Obrazy na stronie

the Jews, were very familiarly conversed with by Christ and his apostles; with whom they frequently eat and drank, and Christ is called a friend of such; whereas, with an excommunicate person, it was not allowed to eat, nor indeed to have any familiar conversation with them, as little as possible. Moreover, the words are not a rule to the church, how that was to proceed towards a person who behaved in the manner described; for it is not said, If he neglect to hear the church, let him be to the church as an heathen man and a publican; but it is a rule to the offended person how he should behave to the offender, under such circumstances; Let him be to thee, &c. and the design of the whole is to justify the offended party, that when he has taken all the steps directed to; as to reprove the offending party privately, and then with two or more, who would be witnesses of his obstinacy, and then lay the whole affair before the church or congregation, which, with the Jews, never consisted of less than ten persons; so that he would be abundantly vindicated in behaving towards such a man as in a worthless neighbour, as the Jews used to call such, and to look upon himself as freed from all brotherly and neighbourly offices towards him.

11. Nor is excommunication expressed by the delivery of a man to Satan; for though that sometimes accompanied excommunication, yet they are very different and distinct things; the delivery of the incestuous person to Satan was the apostle's own act and deed; I verily, says the apostle, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged, or determined within myself, already, concerning him that hath done this deed, committed the incest before mentioned, to deliver such an one unto Satan, 1 Cor. v. 3, 5. for the fourth verse is to be read in a parenthesis, and the third and fifth connected together; which shews it to be a pure act of the apostle; as the like is elsewhere asserted by him, concerning Hymeneus and Alexander; Whom, says he, I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme, 1 Tim. i. 20. whereas, excommunication is called a punishment, or censure inflicted by many, on the incestuous person; whom the church at Corinth were directed to purge themselves from, and to put away from among them, that wicked person; by which the excommunication of him from them as a church is expressed, verse 7, 13. see 2 Cor. ii. 6. as a distinct thing from the delivery of him to Satan; which was a miraculous action, as appears from verse 4. included in a parenthesis; in the name of our Lord Jesus; a way of speaking when a miracle was performing; see Acts iii. 6. when ye are gathered together, not to perform this miraculous action, but to be witnesses of it, and my spirit; for though in body he was absent from them, yet his spirit would be with them, to perform the mi raculous operation; as the heart or spirit of Elisha was with Gehazi in a wonderful manner, when the man turned again to him from his chariot to meet him, 2 Kings v. 26. the apostle adds, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to which all miraculous operations are to be ascribed, and so this; for it never was used, nor never ought to he, as a form of excommunication; it


was not in the primitive churches; nay, it was cautioned against by the ancients, in one of their synods; nor never was, until excommunication was used as an engine of the church's, or rather of the priest's power to terrify and. distress; this was only used in the apostles time, and then ceased; it was the apostolic rod, with which they sometimes sinote wicked persons with death; as Ananias and Sapphira were smitten by Peter; and Elymas the sorcerer with blindness, by the apostle Paul; and others with diseases of body, and with violent agitations of it, and with terrors of mind; and it is remarkable that the words of the Lord concerning Job; Behold, he is in thine hand, are rendered in the Septuagint version, Behold, I deliver him unto thee; that is, to smite him with boils, Job ii. 6. and such a corporal punishment, or temporal chastisement, cannot be reckoned a severity, as inflicted on the incestuous person; for excommunication was too mild a punishment for him, who had been guilty of a crime not to be named among the Gentiles; as to have his father's wife! which was death, or cutting off by the hand of heaven, according to the law of Moses, Dev. xviii. and so the blasphemy of Hymeneus and Alexander, by the same law, was deserving of death. It is commonly said, that this delivery of á man to Satan, is only a re-delivery of him into the kingdom of Satan, the world, out of which he was taken; and so is only a putting him in statu quo; but this is to allow the world to be the kingdom of Satan; whereas he has no true and proper right to it; it is only his by usurpation; the world is the Lord's: nor is it fact, that when a man is received into a church, he is received out of the world; for it is supposed by the church, that he is previously called by the grace of God out of it; and is by faith a partaker of Christ, and of the blessings of his grace, and is a member of the invisible church; and very often so it is, that when a person is dealt with by a church for sin; which, for the honour of Christ and his gospel, they are obliged to do, yet at the same time they cannot but hope, that he is not a man of the world, but a partaker of the grace of God; and therefore do not account him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

