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  • AN ANSWER TO A LATE TREATISE ABOUT THE NATURE OF SCHISM.


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    CHRISTIAN READER, IHAVE not much to say unto thee concerning the ensuing treatise, — it will speak for itself with all impartial men; much less shall I insist on commendation of its author, who also being dead e]ti lalei~tai , and will be so, I am persuaded whilst Christ hath a church upon the earth. The treatise itself was written sundry years ago, immediately upon the publishing of Mr. Cawdrey’s accusation against him. I shall not need to give an account whence it hath been that it saw the light no sooner; it may suffice that, in mine own behalf and that of others, I do acknowledge that, in the doing of sundry things seeming of more importance, this ought not to have been omitted. The judgment of the author approving of this vindication of himself as necessary, considering the place he held in the church of God, should have been a rule unto us for the performance of that duty, which is owing to his worth and piety in doing and suffering for the truth of God. It is now about seven months ago since it came into my hands; and since I engaged myself unto the publication of it, my not immediate proceeding therein being sharply rebuked by a fresh charge upon myself from that hand under which this worthy person so far suffered as to be necessitated to the ensuing defensative, I have here discharged that engagement. The author of the charge against him, in his epistle to that against me, tells his reader that “it is thought that it was intended by another (and now promised by myself) to be published, to cast a slur upon him.” So are our intentions judged, so our ways, by thoughts and reports! Why a vindication of Mr. Cotton should cast a slur upon Mr. Cawdrey, I know not. Is he concerned in spirit or reputation in the acquitment of a holy, reverend person, now at rest with Christ, from imputations of inconstancy and self-contradiction? Is there not room enough in the world to bear the good names of Mr. Cotton and Mr. Cawdrey, but that if one be vindicated the other must be slurred? He shall find now, by experience, what assistance he found from Him who loved him to bear his charge and to repel it, without any such reflection on his accuser as might savor of an intention to slur him. “Mala mens, malus animus.” The measure that men fear from others they have commonly meted out unto them beforehand. He wishes those “that intend to rake in the ashes of the dead to consider whether they shall deserve any thanks for their labor.” How the covering of the dead with their own comely garments comes to be a raking into their ashes, I know not. His name is alive, though he be dead. It was that, not his person, that was attempted to be wounded by the charge against him. To pour forth that balm for its healing, now he is dead, which himself provided whilst he was alive, without adding or diminishing one syllable, is no raking into his ashes; and I hope the deu>terai qronti>dev of the reverend author will not allow him to be offended that this friendly office is performed to a dead brother, to publish this his defense of his own innocency, written in obedience to a prime dictate of the law of nature, against the wrong which was not done him in secret.

    But the intendment of this prefatory discourse being my own concernment in reference to a late tract of Mr. Cawdrey’s, bearing on its title and superscription a vindication from my “unjust clamors and false aspersions,” I shall not detain the reader with any farther discourse of that which he will find fully debated in the ensuing treatise itself, but immediately address myself to that which is my present peculiar design.

    By what ways and means the difference betwixt us is come to that issue wherein now it stands stated in the expressions before mentioned, I shall not need to repeat. Who first let out those waters of strife, who hath filled their streams with bitterness, clamor, and false aspersions, is left to the judgment of all that fear the Lord, who shall have occasion at any time to reflect upon those discourses. However, it is come to pass, I must acknowledge, that the state of the controversy between us is now degenerated into such a useless strife of words as that I dare publicly own engagements into studies of so much more importance unto the interest of truth, piety, and literature, as that I cannot, with peace in my own retirement, be much farther conversant therein. Only, whereas I am not in the least convinced that Mr. Cawdrey hath given satisfaction to my former expostulations about the injuries done me in his other treatise, and hath evidently added to the number and weight of them in this, I could not but lay hold of this opportunity, given by my discharging a former promise, once more to remind him of some miscarriages, exceedingly unbecoming his profession and calling, which I shall do in a brief review of his epistle and treatise: upon the consideration whereof, without charging him or his way with schism in great letters on the title-page of this book, I doubt not but it will appear that the guilt of the crime he falsely, unjustly, and uncharitably chargeth upon others, may be laid more equitably at his own door; and that the shortness of the covering used by him and others to hide themselves from the inquisition made after them for schism, upon their own principles, will not be supplied by such outcries as those he is pleased to use after them who are least of all men concerned in the matter under contest, there being no solid medium whereby they may be impleaded. And in this discourse I shall, as I suppose, put an end to my engagement in this controversy. I know no man whose patience will enable him to abide always in the consideration of things to so little purpose.

    Were it not that men bear themselves on high by resting on the partial adherence of many to their dictates, it were impossible they should reap any contentment in their retirements from such a management of controversies as this: “Independency is a great schism, it hath made all the divisions amongst us.” “Brownists, Anabaptists, and all sectaries, are Independents.” “They deny our ministers and churches; they separate from us; all errors come from among them.” “This I have been told,” and, “That I have heard;” — [which] is the sum of this treatise. Who they are of whom he speaks; how they came into such a possession of all churchstate in England, that all that are not with them are schismatics; how, “de jure” or “de facto,” they came to be so instated; what claim they can make to their present stations without schism, on their own principles; whether, granting the church of England, as constituted when they and we began that which we call Reformation, to have been a true instituted church, they have any power of rule in it but what hath been got by violence; what that is purely theirs hath any pretense of establishment from the Scripture, antiquity, and the laws of this land; — I say, with these and the like things, which are incumbent on him to clear up before his charges with us will be of any value, our author troubleth not himself. But to proceed to the particulars by him insisted on. 1. He tells the reader in his epistle that his unwillingness to this rejoinder was heightened by the necessity he found of discovering some personal weaknesses and forgetfulnesses in me, upon my denial of some things which were known to be true if he should proceed therein. For what he intimates of the unpleasantness that it is to him to discover things of that importance in me, when he professeth his design to be to impair my authority so far that the cause I own may receive no countenance thereby, I leave it to Him who will one day reveal the secrets of all hearts, which at present are open and naked unto Him. But how, I pray, are the things by me denied known to be true? Seeing it was unpleasant and distasteful to him to insist upon them, men might expect that his evidence of them was not only open, clear, undeniable, and manifest as to its truth, but cogent as to their publication. The whole insisted on is, “If there be any truth in reports,” “hic nigrae succus loliginis, haec est aerugo mera.” Is this a bottom for a minister of the gospel to proceed upon to such charges as those insinuated? Is not the course of nature set on fire at this day by reports? Is any thing more contrary to the royal law of charity than to take up reports as the ground of charges and accusations? Is there any thing more unbecoming a man, — laying aside all considerations of Christianity, — than to suffer his judgment to be tainted, much more his words and public expressions in charging and accusing others to be regulated, by reports? And whereas we are commanded to speak evil of no man, may we not on this ground speak evil of all men, and justify ourselves by saying, “It is so, if reports be true?” The prophet tells us that a combination for his defaming and reproach was managed among his adversaries: Jeremiah 20:10, “I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, say they, and we will report it.” If they can have any to go before them in the transgression of that law, which He who knows how the tongues of men are “set on fire of hell” gave out to lay a restraint upon them, “Thou shalt not raise a false report,” Exodus 23:1, they will second it, and spread it abroad to the utmost, for his disadvantage and trouble. Whether this procedure of our reverend author come not up to the practice of their design, I leave to his own conscience to judge. Should men suffer their spirits to be heightened by provocations of this nature, unto a recharge from the same offensive dunghill of reports, what monsters should we speedily be transformed into! But this being far from being the only place wherein appeal is made to reports and hear-says by our author, I shall have occasion, in the consideration of the severals of them, to reassume this discourse. For what he adds about the space of time wherein my former reply was drawn up, because I know not whether he had heard any report insinuated to the contrary to what I affirmed, I shall not trouble him with giving evidence thereunto, but only add, that here he hath the product of half that time, which I now interpose upon the review of my transcribed papers; only, whereas it is said that Mr. Cawdrey is an ancient man, I cannot but wonder he should be so easy of belief. Aristotle, Rhetor. lib. 2. cap. 18, tells us, OiJ preszu>teroi , a]pistoi di j ejmpeiri>an , and not apt to believe, whence on all occasions of discourse prostiqe>asin ajei< to< i]swv kai< ta>ca? but he believes all that comes to hand with an easy faith, which he hath totally in his own power to dispose of at pleasure. That I was in passion when I wrote my review is his judgment; but this is but man’s day; we are in expectation of that wherein “the world shall be judged in righteousness.” It is too possible that my spirit was not in that frame, in all things, wherein it ought to have been; but that the reverend author knows not. I have nothing to say to this but that of the philosopher, j jEa>n ti>v soi ajpaggei>lh| o[ti oJ dei~na se kakw~v le>gei , mh< ajpologou~ pronta , ajll j ajpokri>nou o[ti ajgno>ei , ta< ganta moi kaka< ejpei< oujk a[n tau~ta mo>na e]legen , Epic., cap. 48. Much, I confess, was not spoken by me (which he afterward insisteth on) to the argumentative part of his book; which as in an answer I was not to look for, so to find had been a difficult task. As he hath nothing to say unto the differences among themselves, both in judgment and practice, so how little there is in his recrimination of the differences among us, — as, that one and the same man differeth from himself, which charge he casts upon Mr. Cotton and myself, — will speedily be manifested to all impartial men. For the treatise itself, whose consideration I now proceed unto, that I may reduce what I have to say unto it into the bounds intended, in confining my defensative unto this preface to the treatise of another, I shall refer it unto certain heads, that will be comprehensive of the whole, and give the reader a clear and distinct view thereof.

    I shall begin with that which is least handled in the two books of this reverend author, though the sum of what was pleaded by me in my treatise of schism. For the discovery of the true nature of schism, and the vindication of them who were falsely charged with the crime thereof, I laid down two principles as the foundation of all that I asserted in the whole cause insisted on, which may briefly be reduced to these two syllogisms: — 1. If in all and every place of the New Testament where there is mention made of schism, name or thing, in an ecclesiastical sense, there is nothing intended by it but a division in a particular church, then that is the proper Scripture notion of schism in the ecclesiastical sense; but in all and every place, etc.: ergo. The proposition being clear and evident in its own light, the assumption was confirmed in my treatise by an induction of the several instances that might any way seem to belong unto it. 2. My second principle was raised upon a concession of the general nature of schism, restrained with one necessary limitation, and amounts unto this argument: — If schism in an ecclesiastical sense be the breach of a union of Christ’s institution, then they who are not guilty of the breach of a union of Christ’s institution are not guilty of schism; but so is schism: ergo.

    The proposition also of this syllogism, with its inference, being unquestionable, for the confirmation of the assumption, I considered the nature of all church-union as instituted by Christ, and pleaded the innocency of those whose defense, in several degrees, I had undertaken, by their freedom from the breach of any church-union. Not finding the reverend author, in his first answer, to speak clearly and distinctly to either of those principles, but to proceed in a course of perpetual diversion from the thing in question, with reflections, charges, etc., — all rather, I hope, out of an unacquaintedness with the true nature of argumentation than any perverseness of spirit, in cavilling at what he found he could not answer, — I earnestly desired him, in my review, that we might have a fair and friendly meeting, Personally to debate those principles which he had undertaken to oppose, and so to prevent trouble to ourselves and others, in writing and reading things remote from the merit of the cause under agitation. What returns I have had hitherto the reader is now acquainted withal from his rejoinder, the particulars whereof shall be farther inquired into afterward.

    The other parts of his two books consist in his charges upon me about my judgment in sundry particulars, not relating in the least, that I can as yet understand, unto the controversy in hand. As to his excursions about Brownists, Anabaptists, Seekers, rending the peace of their churches, separating from them, the errors of the Separatists, and the like, I cannot apprehend myself concerned to take notice of them; to the other things an answer shall be returned and a defense made, so far as I can judge it necessary. It may be our anchor seeks a relief from the charge of schism that lies upon him and his party (as they are called) from others, by managing the same charge against them who, he thinks, will not return it upon them; but for my part, I shall assure him that were he not, in my judgment, more acquitted upon my principles than upon his own, I should be necessitated to stand upon even terms with him herein. But to have advantages from want of charity, as the Donatists had against the Catholics, is no argument of a good cause.

    In the first chapter there occurs not any thing of real difference, as to the cause under agitation, that should require a review, being spent wholly in things e]xw tou~ pra>gmatov , and therefore I shall briefly animadvert on what seems of most concernment therein, on the manner of his procedure.

    His former discourse, and this also, consisting much of my words perverted by adding in the close something that might wrest them to his own purpose, he tells me, in the beginning of his third chapter, that “this is to turn my testimony against myself which is,” as he saith, “an allowed way of the clearest victory,” which it seemeth he aimeth at; but nothing can be more remote from being defended with that pretense than this way of proceeding. It is not of urging a testimony from me against me that I complained, but the perverting of my words, by either heading or closing of them with his own, quite to other purposes than those of their own intendment; — a way whereby any man may make other men’s words to speak what he pleaseth; as Mr. Biddle, by his leading questions, and knitting of scriptures to his expressions in them, makes an appearance of constraining the word of God to speak out all his Socinian blasphemies.

    In this course he still continues, and his very entrance gives us a pledge of what we are to expect in the process of his management of the present business. Whereas I had said, that, “considering the various interests of parties at difference, there is no great success to be promised by the management of controversies, though with never so much evidence and conviction of truth;” to the repetition of my words he subjoins the instance of “sectaries, not restrained by the clearest demonstration of truth;” not weighing how facile a task it is to supply “Presbyterians” in their room; which in his account is, it seems, to turn his testimony against himself, and, as he somewhere phraseth it, “to turn the point of his sword into his own bowels.” But “nobis non tam licet esse disertis;” neither do we here either learn or teach any such way of disputation.

    His following leaves are spent, for the most part, in slighting the notion of schism by me insisted on, and in reporting my arguments for it, pp. 8,9,12, in such a way and manner as argues that he either never understood them or is willing to pervert them. The true nature and importance of them I have before laid down, and shall not now again repeat; though I shall add, that his frequent repetition of his disproving that principle, which it appears that he never yet contended withal in its full strength, brings but little advantage to his cause with persons whose interest doth not compel them to take up things on trust. How well he clears himself from the charge of reviling and using opprobrious, reproachful terms, although he profess himself to have been astonished at the charge, may be seen in his justification of himself therein, pp. 16-19, with his re-enforcing every particular expression instanced in; and yet he tells me, for inferring that he discovered sanguinary thoughts in reference unto them whose removal from their native soil into the wilderness he affirms England’s happiness would have consisted in, that he hath “much ado to forbear once more to say, ‘The Lord rebuke thee.’“ For my part, I have received such a satisfactory taste of his spirit and way, that as I shall not from henceforth desire him to keep in any thing that he can hardly forbear to let out, but rather to use his utmost liberty, so I must assure him that I am very little concerned, or not at all, in what he shall be pleased to say or to forbear for the time to come; himself hath freed me from that concernment.

    The first particular of value insisted on, is his charge upon me for the denial of all the churches of England to be true churches of Christ, except the churches gathered in a congregational way. Having frequently, and without hesitation, charged this opinion upon me in his first answer, knowing it to be very false, I expostulated with him about it in my review.

    Instead of accepting the satisfaction tendered in my express denial of any such thought or persuasion, or tendering any satisfaction as to the wrong done me, he seeks to justify himself in his charge, and so persisteth therein. The reasons he gives for his so doing are not unworthy a little to be remarked.

    The first is this: He “supposed me to be an Independent,” and therefore made that charge; the consequent of which supposition is much too weak to justify this reverend author in his accusation. Doth he suppose that he may without offense lay what he pleases to the charge of an Independent?

    But he saith, secondly, that he “took the word Independent generally, as comprehending Brownists, and Anabaptists, and other sectaries.” But herein also he doth but delude his own conscience, seeing he personally speaks to me and to my design in that book of schism which he undertook to confute; which also removes his third intimation, that he “formerly intended any kind of Independence,” etc. The rest that follow are of the same nature, and, however compounded, will not make a salve to heal the wound made in his reputation by his own weapon. For the learned author called “vox populi,” which he is pleased here to urge, I first question whether he be willing to be produced to maintain this charge; and if he shall appear, I must needs tell him (what he here questions whether it be so or no) that he is a very liar. For any principles in my treatise whence a denial of their ministers and churches may be regularly deduced, let him produce them if he can; and if not, acknowledge that there had been a more Christian and ingenuous way of coming off an engagement into that charge than that by him chosen to be insisted on. “Animos et iram ex crimine sumunt.” And again we have “vox populi” cited on the like occasion, p. 34, about my refusal to answer whether I were a minister or not; which as the thing itself, of such a refusal of mine, on any occasion in the world (because it must be spoken), is “purum putum mendacium,” so it is no truer that that was “vox populi” at Oxford, which is pretended. That which is “vox populi” must be public; “publicum” was once “populicum.”

    Now, set aside the whispers of, it may be, two or three ardelios, f52 notorious triflers, whose lavish impertinency will deliver any man from the danger of being slandered by their tongues, and there will be little ground left for the report that is fathered on “vox populi.” And I tell him here once again, — which is a sufficient answer, indeed, to his whole first chapter, — that I do not deny presbyterian churches to be true churches of Jesus Christ, nor the ministers of them to be true ministers, nor do maintain a nullity in their ordination, as to what is the proper use and end of salvation (taking it in the sense wherein by them it is taken), though I think it neither administered by them in due order, nor to have in itself that force and efficacy, singly considered, which by many of them is ascribed unto it. Thus much of my judgment I have publicly declared long ago; and I thought I might have expected, from persons professing Christianity, that they would not voluntarily engage themselves into an opposition against me, and, waiving my judgment, which I had constantly published and preached, have gathered up reports from private and table discourses, most of them false and untrue, all of them uncertain, the occasions and coherences of those discourses from whence they have been raised and taken being utterly lost, or at present by him wholly omitted. His following excursions, about a successive ordination from Rome, wherein he runs cross to the most eminent lights of all the reformed churches, and their declared judgments, with practice, in re-ordaining those who come unto them with that Roman stamp upon them, I shall not farther interest myself in, nor think myself concerned so to do, until I see a satisfactory answer given unto Beza and others on this very point. And yet I must here again profess that I cannot understand that distinction, of deriving ordination from the church of Rome, but not from the Roman church. Let him but seriously peruse these ensuing words of Beza, and tell me whether he have any ground of a particular quarrel against me upon this account: — “Sed praeterea quaenam ista est, quaeso, ordinaria vocatio, quam eos habuisse dicis, quos Deus paucis quibusdam exceptis, excitavit? Certe papistica. Nam haec tua verba sunt; hodie si episcopi Gallicanarum ecclesiarum se et suas ecclesias a tyrannide episcopi Romani vindicare velint, et eas ab omni idololatria et superstitione repurgare, non habent opus alia vocatione ab ea quam habent. Quid ergo? Papisticas ordinationes, — in quibus neque morum examen praecessit, neque leges ullae servatae sunt inviolabiliter ex divino jure in electionibus et ordinationibus praescriptae, in quibus puri etiam omnes canones impudentissime violati sunt: quae nihil aliud sunt, quam foedissima Romani prostibuli nundinatio, quavis meretricum mercede, quam Deus templo suo inferri prohibuit, inquinatior: quibus denique alii non ad praedicandum sed pervertendum evangelium: alii non ad docendum, sed ad rursus sacrificandum, et ad abominandum bde>lugma sunt ordinati, — usque adeo firmas tecum esse censebimus, ut quoties tali cuipiam pseudoepiscopo Deus concesserit, ad verum Christianismum transire, omnis ilia istiusmodi ordinationis impuritas simul expurgata censeatur? Imo quia sic animum per Dei gratiara mutavit, quo ore, quo pudore, qua conscientia papismum quidem detestabitur, suam autem inordinatissimam ordinationem non ejurabit? aut si, ejuret, quomodo ex illius jure auctoritatem dicendi habebit? Nec tamen nego quin tales, si probe doctrinam veram tenere, si honestis moribus praediti, si ad gregem pascendum apti comperiantur, ex pseudoepiscopis novi pastores, legitime designentur.”

