« AnteriorContinuar »
say,' I pray you hate or despise these people whom I hate and despise.' This is the core of the plague-sore. It is schism in the bud.
4. When people in the same church do gather into private meetings, not under the guidance of their pastors, to edify one another in holy exercises in love and peace, but in opposition to their lawful pastors, or to one another, to propagate their singular opinions, and increase their parties, and speak against those that are not on their side; schism is then ready to bring forth and multiply, and the swarm is ready to come forth and be gone.
5. When these people actually depart, and renounce or forsake the communion of the church, and cast off their faithful pastors, and draw into a separated body by themselves, and choose them pastors and call themselves a church, and all without any just, sufficient cause : when thus churches are gathered out of charches, before the old ones are dissolved, or they have any warrant to depart; when thus pastor is set up against pastor, church against church; and altar against altar; this is schism ripe and fruitful. The swarm is gone, and hived in another place.
6. If now the neighbour churches by their pastors in their synods, shall in compassion seek to reclaim these stragglers, and they justify their unjust separation, and contemn the counsel of the churches and ministers of Christ; this is a confirmed, obstinate schism.
7. If they shall also judge that church to be no church from which they separated, and so cut off a part of the body of Christ by an unrighteous censure, and condemn the innocent, and usurp authority over their guides ; this is disobedience and uncharitableness with schism.
8. If they shall also condemn and unchurch all the other churches that are not of their mind and way, and renounce communion with them all, and so condemn unjustly a great part of the body of Christ on earth, this is to add fury and rebellion to an uncharitable schism. And if to cover their sin, they shall unjustly charge these churches which they reject, with heresy or wickedness, they do but multiply their crimes by such extenuations.
9. If the opinion that all this ado is made for, be a damn
ing error, against some essential point of the true religion, then it is heresy as well as schism.
10. If this separation from the church be made in defence of an ungodly life, against the discipline of the church : if a wicked sort of men shall withdraw from the church to avoid the disgrace of confession or excommunication; and shall first cast off the church, lest the church should proceed to cast out them; and so they separate that they may have none to govern and trouble them but themselves ; this is a profane, rebellious schism. This is the common course of schism when it groweth towards the height.
11. Besides all these, there is yet a more pernicious way of schism, which the church or court of Rome is guilty of: they make new articles of faith, and new points of religion, and a new worship-of God, shall I say, or of bread as if it were a God? And all these they put into a law, and impose them on all the other churches ; yea, they put them into an oath, and require men to swear that without any doubting they believe them to be true : they pretend to have authority for all this, as Rome is the mistress of all other churches. They set up a new universal head, as an essential part of the Catholic church, and so found or feign a new kind of Catholic church : and he that will not obey them in all this, they renounce communion with him, and to hide this horrid, notorious schism, they call all schismatics that are not thus subjected to them.
12. And to advance their schism to the height, as far as arrogance can aspire, they not only refuse communion with those from whom they separate, but condemn them as no pastors, no churches, no Christians, that are not subject to them in this their usurpation: and they, that are but about the third or fourth part (at most) of the Christian world, do condemn the body of Christ to hell (even all the rest) because they are not subjects of the pope.
Besides all this criminal, odious schism, of imposers or separaters, there is a degree of schism or unjust division, which may be the infirmity of a good and peaceable person. As if a humble, tender Christian should mistakingly think it unlawful to do some action that is imposed upon all that will hold communion with that particular church (such as
Paul speaketh of Rom. xiv. if they had been imposed) : and if he, suspecting his own understanding, do use all means to know the truth, and yet still continueth in his mistake; if this Christian do forbear all reviling of his superiors, and censuring those that differ from him, and drawing others to his opinion, but yet dare not join with the church in that which he taketh to be a sin, this is a sinful sort of withdrawa ing, because it is upon mistake; but yet it is but a pardonable infirmity, consistent with integrity, and the favour of God.
IV. In these cases following separation is our duty and not a sin. 1. The church's separation from the unbelieving world is a necessary duty; for what is a church, but a sóciety dedicated or sanctified to God, by separation from the rest of the world?“ Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty f.” The church is a holy people, and therefore a separated people s.
