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3. That ordinarily none shall be ordained to the work of this ministry but such as a called and chosen thereunto by a particular church.
4. That in so great and weighty a matter as the calling and chusing a pastor, we jud, it ordinarily requisite that every such church consult and advise with the pastors of 1 neighbouring congregations.
5. That after such advice, the person consulted about being chosen by the brotherhor of that particular church over which he is to be set, and he accepting, be duly ordained a set apart to his office over them; wherein 'tis ordinarily requisite that the pastors of neig bouring congregations concur with the preaching elder or elders, if such there be.
6. That whereas such ordination is only intended for such as never before had bee ordained to the ministerial office, if any judge that in the case also of the removal of ou formerly ordained to a new station or pastoral charge, there ought to be a like solen recommending him and his labours to the grace and blessing of God; no different sentime: or practice herein shall be any occasion of contention or breach of communion among us.
7. It is expedient that they who enter on the work of preaching the gospel" be not on qualified for communion of saints, but also that, except in cases extraordinary, they s proof of their gifts and fitness for the said work unto the pastors of churches of known avil ties, to discern and judge of their qualifications; that they may be sent forth with solem approbation and prayer; which we judge needful, that no doubt may remain concernin their being called unto the work; and for preventing (as much as in us lyeth) ignorant an rash intruders.
III. OF CENSURES.
1. As it cannot be avoided but that, in the purest churches on earth, there will sometime offences and scandals arise by reason of hypocrisie and prevailing corruption; so Christ hat made it the duty of every church to reform itself by spiritual remedies appointed by him be applyed in all such cases, viz: admonition and excommunication.
2. Admonition, being the rebuking of an oftending member in order to conviction, is case of private offences to be performed according to the rule in Matth. xviii. 15, 16, 17, ill in case of publick offences openly before the church, as the honour of the gospel and 1 nature of the scandal shall require; and, if either of the admonitions take place for recovery of the fallen person, all further proceedings in a way of censure are thereoni cease, and satisfaction to be declared accordingly.
3. When all due means are used, according to the order of the gospel" for the restorit an “offending and scandalous brother," and he notwithstanding remains impenitent, the sure of excommunication is to be proceeded unto; wherein the pastor and other elders there be such) are to lead and go before the church; and the brotherhood to give their og sent in a way of obedience unto Christ, and to the elders, as over them in the Lord.
4. It may sometimes come to pass that a church-member, not otherwise scandalous, i sinfully withdraw, and divide himself from the communion of the church to which he belong eth; in which case, when all due means for the reducing him prove ineffectual, (he havi thereby cut himself off from that church's communion) the church may justly esteem declare itself discharged of any further inspection over him.
IV. OF COMMUNION OF CHURCHES.
1. We agree that particular churches ought not to walk so distinct and separate fin each other as not to have care and tenderness towards one another. But their past ought to have frequent incetings together, that by mutual advice, support, encouragene and brotherly intercourse, they may strengthen the hearts and hands of each other in " ways of the Lord.”
2. That none of our particular churches shall be subordinate to one another, each bei endued with equality of power from Jesus Christ. And that none of the said particu
churches, their officer or officers, shall exercise any power, or have any superiority, over any other church or their officers.
3. That known members of particular churches, constituted as aforesaid, may have occasional communion with one another in the ordinances of the gospel, viz: the word, prayer, sacraments, singing of Psalms, dispensed according to the mind of Christ; unless that church with which they desire communion hath any just exception against them.
4. That we ought not admit any one to be a member of our respective congregations that hath join'd himself to another, without endeavours of mutual satisfaction of the congregations concerned.
5. That one church ought not to blame the proceedings of another until it hath heard what that church charged, its elders or messengers, can say in vindication of themselves from any charge of irregular or injurious proceedings.
6. That we are most willing and ready to give an account of other church-proceedings to each other when desired; for preventing or removing any offences that may arise among us. Likewise we shall be ready to give the right hand of fellowship, and walk together according to the gospel rules of communion of churches.
V. OF DEACONS AND RULING-ELDERS.
We agree the office of a deacon is of divine appointment, and that it belongs to their office to receive, lay out, and distribute the churches stock to its proper uses, by the direction of the pastor, and bretheren, if need be. And whereas diverse are of opinion, that there is also the office of ruling-elders, who labour not in word and doctrine; and others think otherwise; we agree that this difference make no breach among us.