    Thus he, who was thought then to speak the sense of the churches of Geneva and France, in his book against Saravia about the divers orders of ministers in the church.

    His plea for the church-authority of the pope, notwithstanding his being an idolater, a murderer, the man of sin, an adversary of Christ, because a civil magistrate doth not by any moral crime, or those whereof the pope is guilty, lose his jurisdiction and authority, considering the different principles, grounds, ends, laws, rules, privileges, of the authority of the one and the other, and the several tenures whereby the one doth hold and the other pretends to hold his power, is brought in to serve the turn in hand, and may be easily laid aside. And when he shall manifest that there is appointed by Christ one single high priest or prelate in the house of God, the whole church, and that office to be confined to one nation, one blood, one family, propagated by natural generation, without any provision of relief by any other way, person, or family, in case of miscarriage; and when he shall have proved that such an officer as the pope of Rome, in any one particular that constituteth him such an officer, was once instituted by Christ, — I shall farther attend unto his reason for his authority from that of the high priest’s among the Jews, which was not lost, as to its continuance in the family of Aaron, notwithstanding the miscarriage of some individual persons vested therewithal. In the close of the chapter he re-assumes his charge of my renouncing my own ordination, which, with great confidence, and without the least scruple, he had asserted in his answer. Of that assertion he now pretends to give the reasons, whereof the first is this: — 1. “The world looks on him as an Independent of the highest note; therefore, he hath renounced his ordination, and therefore I dare to say so.” So much for that reason. I understand neither the logic nor morality of this first reason. 2. He knows from good hands that some of the brethren have renounced their ordination; therefore, he durst say positively that I have renounced mine, Proverbs 12:18. 3. He hath heard that I dissuaded others from their ordination; and therefore he durst say I renounced my own. And yet I suppose he may possibly dissuade some from episcopal ordination; but I know it not, no more than he knows what he affirms of me, which is false. 4. He concludes from the principles in my book of schism, because I said that to insist upon a succession of ordination from antichrist and the beast of Rome would, if I mistake not, keep up in the this particular what God would have pulled down, therefore I renounced my ordination, when he knows that I avowed the validity of ordination on another account. 5. If all this will not do, he tells me of something that was said at a public meeting (at dinner, it seems) with the canons of Christ Church, — namely, that I valued not my ordination by the bishop of Oxford any more than a crumb upon my trencher; which words, whether ever they were spoken or no, or to what purpose, or in referene to what ordination (I mean of the two orders), or in what sense, or with what limitation, or as part of what discourse, or in comparison of what else, or whether solely in reference to the Roman succession, — in which sense I will have nothing to do with it, — I know not at all, nor will concern myself to inquire, being greatly ashamed to find men professing the religion of Jesus Christ so far forgetful of all common rules of civility and principles of of human society as to insist upon such vain, groundless reports as the foundation of accusations against their brethren. Nor do I believe that any one of the reverend persons quoted will own this information, although I shall not concern myself to make inquiry into their memories concerning any such passage or discourse.

    Much relief, for future, against these and the like mistakes may be afforded, from an easy obviation of the different senses wherein the term of ordination is often used. It is one thing when it is taken largely, for the whole appointment of a man to the ministry, — in which sense I desire our author to consider what is written by Beza among the Reformed, and Gerhard among the Lutheran divines, to omit innumerable others, — another thing when taken for the imposition of hands, whether by bishops or presbyters; concerning which single act, both as to its order and efficacy, I have sufficiently delivered my judgment, if he be pleased to take notice of it. I fear, indeed, that when men speak of an “ordained ministry,’ — which, in its true and proper sense, I shall with them contend for, — they often relate only to that solemnity, restraining the authoritative making of ministers singly thereunto, contrary to the intention and meaning of that expression in Scripture, antiquity, and the best reformed divines, both Calvinists and Lutherans; and yet it is not imaginable how some men prevail, by the noise and sound of that word, upon the prejudiced minds of partial, unstudied men. A little time may farther manifest, if it be not sufficiently done already, that another account is given of this matter by Clemens, Tertullian, Cyprian, Origen, Justin Martyr, and generally all the first writers of the Christians, besides the councils of old and late, with innumerable protestant authors of the best note, to the same purpose.

    This, I say, is the ground of this mistake: Whereas sundry things concur to the calling of ministers, as it belongs to the church of God, the pillar and ground of truth, the spouse of Christ Psalm 45:9, and mother of the family, or her that tarrieth at home, Psalm 68:12, unto whom all ministers are stewards, 1 Corinthians 4:1, even in the house of God, Timothy 3:15; and sundry qualifications are indispensably previously required in the persons to be called; overlooking the necessity of the qualifications required and omitting the duty an authority of the church, Acts 1:15-26, 6:2-6, 13:2,3, 14:23, the act of them who are not the whole church, Ephesians 4:11,12, but only a part of it, 1 Corinthians 3:5, 2 Corinthians 1:24, 1 Peter 5:3, as to ministry, consisting in the approbation and solemn confirmation of what is supposed to go before, hath in some men’s language gotten the name of “ordination,’’ and an interpretation of that name, to such an extent as to inwrap in it all that is indispensably necessary to the constitution or making of ministers: so that where that is obtained, in what order soever, or by whomsoever administered, who have first obtained it themselves, there is a lawful and sufficient calling to the ministry! Indeed, I know no error about the institutions of Christ attended with more pernicious consequences to the church of God than this, should it be practiced according to the force of the principle itself. Suppose six, eight, or ten men, who have themselves been formerly ordained, but now perhaps, not by any ecclesiastical censure, but by an act of the civil magistrate, are put out of their places for notorious ignorance and scandal, should concur and ordain a hundred ignorant and wicked persons like themselves to be ministers, must they not, on this principle, be all accounted ministers of Christ, and to be invested with all ministerial power, and so be enabled to propagate their kind to the end of the world? And, indeed, why should not this be granted, seeing the whole bulk of the papal ordination is contended for as valid? whereas it is notoriously known that sundry bishops among them (who perhaps received their own ordination as the reward of a whore), being persons of vicious lives, and utterly ignorant of the gospel, did sustain their pomp and sloth by selling “holy orders,” as they called them, to the scum and refuse of men. But of these things more in their proper place.

    Take then, reader, the substance of this chapter in this brief recapitulation: — 1. “He denies our churches to be true churches, and our ministers true ministers;” 2. “He hath renounced his own ordination;” 3. “When some young men came to advise about their ordination, he dissuaded them from it;” 4. “He saith he would maintain against all the ministers of England there was in Scripture no such thing as ordination;” 5. “That when he was chosen a parliament-man, he would not answer whether he was a minister or not;” — all which are notoriously untrue, and some of them, namely, the last two, so remote from any thing to give a pretense or color unto them, that I question whether Satan have impudence enough to own himself their author.

    And yet, from hear-says, reports, rumors, from table-talk, “vox populi,” and such other grounds of reasoning, this reverend author hath made them his own; and by such a charge he hath, I presume, in the judgment of all unprejudiced men, discharged me from farther attending to what he shall be prompted from the like principles to divulge, for the same ends and purposes which hitherto he hath managed, for the future. For my judgment about their ministry and ordination, about the nature and efficacy of ordination, the state and power of particular churches, my own station in the ministry, which I shall at all times, through the grace and assistance of Our Lord Jesus Christ, freely justify against men and devils, it is so well known that I shall not need here farther to declare it. For the true nature and notion of schism, alone by me inquired after in this chapter, as I said, I find nothing offered thereunto. Only, whereas I restrained the ecclesiastical use of the word “schism” to the sense wherein it is used in the places of Scripture that mention it with relation to church affairs, — which that it ought not to be so, nothing but asseverations to the contrary are produced to evince, — this is interpreted to extend to all that I would allow as to the nature of schism itself, which is most false; though I said, if I would proceed no farther, I might not be compelled so to do, seeing in things of this nature we may crave allowance to think and speak with the Holy Ghost. However, I expressly comprised in my proposition all the places wherein the nature of schism is delivered, under what terms or words soever. When, then, I shall be convinced that such discourses as those of this treatise, made up of diversions into things wholly foreign to the inquiry by me insisted on in the investigation of the true notion and nature of schism, with long talks about Anabaptists, Brownists, Sectaries, Independents, Presbyterians, ordination, with charges and reflections grounded on this presumption, [prove] that this author and his party (for we will no more contend about that expression) are “in solidum” possessed of all true and orderly church-state in England, so that whosoever are not of them are “schismatics,” and I know not what besides, he being — “gallinae fillus albae, Nos viles pulli nati infelicibus ovis,” Juv., 13:l4l, I shall farther attend unto them.

    I must farther add, that I was not so happy as to foresee that, because I granted the Roman party before the Reformation to have made outwardly a profession of the religion of Christ, — although I expressed them to be really a party combined together for all ends of wickedness, and, in particular, for the extirpation of the true church of Christ in the world, having no state of union but what the Holy Ghost calls “Babylon,” in opposition to “Zion,” — our reverend author would conclude, as he doth, p. 34, that I allowed them to be a true church of Christ; but it is impossible for wiser men than I to see far into the issue of such discourses, and therefore we must take in good part what doth fall out.

    And if the reverend author, instead of having his zeal warmed against me, would a little bestir his abilities to make out to the understandings and consciences of uninterested men, that, all ecclesiastical power being vested in the pope and councils, by the consent of that whole combination of men called the Church of Rome, and flowing from the pope in its execution to all others, — who, in the derivation of it from him, owned him as the immediate fountain of it, which they sware to maintain in him, and this in opposition to all church-power in any other persons whatsoever, — it was possible that any power should be derived from that combination but what came expressly from the fountain mentioned; I desire our author would consider the frame of spirit that was in this matter in them who first labored in the work of reformation, and to that end peruse the stories of Lasitius and Regenuolscius about the churches of Bohemia, Poland, and those parts of the world, especially the latter, from pp. 29,30, and forward. And as to the distinction used by some between the Papacy and the church of Rome, which our author makes use of to another purpose than those did who first invented it (extending it only to the consideration of the possibility of salvation for individual persons living in that communion before the Reformation), I hope he will not be angry if I profess my disability to understand it. All men cannot be wise alike. If the Papacy comprise the pope, and all papal jurisdiction and power, with the subjection of men thereunto; if it denote all the idolatries, false worship, and heresies of that society of men, — I do know that all those are confirmed by church-acts of that church, and that, in the church-public sense of that church, no man was a member of it but by virtue of the union that consisted in that Papacy, it being placed always by them in all their definitions of their church; as also, that there was neither church-order, nor church-power, nor church-act, nor church-confession, nor church-worship amongst them, but what consisted in that Papacy.

    Now, because nothing doth more frequently occur than the objection of the difficulty of placing the dispensation of baptism on a sure foot of account, in case of the rejection of all authoritative influence from Rome into the ministry of the reformed churches, with the insinuation of a supposition of the non-baptization of all such as derive not a title unto it by that means, they who do so being supposed to stand upon an unquestionable foundation, I shall a little examine the grounds of their security, and then compare them with what they have to plead who refuse to acknowledge the deriving any sap or nourishment from that rotten corrupt stock.

    It is, I suppose, taken for granted that an unbaptized person can never effectually baptize, let him receive what other qualifications soever that are to be super-added as necessary thereunto. If this be not supposed, the whole weight of the objection, improved by the worst supposition that can be made, falls to the ground. I shall also desire, in the next place, that as we cannot make the popish baptism better than it is, so, that we would not plead it to be better, or any other than they profess it to be, nor pretend that though it be rotten or null in the foundation, yet by continuance and time it might obtain validity and strength. When the claim is by succession from such a stock or root, if you suppose once a total intercision in the succession from that stock or root, there is an utter end put to that claim. Let us now consider how the case is with them from whom this claim is derived. 1. It is notoriously known that, amongst them, the validity of the sacraments depends upon the intention of the administrator. It is so with them as to every thing they call a sacrament. Now, to take one step backwards, that baptism will by some of ours be scarce accounted valid which is not administered by a lawful minister. Suppose now that some pope, ordaining a bishop in his stable to satisfy a whore, had not an intention to make him a bishop (which is no remote surmise), he being no bishop rightly ordained, all the priests by him afterward consecrated were indeed no priests, and so, indeed, had no power to administer any sacramerits: and so, consequently, the baptism that may lie, for aught we know, at the root of that which some of us pretend unto, was originally absolutely null and void, and could never by tract of time be made valid or effectual, for, like a muddy fountain, the farther it goes, the more filthy it is. Or, suppose that any priest, baptizing one who afterwards came to be pope, from whom all authority in that church doth flow and is derived, had no intention to baptize him, what will become of all that ensues thereon?

    It is endless to pursue the uncertainties and entanglements that ensue on this head of account, and sufficiently easy to manifest that whosoever resolves his interest in gospel privileges into this foundation can have no assurance of faith, nay, nor tolerably probable conjecture that he is baptized, or was ever made partaker of any ordinance of the gospel. Let them that delight in such troubled waters sport themselves in them. For my own part, — considering the state of that church for some years if not ages, wherein the fountains of all authority amongst them were full of filth and blood, their popes, upon their own confession, being made, set up, and pulled down, at the pleasure of vile, impudent, domineering strumpets, and supplying themselves with officers all the world over of the same spirit and stamp with themselves, and that for the most part for hire, being in the meantime all idolaters to a man, — I am not willing to grant that their good and upright intention is necessary to be supposed as a thing requisite unto my interest in any privilege of the gospel of Christ. 2. It is an ecclesiastical determination, of irrefragable authority amongst them, that whosoever he be that administers baptism, so he use the matter and form, that baptism is good and valid, and not to be reiterated; yea, Pope Nicholas, in his resolutions and determinations upon the inquiry of the Bulgarians (whose decrees are authentic and recorded in their councils, tom. 2. Crab. p. 144), declares the judgment of that church to the full.

    They tell him that many in their nation were baptized by an unknown person, a Jew or a Pagan, they knew not whether, and inquire of him whether they were to be rebaptized or no; whereunto he answers: “Si in nomine S.S. Trinitatis, vel tantum in Christi nomine, sicut in Actis apostolorum legimus, baptizati sunt, unum quippe idemque est, ut S.

    Ambrosius expressit, constat eos denuo non esse baptizandos.” If they were baptized in the name of the Trinity, or of Christ, they are not to be baptized again. Let a blasphemous Jew or Pagan do it, so it be done, the work is wrought, grace conveyed, and baptism valid! The constant practice of women baptizing amongst them is of the same import. And what doth Mr. Cawdrey think of this kind of baptism? Is it not worth the contending about, to place it in the derived succession of ours? Who knows but that some of these persons, baptized by a counterfeit impostor, on purpose to abuse and defile the institutions of our blessed Savior, might come to be baptizers themselves, yea, bishops or popes, from whom all ecclesiastical authority was to be derived? and what evidence or certainty can any man have that his baptism doth not flow from this fountain. 3. Nay, upon the general account, if this be required as necessary to the administration of that ordinance, that he that doth baptize be rightly and effectually baptized himself, who can in faith bring an infant to any to be baptized, unless he himself saw that person rightly baptized?

    As to the matter of baptism, then, we are no more concerned than as to that of ordination. By what ways or means soever any man comes to be a minister according to the mind of Jesus Christ, by that way and means he comes to have the power for a due administration of that ordinance; concerning which state of things our author may do well to consult Beza in the place mentioned. Many other passages there are in this chapter that might be remarked, and a return easily made according to their desert of untruth and impertinency; but the insisting on such things looks more like children’s playing at push-pin than the management of a serious disputation. Take an instance. Page 23, he seems to be much offended with my commending him, and tells me, as Jerome said of Rufinus, “I wrong him with praises ;” when yet the utmost I say of him is, that “I had received a better character of him than he had given of himself in his book,” p. 10 [214]; and that “his proceeding was unbecoming his worth, gravity, and profession,” p. 46 [227], or “so grave and reverend a person as he is reported to be;” p. 121 [234]; wherein, it seems, I have transgressed the rule, Mh>pot j e+ e]rdein ge>ronta .

    The business of his second chapter is, to make good his former charge of my inconstancy and inconsistency with myself as to my former and present opinions, which he had placed in the frontispiece of his other treatise. The impertinency of this chapter had been intolerable, but that the loose discourses of it are relieved by a scheme of my selfcontradictions, in the close. His design, he professeth, in his former discourse, was, not to blast my reputation or to “cause my person to suffer, but to prevent the prevalency of my way by the authority of my person;” that is, it was not his intention, it was only his intention for such a purpose! I bless my God I have good security, through grace, that whether he, or others like-minded with himself, intend any such thing or no, in those proceedings of his and theirs, which seemed to have in their own nature a tendency thereunto, my reputation shall yet be preserved in that state and condition as is necessary to accompany me in the duties and works of my generation, that I shall, through the hand of God, be called out unto. And, therefore, being prepared in some measure to go through good report and bad report, I shall give him assurance that I am very little concerned in such attempts, from whatever intention they do proceed; only, I must needs tell him that he consulted not his own reputation with peaceable, godly men, whatever else he omitted, in the ensuing comparing of me to the seducers in Jude, called “wandering planets,” for their inconstancy and inconsistency with themselves, — according to the exposition that was needful for the present turn.

    But seeing the scheme at the close must bear the weight of this charge, let us briefly see what it amounts unto, and whether it be a sufficient basis of the super-struction that is raised upon it. Hence it is that my inconsistency with myself must be remarked in the title page of his first treatise; from hence must my authority (which what it is I know not) be impaired, and myself be compared to cursed apostates and seducers, and great triumph be made upon my self-inconsistency.

    The contradictions pretended are taken out of two books, the one written in the year 1643, the other in 1657, and are as follow: — He spake of Rome as a “collapsed, corrupted church-state,” p. 40 [p. 37.] He says, “Rome we account no church at all,” p. 156 [p. 155.] “Crimen inauditum, C. Caesar.” “Is it meet that any one should be tolerated that is thus woefully inconsistent with himself? What! speak of Rome as a collapsed church in Italy, and within thirteen or fourteen years after to say it is no church at all.” Well! though I may say there is indeed no contradiction between these assertions, seeing in the latter place I speak of Rome as that church is stated by themselves, when yet I acknowledge there may be corrupted churches both in Rome and Italy, in the same treatise; yet I do not find that in the place directed unto, I have in terms, or in just consequence, at all granted the church of Rome to be a collapsed church; nay, the church of Rome is not once mentioned in the whole page, nor as such is spoken of. And what shall we think of this proceeding? But yet I will not so far offend against my sense of my own weakness, ignorance, and frailty, as to use any defensative against this charge. Let it pass at any rate that any sober man, freed from pride, passion, selffullness, and prejudice, shall be pleased to put upon it: — — oJde< oJrw~n tou~v no>mouv Li>an ajkrizw~v , sukofa>nthv fai>netai .

    But the second instance will make amends, and take more of the weight of this charge upon its shoulders. Take it, then, as it lies in its triple column: — “Gifts in the person and consent of people are warrant enough to make a man a preacher, in an extraordinary case only,” pp. 15,40 [pp. 18, 37].

    Denying our ordination to be sufficient, he says “he may have that which indeed constitutes him a minister, — namely, gifts and submission by the people,” p. 198 [p. 172]. “I am punctually of the same mind still,” p. 40 [p. 226 ]. Yet had said in his first book, p. 46 [p. 43], “As to formal teaching is required, 1. Gifts; 2. Authority from the church,” — if he do not equivocate.

