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of all these can prove your joining with them sinful. 1. Not because they are faulty : for you may join with as faulty prayers you confess, if not imposedo. 2. Not because iinposed, (1.) Because that is an extenuation, and not an aggravation : for it proveth the minister less voluntary of the two than those are that do it without any command, through the error of their own judgments, (as most erroneous persons will). (2.) Because (though lawful things oft become unlawful when superiors forbid them, yet) no reason can be given why a lawful thing should become unlawful, because a lawful superior doth command it. Else superiors might take away all our Christian liberty, and make all things unlawful to us by commanding them. You would take it for a wild conceit in your children or servants, if they say, when you bid them learn a catechism, or use a form of prayer, “It was lawful to us till you commanded us to do it; but because you bid us do it, it is unlawful. If it be a duty to obey governors in all lawful things, then it is not a sin to obey them. 3. And it is not your knowing beforehand that maketh it unlawful : for, 1. I know in general beforehand, that all imperfect men will do imperfectly; and though I know not the particular, that maketh it never the more lawful, if foreknowledge itself did make it unlawful. 2. If you know that e. g. an Antinomian or some mistaken preacher would constantly drop some words for his error in prayer or preaching, that will not make it unlawful in your own judgment for you to join, if it be not a flat heresy. 3. It is another man's error or fault that you foreknow and not your own; and therefore foreknowledge maketh it not your own. 4. God himself doth as an universal cause of nature concur with men in those acts which he foreknoweth they will sinfully do ; and yet God is not to be judged either an author or approver of the sin because of such concurrence and foreknowledge : therefore our foreknowledge maketh us no approvers, or guilty of the failings of any in their sacred ministrations, unless there be some other guilt. If you say that it is no one of these that maketh it unlawful, but all together, you must give us a distinct argument to prove that the concurrence of these three will prove that unlawful,
c Pii hominis est facere quod potest, etiamsi non faciat hoc quod est cligi. bilius. Bucholtzer.
which cannot be proved so by any of them alone, for your
Direct, XIII. · Distinguish carefully between your personal private duties, and the duty of the pastor or church with which you must concur. And do not think, that if the church or pastor do not their duty, that you are bound to do it for them. To cast out an obstinate impenitent sinner by sentence from the communion of the church, is the pastor's or church's duty, and not yours, unless in concurrence or subserviency to the church. Therefore if it be not done, inquire whether you did your duty towards it; if you did, the sin is none of yours : for it is not in your power
CHRISTIAN DIRECTORY. [PART 111. to cast out all that are unworthy from the church. But private familiarity is in your power to refuse ; and with such no not to eat.
Direct. xiv. • Take the measure of your accidental duties more from the good or hurt of the church, or of many, than from the immediate good or hurt that cometh to yourself. You are not to take that for the station of your duty, which you feel to be most to the commodity of your souls; but that in which you may do God most service. If the service of God for the good of many, require you to stay with a weaker minister, and defective administrations, you will find in the end that this was not only the place of your duty, but also of your benefit: for your life is in God's hands, and all your comforts; and that is the best way to your peace and happiness, in which you are most pleasing unto God, and have his promise of most acceptance and grace. I know the least advantage to the soul, must be preferred before all earthly riches; but not before the public good. Yea, that way will prove most advantageous to us, in which we exercise most obedience.
Direct. xv. “Take heed of suffering prejudice and fancy to go for reason, and raise in your minds unjustifiable distastes of any way or mode of worship. It is wonderful to see what fancy and prejudice can do! Get once a hard opinion of a thing, and your judgments will make light of all that is said for it, and will see nothing that should reconcile you to it. Partiality will carry you away from equity and truth. Abundance of things appear now false and evil, to men that once imagine them to be so, which would seem harmless, if not laudable, if they were tried by a mind that is clear from prejudice.
