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A DISCOURSE OF THE Viſible Church.

In a large Debate of this famous Queſtion, viz. Whether the viſible Church may be conſider­ed to be truely a Church of Chriſt without re­ſpect to ſaving grace? Affirm.

Whereunto is added a brief diſcuſſion of theſe three Queſtions. viz.

  • 1. What doth conſtitute viſible Church-memberſhip.
  • 2. What doth diſtinguiſh it, or render it viſible.
  • 3. What doth deſtroy it, or render it Null?

Together with a large application of the whole, by way of Inference to our Churches, Sacraments, and Cenſures.

Alſo an Appendix touching Confirmation, occaſioned by the Reverend Mr. Hanmore his pious and learned Exercitation of Confirmation.

By FRANCIS FULWOOD Miniſter of the Goſ­pel at Weſt-Alvington in DEVON.

I ſaid I will alſo anſwer my part, I alſo will ſhew mine opinion,Job 32. 17.

For many be called, but few choſen,Mat. 20. 16. and 22. 14.

Rejicimus Catharos, Navatianos, Pelagianos, & Anabaptiſtas, qui peccatoribus nullum, ne in viſibli quidem eccleſia, locum relinquunt. Alſt. comp. Theol. part. 5. loc. 8.
Chriſtians truely regenerate are the members of the inviſible Church. It is the duty of the members of the viſible Church to be truely regenerate: Such are members of the viſible that are deſtitute of ſaving grace. Mr. Cotton of N. E. holineſſe of Church members. pag. 1.

LONDON, Printed by Tho. Ratcliffe, for Abel Roper at the Sun in Fleet­ſtreet, over againſt St. Dunſtans Church. 1658.


Maſter of that moſt famous Hoſpital called the CHARTER-HOƲSE; and one of the Honourable Truſtees for maintenance of MINISTERS;

FRANCIS FULWOOD, Formerly a Plant in that Excellent NURSERY;

Being earneſtly preſſed thereunto, by many Obligations of duty and gratitude;

Doth with all Humility, and due reſpectful­neſſe DEVOTE and DEDICATE this Polemical DISCOURSE of the CHURCH, &c.


OUR Reverend brother Mr. Francis Fulwood having taken great pains upon this queſtion, viz. whether the viſible Church may be conſide­red to be truely a Church of Chriſt with­out reſpect to ſaving grace;] which we con­ceive to be a ſubject both weighty and ſeaſonable: We the Mi­niſters of that part of the ſecond diviſion of the County of De­von, who are appointed to meet at Kings-bridge, do earneſtly deſire him to make theſe his worthy labours publick; we being fully perſwaded that they will prove very uſeful and acceptable to the Churches of God in this Nation, now ſo much troubled with this great Controverſie.

Signed by,
  • Robert Cary, Moderator.
  • John Buckley, Scribe.
In the Name and by the Appoint­ment of the Reſt.

TO THE REVEREND MY FATHERS and BRETHREN, The Aſſociated Miniſters in the County of DEVON.

Reverend and Worthy Sirs,

YOu well know that the Reformed Churches, have ever ſince they deſerved that name, been militant on both hands; with the Papiſt on the one, and with the Brownist, Anabaptiſt, &c. on the other. Againſt whom their first and maine ſcope was, indeed, to defend themſelves to be the Churches of Chriſt; yet, in purſuit of Argument, 'tis very evident they were ſtill driven to contend for the very being and nature of the ChurchRejicimus ca­tharos, novatia­nos, Pelagianos, & Anabaptiſtas qui peccatoribus nullum, ne invi­ſibili quidem eccleſia, locum Relinqunt. Alſt Comp. Theae. par. 5. loc. 1 in general, chiefly as inviſible againſt the Papiſt; and as viſible againſt the Browniſt &c.

The Browniſt, I humbly conceive, aſſaulted the Re­formed Churches, with theſe two Poſitions. 1. That a Church wherein there is a mixture of wicked perſons, at leaſt tolerated, cannot be a true Church. 2. That none but the Elect or the truely godly are members of the viſi­ble Church.

'Tis confeſt, this leaven was laid in the Church long a­gon,Andiani popter hominum vitia, coetum Ortho­doxae eccleſiae deſeruit, quod donatiſtarum erroris poſtoa ſuit ſeminarium Dan. in Aug. de Her. p. 976 even in the time of Cyprian, as Augustine obſer­veth, and afterward kneaded in the lump by Donatus, and its ſourneſſe diffuſed very farre by the heat of his followers; yet it was timely and effectually purged out by the learned and elaborate induſtry, and wonderful ſucceſs of Auguſtine,

But this ulcer broke ſadly out again upon the Refor­mation, and notwithſtanding as to hic and nunc, to time and place. The Church hath been hitherto competently healed of it, through the zealous, inſtant, and effectual endeavours of many of her champions; yet grievous ex­perience hath ſtill found that at other times, or in other places the botch hath riſen and broke afreſh with a more noiſome ſtench, and a more ſpreading and infecting na­ture, then ever it had done before; how evident and notorious is this in our calamitous Churches in England at this day? how doth this diſeaſe range, and its corrupti­on ſpread over us, having gotten its throne in the very heart of the people.

Wherefore, I having alſo been formerly called forth, both to a vocal and Scriptural defence of our Churches a­gainſtA Sermon and diſpute had at Wiviliſcome in Somerſet, and Printed: 1654 the firſt of theſe errours; and there being ſome ſpecial occaſion, ariſing from ſome late ſcruples among my neighbouring brethren, inviting me to deal with this latter of them; this alſo being looked upon, not by my ſelf alone, but by divers godly and Learned Divines, to be the very core and root of moſt of our Controverſies, both about our Churches, Sacraments and Cenſures, I deſire that this may be accepted to you, my Reverend Brethren, as all the publick Apology, I thought fit to ſet before this my great and bold, yet humble undertaking.

However I ſhall crave your patience a little longer, while I ſhall labour to prevent miſtake and unjuſt pre­judices againſt the Treatiſe, by ſetting down my minde as clearly as I can in a few following particu­lars.

1. And firſt, I am fully perſwaded, that ſuch as have for their ſcandal of the brethren been juſtly excommuni­cated by the Church, ought not to be received into com­munion again, without the evidence of ſuch repent­ance as is in the judgement of rational charity, ſaving for the end of the cenſure is, that the fleſh (of the offen­der) may be deſtroyed, and the ſpirit ſaved; and in rea­ſon, the means ſhould remain applied, till the cure be in likelihood done.

2. Againe, I fully conſent with that Reverend man Maſter James Wood, that ſuch as have notorious marks of impenitency or unregeneracy upon them, ought not, while ſuch, notwithſtanding the profeſſion, to be ad­mitted or received into the communion of the Church, at firſt; though, I dare not determine, what is the true and next reaſon of their repulſion. Mr. Wood ſaith, the rea­ſon is not, becauſe they appear unregenerate, but becauſe a ſcandalous life is contrary to the very outward profeſſion of the faith.

But may I have leave to demand, how contrary? certainly not ſo contrary to it, but that it is con­ſiſtent with it; otherwiſe a ſcandalous Profeſſour of the faith, would be a contradiction, and the very ground of the queſtion is gone. Indeed here is practice contrary to profeſſion, but not profeſſion contrary to pro­feſſion; and practice contrary to profeſſion may conſiſt with profeſsion, for they profeſſe to know God, though in works they deny him.

If it be replied, that a ſcandalous life is contrary to the faith profeſſed, and ſo the profeſſion appears coun­terfeit; I crave leave to ask once more, whether faith here be taken objectivè, or ſubjectivè; if objectivè, for the doctrine profeſſed, or the Will of God revealed to be beleeved; then it may ſtill be affirmed that the profeſſion of the Scripture, or an outward owning of the Will and Word of God is not inconſiſtent with a converſa­tion contrary thereunto; then why may not ſuch whoſe practice is contrary either to their profeſſion, or to the Scripture, which they yet profeſſe be received by the Church, if no other reaſon but this be aſſign­able?

If it be ſaid that a ſcandalous life is contrary to the faith, in ſenſu formali, vel ſubjectivo; and that a wick­ed converſation declareth that the Profeſſor doth not be­lieve as he profeſſeth, and is to be rejected therefore, as a counterfeit: Once more, I demand, whether this faith profeſſed, be conſidered as ſaving, or as common? if as ſaving, then Mr. Wood his cauſe is yeelded, who is now oppoſing Reverend Maſter Baxter with this aſſerti­on, that wicked men are not to be rejected formally, be­cauſe their wickedneſſe is a ſigne of unregeneracy, but materially, becauſe it is contrary to the profeſſion of the faith; if as common, or as other hiſtorical or dogmatical; then, though I grant that all thoſe whoſe wickedneſſe is ſuch as cannot conſiſt with a real, common, or hiſto­rical faith, ought not to be admitted: yet I deny the hypotheſis, that all wickedneſſe is ſuch as is inconſiſtent with ſuch a real common faith; that common faith is in its kinde a true faith, and that this true common faith is conſiſtent with a wicked heart and life; are two Propoſitions as little doubted by moſt Divines, as much confirmed by ſad experience; and largely diſ­courſed in the Treatiſe following; Sunt in eo coetu (viz. eccleſiae viſibilis) multi electi & alii non Sancti, ſed ta­men de verâ doctrinâ conſentientes. Phil. Melanct. part. Sept. p. 33.

Others may have leave to think that ſuch ſcandalous perſons ought not to be admitted into the Church, be­cauſe of the ſcandal that would come to Religion thereby; and becauſe that in this ſenſe ſcandal is contrary to the profeſſion of the faith; the Church thus drawing a blot and diſparagement upon her ſelfe, as if ſhe was ready to open her boſome to any vile, unclean, unre­formed perſons; and truely, I humbly conceive there is very much in this; for if the Church ought to have a care that thoſe already within, cauſe not the wayes of God to be evil ſpoken of, why ought ſhe not to have the like care touching thoſe, ſhe is about to let in? or why ſhould thoſe be admitted into the commu­nity, that now appear to be ſuch as are preſently to be caſt out of communion? but I preſume this is not all. For,

3. From the premiſes, it ſeemes at leaſt probable to me that the Church is to have ſome kinde of re­ſpect unto the ſaving condition of the perſon ſhe is a­bout to admit into communion; though I donbt not to aſſert with our brethren N. E. and Reverend Ma­ſter Baxter that a ſober and humble profeſſion of faith and repentance with a deſire of Baptiſme, is as much evidence of this ſaving condition as the Church is bound to expect; without any farther poſitive proofs of con­verſion.

4. Yet, I humbly conceive, that more then a bare outward profeſſion is requiſite to give real intereſt in the viſible Church, and the previledges thereof, before God; though no more is requiſite to give viſible intereſt be­fore men; and that there is ſufficient ground for the trite diſtinction of right, here, Coram Deo, & ecclſia; for the Churches judgement of mens right muſt paſſe with her adminiſtrations upon viſible or appearing ſignes, by their outward profeſſion; but Gods upon re­al; for the viſible Church is really a Church with God, as well as the inviſible; though the Church is bound to believe a profeſſion that is made upon deſigne, as the Jews at New Caſtle was; yet God knows his wicked­neſſe, and count him a dogg eating the childrens bread out of the hand of Church; deceived by his falſneſſe, but not erring, becauſe profeſſion is her onely rule in the caſe.

If it be demanded, what is more required, beſides profeſſion to give real intereſt in the viſible Church, IMulti enim ſunt non renai vel hypocritae, conſentientes, tamen de do­ctrina & riti­bus extcrnis, ſen eſt coetus con­ſentientium de doctrina, habens multa membra mortua ſen non regeneratos, Ma. 7. 21. Mat. 13. 24. par. in Urſ. cat. 343. have at large anſwered in the Treatiſe, that in Adult perſons about to be admitted a real, actual, and not fain­ed conſent; but in perſons borne in the Church, and baptiſed in their Infancy, and now at the adult eſtate, a non-diſſent, a not diſſenting from, or a not rejecting of the truth, and wayes of the Lord, at leaſt; for all that are of the viſible Church muſt be one of theſe ways, either negatively or poſitively conſentientes to true do­ctrine, as Melancton before, as wel as outward profeſſors of it.

