Project Canterbury

Of Christian Communion

By John Kettlewell

London: no publisher, 1693.

Part I. Chapter VI.
More of the obligations to actual ministration, which lie upon them in the foresaid cases.

The last respect, wherein the ministerial characters may be considered, is,

3. Thirdly, as they relate to the souls of men, or to the church. And these also most evidently oblige to the same ministrations, in the foresaid cases.

For in this respect, they are placed in the church of Christ, and set over it,

1. As watchmen. I have set thee as a watchman to the house of Israel, saith God to the prophet (Ezekiel 3: 17 and 33: 7). And they watch for your souls, as they that must give an account thereof, says St. Paul (Hebrews 13: 17). Now the watchman, is set to espy any emergent harm or dangers before they come; and to descry the enemy, whilst yet he is only approaching. And this, to give notice of them, that the people may not be surprised, or seized thereby, but timely shun them, or prepare against them. So that his office lies in ministering the word of warning. Being set as their watchman, thou shalt warn them from me (Ezekiel 3: 17 and 33: 7). Warning every man, who is in the way of doing ill, and teaching every man the sin and danger thereof, that we may present every man perfect in the knowledge and obedience of Christ Jesus, Col. 1. 28. And if he fails to minister this word of warning, as any spiritual need of theirs, or as any approach of sin and danger requires the same, their blood God will require at the watchman's hands (Ezekiel 33: 8 and 3: 18).

Now, immoral worship and practices, are most detrimental, and dangerous to souls. Immoral prayers, profane God, instead of honoring him; and provoke a curse, instead of bringing down a blessing. And immoral practices, are ways of death, which men must not trust to any prayers to put by, or atone for, till, instead of going on therein, they truly repent of the same, and turn away from them.

And when any guides come, to recommend and justify these to men, and to vacate all those moral precepts, which should make them uneasy and afraid to be found therein; then is the enemy approaching, and guilt and death stand gaping to devour them. And then they who watch for souls, ought certainly to administer the word of warning, and to see that the people do not securely sin and perish, for want of their blowing the trumpet, and giving notice. And the blood of those souls would be required at their hands, should they treacherously keep silent, and fail to preach and warn their charge, on such occasions.

2. As overseers or inspectors. Take heed to the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, Acts 20. 28. Taking the oversight thereof, willingly and of a ready mind, 1 Peter 5. 2. Now the overseer of souls, is to be an overseer of their worship, or of what they do in God's house; of their lives and practices, how they demean themselves in those duties, which God will require an account of; of their faith, how they retain the belief and profession of his truths; and of any spiritual wants or dangers, or other things, whereon the salvation of souls depends. And the part of these overseers is, from time to time to observe, what their wants, or dangers are, either in worship, faith, and practice, &c. And to minister provisions and supplies against them. Their eyes are to be over them for these purposes; the oversight which they have undertaken, being an oversight of care and kindness, for the right conduct and salvation of their charge. Accordingly, as overseers, they are called upon to take heed to their flocks, or to espy and provide against any harm, that is coming upon them. And when they are in any spiritual want, either of worship, or doctrine, or of other ghostly provision, which is in their power to supply them withal; to feed them therewith, or to minister it to them. Feed the flock of Christ, whereof you have taken the oversight, saith St. Peter, 1 Peter 5: 2. And take heed to all the flocks, to feed the church, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers. Yea, such heed, as befits the oversight of the most invaluable things, this church being the church of God, and a church which he hath purchased with his own blood, Acts 20. 28. And this feeding of their spiritual wants, is feeding them with their spiritual ministrations, those being the proper food of souls. So that, to show themselves faithful overseers, when the foresaid immoralities are introduced into the worship, the doctrine, and practice of the church; they must take heed, both to espy the guilt and danger thereof, and to supply the church with better and more wholesome ministrations.

3, as guides or leaders. Remember your guides, or those that have the guidance or rule over you, Heb. 13. 7. 17. And our saviour calls the scribes and Pharisees, those ignorant, and mistaken pastors, blind guides or leaders, Matthew 23. 16, 24. And Matthew 15. 14.