    I must confess I am here at a stand to find out the pretended contradiction, especially laying aside the word “only” in the first column, which is his, and not mine. By a “preacher,” in the first place, I intend a “minister.”

    Gifts, and consent or submission of the people, I affirm in both places to be sufficient to constitute a man a minister in extraordinary cases, — that is, when imposition of hands by a presbytery may not be obtained in due order, according to the appointment of Jesus Christ. That the consent and submission of the people, which include election, have nothing of authority in them, I never said. The superadded act of the imposition of hands by a presbytery, when it may be regularly obtained, is also necessary. But that there is any contradiction in my words (although, in truth, they are not my words, but an undue collection from them), or in this author’s inference from them, or any color of equivocation, I profess I cannot discern. In this place Mr. Cawdrey, oujk ajll j ejdo>khsen ijdei~n dia< nu>kta silh>nhn . Pass we to the third: — He made the union of Christ and believers to be mystical, p. 21 [p. 129].

    He makes the union to be personal, pp. 94, 95 [p. 22].

    I wish our reverend author, for his own sake, had omitted this instance, because I am enforced, in my own necessary defense, to let him know that what he assigns to me in his second column is notoriously false, denied and disproved by me in the very place and treatise wherein I have handled the doctrine of the indwelling of the Spirit; and whether he will hear or forbear, I cannot but tell him that this kind of dealing is unworthy his calling and profession. His following deductions and inferences, whereby he endeavors to give countenance to this false and calumnious charge, arise from ignorance of the doctrine that he seeks to blemish and oppose.

    Though the same Spirit dwell in Christ and us, yet he may have him in fullness, we in measure; — fullness and measure relating to his communication of graces and gifts, which are arbitrary to him; indwelling, to his person. That the Spirit animates the catholic church, and is the author of its spiritual life by a voluntary act of his power, as the soul gives life to the body by a necessary act, by virtue of its union, — for [that] life is “actus vivificantis in vivificatum per unionem utriusque,” — is the common doctrine of divines. But yet the soul being united to the body as “pars essentialis suppositi,” and the Spirit dwelling in the person as a free inhabitant, the union between Christ and the person is not of the same kind with the union of soul and body. Let our author consult Zanchy on the second of the Ephesians, and he will not repent him of his labor; or, if he please, an author whom I find him often citing, namely, Bishop Hall, about union with Christ. And for my concernment in this charge, I shall subjoin the words from whence it must be taken, p. 133 of my book of Perseverance. f56 “1. The first signal issue and effect which is ascribed to this indwelling of the Spirit is union; not a personal union with himself, which is impossible. He doth not assume our nature, and so prevent our personality, which would make us one person with him; but dwells in our persons, keeping his own, and leaving us our personality infinitely distinct. But it is a spiritual union, the great union mentioned so often in the Gospel, that is the sole fountain of our blessedness, our union with the Lord Christ, which we have thereby. “Many thoughts of heart there have been about this union; what it is, wherein it doth consist, the causes, manner, and effects of it, The Scripture expresses it to be very eminent, near, durable; setting it out for the most part by similitudes and metaphorical illustrations, to lead poor weak creatures into some useful, needful acquaintance with that mystery, whose depths, in this life, they shall never fathom. That many, in the days wherein we live, have miscarried in their conceptions of it is evident. Some, to make out their imaginary union, have destroyed the person of Christ; and, fancying a way of uniting man to God by him, have left him to be neither God nor man. Others have destroyed the person of believers; affirming that, in their union with Christ, they lose their own personality, — that is, cease to be men, or at least those are [or ?] these individual men. “I intend not now to handle it at large, but only, — and that I hope, without offense, — to give in my thoughts concerning it, as far as it receiveth light from, and relateth unto, what hath been before delivered concerning the indwelling of the Spirit, and that without the least contending about other ways of expression.” So far there, with much more to the purpose. And in the very place of my book of schism referred to by this author, I affirm, as the head of what I assert, that by the indwelling of the Spirit, Christ personal and his church do become one Christ mystical, Corinthians 12:12; the very expression insisted on by him in my former treatise. And so you have an issue of this self-contradiction; concerning which, though reports be urged for some other things, Mr. Cawdrey might have said what Lucian doth of his true history, Gra>fw toi>nun peri< w=n mht j ei+don , mht j e]paqon , mh>te par j a]llwn ejpuqo>mhn .

    Let us, then, consider the fourth, which is thus placed: — 1. “In extraordinary cases, every one that undertakes to preach the gospel must have an immediate call from God,” p. 28 [p. 28.] 2. Yet required no more of before but “the gifts and consent of the people, which are ordinary and mediate calls,” p. 15 [p. 18], neither is here any need or use of an immediate call, p. 53 [p. 48.] 3. To assure a man that he is extraordinarily called, he gives three ways: “1. Immediate revelation; 2. Concurrence of Scripture rule; 3. Some outward acts of providence;” — the two last whereof are mediate calls, p. 30 [p. 29.] All that is here remarked and cast into three columns, I know not well why, is taken out of that one treatise of “The Duty of Pastors and People;” and could I give myself the least assurance that any one would so far concern himself in this charge as to consult the places from whence the words are pretended to be taken, to see whether there be any thing in them to answer the cry that is made, I should spare myself the labor of adding any one syllable towards their vindication, and might most safely so do, there being not the least color of opposition between the things spoken of.

    In brief, extraordinary cases are not all of one sort and nature; in some an extraordinary call may be required, in some not. Extraordinary calls are not all of one kind and nature neither. Some may be immediate from God, in the ways there by me described; some calls may be said to be extraordinary, because they do in some things come short of or go beyond the ordinary rule that ought to be observed in well-constituted churches.

    Again concurrence of Scripture rules and acts of outward providence may be such sometimes as are suited to an ordinary, sometimes to an extraordinary call; all which are at large unfolded in the places directed unto by our author, and all laid in their own order, without the least shadow of contradiction. But it may sometimes be said of good men, as the satirist said of evil women, “Fortem animum praestant rebus quas turpiter audent?” Go we to the next: — 1. “The church government from which I desire not to wander is the presbyterial.’’ 2. He now is engaged in the independent way. 3. Is settled in that way, which he is “ready to maintain, and knows it will be found his rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus” “Hinc mihi sola mali labes.” This is that inexpiable crime that I labor under. An account of this whole business I have given in my review, so that I shall not here trouble the reader with a repetition of what he is so little concerned in. I shall only add, that whereas I suppose Mr. Cawdrey did subscribe unto the three articles at his ordination, were it of any concernment to the church of God or the interest of truth, or were it a comely and a Christian part to engage in such a work, I could manifest contradictions between what he then solemnly subscribed to and what he hath since written and preached, manifold above what he is able to draw out of this alteration of my judgment. Be it here, then, declared, that whereas I some time apprehended the presbyterial, synodical government of churches to have been fit to be received and walked in (then when I knew not but that it answered those principles which I had taken up, upon my best inquiry into the word of God), I now profess myself to be satisfied that I was then under a mistake, and that I do now own, and have for many years lived in, the way and practice of that called congregational. And for this alteration of judgment, of all men I fear least a charge from them, or any of them, whom within a few years we saw reading the service-book in their surplices, etc.; against which things they do now inveigh and declaim. What influence the perusal of Mr. Cotton’s book of the Keys had on my thoughts in this business I have formerly declared. The answer to it (I suppose that written by himself) is now recommended to me by this author, as that which would have perhaps prevented my change; but I must needs tell him, that as I have perused that book, many years ago, without the effect intimated, so they must be things written with another frame of spirit, evidence of truth, and manner of reasoning, than any I can find in that book, that are likely for the future to lay hold upon my reason and understanding. Of my settlement in my present persuasion I have not only given him an account formerly, but, with all Christian courtesy, tendered myself in a readiness personally to meet him, to give him the proofs and reasons of my persuasions; which he is pleased to decline, and return, in way of answer, that “I complimented him after the mode of the times,” when no such thing was intended; and thereupon my words of desiring liberty to wait upon him are expressed, but the end and purpose for which it was desired are concealed in an “etc.”

    But he adds another instance: — “ Men ought not to cut themselves from the communion of the church, to rend the body of Christ, and break the sacred bond of chanty,” p. 48 [p. 45.] He says, “separation is no schism, nor schism any breach of charity,” pp. 48,49 [pp. 110, 111.] “There is not one word in either of these cautions that I do not still own and allow,” p. 44 [p. 226] sure not without equivocation.

    I have before owned this caution as consistent with my present judgment, as expressed in my book of schism, and as it is indeed; wherein lies the appearance of contradiction I am not able to discern. Do not I, in my book of schism, declare and prove that men ought not to cut themselves from the communion of the church; that they ought not to rend the body of Christ; that they ought not to break the sacred bonds of charity? Is there any word or tittle in the whole discourse deviating from these principles?

    How and in what sense separation is not schism, that the nature of schism doth not consist in a breach of charity, the treatise instanced will so far declare, as withal to convince those that shall consider what is spoken, that our author scarce keeps close either to truth or charity in his framing of this contradiction. The close of the scheme lies thus: — “I conceive they ought not at all to be allowed the benefit of private meeting who wilfully abstain from the public congregations.” “As for liberty to be allowed to those that meet in private, I confess myself to be otherwise minded.”

    I remember that about fifteen years ago, meeting occasionally with a learned friend, we fell into some debate about the liberty that began then to be claimed by men, differing from what had been, and what was then likely to be, established. Having at that time made no farther inquiry into the grounds and reasons of such liberty than what had occurred to me in the writings of the Remonstrants, all whose plea was still pointed towards the advantage of their own interest, I delivered my judgment in opposition to the liberty pleaded for, which was then defended by my learned friend.

    Not many years after, discoursing the same difference with the same person, we found immediately that we had changed stations, — I pleading for an indulgence of liberty, he for restraint. Whether that learned and worthy person be of the same mind still that then he was or no, directly I know not; but this I know, that if he be not, considering the compass of circumstances that must be taken in to settle a right judgment in this case of liberty, and what alterations influencing the determination of this case we have had of late in this nation, he will not be ashamed to own his change, being a person who despises any reputation but what arises from the embracing and pursuit of truth. My change I here own; my judgment is not the same, in this particular, as it was fourteen years ago: and in my change I have good company, whom I need not to name. I shall only say, my change was at least twelve years before the “Petition and Advice,” wherein the parliament of the three nations is come up to my judgment.

    And if Mr. Cawdrey hath any thing to object to my present judgment, let him, at his next leisure, consider the treatise that I wrote in the year about toleration, where he will find the whole of it expressed. I suppose he will be doing, and that I may almost say of him, as Polyeuctus did of Spensippus, To< mh< du>nasqai hJsucia>n a]gein uJpo< th~v tu>chv ejn pentasuri>ggw| no>sw| dedeme>non . And now, Christian reader, I leave it to thy judgment whether our author had any just cause of all his outcries of my inconstancy and self-contradiction, and whether it had not been advisable for him to have passed by this seeming advantage for the design he professed to manage, rather than to have injured his own conscience and reputation to so little purpose.

    Being sufficiently tired with the consideration of things of no relation to the cause at first proposed (but, “This saith he, this the Independents, this the Brownists and Anabaptists,” etc.), I shall now only inquire after that which is set up in opposition to any of the principles of my treatise of schism before mentioned, or any of the propositions of the syllogisms wherein they are comprised at the beginning of this discourse; remarking in our way some such particular passages as it will not be to the disadvantage of our reverend author to be reminded of. Of the nature of the thing inquired after, in the third chapter I find no mention at all; only, he tells me by the way that the doctor’s assertion that “my book about schism was one great schism,” was not nonsense, but usual rhetoric; wherein profligate sinners may be called by the name of sin, and therefore a book about schism may be called a schism. I wish our author had found some other way of excusing his doctor than by making it worse himself.

    In the fourth chapter he comes to the business itself; and if, in passing through that, with the rest that follow, I can fix on any thing rising up with any pretense of opposition to what I have laid down, it shall not be omitted. For things by myself asserted, or acknowledged on all hands, or formerly ventilated to the utmost, I shall not again trouble the reader with them. Such are the positions about the general nature of schism in things national and political, antecedently considered to the limitation and restriction of it to its ecclesiastical use; the departure from churches, voluntary or compelled, etc.; — all which were stated in my first treatise, and are not directly opposed by our author. Such, also, is that doughty controversy he is pleased to raise and pursue about the seat and subject of schism, with its restriction to the instituted worship of God, pp. 18,19; so placed by me to distinguish the schism whereof we speak from that which is national, as also from such differences and breaches as may fall out amongst men, few or more, upon civil and national accounts; — all which I exclude from the enjoyment of any room or place in our consideration of the true nature of schism, in its limited ecclesiastical sense. The like, also, may be affirmed concerning the ensuing strife of words about separation and schism, as though they were, in my apprehension of them, inconsistent: which is a fancy no better grounded than sundry others which our reverend author is pleased to make use of. His whole passage, also, receives no other security than what is afforded to it by turning my universal proposition into a particular. What I say of all places in the Scripture where the name or thing of schism is used in an ecclesiastical sense, as relating to a gospel church, he would restrain to that one place of the Corinthians, where alone the word is used in that sense. However, if that one place be all, my proposition is universal. Take, then, my proposition in its extent and latitude, and let him try once more, if he please, what he hath to object to it, for as yet I find no instance produced to alleviate its truth. He much, also, insists that there may be a separation in a church where there is no separation from a church; and saith this was at first by me denied. That it was denied by me he cannot prove; but that the contrary was proved by me is evident to all impartial men that have considered my treatise, although I cannot allow that the separation in the church of Corinth was carried to that height as is by him pretended, — namely, as to separate from the ordinance of the Lord’s supper. Their disorder and division about and in its administration are reproved, not their separation from it. Only, on that supposition made, I confess I was somewhat surprised with the delivery of his judgment in reference to many of his own party, whom he condemns of schism for not administering the Lord’s supper to all the congregation with whom they pray and preach. I suppose the greatest part of the most godly and able ministers of the presbyterian way in England and Scotland are here cast into the same condition of schismatics with the Independents; and the truth, is, I am not yet without hopes of seeing a fair coalescency in love and church-communion between the reforming Presbyterians and Independents, though for it they shall with some suffer under the unjust imputation of schism.

    But it is incredible to think whither men will suffer themselves to be carried “studio partium,” and ajmetri>a| ajnqolkh~v . Hence have we the strange notions of this author about schism: decays in grace are schism, and errors in the faith are schism; and schism and apostasy are things of the same kind, differing only in degree, because the one leads to the other, as one sin of one kind doth often to another, — drunkenness to whoredom, and envy and malice to lying; and differences about civil matters, like that of Paul and Barnabas, are schism; and this, by one blaming me for a departure from the sense of antiquity, unto which these insinuations are so many monsters. Let us, then, proceed; That Acts 14:4, 19:9,18, are pertinently used to discover and prove the nature of schism in an evangelically-ecclesiastical sense, or were ever cited by any of the ancients to that purpose, I suppose our author, on second consideration, will not affirm. I understand not the sense of this argument: “‘The multitude of the city was divided, and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles;’ therefore, schism in a gospel church-state is not only a division in a church,” or that it is a separation into new churches, or that it is something more than the breach of the union appointed by Christ in an instituted church. Much less doth any thing of this nature appear from Paul’s separating the disciples whom he had converted to the faith from the unbelieving, hardened Jews; an account whereof is given us, Acts 19:9. So, then, that in this chapter there is any thing produced “de novo” to prove that the precise Scripture notion of schism, in its ecclesiastical sense, extends itself any farther than differences, divisions, separations in a church, and that a particular church, I find not; and do once more desire our author, that if he be otherwise minded, to spare such another trouble to ourselves and others as that wherein we are now engaged, he would assign me some time and place to attend him for the clearing of the truth between us.

    Of schism, Acts 20:30, Hebrews 10:25, Jude 19, there is no mention; nor are those places interpreted of any such thing by any expositors, new or old, that ever I yet saw; nor can any sense be imposed on them inwrapping the nature of schism with the least color or pretense of reason.

    But now, by our author schism and apostasy are made things of one kind, differing only in degrees, p. 107; so confounding schism and heresy, contrary to the constant sense of all antiquity. Acts 20:30, the apostle speaks of men “speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples,” — that is, teaching them false doctrines, contrary to the truths wherein they had been by him instructed, in his revealing unto them “the whole counsel of God,” verse 27. This by the ancients is called heresy, and is contradistinguished from schism by them constantly; so Austin a hundred times. To draw men from the church by drawing them into pernicious errors, false doctrine being the cause of their falling off, is not schism, nor so called in Scripture, nor by any of the ancients that ever yet I observed.

    That the design of the apostle, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, is to preserve and keep them from apostasy unto Judaism, besides that it is attested by a cloud of witnesses, is too evident from the thing itself to be denied. Chapter 10:25, he warns them of a common entrance into that fearful condition which he describes, verse 26. Their neglect of the Christian assemblies was the door of their apostasy to Judaism. What is this to schism? Would we charge a man with that crime whom we saw neglecting our assemblies, and likely to fall into Judaism? Are there not more forcible considerations to deal with him upon? and doth not the apostle make use of them? Jude 19 hath been so far spoken unto already that it may not fairly be insisted on again. “Parvas habet spes Troja, si tales habet.”

    In the entrance of the fifth chapter he takes advantage from my question, p. 147 [p. 263], “Who told him that raising causeless differences in a church, and then separating from it, is not in my judgment schism?” where the first part of the assertion included in that interrogation expresseth the formal nature of schism, which is not destroyed, nor can any man be exonerated of its guilt, by the subsequent crime of separation, whereby it is aggravated. 1 John 2:19 is again mentioned to this purpose of schism, to as little purpose; so also is Hebrews 10:25. Both places treat of apostates, who are charged and blamed under other terms than that of schism. There is in such departures, as in every division whatever of that which was in union, somewhat of the general nature of schism; but that particular crime and guilt of schism, in its restrained, ecclesiastical sense, is not included in them.

    In his following discourse he renews his former charges, of denying their ordinances and ministry, of separating from them, and the like. As to the former part of this charge I have spoken in the entrance of this discourse; for the latter, of separating from them, I say we have no more separated from them than they have from us. Our right to the celebration of the ordinances of God’s worship, according to the light we have received from him, is, in this nation, as good as theirs; and our plea from the gospel we are ready to maintain against them, according as we shall at any time be called thereunto. If any of our judgment deny them to be churches, I doubt not but he knows who comes not behind in returnal of charges on our churches. Doth the reverend author think or imagine that we have not, in our own judgment, more reason to deny their churches and to charge them with schism, though we do neither, than they have to charge us therewith and to deny our churches? Can any thing be more fondly pretended than that he hath proved that we have separated from them? upon which, p. 105, he requires the performance of my promise to retreat from the state wherein I stand upon the establishment of such proof. Hath he proved the due administration of ordinances amongst them whom he pleads for? Hath he proved any church-union between them as such and us? Hath he proved us to have broken that union? What will not self-fullness and prejudice put men upon!

    How came they into the sole possession of all church-state in England, so that whoever is not of them and with them must be charged to have separated from them? Mr. Cawdrey says, indeed, that the episcopal men and they agree in substantials, and differ only in circumstantials, but that they and we differ in substantials. But let him know they admit not of his compliances; they say he is a schismatic, and that all his party are so also.

    Let him answer their charge solidly upon his own principles, and not think to own that which he hath the weakest claim imaginable unto, and was never yet in possession of. We deny that, since the gospel came into England, the presbyterian government, as by them stated was ever set up in England, but in the wills of a party of men; so that here, as yet, unless as it lies in particular congregations, where our right is as good as theirs, none have separated from it that I know of, though many cannot consent unto it.

    The first ages we plead ours, the following were unquestionably episcopal.

