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EXTRACTS FROM THE PREFACE.
The more we discern the unkind, and unbrotherly, and unchristian contentions of our godly brethren and countrymen in matters of church government, the more earnestly do we desire to see them join together in one common faith, and ourselves with them. For this end, having perused the public Confession of Faith, agreed upon by the reverend assembly of divines at Westminster, and finding the sum and substance thereof, in matters of doctrine, to express not their own judgments only, but ours also; and being likewise called upon by our godly magistrates, to draw up a public confession of that faith which is constantly taught, and generally professed amongst us; we thought good to present unto them, and with them to our churches, and with them to all the churches of Christ abroad, our professed and hearty assent and attestation to the whole Confession of Faith (for substance of doctrine) which the reverend assembly presented to the religious and honorable parliament of England : excepting only some sections which concern points of controversy in church discipline; touching which we refer ourselves to the draft of church discipline in the ensuing treatise.
The truth of what we here declare may appear by the unanimous vote of the Synod of the Elders and Messengers of our churches, assembled at Cambridge, the last of the sixth month, 1648, which jointly passed in these words : This synod having perused and considered, with much gladness of heart, and thankfulness to God, the Confession of Faith, published of late by the reverend assembly in England, do judge it to be very
holy, orthodox, and judicious in all matters of faith ; and do therefore freely and fully consent thereunto, for the substance thereof. Only in those things which have respect to church government and discipline, we refer ourselves to the Platform of Church Discipline, agreed upon by this present assembly; and do therefore think it meet, that this Confession of Faith should be commended to the churches of Christ amongst us, and to the honored court, as worthy of their due consideration and acceptance.
The Lord Jesus commune with all our hearts in secret, and he who is the king of his church, let him be pleased to exercise his kingly power in our spirits, that so his kingdom may come into our churches in purity and peace. Amen.
of the form of church government; and that it is one, immutable, and
prescribed in the word. 1. ECCLESIASTICAL polity, or church government or discipline, is nothing else but that form and order that is to be observed in the church of Christ upon earth, both for the constitution of it, and all the administrations that therein are to be performed. Ezek. xliii. 11. Col. ii. 5. 1 Tim. iii. 15.
2. Church government is considered in a double respect, either in regard of the parts of government themselves, or necessary circumstances thereof. The parts of government are prescribed in the word, because the Lord Jesus Christ, the king and lawgiver of his church, is no less faithful in the house of God than was Moses, who from the Lord delivered a form and pattern of government to the children of Israel in the Old Testament: and the holy Scriptures are now also so perfect, as they are able to make the man of God perfect, and thoroughly furnished unto every good work; and therefore doubtless to the well ordering of the house of God. Heb. iii. 5, 6. Exod. xxv. 40. 2 Tim. iii. 16.
3. The parts of church government are all of them exactly described in the word of God, being parts or means of instituted worship, according to the second commandment, and therefore to continue one and the same unto the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, as a kingdom that cannot be shaken, until he shall deliver it
ap unto God, even the Father. So that it is not left in the power of men, officers, churches, or any state in the world to add, or diminish, or alter any thing in the least measure therein.
I Tim. iii. 15. I Chron. xv. 13. Ex. xx. 4. 1 Tim. vi. 13, 16. Heb. xii. 27, 28. 1 Cor. xv. 24. Deut. xii. 32. Ezek. xliii. 8. 1 Kings, xii. 31-33.
4. The necessary circumstances, as time and place, &c., belonging unto order and decency, are not so left unto men, as that under pretence of them they may thrust their own inventions upon the churches, being circumscribed in the word with many general limitations, where they are determined in respect of the matter, to be neither worship itself, nor circumstances separable from worship. In respect of their end, they must be done unto edification. In respect of the manner, decently and in order, according to the nature of the things themselves, and civil and church custom. Doth not even nature itself teach you? Yea, they are in some sort determined particularly, namely, that they be done in such a manner, as, all circumstances considered, is most expedient for edification : so, as if there be no error of man concerning their determination, the determining of them is to be accounted as if it were divine.
2 Kings, xii. Ex xx. 19. Isa. xxviii. 13. Col. i. 22, 23. Acts, xv. 28. Matt. xv. 9. I Cor. xi. 23, and viii. 34. 1 Cor. xiv. 26, and xiv. 40, and xi, 14, 16, and xiv. 12, 19. Acts, xv. 28.
Of the nature of the catholic church in general, and in special of a particular
1. The catholic church is the whole company of those that are elected, redeemed, and in time effectually called from the state of sin and death, unto a state of grace
and salvation in Jesus Christ. Eph. i. 22, 23, and v. 25, 26, 30.' Heb. xii. 23.
2. This church is either triumphant, or militant. Triumphant, the number of them who are glorified in