And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.—Isaiah 37.31.

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A Demonstration that it is Not Christian Duty

To Hear Unlawful Ministers

Thrust into Moses’ Seat

Without Competent Qualifications

And a Lawful Call,

To which are Added a Few Observations on the Subject of Separation.


Being Section 15 From

An Apologetical Relation, &c.

By John Brown of Wamphray.

First Published in the Year 1665.

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TrueCovenanter.com Editor’s Introduction.

As the Covenanter Church would develop in times subsequent to the Reformation, and what is primarily thought of as her covenanting period, questions occurred on the topic of fellowship in the ecclesiastical and ministerial administrations of those parties from which Covenanters maintained a distinct existence.  In time, there was even a “Rule on Occasional Hearing,” whereby all occasional countenancing of heretical and schismatic administrations was accounted as being as certainly forbidden as regular participation in such spiritually unhealthy behaviour.  Some of the earliest decisions, however, which eventually led to this later policy, related to whether Covenanters should submit to hearing Episcopal curates, and whether faithful Covenanters should countenance indulged ministers.

In the following discussion of the former of these two questions, we find that John Brown of Wamphray presses forward the distinguishing Covenanter principle of Testimony-Bearing in this point.  His purpose is not be exaggerative, as if no curates were true ministers of Christ, or preached true doctrine; nor to publish a definitive prohibition against all hearing of such ministers; but to justify the Lord’s witnesses in taking a stand against the displacing of a faithful ministry, with a state institution,—such a stand as involved many in the threatened inconveniences consequent upon their disregard not merely of curates, nor of bishops; but of a Parliament and a King.

So the reader may note that for Brown, there is a place for distinguishing between constant and ordinary hearing, and what would later be called “occasional” hearing.  He also concedes the relevance of a distinction between the case of a church in a reforming state, and that of a church in a course of backsliding.  He acknowledges that in some things what is improper now, may be allowed in other conditions, “to prevent worse,” and that what is expected of the “standing army” is not the same as what is expected of stragglers after the army is broken.  But all these things considered, the duty and desire of the conscientious Christian must always be to honour the Lord Jesus Christ with a faithful testimony, and impart to the generation following a precedent which will be a blessing to posterity.  Thus in 1665, it was needful in relation to the curates, and in later times it has been needful in relation to others, that the Christian should by his conduct express his adherence to a faithful ministry, and his opposition to that which had been put in its place.

In Brown’s answers to common objections one finds a valuable discussion of the passage in Matthew 23, where direction is given about how to respond to the Scribes and Pharisees while they “sit in Moses’ seat.”  Although Samuel Rutherford takes this passage very differently in an effort to extract from it a more thorough condemnation of the Congregationalists, and preclude any possible excuses for separation from the ministry of Scotland, yet his very beloved student, our present author, gives a notably different, and much more natural exposition of this passage.[1]  For Brown, there is no place to be allowed for Congregationalism, but neither is there a place to be allowed for ministers who can only be heard as long as we misunderstand our Lord as instructing his disciples in a positive duty to hear the Scribes and Pharisees of their day.  Again, concessions might be made when there really are no better ministers to hear than the “Scribes and Pharisees” of a given time, and a difference may be acknowledged between a constant and occasional attendance; but as far as our Lord’s instruction determines the matter, there is no obligation for faithful Christians to adhere to a ministry which is unlawful or unfaithful in its own nature, and intended to displace the lawful and faithful ministry that Christ provided when he “gave gifts unto men.” (Eph. 4.8.)  Rather, those who stand off from such ministers should be both justified and commended, and the Church’s healing should be pursued in a lawful and honest way.

2016.12.19::JTKer.

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Introduction, including the iniquitous Act enjoining all to countenance the Curates

Fourteen Particulars to Demonstrate that those cannot be condemned who refuse to hear the Curates

Objection 1, relating to Christ’s words in Matt. 23, concerning the hearing of the Scribes and Pharisees

Objection 2, relating to Separation from the Church and her Ordinances

Objection 3, relating to Whether such refusal infers a Wrong Testimony, as if these men were no Ministers, or their Administrations were Invalid

Objection 4, relating to Paul’s disposition in Phil. 1, concerning ministerial adversaries in whose Labours we should Rejoice

SECTION XV.

Concerning the hearing of such as are now thrust in upon the people in the Room of those who are put away.

WHen by these ways forementioned a great number, even the third part of the Ministry of Scotland, was put from preaching the Gospel, & banished from their own parish Churches: There were a number of naughty base men who had denied the faith which once they professed, & renounced that covenant which they had sworn with hands lifted up to the most high God; Men for the most part of flagitious lives, corrupt both in their principles, & in their conversation, unfit to have the privilege of Church members, in any well-governed Church, let be to be officers in the house of God: And men who will willingly comply with any course which Satan & his instruments can set on foot, thrust in upon the people, sore against their wills, having presentations from patrons, & collations from the prelates, & no more, for a call.  And there are others, alas too too many, who being in the Ministry before, have basely betrayed their trust, & complied with those abjured prelates, & gone contrary to that covenant which both themselves did swear, with hands lifted up to the most high, & which they caused all within their several congregations to swear, in a most solemn manner, as hath been shown above.  And now did the trial come near to the doors of the poor people for there was an Act of Parliament, Jul. 10, 1663, Enjoining the people to attend all the ordinary meetings for divine worship under these pains & penalties, viz. each nobleman, gentleman & heritour the loss of a fourth part of each year’s rent, in which they shall be accused & convicted: And every yoeman, tennent & farmer the loss of such a proportion of their free moveables (after payment of their rents due to the Master & landlord) as his Maj. Council shall think fit, Not exceeding a fourth {271} part thereof.  And Every burgess to lose the liberty of merchandizing, trading, and all other privileges within burgh — & the fourth part of their moveables —— and such other corporal punishments, as the Council shall think fit.  And yet notwithstanding of this act, faithful & honest Christians were constrained in conscience to withdraw; & could not yield obedience unto this act; but resolved rather to suffer affliction, whatever it might be, than countenance such as had intruded themselves without a call, & had made such defection from the truth & cause of God; & for this cause many have suffered, & many are put to suffer daily, whom no tender-hearted Christian will or can condemn, if these few particulars be considered.

