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Of The Election Of Pastors With The Congregation's Consent


by George Gillespie


Scottish Commissioner To the Assembly of Divines At Westminster.

The question is not whether the power of ecclesiastical government
or jurisdiction belong to the people or body of the church (for the
tenets of Brownists and Anabaptists, concerning popular government,
we utterly abhor): nor whether the whole collective body of the
church ought to be assembled, and their voices severally asked in
elections, for all may consent when none vote in elections but the
representative body of the church: nor whether the consent of the
people to the admission of a pastor is to be sought and wished for,
it being generally acknowledged by all, and denied by none, that it
is better to enter with the people's consent than against it: nor
whether liberty ought to be granted to the whole congregation, or
any member thereof, to object against the man's life or doctrine, or
against his qualifications for such a particular charge; for it is
certain that not only the congregation but others who know any just
impediment against his admission, have place to object the same: nor
whether the church's liberty of consent be inconsistent with, or
destructive unto, the presbytery's power of examination and
ordination, for these may stand together: but the question is
whether it be necessarily required to the right vocation of a
pastor, that he be freely elected by the votes of the eldership, and
with the consent (tacit or expressed) of the major or better part of
the congregation, so that he be not obtruded, renitente et
contradicente ecclesia.

The affirmative part of this question is proved from Scripture, from
antiquity, from Protestant writers, yea, churches, and from sound
reason, and from the confessions of opposites. To begin with
Scripture and with the primitive pattern: The apostles themselves
would not so much as make deacons till all the seven were chosen,
and presented unto them by the church, Acts 6.2,3,5,6. The author of
the History of Episcopacy, part 2, p. 359, to cut off our argument
from Acts 6., saith that the seven were to be the stewards of the
people in disposing of their goods, "good reason that the election
should be made by them, whose goods and fortunes were to be disposed
of." This answer was made by Bellarmine before him; but Walus, tom.
2, p. 52, reasoneth otherwise: The feeders of the people's souls
must be no less (if not more) beloved and acceptable than the
feeders of their bodies; therefore these must be chosen with their
own consent as well as those. Secondly, Elders (both ruling and
preaching) were chosen by most voices of the church, the suffrages
being signified per ceirotonian, that is, by lifting up or
stretching out of the hand, Acts 14.23. Where the Syriac version
doth insinuate that the word ceirotonhsanteV is not to be understood
of the apostles' ordination of elders, but of the church's election
of elders; thus, "Moreover they made to themselves," that is, the
disciples mentioned in the former verse, made to themselves; for
they who were made were not elders or ministers to Paul and Barnabas
(but to the multitude of the disciples) in every church elders,
"while they were fasting with them, and praying, and commending
them," &c. Now how could this election be but after the Grecian
form, by the church's lifting up or stretching out of hands? But
because some do still stick at this place, it may be further cleared
thus: CeirotonhsanteV may be understood three ways, and all these
ways it saveth the people's right. It may be either the action of
the church only, as the Syriac maketh it, or a joint action both of
the churches and of Paul and Barnabas, as Junius maketh it, or an
action of Paul and Barnabas in this sense, that they did constitute
elders to the churches, by the churches' own voices. However, the
word relateth to election by stretching out or lifting up of hands,
not to ordination by laying on of hands, which is the sense followed
by the Italian version, and Diodati authorizing and ordaining such
an one only to be an elder as was ceirotonhtoV, which I prove,

1. From the native signification of the word. Where Julius Pollux
hath ceirotonia lib.2, c.4, Gualther and Seberus render it manuum
extensio, and ceirotonein manus levare, and anticeirotonein manibus
refragari; Budus interpreteth ceirotonia to be plebiscitum,
suffragium; H. Stephanus, ceirotonew manum protendo; et attollo
manum porrigo; and because, saith he, in giving votes, they did
ceirotonein, thence came the word to be used for scisco, decerno,
creo, but properly ceirotonew is (saith he) as it were, thn
ceirateinw, id est, anateinw; Justin Martyr, Quest. et Resp. ad
Orthod. Resp. ad Qust. 14, doth expressly distinguish ceirotonia
and ceiroqesia, as words of a most different signification. Where
Cedrenus, anno 526, saith euphranius ceirotoneitai, Philander, the
interpreter, rendereth episcopatui, communibus suffragiis deligitur.
Scapula, and Arias Montanus also, in his lexicon, tells us, that
ceirotonein is manus porrigere, or elevare, eligere, or creare
magistratum per suffragia; for ceirotonein is most different from
laying on of hands, which is not a stretching out or lifting up, but
a leaning or laying down of the hands on something. Wherefore the
Hebrews note laying on of hands by samak, inniti. Chrysostom saith,
the Roman senate did ceirotonein touV JeouV, which Potter himself
turneth, did make gods by most voices, Char. Mistak., p. 145.

2. The use of the word in this sense, and in no other sense, either
in Scripture, 2 Cor. 8.19, or Greek authors that wrote before the
New Testament; so that Luke could not be understood if he had used
it in another sense, but he wrote so that he might be understood. If
he had meant ordination, he would have used the word kaqistanai, as
Acts 6.3; Tit. 1.5; or Epeqhkan taV ceiraV, as Acts 6.6.

