Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.—Rom. 8.33





of the Policie of the Kirk.

CHAP. 1.

Of the Kirk and policie thereof in generall, and wherein it

is different from the civill policie.

THE Kirk of God sometimes is largely taken, for all them that professe the Evangell of Iesus Christ, and so it is a company and fellowship not onely of the godly, but also of hypocrites professing alwayes outwardly the true religion.

Other times it is taken for the godly and elect onely, and sometimes for them that exercise spiritual function in the congregation of them that professe the truth.

The Kirke in this last sence hath a certaine power granted by God, according to the which it uses a proper iurisdiction and governement, exercised to the comfort of the whole Kirke.

This power Ecclesiasticall is an authoritie granted by God the Father, through the Mediator Iesus Christ, unto his Kirke gathered, & having the ground in the word of God to be put in execution by them, unto whom the spirituall government of the kirk by lawfull calling is committed.

The Policie of the Kirk flowing from this power, is an order or forme of spirituall government, which is exercised by the members appoynted thereto by the word of God: and therfore is given immediatly to the office-bearers, by whom it is exercised to the weale of the whole body. {72}

This power is diversly used: for sometime it is severally exercised, chiefly by the teachers, sometime conjunctly by mutuall consent of them that beare the office and charge, after the forme of judgement. The former is onely called potestas ordinis [power of order], and the other potestas iurisdictionis [power of jurisdiction].

These two kinds of power have both one authority, one ground, one finall cause, but are different in the manner, and forme of execution, as is evident by the speaking of our master in the 16 and 18 of Mathew.

This power and policie Ecclesiasticall, is different and distinct in the own nature from that power and policie, which is called civill power, and appertaineth to the civill government of the commonwealth: albeit they be both of God, and tend to one end, if they be rightly used, viz. to advance the glory of God, and to have godly and good subjects.

For this power Ecclesiasticall floweth immediatly from God, and the mediator Iesus Christ, and is spirituall, not having a temporall head in the earth, but onely Christ, the onely spirituall king and governour of his kirk.

It is a title falsly usurped by Antichrist, to call himselfe head of the kirk, and ought not to be attributed to Angel, nor man, of what estate that ever he be, saving to Christ the onely head and Monarch in the kirk.

Therefore this power and policie of the kirk should leane upon the word immediatly, as the onely ground thereof, and should be taken from the pure fountaines of the Scriptures, the kirk hearing the voyce of Christ the onely spirituall king, and being ruled by his lawes.

It is proper to kings, princes and magistrates to be called Lords, and dominators over their subjects whom they govern civilly, but it is proper to Christ onely to be called Lord and master in the spirituall government of the kirk, and all others that beare office therein, ought not to usurp dominion therein, nor be called Lords, but onely ministers, disciples, and servants. For it is Christs proper office to command and rule his kirk universally, and every particular kirk through his spirit and word, by the ministry of men.

Notwithstanding, as the ministers and others of the Ecclesiasticall estate are subject to the magistrate civill, so ought the person of the magistrate be subject to the kirk spiritually, and in Ecclesiasticall government. And the exercise of both these jurisdictions cannot stand in one person ordinarie [ordinarily].

The civill power is called the power of the sword, and the other the power of the keyes.

The civill power should command the spiritual to exercise, and {73} to doe their office according to the word of God; The spirituall rulers should require the Christian magistrate to minister justice, and punish vice, and to maintaine the libertie and quietnes of the kirk within their bounds.

The magistrate commandeth external things for externall peace and quietnesse amongst the subjects: the minister handleth externall things onely for conscience cause.

The magistrate handleth externall things onely, & actions done before men, but the spirituall ruler judgeth both inward affections, and externall actions in respect of conscience by the word of God.

The civill magistrate craves and gets obedience by the sword, and other externall meanes, but the ministerie, by the spirituall sword, and spirituall meanes.

The magistrate neither ought to preach, minister the sacraments, nor execute the censures of the kirk, nor yet prescribe any rule, how it should be done, but command the ministers to observe the rule commanded in the word, and punish the transgressors by civill meanes. The ministers exerce not the civill iurisdiction, but teach the magistrate, how it should be exercised according to the word.

The magistrate ought to assist, maintaine and fortifie the iurisdiction of the kirk. The ministers should assist their princes in all things agreeable to the word, providing they neglect not their own charge by involving themselves in civill affaires.

Finally, as ministers are subject to the judgement and punishment of the magistrate in externall things, if they offend: so ought the magistrates to submit themselves to the discipline of the kirk, if they transgresse in matters of conscience and religion.

CHAP. 2.

Of the of the Policie of the Kirk, and persons and office-

bearers to whom the administration is committed.

AS in the civill policie the whole commonwealth consisteth in them that are governors, or magistrates, and them that are governed, or subjects. So in the policie of the kirk some are appointed to be rulers, and the rest of the members thereof to be ruled, and obey according to the word of God, and inspiration of his spirit, alwayes under one head and chiefe governour, Iesus Christ.

Againe, the whole policie of the kirk consisteth in three things, in Doctrine, Discipline, and Distribution. With doctrine is annexed {74} the administration of Sacraments: and according to the parts of this division, ariseth a sort of threefold officers in the kirk, to wit, of Ministers Preachers, Elders Governours, and Deacons distributers. And all these may be called by a generall word, Ministers of the kirk. For albeit the kirk of God be ruled and governed by Iesus Christ, who is the onely king, high Priest, and head thereof, yet he useth the ministery of men, as the most necessary middes [means] for this purpose.

