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CHRISTIAN LIBERTY VINDICATED From groſſe Miſtakes, occaſioning ſo great Diviſions in ENGLAND.

OR, A Tract, ſhewing what it is, and what it is not, the diverſity of Errours, a Generall Coun­cell to be the meanes of beating them down, and how far forth Conſcience is to be born with, and the inſolencie of the late Remonſtrants.

Moſt earneſtly recommended to the reading of the Right Honourable Lords and Commons aſſembled in Par­liament, and all thoſe that through a miſtake ſtand ſo ſtifly for the priviviledge of conſcience at large, that they ſtop the courſe of Go­vernment eſtabliſhing, thus keeping a gap open to many great enormities to this day, that taking better notice of the truth, they may make no ſuch ſtopage any more.

And whether ſome of them doe or no, thoſe Higher Powers may make a way by forcing within the Church, which they cannot doe by perſwaſion: Wherein, God grant that all expedition may be uſed, and good ſucceſſe follow, for his Mercies ſake in Jeſus Chriſt. Amen.

Whereunto is added An Appendix of 17. Queſtions, neceſſary to be diſcuſſed and be determined by the Aſſembly of Divines without delay, that every one may know what to hold and reſt in, and the unnaturall diviſions in the ſame body may ceaſe.

By JOHN MAYER, D. D. of Divinity.

LONDON: Printed by Eliz. Puſlow for Matthew Walbancke. 1647.


CHRISTIAN LIBERTY VINDICATED From groſſe miſtakes, occaſioning ſo great Diviſions in England.

GAL. 5.1. Stand faſt therefore in the libertie, wherewith Chriſt hath made us free.

THere is no comfort to that of our Chriſtian Libertie; yet as out of the ſweeteſt honey the Spider ſuckes Poyſon, ſo man out of this ſweet comfort, by turning it to an occaſion of ſinfull diſſention to the corrupting of the ſoule. For as it is now taken by ſome, wee may ſay of it, as Auguſt. ſaid of Drunkenneſſe, Is not ſtrife and contention by thee? and are not wounds without cauſe by thee? and are there not raylings, blaſphemies, redneſſe of the eyes, dropſies, pluriſies, and divers deaths? So, is not the diſturbance of the peace of the Church by thee? the dividing of Chriſts ſeame­leſſe coat by thee? and by thee his beautifull Spouſe the Church made full of wounds and blood? So theſe, as they who looke upon her have their affections alienated from her, and their mouthes opened to blaſpheme and ſpeake evill of her. To re­forme this abuſe then, and to prevent the further increaſe of it, give me leave to ſhew you what this libertie is: Firſt, af­firmatively, and then negatively.

Firſt, It is a libertie purchaſed for all true beleevers by Chriſts moſt precious blood,What Chriſti­an Liberty is. from all the burthenſome Rites and Ceremonies of the Law, and from the ſervitude of our own2 luſts, and of Satan, and from everlaſting death. Here, firſt I ſay, it is a libertie purchaſed for all true beleevers by Chriſts moſt precious blood, for we are redeemed, not with corrupti­ble things of gold and ſilver,1 Pet. 1.18. but with the precious blood of Chriſt, by this word (we) here, the faithfull being underſtood here, and the word (redeemed) a freeing of us, who before were in ſervitude and bands.

Secondly, From all the burthenſome Rites and Ceremonies of the Law,Act. 15.1. From Cere­monies. for ſo Peter calls them, ſaying, Why put yee a yoake up­on the diſciples neeks, which neither we nor our fathers were able to beare? our libertie herefrom is ſet forth, Gal. 4.3. under the ſimilitude of an heire atteining to full age, before he was under tutors and governours, but now he is free from this ſer­vile condition: So we, when we were children, were in bon­dage under the rudiments of the world: But, When the fulneſſe of time was come, God ſent his Son to redeem them that were under the Law. Now then, wee are at libertie from dayes before commanded to be kept, whether new Moones, or the Pasch, Pentecoaſt, or feaſt of Tabernacles, or dayes ſet apart yearely for Humiliation and Attonement-making, becauſe they were ſet up onely to ſhadow out things to come, or as a meanes of commemorating things paſt, which were the greateſt bleſſings imparted to Gods people under the old Teſtament. The an­niverſary attonement was a figure of Chriſts blood ſhed, whereby we attaine forgiveneſſe of our ſinnes, and reconcilia­tion with God, when he entred with it into Heaven, as the High Prieſt with the blood of a Goat into the Sanctum Sancto­rum. The Paſcall Lamb was both a figure of the Lamb of God, that takes away the ſinne of the world, and a commemoration of that great benefit of being freed from their Aegyptian bon­dage. The feaſt of Pentecoaſt, of Gods miraculous putting them in poſſeſſion of the Land of Canaan, and conſequently of the Corne then ready to be reaped which they ſowed not, the feaſt of Tabernacles, of their miraculous preſervation forty yeares in the wilderneſſe, when they dwelt in Tents, that of blowing Trumpets, and thoſe of new Moones, both to figure out the Evangelicall Trumpet, the preaching of the Goſpel, which ſounded in all Lands, to the beating downe of ſtrong3 holds, to commemorate the miraculous overthrow of Jericho by the ſound of Trumpets of Rams-hornes,2 Cor. 10.4. and for a ſigne of God remembring them when they were to fight with their enemies. Touching the Sabbath of the ſeven h day from the Creation, it was alſo figurative of the reſt comming by Chriſt unto all true Chriſtian ſoules, and commemorative of Gods reſting from all his workes of Creation, and therefore is no more to be kept under the N. T. he being now come, even Jeſus who is the Author of ſpirituall reſt and peace; as Joſhuah gave reſt in Canaan, and a greater worke and benefit being now to be commemorated, viz. of our redemption and reſtitution into the ſtate of grace, from which we fell by the ſinne of Adam. Wherefore we are at libertie from keeping that day alſo, yet not ſo at libertie, but that we are tyed to ano­ther, viz. the Lords Day, according to the example and pra­ctice of the Apoſtles, and of Chriſtians ſince, becauſe the com­mandement of keeping the ſeventh day is morall and perpetu­all, & not Ceremoniall, as of other Sabbaths. And Heb. 4, 4.5. the Apoſtle proving two reſts or Sabbaths at two times, one under the Old Teſtament, the other under the new and con­cluding veſ. 9. There remaineth therefore a reſt unto the people of God, plainly intimateth a Sabbath now to be kept, even the day wherein Jeſus entered into his reſt by riſing againe, from thenceforth never to ſuffer or travell about to teach and to worke miracles any more, and hitherto of dayes. Now for o­ther Ceremonies, and firſt of meats, from which Gods people were tyed by his precept; as namely, All uncleane beaſts, fowles and fiſhes (for ſo much as this was done in figure, it be­ing hereby adnumbrated, that there were two ſorts of people in the world cleane and uncleane, Jewes and Gentiles, which ſhould continue thus diſtinguiſhed, till God ſhould be plea­ſed, through Chriſt, to breake downe this partition wall, and to ſanctifie the Gentiles alſo through faith) we are now at liber­tie herefrom;Act. 10. onely ſome, as not having this knowledge think themſelves tyed are ſtill tyed, and therefore ſhould ſin,Rom. 14. if they eate of things uncleane, and the like is taught, of keeping or not keeping dayes formerly ſanctified: Secondly, of Circum­ciſion and waſhings, in caſe of legall uncleanneſſe, ſacrifices,4 the High-Prieſt and other Prieſts in their veſtments, &c. we are not only at liberty from them all,Gal. 5.1. but if we ſhould ſtill uſe them, we ſhould have no benefit by Chriſt.