1. To yield obedience unto this act enjoining them to hear such men always & to attend all the ordinary meetings for worship, & so to countenance them as lawful pastors, were to comply with the sinful defection of the time, as appeareth from these two particulars:  1. It were a countenancing of these men who have broken covenant, & overturned the whole work of reformation, & an approving of them in the same; for themselves look on all such as obey that act, as their friends; & the act itself saith that a cheerful concurrence, countenance & assistance given to such Ministers, & attending all the ordinary meetings for divine worship, is an evidence of a due acknowledgment of, & hearty compliance with his Maj. Government ecclesiastical & civil, as now established by law within this Kingdom, for in order to this last, the act saith that his Maj. doth expect the former;  And experience proveth much of this to be true, viz. that such as do countenance them after this manner do indeed approve of them, & by the contrary they look on others, as disaffected persons, so that obedience to the Act is the very badge of compliance; And therefore upon that account cannot in conscience be yielded, for in such a case many things which otherwise might be lawful or indifferent cannot be lawfully done, as being most inexpedient, & what is not expedient, insofar as not expedient, is unlawful & unedifying; & therefore must not be done, as Paul saith, 1 Cor. 10.23.    2. It were some way also the acknowledging {272} of the power & authority of Prelates:  And so contrary to the league & Covenant, & the reason is, because, these men come forth from the Prelate having no other call or warrant, but what the Prelate giveth: And so a receiving of them is a receiving of the Prelate, as a refusing to own them, will be accounted a slighting of the Prelate & his power.  These things will be clearer, if two things be considered:  1. That now there is no door opened for getting any wrongs redressed, & corruptions in the ministry, which creep in & abound, removed; There is no access for grieved persons to present their grievances;  Corruption & defection is carried on with such a high hand, that there is no liberty once to speak or object against such & such corruptions;  Yea all these corruptions are approved:  So that all possibility of getting any redress made, is away:  And in such a case as this, when private persons have not access to propound their objections, against such or such a man’s exercising the ministerial function, or no hopes of getting a hearing;—But by the contrary such persons as they would object against, would be the better liked; And these things, which they might object as heinous crimes, would be accounted virtues & matter of greater commendation;—What can they do else, but withdraw & not countenance such vicious & naughty persons, nor do anything which may import a consenting unto, or an approving of these grievous wrongs & enormities:  Especially considering:  2. How there is now no other way left for persons to exoner their consciences before God & the world, & to declare their Non-conformity unto this wicked & corrupt course of defection:  All other doors are barred by law, so that now they must either give testimony against this course of defection this way by refusing to give obedience unto this Act, & to countenance these men (whose chief qualification is perjury) as Ministers of the gospel; or else they must be accounted consenters: For how else shall their dissatisfaction be known.  There is no patent door now, for any legal exoneration of their consciences by remonstrances, & protestations, the Parliament having declared such Actions to be treasonable:  Yea, there is not so much as liberty {273} granted for petitioning or supplicating against any such abuse: And of necessity, they must some way or other give public testimony against these courses (for they must not partake of other men’s sins) as are carried on, contrary to the word of God, to the Covenant, & to their former resolutions:  And there is no other way so harmless & Innocent as this, though suffering should follow thereupon.

2. By giving obedience unto this Act, they should be in hazard, not only of falling away unto a detestable neutrality & indifferency in the matters of God; but ere long, they should be in hazard to fall away in heart & affection, from the cause of Christ, & from the work of reformation sworn unto, and owned so much; for there is no other way now apparent, whereby the difference shall be kept up, betwixt such as honestly mind the covenanted work of reformation, & the corrupt prelatical & malignant party, but this of refusing to give obedience unto this Act.  So that, as it is already too too apparent that some who had no scruple to hear these men, and withal thought to abide constant to the cause of God, were ere long found to be deceived; for piece & piece the edge of their Zeal was blunted, & their affection to the work of God cooled, & they at length were brought to condemn it:  So dangerous a thing is it to suffer the standing difference to wear out of sight:  So that let a Man once begin to countenance those men, as lawfully called & authorized Ministers, & by this means, keep up no standing difference, he shall, ere he be aware, slide into their camp, & side with them in all things: Therefore it is best to keep up this distance & standing difference by withdrawing.

3. By giving obedience unto this Act, they should quite undo & betray their posterity:  For though now the honest party be not in a capacity, to transmit the work of reformation unto their posterity, in such a manner as were to be wished, it being now defaced & overturned, by this course of defection, which is so violently carried on; yet they may, & should do something for keeping fresh the memory of the good old cause, that it be not buried quite in oblivion, & this must {274} be, by keeping up some footsteps of a standing controversy, for Zion’s interest, & the work of God against the common enemies thereof, the prelatical & malignant faction.  But now take this weak & inconsiderable appearing in the fields against these corruptions, away, what appearance of a standing controversy shall posterity see?  Shall not they conclude that the day is lost, and the cause gone when they see that this generation hath fled the field or rather sold & betrayed the cause, by owning, countenancing & complying with the enemy, & that there is no standing testimony against corruptions, or nothing seen in the practices or carriage of their fathers, that may in the least signify their dissatisfaction with these courses.  Whereas, if there were but this much of a standing difference, betwixt the people of God, & the common enemies of Zion, to be seen, posterity would in some measure, be kept from being deceived, & would see the interest of Christ not killed, nor buried quick; but living though in a bleeding condition: & this would occasion their engaging for Christ & interesting themselves in the quarrel: And it is far better to see the cause of Christ owned, though by suffering & blood, than sold & betrayed by base flenching [flinching] & complying with persecutors.

4. There is not a more ready way to harden & encourage the enemy in their wicked & malicious way of opposing the work of God, than thus to countenance them in obedience to this act.  This is a way to strengthen their hands in their wicked courses; for then, they encourage themselves in evil when they see how they are countenanced by all, & that there is no disrespect put upon them, nor dissatisfaction evidenced against their courses, then they conclude that they are approved of all, & this hardeneth them, so that they never once think of the evil of their ways:  Whereas were they disowned, notwithstanding of the act, it would cool their courage, & possibly occasion some reflecting thoughts upon their courses, sometime or other;  And who knoweth what might follow?  It is more than probable that the people of God, are not freed from seeking the conviction, repentance, & edification, even {275} of these their malicious enemies: And it is certain they may not encourage them in their evil ways, nor do anything which may really tend to harden them in their wicked courses.  And therefore if obedience to this act will in all probability have this effect, it ought to be forborne.

