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POWER and AUTHORITY of GOD'S SPIRIT, in Governing his CHURCH, teftified to.
By one whom it hath pleased the Lord to make a Member of the Church, which he hath gathered, and preferveth by his own Almighty Arm; who accounteth it his Duty and Honour in the Lord, to be fubject to the Government and Ordering of his Spirit and Power in his Church,
That ye fubmit yourselves unto fuck, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth, 1 COR. xvi. 16.
Obey them that have the rule over you, and fubmit yourselves; for they watch for your fouls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you, HEB. Xiii. 17. Likewife, ye younger, fubmit yourselves unto the elder; yea, all of you be fubject one to another, and be cloathed with humility: for God refifteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble, I PETER V. 5.
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excefs: but be filled with the Spirit, and Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God, EPHES. V. 18. 21.
PON occafion of the fuffering of our dear friends and brethren in New-England, cruel imprisonments, many hard ufages, and at last (fome of them) death itself, for their obedience and faithful teftimony to the Lord, and his precious truth; and because of the undue covering thereof, by the grounds and caufes produced to juftify their proceedings; I was engaged to fhew the nakedness and unreafonablenefs thereof, in a book, intituled, "An Examination of the Grounds or Causes, which are faid to "induce the Court of Boston in New-England, to make that Order or Law "of Banishment upon pain of Death against the QUAKERS, &c." Whereunto somewhat was added (being very proper to the fubject in hand) about the authority and government which Chrift excluded out of his church, which alfo occafioned fomewhat concerning the true church-government.
Now this latter part (about church-government) hath been fo mifreprefented, as if, because the wrong church-government was excluded, the exclufion of all church-government was intended by me, there being no notice taken of my owning the true church-government, but only fome paffages of my difowning the falfe produced, as if they intended to overturn and deny all church-government, which never was intended by me: for in that very book, which is thus made use of, I did pofitively affirm the neceffity and use of the true church-government, which may more fully appear in that which hereafter follows.
MISREPRESENTATIONS of ME,
NOR the manifefting that I am mifreprefented, and the clearing of my innocency from thofe mifrepresentations, this is on my heart;
First, To fet down those words which John Pennyman hath cited out of that part of my book which speaks of the authority and government which Chrift excluded out of his church.
Secondly, To add fomewhat, in way of confirmation of that truth and tender fenfe, which was then upon my heart.
Thirdly, To propofe fome questions, as I fhall find them arife in my heart, further to open and manifeft the intent of my heart in this thing.
Fourthly, To annex fomewhat, which is mentioned and immediately added in the very fame part of the book, concerning true churchgovernment; which plainly manifefteth that I was not against the true church government, nor did mention or intend any of those things to hinder, deny, or oppofe the true church-government, of which I do there infer an abfolute neceffity.
Fifthly, It is on my heart to add a few confiderations further, concerning the neceffity, usefulness, and benefit of the true church-govern
The first words John Pennyman cites out of this part of my book, concerning the authority and government which Chrift excluded out of his church, from Matt. xx. 25. to 29. are thefe.
Here Chrift cuts off that power and authority, which grows up in the corrupt nature of man, which was ever and anon Springing up even in the disciples; bere be wholly excludes it out of his church, and faith exprefs, be would have no fuch thing amongst them, no fuch kind of greatness, no fuch kind of authority.
Confirm. It is the full belief of my heart, that Chrift hath cut off that power and authority which grows up in the corrupt nature of man, and wholly excluded it out of his church, even very exprefly in this forecited fcripture; plainly fignifying therein, that he would have no fuch kind of greatnefs, no fuch kind of authority among his gathered and chofen people.
Queft. But doth this fignify or imply, that he would have no authority at all? Doth this exclude the authority and government of his Spirit and power in his church? Doth not he, notwithstanding this, fay, Go tell the church? And enjoin the members of the church to hear the church, upon the penalty of being accounted Heathens and publicans? And did not the Holy Ghoft make and appoint overfeers over the church? As xx. 28. And what is an overfeer? Or in what were they to overfee? Were they not to overfee in the true light, to which every child of light is to be subject? And they that did refift the light, Spirit, and power of the Holy Ghost in any of the overfeers; were they not unruly, and departers from the light in themselves; though they might pretend they were ftill for the light, and that it was the overfeers that were departed and erred from it?
The next Words he cites are thefe :
WO things are bere excluded by Chrift, from whence all the mischief arifeth in the church, all the tyranny and oppression of mens confciences, and of their perfons, eftates and liberties for confcience-fake. Firft, Greatnefs: Secondly, The exercifing dominion and authority by thofe that would be great therein.
Confirm. It is my belief, that all the mischief in the church, tyranny, and oppreffion of mens confciences, and of their perfons, eftates, and liberties for confcience-fake, doth arife from a wrong greatnefs, and from the exercifing of a wrong dominion and authority, by thofe that would be great therein; and that these two things are here excluded by Chrift, in the forementioned scripture.
Queft. But is there not a true greatnefs? Thofe that lie low before the Lord, and have humbled themselves under his mighty hand; doth not the Lord exalt them in due time, filling them with his Spirit, life, virtue, and power? And is not that great in them? And are they not highly favoured, and exalted in the eye of the Lord therein? (Oh! none knows how great thofe are in the eye of the Lord, who are poor and low, and nothing in
their own eyes!) And is there not a true authority and dominion of God's Spirit in the church in general, as well as in the particular, over the spirit and power of darkness? Because of which Spirit, because of which power, because of which holy authority and dominion, the gates of hell fhall not be able to prevail against it.
His next citation is this (which though fomewhat long, I am willing to recite punctually, that my innocency may the more appear.)
HIS fpirit must be kept out from among ft you, this afpiring fpirit, this lofty, ruling fpirit, which loves to be great, which loves to have dominion, which would exalt itself because of the gifts it hath received, and would bring others into fubjection; this spirit must be fubdued among ft Chrift's difciples, or it will ruin all. The Lord gives grace and knowledge for another end, than for men to take upon them to be great, and rule over others becaufe of it. And he, that because of this, thinks himself fit to rule over other mens confciences, and to make them bow to what he knows, or takes to be truth, be lofeth his own life thereby; and fo far as he prevails upon others, be doth but deftroy their life too. Therefore the difciples, or church of Christ, are to watch over every fuch fpirit; to beat it down, to testify against it, to turn from it, to lay it flat, to put it in its proper place, that is, beneath all, and fo not to fuffer it to arife.
Before I come to the confirmation of this, I judge it meet to fet down the foregoing claufe or paragraph omitted by him, which will very much help to clear the naked drift and intent of these words. The foregoing paragraph runs thus:
Such a kind of greatness as is in the world, is the deftruction of the life of Chrift; and fuch a kind of dominion and authority as is among the nations, is a direct overturning of the kingdom of Chrift. It fets up another power than Chrift's, another greatness than Christ's, another kind of authority than Chrift's; and fo eats out the virtue and life of his kingdom, and makes it juft like one of the kingdoms of this world.
This (which immediately went before) being thus added, may fufficiently open the thing of itself. Yet for further fatisfaction, I fhall add a confirmation to the truth of that which he hath cited; and that in feveral particulars, because of the length of the citation.
Confirm. First, An afpiring spirit, a lofty, ruling fpirit, which loves to be great, which loves to have dominion, which would exalt itfelf, &c. must be kept out from among the difciples and church of Chrift. There must not be fuch a fpirit, or loving to be great, or fuch a ruling among them, VOL. II. Dddd