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their consent? And so also of a church-member, the same questions are put. These four questions I put together for brevity, and shall answer them distinctly. I. 1. A minister is obliged to Christ and the universal church for life, (' durante vita') with this exception, if God disable him not. 2. But as a pastor he is not obliged to this or that flock for life. There is no such command or example in God's Word. II. To the second: 1. It is lawful to oblige ourselves to a people for life in some cases, conditionally; that is, if God do not apparently call us away. 2. But it is never lawful to do it absolutely: 1. Because we shall engage ourselves against God; against his power over us, and interest in us, and his wisdom that must guide us. God may call us whither he please; and though now he speak not by supernatural revelation, yet he may do it by providential alterations. 2. And we shall else oblige ourselves against the universal church, to which we are more strictly bound, than to any particular church, and whose good may oblige us to remove. 3. Yea, we may bind ourselves to the hurt of that church itself; seeing it may become its interest to part with us. 4. And we should so oblige ourselves against our duty to authority, which may remove us. III. To the third question I answer, 1. A pastor may not causelessly remove, nor for his own worldly commodity when it is to the hurt of the church and hindrance of the Gospel. 2. When he hath just cause, he must acquaint the people with it, and seek their satisfaction and consent. 3. But if he cannot procure it, he may remove without it: as 1. When he is sure that the interest of the Gospel and universal church require it: 2. Or that just authority doth oblige him to it. The reasons are plain from what is said; and also, 1. He is no more bound to the people, than they are to him; but they are not so bound to him, but they may remove on just occasion. 2. If he may not remove, it is either because God forbids it, or because his own contract with them hath obliged him against it. But 1. God nowhere forbids it: 2. Such a contract is supposed not made, nor lawful to be made. IV. As to the people's case, it needs no other answer; 1. No member may remove without cause: 2. Nor abruptly and uncharitably to the church's dissatisfaction, when he may avoid it. But, 3. He may remove upon many just causes (private or public) whether the church and pastors consent or not, so the manner be as becometh a Christian.
Quest, cv. When many men pretend at once to be the true pastors of a particular church against each other's title, through differences between the magistrates, the ordainers and the Jiocks, what should the people do, and whom should they adhere to?
Antic. This case is mostly answered before in Quest . Lkxxii. &c. I need only to add these Rules of caution. 1. Do not upon any pretence accept of an heretic, or one that is utterly unfit for the office. 2. Do not easily take a dividing course or person, but keep as much as may be in a way of concord with the united, faithful pastors and churches in your proximity or country.
8. Look to the public good and interest of religion, more than to your particular congregation. 4. Neglect not the greatest advantages for your own edification; but rather take them by a removal of your dwelling, though you suffer by it in your estates, than by any division, disturbance of the church's peace, or common detriment. 5. Do not easily go against the magistrate's commands; unless they be apparently unlawful, and to the church's detriment or ruin, in the reception of your pastors. 6. Do not easily forsake him that hath been justly received by the church, and hath possession, that is, till necessity require it.
Quest, cvi. To whom doth it belong to reform a corrupted church? to the magistrates, pastors, or people?Answ. A church is reformed three several ways, 1. By the personal reformation of every member: 2. By doctrinal direction: and, 3. By public, forcible execution, and constraint of others. 3. Every member, whether magistrates, pastors or people must reform themselves, by forsaking all their own sins, and doing their own duties. If a ruler command a private person to go to mass, to own any falsehood, or to do any sin, he is not to be obeyed, because God is to be first obeyed. 2. The bishops or pastors are to reform the church by doctrine, reproof, and just exhortations, and nunciative commands in the name of Christ to rulers and people to do their several duties: and by the actual doing of his own m. 3. The king and magistrates under him, only, must reform by the sword, that is, by outward force, and civil laws and corporal penalties: as forcibly to break down images, to cast out idolaters, or the instruments of idolatry from the temples, to put true ministers in possession of the temples, or the legal public maintenance; to destroy, punish or hurt idolaters, &c. Supposing still the power of parents and masters in their several families.