    In the beginning of chapter the sixth he attempts to disprove my assertion, that the union of the church catholic visible, which consists in the “professing of the saving doctrine of the gospel,” etc., is broken only by apostasy. To this end he confounds apostasy and schism, affirming them only to differ in degrees; which is a new notion, unknown to antiquity, and contrary to all sound reason. By the instances he produceth to this purpose he endeavors to prove that there are things which break this union, whereby this union is not broken. Whilst a man continues a member of that church, which he is by virtue of the union thereof and his interest therein, by no act doth he, or can he, break that union.

    The partial breach of that union, which consists in the profession of the truth, is error and heresy, and not schism. Our author abounds here in new notions, which might easily be discovered to be as fond as new, were it worth while to consider them; of which in brief before. Only, I wonder why, giving way to such thoughts as these, he should speak of men with contempt under the name of notionists, as he doth of Dr. Du Moulin; but the truth is, the doctor hath provoked him. And were it not for some considerations that are obvious to me, I should almost wonder why this author should sharpen his leisure and zeal against me, who scarce ever publicly touched the grounds and foundations of that cause which he hath so passionately espoused, and pass by him who, both in Latin and English, hath laid his axe to the very root of it, upon principles sufficiently destructive to it, and so apprehended by the best learned in our author’s way that ever these nations brought forth. But, as I said, reasons lie at hand why it was more necessary to give me this opposition; which yet hath not altered my resolution of handling this controversy in another manner, when I meet with another manner of adversary.

    Page 110, he fixes on the examination of a particular passage about the disciples of John, mentioned Acts 19:2,3, of whom I affirmed that it is probable they were rather ignorant of the miraculous dispensations of the Holy Ghost than of the person of the Holy Ghost; alleging to the contrary, that the words are “more plain and full than to be so eluded, and, for aught appears, John did not baptize into the name of the Holy Ghost.”

    I hope the author doth not so much dwell at home as to suppose this to be a new notion of mine. Who almost of late, in their critical notes, have not either (at least) considered it or confirmed it? Neither is the question into whose name they were expressly baptized, but in what doctrine they were instructed. He knows who denies that they were at all actually baptized, before they were baptized by Paul. Nor ought it to be granted, without better proof than any which as yet hath been produced, that any of the saints under the Old Testament were ignorant of the being of the Holy Ghost; neither do the words require the sense by him insisted on. jAll j oujde< eij Pneu~ma a[gio>n ejstin , hJkou>samen , do no more evince the person of the Holy Ghost to be included in them than in those other, John 7:39, Ou]pw h+n Pneu~ma a[gion . The latter, in the proper sense, he will not contend for; nor can, therefore, the expression being uniform, reasonably for the former. Speaking of men openly and notoriously wicked, and denying them to be members of any church whatever, he bids me answer his arguments to the contrary from 1 Corinthians 5:7, Thessalonians 3:14; and I cannot but desire him that he would impose that task on them that have nothing else to do: for my own part, I shall not entangle myself with things to so little purpose. Having promised my reader to attend only to that which looks toward the merit of the case, I must crave his pardon that I have not been able to make good my resolution. Meeting with so little, or nothing at all, which is to that purpose, I find myself entangled in the old diversions that we are now plentifully accustomed unto; but yet I shall endeavor to recompense this loss by putting a speedy period to this whole trouble, despairing of being able to tender him any other satisfaction whilst I dwell on this discourse.

    In the meantime, to obviate all strife of words, if it be possible, for the future, I shall grant this reverend author that, in the general large notion of schism, which his opposition to that insisted on by me hath put him upon, I will not deny but that he and I are both schismatics, and any thing else shall be so that he would have to be so, rather than to be engaged in this contest any farther. In this sense he affirms that there was a schism between Paul and Barnabas, and so one of them at least was a schismatic; as also, he affirms the same of two lesser men, though great in their generation, Chrysostom and Epiphanius. So error and heresy, if he please, shall be schism from the catholic church; and scandal of life shall be schism. And his argument shall be true, that schism is a breach of union in a church of Christ’s institution; therefore, in that which is so only by call, not to any end of joint worship as such; — of any union, that which consists in the profession of the saving truths of the gospel; and so there may be a schism in the catholic church. And so those Presbyterians that reform their congregations, and do not administer the sacraments to all promiscuously, shall be guilty of schism; and, indeed, as to me, what else he pleaseth, for my inquiry concerns only the precise limited nature of schism, in its evangelically-ecclesiastical sense.

    Neither shall I at present (allotting very few hours to the despatch of this business, which yet I judge more than it deserves) consider the scattered ensuing passages about ordination, church-government, number of elders, and the like; which all men know not at all to belong unto the main controversy which was by me undertaken, and that they were, against all laws of disputation, plucked violently into this contest by our reverend author. One thing I cannot pass by, and it will, upon the matter, put a close to what I shall at present offer to this treatise. Having said that “Christ hath given no direction for the performance of any duty of worship of sovereign institution, but only in them and by them” (meaning particular churches), he answers, that “if he would imply that a minister in or of a particular church may perform those ordinances without those congregations, he contradicts himself, by saying a particular church is the seat of all ordinances.” But why so, I pray? May not a particular church be the seat of all ordinances subjectively, and yet others be the object of them, or of some of them? “But,” saith he, “if he mean those ordinances of worship are to be performed only by a minister of a particular congregation, what shall become of the people?” I suppose they shall be instructed and built up according to the mind of Christ; and what would people desire more? But whereas he had before said that I “denied a minister to be a minister to more than his own church,” and I had asked him “who told him so,” adding that explication of my judgment, that for “so much as men are appointed the objects of the dispensation of the word, I grant a minister, in the dispensation of it, to act ministerially towards not only the members of the catholic church, but the visible members of the world also in contradistinction thereunto;” he now tells me a story of passages between the learned Dr. Wallis and myself, about his question in the Vespers, 1654, — namely, that as to that question, “An potestas ministri evangelici ad unius tantum ecclesiae particuiaris membra extendatur?” I said that Dr. Wallis had brought me a challenge, and that, if I did dispute on that question, I must dispute “ex animo.” Although I grant that a minister, as a minister, may preach the word to more than those of his own congregation, yet knowing the sense wherein the learned Dr.

    Wallis maintained that question, it is not impossible but I might say, if I did dispute I must do it “ex animo.” For his bringing me a challenge, I do not know that either he did so or that I put that interpretation on what he did; but I shall crave leave to say, that if the learned Dr. Wallis do find any ground or occasion to bring a challenge unto me, to debate any point of difference between us, I shall not waive answering his desire, although he should bring Mr. Cawdrey for his second. For the present I shall only say, that as it is no commendation to the moderation or ingenuity of any one whatever thus to publish to the world private hear-says, and what he hath been told of private conferences; so if I would insist on the same course, to make publication of what I have been told hath been the private discourse of some men, it is not unlikely that I should occasion their shame and trouble. Yet in this course of proceeding a progress is made out in the ensuing words, and Mr. Stubbes (who is now called my “amanuensis;” who some five years ago transcribed about a sheet of paper for me, and not one line before or since) is said to be employed, or at least encouraged, by me to write against the learned Dr. Wallis, his Thesis being published.

    This is as true as much of that that went before, and as somewhat of that that follows after; and whereas it is added, that I said what he had written on that subject was “a scurrilous, ridiculous piece,” it is of the same nature with the rest of the like reports. I knew that Mr. Stubbes was writing on that subject, but not until he had proceeded far in it. I neither employed him nor encouraged him in it, any otherwise than the consideration of his papers, after he had written them, may be so interpreted; and the reason why I was not willing he should proceed, next to my desire of continuance of peace in this place, was, his using such expressions of me, and some things of mine, in sundry places of his discourse, as I could not modestly allow to be divulged. The following words to the same purpose with them before mentioned, I remember not, nor did ever think to be engaged in the consideration of such transgressions of the common rules of human society as those now passed through. Reports, hear-says, talks, private discourse between friends, allegations countenanced by none of these, nor any thing else, are the weapons wherewith I am assaulted! “I have heard,” “I am told,” “if reports be true,” “it was ‘vox populi’ at Oxford,” “is it not so?” “I presume he will not deny it,” are the ornaments of this discourse!

    Strange! that men of experience and gravity should be carried, by the power of these temptations, not only to the forgetfulness of the royal law of Christ, and all gospel rules of deportment towards his professed disciples, but also be engaged into ways and practices contrary to the dictates of the law of nature, and such as sundry heathens would have abhorred. For my own part, had not God by his providence placed me in that station wherein others also that fear him are concerned in me, I should not once turn aside to look upon such heaps as that which I have now passed over. My judgment on most heads and articles of Christian religion is long since published to the world, and I continue, through the grace and patience of God, preaching in public answerably to the principles I do profess; and if any man shall oppose what I have delivered, or shall so deliver, in print, or the pulpit, or in divinity lectures, as my judgment, I shall consider his opposition, and do therein as God shall guide. With evil surmises, charges upon hear-says and reports, attended with perpetual excursions from the argument in hand, I shall no more contend.

    Some few observations on scattered passages will now speedily issue this discourse. Page 112, to that assertion of mine, that “if Rome be no particular church, it is no church at all, for the catholic church it is not,” he replies, that “though it be not such a particular congregation as I intend, yet it may be a particular patriarchal church.” But, — 1. Then, it seems, it is a particular church; which grants my inference. 2. It was a particular Church of Christ’s institution that I inquired after.

    Doth our author think that Christ hath appointed any patriarchal churches? A patriarchal church, as such, is such from its relation to a patriarch; and he can scarce be thought to judge patriarchs to be of divine institution who hath cast off and abjured episcopacy.

    The Donatists are mentioned again, p. 113; and I am again charged with an attempt to vindicate them from schism. My thoughts of them I have before declared to the full, and have no reason to retract any thing from what was then spoken, or to add any thing thereunto. If it may satisfy our author, I here grant they were schismatics, with what aggravations he pleaseth; and wherein their schism consisted I have also declared. But he says, I undertake to exempt some others from schism (I know whom), that suffer with them, in former and after ages, under the same imputation. I do so, indeed; and I suppose our author may guess at whom I intend, — himself, amongst others! I hope he is not so taken up in his thoughts with charging schism on others as to forget that many, the greatest part and number of the true churches of Christ, do condemn him for a schismatic, a Donatistical schismatic. I suppose he acknowledges the church of Rome to be a true church; the Lutheran I am persuaded he will not deny, nor perhaps the Grecian, to be so; the Episcopal church of England he contends for; — and yet all these, with one voice, cry out upon him for a schismatic. And as to the plea of the last, how he can satisfy his conscience as to the rejection of his lawful superiors, upon his own principles, without pretending any such crime against them as the Donatists did against Caecilianus, I profess I do not understand. New mention is made of episcopal ordination, p. 120, and they are said to have had their successive ordination from Rome who ordained therein. So, indeed, some say, and some otherwise. Whether they had or no is nothing to me; I lay no weight upon it. They held, I am sure, that place in England, that without their approbation no man could publicly preach the gospel.

    To say they were presbyters, and ordained as presbyters, I know not what satisfaction can arise unto conscience thereby. Party and argument may be countenanced by it. They profess they ordained as bishops; that for their lives and souls they durst not ordain but as such. So they told those whom they ordained, and affirm they have open injury done them by any one’s denial of it. As it was, the best is to be made of it. This shift is not handsome. Nor is it ingenuous, for any one that hath looked into antiquity, to charge me with departing from their sense in the notion of schism, declared about the third and fourth ages, and at the same time to maintain an equality between bishops and presbyters, or to say that bishops ordained as presbyters, not as bishops. Nor do I understand the excellency of that order which we see in some churches, where they have two sorts of elders, the one made so by ordination without election, and the other by election without ordination; those who are ordained casting off all power and authority of them that ordained them, and those who are elected immediately rejecting the greatest part of those that chose them.

    Nor did I, as is pretended, plead for their presbyterian way in the year [16]46; all the ministers almost in the county of Essex know the contrary, one especially, being a man of great ability and moderation of spirit, and for his knowledge in those things not behind any man I know in England of his way, with whom in that year, and the next following, I had sundry conferences at public meetings of ministers as to the several ways of reformation then under proposal. But the frivolousness of these imputations hath been spoken of before, as also the falseness of the calumny which our author is pleased to repeat again about my turning from ways in religion.

    My description of a particular church he once more blames as applicable to the catholic church invisible, and to the visible catholic church (I suppose he means as such), when a participation in the same ordinances numerically is assigned as its difference. He asks whether it becomes my ingenuity to interpret the capability of a church’s reduction to its primitive constitution by its own fitness and capacity to be so reduced, rather than by its external hinderances or furtherances; but with what ingenuity or modesty that question is asked, I profess I understand not.

    And, p. 134, he hath this passage (only I take notice of his introduction to his answer, with thanks for the civility of the inquiry in the manner of its expression): — “My words were these: ‘Whether our reverend author do not in his conscience think there was no true church in England till;’ etc.; which puts me into suspicion that the reverend doctor was offended that I did not always (for oft I do) give him that title of the ‘reverend author,’ or the ‘doctor,’ which made him cry out he was never so dealt withal by any party as by me; though, upon review, I do not find that I gave him any uncivil language, unbeseeming me to give or him to receive; and I hear that somebody hath dealt more uncivilly with him in that respect, which he took very ill.”

    Let this reverend author make what use of it he please, I cannot but again tell him that these things become neither him nor any man professing the religion of Jesus Christ, or that hath any respect to truth or sobriety. Can any man think that in his conscience he gives any credit to the insinuation which here he makes, that I should thank him for calling me “reverend author” or “reverend doctor,” or be troubled for his not using these expressions? Can the mind of an honest man be thought to be conversant with such mean and low thoughts? For the title of “reverend,’ I do give him notice that I have very little valued it ever since I have considered the saying of Luther, “Nunquam periclitatur religio nisi inter reverendissimos;” so that he may, as to me, forbear it for the future, and call me as the Quakers do, and it shall suffice. And for that of “doctor,” it was conferred on me by the university in my absence, and against my consent, as they have expressed it under their public seal, nor doth any thing but gratitude and respect unto them make me once own it; and freed from that obligation, I should never use it more, nor did I use it until some were offended with me, and blamed me for my neglect of them. And for that other whom he mentions, who before this gave so far place to indignation as to insinuate some such thing, I doubt not but by this time he hath been convinced of his mistake therein, being a person of another manner of ability and worth than some others with whom I have to do; and the truth is, my manner of dealing with him in my last reply, which I have since myself not so well approved of, requires the passing by such returns. But you will say, then, why do I preface this discourse with that expression, “With thanks for the civility of the inquiry in the manner of its expression?” I say, this will discover the iniquity of this author’s procedure in this particular. His inquiry was, “Whether I did not in my conscience think that there were no true churches in England until the Brownists our fathers, the Anabaptists our elder brothers, and ourselves, arose and gathered new churches?” Without once taking notice or mentioning his titles that he says he gave me, I used the words in a sense obvious to every man’s first consideration, as a reproof of the expressions mentioned,. That which was the true cause of my words our author hides in an “etc.;” that which was not by me once taken notice of is by him expressed to serve an end of drawing forth an evil surmise and suspicion, that hath not the least color to give it countenance. Passing by all indifferent readers, I refer the honesty of this dealing with me to the judgment of his own conscience. Setting down what I neither expressed nor took notice of, nor had any singular occasion in that place so to do, the words being often used by him, hiding and concealing what I did take notice of and express, and which to every man’s view was the occasion of that passage, that conclusion or unworthy insinuation is made, which a good man ought to have abhorred.

    Sundry other particulars there are, partly false and calumniating, partly impertinent, partly consisting in mistakes, that I ought at the first view to have made mention of; but, on several accounts, I am rather willing here to put an end to the reader’s trouble and my own.

    A BRIEF VINDICATION OF THE NONCONFORMISTS FROM THE CHARGE OF SCHISM, AS IT WAS MANAGED AGAINST THEM IN A SERMON PREACHED BEFORE THE LORD MAYOR BY DR STILLINGFLEET, DEAN OF ST PAUL’S. “Coitio Christianorum merito sane illicita, si illicitis par; merito damnanda, si quis de ea queritur eo titulo quo de factionibus querela est. In cujus perniciem aliquando convenimus? Hoc sumus congregati quod et dispersi; hoc universi quod et singuli; neminem laedentes, neminem contristantes; quum probi, cum boni coeunt, cum pii, cum casti congregantur, non est factio dicenda, sed curia.” — TERTUL.

    PREFATORY NOTE.

    IN 1680, when the nation was under strong fears lest, with the help and favor of the Court, Popery should resume its old domination in Britain, the celebrated Stillingfleet, at that time Dean of St Paul’s, preached a sermon on the 2d of May before the Lord Mayor of London. It was published under the title, “On the Mischief of Separation.” His object was to prove the Nonconformists guilty of schism, on the ground that they admitted the Church of England to be a true church of Christ, and yet lived in a state of dissent and separation from it. His text was Philippians 3:16.

    Perhaps no sermon has ever given rise to a controversy in which a greater number of writers has appeared on both sides; and among these were names signally eminent for worth and learning. Besides the following pamphlet by Owen, Baxter published his “Answer to Dr. Stillingfleet’s Charge of Separation,” in terms of vehement invective against the injustice with which he had treated Dissent. John Howe addressed to the offending Dean “A Letter written from the Country to a Person of Quality in the City,” protesting with all his characteristic mildness and candor, but most firmly, against the insinuations of Stillingfleet. Vincent Alsop also took the field, in a work brimful of wit and humor to the very title-page, “The Mischief of Impositions.” Mr. Barret of Nottingham, in allusion to the “Irenicum,” written by Stillingfleet when rector of Sutton, to reconcile conflicting sects by proving that no form of church-government could plead divine authority in its favor, published, “The Rector of Sutton Committed with the Dean of St Paul’s,” etc. Besides these authors, to whom Stillingfleet replies in his “Unreasonableness of Separation,” Mr. John Troughton of Bicester published “An Apology for the Nonconformists; showing their reasons both for their not conforming and for their preaching publicly, though forbidden by law: with an Answer to Dr. Stillingfleet’s Sermon and his Defense of it, 1681.” An account of the work in which Stillingfleet replied to the first five of these antagonists will be found in a prefatory note to Owen’s answer to it, vol. 15 p. 183, of Owen’s works. But Stillingfleet had to encounter fresh attacks: — “More Work for the Dean,” by Mr. Thomas Wall; Mr. Barret’s second “Attempt to Vindicate the Principles of the Nonconformists, not only by Scripture, but by Dr. Stillingfleet’s Rational Account ;” the “Modest and Peaceable Inquiry,” by Mr. Lob; Baxter’s “Second True Defence of the mere Nonconformists;” Humphrey’s “Answer to Dr. Stillingfleet’s Book, as far as it concerned the Peaceable Design;” and “The Rational Defense of Nonconformity,” in 1689, by Mr. Gilbert Rule.

    To the rescue of the Dean from this host of opponents, there advanced, with his vizor down and name withheld, Dr. Sherlock, in his “Discourse about Church Unity, being a Defence of Dr. Stillingfleet’s ‘Unreasonableness of Separation,’ in answer to several late pamphlets, but principally to Dr. Owen and Mr. Baxter, 1681.” This work was followed up by “A Continuation and Vindication of the Defense of Dr. Stillingfleet, in answer to Mr. Baxter, Mr. Lob, and others.” Mr. Long of Exeter, wandering from the points in debate into most offensive personalities against Baxter, published “The Unreasonableness of Separation, the Second Part; or, a farther impartial account of the history, nature, and pleas, of the present separation from the Church of England, with special remarks on the life and actions of Richard Baxter, 1682.” Richard Hook, D.D., vicar of Halifax, was the author of the “Nonconformist Champion, his Challenge Accepted; or, an answer to Mr. Baxter’s Petition for Peace, with remarks on his Holy Commonwealth, his Sermon to the House of Commons, his Nonconformist’s Plea, and his Answer to Dr. Stillingfleet, 1682.” The famous Sir Roger L’Estrange could not refrain from taking part in this curious melee with all his coarse but clever wit, of which the title of his work is a specimen, “The Casuist Uncased, in a Dialogue betwixt Richard and Baxter, with a moderator between them for quietness’ sake.”

