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pernicious consequences of extending communion in Church-privileges beyond the bounds of Church-fellowship : for thus, first, The extraordinary office of the Apostles, and the ordinary office of Pastors and Teachers, will be much confounded, if the latter be as illimited as the former in the execution of their office, beyond the bounds of their own Particular Churches. Secondly, The distinction of Church Assemblies from the confused multitude is abrogated, if, without membership in a Particular Church, the Parents may communicate with the Churches, in the Lord's Supper; and their Seed, in Baptism. Thirdly, The Church shall endanger the profaning of the Seals; and want one special means whereby the grace and piety of men may be discerned and made known : for if, without respect to their Church-estate, men of approved piety,' as you say, are to be admitted to fellowship in the Seals; how shall their · piety' be approved' to the Church ? Not by their own report of themselves alone, without attestation of such as are approved by the Church. And, how can such, bear witness to their approved piety,' who, against light, refuse to profess subjection to the Gospel of Christ, by orderly joining themselves in fellowship with some approved Church of Christ, as members thereof, when they have opportunity thereunto ? seeing such fellowship is an action of piety required of all Believers, in the Second Commandment;-and, true piety frameth men's spirits to have respect to all God's cominandments! And we have had much experience of it, That men of “approved piety' in the judgment of some, have been found too light, not only in the judgment of others, but even of their own consciences, when they have coine to the trial in offering themselves to be Members of Churches; with such a blessing hath God followed this order of taking hold of Churchcovenant by public profession of faith and repentance, before men be admitted to the Seals. But this means of discovery of men's piety and sincerity, would be utterly lost, if men should be admitted unto the Lord's Table without entering in Church-fellowship.
Consideration the Sixth : None have power to dispense the Seals, but they that are called to the office of Ministry: and no inan can be so called, till first there be a Church to call him; seeing the power
“ Reply.- .. The question is not of all sorts, at random, but of Christians professing the faith entirely; lawfully baptized; known, and approved to the consciences of the wise and judicious visible Members of the Churches of Christ; anong us often admitted to the Lord's Table: whether these either sufficiently known unto you, or orderly recommended, may, upon desire and suit, themselves be admitted to communicate in the Lord's Supper, and their children, to be baptized? What fear is there now, that 'the extraordinary office of the Apostles, and the ordinary office of pastors and teachers,' shall be much or little confounded ?' Is this, to take as 'illimited' power as the Apostles did, “in the execution of their office?' How shall this tend to abrogate the distinction of Church Assemblies from the confused multitude ? Or, how is the profanation of the Seals thereby endangered?' . . This we are persuaded, and therefore we speak, that in debarring Christians from the Lord's Supper, and much more the children of those parents who are in covenant with God, from holy Baptism; you exceed your commission you have received from God, and go beyond your due bounds. And, notwithstanding your circumspection, more worthy and faithful Christians have been denied, when [those) of less worth and meaner sufficiencies, have passed, and been by you received."
