Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

Churches, Get a Calvinist Pastor!

March 28, 2017 2 comments

Tom Nettles

Southern Baptists inherited the most compelling aspects of all the Baptist Calvinists that preceded them. James P. Boyce summarized this well. He encouraged every preacher to get theological education in some way, even if it could not be at the Seminary in Greenville, South Carolina. If no other means were available, he advised, “work at it yourself.” The fathers of the convention did this, Boyce claimed; “They familiarized themselves with the Bible, and Gill and Andrew Fuller, and they made good and effective preachers. God is able to raise up others like them.”1 The irony of Boyce’s appeal to the grassroots for support of theological education was this: the seminary would not interrupt, but would perpetuate, the work of pastoral ministry, preaching and theology consistent with the Gill/Fuller tradition.

But this is the very difficulty that we face at this moment in Southern Baptist history. God indeed is raising up others like them, that is,….




Read the entire article here.

Five Lessons Learned from Practicing Church Discipline

February 20, 2017 8 comments

Tom Hicks

I’ve been pastoring for over ten years now, and I believe in practicing church discipline with all my heart. But church discipline has been one of the greatest sorrows and griefs of my pastoral experience. I do not like practicing church discipline, but I believe in doing it because Christ commands it (Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; Galatians 6:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:13-14), and because it is one of the ways pastors are called to love and serve the church. The Second London Baptist Confession rightly says, “He has given [churches] all that power and authority, which is in any way needful for their carrying on that order in worship and discipline, which he has instituted for them to observe” (26.7). For several years at my church, it seemed as though we had one case of church discipline after another. Here are some of the lessons I have learned in the practice of church discipline.




Read the entire article here.

The Solemn Covenant of the Church of Christ, meeting in White-street, at it’s Constitution; June, 5, 1696

The Solemn Covenant of the Church of Christ, meeting in White-street, at it’s Constitution; June, 5, 1696

We who desire to walk together in the Fear of the Lord, do, through the Assistance of his Holy Spirit, profess our deep and serious Humiliation for all our Transgressions. And we do also solemnly, in the Presence of God, of each other, in the Sense of our own Unworthiness, give up our selves to the Lord, in a Church state according to the Apostolical Constitution that he may be our God, and we may be his People, through the Everlasting Covenant of his Free grace, in which alone we hope to be accepted by him, through his blessed Son Jesus Christ, whom we take to be our High Priest, to justify and sanctify us, and our Prophet to teach us; and to subject to him as our Law-giver, and the King of Saints; and to conform to all his Holy Laws and Ordinances, for our growth, Establishment, and Consolation; that we may be as a Holy Spouse unto him, and serve him in our Generation, and wait for his second Appearance, as our glorious Bridegroom.159

Being fully satisfied in the way of Church-Communion, and the Truth of Grace in some good measure upon one anothers Spirits, we do solemnly join our selves together in a Holy Union and Fellowship, humbly submitting to the Discipline of the Gospel, and all Holy Duties required of a People in such a Spiritual Relation.160

1. We do promise and ingage to walk in all Holiness, Godliness, Humility, and Brotherly Love, as much as in us lieth to render our Communion delightful to God, comfortable to our selves, and lovely to the rest of the Lord’s People.161

2. We do promise to watch over each other’s Conversations, and not to suffer Sin upon one another, so far as God shall discover it to us, or any of us; and to stir up one another to Love and good Works; to warn, rebuke, and admonish one another with Meekness according to the Rules left to us of Christ in that Behalf.162

3. We do promise in an especial manner to pray for one another, and for the Glory and Increase of the Church, and for the Presence of God in it, and the pouring forth of his Spirit on it, and his Protection over it to his Glory.163

4. We do promise to bear one another’s Burdens, to cleave to one another, and to have a Fellow-feeling with one another, in all Conditions both outward and inward, as God in his Providence shall cast any of us into.164

5. We do promise to bear with one another’s Weakness, Failings, and Infirmities, with much Tenderness, not discovering to any without the Church, nor any within, unless according to Christ’s Rule, and the Order of the Gospel provided in that case.165

6. We do promise to strive together for the Truths of the Gospel, and Purity of God’s Ways and Ordinances, to avoid Causes, and Causers of Division, endeavouring to keep the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace; Ephes. 4.3.166