4. Yet I muſt ſtill hold my maine Propoſition, till I ſee more reaſon to let it go, that unregenerate perſons once received into the Church, are notwithſtanding their unregeneracy or their want of evidences of ſaving grace, really or truely members of the viſible Church, till they cut themſelves off by Hereſie, Schiſme, or the perfection of both, Apostaſie, or at leaſt are caſt out by Church-cen­ſure; what reaſons, what authorities from the Scriptures and the Church, I ſhew for it, and what abſurdities I alledge againſt the contrary opinion, muſt be left to your cenſure in the reading of the Treatiſe. Onely that it may paſſe here a little the more freely, I cannot but adde the remembrance of one or two late moſt eminent and full Teſtimonies; Mr. Hooker of New England ſaithSurvey of Church diſci­pline. p. 36. that externally thoſe are within the Covenant (and conſe­quently, the Church) who expreſſing their repentance with their profeſſion of the truth, engage themſelves to walk in the wayes of God, and the truth of his worſhip, though they have not for the preſent that ſound work of faith in their hearts, and may be never ſhall have it wrought by Gods Spirit in them. Maſter Norton alſo a Miniſter of N. E. to this very queſtion whether truthAgainſt Apol. p. 3. of grace be required to viſible Church-memberſhip anſwereth, one may be admitted into the Church-communion of the external (or viſible) Church that is not endowed with the real inward holineſſe of regeneration and justify­ing faith in Chriſt; or that upon a ſtrict examination ſhall not give ſignes of true faith, and inward holineſse, which may convince the conſcience, touching the ſincerity of their faith, &c.

Maſter Cobbet alſo of N. E. more plainly ſaith, that albeit a mans own perſonal faith uniteth to Chriſt, in re­ſpectHisbook of In­fant baptiſm. p. 57. of ſaving and inviſible union; yet the profeſſion of faith before a viſible Church, uniteth to Chriſt as Head of the viſible Church, whether the party be ſincere or not; and thoſe that are ſo admitted being unregenerate or de­ſtitute of ſaving grace continue ſo to be, viz. members of the viſible Church, notwitſtanding until they juſtly de­priveCottons holines of Church-members. p. 1. themſelves of the priviledge of that fellowſhip, as Mr. Cotton affirmeth.

I know not why I may not here adde thoſe peni­tent words of our moſt Reverend and Learned Maſter Baxter, This, ſaith he, is the other cauſe of the Schiſ­maticalDiſputations. p. 38, 39. inclination of ſome godly people, viz. the great miſtake of too many, in confining all the fruits of Chriſts dead; and the mercies and graces of God to the Elect; and ſo not conſidering the difference that ever was and will be between the viſible Church of Profeſſors, and the inviſible Church of true beleevers. Now if there be indeed a difference, the viſible Church of Profeſſors is larger then the inviſible Church of true beleevers, and con­ſequently there are ſome in the viſible, that are not in the inviſible, i. e. the unregenerate, to whom thoſe fruits of Chriſt, death, and the mercies and grace of God belong, that are not to be confined to the Elect.

5. Therefore it follows that to be truely regene­rate is onely a neceſſary duty of Church-members, butThough we acknowledge ſuch only to be ſincere Chriſtians who ſerve God with upright hearts yet thoſe are not to be deni­ed to be Chri­ſtians, who make ſo much as a general profeſſion of Chriſt. Mr. Ho. Catech. p. 75. Holineſſe of members. p. 1. not a condition of their memberſhip. I meane, viſible; that is, all Church-members ought to be inwardly ho­ly, but yet men may be, and doubtleſſe thouſands are, truely members of the viſible Church, that are de­ſtitute of ſuch holineſſe; this is ſo happily and fully expreſſed by Mr. Cotton, that I ſhall make bold to give you my full ſenſe of it, in his moſt clear and excel­lent words.

Chriſtians (ſaith he) truely regenerete are the members of the inviſible Church; it is the duty of the members of the viſible Church to be truely regenerate; ſuch are members of the viſible, that are destitute of ſpiritu­al grace; plainly intending that to be regenerate is the condition without which men cannot be members of the Church in inviſible. 2. To be regenerate is the duty of all the members of the viſible Church alſo. 3. But to be regenerate is onely the duty and not the condition of viſible Church-members, for they may be ſuch with­out it.

And truely thoſe that do affirme theſe two Propo­ſitions. 1. That we ought to expect a profeſſion of ſaving faith in all we admit. 2. That the viſible Church hath ſome hypocrites, that are its members; muſt needs allow the diſtinction, viz. that ſaving grace is the duty, becauſe themſelves require the pro­feſſion of it; but not the neceſſary condition of vi­ſible memberſhip, ſeeing they alſo acknowledge that perſons may be members thereof without it.

6. Further, I affirme that no perſon being onceHolineſs of the Churches of N. E. p. 89 admitted, is to be ejected or caſt out for any thing but ſcandal; for we (ſaith Maſter Cotton) proceed not to cenſure, but in caſe of known offence, and ſuch offence as cannot be healed without cenſure. Yea, ſcandal, qua tale, or as it is of­fence to others, and not as it is a ſigne of unregenera­cy; therefore Ametius ſaith, proprium & adequatum ob­jectumde conſc. p. 252 hujus cenſurae eſt ſcandalum, viz. fratris; from Matth. 18. 15. Si peccaverit in te frater; 'tis the ſinne that offends, not unregeneracy, 'tis the offence that is admoniſh'd for, and not unregeneracy; ſatisfaction is required for the offence and not for unregeneracy; the offence indulg'd is the leaven that would ſpread and ſowre the lump of the Church; and laſtly, 'tis the offence that is onely to be known and proved, and not the want of grace or unregeneracy; for, as Reve­rend Maſter Baxter, 'Tis a matter of ſuch exceeding diffi­cultyDiſp. 3. 340, 341 to conclude another to be certainly graceleſſe, that it is not one of the multitudes, nay, 'tis but few of the commonly ſcandalous groſſe ſinners that we ſhould be a­ble to prove it by. Yet, 1. We muſt cenſure all the ſcandalous; if ſcandal be the adequate object of cen­ſure. 2. We muſt cenſure for none but known and proved ſcandal, for the other is not properly or legally ſcandal. Known offence, as Maſter Cotton before. 3. Therefore we are not to cenſure for unregeneracy, which we can prove or know by, but very few of the ſcandalous and groſſeſt ſinners, as Maſter Baxter notes; for how unreaſonable is it to puniſh men with ſo great and certain a penalty for an uncertain and preſumed crime; or as the ſame Reverend man hath it, be ſo hea­vilyDiſp p. 34, 35 puniſh'd before they be judg'd and heard. I ſhall put an end to this, in thoſe apt and full words of Re­verend Maſter Hooker of N. E. If any (ſaith he)Survey. p. 42. after they be received, ſhall be found not to be added of God, becauſe they be not regenerated, yet we are not to caſt them out for non-regeneration even known.

7. But with your favour, I muſt now needs note, that all that hath been ſaid, hath not punctually ex­preſſed our own caſe, our common concernment in England, who generally come into the Church in our Infancy, and are not admitted thereinto upon our perſonal profeſſion at yeares of diſcretion, as Hea­thens are to be; and of which moſt of our contro­verſies about the way of admiſſion, now are. For my part, I humbly conceive there are but two maine queſtions about Church-memberſhip that need much trou­ble us. 1. Whether the Infants of Church-mem­bers are borne in the Church, and to be baptized? 2. What is that which unchurcheth them after­terwards? It cannot but be heartily wiſh'd, that a­ny heat that is or may be ſpent about the conditions of admitting Heathens into the Church, might be ſa­ved till a practical occaſion requires it, viz. till ſuch a Heathen ſhall ſue for baptiſme, whoſe profeſſion or right is truely diſputable. I muſt freely profeſſe, I cannot like that way of reaſoning [The parent, if he were not baptized ſhould not be baptized himſelf, therefore his childe ſhould not be baptized;] for in all caſes that will keep out, that cannot caſt out; whether Civil, Military, or Eccleſiaſtical. Poſitive conſent is requi­red upon admiſſion, but a negative, (a non-rejecting the Goſpel) is ſufficient to retaine in the Church; diſtraction of one that was borne in the Church will not caſt him out; yet who would admit a diſtra­cted Heathen, while ſuch, a perſon known to be un­regenerate would hardly be received while ſuch; yet known unregeneracy is not ſufficient to caſt a man out;As Mr. Hooker before. a ſcandalous perſon may be a Church-member, and is ſo doubtleſſe, till he be excommunicate, and while ſo, he is in the Covenant within, and his child is born in the Church, and hath right to baptiſme; but I ſhall crave leave to ſignifie my mind a little more clearly herein by a few ſteps further.

8. To draw a little neerer to our ſelves and our own common caſe, I therefore adde, that children borne of Church members, and baptized in infancy, are borne and baptized Church-members; and though our caſe require it not, yet, I doubt not to ſay, that the childes right in the Church and Baptiſme, doth not neceſſarily depend upon a vocal profeſſion (on pur­poſe) of its parents, who yet abide in the faith, and ſtate of profeſſion (as is hereafter largely diſcuſs'd;) for in Infants, their being borne in the Church, is inſtead of an outward profeſſion, as Biſhop Uſher af­firmeth. His ſum of re­ligion about Baptiſme.

Yet, I verily beleeve the childes actual poſſeſſion of Baptiſme (not of the Church, or Church-member­ſhip) depends with the higheſt conveniency upon the parents claiming it, and expreſſe owning the faith in­to which he deſires his childe may be baptized, and his publick undertaking to bring it it up in the fear of the Lord according to that, now, moſt general and laudable cuſtome of the Churches of Chriſt amongſt us; which uſage carrieth in my opinion, as cleare a tendency to Reformation and order, as any one practice not expreſſe in Scripture now exerciſed; and truely ſuch as ſeemes to me a great deal liklier to prevail with our people to a publick owning their obligations to God, then any other courſe whereupon we haply fix greater expectations; as (to my obſervation) leſſe obnoxious to the jealouſies and murmurs of a diſturbed diſtracted and diſcontented generation.

9. Againe, thoſe that were borne in the Church and baptized in their infancy continue in their right and poſſeſſion of Church-memberſhip (as well as thoſe admitted upon perſonal profeſſion at the adult eſtate) until they are juſtly deveſted thereof by themſelves or the Church as before; or (in Maſter Cottens plaine and pertinent words the ſuffrage of N. E.) Such as are borne of Chriſtian parents, and baptized in theirHis holineſs of members. p. 1 infancy, into the fellowſhip of the Church, are initi­ated members of the ſame Church, though deſtitute of ſpiritual grace, until they juſtly deprive themſelves of the priviledge of that fellowſhip; yea, that ſuch are not to be cenſured, much leſſe diſmembred butHis way of the Churches. p. 89 with p. 51. upon known ſcandal; and that they may claime the Supper alſo in the ſame Church wherein they were baptized, if no exception lie againſt them;which Learned Maſter Baxter hath ſealed alſo, for, ſaith he, no Church member ought to be kept from Church-com­munion,Diſp. 3. p. 294 with p. 104. of his Reſt. (much leſſe cut off from the community,) but upon ſome juſt accuſation of a crime which he was ſince guilty of, more then he was at his ad­mittance.