Now, the business of guides of souls, is to show them God's ways, and to carry them on in the same; and to keep them out of such, as are evil and destructive to them. In all things, where they are set to direct, they must show them the right, and lead them on in it, as their leaders in what is good: and call out to them when they are going wrong, and show them the danger of holding on therein. They must not be ignorant or mistake the way themselves, which is to be blind guides, as our saviour taxed the Pharisees, Matthew 23. 16. And when they see the right, they must not conceal or dissemble it; but are to be guides, which speak to their people the word of the Lord, or tell them what he calls right, Heb. 13. 17. And this they must do, with all carefulness; seeing that none miscarry, or perish for want of guidance; but only for being deaf thereto, and contumacious against all their calls: wherein they must demean themselves, as they that watch for souls, and must give an account thereof, as the apostle there saith.

Now, as guides of souls, they are to direct and lead them, in acceptable and saving worship, doctrines, and practices. And if, with respect to any of these, they see them going wrong; or, see seducers busy to mislead them: as their true and faithful guides, they must set them right, and call out to them to have a care of wandering; or, if they are got out of the way, to come back again. When others guide them into an immoral worship, or immoral practices, or into the belief and maintenance of such corrupt salvos as vacate moral duties; they must guide them out of the same. And they would be very unfaithful guides, should they suffer men, either on their own heads, or at the call of seducers and false guides, to run into wrong ways; and should not diligently discharge their ministry, and do their part, to lead them better, and set them right in such cases.

4. As pastors or shepherds. The evangelical ministers, St. Paul calls pastors, Ephesians 4. 11. They are set to feed Christ's sheep, and under him the chief shepherd, as St. Peter speaks, 1 Peter 5. 2, 4. Of these, God foretells, that they should be pastors after his own heart, Jer. 3: 15. And the priests of Israel, God calls the pastors and shepherds of Israel, when he sends to denounce woes against them, Jer. 23: 1, 2. Ezekiel 34: 2.

Now, the part and office of shepherds and pastors is to feed their sheep. Should not the shepherds feed their flocks? Ezekiel 34. 2. And feed the flock of God, which is among you, 1 Peter 5. 2. The food of souls, are divine offices, and the word of knowledge. These are represented, as the milk, which they are to suck, 1 Peter 2. 2. As the bread of life, wherewith they are to be sustained, John 6. 35. And as the meat, which perisheth not, but endureth to eternal life, verse 27. And verse 47, 48, 51. And therefore the feeding of the shepherds of souls, must be their administration of this spiritual food, or feeding the people with the ministry of the word, or of divine offices: feeding them with knowledge and understanding, as God promises the true prophets should do, Jer. 3. 15.

His part is also to keep them together the best he can, for joint participation of these ministrations, that, as one flock, they may be fed therewith. This gathering, and keeping them together, God takes notice of in shepherds. He that scattered Israel, will gather him, as a shepherd doth his flock, Jeremiah 31: 10. When he carries them out to feed, or to minister this spiritual food to them; he calls to all his sheep, that will know, and hear his voice, and not run after strange voices, and leads them out, and goes before them, (the sheep among the Jews, being used to follow, not, as with us, to be driven before their keepers,) that as one flock, they may feed together thereon, he himself administering it at the head of them, John 10: 3, 4, 5. And if any wolf comes to break in, to destroy or scatter any of his fold; he doth not flee away as the hireling, but stands to them at his peril, to keep them together the best he can, and to guard them against the wolf by a diligent ministration, verse 11, 12, 13. He takes heed, as St. Paul directs, to feed and arm all the flock, that they may not become a prey to grievous wolves, Acts 20: 28, 29. And if any of them are lost in the onset, he seeks after that which was lost, to recover it again; if any, by the fright, were driven away, or scattered, he endeavours to bring it back. He strengthens, what was diseased; and heals, what was sick; and binds up, what was broken in the conflict. And without such care, in getting, and keeping their flocks together, by such ministrations; God declares, they are not shepherds that feed his flock, but that feed themselves; and that he is against them, and will require his flock at their hands (Ezekiel 34: 2, 3, 4, 8, 10).

