<180>

CHAPTER XXXI.
OF PARTICULAR CHURCHES.

THUS far of the universal visible church. A particular church is a society of persons professing the faith, united by a special bond of brotherhood, and so ordered as may best promote the ends of edification and mutual communion of the saints. Acts ii. 42. "they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."

The ordinary ministers of a particular church are presbyters and deacons.

Presbyters are otherwise called Bishops.[1] Acts xx. 17. compared with v. 28. "he called the elders (πρεσβυτέρους) of the church: take heed therefore unto yourselves and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, (ἐπισκόπου) to feed the church of God." The same office of bishop <181> or presbyter is described 1 Tim. iii. 1, &c. where no mention is made of any other minister except deacon.[2] Philipp. i. 1. "with the bishops and deacons." Tit. i. 5. "that thou shouldest ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee," compared with v. 7. "a bishop must be blameless." 1 Pet. v. 1. "the elders which are among you I exhort... feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight there of," that is, performing the office of bishops. Lastly, in the first council of the church, held at Jerusalem, the apostles and elders alone are spoken of as present, no mention being made of bishops, Acts xv. 6. xvi. 4. bishops and presbyters must therefore have been the same.

Of the presbyters, some were set apart for the office of teaching, others watched over the discipline of the church, while in particular instances both these functions were united. 1 Tim. iii. 2. "apt to teach." v. 5. "if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" v. 17. "let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine." Rom. xii. 7, 8. "he that teacheth, on teaching... he that ruleth, with diligence." 1 Cor. xii. 28. "governments," 1 Pet. v. 1. as above. Hence a bishop or presbyter is called "the steward of God," Tit. i. 7.

The office of a deacon is properly to administer, in the character of a public servant, to the temporal <182> wants of the church in general, and particularly of the poor, the sick, and strangers. Acts vi. 3. "look ye out among you... whom we may appoint over this business," 1 Tim. iii. 10. "let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless." v. 13. "they that have used the office of a deacon well." Also to teach and baptize; as appears from the example of Philip, who in his capacity of deacon (the apostle of that name having remained during the same period at Jerusalem) converted the people of Samaria to the faith, and on his own authority baptized, first his new converts, and afterwards the Ethiopian eunuch. Acts vi. 5. viii. 1, 12. "when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women." v. 38. "he baptized him." In allusion to this his office of preaching he is called "the evangelist," Acts xxi. 8. where his identity is established by his being designated as one of the seven. Hence 1 Tim. iii. 13. "they that have used the office of a deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus."

The widows of the church are also associated with the deacons in the performance of their duty, 1 Tim. v. 3-16. "honour widows that are widows indeed," &c.

The choice of ministers belongs to the people[3]. Acts i. 23. "they appointed two." vi. 5. "the saying pleased the whole multitude, and they chose Stephen." <183> xiv. 23. "when they had ordained them elders in every church." xv. 22. "then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas."

It is proper that ministers should undergo a certain trial previous to their admission. 1 Tim. iii. 10. "let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless." The requisite qualifications of an elder, as well as of a deacon, are detailed at length in the epistles to Timothy and Titus, and particularly 1 Tim. iii. 1, &c. Tit. i. 5, &c.

On such as were approved the presbyters laid their hands. 1 Tim. iv. 14. "neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery." v. 22. "lay hands suddenly on no man." The imposition of hands, however, was not confined to the election of presbyters, but was practised even towards veteran ministers, in the way of solemn benediction, on their engaging in any work of importance. Acts xiii. 2, 3. "as they ministered unto the Lord... when they had fasted and prayed and laid hands upon them, they sent them away."

The right of succession is consequently nugatory, and of no force.[4] Acts xx. 29, 30. "I know this <184> that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock: also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." 2 Cor. xi. 13. "such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ."