3. The mode of election among the Grecians testified by Demosthenes,
Cicero, and others, clears the meaning of the word. They had a
phrase, Ceirotonia kratei, omnium suffragiis obtinet, and OudeiV
ante ceirotonhsen, no man giveth a contrary vote. When the Grecians
chose their magistrates at their comitia held solemnly for that end,
he that was nominated was brought into the theatre before the
people; so many as approved of him, held forth, or stretched forth,
or lifted up their hands. If the major part did thus ceirotonein, he
partly was then said to be ceirotonhtoV, a magistrate created by
suffrages. So Elias, Cretensis in Greg. Nazianz. Orat. 3. I find
also in schines, Orat. cont. Cetesipont, some decrees cited, which
mention three sorts of magistrates, and among the rest touV upo tou
dhmou ke ceirotonhmenouV,Those that were made by the people's
suffrage. In the argument of Demosthenes' oration (Advers.
Androtion), these magistrates are called ai arcai kata ceirotonian
tou dhmou ginomenai,Magistrates made by the people's suffrage.
Fronto Ducus, in his notes upon the fifth tom. of Chrysostom, p. 3,
confesseth, that, with heathen writers, ceirotonein is per suffragia
creare, and therefore the word is rendered in the Tigurine version,
and by Calvin, Bullinger, Beza; so doth Erasmus upon the place
understand the word: Ut intelligamus (saith he) suffragiis delectos.

4. CeiroonhsanteV, joined with autoiV doth not at all make against
that which I say, as some have conceived it doth, but rather for it;
for autoiV here is to be rendered ipsis, not illis, and so Pasor, in
the word ceirotoneiw, rendereth Acts 14.23, quumque ipsis per
suffragia creassent presbyteros. So that autoiV here is used for
eautoiV, that the Grecians sometimes use the one for the other. So
H. Stephanus, Thes. Ling. Gr., in the word eautou, where he
referreth us to Budus for examples to prove it; see the like, Matt.
12.57; John 4.2. Thus, therefore, the text may be conceived,
CeirotonhsanteV de autoiV presbuterouV kat ekklhsian, proseuxamenoi,
meta nhseiaV, pareqento autouV, tw kuriw eiV on pepisteukeisan, that
is, and when they (the disciples of Lystra, Iconium and Antioch) had
by votes made to themselves elders in every church, and had prayed
with fasting, they commended them (to wit, Paul and Barnabas) to the
Lord, in whom they believed. It needeth not seem strange that here,
in one verse, I make autoiV to be ipsis, and autouV to be illos, and
meant of different persons; for the like will frequently occur in
Scripture, Mark 2.15, "As Jesus sat at meat in his (autou, that is,
Levi's) house," &c. "And they watched him," (and they followed him,
autw, that is, Jesus, Mark 3.) "whether he would heal him." Here is
auton for Jesus, and auton for the man which had the withered hand.
Gal. 1.16, "To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him;" here
is autou, ipsius, for God the Father, and auton, illum, for Christ.
So, then, the churches of Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, after
choosing of elders, who were also solemnly set apart with prayer and
fasting, were willing to let Paul and Barnabas go from them to the
planting and watering of other churches, and commended them unto
God, that he would open unto them a wide and effectual door, and
prosper the work of Christ in their hands, Eph. 6.18,19; or they
commended them unto God for their safety and preservation, as men
are said to commend their own spirits to God, Luke 23.46; 1 Pet.
4.19. This sense and interpretation, which I have only offered to be
considered, doth not bring any harshness, and much less offer any
violence, either to the text or context in the Greek. But if another
sense be liked better, whether to understand by autouV the elders
ordained, or the churches commended to God by Paul and Barnabas; or
to understand all the particulars mentioned in that 23d verse to be
common and joint acts done by Paul, Barnabas, and the churches, that
is, that they all concurred in making them elders by suffrage, in
prayer and fasting, and in commending themselves to the Lord, I
shall not contend, so long as the proper and native signification of
ceirotonhsanteV is retained; yea, although we should understand by
this word an act of Paul and Barnabas alone, distinct from the
church's suffrage and consent, even in that sense we lose not the
argument: for it cannot be supposed that the business was put to the
lifting or stretching out hand sin signum suffragii, between Paul
and Barnabas, as if it had been put to the question between them two
alone, whether such a man should be an elder in such a church. But
how, then, can it be an act of Paul and Barnabas? Thus if you will:
Those two did ceirotonein, creare suffragiis, vel per suffragia,
i.e., they ordained such men to be elders as were chosen by the
church. These two made or created the elders, but the people
declared by lifted-up hands whom they would have to be elders. So
Calvin, Justit., lib. 4, cap. 53, sect 15; even as, saith tie, the
Roman historians often tell us, that the consul who held the court
did create new magistrates, i.e., did receive the votes and preside
in the elections.

5. Luke doth usually mention the church's suffrage in making church
officers, or in designing men to sacred employments, as Acts
1.23,26; 13.3; 15.22 So doth Paul, 1 Cor. 16.3; 2 Cor. 8.19; 1 Tim.
3.7. So that it is not likely there should be no mention of the
church's election here where professedly and intentionally mention
is made of planting elders. The prayer and fasting, as Acts 13.2,3,
so likewise Acts 14.23, was common to the church: they prayed and
fasted cum discipulis, jejunantibus, saith the Gloss. All being one
work, why was not the ceirotonia common to the churches also?

6. Protestant writers draw from ceirotonhsanteV, the church's
suffrage; Magdeburgians, cent. 1, lib. 2, cap. 6; Zanchius, in 4
Prc.; Beza, Cartwright, and others, on the place; Bullinger, Decad.
5, ser. 4; Junius, Contro. 5, lib. 1, cap. 7; and others, against
Bellarmine, De Cler., cap. 7; Gerhard, tom. 6, p. 95; Brochmand,
Systhem., tom. 2, p. 886; Danus, in 1 Tim. 5.; Walus, in his
treatise Quibusnam Competat Vocatio Pastorum, and Loce, p. 474. Of
Papists also, Salmeron expoundeth this place by Acts 6.; and saith
the apostles gave the election to the churches, here of elders, as
there of deacons. Bellarmine, de Cler., cap. 7, and Esthius, in 2
Cor. 8.19, confess that, if we look either to the etymology of the
word, or the use of Greek authors, it is to choose by votes. If it
be objected to me, that ceirotonhsanteV being referred to the
people, will invest them with a judicial power, and a forensical or
juridical suffrage; and where is, then, the authority of the
eldership?

