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2 Thess. iii.
2 Pet. ii. 10.
2 Thess. iji.
tention, (oix áyvūs) not purely; to promise liberty SERM. to their followers; to walk disorderly ; (that is, in_LVI. repugnance to order settled in the church;) to despise 2 Pet. ii.19. dominion, and without fear to reproach dignities ; 6, 11. to speak evil (rashly) of those things which they Jude 8. know not, (which are beside their skill and cogni-Jude : sance ;) to separate themselves from the church.
2 John 9. Such persons as these, arrogating to themselves the office of guides, and pretending to lead us, we Tit. iii. 10. must not follow or regard ; but are in reason and Z. conscience obliged to reject and shun them, as the Rom. xvi. ministers of Satan, the pests of Christendom, the 1 Tim.vi. 5. enemies and murderers of souls.
It can indeed nowise be safe to follow any such leaders, (whatever pretences to special illumination they hold forth, whatever specious guises of sanctity they bear,) who in their doctrine or practice deflect from the great beaten roads of holy scripture, primitive tradition, and catholic practice, roving in bypaths suggested to them by their private fancies and humours, their passions and lusts, their interests and advantages : there have in all ages such counterfeit guides started up, having debauched some few heedless persons, having erected some napao uvayayas, or petty combinations against the regularly settled corporations; but never with any durable success or countenance of divine Providence; but like prodigious meteors, having caused a little gazing, and Jude 13. some disturbance, their sects have soon been dissipated, and have quite vanished away; the authors and abettors of them being either buried in oblivion, or recorded with ignominy; like that Theudas in the speech of Gamaliel, who rose up, boasting himself Acts v. 36. to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about
SERM. four hundred, joined themselves ; who was slain, LVI.
and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.
But let thus much suffice to have been spoken concerning the persons to whom obedience must be performed.
OF OBEDIENCE TO OUR SPIRITUAL GUIDES
HEB. xiii. 17.
Obey them that have the rule over you. I PROCEED to the duty itself, the obedience pre- SERM. scribed, which may (according to the extent in sig- LVII. nification of the word heibe bou) be conceived to relate either to the government, or to the doctrine, or to the conversation of the persons specified; implying, that we should obey their laws, that we should embrace their doctrine, that we should conform to their practice, according to proper limitations of such performance, respectively.
We begin with the first, as seeming chiefly intended by the words :
Obedience to ecclesiastical government: what this doth import we may understand by considering the terms whereby it is expressed, and those whereby its correlate (spiritual government) is signified; by examples and practice relating to it, by the nature and reason of the matter itself.
Beside the word zeideolar, (which is commonly used to signify all sorts of obedience, chiefly that which is due to governors,) here is added a word serving to explain that, the word umelkeiv, which sig
Luke xxü. 26.
SERM. nifieth to yield, give way, or comply; relating (as it LVII.
seemeth by its being put indefinitely) to all their
proceedings in matters concerning their charge. In (Tit. iii. 1. other places, parallel to our text, it is expressed by
υποτάσσεσθαι, the same term by which constantly the subjection due to secular powers, in all the precepts
enjoining it, is expressed : 'Opolws reútepoc únotáynte 1 Pet . v. 5. apeo Butépous, In like manner, (or correspondently,)
saith St. Peter, ye younger, submit yourselves to the elder; (that is, as the context shews, ye inferiors in the church obey your superiors; ó vectepos, both there and otherwhere doth signify the state of inferiority,
as ó apeo Bútepos importeth dignity and authority.) 1 Cor. xvi. And, únotároesbe Tois TOLGÚTOIS, submit yourselves unto
such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and
laboureth, saith St. Paul; and, aaańãous inoTAD JÓLevoi, Eph. v. 21. submitting yourselves to one another in the fear of
God, that is, yielding conscientiously that submission, which established order requireth from one to another : whence we may collect, that the duty consisteth in yielding submission and compliance to all laws, rules, and orders enacted by spiritual governors for the due celebration of God's worship, the promoting edification, the conserving decency, the maintenance of peace; as also to the judgments and censures in order to the same purposes administered by them.
This obedience to be due to them may likewise be inferred from the various names and titles attributed to them; such as those of prelates, superintendents, pastors, supervisors, governors, and leaders; which terms (more largely touched before) do imply command and authority of all sorts, legislative, judicial, and executive.
1 Pet. v. 5.
Such obedience also primitive practice doth assert SERM. to them: for what authority the holy apostles did
LVII. assume and exercise, the same we may reasonably suppose derived to them; the same in kind, although not in peculiarity of manner, (by immediate commission from Christ, with supply of extraordinary gifts and graces,) and in unlimitedness of extent: for they do succeed to the apostles in charge and Cujus in socare over the church, each in his precinct, the guli partiapostolical office being distributed among them all. mus. Vid. The same titles which the apostles assumed to them-Cypr.de selves they ascribe to their sympresbyters, requiring the same duties from them, and prescribing obedience to them in the same terms; they claimed no 2 Cor. x. 8. more power than was needful to further edifica- To ordain tion, and this is requisite that present governors to confirm also should have; their practice in government may pro exercise also well be presumed exemplary to all future go-jurisdicvernors. As then we see them glatároeiv, to order , Cor. xi. things, and frame ecclesiastical constitutions; dropboir, lit. i. 5. to rectify things, or reform defects, to impose ob-Acts xv. 28. servances necessary, or expedient to the time; to 2 Cor. x. 6. judge causes and persons, being ready to avenge, 1 Cor. iv. or punish, every disobedience; to use severity upon xii. 2. occasions; with the spiritual rod to chastise scandalous offenders, disorderly walkers, persons contu-Tit 1.05 macious and unconformable to their injunctions; to Rom. xvi. reject heretics, and banish notorious sinners from 2 Cor. x. 8. communion, warning the faithful to forbear conver-Episcopi sation with them : as they did challenge to them
apostoloselves an authority from Christ to exercise these rum. Cypr.
Ep. 27. 69. and the like acts of spiritual dominion and jurisdic- &c.
Ep. 41. 75. tion, exacting punctual obedience to them; as we (Firmil.) also see the like acts exercised by bishops, whom
21. xii. 21.
2 Thess. iii.