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telleth us of the natural incapacity of mortal man, to be such an universal governor through the world. (4.) It is to sin against long, and dreadful common experience, and to keep in that fire that hath destroyed emperors, kings, and kingdoms, and set the church's pastors and Christian world in those divisions, which are the great and serviceable work of satan, and the impediment of the church's increase, purity, and peace, and the notorious shame of the Christian profession in the eyes of the infidel world. And if so many hundred years sad experience, will not answer them that say, ' If the pope were a good man, he might unite us all;' I conclude that such deserve to be deceived q.
Quest, Xxviii. Who is the judge of controversies in the church?1. About the exposition of the Scripture, and doctrinal points in themselves. 2. About either heresies, or wicked practices, as they are charged on the persons who are accused of them; that is, 1. Antecedently to our practice, byway of regulation. 2. Or consequentially, by judicial sentence (and execution) on offenders. I have answered this question so oft, that I can persuade myself to no more than this short, yet clear solution. The Papists used to cheat poor, unlearned persons that cannot justly discern things that differ, by puzzling them with this confused, ambiguous question. Some things they cunningly and falsely take for granted, As that there is such a thing on earth, as a political, universal church, headed by any mortal governor. Some things they shuffle together in equivocal words. They confound, 1. Public judgment of decision, and private judgment of discerning. 2. The magistrate's judgment of church-controversies, and the pastor's, and the several cases, and ends, and effects of their several judgments. 3. Church-judgment as directive to a particular church, and as a means of the concord of several churches. Which being but distinguished, a few words will serve to clear the difficulty. 1. As there is no universal human church (constituted i 2 Thess. ii. 10— 12.
or governed by a mortal head) so there is no power set up by Christ to be an universal judge of either sort of controversies, by decisive judicial sentence; nor any universal civil monarch of the world. 2. The public, governing, decisive judgment, obliging others, belongeth to public persons, or officers of God, and not to any private man. 3. The public decision of doubts or controversies about faith itself, or the true sense of God's Word and laws, as obliging the whole church on earth to believe that decision, or not gainsay it, because of the infallibility or governing authority of the deciders, belongeth to no one but Jesus Christ; because as is said, he hath made no universal governor, nor infallible expositorr. It belongeth to the lawgiver only to make such an universally obliging exposition of his own laws. 4. True bishops or pastors in their own particular churches are authorised teachers and guides, in expounding the laws and Word of Christ; and the people are bound as learners to reverence their teaching, and not contradict it without true cause; yea, and to believe them 'fide humana,' in things pertinent to their office: for 'oportet discentem credere.' 5. No such pastors are to be absolutely believed, nor in any case of notorious error or heresy, where the Word of God is discerned to be against them. 6. For all the people as reasonable creatures, have a judgment of private discerning to judge what they must receive as truth, and to discern their own duty, by the help of the Word of God, and of their teachers. 7. The same power of governing-judgment lawful synods have over their several flocks, as a pastor over his own, but with greater advantage. 8. The power of judging in many consociate churches, who is to be taken into communion as orthodox, and who to be refused by those churches as heretics, 'in specie,' that is, what doctrine they will judge sound or unsound, as it is 'judicium discernendi;' belongeth to every one of the council singly: as it is a judgment obliging themselves by contract, (and not of governing each other) it is in the con'See my •• Key for Catholics." tracters and consenters: and for peace and order usually in the major vote; but with the limitations before expressed. 9. Every true Christian believeth all the essentials of Christianity, with a divine faith, and not by a mere human belief of his teachers, though by their help and teaching his faith is generated, and confirmed, and preserved. Therefore no essential article of Christianity is left to any obliging decision of any church, but only to a subservient obliging teaching: as whether there be a God, a Christ, a heaven, a hell, an immortality of souls; whether God be to be believed, loved, feared, obeyed before man? Whether the Scripture be God's Word, and true? Whether those that contradict it are to be believed therein? Whether pastors, assemblies, public worship, baptism, sacrament of the Lord's supper, be Divine institutions? And the same I may say of any known Word of God: no mortals may judge 'in partem utramlibet,' but the pastors are only authorized teachers and helpers of the people's faith. (And so they be partly to one another.) 