To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken.—Jer. 6.10


is contrary to

The Word of God.

being the 10th chapter of





Of the


VVherin the Tenets of the principall

Sects, eſpecially of the Independents, are drawn to-

gether in one Map, for a the moſt part, in the words of

their own Authours, and their maine principles

are examined by the Touch-ſtone of

the Holy Scriptures.

By ROBERT BAYLIE Miniſter at Glaſgow.

LONDON, &c.  1645. Editor’s Introduction.

A few of the chapters of this book were prepared for online and uploaded here back in 2002 and 2003.  Finally, after 17 years, another chapter is prepared on one of the main positions involved in the system addressed by Baillie’s Dissuasive from the Errors of the Time.  The chapter below works into an increasingly definitive proof that individual Christian congregations are not meant to be without the benefit of one another’s government and oversight.  As the discussion is progressive, and progressively convincing, the reader is urged to finish the chapter if it is begun, or at least to make a fair survey of both the arguments for Presbyterian government in the beginning, and also the answers to the objections against it found towards the end.  In other chapters, Baillie addresses a variety of doctrines often held among Independents and Congregationalists, as well as some of their history.  This chapter addresses the core issue of the local congregation’s supposed right to operate without accountability to authoritative oversight, urged by Independents and Baptists in former times, and by Non-Denominational churches in the present day.



Independency is contrary to the Word of God.

THe Divine Wisdom which found it expedient for man before the Fall, not to live alone, hath made it much more needful for man to live in Society after his weakening by sin; Woe to him that is alone, for if he fall who shall raise him up? [Eccl. 4.10.]  The best wits of themselves are prone to errors and miscarriages, and left alone, are inclined to run on in any evil way they have once begun: But engagement in fellowship, especially with the Saints, is a preservative against the beginnings of evil, and a retractive therefrom when begun.  Every gracious neighbour is a Counsellor and Pedagogue, the greater the incorporation is of such, the better is every Member directed and the more strengthened.  Hence the goodness of God hath ordained not only the planting of particular men into a small body of one single Congregation, but for the greater security both of Persons and Congregations, the Lord hath increased that Communion of Churches by binding neighbour Congregations in a larger and stronger Body of a Presbytery, or Classis; yea a number of Presbyteries by the same hand of God are combined in a Synod; neither this only, but for the strengthening of every stone and of the whole building, the Lord hath appointed the largest societies that are possible, the very Church universal and the representation thereof, an Oecumenick Assembly.  This congregative way is divine; the dissolution of human societies, especially of Ecclesiastick Assemblies, must be from another Spirit.

The first we know to have opposed the holy Societies we speak of, were Anabaptists, who liking a Catholick anarchy in all things, and pressing an universal liberty, did strive to cut in pieces all the bands, as of Politick and Oeconomick union whereby Kingdoms and States, Cities and Families did stand, so also of the Ecclesiastick conjunction, making every person at last fully free from all servitude, and simply independent, or uncontrolable in any of his own opinions or desires, by any mortal man. {197}

Their first follower among the reformed, was one John Moreau a Parisian, who in the French Churches did vent the Independency of Congregations from Synods, and the popular government of these Independent Congregations: But his schismatick pamphlet came no sooner abroad than the French Divines did most unanimously trample upon it.  In their general Assembly at Rochell, most Reverend Beza Moderator for the time, and in their next Assembly, Learned Sadeell with others, did so fully confute these Anabaptistick follies, that thereafter in France this evil Spirit did never so much as whisper; only in Holland, in the Arminian times, it began to speak by the tongue of Grotius, and others of his fellows, who being conscious to themselves of Tenets whereunto they despaired the assent of any Synod, yea fearing to be prejudged in the propagation of their errors by a cross Sentence of a National Assembly, did set themselves to call in question, and at last to deny the Authority and Jurisdiction of all Church meetings.  But when the goodness of God in that happy Synod of Dort, did crush the other errors of that Party, this their fancy did evanish, and since in these bounds hath been buried in Oblivion.  By what means this Anabaptistick root which neither France nor Holland could bear, when Grotius and Morellius did assay to plant it; doth thrive so well in England, after Brown and Barrow with their followers did become its dressers, I have declared at length before.

However the Novelty of the Tenet, the Infamy of its Authors, the evil success it hath had wherever yet it hath set up the head, doth burden it with so just contempt, that all further audience might be denied thereto; yet in this impudent and malapert [presumptuous, audacious] age, where the greatest absurdities will importunately ingyre [push, obtrude] themselves, and require belief as unanswerable and most convincing truths, unless in a full hearing their naughtiness be demonstrate, we are content without all prejudices to reason the matter itself from the ground, and to require no man to hate this error for its Authors, or any external consideration, unless it be clearly shown to be contrary to the revealed will of God.

The state of the Question hath no perplexity, if its terms were cleared.  The Brownists affirm that every Parish Church, that {198} every single Congregation, is Independent from any Presbytery, any Synod, any Assembly: This we deny, affirming the true dependence and subordination of Parochial Congregations to Presbyteries, and of these to Synods: to which we ascribe power, authority, and Jurisdiction.

Before we fall to reasoning, let us understand the words, which in this debate do frequently occur.  First, what is a Parochial Church, or single Congregation.  Secondly, What is its independence.  Thirdly, What is a Presbytery, and a Presbyterial Church.  Fourthly, What is a Synod.  Fifthly. What is Authority and Jurisdiction Ecclesiastical.  We intend no definitions, but such popular descriptions as may make clear what the parties use to understand by these words.

[ Congregation Defined ]

A particular Church, a Parish or Congregation in this Question, is taken for a company of faithful people, every one whereof in the face of the whole Congregation, hath given so clear tokens of their true grace and regeneration, as hath satisfied the mind of all: A company, I say, incorporate by a particular Covenant and Oath to exercise all the parts of Christian Religion, in one place under one Pastor: Our Opposites affirm, that in one Church there must be but one Pastor, assisted indeed with a Doctor, and three or four Elders, yet no more Pastors but one.  They will admit into a Church no more people than commodiously, and at their ease, may convene in one house; how few they be they care not; ten families, or forty persons to them are a faire Church: you have heard that some of their Churches have been within the number of four persons.

[ Independency Defined ]

Independency is the full liberty of such a Church to discharge all the parts of Religion, Doctrine, Sacraments, Discipline, and all within itself without all dependence, all subordination to any other on earth, more or fewer, so that the smallest Congregation, suppose of three persons, though it fall into the grossest heresies, may not be controlled by any Orthodox Synod, were it Oecumenick of all the Churches on earth.

[ Presbytery Defined ]

A Presbytery, as it is called in Scotland, or a Classis, as in Holland, or a Collogue, as in France, is an ordinary meeting of the Pastors of the Churches nearly neighbouring, & of the ruling Elders deputed therefrom, for the exercise chiefly of discipline, so far {199} as concerns these neighbouring Churches in common.

[ Presbyterial Church Defined ]

A Presbyterial Church, is a company of Professors governed by one Presbytery, who for the exercise of Religion meet in diverse places, or who have more Pastors than one.

[ Synod Defined ]

A Synod, is a convention of Pastors and Elders sent and deputed from diverse Presbyteries, meeting either ordinarily or upon occasion for the affairs that are common to those that sent them.

[ Ecclesiastick Jurisdiction Defined ]

Ecclesiastick Jurisdiction, is a right and power, not only by advice to counsel and direct, but by authority given of God, to enjoin and to perform according to the rule of Scriptures these things which concern the Ordination of Ministers, the deciding of Ecclesiastical Causes, the determination of Doctrines, the inflicting of Censures, &c.  The signification of these words being presupposed, the state of the Question, or mind of the parties, can not be obscure.

