Project Canterbury

Of Christian Communion

By John Kettlewell

London: no publisher, 1693.

Part I. Chapter II.
Of the immoral ways, introduced by a wrong payment of allegiance.

The bishops and clergy, who are deprived by the state, when they cannot comply with the foresaid changes and impositions on such revolutions, notwithstanding the deprivation of state, still retain their episcopal and sacerdotal powers. That is, they are as true bishops and priests, as they were before. They are still endowed with the powers of orders, and their use thereof would be as valid, though not as to secular claims and privileges, which are the gift of princes, yet as to the real effects of the covenant of grace, or to purely spiritual purposes, as they would have been, had they not been so deprived.

For these powers are not derived from the state, nor from any secular authority. They are called the powers and keys, not of any kingdom of this world, but of the kingdom of heaven, Matthew 16: 19. Jesus Christ was a spiritual king, disclaiming all secular authority or power of the sword, and declaring his kingdom was not of this world, nor to be upheld by his servants fighting with the sword. And he instituted all church powers; yea, these he instituted before the church came to be incorporated with the state, and made no new institution or alteration therein afterwards. And when secular powers turned Christians, they became the members of an empowered church, and were let in by ministers, and privileged to claim ministrations from powers antecedently received from Christ; and not at all needing to be received from them, nor capable of being conferred by them, as having never been conferred on them.

Nor are these powers to be held, only during the will and pleasure of the state. For then they could not be retained against its mind: and so, not in a state of persecution, when the secular power sets itself to root out the church, and all church-powers and ministrations. Whereas, these powers were given to the church, bearing Christ's cross, and labouring under persecutions; and to continue in it always, even to the end of the world, under whatever circumstances, as well when secularly oppressed, as when protected. Accordingly, these spiritual powers were held on by the apostles, when the secular rulers declared against their apostolical authority, and forbid them to preach any more in the name of Jesus. And by the bishops and clergy, in all the succeeding persecutions. For all persecutions of the church, were persecutions of all church administrations, and of bishops and priests in a more especial manner, who were chief actors, and at the head thereof. Yea, especial edicts and prosecutions were made against them, for being vested with these authorities; as the title of St. Cyprian's proscription, was for being episcopus Christianorum, or a Christian bishop: which authorities therefore, would no longer have belonged to them, could a persecuting power have deprived, or bereaved them thereof.

And this retaining their spiritual powers, will be allowed by their adversaries, who acknowledge, that the deprivation of state is no degradation, to divest them of their character, or spiritual powers conferred in orders: but only a debarring them of exercise thereof in their dominions, and in way of an incorporate church, under state encouragements. So that, if they do exercise their ministry, there will be no want of spiritual powers, to render their acts nullities, or of no effect and validity before Christ. But only want of secular benefices, and enforcements to them; and of submission, as they allege, to the secular power, or of secular obedience.

And having still their episcopal and ministerial powers, it is next to be considered, whether they stand bound to exercise and make use thereof?

It is not to be brought into this question, what is to be done herein, on worldly arguments, as they stand deprived of their livelihoods, and way of maintenance, how hard soever this may fall, either upon themselves, or their families. Which, however it may abate or excuse, especially to compassionate natures; yet is no justification of things, that are otherwise unjustifiable on principles of religion and conscience. But what is to be done on conscionable arguments, that are to rule their determinations as Christians, especially as divines; or that they may faithfully discharge their duty? What is to be done by spiritually minded and mortified men, who are raised above this world, and prefer God and religion before themselves?

Nor is the dispute, whether the ministerial powers be such a burthen, that men must be always pressing and obtruding the exercise thereof, without any regard to the wants of the place, or the needs of the church. Necessity is laid upon me, and woe be to me, if I preach not the gospel, was spoke in the want of true preachers, when the harvest was great, but the labourers were few. It spoke a necessity introduced, not merely by the power of orders, but also by the circumstances of times and persons, when the exercise thereof was necessary in want of preachers, for the use of the church. But in plenty of true preachers, there would not have been the same necessity; nor would they have been bound to this exercise, in place where there was no need of their gifts, but the same were exercised by others. In this surplusage of supplies, for church-uses and necessities, the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets, and their powers must either be exercised, or forborne and suspended, as makes most for order, and edification, and the peace of the church.

But this exercise, the deprived bishops and clergy are bound to, in duty and conscience at such times, if there is a need of their ministrations then, to provide for religion and the souls of men; or to prevent men from being nursed up in destructive ways, as immoral practices, and immoral worship and devotions, must be confessed to be.

To clear this, it may not be amiss to consider;

First, what immoralities come in, by a wrong, payment of allegiance, to corrupt religion, and to endanger souls.

Secondly, what provision good and faithful pastors ought to make against such dangers and corruptions, by the exercise of their ministry.

First, I shall briefly consider, what immoralities come in by a wrong payment of allegiance, to corrupt religion, and to endanger souls.