7. We do promise to meet together on Lord’s Days, and at other times, as the Lord shall give us Opportunities, to serve and glorify God in the way of his Worship, to edify one another and to contrive the good of the Church.167

8. We do promise according to our Ability (or as God shall bless us with the good things of this World) to Communicate to our Pastor or Minister, God having ordained that they that Preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel. (And now can any thing lay a greater obligation upon the Conscience, than this Covenant, what then is the Sin of such who violate it?)168

These and all other Gospel Duties we humbly submit unto, promising and purposing to perform, not in our own Strength, being conscious of our own Weakness, but in the Power, and Strength of the Blessed God, whose we are, and whom we desire to serve: To whom be Glory now and for evermore. Amen.

Benjamin Keach- The Glory of a True Church, And its Discipline Displayed (1697)

The Glory of a True Church- The Conclusion

November 25, 2016 Leave a comment

The Conclusion

Know my Brethren, That God loves the Gates of Sion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob.141 Therefore the publick Worship of God ought to be preferred before private.

1. This supposeth there must be a visible Church.

2. And that they frequently meet together to worship God.

3. That they have an orderly Ministry and one ordained Elder, at least, to administer all Publick Ordinances.

4. Moreover, that all Persons have free liberty to assemble with the Church, and to partake of all Ordinances, save those which peculiarly belong to the Church; as the Lord’s Supper, holy Discipline, and days of Prayer and Fasting. Then the Church of Old separated themselves from all Strangers.142

Yet others may attend on all other publick Ordinances with the Church; as publick Prayer, Reading, and Preaching the Word and in Singing God’s Praises, as hath formerly been proved. May others my Brethren, join in Prayer with us, and not praise God with us?

But, O my Brethren! Let me beseech you to shew your high Value, and Estimation for the publick Worship of God.

[Motives hereunto.]

1. Since God prefers it thus: Or has so great Esteem of his publick Worship.

2. Because he is said to dwell in Sion; It is his Habitation for ever. The place, where his Honour dwells.143

3. Here God is most Glorified. In his Temple every one speaks of his Glory; My Praise shall be in the great Congregation.144

4. Here is most of God’s gracious presence (as one observes it.)

(1.) His effectual Presence, in all Places; Where I record my Name, thither will I come; and there will I bless thee.145

(2.) Here is More of his intimate presence: Where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them.146

(3.)He walks in the midst of the seven Golden Candlesticks.147

5. Here are the clearest manifestations of God’s Beauty, which made holy David desire to dwell there for ever.148 See the appearance of Christ to the Churches, Rev. 2. cap. 3.

6. In that it is said, that those that should be Saved, in the Apostles days, God added unto the Church.149

7. Here is most Spiritual Advantage to be got: Here the Dews of Hermon fall, they descend upon the Mountain of Sion. Here God commands the Blessing, even Life for evermore, I will abundantly bless her Provision, and satisfie her Poor with Bread. Here David’s Doubt was resolved.150

8. Here you received your first spiritual Breath, or Life, many Souls are daily Born to Christ. That good which is most Diffusive, is to be Preferred; but that good which most partake of, is most Diffusive; O magnifie the Lord with me! Let us exalt his Name together.151 Live Coals separated, soon die.

9. Brethren (as a worthy Divine observes) the Church in her publick Worship is the nearest Resemblance of Heaven, especially in Singing God’s Praises. What Esteem also had God’s Worthies of old, for God’s publick Worship? My Soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the Courts of the Lord. How amiable are thy Tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts!152

10. See how the Promises of God run to Sion, or to his Church.153 He will bless thee out of Sion. O let nothing discourage you in your waiting at the Posts of Christ’s Door.154 David desired Rather to be a Door-Keeper in the House of God, than to Dwell in the Tents of Wickedness.155 Yet nevertheless do not neglect, for the Lord’s sake, private Devotion; viz. Secret, and Family Prayer: O pray to be fitted for publick Worship! Come out of your Closets to the Church:156 What signifies all you do in Publick, if you are not such that keep up the Worship of God in your own Families?

O neglect not Prayer, Reading, and Meditation! And take care also to Educate and Catechise your Children; and live as Men and Women that are dead to this World; and walk for the Lord’s Sake as becomes the Gospel.157

See that Zeal and Knowledge go together; a good Conversation and a good Doctrine go together. These Two together, are better than One.