[ Marg: That single Congregations are not Independent is proved; first, from the 1 Tim. 4.14, because they have not the right of Ordination. ]

The first Argument for the truth I cast into this Form.  Every Independent Church hath always, and ordinarily, the right of Ordination, and power to lay hands on Pastors.  But, no single Congregation, or Parochial Church hath that right and power.  Ergo, No single Congregation is an Independent Church.  The Major is not questioned by the adverse party, for they place the nature of their Independency in a right and power intrinsical and essential to every the least Congregation of Ordaining, Deposing, Excommunicating, and exercising all acts of Jurisdiction upon all their own Members, as well Pastors as others.  I said always, and ordinarily, for we question not now what at some times in some extraordinary cases may fall out to be lawful and necessary, not only to single Congregations, but even to single persons: Also the power which our adverse party disputeth for, is not Hypothetick, which sometimes on supposition of such and such cases belongeth to a Church, but absolute, which is inherent to every Congregation at all times.

[ Marg: Ordination belongs to the Presbytery. ]

The Minor we prove thus: What is proper to a Presbytery the right thereof belongs not to any single Congregation: But Ordination, and imposition of hands is proper to a Presbytery, as appeareth from 1 Tim. 4.14, Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by Prophesy with the laying on of the hands of {200} the Presbytery.  The Apostle maketh that right proper to the Presbytery, which he will have to remain in it, and not to be removed therefrom, notwithstanding sundry extraordinary cases which might have excused the removal of it.  For Timothy was a Pastor not altogether ordinary, and inferior, but an Evangelist; he had for the ground of his Office the extraordinary call of some Prophets when he was sent out to Preach, Paul himself laid hands upon him; notwithstanding all this, that the due and just right of the Presbytery might be proclaimed, the Apostle marketh that the gift, office, and grace of Preaching the Gospel was conferred on Timothy by the laying on of the Presbytery’s hands.

For the proof of the last Major, we need not much descant on the Word Presbytery, and the sense of it in the fore-named place, nor to refute the misinterpretations which some make of it, especially they, who under the mis-alledged authority of Calvin, would understand not the convention of any men, but the Office of a Presbyter, as if an Office or any accident could have had hands which might have been laid on Timothy’s head.  Passing therefore such digressions, we prove the Major in hand, thus: No single Congregation is a Presbytery, nor any ways necessarily hath a Presbytery within itself; yea if our adverse party may be believed, no Congregation can have, at least should have in itself such a Presbytery whereof Paul speaketh.  Ergo. What is proper to a Presbytery, the right thereof may not be usurped by any single Congregation.  Of the consequence there is no doubt: the Antecedent hath three parts: only the first is needful to be proved; but for more abundant satisfaction, we shall assay to prove them all.

[ Marg: No Congregation is a Presbytery. ]

The first, thus; A Presbytery is a member and part of a Congregation, according to our adverse party (we love not to strive for words, be it so that the meeting of a Minister and Elders governing single Congregations, which we call a Session, as over-Sea it is called a Consistory, may go under the name of a Presbytery)  Ergo. No Congregation is a Presbytery.  The Consequence is clear, for no member may be affirmed in the Nominative of its own whole, especially Heterogeneous: The body is not the head, the finger is not the hand; the door, or the Window is not the house.

[ Marg: No Congregation hath within itself necessarily a Presbytery. ]

Concerning the second part of the Antecedent, that no Congregation {201} hath a Presbytery any ways necessarily within itself, this is clear from the common practice of our adverse party: very oft their Churches have neither Session, nor Pastor, nor Doctor, nor Elder at all; they make not any of the Officers necessary parts of the Church either essential or integral, without the which the Church may not subsist; yea, as the most learned, and most acute Mr. Rutherford hath well observed, page 272, their grounds take away the necessity of any Ministry at all.  Mr. Paget tells us that their chief and Mother-Church at Amsterdam, through the mis-government of their Pastor, Mr. Can, hath wanted now for some years both a Doctor and Elders and a Session, or Congregational Presbytery.

[ Marg: No single Congregation ought to have within itself Paul’s Presbytery. ]

But the pith of the Argument is in the third part of the Antecedent, that no single Congregation can have, or (which is all one when we speak of right and wrong) ought to have within itself Paul’s Presbytery.  This we prove. No single Congregation may, or ought to have more Pastors than one.  Ergo. Neither Paul’s Presbytery.  The Antecedent is the Doctrine of our adverse party.  The Consequence leaneth on this Proposition.  In Paul’s Presbytery are more Pastors, which thus is proved: Where there are many layers on of hands on Pastors, there are many Pastors: But, in Paul’s Presbytery are many layers on of hands on Pastors; for in the alleged place, not one, but many lay on their hands with Paul on Timothy.  The last Major leaneth on this ground, that only Pastors lay hands on Pastors, so that many laying hands on Pastors, must be many Pastors, and by Consequence, in one Congregation, where there are not many, but one only Pastor, (yea none at all whensoever by imposition of hands a new Pastor is to be ordained to that Congregation,) the act of Ordination can not be lawfully performed by the proper members of that Congregation.

[ Marg: Only Pastors lay hands on Pastors. ]

That which alone remaineth to be proved, that only Pastors lay hands upon Pastors, is cleared by an Induction, against which no instance can be brought: 1 Tim. 5.22, Lay hands suddenly on no man.  2 Tim. 1.6. Stir up the gift of God that is in thee, by the putting on of my handsTitus 1.5, I left thee in Crete that thou shouldest ordain EldersActs 13.1.3, Certain Prophets and Teachers laid their hands upon them, and sent them away.  Acts 14.23. They {202} ordained them Elders in every Church.  In all these places both the first Ordination, and posterior Mission to preach the Gospel, is the Act only of those who were Pastors, neither else-where read we that it was otherwise.

[ Marg: The second Argument. ]

The second argument: Every Independent Church, exerciseth ordinarily within itself, by its own members all acts of Ecclesiastick Jurisdiction.  But, this no single Congregation doth ordinarily.  Ergo, no single Congregation is an Independent Church.  Only the Minor is dubious, which we prove thus; Every Church ordinarily exercising all acts of Ecclesiastick Jurisdiction is Presbyteriall: But, no single Congregation is a Presbyteriall Church. Ergo.  No single Congregation exerciseth ordinarily all acts of Ecclesiastick Jurisdiction.  The Minor is clear from the nature of a single Congregation and Presbyteriall Church, as in the stating of the Question both were described.  The Major is proved by a full Induction of all the Churches which in the New Testament we read to have had the full exercise of all Ecclesiastick Jurisdiction; that all such were Presbyteriall and not Congregationall; We prove it thus: A Church which cannot all convene in one house for the publick Service of God, a Church which hath more Pastors than one, is Presbyteriall, not Congregationall, according to the grounds of our Adversaries.  But all the Churches we read of in the New Testament to have had the full exercise of all Ecclesiastick Jurisdiction, did meet in more places for divine worship, and had more Pastors than one.  This we demonstrate of the chief, the Church at Jerusalem, Samaria, Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Antioch, neither can a reason be given why the rest of the Scripturall Churches should not be of the same kind.

[ Marg: Such was the Church at Jerusalem. ]

Begin with the Mother-Church of Jerusalem.  A company consisting of many thousand persons, and wanting a publick house of meeting, could not convene into one place for worship: for this very day when Christians have gotten most stately and spacious Palaces for Churches, hardly one thousand can commodiously be together for solemn worship; and if we look to the practise of the Adversaries, a few scores of men will be a large Church.