calling Ministers is given by Christ unto the Church,– Demonstration of Discipline, chap. iv.-and thence it follows, That all those that desire to partake of the Seals, are bound to join themselves in Churchstate, that so they may call a Minister to dispense the Seals unto them, And this duty, by the appointment of God, lieth not only upon some Christians, but equally upon all ; ergo, no Christian can expect, by the appointment of God, to partake in the Seals, till he have joined himself in Church-fellowship and in the call of the Minister. And, indeed, seeing a Church, and a Minister called by the Church, are of such necessity for the dispensing of the Seals, it may seem unreasonable that some Christians should be bound to become a Church and to call a Minister, that so the Seals may be dispensed, and other men, when this is done, have equal liberty to the Seals, who refuse to join unto the Church ! a
“Consideration the Seventh: That our practice may not be censured as novel and singular, give us leave to produce a precedent of the like case observed and approved by public countenance of State, in the days of Edward VI. of blessed and famous memory, who, in the year 1550, granted Johannes A'Lasco, a learned nobleman of Poland, under the Great Seal of England, liberty to gather a Church of strangers in London, and to order themselves accordingly as they should find to
“Reply.—This conclusion is not to the question propounded; for we speak of such as cannot, not such as 'refuse to join' themselves unto the Church ; or if they do not join,' it is not out of contempt, or wilful neglect, of God's ordinance; or desire of carnal liberty, and not to be in subjection to Christ; but for lack of opportunity, or through their fault that should admit them but do not. . . We accuse not the wisdom and discretion of your Churches, but we know the zealous multitude may sometimes be rash. And when reason is craved of your judgment, why you do debar the most known and 'approved Christians,' which came over; and their children ; from the Seals of the Covenant; we dislike you should put this note upon them, as if .against light' they refused orderly to subject them. selves to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What warrant you have thus to censure; what use of this manner of dispute; we leave it to your godly wisdom to judge! .. A company of men converted to the faith, being unbaptized may, and ought to desire Baptism; but they have not power to elect and choose one among themselves to dispense the Seals unto the rest, for ought is to be found in Scripture. . . It can never be showed in Scripture, that any society of unbaptized persons did first choose from among them à Pastor or Teacher by whom they might be baptized. You cannot produce one example, or other proof, in the Scripture, of one man teaching the Gospel ministerially, but he was baptized, and a Member of a true Church ; or, of a society who made choice of a Pastor and Teacher, but they were baptized persons!.. A wrong it is, altogether to debar the godly of their consent in the 'calling' of such as must watch for their souls ; but it makes not the calling itself a mere nullity: for then, many Churches in the world, within a few hundred years after Christ, should have wanted both ministry and sacraments. . . If a company of Infidels should be converted to the faith, they must desire to partake in the Ordinances of Grace before they could join together in a Churchway to call a Minister of their own, who might administer the Sacraments unto them. .. If Infidels be converted to the faith, must they not partake in the Seals, because they cannot join `in Church-fellowship and call of the Minister,' before they be admitted to Baptism? . . If a people be joined together in Churchfellowship, and have called a Pastor to feed and watch over thein, we desire-not words, but-proof, why the poor dispersed Christians wanting means or opportunity to join themselves together into society, ought not to desire, and that others be not bound in conscience to afford them, the comfort of God's ordinances ?.."