Whether this is actually the case of any kingdom, and the allegiance required of them by their new governors, be directed and paid wrong, I do not here discuss. That makes another dispute, viz. about the right to the crown contested betwixt the two competitors in those countries, and the lawfulness or unlawfulness of the new oaths of allegiance, consequent thereupon, which is exacted on such changes. And this, it is no part of the design of these papers, to argue or meddle with.

But when this really is the case in any revolution, as in this world, God knows, it is too often; or among those subjects, who believe this is their case, and that their allegiance is called for to the wrong, against the right person: such as these are the immoralities, that will everywhere corrupt religion, and endanger souls, whilst such wrong payment lasts, and which should be thought to do so among them, viz.

Then all that time, whilst they are violently transferring their allegiance from him, to whom it still remains rightfully due, would men in the general practice of those nations, be wickedly disobeying, and forcibly resisting God's authority, or the father of the fifth commandment, which extends to civil, as well as natural parents. Then would they all that while be most openly, and horribly breaking through all former oaths of allegiance. Then would all, who have promised, and pay their allegiance, to drive out their ejected prince out of any part of his right, or to keep him out thereof, be actors of bare faced iniquity, and heinously unrighteous, coveting and invading their neighbours goods. And all force used against him, or any other persons, for their adhering to his cause, would, in God's account, be oppression, and unjust violence; all spoils and seizures of their goods, would be thefts and robberies; and all shedding of their blood, all cries and clamors for it, or rejoicing in it, would be horrible murders; which, not only they who acted, but they who wished, or prayed for, or gave thanks for, when accomplished, would be guilty of. All which, are most dangerous and destructive ways, and amount to a general breach of God's commandments, and to an open waste of moral honesty and justice. And all these, would be the dangers to men's souls in any kingdom, were the translation of allegiance, such an unrighteous perversion, really, and in itself. Or, they would be met, with like pastoral provisions, as if they were so dangerous, should the deprived pastors believe, and apprehend it to be such. For it would have the same effect, to awaken their care and ministration, if it appeared so to them, and brought all these dangers on the people, in their apprehension.

Besides, it may happen, that in the opinion of the much greater part of the swearers themselves, this allegiance shall be transferred and paid to the king regnant, and professed by them to be so, only as to the king in fact, leaving the other still to be king de jure, or to retain the legal right. Now, if any ejected prince, is any where admitted to have the legal right, by turning their allegiance to his competitor against him, the subjects of those countries, would fall into all the same fore-mentioned practices. If he remains their rightful king, it is disobedience and rebellion, or resisting of God's ordinance, to take up arms against him: or to abet, aid, and pray for the prosperity and success of those, who take up arms against him. It is a literal downright breach, of all oaths formerly made to such rightful king, to bear allegiance to him, and to defend him therewith, against all attempts made against his person, or crown. It is to be self-condemned of the highest injustice, by forcing, or keeping him out of that, which they own to be his right. It is to be guilty, of murders, and robberies, in all the blood-shed, and spoils, which, in the course of their new allegiance, they have abetted, or prayed for, or attempted to make on him, or on his adherents, for his cause. For all allegiance is due, and required by God, to be paid to rightful kings. And to those, who have, and stand upon their right, whether they be in, or out of the actual administration of their respective realms. And this, to those who have the legal right, which is not set aside by providential possession. All which, they who please, may see proved, in a treatise entitled, the duty of allegiance settled upon its true grounds, according to scripture, reason &c. So that there would be a like waste of moral honesty, and just practice at such times, and like danger to the souls of subjects, to call for the preventive or medicinal help of their ministrations, by their swearing brethrens own principles, or should it prove, that the ejected prince has the legal right, according to their apprehensions, and authorized writings in this case.

And this immorality and dishonesty, would endanger men's souls at such times, not only as appearing in practice, but also, as appearing in worship and devotions. For all these unrighteous, dishonest, and immoral things, should they be found such, are not only daily acted by subjects of such realms, in the course of practice; but use also to be daily offered and recommended to God, in their solemn worship and devotions.

For the daily prayers for such governments, use to be the same, as for any other preceding, and confessedly most rightful governments: viz. for the prosperity, and continuance of their administrations, for their overcoming all their enemies and opposers, and for God's confounding all their devices against them, &c. When there is a state of declared war and opposition, between them and their competitor himself, called by the swearing brethren, the king de jure. There use moreover, to be particular acknowledgements and thanksgivings inserted, for the subjects being delivered of their former king, and for having their present governors to reign over them, in his place. And particular prayers, for the prosperity of their arms, both by sea and land; when those arms are employed particularly against him, and against those, who, as the public acts at such times use to say, rebelliously adhere to him; and when they are to drive him out of such parts of the dominions, as he still holds from them; or to keep him out of other parts thereof, if he shall make any attempt to recover the same out of their hands. And, besides that these things use to be daily recommended to God, as part of the public offices: they are further, an occasion, made the professed aim of other solemnities of religion, and solemn and appropriate times, are appointed on purpose for them, and devoted to them. As set days of fasting and humiliation, for engaging God to give success to these arms and expeditions. And set days of thanksgiving, for returning solemn thanks to God, for any victory or success he has afforded in that cause, after they have received the same.