As pastors and shepherds of the flock therefore, they must see what spiritual food is administered to it. If there is a want, of necessary, and saving doctrine, and worship; they must not see the children starve for want of bread, or the fold pine away for want of food, but lead out all that will know their voice, where they may have it, and there administer the same themselves, and supply it to them. Or, if others would feed them with poisoned food, as immoral doctrines, and immoral worship are; they are to warn them of the harm designed, and to minister purer and more wholesome to them in its stead. And their care must be, as much as the case allows, to keep their flock together with these administrations. So that as shepherds, who would show care of the flocks, or approve themselves faithful pastors; they are bound to feed and keep their flocks together, by due and diligent exercise of their pastoral ministrations, in the foresaid cases.

5. As doctors, or standing teachers of the church. He has given them to the church, as pastors and teachers, saith St. Paul (Ephesians 4: 11). And requires, that they shall be able to teach others, (2 Timothy 2: 2). And apt to teach (1 Timothy 3: 2). And 2 Timothy 2:24: This teaching, must be of the things that thou hast heard of me, saith the apostle, 2 Timothy 2:2). Of the depositum, or of that good thing, which was committed to thee, 2 Timothy 1: 14. Of all that is needful, in the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the church, and for the perfecting of the saints, in the unity of the faith, and in the knowledge of the son of God, unto a perfect man in Christ (Ephesians 4: 11, 12, 13). It must be a teaching these, faithfully, and incorruptly, as they have been taught them: holding fast the faithful word, as they have been taught it, that their exhortation may be by sound doctrine (Titus 1: 9).

And in this work of teaching all these things, with fidelity and incorruptness, from time to time, as need requires, they must lay themselves out, and give attendance. Let him that teacheth, wait on teaching; and him that exhorteth, on exhortation (Romans 12:7, 8). Give attendance to exhortation, to doctrine, i.e. teaching or instructing others (1 Timothy 4:13). They are to labour, in administering this word and doctrine (1 Timothy 5: 17). To give themselves wholly to these things, and to continue in them, that by so doing, they may both save themselves, and those that hear them (1 Timothy 4: 15, 16). They are to slip no seasons, when people need to be taught any of these matters. But to preach the word, and to be instant in it, in season, and out of season (2 Timothy 4: 2). And, as good and faithful rulers and stewards of the household, to give them their proper portion of meat in due season (Luke 12: 42). Particularly in those seasons, when false teachers lead them to do ill things, and seek to poison them with corrupt doctrines. For then, by sound doctrine, they are to stop the mouths of vain talkers and deceivers, who for filthy lucre's sake, teach things which they ought not; and to convince gainsayers (Titus 1: 9, 10, 11). And to be ready with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine, contrary to God's word, and to call upon others to do the same: as all bishops, according to our form of consecration, solemnly promise in their ordination.

Now, sustaining the office, and standing in place of such teachers to the church; the ministers of Christ must necessarily be bound, to a diligent discharge of their ministrations, or to administer the word in the forementioned cases. For then, both the prayers and religious service, and the lives and common practice of the people, is corrupted by heinous immoralities. And they want to be taught and showed, that there is any harm in either; false teachers having justified to them the immoralities in both, and, by vacating moral precepts, and by broaching corrupt and immoral doctrines, having laboured to leave in them no conscience thereof. And when people are thus untaught, or mistaught, in great and concerning parts of the depositum; they, who would faithfully discharge the part of true teachers, must take care to teach them better. If they are to attend on it, to labour, and give themselves wholly to it; how can they let it fall at such a time, not appearing at all, or appearing very negligent therein. If they are to continue in teaching these things, they must not flinch from it, and give it off; if they are to do it, in, and out of season, they must not sure be wanting, when the season is so pressing; if against deceivers, and gainsayers, they ought in no wise to fail, when those gainsayers are so busy at work, for perversion thereof. So that, as faithful teachers of Christ's church, they are not to suffer the people to perish for want of saving knowledge, but are duly to administer the word in the foresaid cases.