III. The passage in Tit. iii. 10. A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject; is usually thought, and so has been by myself, to be a rule for the ejection or casting out of church-communion, a person so described ; but not only the word used, is never used of excommunication, nor indeed any other word in the singular number; it is not said, reject ye, but reject thon's (Пapaire) and so is no direction to a church, but to a single person: now let Titus be who he may, an extraordinary person, an evangelist, as he seems to be, or a bishop of Crete, as the subscription of the epistle suggests, which is not to be depended upon, or an ordinary pastor and elder of a church, which is not probable; but be he what he may, an extraordinary or ordinary minister, he had no power nor right of himself to reject or eject any person from churchcommunion; this would be to act the part of Diotrephes, who cast out the






brethren, condemned by the apostle John; and the apostle Paul would never have advised Titus to act a part so unjustifiable; besides, could such a sense of the text be established, it would prove what the papists, prelates, and presbyterians produce it for, namely, that the power of excommunication lies in the hands of a bishop, or prelate, or presbyter, elder or pastor of a church, and not in the church itself; and it would not be easy to rescue such a proof out of their hands; whereas, not single persons, but churches, are always addressed and exhorted to perform the act of excommunication on persons deserving of it; Nor were admonitions ever directed to be given to persons deserving of excommunication; in cases of private offences, admonitions were to be given; and so long as an affair lies between a person and a church, respecting either doctrine or practice, and is not known to the world and other churches, admonitions may be given and repeated as long as there are any hopes of good being done by them; but in case of atrocious public crimes, and notorious heresies, subversive of the fundamental doctrines of christianity, no time should be lost, or trifled away with admonitions; but for the honour of Christ, the credit of religion, and for the removal of the odium brought on christianity, such a person should be removed from communion at once; nay, even, as some think, though he may seem to have some sense of his evil, and repentance for it. We have but one instance of excommunication from a christian church in the whole New Testament, and that is of the incestuous person; and we are sure he had no admonitions from the church before the apostle had heard of the affair; so far were they from it, that they were puffed up, when they should rather have mourned, that he that had done the deed might be taken away from them; and we are sure he had none afterwards, for the apostle immediately orders the excommunication of him. And though there are orders given to several of the churches, as before observed, for the excommunication of such and such persons, yet no directions given for the admonition of any of them, previous to their ejection: sometimes admonition is directed to be given after a person is withdrawn from, when it is not on account of any notorious crime, of a public and scandalous nature; but idleness, an unwillingness to work; and such an one cannot be looked upon as an enemy to Christ and his gospel, and may be admonished as one who had been a brother, and it may be hoped will be restored again, 2 Thess. iii. 14, 15. The case of Titus was a personal one, and respects a man he had been in connection with, or supposed to have been, and now fallen into heresy; when, having reproved him again and again, and endeavoured to convince him of his error, but to no purpose; he is then directed to have nothing more to say unto him or to do with him, to have no society with him, nor admit him to a familiar conversation with him, lest he should be hardened in his error, and weak christians should be stumbled. Much such advice is given by the apostle John to private christians, not to receive such persons into their houses, nor wish them God speed, 2 John verse 10.



But though the above passages are not proper and pertinent to churchdiscipline; yet there are rules and directions which do belong to it, and are to be observed with respect unto it: and as I have considered the materials, the form and fashion of the house or church of God, both as essential and as organized; I shall now proceed to consider the rules of admission into it, or the comings in thereof, and the laws and ordinances to be observed by those who are in it, and the rules concerning the goings out of it, whether by dismission or excommunication.