For so hee hath from time to time, before the law, under the law, and in the time of the Evangell for our great comfort raised up men indued with the gifts of the spirit, for the spirituall government of his kirk, exercising by them his own power, through his spirit and word to the building of the same.

And to take away all occasion of tyranny, hee will that they should rule with mutuall consent of brethren, and æqualitie of power, every one according to their functions.

In the new Testament, and time of the Evangell, hee hath used the ministery of the Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Doctors in administration of the word: The Eldership for good order, and administration of the discipline: The Deaconship to have the cure of the Ecclesiasticall goods.

Some of thir [these] Ecclesiasticall functions are ordinarie, and some extraordinary or temporarie. There be three extraordinary functions; The office of the Apostle, the Evangelist, and of the Prophet, which are not perpetuall, and now have ceased in the kirk of God, except when it pleased God extraordinarily for a time to stirre some of them up againe.

There are foure ordinarie functions or offices in the kirke of God, the office of the Pastor, Minister or Bishop, the Doctor, presbyter or Elder, and the Deacon.

Thir [these] offices are ordinarie, and ought to continue perpetually in the kirk, as necessarie for the government and policie thereof, and no moe offices ought to be received or suffered in the kirk of God, established according to his word.

Therefore all the ambitious titles invented in the kingdome of Antichrist, and in his usurped hierarchie, which are not of one of these foure sorts, together with the offices depending thereupon, in one word ought to be reiected.

CHAP. 3.

How the perſons that beare Ecclleſiaſticall functions, are to bee admitted

to their office.

VOcation or calling is common to all that should beare office within the Kirk, which is a lawfull way, by the which {75} qualified persons are promoted to any spirituall office within the Kirk of God.

Without this lawful calling it was never leasome [lawful] to any person to meddle with any function Ecclesiasticall.

There are two sorts of Calling, one extraordinarie by God immediately, as was of the Prophets and Apostles, which in Kirks established, and well alreadie reformed hath no place.

The other calling is ordinarie, which besides the calling of God, and inward testimony of a good conscience, is the lawfull approbation, and outward judgement of men, according to Gods word, and order established in his Kirk.

None ought to presume to enter in any office Ecclesiasticall without this good testimony before God, who onely knowes the hearts of men.

This ordinary and outward calling hath two parts, election and ordination. Election is the chosing out of a person, or persons, most able, to the office that vakes, by the judgement of the Eldership, and consent of the Congregation, to which shall be the person, or persons appointed.

The qualities in generall requisite in all them, who should beare charge in the Kirk, consist in soundnesse of religion, and godlinesse of life, according as they are sufficiently set forth in the Word.

In the order of Election it is to be eschewed, that any person be intrused 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.

None ought to be intrused, or placed in the places already planted, or in any roome that vakes not, for any worldly respect: and that which is called the benefice ought to be nothing else, but the stipend of the Ministers that are lawfully called.

Ordination is the separation and sanctifying of the person appointed to God and his Kirk, after he be well tryed and found qualified.

The Ceremonies of Ordination are fasting, earnest prayer, and imposition of hands of the Eldership.

All thir [these], as they must be raised up by God, and by him made able for the work whereto they are called; so ought they know their message to be limited within Gods word, without the bounds of which they ought not to passe.

All thir [these] should take these titles and names onely (lest they be exalted and puft up in themselves) which the Scriptures gives unto them, as these which import labour, travell [travail] and work, and are names of offices and service, and not of idlenesse, dignity, worldly {76} honour or preheminence, which by Christ our Master is expresly reproved and forbidden.

All these Office-bearers should have their own particular flocks amongst whom they exercise their charge.

All should make residence with them, and take the inspection and oversight of them, every one in his vocation.

And generally thir [these] twa things ought they all to respect: the glorie of God, and edifying of his Kirk, in discharging their dueties in their calling.

CHAP. 4.

Of the Office-bearers in particular, and first of the

Paſtors or Ministers.

PAstors, Bishops, or Ministers, are they who are appointed to particular Congregations, which they rule by the word of God, and over the which they watch. In respect whereof, sometime they are called Pastors, because they feed their Congregation; sometime Episcopi, or Bishops, because they watch above their flock; sometimes Ministers, by reason of their service and office, and sometimes also Presbyters or Seniors, for the gravity in manners which they ought to have in taking care of the spirituall government, which ought to be most deare unto them.

They that are called unto the Ministerie, or that offer themselves thereunto, ought not to be elected without any certain flock be assigned unto them.

No man ought to ingyre [obtrude] himselfe, or usurpe this Office without lawfull calling.

They who are once called by God, and duely elected by man, after that they have once accepted the charge of the Ministerie, may not leave their functions.

The desertours should be admonished, and in case of obstinacie finally excommunicate.

No Pastor may leave his flock without licence of the Provinciall, or Nationall Assembly, which if he doe, after admonitions not obeyed, let the censures of the Kirk strick upon him.

Vnto the Pastors apperteines teaching of the word of God, in season and out of season, publickly and privately, alwayes traueling [travailing] to edifie, and discharge his conscience, as Gods word prescribes to him.

Vnto the Pastors onely apperteins the administration of the Sacraments, in like manner as the administration of the Word: For both are appointed by God, as meanes to teach us, the one {77} by the eare, and the other by the eyes, and other senses, that by both, knowledge may be transferred to the minde.

It appertaines by the same reason to the Pastor to pray for the people, and namely, for the flock committed to his charge, and to blesse them in the name of the Lord, who will not suffer the blessings of his faithfull servants to be frustrate.

