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as feeling one pulse, or giving the least order to any skilful apothecary, should dismiss them from time to time, some groaning, some languishing, some expiring, with this only charge, to look well to themselves, and do as they hear. Of what excellence and necessity then church-discipline is, how beyond the faculty of man to frame, and how dangerous to be left to man's invention, who would be every foot turning it to sinister ends; how properly also it is the work of God as father, and of Christ as husband, of the church, we have by thus much heard.
That Church Government is set down in Holy Scripture; and that to say otherwise is untrue.
As therefore it is unsound to say, that God hath not appointed any set government in his church, so it is untrue. Of the time of the law there can be no doubt; for to let pass the first institution of priests and Levites, which is too clear to be insisted upon, when the temple came to be built, which in plain judgment could breed no essential change, either in religion, or in the priestly government; yet God, to shew how little he could endure that men should be tampering and contriving in his worship, though in things of less regard, gave to David for Solomon not only a pattern and model of the temple, but a direction for the courses of the priests and Levites, and for all the work of their service. At the return from the captivity things were only restored after the ordinance of Moses and David; or if the least alteration be to be found, they had with them inspired men, prophets; and it were not sober to say they did aught of moment without divine intimation. In the prophecy of Ezekiel, from the 40th chapter onward, after the destruction of the temple, God, by his prophet, seeking to wean the hearts of the Jews from their old law, to expect a new and more perfect reformation under Christ, sets out before their eyes the stately fabric and constitution of his church, with all the ecclesiastical functions appertaining: indeed the description is, as sorted best to the apprehension of those times, typical and shadowy, but in such manuer as never yet came to pass, nor
ever must literally, unless we mean to annihilate the gospel. But so exquisite and lively the description is in portraying the new state of the church, and especially in those points where government seems to be most active, that both Jews and Gentiles might have good cause to be assured, that God, whenever he meant to reform the church, never intended to leave the government thereof, delineated here in such curious architecture, to be patched afterwards, and varnished over with the devices and embellishings of inan's imagination.* Did God take such delight in measuring out the pillars, arches, and doors of a material temple? Was he so punctual and circumspect in lavers, altars, and sacrifices soon after to be abrogated, lest any of these should have been made contrary to his mind? Is not a far more perfect work, more agreeable to his perfections in the most perfect state of the church militant, the new alliance of God to man? Should not he rather now by his own prescribed discipline have cast his line and level upon the soul of man, which is his rational temple, and, by the divine square and compass thereof, form and regenerate in us the lovely shapes of virtues and graces, the sooner to edify and accomplish that immortal stature of Christ's body, which is his church, in all her glorious lineaments and proportions? And that this indeed God hath done for us in the gospel we shall see with open eyes, not under a veil. We may pass over the history of the Acts and other places, turning only to those epistles of St. Paul to Timothy and Titus; where the spiritual eye may discern more goodly and gracefully erected, than all the magnificence of temple or tabernacle, such a heavenly structure of evangelical discipline, so diffusive of knowledge and charity to the prosperous increase and growth of the church, that it cannot be wondered if that elegant and artful symmetry of the promised new temple in Ezekiel, and all those sumptuous things under the law, were made to signify the inward beauty and splendour of the
It is surprising Milton should have taken this view of the matter, since every section of the Christian church has a different form of governTo contend for uniformity in this matter, would be to re-establish the papacy; for without the infallibility of the pope there is obviously no deciding what form of church government is prescribed in the gospel. Simply, in my opinion, because no form of church government is there prescribed. ED.