Answer. 1. It is like enough (though I confess not certain) that no
elderships were yet erected in those churches, Acts 14.23. But put
the case they had elderships; yet ceirotonhsanteV might well be
referred to the people, to signify their good liking and consent;
for in Athens itself; the people did ceirotonein when they did but
like well the persons nominated, as when a treasurer offered some to
be surety, ouV an o dhmoV ceirotonhsh , whom the people shall
approve; Demosthenes advers. Timocr. In which oration it is also to
be noted, that ekklhsia, the assembly, and dikashrion, the judicial
court or assembly of judges, are plainly distinguished, so far that
they might not be both upon one day; and that, though the people did
ceirotonein, yet not they, but the hliastai, or judges, did
kaqistanai archn, ordain or appoint a magistrate; see ibid. Jus
Jurandum Heliastarum. As for the objection from Acts 10.41,
proceirotonia is not the same with ceirotonia, but as it were the
preventing of ceirotonia by a prior designation.

2. It is there attribute to God metaforikwV, that in the counsel of
God the apostles were in a manner elected by voices of the Trinity,
Faciamus hominem, Gen. 1.26, and hindereth no more the proper
signification of the word, applied to men, than metamelia, ascribed
to God, can prove that there is no change in men when they repent,
because there is none in God. As for that objection made by a
learned man, that even the Septuagints, Isa. 58.9, have ceirotonia,
not for extensio or elevatio manuum, but for that which is in the
Hebrew immissio, or innixus digiti, or manus: Answer. (1.) It is not
put for innixus digiti, but for extensio digiti; for so is the text.
(2.) Sanctius, following Cyril, tells us, that the sense of the LXX.
turning the text so, was this: Nempe hic intelligi suffragia quibus
magistratus creantur, a quibus raro solet abesse munerum largitio et
corruptio juris; so that his argument may be retorted. I do not say
that this is the Prophet's meaning, but that it is the LXX.'s sense
of the text in using that word; for the most interpreters understand
by putting forth the finger there, derision and disdain. (3.) The
LXX. certainly did not intend the putting on, but the putting out of
the finger; so the Chaldee hath annuere digito; Jerome, extendere
digitum; which well agreeth with the Hebrew shekach, digitum
extendere, i.e., malum opus perlongare, saith Hugo Cardinalis. It
is, saith Emanuel Sa, minando, aut convitiando (which seemeth the
true sense). The Jesuits of Doway read, and cease to stretch out the
finger. Gualther readeth, emissionem digiti, and expoundeth thus,
medii digiti, ostensio erat contemptus indicium, digitis item
minitamur, suppose none of all these signify the laying on of the
hands or finger; but suppose that it is not laid on, and so much
shall suffice concerning these scriptures, Acts 6.2-6; 14.23.

3. A third argument from Scripture shall be this: If the
extraordinary office-bearers in these primitive times were not
chosen, nor put into their functions without the church's consent,
far less ought there now to be any intrusion of ordinary ministers
without the consent of the church. Judas and Silas were chosen with
consent of the whole church unto an extraordinary embassage, Acts
15.22. So were Paul's company chosen by the church, 2 Cor. 8.19. The
commissioners of the church of Corinth were approved by the church,
1 Cor. 16.3. Yea, Matthias, though an apostle, ugkateyhfiqh, that
is, was together chosen by suffrage, namely, of the hundred and
twenty disciples, Simul suffragiis electus est, as Arias Montanus
rightly turneth the word, Acts 1.23,26; Bellarmine, De Cler., cap.
7, acknowledgeth, yhfizesqai est dare suffragium, et yhfisma est
ipsum suffragium; Paul and Barnabas were extraordinary and
immediately called of God; yet, when they were to be sent to the
Gentiles, God would have the consent and approbation of the church
declared, Acts 13.3. I conclude this argument from Scripture with
the Magdeburgians, cent. 1, lib. 2, cap. 6, Neque apostolis, neque
alios ecclesi ministros sibi solis, sumpsisse potestatem eligendi
et ordinandi presbyteros et diaconos, sed ecclesi totius suffragia
et consensum adhibuisse ; tum ex, 1 Cor. 3.21,22, patet, tum
exemplis probatur, Acts 1.23; 6.6; 14.23.

