OF THE ELECTION OF PASTORS
The question is not whether the power of ecclesiastical government or jurisdiction belong to the people or body of the church (for the tenets of Brownists and Anabaptists, concerning popular government, we utterly abhor): nor whether the whole collective body of the church ought to be assembled, and their voices severally asked in elections, for all may consent when none vote in elections but the representative body of the church: nor whether the consent of the people to the admission of a pastor is to be sought and wished for, it being generally acknowledged by all, and denied by none, that it is better to enter with the people's consent than against it: nor whether liberty ought to be granted to the whole congregation, or any member thereof, to object against the man's life or doctrine, or against his qualifications for such a particular charge; for it is certain that not only the congregation but others who know any just impediment against his admission, have place to object the same: nor whether the church's liberty of consent be inconsistent with, or destructive unto, the presbytery's power of examination and ordination, for these may stand together: but the question is whether it be necessarily required to the right vocation of a pastor, that he be freely elected by the votes of the eldership, and with the consent (tacit or expressed) of the major or better part of the congregation, so that he be not obtruded, renitente et contradicente ecclesia.
The affirmative part of this question is proved from Scripture, from antiquity, from Protestant writers, yea, churches, and from sound reason, and from the confessions of opposites. To begin with Scripture and with the primitive pattern: The apostles themselves would not so much as make deacons till all the seven were chosen, and presented unto them by the church, Acts 6.2,3,5,6. The author of the History of Episcopacy, part 2, p. 359, to cut off our argument from Acts 6., saith that the seven were to be the stewards of the people in disposing of their goods, "good reason that the election should be made by them, whose goods and fortunes were to be disposed of." This answer was made by Bellarmine before him; but Walæus, tom. 2, p. 52, reasoneth otherwise: The feeders of the people's souls must be no less (if not more) beloved and acceptable than the feeders of their bodies; therefore these must be chosen with their own consent as well as those. Secondly, Elders (both ruling and preaching) were chosen by most voices of the church, the suffrages being signified per ceirotonian, that is, by lifting up or stretching out of the hand, Acts 14.23. Where the Syriac version doth insinuate that the word ceirotonhsanteV is not to be understood of the apostles' ordination of elders, but of the church's election of elders; thus, "Moreover they made to themselves," that is, the disciples mentioned in the former verse, made to themselves; for they who were made were not elders or ministers to Paul and Barnabas (but to the multitude of the disciples) in every church elders, "while they were fasting with them, and praying, and commending them," &c. Now how could this election be but after the Grecian form, by the church's lifting up or stretching out of hands? But because some do still stick at this place, it may be further cleared thus: CeirotonhsanteV may be understood three ways, and all these ways it saveth the people's right. It may be either the action of the church only, as the Syriac maketh it, or a joint action both of the churches and of Paul and Barnabas, as Junius maketh it, or an action of Paul and Barnabas in this sense, that they did constitute elders to the churches, by the churches' own voices. However, the word relateth to election by stretching out or lifting up of hands, not to ordination by laying on of hands, which is the sense followed by the Italian version, and Diodati authorizing and ordaining such an one only to be an elder as was ceirotonhtoV, which I prove,
1. From the native signification of the word. Where Julius Pollux hath ceirotonia lib.2, c.4, Gualther and Seberus render it manuum extensio, and ceirotonein manus levare, and anticeirotonein manibus refragari; Budæus interpreteth ceirotonia to be plebiscitum, suffragium; H. Stephanus, ceirotonew manum protendo; et attollo manum porrigo; and because, saith he, in giving votes, they did ceirotonein, thence came the word to be used for scisco, decerno, creo, but properly ceirotonew is (saith he) as it were, thn ceirateinw, id est, anateinw; Justin Martyr, Quest. et Resp. ad Orthod. Resp. ad Quæst. 14, doth expressly distinguish ceirotonia and ceiroqesia, as words of a most different signification. Where Cedrenus, anno 526, saith euphranius ceirotoneitai, Philander, the interpreter, rendereth episcopatui, communibus suffragiis deligitur. Scapula, and Arias Montanus also, in his lexicon, tells us, that ceirotonein is manus porrigere, or elevare, eligere, or creare magistratum per suffragia; for ceirotonein is most different from laying on of hands, which is not a stretching out or lifting up, but a leaning or laying down of the hands on something. Wherefore the Hebrews note laying on of hands by samak, inniti. Chrysostom saith, the Roman senate did ceirotonein touV JeouV, which Potter himself turneth, did make gods by most voices, Char. Mistak., p. 145.
2. The use of the word in this sense, and in no other sense, either in Scripture, 2 Cor. 8.19, or Greek authors that wrote before the New Testament; so that Luke could not be understood if he had used it in another sense, but he wrote so that he might be understood. If he had meant ordination, he would have used the word kaqistanai, as Acts 6.3; Tit. 1.5; or Epeqhkan taV ceiraV, as Acts 6.6.