Conſequently the children of theſe ought alſo to be reckoned members of the Church, and to be Bapti­zed, to ſucceed in their parents profeſſion, who live and die in a ſtate of profeſſion from one generation to another, without exacting any poſitive proofes or evidence of converſion, or ſaving grace in the parents; for they ſtand in poſſeſſion, and 'tis not juſt for any to queſtion their Title, much leſſe to void it, without a poſitive diſproving of it; which can by no way be done without the cenſure of the Church upon evidence of obſtinacy in known ſcan­dal; which I confirme and conclude with thoſe ex­cellent words of worthy Maſter Baxter. ThoſeDiſp. p. 34: 34. therefore that will any mans childe kept back from Baptiſme for their parents unholineſſe, or perſons kept from the Supper, muſt not expect that men bring proof to them of their holineſſe, beyond their profeſſion of it, but muſt deale by them as by o­ther notorious offenders, even admoniſh them of their unholy miſcarriages; and he may not be ſo heavily puniſh'd before he be judged or heard.

10. Thus we are at length arrived at our very caſe (which I deſire may be ſeriouſly conſidered;) who after our fathers, and our fathers fathers; time out of minde, did generally come into the Church, when we came into the world, being borne of Chri­ſtian parents, and ſuch as lived and died in a ſtate of profeſſion, and do continue the ſucceſſion of the ſame unto this day, without rejecting the faith or the Church into which we were baptized, or yet be­ing rejected or cenſured by the Church for obſtinate continuing in any know ſcandal.

Wherefore give me leave (my Worthy brethren) to intimate againe, that if any queſtion yet remaine a­bout our memberſhip; 'tis not to be reſolved by de­bating what qualifications we ought to require in adult perſons who deſire admiſſion or baptiſme, a caſe that hardly happens once in an age; but what it is that nulls the memberſhip of perſons at age, that were borne Chriſtians, and baptized in their infancy; as we generally were in England.

This is the center where all the lines drawn like ſwords about moſt of our controverſies muſt point at laſt; a ſound and effectual diſcuſſion of this would doubtleſſe be a happy means of charming the great noiſe amongſt us; according to the determination of this, moſt of our opini­ons and practices would eaſily be enforced one way or o­ther; thought, if without offence, I may ſo complain, this is the thing that is leaſt thought on.

I have venture in the Treatiſe upon one great and moſt ſpecial queſtion under this: whither, I conceive, we muſt needs be driven upon the debating of the means of unchurching, viz. whether the want of ſaving grace be inconſiſtent with viſible Church-memberſhip, and have afterwards, though more briefly conſidered, the general queſtion, what doth not, and what doth un­church more diſtinctly; as alſo what doth conſtitute and evidence viſible Church-memberſhip. Many other things are likewiſe occaſionally diſcuſs'd, ſome more briefly; and ſome more largely, according as I thought them more or leſſe ſerviceable to my maine deſigne; and at laſt, have added a large application of the whole to our Church­es, and to our adminiſtrations; wherein ſome haply may judge me too large, and others too ſtrict meaſuring me (as moſt men are wont to do the books they read) by the model and idea of things that prepoſſeſſeth them; though (Reverend Sirs) I cannot but hope better of you, and do hereby cheerfully, (yet in true humility) firſt caſt my ſelf upon your candour, and then upon your cenſure and due admonition in any thing you ſhall find amiſſe.

In the mean while, truely this is a comfort to me, that though ſome, whoſe principles ſeem ſtricteſt, may ſuſpect that mine may favour wickedneſſe, or not pro­mote the reformation of the people; I am moſt fully perſwaded, that there is no other lawful or poſſible way of a ſound reformation, of ſhaming ſinne, and encoura­ging holineſſe, but that which leads from theſe prin­ciples, which I defend. I ſhould humbly beſeech ſome abler pen to make trial (if there be any doubt at all of it) whether, keeping to this maine principle [the truth of our Churches] he can poſſibly go in any other courſe, or further in the ſame courſe towards their ends, then I have done; the truth is I rather feare the exceptions of thoſe who judge me too ſtrict, then of thoſe that cen­ſure me too large.

Onely one thing more I moſt earneſtly begge, not for my own, but for Sions ſake, I earneſtly begge, though we cannot be in ever thing of one minde, yet let us have but one heart, and walk together in one way, untill we muſt needs part, reſting upon the promiſe, Phil. 3. 15.

But (O my dear brethren) wherein ſo ver we muſt differ, what urging, crying, reaſon is there that we ſhould unite as one man, to maintain our Churches in Eng­land, that great dipoſitum put into our hands by our ance­ſtors, our very Birth-right, and the greateſt inheritance we can poſſibly leave our poſterity after us! what heed is requiſite to keep out all diſputes as well as principles, that may but ſeeme to queſtion them? how are they ſtruck at on every ſide, how undermined? how doth diviſion and Hereſie dai­ly moulder them? what a deluge of Popery is ready to overwhelme them?

The Sects which daily encreaſe and ſpread upon us (as a Learned man from beyond the Seas com­plaines)Notum eſt quot Sectae in Europa a reformatione ſurrexerint & in dies ſurgunt, ſuis commentis pernitioſae, & ſua variotate notabiles immo nec non alicubi ſuis auſibus formidabiles. Hot. tol. Chriſt. p. 119. Impoſſibile eſt ut vel per ſecu­lum ſerventur, &c. p. 118 How pernitious are they in their Hereſies, how notable in their variety, and how formidable in their attempts! The ſame Authour obſerves, that after the manner of mans judging, It is impoſſible that the Proteſtant Churches ſhould be preſerved one age longer againſt ſo great and ſo united a force, a­gainſt ſuch depths of device and policy of the Sea of Rome, unleſſe they grow wiſer, and at length think more ſeriouſly of uniting among themſelves; and who knows but that this force may fall, and the plot take firſt on England? yea, what fear ſhould ſtrike us, what trembling ſhould take hold upon us, to think how we, e­ven we in the Ministry, to whom the care of the Church is committed, ſtand guilty of provoking our God to give us up to the cruelty of ſuch as have rent them­ſelves from us, for our cauſing, affecting, indulging, or ſuffering parties for our own undiſcerned, ſehiſmati­cal inclinations; or elſe to remove his Candleſticks from us who have had ſo little care of his Church; or to reſigne us in wrath to the luſt and tyranny of bloody Popery, who have almoſt loſt our Proteſtantiſme for a Reformation. As, my dear Brethren, ſhould our neg­lect of charity, unity, purity; ſhould our vanity, oſcitancy, or any other kinde of folly, indeed prevaile with God to let in a deluge of Popery upon England, and by England upon all the Reformation, ſhould I ſay (which the God of truth for ever avert) the ruines of all Proteſtantiſm lie on us, how ſad would the weight, yea, how dreadful may the thought thereof be? Quantum quaeſo ſcanda­lum? vae autem illi per quem evenit & per quem ſtat ut non tollatur.

The Lord humble us, the Lord awaken us, ſhew us our danger, ſtrike us together, that as one man, of one head, one heart, one hand, we may at length think of ſaving our ſelves, our Goſpel, our Churches from that immanent danger, which though every one ſpeak of, yet how few feel, or lay to heart; anaeternum (as the Authour above admires) adeouſque incauti per manebimus, ut videre, nec quidem ſen­tire poſſimus, illos prorſus irreconciliabiles adverſarios ex aequo partis ruinam, per-utriuſque ſchiſſuram a ſe invicem Me­ditari?

But I fear leaſt ſome may be apt to cenſure this my un­dertaking, as likely to make more breaches and diviſi­ons amongſt us, but the Lord knows how I have laboured to avoid any ſuch thing; and that had I not thought that the way wherein I ſtand was a middle way, wherin I might eaſily ſhake hands with my brethren on both ſides, and la­bour to draw them neerer together, I had never been ſo publick upon this ſubject; this cenſure may haply be caſt unjuſtly upon me by thoſe that do not read me, it cannot be juſtly by ſuch as do Yea, my Reverend Bre­thren, let me conclude with this free and bold aſſertion, that one of the greateſt motives, inducing me at firſt to study, and now to publiſh this diſcourſe, was ſome good hopes, that if this point of the viſible Church and its mem­berſhip was but once laid in its juſt latitude, it might (through mercy) prove a happy means of bring us to ſee many of our errours and cauſeleſſe differences in the cir­cumference, while we are agreed and meet in the cen­ter, and to draw more direct and cloſer lines there­from hereafter; the hearty, earneſt, humble, deſire, begging, and prayer of

Deareſt Brethren,
Your unworthy brother and co-worker in the ſervice of Chriſt and his Goſpel, FRANCIS FULWOOD.