As for the State of the Church at Jerusalem.  First, It is granted that for many years after the Apostles, neither it nor any other {203} company of Christians in any part of the world had a publick place of meeting.  Secondly, That this Church did consist of many thousand people, the following places prove Acts 2.41. The same day were added unto them about three thousand. Also chap. 4.5, The number of the men were five thousand.  And where there were so many men, if ye look to the ordinary proportion, there were of women and children twice or thrice so many.  Neither did that Church stand at the named thousands, for Acts. 5.14, more multitudes both of men and women were added to the Church, and the number of the Disciples was yet more multiplied, chap. 6.1.  Also that which we read chap. 2.47, The Lord added to the Church daily, seemeth to have continued for a long time.

To that which is replied by some, that a great part of the named multitudes were strangers, and not Inhabitants at Jerusalem, and so no Members of that Church; We answer, that this is said without warrant.  That of the three thousand mentioned in the third chapter, some part were strangers, we will not deny to be likely; but that the most part were so, or that of all the thousands named in the fourth, fifth, and sixth, any one was a stranger, it cannot be proved from the Text.

As for that which they bring from the 2nd chap. 44[th verse,] All who believed were together: as if the whole Church had always come to one place for the publick worship: We say that it was simply impossible for three thousand people, not to speak of twenty thousand and above, to meet in one private house, for they had none publick, neither did they in the streets celebrate their Sacraments.  So we are necessitated to take the Churches being together, one of three ways: either for the conjunction of their minds, as the following words do import (they continued with one accord in the Temple) or else their meeting together must be understood distributively in divers places, not collectively in one, as the words in hand will also bear where the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, and breaking of bread is said to be not in any one house only but from house to house.  The Church meeteth in a third way together when not all the members but the Officers with a part of the people convene in a Presbytery, as appeareth from the 15th and 21st chapters. {204}

[ Marg: The Church of Samaria also was Presbyterial. ]

The case is no less clear of the Church of Samaria, Acts 8.6, 10, 12, 14 verses, the People of that City with one accord from the least to the greatest both men and women did believe, in such a number that the chief of the Apostles Peter and John, were sent from Jerusalem to assist Philip in their instruction.  Could this whole City which was amongst the greatest of Canaan convene all to God’s worship in one private room, or be served with one Pastor, who required for a time the attendance not only of Philip but further of two prime Apostles?

[ Marg: So that of Rome. ]

Come to the rest.  The Roman Church was one Body, Rom. 12.6, yet so great that it could not meet in one private room.  For in the 16th chapter, beside the Church which met in the house of Aquila verse 5, there are a number of houses set down, in which, besides divers Saints named, there were many others also unnamed which worshipped with them, verses 14, 15.  So great were the multitudes of Christians then at Rome that their fame was spread over all the world. chap. 1.8. and chap. 16.19.  In the City of Rome were many hundred thousand men, the half of which according to Tertullian, were Christians the age after the Apostles; and a little after Cornelius recordeth that more then forty preachers did attend the instruction of that people who yet had no publick place of meeting.

[ Marg: And of Corinth. ]

The same was the case of the Church at Corinth at its very beginning, Acts 18.8.  It did consist of a multitude both Jews and Gentiles; beside all which, God had much people in that City, v. 10, which by the continual labours of Paul for 18 months were converted, v. 11, for whose instruction beside Paul, Apollos, Timotheus, a great number of other Doctors attended, 1 Cor 4.15, not to speak of a multitude of false Teachers; they had also a number of idle and vain Teachers who kept the foundation, but builded upon it hay, stubble and timber.  Could all these meet together in one private place? unless ye would understand their meetings distributively, or for the convention of their Officers with a part of the people for discipline.

[ Marg: And of Ephesus. ]

Also at Ephesus was but one Church.  For Acts 20.17, Paul called to him the Elders of that Church, in the singular; yet that in Ephesus there was so great a number of Christians as could not commodiously serve God in one private room, it seems most {205} clear; for in that most noble Mart Town Paul did preach whole two years, Acts 19.10, yea he ceased not day nor night for full three years, chap. 20.31.  The fear of God fell on all that people both Jews and Gentiles, and the name of Jesus was magnified, chap. 19.19.  So great a multitude even of Scholars was converted that the Professors of curious arts alone did make a fire of Books to the value of 50,000 pieces of silver; so mightily grew the word of God there, v. 20.  Further, in the Church of Ephesus were many Pastors; for Acts 20.17, Paul called for the Elders, not one only.  That divers of these if not all, were Pastors and Doctors, it appeareth from v. 28, where they are appointed by the Holy Ghost, to be feeders of the flock and get a Commission to oppose false Doctors, about the which they went faithfully, as the Lord beareth them witness, Revel. 2.2.  Now the charge of the Doctrine to try and examine false Teachers, lieth principally on preachers.

[ Marg: Also of Antioch and the rest. ]

This is alike true of the Church of Antioch: The hand of the Lord was in the City, and a great number believed, Acts 11.21.  Thereafter by Barnabas’ labour there was much people added, v. 24, yea, by the joint pains of Barnabas and Paul for a year together, there was such a multitude converted, that the name of Christians was first imposed upon them.  Here, as in the Metropolitan City, not only of Syria, but all Asia, beside Barnabas, Paul and other Prophets, v. 27, Peter also, and many other Doctors had their residence, Gal. 2.11.  It were too long to speak of the rest of the Apostolick Churches, whose condition was not unlike the former.

[ Marg: Our third argument from the subordination of the Church of Antioch to the Synod at Jerusalem, Acts 15. ]

Our third Argument: No Synod hath authority to impose Decrees upon an Independent Church: But some Synods have authority to impose Decrees upon particular Churches, whether Presbyterial or Congregational. Ergo, Particular Churches, whether Presbyterial or Congregational are not Independent.  The Major [first proposition] is not controverted; our adverse party acknowledgeth the lawful use and manifold fruits of Synods: They grant it is the duty of every good man, and much more of every Church, and most of all of a Synod consisting of the Messengers of many Churches, to admonish, counsel, persuade, and request particular Churches to doe their duty: But, that any company on earth, even an Oecumenick Synod, should presume to enjoin with {206} authority the smallest Congregation, to leave the grossest heresies under the pain of any censure, they count it absurd.  Upon this ground, that every Congregation, how small soever, how corrupt soever, is an Independent body, and not subordinate to any society on earth, how great, how pure, how holy soever.

The Minor [proposition] thus is proved: The Synod of Jerusalem imposed with Authority, her Decrees upon the Church of Antioch. Ergo, Some Synod; and if you please to make it universal, every lawful Synod may impose its Decrees upon particular Churches.  The Antecedent is to be seen, Acts 15.20, It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us, to lay no further burden on you then these things necessary.  The Consequence is good, for Antioch was among the chief of the Apostolick Churches; in it Barnabas, Paul, and other Prophets inspired of God were Preachers: If this Church was subject to the Authority of Synods, what Church may plead a freedom from the like subjection?

[ Marg: Answer to the Replies. ]

Many things are here replied, as usually it happeneth when no solid answer can be brought: The chief heads of the Reply are three;  First, that the meeting at Jerusalem was no Synod.  Secondly, What ever it was that it did enjoin nothing, authoritatively to any other Churches.  Thirdly, That other Synods may not pretend to the privileges of that meeting since its Decrees were indited by the Holy Ghost, and stand now in the holy Canon as a part of Scripture.

