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because others are suffered to come that ought not: especially, considering that himself doth neither consent to their sins, nor to their approaching to the ordinance in their sin, nor to the neglect of others who should put them away, and do not; but on the contrary doth heartily mourn for these things, modestly and seasonably stir up others to do their duty. If the church cannot be reformed, they may use their liberty as is specified, chap. 13, sect. 4. But this all the godly are bound unto, even every one to do his endeavor, according to his power and place, that the unworthy may be duly proceeded against, by the church to whom this matter doth appertain.*
2 Chron. xxx. 18. Gen. xviii. 25. Ezek. ix, 4.
Of the communion of churches one with another.
1. Although churches be distinct, and therefore may not be confounded one with another; and equal, and therefore have not dominion one over another; yet all the churches ought to preserve church communion one with another, because they are all united unto Christ, not only
* This Chapter may be compared with Heads of Agreement, Chap. III. B
as a mystical, but as a political head, whence is derived a communion suitable thereunto.
Rev. i. 4. Cant. viii. 8. Rom. xvi. 16. 1 Cor. xvi. 19. Acis, 15, 23. Rev. ii. 1.
2. The communion of churches is exercised sundry ways. 1. By way of mutual care, in taking thought for one another's welfare. 2. By way of consultation one with another, when we have occasion to require the judgment and counsel of other churches, touching any person or cause wherewith they may be better acquainted than ourselves. As the church of Antioch consulted with the apostles and elders of the church at Jerusalem, about the question of circumcision of the Gentiles, and about the false teachers that broached that doctrine. In which case, when any church wanteth light or peace among themselves, it is a way of communion of churches, according to the word, to meet together by their elders and other messengers in å synod, to consider and argue the points in doubt or difference; and having found out the way of truth and peace, to commend the same by their letters and messengers to the churches whom the same may concern. But if a church be rent with divisions among themselves, or lie under any open scandal, and yet refuse to consult with other churches, for healing or removing of the same, it is matter of just offence both to the Lord Jesus and to other churches, as bewraying too much want of mercy and faithful
ness not to seek to bind up the breaches and wounds of the church and brethren: and therefore the state of such a church calleth aloud upon other churches, to exercise a fuller act of brotherly communion, to wit, by way of admonition. 3. A third way then of communion of churches, is by way of admonition; to wit, in case any public offence be found in a church, which they either discern not, or are slow in proceeding to use the means for the removing and healing of. Paul had no authority over Peter, yet when he saw Peter not walking with a right foot, he publicly rebuked him before the church. Though churches have no more authority one over another, than one apostle had over another, yet as one apostle might admonish another, so may one church admonish another, and yet without usurpation. In which case, if the church that lieth under offence, do not hearken to the church that doth admonish her, the church is to acquaint other neighbor churches with that offence which the offending church still lieth under, together with the neglect of their brotherly admonition given unto them; whereupon those other churches are to join in seconding the admonition formerly given ; and if still the offending church continue in obstinacy and impenitency, they may forbear communion with them, and are to proceed make use of the help of a synod, or council of neighbor churches walking orderly (if a great
er cannot conveniently be had) for their conviction. If they hear not the synod, the synod having declared them to be obstinate, particular churches approving and accepting the judge ment of the synod, are to declare the sentence of non-communion respectively concerning them; and thereupon, out of religious care to keep their own communion pure, they may justly withdraw themselves from participation with them at the Lord's table, and from such other acts of holy communion as the communion of churches doth otherwise allow and require.* Nevertheless, if any members of such a church as liveth under public offence, do not consent to the offence of the church, but do in due sort bear witness against it, they are still to be received to wonted communion; for it is not equal that the innocent should suffer with the offensive. Yea, furthermore, if such innocent members after due waiting in the use of all good means for the healing of the offence of their own church, shall at last, with the allowance of the council of neighbor churches, withdraw from the fellowship of their own church, and offer themselves to the fellowship of another, we judge it lawful for the other church to receive them (being otherwise fit) as if they had been orderly dismissed to them from their own church. 4. A fourth way of communion of churches is by way of participation. The members of one
* Compare Saybrook Platform, Art. VI. B.
church occasionally coming to another, we willingly admit them to partake with us at the Lord's table, it being the seal of our communion, not only with Christ, nor only with the members of our own church, but also of all the churches of the saints ; in which regard, we refuse not to baptize their children presented to us, if either their own minister be absent, or such a fruit of holy fellowship be desired with us. In like case such churches as are furnished with more ministers than one, do willingly afford one of their own ministers to supply the place of an absent or sick minister of another church for a needful season.
5. A fifth way of church communion is by way of recommendation, when the member of one church hath occasion to reside in another church, if but for a season, we commend him to their watchful fellowship by letters of recommendation, but if he be called to settle his abode there, we commit him according to his desire to the fellowship of their covenant, by letters of dismission. 6. A sixth way of church communion is, in case of need, to minister relief and succor one unto another, either of able members, to furnish them with officers, or of outward support, to the necessities of poorer churches, as did the churches of the Gentiles contribute liberally to the poor saints at Jerusalem.
Cant. viü. 8." Acts, xv. 2, e, 22, 28. Ezk. xxxiv. 4.