« PrécédentContinuer »
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 succour one unto another, either of able members to furnish them with officers,or of out. ward support to the necessities of poorer churches, as did the churches of the Gentiles contribute lib. erally to the poor saints at Jerusalem. Cant. viii. 8. Acts xv. 2, 6, 22, 23. Ezek. xxxiv. 4. Gal. ii. 11 to 14. Mat. xviii. 15, 16, 17. by propor'tion. Gen. xviii. 25. 1 Cor. xi. 13. Rom. xvi. L. Acts xviii. 27. and xi. 22, 29. Rom. xii. 26, 27.
3. When a company of believers purpose to gather into a church fellowship it is requisite for their safer proceeding and the maintaining the communion of churches, that they signify their intent unto the neighbour churches, walking according unto the order of the gospel, and desire their presence, and help, and right hand of fellowship, which they ought readily to give unto them when there is no just cause to except against their proceedings. Gal
. 1, 2, and 9, by proportion. 4. Besides the several ways of communion, there is also a way of propagation of churches when a church shall grow too numerous, it is a way and fit season to propagate one church out of another, by sending forth such of their members as are willing to remove, and to procure some officers to them as may enter with them into church estate amongst themselves. As bees, when the hive is too full,
Special respect unto such; yet inasmuch as not only Paul and Barnabas, but certain others also were sent to Jerusalem, from Antioch, and when they were come to Jerusalem not only the apostles and elders, but other brethren also do assemble and meet about the matter ; therefore synods are to consist both of elders and other church members endued with gifts and sent by the churches, not excluding the presence of any brethren in the churchesa Acts xv. 2, 22, 23.
Of the civil magistrate's power in matters eccle
siastical. Iris lawful, profitable, and necessary for christians to gather themselves together into church estate, and therein to exercise all the ordinances of Christ, according unto the word, although the consent of the magistrate could not be had thereunto; because the apostles and christians in their time, did. frequently thus practise, when the magistrates being all of them Jewish or Pagan and most persecuting enemies would give no countenance or consent to such matters. Acts ii. 41, 47. and iv. 1, 2, 3,
2. Church government stands in no opposition to civil government of commonwealths, nor any way intrencheth upon the authority of civil magistrates in their jurisdiction ; nor any whit weaken. 'eth their hands in governing, but rather strength eneth them, furthereth the people in yielding more hearty and conscionable obedience unto them, whatsoever some ill affected persons to the ways of Christ have suggested, to alienate the affection of
kings and princes from the ordinances of Christ; as if the kingdom of Christ in his church could not rise and stand without the falling and weakening of their government, which is also of Christ; whereas the contrary is most true, that they may both stand together and flourish, the one being helpful unto the other in their distinct and due administrations, John xviii. 36. Acts xxv. 8. Isa. xlix. 23.
3. The power and authority of magistrates is not for the restraining of churches or any other good works, but for lielping in and furthering thereof: and therefore the consent and countenance of magistrates, when it may be had, is not to be slighted or lightly esteemed; but on the contrary it is part of that honour due to christian magistrates to desire and crave their consent and approbation there. in, which being obtained, the churches may then proceed in their way with more encouragement and comfort. Rom. xiii. 4. 1 Tim. ii. 2.
4. It is not in the power of magistrates to compel their subjects to become church members, and to partake at the Lord's table ; for the priests are reproved that brought unworthy ones into the sanctuary: Then as it was unlawful for the priest, so it is as unlawful to be done by civil magistrates, those whom the church is to cast out if they were in; the magistrate ought not to thrust them into the church, nor to hold them therein. Ezek. xliv. 7, 9. 1 Cor. v. 11.
5. As it is unlawful for church officers to med. dle with the sword of the magistrates, so it is unlawful for the magistrate to meddle with the work proper to church officers. The acts of Moses and David, who were not only princes but prophets, were extraordinary, therefore not imitable. A. gainst such usurpation, the Lord witnessed by
śmiting Uzziah with leprosy for presuming to offer incense. Mat. ïi. 25, 26. 2 Chron. xxvi. 16, 17.
6. It is the duty of the magistrate to take care of matters of religion, and to improve his civil authority for the observing of the duties commanded in the first, as well as for observing of the duties commanded in the second table. They are called Gods. The end of the magistrate's office is not only the quiet and peaceable life of the subject in matters of righteousness and honesty, but also in matters of godliness, yea, of all godliness. Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, Asa, Tehosaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, are much commended by the Holy Ghost for the putting forth their authority in matters of religion: On the contrary, such kings as have been failing this way, are frequently taxed and reproved by the Lord. And not only the kings of Judah, but also Job, Nehemiah, the king of Nineveh, Darius, Artaxerxes, Nebuchadnezzar, whom none looked at as types of Christ, (though were it so, they were no place for any just objection) are commended in the book of God, for exercising their authority this way. Psal. lxxxii. 8. 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2. 1 Kings xv. 14. and xxii. 43. 2 Kings xii. 3. and xiv. 4. and xv. 35. 1 King's xx. 42. Job xxix. 25. and xxxi. 26, 28. Neh. xiii. Jókn üi. 7. Ezra vii. Dan. iii. 29.
7. The objects of the power of the magistrate are not things merely inward, and so not subject to his cognizance and view, as unbelief, hardness of heart, erroneous opinions not vented, but only such things as are acted by the outward man; neither is their power to be exercised in commanding such acts of the outward man, and punishing the neglect thereof, as are but mere inventions and devices of men, but about such acts as are commanded and
forbidden in the word; yea, such as the word doth, clearly determine, though not always clearly to the judgment of the magistrate or others, yet clearly in itself. In these he of right ought to put forth his authority, though oft-times actually he doth it no 1 Kings xx. 28, 42.
8. Idolatry, blasphemy, heresy, venting corrupt and pernicious opinions that destroy the foundation, open contempt of the word preached, profanation of the Lord's day, disturbing the peaceable administration and exercise of the worship and holy things of God and the like, are to be restrained and punished by civil authority. Deut. xiii. i Kings xx. 28, 42. Dan. iii. 29. Zech. xiii. 3. Neh. xiii. 31. 1 Tim. ii. 2. Rom. xiii. 4.
9. If any church, one or more shall grow schismatical, rending itself from the communion of other churches, or shall walk incorrigibly or obstinately in any corrupt way of their own, contrary to the rule of the word; in such case the magistrate is to put forth his coercive power as the matter , shall require.
The tribes on this side Jordan intended to make war against the other tribes for, building the altar of witness, whom they suspected to have turned away therein from following of the LORD. Josh, xxii.