The Glory of a True Church- Of private Offences of one Brother against another
Of private Offences of one Brother against another
1. As touching private Offences, the Rule Mat. 18. is to be observed, only this by the way must be premised, viz. if but one Brother or two have the knowledge of some Members Crime, yet if it be publickly known to the World, and the Name of God be reproached, it being an immoral act, a private Brother is not to proceed with such an Offender, according to Mat. 18. but forthwith to bring it to the Church, that the publick Scandal may be taken off.
2. But if it be a private Offence or Injury done to a Brother or Sister in particular, and not being a notorious scandalous Sin, that Brother must not mention it to one Soul, either within, or without the Church, until he hath proceeded according to the Rule.
(1.) He must tell his Brother his Fault. Moreover, if thy Brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault betwixt thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy Brother.63
Thou must labour in Love and all Affections to convince him of his Fault; but if he will not hear thee,
(2.) Thou must take one or two more, but besure see they are discreet Persons, and such that are most likely to gain upon him; and they with thee are to labour with all Wisdom to bring him to the sense of his Fault: ’tis not just to speak to him, as if that were enough; no, no, but to take all due Pains, and to strive to convince him, that so the matter may be issued, and the Church not troubled with it: But if he will not hear thee, take one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three Witnesses every word may be established.64
(3.) But if he will not hear them after all due Means and Admonitions used, then it must be brought to the Church; and if he will not hear the Church, he must be cast out: The Elder is to put the Question, whether the offending Brother be in their Judgments incorrigible, and refuseth to hear the Church; which passing in the Affirmative by the Vote of the Congregation, or the Majority of the Brethren by the lifting up of their Hands, or by their Silence; the Pastor after calling upon God, and opening the nature of the Offence, and the Justness of their Proceedings, in the Name and by the Authority of Christ, pronounces the Sentence of Excommunication to this effect.
That A.B. being guilty of great Iniquity, and not manifesting unfeigned Repentance, but refusing to hear the Church, I do in the Name, and by the Authority of Christ committed unto me as Pastor of this his Church, pronounce and declare that he is to be, and is hereby excommunicated, excluded or cast out of the Congregation, and no longer to be owned a Brother, or a Member of this Church; and this for the destruction of the Flesh, that his Spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.65
And this we believe is the substance of that which the Apostle calls a delivering up to Satan, he being cast into the World, which is called the Kingdom of Satan, where he rules and reigns.
“The delivery unto Satan (saith Dr. Chauncy) signifies only the solemn Exclusion of a Person from the Communion of the Church, the Visible Kingdom of Christ, and disinfranchizing him, or divesting him of all visible Right to Church Privileges, casting him into the Kingdom of the World, where the Prince of Darkness rules in the Children of Disobedience.” And this being done, he is to be esteemed to be not better than an Heathen Man, or Publican, or as an evil Person, and not to have so much as intimate civil Communion withal.66
Benjamin Keach- The Glory of a True Church, And its Discipline Displayed (1697)