The next argument is taken from antiquity. Cyprian, lib. 1, epist.
4, is very full and plain for the church's right and liberty in
elections. D. Field, lib. 5, cap. 54, citeth and Englisheth the
words at large. Leo, epist. 87, cap. 1, requireth, in the election
of bishops, Vota civium, testimonia populorum, epistola synodalis
concilii. Car., bar. Sussitani apud Augustinum; Enar., in Psalm 36,
saith, Necesse nos fuerat Primiani causam, quem plebs sancta
Carthaginensis ecclesi episcopum fuerat in ovile dei sortita,
seniorum litteris ejusdem ecclesi postulantibus audire atque
discutere. The Fourth Council of Carthage, can. 22, requireth to the
admission of every clergyman civium assensum, et testimonium et
convenientiam. Socrates, lib. 4, cap. 25, recordeth, that Ambrose
was chosen bishop of Milan with the uniform voice of the church;
and, lib. 6, cap. 2, he recordeth the like concerning the election
of Chrysostom to be bishop of Constantinople. Moreover, I find in
the pretended apostolical, but really ancient constitutions,
collected by one under the name of Clemens, lib. 8, cap. 4, it is
appointed to ordain a bishop thus qualified, en pasin amempton
apistindhn upo pantoV tou laou eklelegmenon, in all things
unblameable, one of the best, and chosen by all the people, unto
whom let the people, being assembled together on the Lord's day,
with the presbytery, and the bishops then present, give their
consent. Then immediately one of the bishops asks the eldership and
people presbuterion kai ton laon if they desire that man to be set
over them; which, if they consent unto, he next asketh them (as a
distinct question) whether they all give him a good testimony for
his life, &c. Greg. Nazianzen, orat. 31, commendeth Athanasius'
calling, as being after the apostolical example, because he was
chosen yhfw tou laou pantoV, by the suffrage of all the people. The
Council of Nice, in their epistle to them of Alexandria, appoint
some to succeed into the vacant places monon ei axioi fainointo, kai
o laoV airoito, so that they appear worthy, and the people choose
them. Greg, Mag., Epist., lib. 9, cap. 74: Clerum et populum
singularum civitatum hortari festina, ut inter se dissentire non
debeant, sed uno sibi consensu, unaquque civitas consecrandum
eligat sacerdotem. He that would have greater store of antiquity for
this, may read Blondel, Apol., p. 379-473. Gerhard citeth, for the
people's right, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Origen, Isidore, yea, twelve
popes, and divers ancient examples, as the election of Sabinianus,
of Athanasius, Peter the successor of Athanasius, of Eradius the
successor of Augustine, of Nectarius, of Ilavianus, and others,
chosen with the consent of the whole church; Gerhard, Loc. Com.,
tom. 6, sect. 95-97. What need we to say any more of this, Bilson
himself confesseth it, de Gubern. Eccles., cap. 15, p. 417; he saith
the ancient form was, totam ecclesiam nominationi et probationi
pastoris sui prius consensisse, quam pro electo haberetur; and he
observeth (which another of his mind saith with him, Hist. of
Episcopacy, part 2, p. 360), that the people did more willingly
receive, more diligently hear, and more heartily love those in whose
election their desires were satisfied. Bellarmine, de Cler., cap. 9,
confesseth that, in the time of Chrysostom, Ambrose, Augustine, Leo,
and Gregory, the received form of elections was, that both the
clergy and the people should choose. Ancient testimonies for the
people's election, see also Smectymnus, p. 34.

Thirdly, We argue from the judgment of sound Protestant churches and
writers. The Helvetic Confession tells us that the right choosing of
ministers is by the consent of the church. The Belgic Confession
saith, "We believe that the ministers, seniors, and deacons, ought
to be called to these their functions, and, by the lawful election
of the church, to be advanced into these rooms." See both in the
Harmony of Confessions, sect. 11. The French discipline we shall see
afterwards. The tenet of Protestants which Bellarmine, de Cler.,
cap. 2, undertaketh to confute, is this: Ut sine populi consensu et
suffragio, nemo legitime electus aut vocatus ad episcopatum
habeatur. And although our writers disclaim many things which he
imputeth unto them, yet I find not this disclaimed by any of them
who write against him. It is plainly maintained by Luther, lib. de
Potest. Pap; Calvin, in Acts 6.3; Beza, Confess., cap. 5, art. 35;
Musculus, in Loc. Com.; Zanchius, in 4 Prcept.; Junius, Animad. in
Bell., Contro. 5, lib. 1, cap. 7; Cartwright, on Acts 14.23;
Osiander, Hist. Eccles., cent. 4, lib. 3, cap. 38; Gualther, on Acts
6.; Stutonius Fazius, in 1 Tim. 5.22; Morney, de Eccles., cap. 11;
Balduine, de Instit. Ministrorum, cap. 6; Brochmand, System, tom. 2,
p. 885,886; Walus, de Vocatione Pastorum, and in Loc. Com., p. 474;
Bullinger, Decad. 5, ser. 3, p. 300; Smectymnus, p. 33,34;
Whittaker, in his manuscript, de Clericis, which was never printed,
ascribeth election to the people; so Festus Homius, Specimen.
Controv. Belgic., art. 31, and many others, whose testimonies we can
produce if need be.