3. The mode of election among the Grecians testified by Demosthenes, Cicero, and others, clears the meaning of the word. They had a phrase, Ceirotonia kratei, omnium suffragiis obtinet, and OudeiV ante ceirotonhsen, no man giveth a contrary vote. When the Grecians chose their magistrates at their comitia held solemnly for that end, he that was nominated was brought into the theatre before the people; so many as approved of him, held forth, or stretched forth, or lifted up their hands. If the major part did thus ceirotonein, he partly was then said to be ceirotonhtoV, a magistrate created by suffrages. So Elias, Cretensis in Greg. Nazianz. Orat. 3. I find also in Æschines, Orat. cont. Cetesipont, some decrees cited, which mention three sorts of magistrates, and among the rest touV upo tou dhmou ke ceirotonhmenouV,—Those that were made by the people's suffrage. In the argument of Demosthenes' oration (Advers. Androtion), these magistrates are called ai arcai kata ceirotonian tou dhmou ginomenai,—Magistrates made by the people's suffrage. Fronto Ducæus, in his notes upon the fifth tom. of Chrysostom, p. 3, confesseth, that, with heathen writers, ceirotonein is per suffragia creare, and therefore the word is rendered in the Tigurine version, and by Calvin, Bullinger, Beza; so doth Erasmus upon the place understand the word: Ut intelligamus (saith he) suffragiis delectos.
4. CeiroonhsanteV, joined with autoiV doth not at all make against that which I say, as some have conceived it doth, but rather for it; for autoiV here is to be rendered ipsis, not illis, and so Pasor, in the word ceirotoneiw, rendereth Acts 14.23, quumque ipsis per suffragia creassent presbyteros. So that autoiV here is used for eautoiV, that the Grecians sometimes use the one for the other. So H. Stephanus, Thes. Ling. Gr., in the word eautou, where he referreth us to Budæus for examples to prove it; see the like, Matt. 12.57; John 4.2. Thus, therefore, the text may be conceived, CeirotonhsanteV de autoiV presbuterouV kat ekklhsian, proseuxamenoi, meta nhseiaV, pareqento autouV, tw kuriw eiV on pepisteukeisan, that is, and when they (the disciples of Lystra, Iconium and Antioch) had by votes made to themselves elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them (to wit, Paul and Barnabas) to the Lord, in whom they believed. It needeth not seem strange that here, in one verse, I make autoiV to be ipsis, and autouV to be illos, and meant of different persons; for the like will frequently occur in Scripture, Mark 2.15, "As Jesus sat at meat in his (autou, that is, Levi's) house," &c. "And they watched him," (and they followed him, autw, that is, Jesus, Mark 3.) "whether he would heal him." Here is auton for Jesus, and auton for the man which had the withered hand. Gal. 1.16, "To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him;" here is autou, ipsius, for God the Father, and auton, illum, for Christ. So, then, the churches of Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, after choosing of elders, who were also solemnly set apart with prayer and fasting, were willing to let Paul and Barnabas go from them to the planting and watering of other churches, and commended them unto God, that he would open unto them a wide and effectual door, and prosper the work of Christ in their hands, Eph. 6.18,19; or they commended them unto God for their safety and preservation, as men are said to commend their own spirits to God, Luke 23.46; 1 Pet. 4.19. This sense and interpretation, which I have only offered to be considered, doth not bring any harshness, and much less offer any violence, either to the text or context in the Greek. But if another sense be liked better, whether to understand by autouV the elders ordained, or the churches commended to God by Paul and Barnabas; or to understand all the particulars mentioned in that 23d verse to be common and joint acts done by Paul, Barnabas, and the churches, that is, that they all concurred in making them elders by suffrage, in prayer and fasting, and in commending themselves to the Lord, I shall not contend, so long as the proper and native signification of ceirotonhsanteV is retained; yea, although we should understand by this word an act of Paul and Barnabas alone, distinct from the church's suffrage and consent, even in that sense we lose not the argument: for it cannot be supposed that the business was put to the lifting or stretching out hand sin signum suffragii, between Paul and Barnabas, as if it had been put to the question between them two alone, whether such a man should be an elder in such a church. But how, then, can it be an act of Paul and Barnabas? Thus if you will: Those two did ceirotonein, creare suffragiis, vel per suffragia, i.e., they ordained such men to be elders as were chosen by the church. These two made or created the elders, but the people declared by lifted-up hands whom they would have to be elders. So Calvin, Justit., lib. 4, cap. 53, sect 15; even as, saith tie, the Roman historians often tell us, that the consul who held the court did create new magistrates, i.e., did receive the votes and preside in the elections.
5. Luke doth usually mention the church's suffrage in making church officers, or in designing men to sacred employments, as Acts 1.23,26; 13.3; 15.22 So doth Paul, 1 Cor. 16.3; 2 Cor. 8.19; 1 Tim. 3.7. So that it is not likely there should be no mention of the church's election here where professedly and intentionally mention is made of planting elders. The prayer and fasting, as Acts 13.2,3, so likewise Acts 14.23, was common to the church: they prayed and fasted cum discipulis, jejunantibus, saith the Gloss. All being one work, why was not the ceirotonia common to the churches also?
6. Protestant writers draw from ceirotonhsanteV, the church's suffrage; Magdeburgians, cent. 1, lib. 2, cap. 6; Zanchius, in 4 Præc.; Beza, Cartwright, and others, on the place; Bullinger, Decad. 5, ser. 4; Junius, Contro. 5, lib. 1, cap. 7; and others, against Bellarmine, De Cler., cap. 7; Gerhard, tom. 6, p. 95; Brochmand, Systhem., tom. 2, p. 886; Danæus, in 1 Tim. 5.; Walæus, in his treatise Quibusnam Competat Vocatio Pastorum, and Loce, p. 474. Of Papists also, Salmeron expoundeth this place by Acts 6.; and saith the apostles gave the election to the churches, here of elders, as there of deacons. Bellarmine, de Cler., cap. 7, and Esthius, in 2 Cor. 8.19, confess that, if we look either to the etymology of the word, or the use of Greek authors, it is to choose by votes. If it be objected to me, that ceirotonhsanteV being referred to the people, will invest them with a judicial power, and a forensical or juridical suffrage; and where is, then, the authority of the eldership?
