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without tarning alide to the voice of strangers, or attending upon the Ministry of such as are not of his Appointment, it's the duty of Saints to hearken, is very conspicuous in the ensuing Scriptures, Eph.4.11. Heb.13.7,13. Mat.24.4,5,23,24. 1 fob. 2. 18. & 4.1. 2 Fob.io.
Aits 20. 29, 30, 31, Rev. 2. 14, 15,16. which exactly agrees with what was practised by primitive Believers, who it seems received none without the Testimony of some Brethren of known integrity in. the Churches ; 1 Cor. 16. 3. A£t.9.26. Not to mention more, let it be weighed, whether the hearing of the present Ministers of England, doth not cart contempe upon these Ioftitutions of Christ. VVhat is more evidently preached forth by such a practice, than, 1. That separation from the Assemblies of England (though in their constituțion, carnal and worldly) and the worship thereof (although false and meerly of humane invention ) was and is our fia and evil? 2dly. That 'is not by vertue of any Soveraign Insticution of Chrift, the duty of Saints to meet together, as a body distinet (without going out to other Assemblies to worthip with them) for their mutual edification in the Lord. 3dly. That particular Assemblies are not foley of the Institution of the Lord Jesus, but that National are also to be accounted as the true Churches of Chrift (though they have no footing in the Scripture of the New Testament, from whence the Pattern of Gospel-Churches is foley to be deduced.). Yea, 4thly, That the Officers of Christ's Appointment are not sufficient for the Saints, but together with them, the help of false and Idol-hepherds is to be sought after than which, what greater contempt can be poured upon the forementioned Institutions of our dear Lord ? Yer who sees not all this to be the language which is heard and goes forth into the Nations, from the practice of our Brethren in the matter we are debating ? If they look upon Separation in the sense before-minded, to be of the Institution of Christ, can they offer a greater affront thereunto, than to run into the Assemblies of the Nation? If they judge it their duty to meet together diftinct from the World and its VVorshippers, why run they thereunto? If they apprehend National Churches to be the result of humane prudence, without bottom in the Scripture, and the Ministers of Christ to be onely (in contradiftinction to the Ministers that are not of his Appointment) attended unto; why give they the right-hand of fellowship unto such Assem blies, as profess themselves to be parts of such a National Church,
and hear Ministers that have relation thereunto ? who have re ceived (as hath been proved) no Mission from Christ to their Miniftry. If this be not evidently to pour contempt upon the Institutions of Chrift, and confessedly so, we thall for ever dispair of success in the most facile and righteolls undertaking. As for the second Pata ticufar, that hereby poor souls are hardened in a false way of Woré ship, what can be thought less ? ( supposing the Worlhip in the Parich-Assemblies of England to be to, as hath been proved) when they Ahall ree Profeflors, that were wont to pray and preach together, to profess, and protest against Common-Prayer-Book-Prielts , and Worship, to cry up, or at least approve of, Laws made for their eje&tion, if guilty of no other crime, than conforming to the Worship they now conform to and practise, now flock unto their Assemblies, and hear their Priests : what can they imagine less, than that there persons, thus acting in a direct contrariety to their former judgemene and practice, do now see they were mistaken?' and are, beginning at Jeaft, to return into those paths fom whence they departed, and that these wayes, in which they and their forefathers have walked, are the Good Old Way in which rest is to be found? Wo unto the world because of Offences, wo al so unto them by whom they come. Nor is the third Particular, viz. Thac hereby poor souls are hardened in their Rebellion and Blasphemy against God, the Spirit, his Tabernacle, and them that dwell therein, to be in the loaft questioned: We every day hear, to the breaking of our hearts, stout words spoken against the Lord, because of the practice of some in this thing. What say the wicked of the world less, than that Religion, which many pretend to, is but a Fancy, that the Professors thercof are but a Generation of Hypocrites, that will turn to any thing to save themselves ; that the spirit by which they are acted is but a spirit of Phanaticism and Delufion! yea, how do they blefs themselves that they are not, por ever were (and resolve so much the more, they will never be) of the number of such Profeffors ! Ask them a Reason of all this, and they wonder you should ask them, and speedily reply to you, Do you nos see how many of you, for fear of Persecution, bave diferied your former Principles, and are returned to our Asemblies and the Ministry i hereof, and that any of you stand out ('tis from hence evident ) that it is from m fpirit of Pride and Obstinacy, and not, as you pretend, from Divine Tena dernes, and the Leadings of the Spirit of the Lord. And what can we
fry to all these things ? must we not with grief and sorrow confess, that there is indeed too great an occasion adminiftred to them for their thus speaking, though this will be no plea for them in the day of Chriit. "Blessed are they that are not offended in bim. It remainech then, that inasmuch as the hearing the present Ministers of England, pours out contempt upon the Wayes and Inftitutions of Christ, hardens persons in a false way of Worship, Rebellion and Blasphemy against the Lord : it's utterly unlawful for Saiots to be found in the pra&ice thereof. To all that hitherco hath been said, we shall yet briefly add,
Argument. 10. God calls his People out of, and Arialy charges them, not to go to the places of Falfe-Worship : Therefore 'cis unlawful for the Saints to attend upon the present Ministers of England. The Antecedent is clearly proved, Hof.4.15. Amos 4.4. The Reason of the Consequence is, Because we cannot go to hear the present Ministers of England without we go to their places and assemblies of False-worship (as the Common. Prayer-Book-Worship hath been proved to be.)