  • TWenty Abſurdities following this poſition, that ſaving grace is of the eſſence of the viſible Caurch. p. 165. to p. 171.
  • That which partaketh of the accidental frme of a thing, muſt needs partake alſo of the ſubſtantial forme of that thing, proved. 68. and 112, 113, 114
  • Beleeving is Virtual, or Actual. 29
  • Some do not actually beleeve, others re­nounce the faith. 29, 30, 31
  • Perſons may be paſſively bound, when they do not actively binde themſelves 97.
  • The largeſt acceptation not always the leſſe proper. 111
  • The difference betwixt the infant ſtate and the adult. 134. to 142
  • Adult perſons become Chriſtians, how? 177, to 181
  • Admonition diſtinguiſhed, and preſſed. pag-285, 286. a Church cenſure. ibid.
  • A diſcourſe of the terms Equivocum, Univocum, Axalogum, as applica­ble to the Church. 21, 22, 23. the eager diſpute about it is unworthy Di­vines. 22. Logicians differ about the application of them. 22. The de­ſire of the Reverend brethren is that we lay aſide theſe diſtinctions, and ſolely adhere to the terme in the queſtion, viz. truely a Church of Chriſt. 21
  • Titles equivalent to Church-member given by God himſelf in Scripture to wicked men. 126. to 134
  • The Church is totum aggregativum, diſcuſſed, the nature of aggregatives. 7, 8.
  • Rational aggregative bodies differ from inanimate heaps. 114. yet the forme of ſuch lieth in aggregation. 115
  • The Anabaptiſts objection againſt our Churches Anſwered. p. 207, 298
  • Apoſtaſie unchurcheth men as it is a genus or a compoſitum of Hereſie and Schiſme. 203, 204
  • The onely ebjection Artificially framed againſt my main concluſion anſwered. 105, &c.
  • Auguſtines judgement about the point, diſcovered. 151, 152
  • Authour of the Church, viz. God may be ſo conſidered without the beſtowing of ſaving grace. p. 43.
  • Ameſius aſſerts both the Catholick and particular Church to be integral. p. 6. his difference 'twixt eccleſia in genere, and eccleſia Catholi­ca. 5
  • Baptiſme the right of ſome graceleſſe parents, children, p. 212, 213. as alſo of the openly profane. p. 213, to 217. as alſo of the excommu­nicate, and ſuch as receive not the Supper. 217.
  • Baptiſme enters into ſome kinde of right unto all other Ordinances proved. 257, 258, 259
  • Beleeving is Virtual. Actual. p. 29, 30
  • Bound, ſome are paſſively, whom they do not actively binde themſelves. 97.
  • The Browniſts held that ſaving grace was eſſential to the viſible Church, which our Church adjudged an error in them. 156, 157
  • The Browniſt objection againſt our Churches anſwered. p. 208, 209, 210
  • What Cenſures are. 284
  • Cenſure are two, Admonition, and Ex­communication. 285
  • Before Cenſures are paſt, we may not account the ſcandalous to be without. 289, 290
  • We are bound to proceed againſt the ſcandalous in a way of Cenſure. 291, 292
  • Members are froward to cenſure. 292 The great hindrance of reformation. 293
  • The Called and the Church are of e­qual latitude. The Elect are mem­bers of the Church onely as called. 36
  • Some non-Elect, yet called in Chriſts account. 36, and 38
  • Calling is Active direct. Paſſive, reflex. Partialis. this Totalis. 65
  • How the common call is effectual, with an Apology for the terme. 36, 37, 38
  • The common call a true call, pro­ved. 38
  • The Cauſes of the Church have no neceſſary reſpect to ſaving grace. 42, &c.
  • The ſumme of the Argument from the cauſes. 97
  • The Church is an individual inte­grum, p. 4. and totum aggregati­vum.
  • The Churches being conſiſteth not in con­ſideration onely. 20
  • The onely true Church the reformed ſenſe about it. 105, &c.
  • The excommunicate are of the Church, and have both habitual and actual communion with it. 194
  • Communion in Ordinances fitter to de­fine the Church by, then perſonal qua­lifications. 87, to 92. ſhewn by ſeven conſiderations.
  • Community, yet more neceſſary. 93, 94, 95, 96. proved by ſix Rea­ſons.
  • Conference why deſired with all our peo­ple. 279. and why before the Sacra­ment rather then at any other time. 280. why not before every admini­ſtration. 280
  • Conſent is given by ſeeming diſſenters that the command to receive is medi­ate. 236, 237
  • Conſent how far neceſſary to ones being in Covenant. 187
  • Conſent negative keeps men in Covenant. 188
  • What is conſtitutive of viſible member­ſhip, Mr. Cottons, and Mr. Hudſons anſwer to this conſidered.
  • The Covenant of the Church conſidered. 96, 97, 98. little reaſon to diſpute much about it. 98
  • Covenant is implicite or actual; an a­ctual Covenant is mental, or vcal cal­led expreſſe. 98
  • Knowledge dark and general, conſist­ent with being in Covenant. 188, 189
  • Church is taken ſtrictly, largely; the Church largely taken is ſo compara­tive and abſolute, by the Reformed Divines. 109, 111
  • Confirmation not uſed as a new admiſ­ſion into the Church. 138
  • Ours are true Churches, and rightly con­ſtitute. 204, &c.
  • In what Court is ſelf-examination to be held.
  • Our Churches are made up of three ſorts of people, a middle and two extreams. 296
  • Denying the Supper to ſome, the nega­tive and poſitive grounds of it. 259, to 271
  • Definitions of the viſible Church given us by the reformed Divines, take not in ſaving grace. 100, &c.
  • One definition may be given to the Church as largely taken, and another as ſtrictly taken; and yet there may be but one Church. 116, 117, 118
  • Divorce is given by God to men; either mediately, or immediately, and both two wayes. 196, 197
  • 〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, in 1 Cor. 11. 28. largely ex­amined. 241, to 249
  • Dogmatical faith meerly is not ſuf­ficient to entitle to memberſhip. 118
  • Dogmatical faith is the proper prin­ciple of profeſſion of faith; yet none ever really profeſſed the Do­ctrine of faith, but he hath ſome­thing of an Applicative faith, common or ſaving. 62
  • We may not proceed against wick­ed members but by diſcipline. 283
  • Eccleſia aequivoca ſhut out of this contro­verſie. 21, 22
  • The Efficient of the viſible Church may be conſidered without reſpect to ſaving grace. 42, &c.
  • The proper end of the Ʋiſible Church, is cultus gloriae Dei, and is attainably without ſaving grace. 46, 47, 48, 49
  • Evidence of Church-memberſhip, what giveth it to others. 181, 182, 226
  • Evidence of ſaving grace not neceſ­ſary upon the examining our ſelves, to warrant our coming to the Supper, proved. 245, to 249
  • The Excommunicate are members, more then potentia, or conditiona­liter. 192. they have both habitual and actual cōmunion with the Church. 194 They may be known to be Church-members. 182, 183
  • Self-Examination, what it is not. p. 240, 241. What it is. p. 241 In what court it is held. p. 242, 243, 244, 245. What is the ne­ceſſary iſſue of it. p. 246, 247, 248
  • Who are to be judged not to examine themſelves. 268, 269, 270
  • Saving grace not of the Eſſence, yet of the excellency of the viſible Church. 32, 33
  • Faith is True and ſaving. True and not ſaving. p. 28
  • Faith true and not ſaving, proved. 81, to 86
  • Faith is Virtual. Actual. p. 29
  • Some do not actually beleeve, others re­nounce the faith. 29, 30
  • Some do formally, and ſome onely by conſequence deny the faith. 31, 32
  • Faith is Relative Qualitative. p. 83
  • Relative or foederal faith is ſeated in the childe, and not in the parent. 83, 84
  • The viſible Church hath a real con­ſtitutive form, not depending upon ſa­ving grace. 65
  • 1. This forme is not external vocation. 65, 66.
  • 2. Nor external profeſſion. pag 66, 67
  • 3. Nor faith. 70
  • But community reſpecting communion in Gods worſhip. 70, to 74
  • That which partakes of the accidental Forme of any thing, muſt needs partake alſo of the eſſential forme of that thing. 68, 69
  • God himſelf is pleaſed to give many ti­tles to wicked men equivalent to Church-member. 126, to 133
  • God the Authour of the Church may be conſidered to be ſo; with­out the beſtowing of ſaving grace. 43, 44
  • Hereſie cutteth off from the Church, and when. 198, 199, 200
  • Hereſie, how it differs from Apoſtaſie. 200, 201
  • Hilderſhams Reaſons pretended againſt the Baptizing of the children of wicked men, examined; and he found to hold that ſuch children have a right to baptiſm. 214, 215, 216
  • The Head of the viſible Church, viz. Chriſt may be conſidered to be ſuch without reſpect to ſaving influence, proved. 45, &c. and explained; and Objections to it anſwered. 51, 52, 53, 54
  • Hypocrite; what he is. 32
  • We may not ſay that wicked men are hypocrites further then they are ſo. 33
  • No Hypocrite as ſuch can be a member of the Church, either viſible and invi­ſible. 33
  • Holineſſe of life is a ſeparable acci­dental note of a true viſible Church. 78
  • Foederal holineſſe, notwithſtanding ig­norance, or wickedneſſe of heart and life, doth proceed into, and continue men members of the viſible Church even in the adult eſtate. 135, 136, &c.
  • Idolatry, how conſiſtent with a true Church. 202
  • Jewes Abrahams ſeed, and yet the Devils children. 1. How. 142, 143, 144
  • The Jewe outwardly; what. 144, 145
  • Individuum and integrum, the Church is both. 4, 5
  • 1 John 2. 19. Examined. 148, to 151
  • The ignorant how to be diſcovered. 364 No one means abſolutely neceſſary. 36
  • Ignorance not inconſiſtent with Church-memberſhip proved. 184, 185. Ob­jections anſwered. 185, &c.
  • Infants, what conſtitutes their Church-memberſhip. 173
  • Infants borne members, not de jure onely, but de facto, and ſealed ſuch by baptiſme. 175
  • Infants perfectly members, though not perfect members proved. p. 175, 176
  • Infants may be known to be members. 182
  • Infants right in the Church ſeated in themſelves, and not in their parents explained and proved. p. 185, 186, 187
  • Knowledge not neceſſary to memberſhip. 184, 185, 186
  • Knowledge dark and generall is ſuffi­cient for ſuch conſent as is neceſſary to keep adult perſons in Covenant. 188, 189
  • The largeſt acceptation not alwayes the leſſe proper. 111
  • Matter of the viſible Church, both in its parts and ſubject may be con­ſidered without reſpect to ſaving grace. 60, &c.
  • Meanes neceſſary to the attaining the end, is allowed by the text, which commands the end. 277
  • No one Meanes of diſcovering the igno­rant abſolutely neceſſary. 278
  • The matter of the viſible Church as Profeſſors of the faith, not properly the grace, but the doctrine. 61
  • The Church is denominated viſi­ble and inviſible, from its Mem­bers. p. 5, 6
  • The Moral Law is to be applied to Goſpel worſhip by two Rules. 230, 231.
  • Niddui, whether perſons under it, might come into to the Temple or Sy­nagogue. 195
  • The one onely true Note of the true Church is the truth of the Word to which truth of Sacraments is inſepa­rably annezed. 76
  • Outward calling hath inward effects; the reaſon why ſaid to be outward. 85,
  • The Jew outwardly, what. 144
  • The onely conſiderable Objection, ar­tificially framed againſt my maine concluſion largely anſwered. 105, &c.
  • Objections againſt particular argu­ments. See the Arguments.
  • Objections from Scripture are ſubjoyn­ed to Scripture Arguments. So are Objections from humane Teſti­mony.
  • A Particular Church without any ſavingly beleeving in it, is at leaſt ens reale potentia, and for ought we know, actum. 26, 27
  • Excommunicate perſons members more then potentia. 192
  • Eccleſiaſtical power, wherein it con­ſiſts; 'tis ſeparable from a true Church. 77
  • Power of the Church to deny the Sa­ment to the ignorant, not founded on reaſon, prudence, mutual confede­ration, or on Matth. 7. 6. or 1 Cor. 5. but in our ministerial authority, given us for edification, largely pro­ved. 272, to 277
  • The great prohibition of unworthy receivers is 1 Corinth 11. 28. p. 237, to 240.
  • Preaching how farre neceſſary to the firſt constitution of true Churches. 208, to 212
  • Eccleſia preſumptiva ſhut out of the Controverſie. 21
  • Preparations to duties are either meerly ſuch, as preparations to prayer, &c. or alſo conditions, without which the duty is not to be done; ſuch is ſelf-examination before the Sacra­ment. 233
  • Preparations are neceſſary to hearing, ad bene eſſe, i. e. utiliter eſſe, to the Sacrament, ad bene eſſe, i. e. ho­neſte vel legaliter eſſe, largely ex­plained. 334
  • Profeſſion is properly of fides quae, not qua proved. 61, 62
  • Profeſſion of the true faith, the chiefeſt note of a true Church. 74. This is perſonal, and ſo a note of a true mem­ber, or eccleſiaſtical, and ſo a note of the Church. 75
  • What Ames by profeſſion as a note. 75, 76
  • Profeſſion of faith, as a note of the true Church is not to be diſtin­guiſh'd from the Word and Sacraments. 76
  • Whether the viſible, or the inviſible Church be moſt properly a Church, largely debated. p. 13. to 19. this is not a queſtion properly betwixt us and the Papiſt, but amongst our ſelves. 111
  • The Proteſtant judgement is that ſaving grace is not of eſſence of the viſible Church, or viſible Church-member­ſhip. p. 153, to 157. further proved to be ſo, by ſeven Arguments. 158, to 165
  • Argument from the quality of the Church. 80, 81, 82
  • The Queſtion analiſed and and ſtated chap. 1, &c.
  • Whether if none are to receive, but the worthy the Sacrament eſſentially de­pend upon worthineſſe. Reaſons for the negative. 231, 232, 233
  • All kinde of right will not infer preſent poſſeſſion; ſeveral diſtinctions of right. 251, 252, 253. the diſtinction of right into its firſt and ſecond act, grounded on the Laws of Reaſon, Nations, Scripture, Churches. 254, 255
  • The Church of Rome, and the reformed Churches differ rather about the truth of the inviſible Church, then about the nature of the viſible Church, 118, 119
  • The reformed Divines true meaning of the onely true Church largely examin­ed. 105, to 120
  • The reſpect we owe to ſaving grace in the conſideration of the viſible Church. 30, &c.
  • The reformed Divines give definitions ſpecifically differing to the Church as ſtrictly and as largely taken, yet held but one Church. 117, 118; 119 140
  • Schiſme from Rome deſtroyed, not our Churches. 206
  • Saving grace, what reſpect we owe to it in the conſideration of the viſible Church. 33, &c. 'tis not of the eſſence, but of the excellency of the viſible Church. 36
  • Sardis acknowledged to be a Church, though ſaid to be dead. 146
  • There are in the Church ſuch as
    • Seeme and are not.
    • Are and ſeem not.
    • Are, and ſeem, and are not ſeen.
    • Are, ſeem, and are ſeen alſo. 31
  • The ſame perſons in divers reſpects ſeem to be what they are, and what they are not: 32
  • Schiſm cutteth off from the Church, and when. 200, 201
  • Schiſm from Rome hath not destroyed our Churches. 206
  • The Supper is immediately forbidden to ſome Church-members, therefore but mediately required of all, proved by many arguments 219, &c. Objections hereunto anſwered. 225, &c. The grounds of denying the Supper to ſome Church members largely examined. 259, to 271
  • Self-examination is the great condition of a private perſons coming to the Supper. 237, &c.
  • Who may be ſuſpected of ignorance. 278, 279
  • None but the ſuſpected may be tried. 277
  • Suſpenſion for ſcandal 'tis excommuni­cation in part. 287, 288, 289
  • Awicked man not excuſed from, though not permitted to receive the Supper. If he receive not, he ſins twice; if he do receive he ſins thrice. 226
  • Temporary faith is that faith whereby we profeſs the true Religion, nor ſaving­ly. 62. 'tis true faith, through not ſa­ving. 84, 85
  • Titles equivalent to Church-member gi­ven by God in Scripture to wicked men, in number twenty three. 126, to 134
  • Truth as applicable to the Church is ge­nere entis, vel genere moris. 19. the uſual diſtinction of a true Church, and truly a Church queſtiond. 20. the Chur. is true reſpectu naturali vel entitatis & moralis, i. e. vel ſtatus, vel finis. 107 vel ſimpliciter, vel ſecundum quid. 108. the truth of the Church conſiſteth not in conſideration only. 20
  • Mr. Timpſons abuſe of Mr. Humphrys diſtinction, of do not and cannot exa­mine our ſelves, and his own diſtinction of natural and rational incapacity, &c. examined. 239
  • Truth of Word and Sacraments is the one only true note of the true Church. 77
  • Viſibility oppoſed to reality and to inviſi­bility. 2. but given to the Church in the queſtion, as oppoſed to inviſibility onely, and not reality, and that by a metaphor. 2, 3
  • To aſſert a viſible Church, doth not ſup­poſe a Church inviſible. 3, 4. three exceptions againſt the diſtinction of the Church into viſible and inviſible. 10, 11
  • Viſible Church moſt properly the Church of Chriſt, argued, p. 12 to 19. though the ſtreſſe of the controverſie reſteth not here. 18
  • The grounds of the diſtinction of the Church into viſible and inviſible en­quired for. 8
  • 'Tis not properly diſtinctio, but diſcri­men inter totum & partem. 9, 10
  • God calls and ownes a wicked people for his. p. 120, &c. and giveth many ti­tles equivalent to Church-members to wicked men. 126, to 134
  • Wicked men not excuſed from, though not permitted to receive, the Supper, as Church-members they are obliged, as wicked they are prohibited; if they receive not, they ſin twice; if they do receive they ſin thrice. 226
  • We may proceed againſt wicked members but by diſcipline. 373. viz. firſt admonition, and then excommunication. ibid.
  • Truth of the Word revealed and com­municated is the onely true note of the true Church, to which truth of Sacra­ments are inſeparably annexed. 76
  • The World is the terme from which the Church is called. 40, 41. this may be conſidered without reſpect to ſaving grace. 40