Answer. 1. It is like enough (though I confess not certain) that no elderships were yet erected in those churches, Acts 14.23. But put the case they had elderships; yet ceirotonhsanteV might well be referred to the people, to signify their good liking and consent; for in Athens itself; the people did ceirotonein when they did but like well the persons nominated, as when a treasurer offered some to be surety, ouV an o dhmoV ceirotonhsh , whom the people shall approve; Demosthenes advers. Timocr. In which oration it is also to be noted, that ekklhsia, the assembly, and dikashrion, the judicial court or assembly of judges, are plainly distinguished, so far that they might not be both upon one day; and that, though the people did ceirotonein, yet not they, but the hliastai, or judges, did kaqistanai archn, ordain or appoint a magistrate; see ibid. Jus Jurandum Heliastarum. As for the objection from Acts 10.41, proceirotonia is not the same with ceirotonia, but as it were the preventing of ceirotonia by a prior designation.
2. It is there attribute to God metaforikwV, that in the counsel of God the apostles were in a manner elected by voices of the Trinity, Faciamus hominem, Gen. 1.26, and hindereth no more the proper signification of the word, applied to men, than metamelia, ascribed to God, can prove that there is no change in men when they repent, because there is none in God. As for that objection made by a learned man, that even the Septuagints, Isa. 58.9, have ceirotonia, not for extensio or elevatio manuum, but for that which is in the Hebrew immissio, or innixus digiti, or manus: Answer. (1.) It is not put for innixus digiti, but for extensio digiti; for so is the text. (2.) Sanctius, following Cyril, tells us, that the sense of the LXX. turning the text so, was this: Nempe hic intelligi suffragia quibus magistratus creantur, a quibus raro solet abesse munerum largitio et corruptio juris; so that his argument may be retorted. I do not say that this is the Prophet's meaning, but that it is the LXX.'s sense of the text in using that word; for the most interpreters understand by putting forth the finger there, derision and disdain. (3.) The LXX. certainly did not intend the putting on, but the putting out of the finger; so the Chaldee hath annuere digito; Jerome, extendere digitum; which well agreeth with the Hebrew shekach, digitum extendere, i.e., malum opus perlongare, saith Hugo Cardinalis. It is, saith Emanuel Sa, minando, aut convitiando (which seemeth the true sense). The Jesuits of Doway read, and cease to stretch out the finger. Gualther readeth, emissionem digiti, and expoundeth thus, medii digiti, ostensio erat contemptus indicium, digitis item minitamur, suppose none of all these signify the laying on of the hands or finger; but suppose that it is not laid on, and so much shall suffice concerning these scriptures, Acts 6.2-6; 14.23.
3. A third argument from Scripture shall be this: If the extraordinary office-bearers in these primitive times were not chosen, nor put into their functions without the church's consent, far less ought there now to be any intrusion of ordinary ministers without the consent of the church. Judas and Silas were chosen with consent of the whole church unto an extraordinary embassage, Acts 15.22. So were Paul's company chosen by the church, 2 Cor. 8.19. The commissioners of the church of Corinth were approved by the church, 1 Cor. 16.3. Yea, Matthias, though an apostle, ugkateyhfiqh, that is, was together chosen by suffrage, namely, of the hundred and twenty disciples, Simul suffragiis electus est, as Arias Montanus rightly turneth the word, Acts 1.23,26; Bellarmine, De Cler., cap. 7, acknowledgeth, yhfizesqai est dare suffragium, et yhfisma est ipsum suffragium; Paul and Barnabas were extraordinary and immediately called of God; yet, when they were to be sent to the Gentiles, God would have the consent and approbation of the church declared, Acts 13.3. I conclude this argument from Scripture with the Magdeburgians, cent. 1, lib. 2, cap. 6, Neque apostolis, neque alios ecclesiæ ministros sibi solis, sumpsisse potestatem eligendi et ordinandi presbyteros et diaconos, sed ecclesiæ totius suffragia et consensum adhibuisse ; tum ex, 1 Cor. 3.21,22, patet, tum exemplis probatur, Acts 1.23; 6.6; 14.23.