be most agreeable to the Scriptures. Among other Godly Orders established in that Church, that which concerneth the Administration of Baptism, to prevent the profanation of it, we will repeat in A'Lasco's own words. Baptism in our Church,' saith he, is administered in the public assembly of the Church, after the public Sermon : for seeing Baptism doth so belong to the whole Church, that none ought to be driven thence who is a Member of the Church, nor to be admitted to it who is not a Member of it; truly it is equal that that should be performed publicly in the assembly of the whole Church, which belongs to the whole Church in common ' again, he addeth, Now, seeing onr Churches are, by God's blessing, so established by the King's Majesty, that they may be, as it were, one parish of strangers dispersed throughout the whole city, or one body-corporate, -as it is called in the King's grant,—and yet all strangers do not join themselves to our Church, yea, there are those who, while they avoid all Churches, will pretend to the English Churches that they are joined with us; and to us, that they are joined to the English Churches ! And so do abuse both them and us. Lest the English Churches and the Ministers thereof should be deceived by the impostures of such men; and that, under colour of our Churches, we do baptize their infants alone who have joined themselves to our Churches by public confession of their faith and observation of ecclesiastical discipline. And that our Churches may be certain that the Infants that are to be baptized are their seed who have joined themselves thereto, in manner aforesaid, the father of the infant to be baptized, if possibly he can, or other men and women of notable credit in the Church, do offer the Infant to
• They consisted of German Refugees from the troubles occasioned by the edict called the Interim.' By A'Lasco's intercession the Church in Austin-Friars, formerly a Priory, was granted them, with its revenues, and his office likewise extended over all the other foreign Reformed Churches in London; French, Spanish, Italian, &c. Having been requested by the pious and tolerant King, Edward VI., to write on some of the matters then disputed, he oppugned the Ritual, the Ecclesiastical Habits, and the Gesture of Kneeling at the Communion Table: “Brevis et Dilucida de Sacramentis Ecclesiæ Christi Tractatio; in qua fons ipse et ratio totius Sacramentariæ Nostri Temporis Controversiæ, paucis exponitur. 1552.” 8vo. After Mary's accession these foreigners left the kingdom ; but were reinstated on Elizabeth's accession, in 1558. With what jealousy they were watched by Episcopalians is apparent from the “ judicious” Richard Hooker's words, where he writes, “When Germany had stricken off that which appeared corrupt in the Doctrine of the Church of Rome, but seemed nevertheless in Discipline still to retain therewith very great conformity ; France, by that rule of policy which hath been before mentioned, took away the Popish Orders which Germany did retain. But process of time hath brought more light unto the world ; whereby men perceiving that they of the Religion in France have also retained some Orders which were before in the Church of Rome, and are not commanded in the Word of God; there hath arisen a sect in England, which following still the very self-same rule of policy, seeketh to reform even the French Reformation, and purge out from thence also dregs of Popery. These have not taken as yet such root that they are able to establish anything. But if they had, what would spring out of their stock, and how far the unquiet wit of man might be carried with rules of such policy, God doth know. The trial which we have lived to see, may somewhat teach us what posterity is to fear.” Ecclesiastical Polity, bk. iv. sect. 8, with the note. Vol. i. p. 288, edit. Hanbury, 1830. How Laud acted with regard to these Foreign Churches, may be seen in bis Life by Heylyn, pt. ii. lib. iv. ann. 1634.
Baptism, and do publicly profess that it is the seed of the Church : yet we suffer no stranger to offer infants in Baptism, in our Churches, who hath not made public profession of his faith, and willingly submitted himself to the discipline of the Church, lest otherwise they who present their children to Baptism might, in time, plead that they belong to our Churches, and so should deceive the English Churches and their Ministers. To those which presented Infants to Baptism, they propounded three questions : the first was, ' Are these Infants which you offer, the seed of this Church, that they may lawfully be here baptized by our Ministry?' This instance is the more to be regarded, because A'Lasco affirmeth, in the Preface of that Book, that this liberty was by the King granted to them, out of his desire to settle a like reformation in the English Churches ; which, in effect, you see is the same with our practice in this particular.” a
“ Fifth Position : That the Power of Excommunication is so in the body of the Church that what the Major Part shall allow [that] must be done, though the Pastors and Governors and the rest of the Assembly be of another mind, and that, peradventure, upon more substantial reasons.'