Brethren, he that makes the Word of God his Rule, in whatsoever he doth, and the Glory of God his end in what he doth shall have the Spirit of God to be his strength. This is like Solomon’s Three-fold Cord, that will be One, or it will be Three; it can’t be Two; nor can it be broken.158

Benjamin Keach- The Glory of a True Church, And its Discipline Displayed (1697)

The Glory of a True Church- What tends to the Glory and Beauty of a true Gospel Church

November 18, 2016 Leave a comment

What tends to the Glory and Beauty of a true Gospel Church

That which Primarily tends to the Glory of a Church is the Foundation on which it is Built, which is Jesus Christ. Now this is a blessed and glorious Foundation.117

I. In respect of God the Father, who laid this Foundation in his eternal Purpose, Counsel, and Decree; Behold I lay in Sion:118 and this is as the result of his infinite Wisdom, Love and Mercy to his Elect.

II. In respect had unto Christ himself, who is this Foundation.

(1.) He is a Suitable Foundation.

1st. In respect to the Glory of God in all his Attributes.

2ly. In respect to our Good; the answering all our wants, who are united to him, or built upon him.

3ly. In respect of the preciousness of Christ, as a Foundation; a Stone; a precious Stone.

4ly. In respect to the Durableness of it, i.e. a tryed Stone; a sure Foundation.119

Brethren, a Foundation of a House must of necessity be laid; no House can be built without a good Foundation, that will stand firm, and unmovable; it is the strongest part of the Building, and it beareth all the weight of the whole Superstructure: So doth Jesus Christ.

III. The Beauty and Glory of a true Church, consists in the true and regular, or right Constitution of it; nothing being wanting that is Essential to it, upon this account.

IV. It consisteth in the Excellency, Glory, and Suitableness of the materials ’tis Built with, answering to the Foundation, all precious Stones, lively Stones; all regenerated Persons.120

V. In that all the Stones be well Hewed and Squared; all made fit for the Building, before laid in. Were it thus, there would not be so great a Noise of the Hammer and Ax, in Church Discipline, as indeed there is. It was not thus in the Type, I mean in Solomon’s Temple.121

VI. It’s Beauty and Glory consisteth in that all the Stones being not only united by the Spirit, to Christ the Foundation, but also to one another in sincere Love and Affection. In whom all the Building, fitly Framed together, groweth up unto an holy Temple in the Lord.122

VII. It consisteth in the Holiness and Purity of the Lives and Conversations of all the Members: Be ye Holy, for I am Holy.123 Holiness becomes thy House, O God, for Ever.124

VIII. It consisteth in the sweet Union and Concord that ought to be in the Church; all like the Horses in Pharoah’s Chariot, drawing together:125 Endeavouring to keep the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace.126 By this shall all Men know ye are my Disciples, if you Love one another.

IX. In their having the divine Presence with them: Or when the Glory of God fills his Temple.127.

X. In keeping out all unsanctified, or unclean Persons, or if they get in, to purge them out by a strict and holy Discipline, or else it will soon lose its Beauty.128

XI. In that Zeal and Equality that should be shewed in all to keep up the Honour, Peace, and Comfort of the Church, and the Ministry thereof.129

XII. In the Administration of right Discipline; to see no neglect nor delaying of Justice, thro carelessness, or Partiality: (1.) No ways partaking of other Mens Sins; which may be done by Conniving at it; (2.) By Lessening or Extenuating of it (3.) By Countenancing, or any ways Incouraging any in Sin. (4.) By not Restoring a Brother, that confesses his Sin when overtaken. (5.) Not bringing in a just Charge against an Offender, nor rebuking him; and yet have Communion with him.

2ly. Not to wrest Judgment, out of it’s true and right Channel: Nor to inflict a greater censure than the Law of Christ requires on any.

3ly. Timely to acquit, and discharge a penitent Person.

4ly. Not to do any thing out of Prejudice, but in Love, and Bowels, of affection; and to do all in Christ’s Name, or by his authority.

XIII. To Sympathize with the Afflicted, Succour the Tempted, and Relieving the Poor and Distressed: Rejoicing with them that Rejoice, and Mourning with them that Mourn.