    The sermon which embroiled so many able men in disputes that lasted for ten years may well excite curiosity; and yet it would be difficult to say why it should have roused such a storm of controversy, resounding over the breadth of a kingdom. It is calm and measured in its tone, and contains no reckless invective, no impeachment of motives, no envenomed intensity of language. Its strength lay in its calmness, and in the extreme plausibility with which the case of the Church of England is stated against Dissenters.

    That the latter should admit it to be a church of Christ, and yet hold themselves justified in their nonconformity; and that the common grounds of objection to the Established Church should refer to the terms on which men were admitted to office in it, and did not, as the Dean alleged, affect their admission to membership, were points which such a controversialist could handle most effectively for his own cause. That Nonconformists, who had suffered so much in resisting popish encroachment, should be exhibited as practically the friends of Popery in opposing the Church of England, reputed to be the chief defense against it; while they, on the other hand, had been warning the nation for years against the vantage-ground which Popery had in the constitution and rites of the English Church; and that all this should have been done, not in the vulgar abuse which refutes itself, but in downright and deliberate logic, was sufficiently galling, and fitted to bring upon them no small odium from the temper of the nation, roused at the time by the fear of popish aggression and ascendency. It was, in truth, an attempt not merely to spike the best guns of Dissent, but to turn them against itself.

    This “Vindication” by Owen in reply is all that could be wished, in strength of reasoning, civility of language, and crushing effect. There is a passage of eloquent pathos at the close, in allusion to the long sufferings of the Nonconformists. — ED.

    A BRIEF VINDICATION OF THE NONCONFORMISTS FROM THE CHARGE OF SCHISM.

    IT was no small surprise unto many, first to hear of, and then to see in print, the late sermon of the Rev. Dean of St Paul’s, preached at Guildhall, May 2, 1680, being the first Sunday in Easter term, before the Lord Mayor, etc.

    Whatever there might be of truth in it, yet they judged the time both of the one and the other, the preaching and printing of it, to be somewhat unseasonable; for they say that this is a time wherein the agreement of all Protestants, so far as they have attained, is made more than ordinarily necessary. And whereas the Nonconformists do agree in religion with all the sober protestant people of the nation, which is the church of England, they do suppose that ordinary prudence would advise unto a forbearance of them in those few things wherein they dissent, not indeed from the body of the protestant people, but from some that would impose them on their consciences and practices. Who knows not that the present danger of this nation is from Popery, and the endeavors that are used both to introduce it and enthrone it, or give it power and authority among us? And it is no part of the popish design to take away and destroy those things wherein the Nonconformists do dissent from the present ecclesiastical establishment, but rather to confirm them. Their contrivance is, to ruin and destroy the religion of the body of the Protestants in this kingdom, wherein the Nonconformists are one with them, and equally concerned with any of them. Wherefore it cannot but be grievous unto them, as well as useless unto the common interest of the protestant religion, that at such a time and season they should be reflected on, charged, and severely treated, on the account of those lesser differences which in no way disenable them from being useful and serviceable unto the government and nation, in the defense and preservation of the protestant religion. And that it is their resolution so to be, they have given sufficient evidence, equal at least with that given by any sort of people in the nation. Yea, of their diligence in opposition unto Popery, and their readiness to observe the direction of the magistrates therein, whilst the plot hath been in agitation, they suppose the honorable person unto whom this sermon is dedicated can and will bear them witness.

    In these circumstances, to be required severely to change their judgments and practices, as it were “momento turbinis,” immediately and in an instant, or else to be looked on and treated as adversaries, many do think as unseasonable as to command a good part of an army, when it is actually engaged against an enemy, to change all their order, postures, discipline, and advantages, or immediately to depart out of the field. And they do withal suppose that such a sudden change is least of all to be expected to be wrought by such severe charges and reflections as are made on all Nonconformists in this discourse. Such like things as these do men talk concerning the season of the preaching and publishing of this sermon; but in such things every man is to be left unto his own prudence, whereof he may not esteem himself obliged to give an account.

    For my part, I judge it not so unseasonable as some others do; for it is meet that honest men should understand the state of those things wherein they are greatly and deeply concerned. Nonconformists might possibly suppose that the common danger of all Protestants had reconciled the minds of the conforming ministry unto them, so as that they were more than formerly inclined unto their forbearance; and I was really of the same judgment myself. If it be not so, it is well they are fairly warned what they have to expect, that they may prepare themselves to undergo it with patience. But we shall pass by these things, and attend a little unto the consideration of the sermon itself.

    The design of this discourse seems to consider in these three things, or to aim at them: — 1. To prove all the Nonconformists to be guilty of schism and a sinful separation from the church of England. 2. To aggravate their supposed guilt and crime, both in its nature and all the pernicious consequences of it that can be imagined. 3. To charge them, especially their ministers, with want of sincerity and honesty in the management of their dissent from the church of England, with reference unto the people that hear them.

    What there is of truth in these things, or what there may be of mistake in them, it is the duty of Nonconformists to try and examine. But some few things must have a previous consideration before we come to the merits of the cause itself: — 1. The reverend author of this discourse affirms, that in the preaching of this sermon he was “far from intending to stir up the magistrates and judges unto a persecution of dissenters, as some ill men have reported,” Epist. Ded. Without this information, I confess I could not but judge it would have been as liable unto a supposition of such a design as the actings of the Nonconformists, in the management of their cause, are unto that of insincerity in the judgment of this reverend author; for, — (1.) It was not preached unto Nonconformists, perhaps not one of them being present; so that the intention of preaching it could not be their conviction. They were not likely either to hear the charge or the reasons of it. (2.) It was preached unto them who were no way guilty of the pretended crime reproved, but peculiarly to such as were intrusted with the execution of the penal laws against them that were supposed guilty, magistrates and judges; which in another would have but an ill aspect. If a man should go unto a justice of the peace, and complain that his neighbor is a thief, or a swearer, or a murderer, though he should give the justice never so many arguments to prove that his neighbor did very ill in being so and doing so, yet his business would seem to be the execution of the law upon him. But let the will of God be done; Nonconformists are not much concerned in these things.

    We are likewise informed, in the same epistle, that there are “no sharp and provoking expressions” on the persons of any. It is, indeed, beneath the gravity and dignity of this reverend author to bring reviling or railing accusations against any; neither will he, I am sure, give countenance to such a practice in others, which is seldom used but by men of very mean consideration: but I am not satisfied that he hath not used even great severity in reflections on a whole party of men, and that unprovoked; nor do I know how persons, on a religious account, can be more severely reflected on, — and that not only as unto their opinions and practices, but also as unto the sincerity of their hearts and honesty of their designs, — than the Nonconformists are in this sermon.

    I have seen a collection made of such reflections, by the hand of a person of honor, a member of the church of England, with his judgment upon them; wherein they appear to me not to be a true resemblance or representation of Christian love and charity. 2. A great part of this discourse being such as became a popular auditory, consisting in generals on all hands acknowledged, as, the good of union, the evil of schism and causeless separation, etc., — which will indifferently serve any party, until it be determined where the original fault and mistake doth lie, — I shall not at all take notice of it, though it be so dressed as to be laid at the door of Nonconformists, in a readiness for an application unto their disadvantage but nothing that, by way of argument, testimony, or instance, is produced to prove the charge mentioned, and the consequents of it, shall be omitted. 3. Some few things may be taken notice of in the passage of the author unto his text. Of that nature is his complaint, p. 2: “There is just cause for many sad reflections, when neither the miseries we have felt nor the calamities we fear, neither the terrible judgments of God upon us, nor the unexpected deliverance vouchsafed unto us, nor the common danger we are yet in, have abated men’s hearts, or allayed their passions, or made them more willing to unite with our established church and religion; but, instead of that, some stand at a greater distance, if not [in] defiance.” It is acknowledged willingly by us that the warnings and calls of God unto this nation have been great and marvellous, and yet continue so to be; but it is worthy our inquiry, whether this be to be looked on as the only end and design of them, that the Nonconformists do immediately in all things comply with the established church and religion, and are evidences of God’s displeasure because they do not so, when He who searcheth their hearts doth know that they would do it were it not for fear of His displeasure? What if it should be the design of God in them to call the nation, and so the church of England, unto repentance and reformation? which, when all is done, is the only way of reconciling all protestant dissenters. What if God should in them testify against all the atheism, profaneness, sensuality, that abound in this nation, unto the public scandal of it, with the dread and terror of those by whom they are duly considered, the persons guilty of them being no way proceeded against by any discipline of the church, nor any reformation of the church itself from such horrible pollutions once attempted? Every man who knows any thing of Christ, of his law, gospel, rule, and discipline, — of the nature, end, and use of them, with the worship of God to be performed in them and by them; and doth withal consider the terror of the Lord, unto whom an account is to be given of these things; must acknowledge that, both in persons and things, there is a necessity of reformation among us, on the utmost peril of the displeasure of Christ Jesus: yet no such reformation is so much as endeavored in a due manner. It is no encouragement unto conscientious men to unite themselves absolutely and in all things unto such a church as doth not, as will not, or as cannot, reform itself, in such a degenerate state as that which many churches in the world are at this day openly and visibly fallen into. And, to deal plainly with our brethren (if they will allow us to call them so), — that they may know what to expect, and, if it be the will of God, be directed unto the only true way of uniting all Protestants in the only bands of evangelical union, order, and communion, — unless those who are concerned will endeavor, and until they are enabled in some measure to effect, a reformation in the ministry and people, as unto their relation to the church, as also in some things in the worship of God itself, it is vain to expect that the Nonconformists should unite with the church, however established. And may we not think that those many warnings and calls of God may have some respect unto those abominations that are found in the nation, yea, such as, without a due reformation of them, will issue in our desolation? I do know that with the Nonconformists also there are “sins against the LORD their God ;” and it will be a great addition unto their sins, as also an aggravation of their guilt, if they comply not with the “warnings of God,” as they are here expressed by this reverend author, so as to reform whatever is amiss in them, and return wholly unto God from all their wanderings. But as unto those things which are usually charged on them, they are such as interest, hatred, and the desire of their ruin, suggest unto the minds of their adversaries, or are used by some against their science and conscience to further that end, without the least pretense to be raised from any thing in them, — their opinions, practices, or conversation in the world. Doth atheism abound among us? — it is from the differences in religion made by Nonconformists! Is there danger of Popery? — it is because of the Nonconformists! Are the judgments of God coming on the nation? — it is for Nonconformity! So was it of old with the Christians: “Si Tybris ascendit in maenia, si Nilus non ascendit in arva, si coelum stetit, si terra movit, si fames, si lues, statim, ‘Christianos ad leonem!’“ 4. The immediate introduction unto the opening of his text is an account of the differences and divisions that were in the primitive churches, occasioned by the Judaizing Christians, who contended for the observation of the ceremonies of the law. But some things may be added unto his account, which are necessary unto the right stating of that case, as it may have any respect unto our present differences. And we may observe, — (1.) That those with and concerning whom the apostle dealeth in his epistle were principally those of the Jewish church and nation who had owned the gospel, professed faith in Christ Jesus, had received (many of them) spiritual gifts, or “tasted of the powers of the world to come,” and did join in the worship of God in the assemblies of the Christians. I only mention this, because some places quoted usually in this matter do relate directly unto the unbelieving Jews, which went up and down to oppose the preaching of Christ and the gospel, in rage and fury, stirring up persecution everywhere against them that were employed in it. (2.) This sort of persons were freely allowed by the apostle to continue in the use of those rites and ceremonies which they esteemed themselves obliged unto by virtue of Moses’ law, granting them in all other things the privilege of believers, and such as whom they would not in any thing offend. So do James and the elders of the church declare themselves, Acts 21:20, etc. Yea, — (3.) Out of tenderness unto them, and to prevent all offense to be taken by them at the liberty of the Gentiles, they did order that the believers of the Gentiles should forbear for a season the use of their natural liberty in some few things, whereby the other were, in their common meetings, as in eating and drinking together, usually scandalized; giving them, also, unto the same end, direction concerning one thing evil in itself, whose long usage and practice among the Gentiles had obliterated a sense of its guilt, wherewith they could not but be much offended. (4.) With this determination or state of things, thus settled by the apostles, no doubt but that a multitude of the Jewish believers did rest content and satisfied; but certain it is that with many of them it was otherwise: they were no way pleased that they were left unto the freedom of their own judgment and practice in the use and observance of the legal ceremonies, but they would impose the observation of them on all the churches of the Gentiles wherever they came. Nothing would serve their turn but that all other churches must observe their ceremonies, or they would not admit them unto communion with them. And, in the pursuit of this design, they prevailed for a season on whole churches to forego the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free, and to take on them the yoke of bondage which they imposed on them; as it was with the churches of the Galatians.

    I have mentioned these things only to show how remote we are from any access unto those opinions and practices which caused the first divisions in Christian churches, and among all sorts of believers. We agree with our brethren in the faith of the gospel, as the Gentiles did with the believing Jews; we have nothing to impose in religion on the consciences or practices of any other churches or persons; we are not offended that others, be they many or few, should use their own choice, liberty, and judgment, in the government, discipline, worship, and ceremonies, of pretended order, nor do envy them the advantages which they have thereby; We desire nothing but what the churches of the Gentiles desired of old, as the only means to prevent division in them, — namely, that they might not be imposed on to observe those things which they were not satisfied that it was the mind of Christ they should observe, for he had taken all the churches under his own power, requiring that they should be taught to do and observe all that he commanded them, and nothing else, that we know of. We desire no more of our governors, rulers, brethren (if they think so) in the ministry, but that we be not, with outward force and destructive penalties, compelled to comply with and practice in the worship of God such things as, for our lives, and to save ourselves from the greatest ruin, we cannot conceive that it is the mind of Christ that we should do and observe; — that, whilst we are peaceable and useful in our places, firmly united unto the body of the Protestants in this nation (which, as this author tells us, is the church of England), in confession of the same faith and common interest, for the maintenance and preservation of that one religion which we profess, we be not deprived of that liberty which God and nature, Christ and the gospel, the example of the primitive churches, and the present protestant interest of this nation, do testify to be our due.

    These things being premised, because I have no design to except against any thing in the discourse of the reverend author of this sermon wherein the merit of the cause is not immediately concerned, nor to seek for advantages from expressions, nor to draw a saw of contention about things not necessary unto that defense of our innocency which alone I have undertaken (as is the way of the most in the management of controversies), I shall pass on unto the charge itself, or the consideration of the arguments and reasons whereon all Nonconformists are charged with schism, etc.

    But yet because there are some things insisted on by the author, in the progress of his discourse, according as he judged the method to be most convenient for the managing of his charge, which I judge not so convenient unto the present defense, I shall speak briefly unto them, or some of them, before I proceed unto what is more expressly argumentative; as, — 1. He chargeth the Nonconformist ministers for concealing their opinions and judgments from the people about the lawfulness of their communion with the church, and that for ends easily to be discerned (that is, their own advantage); that is, they do indeed judge that it is lawful for the people to hold communion with the church of England, but will not let them know so much, lest they should forsake their ministry: — Pages 19, 20, “I do not intend to speak of the terms upon which persons are to be admitted among us to the exercise of the function of the ministry, but of the terms of lay-communion; that is, those which are necessary for all persons to join in our prayers and sacraments, and other offices of divine worship. I will not say there hath been a great deal of art to confound these two (and it is easy to discern to what purpose it is), but I dare say the people’s not understanding the difference of these two cases hath been a great occasion of the present separation; for, in the judgment of some of the most impartial men of the dissenters at this day, although they think the case of the ministers very hard, on account of subscriptions and declarations required of them, yet they confess very little is to be said on the behalf of the people, from whom none of those things are required. So that the people are condemned in their separation by their own teachers; but how they can preach lawfully to a people who commit a fault in hearing them I do not understand.”

    And the same thing is yet managed with more severity, pp. 37, 38, in words that I shall at large transcribe: — “I dare say if most of the preachers at this day, in the separate meetings, were soberly asked their judgment, whether it were lawful for the people to join with us in the public assemblies, they would not deny it: and yet the people that frequent them generally judge otherwise; for it is not to be supposed that faction among them should so commonly prevail beyond interest, and, therefore, if they thought it were lawful for them to comply with the laws, they would do it. But why, then, is this kept up as such a mighty secret in the breasts of their teachers? why do they not preach to them in their congregations? Is it for fear they should have none left to preach to? — that is not to be imagined of mortified and conscientious men. Is it lest they should seem to condemn themselves, whilst they preach against separation in a separate congregation? “This, I confess, looks oddly, and the tenderness of a man’s mind in such a case may, out of mere shamefacedness, keep him from declaring a truth which flies in his face while he speaks it. “Is it that they fear the reproaches of the people, which some few of the most eminent persons among them have found they must undergo if they touch upon this subject? (for, I know not how it comes to pass, that the most godly people among them can the least endure to be told of their faults;) but is it not as plainly written by St Paul, ‘If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ,’ as, ‘Woe be unto me if I preach not the gospel?’ If they, therefore, would acquit themselves like honest and conscientious men, let them tell the people plainly that they look on our churches as true churches, and that they may lawfully communicate with us in prayers and sacraments; and I do not question but in time, if they find it lawful, they will judge it to be their duty: for it is the apostle’s command here, ‘Whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.’” A crime this is which, if true, is not easily to be expiated; nor can men give greater evidence of their own hypocrisy, insincerity, and government by corrupt ends and designs, than by such abominable arts and contrivances.

    So, if it should prove not to be true, it cannot but be looked on as animated by such an evil surmise as is of no small provocation in the sight of God and men.

    This reverend author makes a distinction about communion with the church, p. 20, between what is required of ministers and that which is called “lay-communion,” which is the foundation of this charge: — “I do not confound bare suspending communion in some particular rites, which persons do modestly scruple, and using it in what they judge to be lawful, with either total or at least ordinary forbearance of communion in what they judge to be lawful, and proceeding to the forming of separate congregations, — that is, under other teachers and by other rules than what the established religion allows. And this is the present case of separation which I intend to consider, and to make the sinfulness and mischief of it appear.”

    But he knows that by the communion and uniting ourselves unto the church, which is pressed either on ministers or people, a total submission unto the rule, as established in the Book of Canons and Rubric of the Liturgy, is required of them all. When this is once engaged in, there is no suspending of communion in particular rites to be allowed; they who give up themselves hereunto must observe the whole rule to a tittle. Nor is it in the power of this reverend author, who is of great dignity in the church, and as like as any man I know to be inclined thereunto, to give indulgence unto them in their abstinence from the least ceremony enjoined.

    Wherefore, the question about lay-communion is concerning that which is absolute and total, according unto all that is enjoined by the laws of the land, or by the canons, constitutions, and orders of the church. Hereby are they obliged to bring their children to be baptized with the use of the aerial sign of the cross; to kneel at the communion; to the religious observation of holidays; to the constant use of the liturgy in all the public offices of the church, unto the exclusion of the exercise of those gifts which Christ continues to communicate for its edification; to forego all means of public edification besides that in their parish churches, where, to speak with modesty, it is ofttimes scanty and wanting; to renounce all other assemblies wherein they have had great experience of spiritual advantage unto their souls; to desert the observation of many useful gospel duties, in their mutual watch that believers of the same church ought to have one over another; to divest themselves of all interest of a voluntary consent in the discipline of the church and choice of their own pastors; and to submit unto an ecclesiastical rule and discipline which not one in a thousand of them can apprehend to have any thing in it of the authority of Christ or rule of the gospel: and other things of the like nature may be added.

