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These were large advances : they professed their agreement CHARLES with the Presbyterians in the main things: they own them for true Churches, and offered to maintain occasional communion with them. However, all this concession was not sufficient to acquit them of the imputation of schism in the opinion of the assembly divines, who make their rejoinder to this effect.
“1. They argue, that though tenderness of conscience may oblige to forbear or suspend the act of communion in a case scrupled, and supposed unlawful; yet it does not bind people to a practice repugnant to the will of God; of which kind they conceive the gathering separate Churches out of true Churches to be an instance.
“ 2. It is one thing to remove to a congregation under the same rule, and another to a congregation of a different constitution from the rule : in the first case, a man retains his membership, but renounces it in the latter. That this is done, appears from the different judgments he makes touching the very constitution of the respective Churches : for it is the difference of qualities and regulations which make him quit one society and retire to the other.
“ 3. They reply, that if a Church requires that which is evil of any member, he must forbear compliance, but yet without separation. Thus those both in England and Scotland, who thought kneeling at the communion unlawful, did not separate or renounce membership on this score.
On the contrary, some of them defended the constitution of the established Church, against those of the separation. And whereas the Independents had argued upon a supposition of an indulgence from the State, for gathering Churches : to this the Presbyterians answer,
“4. That the notion of separation is not to be determined by the civil legislature ; not by acts of State, but by the word of God. Now by this rule, the standing off with dislike from any Church, and refusing all ordinary communion, is to separate from such a Church.
“5. They insist, that a total disagreement from Churches, is not necessary to make a total separation. For the most rigid Separatists hold the same rule of worship and government with the Presbyterians. And therefore were this latitude allowed, Novatians, Donatists, and all those that stood
off from Catholic communion, might shelter themselves from the imputation of schism.
“6. The Presbyterians argue, that if the Independents can occasionally exercise these acts of communion with them, once or twice, or thrice, without sinning, they cannot see any reason why they cannot always communicate with them, without sin : and if so, separation and Church gathering would be unnecessary. To separate from these churches ordinarily and openly, with whom we may occasionally join without sin, seems a most unjust separation.
To their second reason, the Dissenting brethren replied, first, " That it was founded on this supposition, that nothing is to be tolerated which was unlawful in the judgment of those who are to grant the toleration.” This the assembly divines denied, and said, “they argued upon the supposition of unlawfulness of tolerating gatherings of Churches out of true Churches, which the Independents have not endeavoured so much as to prove lawful."
2. These Dissenting brethren urge farther, “that if after all endeavours, men's consciences are unsatisfied as to communion with a Church, they are then under no obligation to continue in that communion: neither are such scrupled Churches bound to restrain them from going off to more unexceptionable Churches, or if there happens to be none such, to form a new spiritual society of their own.
To this the divines of the assembly replied, first, “ that this reasoning opened a gap for all sects to challenge the same liberty; and, secondly, that this latitude of practice was denied by the Churches of New England."
The Independents rallied the cause, and argued, first," that the abuse of the word “schism'has done the Church a great deal of harm; that the signification of it was not yet settled by the State, nor debated by the assembly."
To this the Presbyterians return, “that if the word “schism' had been left out, the reasoning upon the case would have continued in the same force ; that the principle of the Independents gives countenance to perpetual divisions in the Church, still drawing away Churches from under the rule. And what is countenancing an unnecessary and unjust separation but countenancing a schism ?-especially when the grounds of this
separation may be pleaded by any erroneous conscience what- CHARLES
And thus, by the same equity and parity of reasoning, the Church may be broken into as many subdivisions as there are different scruples in the minds of men."
The Independents come on once more, and insist “ that this indulgence will give countenance only to godly people's joining in other congregations for their greater edification, who cannot otherwise, without sin, enjoy all the ordinances of Christ; that, by such going off, they do not censure the Churches they retire from as false, but esteem them as members of the body of Christ, and join with them in all duties of worship as far as they are able. And this conscientious practice, they conceive, can neither be called schism, nor countenancing it; and that so deep a censure cannot be justified by Scripture, or any good ecclesiastical authority.”
To this the assembly-divines answered, “ that this indulgence desired is no better than a licence for perpetual division in the Church; and a constant revolt from the rule must be the consequence of it: for, upon the same pretence, those who scruple infant-baptism may withdraw from the Independent Churches, and go off into another congregation; and, in this new shelter, some danger may be apprehended, and carry the scrupling persons to a farther distance. And are these subdivisions and fractions in Church-government as lawful as they may be infinite? Or must we give that regard to erroneous consciences as to satisfy men's scruples by so unbounded a liberty? Does not this plainly import that error in conscience is a protection against schism?