With regard to the remuneration to be allotted to the ministers of the universal church, as well as to those of particular religious communities, it must be allowed that a certain recompense is both reasonable in itself, and sanctioned by the law of God and the declarations of Christ and his apostle.[5] Matt. x. 10. "the workman is worthy of his meat." 1 Cor. ix. 7-13. "who goeth a warfare at any time at his own charges?" Gal. vi. 6. "let him that is taught in the word, communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things." 1 Tim. v. 17, 18. "let the elders that rule well," &c. Hence it is lawful and equitable, and the ordinance of God himself, 1 Cor. ix. 14. "that they which preach the gospel, should live of the gospel." It is how ever more desirable for example's sake, and for the preventing of offence or suspicion, as well as more noble and honourable in itself, and conducive to our more complete glorying in God, to render an unpaid service to the church in this as well as in all other instances, and, after the example of our Lord, to minister and serve gratuitously. Matt. xx. 28. "even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister." x. 8. "freely ye have received, <185> freely give." Acts xx. 35. "remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive." Paul proposed the same to the imitation of ministers in general, and recommended it by his example.[6] v. 34, 35. "ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me: I have showed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak." 2 Thess. iii. 7-9. "yourselves know how ye ought to follow us; for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an example unto you to follow us." 1 Cor. ix. 15, 18. "I have used none of these things; neither have I written these things that it should be so done unto me; for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void: what is my reward then? verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel." 2 Cor. xi. 9. "when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man... in all things I have kept myself from being burthensome unto you, and so will I keep myself." v. 10. "no man shall stop me of this boasting." v. 12. "what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them that desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we are." xii. 14. "behold the third time I am ready <186> to come unto you, and I will not be burthensome to you; for I seek not yours but you; for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children." v. 17. "did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you?" v. 18. "did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit?" v. 19. "we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying." And if at any time extreme necessity compelled him to accept the voluntary aid of the churches, such constraint was so grievous to him, that he accuses himself as if he were guilty of robbery. 2 Cor. xi. 8. "I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service."

If however such self-denial be thought too arduous for the ministers of the present day, they will most nearly approach to it, when, relying on the providence of God who called them, they shall look for the necessary support of life, not from the edicts of the civil power, but from the spontaneous good-will and liberality of the church in requital of their voluntary service. Matt. x. 11. "inquire who in it is worthy, and there abide till ye go thence." Luke x. 7, 8. "in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give... and into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you." xxii. 35. "he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? and they said, Nothing." 2 Cor. xi. 9. "that which was lacking to me, the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied." Philipp. iv. 15, &c. "now ye Philippians, know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and re <187> ceiving, but ye only: for even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity: not because I desire a gift, but I desire fruit that may abound to your account: but I have all, and abound; I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God."

For it does not necessarily follow, that because a thing is in itself just, a matter of duty and conscience, and sanctioned by the word of God, the performance of it is therefore to be enjoined and compelled by the authority of the magistrate. The same argument, and nearly the same words, which are used by Paul to prove that provision should be made for the ministers of the church, are also used to prove that the Gentiles ought to contribute to the support of the poor saints at Jerusalem; 1 Cor. ix. 11. compared with Rom. xv. 27. "it hath pleased them verily, and their debtors they are; for if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things;" yet no one contends that the giving of alms should be compelled by authority. If then in a case of merely moral and civil gratitude, force is not to be employed, how much more ought the gratitude which we owe for the benefits of the gospel to be exempt from the slightest shadow of force or constraint? On the same principle, pecuniary considerations ought by no means to enter into our motives for preaching the gospel: Acts viii. 20. "thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money." If it be a crime to purchase the gospel, what must it be to sell it? or what are we to think of the faith of <188> those, whom I have so often heard exclaiming in the language of unbelief, "If you take away church revenues, you destroy the gospel?"[7] If the Christian religion depends for its existence on no firmer supports than wealth and civil power, how is it more worthy of belief than the Mahometan superstition?[8]

