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4. Till this be done, though a particular private member of the church be not bound to think that the minister is worthy, nor that the church which suffereth and receiveth him doth well, yet they are bound to judge him one who by the church's reception is in possession ; and therefore a visible pastor, and to submit to his public administrations; because it is not in a private man's power, but the church's, to determine who shall be the pastor.
5. But if the case be past controversy and notorious, that the man is not only scandalous, but weak, and dull, and negligent, but also either, 1. Intolerably unable ; 2. Or an infidel, or gross heretic; 3. Or certainly ungodly, a private man should admonish the church and him, and in case that they proceed in impenitency, should remove himself to a better church and ministry. And the church itself should disown such a man, and commit their souls to one that is fitter for the trust.
6. And that church or person who needlessly owneth such a pastor, or preferreth him before a fitter, doth thereby harden him in his usurpation, and is guilty of the hurt of the people's souls, and of his own, and of the dishonour done to God.
Quest. IX. Whether the people are bound to receive or consent
to an ungodly, intolerable, heretical pastor, yea, or one far less fit and worthy than a competitor, if the magistrate command it, or the bishop impose him?
For the deciding of this, take these propositions.
1. The magistrate is authorized by God to govern ministers and churches, according to the orders and laws of Christ, (and not against them :) but not to ordain or degrade, nor to make ministers or unmake them, nor to deprive the church of the liberty settled on it by the laws of Christ.
2. The bishops or ordainers are authorized by Christ, to judge of the fitness of the person to the office in general, and solemnly to invest him in it, but not to deprive the people of their freedom, and exercise of the natural care of their own salvation, or of any liberty given them by Christ.
3. The people's liberty in choosing or consenting to
their own pastors, to whom they must commit the care of their souls, is partly founded in nature, (it being they that must have the benefit or loss, and no man being authorized to damn or hazard men's souls, at least against their wills ;) and partly settled by Scripture, and continued in the church above a thousand years after Christ, at least in very many parts of it? See Blondel's “ Full Proof de jure plebis in regim. Eccles. Hildebertus Cænoman. (alias Turonensis)” even in his time sheweth, that though the clergy were to lead, and the people to follow, yet no man was to be made a bishop, or put upon the people without their own consent : Epist. 12. Bibl. Pet. To. iii. p. 179. Filesacus will direct you to more such testimonies. But the thing is past controversy. I need not cite to the learned the commonly cited testimony of Cyprian, Plebs maximam habet potestatem indignos recusandi, &c. And indeed in the nature of the thing it cannot be : for though you may drench a mad man's body by force, when you give him physic, you cannot so drench men's souls, nor cure them against their wills.
4. Not that the people's consent is necessary to the general office of a Gospel minister, to preach and baptize; but only to the appropriation or relation of a minister to themselves; that is, to the being of a pastor of a particular church as such, but not of a minister of Christ as such.
5. A man's soul is of so great value above all the favour of man, or treasures of this world, that no man should be indifferent, to what man's care he doth commit it; nor should he hazard it upon the danger of everlasting misery, for fear of displeasing man, or being accused of schism or disorder.
6. There is as great difference between an able, learned, judicious, orthodox, godly, diligent, lively teacher, and an ignorant, heretical, ungodly, dull, and slothful man, as there is between a skilful and an ignorant pilot at sea; or between an able, experienced, faithful physician, and an ignorant, rash, and treacherous one, as to the saving men's lives. And he that would not take a sot or empiric for his physician, who were like to kill him, and refuse the counsel of an able physician, in obedience to a magistrate or bishop, hath as little reason to do the like by his soul; nor should he set less by that than by his life m. And if Paul said, we have this power for edification and not for destruction, we may say so of all magistrates and bishops. Sober divines have lately shewed their error who teach men that they must be ready to submit to damnation if God require it, or to suppose that his glory and our salvation are separable 'ends; because damnation is a thing which nature necessitateth man not to desire or intend! And shall we ascribe more to a magistrate than to God? and say that we must cast our souls on a likelihood of damnation to keep order and in obedience to man? No man can be saved without knowledge and holiness : an ignorant, dead, ungodly minister is far less likely to help us to knowledge and holiness, than an able, holy man. To say God can work by the unfittest instrument is nothing to the purpose ; till you prove that God would have us take him for his instrument, and that he useth equally to work by such, as well as by the fit and worthy, or that we expect wonders from God, and that ordinarily without tempting him! Yea, when such an usurper of the ministry is like to damn himself, as well as the people. ;
1 In the time of the Arian emperors the churches refused the bishops whom the emperors imposed on them, and stuck to their own orthodox bishops; especially at Alexandria and Cæsarea, after the greatest urgency for their obedience.
And here to lenify the minds of Ithacian prelates towards those that seek their own edification, in such a case as this, or that refuse unworthy pastors of their imposing, I will intreat them to censure those near them no more sharply than they do the persons in these following instances. Yea, if a separatist go too far, use him no more uncharitably, than you would do these men.