XIV. To speak evil of no Man; not only speaking no evil of their Brethren, but of no Man, to his hurt or injury, detracting from his Worth and Honour: See Sirach, Whether it be to Friend or Foe, talk not of other Men’s Lives; and if thou canst, without Offence, reveal them not.130 We must not discourse his Faults, unless in a Gospel-way; and that too, to amend the Person, and not out of Passion, or Prejudice to expose him, but out of Love to his Soul. Yet we may speak of the evils of others, (1.) When called to do it, in a Legal or Gospel way; and it is a Sin then to conceal his Crime. (2.) Or when it is to prevent another, who is in danger to be Infected by his Company, or ill Example. (3.) Or in our own just Defence and Vindication. Moreover, consider the evil of Reproaching of others.

First as to the causes why some do it.

I. One Cause is from want of Love: Nay from Malice; and Hatred.

1. From the Baseness, ill Nature, and Cruelty of the accusers Disposition.

2. ’Tis occasioned from that itch, of talking and medling in the Affairs of other Men.

3. Or perhaps to raise their own Esteem and Honour, some Degrade their Brother; which is Abominable.

Consider it is theft, or Robbery; nay, and ‘tis worse than to Rob a Man of his Goods, because thou takest away that which perhaps thou canst not restore again.

Moreover consider, That such who reproach others, lay themselves open thereby to Reproach.

4. Moreover know, he that Receives, or Hearkens to the Scandal, is as Guilty as the Accuser; he is like a person that receives Stolen Goods, and so is as bad as the Thief.

This being one of the Grand and Notorious Evils of these Days I speak the more to it.

If you abominate this evil, and avoid it, you will shine in Grace and Vertue the more clearly.

Alas, in our days, some that would be thought to be great Professers stick not to vilifie Christ’s Ministers, even some of the best of Men; and are so full of Malice, they care not what wrong they do to their Brethren, nor to the truth it self, or interest of God, and so expose themselves to a lasting shame, and their Spirit, and Practice, to an abhorrance;131 they are like cursed Cham who discovered his Fathers nakedness;132 these persons violate all Laws, both Humane and Divine.

3ly. When they bear one anothers Burdens, and so fulfill the Law of Christ:133 And that you may do this, consider where is that Church in which there are no Burdens to be Born.

[Motives thus to do.]

1. Consider what a Burden Jesus Christ hath born for thee.

2. What a Burden thou hast to bear of thine own.134

3. Mayst not thou in some things be a Burden to thy Brethren?

4. Wouldst thou not have others bear thy Burden.

5. May not God cause thee to bear a more heavy Burden; because thou canst not bear thy Brother’s?

6. ’Tis a fulfilling the Law of Love, nay the Law of Christ.135

XV. The Glory and Beauty of a Congregation, is the more manifest, when the Authority of the Church, and the Dignity of the Pastoral Office is maintained. How great was the Evil of the gain-saying of Corah?136 The Apostle speaks of some that are Selfwilled Presumptious, who are not afraid to speak evil of Dignities.137

God has put a Glory and high Dignity upon the Church and in it’s Authority and Power; Whom ye bind on Earth shall be bound in Heaven.

Moreover, the Pastoral Office, is an Office of Dignity; they are called Rulers, Angels, Fathers.138 For any therefore to cast contempt on the Church, or Pastor, is a great evil, and a reproach to Christ, and tends to Disorder and Confusion.139

Lastly, When Holiness, Righteousness, Charity, Humility, and all true Piety is prest upon the Consciences of every Member, and appears in the Minister: also that all strive to excell therein, with their uttermost Care and Diligences.140

Benjamin Keach- The Glory of a True Church, And its Discipline Displayed (1697)

The Glory of a True Church- Of Disorders, or causes of Discords, and how to be prevented, corrected, and removed

November 11, 2016 Leave a comment

Of Disorders, or causes of Discords, and how to be prevented, corrected, and removed

I. One cause of Discord is, through the Ignorance in some Members of the Rules of Discipline, and right Government;90 particularly when that Rule in Matth. 18. is not followed.

But one Person takes up an Offence against another, and speaks of it to this or that Person, before he hath told the Brother offending of it; which is a palpable Sin, and a direct violation of Christ’s holy Precept: and such must, as Offenders themselves, be in a Gospel-way dealt with.

To prevent this, the Discipline of the Church should be taught; and the Members informed of their Duties.