Hence to exact or bargain for tithes or other stipendiary payments under the gospel, to extort them from the flock under the alleged authority of civil edicts, or to have recourse to civil actions and legal processes for the recovery of allowances purely ecclesiastical, is the part of wolves rather than of ministers of the gospel.[9] Acts xx. 29. "I know this that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock." v. 33. "I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel;" whence it follows <189> that the apostle neither exacted these things himself, nor approved of their exaction by ministers of the gospel in general. 1 Tim. iii. 3. "not greedy of filthy lucre; not covetous;" far less therefore an exactor of lucre. Compare also v. 8. Tit. i. 7, 11. 1 Pet. v. 2, 3. "feed the flock of God which is among you... not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind." If it be scarcely allowable for a Christian to go to law with his adversary in defence even of his own property, Matt. v. 39, 40. 1 Cor. vi. 7. what are we to think of an ecclesiastic, who for the sake of tithes, that is, of the property of others, which, either as an offering made out of the spoils of war, or in pursuance of a vow voluntarily contracted by an individual, or from an imitation of that agrarian law established among the Jews, but altogether foreign to our habits, and which is not only abolished itself, but of which all the causes have ceased to operate, were due indeed formerly, and to ministers of another sect, but are now due to no one; what are we to think of a pastor, who for the recovery of claims thus founded, (an abuse unknown to any reformed church but our own,)[10] enters into litigation with his own flock, or, more properly speaking, with a flock which is not his own? If his own, how avaricious in him to be so <190> eager in making a gain of his holy office! if not his own, how iniquitous! Moreover what a piece of officiousness, to force his instructions on such as are unwilling to receive them; what extortion, to exact the price of teaching from one who disclaims the teacher, and whom the teacher himself would equally disclaim as a disciple, were it not for the profit![11] For "he that is an hireling, whose own the sheep are not... fleeth beause he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep," John x. 12, 13. Many such there are in these days, who abandon their charge on the slightest pretences, and ramble from flock to flock, less through fear of the wolf than to gratify their own wolfish propensities, wherever a richer prey invites; who, unlike good shepherds, are for ever seeking out new and more abundant pastures, not for their flock, but for themselves.[12]

"How then," ask they, "are we to live?" How ought they to live, but as the prophets and apostles lived of old? on their own private resources, by the exercise of some calling, by honest industry, after the <191> example of the prophets, who accounted it no disgrace to be able to hew their own wood, and build their own houses, 2 Kings vi. 2. of Christ, who wrought with his own hands as a carpenter, Mark vi. 3. and of Paul, Acts xviii. 3. 4. to whom the plea so importunately urged in modern times, of the expensiveness of a liberal education, and the necessity that it should be repaid out of the wages of the gospel, seems never to have occurred.[13] Thus far of the ministers of particular churches.

With regard to the people of the church (especially in those particular churches where discipline is maintained in strictness) such only are to be accounted of that number, as are well taught in Scripture doctrine, and capable of trying by the rule of Scripture and the Spirit any teacher whatever, or even the whole collective body of teachers, although arrogating to themselves the exclusive name of the church.[14] <192> Matt. vii. 15, 16. "beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves: ye shall know them by their fruits." xvi. 6. "take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees," compared with v. 12. "then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine —." John vii. 17, 18. "if any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself: he that speaketh of himself, seeketh his own glory." Acts xvii. 11. "they searched the scriptures daily, whether these things were so." 1 Cor. ii. 15. "he that is spiritual, judgeth all things." x. 15. "I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say." Eph. iv. 14. "that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine." vi. 14, &c. "stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth." Philipp. iii. 2. "beware of dogs; beware of evil workers; beware of the concision." 1 Thess. v. 21. "prove all things; hold fast that which is good." Heb. xiii. 9. "be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines." See more on this subject above, chap. xxi. on the discernment of spiritual things.

<193>

Hence the people are warned not to take delight in vain teachers. 2 Tim. iv. 3. "the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears." 1 Pet. ii. 2. "as new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby." False teachers are not to be tolerated. Rev. ii. 2. "I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil; and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars." v. 7. "he that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."

