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office in any part of the church, where he shall be truly called to it; yet every pastor hath a special obligation (and consequently a special power) to do it over the flock, of which he hath received the special charge and oversight. 14. The Lord's day is separated by God's appointment for the churches' ordinary holy communion in God's worship under the conduct of these their guides. 15. And it is requisite that the several particular churches do maintain as much agreement among themselves, as their capacity will allow them; and keep due synods and correspondences to that end. Thus much of God's worship, and church order and government at least is of divine institution, and determined by Scripture, and not left to the will or liberty of man. Thus far the form of government (at least) is of divine right. But on the contrary, 1. About doctrine and worship; the Scripture is no law in any of these following cases, but hath left them undetermined. (1.) There are many natural truths, which the Scripture meddleth not with: as physics, metaphysics, logic, &c. (2.) Scripture telleth not a minister what particular text or subject he shall preach on this day or that . (3.) Nor what method his text or subject shall be opened and handled in. (4.) Nor what day of the week besides the Lord's day he shall preach, nor what hour on the Lord's day he shall begin. (5.) Nor in what particular place the church shall meet. (6.) Nor what particular sins we shall most confess: nor what personal mercies we shall at this present time, first ask: nor for what we shall now most copiously give thanks: for special occasions must determine all these. (7.) Nor what particular chapter we shall now read: nor what particular psalm we shall now sing. (8.) Nor what particular translation of the Scripture or version of the psalms we shall now use. Nor into what sections to distribute the Scripture, as we do by chapters and verses. Nor whether the Bible shall be printed or written, or in what characters, or how bound. (9.) Nor just by what sign I shall express my consent to the truths or duties which I am called to express consent to (besides the sacraments and ordinary words). (10.) Nor whether I shall use written notes to help my memory in preaching, or preach without. (11.) Nor whether I shall use a writing or book in prayer or pray without. (12.) Nor whether I shall use the same words in preaching and prayer, or various new expressions. (13.) Nor what utensils in holy administrations I shall use; as a temple or an ordinary house, a pulpit, a font, a table, cups, cushions, and many such, which belong to the several parts of worship. (14.) Nor in what particular gesture we shall preach, or read, or hear. (15.) Nor what particular garments ministers or people shall wear in time of worship. (16.) Nor what natural or artificial helps to our natural faculties we shall use: as medicaments for the voice, tunes, musical instruments, spectacles, hour-glasses: these and such like are undetermined in Scripture and are left to be determined by human prudence, not as men please; but as means in order to the proper end, according to the general laws of Christ q. For Scripture is a general law for all such circumstances, but not a particular law. So also for order and government, Scripture hath not particularly determined, 1. What individual persons shall be the pastors of the church. 2. Or of just how many persons the congregation shall consist. 3. Or how the pastors shall divide their work where there are many. 4. Nor how many every church shall have. 5. Nor what particular people shall be a pastor's special charge. 6. Nor what individual persons he shall baptize, receive to communion, admonish, or absolve, 7. Nor in what words most of these shall be expressed. 8. Nor what number of pastors shall meet in synods, for the communion and agreement of several churches, nor how oft, nor at what time or place, nor what particular order shall be among them in their consultations; with many such like. When you thus understand how far Scripture is a law to you in the worship of God, it will be the greatest Direction to you, to keep you both from disobeying God and your superiors: that you may neither pretend obedience to man for your disobedience to God, nor pretend obedience to God against your due obedience to your governors, as those will do that think Scripture is a more particular rule than ever i Of which I hare spoke more fully in my Disput. v. of Church Government. p. 400. Si c. unalterable, (during this world) and some that are local, particular or temporary only.
Christ intended it: and it will prevent abundance of unnecessary scruples, contentions, and divisions.