The Reader is deſired to excuſe ſome litteral errors not noted, and to correct theſe following.

BEfore the Epiſtle to the Miniſters, and over the head of it, for Dedicatory, read Preſato­ry. Ep. . 7. l. antipen. penitent r. pertinent.

Book. Pag. 7. Line 1. for conſtitue and by read conſtitute by, p 9. l 5. Church viſible r: was viſible, and l 22 p 10 l 24 other r. otherwiſe, p 22 l 4 longer r. larger, p 25. l 27 word r. work. p 28. l. 20. object beleeving r. beleeved, and l. ult, on r. or, and l 20. paſſions r. profeſ­ſions. p 31. l 25. none, viſi, r. non viſi. and l 30 (add onely to) after (not) p 37. l. ult. clled r. calling, and l. 18. add (God) before (doth) p 46 l 20. leave r. have, p. 59, l. 19, we r. who p. 60, l. 18, add (Church) after (viſible) p. 61, l. 8, blot out (ſhould) p. 65 l 11. add (Church) after (viſible) p. 69, blot out from (theſe) to ſame, in l. 7, 8, 9, 10, p 78 l. 14, blot out (not) and add (grace) after the firſt (ſaving) p 80, l. 7, definition r. definitum, p. 82, l 17,〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉r. 〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, and l. penult add Faith after in the, p. 86, l. 22, and r. as, p 105, l. 28. viſible r. true. p. 107 l anſep. thought r. though. p. 111. l. 25. their r. this. p. 122. l. 18. change r. charge and add [this] before [for] p. 140. l. 3. add [ou] after [with] p. 209. l. 5. Rable r. rubble and l. 9. the firſt for r. forth, p, 217, l. 11. add not before upon, p. 267, l. 12. or, r. but, p. 289, l. 25. deſerve r. de­ſire. for Mr. Morris, always r. Mr. Morrice. Note that by Copula in the Analiſis of the que­ſtion, is not intended for an exact Logical Copula, but onely that which fitly ſerves to joyn the ſubject, and the main thing queſtioned, together in the queſtion; and if the Reader would be more accurate, he may take [may be conſidered] in to the predicate queſtioned, and if he had ra­ther, the words (abſtractly and concr•••••. p. 2, l. 15, 16. may change places, though as it is, it beſt liketh the Authour.


Queſt. Whether the viſible Church may be conſi­dered to be truely a Church of Chriſt without reſpect to ſaving grace.

CHAP. I.Of the ſubject of the queſtion the viſible Church.

SECT. I.The Analaſis of the queſtion.

WE muſt have leave to ſpeak ſomething largely of the termes, before we venture to reſolve this intricate and famous queſtion.

The termes are three. Firſt, the ſubject of the queſtion. Secondly, the predicate que­ſtioned. Thirdly, the copula, or that which joyneth the ſubject and the predicate in this queſtion, together.


The ſubject of the queſtion, is the viſible Church, the predi­cate queſtioned, is contained in the words [truely a Church of Chriſt without reſpect to ſaving grace] wherein, we may further obſerve, the thing which is more directly queſtioned, in theſe words [truely a Church of Chriſt] together with the condition or limitation thereof in the words annex'd [without reſpect to ſa­ving grace.] Laſtly, that which coupleth this predicate queſtion­ed, with this ſubject of the queſtion, is to be noted in the words, [may be conſidered to be, &c.]

SECT. II.Viſibility explained and diſtinguiſhed.

The ſubject of the queſtion, then, is the Church, as it is ſpecifi­ed with the quality of viſiblenſſe; for we do not conſider it, here, in any other capacity, either an entitive or organical, as catholick or institute, as univerſal-viſible or particular-viſible; nor yet ab­ſtractly as a Church, or concretely as viſible, but in a conjunct, compounded and united ſenſe, as it is the viſible Church, or the Church which is viſible.

For the better opening of this terme, three things may be un­dertaken. Firſt, to explaine the attribute [viſible]. Secondly, to apply it to the Church, and then to make my Notion of this viſible Church, as plain as I can, ſo far as may concern the queſtion in ge­neral.

To begin with the firſt. Viſibility ſeemeth familiarly to be u­ſedViſible is, 1. that which ſeemeth what it is not. in two diſtinct ſignifications.

1. Viſibility is ſomtimes taken for thatffection of a thing, wheby the thing ſeemeth to be what indeed it is not, as one that ſeem­eth to be a ſincere member of Chriſt; when in truth he is not ſo, may yet be ſaid to be ſo viſibly, or as we more ordinarily uſe to ſay, to ſeeme to be ſo. Thus Viſibility ſtands oppoſed to Reality.

2. Viſibility is alſo ſometimes taken for that affection of a thing2. What it is. whereby the thing ſeemeth to be what indeed it is, and ſhewes it ſelf ad extra to be ſuch. Now here viſible is nothing elſe but that3 which may be ſeen. Whether it be actually viſum, ſeen, or not; as a regenerate perſon, evidencing the truth of his grace by a ſound profeſſion, is truely ſaid to be ſo viſibly. i. e. appearingly, or a viſible Saint.

Thus viſible ſtands oppoſed not to real, but to inviſible; that is that which may not, or cannot be ſeen; a man is ſaid to be viſible, not becauſe he ſeems to be a man and is not, but becauſe he may be ſeene; thus, likewiſe, God is ſaid to be inviſible, not becauſe he is really a God, but becauſe he may not, or cannot be ſeen, i. e. with mortal eyes.

SECT. III.Viſibility applied to the Church.

We may apply this diſtinction of viſibility briefly in three parti­culars.

1. In the latter ſenſe onely viſibility is given to the Church in the ſubject of the queſtion, viz. as it ſeemes to be what indeed and truth it is; otherwiſe there appeareth contradictio in terminis; I meanes in the terms of the queſtion; for then the queſtion would be, whether that Church which onely ſeemeth to be, and is not really ſo, may be conſidered to be really a Church of Chriſt; therefore the forme of the queſtion, heeded, ſuppoſeth this, viz. that the viſible Church is truely and really a Church of Chriſt, and onely queſtioneth whether it may be conſidered to be ſo, without reſpect to ſaving grace; indeed a member or part of the viſible Church, may be ſuch, either really, or onely in ſhew and ſeemingly; but this cannot be ſaid of the whole.

2. Viſibility is uſually given to the Church (by divines) byProp. 2. a Metaphor, from ſenſe to Reaſon. The ſight of the Church (as they conceive) being rather rational then ſenſitive; and 'tis rather termed viſible, quia rationabilis, becauſe it may be known and diſcerned, it not being ſeen ſo much by the eye, quam intel­lectu, mente, ratione, as Divines ſpeak. Though, I humbly conceive that this muſt rather be underſtood of the Church as true, or4 of God, or Chriſt, then as a Church; for as it is a Church, or a Congregation of men profeſſing religion, ſo it is alſo evident to ſenſe, viſibilis, (as Ames) viſu ſcilicet, vel ſenſu ex­terno. Medul. p. 165.

Though viſibility be oppoſed to inviſibility, it followeth not that becauſe the queſtion ſpecified a Church viſible, thereforeProp. 3. we grant a Church inviſible alſo, properly ſo called, no more, then becauſe there is a white ſwan therefore there is a black. Yet I intend not to deny the Church inviſible, onely the ſubject of my queſtion is not this, but the Church-vi­ſible.

SECT. IV.The nature of the Church.

I ſhall now, as briefly as I can, offer my notion of this viſible Church, ſo far as I conceive the preſent debate requireth, viz. touching the nature, and the common diſtribution of it, into viſible and inviſible.

1. The nature of the Church, I conceive, to be, 1. Integral. 2. Aggregative.

This diſtinction, together with the application of both parts ofMedul. p. 167. ſect. 5. it, to the Church, may be eaſily collected from Ames himſelfe; and Trelcatius alſo teacheth, that the Church both as viſible and inviſible, hath integral parts, and is conſequently totum inte­grale,Inſtit. p. 214um p. 220. and yet that the Church is in the number of thoſe things which Logicians call aggregative.

1. Then, firſt, the Church is an integrum, and conſequentlyThe Church is an Integrum. of an individual and ſingular, and not an univerſal nature, it containing plura (membra) conſtituentia ipſum realitèr, whereby it doth actually exiſt, extra animam, or in it ſelfe.

The Church is integral, for it hath a plurality of parts, theſe parts are integral, and theſe parts are united, and conſequently 'tis ſingular, for by a union of integral parts, 'tis unum, and doth really exiſt, and omne quod eſt vel exiſtit, eo ipſo quia eſt,5 ſingulare eſt; and conſequently, 'tis not univerſal in a Metaphi­ſical or logical ſenſe; for univerſale, doth not exiſt, as ſuch, out of the minde, and totum univerſale, is diſtinct in kinde from totum integrale; therefore the univerſal Church is not properly a genus, nor particular Churches the ſpecies thereof; but rather as AmesIbid. hath clearly taught us, members of the Catholick, quae habet ratio­nem integri.