Every church consisting of the above parts, how ever small its numbers, is to be considered as in itself an integral and perfect church, so far as regards its religious rights; nor has it any superior on earth, whether individual, or assembly, or convention, to whom it can be lawfully required to render submission; inasmuch as no believer out of its pale, nor any order or council of men whatever, has a greater right than itself to expect a participation in the written word and the promises, in the presence of Christ, in the presiding influence of the Spirit, and in those gracious gifts which are the reward of united prayer. Matt. xviii. 20. "where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Acts xiv. 23. "when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed."

Hence all particular churches, whether in Judea, where there was originally one church comprehending <194> the whole nation, or in any other country whatever, are properly called churches: 2 Cor. viii. 1. "the churches of Macedonia;" Gal. i. 2. "the churches of Galatia;" v. 22.; "the churches of Judea"; see also 1 Thess. ii. 14. Rev. i. 4. "the seven churches which are in Asia:" even where they consist of but few members: Rom. xvi. 5. "greet the church that is in their house." See also 1 Cor. xvi. 19. Col. iv. 15. "the church which is in his house." Philem. 2. "the church in thy house."

In this respect a particular church differs from the Jewish synagogue, which, although a particular assembly, and convened for religious purposes, was not a particular church, inasmuch as the entire worship of God could not be there duly celebrated, by reason that the sacrifices and ceremonies of the law were to be performed in the temple alone. Under the gospel, on the contrary, all that pertains to the worship of God and the salvation of believers, all, in short, that is necessary to constitute a church, may be duly and orderly transacted in a particular church, within the walls of a private house, and where the numbers assembled are inconsiderable. Nay, such a church, when in compliance with the interested views of its pastor it allows of an increase of numbers beyond what is convenient, deprives itself in a great measure of the advantages to be derived from meeting in common.

It was indeed necessary for Jews and proselytes to meet together at Jerusalem from all quarters of the world for religious purposes, Acts ii, 5, &c. viii. 27. because at that time there was only one national or universal Jewish church, and no particular churches; <195> whereas at present there is no national church, but a number of particular churches,[15] each complete and perfect in itself,[16] and all co-equal in divine right and power; which, like similar and homogeneous parts of the same body, connected by a bond of mutual equality, form in conjunction one catholic church; nor need any one church have recourse to another for a grace or privilege which it does not possess in its independent capacity.

Particular churches, however, may communicate with each other in a spirit of brotherhood and agreement, and co-operate for purposes connected with the general welfare. 2 Cor. viii. 19. "who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us." i. 24. "not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy." 1 Pet. v. 3. "neither as being lords over God's heritage."

Of councils, properly so called, I find no trace in Scripture[17] for the decision recorded Acts xv. 2, &c. is rather to be considered as an oracular declaration obtained from the inspired apostles, to whom recourse <196> was had in a doubtful matter, as to the supreme authority on controverted points, while there was as yet no written word. This was very different from a modern council composed of bishops or elders, who have no gift of inspiration more than other men; whose authority is not, like that of the apostles, co-ordinate with the Scriptures; who are equally liable to error with their brethren, insomuch that they can not pronounce with certainty, like the Apostles, Acts xv. 28. "it hath seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us;" who nevertheless assume the right of imposing laws on the churches, and require the rest of mankind to obey their mandates; forgetting that at the assembly in Jerusalem[18] the whole multitude of believers were present, and gave their voices: Acts xv. 12,22, 23. Where however they content them selves with the fraternal office of admonition, their counsel is not to be despised.

The enemies of the church are partly heretics, and partly profane opponents.

The hostility of heretics originates either in their own evil dispositions, Philipp. i. 16. "the one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely; or in the imposition of some unnecessary yoke on the church, Matt. ix. 16. "that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse." let even these are not without their use. 1 Cor. xi. 19. "there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you."