Thirdly, I ſay, that this liberty is from ſervitude to our vile luſts and ſinnes,From ſervi­tude of ſin. Joh. 8.34. which whoſoever committeth is the ſervant thereof, & then whoſo are thus freed, are free from the danger of death and the power of the Devill; for he worketh by our luſts,Jam. 1.14. Eph. 2. unto which therefore our ſervitude being at an end, there is an end of our ſervitude to Satan alſo, and of our ſubjection to him, to bee by him carried away into his helliſh King­dome.

And all this liberty we ought to ſtand for, but eſpecially this laſt, as wherein our happineſſe doth conſiſt, freedome from ſin by juſtification through faith, and by a vertue derived from Chriſts death, to whom we are joyned by faith to dye to ſinne and live to righteouſneſſe, and freedome from the Devill and his ſnare,1 Pet. 5.8. and dominion, and finally from his Lion-like de­vouring of us.

And hitherto affirmatively what Chriſtian liberty is, now to ſhew negatively what it is not:What Chri­ſtian liberty is not. 2 Pet. 2.19. And here I ſay briefly firſt, that it is not a liberty to any evill or ſinne, becauſe this is no liberty, but ſervitude to corruption, and is ſo oppoſite to Chri­ſtian liberty, as that the Apoſtle faith, How ſhould we that are dead unto ſinne yet live any longer therein:Rom. 6.2. againſt thoſe, that ſaid, If it be of grace that we are ſaved let us continue in ſinne, that grace may abound. As the dead are bound up from doing the actions of the living, ſo the true Chriſtian is ſaid to be dead unto ſinne; to intimate, that be is not at liberty to act ſinne any more; as they that live in ſinne, and were never mortifi­ed unto it, but contrariwiſe bound, that hee cannot now ſinne any more;i Joh. 3.9. as St. John expreſly teacheth, For what is ſinne, but a breach of the Law, and he that breakes the leaſt of thoſe Commandements or Lawes, ſaith our Lord, ſhall be called the leaſt in the Kingdome of Heaven;Mat. 5.19. that is, ſhall be rejected and put from it, as moſt unworthy, for ſuch are by the Holy Ghoſt ſet forth ſometimes by this word leaſt, and ſometime by the word laſt, as Matth. 19.30. & ch. 20.

And this makes againſt all them that will be juſtified by5 faith in Chriſt ſo, as to be at liberty to doe evill, and yet not to be ſaid to ſin in ſo doing: Theſe begin in the ſpirit, but end in the fleſh, as thoſe of Iſaacks poſterity, and of Iſraels, who degenerated and became no better then Iſhmaels:2 Tim. 2.21. For whoſo­ever is a veſſell Elect, and pretious, and ſo appointed to ho­vour, purgeth himſelfe, and is fit for the maſters uſe, being prepared to every good worke. He that ſaith, to doe evill is no ſinne, what ſaith he elſe, but as the curſed Serpent to Evah, touching the Tree of the knowledge of good and evill, Al­though yee eate of it yee ſhall not dye: ſo he, although ye do the evill, which God forbiddeth, it is no ſinne in you, neither ſhall death betide you therefore. The Antinomians then from Zealots are turned Libertines, yea Serpents, which I wiſh that all the people of God would take ſerious notice of, and take heed of being beguiled by their ſubtilty to their deſtruction: For let this be received, and what Whoremonger, Drunkard, Sweater, what man full of envie, wrath, ſtrife, &c. ſhall bee ſhut out of Heaven, ſeeing he beleeveth alſo; and thus too in the number of juſtified perſons: But how may we confute them, ſith he that beleeveth is juſtified, and he that is juſtified can have nothing laid to his charge paſt, preſent, or to come; whereas, if he doth but ſin, it cannot but be laid to his charge.

Anſw. It is not laid to his charge, becauſe God imputes it not to him, and not becauſe it is no ſinne, if it were otherwiſe, it would not have been ſaid,Pſal. 32. Bleſſed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth no ſinne, but rather, in whom there is no ſinne, which whoſo ſaith of himſelfe, is a lyar, and hath no truth in him;1 Ioh. 1 8. yea, although he be a beleever; for it is written, If we confeſſe our ſinnes he is faithfull to forgive them. If it were according to the opinion of theſe proud juſticiaries, that note of St. John would fall to the ground, whereby he ſaith, we may know the children of God and of the Devill, He that doth not righteouſ­neſſe, is of the Devill, and P. being a juſtified perſon,1 Ioh. 3.10. Gal. 3.20. ſaid, He knew not what, when he confeſſed, ſaying, Of all ſin­ners I am the chiefe, and complained of ſin in himſelf,1 Tim. 1.1. Rome. 7.

Hitherto of the firſt. Secondly, Chriſtian libertie is not to error, although he who holdeth it thinkes it to be truth, and in walking accordingly, walkes according to his conſcience,6 neither may he therefore be ſuffered, but animadverted a­gainſt as an evill doer, by the higher powers, provided that it be firſt determined by a Generall Nationall Aſſembly that it is an error. Hence I ſay, firſt, That Chriſtian libertie is not a libertie to error,2 Theſſ. 2.11. for then it ſhould be againſt Chriſt, who is the truth, and Gods Word which is truth; and a libertie to lying, becauſe errors are lyes, and damnable lyes, for they that beleeve them are damned: and it is an epithite of ſuch errors as men hold and will not revoke them, which are therfore cal­led〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, 2 Pet. 2.1.Hereſies of damnation, and the Hereticks are ſaid to be ſubverted and condemned of themſelves, Tit. 3.10, 11.

But,Queſt. Whether is any error to damnation or no; becauſe, ſome erring about meats and dayes, are pleaded for, and de­fended, Rom. 14. Act. 16.3.And Paul is ſaid, to have taken Timothy and circumciſed him, which yet he plainly teacheth to be ſo great an error, that it fruſtrateth the benefit by Chriſt, Gal. 5.1. And after long travell,Act. 21. comming to Jeruſalem, he, by the ad­vice of the Church, purified himſelfe according to the Cere­moniall Law, which was then aboliſhed, and therefore the practice was erroneous. Yet, Gal. 4.10, 11. the obſerving of dayes is cenſured as prejudiciall to the good comming by the Goſpel; for he ſaith, Yet obſerve dayes, &c. I am afraid that I have bestowed labour upon you in vaine, whereby it ſhould ſeem, that any other legall obſervance, when there date was out, is of like dangerous conſequence.

To this I anſwer,Anſw. That errors are to be conſidered, either in the foundation, or in the other building; error in the founda­tion is about Chriſt, who is the foundation whereupon his Church is built,1 Cor. 3, 11. neither can any man lay any other; yet the Church is ſaid, to be built upon the Prophets and Apoſtles Jeſus Chriſt being the chiefe Stone of the corner, where, by the Prophets and Apoſtles, their preaching of the truth, and Pro­pheſying, and committing the ſubſtance of all to writing it meant, but eſpecially the faith touching Chriſt, as the princi­pall thing in theſe writings ſet forth, and the Law of the ten Commandements, which he muſt keepe that will enter into life, and the Sacraments, of which, whoſo partakes not cannot7 be ſaved. Now in the foundation to erre is damnable, becauſe this is to raſe the foundation of life to a mans ſelfe; and if the foundation be raſed, whereupon the hope of life is built, what can this be but a vaine hope, as that building is vaine which is ſet upon the ſands, and ſhall certainly come to ruine? Thus the Jewes and Turkes, becauſe they have no faith in Chriſt, are in a damnable error: And likewiſe Heretiks, who hold not the holy Scriptures to be the Word of God, or Jeſus, not to be very God as well as man, or juſtification, not to be by faith in Jeſus Chriſt, or deny the reſurrection of the dead, or the diſtinct beings of ſoules after death, or the bleſſed Trinitie, or confeſſion of ſinnes to bee neceſſary for the faithfull, or the like monſters amongſt Chriſtians, are all in damnable errors.

