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teousness, that one of them write hereof to another, and that there may be some means made, how we may commune with you safely, and friendly, at some such place, as shall be fit both for you and us: and bring with you your bishops and teachers, and let them and our teachers fight together with the word of God, and let us hear them; and let not one overcome the other by violence or false subtilty, but only by the word of God, &c."

By all which it appears, that let men's doctrine be what it will, they ought to be heard, and convinced by the word, and not presently to be silenced, and subdued by force.

Now secondly, If upon hearing and debating things by the word, it shall clearly appear, that our adversaries hold such things, which are so false and erroneous, that they cannot be reckoned believers and members of Christ that hold them; nor can retain those doctrines, without unavoidable damnation: then in this case, the true church hath authority from the word to do these things;

1. To condemn the doctrine.

2. To excommunicate their persons.

1. The church ought to condemn the doctrine, as contrary to the gospel, and to that eternal and unchangeable, and most clear and certain truth which Christ hath heard from the Father, and delivered to his church; which is the faith once given to the saints, and never to be altered. And so to tell the people, what doctrine it is; even such as carries in it an utter enmity to Christ and his Spirit; and so consequently, death and damnation ; and that therefore they are to take heed to it, as they love eternal life, and would avoid eternal death.

And thus Christ condemned the doctrine of the scribes, and of the Pharisees, and of the Sadducees, and bid his

disciples, Beware of them; and Paul, the doctrine of Hymeneus and Philetus, which did eat as a canker, &c.

2. The church, in this case, may also excommunicate the person; yea, though he should be silent, and not seduce others; seeing believers can have no true communion with such a one, who is in enmity to the word of life, in which all the true communion of the faithful stands. Wherefore, such persons may justly be cut off from the society of the faithful. But herein also these rules are to be observed; to wit,

1. That this censure be not proceeded to for every varying from the truth, (as is already said) but for denying such truths, or holding such errors, as make a man incapable of salvation.

2. That this be not done, till all other ways have been tried to reclaim them.

3. That this be done, not by two or three persons,

but by the whole church, or communion.

4. That it be done, not by their own, but by Christ's

authority, who is always present in his church, as the head of that body; and that it be done, not by human passion or violence, but by the efficacy of the holy Spirit, who is always present among believers, as the Spirit of those members.


And this excommunication thus regulated, is the last punishment the church can inflict, by the warrant and authority of Christ: and it cannot imprison any, or banish them, or fine them, or put them to death; for we must not expound that place of Paul, Hæreticum hominum devita, as Hugo Charensis did, to take a heretic out of his life; but him that is a heretic we must avoid, we we must not kill; the former being Christ's rule; the latter Antichrist's.

Conclusion. Now these things have I spoken and propounded to the faithful and churches of Christ, wherever the providence of God shall cast this book, which may

travel farther on this errand, than weak flesh can do: and I so propound them all, as being most ready myslef to hear from any, what they can propound in more light and evidence of the word. And I do humbly and earnestly intreat all faithful christians, that whatever they shall conceive of my judgment in these matters, they will yet take in good part my care to recover and preserve peace and unity in the true church of Christ: The desire of which, through God's goodness, is much stronger in my heart, than any private interest or respect of mine








Which, for the Sum and Substance of it, was first spoken briefly at his Excellencies, the Lord General Cromwell's House; and was afterwards more largely delivered in Clement's Parish in Cambridge;


Is now made Public, for the justification of the Truth, the profit of the Faithful, and the stopping the Mouth of Iniquity.




Magna patientia opus est, ad sustinendas calumnias Malignantis Ecclesiæ,


In omnibus aliis cedam cuivis: Verbum deserere & negare, nec possum, nec volo. LUTHER, EPISTOL. AD LEON. DECIMUM.


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