* Ans.-If the question had been, Whether the Power of Excommunication lies in the Body of the Congregation, consisting of Officers and Members; our Answer should be affirmative, and according hereunto is also our practice ; and we hope your judginent and ours are not different herein : but, seeing the question is, Whether it is ‘so in
"Reply.--The 'practice of the Church of Strangers in London, received by John A'Lasco, is far different from your judgment and practice; not in some bycircumstances, but in the main point in question : for (first) your judgment is that true visible Believers --baptized and partakers of the Lord's Supper in other Churches not yet gathered into Church-estate or fellowship,- have no right or interest in the Seals; they, nor their seed. But this Church of Strangers held no such opinion; as their own words, which you have omitted, do plainly speak. * And Paul testifieth,' say they, that by Christ's Ordinance, the Church itself, without exception of any Member of it, is to be accounted clean or holy by the ministry of Baptism.' (Qy. ? Eph. v. 25—27.) Whence we may easily see that Baptism doth neither belong to those who are allogether without the Church, nor to be denied to any Member of the Church. Secondly; They held communion with the Church of England as one and the same with theirs : for so they profess, 'Yet nevertheless, that we may openly show that the English Churches and ours are one and the same Church, though we differ somewhat from them both in language and ceremonies; we do not refuse that the English may as public Witnesses of the Church, offer the Infants of our Members [!] to Baptism in our Churches, if they have both the use of our language and a certain testimony of their piety. As, in like manner, our Members are accustomed to offer the Infants of the English to Baptism in the English Church.' If your judgment be this, of the English Churches ; your judgment in acknowledging us Members of true Churches, and practice' in debarring visible Believers and their seed from the Seals, are opposite the one to the other. Thirdly; This order was observed by them to prevent the impostures' of some who, whilst they avoid all Churches,' pretend to the English, that they are 'joined' to the Strangers; and to the Strangers, that they are joined' to the English. But you debar known Christians, who desire to join themselves with you ; not to prevent impostures' of them who aroid all Churches.' Yea, you debar them as men having no right to the Sacraments, because they be not in Charch-fellowship! And herein you can show no precedent, ancient or modern, either from Scripture, or Monuments of the Church." [From this point, we pass over several pages and cannot, even though we would, quote from the remaining sections headed “ Reply,"]
the Body of the Congregation, that what the major part doth allow, &c.' our Answer is negative, namely, That the Power of Excommunication is not seated in the Congregation, neither ought it to be so in any of the Churches of the Lord Jesus; who ought not to carry matters, by number of votes, against God, as this 'Position' implieth ; but, by strength of rule and reason, according to God. The Power of the Apostles was not to do things against the truth, but for the truth,' 2 Cor. xiii. 8; and ' not for destruction,' but for edification,' 2 Cor. x. 8. And the same may be said concerning the Power which God hath given to the Church; and if any Church among us have swerved from the rule, - which is more than we know, we do not allow thein in such a practice, but should be ready, as the Lord should help, to convince them of their sin therein.
“Sixth Position : "That none are to be admitted, as (Set) Members, but they must promise not to depart or remove, unless the congregation will give leave.'
“ Ans.—Our answer hereto is, briefly, this. We judge it expedient, and most according to Rule, that such Brethren as are in covenant with the Church, and ours as fellow-members, and have committed their souls to our charge as Ministers; should not forsake our Fellowship, nor abruptly break away from us when and whither they please : but first approve themselves therein to their Brethren's consciences, and take their counsel in so weighty a matter. For which we propound, to consider these two reasons (or grounds] following. The former is drawn from the nature of the Church-covenant, which consists in these four particulars : First, Every Member, at his admission, doth openly profess, and solemnly promise, that, by Christ's help assisting, he will not only, in general, give up himself, -as to the Lord, to be guided by him, so— to the Church, according to God to be directed by it: which is no more than the Members of the Church of Macedonia did, in a parallel case;. but, also, in particular, that he will perform all duties of brotherly love and faithfulness to all the members of the body ; as, of diligent watchfulness over all his brethren, thereby to prevent sin ; so, of faithful admonition after their falls, to regain them to the Lord from their sin: the former being enjoined, Heb. iii. 13: and the want thereof deeply condemned in Cain, that would not acknowledge that duty of being his brother's keeper;'b the latter, given in charge to the Churchmembers of Israel, by the hand of Moses, and so by Christ himself;d and by Paul also.e Secondly; The engagements are not made only by the Members admitted into the Church, but by the Church back again to the Members. So that thereby the whole Church in general, and every Member thereof in particular, stand as well, in conscience, bound to perform all duties of love and watchfulness to him as he doth to them : and this we do according to the golden rule of love and equity, enjoined by our Saviour;' fearing that contrary practice of Scribes and Pharisees, so much condemned by Christ, of laying greater • burdens' upon others than we ourselves are willing to undergo. Thirdly; These Promises, thus lawfully and mutually made, that
2 Cor. viii. 5. e Gal. vi. 1, 2.
d Matt. xxviii. 15.
b Gen. iv. 9. e Levit. xix. 17.