« AnteriorContinuar »
guilty of another's errors, it followeth that it is single persons upon personal guilt that must be judged m.
Prop. XIII. Any man may judge another to be a Christian or heretic, by a private judgment of discerning, or the reason which guideth all human actions : but only churchrulers may judge him by that public judgment, which giveth or denieth him his public privileges and communion”.
Prop. xiv. If by notorious injustice church-rulers condemn Christians as no Christians, though they may thereby deny them oommunion with those public assemblies which they govern, yet do they not oblige the people to take such injured persons for no Christians. Else they might oblige all to believe a lie, to consent to malicious injuries, and might disoblige the people from truth, righteousness, and charityo,
Prop. xv. There is no one natural or collective head and governor of all the churches in the world (the universal church) but Jesus Christ ; and therefore there is none that by such governing power, can excommunicate any man out of the universal church : and such usurpation would be treason against Christ, whose prerogative it is F.
Prop. xvi. Yet he that deserveth to be excommunicated from one church, deserveth to be excommunicated by and from all, if it be upon a cause common to all; or that nullified his Christianity?.
Prop. XVII. And where neighbour churches are consociate and live in order and concord, he that is orderly excommunicate from one church, and it be notified to the rest, should not be taken into the communion of any of the rest, till he be cleared, or become fit for their communion". But this obligation ariseth but from the concord of consociate churches, and not from the power of one over the rest : and it cannot reach all the world, where the person cometh not, nor was ever known; but only to those who through neighbourhood are capable of just notice, and of giving or denying communion to that person.
m Ezek. xviii. 17. Gen. xviii. 23-25.
P 1 Cor. xii. 27-29. Ephes. ir. 5—7. 1 Cor. i. 12, 13.
r Ephes. v. 11. 1 Cor. v. 11.
iii. 22. 23. si Cor. xii. 12. John xiii. 35. 1 Cor. xiii. 1, 2, &c. ti Cor. xii. 12. vi. 17. X. 17. Ephes. iv. 3, &c. u Gal. iv. 11, 12.
Prop. XVIII. From all this it is clear, that it is not either Papists alone, or Greeks alone, or Protestants alone, or any party of Christians, who are the universal church, seeing that church containeth all Christians s. And that reviling others (yea, whole nations) as heretics, schismatics, and no Christians or churches, will no more prove the revilers to be the only church or Christians, than want of love will prove a man to be one of Christ's disciples, who by love are known to all men to be his.
Prop. xix. It is therefore the shameful language of distracted men, to cry out against other Christian nations, ' It is not you, but we that are the Catholic or universal church.' And our shameful controversy, which of them is the Catholic, is no wiser than to question, Whether it be this house or that which is the street? Or this street or that which is the city ? Or whether it be the kitchen, or the hall, or the parlour which is the house? Or the hand, or foot, or eye which is the man? O when will God bring distracting teachers to repentance, and distracted people to their wits !
Prop. xx. There is a great difference in the purity or soundness of the several parts of the universal church; some being more orthodox and holy, and some defiled with so many.errors and sins, as to make it difficult to discern whether they do not deny the very essentials u .
Prop. xxi. The reformed churches are the soundest and purest that we know in the world, and therefore their privilege exceeding great, though they are not all the universal church.
Prop. XXII. Particular churches consisting of lawful pastors and Christian people, associated for personal communion in worship and holy living, are societies or true churches of Christ's institution, and the chief parts of the universal church: as cities and corporations are of the kingdom
* Rev, iïi. 8–12. ii. 10, 11. Acts xiv. 22. Tit. i. 5. Rom. xvi. 4. 16. 1 Cor. vii. 17. xi. 16. xiv. 33, 34. 2 Thess, i. 4. Rev. ji. 23.
Prop. xx111. There are thousands of these in the world, and a man may be saved in one, as well as in another; only the purest give him the best advantages for his salvation ; and therefore should be preferred by all that are wise and love their souls, so far as they are free to choose their communion.
Prop. xxiv. The case then being easily resolved, (which is the true church ?) viz. All Christians as Christians are the Catholic or universal church'; and all congregations afore described, of true pastors and Christians being particular true churches, differing only in degrees of purity, he is to be suspected as a designing deceiver and troubler of the world, that pretending to be a learned man and a teacher, doth still perplex the consciences of the ignorant with this frivolous question, and would muddy and obscure this clear state of the case, lest the people should rest in the discerned truth.