The next argument is taken from antiquity. Cyprian, lib. 1, epist. 4, is very full and plain for the church's right and liberty in elections. D. Field, lib. 5, cap. 54, citeth and Englisheth the words at large. Leo, epist. 87, cap. 1, requireth, in the election of bishops, Vota civium, testimonia populorum, epistola synodalis concilii. Car., bar. Sussitani apud Augustinum; Enar., in Psalm 36, saith, Necesse nos fuerat Primiani causam, quem plebs sancta Carthaginensis ecclesiæ episcopum fuerat in ovile dei sortita, seniorum litteris ejusdem ecclesiæ postulantibus audire atque discutere. The Fourth Council of Carthage, can. 22, requireth to the admission of every clergyman civium assensum, et testimonium et convenientiam. Socrates, lib. 4, cap. 25, recordeth, that Ambrose was chosen bishop of Milan with the uniform voice of the church; and, lib. 6, cap. 2, he recordeth the like concerning the election of Chrysostom to be bishop of Constantinople. Moreover, I find in the pretended apostolical, but really ancient constitutions, collected by one under the name of Clemens, lib. 8, cap. 4, it is appointed to ordain a bishop thus qualified, en pasin amempton apistindhn upo pantoV tou laou eklelegmenon, in all things unblameable, one of the best, and chosen by all the people, unto whom let the people, being assembled together on the Lord's day, with the presbytery, and the bishops then present, give their consent. Then immediately one of the bishops asks the eldership and people presbuterion kai ton laon if they desire that man to be set over them; which, if they consent unto, he next asketh them (as a distinct question) whether they all give him a good testimony for his life, &c. Greg. Nazianzen, orat. 31, commendeth Athanasius' calling, as being after the apostolical example, because he was chosen yhfw tou laou pantoV, by the suffrage of all the people. The Council of Nice, in their epistle to them of Alexandria, appoint some to succeed into the vacant places monon ei axioi fainointo, kai o laoV airoito, so that they appear worthy, and the people choose them. Greg, Mag., Epist., lib. 9, cap. 74: Clerum et populum singularum civitatum hortari festina, ut inter se dissentire non debeant, sed uno sibi consensu, unaquæque civitas consecrandum eligat sacerdotem. He that would have greater store of antiquity for this, may read Blondel, Apol., p. 379-473. Gerhard citeth, for the people's right, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Origen, Isidore, yea, twelve popes, and divers ancient examples, as the election of Sabinianus, of Athanasius, Peter the successor of Athanasius, of Eradius the successor of Augustine, of Nectarius, of Ilavianus, and others, chosen with the consent of the whole church; Gerhard, Loc. Com., tom. 6, sect. 95-97. What need we to say any more of this, Bilson himself confesseth it, de Gubern. Eccles., cap. 15, p. 417; he saith the ancient form was, totam ecclesiam nominationi et probationi pastoris sui prius consensisse, quam pro electo haberetur; and he observeth (which another of his mind saith with him, Hist. of Episcopacy, part 2, p. 360), that the people did more willingly receive, more diligently hear, and more heartily love those in whose election their desires were satisfied. Bellarmine, de Cler., cap. 9, confesseth that, in the time of Chrysostom, Ambrose, Augustine, Leo, and Gregory, the received form of elections was, that both the clergy and the people should choose. Ancient testimonies for the people's election, see also Smectymnus, p. 34.
Thirdly, We argue from the judgment of sound Protestant churches and writers. The Helvetic Confession tells us that the right choosing of ministers is by the consent of the church. The Belgic Confession saith, "We believe that the ministers, seniors, and deacons, ought to be called to these their functions, and, by the lawful election of the church, to be advanced into these rooms." See both in the Harmony of Confessions, sect. 11. The French discipline we shall see afterwards. The tenet of Protestants which Bellarmine, de Cler., cap. 2, undertaketh to confute, is this: Ut sine populi consensu et suffragio, nemo legitime electus aut vocatus ad episcopatum habeatur. And although our writers disclaim many things which he imputeth unto them, yet I find not this disclaimed by any of them who write against him. It is plainly maintained by Luther, lib. de Potest. Papæ; Calvin, in Acts 6.3; Beza, Confess., cap. 5, art. 35; Musculus, in Loc. Com.; Zanchius, in 4 Præcept.; Junius, Animad. in Bell., Contro. 5, lib. 1, cap. 7; Cartwright, on Acts 14.23; Osiander, Hist. Eccles., cent. 4, lib. 3, cap. 38; Gualther, on Acts 6.; Stutonius Fazius, in 1 Tim. 5.22; Morney, de Eccles., cap. 11; Balduine, de Instit. Ministrorum, cap. 6; Brochmand, System, tom. 2, p. 885,886; Walæus, de Vocatione Pastorum, and in Loc. Com., p. 474; Bullinger, Decad. 5, ser. 3, p. 300; Smectymnus, p. 33,34; Whittaker, in his manuscript, de Clericis, which was never printed, ascribeth election to the people; so Festus Homius, Specimen. Controv. Belgic., art. 31, and many others, whose testimonies we can produce if need be.