Indeed, Ames ſaith, that a particular Church is ſpecies eccleſiaeIbid. in genere; but let us, firſt, note the difference he there puts be­twixt eccleſia in genere, and eccleſia catholica; and, ſecondly, theAmes his dif­ference twixt eccleſia in gene­re, and eccleſia catholica. ground or reaſon aſſigned by himſelf of this aſſertion; and my poſiti­on will be ſtill found to ſtand firm.

1. His difference betwixt eccleſia in genere, and eccleſia catholica, is moſt apparent in his own words, ſaith he, a particular Church is ſpecies eccleſiae in genere; but reſpectu eccleſiae catholicae, 'tis membrum, &c. ſo that nothing can be gathered from theſe words, to conclude the Catholick Church to be a genus, or a totum uni­verſale, but indeed the contrary, that it is not ſo, but that as be­fore was noted, the Catholick Church, habet rationem in­tegri.

2. The reaſon, upon which, Ames aſſerts a particular Church to be ſpecies eccleſiae in genere, is, that common nature which is found in all particular Churches; but is this reaſon ſufficient to denominate the Church a genus, or particular Churches ſpecies thereof? I humbly conceive, not; for then all thoſe things which partake of the ſame common nature, muſt ſpecifically differ; and e­very drop of water partaking of the common nature, that is in all other drops of water, muſt be ſpecies aquae.

Indeed, everything which partaks of the common nature or ge­nusThings may partake of the common na­ture of one another, onely then they ſpeci­fically differ; or of their dif­ferences alſo; and then nu­merically only. onely, of another thing, doth differ ſpecifically from that other thing, and is ſpecies of that common nature or genus; but if a thing partaketh not onely of the common nature of another, but alſo of its difference, it is granted, thereby to have both its genus, and differentia; and conſequently, the ſame definition; which cannot competere with things ſpecifically differing. Thus, I conceive, a particular Church partaking not onely of the common nature of all other particular Churches, but alſo of their differen­tia, they ought to have the ſame definition, and having the ſame matter and the ſame forme too, they are the ſame6 eſſentially, and differ onely (as Logicians ſpeak) Nume­rically.

But, ſo farre as I underſtand this controverſie, 'tis wholly ſpent about the true meaning of logical termes; and wholly iſſues in this notion, whether Ramus doth well to aſſert, homo, to be genus or not worthy of any (much leſſe an eager) conteſt in Divinity, unleſſe we could deſcry ſome more dangerous conſequen­ces attending upon either concluſion, then are yet diſco­vered.

For my part, while Ames maintaineth this difference 'twixtAmes aſſerteth both the Ca­tholick and particular Church to be Integrum. ibid. eccleſia in genere, and eccleſia catholica, as before was noted, and grants, that eccleſia catholica hath rationem integri, and a parti­cular Church, eſt etiam integrum, I am ſure my poſition ſtands, that the nature of the Church is integral; and then, whether the notion [Church] be a genus or not, is hardly worth a diſpute, ſee­ing that it exiſteth not out of the integral, i. e. univerſal or parti­cular Church.

Yea, might we thus underſtand Ames to intend genus and ſpe­cies in a grammatical ſenſe, and not a logical, in this place I think any one might ſay after him, that eccleſia particularis eſt ſpecies eccleſiae in genere, that is, the word or notion [Church] is general­ly predicable of all Churches; this way alſo the Church may be ſaid to be univerſal, as well as respectu loci, and temporis, as urſine, or perſonarum, and partium, as Trelcatius addes, but not naturae; the Church is a totum, and univerſalis, but not a totum univerſale; 'tis a totum integrale, and univerſal in the reſpects ſpe­cified, but not univerſal quâ totum.

But any further ſcrutiny into this matter, may be pardonably waved, ſeeing our maine queſtion conſiders not the Church, ei­ther as univerſal or particular, or as univerſal-viſible or particu­lar-viſible, but onely as it is the viſible Church, as at firſt was noted. Now, all, ſo farre as they own the viſible Church to be really a Church, make no queſtion of its integrality that ever I yet heard of; and therefore, thoſe that deny the univerſal viſible Church, to be an integrum, do equally deny it to be really a Church, who do alſo acknowledge the particular viſible, which they allow to be a Church really, to be alſo totum in­tegrale.

2. The Church is, alſo, in its nature, Aggregative, that is, 'tisThe Church is Aggregative.7 of the number of thoſe things which are conſtitute and by aggre­gation, or collection; this is applicable to the Church, I conceive, as it is that species of integrum, that hath its parts united per mo­dum colligationis; but this bond, by which ſuch parts are held to­gether, may not be thought to be real, as ſticks are bound toge­ther in a fagot; but metaphorical, or political, as Companies, or bodies, or ſocieties of men, are bound together, by ſome tie, or bond; ſo the Church hath her joynts and bands, whereby it is held, and knit together, as the Apoſtle ſpeaketh, Epheſ. 4. 16. onely with this difference, that civil ſocieties are under civil, and the Church is under ſpiritual bonds. What theſe spiritual bonds of the Church are, is largely enquired hereafter.

Aggregative bodies are ſo familiar, that indeed we finde them in every claſſis of the creatures, and accordingly, they are either inanimate, as piles of wood, heaps of ſtone, &c. or animate, and theſe are either irrational, as a flock of ſheep, a ſhole of fiſh, &c. or rational, and theſe againe are either civil, as a family, a corporation, a Common-wealth, &c, or eccleſiaſtical, as the Church.

Aggregative bodies are either occaſional, as many times flightsAggregatives are inanimate and animate, theſe irrational and rational, theſe civil and eccleſiaſtical; theſe occaſional and fix'd. Their eſſential ſtate. of birds are, and that rout we read of, Acts 19. was: or fixt and ſettled, as the Church of God is.

Aggregative bodies, are diſtributed ſecundum ſtatum eſſentia­lem, vel integralem, according to their eſſential ſtate they are di­ſtributed into their matter and form, as Trelcatius intimates**Tales quae non ſunt eo nunquid abſolute ſed continent in ſe duo: quonum alterum eſt ſi­mile maltitudi­ni & materiae diſperſae, alto­rum vero unita­ti ordine & collectioni. Inſtit. therl. p. 214. Profeſſio viſi­bilis. Communio viſibilis. Am. Medul. p. 165. ſ. 28. Integral ſtate.; they are ſuch, ſaith he, aontaine in them two; one of which is like to multitude and diſperſed matter, (which is as it were the mat­ter;) the other to unity, order and collection which is the forme. Now ſuch are the eſſential parts of the Church; the matter where­of is perſons profeſſing Religion, or called; and the forme, the col­lection, or Congregation order, unity, ſociety or community of perſons, as at large hereafter.

By the way give me leave to hang two queries upon this obſer­vation. 1. Whether an aggregative body, and conſequently the viſible Church, which is ſuch, have not its eſſential forme, as well as every other thing that hath an eſſence. 2. Whether an ag­gregative bodn made up of viſible parts, and conſequently the viſible Church, which is ſuch, have not an eſſential form which is viſible? if the matter or parts be viſible, why is it not the union8 or aggregation of this viſible matter, or parts viſible alſo? if the perſons and the profeſſion of the perſons be viſible, what hinders the ſociety or fellowſhip of them to be viſible alſo? or what ſhould render it inviſible? but of this alſo more largely anone.

According to their Integral ſtate, aggregative bodies, are di­ſtributed into their parts qua integral, and according to the na­ture of them; which are ſometimes ſimilar, ſometimes diſſimilar. 1 Cor. 12. 28, 29, 30.Now the parts of the viſible Church, I conceive, are both; ſimi­lar, in that all are called, diſſimilar, in that ſome are Elected, and ſome not; ſimilar, in that all are profeſſours, diſſimilar, in that ſome are alſo officers, and ſome not.

But we are, now, I humbly conceive, very neer unto the ground of the common diſtribution of the Church into viſible and inviſible, which was propoſed to be, next, conſidered.

SECT. V.The ground and meaning of the diſtinction of the Church into viſible and inviſible.

This aggregative body, the Church, is uſually diſtinguiſhed, in­to viſible and inviſible. I ſhall briefly ſhew, how I underſtand it, and wherein I except againſt it; and thus my notion of the Church vi­ſible, will furthèr appear.

1. I conceive, it cannot be a diſtinction of the eſſential totality of the Church, as if the viſible were the matter, and the inviſible were the form of the Church; then the inviſible Church, being alſo vi­ſible; (viſible in profeſſion, as inviſible in faith) ſhould be both forme and part of the matter of the ſame Church, which is abſurd. Wherefore, I diſlike that diſtinction, that hypocrites are materialy, but not formally of the viſible Church; for indeed, if hypocrites be not formally of the viſible Church, they are not of it at all, if forma dat eſſe; nor may be ſaid to be ſo, if forma dat no­men.

2. Neither can it be diſtinctio generis in ſpecies (as Ames obſerves) as if there were one Church viſible, and another inviſible, ſpecifi­fically9 differing; for properly, there is but one Church, as all con­ſent; and that one Church is, therefore, not a genus, for then its ſpecies would make more then one.

3. Neither, again, can it be diſtinctio integri in membra (as Ames alſo teacheth) as if one part of the Church viſible, and another part inviſible: ſeeing the whole is, in its profeſſion, viſible; but this, I humbly conceive, is neareſt to it.

4. Therefore, laſtly, I conceive it to be, diſtinctio integri (nonUna numero, duplicem modo­dicunt pro con­ditione mem­brorum ipſius. in partes, ſed à parte; and to reſult, not from the totality of the integrum, as ſuch, but from a diverſe conſideration of the nature or diſpoſition of the parts of it, as ſimilar and diſſimilar, as before was hinted; for the Church, as Junius, is but one in number, and two in manner, becauſe of the diſpoſition of the members thereof.

For the whole profeſſing, is the viſible Church, and a part of thisParaeus. whole alſo ſavingly beleeving, is called the Church inviſible; the whole is viſible, as men called, a part of theſe are inviſible, as men elect and regenerate. Whence that common, but moſt uſeful diſtinction, eccleſia vocatorum, and electorum.

Therefore, ſaith Pareus between the viſible and inviſible Church, there is even the ſame difference, as is between the whole and the part; for inuiſible lieth hid in the viſible; which appear­eth from that of Paul, whom he hath choſen, them he hath alſo called, Exp. Urſ. cat. p. 283, 284.

Polanus confirms it with his authority and reaſon too; the in­viſiblePolanus. Church (ſaith he) lieth hid in the viſible, ut pars in toto, as a part in the whole. If we conſider both, as the company of the called, by external vocation, which is common both to the inviſible and viſible Church, Synt. c. 9. l. 7.

Oſiander hath the ſame words alſo, in coetu viſibili, eccleſia la­tetOſciander. inviſibili. Encherid. contra. p. 126.. which, indeed, is no other then that which in other words, is aſſerted by, even, all our re­formed Divines, in their moſt common and known diſtinction of the Church as ſtrictè and latè, ſtrictly and largely conſidered, who intend, generally, by the Church ſtrictly taken the Church invi­ſible, or the elect or elect regenerate, and by the Church largely taken, the Church viſible, or of the called, comprehending good and bad, the elect and reprobate, as they do ſtill explain themſelves, giving very differing definitions of them, as will more fully appear anone.


Yea, one greater then all theſe, our Saviour, teacheth that the wheat, the corne, the good fiſh, and the elect, are but part, of the Church or the Kingdome of God; which hath tares, chaff, bad fiſh, and ſuch as are not elected, in it. Whence Paraeus hath well collected, eccleſia electorum, in coetu vocatorum eſt.

SECT. VI.Exceptions againſt this distinction of the Church.

Having ſhewed the ground of the diſtinction of the Church in­to viſible, and inviſible, and how I conceive it ſhould be un­derſtood. I ſhall now crave leave to ſhew my exceptions a­gainſt it.