II. Another thing that causes Trouble and Disorder in a Church, is want of Love, and tender Affections to one another; as also not having a full sight and sense of the great evil of breaking the Bonds of Peace, and Unity:91 O that all would lay this abominable Evil to Heart, how base a thing it is to break the Peace of a private Family, or Neighbourhood;92 but much more sinful to disturb the Peace of the Church of the living God, and break the bonds of the Unity thereof. Behold, how good, and how pleasant it is, for Brethren to dwell together in Unity!93 But, O how ugly and hateful is the contrary!

III. Another disorderly Practice is this, When one Member or another knows of some sinful act, or evils done by one or more Members, and they conceal it;94 or do not act according to the Rule; pretending they would not be lookt upon as Contentious Persons:95 but hereby they may become guilty of other Men’s Sins, and also suffer the Name of God, and the Church, to lye under Reproach, and all thro their neglect. This is a great Iniquity.

IV. When an Elder, or Church shall know that some persons are Scandalous in their Lives, or Heretical in Judgment, and yet shall bear or connive with them.

V. When Members take liberty to hear at other Places, when the Church is assembled to worship God:96 this is nothing less than a breaking their Covenant with the Church, and may soon dissolve any Church: For by the same Rule, one may take that liberty, another; nay, every Member may. Moreover, it casts a Contempt upon the Ministry of the Church, and tends to cause such who are Hearers to draw off, and to be Disaffected with the Doctrine taught in the Church, (they knowing these Dissenters do belong unto it.) I exhort therefore, in the Name of Christ, this may be prevented: And any of you that know who they are, that take this Liberty, pray discover them to the Church. We lay no restraint upon our Members from hearing such, who are found in the Faith at other times.

VI. The Liberty that some take to hear Men that are corrupt in their Judgments; and so take in unsound Notions, and also strive to distill them into the Minds of others, as if they were of great Importance. Alas, how many are Corrupted in these days, with Arminianism, Socinianism, and what not. This causes great trouble and disorder.

VII. When one Church shall receive a Member or Members of another Congregation without their Consent or Knowledge: Nay such that are Disorderly and may be loose Livers, or cast out for Immorality; or Persons filled with Prejudice without cause. This is enough to make Men Atheists, or contemn all Church Authority, and Religion: For hath not one regular Church as great Authority from Christ as another.97

VIII. Another disorder is, when Members are received without the general Consent of the Church;98 or before good Satisfaction is taken of their Godly Lives, and Conversations: Or when a Church is too remiss in the reception of her Members.

IX. Another disorder is, when a Church shall receive a charge against a Member (it being an Offence between Brother and Brother) before an orderly proceed has been made by the offended Person.99

X. When judgment passes with Partiality; some are connived at, out of favour or affection. Levi was not to know his Father or Mother in Judgment.

XI. When Members do not constantly and early attend our public Assemblies,100 and the worship of God on the Lord’s day especially,101 but are remiss in that matter: This is a great Evil.102

XII. When part of a Church shall meet together as dissatisfied, to consult Church-matters, without the knowledge or consent of the Church, or Pastor. This is disorderly, and tends to division; and such should be marked.103

XIII. Another thing that tends to disquiet the Peace of the Church is, when there are any undue heats of Spirit, or Passion shewed in the Pastor, or others, in managing the Discipline of the Church. Have we not found by experience the sad effect of this? Therefore things must be always managed with coolness, and sweetness of Spirit, and moderation; every Brother having liberty to speak his mind, and not to be interrupted, until he has done; nor above one speak at once.104

XIV. When one Brother or more Dissents in the sentiments of their Minds from the Church, in any matters circumstantial; either in respect of Faith, Practice, or Discipline, and will not submit to the Majority, but raise Feuds;105 nay, will rend themselves from the Church, rather than consent.106

I Query, what reason, or ground, hath any Man to refuse Communion with a Church that Christ hath not left, but hath Communion with?

XV. When any member shall divulge, or make known to Persons, not of the Congregation, nor being concerned in those matters, what is done in Church-meetings, the Church in this respect (as well as in others) is to be as a Garden inclosed, a Spring shut up, a Fountain sealed.107 This oft times occasions great Grief, and the disorderly Person should be detected. Is it not a shame to any of a private Family, to divulge the Secrets of the Family? But far greater shame do these expose themselves unto.