Direct, xn. 'Observe well in Scripture the difference between Christ's universal laws, (which bind all his subjects in all times and places,) and those that are but local, personal or alterable laws: lest you think that you are bound to all that ever God bound any others to.' The universal laws and unalterable are those which result from the foundation of the universal and unalterable nature of persons and things, and those which God hath supernaturally revealed as suitable constantly to all. The particular, local or temporary laws are those, which either resulted from a particular or alterable nature of persons and things as mutually related (as the law of nature bound Adam's sons to marry their sisters, which bindeth others against it) or those which God supernaturally enacted only for some particular people or person, or for the time. If you should mistake all the Jewish laws for universal laws (as to persons or duration) into how many errors would it lead you? So also if you mistake every personal mandate sent by a prophet or apostle to a particular man, as obliging all, you would make a snare of it. Every man is not to abstain from vineyards and wine as the Rechabites were; nor every man to go forth to preach in the garb as Christ sent the twelve, and seventy disciples; nor every man to administer or receive the Lord's supper in an upper room of a house, in the evening, with eleven or twelve only, &c. nor every one to carry Paul's cloak and parchments, nor go up and down on the messages which some were sent on. And here (in precepts about worship) you must know what is the thing primarily intended in the command, and what it is that is but a subservient means: for many laws are universal and immutable as to the matter primarily intended, which are but local and temporary as to the matter subservient and secondarily intended. As the command of saluting one another with a holy kiss, and using love-feasts in their sacred communion primarily intended the exercising and expressing holy love by such convenient signs as were then in use, and suitable to those times; but that it be done by those particular signs, was subservient, and a local alterable law; as appeareth, 1. In that it is actually laid down by God's allowance. 2. In that in other places and Vol. v. D
times the same signs have not the same signification, and aptitude to that use at all, and therefore would be no such expression of love; or else have also some ill signification. So it was the first way of baptizing to dip them over-head; which was fit in that hot country, which in colder countries it would not be, as being destructive to health, and more against modesty; therefore it is plain that it was but a local, alterable law. The same is to be said of not eating things strangled, and blood, which was occasioned by the offence of the Jews; and other the like. This is the casein almost all precepts about the external worshipping gestures: the thing that God commanded universally is a humble, reverent adoration of him by the mind and body. Now the adoration of the mind is still the same; but the bodily expression altereth according to the custom of countries: in most countries kneeling or prostration are the expressions of greatest veneration and submission: in some few countries it is more signified by sitting with the face covered with their hands: in some it is signified best by standing: kneeling is ordinarily most fit, because it is the most common sign of humble reverence; but where it is not so, it is not fit. The same we must say of other gestures, and of habits: the women among the Corinthians were not to go uncovered because of the angelsr; and yet in some places where long hair or covering may have a contrary signification, the case may be contrary. The very fourth commandment however it was a perpetual law as to the proportion of time, yet was alterable as to the seventh day. Those which I call universal laws, some call moral; but that is no term of distinction, but signifieth the common nature of all laws, which are for the governing of our manners. Some call them natural laws, and the other positive: but the truth is, there are some laws of nature which are universal, and some that are particular, as they are the result of universal or particular nature: and there are some laws of nature that are perpetual, which are the result of an unaltered foundation: and there are some that are temporary, when it is some temporary, alterable thing in nature from whence the duty doth result: so there are some positive laws that are universal or
'1 Cor. xi. 10.
Direct, xm. 'Remember that whatever duty you seem obliged to perform, the obligation still supposeth that it is not naturally impossible to you, and therefore you are bound to do it as well as you can: and when other men's force, or your natural disability hindereth you from doing it as you would, you are not therefore disobliged from doing it at all: but the total omission is worse than the defective performance of it, as the defective performance is worse than doing it more perfectly". And in such a case the defects which are utterly involuntary are none of yours imputatively at all, but his that hindereth you (unless as some other sin might cause that,). As if I were in a country where I could have liberty to read and pray, but not to preach, or to preach only once a month and no more; it is my duty to do so much as I can do, as being much better than nothing, and not to forbear all, because I cannot do all. Object. 'But you must forbear no part of your duty?' Atisw. True: but nothing is my duty which is naturally impossible for me to do. Either I can do it, or I cannot: if I can, I must (supposing it a duty in all other respects), but if I cannot, I am not bound to it. Object. 'But it is not suffering that must deter you, for that is a carnal reason: and your suffering may do more good than your preaching.' Answ. Suffering is considerable either as a pain to the flesh, or as an irresistible hindrance of the work of the Gospel: as it is merely a pain to the flesh, I ought not to be deterred by it from the work of God; but as it forcibly hindereth me from that work, (as by imprisonment, death, cutting out the tongue, &c.) I may lawfully foresee it, and by lawful means avoid it, when it is sincerely for the work of Christ, and not for the saving of the flesh. If Paul foresaw that the preaching of one more sermon at Damascus was like to hinder his preaching any more, because the Jews watched the gates day and night to kill him, it was Paul's duty to be let down by the wall in a basket, and to escape, and preach elsewhere'. And when the Christians could not safely meet publicly, they met in
• See Mr. Truman's book of Natural and Moral Impotency.