Laſtly, Papiſts, who hold not Chriſt to be our onely Media­tor, but ſacrilegiouſly adjoyn to him Saints and Angells in this mediating or interceding office, and are makers and worſhip­pers of Images, and of the hoſt or ſacrifice, as they falſely call the bread in the Sacrament, and beleeve in the Pope as infalli­ble, and juſtification by workes of their owne, and that ſatis­faction muſt be made to Gods juſtice by each one, in ſuffering the pangs of Purgatory fire, before he can enter into life, with a rabble of many errors more, doe alſo erre damnably. Yea, if any man hold any ſuch error, although not all or more, he erreth damnably.

Touching other errors in the building, they againe muſt be diſtinguiſh't into errors ſimple or obſtinate. Simple errors, are errors that men fall into for want of a right underſtanding of the Scriptures, being ready when they are ſhewed them to be turned therefrom: Obſtinate errors, are errors ſtifely ad­hered to after diſcuſſion and determination againſt them in a lawfull Councell. Now, ſimple error in ſuch things is not damnable, but obſtinate is. For, at Ieruſ. there was a Councell of Prieſts and Levites aſſiſted with a Judge, whereunto in caſe of difficultie all men are required to come,Deut. 17. . and the determi­nation being by them made, in any controverſie, all are ſo bound unto, that he, who will not ſtand to it, ſhall dye there­fore. Before this, Moſes, who was a man extraordinarily in­lightned8 lightned by God, adviſing with God from time to time, was the ſupreame Umpire. And the like unto this was done, Act. 15. when a difficult queſtion, about which divers were of di­vers opinions, was reſolved, by the Councell at Jeruſalem, for this was ſent to all the Churches to be kept by them. And the Apoſtles, by taking this courſe againſt diverſitie of opinions, gave example to us in ſucceeding ages to doe likewiſe. Where­fore, at all times, the cuſtome of the Chuch hath beene by Councells to make Canons and determinations of controver­ſies, and ſo it ought to be done at this day, wherein more que­ſtions ariſe then ever in any one age before, and to the Coun­cells determinations ought all to ſtand: And if any will not, their errors now are obſtinate, and preſumptuous, and dam­nable. By this we may conceive, why they that erre about matters not of the foundation are ſo ſharply cenſured ſome­times? and yet at other times defended, or tollerated.

But what Councell is a lawfull Councell in the power wher­of theſe determinations are?Queſt. or there being a lawfull Coun­cell, are we ſo ſure,Of Councels that the Judges in theſe dayes, ſhall deter­mine nothing but the truth, as the Apoſtles and Elders at Je­ruſalem, Act. 15. or the Prieſts, Levites, and Judges in elder times; and if not, there is not the like reaſon of being ſubject to their determinations?

To the firſt of theſe quaeries,Sol. 1. I anſwer, That a lawfull Coun­cell in theſe caſes, is not a Councell conſiſting onely of ſecular Judges; for that at Jeruſalem of old, conſiſted of Prieſts and Le­vites principally, and a Judge or two adjoyned to them, that is, ſo ne few in compariſon of them, and the other more lately in the ſame Citie, of Apoſtles and Elders, that is, Preachers of the Goſpel, having certain Brethren alſo adjoyned unto them. But it is a Councell conſiſting of Preachers, who are by Prayer and arguing to ſiſt out the Truth, ſome Brethren alſo being joyned to them, as there were in the firſt Councell at Jeruſalem, that by their joynt conſent, their Decrees comming out, all ſorts may the more willingly ſubmit to them; for never did any offer in former ages to take this power from profeſſed Theologues, I mean the power of judging in matters The ological; and to give it to ſecular Judges: Neither do I know, whether the preſump­tion9 of Saul, to offer Sacrifice; or of Uzziah, to offer Incence, were more offenſive to God then theirs, to doe this Prieſtly office, the Prieſt being excluded therefrom. For any common Prieſt might offer ſacrifice, but to the High-Prieſt, and other chiefe Prieſts and Levites, Fathers of their families, as moſt choice men from amongſt the reſt, this office of judging in difficult caſes was committed, and therefore in ſome reſpect an higher Prieſtly office: Neither did Uzziah ſo take upon him to offer incenſe, as to put Azariah and other Prieſts from ſo do­ing. It is a knowne ſaying, Tractet fabrilia faber, quiſqueſuum callet artem; neither doe men goe to any other but Phyſitians to judge of diſeaſes, to Lapidaries to judge of precious ſtones, and to Lawyers to judge of Law-caſes; and ſhall it then be thought right, leaving the Theologues, whoſe profeſſion and ſtudie it is, to goe to others, who in Theologie be but their Schollars, to judge of matters Theologicall? But if this moves you not, looke at Gods owne expreſſe Word, The Prieſts lips ſhall preſerve knowledge,Mal, 2.7. and they ſhall enquire the Law at his mouth, that is, not, what is therein written, for that was obvi­ous to any man by looking into the booke, but according to the Law to judge in this or that difficult caſe.

Againe, yee, ſaith Chriſt, are the lights of the world,Matth. 5. and no man takes a light and puts it under a buſhell, &c. which words, what doe they ſhow, but that the Miniſters of the Goſ­pel ought to be uſed as lights, not onely to give light by clea­ring obſcurities in the word, but alſo by determining the truth in any darke or difficult queſtion which ſhall ariſe? But it is feared, if this be granted, the power of the Miniſter will be too great, over-topping even the higheſt in ſome things; and why did not Joſhuah then fearing this, deſire the Lord, that he might not have recourſe to Eleazar the High Prieſt for councell and direction,Numb. 27.11. and likewiſe other Judges and Kings after him? What King did better then Joaſh in the dayes of Jehoindah, whilſt he hearkned unto, and ſuffered himſelfe to be informed by him? and that it was a cuſtome in Iſrael, even till the birth of our Lord,Mat. 2 4. to ſeeke information about divine things in difficult caſes of the Prieſts, appeares in that Herod gathered all the chiefe Prieſts together, to know in what place10 Chriſt ſhould be borne, and the firſt moſt famous Chriſtian Emperour Constantine, that things might be rightly deter­mined in the Church, did the like when he called the Coun­cell of Nice, that I ſay nothing of other Emperours, his Succeſſours calling other Councells at ſundry times to the ſame ends. If a tranſcendent power in the miniſtery be feared, if it be committed to them to judge in difficult caſes, why is it not likewiſe feared in their having power to preach permitted unto them to all eſtates and degrees? For the Prea­cher in the Pulpit is above all his hearers, how great and excel­lent ſoever they be, as being one that perſonates Chriſt as his Embaſſadour,Heb. 13.17. to whom even Kings and Princes muſt ſubmit as to an accountant for them, unleſſe they will have him doe it with heavineſſe, which will be unprofitable for them. There is no man that knoweth not, that ſuch as are ſuperiour in ſome reſpects to all others, are yet inferiour in ſome to the Higher Powers, & ſubject unto them even as others of their Kingdom, and even in that wherein they are ſuperiour, they are ſubject at their command to aſſemble together and to doe their office, and to ſuch mulcts and puniſhments as they ſhall inflict upon them, whether juſtly or unjuſtly, as Zechariah ſtoned by Joaſh, Michaiah impriſoned by Ahab, Abiathar depoſed by Salo­mon, and the Prophet reproving Aſa put in the Stocks by him; onely let the Higher Powers take heed, that they puniſh not unjuſtly, as ſome of theſe did, and ſmarted for it. If then their Soveraignty in worldly things bee kept untoucht not­withſtanding the determinative power in things pertaining to godlineſſe, permitted to choſen men of the Clergy, why ſhould they ſinne againſt their owne ſoules ſo much, as debarring them herefrom, to whom it is given of God, and properly be­longs, to ingroſſe it to themſelves? Is a Kings power any whit the leſſe, if he commits his Law-buſineſſes to the judge­ment of his Lawyers, and then followes that which they pre­ſcribe? No more is it, when Eccleſiaſticall matters, being committed to Eccleſiaſticall men, to judge and ſhew the truth therein, their judgements are followed by all men.