Let five only speak for the rest:—Calvin, in one of his epistles, though writing against the itching ears and groundless conceits of some people, yet asserteth this for a certain truth: Sane oportet ministrum a populo approbatum esse, antequam in ministerii possessionem mittatur, quod si quis seipsum intrudit alia via, ubi in ecclesia ordo jam constitutus est, legitima vocatione destituitur; see the Book of Epistles, p. 482, Edit. Genev., 1617. Gerhard, tom. 6, p. 95, Ut Ecclesia consentiente pastores vocentur, neve quis invitæ ecclesiæ obtrudatur; habet expressa in Scripturis testimonia, et perpetua ecclesies primitivæ praxi comprobatum est. Zanchius, in 4 Præc., col. 81, saith, Est igitur manifestum nunquam apostolos quempiam ad ministerium elegisse et ordinasse sua tantum authoritate, sed semper id solites facere consentiente et approbante ecclesia; and col. 782: Servatur hæc eadem consuetudo etiamnum in multis ecclesiis reformatis; and col. 783: Eligere pastores sine plebis consensu, primum non est apostolicum, neque legitimum, eoque talis minister: legitimus non fuerit minister, deinde pugnat cum libertate ecclesiæ, eoque adimitur ei quod Christus donavit, quantum autem est hoc crimen? Tertio non conducit pastori, quia nunquam bona conscientia poterit suo fungi officio, neque etiam conducit ecclesiæ, qua libenter non audiet, neque etiam, amabit eum, qui sibi non consentienti obtrusus est. Danæus, in 1 Tim. 5.22: Quemadmodum totius ecclesiæ pastor est futurus, ita ab omnibus debet approbari, ne quisquam gregi invito pastor obtrudatur. And after he hath cleared the whole matter at length, he concludeth, Ex his autem omnibus apparet, quam nulla sit vel non legitima eorum Dei ministrorum, vel ecclesiæ pastorum vocatio, qui solius regis vel reginæ, vel patroni, vel episcopi, archi-episcopi authoritate, diplomate, bullis, jussu, et judicio fiunt vel eliguntur, id quod dolendum est adhuc fieri in iis ecclesiis, quæ tamen purum Dei verbum habent, et sequuntur, veluti in media Anglia. The Professors of Leyden, in Synops. Pur. Theol., disp. 42, thes. 32, Jus pastores eligendi, est penes ecclesiam, ac proinde plebi commune, cum presbyteris; jus eos ordinandi soli presbyterio est proprium. I must not forget to mention the order of the church of Scotland. The First Book of Discipline, in the fourth head, saith, "This liberty, with all care, must be reserved to every several kirk, to have their votes and suffrages in election of their ministers." The Second Book of Discipline, cap. 3, saith, "In the order of election, it is to be eschewed that any person be intruded in any offices of the kirk contrary to the will of the congregation to which they are appointed, or without the voice of the eldership. The General Assembly at Edinburgh, Dec. 1562, sess. 3, made this act, "that inhibition shall be made to all and sundry persons, now serving in the ministry, that have not been presented by the people, or apart thereof, to the superintendent." The General Assembly at Edinburgh, May 1586, sess. 5, requireth the consent of the whole parish to a minister's election. The words are these: "Anent the doubt moved, if it be lawful to any town or city where there is an university, and a part of the parish of the same town lying to landward, without their consent and votes to elect a minister to the whole parish and university, pretending the privilege of an old use and custom, the kirk hath voted thereto negative, that it is not lawful to do so." The General Assembly at Perth, in March 1596, sess. 6, doth forbid the choosing of ministers without the consent of their own flocks. The General Assembly at Glasgow, sess. 23, art. 20, doth revive the ancient order thus: "Anent the presenting either of pastors, or elders and schoolmasters, to particular congregations, that there be a respect had to the congregation, and that no person be intruded in any office of the kirk contrary to the will of the congregation to which they are appointed." In the Treatise called The Order and Government of the Church of Scotland (published anno 1641, for information of the English, and for removing and preventing all prejudices which the best affected amongst them had, or might conceive, against our church government), we have these words, p. 8: "So that no man is here intruded upon the people against their open or tacit consent and approbation, or without the voices of the particular eldership with whom he is to serve in the ministry." And now, if, in any congregation of Scotland, the practice should be contrary to the profession and rule established (which God forbid, and I hope it never shall) it were a double fault and scandal. Finally, the order of the church of Scotland is strengthened by the civil law of the kingdom. For the second parliament of king Charles, act 7, did ordain presbyteries to plant vacant kirks with consent of the parishes; and act 8, anent the presbyteries providing and admitting ministers to the kirks which belonged to bishoprics, it is always provided, that this be without prejudice of the interest of the parishes, according to the acts and practice of the kirk since the Reformation. In the 9th act of the last session of the same parliament, presbyteries are appointed to plant vacant churches upon the suit and calling of the congregation.
In the fourth place, the point is confirmed from sound reason. For, (1.) It is very expedient, for the credit and better success of the ministry, that a bishop have a good name and testimony even among them that are without, as the Apostle teacheth, 1 Tim. 3.7. It is much more necessary that he be well liked and approved of them that are within the church. (2.) It is a common maxim among the fathers, schoolmen, and summists, Quod ad omnes pertinet omnium consensu fieri debet. (3.) As the free consent of people, in the election, is a great obligation and engagement, both to them to subject themselves in Christian and willing obedience to him whom they have willingly chosen to be over them in the Lord, and to the person elected to love them and to offer up himself gladly upon the service and sacrifice of their faith; so where this obligation or mutual union of the hearts of pastor and people is wanting, mutual duties are not done gnhsiwV, but as it were by constraint and necessity, they in the meantime drawing back from the yoke, and he at the best watching over them, not with joy, but with grief and sorrow of heart. (4.) Instead of peace and harmony, there shall be contention and contradiction. Gerhard, tom. 6, p. 105, Ministros vocari cum consensu et suffragiis ecclesiæ cui præficiuntur, alit mutuam concordiam inter auditores et pastores, summe necessariam, amovet etiam dissidia ex neglectu hujus ordinis metuenda. (5.) It breedeth great peace and confidence when one is thus called. Whittaker, de Ecclesia, quest. 5, cap. 6, defendeth the calling of Luther, Zuinglius, Oecolampadius, &c., upon this ground, Quia sunt a populis et gregibus vocati. (6.) Experience hath made men to know the comfortable fruits of free election, and the unhappy success of violent intrusion. Constantius, the son of Constantine, did put orthodox bishops from their places, and substitute Arians in their room, with the contradiction and reluctation of the churches. The like did Papists in the Palatinate, and other places, where their Dagon was set up again. So did the authors and urgers of the Interim in Germany. So did the prelates in Scotland, England, Ireland. Upon all which intrusions many unspeakable evils did follow. If we, after a second reformation, should now permit violent intrusions, this might well be a prologue to much confusion and disorder.
