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sensible of, nor suitably assected with our danger and misery, nor with the sins which were the procuring cause of all. "Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger towards us to cease! Oh, wilt thou be angry with us forever ? jfrilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations?" ^^hatever the Lord think sit to do with this backsliding church and land, we judge it incumbent upon us to bear witness against the foresaid evils.
As to the impugning and invading the rights which congregations have to chuse and call their own minsters, and the intrusions made upon them, which, alas! still continue to be practised; we shall give our reasons for testifying against them, and for the rights of the people. And the sirst and great reason is, because, by the rule and pattern of God's word, and by the dictates of sound and sober reason, the Christian people have an unquestionable interest in the choice of these pastors to whom they are to intrust the care of their fouls: and particularly, this right of the people is established by several passages of the "Acts of the Apostles," a book intended to give us the apostolical practice and pattern in the settlement of the Christian church.
1. In acts i. 13. 14, 15, &c. when the eleven apostles met for the choice of an apostle, the laity present with them were allowed a share in the election of two, of which God did chuse one to sill the vacancy of the apostolical college. From which we inser, That ministers should much more consult them in the choice of ordinary pastors, who are to have the stated inspection of their soul"!; and that this condescension of the apostles to the people in this case, doth condemn their practice who violently impose ministers upon Christian con. gregations, while they are dissnting and reclaiming a gainst them, and willing to receive others every way as sit for them. And we sind our resormers and Protestant divines, such as Calvin, Beza, Junius, Zanchy, Chamier, Voetius, Amesius, Turretine, Cartwright, Calderwood, Gillespie, Forrester, Lauder, and many others, improving this passage for the peoples rights against Papists, Prelatists and patronages,
2. In Acts vi. the apostles called the multitude or body of .the disciples to the choice oi the sirst standing church officers which they appointed, viz. the deacons for taking care of the poor; from which we inser, If the disciples have a right to chuse these ofsicers who are to dispose of their charity, then much more these who are to oversee their souls. And if the apostles reckoned the people competent to judge who had the qualisications for deacons which they prescribe, viz. " who were most eminent for honesty, wisdom, and the gifts of the Holy Ghost; why are they not competent to give their judgement of the like qualisications in those who are to be their pastors ? The apostles being under immediate Divine direction, were abundantly capable to choose these ofsicers without the people? yet they will needs have them concurring in it, as a patron to the church in their aster chusing of church ofsicers, And it is observable, the apostles took this method, to silence the complaints among the people about providing for the poor. Which loudly calls upon judicatories with us to follow their example, in order to silence the peoples complaints of violent intrusions made upon them, contrary to the apostles practice and our acknowledged principles, to the great hinderance of the gospel and the edisication of souls. Likewise we have the forecited Protestant divines concurring to improve this passage of the deacons for the peoples rights: and it might be expected that the ministers of the church of Scotland would not oppose them, or join with the Papists in this question. .
3. The apostles practice in the election of churchofficers, being sufsiciently evident by the foresaid two instances, the sacred penman of the Acts insists no more upon this subject, save that he hints at their known practice in ordinations, Acts xiv. 23. In our version it is, " And when they had ordained them elders in every church." Now, the word here rendered ordained, is but half translated ; for in the original it is x«i*mwmt, which Erasmus renders cum suffragiit creajsent j and Bcz•, agreeing with him, hath it per suffragia creajsent: So that, according to these learned men, and many
others, €'hcrs, the passage fnouM have been rendered, " When they hr.d by sussnge? appointed to them eiders in every church." S" 't i in all (Ad English tranflations, and soit Wjs brought in by our Lit tr -r.fl.;rors- un'il the version was '•ommsttpd ! y king J. . es to some of the English bilh p' to bf revtf d, nhn altered no !es< than fourth tn pisliipje? of ;he New Test ment, and tnL among the rest, to make them speak the language of the church of England; but the s.ngina! language, being that of the Holv Ghofl, s o be cur ruie. The word here is not ^i.'.?ofa'fri«' which signisies- the action of n.misters in ordaining; but it is x"f°TM"*> which is expressive of the pecp'cs act in electing of pastois, by stretching or lifting up the ' and, as was the custom: and r this sense doth the apostle rruke use of the word x"rtr'•M. and ascribe it to the people, 2 Cor. viii. 19.