(1.) Gildas Brit. is called Sapiens, and our eldest writer; and yet he calleth the multitude of the lewd British clergy whom he reprehendeth in his “ Acris Correptio,” traitors and no priests; and concludeth seriously, that he that calleth them priests, is not eximius Christianus,' any excellent Christian. Yet those few that were pious he excepteth and commendeth. Shall he account them no priests, for their sinfulness, and will you force others, not only to call them priests, but to commit their souls to such men's conduct? When Christ hath said, “ If the blind lead the blind,
m Matt. xvi. 26. Prov. i. 22. xix. 8. Luke xii. 4.
both will fall into the ditch ?” And Paul, “ Take heed unto thyself and unto the doctrine; for in so doing, thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee m?”
The second is our second (and first English) historian Beda, and in him the famous Johannes Episc. Hagulstadensis Eccles., who, as he reporteth, wrought many very great miracles, as Eccles. Hist. lib. v. cap. 2–5. is to be read. This man had one Herebaldus in his clergy, afterwards an abbot; who himself told Beda as followeth :--That this Johannes Ep. cured him miraculously of a perilous hurt, taken by disobedient horsemanship; and when he recovered, he asked him, whether he were sure that he was baptized ? who answered, That he knew it past doubt, and named the presbyter that baptized him. The bishop answered, If thou wast baptized by that priest, thou art not rightly baptized: for I know him, and that when he was ordained presbyter, he was so dull of wit, that he could not learn the ministry of catechizing and baptizing. Wherefore I commanded him altogether to give over the presumption of this ministry, which he could not regularly fulfil. And having thus said, he himself took care to catechize me the same hour: and— being cured—' vitali etiam unda perfusus sum,' I was baptized.
I commend not this example of re-baptizing, the rather because it seems the priest was not deposed till after he had baptized Herebaldus; but if he went so far as to rebaptize, and account the baptism a nullity, which was done by an unable, insufficient presbyter, though rightly ordained, judge but as favourably of men that avoid such presbyters in our age.
The third instance shall be that of Cyprian and all the worthy bishops in the councils of Carthage in his time, who re-baptized those baptized by heretics. And consider withal that in those times many were called heretics whom we call but schismatics, that drew disciples after them into se parated bodies and parties, speaking perverse things, though not contrary to the very essentials of religion". I justify not their opinion : but if so many holy bishops counted the very baptism of such a nullity, be not too severe and censorious against those that go not also far from an insufficient or ungodly, or grossly scandalous man, for the mere preservation of their own souls.
m Matt. xv. 14. 1 Tim. iv. 6. 16. Matt. xvi. 16. xxiv. 4. Mark iv. 94. Luke viii. 18. Matr. xxiii. 16.
n Acts xx. 30.
To these I will add the saying of one of the honester sort of Jesuits, Acosta ; and in him of a more ancient than he: lib. iv. c. 1. p. 354. de reb. Indic. He extolleth the words of Dionysius Epist. viii. ad Demoph. which are Si igitur quæ illuminat sacerdotum est sancta distinctio, proculdubio ille à sacerdotali ordine et virtute omnino prolapsus est, qui illuminans non est, multoque sane magis qui neque illuminatus est. Atque mihi quidem videtur audax nimium hujusmodi est, si sacerdotalia munia sibi assumit; neque metuit, neque veretur ea quæ sunt Divina præter meritum persequi ; putatque ea latere Deum, quorum sibi ipse conscius sit; et se Deum fallere existimat, quem falso nomine appellat patrem ; audetque scelestas blasphemias suas (neque enim preces dixerim) sacris aris inferre ; easque super signa illa Divina, ad Christi similitudinem dicere. Non
est iste sacerdos ; non est; sed infestus, atrox, dolosus, il· lusor sui, et lupus in dominicam gregem ovina pelle arma
tus. His plura aut majora de evangelici ministerii et culmine et præcipitio qui expectat, cuique ad resipiscendum non ista sufficiunt, infatuatum se juxta Domini sententiam, et nullo unquam sale saliri posse demonstrat.' I will not English it, lest those take encouragement by it who are bent to the other extreme.
7. Yet it will be a great offence, if any censorious, selfconceited person, shall on this pretence set up his judgment of men's parts, to the contempt of authority, or to the vilifying of worthy men ; and especially if he thereby make a stir and schism in the church, instead of seeking his own edification.
8. Yea, if a minister be weaker, yea, and colder and worse than another, yet if his ministry be competently fitted to edification, he that cannot leave him and go to a better, without apparent hurt to the church, and the souls of others, by division, or exasperating rulers, or breaking family order, or violating relative duties, must take himself to be at present denied the greater helps that others have, and may trust God in the use of those weaker means, to accept and bless