Prop. xxv. The Papal church as such, being no true church of Christ's institution (of which by itself anon) it followeth that a Papist as a Papist is no member of the church of Christ, that is, no Christian?. But yet, whether the same person may not be a Papist and a Christian, and so a member of the Catholic church, we shall anon inquire.
Prop. xxvi. There are many things which go to make up the fitness and desirableness of that particular church, which we should prefer or choose for our ordinary personal communion a : as, 1. That it be the church of that place where we dwell; if that place be so happy as to have no divided churches, that it be the sole church there; however that it be so near as to be fit for our communion. 2. That it be a church which holdeth communion with other neighbour churches, and is not singular or divided from them; or at least not from the generality of the churches of Christ; nor differeth in any great matters from those that are most pure. 3. That it be under the reputation of soundness with the other churches aforesaid, and not under the scandal of heresy, schism, or gross corruption among
y 1 Cor. i. 13.
Rom. xvi. 17. Acts xx. 30.
those that live about b. 4. That it be under the countenance and encouraging favour of the Christian magistrate. 5. That it be the same church of which the rest of the family which we are of, be members; that husband and wife, parents and children, masters and servants be not of several churches. 6. That the pastors be able teachers, prudent guides, and of holy lives, and diligent in their office. 7. That the pastors be regularly called to their office. 8. That the members be intelligent, peaceable, and of holy, temperate, and righteous lives. But when all these cannot be had together, we must choose that church which hath those qualifications which are most needful, and bear with tolerable imperfections. The most needful are the first, second, and sixth of these qualifications.
Prop. xxvII. He that is free, should choose that church which is the fittest for his own edification ; that is, the best pastors, people and administrations. .
Prop. xxv11. A man's freedom is many ways restrained herein. As, 1. When it will tend to a greater public hurt, by disorder, ill example, division, discouragement, &c. 2. When superiors forbid it; as husbands, parents, masters, magistrates. 3. By some scandal. 4. By the distance or inconvenience of our dwelling. 5. By differences of judgment, and other causes of contention in the said churches : and many other ways.
Prop. xxix. A free man who removeth from one church to another for his edification, is not therefore a separatist or schismatic; but it must not be done by one that is not free, but upon such necessity as freeth him.
Prop. xxx. It is schism or sinful separation to separate from, 1. A true church as no true church. 2. From lawful worship and communion, as lawful ; but of this more in its proper place.
b Acts xvi. 32. 34. X. 2. 22. xviii. 8. Col. iv, 15.
c Of these things I have said so much in my “Cure of Church-divisions," and in the “ Defence" of it, and in the end of my “Reasons of Christian Religion,” Consect. i. ii. that I pass them over here with the more brevity.
Quest. II. Whether we must esteem the church of Rome a true
church? And in what sense some divines affirm it, and some deny it.'
Want of some easy distinguishing hath made that seem a controversy here, which is so plain, that it can hardly be any at all to Protestants, if the question had been but truly stated d.
Remember therefore that by a church is meant, not a mere company of Christians, any how related to each other; but a society consisting of an ecclesiastical head and body, such as we call a political society. 2. And that we speak not of an accidental head (such as the king is, because he governeth them ‘suo modo' by the sword); for that is not an essential constitutive part; but of a constitutive ecclesiastical head and body. 3. That the question is not, Whether the church of Rome be a part of the church, but whether it be a true church? And now I answer,
1. To affirm the church of Rome to be the Catholic or universal church, is more than to affirm it to be a true Catholic church, that is, a true part of the Catholic church; and is as much as to say that it is the whole and only church, and that there is no other; which is odious falsehood and usurpation, and slander against all other churches.
2. The church of Rome, is so called in the question, as it is a policy or church in a general sense ; and the meaning of the question is, Whether it be a divine, or a human or diabolical policy; a lawful church.
3. The church of Rome is considered, 1. Formally, as a church or policy. 2. Materially, as the singular persons are qualified. It is the form that denominateth. Therefore the question must be taken of the Roman policy, or of the church of Rome as such; that is, as it is one ruler pretending to be the vicarious, constitutive, governing head of all Christ's visible church on earth, and the body which owneth him in this relation.
4. Therefore I conclude (and so do all Protestants) that this policy or church of Rome is no true church of Christ's instituting or approbation, but a human, sinful policy formed
1 See Mr. Barton's and Bp. Hall's contest hereabouts.