5. By giving obedience unto this act, they should stumble the truly tender in conscience, by encouraging them to do contrary to their light & conscience, after their example; when they are not clear to hear them, they are emboldened or stirred up thereunto, when they see others doing so, & thus they are ready to halt in the ways of the Lord, & this is a grievous sin, to seek to destroy those for whom Christ died. [Rom. 14.15; 1 Cor. 8.11.]  But it will be objected.  That hearing the word, is duty, & so, if any stumble thereat, it will be but a scandal taken, & not given.  Answer. The question is not whether it be a duty to hear the word or not, but whether it be a duty to hear the word out of such men’s mouths, & that in obedience to the act; or so as the act doth enjoin, & if this be not a necessary duty, the objection falleth to the ground, for it is not at hearing of the word, that men do stumble, but at hearing of such men preach who are not lawfully called.  This solution will be cleared by considering what is the Apostle’s answer in matters of meat & drink, Rom. 14; & 1 Cor. 8. & 10.  He would have them forbearing such or such meat, at such or such time, when there were hazard of stumbling thereat, & for his part he resolved never to eat flesh rather than by eating thereof he should stumble any weak Christian, & yet it is an indispensable duty to eat meat, there is a command for it, & the command doth always oblige though not ad semper to all times.  So then though it be a commanded & necessary duty, to eat meat; yet it is no necessary & indispensable duty, to eat such or such a sort of meat, as fish or flesh, nor is it necessary to eat always at such or such a time, but both may be forborne for the scandal & offence of the weak:  So the parallel will run clearly, it is a duty to hear the Gospel preached; but it is not a necessary & indispensable duty to hear such or such a man always; & so in this case, scandal may have place, as well as in the case of {276} meats; & Paul’s arguments are of force here.  And therefore Christians should be tender of those for whom Christ died, & be loath to occasion their stumbling, by doing that which is not a necessary & indispensable duty, as it is circumstantiated.

6. By yielding obedience unto this act they should cast themselves into snares & temptations, & that because many of those intruders, if not all of them, do teach false doctrine, tending to seduce the hearers, crying up the lawfulness of prelacy, & venting bitter invectives against presbyterian government, inveighing against the covenant, & so teaching & encouraging people to follow them, in open perjury, & condemning the work of reformation, as being nothing else but treason & sedition, which were blasphemy:  Besides some points of Arminianism & Popery, which some of them are venting, now & then.  Seeing then there is such false Doctrine held forth, & taught with such boldness, & impudency, can it be lawful for simple people to attend such, when their souls are in such hazard to be seduced thereby, & when the Spirit of God sayeth cease to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge? Prov. 19.27.  Beware of false Prophets, is a command that is of force now, as well as of old.  John in his second Epistle, verses 10,11, sayth, that if there come any unto you & bring not this Doctrine, receive him not unto your house, neither bid him God speed, for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evils, it is sure then John would never advise people to go constantly or ordinarily to hear such deceivers who bring not with them the Doctrine of Christ.  He who would not have the less done would never consent unto the more.  Paul writing to the Romans, chapter 16, v. 17, 18, sayeth, Now I beseech you brethren Mark them which cause divisions & offences contrary to the Doctrine which ye have learned & avoid them, for they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly & by good words & fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.  Here is a clear warrant for avoiding (and that will at least include a refusing obedience to this Act) such as teach things contrary to the Doctrine which hath been already received, & Learned out of {277} the word, & do thereby cause divisions & offences & have nothing before their eyes but their own belly, & not the glory of Christ.  And how well this agreeth unto those men now spoken of, any who know them may judge.  And therefore seeing it is their design & intended work to deceive the hearts of the simple, by their bold & confident assertions, & to cause them believe things contrary to the Doctrine which they have already learned & received, it must be a necessary duty for poor simple people to avoid such.  So the Apostle writing to Titus cap. 1.14, forbiddeth to give heed to jewish fables & commandments of men that turn from the truth, & who are these who teach such things?  See verses 10, 11, unruly, vain talkers, & deceivers, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.  It cannot then be lawful to obey this act.  So writing to the Philippians, cap. 3.2, He sayeth beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision, by whom the false teachers of these times are to be understood.  Now he commandeth to beware of those, that is, shun them, forbear to hear them, follow them not:  And again, verses 17-19, he sayeth, Brethren be followers together of me, & Mark them which walk so as ye have us for [an] ensample, for many walk of whom I have told you often, & now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies to the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, who mind earthly things.  So he would have them following such as taught as he did, & walked as he walked, & not such as were enemies to the cross of Christ.  And certainly when Paul would have the Ephesians, cap. 4.14, No more carried about with every wind of Doctrine, by slight of men & cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, he would not have them following or attending the Ministry of such, concerning whom the question is.  So when he willeth the Colossians, cap. 2, v. 8, to beware lest any man spoil them through Philosophy, and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ, he would not have people give obedience unto this Act, & to attend the Ministry of such who teach false Doctrine, By slight & cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive & seek to spoil people of the truth {278} by their Philosophy (such as it is) & vain deceit after the traditions of men & not after Christ & seek to beguile with enticing words.  So in his first Epistle to Timothy, cap. 4, v. 1, 2, He sayeth that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, speaking lies in Hypocrisy having their consciences seared with a hot iron.  It must then be hazardous & most dangerous to give heed to such seducing spirits, as speak lies, & have their consciences seared with an hot iron, as being the cause of departing from the faith, so that such as will guard against departing from the faith would take heed whom they hear.  So in his second Epistle to Timothy, cap, 3, v. 5, he speaketh of some whom he would have all honest people turn away from, & these he describeth first from their corrupt conversation, verses 2, 3, 4, 5, thus, men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of these that are good, traitors, high minded, heady, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, much time needs not be spent in shewing how fitly all these agree unto the persons now spoken of; such as know them can best judge.  But then secondly, he describeth them from their Doctrine, verses 6, 8, 13, They creep into houses and lead captive silly women, as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth, men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith, evil men and seducers, all which particulars without contradiction, agree to these now spoken of:  And therefore the Apostle’s command standeth in force, from such turn away.  By all these passages, It is clear that the Ministry of false & corrupt teachers should not be attended.

7. If it were lawful to hear these in obedience to this Act, it would be also lawful, upon an Act, to attend the Ministry of Anabaptists, Antinomians, Socinians, Arminians, or Jesuits:  And if it would not be lawful to do this, no more can it be lawful to attend the Ministry of these in question, who seek to pervert the right ways of the Lord, [Acts 13.10,] & labour to subvert the simple people, & to turn them away from the truth. {279}

8. Such as their Doctrine is, such are the prayers, not only stuffed with errour, but larded with blasphemy, as might easily be shown, were it fit here to mention what their expressions are.  As their Doctrine tendeth to reproach the work of reformation & the power of godliness, so do their public prayers, as such as hear them can show.  They pray for a blessing on the prelates, under the name of Reverend & right Reverend fathers, & on their ways & courses (which God will curse & blast) not to mention their unsound & parasitick expressions concerning the King’s supremacy, calling him head of the Church, &c.  Now seeing tender consciences cannot join with them in those prayers, how can they attend their Ministry?  Are not all present bound to join in prayer with them who should be the mouth of all the congregation unto God & pray with them? & when out of the corruption of their heart they ordinarily utter expressions savouring of blasphemy & errour, can godly tender consciences go along with them?  And seeing they cannot, how can they be bound to attend their Ministry?  There are snares in Prayer no less than in preaching.  Yea particular persons concur more with the minister in prayer than in preaching; & therefore they may more safely hear errour preached than join in an erroneous prayer, for in the one they are purely passive, But in the other they are some way active: & therefore unquestionably there is sin in constant attending the Ministry of such, with whom if they concur in prayer, they must sin.