[ Marg: The meeting of Jerusalem was a true Synod. ]

To the first, we say, that the meeting at Jerusalem is either a true Synod, or else there is no pattern in all Scripture for Synods, even for counsel, or advice, or any other use.  But, this were inconvenient; for they acknowledge that Synods are lawful means for many gracious ends in the Church: Now, to affirm that any Ecclesiastick meeting is lawful, necessary, or convenient for gracious ends, whereof no pattern, no example can be found in Scripture, were dangerous.

But beside this argument, towards our adverse party, we reason from the nature of the thing itself.  A meeting consisting of the Deputies of many Presbyterial Churches, is a true Synod; but, the convention at Jerusalem, Acts 15, was such a meeting.  The Major [proposition] is the essence of a Synod; there are many accidental differences of Synods; for according to the quantity and number of {207} the Churches who send their Commissioners, the Synod is smaller or greater, is Provincial, National, or Oecumenick: according to occasion, the Churches sending Commissioners, are sometime more, sometime fewer, sometime nearer, sometime further off: also according to the commodity of place, and necessity of affairs, they come from one Church more, and from others fewer: all these are but accidentals, which change not the nature of the thing.  Unto the essence of a Synod; no more useth to be required than a meeting of Commissioners from more Presbyterial Churches.  The Minor [proposition] is clear: That the Church of Antioch and Jerusalem were more Churches, no man doubts; that both were Presbyterial, it was proved before, that from both these Presbyterial Churches, Commissioners did sit at that meeting, it is apparent from that oft cited, Acts 15.  Yea, that from the other Churches of Syria and Cilicia, besides Antioch, Commissioners did come to Jerusalem, may appear by conference of the 2nd verse of the 15th chapter with verse 23, for that with Paul and Barnabas Commissioners for the time from the Antiochians, others also did come, it is certain: that those others, at least some of them, were Deputed from the Churches of Syria and Cilicia, it is like, because the Synodick Epistle is directed expressly no less to those than to this of Antioch; also those, no less than this, are said to be troubled with the Questions which occasioned that meeting.  But to pass this consideration, it is clear that in the Convention at Jerusalem were present, not only the Commissioners of some few Presbyterial Churches, but also they whom God had made constant Commissioners to all the Churches of the world, to wit, the Apostles; their presence made all the Churches legally subject to the Decrees of that Synod, though they had no other but their grand and constant Commissioners to Voice for them in that meeting.

[ Marg: It doth not only advise but command. ]

The second Answer is clearly refuted from the 28th verse, where the Decrees are not proposed by way of mere advice, but are enjoined and imposed as necessary burdens, with Authority, not only of the Synod but of the Holy Ghost.

[ Marg: The Decrees of that Synod at their first making had only Ecclesiastick authority. ]

Concerning the third [reply], we say that the merely Divine, and more than Ecclesiastick Authority of these Decrees in their first Formation, is not made good from this, that now they stand in {208} Holy Scripture, and are become a part of the Bible; for a world of Acts merely indifferent, and which without doubt in their Original had no more then Ecclesiastick Authority, are Registered in Scripture.  Was the Presbytery of Lystraes laying on of hands on Timothy any other than an act of Ecclesiastick Ordination?  The Decree of the Church of Corinth for the incestuous man’s Excommunication, or relaxation after Repentance, was it any more than an act of Jurisdiction merely Ecclesiastick?  Paul’s circumcision of Timothy, his Vow at Cenchrea, the cutting off his hair at Jerusalem, were free and indifferent actions: The nature of these things, and many more of that kind, is not changed by their Registering in the Book of God.  Neither also is the merely Divine Authority of the Decrees at Jerusalem proved by this, that in their first framing they were grounded on clear Scripture, and after proclaimed in the name of the Holy Ghost; for that is the condition of the lawful Decrees of all gracious Synods.  Did not of old the Fathers of Nicea, and of late the Fathers of Dort, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, who remaineth with the Church, especially with gracious Synods to the worlds end, pronounce from the Holy Scripture their Decrees of the Godhead of Christ against Arius, and of the grace of God against Arminius: Shall we for this cause ascribe to the Canons of Nicea or Dort any greater authority then Ecclesiastick and Human?  Howsoever, that the Apostles in framing the Canons at Jerusalem did proceed in a way merely Ecclesiastick, and far different from that they used in dictating of Scripture, and publishing truths merely Divine, appeareth from this; first, that these Canons were brought forth by much Disputation and long discourse, But, Divine Oracles without the process of human Ratiocinations are published from the immediate inditing of the Spirit, 2 Pet. 1.21: The Prophesy in old time came not by the will of man, but the holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.  Secondly, Oracles merely Divine are published only in the name of God, Thus saith the Lord; but, these Canons are proclaimed, not only in the name of God, but also in the name of man, It seemeth good to the Holy Ghost, and to us.  Thirdly, The Oracles of God are dictated to the Church by the Ministry only of the Prophets and Apostles, and men inspired with an infallible Spirit, {209} Eph. 2.20, Being built upon the foundation of the Prophets and Apostles. But, the Canons of that Synod, Acts 15, are declared to be the work, not only of the Holy Ghost, and the Apostles, but also of the Elders, and of all who Voiced in them.  So it is clear, that in the making of these Canons, the Apostles, as else-where oft, did come down from the eminent chair of their Apostolic, and extraordinary authority to the lower place of Ordinary Pastors, that in their own persons they might give an example to ordinary Pastors in what manner holy Synods might be rightly celebrated to the world’s end.  Had not this been their end, how easy had it been either for Paul or Barnabas at Antioch, without the toilsome voyage of a long journey to Jerusalem, or for Peter or John, or James, or any one of the Apostles at Jerusalem, without the superfluous pains of any convention or disputation, as infallible Apostles to have pronounced Divine and irrefragable Decrees of all the matters in question.

[ Marg: The fourth argument from the subordination of fewer to more, appointed by Christ, Matth. 18. ]

Our fourth argument.  A Church subordinate is not Independent; but, a Parochial Church is subordinate to a Presbyterial: For a lesser Church is subordinate to a greater, as a part to its whole wherein it is contained.  Now a Parochial Church is lesser and the least of all Churches; a Presbyterial Church is greater.  Of the quantity, that the one is lesser, the other greater there is no doubt; but of the matter itself there is question whether there be any such thing as a Presbyterial Church.  Now this was proved before and hereafter also will be more clear; the chief plea here is against the second major [proposition] which we prove thus: A smaller number of the faithful is subordinate by Christ to a greater number of the faithful.  But, a lesser Church is a smaller number of the faithfull, and a greater Church is a greater number of the faithfull.  The Major is proved from the 18th of Matth. 5.15-18.  If thy Brother trespass against thee, &c.  Here the Lord in admonitions and Church censures institutes a subordination, a gradation, a process from one to two or three, from two or three to more.  Understand those more not absolutely and at random but in a society bound together by the orderly ligaments of divine policy, such as we suppose the Churches to be from the smallest to the greatest till you come to the very Church universal.

Here they distinguish the Major, granting that in this place a {210} subordination is appointed by Christ of fewer to more within the same Church but not without it.  We might oppugne the application of the distinction to the Minor, and prove that a Presbyterial Church is a greater number of the faithful within not without the same Church; for a Congregational Church may not unfitly be compared with a Presbyterial as a part with its whole; especially if you compare the meeting of the Officers which rule the Parish with the Presbytery, these two are not extrinsical the one to the other; for the Sessions, or Consistories, or Classis, are in the Presbytery which is composed of the Commissioners from Sessions as of its own and intrinsical Members.