Argument 11. Thats upon the doing whereof Saints have no promise of a Blessing, nor any ground to expect it is not lawful for them to do. But in the hearing of these men, the Saints have no promise of a Blessing, nor ground to expect it. Therefore.
The Major ( or firft Proposition) will not be denied. As for the Minor (or second Proposition). That the Saints have no promise of a Blessing from God nor ground to expect it, in the hearing of the present Ministers of England, may many wayes be demonstrated. If there be any promise of a Blessing upon them from God, in their so doing, let it be produced, and we shall willingly confess, there is no weight in this Argument : But this we conceive to be no easie task for any to discharge, and that for these Reasons : ! 1. The Blessing of the Lord is upon Sion, Pial. 87. 2. and 78. 68. there be dwells, Pral. 9.11. and 74. 2. Jer. 8. 19. Isa. 8. 18. Joel 3. 17,21. the presence of Christ is in the midft of the Golden Candlesticks, Rev. 1.12,13. and 2,1, 'tis his Garden in which he feedeth and dwells, Cant. 6. 2. and 8. 13. and we are not surer of any thing (nor will it be denied by our Conforming Brechren) (many of them) than we are of this, Thaç the Assemblies of England, in their present consti
tusion, are fo far from being the Sion of God, his Candlesticks, his Garden, that they are a very Wilderness, and that Babel out of which the Lord commands his people to baften their escape, Rev.18.4.
2. God never promiseth á Blessing to a People waiting upon bim in that way which is polluted and not of his appointment, as we have proved the Worship of England to be.
3. The Lord bath exprelly said concerning such as run before they are sent, That they sball not profit the People, Jer.23.32.
4. The Lord protesteth, that such as refuse to obey his Calls, to come out of Babylon, shall part ake of her Plagues, Rev. 18.4.
5. Where the Lord is not, in respect of his special Presence and Grace, there is no ground to expect any Bleffing: but God is not so in the midst of the Parochial Affemblies of: England. Where are the fouls that are converted, comforted, Arengthened, ftablifhed, that are waiting at the doors of their house? Though many will not see it, yet a sad spirit of withering, and visible decaies is to be found upon many that are waiting upon the teachings of the Ministers of this day : And we hope the Lord will in mercy, cause those that are indeed his, to see it, that they may remember from whence they have fallen,repent, do their firft works, and watch to strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to dye, for God hath not found their works perfect before him.
Argument 12. That, the doing whereof is one Atep to Apostacy, is not lawful to be done. But the hearing the present Ministers of England is one Hep to Apoftacy. Therefore.
The Major Proposition will readily be granted by all : The be. ginnings of great evils are certainly to be refifted. Apostacy is one of the greatett evils in the world.
The Minor ( or second Propofition) vir. That the hearing of the present Ministers of England is one step to Apoftacy, is evident.
1. It cannot be done (especially by persons of Congregational Principles ) without a relinquishment of Principles owned by them, as received from God: That the Church of England, as-Nacional, is a Church of the institution of Chrift: Thar persons nor called to the Ofice of the Ministry by the Saints, are rightful Ministers of Christ, must be owned, and taken for granted, ere the conscience can acquiesce in the bearing of the present Minilters ( for we suppose
(will not be afferted by those with whom we have co do, that there can be a true Miniftry in a False Church, or that False Ministers may be heard; and yet the present Ministers are Ministers in, and of the National Church of England, and were never folemoly depuced to that Office by the suffrage of the Lords People.)
2dly. Nor can it be done without the neglect of that duty, which with others, is eminently of the appointment of the Lord, to secure from Apoftacy, inftanc'd in by the Author to the Hebrows, Hebr. 10. 25. Not forsaking the assembling of your felves together, at lave manner of fome is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more, ai you see the day. approaching. In which the duty of Saints af. sembling of themselves together, as a body distinct from the world, and its Assemblies, as also their frequent, and as often as may be, exporting one another, as a medium to secure them ( by the blessing of the Lord thereupon ) from a fpirit of Degeneracy and Apoftacy from God, is clearly asserted : Whence it undeniably follows, Thar · the hearing of the present Ministers of England (being inconfiftend
with the constant and diligient use of the means prescribed for the preservation of the Saints in the way of God: for whilst they are attending upon their teachings, they cannot assemble themselves aca cording to the prefcription of God in the forementioned Scripture ) is at least one iep to the dreadful fin of Apostacy from God, and therefore is it utterly unlawful for Saints so to do. And thus far of the 12th Argument for the proof of the assertion under our maintenance, viz. That tis not lawful for Saints to hear the present Ministers of England, to which many others might be added : But we doubt not, to the truly tender and humble enquiring Christian, what hath been offered will be abundantly sufficient to satisfie his conscience in the present enquiry. We shall only in the close offer a few Queries to be in the fear of the Holy One,considered by the intelligenc Reader,
- Quer. I, Whether the Lord Jefus be not the afone Head, King, and Lawgiver to his Church?
*2; Whether the Laws, Statutes, Orders and Ordinances of Christ, be not faithfully to be kept, though all the Princes in the world should interdict and forbid it ? --3. Whether to introduce other Laws for the Government of the Church of Christ and the Worship of his House, be not an high advance against, and intrufion into his Kingship and Headship?