9. Yielding obedience unto this Act were upon the matter a consenting unto the great encroachment made upon the privileges of the Church.  The Church hath this power & privilege from the Lord, to make choice of her own officers, as the frequent examples thereof in the days of the Apostles do clear, & this would be the greater sin, now after the Lord hath graciously delivered that Church from that yoke, & put her in possession of her power & privileges; after that the power of patrons, which was a piece of cruel bondage & oppression unto the Church, is removed, to consent again unto wreathing of that yoke about her neck, were no small transgression:  And it is clear that the attending of the Ministry of such, must be {280} an accepting of them as Ministers lawfully called notwithstanding that they want the election of the people, & have nothing for their warrant, but a presentation from the patron: And so this would be nothing else upon the matter but a consenting unto this encroachment; And a joining with such as wrong & spoil the Church: To say that people in that case should protest against these encroachments, & so exoner themselves, were to put them, to run their heads against a wall: & next their refusing thus to obey the act, is, upon the matter a protestation, & if after their protestation they were bound to hear them & attend their Ministry, they should undo their own protestation, by their after-carriage; for by their protestation they declare, that they cannot look upon them as Ministers having a lawful call, according to the laws of Christ, & by their after-carriage, in constant attending of their Ministry, they should declare to all, that they own them as lawfully called Ministers;  And thus their practice should belie their protestation.  Nor will it be of any force to say that their fore-fathers did submit unto the Ministry of such as had no other call but the patron’s presentation: For there is a vast difference to be put betwixt a time wherein the Church is advancing in a course of reformation, & and a time wherein she is declining & sliding back from that degree of reformation unto which she had already attained:  In a time wherein the Church is but coming out of darkness, & the day is but beginning to break up, many things may then be comported with & tolerated, which may not be submitted unto, after the Church hath gotten all these abuses reformed.  Every believer, & every Church is bound to stand fast in that which they have attained unto, & not to cede in a hoof; So that Christians living in a time wherein the Church is but beginning to wrestle up, from under the heap of errour & corruption, may be allowed to do many things, which must not be done, when the noontide of the day is come.  In the time of the reformation begun by Luther & others, many things might have been comported with in the Church, (reformation being a gradual motion that hath but small beginnings & risings) which now since the reformation {281} hath been carried on, through the blessing of God, to that degree it was advanced to, cannot be allowed: When God hath wonderfully by his mighty power & out-stretched arm, brought a Church to a great length in reformation, it will be the duty of that Church & of the members thereof to adhere to that degree unto which they have attained, with all perseverance.  It will be lawful for the Church which is but coming up the hill to stand at such a step until they gain another; when yet it will not be lawful for the same Church, to go backward after they have advanced.  The truth once bought should never be sold: so then the consequence is null:—Their fore-fathers stumbled not, nor did scruple, at the doing of such or such things, therefore these in this generation, who have advanced, through the blessing of God, unto a further degree of reformation, should not scruple either.  It is a poor consequence to say, The posterity may return backward, because their forefathers could not advance further; Much more may be seen when the sun is up than in the twilight.  Therefore the scrupling of honest people now, doth no way condemn their fore-fathers: But on the contrary, the steadfastness of their fore-fathers, in standing to the degree, to which they had reached, & their endeavouring to advance, will condemn this generation for backsliding.  In their days those abuses & corruptions were not remedied, the Church was not then freed of that yoke of oppression.  And further, their after-consent unto such Ministers made up this defect;  But those in this generation are not at liberty to give or grant their after-consent, because they are engaged to stand to the work of reformation, & to own it in all its parts, whereof this is one, viz. the putting away of the usurpation of patrons, & the putting the Church in possession of her own privileges, & this they must own upon any hazard, if they would not betray their trust.  The right way of Election was not settled by law in their fore-fathers’s days, & so they were groaning under that oppression, & constrained to make the best of that ill bargain they could; But it were utterly intolerable for those in this generation to consent unto the wreathing of that yoke, which hath been once loosed {282} from their Laws, about their necks again.  Nor will it be of any force to say, within few ages, yea or years, such a thing as this will never be scrupled at: for if defection be carried on, with as great vehemency, as it hath been these few years bypast, it is like, gross popery shall not be scrupled at ere long, except by such as now do scruple to countenance these intruders.  And whatever the following posterity may be allowed to do, to prevent worse, it will plead nothing for these in this generation; because it is their part to stand in the gap & leave their dead bodies there, rather than give way unto any degree of defection which may cause posterity to curse them.  More is expected of a standing army, than of straggling soldiers; these may make some shift after the army is broken, to get as good quarters, as they may, when it were baseness & utterly unlawful for any to do so, while the army is unbroken.  Small things should be stood at, in the time of the beginning of an apostasy: when the waters of corruption are beginning to break in, the least hole should be stopped, & watched over.

10. By giving obedience unto this act, they should, upon the matter, justify & approve of, & consent unto the violent & cruel thrusting out of these whom God had settled in those places, & whose labours he had blessed, & thus they should consent unto this terrible act for persecution of the godly & faithful Ministers of the Lord: And therefore they could not do it in conscience.  The antecedent is cleared thus:  Because to embrace & encourage such, were to approve of the ground, upon which they enter, & that is, their compliance with the sinful defection, & their submission & obedience unto the sinful injunctions of the time; And what were that else, but a condemning of the honest Ministers who could not in conscience so comply, nor submit, & an approving of the sad sentence gone out against them.  He who willingly submitteth unto an usurper, & accepteth of him as a lawful superiour, by yielding all active obedience, doth thereby declare that the right of the usurper, is good, & better than his {283} right who is outed by the usurper, or he doth what in him lieth to make it so.