    This being the true state of lay-communion, which will admit of no indulgence if the rule be observed, I must say that I do not believe that there are six nonconformist ministers in England that do believe this communion to be lawful for the people to embrace; and, on the other hand, they cease not to instruct them wherein their true communion with the church of England doth consist, — namely, in faith and love, and all the fruits of them, unto the glory of God.

    I heartily wish these things had been omitted, that they had not been spoken; — not to cover any guilt in the Nonconformists, whose consciences are unto them a thousand witnesses against such imputations; but whereas the ground of them is only surmises and suspicions, and the evil charged of the highest nature that any men can involve themselves in the guilt of, it argues such a frame of spirit, such a habit of mind, as evidenceth men to be very remote from that Christian love and charity which, on all hands, we sometimes pretend unto. Of the same nature is another charge of the like want of sincerity, p. 46: “Those,” saith he, “who speak now most against the magistrate’s power in matters of religion had ten substantial reasons for it when they thought the magistrates on their own side;” for which is quoted an “Answer unto Two Questions,” 1659; — that is, they change their opinions according to their interest. I know not directly whom he intends. Those who are commonly called Independents expressed their apprehension of the magistrate’s power in and about religion in their Confession, made 1659. That any of them have, on what hath ensued, changed their opinion therein I know not. And, for my part, I have on this occasion perused the answer unto the two questions directed unto, and do profess myself at this day to be of the same judgment with the author of them, as it is expressed in that paper.

    There are things, not easily to be numbered, wherein we acknowledge the magistrate’s power and duty in matters of religion, as much as ever was in the godly kings of Judah of old, or was at first claimed by the first Christian emperors. Yet there are some who, although they are fed and warmed, promoted and dignified, by the effects of the magistrate’s power in and about religion, will not allow that any thing is ascribed unto him, unless we grant that it is in his rightful power, and his duty, to coerce and punish with all sorts of mulcts, spoiling of goods, imprisonments, banishments, and in some cases death itself, such persons as hold the Head and all the fundamental principles of Christian religion entire, whose worship is free from idolatry, whose conversations are peaceable and useful, unless in all things they comply with themselves, when possibly some of them may be as useful in and unto the church of God as those that would have them so dealt withal. And it may be, common prudence would advise a forbearance of too much severity in charges on others for changing their opinions, lest a provocation unto a recrimination on them that make them should arise of changing their opinions also, not without an appearing aspect to their own interests; but we have some among the Nonconformists who are so accustomed, not only unto such undue charges as that here insisted on, but unto such unjust accusations, false reports, malicious untruths, concerning them, their words, doctrines, and practices, — which, being invented by a few ill men, are trumpeted abroad with triumph by many, — as that they are come to a resolution never to concern themselves in them any more. 2. As unto the state of the question, we are told that “he speaks not of the separation or distinct communion of whole churches from each other; which, according to the Scripture, antiquity, and reason, have a just right and power to govern and reform themselves. By whole churches, I mean the churches of such nations, which, upon the decay of the Roman empire, resumed their just right of government to themselves, and, upon their owning Christianity, incorporated into one Christian society, under the same common ties and rules of order and government,” p. 16.

    I do suppose that particular churches or congregations are hereby exempted from all guilt of schism in not complying with rules of communion imposed on them by other churches. I am sure, according unto the principles of Nonconformists, they are so; for they judge that particular or congregational churches, stated with their officers according to the order of the gospel, are entire churches, that have a just right and power to govern and reform themselves. Until this be disproved, — until it be proved either that they are not churches because they are congregational, or that, although they are churches, yet they have not power to govern and reform themselves, — they are free from the guilt of schism in their so doing.

    But the reverend author seems, in the ensuing discourse, to appropriate this right and power unto national churches, whose rise he assigns unto the dissolution of the Roman empire, and the alteration of the church government unto that of distinct kingdoms and provinces. But this is a thing that fell out so long after the institution of churches and propagation of Christian religion, that we are not at all concerned in it; especially considering that the occasion and means of the constitution of such churches was wholly foreign unto religion and the concerns of it.

    The right and power of governing and reforming themselves here spoken of is that which is given by Christ himself unto his churches; nor do I know where else they should have it. Wherefore, those national provincial churches, which arose upon the dissolution of the Roman empire, must first be proved to be of his institution before they can be allowed to have their power given them by Jesus Christ. In what kings, potentates, and other supreme magistrates, might do to accommodate the outward profession of religion unto their rule and the interest thereof, we are not at all concerned, nor will give interruption unto any of them, whilst they impose not the religious observation of their constitutions unto that end upon our consciences and practice. Our sole inquiry is, what our Lord Jesus Christ hath ordained; and which, if we are compliant withal, we shall fear neither this nor any other charge of the like nature.

    But to give strength hereunto it is added: “Just as several families united make one kingdom, which at first had a distinct and independent power; but it would make strange confusion in the world to reduce kingdoms back again to families, because at first they were made up of them,” p. 17; which is again, insisted on, p. 31. But the case is not the same; for if, indeed, God had appointed no other civil government in the world but that of families, I should not much oppose them who would endeavor peaceably to reduce all government thereunto. But whereas we are certain that God, by the light of the law of nature, by the ends and uses of the creation of man, and by express revelation in his word, hath, by his own authority, appointed and approved other sorts of civil government in kingdoms and common-weals, we esteem it not only a madness to endeavor a reduction of all government into families, as unto the possibility of the thing, but a direct opposition unto the authority, command, and institution of God. So, if these national churches were of the immediate institution of Christ himself, we should no more plead the exemption of particular churches from any power given them by Christ as such, than we do to exempt private families from the lawful government of public magistrates. And we must also add, that whatever be their original and constitution, if all their governors were as the apostles, yet have they no power but what is for edification, and not for destruction. If they do or shall appoint and impose on men what tends unto the destruction of their souls, and not unto their edification, as it is fallen out in the church of Rome, not only particular churches, but every individual believer is warranted to withdraw from their communion: and hereon we ground the lawfulness of our separation from the church of Rome, without any need of a retreat unto the late device of the power of provincial churches to reform themselves. Let none mistake themselves herein; believers are not made for churches, but churches are appointed for believers. Their edification, their guidance and direction in the profession of the faith and performance of divine worship in assemblies, according to the mind of God, is their use and end; without which they are of no signification. The end of Christ in the constitution of his churches was, not the moulding of his disciples into such ecclesiastical shapes as might be subservient unto the power, interest, advantage, and dignity, of them that may in any season come to be over them, but to constitute a way and order of giving such officers unto them as might be in all things useful and subservient unto their edification; as is expressly affirmed, Ephesians 4:11-16.

    As it should seem, an opinion opposite unto this notion of national churches is examined and confuted, p. 17: “And it is a great mistake, to make the notion of a church barely to relate to acts of worship, and, consequently, that the adequate notion of a church is an assembly for divine worship, — by which means they appropriate the name of churches to particular congregations, — whereas, if this hold true, the church must be dissolved as soon as the congregation is broken up; but if they retain the nature of a church when they do not meet together for worship, then there is some other bond that unites them, and whatever that is, it constitutes the church.” I am far from pretending to have read the writings of all men upon this subject, nay, I can say I have read very few of them, though I never avoided the reading of any thing written against the way and order which I approve of; wherefore there may be some, as far as I know, who have maintained this notion of a church, or that it is only an assembly for divine worship; but for my part, I never read nor heard of any who was of this judgment. Assemblies for divine worship we account indispensably necessary for the edification of the churches; but that this is that which gives them their constitution and formeth that which is the bond of their union, none of the Nonconformists, as I know of, do judge; for it will not only hence follow, as the reverend author observes, “that the church is dissolved when the congregation is broken up” (on which account churches at this time would be dissolved almost every week, whether they would or no), but that any sort of persons, who have no church relation unto one another; meeting occasionally for divine worship, do constitute a church, which it may be within an hour they cease to be. It is not, therefore, on this account that we appropriate the name of churches unto particular congregations; there is quite another way and means, another bond of union, whereby particular churches are constituted, which hath been sufficiently declared. But if the meaning of the “appropriating the name of churches unto particular congregations” be, that those societies which have not, or which cannot have, assemblies for divine worship, are not churches properly so called, it is a thing of another consideration, that need not here be insisted on. But when such societies as whose bounds and limits are not of divine institution, as were those of the national church of the Jews; no, nor yet of the prudence and wisdom of men, as were the distribution of the ancient church into patriarchates and dioceses; but a mere natural and necessary consequent of that prevailing sword which, on the dissolution of the Roman empire, erected distinct kingdoms and dominions, as men were able, — such societies as are not capable of any religious assemblies for divine worship, and the ministration of Christian discipline in them, — such as are forced to invent and maintain a union by ways and means, and officers and orders, which the Scripture knows nothing of, — are proved to be churches of Christ’s institution, I shall embrace them as such. In the meantime, let them pass at their own proper rate and value, which the stamp of civil authority hath put upon them. What is farther discoursed by the author on this subject, proceeding no farther but why may it not be so and so, we are not concerned in. 3. Pages 23, 24, there is a distribution of all dissenters into two parties: — (1.) Such as say, “That although they are in a state of separation from our church, yet this separation is no sin.” (2.) Such as say, “That a state of separation would be sin, but, notwithstanding their meeting in different places, yet they are not in a state of separation.”

    The difference of these two parties seems to me to be only in the different ways of expressing themselves, — the one granting the use of the word “separation” in this case, which others will not admit; for their practice, so far as I can observe, is one and the same, and therefore their principles must be so also, though they choose several ways of expressing them.

    Both sorts intended do plead that in sundry things they have communion with the church of England; and in some things they have not, nor can have it so. Some knowing the word “separation” to be of an indifferent signification, and to be determined as unto its sense by what it is applied unto, do not contend but that, if any will have it so, the state wherein they are should be denominated from their dissent unto those things wherein they cannot hold communion with the church of England, and so are not offended if you call it a state of separation; howbeit this hinders not but that they continue their communion with the church of England, as was before mentioned. Others seem to take “separation” in the same sense with “schism,” which is always evil, or at least they pretend it is their right to have the denomination of their state taken from what they agree in with the church of England, and not from their dissent in other things from it; and therefore they continue in a practice suitable unto that dissent.

    Wherefore, I judge that there is no need of this distinction, but both parties intended are equally concerned in the charge that is laid against them for their dissent in some things from the church.

    These things being premised, that we may not be diverted from the substance of the cause in hand, as they would otherwise occur unto us in our progress, I shall proceed unto the consideration of the charge itself laid against the Nonconformists, and the arguings whereby it is endeavored to be confirmed.

    The charge is, “That all the Nonconformists, of one sort or another, — that is, Presbyterians and Independents — are guilty of sin, of a sinful separation from the church of England;” and therefore, as they live in a known sin, so they are the cause thereby of great evils, confusion, disturbances among ourselves, and of danger unto the whole protestant religion: whence it is meet that they should, etc.

    The matter of fact being thus far mutually acknowledged, that there is such a stated difference between the church of England and the Nonconformists, the next inquiry naturally should be on these two heads: — 1. Who or what is the cause of this difference or distance? without which we cannot judge aright on whom the blame of it is to be charged; for that all men are not presently to be condemned for the withdrawing from the communion of any church, because they do so, without a due examination of the causes for which they do it, will be acknowledged by all Protestants. In plain terms, our inquiry is, Whether the cause hereof be, on the one hand, the imposition of terms of communion, without any obligation in conscience to make that imposition so much as pleaded or pretended from the nature of the things imposed; or the refusal of compliance with those impositions, under a profession that such a compliance would be against the light of conscience and the best understanding in them who so refuse which they can attain of the mind and will of God in the Scripture? 2. Whereas the parties at difference do agree in all substantial parts of religion, and in a common interest as unto the preservation and defense of the protestant religion, living alike peaceably under the same supreme authority and civil government, Whether the evils and inconveniences mentioned are necessary and inseparable effects of such a difference; or whether they do not wholly owe themselves unto passions, corrupt affections, and carnal interests of men, which ought on all hands to be mortified and subdued? For as, it may be, few wise men, — who know the nature of conscience, how delicate and tender it is, what care is required in all men to keep it as a precious jewel, whose preservation from defilements and affronts God hath committed unto us, under the pain of his eternal displeasure; how unable honest men are to contravene the light of their own minds, in things of the smallest importance, for any outward advantages whatever; how great care, diligence, and accuracy ought to be used in all things relating unto the worship of God, about which he so frequently declares his jealousy, and displeasure against those who in any thing corrupt or debase it, with sundry other things of the like nature, — will admire that these differences are not ended among us by an absolute acquiescency of the one party in the judgments, dictates, and impositions of the other: so, upon the supposition before mentioned, — of an agreement in all the foundations of religion, in all things, from themselves and God’s appointment, necessary unto salvation; of that union of affections which our joint interest in the unity of the faith doth require; and of that union of interest which both parties have in the preservation of the protestant religion, and that of obedience and subjection unto the same civil government; and on the satisfaction which the dissenting parties have in that the others do enjoy all those great advantages which the public profession of religion in this kingdom is accompanied withal, not in the least pretending to or contending for any share therein, — many wise men do and cannot but admire that the inconveniences and evils pretended should ensue on this difference as it is stated among us, and that the dissenters should be pursued with so much vehemency as they have been, even unto their ruin. But we must proceed in the way and method here proposed unto us.

    First, the foundation whereon the reverend author manageth his charge of schism, with all its consequents, against the Nonconformists, is taken from the words of his text, and declared, pp. 10-14 of his book. I shall not transcribe his words, principally because I would not oblige myself to take notice of any thing that is e]xw tou~ pra>gmatov , which, in such discourses, do commonly administer occasion of unnecessary strife. The force of the argument, unto the best of my understanding, consists in the things that follow: — 1. That all churches and the members of them, by virtue of the apostolical precept contained in the text, ought to walk according unto rule. 2. That the rule here intended is not the rule of charity and mutual forbearance in the things wherein they who agree in the foundation are differently minded or otherwise than one another. But, 3. This was a standing rule for agreement and uniformity in practice in church order and worship, which the apostles had given and delivered unto them. 4. That this rule they did not give only as apostles, but as governors of the church, as appears from Acts 15. 5. Wherefore, what the apostles so did, that any church hath power to do, and ought to do, namely, to establish a rule of all practice in their communion. 6. That not to comply with this rule in all things is schism, the schism whereof Nonconformists are guilty. This, to the best of my understanding, is the entire force of the argument insisted on, and that proposed unto the best advantage for the apprehension of its force and strength, etc.

    Let us, therefore, hereon a little inquire whether this will bear the weight of so great a charge as that which is built upon it and resolved into it, with all the dismal consequents pretended to ensue thereon; and we shall not pass by, in so doing, any thing that is offered to give an especial enforcement unto the charge itself. But in our entrance into the consideration of these things, I must needs say it is somewhat surprising unto me to see a charge wherein the consciences, reputation, liberty, etc., of so many are concerned, founded on the exposition of a text which no sober expositor that I know of did ever find out, propose, or embrace. But if it be true and according unto the mind of the Holy Ghost, this ought to be no disparagement unto it, though it be applied unto such an end. This is that which we are to examine. I say, therefore, — 1. We no way doubt but that the apostles did give rules of faith, obedience, and worship, not only unto private Christians, but to whole churches also; which we find recorded in the Scripture. Unto all these rules we do declare our assent and consent with an entire conformity; and do hope that with indifferent, unbiassed persons this is enough to free us from the charge of schism. 2. For the rule here intended, some take it to be the rule of faith in general, or divine revelation; some, to be the rule of charity and brotherly condescension; some, to be the particular rule here laid down, of walking together in the different measures of faith, light, and knowledge, which we do attain unto. The apostle, in the foregoing verses, having given an account of the glorious excellencies of the mysteries of the gospel, and of his own endeavor after the full attainment of them, yet affirms that he had not attained unto that perfection in the comprehension of them which he designed and aimed at. Herein, in the instance of himself, he declares the condition of the best believers in this life; which is not a full measure and perfection in the comprehension of the truths of the gospel, or enjoyment of the things themselves contained in them: but withal he declares their duty, in pressing continually, by all means, after that measure of attainment which is proposed unto their acquisition. Hereupon he supposes what will certainly ensue on the common pursuit of this design: which is, that men will come unto different attainments, have different measures of light and knowledge, yea, and different conceptions or opinions about these things; some will be “otherwise minded” than other some will be, in some things only. 3. Hereupon he, gives direction how they should walk and behave themselves in this state and condition; and unto those who have attained that measure whence, in comparison of others, they may be styled “perfect,” that they press on unanimously towards the end proposed; and as for those who in any things differed from others, he encourageth them to wait on the teachings of God, in that use of the means of instruction which they enjoyed. And having prescribed to each supposed party their especial duties as such, he lays down the duty of them both in common; which is, that in and with respect unto what they had attained, they should “walk by the same rule,” namely, which he had now laid down, and “mind the same thing,” as he had before enjoined them. Wherefore, these words of the apostle are so far from being a foundation to charge them with schism who, agreeing in the substance of the doctrine of the gospel, do yet dissent from others (probably the greater part of the church are intended) in some things, that they enjoin a mutual forbearance among those who are so differently minded. 4. But our author affirms that it cannot be a rule of charity and mutual forbearance that is intended, because the apostle had spoken of that just before. But it is apparent that he speaks these words with reference unto what he had said just before; and if this be that which those who are “otherwise minded” are not obliged unto, then are they not obliged at all to “walk by the rule” intended; which is not the mind of the apostle. So himself declares out of Cajetan, that “the apostle subjoins the last words to the former, lest the persons he there speaks unto should think themselves excused from going as far as they can in the same rule,” p. 37.

