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OF SYNODS AND COUNCILS.
For the better government and further edification of the church, there ought to he such assemblies as are commonly called Synods or Councils."
11. The ministers of Christ, of themselves, and by virtue of their office; or they with other fit persons, upon delegation from their churches, have the exclusive right to appoint, adjourn, or dissolve such Synods or Councils: though, in extraordinary cases, it may be proper for magistrates to desire the calling of a Synod of mmisters and other fit persons, to consult and advise with about matters of religion; and in Mich cases, it is the duty of chuiches to comply with their desire.1*
which he received of us. And, if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that lie may be ashamed. Yet, count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. 1 Cor. v. 4, 5,13. In the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, ami my spirit, with the power of our Lord, Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore, put away from among yourselves that wicked person. Mat. xviii. 17. And, if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man, and a publican. Tit. iii. 10. A man, that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject.
I. a Acts xv. 2, 4, 6. When, therefore, Paul and Barnabas had no email dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. And the apostles and the elders came together for to consider of this matter.
II. b Acts xv. 2, 4,22,23,25. (See in letter a.) Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas, sirnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren. And they wrote letters by them after this manner, The apostles, and ciders, ami brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch, and Syria, and Cilicia. It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you, with our beloved Barnabas and Paul. Isa. xlix. 23. And kings shall be thy nursing-fathers, and their queens thy nursing-mothers; they shall
III. It belongeth to Synods and Councils, ministerially to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of his church; to i-eceive complaints in cases of mat administration, and authoritatively to determine the same: which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission, not only for their agreement with the word, but also, for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God, appointed thereunto in his word.c
IV. All Synods or Councils, since the apostles' times, whether general or particular, may err, and many have erred; therefore, they are not to be made the rule of faith or practice, but to be used as a help in both.d
V. Synods and Councils are to handle or conclude nothing but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs, which concern the commonwealth
bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet, and thou shatt know that I am the Lord: for they shall not he ashamed that wait for me. 1 Tim. ii. 1 2. I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks bo made for all men: for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. Mat. ii 4, 5. And when he had gathered all thechief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet. Prov. xi. 14. Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.
III. c Acts xv. 15,19, 24, 27 to 31. (See in the Bible.) Acts xvi. 4. And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders, which were at Jerusalem. Mat. xviii. 17 to 20. And, if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man, and a publican. Verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bonnd 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 any thing that they shall ask, it shall bo 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
IV. i2Eph. ii. 20. And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. Acts xvii. 11. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 1 Cor. ii. 5. That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 2 Cor. i. 24. Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.
unless by way of humble petition, in oases extraordinary; or by way of advice for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.6
OF THE STATE OF MEN AFTER DEATH, AND OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD.
The bodies of men after death return to dust and see corruption ;a but their souls, (which neither die nor sleep,) having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave themb The souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies ;c and the souU of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness, reserved to the judg
V. e Luke xii. 13,14. And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that ho divide the mheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge, or a divider over you? John xviii. 3G. Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
I. a Gen. iii. 19. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return. Acts xiii. 36. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption.
b Luke xxiii. 43. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shatt thou be with me in paradise. Eccl. xii. 7. Then shall tho-dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
c Heb. xii. 23. To the general assembly and church of the firstborn which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect. 2 Cor. v. 1, 6, 7. Her we know, that, if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Therefore, we are always confident, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: We arc confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from tho body, and to be present with the Lord. Phil. i. 23. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far bettor. With Acts iii. 21. Whom the heaven must receive, until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. And Eph. iv. 10. He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.
men* of the great day.d Besides these two places for souls separated from the bodies, the scripture acknowledged none.
II. At the last day, such as are found alive shall not die, but he changed :e and all the dead sb.di be raised op with the self-game bodies, and none other, although with different qualities, which shaH be united again to their souls for ever.f
III. The bodies of the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonour ; the bodies of the just, by his Spirit, unto honour, and be made conformable to bis. own glorious body.?
d Luke xvi. 23, 24. And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in tor' ments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger m water and cool my tongue ; for I am tormented in this flame. Acts i. 25. That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. Jude 6,7. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness. unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. 1 Peter iii. 10: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.
II. e 1 These, iv. 17. Then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 1 Cor. xv. 51, 52. Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, m a moment, in- the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, (for the trumpet shall sound,) and the dead shall bo raised incorruptible, and we shall be changod.
/ Job. xix. 26, 27. And though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself, and mme eyes shall behold, and not another;. though my reins be consumed within mo. 1 Cor. xv. 42, 43, 44. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonour, it is raised, m glory: it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body, it is raised a sniritu&X body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
III. g Acts xxiv. 15. And have hope towards God, which tftey themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead,, both of the just and unjust. John v. 28, 29. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth, they that have dono good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation: 1 Cor. xv. 43. (See in letter/) Phil. iii. 21: Whoshall change-our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto hia glorious body, according to the working wliereby he is able even. to su3s-fce ajl things unto himself.
OF THE LAST JUDGMENT
God hath appointed a day, wherein he will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ," to whom all power and judgment us given of the Father.b In which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged,0 but likewise, all persons that have lived upon earth, shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds, and to receive according to v>hal they have done in the body, whether good or evil.d .
11. The end of God's appointing this day is for the manifestation of the glory of his mercy, in the eternal salvation of the elect, and of his justice in the damnation of thereprobate, who are wicked and disobedient. For then shall the righteous go into everlasting life, and receive that fulness of joy, and refreshing which shall come from the presence of the Lord; but the wicked, who know not God, and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast
I. a Acts xvii. 31. Because he hath appointed a day, in the which ho will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that hebath raised him from the dead.
4 John v. 22, 27. For the Father judgeth ne man; but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. And hath given him authority toexecute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
e 1 Cor. vi: 3. Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much, more things that pertain to this life? Jude 6. (See letter d chapter foregoing.) 2 Pet. ii. 4. For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but oast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.
d 2 Cor. v. 10. For we must atl appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be-good or bad: Ecc). xii. 14. ForGod shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing,, whether it be good, or whether it be evil: Rom. ii. 16. In the day when. God shall jndge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel. Rom. xiv. 10,12. But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at naught thy hrother? for we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Mat. xii. 36, 37. But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt bojustified, andby thy words thou shall be condemned.