11. It may be questioned, as to some of them, whether they be Ministers at all or not; for as they have not the qualifications required by the Apostle, neither as to life, nor abilities, being scandalous in their life & conversation, to the view of all onlookers; & as to doctrine, being either corrupt, or utterly insufficient, having none of the qualifications requisite:  So nor have they anything like a solemn ordination, or setting apart for that office, having no imposition of hands of the Presbytery, with fasting & prayer, according to the order of the Gospel; but the sole warrant & mission of the prelate: & therefore it cannot be lawful to countenance such, & to look upon them as lawful Ministers.  It is true, private Christians may not set themselves up into the chair, & judge of the enduements & qualifications of Ministers & what nulleth their office & what not; yet every private Christian hath the use of the judgement of discretion, and that way may judge whether such an one, appear qualified according to the rule of the word, or not.  It is certain there may be times wherein such men may be set up into that office as have few or none of all those qualifications required in the word:  Such corruption may overgrow the Church, (as by past experience hath abundantly evinced in the times of popery) as the most unfit men imaginable shall be installed in the office of the Ministry:  Yea & now likewise some such might be instanced, if it were fit.  Now albeit it be hard for private persons to take upon them to unminister such as are Coram hominibus [Before men] (though not Coram Deo, [Before God,] in God’s account wanting these qualifications which his word requireth) installed in the office; yet when the standing, clear, & undeniable laws are rejected, & such put in place, who would not once be evened thereunto if the qualifications which the word requireth, were once eyed,  They cannot be condemned for withdrawing from such, & for refusing to attend their Ministry, or to countenance & encourage them, as lawful Ministers of Christ ought to be countenanced & encouraged.  It is likewise certain that private Christians {284} may know whether such an one be ordained according to the primitive order, or only hath the prelate’s hands laid on him, or no imposition of hands at all, & accordingly may carry themselves towards such.

12. It is certain there is much corruption in the way of their entry, if not a whole mass of corruption, all circumstances being considered:  And so the yielding obedience unto this Act, now when these corruptions are well known, should be an approving of these corruptions, whereas they should partake of no man’s sin, but keep themselves pure, & bear testimony against these corruptions so far as they can; & there is no other way for them now to do it, but by refusing to yield obedience unto this Act: There is no access for complaints, & such as would but petition, should insofar accuse themselves.

13. To yield obedience to this Act, & attend the ministry of such, when there are others to be heard, either in publick or private, were to wrong their own souls to mar & hinder their own edification & spiritual profiting, by running to cisterns without water.  What blessing can be expected upon the preaching of such, as have palpably perjured themselves, in owning the prelates; as have made defection from the truth, and are prosecuting a course of defection, & making themselves captains to lead the people back into Egypt: as stuff their preachings with railing, against the work of God & power of godliness: as encourage profanity & wickedness & are themselves patterns of all profanity & debaucheries? can it be expected that God will bless such, as are thus qualified for the Service of Satan, & are driving on his design?  Can it be expected that God will countenance such as run unsent, & are thieves climbing up at the windows, & are not entering in by the door, who feed themselves, & not the flock, who strengthen not the diseased nor heal that which was sick, nor bind up that which was broken, nor bring again that which is driven away, nor seek that which is lost: But with force & cruelty rule over them? [Ezek. 34.3-4.]  Will God bless such, whom, he solemnly protesteth by his oath, that he is against? Ezek. 34.10.  And seeing a blessing cannot be expected upon their labours, but rather a {285} curse, as daily experience maketh good, when it is seen that even such as had something like parts before, are now totally blasted of God; their right eye almost already put out, and their right arm dried up: how can any think of attending their ministry:  When instead of any work of conversion or conviction among people, there is nothing seen, but a fearful hardening in profanity, so that such as seemed to have something like Religion before, now through hearing of them ordinarily, are turned altogether loose & profane,  Is there not a seen curse upon them & their labours?  Who then can adventure to obey this Act?  Hath it not been seen how signally God hath testified his displeasure against some who for fear or somewhat else, over the belly of their light, would obey the Act; & upon the other hand how he hath signally approved such who have resolved to suffer rather than sin upon that account?  Instances of both might be given were it pertinent:  Shall it then be safe for any to seek the law at their mouth, seeing it is so much to be questioned if they be the messengers of the Lord of hosts; & so clear, that they are departed out of the way and have caused many to stumble at the law & have corrupted the Covenant of Levi, & are now made so contemptible & base before all the people?  Yea where there is no such hazard of being misled, it is lawful for people to go & hear such Ministers as they profit most by; as worthy doctor Voetius cleareth, pol. Eccles. page 72, from these grounds:  1. People should choose the best & most edifying gifts.  2. Scripture favoureth this choosing Luke 8.18; 1 Thess. 5.21.  And he further there answereth three or four objections: much more will it be lawful for people to hear other Ministers in the case now under consideration.

14. Christ alloweth his people & followers to refuse to hear such unsent & false teachers, as it is enjoined in the Act, John 10, where he giveth it as a mark & character of one of his sheep, that he will not follow a stranger but flee from him, for his people know not the voice of a stranger, verse 5; and who this stranger is, the former verses show, where he is called a Thief & A robber, verse 1.  And that because he entereth not in by the door, but climbeth up some other way, & wanteth these qualifications of a good {286} shepherd mentioned, verses 3, 4.  And therefore it cannot be sinful or unlawful to refuse obedience unto that Act, seeing such as are now commanded by the Act to be heard, are, as to their entry, intruders, & in their doctrine erroneous, & as to the discharge of their trust, mere hirelings & therefore must not be hearkened unto, but fled from.  Calvin on the place sayeth, this is the spirit of discretion, by which his chosen ones do discern the truth from men’s fictions — and their obedience herein is commended not only in that they pleasantly meet together, when they hear the voice of a true shepherd, but also in that they will not hearken unto the voice of a stranger.  It is one of Mr. Hutcheson’s notes upon the place that, The true sheep, are so far enabled to discern false teachers & corrupt doctrine, as they do approve of neither, but will flee from them, that they be not infected nor ensnared with their allurements; For a stranger they will not follow when he calls them to follow him in a wrong way but will flee from him, (as one they will have nothing to do withal) & that because they know not the voice of strangers, that is, they do not approve them, though they have a knowledge of discerning, whereby they know them, & their Doctrine to be naught.  This is asserted of Christ’s sheep, not because they cannot at all err, nor yet only because it is their duty thus to do (for that is common to them with reprobates) but because, when any do either embrace false Doctrine, or fall in liking with corrupt men, who run unsent, It is no sign of their grace, but of their corruption so to do.

