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XXXIII. Of excommunicate Persons, how they
are to be avoided. TAAT person, which, aby open denunciation of the church, is rightly cut off from the unity of
. In the church, if it be well ordered, there shall be seen to be observed a certain order and manner of governance, and such a form of ecclesiastical discipline, that it shall not be free for any that abideth in that flock publicly to speak or do any thing wickedly or in heinous sort without punishment, yea, and so that in that congregation of men, all offences, so far as is pos. sible, be avoided. But this discipline since long time past, by little and little decaying, as the manners of men be corrupt and out of right course, specially of the rich and men of power, which will needs have impunity and most free liberty to sin and do wickedly, this grave manner of looking to them and of chastisement can hardly be maintained in churches. Nowell, p. 68.
In churches well ordered and well mannered, there was, as I said before, ordained and kept a certain form and order of governance. There were chosen elders, that is, ecclesiastical magistrates, to hold and keep the discipline of the Church. To these belonged the authority, looking to, and correction, like censors. These calling to them also the pastor, if they knew any that either with false opinions, or troublesome errors, or vain superstitions, or with corrupt and wicked life, brought publicly any great offence to the Church of God, and which might not come without profaning the Lord's supper, did put back such from the communion, and rejected them, and did not admit them again till they had with public penance satisfied the Church. Nowell, p. 115.
We say, that Christ hath given to his ministers power to bind, to loose, to open, to shut. And we say, the office of loosing
1 If thy brother shall trespass bound in heaven: and whatsoever against thee, go and tell him of his ye shall loose on earth shall be fault between thee and him alone; loosed in heaven. Matt. xviii. 15if he shall hear thee, thou hast 18. It is reported commonly that gained thy brother. But if he will there is fornication among you. In not hear thee, then take with thee the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, one or two more, that in the mouth when ye are gathered together, of two or three every word may be and my spirit, with the power of established. And if he shall neg. our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver lect to hear them, tell it unto the such an one unto satan for the dechurch: but if he neglect to hear struction of the flesh, that the spirit the church, let him be unto thee may be saved in the day of the as an heathen man and a publican. Lord Jesus. 1 Cor. v.1-5. I have Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever written unto you not to keep comye shall bind on earth shall be pany, if any man that is called a
the church, and excommunicated, bought to be taken of the whole multitude of the faithful as
consisteth in this point: that the minister, either by the preaching of the Gospel, offereth the merits of Christ and full pardon to such as have lowly and contrite hearts, and do unfeignedly repent themselves, pronouncing unto the same a sure and undoubted forgiveness of their sins, and hope of everlasting salvation : or else that the same minister, when any have offended their brothers' minds with some great offence, or notable and open crime, whereby they have, as it were, banished and made themselves strangers from the common fellowship, and from the body of Christ, then after perfect amendment of such persons, doth reconcile them, and bring them home again, and restore them to the company and unity of the faithful. We say also that the minister doth execute the authority of binding and shutting, as often as he shutteth up the gate of the kingdom of heaven against unbelieving and stubborn persons, denouncing unto them God's vengeance and everlasting punishment: or else when he doth quite'shut them out from the bosom of the Church by open excommunication. Out of doubt, what sentence soever the minister of God shall give in this sort, God himself doth so well allow it, that whatsoever here in earth by their means is loosed and bound, God himself will loose and bind, and confirm the same in heaven. And touching the keys wherewith they may either shut or open the kingdom of heaven, we with Chrysostom say, “ They be the knowledge of Scriptures :" with Tertullian we say, “ They be the interpretation of the law :'' and with Eusebius we call them, “ The word of God.” We say that the priest indeed is a judge in this case, but yet hath no manner of right to challenge an authority or power, as saith Ambrose. Jewell.
o Q. Is there then no hope of salvation out of the Church ? A. Out of it can be nothing but damnation, death, and destruction. For what hope of life can remain to the members, when they are pulled asunder and cut off from the head and body ? They, therefore, that seditiously stir up discord in the Church of God, and make division and strife in it, and trouble it with
brother be a fornicator, or covetous, of whom is Hymencus and Alexanor an idolater, or a railer, or a der; whom I have delivered unto drunkard, or an extortioner; with Satan, that they may learn not to such an one no not to eat. There- blaspheme. 1 Tim. i. 20. fore put away from among your- b Now I beseech you, brethren, selves that wicked person. 1 Cor. mark them which cause divisions v. 11, 13. Them that sin rebuke and offences contrary to the docbefore all, that others also may fear.. trine which ye have learned; and 1 Tim. v. 20. Which some having avoid them. Rom. xvi. 17. If any put away, (a good conscience) con- man obey not our word by this cerning faith have made shipwreck: epistle, note that man, and have no
an heathen and publican, until he be openly reconciled by penance, and received into the Church by a judge that hath authority thereunto.
sects, (factionibus,) have all hope of safety by forgiveness of sins cut off from them, till they be reconciled, and return to agreement and favour with the Church. Nowell, p. 69.