XVI. Another disorderly Practice is this; viz. When a Member shall suggest, and seem to insinuate into the minds of other Members some evil against their Pastor, yet will not declare what it is; and may only be evil Surmisings, & out of Prejudice; and yet refuses to acquaint the Pastor with what it is:108 This is very abominable, and a palpable violation of the Rule of the Gospel, and Duty of Members to their Minister. Such a person ought to be severely rebuk’d; and if he confess not his Evils, and manifesteth unfeigned Repentance, to be dealt with farther. Moreover, it is a great evil in another to hear such base Insinuations, and neither rebuke the Accuser, and so discharge his Duty, nor take two or three more to bring the Person to Repentance. If he deal thus by a private Brother, it is a great Evil, but far worse to an Elder, whose Name and Honour, ought with all Care and Justice, to be kept up, as being more Sacred.109

XVII. Another disorderly Practice is, (which causes much trouble) When the publick Charges of a Church are not equally born but some too much burdened, when others do but little or nothing.110

And also, when every one does not Contribute to the Poor, as God has blessed them, on every Lord’s day, or first day of the Week, as he hath Commanded.111

XVIII. Another disorder is this, When Members refuse to communicate with the Church at the Lord’s table, because some person or persons, they think are guilty of Evil, and yet they have not proceeded with them according to Rule:112 These either Excommunicate the Church, or themselves, or those Persons at least, they censure unwarrantably.

I beseech you for Christ’s sake, that this may never be any more among you: You ought not to deal thus with them; or refuse your Communion, (tho faulty) until the Church has dismember’d or withdrawn from them; or at least Suspended them.

XIX. When one Member, shall believe, or receive a report against another, before he knows the truth of the matter.113

XX. When an Accusation is brought against an Elder, contrary to the Rule, which ought not be without two or three Witnesses, as to the matter of Fact.114

XXI. When the word of God is not carefully attended upon, on Week, or Lecture days, by the Members generally; tho the said Meeting being appointed by the whole Church.115

XXII. When Days of Prayer and Fasting, and of publick Thanksgiving, or when days of Disciplining are not generally attended upon.116

Lastly, When Gifted Brethren are not duely encouraged: First privately to exercise their Gifts; and being in time approved, called forth to Preach or Exercise in the Church: And when encouragement is not given to bestow Learning also upon them, for their better Accomplishment. What will become of the Churches in time to come, if this be not prevented with speed?

Benjamin Keach- The Glory of a True Church, And its Discipline Displayed (1697)

The Glory of a True Church- Of such that cause Divisions; or Unduely separate themselves from the Church

Of such that cause Divisions; or Unduely separate themselves from the Church

This I find is generally asserted by all Congregational Divines, or worthy men, i.e. That no person hath power to dismember himself: i.e. He cannot, without great Sin, translate himself from one Church to another; but ought to have a Dismission from that Church where he is a Member:76 provided that Church is orderly constituted, nothing being wanting as to any Essential of Salvation; or of Church-Communion: But if not, yet he ought to endeavour to get his orderly Dismission.

Nor is every small Difference in some points of Religion, (or Notions of little moment,) any grounds for him to desire his Dismission.

That he cannot, nor ought not to Translate himself, see what Reverend Writer saith:77

He cannot, saith he, for many Reasons:

1. It is not Decent, much less an Orderly going away; but very unmannerly, and a kind of running away.

2. Such a Departure is not approved of in Families, or Civil Societies.78

3. It destroys the Relation of Pastor and People: For what may be done by one individual Person, may be done by all.

4. What Liberty in this kind belongs to the Sheep, belongs to the Shepherd; much more he may then also leave his Flock at his Pleasure, without giving notice or reason thereof to the Church.

5. It is breaking Covenant with Christ, and with the Congregation, and therefore a great Immorality;79 he being under Obligation to abide stedfastly with the Church; i.e. till the Church judge he hath a lawful Call to go to another Congregation.

6. It’s a Schism: For if there be any such thing in the World, it’s of particular Societies.

7. It is a despising the Government of the Church.80

8. It is a particular Member’s assuming to himself thense of the Keys; or rather stealing of them.81

9. There is as much reason Persons should come into a Church when they please, with out asking Consent, as depart when they please.

10. It is very evil and unkind in another Church, to receive such an one, as not doing as they would, or should be dealt with.

11. Such Practices can issue in nothing else than the breach and confusion of all particular Churches; and make them like Parishes.