And hitherto of whom a lawfull Councell doth not conſiſt: Now let us ſee, how it ſhould be compoſed, and by what au­thority11 called; and to know this, wee need not look further then to the Councell aſſembled at Jeruſalem, for of ſuch as that conſiſted, ought every Councell that reſolves doubtfull que­ſtions, to conſiſt, and ſo they ought to be brought together, that is, of Preachers ſent from thoſe places where the queſti­ons doe ariſe, to the chiefe City, to joyne with the Elders or Preachers there, all the Brethren that will, being preſent to beare and conſent: They are not then to be appointed by particular men, of what power or authority ſoever, but a cer­taine number to be choſen and ſent from each great Towne or City, even ſo many as they ſhall think fit, who have the power to command this to be done, for it is a buſineſſe concerning all, and therefore in chooſing the men, through whoſe hands it muſt goe, there is great reaſon that both Miniſters and peo­ple ſhould all have a ſtroake, the Decrees concluded upon, be­ing thus in a manner their owne, and therefore ſuch as every good Chriſtian will be regulated by, and aſhamed to oppoſe. If the Councels called by the Popes of Rome be conſidered, by this rule, they will be found not to have beene any lawfull Councells, becauſe they appointed each one in his time, the men that ſhould aſſemble: Neither were thoſe Councels cal­led by the Higher Powers, as all the moſt ancient Coun­cels were, ever ſince there were any Higher Powers to call them.

Laſtly, the Decrees of thoſe Councels, eſpecially of Trent, were none other but the Popes, by whom a party was made to carry all things asee would have them. And even for our owne Aſſembly, I would it might be conſidered, whether there were not an error in the calling of it, which haply is the cauſe why it ſucceeds no better, nothing being yet done to the bea­ting downe of diſſentions in our Church, but they rather en­creaſing more and more.

But although the Aſſembly be moſt lawfully met, they are not infallible as the Apoſtles were, who met in the firſt Coun­cell at Jeruſalem.

I anſwer, a lawfull Councell or Aſſembly is the moſt infal­lible meanes that we have given us of God to determine the truth in every particular, and therefore the Decrees thereof12 ought to be followed and reverenced by every childe of the Church, none of them being againſt, but according to the evi­dence of the Word, which is the rule whereby we ought to goe in all things.

That it is the moſt infallible meanes it appeares, becauſe here are aſſembled the greateſt Lights, and moſt Orthodox, from all parts of the Kingdome, and that according to our pre­ſident; and what are a few in corners here or there in compa­riſon of them, that their opinions ſhould not all give way to the Councels Decrees? Certainly, if theſe Decrees be fallible, theirs be much more; for the promiſe runnes, Where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them, it being ſaid before, What ſoever two of you ſhall conſent about on earth, ſhall be ratified in Heaven. Where hee ſpeakes without all doubt of Preachers rightly aſſembled, to deter­mine of difficulties; for he ſaith, Whatſoever yee bind on earth, ſhall be bound in heaven: And not of men privately meeting ſome few of them together, becauſe ſo the Decrees and points agreed upon by one Aſſembly, might be contradicted by a­nother, which would be ſo farre from conducing to unity, where there be differences, that they would be in danger of encreaſing more and more. And if Councels conſiſting of Elders or Preachers be not the moſt infallible meanes, why did the Apoſtles adjoyn the Elders to them in that firſt Coun­cell, when as they alone were ſufficient to have determined all that controverſie: They did doubtleſſe therefore by ſo do­ing, intimate unto us, that it was the will of God in future times, when they ſhould be departed hence, that the Elders ſhould from time to time be aſſembled, as need required, to determine the controverſies that ſhould ariſe in the Church, to trouble the peace thereof. And this being done, if the De­crees ſhould be rejected by any becauſe the Councell was not infallibly guided, ſuch aſſembling were a vaine and fruſtrate act; which to ſay, ſith it is Gods way, is no leſſe then Blaſ­phemy.

But ſome haply will ſay, there muſt bee Hereſies in the Church, that the approved may be knowne, and therefore no Councels ſhould be called, but all men permitted to their own13 opinions; there is a day comming, when every mans workes ſhall be tryed, and then no erroneous opinion ſhall ſtand,1 Cor. 3. but vaniſh as ſtubble burneth by the fire; before that day it is vaine to attempt it thus, ſith Chriſtians of all Congregations in the Kingdome are not bound to follow the Decrees of any one Councell whatſoever, which may erre as well as they.

I anſwer, becauſe there muſt be Hereſies, it doth not follow that the meanes moſt effectuall to beat them down ſhould not be uſed: as it doth not follow there muſt be diſeaſes in the City, therefore no Colledge of Phyſicians is neceſſary there. Though by all the meanes that can be uſed, errours will abide till that day, and not all be extirped, yet all will not, but many will vaniſh before, as they have done by meanes of Generall Coun­cels in former times, and many millions who are fluctuating without Decrees of Councels, whereby they may know what is to be ſtood to, ſhall hereby be eſtabliſhed, for the reſt it mattereth not ſo much, ſeeing they are not of the number of the approved, as may now be knowne by their ſtill adhering to their owne errours, For how elſe are the approved knowne in times when there are errours, but becauſe ſo adjudged, they are ready to revoke them.

And laſtly, as I ſaid before, in all right reaſon, that which is moſt fallible muſt be regulated by that which is leſſe fallible; and whereof we may ſay, as the Prophet ſometime ſaid, O Lord if I be deceived, thou haſt deceived me: And therefore in ſubmitting to ſuch Decrees there is ſafety; but in following private opinions, danger. For here the Lord is to direct ac­cording to his promiſe, and to approve what is decreed, and his Spirit is by earneſt prayer craved, whom he hath promiſed to give to thoſe that aske him, and they that meet and aske are their ſucceſſurs, who upon praying had viſible ſignes of Gods Spirit comming amongſt them, all which are ſtrong intimations, that a Councell lawfully called and conſtituted, is not ſo ſubject to erre, as many conceive, but ſo guided as that we may and ought to embrace the Decrees thereof, be­ing aſſured, that in ſo doing God will never call us in queſtion for ever: whereas if we be led by private opinions, how plau­ſible ſoever they ſeeme to be in out ſhallow braines, we muſt12〈1 page duplicate〉13〈1 page duplicate〉14endure his ſevere examination and ſharpe cenſure therefore. And hitherto of this, that Chriſtian liberty is not to errour, and of the meane, whereby the truth may be known from er­rour, that it may be imbraced, and all errour rejected.