Lastly, I argue from the confessions of adversaries themselves. We have cited before the confession of Bilson, and of the author of The History of Episcopacy, and of Salmeron: I will add Peresius, de Traditionibus, who undertaketh to confute the Protestant tenet, that it belongeth to the people to elect or reject their ministers. He argueth from antiquity, and yet in that same argumentation he is constrained to speak for us; for speaking of the three bishops which, by the ancient canons, might ordain a bishop, he saith, Verum tamen est quod episcopi isti qui ad electionem congregabantur, consensum expectabant cleri et populi ut in concilio Carthaginensi quarto refertur, qui consensus magis erat testificatio vitæ ejus qui erat ordinandus, et signum quoddam expressivum ejus desiderii, quod volebat Paulus quando bonum testimonium populi dicebat expectandum ante ordinationem. Et infra. Hoc enim modo magis pretiosus esset illis prælatus, magisque amabilis, ne cogerentur inviti inutiles homines, et interdum perniciosos suis sudoribus alere. And, answering to the passage of Cyprian, lib. 2, epist. 5, he saith, That though he hath not read of it, yet forte erat mos tempore ejus in ecclesis Hispaniarum (for they were two Spanish bishops of whom Cyprian writes in that epistle) ut aliqui ex populo vocem haberent, electivam. Quod vero dicit populum posse recusare indignos, etiam fassi sumus, quantum ad electionem si indignitas ordinandi sit nota et populo perniciosa. But what saith the canon law itself? Decr., part 1, dest. 62, Electio clericorum est petitio plebis. He was a popish archbishop who condescended that the city of Magdeburg should have jus vocandi et constituendi ecclesiæ ministros; neither would the city admit of peace without this condition, Thuan. Hist., lib. 83, p. 85. I had almost forgot Dr Field, Of the Church, lib. 5, cap. 54, confessing plainly that each people and church "stand free by God's law to admit, maintain, and obey no man as their pastor without their liking; and that the people's election, by themselves or their rulers, dependeth on the first principles of human fellowships and assemblies; for which cause the bishops, by God's law, have power to examine and ordain before any man be placed to take charge of souls, yet have they no power to impose a pastor upon any church against their wills." He citeth divers testimonies of antiquity to show that the ancient elections were by the church, or the greater part thereof.
It remaineth to answer some objections. And, first, it is objected that this is a tenet of Anabaptists, Independents, and Separatists. Answer. But shall we condemn these truths which either they, or Papists, or Arians do hold? Quid est, saith Cyprian, quia hoc facit Novatianus ut nos non putemus esse faciendum? We may go one mile with the Scriptures, though we go not two miles with the Independents, or three miles with the Anabaptists or Separatists. (2.) Neither, in this same point of elections, do we homologate with them who give to the collective body of the church (women and children under age only excepted) the power of decisive vote and suffrage in elections, we give the vote only to the eldership or church representative, so that they carry along with them the consent of the major or better part of the congregation. Gamachæus, in Primam Secundæ, quest. 15, tells us out of Thomas this difference betwixt consent and election, that though every choosing be a consenting, yet every consenting is not a choosing. The liberty of consent is one thing; counsel or deliberation another thing; the power of a decisive voice in court or judicatory a third thing. I speak of a constituted church (for where there is not yet an eldership there can be no such distinction; yet, however, be there an eldership, or be there none, the church's consent must be had). The first of these we ascribe to the whole church, without whose knowledge and consent ministers may not be intruded; the second to the ablest and wisest men of the congregation, especially to magistrates, with whose special advice, privity, and deliberation, the matter ought to be managed; the third, which is the formal and consistorial determination of the case of election, consisteth in the votes of the eldership. Their way is much different from this, who would have the matter prepared by the conference and deliberation of the eldership (as we use to do in committees), but determined and decided by the votes of the whole congregation. (3.) Let them speak for us who have particularly written against the Separatists and Independents. Laget, in his Defence of Church Government, part 1, cap. 1, in the stating of the question about popular government, declareth that the question is not whether, in matters of greater importance and more public concernment (as admissions, excommunications, and absolutions of members, elections, and depositions of officers), the case ought to be made known unto, and determined with the free consent of the people (for all this he willingly granteth), but whether every cause to be determined ought to be brought to the multitude or body of the congregation, and they to give their voices therein together with the officers of the church.
Mr. Herle, the reverend and learned prolocutor of the Assembly of divines at Westminster, in his treatise entitled, The Independency on Scriptures, of the Independency of the Churches, p. 3, while he stateth the question, saith, "We acknowledge that the pastors and other officers were anciently, and it is to be wished they still were, chosen, at least consented to, by the members of each respective congregation, but that they are to be ordained, deposed, or excommunicated by the presbytery," &c. Moreover, they of the separation, and if not all, yet, sure, some Independents, place the whole essentiality of a calling in election, accounting ordination to be no more but the solemnization of the calling. We say, exousia, or the missio potestativa, or the power and commission given to a man, by which he is made of no minister to be a minister, is not from the church's electing him, but from the lawful ordaining him; and that election doth but design such a person to the ministry of such a church. For as Gamachæus saith, in tertiam partem Thomæ de Sacr. Ordin., cap. 7, the people cannot give spiritual authority which themselves have not. Et quamvis fateamur, saith he, laicos sæpissime vocatos ad electionem ministrorum ecclesiæ, tamen longe est aliud loqui de ordinatione, quam de electione, &c.