12. Such Departures cannot be pleaded for in the least, but upon the notion of a Catholick visible Church, wherein all Members and Officers are run into one Organized Church, which will, and must introduce, a Co-ordinate (if not a Subordinate) Pastoral Government, by combination of Elders, over all the Churches; and therefore by Synods and Classes.

13. It is like a Leak in a Ship, which, if not speedily stopped, will Sink at last.

14. It tends to Anarchy, putting an Arbitrary Power in ev’ry Member.

15. It breaks all Bonds of Love, and raiseth the greatest Animosities between Brethren and Churches.

16. It is a great Argument of some Guilt lying on the Party.

Thus the Dr.

Again he saith, It is no more in the just Power of a particular Member to dissolve his Church-Relation, than in a Man to kill himself: but by his said withdrawment he doth Schismatically rend himself from his Communion, and so Separate himself Sinfully.82

Quest. What is the just Act of the Church, that cloathes this irregular Separation, with the Formality as it were of an Excommunication.

He Answers. (Calling) this a mixt Excommunication i.e. Originally proceeding from, and consists in, the act of the Brother himself, and is the Formality of his Offence; upon which proceeds the just and unviolable act of the Church.

The Judgment of the Church publickly declared by the Elder of the Congregation; as the Dr. words it; viz.

That A.B. having so and so irregularly and sinfully withdrawn himself from the Communion of the Congregation, we do now adjudge him a Non-member, and one that is not to Communicate with the Church,83 in the Special Ordinances of Communion, till due Satisfaction is given by him.84

Yet we believe, as the Dr.’s Opinion is, that a Church may, (if they find the Case to be warranted by the Word of God; or as it may be circumstanced) give a dismission to a Member, when insisted on, to another regular Church, tho not in every case of small Offence, or dissent in some small points of different Notions, or from Prejudice; for that may tend soon to dissolve any Church: For what Church is it, where every Member is of one mind in every particular case and thing about Notions of Religion?

And such that make Divisions, and cause Schisms, or Discord among Brethren, to disturb the Peace of the Church,85 if they cannot be reclaimed, must be marked,86 and dealt with as great Offenders:87 It being one of those things that God hates, and is an abomination to him.

Quest. What is a full and lawful Dismission of a Member to another Church, upon his removing his Habitation, or on other warranted Cases.

Answ. We answer a Letter Testimonial, or Recommendation of the Person; and if he intends to abide there wholly, to give him up to that Communion, and Fellowship,88 to be watched over in the Lord.89

Benjamin Keach- The Glory of a True Church, And its Discipline Displayed (1697)

The Glory of a True Church- Of dealing with Hereticks and Blasphemers

Of dealing with Hereticks and Blasphemers

As touching Hereticks or Heresy, the same Censure, when they are convicted, ought to pass against them; Heresy is commonly restrained to signify any perverse Opinion or Error in a fundamental Point of Religion, as to deny the Being of God, or the Deity of Christ, or his Satisfaction, and Justification alone by his Righteousness, or to deny the Resurrection of the Body, or eternal Judgment, or the like. Yet our Annotators say, the Word signifies the same thing with Schism and Divisions; which if so, such that are guilty of Schism or Divisions in the Church, ought to be excommunicated also.69 Heresies are called Damnable by the Apostle Peter; without Repentance such cannot be saved, as bring in Damnable Heresies, denying the Lord that bought them.70

Two things render a Man an Heretick according to the common signification of the Word. 1. An Error in matters of Faith, Fundamental or Essential to Salvation. 2. Stubbornness and Contumacy in holding and maintaining it. A Man that is an Heretick, after the first and second Admonition reject.71 Now that this Rejection is all one with Excommunication, appears by what Paul speaks, I Tim. I. 20. Of whom is Hymeneus and Alexander, whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to Blaspheme.72 Their Heresy, or Blasphemy was in saying the Resurrection was past.