He ought also to watch above the manners of his flock, that the better he may apply the doctrine to them in reprehending the dissolute persons, and exhorting the godly to continue in the feare of the Lord.

It apperteines to the Minister after lawfull proceeding by the Eldership, to pronounce the sentence of binding and loosing upon any person, according unto the power of the keyes granted unto the Kirk.

It belongs to him likewise, after lawfull proceeding in the matter by the Eldership, to solemnizate mariage betwixt them, that are to be joyned therein, and to pronounce the blessing of the Lord upon them, that enter in at that holy band in the feare of God.

And generally all publick denunciations that are to be made in the Kirk before the Congregation concerning the Ecclesiasticall affaires belonging to the office of a Minister: For he is as messenger and Herauld betwixt God and the people in all these affaires.

CHAP. 5.

Of Doctors, and their Office, and of the


ONE of the two ordinary and perpetuall functions that travell in the Word, is the office of the Doctor, who may bee also called Prophet, Bishop, Elder, Catechiser, that is, teacher of the Catechisme, and rudiments of Religion.

His office is to open up the minde of the Spirit of God in the Scriptures simply, without such applications as the Ministers use, to the end that the faithfull may be instructed, and sound doctrine taught, & that the purity of the Gospell be not corrupted through ignorance, or evill opinions.

Hee is different from the Pastor, not onely in name, but in diversity of gifts. For to the Doctor is given the word of knowledge, to open up by simple teaching the mysteries of faith, to the Pastor the gift of wisedome, to apply the same by exhortation to the manners of the flock, as occasion craveth.

Vnder the name and office of a Doctor wee comprehend also {78} the order in Schooles, Colledges, and Vniversities, which hath been from time to time carefully maintained, as well among the Iewes and Christians, as also among the prophane Nations.

The Doctor being an Elder, as said is, should assist the Pastor in the government of the Kirk, and concurre with the Elders his brethren in all assemblies; by reason the interpretation of the Word, which is onely judge in Ecclesiasticall matters, is committed to his charge.

But to preach unto the people, to minister the Sacraments, and to celebrate mariages, perteine not to the Doctor, unlesse he be otherwise called ordinarily: howbeit the Pastor may teach in the Schooles, as he who hath the gift of knowledge, oftentimes meet for that end, as the examples of Polycarpus, and others testifie; &c.

CHAP. 6.

Of Elders, and their Office.

THE word Elder in the Scripture, sometime is the name of Age, sometime of Office. When it is the name of any Office, some time it is taken largely, comprehending as well the Pastors and Doctors, as them who are called Seniors or Elders.

In this our division, we call these Elders, whom the Apostles call Presidents or Governours. Their office as it is ordinary, so is it perpetuall and alwaies necessarie in the Kirk of God. The Eldership is a spirituall function, as is the Ministerie.

Elders once lawfully called to the office, and having gifts from God meet to exercise the same, may not leave it againe. Albeit such an number of Elders may be chosen in certaine Congregations, that one part of them may relieve another for a reasonable space, as was among the Levites under the Law in serving of the Temple.

The number of the Elders in every Congregation cannot well be limited, but should be according to the bounds and necessitie of the people.

It is not necessarie that all Elders be also teachers of the word, albeit the chiefe ought to be such and swa are worthie of double-honour.

What manner of persons they ought to be, we referre it to the expresse word, and namely the Canons written by the Apostle Paul. [1 Tim. 3.1-7; Titus 1.5-9.]

Their office is as well severally, as conjunctly, to watch diligently upon the flock committed to their charge, both publickly, and privately, that no corruption of Religion, or manners, enter therein. {79}

As the Pastors and Doctors should be diligent in teaching and sowing the seed of the Word, so the Elders should be carefull in seeking the fruit of the same in the people.

It appertaines to them to assist the Pastor in examination of them that come to the Lords Table: item, in visiting the sick.

They should cause the actes of the Assemblies, as well particular as generall to be put in execution carefully.

They should be diligent in admonishing all men of their dutie according to the rule of the Evangell.

Things that they cannot correct by private admonitions they should bring to the Eldership.

Their principall office is to hold Assemblies with the Pastors & Doctors who are also of their number, for establishing of good order and execution of discipline, unto the which Assemblies all persones are subject that remaine within their bounds.

CHAP. 7.

Of the Elderships, Assemblies, and Discipline.

ELderships and Assemblies are commonly constitute of Pastors, Doctors, and such as we commonly call Elders, that labour not in the word and doctrine, of whom, and of whose severall power hath bene spoken.

Assemblies are of foure sorts. For either are they of particular Kirks and Congregations ane or moe, or of a Province, or of a whole nation, or of all and divers Nations professing one Iesus Christ.

All the Ecclesiasticall Assemblies have power to convene lawfully together for treating of things concerning the Kirk, and perteining to their charge.

They have power to appoint times, and places to that effect, and at one meeting to appoint the dyet, time and place for another.

In all Assemblies an Moderatour should be chosen by common consent, of the whole brethren convened, who should propone matters, gather the votes, and cause good order to be kept in the Assemblies.

Diligence should be taken, chiefly by the Moderator, that onely Ecclesisticall things be handled in the Assemblies, and that there be no medling with any thing perteining to the civill jurisdiction.

Every Assembly hath power to send forth from them of their own number, ane or moe visitours to see how all things be ruled in the bounds of their jurisdiction.