Let five only speak for the rest:Calvin, in one of his epistles,
though writing against the itching ears and groundless conceits of
some people, yet asserteth this for a certain truth: Sane oportet
ministrum a populo approbatum esse, antequam in ministerii
possessionem mittatur, quod si quis seipsum intrudit alia via, ubi
in ecclesia ordo jam constitutus est, legitima vocatione
destituitur; see the Book of Epistles, p. 482, Edit. Genev., 1617.
Gerhard, tom. 6, p. 95, Ut Ecclesia consentiente pastores vocentur,
neve quis invit ecclesi obtrudatur; habet expressa in Scripturis
testimonia, et perpetua ecclesies primitiv praxi comprobatum est.
Zanchius, in 4 Prc., col. 81, saith, Est igitur manifestum nunquam
apostolos quempiam ad ministerium elegisse et ordinasse sua tantum
authoritate, sed semper id solites facere consentiente et approbante
ecclesia; and col. 782: Servatur hc eadem consuetudo etiamnum in
multis ecclesiis reformatis; and col. 783: Eligere pastores sine
plebis consensu, primum non est apostolicum, neque legitimum, eoque
talis minister: legitimus non fuerit minister, deinde pugnat cum
libertate ecclesi, eoque adimitur ei quod Christus donavit, quantum
autem est hoc crimen? Tertio non conducit pastori, quia nunquam bona
conscientia poterit suo fungi officio, neque etiam conducit
ecclesi, qua libenter non audiet, neque etiam, amabit eum, qui sibi
non consentienti obtrusus est. Danus, in 1 Tim. 5.22: Quemadmodum
totius ecclesi pastor est futurus, ita ab omnibus debet approbari,
ne quisquam gregi invito pastor obtrudatur. And after he hath
cleared the whole matter at length, he concludeth, Ex his autem
omnibus apparet, quam nulla sit vel non legitima eorum Dei
ministrorum, vel ecclesi pastorum vocatio, qui solius regis vel
regin, vel patroni, vel episcopi, archi-episcopi authoritate,
diplomate, bullis, jussu, et judicio fiunt vel eliguntur, id quod
dolendum est adhuc fieri in iis ecclesiis, qu tamen purum Dei
verbum habent, et sequuntur, veluti in media Anglia. The Professors
of Leyden, in Synops. Pur. Theol., disp. 42, thes. 32, Jus pastores
eligendi, est penes ecclesiam, ac proinde plebi commune, cum
presbyteris; jus eos ordinandi soli presbyterio est proprium. I must
not forget to mention the order of the church of Scotland. The First
Book of Discipline, in the fourth head, saith, "This liberty, with
all care, must be reserved to every several kirk, to have their
votes and suffrages in election of their ministers." The Second Book
of Discipline, cap. 3, saith, "In the order of election, it is to be
eschewed that any person be intruded in any offices of the kirk
contrary to the will of the congregation to which they are
appointed, or without the voice of the eldership. The General
Assembly at Edinburgh, Dec. 1562, sess. 3, made this act, "that
inhibition shall be made to all and sundry persons, now serving in
the ministry, that have not been presented by the people, or apart
thereof, to the superintendent." The General Assembly at Edinburgh,
May 1586, sess. 5, requireth the consent of the whole parish to a
minister's election. The words are these: "Anent the doubt moved, if
it be lawful to any town or city where there is an university, and a
part of the parish of the same town lying to landward, without their
consent and votes to elect a minister to the whole parish and
university, pretending the privilege of an old use and custom, the
kirk hath voted thereto negative, that it is not lawful to do so."
The General Assembly at Perth, in March 1596, sess. 6, doth forbid
the choosing of ministers without the consent of their own flocks.
The General Assembly at Glasgow, sess. 23, art. 20, doth revive the
ancient order thus: "Anent the presenting either of pastors, or
elders and schoolmasters, to particular congregations, that there be
a respect had to the congregation, and that no person be intruded in
any office of the kirk contrary to the will of the congregation to
which they are appointed." In the Treatise called The Order and
Government of the Church of Scotland (published anno 1641, for
information of the English, and for removing and preventing all
prejudices which the best affected amongst them had, or might
conceive, against our church government), we have these words, p. 8:
"So that no man is here intruded upon the people against their open
or tacit consent and approbation, or without the voices of the
particular eldership with whom he is to serve in the ministry." And
now, if, in any congregation of Scotland, the practice should be
contrary to the profession and rule established (which God forbid,
and I hope it never shall) it were a double fault and scandal.
Finally, the order of the church of Scotland is strengthened by the
civil law of the kingdom. For the second parliament of king Charles,
act 7, did ordain presbyteries to plant vacant kirks with consent of
the parishes; and act 8, anent the presbyteries providing and
admitting ministers to the kirks which belonged to bishoprics, it is
always provided, that this be without prejudice of the interest of
the parishes, according to the acts and practice of the kirk since
the Reformation. In the 9th act of the last session of the same
parliament, presbyteries are appointed to plant vacant churches upon
the suit and calling of the congregation.

In the fourth place, the point is confirmed from sound reason. For,
(1.) It is very expedient, for the credit and better success of the
ministry, that a bishop have a good name and testimony even among
them that are without, as the Apostle teacheth, 1 Tim. 3.7. It is
much more necessary that he be well liked and approved of them that
are within the church. (2.) It is a common maxim among the fathers,
schoolmen, and summists, Quod ad omnes pertinet omnium consensu
fieri debet. (3.) As the free consent of people, in the election, is
a great obligation and engagement, both to them to subject
themselves in Christian and willing obedience to him whom they have
willingly chosen to be over them in the Lord, and to the person
elected to love them and to offer up himself gladly upon the service
and sacrifice of their faith; so where this obligation or mutual
union of the hearts of pastor and people is wanting, mutual duties
are not done gnhsiwV, but as it were by constraint and necessity,
they in the meantime drawing back from the yoke, and he at the best
watching over them, not with joy, but with grief and sorrow of
heart. (4.) Instead of peace and harmony, there shall be contention
and contradiction. Gerhard, tom. 6, p. 105, Ministros vocari cum
consensu et suffragiis ecclesi cui prficiuntur, alit mutuam
concordiam inter auditores et pastores, summe necessariam, amovet
etiam dissidia ex neglectu hujus ordinis metuenda. (5.) It breedeth
great peace and confidence when one is thus called. Whittaker, de
Ecclesia, quest. 5, cap. 6, defendeth the calling of Luther,
Zuinglius, Oecolampadius, &c., upon this ground, Quia sunt a populis
et gregibus vocati. (6.) Experience hath made men to know the
comfortable fruits of free election, and the unhappy success of
violent intrusion. Constantius, the son of Constantine, did put
orthodox bishops from their places, and substitute Arians in their
room, with the contradiction and reluctation of the churches. The
like did Papists in the Palatinate, and other places, where their
Dagon was set up again. So did the authors and urgers of the Interim
in Germany. So did the prelates in Scotland, England, Ireland. Upon
all which intrusions many unspeakable evils did follow. If we, after
a second reformation, should now permit violent intrusions, this
might well be a prologue to much confusion and disorder.