Obj. 2. This liberty granted to congregations prejudgeth the right of patrons. Answer. 1. If it were so, yet the argument is not pungent in divinity, for why should not human right give place to divine right? Nec episcopale nec patronatus jus ecclesiasticis canonibus introductum præjudicare potest potestati jure divino toti ecclesiæ in ministrorum electione competenti, saith Gerhard, tom. 6, sect. 114. The states of Zealand did abolish patronages, and give to each congregation the free election of their own minister, which I take to be one cause why religion flourisheth better there than in any other of the united provinces.
Obj. 3. The church's liberty of consenting or not consenting, asserted by the arguments above mentioned, must ever be understood to be rational, so that the church may not disassent without objecting somewhat against the doctrine or life of the person presented. Answer. 1. The author of The History of Episcopacy, part 6, p. 362, 364, tells us out of the book of ordination, that the people are free to except against those that are to be ordained, and are required, if they know any crime for which they ought not to be received into the ministry, to declare the same. He saith further, that presbyters are elected by the patrons, for, and in the name of, the rest of the people, p. 365; so Peresius, de Tradit., part 3, p. 200, confesseth that people should be required to object what they can against the fitness of the man to be ordained. Now, then, if this be all, that people may object, it is no more than prelates, yea, Papists, have yielded. Answer. 2. This objection cannot strike against the election of a pastor by the judgment and votes of the particular eldership of that church where he is to serve; for it is evident by the scriptures, testimonies, and reasons above specified, not only that the church hath liberty of disassenting upon grounds and causes objected, but that the eldership hath power and liberty positive to elect (by voices) their ministers. Now men vote in elderships (as in all courts and consistories) freely, according to the judgment of their conscience, and are not called to an account for a reason of their votes. (3.) As the vote of the eldership is a free vote, so is the congregation's consent a free consent, and the objection holdeth no more against the latter than against the former; for they are both jointly required by the church of Scotland, as appeareth by the citations foresaid. (4.) Any man (though not a member of the congregation) hath place to object against the admission of him that is presented, if he know such an impediment as may make him incapable either at all of the ministry, or the ministry of that church to which he is presented; so that unless the congregation have somewhat more than liberty of objecting, they shall have no privilege or liberty but that which is common to strangers as well as to them. In this fourth answer I am confirmed by Blondel, a man entrusted and set apart by the national synod of the reformed churches of France, for writing and handling of controversies. In his Apologia pro Sententia Hieronym, p. 383, replying to Bellarmine, who would enervate Cyprian's testimonies (for the people's right to choose their ministers) by this evasion which I now speak to, saith, Nec putidum in gravi Scriptore commentum ferendum, populum habere potestatem eligendi et suffragium ferendi, quia potest dicere siquid noverit boni vel mali de ordinando, et sic testimonio sue efficere ut non eligatur: quasi vero is eligendi et suffragium ferendi potestate præditus eaque usus dici debeat, qui id tantum prestat, quod omni electionis et suffragii jure absolute carens præstare (quando cunque libet) potest, aut oris quisquam adeo duri reperiatur ut infidelium pessimos quicquid boni vel mali de ordinando noverint dicere, et sic testimonio sue ut non eligatur efficere posse negare audeat, habebunt scilicet ex adversarii hypothesi, æquo cum fidelibus jure, eligendi et suffragium ferendi potestatem. (5.) Though nothing be objected against the man's doctrine or life, yet if the people desire another better, or as well qualified, by whom they find themselves more edified than by the other, that is a reason sufficient (if a reason must be given at all), and it is allowed by Danæus in 1 Tim. 5.22, and by the First Book of Discipline, in the fourth head. (6.) It being condescended upon in the parliament of Scotland, that his Majesty, with consent and advice the estates, should nominate the officers of estate, the estates of parliament were pressed to give a reason of their disassenting from his Majesty's nomination, but they refused; and, I am sure, consenting or not consenting, in a matter ecclesiastical, ought to be as free, if not more free, than in a matter civil.
Obj. 4. This course may prove very dangerous for an apostatizing congregation; for a people inclining to heresy or schism will not consent to the admission of an orthodox and sound minister. Answer. (1.) The intrusion of ministers against the congregation's will, doth more generally and universally draw after it great evils and inconveniences. (2.) The corruptions of many patrons, and, peradventure, also some presbyteries, may be more powerful to intrude insufficient or unsound ministers than the unsoundness or error of this or that particular congregation, can be to hinder the admission of them that are sound. (3.) We shall heartily accord that an heretical or a schismatical church hath not just right to the liberty and privilege of a sound church. (4.) Zanchius, in 4 Præc., col. 784, would have a congregation, infected with heresy or superstition, before there be a ministry settled among them, to be first convinced of their error by some other pastor sent unto them by the Christian magistrate for a time, and, extraordinarily, as a kind of evangelist. At vero, saith he, cum constitutæ sunt et formatæ veræ ecclesiæ, cur tunc saltem, non relinquitur illis libertas eligendi suos pastores?