Some would have none be counted an Heretick but he who is convicted and conde mned so to be in his own Conscience, mistaking Paul’s Words, Knowing t hat he that is such, is subverted, being condemned of himself. He may be con demned of himself, tho not for his Heresy, yet for his spending his Time about Questions, and strife of Words, to the disquieting the Peace of the Church ; or tho not condemned of himself directly, yet indirectly; according to the Purport of his own Notion, or what he grants about the Point in Debate, &c. Else the Apostle refers to some notable and notorious self-condemned Heretick. It is a great question, whether Hymeneus and Alexander were condemned in their own Consciences, about that Heresy charged upon them, and yet were delivered up to Satan. However the Rule is plain, respecting any that are subverted, and resolutely maintain any Heretical Notion, i.e. after he hath been twice (or oftner) admonished, that is, after all due means used, and pains taken with him, to convince him of his abominable Error; and yet if he remains obstinate, he must be delivered up to Satan; that is, the righteous censure of the Church must pass upon him, as in the case of other notorious Crimes. Heresy is a Work of the Flesh: and hence some conceive such ought to be punished by the Civil Magistrate.

Quest. What is an Admonition?

Answ. It is a faithful endeavour to convict a Person of a Fault both as to matter of Fact, and his Duty thereupon, charging it on his Conscience in the Name of the Lord Jesus with all Wisdom and Authority.

Quest. What is a Church Admonition?

Answ. When an offending Brother rejecting private Admonition by one, or by two or three Persons, the complaint being brought to the Church by the Elder, the offending Member is rebuked and exhorted in the Name of the Lord Jesus to due Repentance; and if convicted, and he repents, the Church forgives him, otherwise casts him out, as I before shewed.

Quest. May a Church admit a Member of another Congregation to have Communion with them, without an orderly receiving him as a Member?

Answ. If the Person is well known by some of the Church, and that he is an orderly Member of a Church of the same Faith, he being occasionally cast among them they may admit him to transient Communion for that time; but if he abides in that Town or City remote to the Church to whom he belongs, he ought to have his regular dismission, and so be delivered up to the care and watch of the Church where he desires to communicate.

Quest. If an Excommunicated Person hath obtained of God true Repentance, and desires to be restored to the Church, what is the manner of his Reception?

Answ. Upon his serious, solemn and publick Acknowledgment thereof before the Church, and due Satisfaction according to the nature of his Offence being given, the Elder solemnly proceeds and declares in the Name of the Lord Jesus,73 that the sentence which A.B. was laid under (upon his unfeigned Repentance) is taken off,74 and that he is received again as a Member, &c. To the Praise and Glory of God.75

Quest. How ought a Pastor to be dealt withal, if he to the knowledge of the Church, or any Members thereof, walketh disorderly, and unworthily of his Sacred Office, and Membership?

Take the Answer of another Author here.

Answ. ‘Those Members, to whom this is manifestly known, ought to go to him privately, and unknown to any others, (and with the Spirit of Meekness, in great Humility) lay his Evil before him, and intreat him as a Father, and not rebuke him as their Equal, much less as their Inferiour; and if they gain upon him, then to receive him into their former Affection and Esteem, for ever hiding it from all others. But if after all tender intreaties, he prove Refractory and Obstinate, then to bring him before the Church, and there to deal with him; they having Two or Three Witnesses in the face of the Church, to testify matter of Fact against him to their personal Knowledge.

2. ‘But before he be dealt with they must appoint one from among themselves, qualifyd for the work of a Pastor, to execute the Church’s Censure against him, &c.

Yet no doubt, the Church may Suspend him from his Communion, & exercising of his Office presently, upon his being fully Convicted. But seeing in the multitude of Counsel there is safety, sure no Church would so proceed without the advice of the Presbytery, or of a Sister-Church at least.

Q. Suppose a Member should think himself Oppressed by the Church; or should be Unjustly dealt with; either Withdrawn from, or Excommunicated, has he no Relief left him?

Answ. We believe he hath Relief; and also, that there is no Church infallible, but may Err in some points of Faith, as well as in Discipline. And the way proposed, and agreed to, in a general Assembly, held in London, 1692, of the Elders, Ministers, and Messengers of our Churches, we approve of, which is this; viz. The grieved or injured Person may make his Application to a Sister-Church for Communion; and that Church may send some Brethren in their names, to that Congregation that have dealt with him, and they to see if they can possible restore him to his place; but if they cannot, then to report the matter charged, with the Proofs, to the Church that sent them: and if that Congregation shall, after a full Information, &c. be persuaded the Person was not orderly dealt with, they may receive him into their Communion.

Benjamin Keach- The Glory of a True Church, And its Discipline Displayed (1697)

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)

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)