Now these, in behalf of a legal rightful king, and where they are not made in any other pretenders wrong, are just and pious prayers. But if in any time or kingdom, they should be made by subjects, for an unjust possessor of another's crown, against their lawful king; they would be prayers put up, for all the sore-said iniquities and immoralities of perjury and rebellion, of oppression, injustice, and all sorts of unrighteous violence. Or, if made against one, owned to be king de jure, or the lawful king; they would still be so unavoidably, according to those persons principles; and would be so held and accounted by them, if they, who profess to go, and act upon such principles, would be true to them.

And the bringing such heinous immoralities and iniquities, into God's own house and worship, I think would plainly be most highly affronting, and offensive to the great and dreadful God, and as dangerous to the souls of men, as can well be imagined. For these iniquities and immoralities, give high provocation to God, when he meets them in any place, or sees them committed by those, who still retain that reverence for him, as to believe that he forbids them, and is angry at them. But to bring them as an offering into his own house, and to recommend them in prayers and religious solemnities, is to make him a party therein, or pleased therewith; and to the heinousness of those ways, as they are acts of high disobedience, adds, moreover, an horrid, and more immediate blasphemy of God himself. Such an immoral worship, is a charge of his being an immoral God: which Plutarch, a wise, and piously disposed heathen, thought a more intolerable reproach, than to deny his being, and say, there is no God. Thus, as he observes, any good and virtuous person would resent it, in his own case. For I, saith he, had rather have it said, and should think he wronged me less, who should say, there never was, nor is, such a man as Plutarch: than have another affirm, yes, there is such a person: but he is a man of no steadiness, mutable, angry, greedy of revenge for every light cause, that will fall out with you for trifles, and if you are wanting in any ceremony, would be ready to grew your flesh, or stay your son, or turn in cattle to trample down and devour your corn. And answerably, the fixing these, or any such like immoral and blasphemous characters on God, he thinks, is not less impious, than atheism itself is.

And should these fore-said ways prove immoralities, both in practice, and in public prayers and devotions; those few deprived bishops and clergy in any kingdom, who suffer for standing out against the same, when the most run into them, cannot but see men generally nursed up therein.

For, as to the practice of those immoralities, carnal reasons, and the course of the times, and the terror of the present powers, will make them go down with most men. And their spiritual guides, will nurse and train them up therein, if once they themselves are generally got in to go along therewith, and to do the same. Nay, when a general persecution is raised, to drive on the unwilling, and to force them to comply for external interests; they will then stand ready to carry on the same, with regard to conscience. If any start, or stand off, when consulted, they direct, and persuade them to come in, as they see they themselves have done, and tell them, it will be no matter of guilt, or of spiritual danger to them. And when once they are got in, they speak, and preach peace to them, that they may feel no remorse for so doing, nor harbor any thoughts of returning. And to take off all apparent inconsistence; from the commands of God, and the duties of religion, about oaths, and obedience to governors, and common justice, and not coveting or invading other men's goods or rights, and the like, that are ready to fly in their faces, and bear hardest on what they have done: they start doctrinal salvos for all these precepts, to cover their own ways, from falling under the same, and to prove there is no sin therein, notwithstanding all the seemingly plain, and literal opposition, which those precepts and duties bear to them.

And then, as to these same immoralities, in public worship and devotions; if these ways should really prove immoralities, at such times they are plainly nursed up in them, because they are part of the daily prayers, and, on occasion, are the set fasts and thanksgivings, in all the public churches and assemblies. The authorized and established guides and pastors, every where then observe and use them, (such states not authorizing and establishing, but depriving the refusers thereof;) and put them into the people's mouths, if they will follow and say after their leaders. And this is to be trained and nursed up in such devotions, in such sort as people are trained up in any devotions by their guides: that is, by being convened and called to them, and, in the public ministration, lead on therein; the pastors part, as to this, lying in leading, as the peoples doth in following them.

So that the people in such cases, are generally trained, and nursed up, in these practices and devotions. Which, if, for want of legal right or just title in their new governor, and for the continuance of the same in his competitor, they prove unrighteous and immoral ones; they would be nursed up, in immoral practices and devotions. And what obligation that would lay, on the suffering and deprived bishops and clergy of those countries, for pastoral ministrations, will appear, by considering,

2. Secondly, what provision, good and faithful pastors ought to make against such dangers and corruptions, by the exercise of their ministry, which shall be treated of in the ensuing chapters.

Project Canterbury