2. If a church apostatize and forsake the faith, or if they turn notoriously heretical, denying openly any one essential article of the faith, and this not only by an undiscerned consequence, but directly in express terms or sense, it is our duty to deny to hold communion with such apostates or heretics : for it is their separating from Christ that is the sinful separation, and maketh it necessary to us to separate from them. But this is no excuse to any church or person that shall falsely accuse any other church or person of heresy (because of some forced or disowned consequences of his doctrine), and then separate from them when they have thus injured them by their calumnies or censures.
3. We are not bound to own that as a church which maketh not a visible profession of faith and holiness: that is, if the pastors and a sufficient number of the flock make not this profession. For as the pastor and flock are the constituent parts of the church, politically considered, so profession of faith and holiness is the essential qualification of the members. If either pastors or people want this profession, it is no political church; but if the people profess true
1 y Cor. vi. 17, 18. . Leg. Grotium de Imp. pp. 230, 231.
religion, and have no pastors, it is a community of believers, or a church unorganized, and as such to be acknowledged.
4. If any shall unlawfully constitute a new political church-form, by making new constitutive officers to be its visible head, which Christ never appointed, we are not to hold communion with the church in its devised form or polity: though we may hold communion with the members of it considered as Christians and members of the universal church. Mark well, that I do not say that every new devised officer disobligeth us from such communion, but such as I describe; which I shall more fully open.
Quest. May not men place new officers in the church; and new forms of government which God never instituted ? Or is there any form and officers of Divine institution?
Answ. Though I answered this before, I shall here briefly answer it again. 1. There are some sorts of officers that are essential to the polity, or church-form, and some that are only needful to the wellbeing of it, and some that are only accidental. 2. There is a church-form of God's own institution, and there is a superadded human polity, or form. There are two sorts of churches, or church-forms of God's own institution. The first is the universal church considered politically as headed by Jesus Christ: this is so of Divine appointment, as that it is an article of our creed. Here if any man devise and superinduce another head of the universal church, which God never appointed, though he pretend to hold his sovereignty from Christ and under him, it is treason against the sovereignty of Christ, as setting up an universal government or sovereign in his church without his authority and consent. Thus the pope is the usurping head of a rebellion against Christ, and in that sense by Protestants called antichrist. And he is guilty of the rebellion that subscribeth to, or owneth his usurpation, or sweareth to him as his governor, though he promise to obey him but in licitis et honestis ;' because it is not lawful or honest to consent to an usurper's government. If an usurper should traiterously, without the king's consent, proclaim himself vice-king of Ireland or Scotland, and falsely say that he hath the king's authority, when the king disclaimeth him, he that should voluntarily swear obedience to him in thing's lawful and honest, doth voluntarily own
his usurpation and treason. And it is not the lawfulness and honesty of the matter which will warrant us to own the usurpation of the commander 8. And secondly there is another subordinate church-form of Christ's institution ; that is, particular churches consisting of pastors and people conjoined for personal communion in God's worship. These are to the universal church, as particular corporations are to a kingdom, even such parts of it as have a distinct subordinate polity of their own: it is no city or corporation, if they have not their mayors, bailiffs, or other chief officers, subject to the king, as governors of the people under him. And it is no particular church, in a political sense, but only a community, if they have not their pastors to be under Christ, their spiritual conductors in the matters of salvation ; as there is no school which is not constituted of teacher and scholars. That particular organized political churches are of Christ's institution (by his Spirit in the apostles) is undeniable. “ They ordained them elders in every church h.” “ Ordain elders in every city as I commanded thee i.” “ He sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church k.” “ Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God!.” Thus far it is no question but church-forms and government is of Divine appointment: and man can no more alter this, or set up such other without God's consent, than a subject can alter or make corporations without the king's consent. 2. But besides these two sorts of Divine institution, there are other allowable associations which some call churches. God hath required these particular churches to hold such communion as they are capable of, for promoting tne common ends of Christianity: and prudence is left to determine of the times, and places, and manner of their pastors assemblies, councils, and correspondencies according to God's general rules. If any will call these councils, or the associations engaged for special correspondencies, by the name of churches, I will not trouble any with a strife about the name. In this case so far as men have power to make that association or combination which they call a
& Leg. Grotium de Imp. pp. 223. 226. h Acts xiv. 23.
i Tit. i. 5.
Acts xx. 17. Acts xx. 28. So 1 Thess. .v. 12, 13. Heb, xiii, 7. 17, 24. &c. 1 Cor. vii. 23