Now if any, notwithſtanding the Decrees aforeſaid, will ſtill perſiſt in his errour, he is not to be tollerated in a Chri­ſtian Kingdome: For after the determination of the Prieſts and Judges, before ſpoken of, he that did contrary was adjud­ged to dye, as doing preſumptuouſly, that others might heare and feare; and indeed what feare of running with thoſe that erre againſt ſuch determinations, but by corporall puniſh­ments. Oderunt peccare boni virtutis amore, oderunt peccare mals formidine poena. It is evidently the cauſe, why errours are ſo greatly multiplyed in theſe times, every one without controle holdeth what is good in his owne eyes, no higher power being feared in ſo doing, as wanting a Sword to puniſh in ſuch caſes: For let any man ſpeake unpartially, and he cannot but ſay, that men have growne much more audacious to broach their er­rours ſince the Government of Biſhops, as bad as it was, went downe, then they were under it, which verifies the ſaying, That a tyranny is better then an Anarchy. There muſt then be a Sword to puniſh errour, as well as evill doing againſt the Morall Law, which even Heathen Magiſtrates uſed the Sword againſt. In the Biſhops time there were two Swords, one temporall, and the other ſpirituall, as they were called, but improperly, for the onely ſpirituall Sword is the Word, the Diſcipline but a Rod, of which S. Paul ſaith, Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in the ſpirit of meekneſſe. We are now to de­ſire onely one Sword for puniſhment both of wickedneſſe and errour, but it muſt then be drawne againſt both: For as the Magiſtrate drawes his Sword againſt injuſtice, becauſe if hee ſhould not, his Kingdome could not ſtand: So if a Chriſtian Magiſtrate drawes not his Sword againſt errour, his Chriſtian Kingdome will be in dangered, as ours is at this day; but in aſcribing to the Magiſtrate all power to puniſh, we aſcribe not power alſo to judge in divine things, as hath bin already ſhew­ed, leſt any ſhould take aſſerting of the Civill Magiſtrates go­vernment alone to be ſufficient in a Chriſtian Kingdome, as15 an intimating of this power in them alſo; the contrary to which, the Author thereof doth in the ſame Tract declare.

But now to clear yet a little more that point of Eccleſiaſti­call Government, if the Higher Powers will have it, as it ſeemes by their Ordinance they will, I have written nothing to oppoſe them herein, but to ſhew, that it may be ſpared in this Kingdome; yet if this Government be ſet up, it would be conſidered, whether it may according to Gods Word con­ſiſt of ruling Lay Elders in part or not, and by thoſe, that hold it may, whether thoſe Elders ſhould have e­quall power to cenſure with preaching Elders; For firſt, there is no plaine place of Scripture for them; that 1 Timothy 5.17. being manifeſtly wreſted to prove them, as tending to nothing elſe, but to ſhew, that preaching Elders, who both rule well and labour in the Word, are moſt worthy of all o­thers of double honour, becauſe ſome might think, that being imployed in the office of Government, wherein ſome other Preachers were not, they needed not to labour ſo much in preaching; to take them off from this, and to put them upon aſſiduons preaching notwithſtanding, the Apoſtle gives that commendation to ſuch teachers as both execute the office of ruling well, and diminiſh not their labours in the Word upon this occaſion; for ſo we know ſome of them have done, when they were once come into the ruling Office, thinking it to be a ſuperſedeas to any great paines taking in preaching for time to come. Let ruling Lay Elders be here underſtood, and it will follow by reaſon of the next words, For it is written, thou ſhalt not muzzle the mouth of the Oxe, that treadeth out the Corne, that they muſt have maintenance from the Church as wel as Preachers, which were ſuch a burthen as was never yet laid upon the people of God in any age.

To the next Quaere about their equall power, there is no­thing which can be brought for that, but the mentioning of governments, 1 Cor. 12.28. ſo that unleſſe all governments be equall, this cannot hence be inferred. It may hapy be in­ſerted, that there are other Governments in the Church be­ſides Teachers; but let the judicious Reader but marke how S. Paul comes to ſpeake of them, and he cannot but acknow­ledge16 them to be an inferiour ſort of Governours, and that Teachers are the chiefe: For having ſaid, that God hath given firſt Apoſtles; ſecondly, Prophets; thirdly, Teachers, Hee addeth, after that helpes, governments; as man was firſt made, and after that woman to be an helpe unto him, and under him to govern in the Family; and he ſaith not Helpes and Govern­ments as divers Officers, but helps, governments, by appoſition to ſet forth one and the ſame, viz. helping Governours.

All that can be proved then from hence, is, that Teachers are not to governe alone, it being too much diſtraction, and a burthen too great for them, but ſome of the Brethren being joyned unto them to help them in this worke, by having an eye to the inordinate, and admoniſhing them, and in caſe they ſhall not ſo amend, to proceed againſt them, as the Tea­chers upon information ſhall judge neceſſary; neither can any more be inferred from Rom. 12.8. where it is ſaid, He that ruleth with diligence; that is, the Brother preferred to this office of ruling under the Teacher; long after whom, to ſhew his inferiority, hee is alſo there named. And thus it may bee granted,1 Cor. 5. that Lay men in office may keep from the Commu­nion the unworthy; yea, and ought to doe it, when they are ſo judged: as 1 Cor. 5.

But what is all this to their ſuſpending of the Teacher, or to any lay brothers power over him in ſpirituall caſes? This certainly belongs not to him, but to ſome Timothy or Timothies convened to make a Presbytery to heare and judge thereof. Neither have we any ground to prove, that this Office of judging belongs to every Teacher, but to ſome moſt diſcreet and able. But to returne againe to the Argu­ment in hand about puniſhing the Hereticall.

It is objected,Object. whatſoever the proceedings were under the Old Teſtament; yet under the New no puniſhment is ap­pointed for ſuch as erre, although againſt the Decrees of a lawfull Councell; yea, they that hold contrary things, each one according to his conſcience, have a ſuperſedeas granted them from being judged: And in the Parable of the Tares, it is commanded, that they ſhould be let alone till the day of Generall Judgement.

17I anſwer, the ſame Lord who hath forbidden to pluck up the Tares, that is, Hereticks, hath alſo commanded,Sol. Goe out to the hedges and high-wayes, and compell them to come in: Now compulſion implyeth puniſhment;Luk. 14.23. for how elſe doe the Higher Powers compell their Subjects to this or that, but by puniſhing the refractary? it can by no meanes be underſtood of exhorting, or perſwading, for that is ſpoken of before, verſ. 21. where a company are ſaid to be brought in, and yet there was roome, ſome remained ſtill in corners, in hedges and high-wayes, as thinking it beſt apart by themſelves, to ſerve God according to their owne imagirations, ſo forſa­king the Aſſemblies, where this Feaſt is kept by Preaching the truth, to the nouriſhing and refreſhing of the ſoule, but no errour to the corrupting and poyſoning of it. Auguſtine ſaith, that he was ſometime of opinion, that none ought to be compelled to the unity of the faith, but ſeeing by experience both in Hippo, the City where he taught, and elſewhere, that many who were for feare of puniſhment compelled, that were Donatiſts, afterwards proved true Converts (as appeared by their owne confeſſions,) one and another ſaying, I thanke God that I was compelled, for by this meanes I went from my errour, in which I would not now be for the world, hee changed his opinion, and counſelled the Emperour to proceed againſt Hereticks by puniſhments. And he ſaith, although the Lord doth not expreſly command this compulſory way, yet in converting Saul from a perſecutor, he ſet us a ſample teaching the ſame, for he firſt ſtrooke him to the ground, and in his eyes, and then converted him.