Visitation of moe Kirks is no ordinary Office Ecclesiastick in the person of one man, neither may the name of a Bishop be {80} attribute to the visitor onely, neither is it necessary to abide alwaies in one mans person, but it is the part of the Eldership to send out qualified persons to visit pro re nata.

The finall end of assemblies is first to keep the religion and doctrine in puritie without error and corruption. Next, to to keepe comelinesse and good order in the kirk.

For this orders cause, they may make certaine rules and constitutions appertaining to the good behaviours of all the members of the kirk in their vocation.

They have power also to abrogate and abolish all statutes and ordinances concerning Ecclesiastical matters, that are found noysome and unprofitable, and agree not with the time, or are abused by the people.

They have power to execute Ecclesiastical discipline & punishment upon all transgressors, and proud contemners of the good order and policie of the kirke, and so the whole discipline is in their hands.

The first kinde and sort of assemblies, although they be within particular congregations, yet they exerce the power, authoritie and jurisdiction of the kirk with mutuall consent, and therefore beare sometime the name of the kirk.

When we speake of the Elders of the particular congregations, we mean not that every particular parish kirk can, or may have their own particular Elderships, specially in Landward; but wee think three, foure, moe, or fewer particular kirks, may have one Eldership common to them all, to judge their Ecclesiasticall causes.

Yet this is meet, that some of the Elders be chosen out of every particular congregation, to concurre with the rest of their brethren in the common assembly, and to take up the delations of offences within their owne kirks, and bring them to the assembly.

This we gather of the practise of the primitive kirk, where Elders or colledges of Seniors were constitute in cities and famous places.

The power of their particular Elderships, is to use diligent labours in the bounds committed to their charge, that the kirks be kept in good order, to inquire diligently in naughtie and unruly persons, and travell to bring them in the way againe, either by admonition or threatning of Gods judgements; or by correction.

It pertaines to the Eldership to take heed, that the word of God be purely preached within their bounds, the sacraments rightly ministred, the discipline rightly maintained, and the Ecclesiasticall goods uncorruptly distributed.

It belongs to this kinde of assembly, to cause the ordinances made by the assemblies provinciall, nationall, and generall, to be kept, and put in execution. {81}

To make constitutions which concerne το πρεπον [becoming, suitable] in the kirk, for the decent order of these particular kirks, where they governe: providing they alter no rules made by the generall, or provinciall assemblies, and that they make the provinciall assemblies foreseen of these rules that they shall make and abolish them that tend to the hurt of the same.

It hath power to excommunicate the obstinate.

The power of election of them who beare Ecclesiasticall charges, pertaines to this kind of assembly within their owne bounds, being well erected, and constitute of many Pastors, and Elders of sufficient abilitie.

By the like reason their deposition also pertains to this kinde of assembly, as of them that teach erronious and corrupt doctrine, that be of slanderous life, and after admonition desist not, that be given to schisme, or rebellion against the kirke, manifest blasphemy, simonie, corruption of bribes, falshood, perjurie, whoordome, theft, drunkennesse, fighting worthy of punishment by the Law, usurie, dauncing, infamie, and all others, that deserve separation from the kirk.

These also who are altogether found unsufficient to execute their charge should be deposed, whereof other kirks would be advertised, that they receive not the persons deposed.

Yet they ought not to be deposed, who through age, sicknesse, or other accidents, become unmeet to do their office, in which case their honour should remain to them, their kirk should maintaine them; and others ought to be provided to doe their office.

Provinciall assemblies wee call lawfull conventions of the Pastors, Doctors, and other Elders of a province, gathered for the common affaires of the kirkes therof, which also may bee called the conference of the kirk and brethren.

Thir [these] assemblies are institute for weightie matters to be intreated by mutuall consent and assistance of the brethren within that province, as need requires.

This assembly hath power to handle, order, & redresse all things committed or done amisse in the particular assemblies.

It hath power to depose the office-bearers of that province for good and just causes deserving deprivation.

And generally thir [these] assemblies have the whole power of the particular Elderships whereof they are collected.

The Nationall assembly, which is generall to us, is a lawfull convention of the whole kirks of the realm or nation where it is used and gathered, for the common affaires of the kirk, and may be called the generall Eldership of the whole kirks in the realme. None are subject to repaire to this assembly to vote, but Ecclesiasticall {82} Persons to such a number, as shall be thought good by the same Assemblie, not excluding other persons that will repaire to the said Assembly to propone, heare, and reason.

This Assemblie is institute, that all things either committed, or done amisse in the Provinciall Assemblies, may be redressed and handled, and things generally serving for the weale of the whole bodie of the Kirk within the Realme may be foreseene, intreated, and set forth to Gods glorie.

It should take care, that Kirks be planted in places where they are not planted.

It should prescribe the rule how the other two kinds of Assemblies should proceed in all things.

This Assembly should take heed, that the spirituall jurisdiction, and civill, be not confounded to the hurt of the Kirk: That the patrimonie of the Kirk be not consumed, nor abused; and generally concerning all weighty affaires that concerne the weale and good order of the whole Kirks of the Realm, it ought to interpone authoritie thereto.

There is besides these, an other more generall kinde of Assemblie, which is of all Nations, and all estates of persons within the Kirk, representing the universall Kirk of Christ, which may bee called properly the Generall Assembly, or Generall Councell of the Kirk of God.

These Assemblies were appointed and called together specially, when any great schisme or controversie in doctrine did arise in the Kirk, and were convocate at command of godly Emperours being for the time, for avoiding of schismes within the universall Kirk of God, which because they perteine not to the particular estate of any Realme we cease further to speak of them.