    But “a rule,” he says, “it is limiting and determining the practice, requiring uniformity in observing the same standing rule.” The Nonconformists hereon do say, that if the apostles, or any one apostle, did appoint such a rule as this intended, let it be produced with any probability of proof to be theirs, and they are all ready to subscribe and conform unto it. On supposition that any rule of this nature was appointed by the apostles and declared unto the churches, as the reverend author I suppose doth intimate that it was (though I dare not affix a determinate sense unto his words in this place), all that can be required of us is, that we do conform and walk according unto that rule so appointed and declared by them. This we are always ready to do. Sundry general rules we find in the Scripture given unto us, relating unto the constitution and edification of churches, to their order, and worship, and government; sundry particular rules for ministers and others, how they should behave themselves in church societies and assemblies, are also laid down therein; — all which we embrace, and submit unto the authority of Christ in them. And if any other government or particular rule can be produced given by them, which is not recorded in the Scripture, so it can be proved to be theirs, we will engage to conform unto it. 5. If the rule pretended to be given by the apostles be of any use in this case, or can give any force unto the argument in hand, it must be such a one as appointed and required things to be observed in the worship of God that were never divinely appointed, imposing the observation of them on the consciences and practice of all the members of the church, under penalties spiritual and temporal; a rule constituting national churches, with a government and discipline suited unto that constitution, with modes and ceremonies of worship nowhere intimated in the Scripture, nor any way necessary in the light of reason. Such a rule, I say, it must be, since, although I should grant (which yet I do not) that the consequent is good, that because the apostles made rules for the practice of the church, that believers were bound in conscience to submit unto, therefore ordinary governors of the church may do so also, yet it will by no means follow that because the apostles appointed a rule of one sort, present church governors may appoint those of another. We know full well, and it is on all hands agreed, what is the rule that our conformity is required unto. If this be done from any rule given by the apostles, it must be a rule of the same nature or to the same purpose; otherwise, by a pretense of their pattern or example, rules may be made directly contrary unto and destructive of all the rules they ever really gave; as it is actually fallen out in the church of Rome. But, — 6. We deny that the apostles made or gave any such rules to the churches present in their days, or for the use of the churches in future ages, as should appoint and determine outward modes of worship, with ceremonies in their observation, stated feasts and fasts, beyond what is of divine institution, liturgies or forms of prayer, or discipline to be exercised in law courts, subservient unto a national ecclesiastical government. What use, then, they are or may be of what benefit or advantage may come to the church by them, what is the authority of the superior magistrate about them, we do not now inquire or determine. Only we say, that no rule unto these ends was ever prescribed by the apostles; for, — (1.) There is not the least intimation of any such rule to be given by them in the Scripture. There are in it, as was before observed, many express rules, both general and particular, about churches, their faith, worship, and men’s walking in them, thoroughly sufficient to direct the duty and practice of all believers in all cases and occurrences relating to them: but of any such rule as that here pretended there is no mention; which certainly, if it had been given, and of the importance which now it is pleaded to be of, — such as that without it neither peace, nor unity, nor order, can be preserved in churches, — some intimation at least would have been made of it therein. Especially, we may judge it would have been so, seeing sundry things (every thing, so far as we can understand) wherein the edification of the church is any way concerned are recorded in it, though of little or no use in comparison of what so great and general a rule would be of. Besides, there is that doctrine delivered, and those directions given by them, in the Scripture, concerning the liberty of believers and forbearance of dissenters, as is inconsistent with such a rule and the imposition of it. (2.) The first churches after their times knew nothing of any such rule given by them; and, therefore, after they began to depart from the simplicity of the gospel in any things, as unto worship, order, and rule, or discipline, they fell into a great variety of outward observances, orders, and ceremonies, every church almost differing in some thing or other from others, in some such observations, yet all “keeping the unity of the faith in the bond of peace.” This they would not have done if the apostles had prescribed any one certain rule of such things that all must conform unto, especially considering how scrupulously they did adhere unto every thing that was reported to be done or spoken by any of the apostles, were the report true or false. (3.) In particular, when a difference fell out amongst them in a business of this nature, namely, in a thing of outward order, nowhere appointed by the authority of Christ, — namely, about the observation of Easter, — the parties at variance appealed on the one side to the practice of Peter, on the other to the practice of John (both vainly enough): yet was it never pretended by any of them on either side that the apostles had constituted any rule in the case; and therefore it is not probable that they esteemed them to have done so in things of an alike nature, seeing they laid more weight on this than on any other instance of the like kind. (4.) It is expressly denied, by good and sufficient testimony among them, that the apostles made any law or rule about outward rites, ceremonies, times, and the like. See Socrat., lib. 5. cap. 21.

    However, then, the apostles might, by their epistles and presence with the churches, reform abuses that were creeping or had crept in among them, and set things in order among them, with renewed directions for their walking; and though all Christians were obliged unto the observation of those rules, as all those still are unto whom they are applicable in their circumstances; yet all this proves nothing of their appointing such a general rule as is pretended: and such a rule alone would be pleadable in this case; and yet not this neither, until either it were produced in a scheme of canons, or it were proved that because they had power to make such a rule, so others may do the like, adding unto what they prescribed, leaving place unto others to add to their rule by the same right, and so endlessly.

    The truth is, if God would be pleased to help us, on all hands, to lay aside prejudices, passions, secular interests, fears, and every other distempered affection, which obstruct our minds in passing a right judgment on things of the nature treated on, we [should] find in the text and context spoken unto a sacred truth divinely directive of such a practice as would give peace and rest unto us all; for it is supposed that men, in a sincere endeavor after acquaintance with the truths and mysteries of the gospel, with an enjoyment of the good things represented and exhibited in them, may fall, in some things, into different apprehensions about what belongs unto faith and practice in religion. But whilst they are such as do not destroy or overthrow the foundation, nor hinder men from “pressing towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” that which the apostle directs unto them who are supposed to be ignorant of or to mistake in the things wherein they do differ from others, is only that they wait for divine instruction in the use of the means appointed for that end, practising in the meantime according to what they have received.

    And as unto both parties, the advice he gives them is, that “whereunto they have attained,” wherein they do agree, — which were all those principles of faith and obedience which were necessary unto their acceptance with God, — they should “walk by the same rule, and mind the same thing;” that is, “forbearing one another” in the things wherein they differ: which is the substance of what is pleaded for by the Nonconformists.

    And that this is the meaning and intention of the apostle in this place is evident from the prescription of the same rule in an alike case, Romans 14.

    This the reverend author saw, — namely, that the rule there laid down is such as expressly requires mutual forbearance in such cases, where men are unsatisfied in conscience about any practice in religion; which seems, in the same case, to be quite another rule than that which he supposeth to be intended in this place to the Philippians. But hereunto he answers, that “the apostle did act like a prudent governor, and in such a manner as he thought did most tend to the propagation of the gospel and the good of particular churches. In some churches that consisted mostly of Jews, as the church of Rome at this time did, and where they did not impose the necessity of keeping the law on the Gentile Christians (as we do not find they did at Rome), the apostle was willing to have the law buried as decently and with as little noise as might be; and, therefore, in this case he persuades both parties to forbearance and charity in avoiding the judging and censuring of one another, since they had an equal regard unto the honor of God in what they did. But in those churches where the false apostles made use of this pretense of the Levitical law being still in force, to divide the churches and to separate the communion of Christians, the apostle bids them beware of them and their practices, as being of a dangerous and pernicious consequence,” pp. 14, 15. First, No man ever doubted of the prudence of the apostle as a governor, though in this place he acts only as a teacher divinely inspired, instructing the churches in the mind of God as unto the differences that were among them. Secondly, The difference then among the Romans was about the observation of the Mosaical ceremonies and worship; that is, so far as they might be observed in the countries of the Gentiles, out of the limits of the church, the land of Canaan. It could not be, therefore, concerning such things as whose discharge and practice was confined unto the temple or that land, which yet the Jews of Jerusalem adhered unto, Acts 21:20-24. Their controversy, therefore, was principally about meats and drinks, days of feasting or fasting, and the like, all founded on a supposed necessity of circumcision. Thirdly, It is well observed by our author, that the Judaizing Christians (which, in all probability, at this time were the greatest number at Rome, the Gentile church not making any great increase before the coming of the apostle thither) did not impose the necessity of keeping the law on the Gentile Christians; at least not in that manner as was done by the false teachers who troubled the churches of the Galatians and others, so as to eject them who complied not with them out of churchcommunion, and from all hopes of salvation: but yet both parties continued in their different practices; which, through want of instruction what was their duty in such cases, produced many inconveniences among them, as judging or despising one another, contrary to the rule of Christian love and charity. In this state the apostle prescribes unto them the rule of their duty; which is, plainly, to bear with one another, to love one another, and, according to the nature of charity, to believe all things, — to believe that each party was accepted with God, whilst they served him according unto the light which they had received. And as it is to be thought that, upon the giving of this rule and direction, they utterly laid aside all the animosities in judging and despising one another which they had been guilty of; so it is certain that they continued in their different practice a long time after without any rebuke or reproof; yea, some learned men do judge, and that not on grounds to be despised, that the parties who differed were gathered into distinct churches, and so continued to walk, even to the days of Adrian the emperor, when the last and final destruction of the whole nation of the Jews did befall them; after which those who were not hardened to the utmost gave off all expectation of any respect to be had with God of their old institution. I do not know how the present case between the church of England and the Nonconformists could have possibly been more plainly and distinctly stated and exemplified, in any thing that the churches were capable of or liable unto in those days, than it is in this case here stated and determined by the apostle; in whose direction, rule, and determination we do fully acquiesce. But, Fourthly, It is true also which this reverend author observes, that when the false apostles, or any other Judaizing teachers pretending to authority, did impose the observation of the rites and ceremonies of the Levitical law on any churches, unto their disturbance and division, the apostle looks hereon as that which so far altered the case that he gives other rules and directions about it. And if such impositions might be yet forborne in the like case, especially as accompanied with the severe supplement and addition of all sorts of outward penalties, to be inflicted on them who cannot comply with them, an open door would appear into all that agreement, peace, and quietness among us which are desired.

    I have treated thus far of these things, not to manage a controversy with this author or any other, but only to show that there is no ground to be taken from this text or its context to give countenance unto the severe censure of schism and all the evil consequents of it, as maintained by ill arts and practices, upon the Nonconformists.

    The procedure of our author in the management of his charge, is in a way of proving, from the assertions and concessions of the several parties whereinto he hath distinguished Nonconformists, that they have no just cause to withhold full communion from the church of England, especially in its parochial assemblies. And as unto the first party, whom he affirms to grant that they are in a state of separation, he quotes some sayings out of a discourse of a nameless author, concerning Evangelical Love, Church- Peace, and Unity; and together with some concessions of his, he adds his judgment, that communion in ordinances must be only in such churches as Christ himself instituted by unalterable rules, which were only particular and congregational churches. As I remember, that author hath at large declared in his discourse what communion believers ought to have with the church, or all churches, — the church in every sense wherein that name is used in the Scripture. But I shall not trouble myself to inquire into his assertions or concessions; nor at present can I do so, not having that book with me where I now am. My business is only to examine, on this occasion, what this reverend author excepteth against or opposeth unto his assertion about congregational churches, and the answering his charge of schism, notwithstanding this plea of the institution of particular churches for the celebration of divine ordinances. This he doth p. 25: “Granting this to be true, how doth it hence appear not to be a sin to separate from our parochial churches, which, according to their own concessions, have all the essentials of true churches? And what ground can they have to separate and divide those churches, which, for all that we can see, are of the same nature with the churches planted by the apostles at Corinth, Philippi, or Thessalonica?”

    Ans. 1. We will allow at present that the parochial churches, at least some of them, in this nation are true churches; that is, that they are not guilty of any such heinous errors in doctrine or idolatrous practice in worship as should utterly deprive them of the being and nature of churches. Yet we suppose it will not be made a rule, that communion may not be withheld or withdrawn from any church in any thing, so long as it continues, as unto the essence of it, to be so. This author knows that testimonies may be produced out of very learned protestant writers to the contrary. 2. We do not say, it is not pleaded, that because “communion in ordinances must be only in such churches as Christ himself hath instituted,” etc., that therefore it is lawful and necessary to separate from parochial churches; but it may be pleaded thence, that if it be on other grounds necessary to so separate or withhold communion from them, it is the duty of them who do so to join themselves in or unto some other particular congregations.

    The reasons why the Nonconformists cannot join in that communion with those parochial churches which were before described are quite of another nature, which are not here to be pleaded; however, some of them may be mentioned, to deliver us from this mistake, that the ground of separation from them is the institution of particular congregational churches. And they are such as these: — (1.) There are many things in all parochial churches that openly stand in need of reformation. What these are, both with respect unto persons and things, hath been before intimated, and shall be farther declared if occasion require. But these parochial churches neither do, nor indeed can, nor have power in themselves to reform the things that ought, by the rule of the Scripture, to be reformed; for none among us will plead that they are intrusted with power for their own government and reformation. In this case we judge it lawful for any man peaceably to withdraw communion from such churches, [and] to provide for his own edification in others. (2.) That there are many things, in the constant and total communion of parochial churches, imposed on the consciences and practices of men, which are not according to the mind of Christ. The things of this nature I shall not here mention in particular. (3.) There is no evangelical church discipline administered in such parochial churches, which yet is a necessary means unto the edification of the churches, appointed by Christ himself, and sacredly attended unto by the primitive churches; and we dare not renounce our interest in so blessed an ordinance of Christ in the gospel. (4.) The rule and government which such parochial churches are absolutely under, in the room of that rule and discipline which ought to be in and among themselves, — namely, that by the courts of bishops, chancellors, commissaries, etc., — is unknown to the Scriptures, and in its administration is very remote from giving a true representation of the authority, wisdom, love, and care of Christ to his church; which is the sole end of all church rules and discipline. The yoke hereof many account themselves not obliged to submit unto. (5.) There is in such churches a total deprivation of the liberty of the people, secured unto them by the rules and practices of several ages from the beginning, of choosing their own pastors; whereby they are also deprived of all use of their light and knowledge of the gospel in providing for their own edification. (6.) It cannot be denied but that there is want of due means of edification in many of those parochial churches, and yet provision is made by the government that those churches are under that none shall, by any way, provide themselves of better means for that great end of all church-society.

    It is on these and the like reasons that the Nonconformists cannot join in total communion, such as the rule pleaded for requireth, with parochial churches. In this state, as was said, the Lord Christ having instituted particular congregations, requiring all believers to walk in them, it is the duty of those who are necessitated to decline the communion of parochial churches, as they are stated at present, to join themselves in and unto such congregations as wherein their edification and liberty may be better provided for according unto rule.

    But hereon the reverend author proceeds to oppose such particular congregations or churches, I think, as unto their original and necessity; for so he speaks, pp. 25, 26: “But I must needs say farther, I have never yet seen any tolerable proof that the churches planted by the apostles were limited to congregations.”

    Howbeit, this seems to be so clear and evident in matter of fact, and so necessary from the nature of the thing itself, that many wise men, wholly unconcerned in our controversies, do take it for a thing to be granted by all without dispute. So speaks Chief-Justice Hobart, p. 149, in the case of Colt and Glover cont. Bishop Coventry and Litchfield: “And we know well that the primitive church, in its greatest purity, was but voluntary congregations of believers, submitting themselves to the apostles, and after to other pastors; to whom they did minister of their temporals as God did move them.” Of the same judgment are those who esteem the first government of the church to be democratical. So speaks Paulus Sarpius: “In the beginning, the government of the holy church had altogether a democratical form, all the faithful intervening in the chiefest deliberations.

    Thus we see that all did intervene at the election of Matthias unto the apostleship, and in the election of the six deacons; and when St Peter received Cornelius, a heathen centurion, unto the faith, he gave an account of it to all the church; likewise in the council celebrated in Jerusalem, the apostles, the priests, and the other faithful brethren did intervene, and the letters were written in the name of all these three orders. In success of time, when the church increased in number, the faithful retiring themselves to the affairs of their families, and having left those of the congregation, the government retained only in the ministers, and became aristocratical, saving the election, which was popular.” And others also of the same judgment may be added.

    But let us hear the reasoning of this learned author against this apprehension; this he enters upon, p. 26: “It is possible at first there might be no more Christians in one city than could meet in one assembly for worship; but where doth it appear that when they multiplied into more congregations, they did make new and distinct churches, under new officers, with a separate power of government? Of this, I am well assured, there are no marks or footsteps in the New Testament nor the whole history of the primitive church. I do not think it will appear credible to any considerate man that the five thousand Christians in the church of Jerusalem made one stated and fixed congregation for divine worship, not if we make all the allowances for strangers which can be desired; but if this were granted, where are the unalterable rules that as soon as the company became too great for one particular assembly, they must become a new church, under peculiar officers and an independent authority? It is very strange that those who contend so much for the Scripture being a perfect rule of all things pertaining to worship and discipline should be able to produce nothing in so necessary a point.”

    I answer, — 1. It is possible that an impartial account may, ere long, be given of the state and ways of the first churches after the decease of the apostles; wherein it will be made to appear how they did insensibly deviate in many things from the rule of their first institution, so as that, though their mistakes were of small moment, and not prejudicial unto their faith and order, yet occasion was administered to succeeding ages to increase those deviations, until they issued in a fatal apostasy. An eminent instance hereof is given us in the discourse of Paulus Sarpius about matters beneficiary, lately made public in our own language. f62 2. The matter of fact herein seems to me evidently to be exemplified in the Scripture; for although, it may be, there is not express mention made that these or those particular churches did divide themselves into more congregations with new officers, yet are there instances of the erection of new particular congregations in the same province, as distinct churches, with a separate power of government. So the first church in the province of Judea was in Jerusalem; but when that church was complete, as to the number of them who might communicate therein unto their edification, the apostles did not add the believers of the adjacent towns and places unto that church, but erected other particular congregations all the country over.

    So there were different churches in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, — that is, many in each of them, Acts 9:31. So the apostle mentions the churches of God that were in Judea, 1 Thessalonians 2:14, and nowhere speaks of them as one church, for worship, order, and government. So he speaks again, that is constantly, Galatians 1:22, “I was unknown by face unto the churches of Judea” And that these churches were neither national nor diocesan, but particular congregations, is, as I suppose, sufficiently evident. So was it in the province of Galatia. There is no mention of any church therein that should be comprehensive of all the believers in that province; but many particular churches there were, as it is testified chapter 1:2. So was it also in Macedonia. The first church planted in that province was at Philippi, as it is declared Acts 16; and it was quickly brought into complete order, so as that when the apostle wrote unto it, there were in it the “saints” whereof it was constituted, with “bishops and deacons,” Philippians 1:1. But that church being so complete, the apostle appointed other particular congregational churches in the same province, which had officers of their own, with a power of government; these he mentions and calls “The churches of Macedonia,” <470801> Corinthians 8:1,23. Wherefore we need no more directions in this matter than what are given us by the apostle’s authority, in the name and authority of Jesus Christ, nor are concerned in the practice of those who afterward took another course, of adding believers from other places unto the church first planted, unless it were in case of a disability to enjoy church-communion among themselves elsewhere. Whatever, therefore, is pretended unto the contrary, we have plain Scripture evidence and practice for the erecting particular distinct congregations, with power for their own rule and edification, in the same province, be it as small as those that were of Samaria or Galilee. It cannot, surely, be said that these churches were national, whereof there were many in one small province of a small nation, nor yet metropolitical or diocesan; nor, I suppose, will it be denied but that they were intrusted with power to rule and govern themselves in all ordinary cases, especially when in every one of them elders were ordained; which the apostles were careful to see done, Acts 14:23. This is the substance of what we plead as unto particular congregations. 3. It is not probable that any of the first churches did, for a long time, increase in any city unto such a number as might exceed the bounds of a particular church or congregation; for such they might continue to be, notwithstanding a multiplication of bishops or elders in them, and occasional distinct assemblies for some acts of divine worship. And it seems if they did begin to exceed in number beyond a just proportion for their edification, they did immediately erect other churches among them or near them. So, whereas there was a mighty increase of believers at Corinth, Acts 18:10, there was quickly planted a distinct church at Cenchrea, which was the port of the city, Romans 16:1. And notwithstanding the great number of five thousand that were converted at Jerusalem upon the first preaching of the gospel, yet were they so disposed of or so dispersed, that some years after this there was such a church only there as did meet together in one place as occasion did require, even the whole multitude of the brethren, who are called the “church” in distinction from the “apostles and elders,” who were their governors, Acts 15:4,12, 21:22. Nor was that church of any greater number when they all departed afterward and went out into Pella, a village beyond Jordan, before the destruction of the people, city, and temple. And though many alterations were before that time introduced into the order and rule of the churches, yet it appears that when Cyprian was bishop of the church at Carthage, the whole community of the members of that church did meet together to determine of things that were for their common interests, according unto what was judged to be their right and liberty in those days; which they could not have done had they not all of them belonged unto the same particular church and congregation. But these things may be pleaded elsewhere if occasion be given thereunto. But yet, — 4. I must say that I cannot discern the least necessity of any positive rule or direction in this matter, nor is any such thing required by us on the like occasion; for this distribution of believers into particular congregations is that which the nature of the thing itself, and the duty of men with respect unto the end of such churches, do indispensably require. For what is the end of all churches, for which they are instituted? is it not the edification of them that do believe? They will find themselves mistaken who suppose that they were designed to be subservient unto the secular interest of any sort of men. What are the means appointed of Christ in such churches for that end? Are they not “doctrine and fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers,” — that is, the joint celebration of the ordinances of Christ in the gospel, in preaching the word, administering the sacraments, mutual watchfulness over one another, and the exercise of that discipline which he hath appointed unto his disciples? I desire to know whether there be any need of a new revelation to direct men who are obliged to preserve churches in their use unto their proper end, to take care of such things as would obstruct and hinder them in the use of means unto the end of their edification? Whereas, therefore, it is manifest that, ordinarily, these means cannot be used in a due manner but in such churches as wherein all may be acquainted with what all are concerned in, the very institution itself is a plain command to plant, erect, and keep all churches in such a state as wherein this end may be attained. And, therefore, if believers in any place are so few, or so destitute of spiritual gifts, as not to be able of themselves jointly to observe these means for their edification, it is their duty not to join by themselves in a church-state, but to add themselves as members unto other churches; and so when they are so many as that they cannot orderly communicate together in all these ordinances, in the way of their administration appointed in the Scripture, unto the edification of them, it is their duty, by virtue of the divine institution of churches, to dispose of their church-state and relation into that way which will answer the ends of it, — that is, into more particular churches or congregations.