Chryſoſtome likewiſe is for compelling by puniſhments, but not unto death, leaſt thus ſome, who might be turned, bee directly ſent downe to hell: And with theſe ſpeake the reſt of the Fathers generally. For the objection of the tares, that pa­rable proveth nothing, but that in caſe that wicked Hereticks cannot be rooted out without indangering the wheat, they muſt be let alone, but not becauſe it is unlawfull to puniſh them. Sometimes they ſo abound, that execution cannot be done, but the good muſt fall as well as the bad, and then wee muſt not goe about to pluck them up, but leave them to God18 to take order about them in his day, grieving for their bind­neſſe, and praying to him to open their eyes, that they may be turned. At other times they are not to be tollerated, but may and ought to be pluckt up, as they that will otherwiſe overgrow and marre the Wheat, which God ſo much tende­reth.

And another reaſon is by Expoſitors yeelded alſo, why hee would not have the Tares pluckt up, becauſe they might in time be converted into Wheat, and of ſuch of them it may be ſaid, that being pluckr up and deſtroyed, the Wheat is in part pluckt up in them.

Laſtly, although the curting off of Hereticks be here for­bidden, yet all puniſhment in their goods, perſons, liberty, or by exile is not forbidden, whereby Chriſtian Magiſtrates pro­ceeding againſt them, do all that in them lyeth for their con­verſion, and ſo cleare themſelves from guiltineſſe in reſpect of their errours, which otherwiſe they cannot doe; provided alwayes, that no Idolaters or Blaſphemers be counted in the number of thoſe that are not to be perſecuted to death, nor ſuch as to promote their errours ſtir up ſedition, or move re­bellion in the Kingdome; for all ſuch ought by the Law of God or of Nations to dye for it, although not for the errours which they hold: And doth it not ſtand with good reaſon, if the Magiſtrate ought to deterre by puniſhments from leſſer evils, that he ought likewiſe to proceed againſt greater? but againſt theft, and adultery, and fornication, and drunkenneſſe, hee ought to oppoſe ſevere puniſhments; and errours are greater evils then theſe: for hereby men are robbed of the heavenly treaſure;Col. 2. 8. ſpirituall adultery is committed, a mans errour being loved more then Gods truth; and here is drun­kenneſſe though not with wine, yet with the ſpirit of giddines, by which the Hereticke is lead. Whereas they object Chriſts not bidding to puniſh Hereticks by death, or other worldly mulcts, or yet by Church cenſures, this laſt is apparantly falſe, for ſomuch as binding is in Church-cenſure; and hereof it is ſaid, Whatſoever ye bind upon earth, &c. implying, that as they ſhould ſee cauſe, they ſhould bind; and upon this ground S. Paul cenſured Hy•••••s and Alexander,1 Tim. 1. for denying the19 Reſurrection, delivering them to Satan, and for his not bid­ding to inflict worldly puniſhments, no more did hee upon Malefactors; but contrariwiſe ſeemed to be againſt the pu­niſhing of the adulterous woman,Joh. 8. and ſpake kindly to the Thiefe upon the Croſſe, &c. if then an Argument may bee drawne from hence in favour of errour, much more in favour of Malefaction.

But all men will count him abſurd, that ſhall argue thus, Chriſt hath not bidden to puniſh Malefactors under the Goſ­pel, therefore they ought to be permitted, and not puniſhed. But to put it out of doubt, that ſuch as are puniſhable by the Law, are ſtill puniſhable under the Goſpel, he ſayes, I came not to diſſolve the Law, but to fulfill it; but how is it not diſ­ſolved, if puniſhments ſet about it, as walls to ſence it, be taken away, whether they be of the Malefactour, or wedded to their owne wills againſt determinations made according to God?

But ſhall a man be compelled to any thing againſt his con­ſcience,Object. which it is Chriſts will, that every one ſhould be per­mitted to follow, as S. Paul declares it?

I anſwer, if this be received as a generall rule, it will both follow,Sol. that whoſoever doth according to his conſcience ſin­neth not, neither ought he therefore to be proceeded againſt, and then what ſinner ſhall be counted a ſinner, or juſtly bee brought under cenſure? Not the poore, who ſteale from the rich, for he thinkes in his conſcience, that being in want, and the other man abounding, he may take a little from him for his ſuccour: Nor the godly, as they are taken to be, who un­reaſonably oppreſſe ſuch as they count wicked, for they thinke itheir conſciences the wicked are but as the Aegyptians whom the Iſraelnes robbed without ſcruple, and that all things are theirs, and that the wicked are uſurpers: Nor the Forni­cator, who hath no wife of his owne, and therefore thinks it is no ſinne to lye with a Maid; eſpecially, if he intends to make her his wife afterwards: Nor the Higher Powers exer­ciſing tyranny againſt thoſe that will not ſubmit to give unto them what they require, for he thinks in his conſcience, for­ſomuch as every ſoule ought to bee ſubject to the Higher20 Powers; and Samuel tells the people, that this will bee the manner of the King, he may be thus tyrannie all towards thoſe that deny: And ſo Ahab might thinke he did not ill in taking away Naboths life and Vineyard both, who would not yeeld unto him his Vineyard.

Laſtly, that I be not too tedious in this ſtraine, a juſtified man may ſteale, lye, commit adultery, drinke drunken, and what not, becauſe he thinkes in his conſcience it is no ſinne in him; and ſo a gap ſhal be opened to all abominations, and he that ſeekes to ſtop it ſhall be a wicked intrencher upon the Chriſtian Liberty, and make that puniſhable which by divine Authority is commendable.

Seeing then to what exorbitancie ſuch a tenet groweth, to ſtand for the liberty of every conſcience, let us ſee if wee can find out what the liberty of conſcience indeed is: It is nothing elſe but a liberty in things indifferent, which are neither com­manded in the Word of God, nor forbidden (or if they be, it is not yet manifeſt to my conſcience that they are ſo) to doe, or not to doe them, till that by a Generall Councell aſſem­bled the queſtions be determined, and then they are no more indifferent, but a conſcience is to bee made by every Chriſtian of ſubmitting therevnto.

For firſt, that the conſcience ſpoken of, Rom. 14. and per­mitted to each one to follow, is converſant about indifferent things onely appeares, becauſe all his diſcourſe there, is, about meates, eating or not eating, and keeping or not keeping dayes, which being formerly commanded, but now that com­mand releaſed, yet not in the conſcience of ſome, who were not perſwaded of it, they refrained from uncleane meats ſtill, and kept ſtill the Sabbaths and new Moones. If therefore in his concluſion he ſhould make conſcience a mans guide in all other things alſo, his concluſion ſhould be larger then the pre­miſes, which is againſt the Law of diſputation. It is there­fore certainly in indifferent things onely, that a man may and ought to follow his conſcience, and not in any of the caſes be­fore ſpoken of, or the like, for therein we have a more cer­taine rule, viz. the Word written, according to which every one ought to walke; and if he doth not, he is a tranſgreſſour,21 and ought to be judged therefore, whatſoever he thinks in his conſcience touching the ſame.

