the church, without extraordinary dispensation by miraculous inspiration, of as great force seven years before, as when Paul wrote this Epistle? It is therefore most clear that the apostle aims not at all at any ceasing of the gift of extraordinary prophecy now going on, but at the universal and absolute restraint and prohibition of women's prophesying, not extraordinary but ordinary.
In his third answer he dealeth worse than in any of the other, in labouring to smother one truth under another. For albeit the women of Corinth were become so mannish as that they would prophesy uncovered and without their veil, the ensign of their subjection, yet doth not the apostle meddle at all with that malady in this place, but in the xith chapter of the epistle as himself noteth. Here, and in Timothy, he simply forbids the thing, there the manner of doing it. Likewise for their being as forward to speak as their husbands, and in their presence, it may be true in part, and in some. But what then? Doth the apostle in these places only forbid their speaking uncovered, and permit them to teach so it be veiled? or forbids he only their being as forward as their husbands, but gives them leave to speak in the church, so it be with good manners, and after them, which his answer insinuates? Or, is it not evident to all that will not shut their eyes, that he simply, and that severely prohibits them all speaking whatsoever in this exercise? Are not the words plain enough? “Let the women keep silence in the church, for it is not permitted to them to speak, but to be under obedience as the law saith.” And again: “It is a shame for women to speak in the church,” and in 1 Tim. ii. 12–14, “Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. And I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in subjection: for Adam was first formed,” &c. Do not all and every one of these reasons bind women to all peace and deep silence in the church, yea, to such, and so absolute, as that they may not so much as ask a question for learning anything themselves, ver, 35, much less teach others anything? I therefore conclude this as a most certain and undeniable truth, that the apostle speaks here of such a gift and exercise as women are simply forbidden to use in the church; and, therefore, not of an extraordinary gift or exercise which they might use lawfully, and did both before, and a long time after the writing of this Epistle.
His last answer now comes in consideration, which is that the “consequence is ill, women are forbidden, and therefore men are permitted to prophesy in the church by an ordinary gift.”
If the consequence seem not good, why doth he so struggle as before, otherwise, to make an escape from the argument? Let us consider of the force of it, which appeareth to me irresistible in these three things. First, The apostle in, and for this work, opposeth the men to the women, sex to sex, and so in prohibiting women, he permits men. When the Holy Ghost, opposing faith and works in the case of justification, denies that we are justified by works, is not the consequence good, that, therefore, we are justified by faith? Where he opposeth believers and unbelievers in the case of salvation, and teacheth that believers shall be saved, doth he not teach, consequently, that unbelievers shall perish? If these consequences be not good, I must confess myself far to seek both in logic and divinity.
Secondly, The reasons of the prohibition of women prove the consequence, which are all such as prefer the men before the women, and subject the women to the men, in the church, and in this very work of prophecy of which he treateth. But now, if in prohibiting women, he gave not liberty unto men, where were the prerogative of men above women, which is the only ground upon which he buildeth his prohibition?
Thirdly, Where, ver. 34, 35, “it is not permitted for women to speak, but if they will learn anything to ask their husbands at home,” if their husbands might not speak neither, nor any more than they, what reason can be rendered of the apostle's so speaking?
Lastly, Mr. Yates in denying this consequence, showeth, that so he might deny something he took no great heed what it were. The apostle in this whole chapter takes order for some to prophesy! And debarring women therefrom, either admits men to the use of that liberty, or else we must have some third kind of persons thought of which are neither male nor female.
My fourth argument is from ver. 29, and 32, “Let the prophets speak, two or three, and let the rest judge, and the spirit of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” Whence I affirm that the apostle speaks not of extraordinary prophets or prophesying, since they in their doctrines could not err, and so were not subject to any such judgment or censure of others. He answereth roundly, though briefly, in this place, “that these prophets were not infallibly assisted:” and more largely in another place, “that such prophets as have an infallible assistance, are not subject to this rule, but others that had but, as the apostle said, Rom. xii. 6, meaner gifts, were to be examined according to the proportion of faith; so that extraordinary prophets might mix some of their own with the extraordinary gifts of God's Spirit, which was to be censured by such as had a greater measure: for none are to think that all who had these extraordinary gifts were free from error in their very doctrine. We see the strange gift of tongues was abused, and so might the rest be.”
That one extraordinary prophet had a greater measure and proportion of gifts than another, I acknowledge, but that any one of them could err in doctrines, or was not infallibly assisted therein by the Spirit, I deny, as a most pernicious error, weakening the foundation of faith and truth of the Word of God: neither hath Mr. Yates so much as enterprised an answer unto the scriptures brought by me to prove the contrary: which were Eph. ii. 20, where the Ephesians as the household or church of God, are said to be built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, &c.; and iii. 5, where he speaks of the mystery of Christ, which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. Whence it appears that the church is as well built upon the foundation of the prophets, to wit extraordinary, which then were (for of them he speaketh) as upon the doctrine of the apostles, and they as infallibly, even for the very foundation, inspired by the Holy Ghost as the other. So that, if the prophets could err in doctrine, then the apostles, and if in doctrine taught, why not written? and if one alone, why not more, or all? and if they might err, how know we that they did not err? If he say the meaner in gifts might err, but not the greater; first, the same followeth also touching the apostles, how much more touching the prophets before Christ, not comparable to those after him: why then may there not be errors in the writings, especially of those of meaner gifts, as without doubt some were, in comparison of the rest? What weather this wind will bring, who seeth not? Moreover, whereas we propound such interpretations and doctrines as we gather from the Scriptures by discourse of reason, and so may err; they on the contrary, every one of them delivered doctrine by immediate inspiration of the Spirit, in which by reason of the Divine impression which it made in their hearts, differencing it from all both human collection and diabolical suggestion, they could not err, nor be mistaken, but knew infallibly when, and wherein, they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Besides there is not like reason of strange tongues and prophecy for the consideration in hand, since the church is not built upon the foundation of strange tongues, as upon the foundation of prophecy. Neither was the matter of the speech inspired, but the language only; except the same persons were prophets also.