I might also further note the necessity and obligation they lie under to the forementioned ministrations, from their being set up by our saviour, as the light of the world (Matthew 5: 14). And as the salt of the earth, verse 13. For, as the light of the world, they must shine out, and give light abroad; men not lighting a candle, to put it under a bushel, that it may shine only to itself; but put it on a candlestick, that it may shine out and give light to others, verse 15. And such light they give to the world by their ministrations, when they minister the gospel, and all the doctrines and duties of it, with the knowledge whereof, the world is to be enlightened. And as the salt of the earth, they must keep the religious service, and morals of men, from being corrupted; since the use of salt, is to keep out putrefaction and rottenness. And this also, is by their ministrations. For, by their constancy in administering sound and wholesome things, they season the church, keeping it up in purity and soundness, and keeping out all adulterations and corruptions, when endeavours are used to introduce them by seducers.

And thus, by all the characters of the ministerial function, and the parts of their office, do the bishops and pastors of Christ's church stand bound, to an actual discharge of their ministrations, in the forementioned cases. And cannot drop, or let them fall, without those characters and offices flying in their faces.

For how will they answer it to God, as having acted the part of his faithful messengers, to a people so endangered and depraved, by polluted worship, doctrines, and practices, if they have stood dumb and speechless, and, instead of ministerial uttering and delivering, have suppressed and kept back the word and message they were charged with? How, as having well discharged the place, of ministers, ambassadors, of public agents and representatives, of God and Christ: if they have been such representatives, as would not act, or order any thing in their names; such ambassadors, as would pursue no instructions; such public agents, as refused to acts; and such ministers and officers, as would not minister or officiate in their masters business and affairs, yea, even in those of most importance, and in their greatest exigencies? How, as having been co-workers, and fellow-helpers, if, whilst he was so busy at work, with an endangered and depraved people, by his spirit and providence; they gave over working, and left him to do it by himself, making him no help or furtherance by their ministrations?

How will they hope to approve themselves before him, to have been good and faithful ministers and stewards, of religion and its mysteries, if they have not been, both faithful keepers, and faithful dispensers thereof? Will religion and its mysteries, be judged to have been well kept, when it was suffered to be spoiled and rifled, and when the brightest gems of this inestimable depositum, have been broken, embezzled, or made away; and its choicest flowers picked out, and not only base, but poisonous and corrupt weeds put in their places? Or, will they be deemed, to have been their faithful ministers and dispensers, who have not ministered or dispensed them onto others, but concealed and kept them up to themselves? Or dispensers of them, by church ministrations, at the head of visible societies; who have not pastorally administered them to any churches, or headed any societies of faithful upright Christians, in the free and steadfast profession and observance thereof.

How can they expect, at the great day of accounts, to pass for men that have acquitted themselves, as good watchmen, if all the time, whilst sin and death were advancing to make the people their prey, they could spy no enemy; or, if they did, would speak of none, nor warn against them? Or, for trusty overseers, if they over-looked the most pressing wants of their charge, or gave no caution, nor made any supply or provision for them? They are ill overseers, that over-look, when they should espy their people's necessities, or dangers. And oversee, not as keepers and guardians, but conspirators and betrayers, if, when they see them, they will not discover them, but let them silently and securely run into destruction.

Can they imagine he will call them faithful guides, who left a people that were ignorant of the true way, to guide themselves, or to be misguided by seducers; who would not show the right way, when all endeavours were used to make them go wrong; nor, when they saw them straying, would call out to them to come back again? Or, that he will repute them good shepherds, who have taken no care to feed their flocks with spiritual ministrations, nor to guard and arm them against wolves and seducers, nor to keep them together, when they are in danger to be scattered; nor to bring them back, when they are straying from the fold? Or, that he will receive and welcome them, as constant and faithful teachers of his church, who have let men sin and perish, for want of teaching; and could silently sit by, and hear them mistaught by seducers; and, instead of stopping their mouths, give way to gainsayers; whose lips did not preserve, and keep up knowledge among the people, but suppress and conceal it from them; and who, instead of seeking, shunned the seasons of ministering the word, and of giving God's people the necessary instructions?

