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whatsoever.-If a Pagan, or a Jew, that is imprisoned in a country where the Christian religion is not professed, (being, by reading or conference, through the goodness of God, brought to the knowledge of the truth, and to profess it, living answerably unto it, though he should die before that he could come to enjoy church-communion, we have no reason to doubt of his salvation ; our Saviour having told us, that whosoever believeth in him hath eternal life. (John vi. 40.)

WHAT WE THINK CONCERNING THE CHURCH OF ROME.

But more particularly as to “ the church of Rome :” (for so we call them that, professing to hold the Christian faith, are united in subjection and obedience unto that see, and do acknowledge the pope their universal pastor :) when we call them “a church,” we mean no more than that they are a society or company of men who make profession that they are Christians. Thus the Laodiceans are called “a church," (Rev. iii. 14,) though they were “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked,” and we do not read of a sound part amongst them. (Verse 17.) Thus God himself calls the ten tribes his people, after their defection, by reason of circumcision, which they yet retained, and their being the offspring of Jacob. (Hosea iv. 6.) In this sense, soundness of faith is no more essential to a church, than health is to a man. And as a man that hath the plague or leprosy is still a man, though to be shunned ; so they may be thus a church, though by all means to be forsaken.

But as they themselves take a church for company of true believers joined together in communion," so they are no church, their faith being far from the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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THEIR SUCCESSION BROKEN.

As for the succession (which] they so much stand upon, and a lawful ministry, only to be found amongst them: no church in the Christian world hath ever had so many interruptions, sufficient to destroy, according to their own principles, the lawfulness of their ministry. How many schisms have there been in that church ! one of which alone lasted about fifty years; in which space there was not one person in all their communion but was excommunicated by one pope or other, the right pope being ever he that had most force or fraud; not to mention the simony and heresy which some of them were so notoriously guilty of. And any of these are sufficient to break the chain of succession amongst them : for I hope that they will not allow an excommunicated person to have a power of ordination.

But beside this, they who are ordained by any amongst them, not being ordained to the work of a minister, to preach, or feed the flock of Christ, or to serve him in the holy things of his own institution, but to “sacrifice the body of Christ for the living and for the dead,”-how can they be gospel-ministers ? This certainly is not a gospel-ministration, nor hath so much as a show of it; but it is a repetition rather of the Jews' cruelty.

But, to prevent further objections and mistakes, we grant,

TWO THINGS GRANTED TO THEM.

1. That the church of Rome was a very famous church, whose " faith was spoken of throughout the whole world.(Rom. i. 8.)—(Thus the seven churches of Asia, at least some of them, were eminent and praiseworthy.) But they can challenge no privilege from what they have been ; lest the Jews themselves come in with their pretensions too, who were once the only church and people of God. There is no greater stench than that which comes from a human body when the soul is once withdrawn ; nor is there any thing more abominable, in God's account, than that church or society (call it what you will) from whom the Spirit of truth, who formerly did inform and enliven it, is departed.

2. We grant that the church of Rome had precedence before all other churches.—But I would not be mistaken ; it hath had precedence before them, but for very many centuries no superiority over them; and this precedence which they had, was only because Rome was the imperial city, and seat of the empire. And it is most likely that for this cause the epistle to the Romans was put before all the other epistles ; the place in which that church was gathered, and the persons probably of which it did consist, being more eminent and conspicuous than others. But when Constantinople came to be the seat of the emperor, and made and called New Rome, it contested for that very precedency. And to this purpose it is remarkable that the patriarchates and diocesses into which the church-government was then divided did answer to the partitions and divisions under the civil governors in that empire : which did make indeed the ladder for the bishop of Rome to climb unto this height by.

WHAT THEY FARTHER PRETEND UNTO. As for their pretensions to the pope's universal pastorship, and superiority over all churches : they had need to produce an authentic patent for it, what they have already shown making nothing for their purpose. But I shall wave any farther discourse upon that subject, because it is out of my sphere at present ; as also although we should grant the church of Rome all her pretensions, &c., yet upon supposition,

WHICH HOWSOEVER WILL NOT SERVE HER TURN.

First. That she is corrupted in her doctrine and worship; and,

Secondly. That she excludes and anathematizes all that do not join in those corruptions with her ; (both which particulars have been proved ;) we may satisfy ourselves in being parted from them, and answer all that they can say, with these two conclusions :

FOR TWO REASONS.

CONCLUSION 1. God never did require of us to join with any person or church in their sins ; much less that we should sin in order to the obtaining of salvation at his hands.—God's rule is, that we should not “ do evil that good may come of it.” (Rom. iii. 8.)

And were the cummunion with their church never so useful, yet if it cannot be had without sinning, it must not be had at all. If the terms or conditions

VOL. VI.

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of communion with them have any thing of sin in them, they had as good tell us that we should fly in the air, or count the sands on the sea-shore; and in case we did not, that then they would not receive us into their communion, or that, being in, they would cast us out. For such things as are morally impossible, (as an assent to any error, or a consent to any false worship, must needs be,) are as unreasonably required of us, as any thing that is naturally impossible could ever be. And if on this account there be a rent from them, the fault is in them that require such things at our hands ; as, being contrary to the mind and will of God, cannot be done by us. We, being innocent, nay, commendable in the forbearing of them, (as the innocent person is in the case of a divorce,) must needs be free.

Conclus. II. It is sometimes necessary to forsake a risible church. Nay, more : it may be necessary to believe and act directly contrary to the authority of the present church.—Thus the Jews were bound to believe our Saviour for to be the Messias, and to hear and obey him in all things; though they were forbidden so to do by the high priests and rulers, who, we know, determined concerning Christ that he was seducer and a blasphemer. Yet what would not the church of Rome give to have so clear and full a testimony for her definitive power in all controversies, as that Jewish church had derived unto it from God himself? (Deut. xvii. 8, 9.)

