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SERM. they did constitute to feed and rule the church; so LVII.
we may reasonably conceive all governors of the church (the heirs of their office) invested with like authority in order to the same purposes, and that correspondent obedience is due to them; so that what blame, what punishment was due to those, who disobeyed the apostles, doth in proportion belong to the transgressors of their duty toward the present governors of the church; especially consi
dering that our Lord promised his perpetual prexxviii. 20.
sence and assistance to the apostles.
We may further observe, that accordingly, in continual succession from the first ages, the good primitive bishops (the great patrons and propagators of our religion) did generally assume such power, and the people readily did yield obedience; wherein that one did wrongfully usurp, the other did weakly comply, were neither probable nor just to suppose : whence general tradition doth also confirm our obligation to this duty.
That this kind of obedience is required doth also further appear from considering the reason of things, the condition of the church, the design of Christian religion.
1. Every Christian church is a society; no society can abide in any comely order, any steady quiet, any desirable prosperity, without government; no government can stand without correspondent obligation to submit thereto.
2. Again; The state of religion under the gospel is the kingdom of heaven; Christ our Lord is king of the church; it he visibly governeth and ordereth by the spiritual governors, as his substitutes and lieutenants; (whence they peculiarly are styled his
ministers, his officers, his stewards, his legates, his SERM. co-workers.) When he ascending up to God's right_LVII. hand was invested with entire possession of that royal state, he settled them to administer affairs concerning that government in his place and name: Ascending up on high he gave gifts unto men.- Eph. iv. 8, He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers: he gave them, that is, he appointed them in their office, subordinate to himself, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. As to him, therefore, ruling by them, by them enacting laws, dispensing justice, maintaining order and peace, obedience is due.
3. Again; For the honour of God, the commenda- (1 Cor. xiv. tion of religion, and benefit of the people, it is need-11t. ii. 10.) ful, that in all religious performances things should, according to St. Paul's rule, be performed decently, 1 Cor. xiv. and according to order, without unhandsome confusion and troublesome distraction: this cannot be accomplished without a determination of persons, of modes, of circumstances appertaining to those performances ; (for how can any thing be performed decently, if every person hath not his rank and station, his office and work allotted to him; if to every thing to be done, its time, its place, its manner of performance be not assigned, so that each one may know what, when, where, and how he must do?) Such determination must be committed to the discretion and care of some persons, empowered to frame standing laws or rules concerning it, and to see them duly executed; (for all persons without delay, strife, confusion, and disturbance, cannot meddle in it:) with these persons all the rest of the
Phil. ii. 2.
1 Pet. iii. 8,
SERM. body must be obliged to comply; otherwise all such LVII.
determinations will be vain and ineffectual. Such order reason doth recommend in every proceeding; such order especially becometh the grandeur and importance of sacred things; such order God hath declared himself to approve, and love, especially in
his own house, among his people, in matters relating 1 Cor. xiv. to his service; for, He is not, as St. Paul saith,
arguing to this purpose, the God of confusion, but of peace, in all churches of the saints,
4. Again; It is requisite that all Christian brethren should conspire in serving God with mutual
charity, hearty concord, harmonious consent; that, Luufuzo. as the apostles so often prescribed, they should Ομόφρονες. endeavour to keep unity of spirit in the bond of Eph. iv. 3. peace; that they should be likeminded, having the Phil
. i: 2. same love, being of one accord, of one mind, Rom. xv., standing fast in one spirit, with one mind; that 2 Cor. xii. they should walk by the same rule, and mind the 1 Cor. i. 10. same thing; that with one mind and one mouth
they should glorify God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; that they should all speak the same thing; and that there be no divisions among them,
, but that they be perfectly joined together in the
same mind, and in the same judgment; (like those Acts iv. 32. in the Acts, of whom it is said, the multitude of 25. xi. 18. believers had one heart and one soul;) that there 2 Cor. xii." should be no schisms (divisions, or factions) in the Phil . ii. 14. body; that all dissensions, all murmurings, all emu
lations should be discarded from the church: the which precepts, secluding an obligation to obedience, would be impossible and vain ; for (without continual miracle, and transforming human nature, things not to be expected from God, who apparently
designeth to manage religion by ordinary ways of SERM. human prudence, his gracious assistance concurring)
LVII. no durable concord in any society can ever effectually be maintained otherwise than by one public reason, will, and sentence, which may represent, connect, and comprise all; in defect of that every one will be of a several opinion about what is best, each will be earnest for the prevalence of his model and way; there will be so many lawgivers as persons, so many differences as matters incident; nothing will pass smoothly and quietly, without bickering and jangling, and consequently without animosities and feuds : whence no unanimity, no concord, scarce any charity or good-will can subsist.
5. Further; In consequence of these things common edification requireth such obedience: it is the duty of governors to order all things to this end, that is, to the maintenance, encouragement, and improvement of piety; for this purpose their authority was given them, as St. Paul saith, and therefore it 2 Cor. xiii. must be deemed thereto conducible: it is indeed very necessary to edification, which, without discipline guiding the simple and ignorant, reclaiming the erroneous and presumptuous, cherishing the regular, and correcting the refractory, can nowise be promoted.
Excluding it, there can be no means of checking or redressing scandals, which to the reproach of religion, to the disgrace of the church, to the cor- 1 Tim. i.19. rupting the minds, and infecting the manners of Tím. ii. men, will spring up and spread. Neither can there 16, 17, 18. be any way to prevent the rise and growth of pernicious errors or heresies; the which assuredly in a state of unrestrained liberty the wanton and wicked
10. X. 8.
2 Tim. ii. 17.
SERM. minds of men will breed, their licentious practice
will foster and propagate, to the increase of all
which they ought not for filthy lucre's sake; the
Where things are not managed in a stable, quiet,
emulation and strife will certainly grow, and from Jam. iii. 16. them all sorts of wickedness; for where, saith St.
James, there is emulation and strife, there is con-
All those benefits, which arise from holy com-
order. The cement of discipline wanting, the church 1 Pet. ii. 5. will not be like a spiritual house, compacted of
lively stones into one goodly pile; but like a com-
So considering the reason of things, this obedience
Consider obedience, what it is, whence it springs,