VI. OF OCCASIONAL MEETING OF MINISTERS, ETC.
1. We agree that, in order to concord, and in other weighty and difficult cases, it is needful, and according to the mind of Christ, that the ministers of several churches be consulted and advised with about such matters.
2. That such meetings may consist of smaller or greater numbers, as the matter shall require.
3. That particular churches, their respective elders and members, ought to have a reverential regard to their judgment, so given, and not dissent therefrom without apparent grounds from the word of God.
VII. OF OUR DEMEANOUR TOWARDS THE CIVIL MAGISTRATE.
1. We do reckon our selves obliged continually to pray for God's protection, guidance, and blessing upon the rulers set over us.
2. That we ought to yield unto them not only subjection in the Lord, but support, according to our station and abilities.
3. That if at any time it shall be their pleasure to call together any number of us, to require an account of our affairs and the state of our congregations, we shall most readily express all dutiful regard to them herein.
VIII. OF A CONFESSION OF FAITH.
As to what appertains to soundness of judgment in matters of faith, we esteem it sufficient that a church acknowledge the Scriptures to be the word of God, the perfect and only rule of faith and practice, and own either the doctrinal part of those commonly called the articles of the church of England, or the confession or catechisms, shorter or larger, compiled by the assembly at Westminster, or the confession agreed on, at the Savoy, to be agreeable to the said rule.
IX. OF OUR DUTY AND DEPORTMENT TOWARDS THEM THAT ARE NOT IN COMMUNION
1. We judge it our duty to bear a Christian respect to all Christians, according to their several ranks and stations, that are not of our perswasion or communion.
2. As for such as may be ignorant of the principles of Christian religion, or of vicious conversation, we shall in our respective places, as they give opportunity, endeavour to explain to them the doctrine of life and salvation, and to our utmosi perswade them to be reconciled to God.
3. That such who appear to have the essential requisites to church-communion, we shall willingly receive them in the Lord, not troubling them with disputes about lesser matters, As we assent to the afore-mentioned “heads of agreement,” so we unanimously
resolve as the Lord shall enable us, to practice according to them.
THE THIRD PART.
THE PRINCIPLES OWNED, AND THE ENDEAVOURS USED,
BY THE CHURCHES OP NEW-ENGLAND CONCERNING THE CHURCH-STATE OP THEIR POSTERITI
Si Ecclesia debet unquam Reflorescere, necesse est, at à pucrorum Institutione
1. As the English nation has been honoured above most of the Protestant and reformed world, with clearer discoveries of several most considerable points in our Christian religion-particularly the points of a true evangelical church-order—so the New-English part of this nation hath had a singular share in receiving and imparting the illuminations which the light shining in a dark place hath given thereabout. Very true and just are the printed words of the well known Mr. Nathaniel Mather, on this occasion:
“ Amongst all that have suffered for and searched into these truths, they of New-England justly deserve and will have a name and a glory, as long as the earth shall have any remembrance of an English nation. After-ages will honour them for that great and high adventure of theirs in transporting themselves, their wives and little ones, upon the rude waves of the vast ocean into a remote, desolate and howling wilderness, and there encountring by faith and patience with a world of temptations and streights and pressing wants and difficulties, and this upon no other inducements but that they might meet with him whom their souls loved, in the midst of his golden candlesticks, and see him, as they have there seen him in his sanctuary."
It might rationally be now expected that our compassionate Lord Jesus Christ would graciously gratifie the desires and labours of such an holy generation with as full an understanding of his revealed will about his instituted worship as he has at any time granted unto any of his people; and that especially the officers of instituted churches-humbly, prayerfully
* If the church is ever to revive, it is essential that a commencement should be made by the education of youth.
and carefully engaged in studies for their service—would lye under as direct an influence of his Holy Spirit, as any inquirers whatsoever. But there is one very important article of ecclesiastical discipline whereabouts the churches of New-England have had a most peculiar exercise and concernment; and that is "the ecclesiastical state of their posterity."