According to this the Papiſts conſcience will not beare him out in his Idolatry, or exempt him from puniſhment; nor the troublers of our Church peace by Soſinianiſine, Indepen­dencie, Anabaptiſme, or Seperatiſme, ſome denying Chriſt to be God, the Reſurrection of the dead, ſome the diſtinct Be­ings of ſoules after death, the Unity of the God-head without diſtinction of perſons, and the Holy Scriptures not to be the Word of God: Some againe ſtanding for each particular Congregation to be abſolute in it ſelfe, and not to take Ordi­nances or Decrees about divine things from any Synod or Aſſembly whatſoever, and to conſiſt onely of holy perſons gathered out of divers Congregations. Some againſt the Baptizing of Infants for want of actuall faith, and ſome deny­ing all Congregations to be Churches wherein the wicked are mixed with the righteous. For firſt, the Papiſt goeth againſt the generall Rule of all conſciences in his Idolatry. Secondly, the Soſinian raſeth the foundation of the true Chriſtian Faith. Thirdly, the Independants conſcience is not converſant about indifferent things; And the like may be ſaid of Seperatiſts and Antinomians and Anabaptiſts. For how ill doth it follow, they whoſe conſciences would not permit them to eate of ſome meates, or told them that the appointed Feaſts were ſtill to be kept, were tollerated to follow their owne conſci­ences, therefore they ought to be tollerated, whoſe conſcien­ces are for wayes of their own, which even themſelves are not yet fully reſolved upon, or at the leaſt refuſe to declare, which were never commanded, or in the ancienteſt times walked in, and which ſo farre forth as they are declared, tend to the ta­king away of the meanes of unity in the Churches of Eng­land, and conſequently to endleſſe contentions and confu­ſion, as is the caſe of the Independents?

Againe, how ill doth it follow, therefore they are to bee left to their owne conſciences, who judge others againſt the evidence of Scripture, as no true Churches, and therefore contrary to them, forſake their Aſſemblies, as the Separa­tiſts? or they are to be left to their owne conſciences, who22 call in queſtion the conſtant practice of the Univerſal Church ever ſince the Primitive times to this day, as the Antbaptiſts: Olaſtly, they who by their new Doctrine lay a foundation of Libertiniſme, as the Antinomians? The conſequence in­deed is good, therefore they ought in times paſt to have been left to their owne conſciences, who would not ſubmit to the uſe of Ceremonies introduced by man into God publike Worſhip: And I am perſwaded that the moſt religious, who lived then, but departed before theſe troublous times, had no further thing in their deſires, then the aboliſhing of them, and of Lord Biſhops their violent abettours, and of Prayers reading in the Congregation, and a Presbyteriall Govern­ment ſetting up, and Canons and Conſtitutions to bee made by a Generall Aſſembly, for the regulating of all particular Churches in the Kingdome. Having therefore by Gods pro­vidence attained to all theſe things, why ſhould we inſtead of being thankfull to God therefore, mutin and make new ſtirnes and troubles, to the eclipſing of the glory of this our happi­neſſe? and to the retarding of a compleat bleſſed Reforma­tion, and Government ſetling; for want of which, Schiſmes and diſorders doe ſo much abound in all places? And why ſhould yee that are the Higher Powers, if ſuch as diſſent, will not by any perſwaſion be moved to reconcile, through a ten­der regard to cōſciences in theſe caſes not to be regarded, che­riſh any hopes in them of being tollerated in their ſingulari­ties any longer? Conſider, I beſeech you, what hath been ſaid, and provide that there may ſpeedily be ſuch an Aſſembly, or yeeld unto your owne that power which belongs unto them, ſuffering them to declare their judgement themſelves touch­ing Government, and of all doubtfull caſes to determine in things pertaining to their owne Profeſſion; and this being done, by your Authority confirme it, not ſuffering any im­punè ferre, that ſhall oppoſe or contemne the determinations thus made, under any pretence whatſoever. Thus peace and unity ſhall ſoone be reſtored to our Church, which is ſo well pleaſing to God, and an end put to helliſh diſſentions, im­poſſible otherwiſe to be quelled; and yee by being a meanes hereof, under God, as hee expects in regard of your place,23 that yee ſhould be, ſhall be bleſſed and happy for ever.

And hiterto or ſinne and errour, unto which no liberty is given by Chriſt. Now thirdly, I ſay, that Chriſtian liberty is not to ſhake off the yoake of the King and Parliament, a Democracie being advanced above all, according to a late ſe­ditious Pamphlet, going under the name of A Remonſtrance of many thouſands, being full of unparallell'd inſolencies: For Chriſtians muſt be ſubject to the Higher Powers, as all men that are but little converſant in the Holy Scriptures know, and hereby purchaſe credit to their Religion, which would otherwiſe become odious to Principalities, keeping them far enough off from being nurſing Fathers to Gods Church un­der the New Teſtament, as it is propheſied, that they ſhould be: They are the Ordinance of God, and ſuch an Ordinance as that whoſoever reſiſts them ſhall reape unto himſelfe dam­nation, as a reſiſter of God. It is not to bee inquired into, what miſeries the Kingdome hath ſuffered by Kings; for ſo they did in the Kingdome of Judah and Iſrael, yet nothing by any man of God intimated, that they ſhould attempt to ſhake off that yoake. A King is ſometime given by God, by whom he reigneth in wrath, and then hee muſt be endured till he that gave him releaſeth the Kingdome of him againe; For as David ſaid even touching Saul, who can lay his hand upon the Lords Anointed, and be blameleſſe? And for a Na­tions being under a Monarch, it was Gods owne conſtitution, when he ſet up Moſes & after that Judges ſucceſſively to rule in Iſrael, untill the time that he gave them a King, and when for their ſinnes after the Reigne of many Kings, they were carri­ed away captive into Babylon,Eſa. 1.23. the Lord promiſing at their re­turne from thence more pure golden times, he ſaith that hee would reſtore them Judges, as at the firſt, and not put them into a Democraticall eſtate; and by Princes, as Judges, one ſucceeding another, they were ruled untill the time of Antio­thus Epiphanes, above two hundred yeeres, which ſheweth Monarchy to be of God, and beſt for his people, where it may be had, and that they know not of what ſpirit they are that cry it downe. And as for the Parliament, which is the great Councell of the Land, without which the King can doe no­thing24 it is therefore to be underſtood alſo under the name of the Higher Powers, that is, both Houſes, and not one of them, the other being nullified at the will of the people, and therefore as Higher Powers to be ſubmitted to, and wherein they doe amiſſe to be ſought to by petition, that it may be re­formed, and not taunted and checked as underlings by the multitude; yet the multitude is not by them to be contem­ned through pride, but their grievances duly to be conſidered, and their juſt deſires ſatisfied, which is the end of Parliaments, that it prove not according to the ſaying, Laeſa patientia fu­ror, and in a mad fit what expectation, that men ſhould be mo­derated by reaſon, and not rather breake out to the con­fuſion of all? which God avert for his Mercies ſake.



An Appendix of 17. Queſtions, ne­ceſſary to be diſcuſſed and determined by the Aſſembly of Divines without delay, that every one may know what to hold and reſt in, and the un­naturall diviſions in the ſame Body may ceaſe.

