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suppose neither to be popish nor antichristian, let our opposers say it as oft as they can, without reckoning the apostles such.

Secondly, Forasmuch as all are not called in the same station; some rich, some poor, some servants, some masters, some married, some unmarried, some widows, and some orphans, and so forth; it is not only convenient, but absolutely needful, that there be certain meetings at certain places and times, as may best suit the conveniencies of such, who may be most particularly concerned in them; where both those that are to take care may assemble, and those who may need this care, may come and make known their necessities, and receive help, whether by counsel or supply, according to their respective needs. This doth not at all contradict the principle of being led inwardly and immediately by the Spirit; else how came the apostle in that day of the powerful pouring forth of the Spirit of God, to set apart men for this purpose? Sure, this was not to lead them from their inward guide; yea, on the con. trary, it is expressly said, Acts 6. 3. Look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost, and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. Sure they were not to undertake a business, being full of the Holy Ghost, which might import a contradiction to their being led by it: so we see it is both fit and suitable to the apostle's doctrine, to have meetings about business. Now if any should be so whimsical or conceited, as to scruple their being at set pla ces and times, though these be nothing relative to the essential parts, but only circumstances re

lating to the conveniency of our persons, (which we must have regard to, so long as we are clothed with flesh and blood: and such notionists, as are against this godly care, work far more in their vain imaginations, than they reduce to practice; being like unto such of whom the apostle James testified, who content themselves, with saying to the naked, be clothed; and to the hungry, be fed ; while they offer not, in the least, to minister to them those things which are needful for clothing and feeding of them.) Yet shall we not scruple to make it appear, that it is not without very good ground that we both appoint places and times. And first, as to the place, I say as before, it is with our bodies we must meet, as well as with our spirits; and so, of necessity, we must convey our bodies unto one place, that we may speak and act in those things we meet for: And that must be in some certain place, where all must know where to find it; having herein a regard to the conveniencies and occasions of such as meet. Were it fit, that those of the church of Corinth should go do their business at Antioch, or the Church of Jerusalem at Rome? Nay, surely, God hath not given us our reason to no purpose; but that we should make use of it for his glory, and the good of our brethren, yet always in subjection to his power and spirit. And therefore we have respect to these things in the appointing of our meetings, and do it not without a regard to the Lord, but in a sense of his fear. And so the like as to times, which is no contradicting of the inward leading of the Spirit. Else how came the apostle to appoint a time to the

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Corinthians in their contributions, desiring them, 1 Cor. 16. 2. To lay by them in store upon the first day of the week; yea, saith he not, that he gave the same order to the church of Galatia. I know not how any in reason can quarrel about set times for outward business, it being done in a subjection to God's will, as all things ought to be; or else how can such as so do, but quarrel with the apostle for this imposition (at that rate) upon the churches of Corinth and Galatia? We appoint no set times for the performance of the worship of God, so as to appoint men to preach and pray at such and such set times; though we appoint times to meet together in the name of the Lord, that we may feel his presence, and he may move in and through whom he pleaseth, without limitation. Which practice of meeting together we are greatly encouraged to by the promise of Christ, and our own blessed experience; and also we are severely prohibited to lay it aside by the holy apostle; and also, on the other hand, by the sad experience of such as by negligence or prejudice forsake the assemblies of God's people; upon many of which is already fulfilled, and upon others daily fulfilling, the judgments threatened upon such transgressors: read Heb. 10, from verse 23 to the end; where that duty is so seriously exhorted to, and the contempt of it reckoned a wilful sin, almost (if not altogether) unpardonable; yea, a treading under foot the Son of God, and a doing despite to the Spirit of Grace; which is fulfilled in our day, and proves the lamentable fruits of such as have so back-slidden among us. And therefore having


so much good and real ground for what we do herein, together with the approbation and encouragement of Christ and his apostles, both by command and practice, we can (as that both the Alpha and Omega, the foundation and cap-stone required) faithfully affirm in good conscience, that God hath led us by his Spirit, both to appoint places and times, where we may see the faces one of another; and to take care one for another, provoking one another to love and good works. And our faith and confidence herein cannot be staggered by a mere denial in our opposers, which no man of conscience and reason will say it ought; seeing the thing itself hath such a solid and real cause and foundation, so good and suitable a pattern and example, and that it is constantly confirmed to us, both by the testimony of God's Spirit in our hearts, and by the good fruits and effects which we daily reap thereby, as a seal and confirmation that God is well pleased therewith, and approveth us in it.

Having thus far proceeded to shew that there ought to be order and government among the people of God, and that that which we plead for is, that there may be certain meetings set apart for that end; it is next to be considered, in what cases, and how far it may extend.


In what Cases, and how far this Government extends. And first, as to outwards and temporals.

I shall begin with that, which gave the first rise for this order among the apostles; and I do

verily believe, might have been among the first occasions that gave the like among us, and that is, The care of the poor; of widows and orphans. Love and compassion are the great, yea, and the chiefest marks of Christianity. Hereby shall it be known, saith Christ, that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another. And James the apostle places religion herein in the first place: Pure religion, saith he, and undefiled before God and the Father is, to visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions, &c. For this then, as one main end, do we meet together, that enquiry may be made, if there be any poor of the household of faith that need, that they may be supplied; that the widows may be taken care of; that the orphans and fatherless may be bred up and educated. Who will be so unchristian, as to reprove this good order and government, and to say it is needless? But if any will thus object, May not the Spirit lead every one of you to give to them that need? What needs meeting about it, and such formalities?

I answer, The Spirit of God leads us so to do; what can they say to the contrary? Nor is this a practice any ways inconsistent with being inwardly and immediately led by the Spirit; for the Spirit of God doth now, as well as in the days of old, lead his people into those things which are orderly, and of a good report; for he is the God of order, and not of confusion: And therefore the holy apostles judged it no inconsistency with their being led by the spirit, to ap point men full of the holy ghost, and of wisdom, over the business of the poor. Now if to be full

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