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Church of Scotland ? Llato which, the wise and learned King is said
to have recurned this Answer ; That every Parish both their Pator, ever present with them., and watching ever thent; That the Pater hath' bis Elders and Deacons, forted with bim ; That be with them, once a peek, meets at a set time and place, for the cenfure of manners, or Debat ever disorder falls out in the Parish ; So as be, by tbis means, perfedt ly knomes his flock : ased every siberration of them, either in matter of op:nion, or pražtife: And lest any Error, or Herefie may seize upon the PA stor'; they have their Presbyteries, consisting of severall Shrivalties, which meet together in the chiefe Town or City next to them, every week also once ; and have there their exercise of Prophesying ; after wbicb, the Moderator of the said meeting asks and garbers the judgments of all the said, Pastors, concerning the doctrine then delivered, or, of any other douttfull point, that is then and there propounded; And if the said Presbyters te divided in their opinions, tben ihe question is, under an injoyned filence, put over to the next Synod,which is Feld twice a year; unto that all the poStors of that Quarter, or Province, duely resortzaccompanied with tpeir El ders; the Moderator of the former Synod tegins the Action; then a nens Moderator is chofen for tise present, or ( as it feldome falls out ) the last Moderator, by Voices, continued.
Any Question of doubt being proposed, is either decided by that meeting, or ( if it cannot be so done ) is, with charge of filence, referved till the National Synod, or Generall Asembly; which they hold every year once : whither come not the Pastors onely, but the King himself, or bis Commiffioners; and some of all Orders and Degrees, sufficiently axthorized for the determining of any controversie, that shall arise amongst them. Thus he. And certainly this bears the face of a very fair and laudable course, and such, as deserves the approbation of all the wcl-willers to that discipline:But let me adde,that we either have, or may have, ( in this very same Itate of things, with some small variation) in (ffect, the same Government with us; only there wants fome care and life in their execucion, which might, without much difficuley, be redrefled; Every Parish hach, or by Law ought to have their Minilter ever present with them; and carefully watching over them, Inftead then of their Pastor, Elders and Deacons; we have in every Parish, che Minister, whether a Rector, or Vicar ; Churchwardens, Quelimen, or Side men, and Overseers for the Poor ; and in places of any eminence, a Curate or Affiftent to the Rector, who is a Deacon ac Icaft; These may, and ought, and in some places do duely meet together, every week, on a ser day in their Veftry; and decide fuch differences as happen amongst them; and may well be enjoyncd, to take notice of such abuses and mis-demeanours, as are incident into their Parish, for their speedy reformation, within the Verge of their own power.
In stead of their Presbyteries, consisting of feveral Paftors, we have our number, and combination of Ministers, in the Divifions of our several Deanries; under which are ranged all the Ministers within that circuit ; Over whom the Rural Dean ( as he is called ) is every year chosen, by the said Ministers of that division, as their
moderator, for the year ensuing ; whose office (if it were carefully i looked unto, and reduced to the original institution ) might be of
fingular ule to Gods Church; This Deanry, or Presbyçery, con
fisting of several Pastors, may be injoyned to meet together every ; moneth, or oftner (if it seem fit )in some City or Town next unto
them ; and may there have their exercise of prophesying, as I have
ksown it practiced in fome parts of this kingdom;and as it is carnett. :ly wished and recommended, by chat excellently-Learned Lord ve
rulame, late Lord Chancelour of England, in his prudent considetions : and then and there, may endeavour to decide any doubt that may arise in their several Parishes ; cicher concerning the doctrine of their Minister, or scruple in cases of conscience and may tranfa& any publique business that may concernc their whole división ; Bur if any such matter or question should arise, as their divided opinions cannot fully determinc; it may ( under charge of filence ) be put over to a more publique mecting ; which is the Synodal afámbly of the Clergy held twice a year, under the moderation ( hitherto ) of the Archdeacon ; and if there the question fail, of a full determination, it is, or may be referred, (with like silence and prace) to a Diocefán Synod, which may be held every year once ; undór the presidency of the Bishop ; and if yet the decision come not home, it may be referred to the determining of a Provincial Synod, or yet higher, to a National : So as in these cases of doubrs, or errors, if men would not be wanting to themselves, nothing nccds to be wanting in the state we now stand in, to the safety, and happinofle of our Church. För matter of ordination of Ministers; the former constitutions of our Church have deeply enjoyned the presence, and afiftance of thosc, who, by their original institucions, are the Presbytery of the Bishup, at, and in, the examination, and allowance of the persons to be ordained ; requiring also, the joint-impofition of those hands, which atrefted the fufficiency of the said Examinants ; nor without a severe sanction of two years suspension, of the act of Ordaining, to passe upon any Bishop, or Suffragan, that shall be found failing in any of the particulars; the qualification of these that are to be ordained, is in our Canons already set forth, with much caution ; for their age, their degrees, their abilities, the testimony of their holy converlation ; neither need I doube to affirm, that he who (besides all other circumstances of Education ) is able to give a good account of his faith in Latine, according to the received Articles of the Church of England, and to confirme the same by fuffici ent testimonies, out of the holy Scripture, may be thought competently fit, (for marter of knowledg) to enter upon the infltep of Deacon hip ; which the wisdome of the Church hath ( according