Lastly, I argue from the confessions of adversaries themselves. We
have cited before the confession of Bilson, and of the author of The
History of Episcopacy, and of Salmeron: I will add Peresius, de
Traditionibus, who undertaketh to confute the Protestant tenet, that
it belongeth to the people to elect or reject their ministers. He
argueth from antiquity, and yet in that same argumentation he is
constrained to speak for us; for speaking of the three bishops
which, by the ancient canons, might ordain a bishop, he saith, Verum
tamen est quod episcopi isti qui ad electionem congregabantur,
consensum expectabant cleri et populi ut in concilio Carthaginensi
quarto refertur, qui consensus magis erat testificatio vit ejus qui
erat ordinandus, et signum quoddam expressivum ejus desiderii, quod
volebat Paulus quando bonum testimonium populi dicebat expectandum
ante ordinationem. Et infra. Hoc enim modo magis pretiosus esset
illis prlatus, magisque amabilis, ne cogerentur inviti inutiles
homines, et interdum perniciosos suis sudoribus alere. And,
answering to the passage of Cyprian, lib. 2, epist. 5, he saith,
That though he hath not read of it, yet forte erat mos tempore ejus
in ecclesis Hispaniarum (for they were two Spanish bishops of whom
Cyprian writes in that epistle) ut aliqui ex populo vocem haberent,
electivam. Quod vero dicit populum posse recusare indignos, etiam
fassi sumus, quantum ad electionem si indignitas ordinandi sit nota
et populo perniciosa. But what saith the canon law itself? Decr.,
part 1, dest. 62, Electio clericorum est petitio plebis. He was a
popish archbishop who condescended that the city of Magdeburg should
have jus vocandi et constituendi ecclesi ministros; neither would
the city admit of peace without this condition, Thuan. Hist., lib.
83, p. 85. I had almost forgot Dr Field, Of the Church, lib. 5, cap.
54, confessing plainly that each people and church "stand free by
God's law to admit, maintain, and obey no man as their pastor
without their liking; and that the people's election, by themselves
or their rulers, dependeth on the first principles of human
fellowships and assemblies; for which cause the bishops, by God's
law, have power to examine and ordain before any man be placed to
take charge of souls, yet have they no power to impose a pastor upon
any church against their wills." He citeth divers testimonies of
antiquity to show that the ancient elections were by the church, or
the greater part thereof.

It remaineth to answer some objections. And, first, it is objected
that this is a tenet of Anabaptists, Independents, and Separatists.
Answer. But shall we condemn these truths which either they, or
Papists, or Arians do hold? Quid est, saith Cyprian, quia hoc facit
Novatianus ut nos non putemus esse faciendum? We may go one mile
with the Scriptures, though we go not two miles with the
Independents, or three miles with the Anabaptists or Separatists.
(2.) Neither, in this same point of elections, do we homologate with
them who give to the collective body of the church (women and
children under age only excepted) the power of decisive vote and
suffrage in elections, we give the vote only to the eldership or
church representative, so that they carry along with them the
consent of the major or better part of the congregation. Gamachus,
in Primam Secund, quest. 15, tells us out of Thomas this difference
betwixt consent and election, that though every choosing be a
consenting, yet every consenting is not a choosing. The liberty of
consent is one thing; counsel or deliberation another thing; the
power of a decisive voice in court or judicatory a third thing. I
speak of a constituted church (for where there is not yet an
eldership there can be no such distinction; yet, however, be there
an eldership, or be there none, the church's consent must be had).
The first of these we ascribe to the whole church, without whose
knowledge and consent ministers may not be intruded; the second to
the ablest and wisest men of the congregation, especially to
magistrates, with whose special advice, privity, and deliberation,
the matter ought to be managed; the third, which is the formal and
consistorial determination of the case of election, consisteth in
the votes of the eldership. Their way is much different from this,
who would have the matter prepared by the conference and
deliberation of the eldership (as we use to do in committees), but
determined and decided by the votes of the whole congregation. (3.)
Let them speak for us who have particularly written against the
Separatists and Independents. Laget, in his Defence of Church
Government, part 1, cap. 1, in the stating of the question about
popular government, declareth that the question is not whether, in
matters of greater importance and more public concernment (as
admissions, excommunications, and absolutions of members, elections,
and depositions of officers), the case ought to be made known unto,
and determined with the free consent of the people (for all this he
willingly granteth), but whether every cause to be determined ought
to be brought to the multitude or body of the congregation, and they
to give their voices therein together with the officers of the
church.

Mr. Herle, the reverend and learned prolocutor of the Assembly of
divines at Westminster, in his treatise entitled, The Independency
on Scriptures, of the Independency of the Churches, p. 3, while he
stateth the question, saith, "We acknowledge that the pastors and
other officers were anciently, and it is to be wished they still
were, chosen, at least consented to, by the members of each
respective congregation, but that they are to be ordained, deposed,
or excommunicated by the presbytery," &c. Moreover, they of the
separation, and if not all, yet, sure, some Independents, place the
whole essentiality of a calling in election, accounting ordination
to be no more but the solemnization of the calling. We say, exousia,
or the missio potestativa, or the power and commission given to a
man, by which he is made of no minister to be a minister, is not
from the church's electing him, but from the lawful ordaining him;
and that election doth but design such a person to the ministry of
such a church. For as Gamachus saith, in tertiam partem Thom de
Sacr. Ordin., cap. 7, the people cannot give spiritual authority
which themselves have not. Et quamvis fateamur, saith he, laicos
spissime vocatos ad electionem ministrorum ecclesi, tamen longe
est aliud loqui de ordinatione, quam de electione, &c.