How will they hope to approve themselves at that day, as having been the lights of the world, if they held this light as dark-lanthorns, ministering none to the world, but letting it sit still in darkness? Or, as the salt of the earth, if, by pure and wholesome ministrations, they did not season the inhabitants thereof, but suffered them, for want of seasoning, to run into spiritual corruption and putrefaction? If they appear then, to have been such salt, as did nothing to keep out corruption, they will be in place of salt without savor, as our blessed Lord says, or of insipid salt. And such, instead of being set by, and carefully laid up, he declares to be good for nothing, but to be cast out, and trodden under foot, Matthew 5. 13.

So that all the parts and offices, the titles and characters of their own sacred powers, do most fully and lewdly proclaim to them the duty of exercising their spiritual functions, and discharging their holy ministrations, in the foresaid cases. And let them but look, to any of those marks of power and care, which God has put upon them; or to any of those stations, wherein he hath placed them; and they will effectually remind them, how much they are obliged to stir up the gift that is in them, when they see religion wronged, and the souls of men endangered, by immoral worship and doctrines, or by other great invasions on Christian worship, faith, or practice.

Indeed, the necessity of supplying the church, with this pure worship, faith, and practice, is thought by some to go a great way in conferring the ministerial powers, on those who otherwise would not have them. And this is the plea, for the collation of the ministerial powers by ordination of presbyters: without episcopal imposition of hands, in some foreign churches. But not to examine that here, whatever force and effect it have in that case, of conferring the ministerial powers on those who have them not; it must needs be a sure call to the exercise thereof, to those who have them, and are endowed therewith.

I do not say all men are equally bound by the foresaid characters, to exercise these gifts; nor that the same men are equally bound to it in all places. The blessed apostles, had general commissions, and were sent out expressly to all nations, Matthew 28. 19. Other bishops, have a more limited inspection, and ought to be more especially watchful over their own dioceses, having more particularly undertaken the charge thereof. But yet so, as to be the bishops of the catholic church, and for the preservation of the catholic worship and faith; who are therefore under obligation of keeping these up, as far as they can, when they are sinking and over-born in other places.

Indeed, in this ministration, they are not to stand on punctilio's of obligation, doing no more than it can be proved they are bound to do in rigor of justice. But they are to show zeal and affection, which doth not weigh grains, but thinks that a call, where it can do religion and its master any considerable service; and that the more of this it can do, the better it is. The spirit of love, and zeal, is the spirit, which God requires in pastors, to direct and influence their spiritual exercises and administrations. Lovest thou me? says Christ to Peter, repeating this to him three times, when he charged him with the pastoral office, of feeding his sheep, and his lambs, John 21. 15, 16, 17. By the putting on of hands in orders, the spirit, which God hath given us, is the spirit of love to Christ and his church, and of power or firmness and fearlessness of what evil may befall our selves in prosecution thereof, says St. Paul, 2 Timothy 1. 7. The charge of feeding the flock, or the over-sight which they take, is not an unwilling charge, such as will go no further than it is compelled; but requires a willing and a ready mind, that, on any call, is free and prompt of itself to discharge it, 1 Peter 5. 2.

And this spirit of love, and zeal, and power, which is the principle of their ministrations, stands not upon strict terms: but, being full of care for Christ, and for the good of souls, and fearless of what may thereby befall our selves, doth more or less, according as its measure and degree is. St. Paul, had a great measure thereof, and according to the degree of its working in him mightily, he laboured and strove earnestly in the work of the ministry, that he might present every man perfect in Christ, Col. 1: 28, 29. He disputed not nicely, how far he was bound; but would readily go beyond the strict terms: counting, whatever were the over-plus, that it was to be expected from this principle of love and zeal in his master's cause, and would abundantly be made up by a surpassing recompense. If I do this thing willingly, or beyond strict command or necessity, says he, speaking of some things in the course of his ministration which he was not strictly bound to, I have a special reward for so doing, 1 Corinthians 9. 15, 17. And proportionable to the degree, of this love and zeal in others, will the measure of their service and ministrations be likewise. They will still in any places, be more active to keep up the catholic faith and worship; according as they are more perfect, in this ministerial or pastoral spirit.