But God never parted with his sovereignty which he hath over all men ; and where his mind and will is evident, that must be a law paramount unto us, though it should be never so much gainsayed by any other. All other superiors are subordinate unto him, who is the only Lord in chief ; nay, “ King of kings, and Lord of lords.” (Rev. xix. 16.) And as those soldiers do but their duty, who, out of a sense of their sworn allegiance to their prince, will not join with their commander in the betraying of a fort or town; so if we dare not betray the truths of God nor the souls of men unto the will of any whomsoever, we doubt not but that God does approve of our fidelity unto him, and will say unto us at the last, “Well done, good and faithful servants.” (Matt. xxv. 21.)

And thus I have gone through some of those many things which we have to plead for our separated condition from the church of Rome, whom we have so long, so undeservedly, suffered under. But though they have nothing for us but execrations and curses, fire and faggot, yet let us return our bitterest lamentations over them, and heartiest prayers for them. It is a lamentation, and shall be for a lamentation, that so many millions of precious souls are walking in paths which lead to “ the chambers of death.” (Prov. vii. 27.) O that we could pluck them as “brands ” out of “everlasting burnings !” (Zech. iii. 2; Isai. xxxiii. 14.) One means only I would caution against ; namely, our becoming theirs in hope to make them ours. I might observe how God hath blasted all such endeavours ; and that they have more strengthened their hands and weakened ours, than all the weapons or arguments that ever were used by them: and, above all, God hath expressly commanded us to “ out of her,” and not to “partake of her sins.” (Rev. xvii. 4.) But if, by our careful and faithful instructing, our meek, charitable, and holy living, we can gain any of them, we “shall hide a multitude of sins," and our “labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.” (James v. 20 ; 1 Cor. xv. 58.)

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APPLICATION. In the mean time, if we should suffer still by them for well-doing, the text affords us considerations enough to sweeten such a suffering condition unto us.

THREE CONSOLATORY INFERENCES.

1. In that it is but from men.—“When men shall hate you.” Now we know [that] there is a nil ultra, an “utmost " that men can do: it is but to the body, and it is but in this world. (Matt. x. 28.)

2. It is " for the Son of man's sakethat we thus suffer.And if he had required greater matters of us, would we not have done them? I am sure that he hath deserved them at our hands. Besides, these do turn for a testimony unto us of the truth of his doctrine, whose words we find so exactly fulfilled amongst us unto this day ; not to speak of the consolation which shall abound“ by Christ” in all them in whom “the sufferings of Christ do abound.” (2 Cor. i. 5.)

3. Christ hath pronounced such sufferers blessed.—“Blessed are ye.”

(1.) It is Christ's judgment on our case and condition.—And he, we may truly say then, sees not as man sees. What blessedness in the opinion of men can there be to be hated, separated, reproached ? &c. But,

(2.) It is not a bare opinion (though his could not be erroneous) that we are blessed, but it is Christ's effective sentence.—His dicere is facere : Christ doth “make” them blessed whom he “pronounces” to be so; and he can make a blessed persecution. If he bless, who can curse ? (Num. xxii. 8.) Or if they do, he can turn their cursings into blessings. Well may we then conclude with the prayer of the Psalmist :

Lord, let them curse, but bless thou.” (Psalm cix. 28.)

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THE LORD JESUS, WHO IS THE ONLY FOUNDATION OF HIS CHURCH, IS THE PRE

SERVER OF ITS DURATION, IN SOME MEASURE, VISIBLY THROUGHOUT ALL
AGES.

THE VISIBILITY OF THE TRUE CHURCH.

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will

build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

-Matthew xvi. 18.

Our blessed Lord, being within the territories of Cæsarea Philippi, (near Lebanon and the fountains of Jordan, where Philip, the tetrarch of Ituræa and Trachonitis, had his royal seat or throne,) was pleased to put two questions to his disciples :

1. Whom did men commonly suppose him to be ?
2. Whom more especially did they judge and acknowledge him ?

To this demand Peter, “ in the name of the rest,” * (for our Lord propounded the question to them all,) replies, and confesses him to be the true Messiah, the Son of the living God.

Upon this glorious confession, our Lord and Saviour,
1. Pronounces a heavenly blessing to Peter ; (verse 17 ;)

2. Acquaints him and the rest present, that upon Himself, whom he had confessed to be the Son of the living God, not only Peter, but his whole church, should be firmly built. (Verse 18.)

3. He makes a promise, to him and the rest, of ministerial power ; (verse 19 ;) which he performed unto all, when he breathed on them the Holy Ghost. (John xx. 22, 23.)

In the eighteenth verse, beside the preface, “And I say also unto thee,” we have three principal parts :

1. Encomium Petri, or “a laudatory testimony, bestowed upon Peter,” and, in him, upon all of whom he had demanded answer : “ Thou art Peter,” &c. In which our Lord does not now first give him that name : for that was done before, in John i. 42; where our Lord told him, that thenceforth he should“ be called Cephas or Peter, which is by interpretation, A stone; as God of old had declared concerning the name of Abraham and Israel ; (Gen. xvii. 5 : xxxii. 28 ;) and as Elizabeth, about the name of her son John. (Luke i. 60.) In this denomination of Peter, there is a manifest allusion to the following words, by an elegant paronomasia or σαρασημείωσις: 1

“ Thou art Peter ; whom I have formerly Petrus ex persond omnium apostolorum, &c.-Hieronymus in loc. tom. is. p. 30. + Glassii Rhet. tract. ii. cap. 2. An elegant play upon words, or significant allusiou." --Edit.

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