<197>

The enemies of the church are various, but the destruction of all is portended. Psal. cxxxvii. 7-9, "remember, O Jehovah, the children of Edom... O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed, happy shall he be that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us." Jer. xxx. 16. "all they that devour thee shall be devoured." 1. 29, 30. "call together the archers against Babylon, all ye that bend the bow —." v. 34. "their Redeemer is strong." li. 11. "the vengeance of Jehovah, the vengeance of his temple." v. 24. "I will render unto Babylon." v. 34. "Nebuchadrezzar hath devoured me, he hath crushed me." v. 49. as "Babylon hath caused the slain of Israel to fall, so at Babylon shall fall the slain of all the earth." Ezek. xxv. 3, &c. "because thou saidst, Aha, against my sanctuary —." xxviii. 24. "there shall be no more a pricking brier unto the house of Israel." xxxv. 5, &c. "because thou hast had a perpetual hatred —." Joel iii. 2, &c. "I will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat —." Amos i. 3, &c. "for three transgressions of Damascus —." Obad. 10, &c. "for thy violence against thy brother Jacob." Micah iv. 13. "arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion." Zech. xii. 3, &c. "I will make Jerusalem a burthensome stone for all people —." Rev. xix. 2. "he hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand."

The great enemy of the church is called Antichrist, who according to prediction is to arise from the church itself. 2 Thess. ii. 3, &c. "that man of sin, the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing him <198> self that he is God." 1 John ii. 18, &c. "even now are there many antichrists... they went out from us." iv. 3. "every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God; and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come." 2 John 7. "many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh: this is a deceiver and an antichrist." See also nearly the whole of the latter part of Revelations, from chap. xiii. to the end of the book.

The frauds and persecutions practised by the enemies of the church are of various kinds. Numb. xxxi. 16. "behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against Jehovah —." compared with Rev. ii. 14. Neh. vi. 6, &c. "he pronounced this prophecy against me; for Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him." Ezra iv. 12. "the rebellious and the bad city." See also Neh. ii. 19. Esther iii. 8. "there is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people, neither keep they the king's laws." Jer. xxvi. 8. "the priests took him." xxix. 26. "Jehovah hath made thee priest in the stead of Jehoiada the priest... that thou shouldest put him in prison and in the stocks." Amos vii. 10, 13. "then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent —." Matt. v. 10, 11. "blessed are they which are persecuted —." x. 25. "if they have called the master Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?" Gal. iv. 29. "but as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him <199> that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now." Heb. xi. 36, &c. "others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings —."

Hence we are enjoined to flee from persecution, and the precept is confirmed by the example of Elijah, 1 Kings xix. 3. of Joseph, Matt. ii. 13. and x. 16, 17. "behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves... but beware of men, for they will deliver you up to the councils." v. 23. "when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another;" of Christ, Matt. xii. 15. Luke iv. 30. John viii. 59. xi. 54. of the disciples, Acts viii. 4. of Paul and Barnabas, xiv. 6. 2 Cor. xi. 32, 33. Rev. xii. 6. "the woman fled into the wilderness." v. 14. "to the woman were given two wings —." Except where flight would not be conducive to the glory of God. Hence Paul declares, Acts xxi. 13. "I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die."

There are appropriate consolations for the persecuted. Matt. x. 32. "whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also." Luke xii. 4, 5, &c. "be not afraid of them that kill the body." xxi. 18, 19. "there shall not an hair of your head perish." John xv. 18-20. "if the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you." Acts v. 41. "rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name." Rom. viii. 35, &c. "who shall separate us... shall persecution?" 2 Cor. iv. 8, 9. "we are persecuted, but not forsaken." Philipp. ii. 17. "if I be offered upon the sacrifice of your faith, I joy." 2 Tim. iii. 12. "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution." 1 Pet. iv. 14. "if ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy <200> are ye." v. 16. "if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed."

A compensation is also promised. Mark x. 30. "he shall receive an hundred-fold." Luke vi. 23. "behold, your reward is great in heaven." Rom. viii. 18. "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." 2 Thess. i. 6, 7. "tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us." Heb. x. 34. "knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance." v. 36. "that ye might receive the promise." xi. 26. "he had respect unto the recompense of the reward."