It will be objected:  1. That Christ commandeth to hear the scribes & the Pharisees who did sit in Moses his chair, Matt. 23.  And these of whom now the question is, are not worse than the scribes & Pharisees were.  And therefore it cannot be lawful to refuse obedience unto this Act.    Answer. For solution of this objection, which seemeth to be the main one,  These things would be considered:  1. That these scribes & Pharisees were as naughty men as then lived upon the face of the earth, & were still enemies unto Christ, & were false teachers,—their Doctrine was leavened with sour & dangerous tenets among which this was a chief:  That Christ was not the Messias, and upon this account Christ desireth his disciples to beware of the leaven of the {287} Pharisees, Matt. 16.6.  2. They were men that had no lawful call unto that place which they did assume to themselves, which appeareth from these particulars:  I. Christ calleth them thieves & Robbers & strangers, John 10.1,5,8, & that not merely because of their false Doctrine, nor yet merely because of their carnal way of entry, as hirelings seeking gain; but also because of their usurping the place, & office, & entering thereinto without a call from God; for the ground & reason why Christ calleth & proveth them to be thieves & robbers is because they entered not by the door but climbed up some other way, & the porter did not open unto them, v. 3 & they came before him, that is, without his warrant & commission:  They took not the right way of entry, they came not in at the right door, & with God’s approbation.  II. Matt. 15.13, Christ calleth them plants which his heavenly father had never planted & there he is speaking of them selves (& not of their Doctrine only) who offended at Christ’s Doctrine, & it was them (& not their Doctrine alone) that Christ would have his disciples letting alone, let them alone (says he) For they be blind leaders of the blind, & this will suit the scope very well; for his disciples had laid some weight on this that they were men in office & therefore the stumbling & offending of them seemed to be some great business.  But Christ replieth, That albeit they had been planted or had planted themselves in that office & charge, Yet they were such plants as his heavenly father had never planted, & therefore they were the less to be regarded.  Gualter on the place sayeth that it is clear out of history, that God did never institute the order of the scribes, which then was; Far less the Pharisees & sadducees; But they had their rise from that greek, or heathenish school which Jason whom Seleucus made high priest, did institute in Jerusalem contrary to the law; and that the Pharisees did spring from the Stoicks & the Sadducees from the Epicures?  And [he] citeth in the margin 1 Mach. 1, and 2 Mach. 4.  So ibid: He giveth the sense of that word let them alone,—discredite ab iis,—go away from them.  III. The place which they had assumed did properly & of right belong unto the Priests & Levites as Pareus hinteth on the place, yet these because of their learning & pride thinking themselves only [or, alone] {288} worthy to be in office, took upon them that place, without any further call; which is the more likely, considering,  IV. That those times were times of confusion and disorder, so that (as Grotius observeth) there was no care had about this business, but every man who pleased was free to take upon him to instruct & teach the people, & this is confirmed by that passage, Acts 13.15, And after the reading of the law & the prophets, the rulers of the Synagogue sent unto them saying, ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.  Consider 3. That though the words, verse 2, Be rendered They sit in Moses’ seat, they may be as well rendered, “They have set themselves down in Moses’ seat.”  Pareus on the place doth fully clear this where he sayeth “In my judgment εκαθισαν is better rendered, with the ancient latin edition sederunt, they did sit than as now commonly sedent, they do sit, for that phrase of sitting in Moses’ seat Signifieth the office of teaching publickly the Doctrine & law of Moses: the verb in the aorist taketh not from them, but giveth unto them the present ordinary office of teaching, but withal it importeth that this sect had by hook & crook usurped this office & place which at the first was given by God unto the Priests & Levites.  They have sitten, that is, they have set themselves down in that seat of Moses which they now possess; for the verb καθεδρας doth signify not only neutrally, to sit, but also Actively to cause to sit, to place in a seat,—thus he.  And Scapula indeed rendereth the verb Actively to cause or command to sit & citeth authors for it: so doth Pasor say, that properly it signifieth to place in a seat or to cause one sit.  4. There is no word of a command here given to his disciples (to whom with the multitude he is here speaking) to attend the ministry of the Scribes & Pharisees for if he had commanded them to do so, it is like the disciples would have done so in obedience to Christ’s command; but the scripture speaketh nothing of this: And then they should have left Christ & followed the Pharisees which is not very probable, & Christ himself would have taught them to do so, by his own example, for he came to fulfil all righteousness. But there is no word of this either.  5. By the contrary Christ is so far from commanding his disciples & others to follow their Ministry, that he dissuadeth {289} them therefrom, not only elsewhere, calling them blind Leaders of the blind, & such as should be let alone & fled from as impostors, Matt. 15.13,14, and saying, John 10.4,5, that the sheep know the voice of a lawful shepherd, but not the voice of a stranger.  Yea they will not follow a stranger but will flee from him & this is meant of the Pharisees as any may see who will look back to the end of the chapter 9, but also in this same chapter throughout, shewing at great length how naughty & perverse men they were, denouncing many a heavy woe & curse upon them, & at length he calleth them a generation of vipers & serpents who could not escape the damnation of hell, verse 33, all which is but small encouragement to his disciples & hearers to follow them, or attend their Ministry.  And it is observable how fitly many of the particulars for which here Christ denounceth a woe unto these pharisees, do agree unto the persons concerning the hearing of whom, the question is:  As,  (1.) They shut up the Kingdom of heaven against men & neither will go in themselves, nor suffer such as are entering, to go in.  (2.) They are at great pains to bring poor simple people over to their opinion, & maketh them proselytes, & when they are made such, they make them the Children of hell with themselves.  (3.) As the scribes & Pharisees taught people shifts to evade the bonds of oaths, telling them that it was nothing to swear by the altar, or by the temple: so do these excel in that art of teaching perjury; & loosing the knots of covenants & oaths, as is too well known.  (4.) They are much taken up with punctilios of formalities, & in causing people attend all their nods & desires; But as for the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy & faith, they cast these behind their back.  (5.) They declare themselves the children of them who killed the prophets, & are fast filling up the measure of their fathers.  But indeed.  (6.) They are behind the Pharisees in cleansing the outside of the cup & platter, & in appearing like whited tombs, for they have no shew of piety, & therefore are so much the more to be shunned, & may certainly, unless they repent, expect all the woes that here are denounced upon the scribes & Pharisees.  6. It would be considered, for further confirmation of {290} the last particular:  That the main thing which Christ is pressing upon his hearers here, is that they would beware to follow the practices of these Pharisees, for all that high place which they took upon themselves in the Church, & on the by, as it were, he speaketh anent their receiving of their true doctrine, by way of concession, or of their doing & observing, whatsoever they delivered as sitting in Moses’s seat, whereof they were presently in possession, by their usurpation, & while there were no other ordinary occupying that seat at that time.  So that these things being considered, it will appear, that this place maketh no way for the attending the Ministry of such men, there being no command here, to hear the Pharisees at all, let be to hear them always & constantly,—only a command here is, to do & observe what they, from Moses’ law, bade do & observe, which may import a hearing of them expounding the law of Moses while there were no other ordinary teachers of the law:  But if this place prove not (which it will never do) that the Ministry of these scribes was to be constantly attended, it will speak nothing against these who could not obey that act.