    I speak not these things in opposition unto any other church-state which men may erect or establish out of an opinion of its usefulness and conveniency, much less against that communion which ought to be among those particular churches, or their associations for their common rule and government in and by their officers; but only to manifest that those Nonconformists who are supposed to adhere unto the institution of particular churches in a peculiar way, do not thereby deserve the imputation of so great and intolerable a guilt as they are here charged withal. And whereas I have hereby discharged all that I designed with respect unto the first sort of Noncomformists, as they are here distinguished, I might here give over the pursuit of this argument; but because I seek after truth and satisfaction also in these things, I shall a little farther consider what is offered by this reverend author unto the same purpose with what we have passed through. So, therefore, he proceeds, pp. 26, 27, “If that of which we read the clearest instance in Scripture must be the standard of all future ages, much more might be said for limiting churches to private families than to particular congregations; for do we not read of the church that was in the house of Priscilla and Aquila at Rome, of the church that was in the house of Nymphas at Colosse, and in the house of Philemon at Laodicea? Why, then, should not churches be reduced to particular families, when by that means they may fully enjoy the liberty of their consciences and avoid the scandal of breaking the laws? But if, notwithstanding such plain examples, men will extend churches to congregations of many families, why may not others extend churches to those societies which consist of many congregations?”

    I answer, — 1. Possibly a church may be in a family, or consist only of the persons that belong to a family: but a family, as a family, neither is nor can be a church; for as such it is constituted by natural and civil relations. But a church hath its form and being from the voluntary spiritual consent of those whereof it consists unto church-order: “They gave,” saith the apostle, “their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God,” 2 Corinthians 8:5.

    Neither is there any mention at all in the Scripture of the constitution of churches in private families, so as that they should be limited thereunto. 2. What is spoken of the church in the houses of Aquila, Nymphas, and Philemon, doth not at all prove that there was a particular church in each of their houses, consisting only of their own families as such; but only that there was a church which usually assembled in their respective houses.

    Wherefore, — 3. There is no such example given of churches in private families in the whole Scripture as should restrain the extent of churches from congregations of many families. And the inquiry hereon, that “if men will extend churches to congregations of many families, why may not others extend churches unto societies which consist of many congregations,” hath not any force in it; for they who extended churches unto congregations of many families were the apostles themselves, acting in the name and authority of Jesus Christ, It cannot be proved that ever they stated, erected, or planted any one church, but it was composed of many persons out of many families; nor that ever they confined a church unto a family, or taught that families, though all of them believers and baptized, were churches on the account of their being families. “So others may extend churches unto those societies which consist of many congregations;” — yet not so as those who cannot comply or join with them should thereon be esteemed schismatics, seeing such societies were not appointed by Christ and his apostles. If such societies be so constituted as that there is but a probable plea that they are ordained by Christ, there may be danger in a dissent from them merely on this account, that they consist of many congregations; but this is not our case, as hath been before declared.

    The remainder of this section consists in an account of the practice of the churches in some things in following ages. This though of importance in itself, and deserving a full inquiry into, yet belongeth not unto our present case, and will, it may be, in due time be more fully spoken unto.

    Those supposed of the first way and judgment, who grant a separation from the established form of the church of England, are dismissed with one charge more on and plea against their practice, not without a mixture of some severity in expression p. 30: “But suppose the first churches were barely congregated, by reason of the small number of believers at that time, yet what obligation lies upon us to disturb the peace of the church we live in to reduce churches to their infant state?” which is pressed with sundry considerations in the two following pages. But we say, — 1. That the first churches were not “congregated by reason of the small number of believers,” but because the Lord Christ had limited and determined that such a state of his churches should be under the New Testament, as best suited unto all the ends of their institution. 2. That which is called the “infant state of churches” was, in truth, their sole perfect estate; — what they grew up unto afterward, most of them, we know well enough; for leaving, as it is called, their “infant state” by degrees, they brought forth at last “The man of sin.” 3. No obligation lies upon us from hence to “disturb the peace” of any church; nor do we do so, let what will be pretended to the contrary. If any such disturbance do ensue upon the differences that are between them and us, as far as I know, the blame will be found lying upon them who [are] not [only] satisfied that they may leave the first state of the churches, under a pretense of its infancy, and bring them into a greater perfection than was given them by Christ and his disciples, but compel others also to forego their primitive constitution, and comply with them in their alteration thereof.

    The remainder of the discourse of this section, so far as I can understand, proceeds on this principle, that the sole reason and cause of our nonconformity is this persuasion of the divine institution of particular churches; but all men know that this is otherwise. This of all things is least pleaded, and commonly in the last place, and but by some, among the causes and reasons of our withholding communion, so far as we do so, from the church of England, as unto the way and manner wherein it is required of us. Those reasons have been pleaded already, and may yet be so farther in due time. For the rest of the discourse, we do not, we cannot, believe that the due and peaceable observation of the institutions of Christ doth of itself give any disturbance unto any churches or persons whatever, nor that a peaceable endeavor to practice ourselves according unto those institutions, without imposing that practice on them, can be justly blamable. We do not, we cannot, believe that our refusal of a total compliance with a rule for order, discipline, worship, and ceremonies in the church, not given by Christ and his apostles, but requiring of us sundry things either in themselves or as required of us directly contrary unto, or inconsistent with, the rules and directions given us by them unto those ends (as, in our judgment and light of our consciences, is done in and by this rule), is either schism or blamable separation. We do judge ourselves obliged to preserve peace and unity among Christians by all the means that Christ hath appointed for that end, — by the exercise of all graces, the performance of all duties, the observation of all rules and directions given us for that end; but we do not, we cannot, believe that to neglect the means of our own edification, appointed unto us by Christ himself, to cast away the liberty wherewith he hath made us free, and to destroy our own souls for ever by acting against his authority in his word, and our own consciences guided thereby, in a total complying with the rule proposed unto us, is a way or means for the attaining of that end. And we do believe that, in the present state of the differences among us, an issue whereof is not suddenly to be expected in an absolute agreement in opinion and judgment about them, the rule of the Scripture, the example of the first churches, the nature of Christian religion, and the present interest of the protestant religion among us, do call for mutual forbearance, with mutual love, and peaceable walking therein. And we begin to hope, that whereas it is confessed that the foundations of Christian religion are preserved entire among us all, and it is evident that those who dissent from the present ecclesiastical establishments, or any of them, are as ready to do and suffer what they shall be lawfully called unto in the defense and for the preservation of the protestant religion, wise men will begin to think that it is better for them to take up quietly in what the law hath provided for them, and not turmoil themselves and others in seeking to put an end unto these differences by force and compulsion; which by these ways they will never whilst they live attain unto. And we do suppose that many of them who do cordially own and seek the preservation of the protestant religion in this nation, — men, I mean, of authority, power, and interest, — will be no more instrumental to help one part [to] ruin and destroy another, unduly weakening the whole interest of Protestantism thereby; but, considering how little the concern of themselves or their posterity can be in these lesser differences, in comparison of what it is in the whole protestant cause, will endeavor their utmost to procure an equal liberty (though not equal outward advantages) for all that are firm and stable in their profession of that protestant religion which is established by law in this kingdom. I know that learned and eloquent men, such as this author is, are able to declaim against mutual forbearance in these things, with probable pleas and pretences of evil consequents which will ensue thereon; and I do know that others, though not with equal learning or eloquence, do declare and set forth the inequality, unrighteousness, and destructive events of a contrary course, or the use of force and compulsion in this cause; — but it must be granted that the evil consequences pretended on a mutual forbearance do follow from the corrupt affections and passions of men, and not from the thing itself; but all the evils which will follow on force and compulsion do naturally arise from the thing itself.

    I shall close this part of my discourse with an observation on that wherewith it is closed by this author, in his management of it. Saith he, “To withdraw from each other into separate congregations tempts some to spiritual pride, and scorn and contempt of others, as of a more carnal and worldly church than themselves; and provokes others to lay open the follies, and indiscretions, and immoralities of those who pretend to so much purity and spirituality above their brethren,” pp. 32,33.

    If there be any unto whom this is such a temptation as is mentioned in the first place, and being so, doth prevail upon them, it is their sin, arising from their own lusts, by which every man is tempted, and is not at all occasioned by the thing itself. And for the other part, let those who delight in that work proceed as they shall see cause; for if they charge upon us things that are really foolish, indiscreet, and immoral, as in many things we sin all, we hope we shall learn what to amend, and to be diligent therein, as for other reasons, so because of our observers. But if they do what some have done, and others yet continue to do, — fill their discourses with false, malicious defamations, with scorn, contempt, railing, and revilings, scandalous unto Christian religion, like a sermon lately preached before my Lord Mayor, and since put in print (I intend not that under consideration), — We are no way concerned in what they do or say, nor do, as we know of, suffer any disadvantage thereby; yea, such persons are beneath the offense and contempt of all men pretending unto the least wisdom and sobriety.

    For what remains of this discourse, I esteem not myself concerned to insist on the examination of it; for I would not so express my judgment in these things as some are here represented to declare themselves, and I know that those who are principally reflected on are able to defend both their principles and practices. And besides, I hear (in the retirement wherein I live, and wherein I die daily) that some of those most immediately concerned have returned an answer unto this part of the discourse under consideration. I shall, therefore, only observe some few things that may abate the edge of this charge; for although we judge the defense of the truth which we profess to be necessary when we are called thereunto, yet at present, for the reasons intimated at the entrance of this discourse, we should choose that it might not be brought under debate. But the defense of our innocency, when the charge against us is such as in itself tends to our distress and ruin, is that alone which is our present design, and which wise men, no way concerned in our nonconformity, for the sake of the protestant religion and public peace of the nation, have judged necessary.

    The principal strength of this part of the reverend author’s discourse consists in his application of the reasons of the [Westminster] Assembly against those who desired forbearance, in distinct communion from the rule sought then to be established, unto those who now desire the same forbearance from the church of England. I will not immerse myself in that controversy, nor have any contention with the dead. This only I say, that the case then between the Presbyterians and those who dissented from them is so vastly different from that now between the church of England and the Nonconformists, and that in so many material instances and circumstances, that no light can be communicated unto the right determination of the latter from what was pleaded in the former. In brief, those who pleaded then for a kind of uniformity or agreement in total communion did propose no one of those things, as the condition of it, which are now pleaded as the only reasons of withholding the same kind of conformity from the church of England, and the non-imposition of any such things they wade the foundation of their plea for the compliance of others with them; and those on the other side, who pleaded for liberty and forbearance in such a case as wherein there were no such impositions, did it mostly on the common liberty which, as they judged, they had with their other brethren to abide by the way which they had declared and practiced long before any rule was established unto its prejudice. And these things are sufficient to give us, as unto the present case under debate, an absolute unconcernment in what was then pleaded on the one side or the other, and so it shall be here dismissed.

    The especial charge here managed against the Nonconformists is, that they allow that to “live [in] a state of separation from such churches as many at least of ours are is a sin;” yet that themselves so do, which is manifest in their practice. But it may be said, — 1. That this concession respects only parochial churches, and that some of them only; but the conformity in general required of us respects the constitution, government, discipline, worship, and communion of the national church and diocesan churches therein. 2. Persons who thus express themselves are to be allowed the interpretation of their own minds, words, and expressions; for if they do judge that such things do belong unto a state of separation from any churches, as, namely, a causeless renouncing of all communion with them, a condemnation of them as no church, and on that ground setting up churches against them, which they know themselves not to be guilty of, they may both honestly and wisely deny themselves to be in a state of separation, nor will their present practice prove them so to be. And, on the other hand, those who do acknowledge a separation as unto distinct local presential communion with the church of England, yet do all of them deny those things which, in the judgment of those now intended, are necessary to constitute a state of separation. But on this account, I cannot see the least contradiction between the principles and practice of these brethren, nor wherein they are blameworthy in their concessions, unless to be in too much earnestness to keep up all possible communion with the church of England. “Forgive them that wrong.” Yet I say not this as though those who are here supposed to own a state of separation were not as zealous also for communion in faith, love, and doctrine of truth with the body of Protestants in this nation as they are. 3. That which animates this part of the discourse, and which is the edge of this charge, is, that “the ministers do conceal from the people what their judgment is about the lawfulness of communion with the church of England.” How this can be known to be so, I cannot understand; for that it is their judgment that they may do so is proved only, so far as I know, from what they have written and published in print unto that purpose.

    And certainly what men so publish of their own accord, they can have no design to conceal from any, especially not from them who usually attend on their ministry, who are most likely to read their books with diligence.

    But this hath been spoken unto before.

    In these things we seek for no shelter nor countenance from what is pleaded by any concerning the obliging power of an “erroneous conscience,” which the reverend author insists on, pp. 42-44; for we acknowledge no rule of conscience in those things which concern churches, their state, power, order, and worship, but divine revelation only, — that is, the Scripture, the written word of God, — and sure enough we are not deceived in the choice of our rule, so as that we desire no greater assurance in any concerns of religion. And by the Scripture as our rule, we understand both the express words of it, and whatever may, by just and lawful consequence, be educed from them. This rule we attend unto, and inquire into the mind of God in it, with all the diligence we are able, and in the use of all the means that are usually and truly pleaded as necessary unto the attainment of a right understanding thereof; and if any one can inform us of any thing required of us thereby which yet we have not received, we shall with all readiness comply therewithal. We have no prejudices, no outward temptations, that should bias our minds and inclinations unto those principles, and practices on them, which we judge ourselves guided and directed unto by this rule; but all such considerations as might be taken from the most moderate desires, even of food and raiment, do lie against us. We are hereon fully satisfied that we have attained that knowledge in the mind of God about these things as will preserve us from evil or sin against him, from being hurtful or useless unto the rest of mankind, if we submit unto the light and conduct of it.

    Wherefore, we seek no relief in, we plead no excuse from, the obligation of an erroneous conscience, but do abide by it that our consciences are rightly informed in these things; and then it is confessed on all hands what is their power, and what their force to oblige us, with respect unto all human commands.

    I know not of any farther concern that the Nonconformists have in the discourse of this reverend author, unless it be in the considerations which he proposeth unto them, and the advice which he gives them in the close of it. I shall only say, concerning the one and the other, that having weighed them impartially, unto the best of my understanding, I find not any thing in them that should make it the duty of any man to invent and constitute such a rule of church communion as that which is proposed unto the Nonconformists for their absolute compliance withal, nor any thing that should move the Nonconformists unto such compliance, against the light of their consciences and understanding in the mind of Christ; which alone are the things in debate between us. But if the design of the author, in the proposal of these considerations and the particulars of his advice, be, that we should take heed to ourselves, that during these differences among us we give no offense unto others, so far as it is possible, nor entertain severe thoughts in ourselves of them from whom we differ, we shall be glad that both he and we should be found in the due observance of such advice. One head of his advice I confess might be, if I am not mistaken, more acceptable with some of the Nonconformists, if it had not come in the close of such a discourse as this is; and it is, that “they should not be always complaining of their hardships and persecution,” p. 54: for they say, after so many of them have died in common jails; so many have endured long imprisonments, not a few being at this day in the same durance; so many have been driven from their habitations into a wandering condition, to preserve for a while the liberty of their persons; so many have been reduced unto want and penury by the taking away of their goods, and from some the very instruments of their livelihood; after the prosecutions which have been against them in all courts of justice in this nation, on informations, indictments, and suits, to the great charge of all of them who are so persecuted, and ruin of some; after so many ministers and their families have been brought into the utmost outward straits which nature can subsist under; after all their perpetual fears and dangers wherewith they have been exercised and disquieted, — they think it hard they should be complained of for complaining by them who are at ease. It may be remembered what one speaks very gravely in the Comedian, — “Sed, Demea, hoc tu facito cure animo cogites, Quam vos facillime agitis, quam estis maxume Potentes, dites, fortunati, nobiles; Tam maxume vos aequo animo aequa noscere Oportet, si vos voltis perhiberi probos.” — [Ter. Ad. 3, 4, 54.] Indeed, men who are encompassed with an affluence of all earthly enjoyments, and in the secure possession of the good things of this life, do not well understand what they say when they speak of other men’s sufferings. This I dare undertake for all the Nonconformists: let others leave beating them, and they shall all leave complaining. She is thought but a curst mother who beats her child for crying, and will not cease beating until the child leave crying; which it cannot do whilst it is continually beaten. Neither do I know that the Nonconformists are “always complaining of their sufferings,” nor what are their complaints that they make, nor to whom; yea, I do suppose that all impartial men will judge that they have berne their sufferings with as much patience and silence as any who have gone before them in the like state and condition. And they do hope that men will not be angry with them if they cry unto God for deliverance from those troubles which they judge they undergo for his sake. Thankful, also, they are unto God and men for any release they have received from their sufferings; wherein their chief respect amongst men hitherto is unto the king himself. But that they should be very thankful to those who esteem all their past and present sufferings to be light, and do really endeavor to have them continued and increased (among whom I do not reckon this reverend author, for I do not know that I can truly do so), is not to be expected.

    I shall add no more, but that whereas the Nonconformists intended in this defense are one, or do completely agree, with the body of the people in this nation that are Protestants, Or the church of England, in the entire doctrine of faith and obedience, in all the instances whereby it hath been publicly declared or established by law, — which agreement in the unity of faith is the principal foundation of all other union and agreement among Christians, and without which every other way or means of any such union or agreement is of no worth or value, and which if it be not impeached is in itself a sufficient bond of union, whatever other differences may arise among men, and ought to be so esteemed among all Christians; — and whereas they are one with the same body of the people, that is, in its magistracy and those who are under rule, in one common interest, for the maintenance and preservation of protestant religion, whereunto they are secured by a sense of their duty and safety, and without whose orderly and regular concurrence in all lawful ways and actings unto that end it will not be so easily attained as some imagine; — and whereas also they are one with them in all due legal subjection unto the same supreme power amongst us, and are equally ready with any sort of persons of their respective qualities or condition in the nation to contribute their assistance unto the preservation of its peace and liberty; — and whereas in their several capacities they are useful unto the public faith and trust of the nation, the maintenance and increase of the wealth and prosperity of it; — considering what evidences there are of the will of God in the constitution of our natures, under the conduct of conscience, in immediate subordination unto himself; the different measures of light, knowledge, and understanding which he communicates unto men; as also of the spirit, rule, and will of Jesus Christ, with the example of the apostles and the primitive churches for mutual forbearance, in such different apprehensions of and practices about religion, as no way intrencheth on the unity of faith, or any good of public society; — I cannot but judge (in which persuasion I now live, and shall shortly die) that all writings tending to exasperate and provoke the dissenting parties one against another are at this day highly unseasonable; and all endeavors, of what sort soever, to disquiet, discourage, trouble, punish, or distress such as dissent from the public rule, in the way before described, are contrary to the will of God, obstructive of the welfare of the nation, and dangerous unto the protestant religion.

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