to the Apostles rule ) appointed ( nor without a fufficient diftance of time) in way of probation, to the higher order of Ministery; forbidding to give both orders at once; and requiring, that he, who is ordained Deacon, shall continue a whole year, at least in that ftation, except, upon some weighty reasons, 'it shall seem fit to the Bishop, to contract che time limited: and, left there thould be any fubreption in this facred business, it is Ordered, that these Ordinarions should be no other then solemn, both in respect of time & place; neither ought they to be, nor in some places are, without a publick precognization of lawful warning affixed upon the Cathedral Church door, where the said Ordination shall be celebrated ; and over and besides the charge, that none shall be admitted to be a Candidate of holy Orders, but he who brings sufficient teftimonials of his good life and conversation, under the seal of some Colledg in Camlridge or Oxford, or of three, or four grave Ministers, together with the subscription and testimony of other credible persons , who have known his life & behaviour, by the space of three years next before; it is well known to you, that before the act of ordination there is publique Proclamation made to the whole Assembly, that if any man knowes any crime or impediment in any of the persons presentcd, for which he ought not to be ordained, that he thould come
forth and declare it before any hand be laid upon his hcad, for his
full admiffon. : Notwithstanding all which care of our dear Mother the Church of England ; if is shall be thought meet, that any further act of Tryal, shall pals upon those, which are suitors for Ordination, how cafily may it be ordered, that at the monechly ( or, if need be, more frequent Smeeting of the Ministers, within the same Presbytcry or Deanry; they may be appointed to make tryal of their gifts, and undergee such further examination of their abilities, as shall be thought requisire, ere they shall be presented, and admitted by the Bishop, and his Presbytery to char holy function,
And whereas it is much stood upon, that it is meet the people, ( whose fouls must have right in him, to whose trust they are committed ) should have some hand in their consent to that Paftor, by whom they must be fed; it must be said, that belides their devolution of their right to che patron, who, as cheir trustee , presents a Minister for them, it may be no prejudice at all to the power which by Law and inhericance is serled upon the patron, that the person whom his choise pitches upon, be appointed beforehand to preach, (for a trial ) to that Congregation to which he is fo designed; and if either for his voice, or ocher juft exceptions hc be found unmeer for them, that another, more fit may be recommended by the faid Patron to the place ; but if chrough faction, or felf-will, or partialicy, the multitude shall prove pcevish, and fastidious, they may, in sucha casc, be over-ruled by juft authority.
As for matter of censures, it may not be denyed, that there hath been great abuse in the managing of them, both upon Ecclefiaftical persons, and others : suspension of Ministers upon flight and insufficient causes, both ab officio, and beneficio, hath been too rife in some places of latter times ; and the dreadful sentence of excommunication harb too frequently, and familiary paffed upon light and triviall matcers : How happy were it, if a speedy course may be taken, for cho prevention of this evil; In the conference at Hampton-Court, a motion was ftrongly made to this purpose, but without effcét; if the wisdom of the present Parliament shall settle fome ocher way for the curbing of.contumacious offeixes against Church-authoricy, it will be an act worthy of their care and justice. In the mean time, as for this, and all other Eçclefiaftical proceedings, it may
with much facility, and willing consent of all pares, be ordered that the Bithop shall not take upon him, to inflict either this, or anyo ther important censure, without the concurrence of his Presbycery; which ihall be a means ( in all likelyhood ) to prevent any inconvenicnce that may arise from the wonted way of Judicature.
As for the co-afseffion of a Lay-presbytery, in swaying these af fairs of Church-government'; Ye well know how new it is; some of you might have been acquainted with the man that brought it firft into any part of this Illand; and what ground there is for it, cither in Scripture, or antiquicy,l appeall to your judgment : Surcly the lare learned Author of the Counsail for the reforming the Church of England, ( although otherwile a vehement affertor of the French Discipline ) ingenuously confesseth, chat however those Protestants which live under Popith Governours, have done wisely, in deputing some choise men, selected out of their congregations, whom they call Elders, to share with their paftors, in the care and management of Ecclefiafticall affairs; Yet those Protestant Churches which live under the government of Protestant Princes, may with the Lafcy of those relpeas, which mutually intercede betwixt Pastor's and People, forbear any such deputation : for as much, as the lupreme Magistrare, transferrs (for the moft part) to himself, that which is the wonted charge of those deputed Elders ; concluding, that those men, do meerly lose their labour who fo busily indeavur on the one side, to disprove the antiquity of the Lay.Elderfhip; and, on the other, by weak proofes to maintain, (clean contrary to the mind of the Apostle ) that the text of Saint Paul (i Tim. 5. 17.) is to be understood of Pastors, and Lay-Elders ; Thus he ; with what fair probability, I leave to your judgment.
Neither is it any intention of mine to meddle with any piece of that government, which obrainech in other the Churches of God; but onely, to contribute my poor opinion, concerning the now-to-be-setled affairs of our own.
What shall I need to suggest unto you the dangerous underworkings of other Seas ? secretly indevouring to spring their hidden mines to the overthrow both of the one government, and the Other; whereof, without speedy remedy, perhaps it will be too late to complain ; no doubt, the wisdom, and authority of that great Separe (whom ye also serve to advise ). will forthwith interna