1. My firſt exception will ſhrowd it ſelf under thoſe words ofField of the Church. p. 14. Doctor Field. We ſay, ſaith he, there is a viſible and an inviſible Church, not meaning to make two diſtinct Churches, though the forme of words may ſerve to inſinuate ſome ſuch thing. Certain­ly that forme of words is not very commendable, that may ſerve to inſinuate that which we mean not by them; if we change the in­ſtance, haply this may be more notorious; if one ſhould ſay, there is a heap of precious ſtones, and an heap of common ſtones; would not the hearer of theſe words rather imagine, that there are two heaps, one of precious ſtones, and another of common ſtones; then, that there is but one heap of ſtones in all, of which ſome are common, and ſome precious; and in the preſent caſe who would underſtand Bullinger other, if he were not prepoſſeſſed with a better meaning then his words ſhould inſinuate; his words are non ſine cauſa gravi dixerunt alii, eccleſiam Dei aliam quidem eſſe vi­ſibilem,Bul. Decad. p. 355. aliam vero inſibilem; who can well make aliam and aliam eccleſiam to be but one Church.

2. I am afraid alſo, that the ill uncertain ſound of this diſtincti­on in the ears of the world, hath been a means of troubling us with thoſe many intricacies wherewith the doctrine about the Church is ſtill cumber'd; we finde this diſtinction not of ſo fre­quent uſe, either in Scripture, or in the Church, before the refor­mation from Rome, and then, how quiet was the Church about11 this point! all concluding, that there is but one Church, how na­tural is it from this diſtinction of a Church inviſible and viſible, for the Papiſt to reject the inviſible to maintain his viſible; and for the Browniſt to maintain his inviſible, by rejecting the viſible; while, if we look on the Church, as one entire totum, or the Church of the called, wherein the elect, as part are contained, with­out any more diſtinction, we might enjoy with leſſe contro­verſie.

3. 'Tis indeed a difference without diſtinction, 'tis no true di­ſtribution; for whereas (as Maſter Hudſon hath well obſerved) all diſtributions ſhould have their parts diſtinct and different, and the more oppoſite the members are, the better the diſtribution is, it is nothing at all ſo here; for either the one part, viz. the viſible, comprehends the other, viz. the inviſible, and thus the one part becomes the whole, as indeed it is, or elſe this one part, viz. the viſible being diſtinguiſhed from the inviſible, as of neceſſity it muſt be, in this dſtribution, hath no being at all, and ſo the di­ſtribution hath loſt a member, and, conſequently, it ſelfe, for no­thing can be diſtributed into one part.

SECT. VII.Three other lawful ſenſes of this diſtribution of the Church, yeelded to.

But leaſt I be thought to reflect too much upon this diſtinction of the Church, I cannot let paſſe three other ancient uſes of it, which, I cheerfully allow.

1. By the viſible Church hath been ſometimes meant, the Church united in outward and actual communion together; and by the inviſible, ſuch as though gracious, yet were not in actual fel­lowſhip with any particular Church.

Thus the Papiſts urging, that none could be members of the Church, but ſuch as were in fellowſhip with the Church of Rome, our Divines anſwer them, that we muſt diſtinguiſh; ſome, ſay they, are in actual communion with the Church, theſe are mem­bers of the viſible, and ſome though not in fellowſhip outwardly12 with the Church, yet if gracious, they are members of the inviſible Church, among whom they uſually ranked the Catechumeni, and the Excommunicati if truly gracious; accordingly Trelcatius ſaith,Inſt. theol. p. 231. Catechumini ſcundum externam eccleſiae formám, ad quam quia non pertinent propriè, de eccleſia non eſſe cenſentur, licet eccleſiae in vi­ſibilis ſunt.

2. Again, by the viſible Church hath been uſually meant, as before, the Church, as profeſſing; by the inviſible, as ſincerely, orVid. par. in Urſin. cat. p. 475. & pet. du Moul. Buck. p. 264. & Exp. of Eng. Art. 39. p. 67. ſavingly beleeving, or regenerate. We may know who profeſſe, they therefore, are viſible. We cannot know who are regenerate, therefore they are inviſible, as Jewel, God hath always a Church inviſible, i. e. known onely to himſelf. God knew them, but Elias knew them not, to the judgement of men they were inviſible, Defen. p. 361.

Laſtly, the Church is frequently ſaid to be viſible when its pro­feſſion is proſperous pompous and glorious in the eyes of the world; & inviſible, when it is not ſeen by the world in its wonted ſplendor and glory, by reaſon either of a cloud of perſecution from without, as the Church mentioned, Rom. 11. 4. was; or of a cloud of con­fuſion, thtough the ſpreading of error, and the rents and breaches of ſchiſme within, whence many take occaſion to pretend that they cannot tell where the true Church is, as we have ſad experience this day in England. Hence Doctor Fulk on the Rhemiſt Te­ſtamentDr. Fulkn Rhet. Teſt. Rom. 11. 4. granteth, that we do conclude the true Church may for a time be hid or ſecret which our Divines do ſometimes render by the terme inviſible. Yea, Beza ſaith, that the Church is oft-times brought to that eſtate, that even the moſtBeza in Rom. 11, 2. watchful and ſharp-ſighted Paſtors think it to be clean extinct and put out.

The ſecond of theſe ſenſes of this diſtinction, is the moſt uſual in Authours, and that wherein the viſible Church is generally meant in this Treatiſe.


SECT. VIII.The viſible Church moſt properly a Church.

Once more, if I may have leave to digreſſe a little, I ſhall hum­bly adde, that it is my preſent opinion, that the viſible Church is moſt properly the Church of Chriſt; though I dare not aſſert it with much confidence, knowing that ſome later eminent Divines ſeem at leaſt of another mind.

Yet I deſire it may be heeded, that I do not ſay, that the viſible Church is more truly, much leſſe more ſoundly, and ſavingly a Church of Chriſt, then the Church inviſible; but onely that the viſible Church is (without compariſon or) in it ſelf, most properly a Church of Chriſt.

And thus I hope to eſcape the challenge of the reformed Wri­ters;Of which at large hereafter, chap. 16. Indeed, they ſometimes ſay, that the inviſible, is the onely true Church; but firſt they never queſtioned, but that this onely true inviſible Church, was alſo viſible in our ſenſe; and againe we may hear them explaine their poſition, in Doctor FieldsField of the Church. p. 12, 13, 14. expreſſion, When we ſay, none but the Elect are of the Church, we meane not that no others are, not at all, nor in any ſort of the Church; but that they are not principally fully, and ab­ſolutely.

I preſume, therefore I may preſent my reaſons for this my opinion, without juſt offence to my Reader; which are theſe.

Arg. 1. The Church of Chriſt is moſt properly viſible, therefore the viſible Church is moſt properly the Church of Chriſt.

That the Church of Chriſt is moſt properly viſible, appear­eth thus.

1. Such as the parts of an Aggregative body are moſt properly, ſuch the whole is moſt properly; as if the ſtones be precious, ſo is the heap; if they be vile, ſo is the heap; if they be black, ſo is the heap; if they be viſible, ſo is the heap; and if they be moſt properly viſible, ſo is the heap; for if the parts be ſo in themſelves, how can they be leſſe viſible in the whole?

142. Now the Church is confeſſed to be an Aggregative body, and yet the parts or members, are doubtleſſe viſible, in moſt pro­per ſpeaking, whether we conſider them as Men, or as men Called.

1. The members of the Church are Men; and who can doubt but that men are viſible in the higheſt propriety of ſpeech, that runnes not againſt his own ſenſe? yea, ſhould we yeeld that ſaving grace alone doth unite men to the Church, yet ſeeing 'tis not the grace (which is inviſible) that is the member, but the man (who is inviſible) the members of the Church are viſible ſtill. For (as Peter du Moulin ſaith) thoſe that are of this [in­viſible] Church are viſible as they are men, but not as they areHis Buckler. p. 264. elected.

2. The members of the Church are as truely and properly viſible, as they are men called; for,

1. All the members of the Church, whether they be elect or re­probate, fall under the called: Yea, as Ames hath excellently no­ted, the very elect, are members of the Church, not qua electi,Medul p. 161 but qua vocati, as they are called; yea, the very elect are not members of the Church inviſible, but as they are called, the Church of the elect lying hid in the Church of the called, as before was noted.

2. Now all that are called are as ſuch moſt properly viſible for in their very ſtate of calling, the called ſtand moſt viſibly di­ſtinguiſhed from all other ſocieties of men, viz. in their profeſſi­on of the name and worſhip of Chriſt before all the wold, where­in the elect-regenerate, or called, are doubtleſſe as eminent and o­pen actors, as the reprobate can be, and conſequently do as truely help to conſtitute and render the Church to be viſible as they.

Therefore if that part of the Church which in one regard bear­eth the name of inviſible, be as properly viſible, as the other which is onely viſible, who can doubt but that the Church in ge­neral is moſt properly viſible. But as Doctor Field ſaith, it can­not be, but they that are of the true Church, muſt by the profeſſion of theFeild of the Church. p. 14, 15 truth make themſelves known in ſuch ſort, that by they profeſſion and practice they may be diſcerned from other men. And again, the perſons of them of whom the Church conſiſteth are viſible; their profeſſi­on known even to the proſane and wicked of the world; and in this15 ſort cannot be inviſible; neither did any of our men teach, that it is or may be.

Arg. 2. The whole Church doth moſt properly deſerve the name [Church]; for though both the viſible and the inviſible Church ſhould be truely and properly a Church of Chriſt, yet if in a ſtrict conſideration, one of theſe is but a part, and the o­ther, as the whole, containeth that part, that which containeth the other as its part muſt needs be the whole, and beſt deſerve the name of the whole.

Now the inviſible Church hath beene found to be the part of the viſible, and the viſible to be the whole containing that part, ſeeing all that ſavingly beleeve do equally ſhare in the Churches profeſſion and viſibility with the externally called; Yea, and they, that is, the ſincere beleevers, as Maſter Baxter aſſerts, areHis Reſt. p. 137 a part of the externally called, who are the viſible Church; there­fore, as Maſter Blake reaſons, the inviſible is onely one part, and ſoHis ſcals. p. 157 not the Church in its moſt proper ſignification.

Arg. 3. The Church of Chriſt never ceaſeth to be viſible, therefore the viſible Church is moſt properly the Church of Chriſt; for,

1. The Church of Chriſt muſt needs import his Church in its moſt proper ſignification; for he that ſpeaks of [the Church] muſt either mean the onely Church, or the Church emphatically ſo cal­led; in either of theſe ſenſes [the Church] ſignifieth the Church properly ſo called.

2 Again, that which never ceaſeth to be viſible, muſt needs be viſible, and indeed moſt properly ſo; but, though the Church may be ſometimes obſcured, it never loſeth its viſibility or ceaſeth to be viſible. So Ames, eccleſia nunquam planè deſinit eſſe viſibi­lis,Med. p. 166. 39 quamvis enim aliquando viz uſquam appareat eccleſia tam pura, &c. eccleſia tamen aliquo modo viſibilis exiſt it, in illa ipſa impuritate cultus & profeſſionis; which we may take in En­gliſh in thoſe pertinent words of Maſter Fox, the rightHis proteſtation before his Acts and Monuments Church, ſaith he, is not ſo inviſible in the world, as none can ſee it.

The Scripture-Church, is moſt properly the Church of Chriſt, this none can well deny.

But now the viſible Church is the Scripture-Church, as ap­peares from the Doctrine of Scripture about the Church, the16 examples, the parts, the Ordinances, and number of Scripture-Churches.

Firſt, the Doctrine of the Scripture about the Church, is ge­nerally ſuch as agreeth onely with the Church-viſible, viz. as made up of tares and wheat, good and bad, Elect and repro­bate, &c.

