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I must desire the reader to take up with this answer for all, and excuse me from unnecessary repetition.
As for such disputers as my antagonist Mr. Johnson, who insisteth on that of Tit. iii. 10.“ A man that is an heretic-mis condemned of himself;" when he hath proved that the word heretic hath but one signification, I will say as he doth. Till then, if he will try who shall be damned by bare equivocal words, without the definition, let him take his course, for I will be none of his imitators.
Quest. vi. Whether those that are in the church of Rome, are
bound to separate from it? And whether it be lawful to go to their mass or other worship.
These two also for brevity I join together.
I. To the first, we must distinguish of separation : 1. It is one thing to judge that evil which is evil, and separate from it in judgment. 2. It is another thing to express this by forbearing to subscribe, swear, or otherwise approve that evil. 3. And another thing to forbear communion with them in the mass and image-worship, and gross or known sins. 4. And another thing to forbear all communion with them, even as to baptism and other lawful things. 5. And another thing to use some open detestations or protestations against them.
2. And we must distinguish much of persons, whether they be ministers or people, free or bound, as wives, children, &c. And now I answer.
1. There is no question but it is a duty to judge all that evil which is evil among the Papists or any other.
2. It is the duty of all to forbear subscribing, swearing to, or otherwise approving evil.
3. It is the duty of all mass-priests to renounce that part of their calling, and not to administer their mass, or any other unlawful thing.
4. It is the duty of all private Christians to forbear communion in the mass, because it is a kind of idolatry, while they worship a piece of bread as God: as also image-worship, and all other parts of their religion, in which they are put upon sin themselves, or that which is notorious scandal
and symbolizing with them in their bread-worship, or other corruptions of the substance of God's ordinances.
5. It is their duty who have fit opportunity, (when it is like to do more good than harm,) to protest against the papal corruptions where they are, and to declare their detestation of them.
6. It is the duty of those that have children to be baptized or catechized, to make use of more lawful and sound ministers, when they may be had, rather than of a Papist priest.
7. But in case they cannot remove, or enjoy better, I think it is lawful, 1. To let such baptize their children, rather than leave them unbaptized. 2. To let their children be taught by them to read, or in arts and sciences, or the catechism, and common principles of religion, so they will mix no dangerous errors. 3. And to hear those of them preach, who preach soundly and piously, (such as were Gerrhard, Zutphaniensis, Thaulerus, Ferus, and many more). 4. And to read such good books as these now mentioned have written. 5. And to join with them in such prayers as are sound and pious, so they go no further.
8. And wives, children, and such other as are bound, and cannot lawfully remove, may stay among them, and take up with these helps, dealing faithfully in abstaining from the rest.
II. The second question is answered in this. Only I add, that it is one thing to be present as Elias was, in a way of opposition to them; or as disputants are, that open their errors; or as a wise man may go to hear or see what they do, without compliance, as we read their books; and it is another thing to join with them in their sinful worship, or scandalously to encourage them in it by seeming so to do. See Calv. contr. Nicod. &c.
Quest. vii. Whether the true calling of the minister by ordina
tion or election, &c., be necessary to the essence of the church?
By a church here we mean a political society of Christians, and not any assembly or community. And no doubt pastor and flock are the constitutive parts of such a church; and where either of them are notoriously wanting, it is notorious that there is no true church. Therefore all the doubt is, whether such parts of his call be necessary to the being of the ministry, or not? And here we must conclude, that the word 'ministry' and `church' are ambiguous. By a minister or pastor is meant either one that God so far owneth as to accept and justify his administrations as for himself, even his own good and salvation; or one whose administrations God will own, accept, and bless to the people.
I. In the former sense, 1. He is no true minister that wanteth the essential qualifications of a minister, viz. that hath not (1.) The understanding and belief of all the articles of faith, without heresy. (2.) Tolerable ability to teach these to the people, and perform the other essentials of his office. (3.) Sincere godliness, to do all this in love and obedience to God as his servant, in order to life eternal. 2. And he is thus no true pastor as to God's acceptance of himself, who hath not a lawful calling; that is, (1.) Ordination, when it may be had. (2.) The consent or reception of that church of which he pretendleth to be pastor, which is still necessary, and must be had, if ordination cannot..
