قراءة كتاب The Divine Right of Church Government Wherein it is proved that the Presbyterian government, by preaching and ruling elders, in sessional, Presbyterial and synodical assemblies, may lay the only lawful claim to a divine right, according to the Holy Scrip
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The Divine Right of Church Government Wherein it is proved that the Presbyterian government, by preaching and ruling elders, in sessional, Presbyterial and synodical assemblies, may lay the only lawful claim to a divine right, according to the Holy Scrip
to dispense all church censures, as need shall require.
Let these and such like particulars in the independent way, differing from the presbyterial, be duly pondered, and then let the impartial and indifferent reader judge, whether they be not the deformities, at least the infirmities of that way.
III. How many true excellences are there in the way of the presbyterial government, wherein it utterly surpasses the independent government! Read but the particulars of the former parallel in the presbyterial government, and then consider how far this transcends, yea, how the independent government is indeed no government at all, to the presbyterial government; wherein is to be found such ample provision, and that according to the word of God, for comely order against confusion; for peace and unity of the Church against schism and division; for truth of the faith against all error and heresy; for piety and unblamableness against all impiety and scandal of conversation; for equity and right against all mal-administrations, whether ignorant, arbitrary, or tyrannical; for the honor and purity of all Christ's ordinances against all contempt, pollution, and profanation; for comfort, quickening, and encouragement of the saints in all the ways of Christ; and consequently for the honor of God and our Lord Jesus Christ in all the mysterious services of his spiritual sanctuary: all which rich advantages, how impossible is it they should ever be found in the independent government so long as it continues independent? And what though some pious minister and people embrace the independent way! This dazzles not the eyes of the intelligent, but of the infirm; we are to be regulated by Scripture warrant, not by human examples. The best of saints have failed in the ecclesiastical affairs; what a sharp contention was there between Paul and Barnabas, Acts xv. 39, &c.; what a dangerous dissimulation was there in Peter, the Jews, and Barnabas! Gal. ii. 11, 12, 13, &c.; and, therefore, it is not safe, prudent, or conscientious, to imitate all the examples of the best, and yet how few are those that have engaged themselves in the independent way, in comparison to the multitude of precious ministers and people, inferior to them neither in parts, learning, piety, nor any other spiritual gift, who are for the presbyterial way of church government! Notwithstanding, let all the true Israel of God constantly follow, not the doubtful practices of unglorified saints, but the written pleasure of the most glorious King of saints; and as many as walk according to this rule, peace shall be on them, and upon the Israel of God.
THE DIVINE RIGHT OF CHURCH GOVERNMENT.
OF THE NATURE OF A DIVINE RIGHT: AND HOW MANY WAYS A THING MAY BE OF DIVINE RIGHT.
That there is a Government in the Church of DIVINE RIGHT now under the New Testament.
Jesus Christ our Mediator hath the government (both of the Church, and of all things for the Church) laid upon his shoulder, Isa. ix. 6, and to that end hath all power in heaven and earth given to him, Matth. xxviii. 18, John v. 22, Ephes. i. 22. But lapsed man (being full of pride, Psal. x. 2, 4, and enmity against the law of God, Rom. viii. 7) is most impatient of all government of God and of Christ, Ps. ii. 1, 2, 3, with Luke xix. 14, 27; whence it comes to pass, that the governing and kingly power of Christ hath been opposed in all ages, and especially in this of ours, by quarrelsome queries, wrangling disputes, plausible pretences, subtle policies, strong self-interests, and mere violent wilfulness of many in England, even after they are brought under the oath of God to reform church government according to the word of God. Yet it will be easily granted that there should be a government in the Church of God, otherwise the Church would become a mere Babel and chaos of confusion, and be in a far worse condition than all human societies in the whole world: and that some one church government is much to be preferred before another, yea, before all other; as being most desirable in itself, and most suitable to this state; otherwise, why is the Prelatical government rejected, that another and a better may be erected instead thereof? But the pinch lies in this, Whether there be any government in the Church visible of divine right? And, if so, which of those church governments (which lay claim to a divine right for their foundation) may be most clearly evinced by the Scriptures to be of divine right indeed? If the former be convincingly affirmed, the fancy of the Erastians and semi-Erastians of these things will vanish, that deny all government to the Church distinct from that of the civil magistrate. If the latter be solidly proved by Scripture, it will appear, whether the monarchical government of the pope and prelates; or the mere democratical government of all the people in an equal level of authority, as among the Brownists; or the mixed democratical government of both elders and people within their own single congregation only, without all subordination of Assemblies, and benefit of appeals, as among the Independents; or rather the pure representative government of the presbytery or church rulers only, chosen by the people, in subordination to superior synodical assemblies, and with appeals thereto, as it is among the Presbyterians, be that peculiar government which Jesus Christ hath left unto his church, by divine right, and in comparison of which all others are to be rejected.
To draw things therefore to a clear and speedy issue about the divine right of church government, let this general proposition be laid down—
The Scriptures declare, That there is a government of DIVINE RIGHT in the visible Church of Christ now under the New Testament.
This is evident, 1 Cor. xii. 28, God hath set some in the Church, first, Apostles, secondly, Prophets, thirdly, Teachers—Helps, Governments; in which place these things are plain: 1. That here the Apostle speaks of the visible Church: for he had formerly spoken of visible gifts and manifestations of the Spirit given to profit this Church withal, ver. 7 to 12. He also compares this Church of God to a visible organical body, consisting of many visible members, ver. 12, 13, &c. And in this 28th verse he enumerates the visible officers of this Church. 2. That here the Apostle speaks of one general visible Church; for he saith not churches, but church, in the singular number, that is, of one; besides, he speaks here of the Church in such a latitude as to comprehend in itself all gifts of the Spirit, all members, and all officers, both extraordinary and ordinary, which cannot be meant of the church of Corinth, or any one particular church, but only of that one general Church on earth. 3. That this general visible Church here meant, is the Church of Christ now under the New Testament, and not under the Old Testament; for he mentions here the New Testament officers only, ver. 28. 4. That in the visible Church now under the New Testament, there is a government settled; for besides Apostles, Prophets, and Teachers, here is mention of another sort of officer distinct from them all, called, in the abstract, Governments, a metaphor from pilots, mariners, or shipmasters, who by their helm, card, or compass, cables, and other tacklings, guide, and order, turn and twine the ship as necessity shall require; so these officers called Governments, have a power of governing and