Lastly, If there were the like reason of tongues, and prophecy, yet, except men might err in a tongue, and deem themselves inspired extraordinarily when they were not (which were absurd to affirm), it could not evince any possibility of erring in doctrine by extraordinary prophets. The last argument of my book I take from ver. 37, 38: “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord: but if any be ignorant let him be ignorant.”
Mr. Yates taxeth me for making a prophet and spiritual man all one, since by a spiritual man is meant such as excelled in any spiritual gift, prophecy, or other. But without cause, since I neither mean more, nor need more for my purpose, than that a prophet be included in the general of a spiritual man. But wherefore doth he not answer the argument, or mind where the force thereof lieth? which is, in the words following, “Let him acknowledge that the things that I write are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” The extraordinary prophets were guided as immediately and infallibly by the revelation of God's Spirit, as Paul himself, and might as well have required of him to “acknowledge that the things which they spake were the commandments of the Lord,” as he of them; neither was it possible that they, or any of them should be ignorant that the things which he spake were the commandments of the Lord. Which argument is also much strengthened, and made, in my judgment, unanswerable, by that which we find, ver. 36, “Came the Word of God out from you, or came it unto you only?” which words the apostle doth not direct unto the women (as Mr. Yates misconceiveth with great error, and contrary both unto reason, and the express Greek text, which will not bear it), but to the prophets with whom he dealeth, and that by way of comparison with himself from whom, to wit, by immediate revelation, the Word of God came after a sort to the Corinthians. Which plainly proves that they could not be extraordinary prophets, from whom the Word of God came unto the church as well as from himself, they being inspired immediately by the Holy Ghost as well as he.
The Christian reader may find besides these, other reasons from the scripture laid down by our worthy countryman, Mr. Cartwright, in his Confutation of the Rhemists, sect. 5, for the justification of this exercise, as ordinary and continual.
The other arguments in the same place of my book to the same purpose, though Mr. Yates could not but take knowledge of, yet hath he not thought good to meddle with. One of them only I will annex in this place, word for word, as there I have set it down.
It is the commandment of the Lord by the apostle, that “a bishop must be apt to teach, and that such elders or bishops be called as are able to exhort with sound doctrine and to convince the gainsayers.” 1 Tim. iii. 2; Tit. i. 9. Now except men, before they be in office may be permitted to manifest their gifts in doctrine, and so in prayer, which are the two main works requiring special qualifications in the teaching elders, Acts vi. 4, how shall the church, which is to choose them, take knowledge of their sufficiency, that with faith and good conscience they may call them and submit unto them for their guides? If it be said, that upon such occasion trial may be taken of men's gifts, he that so saith, grants the question; but must know besides, first, that men's gifts and abilities should be known in some measure, before they be once thought on for officers: and secondly, that there is none other use or trial of gifts, to wit in, and by the church, but in prophesying; for everything in the Lord's house is to be performed in some ordinance—there is nothing thrown about the house, or, out of order in it: and other ordinance in the church save this of prophecy is there none, wherein men out of office are to pray and teach, &c. Lastly, Mr. Yates, in denying this liberty, besides other evils reproveth the practice of all reformed churches and of the Church of England with them. It is not only permitted as lawful, but required as necessary where I live, that such as have bent their thoughts towards the ministry, should beforehand use their gifts publicly in the church; and intolerable bondage it would be thought by them to have pastors ordained for them, as all there are unto the places in which they are to minister, of whose ability in teaching they had not taken former experience. And not only so, but it hath been further decreed in solemn synod, “that in all churches, whether springing up or grown to perfection, the order of prophecy should be observed according to Paul's institution; and that into this fellowship, to wit of prophets, should be admitted not only the ministers but also the teachers, and of the elders and deacons, and even of the very common people (ex ipsa plebe), if there were any which, would confer their gifts received of the Lord to the common benefit of the church,” &e. Harmon. Synod. Belg. de Prophetica, ex Synodo Embdana, Can. 1, 2. And for England itself what will Mr. Yates say to the “Common places,” as they are’ called, or sermons, as indeed they are, in the colleges not only permitted unto, but imposed upon divers who never received orders of priesthood? What to such as preach by the bishop's licence without any such order? Yea, to all such as are ordained and called ministers, but have not actual charge, and so are like the popish accidents in the sacrament without a subject? Lastly, It might be shown if need were, that greater liberty than he alloweth is used by divers in the Romish Church, the spiritual Egypt, and house of bondage for God's people: so as the bondage of the very Hagar of Rome is not so great in this case, as he would bring upon Sarah herself.
The Lord give unto his people courage to stand for this liberty amongst the rest, wherewith Christ hath made them free, Gal. v. 1; and unto us who enjoy it, grace to use the same unto his glory, in our mutual edification. Amen.