And thus, at length, I think it may fully appear, that Christ's faithful ministers are on many accounts obliged not to suppress their ministrations, but to supply the church therewith, when that is necessary to prevent a people's being nursed up in irreligious and destructive ways, like as are, not only idolatry and speculative heresies, but also, immoral doctrines and practices, and immoral worship and devotions. And therefore should those things prove immoralities, which, on any revolution, happen to be justified in any kingdom, and are every where pressed and recommended to the people's practice, and are salved by the foresaid or such like new doctrines, and are brought into prayers, and public offices and devotions in those countries: the deprived bishops and clergy in that state, would be under all these obligations to exercise their functions, and to minister to the church in those cases.

And this would absolutely set aside the argument, from the forecited sayings of Clemens, and Dionysius, and Chrysostom, and Nazianzen, for the cessation of rightful bishops to the intruding anti-bishops. For these cessations, are in a cause that concerns only personal rights, not that touches the interests of religion, or the salvation of souls. And without examining the truth of the particular histories, wherein are errors enough as others have made appear; it will also effectually put by all the force of the Greek manuscript in the public library at Oxford; or of the collection of instances of injured bishops resting under unjust deprivations, and keeping in the communion of the new intruders into their places, lately translated by Mr. Hody. For those instances of acquiescence and communion, are brought, as the author of the manuscript several times professes, for instances thereof, only whilst the intruders were orthodox. And so, are no instances for acquiescence, in the cause and oppression of pure worship and doctrine, or of the interest of souls: but only in competition of persons, where the public offices to be administered, the doctrines to be taught and upheld, and the practices to be pressed and justified under them, were the same under both.

And therefore there can be no pressing silence, or cessation, on the deprived bishops and clergy at such times, with any appearance of truth and reason, but by clearing those things which they stick at, and which they see everywhere imposed on worship and practice, of all immorality and unrighteousness. Which, on such revolutions and change of masters, they can never do, who profess to transfer allegiance, and to do all on the plea of a king de facto, leaving the dispossessed prince to be still king de jure. By which, in their own account, they are acting all the while against right, and against him that has it; which is to be, as St. Paul says of stubborn heretics convict of their own consciences, or self-condemned (Titus 3: 10, 11). So that all those brethren, who on such occasions, have professed this, must condemn their own principle, and all the compliance they have paid thereupon, before they can accuse the deprived pastors for holding on still in their spiritual administrations, or can persuade them to forbear, but that which alone can be effective to purge the things in debate, of this immorality and unrighteousness, is the clearing of the legal right, (which the public acts of such times, I think are not wanting to assert,) as the ground of all that is then called for, either in practice, or in worship. And the discussion of this, is no part of my design or purpose in these papers.

To conclude this point, of their obligations to these ministrations, I only add in the last place, that if, for keeping up pure worship, doctrine, and practice, Christ's faithful pastors are bound to afford these ministrations in the forementioned cases, his faithful people will in the same cases stand bound to adhere to them, and to attend on them for participation thereof.

This obligation will appear,

1. From that adherence they owe to the things themselves. They are bound to purity of worship, belief, and practice, that they may propitiate and please God, and benefit their own souls thereby. As Christians, or as men professing Christian religion, they are obliged to unite themselves to these, and to stick by them. And that, in church society and under pastoral administrations, to keep up a communion of saints in such pure worship and professions. And this must be under such bishops and ministers, as retain and stand true to them, when others fall off from them.