[ Marg: Christ’s subordination is to be extended to the utmost bounds of the Church universal. ]

But leaving this, we oppugne the ground of the distinction as it lieth in the Major [proposition], breaking the one half of it upon the other. The subordination of fewer to more in the forenamed place is established say they within the same Church. Ergo, say we, without [i.e. outside] the same Church, we mean with them without [outside] the same Parochial Church: the consequence we prove by three arguments.  First, there is a like reason for the subordination of fewer to more without the same Church as within the same; for the chief reason why the Lord ordains us in admonitions to proceed from one to two or three, from two or three to a number sitting as Judges in the Session of one Congregation, is, because in the admonitions of two or three, more authority, gravity and wisdom are presupposed to be than in the admonitions of one alone: and that a Delinquent is stricken with more fear, shame, and reverence by the faces and mouths of many who sit as Judges in the name of the whole Congregation, than he would be by the mouth of two or three only.  Doth not this power, virtue and weight of admonition increase with the number of admonishers, as well without as within the same Congregation?  For as the admonition and censure of ten sitting in the name of one Congregation, hath greater weight then the admonition of two or three of that same Flock who represent none but themselves; so the admonition of thirty Ministers and Elders representing in a Presbytery fifteen Congregations, whose commissioners they are, shall have more weight than the admonition of ten which represent but one flock: for it is according to reason, that those thirty Members of the Presbytery should exceed in wisdom, {211} zeal, gravity, and other qualities which add weight to an admonition, these ten which in a Session represent one Congregation, so far as those ten go beyond the two or three several persons of that Congregation.

Secondly, unless in this place be established a subordination of fewer to more, as well without as within the same Congregation, the remedy brought by Christ will be unable to cure the ill for which it was brought.  The Lord’s means will be disproportionable and unequal to its end; but this were absurd to say of the wisest of all Physicians.  The reason of the Major is this, Christ is prescribing an help and cure for brotherly offences; now one may be offended by a brother as well without as within the same Congregation: and as well by many brethren as by one; yea, as well may we be offended by a whole Church as by one member thereof: Now, if after the mind of our adverse party, the subordination of fewer to more might not be extended without the bounds of one Congregation, the Lord’s medicine were not meet to cure very many ordinary and daily scandals; for what if a man be scandalized by the neighbour Church?  To whom shall he complain?  When the Church offending is both the Judge and party, it is likely she will misregard the complaints that are made to her of herself.  What if a man be scandalized by his own Church or by the most, or by the strongest part of it?  What if that Church to whom he complaineth, take part against Justice and reason with him upon whom he complains?  It will be impossible to remedy innumerable offences which daily fall out among brethren, unless appeals be granted, and the subordination established by Christ be extended, not only without the bounds of one Parish, but as far and wide as the utmost limits of the Church universal: for upon this place is rightly grounded by the Ancients, the Authority of Synods even Oecumenick of all the Churches.

Thirdly, the subordination established by Christ, Matth. 18. is so farre to be extended in the Christian Church as it was extended in the Church of the Jews; for Christ there alludeth to the Jewish practise.  But so it is, that in the Jewish Church there was ever a subordination of fewer to more, not only within the same Synagogue, but within the whole Nation, and so within the {212} whole Church Universal: for all Synagogues everywhere in the world were under the great Council at Jerusalem.  No doubt of the Minor [proposition, concerning the historic fact]; the Major is builded upon this ground, that what ever Christ hath translated from the Synagogue to the Church, especially if it be of natural equity, hath as great force now amongst Christians, as of old among the Jews.  Now, that the subordination of Synagogues to the great Council is of natural equity, it appeareth thus: A Synagogue was the lowest Ecclesiastic Court, the Council was the highest; but the subordination of the lowest Court to the highest, is of natural right; for Nature hath ever dictated to all Nations, as well in things civil as religious, a subordination of the lowest to the highest.

[ Marg: Our fifth argument from the evil consequents, which reason and experience demonstrate to follow Independency necessarily and naturally. ]

Our fifth Argument: That which taketh away all possibility of any effectual remedy against Heresy, Idolatry, Schism, Tyranny, or any other mischief that wracks either one or more Churches; is not of God: for God is the Author and conserver of truth, purity, union, order, liberty, and of all virtue; God of his goodness and wisdom hath provided for all and every one of his Churches means and remedies, which if carefully made use of, are sufficient to hinder the first arising of Heresy, Schism, or any other evil: and when they are risen to beat them down and abolish them: so that whatever cherisheth these mischiefs, and is a powerful instrument to preserve them safe, that none with any power, with any authority, for any purpose, may get them touched, that must be much opposite to the Spirit of God, and good of the Church: But, such is Independency, as both reason and experience will prove.  Behold first several Churches; Suppose, which too oft hath fallen out, that the Pastor become a pernicious Heretic; let him begin with the venom of his Doctrine to poison the hearts of his people, what shall be the remedy?  Independency binds the hands of Presbyteries and Synods.  Pastors of Neighbouring Congregations, have no power to bind, or expel that ravenous wolf: in the destroyed flock there is no Pastor, but the wolf himself.  Be it so that the people in their judgement of discretion perceive well enough the wickedness of the false doctrine whereby they are corrupted; yet the office, charge, and authority to cure their Pastor’s disease, lieth not on them.  The Spirits of the Prophets are subject to the {213} Prophets: the Pastor is not to be proceeded against with censure by the people of his flock; for so the order which God hath established in his Church, should be inverted, if they whom he hath commanded to obey should rule: and they whom he hath set above and over the flock, should be under it.  Further, Suppose the Pastor to be most gracious, what if the flock, or the greater part of the flock become so wicked as to abuse their Pastor, or to abuse the most godly of the Congregation?  What if a wicked spirit of Heresy, Schism, or Tyranny, set the most part of the flock against God, against their gracious Pastor, and the godly of the flock, what shall be done in this pitiful, and very possible, yea, oft contingent case?  Independency closeth the door of the troubled Congregation, that no man may go out to cry for any powerful help to neighbours, though their kindled house should burn them all to death; within there is no remedy; for all most go there by the number of voices, and the most part oppresseth the best, the most wicked go on against the Counsels, the entreaties, the prayers of the rest, and cease not till they have either corrupted or cast out their Pastor, Elders, and all of their fellow-members who are constant in goodness, that so their wickedness without control may domineer in the whole subdued Congregation.  So long as Independency standeth, no effectual authoritative or powerful help can possibly be found for the preservation of any single Congregation against ruin and total subversion.

Further, Independency hazards the being of all Churches as well as of every one.  For who shall hinder any member of a corrupted Congregation to infect all the neighbour Churches with the poison of his doctrine and manners?  If a ramping Lion, a viperous Serpent, a crafty Fox should go and devour all the Lambs of the neighbour flocks; Independency doth hinder any order to be taken with that limb of Satan, no sword of censure can be drawn against him, he must be referred absolutely to his own Congregation; other Churches may entreat, advise, and pray him not to make havoc of them: but should he trouble, infect, and destroy twenty, an hundred, a thousand neighbour Congregations, no Ecclesiastick censure may pass upon him but by his own Church: and when complaints of him come to his {214} own Church, his misdeeds there are excused, defended, commended; his Heresies are proclaimed sound doctrine his devouring of souls is declared to be zeal and painfulness to win souls to CHRIST.