Obj. 5. People do often err in their choice, and cannot judge of the qualifications and abilities of pastors, but follow blindly the humours of their lords or leaders. Answer. (1.) We must believe what Christ saith, John 10.4,5, that his sheep know his voice, and a stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him. (2.) There are also in presbyteries, and in all judicatories, some leading men whose judgment is much respected and hearkened unto. (3.) He that followeth another is not ever blind: a people may follow leading men, and yet see with their own eyes too. (4.) When Bellarmine objecteth that a people cannot judge whether a man be fit for the ministry, Junius, Animad., contr. 5, lib. 1, cap. 7, not. 24, answereth, that the congregation judgeth not simply and absolutely whether one be fit for the ministry, but whether he be fit to serve in the ministry among them; which two are so different, that of two men offered to a congregation, he that is absolutely and simply the best qualified for the ministry is not to be for that cause admitted hic et nunc, but he who is fittest for that congregation. Now, a rude and ignorant people can judge which of the two speaketh best to their capacity and edification. (5.) When any congregation makes choice of an unfit or dangerous person, against whom there is just exception to be made, they must not, therefore, be robbed of their right, but called upon to make a better choice. This right people had from a pope. Greg., Mag. Epist., lib. 6, epist. 38: Habitatores Lucensis civitaris queudam ad nos presbyterum adduxerunt, qui eis debuisset episcopus ordinari, sed quia minime dignus inventus est nec diu sine proprio possunt consistere sacerdote; a nobis admoniti in scrinio promisserunt alium studiose quærere, &c.
Obj. 6. Seldom or never shall a congregation be found all of one mind, and because this might be answered in the words of Gregorius, de Valentia in Iam Secundæ, disput. 7, quæst. 5, punct. 5, Nam moraliter loquendo illud tota communitas facere censetur quod facit major ipsius pars; therefore, to make the objection stronger, it may be further added, that oftentimes the greater part shall overcome the better part, because, in every corporation, there are more bad than good, more foolish than wise. This inconveniency is objected by Bellarmine, de Clericis, cap. 7, who tells us further, that popular elections are subject to tumults and seditions. We answer with Junius, ubi supra, not. 23, 27, (1.) Inconveniences do also follow upon elections made by presbyteries and patrons without the people's consent. (2.) De incommodis prudenter curandis, non de re sancta mutanda temere, sapientes videre oportuit. (3.) For avoiding inconvenience of this kind, it is to be remembered, that the congregation ought to be kept in unity and order (so far as may be) by the directions and precedence of their elders, and by the assistance of brethren chosen out of other churches, when need so requireth. (4.) Zanchius, ubi supra, col. 783, answereth out of Calvin, Præsideant plebi in electione alii pastores, et cum illis etiam magistratus conjungatur, qui compescat tumultuantes et seditiosos; wherein there is great need of caution, lest, under pretence of suppressing tumults, the church's liberty of consenting or not consenting be taken away; as, upon the other part, the election is not to be wholly and solely permitted to the multitude or body of the church; which is the meaning of the 13th canon of the council of Laodicea, as it is expounded by Osiander, Gerhard, Junius, and others. (5.) When a congregation is rent asunder, and cannot agree among themselves, this evil may be helped in subordinate, though not in independent churches; for the higher consistories, the presbyteries and assemblies of the church, can end the controversy and determine the case, after hearing of both sides.
Obj. 7. As for that which may reflect on ministers that have not the people's consent. Answer. (1.) It is ordination that maketh men ministers; and the want of the church's suffrage cannot hinder their being ministers, it concludeth only that they do not rite and ordinate enter into their ministry hic et nunc in such a church. (2.) This is also helped by a posterior approbation of the church, as a woman marrying a man unwillingly, yet after loving him as her husband, removeth that impediment.
I conclude with a passage out of the Ecclesiastical Discipline of the Reformed Churches in France, cap. 1, "The silence of the people, none contradicting, shall be taken for an express consent; but in case there arise any contention, and he that is named should be liked by the consistory, and disliked by the people, or by most part of them, his reception is then to be delayed, and report of all to be made unto the conference or provincial synod, to consider as well the justification of him that is named, as of his rejection. And although he that is named should there be justified, yet he is not to be made or given as a pastor to the people against their will, nor to the dislike, displeasure, and discontent of most of them." Nay, the popish French church hath no less zealously stood for their liberty in this point, in so much, that the intrusion of men into ecclesiastical charges by the Pope himself hath been openly opposed, as shall most fully appear to any who shall read the book entitled, Pro libertate Ecclesiæ Gallicanæ Adversus Romanam Aulam Defensio, Parisiensis Curiæ, Ludovico Undecimo Gallorum Regi Quondam Oblata; in which they do assert, against the papal usurpations, the liberty of elections both by clergy and people. Their reasons are these, among others: Cum episcopus ecclesiæ sponsus sit, et matrimonium quoddam spirituale inter ipsum et ecclesiam contrahatur necessario consensus ecclesiæ intervenire debet. And after: Cum episcopus solemniter a collegio eligitur, confirmaturque servata programmatum et inquisitionum forma, eo certe major est populi de eo existimatio, magisque eum venerantur, observant et diligunt populares, quam si ipsis invitis obtrudatur. Ideoque doctrina ejus longe fructuosior est, et ad edificandum multo efficacior. Hinc tametsi Petrus Christi vicarius esset, et caput ecclesiæ; tamen mortuo Juda qui unus apostolorum erat cæteri omnes pariter elegerunt, et sors cecidit super Matthiam, ut in Actis Apostolorum legitur. Lucius Pontifex Romanus vir sanctus, et Martyr, qui ecclesiæ Romanæ præfuit anno 154, ita decrevit: Nullus in ecclesia ubi duo vel tres fuerunt in congregatione, nisi eorum electione canonica, presbyter eligatur, &c. The same thing doth Duranus, De Sacr. Eccles. Minist., lib. 5, cap. 1, confirm, not only from the ancient canons, but from the election of Matthias, Acts 1., and that of the deacons, Acts 6.