As members of a church, it is true, good Christians stand obliged to adhere to their own bishops. For the bishops, are the heads of church-societies; and it is the duty of members, to stick and keep united to the heads of their respective bodies. But this, as I shall show hereafter, is only whilst they keep to those things, wherein they are bound to head them, that is, to pure Christian worship and doctrines. It is for the having these administered, that they are obliged to be under any pastors, or to adhere to them. And so they must still adhere to such, as do administer the same. Which, if their own bishops fail to do, they are to stand off from them, to hold on with such pure worship and doctrine, and to have the administration thereof from such other bishops and pastors, as keep true and firm thereto, whereof I shall speak more at large, in its proper place.

2. From the duty on their part, in all the foresaid relations. For those relations, carry duties on both sides, and call, as the true pastors to feed and minister to the church; so all true members of the church, to seek their food from the ministrations of such true pastors. As it is the part and office of the one, to administer them: so is it of the other, to attend on their administration, for participation thereof. If they are Christ's true shepherds, to whom should his sheep adhere, but to his shepherds, and know and hear their voice, and not give ear to the call and voice of strangers? John 10: 3, 4, 5. If they are the faithful guides of souls, to whose ministerial conduct and direction, should the people of God commit their souls, but to theirs, who will lead them out, and carry them on, only in safe and right ways? If they are the trusty watchmen, under whose watch and guard, should men, who seek nothing but to save their souls, place themselves, but under those, whose eyes are always open to see, and their voice lift up faithfully to admonish and warn them of their dangers? If they are the true teachers, to whom should the scholars and disciples of Christ resort for instruction, but to them, and attend, as obedient learners, on their preaching and exhortation? If they are Christ's faithful ministers, his people must keep close to their ministrations, and adhere to them, as to his trusty officers and representatives here on earth. And if they are to be fed with the ministration of holy worship and doctrines, and to be instructed and bore up, only in righteous and good practices; if they must take care, to be warned and guided, taught and helped on, only in these things, which are the things alone, that are fit to please God, and to save their precious souls: to whom must they cleave, and keep united for them all, but to those shepherds, who daily provide them with this food; and to those guides, who conduct them in these ways; and to those watchmen, who fail not to give them these warnings; and to those teachers, who entertain them with these lessons; and to those ministers, who constantly supply them with these administrations. So that view the pastoral function in all its parts, and scan all the characters thereof, and in each, they will see enough to show them their own duty, as well as their ministers. And how, as these stand bound to lead, so they themselves do follow; as the priests are to administer, so are the people duly to attend on them, and to stick to their ministrations, in the foresaid cases.

3. From the contrary carriage, which they are required to shew towards all, who call them to any Pollutions, or Breach thereof. Such as call the people from moral doctrines and worship, to immoralities in both; and from good and righteous, to wicked and unrighteous practices; the scripture calls or comprehends under the title of deceivers, and seducers, and wolves, and makers of divisions, and false-prophets and false-teachers, and the like. Now tis the part of good Christians, not to associate themselves with deceivers, but to stand off from them; not to follow seducers, but to beware of them; not to run after the wolves, (which were to show themselves silly sheep indeed, and prepared for destruction,) but to run away from them; not to give ear to false-teachers, and false-prophets, but to keep out of their hearing, and shut their ears against them, and lastly, not to strike in with those that cause divisions, but to avoid them, as St. Paul teaches, and as the rules of the church have still required faithful Christians to do, by the makers of schism. Bid him not God speed, nor receive the bringer of false doctrine into your houses, 2 John 10, 11. Beware of false prophets, as of ravening wolves (Mat. 7: 15). Keep not company with disorderly walkers, who adhere not to the tradition they received of us, 2 Thess. 3. 6, 14. Mark them, which cause divisions and offences; in breaking off, and going contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them (Romans 16: 17). These, and such like, are the scripture rules in these cases: which call the servants of Christ, to withdraw themselves from those, who have first separated and withdrawn themselves from his worship and doctrines; and, instead of them, to adhere to others, who, as his true ministers and faithful pastors, stick true to the same, and administer them pure and uncorrupt to his church; whereof I shall give a further account afterwards.

Project Canterbury