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to eat and drink with him, that he may be ashamed. Mat. xviii. 17. 1 Cor. v. 11. 2 Thess. iii. 6, 14.
6. Excommunication being a spiritual punishment, it doth not prejudice the excommunicate in nor deprive him of his civil rights, and therefore toucheth not princes or other magistrates in point of their civil dignity or authority, and the excominunicate being but as a publican and a heathen, (heathens being lawfully permitted to come to hear the word in church assemblies) we acknowledge therefore the like liberty of hearing the word may be permitted to persons excommunicate, that is permitted unto heathen. And because we are not without hope of his recovery, we are not to account him as an enemy but to admonish him as a brother. 1 Cor. xiv. 24, 25. 2 Thess. iii. 14.
7. If the Lord sanctify the censure to the offender, so as by the grace of Christ he doth testify his repentance with humble confession of his sins, and judging of himself, giving glory unto God, the church is then to forgive him and to comfort him, and to restore him to the wonted brotherly communion which formerly he enjoyed with them. 2 Cor. ii. 7, 8.
8. The suffering of the profane or scandalous livers to continue in fellowship and partake in the sacraments is doubtless a great sin in those that have power in their hands to redress it and do it not: Nevertheless, inasmuch as Christ and his apostles in their times, and the prophets and other godly in theirs, did lawfully partake of the Lord's commanded ordinances in the Jewish church, and neither taught nor practised separation from the same, though unworthy ones were permitted therein, and inasmuch as the faithful in the church of Corinth, wherein were many unworthy persons and practi.
ces,are never commanded to absent themselves from the sacraments because of the same ; therefore the godly in like cases are not presently to separate. Rev. ii. 14, 15, 20. Mat. xxii. 3. Acts iii. 1. 1 Cor, vi. and xv. 12.
9. As separation from such a church wherein profane and scandalous persons are tolerated is not presently necessary ; so for the members thereof, otherwise unworthy, hereupon to abstain from communicating with such a church in the participation of the sacraments is unlawful.. For as it were unreasonable for an innocent person to be punished for the faults of others, wherein he hath no hand, and whereunto he gave no consent, so it is more unreasonable that a godly man should neglect duty and punish himself, in not coming for his
portion in the blessings of the seals as he ought, 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 ordį. nance 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. ALTHOUGH churches be distinct and therefore may not be confounded one with another, and equal, and therefore have no 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 as a mystical but as a political head, whence is derived a communion suit. able thereunto. Rev. i. 4. Cant. vii. 8. Rom. xvi. 16. 1 Cor. xvi. 19. Acts xv. 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 oc. casion 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 at Antioch consulted with 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 amongst themselves, it is a way of communion of churches, according to the word to meet together, by their elders and other messengers in a 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 letter and messengers to the churches whom the same may concern. But if a church be rent with divi. sions 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 faithfulness, not to seek to bind up the breach. es 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 of communion of churches is by way of admonition, to wit, in case any public offence be found in a church, which either discern not or are slow in proceeding to use means for the removing and healing thereof. Paul had no authority over Peter, yet when he saw Peter not walking with a right: foot he publickly rebuked him before the churchi 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 neighbour 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 them; and if still the offending church continue in obstinacy and impenitency they may for.. bear communion with them, and are to proceed to make use of the help of a synod, or council of neighbour churches walking orderly (if a greater cannot conveniently be had) for their conviction. If they hear not the synod, the synod having declared them too obstinate, particular churches approving and accepting the judgment of the synod, are to de
elare the sentence of non-communion respectively concerning them; and thereupon, out of religious care to keep their own communion pure, they must 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 live 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 communication; 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 neighbour 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 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 churches, but also of all the churches of the saints; in which regard we refuse not to baptize their children presented. tomus, 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 min. ister of another church for a needful season. 5. A