Quest, cvn. Who is to call synods? princes, pastors, or people? Answ. 1. There are several ways of calling synods: 1. By force and civil mandates. 2. By pastoral persuasion and counsel; and, 3. By humble entreaty and petition. 1. Magistrates only (that is, the supreme by his own power, and the inferior by power derived from him) may call synods by laws and mandates, enforced by the sword or corporal penalties, or mulcts. 2. Bishops or pastors in due circumstances may call synods by counsel and persuasive invitation. 3. The people in due circumstances and necessity, may call synods by way of petition and entreaty. But what are the due circumstances? Answ. 1. The magistrate may call them by command at his discretion, for his own counsel, or for the civil peace, or for the church's good. 2. The pastors and people may not call them, nor meet
■ 1 Cor. xi. 28, 29. 31. 33, 34. 1 Cor. v. 11. Dan. iii. 6. 1 Cor. v. 3—5. 1 Pet. v. 2, 3. Luke xxii. 24—27.
when the magistrate forbiddeth it, except when the necessity of the church requireth it: synods may profitably be stated for order, when it may be lawfully obtained, (both as to limits of place, numbers, and time). But these prudential orders are not of stated necessity, but must give place to weightier reasons on the contrary. 3. Synods themselves are not ordinarily necessary, by nature or institution; (let him that affirmeth it, prove it;) but that which is statedly necessary is, The concord of the churches as the end, and a necessary correspondency of the churches as the means, and synods when they may well be had, as a convenient sort of means. 4. When synods cannot be had, or are needless, messengers and letters from church to church may keep up the correspondency and concord. 5. In cases of real necessity (which are very rare, though usefulness be more frequent), the bishops and people should first petition the king for his consent: and if that cannot be had, they may meet secretly and in small numbers, for mutual consultation and advice about the work of God; and not by keeping up the formality of their set numbers, times, places, and orders, provoke the king against them. 6. The contempt of synods by the Separatists, and the placing more power in synods than ever God gave them by others, yea, and the insisting on their circumstantial orders, making them like a civil senate or court, have been the two extremes which have greatly injured and divided the churches, throughout the world.
Quest, cvni. To whom doth it belong to appoint days and assemblies for public humiliation and thanksgiving?
Atisw. The answer of the last question may serve for this. 1. The magistrate only may do it by way of laws, or civil mandate enforced by the sword. 2. The pastors may do it in case of necessity, by pastoral advice and exhortation, and nunciative command in the name of Christ. 3. The people may do it by petition. 4. As ordinary church-assemblies must be held if the magistrate forbid them, (of which next,) so must extraordinary ones, when extraordinary causes make it a duty. 5. When the magistrate forcibly hindereth them, natural impossibility resolveth the question about our duty.
Quest, cix. May we omit church-assemblies on the Lord's day, if the magistrate forbid them?Answ. 1. It is one thing to forbid them for a time, upon some special cause, (as infection by pestilence, fire, war, &c.) and another to forbid them statedly or profanely. 2. It is one thing to omit them for a time, and another to do it ordinarily. 3. It is one thing to omit them in formal obedience to the law; and another thing to omit them in prudence, or for necessity, because we cannot keep them. 4. The assembly and the circumstances of the assembly must be distinguished. (1.) If the magistrate for a greater good, (as the common safety,) forbid church-assemblies in a time of pestilence, assault of enemies, or fire, or the like necessity, it is a duty to obey him. 1. Because positive duties give place to those great natural duties which are their end: so Christ justified himself and his disciples' violation of the external rest of the sabbath. "For the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath." 2. Because affirmatives bind not 'ad semper,'and out-of-season duties become sins. 3. Because one Lord's day or assembly is not to be preferred before many, which by the omission of that one are like to be obtained. (2.) If princes profanely forbid holy assemblies and public worship, either statedly, or as a renunciation of Christ and our religion; it is not lawful formally to obey them. (3.) But it is lawful prudently to do that secretly for the present necessity, which we cannot do publicly, and to do that with smaller numbers, which we cannot do with greater assemblies, yea, and to omit some assemblies for a time, that we may thereby have opportunity for more: which is not formal but only material obedience. (4.) But if it be only some circumstances of assembling that are forbidden us, that is the next case to be resolved.
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