2. When our churches were come to between twenty and thirty years of age, a numerous posterity was advanced so far into the world, that the first planters began apace in their several families to be distinguished by the name of grand-fathers; but among the immediate parents of the grandchildren, there were multitudes of well disposed persons, who, partly thro' their own doubts and fears, and partly thro’ other culpable neglects, had not actually come up to the covenanting state of communicants at the table of the Lord. The good old generation could not, without many uncomfortable apprehensions, behold their off-spring excluded from the baptism of Christianity, and from the ecclesiastical inspection which is to accompany that baptism; indeed, it was to leave their off-spring under the shepherdly government of our Lord Jesus Christ in his ordinances, that they had brought their lambs into this wilderness. When the apostle bids churches to "look diligently, lest any man fail of the grace of God," there is an ecclesiastical word used for that “looking diligently;" intimating that God will ordinarily bless a regular church-watch, to maintain the interests of grace among his people: and it was therefore the study of those prudent men, who might he call'd our seers, that the children of the faithful may be kept, as far as may be, under a church-watch, in expectation that they might be in the fairer way to receive the grace of God; thus they were “looking diligently," that the prosperous and prevailing condition of religion in our churches might not be Res unius ætatis, —"a matter of one age alone.” Moreover, among the next sons or daughters descending from that generation, there was a numerous appearance of sober persons, who professed themselves desirous to renew their baptismal-covenant and submit unto the church-discipline, and so have their houses also marked for the Lord's; but yet they could not come up to that experimental account of their own regeneration, which would sufficiently embolden their access to the other sacrament. Wherefore, for our churches now to make no ecclesiastical difference between these hopeful candidates and competents for those our further mysteries, and Pagans, who inight happen to hear the word of God in our assemblies, was judged a most unwarrantable strictness, which would quickly abandon the biggest part of our country unto heathenism. And, on the other side, it was feared that, if all such as had not yet exposed themselves by censurable scandals found upon them, should be admitted unto all the priviledges in our churches, a worldly part of mankind might, before we are aware, carry all things into such a course of proceeding, as would be very disagreeable unto the kingdom of heaven.
$ 3. The questions raised about these matters came to some figures, first, in the colony of Connecticut; where the pious magistrates, observing the begun dangers of paroxysms, which might affect the state as well as the church, on this occasion produced a draught of the agitated questions, and sent them to the magistrates of the Massachusett's colony, with a request that several of the ablest ministers in both colonies might, upon mature deliberation, give in their answers thereunto. Accordingly, the letters of the government procured an assembly of our principal ministers at Boston, on June 4, 1657, who by the 19th of that month prepared and presented an elaborate answer to twenty-one questions; which was afterwards printed in London, under the title of "A Disputation concerning Church-members and their Children." Besides other cases referring to the church-state of children born in the bosom of the church, it is in this disputation asserted and maintained
“ That it is the duty of infants, who confederate in their parents, when grown up unto years of discretion, tho' not yet fit for the Lord's Supper, to own the corenant they made with their parents, by entering thereinto in their own persons; and it is the duty of the church to call upon them for the performance thereof; and if, being called upon, they shall refuse the performance of this great duty, or otherwise do continue scandalous, they are liable to be censured for the same by the church. And in case they understand the “grounds of religion,” and are not scandalous, and solemnly own the covenant, in their own persons, wherein they give up both themselves and their children unto the Lord, and desire baptism for them, we see not sufficient cause to deny baptism unto their children.”
$ 4. The practice of church care about the children of our churches thus directed and commended, was but gradually introduced; yea, it met with such opposition as could not be encountred with any thing less than a synod of elders and messengers from all the churches in the Massachuset colony. Accordingly, the general court, having the necessity of the matter laid before them, at their second session in the year 1661, issued out their desire and order for the convening of such a synod at Boston in the spring of the year ensuing. And for the deliberations of that synod, besides the grand question about “the subject of baptism," there was another question propounded about “the consociation of churches," which was of no small consequence to the interests of Christianity in the country. As the divines of New-England were solicitous that the propagation of our churches might hold pace with that of our offspring, so they were industrious for the combination of our churches into such a bundle of arrowes as might not easily be broken. However, they had by their adversaries been termed independ. ents; nevertheless, they solemnly on this occasion repeated and subscribed that profession of their famous bretheren in the English nation:
“That it is the most to be abhorred maxim, that any religion hath made profession of, and therefore of all other the most contradictory, and dishonourable unto that of Christianity, that a single and particular society of men, professing the name of Christ, and pretending to be endowed with a power from Christ, to judge them that are of the same body and society