Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and yet with these words in their mouths, do either give Christ's officers' work to others, or hinder and oppress his officers themselves, and by their new church-forms undermine or openly destroy the old, by this expression of their enmity they confute themselves. 18. This hath been the unhappy case of the Roman frame of church innovations, as you may observe in the particulars of its degeneracy. (1.) Councils were called general or ecumenical in respect to one empire only: and they thence grew to extend the name to the whole world: when they may as well say, that Constantine, Martian, &c., were emperors of the whole world, seeing by their authority they were called. (2.) These councils at first were the emperor's councils called to direct him what to settle in church orders by his own power; but they were turned to claim an imposing authority of their own to command the churches as by commission from God. (3.) These councils at first, were only for counsel, or for agreement by way of contract or mutual consent to the particular bishops: but they degenerated into a form of government, and claimed a ruling or commanding power. (4.) The patriarchs, primates and metropolitans, at first claimed but a power about circumstantials extrinsical to the pastoral office, such as is the timing and placing of councils, the sitting above others, &c. And the exercise of some part of the magistrate's power committed to them, that is, the deposing of other bishops or pastors from their station of such liberty and countenance as the magistrate may grant or deny as there is cause. But in time they degenerated to claim the spiritual power of the keys, over the other bishops, in point of ordination, excommunication, absolution. (5.) These patriarchs, primates and metropolitans at first claimed their extrinsic power but from man, that is, either the consent and agreement of the churches, or the grant of the emperors: but in time they grew to claim it as of Divine or apostolical appointment, and as unalterable. (6.) Atfirst they were taken only for adjuncts, ornaments, supports or conveniences to the churches: but afterwards they pretended to be integral parts of the church universal, and at last the pope would needs be an essential part; and his cardinals must claim the power of the church universal in being the choosers of an universal head, or a king-priest and teacher for all the Christians of the world. (7.) At first laymen (now called chancellors, &c.) were only the bishops' counsellers, or officers to the magistrate or them, in performing the extrinsical work about church adjuncts, which a layman might do: but at last they came to exercise the intrinsic power of the keys in excommunications and absolutions, &c. (8.) At first a number of particular churches consociated with their several bishops, were taken to be a community or company of true churches prudentially cantonized or distributed and consociated for concord: but after they grew to be esteemed proper political societies, or churches of Divine appointment, if not the 'Ecclesia minima,' having turned the particular churches into oratories or chapels, destroying Ignatius's character of one church, 'To every church there is one altar, and one bishop with his presbyters and deacons.' Abundance more such instances may be given. Object. Wherever we find the notion of a church particular, there must be government in that church: and why a national society incorporated into one civil government, joining into the profession of Christianity, and having a right thereby to participate of Gospel ordinances, in the convenient distributions of them in the particular congregations, should not be called a church, I confess I can see no reason.

