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And thirdly, The consequence and tendency of them.

But before I proceed upon these, I affirm, and that according to truth, that as the church and assembly of God's people may, and hath power to decide by the Spirit of God in matters fundamental and weighty (without which no decision nor decree in whatever matters is available) so the same church and assembly also, in other matters of less moment, as to themselves (yet being needful and expedient with a respect to the circumstance of time, place and other things that may fall in) may and hath power by the same spirit, and not otherwise, being acted, moved and assisted, and led by it thereto, to pronounce a positive judgment: which, no doubt, will be found obligatory upon all such who have a sense and feeling of the mind of the Spirit, though rejected by such as are not watchful, and so are out of the feeling and unity of the life. And this is that which none that own immediate revelation, or a being inwardly led by the Spirit, to be now a thing expected or dispensed to the saints, can, without contradicting their own principle, deny; far less such with whom I have to do in this matter, who claiming this privilege to particulars; saying, That they being moved to do such and such things, though contrary to the mind and sense of their brethren, are not to be judged for it; adding, Why may it not be so, that God hath moved them to it? Now if this be a sufficient reason for them to suppose as to one or two, I may without absurdity suppose it as well to the whole body. And therefore as to the first, to wit,

The nature of the things themselves. If it be such a thing, the doing or not doing whereof, that is, either any act, or the forbearance of any, may bring a real reproach or ground of accusation against the truth professed and owned, and in and through which there may a visible schism and dissention arise in the church, by which truth's enemies may be gratified, and itself brought into disesteem; then it is fit for such, whose care is to keep all right, to take inspection in the matter, to meet together in the fear of God, to wait for his counsel and to speak forth his mind, according as he shall manifest himself in and among them. And this was the practice of the primitive church in the matter of circumcision. For here lay the debate: some thought it not needful to circumcise the Gentiles; others thought it a thing not to be dispensed with: and no doubt of these (for we must remember they were not the rebellious Jews, but such as had already believed in Christ) there were that did it out of conscience, as judg ing circumcision to be still obligatory. For they said thus, except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. Now what course took the church of Antioch in these cases? Acts 15. 2. They determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain other of them should go unto Jerusalem, unto the apostles and elders, about this question. We must not suppose they wanted the Spirit of God at Antioch to have decided the matter, neither that these apostles neglected or went from their inward guide in undertaking this journey; yet we see, they judged it meet in this matter to have the advice and con.


currence of the apostles and elders that were at Jerusalem, that they might be all of one mind in the matter. For there is no greater property of the Church of Christ, than pure unity in the Spirit; that is, a consenting and oneness in judgment and practices in matters of faith and worship (which yet admits of different measures, growths and motions, but never contrary and contradictory ones; and in these diversities of operations, yet still, by the same spirit, the true liberty is exer. cised, as shall be declared hereafter :) therefore prayeth Christ, That they all may be one, as he and the Father is one. To which purpose also let these following Scriptures be examined:

Rom. 12. 16. Be of the same mind one towards another.



1. Cor. 1. 10. Now I beseech you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Ephes. 5. 21. Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Phil. 2. 2. Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

And yet more remarkable is that of the apostle Paul to the Philippians, chap. 3. verse 15, Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded; and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

16. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

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17. Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so, as ye have us for an example.

So here, though the apostle grants forbearance in things wherein they have not yet attained; yet he concludes they must walk so, as they have him for an example, and so consequently, not contrary, or otherwise. And therefore we conclude, that whereas any in the Church of God pretending conscience or revelation, shall arise to teach and practise (however insignificant or small in themselves) whether principles or practices, yet if they be contrary to such as are already received as true, and confirmed by God's Spirit in the hearts of the saints, and that the introducing of these things tend to bring reproach upon the truth, as such as are not edifying in themselves, and so stumble the weak; those who have a true and right discerning, may, in and by the power of God authorizing them (and no otherwise) condemn and judge such things: and they so doing it, it will be obligatory upon all the members that have a true sense, because they will feel it to be so, and therefore submit to it. And thus far as to the nature of the things themselves. Secondly, As to the spirit and ground they proceed from. Whatsoever innovation, difference, or divers appearance, whether in doctrine or practice, proceedeth not from the pure moving of the Spirit of God, or is not done out of pure tenderness of conscience, but either from that, which being puft up, affecteth singularity, and there-through would be observed, commended and exalted; or from that, which is the malignity

of some humours and natural tempers, which will be contradicting without cause, and secretly begetting of divisions, animosities and emulations, by which the unity and unfeigned love of the brethren is lessened or rent; I say, all things proceeding from this root and spirit, however little they may be supposed to be of themselves, are to be guarded against, withstood and denied, as hurtful to the true church's peace, and a hindrance to the prosperity of truth.

If it be said, How know ye that these things proceed from that ground?

For answer, I make not here any application, as to particular persons or things; but if it be granted, (as it cannot be denied,) that there may arise persons in the true church, that may do such things from such a spirit, though pretending conscience and tenderness; then it must also be acknowledged, that such, to whom God hath given a true discerning by his Spirit, may and ought to judge such practices, and the spirit they come from, and have no unity with them; which if it be owned in the general, proves the case, to wit, That some pretending conscience in things seeming indifferent, but yet it proceeding in them from a spirit of singularity, emulation, or strife, those that have received a discerning thereof from the Lord, may and ought to judge thetransgressors, without being accounted imposers, oppressors of conscience, or inforcers of unifor mity, contrary to the mind of Christ; against which the apostle also guardeth the churches of


Phil. 2. 3. 4. Let nothing be done through

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