Obj. 2. This liberty granted to congregations prejudgeth the right
of patrons. Answer. 1. If it were so, yet the argument is not
pungent in divinity, for why should not human right give place to
divine right? Nec episcopale nec patronatus jus ecclesiasticis
canonibus introductum prjudicare potest potestati jure divino toti
ecclesi in ministrorum electione competenti, saith Gerhard, tom. 6,
sect. 114. The states of Zealand did abolish patronages, and give to
each congregation the free election of their own minister, which I
take to be one cause why religion flourisheth better there than in
any other of the united provinces.

Obj. 3. The church's liberty of consenting or not consenting,
asserted by the arguments above mentioned, must ever be understood
to be rational, so that the church may not disassent without
objecting somewhat against the doctrine or life of the person
presented. Answer. 1. The author of The History of Episcopacy, part
6, p. 362, 364, tells us out of the book of ordination, that the
people are free to except against those that are to be ordained, and
are required, if they know any crime for which they ought not to be
received into the ministry, to declare the same. He saith further,
that presbyters are elected by the patrons, for, and in the name of,
the rest of the people, p. 365; so Peresius, de Tradit., part 3, p.
200, confesseth that people should be required to object what they
can against the fitness of the man to be ordained. Now, then, if
this be all, that people may object, it is no more than prelates,
yea, Papists, have yielded. Answer. 2. This objection cannot strike
against the election of a pastor by the judgment and votes of the
particular eldership of that church where he is to serve; for it is
evident by the scriptures, testimonies, and reasons above specified,
not only that the church hath liberty of disassenting upon grounds
and causes objected, but that the eldership hath power and liberty
positive to elect (by voices) their ministers. Now men vote in
elderships (as in all courts and consistories) freely, according to
the judgment of their conscience, and are not called to an account
for a reason of their votes. (3.) As the vote of the eldership is a
free vote, so is the congregation's consent a free consent, and the
objection holdeth no more against the latter than against the
former; for they are both jointly required by the church of
Scotland, as appeareth by the citations foresaid. (4.) Any man
(though not a member of the congregation) hath place to object
against the admission of him that is presented, if he know such an
impediment as may make him incapable either at all of the ministry,
or the ministry of that church to which he is presented; so that
unless the congregation have somewhat more than liberty of
objecting, they shall have no privilege or liberty but that which is
common to strangers as well as to them. In this fourth answer I am
confirmed by Blondel, a man entrusted and set apart by the national
synod of the reformed churches of France, for writing and handling
of controversies. In his Apologia pro Sententia Hieronym, p. 383,
replying to Bellarmine, who would enervate Cyprian's testimonies
(for the people's right to choose their ministers) by this evasion
which I now speak to, saith, Nec putidum in gravi Scriptore
commentum ferendum, populum habere potestatem eligendi et suffragium
ferendi, quia potest dicere siquid noverit boni vel mali de
ordinando, et sic testimonio sue efficere ut non eligatur: quasi
vero is eligendi et suffragium ferendi potestate prditus eaque usus
dici debeat, qui id tantum prestat, quod omni electionis et
suffragii jure absolute carens prstare (quando cunque libet)
potest, aut oris quisquam adeo duri reperiatur ut infidelium
pessimos quicquid boni vel mali de ordinando noverint dicere, et sic
testimonio sue ut non eligatur efficere posse negare audeat,
habebunt scilicet ex adversarii hypothesi, quo cum fidelibus jure,
eligendi et suffragium ferendi potestatem. (5.) Though nothing be
objected against the man's doctrine or life, yet if the people
desire another better, or as well qualified, by whom they find
themselves more edified than by the other, that is a reason
sufficient (if a reason must be given at all), and it is allowed by
Danus in 1 Tim. 5.22, and by the First Book of Discipline, in the
fourth head. (6.) It being condescended upon in the parliament of
Scotland, that his Majesty, with consent and advice the estates,
should nominate the officers of estate, the estates of parliament
were pressed to give a reason of their disassenting from his
Majesty's nomination, but they refused; and, I am sure, consenting
or not consenting, in a matter ecclesiastical, ought to be as free,
if not more free, than in a matter civil.

Obj. 4. This course may prove very dangerous for an apostatizing
congregation; for a people inclining to heresy or schism will not
consent to the admission of an orthodox and sound minister. Answer.
(1.) The intrusion of ministers against the congregation's will,
doth more generally and universally draw after it great evils and
inconveniences. (2.) The corruptions of many patrons, and,
peradventure, also some presbyters, may be more powerful to intrude
insufficient or unsound ministers than the unsoundness or error of
this or that particular congregation, can be to hinder the admission
of them that are sound. (3.) We shall heartily accord that an
heretical or a schismatical church hath not just right to the
liberty and privilege of a sound church. (4.) Zanchius, in 4 Prc.,
col. 784, would have a congregation, infected with heresy or
superstition, before there be a ministry settled among them, to be
first convinced of their error by some other pastor sent unto them
by the Christian magistrate for a time, and, extraordinarily, as a
kind of evangelist. At vero, saith he, cum constitut sunt et
format ver ecclesi, cur tunc saltem, non relinquitur illis
libertas eligendi suos pastores?