Our Argument is backed by experience, as well as by reason; The first Independent Church we read of, was that company which Mr. Browne brought over from England to Middleborough; how long did it stand before it was destroyed by Independency? when once Anabaptistick novelties, and other mischiefs fell among them, there was no remedy to prevent the company’s dissolution.  When Mr. Barrow and his fellows, assayed at London to erect their Congregation, the success was no better; their Ship scarce well set out was quickly split upon the Rocks, was soon dissipate and vanished.  When Johnstoun & Ainsworth would make the third assay, and try if that tree which neither in England nor Zealand could take root, might thrive in Holland at Amsterdam, where plants of all sorts are so cherished, that few of the most malign quality do miscarry; yet so singular a malignity is innate in that seed of Independency, that in that very ground, where all weeds grow rank, it did wither: within a few years new Schisms burst that small Church asunder: Johnstoun with his half, and Ainsworth with his made several Congregations, neither whereof did long continue without further ruptures; Behold who please, with an observant Eye these Congregations which have embraced Independency, they shall find that never any Churches in so short a time have been disgraced with so many, so unreasonable, and so irreconcilable Schisms.

[ Marg: Neither the duties of charity, nor the authority of the Magistrate can remedy these evils. ]

Against these inconveniences they tell us of two remedies, the duties of charity, and the authority of the Magistrate; but the one is insufficient, and the other improper.  The duties of charity are but mocked by obstinate Hereticks and heady Schismaticks; to what purpose are counsels, rebukes, entreaties employed towards him who is blown up with the certain persuasion that all his errors are divine truths, that all who deal with him to the contrary are in a clear error, that all the advices given to him are but the words of Satan from the mouths of men tempting him to sin against God? {215}

As for the Magistrate, oft he is not a Christian, oft though a Christian, he is not Orthodox, and though both a Christian and Orthodox, yet oft either ignorant or careless of Ecclesiastick affaires; and however, his help is never so proper and intrinsecal to the Church, that absolutely and necessarily she must depend thereupon.  Now all our Question is about the ordinary, the internal, the necessary remedies which Scripture ascribes to the Church within itself, as it is a Church even when the outward hand of the Magistrate is deficient or opposite.

[ Marg: Our last Argument, Independency is contrary to all the discipline that ever was known in Christendom before the Anabaptists. ]

Our sixth and last Argument: That which everteth from the very foundation the most essential parts of discipline, not only of all the reformed, but of all the Churches known at any time in any part of the world, till the birth of Anabaptism, it cannot be very gracious.  But, this doth Independency: The Minor [proposition, concerning the effects of Independency,] is clear by induction: That the Government of the Scottish Church by Synods, Presbyteries and Sessions sworn and subscribed of old and late by that Nation in their solemn Covenant; that the same discipline of the Churches of France, Holland, Switz, Geneva, as also the Polity of the High Dutch and English, and all the rest who are called Reformed, is turned upside down by Independency, no man doubts; for this is our Adversaries’ gloriation that they will be tied by no Oathes, Covenants, Subscriptions: they will be hindered by no authority of any man, no reverence of any Churches on earth, to separate from all the reformed, that so alone they may enjoy their divine and beloved Independency.

If you speake of more ancient times, either the purer which followed the Apostles at the back, or the posterior impurer ages; that the Polity of these times in all Churches, Greek and Latin, is trodden under foot by Independency, all likewise do grant: and how well that new conceit agreeth with the discipline practised in the days of Christ and his Apostles, or in the days of Moses and the Prophets, the preceding arguments will shew.  I confess such is the boldness of the men, against whom we now dispute, that although they glory in their contempt of the authority of all men, dead and living: yet they offer to overwhelm us with testimonies of a number, as well ancient as late Divines: But who desire to see all that dust blown back in their own eyes {216} who raised it, and the detorted words against the known mind and constant practise of the Authors, clearly vindicated and retorted, let them be pleased to take a view of Mr. Paget’s Posthume Apologie, where they will find abundant satisfaction in this kind.

[ Marg: The first Objection or Argument for Independency from Matth. 18. ]

For the other side, a great bundle of arguments are also brought; we shall consider the principal.  First: To whom Christ hath given the right of excommunication, the greatest of all censures, they in all other acts of Jurisdiction, and in all acts of Ecclesiastick discipline, are Independent: But Christ hath given the right of excommunication to every Congregation, and to these alone. Ergo, &c.  They prove the Minor [thus]: Unto the Church Christ hath given the right of excommunication Matth. 18, Go tell the Church, if he hear not the Church, let him be to thee as an Ethnick: But every Congregation, and it only, is the Church, because in the whole Scripture the word Church where ever it is not taken for the Church universal, or invisible, is ever understood of a single Congregation, which in one place with one Pastor serveth God.  — Answer. Passing the Majors, we deny the Minors, and affirm that no where in Scripture the word Church may be expounded of their Independent Congregation, and least of all in the alleged place; If we will advise either with the old or late Interpreters, or with the best and most learned of the Adversaries themselves, who affirm with us that by the Church, Matth. 18, no [literal] Congregation can be understood, unless we would bring in among Christians most gross anarchy, except we would set down on the Judgment seats of the Church every member of the Congregation, men, women, young, old, the meanest and weakest part of the people to decide by the number, not the weight of their voices the greatest causes of the Church, to determine finally of the excommunication of Pastors, of the nature of heresy and all doctrine, and that with a decree irrevocable from which there may be no appeal, no not to an Oecumenick Synod.  Wherefore beside the rest of the Interpreters a great part of the Adversaries by the Church in this place understand no whole Congregation, nor the most part of any Congregation, but a select number thereof, the Senate or Officers who cognose and discern according to the Scriptures. {217}

This is enough for answer to the argument: but if further it be inquired, the Senate of which Church is pointed at in this place, whether of a Parochial Church, or Presbyterial, or National, or Oecumenick, or of all these:  Ans. It seemeth that the Senate of all the Churches must here be understood, and especially of a Presbyterial Church, at least not of a Parochial only and independently as our Adversaries would have it.  By no means will we have the Session of a Parish prejudged, and are well content that the authority of Parochial Sessions to handle their own proper affairs should be grounded upon this place; only we deny that from this place a Church-Session hath any warrant to take the cognition of things common to itself with the Neighbouring Congregations, or yet to govern her proper affairs absolutely and independently so that none may attempt to correct her when she erreth, or by censure to put her in order when she beginneth by heresy, schism, and tyranny to corrupt herself and others.

That in this place principally the Senate of a Presbyterial Church is understood, is clear; for of such a Church Christ here speaketh, as were the Churches at Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, and others in the New Testament which we proved before to have been presbyterial.  The Senate of such Churches attending on government, and discipline, is here called the Church, as elsewhere, Acts 15.22, It seemed good to the Apostles, Elders and whole Church [Geneva version]: The Church met to cognosce on the questions from Antioch, cannot be understood of all the thousand Christians at Jerusalem; it must then be taken of the Presbytery to which the cognition of such questions doth belong.  In the fourth verse of the same chapter, Paul is said to be received of the Church, the word may well be expounded not of the whole Body, but of a select number thereof; even the Presbytery; as in the 21 he is said to be received of the Apostles and Elders, before the multitude had met together.

Only observe that however we affirm the Senate of a Presbyterial Church chiefly here to be established, yet we understand not this in a way independent from provincial, National, or Oecumenick Synods; for all these meetings in their own place and order are also grounded on this passage, as before hath been declared.

