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with the Jews in some of their rites; which makes against liberty of various practices in the church of Christ, and not for indulging them. That instance about the difference of Christians as to meats, &c. has nothing in it to the end for which it is alledged; for this related not to church-order or communion, but private and personal freedoms, what each might do with respect to themselves; that is, they might make laws to themselves, in things that only concerned private persons, and it centered there ; e.g. "What I will eats i when I will eat,' things to myself, and for myself, as a man having power over my own appetité: the liberty in things private, personal, and indifferent, makes nothing for dissenting about church matters in things of communion and society, and that also are not indifferent, (as to eat fish, or eat flesh, or eat berbs, plainly is) but necessary; as to be careful and orderly about the external business of the church: these are no Jewish rites, nor shadowy ceremonies; no meats nor drinks that are private and personal, where weakness is apt to mistake (that were an una necessary and an unchristian yoke to bear) but things comely, orderly, and of good report, that tend to purity, peace and diligence in things acceptable to God, and requisite among his people in their temporal and christian capacity. And herein the apostle Paul exercised his godly authority ; ( and we find that not only those that opposed themselves to it, as thinking he took too much upon him, demanded a mark of Christ's speaking in him, but are in scripture branded with si contention.” But the true believers, that had in themselves a mark of Christ's speaking in him, were of one mind, and avoided such as were given to contention ; for it was not the custom of the churches of Christ. Thus were Christ's people of one beart, in things relating to their communion. Yet a little farther, they that have the mind of Christ, are of one mind; for Christ is not divided : they that have Christ for their head, have one counsellor and prophet, one seer and bishop, they disagree not in their judgments in things relating to him, and the good of his church ; they have one and the same guide; for the one fpirit, into which they have all drank, and by it are baptized into one body, leads them all. Now to every member is a “ measure of the same spirit given to o profit with ;” and though every member is not an eye, nor an ear, nor a mouth, yet every member hath unity with the eye, with the ear, with the mouth, in their proper and respective acts, and they one with the other: the eye fees for the mouth; the mouth speaks for the eye; and the ear hears for both: this variety hath no discord; but in this diversity of gifts and offices, each member is sensible of the other, and moves and acts by one and the same life, spirit, and guidance, which is omnipresent, proportionable to every member in its distinct office. It must be granted, that there are helps in the church, as well as that there is a church at all; and the Holy Ghost has compared those helps (as is before-mentioned) to several members and senses of man's body, as an eye, an hand, a foot, bearing, smelling, &c. All then cannot be the eye, neither can all be the hand, for then they would confound their office, and act disagreeably to the ordination of the great orderer of his church. And if I will not comply with him that God hath made an eye, because I am not that eye, or an hand, because I am not that member myself, nor a party to the action or performance of that member, I resist the Lord, though under pretence of resisting man for the Lord's fake. And truly, this is the rock that some of our own time, as well as persons of former ages, have split upon; they have not been contented with their own station in the body, they have not kept to their own gift, nor been taken up with the duty of their own place in the church. If he that is a foot would be an hand, and the hand covets to be an eye, envying others their allotted station, through height of mind, and walking loose from the holy cross, there can be no such thing as concord and fellowship in the church of Christ.