It will be objected in the next place:  That refusing to give obedience to this act, will be separation from the Church & ordinances, which are not, nor yet can be corrupted by the corruption of administrators.    Answer. For clearing this, let these things be considered:  1. Corruptions in administrators are of two sorts: some personal, & these alone, it is true, cannot defile the ordinances in their hands, & make them no ordinances:  others are, to speak so, Ministerial, or such as affect the office.  And these again are either of smaller moment & less dangerous, or else such as cut the very throat of the office & make one no officer: & without all question those corruptions that destroy the office, in its essentials, & make the man no Minister, do corrupt the ordinances in his hands.  He who is no minister cannot baptize, nor administrate the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, nor preach with authority, as a Minister, & he can do no Ministerial act: & it is past questioning, that such may be shunned without all hazard of separation, & of {291} this sort it may be, some of those now spoken of, are.  2. When personal faults are very gross, & palpable, open, & avowed, such may be shunned without any hazard of separation, because that man’s being an officer, coram deo, is much to be questioned & there is great probability that ipso facto, in the court of God, he hath forfaulted the same, though such should be the corruption in a Church, that notwithstanding of all this, he may be maintained.  But 3. separation is one thing & not-hearing such or such a man is a far other thing; there may be many just grounds of exception against such or such a particular person why he should not be countenanced as a Minister, or why people may refuse to countenance him, without any hazard of separation or joining with separatists in their principles.  Every not-hearing is not separation: a man may many a time, be absent from hearing, & yet cannot be justly charged with separation:  Yea separation is one thing, & refusing to attend the Ministry of such or such a man, is another thing:  A man may never hear such or such a man preach; & yet be no separatist from the Church, wherein he liveth; for he may join with the ordinances in another congregation; & so testify that he hath no prejudice against the Ministry, nor against the ordinances of Christ, nor against the Church; but only a prejudice against such or such a man in particular.  4. So then, so long as the refusers to obey that Act do not cast at the ordinances but are willing to run many miles to enjoy them though they should be inhumanly used, by the way, by soldiers, led forth of purpose For that end; Nor cast at the Church as no Church (though they sadly feared that God shall be provoked by this dreadful defection, which is carried on by these men & their favourers, to give her a bill of divorce); Nor at the ministry, for they love these who stand by their principles, dearly, & are most willing to hear them either in publick or in private, whatever inconvenience or suffering may follow thereupon, [they cannot be accounted separatists.]  5.It is granted by all such as write against separatists, that separation from a Church is lawful, when the case so falleth out that union cannot be kept up with her, without sin; much more will a forbearing to haunt {292} the ordinances in such a particular parish, & to attend the Ministry of such a particular person, be justified, as no sinful separation, when the contrary cannot be done without sin, & so it is in this case, as hath been shown above.  Reverend & Famous Doct. Voetius Polit. Eccles. Pag. 68. Quest. 17, Granteth that upon some such occasion one may abstain from explicit communion with a particular Church; for these reasons:  (1.) Such communion is not absolutely Necessary necessitatè Medii, nor yet necessitatè præcepti, when the Christian shall have more peace of conscience & free exercise of Christian duties elsewhere.  (2.) Such persons may keep communion with other purer Churches, in other places.  And Famous Mr. Rutherford in his Due Right of Presbyteries, page 253 & page 254, [second numeration,] Where he is laying down some considerations, about the degrees of separation, sheweth us, that there is a separation negative, or a non-union, as That in Augustin’s time, when the faithful did separate from the Donatists, which is lawful, & laudable: now if there be a separation here, it can only be a negative separation, & not a positive separation.  He sheweth us again, ibid. That there is a separation from the Church in the most & worst part, & a separation from the least & best part, & that these who separate from the worst & greatest part, do notwithstanding remain a part of, & a part in the visible Church, because they do not separate from the Church according to the least & best part thereof; as the godly in England who refused the popish ceremonies, & Antichristian Bishops.  Hence it will follow that though now people should withdraw from communion with the greatest part of the Church which is now corrupted they cannot be accounted separatists; because they hold still communion with the better, though lesser part.  Moreover he sayeth, Page 254, 255, That there may be causes of non-union with a Church, which are not sufficient causes of a separation, as, before the jews came to blaspheme openly, (as they did, Acts 13.44-46, & 18.16,) there was no just cause why any should have joined to the Church of the jews, seeing there was a cleaner Church to which converts might join themselves. Acts 2.40-42.  And whether or not the reasons {293} formerly laid down, will be a just cause of non-union (which is all we plead for) let the reader judge.  Lastly, he tells us ibid, Page 255,  When the greatest part of a Church maketh defection from the truth, the lesser part remaining sound, the greatest part is the Church of separatists, though the manyest & greatest part, in the Actual exercise of discipline be the Church; yet in the case of right discipline, the best though fewest, is the Church. For truth is like life, that retireth from the manyest members unto the heart, & there remaineth in its fountain, in case of danger.  So that it is the Major part which hath made defection, that is to be accounted separatists, & not such as stand to their principles, though they cannot comply, or join with the corrupt majority.  Hence it is abundantly clear, that such as refused to obey this Act cannot be accused as guilty of a sinful separation.