I. The rules concerning the comings in, or admission of members into a gospel-church.

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1. The doors of it are not to be set wide open for any one to come in at pleasure; but porters were set at the gates of the house of the Lord, that no unclean person should enter in; and in Ezekiel's temple, a figure of the gospel church in the latter-day, orders are given, that no stranger, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, should enter into the sanctuary of the Lord; no materials were admitted to be laid in Solomon's temple, but what were hewn and squared before brought thither. 2. Persons should voluntarily propose themselves to the church for communion with it; for this should be a free act of their own, and not by the force of persuasion of others; or they should he proposed by the minister or elder, with whom a previous conversation should be had, and an enquiry made of their experience and knowledge of divine things; so Saul, when converted, essayed to join himself to the disciples; that is, he tried, he attempted, he proposed himself to them, to become a member of them, and to have communion with them, as one of them, Acts ix. 26.3. In order to admission to communion, satisfaction must be given as to a work of grace upon the soul; when Saul desired communion with the church, they were all affraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple; a real converted person, a true believer in Carist, because he had been so lately a persecutor of the saints; until it was declared to them, how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how boldly he had preached in his name; and then he was admitted, and was with them coming in and going out: and it is but fit and proper that such shou'd give a reason of the hope that is in them, to the satisfaction of those with whom they desire to walk in fellowship; it was an early practice of the saints, who tell one another what God hath done for their souls, the poor man whom Christ had dispossessed of a legion of devils, was bid to go home to his friends, and tell them how great things the Lord had done for him, and had had compassion on him; and this is best done by a man himself, than by the report of others; and better by a verbal declaration than by writing; for though the former may be made in a broken manner, yet it may best discover the true affection of the heart, and the savouriness of a man's spirit, and tend more to knit and unite the hearts of the Lord's people to him.-4. The way of entrance into a church is by a profession of faith in Christ; for as with the heart man believes unto righteousness, so with the mouth confession is made unto salvation;







the church is the sheepfold, and Christ is the door into it; and whoever climbs up another way than by faith in him, and profession of it, is a thief and a robber. The three thousand converts first professed repentance of their sins, faith in Christ for the remission of them, and their joyful reception of the gospel, and then were baptized and added to the church. 5. It is necessary that such who enter into a church-state, should have a knowledge of the truths of the gospel, and confess them, and not be ashamed of Christ, and his words, before men; their soundness in the doctrine of faith should be inquired into, and this be testified by their assent to the articles of faith held and maintained by the church; Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in, Isai. xxvi. 1. 6. Allowances should be made for weaknesses and infirmities. of men, both in their gracious experiences, and in their gospel-light and knowledge; the day of small things is not to be despised; the bruised reed is not to be broken, nor the smoking flax to be quenched; the tender lambs are gathered into Christ's arms, and carried in his bosom; the weak in faith are to be received, and not to doubtful disputations. —7. Testimony should be given of their becoming life and conversation; when the disciples demurred upon receiving Saul, because of his former conduct and behaviour, Barnabas informed them of the change that was in him, and that of a violent persecutor, he was become a bold and zealous preacher of the gospel, they gladly received him.-8. The recep tion of a member into church-communion must be by mutual consent; the person received must give up him or herself to walk with the church in holy fellowship; and the church must readily receive such in the Lord; it must be a voluntary act on both sides; and if there is a pastor, the person must be received by him, in the name and with the consent of the church; and if not, by a brother appointed by the church for that purpose, the token of which is by giving the right-hand of fellowship, Gal. ii. 9. I proceed,

II. To consider the ordinances, laws, and rules to be kept and observed by those who are admitted into the church.

1. There are ordinances they are directed to the observation of. Shew them all the ordinances of the house, that they may do them; so Christ ordered his disciples to teach those they baptized to observe all things whatsoever he com manded them. Besides the ordinance of baptism, which is preparatory to church-communion, there are the ordinances of public prayer and praise, and the public ministry of the word, which are constantly to be atttended on; and it is very unbecoming members of churches to forsake the assembling of them. selves together for public worship: it is observed, to the honour of the primitive christians, that they continued stedfastly in the apostles doctrine, in a constant attendance on the ministration of it; and in holy fellowship with one another; and in prayer, in public prayers put up to God by the minister, as the mouth of the church; and particularly in breaking of bread, or in the ordinance of the Lord's supper, which is to be frequently administered; As often as ye eat this bread, &c. which shews it is to be often done; and as often as it is, it should

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