10. If the pope or his council, were the infallible, or the governing expositors of all God's laws and Scriptures, 1. God would have enabled them to do it by an universal commentary which all men should be obliged to believe, or at least not to contradict. For there is no authority and obligation given to men (yea, to so many successively) to do that (for the needful decision of controversies) which they never have ability given them to do. For that were to oblige them to things impossible. 2. And the pope and his council would be the most treacherous miscreants on earth, that in so many hundred years, would never write such an infallible, nor governing commentary, to end the differences of the Christian world. Indeed they have judged (with others) against Arius, that Christ is true God, and one with the Father in substance, &c. But if they had said the contrary, must we have taken it for God's truth, or have believed them?11. To judge, who for heresy or scandal, shall be punished by the sword, belongeth to none but the magistrate in his own dominions: as to judge who shall have communion or be excommunicated from the church, belongeth, as aforesaid, to the pastors. And the said magistrate hath first as a man his own judgment of discerning what is heresy, and who of his subjects are guilty of it, in order to his public governing judgment. 12. The civil, supreme ruler may antecedently exercise this judgment of discerning (by the teaching of their proper teachers) in order to his consequent sentences on offenders: and so in his laws may tell the subjects, what doctrines and practices he will either tolerate or punish. And thus may the church pastors do in their canons to their several flocks, in relation to communion or non-communion. 13. He that will condemn particular persons as heretics or offenders, must allow them to speak for themselves, and hear the proofs, and give them that which justice requireth, &.c. And if the pope can do so at the antipodes, and in all the world either ' per se,' or 'per alium' without giving that other his essential claimed power, let him prove it by better experience than we have had. 14. As the prime and sole universal legislation belongeth to Jesus Christ, so the final judgment, universal and particular, belongeth to him, which only will end all controversies and from which there is no appeal. Quest, xxix. Whether a parent's power over his children, or a pastor, or many pastors or bishops over the same children, as parts of their flock, be greater, or more obliging in matters of religion and public worship?This being touched on somewhere else, I only now say, 1. That if the case were my own, I would (1.) Labour to know their different powers, as to the matter commanded, and obey each in that which is proper to its place. (2.) If I were young and ignorant, natural necessity, and natural obligation together, would give my parents with whom I lived such an advantage above the minister (whom I seldom see or understand) as would determine the case ' de eventu,' and much ' de jure.' (3.) If my parents command me to hear a teacher who is against ceremonies or certain forms, and to hear none that are for them, natural necessity here also (ordinarily) would make it my duty first to hear and obey my parents; and in many other cases, till I came to understand the greater power of the pastors, in their own place and work. (4.) But when I come to church, to know that the judgment of all concordant godly pastors, condemneth such a thing as damnable heresy or sin, which my father command- eth me to receive and profess, I would more believe and follow the judgment of the pastors and churches.
Quest, xxx. May an office teacher or pastor be at once, in a stated relation of a pastor and a disciple to some other pastor?1. That Timothy was still Paul's son in point of learning, and his disciple, and so that under apostles the same persons might be stated in both relations at once, seemeth evident in Scripture. 2. But the same that is a pastor is not at once a mere layman. 3. That men in the same office may so differ in age, experience, and degrees of knowledge, as that young pastors may, and often ought, many years to continue, not only in occasional reception of their help, but also in an ordinary stated way of receiving it, and so be related to them as their ordinary teachers, by such gradual advantages is past all doubt. And that all juniors and novices owe a certain reverence and audience, and some obedience to the elder and wiser. 4. But this is not to be a disciple to him as in lower order or office, but as of lower gifts and grace. 5. It is lawful and very good for the church, that some ordained persons continue long as pupils to their tutors in schools or academies, (e. g. to learn the holy languages, if they have them not, &c.) But this is a relation left to voluntary contractors. 6. In the ancient churches the particular churches had one bishop and some presbyters and deacons, usually of much lower parts, who lived all together (single or chaste) in the bishop's or church house, which was as a college, where he daily edified them by doctrine and example. 7. The controversy about different orders by Divine institution, belongeth not to me here to meddle with: but as