CHAP. 8.

Of the Deacons and their office, the last ordinary

function in the Kirk.

THE word Διακονος sometimes is largely taken, comprehending all them that beare office in the Ministerie, and spirituall function in the Kirk.

But now, as we speake, it is taken onely for them, unto whom the collection and distribution of the almes of the faithfull and Ecclesiasticall goods doth belong.

The office of the Deacons so taken, is an ordinarie and perpetuall Ecclesiasticall function in the Kirk of Christ.

Of what properties and duties he ought to be that is called to this function, we remit it to the manifest Scriptures. {83}

The Deacon ought to be called and elected, as the rest of the spirituall Officers, of the which election was spoken before.

Their office and power is to receive, and to distribute the whole Ecclesiasticall goods unto them, to whom they are appointed.

This they ought to doe according to the judgement, and appointment of the Presbyteries, or Elderships (of the which the Deacons are not) that the patrimony of the Kirk and poore, be not converted to private mens uses, nor wrongfully distribute.

CHAP. 9.

Of the Patrimonie of the Kirk, and distribution thereof.

BY the Patrimonie of the Kirk, we meane whatsoever thing hath been at any time before, or shall be in times comming given, or by consent or universall custome of countries professing the Christian Religion applyed to the publique use and utilitie of the Kirk.

So that under the Patrimonie we comprehend all things given, or to be given to the Kirk and service of God, as lands, biggings, possessions, annuel rents, and all such like, wherewith the Kirk is doted either by donations, foundations, mortifications, or any other lawfull titles of Kings, Princes, or any persons inferiour to them, together with the continuall oblations of the faithfull.

We comprehend also all such things, as by lawes or custome, or use of countries have been applyed to the use and utility of the Kirk; of the which sort are Teinds, Manses, Gleibs, and such like, which by common and municipall lawes and universall custome are possessed by the Kirk.

To take any of this patrimonie by unlawfull meanes, and convert it to the particular and profane use of any person, we hold it a detestable sacriledge before God.

The goods Ecclesiasticall ought to be collected, and distributed by the Deacons, as the word of God appoints, that they who beare office in the Kirk be provided for without care or solicitude.

In the Apostolicall Kirk, the Deacons were appointed to collect and distribute what summe soever was collected of the faithfull, to distribute unto the necessitie of the Saints, so that none lacked amongst the faithfull.

These collections were not onely of that which was collected in manner of almes, as some suppose, but of other goods, moveable, and unmoveable, of lands and possessions, the price whereof was brought to the feet of the Apostles.

This office continued in the Deacons hands, who intrometted with the whole goods of the Kirk, ay and while [ever & until] the estate therof {84} was corrupted by Antichrist, as the ancient Canons beare witness.

The same Canons make mention of a fourefold distribution of the patrimonie of the kirk, whereof one part was applyed to the Pastor or Bishop for his sustentation and hospitality; another to the Elders and Deacons, & all the Clergie; the third to the poore, sick persons and strangers; the fourth to the upholding other affaires of the kirk, specially extraordinary.

We adde hereunto the schooles and schoolemasters also, which ought and may be well susteined of the same goods, and are comprehended under the Cleargie. To whom we joyn also Clerks of Assemblies, as well particular as generall, syndicks or procutors of the kirk affaires, takers up of Psalmes, and such like other ordinary Officers of the Kirk, so farre as they are necessary.

CHAP. 10.

Of the Office of a Christian Magistrate in the Kirk.

ALthough all the members of the kirk be holden every one in their vocation, & according therto, to advance the Kingdom of Iesus Christ, so far as lyeth in their power, yet chiefly Christian Princes, and other Magistrates, are holden to doe the same.

For they are called in the Scripture nourishers of the Kirk, for so much as by them it is, or at least ought to be mainteined, fostered, upholden, and defended against all that would procure the hurt thereof.

So it perteines to the office of a Christian Magistrate, to assist and fortifie the godly proceedings of the Kirk in all behalfes; and namely to see that the publique estate and ministerie thereof be maintained & susteined, as it appertaines, according to Gods word.

To see that the kirk be not invaded, nor hurt by false Teachers, and Hirelings, nor the roomes therof be occupied by dumb doggs, or idle bellies.

To assist and maintaine the discipline of the kirk, and punish them civilly, that will not obey the censure of the same, without confounding alwaies the one jurisdiction with the other.

To see that sufficient provision be made for the ministerie, the schooles, and the poore: and if they have not sufficient to awaite upon their charges, to supply their indigence even with their own rents, if need require.

To hold hand as well to the saving of their persons from injurie and open violence, as to their rents and possessions, that they be not defrauded, robbed, nor spoiled thereof.

Not to suffer the patrimony of the kirk to be applyed to profane and unlawful uses, or be devoured by idle bellies, & such as have no lawfull function in the kirk, to the hurt of the Ministery, schooles, {85} poore, & other godly uses, wherupó the same ought to be bestowed.

To make lawes and constitutions agreeable to Gods word, for advancement of the kirk, and policie therof, without usurping any thing that perteins not to the civil sword, but belongs to the offices that are meerly Ecclesiasticall, as is the ministerie of the Word and Sacraments, using Ecclesiasticall Discipline, and the spirituall execution therof, or any part of the power of the spirituall keyes, which our Master gave to the Apostles, and their true successours.

