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often as they pass from one particular church to another, unless they are provided with the most satisfactory testimonials from some other orthodox church; this being apparently the only means by which discipline can be adequately maintained, or prevented from sinking into gradual decline and dissolution.
The custom of holding assemblies is to be maintained, not after the present mode, but according to the apostolical institution, which did not ordain that an individual, and he a stipendiary, should have the sole right of speaking from a higher place, but that each believer in turn should be authorized to speak, or prophesy, or teach, or exhort, according to his gifts; insomuch that even the weakest among the brethren had the privilege of asking questions, and consulting the elders and more experienced members of the congregation. 1 Cor. xiv. 26, &c. when ye come together, every one of you,' &c.
This custom was derived by the apostles from the synagogue, and transferred by them to the churches. Luke i. 46. hearing them, and asking them questions.'* iv. 16. he stood up for to read. Compare also other places where Christ is related to have taught in the synagogue, and even in the temple, Matt. xxvi. 55. John vii. 14. a permission which was granted to him, not as Christ, but simply as a gifted individual, in the same manner as it was afterwards granted to the apostles. Acts xiii, 5. “they preached
At our great feast
Paradise Regained, 1. 210.
the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews.' v. 15. "after the reading of the law and the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on. These rulers of the synagogue were persons appointed to see that all things were done in order. Mark v. 22. one of the rulers of the synagogue.' Luke viii, 41. 'a ruler of the synagogue.' xiii, 14. 'the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day.' Acts xiii. 15. as above, &c.
Women, however, are enjoined to keep silence in the church. 1 Cor. xiv. 34, 35. let your women keep silence in the churches, for it is not permitted unto them to speak, but they are commanded to be under obedience, as saith the law (Gen. iii, 16.); and if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home ; for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.' 1 Tim. ii. 11, 12. let the woman learn in silence in all subjection : but I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."*
* The texts quoted in this paragraph appear to have been in Milton's mind in that passage of Paradise Lost, where Eve is represented as retiring from table as soon as she perceived from Adam's countenance that the conversation was beginning to assume an abstruse cast:
Such pleasure she reserved,
Chose rather. VIII.50. This same decorum is observed subsequently, when Eve is not permitted to see the vision which Michael displays to Adam from the highest hill of
The administration of discipline is called, the power of the keys ;'* a power not committed to Peter and his successors exclusively, or to any individual pastor specifically, but to the whole particular church collectively, of whatever number of members composed. Matt. xvi, 19. “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven, compared with xviii, 17—20. tell it unto the church.......Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven: again, I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth, as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven: for where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.' John xx, 22, 23. when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.' 1 Cor. v. 4. when ye are gathered together, and my spirit.? 2 Cor. ii. 7, 8. “ye ought rather to forgive him...... wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.' Rev. ii. 7, 8. these things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth ; and shutteth, and no man openeth........behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.'
Paradise. On descending from the specular inount' to the bower where
Thou, at season fit,
* 'Surely much rather might the heavenly niinistry of the evangel bind himself about with far more piercing beams of inajesty and awe, by wanting the beggarly help of halings and amercements in the use of her powerful keye. Reason of Church Government urged against Prelaty. Prose Works, 1. 131. “The church in all ages, primitive, Romish, or Protestant, held it ever no less their duty, than the power of their keys,' &c. Tenure of Kings and Magistrates. Ibid. 290.
The administration of discipline consists, first, in receiving and treating with gentleness the weak or lapsed members of the church. Rom. xiv. 1. him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. Gal. vi. 1. • brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.' Matt. ix, 16. no man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment ; for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.' John xvi. 12. • I have yet many things to say unto you,
but not bear them now. 1 Thess. v. 14. comfort the feeble-minded, support the weak.' Jude 22, 23. of some have compassion, making a difference.' It was for the sake of such that those temporary decrees were made, Acts xv. For similar reasons Paul circumcised Timothy, xvi. 3. and purified himself in the temple, xxi. 26.
Secondly, in composing differences between the brethren, Matt. xviii. 17. “if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the church.'
Thirdly, in admonishing, or openly rebuking grievous offenders. 1 Tim. v. 20. them that sin rebuke before all.' Tit. iii. 10. a man that is an
heretic, after the first and second admonition reject.' 1 Cor. iv. 21. shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?" 2 Cor. ii. 6. • sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. 1 Thess. v. 14. “warn them that are unruly.' 1 Tim. v. 1. “rebuke not an elder.' 3 John 10. if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth.'
Fourthly, in separating the disobedient from the communion of the church. Rom. xvi. 17. I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them.' 1 Cor. v. 11. • with such an one no not to eat. 2 Thess. iii. 6. we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.' v. 14. “if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.' 2 John 10, 11. (if there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed; for he that biddeth him God speed, is partaker of his evil deeds.' Rev. ii. 14. · I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam.
Or even, lastly, in ejecting them from the church ;* not however for their destruction, but rather for their
* Quos ecclesiæ est e cætu fidelium rjicere, non magistratuum e civitate pellere, siquidem in leges civiles non peccant.' Pro Populo Anglicano Defensio. Prose Works, V. 47. The various degrees of church censure, its design, and its effects, are described in a most eloquent passage of the treatise on Church Government, &c. I. 140-142. Compare also p. 53, 54. of Reformation in England.