[ Marg: The second Objection is taken from the practice of the Corinthians, excommunicating the incestuous man. ]

Their second Objection: The practise of the Church of {218} Corinth, approved by the Apostles is the due right of every Parochial Church and single Congregation: But, the censure of Excommunication was the practise of the Church of Corinth approved by the Apostle, 1 Cor. 5.12,13: Do we not judge them that are within? therefore put away from you that wicked person.  This judgement is authoritative, and this putting away is the censure of Excommunication, cutting off from the body of Christ, which censure is here committed unto the Corinthians, being gathered together in one, verse 4, and so to them all, and every one of them: for to them all the Epistle is written, and not to the Presbytery only. — Answer. The Major [proposition] must be denied for two causes; First, The practise of the Corinthians was grounded not only upon the express command of the Apostle, but also on the singular presence of the Apostle’s Spirit and authority with them in pronouncing the sentence of Excommunication against that incestuous person, verse 3, I as present in Spirit have judged already. This singular privilege of the Corinthians is not a ground of common right to every Church who wants the authority of the Apostles express command, and singular presence.  Secondly, we may not argue from the Church of Corinth to every Congregation; for it is proved before, that the Church of Corinth was not Congregational, but Presbyterial, consisting of so many as could not meet commodiously in one private room; also it had within itself a College or Senate of many Pastors, Elders, and Prophets; to such a Church we grant willingly the exercise of all acts, both of Ordination and Jurisdiction.

The Minor also cannot be admitted but with a double distinction; the act of Excommunication is given to the Church of Corinth, not according to its whole, but according to the select part, to wit the Presbytery thereof.  It maketh nothing against this, that the Epistle is written to the whole Church; for what is written to the whole Church indefinitely, must be applied according to the matter and purpose, sometime only to the Pastors excluding the people: sometime only to the people, excluding the Pastors: sometimes to both together, to Pastors, and Flock.  The first Epistle, chapter 1. vers. 12, Every one of you saith, I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, and I of Cephas; this cannot be taken of the Pastors, but of the people following Schismatically some one, some {219} another of the Pastors.  Likewise, chapter 4, vers. 1, Let a man so count of us as of the Ministers of Christ, must be taken of the people, as chapter 3, vers. 12. (Now if any man build on this foundation gold, silver, precious stones) is to be understood of the Pastors, as chapter 4, vers. 2, Also it is required in Stewards that a man be found faithful; but the most of the other places are to be expounded of both.  Now that the preceding passages concerning the Church-censures, are not true of the whole Congregation, it appears; for beside the absurdity of confusion & Anarchy, it would follow that very women have right judicially to Depose, and Excommunicate by their voices their Pastors, which the very Adversaries profess to reject as absurd, albeit not congruously to their Tenets; for it is not reasonable that the right which from these places they ascribe to every member of the Church, should be taken away from women, upon this only reason, that in 1 Tim. 2.11. a commandment is given to the women not to teach, but in silence to learn; for as the brethren of our Adversaries, the Anabaptists have marked, that place taketh away from women the publick charge of Preaching, but not of speaking in judgement or giving their voice in Church-judicatories.  Surely, nowhere absolute silence in Church-judicatories is enjoined to women, we truly give the power of witnessing, and of self-defence as well to women as to men in all Church-judicatories.  However that the censure of the incestuous man was not inflicted by the whole Church, it appears from the 2 Epistle, Chap. 2, verse 6, Sufficient to such a man was the punishment which was inflicted of many.  Who were these many but the Officers who were set over the Church in the Lord?

Another distinction also would be marked, that whatsoever right we ascribe to the Church of Corinth, whether according to its whole, or according to any of its parts, whether we take it for a Presbyterial or a Parochial Church, all that right is to be understood not absolutely, nor independently, which here is the only question.  For the Church at Corinth had no greater privileges than the Church of Antioch.  Now that in a dubious and controverted case, and in a common cause the Church of Antioch was subordinate unto a Synod, it was before proved.

[ Marg: The third Objection from the example of the seven Churches of Asia. ]

Their third objection.  That which the Holy Ghost gives unto {220} the seven Churches of Asia, must be the right of every single Congregation.  But, the Holy Ghost gives unto the seven Churches of Asia all Ecclesiastick Jurisdiction within themselves. Revel. 2.2: Thou canst not bear with them which are evil, and thou hast tried them which say they are Apostles, and hast found them liars.  And ver. 14, I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam.  And ver. 20, I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest the woman Jezabel to teach.  Here the Churches of Ephesus, Pergamus, and Thyatira, are praised, when they proceeded with censure against those who deserved it: and are dispraised when they held in the sword of excommunication, and did not cast out Hereticks and profane Persons.

Answer.  Both the Propositions are vicious: The Major because the Churches in Asia were Presbyterial, not Congregational.  This we proved of Ephesus, and we know no reason why the rest should not be of that same condition.  Secondly, Albeit the Churches of Asia at that time in the first preaching of the Gospel, and so in the great paucity of Churches should have had no Neighbours with whom commodiously and ordinarily they could keep society: what is that unto the Churches of our days who live in the midst of many Sisters?  The Minor also may not be granted; for that which the Text ascribeth to the Angel, may not by and by be applied to every Member of the Church.  We grant that great reason and many authorities do prove and evince that the Angels in those places cannot be expounded of the single persons of Bishops, but of the whole Body of the Presbytery in the which there was one man chosen by the Suffrages of the rest President for a time; but that by the name of Angel should be understood every Member of the Church, no reason will carry it.  Beside, there is no consequence from one act of reproof to the whole right of Ecclesiastick government even in every case; for a common cause and an appearance of errour and many other things, will enforce a necessity of subordination.

[ Marg: The fourth Objection from the practice of the Church of Thessalonica and Colosse. ]

Their fourth argument: The right of the Church of Thessalonica and Colosse belongs to every Church: But, the Church of Thessalonica and Colosse had right to exercise every part of Ecclesiastick discipline within their own bounds.  Of the first, see 2 Thessalonians 3.6, Withdraw your selves from every Brother {221} which walketh disorderly, and verse 24, Note that man, and have no company with him that he may be ashamed.  Of the second, see Col. 2.5: Joying and beholding your Order.  — Answer. Let the Major be true of all the Churches of the same Species and Nature with these of Thessalonica and Colosse, that is, of all Presbyterial.  That the Church of Thessalonica was such, that it had more Pastors, it is proved from the 1[st epistle] to the Thessalonians 5.12: Know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you: that these were Pastors, it is the mind of the best Interpreters.

[ Independents do not remedy tyranny, abuse, and disorder, but make it irremediable within the Church. ]

Also that in Colosse, beside others, Epaphras and Archippus did labour in the word and doctrine, is manifest from chap. 1, verse 7, and chap. 4.17.  Further, let the Major be true of all Churches of that same state and condition with those named, to wit, when it falls out that few or no Neighbour Churches can be had with which such a society may be kept.  Concerning the Minor, suppose that both the right and the exercise of all Ecclesiastick acts were granted to the foresaid Churches, yet the question is not touched except you add independently and in every cause and case even of aberration, and that without all remedy of appeal to any Synod; Upon this hinge the Question depends, and of this the argument hath nothing.

[ Marg: Their fifth objection from the Episcopal tyranny of the Presbytery. ]

Their fifth argument: That which abolishes our liberty purchased by Christ’s blood, and puts upon our neck a yoke equal to the Antichristian tyranny of Bishops, is intolerable: But, the dependence of Congregations upon Presbyteries and Synods doth so. — Answer. The Minor is false; for the subordination of Churches imports no slavery & taketh away no liberty which God hath granted; it is God’s Discipline and Order, it is the easy yoke of Christ not to be compared with the cruel bands of Bishops, since the one is human, the other divine: by the means of the one, one man commandeth, either according to his free will, or according to the Canon-Law of the Pope; but by the means of the other, more men advise in common according to the acts of the Reformed Churches grounded upon the Word of God: The judgement seats of Bishops are merely external to the Church which they govern: But, Presbyteries and Synods are Courts internal, for the only members whereof they consist, are the Commissioners of the Churches which they govern; these Churches {222} they represent, the mind and desire of these Churches they do propose, unto these Churches they give account of all their administration, they confirm and establish the rights of Congregations, they do not abolish nor labefactate [weaken] any of them.