And although Kings and Princes that be godly, some times by their own authority, when the kirk is corrupted and all things out of order; place Ministers, & restore the true service of the Lord, after the example of some godly Kings of Iuda, and divers godly Emperours, and Kings also in the light of the new Testament. Yet where the ministerie of the kirk is once lawfully constitute, and they that are placed doe their office faithfully, all godly Princes and Magistrates ought to heare, and obey their voice, and reverence the Majestie of the Son of God speaking in them.

CHAP. 11.

Of the present abuses remaining in the Kirk, which

we desire to be reformed.

AS it is the duty of the godly Magistrate to maintain the present liberty, which God hath granted by the preaching of his Word, and the true administration of the Sacraments within this Realm: So is it to provide, that all abuses which yet remaine in the Kirk, be removed, and utterly taken away.

Therfore first the admission of men to papisticall titles of benefices, such as serve not, nor have no function in the Reformed Kirk of Christ, as abbotes, commendators, priors, prioresses, and other titles of Abbeyes, whose places are now for the most part by the just judgement of God demolished, and purged of idolatry, is plaine abuse, and is not to receive the Kingdom of Christ amongst us, but rather to refuse it.

Such like that they that of old were called the chapiters & convents of Abbeyes, cathedrall kirks, & like places, serve for nothing now, but to set fewes & tacks [feudal leases], if any thing be left of the Kirk lands and teinds, in hurt and prejudice therof, as daily experience teacheth, and therefore ought to be uterly abrogate and abolished.

Of the like nature are the Deanes, Archdeacones, Chantours, Subchantours, Thesaurers, Chancellors and others having the like titles flowing from the Pope and Canon Law onely, who have no place in the reformed Kirk.

The Kirks also which are united together, and joyned by annexation to their benefices, ought to be separated and divided, and given {86} to qualified Ministers, as Gods word craves.

Neither ought such abusers of the Kirks Patrimony to have vote in Parliament, nor sit in Councell under the name of the Kirk and Kirkemen, to the hurt and prejudice of the liberty thereof, & lawes of the Realm made in favour of the Reformed Kirk.

Much lesse is it lawfull, that any person amongst these men should have five, sixteen, twenty or moe Kirks, all craving the charge of soules, and bruike the patrimony thereof, either by admission of the Prince, or of the Kirk, in this light of the Evangell. For it is but a mockage to crave reformation, where such like have place.

And in so farr, as in the order taken at Leith in the yeare of our Lord 1571, it appeares that such may be admitted, being found qualified; either that pretended order is against all good order, or else it must be understood not of them that be qualified in worldly affaires, or to serve in court, but such as are qualified to teach Gods word, having their lawfull admission of the kirk.

As to Bishops, if the name επισκοπος be properly taken, they are all one with the ministers, as before was declared. For it is not a name of superioritie, and Lordship, but of office and watching.

Yet because in the corruption of the kirk, this name (as others) haue been abused, and yet is likely to be, wee cannot allow the fashion of these new chosen Bishops, neither of the Chapiters that are Electors of them to such offices, as they are chosen unto.

True Bishops should addict themselves to a particular flock, which sundry of them refuse, neither should they usurpe Lordship over their brethren, and over the inheritance of Christ, as these men doe.

Pastors, in so farr as they are pastors, have not the office of visitation of moe kirkes joyned to the pastorship, without it be given to them.

It is a corruption, that Bishops should have further bounds to visit, nor [than] they may lawfully.

No man ought to have the office of visitation, but he that is lawfully chosen thereunto.

The Elderships being well established, have power to send out visitours one or moe, with commission to visit the bounds within their Eldership, and likewise after count [account] taken of them, either continue them, or remove them from time to time, to the which Elderships they shall be alwayes subject.

Criminall jurisdiction in the person of a pastor, is a corruption.

It agreeth not with the word of God, that Bishops should bee Pastors of Pastors, Pastors of many flockes, and yet without a certain flock, and without ordinary teaching. {87}

It agreeth not with the Scriptures, that they should be exemed from the correction of their brethren, and discipline of the particular Eldership of the Kirk, where they shall serve, neither that they usurpe the Office of visitation of other Kirks, nor any other Function beside other Ministers, but so far as shall be committed to them by the kirk.

Wherefore, we desire the Bishops that now are, either to agree to that order that Gods word requires in them, as the generall Kirk will prescribe unto them, not passing their bounds, either in Ecclesiasticall or Civill affaires, or else to be deposed from all function in the Kirk.

We denie not in the meane time, but Ministers may and should assist their Princes when they are required, in all things agreeable to the Word, whether it be in Councell or Parliament, or otherwayes, providing alwayes they neither neglect their owne charges, nor through flattery of Princes, hurt the publick estate of the Kirk.

But generally, we say no person, under whatsoever title of the Kirk; and specially the abused titles in Papistrie, of Prelates, Convents, and Chapters, ought to attempt any act in the Kirks name, either in Councell, or Parliament, or out of Councell, having no commission of the Reformed Kirk within this Realme.

And by Act of Parliament it is provided, that the Papisticall kirk and jurisdiction should have no place within the same, and no Bishop nor other Prelate in times comming should use any jurisdiction flowing from his authority.

And againe, that no other Ecclesiasticall Iurisdiction should be acknowledged within this Realm, but that which is, and shall be in the reformed Kirk, and flowing therfrom.