II. But in the second sense, he is a pastor so far as that God will own his administrations as to the people's good, who, 1. Hath possession. 2. And seemeth to them to have necessary qualifications, and a lawful call, though it prove otherwise, so be it, it be not through their wilful fault, that he is culpable, or they mistaken in him. If he be not a true believer, but an infidel, or heretic, he is no minister as to himself, that is, God will use him as an usurper that hath no titlek: but if he profess to be a believer when he is not, he is a true pastor visibly to the people; otherwise they could never know when they have a pastor: even as real faith makes a real Christian, and professed faith makes a visible Christian, so is it as to the ministry. If he seem to understand the articles of faith, and do not, or if he seem to have due ordination when he hath not, if he be upon this mistake accepted by the people, he is a true visible pastor as to them, that is, as to their duty and benefit, though not as to himself. Yea, the people's consent to his entrance is not necessary' ad esse, nor to his relation neither, so far as to justify himself, but to his administrations and to his relation, so far as their own right and benefit are interested in it. So that two things are necessary to such a visible pastor as shall perform valid administrations to the church, 1. Seeming necessary qualifications and calling to it. 2. Possession, by the people's reception or consent to his administrations and relation so far as to their benefit.
* Acts i. 17. Matt. vii. 22.
And III. Thus also we must distinguish of the word • church. It is, 1. Such an entire Christian society as hath a minister or pastor whose office is valid as to himself and them; or it is such a society only as hath a pastor whose office is valid to them but not to himself. Let us not confound the question de re' and ' de nomine. These societies differ as is said. Both may fitly be called true churches.
As it is with a kingdom which hath a rightful prince, and one that hath an usurper, so it is here. 1. If it have a rightful king accepted, it is a kingdom in the fullest sense. 2. If it have an usurper accepted, it is a kingdom, but faulty. 3. If the usurper be only so far accepted as that the people consent not to his entrance, no, nor his relation so as to justify his title, but wish him cast out if they could procure it; but yet consent to receive that protection and justice which is their own due from the possessor, and consent to his relation only thus far, this is a kingdom truly, but more defective or maimed than the first. 4. But if the people do not so much as receive him, nor submit to his administrations, he is but a conqueror, and not a king, and it is (in respect to him) no kingdom, (though in respect to some other that hath title and consent, without actual possession of the administration, it may be a kingdom). And this is the true and plain solution of this question, which want of distinction doth obscure.
Quest. viii. Whether sincere faith and godliness be necessary
to the being of the ministry? And whether it be lawful to hear a wicked man, or take the sacrament from him, or take him for a minister ?
This question receiveth the very same solution with the last foregoing, and therefore I need not say much more to it.
I. The first part is too oft resolved mistakingly on both
extremes. Some absolutely saying that godliness or faith is not necessary to the being of the ministry; and some that it is necessary. Whereas the true solution is as aforesaid; sincere faith and godliness are necessary to make a man a minister so far as that God will own and justify him as sent by himself, as to his own duty and benefit: for he cannot be internally and heartily a Christian pastor that is no Christian, nor a minister of God, who is not godly, that is, Is not truly resigned to God, obeyeth him not and loveth him not as God. But yet the reality of these are not necessary to make him a visible pastor, as to the people's duty and benefit.
2. But the profession of true faith and godliness is necessary so far, as that without it the people ought not to take him for a visible minister, (as the profession of Christianity is to a visible Christian.)
3. And in their choice they ought to prefer him 'cæteris paribus,' whose profession is most credible.
Obj. • That which maketh a minister is gifts and a calling, which are distinct from grace and real Christianity.' Answ. Every minister is a Christian, though every Christian be not a minister or pastor: therefore he that is a visible pastor must visibly or in profession have both.
Obj. • But a man may be a Christian, without saving grace or godliness.' Answ. As much as he may be godly without godliness. That is, he may be visibly a Christian and godly, without sincere faith and godliness, but not without the profession of both. It is not possible that the profession of Christianity in the essentials, can be without the profession of godliness; for it includeth it.
II. To the other question I answer, 1. A man that professeth infidelity or impiety, yea, that professeth not faith and godliness, is not to be taken for a minister, or heard as such.
2. Every one that professeth to stand to his baptismal covenant professeth faith and godliness.
3. He that by a vicious life or bad application of doctrine contradicteth his profession, is to be lawfully accused of it, and heard speak for himself, and to be cast out by true church-justice, and not by the private censure of a private person.