“ 2. The not condemning our Churches as false,” continue the Presbyterians, “extenuates the charge of separation but a very little : for several of the Brownists, who have totally separated in former times, have not condemned the Churches they quitted as false. However, though they do not pronounce an open and decisive sentence, their practice amounts to little less : for the very separating supposes error and impurity in the Churches from which they depart.
“ 3. Though the Presbyterians do not pronounce all difference in judgment or inconformity in practice schism, provided communion is preserved, yet they affirm that joining in congregations of another communion is a plain rupture, splits a society, and amounts to formal schism. And, if the apostle
calls those divisions of the Church schisms, where the Christians did not disagree so far as to separate into distinct and opposite communions, the separation desired by the Independents will lie fuller under that imputation.
" 4. They affirm, in decisive language, that scruple of conscience is no good plea against the charge of schism. To make the defence unexceptionable, the motives must have more weight in them; and the grounds of separation must
be justified from the nature of the thing?." An ordi- To
somewhat backwards : the lords and commons at nunce for
gave directions, in an ordinance, for suspending scundalous scandalous
persons from the Lord's supper. The crimes are persons from the sacra
too long to mention,-only, it may be observed, rebellion is ment.
none of them. Persons of ill fame in any of the particulars
were to be examined by the eldership of every congregation. Oct. 20, This ordinance concludes with a proviso, that the members of
both houses, who are now members of the assembly of divines, or any seven of them, shall be a standing committee to pro
nounce upon the causes of suspension from the Lord's supper Rushworth’s not mentioned in this ordinance.
Some few weeks forward, we meet with another ordinance touching the ordination of ministers.
The person to be ordained was to address himself to the presbytery of his class. By the way, London was divided into twelve classes of ministers; and these divisions in the country
were proportioned to the extent of the shires. An ordi
To go on : the candidate for orders was to bring the presbying ordina- tery a testimonial of his having taken the covenant of the three tion of
kingdoms, of his diligence and proficiency in his studies, what ministers.
degrees he has taken in the university, and how long he has continued there. His age was likewise to be inquired into, which must reach to four-and-twenty years at least. And, to conclude, his morals and regularity of behaviour must be particularly regarded. The rules for examining him are these :
“ 1. The party examined must be dealt with in a brotherly
. id. p. 212 way, with mildness of spirit, and with special respect to the
gravity, modesty, and quality of every one.
1 It was fortunate for the Church that the schism of the Presbyterians was weakened by the schism of the Independents, and that the mischief of division was mitigated by that of subdivision.
part 4. P. 210.
“ 2. He shall be examined touching his skill in the original CHARLES tongues, and that trial to be made by reading the Hebrew and Greek Testaments, and rendering some portions of them into Latin ; and inquiry also shall be made after his other learning, and whether he hath skill in logic and philosophy.
“ 3. What authors in divinity he hath read, and is best acquainted with; and trial shall be made of his knowledge in the chief grounds of religion, and of his ability to defend the orthodox doctrine contained in them against all unsound and erroneous opinions, especially those of the present age ; of his skill in the sense and meaning of such places of Scripture as shall be proposed unto him in cases of conscience, and in the chronology of Scripture, and of the ecclesiastical history.
* 4. If he hath not before preached in public, with approbation of such as are able to judge, he shall, at a competent time assigned him, and before the presbytery, expound such a place as shall be given him. “ 5. He shall in a competent time also frame a discourse
841. in Latin, upon such a common place or controversy in divinity as shall be assigned him, and exhibit to the presbytery such theses as express the sum thereof, and maintain a dispute upon them.
“6. He shall preach before the people ; the presbytery, or some of the ministers of the word appointed by them, being present.
“7. The proportion of his gifts in relation to the place unto which he is called shall be considered.
“8. Besides the trial of his gifts in preaching, he shall undergo an examination in the premises two several days or more, if the presbytery shall judge it necessary."
After the ordination sermon, the minister that preached was to require the person ordained to make a profession of his belief, and the integrity of his intention in entering upon the holy function. After this, the presbytery, or the ministers deputed by them, were to lay their hands upon the candidate, Id. p. 212. with a short prayer or benediction.
It was resolved by the lords and commons in February following, a choice should be made of elders throughout the kingdom of England and Wales. On the 14th of March this An ordiresolution was formed into an ordinance. These elections nance for
electing were to be made by the congregation, or the major part of elders.