[1]

'Bishops and presbyters are the same to us both name and thing.' Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing. Prose Works, I. 314. 'It will not be denied that in the Gospel there be but two ministerial degrees, presbyters and deacons.' Likeliest Means to remove Hirelings, &c. III. 356. 'Through all which book can be no where, either by plain text, or solid reasoning, found any difference between a bishop and a presbyter, save that they be two names to signify the same order.' Of Prelatical Episcopacy, I. 60. 'A bishop and presbyter is all one both in name and office.' Ibid. 75, See also p.76.

[2]

'More beneath in the 14th verse of the third chapter, when he hath delivered the duties of bishops, or presbyters, and deacons, not once naming any other order in the church.' Reason of Church Government against Prelaty. Prose Works, I. 86

[3]

'He that ennobled with gifts from God, and the lawful and primitive choice of the church assembled in convenient number, faithfully from that time forward feeds his parochial flock, has his co-equal and co-presbyterial power to ordain ministers and deacons by public prayer and vote of Christ's congregation, in like sort as he himself was ordained, and is a true apostolic bishop.' Of Reformation in England. Prose Works, I. 9. 'He that will mould a modern bishop into a primitive, must yield him to be elected by the popular voice.' Ibid. 14.

[4]

'See the forwardness of this man; he would persuade us that the succession and divine right of bishopdom hath been unquestionable through all ages.' Animadversions on the Remonstrant's Defence, Prose Works, I. 160.

[5]

'We consider, first, what recompense God hath ordained should be given to ministers of the church; (for that a recompense ought to be given them, and may by them justly be received, our Saviour himself from the very light of reason and of equity hath declared, Luke x. 7. the labourer is worthy of his hire.)' Likeliest Means to remove Hirelings, &c. III. 354.

[6]

'Which argues also the difficulty, or rather the impossibility to remove them quite, unless every minister were, as St. Paul, contented to preach gratis; but few such are to be found.' Likeliest Means to Remove Hirelings &c. Prose Works, III. 345.

[7]

'But of all are they to be reviled and shamed, who cry out with the distinct voice of notorious hirelings, that if ye settle not our maintenance by law, farewell the Gospel.' Likeliest Means to remove Hirelings, &c. Prose Works, III. 389.

[8]

Si vi et pecunia stat Christiana religio atque fulcitur, quid est quamobrem non æque ac Turcarum religio suspecta esse videatur? 'For if it must be thus, how can any Christian object it to a Turk, that his religion stands by force only; and not justly fear from him this reply, yours both by force and money, in the judgment of your own teachers?' Ibid. 389.

[9]

Wolves shall succeed for teachers, grievous wolves.

Paradise Lost, XII. 508.

'Not long after, as the apostle foretold, hirelings like wolves came in by herds.' Considerations on the likeliest Means, &c. Prose Works, III. 358. To the same effect is quoted, in the History of Britain. Gildas's character of the Saxon clergy: 'subtle prowlers, pastors in name, but indeed wolves; intent upon all occasions, not to feed the flock, but to pamper and well-line themselves.' IV. 112. 'Immo lupi verius plerique eorum, quam aliud quidvis erant dicendi..... pinguia illis plerumque omnia, ne ingenio quidem excepto; decimis enim saginantur, improbato ab aliis omnibus ecclesiis more; Deoque sic diffidunt ut eas malint per magistratum atque per vim suis gregibus extorquere, quam vel divinæ providentiæ, vel ecclesiarum benevolentiæ et gratitudini debere.' Defensio Secunda pro Populo Anglicano. V. 246.

[10]

'Under the law he gave them tithes; under the gospel, having left all things in his church to charity and Christian freedom, he hath given them only what is justly given them. That, as well under the gospel, as under the law, say our English divines, and they only of all Protestants, is tithes; and they say true, if any man be so minded to give them of his own the tenth or twentieth; but that the law therefore of tithes is in force under the gospel, all other Protestant divines, though equally concerned, yet constantly deny.' The Likeliest Means to remove Hirelings, &c. Prose Works, III. 354.