It will be objected thirdly,  That by refusing to obey that Act they declare they look not on these men as Ministers, & if they account them no Ministers, they must say that their baptizing is no baptizing: & also that the Church of Scotland now is no organical Church;  And that such do well who refuse to bring their Children unto them to be baptized.    Answer. 1. Though it were affirmed positively, (as it is not,) that all of these men were no Ministers, Yet it would not follow that the Church of Scotland were no organical Church; because all these ministers, who are now violently restrained from exercising their Ministerial function, are Ministers & officers of the Church of Scotland though bound up from exercising their office: for as no deed of a Magistrate can loose a Minister’s relation, (so long as his life is in him,) unto the Church universal; so no deed of the Magistrates can loose a Minister’s relation to the national Church whereof he is a member, so long as he remaineth civis regnè & is not banished out of that Kingdom.  Yea reverend Apollonius in his jus Majestatis circa sacra. Par. 1 Pag. 331, thinketh that when a Minister is wrongfully put from his charge, by a Magistrate, he remaineth still a Minister of that Church from which he is banished, jure divino; Because of his call; & hath a right to exercise all his Church power there; as a wife ravished {294} from her husband remaineth still his wife, because of the marriage covenant which is inviolable; & therefore all these Ministers who are yet within the Kingdom are real officers of the Church of Scotland & full & complete officers as to the power, only they are violently restrained from the actual exercise of that power.  And therefore the Church of Scotland is still an organical Church, as a man is an organical body when bound hand & foot so as he can neither work nor walk.  But 2. Whatever may be thought of some of these men, (whose being real officers in the Church of God (as was said) may much be questioned) & what sad consequences may follow upon the nulling of their office, let these see to it who either send such forth, or employ them.  Yet as to all of them, this forbearing to yield obedience unto this Act, will not ground the consequence alleged:  For there is a difference betwixt the not owning & dis-countenancing of a man as no Minister at all, or no Minister of the Church universal, And dis-owning, or dis-countenancing him as not being their minister in particular, or as pastor of such a particular flock.  It is certain, a man may be a Minister of the Church universal & yet not the Minister of such or such a particular place.  It is certain, a man’s relation unto such or such a particular flock may be Changed by transportation, when his relation unto the Church universal abideth:  And so it is certain that a denying of one to be a Minister of such or such a particular flock will not, by any good consequence, be a denying of him to be a Minister at all.  Many things may loose a Minister’s relation to such or such a particular congregation, which will not annul his relation unto the Church universal:  And when his relation to such a particular flock is loosed, that particular flock is loosed from being a flock owning him as their Minister, for relata se mutuo ponunt et tollunt.  And when such or such particular persons, refuse to own such a man as their pastor in particular, it cannot be inferred that therefore they deny him to be a Minister at all; Unless this consequence were good: He is a Minister in general to the Church universal, Ergo he is a Minister in particular {295} to such a particular flock:—It is ill arguing a genere ad speciem, or a specie ad individuum affirmativè.  So then there can no such thing be concluded from their practice who refuse to obey that act.  As for their refusing to bring their children unto such to be baptized, judicious & learned Voetius in his polit. Eccles. pag. 640, doth approve of it upon these grounds: because no necessity compelleth them to it, & they may wait until they have the occasion of a better Minister either in their own parish, or in another; for if the best gifts be to be coveted, 1 Cor. 12.31, why should not the best Ministers be preferred? & why should not Christians show by their deeds that their delight is in the saints, Psalm 16, & that they honour such as fear the Lord & contemn a vile person, Psalm 15.  So Page 638, quest. 8, he sayeth the same for these reasons: They should not partake of other men’s sin, 1 Cor. 5.9,11; Ephes. 5.11;  (2.) They should not strengthen the hands of the wicked & make sad the godly;  (3.) The authority of such Ministers should not be strengthened, &c.  See further, Page 637, q. 5.

Lastly, it may be some will object that passage Phil. 1.18, What then? Notwithstanding every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is preached, & I therein do rejoice, yea, & will rejoice:  And hence gather, That seeing the Apostle Paul, was glad that the gospel was preached whatever the men were who did preach it, all should now be so far from refusing to hear the gospel preached, because of some prejudices which they may have at the men who are employed in that work, that they should be glad & rejoice, that there are any who will preach truth; And should rather encourage than discourage such.    Answer. 1. These of whom the Apostle there speaketh, were not false teachers, or such as did pervert the right ways of the Lord; But were, it seemeth, orthodox in their Doctrine; only they were prompted to it, by an evil spirit of envy & contention, that they might some way or other (unknown to us who (as Calvin sayeth on the place) are ignorant of the circumstances of the time which would clear us) increase Paul’s trouble & affliction:  And therefore, there is a {296} difference betwixt them, & these of whom our present dispute is, who, as was shown above, are perverting the right ways of the Lord.  2. The Apostle speaketh nothing of hearing, or not hearing of them, only he says that these ambitious, & malicious preachers, did miss their mark; For whereas they thought to make his heart sad, & so add affliction unto the afflicted, by the contrary, he would rejoice that, whatever their intention was, God was using them as instruments, for carrying on his work.  3. In the best of times there may be some such naughty Ministers, as mainly design, by their preaching, some hurt to the eminent & worthy servants of Christ (Famous Calvin found this true in his own experience as he sayeth on the place) and yet may carry themselves outwardly so fair as that great and publick scandals cannot legally be fastened upon them, & it may be that these of whom Paul speaketh here, were such;  And if so, there is, as was shown above, a vast difference betwixt them, & these concerning whom the question now is.  4. Or be it so, that they were more vicious & outwardly loose & profane, Yea & persecutors, there is nothing here warranting a constant or ordinary hearing of them, or an owning of them as lawful Ministers of Christ: all that is here, is a rejoicing that the gospel was spreading, though Satan & Satan’s instruments were employed therein far against their intentions.  There is nothing which can import Paul’s approving of such, as lawful Ministers, for as judicious Calvin sayeth on the place, Though he did rejoice at the gospel’s advancing; yet if it had been in his power, he would never have ordained such to be Ministers of the Gospel.  So, though the godly now would rejoice if they saw the Kingdom of Christ prospering, by the mighty power of God, carrying on the same, far contrary to the intentions & designs of such as now call themselves ministers of the Gospel (which, as it doth not sensibly appear unto them, so it altereth the case far) yet it will not follow that therefore they are bound to own such, as lawful Ministers of the gospel, for as Calvin sayeth on the place, we must rejoice when God bringeth any good to pass, by wicked instruments, & yet therefore such as are not to be put into the Ministry, nor to be accounted lawful {297} Ministers of Christ:  So that this place can prove nothing, but that Christians should rejoice when they see the gospel promoving in the hands of wicked instruments contrary to their intention & purpose, through the mighty power of God out-shooting the devil (as we say) in his bow:  And not that they should own such as lawful Ministers of the gospel, & constantly attend their ministry when they may profit more another way, & when their countenancing these men so, shall harden their hearts in their evil ways, shall stumble the truly godly, shall wrong their own souls, & dishonour God.  Rejoicing at the gospel’s prospering is one thing:  And countenancing, encouraging, receiving, & approving of every one who giveth out himself for a Minister thereof, be he otherwise never so vicious & insufficient, is a far other thing;  And the one will no way infer the other, as any, with half an eye, may see:  Therefore whatever these preachers were, whether such as sought praise of men, preaching out of envy that Paul might not get all the glory, and withal indirectly accusing Paul for rashness & imprudence, & as justly suffering upon that account, to the reproach of the gospel & scandal of the weak, as Aretius on the place thinketh: or such as desired to procure his death, That Nero, through their preaching, hearing of the general dispersing of the doctrine taught by him, might be thereby enraged to take away his life whom he had now in bonds, as the English annotators think:  Or both;—there is nothing here that can with any shew of probability plead for hearing of & owning as Ministers lawfully called, such as are spoken of in this debate.


Footnotes:

1. For Samuel Rutherford’s usage, see for example, A Peaceable and Temperate Plea for Paul’s Presbytery in Scotland, London, 1642; Pages 132-133, 146, 149, and especially 163.  Others favouring Brown’s use of the passage, or similar interpretations and explanations, include James Fraser of Brae, the author of Protesters Vindicated, (1716,) James Hog, Diodati, Trapp, Poole, and Martin Luther.—JTK.