1. VVHether it be not best to have one ſet Form of Prayer to be publikely uſed throughout this Kingdom, inſtead of the Old Liturgie, as conducing moſt to Uniformity and to Unity, and is moſt agreeable to the practice of other Reformed Churches, and the judgement of our moſt judicious Calvin, and others of great note in the Church of God. The Prayer made by each Preacher in the Pulpit being ſhort at ordinary times, and onely ad appoſitum, but the Lords Prayer not left out, but once at the leaſt uſed every day, ass therein implyed, that it ought to be, for feare of cheriſhing that opinion of ſome, that it is no Prayer, but onely a pattern for direction.

2. Whether it be not neceſſary for us all to have one Catechiſme, to avoid confuſion, by teaching divers in divers places, and to be ſo ſhort, yet full, that the meaneſt capacities may be capable of lear­ning it, and to injoyne the diligent teaching of it in every Con­gregation, till that all have hereby ſome good diſtinct knowledge to ſalvation formed in them.

3. Whether the celebration of the Lords Supper may be deferred at any time without limitation of time, becauſe the Paſſeover26 might not, although it were ſo that ſome came to it not prepared, according to the preparation of the Sanctuary, as in Hezekiah his time?

4. Whether all the Communicants ought not to ſit about the Table, and not be left to this disjunction either at it, or neere to it? for then in one Church they may ſit ſtill to have it carried to them to other ſeates about, and in another ſit at the Table, which tends to diviſion in Chriſts Churches, that ought all to goe by one Rule.

5. VVhether the Miniſter ought not to forbeare giving the Bread to the Communicants before that be hath ſaid all the words of in­stitution touching the ſame, becauſe it is in the Directory ſaid after theſe words, Take, eate, here he ſhall give them the bread, and whether his giving it ought to be any other then moving the veſſell wherein it is towards them, that each one after other may take it himſelfe, and then move it to the next, till it comes to the neather end, becauſe theſe things are not ſufficiently expreſſed.

6. VVhy upon a day of Thanksgiving an afternoones meeting it intimated contrary to Nehem. 8.10, 12. as though all the rejoy­cing then muſt bee ſpirituall, and none civill, which alſo hath beene uſed commonly, Judg. 21.19, 21. Hoſea 2.11. Either 9.19, &c.

7. Whether the keeping of the feaſt of the Nativity of our Lord, ought to be altogether ſleighted as ſuperſtitious, ſith it is of greater Anti­quity by far, then any other holy-days intituled from the Saints, and although not commanded by the Lord in expreſſe word; yet it is by conſequence, and commended by the Saints doing the like in for­mer ages; as by Eſter and Mordecai appointing the Feaſt of Purim to be kept that the remembrance of the Jewes delive­rance by Eſter might never be forgotten: And by Judas Macca­beus the Feaſt of Dedication, graced by Chriſts owne keeping of it, Joh. 10. And for the Antiquity conſult with Chryſoſtome, Jrmy, and Auguſtine, who lived before Gregory the firſt,27 who had this fault, that he was very ſuperſtitious; and therefore this day, and the Reſurrection, and Pentecoſt, being kept before all Popiſh ſuperstition by the teſtimony of the foreſaid worthies, can­not be taxable hoc nomine, but for ſuperfluity and exceſſe of riot onely then uſed, which as chaffe let be winnowed away, but let the VVheat remaine.

8. VVhether the diſorder of ſome of this or that particular Con­gregation in going commonly from that, whereof they are members, upon the Lords day, may be tollerated, where there is a faithfull and painfull Paſtour, as conducing to their more edification, be­cauſe this is pleaded, yet to doe ſo is apparently evill, the diſ­couraging and quenching of the ſpirit in one Miniſter of Chriſt, and puffing up of another, a ground of diſorder laying in many, who are glad of ſuch a pretext to goe for other ends, &c. Et non faci­endum eſt malum ut inde proveniat bonum.

9. VVhether being uncovered for reverence to God and his Ordi­nance in men in•••me of propheſying, ought not to be commended to the people, becauſe S. Paul ſpeakes of it as aſha••and diſho­nour to a man to doe ſo, as in praying, ſo in propheſying.

10. Whether the children of beleeving Parents ought not to bee baptized, and whether ſprinkling ſufficeth without dipping, and what ſolid reaſons of both theſe.

11. Whether Sureties are not rather to be accepted then rejected; for ſomuch as we ſay. Abundans cautela non nocet, and many poore children have fared the better for their God-fathers or God­mothers.

12. Whether both in adminiſtring this Sacrament and that of the Lords Supper, it were not better to have a preſcribed form of pray­er, then to commit it to each Miniſters preſent conception, becauſe ſo this ſervice muſt needs be unequally performed, and by ſome very deficiently.

2813. Whether private meetings for preaching may be tollerated, where the publike place is open, becauſe Chriſtians met not in corners of old, but being inforced through perſecution; about this Or­dinance and this ſeperating, is a condemning of our Congregations as impure and Antichriſtian.

14. Whether perſons juſtified by faith in Chriſt, thenceforth are not lyable to ſin any more.

15. Whether Chriſts deſcent into hell be to be reteined as an Ar­ticle, of our Faith, becauſe it was out of the Apoſtles Creed in the Latin Churches for 500. yeares.

16. Whether there be not a Catholike Church.

17. Whether the Articles of our Faith and Ten Commandements have not need to be recited in the Congregation every Lords day.

Touching all theſe, great ſatisfaction may be given to thou­ſands by their determinations and convincing reaſons, and ſo moſt probably our Church-tempeſt will turne into a calme; but otherwiſe it will probably rage more and more.


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TextChristian liberty vindicated from grosse mistakes, occasioning so great divisions in England. Or, A tract, shewing what it is, and what it is not, the diversity of errours, a generall councell to be the meanes of beating them down, and how far forth conscience is to be born with, and the insolencie of the late remonstrants. Most earnestly recommended to the reading of the Right Honourable Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament, and all those that through a mistake stand so stifly for the priviviledge [sic] of conscience at large, ... Whereunto is added an appendix of 17. questions, necessary to be discussed and be determined by the Assembly of Divines without delay, that every one may know what to hold and rest in, and the unnaturall divisions in the same body may cease. / By John Mayer, D.D. of Divinity.
AuthorMayer, John, 1583-1664..
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Bibliographic informationChristian liberty vindicated from grosse mistakes, occasioning so great divisions in England. Or, A tract, shewing what it is, and what it is not, the diversity of errours, a generall councell to be the meanes of beating them down, and how far forth conscience is to be born with, and the insolencie of the late remonstrants. Most earnestly recommended to the reading of the Right Honourable Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament, and all those that through a mistake stand so stifly for the priviviledge [sic] of conscience at large, ... Whereunto is added an appendix of 17. questions, necessary to be discussed and be determined by the Assembly of Divines without delay, that every one may know what to hold and rest in, and the unnaturall divisions in the same body may cease. / By John Mayer, D.D. of Divinity. Mayer, John, 1583-1664.. [2], 28, [2] p. Printed by Eliz. Purslow for Matthew Walbancke,London :1647. [i.e. 1646]. (Thomason received his copy November 9, 1646; Wing has 1647.) (The final leaf is blank.) (Annotation on Thomason copy: "Nouemb: 9th 1646"; the 7 in imprint date crossed out.) (Reproduction of the original in the British Library.)
  • Church of England -- Government -- Early works to 1800.
  • Westminster Assembly (1643-1652) -- Early works to 1800.
  • Liberty of conscience -- Early works to 1800.

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