Farthermore, since the spirit of the Lord is one in all, it ought to be obeyed through another, as well as in one's self: and this I affirm to you, that the same lowly frame of mind that receives and answers the mind of the spirit of the Lord in a man's self, will receive and have unity with the mind of the same fpirit through another : and the reason is plain; because the same self-evidencing power and virtue that ariseth from the measure of the spirit of truth in one's self, and that convinceth a man in his own heart, doth also attend the discovery of the mind of the same fpirit, when delivered by another; for the words of the “ Second Adam, the quickening spio rit,” through another, are spirit and life, as well as in thy own particular: this is difcerned by the spiritual man that judgeth all things, although the carnal man pleadeth being left to his freedom; and it may be talks of being left to the Spirit in himself too; the better to escape the sense and judgment of the fpiritual man. It is my earnest delire, that all that have any knowledge of the Lord, would have a tender care how they use that plea against their faithful brethren, that God put into their mouths against the perfecuting priests and hirelings of the world, namely,
I must mind the spirit of God in myself:' for though it be a great truth that all are to be left thereunto, yet it is as true, that he whose soul is left with the spirit of truth in himself, differs not from his brethren that are in the same spirit; and as true it is, that those who err from the spirit of truth, may plead being left to the spirit in themselves, against the motion and command of the spirit through another, when it pleaseth not his or her high mind and perverse will; for a saying may be true or false, according to the subject matter it is spoken upon, or applied to: we own the assertion, wę deny the application : there lies the snare. It is true, the people of God ought to be left to the guidings of the spirit of God in themselves; but for this to be so applied, as to disregard the preachings or writings of Christ's enlightened fervants,
because by them applied properly to the preaching or writing of false prophets and seducers, will by no means follow. I say the doctrine is true, but not exclusively of all external counsel or direction; therefore false in application, where men are allowed to have had the fear of God, and the mind of his spirit, and are not proved to have acted in their own wills and wisdom, or without the guidance of the spirit of God, about the things of his church and kingdom.
Qu. But though this be true, which hath been alleged for heavenly concord, yet what if I do not presently see that service in a thing, that the rest of my brethren agree in? In this case, what is my duty and theirs ?
Answ. It is thy duty to wait upon God in silence and patience, out of all fleshly consultations; and as thou abidest in the simplicity of the truth, thou wilt receive an understanding with the rest of thy brethren, about the thing doubted. And it is their duty, whilst thou behavest thyself in meekness and humility, to bear with thee, and carry themselves tenderly and loving towards thee : but if, on the contrary, thou difturbest their godly care and practice, and growest contentious, and exaltest thy judgment against them, they have power from God to exhort, admonish, and reprove thee; and (if thou perseverest therein) in his name to refuse any farther fellowship with thee, till thou repentest of thy evil.
Qu. But, lest I should mistake, when thou speak -est of true liberty, that it stands in being made free by the truth from all unrighteousness, dost thou mean, that no other persons ought to have the liberty of exercising their dissenting consciences, but that force may be lawful to reduce such as are reputed erroneously conscientious ?
Answ. By no means: it were a great wickedness against God, who is Lord of the souls and spirits of men, and ought to preside in all consciences, who, as che apostle faith, “ Is the only potentate, and hath " immortality," For though I give the true liberty
of soul and conscience to those only that are set free by the power of Christ, from the bondage of sin, and captivity of death, yet do I not intend that any person or persons should be in the least harined for the external exercise of their diffenting consciences in worship to God, though erroneous: for though their consciences be blind, yet they are not to be forced; such compulsion giveth no sight, neither do corporal punishments produce conviction: this we, above all people, in our day, have withstood, in speaking, writing, and suffering; and, blessed be God, conti. nue so to do with faithfulness. For faith is the gift of God, and forced sacrifices are not pleasing to the Lord.
Qu. But according to thy argument, it may be my fault, that I have not the gift of faith ; and upon this . presumption, it may be, thou wilt inflict some temporal penalties upon me.
Answ. No such matter; for such kind of faults are not to be punished with temporal or worldly penalties; for whether the errors be through weakness or wilfulness, not relating to moral practice, all external coercion and corporal punishment is excluded. « For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but « spiritual.”
Qu. But what then is the extent of the power of the church of Christ, in case of schism or herefy ?
Answ. The power that Christ gave to his church was this, "That offenders, after the first and second admonition, (not repenting) should be rejected :' not imprisoned, plundered, banished, or put to death; this belongs to the whore and false prophet: 0 ! all these things have come to pass for want of humility, for want of the ancient fear, and keeping in the quiet habitation of the just: the truth in you all shall answer me. And this I affirm, from the understanding I have received of God, not only that the enemy is at work to scatter the minds of friends, by that loose plea, “What hast thou to do with me? Leave me to į my freedom, and to the grace of God in myself,'