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with the Catholick Church, but by communicating with some Part of it: And there is no communicating with

any Part of it, but that under which we live, or where we have our Residence.

Well, but it may be said, that there may be several distinct Churches in the Place where we live. There may be the fixed Regular Assemblies of the National Church; and there may be separate Congregations ; both which are, or pretend to be Parts, of the Catholick Church; so that it may be all one as to our communicating with that, which of these we join with, supposing we join but with one of them; and consequently, there is no Necessity from that Principle, that we should hold Communion with the Publick Assemblies of the National Church.

But as to this, I desire it may be considered, that That which lays an Obligation up-. on us to join in Communion with the Church, (to wit, our being Members of that one Body of Christ) doth allo lay an Obligation upon us, as much as in us lies, to preserve the Unity of that Body, (for this both the Fundamental Laws of Society, and the express Precepts of Christianity, do require of every Member :) But now to make a Rent in, or separate from any Part of the Body of Christ, with which we may lawfully communicate (and such we now suppose the Established Ajjemblies of the Nation to be) is directly contrary to the preserving the Unity of that Body: And there. fore, certainly, suchą Rent or Separation, must


be unlawful. And if so, then it must be unlawful also to join with any Congregation of Men among us that have made such a Rent or Separation.

So that let our Pretences be what they will, so long as the fixed regular Assemblies of the Nation wherein we live, do truly belong to the Catholick Church, and we can lawfully join with them, it is certain, we are bound so to do, and not to join with those Congregations that have withdrawn themselves from them; for to do this, would be to join in Society with Separatists, would be a partaking of their Sin, and a Breach of the Apostle's Precept, of avoiding those that cause Divisions, Rom. 16. 17.

The Third Proposition is, That the being a Member of any Church, doth oblige a Man to submit to all the Laws and Constitutions of that Church.

This Proposition is in the General so unquestionable, that no sober Man will deny it. And indeed, it is the Basis upon which all Societies are founded, and by which they do fubfift. For to suppose a Society, and yet to suppose the Members of it not under an Obligation to obey its Laws and Government, is to make Ropes of Sand; to suppose a Body without Sinews and Ligaments, to hold its Parts together.

So that all the Question here, is, concerning the Nature and Extent of the Church's Power over her Members, how far, and in what Inftances she hath Authority to oblige them? Which is a Question not difficult to be answered, if Men would come tọ it without Passion and Prejudice


For it must be acknowledged, in the firft Place, that the Church must, as all other Societies, be incrusted with, at least fo much Power over her Subjects, as is necessary for the securing her own Welfare and Preservation : For to think otherwise, is to suppofe God to have founded a Church, and intended the Wellbeing and Continuance of it, which are Things that every one must grant; and yet to suppose, that he hath denied her the Use of the Means, without which that Well-being and Continuance cannot be attained; which is monstrous and contradictious.

Farthermore, it must be granted, that the Welfare and Preservation of the Church, cannot be secured but upon these Two Suppositions, First, That Provision be made for the due and orderly Performance of the Worship of God. Secondly, That there be Means of maintaining Peace and

Unity amongst its Members. This latter is necessary to the Welfare and Preservation of a Church as a Society, the former is necessary to it as a Religious Society.

Now then this being admitted, it follows in the General, that whatever Power over her Subjects is necessary in order to either of these Things, all That, at least, must be supposed to be lodged in the Church, that is to say, in Those that have the Government of it.

So that from hence it is plain, in the first Płace, that the Church' hath Power so far to restrain the Exercise of her Subjects Liberty, as to oblige them to all such Laws, Rules, Orders, and Ceremonies as she shall establish, for


the more Solemn, Regular, Decent, and Conve. nient Administration of Religious Affairs. And if it be questioned, whether her Appointments do indeed.conduce to that End, of That She herself is to be the Judge; Her Members being no farther concerned therein, than only, before they obey her Impositions, to see, that they be not repugnant to the known Laws of God. This power the Church must be suppo{ed to have, otherwise She will not be enabled to make Provision for the first Thing whereon her Welfare doth depend, viz. the Performance of God's Worship and Service in a due and orderly manner.

Secondly, From hence also it is plain, that the Church must be furnished with a Power to end and determine Controversies of Religion that arise among its Members: that is to say, to give such an Authoritative Decision of them, as that all parties are bound to acquiesce in it : For without this, she would be defective in the Second Thing required to her Welfare and Preservation, viz. maintaining herself in Peace and Unity.

But here it may be taken notice, that this Power of ending Controversies, which we afcribe to the Church, doth not imply any Au, thority over our Judgments, or that, in Virtue thereof, she can oblige us to give an inward Assent to her Determinations, any farther than The gives us Evidence for the Truth of them (which is that extravagant Power the Church of Rome doth challenge to herself :) but only an Authority over our Practices, that she can

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oblige us to submit fo far to her Definitions, as not to act any thing contrary to them. A Power, in the former Sense, is not necessary to the Church's Peace, and the Reason is, Because our Judgments and Opinions, so long as we keep them to ourselves, cannot poflibly cause any Disturbance in, or do any Injury to, Society. But a Power in the latter Sense, is absolutely necessary: For if Men may be allowed to vent and publish whatever Fancies come into their Head, and the Church have no Authority to impose Silence upon them, it cannot be avoided, but she will be over-run with Heresies, and embroiled in infinite Quarrels and Controversies, to the Destruction of her

publick Peace.

The Fourth Proposition is, That we can have no juft Cause of withdrawing our Communion from the Church whereof we are Members, but when we cannot communicate with it without the Commission of a Sin.

For it we are bound to Communicate with the Church when we can lawfully do so, as hath been before proved; it is plain, we are bound fo long to continue our Communion with the Church, till it be unlawful to continue in it any longer: But it cannot be unlawful to continue in her Communion, 'till she require something as a Condition of her Communion, that is a Sin.

So that there are but Two Cases, wherein it can be lawful to withdraw our Communion from a Church, because there are but Two Cases, wherein Communion with her can be


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