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doubtless it may and ought to be) then also we may and ought in like case to dispense baptism, when desired, to a meet and lawful subject, be ing a member of another church. To deny or refuse either of these, would be an unjustifiable refusing of communion of churches, and tending to sinful separation.
2. Such as remove their habitation, ought orderly to covenant and subject themselves to the government of Christ in the church, where they settle their abode, and so their children to be baptized. 1. Because the regularly baptized are disciples, and under the discipline and government of Christ : But they that are absolutely removed from the church whereof they were, so as to be uncapable of being under discipline there, shall be under it no where, if not in the church where they inhabit. They that would have church-privileges, ought to be under church-power : but these will be under no church-power, but as lambs in a large place, if not under it there where their settled abode is. 2. Every christian ought to covenant for himself and his children, or professedly to give up himself and his to the Lord, and that in the way of his ordinances, Deut. xxvi. 17, and xii. 5, and explicit covenanting is a duty, especially where we are called to it, and have opportunity for it: Nor can they well be said to cov. enant implicitly, that do explicitly refuse a professed covenanting, when called thereunto.And especially this covenanting is a duty, when we would partake of such a church-privilege, as
baptism for our children is. But the parents in question will now be professed covenanters no where, if not in the church where their fixed habitation is. Therefore they ought orderly to covenant there, and so their children to be baptized. 3. To refuse covenanting and subjection to Christ's government in the church where they live, being so removed, as to be utterly uncapable of it elsewhere, would be a walking disorderly, and would too much savour of pro. faneness and separation : and hence to administer baptism to the children of such as stand in that way, would be to administer Christs ordinances to such as are in a way of sin and disorder, which ought not to be, 2 Thess. iii. 6. 1 Chron. xv. 13, and would be contrary to that rule, 1 Cor. xiv. 40. Let all things be done dea cently and in order.
Question II. WHETHER according to the word of God there ought to be a Consociation of churches, and what should be the manner of it?
Answer. The answer may be briefly given in the propositions following.
1. Every church, or particular congregation of visible saints in gospel-order, being furnished with a Presbytery, at least with a teaching elder, and walking together in truth and peace, hath received from the Lord Jesus full
power and authority ecclesiastical within itself, regu
larly to administer all the ordinances of Christ, and is not under any other ecclesiastical jurisdiction whatsoever. For to such a church Christ hath given the keys of the kingdom of heaven, that what they bind or loose on earth, shall be bound or loosed in heaven, Mat. xvi. 19, and xviii. 17, 18. Elders are ordained in every church, Acts xiv. 23. Tit. i. 5, and are therein authorized officially to administer in the word, prayer, sacraments and censures, Mat. xxviii. 19, 20. Acts vi. 4, 1 Cor. iv. 1, and v. 4, 12. Acts xx. 28. 1 Tim. v. 17, and iii. 5. The reproving of the church of Corinth, and of the Asian churches severally, imports they had power, each of them within themselves, to reform the abuses that were amongst them, 1 Cor. v. Rev. ii. xiv. xx. Hence. it follows, that consociation of churches is not to hinder the exercise of this power, but by counsel froin the word of God to direct and strengthen the same upon all just occasions.
2. The churches of Christ do stand in a sis. terly relation each to other, Cant. viii. 8, being united in the same faith and order, Eph. iv. 5. Col. ii. 5, to walk by the same rule, Phil. iii. 16, in the exercise of the same ordinances for the same ends, Eph. iv. 11, 12, 13. 1 Cor. xvi. 1, under one and the same political head, the Lord Jesus Christ, Eph. i. 22, 23, and iv. 5.Rev. ii. 1. Which union infers a communion suitable thereunto.
3. Communion of churches is the faithful improvement of the gifts of Christ bestowed
upon them for his service and glory, and their mutual good and edification, according to capacity and opportunity 1 Pet. iv. 10, 11. 1 Cor. xii. 4, 7, and x. 24. 1 Cor. iii. 21, 22. Cant. viii. 9. Rom. i. 15. Gal. vi. 10.
4, Acts of communion of churches are such as these :
1. Hearty care and prayer one for another, 2 Cor. xi. 28. Cant. viii, 8. Rom. i. 9. Colo'. i. 9. Eph. vi. 18.
2. ,To afford relief, by communication of their gifts in temporal or spiritual necessities, Rom. xv. 26, 27. Acts xi. 22, 29. 2 Cor. viii. 1, 4, 14.
-3. To maintain unity and peace, by giving account one to another of their publick actions, when it is ordely desired, Acts xi. 2, 3, 4, 18. Josh. xxii. 13, 21, 30. 1. Cor. x. 32, and to strengthen one another in their regular administrations; as in special by a concurrent testimony against persons justiy censured, Acts xv. 41, and xvi. 4, 5. 2 Tim. iv. 15. 2 Thess. ii. 14.
4. To seek and accept help from, and give help unto each other : 1. In case of divisions and contentions, where
of any church is disturbed, Acts XV, 2.
2. In matters of more than ordinary importance, Prov. xxiv. 6, and xv. 22, as ordination, translation, and deposition of elders, and such like, i Tim. v. 22.
3. In doubtful and difficult questions and controversies, doctrinal or practical, that may arise, Acts xv. 2, 6.
4. For the rectifying of mal-administrations, and healing of errors and scandals, that are unhealed among themselves, 3 John ver 9, 10.2 Cor. ii. 6, 11. 1 Cor. xv. Rev. ii. 14, 15, 16. 2 Cor. xii. 20, 21, and xiii. 2. Churches now have need of help in like cases, as well as churches then. Christ's care is still for whole churches, as well as for particular persons; and Apostles being now ceased there remains the duty of brotherlylove, and mutual care and helpfulness incumbent upon churches,especially elders for that end.
5. In love and faithfulness to take notice of the troubles and difficulties, errors and scandals of another church, and to administer help (when the case manifestly calls for it) though they should so neglect their own good and duty, as not to seek it, Exod. xxiii. 4, 5. Prov. xxiv. 11, 12
6. To admonish one another when there is need and cause for it; and after due means with patience used, to withdraw from a church or peccant party therein, obstinately persisting in error or scandal; as in the Platform of disci. pline (chap. xv. sect. ii. particular 3,) is more at large declared, Gal. ii. 11, 14. 2 Thess. iii. 6. Rom. xvi. 17.
5. Consociation of churches, is their mutual and solemn agreement to exercise communion in such acts, as aforesaid, amongst themselves, with special reference to those churches, which by providence are planted in a convenient vicinity, though with liberty reserved without offence, to make use of others, as the nature of