Christian church thus governed. And whether this be coinmanded, let it now be judged. St. Paul, after his preface to the first of Timothy, which he concludes in the 17th verse with Amen, enters upon the subject of this epistle, which is to establish the church government, with a command: "This charge I commit to thee, son Timothy; according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare." Which is plain enough thus expounded: This charge I commit to thee, wherein I now go about to instruct thee how thou shalt set up church discipline, that thou mightest war a good warfare, bearing thyself constantly and faithfully in the ministry, which, in the first to the Corinthians, is also called a warfare; and so after a kind of parenthesis concerning Hymenæus, he returns to his command, though under the mild word of exhorting, chap. ii. ver. 1," I exhort therefore;" as if he had interrupted his former command by the occasional mention of Hymenæus. More beneath in the 14th verse of the third chapter, when he had delivered the duties of bishops or presbyters, and deacons, not once naming any other order in the church, he thus adds; "These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly; (such necessity it seems there was ;) but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God." From this place it may be justly asked, whether Timothy by this here written, might know what was to be known concerning the orders of church governors or no? If he might, then, in such a clear text as this, may we know too without further jangle; if he might not, then did St. Paul write insufficiently, and moreover said not true, for he saith here he might know; and 1 persuade myself he did know ere this was written, but that the apostle had more regard to the instruction of us, than to the informing of him. In the fifth chapter, after some other church-precepts concerning discipline, mark what a dreadful command follows, ver. 21: "I charge thee before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things." And as if all were not yet sure enough, he closes up the epistle with an adjuring charge thus: "I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, that thou keep this commandment:" that is, the old commandment concerning dis
cipline, being the main purpose of the epistle: although Hooker would tain have this denouncement referred to the particular precept going before, because the word commandment is in the singular number, not remembering that even in the first chapter of this epistle, the word commandment is used in a plural sense, ver. 5: "Now the end of the commandment is charity;" and what more frequent than in like manner to say the law of Moses? So that either to restrain the significance too much, or too much to enlarge it, would make the adjuration either not so weighty or not so pertinent. And thus we find here that the rules of church discipline are not only commanded, but hedged about with such a terrible impalement of commands, as he that will break through wilfully to violate the least of them, must hazard the wounding of his conscience even unto death. Yet all this notwithstanding, we shall find them broken well nigh all by the fair pretenders even of the next ages. No less to the contempt of him whom they feign to be the archfounder of prelaty, St. Peter, who, by what he writes in the fifth chapter of his first epistle, should seem to be far another man than tradition reports him: there he commits to the presbyters only full authority both of feeding the flock and episcopating; and commands that obedience be given to them as to the mighty hand of God, which is his mighty ordinance. Yet all this was as nothing to repel the venturous boldness of innovation that ensued, changing the decrees of God that are immutable, as if they had been breathed by man. Nevertheless when Christ by these visions of St. John, foreshews the reformation of his church, he bids him take his reed, and mete it out again after the first pattern, for he prescribes no other. "Arise," said the angel, “and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.' What is there in the world can measure men but discipline? Our word ruling imports no less. Doctrine indeed is the measure, or at least the reason of the measure, it is true; but unless the measure be applied to that which it is to measure, how can it actually do its proper work? Whether therefore discipline be all one with doctrine, or the particular application thereof to this or that person, we all agree that doctrine must be such only as is commanded; or whether it be something really differing from
doctrine, yet was it only of God's appointment, as being the most adequate measure of the church and her children, which is here the office of a great evangelist, and the reed given him from heaven. But that part of the temple which is not thus measured, so far is it from being in God's tuition or delight, that in the following verse he rejects it; however in shew and visibility it may seem a part of his church, yet inasmuch as it lies thus unmeasured, he leaves it to be trampled by the Gentiles, that is to be polluted with idolatrous and gentilish rites and ceremonies. And that the principal reformation here foretold is already come to pass, as well in discipline as in doctrine, the state of our neighbour churches afford us to behold. Thus, through all the periods and changes of the church, it hath been proved, that God hath still reserved to himself the right of enacting church government.
That it is dangerous and unworthy the Gospel, to hold that Church Government is to be patterned by the Law, as Bishop Andrews and the Primate of Armagh maintain.
WE may return now from this interposing difficulty thus removed, to affirm, that since church government is so strictly commanded in God's word, the first and greatest reason why we should submit thereto is, because God hath so commanded. But whether of these two, prelaty or presbytery, can prove itself to be supported by this first and greatest reason, must be the next dispute; wherein this position is to be first laid down, as granted, that I may not follow a chase rather than an argument, that one of these two, and none other, is of God's ordaining; and if it be, that ordinance must be evident in the gospel. For the imperfect and obscure institution of the law, which the apostles themselves doubt not ofttimes to vilify, cannot give rules to the complete and glorious ministration of the gospel, which looks on the law as on a child, not as on a tutor. And that the prelates have no sure foundation in the gospel, their own guiltiness doth manifest; they would not else run questing up as high as Adam to fetch their original, as it is said one of 2 a