Direct. xvi. “ Judge not of doctrines and worship by persons, but rather of persons by their doctrine and worship (together with their lives).' The world is all prone to be carried by respect to persons. I confess where any thing is to be taken upon trust, we must rather trust the intelligent, experienced, honest, and credible, than the ignorant and incredible ; but where the Word of God must be our rule, it is perverse to judge of things by the persons that hold them or oppose them : sometimes a bad man may be in the right, and a good man in the wrong. Try the way of the worst meh before you reject it (in disputable things). And try the opinions and way of the wisest before you venture to receive them.
Direct. xvii. ' Enslave not yourselves to any party of men, so as to be over-desirous to please them, nor overfearful of their censure.' Have a respect to all the rest of the world as well as them. Most men that once engage themselves in a party, do think their honour and interest is involved with them, and that they stand or fall with the favour of their party, and therefore make them (before they are aware) the masters of their consciences.
Direct. xvii. ' Regard more the judgment of aged, ripe, experienced men, that have seen the fruits of the various courses of professors of religion, than of the young, unripe, unexperienced, hot-headed sort.' Zeal is of great use to execute the resolutions of a well informed man: and the zeal of others is very useful to warm the hearts of such as do converse with them. But when it comes to matter of judgment once, to decide a case of difficulty, aged experience hath far the advantage; and in no casės more, than in those where peace and concord are concerned, where tash, hot-headed youth is very prone to precipitant courses, which must be afterwards repented of.
Direct. xix. When fervent, self-conceited people would carry down all by censoriousness and passion, it is time for the pastors and the aged and riper sort of Christians openly to rebuke them, and appear against them, and stand their ground, and not to comply with the misguided sort to escape their censures.' Nothing hath more caused schisms in the church (except the pride and ambition of the clergy) than that the riper and more judicious sort of people together with the ministers themselves, have been so loath to lie under the bitter censures of the unexperienced, younger, hotter sort; and to avoid such censures and keep in with them, they have followed those whom they should have led, and have been drawn quite beyond their own understandings. God hath made Wisdom to be the guide of the church, and Zeal to follow and diligently execute the commands of wisdom. Let ignorant, well meaning people 'censure you as bitterly as they please, yet keep your ground, and be not so proud or weak as to prefer their good esteem before their benefit, and before the pleasing of God. Sin not against your knowledge to escape the censure of the ignorant. If you do, God will make those men your scourges whom you so much overvalued : and they shall prove to their spiritual fathers as cockered children (like Absalom) do to their natural fathers, and perhaps be the breaking of your hearts. But if the pastors and the riper, experienced Christians will stand their ground, and stick together, and rebuke the exorbitancies of the censorious younger ones, they will maintain the credit of the Gospel, and keep the truth, and the church's peace, and the hotspurs will in time either repent and be sober, or be ashamed and disabled to do much hurt.
Direct. xx. " Take heed how you let loose your zeal against the pastors of the church, lest you bring their persons and next their office into contempt, and so break the bonds of the church's unity and peace. There is no more hope of maintaining the church's unity and concord without the ministry, than of keeping the strength or unity of the members without the nerves. If these nerves be weak or labour of a convulsion or other disease, it is curing and strengthening them, and not the cutting them asunder that must prove to the welfare and safety of the body. Meddle with the faults of the ministry only so far as tendeth to a cure, of them or of the church, but not to bring them into disgrace, and weaken their interest in the people, and disable them from doing good. Abhor that proud, rebellious spirit, that is prone to set up itself against the officers of Christ, and under pretence of greater wisdom and holiness, to bring their guides into contempt; and is picking quarrels with them behind their back, to make them a scorn or odious to the hearers. Indeed a minister of satan that doth more harm in the church than good, must be so detected as may best disable him from doing harm. But he that doth more good than hurt, must so be dissuaded from the hurt as not to be disabled from the good. “ My brethren be not many masters (or teachers), knowing that ye shall receive the greater condemnationd.”
Direct. XXI. “ Look more with an eye of charity on what is good in others and their worship of God, than with an eye of malice to carp at what appeareth evil.' Some men
of Jam, iii, 1.