Yea, the very word [Church] in Scripture as ſome affirme, is not more then once taken for the Church-inviſible, which is Heb. 12. 23. though that very place is by ſome Reverend Di­vines underſtood of the Church-viſible alſo, for it was already come into, by perſons then alive [ye are come;] therefore the Church on earth, and it was a Church that had Ordinances in it, v. 25. therefore the viſible.

But if it ſhould be granted, as Maſter Blake obſerves, that in this place and in two or three more, the Scripture meaneth the Church inviſible, which is as much as can be pretended unto, yet doubtleſſe that which is the ordinary language of the holy Ghoſt, which he uſeth moſt often, and almoſt always, is that which is moſt proper.

2. It alſo appears from the examples of Scripture-Churches,De quâ ſolâ ecclefiâ prae­ſumptivâ, &c. Dav. Detern. p. 218. ex ſpa­latenſi. for have not even all theſe a mixture of corrupt and wicked mem­bers? and is ſuch a mixture compatible with the Church in­viſible? or what Churches can ſuch be, but viſible? therefore ſaith Davenant, all ſuch Scriptures, and aſſertions of the fathers as ſpeak of this mixture of good and bad in the Church, are to be underſtood of the preſumptive or viſible Church.

3. It further appeares by the parts of the Scripture-Church, which are generally ſuch as are onely to be found in the viſile Church, that the Scripture-Church is the viſible Church. The parts of the Scripture-Church are generally Prieſt and people, Paſtors and flock, the Rulers and the ruled, the Catechiſers and the catechized, and the like, as both the Old and New Teſtament abundantly teſtifie. Now in the Church inviſible there are no ſuch parts, no ſuch relations, no ſuch officers, but all are mem­bers, but Chriſt the head; therefore the Scripture-Church where­in theſe parts and officers, as ſuch are, viz. Prieſts, Prophets, Apo­ſtles, Biſhops, Paſtors, Elders, Deacons, Rulers, Cetechizers, &c. muſt needs be the viſible Church.


Fourthly, that the Scripture-churche is the viſible Church, ap­pears moreover by the diſpenſation of Ordinances fixed therein, which is proper and peculiar to the viſible Church, in all the Scri­pture-Churches we finde a diſpenſation of the Word, Sacraments, diſcipline; the diſpenſation whereof is in the hands of men; who are onely capable of dealing with the Church as viſible; yea, the diſpenſation it ſelf is viſible; and all will readily grant that theſe Ordinances are all of them peculiar to the viſible Church; the attendance of the Church upon them being the moſt eminent and remarkable meanes of rendring the Church her ſelf to be vi­ſible.

Laſtly, this yet farther appears from the number of the Scripture-churches, they are many, the Church at Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Epheſus, Coloſſe, Philippi, Theſſalonica, Pergamus, Thyatira, &c. Whereas the inviſible Church is alſo indiviſible, 'tis but one, and not to be divided into any more; therefore the Scripture-church which is thus actually divided muſt needs be the viſible Church.

Arg. 5. My laſt Argument is taken from the Name [Church], and may be this. The viſible Church in its nature doth not pro­perly anſwer to the name [Church], therefore it is moſt pro­perly the Church; for that thing which doth in its nature moſt properly anſwer to ſuch a name, muſt needs be the thing moſt properly which that name doth ſignifie.

Now the nature of the viſible Church may be obſerved to an­ſwer to the name, Church, in a moſt proper ſignification, both in Engliſh, Latine, Greek, and Hebrew.

1. In Engliſh, the word [Church] doth in a true and direct propriety of ſpeech ſignifie nothing but that which is the Lords; and may be conceived to imply the Lords people, or the Lords houſe;Die Kyrchen nuxcupant, & ipſum Dei popu­lum & Domum, in quo hic con­gregatur ad cultum Dei. Vid. Bul. Dec. p. 135. it ſeemes to be taken from the German word [Kurch], which al­ſo alludeth, haply to the Greek word〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, dominica; which, as Bullinger obſerves, they uſed to underſtand both of the people, and the houſe of the Lord, where the people of the Lord uſed to aſſemble; and indeed of both, as they have relation one to the o­ther. Now if the name [Church] intend the people of the Lord, meeting together in one place, to attend on the worſhip of God, we need not much trouble our ſelves for its proper application, to the viſible Church.

182. In Lattine the Church is called [Congregatio] the Con­gregation, or the people gathered together, anſwering haply to the Hebrew (which may alſo be here taken notice of) Katial,〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 Congregavit. Now doth not this name alſo moſt properly agree with the nature and reaſon of the viſible Church? is it not a local gathering together that moſt properly conſtitutes a Congregation? and is not this moſt proper to the particular, and conſequently to the viſiſible Church? therefore is ſhe alſo called an Aſſembly, a body, a City, a Kingdom, none of which, but moſt properly re­ſemble the Church, as viſible.

3. Laſtly, the Church in Greek is [〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉] which moſt di­rectly imports a people called out of the world, (as anon, more largely.) Indeed, the term from, or out of which, the Church is called, is not expreſſed in the word〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, yet all agree, that it is as neceſſarily implied in it.

Now this ſenſe of the word, Church, moſt properly and exactly intendeth the Church-viſible, this being moſt ap­parently and properly called out of the world; as eaſily ap­peareth.

For the world, here, muſt be underſtood to be either the world of the ungodly, or the world of infidels; but it cannot be under­ſtood of the world of the ungodly, becauſe there is ſtill a mixture of the Church and the world in this ſenſe (according to that of our Saviour, I pray not that thou ſhouldſt take them out of the world;) then if the world out of which the Church is called be the world of Infidels, viz. of ſuch as live without the pale of the Chriſtian profeſſion, I think it will be eaſily granted, firſt, that ſuch as own the ſaid Chriſtian profeſſion are moſt properly oppoſed to, and called out of the world in this ſenſe; and ſecondly, that ſuch are moſt properly the viſible Church.

But enough, if not too much of this; 'tis time to take up with this item, that though haply this diſcourſe may tend to ſome in­ſenſible advantage in the main queſtion, yet the ſtreſſe of it reſteth not upon this point; For we may prove that the viſible Church is truely a Church of Chriſt, without reſpect to ſaving grace, whe­ther the viſible Church be found in the iſſue to be moſt properly a Church, or not; therefore the ſenſe of this word [truely] in the queſtion, we ſhall now make bold to enquire into.


CHAP. II.Of the terme [truely] or the Church truely ſo called.

WE now proceed to the predicate in queſtion, or that which is queſtioned of this ſubject, the viſible Church; contain­ed in theſe words of the queſtion [truely a Church of Chriſt, with­out reſpect to ſaving grace.]

Wherein we have before obſerved; Firſt, that which is more directly queſtioned, in theſe words [truely a Church of Chriſt.] Secondly, the condition or limitation there­of, in the words annex'd [without reſpect to ſaving grace.]

To begin with the firſt, I humbly conceive that a good and cleare underſtanding of this terme [truely], or how the Church may be ſaid to be truely ſo, may have a ſtrong ſubſerviency to a happy deciſion of the main controverſie; wherefore, I ſhall take the liberty to enlarge my ſenſe and notion thereof, to as much plaineſſe as I am able.

1. Truth as predicable of the viſible Church, is ſometimes ex­preſſed by vera, and ſometimes by verè.

By vera eccleſia is uſually meant the Church, not onely endu­edEccleſia vera. with the truth of being, but endowed alſo with the truth of goodneſſe, or the goodneſſe of well-being, and under ſome excellen­cy of doctrine or manners, or both.

By verè eccleſia is uſually intended the being of the ChurchVerè. alone, and not the quality, unleſſe ſo farre it intend the evil qualities of any Church, as to ſecure its being againſt them.

Accordingly Divines uſe to ſay, that ſuch a Church as is ve­ry corrupt, and yet retaineth the eſſence or being of a Church of Chriſt, is, verè, or truely a Church of Chriſt, but not vera ec­cleſia, or a true Church, that is a pure or an holy Church: as an honeſt man is ſaid to be verus homo, a true man, and a thief who is not properly ſaid to be a true man, is doubt­leſſe verè homo, and as truely a man as any other; verè ſerving to expreſſe truth as natural, and vera, as moral.


Yet, with leave, though this diſtinction may ſerve to explainThe diſtinction excepted a­gainſt. our meanings, I adde, that 'tis well-known to all that are ſchol­lars that both theſe termes [vera and verè] may be lawfully ap­plyed to the Church, or any thing, while the phyſical being there­of is not wholly periſh'd, though the defects in morals be never ſo notorious; if we ſpeak of the ſubject under that notion, and of truth as attributed thereunto in its phyſical acceptation. A thief is doubtleſſe a true man, as well as truely a man; if we ſpeak of a thief quatenus homo, as a man, and not as a good or bad man, morally true or falſe. Thus alſo the Church may be ſaid to be as well a true, as truely a Church of Chriſt, while its eſſentials re­maine in it, and it hath not yet loſt its natural being, be it ne­ver ſo corrupt in moral concernments, or never ſo much to be cenſured or condemned in any ſuch reſpects; for if the Church hath its Ens, it muſt be allowed its verum alſo.

3. But it appeareth that the queſtion carrieth the weaker terme (viz. truely,) as that which is likelieſt to be yeelded unto, by ſuch as are likelieſt to diſſent upon the whole; whereby it ea­ſilyThe terme ap­plied to the queſtion. appeareth to the Reader what is enquired after in the que­ſtion, namely, not whether the viſible Church may be conſidered to be a pure or a perfect Church, or a true Church in a moral ca­pacity? but whether it may be conſidered to be truely a Church, that is to have all the eſſentials of a viſible Church, or its na­tural being without reſpect to ſaving grace? or whether the bei­ing of the viſible Church, have a neceſſary dependance upon ſaving qualifications?

4. It may be alſo heeded, that though the queſtion run [whether it may be ſo conſidered] (the reaſon whereof may appeare here­after) yet the queſtion is not whether the truth of the Church conſiſt only in conſideration; for the weight of our queſtion reſteth upon the truth of the Churches being in it ſelf, and not in our minds or conception, onely this nature and truth of the Church with­out our mindes cannot be ſo, quoad nos, without an act of our minde, viz. conſideration; but the queſtion properly is de veri­tate, eccleſiae viſibilis (as the Metaphyſicks ſpeak) in eſſendo;Veritatem in Rebus ipſis, quae ab illâ de­nominantur verae. Suar. diſp. 8. which is defined, truth in the things themſelves by vertue of which truth, the things themſelves are ſaid to be true, which is ſuch a truth as agrees with the Church without the operation of the mind, and therefore ſuch as ſtates the Church21 a real thing thing; ſeeing competere alicui atra mentis operationem, is the known definition of Reale eſſe.

Laſtly, this common expreſſion [truely a Church] is deſired to be kept unto, to keep out thoſe troubleſome and diſputable termes, of eccleſia aequivoca, and eccleſia preſumptiva, which are wont to perplex this controverſie; to both of which this verè eccleſia, or the truth of the Churches being in it ſelf ſtands in as evident as direct oppoſition; for the aequivocal Church, in the ſenſe of moſt of thoſe that diſſent from me, hath no truth of being at all; and the preſumed Church dependeth upon the charity of the mind of thoſe that conſider it, and hath not that being that is to be certainly knowne and conſi­dered by us, as it is here in queſtion; but more plaine­lie.

1. The evaſion of eccleſia preſumptiva is thus anti­cipated, whether it import the viſible or inviſible Church.

1. If by this preſumed Church be meant the viſible, which in favour and charity we preſume to be a Church (as Spalaten­ſis, and after him Davenant ſeemeth to ſome to imply) though we know not who are true members thereof, becauſe we know not who among them have ſaving grace; then, who ſeeth not, that this preſumption begs the queſtion; it being evidently built upon that ſuppoſition, which is mainly in controverſie, viz. that one cannot be a true member of the viſible Church without ſa­ving grace; this acceptation of the Church taketh up that reſpect to ſaving grace which is queſtioned, and therefore can claime no place in the controverſie.

2. But if by this preſumed Church