Answ. 1. Here observe, that the question is only of the name, (whether it may be called a church,) and not of the thing (whether all the churches in a kingdom may be under one king, which no sober man denieth). 2. Names are at men's disposal much: but I confess I had rather the name had been used no otherwise, or for no other societies than Scripture useth it. My reasons are, (1.) Because when Christ hath appropriated or specially applied one name to the sacred societies of his institution, itseemeth somewhat bold to make that name common to other societies. (2.) Because it tendeth to confusion, misunderstanding, and to cherish errors and controversies in the churches, when all names shall be made common or ambiguous, and holy things shall not be allowed any name proper to themselves, nor any thing can be known by a bare name without a description. If the name of Christ himself should be used of every anointed king, it would seem not a little thus injurious to him. If the name, 'Bible,' 'Scripture,' 'Preachers,' &c., be made common to all that the notation of the names may extend to, it will introduce the aforesaid inconveniences; so how shall we in common talk distinguish, between sacred societies of Divine institution and of human, if you will allow us no peculiar name, but make that common which Christ hath chosen?3. And that the name is here used equivocally is manifest. For the body political is informed and denominated from the' pars imperans/ the governing part or head: therefore as a head of Divine institution, authorized for the spiritual or pastoral work, denominateth the society accordingly; so a civil head can make but a civil society, and a head of man's making, but a human society. It is certain that Christ hath appointed the episcopal or pastoral office, and their work, and consequently episcopal or pastoral churches; and it is certain that a king is no constitutive part of one of these churches, but accidental; and therefore that he is an accidental head to a pastoral church as such, to which the pastor is essential. Therefore if you will needs call both these societies 'churches', you must distinguish them into pastoral churches, and regal churches, or magistratical churches; for the word ' national,' notifieth not the government which is the constitutive part; and may be used of consociated churches, though under many civil governors (as in the Saxon Heptarchy). So that our question is much like this,' Whether all the grammar schools in England as under one king may be called one national school?' Answ. Not without unfitness, and inconveniencies: but rather than breed any quarrel, they may call them so that please : but 1. They must confess that a particular school is the 'famosius significatum.' 2. That the king is king of schools, but not a schoolmaster, nor a constitutive part of a school. 3. That if you will needs denominate them from the regent part, as one, you must call them all one royal school, if you will leave the well-known sense of words for such uncouth phrases. But give us leave to call the body which is essentiated by a king, by the name of a kingdom only, though it have in it many schools, academies, colleges, cities, churches, which they that please may call one royal school, academy, college, city and church, if they love confusion. 4. Christianity giveth men right to communion in particular churches, when they also make known their Christianity to the bishops of those churches, and are received (as stated or transient) members by mutual consent; but not otherwise: nor doth mere regal government, give any subject right to church communion, except by a church you mean a kingdom. Object. 'A particular church then I would describe thus, It is a society of men joined together in the visible profession of the true faith, having a right to, and enjoying among them, the ordinances of the Gospel.' Answ. 1. When you tell us by your description what you will mean by ' a particular church,' we may understand your denomination: but yet while it is unusual, you must not expect that other men so use the word. Had you called your description a definition, I would have asked you, 1. Whether by ' a society' you mean not strictly a political society constituted by a 'Pars gubernans, et gubernata?' If not, it is no church save equivocally. If so, should not the ' Pars regens' which is constitutive have been put in? If private men join together, &c., it makes but a community. 2. A right to Gospel ordinances is supposed, but need not be in the definition. 3. The enjoying of them, is not essential to a church. The relation may continue, when the enjoyment is a long time hindered. 4. 'Among them'is a very ambiguous word: is it among them in the same place; or in the same country or kingdom; or in the same world \ If you difference and define them not, by relation to the same bishops or pastors, and by intended personal holy communion, your description confoundeth the universal church, as well as the national, with a particular church; for the whole Christian world, is 'a society of men joining together in the visible profession of the true faith, having a right to, and enjoying among them the ordinances of the Gospel.' Object. 'A nation joining in the profession of Christianity is a true church of God; whence it evidently followeth, that there must be a form of ecclesiastical government over a nation as a church, as well as of civil government over it, as a society governed by the same laws. For every society must have its government belonging to it as such a society: and the same reason that makes government necessary in any particular congregation, will make it necessary for all the particular congregations, joining together in one visible society, as a particular national church, for the unity and peace of that church, ought much more to be looked after than of any one particular congregation, &c

Atisw. 1. From one absurdity many follow: our controversy before was but of the name: if an accidental royal or civil head may equivocally denominate an ecclesiastical society, and we grant you the use of an equivocal name (or rather the abuse) you will grow too hard upon us, if thence you will gather a necessity of a real ecclesiastical policy, besides the civil. Names abused infer not the things signified by an unequivocal term. 2. You must first prove the form of government, and thence infer the denomination, and not contrarily, first beg the name, and then infer the government. 3. If yet by a form of ecclesiastical government, you meant nothing but the king's extrinsic government, which you may as well call also a form of school-government, of college-government, &c., we would grant you all. But if I can understand you, you now speak of ecclesiastical government as distinct from that. And then, 4. You are now grown up from a may be, to a must be, and necessity; and a greater necessity of one national ecclesiastical government, than of a particular church government; which being undeniably of Christ's institution (by the Holy Ghost in the apostles) you do not make all forms to be indifferent, or deny this to be 'jure divino.' What! necessary and more necessary than that which is 'jure divino,' and yet indifferent and not 'jure divino?' If you say, It is necessary only on supposition that there be a national church: I answer, But your reasons evidently infer that it is also necessary that there be such a national church where it may be had; though you deny the necessity of

« AnteriorContinuar »