4. The spoiling congregations of t.'t ir right of calling their ministers, and imposing pastors upon them, is not only against the example oi the apostles, but also contrary to the commands of our glorious Head, to our own prayers, and to the very spirit of the gospel. Doth ru t Christ enjoin us in his word to " glorify him in all tilings," to " do all to the glory of God," and to " do all things.to the edisication of his people 1" to " condescend to men of low estate," and to " be gentle towards all men?" Deth he not forbid us to " exercise dominion over the church," to " set at nought cur brother, and rule over his people with rigour?" doth he not command all Christians to " judge of what they hear," to " try the spirits," to " beware of salse prophets?" Are v.ot all ministers and others bound to pray, that u God's name may be hallowed," that " his kingdom may tome," and that " the whole earth may be silled with his glory?" And do not they act the very reverse of these commands and prayers, who would in a magisterrai way intrude ministers upon Christian congregations, and thereby stop the spreading of his goipel, the conversion of sculs, and the increase of his kingdom ^pon tarth? Are sorced settlements agreeable' to the ir.eekness and gentleness of Christ our Master and PatUrn? Or are they like the mild disposition and condescensions seensions of the apostle Paul, who used the most tender, soft and condescending methods to advance the gospel among men, and was willing to " become all things to all men for their spiritual good?" and, when he saw it needsul for the winning of their souls, he laid aside his authority, and sell to entreaties and beseechings with them, Rom. xii. 1. 2 Cor v. 20.—x. 1. Philemon 9. 10. And observe what he says, 1 Thess. ii 7. iik "We were gentle among you, as a nurse cherisheth her children;" And (saith he) " we exhorted you as a sather doth his children." Now, as a tender nurse or sather will not impose any upon weak children to seed them, at whom they have the greatest aversion, nor tell them that they shall have no food unless they take it from such hands; su neither ought judicatories to intrude pastors upon dissenting or reclaiming parishes. They pray for the spreading of Christ's glory and kingdom, and theresore should not counteract their prayers, as^they manisestly do by violent settlements; for thus they lay the soundations of strong prejudices in peoples breasts against ministers and the success of the glorious gospel, and frequently drive people quite away^from. the gospel net, to the great increase of ignorance and immorality. This course is directly against the Bible, that forbids us to give any occasion of stumbling or prejudice unto others, whereby their edisication may be hindered, Rom. xiv. 13; 19. Ti. Alas! people have naturally strong enough prejudices against the gospel itself, be the pastor never so acceptable; and what a pity is it that occasion should be given them to conceive prejudice also against the preacher of it? seeing thereby the strong holds of Satan are rendered more impregnable. For how can it be expected that a parish will be free of stumbling or prejudice against a man that makes it his business to obtain a right to their stipend, and will not part with it when they show the utmost aversion to him, but gets himself, v« £3* tnodis, thrust in upon them? Will they not be ready to look upon him as " an earthly minded man, greedy of silthy lucre," that thrusts himself into the " priest's ofsice for a piece of bread," that seeks the fleece more than the
flock, flork, " and minds His own things more than the things of Jesus Christ?" Is not thife the way to bring both the person and ministry of such a man into contempt among the people, to shut their ears against his admonitions, and render his labours among them unsuccesssul i Wherea9, should a minister come among a people by their call, he has a sair door opened to him to promote their salvation: they think themselves bound to attend his ministry, receive him into their houses, hearken to his counsels, and submit to his reproofs; and so the gospel hath free course among that people.
5. Seeing the right of Christians to judge for themselves in matters of religion is undeniably secured to them both by the light of nature and of revelation; they must consequently have an interest in the choice of their teachers. For if a man may judge for himself concerning the schemes of doctrine and ways of salvation laid besore him, and may preser one to another: it must follow, that he hath alsu a right to judge who is sittest to instruct him according to it; otherwise he might fall into the hands of those who would lead him into schemes quite opposite to what he hath chosen. It is evident that both Scripture and reason allow men a judgment of discretion about the pastors to whom they are to commit the instructing, guiding, and edifying of their precious fouls. That text is plain for it, in 1 John iv. 1. " Beloved, believe not every spirit, but , try the spirits whether they be of God: because many salse prophets are gone out into the world." Likewise that text, Mat. vii. 15. 16 4* Beware of salse prophets, which come to you in sheeps clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits." And that in j John, ver. 10. "If there come any to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not." From all which texts it is evident, that Christians have right to judge concerning those who bring them true gospel doctrine, and whom they are to receive, and whom not. The Bereans are highly commended for their using this right, Acts xvii. 11. And Christ declares it to be the privilege of his people to distinguish the voice of a stranger or hireling from the voice of a