The Glory of a True Church- Of Scandalous Persons guilty of gross Acts of Immorality
Of Scandalous Persons guilty of gross Acts of Immorality
If any Member fall into any gross Acts of Sin, as Swearing, Lying, Drunken ness, Fornication, Covetousness, Extortion, or the like, and it is known and publickly spread abroad to the great scandal and reproach of Religion, and of the Holy Name of God, his Church, and People; the said Offender so charged, the Church must send one or two Brethren to him to come before the Congregation: if he will not come, but doth fight and contemn the Authority of the Church, that will bring farther Guilt upon him, for which Offence he incurs the Censure before-mentioned. But if he doth appear, his Charge is to be laid before him, and the Witnesses called; and after he has made his Defence, and said all he hath to say, and the Congregation finds him Guilty, then the same Censure is to pass upon him, to the end he may be brought to unfeigned Repentance, and the Name of God cleared; and some time must be taken to make it appear that he hath true Repentance, by the Reformation of his Life and holy walking afterwards, before he be received again, and the Censure of the Church in a solemn manner be taken off.
Dr. Chauncy puts this Question,
Quest. ‘How is a Church to proceed in case of open and notorious Scandals?’
The Answer is, ‘the matter of Fact, as such, being beyond all question; the Church is to proceed immediately to censure, to vindicate the Honour of Christ and his Church, and to manifest to the World their just Indignation against such Notorious Offenders, and wait for a well-grounded and tryed Evidence of his true Repentance under that Ordinance of Christ which is appointed to that end.’67
Observe, It is the opinion of the Doctor, that tho the Person be penitent, yet because his Sin is open and scandalous, he ought to be cast out to vindicate the Honour of Christ and the Church, as part of his just Punishment (that being one reason of the Ordinance of Excommunication) as well as to bring the Person to thorough Repentance; and we are of his Mind. Paul takes no notice in the case of the Incestuous Person of his immediate Repentance; or if he repent not, then, &c. But says he, deliver such a one to Satan, &c. Saith the Lord, if her Father had but spit in her Face, should she not be ashamed seven Days? Let her be shut out from the Camp Seven Days: (speaking of Miriam) and after that let her be received in again.68
Benjamin Keach- The Glory of a True Church, And its Discipline Displayed (1697)