So we esteem holding of Chapiters in Papisticall manner, either in Cathedrall Kirks, Abbeyes, Colledges, or other conventuall places, usurping the name and authority of the Kirk, to hurt the patrimony therof, or use any other Act to the prejudice of the same, since the yeare of our Lord 1560 yeares, to be abuse and corruption, contrary to the liberty of the true Kirk, and lawes of the Realme, and therefore ought to be annulled, reduced, and in times comming utterly discharged.

The dependances also of the papisticall jurisdiction are to be abolished, of the which sort is mingled jurisdiction of the commissars, in so farr as they meddle with Ecclesiasticall matters, and have no commission of the kirk thereto, but were elected in time of our Soveraignes mother, when things were out of order. It is an absurd thing that sundry of them having no function of the Kirk, should be judges to ministers, and depose them from their {88} roomes. Therfore they either would be discharged to medle with Ecclesiastical matters, or it would be limited to them in what matters they might be iudges, and not hurt the libertie of the kirk.

They also that of before were of the Ecclesiastique estate in the Popes kirk, or that are admitted of new to the papisticall titles, and now are tollerate by the lawes of the realme to possesse the two-part of their ecclesiasticall rents, ought not to have any further liberty, but to intromet with the portion assigned and granted to them for their lifetimes, and not under the abused titles which they had to dispon the kirk rents, set tackes and fewes thereof at their pleasure, to the great hurt of the kirk and poore labourers, that dwell upon the kirk lands, contrarie to all good conscience and order.

CHAP. 12.

Certain ſpeciall heads of reformation which we crave.

VVHatſoever hath been spoken of the offices of the kirke, the severall power of the officebearers, their conjunct power also, and last of the patrimonie of the kirk, wee understand it to be the right reformation, which God craves at our hands, that the kirk be ordered according thereto, as with that order, which is most agreeable to the word.

But because something would be touched in particular, concerning the estate of the countrey, and that which we principally seek to be reformed in the same, we have collected them in these heads following.

Seeing the whole countrey is divided in provinces, and thir provinces again are divided in parishes, as well in land-ward, as in townes; in every parish and reasonable congregation there would be placed one or moe pastors to feed the flock, and no pastor or minister alwaies to be burdened with the particular charge of moe kirks or flockes then one alanerly.

And because it will be thought hard to finde out Pastors or Ministers to all the paroch kirks of the Realm, as well in Landward, as in Townes, we think by the advice of such, as commission may be given to by the Kirk and Prince, parishes in landward or small villages, may be joyned two or three or more, in some places to-ther, and the principall and most commodious kirks to stand, and be repaired sufficiently, and qualified Ministers placed thereat; and the other Kirks, which are not found necessary, may be suffered to decay, their kirk-yards alwaies being kept for buryall places, and in some places where need requires a Parish, where the Congregation is over great for one kirk, may be divided in twa or moe.

Doctors would be appointed in Vniversities, Colledges, and in other places needfull, and sufficiently provided for, to open up the {89} meaning of the Scriptures, and to have the charge of Schooles, and teach the rudiments of Religion.

As for Elders there would be some to be censurers of the manners of the people, one or moe in every Congregation, but not an Assembly of Elders in every particular kirk, but onely in townes, and famous places, where resort of men of judgement and abilitie to that effect may be had, where the Elders of the particular kirks about may convene together, and have a common Eldership, and assembly place among them, to treat of all things that concernes the Congregations of which they have the oversight.

And as there ought to be men appointed to unite and divide the Parishes, as necessity and commodity requires: So would there be appointed by the generall Kirk, with assent of the Prince, such men as feare God, and know the estates of the Countries, that were able to nominate and designe the places, where the particular Elderships should convene, taking consideration of the Diocesse, as they were divided of old, and of the estate of the Countries, and provinces of the Realme.

Likewise concerning Provinciall and Synodall Assemblies consideration were easie to be taken, how many and in what places they were to be holden, and how oft they should convene, ought to be referred to the liberty of the generall Kirk, and order to be appointed therein.

The Nationall Assemblies of this Countrey, called commonly the Generall Assemblies, ought alwayes to be reteined in their own liberty, and have their own place.

With power to the kirk to appoint times and places convenient for the same, & all men, as well Magistrats, as inferiours to be subject to the judgement of the same in Ecclesiasticall causes, without any reclamation or appellation to any Iudge, civill or ecclesiasticall within the Realm.

The libertie of the election of persons called to the Ecclesiasticall functions, and observed without interruption, so long as the kirk was not corrupted by antichrist, we desire to be restored and reteined within this Realm.

So that none be intrused upon any Congregation, either by the Prince, or any inferiour person, without lawfull election, and the assent of the people over whom the person is placed, as the practise of the Apostolical and Primitive Kirk, and good order craves.

And because this order, which Gods word craves, cannot stand with patronages and presentation to benefices used in the Popes kirk, we desire all them, that truely feare God, earnestly to consider, that for as much as the names of patronages and benefices together {90} with the effect therof have flowed from the Pope, and corruption of the Canon law onely, in so farr as thereby any person was intrused or placed over kirkes having Curam animarum [care of souls].

And for as much as that manner of proceeding hath no ground in the word of God, but is contrary to the same, and to the said liberty of Election, they ought not now to have place in this light of Reformation. And therfore, whosoever wil embrace Gods word, and desire the kingdome of his Son Christ Iesus to be advanced, they will also embrace, and receive that policie and order which the word of God, and upright estate of his kirk craves, otherwise it is in vaine that they have profest the same.

Notwithstanding as concerning other patronages of benefices that have not curam animarum, as they speak: such as are chaplenries, prebendaries founded upon temporall lands, annuels, and such like, may be reserved unto the ancient Patrones, to dispone hereupon, when they vaike, to schollers and bursers, as they are required by act of Parliament.