[ Marg: Their sixth Objection from the Congregation’s right to elect their Pastor. ]

Sixthly, These who have power to choose the Pastor, have also the right of the whole Ecclesiastick Discipline.  But every Parish hath that power. — Answer. The Major is not necessary; for there is a great difference betwixt the Election of Ministers, and Minister’s Ordination, Deposition, Excommunication, and many other acts of Discipline: Election is no act of Authority or Jurisdiction.  The Minor also is not true, if you understand it of all the members of the Congregation; for it is not needful that Ministers should be chosen by the express voice of every man, much less of every woman of the flock: Yea, that Election doth not always belong to the whole flock, except ye take election as many seem to do, for a consent with reason, to the which is opposed, not every, but a rational dissent grounded upon clear equity and justice: certainly it is needful at sometimes to misregard the people’s consent in choosing of a Pastor, for why should not a flock infected with heresy be set under an wholesome and Orthodox Shepherd whether it will or not, and be rent from under the Ministry of an heretical Shepherd, how much soever against its own mind?

[ Marg: Their seventh Objection from plurality of cures cast upon one Pastor. ]

Their seventh argument: That is not of God which maketh Pastors Bishops of other men’s Diocesses, and lays upon them the care of other Congregations than those to which the Holy Ghost hath made them Overseers: But, the subordination of Parishes to Presbyteries and Synods doth this.  — Answer. The Minor is false, for neither doth every member of a Presbytery become a Pastor to every Congregation subordinate to that Presbytery, neither are Congregations consociated and conjoined in a Presbytery altogether, without the reach of the care and inspection of neighbour Pastors.  This is clear, not only by the arguments formerly deduced from Scripture, but by the daily practice of the Adversaries; for themselves profess their care to oversee, and admonish, and rebuke, and to use many other gracious actions as they have occasion, towards neighbouring Churches, without any blame of busy Bishops, There is almost no difference at all of {223} their acts and ours toward neighbouring Churches, so far as concerns the matter; the only question is concerning the fountains and grounds of these acts, they ascribing their actions only to charity, we not to charity alone, but to authority grounded upon the former reasons: This difference belongs not to the present plea.

[ Marg: Their eighth Objection from Christ’s immediate government of his Church. ]

Their eight argument.  Only Christ hath authority over the Kingdom of God, the House of God, the holy Jerusalem, his own Spouse, his own Body.  But, every single Congregation is the Kingdom of God, &c.  — Answer. Passing by the Minor, The Major is false and Anabaptistick: for by the same reason the Anabaptists exempt from all authority both Ecclesiastick and Civil, not only every Congregation, but every single person who are the members of Christ and his Spouse, and in whom the Kingdom of God doth dwell.  The high and excellent stiles of honour which the Scripture gives not only to whole Churches but to every particular Saint, exempts neither the one nor the other because of their immediate subjection to God and Christ, from the bonds and yoke of any authority, either Ecclesiastick or Civil, which the Lord hath appointed in holy Scripture.  Christ’s internal government of souls by his Spirit albeit never so immediate, taketh not away the external administration of men either in the Church or Commonwealth.

Who please to see much more upon this Question, let them consult with Mr. Rutherfoord his Peaceable Plea, with Appolonius and Spanheim, with the Author of Vindiciæ Clavium, especially with the Divines of the Assembly, their Answers to the Reasons of the dissenting brethren; of purpose I have abstained from making use of any of these Writings at this time, waiting for the Independents’ last Reply for their Reasons, and the Model of their positive Doctrine which they have made the world to wait for too too long a time.

Editor’s Remark Concerning Non-Denominational Churches.

Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.  Is Christ divided?

In the time of Mr. Baillie, the above author, there were no churches then known by the description “Non-Denominational” in Britain or elsewhere.  These churches in our day, observing the evident schism implied by denominations distinguishing themselves from one another based merely on a name or history, and perceiving the corrupting influences of many denominational organizations on the congregations associated with them, have grasped at what they believe will be a remedy to these problems.  But in advancing their solution, they ignore the more serious schism involved in fracturing the church so far as to make every congregation its own new autonomous ecclesiastical community, and to facilitate the development of so many diverging theologies which flourish among them.

Before further comment on these churches, it should be observed that as Presbyterians we give no countenance to or approval of the existence of “Denominations.”  We do not oppose or criticize “Non-Denominational” churches as if favoring Denominationalism; but we cannot help observing that there is something more to “Non-Denominational” churches than what is implied by their name.

Neither the Church nor the State can be counted innocent or wise in the promotion of the Denominationalism which now pervades those lands formerly blessed with the light of the Gospel and influence of Scripture-truth.  What is now expressed by the term Denominationalism is in fact the active expression of a principle long condemned under the name Sectarianism.  Any theory or governing policy that facilitates or promotes the fracturing of the one catholick body of Jesus Christ into functional schisms which cannot cooperate together as a single organization of operative love and accountability, affirming the one catholick faith of Jesus Christ, is a theory or policy that is in conflict with Jesus Christ’s intention for his Church as one body.  The policy itself is inherently schismatic, and justly condemned as Sectarianism. (Eph. 4.4.)

The question is, how far do “Non-Denominational” churches go toward remedying Denominationalism, or Sectarianism?  There is an illusion in this matter, which needs to be dismissed.  The pattern followed by the churches of Non-Denominationalism is a plan effectively built on Independency, and could well-enough have been named accordingly.  But if they had called themselves “Independent Churches” the name would not serve so well to implicitly indict their “denominational” brethren with the imaginary sin of organizational-unity.  On the other hand, it is observable that most Non-Denominational churches teach and practice in opposition to the baptism of covenant children.  To any non-Baptist, the Non-Denominational church is basically a Baptist church without the name.  It is independent, in accordance with early Anabaptist and Baptist models.  It is opposed to Protestant ecclesiology and sacramental practices.  It stands in opposition to an established church and the Bible’s teaching about the duties of the civil magistrate.  It steps away from the doctrinal orthodoxy of the Protestant confessions of faith and risks the supplanting of the Gospel of Grace by the another-gospel of Arminianism.  If such Non-Denominational churches were merely labelled “Baptist” they would cease to be in any way different from a multitude of Independent Baptist churches that already exist.  In sum, they are Baptist churches resolved to be different from the Baptists, and have therefore taken a new name.

With that said, it seems that the peculiar bargaining-point of the Non-Denominational church that is offered for our advantage is merely the fact that it is literally non-denominational: that it doesn’t have a name.  We won’t have to call ourselves Baptists or say that we go to a Baptist church.  But does this remedy the division throughout Christendom?  Does this unify the people of God?  When a church has no name, does it cease to have any doctrines which offend those who are dedicated to Biblical Christianity?  When a church has no connection with historic Protestant “denominations,” does it cease to have any deviant worship practices that drive away those who are dedicated to the purity and simplicity of Biblical worship?  When a church is insulated from the influences of top-down corruption, does she have better protection from grass-roots corruption?  Mere namelessness and autonomy cannot accomplish such ideals.

In conclusion, it should be observed that Non-Denominationalism, although successful in identifying a corruption rampant in the post-Reformation Church, offers only the façade of a solution.  In reality, the programme that it institutes has served, and will continue to serve, to develop with increased rapidity the very problems it pretends to have identified with displeasure.  A system without a name is not trustworthy; just as a pastor without a name, incapable of either good report or bad report, would rightly be held suspect by most Christians.  If they are independents, and merely independents, then they should simply call themselves, “Independents.”  But Independency is not a remedy for Schism.

Let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them. — Jer. 15.19.