company with him, that he may be ought rather to forgive him, and ashamed. Yet count him not an comfort him, lest perhaps such a enemy, but admonish him as a bro- one should be swallowed up with ther. 2 Thess. iii. 14, 15. A man overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I that is an heretic, after the first and beseech you that ye would confirm second admonition, reject'; know your love toward him. For to this ing that he that is such is sub- end also did I write, that I might verted, and sinneth, being con- know the proof of you, whether ye demned of himself. Tit. iii. 10, 11. be obedient in all things. To whom
c Sufficient to such a man is this ye forgive any thing, I forgive also. punishment, which was inflicted 2 Cor. ii. 6-10. of many. So that contrariwise ye
XXXIV. Of the Traditions of the Church. IT is not necessary that traditions and ceremonies be in all places a one, or utterly like; for at all times they have been diverse, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men's manners, so that nothing be ordained against God's word. Whosoever, through
a Of a truth unity and concord do best become religion : yet. is not unity the sure and certain mark, whereby to know the Church of God. Jewell.
God's Church ought not, neither may it be so tied to that or any other order now made, or hereafter to be made and devised by the authority of man, but that it may lawfully, for just causes, alter, change, or mitigate those ecclesiastical decrees and orders, yea, recede wholly from them, and break them, when they tend either to superstition, or to impiety; when they draw the people from God, rather than work any edification in them. This authority Christ himself used, and left it to his Church. He used it, I say ; for the order or decree made by the elders for washing ofttimes, which was diligently observed of the Jews, yet tending to superstition, our Saviour Christ altered and changed the same in his Church into a profitable sacrament, the sacrament of our regeneration, or new birth. This authority to mitigate laws and decrees ecclesiastical the Apostles practised; when they, writing from Jerusalem unto the congregation that was at Antioch, signified unto them, that they would not lay any further burthen upon them, but these necessaries : that is, 6 that they should abstain from things offered unto idols, from blood, from that which is strangled, and from fornication,” (Acts xv. 29.) notwithstanding that Moses's law required many other observances. Positive laws made by princes, for conservation of their policy, not repugnant unto God's law, ought of all Christian subjects with reverence of the magistrate to be obeyed: not only for fear of punishment, “but also,” as the Apostle saith, “ for conscience sake.” Conscience, I say, not of the thing, which of its own nature is indifferent, but of our obedience, which by the law of God we owe unto the magistrate, as unto God's minister. By which positive laws, though we subjects, for certain times and days appointed, be restrained from some kinds of meats and drink, which God by his holy word hath left free to be taken and used of all men, with thanksgiving, in all places, and at all times; yet for that
his private judgment, willingly and purposely doth openly break the traditions and ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the word of God, and be ordained and approved of common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, (that other may fear to do the like, das he that offendeth against the common order of the Church, e and hurteth the authority of the magistrate, fand woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren.
such laws of princes and other magistrates are not made to put holiness in one kind of meat and drink more than another, to make one day more holy than another, but are grounded merely upon policy; all subjects are bound in conscience to keep them by God's commandment; who by the Apostle willeth all, without exception, to submit themselves unto the authority of the higher powers. Hom. xvi. 2.
c Obey them that have the rule 40. Though I be absent in the over you, and submit yourselves. flesh, yet am 1 with you in the Heb. xiii. 17. Them that sin, re- spirit, joying and beholding your buke before all, that others also may order. Col. ii. 5. fear. 1 Tim. v. 20. Warn them e Submit yourselves to every orthat are unruly, (or disorderly.) dinance of man for the Lord's sake. 1 Thess. v. 14. We hear there are 1 Pet. ii. 13. Ye must needs be some among you that walk dis- subject, not only for wrath, but orderly. If any man obey not also for conscience sake. Rom. xiii. our word by this epistle, note that 5. Submitting yourselves one to man, and have no company with another in the fear of God. Eph. him, that he may be ashamed. v. 21. 2 Thess, iii. 11, 14.
I beseech you, bretbren, mark a Now we command you, bre- them which cause divisions and ofthren, in the name of our Lord Jesus fences, contrary to the doctrine Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves which ye have learned ; and avoid from every brother that walketh them. For they that are such serve disorderly, and not after the tra- not our Lord Jesus Christ. Rom. dition which he received of us. xvi. 17, 18. When ye sin so against 2 Thess. iii. 6. Diotrephes, who the brethren, and wound their weak loveth to have the preeminence, consciences, ye sin against Christ. receiveth us not. Wherefore if I 1 Cor. viii. 12. Take heed that ye come, I will remember his deeds despise not one of these little ones. which he doeth, prating against Matt. xviii. 10. Let us not judge us with malicious words: and not one another, but judge this rather, content therewith, neither doth he that no man put a stumbling-block himself receive the brethren, and or an occasion to fall in his brother's forbiddeth them that would, and way. Rom. xiv. 13. We that are casteth them out of the church. strong ought to bear the infirmities 3 John 10. Let all things be done of the weak, and not to please ourdecently, and in order. 1 Cor. xiv. selves. Rom, xv. 1.