As for the kirk rents in generall we desire that order be admitted and maintained amongst us, that may stand with the sincerity of Gods word, and practise of the purity of the Kirk of Christ.

To wit, that as was before spoken, the whole rent and patrimony of the Kirk, excepting the small patronages before mentioned, may be divided in foure portions: one thereof to be assigned to the Pastor for his entertainment, and hospitality; an other to the Elders, Deacons and other offices of the Kirk, such as clerks of Assemblies, takers up of the Psalmes, Beadels and keepers of the kirk, so farre as is necessarie: Ioyning with them also the Doctors, & Schooles, to help the ancient foundations where need requires: the third portion to be bestowed upon the poore members of the faithfull, and hospitals: the fourth for reparation of the Kirks, and other extraordinary charges as are profitable for the kirk, and also for the common-wealth, if need require.

We desire therefore the Ecclesiasticall goods to be uplifted, and distributed faithfully to whom they appertaine, and that by the ministerie of the Deacons, to whose office properly the collection and distribution therof belongs, that the poore may be answered of their portion thereof, and they of the Ministery live without care and solicitude: as also the rest of the treasurie of the kirk may be reserved, and bestowed to their right uses.

If these Deacons be elected with such qualities as Gods word craves to be in them, there is no feare, that they shall abuse themselves in their office, as the prophane Collector did of before.

Yet because this vocation appeares to many to be dangerous, let them be oblished, as they were of old, to a yearely count to {91} the Pastors and Eldership, and if the Kirk and Prince think expedient, let cautioners be oblished for their fidelity, that the kirk rents on na wayes be dilapidat.

And to the effect this order may take place, it is to be provided that all other intrometters with the Kirk rent, Collectors general or speciall, whether it be by appointment of the Prince, or otherwaies, may be denuded of further intromission therewith, and suffer the Kirk rents in time comming to be wholly intrometted with by the ministry of the Deacons, and distribute to the use before mentioned.

And also to the effect, that the ecclesiasticall rents may suffice to these uses, for the which they are to be appointed: We thinke it necessary to be desired, that all alienations, setting of fewes, or tacks of the rents of the Kirk, as well lands as teinds, in hurt and diminution of the old rentals, be reduced and annulled, and the patrimony of the Kirk restored to the former old liberty.

And likewise, that in times comming the teinds [tithes] be set to nane, but to the labourers of the ground, or else not set at all, as was agreed upon, and subscribed by the nobility of before.

CHAP. 13.

The utilitie that ſhall flow from this reformation

to all Estates.

SEing the end of this spirituall government and policie, whereof we speak, is, that God may be glorified, the kingdome of Iesus Christ advanced, and all who are of his mysticall body, may live peaceable in conscience: Therfore we dare boldly affirme, that all these who have true respect to these ends, will even for conscience cause gladly agree and conforme themselves to this order, and advance the same, so farre as lyeth in them, that their conscience being set at rest, they may be replenished with spirituall gladnesse in giving full obedience to that which Gods word, and the testimony of their own conscience doth crave, and refusing all corruption contrary to the same.

Next we shall become an example and patterne of good and godly order to other nations, countries, and Kirkes professing the same Religion with us, that as they have glorified God in our continuing in the sincerity of the Word hitherto, without any errours, praise be to his name. So they may have the like occasion in our conversation, when as we conforme our selves to that discipline, pollicie, and good order, which the same Word, and purity of reformation craveth at our hands. Otherwise that fearfull sentence may be justly said to us, The servant knowing the will of his Maister, and not doing it, &c. [Luke 12.47.] {92}

Moreover, if we have any piety or respect to the poore members of Iesus Christ, who so greatly increase and multiply amongst us, we will not suffer them to be longer defrauded of that part of the patrimony of the kirk, which justly belongs unto them, and by this order, if it be duely put to execution, the burden of them shall be taken off us to our great comfort, the streets shall be cleansed of the cryings and murmurrings of them, as we shall no more be any skandall to other Nations, as we have hitherto been for not taking order with the poore amongst us, and causing the word which we professe to be evill spoken off, giving occasion of sklander to the enemies, and offending the consciences of the simple and godly.

Besides this, it shall be a great ease and commodity to the whole common people, in relieving them of the building and upholding their kirks, in bigging of brigges and other like publique workes: to the labourers of the ground in payment of their teinds, and shortly in all these things, whereinto they have been hitherto rigorously handled by them that were falsly called kirkemen, their tacksmen, factours, chalmerlanes and extortioners.

Finally, to the Kings Majestie, and common-wealth of the countrey this profite shall redound, That the other affaires of the kirk being sufficiently provided, according to the distribution of the which hath been spoken: the superplus being collected in the treasurie of the Kirk may be profitably imployed, and liberally bestowed upon the extraordinary support of the affaires of the Prince and Common-wealth, and specially of that part which is appointed for reparation of kirks.

So to conclude, all being willing to apply themselves to this order, the people suffering themselves to be ruled according thereto; the Princes and Magistrates not being exemed, and these that are placed in the Ecclesiasticall estate rightly ruling and governing, God shall be glorified, the Kirk edified, and the bounds thereof inlarged, Christ Iesus and his Kingdome set up, Satan and his kingdome subverted, and God shall dwell in the midst of us, to our comfort, through Iesus Christ, who together with the Father and the Holy Ghost, abides blessed in all eternity, Amen.