Obj. 5. People do often err in their choice, and cannot judge of the
qualifications and abilities of pastors, but follow blindly the
humours of their lords or leaders. Answer. (1.) We must believe what
Christ saith, John 10.4,5, that his sheep know his voice, and a
stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him. (2.) There
are also in presbyteries, and in all judicatories, some leading men
whose judgment is much respected and hearkened unto. (3.) He that
followeth another is not ever blind: a people may follow leading
men, and yet see with their own eyes too. (4.) When Bellarmine
objecteth that a people cannot judge whether a man be fit for the
ministry, Junius, Animad., contr. 5, lib. 1, cap. 7, not. 24,
answereth, that the congregation judgeth not simply and absolutely
whether one be fit for the ministry, but whether he be fit to serve
in the ministry among them; which two are so different, that of two
men offered to a congregation, he that is absolutely and simply the
best qualified for the ministry is not to be for that cause admitted
hic et nunc, but he who is fittest for that congregation. Now, a
rude and ignorant people can judge which of the two speaketh best to
their capacity and edification. (5.) When any congregation makes
choice of an unfit or dangerous person, against whom there is just
exception to be made, they must not, therefore, be robbed of their
right, but called upon to make a better choice. This right people
had from a pope. Greg., Mag. Epist., lib. 6, epist. 38: Habitatores
Lucensis civitaris queudam ad nos presbyterum adduxerunt, qui eis
debuisset episcopus ordinari, sed quia minime dignus inventus est
nec diu sine proprio possunt consistere sacerdote; a nobis admoniti
in scrinio promisserunt alium studiose qurere, &c.

Obj. 6. Seldom or never shall a congregation be found all of one
mind, and because this might be answered in the words of Gregorius,
de Valentia in Iam Secund, disput. 7, qust. 5, punct. 5, Nam
moraliter loquendo illud tota communitas facere censetur quod facit
major ipsius pars; therefore, to make the objection stronger, it may
be further added, that oftentimes the greater part shall overcome
the better part, because, in every corporation, there are more bad
than good, more foolish than wise. This inconveniency is objected by
Bellarmine, de Clericis, cap. 7, who tells us further, that popular
elections are subject to tumults and seditions. We answer with
Junius, ubi supra, not. 23, 27, (1.) Inconveniences do also follow
upon elections made by presbyteries and patrons without the people's
consent. (2.) De incommodis prudenter curandis, non de re sancta
mutanda temere, sapientes videre oportuit. (3.) For avoiding
inconvenience of this kind, it is to be remembered, that the
congregation ought to be kept in unity and order (so far as may be)
by the directions and precedence of their elders, and by the
assistance of brethren chosen out of other churches, when need so
requireth. (4.) Zanchius, ubi supra, col. 783, answereth out of
Calvin, Prsideant plebi in electione alii pastores, et cum illis
etiam magistratus conjungatur, qui compescat tumultuantes et
seditiosos; wherein there is great need of caution, lest, under
pretence of suppressing tumults, the church's liberty of consenting
or not consenting be taken away; as, upon the other part, the
election is not to be wholly and solely permitted to the multitude
or body of the church; which is the meaning of the 13th canon of the
council of Laodicea, as it is expounded by Osiander, Gerhard,
Junius, and others. (5.) When a congregation is rent asunder, and
cannot agree among themselves, this evil may be helped in
subordinate, though not in independent churches; for the higher
consistories, the presbyteries and assemblies of the church, can end
the controversy and determine the case, after hearing of both sides.

Obj. 7. As for that which may reflect on ministers that have not the
people's consent. Answer. (1.) It is ordination that maketh men
ministers; and the want of the church's suffrage cannot hinder their
being ministers, it concludeth only that they do not rite and
ordinate enter into their ministry hic et nunc in such a church.
(2.) This is also helped by a posterior approbation of the church,
as a woman marrying a man unwillingly, yet after loving him as her
husband, removeth that impediment.

I conclude with a passage out of the Ecclesiastical Discipline of
the Reformed Churches in France, cap. 1, "The silence of the people,
none contradicting, shall be taken for an express consent; but in
case there arise any contention, and he that is named should be
liked by the consistory, and disliked by the people, or by most part
of them, his reception is then to be delayed, and report of all to
be made unto the conference or provincial synod, to consider as well
the justification of him that is named, as of his rejection. And
although he that is named should there be justified, yet he is not
to be made or given as a pastor to the people against their will,
nor to the dislike, displeasure, and discontent of most of them."
Nay, the popish French church hath no less zealously stood for their
liberty in this point, in so much, that the intrusion of men into
ecclesiastical charges by the Pope himself hath been openly opposed,
as shall most fully appear to any who shall read the book entitled,
Pro libertate Ecclesi Gallican Adversus Romanam Aulam Defensio,
Parisiensis Curi, Ludovico Undecimo Gallorum Regi Quondam Oblata;
in which they do assert, against the papal usurpations, the liberty
of elections both by clergy and people. Their reasons are these,
among others: Cum episcopus ecclesi sponsus sit, et matrimonium
quoddam spirituale inter ipsum et ecclesiam contrahatur necessario
consensus ecclesi intervenire debet. And after: Cum episcopus
solemniter a collegio eligitur, confirmaturque servata programmatum
et inquisitionum forma, eo certe major est populi de eo existimatio,
magisque eum venerantur, observant et diligunt populares, quam si
ipsis invitis obtrudatur. Ideoque doctrina ejus longe fructuosior
est, et ad edificandum multo efficacior. Hinc tametsi Petrus Christi
vicarius esset, et caput ecclesi; tamen mortuo Juda qui unus
apostolorum erat cteri omnes pariter elegerunt, et sors cecidit
super Matthiam, ut in Actis Apostolorum legitur. Lucius Pontifex
Romanus vir sanctus, et Martyr, qui ecclesi Roman prfuit anno
154, ita decrevit: Nullus in ecclesia ubi duo vel tres fuerunt in
congregatione, nisi eorum electione canonica, presbyter eligatur,
&c. The same thing doth Duranus, De Sacr. Eccles. Minist., lib. 5,
cap. 1, confirm, not only from the ancient canons, but from the
election of Matthias, Acts 1., and that of the deacons, Acts 6.

 

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