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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 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 com" 2 Thess. pared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 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.”
CHAP. XXXII.—OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE.*
THE bond by which a particular church is held together, is its DISCIPLINE.9
CHURCH DISCIPLINE consists in a mutual agreement among the members of the church to fashion their lives according to Christian doctrine, and to regulate every thing in their public meetings decently and with order. Rom. xii. 4. to the end of the chapter. Eph. iv. 1-3. "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Col. iii. 16. "let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto the Lord." 1 Thess. iv. 18. "comfort one another with these words." Heb. iii. 13. " exhort one another daily, while
8 On the subject of this chapter, see Hooker, and Potter On Church Government.
9 Let whoso will interpret or determine, so it be according to true church discipline, which is exercised on them only who have willingly joined themselves in that covenant of union.' Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes. Prose Works, II. 526.
it is called to-day, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." x. 24. "let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works." 1 Cor. xi. 17, 18. I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse; for first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you." xiv. 40."let all things be done decently and in order." Col. ii. 5. "though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying, and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ."
It is a prudent as well as a pious custom, to solemnize the formation or re-establishment of a particular church by a public renewal of the covenant; as was frequently done in the reformations of the Jewish church; Deut. xxix. 1. "these are the words of the covenant which Jehovah commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb." The same took place under Asa, Ezra, Nehemiah, and others.
So also, when an individual unites himself to a particular church, it is requisite that he should enter into a solemn covenant with God and the church, to conduct himself in all respects, both towards the one and the other, so as to promote his own edification and that of his brethren. This covenant ought properly to take place in baptism, as being the rite appointed for the admission of all persons (that is, of all adults) into the church. Seeing also that most men are liable to a frequent change of residence, it will be necessary that this promise should be repeated so often as they pass from one particular church to another, unless they are provided with the most satisfactory testimonials from some other orthodox church; this being apparently the only means by which discipline can be adequately maintained, or prevented from' sinking into gradual decline and dissolution.
1 This is an allusion to the commendatory letters which were anciently granted by the bishops and governors of churches to such of their members as were obliged to travel, on shewing which they were permitted to communicate in all churches through which they passed. Tertullian calls a testimonial of this kind' communicatio pacis, et appellatio fraternitatis, et conteperatio hospitalitatis.' De Præscript. Advers. Hæret. p. 76. edit. 1580. Paris. Milton reproaches Morus bitterly because these testimonials had been refused him. Petit insuper literas impudentissimus homo commendatitias, &c.' Authoris pro se Defensio. Prose Works, Symmons' ed. V. 325.
The custom of holding assemblies is to be maintained, not after the present mode, but according to the apostolical institution, which did not ordain that an individual, and he a stipendiary, should have the sole right of speaking from a higher place, but that each believer in turn should be authorized to speak, or prophesy, or teach, or exhort, according to his gifts; insomuch that even the weakest among the brethren had the privilege of asking questions, and consulting the elders and more experienced members of the congregation. 1 Cor. xiv. 26, &c. "when ye come together, every one of you," &c.
This custom was derived by the apostles from the synagogue, and transferred by them to the churches. Luke ii. 46. "hearing them, and asking them questions." iv. 16. "he stood up for to read." Compare also other places where Christ is related to have taught in the synagogue, and even in the temple, Matt. xxvi. 55. John vii. 14. a permission which was granted to him not as Christ, but simply as a gifted individual, in the same manner as it was afterwards granted to the apostles, Acts xiii. 5. "they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews." v. 15. "after the reading of the law and the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word or exhortation for the people, say on." These rulers of the synagogue were persons appointed to see that all things were done in order. Mark v. 66 22. one of the rulers of the synagogue." Luke viii. 41. "a ruler of the synagogue." xiii. 14. “the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day." Acts xiii. 15. as above, &c.
Women, however, are enjoined to keep silence in the church.3 1 Cor. xiv. 34, 35. "let your women keep silence in the churches, for it is not permitted unto them to speak, but they are commanded to be under obedience, as saith the law (Gen.
At our great feast
What might improve my knowledge or their own.
3 This clause is probably added on account of the doctrines of the Quakers, which in Milton's time began to attract attention.
iii. 16); and if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." 1 Tim. ii. 11, 12. "let the woman learn in silence in all subjection: but I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."4
The administration of discipline is called the power of the keys; a power not committed to Peter and his successors exclusively, or to any individual pastor specifically, but to the whole particular church collectively, of whatever number of members composed. Matt. xvi. 19. “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven," compared with xviii. 17-20. "tell it unto the church.... verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven again, I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth, as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven for where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." John xx. 22, 23. "when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them,
4 The texts quoted in this paragraph appear to have been in Milton's mind in that passage of Paradise Lost where Eve is represented as retiring from the table as soon as she perceived from Adam's countenance that the conversation was beginning to assume an abstruse cast:
Such pleasure she reserv'd,
VIII. 50. The same decorum is observed subsequently, when Eve is not permitted to see the vision which Michael displays to Adam from the highest hill of Paradise. On descending from the 'specular mount' to the bower where Eve had been left sleeping, the angel says to his companion,
Thou, at season fit,
Let her with thee partake what thou hast heard;
5 Surely much rather might the heavenly ministry of the evangel bind himself about with far more piercing beams of majesty and awe, by wanting the beggarly help of hailings and amercements in the use of her powerful keys.' Reason of Church Government urged against Prelaty. Prose Works, II. 489. The church in all ages, primitive, Romish, or Protestant, held it ever no less their duty, than the power of their keys,' &c. Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, Ibid. 24.
Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose 'soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." 1 Cor. v. 4. " when ye are gathered together, and my spirit." 2 Cor. ii. 7, 8. "ye ought rather to forgive him.... wherefore I beseech you to confirm your love toward him." Rev. iii. 7, 8. "these things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth... behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it."
The administration of discipline consists, first, in receiving and treating with gentleness the weak or lapsed members of the church. Rom. xiv. 1. "him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.' Gal. vi. 1. "brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." Matt. ix. 16. "no man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment; for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse." John xvi. 12. "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.' 1 Thess. v. 14. "comfort the feeble-minded, support the weak." Jude 22, 23. "of some have compassion, making a difference." It was for the sake of such that those temporary decrees were made, Acts xv. For similar reasons Paul circumcised Timothy, xvi. 3. and purified himself in the temple, xxi. 26.
Secondly, in composing differences between the brethren, Matt. xviii. 17. "if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the church."
"shall I come
Thirdly, in admonishing or openly rebuking grievous offenders. 1 Tim. v. 20. "them that sin rebuke before all." Tit. iii. 10. "a man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition reject." 1 Cor. iv. 21. unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?" 2 Cor. ii. 6. "sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many." 1 Thess. v. 14. 66 warn them that are unruly." 1 Tim. v. 1. "rebuke not an elder." 3 John 10. "if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth."
Fourthly, in separating the disobedient from the communionof the church. Rom. xvi. 17. "I beseech you, brethren,