[11]

'Any one may perceive what iniquity and violence hath prevailed since in the church, whereby it hath been so ordered, that they also shall be compelled to recompense the parochial minister, who neither chose him for their teacher, nor have received instruction from him.' Ibid. 372 'If he give it as to his teacher, what justice or equity compels him to pay for learning that religion which leaves freely to his choice whether he will learn it, or no, whether of this teacher or of another, and especially to pay for what he never learned, or approves not?' Ibid. 380.

[12]

'They have fed themselves, and not their flocks.' Animadversions on the Remonstrants Defence. Prose Works, I. 200. 'Rambling from benefice to benefice, like ravenous wolves, seeking where they may devour the biggest.' Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, II. 303. 'Aliis fortasse in locis haud æque ministris provisum; nostris jam satis superque bene erat; oves potius appellandi quam pastores, pascuntur magis quam pascunt.' Defensio Secunda pro Populo Anglicano, V. 247

[13]

'Our great clerks think that these men, because they have a trade, (as Christ himself and St. Paul had) cannot therefore attain to some good measure of knowledge.' Animadversions on the Remonstrant's Defence, I. 162. 'This was the breeding of St. Paul, though born of no mean parent, a free citizen of the Roman empire; so little did his trade debase him, that it rather enabled him to use that magnanimity of preaching the gospel through Asia and Europe at his own charges.' Likeliest Means to remove Hirelings, &c. III. 377. 'The church elected them to be her teachers and overseers, though not thereby to separate them from whatever calling she then found them following beside; as the example of St. Paul declares, and the first times of Christianity.' Ibid. 390.

'They pretend that their education, either at school or university, hath been very chargeable, and therefore ought to be repaired in future by a plentiful maintenance.' Likeliest Means, &c. Prose Works, III. 385. See also Animadversions on the Remonstrant's Defence, I. 193.

[14]

'I shall not decline the more for that, to speak my opinion in the controversy next moved, whether the people may be allowed for competent judges of a minister's ability. For how else can be fulfilled that which God hath promised, to pour out such abundance of knowledge upon all sorts of men in the times of the gospel? How should the people examine the doctrine which is taught them, as Christ and his apostles continually bid them do? How should they discern and beware of false prophets, and try every spirit, if they must be thought unfit to judge of the minister's abilities?' Apology for Smectymnus. Prose Works, I. 255. 'Every member of the church, at least of any breeding or capacity, so well ought to be grounded in spiritual knowledge, as, if need be, to examine their teachers themselves, Acts xvii. 11. Rev. ii. 2. How should any private Christian try his teachers, unless he be well grounded himself in the rule of Scripture by which he is taught?' Of true Religion, &c. IV. 267

[15]

'But to proceed further in the truth yet more freely, seeing the Christian church is not national, but consisting of many particular congregations —.' Likeliest Means to Remove Hirelings, &c. Prose Works, III. 379.

[16]

Suis in se numeris omnes absolutæ: a Ciceronian expression which he has imitated elsewhere; speaking of the Deity:

... Through all numbers absolute, though one. Paradise Lost, VIII. 421.

[17]

It is probably owing to Milton's dislike of councils, that he describes in his epic poems the consultations of the fallen angels in terms borrowed from ecclesiastical assemblies. The devils are said to sit in secret conclave, Paradise Lost, I. 795; and their council is styled a gloomy consistory, Paradise Regained, I. 442. He also says in a letter to a friend, written in the year 1659, 'I pray that the Protestant synod, which you say is soon to meet at Leyden, may have a happy termination, which has never yet happened to any synod that has ever met before.' Prose Works. I. 40.

[18]

'That way which the apostles used, was to call a council; from which, by any thing that can be learned from the fifteenth of the Acts, no faithful Christian was debarred, to whom knowledge and piety might give entrance.' Reason of Church Government urged against Prelaty. Prose Works, I. 105.

© 2020 The Newton Project

Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

Scott Mandelbrote,
Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

Faculty of History, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2RL - newtonproject@history.ox.ac.uk

Privacy Statement

  • University of Oxford
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council
  • JISC